Staying Positive

boston

I would just like to take this opportunity to say that my heart goes out to everyone in Boston, and everyone affected (which I think is all of us).

As a citizen of America, and a citizen of this world, I feel obliged to write a small post about the tragedy that struck Boston today.  I’m going to try and not focus on the negatives of the situation, because I know a majority of what I’m seeing on the internet and the news are bloody videos from the scene of the finish line, death and injury tolls, and anecdotes from stirred witnesses.  The facts are important to follow, but in order for me to hold my mental and emotional stability in times like these, I focus on the positives.

Incidents like these bring us all together – it’s horribly cliché, but true.  I’m trying to focus on how many courageous policemen, and even onlookers, raced toward the injured to help them.  There are images floating around the internet of the bloody injuries caused today, and although it may be wrong, it helps me to picture people running to help someone, rather than a man with his bones sticking out of his blown-off legs…

On Twitter, there are some people already tweeting, blaming certain people of certain races for the bombing.  This is ignorance, and I don’t know if it’s better to ignore it until it goes away, or to give them the attention they’re asking for.  I’m choosing to ignore these people, and instead focus on the positive tweets I’m seeing: Countless number of people offering their prayers to Boston, Bostonians saying they’re alright, and tweets about sticking together as one in these dark times.

In addition to grieving for those lost and injured today, I’m also so very thankful that the loved ones that I have in Boston are okay.  It’s hard to think positive, but it’s necessary to survive in the world today.

Times like these also make me feel guilty.  People are pointing out that explosions like these happen in other countries every day.  I just read that almost 40 people were killed today in Iraq, yet #PrayForIraq isn’t trending on Twitter.  The fact that people in other parts of the world live in constant terror 24 hours a day, 7 days a week makes me sick to my stomach.  It also makes me sick that we don’t realize that these things are happening.  Can you imagine if we had attacks like this every month? Every week? Every day?

This is where positivity needs to kick in.  It’s no way to live, constantly dwelling on these kinds of events.  It’s important to be educated on what happens, even if American news doesn’t shine much light on the suffering of other countries.  I’d like to add in this post that my heart goes out to everyone in Boston, Iraq, and everywhere else in the world where tragedies are happening.

P.S. If you are wondering how you can help Boston, here’s a link:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/15/17765837-boston-bombing-aftermath-how-you-can-help?lite

P.P.S. If you are in need of some positive vibes, follow @amandapalmer on Twitter.  Her tweets have been helping me stay positive today.

Our Constant Need to Feel Connected

connected

As humans, I think most of us feel the need to be in the company of others.  These days, even if you are physically alone, you’re not really alone.  Technology such as cellphones, tablets, and laptops allow us to communicate with others at all times, whether it’s by phone calls, social networks, or forums on the internet.  We don’t spend nearly enough time, if any, truly alone.  Yet, this “connection” to the world makes us feel even more distant from ourselves.

I’ll admit it: I have a slight addiction to social media and technology.  I find myself constantly refreshing my Twitter feed when I’m on my iPhone.  Every time I get a new notification on Instagram, I instantly check it to see what someone said about one of my uploaded photos.  I have over 200 Facebook friends on the internet, but only a handful of close friends in real life; yet I still feel the constant need to refresh my newsfeed and get an update on these strangers’ lives.  Do these impulses make me feel any better? They do for a split second when I get an adrenaline rush, wondering what new statuses, tweets, or comments I’ll see.  After that, I just feel like I’m wasting my time.

Wasting my time is exactly what I’m doing.  I’ve just been noticing lately how addicted to technology I really am.  Since I’ve grown up in the age of technology, I don’t know how to entertain myself when I’m alone, so I resort to dawdling on my iPhone.  Even when I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is check my phone.  I feel the need to always be connected to others, and I’m not quite sure why.

What I do know is that I want to break free from this dependence.  Before I got a smartphone, I spent more alone time alone with no distractions.  I took the time to sit in isolation and read a book,  listen to an album, or sit and just ponder my thoughts.  These days, I check my phone every five minutes, or I open up my laptop and go online.  Technology is restricting me from both going out and living my life, and from feeling at peace with myself.  I’m glad I’m finally starting to realize what so many others aren’t, and I am excited to break free from technology and discover my true self.

