Time

With the end of the semester approaching and everything getting insanely crazy busy, it’s made me think a lot about what I need to be doing with the very little time I have (or seem to not have).  I should have started studying for physics days ago, but of course it has taken me awhile to get going.  I should be looking ahead to studying for my evolution exam, but of course that won’t happen just yet.  Thinking about the things I should be doing has made me consider all the things I wish I could be doing instead.

What would I do if I had as much time as I needed to do things?  I would read more, definitely.  I adore reading, but I never have time to settle down with a book during the school year.  I would go running, especially on a beautiful day like today.  I would sit outside and soak up the sunshine and do nothing more than just sit and breathe.  Nothing extravagant, nothing fancy.  Just little things that we seem to have no time for amidst our busy lives as students.

So often we are consumed by due dates that we don’t have time to do the things we love.  However, if time was infinite, I don’t know that things would get done.  Deadlines keep us on track.  We all know that projects assigned at the beginning of the semester and due at the end don’t get started until the end (ahem, E-Portfolio).  If everything was just “do it when you get a chance,” it’s unlikely that things would ever happen.

For now though, we need to make things happen.  Just a couple more weeks, people!  I wish everyone the best of luck in surviving finals, and I hope you find the time to do what you love.  In a few weeks, you’ll find me trying to balance studying for the MCAT with tackling my summer reading list and spending some time in the sunshine.  Where will I find you?

Is it going to be worth it?

I’m sitting at my dinner table in my parent’s house following our basketball team’s incredible win in the Final Four that sends us to the National Championship.  This hasn’t happened in 20 years, and I am at home with my cat attempting to study physics but mostly wanting to cry over the fact that I am not in Ann Arbor (or Atlanta) with my fellow wolverines.  I’m home because I have a physics exam next week that I need to ace to save my grade, and I knew that being in Ann Arbor would keep me from studying.  Now I’m asking myself if it is going to be worth it in the end.

If I didn’t have an exam this coming week, I would probably be in Atlanta right now.  No, I’m not the world’s biggest basketball fan—I honestly didn’t watch many games until March Madness—but I knew what making it to the Final Four meant, and I know what this win today means.  I was 6 months old the last time Michigan went this far in the tournament, and now it has happened while I am actually a student here.  I don’t know if this will happen again.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t take the weekend off.  Being pre-med is tough.  It brings a lot of stress, not only because of the class load but also because of the looming application process that will focus so heavily on my GPA.  I’ve missed a lot of important things to study for exams, and while I always try to convince myself that in the long run it will be worth it, I really question that sometimes.

I missed my best friend’s 21st birthday studying for my first physics exam.  Luckily, she understood, and I was able to celebrate with her later.  I missed my grandmother’s funeral studying for my second exam.  I don’t get to re-do that, and I still feel this overwhelming guilt when I think about not being there.  And now I have missed seeing our team advance to the championship game (and potentially win that championship game) attempting to study for this third exam.

It’s true that I am here at U of M to get an education.  But this year more than ever, I’ve really started to regret not being able to experience things that I wish I could.  I will never spend a semester abroad, because being pre-med doesn’t really allow for that.  I spend a lot of Friday and Saturday nights at the library.  I’ve accepted that my career of choice requires this of me, and for the most part, I am proud that I work as hard as I do.

On nights like tonight, though, I wonder.  I wonder if I’m going to be so happy with where I am in 20 years that I’ll forget about the experiences I passed up on.  I really hope so.

For now, all I can do is try to focus on these electromagnetic waves and hope that our boys in blue make us proud on Monday.  I’ll be cheering them on with my physics notes in front of me.  Go blue.

Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

Thanks to that repurposing project, I’ve had Eminem on the brain lately.  And I knew from day one that I would need a post to profess my love for the wonderful Mr. Mathers.  Here it is.

I get that Em’s lyrics are offensive, derogatory, and sometimes just plain twisted, but they are also brilliant.  The way he constructs his rhymes, stretching syllables and words to create verse after incredible verse is nothing short of amazing.  I have such respect for his skill.  Although I love most of his songs, there are lyrics of his that I will never forget: “Picket signs for my wicked rhymes.”  Who honestly thinks to rhyme “picket signs” with “wicked rhymes?”  Eminem does.

There is a 60 Minutes interview of him with Anderson Cooper, and he tells Anderson, “People say that the word orange doesn’t rhyme with anything, and that kinda pisses me off, because I can think of a lot of things that rhyme with orange.”  He goes on to explain that if you enunciate the word differently, stretching it into two syllables, you can get it to rhyme with other things.  “Door hinge” was my favorite example his.  It’s absolutely unbelievable if you ask me.

