Maisha Foster-O'Neal’s Campus Journal

what things people leave behind

Mel and I modeled for our friend Kirsten for one of her photography projects
the assignment was to tell a story with photos
Whoa. Whoa. I survived the gauntlet of Finals! It was a close call, but here I am, and it’s Day One of summer break. I start work in less than a week. It’s probably my last summer working as a preschool teacher, because The Plan is that by this time next year, I will be graduated and for-reals employed.

Here’s the Top Ten quick and dirty rundown of what happened in the last few weeks.

My friends Matt and Ali in Secret in the Wingsone of the senior plays was outside and included driving a car and climbing on a trash shed1. Senior Plays – I went and saw four of the six plays that the senior theatre majors directed. My favourite was The Secret in the Wings, a surreal performance combining fairytales, children’s perspectives, and dreams.

The Clothesline Project is always part of Take Back the Nightmusic behind the Manor Houseoutdoor concerts in April run the risk of rain, wind, and cold2. Take Back the Night – We had an outdoor concert featuring Telepathic Liberation Army, Kusikia, and Magic Johnson. It was a little mizzly (that’s mist/drizzle for you non-Portlanders) but they played anyway and we danced anyway. Between sets, I covered a wrenching Andrea Gibson poem called Blue Blanket (viewer discretion advised!), and a few of my friends on the Apocalips Slam Poetry Team spit a couple of their original poems. We also had a candlelight vigil for survivors of domestic and sexual assault, followed by a march in the dark around campus, chanting “it’s not fair, it’s not right, the streets are ours, take back the night!” Afterward, I co-facilitated a Rubberwear Party in which we all learned about safer sex and sexual consent. One of the awesome founders of It’s My Pleasure came out again for the sex toys portion of the evening. Considering it was at 10pm on a Friday right before Finals, we had an awesome turnout! Probably because we bribed people with Voodoo doughnuts. It was so successful that we’re going to do it again in September!

I sold some of my buttons and none of my shirts at a rather rainy DIY Bazaar3. Stumptown Comic Fest – I finally got to go this year! I brought along copies of my recently-completed Sex Talk comic and passed it out to anyone who would take it. Some artists even traded me their legit merchandise for my photocopied three-page packet. I got to meet a few of my favourite comic artists, including Canadaland’s Kate Beaton. It was rad. I’m currently submitting my Sex Talk comics for potential publication by DIY publishing industries and a few progressive magazines.

Section Line Drive actually enjoys singing more than it would  appear4. All Out Drag Ball – I dressed like a dude and danced like a spaz. It was good times.

nom nom nom falafel5. AcaBOOM – Five of our six a cappella groups performed in a two-day concert series called AcaBOOM. Section Line Drive just released their first CD, entitled Is Love Alive? and I actually cannot stop listening to it. I love a cappella thiiiiiis much. I posted a few of the songs on my youtube channel.

I love rice and hummus and smiling like a muppetMel got Vanilla Rooibos and I got Jamaican Rooibos, hers tasted like a kitchen and mine like a garden6. Date – Mel and I went a date to Hoda’s Middle Eastern restaurant. It’s in SE Portland, so we figured we wouldn’t see many LC students (who tend to cling to the West side), but we were wrong – there were four or five LCers hanging around Belmont. After dinner, which gets thumbs up from both of us, we took public transit up to 23rd Avenue in NW Portland and had tea at our favourite little tea place, Tea Chai Té. We played Sorry! and drank rooibos tea until they closed and kicked us off the comfiest couch in the world.

Mel studying hard for finals… with her eyes closed…7. Finals – almost killed me this year. I had two sit-down exams, one presentation, one take-home exam, and three final papers. The most insane day, I spent from 10am to 3am solid studying, with breaks for food and physical movement only. I found that ten minutes of hula hooping and doing push-ups in the middle of my room every hour or so was a good way to get things flowing again. But man, it was rough. I’m glad it’s over, and I hope next semester is gentler!

this was the kitchen before Andrew and I attacked it with trash bags and bleachThis is my staff gear sweatshirt - which one is me?people graduated8. Cleanup – As an RA, I stay a few days after students are supposed to be out of the residence halls, doing Closing. That means I get to clean up after everyone else! Hooray! For some reason, whoever was in charge of clearing out the communal fridge in our kitchen this semester decided that the best way to do that would be to empty everything onto the counters and then just leave it there. It took like three hours to clean the kitchen to my satisfaction – but then again, I have high standards. The lounge accumulated a pile of stuff people didn’t want, so I bagged it all up and hauled it off to the donation center on campus. Super special secret about how to pay for college: salvage abandoned things at the end of the year and sell them! You would be amazed what things people leave behind.

genius way to entertain small children during commencement!9. Graduation – happened. And I got sunburned at Commencement. I clapped a lot and rolled my eyes less than expected. It’s so weird to think about the fact that I’ll be the one graduating next year. I swear I just started college! What is this senior year devilry? Freaky!

