MADDIE

Last week, I got news that my friend died. And I will never forget how it felt to have my heart slowly sink like an anchor falling to the bottom of the ocean. 

I’ve always struggled with the idea of how others grieve in a time of social media.  Because the nature of social media is inherently competitive (who has the most followers, who is having the most fun, who is getting the most likes), I feel like when someone dies it turns into a competition of who is the saddest and who knew the person best.  It adds a strange element to grieving- someone’s facebook wall instantly turns into a memorial of dug up photos and lengthy messages. Not to say this is a bad thing at all- death is such a weird thing for the human brain to try to understand; it’s only natural that people might behave in all sorts of strange ways in reaction to death.  

I’m writing here because, honestly, it’s all I have been able to think about since hearing the news. I feel guilty because I feel like it’s not my place to talk about someone who I know others knew far better than I did.  But she was so strangely intertwined in various parts of my life that I feel like I need to say my piece with it all.  So here’s my observation of Miss Madison DeVries:

I met Maddie through my family friend, Kristina.  Kristina and I have known each other for at least 15 years, and because of our one year age difference, I’ve always looked at her like a little sister.  I met Maddie my sophomore year of college when Kristina introduced me to all of her roommates (they happened to live in the same dorm I did my first year at Carolina).  The next year, my friend group decided to pass down our “super suite” dorm room (a fancy dorm room in Morrison residence hall that features a living room- WOWWW) to Kristina and her friend group.  We were so excited to know that a place we held so dearly and had so many memories in was going to a group we also knew, loved, and trusted to love the space just as much as we did.  Strangely enough, their friend group then lived in the apartment complex I lived in last year.  Every year I looked forward to touring Kristina and her friends around my place, showing them the footsteps they could follow in. 

I connected with Maddie more individually when we found ourselves on the same Mountain Weekend trip in 2018.  Maddie had been brought on the trip by a boy she liked- she knew he liked her back but didn’t quite know where the relationship was going yet.  It was adorable to watch all the girls on the trip crowd around her in a room while she gushed and asked for advice on how to ask him about defining the relationship.  The boys on the trip sat clueless upstairs while we all giggled and came up with a game plan collectively. I realized as she confided in me that I saw her the same way I had seen Kristina all these years. It felt like I had known her for years- and from what I hear she had that same effect on countless others.  I felt strangely protective over her- like she was a little sister I wanted to guide and protect just like Kristina. 

So the conversation with the boy that night went well, and I remember the next morning her beaming smile when she told the girls they had decided to start dating.  As the year went on, several of us who were dating boys in the same fraternity became good friends. I would soon expect to see Maddie at all of the parties, cocktails and tailgates I was headed to- and I was always greeted with the biggest smile and biggest hug- as was anyone who entered that house.  I knew she was someone I could confide in and go to if the night wasn’t going well. 

Senior year, my roommate, Stella, started a travel agency.  Maddie, always being one to help her friends out, immediately asked Stella if she could help her plan her spring break trip to Europe. Stella had also been on that Mountain weekend trip, and we always gushed about how adorable we thought Maddie was.  Throughout the winter I would find Maddie randomly popping by my house to work out the trip with Stella- which was such a pleasant surprise. She would stop by at the most random times- which was never a burden because of all of the good energy she brought in the front door. It didn’t matter how bad my day was going- something about Maddie made me smile while she was here.  She had this constant excitement about everything- I remember her peaking in each room in our hallway, complimenting and giddy about something as simple as the decor in each of our bedrooms. 

I will not say that Maddie and I were best friends, because we weren’t.  But how lucky I was to have known such pure light.  I don’t think she is someone I could ever forget- and that is why I have struggled so much to think that I won’t be able to tell her how amazing I thought she was. 

However, I know nothing about the spirit world, and she could be looking over my shoulder right now as I type this.  So here I’ll say what I wish I could’ve:

Hey Maddie, 

I’m listening to Kanye as I write this, because I remember that was a love you and I bonded over. I realized I adored you when I heard you brought a cardboard cutout of him into our super suite, and still remember the look on your face when you walked into my Yeezy themed 21st birthday party. I read that your favorite quote was “the light in me honors the light in you”, which is so strange because the other day I sat down to draw and I ended up drawing you.  I’m not sure why, but I wrote “pure light” beside it (completely unaware of your favorite quote), because that is what I think of you and that is what you are – pure light.  I wonder if you knew people would think of light when they thought of you. My memory of you will always be happy and giggling, and I hope that’s what you’re doing right now. I hope you’re at peace sweet girl, I’ll always be thinking about you.  

Love, 

Claire 

Art of the day: This is such a random memory, but I have a distinct visual memory of Maddie on her private snapchat story dancing to and reviewing the album JACKBOYS when it dropped in December. She was so excited about it.  I ask that you pick a song off the album and dance by yourself to it without a care in the world for her. 

__

If you have the means, please consider donating to Maddie’s memorial fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/memorial-fund-for-maddie-devries?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link-tip&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&fbclid=IwAR1Uojv-o3JDr9MZHgK8czPU-3GuM602rkrd27hP4mWevuGtIJAMVNYTH1E

KEEP THESE CHAPEL HILL RESTAURANTS IN BUSINESS

As we all know, COVID-19 is having a huge impact on  small businesses right now. As a native Chapel-Hillian, I always thought that writing a blog of restaurant recommendations would be fun.  Now, I feel it is my duty to share some favorites with anyone who doesn’t already know about these restaurants I have known and loved for so many years (in some cases, my entire life).  

I know a lot of people are hesitant to get take out right now- I definitely am.  If you have the ability to do so, here’s how I believe you can be as safe as possible to take out restaurant food in a time of COVID-19:

  1. Call ahead and ask what the restaurant’s takeout process is- are they offering pickup or delivery? Do they wear gloves the entire time? Make sure you are comfortable and confident in the way that this particular restaurant is keeping your food clean and COVID free. 
  2. Order your food, and ask to pay (AND TIP!!!) ahead of time, so you don’t have to give them your card.  Many restaurants are allowing an easy online or app for ordering and paying.
  3. If you go to pick up the food, ask the take out person if it’s possible for them to place the bags in the trunk of your car- there should be no physical contact between you and the restaurant worker.  Many places will have you just walk up and pick up the food yourself from a designated spot. If that is the case, then place the food in the trunk and use hand sanitizer to clean your hands before you touch your car door, steering wheel, etc.  Many places are also offering delivery which can be left at your front door. However you end up getting the food the following steps can help keep you safe:
  4. Once home, make sure your kitchen countertop is clean. You can put a plastic bag on the countertop if you have one as a designated spot where you will set down the food bag.  If you don’t have a plastic bag, then designate an area that is for the food bag and have another area that is a clean area.
  5. Wear gloves if possible to go get  the takeout bags.
  6. Have a friend or family member take out plates and put on the clean area of the counter.
  7. With your gloves still on, remove containers from take out bag, open the containers, and empty the food on to the plates- DO NOT TOUCH THE FOOD
  8. Throw away or recycle the containers and bag as well as the gloves.  Also throw away the plastic bag if you used one on the counter. If you set the take out directly on the counter, then disinfect the counter once all food has been moved to plates and you have disposed of containers and bags.
  9. If you do not have gloves, then follow the same process of setting down the bag and emptying containers onto clean plates without touching the food.  Disinfect counter top. Be sure to disinfect any other areas – door knobs, car door, etc that you might have touched after handling takeout bags. Make sure not to touch your face with or without gloves on.
  10. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds regardless of whether or not you had gloves to wear..   

