Top Ten List

If you know anything about me, you know this is not an easy feat. I will put ten of my favorite books on this list, whether it be for the storyline, what I got out of the message, anything. It is not in any particular order – except the first one. The first one is my all time favorite book.

  1. Never Let Me Go –  Kazuo Ishiguro
  2. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
  3. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
  4. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  5. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  6. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  7. Fear and Loathing in Las VEgas – Hunter S. Thompson
  8. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  9. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  10. Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

But honestly I could go on & on … please let me know if you want explanations for any of these or any additional recommendations 🙂

Feminism & Culture

Hi everyone!

I attended an event at Literati Bookstore on Tuesday night, and it was a reading from a Swedish poet’s translator (the actual poet had to cancel her trip to the states). It was an awesome event, great poetry, the works. There was just one thing that really struck me that I felt I really needed to share with you all (especially you, Sami!)

One woman was reading the poem in Swedish, and then the translator would read it in English. Someone from the audience asked why what means “free person” in Swedish was translated into “free man” in English. I don’t think she meant any harm in her answer, but after discussing feminism a lot in class I was reading into every word she composed as her answer. She said that using “free man” as opposed to “free person” (including women) was more universal and poetic. I don’t think she meant anything by this response, but I took it as extremely insensitive. I’m wondering what others’ thoughts are on this. Do you think that poetry is against feminism? Do you think that equality of the sexes will be harder to obtain due to the differences in languages? Maybe we have to break through the barriers of every single language before feminism can be a universal topic that people are aware of.

What do you think? Am I totally wrong for reading into this too much?

MACS Journalism Panel

Tonight I attended an event put on by the Michigan Association of Communication Studies. I went hoping to learn a thing or two about journalism as a topic, a study, and a career, but what I actually got was five incredible, eye-opening accounts of what it looks like to do something that you are truly passionate about, of which I will share a few.

Alex Stone had a lot to say that really stuck with me. Although all of the journalists spoke about this at one point or another, Stone introduced the importance of passion in your work – particularly a career in journalism. Maybe there are careers that you can make through without being passionate, but if you want to get far in journalism, you have to care about it. If you are passionate about what you write about, you will make other people passionate about it as well because they will feel the devotion that went into it. An important drive of my Evolution Essay is the idea that once I became passionate about what I was writing about, I enjoyed writing more and was more pleased with the work I was producing. I don’t think I have made people necessarily passionate about what I’ve written about, but I think I’ve written in such a way to at least make people more interested in my writing than they might have been if they read something I hadn’t been passionate to write about.

Additionally, he believes that although print newspapers are coming to an unfortunate end, the new types of journalism will allow more people to be journalists. With video journalism where all you need is some type of recording device and the internet, even journalists on shoestring budgets have access to get their information out. So my question for you all is, do you agree that this is a good way to view the evolution of news sources? Or do you still argue for print? Why?

Another interesting takeaway is that most of the panelists did not use their degrees immediately, but whatever their post-college jobs were ended up as a path to journalism. Some had degrees in science-related fields, one philosophy, one English, etc. Their first job didn’t have anything to do with their studies, but eventually they became journalists. It was interesting to see first-hand how these people’s passions led them to journalism, rather than what they studies. One journalist became set on the idea that she would write for the political beat, and even though it took her a few years, she eventually got there. She was one of the first journalists to report the 9/11 event from ground zero. She disguised herself as a volunteer, and handed out water bottles to people being saved from the mountains of rubble. Because of the severity and sensitivity of this event, police were clearly not trying to accept any media coverage. As this woman was handing out water bottles, she would write down details very inconspicuously, to prevent looking like a journalist. She spent almost all night there and then went in to write about it. It was fascinating to learn that this had been her dream, and even though nobody had allowed her to write about it until then, she kept persistent and continued to write in hopes of it someday being published somewhere.

My second question is, How many people graduating in the next few weeks are using their major for their next step after college (provided you know what that next step is)?

And a closing thought to consider when thinking about passion relating to work and influencing people:

“People forget what you say to them, but not how you made them feel.”

*References to consider – Petra Bartosiewicz covers the 9/11 attack for the New York Observer, James O’Shea’s The Daisy Chain, & Alex Stone’s “The Magic Olympics” for Harper’s Magazine.




