Of Bees & Stings

By Molly K. Lichtner, 2/26/17

Vince has been keeping bees for fifty years.  I have been keeping bees for two and a half months.  The temperature in the hot August sun is at least 95 degrees, and wearing the veil, it feels more than double that.  The honey bees feel the heat too; most of them are clumped on the front of their hives in a desperate attempt to lower the temperature inside.  It’s called bearding, but I always think they look more like water droplets forming and about to fall.  Every once in a while, a breeze picks up and I stop what I’m doing to lift my head.  The wind pierces through to my face and I have the briefest moment of relief.  We are doing sugar shakes in order to count the number of varroa mites in each hive.  All 15 of them.  The process of a sugar shake is simple: cover a half cup of bees with powdered sugar in a mason jar, replace the mesh lid, shake, and count how many mites fall out.  Repeat for each hive or until you feel like you’re going to die from heat exhaustion.  It’s a more dangerous than delicious recipe.  What fascinates me is how many honey bees are in half a cup.  About 300 of them are in the jar, scrambling and climbing over each other, like tiny and confused white ghosts with a penchant for nectar.  When I’m done with the jar I dump the sugared bees out into the top of their hive.  They start cleaning the sugar off of each other.  They are all happy to be home.  Except for one.

“Sugar cubes!”

Bee stings feel like bullets when you don’t expect them.

Vince turns and looks at me.

“You can use stronger language if you want to.  I know how badly they hurt.  Where did she get you?”

“S***!  My arm.  Ooh, that burns!”

The initial pain only lasts for about 30 seconds but it feels more like hours.  I scrape the stinger out and douse myself with the smoker, as a futile attempt to protect myself from more stings.  The smoke masks the pheromones that the now deceased bee released when she stung me.  I feel like I smell like a wood barbeque.


Each sting elicits a fight or flight response; that’s exactly what the bees want.  Sting the predator enough times and they’ll retreat, although I try not to retreat for long.  Vince gets stung, scrapes it out, and keeps moving; I envy his tenacity and vigor.  I guess that’s what 50 years of bee stings will do to you.

As my arm beings to swell, I look at it more closely.  I’m thankful that it’s not on my dominant arm but I’m annoyed that it’s in the same spot I was stung yesterday.  I’m beginning to look like a balloon.  A big, red, itchy balloon.  One sting would be enough to make anyone swear off honey bees forever and sometimes I consider it.  Each sting brings up a fury of emotions but I can never stay angry for long.  She was just doing her job.  She died for the good of her hive.

“How many mites did that hive have?”

Vince starts talking to me and I snap back to reality.

“Oh.  Uh, just seven.  No treatment necessary.”

“Great!  Excuse me ladies, move out of the way.”

Vince smokes the hive he’s working on so the bees move back into off the lip of the box.  They grumble with each puff.  The hive sounds like a miniature motorcycle revving.  Vince treats all of the bees with the utmost respect.  They are all “ladies” and the queens are all “momma.”  I find myself calling them that even when he’s not around.  Everything I have learned about them has come from him.

A bee lands on me and I feel the tickle of her wings and feet.  One bee by herself is not a threat.  Up close, she is fuzzy and small and complex.  Up close, I love her.  She found the powdered sugar residue from when I spilled it on my sweaty arm.  For her this is a delightful treat.  For me it is an inconvenience because I don’t have the heart to shake her off.

“Can you help me put this box back on?  It’s full of honey.”

We each take a side and put it cattycorner on the other boxes of the hive.  I slide it into place, put the inner cover on, and finally place the outer cover on top.  Vince is already prying the lid off of another hive.  I get the mason jar ready.

Review of Lady Gaga’s Album – Joanne

By: Johanna Marano February 26, 2017

I have been a Lady Gaga fan since the very beginning. She is highly talented and well acclaimed in the music industry. At the end of 2016 she released her fifth studio album, which I plan to take a look at right now. But before we get into her latest album, let me give you some background info on her if you aren’t as familiar with her.

Lady Gaga is her stage name; but to friends and family, she is known as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. To her fans, she is Mother Monster. She is the one who gets us to raise our paws no matter who we are because together we are one. Lady Gaga is a New York native singer, songwriter, and actress.

She first received international fame in 2008 with her debut album, The Fame, with singles that topped the music charts. In 2009, she released her follow-up EP, The Fame Monster. Again, this received similar reception with multiple successful singles. Her second full-length album, Born This Way, was released in 2011. She released her third album, Artpop, in 2013. Once again, both her second and third studio albums had chart toping singles. Her fourth album, Cheek to Cheek, was a collaborative jazz album with renowned artist Tony Bennett. They released that album in 2014. She then took a break from music and starred in the television series American Horror Story: Hotel. Then at the end of 2016 is when she graced us all with her fifth album, Joanne. Her most recent event was when she performed at the Super Bowl 51 Halftime Show, which has been noted to be the most viewed musical event in history.

