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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Don't

As I sit in the chapel, I feel nervous and sick. I do not know if it is because of the cheap decorations or the strong smell of cigarettes from the casino, but Vegas weddings are not for me. Although I am not close to the bride or groom, I decided to come on this journey for a second spring break. However the crying baby behind me is seriously making me regret my decision.
As more and more guests arrive, they embody the definition of a Vegas wedding. Women walk in either limping because they cannot walk in their four inch heels or making click clack noises because they are wearing beach sandals and all of them are pulling down their dresses because they wore club attire instead of wedding. The men aren't much better because although they are in suits their converse don't exactly compliment the outfit. I guess for people other than Vegas residents, weddings do not refer to the traditional ceremony in which formal attire is a must.
When the music begins I sigh and direct my attention to the open doors. To my surprise the bridesmaid actually had cute dresses, even though they were hot pink, Vegas inspired. But once the procession was done the music changed and the bride walked in on the arm of her brother. After the five steps up to her husband to be, the music stopped and the dialogue began. It was at this moment I realized weddings were not so silly after all...
The groom never took his eyes off of his bride. As soon as she was close he whispered, "You look so pretty. I love you so much." It was a beautiful moment and made me think about my future marriage.Although I do not plan on taking the plunge for at least ten more years, and it will NOT be in Vegas, I know exactly how I am going to react. I am going to be sick, nervous, and cry historically throughout it. A perfect demonstration would be the Catholic wedding in “Wedding Crashers,” the one where they bet on if the bride is going to cry or not when she walks up the altar. As soon as she looks at her groom, her face crinkles and the tears flow, a moment that evokes laughter. And although these are all extremely negative feelings, marriage is a life changing experience and I clearly don't respond well to change.
However, these two were ready to unite as ball and chain. The groom looked into his brides eyes and with a strong, clear voice said “I do.” The bride responded with tears in her eyes, and in a shaky voice the words, “I do.” And the make out began...
The point is true love, as demonstrated from the movie-like set wedding, can overcome such jitters and lead to a life of happiness. So congratulations Kyle and Anna! If there’s young couples that can make a marriage last out there, it is your two.
And if you are like me and have a deep fear of weddings and chapels, just tell yourself the free cake and champagne will make it all worth it. That was some great dessert!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Real Cloud 9

There is nothing like the feeling of being at a music festival. Finding the perfect spot amongst a huge crowd of rebellious youth. Bodies surrounding you completely but giving you enough space to move freely to the beautiful melodies that pump through the speakers. Lights are projected in every direction and all you want to do is move with them. The beat takes you over and your hands sway across the air with utter pleasure. Everyone feels the exact same thing, all encompassing joy. It is the most hedonistic, wonderful environment you will ever find. I have never seen a place so united under the same belief before, not even religion can bring people together like this. Nothing matters when you are in front of that stage with thousands of other people. Everyone is there for the same reason, to enjoy the music and love each other’s company. You don’t have to dress up in heels and put on red lipstick. You don’t have to look cute and order a pink drink that you sip seductively. You can put on your dirty converse and torn shirt and dance with as much passion as your body can handle. No matter who you are, this family will accept you.

Music festivals are about the whole experience. Your senses are constantly dazzled by food, art, lights, music, and performances, everything you could possibly imagine. Your heart is beating with adrenaline and you look around only to find that everyone is right there with you, feeling the same sense of excitement. Then a song comes on that you all know and there is an uproar of voices filling the huge venue. You all scream at the top of your lungs in perfect unison and all you can feel is a surge of tingles go through your body. You close your eyes and you know that this is what makes us human, this connection is why we were put here. Nothing can make you feel more alive.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Driving on Heartbreak

It’s another moment of confusion, heartbreak, and embarrassment, but this time I’m on the corner of Barrington Ave. and Santa Monica, driving aimlessly to avoid the questions. I had found myself in this position exactly two months ago. Sunken into the driver’s seat of my mom-like Prius, blasting whatever song seemed perfect for the occasion, and wearing my dark Ray-Bans to cover up the puffy, wet eyes. I try singing at the top of my lungs to the lyrics that seem written for me and my predicament, but my pride always gets best of me. Maybe that’s leaning too far into the melodrama of sappy romantic comedies. Still, I always find myself clinging to the only tangible comfort I can find: driving.

Driving is my post-breakup go-to. I’ve developed an art, so that if I know the “conversation” is coming, I’ll make plans to drive to his place. Then I can get out of there as fast as possible and seek shelter beneath the curved roof of my mint green hybrid. The pattern is usually the same. I sit in shock for awhile, letting out all the things that I was holding in for dear life, wondering if this really just happened to me again. Then I prepare the sunglasses and ipod.

