The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Everyone's On Adderall

Having spent a lot of hours studying and socializing with friends throughout these years, I've noticed how many are on prescription medication. I'm not talking about anti-depressants or allergy medicine, even though there's a fair number of those who are on it as well, but these brain controlling drugs everyone names adder all. It's a major combatant of ADHD, something I've recently found everyone being diagnosed with lately. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder that may severely interfere with one's ability to get the most out of education and work, and it deprives one of maintaining interpersonal relationships, as well as maintaining a positive sense of self.
For someone who suffers from ADHD, and is looking for a solution to fighting this disorder, he or she should definitely look into long term medication of Adderall. This appropriate method showed me how truly effective and harmless this drug really is. But something just can't be right. Medication no matter how perfect, always has a flaw. Your brain will most likely adapt to the medication and before you know it, you have to increase the dosage amount after a few years of usage. What do you become when you suddenly decide to not take the drug anymore? I fear it might change your mood or will to accomplish anything anymore.
I personally believe that ADHD is something that can be controlled without the use of drugs, and something that can be prevented before it spontaneously occurs in your youth. It's a disorder that can be prevented early on by the parent of that child. I feel that parents who promote too many choices for their kid, or spoil them with constant gifts and unnecessary things induce this hyperactivity to their child. Giving them sugar all the time won't help lighten the case either. This is a rather blunt theory, but I just find it strange that just recently there has been this increasing existence of ADHD. I could go to a doctor tomorrow and say, I think I have ADHD, and acquire some Adderall just for the kick of it. I know that I am not alone. In fact, many people have already done so and sold it to others in schools for either academic purposes or just for leisurely activities. Some of my friends take it to help them with their studying or writing their paper. I admit to trying it once for a final and I have to say it has rather impressive effects. I admit that Adderall is an amazing drug, because it almost forces one to complete the goals you want to achieve as soon as it hits you. If I didn't take the pill for that final, I may have not done as well. Then again, I will never really know, because it's only an assumption. If, somehow they could erase all of the adverse effects, even the mild ones, they would have the most powerful, yet harmless, drug on the planet. Unfortunately, science will never trump nature in this form. The human brain is still far beyond reach to the conventional scientist.

- By Mortimer Canepa

Waiting

Passions can elevate a person to the best of their ability, and allow him or her become an honest, and incredibly unique being. However passions remain veiled until you come across them. During my high school years, my mother had asked me, “what are your passions?” and I stood there contemplating and found myself without a true, personal answer. Strangely, the thought never came across to me then and suddenly the little light bulb above my head lit brighter than ever. Suffering a lack of motivation, there was no direct path I felt inclined to take. Instead of taking the road less traveled, I chose the generic, follow your persuasions motto. Although there was failure in finding an honest passion, the school taught me ordinance and brought an astute awareness of subjects which opened up possible directions.
College brought me the opportunity to discover what I may have truly enjoyed. Although always enjoying stories and writing, my English writing was weak amongst others. It is true that the English language is my third language but I have been a part of this country far too long to use that as excuse. The first semester was a chance to have a bright new beginning but I still had an unclear view on my passions. Fearful that my writings would further be panned by professors, English was not amongst the favorite of subjects in the beginning. However, I embraced the stories given in class and my responses and my overall writing was embraced rather quickly. Shocked by this occurrence, I felt inclined to believe that maybe the teacher was light on students. How could I have gone from mediocrity to actually being credible. Maybe deep down I was passionate about writing and should consider it as a possible major. After changing my intended major to English I immediately began to doubt it. However, many of my classes have been thoroughly engaging and provocative. Despite how interesting many of the subjects were, I can't tell you how many nights I spent glaring at the computer for a few minutes after just typing the heading. I would patiently stare at the silent blinking line waiting for me on the barren white page. Those first set of words always manage to remain distant from your thoughts until it suddenly finally arrives. I'd also always commit psychological suicide after deliberately waiting to write that long research paper at the last minute. Why do we do this to ourselves? I have learned that confidence is the only slayer of procrastination. The only reason we never want to face the assignment is because we're afraid to do poorly on it. Each day wasted makes each word and phrase weaker than it could have been and once you realize it, you don't ever want to make that mistake again. But it creeps back every time only because you let yourself do it. This last year, with a few exceptions, I've managed to not burden myself with last minute assignments. Counting down the hours, power naps, and using that library for the next nine hours straight, is one hell of an experience, and certainly gives you a great rush once you've completed. In the long run it will itch you when you knew a better paper or exam could've been accomplished, only because you were passionate about it to begin with.

Not an Ordinary Concert


r Canepa
Blog 6

Two weeks ago, I was unsure whether or not I should attend Coachella. After reading Sean’s celebratory blog on the same event, recognizing some of the great artists performing, I knew I couldn’t miss it. I have grown into a very avid listener, always picking up the new synths from electronic artists and unique notes and strokes from the bands. My eclectic ear has an insufferable desire to listen to music at any time.
As you know from my previous statements, I am a newcomer to this event, but after experiencing two consecutive years, I feel that it’s going to become a ritual. I actually prepared for this event far in advance when it was still 2010. To be honest, the fact that you need more time to plan Coachella than you would a Christmas vacation is absolutely preposterous. I had no idea there were so many nut heads out there that cared about this event as deeply, or more so, as I did. I remember my friend calling me in November of 2010, asking me if I booked my rooms for Coachella. I remained silent on the phone, and thought to myself, “is she serious?” I immediately thought she was a crazy fool for taking it so seriously. It’s as if it’s some religious gathering of hipsters and wanna be hippies. Needless to say, she convinced me to look into reservations. Her frantic voice made it seem like I had to reserve right away or else I’d be sorry. All was set, and the only thing left was to purchase the ticket, which was yet to be released. Also, I didn’t even know who was going to perform! I was certain it was going to be good after listening to all the rumors from my boss at Capitol Records. Only five days after the tickets were released, the show was already sold out and the sad thing is, even after all the reservations, I did not get that ticket in time. I knew that someone somewhere, would decide not to go, and worst case, I’d pay a few dollars more for the pass. I wasn’t really worried. However, Honestly though companies who decide to buy thousands of tickets, and sell them at a much higher price, are total bastards. Another great win for free market society. Months passed and day after day I lost my desire to even go to Coachella. About two weeks prior to the weekend of epic proportions, I completely lost my desire and will to go, not to mention, find a ticket still.
On Friday, April 15, 2011 at 4:30PM, oh and by the way, I still went to class on Friday because I’m a boss like that, I was en route 10 heading to Indio Valley. Long story short, I went just to see a girl. But who am I kidding? I wanted to see the bands! I arrived in Palm Springs, showered, changed, made sure to not forget my deodorant, very crucial not to forget that deodorant, and headed to bliss. I felt like a child who had just discovered Disneyland. Watching the glowing Ferris wheel from afar in Coachella was like witnessing an amusement park as a toddler. As soon as I entered, the vivacious sounds jittered through my veins like a pack of red bulls before a final exam. Before I knew it, it was already Sunday. What happened between Friday and Sunday, I still can’t quite fully comprehend.

By Mortimer Canepa



Two weeks ago, I was unsure whether or not I should attend Coachella. After reading Sean’s celebratory blog on the same event, recognizing some of the great artists performing, I knew I couldn’t miss it. I have grown into a very avid listener, always picking up the new synths from electronic artists and unique notes and strokes from the bands. My eclectic ear has an insufferable desire to listen to music at any time.
As you know from my previous statements, I am a newcomer to this event, but after experiencing two consecutive years, I feel that it’s going to become a ritual. I actually prepared for this event far in advance when it was still 2010. To be honest, the fact that you need more time to plan Coachella than you would a Christmas vacation is absolutely preposterous. I had no idea there were so many nut heads out there that cared about this event as deeply, or more so, as I did. I remember my friend calling me in November of 2010, asking me if I booked my rooms for Coachella. I remained silent on the phone, and thought to myself, “is she serious?” I immediately thought she was a crazy fool for taking it so seriously. It’s as if it’s some religious gathering of hipsters and wanna be hippies. Needless to say, she convinced me to look into reservations. Her frantic voice made it seem like I had to reserve right away or else I’d be sorry. All was set, and the only thing left was to purchase the ticket, which was yet to be released. Also, I didn’t even know who was going to perform! I was certain it was going to be good after listening to all the rumors from my boss at Capitol Records. Only five days after the tickets were released, the show was already sold out and the sad thing is, even after all the reservations, I did not get that ticket in time. I knew that someone somewhere, would decide not to go, and worst case, I’d pay a few dollars more for the pass. I wasn’t really worried. However, Honestly though companies who decide to buy thousands of tickets, and sell them at a much higher price, are total bastards. Another great win for free market society. Months passed and day after day I lost my desire to even go to Coachella. About two weeks prior to the weekend of epic proportions, I completely lost my desire and will to go, not to mention, find a ticket still.
On Friday, April 15, 2011 at 4:30PM, oh and by the way, I still went to class on Friday because I’m a boss like that, I was en route 10 heading to Indio Valley. Long story short, I went just to see a girl. But who am I kidding? I wanted to see the bands! I arrived in Palm Springs, showered, changed, made sure to not forget my deodorant, very crucial not to forget that deodorant, and headed to bliss. I felt like a child who had just discovered Disneyland. Watching the glowing Ferris wheel from afar in Coachella was like witnessing an amusement park as a toddler. As soon as I entered, the vivacious sounds jittered through my veins like a pack of red bulls before a final exam. Before I knew it, it was already Sunday. What happened between Friday and Sunday, I still can’t quite fully comprehend.

