The 32 Second Killing Spree

Mitch Teemley

Three mass shootings in a week. El Paso, Texas, Gilroy, California, and now Dayton, Ohio, where many of my friends live (none were present at the shooting). Actually, America averages more than one mass shooting a day; these three simply made it to the front page due to their larger-than-usual death tallies.

The young man who killed 9 and injured 27 in Dayton last weekend was suspended from high school for posting lists of people he wanted to kill and girls he wanted to rape. Later, the school was put on lockdown when he announced his plans for a mass shooting. He regularly sang in “pornogrind” bands performing songs that celebrate rape and torture.

Should he have been allowed to purchase 100-round magazines and a semi-automatic weapon advertised by its manufacturer as “the sound freedom makes” while producing “an orchestra of metal and hellfire”? Should he have been allowed to…

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The Second Democratic Debates

It is important for everyone to be engaged in politics. I understand that politics can be boring or dismal, but every vote is paramount when it comes to shaping the future. Next year I will be able to vote, so I’ve been trying to stay up-to-date with the upcoming election. In doing so, I’ve been watching the debates and boy do I have a lot to say.

Starting off, I believe CNN did a poor job of moderating the debate. 30 seconds is not enough time to elaborate on policies, however, none of the candidates even got to talk about their policies because CNN was too busy trying to make them fight one another. The first half-hour of the second night was essentially Kamala Harris and Joe Biden bickering. The moderators would spend more time asking candidates who are polling at 1% what they thought of Joe Biden’s policies, rather than asking them to elaborate on their own policies! Stirring drama for views is exactly why the Democratic party is so fractured.

In terms of candidates who stood out to me were Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, and Andrew Yang. Although it is unlikely Tulsi and Yang will be the Democratic nominee, I do hope they use this election to build name-recognition and then run again in four years. Yang answered every question directly and succinctly explained his universal income plan. Tulsi called out Harris’ abysmal prosecutor record (which you should definitely look up, yikes!). Sanders has a shot of becoming the nominee, which I hope he does because he has strong policies and continues to call out the DNC. Marianne Williamson also stood out. Nicknamed “orb mom”, she is the meme candidate who occasionally makes some interesting points.

The moment that Tulsi Gabbard (right) starts listing all of Kamala Harris’ (left) offenses as a prosecutor. Image Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/key-takeaways-democratic-debate-major-battle-lines-night/story?id=64630596

The candidates that continue to flounder for me are Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Harris is an eloquent and dramatic speaker, but I cannot look past her prosecutor record and her hypocrisy. Biden does not have any strong policies and relied on Obama as his sole endorsement. The last two debates were embarrassing for him and provided that he is running low on stamina.

Although some people may find the debates boring, they are an essential part of our democracy. The next debate will be in September, so I urge you all to research the candidates and support whomever you like.

A Week of Birthdays

I turned 17 on July 23rd, yet I celebrated my birthday for the entire week! I celebrated a few days earlier with my family, because my brother was moving out and was going to miss my actual birthday. It was a small celebration with some food and a store-bought cake, but I liked it because I was with my family and they were genuinely happy to see me grow older.

My actual birthday was like any other day. I was actually called in to work, so I could not go out with my family. However, I was surprised with gifts and music when I returned home in the evening. I didn’t mind the small celebration, because my actual party would be over the weekend.

My friends and I eating Ćevapi, a traditional Balkan dish

My actual party was a huge success. I suppose for most teenagers it wouldn’t be considered a party- more of a small gathering-but I didn’t mind. I preferred to spend my time with the few people I really cared about.

My family made Ćevapi  (a Serbian dish) and a biscuit cake for my friends. We spent the rest of our time listening to music, talking, playing games, and goofing around. My favorite part was when we made smores and spent two hours talking under the night sky.

My friends and I enjoying smores (I’m certain you all recognize Amy by now)

My birthday had now passed and the festivities are over. I now have to focus on the difficult part of being 17-thinking of school, my future, and how 17-year-old-Vanessa will differ from 16-year-old-Vanessa. The future is looming and I have to answer some difficult questions soon but, for now, I’ll enjoy being the dancing queen.

