Personal Update

Hi, friends!

So, in case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on an unofficial hiatus from blogging for the past week (with the exception of yesterday’s goof). I just started college classes, plus I’m working part time, so life’s been pretty crazy (in both the good and bad ways, but I guess mostly good). I’m hoping to get back on the wagon within the next few days, but please give me some grace as I try to figure out all these brand new routines. But don’t worry: I guarantee that Inklings and Pencil Drawings will be back up and running at some point in the near future! (A month, at most.)

21 Things to Know If You Plan on Moving to Cincy

(Blogger’s note: I definitely meant to post this, like, two weeks ago when I was on that big Cincinnati kick, before classes started, but I just realized that I totally forgot to schedule the post. So, please give me some grace on this one and just bear with me.)

In keeping with the past days’ Cincinnati series, are a few helpful tips when moving to (or just visiting) our fabulous city.

1. Roads
If you’ve done any sort of research or talked to anyone, Cincinnati is sprawling and very hilly, which means we have some pretty weird street connections, and you are likely to get lost if you haven’t figured out your way around yet. Thankfully, there are a few larger roads that, if you learn well, you can usually find what you need. Here’s a basic list:

Madison (East, major neighborhoods: Hyde Park, O’Bryonville, Oakley)
Erie, Delta (East, major neighborhoods: Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout)
Martin Luther King, Clifton Ave., Ludlow (Center, major neighborhoods: Clifton, CUF)
Taft (Center-East, major neighborhoods: Clifton, CUF, North Avondale)
Ridge (East, major neighborhoods: Pleasant Ridge, Amberley Village)
Central Parkway (Center, major neighborhoods: Downtown, Clifton, CUF)
Westwood Northern, Harrison, Glenway (West, major neighborhoods: Westwood, Mt. Airy, Price Hill)
Colrain (West, major neighborhoods: Northside, Colrain, Northgate)
Galbraith (North, major neighborhoods: College Hill, Finneytown)
Winton (North, major neighborhoods: Finneytown, Winton Woods)
Norwood Lateral (East, major neighborhoods: Norwood)
Ronald Reagan (North, major neighborhoods: Groesbeck, Finneytown, College Hill, Blue Ash)
Reading (Center-East, major neighborhoods: Downtown, CUF, North Avondale, Bond Hill, Sharonville)
Montgomery (East, major neighborhoods: Pleasant Ridge, Kenwood, Indian Hill)

Obviously there a ton more in the greater city, but for now these’ll do.

2. I-71=good, I-75=bad
Piggybacking on the roads, if you ever need to use the highway, try to avoid I-75. There is construction on it that is actually hell, and it’s not just regular, tolerable traffic. It’s usually fine once you get out of the city, but within it, take 71, if possible. I-74 is also acceptable if you’re going west, and I-275 if you’re near the edge of the city. Trust me on this one.

3. “Please” means two different things
In Cincinnati, the word “please” can mean two different things: the standard “please” or “can you repeat that?” It actually comes from our German heritage, in which the word for “please” (bitte) is included in the phrase to repeat yourself (wie bitte?).

This might seem obvious or easy to pick up on, but my friend once told me a story of when someone in an airport asked her a question and she didn’t hear. Naturally she said “please?”, to which he responded, offended and exasperated, “Can you please tell me where the bathroom is?” I thought it was funny, but, of course, she felt really bad about it.

4. Skyline is better than Gold Star
Cincinnati is well-known for it’s unique, soupy chili, and there are two restaurants constantly battling for their position as the official chili brand. Well, more so, Gold Star is always trying to validate itself as a beloved pastime, while Skyline is widely acknowledged as the winner here. So if you want the real Cincinnati chili experience, go to Skyline, not Gold Star.

Alternatively, there are a few local places that are equally good, such as Camp Washington Chili, Price Hill Chili, and Pleasant Ridge Chili, the remnants of when each neighborhood had its own individual chili parlor.

