And yet she comes again.

It’s been at least one month since Aunt Lela’s funeral. Just last weekend we were at Relay for Life and I was walking in her honor.

It’s been four hours since my great grandmother passed away.

It’s been 20 minutes since I got the phone call from my mom. After the fourth ring I decided to pick up. “Mama, I can’t talk right now.” My roommate was sleeping and I didn’t want to disturb her. “It’s an EMERGENCY.”

This one I was close to. It really hurts this time. All she wanted before she died was to hear me sing. I didn’t do it for her.

I feel guilty, but it’s not about me. It’s about this woman who was so kind and funny. She loved her family, but she especially loved her daughter. The one who took care of her until the very end with very little help.

Now, she’s gone. What is her daughter supposed to do?

We can only pray and give love, right? What else? Why is death such a powerful thing?

I will pray. Not for God or Jesus or whoever. None of them. I will pray for my family. Because with tragedy comes grief and with grief, one never knows what can come of grief. So, I will pray and I hope you will too.

Grammie and Bubba

Are You There God?

Faith is the journey continued in hopes of finding the end

it is the belief that after years of hard work, finger breaking there will come rest

There is faith in mothers that they will nurture us

there is faith in fathers that they will protect us

there is faith in lovers that they will love us

But, what faith have I in someone else’s religion?

What do you believe?

I believe in love

love can’t be taught or preached

it can’t be written or spoken, not published, or broadcasted

I have faith in love

Finding Joe

Today, I saw the documentary “Finding Joe” at the Ojai Playhouse. The film was all about the teachings of the mythologist and philosopher Joseph Campbell.

Basically, Campbell’s ideas about life come from his ideas about mythology. He says that there is only really one story in all stories of all time. That story is that there is a character that faces a problem, and then changes as a result of that problem. He put this idea into his philosophy.

He said that people will face problems, but eventually overcome them if they are strong enough, or try hard enough. Success, in his words, is obtainable by all.

In my opinion, success is not obtainable by all. Sadly, some people, no matter how hard they try, will never become what they really want to be. Some people are either luckier or just happen to do things at the right time.

Anyway, I got a free ticket to the screening of the movie and to the reception afterwards with the director since I’m part of the Ojai youth film society board.    The director was actually pretty cool, and I got a high five from him after I brought up that I was not allowed to show my most recent movie at my school.

“That’s how you know how you know that you are making better films.” He said, “If more people dislike it, then they are probably better. Until a certain point.”

I get the feeling that I’m going to remember those words for a while. I want to become a director and screenwriter when I’m older. Let’s hope I’m as lucky as Mr. Campbell.

I Won

I went home yesterday. The limo driver by the name of Steve Mazalin told me “sometimes you have to do something truly awesome and incredible to get people to notice just how talented you are.”

After being stuck in the wrong stories and getting denied good ones or having prize stories taken away, I finally proved my at times vastly overlooked worth when it came to writing stories that I truly cared about or stories that gathered some interest.

Waking up at 630 in the morning is something few look forward to let alone someone who sees journalism as work and as a class, maybe a hobby at best. I was on the sports writing roster with a classmate, the esteemed and regarded sports writer. We pulled up at Cal Lutheran University for the Tri County Journalist Write-off and I thought “oh joy, let the day begin.”

15 schools, 3 counties, Ojai’s first private boarding school invitation, way to represent right? Time to prove my worth.

While the speaker, an 18 year old world record holder, was giving his piece to us, his press conference, I thought his story was gold for me to work with.

I worked until the 10 minute to go mark to meet the 90 minute deadline, I signed my sport writing piece A8 (my id number) and walked out feeling that I had really written my finest journalism work of the whole year. Better than any blog or assignment I had ever done.

I sat in the auditorium watching the other schools win in every other category. I watched their joyous and appreciative expressions and thought, “my moment’s coming.”

“For second place, Ojai Valley School‘s Ryland Steve…..”

I didn’t even hear my last name being said, I was too excited. I was already walking towards the stage to accept the trophy. It was surprisingly light. (:

I held it and felt so much pride. All my frustrations over the past year, I was finally being recognized, or at least that’s how I felt. Everyone from the other schools clapping for me. I don’t mean to sound arrogant or cocky here but I was just so happy I won that award. Being the only one from school to walk away with a trophy just added to the joy. I guess I’ll never have to write anything about bandwidth ever again. Hooray.

I’m not trying to sound curt, I’m just so excited. It’s still sinking in.

The Wombats.

The wombats
We all need some good songs to sing and dance along to, on occasion, and The Wombats provide just this.

