Do the Unexpected

GoFundMeBy some miracle, I have an unconditional offer of acceptance to the University of Dundee, which is near the central-east coast of Scotland! The problem is, with the cost of tuition, wheelchair-accessible living [on or off campus], caregiving, disability accommodation, transportation, and daily necessities, accepting the offer of a Part-Time Writing Practice and Study MLitt will only happen  in my unconscious.    Please help make this dream come true!

My name is Marlise, and I am first-and-foremost a creative writer; then a loving sister, daughter, and friend; then a liberal, active US citizen; then a television-and-film enthusiast; and then a human being irreversibly changed by the recessive genetic disease, Friedreich’s Ataxia.

Summer 2011, I graduated from highschool and finally agreed to make the switch from a manual wheelchair to a motorized wheelchair. In fall 2011, I began my undergraduate journey at Western Washington University. When I moved into the dorms, I had never felt more normal. Five years later (because I learned outside of the necessities for a while, and because math was one of the requirements), I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a minor in film studies.

Hopefully in fall 2018, I will begin my graduate journey at The University of Dundee, where I would be in their creative writing program. I plan to further tune my writing to introduce more disability-representation to every genre of creative writing. At the moment, in fact, I am solitarily writing a television show featuring a main character with a physical disability, as well as several other members of minorities. Another current project of mine is a fantasy novel.

For tuition, wheelchair-accessible housing and living, I am asking for your help. For an opportunity seldom available or pursued by severely disabled people, I require assistance. I would be extraordinarily grateful, on top of everything else that I am unspeakably grateful for, if you, reader, donate to my future endeavor of graduate school!

PROGRAM: Writing Practice and Study MLitt Part-time

A.     Tuition: for both years = GBP16450 ($21,412.13)
B.     Room and board and incidentals (on campus): GBP8000 ($11,200)/year ($11,200)
C.     Cost of caregivers 7 hours a day at ~GBP15/hr: ~GBP750/wk.  (NHS calculator for Glasgow estimates £37,000 ($51,595)/ year. This assumes hiring is possible with gaps in time)
D.     Cost of accommodations (notetakers, scribes, testing, etc.): ~GBP25/hr, ~GBP150/wk, estimated at GBP6750 ($9414)/yr
E.     Travel to Dundee (to and from):
a.     August 2018 with accompanying person $1600 RT each for flight to Edinburgh via NYC = $3200
b.     One visit home during school year (optional): $3200

Total (Without return expenses and medical expenses): $90,509
Revenue in UK:
A.     SSI                          0
B.     DSHS/Medicaid    0
C.     GET funds             $5,000?
D.     GoFundMe            ?
E.     Scholarships         ?                                  
(Probably 0, though: UK/EU scholarships (I have EU citizenship) or those with disabilities are almost all limited to those EU citizens who have had an EU address for the past three years, and the vast majority of US scholarships are only for US schools.)
F.     Other                     ? 


I have a GoFundMe (, or you can contact me about donating independently. :)))


BeautyAtBI am no stranger to planned hospital visits. Unplanned visits, however, have happened maybe 5 times in my 23 years. My fifth [or possibly sixth] started last month and ended last week. Not long at all, considering all the people in the world. But for me, whose first goal in life is to not let my limitations tie me down, being stuck anywhere for any length of time tests both my patience and my sanity.
It all would’ve been so much better if I could’ve opened the window or just gone outside for a while each day. In the first building I stayed in, they said they had the windows sealed shut because too many people opened them and jumped out. I was given no time-frame to place this fact inside of or outside of, and I still can’t decide if the ambiguity of time makes it better or worse. The last building had a courtyard that required the doctor’s permission to visit, which irked me so much that I almost went there of my own accord, but I am my mother’s daughter (i.e., I follow the rules). I have too much pride to ask anyone if I can go in a gated courtyard, so I never did. I did, however, use my whopping 4 hours a week to leave the premises. One of those times I met some friends at a nearby cinema, and we saw Beauty and the Beast (2017).
We joked afterward that I, trapped inside the hospital, was like Belle trapped inside the beast’s clutches, and I expressed the beginning of this thought: not just in the hospital but in life, I am not free at all, not by Belle’s definition or my own. Of course, for Belle, the beast’s clutches were not nearly as bad as they seemed at first, and I highly doubt most people grow to enjoy a hospital or fall in love in a hospital after any length of time spent in said hospital. No, my life and most recent unplanned hospital visit is more reminiscent of Belle’s “provincial life” (Ashman 1991) in her small, culturally traditional village. Her life before the beast is void of love and excitement, save for her strong relationship with her father and the stories in her books.
My own “provincial life,” unfortunately, is due in large part to my lack of bravery. But you know, the main 4 characters in The Wizard of Oz were missing one thing: conviction of free will.
And I believe in free will, not destiny.
Ergo, I must believe that in order to get something done, one just has to do that something.

