Breath

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I dream of perfect nights and perfect days

When you leave me in a stupor, in a haze

Where you sweep me of me feet

Your heart so genuine and sweet

As you go in for our first kiss

I would be remiss

If I were to dismiss this

Right before our lips touch

Your smooth even breath

Sunburn

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Six days ago I went for sun

On a beautiful Memorial day

The wonderful world it was so blue

I read on the beach, I had to stay

When I left to buy some lemonade

To quench my thirst

It was my mom who saw it first

I burned instead of tanned

That first night of sleep was the worst!

But I had a lot of fun with my good friend

And today as my skin peels

I learned for next time

To proceed with caution

But I don’t regret the fun

To the class of 2017. No rushing. Savor the moment.

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That warm, rainy day was filled with so much rushing

Rushing to dress

Rushing to put on makeup

Rushing to eat breakfast

Rushing to gather guests

Rushing to get through the rain

Rushing to get everything in order

It felt like it was going to fast

When was I going to stop and admire the day?

Finally once I sat down for the ceremony

Of my college graduation

There was no rushing

No sir. Not anymore.

There was only kindness

There was cheering

There was clapping (so much clapping)

There was reverence for teachers and students

There was so much love in the room

Love for Shimer

Love for my teachers and staff

Love for the students

Memories of my time came flooding back

Memories of different pieces

It was surreal

The speeches truly special

Our school song

Much different than most others

Sung by a man with a big heart, a guitar, and a raspy voice

During that ceremony there was harmony

After the ceremony there was chaos to eat

To take pictures

To meet people

To introduce people to my family

But

During the ceremony

I remember most

My walk across the stage

That moment when I became a graduate, hugging my president, my friend

Nothing would ever be the same

Now over a month later

I reflect

And I deeply appreciate

That they gave us that special time

No rushing

Savoring the moment

A speech on Love (The behind the scenes, what went into my thesis kind of speech)

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Love is such an overused word and underrated subject, and my thesis aims to explore love in a unique and thoughtful way that makes it have meaning again in a raw way. This thesis has been a very long time coming. Over three years ago I considered making an analysis on love and for my first writing week project, and I thought that’s what I would create. I was told that my writing week project cannot be 40 pages long, much to my dismay. Then two years ago, I started working on my thesis that I titled, let all that you do be done in love: an analysis of love. Finally, I could write about what I had planned so long ago with the personal message that it was better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. First I drew a chart on giant white cardboard, with sections. I remember bringing the chart in to my first reader and going over it with him. Over time many of the sections were written and when I got to the first semester of my senior year, I had huge plans for my thesis. While love itself was not taking off in my personal life, writing my thesis helped me to discover that it wasn’t about that, that wasn’t why I was writing this. It was so much bigger than that.

During the workshop in my IS5 class, I asked Adam about page length; specifically I asked if I could write a 100 pages and everyone in class had a horrified look I remember well. Adam did one of his classic facial expressions, and said no. There was a page limit. See, I had a tutorial with Stuart where I worked on the science section of my love thesis where I focused on pheromones and oxytocin and I learned so much! However, I kept getting more and more ideas, more thoughts of how my exploration of love and how I could direct it. After a while, JD had to have me focus it on what I already had planned: An analysis of the four loves by C.S. Lewis, a Science explaining love section, love changing over time, a personal story, and connecting my personal story to C.S. Lewis’ work by analyzing my failed love as a case study. That’s what I will be talking about today.

 

C.S. Lewis’ book was really my jumping off point for my thesis. By reading about affection, friendship, eros, and charity, it made my thinking for the rest of the thesis sharper. I was finally focusing on the sections and making everything flow. Writing about friendship and affection wasn’t hard for me. I wrote about both of those according to Lewis with my own critique. It was eros and charity that I took more time on. I wanted to find a way to talk about eros that was meaningful and also explained it the author’s way, but with my voice too. And after taking a break from the thesis, I was able to do that. Charity was a section that I had a hard time explaining so I met with my thesis advisor to discuss how I could better understand this section so I could continue.

 

Writing about pheromones and oxytocin was a part of my thesis that I found the easiest. I found that studying and reporting on facts was easier than analyzing an author’s philosophy and far easier than trying to decode my own thoughts and feelings. Not to say science is easy, because it’s not. And the science behind why we have certain powerful feelings that could be love was harder still to learn about. It was useful to add science to my thesis (It was not my initial plan to) in order to help not only my reader but myself understand love more with science behind it, rather than just observations and speculation. One of the things I learned is that while giving a massage both the giver and the receiver have oxytocin released inside their brain. I also learned that pheromones are odorless, but very present and can help explain why we are attracted to one person and literally repulsed by another.

