My (apparently lofty) goal for this year was to upload every column I wrote to this blog. The year got ahead of me and I did not accomplish this, however, all my columns from this year can be found here. I am done with my time at Marquette and the Tribune, but I will continue blogging on this site, for those of you who just can't get enough of my snarky writing. (Jokes, my friends)
In just under one month, many Americans will head to the polls to decide who will be the next president of our country. It’s kind of a big deal. So big, in fact, that I think it requires voters to take a little extra time to consider their decision before they fill in the bubbles on a ballot (or punch holes or tap a screen … however your state rolls).
There are many important issues in this election that both candidates have strong stances on. None of them are arbitrary, random ideas someone decided to believe. The candidates probably sat down with members of their parties and campaign staff to decide the best way to handle them by taking many things into consideration.
Both Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have taken the time to research the issues and what is important to the American people to decide their platforms. Voters owe it to the candidates to do the same when it comes to deciding how to vote.
There are people out there who consistently vote for one party or the other simply because of their stance on a single issue or a few of the current hot topics in America. I believe this kind of voting does the United States a great disservice. An elected official’s job is not just to work with one or two specific issues, but to handle a myriad of problems and policies to make sure the American people are being served by their government in the best possible way.
Before you vote, I think you have a responsibility to your country and fellow citizens to do your research. You may wholeheartedly agree with a particular candidate on one issue, but when you look closer, some of their other policies may seem questionable. You are not voting on a specific bill – you are voting for the highest office in our land. Remember that. Examine the campaign websites of each candidate and do even further research. Read newspaper articles from multiple sources about candidates and listen to your friends’ and family members’ opinions. What’s amazing about the United States today is that we have the freedom to engage in political discourse in many different ways — in print, online and in person. Take advantage of that when you are making your decision for whom to vote.
And do not forget about local issues. Yes, Nov. 6 is the date of the presidential election, but many local offices and issues will also be on your ballot. No matter which state you vote in, don’t forget about them. Blur party lines and vote for the people you most agree with to serve you and your fellow citizens, not just every candidate from a particular party simply because they are part of that party.
There are also many people who say neither Romney nor Obama is fit to be the president. These people are completely entitled to that opinion, but it’s pretty much a guarantee that, come November, one or the other will be voted into office. Some people may wish to withhold their vote because they do not think either should be elected, and some people may have completely legitimate reasons to do so. However, if these people were to really examine each candidate, they may find that one seems more qualified than the other to run our country. It would make much more sense to cast a vote for that individual in order to take a step toward electing the most able president.
I highly encourage all of you who are 18 or older to first make sure you are registered to vote and second, to take some time to do a little research about what and whom you will be voting for in four weeks. You already have a newspaper in your hands or a news website open. You might as well spend a little more time reading today.
I am an adult, and that terrifies and excites me beyond belief. This weekend, I will reach the great milestone of age 22 (a brand new milestone I just made up). But when I sit down and look at myself at this point in my life, I am more of an adult than a child.
The other day, I came across a blog entry on Thought Catalog entitled “20 People You Will Meet in Your 20s.” As I read through the list, I began to count. Sixteen. “The awesome roommate … the social networker … the person who never left your hometown …” I have been in my 20s for just two years now, and I’ve already met 16 out of the 20 notable people this article claims I will come across in the next eight years? I’ll only meet four more?
Now, I know that I can’t take this blog post completely seriously, obviously I will meet several people in the next few years, but what really jarred me was that I am an adult. Sort of. I mean, if I’ve already met so many of these people, I’ve already become 4/5 of an adult (if you do the math, which I oftentimes don’t). Soon, I will be out “there,” on my own, somewhere in the wide world, hopefully with a big-girl job.
What a horrifying thought. I am so not ready to be an adult.
But then again, maybe I am. There is nothing more exciting for me to think about than all the possibilities that are out there. I have no idea where I will be a year from now, but the potential of what I could be doing is through the roof. Scary, yes, but also exciting. I’m no Peter Pan. I want to grow up.
Maybe I do only have four more interesting people to meet before I reach my next age milestone, but even if that’s true, I can guarantee the next eight years will be interesting. And that makes me want to grow up even more.
