The New Yorker by Astrid Braun

Once a month, I walk by the dining room table on my way to the kitchen and spot a magazine that looks different from the others — politically charged cover art and a unique typeface that draw my eye immediately. When I was younger, I used to look forward to the arrival of The New Yorker for reasons apart from the political commentary and niche news pieces; then, I was primarily focused on the comics section on the last page. I would flip to the back of the issue, look at the newest contest piece, read the three contenders for last month’s contest, and giggle at the winning caption in the bottom right. If I understood it, that is.

After the caption contest page, I would flip through the issue back to front in search of the cartoons scattered across stories. When I reached the table of contents, I flipped the magazine shut and went along with my day.

One month, however, as I flipped through the cartoons, making my way toward the cover, a headline caught my eye. I don’t remember what the story was about, nor do I remember when this happened, but I imagine it was sometime in eighth or ninth grade. Whatever the subject of the story was, it intrigued me, and I began to read. I didn’t pause until I reached the article’s conclusion.

I didn’t know then that my first experience with a New Yorker article would closely mirror all other experiences. Today, I still read The New Yorker back to front, though I’m as aware of the articles on the page as the comics. Once I start reading, I can’t stop, and I’m always left satisfied with the quality of both the content and the writing.

I know the magazine is the pinnacle of haughty liberal media, and I don’t use it as my main source of news. But in the area of cultural, political and societal criticism, The New Yorker is unparalleled — so when I want some food for thought, it has never left me wanting. I just need to remember my dictionary.

Rules for Talking to Potential Roommates by Ava Byrne

Having committed to a college, my next quest on this journey is to find a roommate. I am frustrated with the roommate-finding process to say the least and I manage to complain about it every day in the writing center (shout out to all the 6/7 interns who have to listen to me). However, my real frustration comes from the digital interactions I’ve had with potential roommates via Instagram.

Trying to make small talk with a complete stranger over social media is hard, I get it, but some people really don’t know how to act. So I’ve created a few guidelines to make the whole process smoother for both parties involved.

  1. If one person asks you a question and you reply, it is now YOUR responsibility to ask the next question to keep the conversation going. Imagine it like a game of ping pong, the ball goes back and forth to each person. This ensures its not a one-sided conversation.
  2. Make your questions interesting! Please be a little more creative than “what are you majoring in?”
  3. Send some memes! I had a girl send me memes and it told me way more about her than her major or what she’s most looking forward to in college ever could.
  4. Act interested in what people say to you, even if you’re not. Trust me, your lack of enthusiasm will be noticeable.
  5. Try to find something you both have in common like a favorite animal or TV show. This breaks the ice and immediately establishes something you guys can talk about. This is an activity that I’ve done at camp but it can totally be applicable in this situation too.
  6. Don’t let the other person always be the first one to reach out.

Road Trip Tips by Abigail Beard

Road trips are a natural part of life for me. Many a time I have trekked the 12-hour ride to Alabama in the family Honda, sometimes with, sometimes without air conditioning. Oftentimes, it can really suck to be stuck in a car hurling 60+ miles per hour on the highway surrounded by cornfields and not being able to stretch your legs. Here are some of my tips for when you have a longgg drive ahead of you:

1. Play A Game

Games are a great way to pass the time. Some of my personal favorites are I Spy, count the cattle, or “how many Christian billboards can you find.”

2. Take Photos

I like to take pictures of the sky or the skylines of the cities we pass through. My favorite pictures are of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River.

3. Visit Dino World… 

…Or any of the other various generic theme parks off of the highway’s rural exits.

4. Read a book…

…For about 5 minutes, or until you realize that it’s impossible to read in a bumpy car.

5. Obsess about the amount of schoolwork you’re missing

This needs no explanation.

6. Make (crude) jokes about the stuff you see along the way

One of my favorite road trips was when we exited the highway to look for someplace to eat. As we were driving down the road, we passed a store with confederate flags covering the storefront. That was when we realized that we weren’t all so hungry after all. We joked to ourselves that the store probably wouldn’t let us use an NAACP discount… or use the bathroom.

7. Gossip

This works better with a group of 3+ travelers. Topics that have come up in the car have been a) the R Kelly case, b) singers and their plastic surgeries, c) institutional racism.

8. Enjoy time with family

A long, boring car ride is the perfect time to bond with family members. If you don’t end up strangling each other over the course of the road trip, you may just grow a little closer.

What Senioritis Means to Me by Fenner Dreyfuss-Wells

Senioritis is not an affliction of laziness. It’s an awakening, an epiphany, a new way of living. For me, it means not always raising my hand in class when I don’t understand something immediately, realizing that it will all be okay, that I’ll get it. It means putting my homework away and going to bed early and understanding that I don’t have to think about everything right then, that things will work out in due time. It means not worrying that I’ll forget something important, trusting my mind to remember. It means thinking about things that aren’t school, and putting them first sometimes. Like friends and family.

It doesn’t mean that my grades are falling, or that I’m copying homework, or skipping classes. This is my senioritis, and I wish I’d found it earlier.