Adrian and Mel teaching each other to do some sort of fancy  dancingLC students are from everywhere!this part was just Mel goofing around10. Next Year – I will be an RA in Forest. If you’re an incoming first-year female-type student with any sort of interest in feminism or gender studies or identity politics, consider requesting to be housed in Forest, and specifically in Spruce. My floor in Spruce is the all-girls floor, and I’m hoping to construct it into a sort of feminist collective. Don’t worry, there are plenty of guys living upstairs, it won’t be like living in a nunnery. (If you already sent in your housing stuff, email the director of housing, Sandi, at and tell her you want to be in Spruce on the all-girls floor.) Also, I scored that internship I applied for at SMYRC. Next year I’ll be the Bridge 13 intern, traveling around Oregon on Mondays to do Safe Spaces trainings. It is basically going to be Awesome On Wheels.

I probably will not be blogging for Real Life next year, but I’m always available via email to field questions, compare thoughts, and keep it real.

11 May 2010

I’m writing two papers today…

Hey readers, I’m waaaay too backed up with final papers, projects, and study sessions this week to do a proper blog entry, but I’ll catch you all up during Finals Week, when I will actually have a good bit of free time when I’m not sitting for exams.

In the meantime, here is the link to the big comic strip project I’ve been bantering on about for the last month. It’s called Sex Talk: a comic about communication, consent, & gettin’ it on. It’s SFW (safe for work), meaning there’s no profanity or nudity or violence, but the concepts may be more appropriate for a mature audience.

25 April 2010

sat down and banged out

What would the plural form of trillium be, trillia?CPR manequins come with removable faces in convenient duffle bagsmeet our newly elected student body president, Dith Pamp.It’s scramble time. I don’t have much to say this week because mostly I’ve been saying No. There’s tons of awesome stuff going on in April, but my final projects and papers are such a powerful force that I’m snatching every bit of unstructured time to get work done instead of going to all of the awesome stuff that’s happening. I totally brought this on myself – it was my brilliant idea to do a series of comic strips instead of a research paper as my final Gender in Relational Comm project. While it’s way more work, time-wise, it is exponentially more rewarding for me than a paper would be.

my brother and I do not actually speak JapaneseI finished the first two pages of my comic series and printed out thick stacks of them at the on-campus Copy Center. On Sunday, I’ll trundle around campus and stick them everywhere, guerilla art style, but with Administrative approval. The comics, which are called “Sex Talk: a comic about communication, consent, & gettin’ it on” are a humourous approach to teaching my fellow community members why consent is valuable, how to do it, and ways to do it creatively. I structured the pages so that they are sequential. The first page covers the basics, the second page delves a little more deeply into theory and complexity, and the third page presents alternative ways to do consent besides the basic Question: Would you like this? Answer: Yes/No script. I don’t have the comics online yet, but I’ll get them up once I finish inking the third and final page.

the trees think it’s spring, they are sillyAlong with the comics, I’m co-facilitating a Rubberwear Party next Friday as part of Take Back the Night. The Rubberwear Party is a combination consent workshop, safer sex lesson, and toy introduction. The Forest Area Director David and I just sat down and banged out our agenda, which features a movie clip and some quality parlor games. One of the founders of Portland’s independent feminist shop, It’s My Pleasure, will be doing the toy piece of the evening after the parlor games. It’s gonna be so good.

At some point, I probably ought to start my other final projects. I’m writing a paper on something to do with feminism and Catholicism in my Women in US Religious History class, and I have yet to solidify my topic and to collect my sources and about two weeks in which to do it. And our Queer Studies professor finally assigned the last paper of the semester, which is an intriguing prompt about female masculinity that probably won’t get any attention from me until a few days before it’s due because I’m so consumed by this Comm comic-and-workshop project. (I have to write a series of synthesis papers on the project as a whole; it doesn’t end with the comics and the Rubberwear Party.)

Course registration wrapped up this week. Here’s my lineup for next semester: Statistics, Psychology of Gender, Feminist Theory, and… Rock Climbing! I’ve loved having a PE the last two semesters, so even though I don’t need the credits, I’m going to keep taking one PE class per semester to keep my endorphins in shape. I think it’s a great plan.

