Hog Fever by Richard La Plante is a fun 269-page ride for motorcyclists and non-riders alike.

Published in 1995, this narrative nonfiction follows the life of a motorcycle obsessed writer in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

La Plante himself is a very relatable character and admits many times that he is not a macho man hardened by the road. He simply loves to ride. This shows in his open admittance to overdraft fees while in the clutches of hog fever, desperate to have that next new model of Harley or custom part. To add to this, his several run-ins with the law as a young adult and in his mid-life adventures give the reader nostalgia of their own childhood and adventures.

The author takes you through many of the challenges of riding in a personal way. He isn’t afraid to put his personal shortcomings in the bike world on the page for all to see. He even admits to being fully pantsed after a crash in England before he had his motorcycle license which left him more cautious for future rides. He hides riding magazines from his wife like most people hide porn.

Later on, he describes his long-distance trip to Spain in such vivid detail you can almost envisage La Plante wiping the rain off his goggles every two seconds during the rain storms, covered in water and mud from head to toe.

Admittedly there are some issues with the book for those of us who don’t yet possess hog fever. To accurately write about riding, La Plante obviously has to use the correct technical terms for bike parts, but at times it can feel a bit overloaded for the reader who has no idea what different models of bikes and their parts consist of. The pictures sprinkled throughout the book help a little with the look and feel of different bikes that La Plante describes, but I still have no idea what the different engines look like or how one Harley looks too different from another.

Before reading this book, I was only vaguely aware of two brands of motorcycles and motorcycle gangs, so coming into this world took a little bit of adjusting. In the end, I think La Plante’s charm and genuine openness about the struggles and joys of riding a motorcycle will encourage any reader to read the book if not also buy a hog for themselves.

The fluorescent lights suck the life out of workers and customers that walk along the dusty concrete floor, looking at racks of power tools, lumber, screws, appliances, paint, and cleaning supplies.

Meanwhile, red plastic carts squeak along, one rusty wheel struggling to catch up with the others while customers rush to get into my line.

I wear the tacky mesh red vest with the blue house logo for Lowe’s, the mecca for home improvement junkies and contractors alike. Like most retail jobs, there are a lot of aspects that suck, but one, in particular, stands out to me: sexual harassment.

As recently as May of 2018, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that out of 85,000 charges, over 13.4 percent were made in the retail industry, second only to accommodation and food services.

Because of my age and gender, I am susceptible to a variety of sexual comments that plague many of my fellow female coworkers in the retail business. Men of all ages and occasionally women find it appropriate to comment on my looks, inferring things about me because of how I look on the outside.

One day, an older male coworker tells me, standing maybe two inches away, “Your pants look pretty tight. Are they hard to get into?” Thinking himself funny, he laughs as my face turns red and I do my best to defend my clothes. Another day he proclaims he can see certain “things” because my pants are so tight, continuing to say that I’m flaunting it in my jean capris and t-shirt. Several other women my age have filed complaints against this man for similar comments, but nothing has happened as of yet.

A male customer comes through my line, seemingly ordinary. He’s older, dressed in a button-down shirt and khakis. The kind of man you would see at church or next to you in line at the grocery store. After asking my age he loudly proclaims, “Well you’re certainly old enough. You know I’m not a cheap date but I am pretty easy. What time do you get off work?” Also finding himself the funniest man alive, he laughs and looks for confirmation from his friend beside him. I laugh along to avoid the awkward alternative.

Another male coworker considers himself a nice guy but does not take no for an answer. Every new female hired at Lowe’s is told the same thing: Don’t talk to this man, or tell him you have a boyfriend, even if you don’t. He will try to hit on you no matter what.

I was hired over a year ago, but have yet to find an end to the not-at-all subtle attempts from this man to try to get me to go out with him. He will fake depressive episodes. He will ask me to movies. He will invite me to go to the mall with him. Even though I have often and loudly proclaimed I have a boyfriend, this does nothing for him.

He has no concept of personal space as well, often trying to high five me, pull on a strand of my hair, and hug me, once going so far as to trap me into a corner with no explanation as he moved closer.

Female coworkers call me a dick magnet because of all of this attention like I’ve asked for it or wanted it in some way. I think it’s easy to tell that I just want to get my paycheck and leave.

