Evaluating Productivity & Making for Meaningful Study

I’ve never been one to exercise the most consistent study habits. I don’t create calendars reminding me to keep to a particular schedule. I don’t have any “tried and true” methods, and I don’t always follow the same set of “rules” every time I sit down to engage in productive study. My plan of action varies by my course load, schedule and more often than not, my level of motivation.

With that in mind, this week I sat down to evaluate my own study methods and productivity. I wanted to assess whether my present habits have truly been serving me well: whether what I’ve been doing has been genuinely meaningful, intentional and deliberate. 

I started by combing the internet for suggestions, methods of study and anything supported by solid research. Then throughout the week, I gave them a trial run and an evaluation.

Leitner System

The Leitner System is a way of using flashcards to their most effective benefit. While going through your stack, those terms you correctly remembered get pushed to the backburner, and the ones you’re presently struggling with stay at the forefront of all those cards. That way, you can focus on your “backburner” terms maybe once a week or every other day, while your “struggle” terms stay in your daily rotation.

I tried this method with a set of cards I’ve currently been running through for memory on Quizlet. I broke my set of cards into “daily” and “every other day” sets. I found that spending less time on what I already knew made for so much less of a “mind jumble” when flipping through my cards. It makes sense: If you’re already entirely comfortable with a few terms, why needlessly confuse yourself by throwing them in the mix with the ones that stump you extensively?

Fenymen Notebook Method

The Fenymen notebook method is characterized by deliberately writing down concepts and ideas you may be confused by, and then thoughtfully writing down ways that these concepts can be explained to someone younger or who knows less about it. 

I applied this to my current math homework. As I worked through problems online, I wrote down key concepts, terms and ideas that simply weren’t clicking for me. While I was carefully considering my approach for gathering solutions, I wrote down my steps and spoke them aloud. Being able to make that thoughtful connection between reciting and handwriting my thought-process not only simplified my understanding, but it also made me feel more motivated to continue working through other areas of struggle.

In the realm of productivity, I followed a few suggestions to help amplify my success. 

Cut Down on Multitasking

I am a sucker for notifications. I can be typing a research paper, reading a book or passage, or watching a video for a course. Whatever it may be, as soon as a message from the group chat lights up my screen, I’m immediately sidetracked. Telling myself it’ll be just a quick check turns into aimless scrolling through all of socials, and somehow I end up watching cat TikToks until I’ve completely neglected the task at hand. 

This week, I spent a few of my study sessions with my phone flipped upside down, completely blocking out any cell phone distractions. I found that I was much more productive and got more accomplished in a faster period of time, giving me more time later to be able to reply to the group chat at my heart’s content (or watch the same cat TikTok five times in a row to laugh all over again).

Music Types

I also changed up the type of music I listen to while working. I cannot work without music for the life of me; it’s a necessity. Studies have shown that “busy” and loud music can detract from the task at hand and emphasize the music as opposed to the task. I limited my listening to only soft, instrumental music and found that it acted as more of a pleasant background as opposed to my main focus.

This week, I was able to learn more about my own productivity (or lack thereof) and found a few tricks to help make my study sessions more tolerable and motivating. Give some of these a try and evolve your own understanding of studying and productivity.

Kent State junior becomes TikTok famous

Words by Kaitlyn Finchler

A Kent State junior has over 36,000 followers on TikTok. Jake, also known as @sir.mclovin, has been making TikToks since Oct. 2019. 

Jake has videos ranging from Fortnite dances to his most recent series of videos revolving around Kaitlin Bennett, the “Kent State gun girl.” 

“I saw [that Kaitlin Bennett] was trending recently, and we go to the school that she went to,” Jake said. “I thought I might as well be the guy on the inside to give the people what they want. That’s kind of where that idea came from and future videos will be coming.”

Jake went to the gun rally held by Bennett last year, because he wanted to see what the hype was about. Bennett held a walk supporting open carry rights in 2018, but the event turned into a disagreement between her and protestors. According to Jake, the rally turned into an opportunity for community members to yell at police, rather than anything regarding Bennett or guns. 

Jake has had the comedy film mindset for a while. In high school, he and his friends dressed up as the Avengers to compete in the state track meet. Jake dressed up as Thor, stepping into the ring with the hammer, wig and big helmet on. 

