Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Thinking Spot

There is a place near my house, some three blocks away, where I walk to several times a week to think. It is a local marina on Lake Michigan with a park and a beach situated at the botton of a steep hill. I did not begin to appreciate such a wonderful place (right near my house) until this year when I began to go there more and more. I go there to think, to dwell upon problems, to create ideas, to rid myself of the constant distractions of school, work, and home. It is a beautiful place.

I leave my house and cross the busy street in front of it, which serves as a reminder that I am, in fact, still in the city. I travel down the sidewalk that leads through a neighborhood of cape cods and ranches that were built in the 30's and 40's. I sometimes look at the houses and admire the unique landscaping in their front yards. I think that, if I could live in another house, I would pick a certain one along that road. The street is lined with trees--oaks and maples, mainly. The branches hang very low at some points so that I must duck under them or let them brush into my face. The people, also, are very friendly and must know that I frequently walk along their street. They wave and say "good morning" every single time I walk past.

The houses abruptly end at a road overlooking the lake, which meets another road leading to the marina. From here I can see a view of the lake from a high point and hear the gentle hissing of the waves. I walk down the roadway to the marina, where I notice the construction of the nearby water treatment plant. It provides a good supply of tap water to my home among others in the city. As the roadway comes to an end, it gives way to an arched, teal footbridge that crosses a wide creek emptying into the lake. People often throw their fishing lines off of this bridge but seldom catch anything besides sucker fish. I prefer just to stand on the bridge and watch across the mouth of the river.

A jetty juts out into the lake, just past the yacht club and the beach. There are chained railings on each side of it, but I like to cross over them and sit on the rocks below. From here I can almost see Michigan on the other side, yet it is still only a blurry haze. I can also see the beach and watch the people swim with their families and friends. A great number of the beachcombers are immigrants from Latin America, so I like to listen to what they are saying and attempt to understand it. But mainly, I merely prefer to listen to the crashing waves and be alone with my thoughts. Any thoughts, really. Whenever I am at home, I become distracted with anything and everything around me. At the lake, the only thing I can do is relax myself and clear my mind. I believe everyone should have a thinking spot and indeed does have one without necessarily knowing it. I have been doing a lot of thinking these past few months and have been coming to the lake several times a week. There has been a need to escape the constant stress of this summer and clear my head of it. And when I decide to turn around and walk back to my house, I know I have reached a greater understanding than before.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Some Posts are not Very Deep

What can I say about July so far? Another roller coaster of a month and, as always, very busy. Between work, band, the nature center, and trying to have a social life, I have not had much time to write a decent post. And this post, although decent, does not have a lot of significance besides informing everyone about how I am doing. As much as I would love to sit down and write about a certain topic (and I do have many ideas), this month has passed very quickly and much of it has been left in the dark on this site. So I am going to use a self-interview format like I do in similar posts. Later this month, I will write about something less generic and possibly put some photos in. Until then, I will fill in the gaps between my last post and this moment.

Q: Where have you been these past few weeks? You haven't posted in a long time.

A: The main reason is that I spent a week in Hayward, Wisconsin, with my family. My uncle rented a house on a lake in the area and much of my mom's family was there. I have never been in that part of the state--it's amazingly beautiful. Just the variety of trees alone is impressive: aspens, firs, red pines, oaks, and quite a few more that I can't name. The lake was also very pristine. And the sunsets alone were worth the trip. Since the house faced to the West on the lake, we got a postcard sunset every night. I'll admit it was nice to get away from the city for awhile, but it was also difficult in some aspects. In the end, we felt it was too soon to gather for a week. Everyone was still very emotional and we weren't sure if the subject of my mom was taboo or not. My dad mentioned it would be a good idea if he, my brother, and I went on a trip just by ourselves later this year. It seemed there were just too many people and too many emotions for one house.

Q: Marching band season has started and you have a new director. How has that been going?

A: In a nutshell, not so good. A few months ago, our middle school band director was laid off because of budget cuts. She was also our head marching band director. When her position was cut, the other two marching band directors turned in their resignation so they could spend more time with family. So, basically, our marching band was left with only our color guard instructor. We were able to hire a new director, who we have worked with for the entire season so far. He is very experienced (a Milwaukee police officer and retired Marine Corps band member) and has a lot of new ideas. These new ideas, however, are replacing the techniques which we had used in previous years. I have a lot of confidence in his ideas and don't mind doing something different, but many others are resisting this change and morale is very low as a result. He is also a bit out of touch and seldom listens to a lot of our own ideas. What I am afraid of is a mass dropout, which would ultimately destroy our band because of its already small size. I can only hope that we can reach a comprimise with our director and work toward a decent score at the State competition.

Q: Are you still working at Hollywood Video?

A: Yes, although I am not glad to say so. The main problem is the store manager. She is constantly disregarding my schedule requests and is giving me more hours than I can handle. I had told her that I need Wednesdays and Thursdays off for marching band, yet she has scheduled me for Wednesday the past two weeks. I gave her my band schedule to reference, but she also managed to have me work during one of my parades. And when I trade with someone to work around those days, she gets angry and asks why I can't work. I also have not gotten a single raise since I began eight months ago, even though the company policy is to offer a raise after ninety days to workers who pass their performance review, which I have not gotten either. I'll be bringing these issues up with her next time I see her...If she doesn't change anything, I could always bring it up with the district manager. The silver lining is that if she fails another store audit, she will likely get fired. We can only hope.

So that's my update on the last month in a nutshell. There's much more to it, but I don't have much time to write about it. Sorry if this sounded a bit like an angry rant at some points. There really are a lot of negative things in this post, but this summer has not been going so well. On a positive note, the past few days have been quite good. I have had a bit more spare time to be with friends and relax. Hopefully, my up cycle will last awhile longer.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Nature Project

At times, I can feel imprisoned while living in the city. At night, I fall asleep to the sound of motorcycles and ambulances rushing down our street. On my way home from work, I pass through five stoplights, three of which I am stopped at every single time. A few times a week, I usually go for a walk in our littered park, which has been a slight reminder that I still have access to some type of environment.

Since I started volunteering at a nature center roughly a half hour away from my house, I have seen it as a brief escape from the city. I am not sure how large it is in acres, but I would say it is at least fifty if I were to guess. I feel at peace when the sun radiates upon me in the prairie, when the blooming spiderwort creates a sea of purple that rocks in the breeze. I love hearing the water crash down into the river from the waterfall at the edge of the lake. The mosquitoes are especially vicious this time of year, yet I have somehow grown to appreciate them as they symbolize the roughness of nature. They show how not everything in nature is beautiful or perfect--they just are.

My first day at the nature center was just over three weeks ago. Each day is centered around a certain project. Mondays, which I usually attend, are dedicated to the phenology hike, where a chart is filled out to show which plants are in bloom. I am the youngest person in the group, by at least fourty years. I was taken aback by their age at first, feeling slightly out of place.

"Who needs to use a big pen for their arthritis?" one of the volunteers had asked.

I simply smiled politely and declined her offer.

