Emily Hickey


The art of minimalism

Courtesy of Pixabay

Have you ever walked into your bedroom and felt like you were hit with the clutter and messiness that has consumed it? Sometimes, instead of cleaning, you wish you could just throw all your belongings away, but when it comes down to it, you would never be able to. Each belonging has some sort of sentimental value. Yes, even the seashell your ex-boyfriend from the 4th grade got you from his summer vacation trip. It’s personal. Maybe a little cracked and dusty, but nevertheless personal.

This is where minimalism comes in to tell you that not everything is personal, and that’s a fact. Yes, even the 4th grade ex-boyfriend seashell. Throw it away. If an item just collects dust, forgotten time and time again until your eyes accidentally graze over it and you think: “Wow! I remember that!” it is safe to say the item is no longer needed. If it doesn’t match your color scheme or your feng-shui, throw it away. If you really, really can’t throw things away, put them in a storage bin in your closet or under your bed.

Minimalism is basically the decluttering of your living space, which could eventually lead to the decluttering of your life. (Or not, but we can dream.) It’s the room you walk into that is aesthetically pleasing with just enough things to add that personal touch. There’s a bed, a dresser, a desk and sometimes a side table and/or bookshelf. There are just enough pillows and usually one or two picture frames displayed on the dresser. The desk has just enough office supplies, and if there’s a bookshelf, the books are neatly lined. The side table usually has a lamp, a book and a candle. Throughout the room will be “scattered” memorabilia (in a real minimalistic room, nothing is scattered, even if it looks like it) and the walls have at most three posters. There may be a floor lamp and a rug, but they are neutral colors. In fact, most minimalistic rooms are neutral with one color accent to give the space that necessary POP. There will always be twinkle lights, don’t worry. If there aren’t twinkle lights or some sort of artistic light exposure, the room is still in process.

Courtesy of Pixabay

All that I just listed may seem like a lot, but nothing in minimalism ever is. It’s not expensive, either. As a college student and a fan of the minimalism trend, when I moved into my first apartment, I knew I wanted to model my bedroom like such. I admit, I have clutter in my room, but I’m also a college student with five thousand textbooks and three million papers/notebooks. Besides my school stuff, I really do not have that many trinkets or gadgets.

My bed has four pillows, a throw pillow, and a throw blanket. Above it is a framed poster that says “PARIS” in red letters. Next to the poster is another French poster of a man and a woman dancing. Under them is my side table that holds a lamp, a vintage clock, a candle and a book. My bookshelf next to my side table has my perfume bottles, necklace holder, picture frame and two fake plants on top. My bookshelf is neatly lined, and the only things on the top shelf are my newspapers and a painting my roommate gave me for my birthday. I have a black floor lamp, a gray area rug, and my desk is a table from IKEA. My desk is cluttered, so let’s not talk about it. All of that makes for my very gray, white, and black minimalistic bedroom.

Minimalism is easy. I did it on a budget and my room still feels cozy despite the lack of excessive personal items. To create a minimalistic bedroom, you don’t need to immediately throw everything away. Try storage bins first, and leave the necessary or matching items out on display. Minimalism may look simple, but in order to maintain the coziness of a bedroom, you always need to keep it personal. Remember: colors (or lack of) make a difference, and less is always more. Whoever told you more is more lied. Live simply, live minimal. It will change you.

An introduction to the moon signs

Zodiac shmodiac. Is it even real? Actually, it’s more real than you think. While not entirely to blame for all the mishaps of life or the negative quirks in your character, the Zodiac signs you were born under influence a lot more than what is consciously recognized. For example, your moon sign influences the way you think and feel as well as your intuition. This sign is especially important when dealing with said mishaps, for it gives you an understanding on why you react and deal with it the way you do. Look at it as an insight to your emotional side. Here’s a description of each sign under the moon.


The Ram in the moon is impatient, finding everything to not happen fast enough. Their constant state of emergency makes it hard for them to wait for life to happen, emphasizing their fiery inner passion. These lunar signs have a desire for activity and will waste no time when it comes to getting what they want instantly, especially when it comes to romance. Because their needs and wants are undefined to them, many lunar Arians have many short-lived romances and secretly love being surrounded by trouble. Despite their aggressiveness, they tend to be very defensive people. The difference between lunar Arians and Cancers are that, when upset, Arians lash out while Cancers retreat. Although their fire burns, many people appreciate lunar Arians’ ability to be straight-forward, even if you sometimes feel you can never keep up with them.


Lunar Taureans thrive in familiarity. Due to their earthy nature, they tend to be rooted in their ways and feel safe in comfortable foundations. Don’t try to push these people to do something because they’ll just ignore you. However, there is a steadiness when it comes to those under lunar Taurus, and those around them feel their comforting nature. They tend to stay away from “messy” emotions and situations and are very romantic beings. They are sentimental and warm; their affections are strong, and because Taurus is a fixed sign, the likelihood of a break-up is slim. Anything a lunar Taurean decides will be safe to them, making them very reliable people. These people are loyal yet fiercely stubborn and falter when their routine is interrupted, so don’t try to surprise them. They love the good things in life.


Have you ever met someone who is utterly charming yet emotionally detached? They were probably a lunar Gemini. To the public, they are pleasant and interesting, but at home, they can be irritable and moody at times. They are comfortable talking about feelings, but feeling their feelings is hard for them. Because of this, they come off as detached, but really, they just feel misunderstood. When confronted with a problem, lunar Geminis are known to talk it out immediately. These people are plagued with nervousness and restlessness, making them prone to reading, talking and thinking a lot — maybe sometimes too much. They have a way with words and are generally adaptable and open to new ideas. Lunar Geminis strive when they have plenty of things to do and love home improvement, even if they don’t necessarily like housework, they just need an outlet for their unending imagination. Their need to do a million and one things, however, causes them to find trouble at sticking to one thing.


The moon happens to be the natural ruler of Cancer, so those born with this lunar sign are able to truly understand the feelings and emotions of others. These people have immaculate memories and are very clingy in every aspect of their life, seeking familiarity and comfort in all things. They are peace-loving, accommodating and dwellers. Their insecurity in confronting others leads them to use indirect ways to garner attention, which many feel is them usually beating a dead horse, but they just want to get you to understand how they feel. Since they are ruled by the watery moon, their moodiness can be surprising since they tend to be irrational. Despite this, they will always take care of you, even if they are being crabby.


Those who know some about Zodiac signs are familiar with the outgoing Leo. However, lunar Leos are the complete opposite. They only seek attention when they feel comfortable, more specifically with family or friends. Those born with this lunar sign have a need to organize and control, making them the overseers of everyone in their group. Because of this, don’t change plans at the last minute. They need time to adjust their schedules. They can come off as bossy at times, but they have a deep desire to treat others fairly and justly. Lunar Leos love the idea of creating and entertaining but can be rather lazy. They also require a lot of love, and when their pride has been hurt, they will sulk dramatically. Not in public, though, because they can’t make a scene. Their integrity and dignity won’t allow them.


Like many of the previous signs, lunar Virgos search for security, only this time it’s in the little things in life. Many love the mundane errands of everyday, like paying bills and balancing the books, because they feel most content when life feels straightened out. Although they are prone to nagging and complaining, lunar Virgos love taking care of things and people. They feel best when they are needed and useful, being the first to offer help to those in need. Lunar Virgos are content with regular lives and reject attention due to their ability to become overwhelmed easily when there is too much to think about. These people need a steady routine and a hobby where they can analyze, attend to details and micromanage. When it comes to relationships, lunar Virgos shy away from gushy displays of affection. They are shy, self-effacing and kind, and when they come out of their shell, they have a lot to give.


The co-dependent Libra; those with their moon sign in Libra need partnership and feel incomplete without people to share their lives with. Lunar Librans are sympathetic, sharing, social and most likely to get married young. Their partnerships give them strength and reinforcement. Lunar Librans are charming and flirtatious, winning the hearts of others in gentle ways. However, when it comes to flaws, people with in this sign are nit picky and stubborn. Anything flawed will bother them until fixed, and in arguments, they always have to have the last say, making them great lawyers. People in this sign will always love and defend others, even if they are stubborn.


