Strong Reactions / Happy holidays, Charlie Brown

Roxanne Timan ,  Multimedia Editor Follow her at  @Roxlobster

Roxanne Timan, Multimedia Editor
Follow her at @Roxlobster

Roxanne Timan, Multimedia Editor
Follow her at @Roxlobster

Among all of the chaos of the holiday season, one thing our culture depends on to save us is cheesy TV specials. One of the hallmark cartoons to watch is a “Charlie Brown Christmas”. However, 1965 was so long ago that Millennials cannot relate anymore. Our generation has changed drastically since then, and Charlie Brown needs to face a millennial makeover to keep up.

The special starts with Charlie Brown going on about how Christmas is too depressing. He does not have any friends to send him a Christmas card, though he sent out many. This is the equivalent to being left on “read” or someone opening your snapchat without responding in our hip generation. It is rude not to respond and quite embarrassing to be ignored.

Yet, Charlie Brown goes completely savage. He says, “Thanks for the Christmas card you sent me, Violet.” She responds, “I didn’t send you a Christmas card, Charlie Brown!” If you are going to call someone out, you need to have a good comeback ready, CB.

Continuing through the film, Charlie Brown bitches about the commercialization of Christmas ruining his family. His dog Snoopy decorates his doghouse for a neighborhood contest, which makes Charlie Brown sick. If CB was really PC, he would applaud Snoopy for his creativity, and even give him a participation award. While trying to help his sister Sally, she asks Santa to “Just send money. How about 10s and 20s.” She does not understand the value of money. She cannot even write yet. Charlie does not care and makes fun of her. Fast-forward to our upbringing, where we are taught to educate one another, not bring each other down for things we cannot comprehend. Insensitivity is not cool. As Linus and Charlie Brown go out to get a tree for the Christmas play, Charlie decides to get a weak little twig of a tree instead of a nice, conventional one. He has good intentions, but seriously, a tree that can barely hold an ornament should not be your first pick.

I am starting to feel like Charlie Brown would fit the stereotype of a hipster douche in our generation. He is likely to be seen thumbing through crate after crate of vintage vinyl records, scoffing at anyone who enjoys anything mainstream, including some holiday cheer.

By the end, the children steal decorations from Snoopy’s doghouse to spruce up the tree for Charlie Brown. They never even ask the dog, which is one of the first rules we learn as a toddler: do not steal. The children make the tree shine like the ones sold in the farm. But the tree was bought because “it needed a home,” not to make it conform. If we are all seen as “special snowflakes” then why did the children need to make it like all of the others? We are all unique, unless you are a sickly-looking tree, then you need to change according to the Peanuts.

This outdated mess makes sure to seal the deal on the misunderstood youth of today as the characters scream, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!” After ripping on this whole cartoon special, I finally feel for the cynical Charlie Brown. Millennials know better than to say “Merry Christmas!” So this one is for you: Happy Holidays, Charlie Brown.

0 to 100 / The finish line

As my last semester of school approaches, I cannot help but recount how the past few years I have spent at EC have molded me as a person and shaped my outlook on things. In retrospect, the changes I see are all positive.

When I first started, I was not so sure I would finish. Graduation seemed eons away, like an ungraspable task that could never be accomplished. I could not help but trick myself into believing that obtaining a Bachelor’s degree was a dream and nothing more. Education is not an option in my family, but beyond that I knew it was something I wanted to do for myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I could stick to something through the end. At times, however, it seemed impossible.

So many nights I spent sprawled over my laptop, six cups of chai already consumed, hair a mess, hours flying by with each second I blinked. In those moments I wanted nothing more than to call it quits.

Now here I am, just weeks away from being finished for- ever, and the reflection has me pondering the lessons I have learned along the way.

Sometimes, friends are closer than family and can break the barrier of blood. They can prove themselves to be intimate soul connections that feed you positive energy when all you wish to do is sulk. Maybe our best friends — I mean true, genuine friends — are people we connected with in a previous life. I do not leave any possibilities out anymore, another thing that changed about me this year.

I truly believe friendships are the most valuable thing this earth possesses. Without them, I am not sure where I would be right now. My friends push me to be better, tell me I deserve better when I cannot see it myself and force me to look at things from a different perspective when I need to. Good friends are everything. Over the past couple years, I have lost tons, but in return gained a few gems. The switch made all the difference.

And sometimes, your family knows you better than you know yourself. My dad is forty-six years older than I am, so I guess he knows a little bit more about life than I do. All the times I doubted the advice he gave me, I ended up regretting it (though most of the time I never admitted it.) I carry too much pride still. But I am learning.

My point is this: family (in most cases) are the people who look out for your best interests at heart. They want my well being with nothing in return. They go to the ends of the universe for me even when I wish to fight my own battles and strive for independence. They are annoying as all hell, and they screw me up a little, but I have learned that all their pushing is only to force me to do better.

And if I have learned anything about myself, it is that I am ultimately more intelligent, caring and stronger-willed than I used to give myself credit for. The good in me outweighs the bad, and if I come to blows with my personal problems, I know now that I am strong enough to overcome them. Too many times I was scared about what lay ahead for me, and too many times I thought my issues would swallow me whole. But every single time I have proven myself wrong. And I am so glad.

College is somewhat of an other worldly experience. It is different for every person but certain elements stay the same: you hate yourself, you cannot remember the last time you got decent shut-eye, you live in the library and you meet interesting people you are certain you will not forget.

So I leave with this: gratefulness for the two years I was able to spend on this campus, growing and nurturing and flowering my mind so that it is ready for the next phase of my life, the friends I made along the way and the work that forced me to put all my effort and energy into what I believe matters.

The details of the rest of my life are insignificant. They do not matter. I will make it up as I go. All I can do is live in the moment and know that each one is a blessing from the universe.