We got personal satisfaction and matching t-shirts at Spring Into  ActionAnd we did.Ian and Brian showin’ some labels what’s whatLast weekend I did something not academics related! I participated in Spring Into Action, a large-scale community service day whereby members of the LC community propelled themselves into all corners of Portland for a bit of good ol’ fashion volunteer work. I vanned to the Q Center with my classmates Ian, Ginny, and Kira; an international student from Japan I hadn’t met; an alumnus staff member; and a sociology/anthropology professor. We processed a big chunk of the 3,000 books that had been donated to the Q Center’s library – we entered the books into their online cataloguing system, stamped them, labeled their spines, and shelved them. It was a little bit tedious, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need to chill out a bit. It was really rewarding too, because we could see just how much progress we made.

Now to make some progress on my schoolwork. Hello, weekend. Let’s be homework buddies.


16 April 2010

wrestling with deadline dragons

Mel carefully placed ground pistachios on each flower-shaped cookie
this is how you make fancy grid patterns on round cookiesthe horror!we tied a bow around the box so we wouldn’t open it and keep eating the cookies before dinnerthis is sorrel, it’s edible and grows in crowds along one of the paths to the libraryone of my favourite pieces at the senior art exhibitthe senior art exhibit floors me every yearthis piece was made entirely out of wood and materials from the compost heap on campuslook, baby pteridophytes!This part of the semester is always about wrestling with deadline dragons. Consequently, my entries may be contracting a case of brevity. Possibly.

Last weekend was Easter! Mel and I made Noon Berenji cookies, which were dangerously delicious. They’re primarily butter and sugar, but I can eat them because they’ve got rice flour instead of wheat flour. Win! While I was in the middle of punching the dough into flower shapes, one of my residents popped in dressed in a full-body Easter bunny suit. It was completely terrifying and NOT OKAY. But we gave her a cookie and she went away.

When we went to dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house in Salem, Mel and I were introduced to my cousin’s cousin, who is visiting from Thailand. We had a really good time trading holiday explanations. Trying to explain how the Easter Bunny has any sort of connection to the resurrection of Jesus was kind of impossible, so we moved on to talk about other traditions, like the Tooth Faerie. Apparently in Thailand, when you lose a tooth you’re supposed to make a wish and chuck it somewhere you won’t find it. That’s cool and all, but I like the tooth-in-exchange-for-money system better.

It’s class registration time! After a bit of a tussle, I got into Psych Statistics. While Stats isn’t necessarily my first choice as far as enthusiasm goes, I registered for it during the first round of registration because it will fill up faster than any of the other courses I want to take. Stats is a prerequisite that a lot of classes require, so competition is steep. If all goes according to plan, by this time next week I will be successfully registered for Feminist Theory, Psychology of Gender, and Yoga. With a potential two-credit internship tacked on, that’ll bring the tally up to 15 credits total. Sweet.

This week, I’m devoting two of my evenings to the Red Watch Band program. It’s a national by-students for-students training course that teaches youth how to recognize and respond to signs of alcohol poisoning. The idea is that students looking out for other students can help reduce the number of alcohol-related deaths that occur nationwide on and off college campuses. We round off the program next week by getting a free CPR training! Good deal, since I need my CPR certification updated for my summer job.

I am increasingly exploiting my waking hours to work on my comic strip project. The first page is sketched, but that means that I still have two more to sketch, then inking, scanning, copying, printing, and distributing. It’s a lot to do, and I’m supposed to be ready for the distribution stage by next Sunday. With just over a week to complete all that, I’ve gotta get crackin’!

Hey prospective students! College selection is a lot like speed dating. Send your best getting-to-know-you questions to me at And if you see me when you visit campus, say hi!

9 April 2010

test run cooking

the trees on campus think they are popcorn
playing on the beach!Jada watched from the sidelines while Moki wore himself out swimming for sticksMt Hood dresses in floral prints for spring and so should youDith gets to fill in the speech bubble with inspiring campaign-ish  wordsthe ceramic clams have invaded campus, they are everywhere in large numbers!Matthew explains Easter eggs to Auntie MelAndrew and Auntie Mel playing songs togetherTato Bug likes to play the plinky keys randomly while Auntie Mel plays recognizible thingswe used a deceptive amount of butterthis is how Mel announces that it’s snuggle timeWe had a Block Party in my building on Friday featuring too many   balloons and SethI am a big fan of tea, psychology, puns, and drawing myself.Springtime in Portland is always such a messy affair. In the past two weeks I’ve experienced shorts and mild sunburns, a series of deluges, cold winds, and a hail storm. Spring break itself tripped all over itself in the weather department. My brother came home from San Luis Obispo for spring break, and we spent our week just chilling out. We hiked to the top of Multnomah Falls, hill-walked Portland, threw sticks for our fetch-obsessed cocker spaniel Moki on Sauvie Island beach, and drank a lot of tea. I finally got around to seeing Avatar, but the 3-D glasses gave me a killer headache, because they didn’t fit over my regular glasses very well. I also spent a good portion of break reading and researching for class.

