Question of the Week #74

Would you enjoy spending a month of solitude in a beautiful natural setting? Food and shelter would be provided but you would not see another person.

Doctor Who - Oh YesI do like my alone time. I’m picturing some kind of shipwrecked, tropical island setting. There are times when I go a day or two without contact with another person. But I’m thinking a month would be a bit much. Sure, I’d try it. But after that month I’d probably be completely over my whole I-don’t-like-people thing.Obama - Maybe.gif

*The Question of the Week can be found in The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Sticking to Your Convictions

Alex - Only Bad Chi.jpgHey, kids… I’m out of town this week. Finally taking that vacation I’ve been thinking about for eight years. Anyway, while I’m gone some friends have agreed to write some guest posts for my blog. Today’s post comes from Alex. I asked her the question, what is one experience that has shaped the person you are today?

It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be to pick one experience that has helped shape who I am today. But I finally settled on the experience of reading The Catcher in the Rye in my ninth grade Literature class. That book taught me that it’s ok to be alone. Not just because the main character, Holden Caulfield, is so beautifully portrayed as abnormal, imperfect, and painfully solitary, but because my experience reading it was isolating. My classmates and, more disappointingly, my teacher, took a collective heaping s— all over Holden, while I felt he spoke to my soul and was basically a hero. I was so angry at them–I wanted to scream in all their faces how wrong they were! And how much they were missing the point: Holden was different, and real, and that was OK. But they were trying to make it seem like it wasn’t–like he wasn’t ok. I was traumatized and discouraged by our completely opposite reactions to the book. But I was simultaneously emboldened: rather than make me question my interpretation of Holden, that experience just reinforced what I took from him–that not fitting in, being different, would be a lonely path to walk, but that was ok. And that sticking to your convictions counts for something–maybe the most. Perhaps that makes me a sociopath–diverging so intently from the majority, not taking their opinion as a signal of the error in my own. But I’d rather be a sociopath than a lemming.

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Alex has a humor blog called Only Bad Chi and is an Opinion writer for News Cult. You can frequently overhear her saying, “f— this s—” and “nope.” She daydreams about unicorns and gold pineapples and is currently prepping for law school, because there’s not enough justice in the world; (in other words, because f— this s—).


My Second Family

Paul - Captain's SpeechHey, kids… I’m out of town this week. Finally taking that vacation I’ve been thinking about for eight years. Anyway, while I’m gone some friends have agreed to write some guest posts for my blog. Today’s post comes from Paul. I asked him the question, what is one experience that has shaped the person you are today?

They say that university changes you. This is true. But for me, I didn’t really feel a change until second year. Yeah, in Canada we refer to our sophomore year as second year. We like to count, eh.

My first year at university was good and everything, but I felt like I was a high school student in the setting of a university campus. Despite all the differences, I never really felt different internally.

Going back for my second year, I really wanted it to see a change. I wanted to do more. I wanted to make a difference. And returning to living in residence, I thought that would give me the perfect opportunity to take the first-year students under my wing (armpit?) and help guide them.

Well, I got back to school and spent the first week hanging out with my friends from first year and ignoring all 50 people that lived on my floor. Friday rolled around and I remember feeling helpless.

I would hear people in the hallway laughing and having a good time with people they just met four days ago. I sat in my room wondering why I couldn’t be just like that. Why couldn’t I be part of that group? I was too introverted and shy to just throw myself in front of a slew of random people and proclaim my existence.

And then something happened.

I got a knock at my door and was met by about fifteen people. It was like answering the door on Halloween only they gave me the treat. They asked if I wanted to go to dinner with them. I said, yes. And the rest is history.

How ironic. The first-year students pulled the second-year student out of his room. The roles should’ve been reversed.

Instantly, I felt a connection with these people. I still remember the walk down to the cafeteria and standing in line for food and sitting at the table talking about what I already knew about university, and what they should know.

That was six years ago and it’s as fresh in my mind now, as what I ate this morning.

I had waffles this morning.

My floormates that year changed my life. I had never been so close to a group of people before. Maybe it’s because we were forced to see each other at all hours of the day? I don’t know.

But by the start of October, we were all way too comfortable with each other. We were brothers and sisters who spent most of our time laughing and poking fun at each other, while pulling pranks and partaking in too many shenanigans to list.

Every day was a good day. Every day was a fun day.

I finally felt different. I finally felt like I was myself and not just a person who was at school because they had to be at school. All of a sudden I had an immense level of confidence that I never knew existed within me.

Ever since I was in elementary school, teachers said that I had to come out of my shell. As if I was a turtle and heaven forbid I ever get flipped over. That would be the end.

Well, I guess I finally came out of my shell in second year.

What we had on that floor was special. It was truly special. We would travel in a group of anywhere between 20-30 to go eat dinner every night.