5. In terms of ice cream, you can’t really go wrong anywhere.
Similarly, there is a rivalry between the two main ice cream companies in Cincinnati, Graeter’s and Aglamese’s. In this department, though, you can’t really go wrong either way. There is also United Dairy Farmers, which has killer milkshakes, and countless Whippy Dips, especially on the west side (Putz’s is my favorite). No one in Cincinnati will stand for bad ice cream, so none exists. Just don’t turn into one of those Eastsiders who is supporting the frozen yogurt takeover of America.

Also, if you’re an Oprah fan, she declared Graeter’s as her favorite ice cream in the world. Tons of companies tried to buy it, but they are still a homegrown, homerun Cincinnati business. But don’t worry, you can still have it shipped anywhere in the world online (it is expensive to order, though, so you should really just come visit).

6. Findlay Market
It still amazes me how few Cincinnatians take advantage of this fabulous place. Findlay is an outdoor farmers’ market with an indoor section open year-round. Inside, there are refrigerated meat and seafood stands, soul food restaurants, fudge shops, and the best Belgian waffles you will ever eat. Outside in the spring, summer, and fall, there is fresh produce, musicians, kettle corn, yummy smelling soaps, and anything else you could want at a market. The best days to go are Saturdays and Wednesday mornings, keep that in mind.

7. Neighborhoods
Even more so than most other cities of its size, Cincinnati has pretty distinct dividing lines between many of its respective neighborhoods. This began because of the infamous hills, and has kind of grown exponentially since. Here are the biggies, their attractions and main qualities:

Downtown: main business district, one way streets, Fountain Square, most gorgeous Art Deco interior ever (Hilton in the Carew tower)
OTR: stands for “Over the Rhine”, hella German heritage, homeless people, gentrification, Findlay Market, largest collection of Italianate architecture in the U.S.
Clifton (CUF, Heights, University): rowdy parties, coffee shops, University of Cincinnati, little distinction between rich areas and poor areas, many but tiny parks, best neighborhoods in the history of time
Clifton (proper): rich gaslight district who won’t acknowledge the above areas
Northside: hipsters, Hamilton Avenue, record stores, center of local music scene
North Avondale, Walnut Hills, Evanston: massive and gorgeous but inexpensive houses because of poor neighborhood
O’Bryonville: cool business district the size of a football field
Hyde Park: rich, pretentious white people
Mt. Lookout: Lookout Joe’s Coffee in a cooler, less pretentious version of Hyde Park
*Norwood: a city within a city, Cincinnati’s parasite
College Hill: College Hill Coffee Co., Presbyterians
Westwood: definition of west side
Price Hill: ghetto-er Westwood
Mt. Airy: forests, dog parks
Mt. Adams: beautiful churches visible from hills, bars
*Newport: big movie theater, better legislation
*Florence: minor league baseball, gets the brunt of Kentucky jokes
*Mason: rich white people who left in the early ’00s because they were too scared of the city
Amberley Village: Jews
Pleasant Ridge: basic east siders, Everybody’s Records, teachers
*Finneytown: Cincinnati but not Cincinnati
*Indian Hill: rich white people (again), Frank Lloyd Wright, public school that’s actually private

*indicates neighborhood not part of city

8. Streetcar
A great source of controversy over the past few years, construction for the Cincinnati Streetcar project is currently underway and is expected to be done in late 2016. You’re either for it or against it, but it’s happening either way.

9. We’re actually just a big small-town.
Trust me, just because we’re in a city does not mean we’re all jaded and individualistic. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Midwest friendliness is not a stereotype here, it’s reality. This is amplified even more on the west side. And piggy-backing off of that:

10.  Everyone is related to everyone.
Want to hear a story? We went to Canada and found someone from Cincinnati. And guess what? They were our third cousins. A lot of this comes from the west side’s strong Catholic families, who all had a gazillion kids each (my grandma growing up had eleven sisters and two brothers). Another part of this is that the longer you live in Cincinnati, the less you want to leave. It really is the greatest place on Earth. Having grown up here, even if I one day decide to leave for my career or some other reason, I guarantee you that I will come back one day and raise my family here.  It’s that addictive.

By the same token, if you’re from Cincinnati, when people ask you what school you went to, it never means college. High schools are a source of great pride in Cincy, plus everyone naturally assumes that they’ll know where yours is. But don’t worry, that same friendliness means that even if you aren’t from around here, you will be more than accepted and welcomed into our fabulous city. But, depending on where you live, it might take a bit of effort. You can’t really just sit back and expect a new group of best friends to immediately surround you, no matter where you are.

