my education is useless

As of right now, I am a sophomore in college. I am currently taking summer classes and found myself doing almost everything else but learning and doing the work assigned. I’ve found myself in this kind of attitude that’s not just the feeling of ‘I don’t want to do this’ or ‘I can do this tomorrow, on the deadline, an hour until.’ The attitude I have had is ‘what is this worth?’

When I was younger, I didn’t see myself in college. I was a smart kid but never saw myself doing anything more than high school. I didn’t see myself not getting to a high school graduation or just becoming a bum afterward like the usual expectation for kids who don’t go to college, but I just didn’t see it as an option for me. It didn’t interest me and still doesn’t interest me.

Again, I’m a smart kid. I was placed in advanced classes from elementary school and decided to take rigorous classes when the choice was given. I get the grade and do good in school with testing and benchmarks or whatever achievement I was expected to get. I was always on the path of going to college, getting that bachelor’s, master’s and maybe doctorate, and be successful. But is this really the only path to success?

By the time I got to high school, I noticed the difference in education I was getting to what my previous years of education had been. Now, teachers and their ability to teach was inconsistent and I the uneducated in a certain subject was supposed to be well-learned in a subject to test well and get that A+. Now there was homework given because it was supposed to help but would take up 3 hours finding the answer than learning the material. Now there were tests given that only tested our testing ability rather than our knowledge of a certain subject. This kind of schooling has led me to memorize and dump information just for test and grown bored of sitting in a classroom, just to self-educate myself later with the assigned homework.

Because of this education, it has led me to learn in a different manner. Instead of going to class and sitting through the lecture, I’ve learned to reason if it’s worth going to instead of catching up on other homework or instead teaching myself because hey high school has taught me to do so. Instead of reading all the assigned reading, I’ve learned to share notes with peers and skim passages for vocabulary words. Instead of actually caring for my education, I’ve learned to get by and hope all these credits get me somewhere. Honestly, I don’t even care what my major and career will be because my passion and this kind of learning is so boring and time-consuming.

I do get that now to do anything requires a college education to be taken seriously, but to get there, yes, is hard work, but I’d rather be doing other things that mean something to me than learning about mitochondria and the binomial function because it’s a requirement for my undergraduate than actually helping me learn and gain experience in my degree and career path. I’d rather be getting an education elsewhere and from a first-hand account from travelling and reading my own books and being fueled by curiosity than having to meet requirements. Maybe I won’t be a doctor this way, but I’d be doing things that matter to me and do not seem like a waste of my time and something I can actually learn and do things I actually want to do.

I didn’t see myself in college not because I couldn’t do it, but because I didn’t see it for me. This kind of education bores me and is a waste of my time. Maybe when I’m made official with a degree and cap and gown, I’ll think differently, but after years of careless educating and more in college, I don’t see the value anymore. I’d rather work odd jobs in different places and be content living small but doing something new than meeting an essay deadline. I don’t want success in making millions and becoming famous, I want success in being free with myself and my choices. Right now school has restricted me from doing more and being able to be happy.

There are some people that can go through this whole education system and come out fine and land that degree and job, and then are some people who are able to make it without a degree. Those people are able to survive because of a passion or because they can’t sit still in a classroom. I can’t sit still in a classroom and have a dead passion, but I’d still work hard to live than only get by.

I want to learn by a different system because this one with testing and useless requirements hasn’t benefitted much except to show me a standard idea of success and that there’s only one way towards it.

why i don’t eat

I think it’s great that mental illnesses and mental health have finally gained attention over the past couple years. It’s becoming less of a taboo and more of a topic of discussion. There are now TV shows that represent mental disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, anxiety, and autism. There are now more open discussions of ‘what’s on your mind?’ and ‘how are you feeling?’ There is more information to educate ourselves and help to get better.

Over the past couple of years, I think the shift in acknowledging mental health is great. With more representation, there is less of a stigma surrounding these topics and those affected by it. People now aren’t seen as crazy or a product of the looney bin when they say they are affected by depression. Now I know that my friends are a lot more open to talking about what’s on their mind and more considerate of others. In this time, I’ve gotten more comfortable talking about struggling depression and an eating disorder. If this was five years ago, I don’t think the same response would’ve been as accepted or really well received by those closest to me.

Before I get to my next point, I do want to share my stories with depression and binging.

