Thursday, October 31, 2013

Media Representations of Teachers: Admiral Slaughter

Admiral Slaughter is one of the more down-to-earth teachers on Community.

Admiral Slaughter's Class (Community 1x19)

Community, one of my favorite television shows, has a large cast of eccentric, crazy, and just plain unqualified teachers, so Admiral Slaughter really stands out in the show's representations of educators. The show is interesting in that it sort of defines the roles of teachers implicitly through parody, satire and deliberately bad examples of them. Slaughter is almost the complete opposite of the other teachers in this show, which makes him in a way representative of the show's philosophy on what a good teacher should be. In a group of characters that is rich with parody and wild antics, he is the real deal. He begins his week-long course by explicitly stating his objectives, the standard he is holding his students to, what kind of work the students can expect, and his grading policy. From the moment he steps into his classroom (the boat in the middle of Greendale Community College's parking lot), he assumes the secure and confident role and identity of "teacher," focused on the students, the content of the course and project-based collaborative learning.

When he introduces himself, he is at a lower elevation than the other characters, and they are looking down at him, but they are separated. The students are on one side of the boat, and he is on the other as he gives them information. This is reminiscent of a lecture hall's structure, with elevated rows of students and the teacher down at the bottom where everyone can see. This decision from the director makes his role as a teacher visually obvious. For the rest of the course, he stands behind the captain's position on the boat, his arms either crossed or holding his clipboard. This too is a product of good directing that helps in the representation of Admiral Slaughter as a teacher. He stands there because he is guiding the students in project-based learning. They have their instructions and are co-constructing and applying knowledge together on the boat as he watches and gives new instructions and information when needed. During dialogue sequences, his body can be seen in the background. This is a deliberate decision, showing that while all of the action is in his students' hands at the moment, he is always there to keep them on task and track their progress. When the boat is triumphantly sailing across the parking lot to rescue Pierce, Slaughter can be clearly seen standing above and watching with his arms still crossed, a solid and imposing form. The majority of his teaching (such what each part of the boat is, among other things), is done off-screen, so how well he handles that portion of teaching is implicit in his students' work and actions. They perform well, using all kinds of relevant vocabulary. They also seem to know their roles on the boat very well.

When his students have decided to start applying their knowledge with this unplanned rescue project, he doesn't bark at them or stop them. He's giving his students choice and allowing them to apply their knowledge in a creative way that reflects who they are as people. This is evident in Shirley's statement that "the sea may be cruel, but I am not," and he rewards this behavior. Admiral Slaughter praises Shirley a lot. He does this through spoken compliments and head nodding. While I think he should be praising the other students more often (he does make a big point of saying that all of their efforts together are what matter), this praise is another positive thing to see from a teacher on this show, and Shirley becomes more confident as a captain as a result. Her promotion to admiral at the end of the episode is unnecessary in the context of the class, but Slaughter knows she has earned the extra praise and his respect.

I don't think he is the best representation of the teachers at Greendale Community College, but I do think he is one of the best representations of a good teacher on the show. He achieves his objectives through explicit instruction, his assessments seem fair in the context of the course, and he creates a classroom culture geared towards learning together through project-based learning. He praises students for their good work and he lets them know when things go wrong or when they are in danger of failing without humiliating them. There are a lot explicit representations of teaching styles I do not agree with on a realistic level in Community, but I do agree with this representation of the teacher's role. The focus is on the students, but he is leading and giving them just what they need when they need it while giving them respect.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Marching Band: Classroom of Tomorrow

Not pictured: The other 22 people in pirate garb legally considered adults.
(Pictures taken by friends, posted on Facebook.)

I thought about writing about this most recent Band Day, since it was some of the most fun I've had at a football game in a long time, but UDMB director Heidi I. Sarver has already written a great piece about it.

I spent that game with one of my families, the University of Delaware's Fightin' Blue Hen Marching Band (UDMB). With all the music, friendship, and general silliness that can be involved with band, like the alto sax section's annual celebration of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, it can be easy to forget that it's a college class. The football field is a classroom ahead of its time. More classrooms should strive to run like a marching band. I think my professors agree, though they may not realize it. In my time as an English Education major, my professors have told me to build relationships with my students, get them to co-construct knowledge together, and stay on task while providing an open environment offering flexibility, openness, creativity, and positive learning.

The future of education, members of my Literacy and Technology class. Scared yet? Because we are. Don't tell anyone.

*Starred Thought: Expand your circle.

