What I’m Thankful For

Julie-Jo sort of inspired me to write this blog entry with her email yesterday about writing blog entries about simple aspects of our day to day lives. This idea about what we are thankful for really struck me for some reason, and it’s definitely appropriate since Thanksgiving is quickly approaching.

First and foremost, I would like to thank the few friends I have in my life that have truly been there for me, accept me as I am and don’t try to change me. I am thankful to those who make an effort to understand me and to those who care for me and make me feel appreciated. I say few, because I have a lot of people in my life that I would consider friends, but too many of them act in ways that suggest that they are more concerned about how events play out in their lives than they are concerned how they play out in mine. Too many of them put themselves in the center of the equation when there’s a problem, and, again, I’m thankful for those who don’t, who basically love me, because I am who I am, not because they see aspects that can be improved.

Secondly, I am thankful to have a home to return to when I’m not in school. I know that there are people out there who don’t have that. In fact, one of my friends was just telling me the other day that she knows someone who doesn’t really have a place to go, so he stays with her. I’m thankful to be someone who has a home and thus does have a place to go. My family and I, most notably my parents and I, have not always gotten along, but it seems as if that isn’t really a problem anymore since I have started school. For the most part, going home (which is rare, making it that much more special; I’ve only gone home twice so far since I got here in August) is a nice, relaxing getaway from college life, which is very often incredibly stressful. On that note, I’m thankful to have a younger brother who I get along with really well. When we were younger, anyone would have said that the day we got along would have been the same day pigs flew. Now that we’re older though, it’s different. Now we’re friends, if you want to put it that way.

Next, I would have to say that I am thankful to be able to be here, fulfilling my dreams and receiving a college education. The road that lead me to where I am today was an incredibly long and difficult one. There were, in fact, times that I felt very dubious about the matter and began to think that maybe I wasn’t going to make it. Some people even told me that I wasn’t going to make it, and here I am, having proved them wrong and having proved myself wrong.

I am thankful for music. I cannot possibly write a blog entry about what I’m thankful for without mentioning music. As of now, I don’t play anything, but I want to learn piano. Unfortunately, opportunity never presented itself, or if it did, it fell short. One time, for example, I made plans with someone to give me lessons. My parents were even going to pay her, but she never called me. I thought that that would be different in college, but so far, it has proven to be just as difficult. I wanted to take piano lessons but was told that I’d have to take Class Piano first, so I figured I’d take that second semester, but I tried registering for it, and there are no seats available, so I’m going to be at least a junior before I can begin taking lessons, and that’s assuming that I can register for the class the first semester of my sophomore year before all the seats are taken yet again. Anyway, I’m getting off topic here. I am thankful for music in general. Music often changes my mood, or even more often, it intensifies a feeling I am already experiencing, which oddly enough, makes the feelings easier to cope with and eventually either accept or put behind me. Movies and other forms of entertainment are stories that are created by someone based on fictitious ideas that that person has, but music comes directly from the heart and from the artist’s feelings and is real in that sense.

Lastly, I have to mention literature as being something I’m thankful for. My love and appreciation for it was ultimately the main reason why I decided that I want to teach English literature to high school students. I want to share my love for it and hope to inspire young people with it the way so much of it has inspired me. I also hope to turn more young people into readers. I personally think that there are too many who don’t read enough or maybe don’t even read at all, and I also think that more learning is going to be accomplished just by picking up a book than by sitting in a classroom. I remember my mother telling me once (in fact, I think my father has told me this as well) that you don’t learn from fiction writing, and I was appalled by the statement because of my vehement disagreement with it. Even by reading a fictitious work, you learn a great deal about the world, human emotion, the sociology of human nature, and in some cases, you even learn about history. I can confidently say that most of what I know now was learned from fictional literature. I know that as a fact. It may be true that, for me anyway, it provides an escape from reality, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t learn anything from it.

I’m sure there are a lot of additional things I am thankful for. For example, I’m obviously thankful to be an American and thus have the right to vote and to be entitled to freedom of speech, etc. I’m obviously thankful to be alive. I’m also thankful for peanut butter, the television series LOST and for Italian food. However, I think that I really touched upon the important aspects of my life that I am really thankful for.

