To the Future Gateway Students

To the future gateway students:

This class is going to be fun. And challenging. There is a lot of freedom to be creative and to pursue your own ideas. With this comes a lot of responsibility. Deadlines are going to be a little more casual, so it’s on you to keep up with your work. It also might be easy to follow an idea that feels safe and easy. While this might help you get done faster, I think this class offers a fantastic opportunity to take some risks and see what you’re really capable of when given free reign to chase something that interests you.

My cohort made a groupme, which was super fun. This is a small class — you’ll see these same people for 3 hours a week, and you’ll share some pretty personal stuff with them in workshop. You might be lucky enough to be in classes together later. It’s a good opportunity to make friends. The better the environment, the more comfortable it is to be a little “out there” with your ideas.

Don’t fall behind on your projects or your ePortfolio. And definitely check out the ePortfolios your peers are making; people do really cool things, and it’s amazing to see how different people take on the same assignment. Your professor is a great resource. Whoever you get, they’ll be intelligent and engaged, and they will really, truly care about you as a student. Take advantage of that, because they rock.

I think this is a pretty common theme, but there’s a lot of opportunity in this class to challenge yourself, take risks, and break out of your comfort zone. It’s tough to do, but it’s worth it.

Good luck.

My meeting with the VP

n response to an open letter I wrote last semester, read here, considering the systematic discrimination of the school blood drives, I met with UM’s Vice President Royster Harper. While we did not reach the outcome that I’d hoped for, I was advocating for the University to shift its position on the issue and to acknowledge the marginalization of a minority of the student body, I gained insight into how the politics of a University operate. Officially, the University of Michigan maintains its support for the discriminatory FDA regulations on blood donation since the medical consultation of the board believes that the discrimination is “appropriate”. While I cannot say enough that I disagree, I understand that, right now, there is nothing the VP can do. She did offer her departments financial support of any educational event, lecture, or talk considering the issue–which is in the direction of progress. Hopefully, I can find some other students on campus who feel strongly about this issue to work with to curate such an event. Stay tuned for more on this…

Shameless Plug: Call for Creative Nonfcition

Does prefacing something with shameless plug make it any less shameful? I’d like to think so, but then again, it might be like when someone says no offense and you brace yourself, because you know that means they’re about to say something offensive. On the other end of the spectrum, maybe a plug doesn’t need to have the word shameless in front of it, because asking for others to help you accomplish something shouldn’t be shameful in the first place?

Okay, anyway, let’s get to the part where I promote my self-interested agenda. After all, you must be interested in it if you clicked on this post knowing it was a shameless plug.

So, for my Capstone project, I am creating a handbook/book type thing tentatively called A Young Writer’s Guide to Creative Nonfiction. I want to use my experience as a young writer who primarily writes within this genre to help others learning the art of creative nonfiction. But, here’s the thing, what’s a guide without examples?

Yes, here it is: the shameless plug. I want to use your essays in my book, so that young writers can learn from the exemplary work of their peers. I’ve dropped the link below for the submission requirements and the licensing agreement. Please help a girl out and send me your creative nonfiction essays, so my Capstone will rock and I can graduate.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fczoxkWZ2nCnUqT6csm9QfjDPi2N36du-jU5XuansNo/edit

 

HELP: Calling all Com and Psych Majors!!

Hello, Writing Community,

I am posting in an effort to ask any Communications or Psychology majors out there for your help.

For my remediation, I am exploring the idea of vanity, and self-image, as it relates to human beings in terms of development (Psychology) and how this intersects with our relationship with vanity in our social world (Communications).

So…do any of you know of any professors, previous not necessary, who have an interest in this topic, or teach courses about this, who I might want to speak with?

If so, please let me know! My email is daiamm@umich.edu

Thanks!!

workworkwork

Does anyone else feel like they’re experiencing the verses in “Work,” by Rihanna? Let’s be real honest, nobody knows exactly what she’s saying, but we all pretend to mumble along until she hits lyrics we can decipher.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been stuck mumbling along. Everything seems to be so fast-paced, be it in class or just in daily life, that I’m having trouble keeping up. I have brief spurts of confidence when I feel comfortable enough singing along, but those only last for a short while. The end of the semester looms, and there is so much I want like to accomplish before that time comes. Graduation hovers just behind, signifying the end of this chapter of my life, and there is so much I would like to process and understand before that change happens. After the day of graduation, I have three more days in Ann Arbor, and then I leave Michigan. I don’t know if or when I’ll be back. It’s going to be such a permanent shift that I want to make the most of the time I have here.

