As students, we have all taken classes that have contributed to our understanding of the world at varying levels. Some have been … Keep Reading
Note: Your friendly neighborhood editor here, just offering a warning. This story may get a bit intense. As this is the inaugural story, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer my warning. Otherwise, enjoy.
A story, a short story about what’s real and what’s perceived. About the world around us and what it contains. About a clock that reads 1:59 AM. Nothing true, nothing false, just a story about a boy and his dog. Or should I say, a child and their pet, or maybe it’s two animals, each affecting each other’s lives in an eternal quest to stay relevant in an ever changing world; changing from eyes closing, warm under the quilt, lying in the dark to standing in broad daylight, ball in hand and a smile on his face. Who’s to say what it is that the boy thinks about the tennis ball that is thrown across the yard, or maybe it’s the dog who’s wondering? It’s hard to tell in these uncertain times, what is real and what is imagined. As the boy ponders this, the dog gets up onto its hind legs and calls out to his pet boy, who comes bounding over on all fours. The boy sits on his rump, satisfied to have been acknowledged by the much older and wiser dog.
The boy called bow, whose human name was unpronounceable in the dog’s language, stared at the sky instead of the green and white ball that was being thrown once again by his master. The boy was distracted instead by the shifting and twisting skies, where the boy, no longer named bow, now found himself. The boy, uncertain of what he was doing, looked around and walked through a large marble archway. Inside the newly found room was a fountain whose water flowed upwards towards the ceiling. On the center of the water spout was a woman, or is it a girl, who was beckoning to the boy formerly known as bow, daring him to come closer. DARING him to move from the spot which he occupied. And the boy, or is it a man, attempted to walk but found himself frozen in place.
Unable to speak. Unable to move except in the slowest of motions, as if trapped in a vat of molasses. Moving his eyes side to side, the child became aware that he was back on his yard and sitting next to him was bow, his trusty giraffe. The child contemplated what used to be in front of him before turning, no longer frozen, to his trusty lion, ruffling his mane. The lion roared in happiness in response while the sky flashed a brilliant green and the boy’s house twisted and turned into shapes that were unknown to the girl, even though she had seen them many times before as her pet lion tramped throughout it. The girl, formerly of a male persuasion, slipped between the cracks of the sidewalk in order to listen to her parents’ conversation in the kitchen. This woman turned around to discover the labyrinthine corridors and hundreds of door that always comprised his house. Wasn’t it always this way in the house? He began to think that something might be off but he soon found that it was merely the hunger that ate at his stomach.
The boy realized that neither he nor his dog had eaten since twelve that morning and it was steadily approaching midnight, although his time in the yard made him think it was merely 1 pm again. Grabbing a box of Chex Mix from the cabinet in his bedroom, the boy climbs beneath the sheets and begins to hand out his food to the neighbors, door to door, and with one step, he is on the gallows, where eyes are boring holes into his sinful mind.
The noose tightens around his neck as time slows down. Why do they hate me, he thinks as his head clears for the first time in what seemed like eternity. The world around him begins to get fuzzy and distanced as the boy sees the distorted faces of those he called friends, all jeering in the crowd, all pointing and saying the same thing.
He can’t quite make out what their lips are saying.
The crowd’s lips melt and merge, the static leaving their throats turning into a vacuum of silence before one sentence resonates within it….you are worthless. Everything snaps back into focus, crystal clear, 4k. They call him false and horrible. They tear at his body with words, each comment making the noose tighten and the boy cry harder. He is unable to scream for help or reason, his voice is empty. The friends and family of the boy stop and stare. They say one final sentence and the boy’s tears run down his face in a never-ending stream. He wants to implore them, to tell them that he is good, that he didn’t mean to make them hate him but they cannot listen for he cannot speak. The crowd merely repeats their sentence, each word cutting a lash into the boy’s arms and finishing the noose. The boy submits, crying, in pain, dead to all but himself; before giving in to even that as he falls from the sky. Falling, falling, falling forever, watching the ground approach and crying. For he knows that when the ground arrives to meet him his troubles are over and the pain will stop. Others will stop hurting because of him, his pain will subside because the others say it will. Closer and closer he sees it, the ground and his dog.
