Sleeping too much?

These days I sleep a lot. I mean a lot. Like taking three naps a day. Everyday I sleep a total of at least two hours during the day, and I go to sleep at 10:00 and wake up at 7:00. That means I sleep for 11 hours a day on weekdays. That is almost half of my day.

When I’m awake, the only thing I think about is when I can sleep next. On weekends I sleep more. Last weekend I went to bed at 10:00pm and woke up at 1:00pm and slept again until 5:00pm. I was shocked at how much time I was spending sleeping.

This situation is very bad and made me think that I have some kind of problem. I was worried so I made an appointment to talk to the nurse. But, then I realized that if my only worry is getting too much sleep, I have a pretty happy life. I realized how blessed I am that I don’t have anything else to worry about.

I am glad I was able to see how blessed I am, and I hope my sleeping habit is not a serious problem.

Photo Credit: i.imgflip.com

#BringDCGirlsBack

While scrolling through Instagram, I came across a startling post. In the past 24 hours, 14 young black girls have been kidnapped in Washington DC. Even more astonishingly, it has taken an outcry on social media, not pure human concern, for media outlets to even report on this horrific incident.

When new Metropolitan Police Chief, Chanel Dickerson, was appointed two months ago, he pledged to find all the missing girls in DC. This statement comes at a dire time in our nation’s capital. Since Wednesday, 22 kids have gone missing, adding on to the hefty 501 case so far this year. Needless to say, these missing reports are nothing new.

What is almost more concerning than the sheer number of cases is the public’s lack of knowledge. When I asked my friends if they had heard about these cases, none of them knew. Whether it be lack of speaking out by major news outlets or seeing a headline and forgetting it, they had no idea that 14 girls our age have been taken from their families, friends, and homes. Even though media involvement can be dangerous in some cases, news about these girls needs to come out so that the public can keep a watchful eye and even protect these girls.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are appealing to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to open a federal investigation. They call for help because of the fear of a deeper, scarier underlying agenda and the obvious racial stigmas present.

missing DC girls
Photo Credit: bbc.com

“(W)hen children of color go missing, authorities often assume they are runaways rather than victims of abduction,” the lawmakers said. This statement has been backed up with looming facts and other reliable sources coming out to make statements as well.

DC City Councilmen Trayon White believes that there is an underlying theme of racial prejudice involved. “We had a 10-year-old girl missing the other day, but there was no amber alert,” White said. “We just feel like, you know, if this was a white person or from another neighborhood, there would be more alarm about it.”

Especially in cases involving minors, it’s critical to reach out to the public for help, as most child abduction victims are killed in the first 24 hours.  White’s concern holds a lot of standing, because although some of the 14 new cases are adults, these people have been put in a terribly unsafe position.

In fact, many DC residents believe these kidnappings to be part of a human trafficking scheme. One would believe that this fact alone is enough to spark national outcry, but we still find ourselves missing 14 girls, with limited headlines and a lack of information on how to help them, before we hear their names in eulogies.

The End of a Chapter

(Photo Credit: Spreadshirtmedia.com )

Four years have passed since the class of 2017 entered high school as freshmen. Four years later, it’s the last few weeks of our senior year, the last few weeks in high school. Graduation looms around the corner. Oh, the joy of finally finishing these four grueling years, yet what good memories are in those years.

We should all take some time to think about what we have accomplished in these four years and what we have learned from friends and teachers. These memories should send chills down our spines when we think about good memories with the great people we got to know during our time here at school.

It is hard to believe that it is all about to end. We’ll soon be waking up the day after graduation thinking: “Where did these years go?” So hug your friends harder, because this might be the last time you’ll see them – the reality of graduation is just a moment away. Hold your breath, because this is one of the biggest milestones of our lives. This is the one that defines us as adults, the one that marks our accomplishments as students. Prepare yourself, because graduation will catch you off guard. 

That Night

Steam clouds the windows. A flame wavers under the bulk of a teapot slowly growing discolored from the brewing tea.

Photo Credit: Davidson’s Tea

Jars of rice and pasta sit stoic behind the tea against the foggy window. The white tiles alight in a ring of orange and flickering yellow.

Cinnamon candles burn in another room, the smell wafting and drifting and dancing with the scent of a spiced green chai.

Rain patters lightly on a recently resealed roof. The faint sound of parents discussing upcoming weather reaches the small slanted kitchen.

