If you don’t find your space, make it.

My favorite place is in Athens wasn’t built by the university. It isn’t fiscally supported by the student activity fee, it isn’t on campus, and it isn’t even on Court Street. Probably about 99% of the student population doesn’t even know my favorite place exists.

It’s called the Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I know it sounds absurd, a hardcore house named after an 83-year-old Supreme Court Justice? It probably will more sound more absurd to you when you discover it is my own personal rental home off-campus. In addition to being the place I sleep, shower, do homework, and prepare my meals, it’s also a performance space for poets and artists from Athens, OH to Alabama to Brooklyn and more.

I probably should walk you through how I got here, seeing as you’re thinking about coming to Ohio University or have already enrolled, and I’m telling you that my favorite thing about OU isn’t even mildly campus affiliated.

When I arrived as a freshman, I was eager for something new. Laid at my feet was a fresh start, but I wanted to use my fresh start to experience the things I loved already in a new way. Music was a primary passion of mine, and I was already five+ years deep into a devoted relationship with DIY music, as I’d been playing and booking shows all through high school. I knew a little bit about Athens music scene through creeping the Athens, OH tag on Bandcamp, but I became fully immersed in it once I joined ACRN Media, OU’s student-run college rock radio station and media collective. The group of us headed out in droves to catch shows in living rooms, at bars, and in basements.

(Full disclosure, I became the General Manager aka head honcho of ACRN Media February of my freshman year, 3/4 because I am incredibly passionate about radio, 1/4 because I am an insane person who loves having no free time or sleeping.)  

Wolf Haus porch hangs after a show.
Wolf Haus porch hangs after a show.

DIY and ACRN provided a space away from the sporty party culture that bombarded me when I first moved in. I lived on West Green, a hub for student athletes, and I often found myself feeling a little isolated. A place to feel less isolated was surrounded by push moshing sweaty bodies in the basement of Castle Genesee. Standing on the sliver

Eating a family dinner of spaghetti at the Lodge.
Eating a family dinner of spaghetti at the Lodge.

of counter to watch bands in the kitchen of the Wolf Haus. Peering through the stair banisters to watch folks rip gigs at the Lodge. All of these house venues became transient homes.

The Lodge was especially important, as the people who lived there became our fast friends. While we went to lots of shows there, it became a destination on event-free week nights. My partner and I would trek over to the house with fresh groceries to make family dinners, and we’d all sit around and listen to music and laugh in good company. There was a family aspect, a community feeling that I really loved. I tucked that feeling in my pocket and saved it for later when the tenants all graduated and moved and the Lodge was no more.

It took me a long time to admit it, but the first two years of Athens DIY were a little frustrating for me, as many people around me were deeply focused on partying, and it got old quick. I got sick of watching people drunkenly disrespect each other’s personal space and safety, houses were getting trashed, things were getting stolen. It was a mess. I was drowning in an environment surrounded by peers who did not understand what it was like to work 25 hours a week while being a full-time student, who could bring six-packs of craft beer to a gig but not $5 to donate to the bands performing. I was getting burnt out on the one thing that made Ohio U feel like a place of adventure and promise, and I needed to do something about it.

(Reality Check: While everyone talks about the Bobcat Family and how they never want to leave OU, it is OKAY to feel unhappy here. There’s may be occasional moments where you just don’t know if you made the right decision or you are itching to graduate and move on to the next thing. This is normal, okay, and presents a chance to do something creative with your time here!)

It was at this time when I had reached my breaking point that we began planning for our move to the RBG. We had plans to have shows, but we started talking logistics, ideals, visions. The name came about because I’m obsessed with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and I think she’s a bad ass. The hardcore edge came about because we liked hardcore music, but we also thought it would be funny to pair the two. Our logo represents the absurdity of such a name.

come and get em (at the LVL Up show tomorrow) also thank u @dan.manion

A photo posted by blair (@fruitbaby_) on

One thing that we all deeply cared about was having a strict “No drugs, no drinking, no exceptions” policy during gigs. We wanted the place to be as safe as possible for everyone, and any space that includes alcohol or drugs immediately becomes less safe. An unfortunate thing you’ll learn very quickly at OU that alcohol and drugs often reveal the nastier, scummier side of people, even within ‘alternative’ communities.

