featured-videoDec 14, 2016
Claire Cortese Makes an Impact
Around the age of 12, when I was deciding whether or not to be gay, Satan appeared on my left shoulder. “Ramsssey,” he said with that telltale lisp. “Come over to our side. We have crazy partiessss.” He made a strong case, bouncing up and down on my shoulder with six-pack abs and form-fitting Calvin Kleins. An angel popped up on the other shoulder and was going to warn me about something, but Satan interrupted- “Shut up, you crusty-ass bitch!’ The angel was pretty crusty. She disappeared, and from that moment forward I was gay.
Unfortunately, 10 years later, I think I have realized what the angel was trying to warn me about. “There will be a lot less options!” she was probably going to say. Yes, I am getting to the point where I am incredibly frustrated that gay men have approximately 1/10 as many potential mates as our Heaven-bound peers.
When I first started college, I obviously tried to find a potential mate among my classmates. But I didn't make any meaningful connections with the handful of other gay men at the school. Also, you know what they say about small liberal arts colleges- the odds are good, but the goods have a lot of chest hair. They aren’t wrong. After one year and three lint rollers, I tried to set my sights beyond Perimeter Road.
Although a world-class destination for those seeking to find white people wearing gauges who feel comfortable using the n-word or girls who speak to horses as if they were people, it turns out Saratoga Springs is not exactly a gay mecca. After quickly running out of options on Tinder and getting tired of watching the little picture of myself sending out waves of digital pheromones into the abyss, I downloaded the gay ‘dating’ app Grindr. My woes would only continue. One of the first people I found on Grindr was named ‘Mr. Big,’ but he wasn’t nearly as romantic as his namesake. A second was a recent transplant from a foreign nation, and after I rejected his advances, he told me that I was the reason why American youth were falling behind the Russians and the Chinese. "You must be stupid," he added. "What kind of grades do you get in school?" “Bs,” I said optimistically. He typed back-“That’s not good at all."
(For the record, I was in the Honors Forum for a semester before taking my talents elsewhere. But they haven’t changed the door code- DM me if you’re interested.)
I spent my summers doing internships in larger cities, where I was lucky enough to date some really cool people. I tried to maintain these relationships after I rowed back up to Alcatraz but it was all in vain.
First there was ‘The Banker’ who I met in NYC. Let me be clear; he had a god-awful personality. He said such abhorrent things as: “I’ll listen to anything but rap.” “I like the Pentatonix version better.” “I like one of the characters on Girls.” Although he had the personality of a manila folder, he had this other endearing quality about him that was impossible to quantify without a ruler. We stayed together for a few months until he thought Miley did a good job hosting the VMAs.
Most recently, I dated a guy who was studying to become a prosthetic doctor. We spent a glorious few weeks together over the summer; I helped him write his papers and in turn he let me make jokes about amputees. I thought we had a real, significant connection, so after returning to school I arranged one weekend to drive and visit him. It was a very long drive- there were 4 empty Mickey D’s Shamrock Shake bottles in the back seat by the time I arrived. Anyone who has tried a cup of St. Patrick’s Sin knows how crazy this is- it takes at least two hours for the neon green chemicals to ooze through your system, burn through your stomach lining and then make a disgraceful exit, and even longer to convince your body to submit to the experience once again. In any case, once I got there, we were having a grand time until he asked me hand him his phone and I saw a notification pop up: “You have a new message on Grindr!’” My heart sunk. We broke up but I still needed a place to sleep. Later that night, wide awake in bed, I re-activated by own Grindr profile. Back to square one.
As I sit here late at night, sipping coffee and chain-smoking while I type this out on my chunky MacBook, I can’t think of any Carrie-isms to sum up my thoughts. I realized before I could love someone else, I needed to love myself? No, I do love myself. It’s not good enough. I realized that I was the problem? Perhaps. I’m too judgmental, I'm quick to right people off, and I think very highly of myself. But I don’t really feel like changing. I guess I'll just have to accept the fact that, as a gay man, I might have to wait a little longer than other people to find 'the one.' I made my bed with Satan and now I must lie in it, alone.
But when my soul mate does show up, he has a lot of fucking explaining to do. Where the fuck were you at, bro?