So, whether you’re a Chapel Hill Native, a college student, someone who just moved here or an incoming first year looking for recs, here is my list of the restaurants around town you should support (you can thank me later) 

411 WEST 

phone number: (919) 967-2782

website: https://www.411west.com 

Since I was 3 years old, I have always had my birthday dinner at 411 West. Every. Single. Year. I have so many memories at 411- from first dates, to preschool graduations, to prom dinner, to dinners with professors, friends, and family- I’m not sure many places can top 411 to me.  An upper-scale Italian restaurant, this place is just the perfect spot for a nice meal. Whether you want homemade pasta, pizza, or a steak, you will never leave without a full stomach. When this is all over, go on a nice warm day and ask to sit on the patio by the koi pond- there’s a beautiful glass roof overhead full of natural sunlight.

My recommendation: whole wheat fettuccine OR chicken masala with spaghetti instead of mashed potatoes.

COSMIC CANTINA

Phone number: (919) 960-3955

Website: http://places.singleplatform.com/cosmic-cantina-chapel-hill/menu?ref=google#menu_1954904

I am not kidding when I say my roommates and I get cosmic at least twice a week, sometimes more.  This place is the HIDDEN GEM of Chapel Hill. Cosmic has the best Mexican food for the best price around town.  And, when all of this is over, after a night out, go there for some late night drunchies, the place is open till 4:00am. 

My recommendation: Chicken Deluxe Burrito with habanero sauce on the side (be warned, it’s hot)

CARBURRITOS

Phone number: (919) 933-8226

Website: http://carrburritos.com/carrboro/

If you want fresh salsa made from scratch daily or to try the best chips in the entire state, you’ve got to order from carrburritos.  Named after the town it’s in, Carrburritos is one of the first places you see when you go into Carrboro from Franklin Street. My mouth literally is watering just thinking about being in there again.  When this is all ever, take an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile there to catch up- sit on the patio if it’s a nice day and drink horchatas and/or margaritas 

My recommendation: Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla with a basket of chips.  Make sure to get both the fresca and verde salsas to dip. Horchata to drink.  The mejor burrito equally slaps.

ARMADILLO GRILL

Phone number:  (919) 929-4669

Website: https://armadillogrill.com/

If you went to Chapel Hill High School anywhere from around  2010-2016, this place probably means a great deal to you. Like Cosmic ,this place is cheap, good Mexican food and is known for massive groups scooching tables together to fit 30 or more people to dine.  In high school, we would go before football games, after theatre performances, or just when you just wanted to chill with some friends on a budget.  

When this is all over, go here with a bigger group of people and sit outside and watch the cars go by.

My recommendation: 3 kids quesadillas.  As a kid, I would put down like 8 of these -they are so good.  The tortillas are all made fresh and melt in your mouth.  

SPICY 9 

Phone number: (919) 903-9335

Website: http://www.spicy9chapelhill.com/

Spicy 9 made me like sushi. All rolls come buy one get one, so you end up getting 16 rolls of two different kinds to try.  They don’t only have sushi, they have amazing pad thai, spring rolls, and various chicken dishes. Their list of sushi dishes goes on forever, and there is most certainly something for everyone.  When this is all over, take your best friends here and do some sake bombs at the dinner table.

My recommendation: Philly Rolls and Spicy Nine rolls.  Good god they are good. 

MS MONGS

Phone number: (919) 933-5277

Website: https://www.facebook.com/msmongrestaurant/

If you haven’t tried Mongolian food now is the time.  You can get a bowl or burrito of your choice of unlimited meats, veggies, rice, and sauce for like $9.  When this is all over, go here for a casual weekday dinner. 

My recommendation: Large bowl (for leftovers) with beef, chicken, pork, tofu, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, onion, green onion, zucchini, mushrooms, brown rice, and original sauce on the side.

SUNRISE BISCUIT KITCHEN

Phone number: (919) 933-1324

Website: http://sunrisebiscuits.com/

I have tons of memories of my dad walking in my house Sunday mornings with Sunrise Biscuits in hand.  This place is inexpensive, and has big, delicious biscuits. It’s also a tiny drive through spot anyway, so they have this whole thing down. When this is all over, go grab some biscuits when you’re hungover the next morning. You will instantly feel better. 

My recommendation: either a chicken and cheese biscuit or a country ham biscuit with a cinnamon roll and a sweet tea.  Honestly just get it all.

BRUEGGERS BAGELS 

Phone number:  (919) 929-5524

Website: https://www.brueggers.com/

If you want just a good bagel, do not go anywhere else but Brueggers.  I also have tons of memories of family friends getting together for lunch here. They have a huge selection and also make their own cream cheeses. You can just about get any combination of bagel and cream cheese here, and their bagel sandwiches are also amazing.  When this is all over, go here if you have a car and a long break between classes. Also when you’re hungover.

My recommendation: Honey grain bagel toasted with honey walnut cream cheese. So. Fire. 

MERRITT’S

Phone number: (919) 942-4897

Website: https://www.merrittsblt.com/

Merits is an iconic place in Chapel Hill to get a sandwich, so much so that there is a mini Merits now on UNC campus.  The restaurant itself doesn’t have that many seats, so it’s perfect to get a to go here. Everything just tastes so fresh- from the bread to the meat to the cheeses. 

My recommendation: if you don’t get a BLT on sourdough when you go to Merits something is wrong with you.

PURPLE BOWL

Phone number: (919) 903-8511

Website: https://www.purplebowlch.com/

Since PB opened a few years ago, it has been a non stop hit for students and native Chapel Hillians.  I don’t think I’ve been there once without seeing a friendly face. Purple Bowl sells everything healthy, but their specialty is acai bowls. Most, if not all, ingredients are also locally sourced. It’s also worth mentioning that PB has their system DOWN for cleanliness in the time of COVID. When this is all over, go here after a run with your gym buddy.