Think about that. 20-30 people eating dinner with each other on a regular basis. And everyone at the table was comfortable talking to everyone else. I know, this sounds like some voodoo nonsense, but it was real life. It was incredible.

The end of the year arrived too soon and I was incredibly sad about it. How do you say bye to people who brought out the best in you? I knew we’d all see each other again and remain in touch, but it would never be the same.

That year changed my life. I’m forever indebted to the people who decided to knock on my door and invite me to dinner. It was a small gesture that I’m sure they have all forgotten by now, but I’ll never forget it.

Six years later, these people remain in my life but at varying degrees. We all broke off into our smaller groups within the group, but will always be connected.

We were a family and I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for them.

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Read more from Paul on his blog, The Captain’s Speech. Paul hasn’t been to the movies since 2012 and has been told that he eats his sandwich upside down. He is a huge sports fan and a closet viewer of The Bachelor. Paul enjoys a good chocolate sundae from Dairy Queen and is easily frustrated by YouTube videos that have advertisements that cannot be skipped (who isn’t?).

More School… But Why??

ShazHey, kids… I’m out of town this week. Finally taking that vacation I’ve been thinking about for eight years. Anyway, while I’m gone some friends have agreed to write some guest posts for my blog. Today’s post comes from Shaz. I asked her the question, what do you want to be when you grow up and what has inspired you to choose that field?

For as long as I could remember, I could not wait until the day school was over. I wouldn’t have to wake up at 6 everyday, have a number of obligations to fullfill on top of my 6 classes, take classes I don’t like, you get the idea. But that all changed in college. College was different. I kind of liked college. I took the classes I wanted, when I wanted, and none of my obligations felt too hard to manage. I majored in Health Sciences, originally wanting to become a physician.

I struggle with ADHD and severe anxiety and never got the proper care I wanted. So I wanted to become a physician and implement something that would make these disorders easier for a child/adult battling these.

Along the way, I discovered the field of public health. I slowly realized this is actually more suitable for my goal. I also discovered my passion of teaching. It was too late to change my major, so I switched into Public Health as my concentration and added Psychology as a minor. I thought this was perfect because I want to teach college level students and Public Health is my passion.

I talked to many professors and they said I’m on the right track if I want to be a professor, they said majoring in what I love and conducting research in that field was the first step. And I did all of that. So now what? Well, “you need a Master’s or PHD to teach” they said. Oh. Of course. Most colleges in the U.S require a PHD to become a professor, some only require a Master’s.

So I knew what I had to do. I had to get a Master’s! I did a lot of research. I have extensive background in psychology, public health, and education- so I had to narrow down exactly what I wanted to get my Master’s in. Finally it came down to a Master’s in Education (M. ed) or Master’s of Public Health (MPH). After looking at my past courses, thinking about future career options, thinking about my love for science and statistics- I decided an MPH was the way to go.

I studied for weeks for the GRE, cut down so many social activities, and started applying for programs. Just as I was about to give up because I didn’t get into any schools I applied to, I started receiving an acceptance letter one by one to almost every single school I applied to. Including, the 10th best MPH school in the country. After a lot of thinking, I accepted their offer and I look forward to moving to Boston in the fall.

Many people ask me what is public health and what could I possibly do with a Master’s in that. I just laugh because, public health is everything. Public health is my life, it is everyone’s life. Look around you. What do you see? Pollution. Homelessness.  The increased amount of gun violence. Your colleague not being able to come into work because they are not feeling emotionally/physically sick. THAT my friends, is public health. Keeping everyone healthy and reducing the rate of death so everyone can be safe and well.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this. In my worst of anxiety attacks- I had no one to help me. No doctor, no educator, no professional was able to understand what I was going through. This was not okay. I could have lost my life over one simple thing. So many go through this everyday. Whether their illness is physical, social, or emotional. Our healthcare system has got to change, we need more empathetic individuals who can help.

And I wish to create this change and teach others about it.

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You can read more from Shaz at For The Love Of Sass. She is a student who is about to begin graduate school to work toward a Master’s in Public Health. Her favorite movie is Bridget Jones’s Diary and her favorite book is Freedom Writers Diary.

Confidence Is Beauty

Jess - You're FineHey, kids… I’m out of town this week. Finally taking that vacation I’ve been thinking about for eight years. Anyway, while I’m gone some friends have agreed to write some guest posts for my blog. Today’s post comes from Jess. I asked her the question, what is one experience that has shaped the person you are today?

Goodness gracious. It’s hard to pick JUST ONE experience.

One of the first thoughts that come to mind is something I’m sure many girls have experienced and feared at one point.

The dreaded line to the frat party.

This isn’t some ordinary line. It’s not the same kind of line as the bank, or the grocery store, or the check-out line at Target. This is a much scarier, anxious feeling. The feeling that you know you are about to be rated by a group of men.