WOOF! The boy’s head is covered in a cold sweat, the clock on the stand says 2:01 AM. He turns over, looking across his small room littered in toys, to his dog and smiles a tearful smile.
Your friendly neighborhood editor returns, true believers. In subsequent issues, this section will (hopefully) be filled with stories from all of you. You may choose to submit anonymously but please let us know in advance. Also, while you may go over 100 words, please try to keep the word count close.
I’ve always been a surprisingly clumsy person. You might not figure that from my ability to weave in and out of crowds but it’s true. One time, this must’ve been back in 2nd grade because it was before the divorce, I was playing on the slide at my school, all set to go down. I looked over the side to see if anyone was at the bottom, and then moments later, found myself face first on the ground, my hair and mouth filled with wood chips, the indent in my chest aching deeply (for years I thought that it was from the fall). Thankfully, aside from a soreness that went away in a couple hours, I was fine.
“I’ve been [at Goucher] for 23 years and I think for 19 years that I’ve been here, the campus has been under construction,” Director of Athletics Geoffrey Miller said, remarking on his time at Goucher. One of Goucher’s most substantial reconstructions has not been residence halls or academic buildings, but of the Athletic Department.
Recent dramatic changes, like a new logo and the introduction of Rowdy, have become talking points on campus and online. Travis Holland ’02, wrote on the Goucher Athletics Facebook page, “I’ll never love Rowdy as much as I did for Mortimer…,” while current students shared similar discontent on Facebook. Miller understands the criticism and meets change with optimism. In October, he referred to the change as “turning the page on a new chapter” and “I knew it was going to be different… It’s been 20 years… I knew it was time to get a fresh look.” In April 2017, he remarked, “I like change. I don’t want to stay the same.”
In fact, Miller says that he joined Goucher from Washington College, back in 1994, because “that [Washington College] was an institution that was okay with the status quo. It wasn’t receptive to change… This institution [Goucher] wanted to be better. This institution is like a rising star.”
“It’s easy for people to get caught up in the visible, tangible changes – [that can be a new] logo, a new athletic deal, stuff like that – because it’s in front of everybody… It’s easy to react to those things, but [people often] don’t understand a lot of times the little things that go on behind the scenes of those things that are really and truly impacting things. Big changes are easy to see and people always have a reaction to them, but it’s the little things that are the most impactful,” says Assistant Athletic Director and Head men’s soccer coach, Bryan Laut.
One of the small changes within the Athletic Deparment Laut recognizes are the increased impact coaches have on students and student-athletes alike. “I think the best thing we ever did [in my 23-year career at Goucher,] is create the Graduate Assistant (GA) position for teams,” Miller reflects. The GA’s act as assistant coaches for the team and provide an opportunity for the head coach to focus on bigger picture things, like recruiting, game strategy, and player management.
One of the important tasks of being a Division III athletic coach, specifically at Goucher, is acting as a role model. One of the ways Laut demonstrates his compassionate commitment to his players is through frequent meetings with every member of the team to assess how their particular semester is going on and off the field. “You have to create a positive environment, as a coach, in that team and in that game setting so people are feeling… a part of that collected enterprise… [feeling] good… on the same page… respected… and challenged,” say Miller.
Additionally, the Athletic Department
has been attempting to reach out to non-athletes on campus. This has involved partnerships by offering food at games, giving away free t-shirts, and even a television at a Men’s Basketball game in December. Student outreach has been challenging for the Department: “It takes time to shift culture and that’s what we’re trying to do… You have to give it some time. It’s a difficult thing to do. It’s challenging,” bemoans Miller.
He concedes that a part of his trouble is understanding how a younger generation functions. To help Miller and his administration, Goucher hired Brandon Harrison to be the Director of Athletic Communications in December. With the help of Nathaniel Cain, class of 2016, and his collaboration with current Goucher students, Harrison created the Goucher Sports Network. Harrison expects the Network to upload a series of highlights from games, promotion of upcoming games, and eventually he wants to do a weekly sports show. “We just want to show that the Athletics program is something that we’re proud of,” summarizes Harrison.
