What makes good music 

I’ve always appreciated music, but for most of my life, I never listened to it. I consumed what my parents and friends listened to, there were songs I liked, and artists I didn’t, but never did I voyage to discover “new” music. Even in high school, I was the kid who said “oh I don’t really listen to music”, then, one day, something changed. It came in leu of befriending Adam who I greatly looked up to, he, like the others who have surrounded me, changed me through pointed jokes towards my seemingly ever-lacking personality. The first songs I listened to I played relentlessly and then disposed of when they no longer brought me joy, were decades-old pop songs such as 99 Luftballoons, You Spin Me Right Around, and Kiss. I liked these songs and still do, but they still didn’t feel right for me. These songs have millions of plays on Spotify and thousands may consider them the best of all time—at least in their respective genres—but I still couldn’t connect to them in a way I now knew possible as a result of the passion I saw in Adam for excellent music. I didn’t know it yet but I was in search of the perfect song (something I likely will never find). After old pop, I moved into rap, not the good kind, honestly like bad music, although I do appreciate them for what they are artist like bbno$ and Young Gravy has no place in the search for the best song of all time. It’s not to diss them but they create music not for the soul but for the pleasure of the masses. Now, I think I know what you’re thinking, “this kid just said popular songs can’t be good, twice.” While I do think there is a correlation between production for mass markets and production for emotional expression, many popular songs are that way because they truly tap into a deep human feeling that people can’t turn away from. Latino artists do this incredibly well. I recently played mi gente in the car with Logan and he called it “cringy” still, that song, despite its incredible popularity infuses you with energy in a way most songs could never do. Is Mi Gente the perfect song? No. Is it worth listening to? Absolutely. Another artsiest who accomplishes this emotional feat is Lauryn Hill. I know I’ve already talked about her but she has the infusion into her music that grabs your soul and holds it right in the rhythm and beat of the music. I think this is the beginning of a formula for a perfect song. Though like John Keating with poems, I really don’t think there can be a “formula” to a perfect song, rather, qualitative aspects add up to create something perfect. 





My Best Friend

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.

(My favorite baby picture of Ula) PC: Me

little things

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pc: me

I have so much love for little aspects of life. I love to water my plants. I love to pet my cat because of how loud her purr is. I love to sit on the kitchen counters while dinner is being made, the smell of food circulating the air. I love to imagine those smells as colors floating around me and illuminating the warmth that fills the kitchen. I love it when people make me laugh, It feels like I’m at a loss of breath, which is somehow the best feeling in the world. I love to take the most skin-curdling, brain-melting shower right before bed. I love to hug people goodbye, I imagine the smile on my face the next time I get to see them. I love the song “a day in the life” by the Beatles. I love the book Daisy Jones And The Six. I love to lay on the floor because the hardness feels like an anchor when my mind starts to spin. I love to go to the beach because the sand sticks to my skin. I love to wash the day off of my tired face. I love to smell candles but not light them because I don’t want them to go away too fast. I love white daisy’s in a mason jar. I love to propagate vines. I love to make eye contact with people and let them break it. I love to play with little kids. I love to be at home with my family. I love to watch Formula 1 races. I love to swim and ride my bike at night. I love my mom and dad. And even though he doesn’t think so, I really love Vaughn.

An astronomical waste of time

There are many things in this world that can be done to waste time and have little to no value. Personally, my favorite one to do is video games, because of the need to learn how to play the games that I play it takes a while sometimes to get my grip and actually learn how to play the game and be good at it. For example, one game that for a while I had a lot of fun playing was Apex Legends (a battle royale). I primarily played Apex because I enjoyed the mechanics and it was a game that many of my friends played at the time that I was engulfed in it. But shockingly I actually have played more time in a game called Valorant, yes I have played a game more than my 131 hours in Apex. That game that falls under my extreme amount of hours is Valorant boasting 156.5 hours of playtime. Even with all the large amount of hours in the game, I’m still not very great at it but it’s fun and I like to play it with friends making it an enjoyable activity. Though it is enjoyable it is a pretty solid waste of time in the grand scheme of things. I could be drawing or doing schoolwork while it was wasting my time relaxing. But Id suggests gaming to anyone anyways because of the laughs and the hype that you get when you do well in-game.

image credit AVG.com

Born Again

She is a woman

and who

by chance

was born a man

the mirror was simply inaccurate,

what she craved to see was a tall woman

a beautiful woman

slenderly wrapped in breasts and fragility,

the stubbled facial hair

the broad shoulders pulled together by biceps and chest muscles

was heart breaking,

and for a long time

too long of a time

all she felt was confusion she did not know why she hated herself

why she felt disgusted by her body

why she looked at herself and didn’t feel like she was actually looking at herself

it wasn’t until she was a teenager she broke free of her confusion

experimented with her happiness

broke social norms to find herself

she looks back now as a 24 year old,

as a tall beautiful woman

and feels remorse that she let herself suffer for so long because she did not search for what made her feel most herself

“Hormones to surgery to life style changes, the hardships and black holes of sadness and isolation made me who I am today. And baby, I am better than ever.”


