We’ve endured more than 330 days in quarantine, and I’ve spent my entire time as a 21 year-old in that period. It probably goes without saying that I didn’t have the most typical “21” experience. My birthday is on April 12, so there was no bar-hopping or get-togethers last spring. In fact, I actually spent my birthday completely alone. My mom had to work that night (a job she couldn’t call out of, as a nurse on the frontline,) and my boyfriend at the time couldn’t travel out to see me because it was Easter (yes, my birthday occasionally falls on Easter.) I’m pretty sure I spent the day eating cake, drinking pink moscato, and watching reruns of Jeopardy!, so unaware of what was to come.

Within less than a month of my 21st birthday, I was living away from my mom in an apartment in Boston with two other housemates. I had no job, no license, and no money to my name, but hey, at least my useless art degree arrived in the mail just in time for the economy to tank! 

I applied to over 200 jobs that summer and burned through all of my tax money, savings bonds, and help from my mother to pay my rent. I started getting food stamp benefits to take the burden off paying for food. I landed a job at Starbucks in July, which I was actually excited about; the only problem was I had to walk four miles a day to get there and back. That was fine for the summer and most of the fall, but when the November chill hit and the sky began darkening with dread at 4:00pm, I began to panic. 

I transferred to a closer Starbucks at the end of November, which downsized my daily commute from 2-3 hours to only about twenty minutes. Towards the end of December, Starbucks began cutting my hours due to COVID-19 policies and overstaffing. In less than the span of a week, I found myself balancing filing for partial unemployment, losing all my life savings to fraud, and going through a tremendously painful breakup all at once. Meanwhile, both of my parents were hundreds of miles away from me and not exactly on-hand for me to run to for a hug. 

Needless to say, 21 has not been the dreamiest year of my life. 

With that being said, I didn’t write this to complain about how hard my life is or throw a pity party about being poor and tired all the time. In fact, it’s actually the opposite. I wanted to talk about the past year of my life as something I’ve learned an enormous amount of lessons from, something that I am appreciating and learning to take in stride. After all, I am so privileged and fortunate to admit that I haven’t (yet) lost a loved one to COVID-19. I haven’t lost my home or my job or my pets, I haven’t gotten sick and been stuck in a hospital for weeks and weeks hooked up to a ventilator. And even though I haven’t been able to hug my parents or talk to them in person in so long, neither of them are dead. They’re only a phone call away, ready to love me and support me when I need them.

I think I’ve cried more tears and felt more stress at the age of 21 than I ever have before in my life, but I’ve also laughed so much and made so many beautiful memories in this messed-up, absurd world we’re living in. I’ve made friends for life in Boston and bonded with the customers in my coffee shop. I’ve cherished each and every dollar of tips I’ve ever made, saving them up for weeks so I could buy that new eyeshadow palette I’ve been pining for, or a new bed set, or a fresh set of toothbrushes from CVS. This year, I’ve learned not to take anything for granted and love each and every thing in my little apartment that I bought with MY money. I’ve learned how to be a responsible spender, how to earn a few extra dollars here and there with Facebook Marketplace and Etsy so I can worry less about paying my rent and more about the things that matter. 

There’s an analogy from a book I really love. It talks about how we all have invisible veils hanging down in front of our faces, and while they make the world a little bit blurry, we like it that way. We like to walk around in our own little bubbles of ignorant bliss, only staring at what’s in the way rather than the big picture ahead of us.

If my ignorance and comfort was my veil, then 2020 really yanked the hell out of the veil and ripped it away from my face. At 21, I’ve lived through historical protests against police brutality and racial injustice. I’ve lived through one of the worst presidents this country has ever known, the most tragic disease outbreak of the century, a broken economy, and violent political turmoil and division. The last year of my life has taught me that it is my privilege to use my voice, and I am ready and prepared to do so to help keep this world full of kindness and acceptance.

If you had told me on April 12, 2020, that this is how the next year of my life would pan out, I probably would have been dejected and scared. And truthfully, I still do have moments of being frightened of the world around me and hurt by the big-ness of it all. But in retrospect, I think the past 330 (or so) days of my life are something I really needed to grow up. And growing is painful- that’s why they’re called growing pains.

I hope that everyone reading this can find some comfort and ease in knowing that you’re not alone. Especially young folks like myself who’ve found themselves confused about their direction and their identity in a world that feels so out of control, I see you and I understand you. And truthfully, I’m looking forward to 22. I’m hoping it’s filled with more cocktails, more pretty girls to kiss, more yoga and journaling and confetti and pets, more time with my parents, more special memories to make and hold onto, and more lessons to learn.

The roaring 20s may turn out to be the best time of my life. ✩


Five Pinterest Recipes I Loved in 2020

Like many other people, being in quarantine for most of 2020 meant I was able to spend much more time cooking, baking, and overall cultivating my culinary skills. I’m certainly not a chef by any means, and I’m still a picky eater, but these are the five recipes I enjoyed the most this past year that I’m looking forward to making again. I hope you enjoy these recipes just as much and find some inspiration!

