Thursday, December 18, 2014

What the Holidays are Really About

December is always a month where everyone just seems to be in a cheerier mood. Why? It's almost Christmas time. Christmas brings out a sense of generosity in everyone to all people. It's a great thing to witness and take part in as well. However, people seem to realize what these holidays really do, and what saddens me is that not everyone can experience this.

The holidays are meant to bring family and friends together and reminisce about the past year. However, so many people have never felt this feeling of what a family truly is, and that hurts my heart. I was blessed to grow up in a loving family with parents who have been together for over 20 years and two amazing little siblings. My parents had in-laws that loved everyone in the family. I have cousins, aunts, and uncles that are all able to get along with loving grandparents.

Just a few weeks before the end of my fall semester of junior year, I was speaking with a friend of mine. They told me that they have never really celebrated the holidays with their family; everyone just goes on with their day as if there's nothing special. They also told me that they have never felt like they are a part of family. There's no unity, trust, or familial aspect to their life.

I have never felt so sad hearing this, and it really made me reflect on my life. I was blessed with a family that, obviously, has its ups and downs but will always be there for anyone in need in the family. I never knew that some people were never blessed with this familial aspect of their life.

I've also read stories on some homeless and less financially fortunate who have no one else in their life to turn to for help. They are truly alone and have nowhere to turn. They stay in raggedy homeless shelters where they can get the necessities, but they have no one to spend a holiday. This is just depressing and sad.

Merry Christmas from Me!
Why am I mentioning all this negativity with just a week before Christmas? To remind you of something. No matter how much wealth or material posessions you have, you will only find true joy in spending some time with someone close to you. That can range from your family to your best friend to a significant other. For those who feel alone, you know that deep down, there is at least one person you can reach out to in your time of need. Connect with someone who you have lost touch with and have a mini-reunion. Enjoy your holidays with just one person that will appreciate that someone cares about them.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Recently, a woman in New York City created a video with a company to show that catcalling happens, even in the 21st century. The video shocked many men, including my male friends. They texted me nonstop once the video came out, saying, "You gotta see this video. It's so eye-opening." I replied nonchalantly, "This is not shocking. This happens every day to women, no matter where it is."

They were stunned that people catcall this much, even though I've witnessed these same men catcall other women around me. When I was younger, I thought nothing of it. As I've gotten older, I've become so irritated and annoyed by catcalling that I sometimes overreact to men catcalling me. Sometimes, the catcalling becomes very physical.

For example, my friends and I were walking to my friend's place. To get there, we have to walk down Court Street, the main road of Athens, Ohio. We were looking decent; I was wearing jeans, a nice shirt, and a fleece. Out of nowhere, a guy comes up behind me, slaps my butt, and walks away. I was astonished that someone had the audacity to do something like this.

Naturally, because of my nature, I ran after him to approach him. I tapped him on the shoulder, and this was the conversation that ensued:
     "Excuse me, sir."
     "Why did you find it appropriate to slap my a**?"
     "Because I liked what I saw. You should be flattered."
     "Actually, I'm not flattered. Who do you think you are that you can go up to a random girl walking down the street and slap her butt? You're no one special, and no one should do that."
     "Jesus, girl. Calm down. Stop being such a b****."
     "Me calling you out on objectifying women makes me a b****? Really? You know what, I hope you realize that I just caused a scene about you doing something completely disrespectful to a woman you don't know in front of a boatload of men and women. You royally screwed yourself over. Have fun trying to talk to any girl tonight."

As I walked away, every girl that witnessed this gave me the biggest smile. Some complimented me on standing up for myself.

What was flabbergasting is that he believed that I should be complimented by him slapping me. Really? You disrespecting women is a compliment? Are you serious? Another thing that was shocking was that he called me a derrogatory name, because I stood up for myself.

This is something that isn't new. Strong women and women who stand up for themselves are always called horrible names. News flash men: we don't need you to be successful. I don't need a boyfriend, fiance, or husband to be happy or successful in my life. I can be happy through work and through friends and family. You are not our sole focus or priority in life.

Why is catcalling still happening? Men, grow up. Calling a random woman out on the street in a sexual manner is disgusting, pathetic, and disrespectful. A true man would approach a woman and try to initiate a conversation. You will not get anything out of catcalling a woman as you drive by her on the street or walk past her on the street. Grow up and stop this now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What's the Deal with Award Season?

The MTV Video Music Awards, or VMAs, were this past week. Almost everyone's eyes was on their television, waiting to see who would win what award or if there would be a repeat of Miley Cyrus. Well, there was nothing as jaw-dropping as Miley Cyrus' performance last year, but Beyonce pulled on the heart strings with her whole album performance and being awarded by her husband and child.

