E Pluribus (Feminis) Unum

Yesterday could have been a historic event. It wasn’t – in spite of what the new administration might have you believe – not when we put yet another white, Christian male in the most powerful office in the country.

But today was.

Today, hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of women around not only the country but also the globe stood up, rallied, and marched for women’s rights, civil rights, and human rights in the face of what might have been the most devastating blow to our country in a very long time. Sure, we were all upset when Hillary lost in November, but the panic didn’t necessarily set in until that dreadful man was confirmed as our 45th president. It was not until we really realized what the extent of the damage he might – and could very well – cause so many people, not only in America but all over the world, that we decided to stand together against him on his very first full day in office.

The impact was so powerful that although it started as the Women’s March on Washington, it spread in a ripple across America, into Europe and Asia, even to Antarctica! Despite it being called a ‘women’s march’ or a ‘sister march’, it wasn’t just about us ladies – it was about minorities, about access to health care, about immigration and so much more. It was about standing together in this fight – not just today but for the next for years (at least).

While I kept my Snapchat updated throughout the rally at Lansing, Michigan (our capitol), a lot of people were posting on Facebook and all over social media about why they were marching. It wasn’t until I was at home again after the fact that I really had a chance to think about all of the reasons why driving an hour, standing in muddy grass with my socks soaked and my toes cold, and being jostled by too-many-people as they tried to navigate the close quarters of the rally seemed worth it to me. I suppose, like a true classicist, my reason for marching was three-fold.

I’m a Double Minority

Not only am I a woman, but, surprise surprise, I am also a black woman, which, in the past, has not led to the best of situations. Already are women and women of color harassed, marginalized, underpaid, underrepresented, silenced, discriminated against – the list goes on and on. But knowing that, somehow, a man who has been taped saying things which imply sexual assault (i.e. ‘grab ’em by the pussy’) and a man who is and has been against allowing women to have the power to make their own choices about their own bodies were elected into the highest office of the land makes me physically ill. Knowing that those same men, who also support the safety of police OVER the safety of citizens of color (re: the concern should be more equal imo), don’t see the need for stricter gun control, and have made it known that they support ‘stop and frisk’ procedures that encourage racial profiling, are calling (most of) the shots. It makes me nervous. It makes me angry. It makes me want to get out and do something every single day.

My Friends and Family

Even if my friends and family didn’t agree with me politically, I would care about their rights. I would care if their rights were seriously threatened by a corrupt and evil man sitting in the highest office of the country. I would care if they felt afraid, or hurt, or angry, or depressed. I stood up for them, and will continue to stand (though not literally) for them for the next four years, or until we know for sure that our rights as women, as citizens, as human beings will not be infringed upon.

It is appalling to me that anyone could honestly look at our 45th president (who shall remain unnamed), look at the things he has done, the lies he has told, the cabinet he has chosen, and the utter lack of knowledge of any aspect of the American government and not see how wrong of a choice he was. How, even if they don’t see that, anyone could not see that so many people’s lives – people who they might even care about – are going to be affected in a serious way. You can already see who might be the first targets: people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ, and Planned Parenthood. I sincerely hope that anyone who continues to actively support this man will look around one day and ask themselves if they’d really be okay with seeing any one of their friends’ lives fall apart because of him.

My Education

Although my tenure as a PhD student lasts far beyond the confines of this presidency (I hope), what concern me in the here and now are the choices that are being made about Education in general. Not only is Betsy DeVos nearly as unqualified for her position as our newly elected president is, but there has been talk that many programs and funding for these programs, including Arts and Humanities ones, are under threat as well. One particularly striking bit of news was that the Heritage Foundation is considering defunding the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, because the “government should not use its coercive power of taxation to compel taxpayers to support cultural organizations and activities.”

Whether or not this action will be carried out through the new presidential administration, and whether or not this will directly affect my education in particular remains to be seen, but the defunding of NEH especially could pack a punch since its grants typically go to cultural institutions like museums, archives, and libraries, as well as colleges and universities. Moreover, my interests academically are in academia and in museums, so if funding for those areas falls through under our new president, who knows what the aftermath could look like.

