Perez/Experimental Geography

December 23, 2010

I Thought I belonged here. But belong is a funny word.

~~~~~~~~~~Slides down the side of your consciousness, like a flying bird. ~~~~~~~~Then stops, changes direction and tries to stay in one place [then back again]

Aren’t you a This or That?? I heard them tell me, Or didn’t hear, but only read their lips.

I was too busy -being-

No, She is both This and the Other Thing Too, don’t you see? She belongs in both places. Because of X –Y—Z.

~~~~~~~~~~Keep travelling, keep apathetic to definitions given to me unexpected, keep discovering what I am on my own time, keep silent but loud in my healthy brain, keep sane.

I                                                                   Me.  

Dont                                                   Call

          Care                            You’ll

                            What

In your monotone!

………….~~~~~~~~~~~…………….~~~~~~~~~~~~………….

I feel myself: a symphony.


Perez/Experimental Geography

December 23, 2010

I Thought I belonged here. But belong is a funny word.

~~~~~~~~~~Slides down the side of your consciousness, like a flying bird. ~~~~~~~~Then stops, changes direction and tries to stay in one place [then back again]

Aren’t you a This or That?? I heard them tell me, Or didn’t hear, but only read their lips.

I was too busy -being-

No, She is both This and the Other Thing Too, don’t you see? She belongs in both places. Because of X –Y—Z.

~~~~~~~~~~Keep travelling, keep apathetic to definitions given to me unexpected, keep discovering what I am on my own time, keep silent but loud in my healthy brain, keep sane.

I                                                                   Me.  

Dont                                                   Call

          Care                            You’ll

                            What

In your monotone!

………….~~~~~~~~~~~…………….~~~~~~~~~~~~………….

I feel myself: a symphony.


Alienation poetry

December 23, 2010

Kai na sou elega, qa katalabeneV;                                     ( And even if I told you, would you understand?)

There are words in my head you couldn’t find, troublesome, untranslatable words!

Den miloun gia stigmeV, alla gia mia oloklhrh zwh… (They don’t speak of moments, but of a lifetime…)

There are things in my heart here I’ve gathered through the years, invisible little things

With one hand, I hold onto them, out of habit, while the other helps me stay afloat,

Tell me if you’ve heard of my country,

It may no longer exist,

You’ll have to give me your hand, so you can feel it!

The way it shrinks my lungs, and burns the eyes I use to see things like olive trees, my old backyard,

The fisherman’s hat my father wore, if only you could have swam in the turquoise caves,

Now feel my warm empty palms,

Kai afise me na sou tragoudisw, ena xexasmeno tragoudi.         ( and let me sing you a forgotten song.)


Personification

December 23, 2010

The only thing he could do was wait. Mr. Hushan could not help but think about his wife’s cooking I times like these, the spices she would gracefully sprinkle, with a pinch of her thin fingers and always with a barely audible tune escaping her whispering lips. He sat in the empty cell waiting for his wife to visit. It had seemed like a bad dream, the day the group of suited well groomed men came to his store looking for him.  He was no criminal, but in this society he looks like one, speaks the intimidating broken English, and dresses like he’s a foreigner.  The beard that grows from his cheeks and chin is an investment which in his country is the symbol of masculinity and piety. 

            He leaves his hair to grow long, and covers it up.  It was always this way, and he always greeted his customers with a hand gesture that was between waiving goodbye and trying to get rid of a flying insect.  He always dressed in the same garment, white like the tablecloths at barbeques on the fourth of July, or his daughter’s birthday parties.  It was always this way, his laughter that could be heard in the backroom while the boys unloaded cases of rice and halva from the weekly truck. He always smoked his morning cigarette while watching the school buses follow their trails, and the days unfolded like blankets. Yet, one day everything changed, and everything he used to do changed from commonplace routine to routine suspicion.  His eyes spoke to some, frightening them.  His voice showed others the song of terror. His name was not Greg, and that bothered some. It was Mohammed. Now, he sat alone in the right, trapped in the wrong. He stood up ready to spill his anger on the wall, but he turned around instead as he heard the woman’s calm voice.