Lady Gaga is known for continually experimenting with new musical ideas and images. Over the years she has received much analysis and scrutiny from the critics on her performances, as well as her fashion choices. Her songs have for a majority of the time touched on very controversial topics such as sex, love, religion, money, drugs, identity, liberation, sexuality, freedom, and individualism. This is one of the aspects of Lady Gaga that I admire and love so much. She is not afraid to push boundaries and stand up for what she believes in. However, what people cannot deny is her level of talent and skill.

So today, I am here to take a look at her most recent album, Joanne. From the moment she announced she would be releasing an album, it was highly anticipated. I know that I personally could not wait for it to be released. The last time she released a solo album was three years ago and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what to expect. I feel every album that Lady Gaga has released has been different, each having a very unique sound.

I have to say I was not disappointed when I finally heard the entire album. It is full of such raw emotion; you can’t help but get the feels by listening to it. It has a more stripped-down and soft rock feel with touches of country and folk, which is very different from her over the top dancey songs from the past. Of course there are some upbeat songs on the album that make you want to get up and dance. But overall, the album definitely has a different feel than what she has produced in the past. There are three songs in particular that I want to take a look at.

Image result for lady gaga joanne

The first is actually her first single off the album, which is “Perfect Illusion”. Despite the song speaking of how something you thought was so great that in reality it really wasn’t, it is still so upbeat. It is definitely an anthem for anyone who has been fooled when it comes to love but realized where they went wrong. Hiding behind the upbeat sound, you can still feel the power and emotion that Lady Gaga puts into it.

The second song is a “Million Reasons”, which is unquestionably more pure and stripped-down. It is not hard to hear the struggles she feels through this song. This particular song talks to how she has had countless reason as to why she should walk away from something that she loved. However, if she was given one really good reason to stay she would. When I first heard this track, I thought it was in reference to her ex-fiancé because they had recently put their engagement on hold and were going to go their separate ways. But now that I think about it, I wonder if it is really in reference to her fame. To my knowledge there have been moments when Lady Gaga has wanted to give up and walk away from it all. Living the life she does, where she is under constant criticism from the media can be unimaginably difficult. But she stays and continues to create for us, her little monsters.

The final song I want to take a look at is “Joanne”, the title song off the album. As I mentioned earlier, Joanne is actually Lady Gaga’s middle name. But the Joanne that Lady Gaga is referring to is her late aunt, her father’s sister. It is such a touching ballad about how much she needs and misses her despite never getting the chance to meet her. Her aunt passed at nineteen from lupus and was a sexual assault survivor. Lady Gaga herself has tested borderline positive for lupus but fortunately does not experience any symptoms of it. She is also a sexual assault survivor herself. By listening to this song, you can just feel the close connection she has to her aunt.

Once again, Lady Gaga gives us an album very different from anything she has done in the past. It is a reminder to the world of why we need her and just how incredible of an artist she truly is. I will always look up to Mother Monster and look forward to the music she creates in the future. My little monster paws will forever be raised to her.

The Hamsters That Just Won’t

By: Johanna Marano February 26, 2017

I am senior here at Delaware Valley University. I will be graduating in May with a degree in Small Animal Science with an English minor. As a part of my major’s curriculum, I am currently enrolled in a reproduction course. This course is to cover the basic principles of reproduction in both small and large animals. It focuses on the areas of endocrinology, gamete physiology, andrology, fertilization, and assisted reproduction techniques. We have to be familiar with normal reproduction in males and females, understand the control and manipulation of animal reproduction, and know the basic procedures for breeding animals. So as you can kind of see, it involves a lot more than just putting two animals together and hoping they breed.

One of the components of the class is to actual breed two animals of your choice. My partner and I have chosen to breed hamsters. The small animal labs on campus do not have many hamsters and are looking for more. So we figured if we could successfully breed our hamsters, the lab would have more hamster babies to work with.

When my teacher first explained the breeding project, it seemed easy enough, especially for hamsters. All you had to do was put the male and the female together in a cage and they would just, well you know, go at it. The only slight complication would be that the male had no clue what was going, but with a little coaxing from the female he would eventually get the hang of it. Then once they started to do their thing, it would be next to impossible to get to them stop. They would go at it for six or seven times, which by that point you needed to just pull them away from each other.

Well let me tell you folks, it is NOT that easy. For whatever reason, all of the female hamsters down in the lab want nothing to do with the act of reproducing or I guess the responsibilities of being a mother.

My partner and I placed our female hamster with a prospective male and were highly disappointed. We thought our timing was impeccable given that our hamster was in estrous, meaning she was at the prime time for mating. But when we placed her in separate cage with the male, she was not in the mood. The male, who is usually clueless, was very engaged and ready to get it on. Our female on the other hand, sniffed a little bit and that was it. Otherwise she ran around the cage like a lunatic, while the male desperately tried to mate with her. She let him try over and over again, until finally she snapped and tried to attack him. When that happened we immediately pulled them apart and play time was over.

We tried to get them to mate twice and both times played out as I described above. Maybe it was because we tried twice in one day and the time span in between the two times was not super long. It was a few hours max. But our optimal window for her to be in estrous was running out and we were trying to make the most of our time. We will have to wait another four or five days until she was back in estrous again.

