Week 1 – PORCH – Semester 2

CLASS NOTES & MORE:

03.02.2022 – Class Notes


PROJECT:

PROJECT SUMMARY:

My project is a process of creation of a story inspired by research, as well as by my family members and memories. My aim is to educate myself and broaden my horizons – that’s why I decided to collaborate with my friends and colleagues and collect their responses.

These responses collected on my research cards will then be turned into inspiration for my story – the house and character designs, as well as the chapters themselves. Through trial and error, I’m still learning the best ways of creatively challenging my peers, as well as incorporating their feedback into my project.

As it’s my final semester at Aberystwyth University, I decided to come out of my shell and make the process much more external than all of my previous projects.

This is the starting week – you’re about to witness the first seeds of my idea sprouting through my first posts, as I’m testing the waters of my formula. Prepare yourself for a bittersweet beginning of an old lady’s story.

03.02.2022 – Thoughts and ideas!

After today’s class, my head was bursting with all the possible ideas for my project! I came into the workshop feeling lost and directionless, and went out of it struggling to keep up with all of the ideas that kept appearing!

But, to not get too carried away, I decided I won’t think too much of the outcome (…yet) and instead, I’ll focus on the beginning.

My current idea is simplicity in itself – every week, I’ll focus on a different “room” of my imaginary house. I’ll do research, draw whatever comes to mind, and engulf myself in all the meanings, connotations and inspirations the particular place has.

Learning from my past mistakes, I don’t want to estabilish any schedule. All I know is I want to post a lot, but not necessarily everyday. If that means I’ll only post one day per week, but with a bunch of things at once, or post partially, but every single day, then so be it!

Since we have 13 weeks to spend on our projects, I will have 13 areas of interest in my imaginary house. Those rooms (and places) will be:

Ground Floor: PORCH, GARAGE, CORRIDOR, KITCHEN, BATHROOM, LIVING ROOM;
Basement Level: BASEMENT, LAUNDRY ROOM;
First Floor: STUDY, LIBRARY, MASTER BEDROOM, KID BEDROOM
Second Floor: ATTIC

It’s a rather large house!

This week, I will focus on the PORCH – the entrance to my imaginary HOME.

White Wicker Padded Bench
Pexels – Brett Sayles

03.02.2022 – Research

Articles used for this research:

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5626758&t=1643918033329

https://www.npr.org/2006/07/28/5589974/sitting-on-the-porch-not-a-place-but-a-state-of-mind

https://www.newsy.com/stories/what-porches-in-to-kill-a-mockingbird-tell-us-about-class/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porch

Genesis of porch as a word can be traced back to Latin – words porticus – “collonade” and porta – “passage”. Passage seems to work well in this case. It’s also worth mentioning that the word porch may describe two different concepts in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

The magic of the porch lies in its nature – that of a transitional space between the comfort of your home and the shenanigans of the outside world. The truth is, that each room in my hypothetical house has its charm and magic. I could bring up the argument of uniqueness in regards to any of the rooms and it wouldn’t be a lie. The porch, however, brings this to another level.

Your porch, as well as the appearance of your entire house on the outside, serves as an advertisement of you, your family and your entire home. It’s no coincidence, that the porch is an important and iconic part of the 1962 classic – To Kill A Mockingbird, a film focusing on racial injustices in Southern America. By looking at your porch, it’s easy not only to estabilish your socioeconomic hierarchy, but also to simply figure out your personality traits.

At this point, the porch is known as a staple element of a typical American house. It’s a place where both conflicts and peaceful moments take place.

04.02.2022 – Research + Experimentation (Cont’d)

07.02.2022 – Experimentation

Character design – Mrs. Przybylska

This character has a really simple design, to the point where it might not fit the stereotypical attire for her age group. She was designed after my family member, and is going to be one of the three main characters in my novella.

Mrs. Przybylska is a talkative old lady living alone in her once loud and lively house. Her only companion is her beloved chihuahua called Coco. After losing her husband to an illness, maintaining the house became quite troublesome for the old lady. She decided to list it for sale, and soon enough, a pair of two potential customers reached out to her.

