Ride the Wind

As i sit and watch the trees

The leaves flow in the breeze

The leaves flow going wherever they are taken

Free to float without a care

i wish to live like that

As i sit and watch to realine

i sit and think about the birds

They live their life as i live mine

The beautiful bluejays

Not a care in the world

Riding the wind with the leaves

What is it like?

Living those days

But now i wonder,

What if i was one of their kind

Where would i go

What will i see

i wonder how

How would i feel

What would i enjoy

Will i get to ride the wind

With the leaves in the breeze

And the bluejays

flying for days

Do i want that

Im happy with this

i like to sit and watch

But now I wonder,

What if i could ride the white ferrari

on the skyline 

to the nights of another place

See a new face

As i sit and watch 

the leaves flow in the trees

i think about a place

That tells a story

Where people have come and gone

But i create that bond

i wonder if i can find that place 

As the birds fly with grace.

a quick view into a Frozen Dream

The igloo that I inhabit is purely built out of ice. Blocks of ice stacked on top of one another until they create a dome that only raises about 3 feet off the ground. Before I assembled the dome, I had dug a pit that was about 3 feet deep into the frozen crust, under where I would eventually build my icy dome.

I had finished my igloo project, filling it with a deer and bear skin bed along with a small, vintage wood stove. Although the wood stove did little for me on the treeless coast of Greenland, I got creative and burned the oil collected from the fish I caught. I also brought with me a huge collection of Dura-logs which would sustain me for my stay in Greenland.

Every night I clung to the skins that entrapped my body in a cocoon of unsatisfactory temperatures, not cold enough to freeze but not warm enough to not question why in hell I would leave the Southern Californian bliss to come to the frozen tundra of despair.

But what made it all worth it was my constant adventure of navigating extreme winter conditions and the amazing art that lives and breathes in this magical place. My mornings consisted of sitting up and rotating 90 degrees to my heater where I boil coffee. The warm liquid slipped down my throat, heating my insides. My usual days consisted of taking an extremely long time to slip myself into the thick snow gear. Fur lined my hood and tickled my windburned cheeks as I crawled through the tunnel of ice that leads in and out of my igloo. From there I set off on the deserted icy planes, passing the occasional seal, with the intention of continuing my photography collection on the yearly migrating walruses.

image found on Pinterest


Deciding

As colleges acceptances come to a close, I am left with a mere thirty days to decide where I want to spend the next four years.

Based on circumstances I can’t remember, I have narrowed it down to two colleges. One of prestige, and one of comfort.

Now I must decide, do I go to a school the size of a small town with a bumper sticker name, or a smaller school a step up from high school? As I gravitate towards the larger school, another big one comes in to play.

The final college decision letter. What was originally my top choice (though now I’m unsure) will now be competing with my new, other top choice.

There are two outcomes to this situation. Either they reject me and I’m disappointed, though my decision is made easier. Or I am accepted, and I now must choose.

I can’t decide which is harder. Though subconsciously, I know which choice is right.

Image Credit: UCLA Newsroom

Women Issues

Today in the United States, women make 82 cents to their male counterparts 1 dollar. Then this is broken down into different races and ethnicities. “Black and Hispanic women workers are paid only 65 cents and 58 cents on the dollar, “stated epi.org. “Compared with 81 cents for white, non- Hispanic women workers and 90 cents for Asian women.” Inequalities between different races and ethnicities between women are also so different. Women who are white and Asian get a step higher than those who are Hispanic and black. Women are treated like shit still to this day.

We can not leave our houses without protection- pepper spray, knives, tasers, and more. We fear our lives; wondering if we are going to be killed, sexually assaulted, or raped. We are scared of our shadow and men. When we say all men, we do not mean all men, but we do not know who will hurt us and who will not.

The Pink tax exists. Products that are geared towards women and females are marked up higher than products that are the same but are geared towards men. This makes feminine products more expensive and harder to buy. Menstrual products are expensive, and these products should be free. Every person who experiences menstruation should be able to have these products for free.

photo credit: Indy100

Media and Society pick women apart for their bodies, thus creating lots of body dysmorphia in women and teens today. If someone is not the perfect hourglass figure or what society deems as skinny, then they are considered fat or overweight. They could be healthy and still be deemed overweight, and this could cause lots of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. But if someone is too skinny, then society comments on their weight as well. Society and the media love commenting on women’s bodies.

Speaking on commenting on women’s bodies brings up the topic of abortions. Men love commenting about women and what they should do with their bodies. There are laws set in place against women having abortions, such as the gestation limits. This law states that “43 states prohibit abortions, generally except when necessary to protect the women’s life or health, after a specific point in pregnancy, ” (guttmacher.org). These laws are made by men who try and restrict women and their bodies.

