Hello everyone, Six Zero here with another installment of:
SIX QUESTIONS WITH MGOJEN
Inspired by the official site’s “Two Minute Drill” series and TomVH’s famous Q&A segments with potential recruits, this weekly feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
MGoBlog! A place where us Michigan men can swear and spit and burp and be the maize & blue hooligans we are, all without having to apologize for it to the women in our lives. However, it is not exclusively a brotherhood; Many women frequent the site as well, and knowingly put up with, if not partake in, the glory of our occasional immaturity, opinionated perspectives, and/or fart jokes. Of them all, certainly MGoJen is the most recognizable and likely the most infamous. I thought it
would be interesting to get a woman’s take on MGoBlog, and so you
can in this exclusive interview:
1. We all know the term and strive to prove others that we are all 'Michigan Men,' but you're proof that there is a feminine counterpart to the age-old model that Yost envisioned all those years ago. Since so many of us are utterly unfit to answer the question, tell us what it's like to be a woman who follows Michigan football.
It didn’t occur to me that it was so unique to be a chick who really loves Michigan football until people pointed it out to me. As I’ve mentioned several times before, most of my friends are guys, so I’ve never felt weird or out of place being around guys…in fact, I’m much more comfortable in a group of guys than girls. I think there are more similarities than differences between “Michigan Men” and “Michigan Women” than one would think. The most noticeable difference, I think, is that I get pretty irritated at girls who treat the Big House like it’s a photo shoot. You know who I’m talking about, too—the girls who show up 10 minutes into the first quarter, ask me to take 50 pictures of their girl group during the game as if I’m not paying attention and have nothing better to do than capture this amazing moment for them. These are the same girls that leave after said pictures have been taken or because it’s “too hot” or “too cold” or they’re “too hung over”. I don’t think everyone has to be a Michigan diehard, but I think if more chicks made an honest effort to understand and follow the game, they wouldn’t be so inclined to come for ten minutes/sell all of their tickets. Obviously this isn’t all chicks, but I would argue there are many who fall into this category—they’re missing out on an amazing experience.
Although you aren't the only non-male (alpha or otherwise) on the site, you clearly take the most heat for being 'the girl.' What's worse, fighting the stereotypical impression of "OMG, a girl that loves Michigan, I am in love" or "OMG, a girl that loves Michigan, get her out of our He-Man Woman Haters Club?"
Truthfully, sometimes I feel like I’m portrayed as the Elle Woods of MGoBlog, although I’m sure there are worse things. I think the most irritating thing about being “the girl” is the tendency of guys on the blog to presume things about me—I’m either really hot or really ugly, I go on the blog to meet men or that I’m for whatever reason promiscuous and am only into football because the players are soooo hot. At the end of the day it’s just the Internet and doesn’t really matter all that much, but I think there’s much more to me than what one can construe from my comments and posts. I think it’s perfectly acceptable and even exceptional that I can speak intelligently about both Troy Woolfolk and Tory Burch.
2. Hmm, I always thought of Chunkums as the Elle Woods of MGoBlog (KIDDING). I would think you must face an ongoing pressure to continually prove yourself to some of the more diehard followers among us. How do you convince the rest of us that you really do follow the team and aren't just in it for the eye candy known as Renaldo Sagesse?
I am most certainly not above admitting that I find certain players attractive (it occurred to me that I’m treading MGoCougar territory when I realized I was in first grade when Tate was born. Ummm…) I don’t think I’ll ever break any amazing insider news, and although I wish I had the steel trap memory that is seemingly required to become a Recruitnik, I don’t think that’s in the cards for me either. Even though I’m kind of insecure about my inability to diagram a Cover-2 defense, I think the fact that I share the most fundamental emotion with other MGoBloggers—a genuine, undying passion for all things Michigan—I’ll never need to prove my fandom with stats and scores. (One of my favorite things about the blog is that I learn so much about players, recruits and nuances of the game from people that know much, much more about these things than I ever will.)
I think we can all say that. And, unlike some of the more shady/sulky types on the blog, you seem to truly be a person who wears her heart on her sleeve/keyboard. For better or for worse, how is that received on MGoBlog?
I think that with me, for better or worse, what you see is what you get. I don’t type or post anything I wouldn’t say to you in person. I really tend to use <3s a lot when I type and text (shout out to the WLA for their epic MGoGwen post! I still have a friend that addresses all of his e-mails to me, “HEY GWEN! <3”) I really am a vegetarian who thinks eating meat is mean to animals, I really enjoy baking cookies for absolutely everyone and I truly love and believe in the city of Detroit—its resilience, its promise and its potential. I’m completely and overwhelmingly optimistic—almost to a fault—and am a very friendly and open person who is genuinely interested in people and their story. I think a lot of that gets misconstrued on MGoBlog as naivety, flirtation or general air headedness when it isn’t at all accurate and obviously not my intent. I’ve actually been through and seen a lot in life, and have come out on the other side…I think that’s why I am as positive as I am. That said, my offer to bake cookies for a future MGoTailgate still stands! (I perfected a chocolate chip (regular, not white) macadamia nut cookie recipe a few months ago. They are awesome.)
