The following articles are a selection of posts that each writer on The Boylan Blog has deemed their “best of,” that is worth being immortalized (for the summer, at least, until regular posting resumes). Enjoy!

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“Coming of Age” by Camille Dourmashkin-Cagol

The triumphs of being fourteen—a peek into the past through the resurrection of an idyllic summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

To read, click here.


“M’prale Nan Mache!” by Nathalie D.

An inside look at the famous district markets of Haiti, and my family’s disproportionate amount of shoes. It’s been an absolute honor to write for you all.

Click here to check it out.


“Currently Eating Whatever the Heck I Want” by Merav Kraitenberger

A personal account of recovery from an eating disorder, or, the story about hope and rebirth I never thought I’d be writing.

Read it here.


“Ethiopian Cuisine” by Jason Bach

A dish that has captured one of my fondest memories in 2017 (and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it).

You can check it out here!


“Secrets” by Margaret Iuni

An invitation to rekindle curiosity even though it is sometimes easier to stop searching for the universe’s secrets.

Read it here.


“Morning” by Lora Pavlovich

Reflecting over early hours’ potential for productivity, and how the light shines through my bedroom window.

You can read it here.


“Art as Therapy” by Alana Graffam

Looking at art and being inspired by it as a form to deal with anxiety and other types of mental illnesses. Bonus! It includes pictures and a personal anecdote from yours truly 🙂

Check it out here.


“First He Took Cohen” by Emily Gallagher

In the midst of the U.S. airstrikes on Syria (back in April) buffoon newscaster Brian Williams bastardizes a lyric from the legendary Leonard Cohen to marvel at the “beauty” of warfare. Emily’s unabashed rage seeps through.

Check it out here.


“An Anthropologist on Earth: People Who Have Autism Are Not From Mars” by Michelle Cherian

A commentary on an excerpt from “An Anthropologist on Mars” by Oliver Sacks, while exploring the spectrum of autism through my little brother.

Check it out here.


“act v” by Christopher LaSasso

A goodbye framed through the lens of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Read here.


“Fuck you Change” by Kayla Nathaniel

A poem expressing one’s deepest fears and insecurities of change, which unfortunately is inevitable.   

To read it, click here!


“A Trip Down Memory Lane” by Lisbett Rodriguez

Remembering childhood through food.

To read it, click here.


“Title: A Retrospect” by Onur A. Ayaz

A retrospective piece about myself. 

To read it, click here!


“‘Brand New Sounds In My Mind’: On Lorde and Moving On” by Isaiah Rivera

An exploration of grief and the power of a well-placed pop song during a rough patch in one’s life.

Linked here.

— The Boylan Blog

Hello, my friends!

I hope to any mothers, grandmothers, and soon-to-be mothers, that yesterdays celebration of all things motherly reflected all of the love and care you put in day after day. 

Take a moment and thank the nearest mother. I’m sure she’d appreciate it. But don’t be weird about it on the train or something, like, “Hey, are you a mother? Because I really appreciate your efforts.” Be subtle about it, huh?

Onto more student-related activities…

TODAY IS THE JUNCTION FUNCTION!!!!!! Okay, I apologize for the jarring colors. But yes, The Junction Function is upon us so join us tonight in the Student’s Center in the Occidental Lounge at 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM for an Open Mic, a dinner, and the celebration of our annual literary magazine which highlights the kinds of creative and talented voices across Brooklyn College!

Below is the flyer: 

Junction

I also want to take a moment to congratulate every single student on this campus for making it through another semester. College is no easy task. In fact, it is some of the hardest work you’ll ever do! Pulled in ninety-one different directions, faced with abstract ideas of what your future will hold… it is frightening stuff, but at the same time it incites a fire in the hearts of people like I’ve never seen! So take a moment this summer and reward yourself. Reward yourself for all of your hard work and all of the effort you put in with each passing day. And if you don’t, well. What would your mother think? 

