The Ghost of Apartment 14 

Our study abroad, two-week stay in Galway, Ireland in the summer of 2016 began like every other new day in a new place did. However, it quickly got rather, interesting…

Once safely ensconced in our new apartment, Sarah and I were roused from our dozes in our new bedrooms by Ryan, our third roommate, asking us with a bit of a quaver in his voice, “Have either of you have used the bathroom yet?”

When we answered no, Ryan, laughing with a panicky edge, asked Sarah and I to come look at the bathroom door handle. Before we got but a few steps down the creaky, sloped hardwood floors our bedroom doors slammed shut with what we assumed was just wind from our open windows. Reaching the bathroom and a wide-eyed Ryan, he just pointed our gaze to the handle, and there, in stark red was what looked like a bloody handprint.

Now being an almost religious watcher of all things crime shows I knew that the likelihood that for this mean anything besides the last person to use the bathroom had red paint or wet nail polish or something on their hand was an astronomically small chance, so we wiped the handle clean and left to enjoy the day. After a day of new sights and no small amount of getting lost, all five of us packed into the living to watch a movie or two and enjoy some Irish refreshments.

Bang! A door slammed shut somewhere down the hall, all of us jumped and looked at each other, for a few minutes we played around with the idea of air pressure and wind gusts and we quickly dismissed it. But the next day windows closed in the morning that were open when we went to sleep, and the skylight windows were open and then slammed shut. Throughout the two weeks we stayed in apartment 14, we heard doors creaking, closing, opening, voices when no one else is talking in the apartment, and people moving around in the apartment when no one else was home or even worse when Ryan, Sarah, Stuart, Rachel and I were all in the same room together.

The culminating ghostly behavior occurred on our second to last day in apartment 14. Ryan, whose room was the only one with a balcony, asked myself and our other roommate if we’d been out on his balcony last night. When we said no, just like for the door handle, Ryan informed us of the creepiest conclusion that this conversation could have had at that point. He woke up that morning and immediately saw a hand print pressed into the outside of our third story apartment sliding glass doors. His balcony had no access from the street and Ryan wasn’t outside that night at all.

Joking about all these occurrences and our friendly or at least apathetic ghost of apartment 14 with the other seven of our study abroad group, Nora a girl on our trip, told us that she looked up the construction of the apartments because she was confused how some of the student’s apartments opened onto the courtyard and some onto the street. She told us the following story:

“The man who made this entire apartment complex, made them with really cheap materials to make more money off the construction. In his hurry to get away with the low-cost construction he cut corners on obeying Ireland’s building codes, for example not having apartments be directly walk-up off the street. The backers for the project eventually found out about the contractor’s poor construction and code violations and were going to tear the place down and press charges against the contractor. Hearing all this through good old Irish gossip the contractor went to the apartments, walked up to apartment 15 and killed himself. And because of this the backers let the project stand and use the apartments for a long-stay hotel.”

At the point, understandably our group freaked out. Maybe this contractor is our apartment 14 ghost?

All I know is that Ireland to me felt like the thinnest place I have ever been in relation to how close you feel to some kind of otherworldliness when just walking down the streets of Galway or out in the middle of a ruin. While in Galway, I also experienced personally strange things. For example, a tattoo that I got on a Tuesday was completely healed by Wednesday night, my body’s responses to daily medication were going haywire, and all of this only occurred while inside the apartment. So whether you believe in ghosts or not, sometimes things happen that are a little too coincidental to overlook.

Happy ghost hunting and haunting this October, just watch out for the door handles near you.

Candid Confessions of a Minimalist 

You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at my closet, but I’m a minimalist. Okay, maybe I’m an aspiring minimalist. If you can see past the mountains of Steve Maddens and patterned ties, then you’ll realize I’m trying to live a simplistic lifestyle. You see, the trick is to exude luxury but practice frugality. Essentially, I’m a human peacock. This is the precise reason I had a hard time picking an item on

One could make a case for buying any item on that website but when everything is special, nothing seems special. Everything starts to blend in together as unusual novelty items or gag gifts. Although, amid all of the quirky items on the website, you are bound to find something that screams, “How did I go my whole life existing without this thing?”

I believe the only way I will ever fully embrace a minimalist lifestyle is by forcing myself to live in such a manner. I think the perfect way to do this is to build a tiny house. So, when I came across the building plans for a tiny house on the website, I had to take the plunge.


For $350 I thought I was getting a tiny house, but apparently that’s only enough to cover the plans for making the house. In an ironic twist, becoming a minimalist looked like it was going to be very expensive. Fortunately, the plan I chose included the descriptive steps on how to construct a tiny house that was pet friendly, solar powered, and harvested rainwater. Talk about being off the grid! A house that small and efficient is the perfect first step to using less resources in my life. On second thought, a tiny house seems like a good fourth or fifth step. Although, when I do decide to take that giant leap, will be reason I can invite company to my tiny house and say, “This is why I’m rich!”

