Fall 2018 Retrospective Inside this edition: • Local History Goes Digital in the Worcester Historical Museum p.7 • Advice on Using Your Credit Card p.12 • How a Math Major Got an Internship Through Career Services p.15 Plus: • Poetry, prose, comics, and more
New Worcester Spy Print Edition, Fall 2018 Staff
Letter from the Editor
___________________________ Executive Editor Nicole O’Connell Managing Editor Luke Cai Art Associates Nicole Mongeau Jonny VanderSea Luke Cai Assistant Editors Jude Casimir Alex VanAntwerp Outreach Assistant Jude Casimir ___________________________ See our complete archive and coverage at http://newworcesterspy.net ___________________________ For contact, submission, and general inquiry, please email thenewworcesterspy [at] gmail [dot] com
I had my first encounter with the New Worcester Spy about a year ago during club kickoff. I was looking for Worcester State’s student literary publication and met Dr. Cleve Weise, who introduced me to Madison Friend and Noah Goldfarb, then editors, amongst others. I was eager to contribute to the Spy, but when I became an editor this semester, I found myself in the shoes of my former editors, fielding submissions and performing outreach. As an editor greeting new faces in person and in writing, I am happy to see many great submissions and hope to have met a future editor or two along the way. During my tenure as an editor, I planned to polish and publish pieces and was more than happy to contribute as much as I could, from building a print edition, adjusting technical aspects of our Wordpress site, and even editing some html code. Working alongside a great group of editors and associates, I am proud to see how the New Worcester Spy has improved amongst the testament of our activities. As staff, we actively tried to find ways to promote the Spy and grow. In late August, we merged with creative writing group INK to pool our resources and to be visible as a student interest group. In October, we held our Fright Fight Contest to increase readership and host spooky stories for Halloween. Throughout the year, we adjusted our website to be more navigable and improved our WordPress hosting capabilities. Although we faced some hurdles along the way, I hope all the editors and contributors know of my appreciation as our publication continues to grow. My ultimate goal as editor was to see the New Worcester Spy grow into a campus wide publication and continue to grow to cover more of the Worceter community: the ultimate goal of any literary editor. Although this would be a never-ending struggle, seeing new readers and new faces take up the mantle of the New Worcester Spy gives me the hope that our small publication will continue to grow successfully. Moreover, I hope that our growth and visibility will encourage more creative individuals to grow, nurture, and succeed in the Worcester State and surrounding communities. This is my first and last semester as a New Worcester Spy editor, and I’m happy to have seen the club grow as it has. It was never my goal to boast the best reporting, podcasts, short fiction, and poetry that Worcester has to offer, but rather to focus on publishing good pieces with my fellow editors. There are many skills you can’t learn in a classroom, and I’ve gained much experence as an editor. I am certain that the staff has learned much as well, and it is my hope that the New Worcester Spy will continue to grow and thrive. If you have any interest in creative writing, art, journalism, or publishing, I encourage you to attend one of our meetings. If you are part of a group or event that would like more visibility. I encourage you to reach out to the Spy. If you have any interest in writing or improving your creative endeavors, I encourage you to submit as well. -Luke Cai, F’18 Managing Editor, web and print director
The New Worcester Spy www.newworcesterspy.net Fall Retrospective, 2018
_________________________________________________________ Julia Konow
FEATURES, FINDINGS, AND LOCAL NEWS Worcester’s Need for Media Trust
Digitalization in the Worcester Historical Museum
Interview: Prof. Linda Hixon on the Spanish-American War
Latin American History Month Overview
LIFESTYLE & ADVICE Understanding the Credit Card
Student Internship Spotlight: Hanan Ibraheim How a math major interned at Hanover Insurance
Let’s Talk Sex, Erica! Help! My Boyfriend Might be Gay!
Emmanuel Freeman Alex VanAntwerp Sarah Synk
17 17 18
CREATIVE CORNER POETRY “Lost Culture” “Flock”//”Playlist”//”Scream” “Held Back”//”Hospitalized”
Luke Cai Sarah Synk
PROSE “Soppy Christmas” “Because of Annie”
Jonny VanderSea Luke Cai
COMICS “Honeycombs” comic strips Space Howlers series: “Preacher”
Caitlyn Sullivan Luke Cai Alicia Saladino
27 28 30
FRIGHT FIGHT CONTEST “Not Guilty” “Girl with Two Ears and a Knife” “Unsound”
COVER Sullivan Hellenic Statue Overlooking WooState (photo)
Everything in the print edition, and more.
“There’s a lot of evidence saying that the American Revolution began in 1774 in Worcester, not Boston. Boston always seems to want to take credit for everything.” -Wendy Essery, pg 10. Reporting by Tim Jarvis
Features, Findings, and Local News
Worcester’s Need for Media Trust Flicker CC: Dankerk
Worcester today needs to trust the news as the country must heal its wounds By Julia Konow
City councilor Matthew E. Wally flips through the newspaper before heading to the Worcester City Hall. Amy Cardinal, a nursing student at Worcester State University, checks her social media feed to learn about the news before walking to class. Local business owner Charles Dalli listens to the news on the radio while driving to his restaurant. No matter what someone’s role is in the Worcester community, journalism surrounds them. It’s the newspaper sitting in the mailbox, the television screen during the sports game or the evening news, the voice on the radio, and the information that pops up on social media feeds. News has been an integral part of the United States of America for centuries, but how do the American people- and the people of Worcesterperceive journalism in today? “Journalism is a major part of the American society and culture,” said Amy Cardinal, a 20-year-old sophomore at Worcester State University who is majoring in nursing with a minor in Spanish.
With journalism so prevalent in society, many people have mixed views about it. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, only around 22 percent of Americans greatly trust the information that they get from local news organizations, whether online or offline, and 18 percent say the same of national organizations.” The number has surpassed a 2012 Gallup poll by, then a new high in modern US history. In the current climate of political animosity and division, journalism has received steep criticism, with many people questioning its accuracy and truthfulness on a national level and even in Worcester. The Worcester community mirrors the national wariness of biased or fake news reports, but many retain a dedication for journalists and understand the importance of their institutions. “In every profession in life there is bias, but you shouldn’t let it affect your perceptions about the hard work that they do,” said Charles
Dalli, the 54-year-old business owner of Shawarma Palace in Worcester. He went on to explain that journalists have assisted in the growth of his business due to the articles published about his restaurant and that journalism involves a lot of hard work. Dalli is not the only Worcester resident who recognizes the diligence of journalists. Worcester business owners and politicians alike largely recognize the importance of journalists in today’s society. Known as the country’s “fourth estate,” the free press has been a part of American culture since the time of the founding fathers. The correlation between a well-informed society and democracy has been interwoven throughout American history. From Thomas Paine’s revolutionary pamphlet about American independence titled “Common Sense” to the release of the Pentagon Papers, which informed the public about the dark secrets of the Vietnam War, journalists have shared knowledge and informed the public.