I was one of the few people who was not watching the VMAs (in case you want to know, I was watching Bears highlights on YouTube). I read about the happenings on Twitter and watched the trends the following morning.

Thinking about the VMAs in retrospect, I kept wondering why these award seasons are ridiculously popular. I understand four awards: Grammys, Emmys, Oscars, and Tonys. Every other award, e.g. the TCA, PCA, VMAs, etc, seems absolutely pointless. Why does a singer/band need an award, because they put together a great video? There are THOUSANDS of people who can create videos at the same caliber or even better, and they are not being recognized.

The TCA & PCAs? Really? Let's give you an award because people like you? Then give everyone in the world a TCA or PCA, because at least one person likes another person. It's absolutely pointless.

Again, while I was considering the purpose of these awards, I remembered a fellow classmate from my high school. He stated, "The award season is basically watching rich and wealthy people receive awards from other rich and wealthy people for singing or portraying someone that they're not." That could not be more true. Think about it for a second.

The Oscars, Emmys, and Tonys are awards given out for acting in Hollywood and on Broadway. What is acting in reality? Acting is a way to play a person that you aren't, a fantasy, an escape from reality. There are people being REWARDED for playing something they're not. Isn't the point of life to be rewarded for being who you are? It's hypocritical.

The Grammys are awards given out to singers. Well, there are MILLIONS of people that are talented singers across the world, yet they didn't receive a grammy. Why? Because they don't have a contract with the music industry. That's really the only reason they didn't receive one. That's absolutely ridiculous.

People then say, "Well, the fashion is what I care about." You could actually wait until the next day, pick up a tabloid, and see what these celebrities wore to the event. You could also subscribe to fashion magazine and see what they will probably wear months before they decide.

"Well, I like the performances." That's what YouTube is for; you can see past live performances that these singers/bands have done. You can also go and see them in concert yourself.

After reading all this, do you really see a reason to waste three or four hours of your time to watch rich people receive an award?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gone But Not Forgotten: John Malone

Sportsmanship, competition, and basketball: three things that John Malone treasures and showed on and off the court. Just one year ago, Fenwick High School lost a member of the class of 2011, John Malone Jr., in a car accident. Malone was a star basketball player for the Friars, and the game he played is now a memorial to him.

Fellow classmates Leo Latz, Tim Gancer, Joe Dwyer, and Dylan Barnett created the John Malone Memorial Basketball Tournament at Fenwick. It is now in its second year and is still going strong. However, the tournament is not the only way Malone is being remembered at Fenwick High School.

"There is the John Malone 52 scholarship that is academic based. It goes to two incoming freshmen and one current senior; they are each worth $3,000," said Latz.

The fund is sponsored through donations and selling custom made t-shirts at the tournament that has Malone's name and number he wore at Fenwick on the back. In their first year alone, the fund was able to raise almost $4,000.

"The tournament says a lot about the Fenwick communtiy," said Gancer. "Event though you may not have been great friends with him, people still came out to support the family and each other."

The Malone family as well as fellow classmates are hoping for this tournament and scholarship to continue on in the many years to come.

Malone touched everyone's hearts in some way. Whether it was through his warm smile, his humor, or just any memory that someone had with them, Malone defined what a Fenwick Friar is. He treated everyone with respect, kindness, and compassion. John Malone may have physically left this world, but his spirit and presence is eternal and with each and every one he ever had contact with.

Special thanks to Scott Theis, Athletic Director at Fenwick High School, and the Malone family.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Sharp Turn Down the Road of Life

Well, as many of you may know, I am out in Omaha, interning at WOWT in the sports department. I'm having the best summer, getting hands-on experience in a newsroom, and living the dream covering some Triple A baseball and the College World Series. Guess what; I'm not there.

After just two days in the newsroom, I started feeling very sick. I could barely keep my eyes open, because the light hurt my eyes. I was fatigued all the time, trying to fit multiple naps in somewhere throughout my day. I couldn't talk, because my throat felt swollen. My head was pounding non-stop; I didn't know what was wrong with me. I thought it was a 24-hour bug so I went in to the station the next day.

I was still not feeling well, but I was better than I was the day before. I went in to the newsroom, and I was trying to find some energy. I was getting weaker and weaker. I was using so much energy to just try and keep my eyes open. I went to a doctor, and they told me it was a sinus infection. They gave me some antibiotics, and I went on my way home.

A couple days later, I was still wasn't feeling well. I ended up getting sick while I was on the job. I went to another doctor, and they gave me different antibiotics. It did nothing; I was getting really upset, because I was missing all these days at the station without getting any better. Finally, my uncle noticed that I was red in the face and not my normal sunburn red. I looked in the mirror, and it looked like I had chicken pox all over my face. I went to a doctor for the third time. They said it was either strep or mono (mind you, I haven't had strep since I had my tonsils and anoids removed when I was 5). Doc came back after running a blood test and told me I had tested positive for mono.

