The Three Tiers of Love: A Theory

I have had a fear of inadequate love for many years now and I fear it from both sides. By that I mean I am scared of situations where I am not able to fully love someone and those where another’s love for me falls short, at least in my eyes.

In my twenty-one years of living I have had lots of quote-on-quote “things” (millenials, I know you guys know what I mean), four boyfriends, and of those four I would say only two were serious relationships. Still, I don’t know if I have ever been in love.

But I do have a theory about love, which I unconsciously developed in high school, and I thought it would be interesting to throw it out into the world.

My theory about love is that it comes in three tiers.

The first tier is a non-romantic love. The kind you feel towards parents, siblings, and good friends. Platonic, but still powerful and important to cherish.

The second is a romantic love, reserved for your actual significant others. I suppose it could also apply to people that you simply “fall for” and not just boyfriends/girlfriends, but I have witnessed that the usual case is that the love is mutual.

You’re together, a couple, and your love can fall anywhere on this wide and wavering spectrum of romantic love. Your relationship might be in the honeymoon stage or maybe it’s months in and still strong or perhaps it’s a withstanding love that continues to burst at the seams no matter how many months or years pass.

A spectrum, a scale, call it what you will.


This light spectrum illustrates how each tier of love can be a spectrum, as well. It all falls in the same category, but within that category there are different levels on the scale. Credits: Gemology Online

In this little theory, each tier is not a pinpoint, there are different levels. For example, in Tier One, you don’t love your best friend in the same way you love your mom, but you feel platonic love towards both of them. Both fall into the same tier, but are very different.

Now, moving forward, I’m not saying I’ve never loved.

I’ve felt that “bursting at the seams” love twice, and let me tell you, it’s an incredible feeling. It’s nerve-wracking, confusing, empowering, exciting, and blissful all at once.

But some obstacle or roadblock or mental shift always led me to watch it crumble. No love ever satisfied the long term or seemed worth the pain, I suppose. No matter the letters, the adventures taken, the late night talks, the cuddling, the kisses, the comfort, the safety, or the many family members and friends telling us that we were “perfect for each other.”

I’ve always believed, and truly felt, deep down, that there’s got to be something more.

Where’s that love they show me in movies? Where is that love I read about in books? Where is that love that has turned my favorite writers into crazy, poem-fanatic, lovesick freaks? Where is the love that makes you a fool? Where is the love that stands up and challenges you and changes you, for the better, and reminds you why you were meant to be born human? Why you were meant to feel! Why you are lucky! Why you can’t let go. Where is that love?

That love is the third tier.

I’m fully aware that I have been heavily brainwashed by movies, TV, and books and that this entire idea may be naive. But part of me doesn’t care if it’s a social construct or fairytale idea. Some part of me knows (or at least hopes with an undying passion) it exists… it has to. I just don’t see how society could just make something like that up.

It’s those couples you see in pictures that make you choke up for no reason. It’s the storylines played out on your favorite series. It’s Shakespeare’s sonnets. It’s The Notebook. There must be a love, one great form of love, that inspired these beautiful things.


To be honest, this movie messed me up in 10th grade. It is 100% possible that it is responsible for this entire theory. Just kidding… kind of.

This the third tier… being in love.

That is where I have not ventured, but I wish, someday, to go. Even though the idea of it strikes me with just as much pure fear as incessant curiosity.

So, there you have it. The three tiers. Platonic love, romantic love, and being in love.

This is what I have seen and how I have categorized my relationships and those of the people I see around me. I don’t always do it intentionally, but this theory has bounced around in my head for over four years now, so it’s hard to avoid.

Part of me thinks that you only fall in love once or twice in your lifetime. If you’re lucky.

I also honestly think that some people will never fall in love at all. And I worry, sometimes, that that could be me.

But I am in no rush. I believe in whatever the universe has in store for me. I think I have a destiny and if that’s not a part of it, well, that would f*cking suck (and not just because it would be the ultimate inspiration for a writer.)

But life is life and you have to do what it commands when you don’t have a choice.

Just like falling for someone. It might not be your choice or the other person’s, but it happens. You don’t always get to control when or how you fall or who for; when it comes to love you just do your best to survive it and hopefully thrive in it.

I understand not everyone will agree with this theory and that’s fine. I have adjusted it a lot over time, doubt it occasionally to this day, and my own dad doesn’t agree with it.

He told me, “I’ve been in love probably three or four times before meeting your mother. That’s five total.”

I asked him if he could be mistaking some of those “in loves” for just really high hits on the Tier Two scale. He said no, he was definitely in love. So, I digress.

All I’m saying is this is how I have come to see love. This is something I’ve noticed, observed, gathered thoughts on, and believed in. It is not the end all. I’m totally open to the fact that a year from now I could look back on this and realize it’s total BS and there’s no validity to it whatsoever.

Still, I believe it’s worth pondering, because thinking deeply about what love is fuels curiosity, hope, risk, fear, passion, and reflection, all of which are worth feeling.

21 Things I’ve Learned Since Turning 21

Earlier this year I turned 21 on the 21st of January and my bar crawl through downtown San Luis Obispo was one of the best nights of my entire life.

Now, it’s been half a year of legal drinking and I have chosen today, July 21st, to share some of the wisdom I have collected in this time with you all.

The following listicle (I know I talk sh*t on listicles all the time, but sometimes the writing form really fits the topic OKAY) is comprised of things I have learned about being a 21-year-old in the last six months.

Please enjoy the stories, photos, and nuggets of wisdom below… and please understand that I specifically gathered these materials for this post. There is plenty of picture proof of me sober and doing more productive things with my time, I swear.

As someone who I was too lazy to Google once said, “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m just a college student.”

1) I wasn’t able to drink vodka after my freshman year and I sure as hell can’t drink it now.

2) A Long Island Iced Tea in SLO is usually around $7. A Long Island in San Francisco is $15. Know and remember this information before you offer to buy a round of them for your older brother’s cool friends.

3) Long Islands will eff your sh*t up.

4) If you go to Cal Poly and you are a girl it is likely that you will be subject to two things:

1) A Facebook event page for your 21st Birthday Pregame that has a weird title and a  hilarious description section written by one of your close friends that highlights your best/worst moments from previous years.

Truthfully, this event page only serves one purpose and it’s not to tell people when to come to you or your friends crappy college apartment to celebrate your “coming of age” in the alcohol world. This page is where your friends post every single embarrassing and gross picture they’ve ever taken of you (most likely screenshots of regrettable Snapchat selfies at 2am) with little to no remorse.

2) A cute sign with the 21 tasks you must complete on your bar crawl that you are forced to wear the entire night. The only upside to this mess is that if you are lucky, the person that makes it for you will take your dress, shoes, or pregame color scheme into consideration when decorating it.


5) Brunch. That is all.

6) Actually, that is not all. You want to know something about brunch? Brunch is the best thing ever. Whoever invented brunch could punch me in the face and I would still worship the ground they walk on. Brunch allows me to sleep in until mid-day (whether I was drinking the night prior or not) and still consume massive amounts of breakfast food without facing judgement. The sun has been up for HOURS. There is no excuse to be eating scrambled eggs at 11:30am… except there is. And that excuse is brunch.

Thank you brunch.


7) After awhile you have to accept the fact that there will be creepy old guys at bars. They will be everywhere you go. You could go to a hipster bar, a sports bar, a dive bar (your chances are much higher here actually), wherever… they are like pimples; they will show up in the most unexpected places and annoy the crap out of you.

8) AMF’s…. proceed with caution.

9) There are many different types of mules! Not the actual animal… it’s a type of drink and there are many variations of it, but they all come in fun and cool little mugs. If you cannot stomach vodka easily, like me, then you need to make sure you avoid the Russian-influenced one.


Here’s an easy key:

Moscow Mule: lime juice, ginger beer, and VODKA

Mexican Mule: lime juice, ginger beer, and TEQUILA

Kentucky Mule: lime juice, ginger beer, and WHISKEY (these are the best, trust me)

10) Whiskey is actually the sh*t.

11) Guys will be surprised if you are a girl and you order whiskey… this can be flattering, but if they make a huge deal of it or focus on it for more than 5 minutes, you need to move on because they are probably unconsciously expressing internalized sexism. Not really… but really. Okay, okay, I’m kidding. But don’t be surprised if this guy insists on buying you a drink and then says that you “owe” him a dance or a kiss later.

12) Going out with my parents will almost always be more fun than an average night out on any given weekend.

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13) Dancing on tables is an acquired skill and if you do not have slightly more sober experience with it, I do not recommend doing it for the first time while drunk, especially if you are wearing heels or wedges.

