Someone Like You

I’m not sure if it’s an aftereffect of too much turkey on Thanksgiving day, but when I saw this performance for the first time last night I cried. And when I say I cried, I felt like a blubbering teenager after her first heartbreak.

I have loved Adele and her music from day one. Adele’s debut album, 19, is unfairly lumped in with artists like Winehouse and Duffy, and although good, there is an obvious, raw talent in this 22-year-old that outshines the others. Her new album, 21, will be released early next year. Adele has said it has a country, gospel, disco sound, influences from her time touring in America. And although initially wary, I am now more than excited for her sophomore release.

Someone Like You has the emotion, reality and nostalgia that seeps in under your skin and stays there days after.

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Ultimate Favorite Thing: Higher Education

A gossip blog I happen to follow had a discussion post for Oprah’s annual Favorite Things episode on Friday. I’m sure half of those leaving comments were there to laugh at the reactions of Oprah’s audience members. They are ridiculous and over the top . . . people kissing the ground and shouting to the skies, tears of joy, speechless awe. I switched on my TV thinking it’d be on at 3 p.m. in Chicago to only find out that my area doesn’t get Oprah until 11 p.m. It’s safe to say I did not catch Oprah’s final Favorite Things episode.

Today I was curious enough to google what items were on this year’s list. A Caribbean cruise? It’s not as nice as the all expenses paid trip to Australia, but I’m sure Oprah will make sure those on this cruise will not be stuck at sea with bad food and stifling heat waiting to be tugged back to shore. I clicked on random links and articles and I stumbled upon a comment about one audience member who planned to sell his gifts for charity.

And so my Google journey continued fully expecting to see numerous articles on the charitable man from Oprah’s Favorite Things episode. I scrolled past the countless articles on the specific items and the pictures posted on the HuffPo, but I was only rewarded with one article mentioning this kind and charitable act. But that one article had a comment that would tell me about the great Hinche Scholars Project.

Like many of the audience members invited to Oprah’s Favorite Things episodes, they are usually people who have given to others (teachers, community leaders, volunteers, etc.). Danny Yates, a student at the College of William and Mary, was invited to the taping for his efforts in Haiti after January’s catastrophic earthquake. Yates’ project focuses on higher education and the rehabilitation and growth of Haiti’s intellectual infrastructure.

Here is a college student who is putting his free gifts on eBay to help Haitian students receive the higher education they deserve. Here is a project that deserves more exposure and support. I know it’s the holiday season, so the articles on gift ideas from Oprah’s listed items are inevitable. But where’s the holiday cheer and charitable giving that should accompany the consumerism hoopla?

Learn more about donating and the Hinche Scholars Project here.

Hello Chicago

As I skim my last post, I will stand by my belief that Michigan is still a lovely, beautiful state with tremendous potential for economic growth.

That said, one must also be able to follow his or her goals, dreams and gut instincts.

I like many other young graduates from the states surrounding the Great Lakes all felt that pull to the Windy City. How will I stand out from the competition? How will I handle the transition from small town to big metropolis?

I feel neither lost or quite at home . . . just yet. I have met new business contacts, wonderful house mates and kind neighbors. Lincoln Park provides the quiet suburban life within the bustling and chaotic city that I think most people my age can appreciate.

As for the reality of my job search, I am still positive! The first few weeks in the city required a duration of tedious but necessary errands and long walks getting lost in my neighborhood. The past two weeks finally introduced me to the world of job applications and interviews in Chicago. I am crossing my fingers for a certain position at the moment, but the one thing I have learned about myself is that I have the world to offer. I am young, talented, blessed with education and ready to make a name for myself. Some may view my thoughts as naive and far too hopeful. Why shouldn’t I be? It is better to stay positive and continuously think of ways to apply one’s skills to a field of interest than to mope and wait for an opportunity.

In the mean time, I have already found a few restaurants and bars I love! HI-TOPS (formerly Gin Mill) is a bar reminiscent of East Lansing, Mich. where MSU alumni can watch Sparty win spectacularly (Go GREEN! 8-1!) or lose in an embarrassing 6-37 defeat to Iowa (I was unfortunately there to witness this horrific event).

