Top 5 places to nap at UIC’s East Campus


Some people see a couch, I see a mid-day respite. (which is the same thing)


Everyone has a busy schedule. It seems like there’s not enough time in the day to get all of your classes, studying, workouts, work shifts, extracurriculars, and social life commitments done in 24 hours. Usually a single day involves some sleep, right? Sometimes you just need to crash wherever and whenever possible. Here’s my top 5 places to nap at UIC’s East Campus. (You should feel lucky that I’m sharing this information with you)



1. Newman Center

The Newman Center is the youth Catholic center on campus. It hosts mass every day. Catholic or not, the Newman Center is open for use for everyone. It has a multitude of couches and seats that are pretty empty the majority of the day. Being a church, it will most likely be quiet, so your naps will be uninterrupted.

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5 Tips To Stay Motivated During Syllabus Week — and My Personal Back To School Playlist

uic.jpgUIC’s Brutalist architecture might be unique in Chicago, but it doesn’t mean it’s attractive. University Hall looks like a giant air conditioner.

Hey, how’s it going? Matt Cuartero here.

I just wanted to take a quick moment to welcome you to my blog here at UIC Radio: M4 – Matt’s Monday Morning Mailbox (although I do not always release on Mondays exclusively). I answer viewer’s submitted questions, and I also like to write about the military, music, video games, and track and field. I also do reporting on school events from time to time. If you’re returning to UIC, welcome back to another great year; thank you for joining me again. If you’re a first year student here, I welcome you too. I hope you’ll find Chicago an exciting city to be in.

With a new year comes new classes, responsibilities, and opportunities. It also comes with what I like to call “Warm Up Season”. I don’t know about you guys, but the first few weeks of school are always my laziest. I don’t know; until I realize that classes are getting serious (usually I am notified by this with a bad grade) I take a long time to get into action and really buckle down on studying. I wanted to provide you with a plan of attack of my own to hit the ground running and get the jump on the semester before it gets a jump on you. Some say the most important part of the semester is the very beginning and I would agree with that.

Continue reading “5 Tips To Stay Motivated During Syllabus Week — and My Personal Back To School Playlist”

Sea Stories V – High School Sweethearts and Best Friends


I made it to my bed (or rack, as it was now called) the night of the Moment of Truth. My division was sleep-deprived for 49 long hours. I’m pretty sure I saw the utensils at the galley swing-dancing in front of me; that’s how tired and cracked I was. In the 49 hours I had been at Great Lakes Recruit Training Command, my division got off those coach buses in the middle of the night, we spent hours getting our gear issued, getting our hair buzzed off, and going through hours of paperwork. On top of that, we ate 5 times at the galley, we spent time cleaning the head, (bathroom) we spent time stenciling our gear, and we received initial medical checkups. It was due time for sleep. The recruit division commanders were giving us 8 full hours of sleep, and our new temporary home was at the USS Red Rover. (It’s not actually a ship. It’s just a building named after one). Lying face up in my rack, I thought about my last day, right before the Navy.


I wanted to cry for her to see, but I didn’t as well. It was strange.


It was only that evening we were watching Silver Linings Playbook. We cuddled and hugged each other until it was time to leave. We didn’t watch Ant Man with her parents that night, either.

It was only that afternoon we were sitting on the balcony of her house, reading some book about palm reading. I didn’t agree with her choices of what I was in a hand. It was only that morning we went out for breakfast, and we had one of our last meals together. At least the last one I spent taking her out. We switched cars to her driving after breakfast. I felt pretty happy in her arms.

“I love you.” She said back to me, parking the car in my driveway. “I shouldn’t say that, but I don’t know any other love like you. I wish we had more time, too.”