This is the growing problem in many retail stores across the country. Women are often subject to awkward interactions where they feel they cannot report or are not heard when they do. Several of my female coworkers feel disempowered when they take a problem like a sexual comment to the HR department, only to see their harasser return to work the next day without a reprimand or punishment of any kind.

In fact, all employers are held liable for creating or allowing a hostile work environment for their employees, especially in the case of sexual harassment. Every employer is required to have not only a written policy against such treatment but also physical evidence of educating employees of the policy.

Employers are also expected to reasonably protect their employees from harassment by supervisors and customers in particular. If they have any knowledge of such treatment, they are expected to respond with appropriate measures. Employers must thoroughly investigate all complaints of sexual harassment whether it is through in-person interviews, witness reports, or video footage of the incident.

In any case, according to the law, employers are liable for any sexual harassment by supervisors or customers/clients and are expected to handle it fairly. In reality, many companies have loopholes that protect them from liability, including the loose definition of supervisor in business settings. Harassment by fellow employees is not held to the same scrutiny as those in elevated positions.

Some people may say the abundance of this problem is simply evidence of a victim mentality, that women have to be louder and demand a better workplace, yet it equally affects the verbal women, the ones who aren’t quiet, who don’t try to take up less space to please others.

Sydnee Schnell, a fellow coworker, is only 22 years old but is very vocal about fair treatment. Recently, after a new hire called her “fat” and a “bad trainer” for simply directing him in how to accomplish a task, she took the issue straight to HR. The offending employee returned to the floor later with a reprimand but no punishment.

This issue doesn’t even disappear when you’ve worked at the store for over ten years and have a management level position. Beth Vandiver, a head cashier at Lowe’s, angrily recounted the time a man felt like he could comment on her appearance. “He said I must be either brave or crazy to let my gray show through. I didn’t know how to respond. Who the hell says that?”

Some might say, maybe correctly, that women are overreacting to these comments. Maybe these men are kidding, they grew up in a different time with different standards, or this is just the world we live in. Women should take it as a compliment.

If you think about it though, how many times do you hear comments of that nature directed at men, in a retail position or otherwise? You just don’t.

I may just be young and working in a retail position and should accept these comments as part of the job and move on, but I feel like society should be called to a higher standard. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, women are finding a voice for the problems they’ve been dealing with for years, and maybe it shouldn’t stop with celebrities or political figures. Maybe we should hold regular people to the regular old standards of respect and decency. But that’s just me. A 21-year old “pretty” college student. Maybe in the next life, I’ll be a man.

If you’re looking for a nice date night movie, steer clear of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Directed by Michel Gondry and released in 2004, Eternal Sunshine is a science fiction/drama/romance focusing on a failed relationship between two average people. Rated R for language, sex, and drug content, the movie stars Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, and Kirsten Dunst.

Clementine, played by Kate Winslet, eventually decides to go through a procedure to erase her memory of Jim Carrey’s character, Joel after their relationship falls apart. When Joel learns of this, he is devastated but wants to go through the procedure as well. What happens next is pure chaos.

After the first twenty minutes, the movie becomes a confusing jumble of fast-paced hysteria until the very end a little under two hours later. Between the mumbled dialogue and the emotionally stunted performance unlike Jim Carrey’s other work, it’s a mess with a philosophical message.

Jim Carrey works hard to mumble his way through the script, stopping to say such brilliant lines as “I hate sand. It’s just tiny little rocks.” Because of the passive nature of his character, Joel and Clementine’s arguments seem forced, random, and absolutely fake. It’s hard to understand why they became a couple in the first place.

Unfortunately, the plot focus shift in the middle of the movie to another couple throws a wrench in caring about what happens to Joel. We are forced to acknowledge the second relationship while Joel’s memories fly faster and faster on the screen, almost too fast to comprehend what’s really going on.

To add to the mess, the documentary style, fast-paced, shaky camera work makes a person dizzy and constantly confused. Every time the camera switches to a new scene you have to work to adjust to the new reality, further adding to the confusion of the two story arcs and their consequences. This is likely intentional but ends with a confused, nauseous viewer.

There are some affectionate and well-done scenes, like the time Joel and Clementine lay on the ice and bond for the first time. It has the classic elements of a romantic movie and intrigue for the relationship to come.