#PIVOT Last Words

I will admit, I only applied for the Minor in Writing initially because I dropped my psychology major. I came into college expecting to study psychology and only that, and my freshman year I enrolled in the ROTC program with the dream of becoming a psychologist for soldiers with PTSD and any other on-site issues. After some reconsideration, my parents did not agree with this decision because of the four-year commitment to the service post-college. As disappointed as I was at the time, I realized that going down that path would not have been the best option for me. Eventually, I grew to loath the classes I was taking through the department because I thought it was busywork. My breaking point, though, was all the low Bs I was getting on my papers. I knew they were well written, and they followed all of the guidelines on the syllabus. However, I quickly learned that in science-related writing, it didn’t matter at all how well written the papers were. It mattered how black and white you could get your point across so as to not annoy the GSI. This is when I decided to double major in English as well, because I thought if I was going to be studying English for four years anyway, I may as well get something tangible out of it. English has always been my favorite subject; I just hadn’t originally thought that there was anything I wanted to do pertaining to it. Soon after that, I just dropped my psychology major because I started loving the English classes so much that all I could do was hate my psych courses even more. So here I was with just an English major, which, at the University of Michigan, I didn’t think was enough.

I researched minors that I could fulfill within two years because I was ending my sophomore year at the time. Eventually I came across the Minor in Writing, which I applied for immediately because I was so excited about the opportunity to take more writing and English courses for credit rather than just electives. I couldn’t believe that being so involved in English and knowing a lot of teachers in the department personally, I hadn’t heard about the MiW before. It took a lot of research to discover it. I applied without knowing much about it, excited to have something more to graduate with and an opportunity to further develop my writing skills.

I then figured out that if I wanted to do the Minor in Writing, I would probably want to do some sort of Spring English classes to get some more requirements out of the way. I had randomly heard about the New England Literature Program through the English department, and, also on a whim, applied for that as well. I figure I love being outdoors and I love writing, I may as well try it out. It would fulfill eight English credits and knock a lot of requirements out of the way for the major. The entire semester leading up to my departure (even after I paid the deposit), I didn’t know if I would actually end up attending. What the hell was I thinking leaving my entire family and life behind, unable to be reached by anything but snail mail? I was so worried that something would happen to my family while I was gone, and I wouldn’t know about it until three days later when a letter would arrive from someone else. But nothing happened to my family. What happened was a transformed view of writing for me. Through letters to and from my friends and family, I learned so much more than any academic writing. I learned the best way to portray feelings through my sentences, be personal, summarize a week’s worth of experiences, and tell exactly what is important, rather than every single detail. I didn’t write a single essay, but rather I wrote in a journal the entire time and that is what our final grades were based on. This journal included academic, personal, creative, and every other type of writing we did there. It felt so great to be a part of an alternative education program because it proved that I could still learn a lot even outside the rigidity of a traditional classroom setting.

I brought my new views on writing to the Minor when I returned. I wrote about extremely personal things for my gateway course, and I had a new confidence that I hadn’t had before. I was no longer scared to include personal details about myself in my writing – these assignments were graded on the writing itself, not the person. My writing became so much more passionate and detailed once I opened myself up to the idea of writing in a more personal, rather than formal, style. The different mediums in which I wrote during NELP also made me realize that a great writer isn’t just great at writing essays, poetry, or novels. A great writer is someone who can compose a unique idea and execute it in the most appropriate way – which is not always through a formal essay. This is something I had never even considered before NELP and the Minor in Writing. I now loved adding photos to my essays to convey more meaning and emotion, I wrote about videos I watched rather than just other things I had read, and overall I had a much more open mind about the ways in which we practice writing than I had before.

Writing isn’t just a way in which to receive a grade. Writing is a therapeutic way to work through your feelings, it’s a way to express yourself, it’s a way to show love toward someone you care about, and most of all, it is yours. Writing shouldn’t always be just an academic essay. Through my experience in the Minor and as an undergraduate student, I have become much more aware that writing is everywhere. It is in the email we write, the letters we send, the magazines we read, the advertisements we see – everything. Writing is an art, not just a way to get a point across.

As far as where I’m going next, I’ll be using my writing skills for more public relations, web content, writing copy, and everything else a launching startup needs a writer for. Long-term goals, though, I’d love to write a fiction novel … it all depends where my passions take me.

Self Claims

My completely unrelated self claims….