A Lifetime To Remember – Chapter 1

Anna and Jenny looked around in confusion. The two of them were heading towards a rural area, somewhere in the outskirts of the city. They thought they were prepared, with their handy GPS, a photo of the building and its address saved on their devices. Unfortunately, they weren’t familiar with that area, and their GPS seemed to go crazy – constantly looping through that same street.

“I’m telling you; we should’ve turned right on that road!” Anna shouted towards her girlfriend, who, unlike herself, stayed calm and analyzed the roads branching in front of her.

“I think we should first turn left and then right.” Jenny calmly replied.

Anna let out a frustrated sigh and rolled down her window to smoke a cigarette.

“Whatever. We’re late anyway.”

“You’re pregnant.” Jenny reminded her partner, still focusing on the road.

“Great! There goes my single joy in life!” Anna shouted and shoved the cigarette back in the box.

Jenny didn’t seem to be affected by Anna’s sudden outbursts and remarks. They were a couple of more than two years, and Jenny already had her share of Anna’s frustrations. The truth is, Anna’s irritability and mood swings weren’t frequent, but rather intense. They were created by high amounts of stress and anxiety, fueled by her fear of failure. Unpaid bills, problems at work, unmet expectations. Anna never reacted to situations like these well, but it was always manageable. Now that she was pregnant, her emotions were a ticking bomb.

Anna was almost about to roll her window back up, as she noticed a familiar building on top of a hill.

“Wait, what about this one? It’s far, but it looks like the one in the picture.” Anna said, pointing at a small building to their right.

Jenny stopped the car and pulled out her phone to look at the picture.

“You’re right.” She smiled awkwardly, making Anna roll her eyes.

The women parked their car on the driveway and looked around. The house looked identically to the picture, as expected – a white, split-level ranch style building with an attached garage and a patio. It wasn’t particularly beautiful nor an abomination of architecture – in fact, nothing about it stood out. Anna was quite lucky to be able to spot it in the sea of similar, bland-looking homes.

Anna and Jenny looked at each other, then approached the building. On the patio was a small, mostly unused garden, an old wooden bench, and a torn swing. Different potted flowers lay on the floor, bringing some color into the patio. These seemed to have been taken care of well, producing vibrant, healthy flowers. On the bench sat an elderly lady dressed in all black. According to her contact information, her name was Mrs. Przybylska. Neither Jenny nor Anna knew how old she truly was, since she looked rather healthy for her age group.

“I started thinking you wouldn’t come!” The lady laughed and approached the women.

“Hi! We’re so sorry for being late, we barely found the place!” Anna laughed awkwardly and shook hands with the lady. “My name is Anna, and this is my partner, Jenny.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you. Feel free to address me as Stanisława, I know my surname is quite a mouthful.”

“They’re both a mouthful…” Jenny thoughtlessly exclaimed, resulting in an elbow nudge from Anna.

Mrs. Przybylska eyed them carefully and thought for a while.

“Say, is it just you two? I’m afraid this house might be too big for such a small family…”

“Oh, don’t worry! One is on its way, and we do plan on adopting in the future.” Said Anna with a forced laughter.

“Well, I hope you plan on adopting at least three kids, because living here might get quite sad for a small family. I speak from experience.”

Jenny and Anna looked at each other, confused. Mrs. Przybylska seemed to be rather serious. In that moment, both started to feel uncomfortable. After all, they didn’t know this woman, and it shouldn’t be of interest to her whether they’re even planning a family or not.

“We’re planning on adopting at least two.” Jenny broke the silence with her typical, awkward smile.

Mrs. Przybylska smiled warmly and patted Jenny on her shoulder.

“That’s great. I’m glad.” She said with a sign of relief on her face. “Ah, but don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I think everyone needs offspring to be happy. My grandchild, Noah, would always say he never wants anything to do with children. And that’s okay. Some people just have a different purpose in life.”