A lot of the research I did over break was for my Gender in Relational Communication final project. I read academic articles studying date rape and communication, but my sources also included zines and the wonders of the internet, from myspace blogs to manifestos. Probably my most useful and interesting source was the zine Learning Good Consent, available in a Portland zine shop called Microcosm Publishing. I will be modeling my comics on a lot of the perspectives and advice offered in that little zine. This week I met with the director of Health and Wellness to get administrative approval to post my drawings up all over campus during the week leading up to Take Back the Night, which is on April 23rd. I gotta get busy drawing!

ASLC, our student government, is in the midst of office elections. My friend Dith is running for president, and she let me draw her for her campaign. I heard that she kicked butt at the debate on Thursday, but I couldn’t be there for it because I had meetings and interviews. One of the things that I like about LC is that students really do have a lot of voice in what goes on with the school. The Administration does a pretty good job informing students about changes and asking for input ahead of time. For the most part, LC actually wants to make itself a better place for students, and I think that’s a fairly uncommon sentiment for colleges. Anyway. Enough sentimentality.

This morning, my girlfriend Mel and I had Easter breakfast with her family. Her nephews, Andrew and Matthew, junglegymed all over the house to fill their Easter baskets with plastic eggs that the Easter Bunny had left behind. They’re such sweet kids, they kept offering everyone their candy. Tomorrow night, Mel and I are going down to Salem to have an Easter dinner with my family. As our contribution to the meal, Mel and I are making Noon Berenji, which are Persian rice flour shortbread cookies. Mel is half Iranian, so we got the recipe and some of the ingredients from her mom, who was thrilled that we wanted to learn how to make them.

The excitement of this Saturday evening was dinner and a movie, college student style. Mel and I made quinoa topped with mushrooms, goat cheese, and pine nuts, and sautéed bell peppers, onions, tofu, and basil. It was really yummy! I’m glad I’m doing my cooking test runs now, so that hopefully by the time I graduate I won’t be completely helpless in the kitchen. After eating our dinner, we trundled down to Templeton Student Center to watch the free screening of Sherlock Holmes. Yeah, we party hard. Watch out, weekends.

My biggest excitement of the week is that I probably most likely scored the perfect internship for next year! SMYRC (Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center) offered me an interview for a position working with the Bridge 13 program, which is awesome times ten because no joke, that is actually what I want to do with my life right now. Bridge 13 is a program that goes to schools and other youth-filled places and conducts “creating safe spaces” workshops that teach staff members how to be welcoming to and affirming of frequently marginalized identities. It’s pretty neat. I’ve been on the participant side a few times, and every time I participated in the workshops, I shouted to my friends afterward that “that’s my ideal career right there!” So, yeah, it’s really good news that SMYRC might want me to be their indentured servant next year.

Your emails will find me at if it’s meant to be.

3 April 2010

no encounters with the supernatural

Andrew’s sculpture, which includes this and 2,000 clay clams, has invaded all of campusI finished sewing another shirt!rumour has it that the mugs the Bon provides for student use were salvaged from Goodwill; we love themmarimba at the international fair! Mel is in the middle backsome LC students playing the sitar and tablas at the International FairEmdowd is Germany incarnateSection Line Drive doin’ their A Cappella thinga dance from China at the International FairVilna’s Got a Golemsee what I mean about the wacked out makeup?Vilna’s still got a Golemafter our meal Dith was too full to smilea Maisha s’more, with peanutbutter and dark chocolate and no graham cracker!we are all so animal-deprived that when dogs appear on campus, people decend on them in hordesDog Day treats, mmmm freeze-dried lamb liver!
Spring break always arrives barely in time. Ten weeks without a break is pretty brutal. Weekends are devoted to trying to catch up on homework and sleep, they are not actually much of a reprieve. At least not once you’re a junior. I’m going home around noon on Friday as soon as I’m done with class. Woo!

In protest of not having much in the way of R&R in the past few months, my body vociferously asserted its needs. Starting Monday, I was in isolation mode, forbidden to leave my room because I had the flu. Fortunately, after 48 hours of fevers, headaches, coughs, and general lethargy it’s pretty much run its course. I got to reemerge into the world yesterday afternoon! And it was even sunny. How about that. (My girlfriend Mel took super great care of me while I was languishing in illness – she got me meals from the Bon, ran errands all over campus, and got me a flu kit from the Health Center so I would have thermometers and ibuprofen.)

