Maisha Foster-O'Neal’s Campus Journal
February is Black History Month, which usually gets little more than an acknowledging nod from me. This year, things were different. I kicked off the month with some serious contemplation and discussion about racism. A couple of weeks ago, a handful of fliers depicting racist imagery bubbled up around campus, and while this type of occurrence very rarely happens at LC, it’s still extremely unsettling when it does. The fliers were ripped down as soon as they were discovered, but they had already damaged our sense of community. Rather than hushing it up and pretending the fliers had never been posted, the students and the administration organised several events to address racism. There were two student forums: one specifically for students of colour who felt most targeted by the fliers, and a general forum which I attended. There was also a peaceful Sit Out Against Racism on Wednesday afternoon, complete with signs and bullhorn speeches about solidarity. I’m incredibly proud of the way the LC community handled this unfortunate incident of racism. I believe that the only way to prevent instances of hate speech and racism is to fully address it when it does arise, to call it out, to talk it out, to sit it out. Through the Sit Out and the Forum, I have been able to examine my own (white) privilege, investigate the line between intent and impact, and recognise the shortcomings of attempts at anonymous satire. There was a very well-balanced article in the Piolog this week, including some words from the student who was responsible for the racist fliers, if you’re interested in a more detailed and nuanced account of the incident.
My first essay of the semester was due this morning! Its deadline ensured that I had a very non-celebratory Friday and Saturday. I managed to roll out all five pages in a reasonable amount of time, so no coffee-fueled late night paper sprints this time round. My paper examined four different historians’ accounts of witch trials in Puritan New England. Since I love defying gender norms, I wrote about how women who transgressed expectations of feminine behaviour in the 17th century were more likely to be accused of witchcraft than their gender role-conforming counterparts.
I spent Saturday afternoon frantically scribbling notes about Resident Advisor (RA) applicants’ performance during Group Process. Having now experienced Group Process from both sides of the table, I can pretty confidently say that it’s way more stressful on the evaluators’ side. I basically sat in a tiny room for two and a half hours and listened to groups of six to nine hopeful potential RAs yell at each other. That’s what happens when you stick eight leader-types around a table and give them four minutes to come to a group consensus about how to prioritize a list of situations that all seem to require immediate attention. Oh man. It was intense. I’m so glad it’s over. Some applicants actually did really well, but I still needed a serious mug of tea at the end.
Then I escaped campus for a low-key 24 hours at home. We watched a biopic about Amelia Earheart – oh man, I love biopics – and then we spent most of Sunday dogwalking around the Alameda district on the outskirts of Portland. In the evening, we (including my Nani and Grandpa, my godfamily, and Mel) went out to dinner at Thai Peacock to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Thai Peacock, a block from everyone’s favourite Powell’s Bookstore, is an LC favourite. Every single time I’ve eaten there, there has been at least one other table of LC students. It’s delicious and almost within empty-pocketed college students’ budgets.
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I still have paper snowflakes taped to my windows in the hopes that Portland won’t give up on winter quite yet. I don’t think it’s working. Spring is definitely doorknocking, there are buds and birds and sometimes I can even walk across campus in just jeans and a t-tshirt.
Last weekend it was so nice for a fragment of Saturday that Melissa and I bounded onto our bicycles and went for a ride down to the cemetery. The mountain was even out! Then my gear shifts stopped working, so I had to walk my bike back up the hill to campus. Maybe I’ll bribe one of my bike-savvy hallmates into fixing my bike in exchange for my flex points purchasing power at Maggie’s. I want to be able to keep riding it as the sun makes more frequent appearances.
I realised, as I was blearily tapping out a paper at 8am for the second morning in a row this week, that the reason my classes are eating me alive is because I’m now taking two 300-level classes. Oh, yeah, that would do it. Both Gender in Relational Comm and Women in Religious History assign about four hours of reading a night, plus a response paper due almost every class period. I foresee a lot of library campouts in the near future. At least I’m really interested in everything I’m studying – it’s just a big time commitment. My first paper is due next week too, eep! But it’s on the Salem Witch Trials, which I’m pretty excited to research, so it should be an okay paper to compose.
To compensate for my heavy homework load, I’m trying to climb into the backseat of the LCHaiti truck. Mel is crafting a Haiti Film Week, and Claire is putting together an end-of-semester Benefit Dinner, but I’m just helping with administrative stuff on projects like those. We’ve already raised nearly $1,000 in about two weeks, so that’s pretty neat.
Between homework, Gender Studies Symposium planning, LCHaiti meetings, running Unisex, and working as an RA, I don’t have much me-time. So I sat down and blocked out artwork time into my google calendar. For reals. Art is my way of relaxing, so I really look forward to those two-hour blocks on Wednesday and Friday to sketch, ink, and breathe.