11. Loyalty
When you come here, you will be naturally expected to absolve all loyalties to Pittsburgh and St. Louis and accept your fate as only a semi-pro sports fan. Occasionally, some Steelers fans survive, but they become so obvious and obnoxious about it that no one will respect or take them seriously. But friends don’t let friends be Cardinals fans.

12. Cars are a must.
Because Cincinnati is so sprawling and subdivided, you pretty much need a car to get anywhere outside of your own neighborhood. Our bus system is actually pretty good, but only within the central areas like downtown and OTR. And unfortunately, because of the hills, Cincinnati’s not very conducive to biking. Don’t worry about it if you’re a student, though, there’s plenty around the University to take care of you. But if you decide to stick around, a vehicle of some sort is a good investment.

13. No water filter needed!
Believe it or not, Cincinnati has some of the cleanest tap water in the world. It has to do with some carbon-filtering contraption or something science-y like that. Unless your home pipes themselves are dirty, you are more likely to get junk from your add-on filter than from what comes from the Water Works. And even though the Ohio River has been called “the big muddy” in the past, it’s actually exceptionally clean in and of itself. It just looks muddy because it is a silt-bottomed river. (I still wouldn’t advise swimming in it, though.)

14. Weather
This one is very important: Cincinnati has pretty jank weather. It’s actually one of the few things I would change about our city in a heartbeat. Never ever ever put away your winter clothes for the summer, or vice versa. It snowed in July several years ago, and we’ve had days in the winter with a high of 75. Ohio very famously goes by the creed “all four seasons in a week.” Well, that can easily be amplified ten-fold in Cincy.

The ever-changing weather aside, though, here is what typical summers and winters are like (it’s actually worse than the unpredictable side):

Summer—Heat and humidity, special emphasis on the humidity. Being in a river valley with hella hills means that nothing gets blown away, especially moisture. It’s actually awful. It might be only 75 degrees, but it feels like 102 because it literally just sits there and never goes away. You will sweat profusely, and it will never do any good because there is no more room for your own moisture to evaporate into the already overly saturated air. (Read: why Jillian hates summer.)

Winter—Cold and dry, emphasis on the cold. Winters are essentially the opposite of summer, the other extreme end of the spectrum. In grade and high school, we never really got snow days, we got ice days. Again, because of the crazy mixture of seasons, we get a lot of freeze and thaw. So it can rain one day, and before the roads dry up, the temperature will hit below freezing. Thus, icy roads. On hills. Not a good combination. Make sure you have a car that runs well in cold, and be extremely careful when driving through slick intersections.

15. Beer Beer BEER
Between our mix of German and Irish heritage, and especially now with the new resurgence of entrepreneurial opportunities, Cincinnati has a pretty great collection of microbreweries. There are also, like, forty different festivals each year that give rise to new beer drinking excuses.

16. It ain’t “soda.”
It’s pop. Pop pop pop POP. I get on my boyfriend’s case (who lives in P. Ridge) all the time about calling fizzy beverages “soda.” We are in the Midwest, son. We say “pop.”

17. BBQ Grippo’s will destroy your stomach lining.
Back when every city used to have it’s own potato chip distributor, Cincinnati had Grippo’s. Thankfully, they’re still around, because you haven’t eaten real barbecue flavored chips until you’ve eaten Grippo’s. No joke, there is literally more seasoning than chip. And if you eat too many of them, not only will your mouth be set on fire, but you might give yourself an ulcer, too.

It’s soooo worth it, though. You can even buy the seasoning separate, and put it on everything (or give your chips another douse).

18. At P&G, all roads lead to the ‘Nati.
If you aren’t a transplant due to college or some other entrepreneurial endeavor, you’re probably a Procter & Gamble employee. So much of the city centers around our biggest Fortune 500 company, and you can spot a P&G-er from a mile away.

19. We like to be first.
First sky scraper.
First MLB team.
First Ohio newspaper.
First public television station.
First man on the moon.
First Jewish hospital.
First paid municipal fire department.
First air mail delivery.
First woman to own and operate a large manufacturing company.
First organized cornhole organization.

