frightening visions

imagine the horror on your face 

stoic, dignified and frightened

not because of the world around you

but because of the world around you

the manipulative paranormal visions

upon which the masses praise and allocate

a brutal combination of sorrows and glories

there lies the last remnant of a bygone horror

right and left-winged luminaries becoming

friends?

casually exchanging hand-shakes in the

televised scenes of bipartisanship and lent

visions, improbable creations

horrifying nullifying vilifying 

 

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Who woke up the neighborhood

Oh, flashing street lights, breakfast alarms

Sidewalks, streams, and dirty ponds,

Parked cars, wrecked mailboxes, and rain;

What nostalgic paradise have you all escaped to?

The neighborhood remembers these things, the

Jogging neighbors and babies crying, the

Driveway basketball games, and yoga, the

Yard work, clean grass

Days before the neighborhood

Forgot itself.

Three generations of families past over

The train tracks, to somewhere else.

The yellow school-buses no longer turn

Into our little community

They’ve forgotten us, or

We’ve all grown up,

But someone woke up the neighborhood,

All the Halloween decorations have disappeared,

Into the basement.

The house lights are shut through day and night

The trick-or-treaters from other neighborhoods

Have forgotten our humble street.

The cars that travel through us

Are always wandering, lost, but never

Ask for directions,

And we never see them leave.

The homes lining the road are trapped in that

Twilight zone between

Hopeless irrelevancy and haunted-house status.

The streams have run dry,

The rain fills them not when it

Drizzles or storms,

I like to think all the neighbors whisked away

One night, to another distant pastoral,

Leaving us behind without a word,

But I know they’ve all just woken up,

And moved on.

Nice Words

Newspaper headlines from alley-gangs:

Explosive sadomasochism is legal in most United States

Perversion never made sense to me, too off-the-wall

Too counterproductive and benign to our foreign policy

(If foreign is really just your consensual partner, and policy

Is whatever you decide to do in your free time, wherever)

Too immature – back when that phrase was sensible –

Too slack-faced and long-jawed

Yodeling should be a socially acceptable hobby

But if you enjoy it what’s the point?

Hobbyists deserve neverworldly praise in sight of achieving

What all humans strive for: performing, acting upon, living off

Your greatest desires.

Live for the moment until it escapes you, then find another moment

And jump on it.

I find it hard to believe the greatest artists (sobjectively speaking)

Didn’t throw shit against the walls for years and years,

Waiting for the right color to shine.

I’ve heard most writers act the same

Backspacing as often as they space, when in all honesty

Their deletions deserve a presence, somewhere,

In a cavern, where tourists can visit

When they’ve run out of moments,

And desires to accost, and the price of

Admission becomes their human souls.

Coin-flip

Pick a side
Right or left heads or tails the coin flies and 
You decide
Whether the three-headed coin lands or at all
Two sides, three sides, four?
Five times six times seven 
Eight eagles glide 
Nine songbirds grace the
Atmosphere with chance
Potential
Uncertainty
Broad dilemmas ambiguous but creative
Everything's (un)certain in a coin flip


Lessons From Our Independence Day

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While we’re busy celebrating the Fourth of July, I’d like to take this moment to remind everyone that this 237th anniversary of our great United States’ creation wouldn’t be possible without the brave and daring efforts of our Founding Fathers. They stood up, they demanded change, and they got it.

If you care about the direction that this country is headed in, you too should make yourself heard: if you have a voice, speak it; if you have a desire, reach for it; if you have an idea, spread it; if you have a dream, make it happen. This country was built on the backs of dreamers. Only with courage and strength equal to that of our Fathers can we achieve everything we set out to achieve. That’s the real lesson from our Independence Day.

Anyone from any nationality or background can put their stake in that.

Worldly

world

The world is made of matter

Matter made of atoms

And atoms are made of themselves

 

The world is home to life

Which demands self-satisfaction

Leaving traces of the alive and dead.

 

The world is home to chaos

Chaos full of fear and hatred

And riotous greed with dedication

 

The world is home to peace

Peace as an absolutely goal

The releasing of pain and pleasure

 

The world is home to order

Order reaching nowhere and everywhere

The authoritarians thrive.

 

The world is home to the world

And without a home no one really lives

And without life, there’s no world.