Within and Without / Under pressure

Every year, around this point in the semester, it is inevitable that we students begin experiencing the effects of school-related stress. This is only added to by a myriad of other factors: the political climate, the meteorological climate, the economy and our lives at home.

Not that we were not experiencing incredible stress before, no, we were, but now is when dealing with that stress begins to feel insurmountable.

Projects, papers and exams begin to build up and finals loom in the distance, yet paradoxically the end of the semester somehow feels further away than ever. We become desperate to fulfill all of the requirements we have stacked up for ourselves, like an increasingly growing, wobbly Jenga tower ready to collapse the next time one block is pulled out of place.

During this time, the pressure upon us can be great enough to break us. We may even come crashing down. But it is okay.

In my time as a college student, my yearly mental breakdowns seem to arrive around this time like clockwork. The anxiety from the stress and the pressure builds, making it more difficult to get things done, which makes more things pile up, which causes more anxiety, only agitating my preexisting anxiety and depression.

This exhausting vicious cycle of anxiety and stress is incredibly real, and is one you might be intimately familiar with as a college student or even just as a human being.

This chronic condition of pre-occupation is one that we have adopted with responsibilities piling upon responsibilities.

We are trained as we grow up to stay busy: to do as much as possible, to take on as many projects as possible, to be more ambitious, to be competitive. Pressure grows as we build relationships and expectations from our professors, our friends, our families and most of all ourselves which combine to weigh us down and break us.

Which is why it is okay to ask for help. It is okay to fail sometimes. It is okay to distract ourselves from the pressures we face, and who could blame us?

When you are feeling so totally overwhelmed, skip class, call in sick to work, take a nap, indulge in distractions, binge watch Netflix, listen to your favorite album, have amazing sex, meditate, pray, eat ridiculous amounts of food, exercise, go to The Wellness Center, talk to a therapist, call your parents, talk to a random stranger, ask a friend for a hug, do whatever you need to do to get through this. Do whatever you need to keep yourself from crashing down into a jumbled, stress-induced heap of stress.

And most importantly, be happy. Because, although it may be cliché, life is too short not to be.

Coffee Talk / French Presses

If you are an avid coffee drinker and have not heard of a french press, you should definitely look into it.  It is certainly a contender for my favorite brew method. The french press is comprised of two main components.  First, a glass beaker that comes in many sizes ranging from 8 ounces to 50 ounces. Second, a lid with a plunger that has a screen attached.  To properly brew a french press, use 7-8 grams of coffee per 6.7 ounces of water. Coffee should be coarsely ground and resemble sea salt. Add a little bit of hot water to the top of the coffee to allow it to bloom.

Blooming refers to the escape of gasses from the coffee. Next, wait 45 seconds and then pour the rest of your water.  Put the lid with plunger on and press down until the screen submerged about an inch.  This ensures that the coffee is fully submerged in the coffee.  Allow the coffee to rest that way for four minutes.  Next, slowly and gently depress the plunger, pour, and enjoy.

I love french presses.  They offer a robust flavor and heavy “mouth feel,” which refers to the viscosity of the coffee. Generally french presses result in thick and syrupy coffee.  This pairs nicely with darker roasts. Flavor profiles to look for when enjoying french press coffee include chocolaty, smoky, woody and earthy flavors.  If you are a dark roast lover, this is the brew method for you.

However, the french press does offer some limitations.  Generally speaking, light roast coffees do not turn out exceedingly well.  It seems as though the thick, syrupy consistency does not lend itself to the light, bright, and often acidic tones of light roast coffees.  Also, you typically do not want to drink the very last sip of a french press.  More often than not, very fine coffee grounds make their way past the filter(s) and end up in the last sip of the cup. I always forget this fact and get a mouth full of sandy coffee grounds. Not so fun.

I would give french press brewers an A-.  They are great for college students because all they require is the french press itself, an electric tea kettle, and coffee.  They brew a phenomenal dark roast coffee with all of the robust “mouth feel” one could want.  However, they are pretty severely limited to dark roast and (typically) flavored coffees.  All in all, the french press stacks up to be a formidable opponent.

Man-slaughter / White women failed us

Like many, I was shocked at the results on election night. However, the most surprising result of election night was not that Donald Trump won, but that 53 percent of all white female voters cast their ballot for him.

While 94 percent of Black women and 68 percent of Latina women voters cast their ballot for Hillary Clinton, more than half of white women voters supported Trump.

Before this election, I naively thought feminism was colorblind. I understood the existence of dominant white feminism and its problematic nature, but assumed that when all women were under attack, feminists from every religion, race and ethnicity would be united.

How wrong I was. No, the “diverse” sisterhood is not dead. It had never existed.

It should not be so shocking that white women voted how white men wanted them to. After all, historically it was not white women who stood by women of color as they strove to be recognized as equals in society, and continue to do so. The women’s suffrage movement may as well have had a large entry sign that read, “Non-white women need not apply.”

And as women often do — white women sacrificed their own self-interest for the interest their husbands, fathers and brothers, prolonging the preservation of white supremacy and male privilege. Many white women voted for Trump because it was politically expedient. Because they could.

It is time to understand that women of color can no longer rely on white women to fight our battles for us. We are less privileged and therefore hold less power than them and this means we will have to work twice as hard. But it is essential to understand that the fears of all women in this country are diverse as we are. White women will never have to confront those who perceive their presence in this country to be a threat. White women will never have to be victims of racist institutional policies. It is not easy being a woman, but it is even harder being a woman of color.

It is also time to recognize that internalized sexism and inherent patriarchy that underlie our society played significant roles this election. Women can still be, and quite often are, both perpetrators and victims of misogyny. When we condition women to believe that they are less than, that men’s sexually abusive attitudes are normal, then they will admire those who seek to undermine them and reject other women on the basis of these conditionings.