-Mortimer Canepa

Strange Encounters of the Good Kind


By Jordan Bunger

A journal I wrote about a day trip I took to Amsterdam during the fall of 2010 while studying abroad in Germany:

I’ve been returning to a strange area of my mind, thought left behind in recent months of growth. I met this girl named Sofya at a head shop, just wandering round the city of Amsterdam, nothing to do, missed the last train to take me home, waiting in limbo until the 7 AM. I told her I was looking at prices of certain products in the shop, not intending to purchase, but she sensed the Westerner in me and bluntly asked, “Canada or US?”. That was all I needed. Took it from there, she ended up sharing her journey with me, a 20 year old girl from Berkeley, CA, only an hour’s drive north of my hometown. Came to Amsterdam with her family, Dutch folks, and now living on her own in the city, working, partying, then repeating. She’s living how any 20-30 year old would in the US, she decided to post up in Amsterdam though. An adventurous girl, obviously, but a little nervous at first, shy in a way I’m familiar with. She was easy to talk to, sharing her journey with a total stranger only 20 minutes after meeting. Her shyness lay in her speech and the way she would uncontrollably fidget with irrelevant items in the shop, following a laugh or a smile from me.
She was edgy, 20 years old, working in a head shop in the pot capital of the world, fun loving, enjoying her youth the way I feel I’m beginning to let slip. Meeting the Sofya’s of the world is tough for me sometimes. I’ve always fought this crippling envy of others, jealous of the way people live their lives, comparing theirs to mine, feelings of personal inadequacy, of hopelessness, and the compounding ugliness crippling my thoughts and actions. I’m rendered into a state of immobility, furthering the illusory gap between myself and my peers. This understanding [of how I measure my own success by comparing it with my personal interpretation of the success of another] has helped me see the negativity of such thinking. While these deliberations were more relevant, this envious nature has been a part of me for so long, and it’s tough to kick the habit. I see it every day, I watch myself while I commit the sin, then condemn my thoughts; it’s an odd cycle.
I must’ve done something right, for Sofya invited me out after she closed up shop. In my situation, I jumped [maybe too eagerly, but it’s not too eager if I really wanted it right?] at the chance to go out with the locals and shorten what would be a cold and lonely night at the train station. Walking to The Winston, her favorite bar, the usual hangout, side by side with Sofya, my nerves were sending weird singles up top. I guess I got nervous, the transfer from one friend to a group is tough for me. Sofya and I got along so well at the shop, but as we walked, I began to play my introverted role, a different character that comes out in such times, and very peculiar to the untrained eyes; and hers were far untrained. The guy she’d met only an hour before was slowly dawning a mask that would leave his face nearly unrecognizable by the end of the night.
It was a fear that I was capable of spending the night with this girl that got me. She sent me signals. Her friends, Nicole and Tamara, giggled as Sofya spoke and cast suggestive glances in my direction. Love was in the air as they say. In such a community, as Sofya led me to believe, “if you make out with anyone tonight, you’ll probably have shared saliva with everyone in this room”. Unknown to me before my encounter with this girl, Amsterdam was not just a day trip destination on a youthful excursion through Europe, but a mini community of travelers had sought refuge in this city. They were all under the age of 25, an obnoxious Aussie accent heard from across two tables away originated in a little island near Fiji, Nicole was a cross breed of Thai and European, Tamara, a lovely personality from Orange County, CA, and Sofya a Dutch girl from Berkeley, CA, returning to her homeland. Their stories were so interesting on their own, made grand by the bizarre similarities to the crew in Torremolinos.

Find your balance


By Jordan Bunger

When you have no one to turn to, you look within. And for me, I’ve always been an independently minded person, never becoming too dependent on any one person aside from myself. Especially at LMU, my time here has been anything but easy with regards to socializing with others. And so, independence arose out of having not one but myself to rely on. As Michener narrates the story of Joe after the incident at the peace rally in his book The Drifters, he says, “Joe stayed alone in the dormitory grappling with a slowly developing conviction. Customarily such painful assessment comes to a man in his late forties...but for Joe's generation the time of reappraisal came early, and he faced his alone” (18). When you become your only contact, spending the hours alone becomes the only reality you know, while painful, you must embrace for survival. You look within for answers to why. It comes from a disillusionment with everything you once accepted as true in your life. Cynicism takes hold, where at one time, blissfully ignorant optimism stood. You’re forced to resort to any and all measures of dealing with this bitter situation, drugs, alcohol, music, philosophy, literature, religion. From this, I came to an illusory conclusion, that my literal survival as a human being was desperately dependent on independence.
At the time, I had no clue just how wrong I was about this. Had I seen it earlier, I could have saved myself a lot of pain. But in time, I began embracing the idea of openly expressing and asking questions from those I looked up to. When only a year before, I took it upon myself to solve any and all problems that came up in my life, now, within the last few months, I’ve begun to share my life with others instead of keeping it all introverted. It's exciting, yet, as new experiences often are, frightful. While in Spain, Britta undergoes emotional ups and downs much like those I've come accustomed to feeling, her high of dreaming to one day be in Spain and actually living out that dream, to the lows of hopelessness when everything seems bleak, “The remainder of that Sunday...was one Britta would never forget, a compound of hope and anxiety” (85). While my past is full of introspective evaluation, I’ve slowly been breaking through the bubble I used to occupy and letting others into my world. It's an exciting time in my life right now, exploring new possibilities for myself every single day, but those images of the past never cease to leave me alone. During that phase of independence, I constantly battled with a negative self-image and felt I was the only person in the world who felt this way about himself. My level of introversion was so extreme; I couldn’t relate to others and so thought, how could anyone relate to me? But the biggest breakthrough came when I began to open up and found that people I envied, for their openness, free expression, positive self-image, had battled with the same thoughts that had plagued me for so long. And as my comfort level grew and now continues to grow, I find myself more and more dependent on others, all the while never forgetting the survival skill of independence. And I hope I always cling on to remnants of what used to be, keeping mind how far I’ve come.

You and me...we're not so different


By Jordan Bunger

In a return to a forgotten issue that still has yet to be resolved, I bring you an investigative report into the two clashing sides of the same-sex marriage conflict in California. For this report, I was lucky enough to be able to receive interviews with the lovely Father Thomas, of the True Church of Christ, and activist, Janet Garrison, both providing solid perspectives from their own points of view.
Always remember, two perspectives are better than one:

Vote Yes!
Father Thomas
Self proclaimed messenger of the Good Word

I will not stand by and let these…these ruthless sinners be given the opportunity to partake in the sacred act of marriage. The Bible tells me that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman and God knows I am a faithful believer. He gave us the gift of life so that we may reproduce and spread the Good Word unto others. We at the True Church of Christ recently donated $2 Million to the campaign in support of Prop 8. The collection was originally meant to be given to the children’s hospital down the road, but in spite of recent liberal support for same sex marriage, we felt the money should go to a more important cause. I mean seriously people, think about our children and how this will affect their everyday lives. If they are taught in schools that gay marriage is to be accepted, then who knows what will come next. They may start questioning why minorities are treated as inferior or why Father Thomas wanted to play Twister with no clothes on. Do you want to be the one to have to answer these potential questions? I sure as hell don’t. Vote Yes! on Proposition 8 to keep our children safe and further segregate ourselves from the disgusting immorality of the homosexual culture.