Despite this, the dialogue doesn’t do much to bring the story forward, instead used as a plot device to bring attention to the title of the movie. Kirsten Dunst’s character Mary mentions several philosophers and their works during the film to bring people’s attention to the message of the film, hitting us over the head in the final ten minutes with her moral dilemmas.

Even if you are a die-hard science fiction fan, you’ll want to erase all memory of this movie. Do yourself a favor and skip it altogether.

The fluorescent lights suck the life out of workers and customers that walk along the dusty concrete floor, looking at racks of power tools, lumber, screws, assorted light bulbs, and other varieties of handy home decorations and necessary objects.

Meanwhile, red plastic carts squeak along, one rusty wheel struggling to catch up with the others while customers rush to get into my line.

I wear the tacky mesh red vest with the blue house logo for Lowe’s, the mecca for home improvement junkies and contractors alike. Like most retail jobs, there are a lot of aspects that suck, but one, in particular, stands out to me: sexual harassment.

As recently as May of 2018, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that out of 85,000 charges, over 13.4% were made in the retail industry, second only to accommodation and food services.

Because of my age and gender, I am susceptible to a variety of sexual comments that plague many of my fellow female coworkers in the retail business. Men of all ages and occasionally women find it appropriate to comment on my looks, inferring things about me because of how I look on the outside.

One day, an older male coworker tells me, standing maybe two inches away, “Your pants look pretty tight. Are they hard to get into?” Finding himself funny, he giggles as my face turns red and I do my best to defend my clothes. Another day he proclaims he can see certain “things” because my pants are so tight, continuing to say that I’m flaunting it in my jean capris and t-shirt. Several other women my age have filed complaints against this man for similar comments, but nothing has happened as of yet.

A male customer comes through my line, seemingly ordinary. He’s older, dressed in a button-down shirt and khakis. The kind of man you would see at a church or next to you in line at the grocery store. After asking my age he loudly proclaims, “Well you’re certainly old enough. You know I’m not a cheap date but I am pretty easy. What time do you get off work?” Also finding himself the funniest man alive, he laughs and looks for confirmation from his friend beside him. I laugh along to avoid the awkward alternative.

Another male coworker considers himself a nice guy but does not take no for an answer. Every new female hired at Lowe’s is told the same thing: Don’t talk to this man or tell him you have a boyfriend, even if you don’t. He will try to hit on you no matter what.

I was hired over a year ago, but have yet to find an end to the not-at-all subtle attempts from this man to try to get me to go out with him. He will fake depressive episodes, he will ask me to movies, he will ask me to go to the mall with him. Even though I have often and loudly proclaimed I have a boyfriend, this does nothing for him.

He has no concept of personal space as well, often trying to high five me, pull on a strand of my hair, and hug me, once going so far as to trap me into a corner with no explanation as he moved closer to get a full body hug.

Other male coworkers who find my contact information send me unsolicited dick pics, propose threesomes with other female coworkers, and ask if they can slap my ass when no one is looking.

Female coworkers call me a dick magnet because of all of this attention; like I’ve asked for it or wanted it in some way. I think it’s easy to tell that I just want to get my paycheck and leave.

This is the growing problem in many retail stores across America. Women are often subject to awkward interactions where they feel they cannot report or are not heard when they do. Several of my female coworkers feel disempowered when they take a problem like a sexual comment to the HR department, only to see their harasser return to work the next day without a reprimand or punishment of any kind.

Some people may say this is simply a victim mentality, that women have to be louder and demand a better workplace, yet it equally affects the verbal women, the ones who aren’t quiet, who don’t try to take up less space to please others.

Sydnee Schnell, a fellow coworker, is only 22 years old but is as verbal as they come. She will voice her opinion when she feels like something is unfair. Recently, after a new hire called her “fat” and a “bad trainer” for simply directing him in how to accomplish a task she took the issue straight to HR. He returned to the floor later with a reprimand but nothing else. A male customer also commented on her hair, which is purple, green, and blue mixed, saying, “Well that sure is a wild hair color,” then turning to our male coworker to explain how awful it is that everyone is coloring their hair such unnatural colors these days.