Ciao

Christopher LaSasso

“Misbehaving at the Met”

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of Jay Gatsby’s parties: “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” The closest thing we can find to one of Gatsby’s parties, the Met Gala is an annual benefit and themed party attended by hundreds of stars. More than just champagne and cameras, the Gala’s theme kicks off a fashion exhibition open to the public and held at the Met’s Costume Institute (It is open as of May 4th and runs until September 4th, 2017). The theme this year was “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between,” only the second retrospective the Met has ever done on a living designer (Yves Saint Laurent’s exhibit in 1983 was the first). And as the cameras clicked on May 1st, photos flickered and came and went on social media amidst the gowns and the suits and the celebs.

Imagine the flashbulbs and smoke curling out of the ladies’ room at this year’s Met Gala. See Rihanna appropriately dressed in Comme des Garcons and Zendaya dramatically draped in Dolce & Gabbana.

The Costume Institute Benefit celebrating the opening of Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between, Arrivals, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA - 01 May 2017

After Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine, banned selfies at the Met Gala in 2015, stars took to the bathroom to cement their selfies in social media history:

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But when board members caught wind of VIPs like Bella Hadid, Lara Stone, and Marc Jacobs, to name a few, smoking in the ladies’ bathroom, one even complained to Anna Wintour directly. The risk of cigarette smoke damaging the precious and vulnerable art throughout the Met is serious, and the celebs seemed to get themselves into even more trouble by documenting the drama on social media.

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What are we left with? Pictures as proof of bedazzled misbehavior. Sometimes we damn ourselves with our own actions; it’s in our stars. Cigarettes and bathrooms seem to exhibit our very upmost self-destructive and human parts. And all we can do sometimes is stay in the moment until the next flashbulb goes off. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ineffable Myrtle—“All I kept thinking about, over and over, was ‘You can’t live forever; you can’t live forever…”

–Camille Dourmashkin-Cagol

“Unity is What We Need”

Miley, Miley, Miley!

I actually loved you, I was one of your biggest fans. I attended your concert and now I’m attempting to figure out whether I regret it or not.

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So when I read Miley Cyrus’ Billboard May Cover Story, I was disappointed to say the least and this story hit home very quickly.

As a senior, who is so keen on hip hop music that I dedicated 30 pages or more for my English senior thesis on the the hierarchy of language and music within the context of hip hop music, her statement was absolutely abysmal.

On May 3rd, Miley Cyrus conducted an interview and of course as the fan I was I immediately jumped at the opportunity to read it! Everything was going well until this question came up. Her response was even more problematic than the question itself.

Did folk singer Melanie Safka [with whom Cyrus performed in 2015] ­influence you?

She responds:

She did, and I grew up with her. But I also love that new Kendrick [Lamar] song [“Humble”]: “Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks.” I love that because it’s not “Come sit on my dick, suck on my cock.” I can’t listen to that anymore. That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little. It was too much “Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock” — I am so not that.

This was my reaction…

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There has been a consistent struggle between identifying her behavior or similar behavior as cultural appropriation. I say, “If the shoe fits…”

 Miley Cyrus worked with one of the best hip hop producers, Mike Will Made it, when he produced seven of the thirteen tracks on her album, Bangerz. She was also featured on some of the most relevant hip hop artist’s albums, such as Future and French Montana.

So for her to completely flip the script and degrade hip hop music and reduce it to ” a scene” was utterly despicable and disrespectful.

What is a music scene? Unless this discussion was regarding a music video, she was completely out of context.

Hip hop is a culture, not “a scene”, let’s get that straight. This culture originated in the South Bronx during the 1970s and has been around ever since. There has been a lot of nuancing and modifying which is absolutely understandable as time passes.

Her statement dismisses hip hop’s culture into one specific song type. These lyrics are vulgar at times which is entirely undeniable, however that is not what makes hip hop, hip hop. The artists writing and performing lyrics that reflect their truths is what hip hop is. The crux of Miley’s issue is her inability to comprehend the music’s culture before she denounces it as a vulgar song. Vulgar songs appear in every genre, so her statement demonstrated ignorance on her part.

