Grinding my gears…

Ya know what grinds my gears? I can’t stand it when people assume things without knowing the whole story. Almost nothing is private in high school and rumors spread to every nook and cranny of the hallways. Although it is human nature to associate someone with what you have heard about them, students and people in general should get to know someone before they assign their ultimate judgement. Also, people are quick to judge others without knowing all of the circumstances around their situation that may change the perspective of the story. This can be extremely frustrating for you if you are on the receiving end of the judgement.

Like the old saying goes, “kids can be cruel.” High school is a time where people are growing and finding themselves, who they want to be around, and how they identify themselves. By putting others down just based off of the rumors you hear to make oneself feels better can not only destroy the esteem of a teen but also teach the perpetrator to build confidence by putting others down. We should learn to give others the benefit of the doubt, especially if we don’t know who they are.


wE arE all human

Within past months, immigration has grown as an opinion-dividing topic, forming a partition in our nation. As war-torn and nations in conflict lack stability and affairs with human dignity, populations must find a way to construct it in isolation. Inhabitants of a lot of first-world nations know that what is occurring is unjust and hold an additional standard but fail to do anything about unjust actions in war-torn nations. Following Donald Trump’s victory, this complication will compound as anti-immigrant thoughts and opinions magnify worldly. Ballots fall to applicants running for positions in authority who adopt and broadcast anti-immigrant opinions.

To diminish this worry, populations must build a civilization that grasps truth, not opinion. Facts in contrary to alarm or panic will diminish loathing that corrupts us. To put an immigrant down not owing to disposition but to an immigrant’s country of origin or host country allows populations to turn ignorant. Ignorant of what is right, just, and most importantly kind. To combat this anti-immigrant opinion, populations must grasp that immigrants fight who host nations fight too. Immigrant of not, inhabitants all want satisfaction and tranquility, but most importantly immigrants and non-immigrants all last as humans.


As highschoolers, I’m sure we’re all familiar with sleep deprivation, and the irritation that comes with it. Often, in many teen movies, highschoolers are always portrayed as the edgy teen who talks back to their parents and only mumbles a grunt when are asked questions. However, this may have less to do with the “mom it’s not a phase” phase and more to do with the lack of sleep we get, causing us to be irritated. Many times before, I have been too tired to answer to my parents in a coherent way, causing me to become irritated when they continue to talk to me. Although this may come across as just being rude, a word that might clear up some of the confusion between parents and children would be “tirritated.” Instead of having to explain to their parents why these students are not in the mood to talk, they can simply just say that they are “tirritated” or irritated because they’re tired. This way, there will be no more time wasted on the daily “why are you annoyed” talk.

Unauthorized Medical Experimentation/Eugenics

In Ellison’s novel, “Invisible Man,” on of the darker times of history is revealed in Chapter 11 after  the narrator suffers an explosion in the “Liberty Paints” factory and is sent to what he assumes to be the factory hospital. However, the doctors treat him more as a test tube experiment than a fellow human as one doctor wants to attempt to use his “little machine” to develop the cure which is obviously still a work in the making. Another doctor is slightly concerned saying, “‘…I believe it a mistake to assume that solutions–cures, that is–that apply in, uh…primitive instances, are, uh…equally effective when more advanced conditions are in question'” (Ellison 235-236). After the second doctor questions the morality of their actions, he is quickly shut down and experimentation proceeds through electric shocks. Although the doctors know that their is a “danger” from using the currents, they continue anyways because his “inferiority” he has acquired being a black man. This scene is a reference to unauthorized medical experimentation/eugenics which were used in the past usually by the government in collaboration with doctors to “weed out the bad traits” by secretly experimenting on black people and women.