Last night was Mel’s dad’s birthday, so we went to her house and played with her nephews. Matthew (who’s four) and I built lego monstrosities and Mel taught Andrew (who’s six) a new song on the piano – he’s a much faster learner than me! When it was time to light the candles on the cake, Andrew plunked out Happy Birthday while everyone sang along. At the end of the evening, I even got to help bathe the boys and read them bedtime stories, my favourite. They’re such great little people, or, as Matty says, “I’m not a pohson, I’m a boy.” (That’s “person” in case you don’t speak four-year-old.) Matty also informed us that “Auntie, yo’ my auntie, an’ Maisha, yo’ my big fwiend.” D’awww! I’ve always wanted to be someone’s big friend!
Next weekend, I’m slated to go home to help paint my bedroom and to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Of course, I also have a paper to write and four hours of RA group interviews to monitor, so it’s going to be a pretty full weekend. Wish me luck!
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Junior year is disorienting. A good handful of my friends and classmates just returned from study abroad trips (East Africa and India especially), and another handful just embarked on theirs. Since I can’t hang out with them in person, I’m tagging along on their overseas adventures vicariously via the internet. I’m following blogs from friends and classmates in Vietnam, Senegal, London, Australia, the Dominican Republic, and Russia. It’s madness. Lovely, lovely madness.
With a bunch of my friends abroad, the travel bug is biting again, and I’ve stumbled upon a great way to appease it: Alternative Spring Break trip! Yeah! I just rocketed my paperwork and 400 bucks to the Infinite Forest organisation, which LC has partnered with this year for a volunteer trip to Costa Rica. The itinerary looks absolutely phenomenal: whitewater rafting, ziplining, dolphin-watching, fruit-tasting – oh, and building things for an orphanage and helping out with local recycling and rainforest conservation efforts. Baller, amiright?! And all for only $400 per student! (Thanks, grants and alumni donations!) I am about sixteen miles beyond excited.
So, this was the first week of classes. I am crazy psyched for all my classes this semester! I encountered some turbulence in my quest to fulfill the first barrage of assignments, mainly due to my unfortunate lack of the correct textbooks, but it all worked out eventually. I was disappointed to find out that my Women in American Religious History class investigates only Judeo-Christian faiths, but I think I may try to compensate for that by doing my final research paper on women in Islam. Unless I get sucked into researching matriarchal Catholic mysticism – I do have a history of nerding out over saints and deification. One thing that I’m seriously enjoying about my classes this semester is how easy it is to “put them in dialogue with one another,” as it is said here in Acadamialand. There’s a lot of cross-pollination from one class to another, and it’s a lot of fun to mix, match, and dismantle what I’m learning transacademically. (Also fun: inventing adverbs.)
When my butt has been somewhere other than a desk this week, it’s mostly been in a chair behind a table, harassing – er, I mean, encouraging people to relinquish their dolla dolla bills to assist aid operations in Haiti. You probably know by now that Haiti was recently struck with an earthquake so devastating that it’s now being rated somewhere in the top ten worst natural disasters of all time. Anyway, on our first day back on campus after winter break, several friends and I congregated to form LCHaiti, a (hopefully) transient organisation that focuses on raising money to be donated to grassroots organisations that are on the ground in Haiti providing disaster relief to the people there. This week, we have been hosting a simple Penny Drive, and after only two days of collecting, we bank in at almost $800 for the What If? Foundation. LC, you rock! We’re planning on hosting more elaborate fundraising events in the coming semester, including a benefit dinner, a rummage sale, and an awareness-through-artwork programme, and we will likely try to donate to other worthy organisations such as Partners in Health. If you wanna help us out, you can use the powers of the internet to make a paypal donation at our LCHaiti website.
Favourite food discoveries of the week:
1. crunchy, delicious almondbutter made in-house at the Bon – it’s great on apples!
2. vanilla coconut “ice cream” (soy- and dairy-free frozen dessert in a pint-sized tub) conveniently sold at Maggie’s.
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It’s Welcome Back time! I am in denial that classes start tomorrow. I feel like it’s still winter break, even though I’m back on campus and my hallmates are slowly trickling back into our building. I haven’t even rounded up my textbooks yet – it’s about time for a Powell’s run. But before I plunge into the spring semester sea, I think a winter break recap is in order!
I split my three and a half weeks of winter break between my family’s home in Portland; my grandma’s house in Wenatchee, Washington; the Oregon Coast with my mom’s side of the family; and the San Juan Islands with my girlfriend Melissa and some of her family.
Christmas in Wenatchee had its ups and downs – I was battling another allergic reaction on Christmas Day itself, and ended up sleeping it off and missing a lot of the action. The holidays are the worst time to have a food allergy because there are so many delicious-looking edibles around that aren’t edible for me – it was a bit tormenting. But I got to play with my cousins and help assemble a couple of puzzles. I also scored some legit swag, including a tea kettle, a spider plant I’ve named Acromantula, and several handfuls of dinosaur toys!
