The Light at the End of the Tunnel (aka winter break is almost upon us!!!)

WARNING: This is a slight vent post, but I mean it all in good nature.

Hey all! As my lack of posts have most likely told you, I have been busy this semester. Well, busy is a little bit of an understatement, but you get the picture. Sophomore year is hard, especially in music-majorland (it’s a real place, I assure you). For example, there aren’t many other majors where you encounter hours of practice on your instrument, another hour or so on another much more foreign one (I’m talking about you, bassoon), a game or three, theory and singing tests or quizzes, workouts thanks to a Phys Ed sort of class, hours of rehearsals for multiple ensembles, service projects, and oh yeah- PLENTY of 8 AMs to go around (when you’re a music major, there is no escaping them).

PS- Whoever complains about the difficulty of getting up for your noon class: your point is irrelevant to all of us.

Anyway, as you would have it, my mental health is about shot. Correction. It is shot. It’s like having 28 hours worth of work to do and only 24 hours to do them, even when you don’t procrastinate. I know I am not alone on this. But there is yet comfort up ahead. As I am writing this, only one more day of regular class remains and then the dreaded Finals Week is upon us. However, music majors aren’t as worried about this compared to those in other fields. The reason why? Classes with three-hour credits are the only ones that have exams during exam week. A music major’s schedule has maybe only three or four of these because the rest of their ten or so classes only get ONE HOUR of credit. Which means our Hell Week began weeks ago. Finals during the actual Finals Week are just the closing ceremony. Oh wait, I forgot. Juries. Hmm, maybe we all are still anxiety-ridden until the end. But you know what? There are 21 days left until Christmas, and we will get through the end of this semester. We’ve got this.

-Emilee Manning

PPS- I still love my major.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel (aka winter break is almost upon us!!!)

The Value of $200

It took me a while to understand two things: math and money. Math came easier to me as I grew older, but money? Whew, that was terrifying. I don’t know many things about money, such as how to file out tax forms, how to manage a bank account, how to determine income, and I still am ashamed to admit that I forget how to fill out deposit slips from time to time (update: I’m perfectly clear on the deposit slips now). However, I do understand the value of money and the amount of work it takes to earn it, because let’s face it- somewhere down the line money was earned somehow. I may blow it, but I know a thing or two about working for it. This brings me to my next point of many, and I promise that I have a take-away. You see, after a bit of time passed, I realized that the value of money to other people is different. And not just in the numerical amount. Let’s take two-hundred dollars, for example. Using those wonderful math skills that I acquired while going through school, I’m going to throw out some different things that two-hundred dollars can “buy.”

Two-hundred dollars can buy a meal for 500 children in Africa, and provide 2200 meals (Feeding America) in the United States. It can buy 83 loaves of bread or 164 bottles of water. Or, it can buy 50 Big Macs, or 134 large sodas, or 200 plain cheeseburgers from McDonalds. It can only buy two or three full course meals from a fancy steakhouse (I’m looking at you, Ruth’s Chris…), and it can buy approximately fifteen to twenty alcoholic beverages (only at Happy Hour though!) from a bar such as the one in every Cheesecake Factory. Next, let’s step away from food… Two-hundred dollars can buy five or six pairs of jeans, or a designer purse. It can buy maybe three pairs of running shoes from brands such as Nike (and some customizable shoes run two-hundred alone). It can adopt a pet, or maybe even two or three of them. This money can pay important bills, and allow you to make small repairs on your home or your car. It may even buy a romantic date for you and your significant other. Two hundred dollars can buy two tickets to a concert, or one ticket to a Broadway show with nice seating. You can see a movie alone around twenty-five times if you don’t get popcorn, or you can buy twenty to twenty-five large bags of popcorn. You can visit an amusement park or stay overnight in a good hotel. You could even buy 200 lottery tickets, or invest the money so that it may be worth even more in the future.

As we can clearly see, there are so many things that two-hundred dollars can buy, but there is one thing that it cannot. And it should never attempt to purchase this; no monetary amount can. You. Cannot. Buy. Love.

So many times I have seen someone trying to buy their way into acceptance, or use money as leverage in a relationship. While it can buy so many nice things, the things should never act as a replacement. It cannot buy the bond between a husband and wife, parent and child, friends, or anyone for that matter. If you want nice things and can afford them, then go on and buy what your heart desires. But do not let that replace love. Credit cards and checks do not solve or create  a single thing. If anything, they teach the recipient that it is okay to use money as a solution or primary, sole way of showing affection. That is not okay, and it will never be okay.
So tell your loved ones that you love them, tell people you appreciate them, and focus on the memories that you make. Prioritize love and friendship. There is so much more to life than money; money is only just one aspect of it all. Let all of the great things in your life overcome their numerical worth, and I promise you that you and your companions will become far more happier in the process.


-Emilee Manning

The Value of $200

Hey Hey EC

Hi guys! These past two weeks has been nothing but hectic with my return to classes for the fall semester. If you want to be technical, the FDOC was a week ago tomorrow, but I have been making the habitual drive to campus a full ten days days before then. Why, you may ask? I have only two words for you: Band. Camp.

Yes, the Marching Pirates have kicked off our annual preseason camp, which ended last Sunday. If I have to be up front about it, it was the LONGEST week of my life. I had to be there for two extra days because I am a section leader for the season (Bone Squad, HOO RA), but that wasn’t what made the week long. Nope. It was the heat. The good ol’ Eastern Carolina humid heat, with a triple heat index on top. I’m telling you, I was sweating EVERYWHERE. The day started at eight-thirty in the morning and I would be lucky if I got home by ten at night. My sports bra would still be sweat soaked by then…

So now that classes are starting to creep their way back into my daily ritual, I am going to have less and less time to write new posts. Sigh. With that being said, here is a compiled list of goals I have for the upcoming academic school year.

  1. Become a better musician; with barriers coming up at the end, my major depends on this.
  2. Learn how to manage stress and continue not to perform reckless acts of abandonment on my body.
  3. Become more active in Tau Beta Sigma.
  4. Strive to become as healthy as I can be; physically, mentally, and emotionally/spiritually.
  5. Make and strengthen my friendships.
  6. And most importantly… Survive.

Hey Hey EC, let’s make this year a cool (ha) one…

-Emilee Manning

PS- Please excuse my terrible use of puns. You will see lots of these.

Hey Hey EC

“The Opposite of Loneliness” and Marina Keegan

“Do you wanna leave soon?

No, I want enough time to be in love with everything…

And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.” -Marina Keegan



Okay, so as I write this, I am sitting on the couch of our condo, on vacation. I wasn’t planning on bringing my laptop with me, and was definitely not planning on writing anything, yet here I am. I owe it both to checking my final exam grade for the math class I’ve been taking all summer and Marina Keegan.

Marina Keegan was a graduate from Yale (magna cum laude) and a brilliant writer. Her works have been published in The New Yorker and in the Yale Daily News. She was also a playwright and aspiring journalist with a lot of promise. She had this profound voice that captures your attention instantly, and it became a hit with her professors, fellow writers, and audience. Sadly, her life ended barely after her graduation from Yale in a car accident. She was twenty-two.

The book, titled after her speech given at Yale, is a posthumous collection of her short stories and essays, and I must state that they are utterly breathtaking. I am only halfway through the book, and it was so phenomenal that I had to start this post ASAP because her writing is that good. As you all know, I have read my fair share of amazing writing but Keegan’s style is set apart from the rest. Her words are raw truth, and they speak to me. Her first short story in the collection, titled “Cold Pastoral” broke my heart in less than twenty pages, making me feel this heart-wrenching pain that I haven’t felt since Dobby died (spoiler alert).

Keegan’s style has also inspired me in a short amount of time to improve my own writing. In a list of “pitfalls” explored in the introduction/forward, Keegan discussed ways in which she desired to improve her own craft. The last object on this list was “THERE CAN ALWAYS BE A BETTER THING!” She reminds us through her personal goals that there is always room for improvement, and as a writer, this guideline is life-changing. That’s also because it applies to our lives in general. Keegan was all about living her life to the fullest even in her limited days, and serves as a reminder for us all to do the same because to be simply put: life is too short.

Without any doubt in my mind, I fully recommend “The Opposite of Loneliness.” It not only is a spectacular collection of written works, but also a legacy of a profound writer who left the world too soon.

“The Opposite of Loneliness” and Marina Keegan

Banana Pancakes

“Maybe we could sleep in

Make you banana pancakes

Pretend like its the weekend now”

-Jack Johnson


Okay, I’ve got that Jack Johnson song stuck in your head now, don’t I? Yes? Good. No? We’ll work on that. Who is Jack Johnson? Shame on you.

