Monday, November 30, 2015

My Advice from the Grave (To Future Seniors... High School Seniors)

I'm not actually dying, but I am in the middle of the college applications process, so... same thing. This whole semester is why I have not updated this blog in months (in addition to having a total lack of creativity). However, good things have come of it. I got into Kent State, Wittenberg, and Baldwin Wallace thus far. Now, I'm waiting for responses from Howard and University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and then I will apply to Northwestern and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor last. I am every bit as nervous about applying to Northwestern as I thought I would be, but I know that I definitely will not attend if I never apply, so I might as well see what happens.

After taking these months off from blogging, I have learned a few things about myself and my senior year as a whole, and have decided to pass on what I know.

Don't beat yourself up over dropping a class.

I dropped two classes this year; I dropped a liberal arts course so that I could join a more difficult class, and a math because it was actually too difficult. I started out the year as a university Calculus student and am now a senior taking Pre-Calculus. Is it embarrassing? Honestly, yes. But, I have an A in that class (well, actually, at the moment I have a C, but my GPA for last quarter has a big fat 4.0 written on it, so I give zero...). The kids taking DEP Calculus are scoring lower than they normally do in math.

I know that I would not be doing well mentally if I chose to stay on that track, and my school does not have a normal calculus class. So, I'm taking a more advanced precalc course. However, at the end of the day, my A in precalculus looks a heck of a lot better on a transcript than the Cs some of the calculus kids have. Why? Because I know when I'm dealing with something I'm not ready to handle.

I had never dropped a class until this school year; I have always fought for what I have. So yes, it hurts that I didn't stick with it. But when the time comes, I'll be confident. And when it comes time to take calculus again, I know I'll be ready.

And remember, kids: it's better to drop a class than to fail it.

Get a job, or don't.

I have a job at a local library (no longer a volunteer-- full-fledged employee!) and I absolutely love it. I work three to four days a week, so it can be a little time-consuming, but it will pay for books and meal plans.

That being said, if you have an extremely difficult schedule when it comes to homework, you really shouldn't get a job, or take one at a place with flexible hours. In other words: don't work fast food or retail. I guarantee your hours won't be very flexible, and you will hardly have any time to do your homework. However, where I work, I'm allowed to take several days off (no matter if it's on staff day or whatever), because they understand that I am a student. I can even work there while I'm in college, so long as I work during breaks. So, I won't really be a full-time employee until 2020, but that's chill.

Getting a job was the right thing for me, but if you have a busy schedule, play Varsity sports, or have a difficult time managing your school work, you need to seriously think about the consequences.

Treat. Yo. Self.

Reward yourself! You got a 31 on the ACT (I didn't)? Treat yo self. You got into college? Treat yo self. You got a scholarship? Treat yo self. And what should you treat yourself to? Books (treat yo self). Massages (treat yo self). Food (treat yo self). Literally anything you want!

Don't overspend, but do a little something to give yourself a pat on the back! Believe me, you'll find yourself having fun.

You don't have to go to college.

As a little girl, I wanted to be a Master Sergeant in the Air Force. Why that specific rank? No idea. But, that is an enlist rank, meaning I could be on the track to be one even if I chose not to go to college (of course, there are many ways to become an officer aside from or in addition to college, but usually officers attend college).

Now, there are two factors keeping me out of the military: my personality type and my health. While I do not have any major health conditions, I have been diagnosed with chronic migraines, horrible vision in my left eye (something like 20/100 or something awful like that), and am at high risk for endometriosis (the only reason I have not been formally diagnosed is because the doctors do not want to intervene surgically and told me to come back if I have issues conceiving).

How do you assess if you're physically capable (before going to MEPS)? Think about it this way: you're on the battlefield, and all of a sudden a symptom of a condition you have arises. Will it interfere with your ability to do your job? Your comrades cannot stop what they're doing to take care of you.

Also, there's the personality factor. I'm an INFJ, and I know that being deployed and entering a combat zone--which is very possible with the rise of ISIS--would be emotionally scarring for me, and would probably land me in a state of depression.

That being said, the military is not for me. You need to know yourself. But if you want to enlist, and people give you crap about wasting your potential, then that's their problem. You are not wasting your potential by protecting your country; they should be thankful.

You don't have to know... anything.

I thought I had it figured out. I thought I would be a Journalism major at the University of Louisville. Then I thought I would be a Musical Theatre student at Northwestern. Now I don't know where I will go, and that's okay. I'm seventeen; I don't need to know anything, but I need to learn everything. Hence why I'm going to college in the first place: to learn. It's okay to be clueless right now. Tell that to your relatives this Christmas.

Early Action or Regular Decision?

I'm not even going to talk about Early Decision because it's a bad idea. However, I chose Early Action for my safety schools (which were Kent and Wittenberg), because I knew I had a high chance of getting in. Baldwin Wallace (rolling) has a lower acceptance rate than the aforementioned, but I still applied early on because I thought I had a good chance of getting in. Now, I have three options! It's always nice to know that no matter what happens, from here on out, I am going to college.

Plus, I actually like my safeties! I recently visited Wittenberg for a music workshop, and really enjoyed it there. So, pick your safety schools wisely; keep in mind that you very well could be there for the next four years.

I then applied regular decision to the schools that are reaches for me (I have a low ACT score). The application pool is much less competitive when you apply regular, trust me.

Keep your grades up.

People will say that this is the year that your grades matter the least, and that is partially true. However, don't let yourself get a C in physics because you had high grades in the past-- many schools will see that as slacking off, and may even remove you from the freshman class. Plus, the higher your grades, the more scholarships you can get.

Enjoy your last year.

This very well may be your last year you spend at home, or the last year your friends spend at home. Therefore, make sure to use your time on those you care about. You can save the crazy parties for when you set foot on campus.

So, take your friends out to your favorite cafe. Go shopping with your mom. See a movie with your dad. Introduce your boyfriend to your favorite show (I just finished binge-watching Death Note on Netflix, and while Light is freaking hot, Matsuda is my life goals). Not that I have a boyfriend, but you get the gist.

My point is, make the most of the time you have left, because you never know when you'll see them again.

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Absolute Favorite Foreign Songs

I almost always write about Japanese songs, but here is a list of my favorite songs from Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Germany, Iceland, and China.

"春夏秋冬" covered by Goose House

"Life is Like a Boat" by Rie Fu

"Pop Up!" by Goose House

"魔法の料理 〜君から君へ〜" covered by Goose House

"Koisuru Fortune Cookie" covered by Goose House

Get the guitar chords here!

"女の子は泣かない" by Rina Katahira featuring Kei Takebuchi

"NOW ON AIR" covered by Goose House

This song was performed on USTREAM on my sister's (and Manami's) birthday, and was later published on YouTube on my birthday.

"恋はヒラひらり" by Goose House

"今、走れ!" by Goose House

"虹" covered by Goose House

"Sing" (2014) by Goose House

"Sakura" by Ikimonogakari

"Music Hour" by Porno Graffitti & covered by Goose House

"Shanghai Honey" covered by Goose House

"Hana" by ORANGE RANGE & covered by Goose House

"我的天空" from Young Style

"Hanabi" by Ikimonogakari

This might be the song that sent me into full-blown J-pop/rock nerd mode. I even know how to play it on guitar. You can't really find the studio version of this song on YouTube, so I suggest purchasing the album.