Give a lunar Scorpio emotional intensity and they are set for life. These people are intense, seeking out the core of everyone they meet to be able to see what’s hidden inside. Because of their need for dramatic emotions, their lives can seem like a lot of up and downs, but to the lunar Scorpio, it’s merely transformation and rebirth. They tend to stir up emotional excitement and seek out intense experiences, going into everything with the mindset “all or nothing.” Lunar Scorpios have a strong fear of betrayal and challenge their partners with love tests, expecting the other to give up something for them. Once they are committed, lunar Scorpios are the most loyal and protective partners around. These people radiate strength and have the ability to size up situations and people quickly, satisfying their need to understand human motivation and nature. Intelligent and intimate, lunar Scorpios make for rewarding friends and lovers.


Similar to the sun in Sagittarius, those with their moon in Sagittarius need personal freedom and space. If they have both, they are happy and easygoing. Their love for open spaces extends to their need for travel. They love meeting new people and going out in the world, using their optimism to help inspire others. Some may consider lunar Sagittarians to be irresponsible, but it’s only their dislike for mundane routines. Lunar Sagittarians enjoy friendly competition, but when life becomes too much, they tend to run away. They will always come back though, they just needed to take a break. Their need for freedom gives them the mindset that everything will work out, especially since everything they do is generally on a whim. These people are lovers of truth, new experiences and mind-expanding ideas.


The competent Capricorn should be the nickname for people with this moon sign. These people keep their emotions under check, and if they are experiencing a tornado under the surface, they will always keep a calm composure. This, along with their usefulness and productiveness, makes them come across as steady, reliable people. Clear boundaries and realistic goals are a must for these traditional people. They respect authority and seek safety and security in most everything. Mood swings can occur, but for the most part, their collected nature makes them scared of people with turbulent emotions. Although they come off as level-headed, lunar Capricorns experience emotions like the rest of us, they’re just better at hiding it. These people crave respect and feeling worthwhile. They also put a lot of value into real, tangible things, like money and realistic goals. Lunar Capricorns are well-managed and like to live a structured life.


Why do people do what they do? This is what lunar Aquarians want to know most. Being extremely observant people, they tend to come off as shy or detached, although they can be very sociable. They strive for uniqueness and often feel different from others. These people are admired for their idealism and ability to put themselves above jealousy and possessiveness. They are fiercely independent and are generally proud of their family. Young lunar Aquarians are prone to temper tantrums, but as they grow older, they outgrow “messy” emotions and pride themselves on their level-headedness, even if it may come off as detached to others. Lunar Aquarians give those they love copious amounts of personal freedom and are very tolerant people, making them good humanitarians. They are constant, trustworthy and loyal, making for amazing friends since they refuse to leave anybody out. Lunar Aquarians are charming yet stubborn, and when they feel their pride has been attacked or are being criticized, they will hide their sensitivity and probably end the relationship.


Dreamy lunar Pisces seems to never be in touch with reality, but that’s not a bad thing! They need time to daydream or else they become overwhelmed with life. They are intuitive and find ease at putting themselves in other people’s shoes, even though they sometimes lose themselves in the suffering of others. Lunar Pisceans are perceptive and a bit odd, always laughing and making others laugh. Soft-hearted and sweet, these people are touched by human suffering and are suckers for sob stories. However, they have an apt ability to discern between sincerity and manipulation. They may come across as absent-minded, but they are anything but weak. They are compassionate and seem to understand things even if they have never experienced it, making them brilliant actors/actresses. When they retreat to recharge, you can often find them drawing, writing and making/listening to music. They love emotion and the ability to share it with the world.

To find out your moon sign, go to https://astro.cafeastrology.com/natal.php.

Photo via NASA Astrobiology

Poll your weight

Election time tends to turn the nation into a violent atmosphere yet just as much an exciting one. Most Americans only focus on the Presidential Election, but the midterm elections are actually more important. Midterm elections consist of voting for your state Senators and Representatives, also known as the people who you have a direct voice towards who can benefit you when it comes to the workings of the government. Everyone gets so caught up in the theater that presidential elections have become that the importance of Congress gets buried beneath it all, making midterms “just another election.” But now is the time for action; if you want change, you need to vote. Congress has always been more important than the President when it comes to enacting change, so it is important to vote for those who share your values and who you truly believe will get shit done, especially when it comes to the five amendments proposed for North Carolina.

For those who are unaware, on North Carolina’s ballot for this midterm election, citizens will be able to vote for or against six North Carolina constitutional amendments pertaining to a variety of issues that have created great divide between North Carolina’s political parties. The amendment that most people are really focusing on is a requirement to show a photo ID when voting. This was found unconstitutional in the 2016 elections, so the fact that the NC GOP is trying to bring it back is beyond me. Not only is this discriminatory, but it creates barriers to voter participation by targeting minorities who may not have access to photo IDs. The fear that voter fraud is more likely without a photo ID is false considering the amount of voter frauds in 2016’s election was documented at four, so this proposed amendment is unnecessary and a way to further take away voter rights.

Another amendment proposed deals with income tax cap, which will lower North Carolina’s maximum possible rate from 10 to seven. The state’s current income tax rate is at 5.499 percent, and the News & Observer assures this number will not change, no matter the voting outcome. However, there is still fear for those who could be negatively affected by this income tax limitation, such as public school teachers. Those against income tax find this proposal to be a step forward, however, many people from poorer counties throughout the state fear for their schools and children’s education. By capping income tax, the likelihood that public schools — most of whom are already in poor conditions — would lose even more funding is real and scary. If our education crumbles, so will everything else.

Moving from that amendment, the third amendment proposed contains changes to North Carolina’s election board. As of currently, the board has four Democrats, four Republicans, and one unaffiliated person of whom the amendment is targeting. This amendment is for the removal of the unaffiliated member in order to leave the board equally split and free from a tiebreaker. Because of this, the governor will no longer be able to choose the members on the election board as that power will be transferred to the Legislature. This amendment not only instills a party divide in our state but also threatens for important legislation to possibly never be passed due to an indecisive vote. With only eight members, those voting against important legislation, like public school issues and rights, could potentially be blocked.

If you thought any of those three amendments were threatening, the fourth amendment proposed concerns judicial appointments and is even more frightening. In this amendment, the power to appoint judges will be taken from the governor and changed to a list of appointees presented to the governor from the state Legislature as well as, in other cases, given to the chief justice of the Supreme Court. As someone who identifies as more center when it comes to politics, I have to judge the GOP when it comes to this amendment. It’s public knowledge that the Republicans stray away from government power and focus more on state rights, but does this not directly contradict that? While the power will be shifted to North Carolina leaders in Legislature or the Supreme Court, that still takes away from North Carolina’s elected Governor to make direct decisions. Why elect a governor if you are going to give the North Carolina representatives working in D.C. the authority over major decisions? I personally would rather someone who is in North Carolina to make our decisions, despite the Legislature’s allegiance to our state, making this is a direct attack on Governor Cooper.

The final two amendments do not hold as much momentum as the previously mentioned four, but they are still important nonetheless. Marsy’s law, an amendment that would give more rights to crime victims, is the only amendment I have yet to find a major flaw in. While I see the controversial nature of this amendment, I am not educated enough on crime rights and the proceedings of the judicial. The hunting and fishing amendment proposed will actually make no changes to North Carolina law; its sole purpose is to reel in a particular voting demographic. Since all of the amendments align with the right, hunting and fishing is a tactic used by the GOP to grab the attention of many Republicans, ensuring they are at the polls voting for all six. It is up to you to decide which you will vote for, and it is up to you to make it to the polls. DO NOT SKIMP OUT. This is more important than you think, and just because America’s political climate is seemingly dangerous and threatening, fight for your beliefs and vote for who you want to enact change to your state, your HOME.

The sun signs

Have you ever wondered how Zodiac signs actually pertain to who you are and how they affect the way you react to the happenings of life? Well, here’s a guide to how your sun sign, the most widely known sign of the Zodiacs, contributes to who you are in regards to your style and life purpose — whether you choose to believe in it or not.

Photo by Pixabay

Aries (March 21-April 19)

The first sign of the Zodiac is the fiery, energetic Ram, most compatible with Sagittarians. Those who were born with the sun in Aries are independent, impatient and impulsive. They are generally competitive and passionate. Keeping up with an Aries may seem like a task in itself; it’s like keeping up with a baby, which is what Aries are in the astrology world. Don’t let this discourage you, they keep you on your toes in a charming and thrilling way. An Aries’ purpose is to learn more about themselves and to become more courageous. Famous Aries include James Franco, Thomas Jefferson and Lady Gaga.


