Friday, June 28, 2013

My First Drive

Driving is a totally new experience for me. Totally new. I only got my learner's permit a few days ago. But last night, I finally did it. I drove in a pickup truck in the middle of a cemetery while it was raining. While that was totally nerve-wracking, I had to say that it was definitely pretty cool.

There was nothing like holding the wheel in my hand, gripping onto it and actually knowing what I was doing. I almost thought it was going to be like those little toy Barbie jeeps I drove in when I was little but it was nothing like that at all. I was holding the real deal in my hand and only I would have complete and total control of everything.

And it wasn't even as bad as I thought it would be. We pretty much just practiced braking (which was easy) and turning and going around in a circle. I steered too much and too little in some places and I had a hard time working on managing the big bulk of a truck but I managed to do it without hitting things. Dad remarked how great I did for the first time. Plus, he added it was harder in the rain being as it made the ground slippery and made it a little hard to see.

Turning was hard because, since it was a big car, I had to make a wide turn, so wide that I had to turn the wheel all the way around. It even took a little bit of strength. When I was going to use both hands and crossed them over each other, Dad stopped me. So I guess I'm just going to have to do the best I can to turn on my own. Dad said I could even use braking to help me turn but it would be better if I didn't use it.

I even played around with the gas pedal a little bit although I wasn't too great at that. I pressed on it a little too hard and wasn't good at letting up on it gradually (causing the car to jerk and all). I'll have to practice that in park a few times before I do anything else. But that's okay; I can learn that in another lesson.

I can't wait to get in the car again! I already feel the driving bug in me again. I know I'm probably crazy for making my first time be in the rain (and also in a big truck) but it was totally worth it. If I did so well this time, the next time should be even better. I'll even write studiously in my log about it and maybe share some driving moments here. I'll be a master in no time.

Note: This is going to be the last article I write for two weeks since I'm going away to camp and won't have access to the Internet.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Learner's Permit

I got my learner's permit today. Yes, that's right. I passed my test and now I can try it out on the road. Ah!

Truthfully, this moment should have come earlier. I had turned sixteen in March and could honestly have taken it then. But until I found out I was going to go to private school, I didn't care one way or another about driving. Now, I want to drive so I don't have to take the bus there. I really regret not taking my test then but oh well.

This means I'm going to have to actually spend my time on the road now. I am going to have to spend sixty five hours on the road, five of those being in inclement weather. They gave us a little log at the driving center and now I have to drive. I have to master a variety of skills, all of which I have to write down in a log that I have to show them.

It was scary, so scary to do it. On the drive there, my aunt had me identify all of the signs and I did the best that I could (although I was definitely afraid to do it). We had to have all the right documents: my passport, my Social Security card, the papers for my physicals, etc. I was so afraid that one of them wasn't going to be able to do it, wasn't even going to be able to do it. I was afraid that they would give my aunt an incredibly difficult time for not being my mother but the man must have thought she was my mother with a different last name. But then everything was in order and I was given a number. When I was called, I went to a computer and took the test.

But I did it. I passed, only getting two wrong out of eighteen. So then I went back to the counter with my aunt and told her (much to her joy). All of that studying paid off.

Since I passed, I got to do the rest with it. They printed me a learner's permit, got me to sign some things and all of that. I was asked if I wanted to be an organ donor since my mom said it was okay and of course, I said yes. Then they gave it to me and told me that I could go back to test there on Christmas (obviously, they won't be open on Christmas so I'll have to do it the day after). So essentially, I called everyone and told them I passed, which I'm sure I'll do on the day I take my driving test also.

Guess it's time to start driving. My dad said we need to go out tonight. I guess we'll see if that organ donation will have any effect soon enough...

Saturday, June 22, 2013


 On Thursday, I had my physical to get into Solebury and also to be able to get my learner's permit (although seriously who needs a permit to take a test? Am I gonna collapse from the effort of filling in a bubble). Which meant... shots! Yayyyy.

What astounded me was the sheer number of shots that I had to take. I took three shots, including a PPD test for tuberculosis. Today, the doctors had to confirm that I indeed did not have tuberculosis although the injection site is still red and the dot marking where I got it still prominent. The doctor's office had a list of all of the shots that I had taken for my entire life (and all of the dates I had taken them)... and it was quite extensive. It was enough to fill up an entire page and looked like about fifty or so vaccinations. That wasn't even counting the flu vaccination I get every year too, which is even more than that. It seriously got me thinking about things.

I know vaccination is an incredibly controversial topic. I'm sure that it's not good to to give that kids that many vaccinations and I'm sure it has some unforeseen effect. Who knows, maybe this is all apart of our over-medication? I'm not a medical expert; all I know is that I don't quite understand the point of it all. Half the diseases are diseases that have been wiped out in the Western world anyway so what's the point of vaccinating kids with them? To me, there doesn't seem a need to put random chemicals in some kid's body on the off chance that they might go to some third world country or something. I certainly don't understand why babies have to have all of these vaccinations forced on them at once, either.