14) Wagon Wheel. Sweet Caroline. Stacy’s Mom. Single Ladies. Hey Ya. Turn Down For What. Don’t Stop Believin’. Timber. Baby Got Back. And almost anything by LMFAO. These songs will get everyone on the dance floor and/or singing at the top of their lungs.


16) Beerfest in San Francisco was one of the most fun days of my entire life. I think it should be declared a national holiday. Or everyone should go at least once in their life, I don’t know! All I know is I got to go a few days after my birthday and that was when I truly felt like I was officially 21.


17) Oh, and if you had a long night out and weren’t even planning on going to Beerfest and then your brother wakes you up at 9am after your guys’ first night of partying together and reveals to you that he realized he has an extra ticket, you’d better be creative with your outfit.

Thank god for dude’s v-necks and the fake Toms they sell at CVS. My shoes had broken the night before and there weren’t many options….


18) If you have a baby face then you will get carded all of the freaking time. And not just the typical “Let me see your ID” carded… the *suspicious look and doubting eyebrow raise* + “When is your birthday?” “What’s your address?” “What’s your astrological sign?” or “You look like you’re 17” carded.


19) Sometimes it’s 2am and the bars are closing and Uber’s prices surge. If you have done some damage on that given night then you will click “Request Uber” without realizing what you have just consented to paying. The next morning you will receive an email telling you that you were charged $42 for a five-minute drive from downtown to your apartment. This will suck.

I blame Marston’s.


20) All of your friends’ 21st birthday bar crawls and shenanigans will be some of the best times. You feel like you’re helping deliver a baby into the world. Except instead of breast feeding from their mothers they’re taking body shots off of strangers.

21) Taco Bell always has been and always will be the best place to end the night.


Why I’m Not Studying Abroad

The following situation occurred numerous times throughout Spring Quarter:

Friend/classmate/peer: Hey, weren’t you supposed to go to Spain or something? I feel like I remember you saying you were going abroad in the Spring.

My mind: Shit. ….. well, this is awkward. Did I tell them personally or did they just see it on Facebook or whatever? Asl;ksjf;sldkfj I can’t believe I have to endure explaining this again, but here we go.

Me: Oh! Uh, yeahhh that didn’t end up… working out.

Friend/classmate/peer: Oh my gosh nooOOoooOOOOooo, what happeneeeddd?!!!??

And then I would go on to explain the entire ordeal, all the while trying to hold back frustrated tears and the devastation in my voice. Honestly, I couldn’t decide if these interactions made me feel more sad, mad, or just plain uncomfortable.

Sad because one of the experiences I’d dreamt of for years was ripped out from under me like a magician doing the tablecloth trick.

Mad because I had gone through so many obstacles and worked hard and I had felt I deserved the trip and that it was wrongfully taken from me,

Uncomfortable because while this one person was actually asking me about it, I couldn’t help but wonder how many other people were curious what the hell had happened and just came up with their own answers and reasons for me.

My mindWould they assume grades prevented me from going? If so, does that mean people generally think I’m dumb? I wonder if anyone just flat out thinks I lied. I know people often think I want attention and there are definitely people out there who judge me enough to believe that. After all, people believe what they want to believe. I wonder if they think it was money problems? Or if I did something bad to be dropped from the program or something?

And it would go on and on and on… my thoughts were incessant.

See, I don’t usually care what people think about me. But something about this whole situation left me feeling wide open for the whole world to see.

And perhaps this was narcissistic of me, to assume that everyone knew my plans and wanted to know why they had changed, but we all tend to be self-involved at times. And I can freely admit that at this time, being a freshly legal 21-year-old who was taking on new freedoms while being personally offended that her dream had died, I was very self-involved.

I knew that if I had seen someone post such exciting news on Facebook and then I never saw them post pictures from their adventures abroad or even say anything about it, I would wonder what happened.

I assumed people would wonder. And I got asked about it enough times for that assumption to be confirmed. I’m sure some people could give less of a shit, but I felt so vulnerable at the time that it felt like everyone knew.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 9.12.26 PM

My Facebook post announcing the news

A good number of months have passed since my plans changed and I am no longer bitter about the situation, although I do get sad from time to time, especially when I see Snapchats and Instagrams from the dozens of people I know who are currently frolicking throughout Europe and Asia.

I’ve never been one to get jealous or disappointed in my own life while observing others’ lives via social media, but this has become my one exception. I am happy for these people, but I also yearn for their experiences, the way that they’re having them.

I will have my own adventure.

It just won’t be the same as theirs.

You want to know what happened? I’ll tell you. You don’t care? Too bad, I’m writing about it anyways. Because I have found many silver linings and I want to share them.

Let’s take it back to Fall Quarter of my sophomore year.

I had been working out plans with my parents to study abroad over the Summer. I had always wanted to go to Spain and had done a ton of research on the cities that I could choose from.

The plan was San Sebastián.

A beautiful, beautiful beach town up near the border of France. It was perfect.

Photo from:

Photo from:

I was talking to advisors at Cal Poly, researching the town further, and getting ready to jump into the application process.


A tweet from my sophomore year

I do not remember exactly when my parents approached me about canceling my Summer abroad, but it was around Winter Break and it was hard to accept.

However, they told me they wanted me to have this experience. They told me they really wanted me to study abroad because we are lucky enough for me to have the opportunity to and should take advantage of it. It would just have to be at a later date because they could not include paying the tuition over the Summer into our budget at the time.

I got over it relatively quickly and in Spring and into the following Summer (the one before junior year) I tried to start planning Study Abroad Attempt #2.

Being the stubborn woman I am, I did not want to go abroad in the Spring. Everyone knows Spring Quarter at Cal Poly is an absolute BLAST. I was determined to have my cake and eat it it, too.

I looked into Fall programs, but those are all “semester programs” that begin over the Summer and go through Poly’s Fall Quarter. It was too late to apply for any of them. They all started in August. Deadlines had passed.

Disappointed, but determined, I began looking into Winter Quarter. I found programs for Australia and Rome. I wasn’t particularly interested in Australia because I wanted to be in Europe, so Rome sounded awesome. I told my parents about the idea and they were on board!

As it turned out, there was no program that both matched up with Cal Poly’s Quarter System schedule and offered the classes that I needed…

I had been saving specific GE’s, ones that are commonly offered in study abroad programs, for the sole reason of taking them while abroad, yet nothing was working out.

Defeated once more, I held off on my study abroad dreams until Fall Quarter of junior year.

I decided to suck it up. I had been so stubborn about not wanting to leave Cal Poly during my Spring Quarter of junior year, but I realized I was blessed enough to even have the CHANCE to get to study abroad. I was being so ridiculously picky about how I would go and when and where… and I was not being grateful for the opportunity in itself.

I started researching Spring programs. And what I found was too good to be true (literally, but we’ll get to that later.)

Seville, Spain. It was a QUARTER PROGRAM, which had previously been extremely difficult to find. It offered Economics and Art classes that would fulfill my GE requirements. It was perfect. It matched my school’s academic schedule, would provide me with actual credits, and, best of all, it was in Spain!


Photo from:

I scheduled meetings with advisors. I filled out the application. I did the transcript sending. I did it all.

I was very optimistic I would get in.

And I did! When I got the acceptance email over break I could not contain myself. It didn’t even feel real. It was finally happening.

I filled out the course preference list, I took the Spanish placement test, and my parents paid the initial deposit and fees. At Christmas I received gifts for my travels– books on where to go in Spain, travel toiletry bags, etc. Everything was amazing.

Enter 2015.

I’m fresh off of a great Fall Quarter at Poly, a wonderful break, and I’m ready to turn 21 (on January 21st), and then speed through the quarter and get to Spain already. I could hear it calling me. And I felt I couldn’t answer until I was on the plane… on the way there.

I’m a couple weeks into the quarter and life is good. It’s January 18th and my best friend, Maya, is visiting SLO for the three-day weekend and my birthday. Her and I and my other close friend, Bryan, are in downtown SLO shopping for decorations for my party and then decide to grab lunch.

I’m sitting in a booth with them at Urbane Cafe and that’s when I get a call from my CEA advisor.

I don’t think anything of it.

She would call all the time to check in on me, ask questions, remind me about forms due, and clarify things about the program, etc. Getting a call from her was not unusual.

Unfortunately, this call was different. I stepped outside to make sure I could hear whatever she had to say and that’s when she broke the news….. my program was cancelled.

Just like that. Cancelled. Gone. Done. Poof.