Second Semester

For a while now, I have been trying to battle the idea that I’m not as happy here at SUNY Oswego as I could be just because I feel as if I’m not in the right residence hall. As it happened, I, for some reason, made a lot of friends who live in Johnson. Well, I do know why that is, but it wouldn’t really be necessary or productive to this blog entry to explain.

I live in Oneida Hall, which, of course, is basically all the way on the other side of campus, opposite of Johnson, so needless to say, walking over to Johnson to see my friends is a long walk. It’s a walk that I don’t mind, however, as long as the weather is nice, but the weather isn’t always going to be nice. I already find myself incredibly cold some nights on my way back to Oneida, and that’s only going to get worse.

It would seem like the most sensible option would be to cut down on how frequently I visit them when the winter hits, and it starts getting cold and snowy, but that really isn’t an option to be honest. My friends here are my world, and it isn’t my fault that they just happen to live in Johnson. Another sensible option might be to simply try to make more friends in Oneida, but I don’t see that as an option either. I just don’t feel like I belong in Oneida. I have one person in Oneida that I feel really close to, and that’s it, which is opposed to the seven that I can think of who live in Johnson. I am therefore proposing to move into Johnson for the second semester, or if I can’t get into Johnson, which would be preferable, then at least Riggs, which is located right next door to Johnson.

When I’m in Johnson with my friends, I feel like I belong there, and it feels like home to me. I simply don’t feel that way in Oneida. I have filled out a wait list form and have my fingers crossed, praying that this is going to happen. Like I said, I see myself feeling a lot happier as well as more emotionally and physically comfortable here at SUNY Oswego, so I’m really hoping that my request is accepted!

Yes We Can, and Yes We Did!

Well, as I said I would, I am planning to use this blog entry to communicate my experiences last week in Pennsylvania. For those of you who don’t know, I travelled to Pennsylvania last Monday, November 3 and stayed throughout the presidential election to campaign for Senator Barack Obama, soon to be President Barack Obama. It was one of the most inspirational experiences of my life.

Monday was mostly made up of the bus ride. We left Oswego at approximately 9:30 a.m. and got to Pittsburgh at around 6 p.m. We then canvassed, which involved separating into groups and travelling to staging locations. The one I went to was right in Pittsburgh. We were given flyers which said to vote for Obama tomorrow, 11/4, addresses and directions to get to those addresses. We then walked around neighborhoods and posted these flyers on doors, encouraging those registered to vote to go vote and to vote for Obama.

That evening was then followed by a powerful and inspirational pep rally. The night didn’t end until 2 a.m., as I then participated in an event called Midnight Madness, in which I posted posters, flyers and stickers around the Pittsburgh University campus encouraging students to vote and to vote for Obama. This is a bit off topic here and seemingly random, but I really loved Pittsburgh University. It was so beautiful and just seemed like that perfect image of college life and the way I had always imagined it when I was younger. It honestly caused me to consider it as a graduate school.

Tuesday then called for a 7:00 a.m. wake up call, so running on about 3 and a half hours of sleep, I canvassed once again, this time in Washington, Pennsylvania. This was a bit of a culture shock to me, because it was so foreign and different from what I am used to. Washington is a large city with many, many buildings that are very, very close together, and walking around it trying to find homes wasn’t the most exhilerating part of the trip. We then travelled to Uniontown, which, as we were told, is about forty miles outside of the border of Maryland. This town seemed to be more Conservative, as we came across a large number of McCain/Palin signs and also received a large number of hostile facial expressions from people who had obviously made note of what we were doing.

Before leaving Uniontown, I phonebanked for approximately an hour. This involved receiving a long list of telephone and cell phone numbers and calling them to ensure that each household who was registered to vote had voted or was intending to vote and that they had voted for Obama or were intending to vote for Obama. The staging location was even willing to provide transporation for those who wanted to vote but had no way of getting to the polls. This made me feel productive and made me feel like I was doing my share to voice my opinion in ways that would actually matter statistically.

After a long and dedicated day, it was now time to party. On the ride back to Pittsburgh to attend the campaign party, it had been announced on the radio that Obama had won Pennsylvania. This was, needless to say, quite something for us to hear, because we all knew in our hearts that we had made a difference and that we had had something to do with this victory. I could feel it in mine, and I knew that everyone else could too. The party consisted of guest speakers getting the very, very large crowd of people excited and in anticipation as we watched CNN while it aired the election’s final moments. At around 11 p.m., CNN showed that there was only about a minute left until the final polls closed, and when it got to zero seconds remaining, the crowd said in unison, “1…2…3!” and magically, at 3, BARACK OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT was presented on the screen as the entire room applauded, cheered, screamed and threw its arms up into the air. I cannot recall any moment in my life that I had been happier than at that moment. Not only had I been waiting for this for so long, but I knew I had played a role in it and that all of our hard work had paid off.

When we got on the bus at around midnight, the noise and the excitement was not quieted until the radio show we were listening to broadcasted Obama’s victory speech, which we listened to in its entirety. Of course, Obama has always been an excellent public speaker, as his campaign has proven time and time again, but I guarantee that that speech will go down as one the most powerful in history. I would think that the opening would be the most difficult, and he even nailed that. “For those wondering whether America can accomplish anything, tonight is your answer.” Listening to the speech increased my inspiration and feeling of confidence, if that was even possible, because I kept thinking, “this guy is going to be our president.”

We had made history. This election, which had in store so many groundbreaking elements which made it historic, was my very first election, and I had done more than just vote. I had actually participated in it and campaigned for it, and I had made a difference. I have, as you can probably imagine, suffered a great deal of persecution from McCain supporters and Republicans, having been told that I helped a Socialist win the American presidency and that I helped activate a blind motivation amongst millions who couldn’t even tell you why they were planning to vote for Obama, but what’s nice about living in a Democracy is that they have the liberal right to feel that way and to even voice it, and I feel that by doing what I did last week, I helped preserve that right that all of us have.

Teamsters eagerly awaiting our chance to make a difference:


Staging location in Washington:

Staging location

Staging location:

I Need You!

Doorknob flyers that we distributed in Uniontown:

Vote Obama today!

Campaign party:

Campaign party!


Oh, yes we did!

As close to meeting the great one as we got:

The great one himself

Although I took most of them, I didn’t take all of these photos, and I therefore feel that it would be appropriate to make note of this so that it doesn’t appear to anyone as if I am attempting to take credit for what isn’t mine. Some of these were taken by acquaintances that went on the trip as well. I had the unfortunate experience of having the camera that I was using stolen, but I suppose that you have to have something bad happen to you in order to undergo such an amazing experience!

Road Tripping for Change ’08

Today, I am leaving to go to Pennsylvania for Road Tripping for Change. The purpose of the event is to encourage citizens to hit the polls on Tuesday to vote for the democratic candidate, Barack Obama. The trip was basically promoted by SUNY Oswego Students for Barack Obama, which is how I found out about it. Everything, including housing, board and transportation, was paid for by Obama’s campaign and is therefore free for those of us going. Needless to say, I am very excited. This election is very important to me, because not only is it the first that I am participating in, but I am also a very strong supporter of Barack Obama for many reasons. So much is at stake right now, and what is sacrificed and what is gained depends primarily, if not solely, on who becomes America’s next president, so this opportunity, this chance, to help make a difference was an idea that I couldn’t even consider passing on, especially since it is completely free!

When I return, I will be writing a blog entry about my experience. I will also hopefully have some photographs that will help give everyone an idea of what this experience was like. I see it as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, which, again, is why I couldn’t pass it down, especially since this is my first election in which I can vote. I will be returning either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, depending on whether or not Obama wins Pennsylvania (if he does, we will be holding a celebration Tuesday night), and not to intentionally shove my beliefs down peoples’ throats, but I am going to bluntly say that I am hoping for the nation’s sake that I will be returning Wednesday.

Great concert, poor promotion

On Sunday, November 2nd at the Campus Center, I attended a concert that featured The Score, Thieves and Villains and Nightmare of You. I have been a fan of Nightmare of You for a couple of years now, and I just find it somewhat disappointing that I had to find out from a friend of mine in Manhattan that they were playing here tonight. If it wasn’t for her randomly mentioning it in casual conversation over AIM, I never would have known about it, probably not even afterwards since there were less than twenty students at the concert, none of whom I knew. My point is that I really do think that when events like this happen on campus, students should be made aware of it. They shouldn’t have to find out from friends who don’t even live here. There really should have been more promotion, because I didn’t see any posters around campus.

Anyway, I want to use this blog entry to talk about my concert experience, not to rant about that. The concert was, in my opinion, amazing. Admission was $5.00 and was paid before the concert began. Nightmare of You was the only band I had heard of prior to attending the concert, but that turned out to be ironic, because I enjoyed the first band, The Score, the most. I loved the energy in their music, and all of their songs were extremely catchy. Of course, I was under the impression at that point that there were only two bands playing and therefore assumed that it was Thieves and Villains that I was watching, so when their set was over, I headed over to the merchandise table to buy the Thieves and Villains album that they had for sale, only to discover later that it was the wrong band, but it was okay, because even though not nearly as good as The Score, they were good as well. What’s also really exciting is that The Score’s album, Songs for a Halfway Home, will be available legally for free download in a couple of weeks, as the band’s frontman pointed out at the concert.

The second band, which I eventually discovered was Thieves and Villains, was also good but not as good as The Score. Although their music was also energetic, it didn’t have the same power, emotion and melodic catchiness that The Score’s music featured. Also, (which was actually a problem for all three bands) the sound system obviously wasn’t adjusted correctly, because the bands’ instruments were too loud and therefore drowned out the frontmens’ voices, making them difficult to hear. Their set was short, as they only played a handful of songs.

Lastly was Nightmare of You. I recognized a few of the songs, because, again, this was the only band that played that I had heard of beforehand, and they therefore influenced me to go to the concert initially. In fact, when I went, I thought they were the only band playing. However, even though I also enjoyed Nightmare of You, they were also not The Score musically. The Score was definitely my favorite set, and I am now very excited for the album to be released online.

Again, however, I’m sure that there were students on campus that like at least one of the bands that played and would have loved to have gone but didn’t because they didn’t know about it. In the future, even if it means having the concert in a larger location than the Campus Center food court (a band called Out of Hiding is playing here Wednesday in the Hewitt Union Ballroom, and it’s a free concert), events such as this really should be more heavily promoted so students actually know what’s going on and are aware of events such as this. I’m sure that it was advertised somewhere, but if I didn’t see it, then it wasn’t made obvious enough, because I love music and am constantly looking for opportunties to hear new bands, as I’m sure other students do as well.

Poetry Club

Reflecting on my high school days, I recall an annual magazine called Galleries that I took part in. Each year, my school released this magazine that contained student-written poetry as well as artwork. I enjoyed writing poetry and submitting it to the magazine, having students and teachers read it when the magazine was published and comment on it. Of course, their interpretation of what I had written didn’t always match what I intended when I wrote it, but that’s what art is all about. I’m also not going to say that my poetry is anything stellar, because it definitely isn’t. Poetry and free-writing are simply ways for me to express myself, and I feel as if those feelings are not fully expressed unless they have been published somehow.

As far as I know, SUNY Oswego doesn’t have such a club or publication, and I think that it would be very beneficial, or at least creatively stimulating, to the campus’s environment if it did. Even if it wasn’t a separate publication (even though I believe that would be the best route to take) but instead published as a section in the Oswegonian, at least students have a way for their work to be published. I also think that it would be a good idea, because I think that for some students, the thought of having their work published would encourage them to write outside of the classroom. As someone who writes as often as he can, I know that, for me, writing independently, especially creative writing, helps me relax, and again, also helps me express myself in a way that I wouldn’t know how otherwise.

SUNY Oswego really should have this available to students, and it doesn’t need to be exclusive to poetry. All forms of creative writing, such as short stories, could be published as well, and this goes back to what I said earlier about students being encouraged to write outside of the classroom, because it works both ways. If students are encouraged to write, then other students are encouraged to read, and the more students who are reading, the higher the incentive there is for writers to keep writing. I wouldn’t know how to go about initiating such a club myself, but I definitely think it can be done with a group of students who also think it would be a good idea.

Cold Weather

Tuesday was one of those days that I began to question my decision to attend SUNY Oswego, and as a freshman, I am aware that that is a very premature statement to make, since I am completely unaware of what winters are actually like here. However, I just can’t believe the wind here, and what’s worse is you don’t just get wind, you get wind and rain, so going outside leaves you with no choice but to get wet, because you can’t use an umbrella because of the wind.

It was just one of those days that really made me start thinking about the winter. Wednesday sort of played its part as well because of how cold it was. I couldn’t believe how I was dressed in October! All I know is that experiencing winters here is definitely going to be an interesting experience, and it’s going to take a lot of adaptation, adaptation that I am hoping is a lot easier than it seems right now.

Visiting Home

I went home this past weekend, and everyone who always told me that it would feel strange was right. After being in Oswego for nearly two months and not having visited home since, going home was very strange, because my hometown felt somewhat foreign. It’s not easy to explain. My hometown, which is Rome, has always felt like home to me, and just about everything else has seemed strange, and I could never imagine myself living somewhere else and feeling comfortable, with the exception of New Hartford, which I love and is actually where I was born. Anyway, coming home this weekend and entering Rome, looking at the shops and the diners and the streets, I realized that that concept of Rome being a safe haven for me has only ever been just that: a concept. Most towns aren’t really that different; it’s just that concept of your hometown being your home that creates that feeling. For example, if someone who lives in Fulton visits Rome, that person would have that same strange feeling of not being able to imagine living there as I used to have visiting other towns.

However, at the same time, going home also reminded me of the film Juno, because there is a scene in the film in which the main character, Juno, says, “I never realize how much I like being home unless I’ve been somewhere really different for a while.” I used to be easily bored by Rome. There is a Walmart, a cinemas, a bowling alley, and that’s about it if you’re looking for a central place to spend time with your friends. However, going home this past week, I also looked at Rome in a whole new light, because even though, as I said before, it felt a bit foreign due to me being away for so long, I was also reminded of how much I love Rome and its comfortable simplicity. There’s Spresso’s coffee on N. James St., which, in my humble opinion, is not even matched by Starbucks. There’s the Community Arts Center where there is a Halloween Haunted House show displayed every year, which is one of my favorite times of the year. There’s also my bedroom, which felt like a long-lost friend seeing it for the first time in almost two months. I couldn’t believe how much room I had in there not having a roommate!

Then, of course, there are the many friends that I haven’t seen in a while, some since June. It was so nice seeing them and catching up with the ones that I haven’t talked to since I left, mainly because of being so busy, and, of course, there is the question which continually presented itself: “how’s college?” It’s not an easy question to answer, because “it’s good” or “I like it” or even “it’s different” doesn’t seem to do the experience justice, and the experience is something that isn’t easy to explain, so I did my best by telling all that asked that it’s not high school.

In all, it was great going back home and seeing my family, doing a late-night Tim Burton movie party with my brother and a close friend and listening to my father as he tried to convince me to become a McCain supporter. I can’t wait to go back, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying the very few green days here at Oswego that we have left.


I have to say that I am really happy that SUNY Oswego recognizes holidays of other ethnicities, not just the “standard” holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and so forth, and this isn’t just because of the days off from classes. These holidays should be recognized and not just because of college being more diverse than high school, because when I was in high school, I knew many different students of different ethnic backgrounds; diversity is everywhere. It therefore only seems to make sense to recognize other holidays as well. For example, if a college such as SUNY Oswego is going to recognize Easter and Christmas, both typically observed by those of Christian faith, then it only makes sense to recognize holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I am very excited and encouraged by the strong sense of recognition of the different ethnicities and the diversity here at SUNY Oswego.


I love this weather! Autumn really is the best time of the year! A lot of my best childhood memories are from this time time of year. There’s the piles of leaves outside of school in the playground which makes endless fun jumping into. There’s apple cider. The best part of it, in my opinion, is Halloween, which is coming up really soon. Believe it or not, that was once one of my biggest concerns in regards to coming to college. I remember talking to someone a couple years ago about Halloween and saying, “But what if they don’t really celebrate Halloween?” to which I was told, “are you kidding me? College students love Halloween!” I am really looking forward to that.

Of course, being in college means a lot of those things aren’t going to be the same. Looking for a Halloween costume is going to have to be done online, not at Party City, which is where I normally do it. There possibly won’t be trick or treating, but I don’t really care about that, but there’s always decorating the dorm room, which is going to be so much fun! That I am excited for. I’d do it now if it wasn’t too early, but I definitely think it is.

I also feel like, for some reason, I have finally found a workable balance between a social life and a student life. This weekend, for example, I went out with friends quite a bit and also got a lot of homework done. Something happened recently, but I don’t know what. Possibly, I am just finally getting used to the college life. I just thought that maybe I’d share that with everyone just in case there are those out there who still feel lost and confused, because I am here to tell you that not only are you not alone but also that it does get better.