Taurus (April 20-May 20)

The dependable and stubborn Bull, those born under the sun in Taurus are smart and trustworthy. Sometimes referred to as the “anchor of the signs,” Taureans love comfort, honesty and security, making them great partners and friends. They are very sensual and discover the world through their senses, whether it be through food, entertainment or sex. A Taurean’s purpose is to create strong relationships with those they meet in their life, especially with Cancers and Virgos, making this stabilizing factor the reason they are the Zodiac anchor. Famous Taureans include Adele, Cam Newton and Audrey Hepburn.


Gemini (May 21-June 20)

One of the more controversial signs, Geminis aren’t always the two-faced people they are perceived to be in social media. Symbolized by the Twins, Castor and Pollux, the reason those under this sign are more scrutinized is because of the Twins being known to have two different sides they display to the world. But this isn’t always negative! In fact, it refers more to their ability to adopt the moods of those that surround them. They are loyal and emotional, but will voice their opinions and sometimes are perceived of having a scattered and nervous energy. Geminis are restless and enjoy stimulating conversations, becoming bored easily if things begin to move slow. They are most compatible with Aries and Leos. A Geminis purpose is to bring people together in the same way Castor and Pollux were brought together, reflecting on their chameleon-like abilities. Famous Geminis include Kendrick Lamar, Angelina Jolie and Natalie Portman.


Cancer (June 21-July 22)

The emotional Crab, Cancers are the sign to most likely start crying at any small inconvenience. This doesn’t mean they are weak, it shows they are very passionate and caring. They are sometimes thought to be too loyal to those they love, expecting the same in return and often being disappointed. However, this doesn’t discourage them, but rather teaches those around them to be as passionate as Cancers. They are also intuitive and intelligent, often needing creative outlets to unveil the inner workings of their imaginative thinking. A Gemini is most compatible with Taureans and Pisceans, and their purpose in life is to show everyone and everything that it is worthy of love. Famous Cancers include Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez and Luke Bryan.


Leo (July 23-August 22)

The prideful Leo Lion. Those with their sun in Leo are outgoing, bold and warm, the latter pertaining to the element of fire that Leo falls under, just like Aries. In contrast to Aries, Leos are able to make friendships along their ambitious pursuits while Aries accumulate admirers along theirs. A Leo’s ease in making friendships is stemmed from their grand gestures, attentiveness and friendliness to everyone they encounter. There is even a sense of regality when it comes to Leos. There is a reason a lion is the leader of the pact, and it’s the same reason the lion symbolizes Leos. They are most compatible with Libras, and their life purpose is to shine by being known. Famous Leos include Barack Obama, Jennifer Lawrence and Madonna.


Virgo (August 23-September 22)

It seems ironic that Virgos are called “virgins” when being made-fun of, but The Virgin happens to be the symbol for this graceful sign. Virgos tend to be sophisticated and kind people, making for excellent friends for life. They are intelligent and inspired by beauty, sometimes coming off as shy at first due to their need to be able to see the inner life of everyone they encounter, even themselves. Virgos also tend to be nit-picky and clean freaks, but that just creates more beauty in the Virgo’s eye. They also have a sarcastic sense of humor and are very concerned with how they are perceived by others, vying for the respect from others that they effortlessly give. Virgos are most compatible with emotional Cancers, and famous Virgos include Beyoncé, Blake Lively and Prince Harry. A Virgo’s purpose in life is to make sure the world keeps keeping on.


Libra (September 23-October 22)

The Scales are the symbols for Libra and they are respectively accurate. Librans value harmony, which is easy to see in the contrast between their love for intelligence and their tendency to be perceived as spacey. Their daydreaming, however, is what makes them successful. Librans can take anything imagined and make it a reality. Librans are very peace-loving people and can connect with almost anyone. A Libran’s best quality could arguably be their ability to compare and think in relative terms rather than in absolute terms, referring back to The Scales. A Libran’s purpose in life is to teach others good communication, and they’re most compatible with Geminis. Famous Librans include Kim Kardashian, Bruno Mars and Will Smith.


Scorpio (October 23-November 21)

Scorpios are the first most controversial sign in astrology. The Scorpions of Zodiac, they are first seen as intense creatures who are motivated by power. Sometimes they can be seen as manipulative since their nature is to not go out and grab what they want, but rather sit back and observe until the time is right. This isn’t necessarily negative considering a Scorpio will never give up. They are unafraid and passionate, making them seem intimidating at first. To sum up this seductive sign, horoscope.com says: “A Scorpio will be your most loyal friend, most dedicated employee–and your worst enemy, if they want to be.” Scorpios are most compatible with Cancers, and their purpose in life is to show everyone passion, whether it be towards people or just in the things you do. Famous Scorpios include Drake, Ryan Reynolds and Kris Jenner.


Sagittarius (November 22-December 21)

The adventurous Archers are the Sagittarians in Zodiac. They love freedom, traveling and straying from the pact. They are open-hearted and generous, but most importantly truthful. They will tell you how it really is but with only good intentions. Sagittarians love to learn and travel alone to really immerse themselves in what the world can teach them. They know what they want and won’t jeopardize that just to preserve the other person’s feelings. Sagittarians are generally easy-going and dislike a routine. A Sagittarian’s purpose is to discover and to seek the “new” in all things, and they are most compatible with Aries. Famous Sagittarians include Miley Cyrus, Chrissy Teigen and Jay-Z.


Capricorn (December 22-January 19)

The Capricorn, symbolized by the Goat, is usually fully in control of their destiny. They always get what they set their mind to and thrive on strict rules. They are realistic and want to do something worthwhile with their life, even enjoying the nicer things in life to show off their accomplishments (like nice clothes and expensive cars). Capricorns are known for getting things done but also for mastering humor. Their dry-sense of humor is what makes Capricorns enjoyable, along with their get-it-done personalities that extend to benefit the people in their lives. They are most compatible with Virgos, and their purpose in life is to give a meaning to friendship. Famous Capricorns include John Legend, Michelle Obama and Finn Wolfhard.


Aquarius (January 20-February 18)

The Water-Bearer Aquarians are clever, witty and intellectual people. They are open to change but are surprisingly stubborn and fixed in their opinions. They need space, freedom and individualism in order to strive. They have an intense love of helping others but require time alone to rejuvenate. Aquarians can come off as shy, but this is only time spent thinking about how to contribute to conversations and groups effectively. Aquarians are most compatible with Leos, and their purpose in life is to embrace the human in everyone and to show that the most important thing is to love one another. Famous Aquarians include Ellen Degeneres, Jeffrey Kopp and Ed Sheeran.


Pisces (February 19-March 20)

The final sign of the Zodiacs is Pisces. Pisceans, represented by The Fish, are considered the wisest of all the signs, being the oldest. They are gentle and adaptable, garnering the ability to relate to anyone yet always pining for understanding from others. They are usually sensitive to criticism and would rather spend time in their own world, wondering about life and the things it throws at Pisceans. Because of their sometimes woe-is-me attitude, Pisceans make for great poets or artists, driving off their angst and absent-mindedness. Expression is important to this sign, and their purpose in life is to show others the importance of emotional creativity. They are most compatible with Virgos, and famous Pisceans include Justin Bieber, George Washington and Kurt Cobain.

If the description of your sign doesn’t particularly relate to how you feel you are, don’t be discouraged! There are many other levels to your sign that will be published in due time. Since your sun sign is your style and purpose of life, those traits might not be as noticeable to you as other signs you were born under, such as your emotional moon sign, and if you were born on a cusp (the days before or after two signs), which is also a factor.

Book Review: ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ by Philippa Gregory

Poor Mary Boleyn. That’s all I could think as I read “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory. Being a major history nerd and an even bigger Henry VIII nerd, my mom recommended this book to me to feed into both obsessions. She is a staunch Philippa Gregory fan and raves about her historical fiction a lot, claiming that although it is not 100% accurate, the story is always enchanting. As soon as she told me to read “The Other Boleyn Girl,” I picked it up and could not put it down.

I will admit, you have to love historical fiction in order to love this book. You can probably love it without loving history, but it may be much harder to get into. The book takes place during the Tudor Era (approximately 1500s England) and stays true to the styles and customs of the time. Although it is written in modern day English, the

Photo By Emily Hickey

language is still slightly different, since speech was more formal and the ideas of the time were different. However, there are many more similarities than I believed, which looking on now makes me laugh. Of course people had relationships like those of today, why wouldn’t they? History paints a big, broad picture of a time period, leaving out the topics that it deems wrong, especially when it comes to women. While Mary Boleyn was frowned upon for having an extramarital affair, it was not uncommon. And sex before marriage wasn’t uncommon either, girls just were talented at pretending they were virgins before getting married. Small details like that are different from today’s societal mindset, but people were still people, just wearing corsets and boy-tights.