Need I go on?

20. We actually aren’t named after Cincinnatus.
Well, technically yes, but why would a random American city pay homage to a Roman dude who had nothing to do with us? It’s because Cincinnati is really named for George Washington, the farmer who became emperor and then humbly returned to farming. He’s the American version of the Roman Cincinnatus.

Another fun fact: We have the only official copy of the famous She-Wolf, Romulus and Remus statue in Eden park, a gift from Rome: from the city of seven hills on a bend in the river to the other city of seven hills on a bend in the river.

21. This is the best city ever.
And I’ll end with that.

(Basically my theme song.)

"Cincinnati" by Keanu Reeves, Drew Barrymore, Jill Schoelen, and Googy Gress, from the TV Movie Babes in Toyland (1986)

9 Reasons Why People Don’t Always Understand Cincinnatians

I start college in a week and a half, and those of you who have been following my life for a while now know that I am OVERJOYED to be staying in the city I love so much. So basically, while I’m on this huge city love kick, and in an effort to help out our beloved transplants, all of my posts will be about Cincinnati. So if you’ve never visited and have no clue what I’m talking about, just bear with me for the next few post days. Who knows? Maybe you’re interest will be peaked and you’ll come visit us sometime. Look me up, I’m in the book! (Don’t actually do that, that would be stalkerish and creepy.)

1. We sometimes say things funny.
Occasionally, the reason people can’t understand us is as simple as, they really just can’t understand us. What are you trying to say? Warsh? Yes, warsh, as in “to clean your clothes,” or as in George Warshington (who our city is actually named after, fun fact). And don’t be offended when we say “please?” We are not forcing you to be more polite, we are just asking you to repeat yourself. That weird mix of southern twang and east coast pretention exemplifies Cincinnati’s midwest cocktail of a culture. 

2. We eat soupy chili on spaghetti with cheese.
Yes, it’s called a 3-way, and it’s delicious. I usually get mine with onions and make it a 4-way.

And please don’t ever tell us that our chili isn’t “real chili.” There is only one ingredient required for it to be deemed chili, and that is, of course, chili powder. We have that. Ergo, Skyline is not just real chili, it is the best chili.

3. Directions aren’t really a thing.
In a city filled with hills, five-way stops, and broken-up roads, either you know exactly where you’re going, or you’re going to get lost at some point. And our downtown one-ways aren’t like those of other cities. If you end up on the wrong street, at some point you’re ending up in Kentucky.

But really, as long as you know the few major roads that everything stems off of (Central Parkway, Madison, Westwood Northern, etc.), you should be fine. Also, know that there is a difference between taking a “right” and a “Cincinnati right” (either a hairpin or flaccid right, depending on which is most extreme at your location). Besides, getting lost is usually the best way to get to know the city well.

4. We probably have too much pride in our individual neighborhoods.
Another consequence of the glacial moved hills, Cincinnati has very distinct neighborhood dividers. I take this as a good thing, as it gives our city tons of awesome character and a special diversity you won’t find anywhere else. But, as an unbiased observer, let me tell you that most of the city’s cool is focused in the center neighborhoods: (south to north) downtown, OTR, CUF (where I live, and where the University is), Clifton, and Northside. Basically the best places in the city, and have hella cool restaurants and record shops.

5. So what’s the deal with the east and west sides?
While on the neighborhood note: Cincinnati has a pretty well-known conflict between the east side and west side. Don’t worry, it’s not really gang related or anything, just a fun little rivalry. It was illustrated incredibly well (literally and figuratively) by Cincinnati native cartoonist Jim Borgman, you should be able to read some of it here.

6. Goetta
Okay, yeah, Goetta is a weird one. A weird, delicious one. It’s basically a breakfast sausage made out of mixed meat, spices, and steel cut oats (but we use it for things other than breakfast, too). It’s supposedly German, but honestly, I lived in Germany for three months and I never found any, so it might just be a Cincinnati thing.