The issue doesn’t disappear when you’ve worked at the store for over ten years and have a management level position. Beth Vandiver, a head cashier at Lowe’s, angrily recounted the time a man felt like he could comment on her appearance. “He said I must be either brave or crazy to let my gray show through. I didn’t know how to respond. Who the hell says that?”

Now some might say, maybe correctly, that women are overreacting to these comments. Maybe these men are kidding, they grew up in a different time with different standards, or this is just the world we live in. Women should take it as a compliment.

If you think about it though, how many times do you hear comments of that nature directed at men, in a retail position or otherwise? You just don’t.

I may just be young and working in a retail position and should accept these comments so as not to stir up controversy or to continue that illusion of great customer service, but I feel like society should be called to a higher standard. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, women are finding a voice for the problems they’ve been dealing with for years, and maybe it shouldn’t stop with celebrities or political figures. Maybe we should hold regular people to the regular old standards of respect and decency. But that’s just me. A 21-year old “pretty” college student. Maybe in the next life, I’ll be a man.

Anecdote

September 25, 2018

When you work in customer service, being polite and following the general rules are expected.

Nobody really tells you how hard this is going to be until it’s too late. I learned this the hard way after the third time in a row a customer threw a fit about a missed discount or the fact that I asked them how they were today.

People also don’t tell you how much old men like to hit on 20-year-old women. Or how much your male coworkers will try to ask you out simply because you’re the nearest breathing female.

On one particular occasion, my coworker, who is 70, tries to convince me that my pants are too tight for Lowe’s and that I’m flaunting it. When I ask him what “it” is, he stares directly at my ass. Internally rolling my eyes, I turn to help the next customer.

After the customers leave, he continues with his comments, pulling on my hair and generally standing too close. At this point, I don’t want to be rude but he will not stop. “We don’t sell Viagra in the store. You could never keep up with me. You’re going to have to find someone your own age. Like your wife.”

His face turns red and his hands search for something to do, finally landing on his work schedule that he shuffles and loudly clears his throat. Two minutes later, he clocks out, sights set on asking the head cashier about her pants too.

 

The Pressure of Feeling Fake

September 24, 2018

Two men.

Two demanding majors.

Two very different lives.

At first glance, both students’ rooms have sparse decorations, gray color schemes, and a general lack of excess personal belongings, typical of many male college students. This is one of only two similarities between the two men.

Austin is an introverted biology and chemistry double major pre-med student at Morningside College while Grady is an extroverted vocal performance major.

It may not seem like the two would have much in common, but they suffer from a similar condition known as impostor syndrome.

Often recognized as a side effect of anxiety or depression, impostor syndrome occurs when someone feels like they’ve tricked others into believing they are more successful than they are. Sufferers often do not feel like they deserve the titles they’ve earned and are afraid they will be outed as “impostors.”

While not a diagnosable condition recognized by medical books, therapists around the world are dealing with students who don’t feel like they deserve their degrees, titles, or grades in classes.

Bobbi Meister, LISW at Morningside College, deals with a lot of these issues in students but notices that mental issues like these are changing. “I think that the pressures nowadays, especially for you guys in college is more because college isn’t as novel a commodity as it used to be…there’s a lot of competition to find jobs and to somehow make yourself look better than the next person in line.”

Austin finds job interviews awkward, even with manual labor jobs like road construction, because they require you to “brag” about yourself and your skills, something he doesn’t feel comfortable doing.

Grady echoes this feeling but gives more credit to being raised in the Midwest, where people aren’t supposed to talk about their accomplishments.

Both Austin and Grady didn’t really experience impostor syndrome symptoms until they reached college.

“In college, I ran into the first classes that I’ve really struggled with. You know high school was pretty easy throughout, and this made me think that maybe I wasn’t ‘all that’ or that I’ve just had it easy up till now,” Austin said.

Grady didn’t quite have the breezy high school experience that Austin had, but college presented a new set of challenges for him. “Well I mean I had just started college so that was big. I was also changing my major what seemed like every week. Other than that not much was happening,” he said.

Even though it might seem obvious that the quiet, less confident student would struggle with impostor syndrome, often confident people are hiding their insecurities, like Grady dealing with a new environment and challenges with college-level classes.