I don't think vaccinations are the devil incarnate, either. While there are a few side effects that some kids suffer from them, these vaccinations are the most part safe and approved for use (for now. Who knows, there could always end up being something wrong with them). While some critics have argued the link between mercury and autism, this has largely been disproved. According to the FDA, vaccinations no longer contain thimerosal, the mercury-containing compound that was to blame for the spike in autism in the first place (many never even did at all). I certainly have never had any serious consequences to vaccinations with the exception of pain (before and after) and the allergic reaction that I had to the chicken pox shot when I was three.

It seems worse not to vaccinate your kids than to not vaccinate them. My sister has a friend who somehow got out of it (not for religious reasons, though, so I don't know) and it just astounds me. For example, every once in a while in my old public school, there was an outbreak of some kind going around. One time, there was this one kid who had measles that they had to guard against. Those who were not vaccinated had to stay home for an entire eighteen days. Eighteen days!

Sometimes, the effects are much more dire than that. Whooping cough, for example, can be lethal to young children or can leave them very sick. I don't understand why someone would want to leave their beloved child vulnerable to such a disease. Vaccines can prevent children from getting sick in the first place or can prevent an outbreak from the disease in the first place. Unvaccinated children can even make other children sick. So yes, vaccines kind of suck but they can't be worse than such diseases.

But still, I can't say that having shots are exactly pleasant, though. For one, they HURT. They always burn me going in. Most of the time, this changes when the needle is removed but not always. When I got my tetanus shot, my arm felt like I had had surgery on it... and still does. I've heard many girls suffer pain with the Gardasil vaccine although I never had.

So, to be honest, I'm not sure what to make of vaccines. I still can't help but think about them though and I think it's important for everyone to know what is in these vaccines and what it means putting into our bodies and in our children's bodies. But, for now, it looks like they're here to stay.

I'm not trying to say vaccinations kill you but I do admit I found this picture funny

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Leaving the Old Path

I'm walking down a new path, taking one-way ticket to a place I have never really been to before. Or at least, I will. I am taking a sharp turn in my life, walking straight into new waters and I am not regretting it at all. Today was my last day of public school. Next year, I will be in a private arts school. And I still don't know what to feel about that.

I know that what I'm doing is good. I know that this place has all of the resources for me, that it is an atypical school for an atypical person. I should be feeling happy, relieved. And, in a way, I am. Yet at the same time, I am feeling something else too. Something deep and heavy inside of my chest.

I guess the thing is is that I didn't want it to be this way. I wanted things to change and to get better and to stick it out. I did. I wanted to learn how to tolerate the pain that I was feeling so deeply inside of my chest, to not have to feel the heavy weight of feeling like an outsider in a place that was supposed to make me feel safe.

But things didn't work out that way. I spent my time in a toxic places around toxic people and that only made me toxic myself. It made me bitter and it made me sad and it made me give up on my hope of ever really succeeding, of ever being accepted or being happy. Was anything in life really worth it? Was all of life just a brutal race to the top? I was alone, utterly alone, the tendrils of negative energy sapping away everything that I was. I was a flower wilting away in darkness: perhaps I was not being stomped on or regarded but I was still a neglected flower and I would still grow stunted. I tried to change, to act happy, to not let it show. I even tried to get some mental stimulation from my school mates, with mostly failure. But it didn't work.

Sure, I could have "tolerated" it. But is tolerating it really living? Should I have swallowed that monotony and forced down the bile it gave me, waiting until it strangled me? Of all of the people in my school and of all of the teachers, I have to say there was probably only one person who actually cared about me and the other students. And while that did offer me some sort of hope for a while, it wasn't enough. I hated that feeling of loneliness, of no one caring, no one seeing, everyone moving. Those four walls around me each day gripped me like a vise. I knew that I had to take myself out of that environment. I needed to start fresh because something was definitely wrong. And I'm not saying my school was the cause for all of this. I had already arrived there miserable. I had a match in my hand and school was the gasoline; it was no wonder something horrible would ignite. That was a sign that something was wrong, that something had to change. The old path became too hard to walk on; I had to try something else before I would collapse.

So no, I don't have any feelings of longing for that life. I suppose what I do have is a fear of the unknown, wondering whether I am jumping from one bad thing to an even worse one. Because I'm taking a risk. A huge risk. There's always a risk in leaving everything you know behind and instead reaching for something else. It's quite crazy if you think about but sometimes, crazy is all that I really need to make the kind of change you want.

And there's a huge leap of faith in taking risks. There's a huge chance that I'm taking, one that might end horribly. I doubt that it will but, of course, there is always going to be that chance. And I have to accept that. Things might not work out. I have to accept that things If I step out of my comfort zone, which is what I'm doing, I might be well, uncomfortable. I might get less. But if I DON'T do it, I definitely won't get MORE. And I'm an ambitious girl; I don't want to lose that ambition. I've heard that if you don't like something, you need to CHANGE it so I'm changing the aspects in my life that I don't like. I don't like the path I'm walking down so I'm walking down a new one.

Is this giving up? Quitting? I don't know. All I know is that it's what I have to do.