Although white women’s race impacted their vote, discount- ing the role that many women’s implicit, subconscious self-hatred had in this election is imprudent because who they cast their ballots for signals a larger problem — a society where women can vote, but men hold the political power because of entrenched patriarchy, which in turn keeps women’s progress and advancement at a stand-still.

Now more than ever women of color must give white women an ultimatum: you are either with us or against us. The mobilization of a new feminist movement, this time on the backs of women of color, must begin.

If not, the glass ceiling will remain unshattered.

Strong Reactions: Stop the slacktivism

Roxanne Timan ,  Multimedia Editor

Roxanne Timan, Multimedia Editor

Roxanne Timan, Multimedia Editor
Follow her at @Roxlobster

Logging on to Facebook has become a very problematic situation. Your friend from high school changes her profile picture to show respect for a recent tragedy, another friend shares a shocking photo of racist graffiti sprawled across a brick wall connected to the recent election, another posts Joe Biden and Barack Obama memes in efforts to “lighten the mood”. Nothing will change as a result of these posts, just something new to laugh at or something else to comment on.

With the rise of social media comes the creation of the term slacktivism to go with it. It can be defined as a way of using the internet to show support without direct participation. Though it has been an ongoing issue, this election result is proving its ineffectiveness to provide solutions to our grieving country.

After the election results, many Americans expressed their fear of harassment, dehumanization and even deportation. Those who need the help of free health clinics and support groups feel the shift of the republican party getting ready to pull the tablecloth out from under them. The fear is real, and their voices are strong.

Some put their soul into their reactions online, but are only greeted with retweets and replies. Unfortunately, telling someone “how brave they are” and “that they will pull through” these next four years will not erase the target on their back. It is not going to be just a step back for America, but so many people are about to get stepped on too.

We all feel the impact of this election in some way, so it is time we do something to promote positive change. Instead of worrying about the future, being proactive in our communities can lead to a domino effect of positive solutions. Rebuilding from this will not be easy, but hard work will pay o in ways that words cannot.

Though it may seem faster to click “share” on your phone, working together through peaceful protests, donating to trustworthy organizations and just being available to those who need it right now can have long lasting effects on our country.

For example, this year provided the biggest population of registered voters this country has ever seen. That includes the largest amount of young people, going to the polls to do their civic duty. Yet, a part of our civic duty is also to volunteer and help one another. We cannot pick and choose what parts we want to participate in, as paying taxes is another civic duty that most of us have to do unwillingly.

All jabs aside, it is okay to be upset and fearful right now. For the first time ever, all of my professors encouraged us to speak out about how we felt after the election. An overwhelming amount of support for one another surfaced on this campus. There is a change in the air that needs to continue. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere, we just have to get out there and act on our positive convictions.

Coffee Talk / Bodi's Bakery

Bodi’s Bakery - Twin Lakes, WI Often, my weekends are spent in the beautiful Twin Lakes of Wisconsin.  My parents moved there recently and when I get the opportunity to visit for a weekend, I typically make a stop at Bodi’s Bakery at least twice.

Bodi’s is a small eclectic shop on 306 E Main St. in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.  They specialize in baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and small town charm.  To be honest, it is a little bit of an oddball as far as bakeries/coffee shops go.  With prices you really cannot compare, Bodi’s offers a phenomenal product at quite a competitive price. For instance, a small coffee costs $1.35, a freshly fried, hand-rolled donut a mere $0.95.

Of course, all of Bodi’s pastries are fresh and decadent.  The pumpkin donut is dense and cake-like, whereas the french is light and fluffy.  The chocolate donuts, sprinkle and coconut  are all phenomenal.  Bodi’s certainly receives an A+ as far as food goes.  I have had their breakfast foods as well as a variety of pastries and never been disappointed.

They serve soups, baked goods, sandwiches and the best tater tots I have ever had.  After speaking with the owner, Jane Bodi, I fell in love with the place even more.  To paraphrase, she told me that the place runs off of family support and passion.  She often works 14 or 15 hour days and is proud of the unique products and flavors achieved in her store.

However, there is one thing at Bodi’s that could use a little pep. The coffee really is subpar. To be fair, the main focus of Bodi’s is not coffee, but baked goods. I let Bodi’s slide on the coffee quality because everything else makes up for it.  Its small, run-down espresso machine has seen better days. I was able to order a palatable pumpkin chai tea latte, but the coffee leaves much to be wanted.  

Unfortunately, I would give Bodi’s a D on coffee quality and a C+ on overall drink quality. Coffee is  a very temperamental drink and believe it or not, it takes quite a bit of training and skill in order to prepare it well.  It is my guess that Bodi’s staff and owners have never received such training

The coffee itself is very hot, in fact, possibly too hot to get a proper extraction.  The coffee tastes rather bland and generic. But, for me, it is all worth it. Bodi’s may be lacking in coffee quality, but has phenomenal food, friendly staff and a homey small-town feel. I instantly felt like one of the regular customers after walking in the door.  They greeted me with a smile and I left with a bigger one.

0 to 100 / A vote against me

Shock. Anger. Resentment. Just a few of the many things I felt upon attempting to accept that Donald Trump is the President-elect of the U.S. I stared at the television screen in awe, denial like waves electrifying every part of my body.

A racist, sexist, misogynistic sex o ender is the face of this country come January.

The physical and mental unrest that comes with these results feels like a giant wave of nausea that never ends. When something upsets or no longer serves to make you happy, you are advised to let it go. You are told this is the healthiest thing you can do for your mind and soul. It is supposed to rid your heart of its heaviness. You are expected to leave the obstacle behind and continue on, never looking back, to rid yourself of the extra weight. If only it were that simple.

Nothing in my eyes points to any complexity in Trump’s agenda. He is an out and proud racist. He is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. He openly sexually abuses, harrasses and degrades women. He is xenophobic is every sense of the term. He said he would date his daughter if she were not his daughter.