Miller is a perfectionist when it comes to the appearance and behavior of Goucher sports. He knows how easy people make judgements based on first-impressions and often student-athletes need their coaches to enforce good behavior. “I think the coaches have a tremendous responsibility… we [the entire Athletic Department] are held accountable for [the student-athletes’] reputation.”
For better or for worse, student-athletes have a precarious reputation on campus. Because the school provides a connection to the school and an established group of friends from teammates, certain student-athletes experience a separation from the larger Goucher community. “I think we [student-athletes] are our own worst enemy… we glom together as athletes… and are all wearing our gear and… might even be loud, might even be boisterous… that’s intimidating to some people… We act in ways that marginalizes people,” reflects Miller.
He is optimistic for the future reputation of student-athletes. “It requires some effort on the part of students and the Department to break down some of those [issues of student-athlete alienation] … we can hit that sweet spot of what [a better relationship between students and student-athletes] looks like.” In order to have a closer Goucher community – a true gopher whole – student-athletes and the Department must continue to reach out to other members on campus.
“The foundation blocks, the principles of [who Goucher is] are not changing. The physical spaces may change. The mascot might change… but we still expect our students to be the best possible people, students, and teammates they can be,” Miller adds.
I started listening to podcasts my senior year of high school, partially because I started driving to school, but also because an English teacher insisted I listen to Serial. Immediately, I was hooked. When I heard that This American Life (another great podcast) and Serial were bringing S-Town to the public, I knew it was going to be my next favorite podcast.
Narrated by Brian Reed, S-Town follows the story of an antique clockmaker named John B. McLemore who lives in Woodstock, Alabama (which McLemore dubs Shittown, Alabama). When McLemore emailed This American Life about a potential murder cover up he believed existed in Shittown, Reed took on the case, only to find that the dead body he was looking for was not the one he anticipated. The show explores what it means to be an outsider in the already isolated small towns of the South, both due to external and internal factors. Mental illness, suicide, sexuality, and clock making have the largest presence on the podcast. Oh, and one chapter solely focuses on a treasure hunt.
Although the podcast is certainly non-fiction, it feels like a well-crafted story. Certain aspects of the story that resurface throughout the podcast— like mental illness, time, and Shittown itself— help to form the feel of a real narrative as opposed to an objective report. These themes also work together to paint a vivid picture of John B. McLemore and wrap the reader up in what it means to have known him. Occasionally, Reed will go into explanations about the various ways one can fix a clock, similar to author describing a setting or bringing attention to a symbol that will reappear in the future. These asides, though initially a bit jarring, work to show the beauty of clock-making in the way that John B. McLemore might have seen it and connects the listener to him by sharing one of his few key passions.
Although the narrative was incredibly engaging and well-crafted, there were many times during S-Town where I had to stop the podcast. It wasn’t the fault of the podcast; it dealt very well with the sensitive material they had. S-Town hit remarkably close to home for me, as I saw a friend of mine in John’s story. While I cannot speak directly about the representation throughout the narrative, I recognized so many aspects of Reed’s story, and the stories of John’s friends, to be one that I have seen myself.
The reason S-Town succeeds as a show is not the same reason that Serial succeeded. Serial’s previous success was due to the meticulous analyzing of each piece of evidence and the lack of acceptance for one specific answer as the truth. S-Town certainly builds off of a similar model, but it explores the bonds that we create with one another and how suicide in particular affects those bonds. S-Town has the emotion, the humanity, and the evasiveness of a narrative that Serial can’t capture in quite the same way. That doesn’t necessarily make S-Town the better podcast; the narrative quality instead increases the emotional impact that it has on a listener because it allows for a stronger focus on emotion as a whole.
If you’re looking for a new podcast, something to listen to on the go, or just a good excuse to cry, look no further than S-Town. I just listened to it through a podcast app, but they have an absolutely beautiful website where you can listen to all of the episodes (stownpodcast.com).
In August 2017, Disney announced that it would be pulling all of it’s content off of Netflix and launching it’s own streaming platform in 2019. Netflix secured the licenses to stream Disney’s content in 2012, but Disney’s content has only been available on Netflix since September of 2016, meaning that Netflix will not get to see much of the rewards from this deal. The Verge reports Netflix will be able stream Disney’s content until 2019, meaning they will have access to the next two Star Wars films and other new content that Disney comes out with in the next year.
