The Rebirth of the Intrepid

During the past two summers, one of my greatest memories in the city of New York was a daily passing image of a spectacular view to and from my commute to my internship. This was an image that really drew my attention away from the hustle and bustle of the city towards an attraction meant to stimulate a tranquil environment of commemoration yet simultaneously invite curious exploration. This image continues to sit powerfully in my mind as much as the attraction does in its current location at Pier 86 on West 46th Street, situated on the Hudson River. This unique image is of none other than the USS Intrepid.

 

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The USS Intrepid is an aircraft carrier that was in active service during the Second World War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. It is the fourth ship in the US Navy to bear the name Intrepid. Since 1982, it has served as the centerpiece for the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum, attracting more than 1 million visitors annually. The ship is still an aircraft carrier, but for planes of the past rather than those intended to be used in the future. Some of its main exhibits include the submarine Growler, the only guided missile submarine open to the public, and the Concorde, a former passenger airliner that could travel faster than the speed of sound. In addition, guests can view live recordings and photos of the ship’s history, as well as hear stories from tour guides or actual former veterans. I personally had the pleasure of visiting the museum twice, once during summer break in high school and once in college. Both times, the attraction that most captured my interest was the Space Shuttle Pavilion, newly opened after the Space Shuttle Enterprise was loaded onto the Intrepid in 2012.

While the Intrepid is much more widely known by tourists today due to its stored collection of aircraft artifacts, the ship was built in December 1941 to fulfill a markedly different purpose. The Intrepid was designed as a warship to prepare veterans for high-risk aerial combat with the mission to defend the nation and ensure safety and freedom from enemy threats. The US was already at war when the Intrepid was officially launched in 1943, immediately putting the mission of the ship into effect. The crew was to approach future engagements with the enemy with unfettered fearlessness and audacity that reflected the heroism and spirit of those who had fought in previous conflicts, in order to appropriately embrace the values embedded in the name Intrepid. The crew members, who built a shared sense of camaraderie knowing that the next deployment may very well have been their last, proudly sailed as one unit dedicated to its mission, thereby symbolizing the same courage and sacrifice the ship had aimed to convey when the crew first boarded.

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After the Second World War, the Intrepid was redeveloped to serve as an anti-submarine carrier against the Soviets. Coupled with this was its successful role as a recovery vessel for the Mercury-Atlas space mission in 1962 and the Gemini mission in 1965. Thus, the Intrepid had established its status as a major player in the early stages of the Space Race. This marked a departure from its earlier image of violence, fraternity, and survival during combat towards one of exploration and nationwide pride. In an interview, the late Mercury Seven astronaut Scott Carpenter states that upon reentry into the atmosphere that fateful day, he did not feel concern and that he knew exactly where he was. He was referring to the success of his mission and the newfound hope that the NASA program had in pushing forward their progress towards manned spaceflight. As the nation witnessed the splashdown of the Mercury spacecraft, Carpenter was the first person to carry the memory of feats accomplished through space exploration onto the ship, which was further propagated after the Intrepid again rescued two astronauts from the Gemini mission three years later.

As shown by various examples throughout history, the efforts of only a few people can be effective enough to permanently transform the meaning of an event or object. The fate of the Intrepid in its later years was no exception. Its transformation was marked by overturning the decision to take the battle-scarred Intrepid to the scrapyard and converting the ship into a museum in 1982, thanks to the efforts of philanthropist Zachary Fisher. His passionate commitment to the armed forces resulted in the goal to allow the former warship to be a monument to “honor our heroes, educate the public, and inspire our youth.” Fisher’s nephew says that his uncle’s choice had been due to the fact that the Intrepid was the Lady in the Harbor that bled so the other Lady in the Harbor, meaning the Statue of Liberty, could hold her torch. In honor of their service, veterans are offered free admission to the museum, allowing them to more intimately connect with the honorable actions of their predecessors on the ship, continuing the same tradition as the 3,200 men had during the Second World War of keeping alive the spirit of those who had fought in previous conflicts. In contrast to the time period during the war, the experience of the public is no longer separate from the experience of the veterans and former crewmembers, who are unified by a common theme that is best exhibited by the current status of the ship as a museum: education. While most traditional war memorials educate the public about the people who lost their lives and the importance of remembering their courageous sacrifice, the Intrepid couples this primary purpose with the additional objective of motivating the members of future generations to gain valuable experience in the fields of science and history, through internship programs such as GOALS for high school girls and professional development seminars hosted by staff and astronaut or veteran guest speakers. Through communication with veterans on visits which include celebrations during Veteran’s Day, the legacy of the ship’s impact on the history of the United States is made accessible while the former crew members are gifted with the ability to learn about the challenges faced and interpretations of the experiences lived by students, teachers, and veterans of the present generation. Upon revisiting the Intrepid for its 75th anniversary, former flight deck crew member John Olivera, in a documentary by Time, said, “I become very emotional to see that it’s still here and that I actually served on it.” With mutual education, honor, and exploration thriving on the ship, the public is able to actively aid in the fulfillment of the ship’s current mission, by remembering the events that occurred, admiring the additional aircraft artifacts that contribute to the educational value, and for the younger population, developing valuable skills that will be of benefit in future careers. As a GOALS ambassador writes about her experience, “It’s important to try and communicate as effectively as possible because it can allow you to accomplish things that you never thought you could.” Through the Growler submarine docked on the side of the entrance and the Enterprise shuttle in the top floor pavilion, the Intrepid captures the impact of humanity on the horizons both above and below that which it has served on sea level, reflecting the impactful outreach the ship has had and will continue to have on members of past, present, and future generations.