Jake spends a lot of time competing for the Kent State track team and he spends his free time on TikTok. His roommate, junior sports administration major Ryan Demaline, sometimes helps Jake out with his videos.

“It’s funny, because usually something will happen one day and I’ll come home [and] say it to him and then he’ll go off that idea and make it into a little video,” Demaline said. 

Jake likes to have Tik Tok as something stress-free and fun.

“It’s fun, it keeps me busy [and] it’s entertaining,” Jake said. “There really hasn’t been anything negative that I’ve had to deal with.”

Demaline said there is nothing but positivity in Jake’s content.

“All the videos [that] Jake does… some are funny [and] some are a little controversial but they’re all in good fun, they’re just fun to watch,” Demaline says.

You can reach Kaitlyn on Instagram & Twitter: @kaitlynfinchler

Why I Came to Kent State from New York City

Words by Jason Cohen

A lot of people hate small talk, and as of late, I am one of them. As a senior in my fourth year of college, it has lost its novelty. My least favorite question recently is: “Where are you from?” 

Here is how the conversation usually goes:

Them: “Where are you from?” 

Me: “New York City.”

Them: “Wait, actually in the city? Where?”

Me: “Upper West Side of Manhattan.”

Them: “I don’t know where that is, but that’s awesome! Why the hell did you come to Kent State?” 

Me: “My grandma and dad went here, so I got scholarships for that. I got academic scholarships and I got invited to the Honors College. Also, I didn’t like living in a big city, so Kent was perfect.” 

Them: “Oh, that makes sense.” 

The truth is, there are deeper reasons I am here, but I have not had the desire to disclose them lately. However, since it is my last semester, I feel it’s important for me to reflect on them now. 

I went to Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School from 7th grade through 12th grade. It’s a private school in Manhattan and is known for being one of the most expensive schools in the city. In fact, President Trump’s youngest son, Barron, attended the school before moving to Washington, D.C. Going to such a pompous school was not something I enjoyed even remotely. It was highly competitive and I felt overwhelmed by it. The popular students all wore the same designer brands that my family would never consider buying for me, and they all seemed like they lived perfect lives. They probably didn’t, but that’s how I felt. 

When college application time came around, students were stressed. They freaked out, saying things like, “Oh my god, I’m not gonna get into college.” Meanwhile, they were applying to (and eventually getting into) Ivy League schools. It made me want to take it easy to avoid the panic and stress they felt.

In addition, I had recently become spiritually inclined and began following my intuition along with what I referred to as “signs.” There were numerous signs pointing me toward Kent State. As I previously stated in my first blog post, my dad passed away when I was nine years old, so I did not hear anything about his college experience from him. That made me want to go to Kent State like he had to experience something similar to what he experienced. 

My dad always seemed cool to me as I am sure most fathers seem cool to their sons at a young age. I remember hanging out with a friend at my apartment and my mom informing me there was a phone call for me. I took the phone call and then came back to my friend. I said, “That was my dad. He’s cool.” (My dad lived in Pittsburgh, so my friend never met him.)

Me with my dad when I was a baby: 

These were the factors that initially got me interested in attending Kent State. I then visited and fell in love with the beautiful campus. It was an attractive contrast to the concrete jungle I had lived in for the past 13 years. While visiting, I learned information that made me want to go even more. Due to my dad graduating from Kent State, I was entitled to a huge scholarship. I also was just within reach of the Honors College if I got all As for the rest of high school, and my SAT score just barely qualified (more “signs” for me). Being accepted to the Honors College meant better dorms along with many other perks, including more scholarships. 

While I visited, my grandparents told me to go to Hillel, the Jewish center on campus. While I was there, I met people who were in the fraternity my dad was in, Alpha Epsilon Pi. They were cool and excited to learn my dad was in the fraternity. Joining would be another way to connect with my dad, so I considered it to be an important opportunity. 

My second choice was University of Pittsburgh, to which I was accepted. It is a great school and many people in my family have gone there, but it was in the city, and it did not have the connection to my late father that Kent State had. 

Lately, I have not felt forthcoming enough to discuss this with people when the question comes up, but I am grateful I reflected on it now. It was quite a decision to come to Kent State from New York City and not be a fashion major. It has been a journey I will never forget, and I am sad that it is ending soon. I only hope I will be courageous enough to make meaningful decisions like this for the rest of my life. 

What love language best describes you?

