September 11th

September 11th, a grave day in history that will never be forgotten, forever looming over our history like the dust and debris that was left after the world trade center was hit. To some this day is almost insignificant, and to some this day means more than anything else.

Most people remember it as the day that the United States was attacked. Before the attack, September eleventh was simply just another day of the year. But after that attack, just mentioning the day “September 11th” brought a hush to a crowd, or caused someone to look down in sorrowful remembrance. For some people it made them feel uncomfortable, for some people sad, and some people resentful. I’ve seen all of these reactions. But what I saw the most was acceptance, not because people didn’t care, but because to a certain extent nothing could be done; the plane crash couldn’t be taken back, the lives lost couldn’t be brought back and the birthdays, as insignificant as it might seem, would never be the same.

My older sister had her 7th birthday on September 11th. Now, being that I was three years old when the attack took place, I don’t remember what I was doing, or what we were doing that day for my sister’s birthday, but I can almost promise you that with a catastrophe like that, her birthday was altered in some way.

I remember that I didn’t really understand what was happening when my parents tried to explain to me that the plane had crashed into the world trade center. For a three-year-old, death is an unfathomable idea, let alone combined with the catastrophe of 9/11 accompanying it.

As the years have rolled by, September 11th has become less of a painful reminder of what was lost that day. However, the pain that was caused will never fully disappear. The disheartened look that people get in their eyes when my sister says that her birthday is on September 11th will never go away, the damage that was done to hundreds of other families, to the world trade center and to our nation will never go away. But like human nature, we learn how to deal with it and accept it. 

Posted in emotions, General News, Holidays, homicide, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Ups and Downs

Life is like a roller coaster. Filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, and abrupt starts and stops.

Your future is like the tedious clicking of your cart on the incline. Each time you move a little forward, the safety kicks in to make sure you don’t fly back.  Those have been put there so you can only move forward. Time is what moves you along, what makes you get on with your life.

Once you reach the top, another goal is met. You are on the brink of a new adventure, a new path in life. You are relieved you made it, but are anticipating something new; whether it be a drop, jolt, or loop. Anxiety fills you as you are thrown into the unexpected.

Well, it turns out it was a drop. Not just any drop, either. Full 80 degree, head-first sensation that is heading straight for the ground. Hardships don’t slowly make their way into your life. They burst in and blind you. They take you by surprise and totally change your perspective.

Your cart continues the course of the ride and then it’s over. You can get off the ride and move on to the next thing. Some people say rollercoasters are just one thing, so they only stimulate one thing, one life. However, rollercoasters are almost the opposite. They’re one moment. When you go to a theme park, you don’t just go on one ride. You wait in line after line, just waiting for something new.

The one thing all the quotes relating life to rollercoasters forget to mention is others. You aren’t in that cart alone. You are sitting next to your best friend, your sibling, or a stranger, but you are never completely alone. These people are experiencing the same moment; they drop when you do and they soar just the same.

Life is a series of moments, a series of rides. Life isn’t just one big moment, but a mixture of many. However, the people around you and the way you deal with the big drops and loops can surely affect your ride.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Berlin

Two weeks ago, I arrived in Berlin, Germany, the city of hole-in-the-wall cafes and miscellaneous shops, historical monuments and tourist attractions. The city where graffiti paints the streets, which are lined with well-dressed twenty-somethings smoking cigarette after cigarette.

The city where people young and old gossip over coffee, talking late into the night, until their coffee fades into wine. The city bursting with history – where every grand, old building comes with stories about the war and battles that ensued years ago.

And it was this city, that, for those two weeks, I was lucky enough to call home.

Berlin Streets — Photo Credit: http://www.drinkteatravel.com

I was going to stay with a woman named Alda, my mom’s best friend and an old family friend. She took care of me when I was a baby, but I hadn’t seen her for eight years. I had no idea what to expect.

The second I boarded my plane in Portland, it hit me. I had an 11 hour flight ahead of me, I was going to a foreign country – a different continent – and just then I realized what I was truly getting myself into. I didn’t speak a word of German, and already on the plane, everything was in a foreign language.

When I stepped onto that plane, still in the U.S., I stepped out of my comfort zone.. And looking back, it was the best decision I could have made.

Eleven hours and two flights later, I landed in Berlin. It was late afternoon local time, but for me it felt like the middle of the night. I was in the middle of a busy, bustling airport, and I knew no one. I felt like I was in a movie, in one of those scenes where the camera just pans around and around, turning all the commotion into one big blur.

I finally spotted a familiar face – Alda’s housemate, Bogdan, a 26 year old from Romania – who was there to pick me up. We took the metro back to the apartment – public transit is the most common form of transportation in Berlin. Over the few weeks, I learned to navigate the various subways, busses and trains.

It was about 45 minutes from the airport to the apartment. On the ride, Bogdan told me the ways of the city – where it was cool to hang out and where to avoid – and he pointed out the various attractions that make Berlin the city it is.

The Berlin TV Tower — Photo Credit: http://www.travelandtransitions.com


I got my first glimpse of the Berlin Wall, as well as the Berlin TV Tower, which, aside from being a TV Tower, is also the tallest building in all of Germany. It looms over the city, and, I learned, can be seen from almost anywhere. It resembles the Space Needle, with a huge sphere about halfway up, in which there is a restaurant. Anyone who is lucky enough to get aboard the elevator gets to go to the restaurant, which supposedly spins slowly, providing diners with a 360˚ view of the city. Sadly, I was not among those who were lucky enough to get that experience.

However, there is no doubt in my mind that I lived Berlin to its full extent.

Back at the apartment building, I discovered that Alda lived on the fourth floor. That meant eight flights of stairs, and 88 stairs exactly – I counted. I soon grew to despise those stairs. Somehow, we managed to lug my suitcase up all eight flights, and after countless hours of traveling I had finally made it.

I was so happy to see Alda after all this time. She herself never had kids but took care of me, so I’m like the daughter she never had. She obviously remembered me better than I did her, though we grew much closer over the following weeks.

During my first week in Berlin, Alda had exams, so I was mostly on my own. We ate breakfast and dinner together, but for the majority of the day I was left to explore the city.

The Berlin Wall — Photo Credit: travel-junkies.com

I didn’t know a thing about the area, but with a map in one hand and a transportation ticket in the other, I set out.

Alda lives in East Berlin – the more laid-back, hippie side of the city. My first day there I fell in love with the vibe – the people, the culture, etc. – everything and everyone was so relaxed, and anything seemed to go. I fit right in.

Over the next few days I explored various neighborhoods, and got a feel for where I was and what was near me. No matter where I went, there was at least one coffee shop on each block, and an abundance of cute shops. I did some shopping, and I think, at this point, I was made of coffee.

I fell in love, however, with one particular part of town. It was about a 15 minute metro ride to get there, to this one funky street, where the buildings were plastered with years of peeling posters, and graffiti coated any open surface. This street had shops and restaurants from all cultures, and littering the streets were every type of person imaginable.

Photo Credit: previews.123rf.com

Next to this street was the Spree River, a river that flows through Berlin. This one section though, was my favorite. Berlin is filled with bridges, but the one that crossed here, the Oberbaum Bridge, was by far the most beautiful. On one side of the Spree River was this street, and on the other side was a portion of the Berlin Wall, and the East Side Gallery, an open air art gallery created by the wall itself.

Between this street and the wall, this river was my favorite place to spend time. I liked to sit at the waterfront, at a little park filled with people laughing and talking, drinking and just relaxing.

Oberbaum Bridge — Photo Credit: upload.wikimedia.org

I brought a journal with me on my travels – a leather-bound book filled with all of my thoughts and observations – where I’ve documented every single thing I’ve done. I take it with me everywhere, and it was in this neighborhood, at the waterfront, that I most enjoyed writing.

While I spent a lot of time walking through streets and exploring shops, I also spent a lot of time in parks. I visited multiple throughout the city, and all were beautiful. I loved to just sit and write, as well as people-watch and take in everything around me. It made me feel connected the city and everything around me.

A few days later, Bogdan’s brother and his friend came to visit. They were two 20 year olds, and so the house was full. (Alda has yet another housemate – Daniel – but I rarely ever saw him, so he doesn’t really count.) I didn’t spend too much time with them, given that they mostly spoke in Romanian, but one night we went to this city-wide pride party, and it was an experience, to say the least.

