The Burden of Beauty

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 12:01pm

I sat in my room nervously scratching away at my fingernails.

Chipped black nail polish forming 

10 Rorschach tests readily available on my hands so I’m ever prompting my own wellness.

I anxiously grab a lock and twirl it around my fingers and it reminds me of how my mother started her dreads:

In times of high stress, she would compulsively twist her naps into knots until they locked or until she got her work done….

My sister was an heir to the War on Hair;

She would tug at her lashes all throughout her pregnancy.

By the time my niece was born, my sisters’ eyelids were a raw, fleshy bright pink from the incessant plucking, so she began wearing fake lashes and I haven’t seen her without them since. 

My Grandmother could not be caught dead without a bottle of lotion on her. 

Ointments and creams would rain down on the drought that was her skin

In a fruitless attempt to mend the cracks of old age.

Her once silky skin over time weathered against the the forces

Of heat

And water

And marriage

This is a woman quite literally tearing at the seams, but in her mind the solution was at the bottom of the bottle of shea butter. 

My aunt always lets her long hair flow. 

The Black Rapunzel, she would waltz into Thanksgiving dinners with weaves down to her back.

I watched her swat her hair out of her face as she ate and asked why she never wore it in a ponytail.

She said she has an irrational fear of a man yanking it from behind 

The fairytales lied when they said that’s how Rapunzel’s prince should enter a castle.

My step-mother 

Spends more money on clothes than food because

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

I call my mom in tears after a failed French quiz

And she offers to send me skin care products.

In this moment, I realize

I come from a long line of women that blend beauty standards with coping methods. 

Women with societal norms deep in them as poison

Women with a man’s requests reverberating through their bone marrow.

Women who even when the floor is lava, the world is still their runway. 

They understand

“If I cannot act the part, I will damn sure at least look the part.”

I wonder if this is where my fashion sense comes from. 

A valiant attempt at beautiful veneer.

Clothing for the sake of catharsis, not couture. 

The allure of self expression is escapism not demure.

I’ve got narcissism coursing through the branches of my family tree

The sweet sap to dilute the bitter taste of not being enough. 

I wear my sunday best 7-days a week

This is my form of prayer. 

And maybe it’s compensation.

Maybe I am doomed to be added to the tapestry of women in my family who paint their face as a painkiller

Maybe I am simply a stray drop of ink on a white campus canvas.

Maybe my anxious trembles are just heartbeats and I need to come to terms with them.

Or maybe.

Maybe I just need a haircut. 

Categories: Colleges

Don’t you wish the speed limit was 75?

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 12:00pm

She tied a bright red scarf in her hair and decided it was finally time to go. The paper she held was crumpled from being folded and unfolded a thousand times over by damp hands. 

Brrring, brrring, brrring. Her phone went crashing to the pavement as it rang. 

“Hello?” she answered as she fumbled with her keys.

“You need to get here now,” the other voice said, “it’s important.” 

She trembled as she picked up speed, staying silently on the phone just for the comfort of breath on the other end. She stuffed the paper into her backpack and flung the whole thing into the backseat as she got into the car.

She shifted into first. 


Two hours later the car had barely come to a stop as she jumped out and ran towards the door, immediately enveloped in a hug. Her sister smiled as she pulled away.

“Don’t worry, it’s good news.”

Categories: Colleges

Woodward’s “Rage” is not a deal breaker for Republicans

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 11:57am

Nearly 80 percent of registered voters have heard President Donald Trump’s comments to journalist Bob Woodward, where Trump admitted to downplaying the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump repeatedly makes shocking and grotesque statements, so is this month’s revelation really any different?

Typically, when a Trump soundbite makes media rounds, it’s because he has further tarnished his character. Trump has said he would date his daughter, defended white supremacists as “very fine people,” and made ridiculous comments about women’s bodies — all of which reflect Trump’s general immorality as a human. Trump remarks to Woodward, however, represent his failure as a president. Even so, it probably will not sway any voters. 

Democrats have long felt that Trump’s character makes him unfit for office. But many Republicans have rationalized Trump’s behavior through a utilitarian lens. As long as Trump pushed Republican policy and rhetoric, he could behave however he pleased, or so the line of reasoning goes. 

Too Much and Never Enough” by Mary Trump and “The Truth about Trump” by Michael D’Antoni both raised concerns about what type of person the President is, but neither did much to sway public opinion. Bob Woodward’s “Rage” simply levels the argument that Trump is unfit for office.

Woodward’s interviews reveal that Trump knowingly mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike many of the previous books about Trump’s presidency, “Rage” uses corroboration from interviews with the President himself. 