Well, he was on to something. These pancakes were great to wake up for (sadly, I didn’t wake up to them, but that’s alright). Anyway, I knew I wanted some since the night before at midnight, because who doesn’t? I decided I was gonna wait until when I got up and you could’ve imagined my excitement when I went downstairs to finally make them. I opened the fridge to get the ingredients, and then behold: no eggs. I nearly cried. True story. I’d have to save my dreams for easy two-ingredient pancakes for another day.

However, I didn’t give up. I found a recipe for eggless banana pancakes instead, and I am so glad I did. Shoutout to for satisfying my banana pancake craving!

I love pancakes and french toast. Sweet, usually with cinnamon, and almost always with fruit. However, since I’ve changed my eating habits, I hardly eat them anymore. I love their substitute, baked oatmeal, but I’m learning that I cannot completely cut myself off from the so good, but so “bad for you” stuff. These will probably appear a little more on my breakfast agenda. They’re sweet, but not overpowering. There’s also so many options on what to top them with. They hardly need any syrup, and the recipe states that agave works too. I love it with (go figure) peanut butter- especially the Smuckers All-Natural Creamy kind.

And I also snapped a few pictures…



Banana Pancakes

The 5th Wave Trilogy


Okay, so I am a big fan of reading books before their movie counterpart comes out. I am also a firm believer in “the book is always better than the movie.” However, I tend to be a little busy when it comes to reading so I cheat and go on and watch the movie. This kind of happened with “The 5th Wave.” Oops. I still blame everyone else around me for wanting to see it immediately, and I couldn’t just say “no,” you know? But, I will have to admit, the movie was pretty decent even after reading the books and Alex Roe (he plays Evan Walker)? Adorable.

The books have been on my “must read” list forever, and when I walked out of the movie theater a couple of months ago, I was like: “Okay, I have to read these now.” I still procrastinated and got the book a few weeks later, but once I finally got to reading, I was hooked. Rick Yancey (the author of the series) is a phenomenal writer as I’ve heard from the past. He wrote “The Monstrumologist,” which was a book on a list for my competitive reading team back in high school. I never got around to it, but everyone who read it quickly deemed it as their favorite. I can see why.

Yancey writes his perspectives cleanly, and has a great sense of who his characters are and how to write for them. I read a book recently (not going to title it; it was still a fantastic story nevertheless) in which the author wrote in a contemporary setting, but still used cheesy slang from the nineties for fourteen-sixteen year-olds using smartphones. Yancey did not do that at all, and I found there to be intelligence to his writing. Again, I am not trying to degrade the other authors out there; I am just super impressed. Plus, I found myself able to emote with the characters, and enjoying every bit of them he had to offer. They were complex, and had well-supported backstories, and if there is something I enjoy, it is a good backstory. In this trilogy, nearly every main character has one (and there are a ton of them), which I thought was very nice.

Upon finishing the trilogy (I did this last night but was too tired to write this then), I was disappointed: entirely in the fact that it was over. The suspense and thrill, mixed in with the dark components (YA is getting very dark these days, but I do not mind) made this trilogy one of my favorites, and the themes/ideas of an apocalyptic world, extraterrestrials, and young people going beyond their dark capacities honestly kept me up at night sometimes. I want to discuss how this trilogy ended so badly, but I do not wish to spoil the end for you. Believe me- it is so tempting. So instead, I will just have to say that you need to read this trilogy if you haven’t already. If you are looking for good, intelligently written dystopian-sci fi in the YA genre, this trilogy is definitely for you, and you will not be disappointed.


The 5th Wave Trilogy

What “Skinny” Means to Me: My Health Story

In this post, I am going to discuss something that affects me on an extremely personal level. Ever since I was a young child, I had always been overweight. When I got to my junior year of high school, my weight was at its all-time highest. Even with my height and frame taken into consideration, I was always considered the  “chubby” girl. Now, I look and weigh a little differently, but I still struggle on a daily basis with my body image.

This is my story.

Note: This is extremely personal for me to write, and there are some things in here that I’ve never particularly told anyone. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask/make them, but please keep them positive and respectful!


“I want to be skinny.” Wow, this thought screwed me over.

