Sunday, April 28, 2013

The New Addition to the Family

Photo: Awww
Today, we added a new addition to my family: Cheerio!

My sister and I had been harassing my dad to get a new hamster. I've been seriously missing Tinks, though and I seriously, seriously wanted to fill that hole. The room where Tinks was just felt way too empty inside. So naturally, I wanted a cute little critter to fill the hole.

At first, I fell in love with a rat but my dad resisted in buying her. He said that we A) didn't have the cage and materials for her and B) couldn't get past the tail. But that was okay because then we saw Cheerio!

Cheerio, who is literally the size of a cheerio. A Chinese dwarf hamster, she is about half the size of my hand. And she's so cute and friendly! She just lays across the palm of my hand and I don't have to worry about her running loose because she's just so calm and cuddles so easily against me. I fell in love with her right when I saw her and I knew she would be enough to fill that hole. So we bought her and I cuddled with her the whole way home. When I got home, I made sure to clean our existing cage of any trace of Tinks and we called it a day.

My whole family has fallen in love with her too. Of course, we had to put her back in her cage so she could get a rest. It'll be hard not to snuggle with her for a while.

I can't wait to play some more with her!

(I still feel bad for that rat, though. Here's to hoping Dad will let me buy a rat and a cage for said rat with my own money. I'm so afraid that lovable sweetie won't find a home!)

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Haircuts are such an exciting thing! They can really transform a person. Hair itself is almost an accessory and what a person does with it can make and break how a person looks. There are so many styles to choose from, so many ways to go about doing it. A good haircut can enhance all of a person's good features and really accent them. A bad haircut can have the opposite effect. It's an interesting thing to think about. I just got a new haircut and I can surely attest to that myself. I'm in love with mine! It's been a year since I once got one so it was much needed.

Haircuts are so cool. They really are. I love looking through the hairstyling books and I love seeing the different hairstyles that I can use. It almost makes it feel like clay with all of the different things that I can do with that hair. There are so many different possibilities there.

It's no wonder people make such big deals out of celebrities changing their haircuts. And, while I don't usually follow celebrity news because I think it's stupid, this is actually quite useful and interesting to learn. Celebrities have the best hairstyles; it's no wonder others follow suit. My own hairstyle was inspired by the actress who played Alice when she was in New Moon.

It's like a toy to play around with. I love making myself up and playing around with it and it makes me wonder why more people don't try it.

I've gotten my hair shortened in addition to styled. When it was getting cut, my hairdresser made sure to shear some layers off to make it lighter. That makes it so much easier to play around with.

The thing I love about my current hairstyle is that I can do so many things with it. When I played around with it today, I saw it. If I straighten it, I can still make it look good. If I leave it the way it is, I can still make it look good because the natural curl will still accentuate my features. Of course, when I decide to do different things with my hair, it all adds a totally new look to it and it's almost like I can get it styled all over again. Even when I part it in different places, it looks really cool.

Of course, there are downsides to short hair. Short means that I'm unable to do many types of hairstyles. I can't do so many cool braids or do cool things like that. But oh well, it's still pretty nice.

I'm so grateful for hair and I'll be happy to play with my hair for days to come.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Poetry Readings

Poetry readings are as much of a sensory experience as they are a thoughtful one. Poems are meant to be felt just as much as they are to be understood. Today, I read at a poetry reading that was meant to celebrate an award that I won. My parents said that I was the best reader there but, to be fair, I have read my poems many times before so I've had much more experience than most of the kids there (I was just as bad, if not worse, the first time that I ever read my poem aloud).
At a poetry reading, the most important thing is to speak the poem clearly and loudly. The mike can only do so much but, as a poet, you have to do the rest. You have to enunciate, making each syllable distinct. You have to make your audience understand each word that you say because, in poetry, each word is incredibly important and one word or line missed might throw off someone's understanding altogether.