Another thing that made me love Eminem beyond his music is the movie 8 Mile.  Although it is not directly a biography, it explains his life through the character Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith, an aspiring rapper in Detroit like Eminem once was.  The best part of the movie is undoubtedly the final rap battle between Jimmy and his rival Papa Doc.  If you haven’t seen the movie and you don’t want me to give away the ending…stop reading now.  Jimmy knows he’s white and that he lives at home with his mom (among many other things often used against him in rap battles), and he decides to rap about all of these things so that his opposition will have nothing to say about him.  He also finds out a fun little secret about his not-so-gangsta opponent and uses this to cut him down.  So smart, right?!  It’s one of the greatest scenes in any movie I’ve seen.

Eminem has always been controversial for his lyrics or his family drama, but he is one of the most talented rappers out there.  Maybe even the most talented.  I really love his more serious, personal songs, but some of his crazy stuff is certainly entertaining.  If I could meet Eminem, I would probably cry and then hug him (without his permission of course, because he doesn’t seem like the hugging type).  And then I would die happy.

What are your favorite Eminem songs?  Or musical artists in general?

 

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.

We’re Supposed to Look Like What?!

Kaitlin Schuler wrote a beautifully eye-opening post about the way women are portrayed in the media.  It serves as my inspiration for this post, which partially responds to hers and partially takes this issue into different territory—Photoshop and plastic surgery.

Something in Kaitlin’s post that immediately grabbed me was her statement, “The way women are portrayed by the media is not something I ever questions.  And I should have a long time ago.”  I thought this was so powerful, and I fully agree.  The only times I’ve thought about how women are objectified were in classes that required me to think about it; once those times passed, it slipped my mind yet again.  I, too, was fortunate to grow up in a very supportive family.  For years I ran cross country and played soccer, and I always felt pretty confident about my body.  I had never given the pretty women gracing magazine covers much thought at all.

That made finding out that one of my closest friends was bulimic even harder.  I couldn’t understand how she could feel like that about herself.  She was gorgeous and had an amazing gymnast’s body, yet she wasn’t satisfied.  It made me so sad—and still does—that girls and women feel like they should be held to such impossible standards.

It reaches beyond women though, as men are often sexualized in the media, too.  I wish you could all see the tweets on my timeline from when the Calvin Klein underwear ad ran during the Super Bowl…girls objectify guys too, to say the least.  But I remember watching a video in class one time where they went through the Photoshopping of a male model.  They literally relocated his nipples to make his pecs look…better?  That was the goal anyway.  They made his muscles larger, his jawline more defined.  And let me tell you, he was hot to begin with—there was no need (in my eyes) for any of that.  It is ridiculous that the people we look at and think “Wow they look great” are not good enough for the media—they must be poked and prodded with the various tools of Photoshop.

I find it so inspiring when celebrities release their original, un-Photoshopped photos to send the message that there is no “perfection” and that they, too, are normal people with flaws (flaws that wouldn’t even be considered flaws to most of us).  Buzzfeed had a really interesting page of gifs comparing pre- and post-Photoshop pictures.  Check it out.

In addition to Photoshop—the virtual side of things—there is also plastic surgery.  This is where things get a little dicey.  While I agree that there is a problem with the objectification of our bodies, I find that I have become much more accepting of people undergoing cosmetic procedures.  Does this make me wishy-washy?  A hypocrite?  I’m really not sure.

This probably has to do with the fact that I shadow a plastic surgeon, and he is someone for whom I have immense respect.  Yes, he performs breast augmentations and facelifts.  He also does his best to fix the sometimes gaping holes left from skin cancer removal, rebuild breasts (and confidence) following mastectomies, and provide the best care for his patients, whatever their needs may be.  Plastic surgery tends to carry a negative connotation, as people often picture the over-the-top, botched surgeries we see on TV, but it doesn’t have to be this way.  The people I see coming into the office—men and women—see something they don’t like about themselves, and they want to fix it.  They aren’t asking to be “perfect” and they aren’t hoping to look twenty years younger.  I don’t mean to say that I am in favor of everyone going under the knife to fix any and everything, but I certainly don’t hold the same negative feelings towards plastic surgery as I do towards the media’s obsessive use of Photoshop.

I think it has something to do with the media’s objectification of our bodies and the inexorable tie to Photoshop.  Photoshop creates ideals that are impossible.  Plastic surgery can help to change things, but it is never perfect and it doesn’t make that claim.  It is also true that in this part of the country, plastic surgery tends to be less extreme—I’m sure I would feel differently in L.A.

