Archive for November, 2008

Friday night lights

It may be a little heretical to say this—seeing as how Carolina’s football team is amazing this year—but these chilly November nights make me long for my high school football days.

My team, the Hopewell Titans, hardly received statewide recognition, much less national recognition. We were not a powerhouse. We won some, we lost some. Most importantly we won against our rival high school my senior year (what exhilaration!).

But that’s not what I miss the most.

What I miss most is bundling up in scarves and fluffy jackets. I miss cheering with a close group of friends and knowing everyone in the stands. I miss smiles and waves from parents sitting a few rows over. I miss the hot chocolate we drank during the late nights.

This is not to say that I don’t love Carolina football—to the contrary, I’ve been to (or watched) every game but one so far this year—but part of me wants to go back to high school where one person could start a cheer and have the entire stands (all 200 people) echo it. It’s simply not the same going to a 3 o’clock game with the sun shining down and the band marching in all their uniformed magnificence.

The vendor-filled atmosphere is a little too much like Disneyland (although I wouldn’t mind taking some frozen lemonade back to high school with me). Parents are milling about with their children; students are lost in a sea of blue bodies. The football players, other than say Yates, Sexton and Marvin Austin, become big bodies with nameless faces.

We cheer for their goals. We are frustrated with their losses (what happened against Maryland?!). But they cannot hear us call their names. They won’t see our disappointed glares in class on Monday. They are simply far-away celebrities.

I love our school.

I love the Tar Heels. I hope we make it to a Bowl Game.

But I miss breathing out clouds of smoke and driving down the road to CiCi’s to celebrate our victory.
Never thought I’d say it at Carolina but I miss the Friday night lights.

By Shannon Spain

Borrowed words and borrowed thoughts

Of all the world languages, English has the greatest number of borrowed words—words that are not original to English, such as the Spanish-originated enchilada and guitar, or the commonly-used French words ballet, faux pas and quiche. The many languages English has come in contact with over the centuries have donated whole and unchanged vocabulary to the mental lexicon and everyday use of English-speakers.

I think this process of integrating words says a lot about college life.

At college, we learn from our friends’ mistakes; we copy their style of dress (for girls this means borrowing clothes), manner of talking and method of getting work done (procrastination!). Most of all, however, we learn how to communicate with our new friends; we start using their words and their references and begin to think more like those around us. The problem is that we do not realize our own assimilation until after it has become an irrevocable part of us.

Because of this, college students are more accepting of new ideas and new people. However, the effects of borrowing are not always positive. Sometimes I find it hard to distinguish the individual that I am from the influences and habits I have taken on.

Do I really like the pokey stix from Gumby’s or am I just conditioned to like them? Do I really enjoy listening to the Pit Preacher or am I just joining a crowd who thinks they enjoy it? Would I really love watching Carolina basketball if I were not at Chapel Hill?

Some of these things we assimilate to simply to fit in better and to better communicate—which is great. But are we still able to maintain the person that we were before?

It is hard to believe that our English word sugar comes from an Arabic word, ‘sukkar,’ originally meaning ‘grit or gravel.’ Americans have put a positive spin on this word, transforming it into something optimistic and useful on a day-to-day basis.

We have a use for the word ‘sugar’—it cannot be replaced by ‘candy’ or ‘glucose.’ And so, in this sense, our borrowing of the word sugar has a purpose. We are not assimilating because it’s the easy thing to do, but rather because it’s the best—and only—way to describe the sweet, white substance we put on our Cheerio’s.

Just as the definition of ‘sugar’ has changed, I’m trying to become more aware of the changes I’m encountering in college—as hard as they are to see at times. I’m making sure there’s a reason behind each of change because they will impact the individual I want to become. I would hate to see us all assimilate to things we don’t really believe in or need.

And so here’s to a sweet and sugary rest of our lives.

By Shannon Spain

Pit Stop

Click for a live image of The Pit.

Boy: Does your family still give presents to the family pet?
Girl: Yes (said in disgust). And, my mom is still all about giving my brother and me presents from ‘Santa Claus.’ Jesus, we’re old enough to drink with Santa Claus.

Girl: I love Southern gay men. They’re always like, ‘Bless, your heart,’ and ‘Jesus, you’re beautiful.’
Boy: Yeah. There’s always a Christian twist to them.