So as of right now, there are no potential hamster babies. But it is not only us; the other groups are struggling with their females too. Our teacher plans on purchasing a substance that can be given to the female that will hopefully entice and encourage them when they are placed with their male counterpart. We will continue trying and hopefully before the end of the semester I will end up with some baby hammies. So please send happy thoughts and prayers mine and my hamster’s way. We need it!

Themes of Control, Patriarchy, & Domination in Henrik Isben’s A Doll House

By Molly K. Lichtner, 2/25/17

A mother’s work is never done.  For Nora Helmer from Henrik Isben’s A Doll House, this is very true.  Because Nora and her husband Torvald Helmer, the newly appointed bank manager, are well off enough to be able to afford a live-in nanny for their three children, Nora’s work is done elsewhere; she is a servant to the patriarchy that her husband rules.  Nora’s ties and debts to her husband contribute to her endless work, forcing her to become permanently entwined Torvald’s never ending biddings.  After the patriarchy crumbles and Nora is freed, she is completely justified in leaving solely because of the way she was treated by her husband.

Many people blame Nora for the problems strewn throughout the play and as Joan Templeton, author of “The Doll House Backlash: Criticism, Feminism, and Ibsen” states: “The most popular way to render Nora inconsequential has been to attack her morality…”  Throughout the text, Nora uses lying in order to get by, from the small fib of blaming her friend Mrs. Linde for bringing Macaroons into the house to the gargantuan lie of forging her father’s signature on a loan document.  It is her husband who does not want her to have cookies because she’ll rot her teeth.  She obtains the loan from Krogstad so she and her family can survive while Torvald is deathly ill, although this is something that he did not know about but would highly disapprove of if he did.  It is also implied through a conversation between Nora and Torvald that Nora was secretly doing extra work on the side to earn more money:

TORVALD.  Do you remember last Christmas?  For three full weeks beforehand you shut yourself up every evening till long after midnight, making ornaments for the Christmas Tree and all the other fine things that were to be a surprise to us.  It was the dullest three weeks I ever spent!

NORA.  I didn’t find it dull.

TORVALD.  [smiling]. But there was precious little result, Nora.

NORA.  Oh, you shouldn’t tease me about that again.  How could I help the cat’s going in and tearing everything to pieces?

TORVALD.  Of course you couldn’t, poor little girl.  You had the best of intentions to please us all, and that’s the main thing.  But it is a good thing that our hard times are over.

Although never implicitly stated by Nora, it can be garnered that she was not working on Christmas gifts and instead was bringing work home in order to earn some more money during the financial hardships Torvald mentions.  Nora does not do these things maliciously; she does them to protect herself from Torvald’s wrath.  She uses lying as a defense mechanism in order to still be seen as Torvald’s “sweet little skylark.”  While living under Torvald’s rule, lying becomes a second nature for Nora, a kind of survival method, which shows that she had to protect herself from Torvald’s fury in multiple aspects of her life.

Besides controlling her day to day life, Torvald talks down to Nora almost as if she were his child and not his wife.  He often calls her by demeaning nicknames, controls her spending, dictates what she is allowed to eat, tells her what to wear, and even at one point refers to her as a child, but most disturbingly he fetishizes her:

TORVALD.  Yes, my own darling Nora.  Do you know, when I am out at a party with you like this, why I speak so little to you, keep away from you, and only send a stolen   glance in your direction now and then? – do you know why I do that?  It is because I make believe to myself that we are secretly in love, and you are my secretly promised bride, and that no one suspects there is anything between us.

NORA.  Yes, yes—I know very well that your thoughts are with me all the time.

TORVALD.  And when we are leaving and I am putting the shawl over your beautiful young shoulders—on your lovely neck—then I imagine that you are my young bride and that we have just come from the wedding, and I am bringing you for the first time into our home—to be alone with you for the first time…

Torvald sees Nora as a plaything—not as his wife, not as his partner, and most certainly not his equal.  For Torvald, Nora exists for one reason only: to please him.  Their marriage is a farce, only in place because Torvald is an insatiable lecher who will not take no for an answer:

            NORA.  Go away Torvald!  You must let me go.  I won’t—

            TORVALD.  What’s that?  You’re joking my little Nora!  You won’t—you won’t?                 Am I not your husband?

Torvald is ready to take Nora against her will because she is his wife.  In his mind she is his property which proves how twisted their relationship is.  Nora is not an object; she is a human being.

Torvald does not care for Nora as a human being.  He is controlling and manipulative toward her and does not allow her to make her own decisions.  Nora is justified in leaving him at the end of A Doll House because he does not treat her with respect.  Nora is his toy and nothing more.  She is a cog in the factory of his patriarchy.  For Torvald, Nora is a supporting character when she should be in a lead role as his wife.  In order to live fully as her own person, Nora needed to free herself from her toxic relationship with Torvald because sometimes, Father doesn’t know best.

