First of all, a huge thank you, No Friend As Loyal, for the nomination! Somehow, I always tend to forget that in posting my private thoughts on the Internet, there’s some remote possibility that others invest time in reading them. I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed reading my posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them! I’m also extremely gratified to learn that I’m versatile (who knew?!). Here’s to keepin’ it fresh…
For those of you who are unacquainted with the wonderful world of blogging awards (myself included, until very recently), a particularly resourceful human being has compiled all relevant information and protocol into its very own nifty Versatile Blogger site. Here are the basic rules:
- Display the award certificate on your blog.
- Write a post linking back to the blogger who nominated you, and share 7 things about yourself.
- Nominate 15 other bloggers.
- Inform them of their nomination with a comment on their blog.
In the spirit of the award’s celebration of multi-faceted interest (and my complete inability to compile seven random and compelling facts about myself), I’ve decided to take this as an opportunity to reflect on some of the different labels I’ve acquired over my lifetime by listing seven, seemingly insignificant moments which shaped who I am today. Human beings are never just one thing, but too often, for the sake of simplified social interaction or some warped brand of acceptance, we exchange one disguise after the next- we dress for success, so to speak. One of the most rewarding things about maintaining this blog has been the ability to juxtapose, compile, and reconcile the far-flung corners of my experiences and curiosities.
1) Fiction Addict: I honestly can’t remember the first time I picked up a book or even the first time that a book changed me. I can’t remember the exact moment when my enjoyment became a passion, the moment when my idle habit became a compulsive need. However, I distinctly recall the exact moment when I realized words had power. I was ten; My mother had just refused to purchase Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, my school library had banned the series from the selves, and religious communities and concerned parents alike had banded together for some good old-fashioned boycotting. And at the bizarre center of the campaign lay this life-altering notion: stories were dangerous. Suddenly, stories weren’t just facsimiles of reality or escapist imaginings. Stories meant ideas. Stories had the power to change the world, for better or for worse, to bleed beyond the covers of a book into life itself. And that’s pretty damn extraordinary.
2) Scribbler: One relatively uneventful day in the life of a six year-old, I was sitting at my grandmother’s coffee-table with a box of crayons and computer paper. What resulted was a short picture book about the adventures of a magical rabbit (most likely pictured in fabulous hues of green and blue). While over the years, I’ve dived into journals, analytical papers, short stories, poetry, and blogs, I haven’t stopped writing since.
3) Resident Feminist: There are so many priceless tales to choose from here…and by priceless, I mean that with enough practice, I might be able to tell them in a way that highlights the hilarious and the ridiculous rather than the horrific. My transition from closet feminist to resident feminist (if your friends constantly either come to you for ranting support or trolling debate on feminist issues that leave you with varying degrees of hope and despair, you, my friend, are the “resident feminist”) has been quite convoluted and continuous: If I had the time, I could write a post every day about a different reason why feminism is still an incredibly relevant and necessary ideology. But my favorite story begins with me being a total creeper in an office supply store and ends with a revelation. Back to school 2011 found me stocking up on BIC pens in Office Depot- I had just grabbed the last box of red and was headed to the post-it aisle, when I spotted some cute children shopping with their parents. A little boy went for the pastels, and he was told by his mother that “boys don’t use pink pens.” *Silently weeping* For a minute, my intense gut reaction really confused me. Especially since a few moments later, a little girl choose blue pens. Nobody told her that “Girls do not use blue pens,” even though blue is traditionally a masculine color. Sound like progress? Yes, it does, and that is incredibly dangerous. Do I think it’s great that girls can choose whatever the hell they want to write with? Yes, yes I do. Do I think it’s really really scary that guys cannot choose something considered feminine? SO SCARY. Because really the message is, girls, go ahead and be masculine if you want. That’s progress, that’s better, being masculine is better. Boys, don’t you dare be feminine. Being feminine emasculates you, being feminine means being less. The root of all sexism: unconscious, subtle, and terrifying in its pervasiveness. Later, that same evening, with this incident fresh in my mind, one of my close friends confided to me that they had been sexually abused as a child, and suddenly I connected some very important dots about notions of feminine inferiority and the pervasiveness of sexual assault, which targets people of all genders but a much higher statistical proportion of women. That’s when the idea that sexism isn’t just suddenly appear in bursts of violence, it’s everywhere- even in office supply stores, even (occasionally) in my own thinking. And in order to address problems that effects millions of people, you can’t just look at the results. You have to search for the causes.
4) Avid Traveler: The summer before I turned thirteen I crossed the Atlantic for the first time, digesting Rome, The Vatican, Florence, Pisa, Naples, Mykonos, and Santorini all within the span of three weeks. Wow, much world! Since then, I’ve traveled to London, Southern Ireland, Paris, the French Rivera, and Athens, without once studying abroad.