Continue reading “Sea Stories V – High School Sweethearts and Best Friends”

The Loneliness of Being a Gay Man in 2017


Learning to Fly with Broken Wings and Learning to Love with a Broken Heart

I’ve oft discussed this phenomenon on my radio program (‘Trev,’ Wednesdays from 8:30 – 10:30 PM CT on and the mobile app Radio FX, also, one in which LGBTQ+ youth in particular struggle to fit in with a group that truly meshes with their identity and damaged sense of self. You see, the one thing that truly unites queer people is a certain level of damage. This damage can arise from a variety of sources and circumstance.

Paradoxically, gay men in particular find very little difficulty attaching themselves to individuals physically, sexually or romantically. What results is a very isolated and unstable foundation of support. Placing all bets on a single, extremely flawed individual is a sure fire way to return not only to the loneliness with which one was accustomed to before, but in fact an even deeper, darker sense of isolation. One fraught with the always-difficult transition from companionship back to solitude. The transition in and of itself is not one containing smooth or stable components.

The underlying issue is that, by their nature, gay men are, frequently, incredibly damaged. Indeed the basis of a romantic, male, homosexual relationship is one between two parties who haven’t been shown much love in life and yet are expected to somehow know how to do it. The results speak for themselves. I do not think it is a stretch to say that the extremely high rates of suicide among queer youth can be directly traced to this sort of all-or-nothing level of support.

See, when a heterosexual goes through a breakup, there is an entire community of support waiting for them in the wings. Mom, dad, sister uncle, all universally relate and empathize with the heartbroken straight boy. Conversely, homosexuality, even now, is something that at the very least isn’t spoken of among even the inner-most core of a family structure, even if it isn’t vocally opposed. Adding to this is the media’s frequent portrayal of happy, fulfilled gay couples (primarily white and male in nature).

The overused cliche of puberty is one of a caterpillar turning into a beautiful, transformed butterfly, which older butterfly creepily comment and make advances towards, but that’s besides the point. (These are the butterflies who could end up violently splattered on the grille of a car without even a modicum of remorse on behalf of literally everyone. Good riddance, you pervy rainbow moth). Gay puberty features significantly more bumps along the way.

Imagine, instead, of a caterpillar in its cocoon being ripped from the branch, stomped on repeatedly, and somehow managing to emerge, broken, but alive nonetheless. This damaged larva begins its post-transformation existence with broken wings, attempting to the best of its ability to assimilate into the life and culture of its peers. Often failing to do so, a fellow damaged monarch approaches it and offers, at once, a sense of familiarity, unity and aid. Finally, someone who gets it.

Instead of insects, imagine that damage lies within the heart of a human being. A heart that has faced dogma and violent opposition of its own kind. Mothers, grandparents and “friends” alike. The heart of a young, gay man is one that has been stomped and bruised since its inception. While it continues to beat, through lens of judgment and basic survival, it fails to empathize with those even within its own community. Infidelity, internalized homophobia, and all sorts of destructive behaviors are fueled by an overwhelming sense of self-hatred and guilt. Things that are not intrinsically or naturally a product of its lifestyle, but rather the environment with which it so inefficaciously tries to perform. A gay man is a butterfly with broken wings trying its best to fly. A gay man is a human with a broken heart, trying its best to love.

Trev Richards is host of the weekly talk program Trev on UIC Radio; Live, Wednesdays 8:30 – 10:30 PM Central Time. Follow/listen on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and SoundCloud

Blahsmopolitan No. 5: “Lullaby for a Roommate” AKA “Hello Daddy, Hello Mom, I’m Your Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Child With Mental Illness”

This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one freshman’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago, and the songs that soundtracked it. New stories are posted every Thursday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify to complement your reading and get you through the week with some new music. This week, our columnist heads home for the holidays, writes an actual advice column, and repents for his dorm life sins in hopes that you can learn from his mistakes.

Stream this week’s playlist on Apple Music or Spotify. Blahsmopolitan and its playlists contain mature themes. 

I get that it’s super corny to be the person who goes away to college and then can’t shut up about how much they miss home. College is supposed to be the holy Mecca of good times, the cure-all to high school’s nine circles of social hell, the place where you go to become your true self and never look back. Don’t get me wrong, my first semester of college has given me tastes of all of those things, but there is no such thing as an overnight cure to having a terrible and mostly pointless life, and there’s no such thing as a semester-long cure either.