I don’t think I’ve always been like a happy-go-lucky kid; I always thought too much to realize my emotions. I was woke from a young age, well more aware of the world around me and how people said things to me from about five to now and until I die. Like I could tell when people weren’t really interested in what I had to say as a kid and if they were talking down to me because I was so young. Kids aren’t stupid or less of a human because they are small, they quite smart and capable of doing and understand things much like adults, but they haven’t been hardened and made selfish like we have. I really didn’t like that and was pretty much a smartass growing up because I realized adults didn’t really care about me. Now back to this super aware thing, I was able to read people easily and it followed me throughout elementary school and middle school where I could tell that now people just weren’t disinterested in me, but they thought I was lame by my body language. I think that kind of disinterest is worst than being verbally said because it’s never mentioned, but you know it and they know it. I knew I didn’t fit in with my peers much and I didn’t try to let it bug me because I did try to fit in and had other things to focus on, but it was always something that ate at me.

Then the summer before high school, something just broke. I don’t know exactly what made me be like this, but I remember thinking of absolutely nothing. Like I mentioned above, I’m always thinking and have something to think about, but at this moment nothing. Not a single moving thought occupied my mind. All I could ‘think’ of, well really picture, was this black fog always there. I remember not knowing how to deal with it and instead acted out on this nothing and developed some bad habits. When those dealing with depression say they felt nothing like were numb, I know that feeling. It’s like nothing makes sense during those days except you’re looking for something, but you’re not prepared for this task or the abilities you once had are useless for this task. You’re trying to get out, but it just seems like there’s no possible way. Another analogy depression sufferers make is that they feel like they’re on a balancing act between getting enough air and drowning, and that too is something I can understand. Yes, you feel like nothing and how you’re currently living life that doesn’t make sense because you’re still you, but there’s also something stopping you from being you, but now you’re struggling with days that aren’t that bad and you can take a shower and get a bite, but then there are days where you can’t get out of bed and you’re questioning why you were brought onto this earth, what you are doing now, and how death seems much better than this.

I won’t lie, death seemed much better than struggling between being okay and miserable, but a part of my nondepressive induced thought stopped me from pursuing that option. I was struggling with just having an okay day – the bar was that low where I wanted a single good thing to happen to me like see a friend and not go home and cry – and seeing how I acted around others and their reactions to me made it worst. I wanted these people to see the real me and not just this depressed mind. I cared so much when it shouldn’t have affected me at all. This were my words days that I try not to remember and move forward from each day.

Now back to the ‘always thinking and self-aware’ me. I had a thought about body image and now it’s been a consistent thought. First, it was my thighs and the thought of them being too big in the seams of my jeans. Next, it was my stomach and how my shirt seemed to show some bulge. Then it was my upper arms and how they didn’t appear that thin. It’s something I was always self-conscious about growing up and middle school just made it worst. In the midst of hormones and drama was the time when girls were body negative and always trying to change something about themselves. It was always a hair color or piercing. Then it became a couple inches off the waist or having a couple ribs show. This thought of self-hate and negative body images seemed to affect me too. I didn’t exactly hate myself, but I tried for improvements.

As smart as I thought I was, I realize how stupid I actually was, well actually ignorant. Now recovering, I’m more knowledgeable in losing and maintaining a healthy weight. But back then the only way I thought you could lose weight was binging. Somedays I would eat so much, much more than I wanted, but I would eat everything just so I could puke it all up later and sit on that bathroom floor and feel proud for losing weight. Other days, I wouldn’t eat a thing and go to bed with a hungry stomach. Then some days, I ate normally and didn’t find myself near a toilet or hungry. I did struggle with my body image and myself for these years, but I’m glad it didn’t get worst. I never found myself less than 90 pounds (which is dangerous for me) or bone skinny or in the hospital. I found myself struggling over the years with food, but eventually learned more about being healthy and losing weight.

