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Momma Lovin’

 

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Momma Lovin’

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and my mom wrote this post about what it means to be a good teacher. She talks about developing a love for reading and learning while she was pregnant with me in order to give me (and later on my brother) the absolute best of out life. I’ve had so many amazing teachers from grade school to college, but she is by far the best one. Just a few of the important lessons I’ve learned from my mom are…

  1. Never stop dreaming.

Upon attending college I’ve started to learn about the emphasized importance of financial stability and securing a career. I’ve noticed that many people stick to the straight and narrow- pursuing jobs that seem reasonably stable and not far out of reach. Not only did my mom put herself through school with two kids to get her teaching degree, she also had the courage to quit and pursue her other dream-becoming an author. From the time I was little she and my dad have both told me I can become anything I want be, and thanks to that, here I am in college chasing my dreams of one day becoming a Paralympic athlete.

  1. Chocolate fixes everything.

It can be a banana split from Dairy Queen, or mint chocolate-chip ice cream from Breyers, but whatever it is, it makes the absolute worst heartaches go away.

  1. And last but not least; always give.

My mom has always been the kindest person I’ve ever known. Whenever we go to a big city, she purposefully grabs a handful of cash to hand out to the homeless and anyone in need. My favorite memory of her generosity was during one of the many college tours we went on my junior year of high school. We were completely lost somewhere in Gainesville trying to find the University of Florida’s main campus. We pulled over and asked a young man for directions. He told us exactly how to get where we needed to go, and then my mom proceeded to offer him a ride to the place he was heading. I was sitting in the front seat freaking out. Why did she just ask a stranger to get into the car with us?! Who was this guy?! What if he has a gun?! So many awful scenarios were running through my head of what could happen to us. Of course everything turned out fine, but after he left I turned to my mom and yelled at her welcoming this completely random person into our car. At the time I thought it was crazy, what about our safety? She laughed at my anxiety and told me she knew that he too just needed some help. Then she smirked and added, “Besides, he was so scrawny, I could have taken him down any day!” I was mesmerized by not only her bravery but also her big-heart. She has taught me to have a bullet proof sense of optimism and how see the good in everyone, no matter the circumstance.

Whether it’s raising stray kittens or cooking meals for a friend in need- my mom continuously gives more than any other person I’ve ever met. I recently won $500 for getting tenth place in the Boston Marathon (Woohoo, thanks Coach!), but in honor of Mother’s Day and my mom’s birthday I’m going to donate it all to these two projects (“Special Kids Expression Through Art” and “Ball Chairs for Bouncy Minds!“) at Donorschoose.org. If you haven’t ever used the site I highly recommend it! The two classrooms I picked to donate to have children with special needs in them, and going through public school with a special need myself, I know how much the equipment I helped fund will mean to these teachers and students.

Thanks so much to all the incredible women out there this Mother’s Day, so many of you have helped shaped my life into the incredible, joyful adventure it is today. But thanks most of all to my own mom. I love you so much and can’t thank you enough for all of the opportunities you have given me by being such an incredible teacher. I can’t wait to see you in nine days!!

 

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I Love When I’m Forgotten

The title of this post seems really masochistic, but I promise it’s not that. Everyone knows the feeling of a close friend not remembering your birthday, or a loved one not recalling an anniversary, but that is not the feeling I am talking about. That feeling sucks—I absolutely do not love that.

The feeling that I’m talking about is when people see me not as somebody in a wheelchair, but just as a somebody.

One of my favorite examples of this is when friends leave me in the car. Whenever I go somewhere with people and we don’t take my truck, I usually transfer into a seat and then whoever I’m with proceeds to dismantle my wheelchair and stash it in the trunk. Occasionally when I’m with a close friend, we’ll arrive at our destination and my friend will get out of the car and start walking away, completely forgetting to get my chair out of the trunk. A few times they’ll even turn to me and say, “Come on Arielle, let’s go! What are you waiting for?” I usually just smile and wait for it to hit them….”Oh shit! Your chair!” they laugh as they race back towards the car and grab my other half out of the trunk.

fail

These are the moments when I know my friends truly see me. I often feel guilty when people have to go out of their way to help me, whether it’s taking apart my wheelchair, pushing me through the snow, or carrying me up a flight of stairs to get into a friend’s apartment. I know being in a chair isn’t my fault, but I also know that it can be a big inconvenience to people besides myself. I’ve been incredibly fortunate throughout my life to have such an awesome group of friends, both in Florida and Illinois. They’re always willing to help and literally never complain about it.