Grumpy jaded senior-citizen Meg comments aside, we really did want to create a space that was safe and intended to create community. I wanted to be somebody else’s Lodge. When we moved in and started facilitating performances, we were excited to see droves of kids coming to shows to hang out and make friends. I was starting to see students and community members I hadn’t known before, we were inviting poets to perform which brought in a fresh crowd of people to shows, and our home became synonymous with welcoming. We kicked off the year with a mixed CD/mix tape swap, and new Rock Lobsters crowded the floor and porch to share music. Bands started practicing at our house, we hosted shows for other people, we made friends, we gave people a place to go, and I think people have fun when they visit the RBG.

@divorcebandus was killer. So much energy packed into such a small space, fucking blown away.

A photo posted by Abigale Collins (@spacedemontia) on

Booking shows and facilitating community events without ever having to leave my home gave me a sense of purpose and a positive space to grow. My confidence in the OU/Athens community restored itself,  and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people. It’s also something really cool and interesting to slap on a resume– “Events Coordinator at the Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” is sure to catch an employer’s eye! But let’s get real. I haven’t created this space and formed a sisterhood and music family just for resume-building purposes. The RBG was born because I needed it to exist in order to feel truly fulfilled in Athens.

Live recordings from some of our shows here.


Flyers from shows at the xxxRBGxxx:

[metaslider id=7314]

Here’s the moral of my long-winded journey and this e-scrapbook of memories. If you arrive at OU or are planning on coming here and can’t quite figure out what you want or what you like or what feels like home, try not to worry. There is nothing stopping you from being the creator of the space that meets your needs, accomplishes your goals, and brings you bliss. Athens and Ohio University are your canvas, so get ready to create. Your space may not exist yet, and that’s a-okay! If you can’t find your space, make it. 

A photo of The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which is nestled into an unsuspecting side road.

Sib-less on sibs weekend

Sibs Weekend. It’s a time where the Athens’ population doubles as Bobcat families flood the Baker Center on Ohio University’s campus. By 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, the room was full of laughter, screaming and cheering as Bobcats enjoyed the carnival-themed event.

For someone who has never had a sibling down for Sibs Weekend, this is one of the loneliest weekends during the semester. When I stepped into the ballroom, I couldn’t help but feel singled out as kids ran around with their faces painted, getting balloon animals and winning a goldfish in a bag of water. My brother, once again, couldn’t make it up for the weekend.

This year, however, I found out that there are still ways to enjoy Sibs Weekend at OU, even if your family isn’t in town. Here are just a few of the ways to have fun during the weekend!

Sib's Weekend Carnival
Sibs Weekend Carnival
  1. Go to the Sib Events with a friend

Sib Weekend events aren’t just for siblings. They don’t check at the door to make sure every person coming through are family. I went with my big! The coordinators didn’t ask nor did they care about the two girls walking through the doors into the event. Bringing my friend to the carnival was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would. Her and I walked around the entire ballroom and participated in the activities. Unfortunately, the food was gone by the time we got there, but we were able to throw a ping pong ball into a cup to win a fish, get our faces painted like cats and get balloon animals.

If I had gone by myself, I would not have been able to stay until it shut down at 6 pm that night. Standing in line by myself doesn’t sound appealing. Standing in line with one of my best friends sounds like a blast. Even though my brother couldn’t make it down, I had an amazing time at the Sibs Weekend carnival. This weekend, there were so many other programs that Ohio University put together. They aren’t closed off to siblings only; anyone could go to them as long as they paid for tickets. This weekend is supposed to be a time to bond with friends and family, not a time where sibling-less Bobcats sit in their room wishing for something to do.

  1. Invite a friend or significant other

Who said best friends, boyfriends or girlfriends couldn’t come down during the weekend? No one, that’s for sure. It’s a perfect time to invite them down: there are events with free food, games and fishy prizes!

Kelly Tusing and Nick Taylor spending time together after the basketball game.
Kelly Tusing and Nick Taylor spending time together after the basketball game.

Kelly Tusing brought her boyfriend down for the weekend because her brother wouldn’t have been able to make it. “Last year was boring,” she said. “I tried to go to the Sibs Weekend events, but they weren’t that much fun without anyone to hang out with.” Instead, this year, she invited Nick Taylor to stay the weekend.

Instead of going to the carnival, Tusing and Taylor went to the basketball game and cheered on the Ohio Bobcats in an 80-69 win against the Northern Illinois

Huskies. “It was really cool seeing so many OU students and family at a basketball game,” Taylor, being from Bowling Green, wasn’t used to so many fans in the stadium. “The school has a different feel here then BG. OU puts on more university sponsored events whereas BG has a ton of little kids which is gained towards entertainment.” Tusing and Taylor spent the rest of the evening walking around campus and people watching, something Tusing wouldn’t have found fun by herself. “I would have hated it if I didn’t have anyone to hang out with this weekend. Most of my friends have their siblings out for the weekend.” So she thought she would bring Taylor be her honorary guest for Sibs Weekend. “I still had so much fun with my boyfriend,” she laughed. “You don’t need a sibling to have a great time during Sibs Weekend!”

  1. Go get them mad gains

I didn’t have much to do in the beginning of the day, so I thought going to the gym would be a perfect way to pass the time until the carnival. As soon as I walked into the gym, I was stunned. I work out every day, so seeing it as empty as I saw it was surprising. Normally, I would have to wait for machines to open up, but at 1 pm on Saturday, I didn’t have to wait at all. Everything was free. Only a few people chose to workout today, probably thinking exactly what I was thinking. Going to Ping during Sibs Weekend was a smart choice. If anyone was looking for some alone or quiet time, Ping was the place to go. No one bothered me while I worked out so I didn’t have a need to wear headphones. The music was loud, there was no one talking and the machines were barely in use, so there were no loud clanking noises to drown it out. I worked out for more than an hour and the crowd stayed consistent. There were some siblings there to work out or to take tours, but for the most part, Ping was very empty. I was able to concentrate without any type of distraction.

  1. Go study at the library

With school building cleared of regular inhabitants, Alden Library inhabited the students who had no one to spend the day with. So, instead of going to OU sponsored events, few Bobcats hit the books at the library. As I walked into the library to start my homework, I looked around and saw no one. Nearly every table was empty. I rode the elevator to all seven floors and found a scarce amount of people scattered throughout Alden. I walked up to a girl with all of her things arranged on one of the tables on the second floor and sat down.

Tiffany Touville was hard at work on her accounting homework. “My brother couldn’t make it down this weekend,” she said sadly. “He had car troubles and our parents wouldn’t let him come down.” Touville’s brother has come to Athens for Sibs Weekend the past two years, so this year was a little lonely for her. She had their entire day planned out from going to brunch to watching movies in her room until 2 am. “I went to the carnival in Baker Ballroom, expecting it to be a lot of fun, but it wasn’t really. I felt awkward standing around by myself.” A lot of her friends went home for the weekend to spend Sibs Weekend with their families. “I decided to be productive and work on all my homework. There’s no one here, so why not take advantage of it,” Touville said.

Sibs Weekend for the sib-less is pretty boring, she said to me, but it’s a perfect time to focus on homework because there isn’t anyone around to distract them. “It may not be as fun as we want it to be, the sib-less, but we still have fun because we know we’ve got our homework done when everyone else has to rush to get it done before Monday,” Touville bragged. So, look at that, Sibs Weekend brings out the productivity in those who don’t have siblings in Athens.

  1. Hang out with friends

There’s nothing better than being with best friends on Sibs Weekend. Either it be with friends that don’t have siblings down in Athens or with friends that have siblings with them, the weekend will still be a blast! Get adopted into a friend’s family for the weekend and do everything with them. Go out with best friends and make pseudo siblings for the weekend.

Britt Bilger and her closest friend eating before their trip to Strouds Run.
Britt Bilger and her closest friend eating before their trip to Strouds Run.

Brit Bilger didn’t have her brother for Sibs Weekend, so she grabbed her roommates and went to Strouds Run for the day. “No one else in my house had siblings come to Athens for the weekend, so, we packed up and left,” Bilger said. They decided to make their own fun for Sibs Weekend instead of hanging around campus. Bilger and her group of friends went out to eat on Court Street, then left to spend the day with each other. To them, they are family. They don’t need their siblings in Athens to have a good time. “If we have each other,” Bilger stated, “then we will be okay. It’s a bummer that we can’t have our families down our senior year, but it happens. We have to make the best of it.” Things happen, why sit around and sulk? Make the best of a fun and exciting weekend. The weather was perfect and everyone was happy. Family doesn’t always need to be blood.

– – –

Ohio University hosts a fun and interactive Sibs Weekend for every student in Athens, no matter if they have a sibling or not. Bringing a friend or doing other things on, or off, campus for the weekend creates the memories that OU hopes to provide. Sib-less students may have a harder time during Sibs Weekend, but they still find things to do during all the events on Saturday. Bobcats are busy all day going to different events and programs that the university sponsors for its’ students, such as ice-skating, stargazing, campfires, hockey and basketball games and carnival themed programs. Some cost money while others are free to all that desire to participate in Sibs Weekend. Each student spends this sponsored event differently; the memories from the event are the same: progress, laughter and peace.