The rest of the group, though, contains some of the friendliest and smartest people I have met. Many of them are retired teachers, who have a great knowledge of the local flora and fauna. On Tuesdays, the projects require more manual labor and attract a younger crowd. It is focused around trail maintenance--things like spreading woodchips, pulling invasive plants, and repairing broken bridges and boardwalks. A few weeks ago, after the local flooding had done incredible damage, I helped to repair a broken footbridge and clear the sticks and debris that were damming a creek. Yes, the work is quite exhausting, especially when it is humid and the mosquitoes are dense. But it is the rewarding kind of exhaustion, the kind that lets you know you've worked hard and accomplished something. And there is always something new to accomplish.

I was reluctant to start volunteering at first. After my mother had passed away, I didn't feel a desire to do anything--work, band, seeing friends. I thought my entire summer would be drastically altered. Everything I wanted or had intended to do would be put on hold until the situation would clear up. But I knew such thoughts did not make sense. Change is sometimes inevitable, but the results of change do not have to be. I knew that if I let my grief consume my summer, I would regret it and learn nothing. I knew that my mother would have wanted me to make the best out of my summer, despite the situation. So I decided to give the new project a try and make something of the next few months.

Thus far, I am very satisfied about my decision to start volunteering. It is an important step to becoming an environmentalist, if that ultimately is the field I go into. I have met some very interesting people there and listened to their stories. Some of them are teachers, some are environmentalists, and others are everything from software engineers to construction workers. One of the things I have noticed is the diversity among the volunteers. Before I started, I expected everyone to be either an environmental scientist or a teacher or a naturalist. Contrary to what I first thought, everyone there is decicated to something different and has different stories to tell. I am happy, now, to be a part of that group and preserve a chunk of nature for others to enjoy. It helps to know that I am able to escape the concrete jungle I call home whenever I need to.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Don't Turn our Environment into a Political Tool, John McCain

As often as I can, I try not to make this a political blog. I have seen online debates get really nasty, and I do not want to be a part of that except for protecting (not imposing) my own opinions. Looking over this site, I have posted only a few politically-oriented blogs, all on occasions which have either motivated, angered, or interested me. In this situation, I am angered. John McCain is creating a facade to make himself seem pro-environment for his own political benefit.

I first saw this commercial roughly a week ago and the fakeness of it was immediate. Sure, it shows how McCain disagreed with the President on several environmental issues. He aknowledges the threat of global warming, he voted several times against ANWR drilling, and he even supports alternative energy sources, proposing to lift the fuel efficiency standard to 35 mpg on American cars. These are all things which I stand for and would make it seem as if John McCain is genuinely concerned with the environment.

However, the commercial failed to mention his inconcistency with ANWR drilling. Although he did vote against it several times, he voted to preserve the existing budget for it. He also proposed a lift on a federal ban of offshore oil drilling in certain areas, letting the decision come to the individual state governments. His so-called plans for conservation do not agree with his funding methods. In 2007, he sided with President Bush, who vetoed $2 billion in funding for restoration of the Everglades. The funding should have been $7.8 as stated in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. I know our government doesn't exactly have money right now, but that whole problem is a result of the tax-cutting, laissze faire policies of him and his fellow Republicans anyway. Instead of standing for our natural resources, McCain sided with Bush and the real estate developers to cut the CERP funding even further. I know I'm throwing out different stats and facts at a rapid rate, but I'll just do one more. McCain voted against funding for solar power research as well, and we all know that solar power could have a promising future in areas like the Southwest, where it is usually sunny.

It is clear that the 2008 election is about change and both candidates are trying to portray that aspect in their campaigns. McCain is trying to distance himself from the Republican Party for that reason. My problem is that, if he wants to look pro-environment, his voting record should match up with that. He is playing the typical Republican game of skewing the truth (in this case, his voting record and who he sides with). I already know he generally does not support environmental change. But when he campaigns that he does support this, it is just another game of politics which we have seen for the past eight years. I am not disregarding any instances in which the Democratic candidates have done something like this. No candidate is perfect, of course, and we have seen it from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as well. And if, for some reason, I was running for president, I would have made many more mistakes than they ever did. But this sharade is big. He is creating a false image blocking out years of inconsistency and anti-environmental votes. So when he bullshits us on TV, it further strenghtens my dislike for him as a candidate. And I'm sure that most other environmentalists see through this commercial as well.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Writing Cures

It seems that, this month, there have been a lot of strange signs related to my mother's death. I am far from superstitious, yet (perhaps as part of the grieving process) small things seem like signs to me. For instance, the plant my mom had gotten my grandmother for Mothers' Day bloomed the morning of the funeral. Or, even some of the things my mom said the week before her death are comforting to me. I had overheard her talking to my aunt on the phone about my dad getting a motorcycle. "You never know when your ticket's up," she had said. "If there's something you want to do, go out and do it". Having heard this, I know she is at peace with everything that has happened.

But one of the strangest things was a journal that was sent to me last night. It was sent by a coordinator from the Wisconsin Donor Network, whom my father and I worked with in the hospital. There was an envelope from her, addressed to me. So I opened it, and in it was a copy of "The Healing your Grieving Heart Journal for Teens". It is a book filled with advice and open-ended questions with space to write in. When the answers are well-thought out, they can be very thought provoking and helpful as well. The strangeness about it, though, is that I destroyed the last journal I kept only a few days ago. I had been writing an entry, but I found it difficult to even think. Everything seemed so overwhelming. My brain felt like a fog of grief and frustration. Struggling to think about the past few days, I simply crumpled the pages. That was it. My entire journal with months of writing was destroyed, and I felt a sense of bitter satisfaction by doing it. I thought I would never write again--not in a journal, not in this blog, not in stories. I thought I had lost not only my ability to write, but my desire as well. Having this journal sent to me, I think, is a sign. I have to keep writing. I have written about everything since I learned how to do so. Giving it up would be unfair to myself and to my mother.

Last night, I began to read and write in the journal that was sent to me. I knew it would help and it did. The first section of it was about my relationship with the person and some of our memories. It made me think of the time we had spent at our cabin near Lake Sherwood--sitting by the campfire, playing croquet, riding our bikes to the gas station. Those memories hurt as much as they help. And I think it will be that way for awhile. Even though my fondest memories of her are painful, I think bringing them back is important. Shutting them out would make things even more painful. Part of the grieving process is remembering the person who has passed, and I find it a necessary thing to do. This journal will allow me to do that. Having the journal sent to me, I know that I must continue writing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Saying Goodbye

It's one of those things that, even six days later, seems difficult and painful to believe. Sometimes a situation has no finality to it because you don't want to aknowledge it even started. This has been one of those situations. It has been six days since my mother passed away due to a spontaneous aneurysm.

I was awoken Saturday morning by my dad, saying that I needed to get up because there was a problem with Mom. So I got dressed and made my way downstairs to the kitchen. There she was, on the ground, aided by the paramedics. She was completely unconscious. Our first guess was that she had had a heart attack.

We rushed to the hospital, where she was sent to the cath lab to detect any possible blood clots. For a few minutes, my dad and I waited in the guest area, completely in shock. We knew she was going to be okay--maybe she would need a heart medication or surgery, but she would be okay. When the doctor came to see us, he said there was no blockage in any of her blood vessels, and the problem was likely neurological. I knew that either meant a stroke or some type of aneurysm, but I asked nothing. If it was a stroke, I knew it would be a long road to recovery. If it was an aneurysm, well, it couldn't have been.

