One Year

One year ago I remember clearly.

I had my guitar on my shoulder, leaving the warm dorms to trek across the chilly campus to my weekly music lesson, but the air was different than usual.

Everyone was huddled outside, talking as they saw smoke in the distance and hues of red burning in the sky that felt so distant at that moment.

“Are you really going to your lesson right now? There’s a fire,” my friend asked me.

Of course I would go to my lesson. It was my favorite part of Monday nights. Plus, the fire was nowhere near us, nothing would happen, and nothing would change.

Oh, how I was wrong.

Everything changed.

Photo Credit: pbs.org

Yet, so many things stayed the same.

One year later, I’m getting ready to go to my Monday night guitar lesson.

I have a new guitar, but it means so much more now. I appreciate it more now.

I’m still in a dorm room, wondering what I’ll be getting for secret snowflake tomorrow.

But I’m in a new dorm room, with a new roommate, on a new part of campus.

I don’t have the same clothes I had a year ago. The same photos, yearbooks, or blankets.

But, I have the photos I’ve taken since then.

My stuffed animal and All Time Low pillow I saved from the fire.

I still have the memories of the fire.

The ones that haunt me.

The ones that bring me to tears thinking about what I lost, what my friends lost, and what the whole school lost.

But, the memories remind me of how I became a stronger person since.

How my friends became stronger.

How the school became stronger.

How the county’s stronger.

More united.

More appreciated.

I still remember the day I returned from Christmas break and stepped on to campus and moved into the new dorms.

Being welcomed by overwhelming support, welcome back goodie bags, and hugs from my friends.

Seeing my horse for the first time since the fire and knowing he was safe and healthy. That all the other horses were safe.

The fire was so destructive, so horrible, but so many things came out of it that I’m more thankful now for than ever.

It’s been one year and I’m still sensitive to the scent of smoke and fire, to the sound of news about other California fires on the TV.

But, one year later, the mountains are a little greener.

My home is still stronger than ever.

And that’s the most beautiful thing of all.

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Enough is Enough

“I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts, I want gun control. And I hope to God nobody sends me anymore prayers. I want gun control. No more guns” Susan Orfanos pleaded.
A year before the shooting in Thousand Oaks, her son, Telemachus Orfanos, was at the shooting in Las Vegas. Telemachus survived the deadly attack and saved others as well.
Brendan Hoolihan, another Las Vegas Survivor stated “he easily saved hundreds of lives.”
The twenty-seven-year-old military veteran was shot and killed November 7th, 2018 at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks.
Just twelve days later, four were killed in a hospital shooting in Chicago.
There have been 62 mass shootings so far in President Trump’s term.
Trump has tweeted about getting free tickets, how the White House is decorating for Christmas, how people from Pakistan are fools, how he has “never seen thin people drinking Diet Coke,” how Robert Pattison can do much better than going back to Kristen Stewart, and countless other pointless things.
Trump has tweeted seven tweets about how Pattison should move on from his Twilight costar, yet of these 62 shootings, he has only tweeted about three.  Dear Trump, just because you think Robert Pattison going back to Kristen Stewart is far more important than the gun control crisis taking place in America, the remaining sane people in our country disagree.
Trump’s tweets on the shootings include:
“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families”
“School shooting in Texas. Early reports not looking good. God bless all!”
“My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting.”
Dear Trump, dear America, thank you for thoughts and prayers, but thoughts and prayers are no where close to what we need. We need change. We need gun control.
Photo Credit: MSNBC.com

 

Open Your Eyes

Open your eyes.

Is this what you wanted all along?

Four score and seven years ago,

you thought you’d forever be free.

Is this liberty to you?

Open your eyes

and tell me what you see is just.

Dead children in school hallways,

cartridge cases underneath bar stools,

mothers too exhausted to cry

because they had to outlive their children.

Photo Credit: upload.wikimedia.org

Open your eyes

and tell me again

that this is just for us all.

We are not primitive,

we need no weapons to defend our honor,

no death to feel alive and safe.

Your thoughts and prayers are with us

and your gun is pointed at our chests.

Think and pray if you think that helps.

To amend means to change,

not to rely on for eternity

disregarding how many lives must go.

Open your eyes

and tell me

the blood in the hallways isn’t on your hands,

the cartridge cases aren’t yours.

Change must happen, if only you’d see.

Please, for the people,

open your eyes.

 

Enough Is Enough

February 14th, 2018, a day supposed to symbolize love, will now forever be a reminder to students, friends, and families of how seventeen students were murdered in the last place kids should have to worry about being killed – a school.

October 27th, 2018, was the day when eleven Jews were killed in a synagogue, a place of worship.

November 7th, 2018, was the day college students were enjoying a night out at a bar and 12 people were murdered.

All of these people died at shootings. All of theses deaths were at the hands of horribly evil people with easy access to guns.

When will enough be enough?

How many people have to die until change happens?

Photo Credit: JordanCooper.com

How many parents have to send their kids to school one day not knowing if they’ll ever get to see their child again?

How many kids have to walk into school every day and go through classes scared of the possibility of being put on lockdown, getting injured, or getting killed?

How many people have to say goodbye to their best friends, partners, and loved ones?