Americans have often prided many citizens — in Worcester and themselves on our free press. Its the nation as a whole — have condeep roots branch out right here in cerns about the credibility and integthe Worcester community. rity of many journalistic works. “Journalism is one of the most im“I believe in the public service of portant things that this country has,” journalism,” said Dr. Patricia Benjasaid Olivia Renzi, an 18-year-old min, an associate professor of geogfreshman psychology major at raphy that started teaching at Worcester State University. Worcester State University in 2001. Renzi strongly believes that me- “There are a lot of dedicated journaldia is an essential tool to share infor- ists working, but there are institumation, which can positively impact tions that support journalism falling the lives of many people, and a free apart.” press strengthens the According to a 2017 Pew country as a whole. Cardinal agrees that journalism Research Center study, 59 is a key component of percent of Americans believAmerican society, and believes it is important that ing that journalists should everyone has access to it. solely present the facts. But “The role of journalism in our society today is defon social media, the lack of initely a source of inforofficial editors often leaves mation, along with different opinions about that infact-checking overlooked. formation,” stated Cardinal. Journalists’ presentation of facts Benjamin, for instance, believes to the people has long had the ability that the coverage of topics like the to support civil advocacy, especially correlation between social, environin election times. Along with the mental, and moral impacts is curpresentation of facts, journalists in- rently inadequate. terpret this information for the pubAnother widely discussed critilic, often as a public service. cism of journalism is “fake news,” a In a 1999 Pew Research Center, for phrase frequently used since the instance, journalists were asked, “for 2016 Presidential Election. Accordwhom do you work?” Over 80 per- ing to the article “The Truth About cent responded that a core principle Fake News,” fake news can be deof journalism is having their first ob- scribed as news reports, stories, or ligation be the reader, listener, or posts that are created with the intenviewer. tion of misinforming readers, often “I perceive journalism as critically to deceptively promote particular important in a time when so many political agendas, cause clickbait, stir institutions need to be held account- confusion or panic, or are simply due able for their actions,” said Matthew to misinformed writers. And E. Wally, the Worcester City Counci- with the ever-expanding digital lor for the fifth district, who cur- world and social media’s unfiltered rently resides in Worcester. “Journal- information, America faces the chalism’s role in America today is to pro- lenge of how to determine if inforvide information to the general pub- mation reported is true. lic with an unbiased viewpoint.” A 2016 Pew Research CenWith that, many consider journal- ter study revealed that 64 percent of ism to be the watchdog of the na- American adults believe that fabrition. Journalists are often in a posi- cated news stories tend to cause subtion to monitors the actions of poli- stantial confusion about current cymakers and hold them accounta- events or issues. Even Worcester ble by informing the public. faces the detrimental impacts of false Many perceive the foundation of news reports and mistrust of the mejournalistic institutions as a crucial dia. component to supporting democracy “There’s always going to be a misand sharing information. However, trust of journalists depending on
what you believe or how you personally see a situation or story,” stated Carmen Santaliz, a 41-year-old mother of three and supervisor at the local Worcester Edible Arrangements. Even though the topic of fake news has received significant coverage in the past few years, it is by no means a new concept. Jacob Soll’s article “The Long and Brutal History of Fake News” delves into the various historical accounts of false news reports that caused turmoil in society. Instances of fake news can be traced back to 1475 anti-semitic “blood libel” stories in Trent, Italy. It has also been present in the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake claims that the natural disasters were due to the sinners, Ben Franklin’s American Revolution propaganda stories involving the savagery of Native Americans, antisemitic Nazi propaganda in Germany, and countless other examples. While the epidemic of fake news today is vastly different than these historical examples, citizens still suffer from its negative impacts and the confusion that it can cause. A paramount aspect of journalism is telling the accurate truth in a way that the public can understand. This kind of “truth” involves two elements: correspondence and coherence; getting the facts straight and putting those facts into context and interpreting them for an audience. Both rely on each other to successfully educate the public on current events, issues, or information, but bias often creeps into coherence. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center study, 59 percent of U.S. adults have rejected the addition of interpretation within news media, believing that journalists should solely present the facts. About 82 percent of all U.S. adults believe that fact-checking is a responsibility of the news media. But on social media sites, without official editors, the fact-checking step is frequently overlooked. “Social media is corrupting the industry,” stated Julia Cohen, a sophomore at Worcester State who is majoring in nursing with a minor in Spanish for professional health care. “Less people pay attention to the actual news now.”
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“Unfortunately, too much of journalism is the headline itself as opposed to a story that may not be as exciting but it more important,” said Morris A. Bergman, a City Councilor at Large in Worcester as well as an attorney in private practice. “There’s some really good journalistic work, but online and social media journalism has no means of monitoring. There are grossly negligent and adverse stories about public officials that should have legal consequences.” Bergman said news is often more sensational than credible, and that there are biases on both sides of the political spectrum. Other Worcester residents echoed these concerns. “I feel like now it’s more political,” said Caroline Moll, a sophomore English Secondary Education major at Worcester State University. “It’s important with this current administration to be up to date.” Moll added that fake news is a real issue for journalism, and that a truthful journalistic institution is essential to keep the public accurately informed about current events. Renzi also said that journalism today seems like a competition between the two sides of the political spectrum in order to disprove information. Today, the Worcester Council members are concerned about their
constituents viewing journalism as biased as it causes a wariness and distrust of the institution, especially with the rise of social media and severe political divisions. However, many Americans, as well as numerous Worcester residents, perceive journalism today with a complex mix of distrust and criticism, as well as respect for the journalistic institution and its monumental impact on our country. “With everything that is happening in this country, the media is extremely necessary,” stated James J. O’Day, a state representative in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. “It seems that the media has become this entity that people doubt and see as ‘fake news,’ but I believe that the media is essential when it comes to spreading awareness and giving light to what is happening within our communities. Journalists do not get enough credit with how much work they do and how difficult their job is.” *** Originally published on Oct. 5, 2018. Konow is a sophomore at Worcester State University majoring in English with minors in journalism and writing.
Read more reporting, stories, and columns at newworcesterspy.net Everything in the print edition, and more.
Digitalization in the Worcester Historical Museum In an era where books are often obsolete, library manager Wendy Essery suggests that digitalization cannot solve every problem. By Timothy Jarvis A collection of the Worcester Historical Museum’s archives. Books often pile up in disarray but are in the process of being digitally archived. Photos by Tim Jarvis.
Wendy Essery, library and archives manager for the Worcester Historical Museum, shared her thoughts on the state of the institution, its relationship with the city’s community, what it means to be an archivist in the modern world, and, of course, the local history. Essery began her time with the museum a year ago, and many dramatic changes have occurred within that time. She described the condition of the library when she first arrived as “disturbing.” Books with no bindings and seemingly arbitrary collections of archival materials were haphazardly placed throughout the library and archives which left Essery with “a great concern about the condition of this library.” The museum’s catalog had also not been updated in 15 years, which made simple tasks such as finding a book feel like a needlein-a-haystack search. The situation could well be described as a librarian’s worst nightmare, but Essery has brought nothing but solutions to the labyrinth of complications. For example, a book catalog project, which involves the digitization of the library’s books, is currently underway. Scanning library materials into a digital file
makes them searchable by keyword, avoiding the endless quest for books. Essery also hopes to create a rare book collection in the museum, given the obscurity of some of the library’s materials. This could impose a more efficient system of organization by identifying what items are present and what their significance is. There are several other collections which have their own projects for
digitization and organization, including newspaper clippings, ephemeral pieces, half a million photos, and a map collection. The overwhelming number of collections is one of the library’s greatest challenges. “[We thought] let’s fix the place, so we can get to the place where we can have events and programs like most libraries and archives do,” Essery said. That milestone is not far off as, “now, a year later, we have about
Essery’s tour gives an overview of the large collection piling throughout the museum. Photo by Tim Jarvis.
