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Prompt: “Perfume”

via Daily Prompt: Perfume

As a child, I liked to play with my grandmother’s perfumes. During lulls in playtime, I would pad into the bathroom and climb up onto the toilet seat to reach for the shimmering bottles in the upper cabinet, taking turns holding the containers to my nose and considering their scents. Grandma would warn me against using the more expensive smells, the amber liquids sloshing around in glass bottles as I handled them carefully. I would run my fingers over the smooth glass and place them gently back on the shelf, instead reaching for the plastic spray bottles of body sprays and the tiny free samples she’d collected over time.

Brushing the dust off the nozzles and carefully lining the bottles up on the beige counter top, I would mix these inexpensive fragrances, tipping arbitrary amounts into their bottles as if I was a scientist in a lab who had perfected the art of perfumery. After achieving what was to my youthful mind, a perfectly ladylike scent, I would spritz my wrists with the dark liquid like I had seen my grandma do so many times before we left for church. In the end, I would always emerge from the guest bathroom smelling not unlike a reject bin at a Bath & Body Works store.

I would parade around the house on my bare feet, a toothy smile stretched across my face and pushing my freckles around, feeling like the epitome of a proper lady in my fancy new perfume.

 

 

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“What’s going on?” – Serial Sexual Assaults on IUPUI’s Campus

On April 24, 2017, as Sexual Assault Awareness Month was coming to a close, IUPUI students were notified that campus police had received two separate reports of sexual assault. The first, which was reported as rape, occurred on April 21, and the second instance, reported as fondling, occurred on April 24.

Two days later, it has been reported by multiple Indianapolis news outlets that a third report of sexual assault was made on Monday, and that police believe the same person is responsible for all three assaults. The description of that suspect was included in the initial email from IUPUI, and is as follows:

“[Victims described] the male suspect as having a dark complexion (possibly Latino), approximately 5’6″ tall and weighing approximately 150lbs. On 04/24/17 the suspect was reported to be wearing a black backpack, black Nike basketball shorts, white Nike shoes and a maroon hooded sweatshirt. The suspected was also reported to have dark brown hair.”

The story, which has now been reported on by outlets such as The Indy Star, Fox 59, WRTV, and WISH-TV, is definitely alarming to me as a student of the university. Lesser so than the threat of sexual assault, but still unnerving, is the fact that as the investigation has continued, students have not heard any further information from their university.

As a female student who often traverses campus alone, I deserve to know that campus police have interviewed a person of interest in the case (as was reported by the outlets named above), and I shouldn’t have to get on Google and search out developments on cases which have directly impacted my fellow Jaguars.

I love and appreciate this university, but there have been several occasions when I have been more than dissatisfied with the way they oversee the security of its students. The Crime Notification emails do well by alerting students of the crimes, but often days later, a delay that I assume is the cause of processing the report. While I am sympathetic to the fact that the university does not want to alarm students by sending notifications prior to some investigation, I feel that being notified of an instance rape three days after the fact is unacceptable.

This delay leaves students like myself feeling unsafe, and at this key point in the semester, finals already have many of us severely distressed. The one email notification has also left me with more questions than answers – How did this happen? How did this keep happening, to the point that there are now three reports with the same suspect? What, exactly, are university police doing as part of this investigation? Who did they interview, and why were they the suspect?

Those are all questions that I believe the university owes its students. However, given the administration’s prior behavior, I’ll probably have to find the answers to those questions somewhere else.

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Personal Update: Summer 2017

Typing up a quick check-in as the the spring semester of my sophomore year comes to an end:

I am so excited for this summer, not only to get a chance to relax and do fun things (like road-tripping to Tennessee for one) but also because of the professional opportunities I have ahead of me. I will be continuing my work as a content strategist for the IUPUI Division of Undergraduate Education, a position which has so far really helped me gained confidence in my writing abilities. Additionally, I will be interning for the nonprofit organization Indiana Futsal and for the Indiana State Museum! 

Having only been at IUPUI for two years, I’m ahead of most others pursuing a journalism/PR degree thanks to taking dual credit classes in high school. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to do that. 

