I walked quickly to the nurse’s office—it was that time of month again. When I got there, I told her I needed two pads to get me through the school day.  
“The first one will be free, but the second you will have to pay for,” said the nurse. 
“What do you mean I have to pay 50 cents for another pad?” I responded. 
 As outraged as I was at the school nurse, it wasn’t a surprise I had to pay extra for the second pad. For centuries now, women have had to deal with the burden of periods. One week of the month is always dedicated to that, and in that one week, they go through about one box of tampons, costing about $7 on average.  
That doesn’t seem like a lot, right? Wrong.  
The money spent for a box of tampons adds up every month. Women pay around $1,773 per year on tampons alone, according to the Huffington Post. Women shouldn't have to pay for something they have no control over, which is why pads and tampons should be free of charge everywhere. It’s a necessity which makes it more justifiable in why it should be free. 
“Tampons and pads should be treated just like toilet paper. They serve the same purpose—items to tend to our everyday, normal bodily functions,” Nancy Kramer said in the Huffington Post.  
If pads and tampons were treated like toilet paper, this problem wouldn’t have arisen at all. But, because we live in a sexist world, women and girls unfortunately have to pay for something they can’t control.  
“It’s unfair for girls to pay for a necessity,” said Angie Mejia, a BCLA student. “Most of us can’t even afford it.” That money could be used for other reasons, but it has to go towards their menstrual cycle.  
Some women argue tampons and pads are a “luxury.” Gina Davis wrote in the Odyssey Online that that the government has the right to keep a price on then because “money doesn’t grow on trees.”                                      
Periods should be normalized and seen as a regular bodily function. They are something a woman can’t control, and we should have access to pads and tampons for free anytime, anywhere. 
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Everyone knows what a hot day feels like: air conditioner on blast, eating cold ice cream, going to school feeling dehydrated. On a day like this, I learned about the effects of global warming, greenhouse gasses and other boring stuff that didn't make sense to me at the time.  
Many say that global warming is a boring, irrelevant topic. Others think we should take care of it immediately. But, it’s amazing how some people think it is totally “fake news.” No matter what your opinion is, you’ve probably heard the term thousands of times before, but have you ever asked yourself why should you care? 
Global warming occurs when harmful gases that form from fossil fuels don’t allow heat to escape the atmosphere, explains Jay Etsy, a Green Ambassador program manager at Thompson Island. “It’s so bad that it has come to a point were we cannot return to the state we were in forty years ago,” he said.  
The effects of climate change have been on the rise over the last couple of decades. In Massachusetts, we can already see changes. According to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs,“from 1921 to 2006, relative sea level has risen 2.6 millimeters annually, an increase of approximately 26 centimeters per century.” Rising sea levels can increase flooding during storms. Low elevation areas are the most affected by these floods and could be permanently flooded. Shorelines around beaches become smaller and possibly eroded. 
In Boston, the threat of flooding is important because many of our parks and green spaces are close to water. In a survey of Boston residents by the Trustees of Reservations, some 85 percent of respondents agreed that the Boston waterfront is vulnerable to climate change’s effects, with 42 percent agreeing that it is very vulnerable to flooding and erosion. Over half of respondents said they visit parks around Boston multiple times a week, and 60 percent said that visiting parks leaves positive impact in their lives and families. This shows that many residents of Boston enjoy the parks and losing them could impact their lives negatively. 
But it's not just rising sea levels we are seeing, there’s been crazy weather happening all over the world. According to the Climate Reality Project, the Philippines has had ten deadly typhoons since 1947. Over a thousand people died in seven out of ten of these typhoons. The Climate Change Project also interviewed a 14-year-old Inuk boy who told them polar bears looked very skinny and noticed that the permafrost had been melting and saw fewer caribou each year. 
Imagine living in a world without conflict about global warming. It is really hard for me to do because I have never experienced that before. Christmas starts to disobey the snowy day laws here in Boston when the atmosphere becomes warmer every time. And summer keeps giving its hot and dry best. People with power seem to forget about all these problems. It seems that we ignore facts because it hasn’t affected us yet, so we do not need to worry. The human race has made many mistakes, like exposing chemicals in the air that harm the ecosystem, and now is the time to address them. We could make a better tomorrow if we sacrifice a little time now to create a healthier world.            
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You’re Canceled: Stan Culture Brings the Best and Worst of Social Media
Twitter is a whirlwind. Likes, followers, content, mutuals, these are all confusing terms to latch onto at first, but as a frequent Twitter user, I’ll guide you through them and show you a new side to the social media platform you may not know about.  
Stan Twitter is a section where users dedicate their accounts to supporting a music group, solo artist, TV show and more. It’s how you connect with people who share the same interests as you and have a fun time creating content—or, if you’re like me—liking and retweeting everything about Adachi Yuto, a member of the Korean pop group Pentagon, which you should definitely listen to! Out of the nine members of Pentagon, Yuto doesn’t post as often, but when he does, I’ll like it, retweet, spam the comment section and all.  