I'm leaving. My feet already feel better, relieved of the sores that come from walking down a path of thorns. I'll get a chance to heal. I don't know if this is quitting but it's what I have to do. I feel like I have set down my backpack of boulders at the side of the road and walking (no running) without the sharp snapping of someone behind me telling me to stop. Maybe I'll visit, look back, reach out. But for now I have to go. But for now, I must start to walk my new path.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Nothing is as rich as the sound of music, true music,  in the air. So melodious, so graceful, so lovely, music just flows into the air like it was made for it. But a good song will go further: from the ear, a good, soulful song seems to move through the heart and deep into the recesses of the soul, where it sits and buries itself. A good song is a song that can either fill you with joy and fills you with deep, deep melancholy. And that's what music is, music lets you feel things that you either wouldn't feel otherwise or are far too afraid to let yourself feel it on your own. The combination of reading Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult and writing my music recommendation list got me thinking about music in general and how much it means to me. What effects that it has on my soul too. 

I listen, listen, listen to music all of the time and almost everywhere that I go (the beauty of portable data!). It fills me up like soup and just makes me feel good in a way that I don't fully understand, gives me a soul connection with another person that doesn't require actual contact. So in that regard, it's quite nice really. It's more than the lyrics that are soulful; it's the singer himself. A singer can so easily penetrate any defenses that I have brought up and all of my crazy thoughts. A soft melody can soothe me; a louder melody can jazz me up. It's amazing how music can impact my emotions. As a feeler, each and every sound reverberates through me and stays long after. 

Music with a message is particularly fantastic and the actual melody with it only enhances that very message. For that reason, music can make me think deeply and feel deeply. It's like a 3-D poem or something. And, with that, music can change the person listening to it. 

That emotional therapy is really important and music is so great because that's what it offers. Music makes you feel like you're not alone. It can make you feel like you're incredible with its influential and uplifting lyrics. It can help affirm how you're feeling, give you "permission" to feel it and help you not feel as much as a freak. A lot of the bands I listen to (My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park, Emilie Autumn, etc.) really have saved people's lives. That sort of influence and emotional venting really have helped those people out in rough patches. 

Music is expression. And I have always loved expression. That is right after all. The beautiful thing about music is that it is so subjective. What one person hates, the other loves. Music is interpreted different depending on the listener; the listener fills in all the white spaces. I love how music can help you play around like that.

Music has an impact like nothing else has. It's in a class all of its own. And that's why it is so amazing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Listen to It!: A List of Underrated and/or Indie Artists that You Need to Listen to Right Now