Trump told Woodward the truth about the virus, while he lied to the public. “[COVID-19] is also more deadly than even your strenuous flus,” Trump told Woodward on Feb. 7. Three weeks later, Trump told reporters at the White House, “this is a flu. This is like a flu.” 

In his blatant maladministration of the pandemic, Trump has made the U.S. the epicenter of a global catastrophe. Trump has cost Americans’ lives and damaged the economy. How can Republicans reconcile Trump’s emergency response with their utilitarian perspective? 

An article in the Atlantic examines how cognitive dissonance, the discomfort we feel when our beliefs and actions contradict, affects modern political beliefs. “The minute we make any decision—I’ll buy this car; I will vote for this candidate; I think COVID-19 is serious; no, I’m sure it is a hoax—we will begin to justify the wisdom of our choice and find reasons to dismiss the alternative,” write Social Psychologists Elliot Aronson and Carol Tavris. 

Revelations, like those in Woodward’s book, will not sway Republicans’ perspective because they have already decided Trump is a good president. The polarization of our media allows for further alleviation of cognitive dissonance, as Republicans can read, watch or listen to sources that rationalize Trump’s actions. 

The Woodward tapes might offer a terrifying glimpse behind the Presidential veil, but they are not swaying any voters.


Brennan is from Rapid City, SD. His majors are ancient studies and religion.

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf Sentiments – Having family affected by the wildfires

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 11:54am

I was on the phone with my parents the other day and had just finished speaking with my mother, who handed the phone to my father. I asked him how he was doing and received an impressively vague non-answer: “Well, you know, I’m not too happy about all this crap. It’s no fun.”

There are about a dozen events in 2020 that my dad might be referencing to as “all this crap,” and all of them are indeed “no fun.” I asked him to clarify and felt out-of-touch when he replied, matter-of-factly, “The smoke. It hurts to breathe.” I had completely forgotten that my parents’ home was covered in a thick, gray haze. 

My hometown, Seattle, had managed to win a respectable silver medal for worst air quality in the world on that day. The three worst cities in the world by Air Quality Index (AQI) rankings were all West Coast cities, with Seattle at 228. On that day Sunday, September 13, our AQI here in Northfield, Minn. was a measly 9.  

AQI ratings are an amalgamation of multiple pollution measurements meant to provide a quantifiable metric by which the public can understand their local air quality. An AQI under 50 is considered ideal and anything under 100 permissible. Levels over 100 are dangerous for sensitive groups, including asthmatics. At 150 and beyond, everybody’s health is impacted, and beyond 200 the air is considered cause for a health alert. Children, the elderly and people with lung conditions should not leave their homes when the AQI surpasses 200, and everybody should avoid spending time outside. 

My dad has some complaints about the smoke beyond his own health. It can be difficult to drive; visibility in the city is down to about one block in any direction. The urban bird population of Seattle is grounded, unable to see or fly through the dense smoke. They stop singing as well, making mornings eerily silent. Across the West Coast, people are finding dead birds with no apparent injuries, flummoxing scientists as to their cause of death.

Hearing my parents explain their dilemmas reminded me immediately of a conversation I had with them six months ago when Seattle was one of the first cities shut down as COVID-19 made its way into the U.S. A few weeks later, I was on a plane to join them in a city where everything was shuttered. With the smoke, at least, everyone knew the drill on how to shut things down and stop going outside. In most cases, Seattleites had never opened back up. It seems only right that we should have a little time to recover from one crisis before the next. But these days, a breather seems to be a tall ask.


John is from Seattle, WA.

Categories: Colleges

The tragic consequences of Sept. 11

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 11:49am

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 proved that the United States of America was fallible. U.S. citizens could be threatened, attacked and stirred to fear over the reality that their government could not be trusted to protect them. But in the wake of a deadly pandemic that has killed over 200,000 Americans, we must ask ourselves why the events of Sept. 11 continue to be the tragedy that elicits such an emotional response from U.S. citizens. 

The Sept. 11 attacks and repercussions thereafter led to a loss of idealism for our country due to the politicization of the events. In addition, many people realize that these attacks have taken precedence over other global tragedies that have been directly or indirectly caused by the U.S. in its mission to achieve democracy and liberty. The attacks have been politically emphasized in a way that frames them as the worst tragedy in recent history. That is not the case.

This realization happened when people uncovered more facts, year after year, about the scope and nature of U.S. interference overseas. This led to a change in the cultural zeitgeist, where people were much more willing to pay attention and learn about international issues they had previously ignored — especially in regards to U.S retribution, interception and control over other foreign nations. 

According to a 2011 investigation at the Pew Research Center 55 percent of Muslims found it more difficult to live in a post-9/11 world. Between 185,296–208,295 Iraqi civilians died due to violence since 2003, a consequence of former President George W. Bush-led War on Terror, according to the Iraq Body Project. Iraqi citizens continue to suffer via economic sanctions and military occupation.

Yemen has suffered the worst humanitarian crisis in the world in recent years, another indirect consequence of U.S. involvement in the Middle East. These facts are made more accessible with the growth of technology, especially as news outlets focus on moving online and expanding their reach to more citizens. 

Traditional news outlets aren’t the only source for information regarding U.S. retaliation after the Sept. 11 attacks. Twitter user @ocapreina wrote on Sept. 11, 2020: “9/11 was just one day in history where the US experienced the violence and terror they inflict on other countries and ever since then that memory is misused to justify atrocities far worse than what happened that day.”

During a chapel talk on the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, President David Anderson ’74 said, “we remember feeling angry, perhaps vengeful. Perhaps some of us still feel angry, still yearn for vengeance.” While this may be true for some, there has been a contemporary realization that the U.S. often causes more harm than good in its foreign interventions.

In turn, people can no longer embrace anger without considering the consequences resulting from the U.S. response. This leads to questions as to why Western tragedy continues to take priority and to be considered the gravest calamity among the tragedies of other countries throughout this century — especially those caused by Western powers. 

Our inability to thoughtlessly grieve shows how much our knowledge has expanded. It may be challenging to embrace all the world’s difficulties, but ignorance to other tragedies, though easy, is an unacceptable and insensitive path.


Kamila is from Panama City, Panama. Her major is English. 

Categories: Colleges

SGA fall applications close, Senate candidates campaign for positions

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 11:45am

Applications for the Student Government Association (SGA) Senate positions closed on Sept. 15. SGA has nine executive branches, and there are several candidates running for positions involving student life, organizations and other aspects of campus life. 

Linh Nguyen ’22 is running for Curriculum Senator. Nguyen served as the Ytterboe Hall Senator and the Bylaws Chair last year.

“With the new GE requirement rolling out soon, it would be a great experience in learning more about the changes and be more involved with the faculty and departments at Olaf,” Nguyen said during her online campaign. 

Clovis Curl ’21 and Andy Harrison ’23 are both running for Environmental Senator. 

“I would prioritize open communication and transparency between the student government and students on campus,” Curl said. “I would actively reach out to environmental student organizations as well as the wider student body with funding opportunities, senate updates, opportunities for open dialogue and questions about how SGA can better support them.” 

Curl has officially been endorsed by the Climate Justice Collective. The Collective is a student-run organization that advocates for sustainability on campus and within the broader community and urges St. Olaf to divest from fossil fuels.

Harrison explained his own campaign. 

“The environmental crisis is the defining issue of our generation, and likely many generations to come. It is my belief that we as a community need to focus on the climate crisis, environmental justice and the carbon, water and waste footprints of our college, and adequately communicate our concerns to the administration,” Harrison said.

There are several students running for one of the three Class of 2024 Senator positions: Harry Olander ‘24, Geovani Pena ‘24, Ben Schwartz ‘24, Brent Sykes ‘24 and Chau Truong ‘24. All candidates said that they are interested in supporting their classmates despite their differences in culture, background and education. 

Goldion Nogo ’23 wishes to offer his perspective as the Class of 2023 Senator.

“As part of the international student body, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ community, I wish to offer my perspective in Senate meetings; not just about issues that the majority are experiencing, but also those of the minority who are often silenced in campus-wide discussions,” Nogo said. 

Kenzie Todd ’22 is campaigning for a position as the Class of 2022 Senator. 

“I have stood as president of every dorm I’ve lived in and I was disappointed that Interhall Council has been cancelled this year due to COVID. I’m hoping to stay involved in student affairs and SGA by joining the student Senate and keeping my peers informed,” Todd said in her campaign.

Sophia Skinner ‘21 and Zoe Plewa ‘21 are both campaigning for the two class of 2021 Senator positions. Plewa is passionate about advocating for her class and engaging with the rest of the student body. She has experience as a SARN advocate and Title IX intern and her experiences have helped her think critically about issues on campus. 

Skinner transferred to St. Olaf in 2018 and has since served on the executive leadership board for Model United Nations. 

“I believe that if we take the time to meaningfully engage with each other on complex issues, we will be able to synthesize our goals as a community and translate these goals into positive action here on campus,” Skinner said in her online campaign. 

Learn more about the candidates and their goals at Voting will take place on Sept. 24.

