Stories can't write themselves.

FEB '13 SMASHBURGER GIVES ROWAN STUDENTS ANOTHER FOOD OPTION (PUBLISHED IN THE WHIT)

Smashburger, located at the corner of North Delsea Drive and William L. Dalton Drive, opened its doors to the public this week. The restaurant enters the realm of fast food joints off of this major highway. It is within close proximity to five other burger joints, but Smashburger claims its unique menu will cater to Rowan students.

Lewis Bivona, second-year senior and dual urban planning and political science major,  is excited for  Smashburger because of the new menu choices. “I heard there are going to be veggie burgers,” Bivona said. “If that is true I am very excited.”

The new Smashburger has many selections that can all be purchased with Boro Bucks, as well as cash and credit cards. Their menu choices include the New Jersey burger,  with bacon, blue cheese, and onion toppings, grilled chicken sandwiches, Create Your Own burger, smashfries, assorted salads, veggie burgers, veggie frites and Häagen-Dazs shakes. Sauces and toppings are free.

Brian Dixon, a junior mechanical engineering major, is leery to make the trek to Smashburger. He wonders why there is another burger place. “If I want a burger I can go to Prime Burger because it’s close, Checkers because it’s cheap and has a drive-thru, or I could just make a burger at home,” Dixon says. “Not everyone has cars on campus and I don’t want to walk across Delsea [Drive].”

Although the walk may be long, Smashburger partner Sean Leonard stays positive. Leonard said Smashburger has good products, a unique process and a diverse menu.

Smashburger was created serendipitously according to Leonard. He experienced Smashburgers in different areas and wanted to introduce South Jersey to why “smashing” is better. All of their beef is 100 percent certified black angus beef and they use a method of smashing the patty before it is cooked.

Leonard stated that his favorite item on the menu would have to be the spicy Baja burger and the crispy buffalo chicken sandwich.

Charles Howell, a Smashburger customer and a sophomore communications major at Rowan, ordered the CYO Smash with American cheese. “It is a close drive, conveniently off Delsea Drive and it is so good,” Howell said.

Smashburger is open Monday through Sunday 10 am to 10 pm and there is take-out, but no delivery.

NOV '12 BEAUTIFUL EXPERIENCES

Confined in a small library conference room, his face was full of anticipation and yearning. No hair on his head, casual clothes, grinning, but nervously gripping a cheap cardboard coffee cup. Small frame, but his muscles built and sturdy. The scent of freshly brewed coffee lingering off his lips. Mouth dry as cotton after teaching all day. Mathematic equations swirling around in the mind. All of his hard work heavily driven by a cute little Chinese girl halfway across the planet. A girl he has only visited three times and has never officially gone on a date with.  Elated he would soon be reunited with her within the next few months.
 

Steve Donahue, twenty-eight-year-old adjunct math professor at Rowan University and Camden County, kung fu expert, adventure seeker, and musician, is more than ready to spread his wings and take the big leap into an unconventional marriage.

It all started with an adventure.

“I am a martial artist. I have been for many years. I am passionate about it, particularly the Chinese internal styles,” says Donahue.

There are four internal styles: three are common and the fourth one is unusual and no one really teaches it or knows what it is in America. This style is called Taiyi Wu Xing Quan, which translates to, “two poles, five elements.” There is a monastery in China where they develop the internal styles to a high degree.

When Steve was finishing up his finances after grad school, he ended up with $4,000 he didn’t have plans for. “I could have been responsible with it, but I wanted to have a cool adventure to celebrate getting my grad degree and have something to look back on,” Steve says, “So I flew out to Moscow and Beijing, and then took an overnight train to the middle of China. I didn’t speak much Chinese. I learned enough to talk to transportation and occupation about where I needed to go. I practiced it over and over. ‘Go to the west train station…’ ‘I need to buy a ticket to…’ ‘Is this correct?’ The problem was I didn’t know how to listen to people.”

He got to the train station, got a ticket, got his things, and planned it out so he had four hours to kill just in case flights got delayed. “I was sitting there, the first time being a minority anywhere.” People were staring at him because this was the train that not even locals go on. It was going to the heartland of China. Intimidated, but adventurous, Steve held strong to his journey.