Should I be ashamed to admit that I have already dined three times at a corner bistro in my neighborhood? No. $4 wine glasses on Wednesdays and $4 margaritas on Thursdays at John’s Place on the corner of Webster and Racine. I think my friends and I have visited enough places to be able to write out a deals cheat sheet/guide/zagat for the week.

But the one place I enjoyed most has to be HomeMade Pizza off Armitage. It’s not to-die-for pizza. It definitely does not beat the pizza al taglio of Rome I had last summer. But it surprisingly is the most emotional and healthy pizza I have had in a long time. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s worth it when you get a freshly made pizza with fantastic ingredients to stick in your own oven at home. To top it off, they will send you a follow-up email with a coupon if you join their loyalty/frequent customers card promotion!

I’m sure these places aren’t secret, hidden gems waiting to be discovered. However, they’re nice places I’ll forever associate with my first few weeks here.

Today marks the one month anniversary of my great move to the city. I have no regrets, and I feel nothing but hope, eagerness and elation for my future.

Dear Twitter: You Have Arrived

A group of university students head down to the Peanut Barrel for drinks on Thursday night. They discuss the Spartans’ chances at the Final Four. (Oh Duke, you’re too good. Coach K can leave to the Nets now.) Someone pays a guy $5 to shoot ketchup down his throat. Old friends and acquaintances awkwardly run into each other on one party’s obvious date. But the most passionate and heated conversation was surprisingly about Twitter.

Yes, Twitter has arrived. Not in the sense that The Today Show is parading outside showing the crowd funny tweets, or Jon Stewart is hilariously ranting about the “phenomenon,” or that CNN is using obscure tweets to confirm a breaking new story. It’s all been done . . . and a year ago.

Twitter is finally reaching that one audience. These are the people who learned about Twitter on a news report or read about a celebrity tweet in People just a few months ago. These are the people that believed that the concept of reading people’s updates narcissistic and ridiculous. They fought long and hard, fervently arguing with anyone who tried to explain Twitter as a useful social media platform.

The guys at our table rolled their eyes as we checked our Facebook and Twitter updates on our phones.

“You’ll get one in about 6 weeks. Mark my words,” said my friend.

It was four against three. I should disclose the four of us were all communication or advertising majors and the guys engineering and social science focused. However, I don’t think our majors today would be a heavy factor in deciding to use Twitter or not.

It’s about that time when everybody realizes Twitter has made it. It’s about that time when changes and improvements are needed that will separate Twitter as a passing fad and trend to a truly lasting and remarkable form of social media. I’m not arguing if social media is here to stay. It is here to stay, but it will
look differently in the years to come. But right now, the crucial question is how it will stay relevant and useful to us? What separates MySpace and Twitter?

Two freshman I know entered the world of Twitter today. One said she felt like a senior citizen when it came to Twitter. She was completely unaware about my joke using hashtags and pleaded for my help to better understand the mysterious, complicated world of Twitter. Neither of them have posted many tweets and their following list consists mostly of popular celebrities like Conan O’Brien and Justin Bieber. Will they use Twitter the way I use it? Will they use it to follow real-time breaking news? Will they use the search engine to follow specific events and conferences? Will they use it to voice their opinions? Perhaps they will use it the way I and many people in the public relations and advertising industry do.

It’s unfortunate that I’m throwing those freshmen into this category, but they simply arrived at the same time as the “unwanted” Twitter user. They’re usually last to arrive, and suddenly, Twitter seems uncool. It seems as though it’s constantly marked by problems and annoyances. Twitter has arrived at its crucial point. Sink or float . . . or chirp successfully away as a golden standard for social media. There are too many tweets and suddenly the user you were following for the Academy Awards is gone because a blue “fail whale” carried by chirping birds signifies that the Twitter server is down, flooded with too many messages to handle. You look at your home page and all the tweets are posted by that one, annoying user. Your search results yield a bunch of spam tweets. Oh, look! Justin Bieber is 3 out of the 10 trending topics. Or worse, the top five trending topics are stupid phrases like #boysliewhen and #Hollaifyogirlahoe (Also highly inappropriate, but what exactly is the age limit for Twitter? You would think pre-teens with Justin Bieber trending every day, but then you learn the median age of a Twitter user is 31. You then realize how much more scared you are for society.).

