My mom has Leukemia and I am not okay.

Last Thursday started out as a normal day for me. I got up (late, as usual)  and got ready for class. At 11 I had section for an ethical reasoning class I’m taking. As I was leaving my dorm, I glanced down at my phone and noticed a missed call, voicemail, and text from my mom. I quickly dialed the familiar number, thinking she just wanted to talk and that the pressing news could be dealt with during my 7 minute walk to class.

Ten seconds in to the phone call, before I even got 50 feet away from my dorm, my mom told me she had bene diagnosed with acute Leukemia.

I was shocked. 54. My mom is 54. How could she have Leukemia? How could something like this happen to her? Happen to us? My immediate reaction was to cry. And scream. And collapse. Luckily, my roommate happened to leave our room moments after I did and was able to intercept me and bring me back to our room.

When you find out news like that, it’s as if your world is moving at a million miles a minute and not moving at all at the same time. So much is rushing through your head. Will she die? What about my dad? What about my brothers? What are we going to do about hospital bills? What about my classes? I need to take off time from school. I need to make sure my brothers are eating and doing well in their classes still. Your mind flips through all of these trivial matters and then it lands back on a single fact: your mom has cancer, and there is a 50% chance that she is going to be dead soon.

You close your eyes and try to calm yourself down, but the image your brain keeps playing is one of the big guy flipping a coin in front of your very eyes. Heads up, she lives. Tails up, you’ve lost the person you love the most.

People you haven’t talked to in months, even years start texting and face booking and calling. And although you feel like there are so many people around who seemed so concerned, their condolences and offerings make you feel even more depressed and scared, because their attempts to comfort you merely remind you that the one person who never fails to comfort you might be dead soon. And that’s scary as hell.

You don’t want to talk about it. Talking about it makes it real. If you talk about it, you think about it. If you think about it, you cry about it. You’re in class and the smallest triggers set you off, leaving you balling in your math section.

No matter what you do, you can’t shake it: your mom has Leukemia and you are most certainly not okay.

Long time, no see // Never peak

Ahh. It’s been a while.

Since I last posted, I’ve graduated from high school and was accepted to the college of my dreams. I’m so beyond pumped. After spending months of laboring over applications, my hard work paid off. To any rising seniors: keep pushing yourself. If you work hard enough, your dreams will come true. In this post I’m including an excerpt from my valedictory address. I think it brings up some valid points and is similar to my usual topics. I’ve omitted the parts with my personal information (the world wide web can be a scary, scary place ladies and gents), so I apologize if it doesn’t exactly make sense.

*enter emotional introduction thanking everyone here*

As for my speech, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to talk about this evening. To stand before you all as your valedictorian is a great honor. I didn’t want an opportunity like this to go to waste. I must have asked a dozen people what I should write my speech on. One answer in particular struck a chord within me. “You should write about something nostalgic. These four years will be the best times of your life.” The best times of our lives. Yes, Class of 2015. If what I was told is true, we have peaked at seventeen and eighteen years old. Congrats. We did it. We’re the best we’ll ever be. Class of 2015 I refuse to believe or accept that. I have spent four amazing years with you all. I am so proud to be a part of this class and this school.

*enter awesome senior class accomplishments, everyone gets nostalgic*

These four years have been incredible to say the least. I know that when look back, I will be nothing but grateful; grateful for the time and energy that this community, these teachers, and this school have put in for us and humbled that I was given the opportunity to be a part of it all. But as amazing as these four years have been, I do not want them to be my best. I don’t want them to be our best. My wish for us is that we never peak. I don’t want to peak in high school, I don’t want to peak in college, I don’t want to peak in my career. Ladies and gentlemen, life is one mountain that you should never want to summit. My wish for us is that we keep climbing. That each day we wake up and say “how can I be better? How can I make this world a better place?” I hope that we wake up every day with the years we spent here in the back of our minds, reminding us of the necessity of moving forward. I want us to push forward for our teachers. For those who can’t be with us.  For every newborn in the community. After all it’s our job to make this world a better place for them. Above all, I want us to know that wherever life takes us we have a home in —- County and we have a family in this school.  To the Class of 2015 and the many prosperous classes to follow: Never peak, keep climbing.