I can remember this one time before a softball game in middle school. I was often teased for my size because I was bigger than all the other girls, and I remember being humiliated especially this one day when my team had a game and all of our jerseys and pants were were laid out for us in the locker room. When I went to put my uniform on, my jersey was fine, and my pants looked as if they were my size; the size on the label was correct and everything. Then I tried to put them on and they weren’t even going over my knees. I was freaking out. While they appeared to have the correct size label, they were child’s pants. Then, to make matters worse, the girl whose pants were switched with the tight ones I was wearing walked out and her pants (well, my pants) were falling off of her. Then some of my own teammates started laughing and making comments, and you get the picture. This was when my opinion of myself and how I looked changed. I get it. Middle schoolers are ruthless. But that still didn’t change anything about how I felt, even when I entered high school.

High school was actually a pretty decent experience for me. And as for my friends, they could have cared less about how I looked and how much I weighed and I had no reason for worrying about it at all, but it was still this dark entity that I had inside of me that wasn’t going away. I did one of the most dangerous things a girl could do and I compared my body to others’. I wished that my features were smaller, and that I just looked, well, prettier. I had this friend that whenever we went shopping, she was squeezing into small sizes and looked great in them. She could show off her form in anything and look fantastic, while I looked like the Pillsbury dough-boy in the same outfit. Size was more than a number, and I felt like it defined how I looked. And I didn’t get it either. I ate considerably healthier than most people I knew, and I did recreational softball after middle school (school sports=never again.). It just wasn’t fair.

Cue senior year. This meant senior pictures, senior prom, and my final season of high school marching band, in which I was the going to be the drum major. I was fresh off of a transformative summer program (GSE for life!) which made me grow immensely as a person, and shrink a size in jeans. I had lost a little bit of weight, and gained a lot of confidence. GSE was the confidence boost that I needed, but I was not out of the clear yet. I had graduation ahead of me and I still wanted to lose ‘x’ number of pounds so that I would look good in my prom dress. I spent so much time worrying about how I looked that I missed out. I started to miss out a little less when the second semester began, but yet again, the cloud over me wasn’t gone.

The January before I graduated, I got a gym membership. I focused more on my health (notice I said “health” and not “losing weight”) and ate a little better. This was a good first step. The pounds started falling off and I lost another few before prom and found a dress a size smaller than I expected. Then I fell back into the negativity again, and then that number on the tag wasn’t good enough for me. Why couldn’t it just go down? Why couldn’t my stomach be flatter, or why couldn’t my face be thinner? Especially after the prom when all of these pictures started to pop up on social media, I felt a little less better about myself. I am ashamed of how I felt, and how I even feel now (but now I kinda wished I wore a different dress, so that’s a different story…). I had a great time at prom; I spent it with all of the people I cared about and we had fun. That is what should have mattered. 

Then I graduated, and in the fall I went to ECU. That was when I began to focus more on strength, and let me tell you, strong is amazing. I ran a 4k. I climbed a rock wall, multiple times (which is something I have never been able to do). And I also made friendships that I am going to treasure for a lifetime. Sometimes I even forgot about how my body looked and weighed.

Today, I am at the healthiest I have ever been physically, and while I’d like to say I don’t, I still struggle with my body image every day. I over-analyze what I eat, limit myself, and compare myself to others more than I care to admit. I regret ever comparing myself to others in the first place, and wish that I cared more about how decent of a human being I was than the size of my pants. I regret all of the negativity I fed myself whenever I ate something with minimal nutritional value that I actually enjoyed. Now I wish that my health goals are less size oriented and more strength oriented in the future. So I’m going to keep running and going to Bodypump classes. I’m going to lift more and eat more greens. But I’m also going to learn how to take naps and eat that piece of so-freaking-amazing cheesecake, without hating myself for it. My journey is not over yet, but it is getting better slowly and surely. I have only one life to live, and I have to live it to the fullest capacity.

So what does the term “skinny” mean to me? I made a post on Instagram a few months ago baring more skin than I ever felt comfortable showing and commented that “skinny” was unrealistic and overrated to me. It should be that way for everyone, no matter their size. “Skinny” is no longer a descriptive term that measures size; it measures worth. And that is never worth it. So what again, does “skinny” mean to me? I’m starting to discover that it means nothing. It can go on and go to hell.


What “Skinny” Means to Me: My Health Story