In addition to a streaming service for their movies and short films, Disney is developing a sports streaming service. Disney has acquired the majority shares of the company BAMTech, an internet video provider developed by Major League Baseball for online streaming and content. Disney will help expand BAMTech and partner with ESPN to launch an online sports streaming service. The infrastructure of the sports streaming service will provide the model for the streaming of Disney’s other content. In Disney’s official announcement, CEO Robert A. Iger stated, “The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers…This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the company, one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands.” Disney plans to launch the sequel to Frozen and Toy Story 4 on this new service, along with other original movies and shows.
Although losing the rights to stream Disney’s content will certainly be a blow to Netflix, and add another competitor to a market Netflix previously had a monopoly on, Netflix has proven its ability to successfully reinvent itself in the past few years. Despite losing approximately 50% of it’s library since 2012, Netflix still proved successful. Previously, Netflix had been the largest streaming service after it transitioned from being mainly a service which mailed DVDs. However, since 2012 they have been producing incredibly successful original content. Producing more in-house content means that Netflix doesn’t have to negotiate licensing and streaming deals that could fall through, such as their deal with Disney.
Netflix’s original shows such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Sense8 have captivated audiences and received much critical praise. Following Netflix’s success at creating original content, other streaming services have branched into creating original content as well. This past year, Hulu released The Handmaid’s Tale to intense critical acclaim, and Amazon has produced Transparent which has remained consistently praised. Viewers and critics alike have come to see content from streaming services as having similar or better quality than network equivalents. The 2017 Emmy nominees for best drama reflect this, with four out of the seven being original content from streaming services. In fact, almost every category had a nominee that was original content from a streaming service.
Disney’s announcement just marks another step in an already present trend. Audiences are highly receptive to streaming services, and brands have noticed. Companies are realizing that streaming services are not just a fad, and original content released on them has been wildly successful. In the next few years, we can most likely expect to see an increase in streaming services, with more companies creating their own platforms. Similar to paying more for a larger cable package with more channels, audiences may need to expect to pay for multiple online providers, since streaming services have now become networks in their own right.
In a Heartbeat, a short animated film about a crush between two middle school boys, is four minutes and five seconds of audio-visual delight, complete with adorable animation and relatable representation. The film was created for a senior thesis by Beth David and Esteban Bravo, who recently graduated from Ringling College.
In a Heartbeat tells the story of a closeted boy, Sherman, who tries to keep his heart from outing him at school as it chases after his crush, Jonathon. A greater appreciation for all of the thought put into the film can be found by looking at the details, such as the contrast between light and dark in the animation or Jonathon reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. The music complements the tone of the animation style remarkably well, as the high melody that continues throughout the piece matches the beat of Sherman’s heart. The film is made stronger from its lack of dialogue, as the emotions and relationship of these two characters are highlighted simply through the sharp animated movements and accompanying music.
The film gained a following about seven months before its release when David and Bravo started a Kickstarter campaign asking for $3,000 to hire a composer and sound designer for the film. Within one month (from November 15, 2016-December 15, 2016), they raised $14,191. On July 31st, they posted their end product to YouTube, complete with adorable animation and a gorgeous score, composed by Arturo Cardelús, to go with it. When The New York Times reported on the short film four days later, it had already surpassed 14 million views.
Part of the reason this film gained so much attention, especially from the LGBTQ+ community, is because it gives quality representation for young people within the community. It’s not that there isn’t any media targeted at young adults, middle schoolers, or children that also has LGBTQ+ representation. Some animated shows, like Steven Universe, and books, like much of Rick Riordan’s recent work, have wonderful representation. However, it’s certainly not the norm, and it can be difficult to find media with any LGBTQ+ representation, let alone quality representation. In a Heartbeat provides that representation and adds to it the universal feeling of having a first crush.