One Skillet Sun Dried Tomato & Gnocchi | Eat Yourself Skinny

I actually have to give full credit to my mom for finding this recipe. From the beginning of 2020 to pretty much right up until I moved in May, my mom and I made this recipe constantly. For those of you who don’t know, Gnocchi is a delicious potato-derived pasta commonly used in Italian dishes. It has a chewy, doughy, soft texture, and the taste is neutral enough that you can mix it into a variety of dishes. As you can probably guess, I prepare this recipe without the chicken, but it’s just as delicious and filling that way. It’s a perfect comfort meal for a cold winter evening, and it can be made in less than thirty minutes. 

Easy Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad | Baker by Nature

This is actually the most recent Pinterest recipe I made, and I love it for its simplicity, its bold yet simple flavors, and the minimal amount of time it takes to prepare this dish. Really, the hardest part of it is just boiling the tortellini, and that’s clearly not really labor intensive. I’ve been bringing this to work for lunch the past few days, and I have to say, I’m still not tired of it! It’s like the classy, more evolved older sister of a basic caprese salad. 

‘Chickpea of the Sea’ Tuna Salad Sandwich | The Simple Veganista

Back before I was a vegetarian, I used to love tuna and considered tuna fish sandwiches to be one of my favorite lunches. Luckily, chickpeas have come to the rescue in this recipe and allowed me to enjoy a very similar version of my childhood favorite! Nori sheets are optional to give the salad an especially fishy taste, but personally, I think it tastes just as fine without. Even Nathaniel, a tuna eater, liked it, which he himself admitted he wasn’t expecting to. 

This Thing

I admittedly don’t know what one would call this sandwich and I couldn’t find a name or a website for the original inventor, but regardless, it’s delicious. It’s filling. It’s greasy. It’s extra. And although it was fairly messy to make, it was worth every paper towel and dirty pan. Truly, I think a decadent egg sandwich is the vegetarian’s dream, and this particular one really knocked my expectations out of the park. Like I said, I can’t find an OG recipe, but here is a pictorial!

Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Pound Cake | The Baking ChocolaTess

In the deepest depths of quarantine, like many other Americans, I found myself getting extremely invested in baking bread. Particularly since I work at Starbucks, I was very eager to see how this pumpkin bread would hold up to the test. As a novice baker, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious this came out! It was thick and delectable without being too heavy, and I think it had the perfect amount of pumpkin (although Nathaniel said he didn’t think it had enough.) All in all, an absolute classic recipe. 

I have to say, considering I don’t really have much of a background in cooking, I’m really happy with the different recipes and varieties of food I have tried in 2020 (even if it’s mostly pasta.) I think all of these dishes are delicious, but I especially recommend the sun dried tomato gnocchi pasta. Be sure to let us know if you try any of these recipes and what you think below!

Can You Truly SEPARATE from Yourself?

The debate of whether or not you can separate the art from the artist is one that may never end. Can you truly separate a piece from a whole? A servant from its master? An ideal of perfection without failure? Love from hate? Nothing from everything? 

Each individual creates their own reality based upon perspective. It is all mental. We all have our own set of rules, constructs, values, and beliefs – that is okay. It may be hard, but it is important to accept that. 

As individuals, we are different for the same reasons we are alike. There is a reason opposites attract a magnetic force, no matter how far away. We thrive off of one another to live. Everything we do is just a mere projection of ourselves. 

Once we have accepted ourselves, our purpose, the risk and uncertainty that comes along with us on our life journey, then we are truly able to open ourselves up to vulnerability. Upon reaching this moment is when we are finally able to create for ourselves. This is up for interpretation, but I believe this is when you are truly free.  

I am grateful for all of my experiences as an artist. Others showed me the ropes so I can control the reins for myself. I do it for myself in hopes that one day I may be able to inspire and teach others as was done for me. 

This number of how many does not matter, it has always been about quality, not quantity. History and oracles speak of what it’s like to let power fall into the wrong hands. We create history every day. 

Every time I create, I leave a piece of my soul within my craft. Whether it be on watercolor on Stratford, oil on canvas, ink or graphite on paper, or even the words you are reading digitally on this screen, I am leaving a remnant of my carbon copy. 

I think, therefore I am. This is my consciousness, it is important to be aware of yourself in relation to others.    

Likewise, my fellow creators, the masters, and my predecessors, I am an artist and my work is my way of expressing myself. 

There is something extremely dangerous yet attractive about the way an artist works. Artists wear their hearts on their sleeves. We love to give, but we also love to receive. Our wounds are open, you will see us bleed. 

We express vulnerability outwards. It’s hard at times, although it is vital in our process of personal growth and reflection, along with deepening our understanding and connections with our surroundings and others. 

