Taylor Swift has done it yet again. Released an album that I've absolutely fell in love with. "Folklore" is magical, heart wrenching, and so incredibly done. Her storytelling is absolutely impeccable. I love listening to this album in quiet room and letting the lyrics take over. If you're hesitant to hear this "new" sound from Taylor Swift, then hopefully these seventeen reasons will change your mind. (The gifs are used for visual effect.)
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What happens when you're raised in two different cultures.
It has always been a balancing act of sorts. I was born in America, but I was raised in an Indian household. As one may imagine, there are certain facets of both cultures that conflict from time to time.
India, reminiscent of other cultures in Asia, is what is known as a collectivist culture. A collectivist culture, essentially, places the needs of the community or society above the individual. As opposed to celebrating the individual, in this specific culture, one is obligated to place the needs of the community first.
American culture tends to fall in line with individualistic cultures. The primary focus in this culture is the individual. Furthermore, self-reliance is celebrated in this culture as opposed to the tenets of the aforementioned one. Personal identity and carving out one’s own niche are focal points in individualistic cultures.
This clash of cultures is no more evident than in my own story. My parents and relatives had aspirations of me going to medical school one day. For a while, I chased that dream as a means of pleasing those closest to me. However, over time, I realized it was never my dream and that I was chasing it to make others happy.
I decided to enlist in the Army, and ultimately, joined the Infantry. This was a personal decision for me and one I made right before I graduated college. However, it was met with many reservations and some of my family members did not understand the rationale behind it.
My sister and I have always struggled with the inkling to follow our own desires and dreams. Family members and family friends always chime in with what they believe we should be doing. I still have family members come up to me to this day and ask if I’m going to medical school.
Often times, chasing one’s own goals is seen as selfish in Indian culture. However, in American culture, I am doing what is necessary and discovering my own identity. It’s equivalent to having two warring factions in one’s mind.
I have always been the writer in my family. A lot of my family members are extremely proficient in science and in math. Therefore, at family get-togethers everyone would take solace whereas I was, in many ways, the black sheep, so to speak.
I am done with my time in the Army, and I want to pursue Journalism. However, many in my family do not understand that as they implore me to pursue Journalism as a hobby. They are more concerned with my income.
It is merely a difference in perspectives. My parents came to America with little to no money and had to make a life for themselves. They did not have the choices or privileges I have grown accustomed to. As a result, they had to sacrifice their personal happiness for the good of their family.
I am proud to be Indian, and I am proud to be an American. Both cultures are forever a part of my overall identity. I truly believe my sister and I retain certain elements from both. I do not always agree with my parents; however, I have more of an understanding of the differences in perspective.
But millennials can change the game.
Millenials are pretty kick-ass at changing societal norms.
Once we've set our mind to standing up for something, we're pretty hard to turn away. With the power of social media at our fingertips and a pretty serious desire to have our voices taken seriously, we're willing to move mountains if we thinks it's important. We've challenged gender norms, racist tendencies, and showed the world that we won't stand for things we consider outdated. Leaving me with one plea: let's be the generation to nix the catcalling.
It wasn't cute when it started (I assume this began sometime in the 18th century when a suit-wearing man yelled "nice ankles" at a woman from his buggy), and it sure isn't cute now.
While cat-calling may seem harmless, it's far from that for a number of reasons. One, catcalling makes women feel objectified for doing things like walking, breathing, and trying to get where they need to go for the day. There a million times when it's perfectly acceptable to give someone an appropriate compliment...but unsolicited from your passing car just isn't one of them. Two, catcalling promotes the idea that women are simply there to be enjoyed by men, and as heartbreaking as this may be to some: that's not what women are here for. It never has been our purpose, and it never will be. Three, catcalling literally never goes like this: "You seem like you have a great personality and I'd love to get to know you better" (advanced apologies if you're "the one person who actually catcalls like this"); catcalling usually focuses only on superficial wants and desires. Four, catcalling is uncomfortable. It makes the person being catcalled feel weird, it makes the people around them privvy to things they probably don't want to hear, and it often doesn't stop at just a rude remark. Slowing down, pulling over and even approaching someone that you don't know seem to have become part of the territory...and it's unsafe territory. It's never acceptable to approach someone you don't know (or do know) with the intention of saying something that will deliberately put them in an awkward situation.
Last, but certainly not least, cat-calling just doesn't work. I'm really not sure when the perception arose that women love being harrased by random men on the street, but I've never once heard a "how we met" story that began with: "Well one day I was on my way to work and this cutie here yelled inappropriate things at me without my consent...and the rest is history". If that sounded silly, it's because it is. Noone, and I mean noone, finds it flattering or genuinely attractive when a grown-ass man screams at them when they walk past.