Ellison includes this graphic scene in the novel because it reminds his readers that this was not just a story, but a problem that hundreds of minorities faced in America’s history that the novel tries to highlight. An article from the New York Times in January of 2007 found that “The most notorious medical experiment in American history was surely the Tuskegee syphilis study, in which 400 black men with syphilis were left untreated for 40 years, from 1932 until 1972, so government doctors could study the course of the disease.” Eventually more than one hundred black men died from this experiment receiving no warning or compensation. Ellison’s reference to situations like these adds to the readers’ understanding of the novel by helping the reader visualize the cruelty of unauthorized experimentation but also the motive as to why our nation committed this horrible act against humanity. An article from NBC in February of 2011 found that the reason why the government wanted to perform eugenics and unauthorized experimentation was because they felt that “sacrifice for the nation was important.” Unfortunately, this sacrifice meant killing off those who did not have the representation to fight back or the people they considered inferior to the white race. Eugenics in America and the forced experimentation that came with it was often compared to Nazi techniques to remove Jews from the “superior race” by keeping them in concentration camps. Unfortunately this sad depiction of what happens to the narrator and techniques used by Nazis were subsidized by our own government.









Take the Stage

Heart pounding, arms sweating, heavy breathing, and legs shaking, I moved slowly like a dark mass hovering over the ground, repeating my lines in my head over and over again like a commanding voice reverberating against the insides of my skull pounding…pounding…pounding like a tribal drum forcing me to close my eyes and squeeze my eyelids shut as the announcer cleared his throat pulling the microphone up to his plump limps, introducing my name in a raspy tone that made me shiver with fright and excitement at the possibility of failure that I faced in the moment, so I walked up the steep set of wooden, black-painted stairs leading up to a vast, illuminated stage polished to a shine hoping that my work would soon pay off—the sleepless nights, the countless hours, the fun missed out on…it was my time.

Knowing and Doing

In a collection of Old Norse poems called the Havamal, I found verse 23 to be especially intriguing. It read like this:

A foolish man
is all night awake,
pondering over everything;
he then grows tired;
and when morning comes,
all is lament as before.

This poem, although short, can be relatable to anyone who is a “worry-wart”. There are two main interpretations that I pulled from this stanza. First, a man or woman who stays up a night worrying about something is simply doing so in vain. There is no point in constantly worrying about something that you have no control over. As the foolish man continues to ponder over something all night, in the morning nothing has changed. In society, we constantly worry about what others think of us or how some may perceive us. We wonder if people think we’re unattractive or if they think we’re unintelligent.This can lead to more self-consciousness and less self-confidence. Not only is the worrying aimless, but it also leads to more harm. The second interpretation provides a call to action for the readers. It’s very easy to constantly worry about something and go to others to voice your concerns, but it’s difficult to actually do something about your problem. Even though the man in the poem continues to worry, he doesn’t actually do anything about it resulting in the same feelings of sadness and worry the next day. Although, people tend to worry a lot and complain to others, little actually do something about it. Procrastination is this concept at its prime. The week before a big exam, we constantly worry about how important it is, but don’t actually study for it. As a result, the night before the test we’re still worrying about it because nothing has actually been done to change how things are.

One example from “The Grapes of Wrath” where this concept is repeated is when the Joads stop at a gas station to get water and fill up their tank. The employee working there keeps questioning the Joads about the same issue and keeps wondering why everyone is moving west and why the economy is failing. The Joads, specifically Tom, get annoyed because he keeps asking the same question. In this case, no matter how much the man asked the question and worried, the situation of the economy and the migration westward would not change. Unless, the employee joined a worker’s union or migrated west himself, his worrying is pointless. We need to stop thinking and knowing and we need to start changing and doing.

Let Them In

President Donald Trump has taken an extreme isolationist stance on things from immigration policies to alliances, and the repercussions of his actions are already starting to appear. After the refugee ban was recently shut down by a federal judge from Brooklyn, a major part of the fight for humanitarianism was achieved. However, an article from CNN written by David Andelman titled, “Forget the lawsuits–thousands of refugees already face a locked door,” sends a reminder that this is not the end of suffering for the refugees.  Andelman suggests that there still exists the problem of global refugee quota for the United States. Donald Trump has slashed this quota by more than one-half with Obama’s previous goal of admitting 110,000 refugees for 2017 diminished to a mere 50,000. Moreover, European countries, despite a growing xenophobic atmosphere and smaller populations, are still accepting a higher proportion of refugees to population than the United States. This highlights the extreme stance Trump has taken regarding the admittance of refugees. Andelman also highlights a major problem with the quota. Trump’s said purpose is to prevent possible terrorists from conflict-ridden regions to be able to come to America disguised as refugees. However, the refugee quota is not unique to regions where terrorism is rampant. For example, the United States receives many refugees from Burma each year where terrorism is non-existent, and they present no danger. Unfortunately, Trump’s quota includes cutting them off from the United States too for no apparent reason.