 For those of you who still believe in love, Grindr is set up as a series of squares in a grid, showing people on the app in close proximity to you. When you open your Grindr, your personal picture appears in the first square. Here, our author makes a tremendous pun involving the location of his picture on Grindr and the metaphorical concept of ‘starting from square one.’
I want you to want to make the most of the years that are prior to Senior year
I was you not that long ago. I was once an eager freshman, a searching sophomore, and a know-it-all junior. Now? Now I am a risk taker. Not the type that gets you in trouble with your parents, but the type that changes your future. Senior year is exciting. A lot of awesome things come along with being the top-dog of the school, but you, right now, are building the foundation for the next 4 years that you will spend in high school. I know you've heard it all. "Get involved", "You'll regret not going to prom", "You're going to miss this". As redundant as these seem, they're true. Although I am just at the beginning of my senior year, I am realizing how many lasts I am encountering.
I don't want to focus on talking about senior year right now though- I want you to want to make the most of the years that are prior to that. Find your niche. Whether it's sports, academics, music/theater- find it and embrace it. Don't let your friends determine that niche, because I can tell you that you will be shocked by the amount of "friends" you no longer speak to by senior year. I am involved in a little bit of everything- and I am so so glad I took that path. I beg you to find something you're passionate about and pursue it. Someway, somehow, throw yourself into the high school community. Go to football games, please. Yes you may look stupid wearing that night's themed outfit, yes your throat will burn from all the yelling, but you will have a blast. Don't be that underclassmen that is "too cool" to yell for the QB that just ran the ball 54 yards for the winning touchdown. Because you're not too cool. Yell, scream, cheer- these are your boys of fall. Support every sports team. It won't kill you to go sit through a soccer game even if you don't know the rules, just cheer for your home team! Go to the dance. Buy the dress you'll only wear once, get dolled up, and go. Don't worry about a date, go with friends. Dance, look stupid, sing your heart out, and take ridiculous amounts of pictures. Participate in spirit week, because how many other times in your life are you going to see what group of people can wear the best crazy socks? Exactly? Never.
Join a club! One of my favorite parts of high school was becoming the president of a community service club at my school. You will intermingle with people you would never see otherwise. This is your time to embrace ALL of these things that high school has to offer, so embrace them. Before you know it you'll be like me- 3 months until I wear my cap and gown and leave. You're going to miss this; don't leave with a single regret
Being a 20-year-old college student sitting on a bench, minding your own business, preparing for your second exam of the day. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? The night before, you talked to one of your best friends of eight years about her week at college, three hours away, and about her exciting internship offer.
Again, nothing new.
While looking over your notes, about 10 minutes before the exam is to commence, you're told to pack up your things and go outside to talk.
On Friday, March 24, 2017, I felt like my world had been turned upside down and stopped spinning. How could this happen to my best friend? I just talked to her last night. The following moments seemed to blur together as I called my mom, speaking through my sobs, hurried home to pack a bag of clothes, and flew down the interstate towards Wisconsin. Over a thousand thoughts went through my mind on that five-hour drive but I just could not wrap my head around the fact I was headed to an ICU in Madison, WI to see my best friend.
In times like this, it would have been all too easy to ask God, why?
Why did you do this?
Why Jenna? What did she do to deserve this?
Why now? She's only 20!
However, instead of taking this route, I chose to pray. I prayed for strength for myself, Jenna, The Preston Family, Tayler, Cody, and my own family. I prayed for the recovery of Jenna and that my best friend would be okay eventually.
I distinctly remember walking out of the hospital that night with a sense of ease, like God had put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Don't worry, I got this."
And he did.
The doctors originally told Jenna's parents it could take up to two years before she might walk or talk again. This accident occurred at the end of March and by her birthday, April 28, Jenna was able to walk into a benefit/birthday party for herself and speak with the all the of attendees.
If she isn't a miracle and true "God Sighting," then I don't know what is.
From witnessing all of this, I cannot begin to stress enough how the power of consistent and heartfelt prayer can work miracles. No matter If you are seeking simple answers, comfort, or guidance, present your troubles to God and let Him take the reins of your life. He wants you to turn to him at all times. I know there have been many, many moments in my life thus far that I have found comfort in putting all of my faith in Him.
