A Bike Ride

I finally felt stable in my life; the first time in years, there weren’t different screams from different feelings yelling at each other and fighting over who would win, it was as the screams settled down, but now there was nothing, nothing shouting, nothing screaming, no fights from the different Inside Out characters, it was as a giant black hole pulled them inside its body. The black hole seemed to get bigger and bigger by the second absorbing all the thoughts I cherished and sucking them up until I couldn’t go back to them and all that remained was emptiness in my dull mind. The only thought remaining in my poisoned mind was: “Would I rather have different feelings fight over, causing me to feel too strong, or have no war and only have emptiness float through my mind?”. It’s like riding a bike through a flower field, until it begins to rain and the tires get caught in the mud and so then you fall, while your bike breaks.

When it would stop pouring, I would pick up my bike and try again, with a broken leg and a flat tire, but as soon I would do this, the clouds would flush down its water, as it were laughing at my failure. I would keep trying and trying, until everything in my body was snapped in half, and all that remaining was the bell on my bike. On the other fields, I would see kids riding the same bike, except none of them had rain being poured down and they kept peddling, until their bellies ached from laughing too hard, when would I have that? My belly would only ache from falling on it too much.

I soon realized that I couldn’t go further and would die from the aches and pain. At least my skull would be buried with the sunflowers I never had.

-Kimi M.

Films, Animation, and Literature (oh my!)

The reason we study so many older works of literature in school, so we’re told, is so that we can get an idea of the popular media that influenced the culture of that time period.  Stories like The Great Gatsby, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Hamlet have had a significant impact on the development of both America and western culture as a whole.  These stories were either a significant part of America’s identity as a literature and cultural powerhouse, or greatly affected the public both inside and outside of America.  Many of these writers weren’t known until after their deaths, but their works became influential long before some of us were even born.

But stories are nothing new to the human race.  Oral tales, fables, and ancient religious texts are some of the oldest records of stories we still have. These stories, too, shaped the course of human development, and some are still well-known to this day.

But what about today’s great, influential works?  What kind of media shapes the culture of America today?  What kind of creative works will people in the future be studying?

Thanks to the advancement of technology, new creative works are shared with the world every day.  Many of them can be found by other authors on this blog, in fact!  But clearly there are far too many now to read them all, so how do we determine the most influential ones?  It’s simple, really; ask yourself, what media did you consume as a child?  Movies, TV shows, or books?  Many of us reflect fondly on the animation from Disney, or J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  These are the what shaped us, and shape many children growing up today.  Of course, something doesn’t have to be for children to be influential to our culture, but many of the most fondly looked upon pieces of our modern media are from the YA rating section of books, or are for even younger audiences.  Disney has been a driving force behind the invention of new animation techniques and basically created the animated industry as we know it – and recently, they’ve purchased more and more influential franchises to put under their name.  Harry Potter has introduced a whole new wave and understanding of magic and alchemy, and has shaped generations into viewing magic in a very different light from their predecessors.  Characters like SpongeBob and Mickey Mouse are as recognizable if not more as Gatsby from The Great Gatsby.

It’s interesting to think about a generation in the distant future that may learn about our cultural icons like how we learn about old literature nowadays in school.  People may groan about having to study Pokémon all day, like how we groan about having to study Shakespeare’s plays.  Imagine a world where people who enjoy SpongeBob are labeled “theater nerds” and people who enjoy Shakespeare are labeled “history buffs”. That may very well be what our distant future is like!

-Leanne W.

Are Libraries Still Necessary?

Since the beginning of time, libraries have been an important part of human culture. For
over thousands of years, people have met to discuss, gain, and impart wisdom in
libraries across the globe.

Unfortunately, in the twenty-first century, people are starting to rely more and more on technology than on these beautiful buildings stuffed with books, and are questioning the necessity of libraries today.

The fact is, more people visit libraries every year than they do any other establishment. There was actually a study in New York that showed that the number of people who attend sporting events, museums, live performances, zoos, etc., adds up to about 30 million. Though this seems to be a rather large number, the NYC libraries counted about 37 million visitors, meaning that libraries attract more people than all other attractions do – combined!

Despite this, some people are suggesting that we do away with these wonderful libraries in favor of the internet. However, not only has overexposure to screens been
proven to damage one’s eyesight, reading books online is not nearly as thrilling
or satisfying as holding an actual library book in one’s hand.

Notwithstanding this, there are some people who still believe that libraries can be replaced with a simple Google search. What these people refuse to understand, though, is that libraries have become so much more than a place to store books. Nowadays, one can enter a library and find jobs, homework help, and many other activities, such as trivia nights and book talks, ice-cream socials and reading programs, that enrich and empower the community.

For these reasons, it is as plain as day that these power plants of knowledge are exceedingly necessary for our society and our world to not only survive, but to thrive.

-Mahak M.