"Life" by YUI

"My Pace" by Sunset Swish

"ร่มสีเทา/ฤดูอกหัก/ฤดูที่ฉันเหงา/ฤดูที่แตกต่าง - พาย ชา แอร์ หนวดนำเหนอ" by MusicClay2011

"Guren no Yumiya" by Linked Horizon & covered by Goose House

"Daisy" by Stereo Dive Foundation

"Scramble" by Yui Horie

"This Beautiful and Cruel World" by Hikasa Yoko

"Oto no Naru Hou e" by Goose House

"Hikaru Nara" by Goose House

My favorite part is from 3:27-the end. The bassline is what makes this better than the recorded version.

"Shiawase" by PUFFY

This is my absolute favorite PUFFY song (they are well-known in America for singing the Teen Titans theme and having their own show, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi), and should totally be covered by the girls of Goose House.

"K2G" by PUFFY

I'd add more PUFFY songs, but really you should just buy the entire NICE album, which includes "Teen Titans" as well.

"Lea Halalela" by Lebo M

"9,000 Days" by Overtone

"Um Oh Ah Yeh" by Mamamoo

"Gutes Tun" by Willemijn Verkaik

"Takes One to Know One" by Belinda

"Go Do" by Jonsi

Well, those are my favorite foreign songs. What are yours?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dear White People...

In light of recent events, my Facebook news feed has been full of statuses and links about Rachel Dolezal (thank God that woman's fifteen minutes of fame are basically over), the so-called "rebel" flag, and the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. And yeah, Kylie Jenner, too.

I've tried to remain a very neutral stance (at least, to appear to have one), but I have just about reached my breaking point with some of the things I've seen on social media about racial issues in America lately. And that is why I have put hours into writing this post (I even made an outline-- and I literally never outline anything).

Before I start my rant, I want you to know three things:

  1. I will not apologize for my opinions. For all of my life, I have always ended my arguments with "but that's just my opinion," "I don't mean to offend anyone," "but what would I know, anyway," or "I could be wrong." However, today I am going to say exactly how I feel, and I'm not sugarcoating anything simply because it might hurt someone's feelings.
  2. This is not supposed to make you feel guilty about your privilege. It is not your fault that you were born white, just as it is not my fault that I was born black. But it is everyone's responsibility to be well-informed about their community, and that is the purpose of this post. And when I say "You," I don't mean every white person; just the ones I've heard say these things.
  3. Please read this to the end. This post will not look Pinterest-worthy (you should follow me, by the way), and it probably won't be fun to read. But, taking a small amount of time out of your day to understand what it is like to live as a POC will, hopefully, be worth the time spent.
There will be a glossary at the end, so if you find yourself lost with any of the slang I use, just refer to that. Slang and pop culture words are italicized. Other than that, let's get this rant started!

Understand that racism is not dead.
I will admit that society has greatly improved, though. I mean, the African slave trade isn't exactly functioning right now, and the name Jim Crow is one I've only ever seen in history books. But, today's problem (well, one of them) is that racism is dismissed. Yes, we've come a long way, but racism is still here! You're not noticing it because it's sneakier than ever. Racism today is whitewashing. It's casting a nearly all-white cast in a movie set in Egypt (which, to the surprise of many, is in Africa). Or, remember when M. Night Shyamalan made that one movie that will not be named (as it is a disgrace to the Avatar fandom) and a certain Water Tribe girl was played by a white actress? And Sokka was white, too? Literally the only good thing that came from that movie was Seychelle Gabriel (who later went on to voice Asami Sato in The Legend of Korra).

Anyway. Sorry, talking about The Last Airbender makes me really angry. But, back to my point. In addition to whitewashing, there's colorblindness. You may have heard people say, "I don't see race" or "we're all one human race; race doesn't exist." These are some of the most insulting things to say to POC. We know your intentions are good, but you wanna know what that sounds like? It sounds like where we come from doesn't matter; like the answer to ending racism is about forgetting race altogether. However, we should all be proud of our race, because it makes us who we are. So, stop erasing race, and try erasing racism.

Last thing to say on this point: nearly every POC has experienced racism and stereotypes. If you truly believe racism is dead, ask any one of us, and I guarantee you there will be stories. There is also a thing called colorism, but I'll talk about that later. 

The point is this: the face of racism is changing. It no longer looks like cotton picking and segregation. In order to end it, you need to pay attention to it.

Don't downplay our struggles.
This is the problem I've seen on social media lately. It seems that when people (people in general, really) don't understand how someone else feels, they just write it off as not really being a big deal. 

You know, I've heard people say, "y'all need to quit bringing up slavery like it happened to you. It didn't. It was 150 years ago; get over it." Okay, I only saw one person type that, and thank goodness it wasn't one of my Facebook friends because they would have been unfriended in a heartbeat. Yes, it was a long time ago. Should we forget it or pretend it doesn't matter, though? No! Slavery is one of the most evil things humanity is capable of, so don't tell me it's not a big deal anymore when it is. Pff, it's still going on today, even in the United States, with human trafficking. So, to whoever said that: no, I'm not going to get over it. I'm never going to get over it.

And that brings me to my absolute favorite topic, the Confederate flag! I could talk about it all day-- I ain't even kidding. You wanna talk about presidential candidates? Eh, I can't vote for that until 2020 anyway (thanks to turning eighteen three weeks after election day in 2016). You wanna talk about Barack Obama? I'll pass. But the tea is scalding when it comes to the Confederate flag.

Is it so hard to understand that the flag is offensive to millions of Americans? Is it so hard to understand that it represents years of racism and division? And no, I don't care what you have to say about it representing Southern pride or the original intentions. Find another way to be proud of your heritage, because celebrating where you're from shouldn't be at the expense of others. 

No, I have not been "brainwashed" by Liberals. No, I didn't suddenly decide I didn't like the flag after the issue was brought to light a few weeks ago. I've felt this way since I first saw the Confederate flag, which was in elementary school. I have always felt uncomfortable seeing it, but I never said anything before because it wasn't the right time, and I didn't have a strong enough argument. 

Maybe it does represent some white people's heritage. You know what, though? My dad's family is from Alabama. Yup, my family has Southern roots, too. Are you getting my point? That flag does not represent the people of the Southern states. It represents the white people of the Southern states, back during the Civil War. My family isn't proud of this flag; it brought pain to them. So why are you so proud of it?

Maybe it originally was just supposed to represent whatever it was meant to represent. Do you know what a swastika means? And I mean its original intention. Nope, it was not a Nazi symbol. It means "auspiciousness." That's not hate speech. But, you know who Adolf Hitler is, you know who the Nazis are, and you know what happened during the Holocaust. So, when you see the European version of a swastika, you think of those dark years. And you know what? So does Germany. That is why they have banned the Nazi flag. Of course, Neo-Nazis exist, but it shows that the nation is ashamed of its past. 

And one more question for y'all: why do you care so much about this flag? To use your words against you: the war ended 150 years ago, sweetie. Get over it. The Confederacy lost. There is literally no reason to keep bringing the division of our nation to mind.

Now that you know how I and many others feel, you can stop making a joke out of it:

But really. Stop turning our issues into a joke. It's not funny; it's disrespectful.