Philippa Gregory, in my opinion, does a wonderful job at conveying the confusing emotions young Mary goes through. Married at 14 and having an affair with the King of England by age 15, the poor girl is still a child through it all. She is a servant to her father and whichever man she is sleeping with at the time, but Philippa Gregory doesn’t let Mary become dim because of it. That’s just how times were. Her sister on the other hand is utterly rambunctious. Everyone knows Anne Boleyn and her fiery and manipulative personality, but Gregory amplifies it to lay out the path of destruction that she paves for the Boleyn family.

Despite Mary’s young age for most of the beginning, Gregory does an excellent job at letting Mary grow up. The feelings she had as a young girl differ from those at the end of the book, feelings of a young woman who has endured hardships, death, ridicule and being taken advantage of for the sake of the Boleyn family name. Her development throughout the story is prideful, to watch a young, spineless girl turn into a wise, brave woman is the kind of thing I enjoy reading. The emotions she experienced were real emotions that produced real reactions, some juvenile, some frustrating, but in the end, it’s captivating to read how Mary handles the life she is forced to live through a real approach. Not everything is black and white for the Boleyn family, and Mary has to grow up throughout the entirety of the book. It isn’t quick and sometimes she messes up, but in the end, she discovers what she really wants with her life and the journey to get there is worth it.

Mary’s duty to rise the Boleyn family up in the kingdom takes a toll on the young girl. To be ordered around from every male in your family and to have no say would have an impact on everyone, especially those who are not Anne Boleyn. While Mary’s father and uncle caused a lot of Mary’s stress, the major stressor in her life was definitely her sister. From the start, Anne was jealous of Mary for being married first and then chosen by the King to be his mistress. It’s a sisterly feud that Mary time and time again claims was the basis for their relationship, and as the reader watches Anne blatantly walk all over Mary throughout the story, Mary goes back to this one link that keeps them together: their sisterly competition. Because of their sisterhood, they will always love one another, but because of their competition, they will always hate the other, too. This mindset stirs within the reader the more Anne uses her power to destroy Mary after the former steals Henry, for Gregory didn’t write Mary as dumb, but rather an ideal woman of the time; a woman who allows her superiors to dictate her life. Anne is everything a woman should not have been: opinionated, loud, sexual and demanding. She demanded the King’s love and then demanded he reform an entire church to prove it to her. The only brave thing Mary does is marry for love, which follows with a banishment from court due to Anne’s apparent jealousy but what she claims is disobeying the crown. Despite her banishment, she is constantly summoned back for Anne’s comfort during tumultuous times, showing that the feud is alive along with the sisterly companionship.

The relationship between Mary and Anne is one to not be envious of. Anne is cruel and selfish while Mary is kind and loving. Mary cares about the simple things in life, like love, family and farming, while Anne is only concerned with power. These contrasting lifestyles lead to an unhealthy relationship between the sisters and one that Anne abuses once she is crowned Queen of England. Some would believe her sole motive is to make Mary miserable, but I saw through her strong demeanor and only saw a weak woman who is jealous of the simplicity Mary lives by and envies the love that Mary emits and attracts. Anne wants to be everything Mary is, but instead uses her fire to light flames around herself, burning everything in the process. Mary, although fragile at the beginning, grows a tolerance to Anne’s heat, and with her newly thick skin seeks out the life she has always wanted to live: a simple one with her husband and kids on the countryside. While Anne isn’t jealous of the farm life, she is jealous of Mary taking control of her own and finding a pure and healthy love with William, something Anne would never have with Henry.

Gregory includes a lot of fiction in her story, hence why it’s called historical fiction, but it’s not without purpose. There is so much that went on that no one knows about, especially conversations between the family and the King. Gregory uses this to her advantage to create a riveting story that focuses on the other Boleyn girl, sweet Mary. Mary is usually the forgotten of the family, but she no doubt plays an important role in Henry and Anne’s relationship. Gregory also adds a lot of speculations historians have conjured over time (like Mary birthing two of the King’s kids, which I researched and found no proof of), but again, it makes the story more dramatic. And I’m a drama fiend, added to the list of my love for history and Henry VIII (who sucks in this book. Fuck you, Henry).

I would highly recommend this story if you love history, historical fiction or any previous reason I’ve listed throughout. It’s well-written, addicting and produces real-life emotions that is sometimes hard to do in novels with depth, such as this one. You will fall in love with Mary and grow to despise Anne and Henry – if you didn’t already. Gregory did an excellent job with the story and leaves you wondering where Mary will go or what she will do next, surprising you every time as she grows as a person. Character development gets an A from me, as well as the plot. I may be biased with my love for the Tudors, but this book was truly compelling and I would definitely read it again along with others by Philippa Gregory.


Rating: 4/5 Stars

Book Review: ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell

I love Young Adult novels. There, I said it. I’m 20 years old and I feel giddy when I read about simplistic relationship standards. Maybe it’s the mixture of realistic and unrealistic that keeps me enchanted, or the simple language that lets me get lost in 114 pages in one hour, but “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell captured everything I love about Y/A.

During my sophomore year of high school (circa 2014), “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell rampaged through the Y/A universe. Everyone was reading about the red-haired girl and her Asian love interest. Of course, I fell in love with it. Rowell has an easy writing style, very similar to Suzanne Collins, author of “The Hunger Games”

Photo By Hailey Turpin

trilogy. Short sentences and facile words; I could swim through her sentences and feel like I wasn’t missing a beat. My love for “Eleanor & Park” led me to her other books, including “Fangirl.”

And did I love “Fangirl.” I still love that freaking book.

Cather Avery is in no way, shape, or form anything like me besides that we both like to read fanfiction. (One Direction got me. I was a pubescent in 2012, let me be.) Not just fanfiction, but gay fanfiction. Between two characters who are never going to end up together, but in our hearts, there’s no one better suited for the other. “Fangirl” is about Cath’s transition to college and trying to handle the adult world while still holding onto the biggest part of her youth: Simon and Baz from the Simon Snow series. The book begins with Cath moving into her dorm and meeting her roommate’s boyfriend. From there, Rowell jumps right in. You meet Cath quickly, her personality filtering into you as you read. That’s one thing I love about Rowell’s writing style; she molds characters into who they’re supposed to be. They’re distinguishable, they’re relatable, and best of all, they’re quirky. I love me some quirk.

The story is fairly long, but I got so lost in the story while reading, I lost track of page numbers. I would sit down at 10:30 p.m. to read, and the next thing I knew, it was 1 a.m. and I had just read through close to 200 pages. I was sucked into Cather Avery’s world and I honestly didn’t mind. Cath is unique; she is nerdy and emotional and nervous, three things I try to suppress. She allows herself to let it out and I love that about her. Not only that, Cath is real. She understands when things aren’t right and she feels bad when she does things wrong, even if they aren’t actually wrong. Like making out with her roommate’s boyfriend who isn’t actually her boyfriend but turns into Cath’s boyfriend. Ugh, the innocence.

Of course, this book is filled with fantasies. You don’t get a 100% realistic experience in any Y/A novel, especially written by one who is not the age of the main character. Life is better with fantasies, so reading all the cheesy lines exchanged between Cath and Levi made my heart flutter instead of repulse. The innocence is breathtaking. I know for a fact life is anything but innocent, but to read about it and feel it through the life of another, it’s nice.

Reading Y/A, in my opinion, is to live vicariously through the characters as they journey through their almost-perfect lives. Cath is awkward and adjusting horribly to college life, but she finds a writing partner who bounces off her writing as if they are two waves in the same tide. He ends up fucking her over, of course, but it brings back her twin sister who had abandoned her. Another bad thing in her life: her twin, best friend, soulmate abandoned her as soon as college started. This was a big deal considering they did everything together. Even shared a room until college. Imagine no privacy ever. Ew.