Every year, the International Fair coincides with Family Weekend. Students commandeered the Bon kitchens to prepare and serve little tastes of foods from all over the world. There were also lessons in and information about culturally-specific art, fashion, and life. Mel and a bunch of other students played marimba, and their performance was followed by a student jazz band. After the food, everyone poured into the Chapel for the performance portion of the day. There was a fashion show, songs and dances from all over the world, poetry reading, and a preview of the French play (opening tonight!) in which Mel stars. During the raffle draw, I won a $25 gift certificate to Hoda’s Middle Eastern Cuisine. I think a date is in order.

Mel and I went to see the mainstage play, Vilna’s Got a Golem, last week. It was good, but weird. The costumes were excellent and the makeup was intense and bizarre. I really liked the meta-play format, because it managed to make the whole thing feel more real. It seemed designed for a very specific (Jewish) audience, but because I took Intro to Judaism last year, I could at least recognize some of the more obscure jokes, even if I didn’t always understand them. Now that the play is over, I think it’s okay to post some photos from the performance.

Last week, I suspended my classwork for three days in order to give myself over completely to the Gender Studies Symposium. I had put so much work into it over the course of the past year that I figured by the time it actually arrived I would be burned out and just ready for it to be over, but I actually really enjoyed it. I attended 11 of the 27 different sessions. I think my favourite event was Kemi’s performance of her self-written, self-performed one-woman play Jabulile! It told the stories of four Swaziland street vendor women, but the stories felt very universal. Kemi will be performing Jabulile! at an international arts festival in South Africa this summer. At the Symposium Art Show, my comic strips won $50! I can actually make money doing self-gratifying artwork? Sweet!

Last weekend was retreat! My RA staff team twisted our way up to Welches, Oregon, a little town snuggled into the snowy foothills of Mt Hood. Retreat included boardgames, bad ’80s movies, the next generation of s’mores, grilled masterpieces, a hot tub, and a crazy long staff meeting. Someone had written in the guestbook that a little girl ghost haunted the house and put toys in shoes, but we had no encounters with the supernatural. Maybe next time.

Today I’m going to class for the first time in six days! What with the Symposium and then the flu, it’s been awhile since I’ve been in the classroom. I have a midterm exam in Intro to Queer Studies today, but I’m not too worried about it because I’ve done all of the readings for that class and I got an A on my last paper. I can’t do worse on it than I did on my last midterm, where I forgot to write an essay that was worth almost half of the exam. (It’s okay, my professor took pity on me and so I’m doing a make-up essay over Spring Break to compensate for that goof-up.)

It’s Prospie Season! The prospective students are out on campus in full force. With questions. That can be answered by emailing me at See ya after Spring Break!

18 March 2010

chocolate chip umbilical cord

the trees are excited about springyou can tell when something fancy is about to happen on campus because these banners go up everywhereMel’s foot is particularly cute while she’s sleepingmy bathtub watches me while I bathe, it’s intimidatingthis is the view of the Lewis & Clark webpage from my desktoptea is always gluten-free!my newly-discovered favourite wall downtownour ingredients are happy to be part of a forthcoming pizzafaces, faces everywhere!our magnificent pizza, pre-ovenmy new basil plant, unnamed as of yetour gluten-free cookie baby and its umbilical cordI usually hold babies on pans this wayfirst family portrait? Maybe.Mel admiring our suddenly chubby baby just after its time in the ovenIt was a learning week. I learned to check both sides of midterm exams before getting too invested in a particular question; I learned the scientific basis of Haitian zombification; I learned how not to make a gluten-free pizza; and I learned that sometimes the best remedy for campus craziness is to get off the hill for a few hours.

I had a midterm exam in Women in Religious History, and after an evening study session with half my classmates (there are only ten of us in the course) in front of an electric fire, I felt pretty prepared to nail it. On the day of the exam, just as the clock struck class is over o’clock, I dropped the last period onto the end of the last sentence of the last essay. And then I turned the exam over. There was a whole ‘nother essay question, worth almost half the exam. Most of my classmates stayed extra long to finish the last essay – it was a lot of content to fit into an hour and a half – but I had a meeting with my Comm professor to get to, so I couldn’t stay. I emailed my professor later explaining the situation and hoping for mercy, and after some deliberation she agreed to let me do the last exam question as a take-home, two- to three-page formal essay. In my experience, professors are pretty good about cutting you some slack if you ask for it with legitimate reason. Most of my professors seem to care about the whole me, not just the classroom me; they all know that the impending Gender Studies Symposium is partially inducing my erratic behaviour.