The songs are always ones that have been in my head at the time, but seem perfect for the occasion. Two months ago it was Taylor Swift’s live cover of “Nashville,” this time it was Maroon 5’s “Misery.” Unfortunately, these moments tend to ruin the songs for me, forever attaching that intense spurt of emotion to the very first note played. Nevertheless, I always blast them past normal level, and put them on repeat. Just that one song. Over and over and over.

It does always occur to me that this type of aimless driving under distress could be dangerous, but the focus on the road tends to calm me down. For just that one short hour, I’m able to be alone to my thoughts and the blaring song. I don’t have to explain to anyone, talk about my feelings, rationalize the situation. Right off the bat, I can just revel in the self-wallowing on my own time, so that it doesn’t creep back into my later conversations with friends.

The driving puts me smack dab in the middle of daily life. I’m reminded that the world is still moving, and this (yet again) misstep will seem like a speck of dirt in just a year or so. I’m cocooned in my air conditioned cave, while the world provides a silent reminder outside my tinted windows that it’s still there waiting. Waiting for me to hop over this ridiculous speed bump and keep right on driving.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Graduating Etiquette

Something like 6 weeks until graduation, strangers and students alike ask me what my plan is. I am not answerless, and neither are you out there who claim: I don’t know. Don’t laugh with embarrassment awaiting the comfort from those that ask. There is no way to truly answer that question or any of it’s companions such as: what do you want to be, what do you plan on doing with that major, or what do you want to do? The last one is my favorite. I take it, and the other two, as other forms of “how are you?” Do people really care? I don’t think so. A friend of mine once wrote a piece on little white lies. In it she painted the hilariously satisfying scenario of actually responding, with complete honesty, to the question “how are you?” If I’m going to tell the truth, she explained, I would tell them how I have a head ache, how my personal life is, and the anxiety I feel—oh ya, also making sure to include my last bowel movement. I more than laughed at this. I cackled. How does this brilliance apply to those burning graduation questions? And by burning I mean irritating, like an STD caught and remembered like a lower division class you thought you were easing through but truly failing. Well, next time someone asks you any of these questions, especially about who you want to be and what you want to do, truly tell them. Don’t ask them how much time they have. Just answer the question(s). “I’d like to begin my summer off with an internship where I will build a repertoire and be so damn charming I will be immediately hired at the BBC. There, I will meet my soul mate. Said soul mate and I will begin making documentaries because I will be so rich and have such lengthy vacations, you know how the British are with vacations days, that I will have time to make these documentaries. One will get in the hands of David Fincher, and that’s how I will win my first Oscar.” Outlining your Oscar speech is optional. The point is, no one can be deduced to such question and answer interplay. There is nothing that can express what I want or will be. As that person asks you the question, you and your future are building. I’m not saying people are assholes for asking such questions or that you should be an asshole when you respond. I just have to send this out there into the universe: you are not alone. How you are and who you are is not a two-word sentence. But sometimes you have to keep that process moving with your own intentions in mind. So go ahead, say it, “I’m fine,” and know that you are more than fine. You are becoming.

What I may or may not regret

What defines regret? Something we wish we had done? The opposite? Goals that went unachieved? I sit unmoving eyes surveying the sundrenched scenery around me, listening to the stereotypical coffee house music. My eyes glaze as I begin wondering about my life in the future, will I have regrets? I feel a sense of something unsettling drop into the pit of my stomach. I can feel my brow furrowing. Do I already have some? My mouth scrunches to the side with this thought. Maybe I do.

I’ve thought on and off about regret throughout my life. I’m susceptible to this line of pondering simply of my choice of making my passion of dance into a career. Sound contradictory? One should realize that my career has been eighteen years in the making. That means I have spent eighteen years constantly working on my craft. A craft that may be one of the most competitive, demoralizing, and disappointing arts that people decided to create. With this context, sacrifice seems like an obvious side effect. Even with my devotion, I know I can feel something lurking in the ether of my mind. It’s the stalking of the “what if” demon. By the way there are two types of these demons, the Bad and the Good. This is the Bad one. This particular type of demon chases a lot of people who have high-risk career paths, where the “what if ” demon feeds solely on those thoughts. Soon those ideas become endless and multiply and suddenly you’re sitting there thinking about regrets you might not even have yet.

Currently my list of “what if’s” include:

“What if I could have done something easier? Something that I love more, I just didn’t realize it because I was too busy with dance?”

