Monthly Archives: January 2015

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Genitals

adriana allen block

It was All Quiet on the Western Front, so to speak.  I went into work with a positive attitude, somehow feeling like the universe was going to be on my side today.  Unfortunately I was in for a rude awakening.  Like most workplaces (specifically in the service industry), it is quite common to have inappropriate work talk.  Now I am generally used to this type of talk, but nothing could have prepared me for the load of crap that I was in for that day.  Somehow I ended up being the only female scheduled, and  as a result my coworkers and I stumbled upon the subject of it being a woman’s responsibility to keep her vagina clean-shaven.  So of course seeing that I was the only woman in the entire restaurant, they all looked to me as the voice of all the women in the world/ the ruler of Venus, our home planet. One of my coworkers started right off the bat with: “I think it is completely disgusting when women do not shave their vagina.  I mean how am I supposed to go down on that when I have a mouth full of hair?   Also, I think that women that don’t shave are going to be naturally smelly.  This is 2015!  Why on earth are women still trying to do the sixties thing?”

girl shaving

Now when I tell you that my head spun completely around my body I mean it.

That was completely baffling.  I did not know somebody could be about as dumb as a bag of rocks still. I thought that they stopped making the male models like this; that they had worked out all of the kinks in the male brain motherboard…  Obviously I was wrong.


After he finished his spiel on how there are requirements for a woman’s body before any kind of sexual encounter, I politely turned to him and asked, “Does it hurt being as exceptionally ignorant as you are?”  In the heat of the moment I pulled out my book of insults, but quickly realized that I didn’t need any.  This person, this poor, poor man, has had to live with these thoughts his entire life.  No one has ever told him that he has absolutely no fucking right to dictate what a woman should and should not do to her private parts.  After a few seconds of eye-twitching, I soon realized that he was not the only one with this thought process: my fellow coworkers that happened to also be male had the same idea.  Instead of allowing myself to become angry, I took the time to grasp the teachable moment.  I looked on to these young men as if they were my young padawans and I gave them the biggest schoolin’ of their lives.

owen cynic

  1. If you are in a relationship with another person, you need to have this conversation before you engage in any kind of sexual activity.  Everyone has preferences.  That is understandable.  But subjecting women to the idea of changing themselves for your own personal pleasure is pretty much borderline ridiculous…  Actually it is absolutely ridiculous.
  1. It is a very well-known fact that vaginal hair is there to protect us, as is genital hair for men.  For women, we have a pH balance to uphold.  A pH balance in a woman’s body determines whether or not she’s going to have a shitty day.  And what I mean by a shitty day is that when the pH balance is off, women are more prone to bacterial infections such as vaginosis and yeast infections (which are not in any way, shape, or form lovely).  When you shave your genital area, you leave yourself exposed to the various other bacterias that are in the world.
  1. Vaginal hair is actually known to lessen your chances of obtaining certain types of STI’s, mainly ones that are contributed from skin to skin contact.

Here…  Have some reading material.

  1.  The next time you want to bitch about a woman’s body, you need to think about your mother, your sister, the women that hold a high regard in your life, and you think to yourself: would you want somebody to say that to them?

We unfortunately live in a society where the ruling of a woman’s body by men is completely normal. It’s an easy fix: we must start young.  Teach our boys that women are not their play-things. Women are the makers of us all.  Let’s start treating them as such.  Stop bullying women into altering themselves to fulfill your translation of this crappy norm.

k jlaw

The “Malibu’s Most Wanted” Stereotype

frank hampton block

Every hobby is associated with a certain clique of people.  The Star Wars fandom is generally associated with nerds, coffee shops with hipsters, and book clubs with housewives.  People outside of those stereotypes who are interested in those same hobbies are deemed as weird.  A man wearing coveralls, a trucker hat, and a dip of chewing tobacco in his lip would be looked upon strangely by others if he were to be spotted enjoying a cup of joe at the new coffee shop in town.  This same social phenomena appears in my life when people find out I’m a fan of rap music.  While I’ll admit that I’m not as well-versed in every artist in the game right now or the full history of rap, it’s the genre that I connect the most with.

jon stewart stereotype

However, since I’m white I hear the same question anytime friends find out about my musical tastes.