Cath struggles a lot. She struggles with being social, she struggles with adult things, she struggles with Wren (her twin sister) contacting their estranged mother again, and she struggles with feelings for boys. She is the conductor of the struggle bus, and reading her journey makes you feel sad for her but also root for her. That’s why I love Cath so much; she’s a fighter, no matter how quirky or awkward she is. And life molds around her, no matter how much she tries to mold herself around it. My advice to Cath Avery would be to just let it happen. Life sucks, but it’s also so good. Just like Y/A novels. Say all you want about them, I will agree many are naïvely terrible, but too many are innocently amazing, like “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell. Fall in love with Cather Avery like I did and read this book.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Book Review: ‘White Oleander’ by Janet Fitch

For months, my mom had been telling me to read “White Oleander” by Janet Fitch, and for months, I had been putting it off. My list of to-read books is too long for my preference, but it’s also inconvenient that I’m a college student who has virtually no time to read (hence, why my New Year’s resolution was to read one book a month). For February, I was unsure of what to read. I had just finished “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell and trying to find equal stimulation was going to be tough. My shelf is filled with classic novels, business novels recommended by my dad and other random books strewed in with titles I thought were interesting. I was unsure of what was to be the successor of “Fangirl,” so I chose “White Oleander.”

And boy, I’m glad I did. I have to admit, this book was not as stimulating as “Fangirl,” but it was calming in the way it probably shouldn’t have been. Astrid, a young Californian girl, lives with her manipulative hippie mother who goes to jail for killing her ex-lover, forcing Astrid to move throughout the foster system. She is met with too many obstacles a girl her age should have to go through, but it’s fascinating to watch her journey through each one and how she grows into an adult (probably too soon, but that’s what life does to you).

While it’s easy to tell Astrid is a young girl written by an adult, Janet Fitch still did a wonderful job with Astrid’s character development over the course of the book. Astrid in the beginning is completely different from Astrid at the end, an innocent girl with a warped perception of the world at the hands of her mother. Her presence is Astrid’s entire life turned the main character into a young adult hardened by the troubles she faced in the system, the people who took advantage of her and used her, who showed her love

Photo by Emily Hickey

then ripped it away, and a mother who was still trying to control every aspect of poor Astrid’s life from the letters sent from behind bars. When I closed the book after finishing it, I felt shell-shocked. This girl, younger than me, had experienced more than I could fathom, and the worst part was that it happens to girls like her in real life all. the. time.

Poor, orphaned or abandoned girls are sucked into a system that is said to be for their best interest, but is more interested in money and getting the kid into any home they can so the social workers can say they did it. Fitch’s characters were very well-written and had prominent personalities that were completely identifiable, and their interactions with Astrid only improved their written personas all while affecting Astrid’s character development, but in a good way – if good means Fitch’s ability to have a character grow rather than the actual situations Astrid was put through. Man, this girl had it tough. And sometimes, it hurt to read.

I imagine that’s exactly what Fitch wanted. To show that life really is unfair, and no matter how good or kind or beautiful you are, life hurts everyone, some more than others. Astrid more than the average person, and solely because she was good, kind and beautiful. Jealousy is gun-wielding dangerous, beauty is prostitution, slavery is only one meal a day. Just when I thought Astrid had gone through enough, Fitch added in another thing, and then another thing, and then another, just to remind us readers that life doesn’t end just because you’ve had enough, and it is to keep going that matters.

And to stick it to the big man – or mother, in Astrid’s case.

When Astrid finally let go of her oppressive mother, I could literally feel the freedom on the pages. A girl, tormented by life and the system for years on end, all the while her jailed mother scrutinized from the tiny cell block, finally found freedom in the most broken of homes and in the arms of the only person who ever saw her for her; not a product of her mother, not a ward of the system, not as a child, or as a broken adult, but as Astrid Magnusson. The girl who found herself while the world around her tried to tear her apart.

This book was almost as good as my mom had said it was. The only thing setting it back from receiving the full five stars from me is the adult language that Fitch wrote with. At times, I found myself bored at the slowness of the story, and it only seemed to go slow because of Fitch’s language. Some words were too big for Astrid’s age, and sometimes she was too wise for a 13-year-old. Besides the language discrepancies, I genuinely enjoyed reading “White Oleander” and I will never stop feeling unbearably sad for Astrid. She may have had a happy ending, but I will never be able to shake what she had to go through to get there.

Kudos, Janet Fitch.


Rate: 3.5/5 stars 

Retroactive: The Pop Culture that Shaped Us

Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon.

Jeffrey Kopp (A&E Editor)

Movie: “Tarzan” (1999) – This is a film that hits me in the feels every single time that I watch it. The soundtrack by Phil Collins adds so much emotional depth to the movie; “Two Worlds” and “You’ll Be in My Heart” are the definite standouts. This is by far my favorite Disney movie of all time; just thinking about it makes me want to find my copy of the VHS tape and take a trip back to the jungle.

Song: “Hey Ya!” (2003) by OutKast– The lyric, “shake it like a Polaroid picture” has been repeating on a loop in my head since 2003. The catchy beat immediately transports me back to the simpler times of elementary school; the deeper meaning behind the song flew over my head as a child, but I’ve been able to appreciate it more as an adult. This is a song that has stood the test of time and is definitely one of my all time favorites.

TV Show: “SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999-Present) –  Every generation has something that culturally defines them. In the case of millennials, that is Nickelodeon’s most iconic cartoon. I have so many fond memories of watching “SpongeBob” with my parents and friends, laughing at the absurd scenarios and jokes that have evolved into memes in recent years. Without any doubt, “Pizza Delivery” and “Band Geeks” are two of the greatest episodes in television history.

“Breakaway” album cover courtesy of Walt Disney/RCA

Stephanie Trefzger (Assistant A&E Editor)

Movie: “Twister” (1996) – Granted, I only saw this movie once as a child, but it probably had the biggest impact on my life.  It scared the absolute hell out of me, and I had nightmares about tornadoes ripping through my house. In an attempt to assuage my fears, my mother encouraged me to learn more about tornadoes, and suddenly I was obsessed with weather.  Despite the science in the movie being outdated, Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton inspire a love and fascination for storm chasing in me to this day, and it has been my dream job for the better part of my life. If only my mother would let me.

Song: “Breakaway” (2004) by Kelly Clarkson – I love drama, and this song, as well as the album by the same name is full of it.  When I was in the car and I heard the opening notes, I would immediately stare out the window like Clarkson describes and acted like I was in a music video.  This album is also part of the reason I have trust issues; upon its release in 2004, it was the only Christmas gift I asked for from my parents. My dad, however, bought 2003’s “Thankful.”  While this is an excellent album, I felt disappointed and betrayed.

TV Show: “Shark Week” (1988-Present) – Ok, so this is more an annual event than an actual TV show, but I got super hyped for it every year (and still do).  Maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces, but I have always loved the ocean, and after my disillusionment with dolphins, I became enamored with sharks instead. Due to my obsessive nature, I learned and accumulated enough knowledge about them over the last few years that I am able to take the fun out of any shark movie fairly quickly.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment.

Hunter Heilman (Editor-in-Chief)

Movie: “She’s the Man” (2006) – At the time, “She’s the Man” was basically the funniest film I had ever seen in my entire life. This 2006 teen adaption of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” was Amanda Bynes at her most charming, the 2000s at their most iconic, and teen comedies at their most genuine. Everything about this movie is peak nostalgia and perfect memories of a much simpler time.

Song: “The ABBA Generation” (1999) by A*Teens– There is no album I have listened to and loved more in my life than Swedish pop group the A*Teens’ 1999 debut album, The ABBA Generation. Comprised of nothing but ABBA covers, I was exposed to the magic of both teen pop and disco music all in one go. Personal favorites of the album are “Mamma Mia,” “Voulez Vous” and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight),” the latter of which still remains my favorite music video of all time. I love this album so much I can get emotional over it.

TV Show: “What I Like About You” (2002-2006)– I had a bit of a thing for Amanda Bynes when I was younger, as I simply found her to be the funniest person working in media targeted to people my age. I didn’t discover “What I Like About You” until shortly after it was canceled in 2006, but like “She’s the Man,” it showcased Bynes’ talents as more than just a child star. The chemistry in the hilarious cast and absolute lunacy of much of the show’s plot only cemented it more as my favorite sitcom ever.

Photo courtesy of Disney.

Kathleen Cook (Sports Editor)

Movie: “The Lion King” (1994)– I loved the songs and the characters – Timon was my favorite. I’ve actually never watched the scene where the dad dies though.

Song: “Come in Eileen” (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners– I thought it was actually “Come on Kathleen,” because my mom would always sing “Kathleen.” I was heartbroken when I first heard the song without my mom singing it and realized it was Eileen and not Kathleen.

TV Show: “Dragon Tales” (1999-2005)– I had the stuffed animals for all of the characters and had a dance routine I would do to their song.

Album art courtesy of Universal Records.

