Posts Tagged ‘RMU Student’

By Jasmine Ng, RMU Student

The latest snowstorm in the Chicagoland area has come and gone. In saying that, I’m pretty sure Winter Snow Storm “Beck” will be upon us as we speak. We can only hope this snow storm can respect my “artistry,” because I have approximately 475 design projects due. So while this last snow storm has invigorated the rock salt, snow shovel, and lawn chair businesses it has some if not most Chicagoland residents acting like they’ve never even seen snow.

Yes..Jay and Queen Bey, it’s winter in Chicago. Imagine that? I mean, what do you expect? Unless you’ve just moved here, you know the deal. It will snow, and it will snow a lot. Unless you have four wheel drive you will be sliding your way to school or work. Your car will be buried alive, and Grandma herself will be waiting to smash her snow shovel over your head if you even think twice about moving that lawn chair away from her parking spot. But guess what? That’s winter in Chicago for you. But you wouldn’t think that from looking at all of the news reports leading up to the storm. There’s live reporting from the battle grounds and man on the street interviews with average Joes looking as bundled up as Randy from “A Christmas Story.”

Yes, thank you local news, I really need the opinions of other people to confirm that Olaf from Frozen will be having a blast in this weather.

It’s not like we live in Miami and the only thing white is the hair on most of the wealthy people that live there. Don’t get me wrong, the snow was terrible. You know it. I know it. Rather then waste both of our precious time, just sit back relax and deal with it. You live in, or around Chicago. Why not focus on being more productive? For example, check out this really cool video of a DJ Bulldog.

I’ll catch you at the next snow storm when we’ll all be huddled around that heat lamp on the EL platform.  Yes, I know it sucks. The only two people who think snow is cool is my five year old cousin and Tom Skilling.

By Gina Marie Disalvo, RMU Student.

This one time, at band camp, my friend hijacked an elevator and had a disco. Seriously. In order to use the elevator, you had to boogie with the best of ‘em. These shenanigans continued for a few hours and even moved into the dorm lobby. Non-stop disco; bands from all over the country joined in and it turned into a regular old Saturday Night Fever. This…this is why marching band; because at the end of the day everyone wants to belong. Everyone spends high school searching for their place; whether it is sports, drama, academics, or music. Some of us find it, some of us don’t. What I can tell you is that marching band changed my life, and I can’t even play an instrument.
guard girl

I spent years in other activities. Cheerleading, girl scouts, pageants; I tried my hand at horses, archery, fishing, and even jousting. Okay, I am just kidding about the jousting. But seriously, singing and dancing were the only things I really enjoyed. Both required no team or group effort. You see, kids are cruel and being a tomboy on a cheerleading team can lead to some nasty name calling and seclusion issues. It doesn’t matter that I had been to nationals more times than most of them could count. They hated me on principle. I’m not the only kid who had this problem; sometimes mean girls and boys decide it’s a great idea to pick on the people who are different. So after eleven years of hard work, and seven national titles, I quit cheerleading. I walked away from the team of fifty people who made being a human being feel like terrible curse.


I walked onto a team of eight. Eight girls, all from very different backgrounds, who decided, let’s try something new. I joined my high school’s color guard.


Color guard are the people with the flags and the rifles that make the marching band look pretty. We dance, and twirl and do all sorts of cool stuff. I learned a lot 2010in color guard. We competed, and won State. That though, isn’t what I wanted to tell you. What I wanted to say, reader, is that these girls were the most accepting people I had ever met. We all had each other’s backs, even if we weren’t friends, because at the end of the day we were a team. In the group of fifty girls I couldn’t find a single one who cared as much as these eight girls. The best part though was that they didn’t just come with themselves; they came with an entire marching band attached. It was the band family. The director was the parent, the winds/brass were teenagers, the percussion were the children. Seriously though, these people made up a group that made you feel at home. For some of us growing up, it was the closest to home we ever felt. The most accepted and loved, and the bonds made in this one, or four seasons, changed lives, and made life worth living.


So, ‘this one time at band camp’, is a big joke right? But seriously, this one time, at band camp, I found the best family I’ve ever known.

By Eric Finlayson, RMU Student. 