My recommendation: a regular Appalachian trail bowl, hold the lavender and a side of avocado toast

ELMO’S DINER

Phone number: (919) 929-2909

Website: http://elmosdinercarrboro.com/

If any of my high school theatre friends are reading this, you already KNOW I had to include Elmos. Elmo’s has literally everything on the menu- you want breakfast? Sure.  Lunch? ‘You bet. Dinner? Yeah buddy. Honestly every time I go to Elmo’s I get something different, and it’s always good. I love their pancakes and waffles, their sandwiches are great, and I also love their salads. Regardless, get home fries on the side of any meal.  Go here with a big group for breakfast/brunch- extra points if they’re your long time high school theatre friends.

My recommendation: This is for you Anna Zurliene: Vegetarian Greek Grilled Cheese with home fries on the side.

AL’S BURGER SHACK

Phone number: (919) 904-7659

Website: https://www.alsburgershack.com/

Al’s burgers was nominated and crowned the best burger in the USA in 2019 for a reason.  This is the best burger you will ever have.  And that’s all I have to say. When this is all over, go on a Friday afternoon to kick off the weekend with your best friends- get the food to go and grab a beer and eat at the beer study next door.

My recommendation: a bacon cheeseburger with onions, lettuce, ketchup and Al’s special sauce. Vegetarian option: cauliflower burger.  Get a side of half and half regular fries and sweet potato fries. 

ACME

Phone Number:  (919) 929-2263

Website: https://acmecarrboro.com/menu/

A friend of mine from high school’s dad is the head chef at Acme, so I know you’re in good hands. This is more upscale brunch, but the ambiance and the food make it so worth it.  They also have really yummy dinners. When this is all over, take your parents here for brunch on parents’ weekend. Make sure to convince them to get the homemade donuts for the table to start. 

My recommendation: I’m not sure exactly what they call it, but I love their eggs benedict. As I said before, you also need to try their donuts.

KIPOS

Phone number: (919) 425-0760

Website: https://kiposchapelhill.com/

Like Merit’s, Med Deli is good enough to be put on campus.  Additionally, it happens to be the first place my roommate Gracie and I met each other before starting school.  This place is what it sounds like, a Mediterranean Deli full of all the Mediterranean foods you could dream of. When this is all over, take someone here for the first time you meet them.

My recommendation: a veggie fatayer.  The best way I describe these is a “Mediterranean pizza” but much, much better. 

CHOLONAD

Phone number:  (800) 246-5262

Website: https://cholanad.com/

The people who work at Cholanad know my roommate Pablo and I by name because of how often we are there.  This place has some of the best Indian food in town. When this is all over, take your parents to Cholonad, if they can take the heat. 

My recommendation: Chicken Tikka Masala, garlic naan for the table, and a mango lassi to drink. Also any of their dosas are amazing. 

CHIMNEY

Phone number: (984) 234-3671

Website: https://www.ezcater.com/catering/pvt/chimney-indian-kitchen-3

 Chimney is right down the road from Cholonad, and it is also really dank Indian food.  Slightly cheaper than Cholonad, Chimney definitely has the best naan bread around town.  When this is all over, go with your friends on a random Tuesday night to treat yo selves. Or go to their all you can eat buffet! 

My recommendation: Their Lamb Kashmiri Rogan is to die for.  Get lots of garlic naan to share. 

OPEN EYE CAFE

Phone number: (919) 968-9410

Website: https://openeyecafe.com/

Open eye is where I used to study during high school and my dad would grab coffee after his Saturday runs.  If you don’t know what I mean by a “Carrboro” atmosphere, you will get it here. You will normally find people all weekend just chilling and sipping their strong but delicious coffee. When this is all over, take your homework to Open Eye. 

My recommendation: honestly, whatever you normally get. It’s gonna be good

BEAN TRADERS

Phone number: (919) 484-2499

Website: https://beantraderscoffee.com/

Bean Traders is down the road a little bit in Durham, but has the best coffee I have ever tasted in the entirety of my life. Hands down. No debating and/or disputing.  That’s all I need to say. 

My recommendation: iced vanilla latte with oat milk instead of regular milk.  Also get a banana nut muffin.  

The reality is, Chapel Hill is just the loveliest place. Anywhere you stop to eat, or in this time, get takeout- will be just as lovely. 

______________________________________________________________________________

Art of the day:  One of my best friends and roommates, Jaein makes recycled jewelry.  I particularly love these earrings. 

MY FRIENDS AND I WENT ON SPRING BREAK BEFORE EVERYTHING FELL APART

So, I’m back from my little hiatus from blogging.  I was on vacation, and then well, everything went to shit around the world once I got back.   To be honest, I haven’t really had the energy or motivation to do much of anything these past few weeks, so blogging has taken a back seat for a little bit. 

I don’t want to get into COVID right now because that’s all anyone has to talk about these days, though I’m sure a post will be coming at some point in the next few weeks about how hard I’ve personally been taking this. 

For now, I just want to share a bit of my happiness.  

About a month ago, my best friends and I raced time and squeezed in one last big hurrah of college: we road tripped to Miami and then sailed away to the Bahamas as we’d planned for our spring break from the beginning of the year.

Instead of being sad and jealous of my past self- the girl you will see in the video below roaming free in restaurants to beaches to friggin CRUISE SHIPS– things that seem unfathomable now, I am so so grateful that I had that time to enjoy life to the absolute fullest.

So here’s a snippet of my spring break- I hope it gives you a little glimpse of how happy it makes me to look back on

Art of the day: I’ve talked about this song in previous blog posts, but it just doesn’t get old.  I feel like “After the Storm” by Kali Uchis speaks directly to this time. 

7 WAYS TO PREVENT CONTRACTING CORONAVIRUS

I realized after my last blog post that while I did address the myths of coronavirus and the fact that there is no need for panic and chaos to ensue, I didn’t really say anything helpful to you (other than reasons to not freak out).

Now that I’ve thoroughly researched what is public knowledge about the virus, it’s time to prepare in the best way that my loved ones and I can.

My mom forwarded me a post written by a doctor friend on Facebook, and I found the tips within it to be pretty helpful.

Note that my tips below are also helpful when thinking about the flu or cold viruses (which are more common)

Therefore, to match my 7 myths about coronavirus post, here’s my 7 ways to help prevent contracting and spreading coronavirus:

TIP #1: DO NOT HANDSHAKE OR HIGH FIVE

Save it for another time. You can fist bump or air high-five, but direct contact with someone else’s hands is just not a good idea. We use our hands for EVERYTHING, and they come into contact with our eyes, nose, and mouth far more than we realize each day.

TIP #2: DON’T TOUCH PUBLIC OBJECTS WITH YOUR HANDS

Think about how many people touch light switches, gas pumps, shopping carts, credit card pads, doorknobs, door handles, etc. Avoid touching public objects as much as you can. It’s a smart idea to wear disposable gloves for things like pumping gas, use a tissue as a barrier between touching a doorknob and your hands, or switch off the lights with your knuckle instead. If you have to touch something, be sure to wash hands immediately afterwards.