My proposal for myself is that I’m going to attempt to use technology less.  Instead of waking up in the morning to my Facebook feed, I’d much rather look out my window and watch the sunrise.  When I’m in public alone, I’ll read a book instead of texting my friends about mindless gossip.  I am going to become comfortable with being alone – physically and technologically – and disconnected from the world.

Feminism, NOW, and Care Net: What’s What?

(From The Campus Lantern – February 7, 2013)

I am an e-board member of a feminist club on campus, the National Organization for Women (NOW).  Whenever I tell people about the club, I feel like they get scared at the mention of the word “feminist.”  For some reason, the word has a negative connotation.  People seem to think all feminists are raging lesbians who hate men and worship Satan.

I asked a few of my classmates to tell me the first thing that came to mind when I said the word “feminism.”  The exact answers I received were: girl power, women’s rights movement, bitchy lesbian, and equal pay.  According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.”  Feminism is simply equality.  It doesn’t have to be raging lesbians who refuse to shave their body hair or angry women who burn their bras.  Feminists can fit these stereotypes, but no feminist that I know is this extreme.

As a feminist, I play my part by being a member of NOW, discussing women’s rights issues, and thinking of ways to make a difference.  For example, there is an issue in America currently with abortion.  Some Americans think that the country should be pro-life, meaning that abortions should be illegal.  I, as well as most feminists, am pro-choice.  The government, which is dominated by males (for example, according to wcffoundation.org, women hold only 17% of the seats in Congress), has no right to rule what a woman does with her body.  Eastern’s NOW is taking action against this issue by rallying at Care Net on Main Street in Willimantic in the spring.  According to Care Net’s website, they are “committed to empowering individuals to make informed choices.”  They claim to help females “be sure of” their “options and find some real solutions before” their decisions are made.  However, on their website, their “Abortion Education” tab is very one-sided: their information provided makes abortion seem less like an option and more like a dangerous procedure that should not be taken into consideration.  Their website includes only negative topics relating to abortion, such as “Abortion and Breast Cancer,” claiming that having an abortion might cause breast cancer since “carrying a pregnancy to full term gives a measure of protection against breast cancer.”  This is ludicrous information and action has to be taken against Care Net.

If you are interested in feminism and equality, join the National Organization for Women chapter on campus.  Meetings are Thursdays at five o’clock in the Student Center in room 107.  As a club, we have big things planned for this semester, and if you want to be a part of the feminist movement, come to the next meeting!

GQ Magazine Thinks They Can Belittle Women

(From The Campus Lantern – January 24, 2013)

GQ recently published an article that degrades and humiliates women. The magazine, which focuses on men’s style, fashion and culture, released a countdown entitled “The 100 Sexiest Women of the Millennium” (shine.yahoo.com).  The fact that editors of the magazine categorized who they thought were the most attractive women of the last millennium sickens me.  Lists like GQ’s degrade women, and make it seem like being a woman is a contest of who is most appealing to males.  Women are not just eye-candy for men, they are strong individuals.  Women need to stand together to ignore what these sick males think of them, and rise above their level.

The magazine even dared to make borderline racist categories in the list.  One category was “Hottest Pregnant Sri Lankan,” with singer M.I.A. taking the cake.  Another one was “Hottest Chinese Chick,” which actress Zhang Ziyi won.  These categories infer that these women are only beautiful in their own race, yet if they were compared to the “typical” American female, they would be less attractive.  It’s fishy to me that Beyoncé was crowned Miss Millennium, and not Miss African American Millennium (shine.yahoo.com).  Don’t get me wrong, Beyoncé is a gorgeous, talented woman, but she is also a well-known American pop-star.  The females listed in the ethnic-ridden categories are lesser known than Beyoncé, so their placements in the countdown makes it seem like they are less attractive and taken less seriously because of their races.  The article is bad enough, but the subcategories are downright offensive.

