There are only 7 more weeks of school until summer and I am so ready. This is what my perfect summer day looks like: I start off the morning reading in bed, then make myself a delectable smoothie bowl. I get ready – shower, pick out an outfit, brush my teeth, and put on some mascara and sunscreen. I work on my French course a little bit and do the NYT mini in the hammock outside. Before it gets too hot I might go on a bike ride in the meadow with Siya or Tomoki or them both. We make avocado toast and fresh lemonade for lunch.
Next, I drive to the beach, listening to Spotify’s Daily Drive (which mixes your favorite tracks with daily news and is my new favorite thing.) I meet up with friends here – let’s say Ula and Melia – and we sunbathe and swim and body-surf and laugh. We probably hit a thrift shop and pick up a burrito on the way back, before staying up all night together.
There is something so dauntingly beautiful about the word death. It is a term that means the end, but I do not think that is entirely true. I do not believe in god or heaven and hell, but I believe that the soul lives on. They protect and look over their loved ones. The souls of our lost ones can be seen in the cotton candy sunsets or in little insects that fly onto our shirts.
Death is sad, very sad, but it can also be something to appreciate. I can find peace that my grandfather’s body is laid to rest, no longer having to fight the arduous battle of poisonous cancer, but instead, his soul is with us whenever we gather as a family to eat. I can find peace that my Grandma Bobby is once again with her husband that passed many years before her. I know that my cousin is fishing with his dog and is enjoying a cold one. I know that my best friend, Little, is enjoying her cat naps in the sun rays that peak through the window panes.
Death still makes me weep and cry, but it also gives me a certain comfort. A comfort that when I or another loved one dies, I know that there will be peace. Whether it is surrounded by family enjoying delicious homecooked meals or by myself relaxing in a tube in Spring Creek, I know that death will be kind.
Friends, family, neighbors, and peers often ask me how my new school is going. Again and again, I tell them: “It’s a big transition.”
Coming in as a junior is challenging because everyone is already familiar with the teachers and classes. I finally feel I’ve adjusted to the academic side, but it took at least a quarter of the school year.
Socially, it’s also been difficult, as everyone already has friend groups that have formed over the length of two years. It’s not that I don’t have friends at school – I have people to talk to in class, people to sit with at lunch – but outside of OVS, I tend to see people from my old school.
I miss them so much. I miss sitting next to Ula in every class and laughing with Siya in the lunch line. I miss my favorite teacher, Marie, and our advisories out on the soccer field. I miss hugging Danielle and Estrella each morning, working with Tomoki on math homework, and all the other mundane activities that, in reality, meant so much to me.
I spend every weekend catching up with these incredible people, but for the other five days of the week, it feels like a piece of my life or even of myself, is missing. “It will take time to adjust,” I tell people. Eventually, I will find a balance between these two parts of my life. But for now, I’m trapped in the space between.
Last week, I noticed a blog post about the author’s best friend, which has inspired me to talk about one of my strongest relationships.
My best friend is named Ula. Ula is 5″8 with brown hair tinged red and green eyes streaked with gold. Freckles speckle every inch of her skin and someday she is going to get a dot tattoo to symbolize the love she has developed for this feature, as well as her womanhood and power.
Ula is beautiful. Her smile is one of the most radiant I have ever witnessed and a contagious laugh. Sometimes we laugh together to such lengths that no sound escapes our lips and we gasp for air between fits of giggles.
Ula wouldn’t hurt a fly. She rescues spiders from her bathtub, lets mosquitos feast on her blood rather than swat them away, goes on camping trips in cow pastures, and wouldn’t leave her dog’s side during its final days. Sasha is now buried under the oak tree on her property and when Ula thinks of her, her eyes well with tears. Ula will not lie either. On the rare occasion that she must, her voice grows timid and shaky, a pitch too high, and her golden green eyes will not make contact with another pair.
If Ula were a season, she would be springtime, and if she were a place, she would be a wildflower meadow cut through by a rushing stream. If Ula were an animal, she would be a smiley manatee. And if she was an emotion, my Ulita would be pure joy.
This is not just to make Mr. Alvarez happy. I am beyond angry that I got covid, not because of the amount of late work I’m doing this fine Sunday night and not because of the stress I currently face around college, but because it likely destroyed my shot of finishing my last cross country season successfully. For three years i have struggled, fought, and cried over my times in cross country and each year i’ve gotten a little but better. This year, before I even had covid it felt like I had reached a plateau in my running yet every day that passes that I sit in my room I get more and more hopeless about running in the 18s this season. Cross Country is very strange, as far as running in total goes my times are dismal and downright bad but the amount of effort and work I’ve put in makes me proud of them, in the end though it’s futile because I will never go anywhere with running i’ll just finish this season and likely never run in the same sense again yet still I have this need and desire to keep trying my best and keep pushing beyond what I’m capable of. This stretch of covid has just made the fight so much harder and it’s difficult to keep going especially with a positive attitude that’s necessary for captainship.