This article shines light on a very important subject, and really reminded me of the extent of this problem. Even though we just hear these things on the news or read it in the paper, these problems affect real people-people that we go to school with and families that we know. Deportation has separated families, and there have been many cases of deportation of legal permanent residents. For example, Miguel Perez Jr. was born in Mexico, but came to the United States as a child later and lived here as a legal permanent resident with a green card. Eventually he joined the U.S. Special Forces and served two tours in Afghanistan fighting for his country. Unfortunately, he served seven years in prison for a drug charge, and after his time in prison he was sent to the immigration court for prospects of deportation because he technically was not a U.S. citizen. Our immigration process has alienated the very people that make it possible for us to have the right to be U.S. citizens. Moreover, the affects of slashing the refugee quota and our failing immigration system affects society even more profoundly. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs and innovators have been immigrants that have changed the way we think and function. For example, the co-founder of Google was an immigrant born in Moscow. By cutting off refugees and immigrants from the United States we lose this innovation, and lose our ability to develop further. The reason why we thrive as a country is because we are a melting pot of races, religions, and cultures that coexist to produce new breakthroughs and ideas that one race, ethnicity, or culture alone could not. America was founded by immigrants and despite the conflicts among ethnicities that Americans experienced in its early years, we have come a long way. We should not let fear-mongering and ignorance allow us to fall back and lose all of the work we have done to come so far. If we really care about the future of our nation, we need to accept each other not for where we come from but who we are because at the end of the day we are all human.


Down in the Depths

We went down to the hotel pool at about 11 p.m. He was floating face-down on an inflatable raft. We thought that he might have simply been asleep as it seemed that a muscle constantly twitched in his leg. I tried to wipe the dark thoughts out of my brain as images of the horror movie my friends and I had just unwillingly watched flickered on and off. My friends, Andrea, Paul, and Lexi laughed uncomfortably at our hesitance as we collaboratively all stuck our feet in the water at the same time. I felt someone push me from behind as I fell face first into the ice-cold water feeling my breath leave me as soon as I broke the barrier between the chilly night air and the icy water. Shooting back up out of the water I splashed Lexi as she giggled obnoxiously. “That’s not funny,” I whined.

“I don’t know, it looked pretty funny to me,” Paul reasoned in his confused tone as always. Lexi high-fived him and they dove in the water alongside me. The pool was a neon-green color as the bright lights along the walls of the pool shone through the water illuminating the middle of the pool. I swam a bit further as the water turned murky and darker as I drew away from the lights. My head popped out of the water like a prairie dog peering out of its hole. Lexi, Paul, and Andrea were far behind me splashing each other and cackling at their immature games. I scanned the pool for any new swimmers.

My heart stopped and I froze. The man on the small, purple raft had floated away from the middle of the pool and now was at the edge of the pool next to the drain, his head bumping into the wall with each lull in the water. “Shouldn’t the bumping on his skull be enough to wake him up?” I thought. “Guys, come here!” I yelled to the group. They quit splashing each other and started towards me gliding through the water. As they reached me I pointed at the man’s body hitting the wall, and they stared as well.

“Maybe we should go check up on him?” Andrea mumbled. We all stared at each other waiting for someone to take the initiative to check on the mysterious man, but none of us moved. His body looked completely tranquil, as the small ripples in the water caused it to move to the ebb of the flow. I rolled my eyes and stepped forward lightly tapping the man on the shoulder. No reply. Suddenly, I felt cold and the chills ran down my spine causing each hair on my back to stand up. I tapped him once more a little more aggressively. Still no reply. His hand fell off the edge of the inflatable raft, sinking slowly into the murky waters. I stuck my hand in the water searching for his like a lost watch. Finally, I grasped my hand around something cold and frail. I breathed in deeply. Looking back at my friends, Lexi was huddled close to Andrea, and Paul was looking away nervously. I shook the hand lightly hoping for a response this time. Nothing happened. I shook it harder. And harder. Harder once more. Suddenly, his hand jolted awake as if there was an electric shock and gripped around mine tightly. I screamed trying to pull away. He lifted up his head quickly, and gasped for air.