7. Most of us can’t comprehend identifying with only one political party.
This is one thing that I think was very valuable to see growing up. Yes, there are still many people in Cincy who blindly follow one party or the other, and true, the east side leans Donkey and the west Elephant, but at least we have both sides represented. More so than in other cities of it’s size, Cincinnati’s residents and politicians have a reputation for identifying as moderates or undeclared, which frees us to vote based on policies and beliefs rather than on title, which enables us to more effectively help and build into our city, which I think is great. We even claim the longest running ruling third party, the Charter Party, which was dominant in the 1950s and ’60s, and still has several members on the city council.

On the other hand, though, it makes election time a bitch with all the campaign ads. Seriously, if you’ve never been in a swing state around October, consider yourself blessed.

8. We sometimes forget that Kentucky is actually a different state.
Refer back to reason 3: you will often end up in Kentucky. Living in University Heights, a few of the Northern Kentucky business districts are actually closer to me than those in Hyde Park or Kenwood. Also, if you want to go anywhere east along the river, like New Richmond, you better believe you’ll be driving across the bridges a couple of times.

9. We have an unnatural love for our city.
When I talk about Cincinnati to outsiders, they never seem to understand why I am so obsessed with it or how my emotion towards my city run so deep. I usually get, “Cincinnati? Isn’t that the city that had all those race riots not too long ago?” or “But don’t you want to watch a football team that actually wins?” (For the record, I’m a baseball fan all the way, and we have hella history in that department. Besides, UC’s football team usually does pretty well, anyway.) But really, there is nothing that can really describe why or how I love my city this much. Cincinnati’s been through a lot, and I have had the pleasure of watching it grow and revitalize over the past 18 years. And ask any Cincinnatian who pays attention to their city: especially recently, we have felt like something so much bigger. Big things are happening in the future for our city. And this isn’t just hope, or even optimism. This is a real belief that things are happening in our city, right here, right now. And it’s really nothing short of awesome.

A Love Letter to Cincinnati

Dearest Cincinnati,

In 1996, I was born at your University Hospital on Pill Hill to two very loving parents, one transplant and one native. I spent my earliest weeks just down the street in college town—Clifton if you ask us, University Heights if you ask those living in the Gaslight district (who get angry if you call anyone but them Cliftonites). I grew up in this house, sandwiched between a shotgun style boarding house and an apartment building whose parking lot is the main attraction of our kitchen window.

My neighborhood was never the safest place to be. I was never allowed outside by myself, and in 2001, the race riots in Over the Rhine got so bad that my parents considered moving out of the center of the city. But now, looking back as an adult, I’m so glad they didn’t. My neighborhood provided me with the perfect fusion of caution and independence, so that now I know how to keep myself safe and still enjoy the world. Besides, I make fun of the people in Mason so much now, it would be hypocritical had we moved.

Words cannot express how much I truly love you. I believe that there is a very special type of affection present now, felt by every Cincinnatian who puts effort into paying attention to you. When I talk to outsiders, or even some transplants, they never seem to fully understand the reasons behind it. I’ve heard them say to me, “Well, that’s because you’ve never lived anywhere else,” or, “You’ve just been brainwashed by too much Skyline chili,” “Why are you so obsessed with the city?” Because: things are happening in you, and to you. And this isn’t just empty hope or optimism: this is a true belief, a real observation, that, when I walk down your streets, I see people moving and shaking, and doing things within the I-275 loop.

I walk down Race Street and marvel at the gorgeous Italianate architecture in OTR. I go to Findlay Market and come back with a stomach full of Belgian waffles and a heart full of Cincinnati friendliness. I explore the independent shops of Clifton and Northside and rejoice in the entrepreneurship that built you. I drive all across town, on both Madison and Westwood Northern, and sense a camaraderie that transcends the east-west rivalry.

Cincinnati, I hear you singing everywhere I go.

I love you, but at the beginning of this year, it was doubtful that I would stay. Now, nothing can describe the warm fuzzies I get when I proudly proclaim that yes, I am staying! I start college next week, and I am so overjoyed to have made the decision to spend my next five years here, once again. We’ve been through it all: riots, poverty, feuds, gentrification, revitalization, and even that horrid construction on I-75 that could only have come from hell.