Words by Lillianna DiFini

Valentine’s Day is a special day dedicated to proving to your loved ones just how much they mean to you. Oftentimes, love and value on Valentine’s Day is demonstrated through decorative cards, special gifts, bouquets of flowers and, most importantly, overpriced chocolate.

Regardless of your opinion on this particular holiday, there are certain aspects relating to love that many individuals tend to never think about. Due to different personality traits as well as personality characteristics, each individual tends to show and receive love in one of five different ways: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we are going to discuss these five different types of love languages. Furthermore, I included an online quiz where I will explain my own love language according to my results.

The first type of love language, words of affirmation, describes individuals who value verbal compliments. No matter how meaningful these compliments may be, this type of love language reaffirms their value based off of other’s words. 

The second love language, acts of service, relates to any individual who believes in the phrase “actions speak louder than words.” This love language describes individuals who value those actions and go out of their way to complete acts that are meaningful to their significant other, whether this be cooking their favorite meal or simply opening a door for them. 

Receiving gifts is a particularly self-explanatory love language. Those who relate to this language adore receiving tangible items that make them feel appreciated. 

Quality time, the fourth love language, means that an individual most highly values one-on-one attention between them and their partner. People who identify with this love language desire complete and total attention from their significant other while spending meaningful time together. 

The last love language, physical touch, is also rather self-identifiable. Individuals who identify with this love language feel the most adored and appreciated through physical contact. 

Now that each love language is covered, I decided to delve deeper into my own research and determine what love language I best identify with. With the particular quiz I included, you can best determine your love language by setting the quiz to what relationship and age status best defines you. After a short initial setup, your quiz will be underway! 

My personal results listed the five different love languages in order of what most applies to me based on my responses to the quiz. Quality time was the love language that applied the most to me. Following this love language in order were words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts and physical touch. 

Understanding your own personal love language will help you better assess the ways in which you feel the most valued and appreciated. Furthermore, understanding each of the five different love languages will help you better interpret the needs of your loved ones as well as the best methods of making them feel the most loved and appreciated. I encourage readers to take the quiz listed below and to elaborate on your results with family and friends!

Take the quiz here:

Information source: 

Love, Crated with. “The 5 Love Languages® And What They Mean.” Crated With Love, 25 Oct. 2019, cratedwithlove.com/blog/five-love-languages-and-what-they-mean/

Music’s “biggest night” continues to let viewers down

Words by Augusta Battoclette | Illustration by Maryrose Ceccarelli

It is no secret that the Grammys are controversial, with critics claiming they box black artists into the rap category and refuse to nominate women in the “big four” categories: album of the year, record of the year, song of the year and best new artist. 

This year, the show was filled with controversy, not only because many believed Billie Eilish should not have won so many awards, but because less than a month before the Grammys were set to air, the CEO of the Recording Academy was ousted from her position. Deborah Dugan was placed on administrative leave just 10 days before the ceremony after she claimed the awards show was rigged in many ways. Dugan mentioned how artists like Beyoncé, Kanye West, Mariah Carey and Frank Ocean have been snubbed in previous years, due to the Academy wanting the biggest awards to go to rock, country and pop artists.

The voting process sounds simple: every member of the Academy votes on submissions for the awards, then the top 20 entries are reviewed by smaller more specific committees dedicated to each category. Dugan claims this process is not all it’s cracked up to be. According to her, the committees favor artists they have special relationships with and “manipulate the nominations process” to include songs that Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich wants to be performed live during the show.

In an interview on “Good Morning America,” Dugan says, “I’m saying that the system should be transparent and there are instances of conflicts of interest that have tainted the results.”

Dugan also accused the Academy’s lawyer, Joel Katz, of improperly propositioning her during a work dinner. 

“Under the guise of a work dinner, I was propositioned by the general counsel entertainment lawyer—an enormous power in the industry,” Dugan explained on GMA. “Starting with calling me ‘babe’ and telling me how attractive I was and how pretty I was. All the way through I felt like I was being tested. I feel that was a power-setting move as soon as I was coming onto the committee.”

This new controversy only adds to the dark clouds hovering over the Recording Academy. Former CEO Neil Portnow stepped down last year after he allegedly raped a recording artist and Academy member.

In the end, the Grammys are not indicative of the general public’s viewpoint anymore. Instead, the show has become a business opportunity for whichever artist can influence the most Academy members into voting for their work.