I tried to keep my cool, but Jesus, guys, I just couldn’t. As I type this I’m just remembering the whole scene so clearly. She was explaining to me that there were other programs and other options and that I could do all these other things… but that was the problem, they were other things. And my heart was so, so set on this. 

She explained that not enough students had signed up for the program and that it did not make sense for them financially to follow through with it, which I understood. Businesses have to do what they have to do to STAY in business, but this affected me so personally.

I choked out that I understood, accepted her apology, and tried to tell her I’d talk to her in the near future about refunds and all that.

The second I hung up the phone I started crying. This isn’t a huge deal, as I cry very easily and kind of a lot, but this was a type of crying I hadn’t experienced in a long, long time. I was shaking, barely breathing. I felt like I was hyperventilating. It felt similar to a panic attack, but with more heartache. If Seville was a person, they had just been stabbed to death in front of me.

I know this sounds dramatic, but this was how I felt at the time. I am not embarrassed by my reaction because I know how much this experience truly meant to me. And two days before my birthday it was just… gone.

I called my mom and managed to explain, but that phone call only lasted a minute or two because I couldn’t form my sentences without loudly sobbing into the phone. I went back to my booth and Bryan and Maya had the most confused, concerned looks on their faces. They comforted me they best they could and helped distract me for the remainder of the day.

My birthday came and passed and, yes, it was perfect, but when all the hubbub died down I remembered the new reality I had to accept and I was sick about it.

I searched for other programs and the deadlines had passed. My parents, bless them, felt so badly for me that they put the option of studying abroad over the Summer back on the table.

Sadly, all programs were either UC-only or didn’t offer the classes I needed and would force me to not graduate on time or started too early or there was some problem that prevented it from working out. And I was 100% sure that I wanted to spend all of my Senior Year AT my wonderful university. My options were zero.

I was so pissed it is almost funny in hindsight.

People who didn’t know about the change would start talking to me about how much fun I was going to have studying abroad and I would have to cut them off and explain. Conversations like the one I recounted at the beginning of this post started happening more frequently. And it seemed like everyone and their mother was getting accepted into programs for the Summer and Fall.

I tried to be happy for everyone, but it still stung.

Worst of all, thanks to Google’s ability to remember what you’ve searched and tailor the advertisements and posts you see to that, I was flooded with STUDY ABROAD THIS and STUDY ABROAD THAT. I was still on the CEA emailing list. Cal Poly was promoting their programs.

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But over time, I realized that moping about it would change absolutely nothing. I chose to change my attitude. I allowed myself to be sad sometimes, but I did let myself dwell on it for long. There were silver linings out there, I just had to find them.

And I did.

If I had been abroad Spring Quarter:

– I would have never ran for ASI Student Government and gotten elected onto the Board of Directors

– I would have never met one of my current mentors and role models

– I would not have gotten to go to Coachella

– I wouldn’t have been able to be in San Diego for my best friend’s 21st birthday

– I wouldn’t have developed stronger friendships with many people that I now consider good friends

– I wouldn’t have been able to attend Gamma Phi’s Daisy Project philanthropy or Sexual Assault Prevention Week at Poly

– I would’ve missed out on so many fun nights downtown, the Italian Wedding and 80’s Prom exchanges, and tons of events during the day

– I would not have explored spoken word at Cal Poly’s open mic nights (ATOG) and grown as a poet and person

The list could go on and on.

I had an amazing Spring Quarter of my Junior Year (ironically, what I had wanted to ensure from the start) and I can now see the ways I benefited from something that at one time felt like the end of the world.

I am proud to say that I learned from this experience, still reflect on it often, and have come out on the side that is stronger, happier, and more understanding of the fact that life will not always give me what I want.

Shit happens.

I guess… it’s what you do with that shit that matters?

Either way, I am extremely excited for what’s to come. I’ve already told many people about my plan for this Summer, but for those who don’t know, I’m getting my abroad experience after all. It’s just a tad different, but I’ve come to see it as better for me, and I have my incredible parents to thank.

My parents, brother, and I are departing from the U.S. in mid-August and going to Spain (mainly Barcelona) for a week and Greece for a week (where my parents will renew their vows.) Then my parents will fly home and my brother and I will take on six days traversing Italy. Then he will leave and I will be on my own while exploring France and England for ten days (but I will possibly be meeting up with friends along the way.)

I’m beyond grateful for this opportunity and because of all that’s happened, I have a much greater sense of appreciation for it. In hindsight, it all makes sense, even if it was rough getting here.

I will be gone for an entire month, exploring a side of the globe I have NEVER been to before, and I won’t have to study a bit while I’m there! I am blessed, there is no doubting that.

Every awkward conversation was worth it.

Pondering Poetry (Plus Some Actual Poems)

Back in October I shared some of my poetry with the expansive audience of the Internet for the first time.

It was extremely hard for me to do, as I had kept my more personal, poetic writings a secret since I first picked up a pencil for something other than a book report or cartoon drawing back in 6th grade.

But it was a very liberating experience and I got a lot of positive feedback that propelled my confidence in my creative writing and emotional expression at an exhilarating rate.

The support, compliments, and constructive criticism I received from strangers, family, peers, teachers, and friends allowed me to fully embrace my appetite both poetry AND finally pursue spoken word.

It took me three years of attending Cal Poly, but this past academic year I finally attended my first Another Type of Groove, or, ATOG, on campus.

ATOG is a monthly open mic hosted by the Cal Poly Multicultural Center and it is quite possibly one of the best events our campus has to offer… and the best part if that it’s ongoing! Not feeling super inspired in February? That’s fine. There’s another one in March! And April and May and, well, you get the point.

I have come to cherish these monthly open mics, which happen on the first Wednesday night of every month, like Christmas. Honestly, for a writer, it is. A chance to share some of my work with other people? People who are supportive, observant, sensitive, educated, passionate, brave, etc.? Sign me up! Like, forever.

While ATOG is open to guitarists, rappers, stand-up comics, beatboxers, and singers, I definitely take the most interest in the other spoken word poets, as they are learning to better the same craft as me and find solace in the same form of expression that I do. Together we share and we learn and we never judge.

I have this in my life now, along with the courage to share my poetry more freely, which I have even done one-on-one with another person (maybe definitely the scariest thing ever.) I am so grateful. And I wish I had gotten to this point sooner, but my timeline is my own and it is beautiful for being so.

A journal given to me by my dear friend, Ava, serves as the main place where I jot down my thoughts

A journal given to me by my dear friend, Ava, serves as the main place where I jot down my thoughts

The reason I am beginning this post with this short anecdote is because I think it’s important to consider the positive impact our support and kind words have on someone’s confidence and growth.

Given what I’ve been told by friends and family, most people perceive me as an extremely confident person.

While I agree and consider myself a very confident person, I have my moments. We all do. And we all have our roadblocks and fears. Although writing is one of my biggest passions, I faced severe mental obstacles for years when it came to letting anyone, even those close to me, read the words my mind and my heart had spit up onto the pages.

But after Going Out On A Limb I found that this community compromised of those who I know both in real life and through the Interwebs is far more kind, curious, accepting, interested, and appreciative than I had made it out to be in my head.

This brings me to today. Today marks Day #1 of the pact/bet that I made with my older brother, Ryan, about a week ago.

Both of us are very introspective and have a wide array of interests and passions. Both of us ask questions about ourselves and the people around us constantly. We both know we have figured out a lot about ourselves and still have so much more to learn. We both have blogs and we both support each other’s writing pursuits.

And we both agreed to write and publish one blog post every week of the summer, up to August 17th when we leave for an exciting vacation with our parents to Spain, Greece, and Italy (along with France and England for me.)

To hold ourselves accountable, if one of us does not publish a blog post before midnight on Tuesday of that week then we have to immediately Venmo the other $20.00. Being the semi-broke college student that I am, I’m seriously not trying to let it get to that point.

Thus was born today’s post!

I hope you gained something, even if just a reminder of the values you already hold, from what I had to say about how the small interactions we have make a big difference. And how taking one risk with sharing my work led to tons of support, which gave me the courage to discover things that would facilitate my growth as a writer and improve my overall happiness as a human being.

Below I have included some of my poems, notes, condensed thoughts, etc. Some of them were written in the middle of the night on my phone, some of them were written recently, some last year, some of them were scribbled down in my journal, and some were penned on a Guest Check from my work because inspiration hit me while on the job. Enjoy.

I Am The Waves (final edited version below)


Final edited version:

I study the waves

and I see myself

in the white, washed up chaos closest to the shore.

Bellying upwards, pushed and dragged forward by an invisible force.

The reason as elusive as the true blue of the water.