Stan culture is a more modern way of supporting your faves. Sarah Poulter, 43, co-executive director of WriteBoston, reminisced about how teens supported their favorite celebrities in the (g)olden days. “When I was in high school, email addresses, phones, the internet, didn't exist. I bought posters. I had mini Michael Jackson pins, posters and a lot of items like t-shirts, folders, things were branded,” she said. Before the age of social media, industries could profit off celebrities by creating physical items for consumers. But, in the stan Twitter age, we can find artwork, memes and various content just a simple click away for the extremely low price of free!  
Stan groups have a fan name, and they section off into fandoms. Think of it like the great hall tables in Harry Potter. You exist peacefully in your chosen fandom, or you can mingle around and choose to be a multifandom, stanning more than one group/artist at once, and curating your online presence to surround them.  
If spending time on the internet keyboard smashing on your fave's new cute selfie doesn’t seem like a new concept, then what's good about stan culture? Well, have you ever fallen in love with an underground artist and found yourself not being able to talk about them because no one knew them? Stan Twitter resolves this issue by quickly creating a fandom to support underground artists, and you won’t have to feel like you’re the only one who has interest in the artist.  
Stan culture also allows you to make a place for yourself in online communities. People who are shy, or have a hard time making social interactions in real life have a platform to make mutuals. Mutuals are accounts who you follow, and they follow you back. They are like an acquaintance you’d make at school and wave at while you pass them in the crowded hallways. Also, these accounts help you escape the hectic schedule of day to day life. Having an online space to relax and look at cute pictures of your faves is a stress reliever to many. 
However, stan culture isn’t always the best place to be. Constant fan wars and hate messages make stan Twitter less enjoyable. Mare Chavez, @pandayanan says, “So far, on stan Twitter no one has sent me hate yet. But, as I gain more followers, I’m expecting people to be more judgemental and negative. Back when I was on Tumblr and had a popular aesthetic blog, I’d get hate for no reason, nothing but the fact that I had a lot of followers.” 
When I ran my Tumblr blog I stuck to myself, reblogging content I enjoyed, art that I liked, and I enjoyed being part of the Voltron fandom. Tumblr has a feature where you can send a user a message or ask someone questions, with the option of  being anonymous. I got nice messages often and it made me happy that someone out there liked the content I posted. I once got a hate message and the user didn’t bother to use the anonymous option, so it made it easier to report the account and have some of my mutuals report the user too. 
Cancel culture is the act of unstanning someone because they did something negative, either currently or in their earlier years. Cancelling happens when an artist does something way out of hand, like saying a slur that doesn’t belong to them. Once a famous person has been cancelled, it takes them a lot to gain what popularity and respect they had before. Cancelling is done by some fandoms out of spite, who want their faves to succeed, and they’re willing to go as far as dragging others down to see that happen.  
Stan Twitter is fun and all, but take time to invest in other activities. Feed the fish that you haven’t fed in a while. Take the chicken out of the freezer before your mom comes home. Clean your room and find ten dollar bills lying around. Your life isn’t tied to how many likes you get, or the amount of mutuals you have. 
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Summer with The Food Project Sprouts Interest in Agriculture
Photo courtesy Madison Beehler
I board the T exhausted and wanting nothing but a hot shower and rest. It’s a normal commute, until passengers sit next to me then shuffle away in a hurry. Is it because I have dirt streaks on my nose? Or do I reek of unripe tomatoes and sweat? Well, at least I have enough space on the train to relax.  
Being a farmer is challenging, especially for someone who avoids gym class like the plague. You’d ask why someone who hates physical activity would seek a summer job as a farmer— but this past summer, I learned a heck ton about agriculture and it helped me grow (pun intended) as a thinker and hard worker. My enthusiasm towards gym class hasn't changed,  and no, I still don’t own a pair of overalls, but I’d definitely work as a farmer again. 
In early February of last year, I was scrolling through the PIC job postings but nothing sparked a sprout of interest in my heart, and I did not want to dedicate my precious summer to doing something I wasn’t keen on. At the bottom of the email chain was a posting about Seed Crew, a seven week program of The Food Project (TFP) teaching sustainable agriculture, administering fun workshops and connecting agriculture to our daily lives. I was interested and decided to apply because I feared a boring summer re-watching Netflix shows and the dreaded, “Are you still watching?” prompt, where I’d see my groggy reflection in the black screen of my phone. I filled an application in one shot and submitted it. Weeks later, after the interview, I wondered if I’d go through if I got a job offer. I was so sure I would decline. Days later, I got a call, and with apprehension, and slight nervousness for what was to come, I accepted the job. 
As a city kid, farming seems like an unnecessary skill. We don’t have much farming area—and the dead, grey, muck-filled patches aren’t much to look at either.  
Farming taught me how to work on a team. When working on a team at school, I ended up taking most of the weight on my shoulders because I didn’t want a lousy grade. On the farm, there were new teams every day, so new conversations sparked, and I ended up having a different workflow with one partner, and a different one with the next.  
Walking onto the farm, I didn’t even know how to use a Hula-Ho, a farming tool used to upend the weeds and pull fresh soil. My tired wrists from using the Hula-Ho the wrong way taught me that I’ll struggle before learning anything new.  
I also learned that farming isn’t all about sweat and physical exertion, it also takes mental strength. Waking up at 6 am to start a new day on the farm, and coming home at 6 pm, tired and sweaty was tough. I often thought, why did I decide to do this? It made me ponder over my values and what I wanted to gain from this experience.  
Learning new farming skills also came with new friendships. While working in teams, digging through dirt for annoying weeds, we learned each other's favorite movies, cultures and customs. When you see your peers with questionable fluids dripping down their face, it sort of, well—bonds you. 
When I was younger, most of the food in the fridge was bought at the grocery store or the farmer’s market. The TFP mantra was “from seed to fork,” and after hearing that I thought, where does my favorite comfort meal come from? Who is involved in putting it onto the shelves of the grocery store?  
During a lesson on underpaid workers in the food industry, I thought about how we put our food on the table. Most of the crops we eat don’t grown in Massachusetts, so we have to import them—which costs money and time. Working at TFP, it opened my eyes to what it takes for food to go from a teeny seed to the stove.  
A fellow TFP worker, Zack Myers, told me about how he learned where his food comes from. “I mostly took it for granted, where it comes from and who grows it seemed so far away. After workshops and learning about those who grow the food and those who are in need of food, I appreciate it more and feel more connected to where it comes from,” he said. 
So why be a summer farmer? Madison Beehler, an operations specialist at TFP, says that it is a fun experience for teens. “Each experience is unique to the teen and a lot of the interactions I've had were very meaningful and impacted me as a person,” she said. “It can be tough at times because the weather is hot, the work is challenging, but it's also very rewarding.” Not everyone is going to love farming, and some people will decide not to continue this work during the fall.  
Looking back, I miss the sun beating on my neck. It’s awfully cold now, and although I only spent seven weeks on the farm, it showed me how much of an impact I have on my surroundings. Next time you go to the farmers market, or the grocery store, or are sitting around the family dinner table, remember that your food didn’t Harry Potter magic itself onto the table (although I wish it did) and that there were many people that put effort and time into it. 
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The Unlikely Team Behind “The President is Missing” Penned a Solid Thriller
The first time I saw “The President is Missing,” I was at the airport buying a pair of headphones for a three hour flight. My initial thought was, “How does this book even exist?” I had read half of a James Patterson book, and I knew Bill Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States of America and that he did,in fact, have sexual relations with that woman, but how did these two end up writing a novel together? There was something I found utterly hysterical about the existence of this book. 
“The President is Missing” takes place over three days, focusing on the president—a man named Jonathan Duncan—who is in the middle of trying to save his presidency, the U.S. and the world. He must challenge the ones trying to take him down and protect one of the people trying to cause the most amount of harm to his country. 
Patterson has been writing longer than I’ve been alive and it’s clear why people enjoy his work. It’s readable, paints tangible images in your mind and keeps you interested. The very first page grabs your attention with a metaphor comparing sharks to politicians grilling a man he deems right for his people in front of the entire world. The plot has many layers and bounces between perspectives, which moves things along nicely. Some of the best parts are when Duncan faces difficult decisions and we have to go through his process of making a choice with him and his staff. 
Even though the book is clearly a political thriller,  I didn’t know what to expect going into the novel. Was it going to be some secret way for Clinton to let out frustrations of his presidency? Was there going to be subtle commentary on the political climate of today, in a post-’bama world? Or, is the novel just a fun, dramatic tale with no real hidden bias (though, I think we all can guess that wouldn’t happen)? 
One thing that is clear is that this isn’t Bill Clinton’s personal diary. Yes, we do see the difficulties of being in charge of millions of people’s lives, but in nothing less than the most dramatic sense. It’s clear that Clinton and Patterson don’t want us to think about Clinton when we read through the eyes of Jon Duncan, but we can’t help but hear Clinton’s voice when the books goes into its not-so-subtle social and political commentary. Stuff like, “what happened to factual, down-the-middle reporting?” (which I try not to be too hurt by) and “we’re using modern technology to revert to primitive kinds of human relations.” If Clinton’s name wasn’t smack at the top of book jacket (and his signature engraved underneath it), it wouldn’t feel like as much of a statement. Putting aside the questionable amount that he was actually involved in the writing process (it was ghost written by David Ellis), I certainly believe that he was involved with this book more than people might give him credit for.  
Overall, “The President is Missing” was a delightful surprise. It’s not marketed towards teens, so maybe you aren’t drawn to it unless you’re a total nerd like myself. Sometimes the political terms can be a little confusing if you’re unfamiliar, but this was enjoyable. There is a decent amount of filler that can deter you from continuing, yet nothing unbearable. And while I unfortunately have not read many thrillers in the past, I can say this book certainly pushes me to want to change that.   
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