Listening to Brian Andreas’ Voices

If you were to stand in the doorway of my room, you would first look forward and see a big window, dying plant, and a cheap rug. Then you’d look to the left to find my bed, dresser, piano, another cheap rug, and pretty much everything else. You wouldn’t notice much to the right of the doorway because really, there’s only a wall. Not until you walked into my room would you give this wall a second glance. And only then would you notice the one picture hanging on it: a story by Brain Andreas.

Brian Andreas’s “stories” seem more like poems, but nowhere does he deem them so. He also combines each story with illustrations that seem to exist as extensions of the stories. In his fifth book, Hearing Voices Volume 5: Collected Stories & Drawings, Andreas explains that his stories, whether good or bad, come from truly listening to others and to himself. I feel I have taken Andreas’ advice and have truly listened to his story, and as a result, have a better understanding of my stories and those around me.

My first encounter with an Andreas story was through social media. One of my friends posted his story, “Small World:”

“We sat in the car & the night dropped down until the only sounds were the crickets & the dance of our voices & for a moment the world became small enough to roll back & forth between us.”

I felt connected to his words right after reading them. I knew that setting and those sounds and that feeling, but I had never (and would never) be able to articulate such things in the way Andreas does. After figuring out who Andreas is, I found the book to which “Small World” belonged (Hearing Voices) and immediately purchased it. As I read through, I realized that just as much as he told stories of the good, he also told stories of the bad. Somehow, Andreas transformed sad or discouraging topics into stories I found beautiful, making me realize that even our bad stories contain some good.

As a well-trained English major would, I often analyze; however, all too often my analysis skills translate into my every day life. When confronted with a problem, I analyze to find a pattern, which usually helps me find a solution. The problem is, sometimes life doesn’t provide a solution. Andreas understands this, and by listening to his stories, so now do I. Instead of becoming discouraged, I can take a deep breath, know I tried hard, and appreciate all the stories that exist—my own and others, the good and the bad.

 

 

Transformation through The Written Word: An Interview with Arin Andrews

Arin Andrews is a transgender advocate, mountain-climbing extraordinaire, and student at Oklahoma State University. He’s also the author of Some Assembly Required, a memoir that expounds upon his experience as a transgender youth. On his Facebook page, you may find pictures of his climbing adventures, road trips, and loved ones.

His courageous and free spirit was apparent during our interview. Knowing he wrote a memoir, and myself majoring in English, I wanted to ask him about his own experience with literature and its influence in his life.

Source: facebook.com

Andrews’ first experience with literature in relation to his transition opened his mother’s mind.

“I got online and found accredited information, put it in a binder, and gave it to my mom. I was pretty analytical about it,” he said.

Andrews said in that moment, he hoped to convince his mom of the significance and realness of his feelings. Soon after, his mom would encourage him to take advantage of a particular opportunity– composing his memoir, Some Assembly Required.

Andrews admitted his struggle writing and showed appreciation for his ghostwriter. He spoke of the significance of writing and sharing his memoir.

“I now have a lot of respect for people who write … and personally, I think [literature] has a lot of impact. It’s one thing that doesn’t go away.”

amazon.com

Andrews’ memoir was published in 2014, but I wanted to understand the impact literature and writing has created on his life three years later.

“I prefer nonfiction over fiction … and poetry over prose,” said Andrews, explaining the reasons behind his current reading list, which includes a few mountain-climbing guides and Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey.

At the present, Andrews studies Recreational Management and Adventure Studies, stemmed from his mountaineering passion. He does not only read literature about these topics, but he writes about them, too.

Andrews said he’s inspired to write “after big events or big trips,” which mainly includes his trips to mountaintops.

Andrews said these trips allow him to introspect, “I try to be a better person than I was yesterday, and it’s nice to have a written timeline to go back and appreciate and learn from and see how far I’ve come.”

As evidenced by Andrews’ life, literature and the written word opens our minds and allows us to share, connect, attain important information, and better ourselves. And thank you, Arin, for reminding us that these ideas exist not only as important themes for authors to discuss or audiences to read, but for us, as humans part of a bigger whole, to live by.

Finding a Career as an English Major

If you’re like me (and most other college students), you’ve struggled with deciding on a major. I came into college nervous about my declared Pre-Optometry/Biology major because I knew it wasn’t quite what I wanted to study. Now, I am a much happier English major. The problem I faced was not knowing where my interests and skill-set best combined. When I changed my major to English, it still didn’t feel right. My analysis skills allowed me to excel in English, but I didn’t want to be a writer, and I didn’t want to be a teacher. I didn’t know any other possible jobs prospects. After discussing my dilemma with English colleagues, though, I finally found my niche in the sub-genre of editing.

Source: The Odyssey Online

Of course, everyone’s process is different, but if you’re an English major, or considering to be one, then allow me to help you figure out your niche in this sometimes fuzzy study.  While I am not at all an expert, my hopes are that this post can be a guide of sorts to help you recognize and utilize your English skills and interests.

I’ve listed four areas an English major can pursue. Find the one (or more) that matches up with the skills/interests you like best! Maybe all four sound interesting to you.

1.Writers (Creative Writer, Poet, Blogger, etc.):
Writing, researching, creativity.

Maybe there’s a book you’ve always wanted to read, but hasn’t been written. Maybe you’re really great at writing greeting cards.

via GIPHY

2.Teachers (High school, TESL, etc.):
Interacting with others, sharing knowledge, reading, proofreading.

You can be the person that molds a young mind into another English major, or you can help young children in a foreign country conquer linking verbs.

3. Professors:
Research, reading, writing, sharing knowledge, interacting with others, presenting/public speaking.

Because who doesn’t want to be able to discuss Dr. Seuss as high literature? There’s a class for almost anything these days.

Source: University Primetime

4. Editors (Blog editors, book editors, copy editors, etc):
Analyzing, reading, organizing, proofreading, researching.

If you’re the friend that always corrects everyone else, maybe this path is for you.

None of these professions are straightforward. If you decide you want to teach, you could become a high school English teacher or teach English as a second language in a foreign country – two very different experiences. So if you find that your interests and skills fit in with one of these, I’ll leave it up to you to do your research. Otherwise, I hope you are one more step closer to a career full of opportunity, hard work, and big dreams!

Below are a few helpful websites:
Dear English Major blog
Standford University
Top Universities.com