I can feel this is turning into a pretty long post. I sure hope someone's still reading. 

Also, the violence against us is real. So, stop acting like we deserve it. Stop making up stories about how Michael Brown was a thug (and even if so, why are you looking for reasons an eighteen-year-old deserved to die?) or how Treyvon Martin was a delinquent. Just stop. Maybe you don't realize it, but we're not any more capable of violence than you are. Why is it that the media talks about how the kid who did the Charleston shooting was a lonely, depressed teen when countless black men who were the ones killed have been turned into the villain in many cases? I have three words for you: Aw, heck no.

Stop making it all about you.
First of all, stop changing our hashtags. It's not "All Lives Matter," it's "Black Lives Matter." It's not "All Girls Rock," it's "Black Girls Rock." And let me explain.

Do all lives matter? Of course! Do all girls rock? Yeah, that's why we have feminism. 

But tell me. As a white person, have you been followed by mall cops as you walk through Claire's with your sisters and mother, who are black as well (this happened to me)? Have you been stared at by sales clerks with wary looks on their faces because you left your hood on when you walked into Dollar General to take a call real quick while it was raining outside (this also happened to me)? Have you been double and triple checked in airplane security (this happens to my dad every time he flies, because he kinda looks Middle Eastern and in airports, looking Pakistani or wearing a turban is a sin apparently... he wasn't wearing a turban, obviously, but you get my point)? You probably haven't, unless you have tattoos, a pixie cut, or wildly colored hair.

But, as people of color in general, we have. And we experience it on both sides. To quote Childish Gambino's song, "That Power":

"...White dudes who call me white and then try to hate, when I wasn't white enough to use your pool when I was eight. Stone Mountain, you raised me well, I'm stared at by Confederates but... hated on by both sides... every black, 'you're not black enough,' is a white, 'you're all the same.'"

I think that explains my point quite well. No matter how educated we are, or not educated at all; no matter how dark or light-skinned we are, no matter who we are-- someone has something to say about us. Or worse. Hence, the KKK... Charleston shooting... need I go on?

So, think about that next time you say #whitegirlsdoitbetter or #alllivesmatter. Because white lives have always been treated like they matter; black lives haven't.

And, last on this point: Literally no one hates you. We don't think we're better than you. You know how feminists want to be seen as equal, but they're accused of being man-haters? That's how it is for us, too. Why is it that when someone fights for justice, they're seen as hating the other side? Like, dude, chill. Stop making it about you.

Know when to stop.
Rule of thumb: If you're not black, DO NOT SAY THE 'N' WORD. If it were up to me, black people wouldn't say it, either. I hate it when fellow black people use that word, but more importantly, if ou're not black, DO NOT LET THAT WORD SLIP OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. You will be knocked out, and no one's going to catch you. I mean, you really got it coming to you and high key deserve it.

And don't even think about defending your racist comments with having black friends, because they probably don't approveof what you're saying, either. So, that goes for people who know me in the real life: please don't use me as your golden ticket black friend you mention when you say something out of line. Just apologize, sheesh.

Also, don't tell us what our name is. If someone says they're black, don't correct it to "African-American." Why? Because not all black people are from Africa. I, personally, am (I'm most likely Senegalese, but thanks to the slave trade I can only make educated guesses), but not all of us are. Blacks come from all over-- Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas-- heck, there's even black Mexicans and Indians. So, unless someone calls themself African-American, don't call them that.

And please don't remind us of how it's harder for us to find a man/woman by saying we're not your type. Black men are becoming pretty high in demand (the reasons why are not appropriate for a 12+ blog), but black women aren't. Men like our booties and our boobies, but as for finding someone who really loves us, it's harder. And we know that. We know that finding a husband is less likely for us (although it is definitely possible-- my parents have been married for 30 years!), so don't discourage us even more.

Last, don't even think that cultural appropriation is okay. Yes, Kylie Jenner is a WOC, I believe (I think she's half Armenian), but she is appropriating black culture with the lip injections, all the weaves and cornrows, like she can be like a black girl just by dressing like us or enlarging her lips to look like ours. And by the way, they don't. I'm full black and my lips aren't that big.

Don't downplay our achievements.
You wanna know who benefits the most from affirmative action? White women. Yes, affirmative actions does help minorities as well, but don't tell us that it's easier for us to get into college because standards are lower for us. No.

If I get into Northwestern, it will be because I worked hard. It will be because of my high GPA, numerous extracurriculars, leadership positions, and running my own business. Do you know how heartbreaking it would be if I got in and was told, "well, the standards are lower for you, anyway"? I don't think I need to explain that. We have to be twice as good to receive half the recognition a white person does.

Stay woke.
You made it through my post without getting too bored/offended! Thank you for caring enough to read this thing. So, what's next?

Keep educating yourself. You can never learn too much. Maybe that's the Ravenclaw in me saying that, but seriously. Research is your friend. 

Educate others. You can even share this post if you want. You probably don't want to, but you can. Help others understand that the struggle for equality is not over.

Your privilege is a gift and a tool. Like I said at the beginning: I don't want you to feel guilty about who you are or what you were born into. Use your privilege to your advantage and speak out.

Be that person. Be the person who calls people out when they say ignorant things. Be the person who refuses to stay silent.

Don't stay sleeping. Stay woke.

  • POC: Person of color, people of color
  • Whitewashing: Typically done in the media; imagine a movie about Lupita Nyong'o, only she's portrayed by someone significantly lighter skinned-- even me playing her would be whitewashing
  • Avatar fandom: The fan following of Nickelodeon's animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra
  • Water Tribe: An ethnic group in Avatar; similar to Native Americans or Eskimos
  • Sokka: A main character in A:TLA; he is from the Water Tribe and dark-skinned
  • The Legend of Korra: The sequel series to A:TLA; the protagonist is from the Water Tribe
  • The Last Airbender: God-forsaken film by M. Night Shyamalan; even Prince Zuko's voice actor in the original animated series never watched it because the show's creators thought it was trash
  • Colorblindness: Thinking that ignoring race altogether is the answer to racism
  • Colorism: I never got around to talking about it; it is racism within an ethnic group-- look up the brown paper bag thing that happened at Howard University
  • Tea: Something people mention during rants, especially on Tumblr (i.e. "The tea is hot," "Tea, anyone?", "Sips on tea")
  • Cultural appropriation: Buying a Buddha statue when one isn't Buddhist, wearing a hijab because it's fashionable, wearing a sari when you really have no reason to, etc.
  • WOC: Woman of color, women of color
  • Stay woke: What is sounds like, pretty much; stay awake, be aware

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

So, How Does the Supreme Court Ruling Affect Me?

Being raised in a Christian home, I was taught from the time I even knew what homosexuality was that it was wrong, because the Bible clearly says so. I was also taught that same-sex marriage should not be legal, as homosexuality is sin. I spent a great deal of my life believing this, but now that I am older (a senior in high school!), I have been forced to form my own beliefs on this topic.

Yes, homosexuality is a sin, written in the Bible. And yes, many Christians are grieving the same-sex marriage is now legal everywhere in the United States, including both of my home states (Ohio is pretty 50/50 with liberal/conservatism, so I bet you can guess what my Facebook news feed looks like. And yeah, it's even legal in uber-Mormon Utah). But I'm not grieving. And let me tell you why.