Asian-American Representation Matters: Crazy Rich Asians, To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved, and Searching Are Only the Beginning

Recently, three remarkable and very popular movies have come out: Crazy Rich Asians, To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved, and Searching, all which feature Asian leads. These movies have become highly-acclaimed and well-loved, all garnering positive reviews and ratings. The three movies obviously are must-watches, but they mean something so much more to Asian-Americans: their positive, humanized representation in the media after a history of disparaging stereotypes.

Asian Americans have been mistreated by popular culture and media for decades, perpetuating harmful stereotypes and white-washing characters relentlessly. Asians are stereotyped as nerdy, anti-social, and unathletic; Asian women are seen as submissive and quiet and are sometimes over-fetishized, while Asian men are emasculated and seen as undesirable and unattractive. These are seen in popular movies from Breakfast in Tiffany’s to Pitch Perfect. The amount of blatant white-washing is almost uncountable; from Ghost in the Shell to The Great Wall to Doctor Strange, where roles that were meant for Asian actors were given to white people (one being Scarlett Johansonn, unsurprisingly), Asians are virtually invisible in the show business and subject to racial abuses.

Crazy Rich Asians is so important to change the perspective of Asians in the media. It is the first majority-Asian cast since Joy Luck Club, which was made 25 years ago. Crazy Rich Asians proves that Asians, despite popular belief, can do well in the box office: it is now the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade.

After Crazy Rich Asians, many Asian Americans have taken to social media to express their gratitude and happiness for finally seeing people that look like them on the screen. Jeff Yang, an Asian journalist, tweeted “Why am I #ProudToBeAsian? I’m #ProudToBeAsian because I FINALLY feel like we’re being seen and heard.” He continued on to state how “all of my life, I’ve been told to hide my food, speak louder, hold my tongue, go back where I came from, break out of my box and now I literally DGAF what you have to say if you’re not coming with respect for me and my people.”

Another tweet by an Asian writer and director, Gary King, stated how it feels wonderful “to see [Henry Golding] on screen vs. what I grew up on (and was told by the media how they thought of me). Representation matters.” The tweet was accompanied by a photo of Henry Golding and contrasting photos of the negative, emasculated, racist portrayals of Asians in the media, such as Mr. Yunioshi from Breakfast At Tiffany’s, who was played by Michael Rooney wearing yellow-face and emphasized Asian stereotypes as a form of comedic relief.

Similarly, another tweet stated how “Representation matters. Not just for actors but for everyone who wants to see someone that looks like them in a big Hollywood movie. I hope this movie smashes records and shows young Asian Americans they can be the hero of their own story.”

There was even a viral thread made by Kimberly Yam, a journalist, who spoke about her moments of shame and realization growing up Asian in a world that “makes a mockery of our existence.” She explains how the people around her made her not want to be Asian anymore and how slowly she began to love her heritage and culture again; Crazy Rich Asians is a symbol of long-deserved victory.

Crazy Rich Asians is an incredible, but long-awaited development for Asian-Americans. Crazy Rich Asians was also followed by the popular Netflix film, To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved, which features Lana Candor, a Korean American actress, as the female protagonist. This is another development in changing the way Asians are viewed in the mass media. Even Lana Candor, the actress herself, has expressed surprise about landing the role.

“I never thought I would be so lucky to be the lead of a romcom,” said Lana Condor in an interview. “Simply because I don’t get those opportunities, for probably many reasons, but one of would likely be because I’m Asian. So when I got the audition and it said they were looking for an Asian American girl to play the lead love interest in a romcom, I was shocked. Truly. I just had never gotten that before.”

She continues on to say how Asians are rarely considered for movie roles. “I have had experiences where they say open to all ethnicities, and then I get there and it’s a bunch of blonde, blue-eyed beautiful ladies. And then myself,” said Condor. “And then I have to ask, why am I here? If we’re all auditioning for the same role, it clearly looks like you [the production] already have a picture in your mind.”

The writer of To All the Boys, Jenny Han, has also expressed how the film was almost white-washed. “Early on, I had conversations with producers who were interested in optioning the book, but the interest faded when I told them Lara Jean had to be Asian,” Han said. “They didn’t understand why she had to be Asian when there was nothing explicitly in the story that required her to be. For me, it’s not a matter of why, she simply is. And in a more equitable world, I wouldn’t have to justify that.”

To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved might have been an enjoyable, refreshing rom-com expressing young love to most people. To Asian-Americans, it is another step toward the journey of being accurately represented in the media.

Arden Cho, a Korean-American actor, expressed the importance of Lara Jean as the female lead. She states that as a child,  “I loved every romcom movie but they always made me feel like you had to be white to be beautiful, to fall in love, to be the lead . . . all I knew was I looked different and I hated it  . . . Seeing Lara Jean as the lead of [her] stor[y] was so powerful, so necessary.”

What is so important about To All the Boys is that Covey’s love life is not affected by her ethnicity. There are no stereotypes about her being a nerdy, quiet, or submissive Asian girl. To All the Boys normalizes the fact that all races fall in love and can have a cute love story — Asians included.

