About cmobrien

I'm a Sophomore here at UPS, from the SF Bay Area. I love to write, read and learn, , as well as anything I can do outside. I am involved on campus with various clubs and activist groups and write for the Trail. When I'm not reading for class (which most of the time I am) I can be found on a yoga mat, writing poetry or on a hike. I caught the travel bug young and love seeing new places.

To the President Elect

Dear President Elect,
We are so excited to meet you in just a few days, and to welcome you to this community. We are excited to work alongside you as Puget Sound grows and evolves.

Before we get acquainted, I thought it might be nice for you to hear a little bit more about the students which it will be your duty to lead so very soon.

So, some things to know about Loggers:

1) Loggers will ask hard questions, sometimes to you.
We want this school to be the best, most inclusive space it can be. We want to be rigorous and supportive, challenging and kind. We will ask you to help us get there. We will work hard, and we will ask the same of you. We cannot and will not stand back in the face of any and all injustice, and we ask that you take our hands and join us in the journey to make Puget Sound–and beyond–an equitable and progressive place.

2) Loggers are passionate, and we will offer our passions to you.
We will open our club meetings, our presentations, our banquets, our concerts to you, and we will sincerely invite you to attend, so that you can see what makes us happy. You’ll see some interesting things, I promise.

3) Loggers love the Pacific Northwest, and we hope you will love it alongside us
We are immeasurably lucky to live in this beautiful place, with our mama mountain high above us and the Sound bookending our city. We love to explore–to hike, backpack, kayak and so much more–and we hope you’ll appreciate our home as much as we do

4) Loggers value our city, and we hope you will engage with it as we do.
Tacoma is fascinating and beautiful and diverse and worth exploring, and we enjoy getting off our campus and being a part of this city. We think you will too, and we hope it will be a part of your work here to bring community members onto campus and vice versa.

We so look forward to meeting you. You’ve got almost 3000 hardworking, smart, engaged students, plus an amazing faculty and staff, looking forward to working alongside you.

See you soon.


A Logger <3

Boycott Driscolls and the Power of Protest

driscollls berries

One thing that we emphasize here at Puget Sound in our course work is Social justice. This is particularly true in the department where I focus, Sociology and Anthropolgy, where discussions of privilege and power relationships are the building blocks of our discipline. But reading about injustice in a book only goes so far, and part of a liberal arts education is acting on what is learned in the classroom to support activism in the wider world. Universities are bubbles, and staying inside them is safe but also silly-and a disservice to those beyond the bubble who need support.

This weekend, Puget Sound students had the opportunity to step outside their own lives and support others by collaborating with Familias Unidas por la Justicia, a farmworkers rights union formed by farmworkers who labor for Sakuma Bros. farms, a corporation that supplies berries for big name brands like Driscolls and Haagen Dazs. Famillas Unidas is a coalition of farmworkers striking for better wages, humane hours, and saner working conditions and encouraging others to boycott Driscolls to force change. Advocates for Detainees’ Voices had the opportunity to bring representatives from Familias Unidas to campus for a panel on Thursday evening, and then we organized a protest on Saturday at the Metropolitcan market to protest the sale of Driscolls berries there despite continued requests from community members to pull the berries from their shelves.

The panel was a truly amazing experience, with Puget Sound students getting to speak with inspiring labor leaders and hear about why they are striking, and what they hope to achieve. As the president of Familias Unidas said, “We aren’t trying to get rich. We just want to live like you all, to live like people.” The bravery and intelligence of the Familias Unidas representatives–and the clarity of their mission–was impactful for me and I am sure for others as well.

Having the chance to take the message that Familias Unidas shared with us in the panel to the streets Saturday morning–to feel that we were doing somehting concrete, small though it was, to fight Driscolls–was affecting for all of us. There is such dynamic energy when a large group of people comes together, especially when they are doing so for a cause they believe in. None of us felt the cold Saturday, and none of us felt our throats becoming raw. Because protest is powerful, and protest is important. We were yelled at by a Met employee and had our fliers handed back to us by a few disgruntled customers, but most people stood with us, cheering for our message and beeping from our cars. So maybe, when they parked those cars and went into the store, they thought about the men, women and children who grow their food, and maybe they bought the other brand of blueberries.

Our protest didn’;t change anything major. It didn’t move mountains or even hills. But I think it shifted a few boulders, and maybe, as Familias Unidas continues to fight for their rights, we’ll see a landslide soon.

Tired and Grateful: Thankful for the Chance to Work Hard

In six days—yes I am counting!—I will be fling home for Thanksgiving, and the season’s got me thinking about what I am grateful for. And what I realized, strange as it may seem, is that I am grateful for the chance I have been given to work my butt off. I have worked harder academically this semester than I think I can ever remember working. I have read hundreds of pages of complex social theory, history and politics. I have had to think deeply and critically every day. It’s been really, really hard.
And I’d like to say thank you for it.
I love to learn. I get a natural high from complex conversations. And this semester I have been given the chance to learn a great deal, and see the connections between things that I never would have before.
One of my courses, the Latin American Travel Seminar on Cuba, is not generally marketed to sophomores. I’s an upper level course usually reserved for juniors and seniors, because it’s such a heavy workload. I begged the professor, who I had for a history class last year, to let me in.
“You’ll have to work hard. Really hard. It will be your hardest class, and probably harder than anything else you’ll have taken here,” he said.
He was right, of course. It dos have more reading than any other class I have ever had here at UPS, but the readings are so interesting I don’t mind. I pause halfway through my readings as I sit in my living room, my favorite yellow highlighter in hand, and read passages out loud o my housemate and best friend, saying, “isn’t that awesome?” She usually says yes and then reminds me that she is studying too and therefore cannot be interrupted to hear about my homework.
This is what college si about, I think. Finding something you are passionate about and giving yourself to it. I love being a student, because my role in society is to explore ideas.
And that is a wonderful gift. Not everyone will receive that gift, and I recognize that I am privileged to be at an institution where I can be challenged, and to have professors who care enough to push me to be a better writer and thinker. All of my professors, not just the Cuba ones, have helped me to grow this semester and given me the personalized attention that I hoped for when I came to UPS. They’ve given m access to books, movies and articles that have broadened my horizons, and then talked to me about those things as I developed thoughts and opinions about them.
I’m so lucky to have that. So this Thanksgiving, among all the other things I will say thank you for, I am going to make sure to send out thanks for the heavy textbooks and the long nights.

I’m a Journalist?

I always identified as a poet. I love the imagery and artistry of crafting careful strings of words to paint a picture. I still do. But now, I do a different kind of writing most of the time–I’ve accidentally become a news writer. Thanks to a friend’s suggestion that I apply for the Trail, I have fallen in love with journalism again.

I carry a bright red notebook with me almost everywhere. In it, I scribble down what’s happenign around me and the words of the people that I interview. When I get home, I pore over the notes I’ve taken, and then I turn those notes into stories, typing like mad. But they are different stories than I am used to writing, because these stories are true. And they’re so very important.

Since I started at the trail, I have covered issues of diversity and inclusion on our campus, financial aid (and when it’s not enough), Take Back the Night, and more. These are things people in this community need to know about, need to take action regarding. These are things I need to know about. By writnig about them, I learn about them.  M interviews are an informal classroom, and I am an eager pupil. I have access to our administration in a way I never would have imagined possible. I have spoken to so many incredibily smart and interesting people just because I told them “I’m a trail reporter, ” and for that, I am grateful.

I wrote for my high school newspaper, but I never called myself a journalist. It was something i did, not something I was. But now, I feel differently. Journalism has given me the chance to be the conduit for stories that need to be heard. I didn’t create them, but I shared them, and shared them with the dignity and the care that they deserve. And that means the world to me. It is a special job, and I am lucky to have it.

I’m still a poet, but today, I’m a journalist too.

Look for my byline in the Trail sometime.

Finding Peace on Mt. Rainier..and other ways to practice Self Love College Style

Last weekend, I went on a PSO day hike in Mt. Rainier national park. I found myself, on the last Saturday of September, which was resplendently sunny and golden-lit, 6,000 feet up and blissfully content.

