Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My First Date

This is how prepping for it went, LOL
I had my first date Sunday. Not just my first date with this guy, but my first date ever. I wasn't going to write about this before, but what the heck, it's the end of the year.

There was the prepping before the date first. This took a considerable amount of thought: looking casual enough like I wasn't trying too hard, but not too casual that I wasn't trying hard enough. My sister helped me pick out an outfit and she also did my makeup. She went all out, adding bronzer and eyeliner (as well as a few other things, I'm sure, but I didn't keep track). She also straightened my hair in addition to blow-drying it.

Then there was finally the date itself. We decided to meet at my local pizzeria. This wasn't too bad for me, only five minutes away, but half an hour for him. Still, he graciously traveled the distance. He also graciously decided to pay the tab for the two of us (what a gentleman!). We were both really nervous, so that left a lot of awkward tension. It would have been nice to walk around town afterwards, but unfortunately it was raining (I hope that wasn't a bad sign or anything!).

He came up with the really good idea of making it a double date. I was a little worried that might take the charm out of it, but it actually really helped. His friends had been dating for a year, so they were more comfortable around each other. They really helped stimulate conversation and his guy friend was really funny. His friends came by a half an hour later, so we were by ourselves for a little while. I think it gave us the best of both worlds, which was nice for the first time. 

His friend's girlfriend ended up taking me home, with him trailing behind me. Of course, my family was bummed out that they couldn't meet him (or that we didn't have this romantic, movie-like kiss before he dropped me off). I don't want to scare him off, though. 

It's nice to take it slow. I don't want to rush things or make this even harder. Maybe the next date can be with just the two of us, but I think the double date helped. Maybe we can take it further later. 

I hope there's more of them in the future. Of course, there's going to be other challenges along the road if we do: meeting each other's families, getting to know each other, etc. For now, though, it's good as it is. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Decorating My Room

Over the holidays, I decided my room needed a little sprucing up. Previously, I had bought tons and tons of artsy postcards, so I decided to put them to use. Instead of having them in the corner of my room to look at every once in a while, I decided to put them all around the room for constant inspiration. Of course, some of the decorations were already there, but I embellished.

And so I did. I took some tacks and tape and posted them all around my room. I didn't feel like waiting to get my dad to post them up the right way, so I did it myself. I knew that is I didn't go and do it then, I probably wouldn't do it. 

I'm quite happy with the results, actually. It looks quite cool and is very inspirational to me. It really makes my room come alive.

Sometimes, decoration can really change things. The new decorations in my room has certain changed the aura and ambiance of the room. It now has this very artsy, nature-like feeling to it. It's much more exciting to look at as well, very fresh to look at. I also think I managed to exude quite a unique feeling to it as well, which also helped out quite a bit. Photographs really capture me in particular (I don't know why) and they really 

Also, the process of decorating really helped my creativity flow and flourish. I got to think of which postcards to use and where and also how to arrange it. It took a bit of time, but it was definitely worth it. 

The whole process of decorating has really showed me that sometimes, it doesn't take all of that much to do something. Sometimes, little things can end up doing big things or have a temporary effect that's really cool.

It was definitely worth it and pretty cool. My room looks pretty different now.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Celebrating the Holidays Without My Grandmother

This will be the first Christmas without my grandmother this year. Every Christmas, she and my grandfather would come up to open presents with us under the tree. But now it's just him. I hate to focus on the negatives of such a great day, but I couldn't help it.

I used to get her a Christmas gift every year along with my parents, other grandparents and sister. Indeed, this year I would have found the perfect gift for her: in the gift shop of the bird and butterfly conservatory we went to, all I could think about was how much she would love one of the pretty bird ornaments for Christmas. But what would the point of getting her one be now?

My family experienced this dilemma during Thanksgiving, although given how unpleasant Thanksgiving is for me, this was only one more unpleasant thing. It would have been more difficult if she were alive, because she could no longer take part in the cooking she loved and I would have had to see the pain on her face as my dad did it alone. Christmas is more difficult. Like I said, this morning when I opened presents without her, it was hard. Christmas has always been such a special holiday for me, and part of the reason it was so special was because she was in it. Now it's a little less special.

I guess I'm supposed to just try to take it as it is and deal with what comes. She would want me to just keep my chin up and celebrate it just as always. She wouldn't want Christmas to be less on her account. But still, she's all I can think about.

I've accepted her passing, of course. I've moved on, mostly. I don't expect her to come upstairs anymore; in fact, my sister prefers sitting in her chair now. Thoughts of her don't bring me into all-consuming grief, but are natural. Still, I usually think about her every day for whatever reason. Reminders of her are everywhere.

A lot of kids don't think anything of their grandparents. Sure, they might see them once or twice a year, but it's more of a chore than anything else to them. She was never a chore to me, though she often said she felt like one when her failing health caused her to lose more and more of her independence. No, she was like a second mother to me. I could always turn to her for love, advice and some of her dry humor.

There are so many things I wish I could tell her. What I would do for a day to talk to her! I wish I could tell her about Daisy and Buttercup. She probably would have been squeamish around them (to say the least), but it would be nice of her to know them. They've helped me so much; I know she would have appreciated that. I wish I could tell her that I go to a wonderful school now and my days are finally "good". More than good, in fact. Before, whenever she asked me how school was, I said they were "alright" or "crappy". She always looked so disappointed, saying how it was such a shame someone as bright as me hated school. I wish I could tell her that a boy just asks me on the date and it looks like I'll finally get a boyfriend. So many things. I'm sure there will be plenty more.

A lot of my family members believe in Heaven. It was a belief they did their best to force on me too. I wish I could believe that sometimes, but I don't.