It has come to my attention that there are a great deal of people who aren't aware of indie music. And that's just sad! As an avid music listener, indie artists are some of my favorites to listen to. There are so many artists out there that are absolutely incredible but who barely get any recognition at all. There are some true poets out there who can sing more about sex and bling. So, in no particular order, here is a list of artists you need to listen to right now. I'll expand this routinely. Yes, the list is long but every single person on here is worth a listen. 
1) Angie Aparo 
Wow! What a voice! He's so truthful and full of meaning you can't help but love him. 
2) Heather Dale 
Heather Dale is definitely one of the more unique folk singers I've come across. Heather is a dork and proud of it. While many artists sing about their (modern) daily life, Heather Dale enjoys singing a bit more anachronistically. Her favorite topic seems to be Arthurian legend but she occasionally sings about other aspects of mythology and history too. I recommend this for anyone into world history. She teaches you so much and with an absolutely gorgeous voice. 
3) Emilie Autumn 
Emilie Autumn is one of the bravest artists I've listened to. Raw and real, Emilie Autumn writes out her pain through her songs. Her songs have definitely served as an outlet to me in my darker days and that's because she's so real (I suffer from depression; Emilie is bipolar); I'm sure she can also be helpful to anyone after a bad day. Her two albums Opheliac and Enchant are extremely different, the kind of difference that comes from being sent to an abusive mental hospital. Not everyone's cup of tea, I admit, but worth dipping your toes in the water.  
4) The Strange Familiar
A husband and wife duo, the Strange Familiar has created songs that are both beautifully written and sung. Heartfelt and introspective, these songs will leave you breathless. The group was first publicized when their songs were including on the show The Secret Life of an American Teenager. But their songs need even more recognition. 
5) The Mountain Goats
Only John Darnielle, the lead singer, can channel his demons into song quite so amazingly. He writes about all sorts of aspects in his life and his albums are a linear progression of his life with Sunset Tree all about his turbulent childhood. His songs have a very earthy folk vibe but also sing about some very important things. I was brought to them by John Green, I might add (another perk, among many, of being a nerdfighter.
6) The Decemberists
This band also has said earthy folk vibe that has become rather countryish in their new album The King is Dead. They sing about everything out-of-this world such as the story of a rake and "crane wives" to topics that really hit close to home like the discovery of a child's autism. Great stuff. 
7) Vanessa Carlton 
She's a sad case of a one-hit wonder, I'm afraid. No one seems to know any songs by her except "A Thousand Miles". But she's sung so much more! Her songs are real and you can tell she's really experimented as an artist through her albums. She sings about self-discovery and loss to new beginnings. 
8) Laura Marling 
An English folk singer, Laura Marling's songs range from cute and quirky to sad and soulful. With tongue-in-cheek humor and a pretty accent, Laura sings about her life. 
9) Regina Spektor 
Regina Spektor is definitely a singer who can really pack a punch with both her voice and lyrics. She can also play piano like no one else can. More amazing, English is the singer's second language!
10) Ani DiFranco 
Ani DiFranco is Maya Angelou in song form. Fierce and unapologetic, Ani isn't afraid to dish her opinions and in a truly poetic way. 
11) Serj Tankian 
Originally the singer of the better known System of a Down, Serj has made amazing progress while flying solo. His political commentary is sharp and true and his other songs are also the same. Regardless of whether you like him or not, you definitely will remember him. 
12) Automatic Loveletter
Punk rock and proud of it, Automatic Loveletter brings a new angle into topics many other singers have sung so many other times before. Definitely worth a look. 
13) Anna Nalick 
Anna Nalick is that middle ground between rock and pop. She's sadly faded out since her song "Breathe" but she is still just as amazing as ever. 
14) Basia Bulat 
I found her when I got a song of hers for free. Employing a wide variety of instruments in her songs, there's just something about her that's especially exotic. 
15) Bon Iver
You might know him from the Twilight soundtracks but he has other songs as well. And he's just as awesome in all of that. 
16) Superchick 
Superchick can rock like no one else can! They sing about rising above and being proud of yourself as well as some more important issue. Technically, they're Christian rock but make no mistake, they have quite a large breadth. 
17) Maria Mena 
This girl really bears it! She sings about it all and she sings in a way that makes you unable to help but admire her toughness and everything she's went through. Plus, she has such a pretty voice. Did I tell you she was Danish? 
18) Brittany Kwasnik 
I found her through YouTube before she's ever had anything released. But this girl is amaaaaazing! Sure, she probably should write about more than guys but, to be fair, she's only sixteen. 
19) Chris Pureka 
Chris sings her past for what it is. Her guitar and soft voice work so well together that it's almost like they were a match from heaven. 
20) Christina Perri 
Catapulted into fame with "Jar of Hearts", Christina has a beautiful voice 
21) Dar Williams 
Man, can Dar strum her guitar? Wise and straightfoward, her songs offer much-needed advice. It feels almost like she's speaking to you. 
22) Imogen Heap
Imogen Heap is definitely very cool to listen to. She often uses Enya's dream pop technique but not quite. In addition to that, her lyrics are also great. Her project as Frou Frou should also not be missed. 
23) The Dresden Dolls 
What can I say, these ladies are great. Again, they're not everyone's cup of tea but they can be very therapeutic to listen to. 
24) Of Monsters and Men 
I admit that I was just introduced to them by a friend but they're great! They totally keep up the folk. 
25) A Fine Frenzy 
A one-woman show, Alison Sudol (a.k.a. A Fine Frenzy) does it all herself. From shy and reserved to crazy and silly, she's definitely a blast to listen to. 
26) First Aid Kit 
More folk! Two sisters, I originally found them on the iTunes homepage where they promoted indie artists. A sister duo with some really haunting lyrics and metaphor, they can really sing. 
27) Fiona Apple 
Fiona is the Queen of Soul. Her voice sounds almost reminiscent of many a jazz singer and it has just as much heart. She's addictive. 
28) Flipsyde 
Yes, they're rap. But they're good rap. Flipsyde actually raps about real things and their song "U.S. History" actually helped me with my Social Studies final. So yeah. 
29) The Green Children
I first heard about The Green Children through a charity event they were doing. Their song "Hear Me Now", originally released as a single, was inspired by the charity work that they did. Their songs are really different, jazzy and exciting but also close to their pop roots. Pretty cool. 
30) Hannah Fury
Hannah Fury is definitely different and is definitely an acquired taste. She has the voice of a siren softly beckoning you to jump off the ship. She sounds like a ghost in a mansion. Most fans of Hannah Fury are also  Emilie Autumn fans. 
31) James Blunt 
A one hit wonder but amazing. His songs are thoughtful and his insights into the world fresh. Not to mention that alongside his thoughtful songs, he also has a few love songs that can really make a girl swoon (did I tell you he's British?). He was also the second concert I've ever been to and I can assure you that he's even hotter in person than he is in his pictures. 
32) Marie Digby 
Soft and sweet, Marie Digby sings with a girl-next-door reliability and her songs are a lullaby. You can't help but fall for her. 
33) Outcast Youth
Unfortunately, many of their songs aren't on iTunes but they're up on YouTube. This band sings about the issues that plague youth today such as eating disorders and addiction. They rap but their raps are always meaningful. 
34) A Perfect Circle 
Dark and gritty, A Perfect Circle is for any metalhead. Unfortunately, they are no longer together but their songs are still there. The lead singer is also in Tool. 
35) Blake Bliss 
Soft and sweet, he has the kind of voice that makes you feel like you're being serenaded to. I found him through his YouTube channel but his music definitely needs more recognition. 
36) Britt Nicole 
Okay, another Christian artist. But her music is incredibly feel-good and inspirational and she has a beautiful voice. Give her a try. 
37) Tori Amos 
Such a wonderful poet! And she has my name! Her songs are haunting and deep. To those who don't appreciate her, she sounds "creepy" but honestly, it's all a part of the metaphor. 
38) Flyleaf 
Flyleaf is the rock band of our time. Although they don't identify their music as Christian, their faith is deeply obvious in their work. It will really astound you how loud such a tiny girl can scream!
39) The Shins 
Um, isn't their band name cool enough? But seriously, their metaphor is amazing. 

That's it for now. If any of you guys have any music suggestions, list below! 
You're welcome :) 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Taking Offense

People take offense at the stupidest things. They really do. Of course, every once in a while, their offense is actually warranted. Like it was tonight.