A few minutes later, she was taken to a room in the cardiac intensive care unit. My dad and I entered the room to see her, hooked up to IVs and breathing tubes. She seemed peaceful, yet it hurt to see her in a condition like that. A few months ago, my aunt was waiting in the hospital for a liver transplant and she became very frail and sick. It was difficult to see her as well, but now I believe seeing that prepared me for seeing my mother.

The nurses and doctors began to run heart scans, brain scans, and blood tests. While that was happening, my dad scrambled to notify our family--some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins, who were camping together; my grandparents, who were in Seattle; the rest of my family, who was at home; and my brother, who was at college nearby in Waukesha. Shortly before my brother arrived, the doctor talked to my dad about the prognosis. I had overheard him saying it was an aneurysm and that the brain was damaged completely. There would be no chance of recovery. After the doctor left, my dad came back into the room and said, "You know what's happening?" I nodded and we both lost our composure. Even though it was my toughest experience so far, I am glad I knew what was happening then. Any bit of hope for recovery was destroyed, and I am thankful for that. Unrealistic hope is terrible for the mind. If I would have spent the next day thinking there was a possibility of recovery, I would have been crushed.

Over the next few hours, our entire family began to show up in the waiting room. The only other person who knew the exact prognosis was my brother.

The next few hours were very emotional as everyone came into the room to see my mother. The feeling of disbelief was undescribable. She had been so healthy, so young. She would always walk every day after dinner. The night before, there had been no complaints at all. There was no family history either. Why would this happen?

Naturally, the doctors decided to run a few more tests and scans to confirm what was happening. The results, of course, were the same. And by that time, everyone knew what was going to happen. There was no more denial. The chaplin joined our family in the room as we said a prayer of sorts. It was the most emotional experience of my life. Everyone was in tears and I must have hugged everyone as well. I still remember my uncle's words to me: "You have to stay strong, okay?" Technically, my mother was in a deep coma and the only sign of brain activity was a few labored breaths. Once it was determined that she could no longer breathe on her own, she was announced brain dead at 10:10 PM.

My aunt, as I mentioned, received a liver transplant roughly six months ago. She has regained a lot of weight since then and is healthier than she had been in years. Because of her experience, there was no question that my mom would become an organ donor. Until the next day, she would be kept on life support until the transplant operation. The operation, evidentally, went very well and she donated her kidneys, liver, pancreas, lungs, and heart valves. Until the next morning, though, my dad and I stayed overnight in the hospital. We tried to get a few hours of sleep, although it was hard because of the constant beeping and chiming of the hospital room. Not to mention, the stress of the situation made it difficult to sleep.

We are thankful that my mother's parents were able to make it to the hospital. Since there were thunderstorms and flooding around Wisconsin, their flights were cancelled and they spent the entire day in an airport. In fact, since they could not call us from the plane, we didn't even know which flight they were on. We used the nurses' computer to find that out and when they would be arriving. They finally arrived roughly an hour before my mother was sent to the operating room. So the four of us said goodbye and a few other things until she was taken away.

The funeral was Wednesday with a viewing on Tuesday night. So many people made it to the funeral--my dad's co-workers, my mom's co-workers, our extended family, and some of my friends and teachers from school. I want to point out how helpful everyone has been lately; donations to the school my mom worked at, giving us meals, helping with grocery shopping and laundry, and simply providing moral support. Our living room has been filled with the various flowers given to us. Yesterday had been our first opportunity to transition back to "normal". The funeral arrangements were finished and we had some time to ourselves for once. Of course things weren't normal then and they probably never will be. Obviously, we're discovering how difficult it is to run the house without Mom. I've learned how to do laundry, how to care for the garden, and how to clean. Besides that, it hasn't been easy to wake up knowing she isn't around. For a split second in the morning, I expect her to be downstairs making coffee or talking to our bird. Then reality sinks in and I realize things will never be how they used to. However, I'm confident that the hardest part is over. I know some days will be good, and some will be painfully hard. The only thing to do is to make it through each day knowing that, eventually, things will be closer to normal.

Monday, June 2, 2008

In the Name of War

Don't be fooled, this will not be a liberal, anti-war rant. That is for another day. See, final exams are coming soon and my English final is especially demanding. We had to pick some type of greater theme and connect it to something we covered in class. So my theme is: war brings out the worst in people. We also have to make three creative examples to demonstrate the theme, like a story or poem or song or drawing. The honest reason why I picked the theme I did is because I was listening to "Violet Hill" by Coldplay, which is an anti-war song. It gave me the impulse to do my speech on a related theme. I have been waiting to post some of my writing here, so this is a good chance for me to do so. This is a poem I wrote about what war makes people do:

The coming night was seemingly still
It was lit by the moon and shining stars
Until the masses came, ready to kill
The town we knew would no longer be ours

They circled the wall in a great big mass
While the mothers and children hid inside
The guardsmen took posts and shot to their best
But the enemy just threw them aside

They charged in through the gates and filled the streets
They raided homes and turned them into flame
Their mercy was not present in the least
Their so-called honor was all put to shame

Fathers, mothers, and even young children
All killed through swords, maces, arrows, and gore
The town was then open for pillaging
And all of it was in the name of war

I didn't have much time to put it together, but it's just a few of my thoughts on the subject. This project has been relatively tolerable, actually. I don't mind English projects so much because I like writing and giving speeches. The truth is, I haven't written a whole lot lately, besides in my journal and on this blog. I am finally finding some time to do that, so I have been thinking of a few ideas. I was hoping to start writing a short story last week, but things like that never go to plan. I have a nicely developed idea to use, though, so I will be expanding on it when I am ready.

Ironically enough, the idea I have been considering is slightly war-related. The basic idea is that it involves a young man who was deported from his home with his family. He had lived on a farm, which was raided by a "superior" race that sought to turn the area into a gigantic manor farm. He now lives in an urban slum and struggles to adapt to a new lifestyle. This should make a good premise for a short story or novella, but we'll see how it turns out.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Viva la Vida

Such a powerful message, I admitted while listening to the new Coldplay song for the first time. Once I heard that Coldplay would be releasing a new album in June, I suddenly felt anxious to get it. Although I can't buy the album yet, I just bought the singles for "Viva la Vida" and "Violet Hill". Those have, in fact, been the only two songs I've been listening too for the past half hour. I have everything short of an obsession with Coldplay--their music is beautiful and deep and meaningful. I am only judging from the lyrics, but they both seem like strong anti-war songs. "Violet Hill" makes a reference to the Crusades. I think it brings up the backwardness of war and the consequences of honor. I'm pretty anti-war myself, but these songs are just pleasing to listen to.

Again, I know I have become lazy with posts lately and this one is quite short as well. Perhaps later I will organize my thoughts and just write whatever comes to mind.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Green in the City

This shot was taken from the 2008 Green Festival at the Chicago Navy Pier! I know my posts have been infrequent lately, mainly because I haven't had much to post about except for the AP exam (which is over now). But one exciting thing I've been lucky enough to do was attend my first ever Green Festival.

The trip started in South Milwaukee, where a friend from school and I drove down to Kenosha (about a 45 minute ride). We'll call my friend "Sahara" to protect the innocent. We then boarded the Metra Rail, which is a very good deal at five dollars roundtrip with a weekend pass. So we got on.

"Is this the train to Chicago?" I asked a man sitting across from us.
"I hope so," was his reply.