Maybe this can be attributed to my mom’s multicultural emersion when she attended Lewis & Clark as an undergraduate, but my family has always had a habit of celebrating lots of different holidays. This year, we covered abbreviated editions of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Mexican Christmas all in the span of about 48 hours. For Mexican Christmas, we made tamales and then ate them! Yum. This might be kind of blasphemous, but we combined Hanukkah and Kwanzaa into one day, and I took to calling it Kwanzukkah. For the Hanukkah portion, we made latkes (sweet potato ones for me, since I couldn’t have regular potatoes) and applesauce, and sang some Hebrew songs, but we couldn’t find our menorah or dreidel. For Kwanzaa, we donned our African clothes (I have a few kanga-shirts from my East Africa study abroad trip last fall) and made a whole bunch of traditional foods, including sadsa (a stiff, cornmeal-based porridge), mboga (leafy greens), nyama (meat – we had turkey with lots of spices), and ndizi (fried plantains). It was really cool to do Kwanzaa this year because I connected to it so well, having spent four months living and traveling in Kenya and Tanzania just a year ago. For the first time, I could understand some of the Swahili involved in Kwanzaa ceremonies, and could contextualise a lot of the values Kwanzaa is built around. Kwanzaa is essentially a celebration of African heritage, and draws from multiple different indigenous harvest ceremonies to form a holiday applicable to anyone who is willing to acknowledge that if you go back far enough, we all have African roots. I love it!
For New Year, we spent a languorous four days at the Oregon coast in a beach house that my family rents every year. I puzzled, coloured, knit, made earrings, took stormy walks out on the beach, and generally enjoyed the company of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Mel and I were in charge of breakfast one morning, so we made approximately eight thousand crepes and let people fill them with the fruits and fillings of their choices. Some of the crepes were dairy- and wheat-free so that I and my other allergy-afflicted family members could eat them. Mel and I are crepe pros now.
Just a few days after New Year, Mel and I set out for the San Juan Islands. We got a third of the way there and Mel’s car broke down, so we got an exciting tow truck ride out of the deal! Our trip, cut down by a day, seemed pretty short, but it was still enjoyable. Mel’s dad took us out in his boat, and we saw all sorts of wildlife: deer, sunstars, herons, bald eagles, otters, and a locally famous harbour seal named Popeye. We collected sea glass for a few hours on a deserted curl of beach, which is one of my favourite activities in the whole world. While in the Islands, I also encountered a secondhand bookstore so inundated with books that I’m not convinced the walls weren’t made of books too. I have decided to live there.
For the final week of winter break, I applied myself to emptying my bedroom at home, preparing to transform it into a Big Girl room. We carted off two full SUV loads of things to Goodwill; listed my old bed, dresser, and kid desk on craigslist; and prepared the walls for a new paint job. I’m getting a queen-size bed to replace my twin loft, and I’ll be sewing my own duvet cover and accompanying pillow shams. Go domesticity go!
And now I’m back on campus, trying to avoid thinking about impending homework. Pop on by for another blog entry on Friday, chronicling my first week of spring semester classes. I’m registered for Intro to Queer Studies, Gender in Relational Communication, Women in US Religious History, and Women’s Self Defense (again, because I loved it so much last semester). I’m stoked – for the first time, I’ll be taking an entire schedule of classes relating directly to my major.
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Yesterday morning, I scrambled out of bed, plopped down on the floor, and spent an hour blearily cutting lopsided snowflakes from paper I extracted from the recycling bin. Such a compulsion means only one thing: it’s almost the holidays! It’s certainly cold enough. My longjohns and I are getting intimate – I haven’t taken them off for a solid week. I don’t leave my room without a scarf, two hats, and three or four shirts. I’m okay with the cold, but seriously, where’s the snow? It’s been all blue skies and brittle sunlight. I think we’re all ready for a little precipitation. My deformed recycled-paper snowflakes don’t really make the cut.
My first Final was at stupid o’clock (8:30am) this morning. It was actually my only sit-down Final this semester, and it was Astronomy. In our last actual class period, I got my research paper back. Guess what?! I won Astronomy! Out of all the 60-odd papers in our class, mine about the red controversy of Sirius was selected as one of the most interesting, along with Preetham’s paper about the geology of one of Jupiter’s moons. The prize was a score of 100% on the paper and the power to decide how Ethan, our professor, will groom his facial hair, which he has been diligently growing since Thanksgiving. As hair-larious as it would be to give Ethan a Darwin beard or Salvador Dalí moustache (Preetham’s and my original ideas), we’ve decided to give the guy a fighting chance at retaining some fragment of dignity, and have therefore decided a goatee is the way to go. As extra credit on our Final Exam, Ethan asked everyone to doodle a picture on the back of the last page of the type of goatee he should manicure – so I drew a picture of Ethan dressed as a pirate ship, with his facial hair as the anchor. Next year’s Hallowe’en getup? Maybe. Extra extra credit points? Hopefully.