A cold breeze blows under the door, bringing with it the smell of rain, fresh from clouds not seen for months.

Cold, stiff, paint-splattered hands rest near the candle, bathed in the warmth provided by the slow destruction of the candle.

Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com

Faces lit from below glance out through the milky window at something unseen soaked with rain.

Get Out Makes History

Three weeks after it’s release, Get Out has had its share of victories. From staying in the top three top-grossing films in the United States box office to getting a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s only fair to call this movie a huge success. Along with these triumphs comes an exciting new moment in history: Jordan Peele, the famous co-creator of the comedy show Key and Peele, has become the first black director to gross $100 million with a debut film.

This feat is especially exciting when you take in a few factors. First, this movie had a modest budget of 4.5 million, which usually makes it difficult to become popular in such a competitive movie market. Second, this is Peele’s first movie, as he has only dipped into television. Not only did he direct the movie, but he also wrote the screenplay. Finally, this is the second huge success for the Blumhouse Production company – known for making low-budget horror movies – this year. It also produced Split, a psychological thriller that made $250 million with a measly $9 million budget.

Peele revealed his motivations for making this hit in an interview with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross as much more than just a typical horror movie. He classifies this film as a “social thriller,” which is extremely accurate with its racially charged plot during such turbulent times in this country.

Hero
Photo Credit: nbcnews.com

“It was very important to me to just get the entire audience in touch in some way with the fears inherent [in] being black in this country,” Peele said.

Award shows, such as the Oscars, have been criticized for their lack of diversity for years. This news shows that people of color continue to transcend expectations, which calls for even more recognition. Even though Get Out couldn’t be considered for many awards shows, as it is a horror film, it still is loud evidence of black excellence. In the future, I hope more diversity will show through in Hollywood, as it has been proven many times that people of color can be just as successful as anyone else.

Ignorant People Infuriated at Nike’s Plus-Size Line

Photo Credit: Well+Good

Recently, Nike launched a plus-size workout gear line, and many “haters” have come forward voicing (aka Tweeting) their outrage. One user Tweeted, “Way to go promoting an unhealthy life style. If people have to go to the extreme to buy over-size clothes maybe it’s time for a wake up call and change their eating habits for the sake of their health.”

How is releasing a workout line that includes all the different body shapes and sizes “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle”? It’s workout gear, not Twinkies. And, for the record, anyone can be healthy at any size, and the same goes for being unhealthy.

First, people were mad at the new Nike campaign featuring Bella Hadid, arguing she wasn’t muscular enough to be a Nike model, and now people have gone to the other extreme, shaming Nike for a plus-size line. When will these ignorant people realize that people of all shapes and sizes workout?

Waves

I walk across the beach, the warm sand sifting beneath my feet. The soles of my feet burn as each sun-tinted grain touches my skin. I curl up my feet, feeling the sand between each of my toes. I take a deep breath of the salty air and look up toward the sun, closing my eyes, letting the sun’s rays wash over my skin.

(Photo Credit: atlantisbahamas.com)

I walk toward the water, the sand growing cooler and spongier under my feet. I stop, letting my feet sink into the wet sand. I relax and let my weight fall, seeing how far down I can go.

I take another step forward and dip my big toe in the water. The salt is tingly on my skin, and I ease my foot in. The water is cold, but refreshing. I take another step. I ease in to my ankles, then my knees, then my waist. I stand in the water, feeling the current course throughout my body.

I take another step. The water is up to my neck. The waves crash over me, pushing me down. I am completely submerged. I try to swim to the surface, but I can’t tell which way is up. The water is colder now, too cold, and the salt is stinging my skin. I am tossed around as the violent, churning water surrounds me. My eyes burn as I search for light.

I am caught in a vortex of water, spinning around and around, unable to break free. The waves are choppy and the water is cold – the warm, soft sand only a memory from the past. Seconds feel like minutes as I continue to struggle against the water that holds me prisoner. The once clear, gentle, welcoming water has turned dark and cold. It pulls me toward its depths, holding me tight in its grasp.

(Photo Credit: brigadewakesurfing.com)

I am starting to run out of air. Lights flicker behind my eyelids as my lungs flutter from deprivation. I can’t breathe – I am being suffocated. I toss and turn as the water pulls me down, down, deeper, deeper.