After a slight leap of faith, we were on our way the Windy City and arrived after about two hours. On the way there, Sahara and I were completely fascinated to be on a train and spent most of the trip looking out the window, watching swampy forests give way to suburbs, which gave way to ghettos, which gave way to skyscrapers.

Now at the train station, we had one more method of transportation to experiment with--the bus. Since the bus stop was so crowded with Green Festival guests, we missed the first one but were able to board the next bus ten minutes later. The bus seemed quite like a downtown tour; it drove past the many skyscrapers, the Chicago River, and Millenium Park.

Finally, after almost four hours of transportation, we arrived at the Navy Pier. Being my first time at the Navy Pier, Sahara and I thought it would be a good idea to go on the ferris wheel. This is the view of Downtown from the top. Once we arrived at the actual festival, we were at first taken aback by the vastness of it. The main attraction was the expo, which was a massive series of stands with everything from fair trade chocolate to Nepalese paper to the Sierra Club. For lunch, I tried vegan empanadas, which were delicious. I'm not a vegan, but when in Rome...Still, you would never guess the empanadas contained no meat. For the rest of the afternoon, we explored the expo and tried a countless amount of free samples. The flax chips were one of the more unusual varieties. Everyone from the festival was so friendly! It was amazing to be around so many like-minded people for once. And everything around me was fascinating. When Sahara and I saw the stand with Tibetan prayer flags, we leaped (yes, leaped) in excitement. The prayer flags were my favorite souvenier, along with a shirt I bought that says "Coexist" inside a circle of symbols from different religions. This trip was a much needed break from the recent stress of studying, dramatic high school students, and work. I think the main thing it meant for me was independence, the ability to travel to a strange city without a parent or legal guardian. Being 16, it's hard to have access to traveling. Maybe since I took this trip without getting lost or missing a bus or train, I'll be able to go on similar trips in the future. I'm definitely hoping to attend next year's Green Festival to further explore the trends of being an eco-geek.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Examination Looms

It's finally May and 'tis the season for the annual advanced placement exams. Thanks to block scheduling at my school, I've had the chance to take an AP course as a sophomore--world history. Although the class finished a few months ago, the studying continues due to the upcoming exam. If all goes well, I hope to earn college credit for months of note taking, essay writing, reading, and lectures. World history has been an interesting class from the start. It's the first class I've taken with extensive lectures, which weren't as grueling as I would have thought. If I fail the AP exam, the class itself would still have been extremely valuable for college preparation. I wouldn't say the class completely equates to an actual college course--there were lots of inside jokes and the grades were nicely curved. But all the same, it has been an enriching challenge.

This past month has been a scramble, though! I've been attempting to re-read the entire textbook, write essays, and quiz myself. There are been two study sessions this week (which help a great deal). The wierd thing is that I've even had some dreams about world history. Like, when I was taking a nap, I had a dream about the spread of Islam through sub-Saharan Africa. The textook is beginning to control's a conspiracy. If this is a sample of what college is like, I'm in for more than a treat. Although, there will be a brunch the morning of the exam, which may lighten the load just a little. I'll just be happy to be done with the test to get rid of all the hooplah. Only eight days and counting...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Tinderbox in China

First off: I know I haven't been posting as frequently lately. This is partly a result of being busy and partly from my desire to create longer, more meaningful posts. I will most likely be posting one or two blogs per week, but they will be a bit longer than my typical blogs.

The issue that has gained my attention has been the social situation in China. If you want to see oppression of the poor, low life expectancy, and lack of environmental sustainability, look at China. It's frightening that, as the world's largest industrial nation, China has virtually destroyed its landscape. A huge supply of water for China, the Yellow River, is at a tipping point. Much of the river is polluted (and in many parts, undrinkable), and the only clean areas are near its source in the Himalayan Mountains. Acid rain seems like an issue in America's most populous cities, but it damages buildings and crops in roughly thirty percent of China. And, given the fact that much of the population is concentrated in a fraction of China's landmass, that's a terrible number! Overpopulation is also becoming an alarming burden that continues to crowd major urban centers. Is it fair that their government regulates how many children a family can have? That's a tough call. If the United States had the same problem, what fair measures could we take to solve that problem?

The problem is that we're looking at a period of social unrest in China. And why not? Chinese citizens have every reason to be dissatisfied with the lifestyle they have to put up with. All of the environmental and social issues that China is facing today affect the lower classes the most. And every year, we see the conditions worsening. Could China face a revolution in upcoming years? The government is relatively strong at this point (for now) and seems able to supress any uprisings that could occur. But revolution is a possibility and we've seen it through history. Governments change in China like the sparks fly up. And China has experimented with more governments than any other country has. Perhaps the communist system has been abused and is failing China at this point. Whether a revolution occurs or not, status quo can only be maintained for so long.

If a revolution were to take place in China, what could that mean for the rest of the world? What could that mean for consumeristic Western nations? Through history, we've seen that periods of disorganization or even anarchy follow revolution. That could mean a major slowdown in China's production. A friend and I discussed that it could possibly cause an economic crisis for the rest of the world, which relies heavily on imports from China. The globalized economy which we've built on so much would virtually come crashing down. Someone has to make the products we live on--that "someone" would have to change in order to meet our needs. Perhaps India. But that chance relies on the political situation of China in the future. I'm not at a point where I would panic about the future, but the thought of political in change in China is interesting. It would definitely mean a shift in industrial power. Nowadays, it seems like power comes from industrial strengh instead of military might. That's both good and bad, I suppose. We're seeing that the industrial nature of China is creating a poor quality of life for the working class and something should be done about it before the situation worsens. Since the Chinese government won't likely change things, it may be up to us to do so. Our reliance on Chinese exports is at an all-time high and is creating a house of cards. I'll bring back the theme from my "Consumerism Kind of Sucks" post and say we should stop buying things we don't need. We're creating a reliance on a single country, which is risky to say the least. Of course, American businesses should do something about this as well, like having less Chinese children assemble their products. Our dependence on China will only increase if people remain ignorant of the problems the country is facing. While everything may seem peachy keen right now, think of the hole being dug for the decades to come.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Road Comes to an End

Those were my thoughts as I drove to a friend's house on Friday night, where we would create a scrapbook to give to the director who is leaving the school due to recent budget cuts. As the four of us sat in the living room, organizing the album, we couldn't help but reminisce about the years we had spent with that director. It seems so long ago when I had my first rehearsal with her, trying to play something that sounded at least remotely like music. For five years she had taught my classmates and me. I began to think of all the wonderful moments created by the music program--joyful moments, crazy moments, angry moments, but wonderful moments. I'll never forget the night when my friends and I had to stay in a run-down hotel in Minneapolis after our flight from Florida (for a performance) was cancelled. I'll never forget those seemingly endless, muddy, mosquito-infested nights on the football field when our marching band would run through the show, trying to pefect it. I'll never forget summer school band, where I helped the enthusiastic middle school students rehearse for their concert. The music program has been a huge part of my life since middle school. I've met some incredible people through the program and it transformed me from the awkward, boring middle school student I was into a high school student with a social life. It's difficult to imagine that one of our directors, who basically raised us as musicians, will be leaving next year. I'm not afraid of change, but I am sentimental and she will be missed. What will my next two years in the program offer? They will, without doubt, be very different because of the budget cuts. However, the only direction in life is ahead and whatever happens next will happen next. The other two band directors will no longer be directly involved in the marching band. Because of the cut, they need to focus their energy on the curricular band program and the marching band simply will not fit into their busier schedule. We will have three entirely new marching band instructors this year, which is exciting in some ways but downright scary in others. I'm confident each of them will be qualified, but so much is still unkown about the situation that their is a lot of confusion. Only time will tell how the future of the program will turn out.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tales From Coloma

Tired, exhausted, and slightly irritable from traveling, I am back home from a weekend at my family's 50-acre plot of hunting land, otherwise known as Coloma. Forgive me if my writing is a bit crappy this time--I'm a bit sleepy and this blog is going to be a long one. Let's start from the beginning...