Easter brunch in Chicago is a beautiful thing when the weather gods have lined up and allowed Chicagoans to have great sunny Spring weather. However, for a chef, it’s a 3 day weekend in the kitchen of extensive work and preparation. I work for Redstone Restaurant in Oakbrook Terrace and we do breakfast, brunch and dinner on Easter; breakfast and brunch are the big sellers.

While I’m on the way to work at 10 A.M. Easter Sunday, I can see everyone dressed up coming from church on their way to breakfast and brunch. I know what a crazy long day is ahead of me, but I’m prepared; game face on!

img_oakbrook-terraceAt Redstone Restaurant we have a huge patio overlooking a gorgeous look of the water, perfect for a sunny Easter brunch. As the day goes on, I’m red in the face from the heat of the kitchen. I run to the back to get some more towels. I pass our Easter bunny (an employee in costume) and knock over his whole basket of eggs in a hurry. Uhhh…. The orders are coming in just as fast as the customers, and it’s “Showtime”. We prepared for this holiday. All hands are on deck.  Energy drinks are passed out to employees. We will need a little extra energy today.

It’s been 7 straight hours now, and the dinner push is coming. The cooks and I are still in our groove. We’re ready for the next wave. Seats are being filled, orders are coming in and Easter is still here, and these people are hungry! Every 20 minutes I’m refilling my ice water; need to stay hydrated. It reminds me of cooking in Iraq when in the Army. HOT!

As the day winds down, things slow down. It’s now quieter in the kitchen; time to clean and call it a day. It’s been 9 hours now and we still need to clean and get this kitchen back to regular. Little by little everyone is losing lenergy. It’s apparent on everyone’ faces that we need food. As ironic as it sounds, you don’t get to eat much in the kitchen.  Food is for paying customers.

Now on 10 ½ hours my friend Juan let me know he’s making food for everyone in the kitchen; sirloin and potato tacos! Right on time! Finally I’m finishing up with work. I’m dog tired, hungry, in need of a shower, but I have an authentic meal right in front of me from my co-workers. Happy Easter to me! I drive home. Can’t wait to shower and put my feet up.

My fiancé tells me how everyone on Facebook was posting pics of the awesome brunch served today at my restaurant Redstone. That makes the Easter rush all worth it!

By Kaylin Hetrick, RMU Student.

My first solo trip out of the United States was just this past October. Many times I invited some friends and wanted them to start saving to come with on this great adventure. Needless to say, everyone backed out. There was no way I was, though. There’s a website I visit often, sometimes too often, that has great deals on adventure packages. I decided to book my trip to the Galapagos Islands. My package included hiking the world’s second largest active volcano and visiting Santa Cruz and Isabella Island for seven days.

Travel is a passion that will never escape me. I love going to the airport to check in, go through security with efficiency, and then wait at the gate patiently. It’s almost like a meditative process knowing that I am about to embark to an unknown place with unknown people.

When I first arrived at the “airport” on Baltra Island, Galapagos, the plane taxied straight up to the only building on the island. I felt like a VIP. I didn’t have to walk but fifty yards to find out my luggage didn’t make it out gal5of Miami where my connecting flight had been. This never fazed me though. When I’m on vacation, I don’t need any material things, just my legs to walk and my eyes to see.

The first Island to explore was Santa Cruz; it is the most populated with 17,000 inhabitants out of the total population of 30,000. The mission was to drive from one side of the island to the other, which is only about thirty minutes. At first the island looked barren with short shrubs and no trees. The sun beat down on this side of the island. Then, finally with a slight elevation towards the middle of the island it was completely different. The area became foggy and misty with no sun. All around trees were everywhere and the grass seemed to be glowing green. Along the way two huge craters came out of nowhere. Over two million years ago the craters were huge lava tunnels that had since caved in, and greenery had set in the craters to make it more scenic.

As traveling continued, the opposite side of the island became alive. This was where all the people lived. Next to the water there were many shops and people walking outside. The smell of the ocean was calming. The sounds of the birds, sea lions, and clicks and clacks of the crabs on the rocks were the sounds of nature.