Despite knowing all of the horrifying and truly saddening things Trump has said and done, he still has millions upon millions of supporters. At Trump rallies, many have reported the racist, sexist chants spouting from people’s mouths, white supremacist discourse dripping from their tongues in an attempt to rid the U.S. of anything that does not t their bland idea of what it should be.

I, like so many others, want to believe that I am an accepted member of society. That despite not being white or straight or male, I can live my life knowing that people accept me as I am and what I am. I want to believe that we as a collective group believe that black lives matter, that certain groups have a clear disadvantage in this world and that the opportunity for growth among us has never been equal. I want to believe that the U.S. is rooted in equality of all people from all different walks of life.

But it is not. And this election proves it.

If you voted for Trump, I want to say thank you. Thank you for exposing the political campaign that fights against keeping my social and civil rights in tact, that fights against protecting me, my family, my friends and sheltering my well being. You actively exposed all the bigots in this country that so many argued no longer existed.

More than anything, thank you for making yourselves known so I know who to steer away from in these difficult times. Thank you for showing me who you are. Now more than ever I am aware of those whose views disrespect my very existence. I can rid them from my life with ease.

I have seen several posts on social media from a so-called “neutral” perspective proclaiming that, despite what political stance you take, you will not be judged, and everyone should stay friends regardless.

Wrong! If you voted for or support Trump, you automatically side against me. You side against my rights. You side against my voice. His campaign is built on and feeds o of the nonsensical fear against minorities, Muslims, blacks, Latinos, and LGBTQ+ folk among many others, perpetuating the idea that only the straight, white man can be trusted and everyone else is “other” with a hidden agenda. Your agreement with Trump and his campaign is rooted in my oppression and denies me my humanity. You are no friend of mine.

What has been proven to me through this horrendous freak- show of an election is that my country hates everything I am, who I am and what I stand for. I do not know where to put that weight down. It is excruciatingly heavy.

Perhaps in this bleak and dreary time, I can take comfort in the words of Maya Angelou, a woman who knew in nite struggles as a black woman living the nightmares of this country: “You may shoot me with your words / You may cut me with your eyes / You may kill me with your hatefulness / But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

Within and Without / Change is coming

We are living, in this moment and in this country, at the precipice of substantial change. I know this to be true because of the impassioned way people are talking about the election.

On both sides.

I see it in the hope of the Trump supporters. I see it in the fear of Clinton supporters. I see it in the anger of Johnson, Stein and Sanders supporters.

I see it as undocumented immigrants cry out in fear, anger and uncertainty as they now live with the results of an election they were not allowed to vote in. I see it as the working classes pray that their economic salvation will be brought unto them by a political outsider.

And most of all, I feel this change coming. I feel the looming sense of change in the air, the electric sense of urgency that presents itself in the form of protests and hate crimes.

And ultimately, I feel fear. I feel the anxiety, the fear and the doubt as I see the people I love terrified because they are or they know someone who, if Trump follows through with his promises, might be deported. I feel it as women wonder whether they might lose the right to control their own bodies. I feel it as racial and ethnic minorities whose safety and well-being is at risk just from being in public. I feel it personally as I wonder if, as a gay man, I will have the right to get married in a few years.

Yet, this fear I feel is understated by a fragile sense of hope.

A hope which could stem from my privilege as a white man, yet hope nonetheless.

I have hope because I believe that we have the power to come together and guide the oncoming forces of change.

To make certain that this change is good, made in the name of love, not hate. Because no matter how legitimate, hate and anger breed nothing but malice, bring manipulative demagogues to power and tear people apart.

We have seen a similar form of hate in times of change. We saw it during the Civil War as hate fought to keep slavery. We saw it during World War II in the form of Japanese internment camps. We saw it in the protests to women’s suffrage, and we saw it, most notably, during the Civil Rights era as police brutally attacked black protestors.

In response to that disgusting hate and the hate that currently threatens us, now is the time to come together. We must set aside our most fervent ideologies, empower ourselves with our strongest emotions and bear witness to our shared humanity — uniting around it for good. For love.

Change is coming.

Man-slaughter / Foreigner in my own home

These past couple weeks, people from both sides of the political spectrum have called for unity and for the need to “love” everyone despite what “side” they are on.

How can I be expected to love a person who voted to deny my very existence? Who voted to reject my presence in this country? Donald Trump supporters say that they voted for this candidate based on his “policies.” What policies? The policy of putting my family and me on a national registry? The policy of stop and frisk? The policy of shunning every minority group in this country?

I hear Trump supporters saying that they voted based on “policy” and that they do not intend for me to be hurt. It is the action, not the intent, that matters. They may not be a misogynist or a racist, but they supported one.

The people who voted for Trump, voted third party or did not vote at all granted a man, who repeatedly dehumanized and attacked minorities, power. And it was easy for them. They do not have to fear stepping out of their homes only to be spit at or shot to death by people fueled and legitimized by the President-elect’s bigoted rhetoric and hate. They do not have to fear their hijabs being ripped from their heads or fear being harassed on a train while fifty others remain silent.

I, like many others, feel betrayed. I feel betrayed by my country; I feel betrayed by the 53 percent of white women who voted for Trump and, in the process, sacrificed women’s progress for the sake of white supremacy; I feel betrayed by my neighbors who preach “love” and “unity” only when it is of benefit to their white privilege.

Despite the grave consequences I and many others will face as a result of this election, I also feel this election is a blessing in disguise. Since the President-elect began his campaign, every part of my identity felt questioned and under attack. I now realize that this country will never accept me as a complete, true American despite being born here. I was delusional to think it ever would — my parents have accents, my religion is too dangerous, my skin is too brown.

And I cannot scrub the color off, no matter how hard I try. I will always be a foreigner in my own home.

Strong Reactions: Rap gone wrong

Roxanne Timan ,  Multimedia Editor

Roxanne Timan, Multimedia Editor

Roxanne Timan, Multimedia Editor
Follow her at @Roxlobster

Drama between musical artists is nothing new: Kanye West versus Taylor Swift, Tupac versus Biggie Smalls and Eminem versus almost anybody. They are an excuse to fight with your friends about silly pop culture, and to choose a side on something less political than the election.

The most recent celebrity beef between rappers Drake and Kid Cudi probably will not see the same memorable fate, but with good reason — Drake took it too far this time.

Recently Kid Cudi checked himself into rehab for mental health issues, sparking an out- pour of support online by fans and other musicians. In a statement made on his social media, he said, “It’s been difficult for me to find the words to what I’m about to share with you be- cause I feel ashamed.”

Mental health comes with a stigma that not everyone is willing to be open about, especially in the rap scene, where just about anything is fair game.

However, Drake’s latest move in their ongoing fight was over the top.

His latest diss track “Two Birds, One Stone” goes after Cudi directly a few times, but the line that stands out most is: “You stay xanned and perked up / So when reality set in you don’t gotta face it.”

I find it hard to decide if this is his own pure ignorance on the subject or he is just awful.

With mental illness so common in our society, why would anyone think it is a good idea to use it to “roast” someone?

Though we have made large strides to try to understand and start a discussion on topics like depression and anxiety, there are moments of weakness that we must criticize. As Cudi stated, it is extremely hard to ask for mental help as it is seen as giving in or being cowardly. It is much easier to keep our thoughts to ourselves about our mental states than to share them with people we care about.

This poorly written lyric doesn’t just offend Kid Cudi, but anyone who has to live with mental illness feels the smack in the face Drake just served. Depression is the biggest disability worldwide. It is not just a temporary sadness that popping pills will fix. It is something that hits when one least expects it, making day-to-day tasks almost unbearable. It is not a punchline or an imaginary issue. It is life, and unfortunately a harsh reality, even with the prescriptions and therapy.

I applaud Kid Cudi’s courage to make his condition known, which without a doubt inspired many of his fans to think about mental health and its importance to how to treat one another. As far as celebrity feuds go, it is important to have a level playing field, but it does not work when someone takes cheap shots.

I am sorry Drake, but those listening to your music suffer from these problems too, not just your enemies. You’re going to have to take an L on this one.

0 to 100 / Anxiety alert

I have never experienced anxiety the way I have this past year. Some days I feel anxious about everything going on around me, so much so that it consumes my every thought. Some things are constantly in the back of my mind and no matter how hard I try, they never truly go away.

Then there are days I couldn’t care less about anything. I do not care about getting good marks in my classes; I do not care about my adult responsibilities that lay on my back like boulders and I lack the energy to “live life to the fullest” as so many corny people quote on Facebook. I just do not care.

This feeling of disconnection is relatively new and started just after I came forward to my religious family about being agnostic. Back then, I thought the weight on my chest would leave me forever, but it did not. It only transformed into a different kind of pain that now rests in my stomach.

The indifference fluctuates. There are days I feel a little better than others, where I get a little bit of free time to spend with friends or my niece and nephew. For a while I forget about my worries and anxieties, and life as a whole feels lighter. Things look up, and I do not feel the weight of my responsibilities, nor the dread of living day-to-day feeling like everything I do is aimless or has no greater purpose.

What makes me feel happiest is being around those I love, who encourage me, are consistently there for me and try their best to bring out the positive qualities in me I sometimes forget I have. Relationships like these make it all worthwhile. And I guess that’s just it: if you feel lost or anxious or upset, keep close to whatever it is that gives you good feelings, whatever makes you happy to be alive.

More open discussions about matters of mental disorders, anxiety and depression need to be brought forward. Too many people fear seeking help because of social stigma and lack of support among other reasons. I think if we felt we could be more honest with ourselves and those around us, and were also encouraged to be more in tune with our mental health, more of us would feel inclined to seek the help we need.

Too many people suffering- from anxiety, depression and other mental disorders are told to simply “stay positive” or to “think about how good they have it,” but these are not, nor will they ever be, realistic solutions.

Mental illnesses do not cause a person to suddenly have weird “off” days once in a blue moon. They are feelings of real hopelessness, loneliness and indifference, and they need to be taken as seriously as physical ailments.

If someone comes to you with trust in their hands like an open wound, open yourself up to them and their struggles. Be there for them. You do not have to pretend you understand what they are going through, but you can be the person that lets them rest their head on your shoulder to feel okay for a little while. Sometimes, that is enough.

Life feels like too much to bear at times, and being surrounded by those who genuinely want the best for us and encourage us to get help can feel like a saving grace. There is something fulfilling and comforting in knowing you can be someone’s safe space. You can be the person they feel comfortable, open and truly at peace around.

Being present in someone’s life when they need you most is the best gift you can give them. You are not expected to give advice or say everything will be okay. You are not expected to be a hero in a cape. You just have to be there.

Within and Without / Do not give up on US

Throughout this rough — and I mean rough — election cycle, some of the worst things hiding within America’s gilded borders have become known in a very loud and public manner. Things like racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, white supremacy and corruption, all formerly hiding under the veneer of patriotism and business-as-usual government happenings.

It is enough to turn even the most dedicated idealist cynical. It is enough to convince us that the system is broken beyond repair. It is enough to make us want to not only give up on ourselves, but on each other as well.

But we must not let it.

We cannot let fear and exhaustion curb our desire to make a better world for our- selves and our children. And as tempting as it is to want to disconnect and disengage from it all, we cannot allow that to happen. Just as we cannot allow ourselves to turn away from one another, to isolate ourselves from each other because of fear or difference.