Steve describes, “I go out to get a breath of fresh air and a guy in uniform comes up to me and says a bunch of stuff I don’t understand. He points at my bags and says some stuff… I show him my ticket. I say, ‘Is this correct?’ because I was planning on saying it to the people that were teaching me kung fu. He [the officer] wants me to follow him, charges me four dollars in Chinese currency, gives me a receipt, and takes my bags. I have been checking my bags in everywhere I go, so assumed it was a baggage check.”

He got on the train and met a guy who offered him whiskey. “In China, if someone offers you something you are obliged to accept,” Steve says. The traveler kept on insisting…so Steve showed the receipt he got at the train station for his bags. The guy explains that if you are traveler…and have hours to kill, you leave your bags there so you’re not carrying them around. “So, I went on a 22 hour train ride to the middle of china and my bags stayed in Beijing… All I had was a messenger bag with three books and my wallet,” Steve states.

At the monastery Steve was known as the dumb American with no bags. Steve laughs, “It made it more fun. ‘What’s this guy’s deal? He left his bags in Beijing.’ I was in the monastery with the clothes I was wearing and a bag with three books for a week.”

Steve had gone to have his “moment on the mountain” and get perspective on life, but hadn’t planned his budget out the way he wanted it. “I was planning on staying for three months and ended up cutting it short, staying only for a month, so I had to change my flight,” he says disappointed, yet happy.

June 23rd 2011, a 2:30 p.m. flight- “I met her in the luggage line… we were both redirected for large bags, there were two other travelers going to Budapest,” Steve illustrates.

Nina. Full name; Long Huiyu. Twenty-three years old. Tiny frame, round face, beautiful brown eyes. From “busy, crowded, but convenient” Xichang, China where she has lived all of her life except for five months in Germany. Has a BA in teaching mandarin as a second language. Hasn’t worked a job yet. Is not so fluent with English, so she spoke through email. She was looking for love, but did not know she would be falling in love with a traveler in a heavy baggage line.

Nina had just graduated from a university and had an issue with transportation… everyone was traveling in China because it was the end of the semester. She couldn’t get a ticket when she needed to and had to get a different train ticket.

“I met Steve at the airport in Beijing when I went to Germany and he was going back to USA after learning Taiyi in China,” Nina reminisces.

“We both rescheduled our flights and ended up in the same airport terminal saying hi to each other in the heavy baggage line,” says Donahue, “I was kind of astonished at how I clicked with her… I got to talk to her for a while when we landed in Moscow… I got to tell my story which sounded really elaborate and crazy… I went through security and tell my parents where I was… and by the time I got back she was gone.”

The next hour was spent hanging out with the other two travelers and slipping off periodically… Steve says, “I ate three or four sandwiches trying to find her…. Eventually I gave up. I ended up going to my terminal and she was in the same terminal as me.”

It turns out when they were in security; she took a picture of Steve from behind. “She was like ‘Oh this cool white guy, this weird foreigner who wanted to learn kung fu.’ I didn’t want to go on the plane home. I wanted to spend more time with her,” Steve jokes.

The couple started a report online. They decided not to date anyone else. Nina was in Germany being an au pair and Steve was still teaching in America. Steve says, “She left a cute message, about how she really likes me and she didn’t want to affect our friendship. Her English was not perfect, so it was extra cute. I was surprised she took the first step.”

“He said let's take each other as first love. I have been touched all the time,” Nina states in a response through email.

Jyl Ellington, Program Supervisor, age 27, from Prescott Arizona, has known Steve for just under three years and Nina for just over a year. “Their relationship is straight out of a fairytale and modernized… With technology today it has become much easier to maintain communication and share thoughts, feelings, and just daily activity.”

Steve says, “There is a term in kung fu… if you train really hard and put your body through a bunch of stuff you will be able to do impossible things, distance has that factor. Would I much rather her be in America? Absolutely. Germany didn’t treat her well and I was the person she could talk to. We are both not imaginative people; we are realistic about it. She said, ‘Look I know I am not there. If you want to date someone else just tell me when you do that.’ We talked after about planning on seeing each other again, talking in those terms made us more excited about it. If you want that to work you have to settle in and be confident in making the choice…We developed a report online. The next time I saw her was in January with a ring in my pocket.”

Proposing to her was tough to figure out for Steve because usually you can get a couple of mutual friends to help out and he didn’t know many of her friends. Most of them didn’t speak much English, so he was flying solo. “Asking her what size her fingers were was a weird thing on Skype. I ran her through a series of random questions and told her a surprise will come out of one of them.”

It was the middle of winter, January 8th 2012. Not extremely cold, about seventy degrees. The couple went to Lugu Lake, located on the border of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Steve explains, “We were taking pictures of things. I said ‘why don’t you take a picture of me.”

“It was interesting. He asked me to close my eyes till he said ok to open. Then I saw he kneeled one leg, read an engagement letter to me in Chinese. So surprising and sweet,” says Nina.

Steve replies, “She opened her eyes and I am there in the view screen with the ring.”

“He always can make me happy… when we chat on internet; we often type the same words at the same time. How unbelievable… even I am not an English native speaker. He can understand me so well, more than Chinese people do. My heart is always happy so long as he is there. I feel safe, incredible happy with him. So my heart is so sure he is the one. I love him so much, want to be together with him, share a life,” Nina lovingly states.

The most important element in a long distance relationship is that you both have an end in sight; whether it is just visiting each other or coming together in a more stable fashion.

Nina says it is “bitter for cannot being together, it is so tough for a relationship, emotions will be heightened, I really do not like to be so far away with Steve, so craving for his company.”

They plan to live in Steve’s hometown of Sicklerville. The interview is the last thing they have to do in the visa application process. “We are over the worst of it waiting wise,” says Steve. The visa appointment was on the 31st of October. It was a whirlwind of emotions, but she passed. She will be here sometime during Christmas. “We have ninety days to get married or the visa will expire, so the ceremonies will have to wait,” Steve explains, “I’m looking forward to having her here with me… We are moving into half of a house I’m renting from a friend.” The couple wants to travel and maybe have a martial arts studio. “She wants me to pursue every crazy idea and dream that I have cause that’s how we met,” he affirms.

“I am looking forward to my visa to Steve, our marriage, and our life,” Nina replies.


So there Steve Donahue was. Sitting at the end of the table holding an empty coffee cup. Contemplating where his life will take him next. An awkward pause. Then he says, “I am trying to set things up so I always have something to appreciate. I take no credit in how things have gone. It amazes me… I want to feel like the decisions that I made steer me into the right direction where I don’t need to make a whole lot of money. It would be nice if I did, but more importantly I want to make sure the balance is right. And that what I am doing, I reflect back on it at the end of the day, in a kind of poetic way, and think this is something as wonderful as the best thing I’ve experienced. I am trying to recreate the feeling of being in the monastery; having a very simple life… having that person that I love, that I have worked so hard to see and I finally get to see her or having the experience of waiting so many months and then having her finally come to me… Despite the distance and the difficulties it brings, this girl is worth it.”

OCT '12 YOU MAY BE SEATED

5 Ways to Spice up Your Place Cards
 

White paper, calligraphy your mom would have chosen “back-in-the-day,” placed on the table, hidden behind your bland chicken, is every other bride’s boring place card. Who wants boring place cards? I know I wouldn’t.

The big day can be more than overwhelming; each little step and every little to-do. The last thing on the bride’s mind is place cards, but place cards are one of the most influential aspects of a wedding.

The little touches in a wedding bring the whole picture together and it is something the guests can keep forever. Besides, who wouldn’t like a crafty nick-knack with their name on it that directs them to their seat?

With five simple steps, brides will break out of the mundane place card syndrome and become place card divas. Watch out David Tutera! Here comes the next place card making queen!

Theme and Color: The first thing to consider when choosing place cards is your color choice. In order for your wedding to be cohesive, the colors have to pop, show your personality, and of course, complement each other.

Tahtianna Friend has been in the wedding industry for over 10 years and is owner of “Simply Inviting” in Collingswood, New Jersey which has been around since 2007 and was voted 2010's Best of South Jersey award from SJ Magazine, featured on both "The 10! Show" and NBC's Consumer Watch segments.