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If I had to pick a shortlist for a good vacation trip this summer, this would be it. It will be great to see it with new eyes after learning about it in one of my classes. I would definitely recommend it to anyone planning to visit New York this summer or anytime. Now that the semester’s over, and I am graduating, I don’t believe the excuse of having exams or assignments will stop me from immersing myself in the intellectually inspiring environment that the Intrepid aims to display to all those who visit.

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What I Wish I Knew Before Freshman Year

Very few things have intimidated me more than walking onto campus as a Rutgers student for the first time. On move-in day, I was overwhelmed pretty fast: a blur of unfamiliar faces crowded every hallway, a sticky wave of heat persisted in the absence of air conditioning, and a girl I had met maybe twice before would be sleeping five feet away from me. Everything was new, and it was scary, and it was exciting; but most importantly, it was nothing like how I imagined. In light of Decision Day on May 1st, here’s a few realities I wish I knew before stepping foot on campus for the first time.

1: You’re still going to play Kahoot.

When I imagined a college classroom, I pictured a stuffy lecture hall crammed shoulder-to-shoulder. I thought individualized learning and personal connections would be left in high school; luckily, this could not have been further from the truth. I was relieved when my first semester Spanish class had only twenty or so students. The professor knew each of our names and grew to know each of our personalities and senses of humor. While some classes are closer to what I expected – minus being packed like sardines – many courses are more intimate. So, you’re in luck: you can still come out on top in Kahoot.

2: You should probably write everything down.

When lecture ends and everyone jumps up to scramble to the buses, scribble down exam dates or assignments you need to finish. That extra two seconds won’t be the difference between catching the LX and waiting twenty minutes in the student center for the next one. It’s easy to let little details slip through the cracks when you aren’t organized, and with multiple classes that each have so much to remember, keeping everything in a mental list might not work out too well.

3: It’s important to get involved.

Meeting new people is the most exciting part of coming to college. Rutgers is an extremely diverse campus, and joining clubs or teams is a great way to expand your way of thinking. Going up to tables at the involvement fair and talking to the people around you in classes aren’t as intimidating as they seem. Plus, this is how you’ll make friends with the same interests and goals as you!

4: Panera mac & cheese adds up after a while.

The dining hall might get redundant, but eating out is the fastest way to drain your checking account. That being said: if you’re going to treat yourself, you might as well go all the way and get the Baja Mac & Cheese.

5: Don’t waste any time being less happy than you could be.

These four years are going to be whatever you make them. There’s nothing to gain from holding back for fear of failing or of what people think. Putting yourself out there will help you find your best friends, your most passionate interests, and your ideal college experience.

The 2018-2019 Tony Awards Season in Review: Shows I’ve Seen and Loved

It’s no secret that I love theatre. It’s been an important part of my life since I saw my first professional production at age three (Annie at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia), and my love for and interest in the art form has only grown in the years since then. One of my favorite things about growing up in New Jersey and going to Rutgers is that it’s way too easy to get to New York City and see Broadway shows, and it’s been my goal this year to see as many shows as possible. I was lucky enough to be able to see seventeen shows since last May (8 Broadway, 4 Off-Broadway, 4 National Tours, and 1 Regional), so I’m happy to say that I succeeded.