I’ve always hated the school bus, my lack of power and choice of where it goes and when it arrives, it’s never the right temperature in a school bus. You sit there with a sweaty back sticking to the faux leather seats (why do they try so poorly to imitate leather, nobody expects a bus to be a Chariot of luxury) which somehow are always a little too upright. The smell of a bus can never be replicated, like a quiet locker room with some freeway pollution. Your knees press against the seat in front of you desperately trying to get comfortable, that’s an uphill battle— nobody has ever left the school bus feeling refreshed and ready to go. The moment I could finally get my license arrived after freshman year, never again would I be tainted by the horrendous thing they called a vehicle. Never again would I wait hours for it to arrive at the upper campus, and never again would I be forced into that place that’s never big enough, warm enough, or cold enough. Or so I thought since I’m writing this as I make the arduous journey to LA in such a school bus, it’s one of the last times I’ll ride one and there is something so reminiscent of a time I’d long forgotten. This is the new bus though, I never rode it freshman year, still, I’m sitting in the very back and every bump seems to fly us into the air. Still, I’m sweating more than I will in the cross-country race I’m about to run. And still, I think we likely will be late as we travel a whopping fifty-five miles per hour through Woodland Hills. There is something beautiful about a school bus though. The way it groans and struggles to move. Each mile, each foot it travels another desperate journey that it somehow completes without complaint. I like the sounds the bus makes. Every jolt leads to a new one, a hiss of air releasing from the suspension, the squeak of the seats jumping up and down, the sounds of students talking, and the ambiguous notes of music from someone’s AirPods turned up too loud. I like that I have no control over where I’m going or when I’ll be there, perhaps the most relaxing thing I’ll ever do is ride a school bus. The school bus doesn’t care about who you are or what you want, it doesn’t care if you’re working hard enough or if you need to take some time for yourself, it just keeps on struggling one more foot, one more mile, one more groan, hiss, and squeak.
Much like other young to middle-aged men at the beginning of fall, I am now the coach, general manager, and owner of my own football team. This is a serious occupation. I spend much of my time researching free-agent players to see if I can improve my team. I consistently read the injury report to keep my players healthy. I constantly communicate with my fellow coach/general manager/owners to facilitate trades. While some may call this “fantasy” football, it is no fantasy. This is a real commitment, and some people just can’t handle it.
I build a relationship with my players. Forever after the season’s end, I will never forget the players who played for me. I hope Justin Herbert, Chargers QB, will take me to glory this season. The first week didn’t go so well, but I hope to have a strong season. Derrick Henry aka King Henry is my star player, he totaled 8 points in week one, a disappointing performance. He is, however, called King for a reason, so I know he will bring me my crown this season.
I have gotten into a lot of discussions recently about the best way to organize one’s music library. This discussion goes beyond the typical Apple Music vs Spotify discussion. While that discussion is equally important, there is a right answer (the right answer being Spotify). The discussion of what is the best way to organize music is open-ended and transcends the void of the preferred listening platform. That is unless you use a platform like Pandora, a radio station, and if you use Pandora, I will respectfully avoid interactions with you.
I organize music by just shuffling my liked songs. This is mainly inefficient. Unless I find new music consistently, I end up listening to the same songs way too often. Also, when I play music while hanging out with friends, I have to put a lot of attention into making sure the music fits the “vibe”. I used to organize music by having one playlist for every day of the week, and while this worked for me, once again my playlists did not always fit the “vibe” of hangouts due to the mixed-up genres.
Probably the more efficient way of organizing music is having one playlist of all the songs I like, which I would listen to while driving or working by myself. Then I would have a few playlists of some different “vibes”; like summer beach days, light night vibes, or just chilling. Which would allow me to have more versatility when playing the role of DJ.
My favorite video game series ever is FIFA. I grew up playing the career mode and play nows against my cousins, so playing today reminds me of those times. I remember once, my cousin played me when I was 8 and he kept the ball the whole game, scoring at the last minute of each half. I cried the whole time, but he blocked the door and wouldn’t let me stop playing.
Anyways, in the 10 years since then, I have grown up with FIFA. I moved from career mode to online seasons in FIFA 17 and switched to the ultimate team in FIFA 22. I play in my free time and I played all summer, so I got really good this year, but when school started, I realized I couldn’t play because the wifi at my grandparents was so bad. Solely playing on the weekends didn’t suffice, I needed a solution.
That’s when I realized I could play at school during free periods. Since that realization, I have been playing on the college counseling room tv during all my frees and have been doing homework at home instead of during frees.
I am excited for school to be out so I can play FIFA all year. Here is a photo of my ultimate team’s best player’s card.
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