Additionally, the short film normalizes the idea of kids being gay. Straight tendencies are often seen as cute and adorable in kids— think about the idea of kindergarten boyfriends and girlfriends or parents joking about how their two month old boy is going to be a womanizer. While the general attitude towards homosexuality has progressed in the past few years, there are plenty of people who still believe gay relationships are an unacceptable conversation topic for children, as well as refusing to allow them to question their own sexual orientations. This story is not revolutionary in and of itself, but it allows for young gay kids to see themselves in a form of media when the majority of the media made for them focuses on straight relationships.
In a Heartbeat, whether or not you care about the representation aspect, is a cute short film with a good score to match, and it is sure to make your own heart flutter. It’s just a sweet film about two boys with crushes. What could be more adorable than that?
Natasha and her family will be deported by the end of the day, unless Natasha succeeds in her final efforts to delay their return to Jamaica. On the same day, Daniel reluctantly makes his way to his interview with a Yale alumn to satisfy his Korean parents. In a serendipitous twist of fate, their paths cross, and in Daniel’s desire to live one day on his own terms instead of his parents’, he convinces Natasha to participate in a science experiment, hypothesis: When two people share their answers to a certain set of questions with one another, they will fall in love.
The novel takes place over the course of a single day, and is narrated by Natasha, Daniel, and the universe, which shares the perspectives of those that the untimely duo come into contact with throughout their day together—people whose lives shift in unpredictable ways after crossing paths with the protagonists. It’s a simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking story about love and fate, and also about racism and identity.
What about this book made it a Finalist for the 2016 National Book Award, 2017 Coretta Scott King New Talent Award Winner, and one of the top ten best books of 2016 according to Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Entertainment Weekly, and a variety of other publications? Its inspiring characters and innovative form.
The protagonists are dynamic, smart, and incredible role models of diverse identities. Natasha is a strong Jamaican teenager interested in math and science. Daniel is a sensitive Korean-American with dreams of writing poetry for a living. And these characteristics are not just on the surface-level. They’re essential aspects of the characters’ values that inform their decisions, making their identities crucial aspects of the plot and their developing relationship.
The form develops the theme of how one’s actions cause a ripple effect that alters the paths of even those who are many degrees removed from the individual. The alternating perspectives also allow internal access into both protagonists and a variety of characters that would otherwise appear as inconsequential to the plot. Doing so allows the reader to interpret many of the scenes with a variety of perceptions.
The form would’ve been even more effective if the chapters narrated by the universe were always in the same point of view. Even some that are from the perspective of the same character—such as all the chapters from the POV of Daniel’s Dad—alternate between first and third person. Being consistent would better develop the secondary characters whose voices are heard in such chapters, although I was still in love with the novel without this consistency.
While a film adaptation of The Sun Is Also A Star is in the script writing stages, the film adaptation of Yoon’s first novel, Everything, Everything (which is also told with an effective unconventional form from the perspective of a protagonist of color), will be released on May 19th.
The multifaceted nature of the novel makes it appealing to scientists and poets and everyone in between. YA and romance readers will enjoy the unconventional way Yoon tells the young love story, while the larger theme of fate versus free-will will leave philosophers and dreamers pondering beyond the pages of the novel. If you haven’t started to read it yet, you are truly missing out on a wonderfully written, touching story!
Warner Bros. and Hasbro are getting ready for a legal showdown over the merchandising rights of toys that are named “Bumblebee.” Back on August 28th, Hasbro filed a lawsuit accusing DC Comics and Warner Bros. of trademark infringement for their use of the name “Bumblebee” for the toys of the DC Superhero Girls character, Bumblebee, and the potential confusion that could arise due to her sharing the name with the Transformers’ Bumblebee. One is an African-American teen superhero who, dressed as a bumblebee, is a tech genius, has the ability to shrink and has super strength, while the other is a sentient alien-robot that can transform into a bright yellow sports car.
While it may seem silly to argue that people could get these two confused, it’s more complicated than it seems. Quick backstory: the DC Comics character, Bumblebee, was created back in 1977 in the pages of Teen Titans (although she didn’t get the hero name until a couple years later) while the Transformers’ Bumblebee didn’t show up until 1984.
Seems simple, right? It should be, but then comes 2015. In April 2015, DC announced a female-focused line of comics and TV shows aimed at young girls called DC Superhero Girls. Then, in July of 2015, Hasbro filed for a trademark on the name “Bumblebee” in relation to “toy action figures, toy vehicles and toy robots convertible into other visual toy forms,” according to the trademark. It is officially registered in December of 2015.