So I'm coping, moving on. Christmas is still fun, of course, even if it's not the same. I'm sure it will get better with time. 
Me (left); her (center); my sister (right). We took this picture last Christmas to put in the frame we gave her. She passed away a few months later.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Importance of a White Christmas

I didn't know how important a white Christmas was until I went to the Keys right before the holidays. Don't get me wrong, the vacation was great, but there was such a weird disconnect. Like, "This isn't Christmas; it feels like summer." So despite the occasional carols on the radio and in the shops, I quite frequently forgot that it was Christmas, so much so that it feels weird that the holidays are coming around the corner. All of this reminds me how important the cold and snow is to my idea of Christmas.

Half of the story is the setting. Seeing Christmas in tropical weather is like watching a historical movie and suddenly watching the characters pull out their phones or iPods. No, it's worse. Half of Christmas is the cold weather. Maybe it's because, growing up in the cold Northeast, cold Christmases are all I know. The cold, however unpleasant, is just as important to the idea of Christmas as the Christmas tree or the presents. It's impossible to get into the Christmas spirit without it.

Adding snow to it every year is even better. It adds to the feeling even more, the general ambience of it. It doesn't always happen all of the time, but when it does, it's magical. Before I left on vacation, there was snow all over the ground. It helped me get into the spirit while I was still here and it really helped. I thought the snow would stay and this year would be a white Christmas. Alas, no. There was a heat wave and the snow melted. It looks like this year won't be a white Christmas after all.

White Christmases are the true Christmases. Recent events have showed me that. I might have taken them for granted, but I sure won't now.

Much better

Christmas Tree Rituals

The tree is essentially the centerpiece of Christmas. It is a common symbol of joy and mass consumerism. So obviously it's going to be a big deal. It's a huge deal for my entire family, especially my sister.

It's not like we can just settle for an artificial tree. It would sure be a lot easier, of course, and save us the hassle of having to trek out tree-hunting for the whole year. Oh no. No, it's not the same. So tree-hunting we go.

It definitely is a unique family ritual. Sure, millions of other families do it, but we make it our own. We have to find the _special_ tree.

It's mostly my dad and my sister who are the tree nuts. Mostly, they're the ones to fight over which tree to get. My mom and I just go along with what they say and try not to roll our eyes. We're supposed to take turns picking out trees every year, but it's usually my dad who gets the final say.

"I want that tree!" my sister says.

"Too tall," my dad says. Or scrawny or whatever. He always finds some excuse for a tree he doesn't want.
This year, the tree really was tall, scrawny and ugly. Not to mention, it was laying on its side, so some of them jutted out at odd angles.

"How about this tree?" my mom suggests. The tree she likes is usually short, fat and cute.

"I like it," my dad says.

"Come on, that's pathetic," my sister says. "It's the tree version of Tori."

"Shut up," I say. "It's a cute tree."

This time, my sister fought so much for the tall, scrawny tree that she won, but she usually doesn't.

That battle out of the way, we had another battle to fight: putting the ornaments on the tree. I'm sure that this sounds like a relatively simple task, but that's not so with my sister around.

My parents were too lazy to do it, so they left it up to the two of us.

My sister and I can never agree on how to decorate the tree. She wants only the lighter ornaments on the tree and she clumps them all in one spot. I want them to be more spread out and I also want a bit more of variety. So, naturally, we fight, with her asking me how i'll ever be able to do anything in life. This time, I almost knocked the ladder onto the glass table, which gave her more of an opportunity to drive in the fact that I am a clumsy buffoon.

I was the one who stuck it out until the end, insisting on using all the ornaments. My sister gave up, so it was my father who finally stopped me.

"If you put any more on, the damn tree will fall over," he said.

But it was missing something. I realized later that something was tinsel.

"That is a sad-looking tree," she said.

And... that's my family's tree ritual. Nobody's perfect.
Written December 18, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013


We have all felt the judgmental stares of another human being. Sometimes, this is over how we look or something we say or simply who we are. You want to try to say, "Wait" and explain the whole story, but you can't because they've already made up their mind. This is the judgment of human beings, rash and unfair.    

Everyone tries not to be judgmental. The most judgmental people in the world will tell you that they aren't judgmental at all. But they are. Almost everyone is judgmental, often without realizing it, myself included. It is part of what makes us who we are. We categorize people and then we box them away. Time and time again, we have tried to rail against this, saying things like, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Yet we rarely heed our own advice. It is only when we are confronted with our own mistake that we feel guilty about this.
Some of these judgments keep us safe away from people who would otherwise harm us. Our judgment better helps those like us. Yet most of the time, it only seeks to tear us apart, to divide us from our peers. That, to me, is a great tragedy. It is human nature, but it is still a tragedy.

Judgment, especially harsh judgment, is something that deeply hurts other people. It isolates them from others, makes them feel utterly humiliated. Dealing with this repeatedly can cause so many mental scars, especially if they are from those close to you. So many people are judged simply for who they are.
We can't really judge people, though, at least not accurately. There are so many things going on in everyone's life and we can never really know them. Given that, it's hard to judge them as people. Sure, we might be able to judge them for their individual actions, but not for them as a whole.

In our society, judgment is hard to escape. It is given out freely and encouraged. Yet perhaps if every day we try to keep track of the judgments we make, things might not be as they are.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cursing as Expression

You know what's a big deal? World hunger, disease, violence and things like it. You know what's not a big deal? Someone using a "curse word", or a random word society thinks is bad. I've touched upon this in my other article, but I feel like it deserves a post of its own.

Some people get so upset in the face of curse words. I don't really get it. Words are just words. They have the power that we give them. Deciding that one word is more vulgar or taboo than the other is so arbitrary. I mean, who decided that "freaking" was more appropriate than "fucking"? One is supposed to be the cleaner way of expressing anger (although it cannot adopt the meaning of "having sexual intercourse).