October is here, and Wisconsin has been whispering hints of fall the past couple weeks, which are now turning in to loud declarations of the season all around us. The trees are beginning to glow red and yellow, and the temperature is dropping. Halloween decorations are popping up all over the place, and midterms are looming on the calendar.
The changing season, for me, brings one thing to mind: Christmas. You’re all probably sitting there thinking, “Carlie, you’re a couple months early with that.” I was trying to figure out where my obsession with Christmas, and more specifically, Christmas music, comes from. My hometown is a little bit Christmas-obsessed. Boasting Hallmark Cards’ world headquarters, a Mayor’s Christmas Tree taller than those at Rockefeller Center and the White House and arguably one of the country’s most iconic displays of Christmas lights, we may be an overly Christmas-crazy city.
When I was younger, there were several radio stations that played non-stop Christmas music from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. This was so popular that, after a few years, they began starting the Christmas music three weeks earlier on Nov. 1. I would set my boombox (yes, I am a proud child of the 90s) to a Christmas station and fall asleep to the Yuletide crooning of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby. I vividly remember sitting in front of a dying fireplace several Halloweens in a row, eating candy, sipping on hot apple cider and counting down the minutes to midnight, when I could turn on the radio for some holiday cheer.
As I got older and packed up my boombox in favor of an iPod and computer, a world of possibility opened up to me. The beautiful invention of Pandora made it possible for me to listen to Christmas whenever I want. This is a dangerous tool to have at my fingertips. In recent years, I’ve started blasting Mannheim Steamroller as early as October, much to the dismay of my roommates and co-workers.
People ask me if I get burned out on it. I don’t. But I have noticed that I have lost a little bit of appreciation for fall and its beauty when I mentally skip ahead to winter and Christmas. So this year, I am going to try to wait. My far-reaching goal is to wait all the way until Thanksgiving to crank the Christmas, but I would be satisfied with myself if I could at least make it to the beginning of November.
I have heard that sharing your goals with others and writing them down gives you more motivation to follow through. So this is me, challenging myself to wait at least a month, if not more, before I give in and kick off the holiday season. I’ve written it down and shared it with all of you. So please, help hold me to this. I will take any suggestions for good autumnal tunes you have, and I will return to this subject in a few weeks and let you know if I accomplished my goal.
I know it is not going to be easy. As the Christmas season approaches, decorations and lights and store displays and radio stations will begin their inevitable early transition to Yuletide, tempting me with tinsel. Even just thinking about it as I wrote this column made me long to listen to carols. But I’m in for a challenge and willing to give it a try. And who knows, if I can accomplish this goal, what else could I do if I set my mind to it?
When I walk around campus, I notice a lot of things. I notice my friends walking by me on the sidewalk and lately, I’ve been noticing the changing leaves on the trees. I notice the (sometimes very interesting) Milwaukee locals, cars driving by Marquette and the crazy seagulls that seem to live on the roof of the Jesuit Residence.
I also notice that the people who pass me on the street seem to be completely engrossed in something else entirely: the sidewalk. Last time I checked, the sidewalk wasn’t really all that interesting. I checked again yesterday, and sure enough, it’s still just dirty concrete slabs with the occasional patch of gum or piece of trash.
These people who are so intent on the gum of the sidewalk clearly are not noticing the same things that I am. Including me. This is not a desperate plea for attention from my fellow students. But when I see someone I know on the street, I always try to smile and say, “hello” if the situation will permit. I probably get about a 20 percent response rate (that is a completely arbitrary number, but it might be accurate). The feeling of stupidity that comes along with this is something I’ve gotten used to, and I brush it off easily.
Marquette is not an unwelcoming community (see my column from Tuesday), but I’d like a little bit more friendliness on the sidewalks of our fair university. And I will be the first to admit that I have off days, space out and don’t realize someone shouting my name for blocks. But I try to be a friendly person, which is a lot easier when there are other friendly people around. So, if I smile at you, humor me and smile right back.
My family and me at my cousin's wedding in Missouri on Sept. 22, 2012.
This weekend, I braved a nine hour car trip to travel home to Missouri for a family wedding. As I drove away with Milwaukee in my rearview mirror, I was sad that I would be away from my beloved Marquette for three whole days. I was gone all summer; wasn’t that enough? Though it may have seemed impossible to me freshman year, over the past six semesters, Marquette and Milwaukee have become my home.
Nine hours later, however, as I spotted the Kansas City skyline peeking over the Missouri River for the first time in more than a month, my heart swelled up with happiness for being home. So what is home? I wondered. Is it possible to have more than one?
The place you grow up shapes an important part of who you are. You learn the values you will take with you into adulthood from the place you grow up and the people there who raise you. So what happens when you leave that place? You don’t forget everything about it and take on a completely new identity because you live somewhere else. Well, some people might, but I definitely did not.
It wasn’t easy to leave the comfort of family, friends and a city I know as well as the back of my hand. But I did, and I am so glad I did. That experience played a huge role in shaping me into the individual I am today.
As I prepare to graduate at the end of this year (fingers crossed) and search for a job and a place to go next, I am preparing to leave a home behind and make a new one somewhere else. It’s exciting for me to think that I will meet new people, find new places to explore and wonder what my next home will teach me.
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say when people ask me where I live or where I am from. When people ask that, they are often looking for an answer that will tell them something about me. If I just say “Kansas City” or just say “Milwaukee,” it doesn’t paint the whole picture. For a while, I have struggled to find a way to embrace both places as home. Like many things in life, there is no perfect distinction, no short answer. Realizing that is important when trying to define “home.”
I dislike the phrase “home away from home” because it implies that my second home isn’t really a place I love, it’s just a stand-in for the place that I’m from. Marquette is not a stand-in home. This school and this city have become so welcoming to me that, no matter what happens after next May, no matter where I end up next, they will always hold equal billing in my heart with the city where I grew up. I have learned so much over the past three years here, and I am learning more every passing week.
The Jesuits say their home is the road, but I make my homes in the stops along it. My birth certificate will always say Missouri and my diploma will always say Marquette. And I couldn’t be happier to call both those places home.
I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I’ve never even tried one. I don’t really plan to take up smoking ever. But, on certain occasions, I catch myself thinking, “Man, I could really go for a cigarette right now!” Which is kind of ridiculous, really, since I wouldn’t even know what it’s like.
When I was studying abroad in Morocco I was surrounded by smokers. Men walked down the street and sold single cigarettes for change. I’ve been friends with people who smoke since high school. It’s never really bothered me. My sister, on the other hand, will make a point to cough especially loudly if she spots someone in public smoking. Which is completely justifiable for her. She lives with a respiratory condition that makes it harder for her to breathe than most healthy people. That’s part of the reason I will probably never smoke.
So what do I do instead? When everyone around me pulls out a cigarette and I’m just standing there? I chew a lot of gum. I’m serious; it puts me at ease for some reason.
Often, when I get the weird craving, it’s because there are added emotional stresses in my life – with friends, family or other relationships. A trick that I use to calm myself down in the short run is to take a second, wherever I am, to stop, close my eyes and take a deep breath.
Something I do in the long run to get my jitters out and alleviate stress is exercise. I took dance classes for 15 straight years, so physical activity needs to be part of my routine, and sometimes that’s what I crave more than anything. A bike ride, exercise class, power walk with a friend or 45 minutes of lap swimming will do wonders for me.
We all have stress in our life, and we all crave different things to help us deal with them. Different things work for different people. What works for you?
I am going to be honest with you. It can be very hard to find positive things in the world today. Just last week, we observed the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — arguably the most defining event of our generation. We saw a teacher’s strike carry into its second week in Chicago and we watched violence escalate in the Middle East as more negative attacks on a culture angered and saddened people around the world.
On Saturday morning, when I opened the Wall Street Journal, my heart hurt to see nearly three whole pages dedicated to that most recent violence. In a world full of hate, misunderstanding and anger, it can be hard to find things that shine light in our lives. Sometimes we have to search a little bit to find good news today, but it’s worth doing every once in a while.