There you have it, folks. Never peak.

Green Zone

Monday morning media. As I was flipping through the channels, I discovered a film, Green Zone. I had never seen it, so I decided to give it a shot. Matt Damon is a huge inspiration and role model of mine (I suppose the fact that he’s incredibly good looking is a plus, too.) The movie is great, highly recommend if you’re into war/action/drama films, but the one line that really got me was in a conversation between our protagonist Miller (aka Matt Damon) and bureau chief Martin Brown (aka Brendan Gleeson aka Mad-Eye Moody from Harry Potter).

“There are no easy answers. If you want that, go work with Poundstone. All we got is hard choices.”

Martin Brown says this line in response to an inquiry of Chief Miller’s. It hit me hard. In life, all too often there are no easy answers or straight path. Sometimes we’re left standing with our hands tied. There will always be situations when we’re forced or expected to make tough calls.

The real question is, how do we make those tough shots? When the lines are blurred beyond recognition how do we decide between what is morally right and what is necessary? I’m not sure. In politics, in relationships, in our everyday lives we will always have tough choices to make. The one thing I know is that we must follow our instincts and not sacrifice our own moralities. Go. Make your tough choices, but don’t forsake yourself while doing so.

Iron Sky

How has it been over a month since I lasted posted? It’s crazy how time flies. The good news is that I have officially completed all of my college applications and related forms! Today is a day for celebration indeed. In an essay I wrote for one of my applications, I referenced a favorite quote of mine. After submitting the essay I was prompted to write this post. There is a song entitled “Iron Sky” by Paolo Nutini. Here is the link to a video of his LIVE Abbey Road Session.

I discovered the song listening to my Hozier Spotify station. With Paolo Nutini’s incredible voice, moody and passionate instrumentals, and an excerpt from Charlie Chaplin’s speech in his film, The Great Dictator, the song just has a provocative feel about it. In case you haven’t seen Chaplin’s film or know anything about Chaplin and his work, he was a famous comedian of the silent film era. The Great Dictator is in many respects considered to be his first film with real sound and dialogue. Released in October of 1940, Chaplin wrote, acted in, produced, and directed the film. He received five Academy Award Nominations and spent over two years just writing the supposed 300 page script. You must understand the controversy and critique Chaplin faced in releasing such a film. Although the United States wasn’t at war at the time of the release (remember, we enter after the attack on Pearl Harbor December of 1941), we were very much world presence. Despite the financial risk, Chaplin made a mockery of one of the most powerful world leaders.

A quick aside: – Chaplin was born a mere four days before Hitler in April of 1889 – both sported a “toothbrush” mustache – Hitler and Chaplin came from poverty and rose to infamy and fame, respectively, on their ability to connect with the masses These coincidences only add to the intrigue of the film.

Looking at Hitler and Chaplin, each a mastermind in his own right, we must question what made either of them choose the path they did. Why did Chaplin use his gift to spread laughter or Hitler to ensue murder? Do not be mislead, dear readers, I do not mean to pair the two together for direct comparison or association. My intent is simply to pose a question of morality. What makes us do what we do, and why?

“Iron Sky” toys with this subject. Nutini urges his audience to rise over fear and break through this iron sky. It’s about politics and humanity. It’s about power and control, how each of us deals with and reacts to it.

This post isn’t as in depth as I would like it to be. All of this is simply my speculation. Regardless, I implore you to ask yourself what iron sky is holding you down? How are you chained?  Chaplin had to triumph over his fear by creating one of the most amazing films of its decade. He risked his reputation and finances simply to give a message to his audience. Hitler created an iron sky and chains for tens of thousands of people, thus choosing fear. Make 2015 the year when you realize your deepest fears and conquer them. Break through your iron sky.

Poetry is good for the soul.