The Galapaganians are the only people who can inhabit the four of fourteen islands. Most students and tourists can only get a visa for three of less months at a time when visiting. The only other way to stay indefinitely is if you marry someone that is from the Galapagos. What’s so fascinating about the people is that they have a depth of respect for each other and all the creatures on the islands. Many times while in a vehicle driving to and from a destination, if there was a bird in the road the driver would honk, and even slow down to ensure the animal would not be in danger. It was forbidden to take anything from the islands, even a small rock or shell. No one may touch any of the creatures or try to harm anything. I loved the respect the people had for their land.

sierra-negra-volcano-isabela-island-signAfter a couple days on the main island, I got in a boat and traveled to Isabella Island. This is the largest, yet youngest, island of the Galapagos. Isabella Island is less developed and only has a population of about 2,000. This is also the location of Volcán Sierra Negra. I hiked that volcano for ten hours. It was worth it. Similar to the other island the climate changes drastically. Ascending the weather was foggy and wet with mist. Sometimes the sun would show through, but the sun was dangerous at such an altitude. Towards the top of the volcano, about three hours into the hike, a clearing came through.

The volcano was vast and looked like a pit of black sharp rock. The volcano peak is 12 kilometers across. A million years earlier, lava was flowing violently down the side ofgalapagos-islands-volcan-sierra-negra-y-volcan-chico this dangerous place creating new surfaces of this island. On the side the lava flowed you could see the path it took all the way to the ocean. Only the areas where the lava didn’t touch had greenery. The other areas were covered with sharp, rough volcanic rock. I could even feel the heat coming through my feet from the lava that still flows way below the surface. It was incredible.

My trip wasn’t long enough, but what adventurous trip is? The islands in the Galapagos over time will shift and fall back into the ocean. There are five humungous volcanoes under the surface that create the islands that are visible today. The tectonic plates continuously move and after several million years more islands surface from below the ocean. How cool it that? I think it’s pretty awesome.

By Steve Varisco, RMU Student.

I am usually the one complaining. I like to do it. My friends expect me to rant and rave about the simple annoyances in my life. (Some even find it amusing.) I’ve even gone as far as to complain about how terrible it is being a night student: work all day, class all night, on a terrible diet due to no time for dinner, all the homework and group projects, submitting papers for final grades, etc. It is terrible being me with all of my first world problems. This post is something different. I want to share a learning experience I’ve had.

I’ll try almost anything once. I enjoy having unique experiences. There is one experience that will stick with me forever. This came about during my first attempt at college 15 years ago. One of the people in the dorms with me was in a wheelchair. Being the smug and invincible teenager that I was, I bet him that I could handle being in a wheelchair for an entire day. I used to always say, “The whole world is handicap accessible now. What’s the big deal?” Little did I know, my dorm-mate was on the wheelchair basketball team and he had a spare chair. I was about to learn what the big deal was.

The terms of the bet were simple: I couldn’t use my legs for the entire day. But the fun actually started the night before the bet began. The door to my dorm room was not wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. What I would have to do was roll out of bed and pull myself out into the hall where my new mode of transportation waited for me.

I need to interject at this time and notify all readers that I was 5’10” and weighed in at a whopping 145 lbs. My musculature could have, and was, described as non-existent. Pulling myself across the 15 feet from my bed to the door was not exactly stress free. What was worse was trying to maneuver in the bathroom. But that is a story for another day.

Finally, I’m in my chair and ready to make my way to class. Right from the start, I noticed the smallest incline in every sidewalk. The idea of propelling myself up each one seemed like a cruel punishment. Had I not wheelchairknown better, I would have thought that my stride-challenged friend had spoken to God himself to ensure that there were no downhill slopes the whole way to class. I was moving at a snail’s pace. By the time I got to class I was 15 minutes late. Usually, I was 5 minutes early. First lesson learned. Can’t move so fast when the world is leaning against you.

Once in class a fun new discovery hit me. All the desks had the chairs connected to them. There was no way I was going to try sliding in one. I decided using a hardcover text book as a table top was the best idea. As I pull the backpack off of my lap I realized how sweaty and steamy the gap in between the two points had become. I was soaking wet wherever the backpack had been touching. Luckily the backpack was waterproof or else almost the entire contents would have been in contact with “eau de Varisco.” As I’m about to put the book on my lap so I could take notes, I decide against the idea. I just felt disgusting as I sat defeated and listened to the instructor drone on for the rest of the hour.