It's so easy to interpret the answers to our prayers in the wrong way. When we don't receive the answer we want its simple to think our prayers are not being answered. If that's the case, don't stop and give up. Take a moment to look at all the ways your prayer could be answered. God will not always provide an obvious answer. He works in mysterious ways, whether it's using your prayer to guide you to take another step in a completely different direction or open your eyes to what is in front of you. He wants you to believe and trust Him. If your prayers aren't answered as you had planned for them to be, it's not because He isn't listening to you. Listen to Him no matter how crazy it may sound. Look at the all the ways in which your prayer could be answered. Do you see God working? If not, then that's okay. Keep praying, and ask Him to point you towards the right direction.
I urge everyone to never give up on trusting the Lord wholeheartedly. Although the road ahead is full of uncertainty, if let your faith become untouchable, so that no matter the situation, God will see you through the darkest and bright shining moments of life.
the highways are home
With Halloween quickly approaching, I have been talking to coworkers about what scares us. There are always the obvious things like clowns, spiders, heights, etc. But me? There are a number things I don't like: trusting strangers, being yelled at, being in life or death situations, parallel parking. All of these are included when you get behind the wheel of a car.
As most 16 year olds, I was so excited to get the freedom driving allows. In North Carolina, you're allowed to start Driver's Ed at 14 1/2 years old. Being a January baby, I took the class in July before my 15th birthday. The class goes over the rules and dos and donts of driving that a lot of people never follow (please turn your lights on when it is raining, I don't know why people never follow this rule). The most terrifying part of the class? This horrible video they play of the kids that got drunk and got into an accident. I'm sure nowadays they also have a texting and driving video that I thankfully never have to see. This video however didn't deter me from getting my license at the first chance I could because A) I'm hardheaded and B) When you're a teenager, you feel invincible.
At 23 years old, I feel my invincibility slipping away and my mortality running at me full force. I now think about things I never did before; what would happen if the roller coaster ran off the tracks, what if I fell off this ladder while cleaning the gutters, what if the lawnmower went berserk and the blade went flying off? You see what I mean? I over analyze every little thing now, which includes driving.
Think about it, you are putting your complete trust that all the other drivers on the road know what they're doing at all times. You are hoping that they're not texting, drunk, or sleeping, at least not while they're close to you. One time I seriously saw a girl watching Friends on Netflix while driving (I was a passenger). Don't get me wrong, Friends is a fantastic show but it's Netflix and Chill, not Netflix and Cruise.
In addition to worrying about everyone else, if you make one mistake, you are getting flicked off or cussed at by strangers.
And the worst part about driving? Seeing an accident in front of you and knowing that if you were going a little faster, or if you left a little earlier, it could have been you.
So the next time you get on the road, be a little more cautious, and try to follow the rules because driving is a serious matter and shouldn't be so terrifying.
It's my new favorite time of the year.
Nothing gets me more pumped up than the nice weather and the sights and sounds of the baseball season quickly approaching.
But before we can even get to that point of the 162 games that take up at least six months of our lives, we need to cover all of the bases with what happens beforehand. The monthlong love of spring training.
If you're like me, then you're lucky enough to be in one of the two states that host half of the MLB for this amazing spring season. It's even better when all of the stadiums are within reasonable driving distance from where you're located so you have endless choices for your weekend afternoon.
Even if you're not a baseball fan, it's still a good way for you to even catch a cheap game and spend some time for your friends, which is where the lawn seats will come in handy. Lawn seats are usually located in the outfield on some green grass with a whole field in front of you that usually includes kids running around in hopes of catching a home run ball from the players they idolize.
It's also something that many people don't get to experience, which is why it's so important to take advantage of living in a state that hosts spring training.
I think this is especially important as a student of a university close to these facilities because believe it or not, it kind of becomes a staple for the university and what they have to offer. I know that when I was deciding on what school I would like to attend because I knew it would keep me happy personally and maybe even offer some opportunities professionally.
Personally, I also enjoy it as a baseball fan because I get to go out and see teams and players that I don't get to see as often throughout the regular season.
Spring training is also a really good time to try and get autographs.
With the practices usually being in the morning and with games in the early afternoon, it makes it the perfect day activity whichever day of the week. The accessibility fans get during spring training is unlike any other where you get to watch your favorite players practice and walk past you on their way to another workout during their training in which they might stop by to sign some autographs or something.
Songs About Being 17
Grey's Anatomy Quotes
4 Leaf Clover
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign