How to Talk to a Second Semester Senior

Second Semester SeniorsAs they begin their last semester of college, the members of the Class of 2014 are in a strange place. Some of them have job offers and graduate school acceptances, but many of them do not. Whether they’re happy to graduate or wishing they had four more years, they should be handled delicately. Here are some tips from an expert (i.e., one of those stressed seniors) about what to say to these tender children.

Do not ask what they’re doing next year.

Most seniors do not have concrete plans yet. Even the few who do have law school acceptances, offers from consulting firms or Teach for America acceptances aren’t exempt from the self-doubt and anxiety that can come from contemplating the post-grad life. If you’ve somehow found a senior who doesn’t freak out when considering what lies beyond May 2014, at the very least they’re tired of talking about it.

Do not ask what it feels like to be a second semester senior.

It feels scary and exciting and weird and wonderful. Often at the same time. Do not use this as small talk unless you really want to know those things.

Do ask for advice.

Seniors are full of advice, and they’re also really self-absorbed, so they love giving it. They have wisdom about basically everything: classes, internships, relationships, extracurriculars and friendships.

But do not ask about the future of their relationships and friendships.

Your single friends have never felt more hopelessly single than they do right now, after winter break and a litany of aunts and uncles asking if they have a “special someone.” Those in relationships are all worried about whether they’ll last post-May 17. This also applies to all of their friendships, so don’t ask how much they’re going to miss their best friends. The answer? A lot.

Do accompany them to the Tombs.

Seniors love Tombs and as many of them begin 99 Days next month, they’re going to need some company. If you’re not 21, there’s always weekend brunch, lunch and dinner.

Do not judge them for the #SWUG life.

A SWUG is a senior wash-up girl. The SWUG life means going out without getting dressed up, staying in to drink wine and watch movies and napping at inappropriate times. We know your judgement is just envy.

Do be their cheerleader.

Whether they’re applying to grad programs, going to a job interview, starting a blog or finally showering, support them in their endeavors! A cheerful text or a hug might just make their day. For my fellow seniors, here’s a piece of advice from the latest episode of “Parks and Recreation” and my personal hero, Leslie Knope:

In times of stress or moments of transition, sometimes it can feel the whole world is closing in on you. When that happens you should close your eyes, take a deep breath, listen to the people who love you when they give you advice and remember what really matters.

Photo: Wikipedia

Fixat10ns: A Retro Fourth of July

With America’s birthday less than 24 hours away, we realized you might need some guidance when crafting your own holiday playlists. Whether you’re spending the day barbecuing with your parents, celebrating with friends or missing home on another continent, these are the songs that’ll help make it your best Fourth of July yet.

I went with a retro take here, because I don’t think there’s anything more American than the Cold War. I mean, if you can’t appreciate Bruce Springsteen or Billy Joel, you’re probably a Communist. Without further adieu, your Fourth of July Fixat10ns:

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell This song instantly reminds me of one of the best movies ever — Remember the Titans. There are few things, I think, more American than that movie. It’s got football, a feel-good story, Turk from “Scrubs” and Denzel Washington. And Ryan Gosling, who’s incidentally not American but on the Fourth of July everyone’s American, right? Am I confusing this with St. Patrick’s Day? Whatever, the moral of the story is, listen to this and feel like a high school football player who’s helping crush the bastions of racism. ‘Murrica.

California Girls – The Beach Boys As an east coast girl, I almost want to hate this song on principle — You “wish [we] all could be California girls?” Come on. But actually, the Beach Boys hit up the wondrous virtues of girls from every corner of the nation. East coast girls are “hip” and The Beach Boys “dig those styles they wear.” Good to know. And there are few things more American than appreciating the beautiful girls of South Dakota who “keep their boyfriends warm at night” — right?

Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi Alright, things are getting serious now — welcome to the ’80s. I honestly don’t think this song needs any explanation: just listen to the chorus and you’ll know just why this song is American.

Somebody Loves You –Betty Who OK, I’ll admit it — I’m cheating with this one. If you’ve never heard it before, you might think that it’s a pop song from the ’80s you’ve never heard before, but actually it’s from 2013. But, assuming that I did successfully trick you into thinking this was actually retro instead of brand new, you can’t complain. And once you listen to the amazing bubble gum pop Betty Who is serving up, you won’t even be mad at me anymore. Probably.

We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel Speaking of the Cold War, Billy Joel will help you run through the history (plus a bit more) at a lightning pace with this track. I actually really wanted to put “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” on here instead, but it’s a little mellow for raging — but, like “Livin’ on a Prayer” it tells the classic story of two kids trying to make it when they’re poor and in love. Fun fact about the song I did put on here: at one point he says “Communist bloc” but I always thought he was saying “Communist rock.” Communist rock, I imagined, was a really awesome underground rock scene that was rebelling against the Soviets using the power of guitar solos. I have a lot of friends.

Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield This came on at a party I was at last semester and everyone freaked out and sang along. Until that moment, I didn’t realize this was a song other people liked. And now, you too can play it at your Fourth of July party and have an epic sing-a-long. You’re welcome.

Ignition (Remix) – R. Kelly Apparently this song is 10 years old, which makes me feel old, so it’s qualifying as retro. It also almost became the new national anthem kind of, qualifying it as patriotic. Basically the most appropriate song for the Fourth, then.

Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffet This song is literally about day drinking. Jimmy Buffet is so drunk that he can’t find the salt shaker. Think about that. If you’re of age, this is the perfect song to listen to while you sit outside in the sunshine and drink a few too many in the name of patriotism.

Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen Yeah — I didn’t put “Born in the U.S.A.” You thought of playing that one already — and truthfully, many of Bruce’s best songs are Fourth of July appropriate. That song, “Thunder Road,” “We Take Care of Our Own” and “Glory Days” all almost ended up on here too. “Born to Run” won because not only is it the best of these songs, but something about being born to run embodies the freedom this country is all about. If you consider yourself an American and you don’t listen to Springsteen on the Fourth, you may as well trade in your passport and go to Europe where they don’t have freedom and George Washington.

God Bless the U.S.A. – Lee Greenwood Yes — this is a bad song. Awful, cheesy and schmaltzy. But it’s the Fourth of July, you’re unironically wearing an American flag tank top and you still haven’t found that salt shaker. Kick back, enjoy the fireworks and remember: “The flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.” The beauty of that lyric is that “they” is never identified, so Republicans and Democrats can sing together and think about the other side without them noticing. Liberty! Fraternity! Equality! Wrong country again?

Happy Fourth, Hoyas!

So You Want To Be a Hoya Columnist?

stack_of_newspapers copyGood news readers — you too can be a part of The Hoya. Applications for our fall semester columnists have just opened; you can find them all here on Facebook.

But what exactly does a columnist do? Columnists are Georgetown students (and a few professors) who write either every or every other week for the opinion or sports sections or The Guide. What you can write about depends on which section you want to write for. To help you figure out into which section your voice would best fit, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite columns from the last year.

Opinion

Mark Stern (COL ’13) wrote a column called Letters of the Law where he explored the Constitutional law underlying many hot button politic issues. He wrote about the Supreme Court’s handling of the oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry (that’s the Prop 8 case), issues of the Second Amendment, and efforts of the D.C. Council to restrict students’ rights.

Khadijah Davis (COL ’15) wrote  The Ethnicity of Femininity, where she often spoke about issues related to feminism, race and diversity. Check out her columns about Beyoncé’s role as a feminist and how pluralism can be better acted upon at Georgetown.

My personal favorite column is As This Jesuit Sees It … which rotates between members of Georgetown’s Jesuit community. Fr. Matthew Carnes, S.J., wrote a column about viewing ourselves as part of a legacy of Georgetown students, Fr. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., wrote one more than a year ago about the problems of perfectionism and Fr. Patrick Rogers, S.J. provided some valuable perspective as finals bore down on campus.

The Guide

Preston Mui (COL ’13) wrote one of my personal favorite Guide columns: Burleith Bartender. Dedicated to keeping Georgetown’s consumption of mediocre drinks at bay, he shared recipes for pitchers that would please any party, his favorite ways to enjoy gin and the tools any novice bartender needs.

Allie Doughty (COL ’13) penned a column in the fall about the funny intricacies of language called Georgetown Babel. She wrote about the figurative language that makes up weird idioms and the different phrases you’ll hear on the different coasts. Nicole Jarvis (COL ’15) also wrote a lifestyle column entitled Pardon My French about the strange things that keep her ticking, from burritos with french fries in them to the Van Gogh socks that get her through midterms.

Allie Prescott (COL ’14) shared her music tastes in her column Amplify, from her favorite classy tunes to her feelings about the musical year that was. Zach Gordon (COL ’15) shared his slightly less conventional music tastes, from his defense of Selena Gomez to his love of Björk. And I’ve personally written a column called Girl Meets World where I talked about, amongst other things, how friendships don’t get enough screen time, what Liz Lemon of “30 Rock” meant to me and how there aren’t enough fat people on television.

Sports

Tom Hoff (MSB ’15) took some controversial opinions in his column Down to the Wire. He argued that we ought to forgive Michael Vick, explained how race played a role in the media coverage of UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad and looked at how injuries just might end professional football as we know it.

Arik Parnass (COL ’15), the Candid Canadian, often talked about sports that don’t get as much coverage. He wrote about his love of tennis player Andy Roddick and the way nationalism complicates where international soccer players end up. Laura Wagner (COL ’15) explained how Novak Djokovic’s success might be tainted given tennis’ flawed drug testing.

Former senior sports editors Pat Curran (COL ’14) and Evan Hollander (SFS ’14)  shared a column about the Men’s Basketball team. Reading Pat’s NCAA tournament hopes, while humorous, still stings a bit in light of how things turned out. In the emotional turmoil of Georgetown’s loss, Evan laid out how difficult it was to find the reason why they can’t find postseason success.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg, though. Click around our website, look at the applications and apply by August 5th!

“Brave” Video Promotes Positive Self-Image

brave

I’m a big fan of Sara Bareilles. From the first time I heard “Love Song,” I was addicted to her pop melodies, clever lyrics and beautiful voice. “Many the Miles” got me through some disappointments, “Gravity” might be the most beautiful song ever — I could go on.

Her new song, “Brave”, isn’t exactly brilliant. She still shows off her insane vocals, but I can’t say it hits my emotional buttons the way “Gravity” or “Winter Song” does. At least, that’s the way I felt until I saw the music video, directed by Rashida Jones.

The music video has a bunch of people being “Brave” by dancing alone in public. But the really awesome, inspring thing about this video for me is that the people featured are of all different ages, races and sizes. No one says “Hey, fat kid, you can’t dance.” None of the dancers are necessarily Hollywood beautiful.

But it’s beautiful to see these people — the type of people you’re most likely to encounter walking through a mall or down the street — represented in media, when they’re usually the ones most likely to be silenced.

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

The Ultimate Summer Reading List

summer reads

As an avid lover of literature, one of my favorite things about the free time I enjoy during summer is the chance to read a lot of books — and the lack of homework. Short books, long books, literary masterpieces and trashy beach reads all make for fantastic reading material. If you’re just relaxing at home this summer, you’ll have lots of free time, but even if you’re a little busier — traveling or interning, perhaps — you can still find a free moment for reading (the Metro is a perfect place to fit in a chapter or two). Here are my recommendations for the irresistible books you must read this summer:

If you liked The Hunger Games by Susan Collins …

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If you like dystopian societies, scientific inquiry, social revolutions, an omnipotent government and seeing how these things can mess with a society, I recommend Oryx and Crake by literary titan Margaret Atwood. This book sets up a dismal future where everything is scientifically engineered and the Internet is ubiquitous. If you get hooked to Atwood’s eerie cyber-drama, don’t worry — there are two more books for your pile: The Year of the Flood and the soon-to-be-published Maddaddam.

If you want a dystopia based less on science and more on politics, read her other book, The Handmaid’s Tale, about a handmaid in a totalitarian theocracy that forbids women from reading.

If you want a more romantic dystopia, read Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, about an angst-ridden New Yorker falling in love as the world falls apart.

If you identify as a nerd (or did in high school) …

blahhhThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green was classified in Barnes & Noble as young-adult fiction, but it was also Time Magazine’s Book of the Year in 2012, so don’t worry — this isn’t Twilight. TFiOS, as its devoted fans lovingly refer to it, tells the story of Hazel, a snarky, intelligent and perceptive teenager who is slightly socially awkward – and also happens to have cancer. It’s a book about the grim realities, the unfairness of life and the sweet moments we might be able to find in between the complexities which make us human. A book about a girl with cancer sounds like it could be really overdone and dramatic, but this novel is anything but. I read it in one day and really can’t recommend it enough.

 

If you liked Bossypants by Tina Fey …

Fey’s book was brilliant because of its combination of wit, inside details on her television shows and her large amount of life experience. Mindy Kaling — originally known as Kelly on “The Office” but now better known for her eponymous Fox sitcom — released Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) in 2011, which expertly fuses humor, insider information and self-deprecation. Kaling knows how to poke fun at herself — she includes embarrassing childhood photos, vain selfies and awkward stories — while still making you want to hang out with her. The only problem with the book is that it’s so short. (Though, with so many other recommendations to read, there will be plenty else to keep you busy.)

 

If you’re looking for romance without the schmaltz …

When you hear the title, it’s easy to assume that Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love is a corny, Nicholas Sparks-esque take on relationships. However, the novel tells the story of an old man, separated from the love of his life by the Holocaust, who now lives alone in New York. In the same book, there’s a young girl dealing with her father’s death who searches for the man who wrote the book that brought her parents together. The novel itself presents a complicated portrait of what love really means — and it’s imminently quotable, which I always enjoy.

