Campus

How to Stay on Top of School (Without a Mental Breakdown)

When it comes to school, I have precisely two modes. Either I am living my life as if I have never before attended school, as though for all intents and purposes I am the human equivalent of a tumbleweed, drifting through life with no burdens or responsibilities; or I am a sleepless zombie editing the same sentence of a paper that isn’t due for three days until the sun rises. There is absolutely no in between.

Since high school, I have dedicated all of my energy to making sure that I do not revert into Anthropomorphic Tumbleweed Mode, which means it’s been all school obsession all the time. In the hopes of preventing a mental breakdown or two, I’ve been trying to chill out a bit. Here are some of the ways to maintain that balance.

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Art

Soundtracks Make the Best Playlists

I am terrible at making playlists. I have weird (or nonexistent) taste in music, so it’s useless to craft anything more specific than the seven-hour “songs I like” playlist that is practically the only thing in my Spotify. Also, it’s boring to me to sort songs, which is why my sole playlist still contains songs I liked in 2015. And why I spend more time skipping songs than listening to them. Luckily, there is no need for me to force myself to be better at the fine art of playlist-making, because movie soundtracks exist.

Movie soundtracks make for a better-curated, more aesthetic-y, overall more fulfilling and inventive music listening experience than any playlist you could make yourself. To prove this point, I have collected here some of my absolute favorite movie soundtracks. Click the album art for a link to the music!

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City

Grocery Stores in Boston: Ranked

Grocery shopping is one of the worst activities in the world, and I am incredibly bad at it. I always put it off until the last possible minute, until my food stores are down to four baby carrots and a handful of animal crackers. I always end up shopping when I’m hungry, which is a baseline no-no. And I always get unbelievably bored while I’m doing it, ending up tossing things in my basket to speed up the process until my receipt looks like someone set an eleven-year-old loose in the cookie aisle.

In my endeavors to make this errand more tolerable, I have come up with a rubric for grocery store perfection. Here are six grocery stores in the Boston area, judged for price, location, snack selection, and overall vibe – on a scale where one is bad and five is utopian.

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Art

The Roommate Movie Watch List

IMG_4229.jpgMy roommates and I are very different. We’re from different parts of the country; we have different majors; we’re different ages; we probably have different favorite colors and stuff. I’ll do a mini survey on that last one and get back to you.

The main things the three of us have in common are that we like movies, and we like each other. These may be so basic that they sound like what a sixth grader in beginner’s French would say in an oral exam: My name is Jacques. I like to watch movies and be with my friends. But still – they get the job done.

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Art

The Best Books of 2017

We’ve reached that time of year again. Tis the season of apocalyptic cold, delicious hot beverages, and songs that are only played for one month out of the year. But most importantly, it’s time for yearly wrap ups. There are approximately one billion book awards. It is genuinely impossible to keep track of them all.

So for anyone who makes it their business to read all of the variously-determined best books of the year, I’ve made a compilation of the big winners. This list includes the prestigious (the National Book Award; the Pulitzer Prize), the popular (the Goodreads Choice Awards), and those that are a mix of the two (the John Newbery medal; the New York Times best books).

Find the twelve best fiction, nonfiction, young adult/children’s, and poetry books of the year below.

FICTION

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

2017 National Book Award Winner for Fiction and the New York Times; Top 10 Best Books of the Year

Jesmyn Ward wrote a book in 2013 and it won the National Book Award. Then she took a quick four-year breather, wrote a book this year, and won the National Book Award again. She is the most talented and successful person in the world, probably. Sing, Unburied, Sing is the story of a Southern family, as well as the stories of race, America, struggle, and hope.

 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

The Pulitzer prizewinners are announced in April, so unless you spent the spring living under a rock you have probably heard of this one. The Underground Railroad follows the escape of two slaves in an altered history in which the underground railroad is a literal railroad underground. It explores questions relating to race, history, and oppression.

 

 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction

If I’ve learned one thing from compiling this list, it’s that people love stories about families. This book follows a few of them, as one couple’s attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby divides an entire community. Lots of gossip and drama and secrets in this one.

 

NONFICTION

The Future is History by Masha Gessen

2017 National Book Award Winner for Nonfiction

It is suuuuper not surprising that this book would be an awards darling this year. Written by Vladimir Putin’s biographer, The Future is History follows Russia’s descent into autocracy as told through the lives of four people with great aspirations and great expectations upon them. It’s a cautionary tale, in other words, and people a) are freaked and b) love it. As if 2017 weren’t Russia-centric enough.