I think what it really comes down to is building confidence in people and making sure that the choices they make about their bodies are well-informed.  There is a difference between wanting to change something about your look and idolizing an unrealistic image of “perfection.”  Understanding that there are so many pictures of beautiful is the first step.  There shouldn’t be a standard for beauty, especially one so unrealistically created by throwing images at us everywhere we turn.  I heard a quote from an anti-bullying video that recently went viral, and it really stuck with me: “If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror.”

I’m curious to see what everyone thinks about all of these issues.  There are definitely a lot of ways to look at these problems and how our society handles them.  What do you think?

Manifesto Madness

When T first introduced the idea of writing a manifesto, the first thing that popped into my head was GRILLED CHEESE!   I can’t explain why, but I immediately started thinking about how to create a Grilled Cheese Manifesto–before she got the chance to say that it needed to be a Why I Write Manifesto.  Buzzkill.  So I decided to write two manifestos, because writing about grilled cheese was that important.  Here they are!

Online Sass: A Rising Problem?

We’ve all seen it—Facebook fights, “subtweets” clogging up our timelines, and hateful YouTube comments.  One place that I didn’t expect to see the claws coming out?  Pinterest.  For those of you unfamiliar with Pinterest, it is kind of like Tumblr, but people “pin” things to a kind of virtual bulletin board.  I use it mostly for fashion ideas, recipes, and interior design stuff that I like.  It’s generally a pretty happy place filled with pictures of puppies and crafts.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed a few angry comments back and forth between Pinterest users, and I have to wonder why.  The inspiration for this blog post can be traced back to a poor little pin of a cupcake recipe that ended up housing a heated fight over vegan diets.  It was far beyond the mere sharing of opinions and had instead turned into a catty mess complete with insults and name-calling.  Why, Pinterest users, why?!

In class we read Andrew Sullivan’s “Why I Blog,” and he mentions the idea that in this new age of technology and blogging, sharing opinions is easier than ever.  He explains, “Now the feedback [is] instant, personal, and brutal.”  It’s interesting to consider why f

eedback has gotten nastier.  Maybe it’s because people can say things behind a computer without ever really being held accountable for their words.  I’m not sure.  Whatever it is, it does seem to be a bit of a problem.

For my Vietnamese class, we had to create a blog and post new entries every week.  My Vietnamese writing was choppy and probably humorous to native Vietnamese speakers, as expected, but I was still fairly proud of what I had managed to get out.  Looking back on my blog one day, I realized that some random guy from Vietnam had commented on my blog post.  I couldn’t fully understand his comment, so my mom helped me translate.  It said something like this: “Your Vietnamese is terrible and sounds very awkward.  You do not sound like a native Vietnamese speaker.”

Well congratulations, you figured me out.  Seeing as it was clearly a blog for a Vietnamese class, it shouldn’t have been too difficult to tell that I don’t speak Vietnamese flawlessly.  I didn’t understand why this guy felt the need to call me out!  I wasn’t making any claims to be a fluent Vietnamese speaker, and I was obviously just a student trying out a new language.  Luckily, it didn’t faze me, and I was able to move on with my life.

Although Pinterest and my Vietnamese blog are mild examples, it does seem that tempers have been flaring online lately.  Comments have gotten mean—even cruel—and it seems that people are very willing to say things online that they wouldn’t dream of saying in real life.  I’m interested in how you feel about confidence (should we call it that?) people seem to have on the internet these days.  Have you noticed any particularly interesting examples?  Or have you yourself been the unfortunate recipient of such an attack?

 

Meow

Melissa Danko has been a wolverine since birth and hails from Ann Arbor (technically, a small town called Saline that is about 12 minutes away).  Maize and blue are two of her favorite colors, and the Big House is one of her favorite places in the world.  She enjoys rather typical hobbies like shopping and hanging out with her friends.  Melissa played piano for 11 years, which explains her love for classical music (but doesn’t explain her love for rap and hip-hop as well.)  She likes to get crafty with the help of possibly the most addicting site ever, Pinterest, and when she feels inspired, she’ll try out a recipe she finds on there as well.  She really, really loves cupcakes and mini things in general.  Melissa is also rather obsessed with cats, and her friends have taken to calling her “Melkitty.”  She is the proud owner of three cat shirts and one actual cat named Milo.  She says “meow” on occasion as well.  Although it would seem that she just wants to be a crazy cat lady, Melissa hopes to be a doctor in some far away time after many more years of schooling, and she is motivated because she likes to take care of people.  Also because she thinks the human body is one of the coolest things ever.  For the time being, she is a biology major/writing minor just trying to survive undergrad.