My qualifications to say this are as follows: I’ve gone to a city college with a 60% commuter population for about three months. I’ve made about four friendships that I could see becoming deeper than just someone to get wasted with, I’ve been passed out drunk almost every weekend, and I’ve taken strictly 100-level courses in areas mostly unrelated to my major. Despite all these deeply formative experiences, I am incredibly excited to go home.

Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 5: “Lullaby for a Roommate” AKA “Hello Daddy, Hello Mom, I’m Your Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Child With Mental Illness””

Doubt, Stress, And Genetic Professors

My original plan was to write about my experience abstaining from sugar this past week, which has also carried into this week, but I wasn’t able to do the research that I wanted to make it sound legitimate and knowledgeable in all the ways sugar is not so good for us. I didn’t have much time to do so because I spent all weekend trying to breathe life into a paper I’m writing about Hillary Clinton and her lack of situated ethos, or why people seem to really hate her.

This leads me to this Monday’s blog topic. HRC’s ethos and I wrestled all weekend, and well into this morning, which won me only four pages out of the ten I need to write. Basically I didn’t get much done and feel that I’ve wasted a ton of time that I could have spent studying for my other classes. That is rather beside the point here because what I really felt during my peer review in class today is that I’m not even capable of writing well, which is something I take some pride in. So if I can’t write, then what can I do?

As I’ve mentioned in my last post, I’m a Neuroscience major, but I’ve fought my entire way through it. I’m not naturally good at math, nor do I excel in the sciences. But the brain, and especially the mind, fascinates me. From a more practical standpoint, I also felt secure studying a hard science. What I do well is be stubborn and work hard. I’ve accepted my inability to maneuver through coursework with ease, but I’ve also accepted the challenge. However, today was a day where I questioned my major, my capabilities, my aspirations, and of course, my existence because stress isn’t as much fun if you don’t over do it.genetic-ethics1Today I thought a lot about whether I had made the right decision or if I should have chosen something that was better suited to my strengths. I still don’t have a single clue what I’ll be doing once I graduate, but struggling in my science classes makes me feel that I’m not cut out for graduate school, or anything at all really.

I caught my breath and stalled my brain, and made sure I didn’t complain to my friends. I bought myself an almond latte and listened to Frank Ocean on repeat while I did my homework. I thought about the work, instead of if I could do it or not. Then, I turned on lecture capture for a class I had missed, and listened to my genetics professor talk about an experience he had in graduate school.

He told the class how, after an exam, his professor called him to his office and told him that he shouldn’t be in graduate school because he had confused transcription with translation. After looking over the exam, my professor acknowledged his mistake, but let him know that he was aware of the difference. And as he walked out of his office he told him that he most certainly belonged in graduate school. My professor finished his story by reminding us to never let anybody, especially a stranger, tell us what we can’t and cannot do. The class applauded, and I too applaud.

He also didn’t fail to mention that his professor died prematurely of lung cancer. So, ease the mind and collect yourself. Don’t let the bastards get you down, and don’t be one either.

Maximizing Productivity

On a consistent basis, I feel that I actively try to seek out ways, or new bits of information, to improve my current self. Since I am a student, with a goal of graduating with a Neuroscience degree and a Professional Writing minor, most of my efforts often center on ways to improve academically, or ways to make the life of a student a little smoother.

A commonality that most UIC students share is commuting. Whether it be from the suburbs or the most North-side neighborhood of Chicago, it can be (and often is) a grueling and tiresome, not to mention time consuming, activity. But commuting and course work isn’t the only thing that we do. A great majority of us have jobs and home responsibilities, organizations that we’re a part of, and not to mention all the other resume-building activities on our mind.



Too often sleep is cut short, meals are skipped or on-the-go, and working out gets eliminated from the daily schedule somewhere along week 10 of the semester. And if you’re anything like me, you often become a bundle of stress around this time, and eventually your health begins to waver. There simply isn’t enough time for everything.