Photo:Keith Rosen


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

Pushing through

About a year and a half ago I got a brand new mountain bike. I was like a little kid, getting all excited to ride around with it. The town my school is in is like a mountain bike paradise. There are many amazing trails for every level of skill. I started with some easy trails and each week I would go a little harder and harder. I could feel my muscles and stamina building up more and more. When the pandemic started, I was out on my bike every single day. It was my way of getting my energy out. I just hated sitting at my computer all day doing school work and I needed some way to release my built-up stress. Mountain-biking really helped me with that, and I had a blast every time I was on the trail.

During summer I left my bike in America while I went back to Germany. I came back to the U.S end of January and hadn’t biked at all since I left the U.S. I got my bike but being at boarding school made it hard for me to go biking. in mid-April, our outdoor-ed teacher announced several new overnight camping trips that were going out throughout April and May, one of those being a mountain bike trip. I was excited but on the other hand hesitant. I wasn’t on this list yet but I was able to sign up for it. I was hesitant because I was just so out of shape and hadn’t been biking in almost a whole year. I decided not to sign up because my anxiety just took a hold of me. I was really sad and still contemplating if I should just go. The day before the trip the outdoor-ed teacher came up to me and asked if I wanted to join on the trip as I had my bike in my room.

I decided to just get over my fear and said yes. I was nervous that I would be the one slowing them down the whole time and that I would always be the last. The next day we left campus and made our way to the campground. It was absolutely beautiful. In the afternoon we took our bikes and biked down to a waterhole. It was all downhill and it was absolutely amazing, I felt happy and just free. We swam for a while, ate dinner, and then it was time to return to the campground. I had biked that exact trail before and knew that the way back was an absolute pain because it was all uphill. There was one van driving back to the campground, but three of us had to bike back. I decided I would just push through it and bike the way back. 

The last time I had biked that road up I had to stop about 6 times to take a break because I was so exhausted. We started biking up the road and I felt good. We kept going and going uphill and I was very surprised that I wasn’t exhausted at all. I just kept pushing and pushing and then we made it to the top and I had a wave of happiness come over me. I was so happy because I improved so much from the last time I biked up that hill. It was an awesome trip and I am excited to keep mountain biking.

picture by author

Ending a chapter

Five more weeks. Only five more weeks and one of the biggest chapters of my life will come to an end. I came to America 3 years ago, planning on only staying for half a year. And now here I am, three years later. These have been the best three years of my life. I will miss this place more than I can explain. All the memories and people. It is hard leaving it behind. But I know that I will always be connected to this place and to the people. I know I will return, and I have made friendships for life here. 

Even though I am very sad to leave, I am also excited to see what the future will hold. I have so many plans and trips coming up that I can hardly wait for. I am taking a gap year in which I will be in a different country every month doing my wildlife photography. I am going on a 1-month backpacking trip in Montana and I have so many more plans, and then college. I couldn’t be happier with my college decision. I will be attending Montana State University. The location is absolutely beautiful, they have amazing programs, and their outdoor program is everything I was looking for in a college. The Yellowstone ecosystem is just 30 minutes away from campus and there are awesome ski resorts nearby.

I am incredibly sad to leave Highschool but I will never forget the people and memories I have made here. Thank you for the best three years of my life.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montana_State_University

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

Lonely in your own home

I moved to boarding school in America 3 years ago. Since then my life has changed completely. I feel like a different person. A better person. I grew up in the south of Germany. Beautiful mountains, living in the heart of the Black Forest. I always loved where I lived. But school in Germany can get tough, especially being in a Gymnasium. Ninth grade is said to be the hardest one of all. Everything comes together and just pushes you down. I felt stressed, anxious, and just not good enough. I had no motivation left because no matter how much work I put in I felt like it was never enough.

When I arrived in America it all changed. I finally felt truly happy again. The people were supportive and just so incredibly nice. It was so different, so… amazing. I finally was able to show what I was able to do, I didn’t feel hopeless or pressured anymore. The teachers were supportive and always helping. I immediately felt at home. The outdoor education trips were incredible, the people were incredible, everything was just perfect for me. This school has made me into a happier version of myself. It helped me discover what I am good at and what I want to do in the future.

And now this is my last year here. I can’t believe how fast time flies. This school will forever have a place in my heart, and I am truly thankful for it, for making me into the person I am today.

The classic dichotomy of senior year