TIP #3: WIPE DOWN EVERYTHING

Stock up on hand wipes and chlorox wipes whenever you can. Nightly, I’ve been wiping down all the common areas in my house so that everything will be clean in the morning (I usually do all doorknobs, light switches, remotes, faucet handles, toilet handles, and anything else you normally touch throughout the day). It’s also worth mentioning that you should be wiping down the child seat in grocery store carts as well as gym equipment you’re using.

TIP #4: WASH YOUR HANDS. WASH YOUR HANDS. WASH YOUR HANDS.

This one is SO obvious but it so crucial to you not getting sick. You need to be washing your hands at least hourly and EVERY SINGLE TIME you get back from a public space. Wash them for 20 seconds with soap- my roommates and I like to sing the ABC’s together when we partake in this activity. If you have no access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer with 60% or greater alcohol base. It’s also worth mentioning to NOT use air dryers for drying your hands. They simply recycle the air particles in the room and put them right back on your hands- so use a paper towel, shake them dry, or rub them on your clothes if need be. Get into the habit of this if you haven’t already -it will become routine quicker than you’d think.

TIP #5: DON’T COUGH OR SNEEZE INTO YOUR ELBOW

If you can help it, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and throw it away promptly. When you sneeze or cough into the clothing on your elbow, it has a possibility of staying there and active for a week or more afterwards.

TIP #6: TAKE ZINC LOZENGES

Zinc helps prevent viruses from multiplying in your throat once they’re there. Use especially when you feel cold symptoms coming on. Lie down when taking it and let the lozenge take its time dissolving in the back of your throat.   Cold-EEZE is a popular brand that contains zinc if you’re looking for recommendations.

TIP #7: WORRY ABOUT OTHERS

Remember, your actions don’t just affect you, they affect those around you and they might not have as good as an immune system (young children, the elderly, people with asthma . Take whatever precautions you can- I hope everyone stays well during this time.

Art of the day: On the subject of gloves, “A Mixture of Frailties” by Susie MacMurry I don’t think I would ever wear this dress but I have to say, it is pretty creative. Here she uses surgical gloves to make a statement on the feminine silhouette and the traditional work expected of women.

CORONAVIRUS: MYTHS DEBUNKED

Early this January, my roommates and I booked a post-grad trip to Asia. I’ve dreamed of visiting various parts of Asia my entire life, and I couldn’t be more excited to be finally going for a month with my best friends. Our plan was to take off to Tokyo, Japan a few days after graduation. From there, we would spend a week in South Korea (where two of my roommates happen to be from and/or have family who still live there). Next, we would explore South East Asia by going to Vietnam and finally Thailand where we would fly back out. Let me also mention my family has a separate trip planned mid-summer to Italy for two weeks (you could say I feel like I have pretty bad luck).

I have no idea if/how/when my travel plans will change, but I am most certainly monitoring the spread of this virus as my trips approach.

Let me start this post off by first saying: I AM NOT A HEALTH CARE EXPERT. However, I am an expert on being afraid of the infamous coronavirus epidemic going on right now. It is for both of these reasons that I have turned to research conducted by those who ARE experts in pathology.

I think I’ve heard just about every explanation possible of the virus, its treatment and how it spreads. What is most important, above all else, is for us all to remain aware but calm. Often times, we impulse react to things we do not know or understand, and this leads to panic which leads to chaos.   It is for this reason it is so important to learn what you can about what scares you- and for a lot of people right now, that’s the coronavirus.

MYTH #1: if you contract coronavirus, you’re going to die

As of now, there is only a 3.4% fatality rate. 18% of those deaths are those who are already in critical condition/poor health. The Flu also kills people. Think about it this way: if you heard there were a slew of people in your town who had the flu, wouldn’t you be taking some precautions?

MYTH #2: coronavirus is the most dangerous virus.

While the virus is rampant right now, others such as the Ebola virus are much more deadly.

MYTH #3: You cannot recover from Coronavirus

MYTH #4: wearing a mask protects you from the virus

Not really. If someone was to sneeze or cough into your nose/mouth, this mask will not protect anything- the water droplets will simply go through. While there are special masks for health care providers, the regular-old mask you’re thinking of does not do much other than keep your hands directly off of your nose and mouth (which is good!).

MYTH #5: only the elderly are affected

Also false- the virus especially affects those with compromised immune systems-, which often is the elderly. This is why we have heard so many cases of elderly folks dying from the virus. However, anyone can contract the coronavirus.

MYTH #6: Antibiotics treat coronavirus

Antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections. If you’ve heard of antibiotics “treating” or “curing” coronavirus, it’s likely because that patient developed a bacterial infection such as pneumonia, which can be treated with antibiotics.

MYTH #7: Your package from China will give you coronavirus

Packages travel a long way from China to the United States, and therefore take a long time to get to the destination. Research shows the virus cannot live long simply on objects.

So those are just a few major myths I had heard circulating. If you want more information, I’d recommend checking out:

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

https://twitter.com/GirlNamedMarley/status/1234245348572487682?s=20

Above all else, the coronavirus is not an excuse for racism or xenophobia against China, or any other countries that are majorly affected. The CDC has stated that those of Asian decent are no more likely to contract the virus than other races. The disease could have just as easily started in the US as it did in China. This could be a whole other blog, but I think Sabrina Lee from the Daily Illini sums it up best.

Art of the day:  So I know I just said surgical masks can’t prevent coronavirus, but I have recently been seeing masks as a fashion statement piece. I’m a huge Off-White fan, and I think this mask would be a dope accessory to an outfit. It adds an element of mystery, and also keeps your hands off your nose and mouth while wearing it. It doesn’t directly say Off-White, so you’re not THAT much of a try hard, but anyone who knows fashion will know this logo.

ANNA WINTOUR: PLEASE HOOK ME UP

Just like music and visual art, fashion has always played a key role in my life. I grew up playing dress-up, putting together some definitely *innovative* outfits.

Ms. Wintour, I know you’re quaking at this fit

In my teenage years, I experimented with a LOT of different styles. My freshman year of High School I enjoyed shopping at Delias and dressing like the most generic piece of Wonder bread I possibly could.

pictured: me wearing the popular “Chevron” style in 2012 🤢

My sophomore year, I discovered Urban Outfitters and donned my high wasted shorts and “hipster” style with pride. I even had a singular dread lock, which 1. Looked awful 2. Is straight up cultural appropriation and offensive 3. My hair had to be cut to get it out, leaving me with an extra short chunk of hair I still have (I guess that’s fair punishment for being ignorant).

ah… to be a sophomore in highschool wearing highwasted shorts, a beanie and a chocker again…

My Junior year I was DEFINITELY depressed as well as in a Stevie Nicks phase, inspiring me to wear all black, every day.