3. You seem to do a lot of (what I assume is work-related) travelling. How do you represent the University of Michigan on the road? Any interesting UM-related stories from your journeys?
Ah yes, travelling. It’s actually not my favorite thing in the entire world, but I’m definitely blessed in that I’ve gotten to experience some very cool cities. I will absolutely only travel in M gear—usually an MGoShirt or jersey.
I’m really friendly and talk to pretty much everyone (shocking, I know!) so it’s not uncommon for me to have conversations about Michigan with strangers that come up to me to comment on my M gear. Last fall when a colleague and I visited the National Museum of American History, a guy in an OSU shirt and hat who was chaperoning a group of children shouted, “Forcier sucks!” at me. (I was wearing a “May The Forcier Be With You” shirt.) A few weeks ago I was getting my stuff together after having gone through security in Philly when an older guy told me he loved my “The ability to destroy planets is insignificant…” shirt with Darth Vader in the middle. I replied, “Thanks! Go Blue!” but I don’t think he understood that my shirt was Michigan-related at all. He ignored my response and went on and on for about three minutes about how awesome Star Wars is and how those are movies from “[his] generation”. I politely agreed and went about my way.
Undoubtedly, my favorite travel story was not for work at all but for the 2007 Rose Bowl. My friends were flying in from different cities, so I flew in by myself and had a stopover in Dallas the evening of December 31st. Because I was on my way to the freakin’ Rose Bowl, I was “M’ed out” from head to toe and even had my game day face tattoos on. I had an hour to kill in the Dallas airport so I sat down in the waiting area outside my gate with a Diet Coke. Lo and behold, sitting a couple chairs down from me were none other than Jim Brandstatter and James Hall. I was really surprised to see them there! I was super nervous and excited, but decided I had to go up to them. Amidst my apprehension, this was the best I could come up with: “Aren’t you on Michigan Replay?” (Really? Of all the things Jim Brandstatter has accomplished I bring up Michigan Replay? Who says that? Haha!) He was super nice about it and said, “Well, why yes I am, young lady. Are you headed to the Rose Bowl?”
Jim Brandstatter was much more talkative and approachable than James Hall who remained relatively quiet and focused on his phone. They explained that they were in Dallas for the Lions game and were on their way to the Rose Bowl, too. I got a picture with them in front of our gate which is to this day up in my office—it’s of me in between James and Jim. Right before we boarded, Jim said he’d be happy to sign something for me. Neither of us had a pen or marker and we had to board, so I figured my Jim Brandstatter autograph opportunity had surely passed me by. Moments before takeoff, a flight attendant asked me what my name is and brought over a piece of paper someone wanted me to have. Sure enough, it was Jim Brandstatter’s boarding pass with, “To Jenny—GO BLUE!” and his autograph. That was the best flight ever.
4. Without divulging too much information, can you describe what you do for a living? And what do you like to do for fun on your own time?
I’m a clinical research coordinator at an urban health disparities research center. We run clinical trials and other research projects that focus on deconstructing, understanding and ultimately developing possible solutions to the comprehensive problems associated with urban health disparities. We approach these problems from a multi-faceted perspective that encompasses the implications of psychosocial, socioeconomic and environmental effects on health. While the work is often quite exigent, I also find it immensely rewarding. Working with the underserved has absolutely changed my life, and while the primary focus of my work is running trials and research projects, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes advocacy work that goes along with it. It’s difficult and at times completely emotionally draining (when one of my patients gets really sick or when I come across a situation that I truly cannot help, I still cry in my car on the way home), but when I get giant hugs and beautiful hand-made cards and phone calls on holidays from former participants, my heart swells. There’s no greater feeling in the world than knowing you were able to make a positive impact on someone’s life. I’m truly blessed to be able to do something I love so much.
I don’t have a ton of free time, but I love reading and have a book-buying problem (I have more books than I’ll ever realistically be able to read and still can’t stop buying them.) My favorite topics are urban poverty, the Civil Rights Movement and the history of Detroit. I love music and go to concerts with my friends whenever I get the chance. When my friends and I go out, there will undoubtedly be dancing and there may even be karaoke. Aside from all of that, the cardio kickboxing class at my local Lifetime is definitely my anger-management activity—it keeps me sane and centered.