Saturday: I woke up at 7 am, which, for a Saturday, was a little early for my liking. After packing up the truck, my dad and I began the two-and-a-half-hour trek to the northwoods of Wisconsin, reasonably isolated from the hoopla of South Milwaukee. We ate at the Iron Skillet for breakfast on the way, which is what it is--good, greasy country food (my bowels would thank me later). As soon as we arrived at our base camp, or trailer, we unpacked and took the usual hike around the ATV trail. Things are so much more peaceful outside the city. It's away from the real world, and so real world problems are easily put away to be worried about later. Not that I hate the city, but it's a necessary and healthy thing to get away from it from time to time. Anyway, I later thought it would be a good idea to check on my ground blind, which was my single most important project to work on. Since the blind was a log structure, and logs settle, the logs of my ground blind, you guessed it, settled. I now had to crouch down quite a bit to fit inside. And since it would be nearly impossible to raise the roof, I did the only thing I could do, which was to dig down. To dig down a foot and a half. That was a process that took all of two days.

One of the things I failed to realize was that extensive digging results in shoulder pain and blisters, so I had that cross to bear. The rest of my day involved that type of manual labor, which is somehow strangely relaxing, mentally speaking.
Sunday: The morning started off with spontaneous excitement. As I stepped outside to take a morning leak, I was interrupted by the gobbling of turkeys. So I held my bladder and ran to my dad, ready to hunt. We donned our camouflage hunting gear and made our way to the pop-up ground blind next to the field. Now, hunting seems contradictary to my leftist ideals, but I find it (if done respectfully and responsibly) to be a natural way to connect with the outdoors. During the hunt, we spotted a coyotte (a rare sight) and a few hens, but shot nothing. Even spotting some wildlife, though, was more than worth it. Ready to work again, I spent the rest of the afternoon digging in my ground blind and lining sticks along the sand walls to prevent erosion. The work was tedious as hell, but it became finished and I can once again stand upright inside the blind. It's a bit spotty in this picture, but there it is--a beautiful log structure two years in the making.

Satisfied to have finished my project, I had a delicious steak for dinner with my dad and we unwinded with a bonfire on a crisp, starry night.
Monday: Probably the most uneventful day, I spent a lot of time reading and relaxing. After everything was packed, we headed out, deciding to stop by my parents' future retirement property on the way home. Taking a walk around the perimiter, we chatted with two different sets of neighbors for what seemed like hours. I hate small talk and I'm also terrible at it, so I found myself trying methodically to jingle my keys, except I had none so all I could do was dig in my pockets. Another thing about small talk is that the other person always keeps talking after you say, "Well, I should get going now". At times, the only way to escape small talk is to walk away slowly while saying goodbye, and that's what we eventually had to do. So we went back in the truck and took the scenic route home, which took us past some wetlands and a nice, green wind farm. And now I sit here, exhausted but revived, ready to put up with some hoopla.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another Self-Interview

Well, life has been chugging along quite nicely as of late and I have a few things to post about it. Since the whole self-interview thing worked well last time, I think I'll try it again. I enjoy talking to myself and I think it's a very important part of emotional wellness. So now, I'll just do it again on my blog.

Q: You aren't in tennis anymore, you lazy, out-of-shape degenerate! What are you doing to me?

A: Good God, calm down! Competative tennis didn't make me happy, I told you already! I'm having no regrets about my decision, which is good. I've been keeping somewhat active since I quit the team and I'm actually trying to jog every day after school.

Q: You quit tennis because you want to be with your vegetables, didn't you? If you say one more word about that damn garden, I'm going to...

A: I like my garden! It's been coming along compared to when I first mentioned it a few posts ago. I started a compost pile and I should have a nice, fertile mulch to work with in a few month's time. I've also started growing a few spices inside as well, which have begun to sprout. It's nice to be outside and work in the dirt, knowing my family will be spending a bit less on pesticice-ridden steroid vegetables from Pick 'N Save. Gardening is a perfectly manly activity in my opinion...

Q: Have you been writing a lot recently?

A: Besides this blog, not so much. I have been thinking of a few story ideas, though. One of them may be a keeper after a bit more planning, but we'll see.

Q: Are you studying for the AP exam as you should be?

A: Yes sir.

Q: And eating lots of fruit?

A: Yes.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Consumerism Kind of Sucks

Every now and then, an amazing, bizarre idea will pop into my mind. When I was thinking of WalMart, my favorite underregulated corporate giant, a funny idea came to mind. Wouldn't it just be great to pick up that red PA phone on the pole inside the store and announce something like: "Hello, and welcome to WalMart, where your overly materialistic needs will be taken care of. Buying some fish for dinner? Just make sure it gets tested for carbon monoxide poisoning! Or maybe buying that action figure your kid has been begging you for? It's a wonderful import from China that was put together by other kids his age!" I mean, really, do we really need all this stuff? If I were to keep track of all the plastic, paper, and materials that I go through every day, I'd feel a bit dizzy. It's a sad fact about our Western culture. We're too damn greedy and we want too much. And it's literally killing our environment. There was a time (well before I was born) that people actually had these magnificent things that were...hmm, what's the word...reusable. I want to go back! There's a show on tomorrow called The Human Footprint that shows exactly how much trash the average Western human produces in a lifetime. We've doomed ourselves to a society that wants everything to be cheap and convenient, no matter who else suffers from it. I'm guilty of it as much as anyone else. If we were all to give up something as simple as bottled water, think of how much plastic would be saved. I'm going to sound extremist here, but consumerism is a disease and we all need to realize there are things we don't need.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Doing What I Really Want

It's strange to think I'll actually have spare time after school for the next few months. I finished the awkward discussion with my tennis coach this afternoon, bittersweet but satisfied that I had made the decision to do what I really want. It would be irrational to quit tennis for the sole reason of being bad at it, because that is only one of the reasons. As much as I like to play tennis, competative tennis is not for me. Competatiave anything is not for me. I don't like how I get when I'm competative. Losing matches is fine with me, as long as I know I did my best and played a good game. But I was never gifted with athletic abilities and I seldom play a good game. Therefore, tennis season has been more stressful than relaxing as it should be. I could not let myself continue for another month doing something I don't enjoy, so I did what I had to and got it over with. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut again, "so it goes".