When Carrie Bradshaw told the world that she was in love with her city, she had no idea, the depth of love for mine. Nothing can compare to you—to my city, to our city. I can’t wait to see what the world does with you, and I can’t wait to be part of it. Even if, by some stroke of the unknown, I someday move away, I will still never leave you behind.

I love you, Cincinnati. Let’s have a chili date soon.


Movies I Have Seen Way Too Many Times, no. 9


Okay, seriously, has anyone not seen this movie, like, a gazillion times? It’s really perfect for everyone and every occasion—it has action, romance, comedy pirates, kings and queens, and even some of the most epic bromances you will ever find. There isn’t that much more you could ask of a movie. I remember we even watched it in my English class my junior year of high school. We were studying satire or something like that.

This is also one of the few movies that I will admit is just as good as the book. I would actually normally say that it surpasses it’s written counterpart, but the book does have the benefit of having more witty editing comments in between the sections. They tried to replicate this in the movie through the grandpa, and I must say, it does a pretty phenomenal job of capturing the main idea. There is just never enough time in the movies to fully reveal all the story’s intent.

And I absolutely cannot discount the brilliantly written script, or even the acting. Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin and Andre the Giant all totally own their trio of characters. And Christopher Guest is, of course, awesome in everything, especially being so un-typecast. Cary Elwes is incredibly dreamy in the bad-ass, confident, love-smitten role of the hero. And we already know how much I love everything having to do with either of the Savage brothers.

In all honesty, though, probably the main reason I love this movie (besides the fact that it is just a good movie) is the fact that I can disguise my hopeless romantic qualities in favor of a swashbuckling action-adventure. I can seem intellectual and high brow while still laughing at crude humor. I can indulge in the love scenes without jeopardizing my bad-ass feminist image (not that I actually have that sort of image, but sometimes I like to pretend I’m that cool).

Not that there’s anything wrong with being a hopeless romantic. I’ve learned to embrace it. But it’s fun to have a mixture of things and, of course, rodents of unusual size.


Also one of the most quotable movies of all time. And some of the best humor. I die every time I watch the “mawwage” scene.

We All Went to Italy and This Was the General Impression
8”x8”, colored pencil on paper, drawn as an 8’x8’ chalk drawing concept

We All Went to Italy and This Was the General Impression

8”x8”, colored pencil on paper, drawn as an 8’x8’ chalk drawing concept


As our first bit of college reading, all the first years at my school were required to read Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? as our common read. Michael Sandel, the author and a Harvard professor, is coming to speak at our first year convocation ceremony.

Needless to say, I don’t really want to hear him speak.

Rarely do I ever finish a book that I genuinely don’t enjoy, because I either simply don’t finish it, or if it must be read for school, try to find at least some enjoyment in it. Unfortunately, I honestly did not like this book at all.

Now, I’m not going to just sit here and slam it for all it’s worth, because it did have a select few decent qualities. After all, it is written by Harvard professor with his PhD, so clearly the man has some merit. It really just doesn’t show through in his writing.

Sandel’s book is a discussion on the meaning of justice in a modern democratic society, and on how the populous (read: the reader) would best go about achieving it. Sandel examines different points of view, from utilitarianism to libertarianism and everything in between. Essentially, his conclusion is mostly a call to reevaluate your citizenship, and live it out.

The biggest problem with the book, however, was not necessarily the ideas. Although I did disagree with a large portion of the assumptions he made (as an economics major, I don’t think judging an economic concept as a moral guideline is even remotely applicable), that still shouldn’t stop me from learning something, right? I’m just now finishing up The Fountainhead for the third time, and I’m very far from being an Objectivist, but I still love the book. The issue with Justice is that, for as compelling as some of the arguments are, they are oftentimes poorly written. More often than not, Sandel comes across as someone who does not fully understand many of the theories for which he is offering counterarguments. And obviously he should know his stuff if he has doctorate from Oxford, but his lack of visible comprehension in the text undermines his credentials. Put simply, Sandel’s arguments are hard to follow because of unnecessary complexity and length.