Fighting Back…One Bug at a Time

Amidst mushroom desk lamps, cheeseburger backpacks, edible alcoholic bubbles, and Pokémon bath bombs, I drifted into another dimension of reality on ThisIsWhyI’ A reality where I could keep secret stashes of money in my flip-flops and amuse myself with floating fireballs. A world where geeky gadgets are a normality and where the Dark Knight’s Batpod is a perfectly acceptable purchase (and only for a mere $106,350.08).

After gazing and scrolling for much too long on a couch in Carrier, I finally picked my desired item—a rechargeable bug vacuum. As I read the description for this nifty tool, my mind filled with fantasies of twirling around my bug-ridden house sucking them up and laughing hysterically.


No more squishing bug guts on your foot or using precious toilet paper to smash them. And let’s be honest, in those moments we all chuck the dead bug—toilet paper and all—into the toilet, flush, and run frantically out of the room. Gone are the sleepless nights where you lay awake waiting for a giant spider to crawl across your face. Who made insects the master of us? It’s time to take back control of our living spaces and rid our residences of these horrendous creatures.

Not only can the rechargeable bug vacuum protect your home, it’s small enough to fit in a backpack. That means you can transport it into your classrooms and whip it out any time to defend yourself. You will automatically be the coolest kid at school. Also, wearing it in a holster around your waist will hands-down guarantee more friends.

For only $22.99 this must-have weapon of self-defense can be yours. It includes a built-in LED to enhance visibility in the dark, and it’s USB charged. If your broke college bank account can’t handle it, use a credit card—disclaimer: that’s what they’re for. Debt ain’t got nothing on you. So click the link, take a leap, and join the masses of people combating bugs efficiently and without the squishy mess. Let’s take back the fight against bugs and suck them up—one bug at a time.

And So It Begins With Wonder… is one of the most ridiculous sites I have ever been on. However, my trip down buyer’s remorse lane began as my professor says philosophy did, with wonder. I spent entirely too long scrolling through tons of pages of things that I could see myself buying, things that I could see my family or friends buying or things that I could never see the need for, ever. As I kept scrolling down, the ever present top menu bar drew my attention one to many times. I realized that next to the “popular” items tag, which I had been previously been scrolling through, were two page options of “Gifts for Men” followed by ♂ and the page “Gifts for Woman” followed by you guessed it, ♀.

Now being who I am, (a strong, independent, feminist, female who “don’t need no” gendered product placement) I was instantly intrigued by the idea that even on a website so ridiculous as they had gendered sections that followed the typical male/female gender split when it comes to strange and expensive gifts. In the female side everything from the first five to ten pages was strictly beauty products and sexual “gifts” that would not only be incredibly inappropriate to receive but are made not for the woman but for her significant other or partner almost unequivocally. But that’s not the page from which I chose my object to spend all my rent money on. No, in between all the anatomical jokes, BBQ tools, gun shaped objects and for some reason chocolate flavored whiskey, I had a tough choice ahead of me.

Finally, after trolling through what felt like miles of brown and black packaging with bold white text, I had it narrowed down to three objects. The military diaper backpack, the men’s yoga mat, and hand scrub for men were my final contestants. And after extensive thought I settled on the cheapest option, because why break the bank while creating a social commentary on the ridiculousness of overly gendered products?

If you guessed that my product of choice is the Organic Man Hand Scrub, you’re right! The website describes this product as, “Keep your manly hooks clean without feeling emasculated by using this rough hand scrub for men. Handmade from natural ingredients, this organic scrub softens and exfoliates the skin without leaving behind a feminine scent.”

il_fullxfull-973889080_j7mhI for one have never worried about losing my femininity by perhaps scrubbing my hands with man hand scrub, but I guess this product will teach me to be more cautious in my sanitary purchases. Clearly, I have been wasting my potential for strength and a more respectable, manly scent by not purchasing “for men” soaps and shampoos. I wonder if the scrub comes with instructions for how to de-woman the tap water that is needed to use this product too, or if the men who use it are just counseled to only use boiling water to prevent from immediate “emasculation”?

But all jokes aside folks, over gendering, or even just gendering, products creates a binary that is just not needed in the world today. There should be no pressure put on the men in our world that says that they can’t enjoy smelling like calming lavender instead of bacon. There should be no worry based on the products someone uses, that they are going to lose everything that they hold dear to themselves in how they regard their own gender. I encourage you all, men and women to confront this idea of “this is only for this gender because…”, because superheroes are awesome and should be for everyone, as should organic hand scrubs.




Hide your credit card, folks…


Taking a trip through the archives of ThisIsWhyI’ may not seem like the best idea for a broke college student, but hidden amongst the obsolete, functionally redundant, and patently absurd are some true gems. Sunscreen drones, runaway alarm clocks, real-life laser lightsabers—there’s something for every kind of person. But what to choose? While the edible spray paint and remote control tarantula had real potential, when the sleek Cacoon hanging nest crossed my screen, I was done for. With my ragged, sap-stained double-wide hammock dangling limply in my peripheral vision, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hang in comfort—and style.

A red Cacoon swinging in the desert.

Are you thinking about joining the legions of intrepid students who hang up their hammocks and study on the Quad, but worried about the lack of suitable pairs of trees? Worry no longer! For a mere $300 (you don’t really need that one textbook, right?), you won’t have to concern yourself about things like distance between tree trunks—simply find a strong limb and string up the Cacoon! You’ll be swinging pretty in no time.

The Cacoon comes from a burgeoning niche of makers of suspended “nests” and “hangouts,” but sets itself apart in form and quality. Featured on such diverse sites as HomeDIT, Design-Milk, TrendHunter, and High Snobiety, the Cacoon has been making waves since it first came on the scene in 2013. Inspired by the hanging nests of the Weaver bird, the creators say “you too can hide away, sheltered and cocooned, but still in touch with your surroundings.” (Oh, have I mentioned you can sleep in it too?)


With a host of sizes, colors, and forms (try the indoor version if you’ve got high ceilings, or the double-doored Songo for a more open feel), the Cacoon also has numerous accessories available—doors, bug nets, and free-standing tripods so you can use it even if you can’t find a tree! [Please note that we do not suggest setting up large free-standing structures on the Quad, and cannot be held responsible if you are chased down by campus police.] The standard Cacoon is the perfect size for you and your bookbag, and has an important advantage over hammocks, because its upright construction means that you won’t be constantly shifting and sighing as you attempt to actually be as comfortable as you want to look!

Enjoy the attention—or don’t, if you’d rather close the door—as you kick back and study in comfort and class. If that’s not worth a bit of loan money, I don’t know what is!


Why spend money on food or gas when you can have…


As the TAD writing team returns for fall semester, so does our silliness. For this month’s blog we will attempt to persuade the other poor souls in college why our chosen items from ThisIsWhyI’ is necessary in their lives.  And so, down the rabbit hole of very cool, but very unnecessary items I went, emerging into a world where panda onesies, offensive fortune cookies and inflatable bumper soccer existed!

Amidst the camera lens coffee mugs, deluxe mermaid tails, bubble wrap calendars, and target practice alarm clocks, I finally found something my heart just couldn’t say no to: a USB typewriter.  For a mere $799, you’ll be able to write in style while satisfying your inner hipster!  The real question isn’t why you should buy this practical tool, it’s why you shouldn’t.  Who needs money for food or gas when you can own a USB typewriter?!


Ladies and gentleman, forget soulless Mac laptops that all look the same, you can add personality and diversity to your workflow.

Rated highly as a “groundbreaking advancement in the field of obsolescence” by those who sell it, this outstanding product represents the holy matrimony of manual and digital.  The USB typewriter lets writers type out their thoughts on paper even as it electronically records to an SD card.  Not to mention, this versatile device can also function as a keyboard for your desktop or tablet computer and iPad, while Bluetooth allows users to connect to smartphones as well.

Rave reviews have poured in all over; it’s been featured on NPR, Wired, CNN, was named one of the “Top iPad Accessories” by PC Magazine, and even Martha Stewart has joined the bandwagon.  A product of this caliber might even be something that Kanye would love more than Kanye!

The USB typewriter will earn you the envy of everyone on the block, or at least everyone in your office when you bring that bad boy in to work.  Indulge yourself or a loved one, but mainly yourself, in this functional and practical treat.  Join the cult that is the USB Typewriter.


Opening Statement Presidential Debate: Analogy

Good evening my fellow Americans, it is with great pride and humility that I stand on this stage for the first Republican Presidential Debate of 2016. I am honored to share my plan on how I will bring this country back to all its glory and to the true intentions of our founding fathers. We have come to a critical point in our country’s history. America has the opportunity to chose the path that will lead it to inevitable doom or everlasting prosperity. American right now stands like a perplexed young adolescent who is faced with the task of picking one last prepubescent warrior that will lead their kickball team to the spoils of the playground. I stand here tonight to tell you that I am that prepubescent warrior. I have studied my opponents like an agitated employee studies the clock the last hour of their shift. And just like a hurried and nonobservant person who rushes into the wrong bathroom, I have found that it pays to double check the signs that each of my opponents displays. For example, on first glance Marco Rubio may appear to be a well poised and intelligent politician but if you look deeper you’ll see he’s more like a reluctant ring bearer who was forced by his mother to be in his aunt’s wedding.


And then there’s Ted Cruz. He may claim to be a wholesome Christian conservative, but I am dubious about some of his convictions. Voting for Ted Cruz is like eating at a sketchy restaurant for the first time. You hope in good faith that they thoroughly wash their dishes but there’s a good to fair chance that your fork just got a good spit shine the night before.


And who can forget Ben Carson? Carson is heralded as a paradigm for the rare and ever decreasing group that is black republicans. But to them I say, “Carson is not your hero!” If anything, he is like a superhero who takes to much melatonin and shows up late and disoriented to the crime scene.


Last but certainly least, we have Donald Trump. There are so many things I can say about this man but I will only say one out of fear that I will raise his ego like a pimple raises the night before the big dance. Voting for Donald Trump is like picking the biggest and tallest kid for kickball only to find out that their oversized stature only stifles their mobility. Sometimes the bigger they are, the harder they fall.




The Heart and Soul of James Madison University