Moral of this story: the next time you consider cat-calling someone you find attractive, consider the alternatives. Tell them a funny pun, serenade them with a song, give them a flower you picked from the side of the road; really do just about anything other than yell, whistle or stare lewdly at them. The generation that has adressed just about every issue under the sun can most definitely be the generation that learns some new techniques.
She'll learn enough lessons to last a lifetime.
When you give a girl a Papa she'll have the best adventures.
She'll run around atop his shoulders and learn to fly. Her imagination will never run dry and she'll always be down for a laugh. He'll tell her stories and wipe away her tears. When you give a girl a Papa she'll have memories to last her years.
Papa is German for Dad but in America, it has become a slang term for grandpa. And while it is just a word, for some, it has a deeper meaning. Papa isn't just a grandfather, he's a best friend, the instigator of mischief, a protector, a storyteller, a rock, the strongest man you know and, most importantly, a hero.
Papa can turn ordinary, everyday activities into an adventure. From a young age, I was running behind him as quickly as my little legs could carry me ready for that day's adventure. I was always down for anything Papa was doing, following him in his daily chores and mimicking his every move. Cuddling up and watching sports in his lazy chair was my favorite time of the day because he always told the best stories. Sitting there hanging onto every word he said because it was the most important thing I ever heard.
Papa is full of experience and wisdom. His wise words provide comfort every time I am sad. He can always make me laugh to fight the tears away. I'm not sure how, but he always knows what to say to make me feel better. Papa is a fearless force that never bows and is never broken. He can weather all of the storms while smiling and laughing. I can only hope to have that resilience when facing life's problems. And when Papa was struggling with his own battles, I will stand right next to him, ready to fight and do all I can for him.
Papa can do a happy dance via the phone so he is the person to call when something good happens. He is always there to celebrate life and all its joy. And, even though he tried to hide them, he cried happy tears the day of my high school graduation. I pretended not to notice.
Leaving Nana and Papa's house is always the worst part of the trip. Driving away waving my hand in the air with tears welling in my eyes because I can't wait for the next adventure. Disappointing Papa was the scariest thing you I could think of, but I knew that he would never stay that way for long. There was always a lesson to learn from mistakes.
He is the man I model all men after. If they don't treat me the way Papa demonstrated, they are not worthy of my time. If they don't make me laugh or have that twinkle of passion in their eyes and fire in their soul like my Papa, then they aren't the man for me.
Papa is my hero. I would give anything to be like him, to stand strong and hold the world together when it just wants to fall apart. To be able to make anyone laugh and feel right at home. To fight for what I believe in and work hard to achieve my goals. To have charisma and charm. To deal with people who wrong me with class and kindness. To follow my faith with questions because that is the only way to make your beliefs stronger. To be the person everyone speaks of with a fond memory in their eye.
At the end of it all, he is my Papa and no one can take his place. I can and will drop anything to be by his side. He has shaped me into the person that I am working to be. I will always call him for advice and kind words.
Best friends come in many forms, but my favorite will always be my Papa.
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The middle of New York: Thousands of movie scenes, dozens of songs. We remember the chilling and horrifying Taxi Driver which graced the screens in 1976. Scorsese and his brilliancy. We remember a young Jodie Foster, trapped, afraid, abused on the midnight streets of a dirty and somber city that truly never sleeps. We remember Carrie, yes Carrie Bradshaw with her long, luscious blonde locks aimlessly wandering Madison avenue. So elegant even at the midnight hour. We can still hear Sinatra belt out his ode to the city that houses Central Park, MOMA, the MET, and now Taylor Swift in the summer. This city has character, it has value. It houses a double-entendre of danger and sex. Somehow, the danger transcends into a sexiness. If you can conquer New York, you can conquer anything (in the bedroom). The Big Apple, Gotham, The City that Never Sleeps, I had arrived.
I proceeded to seek solace inside of a Starbucks near Times Square. I needed to think. Lay out a plan. I was too distracted with my menagerie of music on the Greyhound to actually devise a game plan for the time until take off. I opened a large door that led into the coffee king’s layer. This Starbucks was bare and filled with loquacious late night individuals. I thought to myself, Damn, these are the famous New York vagrants. I went past the loiterers and immediately headed to the counter.
“Venti Iced Caramel Macchiato,” I said, sheepishly.
“Sure, thing,” Danny, the barista responded.