I went to the magazine website, www.gq.com, to peer my own eyes upon this atrocious list.  On the side of the webpage was another article written for the magazine entitled, “Thanks for the Mammaries: The Best Breasts of 2012.”  To some this title may be humorous; to some the pictures of the boobs in the article might be sexy; to me, everything about this article, and GQ, is disrespectful and disgusting.  The magazine focuses on women as sex-figures, not human beings.  Why can’t a men’s style, fashion and culture magazine actually focus on those subjects?  Posting pictures of nude women in your articles has nothing to do with helping men be more stylish, fashionable, or cultural.  The magazine, in my opinion, encourages males to be disrespectful and look down upon women.  I don’t know how the editors of this magazine can sleep at night, knowing that they are publishing such an unmoral magazine.  It appalls me that any human, let alone woman (because there are some women on the staff of the magazine), would work daily to publish this magazine.  It is most likely that the magazine is published for the entertainment of male chauvinists, and that it’s not meant to offend anyone.  Well, I am offended, as any intelligent, independent woman should be.

Behind the Scenes at “The Campus Lantern”

(From The Campus Lantern – December 6, 2012)

The Campus Lantern is a club at Eastern Connecticut State University that publishes a biweekly newspaper that has been in print since 1945.  The newspaper staff consists of seven paid positions, four assistant editors, over 20 staff writers, and occasional contributors.  The newspaper itself consists of four main sections: News, Opinion, Arts & Entertainment, and Sports.  Occasionally the paper has the Expressions section, a Letter to the Editor Section, or full-page ads.  This is background knowledge that many readers already have about the Campus Lantern.  However, I will give you a behind-the-scenes look at how the Lantern is published, how meetings are run, and interviews from the Editor-in-Chief herself.

The publishing process of the newspaper takes a few days from start to finish.  The articles, which must be between 400 and 600 words, are written by the staff writers and assistant editors.  They must be emailed to the Section Editors by Saturday afternoon.  From Saturday through Wednesday, the Lantern Editors work diligently to correct any grammar or content errors in the articles.  The newspaper is then formatted into its digital layout, which is sent to the publisher, the Willimantic Chronicle, on Wednesday evening.  The following morning, hard-copies of the newspapers are delivered back to Eastern.  Thursday and Friday all staff members must deliver papers to every building on campus.  The Campus Lantern staff works together to make the newspaper a reliable news source for the Willimantic community and Eastern campus.

Ashley Kus, the Editor-in-Chief, has been writing for the Lantern since the spring semester of her freshman year.  This was her first year as Editor-in-Chief.  According to Kus, the best aspect of the Campus Lantern is the group of editors this year.  They “get along better than any of the former editors and all have lots of experience with the Lantern.”  A quote that Ashley mentions quite often in meetings is, “Expect the unexpected.”  Some hardships with the Lantern, she admits, are that sometimes the articles are not submitted in time, and “the whole publishing process is rushed.”  Ashley is a hard-working, respectable Editor-in-Chief and will be missed when she graduates from Eastern in Spring 2013.

Campus Lantern meetings, which are led by Kus, are held on Wednesdays at 3:00 PM on the lower level of the Student Center.  (Next semester they will be held at the same time, but in Room 301 of the Science Building.)  Each week after publication, the editors go over highlighted articles from each section of the paper.  The editors give the writers constructive criticism on their article; the writers give the editors constructive criticism as well.  Sometimes helpful workshops are held by the editors that are intended to help the writers improve.  Staff writers brainstorm and share ideas for articles for the next issue of the paper.  Finally, the week before publication, articles are peer-edited.  Occasionally a guest speaks to the club.  This semester, the ex-photographer for the Times Magazine spoke to the members about which skills are needed to work in the field of communications. If the club seems interesting, come to a meeting and see the action first-hand.

Lazy Americans Don’t Vote

(From The Campus Lantern – November 8, 2012)

This last Tuesday, November 6, was Election Day in the United States.  For some Americans, this was the most important day since the previous election in 2008.  For others, Tuesday was just like any other day.  Every U.S. citizen has the legal right to vote in the presidential election, so why didn’t some citizens take advantage of this right?