I’m excited for these upcoming positions not only because they’re going to look fantastic on a resume but because the supervisors for each of them value and support me as a young professional. Though I haven’t began the position with the museum yet, it’s already clear to me that my boss is a kind and flexible person who is understanding and values those who work for her. Additionally, I’ve already been working with the director of Indiana Futsal and he has made it clear that he values my insight. I say these things not to brag (okay, yeah, a little bit to brag but I deserve it) but to point out the value of working for people you like. Between my job and my internships, I’m excited to complete the work that’s expected out of me – which is definitely not something that every professional can say. 

I’m so incredibly thankful and I plan on doing my best to keep this blog updated so stay tuned to see what these opportunities have in store for me! 

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Support systems which uphold young professionals are invaluable

A reflection on the impact of university programming and on-campus families.

I recently have had the opportunity to begin work as a writer, edit, and content strategist at my university, a position which has already helped me grow immensely in the brief months I have held it. My first task within this role was to write Student Success Stories for IUPUI’s Diversity Enrichment and Achievement Program, known around campus as DEAP.

It took a few weeks to get into contact and interview four different, busy students around campus, but in the end I had a great time combining their words and my writing skillset to share their stories. I was tasked with drafting pieces that would demonstrate the positives of being a member of DEAP, and the depth of the results (pun possibly intended) surprised me.

I was apprehensive, when beginning this project, as to how much people would be willing to share with a stranger whom they only knew as being a writer for the school. Their eagerness to open up was a pleasant surprise, and as you’ll see if you read their stories, being a part of DEAP impacted them all greatly in different ways. Each of them was able to say that the program’s staff and students had become a secondary family, and I think connection between that type of support and the success of these young people should be recognized. 

College is an enormous alteration from high school on its own, and when you factor in all the other possible changes (“I have to get good grades and work enough to pay the bills?!”) it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I myself spent a lot of time that first semester in a puddle of salty tears.  However, each of the four students I interviewed overcame those and quite a few other odds to become confident leaders in the community, growth which they all attributed to the support system they found in the program. 

Finding something stable and supportive to hold on to in the never-ending whirlwind of life can literally change a person’s life. 

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Holding Myself Accountable: Positive Vibes

This is the face of a young woman who’s happy and grateful for what she has. (Though shy about posting makeup-less photos)
     There is something that I’ve been very conscious of lately, to the point where I’ve decided it warrants a rare blog post. I know, I need to do better about keeping this thing updated. I’ve become increasingly concerned that some posts I make on social media can be read as ungrateful.

      I have a tendency to make sarcastic status updates, complaining about minor inconveniences such as noisy neighbors, and while some of the people who live in my building do get quite rowdy, I want to assure everyone that I’m aware of how privileged I am to even have an apartment to call my own. 

      I am a college student who resides with someone they love in a spacious apartment in a safe neighborhood. I have a job and receive scholarships to help with school, and I’ve not yet ever had to be concerned about paying my bills. I have a family which cares about me and lives within driving distance, and I have a car which can get me there any time I need it. I acknowledge all these things, and on a daily basis I think to myself how grateful I am for them. I am going to try and do better at sharing that gratefulness with the universe. 

      For the time being, I will end this post by saying I’m very happy with where I am right now. I have people in my life who love and support me, and I’ve also had many incredible opportunities which are helping me grow personally and professionally, and I know there’s plenty more around the corner. I still get irritated at little things sometimes because I am human, but overall I’m thrilled to be where I am.  

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To My Old School,

 

union
This photo isn’t mine, but the school certainly is.

When I attended you every day, I lacked school spirit. I failed to acknowledge how lucky I was to take part in the community you fostered. I didn’t appreciate the sense of closeness I shared with your other students and the familiarity of your walls, halls, and classrooms. Even now, two years after graduating from you, I admit I don’t think about you much. But today, for whatever reason, I woke up with images of you on my mind.