Back to DC, they launched the Superhero Girls TV show in October of 2015 and since then has spun them off into a variety of toys, comics, dolls, and even Legos. It’s an interesting situation to say the least, since Hasbro does have the trademark on all toy action figures that contain the word “Bumblebee,” of which the DC Bumblebee toys, produced by Mattel, are a form of.
Part of the suit, as published in Variety, states, “defendants’ and/or their licensees’ use of the Accused Mark is likely to cause consumers mistakenly to believe that the Accused Goods emanate from or are otherwise associated with Hasbro. Such improper use of the Accused Mark by Defendants and/or their licensees is likely to cause confusion, mistake and/or deception among the public as to the source of the Accused.”
In easier to understand language, Hasbro is alleging that their Bumblebee is significantly more popular than the DC Comics character and that, as such, any toys featuring her with the name Bumblebee, would cause confusion to the general public. To prove this, according to the same Variety article, Hasbro is using an IGN listicle of “The Top 25 Transformers,” of which Bumblebee is #4.
It is obvious that Hasbro wants to prevent DC from selling toys with Bumblebee on it, possibly because of the upcoming Bumblebee standalone movie, which is set to release in 2018, but what is less obvious is why they filed the trademark when they did. There was plenty of time for Hasbro to file a trademark for their fourth favorite transformer if, as Hasbro alleges, they have been selling Bumblebee toys since 1983. It was only after the announcement of DC Superhero Girls and popular reaction to it that they filed for a trademark.
Was it just an obstructionist move or was it truly in anticipation of their movie? Only time, and the court case, will tell.
On any given day at Goucher, students will walk down Van Meter and encounter dogs and other pets. However, students walking near Sondheim on a warm, sunny day may also see one of Goucher’s resident rabbits, Rascal. Owned by Mikaela Smith, Rascal is an eight-year-old Dutch Giant rabbit. Dutch giants are one of the largest rabbit breeds, and are easily recognizable by their distinct, often black-and-white, fur markings. Mikaela has had Rascal since he was ten weeks old and got him from a bunny farm in Missouri. This will be his third semester at Goucher as Mikaela’s emotional support animal.
Many students have emotional support animals that they bring to campus. There are a wide variety of them, including cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets, and reptiles. Some animals don’t acclimate well to campus life, but Rascal seems to be having no problems.
“He’s very adaptable,” Mikaela says, “and has never really caused a fuss. He binkied yesterday (September 4th) in my room.”
Rabbits binky when they are especially happy. When a rabbit binkies, they jump into the air and twist their body and head in different directions before falling back to the ground. A binkying rabbit is a happy, relaxed, content rabbit. In addition, rabbits also flop to signal that they trust you. Flops are when a rabbit throws itself on its side. When a rabbit flops, it can be surprising to people who aren’t often around rabbits.
“When I first saw my rabbit flop, for a second I thought he had had a heart attack and died,” says Paige Harris, owner of Poe the bunny, another well-known rabbit at Goucher.
Having an emotional support animal is important to many students on campus to keep them calm and help them focus on work. “I had trouble with papers during my first year first semester here. I definitely noticed an improvement once I got him here,” Mikaela says.
Another student, who prefers not to be named, has said much the same: “I don’t know what I’d do without my pet here. She helps me calm down when I get too stressed, and taking care of her reminds me that I have to take care of myself. I’ve gotta be here for her, y’know?
And while there are many communities at Goucher, one of the newest ones caters specifically to bunnies: the Goucher Bunny Community. It recently debuted at the Involvement Fair, with Mikaela at the helm, though it’s been active for at least a semester. She is one of the founders of the community, along with Paige Harris. The Bunny Community also has a Facebook page (@goucherbunny), filled with pictures of Rascal, funny rabbit drawings, and notifications for when events take place. Most events are bunny get-togethers, where rabbits and owners alike can socialize. Even if you don’t have a rabbit, you’re welcome to come to an event to spend time with the rabbits and learn more about them.
