Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Emily on 31-10-2012

It happened when I was 13; I was an 8th grader at Hoover Middle. I was wearing a green t-shirt and my black Nike shorts. I remember when the phone rang. I was in my room, listening to the top-40 radio station. My dad answered the phone. A few minutes later, he came into my room, clearly in distress. “That was the police. Mom was just in a car accident as she was coming from work,” my dad told me.

“Oh, my God! Is she okay?” I asked him.

“Yeah, they said the accident was on Douglas Street. Let’s go down there and see if she’s still there, or if she had to be taken to the hospital.” We jumped in the car. Thankfully, we weren’t too far away.

I knew we were at the scene when I saw the fire truck and a police car. My dad found a place nearby to park and he ran to the police car. An officer stepped out.

“What happened? Is she okay? Is my wife okay?”

“An elderly woman ran a red light. Your wife injured her neck, but other than that, she’s fine. They just sent her to St. Luke’s,” the officer told us.

We got back to the car and rushed to the hospital. When we walked in the crosswalk, my dad was holding my hand. “Dad, I’m okay. I don’t need you to hold my hand,” I told him. “You’re holding MY hand, honey. I’m worried about Mom,” my dad informed me.

Dad and I nervously went up to the desk and the receptionist told us where my mom was. We ran to the elevator.

The nurse told my mom that we had arrived. I wasn’t sure what to expect as we walked into the room. This was the first time my mom was ever in an accident.

She looked tired. Her neck was in a huge brace, and she looked like she was trying not to move her head. We hugged her. “Mom! I’m so glad you’re ok!” I said, relieved. “Thank God you’re all right! How do you feel? Does your neck hurt?” My dad asked.

“Hi, guys! My neck is kind of sore, but the rest of me is okay,” my mom said.

She told us about the accident. An old woman drove through a red light and hit mom’s car. The woman said that the sun was in her eyes, and she thought the light was green. Mom’s black Buick Regal was totaled.

“When she found out I was a lawyer, she had the nerve to ask me legal advice! Then she offered to bake me a pie,” my mom said, frustrated at the woman’s lack of taste.

The doctor came in and gave mom some medicine for her neck. Then we took her home.

I had Chef Boyardee spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. My mom called her boss and a few of her friends. Dad and I would go look at the car the next day to see what shape it was in.

We looked at the car. It was unrecognizable. “Oh, s**t! We only had this car for three months!” My dad was freaking out, which made me start to feel stressed.

“Dad, don’t worry. It’ll be okay. Mom is safe and that’s the most important thing, right?” I tried to help him put the situation in perspective.

“I just can’t believe it. This doesn’t even look like the same car!” He was in a state of shock. After he was a little calmer, we left.



Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Emily on 29-10-2012

When students first come to college, they are heavily encouraged to take part in activities outside of class. There are many benefits of these activities: making new friends and having a sense of belonging. However, there is a question students often ask themselves: Do I have enough time to participate in an extracurricular activity or campus event, or am I too swamped with homework?

                Kristin Shaw looks up from her encyclopedia-sized biology textbook and smiles at me. She looks like she is studying intensely, so I am hesitant to ask her if she wants to be interviewed. She is really outgoing and friendly, so I introduce myself and explain the assignment. She tells me that she thinks she will be a good person to interview. “I’m taking 18 hours this semester,” she explains. “Wow,” I said, thinking that she must be stressed out all the time. However, after talking with her for a minute or two, she seems surprisingly calm and stress free for someone taking so many classes.

Shaw, a senior from Creston, Iowa, is double majoring in political science and biology and minoring in women’s studies, environmental sustainability and religion. “I didn’t know environmental sustainability was available for a minor,” I told her. In addition to all her classes, she is one of the founding members of TOES (Totally on Earth’s Side) and participates in Morningside Civic Union.

“So, how do you balance all everything? How do you deal with stress?” I ask her. “Well, on Sunday mornings I have what I call “me time”. I take a break and watch movies, go for a walk if it’s a nice day. During the week, I multitask. Like I’m doing right now,” she says. We both laugh. When I ask her if there are people in her life who help with the stress, such as family and friends, her answer surprises me. “Dr. McKinley, one of my advisors, encouraged me to get involved with student government activities when I was a freshman. He’s very much like a dad to me. I call and text him sometimes and I feel I can talk to him about a lot of things.”

For student athletes, there is a challenge to balance homework and going to practice. Chelsey Harvey, a sophomore psychology major plays volleyball. She says that she tries to schedule her classes around her volleyball schedule. “Teachers work around it well. They are usually understanding about scheduling,” she says. Harvey says the biggest challenge is when she has to travel for an away game. “It can be really hard to work on a paper when there is no internet access.”