“What if my career is cut short? Then what do I do?”

“What if I’m better at something else?”

“What if I fail?”

That idea of failure might be my largest and most feared “what if” I know. Although I believe in positive thinking, no matter how positive I can be this very question is my constant fear. Should I fail, I would feel as if I wasted so much time and so much of my life. Some might argue it wasn’t a waste of time because it shaped me as a person. To them I would say, try telling that to someone that fails at what they did for so long and has nothing come from that very activity. It’s rough.

With all this reflection I decide I need a break from this downward-spiraled thinking. Taking a moment, I begin realizing that I haven’t failed yet. In fact, I haven’t even really had a chance at my career because I still am in school. I sit and my eyes begin refocusing as the fuzzy shapes of people begin defining themselves again in my sight. I am back in the dimly lit coffee shop and no longer in the cerebral world of “What if’s” and regrets. I look down at the table and notice my notebook from Jazz. I flip through the corrections on each page and start thinking about how I can improve from the prior class. I look up and the clock reads ten past one. I have modern in five minutes. I get up, pack my things, and as I walk to the studio all my musings dissipate into the blinding light and sharp winds around me.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mindless Errand Running

The sound of my car’s ignition induces a sigh of relief from both my restless body and wandering mind, aching badly for a solitary car ride. Although I only have a few blocks to drive, it is a welcomed journey; exercises in mental focus had made my thoughts stir crazy. Too many hours of class, too many hours spent contemplating my future, a life that seems parallel but in no way connected to the moment that actually existed in front of me.

I am in need of something simple… food? Drink? Household goods? Perhaps all three, I cannot remember. At any rate, tonight the Big Lots on Sepulveda and Jefferson serves as the destination I use as an excuse to run wild with the horses under the hood of my metal chariot.

Once in motion, my thoughts race and bounce like the rhythm of the cars around me, the rubber of tires slapping dutifully against pavement. I imagine the most grandiose of ideas, far-reaching of concepts as I cruise down the sloping, pleasant stretch towards the front gates. I form a theory by the time I turn right on Jefferson from Lincoln that Earth is just a biochemistry experiment for an especially advanced alien population.

The Petri dish that is our existence lies flat on a metal table under bright, fluorescent lights, three green forms in long, white jackets. Our world is a test. We are data.

God is just a chemical reaction.

“They seem to be killing themselves off at an incredibly fast pace,” one alien in a white coat would remark to another, scribbling notes from the monitors tracking our universe’s progress.

“Yes, we should have stuck with the smart lizards.”

“Well, I wasn’t the one who put the dish in the freezer!”

I imagine them poking at the black blob that holds our existence with the end of their pen, easily touching the edge of an expanse we seek so wholeheartedly to reach ourselves.

Sitting at a stoplight, I wonder. What if it were all recorded? What if these life forms have been collecting all the data in the history of our existence? Would these thoughts, words, conclusions mean something then? Would the idea of a higher power seem to make more sense if that power needed us too in some way? Just as we learn from lower forms of life, are we too teachers through our creation, our movement, our mistakes, our successes?

Would they ever look at me? What’s in my report? It would be titled something like Everything Humans Know, and would sit next to other volumes of studies that would shrink the index of the world’s worth.

Could this be true? Could that be reality?

Why not? I tell myself, switching lanes to dodge a minivan crawling the speed limit. My guess is as good as anyone else’s. If anything, just the fact that I can imagine this idea demonstrates the absurdity of peoples’ belief in a singular truth, the anthropocentric reality with which we rock ourselves to sleep.

Meaning, I remind myself as I come to a stop sign before the Big Lots, is constructed. Reality, I figure, accelerating once again, is simply shared meaning. There is no absolute truth to any of this, as any reality presented can be rejected if a mind is powerful enough and chooses to do so. Why do we push these notions of reality, of truth? Parking my car, I cringe at the sound of brakes hitting rotors, one reality that cannot be ignored much longer.

I push a cart through fluorescently lit aisles and wander between shelves crammed with materials that are colorful and nice and have little use other than to serve as some sort of decoration or distraction from things naturally derived.

After a few momentum-gathering steps, I step onto the underneath part of the cart and let it carry me to the checkout line, still hung up on the idea of fragmented realities. Part of me believes that some, most people are afraid of what individuals might do, knowing that they are the creators of their own truths. All of me believes that those in power, those who dictate what “the masses” take for granted, fear this notion of free thought because it would blow their cover, disturb an order that keeps people reaching for a single, commodifiable point of truth.