The true beauty of life resides in the foundation that everything is up for interpretation. While we may be similar, as we are all created from stardust and matter, our individual experiences are what guide us and pull us together through our separation and differences aside. 

Can art truly be separate from an artist’s work? 

I know the answer, it’s a no from me. Alas, everything is subjective, relative, and up for interpretation, I’d love to hear your side of the story.

Rating all of the Starbucks Holiday Drinks

Starbucks holiday cups and drinks 2018 return
Image source: Starbucks.com

I’ve worked at Starbucks for roughly half a year, and in that time, I have tried a LOT of coffee. I’ve tried everything from the summer 2020 Kiwi Star Fruit refresher (fairly gross, might I add,) to fall-themed pumpkin spice chai tea lattes (absolutely delicious.) And today, I am going to be sharing with you guys my thoughts on every single ∼holiday drink,∽ so buckle up and grab your lattes.

Peppermint Mocha

Of all the holiday drinks, I think peppermint mocha is probably my favorite. I’m just a huge fan of peppermint year-round, so being able to enjoy it in my morning coffee is such a treat. I will say, I find the regular brown mocha to be far too thick and gunky, so I always opt for a white chocolate peppermint mocha instead. You can also opt for less pumps of mocha to counteract the thickness, which I sometimes do as well. I highly recommend ordering this drink with whipped cream! 

Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

The toasted white chocolate mocha is a bit different than a regular white mocha, because it has a bit more of a toffee nut flavor to it. I personally enjoy this flavor as well, and again, it’s a lot less thick and chunky than regular mocha, which I prefer. As you may have guessed, toasted white mocha also pairs very well with peppermint and I highly recommend asking for either a pump of toffee nut or a pump of peppermint in this beverage, if you’re feeling ∼fancy.∼

Caramel Brulee Latte

I am admittedly not the biggest fan of caramel, so I’m not as into the caramel brulee as I am the other holiday flavors. There’s just something about this particular flavor in particular that I don’t gravitate towards; I can’t tell if it’s too sweet or too sour, and there’s just something about it that doesn’t sit right with me. I will say, however, that the caramel brulee topping is absolutely delicious. That may be its one redeeming quality to me. 

Chestnut Praline Latte

Chestnut Praline is definitely up there in my top 2, and honestly, I feel like it’s probably the most underrated flavor. I’ve never tasted anything like chestnut praline before, but it feels like the perfect toasty, spicy, warm, holiday flavor for a chilly winter day. Unlike caramel brulee and eggnog, I feel like chestnut is a flavor that actually pairs well with coffee and enhances the overall drink experience. If you’re looking to try something new at Starbucks, definitely try the chestnut praline!

Eggnog Latte

Listen, I just have to say- I am a huge fan of eggnog. It’s one of my favorite holiday flavors, and one that I look forward to enjoying at my dad’s house every christmas. But a hot eggnog latte? I’m sorry, but it is simply atrocious. For one thing, your barista will almost always be unhappy with you for ordering an eggnog latte because eggnog does not aerate very well. This means that the preparation of steaming the milk is going to be obnoxiously loud and screechy due to the thickness of the milk, and then, in the end, what are you left with? A latte that tastes like garbage. I’m sorry, but eggnog and coffee do NOT pair together and you may quote me on that! Go out and buy yourself a quart of cold eggnog instead and enjoy it that way. 

Those are more or less my final thoughts on the Starbucks holiday drinks, taking into consideration the quality of the coffee and the price point that customers pay for. I would definitely recommend opting for a peppermint mocha for something more sweet and traditional, and a chestnut praline latte if you feel like trying something new. I can even justify trying the caramel brulee for shits and gigs, but for the love of god, STAY AWAY FROM THE EGGNOG LATTES.

Have you guys tried any of these holiday drinks before? What were your thoughts? Let me know below!


I believe memory exists not only to remind us of where we’ve been or where we’ve come from, but to guide us and help us heal. It interests me that the older I get, the less I can remember from my formative years, however, what I do becomes the most important. 

Memory comes back to me in photographic flashbacks: the good always remains but fades with time, the traumatic resurface slower, but intense and vivid all at once. I was born in 1998, old enough for my first “real” memory to be of 9/11, although I truly can’t say I knew what was happening. Then, a month later my younger brother was born. 

The next is disoriented screaming, flashing lights through my bedroom window, muffled sounds of gunshots down the block as I was upstairs in bed. The SWAT team was guarding off my street and knocking on our door. Nearly 20 years later, I can finally understand that this was due to a Vietnam Veteran who lived on the corner, and whose PTSD had triggered him to shoot.  

My earliest happy memories date around the same time frame. Sometime in 2000, probably about 2, almost 3 years old, holding a lilac ball playing catch outside with my father. I remember sitting at the small farm-animal-themed table in our old vile yellow kitchen with the forest green floor tiles as I colored in a coloring book. 