Boy: You know, drinking makes things more fun. And you know, smoking gets you high. But, I just don’t like sitting around watching TV and not doing anything.
Girl: Truth.

By Anna Feagan

I was raised in a household where using improper grammar was a sin. My mother, as much as I love her, would threaten my brother and me with quite harsh punishments if we ever considered responding to “How are you?” with “I’m good” as opposed to “I’m well.”

She instilled the fundamentals of grammar so greatly that “ain’t” was a swear word. This was rather tormenting on little Anna’s ego. My peers giggled feverishly when I was sent to time-out in second grade for spreading the rumor that my teacher had cursed in front of our innocent minds. I have yet to forgive my mom for that and the whole Santa Claus thing (but, that’s for another time).

Now, I am a sophomore in college and am perfectly free of my mother’s restraints, therefore, my vocabulary have taken quite the downfall.  So, here is my confession…

I, the girl who used to own an ‘I heart grammar’ lunch box, have been contaminated.  I’m ashamed to admit that I speak in abbrevs on the regs.  For those who are clearly too sophisticated to understand what this means, allow me to translate: I speak like a Valley Girl on crack.  Apparently, I am too indolent to correctly articulate the last few syllables of fairly lengthy words, so I replace them with an “s” and call it a day.

Six months ago, I was clean. I vehemently judged those who thought it was “presh” to never finish their words. But, now I am one of them. It all started when I felt the need to imitate those who speak in abbrevs (typically of the female population) by adopting their lingo, therefore, obvi, totes and mos defs became part of my everyday language. And, now I can’t stop.

Speaking in abbrevs is as contagious as herpes.  It catches on like wildfire. The epidemic spread to me, its No. 1 hater, and now I watch my friends falling in the same inescapable pattern.  The more I talk in abbrevs, the more they do in return, and the cycle persists.

But I have come to realize that you cannot take yourself, or whatever that you say, too seriously. Talking in abbrevs is entertaining. It’s amusing to strand as many contractions together as possible such as my ultimate favorite: Whatevs, she’s totes, fo sho jeals because she obvi can’t speak in abbrevs on the regs as ridic as I can.  Or in layman’s terms: Whatever, she’s totally, for sure jealous because she obviously can’t speak in abbreviations on the regular as ridiculous as I can.

I’m no longer the one judging as I’m the one who’s now being judged, and I’m okay with that.  My mother, on the other hand, has yet to realize the humor of speaking in abbrevs.  Instead, she is highly skeptical of the type of college education I am receiving. But, speaking in abbrevs is just a trend as we’ll all have to grow up sometime. So Mom, don’t you worry. I’m honestly not as ridic as I sound.

Guide on How to Props use Abbrevs in the 21st Century

Totes – Totally (No, I’m not talking about the handbag; this is a very popular phrase.)

Props – Properly (This is not used a lot, yet.)

Prob or Probs – Probably (This is one of the first to start the trend.)

Maybs – Maybe (It’s not really an abbreviation, instead it just sounds cool.)

Fo Sho – For Sure (This is used a lot in hip-hop / rap songs because it’s really catchy.)

Obvi – Obviously (Thanks to “Gossip Girl” this is very popular.)

Mos Defs – Most Definitely (Also the name of a rapper; this is used on a daily basis.)

Regs – Regular (It’s a fairly new abbreviation.)

Fave of Faves – Favorite (Possibly the abbreviation to start it all.)

Whatevs – Whatever (This is another older abbreviation that’s been around for awhile.)

Whenevs – Whenever (An adaption of whatever.)

Jeals – Jealous (A personal fave.)

Presh – Precious (I absolutely hate this one, but it still is somewhat common.)

A Pro Pro – Appropriate (A fairly recent addition to the abbrevs family.)

In a Pro Pro – Inappropriate (This complements nicely with the above abbreviation.)

As per ushe – As per usual (To fully get your point across, extend the “u” sound.)

Vom – Vomit (I don’t see the point in this one; Vomit is already such a short word anyways.)

Naus – Nauseous (This isn’t used as much right now, but I’m afraid it will catch on soon.)