James Baldwin put it well in his essay, “A Talk to Teachers,”

“The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. The purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions, to say to himself this is black or this is white, to decide for himself whether there is a God in heaven or not. To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his own identity. But no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around. What societies really, ideally, want is a citizenry which will simply obey the rules of society. If a society succeeds in this, that society is about to perish. The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change it and to fight it – at no matter what risk. This is the only hope society has. This is the only way societies change.“

Groceries in hand, I walk back to my car. I cannot help but appreciate the symphony of organic noises around me. Dark, wet sky holds moisture against telephone wires, making them hum and snap against the moist air. Insects add a chorus of chirps, and cars growl down the wide, lazy road. This reality feels whole. I feel better. Jefferson greets me once again with streetlights as I relax my thoughts, let them off their leash. Enough of contemplating the meaning of life for now, a calmer part of me suggests, turning up my stereo. After all, I argue, aliens may be listening, and they deserve good music.

Your weekend warrior,


Women vs. Men

Being a woman is expensive and time consuming. On average it takes me about 2 hours to get ready for special occasions, while the average male needs only 20 minutes.
One of the main problems is the amount of hair women have compared to the average male. For example, if I do not put any products in my hair, within thirty minutes of blow-drying, it becomes extremely frizzy. After this step, comes straightening. If I neglect straightening my hair I will then have tangled locks adding an extra ten minutes of brushing at the end of the night. And dare I try curling it, I need to use about half a can of hair spray, otherwise those curls will be completely gone in an hour. I also have highlights, which is about a two hour process to complete and must be done about every two months. A man’s average haircut takes less than thirty minutes and can be put off for months until they attend their walk-in appointment.
While time alone is a problem for women, an even bigger issue comes in the form of dollar signs. Everything that I believe is essential, those hair care instruments and products just named, are all expensive. If you want a decent straightner you will have to spend anywhere from $80-125. The same goes for curlers. A decent curling iron can range anywhere from $60-125. Hair products vary in price, but I constantly run out of hair spray and serum due to my frizzy and fine hair. Therefore, I am wasting money buying the biggest can of each every time I shop, adding another $20 to my growing tab. And women’s haircuts are expensive. For me, a hair cut includes:
Washing $30
Cutting $30
Highlights $100
Blow-dry $20
Averaging $200 per salon trip
The average male can spend about $20 at any Super Cuts where their hair will look fine.
Along with appearance are nails and make-up. It takes about $60 to get a set of acrylics and about an hour and a half to get them done properly. Add another $30 if you want your toes to match. Next is make-up. When I apply my make-up I use foundation, eye-shadow, eye-liner, mascara, blush, and then a powder foundation over. The average MAC prices for the following products are:
Foundation $30
Eye-shadow $15
Eye-liner $15
Mascara $20
Blush $20
Powder foundation $30
Averaging $125 for Make-up essentials
Lastly are clothes and shoes. While there are some exceptions, for the most part women’s closets double the size of men’s, if not triple. Women change their outfits sometimes multiple times a day, while men are more likely to keep reusing the same shirts and jeans that they own. However, the amount of shoes men and women have are pretty close in number. Men seem to cherish their shoes more than anything else they own, but women are still spending more on appearances than men ever do.
When a man gets ready all he has to do is shower and then 75% of the process is done. Afterwards they might put some gel in their hair, $10 at their local convenience store, and maybe some cologne, around $50 but technically free since it is almost always a gift from their mother or girlfriend. It may take a few minutes to decide what shoes to wear, and a few seconds to put their clothes on, but after that whole process only about 30 minutes has passed. While it would be amazing to take 20 minutes to get ready, I know this is unrealistic and I just need to get use to my unfair life as a woman.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Digital Native or Immigrant?

With the recent release of the new Ipad 3, I was caught of guard and realized how quickly the rate of technology is advancing. Even though it was a year ago, I feel like it was just yesterday when people were exited for the Ipad 2. With the only main difference between the first and second Ipad being a camera on the front, I realized this rate of advancement is frightening.

Earlier in the semester, for my Journalism and New Media class, we were assigned a reading by Marc Prensky called “ Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants”. Prensky coined the term digital native as someone, who was born during or after the general introduction of digital technology, and thus is able to function with it. According to Marc Prensky’s definition of a digital native I would be considered a native, however I would disagree and say I am neither a native nor immigrant to technology. The speed in which technology advances has started to become difficult to keep up with for my liking, particularly for the simple life I choose to live. This whole hype about Ipads is uncanny to me. Being at LMU, where the majority of the students come from affluent backgrounds, it is common for me to see people walking around with all the newest gadgets. I personally have a friend on campus that is obsessed with having the newest Apple merchandise. When the last IPhone was released, he so badly wanted the newest one, that he spent over four hundred dollars to upgrade his one-year-old IPhone. The Ipad 2 was a must for him as well, for the reason that he said he didn’t like carrying his Macbook Pro everywhere. Have we all become obsessed? Perhaps this infatuation with technology is key to why it is only advancing faster and faster.