You also must speak slowly, again so they don't miss it. Speaking it slowly makes it easier for the audience member to digest and it makes them appreciate and understand the poem so much more. It's also a far more enjoyable experience to them.

For you to convey your meaning, you have to accentuate on the parts that need emphasis (not just the words but each syllable) and you have to pause so they understand that there's a line break (or even to further accentuate it or add some sort of feeling of doom or sorrow). You have to control the way you breathe in the mike and the way you speak each syllable. It's actually pretty complicated, the art of reading a poem, much more complicated than it seems to any sort of outside. But that is how one truly captivates the reader. 

The way you read your poem is actually so important especially if your poem isn't as straightforward. The audience may interpret your poem in a variety of ways, depending on how you read it. Poems can be interpreted in all sorts of ways. If you want to convey to the audience your interpretation, you're going to have to add as much emotion as you can to it.

If you read your poem in a way that's dry or long or boring, you might ruin the poem to the audience. If you do the opposite, you might enhance it and make it even better than it sounds.

This takes a lot of practice but, once you get the hang of it, you can really end up making a difference in terms of how your poem is received.

I love listening to poems and listening to how different people read their poems. It's so interesting, especially considering how different poems feel when they're read versus when they're spoken aloud. It's what I love so much about poetry and poetry readings. The best thing about them, I think, is meeting up with other poets and listening to them. That helps me so much in terms of learning how to write and read my poems and it makes it so much better.

Poetry readings are important because they are such an emotional experience and are such a visceral way for you to connect with your audience.


It afflicts our bodies, our souls, the young, the old. It's done by so many different types of people for so many different reason.  It's all around us, affecting so many people in different ways. Whether directly or indirectly, we have all been affected by violence in our lives in some way. With the recent Boston Marathon massacre and the apprehending of the suspect, this has hit home more for me. With the Day of Silence noted and passed, I have been forced to think of another kind of violence: the violence of the soul, the type that crushes its victim slowly but can oftentimes be fatal too. And it's sick and it makes my blood boil and my heart hurt.

Sometimes, when looking at all of this violence and all of the sickness in the universe, I get so, so angry. I get even angrier when the victims are innocent and often defenseless. I want to yell and ask what kind of pathetic  man or woman would ever beat up on those who are weaker than them. Who would ever gather enjoyment from their screams and cries. I want the perpetrators to suffer. I don't understand how someone could be so horrible as to deliberately hurt another creature especially in the masses. It's hard for me to see any sort of goodness within humanity when something so horrible exists in the first place and how so many other "good" people let it happen.

But then I always gather my wits afterwards. I realize that violence only begets violence; anger only begets anger. It only perpetuates the cycle of negativity that has been set in place. I am not much better than those who inflicted such violence in the first place. Why? Because the reason why those perpetrators committed violence in the first place was because someone committed some sort of violence against them. They took the easy way out and continued the cycle. By retaliating viciously against them, we are, in a way, continuing that cycle even if not by direct violence. If violence is to be stopped, it must be stopped with love and not anger. Anger is a healthy emotion to feel for a while, of course, but at the end of the day, we have to let go of anger in order to heal. Forgiveness is not to say that perpetrators of violence should be given excuses for their actions or that makes their actions any less wrong.

Committing violence is the coward's way out. People who do so are too afraid to deal with their own hurt and so they deal with it in the easiest way they can: by committing it against others. But just because it is easy doesn't make it right. It's harder to pick up the broken shards of yourself and put them back together and harder still to use that experience to help others. However, when you do, you start a cycle of good to replace the bad. By no means is this as easy as continuing the already-present cycle of bad, of course, but it is better. It is necessary, absolutely necessary.

Violence must end. It must. We must fight it together; it is the only way. There's so, so much violence in the world and I'm not sure it can ever fully be fixed. But we can try, though.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Tribute to Tinks

My beautiful, beloved hamster Tinkerbell ("Tinks") passed away this morning from what we believe is wet tail. We tried to do what we could for her but, at the end of the day, it wasn't enough. At least she's no longer in pain like she was before.