Ridic – Ridiculous (I lied, this one is my ultimate fave.)

Perf – Perfect (Another abbreviation that is one of the standard abbreviations.)

Pops – Popular (Okay, I’ll admit that this isn’t well known because I recently made it up.)

Techno – Technically (I made this one up too; don’t judge.)

By Anna Feagan

Mornings at Alpine


By Liz Mundle

Noodles & Company

I am on a mission. I am an awestruck freshman and when I realized the richness and variety of restaurants on Franklin, I made it my goal to eat at every restaurant on Chapel Hill’s famous street before I graduate. Although I have plenty of time to accomplish this lofty (and expensive!) goal, I cannot possibly waste my precious money on silly chain restaurants I can find back home.

I assumed that Noodles & Company was, while certainly more gourmet-sounding than K&W Cafeteria, yet another one of those unremarkable buffet restaurants, until I actually gave it a try.

Noodles & Company, which opened at the beginning of this semester, is a cozy restaurant that can be discovered down the west end of Franklin. One peek into the homey-atmosphere of this small bistro is enough to make you want to curl up with some good old Chicken-Noodle Soup (which you can, in fact, do!).  The long, hanging lamps are bright and the tall wooden beams holding the roof give the allusion of a secret attic. However, what is more welcoming than the design of this restaurant is the hospitality of the staff.

Every staff member wore a colorful T-shirt with a different label across the back (my favorite read: “Noodle Ambassador”), and the girl who took my order offered up very helpful recommendations (you’re going to want the parmesan chicken).The menu is quite varied, you can choose a small or large pasta dish from three different ethnic categories; Asian, Mediterranean and American. Under each noodle dish is a description and coordinating protein recommendation (braised or sautéed beef, shrimp, chicken, parmesan crusted chicken or tofu). The menu also includes a variety of soups and salads from which to choose.

Three minutes after placing my order (no, they are not fast food, but yes they really are that fast), I ended up with the three most popular dishes from each category:

Japanese Pan Noodles—these udon noodles are served in soy sauce with broccoli, carrots and mushrooms, and topped with bean sprouts. Although the menu warned that these noodles were sweet, I wasn’t prepared for just how sweet they were. The noodles are rather thick and difficult to eat. The flavor, although at times overwhelming, is a great refresher.

Mediterranean Penne Rosa—possibly the most delicious noodle dish I’ve ever had! The tomatoes were very fresh, the spice just right, and the noodles al dente. This dish I ordered with the recommended parmesan-crusted chicken. The chicken was cooked just-right and had a delicious garlic taste to it.

American Wisconsin Mac & Cheese—this macaroni was topped with a divine cheese sauce and freshly shredded cheese that melts in your mouth. Eating it reminded me of the macaroni my grandmother cooks whenever I am home.

For the health conscious, Noodles & Company has committed to providing its customers with nutritional facts that can be found at the register. All customers are also given the liberty to order their pasta anyway they would like; with tomatoes, less spicy, extra cheese, two proteins—and still have it come out in less than three minutes. Take that, K&W.

By Shannon Spain

Pit Stop

Click for a live image of The Pit.

Girl 1: I was looking in the mirror and I realized… I so need to get my eyebrows done today.
Girl 2: Oh, yeah, me, too. And as soon as I get them done, I’m going to be ahhh pretty!

Girl 1:
I have to get into Chem232 in order to get to med school next year.
Girl 2: Hey, I like this, I have connections.
Boy: Hah, what?
Girl 2: She’s my doctor, she’s my dentist and you can be my financial analyst.
Girl 3: Wait. What about me?
Girl 2: Oh, yeah, true. Well, I guess you could be my psychologist when I get older.

Girl 1: OK, I have to go to class now.
Friends: [silence]
Girl 1: I want you to get up and walk me to class. I’m asking you. Will you get up and walk me to class?
Girl 2: OK. Well we’re all sitting here.
Girl 1: Well, what am I going to do!? Ergh. You mean I have to walk to class by myself?

By Shannon Spain

Fall back

I’ve never been happier than I was at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2.  This is not an exaggeration.  Many might wonder what I was doing up in the wee hours of the morning, but that fact is irrelevant to the awesomeness that occurred.

