Throughout this class, I have really started to think back to the memories of my childhood that have shaped me into the person I am today. My literacy experiences, both through pen and paper and technology, not only affected my academic success, but who I am as an individual. As you will see, my grandmother, known as Gammy, played the biggest role in my academic life, as she used her intelligence and support to help me succeed the best she could. My experiences have led me to the discovery of my truest passion (which you will soon see), which has ultimately helped me figure out who I am and what I want out of this life.
I grew up in an extremely hedonistic and competition-driven little city in Los Angeles, CA, better known as Santa Clarita (yes, the same place that inspired the new cannibalistic Netflix television show, The Santa Clarita Diet). Though I wish I had some super crazy and exciting story to share about how I was shaped into a literate individual, I don’t. Really, what shaped my literacy-self is just my love for a good story. I could truly spend countless hours telling my stories and listening to other people tell theirs. From the time I was 4 years old, I was so obsessed with hearing Gammy tell me her many adventures growing up, that eventually for Christmas she bought me my very first little journal from a local stationary store by her home in the Hollywood Hills. It was a soft lavender color and had a lion on it-I’m a Leo and it kind of just fit my personality she said--plus my 8 year-old self thought it was pretty dang neat. She told me the rule that came with getting the journal was that she would only continue to tell me her childhood stories if I wrote them all down and transcribed everything she said into my own words. Looking back, I think it was just an excuse to get me to write her own personal life biography, and yet, I’m okay with that because her stories were the main pleasures of my childhood. Her imagery and vivid detail have always been what draws me to stories; being able to picture the entirety of a story in my head based on words is just so fascinating. By writing my grandma’s stories down I started to write and create my own into my beloved journal. I would create fictional characters, make up exotic places in the jungle, create new languages (that never really made any sense), make up mysteries, and just write down the different figures I would find in the clouds from my car window. For each and every holiday or birthday a new journal and some colorful gel pen were really all I ever would ask for.
My grandmother and I the year I got my first notebook!
When I was 10, I started to get more serious in my writings and my journals. During my parents' pretty messy divorce, I turned to writing and books as an escape from reality and my own thoughts. I still remember sitting on the beach with my mom after school telling her some of the stories I would create to make her smile after a long day in court. Eventually I had filled up over 5 journals by the time I was 12 and they were all crammed with different fairytales to read to her and my friends- whether they wanted to hear them or not. Even to this day, writing in a journal (specifically a Moleskin) has been a hobby (and therapy tactic) of mine that I use daily. Being able to create something through words is almost like having a superpower!
The view from my notebook before it was washed out to sea.... RIP
There was one very specific day that can be dubbed as the catalyst that changed my story-telling life. It was a sunny day sometime in June or July and Gammy and I were staying at our other home in Newport Beach with my younger sister. On that fateful day I made the unfortunate decision to bring my notebook to the windy cove. After a particularly fierce gust of wind, my notebook washed out to sea somewhere with the mermaids..or in a shark's mouth. My grandma felt so bad that I had lost my prized possession that she took me to the store three hours later and bought me my first PC laptop. She told me it was for writing my stories and playing parent-approved games. And WOW, having my new computer sure make telling stories so much cooler and easier! I consider my computer one of my most influential literacy sponsors, for it taught me how to spell and write properly. Every time I would see the little red line under one of my words my OCD would kick in and I would quickly try to fix it. This resulted in me learning so many words that reading more adult books became easier- which made me feel cool in front of my peers. My love for fixing words then changed to my obsession with finding synonyms of words. I somehow managed to find it super interesting that 10 words could have the same meaning, and I made it a goal to use the biggest, most confusing-sounding synoyms I could possibly find to make my stories more "sophisticated" and exciting to my peers.
You may or may not be wondering what I mean by a "literacy sponsor" huh? Well, Deborah Brandt defines literacy sponsors as “agents, local or distant, concrete or abstract, who enable, support, teach, model, as well as recruit, regulate, suppress, or withhold literacy—and gain advantage by it in some way" (Brandt, pg. 2). This basically just means a tangible object or person who helped you grow as a literate individual. My grandma is the true epitome of this definition. If it wasn't for her I would have never been so fascinated with the act of storytelling and writing. She developed my story-telling abilities in a way that mutually benefited her, as I became the written-narrator of her childhood. As I stated earlier, my computer also deserves the title as a literary sponsor and can take a lot of credit for helping me develop into the reader and writer who I am now. Without it, my grades would have never been as good as they were and my language now would be very bland and dry. Ultimately, without my grandma pushing me to sing up for story-telling contests, and my computer to help me write and submit my work, I wouldn't have had the confidence and awards that I do now.
My grandma and I playing a game while I was telling her one of my stories.
As stated in the Transitional Literate Lives in Digital Times essay, "we have always begun with the assumption that we cannot hope to understand any literacy or language use—print or digital—until we understand the complex social and cultural ecology." Looking back at my upbringing, I realize now that my socioeconomic and educational background played an enormous role in my literacy journey. I have always been very grateful for having the support system I do, with people who always back me up with anything I do. My grandma especially has always kept up with my learning needs by always filling my room up with new novels and learning tools. Whenever I struggled with any reading or writing assignments, she would pay for a tutor to come to my home to help me alleviate any confusion. She would constantly drive an hour to my mom's house in order for me to attend an event hosted by Barnes and Noble called Story-Telling Time at Barnes every Tuesday night while my mom was at work. She did this for three years and never complained. Without my grandma's financial ability to pay for excess supplies, such as my many notebooks and computers, I would be lost and without passion. She always made sure I attended the very best schools in the area and had all the tools I needed to achieve my goals.
Get to look at this view every day thanks to my technological literacy skills :,)
Though my experience with technology started off with me crying over the loss of my cute little journal in the ocean, I look at where I'm at now and realize that without the help of my technological experience with my first computer, my grandma for constantly providing her support and aid, and my devout passion for stories, I would be nowhere. As an almost-senior at University of San Francisco, I see that I wouldn't even have the ability to attend such a beautiful school if it weren't for my computer and abilities to tell stories for my application. I probably would have never been able to land an internship with one of the biggest music companies in the world, and I definitely wouldn't have the written technology skills needed for the jobs I'm currently interviewing for at Yelp and with the SF Giants. Safe to say, I'm grateful for my supportive grandmother's childhood experiences, my first purple notebook, the ocean for being the reason I got my computer, and my love for stories that helped turn me into the technological weirdo I am today.
Brandt, Deborah. The Sponsors of Literacy. Albany: National Research Center of English Learning & Achievement, 1997. 10. Print.
Berry, Patrick W., Gail E. Hawisher, and Cynthia L. Selfie. "Transnational Literate Lives in Digital Times: Conclusion 5." Transnational Itterate Lives In Digital Times: Conclusion 5. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.