Spring Break Part One: Chicago

As many of you know, spring break season is upon us and like many college students, I am doing my best to escape campus for the week. With that ambition in mind, Sam, Taycia, and I packed up the green KIA and made the 401 mile trek from Middlebrook Hall to Vivian’s house in Illinois. Our fearless leader and careful driver, Taycia, after a full day of classes drove the entire way down stopping only to go to McDonald’s and get gas. That is what I call dedication. After jamming for close to seven hours to SPRANG BREAK 2K16, we made it to Vivian’s adorable little house a little after midnight to spend the next two days in and around Chicago. We crammed as much into those two days as possible and it was the best possible way for us to start to Spring Break 2016.

We spent our first full day in Chicago wondering around various areas outside of Chicago. We got kind of a late start because of who we are as people. After a brunch made entirely of breakfast foods, we went to Vivian’s favorite place to get her nails done, where she is known by name. We all got our nails painted various pastels while listening to a soccer mom talk about her son and later trying to get the imitation down. Vivian lead us around Oakbrook and some suburban malls where we all got to explore a bunch of stores I had never even heard of, including Pirch where we never thought Taycia would leave.  We ate dinner in Naperville later that night after everyone finished their homework and changed. Naperville is one of the cutest places I have ever been in my entire life, by the way. I would have pictures of all the lights in the trees but alas, every picture I took was bad. Oh well, a hundred bad ones for one good one. I’ll get better.

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Our departure time for Saturday was 9:30 am, so naturally we left at 10:15 for Chinatown. Sam and I got to try Dim Sum for the first time at a restaurant called Phoenix. Vivian and Taycia guided us in choosing the right dumplings and supported me in my efforts to use chopsticks correctly. I had so much fun and I am so thankful for the opportunity to experience new things with some of my best friends. Chinatown itself was super cool too, even though I only got to see a little bit.IMG_2043.JPG

The weather was foggy and chilly so maybe it wasn’t exactly ideal for walking around, but that is exactly what we did. It was more than perfect for pictures so I won’t complain. After Vivian found us a parking spot, we took off to walk the Magnificent Mile, stopping several times before we reached the Water Tower for coffee. After we visited places like Dylan’s, Tiffany’s. Zara, and T.J. Maxx, we wandered over to Millennium Park to visit the famous Bean. We had to do at least one super touristy thing before we left and we only had half the day left. I, being the middle-aged photographer mom that I am, brought out the camera and took as many pictures as I could. All of which will be on my Instagram (@Exploringengler ) in about a week. They will thank me one day for my incessant photography.

We had a little bit of time before we had to make it to the restaurant for dinner, so the rest of the group let me have my fun and we all made the trek over to REI. Inspired by Cheryl Strayed and awed by the size of the building, I spent quite a bit of time walking up and down the stairs before I even started to look for what I came for. It does not take much for me to get distracted, especially in stores (looking at you Barnes and Noble). I finally found my chalk bag, a water bottle, and a hat, and also a clip, sticker, and a membership. What can I say? I was enthralled.

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We ended the night Saturday by dancing to our playlist and eating lots of fruit, no better way to end the weekend. My weekend with these girls was more than I could ever ask for. A year ago, I didn’t even know this people and now I can’t imagine life without them, thank goodness we will live together next year. Vivian and her parents were such amazing hosts and we are so grateful for everything they did for us while we were staying with them.

Keep an eye out for Spring Break Part 2: Lost In Milwaukee.

 

Get Outside Your Bubble

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I know, I know, I talk a lot about the WAM Collective. To be fair, it is a really big part of my life right now and a lot of my really amazing experiences have been brought to me because of my involvement with this student group. I am so grateful to be a part of it and if you couldn’t tell, this is going to be another post about an amazing event presented by the WAM Collective.

