To the college freshman

 

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“There should be a Hunger Games-style cannon each time a freshman drops out of pre-med.”

I remember reading this somewhere just before I started my first year of college. At the time, I was on a pre-pharmacy track majoring in chemistry. I wouldn’t be that person to change my major.

And then I found myself hating my biology and chemistry classes. Mind you, they were Chem and Bio I, but I hated them. Labs were the worst part of my week. I had no interest in what I was doing. Not to mention I was stressed about more years of that Krebs cycle-induced nightmare.

My saving grace that first semester was taking English and debate classes. I felt in control of what I was doing and learning in them. I liked to say what I thought. I loved presenting ideas and using facts to support them. Those classes made me feel excited about learning.

I changed my major in October of my first semester.

Incoming freshmen, please don’t think you have to keep the major you declared when you applied to college. Please don’t continue on a path that makes you physically and mentally sick. Please don’t think you won’t be or are better than that person who drops out of pre-med/pharm/engineering/whatever.

You are about to become a totally different person than you were the day you hit “apply” with your parent over your shoulder making sure you filled out the college application correctly.

You are about to take courses that will challenge you to think in new ways.

Embrace the general education classes that seem to have nothing to do with your declared major. They may inspire you to look at new paths.

Try a random class just because it sounds fun. You may actually like making pottery (although my roommate hated it, and we spent a full semester complaining about her class. Roomie bonding, yeah?)

Just don’t go in thinking, “This is what I’m going to do. I will not change my mind. Don’t tell me my declared major will be different by next fall.”

Have fun out there, pre-med students. As for me, I’ll stick to the words.

BOOM. (That’s my Hunger Games-style cannon going off for being a pre-pharm drop out. Or maybe it’s just a mic drop?)

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I bought overalls the other day.

I saw them in a shop’s Instagram post, and I wanted them because cute overalls are hard to find.

Knowing the overalls came in sizes S-2XL, I figured I’d need a large. I’m pretty used to wearing clothes in that range.

You know what they say about assumptions, right?

I picked up a large pair, and they were RIDICULOUSLY SMALL. I think the last time I could have worn them was seventh grade when I had no hips.

I picked up the XL pair, but they still looked tiny. I grabbed the 2XL pair, thought “surely not,” and took them both to the dressing room.

The XL pair did not fit. Again, hips. So I sucked up my pride and put the 2XL pair on. They fit. (Actually, they were still pretty tight.)

My ego was broken.

But you should know that I’ve been looking for a cute pair of overalls for a LONG time. I really didn’t care what the tag said. They fit, and I was going to get them.

The lady who sold them to me commented on how cute they were. I said, “Yeah, but I could deal without them being a 2XL.” She said they were shipped from an overseas retailer. I guess that explains the whack sizing.

I consider myself to be an average-sized human. I’m not thin, and I definitely enjoy ice cream and espresso drinks too often. Just kind of average.

In my closet, I have several pairs of jeans, shorts and skirts. Of those, I have sizes eight, 10, 12, 14, 14/16, M, L, and 29/8 (whatever that means.) Every single one fits.

Seriously?

Who makes these sizes up? I wear a lot of Old Navy clothes, but I wear everything from a six to a 14. The only difference is I bought the clothes during different seasons. When I go to buy a pair of pants or shorts, it’s only luck if I pick a size that actually fits. Usually there’s a lot of looking at the garment and eyeball-ing it to see if I think it’s closest to my size.

So who really cares what the number says?

Some of my favorite clothes have labels that sound a little higher than I’d like them to, but they fit the best. I’d rather wear a size XL shirt that fits me well than a size medium that stretches in all the wrong places.

And seriously, that XL may have been a medium at some point.

Wear what you want. Don’t let a size deter you from wearing what flatters your body.

How’s your summer?

“How’s your summer?”

“Good. I’m just working.”

This has been my routine response when anyone asks what I’ve done this summer. It’s true, of course. I have mostly been working between my internship and summer job, but I’ve also been able to do a lot of fun things this summer.

I’ve had the chance to see a play, two musicals, one movie and a performance by one of my favorite Broadway stars.

I saw Parkway Playhouse’s “The 39 Steps,” and Lees McRae Summer Theatre’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Legally Blonde.”