“Do you wish you were black?” Ah, the “Eminem wannabe” response. We’ve all heard it before.  This phrase makes my eyes do a barrel roll.  Yes, I enjoy rap music. I can’t help that your closed-minded view of rap music leads you to believe that all rappers are black, or that you have to be a certain race to enjoy a certain genre of music.  Even in recent rap, you have artists like Macklemore, Slug from Atmosphere, Eminem, Ubiquitous from Ces Cru, Fat Joe, Snow Tha Product,  and many more that are both established and well-respected by their peers.  Rap, just like all genres, is open to people of all races.   Just like how Darius Rucker broke into the country scene even though he didn’t fit the standard country-genre stereotype.

darius rucker

Another stereotype about rap that bothers me is the idea that all rap is about misogyny, gang-related activities, and drug use.  While it is true that a lot of the mainstream exposure for rap covers this, and that rap rose to popularity in the early 90’s with gangster rap, this stereotype hardly covers all of rap music.  Like all genres of music, rap can be used to convey emotion and to help not only the listener but the artists themselves deal with emotional struggle in their lives.  For instance, “Yesterday” by Atmosphere is a song where Slug (the MC of the group) is saying all of the things he wished he had said to his father before he passed away.  Also, Kendrick Lamar’s album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” is explicitly anti-gangster/criminal while also showing the peer pressure side of gang life in low-income areas.

So please, if you have a white friend that happens to enjoy rap or hip hop, just leave him be.  He’s probably had to deal with it his entire life, and you aren’t going to say anything he hasn’t heard before.



Pasta Alla Carbonara

janine hanover block

You know what the best thing about winter is?  When it’s over.  I do not enjoy snow, ice, or below freezing temperatures. When I get the chance, I will gladly move somewhere warmer than Kansas City.  For now, I just have to power through and brave the cold.  I find that a reward for my efforts is best served warm and in a bowl…  A warm bowl of pasta, that is!
For those cold, lazy days I turn to a recipe I learned in my second semester of culinary school, which is a classic Pasta Alla Carbonara.  I hardly ever order carbonara at restaurants, because what they call carbonara is spaghetti noodles tossed in a “cream sauce” with bacon and maybe peas.  That isn’t carbonara, and it should only be done one way: the traditional way. Carbonara is a pasta dish that takes a max of 20 minutes to make including prep time.  It’s a wonderfully satisfying meal that anyone can cook.  Let’s dive into this rich, cheesy, mouthwatering meal.

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

What you need:
Bucatini pasta
Pancetta, diced
Parmesan Cheese

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

First, fill a pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil.  Make sure to salt your water!  Adding salt to your water will flavor your pasta.  Otherwise, pasta is pointless.  When the water comes to a boil, add the bucatini pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain into a colander.

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

In a pan, add the diced pancetta, and render on medium heat.

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

Add the cooked bucatini pasta and toss together until pancetta is distributed among the pasta and covered in the rendered fat.

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

For this next part you’re going to need to move fast!  Grate the parmesan cheese and set aside.  Beat your eggs and set those aside as well.

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

Turn off the heat and remove the pan with the pasta from the heat source.  You’re going to use the heat of the pasta to make your sauce.  Add the beaten eggs and quickly incorporate it, then add the cheese and blend that completely.  You’ll start to see a sauce-like coating form on the pasta.

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

Serve immediately; do not let the pasta sit in the pan too long or you might scramble the eggs.  Once plated, sprinkle with chopped parsley and a little (or a lot of!) extra parmesan cheese.
Did I say I hated winter?  Well I lied.  I love winter because it gives me all the excuses in the world to make this dish.  It’s -10 outside?  I think I’ll make some carbonara.  8 inches of snow overnight?  Guess I’ll just stay home and eat pasta.  Winter can stick around a little longer.

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Serves 4-5

16 oz bucatini pasta (if your store doesn’t carry this, use spaghetti)
10 oz. Pancetta, small dice
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded Parmesan
1 bunch parsley, chopped
Cracked Pepper

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a roiling boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain in colander, set aside and keep warm.
2. In a pan, add diced pancetta and cook until fat is rendered and pancetta is slightly crispy.  Add the drained pasta to the pan and toss the pasta to evenly coat in rendered fat and distribute the pancetta.
3. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the heat source.  Using residual heat, and working quickly, add the beaten eggs to the pasta and stir.  Next add the parmesan cheese and incorporate.  Sprinkle in cracked pepper to desired taste.
4. Serve immediately and garnish with chopped parsley and grated parmesan.