Now that you’ve heard my story, I want to digress about mental illnesses and its exposure over the years. When I first watched Skins, I thought wow story of my life. I was in the midst of drugs and poor decisions and depression and eating disorder, so not only could I related to Michelle, but also Effy and Cassie and I thought that was nice. However, I didn’t understand how these characters never got the good ending but only got worst and seemingly worst. I knew I was messed up, but in no way did I think I was as bad as Effy – that suffered from depression – who would bash a girl’s head in with a rock or lash out on Pandora. Nor did I think I was as quirky and wondrous as Cassie who suffered from an eating disorder. In my youth, it left me confused about the disorders I did have and how I should be. I mean pop culture is our model for society and watching this television show made me think I had to act as manipulative as Effy and strange as Cassie. Skins allowed personality and mental illness to blur and for knowingly bad actions to be excused by mental illness. As much as I love Effy and the mysterious girl she is, I don’t think her being an awful friend or bashing that girl’s head could be excused so easily by ‘I was depressed and I couldn’t think straight.’ I’ve never thought to be destructive to other people as a part of my depression. In a sense, it only fuels the stereotype that those suffering from mental illnesses are violent and destructive not only to themselves but other people and should be separated to protect others and themselves.

Another show I know that’s gained a lot of attention for its portrayal of mental illnesses is 13 Reasons Why and the feedback it’s getting is tremendous. There is a lot of good in the show showing the self-destructiveness of depression, but there’s a lot of negativity in how destructive depression is and its effect. I think it is great that the show focuses on depression and how it’s not something to romanticize, but I also think the portrayal of how manipulative and selfish a person can be when suffering from depression is unrealistic. Hannah Baker did need help, but I don’t think she can put the blame on other people for her problem. The people surrounding her didn’t give her the help she needed or really the help she wanted and it only led her to be more bitter and helpless. Because of this, it doesn’t make sense to put the responsibility on others for her depression when they couldn’t understand or know how to help her when she knew how depression was affecting her and how she could go against the reactions of her. I don’t understand how she allowed herself to just get worst in person and disorder. Sure some parts were out of control, but she herself was not completely out of control. It takes you first to make that choice of getting better and making a change, not the rest of the world because the world moves too slow. Her depression and the bad things that happened did not excuse her for the conflict she installed in other people in blaming them. If you let every bad thing affect you, you’d never move forward and grow. If you let bad things excuse your poor decisions, then is it really your past or just you yourself responsible? The show had great intention in helping an audience that was stigmatized and often ignored, but the representation could’ve been better in how high schoolers do act – it’s not just passing pictures and not being sensitive to others – and mental illness being an excuse to get back at other people ‘for not helping you’, this kind of representation does not help those suffering from depression and such.

Now the biggest issue that still persists with mental illness is the romanticization. Mental illnesses aren’t a trend you can wear or something that makes you quirky or something used lightly when you get distracted. Mental illness is something that those suffering through wish they didn’t have because they realize how hard it makes living life because they are suffering from it. They only want to get better and struggle through maintaining good days and getting through the bad days. There is not beauty in thinking of nothing or feeling absolutely nothing. There’s only the hope that maybe I can get better. Mental illnesses aren’t beautiful and distort who you are.

And those who wish they were ‘depressed’ or are ‘pro anna’ I wish you could understand the conflict, the confusion, the anger, the stillness, the self-hate, the illness that robs you from being you and living. These illnesses give you a half-lived life. They don’t make you more ‘lovely’ like Cassie would say or any more interesting like Effy or Hannah who suffered from depression. Living with a mental illness is constantly battling about staying alive. Depression fuels those bad thoughts because it’s all you have and eating disorders make your body be a shell instead of functional. None of it is beautiful living half a life and seeing the ‘pro anna’ tag on Tumblr and elsewhere makes me so mad because if I had stumbled upon that when I was maintaining a binge would’ve given me the okay that what I was doing was alright and others were with me on being self-destructive.

How I feel about mental illnesses might make me seem calloused, but as someone who has gone through and killed an eating disorder and someone who does struggle with depression, I want representation that is realistic and gives a good insight to those suffering from it and others. I’m thinking about the younger audiences especially who try to be edgy and exposed; I want them to know that some parts are romanticised for TV ratings and how they feel is validated because they feel it and everyone who suffers from depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anorexia, binging, multiple personality disorder, and the rest have different experiences and should not base it entirely on what they see. How I went through depression and deal with it is a story worth sharing so others can relate but not a story for them to have because I wish no one to go through this pain. I don’t want mental illness to be an excuse or an adjective to describe someone, but I want it to be relatable, I want it to be real, I want the exposure to be validated because others have experienced it and can have their story shared.