This is probably the only picture of me from that year… I was definitely unwell

My senior year I gave into senioritis, donning mostly athleisure clothes (and by that I mean a huge t shirt and nike shorts).

To be frank, I simply no longer gave a single fuck.

Once I got to college is when I really started cultivating my personal style and brand. I found myself absolutely encapsulated in the place where street wear and Haute Couture exist.   I’m a firm believer that a person’s fashion sense is a direct reflection on who they are- it’s the only form of expression that is required everyday (unless you’re a nudist, I guess). When it’s time to go out on the weekends, even if it’s just to a dinner with my friends, I love spending hours playing dress up. There is no better feeling than coming up with an outfit/combination of pieces you haven’t thought about before and seeing yourself in the mirror looking just how you wanted to.

In a similar vein of my Grammy awards this week, I thought I’d share my favorite article in each category of clothing (here’s some birthday present ideas- cough cough mom & dad). These are by no means meant to create a perfect outfit, they are just pulled from various places I know and love.

TOP: LUCID TOP BY I.AM.GIA.

I have to give credit to my friend and muse Lisa Samal for putting me on to so many amazing pieces in fashion. Lisa showed me I.AM.GIA. this time last year, and I was immediately in love. From their angular bodysuits to their leather pants, I.AM.GIA. has become an “it” brand for women my age. In particular, I saw this outfit in purple on the hit show “Euphoria” this summer and knew I wanted this top. I particularly love when it’s paired with a jacket so the only thing seen on the chest is the “GIA” logo in the middle of the top.

PANT: SUNDAY SERVICE SWEATS BY YEEZY

As I stated in my previous post- I’m a huge Kanye West fan- in both music and fashion industries. Ever since watching the YEEZY SEASON 3 drop in February of my Senior year of high school, I have wanted Yeezy shoes and clothing (I did snag a pair of socks last year, but that’s about it). Kanye has a way of flipping fashion on its head- producing shapes and pallets we have never seen or even thought of before. I think these Sunday service sweats with the font in the front is pretty innovative. To take something as boring as sweatpants and turn them into a statement piece is something I certainly hadn’t seen done by anyone before Kanye.

SKIRT: BAROCCO RODEO DRAPED SKIRT BY VERSACE

It’s hard to get more classic than this Versace print, and that’s why I love it. If I’m going to own a piece of Haute couture, I’m not ashamed to admit I’d want it to be recognizable (this isn’t to say I’m a sell out who will wear any recognizable couture, I actually hate the Fendi print on something like a skirt).   In looking at coutour skirts, I haven’t been seeing many wrap styles (or at least ones I’m in love with). This one seems to fit the Versace brand so well. I’d love to place this with a simple black turtleneck and a gold chain and call it a day.

DRESS: THIS QUILTED MINIDRESS BY BALMAIN

I’ll say it. The Kardashian’s introduced me to Balmain. When I think of Balmain I think of my jaw dropping at the pictures of Kim headed to her bachelorette party in 2014. She wore this quilted mini dress (estimated to cost 20k) and it looked like a suit of armor on, and I’ve been obsessed with this silhouette the dress creates ever since. I know this will never ever happen, but I want this dress. I’d pair it with a high ponytail, minimal jewelry and some nude heels just like Kim’s

SNEAKER: YEEZY 350 V1'S IN OXFORD TAN BY KANYE WEST

I am not kidding you when I say I would give my pinky finger for some Yeezy 350 V1’s in the color “Oxford Tan”. When you think of Yeezy shoes, you’re probably imagining Kanye wearing these. I had never seen a shoe shaped like this, and I was immediately captivated by them. I want these shoes more than any other piece of fashion. This will never, ever happen, so my fake Yeezy’s (feezys) must suffice until I can buy what is (in my opinion) the most iconic Yeezy shoe.

SANDAL: LIGHT BLUE SLINGBACKS BY FENDI

I was flipping through this month’s issue of Vogue when I saw these shoes. I audibly gasped. The shape of these shoes is just beyond beautiful – I can’t even put this into words.   I would wear these shoes with everything: nice dresses, sweatpants, my pajamas, anything.

HEEL: ANJALINA BY CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN

I don’t know a heel more iconic than Louboutins. I feel like (at least for me) heels aren’t as recognizable as sneakers (where the giant logo doesn’t take away from the elegance of the shoe). The instantly recognizable red bottom of the shoe make these iconic (not to mention they are beautifully made). I personally love the Anjalina shoe– I think the spikes around the shoe make them stand out from the rest of the simple black Louboutins but not too off the rail that they veer from the classic, sleek look.

PURSE: BY CHANEL

It’s hard to find a more classic purse than Chanel. I don’t know what the particular model of this purse is called (I’ve searched everywhere, so please let me know if you find it). I first saw this photo of Miley Cyrus circulating in 2018 on Twitter and I haven’t been able to get over it since. Everything about this outfit is chic- from the skirt to the boots to the turtleneck to the hairstyle. What makes this outfit is hands down the bag. I was never crazy about the classic Chanel flap quilted bags– but I had never seen them do anything like this. It definitely takes inspiration from the Off-White brand, but no one does it like Chanel.

COAT: CHELSEA HERITAGE TRENCH COAT

Ever since I spent a summer studying abroad in London, Burberry has been my favorite high fashion brand. No one does trench coats like Burberry. It took me a while to decide what my choice hypothetical trench coat would be- but I think I’ve finally decided on the Mid-length Chelsea Heritage Trench Coat in “Honey”.   I imagine myself on the way to my CEO position at some ad agency in New York wearing this.

HAT: VINTAGE CHECK COTTON BUCKET HAT BY BURBERRY

I was SO close to spending my life’s savings on this hat in Chicago this summer. I’m very glad my compulsion to buy did not get the best of me, because I really didn’t need this hat. That being said, the bucket hat craze came back this past year, and I’m not mad about it. If I’m doing a bucket hat, it may as well be Burberry, right? (someone please buy me this)

SCARF: BY OFF-WHITE

I think a lot of people would find this silly, but I love this OFF-WHITE scarf. Virgil Abloh has completely flipped high fashion on its head (especially since becoming Louis Vuitton’s Artistic Director in 2018). Laugh all you want about this “SCARF”, but this for me would feel like walking in art.

SUNGLASSES: AGENT OVAL SUNGLASSES BY BALENCIAGA

I. Love. The color. Beige. I believe this stems from Kanye West’s infamous use of the color. I also love Balenciaga. Although I already own a pair of beige sunglasses (though much cheaper than Balenciaga). I love these– from the gold detailing to the transparency.