Book Review: Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

dj bart plange blockghana 1

Taiye Selasi knocks the ball out of the park with her debut novel and New York Times best seller, Ghana Must Go, a beautifully written story of love, pain, and a family’s path to healing.  Brought together after the death of brilliantly-gifted surgeon and failed husband and father Kweku Sai, the five remaining Sai’s reunite in Ghana to bury his body, forcing them to confront dark paths and unspoken pain, stemming from far beyond the untimely and devastating departure of their family patriarch.  Ghana Must Go follows the perspectives of the six Sais:

  • Kweku Sai: Renown surgeon from humble beginnings, estranged from his ex-wife and children.
  • Folasadé Savage: Kweku’s beautiful and graceful ex-wife, who gave up a scholarship to Georgetown Law to follow her husband’s dreams of becoming a surgeon as she carried their first child.
  • Olu Sai: The driven and fastidious eldest Sai child, who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a surgeon, as outstanding as his father had been.
  • Taiwo and Kehinde Sai: the equally brilliant twins, Kehinde a famous artist and Taiwo always at the top of her class, both known for their beauty and talent.
  • Sadie Sai: the youngest child, plagued with insecurity, eating disorders, and feelings of inadequacy, yet still a gifted dancer.

Selasi’s ability to create incredibly complex and relatable characters is commendable.  The lack of novels written by and about African characters is strikingly noticeable in the world of literature, but Selasi’s Ghana Must Go effectively breaks free from the common, trite story often pinned to African characters of devastation, hunger, and war.  Selasi’s characters are a refreshing departure from the usual descriptions of African desolation, written as whole people with complex stories, showing a Western audience the many shades of Africa that exist alongside the negative but are too often erased.


The books starts off somewhat slow, due to the gratuitous scene descriptions that have a tendency to detract from the core of the story, but then picks up quickly.  After the stagnant beginning it became the type of book you don’t want to put down.  After the discovery of Kweku’s reason for abandoning his family in the United States and subsequent path back to Ghana, I was left scratching my head in some scenes.  It seemed unlikely that Folasadé, equal to Kweku in intelligence, could be completely unaware that after 11 months Kweku had lost his job in a case of blatant discrimination and spent almost their entire fortune fighting it.  Kweku’s departure after his inability to face his failure to his family (and most of all his wife, who had given up so much for him to succeed) was heart-wrenching, a reminder of the stresses and pressure to achieve success faced by many African immigrants.

ghana 2

Folasadé’s decision to send Taiwo and Kehinde to Nigeria to live with her drug-dealing half-brother that she herself barely knew seemed out of place with her character, even after Kweku’s departure and financial ruin.  Folasadé was fiercely protective of her children, and had no noteworthy relationship with her brother enough to entrust him with her twins.  It is quite predictable by the reader when the twins have a nightmarish experience in Lagos, marred by sexual abuse and neglect before being returned home.  Though the circumstances of their shipping to Nigeria did not seem to make very much sense, the writing remained excellent throughout the book.

All in all, Ghana Must Go proved to be an exceptional book that left me searching for any more publications by Selasi to get my hands on.  I would encourage this book for anyone, especially fans of Chimamanda Adichie, who similarly writes novels with African characters that break out of the dangerous single story stereotype of Africa, showing us the capability of these characters to be complex and whole.

Overall: 4/5 stars


Let’s Stop Criticizing Education Majors

shelby westfall block

If you’re an education major, you’ve probably taken a fair amount of criticism and doubt about your choices. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people out there who think that teaching is an admirable, noble profession. In fact, I would imagine that the majority of people feel this way. So why do future teachers face such a hard time?


Okay, let’s go over some of the commonly uttered phrases.

“Do you just want summers off?”  Go ahead and ask a teacher if they really get summers off.  Teachers, though they do certainly have opportunity for a nice vacation, do have obligations during the summer.  Though I would absolutely love to teach nine months and spend the other three on a beach somewhere with a nice book and an iced tea, that isn’t how the cookie crumbles.  There is an enormous amount of planning that goes into any lesson.  A lot of that typically gets done in the summer.  Lesson plans don’t just come to teachers in visions before class.

raven vision

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”  Thanks Woody Allen, but no.  If you think that people decide to teach art or music because they can’t make it as an artist or musician, you are sadly mistaken.  In my experience, people don’t usually pick education as a fallback career.  Teachers teach because they like teaching, not because they flunked out of grad school.  Can we just take a moment and think about what the world would be like if Woody Allen was right?

kristen wiig snl

“You better marry rich.”  Wait– you mean that teachers don’t make six-figure salaries?  Well, that changes everything.  Unless you aspire to a $35,000 salary, you aren’t going into education for the money.  It’s not a secret that teachers in the United States are grossly underpaid.  Also, I don’t appreciate your 1950’s ideology.  But thank you for the advice.  I mean it.

sarcastic emma stone

Here’s the moral of the story, folks.  People decide to teach because they want to make a difference.  Teachers provide a necessary and difficult service to the community.  They shape young minds.  They share their passion for learning with a bunch of kids who would rather be doing literally anything else.  When someone says to you, “Oh, I’m going to be a teacher,” you should follow a rule that I know you’ve heard before: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

new girl


Moira’s Poems: Pt. I

moira carder block

Blossom of Beauty

Beautiful flowers

Do not come through pain

They come through sunshine

And they come through rain

Do not let it wilt and wither away

Even on the cloudiest of days

A flower is the same as a fragile soul

That needs attention in order to feel full

When the leaves change and fall

It represents the blossom in us all

Count On Me

When you’re lost and scared

And thrown out at sea

Look beyond the troubles

And there I’ll be

Comfort comes

From a heart who cares

Always understands

And is always there

I will anchor you from storms

When you’re lost at sea

Forever I’m there

You can count on me


Feminism is Not a Dirty Word

brit twenter block

When you hear the word “feminist”, do images of bitchy, Amazonian-type women with tons of body hair and a vendetta against men pop into your brain?  Are you afraid to refer to yourself as a “feminist” even though you are in fact a woman (or a man that believes in equality)?  If so, you’re not alone.  However, you do have a pretty skewed idea of what a feminist actually is.  This is not meant in an accusatory way; it’s a popular opinion that the word “feminist” should actually be banned.  Why are people so afraid of this word?

not a feminist

The dictionary definition of feminism is this: “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”

Equality.  To be equal to.  Not to be above, not to be below, but equal.

lucille what

Your average feminist wants women to be paid the same as their male counterparts in the workplace.  The average feminist wants the same opportunities afforded to women that are given freely to men.  The average feminist wants girls and boys alike to be taught “rape is wrong; do not rape” as opposed to “ladies: here are ways to avoid the inevitable rape in your future.”


 The problem with how society today views feminists stems from extremists as well as ignorance.  There are extremists in every place where there is an opinion.  Christians, Muslims, pro-life advocates, pro-choice supporters, and members of literally every political party have at some point in their histories been looked down on by society as being “too this” or “too that”, “too violent”, “too radical”, asking for “too much.”

There are those who insist that women are better than men.  There are those who insist that men are unneeded. These women do not want equality, thus they are not feminists.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are women who ask for “equal” treatment, yet expect special privileges.  These women unfortunately just flip the double-standard around, insisting that they want equal pay, yet the man should still pick up the check on a date every time.  Or that they don’t need to hold the door open for men, but it’s rude when her chair isn’t pulled out for her.

jack no

It’s a fact that where there is an opinion, there will be differences.  It is also a fact that women are different from men, just as there is a difference between races, a difference between religions, and a difference between any group of people you could possibly compare.  Although there is a distinction between men and women (and that distinction should be acknowledged), that does not mean one gender should be allowed less freedom in the way of economics, politics, or society in general.

glass ceiling1

glass ceiling2

Once again, feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”

Now that we have established what a feminist really is, I’m sure we can all take a step back and realize that it’s okay to call yourself a feminist without covering it up with “but not like those feminists.”  Rest-assured friends, being a feminist doesn’t mean what you thought it meant.



Series II

shelby westfall block

To a Friend

There’s a chaos that surrounds me,

that will not leave me be.

But I come home and you’re right there.

And suddenly I’m free.


Even when I’m far away,

I always call on you.

No matter how confused I am,

you tell me what is true.

The Flower

Today I saw a flower,

growing in the weeds.

She grows tall and fierce,

but is battered by the breeze.

And when it rains,

she fills up

and shelters those beneath her.

They stay dry,

and safe and sound,

and they hardly even see her.

The Dancer

She doesn’t even know the way

she dances when she moves.

Like she’s gone through all there is to go through

and there’s nothing left to prove.