Categories: Colleges

Steve Underdahl discusses enhanced Birth Center and more

KYMN Radio - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 9:29am
Northfield Hospital & Clinics CEO Steve Underdahl discusses the newly enhanced and expanded Birth Center, Covid 19,  and more.

John Fossum on enhanced traffic enforcement, body cameras, data privacy and more

KYMN Radio - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 9:14am
Rice County John Fossum discusses enhanced traffic enforcement, police body cameras, data privacy, and more.

Outdoor Class

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 6:03pm

It’s a joke, how students will plead with their instructors to “have class outside today.” A Pandemic College, you can. In fact, you have to. On a gorgeous summery day like today, this is not a bad thing.

The post Outdoor Class appeared first on Blowing & Drifting.

Categories: Citizens

Bloom with the Master Gardeners of Rice County

Northfield News - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 4:00pm
As fall approaches and colder weather makes its way in, local gardeners don’t want you to forget about warmer weather and gardening.
Categories: Local News

When they can't get on stage, these musicians hit the driveway

Northfield News - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 3:33pm
Aware of how different life has become over the last six months as COVID-19 continues to wreak uncertainty, and economic and societal changes, professional musicians Laura Caviani and JC Sanford have turned to a familiar friend to bring cheer to…
Categories: Local News

Man allegedly steals $10,000 from vulnerable family member

Northfield News - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 2:43pm
Allegations involving a breach of trust have been leveled against a Faribault man.
Categories: Local News

Man with violent past picked up in Faribault; Nfld applies for Fed $ to assist in flood study; Nerstrand Fire to hold Open House at new Fire Hall and receives grant for rescue equipment

KYMN Radio - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 12:02pm
By Teri Knight, News Director A Rosemount man is in the Rice County jail charged with a felony after police get a tip. According to the criminal complaint, 35 year old Brandon Jerome Doby has repeatedly threatened a person who lives in Faribault, with violence. The reporting party knew that Doby had a silver gun

Traffic delays expected as southbound I-35 concrete repairs begin near Faribault Sept. 24

Northfield News - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 11:29am
Southbound Interstate 35 motorists north of Faribault are likely to experience traffic delays beginning Thursday, Sept. 24 when concrete pavement repairs begin on the highway, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Categories: Local News

Ben Martig on Absentee Voting, DMV, Street Projects and more

KYMN Radio - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 9:20am
Northfield City Administrator Ben Martig provides information about absentee voting, DMV operations, riverfront enhancement, street project updates, and more.  The Roundabout on Hwy 246 is expected to open in mid October.

100 years of helping disabled veterans of all generations

Northfield News - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 5:30am
Disabled American Veterans is an organization that will be celebrating its 100th year birthday on Sept. 25, 2020.
Categories: Local News

CUBE: Practicing vital anti-racism work for over 50 years

Manitou Messenger - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 8:18pm

The Cultural Union for Black Expression (CUBE) is a deeply significant organization on the St. Olaf campus that focuses on providing outlets for Black students to express themselves. CUBE also invites students of all identities to come and learn about Black history and the experiences of Black students at St. Olaf.

CUBE has existed in one form or another since the creation of the Black Action Committee (BAC) in 1968. “The Cube” was originally a physical space in the Ytterboe annex, which eventually evolved into becoming the Cultural Union for Black Expression. 

During this period, CUBE was a place where “St. Olaf’s minority students, not exclusively Black, [congregated] for a number of reasons” — from studying to playing cards — as written in a Messenger article from 1971.

Even during this time, however, the BAC was focused on helping Black students at St. Olaf on an administrative level. The BAC advocated for purchasing “racial literature,” creating more accredited race and ethnic studies courses and sponsoring travel across the country for Black St. Olaf students to help encourage more Black applicants to the College. 

At the same time as CUBE advocated these systemic changes, race and ethnic studies programs were emerging in colleges across the country. Seen as “pacification programs,” colleges founded these initiatives on soft money to reduce tension in the short run without a real commitment. Within a few years, funding began to dry up.  

It was only through advocacy from faculty members and CUBE that the race and ethnic studies program at St. Olaf became protected and was able to grow into one of the oldest race and ethnic studies programs in the country.

The early history of CUBE set the stage for the tripartite role that CUBE has played and continues to play here at St. Olaf — providing a space for Black students to engage in self-expression, creating programs and resources to educate students of all backgrounds and advocating on behalf of BIPOC students to cause administrative change.

It is easy to see the combination of their three goals in CUBE’s recent work. By hosting events like the “Why I Love Being Black” panel and “Paint n’ Sip,” where attendees got to try their hands at recreating paintings by famous Black artists, CUBE provides opportunities for Black students to engage in self-expression and to put that expression in the context of Black history. These events provide invaluable learning opportunities for people of all identities. 

