Author Archives: ashleyposimato

By Ashley Posimato

IDOL MATH:

One Kara Dioguardi + 38 “That was the BOMB dawg”’s – 50% of Paula Abdul’s competence x 1 infamously honest “absolutely dreadful” Simon Cowell =  American Idol Season 8, a showcase of quite possibly most talented selection of contestants yet.

From Kelly Clarkson to Carrie Underwood to Adam Lambert (unless Bill O’Reilly has anything to say about it), American Idol has continued to impress its audience, “debuting January 14, 2009, as the number one show on television,” according to Nielsen.

Photo by: David Kiely BusinessWeek

Photo by: David Kiely BusinessWeek

Photo by: idolmania.com

Photo by: idolmania.com

But as the amateur competition grows stronger, the professional entertainment that recently consumes the results shows, leaves a lot to be desired –and after Paula’s performance Thursday night– a lot to be understood.

The first guest-entertainer that failed to upstage the Idol hopefuls, spent the majority of his performance suggesting we “blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol.”  But after that disappointing performance, Jamie Foxx has no one to blame but himself.

Foxx appeared on American Idol to mentor the top 5 finalists as they prepared to take on songs from The Rat Pack.

“I have got to say a special thank you to Jamie Foxx because what Jamie’s brought out, particularly in you, tonight is incredible,” Cowell said to Danny Gokey, a Season 8 favorite.

Foxx showed he had the advice to produce a winning performance, but when his turn came to practice what he preached, winning turned to loosing and Jamie couldn’t seem to accurately place the blame — it clearly was not the alcohol.

In the future Mr. Foxx — take the responsibility, along with your own advice.  After all, at least your advice is coherent.

Paula Abdul (especially after Thursday night’s performance) on the other hand, may not have the same convenience.

Over the last few seasons Abdul has accrued a reputation for her inability to articulate nearly everything she attempts to say.
So if the woman can’t get her words straight, who made the determination that she could walk straight, and furthermore dance straight?

Paula Abdul stumbled around the stage Thursday night, lip-synching a version of her new song that didn’t only sound non-Paula, it sounded non-human.

So unless Jamie Foxx gave her some of the alcohol he attributed to his bad performance, Abdul’s uncomfortable number did nothing but verify that after 8 seasons of competition — the singing should be left to the contestants.

CURRENT CALCULATION:

Hollywood may house celebrities, Britain may have talent, but America (by the measure of this year’s top three Adam, Danny, and Kris) has more!…as long as the professionals stay out of it.

Here Comes the Sun! Now Where are the Jobs?

By Ashley Posimato

The powerful rays of the almost-summer sun reflect beautifully off the Hudson River, over the campus’s most popular lawn– infested with students satisfying their desires in the form of a blanket and a book or a frisbee and a football– and into the daunting library windows where you sit.  Sweat pours down your face as result of both the heat of the wall-length, fully lit window, and the quickly approaching deadlines and finals that at one time seemed intangibly distant. You stare mindlessly at textbook in front of you and although the words on the page are vehicles driving down a one-way street to the world of academia, the meaning you derive from them seems to look very different.

A grass hut creating the only shade on your exclusive caribbean getaway?  A brand new expensive pair of sunglass to boast confidently as you walk along the shore?

Photo By: Kuartos.com

Photo By: Kuartos.com

Or a jobless, fruitless summer vacation, because school is almost out, your almost broke, and the chances of scoring a job as a welcome home gift are slim– especially this year.

Erin Hanlon, current junior at Marist College, has very mixed feelings about the closing of the school year.

“I mean I’m extremely excited for summer, to see my friends and my family,”  Hanlon said, “But there’s almost nothing special to look forward to, at least not until I find a job.”

The likelihood of find a job immediately after returning home is especially discouraging this season.

Joe Conti, general manager of IHOP in West Babylon, New York, is already feeling the pressure of all the college kids returning from school.

“Some of these kids have worked here for four and five summers,” Conti said, “I have a strong loyalty to them but I only have so much to work with this year.”

As a franchise restaurant, there are constant requirements and limitations, including number of staff, that vary according to profit, and that each location must adhere to.

“I would love to take everyone back this summer, but I just laid off two servers and a cook,” Conti said, “I can’t give shifts to my college returners, after just taking them away from some full-time staffers.”

The willingness of companies to consider applicants, especially with the huge numbers being received, is declining quickly.  At Marist’s recent Spring Career and Internship fair, students found that even as prospective interns, expected to work for free, they were experiencing equal difficulty securing positions.  With jobs, and internship opportunities similarly scarce, it has become increasingly deterring for students looking for work.

Kristen Kapral, junior at Marist College,  said that the shift of her main concerns is represented by her internet searches.

“This time of year I used to be on travel agent sites […] planning my summer vacation,” Kapral said. “But after having no success at the career fair, all I have been doing is searching internship engines, and job openings.”

The days of summer splurges seem to be irrelevant this season as students trade in their urges to travel and their well-deserved designer sunglasses, for human resources contacts and any possibility to attend an open-call interview.

“If I don’t get a job or an internship my mom is going to bug me to hangout with her everyday, Kapral said.  “Either way it’s going to be one heck of a summer.”

In The Face of Adversity…String Together

By Ashley Posimato

A half-empty Starbucks “Venti Soy Misto” rests on the corner of a nearly indiscernible coffee table, one covered with beads–every color of the rainbow– some strung together, some standing alone, but all serving a very specific purpose, existing as symbols of life, compassion and entitlement.

Erika Giannelli kneels at the edge of the table, relaxed and at ease, thoughtfully crafting each accessory, and although her Starbucks signature drink looks halfway finished, she sees it as being still halfway full.

Photo by Erika Giannelli

Photo by Erika Giannelli

Giannelli, a 21-year-old junior at Marist College and entrepreneur of her personal foundation Freedom Beads, currently enjoys a constant positive outlook on life, but attributes a very painful and burdensome past for paving the road that got her here.

“Living with an eating disorder is absolute hell,” Giannelli said, “but I honestly have no regrets.”

Giannelli is a long-time sufferer of Anorexia, and similar to anyone plagued with an eating disorder, fights an on-going battle and is challenged everyday.

“Two years ago I attended The Renfrew Center, a residential Eating Disorder Treatment Center in Philadelphia. I was three years into my battle with Anorexia [then], and needed more intensive treatment,” she said.

But Giannelli learned–the hard way– that needing  help, and actually receiving it, were two very separate concepts.

“My insurance company only granted me 14 days at Renfrew,” she said. “[They] dropped me on a Thursday, and my dad had to come and pick me up THAT NIGHT all the way from Connecticut, or else we’d have to pay the $1200 it costs to stay there for one day.”

Giannelli explained that her premature departure from the treatment center left her feeling lost, confused and abandoned.  And now as she knelt at the table, she stared deeply into the beads that she was meticulously assembling.

“I wish I could say my situation was unique, but it’s not at all,” she said. “One of the girls I was admitted with was dropped after only one week, and she had been suffering with bulimia for several years.”

And so the reoccurring neglect fueled her motivation and inspired her to take action.

“As years passed, I learned of more and more stories like mine,” she said.  “I knew I wanted to take a stand against insurance companies, but also for the rights of women needing treatment.”

The beads scattered over the table carry the message that every patient deserves treatment.  They are Giannelli’s tiny vehicles of hope and progression.

“I started Freedom Beads this past summer, in 2008,” she said. “I started with about 15 bracelets…now I’ve made hundreds, which are selling like crazy!”

All of the money that the jewelry makes goes directly into a private fund she set up at The Renfrew Center.  When enough money accumulates (she has so far raised $1,700) it will be donated to pay for the treatment of one woman requiring treatment extension.

“This is my small but powerful way of saying, ‘You deserve to be heard, you deserve support, you deserve freedom.'” Giannelli said.

Through her own battle with Anorexia, Giannelli has managed to commendably fight for the rights of others, establish a worthy cause and move it forward, and embark on a personal journey of self-discovery.

“I think one of the most important things I’ve learned, is the practice of self-love and self-acceptance.

“It can be harder than we think[…] but it’s the most freeing, beautiful, and important gift we can give ourselves.”

Think Simple, Think Frequent, Think Stimulus… Sounds Like a Plan

By Ashley Posimato

With the financial crisis that the country is currently facing, the idea of a completely enclosed booth with a fan bottom, carelessly blowing $2,000 at full speed, while an overzealous contestant tries to hold on to as much as he or she can, may not seem like the best plan for progression.

Or it may be just the right remedy to turn the economy around.

In response to both overwhelming number of Americans in financial trouble, and President Obama’s recent stimulus plan, Ellen DeGeneres has recently implemented her own version of a “stimulus package” on her daytime television show.  The plan is executed by first locating the person in need of specific help, then surprising them with the miracle they have been waiting for — a $5,000 gift card, a year supply of gas, a brand new car, or the Gold Digger booth (the air tight money blower).

Although the offerings that Ellen provides are capable of changing lives, the extravagance of the gifts is not nearly as significant as the intention behind it; which is proven by the consistent conclusion of the daily segment where Ellen asks us to also give whenever we can. And people are responding.

Marissa Sparagano, junior at St. John’s University, believes that giving to those in need should be an integral part of our lives.

“Doing community service and giving to charities is the best form of gratification,” Sparagano said. “This year I’m doing the MS walk with some of my friends to support the victims of Multiple Sclerosis.”

Last year's Relay For Life at Marist

Last year's Relay for Life at Marist

Charity walks are a very popular and effective fundraiser, which makes them easy to locate and participate in.

“I have been doing Relay for Life every year since I was a freshman,” said Christine Younkin, currently a senior at Marist College. “It’s always great to see how many tents are set up and how many people devote their entire weekend to the event.”

Relay for Life takes place every spring on the Marist’s campus’s main lawn.  Participants register for a fee, raise as much money as they can, and stay up all night in teams, supporting one another to keep walking to fight cancer.

“It gets really emotional as the night goes on,” Younkin said, “but just remembering what the cause is for makes it easier to get through.”

Although charities are both important and impacting, they are not the only way to contribute to society. Simple acts of kindness, on a daily basis can be just as effective.

Kasey Nagle, student-athlete at Marist College just recently realized how important it is to recognize every opportunity, no matter how minimal, to help out.

“I used to try to haggle with the cab drivers to try and get the best deal,” Nagle said, “until one guy told me all about his life in the time it took to get to the train station[…] how could I bargain after that?”

Nagle learned that everybody has a story and there comes a time (many times for some people) where we could all use a little help.  This lesson is the same one Ellen DeGeneres reminds us to acknowledge everyday.
“As I listened to him talk about his daughter I began to feel bad for trying to talk down my past cab drivers,” Nagle said. “When we got to the station he said ‘six dollars please.’

“I gave him 20.”

Turn Off the Sink, and Tap Into Your Consciousness

By Ashley Posimato

Upon their return to Marist last week, the Global Outreach students showed a new appreciation for a commonly overlooked necessity — water.  Immersed in a culture suffering from an inadequate water supply, they were confronted with the reality of the danger of such conditions.

And although they had to leave the community in Mexico, they returned just in time to continue working to provide safe water, only now on an even larger scale.

Saturday, March 28th, marked the end of UNICEF’s second annual World Water Week. The United Nation’s Children’s Fund, UNICEF, started the Tap Water Project in 2007 exclusively in New York City with the goal of receiving one dollar for every glass of water served at participating restaurants.  The money collected is used to ensure clean and safe drinking water for children around the world.

According to tapproject.org, only two years after its commencement, The Tap Project generates money from over 2,300 restaurants around the country, with each dollar guaranteeing a child 40 days of access to safe water.

Cutillo’s a family owned restaurant in Carmel, New York discovered UNICEF’s project the first year it began, and continue as loyal participants.

“This is our third year contributing to the program,” said Patrick Cutillo, chef and son of owner Michael Cutillo.  “American Express ran an advertisement and I have always been in favor of helping move the clean water effect.”

As a former student at the Cullinary Institute of America, the use of water was an integral part of most of Cutillo’s experience.

“Water is the universal ingredient,” Cutillo said, “We used it to boil, wash, prepare, lighten[…] essentially we used it for everything, and went on to have careers that require us to use it for everything.”

But even non-culinary college students, pursuing futures that have nothing to do with food service, are dependent (sometimes without realizing) on the availability of water.

Kristen Aliperti, junior at Marist keeps a water bottle with her at all times.

“I leave for my 8 o’clock class with my water every morning,” Aliperti said, “and I refill it at least four or five times a day.”

Yet although it is important to drink plenty of water for hydration and good nutrition, there are instances where the very easy option to conserve water is neglected by many college-age students.

(When asked about her morning routine)

“I’m usually in a rush, so I try to do multiple things while the tooth brush is in my mouth,” Aliperti said, “[…] I guess I leave the faucet on most of the time — I don’t mean to.”

But the simple act of shutting the water between rinses shows a sense of cognitive thinking about water, and is one of the main components for progression.

“I think the Tap Project produces benefits beyond the obvious monetary profit,” Cutillo said. “It forces people to recognize their good fortune, and reevaluate the sense of entitlement that is many times associated with water.”

Michael Cutillo, main chef and owner of the restaurant said, “We are living during a time of economic unrest, everyone is hurting.” “But it’s times like this when we should be helping each other the most and celebrating what we do have; our health, our loved ones, and our liberty to live in a great country.”

And even if the land of the free, puts a price on everything — one dollar doesn’t seem so bad.

“[…] And very few people leave one dollar, most people donate 20 dollars or more” Michael Cutillo said.

“Why wouldn’t anyone want to give forty days to a kid? I promise there is no bigger or better way to stretch one dollar.”

*Cutillo’s can be found amongst all the other locations on UNICEF’s list of particicapting restaurants at:   http://www.tapproject.org/tap-in-your-city/

Sustenance for Happiness: A More Than Even Exchange

By Ashley Posimato

With the breaking of each wave it rushes onto the sand, creating the most welcoming summer breeze along the shoreline. It showers down upon the earth eliminating the lingering summer heat and initiating an equally pleasant crisp autumn breeze. As it descends from the sky, it freezes, naturally illustrating a long awaited winter wonderland. It follows the photosynthetic process of the sun, soaking the ground and nourishing the roots of plants that thirst for it.

Water is basic: it is just as desired fulfilling as it is necessary.

At the same time, water is abstract: it is longed for and unattainable; it is essential yet scarce.

Although theoretically inconsistent, both statements stem from very real circumstances. Water, for those fortunate enough to enjoy its prevalence, is thoughtlessly interwoven into society. However, an entire separate population aches from the void of this resource. When forced to confront such a reality, a small group of Marist students found themselves reevaluating their appreciation of one of life’s simplest necessities.

Marist’s Campus Ministry boasts the highest student membership of any organization on campus. In addition to its monthly meetings and weekly volunteer programs, Campus Ministry offers special project opportunities that allow students to fulfill their responsibility as global citizens by performing service on an international scale through the Global Outreach team.

They arrive back to campus with much more than the small amount of luggage they leave with.

“I really didn’t know what it would be like,” said Caroline Brandel, a junior and first time member of the Global Outreach team. “But in close to no time I became part of the community,” she said, “at the end of the week, I didn’t want to leave.”

Last friday, Campus Ministry’s Global Outreach team returned from Merida, capital of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, where they worked in the Emiliano Zapata community for the third consecutive year.

First year campus minister Katie Sullivan replaced Jamie Williams as the advisor and facilitator of this year’s trip.

“I’ve done service like this before,” Sullivan said, “It’s exciting because the needs of the community are always changing.”

This year the main concern was supplying the residents of the underdeveloped areas with clean water.

“The Emiliano Zapata was built on a dump, so the water is not drinkable for anyone,” Sullivan said. “Our job was to filter it in the new water plant and deliver it to the southern most parts of town.”Photo by: Katie Sullivan, Marist College

The new facility allowed the team to filter 20 liters at a time and distribute the containers accordingly. Each container cost 6 pasos for the immediate surrounding area, and 3 pasos for the refugees who dwell in the deep south (both discounted prices).

“I was part of the group that brought the containers back to the refugees in the south,” Brandel said. “This was the poorest area, but as shocking as it was to see the conditions they were living in, it was even more incredible to receive their appreciation,” she said. “It was the most genuine emotion I ever experienced–and over water.”

The students worked full days though the dry heat of the Mexican climate. They collected and filled large containers with a purified form of what they previously considered an indispensable resource.

“At the end of the last day when my skin was filled with sweat, dirt, and mosquito bites, I couldn’t wait to just wash my face,” Brandel said. “Then the faucet let out two small drops before it completely stopped running,” she said, “That night I slept with a dirty face, and a big smile.”

You Are What You Buy: But You Don’t Have To Be

By Ashley Posimato

Wow! That crew-neck, long sleeve from The Gap looked so good on you, buying it in every color was definitely the move to make.  And then, only twelve shirts later, you practically had your foot out the door, ready to vacate the mall, with what you would consider merely minimal damage. Oh right that was only until Bloomingdale’s was having a BOGO sale on Giuseppe Zanotti pumps.  So what’s two more pairs of shoes? Then again you would be adding them to a closet that is already teeming with designer footwear.  But two for one Zanotti’s?  Even your cheap, I mean frugal, mother wouldn’t pass that deal up.

Do these thoughts dictate your decisions?  Do visions of Oscar de la Renta’s pre-fall fashion show (released online this week!) inundate your dreams?  Would you neglect previously verified obligations at the announcement of a sample sale?  If you answer yes, even if only internally, to one or more of these, you may in fact be a shopaholic.

But I assure you, you are not alone!

According to MSN.com, recent studies suggest that over 17 million Americans are unable to restrict their money from burning a hole in their pocket- hey a hole in a pocket is an excuse for new jeans!  But although this behavior is commonly made humorous, for some people, compulsive shopping is far from a punch line to a joke.

Allison Friedman, a psychologist at the Marist Counseling Center, believes that there are people out there who are real shopaholics, despite the light connotation that surrounds it.

“Shopping is a real illness,” Friedman said.  “We joke about it, but there are  people who are really caught up in it- and for them it’s very serious.”

The seriousness of the disease however, can only be appreciated if understood.  It is important therefore to not only identify the behavior, but define what is dangerous, from what is entertaining.

“Compulsive shopping comes from the distorted belief that this activity has the power to make things better in your life,” Friedman said.  “That these things will substitute for whatever it is that you are missing.”

Friedman also clarified that there are occasions in life that motivate shopping: weddings, baby announcements, etc.  These moments are ever-present, albeit manifested in different forms. While a thirty-something year old may be more inclined to shop for their best friends upcoming shower, someone in their early twenties will have very different incentives.

Julia Janicelli, a junior at Marist, says that her shopping patterns depend on her plans for the weekend as well as her mood.

“This past weekend I was really sick, so I went shopping as a gift to myself,”  Janicelli said.

Being restricted to her house is not the only condition that justifies her shopping. From the looks of those who frequent the local night-life spots, she is not alone.

“If something good is going on that weekend I’ll want something new,” said Janicelli.  “I get sick of my clothes, but always end up buying something that isn’t worth it.”

Most people can identify with this feeling of dis-satisfaction, however when the purchases add up, and authority no longer accompanies behavior, compulsive buying becomes very dangerous.

“Although this is an addiction that is very easily tagged onto women, it is equally serious for suffering men,” Friedman said.

The difference is apparent in the type of things shopaholics are likely to buy.  Women will more likely splurge on clothes, cosmetics, and accessories, while it is more probable for men to stock up on electronics.

“I would never buy more than one pair of shoes for the year,” said Nic Zivic, a student-athlete at Marist College.  “But when it comes to video games I can’t get enough.”

Zivic admits that although he lives in one house with seven other boys, thus has immediate access to all of their games, unless it is his personal possession, he’s not satisfied.

“I like to know that I bought it,” Zivic said.  “The more games I have the better I feel, it like represents power.”

It is specifically the attribution of power to items that qualifies the behavior as compulsive.  The good news is that there are affective ways to change, and many people have proved them through their recovery.

“First the activity needs to be confronted,” Friedman said.  “Then a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, and financial counseling will help the shopper change their habits.

“Ultimately a shopaholic needs to change the way they think about reality. They need to be able to say ‘I’m here, I’m valid, I exist.'”