Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Tyrant Fear Falls

The Tyrant Fear Falls

04/22/13 / akgreeley / 2 Comments / Uncategorized

Nothing is ever going to make it all okay.

When you deal with dementia or mental illness it becomes obvious that reality is as shifty as sand and perception is an oasis beyond the next rise. What appears, changes, and apparent solutions dissolve without notice.

My mind is logical.  Reason is a heavy cloak, and I pull it around myself to feel its comfort and weight.  Gentleness and patience and an eager kind of hope are threaded in, and it is deeply hued with emotion, but I always come back to reason.  Even in the face of something patently beyond mapping, I am constantly planting flags and describing the topography to myself, because I can’t let go of the hope that things will make sense later, and effects will be traceable to causes, and epiphanies will happen, and I will understand.

I should know better.  I am a curious choice as a companion to people with dementia, because I have a history of mental illness.  If there is anyone who should not be able to stand up under the stress of a job like this, it is myself.  I am weak; my mind is fragile; I am acutely aware of my own limitations; and yet I can do more than a person with a stronger constitution might.  I know what it feels like to watch my mind crumble.  I know what it is to stare into the dark and feel the last tendril of sanity fray.  To know I am losing myself, and that there is no guarantee I will surface again.

I see that fight in my companions.  Beneath the contempt and the striving for self-sufficiency is a suffocating panic that they are going blindly where we cannot follow.

This specter of loss–of self, of autonomy, of memory, of perspective, of safety–incites a need for control.  In my companions, it manifests as hoarding and hiding belongings; refusing food, care, and medicine; and demanding that everything be predictable and routine.

As for me, I keep gathering all the pieces to all the puzzles, and I am constantly seeking higher ground from which to get a better view of how all the pieces fit together.  I keep thinking that if I know more, if I do more, if I work harder, and if I have better tools, I will someday understand.

But it isn’t going to work out that way.  I will never unlock the mysteries; I will never arrive.

And the beauty lies inside the dilemma.  God has placed eternity in the hearts of men, but we cannot reach it ourselves.  We all long for the pieces to fit, for that one perfect thing that will make it okay.  Our hearts are tuned to perfection, and they long for it so keenly that it hurts.

But we can’t reach it.  We try, we try so long and so hard to do what is right, to arrive, to be what we should, and no matter how hard we try, we just can’t!  We fail.  We fall.

Some of us are gifted, and some are naturally happy.  We convince ourselves we are basically good and that doing our best is enough.  We manufacture happiness and brainwash away guilt.  We call the emptiness peace.  We take credit for our blessings and blame our pain on others.  Our lives are good enough, and we stifle the feeling that something is missing.  We strive for personal growth, self-sufficiency, and success, and some of us seem to find it.

But not me.  In a way, it is a blessing to know that I am capable of nothing.  I am so weak that any illusions I have of achievement on my own merit are quickly dashed.  I am a foundling, a rescue, an infant, completely dependent on my adopter for every need.

I am drowning, pulled by the riptide of my own evil heart.

But when I stop thrashing, I am held up, and I rise.  I find that the waters have washed me clean.  Air is a gift, and I forget I wanted more.  My heartbeat fills my ears and I remember I am alive.

My soul is quiet.

Soon my ears will fill with the chatter of the world and I will plunge forward into the climb and the mess, but here, baptized by surrender, I am still.  I remember that the perfection I strive for is not my own.  Life on this side of the veil will never make sense.  I will never arrive.  But there is a place, and my Rescuer is preparing it for me.  And there I will have rest, and my race will be won, and I will know fully.

For now, it is not knowledge or control or discipline or mastery that will bring the peace I seek, nor will it help my companions. We are all walking blindly into the dark facing giants we cannot best on our own.  Our nature compels us to open our eyes and lean forward into the fight, but it is only when we allow our Savior to carry us that peace comes, and the tyrant Fear falls

Monday, June 15, 2015

Academic Writing Sample

Sample Academic Writing
English/Poetry/Literary Criticism

The Warrior-Seducer:
The Tension between Assault and Salvation in John Donne’s
Batter My Heart, Three-Person’d God
By Anna Greeley

Poetry Essay
April 25, 2014

Holy Sonnets: Batter my heart, three-person'd God
By John Donne

1 Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
2 As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
3 That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
4 Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
5 I, like an usurp'd town to another due,
6 Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
7 Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
8 But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
9 Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
10 But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
11 Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
12 Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
13 Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
14 Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. (Holy 2014)

The God of the Old Testament seems nasty and vindictive to the modern eye.  He appears violent, destructive, and merciless.  Even Christians who claim to love God sometimes cling to the Jesus of the New Testament and turn their minds away from the acts of decimation performed in ancient days.   But when a soul sinks into despair and sin—when temptation is all he can see and life is lived in complete bondage—a Warrior God is needed.  John Donne gives voice to the sinner’s broken impotence and longing in his sonnet, “Batter my heart, three person’d God.”  His poem is a master-weaving of figures of speech, word choice, literary device, metric, and passion; in it, Donne uses form and technical matters to create and sustain a tension in the reader that mirrors the tension of the poem’s speaker as he is torn between two suitors: God and Satan. 