I can just make out the bottom in the distance – a faint line of dark, jagged rocks. I am afraid of striking them, and I struggle even harder. I can see a light now, but I don’t know where it’s from. It could be the surface, or the light dancing behind my eyes. The light flickers, taunting me. Still bound by the waves, I struggle to move toward it. I’m afraid to get too close. I don’t know what the light means. I don’t know if it’s coming from the surface, or if it’s something far worse – I don’t want to go the wrong way.

I am beginning to lose consciousness. My vision is going blurry, the edges are starting to go dark. The waves are enveloping me, suffocating me, before I have time to choose. I have no strength left, and no more power to fight.

I force my eyes open and struggle to remove myself from the water’s grasp. I can’t move. The waves control me, pulling me down, down, down. I hit the rocks and the light is gone. I couldn’t decide.

Cherry Blossom Season

It is that time of the year when it starts to get warmer. The spring breeze is so nice and warm that you just want to take a nap. The flowers are blooming and the birds start to chirp. This is when I know my birthday is coming up.

Photo Credit: eskipaper.com

I have a Japanese middle name, “Sakura,” meaning cherry blossom. This name is common in Japan among people who are born in the spring. The day I was born, my grandma in Japan said that since the cherry blossoms were in bloom she would name me Sakura.

Spring is my favorite season. Although it is the season of my birthday, the reason I like spring most is because of the perfect weather. It’s hot enough to go to the pool and also if you drive a couple of hours to the mountains you can go skiing. I love to ski and I love to surf, so this season is perfect for me.

Skiing and surfing in the same month?

Ojai Valley School is really big on outdoor education, so we have a lot of camping trips throughout the academic year. I realized that in this month of March, I’m going on two trips that are for opposite types of activities. One is the Mammoth Mountain skiing trip and the other is a beach camping trip.

I just came back from the Mammoth Mountain skiing trip. I can’t move as much as usual because my arms, legs, and neck are sore from skiing and snowboarding. I can’t even think about surfing right at this moment, but I need to in a week, so I hope I feel better by then.

This experience – to have both of these trips happen in the same month – is only possible in California. It is crazy to think the weather can be this different in one state. I’m from Japan and I know for a fact that California is bigger in area than Japan, so this blows my mind.

Mammoth Mountain
Photo Credit: Evelyn Brokering

Tale as New as Time

On Friday, audiences will once again revisit the “tale as old as time” when the Beauty and the Beast makes its live action debut. The movie, featuring the amazing acting abilities of Emma Watson and other Hollywood veterans, has already been featured in many famous news platforms. Why? In an interview done by Attitude, a British magazine, the director, Bill Condon, revealed that LeFou, Gaston’s trusty sidekick, will be gay.

While he didn’t specifically say what will happen, this statement was met with many different reactions. To some members of the gay community, this was a breath of fresh air. Finally, Disney, a huge media influencer, has validated the gay community with its first “exclusively gay” moment. The fact that a character in such a beloved classic is out, or at least exploring his sexuality, is the representation that many wished they had when they were younger.

However, some members of the gay community were upset by this update. Ryan Houlihan, a Teen Vogue writer, states his ailments in the following, “They made the gay character a villain, relegated him to being a sidekick, gave this explicitly queer role to a straight actor, and then muddled the issue by making him sexually ‘confused’ – just to hedge their bets.” It’s also terrible that Lefou’s entire “gayness” is him pining over his unattainable straight friend. What the LGBT+ community needs is a gay character who gets his feelings reciprocated and a meaningful plot progression.

No matter the opinions, the media has gone into a frenzy about this new additive to the plot, making it a hot topic for new interviews of the stars. Emma Watson, the actress of the remade feminist Belle, made it quite clear that LeFou’s gay moment isn’t extremely pronounced, on the other hand, she called it “subtle.” Apparently, it’s a mystery whether he is in love with Gaston, as it isn’t written in the script.

Bill Condon thinks the attention is “overblown,” as Josh Gad’s character is featured in a background dance scene with another man. Condon’s response to this attitude surprises me. Saying that this movie will feature the first “exclusively gay moment” in Disney’s history is a pretty big deal, so being shocked by the media outburst seems a little odd.

Nevertheless, I’m excited to see this moment for myself, as I want to experience this revolutionary moment on the big screen this Friday. Watch a preview of LeFou’s famous “Gaston” here: