Sunday, September 27, 2009

When You Think Tim McGraw...

"We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere", said the legendary Tim McGraw. A quote I would honestly be a little skeptical about at first. I’ve moved around quite a bit and had my share of great friends, but I’ve lost touch with almost every one of them. How are you to keep someone in your heart and thoughts when you haven’t seen them in eons? Before this summer, I wouldn’t have had an answer for that question. But after participating in the Secondary Student Training Program at the University of Iowa, I finally have the answer.

First off, a little background information on the SSTP program. It’s a six weeklong science internship program. We live on the University of Iowa campus for six weeks and immerse ourselves into college life. We attend lab on the weekdays, and have evening activities every night. Then on the weekends, we go on “field trips”. Of course, I had a lot of anxiety about this camp initially. I was terrified of living with complete strangers for six weeks, and also terrified of spending six weeks in a college lab with intelligent professors and students. But after merely the first day, I fell in love with the people. There was a tornado going on in Iowa City on our first day, and so we all piled into the basement and spent the next two hours laughing and bonding over everything and anything. It sounds sappy to say it was love at first sight, but to tell you the truth, it really was. I never thought I could meet a group of such intelligent and out going people. I thought the camp would be full of nerdy perfect ACT scorers, and it was. But there is so much more to these people. They’re captain of the swim team, on speech team, in choir. They have lives outside of school and some of the quirkiest personalities I have ever known.

Family. Most people associate this word with brothers and sisters, parents, and aunts. But I have found a new and refreshing definition of this word, camp friends. In those short six weeks I found a soul mate in each and every one of them. I have been blessed with one family, but this summer I have been blessed with another. No, not your ordinary family of four or five. But a family of 20 people. With their quirks and annoyances. With their different personalities and opinions. I have grown to love these people and really care for them. It's amusing how in six weeks you can become so emotionally attached to each and every person. There were no cliques in this group. Everyone shared a special bond with one another and even when we had our tiffs and disagreements we would always work around them. It is so difficult to describe my love for them with mere words. And even today (two months after the camp) each and every one of them holds a very special place in my heart. Which brings me back to that quote. Even though they all live in different states and they are thousands of miles away, they are always with me. The things they’ve taught me and the friendships I’ve made with them are eternal and will remain in my heart.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What Do You Want To Do With Your Life?

I have been asked this question nearly a million times and it’s really frustrating me. Everybody has to have some sort of answer to this question at one point or the other. And the fabulous answer that I have compiled after incessantly thinking about this: I have absolutely NO idea. Why should I? I'm merely a junior in high school, yet I still receive college letters everyday, as a constant reminder of the stress and anxiety that lay in the very near future. ACTS, SATS, and PSATS chew people up and spit them out. I refuse to be one of those people. Yes, we all know them. That one student who doesn’t seem to have a life outside of school and academics. That one student who also seems to always receive the best grades. That one student you’re jealous of when they are the only person in the class with an A. But if you really reflect on this, why should you be jealous? This student is surely dealing with loads of pressure and stress, definitely not the way I would want to live my life. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from a slacker. Doing well and getting good grades is extremely rewarding but occasionally, I feel like I do this for my parents and not for me. The reality that I'm leaving for college in 1.5 years still hasn't hit me yet, and when it does, I’m worried I will be one of those people with twenty majors. And this infamous question of "what do you want to do with your life" still haunts me everyday. I want to sing, I want to dance, I want to help people, and I want to be on Broadway. I want to be an architect, an astronaut and a psychiatrist. But most importantly, I want to be happy waking up every morning and going to work. Knowing that I’m doing something I love and that’s all that really matters in the end. Money is not an issue. I just want to be happy with myself and what I do. And if that means I’ll end up homeless. So be it. So all I’m trying to say in this long venting post is that I’m sick of all the pressure from my parents and from everyone to do well. I know I can do whatever I set my mind to, and when they keep forcing me to study and stuff it feels like they don't believe in me. They're also trying to force me into this medical career path, and I’m not saying there’s no chance I will do this, but I’m not sure yet. I can't see myself going to school that long. But like I said, I don't really care what career I end up in (yes, even if this displeases my parents) as long as I’m the happy and good person that I strive to be.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


It’s outrageous how people can be so ignorant, so imprudent, and blinded by something that is supposed to be a guide. You all know what I’m speaking of, that infamous word that has caused epic wars through out history, and that people still argue about today. Yep, I’m talking about religion. This thought process all started with my usual after school routine consisting of a snack and the fabulous Tyra Banks Show. To my surprise, Tyra begins the show speaking about exorcism. The only knowledge I posses of exorcism is the ridiculous stuff you see in movies. So obviously I was skeptical. The legitimate definition of an exorcism is a Christian ceremony created to eradicate “evil” spirits from someone.