Impostor syndrome is often an isolating experience. Many students, especially men, don’t feel like they are able to talk about their issues. Both Grady and Austin don’t tend to talk much about their struggles but Grady admits to talking things through with his fiancé.

Neither Austin or Grady have ever been to a therapist to address their issues.

Meister says of this discrepancy, “I think that women just in general tend to report or talk about these kinds of feelings or thoughts more than men would. Maybe it’s just the societal pressure for men to, you know, have it all together and you can’t talk about those things.”

Austin is no different from other men in how he downplays his feelings. “If I have anything like anxiety or depression it’s fairly manageable and not something that has been diagnosed,” Austin states.

Lauryn Feauto, a fellow sufferer, seemingly deals with her impostor issues like Austin and Grady, but she is more likely to talk about her issues with her friends and family.

“I’ve dealt with impostor syndrome by doing a more ‘fake it till you make it’ mentality and so far that’s been successful. I don’t really talk to anyone about it unless it gets really bad. It’s been a problem pretty much my whole college life, to be honest,” she said.

The men have turned more to internet research which outlines the five general categories of people who suffer from impostor syndrome. Through this method, both men feel like they have a problem, but realize that self-diagnosis isn’t the best method for practicing good mental health. Neither student has immediate plans to see a therapist after talking about their issues.

Since impostor syndrome is not recognized as a disorder, treatment for it is often varied and individualized. Meister uses a combination of techniques to treat students that come through her door. “What I tend to practice in my work is cognitive behavior therapy and basically that’s helping the person understand how your feelings and thoughts and your behaviors are all kind of interconnected. When you make a change in one area it impacts the other area.”

To Meister, it’s all about changing the way people think about themselves and matching their perceptions to reality.

 

To learn more about impostor syndrome or therapy services offered at Morningside College, you can contact Bobbi Meister by phone at 712-274-5606, email at meisterb@morningside.edu, stop by her office in the lower level of the Olsen Student Center, or schedule a therapy appointment at https://calendly.com/personalcounselor.

To contact Austin email him at atn003@morningside.edu.

To contact Grady, email him at gmk003@morningside.edu.

To contact Lauryn, email her at fallenonyx11@gmail.com.

Names

September 20, 2018

Growing up with a name like Lindsey Smith, you find that your life is pretty unextraordinary. Nobody mispronounces your name, nobody really makes fun of it. Everyone struggles to spell it, but nobody really cares enough to fix it. It’s an ordinary name. So ordinary in fact, that when I went on vacation with my family, a gas station cashier semi-seriously suggested that my family all had fake names and wanted to see some ID.

It’s no surprise that Smith is such a popular last name. In my family, cousins carrying the Smith name number in the 50’s while the Hildebrandt side only has 12. I’ve met many people with the last name Smith, even becoming friends with a girl whose other best friend was also named Lindsey Smith. These people are everywhere, bodybuilders and successful entrepreneur.

Even the name Lindsey is pretty popular. Spellings might be different but people can’t help but tease me about sharing my name with Lindsay Lohan. We couldn’t be more different, but people like a good coincidence.

 

Linzey, Linsey, Lindesey, Lindsay, Linzy. All these names. All of them wrong. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to spell a name, but with names like Braxtyn, Haiyley, or Ashleigh, most names today are just a mix of random letters, like someone took the Welsh language and threw in the dryer to tumble around, confusing teachers for years to come. My name isn’t that bad though. One of the most common. It shouldn’t be that hard. Why even spell Lindsay like that and not pronounce it with an emphasis on the end like Ron Weasley practicing his “Leviosa’s?” Lindsey and Lindsay are not even close to the same person.

I don’t even think I’m overreacting a little bit when I say I want to aggressively shake the people who can’t seem to spell my name right even when it’s at the top of the email. You should know better than to lump me in with the Lindsay’s and Linzy’s of the world.

 

 

Feeling Like an Impostor

September 17, 2018

Two men.

Two demanding majors.

Two very different lives.

At first glance, both student’s rooms have very sparse decorations, gray color schemes, and a general lack of excess personal belongings, typical of many male college students. This is one of only two similarities between the two men.

Austin is an introverted biology and chemistry double major pre-med student at Morningside College while Grady is an extroverted vocal performance major.