Last Friday, I attended the Wing Young Huie workshop We Are The Other; Get Outside Your Bubble. For the first hour we listened to Wing talk about his experiences as a photographer and as a minority in Minnesota. While sitting silently during a few  of the discussion questions that involved the audience, I realized something that made me kind of upset. While there were many people there of different sexes, ages, and backgrounds, the people I noticed speaking up the most were the few middle aged white males. So many times I wanted to scream “THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU!!!!!” and I know I wasn’t the only one who felt this why, the young man I was paired up with thought the same thing. This workshop discussed identity and photography and where we fit in with everyone else, on campus, in Minnesota and in the world. I felt like the old white men were trying to take the positions of power that they so often hold, and I was kind of mad about it.

I discussed this anger while I was paired up with a young Korean man and we talked about when we did and didn’t feel the right to be angry was appropriate. Because I am white, I don’t know when it’s okay for me to voice my anger at other white people because their racism doesn’t directly affect me. He said he had the same issue with feminism, and that surprised me because women love it when men are feminists. Comparing the two struggles seemed to make sense because we both really want to make sure everyone is being treated fairly.  Sometimes we don’t know where to safely stand and maybe being safe is the problem. Maybe if I stood up on a chair and yelled at the old white guys to let someone else speak, maybe then I would be a good activist. But I didn’t and I’m not, at least not yet, I will eventually reach the point where I know what I should say and do, but I don’t yet, not in activism, or college, or life. But attending events like these will only help me, and others,  figure out where they fit best to help others and I think that is super important and fundamental to understanding the struggles of the world around us. I know America is not equal yet, but I do think it is possible and I think dialogue is the best way to start. So as upset as I was at those few old white guys that kept raising their hands with all the minorities, I shouldn’t be. They need to be a part of the discussion as anyone else, at least to realize what is going on outside their own bubble.

On that note, if anyone wants to have this discussion with me, I would really enjoy starting our own dialogue. I have so much to learn.

Taking pictures of students around campus was the most fun and least important part of the workshop. We let the students pick what questions they wanted from a list and got them talking. Once they were talking we had them write down a thought (related or not) and we would photograph them. I had a really fun time working with my partner, who was a media student) and speaking to other students I may never have spoken to otherwise.

I really enjoyed this workshop and everything it opened me up to, I think trying to view life from different perspectives is only ever a good thing, and everything the WAM Collective offers is worth your time.

Guerrilla Girls and Glow in the Dark Yoga

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You may be asking yourselves what the Guerrilla Girls have in common with Glow in the Dark Yoga. To your surprise, these events have more in common than just taking place on the same night and beginning with the letter G. They also happen to be the result of getting involved with activities your school offers. College, and life, is full of new opportunities and I stress the importance of getting involved and taking advantage of all that the world has to offer you. Guerrilla Girls was made known to me by the student group I am a part of, The WAM Collective, and I heard about the Glow Yoga through the Recreation and Wellness center. Both of these have made a huge difference in my freshman year at college, but before I go into that I want to tell you all just a little about the experiences themselves instead of preaching to you what every school counselor will tell you.

The Guerrilla Girl panel was a panel of artists from diverse backgrounds and two founding Guerrillas and they answered questions and talked about their experiences. It was an amazing experience as a young female, artist, and feminist. Hearing some experiences that these distinguished women had to face is so unbelievably comforting, because if they can endure all this sexism and discrimination, anyone can. With that being said, no one should have to go through any of that, but it’s better to know you are not alone in this. One thing I heard over and over during the panel was that we are “near equality” and “it ends with us.” Every generation of women who fought before us did it so us, the generations that came after wouldn’t have to fight. Every women stood up for herself and her sisters in hopes that their children wouldn’t have to and yet here we are. The concept of near equality is still so present in so many places, it’s clear to see when people say ridiculous things like ‘racism is over’. It obviously is not and if someone believes it is then that is just their excuse not to fight for equality anymore. It makes me irate.

I am unbelievably excited to see what else the Guerrilla Girls bring to town this week. Since I will be going to see them again on Saturday, it’s highly probable that I would be able to keep you updated.