Homosexuality exists, and always has.
You can even find homosexuality in the Bible. Once again, I'm not going to say "love is love" or anything like that, but here's a truth for you: it exists. It has always existed. And let's be real-- same-sex marriage being legal isn't going to make new LGBT people pop up like daisies (like my Mulan reference?). Who was homosexual before is still homosexual now; who was heterosexual before is still heterosexual now. So, these people had already figured out their sexuality before the Supreme Court ruling, which means that whether they're married or not, they're still doing the thing. They're still attracted to the same sex, or doing the do with the same sex. So, them being married isn't a sin in itself-- they were already involved in homosexuality.

I'm not gay.
I don't know if there will be LGBT+ people in heaven or not, but that's not my business. I don't live the homosexual lifestyle, or really any kind of sexual lifestyle (almost seventeen and still single). And so, this ruling does not affect me. It really doesn't. I was able to get married before, and like I stated above-- homosexual couples existed before, but this isn't going to make more of them pop up suddenly. So yeah. But you know. Point is, I'm not gay, so this isn't my problem.

The sanctity of marriage has been in jeopardy for a very long time.
I have to say, the LGBT+ community getting married isn't the problem (or at least, not the only problem) when it comes to the sanctity of marriage. Think about how many people are on their third and fourth marriages (and not because of their spouse's death). Think about how many people drunkenly elope in Las Vegas. Think about how many people have been involved in "one night stands" because they don't want any of what comes with being in a relationship except for the sex. Think about how many people cheat on their spouses. Think about how many people are divorced. Think about how many children grow up without knowing one or both of their parents. Think about that and then tell me that you don't see anything else that we should worry about. Even traditional marriage isn't exactly 100% traditional for a lot of people.

The Supreme Court is not the final judge.
Who cares about what other men (and women, but you get my point) think? Technically, in the long run, my opinion really doesn't matter, either. The only opinion that matters is God's. I'm just gonna quote my girl Miley Cyrus here: "Only God can judge ya, forget the haters, 'cause somebody loves ya." What you think about this topic--let me be honest here--doesn't matter. What I think about this topic doesn't matter. Because the One with the real power has the final say on this matter. So, why grieve about such an earthly matter as what is allowed here? Because it doesn't change Christianity at all.

The church's stance will not, and should not, be moved.
Fellow Christians, no matter what, don't change your view on homosexuality. I personally still believe it's a sin, and if you think so, then alright. What the Supreme Court has to say about it has nothing to do with you. If you believe it's a sin, don't make society pressure you to believe otherwise just because it's changing. Your view does not have to change if you don't want it to.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Thank God it's Friday

I will make this short and sweet:

Happy Easter.

Being a Christian, I have always considered Easter to be better than Christmas. Not gonna lie, Christmas gifts are the bomb, but I think we all know the main points of both holidays. And while Christmas is equally important on all levels, today is where it all comes down to it.

Today is Good Friday, the day Jesus is said to have died on the cross. I think back on my life (a short one to look back on, but nevertheless, you get the point) and think of what His death means for me. Without the crucifixion, think of all the animal sacrifices we would still have to do. And think about the even higher possibility of ending up in Hell.

So, I say "Thank God it's Friday" not because I'm craving T.G.I. Friday's right now (I'm actually craving Chipotle), but because without this day in history, who knows where we'd be?

And that's why I am thankful for this day.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Stuck in Second Gear: When the Big Break Just Isn't Happening

Three months ago, something that was supposed to be life-changing happened. December 9th was a day I had marked on my calendar since June last year, and I was so ecstatic when it finally arrived. I purchased a new dress, straightened my hair, and even dreamed about this day.

Why? Because it was the day of my Next to Normal audition. I was auditioning for the role of the teenage daughter, Natalie; it was a role I have dreamed of since I started performing, and now it was my chance to finally play her, a girl whom I can relate to better than most of the girls who auditioned.

By reading the title, I know that it's pretty clear to you that I didn't get in to the show. In fact, I never even got a callback. I felt several emotions at first-- surprise, confusion, sadness, anger, and disappointment. I was surprised that I didn't get in; I nailed my audition piece, received lots of applause, and 'good jobs' from other performers. I got to hear the other performers, and while many were very good, some weren't that amazing, and many performers didn't even follow directions (who doesn't bring sheet music to a musical audition, really?). So why did I not get the callback? It seemed clear at the time that I would, but I didn't.

Then, I felt confusion. What did I do wrong? Did they hear my mistakes? Do I not have enough shows on my resume? Did they not like my song choice? Did I just not look the part?

This led to sadness. I worked for six months to get a role that they cut me off from on the very first day. I wrote character studies to ensure I understood the character. I took vocal lessons. I listened to the entire cast recording (which wasn't very hard, but...). I went through all of this crap just to be noticed, and they had already decided they didn't want me in the production after one minute.

The strongest feeling was anger, especially because I felt (and still feel) that the auditions were not taken seriously nor fairly. If you forget to bring sheet music to an audition, that's your fault. There is no excuse to not bring music of some sort with you-- it is common sense among any performer. So, how come a girl who didn't come prepared at all received a callback, but someone who rehearsed for six months wasn't given the time of day? How come a woman who exceeded her time limit got a callback, but a girl who followed every direction was overlooked? How come every girl who was called back was a short white girl? It didn't seem fair. It seemed like any and every thing that could have gone against me, well, did.

Lastly, I was disappointed. I worked so hard, and now it's over. It's very discouraging knowing that the producers have their minds made up whether they want you or not sometimes before you sing the first note. And I had to accept that I tried my hardest, and it just wasn't good enough.

I am not the only person who has felt this way. Almost anyone can relate to a time they felt cheated out of something they wanted, or they just couldn't bring their A game to the table. Maybe you're a journalist whose story is never published. Maybe you're the singer stuck in the chorus. The secretary who wants to be the boss. The athlete who is always in second place. Well, I've been in similar situations, and I understand how it feels. Everyone else is moving up in this world; when will my big break come?

Out of the depression and bitterness that comes with being the little guy, I have found some joy, and I know you can, too.

When I was a sophomore in high school last year, I had a clear plan: become the class representative for Student Government, and the next year, become the secretary. There was no reason (in my opinion at the time) that I shouldn't have been chosen-- my 3rd quarter transcript showcased a perfect GPA, I wrote a decent essay about why I should be chosen, I was on good terms with most (and I must emphasize the word "most"... there was a group of kids who laughed at me when I was campaigning... whatever, none of them have put much effort into their post-HS careers. Besides, this is the same group that laughed when I ran for homecoming court, and I won that) of my classmates, and I even gave them candy. I even made the mistake of assuming I was the leading candidate.

But, in the end, popularity is what won the election, and I am definitely not the most popular person in the grade. I totally skipped over the sadness stage; I was just mad. Like, who was voting for this? What were they thinking? I had more impressive credentials than many of the candidates, so what happened?

Now, I can think about it with a much clearer mindset. While I still think I would have been a good pick for the position, those elected have done pretty well so far. If it wasn't me, I'm glad it was them. And, things started to work out for me, too.

