Tackle the Blues

For an upcoming Crow’s Nest article, I recently attended the stress management discussion hosted by Dr. Anita Sahgal and Dr. Sara Leslie.

I have to be honest; I was disappointed that no students showed up. If I did not go to write an article about it, only one person would have sat through the discussion.

While jotting down notes and quotes, I learned that stress is individualized – not a new concept to me, but a refreshing one.

In times of stress, it helps to know that organization, talking out problems with friends and family and exercising are a few ideas to make the world stop – at least for a minute.

I have always been an advocate for positive de-stressing. A semester away from graduating, I have to admit that I am a veteran of good, wholesome de-stressing.

Take a look at tips and tricks suggested by experts Sahgal and Leslie in my approaching article. But for now, here are a few of my personal de-stressing tips that came in handy during my four years as a student.

1. Power naps – The point is not to fall asleep but to rest. I know it is difficult to do but get comfortable somewhere, close your eyes, focus on your breathing and nothing else. Know that it is possible to clear your mind for at least 15 or 20 minutes. I power napped many times in my car.

2. Clean. Clean. Clean. Clean something – anything. Cleaning helps to clear the mind and it gives you a sense of control. Do not clean something that is going to frustrate you more – like the blinds or the garage. Throw out the junk in your car or reorganize your closet.

3. Favorite Foods. When I am stressed I like to make my self happy by doing something I like to do. Cooking and baking my favorite foods helps me feel replenished.

4. Reassurance. I think that stress is often produced by self-consciousness or a lack in confidence. Talk to a close friend or family member who will tell you your positive characteristics. Make sure you can trust a person who will tell you the truth and not what you want to hear.

5. Let it all out. Cry, scream, run 10 miles or vent to someone you trust.

6. Pin point. Try to put a finger on what exactly is bothering you. Understanding the problem will help you to solve the issue.

7. Beach. Imagine currently living in Maine and stressing out. We live in Florida people, and it’s sunny with a high of 75 right now on Nov. 15. Go to the beach! Relax.

8. Get out of the library. I know that Nelson Poynter Library is a home away from home to most of us. But get your nose out of the books for a few moments. Taking breaks in between studying always helps me to stay focused.

9. Evaluate your relationships. Having an ongoing fight with someone? Feel jealous, angry, bitter or spiteful? Figure out how you will deal with it. Don’t let it linger because everyone else will see that dark cloud hovering over your head.

10. Set priorities. I will never forget this valuable piece of information: work now, play later. If you get in the routine of doing so, I guarantee you will feel accomplished and less stressed. Yes, easier said than done. It takes strength and motivation.

When it comes to stress, remember to assess your problems and feel good inside.

Hunting for lunch? A few ideas for students

The lunch hunt is on for many hungry USF St. Petersburg students during those precious few minutes between classes.

The plans for the new Chick-fil-a Express in Coquina Club are slowing due to renovation plans and red tape. Owner David Neely said the opening is probably a few months away.

So if packing a lunch mid-way through the semester is growing old, here are a few places to try.

Coney Island Grill

The old-style restaurant cranks out consistent diner-style food every day except Sundays.

Chili dogs, BLT’s, hamburgers and milk shakes have been a main staple in the St. Petersburg shop for over 82 years. The historic experience is pleasant and the price is almost the lowest anywhere downtown.

Tavern at Bayboro

Of course, the USF St. Petersburg campus would not be the same without the Tavern.

Alexis Stillwell recently met Dan Delmonte, fellow USF St. Petersburg business student, at the Tavern to discuss a class project. With a Sangria setting next to her on the table, Stillwell said she loves the Tavern because it serves alcohol.

Delmonte said he gets the ham and swiss Tennessee Williams sandwich when eating at the Tavern. Another student, Orve Johanson, said he loves the Tavern’s Cuban sandwiches.

Ceviche’s

While a little expensive, Stillwell’s favorite lunch spot off campus is Ceviche’s Pincho y Pincho. The restaurant boasts an elegant yet simple experience with excellent service.

“People don’t know this but they’re open for lunch. It’s really good,” said Stillwell.

Moon Under Water

Just a short walk from Straub Park and Bay Walk, Moon Under Water has a British-Colonial feel and boasts cubans, burgers and salads for lunch.

“They have good beers on tab,” said Emily Waynewright, junior at USF St. Petersburg and Moon Under Water server.

The Ultimate Beach Makeover

In an attempt to escape the ravages of homework, I set out to see the new Beach Walk in Clearwater.

Those familiar with Clearwater Beach know two things: It’s a major tourist attraction in desperate need of additional parking and it is laden with contruction. These two factors definitely kept me from visiting the beach in the past few years

But now, I’m in love with the place.

The new Beach Walk gives the beach a whole new appeal. It is a winding, paved walkway with a original look, as if someone placed plastic bags over the cement, lifted them up and left crinkles to give the cement a unique texture. Lined with mini light poles, sunset will give the walkway a romantic ambiance.

Beach Walk is a great place for a first date. Pick up an ice cream cone at Barefoot Beach House, walk down to Pier 60 where there is free entertainment and then watch the sunset. (Men, you can thank me later for the cheap-date pointers.)

The best part about my Beach Walk experience, other than dragging my mom with me, was looking at the enormous sun-dial in the middle of the walkway. I take that back. The best part was when a man walked up to us and asked if the sun-dial was working. Enough said there.

And the most surprising part? How fresh Clearwater Beach looks. More sea oats, sand dunes, Bird-of-Paradise and palm trees made me feel like I was in Hawaii and Miami simultaneously. There is plenty of seating, especially in the new medians that, according to my Mom, look like mini Central Parks.

Parking still seems to be an issue even with new metered spaces along the median. There is a new parking lot on the south end of Beach Walk that is still under construction.

There are showers along Beach Walk that all share an adorable eccentricity; a plush-looking sea turtle sits atop the showers. The turtle is sitting on one shower and on another he is in a dancing position.

As much as Clearwater Beach changed, the old beach aura that we all know and love still exists. Sun-baked babes continue to play volleyball, get henna tattoos at a pagoda, eat at the same beach-side restaurants and browse the artisan vendors on the boardwalk pier.

The entertainment is all around and the beach is a prime spot to people-watch. Besides New York City, it is one of the few places to see Captain Jack Sparrow and a man dressed in military garb, painted in a bronze shade and standing as a statue within 20 feet of one another.

Do not worry. Clearwater Beach maintains its classic features.

My mom said it better than I could: the beach had a major face-lift.

Students Reflect Presidential Picks

With the November election fast approaching, opinions vary on political issues both around nation and across campus.

Lauren Vicari, Finance Major at USF St. Petersburg plans to vote for Senator Barack Obama and calls herself a liberal. She said she is concerned with the economy and how it is “more unstable than it once was.”

Vicari believes Barack Obama will create more jobs and bring forth green technologies. “If he [Obama] hires a good team and cabinet, he will do fine,” said Vicari.

Brad Parker, an accounting major at USF St. Petersburg, said he is supporting John McCain.

“I am very happy with the choice of [Governor Sarah] Palin,” said Parker, who finds the vice presidential candidates humorously opposite from their selected running mates.

“Part of me is pushing more for McCain because I do not want Obama to be president,” Parker said.

Brian Mahoney, a USF St. Petersburg student is undecided on choosing a presidential candidate.

Like many college students, Mahoney said he is concerned about the economy and will likely vote for McCain. He said the Republican Party is “the default,” although he does not personally side with either party.

Andrew J. Wilson, graduate student at USF said he tried to look at the candidate’s policies that made the most sense. “After much deliberation and research, I have decided to vote for Barack,” he said.

“With John McCain, I saw automatic hypocrisy. The guy has all these lobbyists working for him,” Said Wilson.

R.J. Denton, a USF student pursing an education degree, is undecided. While originally supporting Obama, Denton reconsidered after McCain chose Palin as a running mate.

“I was more aligned with Obama’s policies,” Denton said. “I think he [Obama] emphasizes more change than McCain.”

Even though he likes Palin as McCain’s running mate, Denton, a registered republican, said if the election was held today he would vote for Obama.

“I’m going to vote for the best person who can lead the country,” Denton said

Normality in a Surrealist’s Life

This summer, I had the opportunity to interview Joan Mann, owner of Howard Mann Art Center in Lambertville, NJ. The interview turned into a two-hour, delightful conversation about famous artists of the early twentieth century – specifically Salvador Dali – who Joan and Howard Mann were great friends with.

When I arrived back at USF St. Petersburg for the Fall semester, I walked around the Dali museum on campus, reminded of Joan Mann’s stories.

As I made my way through the museum looking for the film documentary about Dali’s wife, Gala, I glanced at his hanging masterpieces and got a flashback of Joan pointing out a personalized painting from Dali that hung on the wall beside her desk. Joan Mann made Dali feel real to me –more than just a surrealist or a filmmaker – but an average person who was inspired by his wife.

And then I found it: Gala, a documentary film by Elena Dimitrievna Diakonova. I watched it three times.

The film highlights Gala’s extensive influence on Dali’s career. Dali used Gala as a model in several of his works. One commentator said that in a way, Gala taught Dali the technique he used in his paintings. She also read to Dali while he worked.

Besides the shortened interpretation of Gala’s dynamic persona in the film, what stuck out to me the most is the love that Dali and Gala shared for each other.

Gala was irreplaceable to Dali.

“Had I not found Gala…I wouldn’t be called normal,” said Dali.

An information board in the exhibit expressed the inner depths of the couple’s love: “Gala was ‘my intimate truth, my double, my one’ and he [Dali] developed with her an intertwined public persona, signing his paintings “Gala Salvador Dali.”

Immediately I think of Joan.

Joan Mann lost her husband several years ago, and I cannot help but compare Joan with Dali: both loved and lost, but their true loves impacted a huge part of their lives and left a legacy of love and friendship that is expressed through the art collections in the Dali Museum and the Howard Mann Art Center.

St. Petersburg espresso & tea: top 3 get-a-way spots near campus

Finding a good coffee shop near USF St. Petersburg can be challenging. After talking to students and scouring the city, here are the top three places recommended for a good drink and a welcoming, student-friendly atmosphere.

1) The Hooker Tea Company

While most people are in the mood for coffee when needing a get-a-way spot for studying or conversation with a friend, the Hooker Tea Company on Beach Dr. and 3rd Avenue across the street from Straub Park offers an interesting alternative to espresso-based coffee shops.

Decorated in simple dark-wood furniture, draping white-linen fabric and small bamboo plants, this tea shop is full of surprises.

Co-owner Kendra Rodriguez is passionate about her business. Two years ago Rodriguez and her business partner, Shawn Hooker, thought up the concept for the Hooker Tea Company.

A long wall behind the store’s counter is filled with 106 teas stored in chrome colored canisters. Within five questions, Rodriguez can narrow the intimidating wall of tea down to a few choices. She enjoys pulling the teas down from the wall and allowing the customer to experience it by smelling their options.

Hooker Tea Company often has game nights, “Tea & Terra” and “Tea & Wii.” Rodriguezus, who helped opened the store in November 2006, said she is seeing more students coming. A brunch menu is also served on Saturday and Sunday and utilizes different kinds of tea in many of the menu items.

2) Cafe Bohemia

Past the busy Central Avenue restaurant district, Cafe Bohemia Espresso Bistro is a local, community-centered coffee shop on Central Avenue and 9th Street.

Matt Neil, owner of Cafe Bohemia, said he cares a lot about making coffee in the traditional way. “We will throw a bad drink out before we give it to someone because we love espresso drinks ourselves,” he said.

The coffee is purchased from a local roaster in Tampa and makes most of their ingredients from scratch. The cafe serves a full menu of wraps, sandwiches, salads and lots of drinks.

One corner of this busy coffee shop has an unorganized bookshelf and local art on every wall. A sign near the bar reads, “Please don’t ask us for a all…grande….viente…caramel, macchiato, frappuccino. Respectfully, we are not Starbucks. Thanks!”

3) Kahwa Coffee Roasting

A new coffee shop, Kahwa Coffee Roasting, opened in March on 5th Avenue N. and 2nd Street and is offering a 10 percent discount for USF St. Petersburg students. The cafe has an industrial feel with large windows and concrete floors.

The cafe is only a bi-product of the roasting company that opened three years ago. Kahwa roasts for over 50 locals restaurants, explained Chathrine Thibault, part owner of Kahwa Coffee Roasting.

“Coffee roasting is…like making a good dish,” said Thibault. “It’s all about the good ingredients and knowing how to put them together and cooking them to the right temperature.”

Thibault said the iced mocha, made with pure mocha, is popular at Kahwa.