The Airbnb from Hell

It’s only £100 to fly roundtrip to Lisbon from London, so when my cousin Melissa suggested we run off for the weekend and trace our ancestral roots, my typically frugal self thought, sure. Why not. I was studying abroad in London and as many American students do in Europe, I was going to try and check out as many countries as I could while on the continent. I know. Roll your eyes.

For our weekend trip to Portugal (weekend trip in Portugal! Who did I think I was?) we decided to rent an Airbnb. Despite not always having excellent Airbnb experiences (bedbugs in Brooklyn) I thought it was the best way to go. We could stay right in the Baixa (city center) in a real apartment and for a cheap price! We paid for two nights at an apartment owned by “Rosa’s Friends”–whatever that meant.

We arrived in Lisbon gasping and screaming. It was so beautiful—beautiful in a way that could not be real, and especially unreal for Americans familiar with Starbucks on every corner. Lisbon’s beauty wore age at the edges. It’s a hilly, Mediterranean paradise—an old city of crumbling blue tiled walls, and clothing still hangs in the air above between buildings. The sidewalks of white tiles glisten under the streetlights. But that’s not what this is about. This is about Airbnb.

Everything looked and sounded fine from the messages I had corresponded with the owner, Rosa. The only thing was, she was busy at the hour we would be arriving from the airport. So she asked if it was alright if she left the key at down the road at Vitoria Café.


Melissa and I found Vitoria Café. It was night time, and bright fluorescent lights illuminated pastries behind glass windows. I approached the counter and asked the man behind it if he had a key for me. He did not understand my English so I had to keep flipping through a Portuguese phrase book and looking at Melissa in a panic. Eventually the point was made clear and he understood what I meant; but no–he did not have a key for us.


‘Would you like to call them on the phone?”

He let us borrow his cell phone, and I called the phone number listed on the Airbnb webpage. The line trilled three times and then someone answered.


“Hi, um…This is Kelly, from Airbnb? There’s supposed to be a key for us here at Café Vitoria but there’s no key.”

The woman on the other end of the line sputtered in confusion. I did not understand what she was saying. “Oh, Rosa did not leave the key with you?”

“You’re not Rosa?”

“No, I’m not Rosa. I work with Rosa.”

Melissa stood beside me, watching as I stood with the phone in my hand and my mouth open.

“So how do we get into the apartment?” I asked the woman who was not Rosa.

“I will be there soon! Wait half an hour!”

The call ended. I told Melissa with bewilderment that whoever Rosa was, she was in no way present to give us the key. We thanked the man at Café Vitoria and returned to the apartment building. We sank down to the sidewalk and sat there for a half an hour…and then another half an hour. No one came.

A man and a woman approached the door. I stood up. “Oh! Are you from Airbnb?”

They stared at me. No, they were not the owners of the apartment. But they were also Airbnb visitors just like us. We explained our situation to the couple. “You poor things!” The woman said. “Why don’t you come in and wait in our apartment until they get here, and use our wifi?” She pronounced it as “wee-fee”.

Well, we had nothing to lose. Entering a possible sketchy situation, we agreed to go up to the couple’s apartment. They told us that they were from Switzerland and were also just visiting Lisbon for a few days. They offered us beer, wine and tea. The man even ran downstairs to find a shop to buy bottles at, even after we insisted that was unnecessary. Another hour passed with no sign of a key arriving. The woman I had spoken to on the phone still had not shown up.

The Swiss woman fixed us a bed on her couch. “Just stay here with us! You can’t sleep on the street.”

I turned to Melissa. “Should we?” I whispered. It felt incredibly intrusive of us to sleep on this couple’s couch, but what else could we do?

Suddenly, connected to the ‘wee-fee’, I received a message from the ‘Rosa’s Friends’ Airbnb account. It read:

“We would like to purpose something to you, we reserve an another place for you for this night. But the only nice place we can not pay online, you pay and we return you the money, is it ok? Let me know quicly because almost dont have any room in Lisbon to stay…”

“That’s sketchy,” Melissa said. The Swiss couple agreed.

“Can we meet you there?” I typed back. “I am not sure how I feel about paying for something up front since we already paid for a room.”

We corresponded back and forth. I said that I would prefer to stay in the place we paid for, in the building we stood in now. But it appeared that Rosa, whoever she was, if she was real—was nowhere to be seen and the only key had disappeared. There was not a spare to be found. We walked into the hallway and tried to open the door to our apartment, but it would not budge. We returned to the Swiss couple, laughing awkwardly.

I had another message. The Airbnb host was offering to send us an Uber to take us to this new hotel. I was dismayed at the idea of leaving the beautiful Baixa neighborhood, and it felt strange to accept a car ordered by a phantom over text message. “What should we do?” I whispered again to Melissa.

“Maybe we should go. I feel bad staying on their couch. And a paid hotel room would be nice,” Mel said. I agreed.

So we bid many thanks to the Swiss couple and told them an Uber was picking us up to take us to the new hotel. They were worried for us, and we caught them watching from the balcony while down below we got into the car and were driven to an unknown place.

We arrived. I looked out the window. “Wallis Guesthouse” was written on a tiny, inconspicuous sign by an intercom button. The lobby of the building was completely dark. I did not see a concierge, a lobby boy or anyone in sight. Melissa and I turned back to the driver. “Is this the place?”

“This is it,” he said.  We nodded slowly, letting him drive away.

Inside there was not a soul in sight. It did not look like a hotel at all—it appeared to be some sort of office building or apartment. We fumbled up an unlit staircase with our hands on the walls until we finally reached a door marked “Wallis Guesthouse” again. We knocked on the door.

No one answered.

We knocked again. We rang. We rang. No one answered. We pounded on the door. It was now midnight.

Finally a girl in a bathrobe opened the door.

“Hi, we’re supposed to have a reservation here,” I squeaked.

“I don’t work here,” she said, and turned back into her room. We looked around. It was a wide hallway with six or seven marked doors for guests. It smelled putridly like feet and the walls were painted a screaming pink. There was a reception desk in the middle of the hall. No one sat at it.

“Hello?” We called out. I paced around the room. “We need a room!”

“They’re closed,” A guest said, hearing my plea.

I turned to Melissa and stared. They were closed. And there was no wifi to connect with the Airbnb woman. We were completely alone.

“What the fuck!” We screamed. I tore apart the front desk, looking for a key we could take, or any indication of our booking. “What do we do?”

