I Am The Grinch

As the world approaches the holidays, no matter where I go, all I hear is Christmas music.

I really dislike Christmas music.

Ergo, I guess I’m a bit of a Grinch.

There’s just something that is so painfully cheesy and overall too varnished about the music released during Christmas time.

I don’t understand how or why Christmas has become an even more Hallmarked holiday for romance than Valentines Day.

I am very accepting of the concepts of caring and giving that provide the foundation for Christmas, but there’s something about the influx of songs talking about finding true love due to Christmas Magic that really does not sit well with me.

Maybe it’s because I actually am Scrooge, but maybe not. I’m not sure.

Or maybe it’s the fact that I subconsciously believe most things meant to be cute and sweet are extraneous.

Which, upon further reflection, basically means I am the Grinch all year round.

Photo Credit: scifihorrorfantasy

Cry Me a River, Or Don’t

I don’t cry often, or at least not as much as people assume I do.

Before I turned nine, my tears had no depth. I would cry because I couldn’t get the Barbie I wanted, or because I wasn’t allowed to eat the chocolate bar I craved. It was like I was standing on the shore, only to get my chubby feet wet. They would be salty tears of defiance, and yet, they were noticed more. No one ignores a little, pig-tailed girl with puffy, wet eyes and a solemn face. People would rush to my side to be my hero and save me from my sadness.

In the summer before my fourth grade year, I truly cried for the first time. I was curled in bed and the breeze made the leaves on the tree in my backyard hit against the window with a soft thump. A mountain of blankets weighed down on my crackling shell of a body. My mom was angry at me, and I was convinced that she undeniably hated me. Even though that wasn’t the case, my cheeks seemed tattooed with the streaks left behind from my crying fit, and they stayed like that until the morning.

Only after that night, did I realize that I can only sincerely cry alone and wrapped in many blankets. It’s an odd revelation, but one that I will testify to for the rest of my life.

When I sat in the first row at my mother’s funeral, I was the most anxious I had ever felt in my entire life. I felt like her closest family and friends were watching me like beady-eyed hawks. My legs were neatly crossed and my black, lace dress itched in ten different places. I tried to focus on my aunts and uncles speaking about their beloved sister, but could only think about the choir show I was missing. My attention only perked up when my sister went to speak.

She stood with her right foot tilted ever so slightly inward. You couldn’t see it because of the podium in front of her, but throughout my entire life she had done it whenever she was nervous. She greeted everyone with a half-smile and red eyes, and you could tell that she was trying to make my mother proud. My grandma was holding onto my skinny wrist like it was a treasured jewel. I looked down at her black shoes and fixated on the curvature at the front. Then I heard my name. My sister had water welling up in her eyes and looked to me to turn the attention away from her. I wiggled out of my grandmother’s grasp and walked reluctantly to the stand.

“Um, I miss my mom. Not a day goes by where I don’t miss her and I loved- uh, I mean love her always and for-” my voice cracked.

All of a sudden, tears gushed out of my eyes as if someone turned on a hose. I ran away from the microphone and sunk into my seat, and wished I could evaporate. Those tears weren’t of evident sadness, but rather were a scapegoat to leave the gaze of all those gloomy visages. After that moment, I wasn’t sad but embarrassed. It is such a normal thing to cry at a funeral, especially the funeral of a parent, but it was one of the most fake and shallow outbursts of emotion I have ever experienced.

Photo Credit:  www.pinterest.com

After that, I couldn’t cry for months. My body was no longer capable of that type of emotional release. Whenever I do cry, it is of exasperation. A way to rid myself of pent-up frustration.

Some say that teenage girls cry about everything. When we break a nail or have a split end, it is as if the world is falling apart. Even when the world is crumbling around me, I pretend that I’m standing in a field of daisies, a defense mechanism I’ve created for dealing with my emotions in public.

And with all that said, people still think I cry all the time. But I guess that’s just what a girl’s gotta do.

Finals got you down?

Here are ten ways to cope with your impending doom!

1.) Dig a hole. I mean, a really deep hole. Once you have dug said hole, lay in it. I’m not telling you to die there or anything, that’s entirely optional. If you need some motivation, think about your math final, and how you have literally never taken any notes at all.

