Some DAM Good Advice!

Welcome to “Some DAM good Advice,” the Farmington Flyer’s anonymous advice column. Each issue, we will be answering questions submitted by you—the students of UMF. No topic is off limits and submissions are greatly appreciated. If you want to submit a question, you can access the online form from the Farmington Flyer facebook page or visit under the “about” section.

Q: I was finally looking forward to warm weather, but we keep getting blasted with snow. How do you handle all of this snow and the cold weather? Signed, Searching for Spring    

A: Well, this is a pretty typical winter for Maine. We’ve been lucky with some of the past milder winters, but this is just one aspect of living in New England. To get your mind away from the snow, we recommend planning game days or movie nights with tons of hot chocolate and good snacks; this will keep your mind off of the cold weather and it will let you do something other than homework when you’re trapped inside. Also, if you’re an outdoorsy person, you could always embrace the snow and go sledding, snowshoeing, or even skiing. We know that it may stink, but spring is almost here!   

Q: I have been having some issues with my self-image. How can I stay positive and keep a real smile on my face? Signed, Need a Boost    

A: First off, you need to stay true to yourself and not put value on what other people say. We suggest surrounding yourself with good friends and spend time doing things that you enjoy and you will find yourself wearing a genuine smile! We know it can be tough to try to stay positive, but you should write down positive messages and compliments about yourself and keep them someplace so that when you are feeling low you can read one and it will be a little confidence boost to get you back to realizing that you are an amazing person and it doesn’t matter what other people think.

Book Review: Crazy Stupid Money

Book Review: Crazy Stupid Money

By Courtney Fowler, President 

(Photo Courtesy of Amazon)

(Photo Courtesy of Amazon)

Okay, I’ll be honest here: I’m already deceiving you with this title. For most, writing a book review would require curling up with a great novel, probably with the smell of dusty pages filling the air around them, as they contemplate the deep life lessons and analyze the complex characters that fill the pages. Don’t get me wrong, that sounds lovely, but sadly, who has time for that anymore? So let’s start off by renaming the title to more accurately describe what I did here – “Kindle Single Review: Crazy Stupid Money.”

For those who don’t know, a Kindle Single is probably the best thing ever created – a short, quick read that serves as the perfect excuse to take a break from studying for your test. They’re even better for those of you who like to read but can hardly commit to finding the time to read a 500+ page book. I’m right there with you, don’t worry. Most of the Kindle Singles are free if you have Amazon Prime or Amazon Student, so even if you’re not loving “Crazy Stupid Money,” one of them surely will catch your attention. So, with my spiel on Kindle Single complete, let’s jump into what I am actually supposed to be doing here: reviewing a fabulous short story by Rachel Shukert.

How do you define yourself in this crazy world? Hopefully not by your appearance or the material items that have piled up in your dorm room or apartment over the years. Maybe you view and judge yourself based upon your education level or occupation, feeling most successful when you land an interview at your dream workplace or most likely, on your college graduation day.

These characteristics are certainly notable, but what about money? Are you more likable, more successful, or happier if you have more money? At the center of her book, Shukert discussed the one thing we avoid in most conversations: the importance of money not only as we struggle to survive, but in the process of navigating relationships with those around us.

In one highly applicable tale, particularly for my fellow classmates who, like me, are swimming in mounds of debt that we owe for our college education, Shukert speaks to her struggle of barely having enough money to pay her monthly rent of $3,400. Let’s all take a minute to appreciate the comparatively low rents in Farmington, but the significance still applies.

 What stood out was not her struggle to earn money through her freelance writing career, but how such a lack of money made her feel: insignificant, worthless, and desperate. Though Shukert apparently had enough money to continue to order food each night for dinner (I’m a horrible cook too, so this is mildly understandable), her lack of substantial money tore apart her relationship, causing anxiety and a constant sense of frustration. Money certainly cannot buy happiness, but can it make our lives just a little more carefree?

Throughout her short story, Shukert grasps reader’s attention with her wit and humor, while managing to discuss the tricky “adult” topic of how to navigate the world with little income. It is the honesty and bravery of her work that is truly compelling, as she shares deep emotions that many of us fear to examine ourselves. Though masked with a comical storyline that will keep you laughing and engaged, Shukert addresses topics that many of us lack the confidence to face on our own.

This read will be a quick one for you (see: Kindle Single definition, above), but one that you certainly should not pass up. I can always appreciate a book that will make me literally laugh out loud, but more than this, one where I respect the author for her bold and raw emotional tales. Shukert not only exposes herself through her examination of money, power, and love, but will make you ponder the ever-persisting question – “Will I be a better, happier person when I earn more money in the future?”

The 2017 AWP Experience

The 2017 AWP Experience

By Courtney Fowler, President 

Fowler exploring Washington DC at the 50th annual AWP Conference. (Photo courtesy of Courtney Fowler)

Fowler exploring Washington DC at the 50th annual AWP Conference. (Photo courtesy of Courtney Fowler)

“Write drunk, edit sober” was the advice from award-winning science journalist Jenny J. Chen, as she laughed hysterically and followed with, “take that with a grain of salt people!” Last week at the 50th annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference, Chen, along with her fellow panel members, led a discussion on how to balance the fact-based demands of journalism with the creative and emotional craft of creative writing. This laugh out loud panel discussion was only one of the memorable experiences I had at the conference, which for those of you who don’t know, was held in the fabulous, picturesque city of Washington, D.C.

