My 2014 Highlights

Man, what a year. This has probably been the most eventful and exciting year of my life. I feel that I’ve grown and accomplished so much in 2014, and what kind of person would I be if I didn’t boast about my experiences a little bit?

Here are some of my highlights of 2014, in mostly chronological order:

1) The snow day on campus, almost a year ago now. I had such a fun evening playing in it, and my dear friends in the tea house built a snow Iroh from Avatar the Last Airbender.iroh

2) Going to Emerald City ComicCon and meeting the creative geniuses who wrote my thesis primaries: E.K. Weaver (the artist of The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal), and Jeffrey Cranor, Joseph Fink, and Cecil Baldwin, the creators of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. 

IMG_2445 wtnv

3) On the subject of the thesis… I wrote a freaking thesis. It was a pretty incredible and exhausting experience, and I was very proud of the outcome.

4) My best friend Lexie’s visit to UPS in April. We blew off class and went to the Seattle Aquarium and the EMP… and ate too many doughnuts.

lexie 2lexie 1

4) My trip to the UK on University of Oregon’s Fantasy on the Fringe program. I had never travelled outside the United States before this year, and I was pretty terrified, but this program was an absolutely incredible first foray into international travel. I cannot describe what an incredible experience this was.

tintern tea ruinshogwarts hpiuk socks

5) The Race & Pedagogy National Conference in September, where I presented a paper and took part in a panel. I feel so lucky that I even got to attend that conference, let alone take part in it in any way.

6) Halloween… Well, I think this photo just about sums up my Halloween: the eye of drewbert

6) My mother and sister visiting me and seeing my holiday choir concert. We had a blast.

space needle amy

7) And, finally… I graduated college. I finished up all my classes, and I am officially done with the academics of undergrad. That’s kind of a big deal… and after a full twelve months of continuously being in school of some kind or another, it is a huge relief.

Wishing everyone the best in 2015!

2015: The Year of Adulthood. (Well, let’s hope.)

2014 was a huge year for me (there’s probably another blog post about that to come), and I’m pretty sure 2015 is going to be even huger. This coming semester will be my last few months hanging around UPS, and after that… well, right now I honestly don’t know what I’m doing. Taking my first few steps into post-college adult life, hopefully. Which is, as you would imagine, both incredibly exciting and extremely terrifying.

So I’ve already got a few new year’s resolutions in mind for 2015, which will hopefully get a big year off to a good start:

  1. Try more things you’ve never done before. Even if it’s just once. Life is short, and it would be a terrible shame to miss out on something that might end up being awesome and life-changing.
  2. Keep in better contact with people you’re far away from. We’re blessed to live in an era when staying in contact is so easy. Make more phone calls, send more texts, snapchats, wall posts, whatever. (Sending snail mail isn’t a bad idea either, especially for someone’s birthday or another special occasion.)
  3. Apply to more jobs, even if it seems like you don’t fit all the qualifications. You never know, it could turn out to be perfect, and just the kind of experience/challenge that will benefit you later on.
  4. Be more of an adult. For me right now, that means staying on top of the little things I’m usually too lazy to do: doing laundry more often, taking vitamins more often, staying caught up on the news, getting my car’s oil changed before it’s overdue, etc.
  5. Be more openminded. Terrible things are happening in the world right now… actually, terrible things are pretty much always happening, but people are starting to talk about it more and more. To avoid making things even worse, it’s important to enter heavy conversations with two things in mind: A) It’s very likely that someone in this conversation knows more about the situation than you do. And, B) It’s very likely that someone in this conversation has little to no knowledge about the situation at all, and their views are likely a product of the corruption in our society. Jumping down their throat about it probably will not help. Educating them with kindness probably will.

I’d be interested in hearing my fellow (b)loggers’ resolutions, if anybody has any blog posts left to cram into the semester, like me 😉 Happy New Year, everybody!

Songs for Seniors

Here are ten songs from my current playlist that hit me right in my senior-year heart.

(It probably says something about me that I tend to relate love songs to my relationship with my school.)

1) Ramble On – Led Zeppelin

Leaves are fallin’ all around,
Time I was on my way.
Thanks to you, I’m much obliged,
Such a pleasant stay.

2) Promise to the Moon – Jason Webley

I’m ready now
To let myself change colors with the leaves
And let the wind come shake me down.

3) I’m Letting Go – Josh Woodward

I’ve been waitin on a free ride ticket
To a seaside thicket
On the edge of Puget Sound.

4) Brothers on a Hotel Bed – Death Cab for Cutie

You may tire of me,
As our December sun is setting,
‘Cause I’m not who I used to be.

5) Cups – Anna Kendrick

You’re gonna miss me by my hair, you’re gonna miss me everywhere,
Oh you’re sure gonna miss me when I’m gone.

6) Love Love Love – The Mountain Goats

Some things you do for money, and some you do for fun,
But the things you do for love are gonna come back to you, one by one.

7) Balloons – Julia Nunes

It’s time to leave while my eyes are still dry.
It’s time to leave while my head is held high….
You’re like nothing I have found or will find.

8) Ways To Go – Grouplove

Been working like a dog, I turned all my dreams off.
I didn’t know my name, I didn’t know my name.
I’ve got a little bit longer, I’ve got a ways to go.

9) I’ll Fly Away – Alison Krauss / Gillian Welch

Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away…
I’ll fly away, fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away in the morning.

10) At Least It Was Here – The 88

Give me some rope, tie me to dream.
Give me the hope to run out of steam.
Somebody said, it could be here.
We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year.
But I love you more than words can say.
I can’t count the reasons I should stay.
One by one they all just fade away,
But I love you more than words can say.

Five Things For White People To Keep In Mind

There have been several great posts on this blog about the current events surrounding Ferguson and the Eric Garner case in New York. As a white person, I’m not qualified to talk about how these issues affect people, but there is no question that these issues are important, and discussing these events respectfully and informatively is important.

A few weeks ago, after the Grand Jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the murder of Mike Brown, I wrote the following on the Wetlands blog, in response to some recent conversations I’ve had with other white people about racism in this country.


In light of the recent events in Ferguson (learn more about that here and here) and the growing awareness of police violence against people of color, there have been a lot of racially-charged discussions cropping up lately. These issues are extremely important to talk about, and I think it’s important for white people, like myself, to keep a few things in mind.

Understand that you have white privilege.

If you don’t know what white privilege is, please read up on it here. If you’re white, you have white privilege. You may be unprivileged in other ways, such as being poor, or queer, or disabled, but you still have white privilege. You are less likely to be killed by a cop for your appearance or for holding a toy gun. You are privileged. This issue does not affect you the way it affects people of color.

Do not silence people of color.

Their voices are more important than yours in this discussion. When talking about these current events, especially in a public forum like the Internet, promote what people of color say and use the white privilege you have to spread the word. Do not try to make it about you, or your feelings, or your perspective. Trust that they understand the issue more than you do.

Know the facts.

Read up about the situation as much as you can, and do not simply trust the media. Most postmodern news networks’ methods of reporting are more focused on opinions than facts, which lead to some pretty unreliable news reporting. Thankfully, with the Internet at our disposal, we can hear straight from the protestors themselves, not just from the police and the media. Watch videos and read tweets from the protests to stay informed about what’s going on. YouTube and Vine have been taking down videos of the protests, so watch the available videos and spread them while you can.

Understand how indictment works.

I’ve heard a lot of people argue that the decision on Monday was a result of a trial, where the jury was presented with all the facts, but it was not a trial. It was a decision to see if there should be a trial. The decision was extremely corrupt to say the least.

Read up on the decision process here.

Read the Grand Jury transcripts here.

Don’t get angry that people are angry.

This is not about you. People may seem very accusatory if you don’t know much about the situation, or if you haven’t had the time or emotional energy to stay involved. But you need to keep in mind you are not being attacked; people just want you to care because it is important to them.

Don’t get mad at people for being invested in this. Don’t say people are accusing you of being a racist if you don’t know everything about the situation. And please don’t use their extremely justified anger as an excuse to hate everyone involved in the protests. These people’s passion is not the problem. Your feelings are not the priority. This is not about you.