Nick Bilton of the New York Times pleaded for filters to ensure that Twitter remains as relevant and addictive as it is today. Some phone applications already have features that filter certain phrases or hashtags. How do you control the flow of information on a microblogging network that is renowned for open flow of tweets at a rapidly fast and real-time pace?

Twitter, you have certainly arrived. But will you be staying?

University Traditions . . . I Think I Smell a Burning Couch

Spring Break and St. Patrick’s Day are long and gone, but now is a time most Michigan State Spartans cherish. March begins the month of March Madness and culminates in the Final Four in April where I hope to see the Spartans in the championship game.

ESPN has written countless articles within the last week praising Tom Izzo for his pure genius and strategy. He is the Lord of the Dance. Not since being ranked No. 2 in the pre-season has anyone believed that the Spartans could make it this far—but they have. With that surprise and exhilaration comes a shared sense of community, team spirit and camaraderie on the MSU campus. Students gather in dorm rooms and bars to watch buzzer beating games, and then pour out into the streets of Grand River when the Spartans clinch yet another unbelievable win. But after those wins, there is always a sense of excitement . . . and threat.

I checked my Twitter and Facebook feeds after the Sunday win and smiled at the “FINAL FOUR!” comments. However, I also saw many comments such as “RIOTING!” and “HIDE YOUR COUCH!” I even laughed at a web site a friend sent me that posted the riot status of East Lansing. Don’t worry, as of now it currently displays the following: “There is not a riot in East Lansing . . . Keep it that way. After all, you’ll need that couch to watch the Final Four!”

As a Spartan, I can casually laugh off this usual feeling. However, I cannot support the sentiment that couch burning is a tradition with students supporting it with such enthusiasm. I don’t enjoy it when a family friend reduces my degree at Michigan State University because of a few people who chose to burn couches and start riots. There are Pulitzer Prize winning alumni, celebrated professors, and world changing grants at this university. I am a student that can work hard and play even harder, but I know when to hold back.

This weekend is the Final Four game. Supposedly, it is also Cedar Fest weekend. I know exactly where I was when CNN Headline released the footage of the running cops, burning couches and naked girls. The network replayed that newsreel all day. I never felt more embarrassed. There are a number of traditions I love about Michigan State, but I never want to see rioting and couch burning cherished and honored with the enthusiasm we have for March Madness. Save it for the boys and Izzo.

I’m a Billionaire Because I Read & Write

Four years living in East Lansing and I finally opened an East Lansing Public Library card last week. My peers like to ask me why I would read when it isn’t assigned for class. Why not?

Reading a good novel has done wonders for my stress levels. There’s nothing like being caught up in an imaginary world or feeling sympathy for a character as though he were your little brother. I graduate in May, but I am using my public library card as much as possible. (My roommate would later inform me that the Michigan State Library would be able to reserve any book within the state of Michigan for me, but who wants to wait to read that latest murder thriller? I’m still waiting for Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.)

Recently, author Toby Young, criticized J.K. Rowling for being an undeserved billionaire and stated that Harry Potter would be “a distant memory.” Sorry to inform you Mr. Young, but Harry Potter reignited the passion for reading for millions of children . . . and even some adults. Rowling’s novels have probably inspired an entire generation to write even better and unique stories than her own.

Yes, Rowling is a billionaire. But I’d rather a woman, who wrote charming, memorable stories about a boy named Harry Potter and his wizarding friends, be a rich billionaire than some unpopular Wall Street boss. Now that is undeserved.

Can you hear me? Check. Check. Ahem.

I’ve joined the blogging world! Hurrah!

In the title of my blog: my clarity & cyanide.

I am a true idealist at heart. A dreamer. An optimist. Imagination flows over every thought that enters my mind. There will be times of insight and clarity. And I forewarn, perhaps other times a smidgen of cyanide… thoughts and events a little toxic to everyone, yet should be discussed.

I’m a 20-something university student who has the Internet, essentially a large portion of the world, as her audience. I might as well express myself.

This is my perspective and I am hoping it is my clarity that overcomes the cyanide.