O Angelina

A Girl and Her Dog: Living, Loving, & Enjoying the Little Things


How I Figured Out I'm a Basic White Girl

Charlotte, Living Well, ThankfulAngelina OberdanComment

So I've been thinking a lot about basic white girls and what it means to be one. 

Honestly, I've spent much of my life trying to be anything except basic, and now I've accepted it. Why? Because basic white girls have power. (And this is going to be a whole series of blogs.)

It all started last fall, when we made crab legs to support Clemson's football game against FSU (wink, if you get the joke). My friends asked me to pick up salad and beer. I threw on Hudson jeans, my favorite Clemson shirt, and my Rainbows, and headed to the grocery store. Here's what I grabbed: 

  • Spring Mix
  • Blue berries
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Roasted sunflower seeds
  • Goat cheese
  • Low-fat poppy seed dressing
  • Pumpkin spice beer (two six packs from different breweries)

And that's when I realized that I am a basic white girl. And Buzzfeed confirmed it

I can actually hear my father cringe; he never wanted me to be a YUPPIE! And now, I am just that: a twenty-something young, urban, professional. Who yuppies were in the 90s, basic white girls are now. (Obviously our society is so sexist, we haven't actually come up with a yuppie-man name.) 

So why am I accepting this? Why not rebel and get a few more tattoos (right, basic white girls are loving tattoos)? 

The truth is simple; basic white girls have power. We are a strong and smart target market, and there are a lot of us. And let me just say that again, we are smart. And that's the thing, being basic white girl doesn't define who I am or what I wear/buy/own/drive/Instagram. It's the inverse. I define basic white girl by what I do.

So for all you other basic white girls out there reading this blog or another one: own it, bitches. 

Don't Curl Up On Your Couch: How to Deal with Professional Criticism

Thankful, TeachingAngelina OberdanComment

A week or so ago, I was with a group of other professors, and we were discussing our Myers-Briggs Personality types. I am an ISFJ or introverted, sensing, feeling, and judging. My personality type is not good at accepting criticism. However, somehow I've found a way, professionally, to cope with it. 

Please note that this does not mean I'm good at accepting criticism in my personal life, just ask Dan. 


I've picked up some skills along the way from working with people who are really good at giving professional criticism and people who are not. I’ve learned a lot from both of them. I also was in an MFA program for poetry, so I learned how to detach myself from my work. Detaching yourself from your work (especially if you love your job like I do) is difficult, but it will help. 


1. Coping with Unconstructive Professional Criticism

I am not as good at accepting professional criticism if it's not given in an effective manner. Maybe it’s because I’m a communications teacher, maybe not. I do tend to attack how my critic phrased his/her criticism. So yes, after receiving unconstructive criticism, I give myself some time to stew.

Then I try to figure out if the person is looking out for my best interest or the best interest of my students.

  • If they're not looking out for my best interests or the best interests of my students, then nothing about their criticism was healthy, and I try to let it go.

  • If my critic is looking out for me or my students (either or both), I try to ask for examples of where my performance was lacking and how I could improve it. Often I think I’m doing what someone has pointed out that I’m not, so I need more explanation about where/how my work is lacking. This doesn’t always go so well because the conversation was negative to begin with, but I try to be humble and say thank you a lot.

In general, when I start feeling personally hurt by criticism, I remind myself that it’s not personal, and then I reminded myself of everything I’ve done correctly. 

2. Coping with Constructive Professional Criticism 

Coping with constructive criticism is so much easier because usually they do have my best interests in mind. Also, it takes less energy to accept an idea than it does to reject it. But here are some of the things I do when I’m going into a review.

  • I come prepared with what I think are my own weaknesses, and I ask questions about them.
  • I try to complement my reviewer, by saying something like, “Hey, you’re really good at…. How can I do that better?
  • I try to say, “yes,” during the conversation more than I say, “no.”
  • I think practically and ask questions like, “So if I do X, do you think it will help with Y?”

I always take the criticism as a positive challenge, and I tell myself that if they’re looking for me to improve in one way, I can also show them how I excel in another.

Some of the things I do when I give criticism are:

I try to keep it in perspective: “This term…,” “On this paper,” Often you’re giving criticism on what is a very small part of a person’s life; it might feel like everything, but it’s really not.

I keep it very healthy and professional, and I use many of the same things that help me have healthy critical discussions into my criticism. So I might say, “I noticed that you’re strength is X, let’s try to make Y just as strong.” I have a boss who starts everything review by giving a compliment; I walked into my first review with her, and she said, “You are such a great teacher!” There’s nothing better than that. I try to do even with my failing students: “You are so good at ….”

John Gottman said something like, “Try to have 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction.” He was talking about marriage, but I think it applies to all of our relationships. If that’s how you build your professional relationships, people will naturally accept your criticism. 

I hope that helps! I highly recommend reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, because it helped me learn to be more positive in all of my interactions and not to let those critical (self-critical and judging) aspects of my personal turn into negative traits. 