Don’t use your voice to drown out the experiences of people of color. Use your voice to help.

So Mel, how does it feel to be in your last week of undergrad?

concert space needlelunch

My mom and sister came to visit this past weekend to see my choir concerts. This is the first time they’ve been able to attend any of my concerts since I’ve gotten to UPS, so naturally I was over the moon that they could come. (I kind of blew off studying all weekend to hang out with them and do stuff in Seattle.) I’m so glad they got to come, and I wouldn’t have traded this weekend for the world… but now that they’re gone again, I am more eager for the semester to be over than ever, so I can go home and be done.

I thought, by this last week of my last semester as an undergraduate student, I would be filled with nostalgia, not wanting to let go of this experience and not feeling prepared to leave. And while I’m not really leaving (I’m still going to be in Tacoma after the holidays and participating in Adelphians for awhile), it’s still a big change, to be done with undergrad.

Being a senior is this really uncomfortable mix of feeling very ready to move on, and feeling nostalgic for the times when you weren’t ready to move on.

I’m ready to not have classes or schoolwork anymore. I’ve been in school pretty much continuously since January of this year, and I am really burned out. I’m ready for a few weeks of break from working, but I’m not ready to say goodbye to being a student at UPS. I’m not ready to be far away from so many of my friends here, after everyone leaves in May. And I sure wasn’t prepared to have our last class with Dr. Zopfi yesterday, since he is going on sabbatical and won’t be directing the Adelphians next semester.

It’s weird to think that, even though I’m still going to be around for awhile, my experience with undergrad is a thing that’s behind me. It’s tough to be appreciative of school during finals and all, but when I think about the past few years, I feel really lucky that I’ve been here and that I’ve gotten to have the experiences I’ve had.

The Balance of the Universe, or something

Sometimes things just happen that make me wonder if there really is some sort of balance in the universe that we all must adhere to.

I’ve been really lucky during my past three years here, in that I’ve almost never gotten sick during school. I’ve gotten sick during a couple school breaks, sure; and my freshman year I got sick during reading period, but I was pretty much better by finals. Other than that, it’s been smooth sailing… up until this semester. It’s my last real semester at UPS, and I’ve caught the common cold three times in one semester. (I shudder to think what would’ve happened if I hadn’t gotten a flu shot in September.)

And I can’t help but wonder if the universe is trying to make up for all the time I’ve spent not being sick. Like I need to fill up my common cold quota, and deal with the same amount of viruses that other people have had to deal with, or something. I was talking to a friend earlier tonight who said that something similar has happened to her: for her first three years here, she has never had to pull an all-nighter, but this fall, she suddenly had to pull four of them in one semester. It’s like we as seniors suddenly have to pay our dues to ensure the balance of life.

I certainly don’t know what this means, but I know I’m pretty bummed that I have a cold right now. The Adelphians winter concert is coming up this weekend (in Kilworth Chapel, Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2:30pm!), and my mom and my sister are coming up to see it. And while I’m extremely excited that they’re going to be there for this concert, and while I’ve been loving our rehearsals and holiday songs as much as I always do… I’m probably going to be struggling not to cough my whole way through the concert this weekend, which is super annoying. Here’s to guzzling tea and honey!

The 4 Thanksgivings You Get In Your College Years

No doubt about it, college is a weird time. Celebrating the holidays gets even more complicated when you’re suddenly living away from home and trying to struggle your way through to the end of the semester. Around Thanksgiving especially, the holidays start to take on a variety of new and strange forms.

1. The Attempt at Normal Thanksgiving.

Maybe you live close enough to school that you can drive home or take the train. Maybe you snagged a cheap plane ticket, or saved up for the expensive holiday traveling prices. Or maybe your family is just really eager to have you at home, so they paid for it. Regardless, you manage to come home for the holiday.