NECKLACE: VINTAGE LOCK BY LOUIS VUITTON

As someone who likes to consider herself the Walmart version of Billie Eilish, I’ve been obsessed with chains since discovering her this time last year. I love how chunky this chain is, paired with the simple vintage LV lock. I can’t find this on their website, which makes me wonder if they still exist, but I like this one (even if it’s fake)

EARRINGS: BY CHANEL

When I first saw Billie Eilish wearing these earrings, I immediately started looking for knock offs. Obviously I love when companies spell out their name in fashion- I guess something about reading just gets me going

In conclusion, Anna Wintour: if you wanna hook a girl up sometime that would be much appreciated.

Art of the day: Go read Vogue’s “SPRING AWAKENING” issue, featuring my favorite person on the cover, Billie Eilish

MY GRAMMY AWARDS

As a kid, I was absolutely obsessed with Toy Story. In particular, I loved the headstrong cowgirl character named Jessie. If you haven’t seen Toy Story 2- at one point, Jessie tells the background story about how she ended up separated from her kid, and the audience is shown her flashback in a montage. The montage was guided by the song “When She Loved Me” by Sarah McLachlan. My mom will tell you the story of the time she walked in my room and I was listening to that song on my little cassette player, absolutely overcome with emotion and bawling my eyes out to the song.

watch the above if you need a good cry

I get overwhelmed with emotion and cry over various artworks way more often than I’d like to admit. I would be lying if I said I haven’t been found crying at art museums, concerts, or the openings to Broadway musicals.  For me, music is no exception to this emotional connection.

Just like any other art form- I love everything about music- the writing, the production, the performance, and everything in between. One of my favorite things to do is show people music that I like– it feels like I’m sharing something about me.

So, in efforts to share more and get closer to you all, I’ve decided to conduct my own Grammy’s right here:

Because I’m indecisive as hell and love to sort things into categories, I decided to give awards to what I CURRENTLY love as well as my ALL TIME favorites.

BEST SONG: "After the Storm" by Kali Uchis, featuring Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins

My roommates will tell you how annoyed they are with this song. I have been playing it non stop since I first heard it a week ago. Kali Uchis’ vocals put me in the happiest, most chill mood, and it only makes it better that one of my favorites Tyler, the Creator is featured on it. This song makes me want to dance around in a pool, I don’t know why.

BEST ARTIST: Hobo Johnson

I discovered Hobo Johnson this summer on Twitter when someone retweeted his Tiny Desk NPR concert.   More recently, I saw my dad listening to him on Spotify and remembered how much I like him. I’ve been listening to his entire discovery all week long-particularly on car rides when it’s sunny outside. Something about his voice and the way he expresses his lyrics feel like I’m having a conversation directly with him.

BEST ALBUM: IGOR by Tyler, The Creator

I’ve loved Tyler, the Creator since I was sixteen.   His most recent album, IGOR should have been nominated for a Grammy, so I’ll nominate it here.   I’ve watched Tyler, The Creator grow through each of his albums over the years, and I believe this is by far his best work. There’s not a single song on this album I don’t absolutely love, and I genuinely believe there’s a song for everyone on here.

BEST MUSIC VIDEO: "Bury a Friend" by Billie Eilish

Though this music video is a year old now, it’s still one of my all time favorites. I discovered Billie through this music video a year ago, and she’s been one of my favorite people since. Just like Billie, I’m a lover of all things creepy, and this video fulfills that love like very few pieces can for me. What makes it even better is that she conceptualized all of this herself.

BEST NEW ARTIST: ROSALÍA

My roommate Pablo and I have been listening to ROSALÍA ever since she was nominated for best new artist in the Grammys. ROSALÍA is just about as talented as it gets- her voice and instrumental backing is enough to transcend all language barriers and make anyone want to learn to flamenco dance.

BEST SONG OF ALL TIME: "Everywhere" by Fleetwood Mac

This song has been my favorite since I discovered my intense love for Fleetwood Mac (and, in particular, Stevie Nicks). I think, above all else, it’s the lyrics I really connect with here. “Everywhere” conveys how I want to feel about the next person I love.

BEST ARTIST OF ALL TIME: Kanye West

Anyone who knows me knows my intense love for Kanye West. Yes, I know how problematic and off the rails he gets, but I can’t help my soft spot for him. I love everything Kanye creates- from fashion to music to performance. Say what you will about him, but the man certainly has the qualities of a creative genius.

BEST ALBUM OF ALL TIME: The Life of Pablo by Kanye West

I happened to be in Kanye’s hometown of Chicago, IL when I first heard this album. I know this album front to back- every note, every beat, every word. This is an album that has held my “favorite” position since the day it came out. I love this album so much that I had my 21st birthday party “The Life of Claire” themed.

BEST MUSIC VIDEO OF ALL TIME: "This is America" by Childish Gambino​

Seeing this video brought me to tears the first time I saw it. I don’t want to give anything away or take away from anyone’s experience of watching it for the first time, so go watch it hereDonald Glover is so impressive in everything he does, from acting to rapping to singing to dancing and anything in between.

Annnnd that concludes this year’s Claire Grammys (Clammys? Claireys?). Feel free to check out my spotify to look at my countless other top picks.

Art of the day: this song almost made the cut for favorite song of all time- it’s actually by my favorite band of all time, Vampire Weekend. This song has to be listened to the first time with headphones in- it’s absolutely breathtaking.

PARASITE.

***SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD***

Disclaimer: If you haven’t seen the movie yet- stop reading now, and go rent it. Watch it in Korean, with subtitles if you don’t know the language.

Since I’m a gal who loves themes, it seems each week has taken some sort of overarching idea for my 2-blog posts: love, journeys, myself, etc.. For some reason, this week I really wanted to talk about money.

I already examined the extremes of the elite upper class in my post about Kylie Jenner, so it only feels natural to examine the extremes of poverty and the lower class system.

About a week ago my roommate Jaein and I sat down to watch the movie of the year, Parasite. Not only was there tons of hype surrounding it, but also I live with two Korean women, who I’m lucky enough are willing to share bits and pieces of their culture with me.

I had absolutely no clue what the film was about going into it, but it became very apparent within the first 15 minutes that this was a statement on the cutthroat rigor of the class system.

Writer and Director Bong Joon-ho is not only genius in the way that he weaves this story seamlessly in his writing and gracefully directs his actors around the script, but it is the symbolism he infuses throughout the story that makes this one of my personal favorite movies.

I’ve watched this movie a couple of times now, each time noticing different aspects of Bong’s genius. So, I thought I’d break down the symbolism I’ve found in Parasite, whether that be through reddit research or simple observation.

THE TITLE:

One of the first apparent metaphors Bong uses is the title of the movie.