The Sun and Moon Kingdom (Snippet)

It was a cold night as I looked for him outside my window. I knew he wasn’t going to be anywhere, he probably didn’t even know I existed. I heaved a sigh and looked at the moon. The moon seemed as cold as the night, yet it was still brighter than the darkness surrounding it. He was like the moon- distant yet illuminating. My mood grew tenebrous at the thought of my love for him, but he did make every day more enjoyable. I suppose life was more fun when you are in love, even if it is unrequited.

            “Maya, go to sleep!” I heard my mother yell in Japanese. She was right, I shouldn’t stay up so late on a school night. I always listened to her, because I was a good daughter.

            After brushing my teeth and putting on my pajamas, I went to my mother’s bedroom to kiss her goodnight. As I made my way to bed, I looked at the moon once again and wished it goodnight as well.

            “If he is the moon, then you are the sun,” My friend Kyoko told me. I gave her a look of confusion to indicate that I need an explanation. “He is moody, you are cheery, he wears gray and black, you wear bright colors, he’s mysterious, you’re an open-book,” She smirked, “You could stare at him for hours, people can’t look at you for more than a few seconds.”

            I elbowed her, even though I found her joke- I hope it was a joke- funny. There was definitely some truth in her rationale. He and I were as different as night and day in many ways, but there was one crucial difference that Kyoko glossed over:

            He was Korean and I was Japanese.

            I did not really care that he was Korean, but I feared that my mother would. She never explicitly degraded Korea or Koreans, however there were things that she did to display her discomfort. She did not go into Korean-owned stores, she squirmed when she heard Korean names, and she never spoke about WWII. My uncle was much more open about his “thoughts” and did not hold back to using harsh stereotypes to describe Koreans. My mother would tell him to stop, but she never denied what he said. It was small details like that which made me keep this crush a secret. After all, it was merely a crush. It would fade away like stars in the morning sky.

            “He looks at you, you know,” Kyoko whispered to me on our way to Geometry, the only class I had with him.

            “I think he looks at everyone,” I replied, although my mind was elsewhere. I had taken Kyoko’s small comment and ran a million miles. Perhaps he did like me? Perhaps we could put our differences aside? Perhaps my mother would not care that he was Korean, WWII ended 40 years ago after all. I knew it was unlikely, but I allowed myself to daydream. I was always forced to stay grounded, so there couldn’t be any harm in letting my mind wander.

            Mathematics did not come easily to me, but I did well in Geometry. I had to try harder, but I always did well on my tests and got high marks. My mother would hang my report card on the refrigerator. Although most teenagers would find that embarrassing, it filled me with pride. A part of me wanted to get good grades just so I could make my mother happy. It was the least I could do.

            I looked over at him as I worked on a worksheet that the teacher passed out. He had already finished and waited for the teacher to give him more to do. I could tell that mathematics came easily to him.  A part of me wanted to fail a test just so he could tutor me, but I was not going to compromise my education for a boy.

            He was a special boy though. He was very smart and beautiful. Kyoko teased me for calling him beautiful, but he was. He had hair that looked so soft , skin that was so clear, and he was tall. If he were white then he would be the most popular boy in school. Sometimes I would stand in front of the mirror and wonder if I was beautiful enough for him. I knew it was a ridiculous thought, and he probably did not care about beauty, but I couldn’t stop it from crossing my mind. These thoughts continued to fill my head as I looked at him and then it happened:

            He looked at me!

            I turned red and looked back at my worksheet.

            I tried to focus on the problems but my mind was racing. Perhaps I could make it seem like I was looking at the clock? But the clock was on my side. Maybe he didn’t even notice. The bell rang, so I put my homework into my binder. As I looked up, he was standing in front of me!

            “Did you need something?” He asked impassively.

            I was so flustered that all I could say was “what?”

            He broke out into a smile and I felt my face turning redder because I thought he was laughing at me and, also, he never looked cuter.

            “I’m sorry, I guess I caught you daydreaming and I used that as an excuse to talk to you,” He said, still smiling, “My name is Jin-ho, but people call me Jin or Jim.”

            I nodded, even though I already knew his name. “My name is Maya, nice to meet you,” I said and shook his hand.

            He laughed some more. “So formal, it’s cute.”

            I looked down so he won’t see my red face.

            “I need to go now, Maya, but I hope to see you again.” His voice was happier than I expected. I looked up at him, hoping my face was less red, and gave him my best attempt at a charming smile. He smiled back and went away.

            I stood by my desk and tried to contemplate what just happened. He approached me, after catching me staring at him, and started a conversation. He was funny and polite, while I was demure. Perhaps Kyoko was wrong? Perhaps I was the moon and he was the sun. Either way, there was a time where the moon and the sun would meet- it’s called an eclipse. You needed special sunglasses to stare at the eclipse, but it was beautiful. What just happened between Jin-ho and I was an eclipse, a meeting between the sun and the moon.

            I could not wait for tomorrow.

Mid-July Announcement!

It is time for another update! Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I had to study for my ACT, which I took yesterday. Although I’m anti-standardized testing, it could not be avoided. I could list all the things wrong with the American education system, but that’s a post for another day.

I will concede, however, that it did feel pretty amazing finishing the test. There really is nothing quite like the feeling of finishing something. Speaking of which, I have an exciting announcement:

I am about 75% done with my first novel!

That’s a rough estimate, but the majority of the writing is finished. Afterwards, most likely in August, I will go back and edit. I have mentioned my novel before, but never in great detail. In the future, I will make a long post elaborating on the plot and the writing process!

This blog has truly helped me with my novel. Keeping up with a blog takes patience and commitment, same as writing a novel. I am very appreciative of all those who have supported me along the way!

The rest of July will be busy for me. I will be going on vacation, moving out my brother, celebrating my 17th birthday, and, of course, writing! I will make sure to keep everyone updated as my first novel nears completion. Thank you!

The Perfect Day

Lisa sipped on her lemonade as she tanned on her lawn chair, it was the perfect day. It was usually overcast, so she enjoyed any amount of sun that was given to her. Her loud music roared near the pool. She was thinking of what she wanted for her birthday before she was interrupted her phone. It was a boy who wanted her attention, she ignored him. She didn’t want anyone ruining her perfect day.

            She checked her tan after an hour. She frowned, still pasty. Perhaps she could do something else that would catch everyone’s attention? Dye her hair blonde? Lose a few pounds? Lisa tried to not think about her belly. A tan would suffice.

            Another text message broke her train-of-thought. She groaned and checked, it was the same boy- her brother. He wanted to know what she wanted for her birthday. She ignored him and focused on the pool instead. The kiddie pool that her dog just urinated in. Lisa frowned, that was another thing she had to clean up. Out of curiosity, she held up her lemonade and compared the color to the dog pee. They looked so similar, yet one was delicious and the other disgusting.

            A new song started to play, one about hating pretty blonde girls with perfect bodies and white teeth. She looked at the lemonade in her hand and laughed. Lisa could never be like them. They didn’t have to try to be blonde or have pretty teeth, so why did she bother?

            The clouds were starting to come out again and Lisa’s mom called her in. As she came in, her mother offered her ice cream. Lisa smiled and thanked her. It wasn’t a perfect day, but it was pretty good.  

My Day at MoPOP

I had a wonderful day in the beautiful city of Seattle. It was sunny, I was with my friends, and my makeup was actually okay! I went with my friends to Piroshky Piroshky and then the Museum of Popular Culture.

I bet everyone is used to seeing Amy by now

I hadn’t had breakfast so I had to satiate my hunger with piroshky! Growing up in a Slavic household meant that I was familiar with this pastry. It was amazing but, honestly, how can you go wrong with piroshky? My friends had never tried it so I’m glad they loved it as well!

Afterwards, we went to the Museum of Popular Culture (MoPOP). The tickets were quite expensive ($20!) but we quickly realized why- the museum was impressive. It had so many different exhibitions; ranging from genre-based (Horror, Fantasy, Sci-fi) to music-based (Nirvana, Pearl Jam) to avante-garde (Fashion).

We went to every exhibition and took a lot of pictures in order to get our money’s worth. Despite the price, I would recommend MoPOP. It was professional, interesting, and informative. I actually learned a lot of new facts about different genres and musical artists.

I love sharing these happy days with my audience. My short stories and poetry could be considered depressing and may give you the wrong impression of my personality. Despite my sometimes-cynical thoughts, days like these make me realize why life is worth living!