These waves are never truly settled,

never at peace.

Propelled again and again

And as soon as it seems the water may finally calm,

the force is there again

and all it lost

in the infernal blank sea.

November 9th



He’s the scab you know you shouldn’t pick,

but the temptation is always there.

The small, reddish brown, maggot shaped mark commands your gaze for a few seconds



and inevitably you find yourself wedging your fingernail

beneath your skin and free will.

You peel back your walls like dried blood,

freshly vulnerable like the exposed flesh

and for a moment your decision pleases you, but soon you remember it’s a wound.




Healing was not far away and now,

Now you’ve placed yourself back at the starting line.

The process repeats itself umpteenth times

until one day there is nothing left to pick at.

This is certain.

But know this,

The more times you go back and cave in,

the more likely you are to scar.

Saltwater Veins



They say, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

And I agree.

Tracing back, it took just one to kill me

One of Those Days


Soft Tacos and Sexism

In what was either a moment of finals week delirium or a stroke of sheer brilliance, I managed to work Taco Bell​ into my Women’s & Gender Studies final.

In the essay portion I was discussing pay discrimination and the Gender-Wage gap. I wanted to illustrate a real life situation where a woman making 77 cents for every dollar a man makes would be upsetting.

Before I could even fully comprehend what I was doing, my (already cramping) hand started writing out a full-on example.

The following is a paraphrased and improved version of what I wrote on my exam; thanks to T-Bell’s online menu and an online sales tax calculator website that looks like it was created in 1992.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 8.21.53 PMLet’s say a man and woman worked very little during one pay period. The man has $5.00, but due to the patriarc- I MEAN pay disparity- the woman only has $3.85 to spend.

They go to Taco Bell. With $3.85 the woman can get what? A Mexican Pizza? A Nacho Bellgrande?

These are hard times.

Let’s say she get’s a chicken quesadilla. That’s $3.29 and with tax she can still afford it with 29 cents to spare.

So, great, now she has some extra change to weigh her purse or pockets down. That blows. Actually, jk, if you live in San Luis Obispo then this is a good thing because there are parking meters FREAKING EVERYWHERE.

Pros and cons.


The dude on the other hand, he can get a Chicken Quesadilla AND the $1.19 Cheesy Nachos, this lucky bastard.

His total will come out to $4.85 and he too will have meter change. These guy gets TWO ITEMS. TWO! He’s set. If you are sober then this is the perfect amount of food.

But Lord knows the woman will down her chicken quesadilla in less than 5 minutes because they are nowhere near big enough and basically slide down your throat if you put on enough Mild Sauce.

Mr. Two-Item is going to take at least 10 minutes, in fact, it would be worth it for him to sit down and grab a water cup and people-watch while he’s at it.


I take my Taco Bell very seriously.

Anybody who was there when my mom accidentally ate my Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco on my 21st birthday knows this.

In fact, I signed a damn petition for there to be a taco emojii in the next line of of emojiis that are released (has there been any updates on this?? does anyone know???)

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 8.17.01 PMGo sign it.

In conclusion, when you think of 77 cents to the dollar it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but if you put it in a bigger perspective ($3.85 to the $5.00) then it is clear why the disparity in pay between genders is an issue.

^^ #sarcasm, but also, seriously.

In further conclusion, if you are reading this and comment with some BS about how I’m belittling the Gender-Wage gap, I swear to you I’m not.

Or if you are an Internet troll who wants to correct me on my Taco Bell menu knowledge or intensive mathematical calculations, just know that you are wrong.

Just kidding, you might be right. Because truth be told, I didn’t actually play out every item-price scenario (shocking I know) because, well, I have two more finals to go and I want to keep my GPA right where it is and asakd;ksfjhfhjsf I don’t answer to you.

Moral of the story: I want cheesy nachos too, assholes.

Two Years Ago Today, I Wanted To Drop Out Of College

I’ve been debating writing about this experience (a huge part of my life) for over a year and a half.

Since August 2014, I’ve written draft after draft and each time I convinced myself it wasn’t meant for the public eye. Now I see that it has just been my fear getting in the way of my truth. I’m ready to tell my story, I don’t care who sees.

Two years ago on this day there was a breaking point, fueled by the catalyst of college, that I consider the lowest point in my 21 years of living.

To be honest I’m not sure where to or how to start. There are so many things I want to say, but the first one is a quote. I think it best explains why I’m writing what I’m writing today.

Credit: @victoriasiemer

Credit: @victoriasiemer

Maya Angelou is 100% right. This story has gnawed away at me in ways both good and bad. Part of it haunts me as the hardest months of my life and reminds me of things I almost wish I could forget.

But if I forgot about my freshman year Fall and Winter quarters, I wouldn’t have the bevy of knowledge that I do, I wouldn’t have experienced immense self-growth, and I wouldn’t be who I am now.

It all started in my first journalism class, JOUR 203. This is the class that almost all journalism freshmen take their first quarter at Cal Poly. It consists of writing stories about news on Cal Poly’s campus. Sounds simple right?

That’s what I thought, too.

On day one of class my professor, Doctor Loving, told us that not everyone would pass the class. He said it was a rigorous, demanding course and that, “every quarter there are a few students who do not pass.”

I’m not kidding you, I laughed. My high school academic record boasted mostly A’s with a few B’s thrown in. B’s that I (literally) cried about when I received them because even SLIGHT imperfection had never been in my vocabulary.

And this was not something instilled in me by my parents. For as long as I can remember (about 4th grade) I have been 10x harder on myself and expected more from myself than anyone else.

I’m talking first place, team captain, teacher’s favorite, A+ standards. Standards that I inherently felt the need to measure up to. Immense pressure that I, and I alone, put on myself.

Accomplishments became a part of my identity, which I always thought was a good thing up until it came shattering apart… but I’m getting to that later.

Doctor Loving’s warning and JOUR 203 did not scare me because at the time, the idea of failure was genuinely humorous.

Prof Loving notices

A week later we were assigned “beats.” If you’re confused what that means, here’s Wikipedia’s definition:

“Beat reporting, also known as specialized reporting, is a genre of journalism that can be described as the craft of in-depth reporting on a particular issue, sector, organization or institution over time.”

Each student had a major assigned to them and that was their beat and lucky me got Aerospace Engineering. I was not stoked.

Doctor Loving explained the story process to our class… research your beat, find a story idea, do research, pitch story idea to him. IF he likes it then go choose three potential sources and write out 20 questions that you would ask your primary source, get those questions checked. IF they are approved then start scheduling interviews, do all of the interviews, write first draft, go on “the walk” with him and discuss your story angle and the information. IF he says no information is missing and you don’t need to conduct more interviews then he edits your draft, then you go back and redraft, meet with him again and again and draft and redraft until he determines that your article is publication-ready, but know that publication-ready does NOT equal an A.

Yeah. We were told we’d have to do five of these.

This is about the time I started sh*tting myself.

For the first time in my entire life I felt a genuine, scared nervousness that brought me physical discomfort and essentially froze my confidence and motivation in its tracks. The entire thing seemed impossible and my fear didn’t wake me up, it shut me down.

While all this was going on I was also going through sorority recruitment, running for dorm Hall Council, adjusting to dorm/college life, experiencing major homesickness, and dealing with my other three classes and the Honors Program.

I told myself I would get to the first story soon.

Week two came and went with me avoiding the AERO building and any work related to the stories. I did the rest of the required class readings and pop quizzes and did well, but the stories still loomed over me like suffocating fog that followed me everywhere.

Week three passed and I had done nothing but think about the possibility of me trying and horribly, horribly failing to get an A in the class. Somehow it made more sense to cower and hide than to face it.

think i might fail

Week four is when I started to hate myself for being so afraid.

6 weeks


This was not me. So, Week 5, I used every bit of courage and confidence I could manage to step up to the plate and try.

But I was scared. And I hated how different it was from high school. Why the hell couldn’t I approach this with ease? Why wasn’t I succeeding immediately?


I was so discouraged, so behind. I was facing the biggest mental block of my life. My emotions were all over the place. Things weren’t looking good for me, but, somehow, I stayed convinced I could make it. I had to.

i wont quit (week 5)

This is when the compulsive all-nighters began.

By Week 6 I still had not completed my first story. I felt as if I was stuck, sinking in quicksand, while I watched the person I used to be disappear. My sense of self and entire perception of who I was had shifted. I was a mess.

crying and failurehate the classI went home for Thanksgiving Break feeling hopeless, depressed, and worthless. I slowly drowned myself in a whirlpool of my negative, self-depricating thoughts. I eventually told my parents everything I was feeling and sobbed for hours on end. They helped me write out an email explaining to Doctor Loving why I needed to withdrawal from the class.