You warn your family that you’ll need time to focus on homework and study for that exam that’s coming up Monday, but when you get home, somehow the time just gets away from you. You find yourself doing little but sleep, eat, drink, and watch TV with your family… maybe a little Black Friday shopping as well. Just when you’re about to get started on the homework, your best friend or significant other shows up at your door and you end up catching up for hours and going to see Big Hero 6… and by the time you arrive back at school on Monday, the remaining week and a half of class seems like an eternity. How can you possibly go back to this after that fleeting taste of freedom?

And then, at the other end of the spectrum, there’s…

2. Do Absolutely Nothing. 

This was the kind of Thanksgiving I had last year, and it’s kind of a downer. Your family’s tight on money, so you stay on campus, hanging out with the two remaining friends who couldn’t go anywhere either. You maybe struggle a little with having to cook all your own meals since the dining hall is closed. You actually do some homework, and marathon a season of a new TV show, and if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, you replenish your word count. Your family calls you or FaceTimes you from the dinner table, and you get passed from person to person to wish them each a happy Thanksgiving… and when you hang up, you go back to the quiet boring life of Doing Absolutely Nothing.

The break seems to last forever, and by the time classes start again, you’re almost relieved because you’re closer to the end.

3. Fakesgiving. 

Also known as “Dranksgiving.” In this delightful case, enough of your friends are staying on campus that you can have a party and put together something resembling a Thanksgiving dinner… but let’s be real, the main courses probably consist of alcohol. The turkey is dinosaur chicken nuggets, the mashed potatoes are of the powdered variety, and somebody brought strawberry jam in lieu of cranberries. And there’s probably more kinds of pie than real foods. But the quality of food doesn’t matter… in reality, this Thanksgiving is probably a lot less dramatic and more fun than a real Thanksgiving at home would be. Instead of dealing with racist relatives, you play drinking games and get some quality time with your friends.

4. Friendsgiving. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to have Friendsgiving this year. This is where your significant other or one of your friends invites you to their place for the break, and their family is kind enough to host you. You try to repay them for their hospitality by helping with the cooking and dishes, but usually they’re too nice to accept your help… and you don’t know where anything in the kitchen is anyway. So you probably end up playing board games with your friend and their siblings, while the rest of the family watches the football game.

You and your friends stay up talking until 4 am and get teased for waking up past noon, you stomach a couple of hours of Black Friday shopping, you have hours-long phone conversations with your friends who are home… and again, though you halfheartedly swore you’d catch up on schoolwork and do tons of studying over the break, you don’t do any of it.

Such is Thanksgiving in college.

Attention all creative types!

Submission deadlines are fast approaching for Crosscurrents and Wetlands, two really awesome creative magazines on campus. Both of them accept all kinds of creative submissions: art, poetry, prose, whatever. So if you have anything to submit, now is the time.

I’ve really loved being involved with both Crosscurrents and Wetlands over the past couple years, and submitting your creative stuff for publication is a really great way to practice putting your work out there, for all the world to see. Plus, if you do get published (which you very well might! You never know just how good your submission might be!), it’s a great thing to put on your resumé. I know I’ve been working on my resumé for the past couple of days because the Career Fair is coming up tomorrow, and for some reason, I feel like having it on my resumé that I’ve published poetry in CCR and Wetlands just makes me look a teeny bit cooler. We’ll see if my potential employers agree. 😉

The Wetlands deadline is November 1 (coming up really soon!), so if you have any great creative works pertaining to gender, sexuality, race, intersectionality, feminism, all that jazz, submit away! Submissions can be sent to, and you can peruse the UPS Wetlands blog / browse previous issues here. The Crosscurrents deadline is November 7, and they accept submissions on any topic. Submissions can be emailed to 

Hope you all are having a great week!

How ’bout that Race and Pedagogy conference?

I felt sure that by this point someone must have already written a blog post about the Race and Pedagogy National Conference that happened at UPS a few weeks ago, but I think I’m the first!

I’ve been excited to blog about this, even though I know I can’t write a blog post that will do the conference justice. When I first came to this school–actually, for my first couple years of attending here–I didn’t know about the Race and Pedagogy National Conference, or that my school was so involved in something so great. I also didn’t know much about racial issues in general, being a very white person from a very white town. I’ve learned a fair amount about race at UPS, but with this conference happening, getting to hear so many awesome speakers discuss these issues and share their work on race and pedagogy, I feel like I learned so much more in the space of one weekend.

