RCL #7- It’s What I Do


The two photos that struck me the most were of Kahindo and her children (13th photo after page 210) and of the American soldiers carrying their comrade in a body bag (18th photo after page 210).  I think that Addario’s photos are composed like works of art, and that’s what makes them so captivating.  In the picture of Kahindo, Addario brilliantly uses lighting and the negative space to create movement across the photograph and draw your eyes to Kahindo’s illuminated face.  Her composition, lighting, and use of color in the soldier photograph is amazing, too.  What really strikes me about these photographs is the story they convey without words.  Kahindo’s photograph shows her and her children, shrouded in the darkness, gazing at the light- light that could represent the hope that they have for life after the escape.  Similarly, the photograph of the soldiers conveys the feelings of the scene- the soldiers’ heads are hung low as they carry an at-first inconspicuous bag through a green haze.  When you look at that photograph, you feel the emotional weight of having to carry a dead comrade, but also the cognitive dissonance of that very action being a common occurrence on the war front.  It’s amazing what she can make you feel and know, even if you hadn’t read the scenes the photos portrayed.

In my own blog, I have some great opportunities to use photographs.  So far, I’ve used them to educate, but in the future I could use media to convey what my feelings of excitement and inspire that in others through astrophotography.  There is something so wondrous about seeing a planet or a galaxy through a telescope, and words often can’t do the sight justice.  When people think of space they think of Hubble images or those from satellites, but often don’t know what space looks like from Earth.  When they find out, they are often pleasantly surprised.  I once showed a friend a picture I took of Saturn through a telescope and he said, “Oh my god, that’s amazing! I didn’t know you could see the rings!”  I would hope that in including some astrophotography, I can inspire a few people to feel what I felt looking through the telescope and possibly seek out a similar experience for themselves.  



RCL #6- It’s What I Do

In Ch. 8 of It’s What I Do, Addario details a scene where she attended Paul’s friend’s birthday party, and questions where she belongs.  Addario writes about how out of place she felt in this group of people- how her clothes, background, and experiences stuck out like a sore thumb.   She expressed how it made her question if she could be with Paul, when parts of his world so deeply conflicted with hers.  Addario makes this conflict relatable to us because, while most of our readers have never been under-dressed at our boyfriend’s high society party, we’ve all felt out of place and ostracized.  She relates herself to us, the average person, by talking about what a birthday party in New York requires “fitted jeans, a stylish top, a pair of high heels…” before describing the culture shock of the party, allowing us to see ourselves in her shoes and feel the acute discomfort and inadequacy that she felt as an outsider.

In my own life, I have experienced a similar conflict- of feeling out of place and wondering if a path is the right choice for me.  It occurred at SHO time, actually- when Dr. Kirsch gave a speech highlighting all the successes and achievements of our class.  Like Addario, I felt like I was in the company of people way out of my league, and wondered if this was really where I should be- thankfully, that’s not the case any more.

In my passion blog, though, I could talk about feeling like you don’t belong in the context of astronomy groups.  It can be intimidating to get involved with one-  you show up and it seems like everyone knows so much more than you, and it makes you wonder if it’s even worth it to continue.  I want to use my passion blog to address this and say that “Yes! It is worth it!”  Because here, unlike in Addario’s case, no one is judging you, and everyone just wants to help each other out.

RCL #3- It’s What I Do

In Lynsey Addario’s It’s What I do, there is a scene shortly after the liberation of Baghdad in which an altercation between American soldiers and Iraqi civilians becomes violent as Addario watches and photographs.  This scene in particular captured and enthralled me as I read because of its use of sentence structure to set a mood.

Here, Addario narrates with long, smooth sentences that get interrupted by short, choppy declarations.  These declarations serve to highlight the absurd, the important, and the dramatic moments within the scene.  More importantly, though, they make the reader feel as confused, unbalanced, and out of place as Addario did when she experienced it.  We are thrust from the comfort of complete and flowing narration to blunt and disjointed thoughts that put us on edge, which is a perfect feeling for the scene she described.  In addition, the breakdown of narration reflects the breakdown of peace and order in that scene and the disintegration of Iraq as a whole.  With a few sentence choices, Addario is able to convey not only what she feels, but also the chaotic atmosphere of post-Saddam Iraq.

In my own writing, I fall short on the structure aspect.  Too often, I rely on the comfort and safety of words and neglect the potential of the unspoken.  Just as in conversation, where half of what is said is through body language and tone of voice, the pacing and structure of writing conveys a message.  In my passion blog, I can use this technique in the same way Addario did, to convey subtly convey mood.  When telling a story, I can narrate how I remember, emphasizing flashbulb memories laden with emotion, instead of providing the whole scene.  For the more technical part of my blog, I can certainly use sentence structure to provide emphasis, but emotion might be a little harder to do.



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RCL #2- It’s What I Do

Lynsey Addario tells the story of her grandmother’s missed chance in love to demonstrate the choice that she and everybody must make in life: settle for safe and content, or take a risk and chase after passion. Addario’s choice is not about love, though, but about photography or a normal life. Where her grandmother chooses the safe route, Addario takes the leap and follows her love of photography. Her choice shows the weight Addario puts on her passion- to her, photography is on par with love.

The scene that thematized my passion was an experience of discovery. In theory, I loved space, but I couldn’t experience it. I was limited by light pollution, money, and my own ignorance. This changed In the spring of 2017, when I learned about star parties from my astronomy class in school. Star parties are gatherings of amateur astronomers to share their love of space and their telescopes with each other and the public. Of course, I attended the first one I could find!

What I witnessed there was beyond my wildest dreams. I saw nebulae, globular clusters, binary star systems, planets, and waved at the ISS as it passed overhead. I saw telescopes of every size and type I could imagine. I met people who know the night sky like an old friend, who were what I aspire to be.

That was a night that I will never forget, but what changed me the most was the realization of how easy it was. I didn’t need to road-trip for hours, empty my wallet, or know everything about astronomy. I just drove for 20 minutes and talked to some nice people, and everything I could have wanted was right there.

Space is (for the most part) unreachable, but I know now that experiencing it doesn’t have to be.

RCL #1- It’s What I Do

I’m a girl of many passions- skiing, drawing, astronomy, reading, violin, and musicals, to name a few. Just the thought of one of these passions is enough to put a smile on my face, and if asked, I could talk for hours about any one of them. That said, astronomy and skiing hold special places in my heart. Astronomy is my academic obsession, while ski racing is practically a way of life.

Astronomy, to me, is the perfect science. It combines physics, chemistry, math, geology, meteorology, and more into something that, despite sounding “out-of-this-world,” is real! I love this subject very much and want to share it with people. However, outside of movies and some classrooms, astronomy is relatively inaccessible to the average person. The way I see it, though, it doesn’t have to be. Backyard astronomy is something anyone can do, and I want to show people how. In this passion blog, I would talk about my experiences with backyard astronomy and share techniques, tips, and general information with readers.

Ski racing, my other passion, is my favorite sport. I love watching it, and, even more, I love doing it. Unfortunately, people rarely know what it is outside of the Olympics. Alpine ski racing is a fast-paced, technical sport that deserves a much bigger following.  I hope that in writing a blog about it, I can get people interested. The point of this passion blog would be to share things like how the sport works, who the big competitors are, the science and techniques behind it, and my own personal experiences racing! There’s so much to this underrated sport, and I want to give it the recognition and praise it deserves.

In summary, the astronomy blog would try to help others do their own astronomy, and the ski racing blog would educate its readers on the world of alpine racing.