One thing that should never happen is for a country/pop artist to use the resources of hip hop music and its artists, profit from both the publicity and the sales of hip hop music that she appropriated and then say she’s leaving the “scene” because it’s not her. Like, give me a break!

Let’s be real, she appropriated the art of twerking (not that she did it correctly anyway) and made it “popular” when it was a part of a well established black culture of Bounce Music in New Orleans. Twerking may even go back to a dance called Mapouka in West Africa.

 Celebrities including Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians see hip hop culture as a “trend of the week” or a “cute new style to debut.” They have appropriated hip hop’s music, hairstyles and fashion which are some of the most essential elements of the genre. However, these “new trends” are not new at all neither are they trends for that matter. This culture is not a trend, a fad, or something cute.

2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Celebrity Sightings

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Kim Kardashian Questionable Hair Style Change

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The problem with cultural appropriation is that hip hop music’s increasing radio play is a product of commercialization and popularization. These appropriating tendencies lend a hand to the formation of “mainstream hip hop.” This presents a problem as mainstream is the ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as normal or conventional. Conventional hip hop music shouldn’t be according to those who determine what mainstream music is. The larger issue is that there shouldn’t be a distinction between “mainstream” and “underground.” All music is music and should be respected as such.

After social media reacted to her disheartening, viral comments, Miley attempted a recant:

‘To be clear I respect ALL artists who speak their truth and appreciate ALL genres of music (country , pop , alternative …. but in this particular interview I was asked about rap).’

‘At this point in my life I am expanding personally/musically and gravitating more towards uplifting, conscious rap!’

‘As I get older I understand the effect music has on the world & Seeing where we are today I feel the younger generation needs to hear positive powerful lyrics!’

At this point it was already way too late for me and I am sure many others.

I am like:

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I believe that if she was concerned about the “truth” behind hip hop music’s content then she wouldn’t have made such horrendous comments to begin with.

Why should the culture be reduced to an aesthetic or something commercially convenient?

She says, “Because clearly ­unity is what we need.” How ironically asinine coming from someone who can’t even grasp one of the cultures of this country.

Until she makes some changes within herself, she needs to be quiet about what changes the country needs.

For more, click here.

Kayla Nathaniel

Prime Time Loving

Author’s Note: The poem I am addressing is the very first poem that Baker performs (ends around 4:08), but I encourage you to watch his whole TED Talk when you have time.


I have always had a secret inferiority complex because I am an Actuarial Mathematics major interning at the English Majors’ Counseling Office.  I am always insecure about my writing.  I am constantly surrounded by extremely talented writers, the majority of whom have paved such wonderful research paths.  And here I am trying my hardest to just understand a proof that someone else made up in order to pass my Advanced Calculus class.

I have always felt that I never belonged anywhere.  I am never “enough” of anything to fit comfortably in any clique.  I don’t love equations enough to be a math geek.  I don’t read enough books to ever consider myself a bookworm.  My face is girly-girl.  My body is tomboy.  I float on some strange line between allo- and asexual.  My sun is in Leo and my moon is in Cancer.  I am basically a catastrophe.  And I find myself having to pick a side, but whenever I do, I feel like I’m leaving a part of me behind.

And I think that this idea of deciding between two sides has left me anxious for the future.  I find myself thinking, “How can I be an actuary AND write poetry?” like it’s some kind of impossible feat for two opposites to exist in one body.  Like the numbers will expand into every corner of my universe until there is no more room for any words to fall out on my page.  Like I’ll turn into a computer that must communicate in a string of zeros and ones and I will speak myself into the binary that I am so terrified of.

But when I discovered the existence of Harry Baker, my eyes were opened.  Harry Baker is the winner of the Poetry Slam World Cup in 2012.  And in the beginning of his Ted Talk (after a really corny introductory poem), he says “Yeah, I’m Harry.  I study maths.  I write poetry.  So I thought I’d start with a love poem about prime numbers.”

I know I identify with a lot of strange things (from tater tots to wugs), and whenever I see anything that is remotely like me, I have this strange habit of screaming “It me!” or “Same!” But when Harry said that, I internally screamed the biggest “It me!!!!” I ever had.  Who knew that an Indian woman could identify so much with a white British man?