On the Tyra Banks show was a charismatic young man about sixteen, named Jeffery. When asked a simple question, “are you attracted to woman”, he hesitantly said, “um yeah.” Now most men I know would answer confidently and loudly, but Jeffery looked timid and terrified, which indicates that he is indeed a homosexual. However, if you accused Jeffery of liking men, he would completely deny it. He claims that God has saved him. Two pastors at his local church performed an exorcism on him, and Jeffery declares that the “unclean homosexual spirits” had been removed. There are two things that deeply disturb me about this incident. First off, how can someone stop being gay? I have absolutely no issues with homosexual men. In fact, one of my best friends is gay, which brings me back to my point, how can you change the way you feel? Most people think that gay men choose to be gay. But this is not the case. They cannot resist the attraction they feel for men. They may try to hide it, but eventually the truth comes out. So this exorcism, in my opinion was completely unnecessary. In no way, am I intending to offend Christianity, but I do not believe you can blame homosexuality on an evil spirit. God obviously had a reason for creating homosexual men, and I don’t think that Satan has anything to do with this.
The next thing that profusely irritated me was the utter ignorance displayed by the pastors who performed the exorcism. They bluntly said, that all homosexuals will go to Hell. They have sinned by maintaining a relationship with another man. This whole argument all comes back to one thing, God and religion. If these pastors really believe that a gay man who has committed no serious offense will go to Hell along with a murderer, their morals are seriously appalling. If you tell a gay man that he will go to hell just because of his sexual preference, what is stopping him from stealing, cheating, and killing? What will stop him from killing himself? These pastors falsely state that they are open and welcoming to all people, when it is clear they are not. How can you tell someone they are going to hell, and still be a mentor or friend of theirs? I understand that homosexuality is a sin in Christianity. But isn’t compassion and love something Christians strive for. You should not cease to love someone just because of his or her sexuality. What truly makes a person are the things they chose to do with their life and the way they treat other people. This defines a person and if religion begins to interfere with simple humane principles, what has become of this world?

Friday, September 18, 2009


If you asked me to give you my top three TV shows, I would hastily say Scrubs, So You Think You Can Dance, and last but definitely not least Gossip Girl. Most people will confess their love for Gossip Girl and its scandalous happenings. But no, not me. I will admit that I have an obsession. It’s gotten far beyond the point of just being a fan of the show. I’ve seen every single episode (more than once), and will probably quote something out of Gossip Girl once a day. People frequently asked me what it is I like so much about the show. And with the new season starting, I figured I would discuss my addiction to Gossip Girl.

Who doesn’t love a TV show where they can escape from the pressures and difficulties of every day life? Gossip Girl does exactly that. It’s a show about extremely wealthy Upper East Side students who attend Constance Billard (a private school). Obviously, most people don’t live a life like this, so it’s fascinating to be able to get an inside look at the lives of billionaires. At first glance, it seems like these characters live perfect lives. They have unlimited spending money, and get whatever their heart desires. But a wise man once said “money doesn’t buy everything.” And it’s clear on this show, because the problems they deal with, from relationships to family, have destroyed their lives. Overall, it’s a really fascinating show that allows you to escape into the world of filthy rich Manhattan teenagers. It’s always full of scandal and excitement, and you never know what these characters will be doing next.