75 percent done, but there’s still a lot to do.” The central role digitization is playing in the museum’s development is reflective of how the practice is being used in the field of archiving more generally. As it would appear, not even our history is off limits to technology. “Library science as a major has incorporated systems, so you can actually be on the software end of things in libraries,” Essery said. “The industry has changed. A lot of people are retiring because of it, and all the young people are waiting to come in.” However, Essery explained that “we can’t digitize everything,” as the logistics of research would make that counterproductive. You would be lost on the computer for hours if we did so.” Having physical copies of books or newspapers on a shelf in front of a researcher still makes the process more streamlined than staring at a computer database for hours where one may be limited to the select few search words that come to mind. It would seem the balance between the digital and the physical is the ideal for research, given Essery’s insights as a librarian in the 21st century. Essery also noted changes at the local level in terms of the
institution’s strong volunteer and intern base. The library is usually full of volunteers and interns, all contributing to the larger projects Essery is implementing. “I have not had to do any outreach — the volunteers just come to me, and the interesting thing is that every single one will tell me they love history,” Essery said. “People who like history are storytellers,” Essery said. “It’s almost like being a poet in Aristotle’s time.” During Essery’s tenure with the museum, she has made it a point to stop sending people around in circles in their search for information, which she has diagnosed as a problem in the city. The public library, city hall, or any other place historical information can be found seems to send people from one place to another for their research. The museum’s library has set out to prevent this from happening by gaining the ability to provide any knowledge needed or at least being able to reference where it may be found. Information is more readily available because of the library digitization projects and commitment to breaking this cycle. “People want to know what they want to know,” Essery said. “People just say ‘I just want to know this piece of information and how do I
get it?’” The museum seems to now be one of the few places in Worcester where you can do just that. Essery believes Worcester’s rich history often goes uncelebrated. “It could be obscure because people don’t believe it,” Essery said. “Like [how] the [American] Revolution began in 1774 in Worcester. There is a lot of evidence saying this was probably the beginnings of the Revolution. Boston always seems to want to take credit for everything; it’s always a game of I want to be the first one.” But the true answers to many questions about Worcester’s history can be found through careful research. “You can’t believe the first thing you read,” Essery said. “You should always be skeptical and questioning whether what you’re reading is the truth.” *** Originally published Oct. 14, 2018 under the title “Local History Goes Digital in the Worcester Historical Museum.” Jarvis is a senior contributor to the New Worcester Spy majoring in history and liberal studies. In addition to history, he is passionate about the outdoors.
Interview: Prof. Linda Hixon on the Spanish-American War
By Nicole O’Connell
War is a fascinating subject, and Worcester often doesn’t get the recognition or memoriam it deserves. Adjunct history professor Linda Hixon would know: she’s published two books about Worcester residents who served in the Civil War and World War I named For the Unity of the Republic (2016) and They Ventured Far (2017), respectively. She is now focusing on the Spanish-American War, a conflict fought mainly over the summer of 1898 that destroyed the last remnants of the Spanish Empire. In Spring 2018, Hixon taught a class about the Spanish-American War, collecting research from students and volunteers about the 1898 SpanishAmerican conflict, abbreviated colloquially as “SP-AM.” Hixon is in the process of publishing their research in her third research book, covering SP-AM related topics and biographies of local men involved in the war. I was fortunate enough to sit down and talk with Professor Hixon in late September about the so-far-unnamed SP-AM book in late September. This interview was originally published in full on Sept. 20, 2018 under the title “Interviewing Professor Linda Hixon about SP-AM: The Stupid War” and has been trimmed and edited for print. Nicole O’Connell: Why did you decide on the Spanish-American War as a topic for the research class?
How does this book differ from the Civil War and World War I books?
Linda Hixon: Technically, 2018 was the one hundred and twentieth anniversary of it, and I always think of it as a forgotten war, but after research, I realized it was a really big deal up until probably WWI, and then it wasn’t big deal anymore. Sometimes, I think the monument we have, the one that’s down near the Memorial Auditorium, is really cool and very different for a war monument, so that caught my eye.
[The SP-AM book] is not just biographies, because we did chapters on the other aspects of the war. I did that in part because we don’t have a lot of deaths in this war. We also don’t have a monument with a list of the dead. We have three tablets, or four, outside of City Hall that lists all the guys that served. There’s only about 200 or something, so they could list them all. [The book]
is less about the people as individuals and more about looking at the war from the local perspective. How did the difficulty of research compare to the Civil War and World War I projects? Much harder, because we’re missing essential census data. The 1890 census was burned in a fire, and without that 1890 census…you’ve got this whole missing piece. And if [soldiers] died in the war, they’re not in the 1900 census, so you can have this whole blank…So a lot of [students and volunteers] were banging their heads against the walls. It really screwed us up. I said that on the first day of class: “We’re going to have trouble because of it.” And we did. Until recently, I did not know a lot about the Spanish-American War, so when you told other people about the project, how did they react? Most people didn’t know anything about the Spanish-American War. We thought it was really short, but it technically wasn’t because we also have other wars which fall under that heading (the PhilippineAmerican War and Boxer Rebellion) which we found out about in class. I didn’t know — I figured it was a three-month war, bing-bang-boom, done. People don’t understand that people died in Puerto Rico, and the Philippines and China fall under this
How is the Spanish-American War monument different from other monuments? It was done by a local modernist sculptor named Andrew O’Connor Jr. In most war monuments, the soldiers are very trim and neat, and in this one, he’s all relaxed and rumpled like he just got out of bed or out of a trench. He’s got this certain swagger to him that’s kind of cool. It’s a very different monument. If you put it up against the Civil War monument and look at the two, you can really see the difference.
Soldiers from Company D, 5th Infantry during the Spanish-American War.
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umbrella. People think Teddy Roosevelt, they think the Rough Riders. They don’t understand that it was bigger than that, that it was scarier than that, that you had New England boys outside of Havana in July in wool uniforms dying of yellow fever and malaria because they couldn’t handle the heat, and they went into this war really gung-ho, thinking we’re saving the Cubans from these horrible Spaniards, we’re saving them. But that’s not what the war was about; it was about the Americans wanting territory. We wanted to be part of the whole territorial grab, and we’d missed the boat, so this was our way to get land. It’s this ugly political yellow-journalism war that people just don’t get. Are there any surprising stories you or others uncovered during your research? I don’t remember any really interesting deaths because most of the
deaths are from illness, malaria, yellow fever, and stuff like that. It’s all kind of sad and pathetic. There were some killed in action. There was one guy who was missing in action, presumed drowned in a river. We don’t have the fun, heroic stories that you get from World War I, but it added to that idea that war is really just stupid. That was the whole thing I got out of it. Do you have a proposed title? I have not found a title yet! I cannot think of a title for this one. Usually the monuments speak to me and they have t he title right on them, but not this time. That’s the problem with this war. You know what we could call it—what did they call it? A “splendid little war.” But that’s been used over and over and over again, and that’s not a local thing. I think I might go back through some of the articles on the war at the time and see if somebody has something interesting that they said about it and maybe
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE Did you know that Worcester State University did not begin as a university? Worcester State was originally founded in 1874 as the Worcester Normal School, a teacher-training college. O’Connell chronicles postbellum diaries from the Normal School in her column: “Much and Nothing”: Notes from the Normal School.
use their words. I like to let the primary sources title my things, and this time the primary source is not titling, so I’m stumped. Are there any other thoughts you want to share about the book or the Spanish-American War and how we view it? It would be nice if we view it at all. It was a stupid war fought for a stupid reason, and people died for it, and I hate that. We made that war happen. It’s like with the MexicanAmerican War: we made it happen. People weren’t poking us and making us come to war with them. We made that one happen, and I don’t like that. It really bothers me. So I’d like for people to remember that; maybe we shouldn’t make war. Americans have a tendency to react to war. I don’t think we should make war. It was a stupid war, maybe we’ll call [the book] that, “The Stupid War,” “SP-AM, the Stupid War.” I don’t know, I’m so caught on the title. It was a stupid war and then it became all these other little stupid wars and us getting our hands involved in stuff we shouldn’t have. ** Nicole O’Connell is the executive editor of the New Worcester Spy and a senior majoring in English and History. She enjoys children’s mysteries such as Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. ** Hixon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image courtesy of Worcester State Diversity Institute
A brief overview of Latin American Heritage month By Logan Desilets Throughout October, Worcester State University hosted a series of Latinx speakers to speak about their experiences being Latin American and, most recently, about the devastation from Hurricane Maria from Latin American Heritage month. Desilets gives a brief overview of this important month. October. The month of the annual day off from school, raking leaves, and of course Halloween. October, in addition to its foliage and festivity, is Latin American Heritage Month. Latin American Heritage Month recognizes Latin American contributions to the United States and celebrates Latin American and Hispanic culture. Latin American Heritage month technically begins on
September 15, when the prominent Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua became independent in 1968. However, many today refer to October as Latin American Heritage month for sake scheduling and monthly demarcation. Here at Worcester State, multicultural programming on campus is raising awareness of this special month by organizing events, such as a film night and speakers coming to campus, to help emphasize Latin American Heritage Month. On October 11, award-winning author and speaker Pedro Medina Leon will be speaking about using language as a form of resistance. On October 18, speaker Esmeralda Santiago will be speaking about when she was Puerto Rican. Attendance is highly encouraged. Carlos Odria, a Peruvian-born communications professor at Worcester State who immigrated to the United States in 2005, feels that Latin American Heritage Month is as
important to him as it is to define America. “It means part of my personal history [and] defines in a way who I am in many ways of my identity and personality, but at the same time, Latin America is this constellation of different cultures.” Over the last 50 years, Latin Americans have been making huge impacts around the world and throughout the US is today. Being the largest minority in the United States, consisting of 18 percent of the population with 57.5 million people of Hispanic or Latino origin in 2017, it is crucial that we recognize what Latinx Americans have done for this country. This piece was originally published on Oct. 6, 2018 under the title “Worcester State is celebrating Latin American Heritage Month. You should too.” Logan Desilets is a freshman commuter studying biology at Worcester State.