At the time, writing that email was the most embarrassing, painful, and difficult thing I had ever done. I thought I had hit rock bottom… but really, it was just beginning.

Break ended. I was back at Poly and feeling shitty about myself, but had a small tinge of hope that it might get better without 203 hanging over my head. When I visited Doctor Loving’s office to thank him for granting my withdrawal in person, he gave me one of the best pep talks of reassurance I have ever gotten.

I wanted  nothing more than to one day prove to him that I was capable.

loving <3

loving pt 2

Unfortunately, the weeks and weeks of constant stress, crying, all-nighters, going out, freshman dorm germs, etc. got to my body and I started to feel the repercussions of my choices.


no health, sleep cry repeat

Next thing I knew I was sleeping for 16 hours at a time during the week before finals.

This, my friends, was when the mono started to set in.

I’ll let Web MD fill you in, just in case you’ve never heard of this virus from hell that was a big part in ruining my life for 3 months and my immune system for, well, honestly up to this present day. I still have an impaired immune system and get sick very easily.

“The most common symptoms of mono are a high fever, a severe sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and tonsils, and weakness and fatigue.” 

Sounds fun, right? Well, I managed to survive finals and make it back home for Winter break. I felt fine my first day back and thought, “maybe it was just a stress cold or something?”

No. That first day back was just a fluke of a seemingly healthy day before I was bed-ridden for two weeks and started to fall deeper into the illness and into my own thoughts, which were dark and sad at the time after everything Fall Quarter put me through.

alone miserable

cant sleep lymph nodes

cant eat, cant drink, crying

After two weeks of what felt like mono + strep + chronic fatigue + the flu + eternal loneliness, I pulled myself together for a pretty good Christmas. It is notable, given where this story goes later, that I started taking new birth control pills at this time. Anyways, I started to regain my physical health and was able to go back to Cal Poly for Winter Quarter.

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The days when good blood work results brought me the most joy.

First class of the quarter? Monday. 8am. JOUR 203.

I was shaking on the first day when I walked in, but I had my best friend in the dorms taking the class with me and that provided a small sense of comfort.  Still, I was feeling something I had never felt before in my life.


During my three weeks of laying in bed, I was so physically sick and mentally and emotionally unwell, that I had a lot of time to dwell on my failure and academic insecurities. When I returned to 203 I found myself, once again, unable to approach the class or any of my coursework without experiencing immense anxiety.

The type that you can feel in every inch of your skin, the type that lights your gut on fire. It’s the lump in your throat and your mind racing and chest pounding all at once.

It took the form of long, drawn-out anxiety attacks before, during, and after class that made me question if anything else would ever make my heart beat that fast again. It even occasionally took the form of panic attacks that snuck up on me without warning and caused me to have to leave the classroom or my dorm room at any given moment.

winter quarter sadnessanxiety beginningsThat tangible reality was failure, no matter how many people tried to convince me that “withdrawal is not synonymous with failing.”

Still, I tried to force myself to start researching my new beat, Kinesiology, which I was grateful for because it seemed easier to grasp that Aerospace Engineering. I managed to find a few story ideas, but couldn’t make it past that. The idea of interviewing people and then the dreaded drafting process left me paralyzed.

Two or three weeks passed and I realized that I was doing the exact. same. thing. as last quarter… letting my fear control me. Only this time, it had my anxiety by its side, too. Together, they dictated every move I made, or rather, the moves I wasn’t making.

The only bright side was that I was feeling better physically. I was so happy to have some of my health back that I took advantage of it around the time of my birthday (Jan. 21st) and started going out and partying again on the weekends.

Around this time I noticed that I was a lot moodier than usual, more sensitive, and had a harder time enjoying myself, but I chalked it up to recovering from everything I went through mentally and emotionally over the past months.

I figured it would subside. After all, it felt so good to be social after what felt like an eternity of solitude over break. In hindsight this was such a poor decision. More super late nights AND activities that inhibit your immune system from doing it’s job?? While recovering from mono?!

Clearly, my decision-making skills were severely underdeveloped.

And old habits die hard.

so scared, yearning for cptv

But things started to look up, too. Early in the first week of February I actually conducted one interview for a story! It seems so insignificant, but at the time it was the most important and brave thing I had done in months.

I mean, it legitimately took me half an hour of pacing back and forth in front of the KINE Department and calling my mom to overcome my debilitating nerves and go find my source.

When I finished the interview and left the building the first thing I did was cry tears of joy. Everybody outside of Campus Market was staring at me, but I didn’t even care. I felt strong for the first time since  September. I had hope.

scared, will conquer

The funny thing about getting sick though, is that sometimes it just waits until that moment when you’ve almost gotten your life back on track a little bit, then it strikes.

This applies to physical, mental, and emotional sickness.

The moodiness, sadness, and sensitivity I began feeling in late January had been getting worse. A few days after my interview success, I started to really feel like I was falling into a depression and, once again, stumbling back into the illness that drove me nearly insane only a month and a half earlier.

all the pain, mess, feb.

But the idea of having mono again was too much to handle. I panicked. I pushed it out of my mind. I kept dancing. I volunteered. I forced it out of my head. I pretended I was fine. I acted 99% of my day. I went out. I went to meetings. I even went to class, most of the time, but the whole time I felt like a ghost watching my body go through life from the outside.

This is where the tipping point came about.

A guy asked me to be his valentine and accompany him to a Valentines Day party. I said yes, because I had myself convinced that I was okay.

Even though I’d been consistently coughing all day, crying all night, and failing at making any progress in 203 all over again.

The night came, I got dressed up, took as much Ibuprofen as the bottle directions allowed, we went to the party, and I went home to my dorm room at the end of the night and fell asleep.

(WARNING: Graphic) I woke up from not being able to breathe. I was choking on the phlegm in my throat, coughing so hard that I spit up a little blood. My entire face and head felt heavy. I could not inhale or exhale without feeling the stickiness of my lungs and pain in my torn-up throat. I felt like my neck was swelling. I couldn’t go more than five minutes without needing to cough up into a tissue. My trash can was overflowing. And I was alone.

My roommate was out of town for the three day weekend. So was my best friend in the dorms. So was my RA. I didn’t trust anyone else to see me like this. I didn’t want anyone else to see me in such a disgusting and vulnerable state.

Once again, here I was sick and alone. Just like mono.

That’s when I finally stopped pretending. I admitted to myself how unwell I was. And I broke down. I opened a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream, hoping its coldness would numb my throat and the softness wouldn’t hurt it, and also partially hoping that my favorite dessert would make me feel even a tiny bit better.

It didn’t. I put it away.  I cried. I tried to sleep. I couldn’t. Too much coughing. Too much pain. I cried more. The crying made me cough more, which made me cry more. I bawled into my pillow and screeched from the pain in my throat. I was so embarrassed of myself and so ashamed.

I asked myself, “How the hell is this what you’ve become? You’re alone and in bed and crying. And pathetic. You’re sick again because you’re stupid. This is you’re fault. And you’re going to fail again. You’re never going to stop this cycle.”

I laid in bed for the rest of the day, wrestling with my depressive thoughts. Hours passed and I grappled with this new self, deliriously accepting my new identity– a girl full of misery, guilt, and failed attempts at almost everything. I was convinced I would drop out in the middle of the quarter. Maybe not come back at all. Clearly, I wasn’t ready for college. I needed to leave.

Every part of my being wanted to call my mom or my dad and say, “Please. Please come drive down to SLO. I need you to help me. I’m really not doing well and I can’t make it better. I don’t know what to do. Please come help me.”

But I was too ashamed and felt guilty for becoming this person who had to resort to that. I dialed so many times. I couldn’t call. I physically, mentally, and emotionally could not bring myself to call my parents and tell them what was happening. Too hard. Too humiliating.

Eventually, night time came around and I started feeling even worse. I felt like the world was getting smaller around me, like nothing existed outside of a circumference of a few feet of my body. It was dark outside. I felt dark inside. I felt dark everywhere. I grew even more scared. I knew my cycle of negative thoughts would worsen at night.

I didn’t know what would happen. So, I used what little energy I had to pick up my phone one more time. I called one of my closest friends on this Earth, and the most rational person I know, David Cordero.

I told him everything I could manage.

I told him to call my parents and that I couldn’t. He told me he would. I told him I needed them to come down. He told me they would. I told him I was sorry and he told me he loved me and that I needed to sleep.

I hung up. I cried myself to sleep.

February 16th, 2013.