Admittedly, I went to see the new “Baywatch” movie with a couple of friends. It wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be, if I’m being honest.

And holy cow! Sutton Foster came to Boone, and I’m so thankful for having an Appalachian State University friend to get us tickets. We didn’t have set plans to attend the show until a few hours before, but I’m so glad we did. Sutton Foster is incredible. If you ever get the chance to see her live, I would definitely recommend it.

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My mom and I took a girls’ trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I hadn’t been to Dollywood since I was five years old, so I wanted to see what all the excitement was about. Make sure to watch the video I made of the trip.


We also made a trip to Asheville, North Carolina, for shopping. We found our new favorite restaurant, Twisted Laurel, and the Well Bread coffee shop with great tiramisu.

Really, there’s been a lot of coffee in general.

I bought some flowers one day simply because they were pretty. Treat yourself, am I right?

I’ve met up with several friends to catch up. Kellie and I even got fake ear piercings. You could say we’re rebels.

So that’s what I’ve actually been doing this summer. Don’t let me tell you I’ve only been working.

However, I did finish my journalism internship with about 150 hours. Make sure to check out my portfolio.

Leave a comment or photos of what you’ve been up to this summer.

Recently


Long time, no see. Like Ross Geller, I’ve been on a break from this blog. Between my East Tennessee Eats blog and school in the spring and now tackling two summer jobs, blogging here hasn’t been a top priority. 

Here’s a bunch of photos from my summer vacation* so far. 

*Definirely not a vacation. 

There’s been lots of coffee. 

Photographic evidence that I have seen one movie this summer. We saw “Baywatch,” and it really wasn’t terrible even though I was embarrassed to see it. 

This is from my day at Grandfather Mountaon. I went for a story for the newspaper, but stayed a little while extra and had myself a date for one. 

All the food. Trying new places in Boone. 

We had a photoshoot. 

I was able to see a play and a musical on two consecutive weekends. 


So that’s what I’ve been up to this summer (without boring you about all the work details.) 

Anyone have exciting plans? 

Letter to the editor: ETSU online fees

To the editor,

A news story about online course fees in the Feb. 9 issue of the East Tennessean suggested that the additional fees for online courses were a necessary evil. While I understand that there must be funding of online software, I think that the online fee should be spread into regular course fees. Online fees should cover only what is additionally needed for the specific class.

The story argues that additional fees for online classes are needed to fund Desire2Learn, Respondus Lockdown Browser and WebEx. I think the additional fee would be justified if online courses were the only classes using these programs.

Of course most classes use D2L, but I have taken many classes in regular settings that require me to use Respondus Lockdown Browser and WebEx. In contrast, I have taken three online courses, and none of them required me to use either software.

If these programs are being used in online and regular ETSU courses, then why are the online additional fees not being applied to all classes? The article states that D2L is funded by the technology access fee. ETSU states on its Information Technology Services website this fee is paid each semester by all students. Why can this fee not be expanded to cover the online fees and be divided among all students per class?

Likewise, students are paying fees for their department, yet they have to buy access to additional sites that should be included in department material fees. One student pointed out to me the media and communications department partners with Adobe, yet he still had to pay for Adobe software access on his own for an online course. The student needed this software to complete assignments, yet the department fees nor the Adobe partnership covered the cost.

ETSU obviously has to pay for programs that its students use, but current online fees should be redistributed to all students because the programs are used by students in regular and online classes. The technology access fee should expand to cover these charges. Additional online fees should cover online and class-specific software that students need like Adobe products, not online programs that all students use.

I am thankful that the additional charges were addressed in the East Tennessean, but there are still unanswered questions from students.

Raina Wiseman

 

(I wrote this for my opinion writing class with the intention of having it published. The school newspaper published a similar article before I could send them this one, so I never had it sent.)

Homebody

Let’s go ahead and state my personal bias: I am a home body and can’t believe other people aren’t.

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At the start of the semester, I saw someone’s tweet about how anyone who goes home on the first weekend of school has “a problem.” I particularly enjoyed this because it was from a freshman who had only been at school one week. Yeah, of course you think college is all sunshine and rainbows; you haven’t actually gone to college yet.