Melissa turned on her cellular—an expensive sacrifice. She called not-Rosa and told her how we were stranded yet again.

“Oh no,” The woman said. “I am so sorry. Okay, we will pick you up and bring you to the other Wallis. That one is open.”

So we trudged back downstairs, our backpacks and suitcases still in hand. We stood in the doorway, gazing outside and waiting for the strangers to appear.

A car arrived. A young couple got out. “Hello! Are you Kelly?” The woman called. We struggled to open the door, and she talked to us through the glass.

“We are so sorry. This is just surreal. So surreal. We don’t know what happened to Rosa.”

“It’s okay,” I said.

We got in their car. It was a cramped mess, and we had to hold a full-length mirror over our laps. The man drove while the woman apologized over and over. I checked the clock. It was almost one in the morning. “It’s so surreal. Now you know what it’s like to be Portuguese.” What she meant by that, I have no idea.

The car arrived at the second Wallis Guesthouse. The street was dark, barren and not pretty. We were miles away from the charming Baixa we chose weeks ago. I clenched my teeth together, carrying my bags inside another building. If only I had booked a normal hotel, or a functional Airbnb. We would have had a night out in the city. We would have had dinner. We wouldn’t have spent the night on sidewalks, starving and waiting and lost.

We got a room with a bed. Finally. We said goodnight to the Airbnb couple. We told them everything was alright. Tomorrow this would all be straightened out, wouldn’t it?

Wrong. I awoke to this message: “So this is the situation. Rosa has the keys and she disappeared I don’t know really what happened and she just doesn’t get in touch…”

“What?” Mel asked, watching me read the text.

“They still don’t have the key.”

“What the fuck!”

The woman offered to get us another night at Wallis. I did not want to stay here but it appeared we had no choice. “Sure. We’ll stay here another night,” I typed.

A maid opened the door, and jolted at the sight of us sitting on the beds. “Oh! No—we’re staying another night,” I said.

“Oh?” The maid frowned and shut the door.

We dressed and got ready to venture out and see Portugal—finally. We only had a day and a half left. In the lobby I let the woman know that we would be staying for another night. She rose an inch off of her seat.

“I’m sorry but we don’t have any rooms for you tonight. We’re totally booked.”


The lunacy had reached a new level. Once again we had nowhere to stay.

I fervently texted the Airbnb woman while the girl at the lobby desk sputtered out apologies and ideas. She offered to let us leave our luggage at the front desk there until we found somewhere to go. “But unfortunately check-out is in ten minutes.” No one had any solutions. All we could do was go back up to our room, pack up our bags again and hope for the best.

We left our belongings behind the desk in the lobby and tried to enjoy our day out in Libson. And we did enjoy our day! We saw the most beautiful views I had ever seen in my life—from the castle (castelo) of St. Jorge you can see the entire city, the ocean, the bridge, the other side. But an underlying panic rippled in my stomach throughout all of it. Where were we staying tonight? Are our bags safe at “Wallis”?

At eight that night we took the metro back to the second Wallis Guest House. We got Wi-Fi and received a message that we could go back to the original apartment in the Baixa—where we had just been before we took the metro—and stay in a different room. Apparently another guest’s room had just become vacant. I wondered if it was the Swiss couple’s room. “Okay. We’ll take it.”

“We will leave the key for you at Café Vitoria.”

Oh, God. This again.

That time, the key was actually there. We got a room. The rest of the trip went relatively smoothly. We left a letter for the kind Swiss couple. We never did get to see the original room we rented, and I still don’t know if they ever found the key—or Rosa. I wrote a bad review of this Airbnb and requested a refund, and in response I got a scathing review on my Airbnb page. And of course, no refund.


I know now that I probably should not always trust Airbnb, and that I need to be more cautious when renting from strangers on the internet. But I have a feeling I’ll risk it again. The properties you can find on that website are just so tempting! And disaster travels always turn out to make the best stories.

The door to our Airbnb that we waited outside of for an hour. I looked so happy upon first arrival. So innocent.

Defend Til’ the End: Lena Dunham

I love Lena Dunham, but for some reason there is a population of people out there who do not. The internet has enjoyed picking on her for years  and today I have decided enough is enough. I don’t love things for no reason. Much thought is put into my obsessions.  So I know why I love Lena Dunham and I completely believe I can defend every argument there is against her.

For those of you that don’t know Lena Dunham the writer, director, producer and an actress for her show Girls on HBO, as well as a writer of a great book titled Not That Kind of Girl, the producer of the podcast Women of the Hour and the creator of many other projects that are too plentiful to list. She is a big target for internet hate but I do not think she deserves any of it. Here’s why.

Argument #1: She is racist/sexist and her show Girls is too. 

The four main characters of Girls are white. Of course it would be cool if there was more diversity on the show. I adore the wit and writing of Girls and if it could reach a wider audience that would make me much happier. But the thing is- she was supposed to write a show loosely based on her Jewish, white-girl life. It’s semi-autobiographical, and that’s just what happened. It probably would have come off as inauthentic to try and tell someone else’s experiences. It’s a shame there aren’t more people of color on the show. But why, why, why is Lena Dunham’s show the show that is attacked for this?

Almost every show on television has a white protagonist-from Game of Thrones to American Horror Story to Mad Men. There are a handful of shows breaking the mold (Empire, Jane the Virgin) but in 2015 there were more than 400 scripted, English-speaking shows on television. These shows may have a sprinkling off POC supporting characters but an overwhelming majority keep the main characters white. It’s a terrible truth that should be changed.

But why is seemingly only Lena attacked for this? No one ever talks about how the main characters of the Big Bang Theory are all white except for one Indian, and the fact of that is the entire joke of his character. Why is Girls always hated on for not being racist or feminist enough?

I’ll tell you why. It’s because she’s a woman. And women can’t make any mistakes. Women account for only 26% of total writers on broadcast TV and 14% of directors. Lena Dunham’s show was high-profile because she was a young woman who was writing, directing and starring in her own show…Something you don’t hear of very often. Woody Allen does that, sure, but you don’t often hear about young women having that much creative direction and control.