She has a way of really knowing

everyone she knows.

She has so much going on

but she doesn’t let it show.



Music Review: Into the Woods (film)

moira carder block

Into The Woods is a Disney musical for all ages. It includes some of the best actors and actresses of our time, including Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, and Chris Pine. There were also several child actors who had very strong vocals. Daniel Huttlestone, who played Jack, is 15 years old, and Lilla Crawford, who plays Little Red Riding Hood is only 13 years old. Even though their vocals weren’t the best ones in the movie, it is amazing to see how much talent can come at such a young age. It gives the movie as well as the music a huge range of excellence. Some of these actors aren’t even known for their musical talent, such as Emily Blunt, who has played in “The Devil Wears Prada”, “Gulliver’s Travels”, and “Gnomeo and Juliet”, and Chris Pine, who is best known for his role in the Star Trek movies as Captain Kirk.

emily blunt

This musical brings some of the best music known to theater and now onscreen with humor, thought, and heart. This has been a musical on Broadway since the late 80’s. It started out as a simple stage show with scene changes, live performances, and no “do-overs” like film stars are allowed between takes.  Even though Into the Woods has has been on stage for at least 25 years and there have been many discussions of turning it into a film, no one ever wanted to take up the challenge until now.  Finally, this tremendous Broadway show has hit the big screen. With modern technology, the movie version takes this musical to a whole new level. However, the music is recorded in a studio and lacks that live feel.


With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, true life lessons come from these tunes, including the song “No One Is Alone”, sung by the cast, which acknowledges that everyone is ultimately alone but explains the shared understanding that isolation makes life bearable. “I Know Things Now”, which is sung by Lilla Crawford, is about looking back on mistakes and learning from them. “Your Fault”, sung by the cast, shows how easy it is to blame others when it is your mistake in the first place. These are easily the kind of tunes that will keep you humming and singing in your head all day.

emma stone shower

Overall music rating: 4/5.


5 Reasons Why Being An Automobile Factory Worker Rocks

frank hampton block

45 vans an hour, 8 hours a day, 360 vans every shift. That’s 360 times you have to tighten the same nut, clip on the same part, et cetera. Sounds pretty monotonous, right?  Technically, you’re right, but there’s so much more than the labor. The people around you who become family and the pride you take into your job provides me with something I feel is uncommon in most workplaces.

1.  The Co-Workers

With other jobs I’ve had,  I’ve never been a very sentimental guy when it comes to my co-workers, outside of a select few people.  However, after 3 months of spending 9 hours a day with the same 6 people, I’ve learned so much about them: how they came to be at the plant, stories about their spouse and kids, and things we agree on and disagree with (as well as which topics to avoid).  The biggest difference (and best part) between this job and past jobs I’ve had is that I’ll get to watch their lives unfold over the years, and that is awesome.


2.  It’s a Thinking Man’s Job

When you’re not in a position to talk to your co-workers, you only have your thoughts to entertain you.  Outside of listening to music, this job offers hours of time to self-reflect, plan your day/weekends, and even learn! Audio-books make wonderful companions on the line; my favorites have been A Song and Ice and Fire series and books about Tibetan Buddhism.


spongebob music3.  Job Security

The automobile industry is incredibly stable.  In 2008 the government bailed out GM, Chrysler, and Ford in order to keep it running.  In most cases, your job security as an assembly worker is in your hands. The Union helps make sure that you aren’t wrongfully fired, so unless there’s a legitimate reason, your job is one of the most secure.


4.  Leave Your Work at Work

Every day, I come home and usually see my roommate hard at work after-hours either in meetings or trying to get more done than he could at work.  Nothing makes me happier than knowing that as soon as I walk out after a shift, I don’t have to worry about anything work-related. The only way I could see myself worrying about work at home is if they built the line through my living room, which I’m confident in that not happening.

Chewy5.  Company Pride

I feel that it’s uncommon for employees to see what their hard work has accomplished outside of the workplace; now, every time I see a vehicle that we build, I get a swell of pride knowing that my co-workers and I built that. Obviously I don’t build every single vehicle, but it feels pretty great to see the fruits of your labor out in the real world.

anchorman yay
All in all, while I first had my reservations about working in a factory, I’ve come to find that it’s an amazing environment surrounded by some of the most diverse work-forces in the country.  While not necessarily my dream job, I’ve found that I am very content with making my living, and look forward to the years to come.