Ah, yes. Poetry. If love were a writing style, poetry it would be. I believe my favorite part about poetry is that a single piece can contain a million different meanings to a million different people. Poetry has the power to provoke feeling and thought in even the most withdrawn individuals.

Poetry has gotten me through a lot in my life. Every person deals with adversity or struggle differently, and I happen to deal with my own through art. Whenever something has happened in my life of any significance, I’ve always turned to my pen to deal with and describe it. The ability to put my feelings on something concrete makes them more real and allows me to approach situations in the best mindset possible. The fact that I know I can hold on to my thoughts and feelings forever is incredibly romantic to me, and I only wish others can find a love for writing and poetry as I have. It’s honestly quite something.

This brings me to the topic at hand: scholarships. I know what you’re thinking. How do these two mix? As a high school senior and college applicant about to venture out into the world, I’ve come to realize just how much money can impact one’s life. I’m a natural born dreamer, but even dreamers have to pay the bills. My family is not particularly endowed or entitled, and because of this, I do have superior budgeting skills. Even my talents can not sail my through undergrad alone, however, and thus I have taken it upon myself to start applying for scholarships. (Within the next few weeks I intend on writing a separate post solely about scholarships, just a head’s up)

In my search, I came across a spectacular website: http://www.powerpoetry.org. After finding this site, I have to admit I spent an embarrassing amount of time just reading through contributions. I can’t believe I’ve lived the past seventeen years without this site in my bookmarks!

For those who love poetry, the site is great because you have the opportunity to read so many different styles from all different kinds of people. For college hopefuls who love to write poetry, the site offers incredible opportunities to make submissions and win scholarships. For anyone who loves to explore new works of art, especially raw, heartfelt work – this is the place for you.

Essentially, a topic is posted and anyone can upload their own poem. A new topic is added every couple of months. If you’ve never written poetry before, I recommend you try it, or at least visit the site. If you ask me, the majority of our nation’s problems could probably be solved if we all spent a little more time devoted to art and truly representing ourselves in the most natural and pure way possible.

College applications.

Yes, yes, yes. College applications. High school seniors across the United States are rushing to finish essays, gather recommendations, and piece together impressionable applications representative of their capabilities as students.

I’ve finally joined this crowd, and honestly, it’s nothing like I expected. I’m a strong student, I’m passionate about learning, and I’m a diligent worker. When it came time to fill out applications, though, I found myself feeling like I’d spent these past seventeen years doing absolutely nothing.

Do you know how terrifying it is to fill out an application that is “supposed” to encompass your entire existence and aspirations and find it can be surmised in 9 pages? It’s horrifying.

I have respectable scores, grades, and extracurriculars. I haven’t been given many opportunities or guidance since I’m from a very rural town. I’ve spent most of my years shooting in the dark, so to speak. It’s quite intimidating to find out the school you dream of attending sees over 30,000 applications each year, and of those, only accepts seven percent. The scariest part? Just about every single one of those applicants has an outstanding academic history or extremely endowed.

My advice to applying for students from low income, rural parts of the US? Don’t be so self-conscious. Looking back at the applications I’ve already submitted and to the applications I’ll be submitting within the upcoming months, I can’t help but wonder if I’m taking this all too seriously.

This is meant to be a fun process. You’re deciding where you want to spend the first four years of your life as a legal adult. It’s a big deal, but you’re supposed to have fun with it. I’ve worried so much about whether or not I’d get in to the schools I’m applying to that I sometimes wonder if my own anxiety will stop admissions directors from seeing the person applying.

Summary? I’ve only watched videos and read articles, so I’m not an expert in the application process, but I’d say not to worry so much. These admissions directors know what they’re doing. They’re job is to select students that would work well at their respective institutions. If you get accepted, great. If you don’t, it is no reflection on who you are as a person or what you can achieve. (Or at least this is what I’m telling myself.)

I can testify to the fact that if you truly want to succeed and make a difference in this world you can, regardless of your background or what university you attend. I’m from a very small high school with limited course options and teachers with practically no resources, yet I’ve still managed to get what I feel is a solid education and good test scores.