CUBE’s condemnation of administration co-opting the “7 Feet for 7 Shots” march has served as a catalyst for the St. Olaf community’s hunger for systemic change, the greatest push since the Collective for Change on the Hill led protests in 2017. It is unquestionable that CUBE has been and will continue to be one of the best resources on campus for promoting and doing the work of anti-racism. 


CUBE meets via Zoom from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays. 


Categories: Colleges

“Thank you for the music,” cast of “Mamma Mia!”

Manitou Messenger - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 8:16pm

The fall theater season kicked off on Saturday, Sept. 12 and Sunday, Sept. 13, with a COVID-19-adjusted outdoor performance of “Mamma Mia!” directed by Department Chair of Theater Karen Wilson. The theater department originally planned to premiere the musical on campus last April but had to postpone it due to the pandemic. 

Students filled the lawn in front of Boe Chapel — each in a physically distanced spray-painted circle on the grass — over an hour before the performance began. Attendees brought blankets and masks in order to maintain social distancing guidelines while watching the performance. Promptly at 2 p.m., ABBA music started blasting through the speakers, and the performance began. 

“Mamma Mia!” follows a young woman, Sophie, as she prepares for her wedding at her mother’s hotel in Greece. After reading her mother’s diary, Sophie invites three men to the wedding, each one of whom may be her father, and lighthearted yet heartfelt shenanigans ensue once the three potential fathers arrive. 

Tamsin Olson ’21 shined as Sophie, one of the leads. Olson’s voice complimented Sophie’s bubbly character, and she proved her prowess as a talented actor. Mary Maker ’23 played Sophie’s mother, Donna. Her energy, comedic timing and vocal range were extraordinary. Despite a few unfortunate microphone malfunctions, Olson and Maker had excellent chemistry as a mother-daughter duo. 

Tyler Krohn ’21, Andrew Decker ’23 and Aidan Sivers-Boyce ’22 played each of the three possible fathers. Krohn’s delightful British accent and perfectly awkward mannerisms made him quite lovable on stage. Decker had several wonderful vocal solos and his perfectly trimmed mustache made him look perfect for the role of Sam Carmichael. Sivers-Boyce drew several laughs from the audience with his physicality and wonderfully inappropriate interactions with Abigail St. John ’21, who played Rosie, a friend of Donna. 

St. John also had some fabulous moments with Mira Davis ’23, who took over the role of Tanya after the original actor graduated last spring. Davis’ flirtatious character and superb voice control made her the perfect match for Tanya, and her ability to jump into the role on short notice is commendable. 

“Mamma Mia!” would not be the same without the talents of the ensemble. The cast added comedy, background singing and some hilarious choreography that transformed the Boe Chapel plaza into a stage. Additionally, the show incorporated some friendly nods to the pandemic guidelines. Actors wore face shields and adjusted all of the choreography so that they never touched one another. 

Overall, “Mamma Mia!” was an excellent way for students to temporarily escape the stress of classes and take advantage of a cool Saturday to watch a performance. The sound team worked with the windy atmosphere as best as they could, and “Mamma Mia!” truly showcased the tenacity of the students and staff involved. 

The cast performs Mamma Mia! on the front steps of Boe Chapel. Madelyn Wood/The Olaf Messenger
Categories: Colleges

Pandemic! in the Men’s Room

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 5:05pm

The old building where I’ve worked my whole time at Carleton is being renovated this year, so we’ve relocated to slightly less old building that boasts all of two restrooms. I dunno about the women’s, but the men’s has two stalls – done up in heavy, dark wood like a lavatory at Hogwarts – which under the new pandemic rules, has the capacity for just one, uh, user at a time. Barging in and knocking didn’t work very well to determine occupancy, so a colleague installed a four-phase system for using the restroom.

Phase I: Arrive and flip the occupancy sign to red:

Phase 2: Do your business and as you leave, let Uncle Sam remind you to flip the sign over:

Phase 3: Immediately forget to flip the sign over, but be reminded by the other sign, pinned to the bulletin board straight across the corridor:

Phase 4: Flip the sign back to green and walk away, wondering if touching the sign negated the 20 seconds of hand washing:

The post Pandemic! in the Men’s Room appeared first on Blowing & Drifting.

Categories: Citizens

Lawsuit: Physicians violated standards of care, hospital fired whistleblower

Northfield News - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 4:30pm
A former Northfield Hospital & Clinics nurse is alleging that the hospital violated the state’s Whistleblower Act by firing her as she tried to sound the alarm about improper surgical techniques and delayed followup visits, leaving patients at greater risk…
Categories: Local News
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