I remember painting purple stars on the walls with my father when I graduated out of my crib and into my new “big girl” room upstairs.  I remember coloring over the puke-yellow walls in Crayola crayons before my parents decided to tear our kitchen down for demolition. 

Vividly I can picture myself in elementary school art class, the tables new and unscratched, the crisp room smelling of fresh cobalt blue paint on the walls. We would gather around our teacher, Ms. Halpern, who would drop a pin and ensure we all heard it grace the floor before she spoke. I was always quiet, more interested in which artist we would learn about as opposed to the anxiety-provoking multiplication test that awaited in the class upon our return. 

I remember recreating Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in oil pastel, the soft waxy feel as it molded to my hands and created rainbows under my fingernails and the earthy aroma of red clay on my hands as we created pottery. I only cared about what day it was for the sole purpose of whether or not it was time for the weekly art class – it was my escape. I can’t remember most of what I retained from grade school other than forming a keen interest in the arts.

This seems to be a common theme: those who excel and form interests in the arts foster them at a young age. I started playing the violin and joined the chorus in the third grade, although colors and forms stated their permanence in my life. I developed a fixation on transferring images from my mind into a physical form, my notes covered in drawings and doodles. This was and still is my way of creating a sense of our world.  

Throughout middle and high school I continued to find shelter in the art rooms. I created during my time of struggle. I won’t speak much about my depressive manic and self-destructive states as an early teen, but visually creating has always been one of my only methods of accurately channeling and representing my emotions. 

It was around this time I began to spend my summers in Manhattan, taking pre-college courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Art galleries and museums were now at my disposal on a level much higher than my suburban home town on Long Island. These galleries and museums became a sanctuary for me.

Years later and I’ve devoted myself to structure my life around the arts. My passion for the visual arts has followed persistently throughout my entire academic experience, my lifestyle, and is now reflected in my professional career. 

I’ve been an artist for as long as my memory allows. What can I say? Creating comes naturally. It keeps me grounded, consistently allowing me to portray my emotions and relay my memories in a universal language for each to resonate and reconcile as their own.  

As a visual artist and writer, I seek to educate and inspire others. I have an intimate understanding of how hard it is to spread our stories to the world. While it may be pain-staking, it is vital to recognize the importance of passing down our stories. We are not drastically different from one another once we allow ourselves to open up.

Whether this is conducted through visual imagery or words, it is how we relate and learn about ourselves, our relationships, our friends, our partners and lovers, and the generations both preceding and succeeding our own. 

Businesses and empires may be bound to fail, but there is permanence in the arts and culture. As Dali would say, there always has been, and always will be, a “persistence of memory.”

Analyzing the Donna Jean Godchaux Hate Train

From 1972 to 1979, Donna Jean Godchaux executed herself as an integral part of the Grateful Dead, and still, more than forty years later, she remains an important symbol of the band during their most prominent (and perhaps louded) touring period. As an outstanding vocalist and the only female member to ever play in the Grateful Dead, Donna has proved her legacy and impact on both the band and the entire culture of jam-band rocking itself. However, as with any well-known woman in the music industry, Donna’s place in the Grateful Dead has not come without its criticism. So, why is that?

Image source: Dead.net

The short answer: misogyny. 

The long answer: You can have whatever opinion you choose to have about Donna Jean Godchaux. Like her or hate her, she’s doing just fine in 2020. And truly, when you strip back all of the excuses and weak-boned reasonings for why Donna is disliked the most, you discover that you can apply almost any of that criticism to the other members. For example, let’s take the age-old excuse that Donna “ruined” the music with her off-pitch vocals. Donna herself understands where the criticism comes from, but she’s more than willing to offer another perspective. 

“I was a studio singer, never singing off-key. I was used to having headphones and being in a controlled environment,” Donna stated in a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone.“…I’ve seen on Facebook people say, ‘Well, they didn’t always sing so great themselves!’

It’s no secret that being a woman in the music industry comes with a unique set of challenges and animosity- predominantly, in the form of an outpouring from the media. Rock ‘n’ roll in America has seemingly had a longstanding “no girls allowed” attitude, undeniably lends itself to the sexism Donna faced while serving as a vocalist for the band. Even before Donna’s career in the band, other budding female rock stars, most notably Janis Joplin, were already receiving flack for going against what was expected. After all, Janis Joplin was no soft, delicate 1960s housewife. She challenged both standards of beauty and standards of womanity- a path which may have paved the way for future singers, such as Donna.