Vote No!
Janet Garrison
Hates men and recently swore them off for the foreseeable future

The supporters of Prop 8, if I can put it simply, are Republicans. All they do is tell lies to the American people. Every television, newspaper, and internet advertisement supporting Prop 8 is totally untrue and should be disregarded as Fascist propaganda. I have come to this conclusion because I am positive the vast right wing conspiracy is behind this prospective law. They want to strip us of our basic human rights, excluding us from a sacred ritual that has long been reserved for those with body parts that harmoniously connect with one another. Sure, we homosexual couples may lack a certain reproductive organ that enables childbirth and, yes, we enjoy rear entry and scissoring, but these are merely side notes in the grand scheme of things. We are unsatisfied with just being labeled as ‘domestic partners’ and wish to enter into the loathsome abyss that has come to define marriage in the twenty-first century. Hundreds of thousands of Californian’s are unhappy with their current marital situation and we feel left out of this oh so joyous experience. Voting No! on Prop 8 will give us the false conception that we are no different than heterosexual spouses and enable us to suffer alongside you in a seemingly blissful state of matrimony.

Safety First



An investigative report conducted by Jordan Bunger

“We must cut down the expansive fields of anarchy that appear to run rampant in this institution!” were the first words to leave the mouth of police chief, Officer Cantrell, in his pregame pep talk to the Public Safety crew last Friday night. Many hot topic issues were discussed such as underage drinking, robberies at knifepoint, scare tactics, and most importantly the ever expanding marijuana dilemma. The meeting was set up as an open forum with officers chiming in left and right with what they believed would be the most effective solution to counteract these troubles. Many of the suggestions were very well thought out with one officer proposing his brother, a well known meth dealer on the east side of Lawndale, be given permission to set up shop three times a week on the field above Drollinger Parking Plaza in order to fight the consumption of marijuana on campus. While this seemed a fairly reasonable plan, it received mixed reviews from the rest of the force. A couple more ideas were heard and simultaneously shot down before Cantrell revealed his ingenious anti-cannabis resolution: “When approaching a room spewing the foul odor of cannabis, prepare yourselves for the worst. These potheads, dopers, hippies, and fiends are vicious human beings- known to tear limbs from perfectly innocent virgins, commandeer motorized scooters from the elderly and handicapped, steal change from the vagrant, and even give the finger to school children. Use full force when desired, they will not back down when confronted so why should you? An especially rebellious individual may require a spritz of mace, and if the unwarranted solemn behavior continues, a taze or two to the abdomen should knock him/her into submission for a long enough time to go about your righteous duties. These are extremely useful techniques, but we must always prepare for the dreaded worst case scenario: a stoner who is uncannily apathetic to the previous two methods of enforcing justice. If the individual has a high tolerance for mace in addition to showing merely a slight reaction to the minimum of two tazer shots all the while trying desperately not to miss a waking moment of Space Ghost, then if you feel so inclined, you may unload that .38 Magnum stuffed secretly in the depths of your uniform to his/her outer thigh. 99.9% of the time, this will ensure your safety and the safety of those nearby from the sickeningly apathetic maniac calmly sitting across from you.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A letter to Pleiku, Vietnam:


The truth is you will never read this. You will never read this for two simple reasons: (1) I don’t speak or write in Vietnamese and (2) you haven’t learned to read much English yet, aside from the two or three words and phrases you, for some reason, remember most from our classes (hello; ball; and ‘it is a book’).

So no, today you can’t read this but you might be able to someday, given that you keep up your English schooling and practice as often as you can. I want you to learn, I really do, but you will never know how difficult this experience has been for me on a moral level. As I walk into your classroom everyday, all 20 of you wide-eyed and mischievous, only ten years old but ready to take on the world, my heart does something weird and almost inexplicable. I lose my breath. Not only because 20 of the most beautiful and challenging little humans I have ever encountered surround me in wobbly desks but also because I am holding something profound in my hands: an English book. This book, keeper of the world’s most dominant language, is “gold,” as the Vietnamese nuns we are staying with tell me. They say it is the key to your future; I see that it’s also the knife that is slowly cutting the threads that bind you to your mother tongue: J’rai. Every time we celebrate your ability to memorize a new word and use it in a sentence, I feel a hurricane of happiness because I am so proud of you… but it never comes without the eye: the sadness and guilt. At only ten years old you are so far from your native culture and family, away in a world where you feel condemnation for your culture and skin color. Your brain is plastic, stretching and expanding with everything you learn, but at the same time expelling your neglected mother tongue with your culture inherently wrapped up in it.

I want to tell you not to neglect this but to nurture it instead. The thing is this: you don’t have control. But I do; I have a little control. So in class we drew pictures of our families and wrote “mother” and “father” below their colorful, stick figure bodies. What the nuns don’t know is that we also wrote “amĭ” and “ama” below the stick figures: “mother” and “father” in Jarai.

You wanted Western culture: break dancing and beat-boxing lessons and the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance.” I was more than happy to share that with you. So we danced during breaks and I beatboxed while you windmilled, freezeframed, and spun on your heads. But after classes you would teach me traditional Jarai dances. You sang and whistled the tune and brought me down to my knees so that you could stand above me and guide my arms around in the wake of yours.

I try to embrace yours but it just keeps coming back to mine. My Western culture.

Another truth for you is that I don’t know how to finish this letter. There is so much to say to you… yet you will not read this. Should I finish it even though you cannot read it? Does it matter?

All I can say is that when you ask me in your broken English if I’ll be back someday and I tell you yes, that I desperately want come back to see you and that I will try my hardest, I really do mean it. I mean it from the very depths of me.

But as we say goodbye and I get in the van and watch you grow smaller and smaller, dust in your faces as you wave your little hands, my breath again leaves me. And a hot tear drips down my face and onto the calla lily you gave me that now sits in my lap.

Just know this: I really did mean it.


Mallory Massie

The Shops at Fashion District

Although I may hate to admit it, I am a stereotypical girl when it comes to shopping. So when my parents were coming to visit and they told me they wanted to take me shopping, I couldn’t say no. I imagined spending the day with the family at the nearby mall, or even stores like TJMaxx or Khol’s. But when they told me they wanted to go to an area they’ve heard about called, “the Fashion District,” I was a little less than excited.

My mind was now filled with dirty streets and people who followed suit. We’d get pick pocketed or robbed or kidnapped. No one would know where to find us. I tried to persuade them this wasn’t the place to go, but they weren’t budging. They were going to go, with or without me. My closet was begging for new residents and there was no real reason that was holding me back from going. We hopped into the rented SUV and the Griswolds headed downtown.

Our first adventure was finding parking. The streets were packed with cars and our last resort was to pay for a parking lot. As our car climbed up the steep hill to the top of a building, we came to a lot crowded with so many cars they were double parked. Then I got nervous. That means we have to leave the keys to our car, what if they steal it? The sign read “Not responsible for any lost or stolen items,” did that include the vehicle itself? My mind calmed when I looked around to see a Bentley and a few Mercedes parked on the other side of the lot. If they trusted their precious cars at a parking lot like this, then maybe I didn’t have anything to worry about.

We left the keys with the attendant and began our four hours of shopping. Contrary to my belief, the streets weren’t as dirty as I’d once imagined. Neither were the people, who we stood out from. There we were, five of us, white, the majority blonde haired, hazel eyed, walking down the sidewalks trying to look like we belonged. It was quite obvious we didn’t, but none of us cared. The first store we went into was loaded with purses, just what I needed. And to my surprise, and to my parents’ pleasure, I was the first one of us to buy something. “See, we told you that you’d like it here.”

They weren’t shy about showing off their amusement as the day went on, and as I continued to purchase two pairs of jeans, a pair of boots and a shirt. Then, my bladder kicked in. I’ve been known to ruin a trip because I am in need of a restroom. My little brother heard me exclaim that I needed to go, which triggered his bladder. A frustrated father walked us into a store where we asked the directions to the closest bathroom. “Upstairs on the roof,” was what we were told. Little did we know that meant climbing five flights of stairs to an unkempt bathroom in which you have to pay fifty cents in order to use. Well, at least I can say I’ve had to pay to pee?

Needless to say, we had an entertaining day. No one stole from us, we bartered our way to better prices, and we left in our rented SUV with our new goodies in hand. And much to my dismay, I have even gone back a time or two, or five, with my friends. If you haven’t been, I suggest you go. It’s a journey you’ll never forget, or regret.

--Jackie DiBiase

haze


Los Angeles’ head is a bit fuzzy. It affects us all. From the lungs spew the smoke. And the addiction has passed to me, secondhand. I drink the sulfur and breathe the filter. Because it revitalizes me. I question why I do it. Every drag in makes the out that much harder. But it’s the questioning that moves me.