When Lena’s show sought to be liberal, free thinking and feminist, people harped on that immediately saying she was doing it all wrong and not enough. I believe it is anti-feminist to scrutinize everything about Girls. I know the only reason people are doing it is because it’s made by a woman. People think, oh this woman thinks she’s doing everything perfectly and writing for her generation. But Lena never said she was perfect or writing for everybody-that’s actually much of the joke in Girls.  I don’t understand why Lena couldn’t create her story and her truth and be treated with respect like every other man in show business.

Discussing representation in television is an important thing to do. But don’t attack Lena Dunham. As Rebecca Traister put perfectly in her article on Lena, “No one should be immune from scrutiny about the narrowness of their vision, but I’m also not sure that a handful of figures—often those who diverge from an oppressively narrow norm in some other threatening way—deserve to shoulder the burden of representative critique while peers and elders get off scott-free.” Don’t hate on Lena Dunham. Don’t ‘hate’ on anybody. But if there is anyone you should nag, how about all of the men in charge of Warner Bros? Or the guys who even pitched the show being about her life? I don’t see it as her fault.

Argument#2: She’s a child-molestor and assaulted her younger sister. 

There is a chapter in Lena Dunham’s collection of essays Not That Kind of Girl about being a sister. In this chapter she recalls when her younger sister Grace was born and the curiosity she held for having a new sibling. She mentions touching her sister’s vagina and trying to peep inside. She was seven years old when that happened.

People were horrified upon reading that part of the book. I hardly batted an eye. I’m not sure if these critics have any siblings but as someone with two younger sisters I found that detail in her memoir relatable and amusing.

I remember my sister and I sharing the toilet when we went to the bathroom, both of us sitting on the seat naked. I remember my sister and I touching our tongues together to see what a tongue felt like. We were basically French kissing. But that’s not what happened. It was a playful,  sweet nothing.

Seven-year-olds can not be held accountable for that kind of behavior. It doesn’t mean anything to a kid. It might be strange for Lena to write about it but Lena is strange. That’s one of the great things about her.

Argument #3: She’s fat and ugly and shouldn’t be showing herself off on TV.

It boggles my mind that people complain about Lena Dunham’s lack of representation on Girls but simultaneously don’t want to see someone without a size zero body on the show. Haters on Lena’s body essentially believe that someone who looks like her doesn’t deserve to be happy, sexual or receive any attention. I hope anyone can realize how terrible that is. Most women have a body like Lena’s. For some reason it’s believable that pudgy Seth Rogen or Adam Sandler land hot chicks in a movie but “impossible” to imagine Lena Dunham’s character having sex with men. If it’s okay for Daenerys of Game of Thrones to have a sex scene on HBO, why not Hannah on Girls? Simply because people are assholes.

On the contrary, I once heard someone say they thought Lena Dunham’s show didn’t do ‘enough’ to show other body types. They said that Lena’s body was just one type and she could have shown people with different shapes. (Part of me thinks they never watched Girls because Jessa, Marnie and Shosh have very different body types). I just scratch my head at that. I don’t think Girls’ subtitle is “a show about you”. I don’t know why some people think this show of all shows is supposed to cover everything. Again, I think this person was over scrutinizing Lena Dunham with backwards feminism.

Argument #4: She’s narcissistic, spoiled and bratty. 

It may be possible that people are confusing Lena for the character she wrote, Hannah. Lena is obviously aware that Hannah is narcissistic, spoiled, and bratty. She created her. And the show is about a person like that realizing real life won’t hand you everything on a platter. I think there’s a little Hannah in all of us, and the realism of Girls is even though Hannah is self-absorbed and clueless most of the time, there are also things about her we like and think are funny. Just like all of your friends. We’re all teetering on the edge of difficult and amusing. That’s the way it is.

I believe she worked incredibly hard and for a long time to get where she is now. She wasn’t a child star who was signed up for an agent by her parents and now has a movie and a record deal. She’s the real thing.

I know nobody is perfect and blindly loving a celebrity I’ve never met makes little sense. But Lena Dunham brings me such joy and I wish other people could put down the hate and enjoy the things she creates too.

Even after all I’ve said you may still not be a Lena Dunham fan. But that’s okay. Don’t watch Girls, don’t listen to her podcast, it’s fine.

If there is any kind of grudge you still hold against Lena, let me know and I will address it.

Stay tuned for next post in which I defend my idol Lana Del Rey and her ‘problematic’ lyrics like “I’m not afraid to say I’d die without him”. I’m so ready.


What It’s Really Like to be an Elite Boston Marathon Runner

He came from over a thousand miles away to go 26.2 more.

When watching the Boston Marathon as an outsider on the sidewalk, the runners that blur past can start to look like super-humans from another world.  It’s almost impossible to believe that the people before you can run 26.2 miles faster than one can drive to the Cape on a Friday afternoon. By the finish line, runners draped in Heat sheets look like gods. These runners cannot be stopped, and possess alien amounts of bravery and skill.

But as it turns out, the people that run and conquer this unfeasible marathon are real, normal people.

Last Monday Chris Dietrich of Eatonton, Georgia finished the 119th Boston Marathon in 2 hours and 52 minutes: a personal record for him, and a time fast enough to include him as one of America’s elite runners.  Dietrich’s time was only 43 minutes behind the marathon winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, with a finish time of 2:09:17.

Runner Chris Dietrich from Georgia  at the finish line- his first time in Boston!
Runner Chris Dietrich from Georgia at the finish line…his first time in Boston!

“Although it was cold, rainy and we were running into headwinds, I still enjoyed the overall experience very much.” Deitrich shared after the race was through. “I’ll definitely be back!”

A rainy day it was. The sky in Boston was overcast all day, and storms of rain came and went. But thousands of people like Dietrich from across the globe had been preparing for this marathon for weeks, months and years, and a rain check was not an option.

Fans watch the marathon  in the Back Bay.
Despite the rain, fans watch the marathon in the Back Bay.

How does one become a mysterious, godlike runner of the Boston Marathon?

“I’ll tell you running can be very mental, you can get a lot of negative thoughts. Keep focusing 1 mile at a time.” Dietrich advises. That can be difficult for any non-runners who could very well vomit at the sight of the number 26.

“Stay hydrated,” He added. “Don’t lose sight of the end and what’s coming. Don’t get lost in the moment— a lot of folks run the whole way in an adrenaline rush, but that can hurt you. By mile 20 or 23 you might hit a wall. Try to enjoy it.”

Dietrich was born and raised in Georgia and lives there today. He ran for his high school team until graduating in 1995, and like many high school athletes he fell out of it once the lockers were cleared out and the last spring season was over. “But around 2007, I started doing small races and 5k’s, and I was hit with a running buzz.” Dietrich says he liked the competitive nature of running, and how healthy it made him feel. That buzz carried him for the next couple of years, and in 2010 his running times started getting shorter and shorter. After a marathon in Savannah, Dietrich qualified for the Boston Marathon.

So fast the runners almost disappear.
Runners almost disappear as they descend under a bridge.

Qualifying and training for the Boston Marathon is no easy feat. Dietrich had been training for twelve weeks, and he recorded the entire process on his own official marathon Facebook page. It was through this page Dietrich was asked to speak about his marathon experience. Every day throughout training Dietrich posted his run lengths and times with supreme dedication. “When you have a family and a full-time job, it takes a lot running 60 to 80 mile weeks.”

Dedicated posts like these were made by Dietrich every day on the Facebook page.
Dedicated posts like these were made by Dietrich every day on the Facebook page.

Though this was Dietrich’s first time coming to Boston, he had still felt connected and affected by the marathon bombing two years ago. Dietrich explained that the running community is a tightly woven one, and the bombings felt like an attack to all runners everywhere. “I was watching it on TV when it happened, and it was all over the news. Running, you see a lot of the same people and make a lot of friends through it…All of my running friends were talking about it, and some of my friends from Macon had gone to Boston to run. We were really scared for them, but none of them were hurt and they were okay,” Dietrich shared. Even all the way south, the panic from the marathon was felt.

This year, security lined every street, and bags had to be checked at stations the closer one got to the finish line. But the event ran smoothly, and no incidents were reported.

“It was a great experience. The community and crowd support from Hopkinton to Boston was like no other race that I’ve been in. The atmosphere was just awesome being surrounded by others who enjoy the sport of running,” said Dietrich. “[Boston] is a nice, historic place to visit. I only wish I could’ve had more time to do more sightseeing.”

Runners finally catch sight of the Citgo sign.
Runners finally catch sight of the Citgo sign.

Dietrich came to Boston with his friend Alan Black, a Master Runner who was also competing in the marathon. On Tuesday, the two returned back home on a flight from Logan Airport to Atlanta. But Dietrich’s brief time in Boston will surely never be forgotten. What is the one memory he will always think of first? “That last turn onto Boylston Street, and seeing the finish line while the crowds were cheering me on!” An unimaginable sight to see.

Get Ready for a Rainy Marathon Monday

Unfortunately, it may be a muddy Marathon Monday.

Boston has finally gotten through the harshest of winters. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Marathon bomber of 2013, is facing the conclusion of his penalty trial. The Red Sox are playing again. But that darn New England weather, unpredictable as it is, might not keep up with the comforting, sunny days of the past week.

Weather reports are predicting rain for Monday, with almost a 100 percent chance of rain. Only time will tell. But those watching the marathon are advised to come prepared. Don’t leave your rain boots, umbrellas and hoodies at home.

There are some things not advised to be brought to the race. It has been asked by marathon officials not to bring bags to the event, and if bags are brought they may be subjected to a search. If one needs to bring a bag, a clear plastic bag will work just fine. Weapons, coolers, glass containers, explosives, large blankets or sleeping bags, face masks, and props are also not allowed at the marathon.

If you’re looking to catch a particular runner at the marathon, the Boston Athletic Association has made it easy. There is now an app to track any runner’s progress during the race. It also helps to be at the right place at the right time. The mobility impaired participants start at 8:50 am, followed by the push rim wheelchair division at 9:17, and the hand cycle participant start at 9:22. Elite women’s start is at 9:32, and the Elite Men and Wave One begin at 10:00. Wave 2, 3, and 4 follow at 10:25, 11:00, and 11:25 subsequently. The first runners should cross the finish line around 11 am, so if you’re looking to see the winners, make sure it’s not a sleep-in-til-noon Patriot’s Day.

What Should Happen to the Boston Bomber?

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been found guilty on all accounts for the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Now, on April 21, the penalty phase of his trial will determine whether or not Tsarnaev should face the death penalty.

There is no way to know what will happen until the trial is over. But what does the Boston community feel should happen to the man who terrorized their city?

In a poll of 50 people on the Emmanuel College campus taken by journalism students on Friday morning, 17 people believed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be sentenced to death while 32 people felt he should live a life in prison. One person was not sure of what the Boston Bomber’s fate should be.

“If you don’t kill someone for what he did in this country, then what kind of example does that set?” Asked David, who works in the post office on the Emmanuel College campus. David was one of the 17 polled who all agreed Tsarnaev should be sentenced to death.

But those in favor of the death penalty were strongly outnumbered by those opposed to it. “I don’t know, I don’t really like the death penalty! If anyone should get it it should be him, but I don’t like the idea of it. I think people should just go to jail for life instead,” stated Kristen, a 19 year old student.

Brittany, a sophomore at Emmanuel, had similar ideas. “He should definitely not have the death penalty. Killing people…no.”

Surprisingly, it has been found that citizens of Boston are more likely to oppose the death penalty for Tsarnaev than the rest of the U.S. In an April 10 Huffington post article, it was discovered through several polls that only 27 percent of Bostonians believe Tsarnaev should face the death penalty, compared to 47 percent at a national level. This may partly have to do with Massachusetts’ Democratic majority, giving that Democrats are generally not in favor of capital punishment. But it is still interesting to see that giving the harm happened in Boston, less people in Boston want to see him lose his life.

Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, but as this is a federal case, capital punishment applies. Only time will tell what will happen to the Boston bomber. The day after the 119th Boston Marathon, the penalty trial will begin.

Five Questions With A Guy Out for a Smoke


Standing by a couple of girls on a park bench on The Fenway, I came across this lad out for a smoke.

What’s your name?


Where are you from?

A town by the river in Connecticut. Unless you’re from Connecticut you wouldn’t know what it is.

You’re a student? What year are you?

Yeah at Emmanuel-I’m a freshman.

What are you studying? 


A lot of my friends and people I know think religion is obsolete today because of science. What do you think of that? 

It’s not true at all. Science and religion can coexist- both ask different questions.

MassLive Journalist Lindsay Corcoran Has Seen It All

Wednesday- MassLive journalist Lindsay Corcoran spoke to an 8 am class of journalism students at Emmanuel College about how she graduated in the midst of the recession and still snagged a job right away.

After a short set-back from a fire drill in the building, Corcoran told the class about her journey from student to full fledged journalist. She studied in D.C. where she interned for a small blog, and after graduation she returned to Massachusetts. She started looking for jobs, which in 2009 “was a challenging time to be looking for a job… and I don’t think it’s gotten easier for recent graduates”, she said.

But Corcoran had an impressive resume, one that included covering White House press briefings, and started working at the MetroWest Daily news that very May of graduation. She has since worked at the Daily Voice, the Milford Daily News, and now she finds herself at

At MassLive on a staff of three people, Corcoran has covered some insane and horrifying stories.

She was one of the writers to cover the “House of Horrors” story in Blackstone, Mass in which a house in complete squalor was discovered to hold the remains of three infants and multiple animal carcasses inside. The family living there had several living children who were neglected and caused the initial suspicion of police. It sounds like something out of American Horror Story, but it was a very real incident that Corcoran covered right from the location.

What other horrors has Corcoran encountered on the job? Cannibalism, for one thing. She was once covering a murder story about a woman who had been killed by her husband. It was noted that part of the woman’s arm was missing, and it turned out that the man had actually been eating her flesh. “People asked me if I had ever seen anything like that before…of course not!” she said.

Though the stories have been crazy, Corcoran loves her work as a reporter. She finds that today she thrives online as a journalist. After working initially online, she tried to switch over to print, the more classic type of reporting. But to her surprise she found she disliked that form, and has returned online. “Online articles have to be written to be a little more digestible, but just as good quality,” she shared. As many say, the future of journalism truly lies on the Internet.

To Dorm or Not to Dorm? Emmanuel’s Question

Why do so many Emmanuel College students look to live off campus?

“It sucks,” stated Madison Healey, a 19 year old student at Emmanuel.

“It’s very unfair,” agreed her friend Amy Hurst, also a sophomore at the college.

Healey and Hurst are not the only Boston college students who desire to live off campus. 26% of the 136,000 college students in the city live off campus. This number excludes the 8,000 students on co-op at Northeastern University.

It’s not merely that dorm living is too expensive or strict for students’ liking, as Healey bluntly put. At most schools there is just no room for all of the students. There are 454 students enrolled at Emmanuel that there is no room for in the dorms. But that’s a generous number compared to the dorming gap at other nearby colleges and universities. According to the US Department of Education, there are 13,505 students who cannot fit inside Boston University housing. Northeastern University doesn’t have room for 10,654 of their students, and 5,738 have no guaranteed housing at Suffolk University.  Very few of the Boston schools actually have room for their student body.

Inevitably, this means that many students have to look to live in off campus apartments. But are the living conditions in these apartments always safe? In recent years, city officials have been trying to tackle the massive problem of student housing in this city. Landlords know that students are vulnerable clients, and often take advantage of their wallets. It’s almost impossible to find actually affordable rent in Boston. Students are crammed into spaces not large enough for them, creating incredibly hazardous conditions. Rats, bed bugs, broken appliances, wonky heating systems, and un-lockable doors are found in apartments all over neighborhoods like Allston, Mission Hill, and Brighton. But often times nothing is done about this.

Elias Baker is a 21 year old sharing a three story house with sixteen other young adults in Jamaica Plain.  When asked if his apartment had ever been inspected, he swiftly answered no. “It’s a non-legal operation so he likes cash…It’s not zoned to be apartment building.” Baker explained. He pointed up at the ceiling to a dangling fire detector.

Most students at Emmanuel recognize that on campus living is very safe. “I do feel it is very safe on campus, I will give them that,” said Hurst. As a gated community with a desk worker at every entrance and an ID required to open doors, it is hard to imagine many dangers occurring at Emmanuel College. But for a lot students, this security often feels smothering.

“I feel like you have no privacy when you live in the dorms,” said sophomore Brittany Aubuchon. “Like when I lived in Loretto, they would ask to search my bag even on nights I was just coming back from the library.”

Aubuchon and Hurst say they will probably still live in the dorms next year, but Healey wants out. “I am planning to move off campus. I want my own space, and I want more freedom…I feel like there’s a lot of reasons,” she explained. “I feel like I got the experience, and that was cool, but now I’m tired of it. It’s like a step towards being an adult.”

Many do leap at the chance to feel like a ‘real adult’ in this city, with a cool apartment to do whatever they please in. But for some, being a college kid in the dorms is fun and fine for them. Hopefully for those happy students, their school has room for them.

From Fenway to Fashion Magazines: Meet Writer and Producer Blair Waters

The movie Almost Famous very well may be what brought writer and video producer Blair Waters to where she is today. As they say, life imitates art.

“I was seeking out to be a writer. When I was 12 I saw Almost Famous and I decided that that was gonna be my life. I wanted to be a music writer,” Waters shared.

Today, she is a freelance writer and music video director, but before that she was a writer and executive director at Nylon Magazine for almost three years. Before that gig, she was an intern for Rolling Stone magazine exactly like Almost Famous.

Waters lives in Brooklyn where she writes and has thrived in the magazine and music world.  But she has been all over the map. “I grew up on the Virgin Islands, not aware of anything outside it. When I came to the U.S I went to Borders and I just looked at all the music magazines and I wrote to all of them asking to review, not telling them I was in 8th grade.” Magazines like Punk Planet unknowingly had a middle-schooler, young Blair Waters, writing music reviews from them.

Waters wrote throughout her adolescence, but then “went to art school and fell out of it”. This art school was MassArt, one of the Colleges of the Fenway. At MassArt she received a bachelor’s degree in a program she described as a “really weird program… an experimental major there. There was a lot involved with electronics and video but there were also people dressed up like trashcans.” After graduation and the trashcan costumes were set aside, she made her way to New York as a reporter for Nylon.

At Nylon, Waters originally was involved with Nylon TV and making the videos for the magazine’s website. One day something needed to be written up about a band, and she had had lots of music writing experience, so the job was hers. From there, she wrote impressive pieces such as “Weird, Wild U.S.A” that described quirky places found across the continent, and interviewed household names such as Iggy Azalea.

Nowadays, Waters is still writing but mostly focusing on producing music videos. Currently she is trying to track down ten elderly people to twerk to a remix of a Notorious B.I.G. song.

“I’m really excited about music videos, but I also really want to do long form music writing,” She shared. “Journalism is getting scary. It’s all listicals. You don’t write your own thing anymore, you just rewrite things people have already written. So I’m looking to do that.”

In a world of Buzzfeed-type listicals that only get as deep as “top ten” lists, it can look pretty scary out there for aspiring journalists. So Waters advises that one of the most important things to do in being a writer is to keep your voice.  “Don’t be afraid to write things for anyone! But also make sure you still write for yourself, and keep your own style. Or else you won’t stand out to anyone.”

And if anyone knows anything about standing out in a crowd, it must come from a girl who chased after magazines as a kid and found her life just like the movies.

No One In New England Could Stop Talking About the Blizzard

Monday afternoon in Boston the snow started and didn’t stop. After 24.4 inches of snowfall, Bostonians are still trucking through slush and snow banks to get on with their lives that for many were put on halt for a couple of days.

The T was disabled, dark business windows lined every street, and even the popular cab service Uber was not operating. If you wanted to get anywhere in Boston, one had to form their own sidewalks through hills of snow with their boots.  And to stay indoors was no way to avoid the storm. Blizzard Juno was talked about on all platforms from the news to Snapchat to Twitter memes.

Some Bostonians think most overreacted to the storm. “It was appropriate for them to close down public transportation and roads but people didn’t need to freak out,” Said Amruta Hosur, a 20 year old resident of Brighton.  “It’s not the apocalypse,”

Her roommate Leah agreed that media coverage was over-the-top. “That thing on Snapchat was kind of weird. Like some people in New York were only talking about three inches. It was no big deal.” She said in regards to Snapchat’s ‘live stream’ of the blizzard, in which users of the app could watch people’s live experiences of the snow.

“New York was such a joke,” Agreed Stacy Chen, a sophomore at Emmanuel College. Town to town and state to state folks everywhere competed to boast who had the most snow. But who had the most?

As it turns out, Auburn, Lunenburg, Hudson and Westford Massachusetts reached the highest piles of snow in three feet.  Boston attained a whole foot less than that. Still, the city was completely blanketed in what has been called the greatest January snow in 123 years. “I couldn’t see the Pru from my window anymore. I was like, where am I living?” Chen shared.

The view of the Prudential Building has returned, and our sidewalks are coming back. But at least for a while before it all melts, the piles of white atop our city will remind us of the chaotic and sometimes fun memories these snow days created.

‘Baby’ No More: Canada’s Sweetheart Justin Bieber Arrested in Miami

The officer called for the speeding car to pull over. Finally it did. He walked over to the tinted window, and it rolled down to reveal the face of teen singer and heartthrob Justin Bieber.

On January 23rd 2013, Miami Officer Medina responded to a call reporting two Lamborghinis racing each other thirty miles above the speed limit. When the vehicles were finally stopped, pop singer Justin Bieber was found to be one of the drivers responsible for the irresponsible driving. The officer immediately recognized a stench of alcohol on Bieber, and after he failed to cooperate with the officer, Bieber was arrested. He was brought to the Miami Beach Police Department where he was failed a sobriety test and was charged of a DUI.

The red and yellow Lamborghinis involved in Bieber’s drag racing had two black SUV’s trailing behind them to halt traffic from going northbound. The yellow car, Bieber’s, did not stop right away. When asked to park his car, Bieber responded, “Why did you stop me?” He continued to respond to the officer incredulously, saying, “Why the fuck are you doing this?”, “What the fuck did I do? Why did you stop me?” and “What the fuck is this about?”

To Justin Bieber and all of his fans’ surprise, he was guilty of drag racing, drinking under the influence, and using an expired Georgia drivers license.

Officer Medina experienced much difficulty getting Bieber to comply gracefully in his arrest. He continued to reach into his pants pockets, and initially resisted placing his hands on the vehicle. He finally did for a moment, until he let go to turn and face the officer. After repeatedly being told to place his hands down on the vehicle, Bieber did not follow directions, and was promptly informed he was under arrest. Bieber attempted to resist this, pulling away from the officer, but was ultimately brought to the station.

Despite bloodshot eyes, a flushed face and a stench of alcohol, Bieber claimed to have been sober and returning from a recording studio. After a breath test was taken, his blood alcohol levels were not found to standard. At Bieber’s age of 19 ,any amount of alcohol in his system is illegal.

In Bieber’s mugshot, he is all smiles as if posing with fan .Bieber has a largely young fanbase, and it is curious as to what will happen with his following after this arrest. Will his admirers support him despite bad behavior and embrace this as a part of him growing up? Or can even his biggest fans recognize that this was foolish behavior? We will have to stay tuned on the comments board.

The Face Behind

My name is Kelly Anderson, and there’s no funny story or fact about that name so we’ll just move on to the next piece of information. I grew up in the suburbs of Massachusetts, which often inspired elementary school field trips to places such as writer Louisa May Alcott’s house or the cabin of writer Henry David Thoreau. These trips most likely fueled my already-sparking desire to become a writer, which entailed living a romantic life surrounded by books and fall foliage in a pea coat. Today at the age of 20, I am a proud owner of two pea coats, taking a journalism class in college and currently writing a post about a person who talks a lot about writing: me.

I knew I wanted to become a writer in the first grade. In Mrs. Larivee’s class, she had her students from last year come in and show us the books they had all written. The teacher had laminated and bound all of the students’ books, so they were sleek and ‘professional’ looking. I watched second-grader Joey read his first person narrative about a pumpkin baked into pie with complete, sinking awe. The heavens practically opened above me, and I heard a voice that said: Look! This kid just wrote an amazing story! He made it up! Doesn’t that look so beautiful? 

From there I didn’t stop. I wrote stories about my dog, a tree that grew Skittles, a haunted camp, a witch, etc. As I got older, I wrote longer stories slanted on lined paper and eventually on a 1999 computer. I stayed up nights and mornings writing these stories that very few people have seen.

I am interested in journalism because writing as a profession is the one of the only things that makes sense to me. I never wanted to do anything but write, except for a half hour in the fourth grade when I regretted not writing “soccer player” as my dream job in the school yearbook. Young Kelly did not know years later she would not even try out for the high school team.

Entertainment and fashion take up major chunks of the pie-graph of my brain, so writing for those particular subjects would make me scream. I read the reviews of Entertainment Weekly as if taking the word from some of my good friends. To write for a magazine or journal about entertainment, events, or fashion would be more than divine. Those heavens just might open up a second time.