The Major Downsides to Being a Coxswain by Grace Meyer

Please note: there will be some serious ranting below. Viewer discretion advised.

Time and time again, my parents have asked me why I haven’t quit crew. At this point, I would’ve laughed in your face if you told me that I was going to stay with this sport for four years. It is a huge time commitment, which is why this year, my teammates have dropped like flies. Also, I am one of the few who shoulder the huge burden of being a coxswain.

I might’ve mentioned this before, but being a coxswain bears huge responsibility. By steering the boat, giving technique adjustments, motivational calls and creating race plans, this role isn’t for the faint hearted. Freshman and sophomore year, to say I had a rough adjustment would just be grazing the surface. I was horrid at steering, for one. Always on the wrong side of the river, I was almost always the butt of all my coach’s deafening yells. The worst part of it is, I truly believed I had let my teammates, and especially myself, down. Because I was, let’s face it, the worst cox on the team, I was always thrust into the weakest boats. It didn’t help that I was incredibly shy, puny girl who was too nervous to make enough calls to lead us to victory. Losing became habit, and quitting was always on my radar. I can’t even begin to describe how heartbroken I was after every regatta after failing my team yet again, all the wasted tears flowing down my face as I try to hide it in agony. I stood on the side as the other boats, although they didn’t always win from the tough competition, make racing and succeeding look easy. Trying to be happy for my other teammates, I couldn’t quite shake the feelings of jealousy pulsing through my veins.

However, on October 2nd, 2016, I coxed the women’s novice eight and four to victory (well, second and third place, close enough). By far, it was one of the best days of my life. The sound of the two medals clinking against my stomach radiated the feeling of accomplishment from my skin: I had finally done something right for my team. This year at the Head of the Cuyahoga, when I coxed the novice girl’s eight and won bronze, I had this same feeling. For once in the years I have participated in this competition, my face wasn’t covered in dry tears from yet another failure. The smiles on my teammates’ faces were contagious, and once again, I didn’t feel worthless or helpless.

Unfortunately, these are rare occurrences. If you are a coxswain, be prepared to be moved like a ping pong ball across a slew of boats– girls, boys, novice, jv, varsity: you name it, it is bound to happen. I can’t even begin to name the occurrences when this has happened to me. I completely understand that the coaches have to experiment with different lineups in the beginning, but when the regattas approach, I wish we could practice with the same ones as on race day.

If you’re still here, I will be immensely surprised. However, just because I’ve listed the greatest obstacles I’ve faced doesn’t mean there isn’t something to be gained either. All the workout the rowing team does in the fall, winter, spring and the end of summer makes us more fit. When joining the rowers on the ergs in the winter, I myself have felt more comfortable in my own skin and in-shape than before. We slowly but surely form a tightly-knit family, especially from team bonding activities. From freshman year, I have became more social and therefore have bettered my coxing skills significantly. I am incredibly proud of my progress, despite all the setbacks that have been thrown in my face.

To answer my parents’ question, I honestly don’t know what has kept me on the team for so long. Maybe it’s the adrenaline rush while racing and speeding by another boat on occasion. Maybe its the feeling of belonging somewhere and finally fitting in. Most definitely it is from the desire to win and make my teammates proud. Crew, this is my message: sorry, but I’m not going anywhere. You’re not getting rid of me that easily! No matter how cliché this is, I will not back down from obstacles that come my way, no matter what it takes.

The Question by Claire Ockner

 

Ever since the day I turned fifteen, I’ve been bombarded with a single question. You learn to tune it out, you know, and it becomes white noise, like flies buzzing around your ears or the static on an old T.V. And, the more they ask you that same question, the more you realize that you have no idea what the answer is. You shrug. You mumble, “I don’t know.” You avoid it like the freaking plague.

“So, Claire, where do you think you’ll be going after high school?”

Oy vey. For the past few months, I’ve simply been regurgitating the names of the schools to which I applied. I would rattle them off like items on a grocery list, speeding through them as quickly as possible. After all, a question that you’ve been asked over and over again for years can get pretty boring to answer. Seeing other people answer the question can be even worse. You’re happy for them, of course, but you’re jealous too. They have an answer, a definitive plan for the next four years of their life.

About a week ago, I finally got my answer. I no longer dread the question — I embrace it. “I’m going to Ohio State!” I say confidently. And then I answer the rest of their seemingly endless questions: What are you studying? Psychology. Are you in any programs? Yes, I’m in the Honors Program. Do you know where you’ll be living? No, because they won’t email me my freaking housing contract. I tell them about my roommate, who I met on Facebook, and how I plan on decorating my room, and what activities I want to participate in.

So, I’ve finally answered your question. I’m going to THE Ohio State University, and I couldn’t be happier.

Bulletin Board by Astrid Braun

 

Between the two windows across from my bed hangs a cork bulletin board with no specified purpose. I don’t remember when we put it up there, though it was probably after my room was painted light green — my beloved white wallpaper with tulips on it had torn, and was dirtied from blackened hands that ran along it before bedtime.