Throughout her successful seven-year career with the Grateful Dead, Donna Jean proved herself as a force to be reckoned with, and a strong woman who refused to be “lumped in” or molded to fit the box of what was expected of a woman at that time. She proved that the word “woman” itself didn’t have to be a music genre itself- that she could bring flavor and creativity to the band and still feel original. Regardless of how you feel about her, her vocals are here to stay on some of the Dead’s most celebrated albums, such as Europe ‘72 and Terrapin Station

I want to conclude by saying this: you don’t have to love Donna or her unique vocals, but you cannot deny her long lasting impact of success on the band and her role in some of the Dead’s most remembered touring days. Donna, we’re so proud of you for playin’ with the band.

This Sh*t Sucks… Or does it?

Have you ever wondered what defines good or bad art? 

Yeah… me too. As a painter and illustrator, this happens on a near-daily basis. To be honest, it’s a whirlwind. 

The foundations of my career as a visual artist was based upon realism. Pulling inspiration from other illustrators and painters who focused on hyper-realism, pondering how it was even possible to reproduce on such a level. I vividly picture 14-year-old me on my bedroom floor spending countless hours hauling over my works, meticulously honing in on every little detail while I attempted to create each piece to be as close to the reference photo as possible.

I can’t tell you where this fixation in society derived from – or maybe it was just my ADHD and anxiety telling me everything I had to do needed to be perfect, but at least I know I wasn’t alone. Nearly all of my other artist friends and I, at this time, were starting their artistic career in the phases of drawing eyes in the corner of notebooks and working on perfecting a portrait of the lead singer in our favorite alt band. But up until I started studying art in college and gained greater exposure to the art world, I swore by the rule that for my art to be considered “good” it needed to be grounded in hyper-realism. 

Of course, there’s a reason the basis of teaching visual arts is grounded in figure drawing, still lives, and copying master studies. Similar to any other craft, artists are expected to learn the roots of the trade before bridging out to develop our own style. You need to build the foundation of a house before you can decorate the exterior. (Unless you’re an outsider artist, but that’s a topic for a different time.)

A few of the most valuable words one of my painting professors ever shared with me was, “The photo is for reference, a photo is not a painting and your painting should not look exactly like it. Your goal is to be able to part with it – if you keep comparing your work to a photo you will never be satisfied.”  

All in all, your art, nor anyone else’s, does not need to look like you can reach out and grab it for it to be good. Some of my most successful, and most loved, creations are those based upon spontaneously throwing paint on canvas out of frustration and seeing what I could make from it. And if you know me, it was probably a mushroom or had something to do with hands or eyes. 

So, if you’ve made it this far and are still wondering then what defines good art? What makes bad art? I hate to break it to you, but the answer is nothing. Yep. That’s it – nothing at all. 

Well, on a technical level, yes there are standards an artist might want to meet. Proportions, perspectives, and light sources are vital aspects of any creation.  Although, if the work is meant to be conceptual then this truly does not matter.  

Art is relative, and it is entirely subjective. Therefore, art in itself can neither be good nor bad alone. For art to be considered “good” or “bad” it is wholly dependent upon the viewer, the creator, or the critic. While some love Pollock’s poured paintings, others believe he was just a drunk who got lucky. 

On a side note – this is exactly why as an artist, regardless of whatever your craft may be, you need to place value on and believe in yourself. There will always be a negative critic, and PSA people – there is nothing wrong with having a different taste! 

There are many things in life besides taste in art alone that we cannot change, but that does not mean your work is bad. To ignore the critic would be even worse. Sometimes they’re the ones who we need to listen to the most. An artist’s work cannot grow without the push for change. While a critic’s words might be sharp and sting, they are often what fuels us the most. 

Every Fall Out Boy Song Ranked

Hello, I’m MJ. I’m an emo kid, have been for close to a decade now.

This article started as a joke, after a friend of mine Jhariah posted this on Twitter (go follow him he’s an incredible musician and artist):And while I respect Jhariah’s opinion, I had different feelings. Once I went to put all of Fall Out Boy’s official 111 songs, I realized something: Fall Out Boy’s early song titles are so fucking long and convoluted that I wouldn’t even be able to rank them all without relistening to them… all.

So after two days, I’ve come to my finalized list. This was an incredibly difficult journey, considering I only genuinely dislike maybe 7 songs out of Fall Out Boy’s discography. In all honesty, 20-60 are just more arbitrary because I fucking love Fall Out Boy so damn much and this intense re-listening reacquainted me with my love for them. My ranking is based on personal relation/nostalgia, what I would listen to over the song below it, and pure genius in lyricism or the music. Let’s go.

My Top 10 Fall Out Boy Songs:

#1: Disloyal Order Of Water Buffaloes from Folie à Deux

This is objectively the best Fall Out Boy song, by a mile. It begins the best album of theirs, also by far, and entered the stage of pure genius anarchy before their temporary break up. This album in general is lyrically fucking amazing, with my favorite from this song being “So boycott love, detox just to retox / And I’d promise you anything for another shot at life … / Nobody wants to hear you sing about tragedy”. For me, I listened to this album a while before I heard the album. This album and the songs are very special to me, and I think it’s still an enjoyable piece of work even if you don’t dive further into it.

