Part 1 by Hadas Marcus

She sat on a polished wooden bench attached to a polished wooden wall, ancient and battered laptop resting on a polished wooden table. Along the border of the ninth-life device was an abandoned espresso, cold and bitter, and a demolished cookie, cold and sweet. As her fingers bounced on top of dusty black keys, the casual observer may even assume she was accomplishing work – but with no force behind her wrists, the screen remained blank. She paused. She ran her nails along her teeth. She checked her phone. She used the restroom. She poured herself a glass of water, adjusted her jacket, stirred her espresso, crumbled the cookie, and stared off into the distance. An hour had passed. The screen was depressingly white.
A careful look around the room would have revealed that every other person was simply wasting time as their waxed moustache grew, but to Jane, herself an aforementioned casual observer, the crowd was oppressively productive. As pages turned nearby and chitchat pierced the air, Jane’s breaths grew shorter and her dark eyes dilated. She did not note that she was causing a disturbance to the middle-aged geriatric who had sat down next to her, just as she did not note that her legs had begun to shake. It was hour two of an empty screen.
She knew there were stories in her past. “I am a deeply interesting person” Jane thought to herself.
“I’m sure you are dear,” said the grey-haired man reassuringly. Jane’s thoughts had begun to spill out of her mouth. She looked at him, shocked, as if he had just appeared, which, as far as she knew, he had. In reality, he had been there for the better part of the two hours, sipping a latte with three Splenda packets, and trying very hard to ignore the labored breathing of the young woman next to him. She continued to stare at him, her glazed eyes reflecting the folds and wrinkles of a man whose time spent outweighed his time remaining.
“How – you knew what I was thinking, I -“
“Yes. Yes, you said it out loud.”
“Oh, I, I’m so-” Jane’s words were to her tongue as a cat to a set of greased stairs.
“You’re trying to write? A story?”
“Yes” She sighed, relieved that the tumult of her own ideas had been condensed so expertly by this stranger.
“Well, what appears to be the problem? You have your caffeine, your food, your computer, all that’s left is…”
“M-m-me. Me.”
“Yes. So what’s the problem?”
“I-i-i…. n-n-nothing to – “
“Well that’s just silly. Everybody has something to say. Everybody makes their own stories, it’s the nature of living.” As the old man spoke, Jane’s eyes darted away from his spotted face, to the bright sun in the corner of the window, to the milk being steamed, finally resting on her own knees. Her thumb rubbed absentmindedly over her wrist.
“I don’t” she submitted. The words came out clearly only because she thought them clearly, and let them escape from her mouth, rather than set out to speak them.

“Oh. Oh, well then”

Endings by Kathleen White

Shocking and sad endings don’t seem to be the most popular. When Henrik Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House the ending was so shocking, that the actress playing the lead demanded an alternate ending if she were to perform it. So rather than having the play end with Nora leaving her husband and thus her kids, she stayed. While much less shocking than the true ending, this changed detail made the work and its message less powerful. Rather than going off to find herself as an individual, Nora remained a doll governed by the lives of others. This change softened the shock factor, but it also weakened Ibsen’s message. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is another classic example of why changing endings is dangerous. The play ends with Blanche being escorted to an insane asylum while her sister Stella remains with her abusive husband. The characters around Blanche choose to believe that her story of Stanley raping her didn’t happen. The film version starring Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando ends differently. In the last few minutes Stella runs off with her baby to her neighbor’s apartment swearing that she’ll never go back down (back to Stanley). A few minutes earlier, another character, Mitch, also blames Stanley for Blanche’s hysteric condition. The characters see Stanley as the villain the audience knows he is. But in the play Stanley remains top dog as the characters choose to believe the lie before them. In the film Stanley loses, in the play he wins. I prefer the ending where Stanley is recognized as the villain, and I would love an ending where Blanche lives happily ever after with Mitch, but I only accept the ending as it is written. With any other ending, A Streetcar Named Desire is a completely different play. The message that Williams conveys about the rules that govern the world is weakened, if not lost, with a shift in the ending. Endings are vitally important to both the plot and message of a work, so to change one is a dangerous game. As much as we want happy endings, we have to accept the painful, sad ones laid before us. The End

What in DeVos-nation?! by Anabel McGuan

Some of my earliest memories are of drawing on the chalkboard in my dad’s third grade classroom, playing teacher. I would line up spare chairs along the board and seat stuffed animals in them, trying in vain to teach them the multiplication tables I was learning.