My cell phone started doing weird things.  And when I say weird, I mean 2 o’clock happened twice.  After careful deliberation, I realized that it was none other than Daylight Savings Time.  As a result, I was in the midst of falling back.

As many might struggle to remember, Halloween was the Friday night before DST, so that weekend was overflowing with reasons to celebrate.  But, I might venture to say that DST was better than Halloween.  Shocking, right?

After attending multiple fiestas Halloween night and after ‘my baby’ had fallen out of my dress one too many times (I went as Bristol Palin), I was by far Halloweened out.  And, it was time to get my sleep on.  Unfortunately though, my Saturday was jam-packed with various rendezvous’ all over the Triangle, thus sleeping was not on the itinerary.

Saturday afternoon when I was running on empty I adamantly warned everyone who would listen that Sunday was my sleeping day.  I had previously set aside the entirety of Sunday to restoring my life back.  In spite of that, the occurrence of DST managed to slip my mind.

At 2 a.m., I was rejoicing DST like it was 1999.  Maybe it was the fact that I forgot we acquired an extra hour or maybe it was because I watched the clock literally jump back in time, but I merrily denounced then and there that ‘Fall Back’ was the best holiday ever.

The United States first adopted the implementation of Daylight Savings Time in 1918 as a way to alleviate economic hardships during wartime.  But in modern day America, I view DST as the answer to college students’ prayers.

The end of October can be grueling on one’s mind and body as the final stretch of first semester is looming ahead.  The weekend offers many outlets for alleviating accumulated stress over the previous school week, and due to the social aspects of college life, sleep can sometimes take a back seat.  Hence, the No. 1 reason for DST’s greatness.

By Halloween, autumn is in full swing as colorful leaves begin to scatter the quad.  Uggs begin to replace Rainbows as the season’s most clichéd college-female footwear of choice.  And, thoughts of pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce begin to ensue.  Yes, Fall has finally arrived and fortunately, so has ‘Fall Back.’

Thanks to DST, I can now wearily walk to my 8 a.m. in daylight.  Thanks to DST, I have a justifiable reason to not go for a jog past 6 p.m. because it’s already dark out.  But most importantly thanks to DST, I had a vital supplementary hour to recover from a hellacious Halloween weekend.

By Anna Feagan

President Obama

President Obama! Right now it’s the sweetest phrase in the human language.

I’m 19 years old and I never thought this would be possible. I never thought I would see a black president of the United States.

As a little girl I was told the phrase “you can be anything you want to be” had its limitations. I was told I needed to work harder to prove my worth. In fact, I needed to work harder just to be a part of the playing field, never mind playing on a level field. As a little girl, I never dreamed I would see the day the world would change.

But it has.

Before taking office or even announcing his cabinet, President-elect Barack Obama has not only made history but he has changed lives. He’s made America believe in herself again, and he has reached beyond the borders of our nation to touch people in faraway places.

I see so much potential for not only my future, but everyone’s future. How amazing, how life changing, will it be for young black children to look into the TV screen at the president of United States and see someone that looks like them.

I’m just so proud of the United States and the fact that we’re finally moving beyond race; not treating people based on the color of their skin, but evaluating them on the content of their character.

But we’re not done yet.

Obama Biden election

I think I’ve made it pretty obvious that I am beyond thrilled Barack Obama is the next president of our nation. Given the state of the country and the world I don’t think there is a better man for the job.

However, there’s an enormous amount of work to be done, least of which involve campaign promises. And it’s important that as a nation we don’t allow this election to become a blank check like 2004.

Just because we elected Obama, doesn’t mean he can enter into office and do whatever he pleases. He is a public servant and as such he has to answer to the people. As a nation, we have to hold Obama accountable.

That’s probably one of the biggest failings the American people face coming off of the Bush administration. We just accepted what the administration presented to us, never questioning their agenda or the veracity of their information.

Part of the determinants of whether or not we rise to the occasion of “our defining moment” is our willingness or unwillingness to repeat the mistakes we allowed to take place of the previous administration.

I believe in Obama. I have faith. But we’ve got to remember that this campaign was about us, the American people and that’s the way his administration should be as well. We’ve got to make sure he continues to be a man of his word and doesn’t forget who got him where he is.

By Brittany Murphy