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

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

A Culmination

I present my Capstone this Wednesday. It is a culmination of my experiences in high school, and a chance to share a topic I am passionate about. For my “project,” I fostered kittens. Not only will I share my experience, but I hope to educate others on how to care for animals and why it is a community responsibility.

Fostering is vital to the life of every cat. The Humane Society is filled with kittens, yet nobody considers where those kittens were for the first eight weeks of life. Every kitten was either raised outside by their feral mom, or they were fostered by someone who sacrificed their time to raise a kitten.

Fostering kittens gave me firsthand experience with the issue of finding homes for cats. While I “foster-failed” and ended up keeping one of the kittens, I did not have room in my then five-cat household to keep another. I named her Blue, and we took her to the Humane Society where she was adopted.

I look forward to sharing my experience and enthusiasm with my school, and I hope to inspire others to foster kittens and save lives.

Image Credit: Hannah Shaw

Spring

Each year, spring seems to be the most overwhelming season. School begins to speed up as we are faced with tasks each day.

Now that the pandemic is slowly returning to normalcy as more students come onto campus, we are catching up on what we missed. This, however, results in the cramming of a years’ worth of experience into a single month. It is enjoyable in its little moments, though when I look at my planner, the words begin to blend into each other as the pages are smeared with hastily placed pencil marks. I return to my planner hourly, adding both academic assignments and extracurricular events. It is covered with reminders, such as bring my costume for the musical, or drop off a scholarship application.

I enjoy each day thoroughly, though looking ahead can be overwhelming. The tasks for one day are manageable, though skimming the multiple notes and plans for the week can feel as though it all must be done that day.

Perspective is vital to managing a planner. I always note that I am living in only one of the days on the page, and it is not yet time to manage the others. This spring may be busy, though it is my last opportunity to experience high school. I plan to enjoy every day, as they are my final moments on this campus.

Spring
Image Credit: Alina Demidenko – iStock

Journalism

Journalism can be strange. It is a new way of facilitating my love for writing, yet with emphasis on the most important element – storytelling. Instead of researching my topics online, I now must go into the world and obtain information from people.

The reactions differ – some are more than happy to tell their story. Others, however, remain reserved as you push your way into their schedule. I enjoy the social element of journalism. I have an intriguing conversation with at least one person per week.

Journalism has taught me how to reach out to people, even if you don’t know them. I understand the format of an interview request email, and how to conduct a conversation where I get the other person to say all the right things. In journalism, I am but the message man, bringing other people’s stories into the limelight. I have enjoyed this experience as it has shifted me away from academic writing, improved my social skills, and made me a better storyteller.

Image Credit: Nicole Schuman

A Page of Four Years

February has brought about the time to create senior pages. I have spent time scrolling through my camera roll, searching for the perfect photos that can encapsulate four years of high school into a single 8″x10″ page.

I found photos of my friends. Photos of projects I had done in art class. Photos I had taken for AP World History projects. Sifting through hundreds of memories to find the most valuable moments has proven to be more difficult than I had thought. I have narrowed it down to about forty photographs, which, if I were to use them all, would be about a centimeter wide each.

While small on paper, many memories still remain as vivid as the day I experienced them. I remember carving pumpkins at my freshman Halloween dance. Is that memory less valuable than the time I hung my art in an exhibit? Do I feature friends, experiences, or accomplishments? What photograph will take up the most space?

As I sift through the photos, I imagine what words will be written on a page. I could write a classic senior quote, a thank you to those who helped me through school, or simply my name in a basic font.

I know my senior page will encapsulate my high school experience as I remember it. I just need to find what moment will serve as the biggest picture.

Yearbook
Image Credit: Josten’s Memory Book

Rain

Cold winter days often seem to fall short of the media’s predictions. We scheduled an early departure from school in anticipation of dangerous storms, though we’re met with trickles of water creating small puddles in dry dirt.

I tend to dress dramatically for the cold. I wear two pears of socks, two jackets, and keep a spare pair of gloves in my backpack. I prefer to overheat than freeze from the brisk winds. My wardrobe has many jackets, though only one of them I have deemed warm enough for January weather.

Although the cold is difficult, I do hope for adventure’s sake that we experience more rain. I keep my prized umbrella tucked away in my backpack, waiting for the day when I can use it again. I enjoy the trek from classroom to classroom as I use my umbrella as a shield from the harsh sky. February is likely to bring more rain, and I won’t put my umbrella away until the sun is revealed.

Image Credit: Ali Berman

Mural

Right now I am planning for a mural I will be painting on former OVS teacher, Ms. Pasqua’s house. She has inspired me to paint a scene of Ojai with the Topa Topa mountains lined with inspirational quotes. This mural is an outlet for me to express my passion in the fight for equity.

The Ojai Valley has given me so many opportunities to improve myself as an artist, and painting a mural visible to its residents is my way of giving back to the community. I have had practice with this form of art in middle school when we worked on large-scale projects. I helped to work on the Fourth of July parade floats as well as life-size paper mache projects. I painted giant decorations to add to our OVS float, and created letter-signs that spelled out the name of our school.

Growing up and seeing the beautiful murals in Ventura County, I have always wanted to add my own color to the town. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to gain more experience with painting and share my art with the Ojai community.

The Ventura Mural that inspired me to paint on a larger scale.
Image Credit: Lu Ross Academy

Starting Small

I have begun selling jewelry to share my hobby with others. It was an arduous process, first creating unique designs, then waiting until the perfect moment in the day where the sun could accent my photographs. I propped my jewelry up against white satin and took four photos of each piece.

Now that I had the photographs, I had to list the jewelry and create titles for each one. My jewelry ranges from sleek, dainty earrings to pearl necklaces with crystal accents. I adjusted the price adequately for each listing, and my shop was up and running.

I created an Instagram account for my shop, @jewels.by.jocy, and now post not only the collection itself, but tips on styling and sneak peaks at new jewelry designs.

For a while I had no sales, though when I began to advertise online, I had received two orders. Now came the many ideas for packaging.

I invested in prettier packing supplies than the ones I had in my desk, and now my jewelry comes propped on custom cards, tucked neatly into a white lace bag with extra floral stickers, and packed away into a bubble mailer with pink crinkle cut paper. I seal it off with a golden sticker before driving it to the post office, ready to find its new home.

Shop my jewelry on Depop @jocyvgonz ❤

Handmade Golden Earrings ❤

My Turtle Koa

For Christmas my grandma gave me a turtle. Her name is Koa, and she came with a little bead bracelet and a card to track her movements in the wide ocean. I scanned her code, and my phone displayed a map of where she was released.

Her journey began on the coast of Florida as her rescuers released her into the wild. I could see she had already swam miles up the coast of the United States. She had passed Georgia territory and was nearing North Carolina.

Her little fins took her across half of the country, and halfway back. When I had previously thought about sea creatures, I had always imagined they’d stay in one area that they called home. My experience with Koa, however, has showed me that she is a true explorer of the ocean with no limits or boundaries.

I am grateful to have a connection to a living part of the ocean that I can check in on each day.

Image Credit: Shane Meyers