I am better and hope never to return to the very first time I got depression because those were the worst days of my life, but I have had my two steps back and didn’t blame others for getting bad again. I know myself and knew how to get better this time and knew when I was in control and when I could cry, but I never blamed others or let myself dwell for a long, long time. I choose to get better and I hope others can make that choice and learn to live better by coinciding with their mental illness than allowing it to live in them. I try to help others by letting them how my story isn’t just a happy ending because I’ve yet to see it, but it is a struggle of being okay and having bad days, but being better than the last. I hope my story helps others and gives light to what depression and binging are when the script isn’t written or actors cast. I try to help others with an open heart and mind and hope others do get the help they need because we all need someone.

middle of the world

After class, I had the notion to drive. I hadn’t taken a drive and I had bought three CDs I wanted to listen to before I went home to study. I put The Black Keys’ Attack & Release on blast, windows down, and started my drive on the backroads. I didn’t plan on driving home. I didn’t want to go home. I never wanted to go home. So I just drove.

I didn’t drive until last year. So when I got my license, I made a promise to myself that I would go on unknown roads and that I would find different ways to get home. This has been satisfying for my crave of adventure and thrill of the unfamiliar while keeping up with my studies. I have found new places to eat and beautiful scenery to gaze upon and think, “Wow.” The equivalent of what I’m doing are like the discoverers of America who would later come back to their motherland with maps of their exploration.  Slowly am I expanding my map with each little drive.

I was thinking where I haven’t explored yet and thought about two locations I kind of knew but still seemed mysterious. I had them in mind and kept driving with ‘Psychotic Girl’ playing in the background. So easily did I drive past my intended destination, but kept going. I still knew the area because I used to go to school here and thought once I reached this old school I would go home to study bio. But once I saw my old school, I just kept driving. I saw other familiar locations and again told myself once I reached this old location I knew I would turn around. I reached the old restaurants I would eat at with friends before band competitions and before Friday Night games. I easily drove past them.

This time I didn’t know where I was going, but it felt right. I still had the Black Keys playing and this ‘keep going’ feeling. Finally, I reached this overlooking ridge that my family would always stop at to gaze at the Appalachian Mountains. I finally pulled over there and thought, “My gosh.” I was nearly two hours away from home and was alone. I got out and looked at the same view my family always did and just felt . . . liberated.

I was always an independent person and to get this far away from everything I know and everyone I know was thrilling. I loved this adventure I wasn’t looking for. I loved the cool air in the midst of hot weather that came too early. I loved how everything was so beautiful right then.

It then hit me, how I could keep driving. I could start anew, something I’ve so desperately craved for. I could get a job and live by myself. I could go forth and never look back. In this moment, where I never looked at my phone, was on my own adventure, independently alone,

In this moment, where I never looked at my phone, was on my own adventure, independently alone, and had a center of peace and joy. . . I was truly me. I was liberated. I was joyous. I was content. And it was so scary. Because in that moment, I would have left without any regret and wouldn’t have thought twice about it at all.

That very thought still lingers onto me like a bittersweet taste and I crave it more each day. I was so bold. I was so free. I was me. I want that unpredictability and thrill. I want to get hurt. I want to laugh. I want to cry as long as it’s genuine, as long as it shows this and this alone is exactly the type of life I should be living. I want that feeling as if I’m in the middle of the world.

 

“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”

John Green

the lull of comfort

Every now and then we take a sigh and look around. We’ve done so much and feel great having accomplished this much. We’ve worked hard and now we’re taking a break. So it’s nice to watch the sunset and it’s nice to drive the backroads.

But it’s also too comforting to live like this. Every time we watch the sunset we lose what once was the greatest beauty we’ve ever seen and the drive of a slower pace becomes a bore once we pass that same gas station and get stuck behind a slow driver. We become bored. We become restless. We continue living with these sunsets and beaten roads.

It’s easy to live like this, but what more can we expect? Tomorrow’s sunset? The same drive home? Admiring our hard work to an accomplishment that’s losing its worth?

Most people stay in this comfort zone. They think they’ve achieved all they could and reward themselves. They then settle for what they already have and fall into this routine, this living of knowing what’s to come instead of anticipation. It’s nice to live like this, as things always were, but what kind of ‘living’ is this?

Humans didn’t stop their endeavors after they reached space. They left footprints on the moon and are looking at landing on Mars. We didn’t stop once we met one achievement; we worked just as hard and continued our progress in this beautiful, opportunistic, chaotic life we were bestowed upon.