In this time, more than ever, we need to fix what is broken. Divisions of race and class that appear to have been created and highlighted during this election have always been there.

Now these racist sentiments have just been given a voice and a face through multiple police shootings of young black men; through Donald Trump and the Right, who have simultaneously exposed and given a voice to previously out-of-sight racist sects and the pervasive corruption flowing through the veins of our political system.

This is, however, no justification to become complacent. Racism and corruption have always been present, it has just recently been exposed and given a platform, for better or worse. If anything, it gives us more reason to come together and fix the racism and corruption that runs rampant in our system.

As millennials, we have a tendency to lean towards passion- ate idealism or dejected cynicism, and more and more we are choosing cynicism because we are understandably over- whelmed by how much there is that needs fixing.

But we have the technology to stay informed. We have seen all that is wrong with the system, and we cannot allow our- selves to stand by and let it stay broken. We cannot hide from our problems like the generations before us. We do not have the privilege of ignorance, nor should we want it.

Millennials, our generation has the power to come together and change things, and the time for that change is now.

Coffee Talk / Costa Rica Honey

I visited River City Roasters in Wheaton, IL. Located on 114 Main St., this rustic little coffee shop and roastery is located just beside the train tracks and in the heart of downtown Wheaton.   Rather than give another shop review this week, as I did last, I will be reviewing a coffee that River City Roasters roasts, brews and serves on a regular basis. The gentleman at the cash register led me to the light roast.  Light roast coffees typically have a more diverse flavor profile, they hold higher qualities of flavor and they contain more caffeine.  

His suggestion to me was a coffee called Costa Rica Honey.  Of course, Costa Rica refers to the growing origins of the coffee, and honey refers not to the flavor, but to the preparation of the beans.  Long story short, they are partially washed of the pulpy cherry of the coffee bean, giving the coffee beans a sticky, honey-like coating.  

The aroma of this coffee is light, not very smokey and actually quite fruity.  The mild aroma of the coffee is contrasted by the first sip and is anything but mild.  River City Roasters Costa Rica Honey coffee bursts with flavor.  As strange as it may sound, a small sip of the coffee literally made me salivate.  

The first thing I notice when tasting this coffee is the intense fruity flavor. Although this is typical of light roast coffee, the fruitiness really comes through.  It is reminiscent of a somewhat sweet, somewhat sour cherry.  I taste the sweetness on the tip of my tongue, followed immediately and intensely by the bright sour flavors of the coffee cherries. Last, as I swallow the coffee, I get bitter flavor notes on the back of the tongue.  

Allow me to clarify: when speaking about coffee, the words, bitter, sour and salty hold positive connotations. When considering the actual flavors that I taste in the coffee, I get a strong sense of cherry, followed by a tart blueberry and lastly I taste a bit of a sweet, creamy note which has me a little confused. I feel like I’m tasting white chocolate, but it seems muted and not overbearingly sweet. If anything, it is more background noise.  

The body of the coffee refers to the feeling it gives your mouth and texture of the coffee.  This is not a thick or syrupy drink at all. In fact, it is quite light.  I could see this pairing nicely with a light pastry, such as a cranberry scone.  The coffee may not be thick, but the flavor sure is.  Even a minute or two after taking a sip, I can still taste the residual tang.  Interestingly enough, it is more smokey than the initial sip of coffee is.  This makes for a very interesting cup because, in my mind, it caters to the likes of both light and dark roast lovers.  You get the intensely bright initial punch that most light roast lovers seek, but the smoky aftertaste that dark roast lovers chase.

All in all, this Costa Rica Honey prep coffee from River City Roasters is phenomenal. I would give it an overall rating of A.  I cannot give it an A+ simply because I have been fortunate enough in my coffee ventures to taste extremely high end cups of coffee which cost upwards of $60 dollars per ounce of dry beans.  River City Roasters does an amazing thing in coming so close to one of the best cups of light roast I have had the pleasure of drinking, at a cost that doesn’t even come close to the extremely high end, designer coffees.  All in all, great cup of coffee from a great little rustic store. Go check them out and support your local coffee scene.

Man-slaughter / Bitter pill to swallow

A recent clinical study finds that a hormonal contraceptive injection for males is just as effective as the birth control pill for women. However, the study was put on hiatus because the birth control shots had side effects such as depression and mood swings.

Never mind that women have been suffering the exact same symptoms as a result of the pill since its legalization.

This points to a larger issue: it is only women who are held responsible when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancies. Straight men have the luxury of choosing between convenience and an unwanted pregnancy, while women often only have the option of choosing between physical and emotional health and an unwanted pregnancy.

Some men say that condoms are either too expensive for sexually active people and are uncomfortable, or that they inhibit men from experiencing full pleasure. Well, let me tell you what’s also uncomfortable, expensive and unpleasurable: having a hysterical drooling baby whose only talent is filling its diaper.

But that’s just it: straight men who do not wear condoms and do not currently desire children will leave it up to their female partners to take birth control with adverse side effects. After all, it is not their bodies that will be affected.

The consequences for men are not as adverse as they are for women when it comes to insufficient birth control methods. It is women who are the ones carrying pregnancies to term. Women are the ones criticized and shamed for becoming pregnant out of wedlock or while in poverty, and a large part of this criticism is due to misguided gender roles and societal perceptions of how men and women should behave.

The fact that this study was abandoned because of its side effects points to another issue: why did we as a society only begin to discuss the physical and mental effects of the pill when men entered the discourse on birth control? Besides the occasional “you may be entitled to financial compensation if you or a loved one developed [insert medical condition here] after taking [insert birth control brand here],” there has not been much discussion in the media and in the public about the side effects women suffer in exchange for reproductive freedom. This is due in large part to the fact that women have patiently dealt with the side effects of different drugs, while being subsequently ignored by doctors about their depression or anxiety not being a serious medical issue. Rather, women are told they are just being “hysterical” or “emotional.”