In 2018, Alessia Cara won Best New Artist and was the only woman to win an award during the televised part of the show. Lorde, a pop singer, was the only female nominated for Album of the Year that year. Ehrlich did not want her to perform that night. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative conducted a study in 2018 that found only 9.3% of the nominees for the “big four” and Producer of the Year had been women since 2013. 

Music today is more diverse, creative and intersectional than ever before, and it will only continue to get even better. Yet, the Grammys are stuck in an antiquated and exclusionary mindset while struggling to stay culturally relevant. What does this tell us? The Recording Academy needs to do better.

Speakeasy Sounds #1

Words by Terry Lee III

Hello y’all! Welcome to Speakeasy Sounds. In this blog, I am going to (hopefully) introduce you to new music. Speakeasy Sounds features artists that do not necessarily fit within pop culture. These artists will probably never find pop culture’s spotlight; nevertheless, they deserve it. Thus, these artists remain …Speakeasy Sounds.

I ask that you open your minds to new music with me. I like to think of finding new music almost as if you have not even heard your favorite band of all time yet. This is to keep you always searching and ready for your next favorite band!

Whether you like rap, rock, country, grunge, hip-hop, thrash, dream wave, shoegaze, freeform jazz or afrobeat, I have something for you. I will be providing you with a little background on the artists, similar artists for your reference and my favorite album or song by the artist.

With that said, let’s get into it!

Leikeli47 (rap/hip hop)

Let’s start with rap, specifically Leikeli47. Leikeli47 is a New York based masked rapper with true bars. She makes her own easily recognizable beats with a fluent and distinctive rapping style. Leikeli47 means to show you that not only can she run with the boys in the rap game, she “runs these streets.” You can catch Leikeli47 on NPR’s “Tiny Desk Sessions” if you want to see her perform live.

Leikeli47’s album “Acrylic” is a must. The album has my two favorite songs by her: “Let’s Go Get Stoned (Portier’s Vibe),” (a cover) and “Girl Blunt.”

Kate Bush (experimental pop)

For fans of David Bowie, Björk or the general ‘80s fanatic in all of us, we find Kate Bush. I would compareBush’s vibe to that of “dream wave.” One of Bush’s most known songs would be “Wuthering Heights,” based on the book with the same name by Emily Brontë. “Wuthering Heights” gives a different flavor to what you might taste on my favorite album by Kate Bush, “The Hounds of Love.”

“The Hounds of Love” will deliver this dreamy-synthetic-bass-driven trance that will satisfy the nostalgic and the retro-lovers. On “Hounds of Love,” be sure to listen to my favorite track “Mother Stands for Comfort.”

I asked you to keep an open mind, and now I hold you to it.

Pete Drake (country/blues)

Do you like country? Do you like background singers? Do you love steel guitars? Well, it doesn’t matter because with Pete Drake you will be surprised that you love all of these things even if you did not before. Drake started as a studio musician, recording for bigger country bands who needed a great steel guitar player. From there, Drake began holding a tube connecting from his steel guitar to his mouth to create the sound/illusion of a talking steel guitar.

I am asking you to give Drake’s “Forever” album a chance. This is my favorite album and holds my two absolute favorite songs: “Forever” and “Sleepwalk.” If you come away not caring for it, at least you got your feet wet and jumped into the deep end.

Her’s (dream pop)

If you don’t already know them, I am going to introduce y’all to Her’s. I would recommend this band if you listen to bands like MGMT, Unknown Mortal Orchestra or Tame Impala.

Her’s was an English-based, two-piece, dream-pop band that started to blur the boundaries between pop culture and the underdogs. Unfortunately the duo, along with their bus driver, died in a head-on collision in 2019 in Arizona while on tour in America. The band’s life and music career was very short-lived. While they were alive, they became relatively famous for their signature sound.

For this listen, I recommend “Harvey” on their album “Invitation to Her’s.” The whole album will give you a lucid-dreaming state. This would be their last album, as Her’s released it within months of their deaths.

King Missile (art rock)

Last but not least for this week, we have King Missile. King Missile is considered by most to be  “art rock.”

For those unfamiliar, art rock is a very experimental form of rock ‘n’ roll that employs strong deviations from your average rock song. These deviations include things like offbeat tempos, droning sounds and/or sporadic vocal tones. Art rock could describe King Crimson, Talking Heads or Pink Floyd. You might also call this psychedelic rock.

