The Crystal

“Strikingly beautiful,” he mumbled, while setting the crystal back on the heavy wooden desk. “And you’re sure it’s magical?”

I have to chuckle, distractedly, still staring at the emerald-and-gold-shimmering rock, that might as well be a huge, beautiful piece of beach glass.

“Yes, it definitely is magical,” I say, still notably distracted.

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“Well… what does it do? Does it like… give you superpowers? Can it freeze time? Can you kill people with it??” he looks so excited, almost spilling his boiling hot coffee he is holding in his scarred hands all over the floor. The image of this huge, burly guy almost hyperventilating because of a little shiny crystal is straight up ridiculous, and I can’t help but laugh.

“It can tell lies from the truth,” I say, quietly, but he hears me. “It’s magical. I know it.”

He hardly looks hyper now, his face turns back to its suspicious nature that I adore so much, and I can tell that he doesn’t quite believe me.

“And how do you know that? I mean… what even… what?

“It had a note with it. In the box I found it in. And it said ‘I will illuminate any lie with the color of lies, lie to me twice and you will die.'”

“Okay. Now wait a second, you want me to believe you that this… chunk… a beautiful chunk, don’t get me wrong. But you’re saying it has magical powers?”

“Yes.”

“And that it can tell lies from the truth?”

“Yes.”

“And that it can kill people???”

“Yes.”

He stares at me for a second, and all his fascination has now left his face completely.

“What the hell Jamie? Are you okay? Did you fall on your head or something? I swear to God…”

“No, Mason, I swear, it works. Just look.”

I pick up the crystal from the desk and put it in my hands, holding it in front of me like a raw egg.

“Okay, I am going to tell it a truth now, and it will recognize it. Just watch.”

I clear my throat, and raise my left eyebrow, like I always do when I am serious about something.

“Crystal. Listen. I’m going to tell you a truth now. Trump is a horrible president.”

The crystal, making no sound, starts glowing brightly and warm, like you would imagine the truth to look like. Mason is staring at it, in disbelief I think, then turns to me, looking a little more fascinated again.

“Okay, now, this is pretty impressive. And good choice on the truth, I gotta agree with the crystal here. But that doesn’t prove anything. Maybe there are batteries in here. I mean, how would this even work? Tell a lie. Show me that it actually works.”

“Well I haven’t tried lying to it yet. I don’t wanna die, you know?”

“You are not gonna die, Jamie. First of all, this is a rock.”

“Crystal.”

“Whatever. What I mean is that it won’t kill you. Besides, you don’t have to lie to it twice, you’ll be fine. Come on.”

“Why don’t you do it then?”

“Okay fine.” He takes the crystal out of my hands, carefully, as if he actually knew how precious it.

“Okay, crystal.” He looks around, making sure no one is watching him. “A lie. A lie. What is a lie?”

“Just say ‘I love Jamie’ or something.”

He looks down to his feet, a little too nervously. “No. Uh, something else.”

“Come on just say it if you can’t think of anything else. ”

He looks at me, a little unsure, then sighs. “Okay. Whatever. Crystal, I love Jamie.”

The crystal lights up again, green and warm. I stare at it, not knowing what to think. I is green. It is warm. It is true? “You love me.” I say, still staring at the brightly glowing crystal. “You love me.”

“No, no I don’t. It doesn’t work. It’s broken. That’s it. It’s broken.” He looks nervous. Of course. He loves me, I had no idea. “You love me.” What do I do? I need to tell him. I need to tell him now. I grab the crystal out of his hands, holding it tight. He is just staring at me, probably just as overwhelmed as me.

“Crystal,” I say, with trembling voice, “Crystal, I don’t love Mason.”

The crystal begins to glow again, but differently than before. It is red, dark, and cold blue inside. It’s a lie. It works. It knows. I love him. I always have. I had no idea he loved me too.

“Jamie–”

Before he can say anything, I grab his head and kiss him, the crystal pressed against our chests.

Everything feels green and golden and warm. It feels like truth, it feels like love.

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The Realization of Equestrian

Sometimes things don’t go the way we planned.

Over the weekend, I went with my school to a Pony Club mega rally for the first show of 2018. I was so excited. I’ve been riding my horse, Time, for weeks in preparation, and every single time I jumped he had been a saint.

This weekend was different. It shattered any self confidence I had in my riding skills when Time threw me off over a simple cross rail in the warm up arena and bruised my back so much that it currently hurts to breathe as I’m sitting here trying to do my homework after waking up at four am every morning this weekend to get to the show grounds.

I had fallen off just the day before when my horse stopped right in front of a jump. Now, I have to admit that it was my fault that I was in two-point way too early, but that’s besides the point. Not a single scratch was on me, and I shook off the dirt from my helmet, got back on, and finished the course I was set out to do.

Photo Credit: Jerry Mohme Photography

However, that was not the case on Saturday. When I hit the ground, I was certain that if I moved even just an inch my body would shatter into pieces and I’d be sent to the hospital in an ambulance. I couldn’t get up for minutes, until I was rolled onto my back, then I stood up, and I slowly walked foot by foot back to my stall without even getting to do that course.