 

 

If you’re looking for some classics …

classics

There are some books that are considered parts of the western literary canon, the type you tend to read in school. But sometimes it feels like everyone else’s middle school taught To Kill A Mockingbird and you have no idea what people are talking about when they mention Atticus Finch (true story). These are those kind of books:

Blog editor Lindsay Lee would like everyone to consider reading (or re-reading) The Great Gatsby, and I have to get behind that. First, please don’t see the movie until you’ve read it because that cliché is true — the book is always better (Editor’s note: STRONGLY SECOND THAT). Second, it’s kind of the perfect summer book, since it’s about people getting into some major shenanigans during one insane summer.

Summer is also the perfect time to read those long books that you otherwise would not have the time for. This doesn’t just mean that you should dig into Game of Thrones, however (though it does mean that too).

You might have read John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath in high school; if you haven’t, pick up this tome about one family’s Depression-era trek across the country searching for peace.

If you haven’t already, pick up another Steinbeck classic, East of Eden, about the intense rivalry between two brothers growing up in California. Lots of depressing things happen, but in the end it’s uplifting.

Other books that you might enjoy …

… if you love baseball — The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

… if you like short stories — Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower

… if you’ve always wanted to rage in Spain — The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

… if you’re an Anglophile but also nostalgic for the ’90s — One Day by David Nicholls

… if you struggled to learn a foreign language — Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

… if you like things that are kind of meta — The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

I Got a Pocket, Got a Pocket Full of … Poems?

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

There are many reasons April is one of my favorite months — free Ben & Jerry’s, the return of sundresses, the fact that everyone is just so happy all the time. With all of these great things going on, you might not know that April is National Poetry Month. As part of this celebration, the Academy of American Poets designates one day of the month as “Poem in Your Pocket Day” — the idea is to carry a favorite poem in your pocket all day long in order to share it with everyone you encounter.

In my high school, this was a big deal because anyone with a poem in their pocket got to shirk their uniform for the day and dress down. Though I haven’t had to worry about dress code in two years, I still celebrate this day out of pure love for poetry and I think you should too.

“But wait!” you say, excited and scared. “I don’t know which poem to carry in my pocket!” Thankfully, I’m here to help with a few favorites.

Here’s one by the famous and fantastic John Keats:

When I have fears that I may cease to be

Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,

Before high piled books, in charact’ry,

Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;

When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,

Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,

And think that I may never live to trace

Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;

And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!

That I shall never look upon thee more,

Never have relish in the faery power

Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore

Of the wide world I stand alone, and think

Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink

If Romantic poetry isn’t your thing, I’ll give you a hand at decoding the text. Keats is expressing his biggest fear: dying young, before he’s learned and loved as much as he wants. This poem is much sadder when you find out that Keats did die young, largely viewing himself as a failure.

If you want something a bit more out there, my friend and I were obsessed with this very odd poem called “Maybe Dats Your Pwoblem Too” by Randy Johnson, about none other than Spiderman.

All my pwoblems
who knows, maybe evwybody’s pwoblems
is due to da fact, due to da awful twuth
dat I am SPIDERMAN.

I know. I know. All da dumb jokes:
No flies on you, ha ha,
and da ones about what do I do wit all
doze extwa legs in bed. Well, dat’s funny yeah.
But you twy being
SPIDERMAN for a month or two. Go ahead.

You get doze cwazy calls fwom da
Gubbener askin you to twap some booglar who’s
only twying to wip off color T.V. sets.
Now, what do I cawre about T.V. sets?
But I pull on da suit, da stinkin suit,
wit da sucker cups on da fingers,
and get my wopes and wittle bundle of
equipment and den I go flying like cwazy
acwoss da town fwom woof top to woof top.

Till der he is. Some poor dumb color T.V. slob
and I fall on him and we westle a widdle
until I get him all woped. So big deal.

You tink when you SPIDERMAN
der’s sometin big going to happen to you.
Well, I tell you what. It don’t happen dat way.
Nuttin happens.Gubbener calls, I go.
Bwing him to powice, Gubbener calls again,
like dat over and over.

I tink I twy sometin diffunt. I tink I twy
sometin excitin like wacing cawrs. Sometin to make
my heart beat at a difwent wate.
But den you just can’t quit being sometin like
SPIDERMAN.
You SPIDERMAN for life. Fowever.  I can’t even
buin my suit. It won’t buin. It’s fwame wesistent.
So maybe dat’s youwr pwoblem too, who knows.
Maybe dat’s da whole pwoblem wif evwytin.
Nobody can buin der suits, dey all fwame wesistent.
Who knows?
 

Yeah, that’s an odd one.

This Thursday, I’m planning on carrying “10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved by a Skinny Boy” by Rachel Wiley in my pocket:

But whatever poem you choose, just pick one and share it all day long. From Jay-Z lyrics to nursery rhymes to strange haikus, it’s a day to celebrate all of the lyrical twists and turns that make us uniquely human.