As I grew older, I would beg my dad to bring me to school with him on my days off; I loved sitting in his classroom, passing out papers, grading worksheets, and talking to his students.
These memories are accompanied by my father chronicling the daily frustrations of his job — sometimes about a particularly difficult student, but more often about administrative hassles, the increasing pressure placed on him and colleagues by standardized tests meant to evaluate their proficiency as teachers, and a consequential increasing political presence in schools. Each airing of grievances concluded the same way, with a stern warning to my brother, sister, and me — “You’re not allowed to become a teacher.”
I took my dad’s words to heart. I began my college search completely undecided about my future. Eventually I decided to tell people I was considering physical therapy, just to stop the questions.
I don’t know how, and I don’t know when, but someday in the recent past, I had an epiphany. I want to be a teacher. That’s what I’m passionate about, that’s what will make me happy, that’s why I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to study.
I finally mustered the courage to inform my parents of my self-perceived, Earth-shattering decision. They weren’t surprised, nor were they upset. It turns out they’d been betting on when I would come out to them.
Now, I’m becoming increasingly concerned that my dad was right. Today, mere months after revealing my passion, being admitted to college, and finally feeling as if everything has finally fallen into place, everything has changed.
Betsy DeVos has been confirmed as President Trump’s Education Secretary.
The former Republican Party chairwoman has been a long-time advocate for education reform in Michigan. The ACLU describes her work as “elevating for-profit schools with no consideration of the severe harm done to traditional public schools” despite “overwhelming evidence” that charter schools were no more successful than their traditional counterparts.
Along with this, DeVos also advocates less government oversight of charter schools, allowing for them to pursue creationist, evangelical agendas, and, as she so eloquently phrased it in a meeting of Christian philanthropists, to “advance God’s kingdom.”
When Senator Tim Kaine asked, “Should all schools that receive taxpayer funding be required to meet the requirements of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act?” DeVos replied, “I think that’s a matter that’s best left to the states.”
Never mind the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Later, when Senator Maggie Hassan reminded her that IDEA is a federal civil rights law and asked if she still stood by her earlier statement, DeVos responded, “Federal law must be followed where federal dollars are in play.”
Hassan followed up by asking, “So were you unaware when I just asked you about the IDEA that it was a federal law?”
DeVos responded, “I may have confused it.”
By confirming DeVos, the Trump administration is bringing back the spoils system. During Devos’ hearing, Senator Bernie Sanders asked DeVos,  “Do you think that if you were not a multibillionaire, if your family had not made hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions, that you would be sitting here today?”
DeVos consequently appears to the public to be using her wealth to buy a position in Trump’s cabinet — a position that she is utterly unqualified for.
Opposing DeVos is not a partisan issue; anyone who values today’s youth should have no qualms about it. The futures of our country’s children now rest in DeVos’ incompetent hands.
As the country’s public school system braces itself for a grim four years, I’m beginning to wonder if my dad is right. Teachers are riddled with uncertainty and despair, wondering what may become of their jobs under DeVos.

But, they cannot surrender. Now, more than ever, I feel that it’s vitally important to pursue teaching. Future generations depend on it — they need a defender, so I’m preparing for battle.

Save the Bees by Maria White

An icon is missing. From across the shelves and pantries of the world, a beloved figure has disappeared. Buzz, the beloved Honey Nut Cheerios mascot, is missing and it is up to us to save him.
The population of bees in the world is diminishing rapidly causing growing concern. This year bumblebees have made the endangered species list. This is due to habitat loss, pesticides, and climate change, bees are disappearing at an alarming rate.
To raise awareness for this issue, Cheerios has removed Buzz from their honey nut cheerio cereals and has left his silhouette empty. Cheerios does this in hopes that the silhouette will call the world to action to save the bees. In addition to this, Cheerios has sent out 1.5 billion wildflower to seeds to people who requested them. The seeds are then planted in bee- friendly areas and it is hoped that they will improve the conditions for bees and increase their population.
Bees don’t occupy our every waking thoughts but they should. Not only are bees essential to the eating habits of Winnie the Pooh but also ourselves. As bees are one of the top pollinators of crops they are vital to our consumption of different foods. By helping the bees, we are our helping ourselves. However that shouldn’t be the reason that we work to bring back the bees. Human actions have caused extinction of numerous species and are continuing to endanger many more. What then justifies this destruction of nature? Are cheaper energy sources and wasteful living worth more than the lives of polar bears, pandas, elephants, and now bumblebees?

By creating this campaign, Cheerios is raising awareness not only for the diminishing population of bees but also the overall issue of species endangerment. So with Cheerios leading the way, we should fight to get back our beloved Buzz.

My Magical St. Patrick’s Day

I once found a Leprechaun.

My journey began in a place called Bartlett on the outskirts of Memphis. I was meant to travel to Memphis to celebrate the day and see the parade. On the way to the blue city I saw a pyramid and met a saint. Once inside the city walls, music filled the streets and crowds of people were tipsy with excitement.  Horses clopped past me drawing elegant carriages and a magical trolley flew across the sky above me. I collected strands of jewels as I worked my way through the crowd to view the parade. Music playing troops marched by and members of the parade court waved to the crowd. And to my surprise I was presented a red carnation by one marching past. With the flower in my hand, I found myself away from the crowd on a magical street called Beale. Having seen the parade, I found myself in want of corned beef and Irish soda bread. So searching for a place to satiate my hunger, I found myself walking into a friendly tavern. Yet I was tricked! When I walked through the door I was in not a tavern, but a courtyard! The courtyard was grey and deserted. Almost deserted. In the center of the space, protecting his pot of gold, sat a leprechaun. This leprechaun was taller than most, but magical nonetheless. For when I blinked the leprechaun seemed to be gone with just a wink! I searched the courtyard for any remnants of the leprechaun’s magic or his gold, but found only a door. Through the door I found a bustling place of food and drink. It struck me as an ordinary place til I saw there were flecks of gold in everything plate and then I knew the leprechaun had blessed this space. And this is the tale of whence I met a leprechaun, and I assure you it is completely true.

International Women’s Day

I know it’s pretty ironic for the white male to be the one writing the blog on International Women’s Day, but today is my assigned day. I am going to start this blog by saying that I will never have to face an enormous number of problems that women face daily, but I can talk about my mom. 

My mom grew up outside of Cincinnati, the daughter of two teachers. Throughout her entire life, she has pushed herself to learn anything she can, helped along the way by both of her parents. One of the biggest obstacles she faced was her teachers. She was told many times: “Debbie, stop answering the questions, let the boys have a turn.” “Debbie, you can’t take that science class, it’s not for girls.” “Debbie, the girls don’t play soccer, they do hopscotch during recess.” But that never stopped her. 
Not only did she excel throughout her grade school years, she did it all while helping her working mother with the household chores. Normally household chores aren’t that bad, but her dad was in a wheelchair her entire life, and her mom was working full time. In high school, my mom added a job to this workload too. But that didn’t stop her. 
My mother excelled in all of her classes and eventually got in to The College of Wooster, where she studied a major of her own design in under the supervision of the biology department. After graduation, she went on to get her PhD in physical therapy from UIC. She now teaches post-graduate level physical therapy. Despite all of her achievements, her skill in the sciences, and her aptitude in anything I can think of, she still faces discrimination because of her gender. 
The one story that sticks out to me the most of the ones she has told us is the story of one of her student’s portfolio which was submitted to another teacher. In the class of my mother’s that this student had, they were studying anatomy, for which they had to assemble skeletons in order to see the structure of my human body. The skeletons are held together with wires and screws, so my mother was using a screwdriver to put them together. Her student’s comment about this was: “I saw Dr. Espy using tools, which I found to be very inappropriate.” 
The best part of this story is that her father loved carpentry, but once he was confined to a wheelchair, the only thing that changed was that he had his kids use all of tools instead of him. My mother is, without exaggeration, the smartest person I know, and skilled at everything she does. She is also a woman. 
Happy International Women’s Day. 
Charlie Espy 

Fun With Fonts!