In the end, I actually did end up receiving my latte I had dreamed for. Danny quickly made the latte, faster than any barista I had ever scene. I always enjoyed the Starbucks scene. I always imagined the Starbucks Baristas as a little cult, a sort of exclusive, Gretchen Weiners, “You Can’t Sit With Us” mentality. They were elite, they were interesting, they were hipsters. Each and everyone possessed a different sort of talent and ability. Perhaps Barista A was a Master at the Macchiato while Barista B was a Lover of the Latte and an Aficionado of the Affogato. It was an art, an art that every Barista did differently, like Van Gogh and Dali: both elegant, genius, divine but in separate areas of study.
“Here sir,” Danny muttered.
“Thank you,” On Wednesday’s do you wear pink?
I sipped the delicacy. Danny had made it perfectly. The flavors of the milk danced the tango with the espresso quite well. The caramel drizzle perfectly blended its way through the mix adding subtle flavor. As I continued drinking my liquid courage, I popped open my laptop and started researching. I needed to figure out the schematics of JFK. I needed to know if I could hang out there for a long period of time. It was integral to the whole plan. My flight out of JFK was set to depart at 4 p.m. It was now 12:25 a.m. I had well over 14 hours to spare, 14 I did not want to spend alone in the streets of New York. While searching, I found a great blog that rates certain airports on their so called “sleep ability” and labels out the pros and cons of the experience clearly. I searched until I found what I was looking for: John F. Kennedy International Airport. Click. The browser refreshed and reappeared with a plethora of information on the iconic airport. I gazed for several minutes reading through reviews of different passengers recounting their experiences. For the most part, many travelers seemed to agree that the airport could entertain a wanderlust for hours. With six terminals, travelers explained that you could take the AirTrain to each one and explore the different seating arrangements. I kept on reading and discovered that certain terminals had better seating, better comfort, and well, better food. Upon making a conclusion, I figured out that Terminal 5 was the place to start.
I inputed the Terminal into google maps and Voila! It would take me one hour and three minutes to get to Terminal 5 (that had a Dunkin Donuts and comfortable chairs.) I had to take the E Train for the majority of the trip followed by the AirTrain in Jamaica. I had to rely on Starbucks WiFi to get the directions because I had no data at the time. I had to take a screenshot of the step-by-step directions to avoid getting lost in the New York underground during a somewhat sketchy part of the night. I surveyed the establishment around me and thought it was best to go. The Starbucks drifters were beginning to pile in and I was not in the mood to hear their stories of wayward pasts and disheveled futures. I quickly packed away my backpack and flung it onto my back. Damn this thing is so heavy. I quickly clenched my fists in pain and started the trek out the door.
I headed back to the bus terminal where a subway station lied underneath. This would be the point of entrance to catch the E Train. It was getting colder and tiny snowflakes had started to fall. One happened to grace the tip of my nose. I gazed at it, cross-eyed and in wonder. I truly did love the snow. Enduring an East Coast Winter for the first time was definitely an experience.
Once I made my way into the terminal I darted downstairs to the station and went to the Fare Machine. I took out my Visa and punched in the information. I slid my card in and waited. What the hell. The screen froze. Betwixt and befuddled, I waited for the screen to return to the beginning. I tried the same steps again. Still, the same result was boded. I tried a third time, and after that I was stumped. I realized I could not check my Chase balance via the application because of the data problem. I quickly texted the shortcode CHASE and Bal and within seconds received incredulous information. Oh my god. The maleficent machine had stolen my money. I was aghast with horror. I had already lost so much money on the Greyhound, the Uber, and now this. I was pissed. Hell, I was in a rage. I set my eyes on an attendant’s station and raised over there to give my two cents (which I had lost times 500.)
“Is there a problem,” Rhonda, the attendant, quailed. F'k yeah there’s a problem
“Yes, the machine stole my money. I tried several times to get a ticket, but nothing happened. It charged me for each failed transaction.”
“Happens a lot. I’m afraid. Call this number,” she handed me a card. “They should be able to help you.” You mean you cannot help me?!
“Oh, so there’s nothing you can do?”
“No,” she barked. I was stunned. I had never heard of such foolishness. Of course, when I tried to call there was no answer, just a lousy answering machine regretting to inform me that I had not reached the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority during normal business hours.
They hide in silence
Where we corrupt them with our own words
Where we can never hear them because
the only way you can hear is not to speak.
In the sky
It's their turn to watch us.
Watch as we fight our own and go to war
Watch as we release our foreign venom, slowly killing the air
Watch as we bury our dead and honor our just born
Watch as we think ourselves heroes and villains
Watch as we judge one another for the color of skin.
They laugh, for we are the same to them.
Why can't we see that, they ask?
But we don't answer because we have never cared to listen.
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