One of the understandable excuses for not voting on Tuesday was Hurricane Sandy, which swept through the East Coast a little over two weeks ago.  According to cbsnews.com, an estimated 54 million Americans were affected by the hurricane.  Of these 54 million Americans, not all of them were drastically affected.  Those who lost power for a week should have still voted.  Those who were without cable for a while should have still voted.  Those who had a tree branch blocking their driveway for a few days should have still voted.  However, those Americans that were seriously affected by Sandy, including the death of a loved one or the destruction of their home, cannot be criticized for not voting.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 64% of Americans voted in the 2008 presidential election, and it is likely that that statistic was about the same for this election.  There are many American citizens who didn’t vote simply because they were lazy.  I’ve heard so many unjustifiable excuses: “I didn’t have enough time on Tuesday; I didn’t research the candidates, so I wasn’t sure who to vote for; I didn’t register to vote on time.”  If needed, you could have asked to leave work early or to go into work late in order to cast your vote – however, that wasn’t necessary since the polls were open from 6:00 AM till 8:00 PM on Tuesday, and it is very rare that workers have 14-hour-days (ballotpedia.org).  There is no excuse for not researching the candidates.  There were countless numbers of news articles, interviews, and radio shows on each candidate.  There were also four presidential debates – you could have watched at least one.  American citizens had four years to register to vote, and the deadline was five days before the primary (sots.ct.gov).  I find it hard to believe that anyone had no time in the past four years to register to vote.  People who didn’t vote because of these reasons are indolent and disappointing as U.S. citizens.

It is an American citizen’s duty to vote.  Citizens who didn’t vote should not complain about things they think the president does “wrong.”  Citizens who didn’t vote should not criticize the president’s policies.  Citizens who didn’t vote need to realize that every vote really does count, and that they could have made the difference if they had put in the effort on Tuesday.  In 2016, I hope that less citizens decide to be lazy on Election Day, and that more decide to cast their vote in the presidential election.

Tired of Being a Broke College Student?

(From The Campus Lantern – October 18, 2012)

Almost every college student in the United States has one thing in common: They’re all broke. College drains your money: From the tuition bill you receive each semester, to the overpriced products sold on campus, to the pizza you order at 2 AM every Thursday, everything costs you money.

Thankfully, there are some procedures that can be taken to save money, and earn some, too.  It is not always easy to fit a part-time job into your busy schedule – college students are busy enough with all their classes, clubs, and friends.  There is a possible solution to this problem: become a note taker for the Office of AccessAbility Services here at Eastern.  At the end of the marking period, you get paid $50 from the OAS, and all you have to do is show up to your class and take notes – which you should be doing anyway.  There is a tiny amount of training you need to do before you can be a certified note taker, but it is easily doable.  Contact the Office of AccessAbility Services to take advantage of this accommodating opportunity for the Spring semester.

Every day I see students buying milk or cereal at the Library Café, buying fruit at the Student Center, or getting a soda from a vending machine on campus.  Half of these students have the Gold Meal Plan, which has unlimited access to the dining hall.  If you do have this meal plan, take advantage of its perks.  After class, even if you’re not hungry yet, stop by Hurley and get a to-go box and cup.  Fill the box with cereal and the cup with milk for your breakfast tomorrow; fill the box with fruit for a healthy late-night snack and the cup with Root Beer for later.  You are paying over $2000 for your meal plan, take advantage of the food at the dining hall.

Everyone gets tired of the clothes in their closet – especially since the closets in the dorms at Eastern aren’t very spacious.  However, the resolution to this problem is not buying more clothes that cost precious money.  The solution to this problem is borrowing your friends’ clothes.  You don’t need to be sharing undergarments, per se, but sweaters and shoes are definitely acceptable.  Check out your roommate’s closet, you never know the wonders you may find.

The simple solution to saving and making money on campus is to think outside the box.  Take advantage of the resources available here on campus, whether it’s the Office of AccessAbiliy Services, the dining hall, or your friend’s closet.