Let me explain the process a little more clearly for those who are not familiar with this.

You get a group of your girlfriends together and do some math. If your group consists of all girls, you’re golden. If you have a guy friend or two who would like to join you ladies, you have to add more girls to the group. A good estimate is that for every guy in the group, you add three girls. Either way, in order to get into the frat party, you need to have more girls than guys.

So, you’re standing in line and watch as each group of girls dressed in heels and miniskirts jump up the steps and wait for the frat bros to discuss with each other whether or not the girls can get into the party. By doing this, they are pointing out which of the girls are hot, and which ones are not. After you see some head nods, the girls scatter into the party and then the next group are up to the challenge. Finally, it’s your turn.

You walk up the steps and can feel the heat rise in your cheeks. You hate this moment more than anything. How embarrassing would it be if you were denied? You and everyone else witnessing this trial would know that you were not hot enough to socialize at a party. You glance down at your shoes, jeans, and top, wondering if this is going to be enough for them. You watch the boys look you up and down, whisper to one another, point to your friend behind you, and you want to run away at that moment and hide in a hole. But your friends know someone at this party, and you want to be with your friends. So what can you do really? You sit back and wait for them to determine if you’re decent looking.

It’s silly, really. But it was my reality in 2009.

Everyone has insecurities. I had my fair share of them in high school, and I still struggle with it today. What’s different about it now is that I have a better attitude about it. I use humor to lighten my flaws. I even use sarcasm to point them out so that I can make it known that it’s not going to ruin my day.

That was only one of my frat experiences, but it played on loop. Sometimes, the frat brother was so drunk, he would openly make a Nick Miller face and shake his head “no” just at the sight of me. Some frat brothers barely looked up at my existence and let me on through. Some seemed to show interest in me. Each experience was different yet similar in so many ways.

It wasn’t until this college experience that I began to really see my insecurities. I knew they were there, but they weren’t acknowledged openly before then.

The day I realized how ridiculous frat parties were and viewed them differently was when a friend of mine, let’s call her Becky, said she was able to get us into a party because she promised one of the brothers to help them clean up after a fundraiser. I quickly said no and told her how unbelievable that request was.

“But I got us a connection!” she yelled. I told her that I was not desperate enough to do such a thing, and she shouldn’t either. Whether they found me attracted or not, they still expected something from me in the end, whether it was cleaning up a fundraiser or something else entirely.

From then on, I stopped caring about those parties. If I wasn’t allowed in, it no longer ruined my night. I started laughing it off if a frat brother openly called me ugly. I began asking myself, what makes them so special? Why do they seem to think I’m not worthy enough to be in the same room as them? In reality, there was nothing I found endearing in them either so I wasn’t actually losing, was I?

After that first semester, I pretty much stopped going to frat parties. If someone didn’t like me or find me attractive, it didn’t bother me nearly as much.

Even though many (not all) of the frat brothers I’ve encountered were jerks, I have to thank them. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have grown into the person I am now. After silently tearing me down, and analyzing me without actually getting to know me, I discovered that I was capable of loving and accepting myself without the approval of those who don’t matter to me.

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Jess is the blogger behind You’re Fine. She’s terrible at making decisions, and is currently watching The Office from beginning to end simply because she’s never done it. When she’s not wasting her time watching Netflix, she likes reading, painting, and snuggling with cats. The state of Connecticut has stolen her heart forever.

AFI #65 – The African Queen

The African Queen - PosterThe African Queen


Directed by John Huston

Netflix says… Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), the booze-guzzling, rough-hewn captain of a broken-down East African riverboat, teams with a straitlaced, iron-willed missionary (Katharine Hepburn) to take on a menacing German gunboat during World War I. A classic study in star charisma and pitch-perfect casting, The African Queen was nominated for four Oscars (for actress, actor, director and original screenplay), with Bogart winning a Best Actor statuette.

This is one that I had never seen. Honestly, I’d never given much thought to watching this one. Not that I had any special aversion to seeing it. I’ve just never considered myself a particular fan of Katharine Hepburn or Humphrey Bogart. Though I will say, I’ve seen and enjoyed more of Bogart’s films than Hepburn’s. Her voice just kind ogrates on me. But then, so does his. Just not as much, I guess. The African Queen wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t the kind of thing that managed to hold my attention for the entire hour and 45 minute run time.The African Queen - Bogart & Hepburn.gif

Question of the Week #73

Would you be willing to go to a slaughterhouse and kill a cow? Do you eat meat?

No, I wouldn’t be willing to go to a slaughterhouse to kill a cow. I’m not sure I’d even want to witness it being done. Of course I eat meat, but that doesn’t mean I want to fully comprehend the ins and outs of the butchering business. Let’s just say I’d rather take the butcher’s word for it. Ignorance is bliss in this particular case.Rocky - Punching Beef.gif

*The Question of the Week can be found in The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.