I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to ride the next day either, and that weeks of training would’ve gone to waste. But the next day I ended up getting back on my horse and started jumping, and though my entire body was shaking every time I thought my horse would refuse a jump, we ended up clearing both courses.

But I guess there’s both pain and pleasure in horseback riding. There’s the sense of accomplishment when you jump a new height or when your horse comes to say hi to you and nuzzles his nose into the palm of your hand when he thinks you have treats. But there’s also the hours of pain whenever you fall off or when a horse steps on your foot. There’s the moments of self-degradation whenever you see a person with better position or better clothes, and the constant thoughts that plague your mind thinking that you’ll never be as good as them.

I’m not going to lie and say that my confidence in my jumping is back, because it’s not, and I don’t think it will be anytime soon (or, at least, until all the bruises go away), but it was a learning experience to some extent.

I’m going to fall off, and probably more times than I wish, and I’ll get back up, and fall and get back up, and that’ll keep happening, but I’ll still continue riding until I no longer can.

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Are We Doing Enough?

Are we doing enough?

Truly, take a moment to think about this, I’m not rushing you. I really want you to think about it.

Have you ever thought about those in other countries who carry barrels of water up to their communities that are engufled in deep or even extreme poverty?

Or have you ever thought about how some parents wake up at four in the morning, dress in their culturally traditional clothes, and walk miles, barefoot, to try and sell their country’s knick-knacks in the hot, crowded streets just to make enough to put the bare minimum amount of food in their children’s mouths?

 

Photo Credit: borgenproject.org

 

Well, on the trip that I took to Peru last week there were many of these women, these strong women, who dealt with the hardships of living in poverty, working ruthless jobs, and supporting a family most likely larger than yours.

When people think of Peru, what comes to their mind is almost definitely Machu Picchu, this is what came to my mind too, before I was able to experience what it was really like and how much I had gone my whole life without knowing.

Though the culture and history of every single city in that unique country is beyond stunning, and the intelligence of the Incans in incomprehensible, there is so much more to the country than meets the eye.

The levels of poverty in the city make Peru the third poorest country in South America, as poverty consumes up to a fifth of the country that hosts up to almost 32 million people.

Women sell handicrafts on the street, while men leave their families to work in the mines, in order to help support the ones they love. The houses are made out of makeshift materials all leaning up against each other, and the children bake in the hot sun and swim in puddles when the rainy seasons come, without even a pair of rubber boots to help them.

Though many people struggle to live like this, they are okay. They are happy. Their smiles grace their aged faces as they accept you into their community. The meaning of family extends to anyone in the community, and everyone takes care of each other.

 

Photo Credit: peruempireofhiddentreasures.files.wordpress.com

 

The happiness is far greater than that you see in the United States, with spoiled children presenting their parents with scowls signifying them not receiving the gift they had wanted.

These Peruvians live off of barely enough to get by, but they are happy, while we are here wallowing in our own pity with enough money to share.

So I ask myself, “Why are we not helping them and others in the world?” “Why are we not putting more effort into decreasing the levels of poverty throughout the world?”

I ask myself,

“Are we doing enough?”

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NYC Memories

Contrasting the small, quaint towns where I’ve grown up in California, New York City was a breath of fresh, exciting air with life awaiting at the end of every corner walked.

My first night in New York was magical. I arrived around 10 at night, and looking out the window I was in awe of all the city lights illuminated in the distance. I couldn’t see all of them yet, but I knew they’d be tall and magical.

The cab ride was no different. With the hood of the roof of the taxi cab rolled back, I felt small as I saw the bright city lights tower over me, skyscraper after skyscraper appeared for the whole hour of driving until we arrived at our Airbnb in Greenwich Village.

At 12:30 we finally headed outside for dinner, and every restaurant was open. At TWELVE THIRTY at night, every restaurant was open, while in Santa Barbara anywhere but a bar is usually closed by 10 pm at the latest. You’re lucky if anything is open in LA.

But New York City is just filled with amazing life and even more amazing food. Every single restaurant I went to had artichokes, and I love artichokes. It’d be a miracle if I found them at a restaurant excluding Sea Fresh and Cheesecake Factory in California.

But that’s just one food item. We ate at a different restaurant every single night. From small vintage American diners playing 2000’s throwbacks to luxurious, high-end Italian restaurants or steakhouses, every place was delicious.

But one place that sticks out in my mind is BlackTap. The small, bar-seated burger place only fit thirteen people. The place had an hour long line, but when we refused to wait and came back a calmer day, we finally understood why the place was so popular. The food was phenomenal, but the true wow factor of the place was their milkshakes.

Photo Credit: thebrunchboys.com

The milkshakes were insane. From cookies supreme to the birthday shake, these shakes towered over the cups they were put in with overdoses of sugar and sweetness. I had a cookies & cream shake which left me in a sugar coma for the rest of the day.

Though most of my memories of NYC occurred in a restaurant, there are so many more that they’d be difficult to count on my fingers and toes, but I’ll name a few.

The Saturday after we arrived, I eagerly ran over to Washington Square Park from the place I was staying to participate in a massive pillow fight on National Pillow Fight Day. Hundreds of people piled into the park with pillows in their hands and grins on their faces in a fight to the “death” in a friendly, but intense, pillow fight. It was one of the purest experiences I ever had the privilege to take part in. Feathers exploded into the air, laughter silenced the playful screams, and pillows were thrown.

I did many more things in New York City. I walked around the city so much that my feet had blisters that hurt to the point that I’m still limping now (it was worth it), I visited three universities and absolutely fell in love with NYU, and I explored every inch of Times Square. However, by far my favorite were the three broadway shows I went to.

First I went to the Book of Mormon. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I didn’t listen to the soundtrack prior to going, but the performance exceeded my expectations. First, it was the most hilarious show I had ever been to. It was completely satirical about the Mormon faith, but it was executed perfectly with amazing acting, and catchy songs that are still stuck in my head. However, the musical is highly offensive so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone highly religious or offended easily by extreme stereotypes, but it’s definitely worth paying the money to go see.

The day after I went to go see Kinky Boots. The night before I had a midlife crisis because my NYU tour and Kinky Boots show were planned at the same time. I shouldn’t be melodramatic, but when my aunt told me that they’d just go see Kinky Boots without me, I almost died. I had been excited about that show for months, and I had been dying to go see it since Brendon Urie starred in it. Thankfully, we were able to exchange our tickets for the night performance and I was able to experience the magic of Kinky Boots. I had heard nothing but positive reviews, and when I went to the show I left happier than ever. It was original, unique, and just saying, those men walk better in six inch heels than I ever will.

Photo Credit: thegreenspace.org

Completely last minute, my Aunt and I headed into Times Square and snatched last minute seats to The Lion King. Somehow ending up in the seventh row of the center orchestra, I was ready for three hours to experience one of the most iconic shows on Broadway. I was shocked how much effort was put into the show. The costume design was crazy. I didn’t know where to look during the opening number when people dressed head to toe in animal costumes walked down the aisles singing the Circle of Life while walking onto the stage. Everything about all these shows was amazing.

I could go on about my trip in New York for hours, but this is just a glimpse of it, and I am dying to be back there soon.

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red hoods

I.

you remember me as a pensive, emotional soul.

you remember the intricate, twisty inner-workings of my mind.

you were always “there” for me when i needed you.

that’s why it took me so long.

maybe i was so used to the comfort of your shadow

that it never dawned on me to leave it.

i deserve the shine you always used to get.

it’s been hard accepting some of it now,

now that you’re gone.

you still pop up every now and then,

but the pain you bring is only temporary.

thank god.

II.

we never were close.

but, you and i learned to

live with each other.

we got wrapped up in our long conversations,

laughing at the carefully placed jokes.

but, you’re a hard pill to swallow,

the fact that i’ll never be enough for you.

cool enough.

funny enough.

kind enough.

enough.

so, even if it’s hard for me now,

i just have to take a deep breath,

close my eyes,

and force myself to take you in.

III.

you’re a sheep in wolf’s clothes.

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

your little red riding hood is enough to

hide your long, wiry fur,

your sharp, gutting claws.

i’m just a cookie in your basket,

as you skipped along the pebbly path

to grandma’s house.

i’m just tired of falling out

and you letting me crumble to pieces.

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prom

the dresses flowed endlessly like water through a river,

curls bounced up and down,

and faces were perfected with more makeup than let on.

i didn’t think this night would end up how it did,

with myself falling more in love with you.

as i stared across the room my eyes landed on you,

sitting with others whom you don’t know quite yet, but you soon will.

you’re not how i though you would be,

you’re different.

but different is good.

i don’t know what it is about you,

your eyes, smile, or personality that captures me every time.

it’s something that makes me stumble over my words and lose track of my thoughts

it’s something that makes me want to know you better,

figure out all the great things about you;

it’s something that is just as special as you.

 

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

 

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Pissage off

If I hear just one more person saying that “horseback riding isn’t an actual sport,” I will literally rip out their eyeballs and stuff them in their ignorant mouths. Maybe not literally, okay, but seriously, figuratively.

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I don’t think I can handle another baseball or golf squirt trying to explain to me that “the horse does all the work,” because all I do is “sit on it.” Well okay, Richard, I don’t really see you doing much exercise when you walk along next to your caddie. Have you ever tried even holding a horse, a living being that weighs like a thousand pounds and usually really isn’t in the mood for cooperation? I bet your baseball bat doesn’t step on your feet ten times a day.

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And how about the fact that riding horses literally consists of trying to control a usually gigantic flight animal that could probably kill you if it really wanted to, and to do so you literally have to use every single muscle you posses in your tired, half dead body? Then try doing that for like an hour a day, without getting 100% frustrated, or, you know, dying.

But you’re right. It’s not a sport. My bad.

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