Ihimaera/Landscape Romance

December 23, 2010

Ad Romanticizing the American Countryside

The concept evokes american culture, as it takes place in the Grand Canyon and includes the symbolic Eagle.  (Also, Bruce Springstein’s “Born in the U.S.A. will be playing in the background..)


Goals for Semester

December 23, 2010

This semester has come to a close, but I have a few goals for the winter intersession and for the next semester.  The first thing I want to do is never lose sight of the things in life that are actually valuable, which exceed material things.  My goal is to always go one step closer to becoming the person I want to ultimately be, even if that progress seems small and insignificant.  That might come off as cliche but it is how I really feel. When I think about my goals I sometimes ponder about what I want to avoid for myself, as a goal. I don’t want to lose my passion for life which I think sets apart those who are creative in this world, from those who are like the guys one sees on the Long Island Rail Road coming home from work with a look on their face that is completely jaded.  I want to know that whatever happens, I will not lose sight of what I love or who I am and continue to work at everything no matter how long it takes before I see it pay off.  My goal for next semester is to take everything one step at a time.  I’m looking forward to working on my own short stories, which I will luckily have the opportunity to do through my short story workshop class.  Also, I would like to produce some writing pieces which I can perhaps turn into a screenplay, as one of my hobbies is video editing and production.


Reflection

December 23, 2010

Alexandra Kavouras                                                                                                   Eng. 379

                 Reflection: Investigating Drug Prices and Healthcare in New York

            This project helped me find out a lot more information on the labyrinth that is the Healthcare system in America.  I learned through research of reports from different public interest organizations such as NYPIRG how things that are stated in the law often differ from the way they are materialized in reality.  First, I tried to find out as much information as I could about the different aspects of the healthcare system such as which demographics are affected in different ways, how the various laws and practices have changed through the years, and what role the pharmaceutical entities play in the whole process.  By doing research beforehand, I was able to narrow down my ideas for a single question to tackle.  The more information I came across, such as the growing rate at which New Yorkers and Americans in general are consuming prescription drugs, the more I began to feel hopeless that anything I could do could possible inspire change in such a seemingly cemented system.  However, I began to think in general terms and came to the conclusion that as with anything in life, one must, without hesitation, start small.  I decided that although the entire system has very large problems that will probably take years to deal with, I could focus on what can be done in the short term: Making it easier for people to access information to compare drug prices so that they do not contribute to the unfortunate phenomenon of wasting even more money due to a lack of information.

            I interned for New York Public Interest Research group on campus last semester and I was familiar with their ambitious “Consumer Protection” campaigns in which they tackle various issues that have to do with fighting for consumers interests.  I was positive that there would be something related to healthcare included in this year’s campaigns due to the highly controversial nature of the healthcare issue which always faces changes.  I was able to speak with two project co-coordinators who are representatives of the organization working on our campus, located in LL39 of the Student Union.  However, I was not able to gather that much information on the specific issue of the “The Price is Not Right” report that I had read online, which had to do directly with the drug price dilemma.  I was redirected to Murray st. in Manhattan, to the headquarters of NYPIRG. There I was able to find a few very knowledgeable individuals who were kind enough to meet with me and talk to me a little about the report and the general concern they found.  One of these people was Meghan Ahearn, with whom I did a video interview that I will be including into a complete documentary which I will be working on during the course of the upcoming winter break. I was inspired to expand my project the more I saw the possibilities for improvement and the more my enthusiasm for the specific topic was matched by others who knew so much more and were actually working upon affecting change.

             One of the challenges I faced in the interviewing phase was losing footage of my second interview with Blair Horner, who is a very important figure in NYPIRG and spoke to me about the general importance of Consumer Protection.  I wanted to include this segment so that I may connect the specific issue of the drug prices to the question of greater scope which is the importance of preserving the interest of New Yorkers and protecting against the powerful pharmaceutical business.  Another was a format issue which made it difficult to retrieve through FinalCutPro. Luckily, I was able to retrieve some of the audio which can still be useful. I think if I were to re-do this project, I would make sure to get double takes of all footage and definitely make sure there are no format issues.