The Symposium starts on Wednesday! We’re featured on the Lewis & Clark homepage even. Last weekend, Mel and I walked half of Portland to hang our fancy Symposium posters all over the city. We kicked off with a visit to a gluten-free bakery called Coffee Plant, where I got a gluten-free blueberry scone for free because it was a couple of days old – score! In the process of hanging posters, we met a variety of independent coffee shops, friendly gay bars like Embers, and places with surprise gluten-free options, like Pizzicato. By the third hour of taping posters, we were significantly less enthusiastic about the task than we had been in the first hour, so we called it quits and rewarded ourselves with pad thai from a food cart. It was really refreshing to get off campus for a few hours and appreciate Portland, but it was nice to come “home” to my dorm room afterward too.

When Mel and I returned to campus, we baked a Maisha-friendly pizza! No wheat, cow dairy, or tomatoes. We haphazardly combined several different pizza crust recipes, replacing demands for flour with rice flour and tapioca flour. It looked and smelled delicious once we loaded it up with olive oil, basil, spinach, mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, Kalamata olives, and goat cheese, but the crust was actually really awful. We ended up eating off the toppings and throwing the crust out. Lesson learned: next time, we’ll actually follow a gluten-free crust recipe.

Our next gluten-free adventure was far more successful. On Wednesday night, Mel and I made a cookie baby to celebrate our nine-month-iversary. We used a legit recipe that called for oat flour. I gave it a smile and Mel gave it a chocolate chip umbilical cord. Our baby was really yummy!

LCHaiti hosted a Haiti Film Fest this week. Each night was a different film accompanied by an overabundance of baked goods available for donation. At the end of the week, we had raised $116! Predictably, the film with the best attendance was Thursday night’s The Unexplained: Zombies. Mel got a $10 bucket of day-old doughnuts from Voodoo for the occasion, and after the film, we hawked the remaining sweets around the residence halls. I liked that the Film Fest combined education, entertainment, fund-raising, and food baked by students and Portland-specific bakeries. I’m all for a little cross-pollination.

I almost forgot! Ten minutes after David stuffed the RA notification letters into mailboxes on Monday, I was down at the mailroom retrieving mine. I got hired to Forest staff! I’ve been lobbying for Forest all year, so I was eight years beyond excited to get my letter. I bolted straight down to Campus Living, rushed through the paperwork, and turned everything in to a startled Natasha. I’m pretty sure I was the first person to hand in all the “Yes I accept this job!” forms, given that it was less than half an hour since they had been distributed. The word I most often use to describe myself is: enthusiastic. Case in point.

Questions, comments, concerns, and quasi-alliteration:

6 March 2010

juice and memory

chamomile with honey, while blogging. So meta!I attempted to do homework outside in the rather cold sunlightI am drinking endless cups of tea. Sickness, you will not defeat me! My whole body is displeased with me right now, partly from the virus-induced sore throat, but mostly from a brutal ab conditioning in Women’s Self Defense yesterday. I don’t understand how our workout convinced my ribs to pretend to be bruised, but today even simple ab-related tasks like moving from a sitting to a standing position require the use of my arms to hoist me up. I am pathetic. And I’m kind of enjoying it, in a weird way.

almost 30 people tried out this year for the Vagina Monologues, and the Womyn’s Center found parts for every single one of themJahnavi and Caitlin are both theatre kids so their performance was extra greatThe Vagina Monologues were last weekend and excellent! All of the monologues were exceptional, and I recorded a few of my favourites, which you can watch on my youtube channel. (Unsurprisingly, the monologues are not suitable for all listeners.) Of course, by the time my absolute favourite one rolled around, with Jahnavi and Caitlin performing The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy, my camera had run out of juice and memory space. Bah!

we got to sit at the bar because everywhere else was fullIndian food, yum!Solas changed colours a lotI think Solas means light in Gaelicthe fiddler in particular was way intense, she kept snapping bow stringsWith my camera freshly recharged and emptied of content, I went to the Portland Solas concert at the Aladdin Theatre with my mom and dad. Solas featured a fiddle, a banjo, several types of flutes and whistles, and an accordion. Some of the songs were wordless, some were in English, and some were in Gaelic. It was a good time. We also went out to dinner at a fancypants Indian place called Vindalho. It’s always a little tricky for me to go to restaurants because I can’t have wheat, dairy, tomatoes, or citrus. I eat a lot of rice these days.

the community gardens on campus are beginning to sprout!it’s been an exciting mix of rain and sun lately, I love itOn Sunday, the Dating Doctor visited campus to distribute what he called “dating advice” and humour. A lot of students loved the program, but I found it troubling. I felt that his humour was derisive and that his advice was essentializing, heteronormative, and unhealthy. So, as is my propensity, I am launching a campaign to teach students about effective communication and the importance of consent in relationships. First, my friend Allison and I co-authored an article analyzing and critiquing the Dating Doctor program. Second, I will contact the Doc himself with my criticisms and suggestions for how to improve his program. Third, I am assembling a Consent Workshop & Rubberware Party as part of Take Back the Night, an annual activism event hosted by the Womyn’s Center in April. As part of the Consent Workshop, I’ll be creating several different full-page comic strips about consent, mass-reproducing them, and posting them guerilla-style all over campus episodically. To cover the cost of ink, paper, and printing, I’m gonna apply for an Arts & Entertainment SAAB grant. Conveniently, all of this will count as my RA residential education program for April, and it will also count as my final project in my Gender in Relational Communication class. Excited much?!

