Learning to Fly Again

You gave me a purpose

when I didn’t believe.

You pulled me from the dirt,

kissed me, and forgave me.

You taught me to feel

and you stuck around

when no one would.

I guess you’ve been here all along.

You pushed me off; I thought I died.

But I didn’t.

I learned to fly.

I was just afraid of heights.

The time came; I was ready.

I smiled crying,

sank to my knees,

and forgave the hands that hurt me.

“Leap For Joy” by Emily Olson

Smoothie Criminal

As I joined the workforce over summer I found an underlying passion for making smoothies. From the outside smoothies seem basic and boring; but once I was introduced into the world of smoothie making my eyes were opened for the first time in my life. A good smoothie is defined by a smooth texture and an even yet diverse flavor profile. I mastered my techniques while working full time at a deli, juggling responsibilities and multiple orders at a time, while still sanctioning my control over every ingredient and the overall texture of the cool beverage. In the end, smoothie making taught me to keep a level head through adversity.

Photo Credit: tasteofhome.com

The Great Schuette Adventure

photo credit: Colorado Ski Country USA

Crested Butte, Colorado. The best place to ski during the winters and get bitten by ants in the summer.

The duration of my vacation was about two weeks and it started with driving to TacoTime. The closest TacoTime was at a Vegas truck stop, the food made my stomach hurt. After eating the deep fried burritos, we started driving to St. George, Utah.

The view was spectacular and the climate was hot, like once I stepped outside the car I felt as though I was going to die from heatstroke. My sister and I swam in the pool, she tried to drown me. The next day we went on a hike on the outskirts of Zion National Park. The hike was called Spring Creek and it was in a slot, the different colors of the rocks were breathtaking.

After the long hike we explored St. George. We went to a couple of thrift shops, we did not find anything cool enough to buy, and visited Brigham Young’s winter home. We learned all about the Mormon church and were even approached to join, but we didn’t convert.

The next day we went on a small walk to Dixie rock and drove up Kolob Canyon. We made a couple of pit stops because pictures or it didn’t happen. Eventually we made it to our one mile hike to a lookout spot. While walking back to the car we heard a rattle, we almost got attacked by a rattlesnake.

After a couple of hours, more like nine hours, and a McDonald’s pitstop we made it to Grand Junction, Colorado. I tried Dairy Queen the first time, not worth the hype. We finally made it to Gunnison.

Our trip consisted of hiking, hiking, and more hiking. We hiked down the entirety of Crested Butte Mountain during a lightning and thunderstorm. The weather was bipolar, either too hot or too rainy and stormy. I toured my first college, Western Colorado University. The campus was gorgeous and the school had lots to offer, but Gunnison is the most boring town in existence.

My mom, sister, and I all went rafting. Every time we are in Colorado during the summer we go rafting, and get the craziest photos. Our family met us in Colorado and we went to an insanely late dinner, our reservation was at 9 O’clock pm. We went to a place called Slogars, they specialize in fried chicken.

Overall the trip to Colorado was amazing, but it was time to head back home. We drove to Bryce Canyon, Utah. It was two Best Westerns and that was basically the town. The food was not good, like LAUSD’s cafeteria food was more edible. In the morning we went to hike the Peekaboo Loop trail. It turns out that since there were mudslides before the trail was closed we illegally hiked a trail.

My mom found a nice restaurant in the town over, and the food was actually edible. We ordered pork chops, burrata, bread (OMG the bread was to die for), crab mac and cheese, french onion soup and a carrot salad. We could not leave without getting dessert, so we got three different options: chocolate bourbon mousse, cheesecake, and a rhubarb crumble.

The next day it was time for us to head home, we drove and drove and drove until we home. The trip was amazing but being home and sleeping in my own bed was exhilarating.

Confusion of the heart

There are moments when I find myself caught in the cross fire between my heart and my head. I often cant decided weather or not I should listen to the voices in my head telling me what to do, or my heart guiding me in in the direction of possible heart break. I want to follow the direction of my heart, but my head always stops me and poses the question of “what if”

So now when my mind is blank, the thought of the matter at hand will cross my previously calm mind. And suddenly, there’s a sense of panic that overtakes me and I feel uneasy. As if I am stuck with a decision that for one reason or another, my mind can not physically comprehend because my heart will still get in the way.

One way or another, my heart and mind play tricks on each other, but both only have the best of intensions for my own happiness. So there lies the conflict, when is it that I listen to my head, and when do I listen to my heart?

Is it worth the minor lapses of fear and judgment for potential happiness? Or is it that I should disregard both and simply try and play it safe.

Even that question is too grand to answer for myself. So I still remain to question decisions, or simply protect myself from a risk just to avoid the confusion of my heart. I consistently bombard myself with the age old question of “what if?”

But maybe someday, I will listen to the deep feelings being stirred in my heart and follow that, for it could lead me to my greatest potential happiness. Maybe I will rebut the question of “what if?” with “why not?”.

photo credit: https://allpoetry.com/

An Observation

From here I see my campus from an aerial view. If I turn around, I see the backs of the display books in the library. I feel as if I am spying on my own classes, looking through the glass as if admiring a fish tank. The empty space is filled with reflections of light as the mountains project onto the classroom air. The ceiling is as busy as the ground, as the light blends the air the way water blends light.