Instead of accepting defeat, I’m interested in how I can do things differently to fall back into rhythm. Although, I already feel that I try to maximize my productivity by doing things like studying on the train, or listening to recorded lectures as I walk to campus from Union Station, there are definitely things I can do to improve my work ethic. Recently I happened upon a Forbes article that listed ways in which “ultra-productive” people managed their day. Although, I typically cringe at anything with a title in close proximity to “15 ways how to…”, I felt that some items on this list could possibly be helpful to combat a ticking clock.

These are some of the few that I’ve picked out to try for myself, complete with my understanding of each:

  1. Focusing on minutes, not hours – squeezing in study time even if you’ve only got 15 minutes before your next class
  2. Using a notebook – carrying around a notebook to write down any floating thoughts that might be bogging you down, a helpful way to clear your mind (because honestly, being stressed takes up a lot of time)
  3. Processing email only a few times a day – productive people schedule time to look at their email, as opposed to checking it consistently throughout the day
  4. Touching things once – if you’re looking at your emails, respond right away instead of leaving the task for a later time
  5. Practicing a consistent morning routine – shower, yoga, smoothie, hug mom
  6. Saying “no” to almost everything – “If something isn’t a hell, YEAH! Then it’s a “no!” – James Alutcher

Check out the full list at the link above to generate some more creative ways you could fool yourself into a 25 hour day. Happy studying and rocking at life!



“You’ve Lost Your Muchness”: An Open Letter to My Present Self

The following post contains the words my younger self would say to my present self, if she could. Though tailored to my personal experiences, this post serves to publicize the damaging effects of depression and anxiety which students are at risk of developing at varying points in their 20s: 

What have you done to us? I don’t know you.

To quote one of our favorites: “You were much more… muchier… you’ve lost your muchness.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

I want to call us “us” or “we” but we are not the same person, and we should be.

Yes, before you interject, I know change is good. It would be foolish to expect, and rather disappointing to discover, that five years have passed and everything has remained the same.

But you were supposed to grow. And today your most upright stance is a struggled crouch.

We used to exude life.

Everyone was attracted to our magnetic presence. We made a difference. We uplifted others. We thrived on interpersonal interactions and made friends everywhere we went.

But now you fall silent during most social interactions.

And again, before you argue, I know there is nothing wrong with being a voyeur, watching and listening instead of explicitly participating. For some, this is ideal and comfortable. Someone has to do it. But that’s not what you want. I know it’s not.

You want to share your ideas, your voice, and your talents. You want to reach out and make meaningful connections with people.

But you’re paralyzed by fear.

You beat yourself into submission with the same endless loop of self-regulating thoughts: “What if I stutter? “What I say something stupid or wrong?” “What if they don’t think what I said is funny?” “What if I’m boring?” “Oh, I am boring.” “Don’t even bother trying.”

So you follow your own advice, and you sit there. You use your phone, a book, a pen, anything within reach, as a crutch to distract yourself from how horribly you struggle to perform the simplest task.

But your mind still decays. “People will think I’m rude.” “She came to a party, to dinner, to coffee, etc. to be on her phone?” “What’s her problem?”

But the first series of thoughts are stronger, so you submit to them. You would rather have people think you’re too pretentious to give them your attention than to simply flick your eyes upward to meet their gaze.

Best case scenario, you push away the contradicting thoughts, convince yourself that it’s “okay,” and continue fiddling with your distraction while you miss your chance to make some meaningful memories. Worst case, you repeat the two progressions of thought in your head — self-regulating, bargaining, repeat — until you succumb to an anxiety attack.

Pick your poison…

Hey, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to assault, belittle, or upset you. I love you, even if you don’t love yourself.

But I’m outraged…and I want you to be too.

Please, keep fighting. I know you want to.