So…what am I waiting for?

Until next time,

Some of My Favorite Stories and Their Writers (Updated as Life Goes On)



  • Fun Home (2006 by Alison Bechdel
  • The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in A Changing World (2016) by Douglas Abrams, Desmond Tutu, and the 14th Dalai Lama
  • The Flower Fairies of the Autumn (1926) by Cicely Mary Barker
  • The Book Thief (2005) by Markus Zusak
  • Sammy Keyes series (1998-2014) by Wendelin Van Draanen
  • The Gemma Doyle Trilogy (2003-2007) by Libba Bray
  • Wonder (2012) by RJ Palacio




  • The Shape of Water (2017) by Guillermo del Toro
  • Harold and Maude (1971) by Colin Higgins
  • Shakespeare in Love (1998) by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask
  • Murder in the First: Season 2 (2015) by Eric Lodal, Robert Munic, Daniele Nathanson, Jonathan Abrahams, and Alison Cross
  • Cafe de Flore (2011) by Jean-Marc Vallee
  • The Princess Bride (1987) by William Goldman
  • The Dressmaker (2015) by Jocelyn Moorhouse



  • “River” by Joni Mitchell (Blue 1971)
  • “The Lighthouse’s Tale” by Nickel Creek (Nickel Creek 2010)
  • “Giants in the Sky” by Stephen Sondheim (Into the Woods 1986)
  • “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John (Madman Across the River 1971)
  • “Pompeii” by Bastille (Bad Blood 2013)
  • “Not Alone” by Darren Criss (A Very Potter Musical 2009/Human 2010)
  • “I’ll be Good” by Jaymes Young (Habits of My Heart 2014)



  • Pygmalion (1913) by George Bernard Shaw
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch (1998) John Cameron Mitchell
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016) by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
  • Waiting for Godot (1953) by Samuel Beckett
  • Cinderella (1957) by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers
  • Into the Woods (1986) by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim


Until I watch, listen, or read another favorite,


Let’s Talk About Minorities/My Daily Coping Mechanism

Since I was 19 or 20, [perhaps directly related to starting to watch Rupaul’s Drag Race,] I have reminded myself every day, most earnestly at my low points, of the simple fact that I am not alone….This seems too basic, right? It’s actually a multi-step process, but for me it’s fast, easy, and effortless now. If I grew up with the mindset I’ve gained because of this way that I choose to view humanity, I’m pretty sure I would’ve been a far kinder, fairer, more reflective and considerate person years ago.

  1. Think about how you identify. For example, I am a wheelchair-bound woman in her early twenties.
  2. Think about all the people who share your circumstances, whether you know them or not.
  3. There are so many minorities. Instead of narrowing that to define yourself or part of yourself and others, broaden it. Stretch it until the minority is a decimal of a single percent away from the majority, then until the majority and the minority have melded into one population.
  4. And so you are the opposite of alone; you are connected. Everyone shares something, whether it be a feeling or a person or belief, ability, sexuality, gender, ease, color, love, lust, experience, loss, or anything else. Every way that we differ doesn’t change the fact that we do share something. Without minorities, the significance, but not the existence, of labels has lessened.

People who say that labels shouldn’t exist haven’t given labels enough thought. I would define generic labels as self-identifying tattoos. We don’t have to get them in an easily exposed location, but they’re still there. I haven’t yet met a person who doesn’t comfortably wear at least one self-identifying tattoo.