Like I said, words are just words. It is human beings and society who decide the weight that those words have. When people say "words hurt", it's not the words they are discussing. Rather,it's the concepts those words introduce and the intent those words provoke that are truly hurtful. Some people focus on making their language frillier rather than actually eliminating hurtful concepts from their speech. I think they're missing the point. For example, many people hold The Westboro Baptist Church in a special kind of contempt. This is not only for their cruel actions, but their use of slurs as well. However, many evangelical groups have essentially said the same thing, but in different terms and they've gotten away with it. Yet are they really better? Are their messages any less hurtful?

Rather than focusing on if someone has said a taboo word, we should focus on the concepts that they introduce to other people. There are plenty of ways to deliberately hurt another person than to use curse words. That's much worse than using curse words. Those who hold themselves morally superior for not cursing are guilty of either passive-aggressively putting people down or using/saying hurtful messages to make people feel worse about themselves. Indeed, I would rather be around a nice person who curses like a sailor than a mean person who does not. The emphasis should be changed.

A lot of people argue that cursing makes you look less intelligent and may decrease who you're friends with. You know what, though? If someone is judgmental enough to drop a friend just because they speak a little profanity, that says more about them than it does the person in question.

Indeed, there are actually benefits to cursing. It decreases stress and causes certain chemicals to be released in the brain.  Perhaps it's in the knowledge one is breaking a deeply held taboo (I certainly don't get this when I'm cursing in Spanish, a language I'm still learning.

Of course, more formal situations require more formal language. Yet in informal situations, I don't see how it should matter. Cursing is only a form of expression.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Getting Ready for Christmas

Since it's after Thanksgiving, we're all making way for the next big thing: Christmas! My family and I made sure to get ready for it yesterday and today, making sure to decorate the house with it.

We keep our Christmas decorations in a shelf above the garage. We have so many of them that they fill the shelves on all four of the walls. Because of that, we have to haul them all down before we do anything else.  That's what my dad and I did yesterday. The boxes took up half of the garage, so we had to put the cars outside and come in through the door.

Today, my sister and mom put up all of the decorations around the house. My mom has a thing for collecting Santa Klaus figures, so all around the house you feel like Santa is staring at you (deciding whether I'm naughty or nice?). There's also some fake holly and snowmen, but for the most part, Santa dominates the house. Regrettably, we don't have a mistletoe to seal the deal but oh well.

Now my house is officially in the Christmas spirit. Christmas is dominating the house now, replacing all of the other decorations that are here. Soon enough, Christmas will be here too, but for now the decorations will keep up appearances.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Calorie Counting

I am sick of calorie counting. With Thanksgiving here, I have decided to temporarily give it up. Maybe I'll give it up permanently, I don't know. I am so sick of this.

I first downloaded the calorie counting app after increasing pressure at home on watching what I eat. It's been a major pain in the butt since.

It's pretty exasperating remembering to update the thing every day and then trying to remember what foods you've eaten. To do each individual food is no fun. And then to try to find what specific brand of food you've eaten and how many servings you've eaten makes it even more annoying (this is especially hard if what you're eating is homemade or from a cafeteria). Given those factors, I doubt its accuracy.

The thing grades you too. Actually gives you a letter grade. So with every thing I put in, I feel the pressure. So when I go over my limit, it yells at me. Of course, I did learn something from that. While I only 1600 to 1800 calories on average, what I eat is total crap from a nutritional standpoint. And so it tells me. It's like the stupid app is judging me or something.

I'm probably taking this too personally. These apps are supposed to help me, not hurt me. It's about health, not weight. This just touches on old wounds. I have a hard time doing things in moderation as well: I'm either all in or all out of something. So I've been fighting becoming obsessive.

At dinner tonight, though, the hell to it. I'm eating whatever I want.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Going to the Movies

Going to the movies is always a festive occasion. Something about it feels totally different than just watching it at home (and it's not just the high prices that we pay for just about everything). When I went to see Catching Fire, it was no different.

First stop is the ticket counter, of course. I brought twenty dollars and they took ten. So that I only had half left off the bat. Then it came to the snacks and I barely had enough money with my other ten. By the time I finished, I felt totally ripped off. Part of me was thinking how it was a total and utter scam. What was the big difference from doing it at home? Home is certainly cheaper and the soda there is reasonably sized.

But then it hit me once I came in: there's a whole unique theater experience. There's the watching the previews for about a half hour (which isn't like commercials because it shows movies in the future and is interesting). Then there's the whole crowd experience and the popcorn experience well.

The theater is also fairly different from home because it's so big. Everything is louder and much more dramatic, intensified. It's so much more exciting and feels entirely different. It's so exciting you guzzle down on the popcorn so quickly that it's gone within the first ten minutes of the show. Then maybe you don't have to feel quite as ripped off.

Yet before you know it, the show is over. The popcorn is empty and the soda is still half full (because it was so huge). You're either mumbling to yourself or to your fellow moviegoer how good it is or mumbling how disappointed you are to have spent all that money on something mediocre or downright awful. Then you're rushing to the bathroom trying to beat out the millions of other people who waited the whole movie to pee out the gigantic soda you've just consumed.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Looking for Inspiration

Inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes, you have to look a little harder than other times, but it's still possible. Writer's block might zap up the ability to do it, but it's still possible to get it if you try hard enough. 
I've been having a little trouble writing fantasy. I was afraid that my fantasy-writing skills would abandon me forever. I wasn't going to give up that easily, though, and so I didn't.

A lot of people think that writing just comes. But that rarely (if ever) happens. No, you have to work harder than that. Inspiration doesn't just flow; you have to drill for it. And boy, have I been drilling for it today.

Part of writing fantasy is getting yourself into that fantasy mindset. So I had to try to do that first to think of ideas. How to do that I didn't quite know, being how I had lost it to begin with. I tried appealing to the lovely artwork on Deviantart, but that wasn't enough. I thought that if I couldn't do it by myself, there was nothing wrong with getting some help. So I turned to a friend to help me out and she told me to read more fantasy (I had been reading much less than I should) and she gave me this handy dandy website: http://matthewdellar.com/ She also told me look outside at the world and see how I could morph it through a fantasy lens (I've found just looking at the world helps think of ideas in general).