The bulletin board was not something I had asked for, so when it took its place on the wall, I had no concrete plans for its use. Should I have tacked up photos of family and friends, or used it as an extension of my desktop, which rests directly beneath it? For a while, I just left the board blank. After a few weeks with it, I had only tacked up a few extra papers, which had previously been scattered on my desk.

One morning, near the beginning of this year, I laid on my bed and scanned my room. My bulletin board drew my attention for the first time in a long while. Over the four or so years it had been up, I had tidied it up in spring cleanings, and weeded out everything that no longer had any significance to me. But, when I looked at it that winter day, I realized that my board represented me well. It had accumulated an assortment of knick knacks, papers, and photos; all of the items represented a different part of me. Much in the way one shares music with a new friend, or suggests their favorite books or movies, I could share this board with someone, and it would provide an outline for my values and personality.

Though, at this point, I know myself well, there is a new sense of identity gained from seeing a physical manifestation of oneself. Some items have remained on that board since it first arrived, and others I added just a week or two ago — regardless, all of those items coalesce to form a mosaic of my life.

Hair by Monet Bouie

Imagine you wake up in the morning from a long night of shea moisture and bantu knot twisting. Your arms are sore from the hours of detangling and wrestling your hair to stay in place. After you let your hair out of it’s bonnet cage and see the magnificent curls look just right, you smile to yourself. You walk out of the front door with confidence because you actually got your twist-out to look good (because 90% of the time it turns out looking like Edward Scissorhands). Your fro is big and beautiful and bounces with each step. You get approving looks, nods, and the occasional high five from other sisters and brothers that appreciate your kinky curls. Then you sit down at your seat/desk/anywhere and the “it” happens. In your peripheral you see these alabaster hands coming at you. This time you’re not quick enough to react and before you can dodge the attack, their claws sink themselves into your hair and clamp on tight! Then the perpetrator says something along the lines of:

“It’s so soft, like a cloud!”

or,

“How do you get your hair to do that?”

or,

“Is that your real hair?”

This is something that I, and many curly haired people, have had to experience. As a black woman who has had a vast amount of different hairstyles (box braids, afro, half-up half-down, etc.), I’ve had to experience this intrusion of personal space and these types of microaggressions all my life.

Even when I was a little girl, I’ve been struggling to accept my curls. I distinctly remember watching shows like Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, and Good Luck Charlie where the female leads had beautiful, long, straight hair. I’d constantly ask myself why my hair couldn’t be like that, so I asked my mom. She told me that my hair doesn’t do that naturally and it would never be like Miley Cyrus’s, but it was still beautiful. I didn’t believe her.

Still, I struggle with loving myself and my hair. Each day has its own battles but, 9 times out of ten, I love who I am.

But please do not, and I repeat, DO NOT touch my hair.

Love Yourself First Poem By: Madison Wilson

I used to wish I could wipe away all the blemishes and ignore that they were ever there in the first place.

I used wish I could  put on a facade for the world to see me without…

…without insecurities.

…without pain-

but only with beauty and as a living manifestation of perfection.

But then I think…and I think again.

I know that if that were my reality, I would not fully be me.

I am not me without the good and what I sometimes consider to be, the bad-

but I am rather a perfectly imperfect human being.

I am strong, because I choose to accept that my strength lies within me.

I am content with my life knowing that the only limits I have are the ones I choose to accept.

I am the peaceful knowing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I am the beholder; the beholder is me.

So love yourself first, queen, before you go wishing you were someone or something else….

-because I know that I will only be respected if I respect myself first.

Embrace what you consider to be, the bad…

…love yourself first,  because your flaws do not define you,

You, Define. You.

Reflections by Tomasina DeLong

Everyone has heard the phrase “you are what you eat” and I think that this makes sense. How much of what we do should directly reflect on us? I don’t know. Should we be responsible for everything we do? I think that yes, we should be responsible. Does that mean we are responsible, at least in part, for how we are perceived?

 

I thought about this the other day in the car with my brother. I was driving him to basketball and I had on my own music because it automatically started playing my playlist. He began to gawk at my songs of choice, and I explained to him “my car, my music” but he didn’t really get the message. He took my phone but since it was locked, he couldn’t change the music, he could only pause it. I gave up my fight and gave him my password for him to pick a song to play. He proceeded to play a song, which was more of an angry rap/rant in my opinion, filled with swear words and derogatory phrases.

 

Horrified, I glance over at my 8th grade brother pumping his fist and singing/screaming the words to this song. This changed my opinion of my brother forever because I now know that he knows those words and enjoys songs willed with them. My image of him is forever changed and this makes me think of how our actions, even the slightest ones, and who/what we associate with impacts how others perceive us.  

 

I think that when a person expresses themself in any form they are becoming vulnerable. They are opening themself up to possible ridicule or judgement based on their choices. People can either hide their personality or embrace it. I am not a very extroverted person to begin with and I am afraid of judgement, which is why I let my brother and my friends play their own music in the car. This is just one small example of how I let the fear of judgment impact my daily life, but as I get older I am trying to care less about what others think. I often reflect on how myself and how I am viewed as a member of society, understanding that I am my own unique person in a world filled with unique people.