Is it hard to go forward and make our path in unknown territory? Of course, it is and it’s scary as hell. But was fear and obstacles going to stop us from living? Well, yes and no, but it shouldn’t. If we never did anything beyond what we already knew and tried new things, we would never be ourselves truly or understand how others live around us.

This isn’t about waiting for the next pink and yellow sunset or racing home on the alternative path. Life is about dancing in rainstorms, getting stuck in traffic, scraping your knees, going to unpopular vacation locations, trying foods you can’t pronounce, and doing things you’ve never imagined yourself doing.

Many people settle and never do anything more than what they allow themselves to do. They’re living within their own comfort zones of barriers so thick from everything else their life could be if they decided to push forth. They live so small with the long years given to them instead of living years within the small time given to them.

It’s different, it’s scary, it’s not easy to live, but it’s all we have and why not do all we can in this life?

the question

I think anyone who is a person of color has been asked this question. I don’t think it’s bad, but it’s how white people ask the question that’s pretty noteworthy of the cringe and awkwardness in asking. There are many different ways they ask, much like the many different flavors of white there actually is. Some of my favorite over the years include:

‘What are you?’

‘So where are you from? Like really from?’

‘What is your origin or your parents?’

If you haven’t figured it out, this question is about race, more specifically ethnicity of the more colored skin toned people. I understand how people are curious, but there needs to be a better way of asking about someone’s ethnicity. It’s so awkward to put into words awkward to hear someone try to ask in a way that won’t offend the person of color. I don’t think it’s such a touchy subject to ask about someone’s ethnicity or race or culture since people are curious, but the wording some people choose to use kill me.

‘Like where are you really from?’

I’m from a small town in North Carolina, even more specifically I came from the womb. I didn’t come from anywhere else or anyplace else for my birth certificate says so. But I get what the person is asking, ‘Where is your culture/heritage from?’ Now, with that question, I would give the answer they wanted and say I’m Filipino and Chinese. To ask where I’m really from would imply that my loyalty remains with this distant, probably romanticized country you’re thinking off than where I’m actually from and demean my status and kind of citizenship of the current country I am from and probably know better because I grew up here. And I’m sure anyone who carries another race in front of the American status – like mine would be Asian American – is just as much American as Abraham Lincoln is and as American as the immigrant who came to here for a better life.

‘Where are your parents from?’

I thought it was funny to be asked this question. To nicely ask my ethnicity by asking about my parents, it’s not that awkward, but it’s a different way of asking. I thought it was a great way of asking about my heritage, but once it goes back to again distant generations I wouldn’t know off it goes back to this romanticized period of my culture than the present and actual culture of my people with asking me instead of past generations. Not only is it going back to this archaic culture that seems out of touch with the current generation, it’s also degrading for your knowledge of who you are to be dismissed and ask more of your parent’s status than an actual acknowledgment of who they are.

‘You don’t look like -insert race-, so what mix are you?’

I’m a mix of mischief, wit, sleep deprivation, and vodka. Because I do not fit your perceived image of a certain race does not mean I am any less of my race and ethnicity. So this brings up this great declaration, not all Asians look alike very much like how all black people do not look alike or how all Hispanics look alike. This generalizes who we are to a limited understanding and perception of culture than the actual diversity and complexity and richness of these marginalized cultures, races, ethnicities. With this generalization of how we should look like, it also infers how you think we act and ought to be than the reality of us as people than this clump of misinformation. Let my Asian self be Asian and nothing less just because I do not share squinty eyes like how you think all Asians share.

This also does not mean I am different ingredients of ethnicities, but rather a hodgepodge. I never understood people were able to describe themselves as 1/8 Cherokee, 1/8 German, 1/4 Irish, and 1/2 French. How are they so precise that you can make a cake out of your race ingredients? I’ve always answered this question as Filipino-Chinese, but never 50/50 because my ethnicity blended into part of my mother’s family being mostly Filipino then marrying Chinese and my father’s side being Chinese, but growing up in the Philippines – this isn’t some teaspoon of Chinese mixed with a cup of Filipino, but it’s a blend that’s not well defined.