 

So I guess everything depends

Upon each other’s jobs, responsibilities

In order to create the complicated ecosystem

We call Earth

But know as home.

Story of the Week: “The Awakening”

Hello fellow bloggers! I ought to stop calling it Story of the Week if I haven’t been writing an entry every week, right? It’s a catchy title, though, and it’s fun too.

Today, I will take a look at The Awakening by Kate Chopin. As a feminist and proud supporter of women’s rights, this novel strikes a chord in me. Published in 1899, it functions as a wondrous starting point for the literary theory of feminism, as well. Feminist studies, as they developed and grew in prominence through the 20th century, owe some of their significance to Chopin, whose novel attracts readers of all perspectives through its strong protagonist in Edna Pontellier. However, it would be a crime against the novel’s intrinsic greatness to study it solely as a piece of feminist criticism. With that said, I will be discussing The Awakening as a psychological piece, as the psychological side of the novel tends to also attract readers.

After the break, I will begin with some feminist criticism.

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The Awakening‘s protagonist, Edna Pontellier, is the focus of the novel, as she partakes in an internal journey to “awaken” from the social structures that she, and thus by relation women of her time, have suffered through by the  patriarchy. Thus, the narrative largely focuses on Edna’s journey of enlightenment, and how she reaches that point. Ultimately, the way in which she becomes enlightened makes the story so sensational and intriguing. The plot details add to the social commentary that Chopin is arguing.

Edna first moves to New Orleans with the hopes of escaping a familiar structure that would normally force her to live and survive on a farm for the rest of her life in Kentucky. She realizes that that kind of life is not ideal for her, so she makes a change. She marries Leonce Pontellier, a man whose social status attracts her. In reality, Edna harbored no love for her husband, Leonce, and wanted to escape the monotony of Kentucky in the only surefire way.

By the middle of the novel, Edna is experiencing some mental difficulties, so to speak. Leonce begins to worry for his wife, who begins to distance herself from New Orleans culture and society. While New Orleans is usually depicted as a partying place with happiness and carelessness abounding, the novel takes a secondary perspective of the city. In a similar way that Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire analyzes New Orleans, The Awakening focuses on the outskirts of the city, and the depression that comes from underneath. Edna begins her transformation here, while she distances from society. It is while she is away from the world that she realizes how much control society has in enforcing its norms and standards. Thus, Edna serves as a feminist icon for trying to alter the societal corruption of females.

Edna undergoes a series of tests that ultimately serve as stepping stones on her journey of enlightenment. Most importantly, Edna learns to swim. By learning to swim she is learning to survive in a world separate from society, the natural world. Edna’s ultimate ending once again pays attention to Edna’s learning to swim earlier in the novel. It is a sort of reciprocal ending, but even the most uninsightful of readers can realize that her suicide of sorts is a symbolic way for her to finally escape society, through water and nature. By drowning at the end, Edna manages to escape the patriarchy. Otherwise, she would not have been able to live the way she wanted to, which was her “feminist goal.” Being able to do whatever she would want to would prove to the reader that she has achieved freedom and equality. However, Edna realizes that it’s impossible for her to achieve that desired freedom. For one of the first feminist novels, Chopin really shines and illuminates the struggle that late-19th century had to endure to achieve basic human rights, the kind of rights that white men have had for centuries.

One of the biggest conflicts for Edna involves her marriage to Leonce. Originally, she had married Leonce to escape Kentucky and head to a more lively place where she could live a vibrant, free life among the party-people of New Orleans. Unfortunately, her ties to Leonce burden her ability to be free. She first experiments with a known-womanizer named Alcee while Leonce is on a business trip in New York. At this time, Edna wishes to experience the different kinds of love available to her. One of the most important aspects of being free, she believes, is the freedom to love. Her marriage impedes that freedom. Marriage, a social custom, impedes Edna’s sexual desires. Whether she is justified or not may come up for debate, but on the feminist interpretation of the novel, Edna should be able to experiment how she likes such that she can defy the dominant, patriarchal, systematic society that controls her every move. Would a man be punished equally for the same crime? Even the partying atmosphere of New Orleans doesn’t seem to promote her freedom, as her friend Adele, who represents a sort of societal conscience for Edna, denies she meet Alcee, who has hooked up with just about every other girl in the city.