Women all over the world experience inequality.

Bibliography

“An Overview of Abortion Laws.” Guttmacher Institute, 1 Mar. 2021, http://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/overview-abortion-laws#.

Gould, Report • By Elise. “What Is the Gender Pay Gap and Is It Real?: The Complete Guide to How Women Are Paid Less than Men and Why It Can’t Be Explained Away.” Economic Policy Institute, http://www.epi.org/publication/what-is-the-gender-pay-gap-and-is-it-real/.

Traveling Around

Oh the places we’ll go 

Oh the places we’ll see 

Oh the treasures you’ll bring back to me

We bring a piece of back home

From sea to shining sea

Our domestic adventures

Up the coast to the mysterious monterey bay

To the salt flats of Utah

Whether it’s the Rocky Steps in the old capital of the country

Up down, and all around we’ll go

Back to your old home

Showing us your favorite spots and how the city has changed

Or visiting a family friend

Our journey is nowhere near the end

We go where you take us

We go back home to Rome

To explore Venice

Just a drive from Salzburg

To hear the Sound of Music

The forests in China

The Pandas sitting in peace

The terracotta warriors from an ancient time

The towering buildings from shanghai to New York

Your adventures in the costa rican jungle

To mine in la Sagrada Familia

And exploring the glaciers and black sand of Iceland

No matter where we go we bring a piece back home

Routine

I have conditioned my cat.

Her treats stay in the top drawer of my dresser, along with folded clothes. When I open the drawer, the handle bounces against the wood, making a clanging noise. Each time I hear it, she comes running in anticipation of treats.

Now comes the balance.

I worry to open the drawer for clothes, for fear of her conditioning wearing off. If she does not get treats when she hears the clanging, she may begin to unlearn her conditioned response. She will stop running to me, and I will have lost my leverage.

If I want her to come over, I open the drawer. Though, if I open it for clothes instead of treats, I feel obligated to give her what she wants. I wonder if it’s mean of me to tease her – even if I don’t mean it. She doesn’t know the difference.

I now find her trying to open the drawer herself. One day she will. And that day I will move the bag of treats. And the conditioning process will begin once more.

Trying to get her treats

Najin and Fatu

Some of you might know about the case of the northern white rhino. Today there are just two individuals left on this planet, and they are both females named Najin and Fatu, mother and daughter. For decades scientists have tried to figure out how they can save this species from extinction. I have followed this case for many many years and last week I received great news. Scientists were finally able to create five embryos of a northern white rhino in a lab. What they did is they collected eggs from the two females and then took semen from a deceased male northern rhino to create an embryo. They have now implanted one of the embryos into one of the females and they are being monitored every day to see if the embryo is making progress in growth and is healthy. 

This is a huge success and with it, we might be able to save this beautiful species from extinction. The two rhinos are located in northern Kenya and have 24/7 protection from 6 armed guards. Poaching has pushed this species to the brink of extinction. Humans and wildlife are getting into more and more conflicts due to our constant human population growth. Wildlife has less and less space to live and many species are poached, decreasing their numbers even more.

When I got the news that they have successfully created northern white rhino embryos I was filled with joy because it means that our future generations might be able to witness the beauty of these creatures. 

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/environment/ct-northern-white-rhino-embryos-20180704-story.html

If you love them, let them go…

At one point or another in your life you are told “if you love something let it go, and if it was meant to be it will come back to you.” It is a statement told to help someone usually adjust to the loss of something loved that is beyond your control. In theory it all makes sense, but you never want to have to tell yourself to abide by that concept.

I never really understood the meaning of that until I found myself fighting to keep someone in my life. Every day I would struggle to watch them drift away. I would think, how could someone that I love so dearly, and who claims to love me equally, simply fade away. I decided to simply let them go, because in reality, or as the saying goes, “if it was meant to be it will come back to you.” So that is simply what I decided to do.

At first, hours passed, the days, then weeks. The pain was real and it felt all so very fresh. like a deep wound that took ages to heal. Then eventually months began to pass, and I felt whole again, even without my dearly loved person. I accepted their leaving, I never understood it, but I accepted it and I considered that good enough.

I felt whole again, even though I was missing a piece. But after the hours, days, weeks, and months had passed a wave of emotions came back into my mind. I felt the need to reach out, to check-in, just to see how they were. But I had to remember that I let them go so I simply put it in the back of my mind.

That was until I received a message. The person who I loved so dearly came back. Did that happen because I simply let them go, or was it because it was indeed meant to be?

So maybe the age old saying isn’t wrong? Maybe if you really do love something and you let it go, it will eventually come back to you?

Ode to the Night

Everything I have is nothing I need

Black as black can be

It holds the secrets of the past

And the mysteries of the future

The pearled sky flickers

Stars embroidered on the black fabric of the night

The cool wind whips the trees

The scent of a nearby campfire lingers

You hear the toads and crickets mingling in the darkness

The beasts of the obscurity out to hunt

Slowly the night becomes no more

The flare of day rises

Then you realize 

Everything I see is everything I need

Celebrating College

As if this time of year doesn’t hold enough college admission angst, I decided this past weekend to tackle Netflix’s newly released docudrama: Varsity Blues, The College Admission Scandal.

Because I had followed every twist and turn of that case since it erupted two years ago, I figured it would provide a little light distraction as I graded AP World History essays and Humanities reading journals.

I was wrong. In fact, I got NO grading done as I once again descended into the depths of the largest college admission scheme ever prosecuted by the federal government.

Through reenactments and interviews with those involved, the docudrama vividly recounted the lengths to which wealthy and influential parents went to secure spots for their children in some of the nation’s most-selective colleges and universities.

Some paid millions of dollars to buy the help of those who could game the system when it came to admissions to schools including Yale, Stanford, Harvard, USC and many others.

Fifty people – including parents, test administrators and college coaches – were charged in the scheme, which involved hiring people to falsify SAT results, wrongfully secure accommodations for standardized testing and pay off coaches to fraudulently recruit students for sports at which they had no college-level expertise.

At the center of the scandal was a for-profit college consultant who parents paid to bribe coaches and college administrators, establishing a “side door” by which the super rich could push their children to the head of the college admission line.

As college counselor, none of this information was new to me. But I was particularly struck at the end of the docudrama as a group of admissions officials, test administrators and others layered context onto the chaos that too often surrounds the college admissions process, especially when it comes to the scramble to gain access to the nation’s so-called top-tier schools.

“What are we doing to these kids by pounding them into the ground with Top 25 (colleges in America), Top 10, Top 5, because ultimately where you do go to school has little or no affect on what will happen to you in the future,” admonished Barbara Kalmus, an independent education consultant featured in the film.

Added Daniel Golden, author of The Price of Admission, a powerful book on how big money buys big access to top schools: “Forget about USC, go someplace else. You can get a great education almost any place if you want it. The parents in this case didn’t believe that.”

This time of year, those words are particularly meaningful.

As of the end of the week, barreling toward the end of this unprecedented school year, our 21 seniors had racked up 103 college acceptances.

Some of those areto the very same top-tier schools that were the focus of so much attention in the docudrama. But many more are to colleges and universities that don’t make any national Top 25 list, but which our students are eager to explore and perhaps attend.

So yes, Johns Hopkins and UCLA and NYU (all top 30 colleges on U.S. News and World Report’s latest rankings of best national universities) make this year’s list of OVS college acceptances.

But so does Montana State University, a majestic campus in Bozeman where one of our seniors plans to study photography. And Pepperdine University, where one of our seniors is looking at film studies while another is considering business school. And Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where one of our seniors wants to pursue environmental studies and journalism.

As always, our goal remains to help students find and gain access to their “right fit” colleges and universities, those schools that that are going to fuel their ambitions, sharpen their talents and shape them into the adults they were meant to become.

It’s both easy and crazy making to run to the rankings and compare our acceptance list against those at other schools, keeping a keen eye on those colleges the outside world considers prestigious.

But that does our students a disservice, and it cheapens the curriculum and values that we at Ojai Valley School work so hard to promote.

At OVS, we provide a challenging academic curriculum designed to prepare students for college. But that preparation also includes teaching students to climb a rock face and ride a horse and belt out a solo in the school musical. It involves pushing students to get out of their comfort zones, to contribute to and become part of something larger than themselves, to expand their perspectives and see where and how they fit into the larger world.

In that way, college preparation never stops as OVS.

This week, as many of our seniors enjoyed a gentle rafting trip down Utah’s San Juan River, our sophomores took the PSAT while most of our juniors sat for the first time for the SAT. The juniors also are in the midst of working through the college counseling curriculum, preparing to take on the application process next year.

There are more than 3,000 colleges and universities in this country, and the students will spend a lot of time figuring out which of those will fit best with their talents, interests and passions.

But in so many ways, those choices are simply an extension of a philosophy they’ve been living as OVS students. It’s quite a journey, and I’m lucky enough to be along for the ride.