That day, Berlin had held its annual pride parade, known as Christopher Street Day, so naturally there was a party afterwards. It was to this party that everyone filtered after the parade, and it was filled with characters. There were countless people dancing and singing, people in crazy costumes and lack thereof. It seemed as if the entire city was there. The party was celebrating pride, but people of all shapes and sizes, and from all backgrounds were there – people just came to party. It was crazy, and an experience I’ll never forget.

My second week here I was able to spend more time with Alda. She insisted I see all that Berlin is made of, so together, we explored all that it encompassed.

We did some “touristy” things – we went to museums, and saw famous buildings and monuments; we even took a bus around to see some of these features. I had to have one day of being a true tourist.

Brandenburg Gate — Photo Credit: upload.wikimedia.org

There was more to my stay, but if I wrote each and every thing I would end up with 100 pages. But to sum it up, I got to see and learn about history, meet friends, new and old, eat incredible food, and just overall, experience Berlin.

And I don’t think there’s much more I could have asked for.

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bad Singers

I have spent the majority of this year singing at random times, even though I know I’m musically impaired.

But why are some people ear-splittingly bad, à la moi?  Yahoo explains.

Some people’s brain simply can not perceive notes correctly, which produces the sound of a dying cow when singing (or, at least, for me).

But the shape of your vocal tracks are also a factor that can determine whether you’re a Sugar Motta (Glee, look it up) or you’re a Streisand.

20% of people can’t control their vocal muscles, they’re too powerful (the latter is not a scientific fact).

But there is hope! For those who simply have trouble matching the pitch of a song, vocal training can improve this.

Or, you can accept your tone-deafness and own it. You may not be cast as Glinda in Wicked on Broadway, but that’s true even for people that can sing, so don’t take it too hard.

Posted in General News, humor, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

It’s Almost Over

I can almost see the finish line

We are so close to summer, the only thing in the way is…finals. *hiss*

Now I am sure that you are sick and tired of hearing high schoolers complain about how long the year is and how we are so excited for summer, but this year has felt like torture

As I approach finals my stress levels, which have been at a pretty steady 8/10 throughout the year, have escalated to 11/10 the past week and I don’t see this changing in the near future.On Friday, we have math

Math, I hate you.

That’s all I have to say about this satanic subject

On Saturday is history

I already took this final ahead of time, thank goodness

On Sunday, I get a break

In reality, I don’t count it as a break because I will probably have my head buried in books trying to not fail my next final

On Monday, its English

Oh English

I actually really enjoy English but not today…not today

On Tuesday, its Spanish

No me gusta…at all

The final exam…Wednesday, Science

I’ve basically given up on this one

With a full week ahead of me I ask for your prayers.

Posted in emotions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

This is the end

Today is Thursday, May 26th, 2016. Today is the last academic day of school. Today is the last day of my junior year.

Tomorrow is the first final. One week later is graduation.

Three months later, the next school year will begin. I’ll be a senior. Time is ticking, and we are nearing the end. Everything is coming to a close.

Photo Credit: az616578.vo.msecnd.net

It’s surreal. All the seniors will be gone, replaced by my class. We’ll be the oldest. The top of the top.

I’m aware of all that is happening, but it hasn’t really hit me yet. I’m waiting for that day.

Technically, this is the last blog I ever need to write. Next year will be so different.

I’m only a junior now – the middle child – neither the oldest nor the youngest. But this is the end, and soon I will be the older child.

It’s so close, I can almost touch it.

Posted in emotions, School | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Last. Blog. Ever.

Tonight, I am writing my last blog for the Ojai Valley School Journalism class.

I have has such an incredible experience here at OVS, and a part of that was being involved in this class.

Being given the opportunity to express my opinion on whatever I feel like has been amazing. Blogging has been an amazing outlet for me and writing articles has allowed me to strengthen my writing skills in a fun manner.

I would like to thank Mr. Alvarez for his incredible support for the past two years, academically and personally. He is truly one of my favorite humans in the entire world, and he is someone I would do nearly anything for.

This time is bittersweet. Leaving high school, and the journalism program, will be upsetting; but I am growing up and moving on, and that is a beautiful thing in itself.

I cannot wait to share my experiences in college with my family, friends, and former teachers. I wish everyone at OVS the best, even Harley.

I will be forever thankful for my time here at OVS.

*@KENNYROO NO PICTURE

Posted in emotions, Family, Friendship, Journalism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment