THE FUTURE is here… and it’s in all caps

I’ve never really had much change in my life. My family has lived in the same house since I was four, and I’ve had the same close group of friends in my hometown since middle school. Even after getting to college, I pretty quickly got into a routine of classes, activities, work, and friends, and none of those things have changed very much in my time here. Even my friend groups haven’t changed that much.

And personally I’m fine with all this. I thrive with routine. And I can deal decently with change… but it usually entails some amount of stress and insomnia and existential crises about my life. Which is why the first few weeks of this summer have been so completely and utterly terrifying.

This has been my first time staying in Tacoma during the summer; I usually go home to soak up time with my family, but now I’m taking a summer class so I can graduate a little early and save some money. And since the moment I made the decision to graduate early, all of the change and stress and terrifying notions of THE FUTURE have been crashing down on me nonstop.

It’s hard to believe that less than three weeks ago, I was still wrapping up finals for my general workload of four classes, still singing with my choir, still working my campus job in the sub, still spending most of my waking life with my best friends. Most of my friends have now scampered off to their various corners of the country, and many of them have graduated, transferred, or will be studying abroad next semester… while I am left here, trying to deal with all the changes:

  1. Wrestling with the fact that most of my best friends are gone and won’t be around next semester,
  2. Starting two new jobs (one with campus facilities and another petsitting for three adorable corgis),
  3. Starting a new psych class, which involves fun things like looking at real human brains,
  4. Moving out of the house I’ve lived in for the past two years (jeez, has it been that long?) and moving in to a shiny new apartment with my roommate,
  5. and oh yeah, preparing to study abroad in July. There’s that.

I have to say, moving has been a really weird process. For one thing, while packing up my room I’ve discovered that apparently I like to buy packs of gum, chew half the gum inside, then forget the rest, buy another pack, and repeat the process. This is something I didn’t know about myself, but it does seem like something I would do.

For another thing, though… Living in the same house as always but not going about my usual lifestyle (class, choir, work, friends), it’s been weird. I think I’m pretty much ready to move out, so I won’t be in this weird in-between place anymore, but it’s terrifying at the same time. My lease ends tomorrow, and I’ll be sort of officially entering my new life as a UPS senior. THE FUTURE is here. And it’s probably looking pretty bright, but I can’t really tell, I’m too busy freaking out and walking dogs.



Hope to see more blog posts here over the summer!

Sooo. Thesis, am I right?

I think, a full two weeks after turning it in, I’m finally prepared to say it–or at least type it: I wrote a thesis.

Nope. It still doesn’t feel real.

I haven’t really had time to slow down and appreciate that the thesis actually happened since the second I handed it in; now that I think about it, I couldn’t even appreciate all the work I was doing while I was toiling over it. But now, scrolling back through that 30-page document, that culmination of all the stress and joy I’ve been through this past semester… It’s very gratifying to just look at that paper and go, Yeah, that was me. I WROTE that. 

A lot of people were surprised to find out I was writing my gender studies thesis in my junior year, since most people do it their senior year. And I guess I’ll never know if it would’ve been better to wait. What I do know, though, is that I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to write my thesis with this amazing class. My thesis classmates not only had fascinating thesis topics, they also were so supportive and kind and gave really wonderful feedback to me. And of course we also had the help of our advisor, the flawless Alison Tracy Hale, who deserves every award and vacation and pay raise and whatever other good things professors get when they’re awesome. You think I’m only saying that because this is being published publicly on the UPS blog, but trust me, I’d say it anyway. She’s that good.

So despite the actual paper not feeling real yet, I can recognize that the experience of writing this thesis with this class was an experience I’m so glad I didn’t miss. I got to work with these amazing classmates on their amazing papers. I got to workshop my thesis at a Lewis & Clark gender studies conference. I got to meet the creators of my main primary sources. I got to present my thesis to literally over a hundred students and faculty who attended our gender studies thesis presentations. Our campus body is so supportive and passionate about gender studies, and it should come as no surprise that my thesis classmates were just as supportive of each other and passionate about each other’s topics. It was a wild ride, and one I’m very glad I didn’t miss.