Honestly, just ask the question ‘What is your ethnicity?’ This is not offensive and it’s not awkward to put into what you really want to ask and awkward to realize this is the question about to be asked or how you ask the question. Different ethnicities and cultures should be talked about and embraced rather than discouraged, further marginalized, and appropriated because of this ignorance. We’ve become so culturally sensitive towards acknowledging and wanting to learn about others, that we’ve become culturally ignorant. Don’t understand why Asian Americans get mad when you joke about cats and dogs being their food? Don’t understand why African Americans get mad when you wear cornrows or use their slang? Don’t understand why Latino Americans get mad when you dress up in a sombrero and poncho for Halloween? Don’t understand why Native Americans get mad when you wear headdresses and moccasins for fashion? Ask and learn why, ask and learn about their culture, ask and learn to be better aware of ethnicity and the differences in how they live versus yours and how beautiful and meaningful their traditions are just like yours are. People aren’t any more sensitive or can’t take a joke when it comes to their culture or ethnicity because it is something that defines them, they’re most likely pissed that this is the version of their culture/ethnicity that is socially accepted and that who they are is so much more.

So what is your ethnicity? Learn from us. Learn our religion, food, heritage, celebrations, why something holds value to us when you perceive it as something trivial. When we talk, share, educate ourselves, we understand these issues and become richer with this shared culture and knowledge.

 

NYT, CNN, BBC

I find it alarming that the White House banned certain news media from its Friday press conference.

The News isn’t supposed to be articles praising the President’s every move or claiming the President to be the greatest despite actions and policies that are not aligned with ‘greatness.’ The news is supposed to inform the people so they can understand the facts and develop their own opinions and feelings about it. The News is supposed to give different perspectives of events unfolding around them. The News is supposed to be critical, thought-provoking, and honest.

Fake news is not news that does not follow only one perspective or kiss up to a President’s awful policies and careless actions, but it is news that is so distorted to only see the event in one way, a good way that benefits only one person. Fake news is lies being told as truths, such as the 45th Inauguration having the highest attendance and the Bowling Green Massacre, by our government and its officials. Fake news is essentially propaganda blindly leading its people into thinking everything is fine when actually everything is not fine.

Having different news outlets is good because there are details in each story that come from different perspectives. It allows people to get a full understand of policies, events, and ideas. It provides a true democracy of speech and accessibility of the people with its government. The media is unofficially the fourth branch of government and has its power in making the people believe this and allowing them to know this. There is great responsibility in informing people and it depends on many different news outlets to develop their story and share it with others. By blocking some of these news outlets from doing their job, then it is only the people that are suffering at the hands of a tyrannical government. The news should not be allowed for a certain few who agree with you, Mr. President, but everyone who participates in this democracy of ours, and yes, this includes your critics, the 65 million who voted against you, CNN, New York Times, and BBC because democracy is not only limited to the landowning, white male, but to all of us.

green grass and tall trees

img_9010

Let’s just start out with cold, hard facts: the environment matters and global warming exist and is a bigger issue than we recognize it to be.

This is our home. Over the years, we have become like rebellious teens trying to create our rules that benefit only us and only caused conflict with the rest of the household. We have disposed of our trash at our ease out windows while driving onto the side of the road, into our rivers, or just left in the grass and trees because nature will take care of it. This is like piling another dish in the sink when your parents have asked you to do dishes or calling it almost when you throw a piece of trash away but it misses or leaving one dirty shirt on the floor and insisting on picking it up later when it becomes the first dirty shirt of many others.

We are cutting down trees at a faster rate than they can replenish and our actions of burning fossil fuel and completely disregarding our environment as our right to use and exploit its services and goods without accepting consequences in return is just insane to say is not an issue worth discussing or even saying is an issue.

Leaving our responsibility towards others to be the ‘bigger person’ means that we are saying that we have no responsibility for the mess we are creating of our home.

To say that this isn’t a problem because it doesn’t affect me personally is living with blinders on. The degradation of our environment means worst air conditions and water conditions that affect our health and because of this means a heavy medical bill from our pockets. The degradation of our environment affects the food we eat either from ocean acidification affecting our fish products and causing problems with livestock growing with weather irregularities because of the earth trying to heal itself from these problems. The degradation of our environment means that our home will not be able to sustain us and protect us from dangers, but instead make us sick and also hurt us.

The earth is warming up. Not just because of a cycle, but also because of our actions of deforestation, overfishing, burning fossil fuels, mass urbanization, and ignorance of consequences that is causing the earth to warm up and also cause more irregular and severe weather patterns around the world. This shouldn’t be a debate of whether it’s real or not anymore, but action in how to ease our contribution to this problem.

Maybe we have acknowledged this problem, but we haven’t really thought of it. In a first world nation especially it’s easy to think that this doesn’t affect me when we have a job or school and friends to hang out with and that new Giant Big Mac to try out. Our life and routine keep us from truly seeing this problem surrounding us and the world bigger than ours. Sure we pass by litter driving to work, but never really give it much thought but it’s trash. We should recognize that the trash shouldn’t be there and not only does it make the drive to work ugly, but it contributes to the overall pollution problem that will affect our water, air, and soil resources. However, in this first world nation I live in with others, we should be held more responsible with the established political, economic, and social power we have, oh and the knowledge we have of our world and actions. We have the knowledge and resources to look for alternative ways to live that coincides with the environment rather than aggravates it and will provide economically and socially.

As inhabitants of this home, we need to take part in keeping our home livable. We need to be aware of these problems and act towards a solution instead of debate and wait for a disaster to cause us to make us realize that there is a problem. We need to educate others and help them establish their needs rather than let them deplete their resources and further live in squalor. What we do and how we live is connected with everyone and everything else in this home. Let us live harmoniously with each other instead of conflicting with each other. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but we can start now by picking up that dirty shirt or really looking at this world around us.

Lemonade’s Legacy

I applaud Adele for her last acceptance speech in Album of the Year. She recognized how ’25’ was a great album, but it paled in comparison to ‘Lemonade’ in the effect, empowerment, and era to be redefined by.

I remember buying Lemonade as soon as I got money. I had only heard of Formation from the Super Bowl half-time show and was like wow Beyonce has a new album coming out. I honestly didn’t care much for Beyonce before – yet respected her musicianship. But then once the music video came out and the teasers for the visual came out, I just had to buy it and oh boy I was not disappointed.

Lemonade is art. Through its music to the poetry and its picture, my gosh, is it beautiful. I won’t lie the prose before ‘Hold Up’ with the ‘I plugged my menses with pages from the Holy Book’ inspired some of my writing for a while because it was just an inspiration and work of art through everything it was. ‘Sorry’ was another part of Lemonade I thought was just amazing, the look, choreography, and song is amazing. It’s beautiful and just recalling my first time watching it makes me feel speechless.

Then the cultural effect. There are artists who always skim around social issues and politics by vaguely putting their support for LGBT rights, feminism, or black lives matter, but then Beyonce drops Lemonade and reminds us that this is who she is and the issues that not only affect her because of her race and identity but others that look like her. She didn’t skim around politics, but she made it clear that Black Lives Matter and it is empowering to be a woman, and not only that but how seeing ‘black’ also affects the treatment of women. There is a difference between sexist actions towards a white woman and towards a black woman and Beyonce enlightens us about these issues. With her skin and her sex, she declares how she is proud of both and how it empowers her despite what everyone else tells her.

Lemonade empowered the marginalized and those who thought lowly of themselves because they had darker skin and were women. It showed them that they can be bigger and greater than their perceived worth but in their person.

Adele realized and told millions how it was Lemonade that deserved the award because of the impact it had not only with how much it sold and charts, but with her black friends and how they are now empowered and stand up for themselves. An album that can create that kind of impact of power and understanding of racial issues and construct of intersectional sexism deserved the Grammy award for the next ten years.

But you know, it’s not Adele’s fault for having a tremendous talent win against an equally respected and high talent of Beyonce. Adele rejected her Grammy and expressed how it should’ve been Lemonade – I think that’s real feminism of women recognizing each other’s talents and respecting each other in such an honest way and helping each other no matter how famous they are – but hey who made this contest/award show?

It’s surely not Adele. She showed up to be with other great talents and was nominated for a couple awards. It’s not her fault. More than anything it’s the Grammy’s.

Not only do they pick repeats in categories, but they overlook other great musicians due to popularity and maintaining its image. Most performances are of the pop genre and a selected few are like filler performances of the other genres of jazz, rock, and country. It’s not a wide variety being reflected off a music show of the widest range being picked for nominations or does it expose us to what music can be beside the overplayed pop song and classic band arrangement. It’s not about popularity with only showing pop music, but it should be a reflection of music and all its kinds and forms. It should be about exposing jazz music, classical music, indie rock bands, Latino music, R&B, and all the others forgotten.