Because it is a book on philosophy, any author would easily be expected to have an overarching opinion that would naturally form his or her arguments, so for the purpose of Justice, it would not be a major problem for there to be a bias in the writing, so long as there exists enough counterarguments to show the author still understands the different points. Another main flaw in Justice is that Michael Sandel does not make his bias clear until the very end of the book. This leads to many of the outlined theories and examples being confusing for the reader, nebulous in whether they are supporting or refuting his argument. To be perfectly honest, I as a reader did not fully understand “where he is going with this” until the very end. This actually made me relatively angry, with a sort of knowledge that I would have understood his discussions much better, had I known what exactly he was trying to discuss.

I, personally, had no problem grasping the theories he was trying to explain, but only because I came into the book with prior knowledge. At the core, I know what libertarianism is. I know Kurt Vonnegut’s criticisms on egalitarianism. As said previously, I’m a business economics major. I understand utilitarianism (an economic concept) like the back of my hand. But, being totally honest, had I not already studied politics and philosophy, I’m afraid I would have little to no clue of what Sandel’s argument is. The explanations he provides are either long and (again) unnecessarily complex, or gloss over important aspects that are fundamental to the discussion of morals. Aside from a few well-placed metaphors and examples, much of the book is incredibly difficult to follow, which distracts quite a bit from the discourse and analysis.

To be fair, I appreciated the end goal of Justice. Michael Sandel’s evaluation of citizenship is much needed in today’s world of hyper individualism and epicurean materialism. And, had it been executed better, I’m sure the book would have been an excellent call to society around “doing the right thing.” Unfortunately, though, the book Justice has much to be desired.

A Talk About Feminism: Regarding Health & Beauty Products

Hey, faithful readers! I decided that it’s been too long since I’ve actually had a real opinion post (excepting reviews, those don’t count). And of course, when opinions happen on this blog, we know it’s going to be about one of two things: slavery or feminism. Today, we’re throwing it back to feminism, with the marginally less controversial subsection (but also an often glossed-over one) of health and beauty products.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking: “ugh, Jillian, please don’t give us a long, complicated speech on makeup, we already hear way too much about that industry.” And I know guys, I hear you, and I agree. I do plan on discussing that in a future post, but I want to be able to devote a fair amount of time to editing and going over that one eventually, and so for the purpose of this article, we’re going to mostly leave makeup out.

What I want to talk more about is health products, like deodorant and razors and soap and stuff.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and honestly, I feel like a lot of health and beauty brands are some of the biggest culprits of perpetuating female stereotypes, even though it’s one of the areas that, for the most part, goes unnoticed in terms of getting called out for. I do have to qualify this discussion, though, because, to be fair, health products actually do require a differentiation between the sexes, due to basic medical and anatomical facts that we can’t avoid (I’ll talk more about that later). Also, to give credit where credit is due, some of our most powerful advocates for women’s rights in the consumer industries come from the areas of health and beauty, which also probably stems from qualifying statement numero uno, even if it’s not always advocating for the perfect things (and again, more about that later).

My two biggest qualms within the industry are these: deodorant and razors—things that both men and women use more or less equally. Yet, in both cases, men’s products seem to be so much stronger than those for women. Why?

Read More

9 Reasons Why Camping is the Best Vacation Option

Okay, so I don’t know about all you, but I love camping. Like, absolutely adore it. For those of you who weren’t so fortunate to grow up camping with your family, and especially for those of you who have never been but still maintain that it is awful, here’s my defense for it:

1. Money Money Money
Okay, I know that this is a pretty obvious (and maybe somewhat shallow) reason to start with, but it’s totally forreal. I grew up in a lower middle class family, which means that if it weren’t for camping, we probably wouldn’t have been able to afford a vacation at all. I’m not saying we’re poor or anything, I grew up comfortably and am definitely not complaining, but I also can’t deny that this was such a huge benefit for my parents at the time. Even now, as a young adult, I went on two trips with my friends this summer: a three night camping trip at Miami Whitewater and a one night roap trip to Asheville. The Asheville thing? $146 per person, for only one night, not including all the food. Camping? $35 per person total, including all food, three nights reservation. That’s a pretty big difference, if you ask me. Now I can save my money for things that really matter, like Lizzie McGuire box sets.