As I watch the sky shade from blue, to orange—the atomic descent—to pink, to purple, and the wonderful in-betweens that linger longer than the primary impression, night falls upon California’s chameleon city. First noticeable is the expanse of midrange building—cookie cutters from Hells Kitchen—that trick the eye into the monotonous maze of Sin’s suburb. This sprawl goes on for as long as the eye can see—correction, for as long as the eye is allowed to see. The margins become lost in the mist. This mist—or fog, smoke, haze—is untouchable, yet a part of us. It has permeated the city’s conscious, instilling the reality of a surface life. Looks to the horizon find a limited perspective, a 10 mile radius at best to asses the depth of this land. We fear what we can’t see. We fear the world outside our bubble. So we restrict depth perception. We view people for whether they model clothes or simply wear them; whether they get from point A to B or arrive in style; if their cash rolls or bounces; if their skin screams appeal, or just the first peel. The surface is a beautiful thing, for awhile. Then we become acclimated. From there, one can settle, or one digs deeper. I see you, shrouded, outlined, and willing to be defined. Your Otherness I shall conquer.

The initial ascent provides the means for uncovering what was always available yet constantly obscured. Hike the nearest mountain—you see the clouded seismograph stretching the margin—and observe the wishing well perspective that suspension grants. Look, the ants at my feet are you. Miles above sea-level these ants mimic your city life, and I really see no difference. What happens in the space between? Is that where the excess lies? Our pollutants crowd the air we cannot occupy, warping what was there with what we wish and wait for. Not east of Eden, or south or north, but above and below. The personal Eden is where we shall dwell. I would feel trapped by these barrenous mountains if I didn’t know how to climb them. But in actuality, it is us who have done the trapping. A civil detonation, pushing Nature’s limits back into nothing. The devolution of the natural evolves the artificial. It’s a yin-yang. Nothing is infinite until you realize it is everything. Back to the ants, which are no smaller than we, as we are dust on this planet, that is a rock in orbit, of which neighbors everything, trapped in nothing.


--Weston Finfer

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

That picture still burns in my mind. That beautiful day before heading to the beach, a quick check of my Facebook made me second guess everything I had been feeling. Only three days before, he had called to tell me he still loved me, he wanted to get back together. I thought it was a lapse in judgment, a normal breakdown that came a few months after our break up. It wouldn’t be until that following summer that I would find out my answer pained him in a way I never thought I could. “No” was all I had the courage to tell him, for if I let my heard truly speak, I was afraid of what it’d say.

It was only a few short days later that he had his arm hung around a pretty girl’s neck, smiles upon their two faces that I not so secretly wished I could wipe away. I was in a state of shock the moment I saw those pictures on Facebook, and when I returned to them hours later, it finally hit me. He was moving on from a relationship he had wanted back merely three days before. It was unbelievable to me, because for three years, I had him wrapped around my finger – longing for me – and one word had changed his mind.

A month went by, we didn’t speak. His birthday came and went, I wished him my best. But then came my worst. A friend who attended his birthday celebration thought she’d make me feel better by slyly snapping a picture of his new girl on her phone and send it to me with a caption that read, “She’s so trashy, she wears a bump-it.”
Sitting at the Loft, at a table with friends, surrounded by strangers, my tears uncontrollably began to fall. I didn’t want to believe he was happy spending his day with her – thoughts raced through my head about their relationship, their intimacy, their secrets. I had never been more jealous. I had never been more vulnerable.

Hours later, as my friends tried to drown my emotions in Pinot Grigio, I wondered why I was still in so much pain while he was happy. The only answer I could come up with – he was able to move on while I was stuck there wanting something that was no longer mine. My attempts to find someone new were few and far between, and I made a discovery that day that each individual’s ability to move on had its own pace, and I hadn’t truly begun my journey. I was still at the starting line because I was holding onto something that I couldn’t get the nerve to let go of, maybe because I knew he was exactly what I wanted. Nevertheless, it took me accepting the fact that he was someone else’s to be able to finally begin my healing process.

--Jackie DiBiase

Uninhibited (A Poem)

I am the daughter of my mother.
I react with a smile.
I draw attention with a laugh.
I glow with an uninhibited positive attitude.

I am a strong woman.
I work with a diligence.
I own it with great confidence.
I talk with an uninhibited sharp tongue.

I am an independent.
I walk with my head held high.
I learn with an endless mind.
I love with an uninhibited open heart.

--Jackie DiBiase

A Letter to All the Father's Out There


Dad,

I was born a daddy’s girl. I can imagine myself as a baby wanting only to be held by you. As I grew up, you surrounded me with a protection that inevitably bonds us. I noticed as a little girl that you weren’t always around, and I missed your presences in the house. Nonetheless, you’ve supported me through my best times and my worst, and for that I will always be grateful.

You have this way about you, the confidence to say what is on your mind, the bluntness of your spoken thoughts. Growing up, I was embarrassed, yelling at you to stop. Sometimes you would laugh at my clear sense of shame that brought a red hue to my cheeks, but at other times, you would continue despite my begging and pleading.
The thought never crossed my mind, as a young girl sitting in the middle of a restaurant covering my eyes as you spoke, that I would become you. Your characteristics, both internal and external have been passed down to me whether I like it or not.

And this is the part where you get to gloat. You always do when you are right. But I can’t do anything about it except sit here and thank you. Growing up around someone as outspoken as you has made me a confident young woman. I have turned into someone who doesn’t care if the person next to me looks at me through judgmental eyes. I don’t sugar coat my thoughts, they come to my tongue uninhibited by self-consciousness.

Because of you, I will never be afraid to raise my hand. Because of you, I will walk with a stride that tells people “I won’t take your crap.” Because of you, I have become an independent woman who doesn’t need to look to someone else to do my dirty work. I believe that being raised by a man who isn’t afraid of being rejected has made me the strong, powerful woman I am today.

I thank you for being the way you are, for allowing me to become the way I am.

Forever yours,

Your daughter

--Jackie DiBiase

Not a Resident


“Have you seen any celebrities?” “How often do you eat here?” “Do you think it’s funny when you see tour buses touring your city?” As he sloppily eats his double double, occasionally taking a break to pick at his messy animal style fries, my little brother sits wide-eyed waiting for me to tell him an amazing story about living in L.A. Come August, he will too be yet another DiBiase to join the LMU community, and as you can tell, he could not be more excited to start his life here. I answer the questions, much to his dismay, anti-climatically.

In the four years that I have lived here, I have found that my life might not have turned out the way I envisioned it my senior year of high school. I remember being like my brother Tim, waiting to start my college career in an entertainment-based city, reading my People magazines at work to stay up on my celebrity gossip so when I saw them walking around, I wouldn’t be as star-struck. Lo and behold, after four years, I can’t say that I’ve had one celebrity spotting. And honestly, I’m not too disappointed by it. My mindset has changed in the time I’ve been here, I’ve become less intrigued by the lives of strangers and more so with my own.

Only visited when I have out of state visitors, In N Out has not become a staple for me. Because of its limited audience, many Coloradoans feel they must eat In N Out at least once when they are in California. I understand why; people think the food is fresh, the restaurants are classic, and it is a specialty to three Western states. But to me, I don’t eat fast food, I think their fries are too fresh (imagine that), and well, forgive me for saying this, but it’s just a burger and fries.

His last question is the one that I struggled with the most. While I do think it’s comical how when I drive down Lincoln, I pass by L.A. Tour buses, I can’t say that it’s my city, or my state. I drive a car with Colorado plates, my Colorado license gets double checked every time I go to a bar, and as I have recently just filed, I pay taxes in Colorado. It wasn’t that I struggled to answer the question, but internally, I found myself wondering why after four years, I never became a true California resident. I always blamed it on the fact that for so long I didn’t have a car, and when I did buy one, it was in Colorado. Since I had registered it there, it would have cost too much to buy all new plates, and well I was broke. Not only that, but I’ve heard California makes it hard for out-of-staters to become residents. Even after all of these excuses, I still question if those were the reasons. In my mind, and in my heart, I believe I didn’t become a California resident because I knew that it was not where I wanted to end up. I didn’t want to put myself through the process of changing everything to only then change it back.

It’s not that I will be going back to Colorado for good, but I know now that I won’t be staying in California either. A part of me wishes that at some point, I will long to be back in southern California, for the winter days that I could enjoy an outdoor run in my shorts, for the beach, for the culture. But I will only know this if I leave, if I give myself a chance to miss what I might lose. As we walked to my car, he looked at me and sincerely asked me, “You do enjoy living here though right?” The way he asked made me feel like he was begging for the right answer, the one that reassured him he was making a good choice to come to school here. “Yeah, I just can’t believe it’s almost over.”



--Jackie DiBiase

The Drivers Get to Me Here


Having lived in Colorado for the majority of my life, I was taught at a young age that there is no such thing as a stranger. Although a big city, my mom has repeatedly told me stories that end in, “what a small world.” Something as simple as talking to the check-out lady at a grocery store could end in an outlandish connection she has with one of your good friends. And week after week, you see this same lady and your relationship blossoms. The way people interact in Colorado was one of the hardest things to leave behind, because the minute you say hello to a stranger in Los Angeles, they give you that look of confusion that has a way of saying “why are you talking to me?,” that makes me homesick for friendliness.

Moving to Los Angeles, I knew it had its perks, but one of the major drawbacks and annoyances is its traffic. Unless I’m in a rush to get somewhere, I don’t mind sitting in my car looking like a crazy person as I sing aloud to myself. Having someone in the passenger seat makes the ride even more entertaining. It is a time for conversations that people may otherwise be too busy to have. The concept of being an “L.A. driver” is something my roommate and I have discussed at large, and have come to the conclusion that after four years of living here, we too have developed the tendency to drive with a lead foot and a selfish approach.

The use of horns and middle fingers are not uncommon among the cars that crowd the highways and main streets. When someone makes a mistake, it won’t go unnoticed. They are made ashamed of their traffic faux pas and either learn to never do it again or be humiliated once more the next time it happens. When it’s time for me to exit off the 405, I put on my blinker a mile beforehand, hoping that someone will see it and let me slowly make my way over to the far right lane. Every time someone decides to keep their foot on the brake instead of accelerating six feet ahead, I do something most Californian’s don’t seem to know exists. I put up a hand, but not in a gesture that exudes rage. Rather, I give off a simple wave as a way to say “thank you for driving like a normal person should.”

Friends from Colorado recently came to visit me and one in particular noticed that I had fallen into some of the aloof habits that most Los Angelinos are known for. While downtown, I simply ignored a man’s plea for money, instead of explaining to him “I don’t have any right now.” Being that he stayed in Colorado for college, my friend was perturbed by the fact that four years ago, I would have once provided that man at least some words of justification. It had never occurred to me before that I had picked up on the cold patterns I hated so much when I first moved here. Looking back on it, I found that when I make my weekly visits to the neighborhood grocery store, I still have the same tendency to smile and ask how their day is going. But when a stranger talks to me, instead of getting a feeling of ease, I am more reserved, and well, creeped out. I don’t know whether to associate this with the fact that it is a bigger, stranger city than I am used to, or that I have lost that friendliness I was once homesick for.

When driving back from downtown, I made my way through traffic and waved at a particular person who helped me exit on time. That wave did not go unnoticed. My friend looked at me and said, “Well, at least some things haven’t changed.” I am always happy to see when strangers gesture a “thank you” wave to me as I let them in my lane. If I were to keep track of the few that have, I would say the majority of them were cars with out of state license plates. Apparently, the signal of friendliness was not taught to those who grew up in Los Angeles. Hopefully, I can help change their ways, one wave at a time.

--Jackie DiBiase

A Teen Epidemic

Trends come and go. Some fads can be based around fashion. Introduced in the 90s were the grunge look, the baggy clothes, and the platform shoes. With the 2000s came the popped collars, the UGG boots, and trucker hats. If you are at all like me, you are shaking your head in disbelief of how these styles were once considered “cool.” Diving deeper into trends, you can find layers that involve media consumption, music, books, video games, things that were “all the rage” for a short period of time. I myself have been the follower of some unfortunate fads, as has just about everyone else who is reading this. There is one specific fad that I did not follow, a trend I hope dies out faster than parachute pants.

When walking through malls or going to the movies in high school, if I were to ever catch a glimpse of a pregnant teen, my first thought would be uncertainty. How could this young girl be pregnant? On this rare occasion, I would turn my thoughts to sympathy, knowing that whether or not she is keeping this baby, her life will never be the same. Whatever normality that high school was supposed to bring was now turned upside down for her. In the end, I couldn’t help but think, thank God this poor girl wasn’t me or my friends. Cut to senior year, prom night. Just as it happens in the movies, where the guy gets the girl to sleep with him for the first time after an innocent night of dancing, my friend had a night that changed her life forever. It wouldn’t be until months later that we realized why she was absent so many times right before graduation, why she had removed herself from all of us. She gave her baby up for adoption and went on to attend college a year after we started, but I know that isn’t how most women want to experience giving birth for the first time.

With my senior year also brought rumors of younger girls becoming pregnant. As the years have passed and the media has glorified teen pregnancy, there is no doubt in my mind that more teenagers are having babies. The student body of a high school in Tennessee consists of 90 teenage mothers. The superintendent clarified this statistic by stating that teenagers who are pregnant seek out this certain school, and that 35 of these 90 women transferred in after becoming pregnant. Either way, I can’t help but wonder if these girls were influenced at all by the media glamorization of teen pregnancy. Here’s how that works: be a teenager, get pregnant, have MTV follow you around, get paid big money, and become famous. This sequence has been the result of the popular and successful shows like 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom.

Although I have fallen victim to the trashy television that MTV feeds American teens, I still find it hard to believe that teen pregnancy has become an outright trend. No longer is it something looked down upon in society. Forever 21, the famous teenage to young adult clothing store has so openly acknowledged the need for cute maternity clothes. Their target audience, females from the ages of 14 to 24, has made it possible for this company to expand their lines to include clothes for young pregnant women. It astounded me when I first heard, and while I would like to look fashionable whenever I am pregnant, I will not be turning to Forever 21 for my maternity clothing needs.

As much as I can say these shows are a negative influence to this teen pregnancy trend, others will disagree. Dr. Drew Pinksy, the doctor who interviews the girls after each season finale, has done his own research on the effects of 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom. To my surprise, he has found that many teenagers see this show as a reason to avoid teen pregnancy, seeing what their lives would be like if they were to become pregnant. Others use it as an opportunity to begin the ever-so-avoided conversation about sex with their parents. This in turn is making teenagers more aware and knowledgeable about the subject.

Whether or not you think the media attention brings a certain appeal to teen pregnancy or helps discourage the statistics from rising, I think you might agree with the fact that these “stars” should not be getting paid half of what they do. Because of the abuse she caused her boyfriend, Amber Portwood of Teen Mom had to report her earnings to a judge. This revealed that these women get paid a good $280,000 a year from the show. That is more money than most make in 5 years. Teen pregnancy isn’t just any fad or trend, it has become an epidemic.




(http://www.dosomething.org/news/teen-mom-bad-influence)

--Jackie DiBiase

Tomorrow Never Comes


This is the last post I will be making for Truth About The Fact, so I’m going to make it all about me. Most of my articles have been about social issues or idiosyncrasies I see in our world today, but what I want to challenge myself with is a more personal approach to writing, so here I am.

I am afraid, because I don’t know what’s supposed to happen next. On May 7th 2011 I will fulfill the last task my parents expect of me. It’s the last thing on the list, but there are still plenty of lines left. This is both liberating and debilitating. I feel the former because I have the entire world to explore and my own success to define, and the latter because I don’t know what the hell to do.

I hope you, reading this, share of have shared this feeling. It would make me feel better.

The only reason I came to LMU was to avoid doing homework. I began in the film school as a Recording Arts major, and since then many things have changed.

Camera Technician. Sound Board Operator. Long Distance Boyfriend. Band Member. Improv Comedian. Actor. Orientation Leader. Silent Retreater. Research Assistant. Writing Tutor. Dance Marathoner. Alternative Breaks Leader. Blogger.

I have not become who I thought I would be.

I mean this in a good and bad way. I’m sure you can relate to the feeling that you haven’t made the most of your time; that you walked through too much of life with dead eyes and static heart. This is a train of thought I am attempting to derail. For this, I have found that the best medicine is the presence of others.

I am humbled and impressed by my peers. They do countless things that I could never dream of, and they think about the world in a different but no less beautiful way than myself. I’ve been able to watch my friends perform their lives artistically through music, theater, film, dance, art, and writing. Early in college I would upset myself watching my friends succeed, that their talents made me seem unimpressive, but now I am beginning to understand the selfishness of such a perspective.

This is about me giving up on perfection. A healthy breakup, I must say.

So what do I plan to do after college? I am going to serve others, live simply, reflect thoroughly, laugh with soul, stretch my legs, be grateful, and not be so hard on myself. This is the first step building a career as a community organizer, musician, lawyer, doctor, author, social worker, philosopher, or wandering ascetic. I might do none, some, or all of these things, but my hope is to first learn how to live, because I have fooled myself for long enough.

Here’s to tomorrow, may it never come for me.

Sean McEvoy

NKOTB


The Tea Party has left a bitter taste in my mouth. Staunchly opposing every possible advancement in the name of tradition is the kind of romantic ideal that leads to war. Or entrenches us further in war.
Maybe it’s my decade or my disposition, but Republicans might as well have been publishing “Voldemort for President” bumper stickers in mass quantity because that is all I perceive. Or it might have been “Palin/Voldemort”. I’ve been thinking Palin/Bieber 2012 would be a popular candidate, maybe drawing some younger votes this time! We could even lower voting age to, let’s say...9. All in the name of fairness and keeping intelligence levels equal.
The aging, overstuffed white men that seemingly bought their way into their political chairs have ruined what could’ve been a good thing, pushing selfish motives ahead of common well being. Vested interests in wars and its driving forces have left the majority of citizens to fend for themselves while attempting to fight for our country, yet the only benefit is found among the richest. Emphasis on ridding the country of illegals--people, drugs--has furthered the inequalities it so naively attacks.
No party is exempt or solely responsible for the mess we’re in; both Democrats and Republicans ascribe to ideals harmful and shortsighted. Therefore I can never pledge allegiance to a party. I look for the person.
Preceding the talk, I had no idea who this man was, until he introduced himself to me and began questioning a number of my stances, from politics to the hands in my pocket (he prefers hands-on-hip, until the talk begins then a roulette of gestures are orhestrated for the audience -- notice the blur in photo). I hear him espouse liberal dirtytalk--pro choice; supports gay marriage; believes in loosening immigration laws; anti-drug war; anti-war. This man believes in me! Or has been listening, or is a real human being prior to legislative jading. I hate to call him naïve, but his devil-may-care attitude might just trip him from the starting gate, or open the floodgates to the majority of liberal and caring citizens unhappy with the current state of affairs.
This man is a Libertarian. And a Republican. Yet my heart didn’t turn to stone in his presence. Maybe something new? A time/man for change?
I like his social policies and his economics add up. As governor of New Mexico he vetoed 750 bills in order to never raise taxes. His path as President would be similar, simplifying tax codes and cutting spending where funding is not absolutely necessary or beneficial. He would “leave the Middle East yesterday”. All positives in a reality where money is not growing on trees, and burning trees hurts the pocketbook but helps the soul.
Buckle up, it's time for Indecision 2012

--Weston Finfer

H2O: A study of degrees


This is a new day. Sand and snow, slopes and saltwater. I love California and I really like Red Bull, especially on days that the Switchboard goes down. A detailed explanation would go: Awakened with a start, the 5:45AM alarm vibrates and squeals more passionately than the bedmate taking off three hours earlier. “Fuck the crack… (pondering the innuendo)…of dawn.” But a looking at the foot of my bed, seeing the snowboard boots stuffed inside my surfboard bag, I laugh. “Wow, life sux (x for xactly my point, sarcasm).” It’s gonna be a good day, so I get out of bed, get into my car and shuttle to UCLA for Aline, Pershing for Sam, and LMU for Stoney. The sun has now risen but my brain is still quite dark. The haze remains all the way to Huntington Beach, where I skate ice-rink sand into polar plunge ocean, the tip of each iceberg coming in 3-5 minute intervals. I don’t care though; I haven’t surfed in over a month. My body is now numb from sheer joy or cold water, pretty positive it’s the water because other joys give me a tingle. Not happening, nothing felt. I greet the dawn patrol with gruff grunts and strokes of beard (the under-40 crowd is looked at with a perverse reversal of curfews as old guys rule the early morning). Some swell in the water today. I take the first set, paddling into position but slightly behind the peak as I fall onto my face roughly 2 seconds after takeoff. Shit, I couldn’t even feel the board. I had stumps for feet while stepping onto an abyss. I wiggle the toes, rotate the ankles. I catch another, pumping the face until closeout. One more and I snap a few turns. This goes on until I ask the time -- 9AM (old-timers…not just an age, a utility). If I had been born without feet and imagined running, the frozen lack of feeling as I sprinted up the beach back to Red Bull HQ solved that fantasy. Wonderful breakfast burritos were being served by wonderful beach bunnies. I’m high already and still at sea-level.
Boarding buses to Big Bear proved problematic. If I’m cold now, what will happen in 8,000 feet? I took that trip though, and didn’t sleep once. Largely due to the infinite supply of Red Bull at hand. OK, solely. But Red Bull knows how to throw a party. Nonstop jams all the way to the hill kept the stoke up, while team bonds were solidified in strange lap-sitting ways. Oh yeah! This was all due to the LMU Ski & Snowboard team, my family. With the shared experience of LMU Surf and a handful of other local rippers. But the shared experience I felt was cold. This is spring season and I went from 57-degree water to a damn blizzard in Bear. Horrible time to complain, when I’m being shuttled and paid for to ski and surf, the main reason why I didn’t complain and had possibly the greatest day of my year thus far. But I was cold. And the hill called Bear hardly held a slope capable of propelling a dropped ball (jaded from Mammoth!). I spent much of my slope time in the lodge, shifting the game plan to sloshed time. While Red Bull was more than generous in covering transportation and lift tickets, there is no such thing as a free lunch (as my $19.61 cafeteria charge agrees). I proceeded to make friends as teammates trickled to and from the lodge, each wave winding down in energy level. Yet back on the bus, the party raged. From Bear to Huntington to LA and still going well into the night. What a So Cal celebration.


--Weston Finfer

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Family Matters


As of January, my brother and father haven't spoken to one another. I'm not sure if it was my dad's drunken behavior during me and my brother's trip home to Atlanta for Thanksgiving, or the fact that my family has been broken up since 2003 is just now manifesting. Either way, I am now automatically responsible for the family drama my brother and father are inciting with each other.

Okay, I'll be honest, brutally honest. My dad is an alcoholic and God knows I wish I could insert the word "recovering" before stating that fact. But he's not. In actuality, it seems as though his condition has gotten worst over the past two years. For breakfast, he doesn't drink coffee while reading the newspaper. Instead, he nonchalantly pours himself a glass of wine in a coffee mug. Mind you, his usual waking time is about 8:00am.

My father's condition is hard to accept, but even harder to aid. He doesn't want help because like anyone suffering from a illness, they don't believe they are actually sick. He goes to work every day, pays my tuition and rent on time, and supports his family the best way he knows how. To my father, he is meeting all of the requirements in the "How to be a Dad" handbook.

I will admit that my dad has laid out a wonderful life for my brother and me, he has also caused a lot of tension between our family. The first problem is his alcoholism, but that is the least of the problems.

My brother went to Howard University in Washington D.C. and graduated in 2008. Since then, he has busted his ass to start a career in an economy where jobs aren't exactly in abundance. In doing so, he was successful. However, my dad doesn't approve of the career choice my brother has made. He feels as though my brother could be doing more. My dad thinks my brother would be most successful in Atlanta; which is where my dad moved and opened his own restaurant.

Their feud over the meaning of success and my battle with my dad's alcohol problem has left me drained and empty. I wish I could run away from these family matters. That's just it though, my family matters. Although I want to scream and shout or pull my hair out, I love my family. In essence they are apart of me. Whether it be my dad suffering from chronic alcoholism, or my brother and father causing havoc at the dinner table upon every family get together, I will still love them both.

It's most important for me to recognize that I can't solve problems that aren't ultimately left in my hands. If it is out of my hands their is nothing I can do but seek the best for both my brother and my dad. I will continue to support my dad until he's ready to admit to his illness. I don't doubt the power of time. Time heals all.

-Brittnee Wadlington

Live Well


The older I get the more life starts to make sense to me. Recently, I have made a discovery about life and the purpose it serves. I sat down and questioned myself. Am I a naturally good being? Am I fulfilling my duty here on earth? After having a lengthy mental discussion I came to a final conclusion.

In order to know whether you are fulfilling your time on earth it is key to enjoy your life. I see so many people wrapped up in the small things that really are irrelevant. For instance, one can become absorbed with social problems; including who’s dating who or whether Sally is sleeping with Joe. In my opinion, individual’s involvement in issues like these does not constitute a life well lived. A life well lived should be as drama free as possible. In addition to living well I feel it is also important to embrace your own life. Instead of soaking in one’s own misery, it is essential to always be your own motivator. People rely too heavily on others to join in to their “pity party”, but realistically, that person doesn’t care as much as you do. As humans, we will always be more concerned with our own well being before someone else’s.

I felt the urge to come up with some guidelines to help people feel like they are living their lives well, and staying focused on what they love. It’s a lot harder than one would imagine living a clean, worry-free lifestyle. The first thing to always remember is to take care of you first. Always make sure YOU are at the top of your own priority list. In addition, stay away from unnecessary drama and problems. If the problem can be avoided, just turn the other direction and ignore the potential issue. In the end, you will feel lighter, as though weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.

Honestly, I feel like people dwell on the less important things in life. At the end of the day, people want to know why they don’t feel satisfied with their own life. Well, it’s a simple fix. Just take time and focus on yourself. Don’t worry about things that don’t legitimately concern you and don’t stress over the things that do. We are only human, and we are temporary. We won’t last forever, so I feel like we should make life worth living now--today!


-Brittnee Wadlington

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

IVF, Is it Inherently Good?

Recently there has been a growing debate on the efficacy and validity of in vitro fertilization processes. I was thought to believe that IVF was a safe, sound, and a viable option for spouses who are unable to conceive a child naturally, however after learning about this relatively new procedure more intently in my theology class, I have found many disconcerting pieces of information regarding IVF. Even when women are in their prime years and with the ever-enhancing technology, studies show that the average successful fertility rate is still at a low 30 to 35%. With this long procedure you also have to factor in possible health concerns for not only your baby but also the mother. One of the commonest serious side effects from using fertility drugs is a condition known as hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This disease becomes a risk in women who develop more than 20 follicles in response to the fertility drug. Of course symptoms vary from patient to patient, but some of the most common and more serious ones include: kidney failure, ARDS, which is a severe lung disease caused by a variety of direct and indirect issues, and hyperhomocysteinemia, which is having an abnormally large level of homocysteine in the blood. This induces heart disease and can lead to a series of strokes. Mothers who undergo this procedure are relatively unlikely to have such serious effects but the fact that they can occur makes me question the efficacy and morale of the procedure.
Moving on to the actual fetus, studies have also shown some very disheartening causes for the life of the baby who is born under IVF. In 2008, an analysis of the data of the National Birth Defects Study in the US found that certain birth defects were significantly more common in infants conceived through IVF. Some of these defects are septal heart defects, cleft lip, esophageal atresia and anorectal atresia. Aside from the cleft lip, all of these defects are very detrimental to the baby's health and may result to death. Another major concern with IVF is the risk of multiple births. Because in vitro fertilization allows the transferring of multiple embryos and a high dosage of sperm, multiple births are very common. Not only may the spouse not want multiple births but it can also lead to a number of pregnancy complications and pregnancy loss.
After a brief tutorial on the malformations and illnesses that may happen during this relatively new procedure, it’s obvious that this should not be continued. I generally feel that whenever scientists try to manipulate nature, something always goes astray. Even when they try to tamper with our produce and livestock, we eventually begin to see that you cannot control what you make or know if it is actually good for you because complications or fallacies always arise. The human being must be respected as a person from the very instant of existence, but IVF is condemned because it removes the natural way of birth. Using embryos or fetuses for experimentation commits a crime against their dignity as human beings. There are far too many negative consequences in regards to IVF to be explained in full depth but at least I've shown you some of more important factors, both morally and biologically, on this method. Families should withdraw from this expensive and unstable procedure and consider adopting a child instead.

-Mortimer Canepa

Violence...



Violence…

Why do people love violence? I never understood how people could become infatuated with watching pain. For instance, we watch sport fights, fights on YouTube, and we tune into fights shown on reality television. Is this a human craving that we have not yet controlled or is it something we have established from the beginning of time? Today people are too found of violence and this blog is intended for the reader to expand their thought on this too.
Historically violence was a proportion of the known world, through tales of heroic deeds during wars to gladiatorial battles in coliseums. Violence was also used to keep people occupied from worrying about who was running a country or how things were run. Punishment of those that broke laws usually met with violent too, so as to try keep order. With that being said, why is it still among our era today. There are more people who are educated today but we still lack the idea that violence is still among us. As it was in the past, people would watch violence for entertainment, because people would die or almost die. Also, they would watch people who were punished and executed gruesomely. This still goes on today because we tune into to death and fights on television. We also, love to see people do tricks at shows that could kill them. Could it be that we are simply fascinated with death? If this is true then why do we fear it so much? This blog is simply for you, the reader to expand on this idea, and think about how you view violence. Is this human nature or just something we have created through history?
Whatever the case maybe, I believe this is something that has been created through history and not a part of human nature. I think it is more of a power element that our human nature of dominance has. Like animals, we crave dominance and this makes us feel powerful because we escaped death and/or can watch people get hurt and feel fine because it is not happening to us. We use death to scare people and to thrill us because we’re beating death by only watching it and being apart of it. Also, those who toy with death and violence only do it for the thrill too and love it because they escape death making them powerful. Nevertheless, humans’ still fear death and so, if it was a human nature of wanting violence then why would we fear it so much. Power does not make us love violence it only makes us feel invincible when we escape it. Nonetheless, this blog is intended to expand your ideas about his. How do you feel about violence?

-Yenitza Munoz

From Helpless to Lethal... Eventually

I spent part of last summer in school in Germany, as well as traveling around other parts of Europe and North Africa. As a lone woman traveler, I was always aware of my surroundings and always concerned about falling into a dangerous situation. However, one night in the beginning of my stay in Germany, I was caught completely off-guard.

I spent the night having a few drinks at a pub with other LMU study-abroad students. By the time we all left, the metro was closed and I had heard awful stories about the night buses. When a taxi pulled up and asked me if I wanted a ride, and I agreed and got in the front seat. As he drove, we made small talk.

I did not speak a word of German. When the driver asked why I was visiting, I explained that I was an American student, studying abroad, etc. I started feeling uncomfortable when he asked if I had a boyfriend. Without thinking, I said no. I also told him there was no husband when he asked. Things continued downhill when he asked me if anyone knew I was out and was expecting me home. I lied and said I was late coming home and my host family was up waiting for me.

I began calling the number of a close friend of mine repeatedly, desperate to let someone know where I was. He didn’t answer. The cab driver pulled over and asked a man for directions, and then turned down a different street than the man had indicated. I told him he was going the wrong way and he turned around. I made sure I appeared calm, but I was close to becoming hysterical. I heard and felt my heart pound as my body temperature rose, my muscles tensed up, adrenaline flowed and time seemed to slow down. I tried to stay composed and consider my options. As I continued with the conversation, I dug into my purse and started lacing keys in between my fingers. All I could think was, I refuse to be a victim. But my German language skills consisted of being able to count to 20, I was in a car with a stranger with no idea of where we were, no one was around and it was past 2:00 a.m. I was screwed.

Finally, I recognized where we were and told him to stop the car. As I thanked him, he unbuckled his seat belt and leaned over to kiss me. I turned my head and felt pressure all over my body as our cheeks brushed against each other. He tried and failed again. He then pulled back and asked, “No sex?” to which I replied, “No… But I can give you 10 Euros.” Frustrated, he complained, “I gave you ride. You give me sex.” When I refused again and offered him money, he said, “No. Just get out.” I got out of the car and walked behind a wall in an area only open to pedestrians where he could not see me. The car did not move for about 20 seconds. Then he drove off. I sprinted the half mile to get home and burst into tears as soon as I got into my room.

I consider myself to be a strong and independent person. As a result, one of the most repulsive, uncomfortable feelings for me is feeling helplessness. There are few clearer reminders of how thin and young our deceptively pleasant appearance of civilization is than being assaulted. In an instant our comfort and confidence are gone and we retreat to our fight or flight instincts where might and muscle mass reign. Being in a situation where my safety is completely out of my control infuriates me.

Almost all women have encountered an experience, if not several, in which they felt in danger of an assault. They are familiar with the feeling of sheer terror when your mind says, I am about to be attacked and no matter how hard I fight, I will be lucky to survive. It is for this reason that I consider the importance of knowing a degree of self-defense. We are in constant peril and should be equipped with an idea of how to handle such a situation, as it is entirely too likely that it will present itself.

When I heard one of my professors gives free Judo martial arts lessons, I jumped at the opportunity. I began the lessons about 6 weeks ago and absolutely love it. Our teacher, or “Sensei,” as we call him at the lessons, has told us stories of small women trained in Judo defending themselves against male attackers. Some say there comes a point in the training in which women laugh at the idea of someone attempting to assault them. I cannot wait for this point. I know it will not come anytime soon, but the hope of attaining that security helps to compensate for my anger and occasional feeling of helplessness.


-Colleen Bouey

STEP...



Step

Take that step
Look up at the sky,

Then look back down at the ground.
You cannot go those ways yet
Until your soul is found
And you are content

Walk

One foot in front of another
Make decisions now
Right or wrong, make them renowned
Allow yourself to go forward not backward
Pace your steps so you know how far you can go
And challenge yourself to go beyond them

Jog

Embrace this new rhythm of motion of steps
Take in the feeling of burning in your chest
Remember, you don’t have to stay awake for nights to succeed this pace
Just be awake so you can create your own fate
Now prepared from your past steps, you can go beyond them
You now know the biggest risk is not taking one
Not moving beyond your present pace

Run

Your heart is pumping fast,
Beating hard against your chest.

Breath, and allow yourself to pant furiously,

Allow your mind to wonder and think about these fatigue feelings
Love is around every corner,
And you now realize you have been running in circles
Feel life and the air that keeps you alive; find these inner corners
Not looking back, proceed this routine
Inhale the crispy cool air that is peacefully running through you lungs

Rest

Congratulations,
Now fatigue, you have experienced life
You can rest and think about where you are and how far you went.
Where did this act of cardio take you?
Did you create the fate you wanted?
Now look at the sky
Or down at the ground
Did you take the steps you wanted before it was time to rest?

-Yenitza Munoz

Monday, April 25, 2011

The cost of a burning monk


Yes, ma’am, you’ve got it right:
he is in fact burning.
No it’s not a stunt. There’s no flame
absorption on his skin.
His body is on fire, shedding
a fresh layer every second.
The flames have swallowed half of him
at this point. He’s turning into ash.
Yes, ma’am
he is, in fact, burning.

Well, yes, by the look on his
face I could see why you might question it.
But it’s actually not a stunt.
Yes, ma’am, I’m sure.
He is calm because, well,
at this point he is gone.
No, not dead. Not yet.
But he’s far away; the flames don’t
exist where he is. He’s…
just far away.

Okay, that’s natural ma’am,
I can’t ask you to understand a monk in flames.
What’s a monk, you ask?
Well ma’am I…
Oh, well they’re not helping him because
they can’t and he doesn’t want them to.
They’re all in the same flames, you see.
Okay, sure, I won’t bother.

Oh wow, your husband is a stunt man?
Oh, for Father’s Day?
Well okay… No I don’t think we have
any larger frames for it
but I can check in the back.
No problem, ma’am.

Mallory Massie

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tim Hetherington--Spreading enlightenment through exposure


To play with fire, one accepts the inevitability of being burned. Tim Hetherington was a pyromaniac of sorts, and gave his life to enlightening the masses about the humanity behind the line of fire that brought him down. There was no mission too dangerous or exotic to withhold his curious lens. In his initial hiring as a photojournalist, he worked for The Big Issue--a London newspaper sold by the homeless--from there securing an opportunity to cover the Second Civil War in Liberia. His stationing with TV reporter James Brabazon behind rebel lines was responsible for bringing an execution order from Liberian President Charles Taylor. Two documentaries were produced as a result of their work, his photographs being used for Liberia: An Uncivil War and the Darfur documentary The Devil Came on Horseback.
Critical acclaim was earned after his time in Afghanistan, spent in the Korengal Valley alongside Truth Award recipient Sebastian Junger as they produced their masterpiece Restrepo. The documentary leaves all opinions to the viewer as we are thrown in the frontline of the “Afghanistan of Afghanistan”, letting the soldiers of Second Platoon show and tell their stories without any embellishments. The film is named for field medic Juan Restrepo, one of the many casualties experienced in this campaign more akin to Vietnam than any US engagement since. Traipsing through a landscape hardly distinguishable from California canyon’s, the inevitabilities of drawing heavy fire through civilian territories calls a number of ethics into question as civilian, insurgent, and soldier are laid to waste all the same. Hetherington won the World Press Photo for 2007 with a shot of an exhausted soldier simultaneously clasping his forehead and helmet with his hands, summing up the sentiment of a nation at war for reasons not quite known.
In Libya this Wednesday, April 20th, 2011, an RPG round hit and killed Hetherington and fellow photographer Chris Hondros, injuring two other journalists simultaneously. They were travelling with rebel troops at the time, Hetherington’s final Tweet on Tuesday reading: “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”
His passion for relaying the hardships of the world through his photos are a massive addition to the popular media. “Tim was open to a whole part of reality that I and everyone I know was completely ignorant of,” Sebastian Junger says of his friend, in response to Hetherington taking a frenzy of photos while soldiers were asleep. All aspects of war and violence were sought after in his reporting to allow the population back home an unfiltered vantage into the reality of the brutality. His quest for the truth will not be forgotten and inspires me to continually question the reporting I am exposed to and to make critical judgments for myself, taking firsthand experience to be the only source worth trusting.

--Weston Finfer

Thursday, April 21, 2011

opened closings


There used to be a park here. Now the park is no more. Even with this new concrete lot, no park. Too many cars, not enough people. When the open space went, I guess the minds closed in response. These are the thoughts I have when driving the streets of LA.
Maybe it’s the fact that all that is “real” has been pushed to the margins. The green of their lawns is not real; neither are the dirt brown dog parks or glass-floored beaches. The drop of water that expands to cover all surface is the race we undertake to control all that we cannot define, the comfort we maintain in our own creations. The hills are scarred by peace seeking money, but this is now a private place for have’s to lament what they have not--a touch with reality.
I broached these observations with my aunt, Karen, who has lived in LA the better part of four decades. She started with her neighbors in Brentwood, who, when she was a child would frequently interact and stop by to chat, believing their children of similar ages to be worthy of contact. They had local hangout spots at Kenter Canyon Elementary and backyard pools to swim or skate, watched over by older neighbors who would laugh advice on how to butterfly properly and invite the family over for an afternoon drink.
I live in this same house currently, but I can’t find the neighborhood anymore. As far as I have seen, my neighborhood consists solely of white babies and Mexican ladies. And going door-to-door with a greeting these days literally provides more harm than good, what with the gates, guard dogs, and trespassing eyes-in-sky. When’d you become better than us? I’ll bet you want privacy after trapping the minds and bodies of the public, running the media to make those fat paychecks seem like a good idea, like you’ll use that revenue for the greater good. Maybe if you lock those gates permanently to stew in your own ivory tower can we call it even. Maybe.
I wasn’t sure if the drivers in LA had always attempted to kill perceived competitors with their eye and finger strength, so I posited this view to Karen as well. She related the times she would ride horses down San Vicente Boulevard, receiving waves and cheers, not honks and glares. Traffic would stop for those crossing the street, parking spaces were not obtained by knifepoint, turning signals opened space. But somehow, everything closed. “Make way for me, I am much too busy to appreciate this scene”--the motto I’ve made up for the stressed and angry ones.
I recognize the annoyance of seeing cars line the street, cars surround cars on top of cars, but I also recognize there is a space for me somewhere in this wild city. Even if its 10 blocks from my original destination, because days like those get me outside and suddenly, my original intent has been surpassed by something wonderful and unexpected. I keep my eyes open to see through the interior limits, the rules and restrictions that keep bodies locked in their concrete jungle.
The experienced world traveler is the one who navigates Los Angeles neighborhoods with ease. It’s easy enough to become trapped in a Brentwood or Silverlake or Venice and forget there is a global medley sprinkled throughout your county. But the traffic keeps us from leaving, or the thought of spending time and money on parking deters exploration, or those damn hipsters and homeless keep dirtying everything. Many excuses for no good reason, but why ruin your “cool” by dancing at the show?
So Karen tells me she’s moving to Colorado. She’s been telling me this for 20 years. “There’s some open land there that sends you right back to your maker”, I’m told. But I know the solitude on a ranch with 20 open acres surrounding is no different than 20,000 square feet of city isolation. Well, except for the peace of mind. But I like the options here in LA, they may seem daft, but I figure the more I explore, the more I push these limits out, the larger my bubble grows until it surpasses this world. There’s no time for locked intellects that demand respect from climate-controlled cockpits, transporting inflated insecurities from one asylum to the next.

Someday these bubbles will burst.


--Weston Finfer