Five Reptiles for First-Time Owners

Image result for leopard gecko

by Brandon Eckerd

Reptiles make for fascinating and endearing pets that do not require the same amount of attention as cats, dogs, and birds. They are safe for people with severe allergies or asthma. Many species can be handled safely by children over the age of five. However, choosing your own or your child’s first pet reptile can be a daunting task. Hundreds of different species are offered throughout the country through pet stores, reptile shows and private breeders. A large number of these species require specific diets or husbandry to keep healthy and are unsuitable for inexperienced keepers. This list includes some of the more common animals available. These animals are well-suited for first time keepers, due to temperament, availability and ease of care.

Crested Gecko (Correlophus ciliatus)

This common gecko is from the island of New Caledonia, but wild-caught individuals are virtually non-existent due to its protected status in its native range. This species breeds readily in captivity and is available at many chain pet stores. This species can grow to six to eight inches, including the tail, although the tail can be lost. Unlike other lizards, crested geckos cannot regenerate their tail. Babies tend to be intolerant of handling, but adults are often much calmer. These geckos are excellent jumpers and climbers, so plenty of vertical space is a must for their enclosure. Offer hiding places in fake or real plants or upright logs for this nocturnal animal to rest during the daytime. These personable lizards are suitable for people who are squeamish about live insects, since they can be fed a powdered diet. This powder is mixed with water and fed in a dish for the gecko to lick up. Crested geckos will eat crickets, roaches and other insects if offered. This species lives comfortably at room temperature and about 50-70% humidity. Crested geckos come in a wide range of colors and patterns, but these individuals are only common at reptile shows or from private breeders.

Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus)

Possibly the most common pet snake in the United States, the corn snake’s ease of care and gentle temperament make it the ideal first snake for children and adults alike. This species can easily reach five feet, but are docile enough to be handled despite their size. These long snakes need a lot of space (a 20-gallon tank is the minimum for a five-foot animal) and a large hiding place. All snakes require some kind of shelter to reduce their stress. These snakes like a temperature gradient, with the warm end of their enclosure being 85 degrees Fahrenheit and the cooler end in the low 70s. This can be achieved with a lamp or under-tank heater. A rheostat is recommended for under-tank heaters, as some brands may get hot enough to burn your pet without proper ventilation. Corn snakes can be kept on newspaper, but prefer a burrowing substrate like shredded aspen. Never use pine or cedar with reptiles; respiratory and toxicity issues arise with pine and cedar beddings. Corn snakes eat rodents, but most snakes will take pre-killed frozen rodents that are thawed to room temperature. These widely available snakes come in many affordable colorations. Baby corn snakes are fast and flighty, so handling should be limited to only a few minutes. As the snake grows, it can be handled for longer periods of time.

Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)

While the leopard gecko lacks the sticky feet and climbing ability of other geckos, it still makes for a fascinating pet. These lizards can live comfortably in a ten-gallon tank. Most geckos will max out at about 7 inches in length, including the tail, but some individuals can reach an astonishing 10 inches. Leopard geckos are exclusive insectivores; crickets make an excellent staple for their diet. Mealworms, roaches and waxworms can be offered as occasional treats. All insects needed to be dusted with vitamin and/or calcium supplement, readily available at most large pet stores, to provide the gecko with essential calcium. A under-tank heat pad with a rheostat is ideal for these geckos. Leopard geckos require a humid hide for shedding and another hide for shelter. Leopard geckos are less tolerable of handling compared to other commonly kept lizards, so any attempt to handle your gecko should be limited to a few minutes. These geckos come in greater color variety than possibly any other pet reptile, and most are under $100 as babies.

Tricolored Milksnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum hondurensis, L. t. campbelli, L. t. nelsoni)

“Tricolor” refers to any species that has a pattern of red, black and yellow bands going down its body, but the three subspecies listed are the most common in pet stores. Milksnakes cannot be kept together; they are natural snake-eaters and cannibalism is possible outside the breeding season. Their care is almost identical to that of the corn snake, although most milksnakes will not exceed four feet in length. Heat is the most important aspect of a snake’s environment, as without it they cannot digest their food. These snakes thrive at room humidity, but misting may help snakes with shedding. You can tell if a snake is about to shed because it will become less active and have a blue tint over its eyes. Avoid handling snakes about to shed, as they are easily stressed. Milksnakes accept rodents and can be fed thawed mice once a week. Younger snakes should be fed younger mice, with babies taking “pinkie” mice.  Milksnakes can be squirmy when they are under two feet in length, but larger snakes can tolerate extended periods of handling. The beautiful natural coloring of these snakes makes them among the prettiest of pet snakes, but albino milksnakes and other colorations are still available.