“Rabbits are generally social creatures,” says Paige. “They live in warrens in the wild, and can form bonds. When they form bonds, it’s like they’ve found their best friend and never want to be separated.”
Just like with us, many of Goucher’s resident pets aren’t fond of the construction.
“Rascal’s mostly okay with it, he just doesn’t like the noise,” Mikaela says.
However, it’s not the construction that can cause the most stress to Goucher’s pets. It’s the fire alarms. Last week, most of the residential houses began their annual fire alarm drill. Many were glad it wasn’t happening at three in the morning like it had in the past, but the change in time doesn’t mean less stress for the animals.
Waiting in the residential quad for the alarm to stop going off, I witnessed someone run past a safety officer and into Sondheim. When they returned, they had Rascal in their arms, his ears high and alert.
“I couldn’t just leave him,” they said. “When I got in he was freaking out and banging his head against his cage. He hates these things.” They walked away, taking him to a quieter part of the quad so that he could calm down and hopefully munch on some grass.
Rascal is fine now and enjoying some of his favorite activities: eating lettuce, running around, and nibbling on Mikaela’s things.
In my personal form of teenage rebellion (or more likely, an attempt to sneakily lower my caloric consumption) I refused to eat red meat sometimes in high school. It had never really been a regular part of my diet before then, but I had never labeled it as off limits either. I think along the way I convinced myself that it was because of health reasons, that the protein it provided wasn’t worth the other “unhealthy” characteristics. After a few months I even used the excuse that my body would no longer be able to process it and eating it would make me sick. But again, it was honestly just an excuse to be able to say “I don’t eat that,” something to make me feel that I was able to flat out refuse to eat some foods on principle.
There are many ways to have dysfunctional relationships with food, and I’ll admit, I’ve dabbled in most of them. But regardless of the reason, I didn’t eat red meat for years. For the most part, it really wasn’t an issue. Over time my father, a former meat cutter (bless his very patient heart), even offered to buy ground turkey when making meat sauce or turkey sausage when making kielbasa dishes. The restaurant where I work has a thing for bacon (I think most chefs and restaurants do, to be fair), which meant a lot of times I would politely decline trying dishes. But several of my coworkers were vegetarians, so no one ever made a big deal about it.
But last spring break I worked a few shifts shortly after the menu had changed, so our chef had been passing me samples of the new dishes. Half way through the night, he slid me a bowl and told me try it. “What is it?” I asked. “Short rib ravioli.” I considered passing it on to someone else, but I realized I didn’t want to and I didn’t want to feel like I had to simply because it was something I had told myself I wasn’t allowed to eat. So I grabbed a fork and took a bite. “I haven’t eaten red meat in five years.” I told him, “And that was really stupid.”
Food walks this strange line because on the one hand our relationship with it is very scientific; you must eat to survive at a very visceral level. But there is also this intensely emotional side. People associate certain memories and feelings with certain foods, and to many, food is art. I think a lot of what we choose to eat or not eat takes both sides into account as we try to determine what is best for us, but also what we want.
I’m not saying that choosing not to eat certain things is always a poor decision. If you choose to be a vegan, or vegetarian, or gluten free, that’s fine. But don’t do it because you feel like you should. If you feel healthier and happier, then that is great. But if every time you see a plate of bacon you feel sad because you want it but can’t have it because you’re a vegetarian, maybe reevaluate. Don’t choose a diet just because it allows you to claim abstinence from certain foods if you like those foods and they don’t adversely affect your health.
We are a society obsessed with categorization. We like things to fit in a box; we like for ourselves to fit into these boxes. I think that is what is so attractive about labeled eating patterns like “vegan.” But people don’t always fit into boxes. So if most days you don’t eat meat, but sometimes you just really want filet mignon, don’t feel like you have to label yourself a vegetarian and constantly suppress that occasional desire for steak.
My relationship with food has come a long way. It can be so easy to get in your own head and make food into more than it needs to be. That artistic side and scientific side perfectly collide when we eat. We appreciate the artistry and the emotions attached to the food, while our bodies rejoice at the fact that we’re giving them sustenance. So eat what makes you feel healthy and happy. Eat what you want and decline what you don’t, but don’t worry about putting a label on it.