Some might say that Tinks was just a hamster, nothing worth grieving for. But she was more than that. She wasn't just some random run-of-the-mill rodent but she had so much personality to her.

Tinks was such a cute little hamster. Before she became sick this weekend, she was always so alert and active. She came right to me whenever I came near her cage, her black eyes wide and curious as she looked around. At night, we could always hear her spinning, spinning, spinning on her hamster wheel. When she first came home, she was so skittish of us, always darting away to the corner when I tried to hold her. But she warmed up to me, I believe, and grew to love me just as much as I loved her.

She always snuggled against me when I nestled her against me. I would stroke her head and she would close her eyes, almost purring. When she wanted to get away, she would wriggle in my arms and I knew to put her right back. When I did put her back, she would either run right to her food bowl, her wheel or her little house. Always running she was. She especially ran out for cheese and carrots, which she loved, even when before she was sleeping like a baby.

Whenever I went in the exercise room where she was, it was always filled with her musty hamster scent (or sometimes stench). Often, that would be a reminder to clean out her cage.

Even though she was only with us for a short time, everyone loved Tinks. Her personality lit up a room. Whenever I put her in a ball to run, she would roam the house and her big, curious eyes would take everything in like she was deep in thought. She would respond to her name, her ears perking up.

We could even talk to her at night too and she always seemed to listen. My dad did that every night before he went to bed. He only held her once, last night when we knew she was on death's door. He was too afraid to be bitten otherwise so he only dared to open her cage or the ball and pet her head.

Last night, Tinks still couldn't open her eyes even when we tried to wipe her eyes with a cotton ball. Her back was even more hunched than before. She was cold, so cold that if it wasn't for her movement I would have thought she was dead. Her little body was bloated and it was clear she didn't even have the strength to pass her diarrhea. When she walked back, she was trembling and it was clear her breathing was labored. Most of all, her energy was gone and she only had the energy to move her paws and open her mouth.

My poor sweetheart is no longer suffering, I know. Still, we will miss her dearly. Her burial is tonight and we're making sure to reserve a nice space in the backyard for her.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


The typical hypnotist section brings this to mind: a patient on the couch and a guy above her swinging a watch saying (usually in a German accent), "You are getting very sleepy." A lot of people rely on a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about hypnosis; hypnosis is something strange and scary to them. However, that is a mistake. I recently got hypnotized and it has done wonders for me, at least in the short term. It wasn't anything I had thought at all.

Hypnosis is pretty much just a state of deep, deep relaxation, which is usually brought about by a vivid imagery. Daydreaming, for example, is a type of hypnosis although guided hypnosis is usually much better. Hypnosis can be used for a variety of uses such as pain management, the recovering of repressed memories, anxiety and other such things. For my purposes, I am having hypnosis used to help deal with my anxiety and depression

I came to hypnosis because traditional therapy (cognitive-behavioral therapy) wasn't working for me all that well. This is probably because I am already quite great at articulating and analyzing my feelings already and I don't really need another person doing it for me. It's not that traditional therapy wasn't doing anything for me; it just wasn't doing enough. I was doing it again and again and again and I haven't really gotten to the root of my problem. So I started looking for alternatives and I stumbled upon hypnosis.

My hypnotherapist explained to me what it was first, alleviating my fears first. She explained to me that it wasn't anything all that terrible, just what I said above. I would have control over everything that I did and I couldn't be hypnotized if I didn't want to be. She did say that I would be vulnerable to suggestion while I was under but she would be careful to speak positively. She started me off with a basic imagery scene at a different session to try to remove my inhibitions.

I didn't have a watch swinging in my face; I didn't find myself doing anything crazy when I was under hypnosis. A lot of the stereotypes I had didn't really apply to me. She used a pen, for one, to help relax me down and get me to that better state.

But it was one of the most relaxing, most pleasurable experience of my life. She did start with the pen, telling me to only focus on the tip of the pen and not blink until it touched my nose. It was so trippy doing it as my eyes focused and readjusted on it until all I saw was pink. And then I closed my eyes.

She started by having me walk down a flight of stairs. Three flights, actually, separated by landings. She asked me first what I was wearing and I said I was wearing a certain pair of flip-flops from my closet. She asked me what the stairs were made of and I said concrete; the railing was steel. She led me down the stairs one by one.

And then there was a big recliner at the bottom of the stairs. I took a seat and arched the chair back. I let my body  feel heavy and warm like she was telling me it was.

That was, of course, until she tapped my left arm and told me that it was light, lighter than all the others. It was light as helium, ready to float away. And then strangely enough, it did feel strangely light and it started to feel like it was floating, floating away and she had to press it back down.

She drew my attention to all of the negative thoughts (the hopelessness and helplessness within me) and imagine that it was sludge, poisoning my veins and attaching itself deeply in my heart.  She told me to give it a color and I gave it gray, murky gray because it was the first thing that came to mind. Then she told me to let it evaporate through my pores, just let it go, go, go.

But, of course, that gray had to be replaced by something. So she told me that there was a nurse next to me and that nurse had to inject me with this strength serum intravenously  Serum that would make me confident and happy and secure, that would make me see how special that I really was, that I would be like a superhero and believe in myself. What color was the strength serum? she asked. I said red. What was it called? she asked. I said "Superman Juice". She told me to imagine the juice shooting through my veins, right to my head and heart where I would need them the most. She just kept telling me to feel it, feel it rushing in and I did. I saw it slowly leave the bag and as it did, I became more and more energized.

Eventually, she had me open my eyes but my energy didn't leave me still. I was happier than I had been in a long time and I was ready to conquer the world. I believed I could do anything.  I'm still feeling the effects now.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Oldies Music

"Oldies", "rock'n'roll", "classic rock"... All terms describe the music that I love. Many my age shun oldies for more modern, auto-tuned music, proclaiming disgust at their parents' music, ignoring the beautiful lyrics and interesting sound behind it and not even thinking twice about it. I understand that people have different music tastes but I think they should really try to open their minds to the greatness of oldies music. My own music taste is eclectic and, while I do listen to other types of music also, I really do love my oldies music quite a bit.

I like all of the types of oldies, too, which is apparently unusual even among oldies lovers (who usually like one type of oldies music). Of course, I love many of the artists that my parents enjoy: Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Carole King, Bruce Springsteen, and Cat Stevens. I also enjoy artists like Billy Joel, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi, Jim Croce, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Suzanne Vega and many others. Occasionally, I will even listen to the Beatles too. My oldies library is quite large.

There's something honest, something quite pure about listening to music that has been completely unaltered and that was obviously completely from the heart. When singers like Bob Dylan pour their heart out in songs about issues that were relevant to them (and are often still even relevant today). Many of these artists were truly representative of their era, capturing an essence of their times. Even when they're singing songs obviously written while high (*cough, cough, the Beatles, cough*), they sing with so much emotion and so much passion that it almost feels like they were writing about something that almost did have meaning to it. And, of course, their talent was outstanding with each song that they sung, truly showing off the greatness they possessed.

Oldies music is a remnant of another time. It's so cool to see how music has changed, to see another perspective and another sound. I listen to oldies music from all different eras so obviously I hear quite a bit of music. It's a nice contrast to what I usually listen to and each artist also serves as a nice contrast with each other. Listening to such an array of artists, I almost get to hear the evolution of music itself, which is always pretty awesome.

I think the main reason why their music was so amazing was because these musicians were not afraid to take risks. They performed in ways that no other artist before them performed and they also weren't afraid to write about taboo subjects. In that regard, they were different from modern artists, who often sing the same tired subjects over and over again with the same tired sound to it. That's why they are so refreshing to listen to.