I still cannot let my lazy self get the better of me. I still need to do something. For once, I have the time to do environmental volunteer work, which I've wanted to do for awhile now. I'd be extremely happy to work at the Wehr Nature Center or the Urban Ecology Center, but I should keep other options open as well. I'm also growing enthusiastic about my organic vegetable garden (it sounds hilarious to say that, but those are words of truth). I'm doing some raking for compostable materials--mainly leaves, grass, and table scraps. By Memorial Day, things will be set up quite nicely.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Kurt Vonnegut and Speeches

A few days ago, as I sat in my English class, I wondered what exactly had caused me to choose to commemorate Kurt Vonnegut in my exam speech. Most of my classmates had chosen people they were very familiar with, people whose work they knew. I had picked Kurt Vonnegut at first without reason, just because I'd heard his books were interesting. I had never read any of them, but still I decided to commemorate him in my speech. What did I have in common with Kurt Vonnegut? I knew he fought in World War II, wrote a few books, but what else? As I would later find out, we have some striking similarities. It is strange how I basically pulled this person out of thin air to talk about, and he turns out to be the perfect choice. He is a writer and the themes he uses are themes which I have always wanted to portray in my own writing. He questions the system of "haves" and "have-nots" in our society. He jokes about cigarettes too. In the end, I did chose to tell my speech about him for a reason. I just didn't know it at first. Sometimes, as Vonnegut explained, things just happen and the "why" isn't revealed until much later. So it goes.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Back to the Daily Grind

It seems the endless chronicles of going to the beach, napping, thiking of story ideas, and participating in Earth Hour (shown above in the Chicago skyline) are over along with spring break. Tomorrow I continue my life as it normally progresses, going to school and usually spending a significant amount of time there after class for some type of activity. "Daily grind", I guess, is an inaccurate term to describe everyday life at school. I like how it is. Yes, it's stressful, and I enjoy it thoroughly. Having limitless amounts of spare time is thrilling for awhile, but soon enough there isn't anything to fill it with. By nature, I'm more of a dreamer than a doer. I think of fun and exciting things to do, but I have to work myself to actually do them. Like, if I want to go for a hike in Grant Park and I've just taken a really good nap, it's not so easy to leave my nap. Of course I know hiking would be more fulfilling, but that nap was just so amazing. Tennis season officially starts tomorrow so I'll be happy to spend more time outdoors. To be honest, I'm not good at tennis nor do I pretend to be--it's mainly to get outside with friends. If we had a hiking or fishing team (sports which require little physical aptitude), I suppose I would enjoy that a lot. So here come the next two months, two months of the hecticness which I've grown accustomed to this year. Let's hope I make it through intact.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Into the Wild

I seldom give lengthy movie reviews, seeing as I'm surrounded by enough movies at work. But this one's different, Into the Wild. Essensially, it's about a privilaged young man who, after graduating from Emory University, clips his social security card and driver's license and roams around to experience America. He does everything he's always wanted to do, like rafting down the Colorado River and going to Alaska. Gaining insight and wisdom from the people he meets along the way, he plans to eventually write a story about his travels. Now this, a movie some consider to be notably alternative, is my type of story. It's about getting out of the box and discovering people. It's about making each moment count, something I don't do enough of at times. It's about doing what you really want to do, not what seems ideal or provides false security. I don't want to be that balding old guy at the office pushing papers and wondering what the hell happened. I want to study in a foreign country, I want to join the peace corps, and I want to write about it all. I'm not just saying that because it seems fun or because it would make me successful. It's because, given the ups and downs and tribulations they offer, that's how I can learn. Learning doesn't come from getting a comfy, high-paying office job--it comes from seeing places and meeeting people. To hell with getting a degree that will earn me a lot of money. As long as I could make enough money to get by, I'd go for the exciting, enriching job any day.

On living for the moment, I decided to take the bike out yeserday instead of a nap, which I don't regret one bit. Today I was able to cycle up to the South Shore Yacht Club (near the Hoan Bridge) and back. Just being outside and feeling the cool wind brush against my face was well worth it. That's what the philosophy of Into the Wild is about--enjoying each moment. And I like the sound of that.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Break Projects

Today's blog comes in several parts--for each of my projects over spring break.

1. Move into my new room. Since my brother is going to be renting a house soon, I'm moving into his room because it's bigger than mine. My dad and I painted it yesterday (a nice "Yosemite Pine") and I'm going to slowly start moving in furniture, books, and decorations. So far, it's turning out nicely.

2. Build a composting area. I want to use some chicken wire to fence off an area to compost dead leaves and table scraps. This is actually part of a bigger project to create an organic vegetable garden, complete with composted dirt. Organic foods are healthier, better tasting, and environmentally friendlier than the stuff you get from Pick 'N Save. The composting project, however, has been delayed because of a spring snowstorm (that reminds me, it did, in fact, snow on the first day of spring).

3. Build a massive snow fort. The dumbest thing to do is to give something up because you're too old for it. If it's fun, go for it! Besides, this won't be an average snow fort--it'll be an architectual marvel. And because the snow is wet and heavy, I'll be able to manufacture some snow blocks for an igloo-style structure.

4. Lastly, spread awareness about Earth Hour. It's a worldwide event from 8 pm to 9 pm local time where we turn off our lights to make a statement about global climate change. The website for this is Sign up and pledge to turn off your lights on Saturday, March 29 for an hour. Simple. We need to spread awarness about global warming and live greener lifestyles. But besides turning off our lights for an hour, we can make other green choices, which can be found on the website I provided. So I have a week to hit up as many businesses and people as I can about this event. You, all five of my readers, can spread the word as well.

Over and out.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Saving Alaska

As far as current events, I wanted to include some environmental issues in this blog. One especially important issue to me is Alaska. Having been there, I can say it is truly the last frontier of our world--one of the only genuinely pristine areas we have left. And its natural wonders are constantly being threatened by oil exploration, logging, and unsustainable development. This is a result of the Bush administration giving in to lobbyists from big oil and its failure to keep environmental regulations. Just in February, President Bush signed the Tongass Land Management Plan, which opens up 3.4 millon acres to logging in the Tongass Forest. This could mean major habitat destruction in one of our most treasured regions. The article about this can be found here: A new plan was also passed to allow more offshore oil drilling in Alaska, which threatens the polar bear population to extinction and could cause devistating oil spills. And we all know what happens when a big oil spill happens: the fish population is nearly destroyed, local fishermen are out of work, and the oil companies will lobby the judicial system for decades in an effort to not have to pay compensation to the fishermen. This is exactly what happened with Exxon Mobil in the Prince William Sound. If anyone has a good idea about how to help solve this issue (who to write to, donate to, etc.), please leave a comment. The good news is that if Obama or Clinton win the presidency, the environment will be regulated as it should be. We can only hope...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Production Weekend

The production weekend for Oliver has been a huge success! All our work is finally paying off and our theater is making some strong money in the process. We opened Friday with a very nice show, but I feel last night's performance was our best so far. Between Friday and Saturday, our seats were nearly sold out. I also heard we've been selling a good amount of concessions and T-shirts to raise funds for our Performing Arts Center. Our final show is this afternoon and we've already pre-sold have the seats. We should be able to afford a great fall play next year. In spite of all the stress and craziness lately, this production has been a blast to work on. All of the auditions, rehearsals, and shows have totally been worth it to me. It's going to be really wierd to have so much spare time in the next few weeks until tennis season begins. I'll have to find something else to work on.

Moving on, yesterday was District Solo and Ensemble Festival at Cudahy High School. I performed in three groups--Brass Ensemble, Low Brass Ensemble, and Trombone Choir. I'm excited to say that Low Brass and Trombone Choir are making it to state! That will be at University of Wisconsin-Parkside in a few months. That means more morning rehearsals! Yay!