As a whole, AWP is kind of like one of the Scholastic book fairs you went to at your elementary school library, but 10,000 times bigger and on a whole lot of steroids. From the 1,000 tables set up at the book fair, to the 675 possible panel discussions and conference events you can attend, AWP is truly a writer’s dream. Thousands attend the conference each year, ranging from college students who run their school newspaper (yes, that would be us) to world-renowned authors who are celebrating the launch of a new book. With such a range of age and experience, the opportunities to learn and network are endless.

Fowler with 2017 AWP Journalism panelists. (Photo courtesy of Courtney Fowler)

Fowler with 2017 AWP Journalism panelists. (Photo courtesy of Courtney Fowler)

In one panel, Washington Post reporter Dan Zak discussed the troubling reality of the emergence of fake news in recent months. Not only are news stories becoming opinion-based, but the truly alarming fact is that one in five adults receive their news from social media. Social media was created as a platform for human expression, not a credible source for the most current and pressing news stories like some may believe.

In this distressing time, how are journalists able overcome such challenges? Coincidentally, I had this exact conversation with my Uber driver just hours before, a nice man from Uruguay who had recently moved to America to find a better life. “I fear for journalists these days,” he said. “Not only are they constantly targeted by our new president, but must deal with the fake stories that undermine their hard work.”

Serious topics aside, AWP also provided us with a fabulous time to have fun and enjoy the city outside of the panels and book fair as well. Hundreds of off-site events were offered at local restaurants and bars in D.C. We enjoyed socials, dances, and of course, free drinks!

From l to r: Kurt Mason, Rose Miller, Molly Dalton, and Courtney Fowler touring the Capital Building in Washington, D.C. (Photo Courtesy of Courtney Fowler)

From l to r: Kurt Mason, Rose Miller, Molly Dalton, and Courtney Fowler touring the Capital Building in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of Courtney Fowler)

If you follow the Flyer on any social media platforms, you probably also saw that we were able to take advantage of the excellent location of this year’s conference to explore our nation’s capitol on our own. We enjoyed 60-degree weather (basically summer compared to the horrible amount of snow we just got) while touring the Capitol Building and taking photos with Senator Susan Collins. We visited monuments and saw the most breathtaking view of the city from 15 stories up at the Skydome Restaurant in Arlington. I even got the chance to sneak away and visit a few graduate schools when we had some free time. Because honestly, why wouldn’t I want to live in such an amazing place after graduation?

AWP is more than just our annual trip to a writer’s convention, but a time to leave Farmington behind and experience the wonderful country we live in beyond UMF. And of course, the conference always has a way of sneaking in a few life lessons into panel discussions when you least expect it. My favorite this year was an insightful quote from Zak, one that seemed quite relevant as I pondered my recent trips to graduate schools and the daunting fact that graduation is soon approaching. “Embrace ignorance and do not be afraid to admit when you’re lost,” he said. “It’s a big world out there and we should honor the messiness in our lives.”

Political Activism Spikes After Trump Inauguration

By Nick Bray, Staff Reporter 

The 2016 United States presidential election was among one of the most controversial in history, and political activism is rising across the country in response to the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. Although Mr. Trump won the electoral vote, Democrat Hillary R. Clinton edged him out in the popular vote by about 2.8 million votes. On the day after the president’s inauguration, an estimated 4 million Americans took part in hundreds of women’s marches across the country.

The main march, the Women’s March on Washington, drew an estimated 470,000 demonstrators. According to the crowd scientists attributed in a New York Times article published last month this was about three times more than the 160,000 who viewed the presidential inauguration on the national mall the day before the march.

According to the march’s website, the purpose of these rally’s were to show solidarity for people from all backgrounds, affirm the protection of civil rights, and to recognize the strength of a united, diverse population.

In Maine, there were marches from Fort Kent to Kittery, which were attended by many students from UMF. At the march in Augusta, about 10,000 people gathered to hear from a program of speakers who spoke about various issues, from women’s reproductive rights, concern for the environment, and protection of civil liberties. Danielle Blair, a senior at UMF, was one of the marchers who gathered at the state capitol. “It wasn’t just a protest against Donald Trump,” Blair said, “It was a rally to support women’s rights.”

Blair was encouraged by the positive atmosphere at the rally. “Everyone was loving and happy,” Blair said.

Jeff Willey, a junior and vice president of the College Democrats attended the march to become more involved. “The problems that we are facing aren’t new, they are crossing multiple generations,” Willey said, “It was unifying.”

The rally brought together people who have already been politically involved, and people who wanted to become more involved in light of the recent elections. “It was empowering for the people that needed to be empowered,” Willey said, “The people who didn’t came to support those who needed it.”

If Facebook is any barometer of political activism, it can be seen how users who weren’t active before the election have become very active after the election. I have noticed a significant uptick in the frequency of friends sharing political news and their political opinions, as well as engaging in political discussion. I think this is especially the case for people I follow who were not sharing and discussing these issues before the election.

This increase in political activism via social media shows that people believe there is a need for these discussions. However, social media political activism has its drawbacks. Social media can become an echo chamber; people who follow and interact with only those who share similar beliefs are only reaffirming their established ideas. In addition, the prevalence of so called fake news is on the rise, and it is spread like wildfire on social media. Blair believes that engaging with people who have different political views is important to get the whole picture. “It is important for people to view accurate, reliable media sources that will challenge their beliefs,” Blair said.  

On the UMF campus, it is not hard to seek out political discussion. With two political clubs and roundtable discussions on current events, there is frequently a platform for students, staff and faculty to have their voices heard and listen to the views held by others. As the transition into the Trump administration continues, it can be expected that college campuses across the nation will be rich with discussion and opportunities to get involved in political actions. 

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