Miss Friend says, “The most popular colors this year [2012] are eggplant, lavender, and grey.”

Found Object Use: Place card trends today are influenced by quirky do-it-yourself crafts. A unique way to make your place cards stand out is by taking unique objects found in everyday life and making them your own creation. For example, you could use sea shells, leaves, glass bottles, or even a candle.

White Tulip Boutique, found online and based in Rhinebeck, New York, makes customized silverware and antique trinkets that can have just about anything engraved into them. 

Simply Inviting Invitations and Design also does some interesting place cards. Miss Friend of Simply

Inviting Invitations and Design says, “Our most unique place card we have is a wine bottle with the table number and list of guests on it.”
 

Quirky Calligraphy: The most important aspect of the place card is the calligraphy. You want to tie your invitation calligraphy in with your place card calligraphy. There are many different ways to use fonts.

Shirlee DiBacco of Vorhees, New Jersey has been in the calligraphy business since 1985 and belongs to the “Philadelphia Calligrapher’s Society.” She has been on the board for 10 years, the last five as vice president.

“Calligraphy makes place cards special. It turns it from paint-by-numbers into a Van Gogh original. Your guests’ socks will be knocked off,” says DiBacco, “The most popular is called copperplate painted pen; a type of writing used on the Declaration of Independence. It is very elegant.”

After doing calligraphy for such a long time Miss DiBacco admits that there were a bunch of interesting requests but she says, “The most unique request was for a bat mitzvah. The writing was graffiti in silver ink on royal blue paper.”

Personal Touches: What better way to join the parts of how the bride and groom met or feature the relationship, than adding parts of it to your own place cards? If you visited a special place, cherish your first date, or even eat the same pizza, it is nice to show the guests of your wedding why you fell in love in the first place. Remember not to get too personal though! For instance, you don't want to go saying what you do in the bedroom or telling secrets not worth sharing.

Placement: Vital to the flow of the wedding, placing the cards in the right area can be trivial. Literally, it is in the name “place” cards. They are meant to direct the guests to their seats.

David’s Bridal , found in many locations, including your local; Woodbury, New Jersey, sells a set of four silver fortune cookies that can be personalized with your guests’ names that can be inscribed on the fortune. These place cards would be best placed on the table for the guest to see when they arrive.
 

Also, United with Love found online and based in Washington, DC, features skeleton keys with satin ribbons which would be best placed on the front table when the guests arrive to see where they will be placed.

MAR '12 RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY

Rowan residents have coined the term "It is Glassboro-ing out." How does the rainy weather affect the community?

 

GLASSBORO- Twenty-one-year-old senior psychology major, James Castorina explained, “The weather in Glassboro surely is different. It always seems like it is either windy, rainy, or a combination of other unwanted weather elements.”

The weather in the Borough of Glassboro has gotten Rowan University students talking. Some Rowan students have coined the term “It is Glassboro-ing out.” This new catch-phrase describes the weather that is specific to the town; wet and windy. While walking around Rowan University’s campus most students are wearing rain boots and umbrellas are turned inside-out.

The east coast of the United States has received an increase of precipitation in the past 5 years. According to Glassboro Demographics, (these values are calculated from a spatially weighted average of several dozen stations throughout the state and represent inches of liquid equivalent precipitation) in the year 2008 the average rainfall was 48 inches, 2009- 54 inches, and 2010- 46 inches.

The average annual total precipitation for Glassboro in 2010 is 40 inches. Out of 365 days in the year of 2010, there were 112 rainy days and 94 clear days. The highest precipitation in 2010 was the month of August where Glassboro had the average precipitation of 5 inches.

James Castorina stated, “I feel like a lot of it has to do with the location of Glassboro in the flat part of southern New Jersey relatively close to the bay.”

Twenty-year-old sophomore psychology major, Gabriele Ward stated, “Rain does not affect me that negatively, it is just a pain in the butt and people like to have something to complain about.”