And no matter how you identify, try to remember that the one tattoo that you share with everybody is that of a human being.


Until next time,


Review: Trevor Noah’s “Afraid of the Dark”

TrevorNoah_aotdThis weekend I watched Trevor Noah’s stand-up special, “Afraid of the Dark.” I have very little credibility as far as comedic writing goes, but I do have a degree in creative writing under my belt, neighboring a pretty solid appreciation of stand-up comedy. Consequently, this review will focus on the art of storytelling, some basic style-choices of stand-up, and personal connection.

Blessedly bypassing the tacky intro-skit most stand-up shows have, it begins smoothly with his New York story, followed by memories he has of a couple black Americans. Both stories serve not only as a little introduction to Trevor, but also to Trevor in America. His cross-cultural wit always seems [in all his shows] to be a rather intimate side of his humor, and so revealing of his character. And his character, even in the oft-comparable slew of popular stand-up comedians, is refreshingly unique.

He then pays loving homage to Eddie Izzard with an amazing bit about British colonialism. Throughout the show, he continuously puts on very skillful accents, and now he whips out a couple to demonstrate the ridiculousness that is colonialism. This part in particular made me think that he could totally make all of his stand-up specials into a series given the recurring title, It’s Funny Cuz It’s True. Regardless, Trevor’s words contain a refreshing note of authenticity that make it impossible to ignore the truth; so we laugh, our defenses loosening, and simultaneously we nod, feeling sad and regretful and defensive. It’s an amazing contradiction—a response I’ve never shared with anyone else, famous or not.

After a little spiel about the importance of traveling, he shares an epiphany he had about Scotland, (“a country where they speak no English” XD), and James Bond. I have no qualms with James Bond, and have seen them all growing up with my brothers, but I wouldn’t call myself a fan, and still, this skit was SO FUNNY! Seriously, how do you make geography lessons, (because basically, that’s what it was ;), so entertaining?! Still set in Scotland, doing stand-up shows there, he tells about an experience he had, resulting in his ethos and logos concerning the female body. I dearly hope that his good sense teaches many a viewer a thing or two.

Then he muses on how one’s tone of voice can affect his/her future and others’ perceptions of her/him. To demonstrate this idea, he explains how [the silly side] of his imagination pictures the Obama-Mandela meeting. The whole bit is interesting, moving, adorable and a riot. It’s made me consider how truly incomprehensible the extent of our power is, even of people like me, who don’t have full control over much of their body.

Segueing beautifully, he slides into a piece on accents, and how native speakers interpret their language being molded by an accent. Growing up in two families made up in part with foreigners, but not being multi-lingual/accented myself, I feel very close to the issue. And accents/languages, which are nearly as bewildering to me as they are familiar, do not change anything about a person. Just wanted to reiterate that, in case anyone doesn’t watch/understand Trevor.


Now that I’m done with my informal analysis, let me just say that I thought the special was hilarious. The humor was smart and thought-provoking, and it almost always exaggerated just enough. Conversations/pantomimes were always clear. My favorite one of these was in his “wee little” story, where the conversation emerged between himself and his body. I have [silent] conversations with my body all the time, which made it even more hysterical and awesome. My final general note: I have nothing against swearing or most curse words. My favorite—damn—is debatably a curse word, and even it I barely use. In comedy, stand-up included, I hardly ever think swearing adds humor. Maybe Trevor shares this belief, but whatever the reason, he didn’t swear! Well, not really. The two possibly inappropriate words that he used either are used in society or were used by him so colloquially that I’m not sure they could be bad. But still. Thank you, Trevor, for giving everybody’s ears a break. And for your sense of humor. And for sharing.


Until next time,



I WATCHED IT Talk: Girl Meets World


For the past three years, whenever Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World puts a season on Netflix, I have eaten it up with fascinated and adoring eyes. Now, obviously this fact doesn’t embarrass me, because I’m making it public on my personal website, but still. I’m curious if I’m alone in this.