Thirty-six new productions opened on Broadway this season: The Boys in the Band (Opened May 31), Straight White Men (July 23), Head Over Heels (July 26), Gettin’ the Band Back Together (August 13), Pretty Woman (August 16), Bernhardt/Hamlet (September 25), The Nap (September 27), The Lifespan of a Fact (October 18), The Ferryman (October 21), The Waverly Gallery (October 25), Torch Song (November 1), American Son (November 4), King Kong (November 8), Mike Birbiglia’s The New One (November 11), The Prom (November 15),  The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays (November 23), The Cher Show (December 3), Network (December 6), Ruben and Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Family Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show (December 11), To Kill a Mockingbird (December 13), Choir Boy (January 8), True West (January 24), Be More Chill (March 10), Kiss Me, Kate (March 14), Ain’t Too Proud (March 21), What the Constitution Means to Me (March 31), King Lear (April 4), Oklahoma! (April 7), Burn This (April 16), Hadestown (April 17), Hillary and Clinton (April 18), Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus (April 21), All My Sons (April 22), Tootsie (April 23), Ink (April 24), and Beetlejuice (April 25). Of these 36, I have seen four so far, and I absolutely loved them.

Here’s why.

Head Over Heels | December 19, 2018 | Hudson Theatre

Head Over Heels

Synopsis: A mash-up of posh and punk, Head Over Heels is an unpredictable, Elizabethan romp about a royal family that must prevent an oracle’s prophecy of doom. In order to save their beloved kingdom, the family embarks on an extravagant journey wrought with mistaken identities, jealous lovers, scandal, and self-discovery, where everything (and everyone) is not quite what it seems. (Playbill.com)

I am a huge sucker for a good jukebox musical (a musical that features hit songs of a popular music group or genre), and I’m also a huge sucker for 80s music, so when I found out that this season would include a jukebox musical featuring songs by the Go-Gos, I knew I had to see it. I love how much representation this musical has. The main character, Pamela, is a plus-sized princess who is considered to be the most beautiful woman in the land; she ends up falling in love with her handmaid instead of any of the suitors she meets. In addition, Head Over Heels features the first ever principal character to be played by a trans actress. Peppermint, the runner up of the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, plays a non-binary oracle named Pythio. I loved the way this show combined the older language of the 16th-century poem it is based on with modern ideas, and I could not stop smiling and laughing the entire time. Unfortunately, Head Over Heels closed after less than five months on Broadway, but I am so glad I had the opportunity to see it.

Be More Chill | February 17, 2019 | Lyceum Theatre

Be More Chill

Synopsis: What if popularity came in a pill? Would you take it, no questions asked? In Be More Chill, achieving that elusive “perfect life” is now possible thanks to some mysterious new technology – but it comes at a cost that’s not as easy to swallow. (Playbill.com)

Be More Chill is my second favorite musical of all time, and I got to see it during its sold-out Off-Broadway run over the summer and during its first week of previews on Broadway. This show had a very unconventional journey to Broadway: it premiered right here in New Jersey at Two River Theatre in Red Bank in 2015 and was well-loved by its audience, but because of a negative review in the New York Times, it didn’t continue on beyond that initial production. To the surprise of the cast and creative team, the cast recording suddenly became extremely popular in 2017 thanks to social media and recommendation algorithms, and it was this buzz on social media that led to the Off-Broadway production in the summer of 2018 and the current Broadway production. I love this show because despite the fact that its premise is based in science fiction, everyone can relate to the experiences of the characters. It’s a reminder that no one is alone in the insecurities and fears they feel, whether they’re in high school or well into adulthood. The show is hilarious and so full of joy with a fantastic musical score written by my favorite musical theatre composer. Fun fact: Be More Chill is the first Broadway musical to use a theremin in the orchestra!

The Prom | April 10, 2019 | Longacre Theatre

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Synopsis: We’ve got trouble, folks, right here in Indiana and when Broadway’s brassiest hear a student is unceremoniously sidelined from a small-town Indiana prom—and the press is involved—they are ready to kick-ball-change the world. (Playbill.com)

I’ve wanted to see this show since the Broadway production was announced over the summer, and I’m really glad I ended up going two days before my birthday as an early birthday gift to myself. I’m also really happy that I happened to see it during Rutgers’s Gaypril celebration because this show’s main character is a high school student named Emma who wants nothing more than to go to prom with her girlfriend. When the cast performed the show’s closing number at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, it made history as the parade’s first LGBT+ kiss. This show was directed by a well-known choreographer, so the dancing is absolutely fantastic. I also really love how different the songs in the show are from each other. My favorite part is a song called Unruly Heart, in which Emma shares her story with the world by writing and performing an original song. The song’s message of hope and the beautiful harmonies when the whole cast joins in brought tears to my eyes when I saw the show. The Prom is such a special musical and I’m so excited for as many people as possible to get to see it.

Beetlejuice | April 16, 2019 | Winter Garden Theatre

Beetlejuice

Synopsis: Lydia Deetz is a strange and unusual teenager who is obsessed with the whole “being dead thing.” Lucky for Lydia, her new house is haunted by a recently deceased couple and a degenerate demon who happens to have a thing for stripes. When Lydia calls on this ghost-with-the-most to scare away her insufferable parents, Beetlejuice comes up with the perfect plan, which involves exorcism, arranged marriages and an adorable girl scout who gets scared out of her wits. (Playbill.com)

I honestly had no idea what to expect when I saw this musical because I didn’t know any of the songs nor did I recognize the names of the show’s writers; the only knowledge I had was based on the one time I watched the movie the musical was based on. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I absolutely loved everything about it! Though the plot of the musical deviates quite a bit from the source material, I think that the musical still preserves the essence of the original movie and its characters. Something that makes live theatre unique is the ability to “break the fourth wall,” which means that the characters acknowledge that they have an audience and they interact with them as such. Beetlejuice breaks the fourth wall within the first few minutes of the show, and continues to do so throughout; Beetlejuice, the title character, is the only one who is aware of the audience, which allows for some very funny interactions between him and the audience, to the confusion of the other characters. I honestly could not stop laughing from the opening number through the end, and I loved every single song so much that I’m so bummed that I have to wait for the cast album’s release to hear them all again. I know it’ll be more than worth the wait, though.

Other Shows I’ve Seen in the Past Year

Dear Evan Hansen – May 13, 2018 | Music Box Theatre, New York City
Aladdin – June 30, 2018 | Kimmel Center, Philadelphia
Mamma Mia! – July 8, 2018 | Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia
Be More Chill – August 19, 2018 | Pershing Square Signature Center, New York City
SpongeBob Squarepants – September 16, 2018 | Palace Theatre, New York City
The Color Purple – October 14, 2018 | Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn
Clueless – December 16, 2018 | Pershing Square Signature Center, New York City
Mean Girls – January 13, 2019 | August Wilson Theatre, New York City
The Lightning Thief – January 27, 2019 | Kimmel Center, Philadelphia
Wicked – March 3, 2019 | Gershwin Theatre, New York City
The Play That Goes Wrong – March 7, 2019 | New World Stages, New York City
Alice By Heart – March 17, 2019 | MCC Theater, New York City
Rent – April 3, 2019 | State Theatre, New Brunswick

The Tony Award nominations will be announced on April 30th, and the awards ceremony will be on June 9th. I’m looking forward to seeing even more of this season’s new shows as well as the new shows that will be opening in the 2019-2020 season.

All photos were taken by me, with the exception of the cover image, which came from Playbill.com.

Books You Should Read!

Hi everyone! Summer is around in the corner. I thought that it would be a good idea to list some books to read during the summer.

1. The Alienist by Caleb Carr

I recently finished The Alienist. I highly suggest everyone to read it. It is set during the Gilded Age in New York. If you are a lover of psychological thrillers and history, then this is the perfect match for you.  A news reporter, two officers, a woman (first one to be on the force) and Theodore Roosevelt try to track down a serial killer who garishly murders young boys.

2. Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr

This is the sequel to The Alienist. Unlike The Alienist, however, this story is written from the point of view of a street lurker and is about a kidnapped infant.

3. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Set in London, this is about a spy named Irene who has the task to spy (shocker) on a unique library home to many magical books, one of which gets stolen. As a result, Irene, and her assistant Kai, have to find this book (which is also very dangerous). If you like magic, secrets, and books, then this is definitely for you.

4.  The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Have you ever wanted to major in monstrumology (the study of monsters, of course) ? If yes, then pick up this book asap. It is written as a diary by Will Henry, an assistant of a montrumologist named Pellinore Warthrope. One night, Will finds he has stumbled onto quite a dangerous monster. The classic question of when does one become the very thing one hunts arises.

5. House of Silk by Anthony

If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, then you should definitely read this. It is about how Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson track down an international criminal who is a murder. This is a great read for mystery lovers.

6. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

Set in 1865 Boston, the story is about how the Boston Brahmins at Harvard College fight to squelch the efforts of members of the Dante club, literary masterminds, as they try to spread Dante’s visions to the New World.

7. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Do you like ghost stories? If yes, then do read this book. It is set in 1866 New Zealand. One night, Walter Moody walks in on a secret gathering of twelve men who discuss a line of peculiar events involving a missing rich man, a suicidal prostitute, and a big fortune discovered at the home of a drunk who is not very lucky.

8. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

This is another mystery set in 1327 in Italy. It is about Brother William who investigates seven strange deaths involving philosophy, theology, and cryptology. I love symbology so this one I definitely am looking forward to reading.

Well, there are definitely more books, but I shall leave it at this. I hope you take the time to check these or any other ones out. Regardless of what book you choose, choose something because reading is truly amazing. It is a great way to travel while still in the comfort of your bed.

 

 

 

Au Revoir, Mon Ami

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I smell the smelly smell that smells smelly:

Graduation.

Yes, folks, it is almost that time of the year when proud Rutgers students graduate. This May, I too will be bidding Rutgers University, New Brunswick an au revoir.

I will also be saying goodbye to many aspects of my Rutgers experience: the Honors Program, Douglass Residential College for Women (DRC), my beloved professors, many of the friends I’ve been thankful to meet, and probably several other things that I’m refusing to think about right now.

But here’s the flaw in my thinking: is it really an au revoir? No, because for me, it is a “See you soon”.

I will not truly leave Rutgers; I’ve made my mark at this university through the long-lasting connections I’ve developed with professors and staff. Rutgers will not leave me either–I will continue to carry with me the many experiences I’ve had and the memories I’ve made.

I can say that in my undergraduate experience, I’ve been quite involved with the Rutgers community. Through the Honors Program, I’ve been a Peer Tutor, Peer Mentor, Ambassador, and of course, a Blog Writer. Through the DRC, I’ve represented Douglass as a Red Pine Ambassador, giving tours to prospective Rutgers/Douglass students and helping out with a number of events. At the Rutgers University Press, I’ve worked as an Editorial Assistant intern each summer. I’ve tutored Expository Writing through the Plangere Writing Center. (I could go on, but it may take a while, so I’ll stop here.) Each of these roles have helped me grow personally and professionally. Some of these roles have even helped me make friends that I will never forget and will always be grateful to have.

In my four years here, I’ve met so many inspiring people. Without the inspiring Creative Writing and English professors I’ve had and the classes that I’ve taken, I wouldn’t have fully realized my passion for writing and the power that writing has in affecting change. These professors are more than “professors”–they are people I look up to. They are my role models. They are my mentors. I’ve also met and made friends through classes and clubs. I hope to keep in touch with them; after all, graduation doesn’t have to mean that I’ll never see them!

I can’t emphasize enough how thankful I am for all of these opportunities, experiences, and memories. My time at Rutgers has helped me find who I am. I’ve grown so much during these four years. I know that I’ll continue to discover more of myself, my purpose, and my passions, and so I’ll continue to grow. Thank you, Rutgers, for making this one of the best times of my life. Au revoir, mon ami. Correction: see you soon.

 

The Secret

Finals season is approaching, and with it comes the end of yet another school year. For me, this is one of the most stressful times of the semester, as I am worrying about so many different things and trying to finish my semester strong. My dad always tells me to watch some motivational videos when I am feeling like a Loser (I’m sure we all have these days when we feel like we are just 1,000 steps behind everyone else). So I went to Netflix, and I watched a documentary called “The Secret”.

The premise of “The Secret” is telling the viewers the “secret” to getting the things that they want, as well as how to become an overall happier person. The secret that they talk about is the “Law of Attraction”. They explain that the things that we think about directly affect our lives and “attract” the things that come to us. For example, when we ruminate and think about something bad happening, it is very likely that that exact thing can happen to us. For example, if you are running late one day, and you are worrying something like “With my luck, just watch there be slow people driving in front of me.” It’s very likely that you will notice there being really slow drivers in front of you that day (I just made up a silly example, but you get the idea). So the idea is that if you worry about the negative, the negative may very well come to you. I’ve been thinking about this, and I have noticed that a lot of times that I have thought “just watch me have bad luck about [some situation]”, I do end up having bad luck. And it could just be a coincidence, but I like the idea of the Law of Attraction.

The people in “The Secret” talk about the way to getting what you want. They say that you have to be able to visualize it and picture yourself with the thing that you want. By keeping it in your mind, you will be attracting it to you. I have had many instances in my life where I have wanted something so badly, and it almost miraculously showed up in my life. And again, this could be a coincidence but the Law of Attraction can explain some of these things that happen.

I guess the main thing that I took away from “The Secret” was to think positively and focus on what I want instead of focusing on negative things. Negativity will make us notice the bad in life, whereas if we focus on the positive, we will be able to see the good around us. I think this was something that I really needed to hear, so if you need a little encouragement, I definitely recommend this documentary.