 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction

This guy’s a sociologist at Harvard and a MacArthur Genius grant recipient, so, uh. Reliable source. Desmond follows eight families in the poorest parts of Milwaukee and discovers the role that eviction, and the high housing costs that cause it, plays in modern American poverty.

 

How to be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lily Singh

Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Nonfiction

Hard to believe this is even in the same realm of existence as the prior two, but yes. They are the same genre. Written by YouTube star Lilly Singh (username ||Superwoman|| – do not forget the very important vertical lines), How to be a Bawse is a self-help book that promises to help you become just as confident/goal-reaching/smiley as Lilly herself. In other words, a bawse. So go get those millions of YouTube subscribers – they’re yours by right.

 

YOUNG ADULT/CHILDREN’S

Far from the Tree by Robin Benway

2017 National Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature

Benway’s newest is a young adult contemporary following three biological siblings adopted into different families. As one puts her own baby up for adoption, she decides to track down her biological brother and sister, launching all three into questions of what family really means.

 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Winner of the John Newbery Medal for most distinguished children’s book

Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a children’s fairytale about Luna, who was accidentally fed moonlight by a witch when she was a baby, thus granting her magical powers. As she approaches her thirteenth birthday, the powers begin to emerge, and Luna must learn to use her new skills, and to protect those around her. (So it’s a coming of age thing except with magic.)

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction

Now, we must all say a silent prayer to whatever higher power we may believe in/the Internet/those who cast a vote/the entire literary industry that this book won. Instead of John Green. That man’s life is full enough and I am grateful this award went to a book that MEANS SOMETHING. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, The Hate U Give follows Starr, a sixteen-year-old black private school student who witnesses the death of her unarmed friend at the hands of a police officer.

 

POETRY

Half-Light by Frank Bidart

2017 National Book Award Winner for Poetry

Half-Light is a collection of all of Frank Bidart’s poetry, written over the course of four decades. As a poet, Bidart focuses on the human voice in all its diversity, allowing even the most terrible the same empathetic understanding. Bidart concludes the collection with a new volume, one filled with ruminations on his own life.

 

Olio by Tyehimba Jess

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Tyehimba Jess’s Olio weaves fact and fiction to detail the lives of African American performers from the Civil War up to World War I. The result is a look at the struggles of black artists to resist minstrelization, and the resilience it took to keep going.

 

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Poetry

Unsurprisingly, the mega-popular poet won the most popularity-oriented award. Rupi Kaur is likely the most known writer within the genre known as “instapoetry” or, more colloquially, “Tumblr poetry.” Her second volume, The Sun and Her Flowers, focuses on themes of growth, ancestry, and home.

For more information:

The Goodreads Choice Awards

The New York Times Top 10 Books of 2017

The 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners

The John Newbery Medal

The National Book Award

Globe

National Holidays: The Definitive Ranking

It’s November, and you know what that means. The yearly smackdown has arrived. Once more, the weirdly passionate section of the American people has been screaming on the Internet about the respective merits of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

When the clock strikes midnight on October 31, some instantly hit play for the first time out of hundreds on Mariah Carey’s seminal hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Others, meanwhile, plead for some well-deserved attention to be directed to Thanksgiving, apparently completely ignorant to the fact that there are exactly zero Thanksgiving-themed Mariah Carey songs. Some people are still talking about Halloween, because people who love Halloween never stop talking about Halloween, but that’s not even a national holiday so it’s completely out of the picture anyway.

There’s only way to solve this issue. And that’s a definitive ranking of every national holiday on the American roster, from worst to best. (It’s a surprising lineup.)

 

Columbus Day – Second Monday in October

Nope x infinity. Nooooooo thank you. Goodbye Christopher. Indigenous People’s Day or bust.

 

Labor Day – First Monday in September

Labor Day will never escape its well-deserved bad rep. It was drilled into every child in (most parts of) America for twelve years: Labor Day is the last day of summer break. Labor Day is for moping, waiting in long lines in Office Depot, and the return of that good ol’ it’s-Sunday-night-at-seven-pm-I-wasted-the-weekend-I-have-a-whole-week-ahead-of-me anxiety.

 

Inauguration Day – January 20 (every 4 years)

Every four years is BS for a holiday, and also nobody gets off from school or work for this, except perhaps some people who work in certain sectors of Washington, D.C. Also an inauguration can be reaaaaaaal hit or miss. To say the least.

 

George Washington’s Birthday – Third Monday in February

There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to old GW’s b-day. First, this is the only guy with a birthday marked with a NATIONAL DAY, which is a baller move. But what is really hilarious is that this isn’t actually on his birthday, but the third Monday in February?? Whose idea was that? What purpose does this serve? I have no answers, but this made me giggle and that means it’s getting a boost in the rankings even though it offers absolutely no festivities.