            Speaking to Meghan and Blair was a very interesting experience that I am very grateful to have had.  I was amazed at how much they knew about the topic and how passionately they were about protecting the rights of consumers.  I was inspired by their use of several facts and research in order to create change in society and empower others to try and do the same. One thing I didn’t know and which impressed me was the use of “spot-checks” which Meghan explained to me consisted of people going to pharmacies and checking if the businesses were complying with the law that required publicizing of the website for comparing drug prices http://rx.nyhealth.gov/pdpw/SearchDrugs/Home.action, which was and still is a major problem.  I was able to learn about the efforts which are being made in the sphere of Public Interest groups in order to counterbalance many of the policies that are unenforced or unknown to the public.  It was interesting to see that one aspect of society, which depends on the support of people collectively organizing, works toward these issues every day.  My experience interviewing Meghan showed me how it only takes a show of interest to sometimes reach out and connect with important issues in order to make change.

            Meghan was interested in sharing her take on the issue, “I can tell you the benefits and then the problems with the law…Its not only important for that information to be out in the world and exist in one place, but people have to know that it’s there, so that they can utilize it, and there wasn’t enough advertisement for the website.”   As I heard Meghan’s ideas I was inspired to focus in on the problem of advertisement for the website which seemed to be the most immediate problem that can be worked on and improved.  I myself had not known about it, and that inspired me even more to reach out to others.  Meghan also shared the experience which NYPIRG specifically had when looking into the problem: “We did a spot-check of 55 pharmacies across the state and found that only 7 of them had accurately advertised the website…which is really a big problem.”Also, she gave me examples which really helped put in perspective the “In New York City there were price differences of above $400.00 for one, ONE prescription…so at one store you can buy it for $500.00 and at another store the price was just above $100.00” she stated “the need for this law is really important, but in the spirit of it people should have access to the information so that they’re not getting ripped off.”

            After collecting all of my information and meeting with the representatives at the headquarters of the group in Manhattan, I decided to create a grassroots movement toward raising awareness for the prescription drug website. I created a flyer with the website and gave a stack of them to the volunteers and current interns of NYPIRG on campus, who were willing to help post them.  I spoke with the project coordinators who supported this by making the time that the students put up the flyers count toward their necessary hours.  I took the time that I saved by not posting flyers to go out to pharmacies myself and see if indeed pharmacies have changed their habits since the 2009 report “The Price is Not Right” in which the spot-checks Meghan talked about were recorded.  Given a year’s time since the previous report, I expected to be proven wrong, however I found that out of 6 pharmacies, 4 in Nassau County Long Island and 2 in Queens, I found that not one had the sign.  Similarly, I stopped three people, two in Queens and one in Long Island, and found that two people had no idea what I was talking about, and one person explained she was aware that the prices of prescription drugs were way to high and sometimes differed according to the store bought, however she explained that she just went to the Duane Reade by her house and she did not know that there was a website to check and compare drug prices.   In total, nobody was aware of the website. 

            I spoke with an old Video Production teacher that I had in high school who was interested in the topic and is allowing me to use the school’s studio to shoot part of my documentary which requires recording voiceovers and using programs such as Adobe After Effects for graphics as well as Final Cut Pro for professional video editing.  I look forward to expanding my project into a short documentary so that I can combine all of the information and experiences I had.  Finally, I think reaching out to people through social networking such as Facebook and Twitter can be successful in spreading  the word on the issue, because an incredible amount of people spend much of their time using these sites for their other needs as well.  Through something as simple as a status update informing others about the website, to creating an actual group and inviting others to join, I found Facebook to be rather useful.  I have not created a Twitter yet because I have had trouble understanding what it is exactly, however I think it would be useful and beneficial to expand by creating a Twitter and keeping people updated on the status of the law, how these efforts by the public interest are perhaps changing the situation, or how it is necessary for more people to be informed of the basic information before buying prescription drugs.

            From this project, I learned how to take a broad issue such as healthcare and try to find out what the possibilities are for affecting change in the short term.  I was able to again an incredible amount of information by following an initial question and seeing where it would lead me. I think that this project was unique, especially for an English course, because it made us reach out into the “real world” and try to change things, which would in turn change us as thinkers in a global mindset and by extension, as writers. Protest literature is not detached from reality but rooted in a real plight to evoke a sentiment of empowerment in others, and I saw through the steps I took in this project, how it was designed to have us do exactly that.


