Binghamton University

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Today I hosted a meeting for High Hopes on the topic of self-care. Self-care, which means anything you do to improve or maintain your state of well-being, is one of the biggest things I’ve learned during my college experience. For a good portion of my freshman year, I was a bit of a mess—I didn’t get enough sleep and didn’t eat properly, I took on more than I could handle, and my default response to stress was to get upset about being stressed. (Shockingly, it was not very effective.)

Fortunately, I have much better habits now. I have plenty of factors to thank for that, but I have to admit, institutional support isn’t really one of them. While Binghamton has mental health resources like the Counseling Center and Health Services, the idea of cultivating habits to take care of oneself is not part of the general discussion on campus, and I think that that should change. Fortunately, I have hope that the university’s administration shares that belief. The other day, at a meeting about the reorganization of the High Hopes hotline, one of the deans talked about how important it is for the student body to be taught effective coping mechanisms, and also about the university president’s desire to “turn down the volume” of the pressures affecting our students. My hope is that when we finally reopen, High Hopes will be able to spread the word about self-care so that it becomes a bigger part of our campus culture.

In the meantime, I am going to continue to practice self-care myself. Right now, that means not blogging again for at least a week. Mutant Mania, Dickinson’s annual gigantic inter-building competition began this morning, and it will end on Saturday night. I’ll tell you all about Mutant Mania when it’s over, but in the meantime, I want to throw myself into supporting Johnson Hall. An important aspect of self-care is not getting overly stressed, and this week for me that means cutting out any non-Mania non-essential activity. So, catch you guys later—and take care!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Writing by Degrees

This weekend I was lucky enough to be able to attend Writing by Degrees, an annual conference organized mostly by grad students in Binghamton’s creative writing program. I was really impressed by the work of the three guests at the fiction panel I sat in on, Mitch James, Cindy Keil, and James McAdams—like, gonna-go-Google-them-and-read-more-of-their-work impressed. I also learned a little more about how to get published (mostly: get used to getting rejected) at a publication roundtable with editors of literary journals including Bing U’s own Harpur Palate.

I attended both keynote addresses as well. Last night’s was given by Jill Bialosky, whom (to be honest) I’d never heard of before this. Now, though, having listened to her read from and discuss her memoir History of a Suicide, I think I’m a little in love with her writing.

Tonight’s keynote address, as well as a craft talk, was given by Stephanie Powell Watts, whose book, We Are Taking Only What We Need, I’d read for class last semester. I loved her book, so naturally I was really excited just to have the chance to hear her read from it in person. It was even cooler listening to her talk about her personal approach to the writing process and finding out some behind-the-scenes information about the stories that I love.

If you’re thinking of majoring in creative writing at Binghamton (or even if you want to come here and just like stories), definitely keep Writing by Degrees in mind. It’s aimed primarily at grad students, but it’s also an awesome way for undergrads to get an intimate peek into the “real” writing world.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

While we work on the hotline

We’re still reorganizing the crisis hotline that forms the heart of High Hopes, so the other High Hopes members and I have been trying to create more of a presence on campus.

For instance, we participated in P.S. I Love You Day—an initiative that involves writing pro-self-esteem messages (anything from “You are not alone” to “Hug someone you love” to a cheesy pick-up line) on Post-It notes and scraps of paper and putting them all over the place so people will see them throughout the day. While another member and I were spreading notes, we spotted Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger in the marketplace, so—after selecting one that did not contain a pick-up line—we gave him a note, and he definitely seemed to appreciate it!

High Hopes also tabled at the Dickinson Health Fair, an event run by ten of my fellow RAs to promote students’ well-being and knowledge of health-related resources on campus. Shout-out to the club members who ran the table—I think the people at the fair really enjoyed High Hopes’s activity, making inspirational posters. I think people will enjoy the anti-stress party we’re planning for Monday too. If you’re around, you should stop by University Union 209 at eight o’clock for food, music, and fun stuff like making silly putty.

Aaaaaand you should definitely be aware that today is the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month, co-sponsored by High Hopes and Hillel! I don’t think a final schedule of events has been released yet, but I know I’ll be running a session on what to do if you’re worried about a friend’s mental health (on March 20th at 8:30 pm in UU 209, in case you’re interested). There are plenty of other cool things to come, too—so stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Days off

Even though I decided, in the end, not to drop any of the courses I’d signed up for this semester, I still have classes only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sometimes people assume this means I’m basically on vacation this semester, which isn’t really true—I’m doing the same amount of schoolwork as anyone taking 18 credits of class spread over five days a week. Still, I like my two-day-a-week schedule. Because I have four classes in a nine-hour period, I can really get into the mindset of taking notes and being part of class discussions. I have more flexibility to go home or visit friends on weekends (though not to go home early for breaks…thanks, RA responsibilities). Plus, having such big blocks of time free on the other days means I can schedule extracurricular duties and other things for days when I’m not worried about what’s going to happen in my next class.

Well, theoretically anyway. Sometimes things just pile up on a Tuesday or Thursday. Yesterday, for instance. Here’s what I got done immediately after my first class:

-Picked up a package
-Grabbed lunch at the marketplace
-Greeted prospective students at the open house as a Student Ambassador (nice meeting you guys!)
-Took the treasurer’s exam, a requirement for the president and treasurer of every Student Association-chartered group (which I should have done last semester…oops)

I then went immediately to my second class, from which I went directly to my third, from which I went directly to my fourth. Half an hour after that ended, I attended a reading by Nahid Rachlin, an Iranian author of one memoir, one short story collection, and two novels. I’ll admit that I went partly because I need to attend a certain number of readings for one of my classes, but also, Rachlin’s writing was so intimate and beautiful that I was very glad I’d gone to her reading instead of back to my room to sleep.

After the reading, I went to talk with a friend and then answered some emails. Then I was really tired, and really grateful that I had the next day off to relax, do homework, and plan out the rest of my week.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A hidden gem for lunchtime

As many dining options as Binghamton University offers—including the new marketplace!—sometimes, you might just be looking for an alternative. So, where can you find tasty, non-Sodexo meals on campus? The student-run food co-op!

The food co-op is located in the basement of the Old Union and serves only vegetarian food (with great vegan options as well). Because it’s student-run, you obviously can’t use your meal plan, but members do get discounts (though non-members are totally welcome to eat there too). The co-op sells grocery items all day—things like organic soups, frozen dinners, and snacks, as well as herbs and spices—and starting at noon, they serve a hot lunch. I showed up for that the other day with a friend, and we were both pretty pleased with what we got: gingery sweet potatoes, salad, tempeh with roasted tomatoes, walnut tempeh, kale with garlic and mushrooms, and corn bread. It was delicious! Not to mention under $6. wink

If you’re interested in joining the food co-op, or just in learning more, check out their Facebook page, and, if you’re on campus, I encourage you to stop by. The atmosphere is laid-back, hippie-ish, and friendly. I had a good time eating there the other day, plus I got to pick up a teriyaki seaweed snack and a package of surprisingly good organic peanut butter cups for later.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Made it

Back in October, Bing U’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity had a fundraiser for which they sold different houseplants. They’ve had the same fundraiser in years past, too, and they usually have a good range of smaller plants available. That fundraiser is where I got this little guy (named Fabien as of earlier today—thanks for the inspiration, Christina!):


He’s pictured here on a windowsill in my family home. Thanks to the oddly warm weather today, I think he’s doing OK despite getting shaken up a little bit on the ride here from Binghamton. It’s good to be home after a long, busy semester, and I’m glad Fabien made it back safely too.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

When worlds collide

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently a co-director for High Hopes, the once and future student-run hotline at Binghamton University. The other co-director and I have been working with various groups within the university to come up with a high-quality, sustainable, appropriate plan for reorganizing and reopening the hotline. Long-term, I believe that this will definitely be for the best. The downside is that aside from myself and the other co-director, High Hopes members have been left without much to do.

A few weeks ago, we had a general body meeting for the club. We organized into committees, each headed by a member of the e-board, so members can now stay active by doing things like planning mental-health events or setting up social activities within the group. I’m a member of the study abroad committee. For this committee, High Hopes is teaming up with study abroad peer advising to offer support to Binghamton students who are studying abroad and struggling.

I’m absolutely over-the-moon thrilled to have spent a semester abroad, but there were definitely parts of the experience where it would have been nice to have a designated person to talk to. One of the High Hopes eboard members could relate to this experience, and she’s now leading the committee. I’m excited that we’re going to be able to use some of what we’ve learned from our student organization to help out people studying abroad—it’s pretty cool when two different parts of your life end up coming together, especially when the combination has the potential to do some good.

On a side note, this is my 100th blog post. Thanks for reading!


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