Some of the funding fell through for the spring break trip to Costa Rica, but now I have more than enough to keep me busy all the way through spring break at home.

My email inbox eagerly awaits your questions.

27 February 2010

steps in grown-up-ification

when it’s sunny, everything is more exposed, from shoulders and knees to Mt. Hoodthis is one of my favourite trees on campus, it’s all lit up at nightChinese New Year in the Bon means playing with ink and brushesthe halftime student government versus administration game is serious businessRavine Academy singing their a cappella classic Tainted Love, Shelby and Kim soloingsticky notes are great encouragementOnce Upon A Weekend is obviously a very formal eventCollin, crossdressing as a rather flighty librarianthis one act featured a self-proclaimed ambiguous and exotic accentthis one act was called The Further Adventures of Two Brave Young Explorers and Their Tag-Along Kid Sisterhey there, tub of paint, it’s nice to meet youthe paint colours we used are “plum frost” and “Peruvian violet”I did the detail-y border work with one of my artist brushesmy mom doing the rollerworkthis wins the Most Creative Poster of All Time awardLook what I finished sewing this week! Think I could sell it for $20?

The Madness is beginning to crystallise. The Gender Studies Symposium is less than three weeks away, and there is an inverse correlation with its proximity and my sanity. Most everything is coming together, with a few major detours (Alix Olson canceled her Friday night show; we won’t be hosting the AIDS Quilt this year), and I’m excited to see everything fall into place in the coming weeks. Ten months ago, this symposium began life as the tiny spore of an idea, an innocuous little thing that sounded a lot like “hey guys, let’s do something about the science of gender, we haven’t done a science theme before!” And lo, now we have a fully laden three-day symposium featuring everything from sex therapy workshops to presentations built around subjects as divergent as Darwinian feminism and the medicalisation of pretty much everything. So this week, I finally got round to officially notifying all of my professors that I will be missing three days of classes in mid-March due to my annual affliction with Gender Studies Symposium Madness. My professors are being wonderfully understanding – my Religious History professor even offered to extend a paper deadline for me so I don’t have to turn it in halfway through the Symposium.

Midterms and their accompanying battery of papers and assignments are hurtling toward us. I turned in my first Queer Studies paper on Thursday. Our class took over a third of the group study rooms in the library on Wednesday night. It was a big ol’ queer party. Which of course I avoided; to minimise distractions, Mel and I bottled ourselves up in a deserted, accidental balcony nook I’m not sure I could find again if I tried. The paper prompt was “How does ‘queer’ function in the debate of gay liberation versus ‘queer’? To what extent do you agree or disagree that it opens up space for potentiality?” We both finished our papers around 1am. Not too shabby!

I seem to relegate my not-so-academic activities to the weekends. Last weekend was the Anti-Valentine’s Day concert, Once Upon a Weekend, and the last home girls’ basketball game of the year (we won!). There is a completely excessive number of videos from the a cappella and choir performances on my youtube account – go nuts! I also recorded the second half of what turned out to be my favourite Once Upon a Weekend one-act play. Once Upon a Weekend is a once-a-semester tradition of theatrical overload: students have a week to write scripts based on a pre-selected theme (this time it was “O, Pioneers!”), the scripts are cast on Friday, students have two hours of rehearsal time on Saturday, and then on Saturday night they perform to a bursting-at-the-seams Blackbox theatre. It is, by its very definition, a magical one-time occurrence.

Now that I resemble a responsible and mature adult, it’s time to convert my childhood bedroom at home into a grown-up person room. Over winter break we sold my old furniture – the twin loft bed my parents built for me when I was nine, the child’s desk – and bought the ingredients to bake a new room to accommodate my adult sensibilities. On Saturday, I trekked home to help paint my walls a very responsible and mature colour: purple! I’ve never painted a whole room before, so it was good life experience. Next steps in grown-up-ification: assemble new bed obtained from Craigslist and sew duvet cover. Domesticity: I rock at it.