Writing the introduction and conclusion to my thesis were probably the most challenging parts (in addition to a bunch of books for research that I read that I didn’t use). I really wanted to start off strong and I wanted the conclusion to capture how complicated love really is. So I went through four revisions of my intro, before I found one that I felt suited the thesis best. The conclusion I left for last. Somehow, after all the writing and furthermore all the thinking about love I did, I was able to write just one meaningful conclusion.

The Conclusion: Contemplating, what kind of love is out there for me?

Walking down the streets of Chicago I am overwhelmed with beautiful scenes and my mind wanders, as the mind of a passionate woman often does. I think about love often as I find it a deeply wonderful concept. I think about a long distance connection I have made and if it could ever turn into the kind of love I seek. Surprisingly, loss hasn’t turned me away from the notion of love. It has taught me that I am capable of loving deeply and has me excited for how elevated that feeling will get when the love is mutual. Considering the science of love I examined and combining it with C.S. Lewis, I have gained a great depth to my view on love, and know more about the science of pheromones and oxytocin and their role in fueling a love connection between two people. They are two complex scientific ideas that allowed me to consider more than philosophy and personal struggle. I now watch many romantic movies with this smile on my face and read these romantic books, enthralled by the deep love the characters share, while being critical of overdone love stories that don’t seem organic or genuine.

In my life I have my amazing parents as a living example I constantly am around of how much love perseveres and how pure and remarkable love can be. They always manage to think of the other and never bicker.  The little moments are where I can witness their enduring love, an organic and simple love, or perhaps their years of experience is what makes their love look so effortless. Always, I see them share a cup of coffee and talk about their intense days of work and how stressed they are. Never really complaining, this ritual of having coffee is how they enjoy spending time together. This is where the distinction between the books I read and real life come into the light for me. Love and the relationships that come with it take a lot of work and commitment to keep that love flickering. It is not as simple and quick as a text of literature or film tries to prove to me. Movies often make love seem so easy, something I find irritating and I challenge now when watching movies. I actively call out how unbelievably perfect these movies are and prefer movies that involve some suffering or tragedy as those movies show a compassion developed that feels organic. Sometimes they demonstrate love as tragic and I find it very sad but more believable. Love isn’t easy to find or keep once one has the great fortune of locating it on this enormous Earth. The difficult fact to understand is we don’t choose who we love or who loves us back. We must hold on tight and fight for love sometimes. The walk I continue is disrupted by honking of car horns.

When I arrive at home, I think about and consider how I became so fascinated by love. I come to recognize that there is such beauty in love’s sacrifice. Actions speak louder than words and often people do things in real life that are a symbol of their love for one another. It can be something like shoveling the snow off your partner’s car before they go to work to make their life easier. You aren’t doing this to get anything in return. It is for them to have an easier day and to know you are thinking about them. The action propels forward the idea of not just helping someone out. Perhaps you did it absentmindedly. Thinking, oh I will clear their car also. Maybe it is as simple as putting a blanket on them as they have fallen asleep on the couch. Gestures are things they will appreciate and not forget. When you are both 90, they will remember all the little things you did to show how much you cared. In the end, it will be all the things you did, gestures big and small that make up your relationship, but that reminder that you care will endure. The idea of “we are in this together” will help in bad times. When things get tough, you remember all that you shared and lean on each other for support. That won’t be forgotten either. Love is the strongest force on Earth, beating even gravity. Love accomplishes things gravity never could. It breaks us, or causes us great joy. Sometimes, it is somewhere in between. We don’t always have control of the love as we saw with Tom, the married man having romantic feelings for another woman. All we can do is our very best if we desire love, to work honestly towards that goal. To not force things, but just let them happen. Because after all, love is that – love. To love at all is to be vulnerable (Lewis 121). It is that vulnerability that allows love in. If only we could all find a way to allow ourselves to break and burst open our walls. If only then, we could let love in.

 

 

A special thanks to JD, David Shiner and Stuart for all working on my thesis with me. A thanks to the Shimer community for pushing me and believing in me. And finally to Shimer community for showing me what it means to love something so much. And knowing how much you are going to miss it. While my thesis focuses on romantic love between two people, Shimer College and all the wonderful people that are a part of it taught me about a greater personal inner love for myself, the people around me, and for pursuing my passion. I hope to add a section on that kind of love to my thesis when I get around to publishing it.

Remember your Dreams <3

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Dreams. Some of us have. Some of us do not. Sometimes. All the time. Somewhere and everywhere. There are sometimes built over time with posters in bed rooms, movies running in our minds, and hope in our hearts. As with some movies, these can take unexpected and sometimes unfortunate turns. Because sometimes we get sick. We forfeit the championship game before the try-outs even start. We hang up our soccer shoes and remember things like the nick names we got while we attempted to fulfill them. Bruiser was my nickname and a part of my dream. Soccer was my sport, defense was my position. Then after eighth grade I got sick, and sophomore year called for no more P.E. period. Funny how some dreams bring other ones into light. The dream to create. To be part of something bigger than yourself. How to be humble. My junior year I stepped into this new world and new dreams were pressed on fast forward. Dreams. You never really forget your dreams. They stay with you as you complete your morning jog, your salad, your chores, your romantic dinner, your fight with the cable guy. As much as you try to alienate yourself from them. They call to you. To be social was another dream I never fully held on to. It seemed to always be slipping from my grasp when final it seemed it had never existed. Now on the in-betweens, I’m trying to envision new dreams. Not to replace old ones. To be a smile now. You see funny thing about dreams. They never retire.

When hope seemed lost you came along

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Just never finding the right guy

Because of their wants and actions 

It’s enough to make one cry

I felt like giving up why even try

Then you messaged me and it surprised me

Our conversation started with grad school and moved quickly to all kind of things 

Our conversation grew wings

I felt that I could fly

Your compliments were not in short supply

After dinner we continued talking and despite the the storm

I forgot all about it, because the butterflies made me feel so warm 

You told me I was beautiful and so much more.

Your kindness and thoughtful words I couldn’t ignore.

When I most needed encouragement 

You were there to give it

The happiness I wanted, I began to live it. 

When I thought I was weak, you showed me I was strong

When hope seemed lost, you came along … 

Evolving Thoughts, Enlightening my Mind

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For two years now I have been concentrating on a thesis regarding romantic love. When I fell in love in 2013, I decided I wanted to write about it and since experiencing a painful end to that relationship, I have been channeling positive energy to explore love. Through the lens of using love in terms of philosophy, science, and personal experience, I have developed a theory about love that I am very proud of. That theory I came up with is constantly evolving as are my interactions with various men. In searching for my Mr. Right, I developed high standards that I refuse to deviate from. The result was accepting nothing less than total respect and slowly noticing when men were being sexist. Something happened in our society to heighten my awareness of just how enormous a problem that this continues to be in our society.  The recent election of a male chauvinist pig as our president has made dating more interesting as I hear white men mostly, defending Trump and his completely out of line comments of “grabbing a woman by the pussy”.  He has made countless attacks against women, and sexualized his own daughter, talking about her breasts. The amount of repulsive comments made by this man is sickening, and thinking that this man represents our country now is even more sickening. How horrible is it to think that those men may actually believe the same core beliefs that our fine President Donald Trump has brought forth.

Now, realizing how many men want to control women and what they ate, their job, and their reproduction, I am seeing the use of patriarchy in dating and am absolutely disturbed, mortified and saddened that I haven’t seen these signs more clearly and soon. I have been thinking and writing and experiencing love for much longer that I realized how sexist the world we are living in is. More importantly, how loving someone doesn’t change how they believe and how they may use your vulnerability to perpetuate the patriarchy.  In my first and only experience of loving a man, he said things and behaved in a sexist way. At the time, it was off putting, but I put up with all of it because I loved him and stupidly because I thought he would change. Dating now and how I view comments made by men has changed since I started this course. The Dworkin reading called Woman Hating particularly stood out to be because of the notion of fairy tales. As young girls, we are taught to love fairy tales and emulate them as much as we can. There is this notion of the damsel in distress in all the fairy tales that Dworkin discusses. In Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel all the women need saving. I don’t want to “need saving”. In fact, I have moved out to live with roommates, and I plan to live an independent life, not depending on and taking care of a man. Her writing starts with, “This is a book about action, a political action where revolution is the goal. It has no other purpose. It is not cerebral wisdom, or academic horseshit, or ideas carved in granite and destined or immortality” (Dworkin 17). That is a really powerful way to start a book and I want my thesis to do for love what this book is doing for women, reclaiming the place in society they always deserved but were never allowed. I saw over and over the strength she shows by not accepting the fairy tales and tearing down the stories within them in such a remarkable and note worthy way.

The huge problem is that in these fairy tales women are taught to be passive and just have the man save them. The mother figure in the fairy tales is also problematic. What I find more problematic is the men never have accountability for their actions. Hansel and Gretel are left by both parents, but the mother is the monster in the story and the father who didn’t do anything to get them back is welcomed back with open arms. “Though the fairy tale father marries the evil woman in the first place, has no emotional connection with his child, does not interact in any meaningful way with her, abandons her and worse does not notice when she is dead or gone, he is a figure of male good. He is the patriarch, and as such is beyond mortal law and human decency” (Dworkin 48). Anther long but strong passage that demonstrates my huge problem with fairy tales is this, “Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow-white, Rapunzel – all characterized by passively, beauty, innocence, and victimization. They are all archetypal good women – victims by definition. They never think, act, initiate, confront, challenge, feel, care. Or question. They have one scenario of passage. They are moved from the house of the mother to the house of the prince. First they are objects of malice, then they are objects of romantic adoration, They do nothing to warrant either” (42). This is particularly disturbing because of the notion of romance. I want to be loved by a man very much. Would it be wonderful if he loved me because I was beautiful to him? Yes. However, my intelligent, my humor, my quick wit is something I want to be loved for. I want to be loved for my talents and the way I laugh or the silly way I dance. No more do I want to fall under a spell because someone thinks I’m beautiful. I’m so much more than a pretty face, and that’s all the women in all these fairy tales are – a beautiful victim to be taken advantage of. I never want to be viewed as someone who needs pity!

Another enormous problem I see Dworkin present is the idea of how a women is supposed to look according to society and to be desirable for a man. This enormous problem I personally have with my self-esteem is largely a social construct of how woman are supposed to be. There are parts that I do for myself, such as shaving my armpit and leg hair and maintaining my pubic hair. Now, I developed the third idea on my own, but all the shaving makes me question if it was engrained in me, so I do it, or if I actually want to do it or I’m so used to it that I cannot deviate from it. Dworkin says “She is evil because she acts” (49) and this is true of many examples of powerful women. The media has made this idea of a passive woman, and controlling everything about her body goes way way out of control. I myself struggle with my self-image. I like wearing make up from time to time, and I love picking clothes to show my style. What I do not like is the constant pressure I receive from home and from the media to lose weight. I actually go to the gym and find it insulting that my self-worth is determined by how I look for so many. As a white woman, I have the skin color than our society finds desirable. Yet I shudder to think that so many beauty standards for women were far more tortuous then losing weight. I will say that I have developed an unhealthy relationship with food and struggle to accept my body. It is upsetting to try on clothes that don’t fit, but more upsetting to be reminded over and over how I need to lose weight.

The saddest part is that I wanted to lose weight for myself. I wanted to fit back into some of my clothes and feel less tired from carrying the extra 20-30 pounds around all the time. But, I decide to make that change on my own because it will make me happy. I decide to wear a dress that I bought, because it makes me feel beautiful. Not because society says so. Because I say so, damn it! I will be in control of my body and be a champion for others to follow me in accepting who you are. The foot binding in this book was a way to not only control women but make them sexually attractive. I cannot express my disgust enough at the idea of mutilating a woman when she is a girl, forever destroying her feet, for a man’s enjoyment. That notion of foot binding as cultural is true, because it was practiced in China, but the effects of controlling a woman’s body are horrifying. I connect the idea of an idealized skinny body to that of foot binding. The idea that women should eat salads on dates is so depressing. I am all for a healthier lifestyle as my family history shows I have a higher chance for many dangerous illnesses. But I cannot live in a world and accept that women are to be seen and not heard. People fear how much power women can have, and therefore try to take it away constantly.

To continue the idea that fairy tales make woman in society devalued and pushing this idea into reality a victim is a book called The Image by Jean de Berg. Claire and Anne are two women and Jean is a man who wants but cannot have Claire because she does not desire him. Claire abuses Anne physically and sexually but the text claims that Anne is always wet and always wanting this kind of treatment. She sucks Jean’s cock and a rose with thorns is forced inside her. All of this is deeply erotic (?), but is actually incredibly disturbing. On page 85 the ending is this “Jean de Berg goes home, has a dream about Claire, is awakened by a knock on the door, and lo and behold! Claire has recognized her true role in life (I have come, she says quietly) that of Jean de Berg’s slave. He hits her, and she lives happily ever after.” What I understood of this very creepy, perverted way to portray women is that women because we don’t have a penis will be tortured by another woman for a man’s pleasure until the woman he actually wants to ravish realizes she is the missing piece in the master/slave equation.

