Government shutdown

What It's Like To Live Near D.C. When Everything Is Closed

How the government shutdown affects more than one would even begin to think.

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Living in Northern Virginia, though it may be a suburb, life revolves around the happenings of the Nation's Capital. Growing up, many of my friends' parents were government employees. They'd drop their kids off at school in the morning and head to the nearest Metro stop, only to become apart of the morning commute and then the average workday in one of the busiest cities in the nation, if not the world.

The partial shutdown of our government has brought many abnormalities to the region where I grew up. In this area, the shutdown doesn't just affect one thing but is, in fact, a part of a chain reaction that affects everything and everyone. Neighbors who try to pass the time away until they can hopefully return to the office can be seen aimlessly shoveling their driveways or working in their garages. Traffic, which is normally unbearable in the area, has become much lighter during the usual rush hours. On an average day in Northern Virginia, between 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., or 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Route 66 and the Beltway is where you go to feel like you want to explode. But since the shutdown, trips that would normally take 40 minutes suddenly take 20, making even the driving in the area a constant reminder of those who aren't commuting, and who aren't getting paid.

The biggest newsflash, however, comes from none other than a trip into the Nation's Capital itself. Being home on winter break from college, the first thing I wanted to do was go into the city with my friends. Seeing buildings with dark windows and "We're Closed" signs came as a shock to me, as I am someone who is used to the usual bright and busy atmosphere that makes the city, not just bustling, but feel alive. The National Zoo was closed. The Smithsonian Museums were closed. The National Parks were closed. It felt as if the entire city had gone into hibernation.

But what's scariest about the government shutdown isn't that it's brought change to D.C, Northern Virginia, and beyond, but that there is no way to predict when it will end. If the city truly has gone into hibernation, all we can do is hope for a feeling of certainty that sometime soon it will wake up.

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Dear Taylor Swift, Christians Are Not Homophobic Bigots, Sincerely, The Majority Of Christians

Taylor, you need to calm down when talking about how most Christians act.

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When Taylor Swift released her newest single "You Need to Calm Down" last Friday, I didn't agree with the entire message of the song, mainly because of its heavy political overtones. But as the great Dick Clark once said, "It's got a good beat, and you can dance to it." So, for what it is, it's really easy to dance to this song, and I can see it becoming a pretty big hit.

But then the video came out, and I saw something that really bothered me.

In the music video for "You Need to Calm Down", Taylor is seen partying and hanging out with multiple LGBT+ icons in honor of Pride Month, such as the hosts of Queer Eye, RuPaul, and Ellen Degeneres. There's also a moment with Taylor, dressed as French fries, renewing her friendship with Katy Perry, who's dressed as a hamburger, which is as amazing as it sounds.

However, there's another cast of characters which acts as a foil to the happiness and colorful joy which is taking place in the video. There's a group of protesters surrounding the trailer park where Taylor and all her friends live. They're all dirty, buck-toothed, and dressed like your typical redneck stereotypes. They're also holding up protest signs while screaming at everyone in the trailer park. I saw one of the signs said something about Adam and Eve, and I realized most of the protesters were most likely meant to represent Christians.

And that...didn't sit well with me at all.

I know that these people never explicitly said they were Christians in the video, none of them even wore a cross. But, whenever someone sees anyone protesting rallies and organizations such as Pride, I can guarantee you that most of the time, the first thing people think is that they're from the Westboro Baptist Church, which is notorious for its protests. And I won't lie, there are some Christians who act that way.

But if you haven't heard this yet, let me be the first to tell you that not all Christians act like that. In fact, most of them don't act that way.

Christians don't agree with the LGBT+ lifestyle because of what the apostle Paul wrote in the book of 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). However, Jesus never once taught that just because you don't agree with a person doesn't mean they're automatically your enemy (Matthew 5:44). Christians are supposed to represent the love of the Savior of the world, which encompasses every and all aspects of humanity. This definitely includes people whose lifestyles we don't agree with. By not showing love to certain types of people, we are directly going against one of Jesus's greatest commandments.

Not agreeing with people is one of the cornerstones of humanity. It's a divisive world out there to be sure, but that doesn't mean people from any side of the debate need to perpetuate the division. Grouping all Christians into one group of hateful bigots is no different than Christians grouping all the members of the LGBT+ community into one group of evil people. One of the key elements of Christianity is showing people who have different beliefs from us the same love Jesus would show to anyone. And I know I'm not the only Christian who wants to show love to people of all walks of life. I may be the only Jesus they ever see in their lives, and we all wish to express the same love to others.

So Taylor, it looks like you're the one who needs to calm down on this issue.

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You Know You're From Trumbull, CT When...

The best memories are made in this boring, little, Connecticut town.

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1. The majority of places you will consider to eat at are in Fairfield or Westport... Colony, Shake Shack, Country Cow, Playa Bowls, BarTaco

2. But if you find yourself too lazy to get on 95 for food, Panchero's is the go-to... never Chipotle. If it is past midnight, the choice always comes down to the McDonalds in Monroe, where you are almost guaranteed to see a group of people you know, or Merritt Canteen.

3. Once you got your license, your Friday night plans consisted of picking up friends, driving up and down Main Street, and, somehow, always finding yourself at the THS parking lot seeing who's car is there because there is nothing better to do.

4. In the Fall, you couldn't wait for Friday so that after school you and half of your grade could walk to Plasko's Farm for ice cream and apple cider donuts... and hope you could get them before the owners would yell at you to leave. (This one only applies to Hillcrest Middle School kids, AKA the inferior middle school in town).

5. You couldn't wait to be a senior so you could officially lead the BLACK HOLE at football games... if you were even willing to go in the cold.

6. You looked forward to the annual Senior Scav, the last week of summer before your senior year where a list of tasks is passed down by the recently graduated class... the official kickoff to senior year.

7. You pass by Country Club Rd. and get flashbacks from the worst Cross Country practices ever. Driving up Daniels Farm Rd. in the Fall and Spring, you are conditioned to yell "hi" out the window to your friends at practice.

8. You knew someone who worked at Gene's gas station... and found yourself spending more time there on the weekends than you would like to admit.

9. You are convinced Melon-heads are real after frequenting Velvet St. to see the abandoned insane asylum with your friends, IF you didn't want to drive all the way up to Fairfield Hills in Newtown.

10. You have had/have been to at least one middle school birthday party at the Trumbull Marriott.

11. You know that the 25mph speed limit on Whitney Ave. is way too slow... and can't help but hit a little air going down the huge hill at the top.

12. The guy at Towne likely knows your name.

13. You never find yourself turning right out of THS... that side of town is irrelevant for those who do not live there.

14. You know to avoid the Merrit Parkway from 4:00-7:00pm at all costs.

15. You know more than you would like to about people you aren't even friends with... in a town so small, things get around very quick.

16. Going shopping really means going to Target, or any store in the mall, for the millionth time that week.

17. The marching band was the best in the state and you would see them practicing, literally, every time you drove by THS.

19. Depending on the side of town you lived, you spent a lot of time at Five Pennies Park or Indian Ledge Park.

20. You would say you couldn't wait to leave, but when you got to college, you find yourself excited to come back to your hometown so you can reminisce on old traditions and make new memories.

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