Post-Apocalyptic YA Trilogies with Rockin' Heroines

ReadingAngelina OberdanComment

Okay, okay, we've all read The Hunger Games by now, but have you noticed the recent influx of post-apocalyptic YA trilogies with badass heroines, especially in The Hunger Games, the Pure Trilogy, and the Divergent Series

I just began reading the third book of the Pure Trilogy by Julianna Baggott, and I am once again thrilled by the strength of her heroine, Pressia. Sure, in all of these books, there are a few things that the feminist in me objects to (Trice is always so worried about pleasing Four in Veronica Roth's Divergent Series), but all in all, these are solid female role models. 

And I look at my undergraduate students today, and I'm convinced these heroines have come just at the right time. Young women are a mess, as I was, and I wish that I could save them all. Maybe I can't, but these heroines are promising. 

Katniss Everdeen

  • Her history- Katniss comes from District 12, a mining town set somewhere like Appalachia (and filmed there). Attached to the memory of her father who died in a traumatic mining accident, she illegally hunts outside of district boundaries to make sure her sister and mother are well fed. Personally, I like Katniss's history best because this (minus the post-apocalyptic dystopia) is the story my Barbies pretended: a tomboy heroine, dead but exalted father, emotionally absent mother, and dependent sibling.
  • Her motivation- Katniss is motivated by her inherent care to protect the innocent, especially her sister or anyone who reminds her of her sister. This is probably because she had to grow up quickly when her father was killed in a tragic mining accident and her mother became too depressed to care for Katniss and her sister. Because of her desire to protect her sister, Katniss volunteers for the Games, through which she is motivated to overthrow the government, which established the innocent-killing annual Games to keep the people submissive and obedient.
  • Her character- As a part of the Games, Katniss becomes a celebrity and is continuously threatened by the manipulative government and media of her society. Rather than let herself be manipulated or be used to manipulate others, Katniss bluntly remains genuine. Her character is only conflicted when her ability to protect the innocent and her genuity are at odds. 
  • Young women are too easily manipulated or to freely manipulative; as a role model Katniss inspires not only resourcefulness but also determination to remain genuine and good (even if the odds aren't in her favor).

Beatrice "Trice" Prior

  • Her history- Trice grew up in Abnegation, a faction of her community which taught her to be self-less, but, in comparison to her parents and her brother, Caleb, Trice always felt a little too rambunctious and selfish to meet the expectations of her factor. Readers meet her at age 16 when she chooses a new faction: the dauntless. 
  • Her motivation- Trice is motivated to be dauntless and fit in with her new faction. And even though she switches factions, she is motivated by the memory of her good and dedicated parents. 
  • Her character- Trice constantly struggles between being taking a stand and being selfless and in all situations she ultimately chooses selflessness. Also, when Trice is faced with difficult situations she reminds herself that because she is unique, she can think of a way out that others might not have considered.
  • Trice is incredibly resourceful, like Katniss, and her confidence comes from that. Too many young women don't have confidence in their unique talents like Trice does. From her, they can learn to trust themselves and their individuality. 

Pressia Belze

  • Her history- (This is the most complicated history to tell because so much is revealed at the end of the first book!) Pressia is a girl who was outside of the Dome when the Detonations happened. Those outside of the Dome, the Fused, melded with whatever they were near; in Pressia's case, she has a dollhead-hand that was fused to her in the explosion. Pressia grows up with her Grandfather, and she has an affinity for making small things out of metal. 
  • Her motivation- Pressia is initially motivated by surviving her 16th when she is supposed to report to the OSR, the governing army, which is just really good at killing all its members in training. Eventually Pressia's motivation changes, and she starts to work toward creating a better society for all of the Fused. 
  • Her character- Like the others, Pressia is always trying to do the right this, to fight for the greater good. Like Katniss and Trice, Pressia is a very strong young woman, but she as not as easily motivated by her suspected love for Bradwell.
  • Pressia's persistent ingenuity is more inspiring than either Katniss's genuine personality and Trice's confidence. Pressia is, of course, a worthy heroine, but she is never aware of it. Too many young women are focused on tangibly and immediate goals. They can learn from Pressia both how to survive and how to save the world. 

So stop worrying about the reviews the Divergent movie got at the box office and start reading Pure. 

"I want to be your dog's tail"

Angelina OberdanComment

In Catherine Bowman's "I Want to Be Your Shoebox," she riffs on the relationships she want to have with the speaker, including my favorites: "I want to be your biscuits" and "I want to be your dog's tail."    

So that's what this blog is about; it's a riff on everything I am. Maybe it's a catch-all that includes pet-lover topics, cooking experiments, frugal tips, and anything else that comes to mind.

I also hope that it has something to do with social responsibility or just plain-ole-being-a-good-person. When I was in Turkey last summer, I saw written on elementary school stairs, "Be Tolerant and Be Grateful." This blog is about being a good human--one who is tolerant and compassionate, finds joy in all things, acts gratefully, happy as a dog's tail.