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UNDERSTANDING THE CREDIT CARD How well do you know that little piece of plastic? A Worcester State accounting major’s here to give all the details By Arian Bacaliu
It’s Your Money, with Arian Bacaliu There is a piece of plastic out there that not even the red Solo Cup can compare with when it comes to exciting college kids – the credit card. Yes, the credit card, the things that make you ask, how the hell did I spend so much on coffee last month?! Let’s take a technical look at what it is, how you should use it, and things you should be wary of as a college student. A Revolving Line of Credit Credit cards work on the banking principle of revolving credit. The card comes with a credit limit, and as you use the card the funds available to you close. As you make payments on the card, the funds once closed become open for use again. For example, you take a card with a $500 limit and buy a $400 TV. Now the card’s available balance is only $100; to get that back to $500, you will have to make a $400 payment when the bill comes. If, say, you only make a payment of $100, then the card would have an available balance of $200, with $300 still closed off and outstanding. As you pay back the money you spent, that money is open again for use, so if next month you make a payment for $300, then
the original limit of $500 is free for use again. With a traditional, non-revolving line of credit (like a car loan), once you pay it off it is done – that money is not made available to you again. But with a credit card, that money will be made available for use over and over, just as long as you keep paying it back.
The amount paid in interest can vary vastly. To see this in action, let us lower the monthly minimum payment to $15 and raise our APR to 24.99%. With these adjustments, it will now take you 40 months to pay back the $400, and you will spend $189.78 on interest. In other words, that $400 TV just cost you $589.78. I hope you like your TV.
Understanding the Bill
APR, or Annual Percentage Rate, is the cost associated with borrowing money, as it determines how much you pay back in interest. With credit cards, this rate is charged on any outstanding balance after a billing period is closed and can range anywhere from zero to 24.99 percent (and sometimes even higher). To get a better understanding of APR, let’s use the example above. If you were only planning on making the typical minimum monthly payment of $25 at an APR of 17 percent on your $400 credit card bill, it would take you 19 months to pay it off, and you would have paid back a total of $56.86 in interest alone. So, that $400 you spent 19 months ago wasn’t really $400, it was $456.86.
When it comes time to actually pay the credit card at the end of the billing period you will have three choices: 1) pay only the minimum amount (what the bank hopes you do), 2) pay off the full amount (what you should do), and 3) don’t pay anything (what you should definitely not do). The reason I recommend paying off the full statement balance is that by doing so you avoid paying interest. That means when you get your bill you look at the total outstanding balance and pay that entire amount, so the balance of your card at the beginning of the next billing period is $0. You should not consider paying only the minimum, because if you
don’t have the money to pay off the card in full, you shouldn’t have used it in the first place. The banks do not need any more interest income – just look at the skyline of any major city and that statement will become selfevident. Utilization Ratio Another important aspect of credit cards is the utilization ratio. The utilization ratio is the ratio of funds available to funds used, and it is a component of what makes up the infamous FICO credit score. The utilization ratio in our example is 80 percent ($400 used ÷ $500 available); this is very high and will have a negative impact on any FICO score.
Lenders want to see that you are a responsible borrower; that is the whole point of the FICO score. So, if you constantly run a high utilization ratio on all your cards you will be seen as a riskier borrower who uses almost all capital available to him/her – and this behavior will reflect poorly on your FICO score. The optimal utilization rate is fiercely debated, but anywhere up to 20-25 percent is typically fine; any higher and you risk hurting your credit score as opposed to helping it.
maintaining a decent credit score, nothing more. They should not be used to spend money we don’t already have. When it comes to the card, the advice is simple: play it safe. Maintain a low utilization ratio, pay it off in full at the end of each billing period, and be very aware of the trouble you can get into with one in your wallet. **
Tips for the Student
Originally published Sept. 19, 2018
The philosophy I hold when it comes to credit cards is that they are a tool to help with building and
Bacaliu is a senior accounting major pursuing a B.S. in Business Administration.
COMICS see more on page 21
THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST, MID-OCTOBER By Karly Nivison Our guide to music recommendations throughout the week. With October blowing through, it’s time to kick back and try to find some music to match the mood. Knowing New England, our Mid-October recommendations will probably match up with the climate during some week in November, December, and possibly even March. Originally published on Oct. 19, 2018. Nivison is a freshman majoring in English and is on the Equestrian team.
Monday: It’s mid-October, which means the stress of midterms is starting to pick up, the weather is getting chilly, and all you want to do is stay inside curled up in a blanket. With a brandnew week on your plate, it’s time to start it off with some good vibes. Supercut – By Lorde is the perfect song to start your Monday. With soft tones opening the song that leads into danceable rhythms, it’s the spark that you need to start your week. It’s a song about heartbreak but somehow is still able to leave you dancing in your seat. It escalates vocally, musically and harmoniously, leaving you wanting more before it ends. Tuesday: With the morning wake-up from Monday catching up to you on Tuesday, it’s time to take it down a notch with a more chill approach to the music that plays through your speaker today. The soft melodic tones from Adele’s version of Make You Feel My Love are perfect for rainy Tuesday afternoons, which we’ve already had too many of. Its hushed delivery and softly spoken lyrics set the mood for the day. The piano backs her powerful vocals, allowing her voice to shine.
Wednesday: With the week just passing the middle marker, it’s time for another energy boost to get through the rest of the week. Criminal by State Champs is the kind of song that you turn all the way up to pump you with energy. 15 seconds into the song, the electric guitar comes in full swing with gritty vocals to amps up your mood ten times, and the pickup of the chorus really hooks you in. Whether you’re angry and need to yell along with the chorus or just need a kick of energy, this is the perfect song for a hump day.
Thursday: Since it’s really starting to feel like fall and the leaves have just changed colors on the trees, it’s time to have a warm tone to your weekly soundtrack. For some reason, songs from the 70s remind me of fall. The song Rich Girl by Hall and Oats is the perfect song for today. Considering that this is also a Thursday, it is also an appropriate pick for a Throwback. The catchy rhythm will have you singing this song all day. The blend of instruments and harmonies gives off a warm feeling and, more importantly, a happy feeling. Photographs: Courtesy of Lorde, Adele, State Champs, Hall and Oats, Post Malone
THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST, MID-OCTOBER by Nivison
INTERN SPOTLIGHT by Berthiaume Friday:
Alright, take a deep breath and relax. The week is finally over- it’s time to let loose and have fun. Throw on the song Zack and Codeine by Post Malone from his second album Beerbongs and Bentleys for a song that encourages you to relax but also party at the same time. The upbeat rhythm and catchy lyrics in the chorus will make you let go of the week you just had and have fun. It’s a good song to put on if you are getting ready to go out or simply just hanging around with a few friends.
LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
Student Internship Spotlight Series: Hanan Ibraheim by Rachael Berthiaume
internship that fit her needs, gave her experience, and helped her grow. “I was very grateful and proud that was I was able to get this internship,” Ibraheim said. “It’s not an easy thing to get into. For me, it wasn’t even the technical skills but the communication skills that were so valuable by learning how to take feedback and turn it into something positive.” Communication is a huge part of any internship and one of the many challenges Ibraheim faced. “When you work with someone else, it’s not necessarily one you isn’t a team player, but sometimes you just work differently,’Ibraheim said. “There were a lot of challenges along the way... and only with good communication did we succeed in our last phase. This has been Ibraheim’s second internship. She explained that her internship helped her overcome difficult situations you can’t experience in a classroom. “No matter what, go and show them you are interested, show them you can do the job,” Ibraheim explained. “Go and read the internship descriptions. Look at the qualifications and try to match it so when you go to the interview you can give them concrete examples.” Ibraheim was eventually offered a position at Hanover Insurance starting on January 7th, after she graduates in December. She owes a great deal of success to Career services
and their respective services and connections. If you have any questions or concerns regarding a specific internship, the application process, or career development, you can send them an email at careerservices [at] worcester [dot] edu or head over to Career Services on the third floor of the student center. This article was originally published on Oct. 4, 2018 and has been trimmed for print. Berthiaume is a senior communication major who enjoys cooking.
Photo: WSU Career Services
All college students to be successful in one way or another. But success doesn’t always come easy. Internships often provide college students with a step towards a successful future. Hanan Ibraheim, a math major at Worcester State University, realized first-hand the significance an internship has on future endeavors. Ibraheim recently had an internship with the Hanover Insurance group in the claims department where she and another intern worked on a process improvement project. “Internships make you so much more valuable. It makes your skills and your resume more marketable,” Ibraheim said. The internship itself isn’t always the hard part, as the process she went through to be accepted for the internship was arduous. Ibraheim said, “I signed up for the mock interview through Career Services and was set to interview with Hanover. I got some really valuable feedback that really helped me, and I was able to put that into the cover letter when I was applying.” “In January I [had an] interview. There was a lot of time in between my application and my application. When I interviewed it was at an event of theirs and they got back to me after six weeks. Then in March, I had an interview within my department, and they got back to me within a few days and gave me an offer.” Not every internship runs smoothly, but Ibraheim was fortunate to have experienced an
Advice: LOVE AND DATING
Art by Patrick Driscoll
“Let’s Talk About Sex, Erica” All your tough questions about sex, dating, and everything in-between, answered in our love and dating column! By Erica Gilman
Q: Help! I Think My Boyfriend Might Be Gay from Sally Straight “I’ve been in a great heterosexual relationship with my boyfriend for over a year, but I recently found a large history of gay pornography on his laptop that began about a month after I started dating him. “We really like each other, but I’ve recently found myself avoiding him. How do you think I should talk to him about this and make sure our relationship can last?” In a situation like this, it can be easy to jump to “worst case” scenarios. Finding out that your partner has kept secrets from you, especially when it comes to his sexuality, can be tough. The start to every conversation is honesty. Avoiding your boyfriend will not fix anything, it will only cause more strife when you actually do sit down and talk it out. Bisexuality, pansexuality, men who have sex with men but continue to identify as straight…pretty much any other forms of sexuality besides homosexuality and heterosexuality are often overlooked in our society but exist nonetheless.
When these sexualities are brought into the mainstream conversation, many negative perceptions and stereotypes dominate, leaving those with these sexualities feeling reserved about disclosing. Only your boyfriend will be able to give you the answers that you want, and maybe he is still figuring them out. When it comes to talking it out, it’s important to have this conversation before your alienation of him goes on much longer. If you want real answers, this is not a conversation that you can start in the middle of the Student Center; make sure you are in a location that is private and comfortable for both of you. If you want honesty from him, it’s important that you offer honesty in return, including how you came across the porn history. Things not to do include waiting till you’re halfway through dinner and suddenly blurting out “ARE YOU GAY?” That will not work out in a productive or healthy manner for anyone. This does not necessarily spell doom and disaster for your relationship, but it’s worthwhile to consider your own boundaries. Are you more upset at the lack of communication
Online: - Do nice guys really finish last? - Is there someone who doesn’t understand your sexuality (or lack thereof)? More of Erica’s columns, and even her poems, are available on newworesterspy.net 16
and honesty or the act itself? If you’re upset about him watching porn, are you upset at the fact that he is watching porn in general or is it that his sexuality might deviate from just you? How do you know that this started after you began dating? Perhaps this was a previous habit, and would that change your feelings about it? Your relationship isn’t the only thing being discussed here, it’s his sexuality and all the societal messages both of you have received and internalized about sexuality, as well. Sexuality and masculinity are very much linked and the perceptions of both can be damaging to anyone who falls outside the plane of macho masculine heterosexuality. He has a lot to lose here, too. Be careful that in asking him about the situation you don’t find yourself getting aggressive and turning to “blaming and shaming.” His identity and sexuality is valid and deserves recognition and support. This is a situation in which you can either find out more about your partner, or where you realize the relationship will not work out due to no fault of either of you; but, regardless of the outcome, you will learn. That’s the point of it all, right? ** Originally published Mar. 28, 2018. This article has been edited for print. Gilman is a senior majoring in English and Sociology and is currently helping at risk LGBTQ+ youth.
Poetry Emmanuel G. Freeman Lost Culture
Alex VanAntwerp Flock
It’s funny how little things Exclusive don’t matter these days, But what are little things? _____________ It’s funny how a person can be ignored so easily Emmanuel But a person is not little It’s funny how I was Freeman’s considered to be insignificant poem “Age” But what am I? Am I human? A silhouette? Am I a lint, lingering upon your coat? Or an imagination of a potential bad decision? I’m none of that I’m none of what you think I am Then when am I? Why does it even matter who I am? Do I matter? I remember who I used to be but what am I now? I am the guy standing by your traffic sign asking for help, I am the friend you despised because I’m different, I am the book bought but never read I am the song sang but never heard I am a result of all your insecurities, I am the one that cares but never said a word, I am the things you borrowed despite being part of your current possessions, I am the obsolete thought, conversation you summarize in a simple text I am your lost dream, what you inspire to be but never dared I am your lost culture Consider me lost or forgotten, but I was a thing of importance in the past Ask your parents, they know what I’m talking about! Peace Originally published Sept. 6, 2018 Freeman is a junior biology major originating from West Africa. He likes to write poetry under tranquil skies and aspires to become a physical therapist.
A flock of birds scatter Each one floating on the sirocco Periwinkle warmth colors the sky Rising, lolling air tussles my hair Steady tide of cars stream Lone lights dot the night A flock of birds flitter A flock of birds scatter A single bird rests
Playlist You doppelganger imprint Easily added, easily erased Contextual flavor of the moment, Have saved me from myself Looking on whilst I study Yelling while I run Dancing in tandem with life’s tango If only The spotty WiFi Would let me Spotify.
Scream I heard a wall of terror inches from my face As thunder stems from lightning Noise that reforms, cymbal crash music It frightened me, so I ran I could hear it in the distance, chasing A quiet fear crawling over the hills In the background of paintings In the horn of a lacrosse game It grew louder as I saw others heard it. I now hear the scream in my mind. Originally published on Oct. 21, 2018 VanAntwerp is a freshman English major at Worcester State University. VanAntwerp enjoys running, scouring the radio, and cooking.
“Held Back” // ”Hospitalized” By Sarah Synk In the following poems, Sarah recounts her struggles being held back in school and living with Velo-Cardio-Facial-Syndrome (VCFS).
I got held back in elementary school, I was one of the oldest students there. I sometimes liked being the oldest.
Back in the day, Everything seemed awful. I got sick when I was a child, My parents realized something was wrong with me right away.
By staying back, I was able to succeed. There is nothing wrong with succeeding.
I looked awful, I was turning black and blue, My parents said I couldn’t breathe That I was trying to gasp for air. My family took me to a church thinking I was gonna die, The priest at that church baptized me. My parents cried every day, I was just too sick, I was diagnosed with a disability. My disability? It is called Velo- Cardio- Facial- Syndrome, Also known as the DiGeorge Syndrome or 22Q, This all has something to do with the heart. They diagnosed me with a broken heart, Many hospital visits soon after. When I grew up a bit, I couldn’t even walk. Right when I started walking, My parents were about to leave for vacation.