I woke up to my phone ringing. I already had a few missed calls– from the home phone and my mom’s phone. My mom was calling and I picked up. I remember her sounding so worried, but trying to sound so reassuring. She asked if I was okay and told me that my dad was already driving down and would be with me in a couple of hours and that she would be down later that night. I could barely speak because of my throat pain and because I was holding back tears.

Everything after that blurs together a little bit. It happened so fast and I was barely a conscious, functioning human for most of it.

I fell back asleep, woke up to my dad opening the door to my room, him helping me get dressed and pack a bag, him taking me to the emergency MED STOP, and finding out I had sinusitis, bronchitis, and an upper respiratory infection all at the same time. Getting a Z-pack, going to the hotel room in Avila Beach that my parents reserved only hours earlier, my mom arriving, telling them everything, slowly falling asleep, and them promising me that I could sleep in in the morning and that we would go sit on the beach and watch the waves. That was all I wanted. I fell asleep.

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They woke me up at freaking 9:00am. Because they found a highly-reccommended therapist in San Luis Obispo who had an opening at 10:00 that morning. I was beyond myself. I had agreed to get help, but not today.

But they wanted to meet him, they didn’t want to wait, so they helped me get ready, we got in the car, and I drifted in and out of the car ride from Avila to downtown SLO.

My first meeting with Ben (name changed for his privacy) did not go well at first. Mostly because I could not speak, I kept coughing and crying, and I hated that he was the reason I had to be up so early in the midst of a mental breakdown. So, my parents sat with me and explained everything.

I was not impressed with Ben until he pointed out something that no one had thought of. Remember the birth control I started at the beginning of January? Yeah, one of its most common side effects, mood swings.

Not that “mood swings” even begins to cover what I went through, but the fact that he confirmed that it was heavily contributing to the feelings of depression was enough to change my opinion of him. I realized he was really weighing all the options and wanted to get to the bottom of how I ended up in this place and how we were all going to get me out of it.

I stopped taking the pills that day. I went back to the hotel with my parents for the rest of the afternoon where they took care of me and helped me write an email to acquire an “Incomplete” in 203. Incompletes are only allowed in situations where the student has legitimate physical or mental needs/issues/concerns that prevent them from completing the coursework on time. I had both. I was given a year to complete the remaining work for 203.

Then we talked in-depth about whether or not I should stay at Poly. Obviously, I did, but I went home the next weekend for more rest and returned the following Monday with a prescription for Prozac to help me cope with my anxiety. And I swear, this helped so, so much. It helped me stay in control and on top of everything without feeling overwhelmed.  When the last of the birth control pills were out of my system it felt like the colors around me were brighter and the world wasn’t so harsh anymore. The difference was extremely noticeable.  And I saw Ben once a week.

feeling capable

February 27th, 2013

February 27th, 2013

February 2014.

I no longer felt the need to see Ben or take Prozac after completing my remaining coursework in 203 at the end of Winter Quarter of my sophomore year. I completed two stories (interviews, drafts, and all) and finished the class with a C after a year and a half. I was so freaking proud. I still am.


Since then my GPA has done nothing but rise and my confidence in myself in what I am capable of has done nothing but soar. It’s an incredible feeling when I look back on all of this.

There have been many times that I’ve told this story in person, to different people and for different reasons, all of which have led me to finally writing it down and posting it here.

I’m putting this story, one of my many, infinite stories, on my blog because I’m not ashamed anymore. And I’m not embarrassed. I am in a place in my life where I feel comfortable and willing to sharing this with anyone. Even strangers.

Because everyone deserves to know that their struggles are not singular. That there are people out there who understand and will be there for you. Maybe someone out there needs a reminder or a push. I hope this can be that reminder or push for them.

If you need help, seek it. If you went through a rough time, don’t assume people see you as damaged. You are allowed to share whatever you want with the world. Me, personally, I don’t feel damaged. I feel strong and open and free. Writing this has helped me become even more free and I would love for it to inspire others to seek furthered freedom, as well.

Maya Angelou was right. I feel better now.

* in order to find the tweets used in this post I archived my old (now non-existent) Twitter account that I used to use frequently and as an outlet for almost every emotional experience

Going out on a limb

Twice in the last week, I’ve run into one of my favorite and most talented, brilliant professors.

His name is Doctor James Cushing.

Fall Quarter of my sophomore year, I took his incredible course on “Poetry Writing”, which to this day is one of my favorite classes I’ve taken in my time at Cal Poly.

I have always loved writing, in all forms, and had a special interest in poetry, despite the fact I MAJORLY struggled with it in AP Literature in high school.

But I signed up for his course because I knew that I didn’t know as much as I wanted to about poetry. I was excited to take the class and it exceeded my expectations. The course completely revamped my idea of how to approach poetry writing and just poetry in general.

I learned about abstract ways to find inspiration.

I learned that if a poem doesn’t leave you feeling changed afterwards then it probably wasn’t that great.

I learned that “the subject matter is locked inside the students.”

I learned that the author and the narrator are not always the same person.

Dr. Cushing let us know up front, “the purpose of this course is to lead you out of the rooms you’re used to being in.”

Naturally, this bothered me.

As human beings we instinctively avoid embarrassment, vulnerability, and unfamiliar situations. We don’t want to see what’s in the “other room.”

Our regular room is fine! It has soft couches and chocolate chip cookies and steady wifi and all my friends and happy music playing and kind of smells like laundry when it’s fresh out of the dryer! This room is awesome. Why would I want to leave it?

Because we don’t have a choice. Eventually we have to. That’s where we grow.

Thanks, Pinterest

As much as I loved poetry (or what I thought poetry was at the beginning of the class), the unknown scared me.

And at the time, Dr. Cushing’s idea of being open about my life, emotions, and opinions in my poetry writing didn’t enthuse me. I had a rough freshman year. I kept it mostly private. I wasn’t ready or at all stoked to talk about it.

But on Day 1 Dr. Cushing called me out on something… something that (deep down) I knew to be true about myself, no matter how much I disliked admitting it.

I don’t even recall how the topic came up, but I was participating in an all-class discussion, and front of the whole class he told me that I was “scared of people not liking me” or my writing.

Like, what the hell.

I was embarrassed, livid, amazed, shocked, and almost relieved all at once.

I realized that although I wasn’t fully comfortable being my usual “open book” self at the time, I couldn’t help the fact that I simply was and always have been/would be.

I’m easier to read than a stop sign the size of Mount Everest.

Before we had even been in the class for an hour, Dr. Cushing found what would hold me back from sharing my thoughts, my work and, honestly, myself in his class… my fear of people making assumptions or harsh judgements.

He was 100% right.

I sucked it up, pushed past my fears, and from there on out the class was an overall amazing experience. I mean, it wasn’t easy breezey (CoverGirl!), but I came every night with a huge desire to learn and write more and push myself creatively.

At the end of the course, we turned in a final portfolio of our best work and poems of all kinds.

The rest of the year went on and I kept writing whenever I found the time or was suddenly overcome with emotion and inspiration. I loved it and there were many times were I wanted to share my poetry publicly…

but I made excuses.

Something about poetry is different. It’s not a typical opinion piece, it’s not my choreography, it’s not my stream of consciousness on a Facebook status.

But it’s important to me that I take the chance of sharing something that I’m proud of. Even if I know it’s not my strongest talent and that I have endless room within the passion to grow.

Seeing Dr. Cushing a few times in this past week reminded me that my poems still haven’t seen the light of day. Until now.

And as I said in a past post, “Here’s to trying to keep it real and not being afraid of giving it a shot.”

( for the longer poems that are hard to read, you can click them and it will bring it to full size )

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This last one was too long to fit into a screenshot…

.“Last Night I Went To The Map of San Luis Obispo and I Have Messages For You”

Bishops Peak gave me a postcard for you to remember it by

I misplaced it.

I’m sorry.

SLO DO CO mentioned it hadn’t seen you in awhile.

I said you were on a diet.

If you ever get a chance, Mother’s Tavern insisted on a visit.

It was awkward when Bulls forgot who you were.

I said not to worry about it,

You don’t remember many nights there anyways

(you don’t want to)

Apparently there’s still a desk with your name

on the fourth floor of Robert E. Kennedy Library

Avila’s shore told me not to say this above a whisper,

Thank you for letting me be the inception of your addiction

What is it talking about?

Grand Avenue asked about your mom,

I didn’t think it was my place to say.

The center of attention was The Madonna Inn.

Not much has changed.

I didn’t see the Architecture Graveyard.

I don’t know if it even showed up.

I think that’s all. Oh wait, the sunset.