Painted Turtle (Chrysemys species)

Turtles and tortoises present a number of issues as pets, but the most easily kept are probably the painted turtles. Some species may be unavailable in certain states, but generally painted turtles show up periodically at pet stores and reptile shows. All turtles require a basking light to maintain their body temperature. Their light (or lights) must give off both UVA and UVB wavelengths. Without these special lights, turtles cannot produce Vitamin D and fail to properly develop their shells. Their basking spot should reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Painted turtles may eat fish, worms or turtle pellets. Aquatic turtle pellets are the most nutritious of all their feeding options, although occasional feedings of live fish and romaine lettuce will simulate the animal’s natural diet. A filter is a must for these messy turtles to ensure good water quality. At least a fourth, and no more than half, of their water should be changed every week. A full water change is required once a month to also clean the tank. These turtles can easily reach 10 inches and adults may require 40 or more gallons. Painted turtles have a lot of personality, but handling is not recommended. These pets are better observed.

These may be some of the best reptiles for beginners, but always consult other care guides and manuals available online and in books before purchasing your pet. I cannot provide all the information required to properly care for these animals in this blog, but hopefully I was able to make your choice about your next pet a little easier.

Arielle’s Birth

By: Anna Merezhko, February 24, 2017

The whole story of my daughter’s birth is a bit of a blur. It went by so fast even though at the time, it felt like forever. I woke up on May 18th, 2015 from a very sharp pain in my stomach and got up to use the bathroom, but as I did, I felt a trickle of water go down my legs. For a minute, I was confused. My bladder still felt full. I definitely did NOT just piss myself, I thought.

I knew what this could be but it felt unreal to say it out loud. I nudged my husband and told him that my water broke. In the time it took for me to glance at my legs and back up at him, he shot out of bed and was on his feet. He started speaking quickly and quietly.

“Call the gynecologist. Ask them what you should do,” he said.

I was due for an appointment that day at 12 p.m. so I called. I told them that my water broke and asked if they wanted me to come in for the appointment. They told me to call the hospital and tell them I’m on my way in.

I called the hospital and by the time I convinced them that yes, my water did break, and no I wasn’t pissing myself repeatedly, about an hour passed. All the while, my husband was nervously pacing at my side, and whispering that he knew I should have got my hospital bag ready early.

I was 37 weeks at the time, so my daughter was 3 weeks early. Had she been born two days before, at 36 weeks, she would’ve been considered premature. For some reason, I thought I would be that pregnant lady who was 42 weeks along, trying to induce labor by eating spicy food and bouncing on a ball. I thought I would have at least another three weeks to pack a hospital bag.

So here we were- no hospital bag, panicked husband, and surprisingly calm but irritated pregnant wife. Andrew, my husband, was freaking out that we wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time. He heard too many stories about women giving birth in cars, I guess. He googled what we need in a hospital bag and quickly started throwing it together. I picked out my change of clothes and the baby’s newborn outfit, but amidst the panic, picked out a 3-month old size, not newborn (this we realized after she was born because her clothes were ridiculously big.) I don’t know why we thought this would be a fast process, but we were very, very wrong.

As we got into the car, I started feeling these little evil things called contractions and was overjoyed at how painless they seemed. I remember saying to Andrew, “If this is what labor feels like, it’ll be a piece of cake. I’ve had period cramps worse than this.”

How naive I was. I must have thought I had this insanely high pain tolerance or that every woman on the planet grossly exaggerated the pain of childbirth. I quickly came to learn that neither was true.

At the hospital, I was getting really uncomfortable. They were taking so long to check me in. They wanted all my insurance information and I had to fill out a bunch of papers. I thought they were insane. When do they lay me on a gurney and rush me down the hall screaming medical jargon, as I clutch at the metal bars and writhe in pain? I thought. They are so calm. They must think I’m not in labor because I’m not screaming.

Once they checked me in, they made sure that my water did, in fact, break. It was around 8:00 a.m. and they told me I was 3 cm dilated. I waited a bit longer until they moved me to my own room. Then it was a waiting game.

I remember 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. going by impossibly slow, like sickly-nearly-paralyzed-snail slow. Those evil little contractions all-too-quickly became hell on Earth. I couldn’t think from the pain. I couldn’t form thoughts in my head. I was slowly waddling to the bathroom every 5 minutes because I was having diarrhea and I was bleeding. After I saw the blood, I started freaking out. What if I was bleeding too soon? Am I supposed to be bleeding now? If I’m bleeding that means a baby is coming… I don’t want to give birth to her in a toilet! Where the hell is the doctor? These were the thoughts that ran through my head in between contractions.

The only thing I could think after that was “When would it end?” By 12:00 p.m., I couldn’t handle it. My mom was calling up relatives and they were telling me to hop into the shower (that was in my room) and run hot water on my back. Apparently that would lessen the pain a little bit. I couldn’t muster the strength to tell my husband and mother that I would need help getting in the shower. I was walking around up until that time, trying to “walk the baby out” and I couldn’t tell them that I needed someone to hold me up because my knees might buckle from the pain at any moment.

I managed to make it to the bathroom and as I glared at myself in the mirror, wincing from pain, I gave up. I started crying. I wanted to scream. I whispered for Andrew to come in and told him, in between held-back sobs, that I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed the epidural.

All of the reasons I had for not wanting one disappeared. I couldn’t remember ANY of them. I told Andrew that if it wasn’t too late to get an epidural (they don’t give you one if you’re more than 8 cm dilated) then I want one.