I often tell people that joining the marching band is like gaining 300 free friends. If you've got the guts, you can say hi to pretty much anyone walking around on campus with one of the grey instrument cases marked with an "MB" and they will talk to you and have a nice conversation until you have to go in different directions. The UDMB is a big family, and we work well together. Members become fast friends with the others in their sections especially. My section in particular, the alto saxophones, has an annual barbeque and a plethora of other events held outside of band. I know people in every section, and it's a great network to have even outside of band.

A classroom should have its own culture that builds relationships between students that can hold outside of the classroom and into the future. Knowing a lot of people can get a student a lot of opportunities in life. I often tell a story about how the manager of an IHOP that was opening in my area wouldn't even give me an application because I was under 18 at the time, but practically hired another guy my age on the spot because the manager played football with the guy's dad in high school. I only really found out about the opportunity to grab the job I have now because I knew someone.

A small part of my network from St. Mark's High's Marching Band, which I started building six years ago.

*Starred Thought: Be a great teacher. Have skill.

We're told in my classes that we need students to build on each other's knowledge and construct new knowledge together. We're all teachers, or will be at some point in our lifetimes in some form or another, and it's important that students know how to teach and present information clearly. One great example is from a middle school I did fieldwork in, where small groups were assigned different positions as "reporters," who had to attack a text from different angles. One group summarized plot, one drew a picture of the setting, one talked about characters and the ways they spoke, and so on and so forth. These groups then had to present to the rest of the class. Giving students opportunities like this develops public speaking and team skills needed in the workplace while also achieving a goal together through their own hard work.

In marching band, we have a whole set of field staff made up from band members. These members are trained in leading their sections and teaching them things that they need to know. This could include anything from reinforcing marching basics to full-blown student-run music rehearsals for individual sections in which the band director does not even have to be present. This also further builds a network of support for the band members (the students) because we know who can help us with what and all three-hundred-and-something of us don't have to bring every little question directly to Sarv (the teacher) herself, who is only one person. She gives the skills to the staff, who give the skills to the members, who become staff themselves who give skills to the members. It's a constant cycle of content reinforcement that keeps us all at and above the standard expected of us, and it's all led by a teacher. We all achieve goals together through our own hard work: the pre-game and half-time shows.


*Starred Thought: Inspire musicians to do well.

If a teacher has created a positive learning environment that engages students and makes them care about what they're doing in the classroom, students will want to push themselves and apply their knowledge. Specifically in the context of my teaching of English, I need to encourage creativity, emotive reading, and open discussion, while still guiding it. This way students will stay on task while saying what they think needs to be said and sharing their skills and opinions with their classmates in a way that provides real feedback with a real audience. In band, for instance, our drill section leaders tend to be open to ideas for visuals. If a member has a good idea that fits well somewhere, it can be added, though it may require permission. For example, in high school, I was in a group that was in a form shaped like a circle. One of us had the idea to make the circle rotate. Our band director and drum majors asked us to try it, and it worked, so we were told to keep it in. We ended up trying other things with it. Some of them worked, and some of them didn't, but we were given the flexibility to try them, to push ourselves. The audience gathered at the football games liked the rotating circle too, and it was encouraging, positive feedback. In UDMB, Sarv gives credit where credit is due, will level with us when we aren't up to our usual standard, and she isn't afraid to push us harder because she knows we can do even better than before. And then better. And better.

I now volunteer to work as staff at the St. Mark's High School Spartan Marching Band's summer band camp. Helping me inspires me to be a better band member so that I can help them to be better band members. It's a feedback loop fueling a desire to push myself and others and apply what I've learned.

Building relationships and giving students responsibility also naturally help to make a positive learning environment and classroom culture.



*Starred Thought: You have no control of anyone.

Ah yes, the ultimate secret of leadership. Speaking of giving students responsibility and classroom culture, one big issue we've talked about in my education classes has been attendance issues. Many people are striving to improve schools in ways that will make students want to show up, but others are baffled about how to solve this problem. I think it could be a symptom of a classroom not doing enough of the things I've been talking about in this post. A lot of what I've said is very student-centric, and this is because students are the centers of learning. Teachers are guides, but students decide for themselves that they want to learn. That's why I think it's important to give students a feeling of responsibility.

Responsibility goes side-by-side with independence and self-efficacy, something most high school and college students really want and something most teachers want their students to have.