I actually really enjoy Reading Days and Finals because I have a lot of free time. Other than my Astronomy exam, I have four more pages to invent for my Anthropology of the Body paper on the dialectics of inclusion and exclusion in the intersex community, which I will turn in on Monday. And that’s really it. It leaves me plenty of time to do things like knit! And Mel just got me new yarn – it’s rainbow!
Because it’s the end of the semester, there are all sorts of culminating performances going on. Last weekend I went to Dance Extravaganza, an incredible amalgamation of student-choreographed, -mixed, -directed, and -performed dances. I shot a video of one of the pieces. Dance Ex happens every semester, and it always sells out all four of its runs. Because it is brilliant.
Acabrella, our a cappella union, had its last performance of the semester in the Chapel. Five years ago, we did not have a single a cappella group. This year, LC weighs in at five separate groups. Momo & the Coop is the oldest, followed by Section Line Drive and the all-girls Merry Weathers. Just this semester, the Ravine Academy and the all-guys Ca Cappella have coalesced. Here are a few videos of the performances before my camera ran out of juice. This week, I also went to Mel’s Marimba concert (she even had a solo!), and the Joe Purdy show.
The allergist couldn’t figure out what I’m allergic to, so I’m on an elimination diet in an attempt to get my body back to zero, since it had been in freakout mode for a few weeks. So for the next two weeks, I’m eating only rice, chicken, four kinds of fruit, about as many kinds of vegetables, and a few random things like synthetic vanilla extract. Yeah, I’m temporarily suspending my vegetarianism in the interest of reducing my skin’s resemblance to the Red Planet. It seems to be working, and the Bon is super great about accommodating my crazy diet. They make me my very own plate of food at every meal, all cutely arranged and delicious. I am so grateful that I attend a school with such a stellar catering company. In addition to the wacked out diet, I’m on three medications and am under strict instructions to take a bath every night. (It’s a “saline soak” in medical jargon.) That’s not so bad! Although I do keep falling asleep in the bathtub at 1am.
This is my last blog entry of the semester! On Friday at 5pm, I’m cleared to go home. I’m visiting my dad’s side of the family for Christmas in Washington and my mom’s side for New Years at the Oregon Coast, and if all goes well I’ll have a few days in January in the San Juan islands with Mel, too!
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It’s crunch time! Commonly known as the worst time of the semester to get sick, and therefore the time everyone gets sick. Well, I do things a little differently. Apparently, my body has decided it’s the perfect time to stop understanding the difference between toxins and normal things like bread. That’s right, I’m allergic to something, or several somethings. For about two weeks, my arms, neck, and face have been breaking out in hives. On my worst days, I look like I’ve been mauled by a herd of particularly vicious strawberries. Now that I’ve reduced my diet to variations of rice, beans, potatoes, and melon, my skin is clearing up. I’m really looking forward to my appointment with the allergist next week, because then I’ll find out what I’m allergic to and I can start eating like a normal person again!
Even though my body threw me a curveball in the health department, my girlfriend Mel is right on schedule. On Monday, Mel came down with “flu-like symptoms,” colloquially known as the piggy plague. I’ve spent a chunk of my week thoroughly ignoring the Health Center’s recommendations to stay well away from her room – I’ve been delivering meals to her, taking her temperature, and keeping her entertained. She’s out of her room now and feeling a lot better, but it was a pretty miserable way to start the week.
Backtrack to Thanksgiving. I had two Thanksgivings this year. The first one was Queer Thanksgiving, on the Sunday preceding Thanksgiving break. A small flock of Unisex members (we’ve been debating on whether to call ourselves Unisexies or Unisexuals), with large quantities of seasonal food in tow, bussed it on over to a cute little house in the Mt. Tabor region of Portland. Gail’s aunt and her housemate were our wonderful hosts. They played holiday music and constructed a fire and everything. I produced mashed potatoes, version 1.0, for the occasion. Once we had assembled all the food, we sat down around the dining room table, and just like a real Thanksgiving, we each shared a thing we were thankful for. Gabe said he was thankful for Queer Thanksgiving because it was the only Thanksgiving he would have this year. I think that’s why Unisex keeps doing it every year – you never know who won’t be going home or won’t be accepted for who they are at home.