Those were the hardest six words I have ever heard. Those words meant my internship was done, my part time job I had was done, and I would have to come back home to Chicago. I was balling my eyes out, knowing that the summer I was so excited for just disappeared. I went back to my uncle's house and just could not stop crying. I called my boss at the station, and he was really understanding of the whole situation. I was only in the newsroom for four days, and he still offered me the internship for next summer. That was the absolute last thing I expected; I was waiting for a "Well, it was great working with you for a short time. Feel better and enjoy your upcoming school year." Four days and I still received an internship for next summer? I was astounded.

I called my parents, and my mom flew out to come and get me on Father's Day. I just sunk into depression on the entire eight hour drive back to Chicago. Granted, I was given a second chance for next summer, but I wanted it this summer (you will come to find that I can be very impatient). I was so upset at myself for not taking care of my body throughout the entire school year. Instead, I ignored any health problem I had so I could be with friends, study, or be at WOUB on campus.

A month and 20 pounds later, I am almost over this disease. I had red dots all over my body, I lost so much weight, my hearing was damaged, and I slept for practically a month. Blood test after blood test, aspirins, constant visits to doctors; I swear Northwestern Hospital should know me by name by now. All this free time that I've had this month has helped me instead of harmed me, like I originally thought.

I have been spending this time getting healthy as a way to continue my work. I have been writing constantly, whether it's on this blog or it's a sports piece for SportsRants Women. I have been working on my memoirs non stop. While my family went on their vacation, I spent time with my grandfather (by that, I mean he spoiled me). I've found this new strength, both physical and mental, that I've never experienced. This time has taught me to think of each sharp turn down this road of life as the long way to acheiving my goals and aspirations. Eventually, I'll get there with hard work, connections, and a bit of luck. Am I happy I got mono? No, but I am happy with what this disease did to me: open my eyes a bit more and just go along for the drive on this road of life.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Being a Big Girl: Another Step in Adulthood

What a month. I'm now a junior in college; it feels like it was just yesterday that I graduated high school. Time really flies when you do what you love. I finished the torturous finals week and was ready to start my summer. I was only home for three weeks, and boy, did they put me to the test.

I knew coming back home was going to be difficult. My grandmother's health was declining, friends were in town for only a short while, and I was only going to be home for three weeks. I had a lot to do in a short amount of time. My first week was spent with family seeing as my friends were just then entering their finals week. I visited my grandmother on almost a daily basis, checking in and making sure everything was ok.

Days pass by, and her health deteriorated rapidly. She was having a hard time just doing basic things, like breathing. She was able to make it through Mother's Day, but shortly there after, she took her last breath. My grandmother passed away on May 18, one week before I was supposed to leave for the summer.

I apologize for starting on a sad note, but when you lose someone that close to you, it needs to be stated first and foremost. I was able to catch up with my friends, patch up differences with old friends, and make new ones as well. I was able to see a few friends of mine that I haven't seen since I was 10 years old. I met new people at my grandmother's memorial service and at random restaurants all over the city.

However, this past week alone has taught me that I'm not just Mom and Dad's daughter; I need to grow and be on my own. Yes, that's what college is for, exploring new found independence, but eventually, you come home. Sometimes, you see your parents in their weakest states and have to be their shoulder to cry and depend on. Other times, you realize that your siblings will age and become more and more mature; they don't need you to mother them anymore.

I've had both revelations this past week. Being the oldest, I am already someone that the family depends on with petty housework and babysitting. But when I became an emotional pillar for my mother, that's when reality really kicked in. I have to grow up and stop acting like a child. I have to be there for my family (as everyone should always be there for their families), but I also need to grow and flourish as an individual and as a journalist.

This past week, I had the amazing opportunity to get a tour of Halas Hall and meet with the communications department of the Chicago Bears. I was able to pick their brains for knowledge and frankly anything that could give me an edge in the extremely competitive journalism field. I wanted to make my name resonate in their minds and make them remember me as maybe a future potential employee, not just a star struck Bears fan.

Now, as you're reading this, I'm on my way to Omaha, Nebraska, to start my first professional internship. I've had this position since March, and now the anticipation is over. I'm taking my first baby step into adulthood by making my first solo road trip to another state. I'm going to get a taste of what living off of the Mom and Dad fund (well, not entirely off) is going to feel like. Only two years separate me from the real world. It's time to grow up and become a big girl.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Death of Personal Beauty

I'm just going to take a second and let you grasp what this post is going to be about: death. No one likes to write about issues like this. That's what the obituaries are for: reporting people that have died. A girl who is only a sophomore in college has no right or experience to speak about death and the toll it has on a person's life. Oh I'm sorry, I didn't know that age was a factor. Sorry to burst your bubble buddy, but until you have walked in my shoes for a day, then just quiet down for a hot second.