He called a nurse in and told her. She checked me and said I was only 4 cm dilated. That felt like a death sentence at the time. That was when I was sure that I signed myself up for never ending torture. I was so sure that the baby would just plop out of my vagina at any moment. I was certain that her head was right there but I wasn’t even halfway dilated.

I had to sign a paper for the epidural. It listed risks and side effects or something. I didn’t read it. At the point, I could barely sign my name. Once I did, I felt relieved. At last, I would get a little break. The nurse called for the anesthesiologist and I have no idea how long it took her to come, but it felt like a century.

I barely felt the shot but relief came. They laid me down. To my horror, only my right side went numb. The left still felt the contractions but it was almost half the pain. Almost. It was bearable now because it didn’t feel like my entire body was ripping into two anymore.

I managed to fall asleep. I have no idea how, but I did. As nurses came and went, I remember I told one that she was awesome. In fact, I believe I said “You guys are superheroes.” I don’t think it was the drugs talking, either. Every bit of me wanted to hug all of the nurses on that floor and thank them for helping women not die of pain on a daily basis.

I stopped looking at the time then. I convinced myself that it would only make it go slower. I longed for the brief moment of painlessness in between contractions. They got smaller and smaller. Finally, the doctor came in and told me I was ready to push.

Around 6:00 p.m., I started pushing- twelve hours after my water broke. I pushed for three and a half hours. I remember towards the end I wasn’t even sure if I was doing anything. I didn’t have any strength left. The doctors kept saying one more push. Andrew kept assuring me the baby was almost out. When the doctor’s voice started sounding more urgent, I knew this was it. I pushed and out she came. Andrew was going to cut the umbilical cord but it was tied around her neck, so the doctor quickly cut it herself.

The moment they laid her on my chest was the most unexplainable thing I’ve ever experienced. It was euphoria. It was heaven. After twelve hours of the seven levels of hell, I had just gotten something so pure and innocent placed on me. I glanced at Andrew in unbelief. Did this just happen? Are we parents? I thought.

The brief look on his face made it all worth it. It was something no Hollywood movie could ever depict. It was the look of instant love. It was witnessing the look of love-at-first-sight. It was so beautiful. In that look, I saw the greatest love. He looked so proud. I wish I could’ve captured that moment. That moment was life.

Everything before that and following that was hard, but for a brief amount of time, things were perfect. She was heaven. She was art. She was everything that was beautiful in the world.

Purchasing and Duplicating: An interview with Craig Norcross

By: Rachel Lyle, February 24th, 2017

My father is the Director of Purchasing at Delaware Valley University and with this position he has employees under him because of this connection, this past Wednesday I had the opportunity to interview one of these employees, Craig Norcross.

The interview was quick and fairly painless for both of us and he was able to easily answer of the questions I was prepared to ask. The interview went a little something like this.

My question: What is your position/title here at DelVal?

Craig: My title here at DelVal would be senior purchasing agent.

My question: What are the responsibilities of this position?

Craig: My responsibilities are purchasing all of the stuff for the college and duplicating. Everything that the college purchases goes through me.

My question: What was you degree in college? Does it have anything to do with this position?

Craig: I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Master’s degree in Business, so yes they do have to do this position.

My question: Where did you go to college?

Craig: I went Calvary Bible College, Eastern University, and DelVal

My Question: What were your original career plans? Do they have anything to do with the position you hold now?

Craig: My original career plans were to be a minster, So they have nothing to do with this position.

My Question: Was there a person in your career who really made a difference?

Craig: No, there wasn’t.

My Question:What do you think has been your greatest accomplishment in your career so far?

Craig: I would have to say getting to be here at DelVal.

My Question: What inspires you?

Craig: The best answer, I have to say, would be God and the Bible

This was the point where I switched the topic of the interview a little bit and added some questions that were somewhat more fun, so that the interview wasn’t so boring.Those questions which were more random, went something like this:

My Question: What do you like to do for fun?

Craig: I like to fish and shoot guns.

My Question: What’s the last book you read? Would you recommend it to other people?

Craig: I am currently in the middle of reading Lord Change Me by James McDonald.

My Question: If you were an animal, which one would you want to be? And why?

Craig: If could be any animal I would be a horse, so I could run really fast.

My Question: If you were a crayon what color would you be and why?

Craig: If I were a crayon I would be purple but it would be like a pinkish purple cause it’s a bright color and makes me happy.

My Question: Can you name three consecutive days without using the words Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday?

Craig: Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday?

He was unsure why I asked the last question but I just smiled and he kind of just went with it. This was when I told him I had no more questions and he said, “well, that was painless.”

I thanked him and he said was glad to do anytime and so we said see ya later cause we would be seeing each other again soon.

What I took away from this interview was that plans can change. Craig planned to be a minister but those plans clearly changed because he is now now works in the purchasing department at Delaware Valley University.

I also learned that you can name three days in a row without using Wednesday, Friday or Saturday.

What’s in a Name

By: Anna Merezhko, February 24, 2017

What to name your baby is one of the many worries pregnant women face as they evolve into the next form of womanhood. Before my husband, Andrew, and I found out we were having a girl, I had been writing down boy and girl names that I liked. Finally, all those years of dreaming up baby names would pay off- I would know exactly what I wanted to name my baby… or so I thought. To my great dismay, it took forever to settle on a name because I’d either find a better one, or my husband would shoot it down.

We agreed on a boy name, no problem. In fact, we had two, but girl names were a whole different ball game. I wanted something unique, exotic, and beautiful – something with a great meaning behind it that would shape her personality but I felt like there were no names worthy of her. There were no names that meant “the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”

I must have made a dozen lists, but we couldn’t find a name we were both in love with. Andrew was very “when we see her, we’ll know” about it, and it drove me crazy.

Three torturous months went by of me not knowing how to address the little person inhabiting me. It felt wrong for her to be unnamed. It made her feel less real, as if she wasn’t already a person with her own personality. So the search continued.

One night, as I was scrolling through baby names on my laptop, Andrew glanced over and stopped me.

          “What about that name?” he asked, as he pointed to the screen.

          “Aaralyn?” I asked.

          “Yeah, that’s pretty.”

Finally! We reached an agreement. Aaralyn was a beautiful name. It meant “beautiful melody” and that seemed to fit her at the moment. I started calling her that but within a few days, it felt forced. It didn’t roll off the tongue.

I started panicking as my due date approached. Knowing how indecisive I am, I could practically see myself laying on a hospital bed with nurses surrounding me, saying that I really need to choose a name now. I didn’t want to be pressured into a name that I didn’t like.

I was 37 weeks along when Andrew came home from church one day, and said right as he came through the door:

          “What do you think about the name Arielle?”

My mind went blank. I knew for a fact that Ariel was on my list of girl names I liked. I also knew I showed it to Andrew before.

          “Arielle? Yeah, I like it. What made you think of it?” I asked.

          “I saw ‘The Little Mermaid’ book laying on a pew and realized I always liked the            name Arielle,” he answered.

Once I searched for it’s meaning on my phone, I fell in love with it. It meant “Lioness of God.” It made her sound fierce, strong, and unbreakable- all traits that I wanted her to have. It was perfect.

That night, as I tried to fall asleep, a million thoughts ran through my mind. Although I felt at peace that we finally had a name for her, I was anxious about her arrival. I tried to guess when her birthday would be and hoped that it’d be in June, like mine, but mid-thought, something popped up into my mind.

She’ll be born exactly when she needs to be. God knows when she is meant to be born and already picked the day and time. If she’s born in May, will you love her less? No. In fact, you’ll get to see her sooner. If she’s born in June, that’d be great too, but this lies completely out of your control.

I remember this thought specifically because it was the last thought I had before I went into labor. Less than 24 hours later, I was holding a baby girl in my arms.

Arielle was born May 18th, 2015 at 9:30 p.m. and she was more than I could ever hope for. She was perfect.

I felt that I needed to come to that moment- the moment I stopped worrying about her name, her birthday, her weight, her health, and surrendered to the fact that I did everything I could on my part. The rest wasn’t up to me.


An Interview: Your’s Truly…

By Taylor Blasko

I got the idea for this blog a few weeks ago…and I shall now execute. This will not be a normal blog. Beware. Keep your expectations low and it will help all of us.

Taylor: Why did you choose to come to DelVal?

myself: I didn’t, and yet I did. My friend showed me the place and I followed her. I swear I had looked the place up before she showed me. I went for myself. I went because I was scared of change. I went because I couldn’t move across the country as a big fuck you to my parents. I went because I’m a coward. And because well I really did like the program. Wildlife Management & Conservation —that’s what I’ve stood for all these years, as an advocate for animals that can’t advocate for themselves. Stop telling me it looks like I followed my friend —I didn’t.

Taylor: After four years, would you say you liked it here or not so much?

myself: I’d say I hate it. I’d say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. And I wholeheartedly believe in both of those statements simultaneously. I never thought I’d be able to say that, let alone say it confidently. But I know those statements are contradictory and I know I believe in both. I’m not a hypocrite. But I mean I’m a hypocrite, we all are. Shit’s complicated. DelVal taught me that shit is complicated. Maybe I did follow my friend. My mind four years ago wasn’t this agile or flexible. I didn’t know me. But I know now I didn’t follow her.

Taylor: You came here as a Wildlife Major, what inspired you to pick up a dual major in English Literature?

myself: Inspiration I think is the wrong word. It makes it sound brilliant. Or smart. Or like a good idea. Justified. An act of bravery. Or an act of knowing oneself. I didn’t know myself when I decided to double major. I’m not sure I even do now. I wasn’t inspired. I was pushed. Pushed into a world I knew existed and chose to ignore until the moment I stepped foot into my College Writing I class. My first class of college. I will reiterate —shit is complicated. And I discovered that no sooner than the first day of my first class of college when I was thrown in and thrashing and flailing I wrote my first paper for that class. It was 11 pages long, it only needed to be 2.