Yes, the stakes are higher for women when it comes to taking birth control, but that does not mean men should not be held responsible as well. We must start pushing men to actively participate in the prevention of unwanted pregnancies so that the burden of prevention is not left up solely to women (even if they choose to take birth control pills).

As someone who has taken the birth control pill for over three years, I appreciate the reproductive freedom the pill has offered me. However, I can also see how long-term use of the pill has affected me mentally.

Just as it happened 50 years ago, it’s time for another radical change in the world of reproductive health care. This time for men.

Strong Reactions: Spooky can be sexy

Roxanne Timan ,  Multimedia Editor

Roxanne Timan, Multimedia Editor

Roxanne Timan, Multimedia Editor
Follow her at @Roxlobster

My favorite thing about this time of year has to be the feel- ing of slipping into a skirt a little too short, sporting knee high fishnets, a white button-up shirt, unbuttoned a little too low. I wear my boots to complete the sexually appalling genderbend, along with teased hair and bright red lips. Besides special events and the occasional “makeover” I let my friends give me, this is about the only time you will see me in a skirt or makeup. I twirl down water-pistoled slick aisles in the theater back at home every year. For one weekend, toast gets thrown, expletives are necessary and virgins are celebrated.

I’m talking about “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, and the wondrous feeling of sexual freedom it brings without judgment. The cult classic has led a phenomenon for the past 40 years, cramming the “freaks” of communities worldwide together for one viewing of the movie, full of prop-throwing and noise-making. This is usually done around October, with good reason. Even the remake premiered this month on FOX. This event and Halloween share something special — the idea that we are allowed to become something we are not. And as a person who follows the societal dress code the other days of the year, I think I deserve a few nights to get a little skimpy.

The stigma behind “sexy” Halloween costumes has haunted women for ages. Some welcome the idea of tight dresses designed like superhero uniforms, as others look on in disgust with their elaborate witch costume in full green face paint. Possibly the most quoted movie of our generation, “Mean Girls”, even makes note of the trend: “In Girl World, Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.”

I don’t believe the last part is true. Girls are already plotting against one another in a “creative costumes” vs. “sexual costumes” brigade, like every year. Why is this necessary? The point of this holiday is to have fun and express ourselves freely, not critique each other because one person wants to show some skin, while others may want to stay covered.

Quite understandably, there is a spectrum here. Not everyone wants to be a sexy Robin or slink around in a skin-tight Catwoman suit while they are shoveling sugar into their mouths. But the point I am trying to make is, those who do are not bad people and vice versa. I will appreciate your Mary Poppins if you can appreciate my Gold Bikini Leia.

I challenge those who have chosen a more conservative outfit for Halloween to try getting yourself out of your comfort zone this year. Even if that means popping in the original “Rocky Horror” or catching the remake, and dancing in your underwear to the “Time Warp” on your own time. It is important to embrace our bodies and others choices to show (or not show) them this spooky season.

0 to 100 / “True” american

Over the past several months, I have come across several differing opinions about the two presidential candidates. Some argue that Hillary will run this country into the ground and is a shady human being for those emails. Some argue that Trump has the right vision and will, indeed, “make America great again.” Lately, when asked who I’ll be voting for, I’ve replied with, “The lesser of two evils.”

Only recently have I realized that this statement does not really fit the situation, though, nor is it an adequate response. One candidate is heinously and laughably less qualified than the other, so my saying the “lesser of the two” does not even fit.

Trump’s ideologies are taking us back to medieval times in which women’s opinions have no voices, their sexualities and outward appearances are at the forefront of their worth, and decisions about their bodies are solely dependent on men’s judgments.

It is taking us deeper and deeper into a nation of racist thinking where people believe America equals straightness and whiteness, and has no room for anything or anyone else. Like Toni Morrison once said, “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.”

But it is America’s entire population, non-white, women and all, that has helped make it what it is today. And though we have a hell of a long way to go, it would be nice to believe that we have already come so far in achieving some sort of greater goal. With so many having Trump’s back, however, it is difficult to believe that coming a long way is even a realistic way to put it.

It is downright terrifying to imagine what this country will turn into if Trump succeeds as its leader. For those of us who are not straight, white and male, the odds do not look good. Trump’s campaign is made to cater to this specific demographic while the rest of us are at the bottom of the food chain because, for whatever reason, we are not good enough to have our voices heard. Nor are we good enough to be respected, as women, people of color and otherwise.

I won’t claim that Hillary is the perfect candidate or anything close to it. I wish more than anything we had better options for both parties. Why is it that every election, like I mentioned previously, I find myself saying that I will side with the lesser of the two evils? It should not have to be that way, and yet it is. And I doubt that will change anytime soon.

It is difficult for me to understand how we have gotten to this point. When it was announced that Trump may be running for president, many assumed it was as a joke. Then reality hit, and more and more people came forward with their support for the candidate. What seemingly began as a joke turned into a frightening reality as Trump gained more and more support throughout the country from people who do not seem to love themselves a whole lot.

For the sake of those who do not match Trump’s criteria of what a “true” American is, it is best to leave him at the bottom of the stairs where he belongs. Let him go back to running a reality television show, building more Trump Towers or whatever insignificant things he was doing before he decided it was a good idea to run this country into the ground.

I sincerely hope that whoever is voting for Trump realizes the weight of what they are doing and what it will mean for America if he does win. I hope that for the sake of this country and all those in it that people will open their eyes to what Trump truly stands for, and then vote for Hillary.

Within and Without / It’s not just locker room talk

A few weeks ago, a tape in which Donald Trump bragged about groping and sexually assaulting women was released to the public. The tape, which was recorded in 2005, caught Trump off guard during a conversation prior to filming a segment for Access Hollywood.