So first, for those who didn’t get to attend–The Race and Pedagogy National Conference is a conference that UPS hosts every four years, focusing on issues of race and its impacts on education. For one weekend every four years, UPS brings in a couple thousand guests to attend the conference; tons of speeches, panels, and performances, all discussing issues of race and education, are all crammed in to the space of three days. The campus community gets really involved too, and it’s basically just a lot of fun.

I actually had the privilege of being involved in a couple of events on the Friday of the conference. First, I was part of a panel with a few of my classmates, discussing race and the literary genre of the short story cycle. We presented papers we had written on the topic, and then spent some time discussing the common themes from our papers and how the genre works with racial issues. I was extremely nervous, because I’d never presented a paper for anything before, or been on a panel of any kind, but it went very well. (Aaand it definitely helped that our audience was mostly students and faculty from the UPS English department crowd. It’s nice to have familiar faces in the audience.)

And then immediately after that, the Adelphians were singing a couple pieces to open for Henry Louis Gates Jr, one of the keynote speakers of the conference. So I dashed over to the Fieldhouse to sing with my choir mates, before sitting and listening to Gates’s incredible talk on genealogy, race, and his work on documentary TV shows such as Roots and African American Lives. He was such a great speaker, eloquently tackling so many topics and telling so many great stories with humor and ease. Since I had just presented a paper to a very small crowd, I was in total awe of how at ease Gates was in front of a massive audience, for a presentation that lasted almost two hours.

I unfortunately didn’t get to see any of the other keynote speakers, but videos of Winona LaDuke’s and Eduardo Bonilla Silva’s events can be streamed here. They’re definitely worth watching. I did attend a number of smaller events, including a spoken word poetry performance, which was probably my favorite event of the conference. There were six incredible poets, performing their intense and moving work–and even a few members of the audience came up at the end to share their own poetry. It was a really awesome evening–and a really awesome weekend.

During the conference I kept being struck by how proud I am of my school. It’s just really strange and wonderful to watch all these droves of people come to your campus, and hear all these important issues being discussed–in large groups, in the classrooms and concert halls you frequent, with the students and faculty you’ve come to know well and love over the years. I’m so glad UPS is involved in making something like this conference happen, and I know I’m going to try and come back for the next one in four years.

Fantasy on the Fringe: UK Summer Abroad Program

Howdy, loggers! It’s been awhile since I’ve written a new post on this blog, so I figured it was high time I made a few posts about what I’ve been up to since we last spoke.

First of all, my summer study abroad… Wow, I don’t know where to start.

This summer I went on a month-long study abroad program to London and Edinburgh. I was accepted to University of Oregon’s Fantasy on the Fringe program, which focuses on fantasy writing, folklore, British culture, festivals, gender studies, and Harry Potter… so it was basically all of my favorite things wrapped up into one huge month-long festival-attending extravaganza in the UK. I had never travelled outside of the United States before, and I was so incredibly nervous, I really did not know what to expect. But as soon as I got there, I was having such a blast, all apprehension just melted away. The UK and the Fantasy on the Fringe program were everything I’d hoped they would be.

So, top five favorite experiences of study abroad, here we go:

1. Seeing Julius Caesar at the Globe Theater, with rain pouring down on me and standing in a two-inch-deep puddle of water.


2. Our day trip to Chepstow, visiting Chepstow Castle and Tintern Abbey, the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

IMG_3140 IMG_3159

3. The Harry Potter studio tour. Enough said.


4. Seeing the Three Standing Stones near St. Andrews in Scotland. They were built around the same time as Stonehenge, but these ones you can actually walk up to and touch.


5. Edinburgh in the evening. Just look at how gorgeous this place is.


There was so much other incredible stuff I got to do, and I obviously can’t go into the details of it all here, but if you’d like to read more about it, my study abroad blog is linked here. I’m really blown away that I got to have this experience, and I’d really recommend this program to anybody.