#2: Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea from MANIA

You can shit on me all you want, but the new age Fall Out Boy albums are incredibly overlooked. I think the band has done an incredible job of keeping their sound while also pushing themselves slightly in different directions to slowly and seamlessly evolve. In my head, FOB’s discography is split into pre and post-breakup, MANIA being the most recent release in 2018. This song is fucking incredible. This is also the opener song of the album, and it should be. The drums and bassline in the beginning open up the album and song HEAVILY, with bits of guitar throughout that make my ears perk up. Lyrically, this song is the perfect pump up song. “I’m ’bout to go Tonya Harding on the whole world’s knee” and “The only thing that’s ever stopping me is me, hey!” are the standouts in my mind.

#3 (Coffee’s For Closers) from Folie à Deux

This song ranks so high for 2 reasons: the strings and the nostalgia. I cannot hear the line “I will never believe in anything again / Change will come, oh change will come” without sobbing. Objectively not a greatly poetic line, but the way it is sung, along with my personal ties to the song make it very impactful. The bass and vocal quality with the background strings make for a headphone experience like no other. As a song about worldly success, with a shockingly optimistic view (for how early on FOB this was), it speaks volumes to me.

#4 The Phoenix from Save Rock and Roll

Although this album was the first album of theirs that got me into Fall Out Boy, this album only had one top tenner, and that’s purely because I am just such a slut for Folie à Deux. The drums and the intensity of this song say it all. This is another opening song, as it should be. I think this is just proving they set the tone for their albums super well. This was also the first song back from hiatus (not the first single but-). They quite literally rose from the ashes, and it’s a fantastic come back song. Favorite lyrics include: “We are the jack-o-lanterns in July”; “I’m going to change you like a remix / Then I’ll raise you like a phoenix” and the extended “Hey” Patrick Stump sings at 3:10.

#5 20 Dollar Nose Bleed from Folie à Deux

… I love this fucking album okay? Opening line: “Have you ever wanted to disappear?” Like yes bitch I have. This song also features my second favorite vocalist of all time, Brendon Urie from Panic! At The Disco. The whole song is actually much deeper than I ever knew; it’s about Benzos and the politics of the 90s. For me, it was always a song about being sick and refusing to get help. This song also ends with like a 30 second spoken word poem by the bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz that I and every other emo lets live in their head rent free.

#6 Novocaine from American Beauty/American Psycho

Also loved this album, but surprisingly this is the only one that makes the top ten off of it. This is a killer song. Fall Out Boy has this incredible ability to add this heavy grungy sound in the back of their songs without making them all sound the same, and this song is no different. A lot of my top tens are just a: go listen. You’ll know what I mean when you hear it. “I’m just a problem that doesn’t want to be solved”, and “I will always land on you like a sucker punch / I am your worst nightmare”.

#7 What A Catch, Donnie from Folie à Deux

Last one I promise okay?? This had to make the top ten, because it quite literally includes all the other songs that should’ve made the top ten. It starts off slow, includes lyrics like: “I got troubled thoughts and the self-esteem to match / What a catch”; “They say the captain goes down with the ship / So when the world ends, will God go down with it?” The ending of this song is fucking iconic. It includes choruses of all of their hits, including “Grand Theft Autumn / Where Is Your Boy Tonight?”, “Sugar We’re Goin Down”, “Dance, Dance”, “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s A God Damn Arms Race”, “Thnks fr th Mmrs”, and “Growing Up”, sung by Gabe Saporta, Travie McCoy, Brendon Urie, Doug Neumann, Alex DeLeon, and William Beckett, respectively. God tier. 

#8 This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race from Infinity on High

Speaking of older songs, this is the second oldest song on the list oops. To disclaim I fucking loveeeeeeeeeee their first 3 albums, but I have a bigger attachment and just a little more love for the latter 4. That being said, this song is a banger and has remained one for almost a decade. The song is quite literally Pete Wentz making a commentary on how the emo scene is a war of popularity. The guitar riffs and again- just the heavy beats make it an intense song to listen to. Favorite lyrics include: “I am an arms dealer fitting you with / Weapons in the form of words / And don’t really care which side wins / Long as the room keeps singing, that’s just the business I’m in”.

#9 Sophomore Slump Or Comeback Of The Year from From Under The Cork Tree

Introducing the oldest song on the list- from one of their most iconic albums, and I’m including neither of the two most iconic songs. No offense to “Dance, Dance” and “Sugar We’re Goin Down”, they are fantastic songs, but the overuse of them kills them for me. This song is super meta- it’s a song about how making a sophomore record is hard to do after a successful debut. (Like shut up okay?) but the #1 reason this ranks so high is because it’s a bop, Pete Wentz screams in it, and this lyric: “The best part of “believe” is the “lie”.”