Anna Hart, a freshman graphic design major from Shenandoah, takes part in cross country and sings in Bel Canto. “Cross country is only for two hours; it’s not super overwhelming,” she says. “I’m taking 13 credits, which hasn’t been too stressful of a load so far. But I struggle a lot with procrastination. I feel like I want to do anything but the homework.” I assured her that she is not alone in her battle with procrastination.

The balance between classes and extracurricular activities can be hard, but it can be achieved.


Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Emily on 14-10-2012

The Monster of Florence Book Review


The Monster of Florence tells the story of the search for a serial killer who murdered young lovers in the secluded hills around Florence, Italy between 1968 and 1985. Two journalists, one American, one Italian, team up to investigate the gruesome murders. Another aspect of the book is the exposure of the incompetence of the Italian government, and its “grabbing at straws” technique of finding potential suspects.

The two authors, Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, are both journalists. Preston has written many suspense novels, some with fellow author Lincoln Child. As a teenager, Preston spent a summer in Italy. He decided, 30 years later, to move to Florence with his family. Preston came to Florence to write a murder mystery and met Mario Spezi, a well-known crime reporter for the Italian newspaper La Nazione. Preston found out he was living next to the scene of an old, unsolved murder. This crime is one of a series committed by the aptly named “Monster of Florence.” Spezi has been investigating the serial killings from the time they began in 1968. His fellow journalists at La Nazione nicknamed him the “Monstrologer”.

Spezi provided Preston with the history of the case and shared his information and documents. He also helped Preston understand the complicated Italian criminal justice system. They interviewed family members of the victims. They even interviewed the man they believe to be the Monster.

The authors divide the story of the gruesome killings into two parts. The first part is Spezi’s experience, and the second part is Preston’s experience.

The authors are not emotionally involved in most of the story, until they become suspects themselves. The Italian police put tracking devices in Spezi’s car. The writers were more objective than the government, who believed and tested every conspiracy theory thrown their way (like a dog being thrown a bone). At one point in the case, detectives relied on the outrageous testimony of a conspiracy theorist, Gabriella Carlizzi, who connected the killings with a satanic sect called the Red Rose. (She also blamed the September 11 attacks on the Red Rose.) A chief inspector was so convinced by this sect theory that he described a doorstop as a communication device, “a bridge between this world and Hell.”

While the topic itself is quite fascinating, the book does a poor job of engaging the reader. There are over 70 secondary characters, some of whom have similar names that could be easily confused. The story drags on for what seems like forever. I was so bored with it that I had trouble getting all the way through the book. It had a monotonous tone, especially the first half. Some of the murders described are disturbingly graphic. Preston’s half of the book was much more interesting. I think people who are interested in having a career in journalism might enjoy this book.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Emily on 05-10-2012


Paper Man Movie Review

            What would you think of a married man who regularly talks to Captain Excellent, his superhero imaginary friend? This is just one of many quirks of Richard Dunn, the main character in Paper Man. Dunn, played by Jeff Daniels, is a writer struggling to start his second novel. His wife, played by Lisa Kudrow, suggests that he seclude himself on Long Island to work on his book. Abby, played by Emma Stone, gets to know Dunn and encourages his writing.

This 2009 comic drama, directed by Kieran and Michele Mulrooney, presents the delightful relationship between Abby and Richard. They are truly interested in each other, not in a sexual way. They talk about important things on a personal level. Abby finds and reads a copy of his first novel, The Renderer, and she encourages him to not give up on his writing. He helps her cope emotionally with a traumatic childhood experience.

Other characters in the movie add a good blend of humor. Captain Excellent, played by Ryan Reynolds, wears a skin-tight costume with a cape in bright, primary colors. He tries to get Richard to grow up. He encourages Richard by talking in a faster-than-a-speeding-bullet voice, telling him that he is “going to save the world from peril”. Richard talks to and even wrestles with Captain Excellent. Richard has to be careful about his interaction with Captain Excellent, so the people around him won’t think he’s just talking to himself.

Lisa Kudrow plays Richard’s wife, a vascular surgeon who practices in New York City. When she visits him on the island, he lies and tells her he has been learning how to cook. There is a hilarious scene where he pretends to know what to do with a whole, raw fish. She can tell something has changed him; he is behaving suspiciously.

Emma Stone’s performance is what really shines in Paper Man. Abby’s chemistry with Richard is much different from typical relationship dramas. There is a sweet oddness that develops with a few surprising twists and turns. Hunter Parrish and Kieran Culkin also compete for Abby’s attention. Emma Stone is able to portray an “everyday” feeling to her character, yet the audience knows that there is something special about her. The movie has a very heartfelt quality overall. I give it 3.7/5 stars.