A time that will always stand out in my mind was during an eighth grade field trip to a local waterpark. I knew going into it that this theme park would not be accessible, but I also knew I loved my friends and loved rides, so I was going to make it work. With everyone soon parting ways for high school, I was determined not to miss out on this experience.

When we got to the waterpark I instantly realized that the only thing I would be able to do there was swim in the lazy river. For a thrill seeking thirteen year old, that sounded like the dullest day at a theme park ever, but all the water slides had a minimum of 2 flights of stairs.  There was absolutely no way I was going to spend an hour bumping up stairs on my bum for a 30 second adrenaline rush. Then after about ten rotations around the ever so lazy river, two of my friends proposed carrying me. I immediately knew it was not a smart idea; wet, slippery stairs and two 13 year olds carrying me under my arms and legs was definitely going to be dangerous, but with their persistence and my own longing to feel on top of the world for the first time since the accident, I agreed. We didn’t pick a small slide of course, the effort wouldn’t be worth the ride. No, instead we picked the biggest slide at the park, the Power Surge, a whopping 457ft tall, or 5 stories. I have no idea how they did it, or how we didn’t get stopped by a lifeguard, but somehow we made it.

The Power Surge

The Power Surge

The view of my home town from the top of the slide was unbelievably stunning, and in that moment, I felt invincible.

And just because my friends are that incredible, they didn’t carry me up once or even twice, I rode down that damn slide three times.

It’s moments like those, and amazing people like that who turn my life from challenging to breath-taking, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

The friends that carried me <3

The friends that carried me <3

8th grade

8th grade

Let's take a moment to thank the gene pool gods that I no longer look like a 13 year old

Let’s take a moment to thank the gene pool gods that I no longer look like a 13 year old

Why the World Needs More Katnisses

Why the World Needs More Katnisses

One of my best friends and I have this ongoing joke about which one of us is the “shittier feminist” as we call it. When I make a slightly sexist comment he’ll call me out on it in a second, finger pointing and everything. Of course, I do the same, and often when it’s not warranted, but either way it got me thinking.

I was first introduced to the topic of feminism this summer when I took a really awesome Gender in Film and Media class. I knew of the word feminist, but always shied away due to the negative connotations often associated, I didn’t want people to think I was man-hater or anything, I was just pro-equal rights. Well now that I have learned more about feminism and the history of the feminist movement, I am damn proud to call myself a feminist, and I encourage others to educate themselves on the topic as well.

Anyway, I flew home last night (YAY!) and today I went and saw Catching Fire, book two of the Hunger Games trilogy, with my family. It made me remember how much I fell in love with those books and also how much I want to be Jennifer Lawrence when I grow up (and not just so I can kiss Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth although that would definitely be a perk).

Hellooo Beautiful

But what made me originally not able to put those books down, was the presence of a very strong female character. For the first time in a long time, here was a hero in pop culture that I was able to relate to and identify with. She essentially saves herself in the first book by pretending to play the typical role of “girl in love” but we know and the antagonist of the book knows that she is much smarter than that, and only plays the part of a love interest in order to save her own skin. The character of Katniss must be physically strong and psychologically tough in order to endure the circumstances she is placed in, and this always shines through when she faces adversity. Sadly I feel like she is one of the few female characters in the movies who has these traits AND is the main character of the story. In one of my film classes we learned about this approach called the Bechdel Test. It’s very simple, if a movie can answer “yes” to these three straightforward questions, then it passes. They are…

  1. Does it have at least two women in it with names?
  2. Do they talk to each other?
  3. Do they talk to each other about something besides men?