It's made very apparent to me as a student and member of the marching band that if I am not at rehearsal or the games, there is a hole in the show. The classroom is not complete without me. I don't even think about the grade, I think about the work that needs to be done, the goal that needs to be accomplished. The forms, the show, and the learning will be objectively worse if I am not a part of them. If I don't know my music, I can easily throw off the person playing next to me. Everyone is aware that we affect each others' rehearsals and performance, and so we all feel a sense of responsibility and most importantly, importance.

That's what it's all about. Students feeling that their own learning and the learning of their peers is important, and genuinely caring about it. When you have pride in your band or class and in yourself, you are in the optimal positive learning environment. It makes me forget that I'm in a class. It makes me care about learning and about the people way before I think about getting the grade, and it's all run pretty smoothly.

I swear I've learned as much about the art of teaching in band as I've learned in my classes.
I have high hopes that I will be a better teacher because of it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Recruiting Officer

From the left: Melissa Volpone (Sylvia), Sir Jason Hewett (Plume), Me (Brazen), and Kiersten Gutherman (Melinda)




















SHOWTIMES:

April 12 (Friday) - 7:30 P.M.
April 13 (Saturday) - 7:30 P.M.
April 12 (Sunday) - 2:00 P.M.

April 18 (Thursday) - 7:30 P.M.
April 19 (Friday) - 7:30 P.M.
April 20 (Saturday) - 7:30 P.M.

In Bacchus Theatre, located in the basement of Perkins Student Center on Academy St.

Students: $3
Non- Students: $5

George Farquhar's 1706 comedy The Recruiting Officer is a spectacularly entertaining experience. Captain Plume (Sir Jason Hewett) and his friends Mr. Worthy (Andrew Muto) and Serjeant Kite (Brett Smith) are stationed in the town of Shrewsbury, where they make their best efforts to recruit men and court the women. Plume is in love with Lady Sylvia, the daughter of a local judge, Balance, but doesn't want to be tied to one woman in marriage and wishes to stay in the army. Lady Sylvia, who loves him back, is ready to dress as a man and enlist to be near him. Mr. Worthy, on the other hand, is perfectly ready to settle down with his love Lady Melinda (Kiersten Gutherman), but she has recently grown cold and rude to him. He is in love with Melinda, but fellow officer Captain Brazen (John Young) is in love with her money, and is determined to marry her and gain access to her fortune, but Worthy's friend Kite, who disguises himself as a German fortune teller, is ready to help. The fact that Melinda's servant Lucy (Kathy Harris) is in love with Brazen doesn't help to simplify things, either.

It's a comedy of manners, courtship, and deception! Don't miss it!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bioshock Infinite Timeline















The Timeline contains the MOTHERLOAD of all spoilers.

This Timeline is intended ONLY for those who have played the game and do not understand the ending.


Irrational Games' Bioshock Infinite is the most powerful, solid narrative-driven game I have ever played. Please do not rob yourself of the experience by looking at the timeline before completing the game yourself. I wrote it because there is a lot of confusion among players and I would like to clear it up. I haven't even written a Thoughts post on this game yet because it's just too risky, and I don't want it spoiled for you. Infinite comments on both political and religious extremism, American exceptionalism, absolution, and the way we each change the narrative of a video game in our own subtle way just by playing it.

And really, don't spoil it for yourself. Please. For me.


Click Here for the Timeline.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thoughts on Tomb Raider

This post contains spoilers for Tomb Raider (2013).

From www.tombraider.com

There was a lot of fuss over Tomb Raider when it was first announced. This reboot of the long-lived platforming series not only promised to change the character of protagonist Lara Croft herself, but the gameplay and themes as well. No longer the iconic stereotype of the femme fatale sex object of the Playstation era, this Lara was promised to be a more grounded character, who would go through legitimate hardship and who would have less hilarious proportions.

Controversy sparked when it was learned that early on in the game, Lara would be beaten, bruised, battered, and nearly molested. Naturally, many critics didn't think this was a very girl-powery move by the developers, which led to all kinds of arguments and complaints.

Oddly enough, as far as I have seen, nearly all of those arguments and complaints stopped when the game launched.

I recently got my hands on Tomb Raider, never having played any of the previous games, and I found it to be a thematically solid piece of work, with Lara Croft basically being on the Ripley (Aliens) tier of woman warriors.