The Perks of Being Nostalgic

When my great gaggle of friends and I were seniors in high school, we became obsessed with the book and film The Perks of Being a Wallflower. We felt like we related to that group of misfit high schoolers- a mix of guys and girls with crushes and dreams and that all-too-familiar youthful desperateness to keep things as they are and grow up at the same time. The kids in the movie talk about feeling “infinite”, and we felt that way too. Best friends forever, out of reach from all things serious. We rode around in a jeep with the top down, screaming, and in that moment I swear we were in that movie. We all felt that way.

A year later, a year after we all moved to separate colleges and left just like the end of Perks, things are not the same. Most of us are still best friends, and most of us have even grown closer than ever before. But things are not the same. Infinity did not last. Everyone is busy with jobs, some friends have disappeared, and none of it stayed completely in tact. And unlike seemingly everyone around me, I cannot deal with the fact that friendships and life and situations just don’t stay the same. I can’t stop myself from looking at photographs from summers before and falling under a wave of nostalgia. It’s never going to be like that again. It’s over. The group, the car rides, the freedom from responsibilities, everything there, it’s gone.

The other night, when these feelings intensified, I started re-watching clips of  the Perks of Being a Wallflower and re-reading excerpts, thinking about how much me and my friends related to, looked up to and wanted to be like that group of friends. But you know the sad thing? Even that “infinite” group of people would not have lasted forever. Maybe some of them would be in touch forever. But Charlie and Bob, Charlie and Mary Elizabeth? Still hanging out when they’re thirty five? No. The group would have split up, not necessarily in a dramatic I-hate-you-way, but they would have scattered around the globe and started their own stories. It makes me sad. Maybe they’d see each other once in a while, send Christmas cards and talk on the phone. But they wouldn’t be like that island of misfit toys ever again.

Now, I didn’t love high school. Most of the time I put my fingers in pistol-formation up to my head as I sat down in class. A lot of times I felt really out of place and awkward, unlike college here in the city where I feel at bliss below all the buildings. But I get what people mean when they say there’s no time like high school. There really isn’t. I don’t mean it’s the best time, but it is definitely a particular time. No friends know you like those ones did, in the boring days, in the wholesome days.

“I wish I wasn’t so nostalgic and sentimental” I say sometimes to new friends and old. I really do. I grow pretty miserable over how things change, like a slow motion panic. It’s not a nice way to feel. “No,” the response always is. “It’s a good thing!” I can see why they say that. It’s important to remember, to hold on to details, especially for a writer or artist or person of the likes. It’s nice to move forward and look to the future, but it’s not cool to act like you don’t care about anything. To care, though it can be painful, is a lovely thing to do.

But why? Just like how nobody ever says what the actual perks of being a wallflower are, nobody knows what the perks of being nostalgic are either. But people like nostalgic people, in the same way that a wallflower could never be hated. People like to be noticed and remembered. We all feel a little hurt when others don’t care. To meet someone deeply nostalgic and feeling is heartwarming, and though we may take those sentimental at heart for granted, we’re always happy they’re there. I know that whenever someone tells me they remember a story from third grade, or that they miss seeing me after school, I realize I’m not the only person who sometimes dwells on things long gone. If you ever feel this way too, it’s okay. Though the movie ends and things change, and though life always goes on, to miss the way it was isn’t a bad thing. It just means it mattered. So pin those old photographs up, feel good about the good times they were. But after, go out and feel infinite again. Because even in the movie, he says it more than once.

Millennials- Can We All Just Agree Not to be Sucky Parents?

“You know, when I was a kid…”
Stop. We all know that drawling line that’s been tossed out of our parents’ mouths many times. No matter what age you are, you know your parents discussed their youth and generation to a pedestal point. Every preceding generation is superior to the following- that’s just the rules of the world. As a member of the ridiculous generation Y, I know we are not a perfect bunch. I will try not to lament on my youth when I grow older as if we owned the world and did beautiful things with it. But I will say, I am worried for the children of tomorrow. Deeply.
What does childhood even mean anymore in an indoor world of iPads? What will our kids see when they look back on their early days? Bright white screens and over-supervision? I refuse to let that happen.
Generation Y, I’m calling you all to band together and agree that (if) and when we all have children, we won’t be awful parents. Let’s give our kids a childhood to brag and laugh about. Let’s give them a 1960’s childhood like our parents had. Let’s let them run off with their friends until sunset scuffing bare feet in the dirt, getting bruises on the playground, imagining worlds inside cardboard boxes. Let’s let them get into a little mischief, let’s let them be curious and maneuver their little planet independently. Let’s let them hang out with the neighborhood kids every day- no planned play-date needed- and circle around the streets on bikes with them. Let’s let them eat Oreos if they God-forbid want to, as long as they don’t lounge around scrolling through the Internet all day.  Let’s not give our little kids these awful imagination killers-phones and video games and laptops. Let’s give them experiences and memories. Let’s give them a life they can tell stories about.
I’ve never had a child, so I’m sure I sound foolish. But I hope someday I don’t let my kids waste their childhood away indoors watching other people do and be on screens. I know it’s probably scary and difficult to allow kids be wild and explore. But we only get one childhood. You might get seventy or so years to do whatever you want as an adult- work any job, live anywhere, date anyone. But you only get a decade or so to be completely silly, immature, imaginative, free and innocent. You can never return to childhood. Let’s give our kids a time that they’d want to return to.

Feminism Needs to Get It’s Sh*t Together

I’m all for equality. Everybody should be for it, just as simply as everyone shouldn’t eat post-it notes and should flush the toilet after filling it. Equality is such a basic concept- obviously everyone should be respected and treated fairly, no matter their gender. Now, if you’ve lived on planet Earth for a while, you may have noticed that one of the two genders has had trouble all over the world being respected, taken seriously, appreciated, and given the same opportunities as the other. Thus, feminism was born, and what a great movement it is. We females have banded together hand-in-hand, fighting for the right to vote, right to fair pay, right to walk the streets without being harassed for showing some leg. We girls need each other, because in a man’s world it’s not always a wonderful one.