A better question to ask in this situation is, do Edna’s restrictions and limitations reveal a greater problem for female equality? In the late-19th century, women were forced into roles, while men were able to choose their destinies, so to speak. Women were bred to be mothers and caretakers, stay-at-home parents who raised their children and made their husbands happy. Edna is a proper example of a female lead who neglects that role, and searches diligently for a new one in New Orleans. The character of Edna Pontellier played a large role in establishing different gender roles for women in the United States. While The Awakening was censored upon publication for its stark portrayal of a strong female protagonist who defied the roles she was intended to fit into, it became a popular hit regardless of its censorship.

Another important question to ask regarding the novel would be: For how long has female sexual desire been revealed and explained so openly? In America, the answer is simple: since Kate Chopin. In her short story “The Storm,” Chopin pays further attention to sexual desire in women. Previously, both male and female authors tried to limit their depictions of females desiring anything aside from the pleasure and happiness of their husband and children. Is that fair? Not really. For years and years, authors of all origins have written freely about male sexual desire. The Awakening seeks to awaken America, and the world at large, and show them that females can crave and lust for things just as freely and openly as men. At the time, the novel was considered unethical and immoral. Now? The times have changed, and a new appreciation for The Awakening has developed. The times have certainly changed since Chopin’s era.

170px-The_Awakening_Chopin

Next in the story, Edna meets Robert Lebrun, the true source of her “awakenings.” In Robert, she sees something unique and charming. Robert represents what she really, truly desires outside the realm of marriage. Robert presents a tough task for Edna, to decide what she wants in life. From there, she awakens. Her enlightenment begins from meeting Robert and partaking in sexual relations with him. Those relations intensify as her awakenings become more apparent and real; the paralleling of these two is intentional. The more Edna meets with Robert, the more she neglects her children as well. Is it okay to neglect your children, even if it is to prove a point?

At this point, in my opinion, Chopin begins to shine as a writer. Her style really takes shapes as she describes the massively changing feelings which Edna experiences. Edna’s complications with her marriage and Robert add for great content to write about, especially as Chopin’s lyrical narration shows it all. If you are interested in a unique narrative style, Chopin’s The Awakening is worth the read. While reading, I felt as if the author really enjoyed what she was writing about, as if the social issue of gender injustice was clawing at her throat for so long and the only way to present her argument came in the form of a creative novel. And what an argument she presented! So incendiary that it caused censorship upon its initial publication!

While Edna’s relationship with Robert escalates, she is visited by her dear friend, Adele, who I mentioned earlier. Adele clearly symbolizes the perfect female ideal of that time period. Despite their friendship, Adele and Edna butt heads in direction. While Adele cares for her husband and children, Edna would prefer to stay with Robert, and pretend they never existed. It makes for a great side-conflict, and by the end of the novel the side-conflict comes to the forefront of the plot. Adele and Edna are clear symbols, in this case, which Chopin must enjoy manipulating through her intricate plot of self-discovery and awakening.

Robert eventually flees to Mexico, under the guise of a business opportunity. He is a hard-working businessman and, at times, he must leave on a whim and pursue such ventures. However, unbeknownst to Edna, Robert uses the business opportunity as an excuse to leave New Orleans, as he sees their relationship as a failed endeavor because of Edna’s marriage. Meanwhile, with Adele telling her to conform and Robert gone for the foreseeable future, Edna turns to Mademoiselle Reisz, who is receiving letters from Robert. Reisz serves as an ideal for Edna to strive for, as a foil to Adele. Reisz plays music, acts freely, and enjoys life. Eventually, Reisz reveals to Edna her letters…and in them, Robert proclaims that he is still thinking about Edna! What a surprise!

With renewed hope, Edna perseveres. Eventually, Robert returns. At the same time, Adele is having a baby in the hospital. While Robert proclaims his love for Edna, Adele is going through the final stages of childbirth. Robert explains to Edna why he left her, but then Edna is called to by a letter from Adele. She leaves Robert and visits Adele at the hospital, as she had promised she would do. Edna returns home to find Robert gone, with a letter telling her that he has left forever.

Then, she swims out to the Gulf of Mexico and drowns in the same waters she had awakened from earlier in the story. Tragic ending! Does this decision promote the idea that there is no room for a free, independent woman in that society? Does it promote depression, tragedy, and conformity? Ultimately, I believe that the ending serves as a glimmer of hope. Obviously, Chopin used the setting for Edna’s first awakening to show a sort of reciprocal turn of events. The hope comes from Edna, who is now free from the world. Although she is dead, she successfully managed to escape everything she wanted to escape from. Adele would no longer want her around, and the love of her life had disappeared forever as well. It’s a tragic ending, but it leads to, in my opinion, a mature decision on Edna’s part to finally escape the world she so wanted to live without. Does that decision make her weak, or strong?

Now, there are many symbols, aside from the characters, that are worth talking about in this novel. Throughout the story, the narrator relates Edna to that of a white bird. That bird flies freely above the world, above society, and does what it pleases. At the onset, Edna is compared to a bird that is imprisoned. If the bird is able to escape the prison, it can fulfill its dreams. However, while stuck in that prison, the bird cannot fly, nor can it move or interact with others. Even at the start, while Edna follows her family through Kentucky, she is tied down by social constraints. She escapes Kentucky only to be put into a larger cage, in a marriage with Leonce. Has she escaped? No, not yet. In her house, away from family, Edna keeps birds of her own. She is visited by birds, too. The influx of avians and more seems to prove that the protagonist really dreams of becoming just like them. Or perhaps she is one of them, but is limited by a broken wing, thus making her weak?

When Edna commits suicide by drowning, she uses courage to do the deed. However, as she passes downward into the depths of the sea, the narrator says: “A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water.” The bird, in this case Edna, has perished completely.

This story is truly intense and worth reading yourself. I hope my post here has helped you all understand the story better, or has convinced you to pick it up. Until next time, friends!

Eagle Eyes

eagle-eye

 

Omniscient eyes like those of eagles

judging glances and backward stares

mirroring like eagles would in the air

energetic and serene quickness, alacrity

with intelligence, hubris and humility,

modesty in the multicolored feathers soaring

like airplanes at night, under the cover of

Dusk and the darkness associated with it.

 

Words flung across sidewalks to loiterers

Relaxing with their backs arched sideways

in lazy poses mimicking each other

praising the gods of technology and machinery

for their kindness and grace for granting the

undeserving the power of omniscience,

the eyes of an eagle, controlling the natural

like a tailor to a spool of cloth.

Story of the Week: “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”

Hello everyone!

Today, I will be talking about one of my personal favorite classics in Huck Finn. What a book! Also, I apologize for not posting much. I’ve had too much to do recently, with finals approaching and preparation for summer (job hunting, internship searching, etc.) occupying my time. I’ve spent a lot of my time on this blog preparing this post. I love this book, and I hope you will appreciate it more after reading this!

Now, I want to mention that this book is highly controversial. It features the n-word over 200 times throughout. However, it reveals the racial ignorance and delusion in the antebellum American South in a unique and revealing way. It uses satire and seriousness to show this point, which is common of Mark Twain, the author. Racial ignorance and stereotyping was everywhere in the American South during this period. The genius of the book is in the way in which the author reveals said ignorance, through the incredibly compelling main character. 

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Clearly, Huck Finn is an American classic, similar to the Great Gatsby, which I talked about last week. And while the ending may depreciate the overall quality of the novel, the rest of it remains endearing and intellectual all the same for readers to enjoy. One of my old English teachers used to say: if you turn your brain off for the last part of the novel, you’d enjoy it a lot more than if you had it on.

Alright, no more ranting about the unfavorable ending! Time to provide background!

Mark Twain, if you haven’t heard the name or read his fiction before, also called Samuel Clemens in some parts of America, is a true gem of satire and fiction. Much of his work comes – or at least is partly inspired – from the experiences of his own life, growing up in the 19th century in America in Mississippi. Twain was upset with the world as he was writing. Although he grew increasingly cynical as he aged, it came from his dissatisfaction with the state of public opinion. He saw Huck Finn as a novel capable of changing American society for the better, towards more racial acceptance, and towards a more negative and cynical view of the era he lived in. Unfortunately, the societal change would come posthumously. Twain wrote Huck Finn with all the intention in the world of creating the Great American Novel. Did he achieve it? I’d say he did.

In my opinion, much of the greatness of the novel comes from its perceived innocence and adventure at the inset and its intellectual enlightenment and fulfillment by the outset.

The story is about young-but-ignorant Huck Finn, previously seen (chronologically speaking) in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He enters a physical, mental, and moral journey that takes him from Mississippi to the Deep South of antebellum America. Most critics, including myself, see Huck Finn as a classic tale of a young character losing his/her naivety and innocence as he explores a mature, ever-changing world.

At the onset, Huck is part of a religious, theological world. He is under custody by the widow. Although she is well-meaning, she controls him and his development, ensuring he follows the (somewhat corrupt) morals of the world. Twain is a notoriously hard critic of organized religion, and expresses that through Huck’s orphan parents here. Ultimately, Twain is a satirist so it’s important to remember that whilst reading. Of course, if you are sensitive about the effects that organized religion had on the “justification” for slavery in the South, I recommend taking Twain’s points lightly.

The plot of Huck Finn is truly its highlight, in my opinion. Although The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird are renowned by critics for their “loss of innocence” stories, I believe that Huck Finn is the greatest example that American literature can provide. While the story is primarily about Huck and the slave Jim, it talks to the entirety of social change and development in the 19th century.

In an unfortunate turn of events, Huck Finn’s father returns when he discovers that Huck has a lot of money stored in the bank, and wants to claim it at his legal, rightful guardian. The unfortunate part is that his father is an alcoholic child-abuser, and will soon be taking Huck away from his guardians (who weren’t necessarily the best kind of people in hindsight, but kept Huck “civilized” and “stable” while he was with them). Huck didn’t want to be civilized by his guardians anymore, but he also didn’t want to necessarily return to his father, who only wanted him for his money. Thus, he devised a plan to escape from his father and exploit his drunken tendencies. As he escaped from the small hut/house that his father built by a stream, away from civilization, Huck triumphed by outsmarting him. A rite of passage!

He escapes to Jackson’s Island, where he stumbles upon someone who will change his life forever – and no, not a future romantic interest. Huck Finn’s previous guardians owned a slave named Jim, who had a family but was removed from it by the people who bought him. Of course, Huck Finn stumbles upon Jim. Huck was always taught by his guardians that slaves were lesser people. They shouldn’t be trusted, respected, or talked to. But, because of his innocence and supposed “immaturity” and “uncivilized” nature, Huck looks past those thoughts and thinks of Jim as a human being. Thus, the story of Huck Finn is under way.

And that’s only the beginning. From there, it only gets better (until the ending) and from there, you see the relationship of a “dumb, stupid, uncivilized boy” named Huck Finn and a “dumb, stupid, uneducated slave” named Jim develop into respect, admiration, and bonding. The moral circumstances of this friendship are profound. Mark Twain’s point lies in the fact that the only person capable of seeing the truth, the enlightenment of things, is a young immature uncivilized boy who can barely read and write. It is when one is resistant to the education that culture and society demands of a “civilized” boy that you begin to break the mold. And Huck Finn certainly breaks many molds as he travels down a river, on a raft, with a slave.

As Jim and Huck travel down the river, they plan to take the Ohio River back up to free territory. Unfortunately that doesn’t work out for them, as they miss the spot they needed to go to. Instead, they end up traveling down the Mississippi River into the Deep South. During the day, Jim needs to hide. He is a slave who Huck’s previous guardians and town officials are looking for. Huck’s father is looking for him. Everyone’s looking for something, and they need to stay safe. When it’s nighttime, they are free to roam. This is a symbolic contrast, present in the novel because of Twain’s brilliant satirical background.

The novel is dominated by symbolic contrasts. Along with the contrast of night and day, civilization and nature are also significant. As the shade of night protects the duo from harm and being caught, so also does the river. The Mississippi River is Huck’s protective parent. The sides of the river, which are inhabited by towns and people, are dangerous. The river, which is an embodiment of nature, instinct, and impulse, is kind. Keeping in mind that the book was written before naturalism became a study, this is a pretty profound development. Although naturalists believed that nature is unforgiving, unpredictable, and ruthlessly uncontrollable, the roots of the study lie in Huck Finn, in my opinion, because of the great attention that Twain places on nature.

Huckleberry-Finn

Huck notices these contrasts and adapts to his environment very quickly. While he’s around robbers and felons, he’s quick on his feet. There’s one instance early into the novel where Huck and Jim encounter a sinking boat on the side of the river. As they look closer, there’s three thieves in there debating their shares of the rewards and money they just stole. Meanwhile, the ship is sinking. They don’t realize that. Huck does. Huck also realizes that Jim needs to be safe, so he leaves the ship when he can’t find Jim there. This small story is another example of Twain’s indictments of human behavior. These thieves may be cunning, but not particularly bright. They lack common sense. Huck, on the other hand, is cunning, but also realizes that he’s going to sink with the ship if he doesn’t get off soon.

Another example of Huck thinking quickly on his feet occurs when some local town officers try to examine his raft. There’s a tent in it, and Jim hides in there. Huck doesn’t want the officers to reach Jim, by no means. For that reason, he can’t have them search the small tent he’s in. So, in classic Huck fashion, he claims that his family is in the tent, and that they have smallpox. He says it’s very contagious, and that he might have it too, so it’s best they leave the raft and not catch it from him or his family. Genius.

This is the kind of maturation that Huck needs, and it’s ultimately what he gets throughout the journey. While his guardians wanted to teach him reading and writing, he wanted to go into nature, into the world. He’s realistic, understanding, and mature, though. At the end of the novel, the reader understands that no one else really shares in Huck’s realistic maturity. Huck is uniquely intelligent yet uncivilized.

Although I’ve disparaged the ending of Huck Finn quite a lot so far, I did enjoy Huck’s eventual revelation. He abandons Tom Sawyer.

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, we see a host of random fantasy out-of-this-world adventures courtesy of the Romantic hero, Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain denied and disliked the Romantic movement of the early 19th century. He disliked it so much that, in Huck Finn, he has the main character, who by now is seen as someone capable of understanding and acting upon complex moral situations at such a young age, defy Romanticism completely. He does so by abandoning Tom Sawyer, the Romantic hero. While it is arguable that Tom is a complete, all-encompassing Romantic hero (I’d hardly give him the title ‘hero’ to begin), he certainly serves to embody the values of Romanticism.

The Romantic movement valued aesthetics, emotion, and feelings. It enjoyed the natural and reveled in the supernatural. From Romanticism, people value staring off at a setting sun over the horizon, enjoying the overflow of emotion and thought as you sit there. A Romantic poet would ask for you to record your feelings verbatim. Romanticism also asserted the importance of nationalism. Now, why does Tom Sawyer embody this movement?

Tom Sawyer is usually the source of great, bounding, incredibly unnecessarily complex ideas and plans to either get money, honor, or some kind of fantasy. He’s big on fantasy. The entire imagination of Romanticism comes directly from Tom. As the novel nears its end, Tom is reintroduced. It spirals downward at this point. All of his complex ideas represent Romanticism. And, when Huck is finally fed up with Tom and his fantastic plans, he abandons him in an ultimate act of maturity and defiance. Not only is he defying all of Romanticism, but society as a whole. At this point, Huck is truly individualistic. He has the choice to go back home, but he refuses. He doesn’t want to be trained to be civilized any more.

How about that? What a great piece of fiction! If you’ve read it, I recommend you do so and immediately spark up a conversation with me about your thoughts. I’d love to hear them. As this is one of my favorite pieces, I enjoy discussing it in deeper detail. And although this piece is somewhat long, I’ve only touched on the novel’s surface. There’s so much more to talk about!

Until tomorrow, fellow bloggers!

Becoming Bilingual(?)

Hello again!

I have a quick question for my followers or anyone willing to give advice.

Today, I decided that I want to pursue a minor in a foreign language, so that I could become bilingual. It’s easier to communicate while understanding and speaking and reading more languages, yes? Well, that’s my philosophy.

Obviously my goals are a bit far-fetched and they will take some time; however, I want as much practice as possible.

To immerse myself more in the language, I want to make daily blog posts in Spanish about my life (hopefully in correct Spanish).

Now, my question: do my followers think that this is a good idea? Would it be excluding or alienating those who typically expect poetry, prose, etc. in English? Should I think this through more, possibly come up with a better idea?

Let me know what you think! Thanks!