King Missile might not become your new favorite band, but it will refine your music taste. If you look up King Missile, you will most likely find their song “Detachable Penis.” This is a very dry (humored?) song that definitely shows you what to expect next. If you made it this far, then take it one step further and listen to King Missile’s “Jesus Was Way Cool” and “Cheesecake Truck.” I do not have a favorite album of theirs. King Missile’s albums are inconsistent and all over the place … in a good way.

Thanks for jumping into the rabbit hole with me, y’all! Let me know how you feel about these listens. If you like an artist that you feel deserves more recognition, send them to me and I will give them a listen. Contact me via email: tlee32@kent.edu or Insta: iamterryterryiam

I am also planning on doing a local artist edition in the future. If you know of rad local bands or you are in one, send me your stuff. Let me know when the show is, and you could end up featured in Speakeasy Sounds!

The Egg Burner: 3-Ingredient Teriyaki Chicken

Words by Morgan Smith

Are you insecure about your cooking skills because you’ve failed miserably in the past? Do you want to learn to cook budget-friendly meals because getting takeout regularly has become quite expensive? Well, I can tell you that you’re not alone.

I am self-conscious about my cooking skills because every time I have put in effort to cook in the past, things have gone horribly wrong. Whether I burn a dish, undercook it, or compare recipe photos to my finished product, my motivation to cook has become low over the years. After all, if it never goes right, then what’s the point in trying?

The truth of the matter is that there is a big point in trying. This new year, I want to work to reverse the mindset of “it’ll never go right” to “practice makes progress.” I am on a mission to learn to cook simple meals on a budget, and I want to take you on that journey with me. If you are insecure about your cooking abilities as well, I hope you know that I’ve got your back. Let’s learn from and laugh about our failures instead of becoming defeated by them—together.

To find my first budget-friendly recipe of the semester, I searched Tasty, a cooking website from BuzzFeed. When I came across their three-ingredient teriyaki chicken recipe, I knew I wanted to give it a shot. Chinese food is among my favorite cuisines, so this was a no-brainer to me. Not to mention, the recipe only requires three ingredients and costs less than $10. That’s a win-win-win.

Three-Ingredient Teriyaki Chicken

Total Time: 27 minutes (Active Time: 12 minutes)

Here’s all the equipment you need:

  • A pan
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Measuring cup (I didn’t have a measuring cup, so I used a protein shake cup as a substitute! Improvisation is always at work in my kitchen 😉 )
  • A mixing spoon (I used a spatula because that’s all I had. Again, did you know I am great at improvising?)

The ingredients are simple:

  • Two pounds of chicken thighs, cut into cubes ($3.96 at Walmart)
  • 1 cup of soy sauce ($2.48 at Walmart)
  • ½ cup of brown sugar ($1.93 at Walmart)
  • Optional for a side: 1 bag of California blend vegetables ($1.00 at Walmart)

When it came time to cook, I began by slicing the chicken thighs into cubes. This made the pieces small, easy to cook through thoroughly and easy to eat.

After that, I placed the chicken into the pan on medium-high heat. 

I ended up cooking the chicken for five minutes on each side, for a total of 10 minutes. After that, I cut open a few of the pieces to ensure there was no pink in the middle (this indicates that chicken is undercooked. Who wants salmonella?)

Once I determined the chicken was fully cooked, I added soy sauce and brown sugar.

Now, this is where things got a little dicey. As I was reading the recipe’s reviews, the majority of them said that one cup of soy sauce was too much, as it makes the chicken extremely salty. For this reason, I decided to use ½ cup of soy sauce instead of one cup. 

However, as you can see if you compare my “finished product” photos to that of the recipe, you will see that my sauce did not reduce or glaze the chicken very well. I’m not sure if this is because I used less soy sauce, or if I should have reduced the sauce in a separate saucepan before adding it to the chicken, but take that as you will. 

Regardless of the fact that the sauce did not turn out perfectly, the end result was delicious, and I was proud of it. My decision to include some California blend vegetables, which contains broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, was a good one in my opinion, as it helped to soak up the somewhat-liquidy sauce and provided a more well-rounded meal.