We took a few moments before hiking back down the trail to meditate and write at the top of the world, and it was the happiest fiteen minutes I had enjoyed in weeks. I wrote a poem about mountains and God. I munched on vanilla almond granola. I felt beauty soak into the pores of my skin. I found peace.

This experience was part of a commitment to myself this semester, to practice self love in my own unique way. I encourage you to do the same, becuase this pact between me and me has made the bad days better and the good days extraordinary.

This does not have to mean taking long baths and buying yourself chocolate. It can, and maybe it does. But for me, self love means more than that. It means seeing as much nature as possible. Trees are a balm for aching souls. it also means sweating as often as I can. This means climbing walls and yoga studios and treadmills. It means putting off homework to go for a run. It means seeing my friends as often and in as many different contexts as I can, whether it’s 1 am on a Saturday night or a quiet Monday morning breakfast.

I also try to love my body by nourishing it. Last night, I went to the cellar with friends, and instead of being tempted by the ice cream, I found myself drawn to the new smoothie menu, particularly (strangely) the avocado one. When my smoothie came, it was creamy and thick and green and delightful. It was a beautiful color, and I wished I could paint my room with that shade. It was just what I needed.

I love my mind, by pushing it hard. This semester, i am working harder than I ever have.I  am reading more than I have ever been asked to read, about things that are complex and deeply challenging. I am thrilled with this.

Loving myself is about finding balance, about caring for all the aspects of my being.

The first few weeks of this semester have been difficult for me, in truth. They have involved a pulled tooth, a nasty cold, and a smattering of stress. But these small moments, these remidners that I need the same care and kindness I offer the world, have brought sunshine to them.

So cheers to mountains, climbing walls, and avocado smoothies.

And thank God it’s the weekend.

Loving It…On the Bad Days

When people ask me how I like my college, I always respond the same way: “I love it.” I am challenged here, cared for here, supported here. I am involved. I am engaged. I am busy.
I am happy.
Most of the time.
But. There are bad days. Bad weeks. There are unexpected challenges, and I find myself breaking into pieces, watching emotion well through the cracks I have splintered in myself.
It is important, in the midst of the college decision season, to tell you, these times happen. I feel a duty to admit this and to embrace it. We cannot feel joy all the time. I miss my mom. My laptop broke. I was worried about registration. I’m stressed about a research project. I’m sick. This week, I am floundering.
But what it is important to recognize, I think, is that even on these days, this is still an incredible community.
It is easy, when walking around Puget Sound’s campus, to be struck with the idyllic beauty of our world. It is easy when one is admitted to colleges to feel as though you are being overwhelmed with impressiveness of the American University Experience. It seems almost to sparkle. Often, I sparkle too, shining in the light of all the things I see and do here. But this is not always how college feels. It is scary sometimes, difficult sometimes. It is a process of being stretched, pulled wider and longer, a process of expanding. And expanding can hurt.
That’s okay. That’s natural. It is no cause for alarm, and in fact I think bad days deserve our attention and our respect too. Because if every day was the best of our lives, how would anything feel special?
I suppose what I am trying to emphasize is that college isn’t about good days. It is about all days. It is about diving in. That means sunny afternoons on the quad that are like something out of a catalog, that glossy, but it also means listening to John Mayor in my dorm room, nursing my heartache. It means having faith in myself, my school and my community. It means waking up again in the morning, to do it all again.


I am cast in Hamlet, one of the Senior Theater Festival’s productions this year. When I got to rehearsal last night, my cast members  gathered, laughing and talking. We stretched, put our bags away, sipped our last sips of water, glanced over highlighted scripts. And then we naturally fell into a circle, expanding for each new member as they arrived.

Then? My favorite part of rehearsal began, a part I think is important.

“Let’s play a game.”

And we did—we pointed  finger guns at each other and squealed when someone was “Shot”. We let go of our inhibitions, and for a moment we forgot to be adults. We were just children—children in a room, pretending.

We forgot our papers and tests and the lines we hadn’t memorized yet and our friends in the outside world and the missed phone calls from our mothers, and we became fully immersed.

I believe in games. I think they are not only fun but very, very valuable.

People often don’t want to play once they reach adulthood, and that is a travesty.  Children play games because children understand the magic of them, the way that people are transformed by the chance to leap into engaging with one another.