My second Thanksgiving was four whole relaxing days at home. I whipped up an obscene amount of mashed potatoes again – I am now officially a mashed potato pro. I made the mistake of taking Benadryl in the morning in an attempt to calm the histamines going nuts in my face, so I slept through half of Thanksgiving (on the floor), but I was awake for the important parts. Like the eating.
On one of the days of break, Mom, Dad, Mel, and I went for a Portland Hill Walk with my dogs in northwest Portland. We got a late start, so the winter gloaming descended upon us halfway through the trip, but that means we got to watch as the city lit itself for night. It was beautiful, but also brain-numbingly cold. After such a relaxing break, it was hard to return to campus for two last weeks of essays, quizzes, and exams.
Classes are closing up and turning out their lights. In my Women’s Self Defense class, we have learned a barrage of strikes, holds, and defense maneuvers; how to disarm knives, clubs, and guns; how to fall; and how to flip people over our shoulders. On Tuesday, as a sort of grand finale, we each had the chance to break a board. I tell ya what, it is such an incredible, liberating feeling to split a piece of wood in half with nothing but your palm and your own willpower. I wish I could end all my classes by destroying things. Instead, I’ll be spending this weekend quarantined in the library, extracting a 15 to 20 page paper from the depths of my brain for Anthropology of the Body class. It might destroy me a little.
Craft update: I made buttons! It’s really hard to get a decent photo of 50 to 60 buttons, so instead you get a peek at a few of my very favourites. I collaged the templates from castaway magazines, and my former supervisor at Cascade AIDS Project let me use their buttonmaker and supplies in exchange for two hours of assembling their official buttons. It was a good arrangement, and I hope to pop in for another few hours during Finals week to assemble a few more personal buttons and a whole lot more of CAP’s buttons.
Also, the hat I am knitting is now beginning to more closely resemble a hat, rather than a blue, fuzzy tube.
Next week will be my last blog entry until January! It’s been a rapidfire semester. Wow.
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As the semester drags itself closer to Finals, I spend more and more of my time in the library. I have very scientifically graphed my relationship to library time as it correlates to the progression of time and posted it to the right. The library is a really great place to focus, as long as I turn off the internet switch on my laptop. Thanks to some extended library time this week and a moderate amount of caffeine, I managed to finish my first final paper of the semester, and even got to bed before 2am the night before it was due. It felt so good to turn it in yesterday! To reward us all for working so hard on our final papers, our Astronomy professor put together a lecture primarily composed of beautiful photographs and video clips and containing absolutely zero mathematics.
Somehow, this last spoonful of the semester is dense with performance poetry. On Tuesday, Elephant Engine High Dive Revival performed to a crowded and rowdy Council Chamber. Two of my favourite poets were in the lineup this year, Anis Mojgani and Buddy Wakefield, plus Derrick Brown and Mike McGee. The same four poets performed together at LC when I was a first-year, but they called themselves the Solomon Sparrow Electric Whale Revival then. They’re good with names. I shot two videos of Anis performing, one of the whole group, and one of Buddy. (Content/language of videos is not appropriate for all audiences. Send your kids out of the room.) One of the things I like about Buddy’s style is you can never tell when he begins a poem because he usually slips into it with a stream of banter, and then you’re halfway through the poem before you realise it’s a poem.
The very next day, Katastrophe and Athens Boys Choir rocked the Trail Room with their hip-hop and spoken word madness. Since I brought them as “visiting scholars,” SAAB agreed to fund the workshop and performance, collectively called F to eMbody. What a great way to celebrate Trans Day of Remembrance. I took a completely ridiculous number of videos of these two dudes, and again with the language and content warning. But if you’re okay with some F-grenades, do definitely check out those videos. It was really cool to be the person who arranged and hosted that tour, because it meant I got to have dinner with two quasi-famous hip-hop artists, usher them to our library to use the internet, and just generally hang out with a couple of chillers doing the work of social and political change. The workshop and show inspired me to keep doing what I’m doing, the creative arts stuff and the LGBTQ advocacy stuff.
Next week, the Pincushion Orchestra is coming to campus for yet another dose of performance poetry, and then we have our last Slam of the semester following that. I wrote a new poem on Wednesday (it’s about beekeeping) that I might perform if I can get it suitably memorised in time.
Here’s my class lineup for next semester: Intro to Queer Studies, Gender in Relational Communication, Women in American Religious History, and Bowling. Yeah, Bowling. Oh hey there, final PE credit! I’m pretty stoked. It’s going to be a good semester.
We had a mix-up between the book store and our syllabus whereby my whole Anthropology of the Body class realised yesterday that none of us has the book we’re supposed to discuss on Monday. We all bought a different (although similarly titled) book back in September. Luckily, a few of us had put the correct book on hold through the library, and when our copies came in we requested that the librarians put them on Course Reserve, meaning any student who is in our class can check out the book for a maximum of two hours at a time. It will work out, but it sure is inconvenient! Luckily, mix-ups like that don’t happen very often.