The first episode aired on Monday, September 14th, and to say it was good would be an understatement. The characters move from high school to college this season, and a lot of viewers were afraid that the show would lose its appeal because of this. But let me tell you, it definitely has not. If anything it has gotten better. It gives us a more mature version of the characters, who are thrilled about going to college. But it still provides the scandal and gossip that we all love and look forward to from the infamous “Gossip Girl”.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

School: The Golden Rule

Navigating the familiar crowded hallways this ordinary Thursday, I’ve realized something that truly shocked me. What is it you might ask? Well, we’ve been in this place called school for exactly ten years. From the care free childish days of kindergarten to the scary hallways of middle school, to the even more frightening foyer of Kennedy High School. It’s unbelievable to me, that I’ve probably spent most of my life at school. In fact, on an ordinary weekday I probably spend more time at school than I do at home. With show choir practices, study sessions, and clubs, I hardly ever get home before five. This is a random thought, but obviously school is an essential part of our lives. Whether it’s the education, social skills, or clubs and extracurricular activities, school has become like a second home for me.

So imagine my surprise when I hear Barack Obama delivering his speech during third hour Spanish. Although I support Obama and believe that his way with words is tremendous and he is an outstanding leader, I thought this speech was aimed more at the unmotivated students, those who come to school, and barely even try. And I’ll admit, I have those days where I am one of those students, but for the most part I put in a lot of effort at school to receive good grades. Obama’s speech was obviously excellent articulated, but I feel like the overall gist of the speech was “Don’t drop out of school”. Although this is an excellent piece of advice I feel like it was not helpful for students like me, who could never even imagine dropping out of school. Whether it’s our parents, teachers, or even ourselves who are preventing us from doing so, we know that it just won’t happen. I deem that Obama’s speech could have potentially improved had he given advice or spoken about the students who are excelling at school and who are unlikely to drop out. In fact, I thought he was repetitive and said certain things that most of us already know. For example Obama stated “no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you'll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You're going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can't drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You've got to work for it and train for it and learn for it”. Now I don’t know about you, but this has been drilled into my mind by my parents, relatives, and teachers for years. I did not need the president of the United States telling me this also. However, I thought the purpose of the speech had a great intention; the message was not received very well. And I do not think he succeeded in persuading kids who are planning on dropping out of high school.

Swift VS West Showdown

Award Shows; two words that signify glamorous celebrities, extravagant performances, and eccentric hosts. An award show like no other aired Sunday night called the Video Music Awards on MTV. Now you might ask why this is so different from other award shows. And the answer is simple. You never know what’s going to happen next. The performances are out of this world, the nominees have infinite talent, and the host produces smooth transitions between each performance and award, keeping the viewers on their toes. This year the host of the MTV awards, Russell Brand was completely riotous. With his wise cracking British accent and simple witty jokes, he kept the night animated. He was the perfect host, poking fun at everyone including himself, and creating smooth transitions between different awards and performances. Performers included Taylor Swift, Green Day, Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

My favorite performance was Taylor Swift. Now, on the Grammy’s and any other music award show, the performers perform on a stage, but Taylor Swift took things to a whole new level, by performing in a New York Subway station. She sang her hit song “You Belong With Me” which of course, everyone hears constantly on the radio. She began the show in a trench coat, with this mysterious sense to the beginning of the song. During the first verse she sings acoustically with just a guitar and her voice. After the first verse, she rips off the Trench Coat revealing a stunning scarlet dress. The band kicks in and she hops on the subway filled with excited New Yorkers. She interacts with her audience on the subway, by dancing and singing with them, and manages to maintain her flawless singing voice. After the first chorus, the people on the subway and Taylor Swift exit the subway station and flood the streets of New York in front of the VMA venue. Taylor Swift ascends a Taxi and finishes the song dancing on the top of it while reaching out to her fans. Overall, it was a completely breathtaking performance. She was able to connect to her audience on a completely different level than if she performed on a stage.
One of the reasons I was so impressed with her was what happened prior to the performance. She won an award, and most musicians would be delighted to win that infamous moon man, but twenty minutes after Taylor won this award, you could find her crying back stage. But to understand why we’ll need to rewind to the moment when she won her award, Kanye West snatched the microphone from her and said, “Yo Taylor Imma let you finish but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time”, implying that Beyoncé should have been the one holding the award. Taylor Swift looked completely flabbergasted along with the millions of viewers and fans watching. Honestly, I thought it was a joke. At any minute, Kanye West would say, “just kidding.” But this wasn’t the case. An awkward silence hung in the air after this moment, and the cameras rolled over to Beyoncé’s shocked face. Audience members started to stand up and boo, and eventually Taylor left and the show continued. Controversy arose immediately after, and if you went online you would see angry comments all over Twitter, Facebook, and Blogger. I thought this was completely inappropriate of Kanye West. People are entitled to their opinions, and it was fine that he thought Beyoncé should have won, but he did not need to ruin Taylor’s moment. She’s only nineteen and it was the first VMA award she had ever won, and Kanye West completely destroyed this for her. I’m a huge fan of Taylor Swift and I truly believe she earned this award. However, I know people who are not fans of her who still thought Kanye West’s actions were inappropriate. I’m not saying that Taylor Swift should or shouldn’t have won the award, but what Kanye West did was wrong and completely unnecessary. I wonder how he would feel if someone did that to him after he won an award. After the VMA’s, he appeared on Saturday Night Live and admitted that what he did was wrong and that he wanted to apologize to Taylor. He called her the next day, and apologized through the phone. Taylor Swift accepted his apology. I thought this was very mature of her. She was obviously upset with Kanye, but she found it in herself to forgive him and be the bigger person. More evidence that she’s not only an unbelievable performer, but also an unbelievable person.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