They got my first steps on the video recorder, They were happy. I made em’ proud. Throughout my childhood, I had to take P.T. (Physical Therapy) to gain strength… That way I can sit up straight without any pain. I had to take O.T. (Occupational therapy) to strengthen my hands. One time, Someone saw a scar near my heart. They questioned it. I got extremely embarrassed about it. I am still embarrassed about my scar today! I joke that my heart is still broken, But it’s not! I try to look at my scar as a symbol of beauty. ** Originally published Sept. 28, 2018 Synk is a sophomore at Worcester State majoring in history with a minor in music.
Soppy Christmas By Luke Cai A few months ago, I met one of my neighbors for the first and last time before they moved out. They decorated a tree and had a black cat. I couldn’t really figure them out, so I wrote this story about a young man who copes with his peculiar uncle and querulous brother in an attempt to do so. Almost everyone who critiqued this story told me to expand, but that was never the goal. I was trying to figure out how to write short fiction- dense and succinct- so I cranked this story out inArt by Luke Cai stead. I got it done, more or less. Santa was not kind. Every Thanksgiving, my brother Rex and I would scurry out of the dining room as Tommy dragged out the wooden stake and draped a Santa suit around it. Santa threatened us with coal and demanded us to be his elves while on St. Patrick’s Day, the leprechaun would want us to find its pot of gold, but Rex was on the short end of the stick. I think Uncle Tommy taught me how to use my imagination, but Rex never learned to quell his frustration. With the stake, I learned how to whitewash, and when Tommy taught me how to use a gun, I also learned what not to shoot. Rex, however, would always say the stake demeaned him. It continued past Halloween, when the ghost of Georlee Zhurkovsky would haunt the front yard and Rex wanted to kick him. Uncle Tommy became a ventriloquist of sorts, and the stake a concession to joy. Sometimes I think this is because he had no kids, but
strangeness, as I understood, is not formulaic. When Rex and I grew up, we rarely had the chance to see Uncle Tommy. I harvested the fruits of creativity while Rex cultivated the seeds of cruelty, becoming enraged at Tommy and his stake. Rex discovered 4chan and Reddit and found an audience to troll Tommy’s art. Tommy discovered that cesspool of hatred around the same time he started receiving hate mail and two months later he became a shut-in. Then two days before Christmas, I got the news while I was standing in the sleet in a Santa suit after work: Tommy had a mental breakdown at work and went in for a psychiatric evaluation. Our family was dull that night; puppeteer had become puppet, no less. Rex got what he wanted, I guess, but Aunt Becky was devastated at the shriveling mess her husband had become. She asked me and my boyfriend Dick to help clear their
house to start their life anew, so we went over the next day with the truck. Aunt Becky told us to take whatever we wanted, but to get rid of that stake. We filled up the truck with wood scraps, crates of beer bottles, and a smelly sagging sofa set. We tossed the stake in the back with my wet Santa suit. Now we couldn’t find anything worth taking home besides a collection of 70s Playboys, but Dick found a stack of comic books for me. I wanted to toss the old stake, but Dick refused. “We can use this to dry our clothes.” So at home I pretended for a moment that Georlee Zhurkovsky stared me down as I draped my soggy old Santa suit around the stake. Originally published on Oct. 21, 2018 Cai is a senior double majoring in English and Sociology. He is the current managing editor and is pursuing an MFA in creative writing. Follow him @lukecwolf
Online Exclusive: More of Cai’s fiction, such as his short story “Riley” and his poetry is available on newworesterspy.net! 19
Because of Annie By Sarah Synk When I was little, my favorite musical was Annie, a musical about an orphan named Annie who wants to find her parents. Although she lives with her evil foster parent named Ms. Hannigan and endures many struggles, she is very strong and optimistic. One of the famous songs from the musical is “Tomorrow.” I love Annie because I too dealt with many struggles like Annie, including bullying and low self-esteem, but without her strength or perseverance. I even share the same birthday with Annie (October 28) and, as a child, I wanted to sing songs like Annie. One day, my grandad said that I should perform at Harbour Town in Hilton Head. Hilton Head was a retirement community in South Carolina where my grandad and my grandma lived. We visited them every now and then with my cousins and my extended family. I thought my grandfather was talking gibberish, so I said to him: “Grandpa, you gotta be kidding me. I’m not ready to perform.” He said, “You can do it. There’s a performer named Gregg Russell who invites kids onstage. I think he’d love to have you help him sing.” My grandad had to be pulling my leg. But for the next few weeks, Grandpa helped me practice and perform. “You gotta project your voice and have confidence in yourself.” “Papa, you’re joking,” I said. He wasn’t joking. He made me sing in front of my extended family several times. I was shaking and sweating with my pulse racing. I started to sing, but my little mouth became so dry from nervousness that it felt like it was full of cotton. I projected the best I could, and I sang a few lines from Annie. The only line that I could think of was, “The sun will come out tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there will be sun!” I felt that I was doing poorly, but he said it sounded fine. I didn’t believe him. Afterwards, we made a banner that said: “Please choose me!” So I kept practicing and did my best to improve my voice. On the day of the Harbour Town performance, my hands were trembling. My grandmother made me look extra pretty and dressed me in cute clothes. Harbour Town was swamped with people, and the shops and music were booming. I started crying when I saw all the little visitors. I envisioned people talking about me and calling me bad names like “fat” and “ugly.” My grandfather kept encouraging me, so we went to the stage. We worked our way through the crowd to see Gregg Russell. It was the largest crowd I had been in at that time in my life. “We’re going to sit in the very front so Gregg Russell can choose you,” my grandma said with glee. I didn’t want to sit up front next to the screaming obnoxious children, but I also didn’t want to be upfront so that I didn’t have to be chosen. I kept hearing children before me singing, and they all had better voices than me. I knew little old Sarah was in trouble.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Synk
After Gregg sang a song called “People Purple Eater,” a local Halloween classic, he stared down at me and said he thought my sign was sublime. I completely lost it and burst into a sweaty mess. “Why don’t you come up on stage little girl?” I don’t know why I agreed, but when I was on stage, a rush of adrenaline hit me in the chest. I thought I was going to faint. “So little girl, what are you gonna sing?” Gregg asked. He helped me hold the microphone. I felt uneasy I saw my family in front of me, but I projected my voice as best as I could. In what felt like two seconds, I sang and the performance was over. Thank the Lord. I heard the audience clapping, so I was assured that it wasn’t so bad after all. “Thank you for letting me perform,” I shouted. “And thank you for performing little girl,” he said holding his guitar. When I visit Hilton Head today, my grandmother always wants to see Gregg Russell for great memories. She still wonders if Gregg remembers me, the little girl who sang “Tomorrow.” I always bring Nana down to Earth and tell her, “Nana, that was many moons ago. He couldn’t possibly remember.” Nowadays, when I see Gregg Russell invite children on the stage, a form of nostalgia shelters me. I wish I could go back to that time when I was a kid so that I could go back onstage. At the time, Gregg gave me a lot of selfconfidence. I was made uneasy as a child after undergoing regular surgeries and medical procedures. But during that performance, I felt great about myself. I felt that for a moment, people didn’t bully me or look down on me. I wish I still had that confidence today. The voices in my head still call out “ugly,” and “bad singer.” Even when people are honest with me about my singing and rightly critical, I can never stop thinking about being ugly. Although my muscle jerks and speech impediments are beyond my control, I blush whenever people compliment me on how good I am at singing. Though I can never become Annie, I can always try to sing like her. Even if I lack the skills for center stage, I can be content by being with other singers. Because of Gregg, I had the confidence to keep singing. Because of Annie, I kept singing to boost my confidence. Some people may write or draw, but I keep music close to my heart. Originally published on Sept. 10, 2018. This piece was edited by staff prior to publication and has been trimmed for print.