I've said a lot of stupid shit in my lifetime. I'm pretty sure that everyone has. Sometimes, though, it's not the stupid shit that I say but the stupid ways people respond to the stupid shit that I say that puts them in the wrong. Because just because I said one bad thing doesn't make me the Devil Incarnate. Most of the time, I haven't even meant any harm. But sometimes, the way people react to those things make me look like I have done them the most grievous harm ever. I really don't understand people who get so easily offended. People make mistakes every once in a while; I say let them go. Many people, though, seem not to be nearly as forgiving and seem to hold what you say over your head for the rest of time (this seems to be the case with me). 

Sometimes, people get offended at things that aren't even stupid.  Maybe at things that are controversial but they get offended at things that actually make sense. At valid opinions. Sometimes I feel that there are a great deal of people who find logic offensive. Or they get offended at a truth they don't want to hear. Regardless, it is at these sorts of truths that people seem to become especially self righteous and seem to think they know everything (and are shocked to discover when this is not the case).

I hate it when people get offended, especially when they get offended easily. When I start talking about something really good, really interesting and their face puckers up and they put me in my place. Excuse me? Half the time, when I'm talking to an adult, they always pull the age card too, acting suddenly like it's impossible for a teenager like me to form an intelligent opinion. 

I understand if they get offended at the touchy subjects, being as I do bring up touchy subjects quite a bit. Some people truly can't tell the difference between me attacking them and me attacking their beliefs because they find them inseparable. It's alright, not everyone is as chill with everything as I am. Some people are truly too irrational and illogical to have any sort of serious conversation with and I should probably just accept that. Also, I probably should consider that I often don't treat certain topics with as much sensitivity as I should. 

Yet people who get offended easily get offended over everything. These people get offended from even the slightest bit of attack on something they like even if it's something as silly as a different view on a celebrity or book or school. Who get offended by my very presence and thought and difference. And then these usually are the same people who try to force me into seeing why my behavior is wrong and why I should stop and think like them even though it's my freaking opinion and I should have the right to it. 

Maybe it's not the getting offended part that annoys me but the way people act when they get offended. When they coolly discuss why their opinion angers them in a way that makes sense, I get it. When they simply state they're offended, I usually don't talk about the "offensive" comment in front of them. I love it even more if we can have a conversation on their offense. However, when they completely lose their shit and start freaking out, then we have a problem. After this, it's typical to expect them to maintain their tense, angry posture and give me the cold shoulder for days to come. Totally lame. Usually, it's the easily offended people that do this, which makes me become annoyed with them even more. It's not like I'll change my opinion on the topic so who cares? It makes me lose all respect for you. The more politically correct I am with you, the less I respect you. When I'm telling it as I see it, I am respecting you enough to say, "You are logical. You are not a child. I can be honest with you." 

I don't like offending people. I generally don't like creating conflict in general; it's not part of my personality. Yet I suppose that sometimes, it just has to happen. Otherwise, I would have to avoid topics like religion and politics and I would also have to refrain from writing my social commentary altogether. But that won't happen. I recognize as a writer, not everyone will agree with what I have to say and that also means that people might not like me. They might not even state their offense well. But people get offended by writers all of the time and usually the best writers have been the one to offend (what causes censorship after all?). I probably should accept this already and get over it. 

Easily offended people, calm down. The world will not fall apart if someone has a differing viewpoint. However offensive it is, they have the right to have it. Down with the political correctness. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Support Systems

 It's easy to focus on what you don't have or what's wrong. Hell, it's often needed to keep one sane. But at some point, it's important to focus on what you do have. And so I am writing this article almost as a direct response to yesterday's blog post.

Because, you see, even though I have been surrounded by assholes, I have also been around some pretty amazing people. And as easily as it might be to forget that, I won't let myself. It might be easy to take that for granted but I won't. I have an amazing support system at home and I'm already starting to make friends with the people I am going to attend camp with on Facebook. There are so many people in my situation who don't have that kind of support, which makes their situation even more difficult. But I'm not one of those people and I have to be grateful for that. Father;s Day has got me thinking about one of the most influential people in my support system and how important my support system is over all.

Support systems are really wonderful. A support system is willing to lend you a hand and an ear when you need help and whenever you aren't able to offer it for yourself. They're willing to help you pick up the pieces of yourself. They're willing to let you know that someone cares even when you think no one does, that someone finds you wonderful even when you hate yourself. That they love you even when they aren't willing to put up your bullshit.  When they aren't able to help you, they fight to find someone you can. They fight for you in general whenever someone hurts you. They are your greatest advocates. But most of all, they care. And sometimes that's all you really need: someone who cares about you.

A support system offers love, reassurance but, most of all, security. You always have someone to fall back on. You know that, despite everything, there will always be some people who love you unconditionally and will be able to forgive almost anything you do.

It's heartbreaking to know that there are so many kids out there who don't have this. When those kids are lost, they have no one to show them the way. When they cry, they cry alone. When they need help, they must find it for themselves. They don't have all of the things a support system offers. Is it no wonder they go down such self-destructive paths? I don't know how anyone gets along without one.

