Blue

First, a little explaining about this post.  It was last week, and we had just finished coming up with the brilliant idea of doing this #WednesdayWord thing.  “Blue” popped into my head, and I knew I wanted it to be the #WednesdayWord one week.  Fast forward a couple hours to me sitting in my Evolution discussion, and all I could think about was blue.  Although I really wanted to pull out my computer and start typing away, I knew that I shouldn’t make it super obvious that I was paying absolutely no attention.  I started handwriting in my notebook, something I haven’t done in years.  It was really cool to see how everything played out on paper, with little scratch-outs and add-ins.  This week, I rushed to class to put “blue” on the board.  (I also rushed to class to be able to buy Beyonce tickets right at 10 am…no luck though.)  This post isn’t super long or deeply thought out, but here are my initial thoughts on the word blue.

The Big House.  My homecoming dress from junior year of high school.  The veins so clearly seen on the inside of my wrist that carry deoxygenated blood.  My physics notebook.  The stripes on the shirt I’m wearing as I write this, the flowers on my scarf, and the pencil with which I am handwriting this.  Blue—all of these things are blue.

Blue has been my favorite color since I snapped out of the pink and purple phase that consumed much of my early childhood—I blame Barbie for that.  My room went from pink with teddy bears to a bright aqua blue with butterflies (embarrassing) and my walls have housed some shade of blue ever since.  As I got older, I found that I was gravitating towards this color that I now yell after the word “go” at football games.

Something about the color blue speaks to me.  It can be a bright blue, reminding me of that perfect ocean shade you can only seem to find in the Caribbean.  It can also be a rich, deep blue that calms you and grabs you at the same time, commanding your attention.  It’s almost bright, even though it’s dark.

Blue is so much more than a color, though.  As a life-long Michigan fan and U of M student, it has become a pride thing.  Blue is our color.  It shows up everywhere, from the streets filled with (maize and) blue on those glorious football Saturdays when the sun shines bright, to the blue signs that direct us around campus.  It is heard in the shouts of “Go…Blue!”   Blue surrounds us, and it defines us.

Sure, there are a lot of colors out there.  Crayola has managed to come up with some pretty clever names—Purple Mountain Majesty, anyone?—but I don’t need anything fancy.  Go blue.

Letters & Handwriting

I recently read this article by Matthew Gasda about the value of regularly writing letters instead of just emails. He thinks this is one of the best ways to develop as a writer, because it allows us to “think on the page” and explore, in depth, our ideas as well as different writing techniques.

Email is all about being as concise as possible. Letter-writing is about expression and exploration.

Gasda says:

“Writing an email, usually in the midst of several other activities simultaneously — that is, while distracted and unfocused — fundamentally can’t be the same thing as sitting down in a moment of relative quiet to compose a letter. There is some hard science to back this statement up — our brains just read and process text differently on a screen…”

I used to write letters fairly often, and I loved doing it. More often, though, the way that I make myself write regularly (which is, I think, Gasda’s main point) is by blogging or writing in a journal. The latter has actually become my preferred method; I’ve only recently realized just how much of a different there is between writing on paper and typing on a keyboard.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my freewrites:

“I can’t keep up and my hand hurts but for some mysterious reason I feel that I have to do this by hand. Like I won’t get as much out of it if I don’t. I’ve spent the past several – 6? 8? – years writing almost exclusively on a screen, but even though there are a lot of benefits to that (speed, convenience, privacy, organization) I find that there’s some sort of mysterious process that occurs when I touch pen to paper. Almost like I’m more connected to the ideas in me. Maybe because I’m physically producing letters and words and phrases instead of hitting labeled keys on a keyboard. I really don’t know. This has helped me brainstorm and start writing. Maybe b/c it feels less permanent and fixed than a computer document, even though really my text is more easily changeable and re-arrangeable there. But then again, maybe its precisely that, that pressure of editing capacity/possibility that makes me anxious and blocked. I’m still learning.”

Why is Blue for Boys?

Growing up, I played with Barbies and wore dresses and played with makeup, like most girls do. But I also loved wearing overalls, playing in the mud, and playing my Hotwheels computer game. And my favorite color was — and still is — blue. No one ever said anything to me about liking “boy activities” or things. Most people commented on how cute it was that I was a little tomboy.

On the flip side, I subscribe to a blog called “Raising My Rainbow”, another WordPress blog. It is written by a mother with two sons — the oldest is what we would think of as a “typical” boy, the youngest is what his mother refers to as “gender creative.” She does not give the real names of any of her family members on the site, but refers to her youngest son as CJ. CJ absolutely loves pink. And glitter. And tutus. He watched the Oscars with his mother and grandmother and commented on everyone’s dresses, and was amazed when the director of the animated film Brave, Mark Andrews, accepted his Oscar in a kilt.

Some say he wore a kilt because of his movie, but maybe he just likes the feeling of it!

Although CJ is a wonderful and enthusiastic gender-creative child at home, and his family does not make him conform to any type of label for his gender (he is six years old), his classmates and parents of the children do not always feel the same. CJ has faced times when he wants to dress in “boy clothes” so he doesn’t stand out from the other boys in his class, and he has seemed miserable about it. The parent of one of his closest friends wouldn’t let her daughter attend his birthday party once CJ’s mother informed the other mom about his love of skirts and all things pink.