It may not seem like the two would have much in common, but they suffer from a similar condition known as impostor syndrome.

Often recognized as a side effect of anxiety or depression, impostor syndrome occurs when someone feels like they’ve tricked others into believing they are more successful than they are. Sufferers often do not feel like they deserve the titles they’ve earned and are afraid they will be outed as “impostors.”

While not a diagnosable condition recognized by medical books, therapists around the world are dealing with students that don’t feel like they deserve their degrees, titles, or grades in classes.

Bobbi Meister, LISW at Morningside College, deals with a lot of these issues in students but notices that mental issues like these are changing. “I think that the pressures nowadays, especially for you guys in college is more because college isn’t as a novel commodity as it used to be…there’s a lot of competition to find jobs and to somehow make yourself look better than the next person in line.”

Both Austin and Grady didn’t really experience impostor syndrome symptoms until they reached college.

“In college, I ran into the first classes that I’ve really struggled with. You know high school was pretty easy throughout, and this made me think that maybe I wasn’t “all that” or that I’ve just had it easy up till now,” Austin said.

Grady didn’t quite have the breezy high school experience that Austin had, but college presented a new set of challenges for him. “Well I mean I had just started college so that was big. I was also changing my major what seemed like every week. Other than that not much was happening,” he said.

Impostor syndrome is often an isolating experience. Many students, especially men, don’t feel like they are able to talk about their issues. Both Grady and Austin don’t tend to talk much about their struggles but Grady admits to talking things through with his fiancé.

Neither Austin or Grady have ever been to a therapist to address their issues.

Bobbi Meister says of this discrepancy, “I think that women just in general tend to report or talk about these kinds of feelings or thoughts more than men would. Maybe it’s just the societal pressure for men to, you know, have it all together and you can’t talk about those things.”

Austin is no different from other men in how he downplays his feelings. “If I have anything like anxiety or depression it’s fairly manageable and not something that has been diagnosed,” Austin states.

Through some internet research which outlines the five general categories of people who suffer from impostor syndrome, both men feel like they have a problem, but realize that self-diagnosis isn’t the best method to finding mental health.

Since impostor syndrome is not recognized as a disorder, treatment for it is often varied and individualized. Meister uses a combination of techniques to treat students that come through her door. “What I tend to practice in my work is cognitive behavior therapy and basically that’s helping the person understand how your feelings and thoughts and your behaviors are all kind of interconnected. When you make a change in one area it impacts the other area.”

To Meister, it’s all about changing the way people think about themselves and matching their perceptions to reality.

 

To learn more about impostor syndrome or therapy services offered at Morningside College, you can contact Bobbi Meister by phone at 712-274-5606, email at meisterb@morningside.edu, stop by her office in the lower level of the Olsen Student Center, or schedule a therapy appointment at https://calendly.com/personalcounselor.

To contact Austin email him at atn003@morningside.edu.

To contact Grady, email him at gmk003@morningside.edu.

Recreating A Scene

September 12, 2018

“Where the fuck is my recorder?”

These are the words uttered by Mari Pizzini as she realizes she has lost vital recordings of interviews for class.

Frantically, she rips apart the futon she was sitting on and her bed, throwing her pillows and her inspirational bedsheets around for good measure.

Nothing.

The two friends that are also studying in her room help her in her search until her friend Alex finds the small black recorder resting on his backpack.

“If you had this the whole time I’ll kill you,” Mari told him.

Just a few minutes before, the room was turned upside down in a quest to kill a spider.

Now, thirty minutes later, there is peace in the dorm.

Mari keeps her recorder in her computer case from now on.

Sketch #1-Impostor Syndrome

September 10, 2018

An almost perfect GPA.

Headed to medical school.

Ready to take on the world.

Or so it would seem.

More and more college students are dealing with impostor syndrome, known as the feeling of having tricked others into believing someone is smarter than they think they are. For some, this feeling can force them to drop out of school, giving up on their dreams and the futures they always pictured. For others, impostor syndrome simply adds to the stress, depression, and anxiety that 1 in 5 college students experience.

Impostor syndrome’s growing presence shows an alarming new normal for the next generation in the working world. In a society where social media elevates the perfect individual, is it possible for students to accept being average?