‘Impermeably and forever’: Reflecting on Rory Gilmore’s graduation speech

“Gilmore Girls” has been a comfort show of mine for years. Through my many watches, I’ve processed that Rory Gilmore is no perfect character. In fact, she’s one of the farthest main characters from “perfect” that I have come to know in my 22 years of reading, watching and learning. While she and Lorelai didn’t always get everything right, they’ve shaped who I am from some of their best moments and I’ve learned from watching some of their worst. 

One of Rory’s biggest, humblest moments (and simultaneously one of her best) is her Chilton valedictorian speech. In it, she touches on all that she learned and all those she loved. It is this speech that feels like the most relatable piece of Rory’s character for me at this moment in time. It felt that way at the end of high school, and it feels the most fitting now as the class of 2023 enters our final semester.

Because the speech feels so fitting, I’m going to follow its framework as I reflect on the people and the things that made these four years possible and made them worth all the work they required before I fully embark on my last semester on Notre Dame’s campus. A semester that I know will be full of light and laughs, but that ultimately came too quickly.

“I live in two worlds. One is a world of books.” 

For anyone who knows me, they know I understand that the ability to read and write day in and day out has been a gift. I’ll pick up anything from a pop culture magazine to Proust and read them cover to cover. Sure, reading has been tedious at times, but this university gifted me with the space to explore. My very first class started with Sophocles and his stories about Oedipus and Antigone. I learned that a coffee mug has one side and is, in fact, a doughnut. We read everything from Plato and St. Augustine to Betty Friedan and Malcolm X. And I defeated George Foreman with Muhammad Ali after simulating an acid trip with Timothy Leary. I can’t thank my professors enough for introducing me to some of the greatest minds of every generation. Especially the professors that have become my mentors in other facets of my work, as well.

I have not only read as much as I wanted, but I’ve also had the chance to put pen to paper. I’ve written essays I couldn’t be prouder of (and some I wish to never see again). I’ve interviewed some of the coolest athletes and coaches this university — or the world — has ever seen. And I’ve told their stories the best way I knew how. Writing has been an outlet and an exercise throughout my four years. I am so grateful to have taken the classes I did. They really focused on using the knowledge I gained in the ways I knew how: in my own voice.

And to The Observer, for training my journalistic voice in ways I would never be able to just in the classroom. There’s nothing more important to me than the work I have done in the basement of South Dining Hall. I will carry those skills for the rest of my life. And I hope to always read all the important work student journalists do on our campus each and every day. 

“It’s a rewarding world, but my second one is by far superior.” 

I am so grateful for all that I have learned here, but that is a fraction of what Notre Dame has come to mean to me. My second world includes the people I have had the chance to meet here. These people, like the people of Stars Hollow to Rory Gilmore, are eclectic, fun and beyond intelligent. Everyone I have come to know on this campus is “supremely real, made of flesh and bone and full of love.” I could not have grown and learned in all the ways that I have without the discourse, the support and the care of my friends here. 

From late nights in the library to similarly late nights out. From fabulous birthday parties to sitting on the couch playing a board game. I have come to recognize the people here as my family. Without them, my life here would not be the same. They let me cry in my hardest times, called me out in my stupidest and celebrated with me my achievements, no matter how big or small. I am every bit who I am after these four years because I got to know them. To the group of friends born of a math class we had to take — despite none of us wanting anything to do with math — I am so lucky we bonded as tightly and quickly as we did. To the friends who have come since then, you have come to mean the world to me, just as quickly. 

“My twin pillars … from whom I received my life’s blood and … without whom I could not stand.”

While I love it here, I had to get here first to figure that out. And it’s at this point that I stray slightly from Rory’s speech. She thanks her grandparents at this moment (and while my grandparents have always been the brightest lights in my life) I’d like to combine her words for them and her words for Lorelai into some for my parents.

To be at Notre Dame would not have been possible without the love I know from Heather and John McGinley. They truly are my twin pillars. They created a space for me to ask questions, figure things out and learn from everything I do. My mother and father “never gave me any idea I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be.” My mother showed me every role model imaginable, but none as influential as herself. And my father? He is the reason for my confidence. I never feel more prepared for anything than I do after talking to them. Without them, succeeding here simply wouldn’t be possible. And it wouldn’t mean all that it does to me. 

“But my ultimate inspiration comes from my best friend … the person I most want to be is her.” 

And I save the rest of Rory’s words for my very best friend in the entire world. My little sister is the person I learned from the most and has guided me through these four years even without trying to. She knows my every move, how I react, what to ask when I don’t know where to start and how to respond to my answer.

Without my little sister, I couldn’t do what I do. She inspires it all and I am so grateful. Weekends she would visit for football or for the hell of it were bright spots in semesters. Watching her perceive the people and spaces around me gave me new perspectives. For a while, she practically knew me better than I knew myself, and it helped me to find the right people in my life. I have so much more to learn from Ry but I cannot thank her enough for all that she’s taught me already. She’s a “dazzling woman” and the Lorelai to my Rory. She helped me to shape the person I have become and pushed me in ways no one else knows how. 

“Impermeably and forever”

The last thing I want to steal from Rory Gilmore is the sentiment that this isn’t an ending but a beginning. At least, that’s what everyone will tell us. We will get jobs. We will start new schools and we will do work in other ways and continue growing outside the gates of Our Lady’s University. Still, that doesn’t mean I want to reach my last days here and say goodbye to all of this. It has meant so much to me and become such a powerful part of who I am. 

In spite of that, I know that at some point this semester, I will catch myself wishing it were all done. Wishing I could turn in my thesis as is and finish my finals already. I caught myself doing it in the seven semesters leading up to this one. This time, though, I refuse to hurry anything, even in those moments. I am going to cherish it all. For as quickly as this semester has come, I don’t want to see it go. As Rory Gilmore said, leaving here “means leaving friends who inspire me and teachers who’ve been my mentors, so many people who’ve shaped my life… impermeably and forever.” It’s going to hurt making that leap from our home under the dome. 

But that’s the thing about it. Yes, we will be leaving, but Notre Dame will always be our home. “Impermeably and forever.”

Contact Mannion at

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


It’s time to be real

Over break, a few friends and I went to a coffee shop in South Bend. Besides serving one of the best lattes I’ve had in my life, the store is full of books that can be lent out to customers and handmade goods from local vendors.

Needless to say, it’s now one of my favorite places.

But that day, it wasn’t really about the drink I had or how my eyes traveled from bookshelf to bookshelf. It was about the very long, very real conversation I had with my friends.

After we caught up about we had been since we last saw each other, we talked for at least two hours about how much our mindset about school had changed. In the plus column, none of us felt a crippling obsession to have perfect grades. We’ve all learned that despite whatever our college-prep high school told us, grades are only one (probably flawed) way to measure how much you know.

But over the last three and a half years, we all started to notice differences in the ways our brains worked. It had become harder to concentrate while we were working and easier to become frustrated about how long it took us to do assignments. There was a lot of anxiety around doing small tasks, like answering emails. We suddenly had many things that impacted our ability to the day-to-day activities we had done for years.

There will probably some people reading this column who think all of these things are signs of our generation. That we’re lazy and just can’t cope with circumstances that are manageable for many others.

But I’ve thought a lot about the many stories I’ve heard about women who have been diagnosed with ADHD in their 20s and 30s. For many years, I’ve taken for granted some things that probably signs of having a larger problem. I’m very forgetful, even after someone asks me to do something more than once. I’m easily overwhelmed in rooms where a lot of people talking at once. I procrastinate activities that I know will make me frustrated. I feel like I’m going to claw my eyes out if I have to sit still for long periods of time.

And while I did feel like I needed to squirm in my chair while I had this conversation with my friends, we all understood not knowing how to course correct away from these obstacles. Of feeling helpless when we were normally very proactive.

As I left that coffee shop with my friends, we looked at each other and said, “Wow I thought I was only one who felt like this.” And it shouldn’t have to be like that.

Even if it’s hard or embarrassing or scary, we can’t be dismissive of the problems we think only we have. If we want it to become easier to identify and diagnose conditions that sometimes go untreated into adulthood, we must be honest with ourselves and each other.