Overall, this three-ingredient teriyaki chicken recipe was easy to make and tasted great. Not to mention, the recipe was large enough to give me leftovers to eat for dinner the next night! Ten dollars for two meals is not too shabby.

Why don’t you try out this recipe for yourself? Maybe you’ll get the sauce just right, unlike me. If not, no worries: it tastes great either way. 🙂 

Newbie Noelle: How I Incorporate New, Fun Challenges into my Week

Words by Noelle Grimm

The average college week is usually mundane. For me, it’s just a constant cycle of going to class, drinking coffee, sleeping, and—if I’m feeling adventurous—walking in the cold to get an unsatisfying dinner at Eastway. This is no way to live, so I’ve decided to add a little bit of spice in my life. My plan is to complete three challenging tasks every week. It’s been an interesting experience so far, and I think it’s made my week a little less jejune (see word of the day for Day Three).  

Health and Wellness Task: Eat breakfast before class

Pre-Task Thoughts:

I know this seems simple, but for my earlier classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I usually wake up too late to eat breakfast. Some people are fine with that, but it’s too painful for me. I’m excited to get into the routine of this task and see if I notice a difference in my mood. My goal is to show up to class less “hangry.” 

Day 1: French toast sticks

Yes, these are the same french toast sticks that would be served at lunch in middle school. I keep these babies well stocked in my freezer. I never said the breakfast had to be healthy…

Day 2: French toast sticks

I kinda cheated on this day, but you can’t really control when you sleep in. I still ate breakfast, but it was after my first class. 

Day 3: Eastway pancakes and yogurt with granola

This breakfast still isn’t healthy, considering my pancakes are covered in sugary syrup and whipped cream, but I’m proud of myself for waking up early on my day off just to get food. The pancakes looked much tastier than they were. 

Day 4: French toast sticks

Day 5: You guessed it, french toast sticks. 

I’m officially out of them though, so this is my last day eating those unhealthy sticks.

Day 6: Maple brown sugar oatmeal

This is a great breakfast when you’re on the go. It only takes a few minutes to make, and it’s so filling that you never have to worry about your stomach growling an hour later. 

Day 7: Maple brown sugar oatmeal

Today was a more awkward breakfast, as I was eating oatmeal while the cleaning lady for my dorm was scrubbing my bathroom. Despite this, it was a satisfying meal. 

Why Not? Task: Try a new Starbucks drink every day

Pre-Task Thoughts:

My Starbucks addiction started many years ago. Even so, I can’t say that I’ve been very experimental with my orders. I’m excited to dedicate an entire week to splurging on coffee without any shame in doing so. If anyone asks or judges me for taking pictures of my Starbucks drinks, I’ll tell them: “It’s for the blog!”

Day 1: Almond Milk Honey Flat White

I was a bit disappointed with this one. Vanilla flat whites are my go-to, but the honey in this drink just made me feel like I was drinking tea—a very bland tea at that. I don’t think I’ll be ordering this one again.

Day 2: Mango Dragon Fruit Refresher/ Peach Green Tea

I’m usually a coffee gal, so this was my first time ordering a non-coffee drink, and it did not disappoint. The Mango Dragon Fruit Refresher wasn’t overly juice-like, but rather fizzy. I found it very refreshing, and I would definitely try it again. I had my friend come with me for this one because it was supposedly Happy Hour. As it turns out, the campus Starbucks doesn’t do Happy Hour. Despite this, I convinced my friend to try a new drink. She got the peach green tea and loved it. She said that she usually doesn’t like peach flavors, but enjoyed it with green tea and would gladly give it another shot.

Day 3: Vanilla Flat White with Almond Milk

Substituting almond milk was the ultimate spin on my favorite vanilla flat white drink. I wanted to give almond milk another try, and I think it was a better fit for this drink than the honey flat white I tried on Day One. I wouldn’t be opposed to trying this again, but I still think normal 2% milk works better for flat whites. 

Day 4: Strawberry Açaí Refresher

 I’m not convinced this refresher drink is anything more than a cousin of Capri Sun… That being said, it wasn’t a bad drink; however, I feel as though I spent $4 on juice. I’m not sure I would pay for this drink again. 

Day 5: Vanilla Cappuccino with a sprinkle of cinnamon

I usually go for lattes, but this cappuccino had just the right amount of sweetness without being overbearing. I added cinnamon because I was feeling fancy, and it was a great compliment to a great cup of coffee. Never doubt the power of a little cinnamon sprinkle!