Not only are the things that Trump said lewd and disgusting, they a0re also dangerous. Trump’s words promote and perpetuate rape culture, in which it’s perfectly okay to sexually assault someone if you are powerful. With the high number of reported rapes and sexual assault incidents on college campuses across the country, Trump’s words not only have me outraged, but also worried.

And it’s not just the tape itself that most concerns me, it’s the way that he and his campaign spun Trump’s toxic remarks as “locker room talk.” This half apology justifies Trump’s words and behavior as normal, and that talking about sexually assaulting women is ordinary, but it is not, nor should it be. Ever. And most of us know that.

However, that does not mean that some will not accept Trump’s desperate excuse as truth. His die-hard supporters, for instance, looking for any reason to quell the doubt drudged up within them after hearing such reprehensible things spew forth from their candidate. Kids, teens and young adults who are in the process of growing and developing their own sense of self and morality now have a very visible role model who tells them that threatening to sexually assault women is okay under the guise of “locker room talk.”

And justifying threatening to sexually assault someone logically ends with justifying really sexually assaulting someone. If that talk is normalized, the act becomes normalized, thus perpetuating rape culture because it’s now normal to kiss women without their permission.

Following Trump’s reasoning to its natural conclusion, it would be normal to grope and prod at women like animals.

In fact, several women accused Trump of doing just that shortly after the tape surfaced. Trump has vehemently denied these claims as false and has worked tirelessly to attack and destroy these women’s credibility, another form of victim blaming.

Trump’s fame, his position, his wealth, his brand and his supporters all work to give him credibility, which gives him power to influence people. I mean, this man has a pretty solid chance at becoming the next president of the United States.

If he does become president, and if we as a nation buy into his excuses, we are setting an example for the rest of the world, for our children, for our students and for ourselves that rape and sexual assault is ok.

It’s not.

Man-slaughter / Dear women, dump Trump

“I grab ‘em by the pussy.”

“I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?”

These are not the words of a stupid, drunk 19-year- old. These are the words of a 70-year-old U.S. presidential candidate in the year 2016.

I don’t know who’s worse: Trump or his equally misogynistic supporters. After all, it is Trump’s supporters who give him power. Go on Twitter and you’ll see hashtags calling to #repealthe19th amendment because of a study which shows that if only women voted, Trump would not be elected as president. Seeing as most of his supporters are white, uneducated, older men, I am not surprised to see this hatred of women...I naively assumed there were few of them. It’s 2016, not 1950.

I am still appalled when I hear people say that Trump would be a great candidate for women. Which women? This despicable human being bragged about sexually assaulting women. He dismissed the physical and emotional agony women who have late-term abortions go through.

He called women “fat,” “disgusting animal,” “slob,” “pig,” “nasty,” “ugly” and every derogatory word for women that he has in his vocabulary. He berates and rates women solely based on physical attractiveness. He suggested “punishing” women for having abortions. He implied that all women are gold diggers.

I could go on and on about every sexist, misogynistic, sexually objectifying, disgusting comment about women that came out of Trump’s mouth, but it still wouldn’t matter. People will vote for him anyways, because as we’ve found out from this election cycle, sexism still exists. Words have consequences. They can shape the public perception of an entire population and affect how a group of people are treated.

How can we elect a leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world who has a reputation for making disparaging comments about women and treating them like second-class citizens worthy only for male pleasure and entertainment? How can we expect female leaders from other countries to work with the U.S. on global issues when we have a blatant and proud misogynist as our president?

Don’t forget the women who spent their lives fighting for you before you were even born, before they would ever see the fruit of their labors.

Don’t forget Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and many more women who were beaten, imprisoned and subsequently tortured in prison and abandoned while advocating for your right to obtain contraceptives, to divorce, to work, to own money, to an education, to be free from sexual harassment and for your right to vote. They are all, at this very moment, turning in their graves because of a man whose rhetoric is taking the national discourse on women’s issues several decades back.

Coffee Talk / Gloria Jeans

Coffee, 98.75 percent water and only 1.25 percent coffee bean particles that dissolve in water while brewing. So why does it taste so different when you brew it at home versus getting it at a coffee shop? What about the difference between good shops and bad? Simply put, science. Brewing quality coffee is a delicate process. Good coffee is dependent on three things: the bean, the roast, and the brew. This week, I gave Elmhurst’s newest coffee shop a shot. Gloria Jeans is now located where Elijah’s used to be, on 1st street. The interior of the shop was honestly a disappointment, almost identical to Elijah’s. The store got a minor renovation which is too bad. I always enjoy seeing what new ownership can bring to both the aesthetics and coffee quality.

The cup of coffee I had was just alright. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had but it wasn’t the worst, and it was expensive. When trying out new coffee shops, I almost always order a medium latte. I do this because it is what I order most often and allows me to get a good idea of the quality of the product compared to other shops.

When we start masking coffee with syrups, caramels, and mochas, we are hiding the beautiful natural flavor of the coffee. The latte itself seemed to be made correctly, two shots of espresso, mostly milk, and a creamy foam head. However, it seemed bland. The latte itself tasted solely of milk when I was really looking for the coffee flavor to shine.

The saving grace of the latte was how caffeinated it seemed to be. Although this leads me to believe that Gloria Jean’s might be using cheap beans. Typically Robusta coffees are lower in quality, taste, and price, but much higher in caffeine content. This is the hallmark move of a coffee shop that cares mostly about their profit margin.

All in all, I give Gloria Jean’s a solid C. The shop itself is a reminder of the loss of Elijah’s, the coffee left much to be desired, and I was the only customer in the shop. The sole employee did not know what to recommend me because he hadn’t tried most of the menu, but I was able to get my caffeine fix. The recipe for a good cup of coffee: fresh Arabica beans, a good roast, and a proper brew.