Sometimes, you do have a support system when you don't think you do even when it's a poor one. You have people who love and care for you far beyond what you know even if they aren't so great at showing it.

Support systems are so important to help a kid grow up. They really are. Who doesn't need an extra dose of love every once in a while after all?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dear Bullies

Dear Bullies,
I don't even know what to say to you. I don't know what to say to any of you. Does it matter? I am talking to all of you.

You told me to kill myself. You called me names, horrible names. You pretended to be my friend and then you manipulated me for kicks. You made me sit at the boys table, made sure none of the other girls played with me at recess. You shoved me in the camp showers so hard that I fell. You poked me with a yardstick again and again and again in class so I couldn't pay attention. You threw a textbook at me, luckily missing my body. You tried to grab me in science class, pretended to grab me under the tables, on top of the tables. I watched you bend a girl's thumb back until she screamed and you still didn't stop. You tried to ruin my life. I don't know how sincere you were in your efforts and I'm not sure I want to know. All I know is that you almost succeeded.

But dear bully, I am here today. You scarred me and these gaping holes inside of me are there because you came at me with your sledgehammer words. Some of those scars will never go away. But that's what you wanted, wasn't it? You wanted someone to ruin because you have been ruined. You wanted to make someone weak because you are weak. You probably cry yourself to sleep every night, don't you? I shouldn't be angry at you because, in reality, you are a sad, pathetic lowlife only worth my pity. But still, I am angry.

I am angry that you stole my innocence. I am angry that you stole my childhood. I am angry that you made school something I hated instead of loved, made school a place where I felt scared and insecure and vulnerable. I am angry that you stole my trust, marred all of my future friendships. I am angry that you broke me down until I was brittle, that you wore down my defenses until I was too weak to fight. I am angry that many of you are still doing your old game but worse now. I am angry that instead of choosing to better yourself from your bad experience, you chose to worsen yourself. I am angry that you let the cycle continue. And yes, while I try to forgive you and I try to understand you and I try to have compassion towards you, I am angry. Some days, I feel so angry that I can spit at you, claw at you, scream.

But I won't. The past is the past and what's done is done. I'm moving on with my life. I am angry but I am trying to forgive. Do I wish you well, wish you to mend your ways? Do I wish you a hell like my old one? I cannot say.

I can see you try to get at me again. Some of you come and you hiss like the feral cats you are. One of you tried to come at me again today, tried to humiliate me in front of my class today. Great way to finish off the school year, right? But you are only a nuisance; you do not affect me and I can see it in your eyes that that kills you to know that I don't care. Don't you understand that I have already fought with the lions? I am through with you, with all of you. You are pathetic; your words and harsh treatment say more of you than of me. I will be better than you. I am leaving this school to escape you and your memories, to clear my head of all of these toxins. And I will be better for it.

You have made me stronger, dear bullies. Yes, you almost killed me but now you have made me stronger. Wiser. I should thank you for that but I can't. Because at what price did that come?  Will your other victims be as lucky?

I'll never understand what makes you get high off of seeing another person bleed. What you get from kicking a person that's already down. All that I know is that I refuse to stoop to your level. I refuse to keep the cycle going. And you know what? I'm starting a new cycle. One of good from my bad. One of positive energy. And I won't ever let any of you tear me down again.

No Longer Your Victim

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Organ Donation

Sarah Murnaghan got her lungs today. Sarah Murnaghan, in case you don't know, is a little girl dying from cystic fibrosis. She wasn't originally put on the organ donors list because those receiving lung transplants technically must be twelve years old and she's only ten. A federal judge recently declared that she must be put on the list and so she is recovering from surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as we speak. Sarah Murnaghan got her transplant today. She's part of the lucky few. Every day, eighteen people die while waiting for the transplant they need ("The Need Is Real"). 90% of Americans support organ donation but only 43% of Americans are registered organ donors nationwide ("Statistics"). The need is real but the need isn't being met. Sarah Murnaghan was lucky... but so many others aren't. Organ donation is such an important topic but, unfortunately, so many people are uninformed about many of its aspects and, formerly, I was included in that group. So I took it upon myself to research it.

Like I stated, the vast majority of Americans support organ donation. Yet, given that, why do so little Americans donate their organs even after death? The main reason seems to be ignorance. Most Americans don't understand the crucial steps needed to become an organ donor or even the different types of organ donation there is.

I also think a lot of it is the fact that it deals with death in a way and that's not something most people want to think of. It's not a conversation that most people want to have even if it's a conversation that most people need to have. A lot of people want to think of death as something pristine, close to tradition. For some reason, they care about their body's state even though they won't be around to appreciate it. So many people are appalled by the idea of all of their organs not being intact with their body somehow, imagine their body ripped apart. Again, this probably has to do with the ignorance over organ donation. Of course, they're only looking at it from that perspective forgetting that their organs will actually be going to help people instead of rotting away uselessly underground. But still, people will insist, won't be able to get over that hurdle. They might even bring up their family's possible pain in this and perhaps that might be violent but, with less ignorance that could be helped.

Of course, you don't even have to be dead to donate organs! But then that's even worse because people will think of the pain and the inconvenience to them, which is more understandable, I suppose. Many people want to cling on to their organs in case a loved one might need one, which I suppose is also understandable. But still, it's so easy to become an organ donor and I don't understand why more people don't become one. My father is a registered organ donor and I plan to become one when I turn eighteen.

