In My Eyes: An Investigation of Misconception and an Argument for Female Reproductive Rights

Recently, president Donald J Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have made promises to defund Planned Parenthood in an effort to restrict—and ultimately—ban abortion in the U.S. Why is this wrong? Why does it matter?

In my eyes, a woman should have the right to her own body. In my eyes, pro-life ethic conflicts with the basic human right of personal autonomy. In my eyes, government has no place impeding the reproductive decisions of any of its citizens, regardless of sex. My project realizes however, that the “truth” I hold in my eyes is not true for everyone. Additionally, in this novel era of misinformation, false news stories, and alternative facts, what does the word “truth” mean anymore? How is the general public supposed to ingest knowledge and protect themselves from false information and bias? How has the recent disregard for factual evidence affected American policy and what does it mean for our future?

Investigating how different and often opposing truths came to be is imperative in understanding the nature of this culture war around reproductive rights and abortion. I aim to illuminate the true nature of Planned Parenthood and extinguish the stigma that pervades popular opinion. I aim to identify how these misconceptions came to be and ask myself and my audience, what do these misconceptions convey about the social values that dominate U.S. politics and how can we contest them?

xoxo, Catherine

Wow.

I have been on this campus for three semesters now. I’m not even halfway finished with college. I’ll admit that I am still naïve to this whole college thing—honestly, I think we all are. Despite my naivety, I’ve come to a realization. With each new semester come new mistakes, discoveries, and lessons. Each season I spend at this school, I find out something new, not only about The University of Michigan and its people, but also about myself. I feel the impressions Michigan has molded onto me. This semester I learned how to be a part of a close-knit academic community. As a freshman, I drowned behind a tiny desk in a sea of students during large lectures. I was silenced by my inexperience and anxiety. But this semester I learned what it takes to be a student—which doesn’t mean I’m good at it. I didn’t necessarily succeed in being a good student, I just now know what it takes to be one. This isn’t some definitive life mantra, but I’ve learned that to be good a good student—to be good at anything—you need to be proactive, you need to reach out to people and you need to work your ass off. This gateway course has been an invaluable learning experience and I truly appreciate being able to meet all of my brilliant cohorts and the brilliant T. Best of luck to everyone in everything you do. Here is my ePortfolio, the electronic manifestation of this semester and hopefully the semesters to come.

 

xoxo,

Catherine

Catherine's ePortfolio

Dirty the Void.

My advice…

Put yourself out there. In writing, of course. My advice to any writers, spill your f***ing guts onto that blank page. Let the words crawl from your mind and unfurl onto the blank page. Dirty the void.

 

Say something.

 

My advice to cohorts: Don’t do too much thinking before you write. Just write, goddamnit. The thoughts will come as the pen moves across the paper (more accurately: as your fingers move across the keyboard). Are you stuck on an idea? Or even a sentence? Don’t sit there with your hands pinned underneath your ass, be active about your immobility. Either move on to something else, or talk it out with your instructor, a friend (imaginary or real), your mom, cousin, brother etc etc etc. You get the picture.

The worst thing you could do as a writer is be still. Standstills are inevitable. Rough patches are inevitable. You might hit one in the early brainstorming stages or final revision stages, or somewhere in between. The point is: it’s natural to be stuck, but don’t stay stuck for too long. Because then you’ll lose the spark.

One of the most important things this class will teach you is how to be a part of a community. Take advantage of the talents and opinions of your fellow cohorts. You are all here because you share a passion for words. Make use of this commonality and really get to know your peers. Utilize them as a resource and more importantly, reciprocate. I’ve found that reviewing my peer’s work has helped me edit my projects.

Have an open-mind. Come to class ready to discuss. Add something each day. The great Hannah Montana once said “Life is what you make it.” Well, this class is what you make it. You can come to class simply for attendance and you can fulfill your projects simply for the GPA. But to what end? Don’t you want this course to mean something? You are minoring in this subject; it should mean something to you. Anyways I feel like I’m getting aggressive, I’ll back off and leave you with this sentiment: the possibility is in you; it is up to you to make something of this course.