Sane is good, and the fact that you need violent exercise to keep it intact is something most of us guys can probably appreciate. Describe the perfect meal.
The perfect meal—hmm. So I’ve been told several times that I eat like a kid. My family, boyfriend and I went to Easter Day brunch at the Gandy Dancer one year and I was inadvertently picking food from the “kids table”. (Who eats tator tots at the Gandy Dancer? This girl!) My boyfriend pointed this out to me and thought it was hilarious. I’m just not a quiche kinda girl and I’m not sure I’ll ever be. I’m totally at peace with that.
I can’t think of any one perfect meal at any one restaurant, but I can tell you what my favorite things are! I love fresh green bell peppers just cut up and plain (they’re amazing, I eat them daily!) The Jet’s Pizza version of cheesey breadsticks (Jet Bread!) is also awesome. I love fattoush salads from pretty much anywhere and there’s a better than even chance that at any given time, I have a Diet Coke with me. My favorite smoothie ever was called the Orange Shooter—we used to get them at the Café Connexion (sp?) in South Quad. The grilled cheese at the Redhawk Grille in Ann Arbor is the best ever.
5. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I guess the simple answer is that I’m a Michigan fan because I don’t know how not to be. It’s truly become part of my soul, and consequently one of the most important parts of my life. Unlike many if not most other diehards, I don’t have an epic story about how I went to my first game at age eleven or saw Desmond on TV and have been in love ever since. In fact, I actually disliked all things Michigan and only bought season tickets my sophomore year (the 2003 season) after my boyfriend forced me to. I didn’t even buy my first Michigan t-shirt until minutes before the first game of the ’03 season. (FTR, I currently have over 30 Michigan shirts the last time I checked. It’s obviously an issue but I seriously can’t stop buying them.) I didn’t understand why everyone was so…into it. After all, it was just a school, and Saturdays were for trips to Briarwood. (See? This is how I know people have a tremendous capacity for change!)
That season, I remember falling a little more in love with the whole experience with each game. Of course I didn’t at all understand football (embarrassing, I know) so I had to completely start from scratch. I learned the cheers and when to be loud and quiet (sorry for accidently cheering as loud as possible while we were on offense those first few games of the ’03 season L) and started picking up on the ins and outs of the game. Before I knew it, I fell in love with Braylon Edwards, Chris Perry and Jason Avant—not as in “OMG they’re sooo cute!” but as in, “Holy crap, how did Braylon just jump that high…and catch that ball…with one hand?” I was kind of in awe of the whole situation. And then came The Game. By the end of the season, I was totally in love with Michigan football—and the ’03 OSU game sealed the deal for me. While I was essentially a newcomer to the Maize and Blue, I rushed the field with my friends and several hundred other students and felt the biggest rush I had ever felt in my life. I knew then that I was part of something so much larger than myself—I was hooked. I went to the Rose Bowl a few weeks later with the boys and have never looked back.
We go to movies because we want to laugh, cry and feel the same thing 50 other people are feeling. We want to share that with them. I think we go to Michigan football games for the same reason—to share that experience with 109,900 people. Moreover, I think on some level this is what makes MGoBlog so amazing and such an important part of our lives (for those of us who are obviously addicted.) My friends and I drove to Champaign/Chicago for the Illinois game last fall and I was so upset, so angry after that loss that I refused to go out with the boys later that night. I sat in our super fancy (and super cheap, Priceline FTW!) hotel suite with my laptop, a 40 of Bud Light and carryout from The Cheesecake Factory and read MGoBlog. I cried and screamed and dissected the game with my diehard friends during the long drive from Champaign to Chicago, but at the end of the day found this ridiculous amount of comfort/solace in kitten pictures and threads about what everyone was drinking/eating to forget about what just happened. (I recall it being a strange combination of hard whiskey and Halloween candy.) I think Michigan Football and MGoBlog could very well be studies in human nature. We’re all much more alike than we are different, and being able to post something and have thirty people say, “Yeah dude, I know exactly what that’s like…” is really, really comforting in a world that is anything but stable.
6. Dude. Finally, the staple last question-- who's your all-time favorite Wolverine?
While I have adored many, my Wolverine has been and will always be #20, Mike Hart. I fell in love with how hard he played, how much he cared and how crucial his presence was to the spirit of the team. He ran so hard on every down, even when he was battling injury. I also love that he was never afraid to tell everyone exactly what was on his mind, even when it made people uncomfortable. So there’s a bit of a story behind this in that my whole adoring Mike Hart bit came full circle about a month ago at Braylon’s charity hoops game. My love for Mike Hart was no secret while I was still in school—I absolutely adored him. The big joke among my friends was that everyone—I mean EVERYONE seemed to run into Mike Hart at random places—the IM building, on State Street, at some party, etc.,—but I never spotted him once. I got texts from my friends at least twice a week about a Mike Hart sighting. I’ll never forget when I got a text one early morning from my brother (then a Michigan Sophomore) that he was at a cheerleader party with Mike Hart. I was less than sober and to make a long story short, never made it to meet him. So I graduated in ’06 and still never got my chance to meet Mike Hart. My brother bought me an authentic Nike #20 away jersey for Christmas one year, and I’ve had that hanging in my bedroom (along with a framed poster of the Michigan Daily cover from November 24th, 2003 with the headline, “A Rose For ‘U’”, among other things) ever since.