Perhaps it would help if there was a viable, legal organ market. At the moment, Americans can only sell blood plasma, sperm and eggs, but no other organs. Perhaps this is a mistake. As much as I appreciate the beauty of donating out of the goodness of one's own heart, I do understand that there often has to be another incentive for many people. And an organ market would hurt no one: it would save more lives and it would also give people the ability to decide what to do with their own money. I can see the arguments against this of course, mostly citing the possible exploitation of the poor, who would be more likely to sell their organs (and at a lower price than deserved). In a way, I understand this though I'm afraid this is already happening. There is also an argument against the poorer people on the list but, again, hopefully there would still be ways to encourage donation over selling an organ. Also, I feel that if people have the means to save their own lives and the lives of their children, they should do whatever is possible to help them (the poor are already screwed over in the American health care system anyway but that's the argument for another day). Legalization would allow for regulation and the end of the underground market. And perhaps this would be enough to save more lives.

When somebody donates their organs after they die, they are often to save many more lives. Their muscles, lungs, kidneys, heart can all be used to save the lives of eight people or more ("Statistics"). Pretty incredible when you think of it. All of these people can be saved and yet they aren't being saved.

Regardless of your opinion, this is a real problem. Until we find a way to create synthetic organs to deal with this need, it will always be a problem. Sarah was lucky but so many aren't. That's what makes organ donation so important. Whatever the case, we need more organs for people. Thousands of people die every year from not getting an organ. Will you be willing to help them?

Works Cited:
"The Need Is Real: Data." | Welcome to N.p., n.d. Web. 12 June 2013.
"OPTN: Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network." OPTN: Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 June 2013.
"Statistics |" Donatelifenet RSS2. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 June 2013.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Reading the New York Times

In this technology-obsessed world, it's hard to find anyone who has actually read a newspaper. Who has actually felt it in their hands and smelled it. Well, I stand here to say that I am a millennial who has actually read a newspaper. A real, live newspaper and not something on the Nook. Today, I actually read The New York Times. Not the whole thing, of course, for it's much too huge for one sitting, but just the major news section and...

It was fantastic. The articles aren't just stuff keeping you up to date with the world in the most basic of ways, aren't just stuff written childishly. That's the stuff of the local newspaper my parents and grandfather reads and it bores me to tears. I thought this would be somewhat of the same thing (albeit written at a higher reading level) but it wasn't. The Sunday edition of The New York Times was so much more engaging and interesting than I could have hoped. The thing is huge and there's so much there. It was worth every penny of the six dollars that I spent on it.

Holding an actual, physical newspaper in my hands was incredibly strange. I smelled the fresh ink. It was like reading a book but not quite. A magazine, almost, but not quite. It was quite hard to hold. A newspaper is so long that it's hard to hold and your arms ache after a while. It's difficult to lay down, nice and cozy with it like I can with a book. Definitely a bit awkward. I understand why one might enjoy the Nook version more (although I really did enjoy the inky, papery smell quite a bit, I admit).

But still, it was very interesting and thought-provoking. The article ranged much in content, the news covering both national and international topics. The topics varied also, of course, ranging from the war in Afghanistan to the concern of residents in the Hamptons over the increasing members of drunk people.

Apparently, there's still more even after this. In addition to the major news article, they have other sections such as the sports and real estate sections. So I'll get to read even more.

There were also little mini magazines inside of it, one with the book reviews and the bestsellers list inside. I'm so excited!

I never knew reading the paper could be so much fun.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Marriage has been an age-old ceremony of two (or sometimes more) people agree to commit with each other in some way. Technically, I suppose there are two types of marriage: legal and religious. Still, I thought both were to be taken seriously. It just doesn't seem like that's the case anymore. Due to a variety of things, I can't help but think, "Does marriage mean anything to anyone anymore?" Because everyone around me seems to think nothing of it at all when it's kind of, I don't know, supposed to be a huge long-term commitment. Instead, it seems to be more about, "Yay, let's do it for the hell of it." And, for the weddings. Let's not forget the weddings. Because, you know, the dress you pick out is obviously more important than the fact that you're supposed to be declaring your love and commitment to another person. Granted, this opinion is coming from a random sixteen year old who has never been married or been in a serious, long-term relationship... so take it with a grain of salt.

Anyway, I've been fortunate enough to have been born into a family with two loving parents who have miraculously managed to stay together despite all the shit thrown at them. I, however, am in the minority it seems. The vast majority of the kids I meet seem to come from divorced parents and a large part of those kids have had those divorces be really, really messy. And, of those kids, most of them seem to be really screwed up psychologically from it (mostly from parents who act like raging baboons instead of adults when they decide to call it quits).

Which makes me wonder why so many people are throwing in the towel so easily. Since marriage is supposed to be a long-term commitment, it obviously wasn't meant to be easy. It must be incredibly hard to sustain something for a lifetime, especially with pesky things like children and finances in the way. Even harder once the lust flickers and life gets super busy. But hey, you kind of signed up for the package when you signed the marriage certificate so it's not something that can be so easily tossed aside. These are all things to think about when you're sealing the deal for life.