Lastly, don’t focus so much on the college, but rather, your field of study. What are you passionate about? Why do you want to go to a particular college? College is about finding out who you want to become and hopefully getting an education to help you achieve your dreams. Success finds the passionate naturally.

I was born in the wrong decade.

The other night I was scrolling through Netflix exploring my entertainment options when I came across a documentary on the Eagles. I was intrigued.

“History of the Eagles.” After reading the short blurb about the film, I decided to watch a few minutes of it just to see what it was really about.

I love music. The only genre I don’t listen to is scream-o/heavy metal. If you were to steal my beloved iPhone and scroll through my playlists, you’d come across Frank Sinatra and Beethoven along with Drake and CCR or Coldplay and the Arctic Monkeys. When I say I listen to everything, I mean it. I have a strong passion for the arts: music, poetry, paintings, three-dimensional masterpieces, literature. I love it all. I may prefer some works over others, but at the end of the day, I appreciate every piece simply because it is art. Art is romantic and provoking and powerful. What’s not to love?

My first CD was a greatest hits album of Eric Clapton’s, and at 8 years old it was my most prized possession. I would play it over and over and over again. As I grew older, I learned to love classic rock. With that expansion came my love for the Eagles.

There are so many artists and songs that it would be impossible to expose myself to it all, however, I try to listen to as much as I can. Unfortunately, this leaves little time for me to actually learn the story behind the music. And that is simply tragic. The story behind the music, the reasons why it was made and the influences an artist feels are really what makes a piece so extraordinary and truly transcendent of time and space.

I had known the Eagles experienced many trials and tribulations through their existence, but I never knew how many until watching the documentary. It never occurred to me the power Glenn Frey and Don Henley had and what amazing musicians they are. By watching the documentary, for the first time I really got to see which artists helped develop the Eagles and what obstacles the band faced.

If you have any passion for music and rock and roll, I highly recommend the documentary.

What shocked me the most was how the band evolved and withstood the tests of time. When you look at the Eagles albums, you can see how the group has changed. This partially had to do with the exchange of band members I’m sure, but mainly can be attributed to just time in general.

I could talk on and on about the documentary itself and the history of the Eagles, but honestly, I feel it’s something you should watch for yourself.

So what can we learn from this? What do we take away? That we all should’ve gotten the opportunity to live through the 70’s? Yes, we should’ve.  It’s not fair that we all didn’t get a chance to live through those glory days. What I’ve decided to take away from this is nostalgia and the acceptance and embracement of change. The Eagles, with Don Henley and Glenn Frey at its core, knew that to last forever and to truly be a legend band that it would have to somehow evolve and change without losing its integrity. I think we all experience this pressure to change and evolve. So many of us abandon ourselves to join the wave.

Change is funny.

Summary: my soul mate is a young Don Henley, afro and aviators in all, the Eagles are one of the best bands of all time, change and time don’t have to be destructive, and time flies, so it’s best to embrace the moments while we have them.

Oh, to be seventeen.

Hello, blog world.

After much internal debate, I’ve decided to begin blogging. Let me be clear: I am not blogging because I think other people care about what I have to say (I’m seventeen, people. No one honestly cares what a seventeen year old thinks.), but because maybe someone somewhere out in this big world is thinking and feeling what I’m thinking and feeling, and maybe if they read this blog they might feel a little less alone. Isn’t that what life is all about, anyways? Living life and surrounding yourself with people who make you a better individual and make you feel a little more whole inside?

With this being said, I feel as though I owe it to you to give a little background information on myself. I live in a quaint, little island in Florida with my parents and two younger brothers. As a seventeen year old, I am currently in the process of finding myself/getting into college/planning my future/trying not to implode.

Quite honestly, I’ve never written much for myself, it’s always been for other people. I’ve always written for classes or teachers or projects. So this entire blog thing is entirely foreign. I’m going to give it my best shot, though.

I hope to encompass naive thoughts, opinions, personal experiences, and much, much more in this blog, and I hope that you stick along for what is about to be a crazy ride.