Alex Sands (News Editor)

Movie: “Beethoven” (1992)– I had three St. Bernards growing up and they all were as crazy as Beethoven in this film. They’re big slobbery messes with really big hearts and lots of love. The film is not only a nostalgic early 90s film, but it hits home.

Song: “Leave (Get Out)” (2004) by JoJo– I recently rediscovered this banger song. The only problem is the real version is not on Spotify. So whenever I want to listen to it in the car, I force myself to listen to D-Money’s remix. You may ask “Who is D-Money?” I don’t know, but he should stop rapping.

TV Show: “Lizzie McGuire” (2001-2004)– I would like to give a shout out to Bitmoji for fulfilling my childhood dream of having my own animated version of myself like Lizzie McGuire. I was a die-hard Hilary Duff fan when I was kiddo and watched the episodes over and over. To this day, I still ship her and Gordo.

Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon/Viacom.

Josh Worley (Video Editor)

Movie: “Gone With The Wind” (1940)– Growing up, I first remember watching this movie with my grandma. The movie takes place in a time period that I am most fond of from a historical perspective.

Song: “Africa” (1982) by Toto– Whoever says it’s not, can choke.

TV Show: “Hey Arnold!” (1996-2004)- The greatest cartoon to ever grace this universe. There were deep moments that, when you were a kid you didn’t really think about, but they hit home now.

Photo courtesy of Jive Records.

Hailey Turpin (Lifestyle Editor)

Movie: “Peter Pan” (1953)– I wanted to be apart of Peter’s Lost Boys and I would jump off the couch to try to fly like him. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Song: “Oh Aaron” (2001) and “Not Too Young, Not Too Old” (2001) by Aaron Carter– My sister and I religiously listened to Aaron Carter back in the 2000’s. I have no other words besides talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique.

TV Show: “The Fairly Odd Parents” (2001-Present) and “My Life As A Teenage Robot” (2003-2009)– As an elementary school kid I was very particular about the shows I watched, and those two were the most interesting to me! The graphics and storylines were so good, and still are. I will always love Chip Skylark.

Photo courtesy of Cartoon Network.

Pooja Pasupula (Photo Editor)

Movie: “Toy Story” (1995)– While Toy Story is not my number one favorite Pixar movie, it’s the movie that always reminds me of my childhood and brings me the most nostalgia. This movie was always playing on every TV when I was a child and there are so many iconic characters and scenes encased in it. It made childhood seem like the best thing ever to be apart of. The whole series is centered around the inescapable circumstance of growing up, and being hit with that inevitability as a child was always hard for me. The whole series brings back memories of clinging to childhood and not wanting things to change.

Song: “… Baby One More Time” (1998) by Britney Spears– A timeless classic that never fails to make me smile or sing along. I was never exposed to music as a child and when my aunt found out she started to play Spears’ album around the tiny townhome she shared with my family. It’s the first song I have any memory of. At the age of four, I had no concept of what dancing was, so I would skip around our townhome to the beat of this song as my way to jam along to it. Hearing this song throws me back to that memory and the nostalgia of what the 90’s/early 2000’s era felt like.

TV Show: “Teen Titans” (2003-2006)– I’ve always been enamored with superheroes and watching this show as a child was what sparked my adoration for them. While Wonder Woman and Batman have been my core favorites for most of my life, the Teen Titans were my first love. I used to feel very vulnerable and helpless as a child, but watching teen superheroes kick ass gave me hope to one day be as strong and brave as they are. They were who I looked up to and idolized.

Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema/Warner Home Video.

Leysha Caraballo (Photo Editor)

Movie: “Elf” (2003)– Watching “Elf” every Christmas season with my family was one of my favorite traditions growing up. Will Ferrell is so over the top ridiculous, as usual, but in a heartwarming way in this movie.

Song: “Numb” (2003) by Linkin Park– Linkin Park’s “Numb” showed me that music didn’t have to fit the pop music mold. I may have been a bit melodramatic, but I connected to the sound and message of the music. They were my absolute favorite band throughout my adolescence.

TV Show: “That’s So Raven” (2003-2007)– This show never got old for me, to the point where I watched multiple all-day marathons. Raven had sass, attitude and confidence – all of my favorite things!

Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon/Viacom.

Mia Shelton (Opinion Editor)

Movie: Seventeen Again” (2000)– Not the one with Zac Efron, but the one with Tia and Tamera Mowry. I loved this movie because it was a unique and fun concept; grandparents using soap that their grandson accidently spilled his science experiment on that makes them seventeen again was fun to watch. I also love Tia and Tamera and seeing them on television and acting started my passion for acting. Also the grandfather is very cute when he turns seventeen.

Song: Circle of Life” (2004) by the Disney Channel Circle of Stars– I loved it because it had all of my favorite actors and actresses sing in the song like Raven Symone, Christy Carlson Romano, Hilary Duff, Tahj Mowrey and many more. Hearing their unique voices combined on one of Disney’s greatest song from its most notorious movie was very moving and fun to sing along to.

TV Show: Kenan and Kel” (1996-2000)– I loved this show, because they always made laugh. Kel’s obsession with orange soda and Kenan’s elaborate plans to make money made my stomach hurt from laughing.

Photo courtesy of Reprise Records.

Emily Hickey (Managing Editor)

Movie: “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)– When I was four, I watched it every day for a year and insisted that my mom dress me up in my Dorothy dress and put my hair in the two braids. Every time I watch it now I am reminded of my childhood love for the movie and for the amazing soundtrack (that I still know by heart).

Song: “Landslide” (1975) by Fleetwood Mac– My aunt used to burn her favorite songs onto CD’s and give them to my mom, and as soon as my sisters and I listened to “Landslide,” it was immediately our favorite song and has been throughout our lives. When I was three, I put on a performance of the song in front of all of my extended family.

TV Show: “Ghost Whisperer” (2005-2010)– Starting in elementary school, every Friday my dad and I would watch the new episode aired at 8 p.m. Despite after a few years it scared me too much to continue watching it, it’s still my favorite because of the time spent with my dad.

Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox.

Daniel Head (Technical Director)

Movie: “Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977)– Duh! I watched this movie and fell in love with the “Star Wars” universe. I was obsessed with the idea of intergalactic travel and warfare, and loved the characters. Everything about the movie was great to me, and I’m still obsessed with “Star Wars.”

Song: “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” (2005) by Panic! At the Disco– I loved the sound song, and pretty much all of my friends did too. Just singing along with all my friends makes it memorable.

TV Show: “Stargate SG-1” (1997-2007)– I grew up with it and, again, I was obsessed with science fiction and the characters. I think that just the depth of the characters and the universe was enough to make me look forward to next week’s episode; to see some awesome new world, new alien race, or new piece of technology. A good plot was just the cherry on top for me back then.

Photo courtesy of Disney.

Angie Baquedano (Assistant Lifestyle Editor)

Movie: “Hercules” (1997)– I love Disney and I practically grew up on it, and when they introduced the movie they brought in my love for Greek mythology. The music was exceptional and I had the BIGGEST crush on Hercules (or should I say HUNK-ules).

Song: “Jailhouse Rock” (1957) by Elvis– I’ve had this really weird obsession with him since I was a kid. I can’t explain why or how this happened, but it did and I’m actually his wife, so…surprise.

TV Show: “Rocket Power,” (1999-2004) “Cat Dog” (1998-2005) and “Hey Arnold!” (1996-2004)– It might be impossible for me to choose just one for this. Apart from being a Disney kid, I was definitely a Nickelodeon child.

Album art courtesy of RCA Records/Columbia Records.

Madison Dobrzenski (Assistant Opinion Editor)

Movie: “The Ultimate Christmas Present” (2000)– I loved this movie so much as a kid, and to this day I can’t really explain why. I think it’s just because I also didn’t experience a lot of snow, so I empathized with them? I also loved anything Brenda Song was in when I was a kid, so that might have had something to do with it.

Song: “Girlfriend” (2007) by Avril Lavigne– I used to blare this song with my friends when I was in elementary school, despite being absolutely no one’s love interest, because we were like 12. I can still throw down to it to this day.

TV Show: “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” (2005-2008)– I loved this show for a lot of reasons. One, there was a smart character with the same name as me. Secondly, I always felt “different” because the show paints Zack out to be the cute and cool twin, but I had a crush on Cody.

Ivanka Trump is not for the people

Before her father’s historical takeover of the White House, Ivanka Trump was known somewhat as a beauty icon. The kind of beauty icon that attracts her father’s praise in March of 2006 when he infamously – and creepily – stated that: “…if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” This is how Ivanka was known to the world: as Donald Trump’s beautiful daughter that even he would date. Despite this, Ivanka made a name for herself through modeling and in her father’s business. Nepotism was not an issue in regards to business, so it is no surprise the same treatment was offered when Donald Trump took office, regardless if she is working for free or not. Now an Advisor to the President, Ivanka is climbing the political ladder one ring at a time. During the Presidential election process, Ivanka had only a minor role in her father’s campaign. However, her involvement in Trump’s administration has not gone unnoticed. Her lingering presence in everything her father does has gained an immense amount of media attention as the American people try to figure out whether this reflects positively on her White House influence or negatively on the President’s capabilities. Important meetings that were once for the President have seen Ivanka in the press room alongside him. The first-daughter even seems to be surpassing the first-lady’s role in press and volunteerism, and thanks to Michael Wolff’s new book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”, it’s apparent her hard work is going towards the bigger goal: replacing her own father. As of the first week of the new year, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner’s “Clinton-style” pact has come to light in the media. According to “Fire and Fury”, the duo’s involvement in the Trump presidency has been more or for their own benefits. According to Wolff, it was decided that Ivanka would be the one to run if the opportunity presented itself. This is no surprise considering the noticeable differences in personalities as Ivanka is the more outgoing of the pair while Jared is described as a “helper-outer.”, yet I disagree with anyone who says she has the capacity to hold the job of President of the United States.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump is hot-headed and foul-mouthed; he is always under fire for what he says, respectfully so, and seems to garner more hate than praise for the few actions he has taken in office. Ivanka, however, has tended to stay tight-lipped on important situations, like the transgender military ban and the most recent nuclear button war with Kim Jong Un. While one can argue she has limitations that prevent her from speaking out, like fact that she is the President’s daughter, I argue that she is wasting her platform. She claims she tries to stay out of politics but inserts herself into business that first-daughters aren’t necessarily supposed to be in. Trump even tweeted: “She’s a great person – always pushing me to do the right thing!” For someone who tries to stay out of politics, especially an Advisor to the President, it is hard to believe she hasn’t taken a passenger seat next to the conductor of Capitol Hill. When Ivanka has spoken out, it has been flooded with faux-feminism. Finally, a woman who is hardworking and driven – of course, with help from her billionaire father – has the ability to lift women up and commend them. Her favorite saying is “Women Who Work”, yet fails to protect the women in underdeveloped countries who used to work for her in terrible conditions, like 18 hour work days and abusive management. She hasn’t expanded the child tax credit, despite being a mother of three, and was again tight-lipped when it came to her father supporting a bill that impeded the access of birth control for women. While she may have the ability to decide to have three children to experience the joys of motherhood with no hindrance, not everyone does. Not only that, but one would think her determination to get women working would result in prioritizing equal pay for all genders, but that doesn’t seem too important either. While I can praise Ivanka’s determination to use her father’s failures for her own gain and to potentially take his job, I don’t want her to. She has limitations in the things she can do of course, but to become the first woman president, you have to prove you are for women to gain the votes of women. With the few things I mentioned, it is clear to me she is not for women, and I’m not too sure if she’s for everyone in general, considering her silence on the transgender military bill. Her hard-work is geared towards White House position holding, not in actual policies that affect the everyday people of the United States. Ivanka and Jared show themselves to be just like the majority of the people on Capitol Hill: out to make a name for themselves. Once she can prove to me that she is capable of fighting for the people against those who try to push them down, I may change my mind, but until she shows her true opinions in regards to her own father, I don’t believe she can be the next President.

Iced Pumpkin Caramel Macchiato

Everyone is familiar with Starbucks’ fifth-best iced coffee drink, the Caramel Macchiato. It’s rated fifth on 1912pike.com, but I rate it first in my heart. Being a latté kind of girl, this says a lot about me. There is something about the caramel, vanilla, milk and coffee blend that go so well together and force me to restrain myself from finishing my drink in one sip. With the approach of autumn and my slight pumpkin obsession preparing to go into full swing, I decided to add a shot of pumpkin to my Caramel Macchiato. The only adjective I have to describe it is amazing.

First of all, pumpkin is good. Don’t listen to Matt Bellassai slander its name on Whine About It and don’t listen to anyone else whose life purpose is to bring others down. If people can openly enjoy cauliflower, let people enjoy pumpkin. Its versatility is exciting: pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin coffee, etcetera. The possibilities are endless, but what can you do with cauliflower? Cook it? And then what? Case closed. Pumpkin is here to stay.

Photo Courtesy of Emily Hickey

Second, the ordering process is easy. I ordered my drink from the same Starbucks location twice in one weekend, and each time it was delicious. All you have to do is order a regular Caramel Macchiato and ask for pumpkin to be added. They will probably make sure you still want the caramel and vanilla, so say yes. However, the first time I got my coffee with soy milk instead of whole milk and I liked that much better. The drink with whole milk had bologna undertones, but that could be because I don’t like regular milk and my sister (who hates pumpkin and coffee) said that’s what it tasted like. Don’t listen to her, it tasted good regardless.

Since North Carolina’s version of autumn is 90º Fahrenheit with 100% humidity, iced coffee is generally the way to go. To still immerse yourself in the fall spirit, the shot of pumpkin is necessary. Not only is the drink refreshing, but the addition of pumpkin to the already iridescent caramel and vanilla swirl makes for a great photo-op. The constant bursts of flavor keep you guessing which one you’re going to get with each sip; will it be vanilla, caramel, pumpkin or all-in-one? Just that thrill alone keeps you wanting more.

I would definitely describe myself as a coffee connoisseur. To me, coffee is more important than eating sometimes, it’s that bad. Although I have my favorite coffees, I am always willing to try new things. Give me a recommendation and I will try it. Give me pumpkin and I will try it twice, love it so much, then write an article about it. Seriously, if you want a cool pumpkin drink for the fall, try the Pumpkin Caramel Macchiato. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Charlotte Fashion Week

It’s that time of year again: the season of fashion. When you log onto social media or watch the news, I’m sure you’re bombarded with pictures of models, celebrities, fashion designers and big cities filled with good looking people. It’s what happens every spring and fall; high-end designers flood the walkways in the major cities to showcase their seasonal lines in events like New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week and London Fashion Week. Even low-end designers in smaller cities showcase their designs, and I had the privilege to attend Charlotte’s very own fashion week called Charlotte Seen, created and directed by Rita Miles, held in the Embassy Suites in Uptown.

Being a lover of apparel and fashion, this opportunity was an amazing experience. The event took place over a span of five days, starting Tuesday, September 26 and ending Saturday, September 30. I was only able to attend Thursday night’s show due to my hectic schedule, but I still felt the thrill and glamour that goes along with the entire production.

Thursday night’s show was Boutique and Opera Carolina Recyclables Runway Show and included local designers ranging from Versona Boutique in South Charlotte to Karl Lagerfeld. The variety in designers and products kept the audience enticed as it strayed far from monotony. There was a show for every person in the audience with female lines, male lines, co-ed lines and child lines. The material presented included clothing, bags, glasses, formal attire and more, giving everyone a look into different apparel that is predicted to take over in the upcoming fall season.

Since the contributors to this particular show were majorly local boutiques, they targeted the younger Charlotte crowd. Many lines showcased young adult fashion while others showcased children’s clothing. The young adult fashion included darker tones and cozy looks that were influenced by the ‘70s. The colors popular were brown, maroon, red and pale pink, the latter being an addition to the typical fall color palette. Velvet dresses, flare pants and vests were popular among the looks. The accessories popular were long necklaces, chokers, glasses and boots. Boots were everywhere; over-the-knee boots, riding boots, ankle boots, you name it. The glasses were a regular in each line since the designer was a local man trying to promote his business. The boutiques only targeted the female crowd, but there were two lines from Dillard’s that included males.

The fall fashion for males has always tended to stay the same with sweaters and pants, but this year I saw the stray from skinny jeans to fitted jeans, meaning the ankles weren’t being suffocated, but the jeans were still hugging their legs comfortably. Many males also sported fake glasses, a trend that is taking over the social scene. The children’s lines, like the males, didn’t include as much variety as the female lines, but that is a given. Female fashion dominates, all others have to try to keep up.

The first children’s line was clown themed to bring fun into the show. As soon as the first child walked out, the entire crowd released a choir of awes. They modeled bright blues, reds and yellows, and sported their tulle skirts and crazy headbands with a confidence I wish I had. The second children’s line was sponsored by Dillard’s, so the models wore casual ‘70s influenced clothing and some formal attire. In my opinion, the children were the best part of the show for they kept it humble and reminded the audience that the Charlotte community is a tight-knit family.