Early this year I joined my school's chapter of the Key Club and helped organize a few events to raise money for charity (our last fundraiser will allow us to donate blankets to a crisis maternity center). Then, in December I was inducted into the National Honor Society. Now that we're nearing the end of the school year (can you believe it?), elections have come around. So, I gave it another shot... twice.

For Key Club, I won because I had no opposition. For NHS, I beat out my opponent. This means that not only am I an officer in one club, but I am the secretary for two different clubs. And I feel truly blessed.

Around this time last year, I was upset because no one took me seriously. And now, I have more than I could have possibly ever wanted! I'm still waiting for the day my performance career takes off, but I'm well on my way with journalism. So, my advice?

Stay tuned. The best has yet to come.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Big Hero 6: My Review

If you're anyone who's not living under a rock, you've probably heard of the latest Disney classic, Big Hero 6. It came out in theaters in November at the end of 2014, and has finally been released on DVD and Blu-Ray as of February 24. I was one of the many who went out and rented (and the next day, purchased) it, and let me tell you that I was not disappointed.

There was so much I liked about this movie, so I don't even know where to begin. I guess I can start with what my thoughts were while I watched. The following texts are posts from when I live blogged on my Tumblr.

"After a week of searching for the DVD, I am finally about to watch Big Hero 6 for the first time. Should I prepare a box of tissues?" (Note: I should have, but no one warned me)


"I imagined Tadashi’s voice to be higher-pitched, but he’s still friggin’ hot…"

"Hiro’s demonstration was so cool, I almost like physics or chemistry or whatever it is…"


"Baymax is so cute I could just squeeze all the air out of him so much he’d spend ten minute tryna re-inflate"

"Hairy baaaaabbbbyyyyy"

"Can GoGo have her own TV show where she just drives cars and rides bikes around the city and runs people over and stuff?"

"I wish Honey Lemon and Fred could be my best friends."

"Well dang"

"Did they have to show those Tadashi videos tho" (This is when those tissues would have come in handy...)

"Honey Lemon reminds me of Rapunzel or Starfire or I dunno but I still wish she could be real"

"Well dang this is emotional and all but HURRY UP HIRO"

"Well, that was a cute movie. And the Fall Out Boy end credits ain’t too shabby, either."

And about those Fall Out Boy end credits...

Yeah. I did have some complaints, but I was able to skate over them, because the movie was just plain awesome.

So, where should I begin?

Let's begin with the animation. The very first scenes are a view of the fictional (but should totally be real) city of San Fransokyo at night, and man, is it beautiful. The bot fights looked pretty sick, too (don't worry, it's just an expression). And this is all before the beautiful Tadashi Hamada graces us with his presence. 

The voice acting makes it even better. Tadashi's voice is heavenly, Hiro's voice is heavenly, and Maya-freaking-Rudolph is the voice of Aunt Cass. The rest of the cast, including Jamie Chung and Genesis Rodriguez, is amazing as well, and all of their voices fit their characters very well. I love how it wasn't a celebrity-led cast-- yeah, Maya Rudolph is pretty famous, but I liked hearing some underrated talents.

The characters were so diverse. On the main team, there is an Asian, a biracial Asian/white character, a black guy, and two white people. I was impressed because not only is this one of the few times Disney has had an Asian protagonist, but that protagonist is mixed! Biracials are highly misrepresented in media, so I'm glad Hiro and Tadashi are biracial.

Not only are the characters diverse in design, but they are also diverse in personality. Wasabi's the neat freak, GoGo is not one for small talk, Hiro is the prodigy, Honey Lemon is a total girly girl, and Fred provides the comic relief (and occasionally says something smart). And of course, Baymax is the huggable one. This made the crew very well-rounded and entertaining the whole way through.

Science can be so cool! I don't really like math or science, but I really enjoyed what I saw in this movie. I really hope that a little kid watches it and thinks, "wow. That's what I want to do someday. I want to go to college. I want to be an engineer. I want to change the world somehow."

F-E-M-I-N-I-S-M. I absolutely adore Honey Lemon. All of the characters are ones I'd befriend in a heartbeat, but if I had to pick a homegirl, it'd be Honey Lemon. Not necessarily because I have a low B in Chemistry right now and really need a tutor, but because she's so friendly and sweet. I especially love that she's super feminine (and even GoGo, while a "tough girl," is fairly feminine) and loves to wear makeup, high heels, cute clothes, put her hair up in cute buns, and wear cute gadgets (with at least something pink in it). It's even lightly (just lightly) implied that she could have had at least a slight crush on Tadashi, in my opinion. Their only exchanges were "TADASHI!" and him commenting on her experiment, but I still ship it. Point is, yeah she's stereotypically feminine, but don't mistake that for weakness! Women, even if they aren't like GoGo, can still kick some major booty. And she and GoGo are women in STEM-- a huge minority.

Also, I gotta give GoGo's "woman up" quote some credit. Just because.

The comedy was actually... funny. I hate to hate on Frozen, but I'mma have to. Unpopular opinion here: I can't stand Olaf. He annoys the living crap out of me. Everything about his character seemed so forced, and I didn't find him funny at all. I literally cringed every time he spoke. Not because of his voice actor, but because the writing for his character just wasn't funny to me. But, the comedy in Big Hero 6 was golden! I didn't think I was going to like this movie when I saw the preview at Maleficent, partially because I thought Baymax was going to be treated like Olaf-- dry comic relief with one or two touching moments every now and then. But it was the complete opposite-- Baymax was a touching character, with some giggles every now and then. 

The comic relief that did it for me was Fred. He kinda seemed like a stoner to me... or just someone really dumb with bad hygiene ("one pair of underwear will last me four days. I go front, I go back, I go inside out, then front and back"). But, everything about him screams "crazy college kid who needs to be accompanied by his parents," even if he isn't really a student at SFIT. Just... the things he says are totally hilarious, because they're things any 20-something guy would say! The way he interacts with the team members is hilarious, too-- the way he gets on Gogo's nerves, how he annoys Wasabi when he makes his own theme music, his and Honey Lemon's commentary during the car chase-- it was just brilliant and utterly entertaining. And, obviously Baymax brings comic relief to the table as well, but he's more huggable than anything. 

The villain had a good motive. I'll leave room for you to find out who he or she is on your own, but I'll have you know that they had an interesting motive. And, even after that, he/she refuses to take responsibility for a certain character's death, saying it wasn't their fault. I think that is their way of defending their self against their emotions, because they know they are responsible and they could never live with accepting that, so they just don't. All I promise is that when you find out why the villain is being the villain, you won't completely hate them.

Three words for you: Fall. Out. Boy. I really like Fall Out Boy, and "Immortals" is kind of my favorite song at the moment, so I think it was a good pick for the movie.

Three more words: Buy. This. Movie. Believe me, you won't regret it. Just go and buy it. And then you can watch it over... and over... and over again. For best results, watch with a pizza, some garlic butter, and a box of tissues. Because you WILL cry... but you'll enjoy it.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

After All These Years

I'm six years old today! Well, kind of.

On February 24, 2009, a legend was born. And you know, like they say, "some legends are told, some turn to dust or to gold." I'd say this one turned to dust... no one really reads this blog anymore... but I'm still here!