The most obvious level of tension in the poem is at the level of word choice.  Donne peppers his poem with metaphors of battle, linking salvation to images of captivity, seduction, and rape.  Nearly every line pummels the reader with words like batter, bend, o’erthrow, divorce,
imprison, and even ravish.  Donne presents the speaker [1] as promised in marriage to Satan or fleshly living (10).     The only two lines that do not contain violent words help describe the need for violence in the others.  In line 2, Donne shows that God has been gentle to him thus far—entirely too gentle.  God has been like a kind and beautiful visitor in his life: one who is greatly longed for, but who does not defend Donne against his other suitors/temptations.  Line 9 is perhaps the most striking and important in the whole poem. Though it contains no violence, it shows a deep, wounded longing: Donne loves this Visitor and would willingly, eagerly accept love from Him, but feels trapped in illicit thrall to his own fleshly passions.  Line 9 is the turn in the sonnet, and it lives up to its name.  Its yearning drives the language from violence into something even more shocking: rape. 
Donne’s word choice in line 14, “ravish,” has many denotations. To “seize and carry off” points back to the stated desire to be taken and imprisoned.  To “force (a woman or girl) to have sexual intercourse against her will,” takes that imagery further and shows the desperate nature of Donne’s feelings of fleshly weakness.  The word can also mean “to fill (someone) with intense delight; enrapture” (Ravish 2002, 1135).  This meaning is drawn out by the word “enthrall” in line 13.  Because Donne is betrothed to the Enemy (10), extreme measures are needed from his desired Beloved.  He wants God to take him as his prisoner, seduce him, and fill him forcibly.  These words are not usually used to describe a holy God, and they work to put the reader off-center.
1. Because it is possible that the poem describes Donne’s own feelings in his fight against temptation (Stephen 1899, 600), the speaker will be referred to as Donne himself.

Donne does not leave his attack strategy to the meanings and connotations of words, but also chooses them for the violence they create in the mouth.  He picks harsh sounds and places them against each other metrically (with accented syllables touching) to batter the reader.  The phrase, “yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend” (2) contains both cacophony (hear the repetition of “t” and “k” sounds) and clusters of stressed sounds (“knock,” “breathe,” and “shine” are all stressed).  Cacophony can cause the reader to trip over words, but, in pairing it with alliteration as Donne has here, these devices come together to speed up the pace of the poem. This is one more example of the way Donne uses opposing forces to create a response in the reader that mirrors the message of the poem: a passionate pulling in two directions.

Other tensions arise at the introduction of euphony and assonance.  Donne uses these devices sparingly to slow the reader in two places.  The first, in lines 7-8, is curious because the content here seems no different from the rest of the poem.  Possibly, the slowing of pace exists to give the reader a chance to understand the line itself.  Because of the forced rhyme at the end, a slow reading is necessary to perceive the correct meaning (Reason, personified, is evidence of God’s stamp on human life, and he should, like the Warrior God Donne entreats, rise up to defend Donne.  However, because Donne’s flesh is weak, this intended protective measure fails).  Possibly the slowing is intended to lead up to the incredibly poignant and crushing turn at line 9, which is the only instance of euphony (or may only seem euphonious at the sudden pause in the poem’s onslaught of cacophony).  The words at the poem’s turn are simple, unforced, uncreative, and pleasing to the ear.  Whatever its cause, the slowing of pace in lines 7-9 creates a lull to allow for the reader to agonize over and identify with the content here: a raw, unadorned, and heart-wrenching pleading.  The reader is only given a short break before Donne resumes his attack.  Cacophony, quick pacing, and words of violence begin again and carry throughout the remainder of the poem.  This coincides with a resumption of the speaker’s desperate pleas to be conquered.

Though the English sonnet was an extremely common poetic form in Donne’s time, Donne uses even the form of his poem to contribute to its tonal desire for submission.  The sonnet is rigid and formulaic, but Donne uses rebellious metric choices to build tension in the poem.  Because Donne adds trips and shouts (in clusters of unstressed or stressed syllables together), the poem moves along quickly and creates a sense of impassioned spontaneity.  He also uses slant rhyme in lines 10 and 12, rhyming “enemy” with “I”.  The word “enemy” actually rhymes with the end words in the closing couplet: “free” and “me.”  Linking these three words both bends the rules (adding to the tension between rigid formality and perversion that permeates the poem) and shows a connection between the words.  It expresses Donne’s desire to be free from the Enemy through the working of his ravishing, enthralling Suitor-Savior.