The game begins with Lara on a ship called The Endurance, a name which makes the central themes of the game (survival and coming of age) apparent right off the bat. The passengers consist of Lara herself, a quick-tempered archaeologist she is going on an expedition with, a few people around Lara's age who have come to film it, and a small crew of her father's loyal old friends. They are searching for the lost city of Yamatai, which legend says was ruled by the Sun Queen, a woman who ruled fairly, punished ruthlessly, and is said to have been able to call and command powerful storms by her will. All is going well, when a storm appears suddenly, tearing the boat apart and sinking it in no time. Everyone makes it out of the wreckage, but they are stranded on an island off the coast of Japan in the Dragon's Triangle, an area of the Pacific Ocean with as much mystery to it as the Bermuda Triangle once did.

Sacrifice is a choice you make, loss is a choice made for you.”
--Roth, (Tomb Raider)


Much later in the game, Lara discovers that they have found Yamatai, and that the storms come suddenly as anyone approaches the island, be it by plane or boat, and very deliberately target and wrecks the vehicle, stranding its crew on the island 100% of the time. Afterwards, the storms disappear as quickly as they came. Discovering the Sun Queen's tomb, Lara finds murals painted on the walls that describe a ceremony meant for choosing the Sun Queen's successor. The order of the ceremony is as follows: Pilgrimage to the Island, represented by a picture of a woman arriving by boat to the stormy isle, Trial by Fire, represented by a woman engulfed in flame, and Transfer of Power, which is represented by the Sun Queen pouring a waterfall over the woman. The villain, Mathias, a man who has lived on the island for thirty years, kidnaps many of Lara's friends, believing her friend Sam to be the Successor.

Video of the discovery of the paintings, filmed by HailMetalFan.


The storm throws Lara into the purgatory that is the island of Yamatai. This storm introduces the first major symbol of the game: water, which symbolizes loss. Crawling onto the beach and ripped from normalcy, Lara is immediately struck on the back of the head and knocked out. Lara Croft has made her pilgrimage to the island.

The pilgrimage is the first step in the Sun Queen's ascension ceremony.



The successor must be engulfed in flame.
 Water represents things that are wildly out of Lara's control. The storm, the unforgiving currents and waterfalls she gets caught up in and falls over, the rain that chills her on her first night... These are all things Lara cannot stop, and it seems nature is constantly out to kill her. Water is a universal dual symbol, however, representing both life and death. When Lara awakes after being knocked unconscious, her whole world has been literally flipped upside-down as she hangs from the ceiling, wrapped in thick tarp and rope in a cave lit with candles. At this point, Lara realizes that the only way to make it out is to swing over to the candles and set herself on fire. This burns the ropes and the tarp and sends Lara falling, finally free, down and through the floor, into darkness. The old Lara Croft dies in fire, and as the game's tag line states, "a survivor is born." While this supernatural force of water the island (and by extension, the Sun Queen) possesses seems to want to kill Lara, we must also remember that the Sun Queen's power is transferred through it, giving new life after trial and death by fire. The island has tested Lara, and discovered that she is willing to do what it takes to survive.

Fire is a symbol of of everything Lara does have control over. Lara takes control of her situation and her own survival with fire the same way ancient human beings first fought the cold and storms with it. She survives by setting herself on fire, and builds a campfire to keep warm in the storm that comes after her escape from the cave, starting her fight with the forces trying to kill her.

Lara uses the power of fire throughout the game. She uses torches, campfires, explosive barrels of fuel, flammable gas, firearms, and flaming arrows as tools to aid in her survival. One powerful example of this is the first time she is forced to kill.

Trying to sneak through a fire-lit camp of cultists who would immediately kill or sacrifice her to the spirit of the Sun Queen if they found her, Lara is caught by one of them, who runs his hand down her side. She pushes him away, but he attempts to strangle her. Unable to wrestle him off of her, she pulls the gun from his holster. He struggles to take it back and kill her, and she is forces to shoot him through the forehead.

Burned, battered, and forced to commit murder, Lara begins to cry.

Roth, an adventurer, old friend of Lara's father, and Wise Old Man character (the archetypical guide,) calms her down over a two-way radio and assures her that she has done the right thing. The bulk of the gameplay occurs after this scene, where Lara solves a lot of puzzles, climbs a lot of things, and is forced to kill more would-be murderers until she arrives at the top of the mountain to save her friends.