At times I consider myself a digital immigrant because even though I am surrounded by technology, I haven’t been exposed to it all my life. I feel like I am still not part of the generation of new digital natives who have been born into this rise of technology. The first computer my family purchased was when I was entering middle school, and my first cell phone was halfway through my freshman year in high school. This is a very different to lifestyle of what I see as the new generation, where homes contain computers in almost every room, or kids have cell phones even younger than ten years old. In addition to these differences, the capability of computers now do not compare to the first computer in my home, and the cell phones now have outdated the basic cell that was used for simply making phone calls. The typical cell phone now can do everything my first computer could and better. This shows how fast things have changed in just over ten year, so I have a hard time grasping the idea of how things will be in another ten.

The advances in technology are what have created the categories Marc Prensky describes as native or immigrant. It is made clear that we have to maintain knowledgeable of how to use technology because their s no indication that shows otherwise. Technology is only going to keep progressing, so it has almost become an obligation when functioning in society. Being a first generation American, I have learned to live simple, so the notion of technology has become somewhat of demanding in my opinion.


Buried Questions

Why did you let a woman you barely knew raise me?

Why didn’t you know something was wrong when I never spoke to anyone but myself.

Why did you let us live in a place where women are second class citizens?

Why didn’t you set rules for me?

Why did you let me do all the stupid shit I did when all I really wanted was to spend time with you?

Why didn’t you spend any time with me?

Why didn’t you ever come home?

Why did you drink so much?

Why did you let me see you when you drank?

Why didn’t you teach me how to speak my own language?

Why did you make me deal with my best friends anorexia on my own?

Why didn’t you stop her from manipulating me?

Why did you let me be angry for so long?

Why didn’t you know that I woke up every morning asking why I wasn’t dead yet?

Why didn’t you know I was alone.

Why did you pass on your issues of anxiety?

Why do you let your other daughter talk to us like we are useless?

Why didn’t you learn from your mistakes?

Why didn’t you hear me when I told you something was wrong?

Why didn’t you make me eat healthier?

Why didn’t you know I stole your cigarettes when I was 13 and the only reason I didn’t decide to smoke them was because I didn’t want to be anything like you?

Why didn’t you tell me was going to be hurt so often?

Why didn’t you protect me from myself?

Why didn’t you know I was sick?

Why didn’t you know I was so close to becoming you?

Why don’t you know anything that is going on in my life?

Why can’t you name a single class I have taken in university?

Why do you only call to ask what my GPA is?

Why do you tell me everything that is wrong with me and never mention anything that I do right?

Why do you think that I am still a child when I grew up the second you decided not to take care of me.

Why do you change the subject when I mention something too serious?

Why don’t you talk to me?

Why don’t you see that my life isn’t the same as yours?

Why do you starve yourself?

Why don’t I ever see you smile?

Why am I the only one taking care of our family?

Why won’t you ever be a good role model?

Why are you cheating on mom every Wednesday?

Why are you pretending you don’t know dad is cheating on you?

Why are you always in denial?

Why didn’t you believe me when I said I wasn’t going to come back?

Why do I have to keep reminding myself to stop hoping you will ever change?

Why did you become a parent if you didn’t know what it took to be a good one?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Different Kind of Mexico Spring Break

My first experience with Cuentepec involved a broken-legged puppy and outdoor classrooms separated by thin sheets, waving in the blazing afternoon air. As a group of thirteen privileged students from Los Angeles, our first impression seemed to beg for a stereotype: a rural, indigenous town in Morelos, Mexico where we could make a difference in the impoverished life of its inhabitants. The next five days did more than prove that stereotype wrong.
The goal of an Alternative Breaks trip is to trade a week where most college students would enjoy the comforts of home or wild times in Cabo for an immersive service experience. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts about exchanging a week of relaxation for a different kind of spring break in Mexico. We had been warned that showers would be few to none and sleeping on the floor should be expected. We were also only allowed one traveling backpack, so there was no need to worry about packing matching outfits or expecting a variety in our wardrobe for the week. I also knew that I would be without electronics, essentially cut-off from the outside world. All this I knew, but what I didn’t expect was how little I would care.
The town of Cuentepec met us with open arms and intense curiosity on our first day. We had been taught that smiling and saying a greeting to everyone we passed was the custom, but the intense stares of interest that followed us were certainly telling of the effect our visit had on the town. Most of the inhabitants of Cuentepec speak Nahuat, an ancient language that existed before the Mayans, and are still in the process of learning Spanish. It was only fifteen years ago that a road was built to connect the tiny village to a main road. Therefore, the influx of commercialized products and introduction of wildly different cultures is still new to the shy people of Cuentepec.
Our sleeping accommodations were on the cement floor of the community center where the elementary school had temporarily set up shop while its main building was undergoing repairs. This meant we often woke up at 7:30am to the wide brown eyes of first through fifth graders peeking around the hanging tarp that separated our corner of the center. The first day of our work in Cuentepec was with these understanding souls that I will always remember as never giving up on me and my complete lack of Spanish. We observed many of their classes throughout the day, learned a little Nahuat ourselves, and attempted some English workshops with them. One little fifth grader in particular, Star, the brightest in her class, took an immediate interest in helping me to understand what the other children were trying to say to me in their mixture of Spanish and Nahuat (here they’re already bilingual and still wanting to learn a third language, while most Americans groan over having to take a second language in high school). Star never let go of my hand and always repeated the words slowly and with actions. Our languages finally collided when she asked me about the Jonas Brothers. I replied by singing one of their songs and watched as her eyes lit up, convinced that all of her patience with me had payed off.
The other half of our work in Cuentepec consisted of working alongside the women of the village. All thirteen of us piled into the back of a rickety truck and drove out to the desert to collect bags of clay and cow dung, used for fuel. We were able to collect enough bags to provide the women with up to six months of supplies, saving them the usual two hour walk they would make for only two bags of materials. It was when I was side by side with one of the sixty year old women, kicking over a dried piece of cow dung to check for hiding scorpions that I realized what this trip really meant.
As all of us drug our tired and dirty bodies through customs days later, we weren’t thinking of how privileged we were in America. We weren’t pitying the living conditions of Star or the grandmother of the village, Dona Jose, who made lunch for us in her home everyday. We hadn’t come as a blessing to these people, the only thing that could help them continue on and better their lives. In fact, the people of Cuentepec had given everything to us. We had worked according to their customs and routines that had served them well for decades. We learned bits of their dying language, and were inspired by their strict conservation of water and use of the land. The people of Cuentepec live happy, functional lives that are not bogged down with consumerism or waste. By immersing ourselves in their culture for just one simple week, we had gained perspective and humility. And not for how great we had it back home, but for how much our uneducated, “advanced” country needs to learn. That is the message we felt in our bones as we left the dusty streets of Cuentepec. Not pity, but respect and gratitude.


Monday, March 19, 2012

A Shonagon Moment

To know something that is unfathomable

To express something terrible

To know about something you can’t change

To be sorry about something you can’t change

But wish you could

Something that is strange

Something that is mysterious

Something that makes little sense

Something that can be too short,

But sometimes very long

And yet still unfulfilled

Something peaceful

Something expansive

Something scary

Something we can’t understand

But can sometimes be for the best

To forget about people


And family

To not know people


And family

A thing that is cathartic

A thing that is stressful

A thing that is devastating

A thing that is imminent

Something happy

Something joyful

Something heart wrenching

Something that makes you sadder

Something that makes you feel a little better

Something wonderful

Something beyond

Something perfect

Something that you need

Or what you need it to be

Something endless

Something infinite

Something earned

Something that can be forgotten

Something that is indescribable

Something painful

Something that must happen

Something that takes time

Something everyone goes through

A thing that is irreplaceable

A thing that is soft

A thing that is special

A thing that means so much

A thing that is not a thing at all

But a person

A thing that is small

A thing that is diminished

A thing that is forgotten

A thing that is unsure

Yet ready

A thing that is not a thing at all

But a person

A thing with curly hair

A thing with little hair

Both things thin

One thing young

One thing old

Both things gone

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I am an Onion.