Okay, my goal for the weekend is to get some sleep! I am ten thousand kinds of ready for Thanksgiving break. I get to go home and snuggle my dogs!
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It’s the Tenth Week. That’s college-speak for burnout time. The last sprint of the semester is just a week stretch, a Thanksgiving break hurdle, and another week stretch, and then we’ll catapult right through the Final Exams finish line.
My first final paper (on the red controversy of Sirius) is due on Thursday next week in Astronomy, so I barricaded myself in the library for a five-hour stint on Tuesday to gather and read my sources. I was initially experiencing research turbulence, so I booked an appointment with one of our super helpful reference librarians, and she set me up with about twice as many sources as my paper actually requires. I got thoroughly acquainted with the Periodicals section of the library, and then went on a date with the photocopier machine. This weekend, I’ll be distilling all that research into a five-to-seven page paper that presents the evidence for several competing explanations for why the ancients recorded Sirius as reddish when today it is distinctly bluish.
It somehow turned out to be Craft Week in Maishaworld. Observe:
1. On Sunday, I abandoned homework for a few hours to attend a screenprinting workshop in the Co-op on campus. I whipped up a tea-based design, taped it to a window to trace it onto freezer paper, painstakingly cut it out with a combination of x-acto knife and kid scissors, taped it to the largest screenprinting frame the Co-op could muster, and squeegeed purple paint onto the screen, which transferred my design to my t-shirt. It was awesome! If I had an extra few weeks without homework, I would just screenprint t-shirts for everyone for Christmas. Since that’s not gonna happen, I hope everyone likes receiving hugs as gifts. College makes you money and time deficient.
2. I finally finished my first scarf! I’ve graduated from scarves and now I’m starting in on my first hat. My knitting teacher, Kris Tea, says I’m getting good enough to be worthy of quality yarn; the yarn I’m using now is blue and fuzzy, and it’s a lot nicer than the stuff I used for my scarf.
3. I hand-sewed a plaidypus shirt! I am immensely pleased with this visual pun. The platypus was cut from a secondhand pair of plaid pyjama pants I picked up at the Goodwill Bins for the express purpose of this kind of crafting. Not-so-secretly, I hope to begin making things like this in some degree of quantity and selling my creations at the Co-op. Or Etsy. Winter break project, perhaps?
The three-day Annual Ray Warren Multicultural Symposium was this week! I really, truly loved this year’s theme, Mixed: The Politics of Hybrid Identities, because I feel like almost everyone feels a little mixed, no matter what they look like on the outside. Attending the panel Remix: Identities and Artistic Expression encouraged me to reflect upon how I stir, stitch, and spin my various identities into my creative pursuits. Of the panelists, I particularly enjoyed Leyendas de México, a storytelling/music-playing bilingual performance by two artists who emigrated from Mexico to the US a number of years ago. They said that they chose to perform legends in order to reconnect to their indigenous roots. Click for a video of their performance.
I also attended the Race Monologues, which had so many people in attendance that it probably violated fire code – people were perched all around the periphery of the room because all the seats were full. The Race Monologues were born at LC six years ago by a student who wanted to participate in the Vagina Monologues but was barred on account of his gender (the Womyn’s Center at the time was not as inclusive as it is today) – so he created his own space where students of other marginalised demographics could speak about their experiences. The Race Monologues, unlike the Vagina Monologues, are written and performed by the participating students every year, so it’s really a once-in-a-lifetime performance. Although anyone and everyone can participate, the Race Monologues have always drawn a high proportion of participants of colour. I think it’s great, since people who have been systemically marginalised because of their race by a society still struggling toward equality need to have a space where they not only have a voice, but listners too. I loved every single monologue even more than I loved the three cups of hot apple cider I quaffed during the mingle-style social following the performance.
Tonight is the last night of Beckett(s)! I saw it last Saturday with Mel. The whole stage is a world, it turns out – the performance was all over the theatre building, even in the men’s shower and the costume loft. The first hour was a confusing self-propelled exploration of a handful of shorts being performed all over the building simultaneously (I managed to see most of most of them), while the second hour was the regular sit-down style performance of End Game. I’m glad I had to read Waiting for Godot in high school, because it somewhat prepared me for the off-kilter nihilism of Samuel Beckett’s playwriting. I’m friends with several of the theatre people, and they insist that this production is haunted by Samuel Beckett’s ghost – they’re convinced that something catastrophic will transpire tonight at the dénouement of the show, since several things have already gone horribly wrong at almost every performance thus far. The night I saw Beckett(s), though, it was immaculate. If you’re in the Portland area, I definitely recommend you drive, bus, scooter, bike, or walk on over to Fir Acres Theatre. Just be prepared for a strange night of macabre humour, hopeless nonsensicalness, and ennui. Samuel Beckett wasn’t exactly the most cheery of playwrights.