An insane amount of movies do not pass this test for example…

The Dark Knight, Slumdog Millionaire, Citizen Kane, Lord of the Rings 1, 2 and 3,Ender’s Game, Gravity, Apocalypse Now, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Truman Show, Shrek, Bourne Identity, Transformers, Bruno, Ghostbusters, The Big Lebowski, Wanted, Ocean’s Twelve, Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2 and 3, Austin Powers 1, 2 and 3, Men in Black, Fight Club, The Princess Bride, The Wedding Singer, Shawshank Redemption, Reservoir Dogs, Indiana Jones, Alien 3, Mission Impossible, Toy Story, X Men, Wolverine, When Harry Met Sally, Back to the Future 1, 2 and 3, Tomb Raider, Pulp Fiction, Seven, Home Alone, Up… just to name a few…

Something to take into consideration is that just because a movie fails the test it does not mean that it is a” bad” movie. There are plenty of movies on that list that I like, and some of my all-time favorite movies would similarly fail. Even some feminist-y movies fail because simply the female characters never meet, which has nothing to do with the representation of women. On that note, it is also true that just because a movie passes the test does not mean that it’s a good movie. Sex and the City The Movie passes, along with other chick-flicks that most feminists avoid like the plague and personally make me want to gouge my eyes out.

Ultimately this test is just a method of examining the presence of women in cinema and their role in it. The questions of the test are so basic and rudimentary, it was shocking to me that so many movies fail. Hollywood is an industry dominated by men, but what high grossing industry isn’t? In the world we live in today where women get paid on average 19% less than men do for the exact same jobs, it shouldn’t have been so surprising that my gender is underrepresented in cinema. This test can also be altered to discuss the role other identities have in film, for example, change women to minorities, and men to white people, or women to LGBT folks and men to heterosexuals. I want to emphasize that this test says nothing about the quality of a movie, it just makes you stop and think about the ways all different types of people are shown throughout media. For me personally, it’s very thought provoking and I often find myself wishing to see characters more like me, something I’m sure a few people who also aren’t white, straight, men wish as well.

My apologies for the feminist rant, it’s just when I see things in the media that actually make women seem as capable and intelligent as men, it makes me quite happy, and The Hunger Games series does just that. When I said the world needs more Katnisses, what I really meant was the world needs more Suzanne Collinses (author of The Hunger Games); more women to create characters in pop culture that young girls and women alike can identify with and relate to as people, not objects. Female characters that are, “strong, independent, and don’t need no man”. The media is so powerful and so good at manipulating the public’s perspective that the more we can demonstrate women’s abilities through TV, film, and literature, the more likely it is that young girls will truly believe that they can be anything in life that they want to be. No matter what. And that sense of belief and self-confidence is more powerful than any man who ever tries to “put women in their place”. So girls, next time a man tells you to make him a sandwich, tell him to f#^k off and go watch The Hunger Games, then have your sandwich and eat it too. God knows, that’s what Jennifer Lawrence would do.

 

 

20 Signs That Jennifer Lawrence Is Your Spirit Animal

20 Signs That Jennifer Lawrence Is Your Spirit Animal

20 Signs That Jennifer Lawrence Is Your Spirit Animal

The 25 Best Jennifer Lawrence Quotes Of 2012

The 25 Best Jennifer Lawrence Quotes Of 2012

The 25 Best Jennifer Lawrence Quotes Of 2012

21 Times Jennifer Lawrence Totally Nailed The Whole Interview Thing

The 25 Best Jennifer Lawrence Quotes Of 2012

When she explained what a true artist was and redefined what it means to be an actress:

 

 

Here are just a few of the sites I got my stats from in case you think I’m lying or something, haha. Also I know I made some pretty bold statements in this post so if you disagree with anything I said I would seriously love to know why via comment! I’m definitely not an expert on anything and am always eager to learn about different points of view.

(I’m not putting these in MLA format because screw MLA format, here are the links)

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0650.pdf

http://www.feministfrequency.com/2009/12/the-bechdel-test-for-women-in-movies/

http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2009/01/26/10-industries-where-women-rule/