The soft, patchy hills feel uninviting up close as the pine needles keep me seated delicately. The towering trees are no mightier than grass in the valley, as the vertical space of campus is dominated by mountains, surrounded by empty air.

The birds aren’t tied to the ground. The space is theirs, and they are free to exist on a higher plane. They have their own conversations up here. They chatter amongst each other as I do with my friends in the confines of the trees. 

For this moment, I am with them. I exist on the higher plane, resisting the hour where I will return to my path on the game board of campus. The ground is vast, and I never considered my ability to break my trails. I’ve existed on this campus for years, and I’ve traced the same route each day, etching my footprints into the ground. I’ve left spaces abandoned and ignored. There are pockets in the trees where I’ve never set foot. The heart of campus is in the green leaves, though I experience life on the white concrete, referencing the trees as accessories.

From afar, these trees are the campus. Each little patch on the mountain is a three dimensional plant that stands alone. The buildings are silent amongst the loud winds that rush through the branches, and are invisible behind the deep, warm tones of nature. Before returning to my concrete trail, I will keep in mind where the life of campus resides. My existence circles the trees, and my classroom is not as tall as I once believed.

Image Credit: Home Stratosphere

Fully Vaxxed (well sorta)

I have both shots as of yesterday, and all I can say is wahoo!

I mean the first shot made me really tired and my arm sore, but nothing really bad. And the second shot caused me to get chills, massive headaches, and pass out. But all I can say is hallelujah… I am vaccinated and can finally start getting back to normal.

I still have to wait a couple weeks until I can leave my house without mask, according to the CDC guidelines, but it is one step closer to normalcy. I still plan on wearing a mask for many reasons- to protect myself, to protect those who haven’t gotten a vaccine, and to make it known that I am not an anti- masker or a republican.

photo credit: international disability alliance

Speaking of normalcy, what is it? It is not like I will be going to massive parties or hanging in large groups, I did not even do that before the pandemic. I think normalcy is going outside without a mask, making plans- such as brunch with friends or shopping at the mall- and seeing family members I haven’t been able to see since the start of COVID.

Being vaccinated will allow me to do “normal” everyday things and activities without the fear of catching a deadly virus.

capstone pt. 12

That all changed when she brought me to the ocean

In those rich minutes the light was warm gold,

viscous, she let it in

floating in the sodium and the waves.

Rocking back and forth

I fought the ocean,

that colossal blue,

as it pulled the warmth from my heavy limbs,

Suspended four inches from the plexiglass surface,

blowing fat bubbles that distorted your reflection.

Time changed that though,

and warm gold became cool to the touch

sad skin

No matter how warm

Rubs against mine

Like pruned fingers

on paper

Vaccine

Today I got the vaccine, and boy can’t I be more relieved. I feel safer knowing that I am almost fully vaccinated.

I got the first dose today and in a couple of weeks, I am going to get the second dose. I encourage anyone who can to get the shot- it is painless and will protect you from COVID. I know there were lots of disputes around these vaccines- Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson- but whichever one you get will help you tremendously.

I am not one to be afraid of needles and this shot felt like nothing, I didn’t even flinch.

Photo credit: CDC

If you can please get one, it is the most relieving feeling ever. The wave of joy is really hard to explain, you want to jump for joy. Soon enough life can go back to normal and we can hang out with large groups of people. Unfortunately even if you are vaccinated hanging out in large groups can’t happen yet. This due to the fact that not everyone is vaccinated yet.

Slowly but surely everything with be back to normal.

Scheduling

As graduation comes near, I have filled nearly every block in my schedule with events. I’ve needed to purchase more clothes to accommodate the frequency at which I will need to dress up.

With back-to-back formal events, it feels as though we are making up for a year of lost time. Due to quarantine, I have not worn formal attire in almost two years. This schedule is typical for end-of-year seniors, though I often find myself opening my planner a bit too often out of excitement.

Having a filled calendar gives me something to look forward to each day or week. Even if it’s just a final exam, that day has something written on it. My school planner is running out of pages, and the schedule has grown so long that I may need to purchase next school year’s calendar early.

With all of these plans, I hope that the blank days following graduation will not feel empty. I have plans for the summer as well as college to attend, though, while I look forward to the break, I plan to enjoy every day of this busy May.

Image Credit: Quapaw Area Council

One month in Africa

In October I will be going on a one-two month-long safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya. I have visited Africa several times now for my photography expedition, but they usually only lasted between 1-2 weeks. Now I am ready for something bigger. I am incredibly excited, but part of me is also very nervous. One month of getting up at 4.30 am every morning, being on safari for about 11-12 hours a day can be very tiring and intimidating. But it is what I love, and I am more than excited about this adventure. Every day being out with these amazing animals, taking pictures, and sharing them with the world, what an absolute dream!

I have met so many amazing people through my photography: guides, other photographers, and even scientists. We all have the same passion; protecting these beautiful animals and sharing their beauty with the world to conserve them for many more generations to see.

I believe animals can teach us so much and they can help people. For me, I am just happy when I am among wildlife, all my stress is gone and I just feel relaxed. Doing my photography has helped me a lot through hard times, and it never fails to make me happy. Getting feedback from people who admire your work is so motivating and it makes you proud to have come where you are now.

picture by author