My best friend describes me as an onion. A complicated, pain in the ass, onion. What she really means is that I am made up of layers, and unless you understand all those layers, you can’t ever fully know me. There are hard shells of stone to peel off before you can even begin to see me. Covered by ribbons of doubt, suspicion, and years of broken hope, I stand guarded. I start off shy and quiet, taking in everything around me, analyzing every detail. From there, I determine if it is safe to reveal my next layer, or if I need to stay closed and continue hiding the chaotic mess beneath my smile. Very few people ever get to see the next few layers. They are full of a fierce intensity where a mad woman too colorful and big for society lives. I love and hate with an extreme passion, which can be wonderful to people, but also incredibly scary. At my core I am inappropriate, pessimistic, and have my own very stubborn opinions about almost everything. I don’t fit in a nice little box filled with rainbows and butterflys. I am messy, and heavy, and absolutely all over the place. I am what most would call a difficult person. I cry too much for no reason, am over-protective, and need to be control of everything. For most, those core layers are too exposed, too real. So I hide them with conformity. I pretend to enjoy small talk and act like someone who didn’t have a troubled childhood. I don’t say fuck after every other word, or tell people I think the institutions of marriage and religion are ridiculous, or that I believe psychedelic drugs can open our minds to a world of unbelievable love and connection. And if all that isn’t rough enough, I also I have what most professionals of psychology call ‘Generalized Anxiety Disorder.’ I personally think that is just a fancy way of saying I’m scared of everything.

When we were freshman in university, my best friend witnessed my first anxiety attack. I wanted to control it, to keep her from unraveling another one of my secrets. But I couldn’t hold it back. The entire world rushed into my body and I was left paralyzed. Like stones shoved down my throat, piercing my lungs. I wanted to gasp for air, but it seemed like the act of breathing had always been just an illusion. My hands turned numb and the world started to swallow me up, like it always does. Sometimes I just wait to fall and wonder if this time I won’t have the strength to get back up, but I always do. I don’t even remember what her face looked like when it happened, but I imagine it was full of fear and concern. When it was finally over and the air had rushed back into me, I was able to relax. The moment right before all feeling floods back to my limbs is the only time I ever feel truly free. My friend just stared at me in disbelief. Very few people in my life have ever witnessed what she had, me at my most vulnerable. She soon became immune to my episodes and learned that they were simply my subconscious reminding me I needed some sort of release. Some people have art, some people like to talk, apparently I need to lose all control to finally gain some. She asked me what caused them. The short answer was, “just about everything.” What most people would see as everyday tasks that don’t require a second thought, usually take me a very long internal pep talk to finally start. Driving, going to the store, speaking in class, being touched; they all cause an abnormal, and extremely unhealthy, level of anxiety for me. But people don’t know that. I let people see what they want to see, what is easy for them to see. I stay warm and safe, covered by my layers. I am a complicated, pain in the ass, onion.

Writing Your Song

I don’t know if it’s inspiration that hits or just the breaking of all my attempts to keep my expectations at bay. Words sift through my mind, whispering their presence, begging to be put onto paper, into chords. My fingers start twitching in rhythm, strumming invisible strings. The rational part of me looks to the clock. Is there time? Once I start, the OCD in me won’t let me stop until it is finished. Until I get it all out. The music fades in my head and your picture takes its place. That’s the deal breaker.
The crack in the neck and the backwards strings inspire another groan as I begrudgingly pick up my guitar. I feel the $200 burning away in my wallet, waiting for more before it can be spent on a better one. You’ve played these strings, your calloused fingers swifter and more skilled than mine. You always roll your eyes when it goes out of tune just minutes after you’ve sharpened the flats and flattened the sharps. After you honor my request to play just one song, your veined arms always lengthen, pushing the guitar towards me to reciprocate. Never fails. But I still feel shy and unsteady when I play in front of you, so I bat my eyelashes until you give up and start playing again.
I sit in front of my computer’s glare, hoping no one disturbs me for the next half an hour because to admit you were bringing a song out of me would make me too vulnerable. Others might think I’m falling too fast. I certainly won’t tell you.
The melody that has been itching at me begins to manifest itself onto the strings. An intro, a verse, a struggle to match my voice to the emotions that want to pour out. I want this to be a good one, for you. I toss aside the usual cliche rhymes, the minute details that add a quirk. What I have to say can be put simply this time. I edit, record, edit, re-word until I feel you in it. People have begun to flow into the room, drawn by the familiar humming and broken strums of my songwriting. I blush and say it’s not about you. I cover the screen, lower my voice.
I won’t tell. Because the newness of you is unexplored territory that I want to discover privately, just the melody and I.


Pinterest : Could you define that please?

It’s that usual time between two and four pm. Since my mind can’t encompass any more critical thoughts about poetry and William Wordsworth, and my eyes feel heavy under the stress of reading line after line, my anxious fingers take over. Before I know it, I’m mindlessly surfing This is a site that is still new enough to possibly garner quizzical looks, but is rapidly growing in the world of social media as a new way for visual consumers to create their own self-checklist via the internet.
For those of you still stuck in that quizzical expression, here’s how it works. Pinterest’s mission statement is to “connect everyone in the world through the things they find interesting.” Users simply create an account and “pin” images they find on the web or from other “pinners.” You can then put these “pinned” images into categories for your friends/followers to view on their home page feed. The general goal is a virtual bulletin board where moments of divine inspiration can be stored for all eternity (or at least until you delete your account or the company goes under).

Most males that you ask, if they even know what Pinterest is, will tell you that the site is simply an outlet for women’s fantasies. These could include their future weddings (pinning pictures of wedding dresses, cakes, and rings for when they need to be “reminded” of what they liked in the future), plans for their dream home (pictures of couches, crafts, and paint colors), or fashion tips (pictures of celebrities’ ensembles and hairstyles). Personally, while I find myself pinning the occasional bookshelf or ideal music room for DIY inspiration, I still haven’t been able to rationalize starting the scrapbook of my wedding.

But don’t be too quick to judge the site with all this talk of dream weddings and women drooling over pinned pictures of Ryan Gosling. According to Wikipedia, Pinterest launched in March of 2010, and as of January 2012, 11.7 million users are on the site. This outlet for social image sharing has quickly become the fastest site in history to break through the 10 million user mark, according to comScore. So while you may be thinking about how you don’t need another social media site to check up on and add to your dashboard (trust me, I thought the same thing), if you’re one of those people who enjoy jumping on the bandwagon, now would be the time. Maybe you will actually find some inspiration within those lazy, brief hours of free time. Wouldn’t we all like to think that our fashion sense, workout plan, and cooking could all improve with just a simple “pin?”


Monday, March 12, 2012

Vegas Adventure

It started with a quote from the Hangover

So there... there were two of us in the wolf pack... I was alone first in the pack, and then Doug joined in later. And six months ago, when Doug introduced me to you guys, I thought, "Wait a second, could it be?" And now I know for sure, I just added two more guys to my wolf pack. Four of us wolves, running around the desert together, in Las Vegas, looking for strippers and cocaine. So tonight, I make a toast!”

The next thing we knew, we woke up covered in foam and my friend had a stolen dog in her purse. Just kidding. But that would be pretty crazy night. No, in reality my desert dreams have not even been realized yet. During the past three months the plans have been set in motion for one of the funniest, craziest, and probably most ridiculous spring breaks of my life. In short, yes, the OG house girls are going to Vegas.

Before I divulge much more about how this came to be, you must understand that we girls are not your run of the mill of ladies. Firstly the nickname of our house is the OG house, which stands for both the Original Gangsters and Ogelsby Girls. Secondly, you must know that we live with six girls in a three-bedroom house, and I have my own room. The math is a little ridiculous. Thirdly, the four of us heading on this adventure could very possibly make the results of the Hangover look like the aftermath of a fourth grader’s birthday party. We are a bit...wild. As context, I offer a breakdown of the players in this game:

Baby Ray: A Newly Minted 21 year old, this lady loves partaking in breaking objects when getting wild and borrowing things of interest on adventures. Abandoned shopping carts may or may not have been borrowed for future uses.

Vajenna: A lady of shear class (this is not sarcasm) she has a penchant for pranks. One of her best pranks includes hanging all my bra’s in the front yard foliage, and completely T.P-ing my room. On a side note, mooning is a hobby of hers.

J.Bean: Before this year I had no idea who this girl was but now I can’t imagine how the OG house would function. She has a love of screeching at strangers and kin and has silliest catch phrases I’ve heard in a while. My personal favorite “Silly times a billie”

Me: Seeing as I am writing this I can’t exactly be objective in my description of myself but according to these ladies I am “An instigator. If someone tells her not to do something, she has to do it. She also loves pretending to be a sisterwife” I can’t deny this.

The plan had been hatched in December after our failed attempt at booking a cruise. We had our hearts and hopes set on a Cabo bound destination and found them dashed upon the rocks because of age issues. At first disheartened, we then took the next best, and probably better route of going to Vegas. Now with only hours till we actually leave it’s finally being realized. By next morning we will be making the five some hour drive to Vegas and god help us. Just looking at our pre-Vegas prep list and the Vegas only bucket list, I fear for what may be in store. In short, I’m expecting one of the best times I’ve had over spring break. What will happen? Will Baby Ray get lost like Doug? Is Vajenna Allen? Only time will tell when we finally cross the border into Nevada and are welcomed into the city of sin.