I go home every week not because I hate being at school, but because I really like being with my family and puppy. I want to sit on my couch and sip coffee while writing papers on the weekend. I like eating meals cooked by my mom. And judge me if you must, but I like washing clothes in my house where I don’t have to worry about someone stealing them.

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Both my closest friend and my roommate go home each weekend, so I would be alone if I stayed. I’m definitely not the type of girl who parties (which is all Snapchat tells me happens on weekends.) Besides, I prefer to be asleep before most people go out at night.

The drive for school is only an hour, so why would I not go home? Campus is fine during the week, but I prefer to spend the weekend away. I can binge watch shows and movies under my own roof the same as in my dorm room.

Some people are not about the college life. I am one of those people.

So, to the people who think you have to leave home completely to have a “college experience,” that’s fine. But it’s also fine for me to have that experience five days a week and cuddle with my puppy the other two. I don’t think that means I “have a problem.”

Don’t Say This to Someone in Food Service

Alternate post title: What I Learned This Summer

1. “I’m gonna have (insert type of food here.) Is it good?” Do you really think I’d tell you if it was bad? Why would a restaurant sell food that is bad? There is so much wrong with this question. Instead, try “What would you suggest?” or “What is your favorite?”

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2. “Having a hard time counting back that change, huh?” I’ve actually counted back change 50 times today without problem. I just forgot how much your bill was. Thank you for that confidence booster, bud.

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3.  “I need a refill, but I already threw away my cup when I was here three hours ago.” Um… I’m still confused about this.

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4. “I ordered tea, not sweet tea.” YOU ARE IN THE SOUTH, MA’AM. “Tea” is sweet unless stated otherwise.

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5. “It’s so hard to eat out healthy.” But why do you act annoyed at me because of this?

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6. “What sides do you have?” Please refer to the menu.

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7. “Working hard today?” Please don’t ask this. Just don’t.

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8. “What is this?” *points to food or beverage* Please just say what is wrong with your order instead of expecting me to read your mind or guess.

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9. (Anything that could be taken as you making a pass at an employee.) Need I say more? I’ve never been more uncomfortable than when men I’ve never met give me creepy compliments or wink every time you make eye contact with them.

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10. “Hi! How are ya’ll?” “I’ll take a Coke.” Don’t worry, I was just trying to be nice. (Shoutout to Allison W. for reminding me that this is a daily encounter.)

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11. This isn’t actually something to be verbalized, but leave a tip. Anyone who is waiting on your table makes less than minimum wage (a lot less in most cases). Please try to leave at least a 15% tip as a general rule.

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Men’s Feminism

“You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman.” –Jane Galvin Lewis

I wrote this last fall for my composition class, and watching Suffragette last night reminded me that I needed to share it (because I’m also very proud of this piece). Below is my essay on why feminism benefits women and men.

Citations and formatting according to instructions given by my professor.


4 December 2015

Men’s Feminism

Arguably, feminism was originally created along with the suffragette movement to benefit women’s advancement in society. The various women’s rights movements throughout the 1900s around the world also embedded the idea of feminism being a primarily female concept. Historically and currently, men and women have viewed feminism as the movement of women to positions of higher power and prominence in public. Feminism in modern society, however, is beginning to shift toward equality for both sexes. Feminism, therefore, is as much for men as it is for women, and men will benefit from it if our society will embrace what feminism seeks to create. If society’s view of feminism can change to an idea of equality, men will get the equity they need and deserve while also helping women.

In order to benefit men, society must change its view of feminism as a whole. We must first define feminism in a singular way that promotes equality for both genders and use ideas from different types of feminism to reach its goals. Once society has decided upon a goal of feminism and the way in which this goal is accomplished, men will be benefitted as much as women. Benefits of feminism for men include financial equality, self-expression, media portrayal, and a decrease in sexual violence while raising a new generation of feminist-thinkers. By gradually implementing this new idea of feminism into society and making citizens aware of feminism’s advantages, the ultimate goal will benefit men as much as women.

A singular definition must first be made and taught to our society in order to truly reach the goal of feminism as well as benefit men. There are many different definitions and ideas of feminism that are beneficial as well as detrimental to the concept and the goal feminism strives to achieve. Emma Watson defines feminism as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” This definition does not discriminate nor benefit a single gender group. If we define feminism in such a way as Emma Watson proposes, men and women alike will have the opportunity to achieve what they wish regardless of gender bias or restraint. This definition, most importantly benefits the group that most often feels ostracized and persecuted by the current feminism idea.

