Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Girl Talk: On Reticence

I was part of the University's English Undergraduate Conference at the end of spring semester, and I had a really thought-provoking conversation with one of our faculty that keeps being relevant every day since. . . .

After attending several sessions throughout the day, Judith and a colleague mentioned the prevalence of modest apologies coming from the women. Without fail, the women presenting prefaced their papers with apologies for language and content. Even if quoting directly as support for their papers, women felt the need to apologize for swearing, use of "crude language," or discussing sex and violence. 

Meanwhile, the men (and I must admit, we attract far less men in the English department) confidently went forth with coarse language and content. There was no obligation, whether real or perceived, to justify what they said. 

Judith said after, "I was stunned by the compulsion to apologize for presenting intellectually provoking idea. And then I realized that they were all women. It's 2014 here; what's the issue?"

And really, what is the issue? I completely understand practicing modesty, and I think being a "class-act" is rarified these days (do I sound old or what?). However, I continually find myself frustrated that women feel as though they must comply to a different set of social/behavioral standards; and on the flip side, I'm appalled that men think they are exempt from polite behavior. 

It would be so nice to see a social setting in which both men and women were playing by the same rules. It would also be quite shocking, no? What do you think you would see that was different? I'd love your thoughts!

Photo via

Friday, May 30, 2014

T-Minus 18 Hours

Tomorrow evening, my flight for Berlin will take off (yikes!) and I'm tingling in anticipation. While I've flown many times before in my life––I've already traveled abroad with a high school class––this will be the first time I travel on my own. That's right, I'll have to go through security, boarding, baggage claim solo, and it's making my heart-beat quicken.

I feel extremely prepared, which is helping, and everyone has been immeasurably helpful and supportive as my departure nears, but I told my mom this evening that I keep worrying about the little, insignificant things like:

What if my baggage weighs 52 pounds?
Will my hair and make-up get gross on the flight?
Do I need compression socks or does the twenty-something-year-old magic apply to international flights, too?

See––little things . . . My time abroad is a quick three weeks, so I already know it will be a whirlwind kind of trip. During my stay, here's what I'm most looking forward to:

Staying with a family so I can experience "real life" in Berlin.
Going to museums and internet cafes when I feel touristy.
Eating chocolate and mentos as I read on the plane.
Listening to music on trains.
Seeing the Brandenburg Gate again––it's just so stunning.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Currently Reading: Non-Fic Royalty

Now that school is out and I've had a minor academia detox, I thought I'd share what I'm currently reading. As you all know, I'm really into non-fiction writing, whether that be essays, journalistic articles, or diaries and journals. I'm really pleased to say that a book I picked up over winter break is just as good as I hoped it would be.

I'll be honest and admit that the initial reason I picked up The New Kings of Nonfiction is because it's edited by Ira Glass and I'm a wanna-be NPR junkie. So far I am about half way through (I've yet to get to my beloved DFW) and it's great. What makes it readable and less daunting than a 400 page novel is that you can read one essay a day and feel like you've made considerable progress because you start and finish a subject. (The Atlantic and The New Yorker seem to be reigning champs of originally published sourcing . . . so there is kind of a specific audience niche implied here, which is slightly smug and presumptuous.)

My favorite essays thus far are:

"Six Degrees of Lois Weinberg" by Malcolm Gladwell

"Shapinksy's Karma," by Lawrence Weschler (this story is incredible!)

"Among the Thugs," Bill Buford

I'm hoping to finish this before Saturday when I leave for Germany, because I want another new book to read for my flights!

Have you been reading any good nonfiction lately? I'd love your suggestions!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Is this a busy time of year for you? All my friends and I are feeling the crunch and rush of finals––it's the dog days. The weather last week was incredibly stormy and moody, which helped keep everyone indoors and forgetting that the year is almost over. Now that the sun is out and the temperature is rising, everyone seems anxious in their classes and libraries.

This year especially, I've fallen victim to procrastination. I used to be insanely regimented, but I keep putting things off for the next day and it's starting to creep up on me. (Yikes!) Some of my friends say that procrastination often leads to their best work. But, I'm a worrier . . . so it just makes me nervous and wacky. Tonight is my night to get caught up and rid myself of this brain fuzz I currently have.

What are your tricks for staying on-schedule. Do you have rewards for meeting deadlines? Do you have any good scheduling tricks? Do you recommend a certain environment for ultimate productivity? I'd love your suggestions!

This time of year, I feel my people-pleasing tendencies raging.
Multiple personalities are so essential for me to have a balanced life.
Do you work alone?

Photo: Kurt Vonnegut doodle, via The New Yorker (part of a new publication featuring his drawings!)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dickinson Read-a-Thon!

The craziest, coolest event is being held in the Twin Cities this Friday! In celebration of National Poetry Month (and what a great month it is!), University of Saint Thomas is hosting a day of Emily Dickinson. Every poem of hers will be read––from #1 to #1,789. The event begins at 8 in the morning and is anticipated to last an exhausting total of 14 hours. If you can't attend, the University is planning to have a live stream here. But really, who wouldn't want to cozy up in a gorgeous library and listen to the mysterious lines of our good gal, Emily?

Photo via

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Berlin Bound

Exciting news––I'm going to Berlin, Germany this June for a fellowship with the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) and the University of Minnesota. For the month of June, I will assist teaching English in classrooms while conducting minor research on German children's literature. My host family will likely be my cooperating teacher, and I am very excited to experience Berlin through an extended, somewhat assimilated stay.

I already booked my flight (eeps!) and I'll be leaving May 31 in the evening. . . I can hardly wait! I visited Berlin briefly in my high school years with a European history class, but it's been a while and I'm kind of nervous to go on my own!

Do you guys have any travel advice? I'll admit it: I've never flown or traveled alone. What should I be aware of and look out for? Do you have any good packing advice? I'd love your tips!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Girl Talk: On Feminism

Have you noticed a spike in Feminism lately? It seems as though women everywhere are working together to build a beautiful, powerful voice. No one is burning bras, but a female power is definitely surging. 

It's inspiring to see women helping each other. Too often there is animosity in the estrogen world. As SNL's Nasim Pedrad playing Arianna Huffington so eloquently put it during Weekend Update, "Nobody hates women more than other women." It's tragic, but often true.

So when I see a growing female community effort, it excites me.

There's something, though, that often bothers me when it comes to "feminism." It's treated like it's a bad, or frivolous, or eccentric hobby. While delivered with a wry smile, a man saying, "Oh, you're suuuch a feminist!" offends me. It's clear that these comments are somewhat deflection tactics; men are, unfortunately, intimidated by independent, intellectual, empowered women.

Here's what I'm thinking:

The feminism we're seeing right now is not misandry, so men, please don't mistake our empowerment for man-shaming. I think the trend we're seeing right now is equality. My creative sister will often say, "I'm not a feminist, I am a supporter of equality, empowerment, and community," which I find so refreshing.

It's not about drawing a divisive line between men and women. It's about treating women as if there need not be a line in the first place.

If you want to know more about what's happening in the world of "feminism," please check out these sites:

DARLING Magazine
The Lean In movement
SoulPancake and Darling teamed up for a great series, That's What She Said