Let’s start 2023 by having more genuine conversations about how we’re feeling. It’s time to be real.

Contact Genevieve at

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


Antique shopping

I think New Year’s resolutions are cheesy and insincere, but I sometimes make them halfway through the year. Two years ago, I made a resolution to write more and share my writing more. Needless to say, that’s a paradox I’m still working out. 

At the moment, it looks a little something like this: sentences scrawled on scraps of paper given to friends, sealed letters that sit on my desk awaiting some sudden burst of courage and journals bursting at the seams. 

Those who write for The Observer or any similar platform know the tension I’m describing. It is really quite something — relinquishing control of your words. But then again, what good can they do locked up in the dusty exhibits of your own brain?

I don’t have many answers. But occasionally, I have a compulsion to let them go, brazenly unafraid of the consequences. Here’s my latest attempt, inspired by a visit to an antique store with my childhood best friend. 

We arrived at the whimsical warehouse of forgotten stories around 4 p.m. The antique store smelled like mothballs and wet drafts, but anything can be romanticized.

There’s something substantial about a pair of jeans from the 80s, the way they’ve held up far better than my ratty jeggings from 2016. It’s real — the denim. It couldn’t last so well if it wasn’t. After weathering so much, I won’t worry if they can withstand the tailgate lots. Besides that, there’s the pride of discovery. I privately hope someone compliments the new pair, so I can chirp back: “I found them at an antique store.” That all makes $35 seem like a real bargain. 

Eager for a fresh set of displays, Britton and I wander upstairs. She finds a picture window that lights her up like the break of day. She points out antique roll-down maps and school supplies. 

“No, but why is this literally from our aging second grade classroom in St. Mark?” Britton asks with a chuckle.

The school closed in 2015, so it really would make sense. Liquidation sale.

I think we could learn a lot if we took one item and tracked its life. Sometimes I wish the old grandfather clock could talk. Or that roll-down map. It sure would know a lot about us, if it really is the same one.

In the next warehouse over, Britton sets her eye on a bowl of dainty rings, her very own diamond in the rough. As to how she found them, my reason ponders: stumped.

Britton patiently listens to me fawn over this and that, making delusional statements about how I want something in my future house despite the fact that I can’t afford a studio apartment. 

We share a sympathy for vintage dresses, agreeing that many of the cuts are far more flattering than today’s. In gowns, I gravitate toward the 40s. Britton prefers 80s or 90s. Either way, there’s a mutual respect.

Eventually we wander over a split to the south side of the building. Still more labyrinthine caverns await, and we haven’t even been upstairs.

“It would be so easy to get lost in here,” Britton remarks. “I bet they take a while to close and clear out all the corridors.”

While she speaks observantly, I too am lost in thought, pretending to be Tom Sawyer rascal-ing around dim caves. Britton and I read that book together for class — twice, because of the school closure.

I grow distracted by a box of old postcards. I like to search for places I know — and for handwritten notes. Deciphering the cursive is a spy puzzle in itself, but I’m single-focused. I can’t bear the thought of a story going to waste. 

Frantically, I try to breathe life into each, reviving the twists and turns in my own imagination. I found one letter from 1908 sent to Rockford, Michigan from New York. A simple message from a man to a woman, thanking her for agreeing to exchange letters. I wonder how they’d feel knowing I’d be a future third pen pal. I add it to my armful of loot, hoping it can be a subtle reminder of what might be out there beyond snapchats asking for nudes. 

I’ve lost Britton, but we somehow quickly reunite. The maze is thick, but our ties thicker. Settling on another colorful three-walled room, Britton begins executing a vision of prints for her wall. I stand there nearly squealing out of shared excitement. I’ve grown a bit louder now that the shop has fewer patrons.

“Tape stuff to the wall! Tape stuff to the wall!” I chant, thinking of my own collection back in South Bend.

Once she’s finished the task, I drift over to skim titles on a bookshelf. I pause to look around the now eerily empty shop. I’ve just now realized there’s not a window in sight, there hasn’t been the whole time.

Gasping with surprise, I gravitate toward a cloth-bound hardcover “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” the title gilded with shimmery foil and running down its spine.

“I call myself a Hemingway fan, and I’ve never even read this.” I say, grabbing it to my chest.

Britton is the first to notice that a light has gone dark in our shadows.

“I think it’s 6 p.m.,” she says.

Closing time.

I glance backward. Where we stood 20 minutes ago is now pitch black. Neither one of us has to say a word. We’re speed walking to the checkout, but first, we must pass an LED-lit closet housing dozens of old china dolls. Their beady eyes laser through my skull, evoking an involuntary groan of fear and disgust. I stifle it as if they might hear it.

For someone with an (irrational?) fear of hauntings and curses, I sure do forget that in antique stores. I want everything to have profound significance, but only the good kind. All memories and meaning with none of the omens.

We taste a bit of relief upon rounding the corner to find the cash register, a kind of island floating in the moat between the store’s halves. Only the counter is deserted and the front door deadbolted. 

Abandoning my collection, I urgently unlock the door, holding it firmly open with one arm — our escape route. 

Putting on a brave face, one foot still out the door, I call out: “Hello?”

Four more times with extra calls from Britton. Our shouts are greeted only by a slow creak sounding from upstairs. Even the antique service bell yields no results. I’m not superstitious, but in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have risked summoning something. 

Even though we both long to buy our discoveries — Britton her curated collage and me my century-old postcard, we quickly change our minds. The store is dark now but for one light hanging above the register. The slate-colored skies pour cold sleet out on the street outside, but the night has never seemed so comforting.

We don’t think for a second about stealing our collections, easy as it would be. We drop them on the counter and fully fling open the heavy door. 

“Actually,” I stubbornly say, “I want that tiny key.”

Remembering the price tag, I reach into my pocket for two quarters and drop them on the desk with a clip clop.

I don’t need the things; I just want the stories. 

And some people say life is nothing like a novel.

Contact Maggie Eastland at

The views expressed in this Inside column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


I requested my Notre Dame admissions file [NOT CLICKBAIT]

Title; it was disappointing (I guess it was clickbait). But we’ll get to that part later.

Your first question may be: How? My thanks to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA. Remember that box you checked on the Common App when you submitted your letters of rec? You were waiving your FERPA right to “inspect” those letters — then or later. So, mine were not included with this request.

Additionally, FERPA doesn’t let you see it all. While an Observer alum who previously requested her admissions file was able to review a few vague, cryptic comments from the admissions staff, she also had to view her documents in-person and could only take notes with pen and paper. While it’s unclear if the pandemic (or the fact that I requested my file when we were on break) resulted in mine simply getting emailed, my documents were nonetheless clear of any trace of my reviewer. So if you’re reading this as a prospective student, itching to find out how you can game the system… I’m afraid this column is not for you.

Or is it?

Your second question may be: Why? I had my reasons. For one, I seem to like cringing at myself, and the comedic potential of what I wrote as an entitled, ambitious, 17-year-old “burnt-out gifted kid” was too good. (Sidenote: If you unironically call yourself a “burnt-out gifted kid” in my presence, you will soon become a deceased one.) 

I also thought there was a kind of, I don’t know, poetry, to requesting it now. As I hunker down this week for the start of my last semester in South Bend, I am suddenly faced with a host of other “lasts.” Someday soon, I will take my last final. Someday soon, I will eat my last southwest salad. Someday soon, I will drink my last Guinness at the Backer… as a student. And today, I am writing my last inside column as Managing Editor of The Observer — in truth, my last inside column, ever. 

So let’s do like the Cha-Cha Slide and “reverse, reverse!” to before I even knew that I would (or could) get into Notre Dame.

The biggest file I received is a transcript of my Common Application. Most of it is pretty standard stuff: details about my parents, details about me. I forgot there was a “future plans” section, which I marked with “writer or journalist.” Aw.

The first part I cringe at, though, are my high school activities. For one, the activities in and of themselves are cringe (my top performer was the speech team at an appalling 33 hours per week for 22 weeks per year). But I also cringe because of just how obviously I’m selling myself. LinkedIn-ese has always made me want to crawl out of my skin and straight into the ocean, and my verbs here sound like they’re trying to prove themselves. For example, in describing my high school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, I wrote I was “inducted for academic achievement and extracurricular leadership,” which like, isn’t wrong. But my induction class also included the requisite SoundCloud rapper of my grade, so take the prestige I afforded this activity with a Grammy-sized grain of salt. 

There are also some questions specific to Notre Dame. I was asked about my local parish, which is hilarious, because even though I gladly provided it, I don’t think I’d been to mass since I was pubescent. I was asked if any siblings or relatives attended Notre Dame; at the time, this question confused me, and today I’m still confused, only for a different reason. My intended major was English — also hilarious, since I can count on literally one hand every book I read in its entirety in four years of high school (if for some reason any former English teachers of mine are reading this: it’s not your fault). I was also asked about any activities I’d like to join if I went to Notre Dame, to which I checked “student newspaper.” Aw again. 

But then, there were my essays. Jesus, take the wheel.

My general Common App essay, all things considered, wasn’t that bad. In fact, I used it as the blueprint for a speech I gave at my graduation later that year. But Notre Dame’s supplemental essays were different. 

One of the prompts that year was, “What is one thing you will definitely bring to college with you?” I said… a blanket. Boi, what the hell, boi. Who do you think you are? I then proceeded to sleep all of first semester with no blanket on my bed.

But another prompt simply said, “You have 150 words. Take a risk.” I told Notre Dame, in short, that I didn’t care if I was rejected. “I know just as well I don’t need you,” I wrote. “I’ll be happy wherever I go, because where you go is not who you are.”

Four years later, I’m struck by the candor of my 17-year-old self. In retrospect, I’m not sure I actually believed what I wrote, or if I only wrote it to persuade myself. It is also a well-documented fact that I did not expect to get in, afford or attend Notre Dame, so I guess the stakes of “taking a risk” were lower for me.

But for any prospective student reading this — no, I haven’t forgotten about you — I hope you take those words to heart, even if I didn’t when I wrote them. Like many elite American universities, Notre Dame’s acceptance rate is pretentiously low; early applicants to the class of 2027 faced a 15 percent acceptance rate this December, and the overall acceptance rate for the class of 2026 couldn’t even crack 13 percent. Those are institutional lows, and I know if I were faced with applying again, I would not have gotten in. I probably wouldn’t try.

So take it from someone in your shoes just four years ago — who’s now nearly four years through with their college degree, staring down grad school in the not-so-distant future. I’ve loved my time here, but I would have loved it anywhere. And you, too, can love where you go, and not because of anything you wrote in your “why x” essay or anything a school can promise you in a promotional pamphlet. You’ll love where you go, because you go there. You. 

Where you go is not who you are, but you’ll love where you go because of who you are.

You can contact Aidan at

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


What’s hot and what’s not

I’ve had the same coffee order for seven years. Seven years. That’s one thing that will probably never change. It’s well-established in my daily routine, and I can be stubborn when it comes to my coffee. But what about the everyday elements of life that ebb and flow, move up and down, change left and right? I present to you: Ins and outs circa December 2022.


  1. Iced coffee: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t drink a cold brew when it’s snowing outside.
  2. TikTok: Specifically journalism TikTok. Because if you’re going to scroll for hours, why not learn something while you’re at it.
  3. Thank-you notes.
  4. Asking questions: As Taylor said, “Can I ask you a question?”
  5. Bob Iger.
  6. Google Calendar: Bonus points for color-coding.
  7. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah: An interjection, meaning “an exclamation of happiness.”
  8. Florida: Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl, Purdue in the Citrus Bowl, 70 degree weather and Disney World? Count me in.
  9. The Muppets: I don’t know if you’ve caught on or not yet, but I’m kind of a Disney fan. Stream all Muppets movies on Disney+ and all award-winning albums on Spotify (or your streaming platform of choice).
  10. Christmas break: Four weeks, too!
  11. Journaling: After a semester of creative writing, I can confidently say that writing, no matter how unprofessionally done, can help tremendously with putting your thoughts into perspective. (Even ranting on a page.)
  12. Hats: Specifically warm hats. It’s more important to be toasty than look cute.
  13. Fantasy football: Dear Josh Jacobs, drafting you was the best decision I made this fall.
  14. Capricorn season.
  15. Complimenting your friends.


  1. Boots: If Converse can get me through a snowy Boston College game they can survive anything.
  2. Breakfast: It’s called brunch at this point.
  3. Digital print editions.
  4. White elephants: But, Secret Santa is in. It’s more fun to buy a gift for someone specific.
  5. Twitter.
  6. Scooters: Here’s the background information.
  7. Shopping online.
  8. Class registration.
  9. Emojis in Instagram captions.
  10. Cryptocurrency.
  11. Disney World slander: Disney World is fun as an adult — I promise. My email is at the end if you don’t believe me.
  12. Ticketmaster (and dynamic pricing).
  13. Doing laundry in a dorm: Ick.
  14. Staying up late: On a never-ending journey to go to bed before midnight.
  15. Thinking about the future: Being in the moment is in.

I hope, if anything, this humorous short list of ins and outs made you think — about what you like, what you don’t like, what bothers you, what brings a smile to your face and what makes you, you.

Until next time.

Contact Alysa at

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


On saying thank you

We don’t have many formal Thanksgiving traditions in the Hebda household. The holiday is pretty standard for us. I love cooking with my mom, watching football with my brothers and my dad and simply spending time with my family. One very basic tradition we do have, however, is one where each of us says something we’re grateful for when we sit down to eat.

Each reflection is usually preceded by a horrible, corny joke. This tradition is obviously nothing original or unique, but it reminds me why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. For how much I have to be thankful for, I rarely actually express that gratitude. Thanksgiving may be over, but the holiday is always a good reminder to be thankful for the blessings in our lives. Obviously, showing gratitude is a nice gesture to those we’re grateful for, but it also is an easy way to improve our lives and relationships.

Research shows grateful people are happier and more likely to maintain strong relationships with others. Expressing gratitude reduces stress and energizes us, instead of allowing negative energy to overwhelm our system. Even just saying thank you helps us build trust with those around us. 

It’s simple to acknowledge someone who holds the door open for you or a friend who helped you with homework. These simple acknowledgements make a difference, but do we ever really take the time to thank our family, friends, professors, classmates or the people who have deeply impacted our lives? This takes more thought and care. 

Regardless of what we’re going through, there will always be things we should be grateful for. Human nature says we think about negative events more than positive events. Thanksgiving helps break this natural tendency. Taking even just a few seconds to appreciate one of your friends, or the snow on the Dome or an above-average meal at the dining hall will improve your mood, at least a little bit. And it’s really easy to do this, all we have to do is remind ourselves.

This is why Thanksgiving is an amazing holiday. Every November, it provides an opportunity for me to step outside of my little bubble and appreciate everything and everyone around me. My family actually forces me to reflect on my life — sandwiched between those horrible jokes — at the dinner table.

Negative feelings will never go away. People will forever be, at times, anxious, jealous, stressed, irritated and tired, among other things. These emotions shouldn’t be ignored, but we can’t let it consume us. While we should always strive to improve our lives and the lives of those around us, we only have the life we’re given, and it would be foolish to not regularly appreciate the good things we do have. 

So, I know this column is coming a little late, but there is never a bad time to express your gratitude and say “thank you” to those who have made a positive impact. Thank your friends for having your back and lending a shoulder to cry on. Thank your family for their love and support, as you grew up and now. Thank your classmates and your professors for helping you through this semester and thank them in a few weeks as finals come to a close. Don’t be afraid to express gratitude. It’s important, now more than ever as the semester ends, to be a source of happiness and let others know that they are too. 

You can contact Hannah at

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


Farewell to Trader Joe’s Takis

Why are Trader Joe’s Rolled Corn Torilla Chips (aka Takis) so good? This is a legitimate question. There is no other snack on the market that I get genuinely disappointed when there are not in stock. I am not a big fan of traditional Takis, but, for some reason, the Trader Joe’s chips are gold.

This is a very different inside column than I usually write, but as I was doing my grocery shopping the other day, I stumbled upon a fully stocked shelf of this magical snack in our local Trader Joe’s and felt this needed to be addressed.

Last year, I was looking for a new study snack and my friend suggested I tried Trader Joe’s version of Takis. So, as a frequent patron of Trader Joe’s, I picked up a bag and headed home, unaware of their popularity. The spicy and tangy snack was unlike anything I’ve had before, so I made sure to put it on my grocery list for the following week.

Savoring every chip, I returned a week later and there were none. How could this be? Unbeknownst to me, this was one of their most popular snacks and stores have been struggling to maintain enough inventory, but that isn’t all…

Turns out, earlier this fall, Mr. Trader Joe decided to temporarily pull the beloved snack from the shelves. Many stores are doing their best to stockpile the savory snack to compensate for the demand, but bags are still flying off the shelves. But, even before the official decision to discontinue the spicy treat was announced, their popularity contributed to their scarcity, and their impending termination is rubbing chili and lime in the wound.

Nevertheless, it’s the perfect snack for any occasion: studying, hanging out with friends, or going to the beach. Each chip has the perfect crunch, they’re not too crispy, and the chili lime flavor comes through without being overly spicy. The flavor profile is evenly balanced, which is great for every spice preference, and even though you’re left with red dust on your fingers, it’s a small price to pay for an enjoyable snacking experience. Also, a bag of chips is only $2.50, a fair price for deliciousness.

To some, there may be no difference between traditional Takis and Trader Joe’s version, but every chip feels like it was made with love, and their limited availability makes it all the more exciting.

So, Trader Joe’s, please don’t get rid of everyone’s favorite snack. Please and thank you.

You can contact Willoughby at

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


Don’t forget how journalism’s heart beats

Apparently it was Janet Malcolm who said that every journalist “who is not too stupid or full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.” 

Shoutout to Google for helping me out there, but I also want to shout out my newfound eidolon, Janet Malcolm. Her next sentence develops her point further: “He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.”

She is not attacking the heart of journalism; that ticker, the ruthless pursuit of society’s truth, remains. But don’t forget what reporters actually do as the heart beats.

Imagine a TV reporter on the ground in the Vietnam War. I picked an extreme of journalism, sure, but that reporter, conveying the horrors of war, displays interviews with distraught citizens who give crisp details about their fresh trauma.

Though he seems innocent, the reporter does not try to help that victim of war tragedies which he features. Rather, he hopes to reveal the truth of the war-victim’s experience to the rest of the world. 

Many contemporary partisans idolize journalists, and may be justified. How else can such fierce attacks from the likes of Donald Trump on independent journalism be deflected, if not by idealizing that journalist? Besides, all Americans value truth. Journalism, so it would seem, is the work of heroes.

But with this assessment, we mistakenly conflate the journalist’s purpose and his actions.

After shooting incredible footage that reminds him of the raw power journalism can have, the hypothetical TV reporter, along with his cameraman, packs up and makes his way back.

Yes, that reporter could have died in the line of duty. I do not deny that it takes courage to step into danger for a higher purpose of revealing truth. 

Consider, however, that the more he can get the subjects of his story to trust him, the more of their truth he can reveal to the world in order to do his job well. And while the subjects of his story have to continue with their lives of horror, he re-enters into a world of safety. 

For now, at least, the trust he gained from the story’s subject was only good for himself and the story, but not the subject. 

What do we call someone who manipulates others to get their trust, uses it for his or her own gain, then has no interest in helping those same individuals at the end of the day? 

A Machiavellian, I would argue.

Journalists seek truth for its own sake. Reporting, however, can be quite dirty: defensible by law, defensible as it upholds standards of a liberal democratic society but not always defensible in its own reality.

So why do they do it? Why does the New York Times exist? The Observer? My own byline title? 

To put it briefly, you asked for it. Independent journalists do what we do to uncover the truth without limits because that is the assignment from a society that proclaims to need it.

You can contact Liam at

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


Twenty years from now

Somewhere in Indiana I will discover myself, I hope.

On Tuesday, I entered my twentieth year of life. There is so much life I have already lived. So much time spent laughing and crying and crying some more. Where do I see myself twenty years from now?

Hopefully, I am far away from my haunting past and bad decisions, but I doubt I will be. Where does anyone see themselves twenty years from now? Worst case scenario, still in the Midwest. Best case scenario, also, still in the Midwest. I think a house with a fireplace would be nice. Somewhere to sit and read my books and drink my tea. I may own a cat or two, depending on how large that said house is. I would most of all want for it to be a home, filled with people I love and who love me.

It’s not fair to try to predict where my future leads though, so I won’t be picky on specifics, like kids names, or professions. All of it will be a product of moving forward. Each day now brings a new part of myself I didn’t know existed, a little part of myself who I am beginning to acknowledge.  Especially these days I wish I could meet myself as a child, the blunt bangs and spunky attitude combined with big dreams. My parents would always tell me I was braver than my brothers, no. Always taking risks. No fear, no pain, nothing to lose.

Would that little girl, with the bright colored sweaters and painted nails, look at me, look at the life I am living and be excited I made it? What would I tell her? I may not be much different than that girl now. Maybe she is braver than I. When did I lose that? And how do I attempt to get it back? Will I twenty years from now and think the same thing about myself now? I hope not. I think my younger self would like the way I hang important moments on my wall. Quotes and photos and memories, illuminated by twinkling lights. I think she would like the friends I’ve made. The ones I can sit in silence with and laugh about how life has brought us together. I think she would like the amount of concerts I’ve been to, and the places I’ve seen, the nature I’ve been able to take in. I think she’d love my hair, and my nose, that took me a little too long to grow into. I think she would love the books I’ve read and the love I’ve been able to express.

But most of all I think she would like the strength I continue to have every day. I continue to push myself to make her proud. And to make my future self proud as well. Twenty something, such an odd time to be living in, somewhere I was terrified to be, but somewhere I can find comfort in reaching.

You can contact Cora at

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


Christmas starts now

I love looking out my window and being greeted by a winter wonderland. I love curling up in my bed with a book and a cup of hot chocolate. I love making snow angels and flailing around on the quad, hurling snowballs at my friends until our fingers are numb. 

That said, my brain is still trying to process the fact that campus is covered in snow in November. The rapid switch from 70 degree weather to freezing makes me wonder what happened to autumn. I’m from New Jersey, and I usually don’t expect this level of snow until at least January. It’s really messing with my perception of time. 

Up until the recent snowfall, I was in the camp that Christmas needs to wait its turn. Listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving was tolerable. Decorating and watching Christmas movies before the holidays was unacceptable. 

However, with this much snow on the ground, South Bend weather has kickstarted Christmas for me. My mindset has completely switched. I would not be surprised by the sight of a brightly lit Christmas tree somewhere on campus. I would not bat an eye if the dining hall decided to exclusively play Christmas music from now on. It snowed, so any reservations I have about the Christmas season starting early are out the window. 

With that out of the way, my Christmas hot take is that the stop motion puppet movies are better than the live action ones. “Elf” doesn’t do much for me, but I will always be really excited to watch Snow Miser and Heat Miser waddle around insulting each other. This discussion is, of course, excluding “The Polar Express,” which is an absolute classic and my favorite Christmas movie of all time. I didn’t like it when I first watched it, but my siblings made me watch it with them at least 20 times, which according to them is the only way to get the full “Polar Express” experience. I would not recommend watching it unless you are able to take in its complete beauty, which may or may not be by watching it over and over again. The story is great, the animation is amazing and the music is just perfect. 

Mariah Carey has defrosted. “All I Want For Christmas is You” is a masterpiece for the next month or so and should be treated as such. “O Holy Night,” specifically the cover by Jungkook of K-pop band BTS, will be listed about five times on my study playlist until January 1. With the change in the weather, I suddenly have a renewed interest in playing the piano — Farley Hall may have to tolerate an unfortunate rendition of “Jingle Bells” on the chapel piano at least a few times before the semester ends. 

I am so excited to celebrate Christmas! Thank you South Bend weather for making it start early. 

You can contact Caitlin Brannigan at

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.