I now realize that the performers and nominations selected are those that made some kind of noise within that year, not exactly talent. Music connects us all and shouldn’t be treated as only prioritizing those that made the radio station with Ryan Secreast, but those innovators who are changing the game and leaving their legacy.

Very much like Lemonade has.

the greatest show on earth

When I was a kid, I always woke up right away because I was excited about today’s adventure. I remember the sun peering into my room and waking up feeling happy. It’s not always like that anymore, but today carried those same light, happy feelings. Like that childhood innocence, I was able to live much like my younger self by going to the circus.

It’s this certain kind of nostalgia that hits you when you relive your past. There’s a sense of joy because you remember those vibrant memories that impacted your life and there’s a tinge of bittersweet because they aren’t the same memories as your more younger and vulnerable days. This type of nostalgia was especially strong attending the last Ringling Brother’s and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

When the news broke that this would be their last year traveling the country performing acrobats and daredevil stunts, a certain sadness washed over me. I hate endings and am terrible at saying goodbye. I always try to prolong a conversation so I won’t have to say goodbye and part from people I love and warm events I’ve enjoyed. I hadn’t attended the Ringling Bros. circus or even been to a circus since I was 5 years old, but the acknowledgment of an end made me sad. I wanted to watch this show one last time before its end and got the rest of my family to watch with me.

dscn0851

We headed to the Buzz City early morning to catch the 11 o’clock show. It was a beautiful chilly morning with a clear sky. My dad told me he wanted to catch the early show so it wouldn’t be crowded because the Bible Belt population would be attending church than the circus. I thought ‘smart’ and enjoyed the drive with this lazy Sunday morning drive and Arcade Fire playing on the radio.

When we arrived, it was already packed with lots of people who I bet were trying to enjoy The Greatest Show on Earth one last time. When I saw the souvenirs and toys, it made me smile thinking how years ago I used to have one of those light up toys with the spinning top and how happy that toy alone made me.

dscn0761dscn0768

We were lucky enough to get $20 seats and a pretty good view despite being up so high. We could still enjoy the intergalactic entertainment and circus mischief from above. There were ice skaters from different planets zooming around the arena, astronauts from space, trapeze acts from daring heights, clowns that made us smile from silliness rather than afraid of them trying to kill us, fire acts awing us, trained tigers following their trainer’s command, acrobatic acts flying through the air, and two circus masters that travelled the galaxy to find performers to have the greatest show on earth.

dscn0776dscn0792-copydscn0815

For one last time, the show delivered in entertaining. But that nostalgia feeling hit. It was great to be happy like a little kid with the amazing acts and talents you don’t see every day, but it was sad to know this was it and that it wasn’t as thrilling or lively as I remembered it. It was a circus with its continuous odd acts being performed, but it wasn’t the same fulfilling feeling I had like when I first saw it with “oooh’s” and “ahh’s” and confetti at the very end. Maybe it was the lack of elephants that made it less than superb.

After the circus, it was nearly 1:30. We were hungry and in the Buzz City. Unlike the small country town I’m from, we had lots of options to pick from rather than the same McDonald’s and Chili’s choice. We explored uptown for some options and came across some beautiful places. Charlotte is a combination of old brick buildings meet new industrial skyscrapers, and to stitch the past and future are scattered pieces of art across the city. There’s poetry on old brick buildings and there are sculptures along the sidewalk. It’s beautiful when you really look at it. We walked along these artworks while we looked at the Market Square and the garden area nearby. After this little exploration, we finally decided to eat at Grand Asia supermarket for some rice and meat for my family and vegetables for me. My dad got this guava drink and I got jasmine tea that tasted amazing, and that was my highlight of our meal.

It was still early and we were all still very happy with going to the circus and didn’t feel like going home yet. We drove around with the radio loud and windows down going down the freeway. We decided to go to the mall before calling it a day and prepare for the Super Bowl – my dad hopeful for a Falcon win and me for an amazing performance by a queen, Lady Gaga. We walked around joking about the lack of elephants and the farm animals that had replaced them and talked about the differences from our first circus to this last one. We were all happy and enjoying each other with sarcastic jokes and genuine smiles.

It was a very good day. Even at home, we decided to eat together and enjoy the Super Bowl with their anti-Trump commercials and Lady Gaga’s amazing Half-Time performance. It was a bittersweet day going to the circus knowing it was coming to its last spotlight, but it was still able to create vibrant and beautifully warm memories that will entertain and last for years to come.

dscn0853