It said the same thing as last time

and I gave it my word I would repeat it,

                        Do you miss us?

                                                            Do you know how to get home?

What’s happening in Ferguson right now (Spoiler Alert: I’m MAD)

My heart breaks and my head fumes. There are so many terrible and terrifying things happening.

I have a some facts, links, and opinions to share and a lot of grief that I, and millions of others, are feeling.

First of all, my heart goes out to friends and family of Mike Brown and to the rightfully sad and angered citizens of the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, and all others affected.

To those in the community, I cannot fully understand your pain, but I, with you, believe there should be justice and want to do my best to help.

The best way I know how to help is to write and to share. I want everyone to know what is happening in OUR country. To OUR citizens.

It is our silent compliance or our strong and protesting voices that will determine the future.

I aim to supply you with some resources to gain information and perspective.

Yes, I have my opinions on the events and I am not afraid to share them, but what is more important to me is that people can look at the facts and evidence and decide for themselves.

So, I will tell you how I feel in this post (towards the end), but please know that my main goal here is for you (and anyone you share this with) to better grasp what’s going on in Missouri right now.

There is death where there need not have been, rights being straight up violated, both peaceful and violent protesting occurring, and a lot of rubber bullets and tear gas from the now-Public Enemy #1, St. Louis Police Department, or STLPD. 

Trust me, I know, it is hard to get good, accurate information. I know that people distrust news media and I will admit, as a journalism student, that different outlets have given you many reasons to do so… but I encourage you to persist in seeking information about these events.


This article is one of the most easy-to-follow and informative (yes, it’s biased, I’m letting you know) I have found and I think it highlights a lot of the police brutality and has good videos and pictures to help you truly SEE what’s going on:

Jezebel has a lot of really, really good and different topic-focused articles in relation to what’s happening in Ferguson right now and they are constantly updating and publishing. 

Next, the ever-expanding Twitter feed linked to the hashtag #Ferguson:

The continuously updated and extremely helpful live Reddit feed, which is providing links to informative tweets and press releases and quotes from state and national officials:

This is a video of the live stream from yesterday:

Even outside of Brown’s death and the unprovoked attacks on the protesting crowds, there are disturbing and shocking things happening.

I am EXTREMELY upset that news crews trying to cover the protests and riots have been told to and forced to leave by police, tear gassed, and arrested for reasons like “trespassing at a McDonalds.”

These journalists are DOING THEIR JOB and trying to help those of us in other cities and states and countries find out what’s going on. It is their job and their right to report on these events and get the FACTS to the PEOPLE.

I understand that if they fail to comply with orders to disperse from an area or leave an establishment they can be arrested. But it is no secret that the STLPD are pushing the boundaries here and clearly aiming more towards clearing the area of journalists who can showcase their unlawful actions.

Rights are being completely disregarded. Freedom of speech? Freedom of press? Has anybody heard of these???

This entire ‘shutting the media out’ thing is literally making me think of the Hunger Games when the districts start to rebel and President Snow gets the broadcasts shut off so that the other districts don’t see the reality of what’s happening. 

He blocks the citizens from watching protests and riots. Covers up the anger and disorder. Allows excessive force. Tries to stop videos and other coverage from leaking. Punishes protestors. Hides the truth.

Isn’t that exactly what we’re seeing here?

There’s the “No Fly Zone” above the Ferguson area, which is claimed to ensure a “safe environment for law enforcement activities.” Still, reporter Lucy McCalmont reminds us that really “law enforcement seeks to restrict access by news media with helicopters.”

There’s Antonio French, who has been constantly live-tweeting the events, and filmmaker, Ryan Frank… both recently arrested

It’s absolutely terrifying.

And I’ve been reminded, there’s so much more to it than just what I’ve listed and gone into here. There are bigger issues that are embedded in our society that play a part.

This is an article pointing out the blatant racism and other institutionalized problems that black men and women are still facing today (the author chose “black” instead of “African American” and I am doing so here to respect her terminology):

Again, there are hundreds of articles, pictures, posts, videos, tweets, etc. available at your fingertips if you’re reading this. You’re either on your phone or computer. You literally have access to whatever information has been put out there.

The resources and links I’ve given in this post are just some of the ones that helped me grasp what’s going on and are now helping me stay up-to-date. 

I’ll leave you with this… I encourage everyone to stay in the loop, seek other news outlets beyond traditional media, and not be afraid to speak up against what seems wrong and unlawful to you.

You have a voice. Use it.


“In Defense of Social Media and In Hopes of Vulnerable Reality”

Yesterday I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline, nothing out of the ordinary.

And I came across a link that a friend had shared, accompanied by their caption declaring that the attached video was scarily accurate in how it depicted “everything that is wrong with our generation”… which, again, is really nothing out of the ordinary.

I see these posts all. the. time.

Honestly, I don’t think I can go a week without seeing some new, over-exaggerated and overdramatic video that is supposed to convince me that the technology I use everyday is nothing but detrimental to my life.

People have tried to claim so many things about my generation and the things we do that are supposedly destroying our lives.

We are “addicted to social media”, “isolated”, “self-absorbed”, “unable to communicate in person”, “living all of our lives online,” etc.

It really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I disagree with the above statements (in most cases.)

Social media and the Internet and advanced technology, like most things, cannot be shoved into one box and labeled as “BAD.”

And I say this as someone who is fully aware of and not afraid to admit her heavy online/social media use and presence. I mean, come on, it was #1 on my list of “11 Things I Will Not Apologize For.”

You see, I refuse to listen to these people/videos/articles saying things like “Snapchat is just for teens to send nude pictures to each other,” when in reality it’s literally 96% ugly selfies (a statistic I have just made up right now.)

I refuse to believe that texting has turned me into some sort of humanoid that is unable to have a face-to-face conversation.

I refuse to believe that posting selfies automatically means that you’re insecure. If you really think selfies are always cries for help, then I worry for you. Actually, I think a good rule of thumb is to simply not trust anyone who has anything negative to say about selfies, ever.

Now, before I continue, allow me to clarify a couple things:

     1) I do believe that some issues exist within the ways we consistently rely on technology         and how we present ourselves to the Internet, AKA: the world

     2) But I define “we” as everyone who regularly engages in social media, not just people          in my generation (here’s lookin’ at you too, digital immigrants!)

I am a digital native, more popularly known as a “millennial.”

This means that I grew up in a time where technology was rapidly advancing and thus, I have been able to understand it naturally, adapt to it more quickly, and I am more likely to engage in social media or buy an iPad or whatever.

For comparison, digital immigrants are those people out there who are more likely to print out their emails, say things like “Are you on The Twitter?” and sign their name at the bottom of a Facebook comment (we KNOW you posted it, it says your name RIGHT. THERE.)

A relevant “Baby Blues” comic strip

Us millennials are known as the generation of instagrammers, snapchatters, tweeters, tinderers (is that even a thing? well it is now) and, of course, hashtaggers. According to The Society Pages, a millennial is defined as anyone born after 1980.

Personally, I believe that growing up right in the heart of Silicon Valley, a couple streets down from Apple Headquarters, has made me what I like to call a “super millennial.”

I have been strongly influenced by the community I grew up in. One that was and still is thriving in a world of modern technology and innovation.

As a result, I love social media. I loved it from the second I had access to it.

Unfortunately, that access was delayed because in 6th grade I was not allowed to have a MySpace account, which made middle school even more of a hell than it already was.

But at my 8th Grade Graduation dinner at TGI Fridays, my parents taped a picture of my face to the top of a book… their special (and weird) way of telling me that I was now allowed to create a Facebook and connect with my friends in a medium other than AOL Instant Messenger! There was a God.

I’m honestly thankful they restricted me from it until then because I never had to deal with “Top 8” drama and there are less pictures of me in my awkward years on the Internet (but some are too good to resist sharing.)

Since that fateful day I have made an Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, two Twitters, and I have started this blog.

I have posted statuses about making my high school dance team and getting into various colleges, uploaded pictures from birthday parties, tweeted about my family vacations, instagrammed my favorite outfits, and shared a lot of my best moments with family, friends, and even strangers (my Instagram is public.)

This is where we get to the idea that I’ve been leading up to. It’s what sparked something in me after watching the video that I mentioned at the very beginning of this blog post.

We tend to share those all these happy moments, but what’s so wrong with that?

Before watching the video that my friend shared, my answer was “nothing”… and after watching it my answer is still “nothing.”

The video below has a point that it’s trying to make. I get why they wanted to share this message and where there is validity in it, but instead of leaving me feeling educated with a nugget of shocking, insightful wisdom, I was frustrated by its exaggerated, unnecessary pessimism.