Finally it was time to go back to my dorm. Learning from earlier mistakes, I sling the backpack around the back of the chair. I roll outside and relish in the fact that the whole ride back will be downhill. I start rolling towards the dorm. Thank goodness I don’t have to push myself. I start picking up speed. The breeze feels so refreshing. I get to the end of the block. I hadn’t had to stop like this yet. I grab the wheel rails and they slide through my hands. I let go. I brace myself and grab on again. The rails are sliding through my hands, burning as I try and stop. I clamp down and manage to hold on to execute my stop before hitting the street. I look at my hands. They are black from dirt and a fine layer of skin had been removed. Second lesson learned. Every advantage has a disadvantage.

It was only 10:30 a.m. and I was already hating my big fat mouth. I roll inside and was greeted by the professional wheeler. “How’s it going?” he asks.

I can hear him already enjoying what he thinks will be a victory. I muster the best smile I can, “Piece of cake!” I say as I roll towards my room.

I expect my arms to fall apart at any time. I get to my room and remember I won’t be able to go in there. The chair doesn’t fit. I turn around and roll to the common area tables. I can see Mr. Wheels smiling at the other end of the hall.

I live through the whole ordeal two more times during the day. No matter how much I planned, I was never able to anticipate all the obstacles in my way. On the way to my second class, I found that my shortcut through 792886_1_Ocampus woods wasn’t going to help. Foot trails aren’t made for wheelchairs. Halfway down the paved path through the woods, I encountered a downed tree limb. Any other day I could have just stepped over. That day, I had to double back and take the long way around. By the time I get to class there are only 10 minutes left. The third class is on the other side of campus. I usually make it just in time. Defeated, I roll back to the dorm. Third lesson learned. I’m an idiot for thinking I can do this.

Upon my return, I’m sweating, out of breath, dirty and tired. Wheelie is waiting for me. I could sense him sitting there smiling from the time I gave up on going to my third class. When I get inside, I roll up to him and concede. “You win” is what I wanted to say. I couldn’t really say much. I was worn out. I stand up, glad to use my legs. They were the only parts of my body that weren’t screaming for relief. I wave off the chair and Mr. Wheels. My hand is a smear of dirt and blood. Defeated I walk into my dorm room and fall asleep.

Wheelie McWheelson and I are still friends to this day. Whenever we meet up, a game of wheelchair basketball is customary. Needless to say, he always wins. He also never lets me forget that day. Even if he didn’t constantly remind me I will never forget. Learning about somebody by walking a mile in their shoes is dumb. Try wheeling “half” a mile in somebody else’s chair.

Blake Whitmore, RMU Student

Four years ago I went to the premiere of James Cameron’s Avatar with my boyfriend, his brother, and their friends. They were all older than me. When we shuffled into the crowded theater with our arms full of oversized colas and popcorns, a girl from the middle of the theater called out to my boyfriend and his brother. I immediately recognized her, Gabriella from my Algebra II class the year before.

We scooted past Gabriella to the empty seats she saved us while trying not to brush our butts against her. It turns out she was there to meet up with the group. Apparently they had known each other for quite sometime. It shouldn’t have surprised me. High schools are a complicated web of intertwined awkward social circles.

When my boyfriend introduced Gabriella and me, I started to say we already met, but she extended her hand with a smile and said, “Nice to meet you.”

I sat next to this girl for an entire year and she did not even vaguely remember my face. I smiled, shook her hand, and simply replied, “Algebra II. Second period.” She squinted at me and tilted her head. It was coming back to her. Her eyes widened and the light bulb was flickering.

“Oh my god, you’re that super smart girl!” The smile dropped off my face. Gabriella went on and on about how I was amazing at math and that I was the only sophomore in that upperclassman course. My boyfriend laughed knowing it all sounded just like me, but I was not so delighted. I had so much more to offer, but my one defining trait to Gabriella, was that I was good at math.

In a high school of 2,557 students it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Everyone quickly rushed to their niche and tried to leave their mark. The theater kids all wanted a leading role. The athletes wanted scholarships and trophies. The band kids all wanted that rare solo. If my mark had been that I was good at math, what was I to do with the D I just earned in Honors Trigonometry that quarter.