With a combination of the site and Deviantart, I was able to jumpstart some ideas (at least for some short stories). Looking outside also helped me too. It took some work, but I was able to do it. I've also resolved to read some more fantasy books especially some high fantasy books.

So overall, it is possible to find some inspiration.  You just have to tap it and force it out and it will come.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Can't Write Fantasy Anymore

I've come upon a sad revelation as of late: I can't write fantasy anymore. Or at least not well. Alas, it seems that all of my writing ideas are realistic fiction with the exception of one. I tried to sit down and write fantasy for a contest, but alas, I could think of nothing. Thinking of a science fiction idea was equally as hopeless.
And then it hit me: I can't write fantasy anymore. Before, I was in denial, but at that moment, I truly couldn't deny it.

This is probably due to the fact that the vast majority of what I read is realistic fiction. Due to my difficulty of finding good fantasy, I stopped reading it for the most part. I missed the traditional high fantasy that filled my childhood.Paranormal romance and urban fantasy, while interesting at first, became terribly formulaic and dull. So gradually, I just stopped for the most part. Unfortunately, however, that seems to have dried me of most of my inspiration. Sci-fi faced similar problems with the overwhelming amount of dystopian literature.

In the past, fantasy was pretty much all that I used to write. It loosened my imagination and freed my mind. I saw the world with more open eyes. Now that I don't write it as much, I don't have as much of that. There was such an innocence to it. Of course, my later fantasy became much darker but still, it was the fantasy I was used to. Eventually, I reached out and tried writing different things yet fantasy was still my primary outlet.
Now it's the other way around. Some might say this is just the way it goes and writers evolve. Still, I miss my fantasy. I wouldn't mind writing so much realistic fiction if I could write some more fantasy.

I know I should be grateful that I can still write. A lot of writers face dry spells and can't write anything. Still, I miss my fantasy terribly.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Overprotective Loved Ones

 My family members can be a little overprotective in pretty much everything. Maybe not as overprotective as others, but they're much worse than I would like them to be. It can be cute at times and infuriating at others.

My parents, of course, aren't as bad as my abuelita. When my sister and I were younger, she would drive thirty minutes from her house to watch us get on and off the bus. She claimed that she did this to make sure no one kidnapped us on the way home despite the fact that it was right in front of our development and in broad daylight. She's gotten better, though she still has her moments.

My parents are pretty reasonable most of the time, but they have their moments too. Random moments they hold me back from doing things with no explanation, times when they overreact to things. Driving has made them especially fearful (understandably so, I admit).

Still, when I put things in perspective, they actually aren't that bad. Other parents are far worse: reading their children's books before they read them, stopping them from dating, putting very strict parental controls on their children's computer. There's even a word for it: "helicopter parenting". When I hear the stories of some of my friends, I'm definitely thankful for my own parents.
 I've heard there's not all that much you can do when it comes to overprotective loved ones. Arguing will only make it worse. As much as you want to protest, it might only make you look like those dramatic teenagers in the movies. Instead, all you can do is nod and disregard it or perhaps in bold moments, calmly state your case and see what happens.

It might help to see their point of view. You're their precious baby and the world is a harsh, harsh place. Of course, they would want to protect you.

Overprotective parenting is far from harmless, though. It might seem cute, of course, except it does get old after a while. Many times, this means strict parenting and strict parenting often leads to sneaky kids (as a result of the kids trying to maneuver their ways out of strict procedures). Also, a lot of the times, it stops kids from learning how to do things, delaying the inevitable of having kids deal with things they actually have to deal with.

It's hard to protest with overprotective parents because they mean so well. But sometimes, this can't be helped.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


We all have our secrets. Some of us lock them up and bury them, while others clutch it in our hearts as we wait for somebody to spill them to. The deepest ones kill us from the inside out and they threaten to bury us alive.

We were bored. It was right before exams. Everyone was in a circle talking. And, of course, since we all needed to do something, we tried to think about what to do. I had come in relatively late into the game, so of course I hadn't heard everything.  What do you do when bored? You try to titillate yourself, try to find some sort of excitement. When it comes to teenagers, those sorts of things are sex, secrets and rumors. The one stipulation was that we all had to keep what was said in our circle in our circle. Why I participated in this I have no idea (especially when I should have been studying)

Sex is something that I can handle. Yes, some of the questions/ games pressured some of us to reveal very personal things. I held back as much as I could, but I did learn that I look like a child in comparison to some of my peers. 

But the secrets... No, I couldn't tell any of my secrets. At one point, they said, "Ask anything sexual or personal." Sexual, yes. Personal, no. Because there are some things I have locked up inside of me that I will keep until the day I die. The number of people I reveal them to are slim. if any at all. Luckily, no one asked anything too personal (unless you count the sexual questions). There was a "Never Have I Ever" one that said, "Never have I ever told anyone the worst thing I have ever done", but she didn't ask what the worst thing we had ever done was. 

I recently found out about the secrets of one of my new friends. Not necessarily a secret, per se, but not something she talks about all of the time. I knew that a lot of people keep things hidden, but for some reason, I was astounded yet again by this. And I realized that everyone has my sort of secrets.

And that made me think about the nature of secrets. People can high off of someone else's secret, blab them to the world. Secrets can be exciting and thrilling especially when shared. Maybe that's why so many people blab and why rumors happen. They're not bad necessarily, or even all that big (even PostSecret.com has its share of cute and funny secrets). Yet sometimes, secrets can trap us inside of ourselves and make us hide. Sometimes, it is when we release our secrets that we are freer to become selves that we never thought that we could become. Vulnerable in the telling perhaps, but ultimately free. Sometimes, we might think our secrets horrifying or depressing when they aren't that at all. 

I have so many secrets that I wish didn't have to be secrets. Things that I wish I could tell someone. Maybe to feel closer, maybe to feel less alone, maybe to release them. But big secrets are, well, big and can only be trusted with certain people. And I know that for others this is true as well but still, we press on. 

Secrets by Red--Roses

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Discussing Politics

Debating politics is always a tricky subject. It's one of those topics you don't bring up at the dinner table or talk about in polite company.

That taboo quality is what makes it so fun, though. It makes me want to talk about it more. At the same time, politics is incredibly interesting because of how challenging it is. Talking about politics is intellectually stimulating and interesting. So it has a lot of appeal. This is especially the case when the other person has opposite views as it can always help you understand their views as well.

This does have one caveat: the person has to be a somewhat intelligent, reasonable individual. Otherwise, it's a waste of time and a painful endeavor. This means a person who won't call you names or invoke Godwin's law. Those people are incredibly hard to find. Indeed, so many people seem to take politics personally and can't seem to separate their emotions from their logic.

So when you do find someone to really talk to, it's the most amazing feeling ever. And it makes it so much richer to talk about. When you find someone intelligent to talk to, that's when the intellectual stimulation comes in.

It's often pointless to try to "debate" someone. It's doubtful that you'll change the person's mind. Still, while it might be doubtful you can change someone's point of view, but sometimes it can help you understand it. Just because the two of you disagree, it doesn't mean that the other person is wrong or stupid. Sometimes, there are multiple truths and multiple possibilities. You can be two very smart people with different opinions. Of course, this person can also be a smart person with a dumb opinion but usually, that's not the case. Just "agreeing to disagree" is dumb and insipid and avoids the issue; instead, it's better just to talk about what you think in a civil way.

And sometimes, it does help to change your point of view, at least slowly. When you talk to someone about politics, you have to really think about the particulars of how you think and how it does (or doesn't make sense). Sometimes, you realize that maybe what you thought wasn't as great as you thought it was because you lacked perspective or a key point of information. That's why it's important to come into such things with an open mind. Not so open you'll accept anything as fact, but open enough that you'll consider what other people say. If you refuse to do that, you won't learn anything.

It's also important to think critically. Not just regurgitate what your parents and grandparents think or what the news stations say, but to actually think. To do this, you must think about what things mean and what the sources are saying and not saying as well as recognizing the bias in them.

Ultimately, when you agree to talk about politics, there should be a basic criteria you should follow. It's not for everyone because not everyone can do it. Still, it doesn't change the fact that we definitely need people that can.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Take on Words and Political Correctness

The PC police have come to my school, it seems. My school is a very diverse place and very accepting for the most part, but sometimes, they mindlessly ascribe to this way too much. The PC police came during a club meeting when we discussed the use of the words "faggot" and "retarded" in everyday speech. And, of course, logically, everyone wanted it banned. I didn't say anything because I would have been the only one there with a dissenting opinion and I have the feeling that they wouldn't have actually listened to what I had to say (or misconstrue my comments and I would have had a much harder time defending them on the spot). So I bit my tongue. 

I have more than a few objections with this concept and the assumptions attached to it. One, it gives these words unnecessary power. At the end of the day, they're just words. By censoring them you're just adding more fuel to the fire rather than addressing the underlying problem. When I heard them say "the r word', the "f word" and the "n word", I flinched. By saying these words are too awful to say, they're giving them so, so much power. I don't want to give bigots fuel. Concepts are much bigger issues and they're what we should actually tackle. I would much rather hear, "Stop being such a faggot and pass the ball" in my presence rather than, "You know, you have to be careful around homosexuals because, you know..." Maybe the former is far gruffer, but who is the true homophobe there?

Also, the problem with being offended with everything is that it takes away the legitimacy of things you should actually be offended by. When people get this upset over a few silly words, it takes legitimacy away from people who are actually being bullied. At this point, whenever someone tells me they're "offended", I just roll my eyes like, "Should I actually care?" Nine times out of ten, it's over something totally dumb. It's not my job to make you happy, sorry. If I've said something generally hurtful, I'll apologize but if you're being a baby because I cursed or made a sexual comment, grow up. And seriously, this policing of us the teachers talked about has a slippery slope. Quite frankly, if it's not bullying, it's really none of their business what we say. If you're a friend and you don't like what I say, there's something very simple you can do: Walk away. It's not my job to make sure everything I say fits into your moral code. 

I'm a white (technically half Hispanic but for all purposes, white) girl who has grown up in a middle class household. Not to mention, I've grown up hearing various bigoted opinions from various people without even realizing they were bigoted. Am I going to slip up once in a while and say something stupid? Probably. Is someone going to slip up around me? Yes, and people already have. Despite the degree of the transgression, I believe that anyone saying them without ill intent should be gently corrected. Kind of like, "What you said wasn't cool so just make sure not to say it again, okay? We're still cool, though." And anyway, if someone doesn't voice an ignorant thought and have it corrected, then they're going to keep that ignorant thought. And that's far more damaging. If the person does truly have abhorrent views, I actually want them to keep voicing it too, because they're like alarm bells warning, "Keep away! Asshole alert!" 

This PC bubble we've constructed is beyond stupid.  Instead of living in a society where we can freely express ourselves, we are walking on eggshells and self-censor at every turn. That's ridiculous. I mean, is that really preferable to someone getting their feelings hurt every once in a while? Obviously, there are bounds of reason here. Deliberately hurting people is not okay. If someone is malicious, some hostile treatment should be called for. But if we want to loosen up every once in a while and poke fun at a stereotype or try to make light of something through humor or whatever, why can't we? Is it a sin not to want to view every little issue through a super solemn lens?  Instead of making the community a "safer place for everyone", it's doing the opposite as everyone has to be super vigilant of what they say. Anyway, if people can't get used to a little inappropriate language in my super liberal school of all places, they'll really have a hard time with the rest of the world. 

And honestly, as I touched on earlier, it's not their place to force their morality on other people. It's your right to leave a conversation that pisses you off and voice your discomfort. But to insert yourself into a conversation and correct the people around you is beyond rude. People act so self-righteous and condescending when they do this, too. One (white) teacher even had the audacity to say that she corrects the black students at my school for saying the word "nigger" to each other. Um, what? Talk about something that truly isn't any of her business! As a white person, I at least know that that's an issue I have no right to be a part of and who am I to stop someone from reclaiming a word? This behavior is not helping people; it's only alienating them. At this point, she's even getting in the middle of something that she truly doesn't have an understanding of. And who made all these crazed politically correct people the morality police? It's a free country and people have the right to say what they want. If there's anything that gets under my skin, it's people that act like they have all the right answers and the right way to act. 

This isn't the first time I've heard something like this and it probably won't be the last. It's just so annoying

Monday, November 11, 2013

Why I Haven't Been Posting

It's November 11th and I still haven't posted a blog post this week. I haven't been anywhere except for home and still, I haven't posted anything. So I have no excuse.

Truthfully, I haven't really given much thought at all to this blog. I suppose it's been an out of sight, out of mind sort of thing. I literally didn't think of it at all. I had other things to write about, novels and short stories that have been going really well. Because of this, I didn't even think about my blog. Plus, I've been busy lately and time flies when you're busy, I suppose.

Then I looked at the calendar. It was November 11th. And then I thought, "Wow, it must be a while since I've posted a blog post." Surely, I had posted at least one post, though, right? I had thought. Wrong. To my horror, I hadn't posted since October.

So no excuses. I just haven't been posting. Even if no one else cares and no one else is reading this, it breaks my own commitment to myself. Writing on this blog is me testing out my writing muscles and when I fail to do that, I am not exercising those certain muscles.

Guess I better get posting.

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Why Don't You Write Happy Stuff?"

Why don't you write happy? As a writer who dares to write dark pieces every once in a while, I get this question a lot. If any non-writers are reading this, be assured that this is an incredibly annoying question to us writers. For me, it's especially annoying because it's simply not true. The better question would be, What compels you to write sad pieces?
This is a deeply unhappy world that we live in. There are absolutely lovely, wonderful pockets to it, but it doesn't change the fact that life is tough for a lot of people. For a long time, I was a deeply unhappy girl struggling with depression and anxiety. Of course my work isn't going to be happy all the time (or even most of the time) because that doesn't reflect my reality and it doesn't reflect the reality for many of the people around me. Refusing to acknowledge this fact is ignorant. There are certain issues that need to be talked about and talking about it through my writing makes it easier.

Happy writing certainly has its place. We can't be depressed 24/7 and continuously writing depressing stuff isn't healthy at all. In fact, continued depressing writing can sound repetitive, cliche and leave you in a rut (as my work from my black periods will show). Happy writing is a wonderful form of escapism. When I write my fantasy or romance novels, I do that. I can't do that all the time, though. I'm a human being and I'm not happy all the time either. That wouldn't properly represent my experience. 

Sometimes, I need to let out my negative emotions or make sense of some of the things that have happened to me or the people I know or even in the world itself. And so my bleaker pieces emerge.

And oftentimes, they're the pieces that rise to the top. For whatever reason, my darker pieces are the better ones. I think that's because they have more intensity and more soul. Darker pieces tend to be more raw, more authentic. I grow from the darkness in my life and my poems grow along with me. As much as I love being happy, happiness doesn't shape who you are or make you grow as a person. Darker pieces are more memorable; they're the ones that resonate with people.

My favorite pieces are ones that make the reader feel a range of emotions. That's why I love black comedies and tragicomedies so much. Those pieces represent life the best and all of its ups and downs. It helps avoid cheesiness or ridiculousness. I try to do those as well. I also enjoy pieces that aren't fully dark, that have a little bit of hope.

My dark pieces definitely do have that for the most part. Most people seem to ignore that. I shared a piece during coffeehouse and, while I got many compliments, one guy went on and on how bleak it was. Never mind that it had a happy ending and that everything turned away in the end. My protagonist in my poem struggled but then things got better. 

A friend of mine described happy writing as "fluff". In a way, I have to agree most of the time. When something is happy, it's harder to make it memorable and authentic. There are exceptions but most of those fall in the tragicomedy section anyway. 

So there you have it, that's why I don't write "happy" all the time. Please stop asking me. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I see the world through the lens of my camera. Already, I see the world through words, but this helps me see it in a different way. Through writing and photography, I see it in an entirely different way.

Through my camera, I can see different perspectives and different ways to capture something. I love to take pictures of pretty much everything, capture it in different angles and different perspectives.

I'm not entirely sure how I got into photography. All I know is that the idea suddenly occurred to me one day and I wanted to try it. I snapped pictures on my phone and then edited them. Admittedly, they were bad at first but then I kept going anyway. I became serious enough that my parents decided to give me a camera come Christmas. I've been loving it ever since.

I never knew how many different ways there were to see the world until I pursued photography. Instead of just snapping a picture of something, you have to be more creative. The artist must ask, How can I capture this in a way no one else has? How can I capture this in a way that will show the true essence of what it is? So I have to think of how to pose things in a way to make them as artsy as possible and, when I am trying to do a candid, I have to decide quickly which pose the person is doing will show them in the best light. There are so many decisions to make. I love to snap the thing in as many different angles as I can in order to figure out which one is best.

Then, it comes to editing the photo. Different exposures, colors, etc. will show the photo in a whole different way. Do I want to add a more serious, melancholy feel? I make it darker. In the reverse, if I want to make it happier, I make it lighter.

Recently, I've taken up a film photography class. Film has taken everything that I know about photography and turned it on its head. If I want to change the exposure, I have to change the shutter speed and the aperture. I'm not sure how to edit it in other ways. Also, developing those photos have proven to be an incredibly difficult process, much more difficult than I ever thought was possible. It is awfully rewarding when you finally do get a print, though.

Overall, I absolutely love photography. I've been involved in a recent project involving it and I've had so much fun!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gay Marriage in NJ

Gay marriage is now (for the moment) legal in New Jersey. New Jersey is the fourteenth state to allow marriage equality thus far. Governor Chris Christie announced that he is no longer going to fight this legally.

I'm not going to write a post on why gay marriage should be allowed because that's moronic. Clearly, the reasons are obvious enough: two consenting adults should be allowed to do what they wish, despite any religion telling them otherwise. I am simply going to say that it's beautiful and wonderful that one more state is finally pushing past bigotry, that this is another tremendous victory.

One day during my lifetime, I know that I will see gay marriage become legal federally. It's only a matter of time. If it becomes legal at a federal level, the state constitutions that ban it won't matter: they'll be overturned. Perhaps legal all over the Western world.

For all those groups that are working to oppress gay people and keep gay marriage banned... They'll die out. Exodus International already did. And their leaders are dying out too.

Plus, my dad had the wonderful happenstance of having this occur on his birthday.

All very cool :) 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

RIP, Mac

I have sad news to share to the world: My beloved iPod of five years has officially died. Indeed, the audio jack has finally stopped working; at first, it sputtered out with only allowing one earbud to play but now it won't let me play altogether. This is just one last straw in a series of failures. I finally had to give in and get a new one or risk facing a life without music. I call him Mac (I know, not very creative but still). 

It gave me a good few years, allowing me to store as much music to my heart's content. It played without protest until its end and it gave me an experience of mutual satisfaction. Admittedly, it was the replacement of my original iPod but no matter there. This was the true iPod that served me and for that, I will be grateful.
Of course, I'm still sticking to my iPod classic instead of getting the iPod Touch everyone recommended that I have. Why? Because, quite frankly, I'm afraid of change. I've gotten accustomed to my iPod classic; it's become my baby. It can also hold much more music than anything else can and, even more startling yet, it's much cheaper. Sure, it can do a lot of fancy things but, at the end of the day, music is all I care about. There was a time I bought the iPod Touch but I had to quickly return it because I was having too much angst.
And I'm loving this iPod Classic. It has all of the benefits of the old one, but it has this newness about it: it plays much better than the old one and it charges better too. Not to mention, it just looks new too, sleek and shiny.

But still, the old one did service me well.

RIP, Mac. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Temporary Stint as a Journalist

One of the things I love most about my new school is all of the new things that it lets me explore. One of those things is working in the newspaper.

I had dabbled in working at my newspaper at my old school, yet this is different. This almost feels like more of a commitment. And honestly, it's more fun too. It might be because I like writing about things relating to this school more than the last but still, I like it.

Anyway, it's not hard-hitting journalism (school journalism rarely is) . I'm not trying to seriously investigate something or whatever. Instead it's a cute fluff piece: I'm writing about the dogs on campus.

It still requires me to ask interview questions, to reach out to people, to take pictures and do meet-ups and all that. It sounded like it would be a lot of work and at first, I was a little reluctant to do it. But now, it's a lot of fun, even more fun than a lot of other articles I've done in the past. Plus, they're not just random pieces that I'm writing but articles that requires a bit more journalistic type of work. 

The questions I thought up were silly and it was fun to do that. Then I got to see the responses and they really made me laugh.

Meeting up with the teachers was a lot of fun too. I felt so cool just interviewing everyone like that with my pad and pen and all of that.

And the dogs! They were such a joy, sweet little balls of energy that just loved to be around people. I'm such an animal person that I couldn't help but gravitate towards them. Meeting them really helped add to the article and add a new perspective for me.

I'm taking a break from my research paper in order to write this article. It's hard to capture these dogs' personalities in such little space (I could write articles individually about all of them), but I'm definitely doing my best.

I'll be sad when newspaper ends for sure. This is so much fun!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Drowning in Work

My brain is fried. Actually, so is everything else about me, now that I come to think about it. I have a ten-page research paper due by the first of November. How in the world will I do it? I don't know. I have a few other assignments due, too, but they pale in comparison to the sheer work that this involves. I'm taking a break from it now to gain a little bit of sanity.

Of course, this is a fascinating topic in a course that proves to have a variety of nuances to it. Before, I would just glean all of the facts together and report them. But now, I have to analyze the facts and use them to prove my point. I did this when I was in debate, to a degree, although I had a little bit more flexibility than I do in a full-on class setting.

But God, there are so many sources to comb through. So much analysis to do. For now, I'm simply trying to organize the sheer mass of information that I have on the subject. How do I prove that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the single greatest piece of equal rights legislation and also the greatest advancement for African Americans? Not only can I say what it is; I have to compare life beforehand to life in the present as well as a variety of things. It makes searching for sources even harder.

I literally have stacks of papers I've printed out, books I've found in the library, etc. And it's all surrounding me like some sort of vise.

Did I mention I still have my Shakespeare adaptation to do for English? That's much more manageable, of course, but at this point, it's something else to do.

This is definitely teaching me a lesson in time management. The effects of such a lesson, however, are brutal. Thankfully, I still have three more days off to do this (thanks Columbus Day!). I'm really glad that I'm having to do this assignment in this school at least as I'll have ample time off (and ample time free during the day) to get this done. But still.

I guess this is what I get for choosing to take an AP class.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Being Bisexual

I'm bisexual. I know this is a strange thing to announce but it's National Coming Out Day. I'm not necessarily coming out, per se, as I already have for the most part. I know this day wasn't meant for me but, since those at my school are celebrating it, I might as well join in the fun.

There's a lot of people who don't take bisexuality seriously. Even some people who identify as gay or lesbian don't take it all that seriously. Hell, even most of my family doesn't take it seriously.

Not that I blame them. There's a huge myth in our society that sexuality is a binary system and that bi people just "can't decide". Or that bi men are just secretly gay and bi girls are just curious or trying to be lesbian so that guys will like them. Most people seem to have trouble thinking on complex terms so the gray area of bisexuality seems to really confuse a lot of people.

I also personally don't identify as part of the LGBT community. It's a perfectly lovely community for the most part (although it has a lot of biphobic elements to it at points). I don't feel personally involved in LGBT issues. I suppose I just always figured that, while I might fool around with some girls, I'll probably end up settling down with a man. There are a lot of lesbian girls who refuse to date bi girls out of jealousy anyway so maybe I might just have to do this. 

As a bi person, I have a few luxuries a gay person doesn't have. I have more choices, for one. More importantly, if things get bad enough, I can always just stick to guys and feel satisfied for the most part. If I were a lesbian, doing this would mean giving up a fundamental part of who I was. I can "choose" to be straight, in a way. And honestly, I will, simply because I'm not sure I want to deal with the difficulties of having my relationship subjugated to second-class status just yet. I think the fact that bi people can so seamlessly switch between both worlds probably frustrates many gay and lesbian people, but then again, this also means we never truly belong to either groups. 

It is easier to be a bi girl than at least it is to be a bi guy. It seems to me that there are a lot of bi girls out in today's day in age (not that I blame them, of course), but not a lot of bi guys. In many ways, bi guys might as well be coming out as gay. They'll be perceived that way, after all.

I understand if my sexuality confuses people. It confused me for a long time too. My sexuality fluctuates all of the time. One day, I'll like boys and girls equally. Sometimes, mostly just boys. Sometimes (but less so), mostly just girls.

When I first started experiencing attraction, I felt them solely for boys. It was only later I started to feel attraction for girls but the change was so subtle I hardly recognized it. I also believed that part of me didn't want to believe I was bi. I was totally fine with other people being bi. But not me. That just wasn't supposed to happen. I wasn't disgusted or ashamed of these feelings but rather confused. Could it even happen? Was it even happening? How could I go a year without feeling attractions towards girls and then suddenly feel it? I assumed my feelings were hero worship, especially given my low self-esteem at the time. My mother confirmed this. After particularly strong feelings for a particular girl, I finally had to acknowledge that maybe I wasn't quite straight.

My family is mostly in denial about it still. They would argue that I don't talk about these same-sex attractions I supposedly feel. That I'm confused. My sister thinks I'm just doing this because I want to rebel and be different. This really makes me mad sometimes, but there's no point in fighting them. I am who I am and I've accepted it; I'm not going to try to fight with them to get them to believe that I really am bi because I honestly don't care. Of course, I know they'll love and accept me no matter what I do, but I think they're not entirely okay with it. After all, my mother pictured me marrying a guy when I'm older and having grandkids with him. A possible detour into lesbianism might prevent this from happening. 

I don't talk about my same-sex attractions as liberally as I do my opposite-sex ones simply because I can't. I can't just check out some random girl on the street or say how hot I think a female celebrity is. That just won't happen. Even people who claim to be accepting will say that I'm pushing my sexuality on them, even though I can go into much more graphic detail when it involves a guy than with a girl. Any crush I have for one has even less of a chance of being fulfilled than for a guy. If I have a boyfriend, I'll be able to hold his hand out in public and gush about it. I can talk about the difficulties of dating and how men are so confusing. This will be normal and accepted and people will think nothing of it. My perceived heterosexuality will just be a part of who I am. People will cling vicariously through me and my relationship with him. But a girl? I might get a reluctant nod or a slight grimace. No girl will ever meet certain family members, not because I'd be ashamed of her but of their possible reactions towards her.

Yes, I'm bi. Yet that's really just one aspect of who I am. I'm also a writer, a friend, a daughter, pet owner, etc. and these things define me much more.

This is probably going to be one of those blog posts I want to take down, but I won't. I can't. I don't want to be ashamed of this part of me and I shouldn't have to.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Standing Up for Yourself

It's a harsh world that we live in. If you aren't your own biggest advocate, you'll never have anyone else who really will. This is why it breaks my heart to see people who don't believe in themselves, especially as someone who used to be one of those people.

Lately, I've been having someone repeatedly treat me in a way less than what I deserve. I'm not going to get into it here as the person may be reading this blog. But you know what? I, once again, stood up for that person once and for all. It's been a bit difficult, given that situational disrespect is less easy to identify than outright verbal disrespect. But you know what? I'm still not going to tolerate it.

I've written about speaking up for yourself before and confronting people who have hurt you. But you know what? I think that's slightly different than just speaking up for yourself. Speaking up for yourself is the first step to standing up for yourself. It's protesting when someone stomps all over you. Standing up for yourself is making sure that no one stomps on you in the first place. It's not the occasional thing you do every once in a while when you still need it; it's a daily process.

Before, I would have brushed it off. I would have diminished it and said that it was nothing. Why? I would be much too afraid of jeopardizing our friendship. And I still want this friendship, but I won't give up my self-respect just to keep it.

Standing up for myself is great, though. It feels so empowering and refreshing. Kicking myself down feels so black and painful that this is such a nice change. Like I'm kicking away the shackles that have held me for so long. I can look in the mirror and smile because I can live with myself now and be proud of who I am.

Another benefit is standing up for other people. When some other guy was being an asshole to this girl who admitted that she liked him, I stood up for her. Because screw that, she deserves so much better than him. And I deserve so much better than to be disrespected by above guy too for similar reasons.

And this is just one example of many. I hope that having the courage to stand up for myself here might give me more courage to stand up for myself on a daily basis. I hope that I can make standing up for myself a way of life.