The problem is, I'm not even sure people are thinking about these things at all. There's been this creepy trend of women trying to pressure men to get married. But why? It doesn't seem to be out of the love of their own hearts either but rather an urge to finally have the wedding they've always dreamed of (which brings me to the question: What's the point of wedding? Isn't it supposed to be about the love and not the pomp?). Our country glorifies weddings and doesn't even seem to think anything about divorce.

I'm not trying to demonize divorced people here by any means. Sometimes, things don't work out no matter how hard you try and in those cases, it's better just to move on than try to painfully keep holding on. Things happen. As far as I see it, though, that should be the very last option. It should happen after a couple has tried everything out and can't seem to get their shit together. Obviously, people shouldn't stick in relationships that make them feel unhappy and burnt out because no one benefits from that.

And if you are going to end up divorcing a person, at least have the maturity to do so gracefully. I don't care if the other person is the biggest asshole ever, there's no reason why you can't divorce civilly especially when you have kids in the picture. Because if you don't divorce gracefully and you have kids, you're pretty much telling them, "Guess what, kiddo(s)? My feelings and hurt are more important than your psychological well-being so I won't even bother to try to restrain myself and mask my hatred of your other parent." Which makes me wonder why in the world you decided to be a parent in the first place.

There should be a little bit of balance. It's not like I'm encouraging that fake, smiling fifties family but I think people are way too willing to divorce too easily in this country. It's like no one wants to try for anything anymore and everyone makes it all about them. Marriage should be seen as a solemn thing, not some big game of Dress Up.

Yeah, I know I have some really harsh opinions here. I probably sound really judgmental too. I've just seen what divorce has done to the people that I've loved and it's really started to piss me off. These poor kids have given up on love and relationships and the other sex all because their parents have been such shitty models. And they seem to think, "Oh whatever, I'll just get divorced anyway too so whatever" and they repeat their parents' mistakes and enter this vicious cycle. That's just not right.

Point is, marriage is supposed to mean something. People, go on and act like it does.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Awards and Award Ceremonies

Getting an award is a sign you're a winner. Awards are granted to so many people that it's hard to tell when they actually mean something. Everyone lives for recognition and awards offer the perfect chance to do this. Even consolation prizes and participation awards offer people the chance to get noticed. And so, of course, people love them. People love awards ceremonies even more for this reason especially considering all the pomp and circumstance. That really adds to their feelings of self-importance. Not only do people get the physical award but they get it in the most exaggerated way possible. People really fall for it. Even I fall in their trap. After all, I should probably revel in my accomplishments without having a physical award.

However, when awards show your actual placement in something and signify an actual competition, it's great. And so was my winning an award yesterday and going to the award ceremony.

I never thought I was going to place. Before, I simply got Honorable Mentions. And I was okay with it because it was such a prestigious competition and I thought I was never going to get that far. But I did.

And so I succumbed to vanity. Even though I already had my physical award mailed to me, I already went through the ceremony because that made it even better. Basically, we just all gathered, listened to someone speak and then greeted the audience with our work behind as we did. Then we got food and got to look at the artwork. So it didn't even accomplish much besides letting us indulge ourselves in our victory and our feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. In our precious egos. 

Yes, this award ceremony might not have even been the literal giving of awards but it was a time to celebrate and acknowledge us. To make us the center of attention and feel self-important. Just what the award ceremony was for. Of course, I had fun and felt awesome but it was only later that I started to think, started to question. I wondered if I had a right to be self-indulgent and I decided that I had because I had earned it. I was a winner truly and I needed to celebrate.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Great Gatsby Review

One of the most anticipated soundtracks of the year has finally come out along with the movie and... To be honest, it was a great disappointment. The Great Gatsby soundtrack was a mixed bag, each song either hit or miss.

While songs like “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey and “Over the Love” by Florence and the Machine were powerful and really captured the essence of the movie, many songs just felt weird and out of place. The makers of the movie decided to do something quite strange and controversial and that was to add anachronistic songs to the movie. This move worked sometimes in the movie and sometimes it didn’t. “100$” by Jay-Z might have been a good song but in the movie, it didn’t fit at all. Some of the more modern songs like Fergie’s song “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” might have been boring and uninspired but they did fit into the movie and added that edgy, spicy tone to the scene in a way that a more classic piece of movie might not have done. If any song could show the decadence of the life of the rich, it’s a song sung by Fergie, the queen of empty songs with shallow forms of sex appeal.

And why, oh why, couldn’t they have managed to put in some jazz? That was the actual music of the era! Louis Armstrong should have been a must but instead, they put this impromptu group Brian Ferry Orchestra to do the trick and they bombed it. During excellent scenes of the movie, it served more of a distraction than as an additive to the movie.

As I said, there were a few songs that really added to the movie. “Young and Beautiful” showed up in various remixes in the movie, appearing as a quite lovely motif for Daisy and Gatsby’s love. Also “Kill and Run” by Sia and “Over the Love” by Florence and the Machine really added the haunting vibe the movie needed. Jack White and alternative band The XX’s “Together” was also quite nice (although didn’t compare to some of the others) and Gotye wasn’t all that bad.

I give the album 2.5 stars and that’s only because of the wonderful performances by a select number of artists. If you must download the album, get it from a friend unfortunate enough to have shelled out enough bucks to buy the whole thing.