But lately, I can’t help but wonder: what is going on in feminism? What is the real mission and aim today? I see people who consider themselves feminists on completely opposing sides to others who also consider themselves feminists, regarding how women should behave and be seen. One woman might proclaim that those who cover their bodies completely and live quietly at home to raise their children are ‘anti-feminist’. Girls who only love  their husband and just want to be housewives are ‘offensive’ to the female population. But at the same time, on the other end of the pendulum, women who wear next-to-nothing, sleep around, and live wild single lives are also ‘anti-feminists’. “They’re objectifying their bodies! Men have turned them into sexual objects! It’s offensive!” Oh really?

So who isn’t offensive? A woman who lives in between- has a career and a family, is sexually free but also conservative?  That’s a pretty specific slice of the pie that is feminist. Here’s an idea. How about women stop telling other women what to do? Because to me, that seems anti-feminist. Men have been telling women how to act for the entire history of mankind. Why are women doing it too? Why do some women think pop stars that dance in leotards empower them, and some think those same stars oppress them? Why are we even considering this? No one frets over Justin Timberlake being a bad role model, or embodying a sexual objectification. So why can’t we just let it all be? The less attention we give it, the less of an idea it really is.

I propose we all just live our lives, and expect we’ll be respectful, treated fairly, and not worry about what people are doing and how their gender affects these behaviors.

The Best Movie Trailers of All Time

Sometimes  film trailers are better than actual films. Sure, the endings are (usually-hopefully) left out, but endings are notoriously the worst part of movies anyway. Try and count how many times have you emerged from a dark theater sighing to a friend, “I really liked it, but the end…” It’s impossible. In trailers,  it’s all hype, excitement, and quick-moving clips to well-fitting songs. Like a first date, the montage of a trailer leaves you buzzing with wonder. The editing is so smart, nothing ever looks boring, disappointing or at all underwhelming. For many people, including myself, seeing the trailers before a feature film is the best part of a movie experience. Some trailers are better than others. Here are five I think are the best. Watch them- feel the feelings.

The Social Network (2010): . This trailer somehow made me feel weepy and beautiful over a website. It made me feel lovely to be a part of the 21st century, and for almost three minutes feel proud to be a part of a website that turned a generation into narcissists and cyber-bullies. Though most of the story is seen through characters talking and bickering with one another, this trailer somehow makes computer geeks arguing over Facebook thrilling. The chillingly beautiful choral cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” is the hot fudge of the sundae. What a trailer.

the Hunger Games (2012): I remember the first time I watched this trailer, I got actual chills up my skin by the end of it. Now, after not watching it for two years, I re-watched it and felt the same. Obviously I wasn’t the only person taken with this trailer, as the movie grossed outrageously. The exclusion of footage from the actual Hunger Games was genius, and the count-down is exactly the kind of excitement a good trailer demonstrates.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005): This teaser trailer was so epic, it really should have been reserved for the last Potter film. I was a fifth-grade fanatic about the series when this trailer came out, and I’m pretty sure I absolutely lost my shit seeing the wizards grow up in a matter of seconds before my eyes. I probably slumped off of my chair, stupefied by the moving images I had just witnessed. Bravo, bravo.

The Great Gatsby (2013): The Gatsby trailer dazzled me. The snippet of the two flapper girls dancing up at us to Jay-Z was one I couldn’t shake out of my head. Pink-suited Leonardo DiCaprio screaming silently, cars crashing, fireworks, softly spoken quotes that my English teacher introduced me to.I had to see that movie. The trailer was sleek, tasteful and a little over the top, but isn’t that what a trailer is supposed to be? Not bad, old sport.

Inception (2010): As far as action movies go, I don’t think you can beat Inception’s trailer. The spiccato strings intercepted by intense blasts of bass played instilled an artful  intensity.  Alongside visuals of a bizarre wonderland, the trailer creates an image not usually seen in an overdone genre of movies. It all actually looks as strange as dreams do, and I know when I saw this trailer, I was hooked.

Disclaimer: All of these trailers are fairly recent, and that is not out of disrespect to older films. I just believe (and I don’t think I’m alone here) that most movie trailers before 2000 come off as educational documentaries one might have seen on a projector in their CCD class as a child. Just my opinion.

How Many Websites Does One Person Need?

Why I’m Starting A Blog

Seriously, how represented does a human being need to be on the Internet these days? First merely having  a Facebook page was a scandalous time-waster for puberty-aged moi. Now Twitter, Tumblr and Snapchat sign-ups later, I feel like I’ve sold my soul to the WWW. I don’t even have a damn Instagram, and I think I could make myself sick if I thought about my web presence long enough.

So why am I here? Why start a blog? Just go away, you’re probably thinking. Hey. Hear me out. I’m currently in school for English. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Writing is really the only constant thing I’ve ever loved. I know it’s not translatable into coins like nursing or business is. But I had hopes I could find myself at a magazine, newspaper, publishing house, or somewhere awfully creative as such. I knew it was a risky business, but I felt okay.

Yes, I felt okay, until I met the faceless jackass English major at an apartment party a month ago. Gripping a beer, in a crowded kitchen among shouting shots-downing college kids, he asked me what I was studying. I told him. He crinkled his face up like the newspapers he was about to insult, and told me essentially I have no hope. He told me he was in sales now, his friend was making no money, scary story after scary story. Then he perched an eyebrow upwards and asked, “Do you have a blog?” Er…no. “You gotta make a blog. That’s the one thing you gotta do. You gotta make a blog.”

Alas, Here I am. I made a blog. I struggled for a couple days to sculpt up my blog’s identity. I will more or less be writing whatever the hell I please, but I needed a name, a theme. Then wow came to me.

The phrase ‘oh wow’ is a favorite of mine, which I stole from the British television character Cassie Ainsworth of Skins. On the show, Cassie said “oh wow” to everything- good things, bad things, anything. She may say, “Oh wow, lovely” or “Oh wow, fuck you”-there are really no limits. Although it may sound ditsy and bizarre to drop wow so often in one’s vocabulary, I admire Cassie’s catchphrase as a way of living. She takes in every piece of life with astonishment and wonder. She revels at all parts of existence, noticing it all. I aspire to be more like that. This blog will be like that. I will write about the world with ‘wow’. And perhaps, by chance, someone out there will read something by me and feel ‘wow’ about it. And wouldn’t that be great?

I don’t know who will read this, or if anyone will care. But I’ll be doing my modern day, Internet Age duty as a writer by loyally keeping a blog, no matter how unnoticed it goes. Wow.