I can picture you clearly as you were two years ago, the last time I stepped through your glass double doors and stood in the foyer (a word which Mr. Mac always pronounced the French way). I can feel myself bumping shoulders with people as I stand at the top of the ramp and the hall floods with students during passing period. I remember being outraged that we only had four minutes to get a class down the hall, whereas I now attend a college where it’s sometimes necessary to get half a mile across campus in fifteen minutes.
I can hear the sound of shoes squeaking and basketballs bouncing in the gym, a space where I was either a part of a team or a part of a community cheering my team on. I can hear the buzzer as the last shot of the game smacks against the backboard and falls through the net. I can also smell the concessions stand air wafting my way as I venture further back through the building. The source of the smell is a tiny box of a room filled up with hot dogs, popcorn, Gatorade, and students taking orders to raise money for their organization or class. I spent many nights there being bad at making change and guarding my post as the popcorn maker.
My old school, I could give every detail of your cafeteria to a sketch artist and produce a perfect rendering, right down to the “Got Milk” posters and unused traffic light on the wall. I know you so well.

What I want you to know, in turn, is that even though I’m busy these days and I haven’t visited you since I left, I remember. I remember all those things I just listed and I have more spirit for you now than I did back when I thought it was cool to have none. I know better now, because I’ve grown. And in my mind, even though you don’t come up often, I cherish the memories I have because of you. The classes, the field trips, the ball games, the academic meets, and the general craziness that was growing up with you as one of my homes. For those things and so many more, I’m grateful.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
The girl who had an attitude and too much eyeliner

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Hosting my first community service event

A short post on the importance of loving and positive spaces

I hosted my first community service event this morning and only half of the people who originally signed up actually attended – but I’m not disappointed.

When the day began and people started to back out via text message, I was concerned that my first event wouldn’t go well. I had put a lot of pressure on myself to make this the best event possible, and in the process I managed to forget one of the most integral rules of event planning – you can plan every single detail, but there’s no way to guarantee it will go like you thought it would. Just so you know, that’s okay.

As soon as my volunteers began to show, a large part of my concern dissolved. I had a group of students that were happy to be where they were, and though some were timid, we all had an easy time making conversation.

A positive attitude can make or break an experience.

The event took place at a no-kill cat sanctuary in Indianapolis called Cats Haven (I high encourage you to give them a visit). This meant that we spent our time in a facility that houses over 120  felines, most of which are elderly or special needs.

It takes an especially big heart to dedicate one’s life to caring for such animals, and that much was immediately apparent in the women who operate Cats Haven.

We were welcomed by people who were eager to share their space with us (and by kitties who were eager to be petted). I couldn’t have asked for a more positive atmosphere. At that point any concern I had left melted away. The women at Cats Haven have an immense amount of love for the cats, and they hosted us IUPUI students just as warmly.

Overall, the positive energy in the house was just as tangible as the cat hair, which is what made the event special, not the number of attendees.

 

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Warning: This is a Positivity Post for Women Everywhere

That does mean it is a post that in any way is against men. If you read this as anything to the contrary, you are the problem, not me or my words. Thank you.

There is nothing more mystical to me than a woman of great knowledge, power or strength. There are also few things as disheartening to witness as a woman who is consistently having her knowledge, power or strength tested. As a nation, we have witnessed this during the entirety of the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton has faced blatant sexism head on again and again, in nearly every interaction she has had with the media.

Everyone has been a witness to this disheartening effect in their personal lives, too. Though it is often the result of misogyny, the particular instances which have inspired this post are related to emotional trauma.

It is difficult to watch someone you admire fight back tears, and it’s even harder when there is no way for you to help them in that fight. However, I did not sit down to write this post just to let it dwell on sad things or end it negatively – I have a point. Let us go back to the mysticism I referred to before.

Women are amazing. To any woman who reads this, you are amazing.

We do not get told that enough, at least not for the reasons that matter. Thus the body image issues. Thus the internalized misogyny we often hold in the back of our minds so it may rear its head in times of doubt. It’s true that our strength is not often enough praised, so much so that we sometimes forget it exists, but it is also true that women can and have endured so much.

