The Alex Trebek Legacy: A Follow-up

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post honoring the great Alex Trebek. At that point, he had been suffering from stage 4 pancreatic cancer for a year. I was constantly impressed by the fact that his diagnosis did not at all diminish the charm and wit that he was famous for exhibiting during his time hosting Jeopardy. Even though I knew Mr. Trebek was a hell of a fighter and thus wasn’t going anywhere for a while, I wanted to reflect on the immense impact that he had on my life. I discussed in the blog how he fostered my love for learning and for knowledge, and I encouraged other people to find someone that makes them as excited and curious about the world as Alex Trebek made me. 

Flash forward to last night, I was on the phone with my sweet boyfriend, and the topic of curiosity came up. He described to me a podcast he had listened to that talked about how the American school system essentially destroys kids’ natural curiosity. As he talked, I started to feel really bummed, for I realized that my own curiosity had really vanished over the last few months. I don’t know if it was the pandemic, the craziness of school, or the challenges I’ve gone through mentally over the last few months- All I knew was that I couldn’t remember the last time I felt the love for learning that I used to feel on a daily basis. I used to watch documentaries about US presidents in my free time, listen to psychology Ted Talks on my runs, and stay very up to date with the news. I realized during that phone call that I don’t do all that stuff too often anymore. Before I knew it, I was in tears. I said to Andrew that I just miss the feeling of wanting to want to learn something, and though he reassured me that such wording meant that my curiosity is nowhere near gone, I don’t know if I fully believed him. Nonetheless, I calmed down and told myself that I would try to work on getting that love for learning back once finals ended. 

This morning, I couldn’t figure out why I was so emotional during the previous night’s conversation. Then, I saw the news about Trebek’s passing, and everything made a whole lot more sense. 

I’m not a big believer in signs from the universe, but this felt like one. It would have been easy for me to deem last night as simply an instance of me being overdramatic.  It would have been easy for me to make excuses and blame my rigorous course load for my lack of desire to learn in my free time. It would have been easy for me to keep putting off re-finding my love for learning. Mr. Trebek did not let me do that though, and I’m really appreciative of him for that. Though I would give anything to somehow bring him back to the physical world, Trebek’s death reminded me for good that I can never afford to lose that curiosity ever again. After telling my parents the news and letting myself cry some much needed tears, I put all my homework aside and just listened to a podcast. It was about climate change, a topic that I have opinions on but honestly do not know much about. I learned a lot in those 15 minutes, and it felt so good to be learning it for me and my curiosity. Not for a grade or to impress others with my knowledge- just for me. I’m promising myself that I’ll make time every single dang day from now on to explore like this. It creates a sense of fulfillment that I cannot quite put into words, and I’m very thankful Mr. Trebek helped me discover it back then and remember it today. 

Rather than try to reword my message from a year ago, I’m simply going to copy and paste a section from that post that I especially stand by and want to reiterate to honor the beloved host: 

“To anyone else whose screen this post pops up on, I hope you find someone who encourages you to learn the way Trebek has encouraged me and many others to. We can’t be experts on everything, but there’s a world of knowledge out there for us to delve into, and we owe it to ourselves to take in as much of it as possible since it’s right at our fingertips most of the time. Trebek once said, “My life has been a quest for knowledge and understanding, and I am nowhere near having achieved that. And it doesn’t bother me in the least. I will die without having come up with the answers to many things in life.” We can’t learn everything, but we can learn a whole damn lot. And when we make our lives centered on a motivation to learn more and more, we become better, more empathetic and aware people and contributors to this crazy, opinionated, and often ignorant world. So whether it’s turning on your tv at 7 o’clock every night and taking in information from a Jeopardy category, reading the daily news from a variety of sources, or simply meeting new people and hearing their stories, I hope you choose to learn. It’s not my place to say so, but I think that’s the kind of world Trebek wants to be proud to call his own.”

I don’t think I knew back then how much I would eventually need to reread and internalize my own words, but here we are. 

My heart is really sad knowing that such a remarkable man is gone from the physical world. I struggle with the fact that someone as genuinely good of a person as Alex Trebek had such a painful end to his life. He got 80 years, which is more than a lot of people get, but if there’s anyone who deserves to live forever, or at least not die from cancer, it’s Alex Trebek. The man was in the studio filming Jeopardy episodes up until ten days ago- Who else in this world has that kind of dedication? He focused on his contestants up until the very end, never drawing more attention to himself than he felt beneficial. He was the kind of person who you might not know personally, but you simultaneously feel like you know on a bigger level.  I know that viewers all over the world will take his legacy and let it live through them, but it still doesn’t feel like enough. 

In an interview, Trebek said that he wanted to be remembered as “A decent guy who did his best to help the contestants perform their best.” I think it’s safe to say he will be remembered for much more than that. Viewers all over the country and world will remember him as a polite, insightful, appreciative, and hardworking man. I will remember him as all of that and more. I will remember him as one of my heroes, the person that taught me what it means to want to understand the world, and an epitome of the kind person I will always try to become. 

Thank you for everything, Mr. Trebek. You will be so very missed.

Why The Dark Place May Feel Harder To Escape Lately

Last week, I was on a walk in the park with a friend talking about COVID-19 (there’s not much else to discuss these days, is there?), when he said something that really resonated with me. As we discussed the implications that this virus has on mental health, he reasoned, “never have we had so much in common with each other yet felt so utterly alone at the same time.” He couldn’t be more correct. I don’t think it serves as much of a surprise to anyone, but people are struggling mentally now more than ever. Obviously, the coronavirus has awful physical implications, but the pandemic as a whole has had more effects on the mind than we even realize. While many people have found productive ways to cope with the unknown, from exercising to taking summer classes, many other people have found it increasingly difficult to make the most of these times. Certain friends of mine who I used to describe to others as the absolute epitome of happiness are now on anti-depressants. Other friends who I looked to as sources of strength now tell me about the anxiety attacks they wake up with every morning. I’m in no way saying that everyone is now mentally ill, but the majority of people I know have more bad days than ever before. I couldn’t understand why our brains weren’t just adapting like they adapt to plenty of other challenges until I read a post that said that our brains are just literally not programmed to face a situation like this one. The phrase “unprecedented times” applies to mental health issues too. 

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A Beauty and The Beast Phenomenon- Why Regular Women Fall For Serial Killers

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My senior year of high school consisted of way too many coffee runs. Don’t get me wrong- each and every individual coffee venture has enriched my life by blessing that particular day with extra flavor and caffeine. However, one particular Starbucks run had a rather large influence in shaping what is now a pretty big passion of mine. 

My friend and I were catching up in Starbucks after our weekly mentoring session when she asked me if I had ever seen the Ted Bundy Tapes, the new Netflix documentary series everyone was talking about. Before that day, I was already very much interested in the legal side of crime, but I knew very little about the serial killing sector of crime. I told her I hadn’t seen the series, and that I didn’t even know who Ted Bundy was. She gave me a brief synopsis of the documentary and told me I absolutely HAD to watch it. So I did- I watched the whole documentary in one weekend, and as horrible as it initially sounds, I couldn’t get enough. 

I was so excited to tell all my other friends that they too had to watch this series, but often when I would recommend it to people, I would be met with the classic “Oh, so you’re another white girl that’s in love with Ted Bundy” stereotype. I was initially really confused when I got this response, for I couldn’t comprehend that there are actually fandoms of girls who swoon over a man who so brutally and mercilessly killed over 30 women. I genuinely believe my interest in this man and the crimes he represents stems from a psychological and sociological approach (those are literally my college majors…and also even if he wasn’t a serial killer, Bundy physically is just not.my.type). Nonetheless, if someone wants to psychoanalyze me and tell me I’m lying to myself, feel free. 

Anyways, I still wanted to understand why there is a world out there full of women who fall for men like Bundy, and why so many women are interested in true crime in general. Is this fascination, and in extreme cases, obsessive adoration, innate or learned? If it’s just a matter of curiosity, why don’t men dedicate as much time as women to understanding killers?  Is there something wrong with these women, or is something wrong with society for looking down on them? Though there’s not one clear theory that explains it all, my Google venture led me to some really interesting perspectives. 

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10 Steps to Tackling Breakups

 

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There’s no right way to get through a breakup. Just like there’s no right way to make a first move or tell someone you like them, this aspect of love has no singular correct path. There’s also no time period in which you NEED to be over a breakup. I am a big believer in taking your time through the grieving process. However, you should still put a little bit of work in to feel as best you can with every passing day of the process. I can’t claim to be an expert on breakups, but like a lot of us, I’ve experienced how hard they can be. A psychologist or love expert could probably provide much more credible information about how to best cope with one, but I also think there’s a level of relatability that comes from getting these tips from a peer. Nothing helped me more during my own breakups than getting advice from people I knew and trusted who had been in similar positions. So no matter what side of the breakup you’re on, I hope these tips give you some tangible steps you can take to get through a chapter of your life that likely won’t be easy. 

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Why Just Mercy is Much More Than a Film

This past Tuesday night consisted of rushing to eat dinner, driving with my mom to the movie theater, seeing a film based on my favorite book of all time, driving home in the fog, folding laundry, and ending the night by shaving my legs. Like a lot of girls, shaving is a pretty normal occurrence for me, and I don’t usually think much of it. That night, however, a very weird wave of uneasiness came over me as I began to shave, and after about 10 minutes, I realized why that wave was hitting me: In the movie I watched hours earlier, someone else was having their legs shaved too. However, for this person, the shaving was not voluntary. This person was getting their whole body shaved in preparation for being put to death by an electric chair. His name was Herbert Richardson, and he was one of the death row inmates who attorney Bryan Stevenson represented in the movie Just Mercy. The horror on Richardson’s face as the prison guards shaved him from head to toe to speed up the electric current was extremely prolific, and it made me look at the simple act of shaving my legs through a completely different lens.

Herbert Richardson was an Alabama man sentenced to the death penalty after a bomb that he created and delivered killed a young girl. Richardson had an extremely traumatic childhood, yet he chose to rise above the trauma and do good with his life by enlisting in the military and going off to the Vietnam War. The young man was extremely psychologically traumatized during the war, leading to his honorable discharge. Upon returning home, his PTSD exponentially increased. At one of the hospitals he stayed at, Richardson met and fell in love with one of his nurses. They dated for a while before she tried to cut off contact with him. Not able to think clearly, Richardson devised a plan to win her back. He would construct a bomb, leave it on her porch in a box, detonate it, but save the nurse just in time. He had experience with bombs in the war, and he didn’t see this plan going wrong. Except it did. A little girl inside the nurse’s house saw the box on the porch, picked it up, shook it, and was killed instantly. Richardson, who was watching from across the street, was horrified. He had not intended to murder anyone, let alone a little girl. The courts, however, didn’t pay much attention to this. Nor did they pay attention to his deep psychological trauma. Nor did they pay attention to the honorable discharge and his dedication to fighting for the country. They saw a cold-blooded killer, put him on death row, and sent an electric wave through his body to kill him as revenge. Even the help and expertise of Bryan Stevenson and his team wasn’t enough to save this man. This is what the death penalty looks like in Alabama. As I watched his story play out on the screen, I had to keep reminding myself that this actually happened in real life. You would think that no court would overlook so much good and only focus on the bad, but as Richardson’s story proves, a system so ingrained in racism and discrimination often does just that.

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The Alex Trebek Legacy

One night in March of my junior year of high school, my friends and I skipped out on going to our school’s annual charity dance (also known as our school’s annual mini rave/make-out-fest) and instead decided to stay in, order a pizza, and watch some television. Upon arriving at my friend Allison’s house, we quickly turned on the one show the three of us loved to pieces- Jeopardy.

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So, How is College?

Coming home from college after your first semester is full of catching up on sleep, reconnecting with high school friends, and answering the dreaded “so…how is college?” question. To be perfectly honest, I dreaded this question for the longest time, for college hasn’t been anything like I thought it would be. In a lot of ways, my first few months at William and Mary have been amazing, and in other ways, they have challenged me in ways I didn’t think I could handle. Answering this loaded question can’t be done with a simple explanation, so I figured I’d come on here and write about it to try to put into words the craziness that has been the past four months of my life. Let’s go piece by piece.

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My First Half Marathon

Last year after the cross country season ended, my friends from school and I considered the idea of running a half marathon together. When we first talked about the idea of it, I was super excited. I love running long distances, and I thought that training for it together with some of my favorite people would be really enjoyable. However, senior year was SO busy, and since the only half marathon near us coincided with the spring track season, this dream of ours never came to fruition.

A little less than a year later, I joined my college’s running club (go blitz!!). Since everyone on this team is so wonderfully badass, it’s no surprise that as early as September, many members were talking about their plans to run the Richmond Half (and full) Marathon. As a newcomer, I didn’t know if I had what it took to run a whole 13.1 miles. My longest run up to that point was about 9 miles, but I hadn’t hit those distances in years. Still, I decided I would start training.

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No Time to Mull

For weeks now, I have been looking forward to this moment. I am sitting in the window seat on my train home to Pennsylvania, listening to Allen stone, and doing one of my favorite things in the world: writing. Most people would think of a 7-hour trip home as exhausting and boring, but for me, these next 7 hours are going to be extremely therapeutic.

During my past month and a half at William and Mary, I haven’t had much time to write. Any free minute I got was spent either catching up on Dancing with the Stars or playing Heads Up with my hallmates, and I wasn’t able to dedicate a solid chunk of time to writing. I’m happy I was present in those moments, but holy moly, I really missed the feeling of spilling my heart out via keyboard.

While I’d love to outline all the crazy, amazing experiences I’ve had over the past few weeks, I’d rather save those stories for my in-person interactions with everyone from home. The one point I want to focus this post on is a theme that has been really prevalent in my past few weeks, and one that has made me have a bit of a paradigm shift: There isn’t enough time in college to mull over your emotions, and I can’t tell if that’s super healthy or super unhealthy.

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How to Have the Best Senior Year Possible

Seniors, seniors, seniors. You have quite the year ahead of you. Finishing up your SAT’s, sending in those college applications, embarking on that fun senior trip (if your school is lucky enough  to give you one), getting to slack off after AP exams. It’s a crazy year to say the least. Some say it’s the best year of high school, others say it doesn’t live up to the hype. That’s for you to figure out…but as I sit here waiting to move into my college dorm in just 4 short days, I figured I’d let you rising seniors in on some pieces of advice that I wish I heard as I prepared for year 12 of my education.

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