Experimental Poetry

October 7, 2010

PRAYER TO FORGET

O, lost love, mild dream

How, could, I, have, seen

That as I reveal, you prepare to leave

O, what a stranger, love, my God

You , can’t, save, this, vase, from,crashing ,down

                                           When my soul bled, I ignored

                                           When you drew back, I followed

What,a,wish,to, never, have, loved

To not peel, or leap, or feel, or speak

Your name!


Literary Manifesto

October 7, 2010

                    Resistance literature is the common voice of a collective conscience.  It is not merely a pathetic excuse for literature, but on the contrary it taps into the very heart and soul of literature itself, and why literature has any meaning at all.  Protest literature speaks to those with a voice, from those who have no voice in society.  I don’t think that literature containing a political significance could be considered any less profound than an “objective” piece of literature which is mostly based on form.  If not for the artists, the writers, and the creative minds of society, who will express the strife that often permeates an entire nation?  It is not only acceptable for this type of literature to be considered legitimate, but it is the artist’s duty to use his talent in order to represent a higher cause or to achieve a higher goal for his fellow man beyond aesthetic pleasure.  What is said in a piece of resistance literature is often something many individuals have thought of, but haven’t thought to articulate.  Once someone composes such thoughts into a piece of literature, it evokes a sense of unity in individuals who deal with the same struggle, and who recognize the need to be more aware, or make certain changes in their lives and in the world in which they live.  One can write a poem to entertain or one can write a poem to wake people of society from their slumber in order to draw attention to an important issue pertaining to people and the way they life their lives.


Topic Proposal

October 7, 2010

                                                                    Topic Proposal- Consumer Protection Project

                There are many reasons why the American health system fails citizens each day.  Americans spent over $232 billion on prescription medication as compared to $65 billion in 1996.  Thus, the amount of money which Americans are spending on healthcare is consecutively increasing.  I would like to focus specifically on the issue of individuals’ rights to compare drug prices before purchasing medication.  Due to the fact that price differences for the same medication sometimes differed by hundreds of dollars depending on the place purchased, a law passed in 2006 made it mandatory for pharmacies to post their drug prices online and to have the website accessible in the store, so that consumers would have the right to compare before buying them (rx.nyhealth.gov. )  Likewise, the pharmacies were required to display a sign in bold, block letters at least one inch in height that said: Drug Retail Price List Available Upon Request which would enable them to receive a print-out of the price listings.  However, many pharmacies have not complied with the law and thus it has not been widely made aware that citizens have such rights when buying their medication.  Most people have no idea that they have this right, and they consequently pay very large differences in prices for the same exact product.

                For example, in Albany this year a NASONEX inhaler could cost $95.20 or $140.97 depending on the pharmacy, and in New York City Advair Diskus 250/50 ING could range from $209.00 to $445.72 depending on the location purchased.  New York Public Interest Research Group has conducted such findings, which show that there is clearly an incongruity among pharmacies which causes people to sometimes pay a much higher price for the same drugs.  I would like to get in contact with N.Y.P.I.R.G and research more on the topic, interview some employees working on the issue, and find out more about this problem.

                Some questions I would like to explore through this project have to do with who is truly being affected by this phenomenon. Namely, are people who are underinsured or uninsured caused to have even more difficulty obtaining sufficient medication due to the fear of un-affordability caused by some of these price differences?  I would like to conduct some random on sight interviews near pharmacies to see if there are any consumers who are even aware of this right.  I would also like to go into some pharmacies to see for myself if they have the required information available for customers.

                The project which I would like to create is based on raising peoples’ awareness of their own right to receive this information.  I would like to start a grassroots campaign promoting peoples’ access to information by creating pamphlets and distributing them to local pharmacies and on campus as flyers. I would like to communicate with groups on campus and create an information session in collaboration with student government, political science club, democracy matters club, during free hour where students can come and find out about their rights as consumers.


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