Day 6: Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

This is my new favorite iced coffee drink! It was so smooth going down, and I could still taste the coffee. I hate when the taste of coffee is buried under all the sweetness. I can’t wait to drink this in the summer on a hot day. 

Day 7: Chai Tea

I never thought there would come a day when I would be ordering a tea from Starbucks, but here I am. I have to say this was surprisingly good. It made me want to curl up with a good book and be lazy all day. 

Mindfulness Task: Learn a new word and incorporate it into my language

Pre-Task Thoughts: 

Since I haven’t had the spare time to indulge in my love for reading, I think this task will help me sharpen my vocabulary in a fun way. Luckily for me, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides a new word for every day of the week. 

Day 1: Bonhomie

This means cheerful friendliness. I picked this word because it sounded cool, and it actually originated from the French language which makes it automatically superior. 

Day 2: Intercalate

This means to put into a calendar. This one just seemed useful to know, since I write in my agenda/calendar all day long. 

Day 3: Jejune

This refers to something lacking in interest or significance. It’s fun to say and sums up the majority of my weeks in college. 

Day 4: Lackluster

This means to be dull, lacking in sheen or brilliance. I have to say, the walls in my dorm room are quite lackluster. 

Day 5: Cosmeticize

This means to make something superficially attractive. 

Day 6: Omnipresent

This word came across my Twitter feed, and it’s just one of those words that has a nice flow. As the name indicates, it refers to being present at all times. 

Day 7: Parvenu

Another word derived from the French language, this word describes someone who has recently acquired wealth without the prestigious manner associated with it. 

Final Thoughts: 

The hardest task this week was getting into the habit of eating a real breakfast every morning. I did notice a difference in my overall mood; I felt more energized and not as sluggish in my classes. 

The new Starbucks drinks were mostly good choices. The goal was to expand my options, and I definitely succeeded in that. Although I don’t think I’ll be spending another week trying a different drink every day, I do think I have room to be more experimental. 

Learning a new word every day was simple, but incorporating the new word into my language was difficult. Hopefully, with more practice and attention, I can use these words more often and sound super impressive by saying my week was “jejune” rather than just “boring.”

Featured image courtesy of Elite Daily.

100th Anniversary of Harlem Renaissance

With a month down in the new decade, it’s a time of reflection upon the past. When choosing my subject for this piece, I was originally gonna do the roaring twenties as a whole. But one, that’s been done to death and I didn’t want to follow tradition in beating that dead horse. Two, it didn’t seem like an interesting way to analyze the culture of a hundred years ago that would seem still relevant to our modern culture. So, I decided to cover the period of music known as the Harlem Renaissance, which was one of the first popular African American artistic movements.

The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural and artistic movement that took place within the Harlem neighborhood of New York City from the early 1920s’ to the mid-30s’. It began after another movement called “The Great Migration” which is when approximately six million African Americans migrated from the Southern, rural states to the more urbanized cities. The Harlem neighborhood in Manhattan became one of these hubs where people flocked to, creating a vibrant, creative culture within those five blocks. While there are several art mediums that were touched by this group, today, we’ll be focusing on the musical contributions.

Jazz was still fresh and controversial during the beginning of the twenties, but the Jazz that came out of Harlem sounded much different than anything F. Scott Fitzgerald would’ve placed under West Egg. Before the 20s’, with their all brass instruments and taboo-breaking, Jazz was looked down upon by the upper crust and white society. However, the invention of the “Harlem Stride Style”, which added a piano to jazz elevated the status of Jazz from the seedier scene to the socially acceptable mainstream culture. Despite these groups of musicians being tied with the overall Roaring 20s’ as a decade, they still carved out their own unique and timeless identity. One of these musicians was the “Hi Di Ho” Man himself, Cab Calloway.

Calloway gave birth to one of the most enduring tropes in musical culture, the charismatic frontman, taking the audience by the collar and throwing them into the performance instead of passively listening to them play. His voice, his signature Hi Di Ho’s and smooth vibrato make your bones rattle with how crisp yet shaky it was. In his knee-length jackets and loose pants, he was as if the music itself had taken human shape and was shooting off rythems in all directions. This can also be tied to his signature dancing style. Calloway spun in circles, moved his arms as if he was caught in a windstorm, and his signature move of bending low on both knees. They even rotoscoped him into a Betty Boop cartoon in 1933.