His face was covered in dripping, bright blood and his mouth gaped open. His eyes, tinted yellow, were wide with fright and seemed to burn right through mine. “Help me. Help- please,” he gasped. I still tried to pull my hand away, traumatized at what I had just seen. His head shifted slightly, and I stared at him but he seemed to have moved his gaze from me to somewhere right behind me. Suddenly, he started shaking and he gripped my hand tighter. With his other hand he pointed across the pool into the other murky end. Lexi, Paul, Andrea and I all turned our heads along the line of his gaze. He shivered and pointed, “there.” “He’s still there,” the man whispered shakily.

The murky water at the other end of the pool rippled.


A Long Trek Home


Florence Thompson and her children in a pea pickers’ camp. Nipomo, California. March 1936.


This picture taken by photographer Dorothea Lange depicts a woman and her children resting under a tent at a pea pickers’ camp. This photo calls to mind a quote from John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” were the Joads take a break from driving and stop at the side of the road where the meet the Ivy and Sairy Wilson who asks Grampa Joad, “‘How’d you like ta come in our tent?…You kin lay down on our mattress an’ rest'” (Steinbeck 139). This photo reminds me of this specific scene from the book because there is a small tent built just like the Wilsons. The two children in the tent also remind me of Ruthie and Winfield. I could imagine the little tent set on a dirt landscape similar to this one off of a highway. The atmosphere and setting of this image perfectly embodies the scene where the Joads meet the Wilsons.


Abandoned garage on Highway Number 2. Western North Dakota. 1937

This second photograph was taken by Russell Lee. This image is strikingly similar to the scene from “The Grapes of Wrath” where the Joads travel along the highway and eventually need to stop for water and gas at a “shack beside the road [with] two gas pumps in front of it” (Steinbeck 128). This scene and the photograph are shockingly almost identical. In fact the photograph does have a shack with exactly two gas pumps. The road next to the gas station is similar to the road the Joads were traveling on right before they stopped for gas. Overall, you can feel the dreariness in this photo with its desolation that the Joads must have felt too as they were traveling along relying on their car to not break down. Both photographs from Lee and from Lange reveal the desolation and weariness that the characters from the novel must have felt as well.

The Prince in the Castle

Prince Rogers Nelson, otherwise known as Prince, was born on June 7, 1958 in Minnesota. From a young age Prince was successful in the music business. At just 18 years old he signed a deal with the Warner Bros. and released his debut album. As he grew older his success grew and eventually joined a band, “The Revolution” and released one of his biggest hits Purple Rain. He was famous for his eclectic style, his flamboyant outfits, and his ability to sing on a wide vocal range. He sang songs from R&B to rock and was admired by many.

The lyrics to Purple Rain went like this:

I never meant to cause you any sorrow

I never meant to cause you any pain

I only wanted one time to see you laughing

I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain
Purple rain Purple rain

Purple rain Purple rain

Purple rain Purple rain
I only want to see you bathing in the purple rain
I never wanted to be your weekend lover

I only wanted to be some kind of friend

Baby I could never steal you from another

It’s such a shame our friendship had to end
Purple rain Purple rain

Purple rain Purple rain

Purple rain Purple rain
I only want to see you underneath the purple rain
Honey I know, I know, I know times are changing

It’s time we all reach out for something new

That means you too

You say you want a leader

But you can’t seem to make up your mind

I think you better close it

And let me guide you to the purple rain
Purple rain Purple rain

Purple rain Purple rain
If you know what I’m singing about up here

C’mon raise your hand
Purple rain Purple rain
I only want to see you, only want to see you

In the purple rain.
This song was one of his biggest hits; however, many were confused about the meaning of the lyrics after all what actually is purple rain? Many people have different interpretations of the meaning of this song, but one interpretation is that a man wants to be with a girl, but he cannot because she is already with another man. Even though he really wants to be with her and is sad that she can’t be with him he just wants her to be happy. That’s why despite his sadness, he wants her to laugh and dance in the purple rain. Some believe that the purple rain represents his desire to be with her but the sadness he feels knowing he can’t.
Prince has left an unmatchable impact that continues to affect music to this day.