A wise man once said, “if you allow it to music can truly affect you, a good piece of music is not only something that appeals to your ears but also to your soul”. I was listening to a song one day in the car, and I literally had to pull of the side of the road because I was crying so hard.” Interestingly enough, my show choir director was the wise man who said this. Its comical how a simple extracurricular activity like show choir, can consume the lives of numerous people. Even funnier, we actually like that it consumes our life. Most performers would tell you that they live for the rush that they get when their on stage, and that it’s the most incredible sensation ever. I am one of these people, I am lucky enough to know and be a part of the magic of Show Choir.

As more and more people discover the world of Show Choir, it is becoming popular on television. The majority of you have probably been exposed to “Glee” while flipping through channels on a Wednesday night. When I first heard about Glee, I was thrilled that they were producing a show about something I was so passionate about. The pilot for this show aired May 19, 2009, and the premiere of the season was last night. I did not get to see the premiere, but from the reviews I have been reading, the show is extraordinary. In fact, I loved the pilot so much that I was craving another episode the whole summer. The first episode essentially introduced the characters and the different cliques that are present in high school. Most of the kids in Glee Club were considered geeks. Will Schuester, one of the teachers at the high school, participated in Glee Club when he was younger and wants to revive Glee Club again. He decides to volunteer to be director of Glee Club, but the turn out isn’t very impressive. The auditions range from a Jennifer Hudson-esque voice, to a handicapped boy in a wheelchair. Will tries to recruit more people to join Glee Club including the almighty football team. The buff football players however laugh at his face and think singing and dancing is ridiculous, with the exception of one, Finn Hudson. A shower singer, caught in the act by Will after a football practice. Will knows that there is no way Finn will willingly join, so he plants drugs in his locker, and punishes him by making Glee Club a requirement. Angry and shocked at first, Finn Hudson ends up really enjoying it. He changes from the popular, football jock, to the nice guy who stands up for less fortunate people. The pilot ends with an excellent rendition of Journey’s, “Don’t Stop Believin’”, which immediately hit number on the iTunes charts.

I am a big enthusiast about this show; however I do have some important criticism. As much as I think this is a great show and makes for good TV, it does not display show choir very accurately. Show Choir at my school includes members from a variety of cliques, and there are far more people. We have strict, and planned out rehearsals, and our school invests a lot of time in show choir. In fact, being in show choir is an honor at our school and something we take great pride in. We win championships, make lifetime friends, and work towards a goal which we are all passionate about. Overall, Glee is a wonderful show that opens people to the glitz and glamour of show choir, and I am thrilled for the upcoming season.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Beatle Mania

“All You Need is Love”. For those of you who hear those infamous words and think of the greatest rock band ever, today is history in the making. 9-9-09, today, is the day the “Beatle Mania” begins with the official release of the Beatles: Rock Band. Now most teens have probably been a part of this recent Guitar Hero and Rock Band obsession. But The Harmonix Music Systems (the developers of the game) were brilliant in creating this game. Now they can appeal to the 40 something’s who grew up listening to that type of music and still worship it. I am a huge Beatles fan myself and I am looking forward to purchasing this game. In fact, I was considering buying it for my Dad (a huge Beatles fan) for his birthday next week.