I made the Dean’s List again this year, which means two things: 1.) I got good marks last semester and 2.) LC rewards good grades with fancy food. I was invited to Dessert with the Dean, and I was really excited to go, because hey – free food! I let them know about my dietary limitations – no dairy, wheat, citrus, or tomatoes, like you’d want tomatoes at a dessert – and they assured me they would provide something for me. But then the day of the Dessert they emailed me the menu, which most definitely was not Maisha-friendly, and I got all bummed out. So Melissa made me surprise cookies! With oat flour and flax seed and dairy-free chocolate chips, so I could eat them! I have the best girlfriend. My room still smells mildly of cookies, which is arguably the greatest smell ever invented.

The much-anticipated Vagina Monologues are tonight! I didn’t end up being able to print t-shirts, but not for lack of effort. The emulsifier fluid in the Print Shop is messed up, so until the Print Shop kids order new emulsifier, printing cannot really be done. I tried to burn a stencil three separate times with the existing emulsifier, adjusting the exposure time and the opacity of the design, but it never worked out. But hey, I learned the principles of how to use the Print Shop! Future printing will happen. Until then, I’ll just keep sewing shirts to satisfy my crafting appetite.

Hey prospective students! If you’re visiting campus and you see me, say hi! Ask questions, make mistakes, get messy at

19 February 2010

a complimentary stick

early morning studying in the sunniest spot in the library
The Sickness is making its rounds on campus. I seem to have intercepted a particularly mild strain of it, and I’m fending it off with chamomile tea and honey. I thought I hated chamomile tea and honey, but it turns out that I don’t – it tastes just like the appley part of an apple crisp! Hey, okay.

Life goes on, obdurate throat and all. Last night, I pumped out an eight page paper for my Comm class in just over three hours. I kind of wish all papers could be that fast to write. Usually I clock in at about a page per hour, so this was definitely a record, even if it was more of an extra-long synopsis/reflection drabble than an actual academic production. But anything that makes me feel accomplished is okay by me. That accomplished feeling is one of the reasons I love PE so much; this week we learned how to combine tundik kick, elbow strike, hammerfist, and knee strike into one smooth defense that ends with the attacker laid out on the ground. (Sidenote: I secretly call this class Women’s Self Defense Against the Dark Arts, for lo, I am a nerd.)

African dancing looks suspiciously similar to American teenage-style dancingKemi plays every single part in her play Jabulile!coming soon to a t-shirt near you!It’s African Culture Week, which mostly means the Bon was weird at dinnertime on Wednesday. There was African food (I got lentils and rice, it really was a lot like my Kenya/Tanzania study abroad, nostalgia is delicious) and there were musical and dance performances up on a temporary stage. At one point, a few African students beckoned people to the stage for a dance lesson, African-style. Culture nights in the Bon are always slightly baffling and overwhelming for me, but for some reason this one was less so than usual. After dinner, Kemi previewed a 15 minute selection of her one-woman play Jabulile! which will debut in full at the Gender Studies Symposium before she takes it to an international theatre festival in South Africa this summer. The play, which Kemi started writing in high school, is a mosaic of eight stories about womanhood and sexuality as told by four different, fictional Swaziland street vendors. The clip Kemi performed in the Blackbox theatre was both incredible and intense, and I really hope I get to see the full production in March. Even if I miss it – I will be running around like a crazy person during the Symposium – I can probably track down a video recording of it later.

aw yeah, I hang out under the kitchen counter with our compost paraphernaliaour worms are kinda veganThis week I’m doing something I’ve wanted to do for two and a half years: learning how to use the Print Shop! I signed up to design and print the t-shirts for the Vagina Monologues this year, which entails learning how to use all the fancy equipment in the student-run Print Shop. Adrian and I will partition off several hours of our Sunday to the project. The Womyn’s Center plans to sell the t-shirts at the door, and the money goes to the Portland Women’s Crisis Line. The packages of men’s white t-shirts Maggie bought for screenprinting all came with a complimentary stick of deodorant, so starting now I will probably smell like man for the rest of forever. Why go buy deodorant when you’ve got six free samples, right?

how to make a fruitfly trap - apple cider vinegar + a drop of dish soapHartzfeld B got hall pets – worms! SEED (Students Engaged in Eco-Defense club) scored a grant to get vermiculture kits, so now our communal kitchen is all set to compost. We also got reusable, rewashable towels from SEED for all the public bathroom in the residence halls on campus to cut down on paper towel waste. Summary: SEED is great. We are being nicer to the earth. Awesome!

I’m going to this thing tonight!Tonight I’m going to the Anti-Valentine’s Day Choir & A Cappella Concert, which is always seventeen kinds of excellent. Then my parents are abducting me and I’ll devote Saturday’s daylight hours to rolling purple paint onto my bedroom walls at home. Saturday evening is the last basketball game of the season and then Once Upon a Weekend. Full coverage of my weekend shenanigans in next week’s blog entry!

You do your question thing, I’ll do my answer thing.

12 February 2010