We must also acknowledge as a society that there are different types of feminism. All types of feminism view gender equality, eliminating stratification by sex, ending violence, and encouraging sexual freedom to be the primary goals, but they vary according to the extent and approach to accomplishing these goals. Among the many types of feminism are liberal, socialist, radical, and multicultural/global feminism. Liberal feminists believe that individuals are capable of advancing in society by their own talent and merit rather than as a collective group. Socialist feminists believe that their goals are accomplished collectively as a group and “replacing the traditional family” would “replace ‘domestic slavery,’” (Macionis 331). Radical feminists believe gender and gender roles must be eradicated altogether. Global feminism seeks to acknowledge and change how gender stratification is different across cultures (Macionis 330-2). Our society needs to use an amalgamation of these four feminism types in order to accomplish the new goals of feminism that benefit men. Individuals must have equal opportunities, and our society must become one that does not promote discrimination and collectively becomes a culture of feminists. The barriers that prevent gender equality across cultures and in societies other than our own must be recognized and improved upon.

There is ample evidence of the pay gap between men and women that favors the former. According to Charlotte Alter, “research from Wells Fargo shows that college-educated millennial men made $20,000 more per year than women with the same education level.” The problem with a pay gap among gender is that many women are becoming the breadwinners of the home now whether their husbands can not find a job or they choose not to work. If the female partner is the only worker, the financial burden will, on average, be greater than if the male was the sole source of money. If society’s definition of feminism was accepted as a goal of equality, then the pay gap would be eliminated and either partner in marriage would be able to not work for reasons such as staying home with children. This benefits men, especially, because the burden of finances would not be solely upon them who would otherwise have the financial burden to care for their family.

Our society’s idea of manhood is limiting toward men because they are not freely able to express their feelings and inner emotions. Men are expected to be tough because showing emotion is considered feminine. Tony Porter relates how his father being unable to cry in front of others influenced him to tell his young son to act “like a man” and calm down and stop crying. This prevention of emotion is unjust to men because they should be allowed to express themselves in the same way as women. Changing society’s definition and understanding of feminism toward equality between genders would prevent men from stifling their emotions. Expression would allow men to be open and honest, and this would no doubt better men’s overall mental health. Men have been at the greatest risk as a group for many years, and this no doubt is caused because of the pressures put upon them to “be a man” and act as if they do not have normal human emotions. Feminism would allow these men to discuss what they feel rather than feeling their only escape is suicide.

Changing the viewpoint and definition of feminism in society would lessen the objectification of women in media as well as prevent men from being viewed as sex-driven in the same respect. Currently, women are hyper-sexualized by the media, and men are seen as the main cause for this issue. The idea of manhood is men are “supposed to always be on the prowl. Women are objects, especially sexual objects,” (Porter). This creates an image of men where they objectify women, and this portrayal is also seen in media. A new view of feminism would create a need to fix the female image in media as well as male ideas of women, and ultimately the male image as well. By changing the way women are portrayed in the media, men as a whole would not be seen as the “pigs” that media makes them out to be. Men and women would be seen as equals to each other who’s worth is not determined by their bodies or sexuality as is portrayed by the media. A safe environment where no gender is objectified or seen as the objectifiers would accomplish feminism’s main goal of equality, for no one group is at fault.

The current idea of feminism no doubt makes many people uncomfortable— especially men. With the current preconception of feminism, many men feel that feminists are man-haters. Men also feel victimized by feminism in that they believe feminists see them as cruel, evil men who treat women wrong. Men are primarily the perpetrators of sexual assault, rape, and other acts of violence against women. We must create a society where all men are not viewed as evil villain-like characters who seek to harm women. A new definition and social acceptance of feminism would change this idea. Jackson Katz echoes this idea by saying that if men in our society held each other accountable about their treatment of women that those who do act in a violent manner toward women would “lose status as a result of it.” Men would be aware of their actions toward women and, likewise, women’s actions toward men.  There would no longer be a notion that men are all violent toward women making equality more achievable for each sex. This accountability should be encouraged in adult males to take immediate action toward the issue of violence against women, however, boys need to be raised to appreciate the value of feminism. Adults must raise their children (especially boys) to appreciate those of the opposite sex and to see them as their equals. The same accountability men must hold each other to must be expected of children.

