In Search of Something

October 14, 2020

Pandemic life has given me more precious time. As a working mom with three active teenagers, I spent my days at work; then after I work, I spend my evenings ferrying my children to games, activities, and friends’ homes. I also spent a lot of time on preparing meals: purchasing groceries from three different stores (Costco for fruit and bulk items like paper towels), Wegman’s for meat and vegetables, and Hmart for my Asian vegetables since as Gai Lan and Ong Choy; trying to cook like the great chefs I see on the Food Network like Pioneer Woman; and cleaning up the mess afterwards. By the end of the day, I was too tired to think, read, or write. I was living my life on cruise control.

Now, I have more time. I do not have to play chauffeur. I allow myself to use grocery pick-up at Whole Foods. I  allow myself to purchase the pre-cut, pre-peeled, pre-washed vegetables at Wegmans. I came to the realization that I can not always make elaborate homemade meals. Growing up, I remember coming home from school, the smell of jasmine rice greeted me. As I walked down the hallway to my bedroom, I would pass the kitchen  and see a  delicious pot of pho simmering on the stovetop. On a random Thursday, my dad made my favorite meal of lobster with scallions. I came to the realization that I can live up to the standard that my father set since he was a great cook, and I am not a great cook. I do not feel guilty when I warm up frozen crab cakes and fish sticks in the oven for my children’s evening feast.  

I have learned to give myself a break. Also, my father was a clean and neat freak. He kept a spotless house where my brother and I mopped the kitchen floor everyday after dinner. In comparison to my father, I have also ‘failed’ in the cleaning department. What would my father say if he saw dirt on my kitchen floor? During the pandemic, I have learned to enjoy cleaning. I must say that my house is cleaner now than before the pandemic. I have more time now to vacuum and to disinfect the bathrooms several times a week. I also have time to mow, fertilize, and overseed my lawn! My summer garden is in hiatus, so I have shifted my focus to yard work. I am enjoying manual labor and the fruits of my labor.

“Where have you been this past 20 years?” my husband asked.

He’s right. He was the one doing all the yard work. I was the one doing all the laundry. It was a division of labor. Now, Home Depot is one of my favorite stores.

While I toiling the land, I am thinking about my Master’s Thesis. I am thinking about how I have evolved as a writer and as a teacher. Before pursuing my Master’s Thesis, I was in a methodological rut in that I was teaching the same courses, the same curriculum, the same novels for 15 years. When I entered this Master’s program, I was searching for something that was unbeknownst to me. Yes, I wanted a MA degree, but I wanted more. I had taken several classes at another university but I did not want to pursue a degree in English literature. I wanted more writing. I wanted to write. I wanted to be creative. I wanted to write more, to think, and to save myself.

A year later into my graduate studies, I have evolved as an educator and as a writer with the help of my professor Dr. Zamora. She is one of the best professors I ever had. I am glad that I found her. She has given the opportunity to blog my ideas, which I find so therapeutic in that I unearth hidden parts of my past. I am like Professor Dumbledore collecting pieces of my memories and writing them down. At times, I have thoughts swirling in my head, and by writing them down, I am able to release my thoughts just like a balloon waiting to burst. By the time I am finished writing, I have some form of clarity and direction. I am the type of the writer who needs to know what I want to say before I start writing. 

However, freewriting is very different from revising and editing. Freewriting allows me to be more expressive, while revising is more strenuous in that I rethinking my purpose, the organizational structure of my research proposal, and omitting irrelevant articles from my Bibliography. I find it challenging to whittle down my Bibliography to three sources on my Works Cited, as required by the English Journal

Revising is more laborious than freewriting; and a grammar checker no matter how good the algorithm cannot help a writing with writing style. In one my case studies, Auto Crit, claims to be an online mentor and editor for writers. 

I signed up for a free version, and it provides me with a Summary Report with sentence analysis, grammar, readability, word choice, so forth. It did not offer any specific suggestions for improving my writing style nor did it highlight any grammatical errors. I did not find the Summary Report too helpful for myself nor for my students. 

In my article, I want to provide case studies of various online grammar checkers to teachers and students who are interested in editing their writing. 

Will I find a better online editor than Grammarly? 

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