There were more lines that modeled bags than I would have expected. There was one for weekend bags, one for wallets and one created by Karl Lagerfeld. Trust me, I was losing it when his name was announced. The intertwining of local and famous names solidified my experience, letting me feel proud for the people in my city while also showing me that we are taken somewhat seriously in the fashion world. Not only were the lines well walked, the atmosphere of the place was welcoming and held the air of a fashion show. Local artists had tables set up to greet you as you walked in, and the runway was designed just like one you might see in New York or London.

Charlotte Seen was an outstanding production and one I am glad to have been able to attend, even if it was only for one night. Now I know to plan my schedule next year to attend every show and feel the same glamour I felt on September 28.

Tips for being more organized

If you walked into my bedroom right now, there would be clothes all over the floor, water glasses on every surface, and three different types of cookie packages on my desk. Messiness is a part of my life, but disorganization is not. There may be cookies on my desk, but my wall planner above it is neatly color-coded for each event. My clothes may be all over, but my assignments are tucked away in folders for each class. Being organized is not hard, as long as you find what helps you. Here are some things that have helped me become more organized.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Make lists. The biggest thing that helps me is making lists. If I don’t write everything down, I’ll end up forgetting and freak out. I have a grocery list, a to-do list, a retail shopping list, and a homework list. There’s nothing worse than going to the grocery store and forgetting to buy essentials because you couldn’t remember, and there’s nothing worse than not having your homework done before a class because you forgot to write it down. If you think you won’t forget, take the extra precaution so you really don’t forget and write it down.

Utilize reminders. The Reminders app on iPhones is truly a gift from Apple God, a.k.a. Steve Jobs. It’s not just one of those annoying already installed apps, it’s a lifesaver. The app reminds me of important times I need to remember and places I need to be. Not only am I messy, but I’m forgetful as well, so being reminded to do something is a requirement. Since I’m always on my phone anyway, having the reminder pop up on my screen is super beneficial, and I’m no longer late for everything/don’t miss anything anymore.

Strategize your notes. There are many ways to take notes, but some ways are flat out bad note taking strategies. To fully capitalize on what you learned in a class, it is important to take notes in an organized and thorough manner. Obviously, that doesn’t mean writing word-for-word what the professor says, but try to structure notes in a way that categorizes the different topics you learn and the important details for each topic. If your notes are not aesthetically pleasing (even with bad handwriting), they are probably bad notes.

Folders and labels. For ultimate organization, keep all of your assignments for one class together. The easiest way to do this is by using folders. Having a folder for each class is helpful, and labeling them as such will help even more. This way you will never have to scramble looking through five different classes worth of work. Not only does this work for classes, but it also is good for life documents. For example, I have a folder for all of my paychecks and check receipts. Considering I pay in check for bigger things, such as rent, I know this folder is for important finances. Another folder I have holds all of my important documents, such as my birth certificate and medical documents, and another folder has a collection of birthday cards and ticket stubs. I would consider folders and labels almost as important as making lists because they keep all of your stuff in one, easy-to-find place.

Using these tips can help someone become more organized, and maybe even set them on the path of getting their life together, like me. Being a college student, it is extremely important to be organized or else you take the risk of falling behind. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than falling behind in college, so take the initiative now and become more organized.

Juggling real life and the college world

Moving away to college is a challenge that takes all by storm. Adjusting to adulthood while trying to juggle good grades, a social life and extracurricular activities can drive students more than crazy, and it takes most a while to get into the groove of everything. In some cases, students have to add a job to their list of things to do, making the adjustment that much harder. Here are some tips for juggling a job while maintaining being a student.

Time management. It may seem like common sense, but a lot of students struggle with managing their time. There is always the problem of taking on too many things but, if you’re like me, the problem of procrastination. If you know you have to go into work, it is better to budget your time as if you are budgeting money. Allow yourself enough time before and/or after work to complete assignments and give yourself some extra time between each task for life to happen. Don’t push anything back or else you may risk being late. If you really don’t feel like doing the assignment, just do it anyway. You’ll thank yourself later when you don’t get cut until 11:30 p.m. and you have to wake up for a 9:30 a.m. the next day.

Prioritize what’s important. It may seem like friends and social settings are what’s most important, especially if you’re a freshman, but it’s better to realize now that school

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

is the most important, with your job coming after. I’m not saying being social isn’t important, but if you know you have to work at 5 p.m. and have an assignment due the next day, it’s smarter to work on the assignment than hang out in a friend’s dorm. Yes, it is the boring option, but real life is boring most of the time. It’s just how it works, unfortunately.

Create a rhythm. Most of the time, your work hours will be consistent. Even though your homework will fluctuate, class times will also be a constant. Try to make a plan each week that will help you do what you need to get done. Once you get into this groove, it will become easier and easier as the weeks go on and eventually it will just become routine, like brushing your teeth.

Talk to your professors/employer. If life becomes too much, don’t be afraid to talk to your professors and/or employer. They are (hopefully) understanding people who will work with you to make sure you can handle your responsibilities. If they are not, they probably have hearts the size of the Grinch. However, you have to try to work with them and you can’t expect them to make exceptions for you if you are not trying. Don’t be afraid or ashamed, everyone has to deal with life too.

Remember to put yourself first. It can be challenging being thrown straight into adulthood with barely any preparation beforehand. Although school and work are important, you are the most important. Don’t forget to tend to your needs and listen to yourself. Life can be boring and life can be hard, but it’s vital to keep entertainment and health at the forefront. If you don’t incorporate the things that keep life going, it will only go downhill. Using the other suggestions listed, it can be easy to find the balance between adult life and student life.

You are in college. This is where you learn how to adult, and if you are not that good at it at first, don’t be discouraged. Everyone else is learning right alongside you. This is the time for you to finally experience the world around you and how it works while also finding where you belong. It may be hard at first being a student employee, but when that first paycheck comes in, it will all be worth it. Work hard, study immensely, but most importantly: have fun.

Book Review: ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ by Ken Kesey

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For the longest time, one of my best friends kept badgering me to read “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey. She ranted and raved about how amazing the book is, and since it’s a literary classic, I decided to give it a try. I’m really intrigued by mental asylums and people with mental disorders, so I was excited to dive right in, especially since Kesey spent a lot of time shadowing asylum patients to craft each character 100% accurately. I was prepared to cry, laugh and feel every other emotion she swore I would. After finishing the book, it’s safe to say the only thing I felt was a small amount of sympathy at maybe two parts.

Going into it, I had high hopes for this book. I had heard so many good things about it and I always take advice from my friends with a lot of heart. The beginning was slow, but whenever I start a book I always make myself finish it. It takes a lot to interest me, so at least getting through the first two chapters is important for me to actually get into a good book. That’s what I expected to happen, but I never ended up getting into it like I should have.

It was only halfway through the book that I realized why it was boring me: there’s no apparent plot. To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what the plot is. McMurphy is there to shake up the hospital, but since it’s narrated by Chief, it confused me a lot. Chief is a half-Native American patient who has vivid hallucinations and believes he is trapped in a corporation called the Combine. Since he has such deep hallucinations, Kesey uses too many descriptive words to describe everything, and it’s a bit much for my taste. It only contributed to my confusion. If you are too descriptive, my mind gets lost. The simpler the better for me. I appreciate his need to include the descriptive scenes to fully encapsulate how cuckoo Chief is and the symbolism behind his visions but  it was just too much in my opinion.

Once you get past parts I and II, I admit, it does get better. Since McMurphy’s goal is to defy the warden, Nurse Ratched, it’s thrilling to see him rebel and go through the series of conflicting emotions he feels. Nurse Ratched has the ward wrapped around her finger and plays into each character’s insecurities in order to maintain power, so to read McMurphy’s outright defiance was riveting. Only towards the end of Part IV is when I found the most interest in the novel. A series of events that you don’t expect play out, resulting in a conflicting ending.

Whether it’s happy, sad or both is totally up to your own interpretation. I understand why people rave about this book, yet I didn’t feel the same effect. If I had to rate it, I’d probably give it 3 out of 5 stars, which isn’t bad, but isn’t necessarily good either. It’s definitely a book you are really into or are really bored throughout. Don’t let this review discourage you from reading it if you wanted to; you may have a different experience than I did. There’s two sides to every story, and I just couldn’t find the good side of this one.