Death. Death means many things; it could mean the death of a person, an idea, a trend, or a soul. It could mean that someone has brutally attacked another person that caused the victim to re-evaluate everything in their life. It could also mean that someone was physically attacked with a gun, knife, cancer, or disease that took them away from this planet.

In today's society, it seems like the latter is happening to people at younger and younger ages. Just recently in Chicago, a 14 year old shot and killed another classmate. Take that in for a moment. A 14 year old used a gun to kill another classmate. What was the motive? It's unknown at this point in the investigation.

That's just in a neighborhood. I'm going to let you into my walled up life to see what death of a human being can do to someone. In my short span of almost 20 years on this great Earth of ours, I have lost 15 people in my life, ranging from family members to best friends. To sum it up: I'll just give you a list real quick:
 - I saw my best friend's body(he was 18) hanging from a rafter at the age of 14
 - My grandfather, two uncles, and cousin died of cancer
 - Six close friends of mine died from drug overdosees (All were 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, and 22)
 - A classmate of mine drowned (He was 17)
 - An infant of a family friend of mine died of downs syndrome (She was 3)
 - Another best friend of mine was shot and killed by a gang member (He was 24)
 - Another close friend of mine died of alcohol poisoning on her 21st birthday

All of these happened in span from 2009-2014. In a span of 5 years, I have lost 15 people close to me in my life. Do you notice something that is consistent? Excluding the family members, all these deaths are happening to youth, young adults, even infants.

In today's society, there are MILLIONS of pressures put on youth that so many people do not even realize stress out these children. Parental pressure to get the best grades, sibling comparison to why you aren't as athletic or intelligent, peer pressure to do drugs or drink early on, media pressures to look a certain way, and personal pressures to be successful.

Some people cannot handle these stressors in a healthy way. All of my friends that committed suicide or died of drug overdose were ridiculously stressed out. The reason my friends did drugs was to escape reality and the stress of the real world. They didn't have a healthy outlet to relieve their stress; they decided to shoot up, snort, or smoke instead. It put them in a different realm where the real world didn't matter for a few moments. That realm needs to exist outside of a drug high.

Here's a message to all these people: STOP PUTTING PRESSURE ON THESE CHILDREN.

Parents, stop comparing your children to their siblings. John Doe will never be the same as Mary Doe and vice versa. Even if Mary is the star child, athlete, or whatever, don't compare John to her. He has a different skill set than her; he has different talents than her. No two people are ever the exact same; stop trying to make it that way.

Peers and friends: don't pressure people to do things they don't want to do. If someone does not want to drink, don't call them a loser, dork, wuss, etc. Just accept it and live your life. Stop trying to control their actions. They are their own person and will do what they want to do. Let them make their own decisions and live through their mistakes or successes. It's not your place to mold them to be your perfect friend.

The media, oh boy. I am a part of the media; I am a journalist. I know the pressures the media is putting on society, and I am a part of it. Honestly, these media personnel, especially Hollywood, stop defining beauty. As cliche as this may sound, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." What one person finds attractive in one person, someone else may not find attractive.

For example, I know many girls that find very buff, ripped men very attractive. Personally, those people scare me; they look like they have bowling balls in their body. I find a man in a suit 1,000 times more attractive than a guy in a bro tank and salmon-colored shorts.

There are differences among people; stop trying to create this "perfection" image. It's not about what the people look like, well slightly. It's about the personality that's attached to it. I know MANY men that are ridiculously attractive but treat me like I'm a piece of meat. I am not your slave; I am an independent woman that will tell you to get off your own two feet and get yourself a sandwhich. I am not here to serve you; I am here because we both are attracted to each other, physically and emotionally.

Ladies, embrace yourself. Give yourself confidence and work your flaws. These stressors that society, parents, peers, and siblings are using against you? Push them aside and just work through it. Be strong and confident about yourself, both physically and emotionally. Not everyone can fit the 5'6" skinny, blonde, tan, athletic housewife stereotype that society is making us buy. I know I sure don't. I'm 6'1" and believe me when I say that men are intimidated by my height alone. It's quite frustrating.

Men, the same goes for you. You don't have to look like Ryan Gosling or David Beckham. That's what we have them for, to look at. What we want from you? A caring, chivalrous, supportive, humorous partner in life. We're not looking for a father or a slave master; we're looking for someone to be our partner and support us emotionally; someone that loves us for how big our personality is, not how big our rack is.

These stressors are causing these youthful deaths. Stop pushing these pressures on the youth. Another cliche, but this generation is the future. Stop pressuring us to be something we are not. We are who we want to be. You're going to have to accept it and deal with.