Anna looked first at Mrs. Przybylska, then at Jenny. Both were staring at each other, their confusion screaming “And what does it have to do with us?” As much as they didn’t want to be rude to the old lady, they weren’t sure how to react. They just wanted to see the house and have it over with.

“I totally agree. Anyway, can we come inside?” Said Anna, with all the politeness she could muster.  

“Naturally, we will, but why make haste? You’re not in a hurry, are you?” Stanisława smiled gently.

“No, we’re not, but…” Anna started the sentence, but cut it in half, not knowing how to finish it.

“Why don’t we drink some lemonade first? I made it myself, so tell me if you like it!”

Mrs. Przybylska guided the two women to the wooden bench and poured them a glass of lemonade. They reluctantly sat down and took the glass from her. Jenny, not trusting the old lady, decided to spill out the contents of the glass while she wasn’t looking. Anna, however, was rather thirsty, and decided to take a sip.

“That’s tasty! Mind telling me the recipe?” Said Anna, taking another sip from the glass.

“Sure, it should be somewhere in the kitchen.” Nodded the old lady. “Ahh, lemonade. It really brings me back to the old times. I remember how our neighbor, Karen, would sneak into our garden to steal our lemons.”

Mrs. Przybylska stopped to look at the women, and when she was met with no reaction, she decided to continue. “It seems ridiculous, but you never know what people are capable of.” She finished her sentence to take another sip out of her glass. “At first, I didn’t know it was her. She would have her kids, those cheeky brats, sell freshly squeezed lemonade. And we didn’t notice the connection!”

Jenny smiled towards Mrs. Przybylska and nodded. She was slowly losing hope about ever getting to see the house.

“How did you realize it was her?” Anna asked, trying her best to seem genuinely intrigued.

Mrs. Przybylska laughed. “Of course, we caught her red handed! It happened when my parents were staying over. Their dog bravely defended our territory. If only you could see her face! She started spewing something silly about reporting us for the dog ‘attacking her’, but it was just her immature attempt at saving her face. You could say she really lived up to her name!”

Anna laughed at the remark. She didn’t suspect this old lady knew about the pejorative meaning of that name, since it emerged from Internet Culture.  

Mrs. Przybylska got up and upon noticing all three glasses were empty, cleaned them up. Filled with relief upon realizing, that they will finally get to see the house from the inside, the two women followed her. Stanisława pulled out her house keys and waved towards them.

“Since we’re already here, why don’t we start from the garage?”

Mrs. Przybylska clicked a button on the small remote attached to her keychain, and soon after, the garage doors started slowly lifting, revealing the contents of the room.

Little did Anna and Jenny know that they were in for a complete recollection of Mrs. Przybylska’s life. And it had only just begun.

12.02.2022 – Group experimentation

I asked my classmates to write down and draw whatever comes to their mind when they think about the porch! They could either ignore or get inspired by whatever was written on the cards. Here are the results!

13.02.2022 – Research

Porches in “To Kill A Mockingbird”

What Porches in 'To Kill A Mockingbird' Tell Us About ...
Still from “To Kill A Mockingbird”

“To Kill A Mockingbird” is a really powerful movie about racial prejudice and a family trying to get by in 30s Alabama. While the story is quite shocking and tear-jerking, I’m not someone who feels up to the task of reviewing or even analyzing it. And that’s why I’ll focus on its representation of the porch.

The movie was mentioned quite often while I conducted my research about the porch, not without reason. The porch is one of the most frequent places appearing in the film. It’s on the porch where the kids are seen playing, and where Atticus bonds with his daughter. On the other side, it is also the porch where the devastating news of Tom Robinson’s death are revealed to his close ones. It’s a place where the characters develop their personality further, where they learn the difficult skill which is empathy. As crucial as the porch is for the development of their personality, it’s an important first step at exploring a home.

14.02.2022 – Porch Design

This was designed with the help of my fellow classmates and their suggestions! See the “Group Experimentation” to read their thoughts.

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