The default font Cambria (Body) is what comes up every time you open a Word document and then start randomly typing. Why Cambria? I mean, I know it’s a very basic font but it’s not exciting at all. Why can’t there be a little excitement like how about this: awkward, run-on
Why don’t we open with Impact? It’s a fun font, it’s dramatic, and it gets the point across if you’re writing  a powerful essay on current events . You could make a political statement with this font and everyone would read it because of how bold it is and how “in your face” it is. And then there’s the font that I have to use when writing plays in Dramatic Literature and Writing:
Courier New. It looks like how a typewriter would type back in the “good ol’ days.” That’s probably why I have to use it for my plays. There weren’t computers back in the time of dead playwrights,; they used typewriters. I guess we can’t get out of old times sometimes and we just go back to what we know from long ago. Then there’s this one that I just discovered not too long ago:
Stencil… I don’t know when you would use this except if you were making a poster go up in the school to advertise some club or some sporting event. This is one that annoys me. Any font that only types in all caps is annoying! Why does word try to correct your lowercase letters if everythingis Uppercase, caps, and bolded. The only thing fonts like this are missing are being in all Italics. Then there’s this one that probably only pre-school and kindergartens teachers use:
Chalkduster… Who in the world uses this one, except in the title sequence for that old Nickelodeon show, Chalkzone?! I really want to know why you would use this in anything you write unless you want to create a fake impression of what chalk looks like on a chalk board. This font is too smooth to look like what chalk on a chalkboard looks like. Writing on a chalkboard is hard and makes an annoying screeching sound, but right now all a hear is the annoying tapping, typing sound coming from my fingers typing on the keyboard. Then there’s what you are required to use for a proper essay:
Times New Roman, Double Spaced, 12pt font. This is so boring that I can’t even write about it. Creative writing and playwriting are what I like to do, and none of them require to use a font that is so simple and boring. When doing a creative piece I can use whatever font I so desire, I can use fonts as my outlet. But with Times New Roman, Double Space, 12pt font, I am very limited to what I can do. I think I might go to my two favorite fonts now I’m lulling myself to sleep with this one. I’ll start with one that I see a lot:
Playbill,; I like this because it is from the theatre, and I can relate to this with how many playbills I have in my house stacked up in my bookcase. The only problem with it is it’s so damn small with 12pt font. I see this font so much in playbills, and it has to be at least 20pt font because if it was 12pt you wouldn’t be able to read it at all. The only problem with this font in Word is that is so hard to read because all the letters are so close together. Here is what this looks like in the default 12pt font: Can you read this? I know I can’t, unless I get really close to my computer screen. Well, time to get to my favorite font that I like using in science lab reports and other things that aren’t boring literary analysis:
Bookman Old Style,. I’ve been using this font since I was in elementary school. I used this font all through elementary school and then through my 6th grade year. I used it because there were no regulations on what font you had to use back then. I liked it because it was easy to read and had a little whimsical nature to it (although I didn’t know what whimsical meant back then). I still love this font and use whenever I can. And then there’s the useless font:
Wingdings…what is the point of this font anyway? When are you ever going to use this font in everyday life. You can’t use it in a literary analysis, you can’t put it in a lab report, and you’d be taking a real risk if you decided to write your college essay all in wingdings. If someone can comment on this and tell me when and why you would ever use this font. Who wants to read a bunch of shapes and not know what any of it means.(I’ll let you translate this paragraph yourself).
And don’t even get me started on this one!