But yeah! Can you believe it? I've been blogging on here for six years! Every once in awhile I reflect on who I am and what has happened since then. I mean, it's crazy, right? I'm sixteen now, and I've had this blog since I was ten years old. I'm in eleventh grade now, and I was in fifth grade when I started. I'm more than double that now.

So, what should I do with this post? I mean, no one's reading it anyway, so I might as well have fun with it.

So, first, I'm going to update y'all on what my NEW favorites are.

Fave band
1. Goose House (2012 answer: Deas Vail)
2. The Fray (2012 answer: Coldplay)
3. Local Natives (2012 answer: Local Natives)
4. Deas Vail
5. Measure
6. Paramore

Fave solo artist
1. Melanie Martinez (2012 answer: Taylor Swift)
2. Jeremy Zuckerman (2012 answer: Katie Costello)
3. Childish Gambino (2012 answer: Yael Naim)
4. Jhene Aiko
5. Sarah McLachlan
6. Heather Headley

Fave cover artist
1. Goose House (2012 answer: Megan & Liz)
2. Boyce Avenue (2012 answer: Boyce Avenue)
3. Fifth Harmony (2012 answer: Cimorelli)
Honestly, I'm not that into music covers anymore, so that's all I can think of...

Fave music genre
1. Broadway/show tunes/Disney
2. Rap/R&B
3. Score
4. Rock
5. Easy listening
6. Pop

Fave indie rock song
1. "Worth It" by Halocene (2012 answer: "Monday" by The Sea and Cake)
2. "Hurricane" by Athlete (2012 answer: "Wide Eyes" by the Local Natives)
3. "Wires" by Athlete (2012 answer: "Life in These Little Boats" by Deas Vail)
4. "It's About Time" by Barcelona
5. "Ride" by Cary Brothers
6. "Anything You Say" by Deas Vail

Fave indie folk song
1. "Stepping Stone" by The Good Mad (2012 answer: "Airplanes" by the Local Natives)
2. "Let it Curl" by Rie Fu (2012 answer: "Go to the River" by Yael Naim)
3. "Go to the River" by Yael Naim (2012 answer: "Come Home" by Yael Naim)
4. "Come Home" by Yael Naim
5. "World News" by the Local Natives
6. "Airplanes" by the Local Natives

Fave indie pop song
1. "Alchemy" by Kyler England (2012 answer: "Anywhere Place" by Katie Costello)
2. "The End of Everything" by Measure (2012 answer: "Oh, Imagine That" by Max & Simon)
3. "Begin Again" by Measure (2012 answer: "Ships in the Night" by Mat Kearney)
4. "I Want to Know You" by Measure
5. "Starbucks Smile" by Maria K.
6. "Sing" by Goose House

Fave alternative song
1. "Centuries" by Fall Out Boy (2012 answer: "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World)
2. "Miss Missing You" by Fall Out Boy (2012 answer: "Over My Head" by The Fray)
3. "We Are Broken" by Paramore (2012 answer: "Dare to Believe" by Boyce Avenue)
4. "Emergency" by Paramore
5. "Munich" by The Fray
6. "Absolute" by The Fray

Fave mainstream pop song
1. "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack (2012 answer: "Liar Liar" by Christina Grimmie)
2. "3005" by Childish Gambino (2012 answer: "Far Away" by Tyga)
3. "Dollhouse" by Melanie Martinez (2012 answer: "Old School Love" by Megan & Liz)
4. "Bittersweet Tragedy" by Melanie Martinez
5. "Bang Bang" by Jessie J
6. "Say" by John Mayer

Fave orchestra song
1. "In a Box" by Jeremy Zuckerman (2012 answer: "Mombasa" by Hans Zimmer)
2. "Chi Blockers" by Jeremy Zuckerman (2012 answer: "Time" by Hans Zimmer)
3. "This Land" by Hans Zimmer (2012 answer: "Doctor Who Opening Credits")
4. "Mombasa" by Hans Zimmer
5. "One Family" by Mark Mancina
6. "Red Lotus Theme" by Jeremy Zuckerman

Role model
1. Janet Varney
2. Heather Headley
3. Seychelle Gabriel
4. Kei Takebuchi
5. Kristen Bell
6. Zelda Williams

Fave television/web series
1. The Legend of Korra (2012 answer: Doctor Who)
2. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2012 answer: Switched at Birth)
3. Pretty Little Liars (2012 answer: The Lying Game)
4. Burning Love
5. Parks and Recreation
6. Young Justice

And yeah. Well, happy birthday, That Animated Otaku, and good day, everyone!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Top 15 Songs for Spring

I know it isn't spring yet, but to be honest, this post has been in my "Drafts" for a really long time, and I wanted to publish it.
  1. "Ain't That Peculiar" by Marvin Gaye. Spring is the season for playing guitar on the front lawn again, and this song is definitely close to the top of my "Must Learn" list. "I know flowers grow from rain, but how can love last through pain?"
  2. "Alchemy (Acoustic String Mix)" by Kyler England. This song is also at the top of my "Must Learn" list, though it seems like something I'd also listen to in autumn. "October turned the leaves to copper and gold. Set my world on fire, left me in the cold. If I were a master of alchemy, I'd change everything, I'd make all the broken things beautiful."
  3. "Go the Distance" from Hercules. This song is kind of perfect, and is pretty motivating. After all, final grades are out in two months! "I know every mile will be worth my while."
  4. "I Want to Know You" by Measure. I have a post that's almost done that will go more in depth about this song, but... this is one of those songs that just automatically changes your mood.
  5. "Shiawase (Happiness)" by Puffy Amiyumi. Yes, this is on my list of songs to learn, too. For some reason, I imagine cherry blossoms. Maybe because "shiawase" means "happiness," I want to attend Northwestern University, and they have a lot of cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms = accomplished dream. Or I could be over analyzing.
  6. "Young Friend" by Brooke Waggoner. This is the kind of song that I could just listen to on repeat all day and never get sick of it. It's one of those songs that makes you wanna roll down all the windows and drive with no clear destination.
  7. "Hold On, We're Going Home" by Drake. I kinda want Drake to be my husband. I have no idea what this song has to do with going home, but... it's Drake.
  8. "We Are One" by Angelique Kidjo. Yeah, this song is from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. But I still love it. I love how Angelique incorporates Zulu into the song at some parts. 
  9. "Daisy" by Stereo Dive Foundation. This song... oh my. Every person on the planet needs to hear it, even if they can't understand/speak Japanese. After all, there's enough English in it to get it. "I've never said goodbye, and I never will."
  10. "Wonderwall" by Oasis. One word: Legendary.
  11. "Happily Ever After" by He Is We. For some reason, this song just seems like a spring/summer song. "Author of the moment, can you tell me... do I end up happy?"
  12. "Femmes" by Brooke Waggoner. I'd be lying if I said I didn't try to learn this on violin. I'd also be lying if I said I succeeded. 
  13. "Dance in Perfect Time" by Deas Vail. Deas Vail may no longer be my perfect band, but this is still a pretty perfect song.
  14. "Colorblind" by Overtone. If you've never seen the movie about Nelson Mandela and the Springboks, Invictus, then let. me. tell. you. You HAVE to see it. I was forced to watch it in my World History class, and that teacher became my favorite because of it. Not only did Morgan Freeman portray Mandela, and the story was just so moving, but the music was the foundation of the film. Overtone and Yollandi Nortjie did a marvelous job on this soundtrack. While my favorite might be "9,000 Days" (which I played when I first heard the news of Mandela's death) or "Osiyeza," this one is definitely moving. The soundtrack really fueled this movie-- whenever a super emotional part occurred, there was Overtone's vocals, messing with my feels. And in the ending credits, after all these feels, came "9,000 Days." Needless to say, I cried. Well, I didn't cry. But if I had normal tear ducts, I would have.
  15. "Endless Night" from The Lion King. This song, because of the actor who originally sang it (Jason Raize, who committed suicide in 2004), makes me think of depression. However, you could also think of it like a long winter finally beginning to end, and knowing that better times are coming.
"I know that the night must end, and that the sun will rise!"
-Simba, The Lion King (on Broadway) 

The Air Inside Our Lungs

Ever since eighth grade, I have been obsessing over the electronic pop group, Measure. They are a beat-driven band based in Brooklyn, NY. You may know their song, "Begin Again," which can be heard on Pretty Little Liars. Otherwise, though, without the help of television, they remain in the dark.

Their first full-length album, The Air Inside Our Lungs, came out nearly three years ago, yet I feel like I haven't properly fangirled about it yet. I was able to purchase the album via Bandcamp, along with a grey shirt that I wear every once in a while. Yeah, it was a pretty darn good deal, and you'll want to buy all of the merchandise, too, once you hear some of the songs.

I was going to make this post about the whole album, but I think I'll just write about the songs that have (this seems like something I'd say during a book discussion) impacted my views on life, or made me think deeply. I mean, all of Measure's music is pretty deep (let's be honest, y'all), but these are the ones that take the cake. And it takes a lot to take the cake. I like cake, after all. And that had nothing to do with anything.

Track 2. "Point of You"

Pull us apart
What are you made of now?
So what is your point of view?
What is the point of you?
What is your point of view?
What is your point?

I can't get over Laura DiStasi's keys on the chorus of the song. I'd use specific numbers, but that'd require actually watching the video, and my sister may or may not be watching American Horror Story right across the room from me. The point is, it just sounds really beautiful, along with the what-sounds-like-a tambourine that comes in right after the first "point of view."

This song has always provoked thought for me since I first heard it when I was thirteen (whoa... I can actually watch PG-13 movies without being a rebel...), especially that line: "Pull us apart. What are you made of now?" I feel like the whole point of this song (no pun intended) is, what is your purpose? What makes you who you are? What do you stand for? What is your point?

Track 4. "Other Plans"

I couldn't find a video for this, so I'll just go on and skip to writing the key lyrics (all the more reason to buy the album).

I found out,
But not from you.
I found out,
And so it's true.
But you play it so cool,
She's just someone you met,
Well, go on pal, put it out there
You know I'm just someone you'll learn to forget.
And love turns into friends
Who always make other plans
And leave me by myself
While you hang out with someone else.
So where are all my friends?
And when were they all making plans
To leave me by myself 
While everyone's with someone else?
So, how'd it come to this?
Disposing of the evidence
And sitting by myself
You gave your heart to someone else.

This song is the perfect example of being lonely. It's kind of like Facebook, when you see everyone's doing something with someone else, and you're just like, "Oh. Well. Was everyone in on some kind of joke to leave me by myself while they're all having a good time? When were they planning this?" It also brings in romantic love, with the line, "Disposing of the evidence." I think of it as her trying to get rid of the love she felt for whoever this is written about, while he gave his heart to someone else.

 I love how this song is just utterly confusing. The song not only focuses on Laura feeling left out because everyone has someone, but it's about being in love with someone who didn't care much at all. She sounds angry, apathetic, and sad all at the same time. Like, goodness, Laura. Goodness.

Track 5. "I Want to Know You"

How 'bout roll down both of the windows,
So I can see you
While you sing at the top of your lungs,
Thinking no one
Can hear nothing at all
Uh-oh, I want to know you
Always come and go, uh-oh
And I just see you
That when you go
Uh-uh-oh, I wanna know
Uh-uh-oh, Where you go
Uh-uh-oh, oh, oh
Yeah, you gotta know, uh-oh
And I'm gonna tell you
That when you go
Uh-uh-oh, I wanna know
Uh-uh-oh, where you go
Uh-uh-oh, yeah come on, come on, you know
And there you go, uh-uh-oh, oh, oh.

Is this not the happiest song Measure has released? If "Begin Again" and "The End of Everything" didn't reach so deep down into my soul (with lyrics like, "You're no calendar, you're no concrete plan" and "The world keeps turning at the end of everything," it's hard to not be moved), this one might, MIGHT, be my favorite.

I can't even tack a meaning onto this one, because it can be taken in so many ways. But first, can we talk about the music?

Just so you know, this song is best experienced with sound-cancelling headphones.

1:42 is the part I wait for every time the song comes on on my iPod. Even if I'm not in the mood for it, I always tell myself to hold on until then, because I know it will lift my spirits every time. The entire song up to this point is just one long build-up until finally, exploding at this point. But is it my favorite part? I wish I could say that. And it's not that there are any flaws, it's just... well, it gets better.

1:59. That guitar. THAT guitar. Man. It goes perfectly with Laura's vocals. I wish I could say that's the best part, but once again, it's not. Surprisingly, it STILL gets better.

And then at 2:33-2:50, Woody Quinn just TURNS UP on that guitar again. Like many before me have said, usually, he and Tommy Harron (bass) fill out the sound, and for most of the song they're in the background, with few yet memorable moments (like the famous guitar in the final chorus of "Begin Again"). However, this is that beautiful place where all of the instruments can be heard. Especially the guitar. I can't really tell you why I like it; it's like trying to describe a color you've never seen.

Now. The lyrics. The amount of fangirl is strong with this one. I just really love how it sounds like being in love. What doe being in love sound like? I don't know, never have been. But, unless I'm wrong, this just sounds like being in love. It has the sound. Like, I just want to meet my soul mate one day, and then this song will play as I am completely smitten, just dreaming of seeing him again. Oh, wait. Now I know why I got Aurora as my result for which Disney princess I am.

Now, a fellow Measure fan reviewed this same album here, saying that the lyrics are "gasp, happy. Ish. And vaguely stalkerish." Yeah. It might sound a little stalker-like, but I really like it. I just think of it as being so in love with someone and you just want to be around them even when they're doing little things ("While you sing at the top of your lungs..."), and you just want to... know them. You don't want to do much, you just want to know everything about them, and you want to tell them. Now, I am that one creepy friend in my group, so maybe my interpretation is kind of stalker-ish, but I don't care.

Track 7. "Make You Love Me" cover

When I've used up the best you
And I'm breaking myself against the next you
I will think of
Your sweet and true love.
Just another inner monologue I've gotta ignore
Still a little too easy, too insecure, but
All I wanna do is make you love me.

This song, though a cover, is brilliant. What I love about Measure is that it doesn't matter whether they wrote it or not (although, I'm pretty sure this is the only song published that they didn't write). It doesn't matter who the lead singer is. Everyone has a large role in making me love their music. They've succeeded in... (*winks*) making me love them.

Can we talk about the percussion? It's perfect throughout the whole song, thanks to Casey Tuck. And that combined with the guitar... mmmmmmm.