It is only day one and we have so much work to do. One can only hope that our voices will be loud enough for someone in that dreadful administration to hear us and help us maintain the equality and love that thrived in the last eight years. Today was amazing and eye-opening, but the fight isn’t over. Never forget: love trumps hate.

+ More photos from today:

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Summer Job, Summer Class: A Lesson in Time Management

When I signed up for my summer class – an intensive Latin course that intended to get through the entire language in only eight weeks – I had no intention of getting a summer job. I thought I’d be sitting pretty with the money I had gotten from my summer scholarship, with enough to pay for the class and to pay for my rent and utilities until my stipend started in September.

But I was so, so wrong.

The class turned out to be a little more expensive than I’d thought, leaving me with barely enough money to get through the first month. So I quickly applied for jobs all over town – mostly in retail, but in food establishments too – hoping against hope that I’d find something that wasn’t a total drag and paid well enough.

Luckily, I had an interview and was offered another by a different store, but took the job I was offered from the first one. I experienced my first full-blown work schedule this past weekend – working one twelve hour day, two ten hour days, and two eight hour days in a row – and it was miserable. It was hot and humid, sometimes rainy, and my feet and knees were killing me after all of those hours on my feet.

But at the same time that it was miserable, it was totally worth it because it allowed me to learn so much about the store and its merchandise in a short amount of time, as well as get to interact with so many different people. Just yesterday I modeled clothing for two women who were shopping and it was so fun.

At the end of the weekend, however, I remembered that I still had homework to do – and a lot of it. Plus, on top of all of that, the Democratic National Convention is on this week, and I’m working three more days. Going from class to work to homework and being politically informed is beyond tiring – doesn’t it just sound like it?

I haven’t quite perfected the art of time management in this situation, but I am working on it actively. Today, I had a day off so I did all of my homework for next class and the class after that, just so that I wouldn’t have to worry about doing it after getting home from work tomorrow at 9:30pm (I’m not a night owl anyway, so doing homework that late is painful for me). As for balancing class and work, it’s a little tricky to do when you start work right as your class is ending – yesterday, I asked to leave half an hour early so that I could eat lunch before work, and I felt terrible. Tomorrow, though, I think I will try to eat my lunch during our ten minute break in the middle of class and ask to leave ten minutes early instead. It only takes five minutes to walk from class to work (thankfully) so it should work out fine.

I am working until the end of August, but my class ends on August 19th, so hopefully things will be easier by then. As long as I stay on top of my homework – or at least stay ahead of it so that I don’t neglect to do it or forget until the last minute – and ingest as much coffee as humanly possible (just kidding… maybe) then I think everything will be fine. This is my first summer working AND taking a class, but once I get the hang of it, it’ll be alright. Plus, I’m getting paid, so it’s definitely worth it.

Just four and a half more weeks to go. I can totally do this.

A Solemn Vow

It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I tell you that I lost a good friend today. Killed doing exactly what she loved – helping others and raising awareness about affordable housing through Bike and Build – Anne was only 22 years old, fresh out of college, full of excitement, and love, and purpose.

But now she’s gone.

I’ve felt a lot of things in the past few hours. I’ve felt shock, and disbelief, and pain, and sympathy, and regret. I was shocked and in disbelief when, ten minutes before class started, I was innocently scrolling through my Facebook feed and found out the news. I was in pain – the worst pain you could ever imagine – and still am, when I realized that she had been taken from my life and everyone else’s so suddenly. I felt sympathy for everyone else she knew, all of the other lives she touched, for her boyfriend, for her family. I regret not keeping in touch better after she transferred schools in our sophomore year. I regret not telling her how much her friendship meant to me, not realizing how much it meant until now.

I’ve never felt this empty, or numb, or hurt in my entire life. I don’t think my body or my mind knows how to process it. I know that she’s dead. I know that she’s gone and she’s not coming back. I know how it happened, and what she was doing.

But I still can’t accept it. I won’t.