(Click here for more info. on digging a proper grave.)

2.) Scream really, really loudly. Freak out your neighbors. Go ahead. You know you hate them. Do you even know their names? Of course not.

3.) Lay on the floor for a little bit and relive every embarrassing thing you’ve ever done. Come on. You know you want to. (At least more than you want to worry about finals.)

4.) Take a shower and maybe lay on the floor for a little bit. Might as well.

5.) Draw a chalk box on the concrete and sit in it. Everything around you is lava, except what’s inside that box. Don’t believe me? Your finals are located outside of that box.

6.) Get in a fight with someone who cares about you. It will 100% take away all focus from your finals. Unless you are really underprepared, like yours truly, in which case there is no hope.

7.) Go for a run. Plan to run to the nearby Starbucks. Run further. Run too far. Run way too far. Let the sun set, go somewhere creepy, and wait to be kidnapped. Foolproof. You think being kidnapped is too scary? FINALS.

8.) Do you have any allergies? Now is the time to thank whatever forces blessed you with them. Allergic to cats? Go lick one. Hug it. Rub it on your face. Peanut butter? Really dig into a nice jar of Jif and thank me later.

9.) Find a trustworthy friend, and kindly ask them to push you down some stairs.  If they are skeptical, here is a note from a trustworthy source (me) on why this is a good idea:

Dear friend, don’t hold back. It’s for their own good. Don’t believe me? Check their notes. Yes, that is a sketch of Justin Bieber pre-Gomez. No, there are no notes on the Aeneid in there. Keep looking, I promise.

10.) Or you could, like, study or something.

Photo credit: memegenerator.net

Boys Rule, Girls Drool.

It’s a well know fact to all teachers that the average boy is behind in the industrial world, beginning in Pre-K, and lasting through to college.

Boys, simply put, haven’t been doing nearly as well as girls in school. Statistics have shown that, on average, boys’ grades consist of mainly C’s and D’s, while girls hold more college degrees.

This phenomenon is a growing epidemic in all countries, and all cultures. 70 to 80 percent of the students accepted to Advanced Placement (AP) classes are girls. This increasingly large gap doesn’t pertain only to inner-city boys, it includes boys from each and every corner of American Society, and beyond.

Photo Credit: heartbreakhypnotist.com

This education crisis has been the focus of large schools, which are actively trying to curve the problem. Some blame ethics and how the social dynamic of school affects young male students, who see athletics as their way to shine. Others blame the school system as a whole for failing to provide boys with a system that adequately suits them, and demand a larger outcry for boys, just as there was for girls thirty years ago.

Jefferson Academy in Long beach C.A. has taken a different approach, by putting students into gender-separated classes. For boys, they have placed a larger emphasis on academics as opposed to sports. So far, the school has seen a large success rate in test scores and overall effort.

Though schools across the country are hesitant to apply this practice, this agenda has been proved so far to be beneficial. As a boy with coed classes, I don’t believe I would want to have my class suddenly split.

If this were the only way to resolve this issue, it should happen with a new generation, rather than the current generation enjoys the luxury of mixed classes and would be opposed to anything but.

Research also points out how an emphasis on academic success may be just as beneficial in the long run. With similar intelligence rates among boys and girls, the academic gap could be eliminated through better parenting, and a greater emphasis on boys in class.

To what extremes would the school system go in order to help young boys succeed? That is the ethical question that the next generation, and America as a whole, may have to face.

Christmas Time is Here

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Christmas is here! (kind of)

Once Thanksgiving ended, a Christmas frenzy descended upon us, showering everyone in festive store windows, holiday sales, and, most importantly, Michael Bublé’s Christmas album (although Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” is also very important).

The Grove’s Christmas tree has gone up, holiday candy has dominated stores, people are driving through town with green fir trees strapped on the top of their cars, and Disneyland’s Christmas celebration has been in full swing since November 8.

Kids are about to go on break, adults are taking time off work, and family members are hopping on planes, getting in their cars, or hopping in taxis to see their loved ones for the holidays.

After our cruel finals week, holiday break begins, and with that comes holiday movies, candy, parties, and relaxation (hopefully). But, it also gives everyone a chance to recharge, and spend more time with family and friends.

The Olympics Is the Key!!

I was officially turned down by the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. I applied for the Winter Games volunteer program earlier this year. My plan was to work at the Korean games so that I’d have experience on my resume for when I apply for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

I was disappointed, but had suspected I was going to be turned down since I can’t speak Korean, and one of the questions on the application asked about that. Even if I had gotten the job, the event will take place in the middle of my freshman year of college, which is bad timing.

I want to volunteer for the Olympic games because I think this event is very special, and makes the world come together. Also, I like to make friends with people from around the world – our generation can form relationships with other countries despite our history. For example, I have good friends who are Korean and Chinese, but my Japanese grandparents were enemies with people from these same countries. Their generation does not have the same type of relationships that I do.

I think the Olympic games can make a big difference, and I want to be part of this special event. I really hope I can contribute by volunteering for Tokyo 2020. I’m crossing my fingers!

Photo Credit: thumbs.mic.com

Becoming Bilingual

When school starts back up after Christmas break, it will mark two years of living in the U.S. for me. I’m from Japan and went to a Japanese-speaking school most of my life. Since my father is an English speaker, my English listening skills were perfect when I came to America, but I couldn’t express myself verbally.

I came to the U.S. when I was 16, and I knew it was my last chance to become truly bilingual, since 16 is the age you start losing the natural ability to learn a second language. So I made a strict rule for myself: I couldn’t speak any Japanese to anyone at my school (since there are Japanese students.) It was very difficult to stop using my first language all of a sudden. When a Japanese student would start speaking to me in the language, I would ignore them. It felt awful. At first it was very difficult both emotionally and physically, but because of my strict rule, my English improved very quickly. For four months I followed this rule, until the school nurse reached out and told me to relax, and not to be so strict with myself. I took her advice and started speaking Japanese and making Japanese friends.

There was a period of time when I felt I couldn’t speak any language, since I was trying to improve my English but at the same time was losing my Japanese. After getting through that, I finally can say I can speak both Japanese and English. It was worth the struggle.

Photo Credit: i.huffpost.com

Do I – I Do

Questions swirl: who am I, what am I doing, what do I plan to do?

I glance at the banister beneath my hands. It has a cool and smooth texture, but I can’t help but notice that every once in a while a splinter will prick my finger; one off-grain hair on the back of the hyena, one loose screw in a well-oiled machine.

Do I dare to be that screw, to be an off-grain hair?

The banister leers back at me, returning to its faux smoothness, mocking me – showing me that even those hairs are smoothed out. The bottom of the stairs approaches with a swirl of nonexistent dust soaked in blue lighting.

I can feel myself physically growing colder without anything else becoming chilled.

I imagine my breath swirling and dancing, taking to the air, oh how I long to dance that waltz, a waltz that is carefree. Of freedom, non-worry, to dance to an unknown beat, the beat that is all my own with no rules or steps, no one can dictate what it is, what I do, how I move, what I ask, how I ask, what answer I receive.

The end of the stairs comes faster than I want, as if telling me that my time for contemplative thought is over. I stare down the hallway, looking at the doorways – all the doors of different paths I can take; nothing black or white – all gray – all this sad, desolate gray, I can’t figure out what I should do.

Photo Credit: The Millions  –  The Shining

I know that I want to leave, but I can feel fear closing in around my resolve, fire to ice. Am I a glacier, with more to me than is seen, or am I an ice cube, simple and nothing beyond my square?

Successful or Sell Out?

Image Credit: Variety

Earlier this week, it was reported that YouTuber and filmmaker, Casey Neistat, has sold his app, Beme, to CNN for $25 million. This news came just weeks after Neistat announced to his over 5 million YouTube subscribers that he’s ending the daily vlogs that have made him famous.

Many people are accusing Neistat of being a sell out. But in reality, Neistat is making a smart career decision. Neistat ended his daily vlogs because they weren’t challenging him creatively. In the video where he announces the end of his vlogging, he explicitly states that doing the daily vlogs became boring for him – he knew the formula for an interesting vlog, and was not challenged daily.

Neistat selling Beme to CNN is a career move. He and the handful of people on his team will now have all of the opportunities that a power company like CNN can offer, and CNN will now have access to a team of hugely successful creators.