He wants to know how to draw realism.
Jonny Vandersea is a freshman majoring in business administration at Worcester State University. He enjoys doodling and playing tennis.
The Honeycomb comic strip is about three friends with a lack self-awareness: Honeycomb the guinea pig, Chuck the mouse and Coby the ferret.
Read their complete gags and adventures on newworcesterspy.net
About the Author
About the Comic Strip
Fright Fight Contest In October, we held a fright fight contest to get in the mood for Halloween. Contestants were asked to submit a spooky, scary, or Halloween themed narrative of no more than 1000 words for a prize and the chance to be published. Although winners were sincerely surprised to have won with, often submitting drafts right before the deadline, we are proud to publish the top three stories as selected by our staff here and on our website. We hope to host a similar contest in the coming years.
Not Guilty By Caitlyn Sullivan "Not Guilty" won first place. The suspense in this murder story from beginning to end garnered the majority of our staff's votes. Winry Byrne did not kill her best friend. Victoria Sousa, age 19, was found dead last Saturday morning— stabbed 28 times. The two girls had been camping with friends for the weekend when Winry had woken up to find Victoria dead beside her, both of them soaked in blood and a knife clutched in her hand. The young woman had screamed and fled the tent. Her pajamas and hair were sticky from the blood. Her friends had stumbled from their tents, and with one look at Winry’s trembling form, the knife she clutched in her hand, fat tears streaming down her face, they kept their distance, horrified. “What have you done?” Before she knew it, Winry was in handcuffs, and one ride in the back of a police car later she was seated in an empty room, handcuffed to the table in front of her. She stared blankly at the wall, her consciousness numb from the shock of waking up and seeing her friend’s mutilated body. “Miss Byrne? Can you answer a few questions for me?” Winry shifted her gaze from the wall to the investigator sitting across from her, a manilla folder placed between them. The investigator’s eyes roamed over her, his gaze lingering on the blood drying against her skin and clothes. Winry wasn’t stupid; she knew how this looked. She’d woken up covered in blood with a knife in her hand. She didn’t understand who or why someone would frame her for murdering Victoria, and she especially didn’t understand why they would kill Victoria, but spare Winry. “I didn’t kill Victoria,” she whispered, her throat dry and sore from screaming. The investigator only nodded and took a breath, his eyes swimming with uncertainty and impatience. After a moment, he broke eye contact and opened the manila folder, shuffling through a few documents before taking out and placing a photo in front of Winry. It only took a glance for Winry’s stomach to churn, bile rising in her throat. Her heart started to beat faster and faster the longer she stared at the photo, her mind
whirling with thoughts of denial, going over every scrap of memory she could surface from the previous night. “Please,” she whimpered, turning away, tears racing down her face as she squeezed her eyes shut, “I didn’t—” “Twenty-eight stab wounds!” the investigator shouted, slamming his hands down onto the table as he stood, his chair knocked to the floor. “Just admit it, Miss Byrne, you killed Victoria, you stabbed her! If you confess, it will make this process much easier.” he practically spat, no longer masking the disgust on his face. He leaned across the table and got right in Winry’s face, the young woman’s eyes wide with fear. This wasn’t happening, this had to be a nightmare, she would never hurt anybody— nevermind her best friend! The air was too thin, her lungs were too shallow, her heart was beating too fast, and her mind was racing and writhing with fear and pain and— “Miss Byrne!” Reality slapped Winry back to the present, blood roaring in her ears and the edges of her vision dark and blurry. She didn’t kill Victoria, Winry thought of her like a sister! How was this even happening? Why was this even happening?! “Why did you kill her?! Confess! Your fingerprints are the only ones on the knife, you’re the only person who was with Victoria after you and your friends went to bed, and there was no evidence of anyone entering your campsite,” the investigator snapped, his face mere inches from Winry’s. How... was that possible? Could she have... no . No, even the idea was ridiculous. Winry paused, time standing still as doubt and fear invaded her mind. Memories that didn’t exist started to fade into her consciousness, memories of uncontrollable rage and being unable to stop herself. Memories of Victoria crying silently as she died by her best friend’s hand and of laying back down beside her dying friend emerged before blacking out. “Confess,” the investigator insisted, his voice deep and cold. Winry started to tremble in her seat, her gaze breaking from the investigator as she looked down at her blood-soaked hands. More and more memories she didn’t remember bubbled to the surface of her mind, memories of anger, fear, violence— Of murdering Victoria. Winry’s entire being and sanity shattered, loud, frantic sobs erupting from her trembling body, sheer panic,
and heartbreak clawing and shredding its way up her throat. The investigator backed away from her, a cold, evil smile on his face as Winry sobbed her confession. She watched through blurred, spotty vision as the investigator left the room, the door swinging shut behind him. A minute later, the door slammed back open and two police officers rushed in, one man and one woman. “What happened?!” the woman demanded, rushing over to Winry, the bloody young woman hysterical, thrashing and screaming in her seat. “I have no idea— who the hell brought in the evidence?!” the man asked, scowling. He swore under his breath seeing the photo of Victoria’s mutilated corpse in front of Winry, quickly shoving it back into the folder. The woman managed to soothe Winry from her wailing to quiet sobs, her head hanging and her body limp. Soft whimpers of ‘I’m guilty, I killed her...’ passing through her lips. The woman looked up at her partner, realization dawning over them both. “Miss Byrne, did someone come in here?” the man asked gently, the female cop attempting to comfort her. Winry nodded, and the man left to check the security cameras. While he was gone, the woman continued to comfort Winry, assuring her over and over that everything was alright. The man came back soon enough, a blank expression on his face. Before his partner could ask what was wrong, he looked at her, genuine confusion and fear in his eyes. “There was no one on the tape.”
Girl with Two Ears and a Knife By Luke Cai
"Girl with Two Ears and a Knife" won second place. Our staff enjoyed the quirky and dense style along with its psychological themes. Marjorie Birney was holding a bloody knife in her right hand and a chocolate bar in her left when her father came into the room and stared. “Marjorie,” Thomas asked. “What have you done?” ** Marjorie, a seven-year-old girl, was the only child of the Birney family. She was extraordinarily brilliant except for one unique disposition. “Can I sit or should I stand?” “Should I text or should I call? “What should I do after 5?” Marjorie was compulsively indecisive. No matter what she did, she couldn’t decide if it was the right thing to do. So every day, her parents Thomas and Angela had to tell Marjorie what to do or else she wouldn’t know when to eat, when to pee, or even if she could sleep. “She needs help.” Then in September, they got in touch with a local psychiatrist named Sylvia Addow and learned that Marjorie’s issue was somatic. “She needs therapy.” Sylvia said. “I specialize in these sorts of children. They just need to be told what to do.” The Birneys were hesitant, but she smiled. “Why don’t you let Marjorie come in?” Marjorie’s mother motioned for her to come inside, but now without four stupid questions. Dr. Addow smiled at the seven-year-old girl. “Marjorie, how would you describe your problems?” She didn’t know what to say at first. “I don’t know what to do,” Marjorie began. “If I should sit or I should sit or if I should stand. If I should shut up or speak.” She kept going. Her questions lasted two minutes. Her parents were anxious, but Sylvia was patient and reserved, unlike any psychiatrist they had seen before. “You said the issue was somatic,” Thomas began. “Maybe we should take her to a physician.” Sylvia stopped him. “No, I have some training. I can help her with that as well,” Sylvia said. “Wouldn’t you like that Marjorie?” Marjorie nodded. So they agreed that Marjorie would be treated on a weekly basis. ** The girl made tremendous progress. Everyday her parents would shy away from Marjorie’s salvo of questions, but after meeting with Sylvia, she was at ease.