Out there.  On the other side of the pond.  There exists a man.  Who studied maths.  Who won the 2012 Poetry Slam World Cup.

He won the competition with the poem, “Paper People”, but I personally love his poem “59”.  It’s such a quirky story about two prime numbers (59 and 61) that fall in love.  And I don’t know if I could point out one line I love, but in all the years that I have fallen in love with poetry, I have learned that a great poem is one that makes you glad that it exists.  A great poem to you is not a great poem to everyone.  A great poem to you is one that makes you feel like you are not the only person in the world.  And the existence of this poem, somehow, in some strange, intangible way, it makes me proud to say,

“Yeah, I’m Michelle Cherian.  I study maths. I write poetry.”

Michelle Cherian

Reading Down Memory Lane

I don’t remember the first book I ever read. I can’t possibly remember the first book ever read to me. But as I write this, I am reliving some of my reading-past as I spend the last few hours of Mother’s Day sorting through some of my children’s books to give away.

When I was small, bedtime each night brought a story read by one of my parents. Usually it was dad, as he had the best character voices, but sometimes when dad was working late, mom would step in. I loved a good Alphapets story, and to this day we still quote one line from Take One Home Free. “Perhaps I’ll like it, if I try” became a motto of sorts for us all, and my parents would recite it each time we were hesitant to try new things.

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Dad’s best voices were reserved for Grover, though. By the third page of The Monster at the End of this Book, my siblings and I would be doubled over with laughter. It didn’t matter how many times we read it, Grover’s antics never grew old and our laughter never grew weaker.
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Mom usually opted for more tame books. You know, ones that would actually calm us down to get ready for bed. Biscuit was one of my favorite “Mom Books” because I always thought he was quite cute. Mom would have us point to certain words and read along with her when we could, helping us with tough noises like “tch.”

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Later, as I began reading on my own, we continued to talk about what I was reading and what I learned from those books. Whether it was Amelia Bedelia (don’t take things too seriously) or Magic Tree House (history can be fun), my early chapter book days were filled with communal rereads and discussions.

Children’s books are wonderful, but without the love and support of my family, I don’t know that they would have been as effective. I certainly doubt that I would have been as “big” of a reader as I am today. There was nothing quite as great as coming home from the school library with a stack of new books and a smile on my face, ready to share new worlds with the people I loved most. Without this early foundation, I might not have ever chosen to study English at the collegiate level.

As I sort through crates of these books, each carrying memories sealed between small covers with brilliant illustrations, I find myself holding on to each one. My heart aches as I wonder how I could possibly give any of them away. They are sweet and lovely, but more than that, they are my history. They are my father’s work days come to an end. They are my mother’s hugs as I successfully read a word. They are my siblings drifting to sleep as the page turning slows. They are my grandparents’ gifts. They are the worlds that shaped me.

And it’s hard to let that all go.

Margaret Iuni

Currently Watching My Success Story

(Play the song while reading the post, for Tom Chaplin and I are one)

Pretty much my entire life, I walked around with this deep-seated yet completely irrational fear of looking at myself, specifically on camera. Whenever there was any footage of me, whether I was speaking, laughing, moving, or what have you, I’d be repulsed by pretty much anything the camera caught me doing. I’d cringe, cover my eyes, grit my teeth, and regret with everything in me that I ever let myself be recorded. Of course, I eventually got used to seeing myself, but never actually enjoyed watching.

Strangely though, random moments from the past four years have been replaying in my mind like a movie. Each scene rolls on completely out of my control, and I’m forced to watch. I’m forced to see myself walk onto a college campus for the first time, my face so obviously expressing terror, as hard as I try to be brave. I see myself standing behind my bedroom door wringing my hands, trying to work up the courage to tell my mother I want to be an English major. I see my fingers typing at a solid 80 miles per hour at 4am, my foot pumping even faster to keep me awake. I see myself get comfortable, make friends, adapt. I see myself, slowly but surely, snuggle into being a student, an identity I didn’t realize I’d held so closely until now.