So basically, my thesis was about queer narratives in Internet storytelling, and how the Internet acts as a platform through which more progressive, accurate queer characters can thrive. The Internet provides a space where artists may produce queer narratives without censorship, so these representations often offer more diversity and complexity than the negative, stereotype-based queer representations that are more common in more mass-consumed fiction.

I looked a lot at how the podcast Welcome to Night Vale and the webcomic The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal represent their queer main characters, and how those representations and storytelling forms influence both queer and non-queer audiences alike. These interactive storytelling platforms allow queer audiences to participate in creating their own narratives, and also work to establish supportive communities online, which is particularly important for queer youth. Plus through certain storytelling forms and narratives, non-queer audiences may even be able to relate to queer characters. (Crazy concept, I know.) This may give non-queer audiences more depth to their understandings of queer experiences.

Both of my main primary sources focus on interracial relationships between cisgender men, but there are a variety of Internet stories that feature queer women and trans* people. I just chose to look at these two similar narratives to more closely examine the storytelling form and the influence of the Internet as a platform on these representations and their reception. I guess if you’re interested in reading the whole paper, the finalized version is here, I put it on google docs so my family could read it… but be warned, it’s a looong read. As amazing as the experience of writing it was… it’s even more amazing to have it just be done. 

“Shake the dust.”

Last week ASUPS Cultural Events had a brilliant spoken word poet, Anis Mojgani, come to visit our campus and perform some poetry. This guy is a two-time National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, so just being able to have him here was really an incredible experience–but not only that, my poetry class got the opportunity to speak with him for awhile while he visited our class on Thursday.

We got to hear all about his life and career and have some really interesting discussions with him about poetry writing. He had some really great advice about writing and publishing as well–and a lot of it was really poignant and relevant to what I’ve been struggling with lately. I just wanted to share a little bit of his writing wisdom; I was jotting down some notes while he was talking, and I didn’t get his exact wording, but here’s the gist of what he said when asked about how to deal with writer’s block:

“I really recommend getting into a routine, finding what works best for you and your writing, and stick to that routine. Know when to push yourself. Make writing a present part of your existence. Make it like a friend you spend a good amount of time with every day. Don’t make it like a friend you bump into once every couple of months, or someone you wave to when you see them around, because then when you sit down with them you don’t really know what to talk about. Make writing a present part of your life and of who you are.”

-Anis Mojgani

Ah, I can almost taste the summer…

Beautiful days like today make me yearn for the days of summer ahead. The days when I’ll be… still here on campus, taking a summer class.

I’m finishing up my junior year in a few weeks, but due to AP and activity credits, I only need to complete five more units before I can graduate. I figured it would be, er… more financially efficient, shall we say… to graduate a semester early. Which is why this summer, as soon as finals are over, I’m going to start right up again with a summer course (before potentially going abroad for part of the summer. More news on that to come).

I’m legitimately excited to still be around here this summer. I’ve never gotten to stay up in Washington for the summer, and there are a few things I’m looking forward to:

  • The beauteous sunny weather you don’t get to experience much during the school year.
  • Walking around campus barefoot without your feet getting wet.
  • Experiencing summer weather that isn’t so sweltering hot that you can’t go running at any time when the sun is above the horizon. (Washingtonians say 80 degrees is hot, but don’t listen to them.)
  • Getting to hang out around here while only taking one class. (Though it is one entire course crammed into six weeks, it’s still got to be more relaxing than a regular semester of 4+ courses, right?)
  • Adventures and fun with local friends and roommates
  • And maybe, just maybe, getting to experience the glory of the newly-remodeled dining hall a little earlier than everyone else.

On that note, the SUB isn’t keeping student workers on for the summer due to the remodeling… So if anyone knows of a place, on campus or off, who would be willing to hire someone for the first half of the summer, you should contact me. If I’m going to go abroad, I’ll need to work for it.

Hail poetry

This semester I’m in Prof. Kupinse’s advanced poetry writing class—which feels weird to say, because I don’t feel like my poetry skills are particularly “advanced,” even though I guess I’ve written and studied quite a lot of poetry in my time here. We’ve done a lot of really interesting and fun work in this class, and recently our class got to showcase a little of our work in a poetry reading. We gathered at the Metronome Café a few blocks from campus, and everybody read two or three of the poems they’d written and workshopped in this class.

Here are a few photos from the evening:

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The turnout was really incredible; lots of friends and family members showed up to hear the reading and everyone was so supportive of the readers. I have to admit, this reading was something that I’d been somewhat nervous about for awhile—partially because I really dislike public speaking, and partially because I don’t particularly enjoy sharing my writing, especially not with large groups of strangers. (Even workshopping my poems among friendly classmates can be stressful enough for me!) But this reading was truly a relaxed and supportive environment, and a really great way to share some of the work we’ve done in this class. I was actually really surprised and touched when someone approached me after the reading to say that one of my poems had really hit home for them. When I have to share my writing with people, I generally expect to be met with nothing but criticism, but in this reading we were met with nothing but support.

Besides that, hearing my classmates read some of the works that they’ve tweaked, rewritten, and perfected over the semester was just really rewarding and fun… plus at the end we got to hear an original piece from a seven-year-old poet, which made the whole experience extra awesome.

One time I met the creative geniuses behind my thesis. No big deal.

A few weeks back was the Emerald City ComicCon in Seattle, which is typically one of the highlights of my year. I’ve gone every year since I’ve moved up to Washington for school, but this year it was especially exciting, because of a few of the people attending just so happened to be the people whose creative work has recently had a huge influence on both my life and my academic work.

I’ve been working on my gender studies thesis this semester, and I’ve been focusing on queer narratives in Internet storytelling (like video webseries, podcasts, and webcomics). My two main primary sources are the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, and the webcomic The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and AmalBoth of these are really fantastic stories with queer main characters, so all semester, I’ve been analyzing these stories and their impacts on their audiences, falling totally in love with the characters and the storytelling…

And then Emerald City ComicCon happened, and the writers of Welcome to Night Vale AND the artist of Less Than Epic Adventures were all there.

Basically… I got to meet the creators of my thesis primary sources.


First me with the Welcome to Night Vale crew. Left to right: Jeffrey Cranor (writer), Joseph Fink (writer and producer), myself, and Cecil Baldwin (voice of the podcast)


Second, me with E.K. Weaver, the artist and creator of The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal. 

I told all of them about my thesis, and tried not to geek out too badly about meeting them, but the fact is, both of these stories are really incredible works with wonderful characters, and I absolutely love how influential they have been for queer audiences and straight audiences alike. Looking at these stories so closely through my thesis has given me such a huge appreciation for the creative geniuses behind them, and getting to meet those people, even briefly, was such an amazing experience. They were all so gracious and seemed legitimately excited that I’ve been drawing so much of my thesis from their work.

Now I just have to make sure my thesis does them justice… but that shouldn’t be too hard, right? Talking for 25+ pages about these awesome stories and queer characters that I love a lot? Piece of cake.

(Check out the podcast at, and the webcomic at They’re both really wonderful and worth checking out.)


Adelphian Tour 2014 (alternate title, Everything Is Awesome)

Today I finally got home for spring break, after spending four wonderful days traveling around the great state of Washington with the Adelphian Concert Choir. I. Am. Exhausted. (And possibly starting to get sick… I’m amazed I managed to dodge the tour bug as long as I did.) But it was a freaking blast.

Some of the best experiences of tour, in no particular order:

-The homestays. We had some amazing UPS alumni and Adelphian friends volunteer to house us for the nights we stayed in Walla Walla and Spokane, and these people were seriously amazing. In Spokane I got to stay in a beautiful house that had been transformed into a bed and breakfast, where I got the best night of sleep I’ve had in a long time. Then in Walla Walla, I stayed with five other Adelphians in a lovely home where we were provided with Oreos, tea, cuddly  dogs, comfy beds, a giant walk-in shower, and biscuits and bacon for breakfast. My homestays were so awesome that at first I kind of felt bad for Adelphians who had been housed at other places, but then I heard about homestays where there were cinnamon rolls for breakfast and pet chinchillas to cuddle. From what I heard, all the homestays were just as awesome.

-We had all brought our swimsuits so we could hang out in the hot tub at the hotel in Wenatchee, but when we arrived we found that the hot tub was, in fact, a cold tub. But did that stop us? Nay! After some initial disappointment, we said “screw it” and went swimming in the pool instead, and probably kept the entire hotel awake. (At least, until 11:30 when we were kicked out for being too loud.)

-Getting to know my choir buddies so much better. We got a lot of quality time together, especially on the bus. There was one really exciting leg of our journey where we played this great bus ride game: the people on the aisles would move from seat to seat, and our tour manager (the amazing Aaron Altabet) would ask a super creative questions to get some conversation going, and we spend would a few minutes getting to know our seat buddies. Probably my favorite question was, “If you could have lunch with a UPS professor, a famous person, and a fellow Adelphian, who would you pick?” (It’s a tough one, but I’d have to go with Mita Mahato, J.K. Rowling, and Daniel Wolfert. I just have a hunch we’d have some of the most amazing conversations about Harry Potter.)

-The food in Leavenworth. I mean, Leavenworth in general was pretty awesome, but the food, oh my. They had an entire shop devoted to cheese, and there was salt water taffy in basically every store, and for lunch I got to split French onion soup and German macaroni with a fellow Adelph. It was the absolute best.

-Meeting Adelphian alumni after our concerts. We had a concert every night of tour, and after almost every one, an alumnus or two would join us afterwards for our usual post-concert song. We met recent alumni as well as some from the seventies and eighties, maybe even a couple from the fifties and sixties, and they all joined in as though they’d been in Adelphians yesterday. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how long this group has been around, and meeting these alumni and hearing their stories was so much fun. For serious, I feel so honored to be part of this group.

-Dr. Zopfi wearing this hat:


I’ve got road trips, I’ve got gender studies… I’ve got my thesis, who could ask for anything more?


On Friday, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Gender Studies Symposium at Lewis & Clark College with the rest of Prof. Alison Tracy Hale’s gender studies thesis class, and man was it fun.

I must admit, when Alison first told us about this conference and broached the topic of making a class field trip out of it, the most appealing-sounding thing about it was the chance to get off campus and go on a road trip. I’m a huge fan of road trips, whether I’m by myself or with other people; and if you’re like me, enduring week after week of a long semester can sometimes culminate in a case of cabin fever. (Or I guess, campus fever.) I love UPS but I get these cravings to hop in a car and go somewhere new, and going to Lewis & Clark seemed like a decent opportunity to do so in the middle of the semester… even if it did have the downsides of preparing a presentation about my thesis paper, and attending a thesis workshop with a bunch of strangers. (Those parts sounded a whole lot less appealing.)

But when I got there, the entire experience was so fun and laid-back, I had way more fun than I’d anticipated. By the end of the day I was bummed that I’d only had such a short window to visit the conference. We got to get some vitamin D in the Portland sunshine, hang out Lewis & Clark’s campus (which is almost as pretty as ours), attend some really fun gender-related panels, and meet awesome gender studies students from Lewis & Clark and Willamette and workshop their thesis projects.

I stopped in on a panel about masculinity in rural communities, and another about intersections of gender and disability issues, both of which were fascinating and had some amazing speakers. But my favorite part of the conference was our thesis workshop with the students from other universities. While most of us in the workshop were from UPS, the other students we did meet were really great to work with. They had really useful and thoughtful feedback on everybody’s projects, and had amazing thesis topics themselves. One of the girls in my group was studying media rhetoric surrounding Justin Bieber, and another was analyzing drag culture in Salem. (My topic seems so boring after hearing about theirs, I’ll have to find a way to spice it up… Maybe if I had more primary sources with drag queens. Drag queens are awesome.)

I just love whenever I have the opportunity to hang out with people who are just as interested in gender studies as I am. Or even getting to hear them speak at a panel for a few minutes. Gender studies is such an amazing and multi-faceted academic playground, it’s hard to get tired of talking about it. Sadly, by the mid-afternoon I had to speed back to campus to be in a choir concert, instead of hanging around and attending more panels, but I’m hoping I can go back next year and maybe present on my thesis once it’s finished.

In conclusion, Lewis & Clark Gender Studies Symposium: 10/10, would recommend. You should go. Or, if you haven’t taken any gender studies classes yet, take one. If you get the chance to have any conversations like the ones I had at Lewis & Clark on Friday, I guarantee it will be worth it.

That’s a moray!

This post may be a little unlike the typical blog activity here, but I just thought this would be worth sharing.

A couple weeks ago, some friends of mine introduced me to the Katsuyuki Moray blog. It’s basically just this adorable blog that documents the worldwide travels of an eel plushie named Katsuyuki. Lately, Katsuyuki has been trying out new professions in Washington state, and he decided to visit our campus to see the sights. My friend Carrie invited the lovely person who runs the Katsuyuki blog to UPS, and then spent a day showing her (and Katsuyuki) around campus.

Katsuyuki tried his hand at being a librarian in Collins:


And then he tried out being a radio DJ at KUPS:


He even tried to pass as an average logger:



I think the look suits him, personally.

You can see these pics, as well as many more of Katsuyuki exploring our campus, at He certainly seemed to enjoy his stay!



So, how ’bout that snow?

It has come to my attention over the past few days that:

  2. It does not snow nearly often enough here.
  3. When it does, the experience is far too fleeting.

For weeks, my friends and relatives in Oregon, northern California, and even Texas (seriously, Texas), have been celebrating their snow days on Facebook, and demanding, “Has it snowed in Washington yet?” But despite the frigid cold, for weeks there was not a flake to be seen here. I started to resent receiving snapchats of friends with their snowmen and snow forts, when all I had to occupy my time was my job, my choir memorization, and my already-stressful gender studies thesis.

And then Saturday night happened, and everything was beautiful.

It started snowing around eight in the evening, but my friends and I waited inside until the flakes were coming down fast and the snow was already a couple inches thick on the ground, and then we traipsed outside to play in it. And god, was it fun. We threw snowballs and made snow angels and re-enacted scenes from Frozen acted like the adults we are. And I only slipped and fell on my butt like, twice.

It’s really amazing how just a couple hours of snowfall can transform this whole campus into something new, and get people so excited about life. Sometimes, when you’re here day in and day out, enduring the trials of everyday college-student life, the beauty of this campus can lose some of its shine–can even get a little mundane. And then when something like a snow day–or even a snow night–happens, it sort of reinvigorates everything that’s great about UPS. This campus is awesome, and the people here know how to have a good time.

Okay, so despite singing “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman” a few dozen times while out playing (to the great annoyance of my friends), I didn’t actually get to build any snowmen. But on campus today, outlasting the rest of the fast-melting snow, I spotted some really great snowmen that my fellow students have built. One of my favorites is the sleeping Pokemon between Jones and the music building (go get a look at it before it melts, it’s too cute). But my absolute favorite has to be the snowman out back of the Tea House on Theme Row. It’s Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender, complete with a cup of tea.