But. 2:05. I don't know what instrument that is (I want to say it's a guitar but I don't think so), but... man. That lead.

I also wanted to embed "Fireworks 2.0," but it wasn't uploaded to YouTube or something.

Nevertheless, if you want to discover an indie band this year, Measure is the band to look for.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hope's Journey Growing Out Pixie: The Planning Stage

So, I have a pixie cut. I have had one since February this past year, and have been dreaming of growing it back out into a bob ever since. Now, I never actually wanted a pixie cut; my hairstylist decided to give me one even after I specifically said "DO NOT CUT MY HAIR INTO A PIXIE." And she did it anyway. Yeah. I didn't really want anything super long, just for it to grow back to the length it was before.

However, almost a year later, my hair is the exact same length. The longest hairs are just barely past my ears, which I am a little thankful for. When I got my first pixie cut a few years back (which is why I really didn't want to get this one), it was cut boy short, and my ears were exposed. Like, excuse you, how am I supposed to make it through the winter? It took me less than a year for my hair to grow back, and then a year after that, my hair could touch the top of my shoulders and even touch my back in the shower. And then hairs started falling out like rain whenever I would wash it, and it just felt disgusting. So then my mom made me cut it again, into a shorter bob. A few months later she complained that my hair was too damaged (it didn't really look that bad, and I explained to her that having a pixie cut really drained my confidence when I was in middle school) and took me to get it "trimmed." My mother respected my wishes of not getting a pixie cut, but my hair stylist didn't really seem to know what a pixie cut was, because even when I said I didn't want one, she cut it into one. My mother told her about my complaints, and she said that I showed her the picture and said, "cut my hair like this, or whatever." Apparently saying 'or whatever' means 'forget that I just said I don't want a pixie cut,' but it doesn't matter because I never even said 'or whatever' the little liar. And so now I am stuck with my second pixie cut.

My hair grows about one inch per month, although it appears to be a half-inch because my roots are curly (I have relaxed hair). But no matter how long it grows in between relaxers, my stylist still cuts my hair to the length it was previously, even when it isn't damaged. I can recall one time when my hair was relaxed and she didn't cut anything off, but that was a very long time ago. So, I have decided two things: 1) I'm growing my hair out on my own. 2) I'm going natural.

So, how am I going to grow out my hair? By first getting to know my hair.

A little bit about my hair

I don't know what the technical term for my hair type is, but it is fairly coarse, very thick, and has curls so tight they could fit through a needle, probably. My hair is currently relaxed, and has been getting relaxed since I was about eight years old. When I was in ninth grade, I had about a six-month stretch between relaxers (I tried using home relaxers during this time, but none of them worked) and noticed that this was when my hair grew the longest. Well, the longest since I started relaxing. Right now, I am getting it relaxed every 6-8 weeks, and it grows about an inch in between. While my roots are very thick, my ends always end up thinning out, especially on my left side (which I sleep on). My goal is to try going 10 weeks between relaxers in the spring/summer time. I also use olive oil products at least twice a week. In the past, Proclaim! olive oil products has made my hair speed up its growth process.

My current length

My hair is a little over eight inches long on the right side, reaches the nape of my neck in the back, and two inches on the far left (when I don't comb over).

How often I touch up

I get touch-ups about every 6-8 weeks, and my hair gets trimmed almost every time.

My regimen

Night regimen: I try to wrap my hair in a silk headscarf every night and spray olive oil hairspray on it shortly beforehand.

Morning regimen: I remove the scarf and turn on my straightener. Then, I use a wide-toothed comb, a slightly thinner-toothed comb, a thinner one after that, and then a thin-tooth comb. I then straighten my hair and brush the back with a horsehair brush, or I comb through with a thin-tooth comb.

Weekly regimen: I wash my hair on the weekends, and I try to make sure the shower water isn't too hot. I skip shampooing altogether, because I lose less hair when I forfeit shampooing. Then, I leave in the olive oil conditioner for at least thirty minutes (while the room is still steamy), reading a chapter of a book or so before hopping back in the shower. Afterwards, I rub olive oil all over my scalp and through to the ends. I then rub a special type of oil at the roots where I part my hair, to promote soft roots (and it makes them smell good). I try to avoid heat styling for a few days to keep my ends from splitting, and I spray olive oil hairspray the next day.

More about my weekly wash routine

I use Proclaim! olive oil conditioner. When I shampoo, which I do once a month, I use Proclaim! olive oil shampoo. My hair probably smells like olives. I will also start leaving in my conditioner for longer on the days I shampoo; I will probably leave it in for a little longer. As for the stuff I put on my roots, it's Perfect Results Super Grow. The stuff works like magic-- my sister who has almost waist-length hair has used this, and it made a BIG difference on how long her hair grew. The olive oil and the olive oil hairspray I use are both by Proclaim. Basically, Proclaim! and Perfect Results work like magic. My hair has never been softer, and my hairstylist barely even trimmed my ends last time!

My styles

I wear my hair down just about 100% of the time, since there isn't much I can do with this length. I can put my hair in very high or very low ponytails, however for a high ponytail it requires bobby pins (and it hurts really bad), and low ponytails I reserve for decorating cakes and painting rooms. I wear it in a classic pixie style during the first three weeks after a touch-up. Then, I wear scarves and other protective styles during the last few weeks.

Using heat

I try not to heat-style, but I do it really often. When I don't need to, I don't do it at all. I allow my hair to air dry after washing, and I never curl my hair. However, I straighten it almost every school day. I need to get my act together; I know.

How I maintain moisture

I use olive oil hairspray almost every time I use heat. As for keeping my back and left side hydrated, I am going to start using hair lotions. I am also planning on using an olive oil/cinnamon hair mask once a month or so, once I figure out if it's safe on chemically-treated hair. But, my weekly routine has been lasting me the whole week without going dry lately. If I can limit my heat usage, my hair will always feel soft.

Internal ways to promote healthy hair

I take hair, skin, and nail vitamin supplements I bought from Wal-Mart. I haven't used it much lately because you have to take them three times a week, which is a difficult routine to keep up, especially during the school year. But during the summer when I was using it correctly, my hair felt very bushy at the roots, and grew pretty quickly. My nails have been very strong, but then again they were already in pretty good shape. I also hear garlic supplements can help to reduce shedding.

Setbacks along the way

I think I already talked about them, but an additional struggle is my issue with hair loss. I am someone who is generally under A LOT of stress during the school year, which unfortunately takes up most of the year. In addition to that, I am prone to bald spots because of my vitamin D deficiency. I currently have a bald spot on the left side of my head above my ear that has been shaved down and covered with a longer piece of hair.


So, now that I have gotten to know my hair, now I know the things I need to work on.

  • I am going to start stretching between relaxers. I'm going to try going 8-10 weeks between relaxers for my first stretch, and then stretch for two extra weeks every time.
  • I am going to try to braid my hair more often, so that I don't need to use heat. I can only braid the right side, but it's something.
  • I am going to use more protective styles (like bandanas and headbands), so that I don't constantly put stress on my hair with heat and pins.
  • I will massage my scalp more often.
  • I will actually take my vitamins, three times a day.
  • I will drink more water.
Wish me luck! I've grown out a pixie before, so I know I can do it again!