I did a little searching and found that there are others out there like me who are searching for something to warm their hearts or make them smile or simply give them a little more confidence in the state of the world.
There is a website, happynews.com, devoted entirely to positive, real news stories. Run by citizen journalists, Happy News aims to “lift spirits and inspire lives.” It finds uplifting stories from other reputable news sources and compiles them in one place. I will definitely be adding it to my list of sites to check daily. If you’re not sold on it yet, check the site out. I found one story there from this summer about a 70-year-old man who survived being trapped in the Austrian Alps for almost a week by eating a chocolate bar. According to the story, one of the first things he wanted after being rescued was a beer and a shot of lemonade. It’s a triumphant story that brought a smile to my face.
That story is definitely not of global importance. The man did not end war or cure cancer, but positive stories like his bring a ray of hope into the world when it can seem so full of despair.
Another source for news to bring a smile to your face is the Huffington Post’s “Good News” blog. While it first looks like a site entirely dedicated to cute animal pictures, there are definitely some happy news stories to be found. Last week there was a story about the last victim of the Aurora, Colo., shootings being released from the hospital. Another story that shed some light on the darkness of last week’s violence was about a peace march in Libya after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
Why can’t this positive news be reported more prominently for us to see? We need to see that, while there is definitely bad in the world, good also exists. It’s undercover and quiet, so it doesn’t make the front page, but maybe it should.
I’m not saying the big news stories should be ignored just because they’re not “happy.” All I’m saying is that, when you get overwhelmed with the state of the world, remember that there are good people out there. Not all news is bad, so take a moment to find something to lift your spirits and brighten your days when they seem too dark.
There are a few things I wish I had known at the beginning of my freshman year at Marquette. These include the correct pronunciation of “Schroeder,” “Lalumiere,” and “Cudahy,” along with a few deeper pieces of advice. And actually, someone probably did tell me the things I am about to tell you, but anything you hear the first two or three weeks of college tends to go in one ear and out the other. I really wish I had been given advice like this about a month or so into the school year. So freshmen, read this, don’t absorb any of it, cut it out and stick it in your planner so you can stumble upon it around the end of September.
The thing I really wish I’d been told way back in 2009 (wow, I’m old) is that it’s OK to be sad and homesick. Calling your mom crying is nothing to be ashamed of, and, honestly, it’s probably going to happen in the very near future. On a similar note, the number to the Counseling Center is 414-288-7172. It is not a sign of weakness to call or just walk in. Talking to someone is sometimes the very best thing you can do for yourself.
Change your major! It may seem like you have your life mapped out five, 10, even 15 years past graduation right now, but if you find yourself unhappy with that plan, or dreading it, now is the time you can do something about it. You may find yourself wishing you had studied philosophy instead of biomedical engineering or Spanish instead of business. So take that leap of faith now because you are literally the only person in charge of your own future. You never know, you could change your major multiple times and end up right back where you started. It might take a year away from something to realize how much you love it and can’t live without it.
On the subject of change, don’t be afraid of it. You are not set as the adult you will be at age 18. Change is good and normal. Change your political views. Change your religious views, your philosophy on life. The one thing you probably will not change is your sports affiliations, and I totally respect that.
I told this to a group of freshmen in the honors program the other day, but they aren’t the only studious freshmen at Marquette: Don’t forget to have fun! That seems like a silly thing to say at this school, but if you are similar to my freshman-year self, you may get caught up with your classes and overstress about your grades. Don’t get me wrong; grades are important, but so is the rest of college life. Join the organization that catches your eye at the Organization Fest. Accept the invitations to hang out on Tuesday nights instead of studying.
My final piece of advice is to not listen to anything I’ve said if it doesn’t work for you. College (and life) is a learn-as-you-go sort of thing. You are going to make mistakes and try new things, some you like and some you don’t. If you find something that really makes you happy, keep it up. Everyone is different and you’ll find a lifestyle that works for you, eventually. It’s a process, but it’s a fun one. Tough it out through the hard times, and ask for help if you need it. Enjoy every second of your time in college and here at Marquette – it flies by.