Please, feel free to watch:


Whether you agree with what I’ve previously said or not, it’s easy to see where I am coming from.

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve seen a video like this, either.

If you remember the “Look Up” video that was widely shared a few months back, that’s another example of a video that subtly demonizes my beloved iPhone.

However, that video was really well done, I must admit. The storyline, videography, and editing, I liked it a lot. Especially when he says that we “share our best bits, but leave out the emotion.”

I appreciated the overall message they tried to convey, but a lot of the spoken word piece was melodramatic and made too broad of claims.

Ex: “We’re a generation of idiots. Smart phones and dumb people.”

Really? Smartphone users are dumb? Clever line, man. But…. really?

Nene gets it

Still, it was better than the first one because at least it knew how to make its point in a believable way. “Look Up” never got to a point where I rolled my eyes at the excessive negativity and vast assumptions in relation to human nature.

And yes, I know, I know. They exaggerate in order to make their points. But if these points are supposedly that prevalent and clear, why do it to that (annoying) extent?

I think what it comes down to is that I have a really big issue with the idea that social media is completely evil and falsely portrays our lives.

As if the world was this endless pit of lies and depression and poorly filtered photos of our feet in a bathtub with #ilovemylife as the caption, even though our dog died and we’re eating our fifth bowl of Top Ramen in two days.

Believe it or not, sometimes people are honest on the Internet (sorry, Dateline and Catfish, but it’s true.)

Newsflash to anyone who thinks the “What’s On Your Mind” video is our reality!

Sometimes if someone had a shitty week or month or couple of months or year, they choose not to cover it up and are open about it online and they DON’T lose all of their Facebook friends!

Shocking, I know.

Bad days (or years) happen and that’s totally okay. It’s also okay for the individual to choose whether or not they want to share that via social media.

If something not-so-awesome happens in your life and you wish to talk about it online, you literally have a right to do so and, I think, shouldn’t have to feel nervous or judged when doing so.

Online social norms aren’t always there because they are for the best, sometimes they’re kind of f****d up.

If you’re experiencing pain and you cope with that best by not sharing it, by all means do not feel pressure to post about it.

If you’re like the guy in the video and try make the problems in your life better by posting skewed and overly excited statuses, you can do that. I do not recommend it, but it’s your life, not mine.

I would encourage you to share because, in my personal opinion, it’s healthier, but it’s not my job to tell you when and how to share your feelings.

It can be scary.

I get scared every time I share my latest blog post on Facebook. Because sometimes I say controversial things or I share something more vulnerable and I make myself an easy target.

But I truly believe that people ARE capable of being honest about pain online, they do it everyday, and when they do their peers don’t shun them.

In the video we see the guy’s life get worse and worse as he goes through a breakup and loses his job, but continues to make it all sound great online. In the final bit he posts an honest complaint that his life sucks and it shows his Facebook friend clicking the “Hide All Posts From Timeline” button.

Here is my response to anyone who genuinely thinks this is an accurate portrayal of our generation: Are. You. Serious?

So, now I’m lying every single time I post a status saying I had a great day at work or enjoying some time at the beach? Oh, and we all try to block out posts from anybody who dares to show a shred of realness?

That’s ridiculous.

Let me be happy and post about it and not have to feel paranoid that people will think I’m lying.

And if I’m upset about a class I’m taking or had a rough day or lost a loved one, let me be sad and post about it.

And finally, if I don’t want to post anything, I won’t.

Freedom of speech, y’all. First amendment, come on. We know this.

*there are exceptions to the first amendment, but I’m not getting into all that here because what matters is that you understand the basic point I’m making

At the end of the day, the choice is ours and no matter who tries to convince you of correlations between social media and being selfish/isolating yourself from your peers/needing social affirmation for confidence/etc., you still get to make that decision.

Again, the reality is, some of these studies and articles have truth to them. I’m really not one to completely deny well-done research and science, but I still question things.

I don’t doubt that how we present ourselves online is influenced by how we want others to view us. Vulnerability is scary. But I cannot blindly agree with every study I hear about and every video I watch and accept it as truth.

Because I’m not that naive bunny character from “Arthur.”


So, if you don’t want to be like the guy in the “What’s On Your Mind?” video, then don’t be. If you want to “look up” more, then do it. I encourage that.

But don’t tell me that our generation is “always this” or “always that” and expect me to agree with you. Because I will not be put in a box.

I go on Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter daily, but I also have a life.

I have great relationships with my mom, dad, brother, boyfriend, sorority sisters, high school friends, college friends, classmates, co-workers, etc. I talk on the phone, I talk in person, I maintain eye contact and conversations, I have two jobs and work hard, I can focus and do well in school, I go out with friends, I go outdoors and adventure and explore. I can live without my phone. We all can.

Being active online and engaging in social media does not make me or anyone else a robot.

We feel.

And I am actively pushing myself to not be afraid of being open about those feelings online. People will disagree with what I have to say sometimes and that’s perfectly fine. I appreciate and pursue discussions where all sides have a chance to share, where respect is maintained, and where everyone truly tries to understand the different opinions.

These discussions are so important for growth and, for lack of a better phrase, keeping it real.

Real people experience a wide and wavering spectrum of emotions that are subject to change at any moment. We all feel happy, sad, angry, sensitive, loved, jealous, excited, confused, curious, and inspired and thousands of other ways.

And nobody can tell me that I’m not allowed to share these feelings.

Sometimes I’m feeling lost and questioning who I am and I express that on Facebook—maybe because it’s how I’m choosing to vent/cope or maybe it’s because I want to spark a conversation and exchange ideas.

Sometimes I want to Instagram a selfie, not because I’m searching for validation of my appearance, but because I feel like I look good that day and want to take a damn picture.

Real people feel.

And we have the power to disregard anything that shames us or guilts us into believing that there is something wrong with being open about our feelings or our insecurities or our confidence.

So, here’s to trying to keep it real.

And not being afraid of giving it a shot.

“Only For Now” 2.23.14


I am sick to my stomach with anger,

fuming at the inconsistency of human values.

You see, sometimes I’m scrolling through Facebook or eating dinner or trying to fall asleep, and I remember.

We live in a world where people are raped. Every day.

Where people are stolen from. Not just their money or the expensive jewelry in their dresser,

but their identity.

Or their own children.

Girls and boys and women and men starve themselves.

They look in the mirror and hate themselves.

Our skin is inked with blood that the sharp edges of our thoughts forced to kiss the oxygen in the air.

It makes my head hurt.

I believe in so much good. I believe in acceptance and forgiveness and, most of all, love.

I believe humans are intrinsically good.

I believe in God.

But I don’t always understand why He lets my family members get cancer. Or why He lets my friends suffer through depression or develop schizophrenia or experience a sexual assault.

Why do wives get beaten?

Why is a marriage between two men or two women valid in one state and not in another?

Why are there hit-and-runs and serial killers and why is there no law mandating paid leave for mothers of newborns?

God, for a world that offers so much sunshine, why are there some days where I can only see dark, gray clouds?

Days where I want, so badly, to love the world,

but I can’t.

Sarah Kay, a spoken word poet that used to pay visits to my high school, wrote a poem to her future daughter and said,

“No matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal.”

There are days where I fear this is true.

There are days where I know it is.

I exist in a time where I am scared. I exist in a time where I’m scared that there will be no parking on my street, as I drive home from the library after midnight, because I don’t want to have to park around the corner and walk down a street alone at night.

But there are nights where I have to.

I have to put my ‘big girl pants’ on and hold my keys tight in my left hand, ready to jab, and my phone in my right, ready to dial 911 should anyone mistake me for a weak, unprepared college girl.

And I walk in the middle of the street. Because Emilie Autumn taught me that the odds are actually in my favor,

“In the States, someone is killed in a car accident on average every 12.5 minutes, while someone is raped on average every 2.5 minutes.” 

So, to the middle of the street I go and I exhale with relief when I am inside with the door locked shut.

The door to my thoughts, however, is not as easily closed once it is opened.

Most days I see the sun when it beams down on my skin.

I smile on my walk to class, I sing to myself, and I feel confident for the world we live in and where we can take it in the many years to come.

The other days come swiftly, without warning, and intercept all optimism and productivity.

I fight them with all I have.

They tell me, “There are terrible diseases that have no cure.”

I tell them, “No cure yet.”

They tell me, “That friend is gone, you will never see them again.”

I tell them, “They are waiting for me somewhere else.”

They tell me, “The world is full of pain.”

I tell them, “Only for now.” 

Courtesy: Pintrest