  • I am a person to make rules but not always follow them
  • I have a really hard time forming a concrete opinion about something
  • I am the person I used to always look up to
  • I am trustworthy but not always trusting
  • I am confident in my knowledge and abilities yet still doubt myself
  • I am the most extroverted introvert you’ll ever meet

My project references, which are all closely related to one of the families that I nanny in which I am writing somewhat of an apologia based on:

  • Families in Ann Arbor
  • Ann Arbor Schools (HDS, Gretchen’s House)
  • Mott Children’s Hospital
  • The psychology of attachment
  • What constitutes a family
  • Curious George (show)
  • The Lorax (movie)
  • My Little Pony (TV show)
  • Fairy books
  • Fairy doors of Ann Arbor

Nanny Life

I haven’t gotten far with my project yet, but I’m thinking more about making it closer to my original idea rather than the ideas I’ve gotten from class. I ended up just getting confused and straying away from a concrete plan, so I want to return to my original idea and go from there. My intention is to show people why being a nanny is more of a real job than usually thought of. I wanted to make it somewhat sarcastic and make a manual of every reason why a nanny is a really difficult job. I would make it funny in the sense that it is fun and easy to read, but I do want to make it serious as well. I have been with families through some really great times, but I have also helped a family through the process of a 4-year old’s brain surgery to remove a tumor, just two weeks after having a new baby born into the family. I face real family-type problems while balancing school and other jobs. I want to somehow put this into my project so that people know that when I say I am a nanny, it is something I take a lot of pride in because it has been one of the hardest but most fun things I’ve ever done. Now I just need to figure out the medium through which I will execute these ideas…

Hole-in-the-Wall Hometowns

Matt’s previous post about his love for his hometown, Chicago, and the way he outlines the many things to do that out-of-towners might not know about, really got me thinking about people’s relationships with their hometowns. I’m personally from Holland, MI way on the west side of the state, on Lake Michigan. Almost everyone who has never heard of or been to Holland automatically look at me like I’m crazy – why would someone from the freaking Netherlands come to the University of Michigan!? Alas, the Holland I’m from is in America, but that doesn’t mean the Dutch culture is excluded from the town. My 100% Dutch family fits in pretty well with the rest of the town. Just like Chicago, there are a lot of things to do in Holland that I’m sure not everyone knows about:


Dutch Village: You can go on the carnival style swings, buy cheeses or chocolates from the little shops, and you can even rent a goat for a day. Additionally… there’s a wooden shoe factory.


Tulip Time: What could be better than a week long festival with junk food and parades? Every night for the second week in May, people line the streets to watch the Dutch dancers do a traditional Dutch dance, however, the same thing every night. It’s tradition. You can get almost any junk food known to man, and there is a carnival amusement park set up, and saving the last for best – all schools get at least a day and a half off because of the parades.


Lake Michigan: You can rent sea doos, kayaks, go on dinner cruises, etc. But the marinas have probably some of the most beautiful boats you’ll ever see, be it speed boats, fishing boats, house boats, yachts, you name it. Pick any water sport you enjoy and I guarantee we could make it happen on Lake Michigan (unless of course it involves saltwater – at least you’ll avoid jellyfish).


Do you feel that there are things in your hometown that are often looked over? How do you think word spreads about events such as Tulip Time, the glory of Lake Michigan, etc.? Do you feel that there are underrated things about your hometown? I’m curious what people think is important about their hometowns, especially if they think most people aren’t aware of what makes it so important.




Freshman Year Writing… Enough Said.

“Through the dinner scene and a majority of the story, Joyce develops Gabriel’s character as this “symbol of firm authority.” After this “firm authority” is developed and Gretta shares her past with Michael Furey, Riquelme strongly persuades that Gabriel becomes “an example of a self-deluded person who is startled into a process of reconsidering what he has thought about himself and about those around him” (220). Gabriel is “startled into [this] process” at the end as he realizes that his “own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself which these dead had one time reared and lived in was dissolving and dwindling (59). The reveal of Michael Furey comes unexpectedly to the reader after we become so familiar with the dominance of Gabriel’s character in the story, as the reader is not expecting there to be someone that Gretta loves other than Gabriel.”

I don’t introduce or incorporate the quotes well, I use passive voice, and it is all just jumbled in there. I don’t really see the effect this passage has… woo, freshman self! You go!

Best of WordPress

It took me a lot longer to find a good blog than I thought. However, I came across a top 100 list and started clicking through some of them. This one from “Boing Boing” I found I really enjoy. There is a lot of color which I like, but the color doesn’t serve to be distracting by any means (says the girl with ADD…) It’s bright and organized, easy to navigate, etc.

I can see where some people might not agree with me because I felt like a lot of examples are modern and simple or sophisticated, while this is more bright and fun. However, I still think it’s a great candidate!

Higher Education Bubble

As I’m sure at least a few other people have found, one of the interesting articles I’ve come across is relating the higher education bubble to the movie Caddyshack.

This is the article I found that seemed most directed toward me. I felt I could relate the topic more to my life when thinking about it in the sense of the movie, as opposed to a political problem or something directed toward my parents.

My next link is for a video that explains the higher education bubble, and I think watching a video makes the concept easier to understand. I think this is the most informative piece of information I can find on the topic, and I really encourage everyone to check it out if you have a chance.