After a month, her line of questioning was almost nonexistent. “Mommy, look!” Marjorie said one day. “I got first place in gymnastics!” “That’s wonderful!” Angela said. Marjorie nodded. “Can I--” she began. She knew that she didn’t have to for permission to sit, so she smiled. When Angela asked Marjorie what she did during her private sessions, Marjorie replied that “she just keeps talking to me all the time and I feel better. Sometimes she rubs my ankles. It’s soothing.” She would never talk about the subject of their conversations. ** Her parents called another psychiatrist named Dr. Nazwinsko to monitor Marjorie’s progress, but she was confused. “She’s somatic? What does that mean?” “You don’t know?” “Of course I do. It means that there’s something wrong with body. But your daughter’s problem is in her head.” She pointed at her temple. “Aboulomania. Pathologically indecisive, with the inability to control the prefrontal cortex.” “So it’s not somatic.” “Of course not,” Dr. Nazwinsko said. “I’d have that doctor of yours checked out. And they did. They looked into the Addow’s public records and social media. She was certified but her family life, was in shambles. Sylvia had a master’s degree but her husband was an alcoholic who hadn’t even graduated high school. He had two counts of domestic abuse. When they nudged Sylvia about her husband, she never mentioned a thing. “I don’t talk about my husband after his passing,” Sylvia said, and they left her alone.
neighborhood kids. The real commotion began when an ambulance pulled around a house four blocks away and a woman was carried away. She had cuts on her skin, and Marjorie was following her. When Thomas heard that it was Sylvia Addow, he rushed out to bring his daughter home. The next morning, Thomas went into his daughter’s room and found Marjorie eating chocolate obsessively and, inside a pillowcase, a knife covered in blood. “Marjorie,” Thomas asked. “What have you done?” “I didn’t do anything,” she said. “Then where did you get this knife?” “At Sylvia’s.” She talked to her father about her last therapy meeting with Sylvia. She learned where Sylvia lived and visited on Halloween, although all the lights were out. She found the front door open and discovered Sylvia cutting herself near the wrists. She wanted it to happen silently when everyone was too busy trick-or-treating, but Sylvia called for an ambulance. She talked with her and hid the knife.” “And was that what you did last night?” Marjorie nodded and nibbled on some chocolate. “I was scared.” Her father had trouble responding. “You did a good thing.” They watched the news talked about the snow and a DUI car crash. No word of Sylvia. “You seem to be better,” Thomas said. “You haven’t asked a single question today.” “May I ask one now?” “Of course.” “What was wrong with Sylvia?” Marjorie asked. Her father couldn’t answer.
** Their therapy sessions came to a close in late October. Dr. Addow asked Marjorie about Halloween. “What do you want to be for Halloween?” “An angel, but I might be a teddy bear instead.” “Not everyone can be an angel.” “But you are,” Marjorie said. “I didn’t think I’d ever know how to stop asking questions. I felt like my head was going to explode sometimes.” “Well sometimes it’s better to ask more questions than know all the answers,” Sylvia smiled. “This our last meeting, and I’m happy to see your progress. If you need any more help, give me a call.” “But I want to visit you,” Marjorie said. “Maybe you could visit me. I live next to the park.” Dr. Addow laughed. She told Marjorie that she lived four blocks away but shook her head and sent Marjorie home. ** It was snowing on Halloween. Marjorie left the house in a teddy bear suit and went door-to-door with the
Unsound By Alicia Saladino “Unsound” won third place. Our staff enjoyed the horror themes mixed with nursery rhymes in this sharp murder story. Darkness was the only thing that they could see, screams and cries filled their ears. All they could do was sit there terrified, the horrors of the night replaying in their minds. They should have never come to the asylum tonight; they should have stayed at home like their parents have pleaded them too. Sweaty hands clenched tightly together, the foul smell of blood and vomit consumed their nostrils. “We need to get out of here.” Her once delicate voice said. “If we move she’ll find us Beau.” Shushed the eldest sibling. “It’s the only chance we have to get out of here Andrew.” Dread filled the boy’s body as he knew his sister was telling the truth. The only way the Michaels siblings were getting out of this building alive was to make a run for it. A night full of mystery had soon turned into a night of misery and horror. Merciless hands had taken the lively souls of their friends. As the siblings locked eyes, they made a secret pact to wait until the best opportunity to run arose. The hallway soon grew eerily quiet, the horrific screams had stopped, and it felt as though the whole world was standing still. “On the count of three,” Andrew whispered to Beau. “One.” He started. “Two.” Their hands gripped tighter and the air stood still. “Three.” Their feet took off before their minds could comprehend their actions. Everything flew past them in a blur as they blindly navigate their way through the maze of a building. Dodging and leaping over the upside-down furniture and medical carts that spewed over the floor. Beau’s feet caught on the leg of a chair causing her knees to meet a wet puddle on the concrete floor. Andrew’s hand appeared in front of
her face urging the younger sibling up. As Beau placed a delicate pale hand in her brother’s they heard quiet humming arise from down the hall. With her doe eyes wide, Beau scrambled to her feet pushing her brother ahead to keep running. The white walls felt as they were caving in, the halls grew longer as it soon felt like there would be no escape from this hell on earth. After detecting an open-door Andrew made the quick decision that their best chance right now was to once again hide. The eldest sibling held his sister tight in his arms as the eerie humming grew louder in their ears as their heats pounded. “The itsy, bitsy spider went up the water spout.” A sinister voice sang as the sound of metal dragged across the wall. “Down came the rain and washed the spider out.” The singing stopped as a pair of feet stood in the doorway. Both sibling’s breath hitched in their throats, was this really the end? “Olly, Olly, Oxen free.” The voice came again as the door to the room slowly creaked open. “Olly.” One footstep. “Olly.” Another footstep closer. “Oxen.” They could feel their heartbeats in their ears. “Free.” She giggled now standing right in front of them. Lightning flashed illuminating the porcelain-skinned girl whose face was painted with blood, none of which was her own. A sinister smile danced on her face as all aspects of humanity had left her eyes. There was nothing there but the crazed fire that fueled her malevolent soul. There her frail body stood in a tethered white nightgown and butcher knife dripping with fresh blood. In the blink of an eye Andrew was ripped away from his sister, causing her to cry out. His hair was clenched in the first of the crazed girl a knife pointed at his throat. “We just wanted to play.” Her sweet yet eerie voice said. “Please just let him go.” Beau cried. “The itsy, bitsy spider…” She sang tracing the tip of her knife across Andrews' face. “Please.” Beau choked out a sob.
“…went up the water spout…” “Just let him go.” “...down came the rain and…” “Please!” “SHUT UP.” The girl screamed tugging the boy’s hair and holding the knife close to his neck. Beau held her hands to her mouth holding back her sobs as she watched the surprisingly strong girl hold her brother’s life in her hands. The girl slowly, almost mechanically, turned her head to the side a giggle escaping her rotting teeth. “What do you want?” Beau begged. It was almost as though something inside the maniac snapped. Her head shot straight up as her facial expression grew blank. Her dark eyes bore into Beau’s light ones sending shivers down the latter’s spine. Her signature blood churning smirk grew on her face causing Beau’s eyes to grow wide. “We just want to play.” In one swift movement, the knife was dragged across Andrew’s neck taking his life with it. “NO!” Beau screamed watching her sibling’s lifeless body slowly, almost timelessly, fall to the ground with a thud. “Play, play, play!” The girl exclaimed jumping up and down while clapping her hands. Beau knelt there in shock, every emotion except for hate flew from her body. Her raging eyes looked up at the girl who happily jumped around the room. Beau looked at the door and then to the ground where she saw a piece of wood lying next to her feet. She gripped it in her hands slowly walking over to the girl. She held the piece of wood above her head getting ready to end this nightmare. Right as she went to act upon her thoughts, she felt a sharp pain in her stomach, she looked down to see the knife handle sticking out. She looked up at the dark-eyed girl dropping to her knees releasing the wood. Beau’s soon lifeless body laid perfectly next to Andrew’s. The girl retrieved her knife from the Beau’s body before walking down the hallway dragging her knife against the wall with an eerie smile on her face. “Olly, Olly, Oxen Free.”
Photo by Tony Dupre
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