It’s good at its job, which is being a moral-ridden, serial comedy aimed at kids 12 and younger, but it is predictably a less-than-remarkable kids’ television program. That said, I do think it is considerably better than Suite Life or Hannah Montana. I’d say it’s on par with Full House and Fairly Oddparents and Melissa and Joey. It’s not nearly as funny, smart, or as subtle as Spongebob Squarepants, or as abstractly humorous as Adventure Time.

If I have not managed to make it evident, I know my kids’ television of the young, playful/comedic genre. I not only know it, but I really enjoy it. However, I have seldom watched a show as rapturously or enjoyed one as wholeheartedly as I do  Girl Meets World. There are two possible reasons for this that I have thought of, but that certainly does not mean that I would refuse to accept others.

Possibility #1: I don’t really like to apply this reasoning to anything, because I strongly believe that most, if not every, reaction in life has roots; nevertheless, I cannot deny that I might be so fond of Girl Meets World because the problems that it explores draw my attention from bigger problems that surround me. They are still problems, I know– problems that hold significance in many a young life, but they are usually simple and easily-solved problems, and ones in the world and my country and my family and my life are not. Ergo…Everyone deserves a getaway, right?
Possibility #2: This potential reason strikes me as more likely than #1 to explain my motivation for loving Girl Meets World, but it also strikes me as a potential overanalysis. My strong attraction to this show could be related to a deep longing for a nostalgia that I lack. In other words, I might be drawn to some of what I missed out on in my young life. I walked, talked, and generally moved like I was steadily becoming more drunk since I was 7, and finally succumbed to a wheelchair in February of 8th grade. Girl Meets World covers 7th-9th grade so far, and the 2-6 main characters have common problems from personal life, family life, and school. Some of the problems I can relate to, like moving states away from where you grew up, but I have secondhand or no experience with the vast majority of the dilemmas shown. And maybe I am masochistically eager/curious to know what I missed; maybe I am reminiscent of the life I should’ve led.


Considering that I am twenty-three years old, I’m convinced that loving a Disney Channel show is not typical. Despite this belief, I will not stop watching and loving Girl Meets World.


Until next time,


Review/Rant: The Chronos Files’ Timebound Trilogy

timebound-trilogyLast night, I finished the Timebound trilogy, the beginning of The Chronos Files series by Rysa Walker. I figuratively patted myself on the shoulder for crying just a moderate, silent amount during the goodbye scene at the end.

First of all, I unblinkingly commend Rysa Walker for keeping so many timelines separate and yet also selectively together in the spiderweb of time travel. I wonder if Walker foresaw the constitutional tears being made by the Trump administration, or if she drew from facts about world history and the human psyche to form the pro -nationalist and       -religious debacle within the trilogy.

My main problem with the books was the weird love-triangle. The triangle never should’ve existed! I can understand how the random initial meeting of Kate and Trey could be perceived as perfect, and also how the implicit trust evident in both versions of their love stories could be sweet, but believable? Not so much. I also see how Kate and Kiernan’s initial meeting at an inappropriate time in their lives could be perceived as wrong, and how their timeless, aggravated love story could be hot, but true love? Not so much.

The book’s central, first-person Kate deserves so much more than a man who’s not really in love with her  (Kiernan), and a romance with Trey that seemed as genuine the second time around. Kate is such a kind and smart and witty girl who, like most teenage narrators of young-adult books, is way too clever and considerate to be a realistic teenager; nevertheless, I can imagine men of all ages and backgrounds falling for her. She’s pretty perfect. Rather than Kiernan, she should’ve found her own past-soulmate, not just Other Kate’s sloppy seconds! And she and Trey maybe shouldn’t have been quite so random or quite so trusting. Like, maybe he could’ve been Connor’s assistant, so he would’ve already known everything!

Okay, yes, I’m aware that I’m getting very emphatic (i.e., loony) about this. My only defense is that I always get really attached to books’ first-person characters. Hell, I even got emotionally tied to the narrator of Markus Zusak’s The Book Theif!

So anyway, Walker’s Timebound trilogy is definitely worth reading. I suppose it fits the sci-fi genre, although I’ve never been a fan of sci-fi, so don’t be deterred by that, if you’re not a fan either.


Until next time,