This moment in the theater started me down a dangerous path. I wanted to be perfect in every way and I wanted to be remembered for my successes, not my shortcomings. I would do anything to be the best, no matter perfectionistwhat it cost me. My physical health began to deteriorate and I just kept pushing forward. I had all A’s, was working on the yearbook, taking 4 AP classes, had a solo in the marching band show, and was nominated for homecoming queen only to land in the hospital a few weeks later, but I still thought I could be perfect.

My perfectionistic ways were hazardous. I never thought I was good enough. I didn’t think anyone would remember me or think highly of me. Perfectionism was my shield. I had it in my mind that if I was perfect in every single way I could avoid all shame and avoid being forgotten. I was living for others.

There is no such thing as perfect. For a long time I thought I had failed, but there are so many more outcomes than perfect and failure. That black and white thinking never leads anywhere enjoyable.

I was doing everything to please everyone else, but nothing to please myself. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, and my head was pounding. Once again my health has caught up to me. My body is yelling at me to slow down, to take a break, and just relax, but this time I am listening.


By Blake Whitmore, RMU Student

As much as I enjoyed reading Dr. Stern’s post last Friday, “Where to Think,” I have to disagree with it. “Think outside the box” simply means don’t let ordinary rules, societal standards, and normal everyday constraints restrict your thinking. Although the saying has been around for a while, it isn’t one I hear annoyingly too often. If I didn’t think “outside the box” I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

When I was in kindergarten, my teacher gave us this worksheet that asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I left that question blank, because I was 6 for crying out loud. I think 18 is still too young to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life, but nonetheless my teacher insisted I answer it. Even when I was 6 I was a rebellious, outspoken little child. I refused to answer, so my teacher pulled me aside and started rattling off suggestions. I remember the list well, because it was my first experience in memory of gender profiling.

thinkoutsidetheboxMy teacher asked me if I wanted to be a nurse, teacher, stay at home mom, secretary, librarian, or the First Lady. I asked what “the First Lady” was and she told me it was the President’s wife. I was excited and told her that was it. When I brought home my worksheet to my mom, she asked why I would aspire to be the first lady and not the President. I told her because only men have been President. My mom said, “Don’t be afraid to think out of the box. Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it never will.” At that moment my mom began raising a little feminist who always thought out of the box and for the next two years I wanted to become the President.

My dreams of becoming the President faded to the background of my personality after learning what the job actually entails, but that never took away from the importance of that moment in my childhood. Seven years later I was attending Catholic school in one of the strictest dioceses in the country, Lincoln, NE. I was an ambitious 7th grader who always asked questions, especially during religion class and science class.

I started to notice that after a while my questions weren’t getting answered and the teachers began to be annoyed by my questions. Some teachers and administrators also showed signs of distrusting me. One instance was when I needed a permission slip signed. The school accused me of forgery and asked my mother, who confirmed it was her signature. Discouraged by my teachers, I felt like I had done something wrong. After weeks of frustration I was reassured of my actions through yet again the phrase, “Think outside the box.” A teacher said the phrase in an English class, not directly too me, but it left an impact because at that point I needed to remember that thinking differently is good.

Those moments lead to my realization and coming out as an atheist, a self-identity I consider very important to who I am today. My strong opinions and will power come from the very phrase Dr. Stern hates, claiming is due for retirement. NEVER! If people quit thinking outside the box then nothing will change, rules will be blindly followed, and humanity will be boring. “Carpe diem” has been around for centuries and it’s not going anywhere, so why should “think outside the box”? These words of wisdom should never die.

By Blake Whitmore, RMU Student

Ever since I was little I have watched a lot of television, but I always just saw it as research. I dream of being a television writer or screenwriter for film, so watching television and analyzing characters and stories is just preparation. I enjoy deeply analyzing everything I watch. Anything from Family Guy and South Park to Hannibal and Game of Thrones is worthy of deep analysis of how and why it works.

breaking-bad-logoRecently I was talking to my mother about Breaking Bad; she hasn’t seen any of it. When I said it was coming to an end my mother responded, “Why? I thought that show was so good.” I smiled, because I agree entirely that the show is great. I explained to her that despite the show being possibly the greatest show of all time, show creator Vince Gilligan is smart in ending it now.

Breaking Bad has changed television in a way that I can’t even put into words how important it is to the medium. I know I am not the only one going on and on about Breaking Bad, and some continue to argue The Wire is still the best television show, but Breaking Bad did something Lost, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Dexter, and even The Wire never did.

There is a general outline people follow when writing screenplays for television and film. The outline varies based on whether it is a half hour sitcom, one hour drama, or film, but generally pretty similar points are always hit. The major point that is always hit in sitcoms and some one hour dramas like, Law & Order and Warehouse 13, with a lighter feel is the reset button. At the end of every episode an event happens to kind of reset the show. A problem is usually solved within one episode and then another will present itself at the end to set you up for the next episode. As for most one hour dramas, the characters change a little over the course of the series due to the over arcing story that spans the season or longer, but overall they are still recognizable by the end.

Tony Soprano was incapable of change. The cast of The Wire wanted to change, but in the end the system proved to be too big. Dexter Morgan is still a serial killer and the cast of Mad Men are still conniving their way through advertising . Then we meet Walter White. Vince Gilligan took things to an all new level for television.

In Mad Men and Dexter the premise does stay entirely the same, which most shows have to, and the characters have changed only in subtle ways that seem, well normal to an extent. Walter starts out as a chemistry teacher with cancer that struggles to support his family, so he decides to cook meth with a bumbling former student. Now he is a drug lord, mass murderer, and a very terrifying man. The change is so drastic that the show is almost unrecognizable from the pilot now.

It is a transformation similar to Michael Corleone in The Godfather, but even more drastic and detailed. Granted, The Godfather is about three hours long, but after the finale of Breaking Bad there will have been 62 episodes and that’s just a little more than 49 hours that we have spent with Walter and Jesse.

Walter’s transformation is comparable to literary classics of The Great Gatsby and the fellowship from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the key is that this was television, the medium everyone scoffed at and turned up their noses. People have always thought higher of film and books, but television is coming into its own. Looking at this year’s Emmy nominations I could only stand in awe of how far television has come. Breaking Bad was nominated alongside Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards, and Mad Men for best drama series. Breaking Bad ultimately took home the Emmy for Best Drama Series.

Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and the cast on stage after winning the Emmy for Best Drama.

Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and the cast on stage after winning the Emmy for Best Drama.

Back to my mother’s question of why to end such a brilliant show; well, there hasn’t been much of a reset button on Breaking Bad. It has constantly been moving forward at a rapid pace. The characters have all drastically changed and so has their environment and the circumstances. This chapter of Walter’s life is coming to an end. Rather than drag out into more story like The X-Files and Supernatural , which both clearly went past the originally planned storyline, Vince Gilligan has decided to end the story and I respect him for that decision. The show ends this coming Sunday in what I am sure will be an epic finale.

Thanks to Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan, and the other shows nominated for Emmys this year, television is no longer a medium to underestimate .

By Blake Whitmore, RMU Student

When I was 16 years old, I drew out my first tattoo in a notebook in the back of my AP American Literature class. It was based off of a saying that my color guard instructor used to say to us before a competition. “Hearts on fire. Heads on Ice.” It meant perform with passion, but keep a cool head. The last part always made me think of a serial killer with a freezer full of severed heads, so I changed it a little to “Hearts on fire. Minds on ice.” I sketched out a heart: photo (51)not the silly little Valentine’s Day shape, but a real anatomically correct human heart. I did my research to make sure it was as close to correct as possible.

The idea of tattoos enamored me as an aspiring artist. I loved the idea of displaying art on my skin for the rest of my life, but as I got closer to finally getting my first tattoo I began to get a barrage of complaints and reasons why I should never get a tattoo. I was told I would never be able to get a job and never look good in my wedding dress. Or there’s the always entertaining question of “What is it going to look like when you are older?”

I reply, “Badass! I will be the most badass old lady around. Still longboarding and inked up.”

I put a lot of thought into my tattoos. They have great significance to me and I carefully select talented artists to ensure an excellent piece of artwork in the end. For my first tattoo, I made sure that I liked the same idea for 2 years! I made sure this wasn’t one of those week long obsessions like that weird rock collecting phase I went through. I finally made it official in March of 2011. I was 18 years old and had just finished a month long stay in the hospital at University of Michigan at the tail end of 2010. Basically I was feeling like I had not had the ability to fully celebrate my 18th birthday. A monumental birthday when people normally go to the club, buy lottery tickets, and register to vote. Voting is exciting, right?