So, I wanted to write a short post to act as a reminder both to myself and to those who identify as a woman who may read this at any point: you have the ability to overcome whatever cruel act the world sends your way. I promise you. Please also remember that you are beautiful, not only externally as a human being that exists physically on this earth but also internally as an entity in this universe.

You are intelligent. You are skillful. You are courageous. You are capable. You are loved. You do not need anyone’s approval to be you.

You are swirling energy of radiant light that just so happens to currently exist in the shape of a human being, and you will get through whatever it is that currently weighs heavily on your heart.

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Miscommunications from Professors

(And other people higher up on the food chain)

When it comes to the classroom, there are very few things as frustrating as a professor who gives unclear instructions. It is especially difficult for me to be patient with communications professors who do this. How could you possibly give a delightful, well-informed lecture on transparent communication and then turn around and give us an assignment that has the whole class scratching their heads?

There are always going to be authority figures who give you unclear instructions – it probably started with your parents and will continue throughout the rest of your personal and professional life. So what are you supposed to do when you don’t know what to do in the first place?

First – do your best to have patience

Take a moment to remember how easy it is to leave out important details whenever you’re trying to explain something. We’ve all done it. If you’re knowledgeable about a certain topic you don’t always stop to consider what questions newcomers might have. So you end up spending five minutes rattling off your idea, having forgotten to explain something that to you seems obvious, and your audience winds up completely lost.

Give your professor/boss/grandma the benefit of the doubt here and calmly ask for clarification. Expect that occasionally the person might get a little embarrassed, assuming that because you’re asking a question you don’t like whatever they are trying to say. Assure them, if need be, that you just want to make sure you thoroughly understand.

Second – play it back in your head

Were the instructions unclear, or were you just not paying attention? Sometimes the part you are confused about was only mentioned once, and if you happened to get distracted at the time thinking about something irrelevant you might be lost on your accord. That’s okay. Just figure out what you need to do to come back to civilization and understand the assignment fully.

See if you can run back through everything your professor said and try to put the pieces together. If you’re still unsure, don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you would be more comfortable, message someone in your class and see if they have the answer to your question rather than the professor. Chances are, they are either confused too – in which case, at least you’re not alone – or they were listening better than you.

When all else fails – do your best

Don’t give up just because you are a little flustered. Do everything you know you are supposed to do, and if there’s another section of the assignment that you are unsure on whether or not to include – it’s probably best to do it.

Your professor may be a little disappointed if you misunderstood what they wanted, but at least they will be able to see that you tried.

 

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Media Advisory

The following text is a sample Media Advisory written as an assignment for a Public Relations Writing course. All event details are fictional.

Contact: Marissa Smith Sept. 29, 2016

(p) 555-555-5555

(e) ms204@umail.iu.edu

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: IT’S NOT ALWAYS A DRILL

What would happen to your family if you had to go days without electricity or outside contact?

When disasters strike, most Americans must rely on emergency services reaching them. However, in certain situations, emergency services are unable to reach those affected, leaving families stranded and scared. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) will spend time presenting tips on emergency preparedness in order to improve the general public’s ability to handle a natural disaster. This would be an excellent event to cover, as it will provide reporters with the opportunity to interact with area residents as well as obtain direct quotes from an IDHS employee.

WHO: John Erickson, Director of Public Information, Indiana Department of Homeland Security

WHAT: Presentation titled “How Prepared Are You For a Disaster?”

WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 at 4 p.m.

WHERE: Room 3100L, IUPUI University Library, 755 W. Michigan, Indianapolis, IN 46202

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

The presentation should last no more than an hour, including time for audience members to ask Mr. Erickson questions. It will then be followed by a hors d’oeuvres reception sponsored by Federal Emergency Management Agency, during which Mr. Erickson will give one-on-one interviews with any reporters present. This event is open to the public and free parking located in the lot directly across Michigan Street.

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IDHS provides statewide leadership, exemplary customer service, and subject matter expertise for the enhancement of public and private partnerships. It also works in collaboration with local, state and federal agencies to continually develop Indiana’s public safety capabilities for the wellbeing and protection of its citizens, property and economy. For more information, visit dhs.in.gov.