I see myself worry about failure so much I throw ideas and hopes in the trash bin next to my bedroom desk. I see myself notice the stares and whispers about the entitled American who cares more about “following her passion” than retiring her mother early. I see myself crack and cower under pressure, under fear, under opinions. I would still cringe and try to cover my eyes, but the scenes would roll on and on, patronizing me.

But I see other things too. I see myself take risks. I see myself get a crazy new obsession every month and then drop it to learn about something new. I see myself meet wonderful people. I see myself learn patience and kindness in ways no one else could teach me. I see myself gain something that looks like confidence. I’m not sure if that’s exactly it, but it’s everywhere: in what I choose, in those I love, in who I become. I see my legs get a little longer, my clothes a little bit smaller, and my strides, just a little bit wider.

Now though, I see things differently. I’m glad I’ve seen it all. And although some scenes are uncomfortable to watch, I’ll play them over and over again. I notice something new with each playback. I see strength, intelligence, humanity; things I hadn’t seen before the movie started. But I see them clearly now. I don’t grit my teeth or cover my eyes anymore. I open them up and watch closely. I laugh at the funny scenes and cry at the sad ones. And when it ends, I stand up, whistle, and applaud.

I’m not so worried about how successful the movie will be. After all, over the span of four long years, I’ve seen success right before my eyes.

-Nathalie D.

Loyal to Ben and Jerry’s

I am an impulsive person who enjoys sweets way too much. This becomes a problem when you’re trying to save money and not to indulge yourself every time you pass by the ice cream or candy aisles at the grocery store. Buying a chocolate bar once in a while seems fine, but when you start to regularly spend over $7 on ice cream and sweets, or worse, when you spend $10 on frozen yogurt because you were feeling too generous with yourself, it’s time to set some boundaries. That’s why I’ve developed a reward system for myself: when I get through a particularly rough week, whether because of mental health stuff or school requirements, I treat myself to a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (a different flavor each time), and maybe something else if I feel like I deserve it. Throughout my college years, I’ve tried a myriad of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavors, but have yet to find a favorite. I’ve had Strawberry Cheesecake (delicious, in my top 5), Red Velvet Cake (disappointing), Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (not as good as Haagen Dazs), Pumpkin Cheesecake (definitely my favorite, though sadly, it was a limited edition flavor), Salted Caramel Core (good but not as good as I hoped), Americone Dream (in my top 5), Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Core (also in my top 5), and more that I can’t remember right now, but this leads me to this week’s current Ben and Jerry’s flavor endeavor.

As some of you may have read in my Currently Listening piece last week, I had several major assignments all due in the same week (update: no all-nighters! Though I didn’t get anywhere near the recommended eight hours of sleep per night). After turning in the last assignment on Thursday, I spent the train ride home deciding whether to treat myself to ice cream or not, and then I remembered I received my paycheck that same day and suddenly it didn’t seem debatable anymore.

When I exited the train, I walked right into the bodega, straight to their ice cream section and searched for a flavor that I had yet to try and that seemed appealing (sorry to Cherry Garcia fans, I’m just not a fan of cherries). Although I hadn’t tried several of the flavors available, none of them seemed like the right choice, then my eyes landed on a pint of Half Baked ice cream. Half Baked had always seemed like every cookie dough lover’s wet dream, yet I’d never gotten around to trying it. As my hand reached for the pint, my eyes landed on something even better than Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream: Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked Froyo. As much as I love ice cream, I am a firm froyo enthusiast, and so my hand quickly changed course and grabbed the newly found pint (in my excitement, I accidentally caused a second pint of froyo to fall). As of now, I have only had a few spoonfuls of it (I would’ve eaten it all on Thursday had it not been for an incident involving a pack of Pepperidge Farm S’mores Cookies that I will not get into,  but if I never have another S’mores cookie, it’ll be too soon). Even though I’ve barely had any, I can already tell this flavor will land in my top 5 flavors, and I assure you that the froyo will all be gone before this post sees the light of day.

-L