Mrs. Bedwin (Nanci) and Mr. Brownlowe (me)--the ultimate duo.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Me in the Future

Today, I honestly didn't know what to blog about. I wanted to post a blog, but everything is pretty status quo right now--going on with the play, obsessing about the environment, writing, yatah yatah yatah. So I decided to bring out the old crystal ball and predict my future. Not really, but Adrianne from school and I came to an agreement about what my life would be like when I'm in my thirties. Future Adam, if this description is accurate, then your high school friends were very smart. I will be wealthy (in a sensible way) and live in a comfortable, eco-friendly house with a huge garden in the back. The house will also have a library stocked full of books. My career will be some type of scientific field and one of its highlights will be a graden in my basement that grows from a strange, new type of energy. And Dillon will be my aide in this project as well. I'll have one daughter, whom I'm very overprotective of and read to every day. It was agreed by most of my friends and myself that this sounds pretty accurate, so we'll see. Thanks to everyone who helped to build this...interesting story. And, Alex, you should post my description of your future life on your blog--you know it sounds accurate.

Monday, March 10, 2008

"In Your Pants" and Short Stories

Inspired by one of Adrianne's comments, I decided to take a look at my own library. So here's another list of books we can use for the "in your pants" suffix: The Long Walk in your Pants, Misery in your Pants, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark in your Pants, How do they do that? in your Pants, Holes in your Pants, and let us not forget a story of my own, Under the Hazelnut Tree in your Pants. "In your pants" can also be applied to other things, really. I discovered Saturday at work that one can add it to the end of a movie title! Work is going to be much more entertaining now...

In other news, I'm happy to say I've finished a short story, which I'm titling, Meanderings with Time in your Pants. This is the first story which was inspired by one of my dreams. The dream I had a few months ago gave me a vivid picture of a wonderful setting and I built the plot around that. That's all I'm saying for now. Currently, I'm in the editing stages, though I'll soon be letting a select few people read it. Ideally, I would really like to get this one published and I think it has potential to get to that level. Until then, I'll be spending the next few months editing and looking into literary magazines. Cheerio.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Brotherhood 2.0

If you're wondering what this is, it's a project called Brotherhood 2.0. So here's some background information on it. It's about these two brothers who only communicate via video blog. They posted a video blog every day (except weekends) for a year until 2008. Now they just send two videos a week and can communicate by any means they want. Their video blogs are extremely hilarious and once you get to know them and their inside jokes, it's a really fun project to watch. This is actually one of their older videos, but it's one of my favorites (the "in your pants" joke is introduced earlier and is a term put at the end of any book title). I recommend starting from their very first blog so you can get to understand what the project is all about. I don't want to explain any more of it--see for yourself. These guys are very smart and do some pretty awesome stuff.

Go nerdfighters! (That's one of the inside jokes you'll get to know.)

Thursday, March 6, 2008


So it's almost that time--the spring musical, Oliver. My 15 hours a week at the theater are going to hopefully pay off soon. Next week Friday is our official opening night and tickets are still on sale! This is going to be a nice show with some great songs and ticket prices are very reasonable. Wow, it looks like I'm trying to promote the show for all five or so people who keep up with this blog. I should stop...

No, I don't have a life during this production and it's pretty fun that way. I've had trouble sitting down to update this blog regularly. When the musical is over in two weeks, I'll actually have spare time again. What to do? Maybe I'll take up jogging again or train for tennis season.

Monday, March 3, 2008


This is the amazing Milwaukee Art Museum with a big skyscraper behind it. Amanda and I hung out downtown for awhile today. When I was thinking of things to do, I began to realize how boring the suburbs are. Really, there's nothing to rave about. Parking lots, identical houses, and WalMarts start to get old after awhile. Howell Avenue is like our "strip", with basically all of the fun stuff suburbia has to offer: Starbuck's, the airport, and Panera Bread. When you can't go to the park because of the cold weather, fun levels really start to decrease! To me, there are only two great places to live: downtown or in the countryside. Anything in between sucks.

So about our day downtown...We went to the art museum to see all that it has to offer. There was one exhibit which consisted of a dark room lit only by blue lights dangling from the ceiling. It was definitely one of the highlights, especially because it was so disorienting. We even went for a nice walk around the city with some expensive coffee. Ah, I love downtown. Except for the ten dollar parking.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

On Writing

So I've been rummaging through my desk drawers and, know how when you're looking through things and you find some really wierd, old stuff? I happened to find some of my old writing from when I was eight. Finding old stuff can be really sentimental, but I found this to be particularily funny. It's a story called, "The Lost City of Atlantis". Let's just take a look at an excerpt from it:

"It was a bright and sunny day...well, not so sunny when you're in a submarine with no glass roof!
You see, there lived two people who were both braniacs. One was named Mark, and the other named Mr. Braniac. They were on a cruise ship and Mr. Braniac wanted to have some fun, so he took Mark and went to first class even though he was told not to. The security guard caught them. They ran and ran until they found a submarine. They went into the submarine, turned it on, and dove into the water. Just then, they heard a CRASH! The ship slowly sank. Mr. Braniac and Mark didn't know how the ship sank, but I the narrator, knew. A boat drove in the way and the ship hit the boat. The boat was made out of metal just like the ship."

I especially like the "submarine with no glass roof" part. Can a submarine have a glass roof? It's funny looking back and seeing how my writing has changed. I'm really glad to remember where I started and how differently I'm writing now. My current novel is still "on the back burner" but I'm happy to say I'm almost finished with a short story. The premis is really starting to turn out the way I'd hoped. If I could only find some good publishers to send it too, that would be wonderful. I'm hoping that in eight more years, I can look back at this one and reminisce too.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Protest Rally

I feel like this budget cut thing is becoming the highlight of this blog. I do have a lot of other things I'd like to catch up on, but it's still one of the most exciting and pressing issues going on for me at this point. Like I said about a week ago, the school board had planned to go through with the cuts in our music department as well as special education, parenting, art, and a few other areas. And the administration has received no cuts whatsoever. So a friend from school was brave enough to organize a protest rally yesterday. After classes were over, close to 50 students and I made our way to the front of the school building and marched along the sidewalk, signs and all. One of the biggest successes was that three news channels showed up and interviewed some of us. The link to TMJ4's report can be found here:

The final vote by the school board took place that evening and some of us showed up to saw a few words and support our cause. Unfortunately, the school board still voted to continue with the cuts. All the while, our administrators are receiving huge raises. So that's crappy. But what made me happy was that we do have a voice and we can get together for a common cause. Maybe it didn't provide instant gratification this year, but it made people aware of the issue and may help us for next year.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


So instead of doing an ordinary blog today, I'm going to try a self-interview style. Well, here goes.

Q: How is your mental health as of late? Has your shecule driven you up the wall yet?
A: Yes, it has! I've hardly even had time to eat this week. Oliver rehersals are going until six now and I'm working 16 hours on weekends. I've been snapping at people on random occasions to channel some of my aggression. But a busy life is always a fulfilling one.

