Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spreading My Roots.

Happy Monday (technically)! And more importantly, happy first official warm weekend in Vermont this year! It's been a long time coming, I know. Trust me, I've been just as sick of the cold that wouldn't seem to go away as I'm sure most of you have been. I'm excited to finally be able to wear shorts outside, sleep with my window open, and just enjoy some nicer weather!

I wanted to take some time today to talk to you all about a course that I feel like I don't talk about enough that I'm taking this semester - Global Communication and Culture. It's a 200-level MJD course taught by Professor Hyde about various aspects of the world, ranging from communication to music to food. It's been an eye-opening class for me because I've never taken such a multi-faceted class at Saint Mike's while learning so much about different parts of the world and other cultures. I'm always interested and engaged in class, and it always goes by so quick!

Now I know what some of you may be thinking - if you've explored the MJD major a bit and talked to some students who major or minor in it, you've probably heard about Global Comm. being challenging and a lot of work. That's not a lie, it definitely is. Taking it at the same time as my senior seminar has been anything but easy, but it's also been such a rewarding experience. For a big project in the class, you have to design a website using either Adobe Dreamweaver or Adobe Flash about a country in the world that is randomly assigned to you. Not only do you design this website, but you also research a ton of information on it ranging from political and ethnic tensions to dominant forms of media use.

For my country, I got Myanmar - a quickly developing country in southeast Asia that has had its fair share of struggles in its lifetime. I never thought I could learn so much about another country in the world so quickly - sometimes I think I know more about Myanmar now than I do about the U.S. because of this project! Myanmar has been ruled by a militaristic government for a number of years, but has recently fought for democracy with some success (and I mean recently as in the last decade or so). Furthermore, Myanmar is battling religious tensions between Buddhists and Muslims as well as huge class and economic tensions between rural areas and more rapidly evolving urban areas like Yangon and Mandalay. 


These two images compare and contrast what you would see in more rural parts of Myanmar versus what you would typically find in a tourism website or popular magazine of some sort promoting Myanmar, just to give you a perspective of how radically different life is in certain parts of the country.
The point of this post is to not believe everything you see in popular media, especially tourism and marketing campaigns, about certain countries. These sorts of campaigns aim specifically at westerners much of the time in order to get them to visit the country, so of course they're going to show you what you want to see, but the reality is that much of Myanmar is not like the pretty photoshopped pictures. Don't get me wrong, Myanmar is a beautiful place with some really amazing people from all different backgrounds, but it's time that we acknowledged the realities of a place over what we want to see. This goes for any country. Please do your research before going anywhere and never take what you see off of tourism websites to be the whole truth.

For those of you who are interested in this class from what I've said, I highly recommend you take it! It's required for both MJD majors and minors, but even if you're not either of those, you could try to talk to Professor Hyde and see what he thinks! He's a great professor and it's one of the most interesting classes I've ever taken at Saint Mike's hands down.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mission Complete!

So, it's official - I'm a published author!

It feels so amazing to finally be done with my book. It's been such a crazy and hectic and rewarding experience, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Check it out!

It's tangible! It's in my hand! It's done!
Throughout the book, my partner and co-author Tara Keady and I covered a variety of topics ranging from LGBTQ people in the American military to a new take on gender nonconformity. We got to interview a bunch of amazing people who had incredible stories about their involvement in the LGBTQ community, how they have been involved in policies and activism concerning the LGBTQ community, and even how they have combatted and overcome oppression in various parts of the world.

It was so awesome to be able to include all of these great people while simultaneously analyzing a facet of life I'm not only personally involved in, but very fascinated by. I got to discuss shows like Orange Is the New Black and Empire while also going into my background as an openly gender fluid male in the American military. It was an experience that would have been wildly out of my comfort zone to do just three years ago, but I'm so glad I did it now.

I'll keep you all posted on ordering details if you're interested in reading it! I'm excited to share it with all of you. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I'm Alive, I Swear.

Okay, so first off I know I've been absent from blogging for almost two weeks...life has been beyond hectic lately with senior seminar. My book is due a week from tomorrow and I've been going to town on it lately, spending my spring break at the lab instead of the beach (it killed me a little bit each day). In the end, I'm glad I spent the time on this project though - I can't imagine getting it done in time and putting an honest effort into it and actually having a spring break at the same time. It wouldn't have been possible.