Before I graduate, I want to produce this capstone project, and make it amazing. I want to celebrate our hard work with my senior design team. I want to thank the professors and peers of mine that have taught, encouraged, and struggled with me through the past four years.

Before I leave, I want to finish my edible Ann Arbor bucket list. I want to watch the sun set over the Big House one last time. I want to spend rich, quality time with the people that have come to be so dear to me during my time in Ann Arbor.

I don’t want to trip over my words or myself when I do these things. I don’t want to be mumbling along—I’d much prefer the chance to sing along at the top of my lungs.

What do you want to do before you leave?

The Project Train is Running Out of Steam

Hey everyone.

Know the song “Train Kept a-Rollin'” by Aerosmith? Yea, well, that song does NOT describe me right now. I’m starting to burn out on my project…which sounds like such a whiny complaint, but it’s true. Lately, I just can’t bring myself to care about working on it all of the time.

Last month, I did small portions of work every day. I was on a roll, and things were going very well. Of course, I was working on a part of the project that necessitated daily work (the poetry journal, for those familiar with what I’m doing), so it was easier to stay focused. Reading and doing research such a chore at that point either, because I was in the process of figuring out how I would use it. I was also so deep in the process of preparing for and taking grad school auditions that I was used to having my nose to the grindstone.

Now, I have a few things contributing to my lack of motivation:
1. I’m feeling senioritis. I never thought I would get it, but I did. It doesn’t help that I’ve gotten scholarship offers from a few grad schools and that I’m trying to figure out where to go next year.
2. I just want to practice all of the time. I am feeling really motivated for some auditions and stuff coming up, and I miss working on solo repertoire just for fun. I want that time back.
3. I miss reading for pleasure. I have so many freaking books on my shelves, and in my Kindle library, that I have not had time to read because I have been doing research all of the time.
4. The weather is getting nicer and I want to stay outside a bunch.
5. Summer is calling my name, especially since I’ve just committed to return to the Chautauqua Institution from late June through August. That orchestra is so much fun to play with.
6. I’ve met someone I really like, and spending time with her is fantastically fun.
7. The second season of Daredevil is out now and the first DLC package for Fallout 4 comes out on Tuesday. Crap.

Okay, I think that’s mostly it. Are they all ridiculous things to be complaining about? Yes. Am I just whining and being insufferable? Yes. Do I care about either of those things? No.

Anyway, if any of you have some motivational advice or are struggling with similar issues, let me know! I’ll take any and all advice.

Stay well!

Evan

Ruminations on Work and Stress

Do any of you ever feel overwhelmed, even when you have plenty of time to do everything that you need to do?

Do any of you ever feel overwhelmed, even when you have plenty of time to do everything that you want to do?

I am currently feeling overwhelmed, even though I have plenty of time to do everything I need and want to do.

Maybe this blog isn’t the right place to post about something like this. Whatever. I’m not here to complain; I’m here to see if I can find an answer to why I feel this way. It’s influencing my approach to writing, too, so that’s why I’m plopping all of this here.

Here’s what I’ve got going on:

I had my first grad school audition on Friday, here at Michigan. I wasn’t terribly nervous because it was for my current professor and the doctoral students that I have already played for/with for the last 3-4 years.

Earlier last week, though, I began to have a lot of issues with my playing. I began to regain many of the tension patterns that I worked very hard to eliminate during my freshman and sophomore years. I began to practice too often and my facial muscles actually began feeling sore during my daily activities outside of music. I had never experienced this to the degree that it was happening.

I also juggled three different performing ensembles and running a fraternity as President.

I basically got so stressed out about my abilities and about my chances of making it into the grad programs that I am auditioning for over the next few weeks that I overworked myself. I’m sure you all know the feeling quite well. It’s easy, as college students, to want to max out on everything when we have something to prove.

Add to these musical/physical woes an extensive amount of deep thinking and writing in Writing 420, and you’ve got a recipe for mental disaster. It was everything I could do to keep myself focused. The only things I looked forward to were drinking with my friends and eating absurd amounts of food.

Over the last couple of weeks, as this stress and over-thinking began to set in, I began to also dread sitting down to write anything. I finished the book I had begun before winter break ended as quickly as I could so that I wouldn’t have to read (even though it was voluntary reading). I stopped writing poems on a regular basis. I stopped enjoying playing video games as much, and got increasingly angrier when I didn’t have good matches on Star Wars: Battlefront or Call of Duty: Black Ops III. I even stopped enjoying listening to music.

I suppose that what I’m getting at is that stress is bad, and it can creep up on anyone unexpectedly. I didn’t even realize that what I was feeling was stress.

So, over this past weekend, I took an entire to not practice or write or anything. I played video games, I went to Sam’s Club and bought a bunch of coffee, and I sat around ― a lot. I ate a lot of food and drank a lot of beer at Buffalo Wild Wings.

And today I feel better than I have all month. All it takes sometimes is the realization of the fact that one can’t fix everything in a day. Working on writing projects and practicing music are gradual processes, and I have to remind myself that I am not bad at either one.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my rant if you made it this far. Remember: be happy! 🙂

― Evan

One For The Books.

It can be easy to get lost in the thrill of a new semester. New classes, new friends, new awkward ice-breakers, but most importantly; new knowledge. This semester has already started off as one of the most intense, yet rewarding times of my life. At the end of last semester I was elected as President of the National Panhellenic Association on campus. In short, I act as the liaison between the Panhellenic sororities (all 17 of them), and the University of Michigan. This job was not at all what I expected, however the experience has been exhilarating. My life has gone from occasional all nighters and the library and working 20-30 hours at a local restaurant, to limited sleep and constant meetings and emails. On top of all of this, I am starting an LSAT prep course in the middle of February. This will be a task that I have never endeavored before, but that I am welcoming with open arms.

I’m the type of person who loves to be busy, but this new constantly stressful lifestyle has taught me a lot about myself:

  1. Put yourself first. Not in the sense that everything I choose to do has to be selfish, but in the sense that my health and wellbeing is essential to keep everything I do running well. If I am not putting myself and my needs first, I will fail at all else I try to accomplish.
  2. Honesty is the best policy. No matter what situation I’m put into, no matter who is in the room with me, and no matter who I will potentially hurt; honesty is the best policy. If I am to leave a legacy and my “mark” on my community, I want it to begin and end with honesty and integrity.
  3. Utilize your connections. When you’re involved in as many organizations and ventures as I am, it can be easy to get lost in all the connections you hold. However something that I have found to be crucial is leveraging your connections and now shielding them selfishly from others. Sharing connections with others opens doors for collaborations, connections, and potentially innovative ideas.
  4. Be mindful of others. Working in an environment consisting of many nationalities and being a person of Hawaiian descent, I always considered myself mindful of others. Yet I found that as a culture we speak and act in ways that are not openly offensive, yet still cause harm. I have put it upon myself to be mindful of the way in which I speak and act towards all individuals, to create a respective and welcoming environment.
  5. Break stereotypes. Ah. The number of times I’ve told people that I am in a certain sorority or a member of Greek Life and they have said “what? but you’re so down to earth?” is quite sad. Greek Life has a reputation of wealth, disrespect, sexual assault, and risky behaviors. Although this may be a cultural phenomenon or the act of a few individuals, it is my goal to break stereotypes everywhere I go and to encourage others to do the same.
  6. Leave a legacy. Now, this bullet point is a bit more difficult to write. Solely because the word “legacy” carries such a heavy weight and the need for substantial change or impression. Yet, I believe leaving a legacy can be as simple as making friends who speak highly of you, creating one program that really speaks to a sorority, or just helping one person overcome a mental health disorder. I want to leave a legacy.

The semester has started, but my intentions and hope for the future have only begun.