It’s very fitting because Calloway was basically a Fleisher Cartoon come to life, in looks and attitude. While not in the rockstar hall of fame, Calloway definitely inspired some of the early rock n rollers, Little Richard is one of the most obvious with the outlandish clothes and yelps with falsetto.

Two of the most legendary voices that came out of this scene are arguably the most unusual and distinct voices, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holliday. These two are legends who’s lives have been documented, biographed, and adapted into plays and movies. However, their music still stays relevant and part of the modern American songbook. Armstrong (a.k.a Satchmo, Pops, many other nicknames) was an already established musician by the time the Harlem Renaissance rolled around and Holliday was just getting started at the beginning of this scene, performing around Harlem in her early teenage years. While they were both at different places individually, they both shared two unique vocal stylings that would come to define jazz as a whole. Armstrong, much like Tom Waits, objectively doesn’t have a good voice. It’s hoarse, weak and a bit awkward to listen to at first. Armstrong still has a magic charisma that flows into his performances, my personal favorite being his cover of La Vie En Rose.

His trumpet playing is spectacular, but his gravely harmonies still find their way into my heart every time I hear this version.

Same with Lady Day as well, who’s voice still has raspy qualities to it but definitely more easy on the ears. Her voice, with such graceful and powerful presence, is so captivating in both audio and actually watching her perform. My favorite of hers is probably her performance of Gloomy Sunday, a song that’s a legend in and of itself, but a total somber yet beautiful performance in her hands. You can almost see her with that iconic gardinia and stage presence, singing to you.

Another runner up would be her version of I love you Porgy from Porgy and Bess, a cute, sweet version of a Broadway staple.

It’s hard to do the entire Harlem Renaissance justice in just one article since it had such a deep impact on musical culture and African American history as well. But below, I’ve compiled a playlist of some of the best cuts in my opinion that can create a great jumping-off point to exploring more music, which is my job.

Featured image: Louis Armstrong playing the trumpet, courtesy of the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division.

A Lesson In Accidental Minimalism

If there is one thing my first semester of college has taught me, it’s the valuable lesson of “less is more.” 

I first came to campus bright-eyed and seemingly unprepared, and I noticed it right away. From having hardly enough clothes hangers to finding myself frustrated by the presence of things I didn’t see myself needing, I knew from very early on that I would have to evaluate what was worth having in my tiny slice of northeast Ohio campus life and what wasn’t. 

The first item of business I set about accomplishing was a complete dorm overhaul. I cleaned and carefully placed every little possession and by the time I was finished, I was exhausted by the amount of time I had put into my organization and purging of items only for it to feel so fruitless just a few days of college mess later. That’s what drove me to the “less is more” mentality. Because even after all my efforts, I still found myself holding onto less of what I needed and more of what I wanted, rather than finding a healthy balance between both.

In about a week’s time, I got an aloe plant. I paid essentially a penny to print photos of my dearest friends to string up. And I filled a box full of extra supplies, clothes and room items that didn’t feel necessary anymore. It took me almost the entire semester to really process my understanding of minimalism; when I began with my overhaul and reorganization steps, I didn’t view what I was doing as “minimalism” in the slightest. The difference between the individual I was at the start of the semester versus at the close was made obvious by my change in mentality and outlook.

When I have read about “minimalism,” it is described as being intentional, deliberate and done out of passion and on purpose. Quite oppositely, I’d say coming to college made me an accidental minimalist. 

When people picture the textbook definition and the foundations of minimalism, I’d assume they envision stark white walls and barely anything at all. For me, that understanding has changed, as I have come to find that minimalism is the personal satisfaction in knowing that while I may not have a dorm stocked with millions of pillows, decor, an overflowing wardrobe and items intended for single use, what I do have is exactly what I need. Nothing more, nothing less.

I found comfort through the ups and downs of my first semester of college in the people who helped me understand that material items don’t carry nearly as much weight or sentimental value as do your choices, your deliberateness and your feelings during times of togetherness or solitude.

“Fewer” really can mean more: fewer belongings, fewer worries and a closer circle made up of the people and ideas that hold the greatest amount of weight in your heart.

Follow Emma on her minimalist journey here.

Illustration courtesy of The Burr’s illustration team.