For context: the movie centers around a lower class family (the Kims)- in South Korea, living in a sub-basement and barely scraping by for a meal. The family consists of a mother (Choong-sook), father (Kim Ki-taek), and their two young adult children, a boy (Ki-woo) and a girl (Ki-jeong). The movie begins with a friend of the boy gifting their family a “Suseok”, or a scholar rock- which is said to bring those who own it material wealth. Soon into the movie, Ki-woo gets a job as an English tutor for a wealthy family (the Parks). Gradually, he begins to see job openings within the house (some earned through throwing the previous position owners under the bus), where he brings in his other family members (though the wealthy family has no idea of their relation to each other). Over the span of a few weeks, the poorer family begins to take over the house in the way much like- you guessed it- a parasite latches on to and feeds off of its host. At one point, the mother of the Kim family even describes her husband as a cockroach, someone who “would scatter when the lights come on”. In fact, at points in the movie, the Kim family is required to scatter on all fours to prevent being caught doing something they shouldn’t by their employers.

Though it’s an obvious line to draw between the Kim family and the idea of a parasite, some speculate the actual parasite may be the Park family. As the elite in their society, they constantly benefit at the expense of others. The youngest child of the Park family (Da-song) has an obsession with Native Americans, often donning headdresses and shooting toy arrows while the Park family laughs at how he plays. The Park family constantly benefits at the expense of the Kim family- much like the European colonizers of America benefitted at the expense of the Native people.

STAIRS

Bong has been quoted as a “lover of stairs” and it sure does come across in this movie

Nearly every scene features a staircase of some sort, and someone (usually the Kim family) ascending or descending these stairs. The stairs are a representation of each rung on the ladder in class systems.

The climax of the movie reveals another vertical floor, even below what the Kims are aware of- and there is a couple who live in a hidden basement in the Park house. This place has no windows, a contrast to the Kim’s sub-basement living situation. Here, Bong suggests that the class system is not a fight between the rich and the poor, but instead the poor and the poorer.

CROSSING LINES

Throughout the film, Mr. Park emphasizes the importance of “not crossing the line”.

At one point, Mr. Park tells Mr. Kim he “can’t stand people who cross the line” (in reference to his past employees). Cinematically, Bong includes various literal lines within the movie, often times having the Kim family or others cross it in the frame.

Despite Mr. Parks emphasis on the importance of not crossing “the line”, the Park family does not seem to have a problem with intruding on the Kim’s lives. The Park family calls up the Kims whenever needed, including on weekends when they’re off duty.

SMELLS

Smells are inescapable in Parasite

It first begins when the youngest Park child, Da-song mentions that his housekeeper and driver smell the same (unaware that they are in fact, husband and wife). When the Kims return home that night, they brainstorm how to differentiate their scents- proposing washing their clothing in separate laundry detergents. Ki-jeong, mentions, “it’s the semi-basement smell. We need to leave this home to lose the smell,” symbolizing the need for the Kims to move somewhere nicer to lose their metaphorical stench of poverty.

The Parks are found throughout the movie plugging their noses around the Kim family, making statements like: “it’s been ages since I’ve ridden the subway,” “people on the subway have a certain smell” and “his smell crosses the line”.

THE STORM

There is a massive storm in the second half of Parasite, which proves life altering for some, and a minor inconvenience for others.

This storm completely submerges the Kim’s sub-basement in water, ruining all material possessions and leaving them homeless for a few nights.

Similarly, the storm is a great inconvenience to the Park family, who has to cut a camping vacation short. This storm demonstrates the idea that, when money is not available as a backup, everything can be unhinged in the blink of an eye.

THE ENDING

Bong describes the ending of the movie as a “surefire kill

The ending of Parasite ripped my heart out. We seem to end on a happier note, with Ki-woo vowing to earn enough money to one day buy the Park’s house for his family. We are shown the Kims buying and living in the house, even basking in the sunlight of the backyard. The screen fades to black, only to quickly come back on to show Ki-woo still sitting in his family’s sub basement, indicating he was only hoping and dreaming of better days.

Like I said, this movie is absolutely a work of art. Its masterful storyline demonstrates how our society does not allow for social mobility. It doesn’t matter your qualifications- the Kims are qualified, clever and creative while the Parks appear naïve, gullible, judgmental and spoiled throughout the film. And it doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day, someone is always sleeping a floor below yours, and they’re not going to make it up without taking you out.

Art of the day: this shouldn’t even be a question. Go watch Parasite.

DEAR KYLIE JENNER,

Let me begin this post by first saying: I love the Kardashians.  Say what you want about them, but they’re simply the “royal family” of the USA: whether you like it or not, they’ve kept you and me entertained for nearly two decades. 

I’ve loved watching KUWTK since I was 12- something about this family just hooks me in and keeps me wanting to know what they’re doing every day. They go through relationship and life struggles, which is relatable to most of us.

The other day I was watching Kylie Jenner’s Instagram story.  She is the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan and is only a few months older than I am.  For those unfamiliar, her stories usually contain selfies, makeup swatches and promotions for her cosmetics brand, or videos of her daughter, Stormi.  But, what I watched the other day absolutely disgusted me. 

If you look on Kylie’s instagram, she has a whole story highlight dedicated to Stormi’s second birthday party, also known as “STORMIWORLD: 2 IS BETTER THAN 1”. 

The story began with Kylie approaching the entrance to the party: a massive inflatable replica of Stormi’s head (a nod to her father, Travis Scott’s “Astroworld” album cover).  For Stormi’s first birthday party, this head also made an appearance, but it was in baby form (which leads me to wonder if Kylie owns a massive warehouse to store each year’s Stormi head).  Extra? Yes- but to be expected from the Kardashian-Jenner family. 

We are then taken inside the mouth of the giant Stormi head, to a mystical wonderland with all sorts of lights and foliage. A bit too much? Absolutely- but again, that is expected of the Kardashian-Jenner clan. 

What follows is Kylie guiding us to what looks like a kiosk station that you’d find at any theme park.  There’s a person behind the desk to direct you where you need to go, and various maps (yes, MAPS!!) of the layout of “StormiWorld”.  The map showcases various sites within the park, including a “Frozen World”, “Trolls World” and “Stormi World”.

Kylie then takes us to “Trolls World” which is based off of Stormi’s favorite movie, Trolls (I do have to say, the movie is excellent).  This place looks straight out of the movie: there was a massive tree in the middle of the room, tons of troll hair covering the ceiling, mini trolls everywhere, and even the main characters themselves.

above: Kylie’s best friend, Anastasia Karanikolaou carries Stormi while Kylie films

Then it was on to “Frozen World”, which featured an icicle covered ceiling, various real trees, and the main characters of the movie Frozen.

And it didn’t stop there.

When Kylie entered the belly of the beast of “StormiWorld”, my jaw dropped.  Here featured multiple rollercoasters, various booths with all kinds of food laid out to grab, flashing lights everywhere- it looked like Disney World. Kylie walks her followers around, giggling at how everything turned out so well, and interacts with friends and family. She showcases the custom StormiWorld balloons, aprons for the employees, and even trash cans.