Formed in Liverpool, England in 2003 the Indie Pop band provides music that is quirky and brilliant. With lyrics that are strong and fun the band really can do no wrong. Each song is easy to relate to as they use everyday things to describe their feelings and emotions.

With lyrics such as, “Carrots help us see much better in the dark. Don’t talk to girls; they’ll break your heart,” there is no way a band like this can go wrong.

Releasing the first album “The Wombats Proudly Present: A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation,” globally in 2007 the album was a great success coming 11th in the UK album charts. The album was full of great songs that individually did very well in the charts.

In 2010 the band were back releasing new singles such as “Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves).” Then in 2011 the group followed on with the album “The Wombats Proudly Present…This Modern Glitch.” The new album has a more grown up sounds in comparison to the first album, involving different sounds. In no way does this make it worse, in fact many argue that it was better coming 3rd in the UK album chart.

So if you feel like you have energy to burn and want to listen to some fun, individual music you should definitely listen to The Wombats.

Again, Again, Again

The crowd is buzzing quietly while two students stand on the stage, finishing up their introduction.

I’m on the left of the stage, hunching over my guitar, Wulfric, and making sure that the capo is firmly on the 9th fret.

The blood is rushing through my ears and I can’t hear anything that they’re saying; I just watch them until they motion in my direction.

Smiling softly, I walk over and plug in Wulfric before sitting myself on the uncomfortable high stool.

The photography teacher, Mr. Boyd, helps position the microphone in front of my face. He fiddles with the microphone’s stand and I grip my green star-cut pick in my right hand.

“Can I go?” I ask quietly to him, wondering if the sound people were ready for me.

The crowd laughs and I realize that they could hear me perfectly. Heat rushes to my face and I smile uncomfortably at the audience.

Mr. Boyd nods and my and I hunch over my guitar to begin my harsh, palm-muted intro. It seemed to go far to fast and before I knew it I was singing into the microphone, all of my worries completely gone.

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All of a sudden, the song is over and my worries are back.
Every single insecurity and trouble weigh come rushing into my body and I sigh in disappointment.
It always ends too soon.

But the crowd still cheers.

I smile awkwardly and look up at the sound board, making sure I can unplug my guitar without messing with the amplifiers.

The song is over, and all I can think to myself is:

When can I play again?

It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Old Trafford is one of the greatest stadiums in the world. It is the largest of any of the EPL club’s stadiums and it has an aura of magic. It has played host to many fantastic games and many incredible players. For some United players though, tomorrow’s game against Blackpool will be their last in the Theater of Dreams.

Edwin van der Sar has been a great goalkeeper throughout his time at United. I can still remember his penalty save against Chelsea that won the cup. He has been a great footballer and he will be missed. Sir Alex Ferguson announced that Van der Sar will start in the net in the last game of the season. This will give the fans a chance to thank him for his great work during his time at United.

Edwin van der Sar Edwin Van der Sar of Manchester United saves the penalty attempt from Ncolas Anelka of Chelsea to win during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Manchester United and Chelsea at the Luzhniki Stadium on May 21, 2008 in Moscow, Russia.

Although it is not certain that Paul Scholes will retire, there is a very good chance of it. It is a good opportunity for him to go out on a good note. Scholes has been a key member of United for since he came in to the first team squad in 1994. Before that, Scholes has been part of United’s youth program. He has always been a great players for United, getting in trouble at times but always coming off in style. His vicious tackles scarred even the most hardened players. He will always be remembered as one of the United greats.

Although these two players are retiring and others may be leaving, United will keep strong as one of the best teams in the world. They will get new players who have skill and knowledge but the greats that preceded them will not be forgotten.

Justice Against Me

I want to take my behind-the-wheel driving test.

But, my visa expires on my graduation date, June 3, 2011. And, DMV requires the test takers to possess visa that guarantees the next sixty days of entrance to America. So, here goes the conflict. As I will be entering my college located in California in fall 2011. I will be released with a new visa that covers the days after June 3, 2011. Because my sister is having an annual grand performance in South Korea, I fly back on June 3, 2011 immediately after the graduation. So, I must take the driving test before I leave.

Currently, I am scheduled for an appointment for next week.

By the way, why would DMV allow people to make an appointment without checking these major qualifications in the first place? What if I went to DMV after getting a permission from my high school with much difficulty and be notified that I cannot take the test? Are you kidding me?

So, I made exactly eleven calls to the DMV office, Sacramento, and NIF (nonimmigration Information Form) Office of my college for a solution.