I spent my 18th birthday in a recovering room after I had an emergency surgery, so when I finally got my first tattoo it felt like the perfect thing to close out an incredibly difficult chapter in my life. My tattoo was beautifully done by Fred Story in Davison, MI at Strange Daze Tattoos.

Since then I have had two more lovely pieces inked onto my body. Conan O’Brien’s famous pompadour is on my right wrist, reminding me of my inspiration in comedy and that he and I both went through shit in 2010. (See 2010 Tonight Show Conflict) His farewell speech from the Tonight Show really resonated with me, particularly the part where he addresses cynical fans: “I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality. It doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you. Amazing things will happen.” At that moment in my life I was angry at the world and didn’t understand why my health took such a turn, photo (49)but those words were exactly what I needed to hear.

On my left wrist is my younger sister’s signature. She has my signature as a tattoo as well. My sister and I didn’t always get along the way we do now, but these days I feel like I can talk to my sister about things I could never bring up around friends or other family. My sister and I are currently very far from one another; she goes to school in Florida. My tattoo reminds me every day though that our bond is deeper than any friendship you make simply by happenstance. photo (50)

I do not regret my tattoos and I know that I will get more. I have a good job, I will look stunning in a wedding dress, and I will be an inked badass old lady. So, to all the haters out there: tattoos are certainly not for everyone, but just like politics and religion you are not going to change my mind about them.

By Blake Whitmore, RMU Student.

I enjoy looking around at all the different people on the CTA red line train during my morning commute. I look around making up elaborate back stories for the all the individuals. The woman sitting across from me had a small stain on her dress. I imagined it was from a cup of coffee a few months earlier. She went on a date with the most amazing guy that made her laugh a little too hard, causing her to spill a little of her frothy whipped mocha coffee on her dress. The small mark never fully disappeared, but the dress fit her too well and had too many memories to throw it away now. The engagement ring on her finger seemed new, since she continued to play with it and spin it around her finger. She seemed happy and that made me happy.

A man sat next to me. He hadn’t shaved in a couple of days. Dark plump bags rested underneath his eyes. He pulled out a small pair of glasses and put them on and reached for a notepad from his bag. He began writing, but I couldn’t tell what because it was in Russian. I recognized it because my roommate and her family are fluent in Russian. I imagined that he moved here years ago to benefit his three daughters. He wanted them to have a better life than he had, so even though his degrees in Biomedical Technology weren’t recognized in America he and his family packed their bags. He picked up an entry level position at a telemarketing firm to support his family. He worked long hours and got paid barely more than minimum wage. His only escape was the small short stories he wrote in his notepad. He seemed sad and that made me sad.

ImageI did not know these people and they didn’t know me. We pass countless numbers of people every day through our morning commutes and our trips to the grocery store. Only for a brief moment are we a part of that person’s life, and them a part of ours. I look up and down the train car one last time. Most people are buried in their phones and tablets, but I catch the eye of a woman at the end of the car. Her clothes were tattered and covered in filth. Her toes showed through the holes in here sneakers. Her blank stare read like she had no home, no place to wander to after a long day. She doesn’t look happy or sad as a man knocks into her pull cart and doesn’t even acknowledge her existence. I smiled at her. She smiled back and I got off the train to walk to work. I know nothing about her, but I will never forget her.

Walking up the stairs to work I wonder if she will remember me. Will the newly engaged girl with the cute stained dress remember me? Will the Russian writer even know I was there? I looked down at what I was wearing: a summer dress and flip flops. What did that give away? Do they guess at my back story? Every weekday morning my alarm clock goes off at exactly 7:00 AM. I get up and begin the daily routine. That word routine makes me cringe. The mundane routine of a 9 to 5 job has finally set in, but I still look forward to my commute. I leave my apartment at exactly 8:15 AM with a travel mug of hot tea and a good book in hand. I run up the stairs of the CTA platform only to barely miss the train heading south. I place my headphones in my ears and press play on whatever Spotify playlist I have a hankering for that morning. I crack open my book and read a few chapters before the train gets really crowded, but no one notices. I am just another passer-by.