 

New Year’s Day – January 1

Who cares about New Year’s Day? Do people even do anything? New Year’s Eve is where it’s at and we all know it. I guess it’s nice to have the day off for recovery from the night preceding, but that’s not enough to rescue this day from its total boring-ness.

 

Memorial Day – Last Monday in May

Memorial Day is cool because it’s summery. Barbecues and stuff. Also, I guess you can start wearing white again? If you follow societal rules like that and stopped? Not really too sure if that’s an actual thing that people do.

 

Veterans Day – November 11

Always good to pay respect to our veterans and also get a day off from school in mid-November.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Third Monday in January

MLK Day was always really awesome in elementary and middle school. In elementary school the second grade always put on a play (it was two-for-one for MLK Day and the approach of Black History Month) so we got out of class for an assembly. In middle school we watched My Friend Martin a bunch of times. Anyway this day is very important and it’s pretty rad and extremely deserved that it’s a national holiday.

 

Independence Day – July 4

Summertime! Fireworks! Barbecues! Those popsicles where the top bit is cherry and the middle is lemon and the bottom is blue raspberry! Fourth of July is great and involves a lot of red and blue food dyes which is always extremely fun.

 

Thanksgiving Day – Fourth Thursday in November

Yes, this is the moment you have been waiting for. Thanksgiving only lands second place. It’s made it even to second place only for the following reasons: everyone celebrates it; the arts and crafts potential is magnificent; we usually get several days off for it; some of the food is good. (Yes, only some. Turkey is nobody’s favorite poultry and many of the combinations placed on the feasting table are full on embarrassing. Sweet potatoes and marshmallows?? Green beans and cream-based soups??? Maybe I just hate casseroles.)

 

Christmas Day – December 25

I am a huge fan of festivities. That is why this list is essentially ranked based on amount of festivities granted to each day. Christmas is, bare minimum, a month-long holiday. There are entire genres of songs and movies dedicated to it. Every self-respecting season of television has a holiday episode. There are one million recipes that are Christmas-exclusive. Also I love cookies and there is no more cookie-centric holiday in the world.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Or, “National Day of ____” things that I believe should be actual holidays

International Ninja Day (December 5)

National Lumpy Rug Day (May 3)

National Just Because Day (August 27)

National Everything You Do Is Right Day (March 16)

 

Art

Some Classics To Add To Your Beach Read List

Every summer, Barnes & Nobles crowds the shelves closest to the doors with piles of “beach reads.’” I don’t know about the rest of you, but I got tired of reading a bunch of different books with the same generic plot lines and characters. A few years ago, I swore off “beach reads” and decided to turn back to the classics ‒ and I think that others should try to do the same. If you have an interest, here’s a list of some literary classics that I recommend everyone read this summer:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This was the first book I chose when I embarked on my journey to rediscover the classics. It’s one of those books that, once you read it, you fully understand why it came to be so famous. A quintessential, albeit dated, coming of age novel, Pride and Prejudice is surprisingly relevant, funny, and self-aware (even in 2017).

1984 by George Orwell

We’ve all seen the headlines about the ‘sudden’ spark in popularity of Orwell’s classic dystopian fiction, 1984. But have we all actually read the book? Not all high schools require this book in the curriculum (mine didn’t,) and some even ban it (it’s consistently one of the top 10 most banned books in America). But it is an understatement to say this book is a necessary read‒by the time you’re halfway through, everything you think you know about government has flipped on its head in a thrilling, but terrifying way. And that may just be what we need right about now.

Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Technically not an autobiography, Tender Is The Night is Fitzgerald’s unofficial account of his life with Zelda. Closely mirroring their relationship, it helps the reader understand what went with one of the greatest American romances behind closed doors. It’s packed with Fitzgerald’s beautiful prose, love, luxury, tragedy and so much more. What else could you want to read about this summer?

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Something you need to know going into this book is that, at many points, it will be difficult to make sense of what is going on. But that is the genius of Woolf’s prose. In Mrs. Dalloway, what seems frivolous suddenly becomes serious (and vice versa).  Written in a stream of consciousness style, Mrs. Dalloway lets you get into the heads of all of the characters and understand them on an emotional and intellectual level. She subverts literary traditions about narration through this technique, solidifying this book’s role in changing storytelling forever.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I would be lying to you if I didn’t mention that this book is definitely on the longer side. It actually took me the majority of a summer to read the first time, but it was totally worth it. Forget Of Mice and Men‒this book is Steinbeck’s literary masterpiece (and my favorite book of all time). Combining multiple generations of a family into one story, by the end you’re left wishing that you had more time left with the characters.