#10 Alpha Dog from Welcome to the New Administration Mixtape

This is a wrench to throw in at #10, I know. I didn’t know where tf this song came from until like ten minutes ago, truthfully, because I had heard it on Youtube and then their Greatest Hits CD. “Alpha Dog” comes from a mixtape released in 2009, and it’s killer and I’m so upset it’s not more widely known. The lyrics to the whole thing are punny and pointed, just like most of Fall Out Boy’s lyrics are (this is mainly why I love them so much). Truly, something I love about Fall Out Boy is that I don’t know what most of their songs mean to them, but I know what they mean to me. They are the most poetic band I know lyrically, with a greatly contrasting sound. Alpha Dog includes lyrics like “You’re not the first or the last / But you’re possibly the prettiest, whoa / He’s a fighter past his prime / He’s in the gutter waving his hand “I’m just fine””. The intro is sick and the whole song is about a Jekyll and Hyde juxtaposition- and I love it.

Honorary mentions / I wish “Top Ten” meant “Top Twenty” + my favorite lyrics from them:

(My top ten were essentially the best songs, and the next ten are my guilty pleasures)

#11 Miss Missing You from Save Rock and Roll: “Sometimes before it gets better, the darkness gets bigger / The person that you’d take a bullet for is behind the trigger”

#12 Favorite Record from American Beauty/American Psycho: “You were the song stuck in my head / Every song that I’ve ever loved / Play it again and again and again / And you can get what you want but it’s never enough / And I spin for you like your favorite records used to”

#13 Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet from Folie à Deux: “I don’t just want to be a footnote / In someone else’s happiness / Does your husband know the way that / The sunshine gleams from your wedding band?”

#14 Sunshine Riptide from MANIA: “I don’t even have my own attention / You say, “Please don’t ever change,” but you / Don’t like me the way I am, the sign says “Don’t you tap the Glass,” but I read it in reverse: “eht pat uoy t’nod syas ngis ehT””

#15 My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up) from Save Rock and Roll: “A constellation of tears on your lashes / Burn everything you love then burn the ashes / In the end everything collides, my childhood / Spat back out the monster that you see”

#16 The Kids Aren’t Alright from American Beauty/American Psycho: “I’ll be yours / When it rains it pours / Stay thirsty like before”

#17 The Last Of The Real Ones from MANIA: “Write our names in the wet concrete / I wonder if your therapist knows / Everything about me”

#18 Chicago Is so Two Years Ago from Take This To Your Grave: “You want apologies, girl, you might hold your breath / Until your breathing stops forever, forever”

#19 Thnks fr th Mmrs from Infinity on High: “Been looking forward to the future / But my eyesight is going bad / And this crystal ball / It’s always cloudy except for / When you look into the past”

#20 America’s Suitehearts from Folie à Deux: “I must confess / I’m in love with my own sins”

To save you the time, if you want to see my full list here is the link.

The Bottom 5: 

#107 American Made, #108 Demigods, #109 We Were Doomed From The Start (The King Is Dead), #110 Art Of Keeping Up Disappearances, #111 Eternal Summer, all from PAX AM Days

PAX•AM Days was released directly after Save Rock and Roll, included as a deluxe version of the album actually. It’s an incredibly grungy and hardcore punk compilation of 7 songs, and I hate 5 out of the 7 of them. Just not my cup of tea. I’m almost glad they exist so I didn’t have to put any songs I actually liked in the last slots. 

So there you have it: My humble but final opinion on the Ranking of all 111 Fall Out Boy songs. If you have any difference of opinion- kindly keep it to yourself. Be on the lookout for more of these… perhaps for the other two bands of the emo trinity… 😉

Check out my two playlists below, if you’d like to listen to all of FOB in order or in my ranking order.

How Thrifting has changed my Life

By: Lauren Crupi

During my childhood, shopping at thrift stores was a regular occurrence. I often reminisce about the days I would spend at my grandparents’ house, which were filled with Salvation Army trips and lunch stops at McDonalds. My parents are both hardworking individuals who never failed to provide for our family. They have always shopped smart and instilled the value of a dollar into my life at a very young age. 

I have always had a love for clothing. For me, fashion is a way with words. I was a bit introverted and quiet, but I found that my outfits could speak for me. At first when I began thrifting, I was on the lookout for brands such as PINK, Hollister and Abercrombie (since I was a middle schooler struggling to fit in and could not persuade my mom to purchase a hoodie for $60). Sooner or later I was sick of seeing every girl wear the same thing and decided to start shopping for “myself”.Thrifting allowed me to try out new styles that I never would have before since the price was right. Thrifting allowed me to develop a sense of style that I never had before.