We so rarely allow ourselves to just be with others, to do something silly. But silly is not frivolous—silly is necessary. Silly completes us.

So, on this sunny Thursday afternoon, I challenge you, Loggers, to play. Throw a Frisbee, or race, or play hide and seek.

You are adults, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t, today and every day,let yourself be totally free, just for a few moments.

Playing might surprise you.

A Few Things about the Puge I am Excited to Show My Best Friend

My best friend from high school is arriving for a visit tomorrow. Here are just a few of the many many things I can’t wait to show her!

photo (2)

1) The sunset behind Wyatt Hall, shining through the Chihuly glass sculptures.
2) Foggy morning walks across the South Quad
3) Rain against Oppenheimer’s glass walls
4) My colorful dorm room
5) The colorful dorm rooms of all of my friends
6) My friend Aidan’s fantastic audio set up, and the cool lights he was wired to it
7) Coffee in Diversions
8) The trees. So many trees.
9) Sitting in the bright upstairs room of Wheelock, in one of the little alcoves on the side, where three people fit like a puzzle
10) The cellar on Saturday night, when it’s full and the music is loud.
11) Playing music in the Piano Lounge
12) Norton Clapp Theater
13) Point Defiance Park
14) My classes, where discussions are deeper and more intense than I could have ever imagined possible in high school
15) My club meetings, where students are passionate and engaged about their acvitives, and really want to be there
16) Mt. Rainier if we’re lucky!
17) The way a group of people I didn’t know six months ago now know me and love me and make me laugh so hard it hurts—almost every day.

This is just a sample of the magic of the Puge. Hannah—I am beyond excited to share what life at UPS means. AKA—I love you a billion times over , get on the train so we can have a fabulous time together. See you tomorrow with a big sign and a big smile, my dear!

I Remember



I had forgotten what it was like here. Being home for a month had left me distracted by the dog and my best friend and my parents and my little brother’s infectious laugh and my older brother’s eyes twinkling across the dinner table. I had fallen back in love with the Bay Area, and the entire beautiful idea of home.
So I forgot what it was like here.

When I got onto my plane at OAK on Monday, I was tired, and I already missed my mom. My phone was low on battery, and the book I was reading was at a slow, depressing spot. In short, I wasn’t in a great mood. I wasn’t sure I was ready for a second semester. I wasn’t sure I was ready for independence again.

But then.

Then the shuttle pulled up in front of Wheelock, and there, waiting on the sidewalk with grins about to split their faces open, were two of my closest friends here. People who love me. People who laugh with me. People who make me whole. Continue reading

“Can We Get Involved?”

What makes a community great? In our case, I think it is people’s willingness to be invested.

Last night, the Youth Ending Slavery club had a movie showing planned.
We bought the pizzas, downloaded the film, set up the chairs, and prepared to share a movie about the important issue of human trafficking with our fellow students.

And then the trouble started. There were technical issues linking the movie to the projector screen, and while we struggled, we watched as chairs filled with expectant viewers.
We kept hoping if we tried again, or waited a few more minutes, it would work.

Our movie never played properly, but that’ not the important part about this story.

The showing was supposed to begin at 7, and it wasn’t until 730 that we gave up. For a half an hour, a full room of Loggers sat with us, not a single one getting up to leave. And when we told them that we wouldn’t be able to show them the movie, they still stayed. In fact, they raised their hands, and asked us questions like, “How could we contact the club for more information?”, “Could we volunteer?”, and “Will you reschedule? We want to see the movie!” They wrote down their emails, told us that they’d come to protests, events and meetings.

They cared. They want to stay in touch with YES, and that is incredibly heartwarming for all of us. This issue is so important, t but often feels very far away from the comfort of American college life. That just made it even more impactful that our fellow students wanted to share their time with us.

So thank you, to the crowd of you who turned what could have been a completely failed event into a chance for us to give you information about YES and our presence here on campus.  And thank you to all Loggers, for being so willing to try new things.
P.S. Curious about Youth Ending Slavery? Check out the website at: http://www.youthendingslavery.org/ or look at the UPS Youth Ending Slavery Club Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/groups/718630088214059/?ref=br_tf