Women are lacking someone and that makes them less of a person. I never understood this, and learning that it is something people actually believe to be true is really nuts to be quite honest.“The Image paints women as real female eunuchs, mutilated in the first instance, much as Freud suggested, by their lack of cock, incapable of whole, organic, satisfying sexual union without the intrusion and participation of a male figure.” (67) How unbelievable a thought that I am not a complete human because I do not have a penis. It is a ridiculous notion that Freud came up with and now is used as a tool by men over women. This story made me physically cringe as I read it and feel so enraged for this was a very popular book. This book is about abuse of a woman and worse is that she wants all the abuse and is shown as submissive first to Claire then to Jean de Berg. I felt sickened and wronged even though none of this happened to me. And people thought this was deeply sexy? To thrust a thorny rose inside a woman? To rape a woman? And to show that the woman torturing Anne realizes that she should be the one experiencing the abuse just shows how deep sexism runs in our society. I did not find this story erotic or sexy at all. I felt nauseous and furious the entire time and fearful of what would happen to Claire. The Story of O is equally sickening as women are used only for sex. The idea of the value of a women being the space between her legs and when that is no longer of interested that she should be killed and asked to be killed is beyond disturbing. This story is called “love for love’s sake”. Is there any kind of love actually in this story of a woman being raped and tortured until she is no longer needed? The people who wrote both these books are confusing love with lust. Furthermore, if it is lust they desire, it should be a consensual one, but of course that shatters the image of the submissive woman. We cannot disturb what they have set up.

Every part of the book Woman Hating makes me think of a quote by T.S. Eliot, “Do I dare disturb the universe?” Do I dare question the notion that I am a sex object according to society? That I as a woman need to play the victim and be submissive? I do not accept any of these roles as my reality but in the introduction Dworkin points to a bigger issue of women not wanting to push the boundaries that have been placed upon us, and ones we do not want to accept. “The money available to middle-class women who identify as feminists must be channeled into the programs we want to develop, and we must develop them. In general, middle class women have refused to take any action, make any commitment which would interfere with, threaten, or significantly alter a lifestyle, a living standard, which is money and privileged” (Dworkin 17). Dworkin has opened my eyes using what I thought was something wonderful and precious, fairy tales and proving how much it devalues women. Using the Story of O and The Image, as well as discussing foot binding and the magazine Suck as just perpetuating sexist ideas, the chance to have my eyes opened has happened.

I always knew that women were unequal to men but I thought it was supposed to be that way when I was much younger. As I grew up I recognized how great it was when a woman was powerful and independent but how men were threatened by that. They are threatened because they don’t want to lose the social order where they enjoy so much power and privilege as a male. Now, the door is bursting open for me to challenge those ideas. I want to challenge the reasons that Dworkin points out are reasons for love. Because, truly that’s not love! For the woman it is a life of torture and for the man it is abuse without consequence. I see no love in these fairy tales or in either of these erotic stories. Dealing with issues of how we look and our bodies as objects is so difficult, but while accepting myself for who I am, I don’t want to fall into the comfy lifestyle and not challenge injustice.

Through my love of football, campfires, power tools, wood working, drinking a good drink, and working out I am challenged at home by females who see me doing what is considered “the man’s job”. For as long as I can remember I have been asked to cook, clean, and behave daintily, like a desirable woman would. All of this is disgusting to me. While I love dresses and I like makeup, I value respecting myself and being who I want to be above all things. I will never change who I am to impress a man. Therefore, I will shave because I want to. I will wear make up for myself. And, I will continue to have the hobbies I wish to have, while still being a woman. My strength is recognizing all the things I do have as a white woman. This text just shows I and all women have a lot further to go to be respected and shown as an equal to men. We are capable of so much and we shouldn’t have to prove our worth any longer. All the great women that helped shape history have already done that for us. Despite our current president and all that he wants to do to reverse any progress we have made, I feel compelled to not sit still. I feel compelled to act and when it comes to love, to never accept someone who doesn’t respect me or belittles me as a woman. I am just as valuable as a man in this world, and I wish with my entire heart that I didn’t have to constantly need to prove my position in this world. The gift of this reading is awareness. Without awareness, nothing can change, and now that I am aware of all the twisted things going on, I intend to fight for a world where love isn’t based on looks and my sexual desires alone. That is not love.