Finally, the most recent movie in theaters is Searching, a movie that features John Cho as the male protagonist, a father who is searching for clues about his missing daughter. This movie is also changing the narrative around Asian-Americans by featuring an Asian-American as a lead instead of a white actor. The movie has a 93% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and many people have expressed their happiness that an Korean-American actor takes a role that would traditionally be played by white men.

The golden age of Asian-Americans is dawning. No longer will we be invisible. This time, we will not be quiet.

-Audrey X.

My Happy Place

Every summer I spend early August rafting down the Fall River and riding quads near Idaho Falls, Idaho. For two weeks out of the entire year I get a chance to connect with nature and feel calm before the chaos of school starts again.

I love Mission Viejo in California, but I don’t get the same feeling when a bald eagle flies over the river to get to its nest, or when a crack of thunder interrupts the sunny sky, a bomb in disguise. Or just the feeling of recklessness as I’m hurtling through the brush along the roar of the river, gassing the four-wheeler as much as it will comply with my hunger for adventure. Or even just enjoying the river view and “setting out on the deck,” as my grandma would say, catching up with the locals whom are tougher than nails, relating a story of her pregnant daughter being flattened by a sick cow that had died and keeled over when she tried to nurse it.

Idaho puts me in a meditative state of mind and really opens my eyes. I love being able to set aside all the temporary worries in my mind and be in the moment with my family because when we get a chance to get all together, it’s too much fun to be anywhere else. However, the one thing that I learn every time I come here is I can be happy and content anywhere if I have the right mindset. Idaho is my happy place and I wouldn’t spend my summer vacation anywhere else.

-Megan A.

Fall!

It’s almost the first day of fall (September 22, specifically) and there’s no better way to kick off this wonderful season than giving you some tips to have the best time ever. Autumn 2018 is definitely going to be one for the books!

When I think of fall, football games, pumpkin patches and other outdoor activities come to mind:

-Show some school spirit and spend a Friday evening at your school’s football stands with your best buds to cheer on your home team! If you’re not a huge football fan, no worries. . .

-You can head on over to a pumpkin patch with your family or friends! Have a competition to see who can pick the biggest, oddest or most colorful pumpkin and definitely snap a few photos for social media.

-And if you’re into the spookiness fall has to offer, find some brave friends and walk through a haunted house or maze–if you dare.

Now, what’s fall without tasty treats?

-First of all, pumpkin spice lattes are now back in season and personally, I believe fall practically wouldn’t exist without these warm cups of goodness.

-Actually, pumpkin, cinnamon, and vanilla anything is ideal. Whether it be scones, muffins, pie or even pumpkin pie frozen yogurt, satisfy your sweet tooth craving and dig in!

-Or if you’re into baking, look up some fun DIY recipes to bake and share with your family. They’d appreciate your effort and thought–and they’d enjoy the deliciousness of fall flavor!

Lastly, I wouldn’t be writing for this blog if I didn’t have any book recommendations. Grab your fuzzy blanket, light a candle and get reading.

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. A heartwarming novel about a young girl in seemingly miserable situation who crosses paths with the adorable Winn Dixie, a lovable dog who lights up her life.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Written by the “Queen of Mystery” herself, this novel keeps you on your toes until the last page. (As do many of her other books–check them out!! They make for a great nighttime read.)

The Fault in our Stars by John Green. An oldie but a goodie. Who doesn’t like to read a teenage romance novel every once in awhile? Green’s unique love plot dances in and out of humor, sorrow and everything in between.

Even if you’re bogged down with schoolwork, SATs or college applications, try giving yourself some personal time to relax and enjoy all autumn has to offer! I hope this post could give some inspiration to have some fun during the last few months of 2018!

-Jessica T.

William Stokoe: The Man Who Changed the World

William Stokoe is known throughout the ASL community as the “father of ASL linguistics”. Some might consider him a hero. He was the man who researches about the language and proved that sign language is an actual language. Even though many people doubted him and didn’t support him, he pushed through and ended changing the world with his success.

At the beginning of the research, he had little to no experience with Deaf people, their language, and the culture around them. Regardless, he began his research at Gallaudet University, a private university for the deaf and hard of hearing. After observing the students for some time, Stokoe noticed that sign language contained the features of an actual language. Even though he claimed that sign language is an actual language, his associates completely disagreed with Stokoe’s idea. Despite the lack of support, he continued with his research. After years of careful studying and observation, Stokoe was able to contradict his colleagues’ ideas of sign language not being a language. He ended up writing a paper called Sign Language Structure. His paper ultimately changed the ideas of language not only logically but also scientifically.

Essentially, he gave life to a community that wasn’t that well known or appreciated. He shined a new light on the language and culture and because of that, ASL is no longer a joke. Even when he retired, later on, he continued to work in the SIgn Language area, lecturing students, writing novels, and editing papers.

The creation of sign language has completely changed the world and how it functions. If you turn on the news, sometimes in the corner, there’s someone signing so that deaf people can understand what’s going on. There are even videos on the internet of singers having people who sign at their concerts so that they can enjoy the show just like everyone else and won’t miss out. Nowadays there’s sign language almost everywhere, it’s absolutely incredible.

-Phoebe L.