How I Plan To Make It Through Finals With My GPA And Sanity Intact

It’s that time of year, again! The time when we all question why we even gave this “school” thing a shot. You guessed it, this is our last week of spring semester, and finals week is around the corner.

I’ll be graduating this semester, and I’m finding it harder and harder to concentrate on my final papers and projects. Between classwork, working, graduation stuff, looking for a job after graduation, and trying to have a social life (trying), self-care can fall through the cracks.

I know I’m not alone in this. So, I’ve compiled some tips and tricks on how to have a successful and not so stressful finals week.

1. Get Organized


One of my major problems this semester has been forgetfulness. I’m constantly forgetting about assignments, only to remember them the day before they are due. Recently, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing down everything I need to do for the day. Besides class assignments, my to do lists include errands to run, things to buy…basically anything. For example, the highlights of yesterday’s to do list were: buy poster board, write blog, call mom. One of those didn’t happen. I’m working on it!

2. Sleep

illustration of a female worker sleeping

Seriously, get sleep. Take a nap. Something. If you don’t sleep, you’ll feel horrible and the paper you’ve stayed up all night to write will suffer, too. Last semester, I was so tired/out of it that I walked into moving traffic and a police car honked at me. It’s funny now (kinda) but it was a scary wake up call at the time.

3. Take a Break


Take a break?! But I have so much to do! I know, and that’s exactly why you need a break. Just like everyone should sleep to let their body recharge, you should take breaks while studying to let your mind relax. Don’t break for too long, though. It’s called a “break”, not a “I’m done being productive for the day” for a reason. The best thing about breaks is that you can do anything but work; get a snack, take a walk, watch YouTube tutorials. Whatever gets your mind off of a PowerPoint presentation for a couple minutes.

4. Drink Water

Senator Marco Rubio stays hydrated. Do you?

I’m always amazed that so many people don’t like water. Like, why not? Sure, it’s not as glamorous as a drink from Starbucks, but it’s necessary in order to survive. Cool, huh? But for real, drink water people. It’s good for you, and the last thing you need during finals week is dehydration. If the crisp taste of water is too bland for your delicate palette, then get some of those water flavor enhancers. Do what you gotta do.

5. Talk It Out


Whenever finals week rolls around, I find myself thinking that no one else is as stressed or anxious as I am. Obviously, this isn’t true, but the thought still creeps into my mind. Talking to my roommates and college friends quickly puts everything into perspective. Sometimes, it feels so good to complain and whine about all the things I have to do, and the other person has the exact same issue. I mean, I still have work to do afterwards, but it doesn’t seem so daunting. Even if this is something you already do, I can’t recommend it enough.

Those are my tips. Good luck, everyone!


Years ago, female Hip Hop and R&B artists were rare. Women such as Aaliyah, Lil Kim, Nicki Minaj, etc. paved the way for women in the Hip Hop industry. Today women are still often forgotten in conversations about these genres. These women have worked hard, and made a great impact in the music industry, breaking through barriers, and showing all young women to chase their dreams with confidence.


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With her first European tour and a Grammy nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album, all under 20 years of age, this Oakland native dominated 2015. With another album in progress this girl is definitely one to watch.


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Her name may be new for some, but it won’t be for long. In 2015 Layla Hendryx put on for her city of Toronto. With tracks like… she shows off her untouchable flow, and she’s not stopping now. With her hard and intuitive style Layla will no doubt be making moves in 2016.


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Our very Chicago native, Tink, made her own moves in 2015. From rapping to singing, she can do it all. But she doesn’t just “do it”, Tink’s diversity within her work is something few can achieve. Make sure to keep an eye out for her this year.




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The Vine sensation, Toni Romiti, switched up and spent 2015 shocking her fans repeatedly with her impressive musical talent. Along with a great sense of humor and dance moves, this girl has a lot going for her music career in 2016.


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Daughter of Jada and Will Smith, Willow, made her own name for herself in 2015. Although her music doesn’t exactly fit into one specific genre, her artsy vibe and free spirit shined through in her music, and there’s nothing stopping her this year.