Thinking about her today, I’ve realized a lot about what I loved about Anne and what she taught me in the time that I knew her. She was so passionate about helping others, had such a big heart, and was so courageous. She left shortly after graduation on her adventure with Bike and Build – totally unafraid, totally motivated by her purpose. Fearless.

If anything, she’s taught me that life’s too short – her death just reinforced that. Life’s too short to procrastinate, to not be passionate about anything, to be afraid. Life’s too short to not acknowledge the friends you haven’t spoken to in a while, to meet up with them every now and then, to tell them you love them, if you still do. It can be taken away so fast, and you might not get the chance again.

So I vow, in honor of Anne, to stop being afraid. I vow to get out of my own way, to challenge myself, and to give my whole heart to my passions and my friends and family.

Because life’s too short.

Rest easy, sweet girl.

What Anonymous Smartphone Apps Say About A Society

While I mostly partake in apps like WhatsGoodly and Yik Yak for the sake of snooping and just overall being nosy, after going from a school where the apps were blocked to a place where students are able to use it freely, I’ve noticed some pretty appalling things about what the things that are posted on these smartphone apps say about the population (mostly the young population) as a whole.

Since these apps are anonymous, it is hard to tell what age group these posts represent, but considering the fact that a university campus dominates most of the town, it can be safe to assume that the people who utilize these apps most are within the 18-22 year old range. The posts can range anywhere from complaints about school to social activism and politics. But what stands out the most is how many people use the apps for negative reasons – to be condescending, to put down others, to criticize social and political groups, the list goes on and on.

Just today, I found out that the occasional posts asking, “Are all sorority girls shallow?” or “Are all sorority girls emotionless?” or “Should all top tier sorority girls be ghosted?” was just a meme – not a legitimate concern by any one person. I spent hours last night trying to convince a guy that sorority girls weren’t actually emotionless only to find out today that it was all just a part of a joke, and a common joke at that.

What kind of person – or groups of people – joke like that?

Regardless of what the character of the majority of the Greek men and women on this campus actually is, in what world is it just OK to make fun of them or perpetuate something so cruel?

It is truly amazing how much you can learn about people in general on an app where anonymity is widespread. Of course, it’s not fair to generalize about the whole campus based on a few people, but the vast majority of people seem to be obsessed with sex, making politically incorrect comments (like ‘BLM is going to start a race war’), talking badly about an individual or group, or the latest trend, Pokemon Go.

Sure, some of the posters could be sarcastic or joking, and sure, freedom of speech exists, but it really shouldn’t extend to apps like these, or speech that is hateful or offensive. Even though we can’t really know who these people are for sure, what we do know is that this is what they think about on a daily basis. Even people you do know could be thinking these things deep down, and only express those things on anonymous apps like these, and you could never know.

I don’t know why this app was created or why it’s still around, but I really wish that it wasn’t. Maybe if it wasn’t around anymore, people would get off their high horses and start treating others much better than they are.

Amazon Prime: A Love/Hate Relationship

About a month or so ago, I found out – to my great surprise – that Amazon offered a Prime account for students, and that account was extended not only to undergraduates, but also to graduate students. It was basically free to sign up, and you get free shipping for six months as long as you’re currently enrolled in school, and then after that you get half off of regular Prime. I was mostly interested because I needed to get textbooks for my summer class ASAP and free two-day shipping was calling my name.

However, what I didn’t realize were two things – one good, one bad.

The bad thing first. Super excited about this whole Prime Student thing, I perused Amazon for the exact books I wanted (good prices, good quality, right edition) but when I went to purchase them, the prices were all wrong. It still was charging me for shipping, and I didn’t understand why. So, I investigated, and it turns out that there’s a catch: you get the free two-day shipping, alright, but only on items that have the distinctive blue mark of Prime approval. Everything else you still pay shipping prices on.