Ward said, “On the other hand, the wind… affects my work and going to class. It seems very windy in Glassboro but, since I am from North Jersey, I explain the wind by the flat landscape and lack of trees.”

Last year (2011) and this year's (2012) average precipitation is based off of preliminary reports. The year of 2011 had an average of 65 inches. January’s average precipitation was 3 inches and February was an average of 1 inch (2012 preliminary report).

Astronomy and physics professor at Rowan University, David R. Klassen explained, “Local topography plays a big role in how those general, global-scale patterns affect the local weather.” Klassen remarked, “weather is a chaotic system (i.e. small uncertainties in the inputs can lead to large errors in the outputs; think of shooting an arrow a very long distance where a small aiming error at your hand is amplified over the distance the arrow travels) which is why forecasts are really only good to about five or seven days.”

Glassboro’s upcoming months have had a weird combination of weather, but wet and windy days are always found in the east coast due to the landscape. James Castorina admitted that the weather is unpredictable and rains and is windy a lot more than average. “I will admit I carry an umbrella more often now than I used to,” stated Castorina.

2007 HOPE:A SHORT NOVEL



PREFACE

I’m going to crawl in a corner and rock out to the world’s smallest violin. I’m ready to listen, but not to the pretend drama spreading around. I need to look up at the stars and dive deep into a world of sanctity. I need to open a new door. Not one person can comprehend the subdivisions of my mind. Being a teenager at that moment made me want to cry, scream, and believe there was Hope. Who do individuals want to become in the transition from adolescence to adulthood? That was an answer I did not know.

CHAPTER 1

It all started with a girl, one who happened to take no for an answer and a question. She did not know too much about the world because she decided to live two separate lives. One side she was on top of the world and dreamed it was all worthwhile. The other side involved deeper disposition and forced her to be someone she did not want to be. Both sides she wished had never been unleashed. That girl was me. My name, Hana Sakura.

I was a free-lance artist living out of the diminutive town of Hope. The name and small-town persona of my birthplace acted as a shadow over our “tempting” personal lives. Not even someone’s favorite blueberry pie recipe was safe on our street. Neighbor’s poked their Pinocchio noses into everything you would do. My mom happened to “find” my naked baby pictures framed and on the mantle in our town’s hall.

Conversations turn into chain mail and everyday life becomes a milestone in our town’s constitution. Life has become uniform. I isolate myself in my attic. None one could look upon me anymore. I was a gremlin-like creature growing prone to the outside world. Dracula here I come!

CHAPTER 2

It was cold. One hope of a star shined through the dark outlines of entwined tree limbs. My heart pounded to the beat of my clock, as I waited for the bright yellow loser-transporting device. It was senior year and I was still a low-life nerd. As the sight of the humiliating machine strode out in front of me, I imagined myself in a souped-up purple flamed car. The engine roared, my hair flowed in the wind, and… loud creaking of an old bus door interrupted my daydream. I walked up the steps of hell and was bombarded by freshman that actually cared about their lives. What they did not know was how fake and complicated their lives would become in the next four years.

I sat next to a chubby runny-nosed boy whose flabby sides were pushing my butt slightly off the edge of the seat. “First-class transportation, my ass,” I thought to myself. I had no friends to give me a ride, so there I was trapped inside a big yellow clown car. Maybe it was a good thing though, because then I would not get stuck in the drama of High School. It could also be that I chose not to care anymore. I gave up on my life a long time ago. I’ve been a zombie since the beginning of freshman year and it was not until senior year that I wanted to break free.

Lockers were filled with remnants of fake lives and the stench of stale drugs. Our bus arrived late, so the halls were desolate wastelands of forgotten homework. “That’s what you get for taking the bus”…

When I arrived to homeroom, late as usual, Mrs. Johnson gave me the evil eye. I found her disciplinary actions unusually cruel, because she did not even mind that half of our homeroom was texting on their cellular devices. It’s not like they can hide their lives behind their legs or books. I sat down in my normal peg-legged desk and noticed a new face casually walking in. Her innocent presence did not fit-in with our “senioritous.” No one could come into our shit-hole of a school and look so enthusiastic. When she headed towards me I started to panic.

Want more writing? Go to my clip portfolio.