And with that, it’s time I turn to the army of articles on my floor that all insist different reasons for Sirius’s alleged colour shift. Here’s my email address, you know what to do with it: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In collegeland, Hallowe’en on a Saturday translates to three whole days of tomfoolery – Friday and Sunday are not spared. Last year, Hallowe’en found me on a practically-deserted stretch of the Tanzanian coast, so my costuming was limited to what I could glean from my surroundings: seashells and palm tree bark and my trusty roll of duct tape enabled me to haphazardly dress as a hermit crab. Two years ago, when I was a first-year at LC, I skipped Hallowe’en in favour of homework. So this year, since it had been two years since my last proper Hallowe’en, I decided to do things right, despite being on duty. I got together with friends and carved pumpkins – mine was the Great Eye of Sauron. I also passed out tootsiepops to everyone I came across on campus, and I dressed as the Dinosaur Extinction for dinner and rounds. Six or seven people, independently of one another, took a good long look at my meteor hat, dinosaur-studded t-shirt, and ocean pants, and said, “Oh! I get it! You’re the Big Bang.” No. Wrong astrophysical occurrence.
My girlfriend Mel co-opted Hallowe’en as a last hurrah for her mohawk. She sculpted it into spikes for her pterodactyl/triceratops costume, and then, rather than simply wash the Elmer’s glue out at the end of the night, she chopped her spikes off with my scissors, and we shaved her head the rest of the way on Sunday. Bald. Like, with three straight-edge razors. (The razors didn’t survive the night.)
This week, the Womyn’s Center is hosting Love Your Body, Love Yourself week. Monday was Henna Night. I ended up sticking around for far too long, squeezing henna onto people. I did a tree for Rachey, a Mayan Tree of Life for Chris, and a pretty design for Adrian, who in turn did one on me. Wednesday night was a body-positive themed open mic in the Platteau, so I covered a poem called Instructions for a Body (warning: one inappropriate word in that video) by Marty McConnell. I couldn’t attend the events on Tuesday and Thursday, but I heard they were awesome.
Wednesday was my Crazy Person day. In my two classes, I had a Spanish composición and an annotated bibliography due; I also had my SAAB grant application to submit and three marathon-length meetings to attend. In my one hour of unstructured time, I sat down and figured out the next four months of my life. Next semester, if all goes well during course registration next week, I will be taking Intro to Queer Studies, Gender in Relational Communication, Women in American Religious History, and whatever PE class I can fit around those courses. Engage excitement now.
The Gender Studies Symposium had our four-hour-long fall semester meeting, at which we assembled the symposium schedule to actually start looking like a fully-fledged event. The fun part of the meeting (besides the catered South Asian buffet) was titling all the panels we had just assembled. I think my favourite panel title is She Blinded Me With Science: Women and Girls in Science. We are not above cheesyness, and I respect that.
Last night, Acabrella (the A Cappella Union) hosted a concert in the Co-op. The place was stuffed and the lights were low. Darkness factor: The Darkest. Just keep that in mind when you watch the videos I recorded of Section Line Drive performing Chicago, The Merry Weathers performing The Sound of Silence, and Momo and the Coop performing a gospel-ish hymn called Freedom is Coming. Our newest a cappella group, The Ravine Academy, debuted with Tainted Love and Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay. My friend Jonah Luke performed a couple of his songs between sets too – you can listen to (and download!) his singing-songwriting goodness at his website here.
In keeping with my tradition of being a Crazy Person, I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year – that’s National Novel Writing Month, and it is equal parts glorious and very, very stupid. The goal is to write 50,000 words, roughly a short novel, during the calendar month of November. Since I don’t want to compromise my RA job or my studies, and I also got a late start, I am only aiming for 10,000 words by November 30th, which is totally doable. That breaks down to just over 333 words per day. I’ve never done NaNoWriMo before, although I’ve wanted to since sometime in middle school when I first found out about it, so I am extra excited. Several of my friends at LC are doing it too, but most of them are hardcore non-wimps and are doing the full 50,000.
I just got back from the girls’ volleyball game against Linfield College. I’m not sure where my voice went, but I’m sure it helped us win all three games. My friend Lou did some spectacular dives, and Kat (who is 6′3”) is the queen of spikes. It was such a dynamic game – the teams were well-matched. I had never been to a volleyball game at LC before, and I loved how much fun it was to watch.
Okay, roll those questions on over to my inbox at email@example.com and I will answer all your questions in nearly novel-length fashion.
P.S. - Super special secret: hover over the photos on the right. I always include a little bit more information in the alt-text banners.