Now, that wouldn’t really be that big of a deal if I weren’t a flat broke graduate student living on her own and wanting to buy new books to read and save a couple of bucks in the process. I’ve always been the kind of girl to choose the bargain, the lowest priced item out there, but Prime doesn’t always give you those things as an option. So you can either opt for the lower priced used book and pay full price on shipping, or you can choose the slightly more expensive book and get free two-day shipping. I’m sure in the long run you’re paying about the same amount of money, but it’s easy to forget to look for the Prime stamp of approval.

The good thing, now. Aside from getting free two-day shipping on textbooks, you get free two-day shipping on every kind of book. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dictionary, a textbook, or something you read for pleasure, if you can find the Prime stamp of approval, then you can get it in two days without paying shipping. It’s a blessing and a curse, because now I want to buy all of the books but I don’t have all of the money. Sure, I could opt to read the books as eBooks and cut out shipping and fussing with Prime stamps altogether, but eBooks cost money, too – often more than a paper copy.

While Amazon Prime Student can be a little frustrating at times, I have loved it so far and will definitely try to get more out of it as I start my new job and start making money again so I can have nice things like new books. I would totally recommend students to get it if they can – it saves a whole lot of money on shipping and if you need something in a pinch… you’ll have it on time.

Apartment Tour

Ok so I know I’ve only been officially ‘moved in’ for a little over a week now, I technically moved in almost a month ago and have been really itching to share some photos of my very first and very own apartment! I’m finally starting to fill in the empty spaces, now all that’s really left is to start hanging things on the wall and to get my TV.

Other than that, I’m really loving it here.

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(Featuring the chef’s knife I cut my finger on while washing the dishes prior to the photos)

Why You Should Be Reading the Newspaper

As someone who has spent three-odd years as the web editor of her undergraduate school newspaper, this post should come as no surprise. What might come as a surprise is this confession: I never used to actually read any of the newspaper articles that were printed.

I had come up with a way of skimming and typing, copying and pasting, mindlessly transferring the words from print to web without ever spending any time sitting down and really reading what my peers had to say. Why? Well, I was always in a time crunch. The website needed to be updated ASAP, and I had better things to do with my time, so I cranked out the work that needed to get done, and then tossed the paper aside until the next issue. I’m horrible, I know, but luckily, I learned my lesson.

Eventually I realized that I needed to start paying more attention to what was going on, not only on my campus, but in the world at large. I downloaded the USA Today app on my phone, allowing it give me updates whenever new headlines would come out. But even that got old, and I found that I was rarely ever actually opening any of those articles when they sent me notifications about them. I still have the app, but in the years since I downloaded it, I’ve turned off the notifications and have all but forgotten its existence.

Similarly, I started following Buzzfeed News on Twitter and the Ann Arbor News and the Society of Classical Studies (with archaeology news) on Facebook. Social media in general is a great place to follow news sources because they not only give you the headline, but they often times give you brief descriptions of the news story so you can pick and choose what you want to read about. Additionally, your friends are probably posting about things that you care about so you can follow along that way, too.

However, my favorite way of staying informed, as is my favorite way of reading in general, is the old fashioned way of picking up a newspaper and taking a few minutes to glance through it. You don’t have to read it from cover to cover – pick a few things you care about or that seem interesting and read them. I’ve started picking up the Michigan Daily, a campus newspaper that addresses both campus issues and national issues as well as pop culture and sports, every week and reading the headlining article and a few others that catch my eye. It keeps me informed about what’s going on in the world but also familiarizes me with what’s going on in the city I’m living in, too.

Whatever way you choose to do it, pick up a newspaper and read it every now and then. Once a week isn’t a burden; if you’re reading the newspaper once a week, that’s enough to keep you up to date with what’s going on so you don’t look like a total idiot when you hear someone talking about something important. It’s also a super cool tool for starting Real Adult conversations, because if you read something interesting in the paper, you can bring it up with a colleague or friend and then you’ll be talking about The News and you’ll age like ten years. But in a good way.

There are plenty of free ways to keep yourself informed – TV, newspapers, phone and iPad  apps, social media. Find one you like and try to read something once a week.

Don’t let the Real World sneak up on you. Stay informed.