Fast forward to Braylon’s charity hoops game—when I found out Mike Hart was confirmed to be there, I totally freaked out. A couple things came up that Saturday and I actually didn’t think I would be able to make it to the game. At the very last minute I ended up going with one of my friends. My friend made me bring my #20 jersey even though I had never worn it. At half time, I literally walked around the court to Mike Hart’s side (he was a coach) as he was talking to fans hanging out on that side of the court. I waited until he was free, and when he turned to me and said, “Hey, how ya’ doin’?” I thought I was going to burst out crying. I played it totally cool (and still have no idea how I maintained my composure.) I literally said, “OH MY GOD YOU’RE MIKE HART!” And he smiled and said, “Yes I am, what’s your name?” I shook his hand and said, “You’re my favorite Wolverine OF ALL TIME!” He kind of chuckled and asked, “Really?” with this weird, kind of surprised look on his face. He was so humble. I said, “I have to hug you!” so I hugged him, and he was totally cool about it. I thanked him for being “the most amazing player ever” and I also specifically thanked him for the infamous Little Brother meme. I told him we’re going to come back this year and prove once again why State’s our little brother. He agreed, smiled and asked me if I wanted him to sign my jersey. I told him I didn’t have a marker, so he turned to the people gathered around and asked for one. Some kid only had a silver one and he wanted a black one, so MH literally went around asking who had a black marker. I tried for years to meet him, and all of a sudden Mike Hart was searching for a marker to sign my jersey. He signed it on the front in the middle of the “0” in 20. That was one of the best moments of my entire life. The now autographed #20 Nike authentic jersey is back to hanging in my room; full circle indeed. <3
Imagine, gentlemen, that you loved food (yes, big stretch, I’m sure), and you also loved cooking. Perhaps you loved it enough to take a class to become better, or perhaps to learn tips and tricks from other chefs, or just because you liked the whole pasttime of cooking and wanted to be a part of it.
So you get to the class, and of course it’s populated entirely with women. Yes, the eighth-grade pervert part of your brain suddenly cackles with glee—but before you can cycle through your best lines, you realize that they’re all looking at you. They’re sizing you up, some of them with an unfairly premature look of contempt. They’re judging you.
And pretty much all of them agree that you know absolutely nothing about the culinary arts.
Over the next few classes, you get mixed responses from the women of your cooking class. Some of them openly want you to leave, some of them straight out ignore you like the plague, and a few of them seem too unfriendly, probably because they just desperately need a man—any man. Either way, you quickly learn that YOU are the outsider. This is their place, and you are only allowed here by their lukewarm grace. If you are to stay, it is implied and generally understood that it will be according to their terms.
As the course progresses, you find your place, knowing who to avoid and who to REALLY avoid, the ones that think you’re only here to spread your seed and that any man who can cook would automatically love a woman like her. But you do enjoy the cooking, and you make some friends, and you tolerate all of their jokes and jabs. You let them call you the caveman with the back hair. You let them refer to you as the one with the testicles. You then listen to them talk for hours on end about testicles, all in your company and without any concern about your feelings, or the fact that you’re trying to make meatballs the whole time.
And no matter how well your spaghetti turns out, you find yourself incessantly having to prove your merits again and again.
In other words… Dude, girls read this blog too.
They don’t want to paint the site pink and talk about Tate’s butt—they just want to be treated with a certain amount of respect. You don’t have to explain every facet of the game to them, you don’t have to defend their honor, and you shouldn’t assume that because they’re into Michigan football that they’ll be into you.
You also don’t have to apologize for yourself. They should know what they’re getting themselves into when they sign up for this. This IS a brotherhood, a boys club by nature, but the blog-- a football blog for football fans-- is welcome for one and all. Those who come aboard must understand and accept it for what it is, and if they find it offensive, they are also welcome to leave. If they can put up with our hooliganism, then they should be treated as equals.
Unless they’re trolls. Then we should unleash Barwis-level pain on them without mercy. I think that goes without saying.
Only a few more weeks left before MGoProfile breaks for the season. I’ll see you all next week for another edition!