STD Convention: The Untold Story

You might’ve seen in the Almanian (on the second page) that six members of the International English Honor Society traveled to Portland, Oregon, for the Sigma Tau Delta Convention. I was one of those six women that traveled 19 hours via van, train, subway, max rail, and plane, to make it to a swanky hotel filled with 800 English majors, all ready to present their papers.

Before I left, I was approached by a staff writer for the Almanian and this question was posed to me: When you found out that your work had been accepted, what did you do?

Of course, they quoted me saying that I squealed and waved my arms around and danced around my room and then called my parents and cried.

I’m one of those people. I’m not ashamed.

But the point was, the six of us (Alice Richard ’13, Maggie Heeschen ’14, Christina Rann ’14, Erika Schnepp ’13, Kelsey Blades ’14 and, well, me) went to Portland to talk about Shakespeare, The Little Mermaid (not the movie), Beowulf, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and to share our original poetry.

This is the story not told in the Almanian.

First of all, we should mention that the International English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, is STD. Believe me, we know. We were headed to STD Convention. The seven of us embarked on a great journey to the mystical land of Portland, ready for STD Convention, whose Twitter name is @EnglishCon, not @STDCon. For good reason. I entered the Twitter contest, so if you follow me and suddenly wondered why I had nearly 200 tweets with @EnglishCon in them, that would be what happened.

Our first day in Portland was spent touring the city. If you don’t know anything about Portland, Oregon, know this: it is a town of hipsters. While walking to Portland’s famous doughnut shop, we saw a large bike group of hippies passing out flyers to help fight pollution. We found an organic sandwich shop where we had lunch and where we were hit on by the guy taking orders. We wandered around and took hundreds of pictures, debated which Starbucks to go to (there was seriously one on every corner) and somehow ended up at Portland State University in the middle of the night. We ventured to Powel’s Books, the biggest bookstore in the entire world, where I promptly got lost and couldn’t find the elevator. I spent way more money there than I could afford. But when you’re an English major in the biggest bookstore ever, you have to buy something.

When we were not traversing the city (normally with Erika and Christina taking turns pushing me in the hotel’s stolen wheelchair) we were sitting in on convention panels. I was presenting my original poetry portfolio, hunting whales (the lack of capitalization is a tribute to e. e. cummings), and there were four other students in my panel. The critical papers had panels of four students. We all tried to attend each other’s panels and we spent each morning scanning the long, thick program that we had gotten upon arrival to see which panels looked interesting. We sat in on original fiction titled Coping Mechanisms, Erika and I went to a poetry workshop, Christina and I attended a keynote speaker who talked about authors that used bacon as bookmarks, and I fell in love with a beat poet who wrote about gender fluidity.

We met English majors like us in crowded elevators. We learned a lot about each other, our respective fields (poetry, Shakespeare, modern American playwrights, Anglo-Saxon literature, etc.) and we discovered exactly how many people across the country are as crazy as we are about the English major. I met a Phi Sigma Sigma girl who knew a Gamma Phi Beta girl in Colorado, and we met a really nice guy named Chris who goes to Western Michigan University, writes poetry, plays guitar, and might be, in fact, perfect.

The convention ended with a huge gala dinner that everyone dressed up for, and while I was eating fancy dessert and hoping that I didn’t get chocolate on my dress, I really took in the idea that every single college student in this room was like me; an English major with original work that had been accepted to this prestigious convention and who was trying to make something of themselves. Every single person at that gala dinner had something to say, had something to write about, and wanted to change the world through the beautiful field of English.

Next year’s convention is in Savannah, Georgia, and is ’20s themed. You better believe that I’ll be submitting something and going. And hopefully I won’t be required to use a wheelchair.

For your enjoyment, here is a nice picture of me. In the stolen wheelchair.

Emily with a dinosaur in Portland

I’m not sure why I have a dinosaur. But I do.

The Vagina Monologues Are Here!

I’ve realized that I’ve taken a bit of haitus. It’s in my job description to write a blog for you wonderful people once a week, and this semester, I definitely have not been up to that standard.

Life happens.

It also means that opportunities happen. And one of my life happenings happens to be a wonderful opportunity.

Picture this if you will: I’m walking back to my room after a grueling Tuesday of Renaissance Literature, Teaching Literacy, and English Critical Theory, and I come upon none other than Josh Zeitler ’14. He walks straight up to me and he says, “Hey Emily! You’re a really good writer and I know that you like to talk about your vagina.”

Why yes, Josh. Please continue.

What came from this conversation was this: would I like to be in the Vagina Monologues?

Before I go any further, I should probably explain what the Vagina Monologues is.

The Vagina Monologues is a play written by Eve Ensler, who interviewed nearly 200 women from ages 5 to 80-ish about their vaginas, asking such questions as, If your vagina got dressed up, what would it wear? What would it say? She compiled these women’s compelling stories of laughter, love, pain, anguish, anger, and wonderment into a play. There are numerous monologues told, vagina happy facts, and vagina not-so-happy facts.

Each monologue is a part of a script. I had plans to audition, but you know, life happens.

Josh asked me if I would like to write my own monologue and to be the student spotlight.

I frantically called my mother and told her that I was writing my own vagina story. I told her that she absolutely had to drive up from Indiana to see me. Her response was, “You want me to drive three hours so I can hear you talk about your vagina?”

Yes, Mom, that is exactly what I’m saying.

It’s been an incredible experience, writing a monologue about a piece of my anatomy that so many people think is vulgar. And this is the point of the Monologues, to explain that vaginas are a natural part of human anatomy, that women have them, that women use them, and that they are incredible. It was truly fantastic being able to write about my own and to take it to Elizabeth Wayne ’13, who is directing the show. We spent a fair amount of time making it shorter (once I start talking, I can NEVER stop, even if it’s about my vagina) and we practiced memorizing it and how it was going to sound. I now officially have a spot in the show.

Whether you’re generally interested in my own vagina story or whether you even have a vagina or not, I highly encourage you to attend Alma’s show. It’s THIS Friday and Saturday at eight, and Sunday at three in Dow L1. It also costs $3. I know that we’re broke college students, but all proceeds go to Women’s Aid services and to RAINN, Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. Besides seeing an excellent show that will empower women AND men, you’ll be helping out women in need on a national level.

So what are you waiting for? Save those dates, grab your friends, and come be empowered.

I know that I’m empowered. And so is every student in the cast. We want to see your faces. We want you to feel empowered too.