The answer is too many, because people would rather have their rights to guns than have children live.

The right for someone to live should override the right for someone to have a gun.

Yes, guns don’t kill people, people do, but people use guns to kill. People have such easy access to guns that the line blurs and guns themselves are just as much of a threat as the people who have the right to hold them.

We’re not asking to outlaw guns, but we’re asking for restrictions. We’re asking to make schools safe again. To enjoy time at concerts, restaurants, churches, mosques, and synagogues without having to be afraid of being shot at.

Because enough is enough and change needs to happen.

Is This Democracy?

In North Dakota, a voter ID law was passed that states: in order to vote one must have a street address. If the mail man does not deliver to your home, it is not considered an address. No street address=no vote.

In North Dakota, thirty-five percent of the population does not have an “acceptable” address. A large part of this thirty-five percent are the Native Americans who can trace their lineage to North Dakota dating back to the 1830’s.

Over sixty percent of the Native Americans live on reservations and use P.O. boxes to receive their mail.

Over sixty percent of the Native Americans in North Dakota are refused a right that they were born with: the right to be a part this so-called “democracy.”

In Florida, many polling places in the towns of minorities were locked and closed, despite the fact that they were supposed to be opened on voting days.

Piles of ballots were also left uncounted. In the 2000 presidential election, 179,855 ballots were “invalidated” and uncounted. 53% percent of these ballots came from black or Democratic voters.

In Alabama, a law was passed that, in order to vote, one must have a photo ID taken at the D.M.V. Alabama has closed 31 of 67 D.M.V. locations. Almost all of these of these 31 closings are in counties that are home to poor and black people.

There are 250,000 registered voters who are now unable to vote due to the ID law. The majority of these 250,000 are impoverished, African-Americans, or both.

Selma took place over fifty years ago, but it seems like some things in Alabama will never change.

These are few of the many injustices taking place in our country today. The list of minorities being targeted and denied the right to vote goes on and on…

Ask yourself: Is this democracy?

Photo from worldatlas.com

 

Don’t believe me or want to read more? Check the cold, hard facts:

https://www.aclu.org/blog/voting-rights/voting-rights-act/alabamas-dmv-shutdown-has-everything-do-race

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/07/black-voter-suppression-rights-america-trump

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/north-dakotas-native-americans-law-blocks-populations-vote/story?id=58912062

An Ode to My Adolescence

photo credit: pinterest.com

An ode to my adolescence.

An ode to self-discovery. To the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that I hope to experience over and over again.

To the sunsets and the waves.

To driving with the windows down, blasting music and singing along.

To the late nights. To the stars.

To always being tired.

To the pile of work that seems to grow bigger and bigger no matter how fast I dig through it.

To the boy who doesn’t call anymore.

To my constant need to impress people, to earn their approval.

To not caring at all, then caring too much.

To my hopes and dreams, which are always changing, but always becoming more exciting.

To my fears. To making mistakes.

To being sixteen years old, an age that I’ve been waiting to be for a very long time.

To my best friends, who make every day worth while, and who are some of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had. I couldn’t imagine better people to spend this time with.

To living in the moment.

People tell us these are the best days of our lives. They pass too quickly.

 

 

 

Making an Impact by Reducing It

I saw this tweet a few days ago and I think it is something we all need to be more concerned with.

And, it’s not just about climate change, it’s about everything involving the environment. We’ve done a lot of damage. When it comes to bettering our environment, it’s too late for preventative measures. We’re just playing catch up now.

Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing. We’re so used to living the way that we do, it’s not always easy to put the planet first.

If you want to reduce your impact or help the planet but don’t know how, here are a few things you can try implementing into your routine:

Photo Credit: pinterest.com
  • Say no to plastic. The next time you eat out, tell your server you don’t need straws. Especially, if it’s fast food. There is no reason for you to take a lid and a straw for your drink. Buy glass bottles instead of plastic ones – they’re easier to recycle. If you’re planning on eating out, bring reusable containers to take left overs home.
  • Be mindful of product packaging. For example, buy bar soap instead of liquid soap. This can include shampoos and conditioners; there are plenty of eco-friendly options that don’t use plastic packaging. Don’t buy anything with excessive packaging. Cardboard or paper packages are the best options. Buy in bulk as much as you can.
  • Buy second hand. I understand that, from time to time, it’s nice to treat yourself to a new item and that’s fine. But, for the most part, you can find everything you need at thrift stores and you’ll save money too. There are also plenty of websites where you can buy used items (for those of you who like online shopping).
  • Keep it local. Shop at farmer’s markets and support local businesses. Buy produce that is in season. This reduces the distances that items need to be transported and causes less fuel emissions.
  • Don’t waste food. Shop for groceries using a list and only buy what you need. Don’t cook more food than you can eat. It is better to have no leftovers at all, but, if you do, try to actually eat them later.

If you’re looking for more ways to reduce your impact, do some research. There is so much information out there that can help us be better.

I’m not perfect. I try my best to be conscious of everything I do and the impact it will have, but I still have a lot of ways in which I could be better.

To some people, conservation might seem like a hopeless cause. But as long as we’re trying, if each day we do one more thing that reduces our impact, then, there is still hope.