 

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Hannah Montana rocking out like you will in the MIW gateway course.

Hi my name is Catherine, and I’m a procrastinator.

Practice what you preach.

What are things about writing that you know you should do—or want to do—but don’t. Why? What are things you tell others to do, but don’t do yourself.

I think the one thing I hate about myself more than anything else is my inability to motivate. I am a chronic procrastinator. I suffer from the worst strain of procrastination: entitled procrastination. Meaning, because I’ve gotten away with procrastinating in the past, I haven’t been compelled to change my ways. I’ve excelled in the past doing things last minute, and therefore I’ve fallen into a dangerous habit of low self-motivation. It happens mostly with schoolwork. I have too much confidence in myself. Even though my best work has come from assignments I did NOT do last minute, I still procrastinate because I’m not punished enough. Writing is a particularly dangerous task to leave to the last minute because part of the value of writing is the extensive revision and collaboration process, which takes time. But it seems I’m always the most prolific when I’m under pressure. I need help. This is all very bad, and maybe I shouldn’t be admitting it into an official academic forum. But admitting it to myself is the first step to change. And I need to change, fast.

Catherine Gosling…it has a ring to it.

What are things you never get tired of? Things that would never bore you. What is valuable? What are you grateful for? Serious or light.

 

Light? Hmmmm I can do light.

I never get tired of chocolate. Especially Toblerone bars. God you guys need to try them.

toblerone

I never get tired of dreaming I’ll marry Ryan Gosling one day. OKAY, I KNOW HE IS A FATHER NOW. I KNOW. DO YOU REALLY THINK I DON’T KNOW THAT? Whatever, Eva Mendes, whatever. *hand emoji*

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 3.50.43 AM

I will never be bored of watching Buttercup, the baby goat, knock over all of her “friends.”

I never get bored of Jeopardy (or any form of trivia for that matter). My favorite game is Catch phrase.

I will never be bored of The Office. It is my favorite show of all time. Jim + Pam forever <3.

jim and pam

I’m grateful for online shopping. Namely Gilt, Piperlime and Nasty Gal.

 

More seriously though, I’m grateful most for my family. I’m grateful second most for my friends. And third most for my privileges. My number 1 privilege is this fine university. Don’t you ever forget it.

I was feeling especially sentimental the other day and wrote a thank you poem to my parents. I intend to inscribe it into a Christmas card for my parents this year.I know, it’s like I’m in the first grade. But hopefully the writing quality is better than a first-grader’s…hopefully. Everyone should thank their parents this holiday season. We should really thank them every day but sometimes it’s hard to remember all they do for us when they nag us about “spending too much money on Uber and Starbucks.” Pshh, mom, relax.

Aforementioned poem:

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 4.24.12 AM

 

Are You Freaking Out? Let’s Freak Out Together.

I’m here as someone without absolutely no authority to tell you that everything is going to be okay. No, I don’t know what stress you are going through, but I can help you. No idea where you’re living next year and it seems like everyone decent house has already been leased? It’s okay. Two midterms and a lab coming up within the next 72 hours? Yeah, that I admit is scary, but you’ll be okay. I recently watched a very interesting Ted Talk given by psychologist Kelly McGonigal. It was about the science of stress. Essentially, stress is only a bad thing if we perceive it as bad.

 

“Wooooahhhhhh, wait…what?”

 

Yes. Yes, my friends. Stress is good. For so long we have negatively connoted the word “stress.” But I’m here to bust that myth. One study induced stress in participants. One variable group was told that stress responses were helpful, the other variable group was not told anything. In a typical stress response, your heart rate goes up, and your blood vessels constrict (one of the reasons that chronic stress is associated with cardiovascular disease). For the participants who were told to view their stress response as helpful, their blood vessels stayed relaxed. This cardiovascular profile actually resembles what happens in moments of joy and courage.

So, science. There is this stress hormone, oxytocin. The pituitary gland releases oxytocin in stress response. And when oxytocin is released in the stress response, it motivates you to seek support. Your biological stress response is nudging you to tell someone how you feel instead of bottling it up.

A study asked participants “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?” It also asked, “How much time have you spent helping out friends, neighbors, people in your community?” The study then used public records for the next five years to find out who died.

It turns out, for every major stressful life experience (i.e. financial difficulties or family crisis) increased the risk of dying by 30 percent. But, this statistic was not true for all participants. The participants who spent time caring for others showed absolutely no stress-related increase in dying.

What does this mean? It means that changing how you think about stress make you healthier. It also means that when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience. So with that, my fellow cohorts, I say embrace the stress. And reach out to others because this world was not built to be experienced alone.

Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk on stress, check it out!kelly mcgonigal ted talk

Being a “writer” doesn’t mean you have to be good at it…

Bold Proclamations about writing, being a writer. Include image. Sassy. Brassy. And all that.

I say that anyone can be a writer. Like many things, there are good writers and bad writers. To be “a writer” does not mean you have to be good. Some may disagree with me on that. But I say to them: anyone who can find value in writing, is a writer. In my eyes, a writer is not necessarily someone whose words unfurl onto the paper with inherent ease. Some writers are this way, but ability does not define a writer. A writer is someone who can create a relationship with his or her words.

That relationship isn’t always easy. Writing takes endurance and vision. I don’t mean vision as in setting rigid goals and either achieving or failing. I mean vision to see what could be. A writer’s vision can be constantly evolving. A piece can start a certain way and end up in a completely different direction. Writing can be frustrating and difficult, but it is rewarding in the end.

Writing requires purpose. I don’t necessarily mean “change the world” purpose. Changing the world very well can be a writer’s purpose, but not all writers should feel the need to set out such a grand task. A writer’s purpose can simply be to clear her mind, or sort through a decision. The purpose can be selfish or it can be universal.

Now, this may spark some disagreement but I would break down writing into 2 percentages: 60% of writing is for the writer, 40% for the audience. I think by nature, writers like to hear themselves speak. I think they get enjoyment not only out of the process, but also the end product. I think this satisfaction with the end product is what makes us selfish. Granted, we always have to keep our audience in mind when we write. But I think writing is slightly more about us than it is about our audience. What do you think? Percentage wise, how would you divvy up writing?

Writing is peculiarly a very isolated process, yet a very interactive process. Deep introspection is often required in the writing process. Writers often need to be “alone with their thoughts.” Yet, peer review and workshopping is an integral part of any writer’s life. All writers need collaboration, a second opinion, a new sets of eyes: no exceptions. Writing is unique in that two integral aspects are contrary: seclusion and a network of support.

 

If you're a writer, you've been here before.
If you’re a writer, you’ve been here before.

Help a Sista Out.

I need some help.

Desperately.

I’ve had ideas floating around in my head for Project III, but none of them seem good enough. I’m not satisfied with anything I’ve come up with so far. And as ashamed as I am to admit this, I’m dangerously close to settling on an idea I’m not all that enthused about.

*gasp* “Catherine, did you just use the “s” word on the Minor in Writing blog?!”

Yes, yes I did. I was out of line, but I do desperately need someone to talk to or comment on this post. I don’t want to settle–no one ever wants to settle–but, this project (as you all know) is a large undertaking and I need to get cracking, ASAP.  So please, for the well-being of not only your fellow cohort, but also the  integrity of the Minor in Writing Program, help.

My Project II was something I deemed an “anti-travel guide.” In short, it is a collection of six stories. Those six stories described six separate disasters I landed myself during the process of travel. I call it an “anti-travel guide,” because accompanying each of the anecdotes is a tip and a moral. For example, Tip #5 is “Don’t run red lights,” and the moral of that anecdote is “Don’t run a red light (especially the day before your roads test) or your mother will not allow you to take aforementioned roads test.” The stories are an attempt at humor, mostly sarcastic humor, so I want the self-depricating, light tone to continue into my remediation.

I’ve had the idea to do humorous video-interviews, similar to those of “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.” I’d interview people who have funny stories about their traveling experiences and have them tell their story. But how do I galvanize people (with enough confidence to go on camera) to take time out of their busy schedules, and go all the way to the dude and film interviews in front of the green screen? It just doesn’t seem reasonably feasible to me.

Another idea I had was to make a satirical “travel blog.” Mocking the glamorous pictures and stories of internet-famous travelers. But this idea just feels bleh. I myself wouldn’t even want to explore this satirical blog, so how can I expect my audience to want to?

Another idea was to make a storyboard for each of my anecdotes. Has anyone seen Argo? Do you know the scene where the hostages and Ben Affleck are trying to get back home through the airport and they get stopped by security? Then one of the hostages uses the storyboards from the “movie” to convince security that they are indeed a “film crew from Canada.” Well, if you haven’t seen Argo or don’t remember that scene, hopefully you still know what a storyboard is. Anyways, the idea was to draw/create comic-like storyboards that depict the sequence of events in each of my anecdotes. My anecdotes are very sequential, so this medium would lend itself to my project. My concern? I guess my only gripe with this idea is the feeling that I can do better, utilize the awesome resources at my disposal, create something more impressive. Alas, maybe I cannot.

So I ask unto you all: whatcha think? Do any of my idea have promise? Do you have suggestions, tweaks, solutions to any of my current ideas? Or did my cathartic brainstorm spark any other ideas in you? Please help a sista out and comment below if you have anything to say, anything to say at all. Thanks for listening and best of luck with your projects. Onward!

Just Spitballin’ Here

I was scrolling through my past documents on my laptop, there are some real doozies in there—not in a good way. But I came across my application letter to the Sweetland Minor in Writing Program. I had forgotten what I wrote about, but as a was re-reading it, my inspiration returned to me. I had written about my grandfather. As a Journalism major, he is always telling me to learn how to write. He’s always telling me that writing is the most important skill you can have. He says that no matter how intelligent someone is, if he sounds like a fool in writing, he won’t be taken seriously. Now, I understand that my grandfather grew up in very different times. People don’t rely on writing as much as they used to, and engineers are in much higher demand than journalists. But I made a promise to my grandfather and I have every intention of keeping it.

For my project I plan to make an academic argumentation on the importance of writing. I want to emphasize the importance of teaching proper writing skills in grade school. I also want to argue that even in an increasingly technological society, being able to write is as necessary a skill as any. The skill transcends to being able to communicate clearly in any situation, and through any medium.

I don’t know what publication to gear my project towards. Cohorts, any ideas? T, I definitely plan to meet with you and just talk it out.

Thinking even further ahead, because my grandfather was my inspiration for both my Sweetland application and this upcoming project, I was thinking of writing a short fictional novella based on his life. Has anyone read Half-Broke Horses or Unbroken? Similar format to those books, but most definitely without the finesse of Jeannette Walls or Laura Hillenbrand. That’s just an idea though, not sure if I’m cut out to be writing on that scale just yet.

My Paga and Blue kickin it back like a couple of homies.
My Paga and Blue kickin it back like a couple of homies.

 

That’s So Catherine

cat soccerNow, this is a story all about how

Her life got flipped, turned upside down

And she’d like to take a minute

Just sit right there

She’ll tell you how she became the prince of a town called…Ann Arbor? Ha. She wishes.

Born on April 28th 1995, Catherine Louise Livingston grew up in Rye, NY with her mother, father and two brothers. She currently resides in Ann Arbor as a directionless student at The University of Michigan. She was named after Catherine of Wuthering Heights, but alas, has yet to find her Heathcliff *sigh*. A former 3 sport athlete, she now occasionally frequents the Central Campus Recreational Building when she can muster the willpower. Nothing brings her more joy than her two dogs, Duke and Blue. She cannot go longer than a month without shopping and her ultimate weakness is York peppermint patties. If she could live a day in the life of anyone it would be JLaw, hands down. *That’s So Raven voice* Yep, that’s me!!!!