I'm happy to say that my partner Tara Keady and I are done 9 out of 14 chapters of it and we've formatted over half of it for publishing though! It's been a long process, but as any MJD major can tell you, it's worth it. A week from tomorrow, I'll officially be a published author! It's such a weird feeling, but also the best thing ever at the same time.

I designed the back cover photo today of Tara and I and I love how it came out!

I wanted it to match the cover picture with the rainbow, and look at those intense faces!
Seriously, I think I'm getting too into this, but I can't believe it's almost done at the same time. A project I've been working on for nearly eight months finally coming to fruition.

But of course it's not over once the actual book is done - then it's presentation time! Presentations to our class, presentations to the two MJD senior seminar classes combined, and public presentations! I get to dress all spiffy and talk about the LGBTQ community - what could be better?

For real though, I'm hoping that this book will allow me to further myself in a future career someday, lord knows what I actually want to end up committing to for the rest of my life as a career though. If anything, I'm glad I focused on the LGBTQ community because not only is it a community that I'm a part of, but the fight that the LGBTQ community has been putting up for what feels like forever for equality is one that I had to take a stance on and support. I hope this book can show all who read it that there are still some massive changes that need to happen around the world in order for the LGBTQ community to ever reach true equality, and it's going to take every last one of us to get it there.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Recent Happenings.

Spring break is just around the corner! I've been hard at work chugging away at my book project for my MJD senior seminar, my partner Tara and I are already three chapters in! It's unreal to see something that I've thought about so distantly for so long finally coming to life. For as much work as it's been, I know the final product in hand will be worth it.

Aside from this project, I've been keeping pretty busy of course. In my Global Communication and Culture class, I got assigned my country to make a website on - Myanmar. For those of you who may not know, Myanmar is right near Thailand and under China in southern Asia. I don't know much of anything about Myanmar, so I think it'll be awesome to learn more about it through making this website - I even get to talk to locals for it! How cool is that?

But it hasn't been all school work of course - this past weekend I had drill for the Air National Guard, and I was promoted to Senior Airman! It was awesome to finally see all my hard work over the last two and a half years finally paying off in a promotion, and I feel totally ready to take on more responsibility.

Senior Airman stripes on my sleeve now! Unreal.
I also found some time for fun too - last Thursday, Higher Ground hosted ODESZA! I feel in love with ODESZA last semester when a friend showed them to me, so naturally I knew I had to go see them live. ODESZA is an electronic band that's been on the scene for a couple of years now, and their songs are sort of trance sounding, often times featuring a female singer with a beautiful voice. Their songs range from slower more chill sounds to upbeat dance anthems, and I loved having that variety at the concert because you could see how the crowd moved with the sound.

Crappy photo I know, but ODESZA!
At one point I was right in the middle of the crowd about five rows back from the stage, and although it was hard to move, it was totally worth it. There's something about just letting music take you over and setting yourself free that is unbelievably amazing.

If you're curious about ODESZA, you should check them out! You can find their music on Spotify or read about them here!

I will be doing the brunt of my writing for the book over spring break, so expect an update about that within the next week or so as well. Can't wait to share it with you guys, enjoy the break!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fiction Writing Happens.

Hey everyone! Happy first day of March - it's so weird that it's March already. I'm kind of excited, kind of scared, kind of want to curl up into a ball and disappear. But on the bright side, I think we're finally out of the tremendously cold part of winter and ready to see some warmer days here in the arctic tundra that is Vermont!

Since my life hasn't been terribly exciting lately, I wanted to use this blog post to share some of my fiction writing with you guys! I'm only going to share the first page or so because some of it gets a little explicit, but also because I want to get you all as excited about this class as I am!

Enjoy, it's called "Search and Destroy."

November 28, 2014.


He knows her from work. Chelsea. She has long brown hair that dips down her back in a perfect U-shape when she wears it down, but she usually has it up in a bun or a ponytail. Blue eyes slanted down slightly with teeth that are just a little yellow and a little crowded. Her forehead is peppered with a few pimples. Her hips hug her jeans. Her breasts perk up in everything from t-shirts to blouses.
He has known Chelsea for a couple of years now, joining her for the occasional lunch date or catching up about classes – they both attend Florida State University. She is bright with a little too much cynicism. Not a bad girl, but not a great one either.