At some times, I was put on hold for exactly 26 minutes 23 seconds. Thankfully, I was well-trained for such incidents when I applied for “Sogiorno” or residence in Italy, where everything is just “relax, and take it easy. Things will happen some day at some time. But, no one knows when.”

My college recommends me to bring my letters of acceptance along with a completed form of NIF which should pretty much prove the delivery of my visa soon, very soon. DMV, finding this problem out of their hands, gave me a number for the main office in Sacramento. When I called several times to Sacramento, my calls were, okay, I do not even go there. To simply put, the experience was horrid.

No matter how many times I explained how I am a high school senior graduating on June 3, 2011 and transitioning into my college in fall 2011, they suggested me to fill out Optional Practical Training (OPT). Well, I called my college to request the completion of this form. Then, they spoke that I ought to have complete some kind of program and practically completing the form as an entering freshman is an impossibility. Suprise!

Now, I am going to enter the DMV office with my letter of acceptance and completion of my visa request in my hand just like the NIF office of my college suggested. And, if the DMV office refuse me to grant such opportunity,

Something is wrong. I mean,

Something is VERY wrong in the system.

Just because I am a young adult gradually experiencing the “practical” reality, I will not let my complaints for such ridiculous system slip away. If California set up to ensure the legitimacy of the test takers, then am I suppose to forgive this insanity and let myself kneel down to the law set for the benefits on only one population and not for the other? Should I be submissive to these laws with ironical respect, or not? Maybe I need an answer to this question more than to provide a solution to my visa problem.

Surely, my future looks bright with this justice by my side.

Cattle-ranching Trip

Not very many people can claim that they’ve been on a real cow roundup, but I can!

Last Sunday, a group of three seniors, including myself, OVS art teacher Ms. Smith, and lower’s Australian riding instructor, Andy, loaded two horses and made the six hour trip up to Independence, California to stay at the Smith Ranch.

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Without knowing what a cattle roundup is to the fullest extent, I imagined massive herds of cattle running in each and every direction as the riders each struggle to keep them in a group and headed towards the pens.

Without knowing what ‘putting cattle through a shoot’ is, I imagined the branding to be a horrid sight, and the castration to be something that my weak stomach wouldn’t be able to handle, and the tagging to be intolerable.

I was completely wrong in every sense.

The first day of herding cattle was as easy as one could possibly imagine. The cattle didn’t even bother to defy the natural order of things and simply moved as soon as a horse came near them.

I was also lucky enough to ride one of the most incredible horses that I’ve ever encountered. Elizabeth and I were given to rented horses from a pack station down the road whose names we weren’t told. I was given a lovely strawberry roan quarter horse who was not only calm and collected but willing to go whenever asked to grab a stray calf. We named him Barry for his color and the large “B” branded on his left flank. We were also given an older gentleman of a horse who never ceased to have his tongue hanging out of his mouth and his head regally held above all of the others. Not to mention he was easily over twenty and was covered in random patches of abnormally long hair. He was named Thor, which was followed by more jokes that I could ever keep track of.

Throughout the whole time our faces were stuffed with the most amazing food, and minus the brief stomach flu that we all experienced, it was definitely one of the best weeks of my life. If any riders are considering going next year, they definitely should. It’s absolutely wonderful!

Gers

Rangers Football Club (or the Gers as some of their loyal fans call them) recently won the Scottish Premier League title. This is the third title in a row they have won.

unfortunately in the SPL it is almost always only a competition between two teams, Rangers and Celtic. This year followed that. Rangers finished the season with 93 points in front of Celtic who had 92. The third place team? They had 63 points.

No other team in Europe has won as many trophies as Rangers, yet on the international scene they don’t get much credit. among many other large numbers, Rangers have won 54 league titles. 54! People are raving about United’s accomplishment of 19 (including me) but 54…that is incredible.

Granted the SPL is nowhere near as difficult as the EPL but it is still amazing.

I love Rangers because of my Protestant Scottish heritage, I’m no bandwagoner. But for those people looking for a team outside of the EPL to support, look in to Rangers.

They play pretty football for a Scottish team partly because they have players from all over the world. They have fanatic fans that give the atmosphere a great feel (usually) and they are a succesful club. They really deserve more credit.

But who deserves credit most of all is Walter Smith. After the last game of the season, Smith retired as coach of Rangers. During his time the team won 21 major titles including 10 times league champions. He has been a wonderful representative of the Ranger organization and he will be honored and missed. I cannot stress enough what a great coach and a great asset he has been. There is a great article on his importance here.

So go Gers! And for any Hoop fan reading this, don’t count on us stopping at 3.