I love oldies music. Many teenagers are afraid to listen to oldies for fear that it's "uncool" or it "sounds weird". But it doesn't.  I would encourage anyone to listen to all sorts of music just to broaden the mind a little bit.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Getting Locked Out of the House

 A couple nights ago, I got locked out of the garage. Yes, that's right. The garage. It was cold outside and I was barefooted so it wasn't quite pleasant. Now I walk past it and always keep the door open, which is cold. I don't know why I'm finding this so worthy of writing but I guess I figure that it's different and it also was a learning experience for me.

It was 9:30 at night and I was hungry. I always get hungry at night, have been for the past year or so. Naturally, being as the yogurts are in a separate refrigerator in the garage, I went out there. And... When I turned back around, the door was locked. I kind of expected this because the lock have been locking and unlocking randomly ever since it was put in. But still, it did cross my mind that someone locked the door as a prank.

I told myself to be calm and think although I was freaking out. I had no idea what I was supposed to do so I tried to collect my thoughts.

Now, you might ask, where was the key? That's a good question. You're probably thinking, dear reader, that I didn't have one and that I was stupid for not having one. Wrong. At first, I didn't freak out at all because I thought, "The key. This is easy. I can unlock the door and I'll be fine." I looked precisely where I was told that the key was and they weren't there. I was screwed.

Then I really started to freak out. I banged on the doors over and over and over again and yelled as loud as I could but no one came. My dog started to bark, drowning out my yells, so I did it louder. I prayed our combination of noise would wake my parents up. But I tried to calm myself down and think a bit even though there didn't seem like there was anything I could do. I thought of how I could most comfortably settle on the cold, hard ground because it appeared that I was going to sleep there at night.

But wait, I thought, there has to be a way. And there was. If worst came to worst, I would put the combination in to open the garage door and ring the doorbell. I prayed that my parents' sleep wasn't that deep.

I didn't feel like going all the way out in the cold air with barely anything on so I decided one last try. I yelled, yelled, yelled and Sandy kept barking until I finally heard something of a response. I hoped that it wasn't my wishful imagination.

And sure enough, Mom came down.

"Thank God," I said.

She smiled and then she told me the story. She heard Sandy barking and didn't know why. She ignored it until Sandy persisted and then she got up to see if something was wrong (which was when she heard me). Basically, my dog (usually quite stupid, to be honest) saved me from a night in the cold.

Mom got Dad to come down to show us where the keys were and he showed us after all. Dad had moved the keys after all.

I make sure to bring my snacks upstairs now at night now.

Monday, April 1, 2013


There's only one time a year people can don the pastel colors and call them our own: Easter. Easter Sunday is the whole reason why we have Spring Break (that and Passover but mostly Easter). Or had, I should say.

While Easter is technically a serious Christian celebration, culturally it just seems to be a celebration of spring altogether. With bright-colored packages, Easter candies look especially vibrant with the little ducklings and vibrant grass after a long, long winter. Easter might not have been quite as commercialized as Christmas has been, but sometimes it comes close. Easter represents its own culture, folklore and set of traditions far removed from the actual idea of Christmas. This is an interesting product of our consumer culture. Easter is supposed to be a bigger deal than Christmas (after all, it only represents the cornerstone of Christianity) but it's easy to forget that.

Of course, it's not too unusual that Easter is a spring celebration. After all, cultures have celebrated some form of spring celebration for thousands of years through pagan religions. It's obvious that Easter's placement was no accident as Christians originally wanted to compete with pagan spring celebrations; the same, after all, was done with Christmas.

Easter and Christmas do have many similarities besides the fact that they are both Christian celebrations. Both are a time to be spoiled, although usually this is less so with Easter. Both are a time to spend time with family members although, in my experience, Easter celebrations are usually much smaller. Both are also the time when non-practicing Christians take it upon themselves to cram themselves into church services they wouldn't have usually attended before.

Whatever the case is, I do like my break and celebrating these very fun traditions.