Taylor: Where do you see the intersection of your majors? What are your career goals? How will you use both majors?

myself: To be honest, I don’t know if I will, not directly anyway. Why does everyone assume I need to combine my majors and be a journalist for National Geographic. Do you know how hard and how much experience you need to work for National Geographic? Do you understand that I don’t even like journalism? Do you understand that I couldn’t even grow the balls to interview someone besides myself for this interview blog? How do you think I could write for National Geographic, I’m grossly under qualified. So much so that I disgust myself in every way. I’m not a journalist. I’m not even a writer I don’t think. I’m a person merely trying to find myself through fumbling through compiling sentences into paragraphs. I can’t write anymore than your average Joe. I merely think, on paper. I use the term “writing” to mean thinking. That’s all. If there’s one thing I know about  myself, it’s that. How can I advocate for the animals in National Geographic if I’m not even a writer?

Taylor: Any closing words?

myself: No. Yes. Why does everybody view education as a portal to a job. Just because I have a degree — I will have a degree in a few months —doesn’t make me any more qualified for anything. It shows that I sat through the classes and I did the school work. Maybe some of us are just good at that. No one said I was good at jobs, or having a job. No way. I go to class because I enjoy it. The minute I stop enjoying it I don’t go. I’m not a good student, I’m just curious. I’m an academic, I guess, if we want to call it that. I didn’t dual major because I thought it would get me further in life. I dual majored because I thought it would allow me to think more and find myself.

As I sit here writing this blog, literally switching proverbial seats as I ask myself questions and type…I am lost…


Oh, dear fire alarm…

By Taylor Blasko

Campus has been a pretty damn exciting place as of late. And by exciting I mean annoying. God-awful if you will. Like okay I get it, nobody could stop the resident DelValian squirrel from chewing through the one transformer that all of DelVal is run off of…but like seriously? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. But instead of writing about how the power was out all of Wednesday night and how it royally fucked up my entire night because I did no homework; rather, I will talk about another exciting event that occurred on Wednesday, which is that of the fire alarm.

If anyone lives on campus, knows someone that lives on campus, or specifically lives in South Hall, you know what I’m talking about. South Hall’s dreaded fire alarm…

So I give you Wednesday night, roughly 6:15pm I would say, I’m in my room trying to gather things to go to an event on campus and to get some homework to do beforehand, mind you I’m in the dark because we have no power, and all of sudden…yup…the fire alarm.

At this point I literally have PTSD from this fire alarm. Last semester…hell…for the past year and a half, the South fire alarm has been going off haphazardly. And by haphazardly, I literally mean it didn’t even feel random sometimes, there were points where it would approach 10-11pm and I would pack my bags because I had a bad feeling the fire alarm was going to go off that night, like it did every night at the same time, and, spoiler alert, I was usually right.

This semester hasn’t been so bad…I guess. The fire alarm falsities have been few and far between, but I’m still scarred from previous semesters of fire alarm fleeing. This semester the main thing broken on South besides the fire alarm is the damn door, it doesn’t close. Like it’s broken. So anyone can just waltz right in sometimes. It’s a safe building..I feel really safe.

I digress, so I’m in my room gathering things in the dark because all of DelVal (except the Life Science Building *eye roll*) has no power and the fire alarm goes off. So my heart starts racing as usual, my ears brace themselves for that dreaded spear-stabbing pain that will soon hit my eardrums from the alarm, and I gather and fumble in the dark as fast as I can.

Except not really as fast as I can because dammit another fire drill/fire alarm malfunction and I’m just so sick of them. So yea, I dilly-dally. I fuck around. I take my time. I’m already irritated that there is no power so there’s no way I’m letting the fire alarm take all my dignity. So no, I’m not running out of South like there’s a fire. Because it’s South. And there’s not.

Except OF COURSE this time there is. There’s a fire. I mean okay, there wasn’t a fire exactly, but there was “smoke coming from the electrical room” or something, that’s the rumor on the street anyway. Whatever, what I mean to say is for once it’s not a damn drill or a false alarm, it’s the real thing and I only later find out as I’m sitting at an event in the Life Science Building and see all the fire trucks filing in, headed right for South Hall.

Where are my friends? My one roommate has been sick for days and I didn’t see her get out..she’s not answering her texts…there’s no way she could have slept through that earth shattering alarm…right? I send my other roommate back to check it out, maybe to find flames ablazing, but there are none. But still. My laptop is in there. The whole of my undergraduate career saved on that one hard drive, potentially gone, never to be seen again. All my homework sayonara.

And I mean okay, there apparently weren’t even any flames. The fire department came as a formality. Okay, I get it. I hear you.

And is it my own fault for not taking the fire alarm seriously? I mean okay maybe…but I’ve become so desensitized to it, I’m sure we all have in that building, that how can I possibly know? And I know the logic is you’re supposed to take it seriously every time, but South Hall, here is my proposition to you. Can we at least get emails when scheduled drills are going to occur? Because I know we have to do drills, but can we not do them at the expense of my blood pressure, heart rate, and sanity anymore? Please and thank you.