And I’m disgusted. The party was estimated to cost $100K– more than the cost of my entire college tuition. Not only is this the highest display of decadence I have ever seen, but all for the cause of a two year old’s birthday.  Quite frankly, it comes across as gluttonous. The idea that someone has the ability (and the desire) to throw so much money at something so trivial comes across as so incredibly ignorant.  Let me remind you of her and her family members’ tears on social media a little over a month ago during the Australian Wildfires. While Kylie did donate $1M after backlash from her Instagram post wearing $1,500 real mink fur slippers (keep in mind her net worth is 1 billion, making 1 million is 1% of what she has). Kylie, if you were so heartbroken about it, could you not have taken a fraction more of your budget for your two year old’s birthday party to help save countless wildlife and support Australian people a month ago?   The fact of the matter is: the Kardashian Family has made it very apparent that their money stays within the family. Occasionally, a small fraction is thrown one way or the other for philanthropy (yes, thousands seem like huge numbers to you an I, but are merely pocket change to those with multi millions). Overall, when have we seen this family use a large sum of their money for something other than themselves?

Kylie was named the youngest “self-made billionaire” by Forbes magazine in 2019. Since when is someone that is born into multi millions of familial wealth considered “self made?” Kylie Jenner had a massive head start (as did Zuckerburg, Bezos, and Gates), and the reality is that Jenner reflects the kind of privilege that a capitalist society constantly uplifts.  There has never been an acknowledgement of the privilege that got her to where she is, only praise for all of her hard work.

Again, I have no issue with Kylie as a person, but it is the lack of acknowledgement of her privilege and lack of understanding of what good she could contribute to the world that bothers me.  1 billion dollars is a MILLION, MILLIONS. 5 million dollars to Kylie is pocket change. So, Kylie, if somehow you’re reading this- please, spare the world a little bit more of your luxury.

Art of the day:  an older song but a good reminder to us all: be humble.  By no means do I claim to not have materialistic desires myself- which is why it’s so important to check in and remind ourselves of what’s really important.

HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS 101

CONTENT WARNING: interpersonal violence, gender-based violence

In my time here at Carolina, I’ve been fortunate enough to develop many of my personal passions, and in some cases to a level of expertise. I’m a member of a sorority here on campus, which has opened doors of opportunities for me to learn and grow over the past four years. My junior year, I learned about, trained for, and joined a group called Delta Advocates.

Delta Advocates is the first (and only) group created on a college campus specifically by and for sorority women in an effort to advocate for those who have faced gender-based and/or interpersonal violence. Those who are selected as DA’s are thoroughly trained to be an empathetic and active listening resource as well as a person who gives support for anyone who seeks information on how to move forward from an instance of gender-based violence. The initial training involves participating in Haven and OneAct facilitations, a Delta Advocate weekend retreat, and biweekly meetings for the rest of the year to continue learning.

It’s safe to say that I have had knowledge on several facets of gender-based/interpersonal violence drilled into me as well as how to address them, but one subject my particular group of Delta Advocates liked to focus on and facilitate was the topic of Healthy Relationships.

I believe it’s always the right time to educate people about healthy relationships and identifying unhealthy relationship patterns, but especially around Valentine’s Day I find it appropriate to talk about something so on par with the subject of love but not as often addressed.

Generally, our facilitation goes a little bit like this:

WHAT IS A RELATIONSHIP?

Though the word “relationship” first elicits the idea of a romantic relationship, this is not the only type of relationship that exists in your life. You have many relationships: professional, familial, platonic, romantic, sexual, and so on. It’s important that every relationship you partake in is a healthy one.

WHAT DOES A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP LOOK LIKE?

There are a few necessary standards in every type of relationship for it to be considered “healthy”.

Here’s a list of qualities you should strive to exhibit in your relationships and to look for in others:

  • RESPECT: the simple “golden rule” we all learned in elementary school: treat others the way you would like to be treated.
  • HONESTY AND TRUST: this means that you/the person you’re in a relationship with should consistently say what you/they mean and do what you/they say.
  • EMPOWERMENT: you advocate for and respect yourself in the limits you set. If you are not comfortable with something, you should feel comfortable not to do it, and the person you’re engaging with should empower you for it.
  • CONSENT: It’s simple: only a “yes” means yes, any other answer is not acceptable to proceed. There should be no fear or pressure in your/their answer. Additionally, consent does not just concern sex- it can be as simple as borrowing a friends shirt or getting a hug from someone. There needs to be a mutual agreement about the terms and conditions of the situation.
  • COMMUNICATION: you should feel comfortable to be open and honest with any of the relationships you have.
  • EQUALITY: there is fairness and negotiation in the relationship, and both people share equal responsibilities. Obviously, this particular quality gets a bit more complicated with parent-child or boss-employee relationships, but what is most important about these kinds of relationships is that the power dynamic is acknowledged, but all other qualities listed above are exhibited

THE MUST HAVE/ PREFFERED /DEAL BREAKER EXERCISE

When my DA group would facilitate discussions within our sorority, we would often have the group individually do this exercise. It’s important to know (with any relationship) where your limits are and what you’re looking for in the relationship. For a boss:

MUST HAVE: effective communication skills

PREFERRED: to be kind, and lead in a more “hands-on” manner, rather than completely authoritative, but this is not 100% necessary

DEAL BREAKER: if they exhibit any sort of discriminatory/inappropriate behavior towards my coworkers or me.

Every person’s columns will be completely different- and that’s exactly the point. If we know where our goals and limits lie, we are able to eventually only engage in relationships that exhibit the kind of behavior that’s important to us.

THE FOUR HORSEMEN

The Four Horsemen are four different tactics/qualities that exhibit unhealthy relationship behavior:

CRITICISM: this is a verbal attack on someone else’s character (not the same as constructive criticism).

CONTEMPT: attacking someone’s sense of self

DEFENSIVENESS: victimizing yourself

STONEWALLING: withdrawing from conversation or conflict (often known as the silent treatment)

Below is a helpful chart about the four horsemen with examples of how they might look or sound, and how to avoid them in your own relationships.

RESOURCES:

If you feel as if one or some of your current relationships exhibit some of these unhealthy patterns, it’s important to reach out if you have the ability and desire to do so. Obviously, I don’t have all resources available around the world, but you can most certainly talk to a guidance counselor, social worker, your local rape crisis center or the police and they will point you in the right direction for your particular situation.

In the case that you are a UNC student, here’s a list of resources:

Happy Valentines everyone, never forget that there is always someone there to help.

All images and information retrieved from: https://studentwellness.unc.edu/programs/self-care/healthy-relationships

Art of the day: I’ve always found this song to be beautiful and empowering, especially after knowing the message behind it. Kesha is an artist who has faced gender-based violence and discrimination and has found her voice (literally and figuratively) after coming out on the other side of the situation.