12 Steps to Build Better Oscar Bait

Among film critics, “oscar-bait” is a derisive term applied to films that pander to Oscar voters. Now of course not all Oscar-nominated films have all these elements. Plenty of winners draw outside the lines. Films that break this mold are, in my opinion, the best of the crop. Bong Joon-ho’s wildly original, dystopian visions rightlyContinue reading “12 Steps to Build Better Oscar Bait”

Feminist Literary Criticism: The First Hundred Years

Feminist literary theory posits that gender is socially constructed rather than biologically determined. For example, why in Western cultures do we associate pink with femininity and blue with masculinity? Why do we assume that men have an instinct to protect and defend while women have instincts to nurture and “mother” children (there is no biologicalContinue reading “Feminist Literary Criticism: The First Hundred Years”

The First Steps of Exposure Therapy

The men who attacked me were trying to make me small. They wanted to keep me quiet. I was a reminder to them that strength knows no gender, and neither does intelligence. Regardless of their race, orientation, age, and class, they all shared a contempt for women. They resented any woman they perceived as “withholding”Continue reading “The First Steps of Exposure Therapy”

Spring Semester Scandal at My MFA

CONTENT WARNING Now that I’ve finished my literary theory class, it’s on to the next course in my Accessible MFA: a fiction seminar. Full disclosure, I copied a lot of this from novelist Lily Hoang’s syllabus, which she generously shared on HTML Giant. Of course I chose my own textbooks, set up my own schedule,Continue reading “Spring Semester Scandal at My MFA”

Sexual Assault and the Slow Erosion of Self-Efficacy

Impact statements have revealed the many self-defeating, destructive lessons that sexual assault taught me. In the ten years between 16 and 26, I survived four sexual assaults. The assailants were a high school classmate, a man ten years older than I was who hired me as his English tutor, and my own father. At 20,Continue reading “Sexual Assault and the Slow Erosion of Self-Efficacy”

Why Safe Communities for Artists Matter

When I began my Accessible MFA last fall, I had two reasons. First, chronic migraines limit my functionality to the point that sometimes I can’t work for days, weeks, or even months. Keeping up with graduate-level coursework and meeting weekly deadlines is no longer possible. Second, I can’t afford it. With the struggle to workContinue reading “Why Safe Communities for Artists Matter”

Trauma Stuck Points

Between my twelfth and thirteenth birthdays, I became a different person. At 12, I was still skipping down the corridors at school, shouting jokes to friends. I was the kid who helped new students adjust. Who tutored classmates when they fell behind in spelling. I was generous, boisterous, and fun-loving. I was also boastful, cocksure.Continue reading “Trauma Stuck Points”

Writing the Impact Statement

Pine needles drop from branches out my window. First, they grow brittle, fading from green to ochre. Then, all it takes is a breeze, and they let go. They swirl up into the air and settle into gutters. They pepper the shingles with orange. I used to think the only way to heal from theContinue reading “Writing the Impact Statement”

Life Goes On: Trauma Revisited

TRIGGER WARNING So I don’t talk much about trauma on this blog anymore. And you know what? It’s a relief. I started to face the abuse and assaults I survived when I was 25. Last month I turned 39. I’ve been at this 14 years. And I don’t expect it’s a journey that’s ever reallyContinue reading “Life Goes On: Trauma Revisited”

Why I’m Loving the Enneagram

Personality psychology, several of my college professors asserted, is the least scientific branch of psychology. And I get it. There are about as many models for personality as there are models of cars. It’s also a field where, like the study of intelligence, it can be hard to come up with reliable evidence. Results tendContinue reading “Why I’m Loving the Enneagram”