Warning: when you turn 21, your birthday never ends. On Friday, almost a full month after the twenty-first anniversary of my explosion into this world, my girlfriend Mel treated me to an Ani DiFranco show at the Crystal Ballroom. We went out to dinner beforehand to an LC favourite: Thai Peacock. Half the kids who live in my building just so happened to be there, and the waitress just so happened to seat us right next to them. Way to kill the romance, Thai Peacock lady.
The Thai Peacock crew all just so happened to be going to the Ani show too. LC students (including Mel and me) formed a respectable block of enthusiastic swayers near the front of the crowd. Anaïs Mitchell, who in my opinion does lovely guitar work ruined by whiney vocals, was the opener. Ani, in her usual unpretentious white tanktop and baggy khakis, materialised onstage, and the crowd (as Dith would say) went cuckoo bananapants. Ani played a solid set, including a revitalized version of an old folk tune called Which Side Are You On.
On Saturday, a chartered bus – the kind with its own on-board bathroom – deposited a passel of LC students at Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch. We shivered our way through the line for the Field of Screams Haunted Corn Maize, then screamed our way through the ear-y paths. (Haha, get it? What a corny pun.) It was terrifying and wonderful. A man in a swine mask chased me for awhile, which was unfairly scary because I used to be really afraid of pigs when I was a little kid. When we were squishing down the homestretch, we heard a chainsaw in the distance. “There’s always a psycho chainsaw murderer at the end, always,” Ashley said, and just as I was explaining how “I’ve never seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so chainsaws don’t really scare me,” chainsaw man leapt out of the corn on my left and swung his monstrous machine through the air above my head. I ducked and screamed for probably a full 60 seconds. Protip: Don’t talk about what you’re not afraid of, because it will take the opportunity to prove you wrong.
When we got back to campus, I claimed my spot in line for a Once Upon a Weekend seat. OUAW, a series of hilarious theatrical one acts, takes place over the course of a single weekend each semester. This semester, the theme was Saboteur. Students wrote and submitted short plays relating to the theme – everything from pirates versus ninjas to a Christmas card photography set going wrong wrong wronger – and directors and actors had just two days to cast, memorise, block, and rehearse, and then everyone is on stage, fumbling and improvising. This year was the tenth anniversary, so LC theatre alum were invited to act and direct alongside current students. Between performances, three of our a cappella groups performed. Section Line Drive was wearing Wheat Thins paraphernalia (”Because it’s Once Upon a Wheat Thin!”), Momo & the Coop dressed crazy, and the Merry Weathers handled their sometimes pointy-heeled shoes admirably. (Click here for five videos!)
Non-homework events on Sunday included postcard-making and s’more roasting. Now that some of the students in my building are fire safety certified, we can use our fireplace anytime we like! Bring it, winter. We’re ready for you. We will take you down with our marshmallow power.
I have been working relentlessly to write a really solid application for a SAAB grant. I’m planning on bringing Athens Boys Choir and Katastrophe, two spoken word and hip-hop trans activists, to campus in mid-November for Trans Day of Remembrance. The trick is to slate the event, a combination workshop and multimedia performance called F to eMbody, as academic in nature and supplemental to the Gender Studies curriculum already in place at LC. I think I’ll be able to pull it off. I will keep you posted.
I’ve been doing a ton of research about intersex for my Anthropology of the Body class. I just read a mind-bending (although not quite blowing) memoir called Intersex (For Lack of a Better Word) and I’ve been plugging away at the ten or twelve intersex-related articles I’ve extracted from a handful of academic journals. It’s amazing how tiny the intersex community is. The same names keep surfacing in my research. Statistically, more babies are born intersex than are born with cystic fibrosis, but which condition is the average person more familiar with? Politics, privilege, and a paradigm of normality all contribute to the obfuscation of intersex issues. I’m really enjoying digging into the scientific dirt surrounding intersexuality.
I started typing this blog later than usual today because I stopped by the Physics and Chemistry Department’s annual pumpkin launch and demolition. I was rather underwhelmed by what the trebuchet could do to a lineup of jello-filled and dry ice-filled pumpkins, but then a guy in a lab coat brought out a pitcher of a sodium compound, the exact composition of which I have forgotten. He poured it into a hollowed-out pumpkin filled with water, retreated to the sidelines, and we all waited, fingers corked in our ears. The forthcoming explosion was awesome! The entire pumpkin literally vanished! Hallowe’en is magical. I enjoy pointless destruction on occasion.
I’m on duty this weekend, which means I’m doing rounds in costume, and I’m armed. With candy. To give to ghoulish revelers. I’m disguising myself as the dinosaur extinction, because I have an unreasonable number of dinosaur toys and a fondness for conceptual costumes.
Slide those questions on over to firstname.lastname@example.org, and answers will magically appear in your inbox. Try it. I dare you.