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I thought it would be impossible to follow up the Guerrilla Girls with something better. But I went to Glow Yoga, Glowga if you will, fueled by feminist rage, and I was proved wrong. My partner in crime, Sam, and I made the trek to the RecWell at 9pm for the late night yoga sculpt class with my favorite teacher. Although both of of were exhausted afterwords, we both got a great workout in and had more fun than we had all week, and it was so worth it.

I want to wrap up with a little bit more about getting involved with groups and places on campus. Coming to a college where I didn’t know anyone was a huge change, way different than Bloomer, and going out of my way to meet new people was something I really felt that I needed to do. Obviously, I have made more than enough high quality friends here, but I definitely wouldn’t have as many without these awesome resources for students. The WAM Collective is already like a second family to me and I’ve only really been a part of it since January and last semester, going to Kelsey’s yoga sculpt class on Mondays was the best way to start my week. It doesn’t matter weather you go to college with everyone you’ve known since kindergarten or without a single person you know. Getting involved with groups you are really interested can really widen your circle and that’s what college is for. Now go get outside your comfort zone, I promise it’s fun.

No Such Thing As Bad Weather

As February is now over it seems like an appropriate time for an update on some New Year’s Resolutions of mine. My main goal was (and is) to have more experiences than things.  I’m really trying to get out and see what this world has to offer me, which is appropriate for a person my age because as I am deciding who I am I think it’s important for the world around me to have an impact. This has been such a mild winter, and I have had many opportunities to get outside  and enjoy it. I am so glad I love all the seasons, but I feel like the winter doesn’t get as much love as summer so this is a winter appreciation post.IMG_1891Bloomer, WI:

I have been attempting to organize a ski trip since I got back to school, unfortunately, this has not worked out no matter how many different plans we made. At least every time we change our plans we end up doing something equally as fun. For our weekend in Bloomer, we spent the day teaching Vivian to ice skate followed by a few runs down the sledding hill. Instead of teaching her to ski at Christie Mountain. As it turns out, Galentine’s Day (Feb. 13), is the perfect day to get out on the ice because no one else was, aside from those twelve year old boys who tried to hit on us. All of us needed some practice after being away from the rink for so long and needed our space to figure out how to move again.We stayed out on the ice for a long time and Vivian really got the hang of it. When we could no longer feel our feet, we traded our rental ice skates for our plastic sleds and moved on to the golf course hill.  IMG_1890

We all took the plummet down the icy hill and honestly, it could have gone better, but it also could have gone much worse. We went one at a time and down the different sides of the hill, but as it turns out, no side is safe.Vivian and Autumn escaped with few wounds, but Sam and I suffered a more unfortunate fate. Sam, after sliding under a fairly large pine tree, suffered some needle puncture wounds, and I had the experience of going over the jump backwards and on accident. Although we were sore, it was nothing some hot chocolate and some dry clothes couldn’t cure.

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My relentlessness to get us out of the dorms combined with an intense need for a study break lead us to Minnehaha Falls the weekend after we returned from Wisconsin. We got outside in the beautiful weather, had a ton of fun, and only suffered minor injuries from slipping down the hills. You know, the way any college student wants to spend their weekend. Minnehaha was so beautiful, both the weather and the falls, I immediately loved it. It was such a good experience and I can’t believe that it took me a whole semester to finally take the light rail to go see it. Even though, the weather was heating up and the falls were starting to melt a little, it was still climbable and we all scrambled up the side of the hill to walk around behind the falls. It was quite the afternoon, the only thing missing was Sam, who was obviously with us in spirit.

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We are always so happy to spend our weekends out and about and with each other. The soaking wet shoes and the $1.75 light rail fare is a small price to pay for an amazing afternoon with a group of people I couldn’t imagine college without. I am so grateful for this amazing bunch of people who put up with all of my plans and expeditions.