Chelsea

Are you going out later?
                                                                                Probably. What about you?←
→ I was hoping to.
Wanna meet up somewhere?
                                                                                    Sure. Frat house raging?←
→ You know it.
                                                                             Cool, I'll be there around 11.←

He tucks the phone into his jeans and eyes his wrist – 10:17 p.m. The drunken screams of college kids tear through the cracks in his bedroom window like the bitter cold in winter, ringing in the back of his ears. The night has already begun for them. He decides what he's wearing isn't suitable for a frat party, subbing out dull black jeans and a blue t-shirt for a pair of beige khakis and a crimson button-up.

 He takes a few shots of vodka with his roommates. The bitter taste wafts into his nostrils with a sharp sting, burning his esophagus. He doesn't know what to do with his hands. He runs them through his hair and rests them on his thighs, where they stay planted like trees for uncomfortable periods of time. His face struggles in gashes of red to break free from the unbearable alcoholic heat.

I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with it yet and of course there's more to it, but if you're interested just let me know and I can share it with you! I've found that I love writing over the years and this class has helped me to develop my creative writing skills more and focus on aspects of writing I never used to think about as much such as small details and what tense/perspective a story is being told from.

Let me know if you have any suggestions or comments as well, I'd love to get feedback!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Global Eyes!

Happy Sunday! After a weekend of a little fun and lots of homework, I find myself here not wanting to do anymore. Go figure. I can't believe the semester is basically halfway over already! Time has been flying by and it's been kind of scary/kind of awesome/kind of off-putting. In eight weeks, I'll no longer be a college student...how does one "real life"?

Let's drop that scary thought. The original intent of this post was to talk to you all about the Global Eyes competition that Saint Michael's has every year. It's a competition where students who have studied abroad submit up to three photos that Saint Mike's will display around the school if they are selected! The various categories of photos that they choose from range from artistic to photos that show the politics and political tensions of another country. It's an awesome opportunity to share your study abroad experience through photos with the greater campus community!

For my study abroad experience, I took a short three-week trip to England last summer through a course offered by the college on Shakespeare. It was an amazing experience, and I believe that Saint Mike's is planning to offer it again for anyone interested! It was taught by Professor Clary in the English Department for those interested.

So of course I decided to submit a few photos to the competition. Fingers crossed. Take a look!

This is a window in a crypt under St. Edmund's Hall at the University of Oxford. It was a surreal experience to be in there because it's not open to the public very often!

Believe it or not, I actually experienced more good weather than bad when I was in England, which led to this amazing shot of the London Eye!

This is a picture of Wroxton College, the school I stayed at during my time in England. It was a giant castle that was so much fun to explore and call home.
Although the deadline for this year's Global Eyes competition has already passed, it's a good thing to keep in mind for next year! If you want to know more about it, click here. Also, I would highly recommend studying abroad in England. The locals were always friendly and it was better than I could've imagined before going there.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Senior Seminar Adventures.

Hey everyone! I hope you've been getting through this ridiculous cold weather and staying warm. I'm definitely ready for winter to be over.

But anyway, onto other stuff - so I realized that I've neglected to tell you all about how my senior seminar project is going now that it's the semester that I'm going to see the finished product. My partner Tara Keady and I are writing about perceptions of gender and sexuality on a global scale through various subtopics such as law, gayborhoods, travel, and the military. So far it's been such a rewarding and informative experience! We're in the stages right now where we're finishing up interviews, putting down our ideas for how we're going to break the book up, and then we're going to start writing in just a couple of weeks!

I think the most interesting part of this project so far has been how social media has had such a huge impact on it. Seriously, I don't think we would be able to do a project like this if social media didn't exist. It's been paramount in landing us interviews with people from other countries, such as England, Spain, and South Africa, and I think the global perspective on this project is what makes it so intriguing. For example, do you think that the U.S. is the most accepting country of LGBTQ people? Think again - it's actually Spain!



These are a couple of the visual graphs Tara and I made for the book - we got feedback from some of our classmates that these would be some of the figures they would be interested in seeing in our book. Our working title is Glorious Gray: Finding Your Color in A Black and White World. We're even planning out trips to New York City and Provincetown in Massachusetts to compare the gay cultures and gayborhoods there. I'm so pumped!

I'll keep you all posted as it's coming along - the finished product will be done by April 1st! In the mean time, I'd love to hear what any of you think about it in terms of what you'd be interested in seeing, pictures, graphs, etc. All suggestions are welcome!