Our society currently has many ideas about what feminism entails, therefore a change in the opinions of the entire population will occur at a gradual rate. Education from family, schools, and pop culture will need to influence adults and change their preconception of feminism’s goal. Children will also need to be brought up in environments that encourage feminism in a positive, equality-promoting way. These children will be the most important to educate in feminism to further our society’s feminism culture to benefit both sexes rather than singularly women. If children are raised with these ideas of equality, then they will rear more generations of adults who consider themselves feminists.

Feminism has been considered as a way for women to advance in society and have equal opportunities, but it is becoming a goal of equality for men and women alike. Modern society must acknowledge feminism and change how it is viewed to a central idea, and this goal can be accomplished. Feminism is as much for men as women, and its goal can be accomplished with a new conception of the movement.

Word count: 1565

Bibliography

Alter, Charlotte. “Millennial Women Are Still Getting Paid Less Than Men.” Time. 13 June 2014. Web. 2 December 2015.

Katz, Jackson. “Violence Against Women—It’s a Men’s Issue.” TEDxFiDi Women.                       San Francisco, CA. November 2012. Web. 1 December 2015.

Macionis, John. “Gender Stratification.” Society: The Basics. 13th ed. New Jersey: Pearson, 2015. 330-2. Print.

Porter, Tony. “A Call to Men.” TEDWomen. Washington, DC. December 2010. Web. 1 December 2015.

Watson, Emma. “Gender Equality is Your Issue Too.” UN Women. New York, NY. 20 September 2014. Web. 30 November 2015.

Quest for a Ponytail: Chapter 1

Not too long ago I stated how I could never go back to long hair in a vlog, but here I am saying I’m growing it out.

Let me begin by saying I’m already so over letting my hair grow. Short is definitely the way to go if you hate maintaining your locks. I’m just at a point where I’ve had a pixie-ish style for half a year and want to shake things up. My plan is to grow my hair into a chin-length bob through the fall (and maybe winter) then chop it all off again.

I thought this might be helpful to someone who stumbles upon my blog if they’re like me and looking for stories of hope from other women trying to grow out their hair.

And here’s the update: Two months since last full cut. Already approaching mullet territory. Ready to give up but remaining positive. Bobby pins on hand.

Stay tuned.

The Thing About Divorce

I’ve lived with my mother my whole life and my step-father since I was in third grade. My biological father has only been involved in my life for about a year when I was five and hasn’t made any contact with me in the almost fifteen years since. I am no stranger to divorce, and I know what it’s like to live with a single parent as well as a blended family.

Let me begin by saying divorce does not give children a reason to hate either of their parents. I am a child of divorce (and though one friend told me my experience does not count because I was young when my parents split up, I feel being abandoned by a biological parent gives me warrant to have this opinion.) I have a complete memory of the split, but it has not negatively affected my view of my mother or made me angry at her.

The thing about divorce is people don’t do it for petty reasons or because of anything their children do. People divorce because they are incapable of being together, no longer love each other as they feel they ought to, or because they are in unhealthy situations. Divorce is a means for people to separately continue their lives in a way that promotes their happiness. I know my mother is happier apart from my biological father, so I have no reason to hate her or him for being separated. I find it incredibly selfish of my friends who resent their parents for divorcing because, just as parents want their children to be happy, children should want their parents to be happy as well. Adults have a right to joy as much as children as long as those children are safe, cared for, and loved.

Lives are not destroyed by divorce. I think many children believe a split will change their world, but that’s usually not the case. Yes, some parents have custody battles and smack-talk each other (and to those people, why is it necessary?), but most people will continue as normal. Children may have two houses to carry their belongings between and may have four Christmas parties to attend, but it’s not the end of the world. Divorce taught me the importance of independence; I know how to stand on my own when I need to.

In no way am I so naïve to believe all splits are clean and easy and no one gets hurt. I’m only saying children of divorce should try to evaluate what they are resentful about. Are they forgetting their parents happiness and well-being? Are they upset their family picture looks more like a Venn diagram of his, hers, mine, theirs, and ours?