Just a little interesting fact, notice that Paul McCartney (second guy from the left) is barefoot!

The game consists of the forty-five most popular Beatles songs along with virtual images of the band members performing. The game was developed by Apple Corps and was even approved by former Beatles members; Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. The hype for this game has been monumental the past month. From visually appealing commercials to informative websites, the build up for this game has been enormous. I am curious as to whether or not the excitement was worth it. Can a simple video game truly capture the magic of The Beatles? Most critiques say that the game has attracted the amateur Guitar Hero and Rock Band Players. The music is not very difficult to play and most people, who buy it, are not video game lovers, but lovers of the band. A new aspect of the game is the three-part singing. Not only can you jam out with the drums, guitar, and bass, up to three people can grab a microphone and sing their hearts out. This is a new and exciting characteristic of Rock Band that has people thrilled to play this game.

The game is fairly new and therefore the list of reviews is inadequate to truly form an opinion about this game. However, as a passionate Beatles aficionada, I can truthfully say that I am expecting to fall in love with this game. If it’s not the visuals or the difficulty level, I will always be devoted to the Beatles compositions that changed the world.

There was one detailed evaluation of the game I found and this sentence stood out to me. “If you're a Beatles fan, none of the game's omissions or faults can erase the excitement of playing and singing along with one of the most loved bands of all time”, says Justin Haywald (

If you are interested in the game or want to check out the spectacular visuals, this website is great!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Importance of Perspective


1. an unobstructed and wide view of an extensive area in all directions.

2. an extended pictorial representation or a cyclorama of a landscape or other scene, often exhibited a part at a time and made to pass continuously before the spectators.

Titles can be vexing, especially the blog sort. I mean, how are you supposed to summarize your whole purpose for writing in one measly sentence? Let me tell you, it's difficult. After hours of looking through dictionaries and countless sites on search engines, I finally found the perfect title. "Panorama": concise and to the point, yet broad enough to allow me to express my opinions on a multitude of topics. My blog will hopefully succeed in doing exactly what the title expresses. I hope to be able to present interesting perspectives on culture, politics, and travel. Through this blog, I hope to be able to widen my point and view and look at situations from different perceptions. “People only see what they are prepared to see”, say’s Ralph Waldo Emerson. Now that I reflect on this outlook truly is everything. Your opinions and the way you look at things make you who you are. For example, Samuel Johnson the eighteenth century essayist frequently wrote about “the insufficiency of human enjoyments”. In Douglas Hunt’s essay “Introduction: About Essays and Essayists, it is revealed that Samuel Johnson was half-blind, scarred from infancy by skin disease, and was poor and nearly friendless. Deprived from childhood, it is no surprise that this essayist has a pessimistic and gloomy way of seeing the world. In fact, Johnson says that The Great Pyramids are not representative of the beauty and magnificent architecture of Egypt, but rather the toil and suffering of the slaves lying stone upon stone to please the Pharaohs. An interesting way of looking at it, a viewpoint I would have never even imagined. Which brings me back to the word panorama, a widened viewpoint. Looking through the eyes of Samuel Johnson I saw one of the Seven Wonders of the World in a completely new light. By no means are people wrong in saying that The Great Pyramids are one of the most dazzling buildings ever made. However, before you become attached to your judgment of something, look at it in a different way. Think of how the slaves who built The Great Pyramids would view it. I am eager to start this blog and hope to accomplish three things:

1.) I want to pick interesting and controversial topics and be able to choose a side to support. However, I also want to be able to view other perspectives on these topics, and hopefully change the way I think.

2.) I hope to improve my writing skills (particularly spelling and grammar as you will find in this entry) and capture the attention of people who happen to stumble upon my blog.

3.) Lastly, I hope to open other readers up to new viewpoints and ways of seeing things. I believe this is beneficial because in order to truly understand a topic, you must grasp both sides of the argument.