Wrecking ball: Athens breaks the wall between rivals from Dayton and creates friendship

As I was walking around West Green leaving my friend's room around 10 pm when I ran in Maslin Cassidy, who was on his way back from a meeting. As we were talking, I found that we lived 10 minutes away from each other and attended each other's rival high school (I couldn't make this up). Once the "tensions" from our high school selves cooled, we started talking about our plans after college. "I would love to return to Kettering and teach english, because when I was at Fairmont (high school), I had a teacher named Mr. Payne who challenged me to read more and write more. That inspired me to go to college to pursue a major in English and education." I asked if he wanted to inspire his future students like Mr. Payne had done. "Of course, if I can be half as inspirational as Mr. Keating in 'Dead Poets Society' I would consider my job a sucess. I'm in love with books like 'A Tale of Two Cities' and I want a new generation of readers to realize that good literature exists in the world." We then bonded over the fact that we both are fans of Rush and we could care less about "Grease: Live," we then went our separate ways. The next day I ran into him on my way to class, and he told me to "Check my Facebook." I found that he requested me as a friend. Who knew that a Centerville Elk and a Fairmont Firebird could become friends, but we are both Ohio Bobcats now so a new friendship is possible. I accepted the friend request. #planetathens

A photo posted by Brendon Embry (@brendonembry) on

My Gem: The Ugliest Couch in Athens

The view from 4 Palmer's porch during sunnier days.
The view of Palmer Street from the porch on a sunny day.

4 Palmer St., Athens, Ohio, 45701.

In all honesty it’s a shithole. The kitchen ceiling is sagging, the dishwasher is crooked, there very well might not be any insulation in some rooms and there’s a fee of $5 in quarters if you want to do a load of laundry.

But what it lacks in general aesthetic appeal, it more than makes up for in good company and very comfortable couch. A couch I rent out from my best friends when I’m drunk, or bored, or in need of a good laugh or a bad cry. My bank account lives in the single digits so I pay with pizza, wine and sarcasm.

A good night in with some friends (from left) Fozzie, Devin, Kirsten and Molly.
A good night in with some friends (from left) Fozzie, Devin, Kirsten and Molly.

You can see the barest corner of my sometimes-bed at the left of this picture, with my friend’s ass firmly planted where my feet usually rest. Now that he’s dating Kirsten (the witty brunette dead center), he joins Molly (right corner, the rebel on the floor) and I in our morning coffee ritual.

Sitting on the porch outside, or more recently on my couch inside, we watch the Athenians. Sometimes we make up origin stories, but usually we just watch Athens wake up much like any other town must: slowly and surely with a steadily increasing number of people who can bear to get out of bed.

You can’t see the god-awful shade of gray the couch is, or the equally awful beige floral print that’s spread over the cushions. Not even my grandmother, a stringent follower of the 60s, has owned something quite so off-putting. But that’s where we gather. And that’s why no other place in Athens can measure up. I love Alden, and Donkey, and the long walk from Baker to South Green, but none of those places would mean nearly as much without the people I studied with, who grabbed coffee with me or who trekked the long trek back to my dorm.

My favorite place in Athens is an ugly, old couch, in a busted house; surrounded by some fantastically stupid people I’m happy to call my dearest friends.

5 tips for dealing with stress

  1.  Find a strong support system
    Whether it’s friends or family, surround yourself with people who will support you. A lot of times you may find out that your friends are going through the same stressors. As Kendra Jackson at Hopewell Health Center would say, “It creates a sense of universality just to know that someone is going through the same thing, and that we can all make it together so that you won’t be traveling through this journey alone.”
  1. Write
    As simple as it sounds, writing down what you’re feeling can work wonders. Whether it is poetry, doodling, or diary entries, writing gives you a chance to see your feelings on paper as well as giving you a chance to re-create those feelings into a more positive outcome. Jackson calls this narrative therapy, recreating or reframing a story with a different ending.
  1. Read
    No matter your interests, there will always be a book out there for you. Reading creates a way for you to put yourself inside a story and experience a sort of escape from reality. Connecting with the characters and seeing their decisions might make you rethink and reframe your own as well.
  1. Spirituality
    Spirituality can be an effective way of dealing with stress. And it doesn’t have to be something that everyone else believes. Spirituality comes from within, and when you find what you believe in, it gives you a reason to live.
  1. Go back to the basics
    Find the things that soothe you, and that you find joy, happiness, and contentment from. People are always looking for some new “AHA!” invention to help them with stress, but what helped you in the past? What brought you joy before? When you find it, that is what you want to go back to when you’re having a bad day.

Source: Kendra Jackson, Counselor at Hopewell Health Center