Q: How is your book going? You know, the one you keep talking about...
A: Bad! I'm doing what many writers call "putting it on the back burner", which is to really say, "forgetting about it completely". I've read it over and it has a lot of direct characterization in it, which I don't want to have too much of. But I'll probably be writing a short story once I find the time.

Q: What about your job at Hollywood Video?
A:'s a job. I work.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up for this week?
A: An anthropologist! Other cultures are fascinating and I want to learn more about them. The pay is a bit on the low end, but the real reward is in travelling and learning. I would have to get a PhD, so that would definitely be interesting.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Budget Cuts and Barack Obama

Continuing on from my post about the school board meeting, the results have turned out against us. Our school board has decided they value the administrators more than the teachers and one of our band directors will be cut. What will this mean? Realistically, our band will not be as good as it is now. People can put all the heart into the music as they want, but we will not be as good without 1/3 of our directors. Marching band will also suffer without a third director and may not even exist anymore. The community tried to convince the school board to make the right decision but democracy (or lack thereof) has failed in this instance. I'll be blunt. Our supernintendant is a greedy snob who values his salary more than our education. And when he and his supporters are the ones who calls the shots, that isn't a democracy and it pisses me off to no end. Well, I guess if I won't have marching band over the summer, I'll have to find something else to devote my time to.

On a happier note, Barack Obama is doing well! I am an Obama supporter and I really notice our nation needs change. I could go into another liberal rant, but I've already had one for this post. I wish I could vote, but I'm sure there will be other ways for me to support his campaign. Obama seems to have gained a lot of momentum after his Wisconsin win on Tuesday and Hilary is now the underdog. I think Hilary Clinton is very smart and efficient, but Obama is extremely motivational, which is a trait that shows more potential than any other candidate. We'll see what happens, I guess. Save the arts!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Winter Formal

So last night was our Winter Formal Dance! Overall it was pretty fun but I wish a few more of my friends would have come (you know who you are). I was able to ask off from work for the night and stopped by at Nanci's for pictures. Amanda, Nanci, and I went as a mini-group. The only crappy thing about the dance was the music--not enough slow dances. It was basically a giant hip-hop-fest but it was still fun. After we dropped Nanci off at home, Amanda and I went to DiCarlo for dinner. It's an awesome Italian restaurant and they just made a new addition to it, so it looked really new and classy. I had lobster stuffed raviolli and Amanda had an artichoke/eggplant dish, which she let me try. The highlight of our evening was when Amanda said we should go to the airport. "Why?" I asked. Apparently she just felt an impulse to go there. For anyone who hasen't been to Mitchell Airport at 12:30 AM, it is a creepy place. The only people there are custodians and a few odd people whose flights got cancelled. The overall vibe was really quiet and dead. But...we were still destined to go there for some reason. On our way out, after we left the parking garage, the parking garage attendant said, "Have a peaceful night" when we left. Have a peaceful night? I've heard "Good night" and such, but "Have a peaceful night"? What is a non-peaceful night? That's like saying, "Hope you don't hit a roadside bomb on your way home" or "Don't get attacked". We found that was pretty hilarious because we just like to laugh at small details like that. So there's my recap of Winter Formal '08--good night.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

School Board Meeting

So last night was our school board meeting to discuss this year's budget cuts. They involve quite a few teachers, including one of our band directors. The cuts this year are getting really bad and our education could really go to the dogs if all of them happen. Some teachers, students, and I went up to say a few things about the cuts. One of the interesting things we made a point to mention was the fact that none of our administration is getting cut and our supernintendant makes $132,000 a year plus $42,000 in fringe benefits. Let's just say our supernintendant really turned red when we actually made a point to mention it. I'm a bit less nervous now because I heard the board members were discussing our comments about the administration. It would really suck if we lost another band director and a lot of our extracurricular band activities would be way harder to support. I guess we'll just play it by ear and see if they keep her.

Sorry to get all political on this post, but damn, if so many wealthy people weren't getting tax cuts then maybe our school would have a decent amount of money to work with. So that's my rant for tonight.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Not Writer's Block, But Sort Of

Today was not a very fun Monday and I'm becoming really lazy with my book! I haven't sat down and written at least a page in almost a week. It's not so much writer's block as just plain business. And today, I won't lie, I'm just too crabby to write anything decent. It's one of those typical Mondays. The good thing is that I know what I plan on writing for the next few chapters, so when I get back into the rhythm of things, I should be able to pick up right where I left off.

I think I'll tell a little bit about the plot at this point--but not too much because I don't want my ideas running loose on the Internet. Essentially, it's about the collapse of society as we know it and the few survivors who endure anarchy, chaos, and violence (most people reading the blog know the reason behind this). I've tried several times to write a full-length novel and failed, but I think this may be "the one". I just need to keep the willpower to write on and keep the plot moving as it should. I should be able to get back to writing later this week, after the school board meeting on Wednesday is over with. I'll tell more about the meeting on Wednesday, but basically the administration wants to cut more teachers! Bad!

PS: I'm actually listening to REM right now instead of Colplay for once.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Starbucks, Airporting, and Hollywood Video

Hoorah for the weekend, although this time it's more so a week continuation than a weekend. Before I had to go to work today, though, I had a few hours to spend going around town with Amanda. Starbucks was delicious and after that, we went to the airport to hang out. Yes, the airport--it's the BEST place to hang out if you make it fun. Amanda and I do this thing called "being airport king and queen" and we basically stand on top of the parking garage at the airport and wave down at the road. Usually we hardly get anyone to wave back but today was different! A really nice guy waved back and shouted a "hello" at us! Winter sucks, but you really can have fun if you know where to find it...

I've been working a lot at Hollywood Video lately--usually about 15 hours a week. But because of play rehersals during the week, all my hours are crammed into the weekend, but it's still money. I'm very glad to have found such a flexible place to work at that doesn't involve cleaning up dirty food (in referance to my old job at the Final Approach). I do miss the tips I got at my old job, but I still would have taken that cut in pay in a heartbeat if it meant I didn't have to come home covered in grease at night.

We waved at the plane, but I don't think anyone in it saw us.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My First Post

So this is it, the first post in my blog which I intend to keep for the rest of my natural life. This morning, I woke up to find out school was cancelled because it was supposed to snow up to 20 inches. Not used to having so much free time, I quickly became bored and thought, "Hey, what if I start a blog?" it is...a blog. In case you haven't read my profile, I'm Adam Lang, an outgoing, talkative high school student. The reason I wanted to start this blog, actually, was mostly sentimental. I want myself, my family, and my friends to be able to look back and remember my own experiences--the exciting, the boring, and the downright crazy. My goal is to post several times per month, but we'll see how that works after my schedule gets even more hectic.

Why is my schedule so hectic? Well, rehersals for the school Musical, Oliver, have recently started and we meet every day after school to sing, choreograph, and block the show. On top of that, homework, my job at Hollywood Video, and my friends keep me pretty busy. I'm also in the process of writing my first novel, which is untitled at the moment. As much as I'd love to say what it's all about, I want to keep its content on the down-low because I'm only about 30 pages into the story. But I will say that it has bits of adventure, action, mystery, philosophy, and a love sub-plot in it. I'm trying to provide some background information about myself so people who don't know me so well will have an easier time understanding future posts. Hopefully, my next few posts will have some interesting stories/experiences in them, seeing as interesting things always happen when I am busy. That being said, I look forward to my next post and a bunch more to come.