Eventually, Lara discovers the tomb of the Sun Queen, as I mentioned earlier. It is on a part of the mountain where the weather is completely nuts. There's snow, which shouldn't happen according to her, and wild sandstorms just outside of the tomb itself. She makes her way through the winds to another building, where she tries to reason with the cultists who find her, but they refuse to negotiate. All of them believe that if she dies and Sam is taken as the new Sun Queen, they will all escape. In order to escape the building, Lara finds a way to destroy the support beams holding up a large bell so that it can fall through the floor and create a way out. With these beams damaged, the wind rips the building apart and blows Lara over the edge of the new hole in the floor. She lands on a small island in an underground lake.

Lara's character climax. She emerges from this cave as Lara Croft, Tomb Raider.
The ceremony is complete.

Note the parallels between the camera shot and the painting. The sun rays representing the Sun Queen, the water that pours from the light, the water surrounding the woman in each, and the darkness in the background. This is some really great stuff, here. It's rare that we see direction like this in a game, especially one that's part of a franchise, where the "art" of a game is usually sacrificed for the sake of gameplay. As I've said, though, I find this game to be very solid in terms of its narrative and its themes.

There's still another quarter of the game left to wrap things up, with more fire and more water and more survival, but now Lara knows who she is, and that is a warrior, a survivor. She follows the hero's journey very closely, and I've referenced it a few times. She even falls into a true Underworld, an underground prison with plenty of bones and meat and rivers of red and men driven mad by their time on the island, who are locked in cells. The entire place is damp and dripping with water, and of course Lara is required to use the power of fire in order to set off explosions and escape it. This chapter of the game is even titled "The Pit." There is a lot of debate among players, though, about whether or not Lara Croft is a hero.

Impact

She saved her friends and was tested over and over again, but whether or not the cultists were unmerciful and unwilling to negotiate, could anyone who has killed so many be called a hero? I'd say if you're comparing her to the kinds of heroes you'd study in an English class, like Beowulf or Gilgamesh or those other old models, then you'd have to say yes.

This debate marks a really important movement in video games these past few years.

Games are making us question our own actions now. Games like the first Bioshock in 2007 were on the right track, putting scripted choices in the game that led to different endings. In Tomb Raider, you can play the game sticking your climbing ax into every enemy's face because you think it's fun and exciting. You can play by setting enemies on fire or trying to sneak by and shooting only when they shoot first. No matter what you do, it always leads to the same ending. The game doesn't tell you anymore if you were "good" or "bad," a "paragon" or a "renegade..." You have to question how your influence on this narrative reflects on you as a person.

There's clearly a lot to talk about, and to be honest I can't cover it all and keep your attention. Congrats on getting this far! I hope this gets you to think more seriously about the games you play, and recognize just how far some have come to push the medium further towards reaching its potential as a method of storytelling.

Johnny's (Jonii's) Destructoid Blogs

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Naive Necromancer

It's going to be an interesting semester. One of the classes I'm taking is Intro to Poetry Writing. It's starting off with sonnets, something I have always avoided writing. When I write poetry, I write long narrative poems in which everything is perfectly spelled out and it rhymes in neat little four line stanzas with an ABAB rhyme scheme. I always thought of sonnets as too small and too rigid for me to do anything with. I have to worry about iambic pentameter? Cramming everything into 14 lines? Not making it sound stretched out or condensed? Yeah, forget it. And then our professor went and made it even harder.

The assignment was to look up a wiki article about something we found to be interesting, make a list of words that are specific to that subject, and then write a sonnet that had nothing to do with it using those words. I thought this made the assignment much more interesting, and as I discovered later, it made it easier to write a higher quality sonnet.

I am a geek. I am someone who gets really excited about things I like, and makes an effort to know them well. When I find a new show I like, I look it up on TVtropes. When I think of starting some new project, I watch videos, sometimes for hours, about how to do it well. When I find new or renewed interest in a mythos, like Spider-Man or Batman, I read wiki articles on their histories, the characters, and past story arcs that I've missed. This makes it kind of hard to just pick something that I know almost nothing about. So I decided to go for something weird. I chose necromancy.Normally with a long narrative poem, if I really tried I could spit it out during a study hall or something in high school for fun. I'm in college now, though, writing a sonnet meant for public consumption. It took me over two hours to write this thing, but I'm very proud of the result.



The Naive Necromancer

So, to a conjuress of bones I went
To sacrifice the life of my best friend.
I wished to resurrect my fortune spent
Severing synapses that soon I’d mend.
The circle on his neck should have sufficed,
To sing his secret to my sorceress
To ride the pitch to paradise,
Dragging her to sweet new abjectness.
The jagged runes, then written on her heart,
Would finally complete the ceremony.
It’d be what it should, my work of art,
Eventually sealed in matrimony.
Never use one egg to crack the other;
You’ll break them both and then you’ll starve ‘til supper.