I believe that highschool was my breakthrough for style. Although everyone’s highschool experience was different, I believe that my choice in attending a vocational school greatly influenced the way that I began to view myself and others. I never had a huge group of friends until I was accepted into the health assisting shop, which is basically pre-nursing. I was surrounded with 26 hardworking and bright women who empowered me and others everyday at school. Simple compliments about my outfits and just compliments in general allowed me to feel acceptance that I had never felt before. Although I am not continuing my career path in the health field, I credit my health assisting girls for instilling me with confidence that I still try to carry with me today.

The number one thing thrifting has taught me to not care about is size. For years I have struggled with body dysmorphia. I would panic when I would have to take pictures at an outing with my friends or family because I was ashamed with what I saw in the mirror everyday. It wasn’t until I looked at those photos that I appeared totally different from what I saw in my reflection. Thrifting has allowed me to focus on the piece, not the size. With vintage pieces especially, I’ve had to size up with most items and it has made me not worry as much about the size I am, as long as it fits and makes me feel good. I discovered that it was easy to personalize a piece to my liking, whether it was cropping a shirt or cutting jeans into shorts. These simple adjustments have not only helped me keep fashion fresh, but they allowed me to finally accept myself the way that I was. Thrifting has made me embrace and love the body I was given.

I believe that everyone should try to thrift something once in their lifetime. Thrifting gives back to the community and prevents waste that accumulates from fast fashion retailers. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been on the hunt for a certain item and ended up finding it or something extremely similar at the thrift. I remember when I thrifted my favorite pair of vintage Levi’s for five dollars and felt this rush that I soon knew I wanted to reach again.  Thrifting fashion is one of the ways that I try to reduce waste and help the environment. I know thrifting isn’t for everyone, but I recommend everyone to try it. Whether you attend a yard sale, flea market, or thrift store, you are impacting the world and community in a sustainable way. Thrifting has changed my life and it could definitely change yours too.

You’re Probably the Villain in Someone Else’s Story

I know, this sounds like bad news. But there’s also good news- just because you’re most likely the bad guy in someone else’s world, doesn’t mean you’re an inherently bad person. Which probably sounds self-explanatory to some, but for an empath like myself, it took me years to understand this. 

I’ve been thinking about this unspoken reality for the last couple of weeks, since seeing a quote that more or less summarized this idea on Instagram. As someone who has gained (but also lost) a few friendships in 2020, I think it was a reminder that I really needed to hear. Because yes, we are all going to make mistakes at some point in our lives or make a personal choice that may not make the people around us happy. However, it’s important to realize that our mistakes do not define us and other peoples’ opinions of us do not paint a full picture of who we are, either. We are complicated beings and we are never going to please everyone. 

I’m not the sort of person who likes to throw around dirty laundry or dig up old drama, but I did want to talk ambiguously about how I am almost definitely the “bad guy” in other peoples’ lives and how that has had an impact on me throughout my entire adult life. The story I want to tell you happened about seven months ago, when I was single and enjoying casual dating/dates, and spending most of my senior year of college just enjoying my final months with my close circle of friends. In short, here’s what happened last February: one of my good friends expressed that she found a guy at our school attractive, and shortly after, I started dating him. She was hurt and felt as though I had betrayed her trust. I was at fault for not telling her I had been seeing him casually, and that we were falling in love/going to start dating. If I had been in her situation, I probably would have been hurt and upset as well. Our friendship ended up falling apart, and since then, I have definitely become the villain in her story. 

Although it was an all-around shitty situation for everyone (including me, even though I got the happy resolution of being with my wonderful boyfriend), I was very upset with the way this person decided to paint from that time forward (and how I began to feel confused about my own identity or morality). Like I said, I was now the villain and the shitty friend. I was the person who clearly lacked clear judgment and empathy. But what bothered me the most was the fact that I knew I was not that person. I am a good person, with strong empathy and a good sense of judgment, who made one mistake. And from this point on, whoever she chose to tell this story to, they would instantly judge me without even knowing me or hearing my side of the story. They would never know that this was a friendship I had to grieve for a long, long time, one that I truly felt remorse and pain for how things had panned out. And maybe that’s okay, because it’s not my version of the story to tell. I recognize that I am not a perfect person, but I am also just a person. I am also not going to allow other people to change my internal view of myself, and I am not going to push a narrative onto myself that I am inherently “bad” for my missteps. And neither should you. 

Going through something like that and losing more friendships along the way has caused me to harbor less judgment for others, because I’m starting to think about the world in an external way rather than a narrative that the world is centric around my own existence. I know what it’s like to have people hate you when they don’t even know you and know what you are (and were) going through in that situation, and I think that’s something we need to remember when we are making assumptions about others. You don’t know what the second side of the story is unless you’re a part of it. People are free to believe whatever they want about you and your choices, but try not to be too hard on yourself if you know within yourself that your story is being mistold. You may be the villain in someone else’s story, but that doesn’t mean you should feel guilty about being your own hero when you need to for your own mental health and wellness. After all, at the end of the day, you’re the lead role of your own life.