The tension and passion in Donne’s poem bring to mind the tensions that eventually confront every human being: the pull toward evil, and a countering desire to submit to a powerful Good.  Donne presents a considerable moral quandary, but refrains from referring to it in moral tones.  In this way, his poem becomes a tuning fork and a lightning rod, resounding powerfully with every reader who has known the despair of bondage, and yet pointing the reader toward the only cure for his condition: a God wild enough to conquer every stronghold, and loving enough to do so.


“Holy Sonnets: Batter my heart, three-person’d God.” Accessed April 25, 2014.
“Ravish.” The Oxford College Dictionary.  New York: Spark Publishing (2002).
Stephen, Leslie.  “John Donne.”  The National Review 40, no 202 (1889): 595-613.  

Proofread Nonfiction Book Chapter Example

Proofreading/Copy Editing Sample
Anna Greeley

The spender must also learn discernment. Some things that are cheap don’t last very long. The Dollar Store and Target’s dollar section are great places to teach the lesson that even though inexpensive things seem like a “good deal,” they aren’t a good deal[G1]  if they break. Cheap things are also not a good deal if the thrill in owning them doesn’t last any longer than the day you bought them. Discuss these aspects with the spender after he [G2] makes a purchase to give him wise eyes, to help him see that so many things available for him to buy don’t really bring joy beyond the initial rush of purchasing.
The saver[G3]  must learn to find the joy that spending money wisely can bring. He must understand that because he’ll need to spend money in his future, he needs to learn how to do it well. Often times, a saver feels guilty when he spends any money. He only wants to save it. He can be freed from this guilt when he learns to plan where he spends his money. Teach savers[G4]  to make a budget. As they get more money and more responsibilities, they should include categories for treating themselves and treating others. [G5] Then they should practice spending this money because it’s part of the plan.

 [G1]Edited for clarity
 [G2]Edited for clarity and pronoun/antecedent agreement
 [G3]You introduce the singular “saver” here; I have corrected the pronouns in the following paragraph for consistency with that singular choice.
 [G4]Now you have introduced the plural “savers.” It is a natural transition and works. 
 [G5]The original sentence does not flow with the previous ones.  Does my edit retain your meaning?

Business Technical Writing Sample

Proofreading Sample: Technical and Business Writing
Anna Greeley

TINR Associates is a new business that seeks to provide high-quality management software for American industry. We look for the best and brightest in programmers who can assist us with our mission of providing intuitive software that is quick to learn and effective for business. Our projects include a new word processer, a slideshow editor, a task manager and a spreadsheet system, each of which we believe will represent a new standard for interface between user and computer. In all of our projects, we hope to represent our motto of “Building[G1]  the technology of tomorrow for industry today.”

Our two founders, Jake and Andrew[G2] , began TINR while working together on fundraising efforts in Michigan. Too often, they found themselves spending too much time explaining layout and style conventions for publicity materials and not enough time in the field working for their causes. Their solution was a brand-new way of thinking about word processing which allowed them the time to follow their passion by promoting their causes around the state. In time[G3] , Jake and Andrew developed this initial word processor into an entire suite of products that they believe will revolutionize the way global business works.

About our Products

Our current line consists of four core programs: TINRWrite, TINRShow, TINRTask and TINRSpread.  It also includes the backup software TINRSafe and tablet versions of our software for Premium customers. Our mission is to give businesses an office software bundle that represents a new standard in quality and efficiency.

TINRWrite: TINRWrite is a brand-new way of approaching word processing that makes quality control incredibly simple and intuitive. Rather than pass along pre-formatted word documents that can be a pain to modify, TINRWrite leads authors through a series of tasks, then compiles their results into a single, professional-looking document. A manager only needs to create a single document that contains the desired formatting; TINRWrite’s programming will then convert the formatting constraints into a step-by-step procedure that any employee can follow. Businesses can use TINRWrite to build standardized newsletters, draft memoranda, and write project reports, which can lead [G4] to major gains in productivity and professionalism.

TINRWrite comes complete with a set of predesigned templates, but the possibilities for customization in the TINR suite are endless. Virtually any aspect of page design can be easily modified according to the user’s vision. Embedding videos or pictures

 [G1]The capital is optional, but using it makes for a stronger motto.  What do you think?
 [G2]Consider using last names? 
 [G3]Consider streamlining this sentence; am I correct in assuming that you want to show passage of time and not necessarily change of loyalty?
 [G4]I am trying to keep this tense consistent with the previously used “Businesses can use.”  If your meaning is that your software has led to increased productivity in specific instances, you can reference them specifically: “which has led to major gains in productivity for the companies who have used our software, such as:…”