I would like to know who ever decided that blue was for boys and pink was for girls. That girls played with Barbies and liked skirts and boys couldn’t cry and had to wear pants. And I would really like to know why it is okay for girls to dress and act like boys but not the other way around. My last post was about strength that women needed to break the stereotypes set for them by the media. But sometimes I feel like men have it just as hard and that their stereotypes go way back.

 

I want to see what all of you think about this issue. Or if anyone knows why blue is the standard color set for boys. I think children like CJ should be supported and fully allowed to express themselves, just like every other “normal” child out there.

I think the writer Domenick Scudera said it best in his article “Kilt It.” He wrote, “Hey, if it makes me happy, why not? I do not have to look like everyone else. I choose to be different, and I do not have to justify my attire to anyone.” Exactly, Domenick. You are exactly right.

Politics Politics Politics

Today I read an excerpt from a book about the portrayal of women and girls in the media for one of my Communications courses. This was my one of first times I had really explored the idea of feminism and sexism in depth, besides scoffing at a sexualized advertisement or the representation of women and girls on MTV. The introduction to the book was really well done. It was methodological, easy to follow, and funny. However, about half way through my reading, I started sensing political overtones. It wasn’t just a casual comment that made me think twice. These were blatant smears on public figures from the past two decades, men and women.

I think one of the most important characteristics of our democracy is the ability openly criticize and challenge leaders. At the same time, no matter what political views one holds, I’d like to think there is a certain respect and honor due to those that serve our country. The words the author used could have easily been toned down to still express a negative viewpoint without nearing slander.

After I finished the excerpt, I decided to look up the author. She turned out to be a U of M professor! The political overtones in the work became even more shocking to me. We all know that politics occasionally enters the classroom. When debating economics, culture, and history, it is often, well…political! But do academics have an obligation to tone down those political undercurrents in their professional work because of their association with the University? I don’t know much about the general consensus on this matter. Hopefully, someone from 220 knows a lot more than I do!

Learning. Whoa.

I like Ray’s latest assignment.  (For T’s class) It was to read six articles, predict the age/kind of person of the author, then research and find out who the writer actually is.

I usually do not sit down and read six articles.  I started with articles that I read recently and liked.  I needed four more articles so I followed the author’s links on the sidebar.  Upon this was DISCOVERY!

Turns out, I am actually interested in articles that interest him too.  This phenomena of cyber inter-connectedness was only a rumor  before this.  After reading the sixth article, I thought, “I enjoyed reading. I learned some things!”

While engaging in this assignment, I felt compelled to find something out.  It was like a game trying to uncover the author’s biographical information using their words, references, appropriateness of slang, and blogging finesse as clues.  I was noticing the rhythm of the text and wanting more of the groove.

This might be a new stage for my brain.  For other’s too?

Missing My [Pika!] Mates

Long time no write.  It’s been over two months since the end of last semester (aka the end of Writing 200 aka the end of one of my favorite classes of all time), and something seems to be lacking.  Sure, I’m taking some enjoyable classes, and sure, I’m in an Upper Level Writing class, but there was something unique about Writing 200 that has left my semester unfulfilled.  The talking, the sharing, the joking, the weirdness, and the uniqueness of all of my classmates created a diverse environment that made waking up early (okay, 10:00 am wasn’t THAT early) bearable.

But, I’m not going to sit here and wallow in my sorrows. I’ve tried to stay involved in Sweetland this semester, but that’s been a challenge considering the time I’ve been spending studying and preparing for the MCAT in May (AHHH!!!).  I can say for certain that I’ve taken some of the skills I learned in Writing 200 and transferred them  to my other classes.  The most important skill has undoubtedly been the recognition of my audience; whereas I used to dread writing scientific papers, I’ve now come to accept the rigidness and appreciate its feasibility in promoting scientific understanding.  While I do miss the introspective thinking that “Why I Write” required and the creativity that our WordPress accounts necessitated, I take solace in the fact that we will be revisiting these projects in the Capstone course next year.

So, there is my life update.  I hope all of my fellow Pika classmates are doing well and I look forward to hearing how all of you guys are faring without the Gateway Course in your lives!

My Life=Not So Fun

Simple with some sass

http://smallestforest.net

That was my favorite WordPress blog theme that I stumbled upon. I’m really attracted to the one column arrangement. I think if you were to eliminate the color with the theme and make it black & white it would seem more simple, but I’m  attracted to the colors utilized because I feel like it gives it some personality – some sass.

http://themeforest.net/item/skoll-wordpress/full_screen_preview/3929811

This one is great too. Again, simple without being boring.

Was MTV ever about the music?

In researching some fairly popular blogs on wordpress, I came across the MTV’s newsroom blog (http://newsroom.mtv.com/).  Despite personally detesting what MTV has done to television, it seems as though MTV has maintained a seemingly pristine collection of current music news, videos, and of course gossip as well.  While this site does unfortunately focus on matters such as Snooki, there are many very well written articles on contemporary musicians and other general news which is surprisingly well displayed.  I believe this blog is so well produced for the following reasons:

1) The developers know their audience. (One example would be the content of the “news” page, consisting of celebrity gossip and various music news of artists from 2000’s through contemporary artists.)

2) It is easy to navigate.  (The site has a simple layout that is busy but not overcrowded.  Main pages of the blog are clearly marked.)

3) Collaborating with other sites/sources.  (This site compared to other blogs I’ve seen makes sure to post plenty of links to sites with related material, easy access to posting info to facebook and twitter from every screen as well as pinterest and other social media sites).