5) Perpetual Student and Teacher: Learning is one of my favorite things. Not even going to lie about it. All I do is read, read, read no matter what, and that’s the way I like it. I also enjoy engaging in impossibly abstract discussions with unsuspecting brunch buddies- it’s not like my opening line is “How would you define Marxism?” but for some reason, we always end up talking about a) The Patriarchy, b) Authorial Intent and Biblical texts, and c) Some random ass ethical issue like cloning (thank you, Ishiguro). My favorite moments of the teaching and learning exchange happen during my tutoring sessions at the Writing Center, particularly those in which I either know nothing about the topic or I have never thought about a topic through their lens before. My role is to essentially help someone articulate their points with as much clarity and efficiency as possible, which amounts to a great deal of listening and questioning, almost no answering or monologuing on my end. It’s like taking a crash course in a new subject every hour, all under the guise of discussing optimum manipulation of language. My best life.
6) Liberal Christian: I’ve visited this particular paradox in this blog before, but it’s difficult to pinpoint a turning point. It’s one of those identities that happened while I wasn’t looking (read, actively avoiding eye contact). My experience with faith has always been incredibly contradictory- I attended a small, religiously affiliated school in the South for seven years, which enacted both the beautiful, spiritual aspect of religious feeling and the uncomfortable bigotry that often lurks in the background of privileged institutions. Inclusion and exclusion were always arm-wrestling in the cafeteria, it seemed. One moment, there might be encouragements to love thy neighbor, the next slut-shaming in the locker room. One moment, education was a priority, and the next, there was controversy over whether or not studying evolution was sinful. I took the values with me, left the human mistakes behind, and let my experiences with the world I live in decide the rest.
7) Friend: Of all the human interaction labels out there, this is by far my favorite, and it will always be my first priority in any type of relationship. Friendship revolves around some basic laws of human compassion and connection, rather than arbitrary rules about who can text when, why, and how, etc. If interpersonal interaction has to be a contest, I’d rather participate in a race to see who can care the most, not who can care the least.
And now for the best part: nominations! Personally, I love creeping on other blogger’s awards posts. It’s one of the best ways to build community by supporting other writers and discovering other snazzy blogs. I’d like to nominate these other versatile blogs for the VBA (creep away!):
1) Be Young and Shut Up: One of my recently discovered favorites. In their own glorious words describing the goal of their blog, “In a generation of expert consumers, we seek to scrutinize media—books, TV, news, movies, music, and popular culture—to understand how, invisibly, it affects our politics, values, and the way we see ourselves and others.”
2) fueled by diet coke: “the honest, raw, and usually messy journey of a twenty-something woman in today’s society who is trying desperately to start a revolution of self acceptance.”
3) Avoiding Neverland: “a nomadic teachers’ thoughts on preparing teens for life.” Posts range from book reviews and education to travels and stories about “Remarkable Teens.”
4) Signals to Attend: A wonderful blog about “writing and random thoughts that emerge along the way!” Some recent posts include reflections on a successful writing career and a response to the film Her
5) the practical historian: A fantastic blending of current trends and issues with funny, oftentimes unfamiliar, historical narratives.
6) Disrupting Dinner Parties: “Feminism for everyone.” Literally just discovered this one, and I’m practically jumping up and down of all the amazing new reading material. Awesome name too!
7) Strange Flowers: “a cabinet of human curiosities, a celebration of some of the most eccentric, extravagantand extraordinary personalities of the last 200-odd years.” A collection of portraits of unique figures including authors, artists, science, history, culture, you name it!
8) Psyche’s Circuitry: “Thoughts on growing up and growing old in the digital age”
9) The Book Wars: “We are a team of grad students pursuing MAs in Children’s Lit. On this blog, you will find unadulterated fangirling of children’s books and authors. We present to you a variety of perspectives.”
10) BINARY THIS: “Everything you always wanted to know about gender but were afraid to ask.” There’s a post called “Judith Butler explained with Cats.” Seriously, need I say more?
11) A Dash of Cinema: This blog is a call to “embrace your inner film-foodie” and it is basically all I have ever wanted out of life. Lots of delicious recipes alongside film recommendations…
12) The Goat that Wrote: “from digital fountains to the analogue mountains.” A nature blog with a flair for glorious, glorious rhymes.
13) The Thesis Whisperer: “Just like the horse whisperer- but with more pages.” Maybe, I’m biased due to my current thesis struggles, but a post called “Are researchers a bit like Meerkats?” Yes please! Lots of great posts about writing, researchin’, and dat academic life.
14) Black Millennial Musings: “a blog about the young Black experience. Exploring everything from dating, pop culture, tech space, social media, the arts, and entertainment, and whatever else in between… BMM is a safe space to share and explore varying perspectives of Black culture.”
15) Victorianachronists: “a place where history, culture, and silliness meet. We two suffragettes, scientists, swordswomen, and scintillating scribes will discuss the finer points of tea time, of etiquette regarding letters and correspondence, of Victorian accessories and antiquities, of fashion and beauty and snippets of poetry, bits of theatre and music, and insights, discussion, and analysis of the great literary works of the time.”