2. Sleep
Remember in tenth grade health class, when your teacher tried to teach you about the circadian rhythm? Well, in case you don’t remember, or if you’re like me and painted your nails all through health class, the circadian rhythm is basically your body’s pattern of telling you when it’s time to sleep, and when you’re fabulous and well-rested. Long story short, artificial lighting messes up your body’s natural rhythms, and can make it tougher to fall asleep and get a good night’s rest. Camping actually resets your circadian clock, amazingly in just a few days. I always sleep so much better while and immediately after I go camping; this is real science talk, guys, I’m not just making this stuff up.

3. Books
Those of you who know me or have been following this blog for a while know that I’m kind of obsessed with books. And I read more in a week of camping than I do in a whole month of summer, and a whole two months of classes. I’m not entirely sure why—it could be that I have fewer distractions (read: electronics), or that I spend more time just sitting and enjoying my time, or that I’m more motivated to be productive and intellectual while surrounded by nature, or a combination of all of those, plus more. Whatever way, though, it’s awesome. After a good camping trip, not only does by body feel rejuvenated, but my brain does, too.

4. Campfires
There is nothing better than coming home and smelling all your campfire-y clothes. Also, hot dogs and marshmallows. Which brings me to my next point…

5. Food
Okay, I don’t know what it is, but food just tastes better when you’re camping.

And I know what you non-campers are thinking: eww, like that freeze dried backpacking food in the outdoors aisle at Meijer?

No, I’m not that intense. We bring our truck, we poop in a toilet, we stay at a campsite. We don’t even sleep on the ground. We use a camp stove and fresh blueberries we bought outside of the campground to make pancakes. We even use a makeshift refrigerator, a big cooler with block ice in it.


It seriously works incredibly well.

6. Lakes/Oceans/Whatever body of water strikes your fancy
My favorite campsite I have ever been to (and trust me, it’s out of many) by far is P.J. Hoffmaster State Park on the western coast of Michigan. The lake is so nice, and that’s coming from someone who gets sunburned really easily and usually hates the beach. Plus, the area is much cooler than where I live (Southeast Ohio a.k.a. humidity hell), which I really enjoy. I also like fishing. Especially for catfish, because then you don’t even have to hold your pole. It’s the ultimate level of laziness in fishing.

7. Bike riding
Whenever I stay at a campsite, I end up basically biking everywhere. Which is great, because I love biking, and I live in an area not entirely conducive to it (along with being humidity hell, my area is also hill central). But, in all seriousness, let’s face it: if my bathroom is more than ten feet away, I don’t really feel like walking all the way there. Plus, you get there faster on wheels.

8. Outdoors
This seems like another pretty obvious one, but I’m going to defend it on account of two things: bugs and dirt. And yes, if I were to change anything about camping, I would absolutely want to tone down those two things (also the ones our good friend Jim Gaffigan loves so much). But here’s the deal: it’s really not that bad. Especially if you go somewhere cooler, or even in spring or fall, you’ll be wearing jeans, anyway, and won’t have that much of a problem with mosquitoes. And honestly, I’m not that hardcore. I take showers when I camp. And I’ve never been to a campsite whose bathhouse is unacceptable in any way (I would still advise you to read the camper reviews before you go, though). Even if you do decide to “go grubby,” everyone else is grubby to some extent, too. No one cares what you look like, it’s basically a big comradeship of fellow dirty campers, it’s great! I once walked into the bathhouse to find two older teenage girls putting on hella makeup, and I wanted to smack them. We’re camping, morons! Do it right or go home!

Even you are the kind of person who (to quote my boyfriend) “doesn’t do bugs” (he still really likes camping, though), renting a cabin is still much cheaper than a hotel room. Plus, you get more space. Just drench yourself in bug spray, and buy a fogger (seriously, those things actually do work).

9. Company
All of these reasons are great and all, but honestly, if I had to pick one ultimate reason of why you should go camping, it would be this. No matter who you go with—whether that be your family, friends, or yourself—I promise you will bond. Trust me, anyone who has seen you live outside will instantly understand you better, if only for a little. Again, you’re not all holed up in a tight hotel room, so less chance of getting on each others’ nerves. And if you do end up fighting, hey! Take a walk in the woods!

I just saved your marriage, you can thank me later.