These are a few comments I received during the in-class workshop:

  • Metrically very tight,
  • Narrative intriguing & deft & dense.
  • Gets fuzzy in line 3
  • Did they lose money gambling or something?
  • Can the narrative be even clearer--
  • Gets fuzzier in the middle
  • Can we see more visual info?
  • Could it include more details about the conjuress?
  • Is she hot?
  • "Intriguing as all get-out"


My peers and professor liked it, but felt it was unclear in the details. What's the significance of the circle? The runes on her heart? Is she the dead one? I thought she was the conjuress? Sure, I know why I wrote this exactly the way I did, but they weren't able to glean everything from what I wrote. I look forward to revising it and hopefully making it even better before the end of the semester.I really like sonnets now. Thanks, college!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Adventures in Retail

I've been working in retail now for over a year and a half, and for work that has a reputation for being repetitive, monotonous, and redundant, and redundant, it still surprises me. A job to me is a valuable thing, something that you do not mess with and are lucky to have. I spent a day just driving to Main St. and every shopping center I knew of, going door to door asking for applications.

I did this once or twice a month between May and September for three years and was only ever handed four applications. Two of them were from workers who said "We're not hiring right now, but, I mean, if you want to fill this out you can, I guess." After three years of doing this (and literally getting laughed out of one store,) I was finally able to find a job, but only because I had a connection. It was an extremely lucky break.

So yeah. Valuable.

Sometimes at home, I feel like I'm still just a kid. I can't rent an apartment on my income, my parents provide for me still in almost every way, I know people who are freaking engaged already and I still feel like I'm way not on my feet enough to think about that, I feel like I'm still too selfish of a person... There are lots of things that make me feel like that, but nothing makes me feel more like an adult than being at work. Part of it is that I am recognized as being a hard worker who interacts well with customers and co-workers. Part of it is that I know that I punch in, do my work (and do it right,) and go home knowing I did it without causing conflict with a co-worker or failing to help a customer who needed me.

This is where the whole "my job is valuable" part comes in. I was lucky enough to get a job, so I intend on keeping it. I do this by not rocking the boat and doing my job. Unfortunately, that's not how the game is always played. Not only do I feel like an adult at work, but occasionally I feel like the only adult besides the manager on duty. People often like to play the blame game, for instance. While there is certainly blame to go around when things go wrong, a lot of the time the things co-workers tell me can be boiled down to "I don't like So-And-So."

It's not the only game that's played, though. I've even seen people put part of their job on hold or make someone else do it to avoid being on the same side of the store as someone else. Countless times I've seen situations where if someone doesn't feel like being at the register, they'll find an excuse to lure another employee up there and then disappear in the stock room or the other side of the store for 15 minutes. I've seen someone beg a manager to let them do an extra job that they think should get done, and when they are given permission to do it, they try to lure some other co-worker to do it for them. When I was new, I was often the victim of these tricks, and the managers told me to be careful and watch for it. Even so, some of them are still impossible to avoid a year and a half later.

Am I perfectly innocent? No, not recently, anyway. I always had a personal rule forbidding me from venting about co-workers to other co-workers, but it's an easy trap to fall into, and when I did, I felt... I guess dirty afterwards. I decided that from then on, I don't play games.

It has been harder since I made that decision, but I feel much better about myself and more proud of my work. I've finally begun to take the advice my managers gave me when I started. Now when I say "Sorry, the manager told me I need to do this right now" or "The manager told me that you need to do X while I go work on Y," I stick to my guns. I still do it politely or timidly (it's a scary thing to have to say to someone who's been pushy with trying to tell you what to do for a year,) but I'm doing it.

Some people who aren't in a position to question me and the way I do things question my actions often ("John, why did you do that?" or "Uh, John, why would you X?") but the only reasons I ever have for doing something at work are "because a manager told me to," and "because it's part of my job." It can be frustrating having to explain myself all the time, and I've been told that I should tell people to stop questioning me, but somehow I don't see my fellow employees taking that well.

I feel as if despite doing my job and acting like an adult at work, some don't see me as one, I guess because I'm barely not a teenager anymore. Or maybe I give off that "It's okay to push me around, I won't fight back" vibe.

I guess, as I was told when I received my first paycheck, "Welcome to the real world."