2015 Grammys: Snoozefest until Kanye acted like Kanye

I look forward to The Grammys every single year because of my love my music. Even though The Grammys fail to recognize hundreds of talented and deserving artists, it is still the one night of the year that the industry brings all genres of music together under one roof. Music is a common thread among people of all races, cultures and beliefs and we all share the love for this creative outlet.

The evening was particularly boring, to say the least, until the last award. But let’s rewind to some of the show’s earlier performances. AC/DC started the evening, which was odd to me. Hi, how old are you? Their prime has long past. I was not into it. Madonna was Madonna and she did everything I thought she would. I really feel like I can’t criticize her because she basically created nearly every female pop artist after her. Ariana Grande had a super boring ballad. I cannot stand that girl. She does no annunciate her words when she sings. It’s like she sings with peanut butter on the roof of her mouth.

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Ed Sheeran was really great with John Mayer, but it was another slow song. I was hoping he was going to do “Don’t” or “Sing” and then John Mayer would have done some cool, funk riffs, but oh well, it was still great. Gwen Stefani showed us all that she should not sing anything except her own No Doubt or solo career songs. Paul McCartney with Kanye and Rihanna was so uncomfortable. It felt super fake and forced. You had the living Beatle legend looking classy with his guitar, yet his mic seemed to be off. Then Kanye is over on the other side grabbing himself, while Rihanna awkwardly flaps her arms around and bobs to the song. Sometimes genres really shouldn’t collide and this was a great example. Just thinking about that performance again makes me cringe.

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Annie Lennox and Hozier were spectacular. They were the perfect duo with their strong, powerful voices. “Put a Spell On You” was SUCH a good mix with the dark lyrics of “Take Me to Church.” That was probably my favorite performance of the night. Sia’s “Chandelier” was another one of my favorites. I love love LOVE this woman and her music. I understand her unique artistry and loved that Maddie was there again to perform with her. Kristen Wiig was definitely a shocker, but I kinda liked it. Lastly, from my list of memorable performances, was “Stay With Me.” When you put Mary J. Blige with Sam Smith you know that something beautiful is about to be created and it was UH-mazing.

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Back to the most interesting part of the evening: the Album of the Year Grammy. The gut-wrenching feeling of Kanye running up to steal Beck’s thunder like Taylor was felt across America. How rude, disrespectful, immature, low, and just all around ridiculous of Kanye to ALMOST do that again. I was not laughing, I was in shock. It was almost worse by not actually saying anything right then and there and just scurrying back to his seat. The attention went to him and that’s what he wanted, in my opinion.

I know a few Beck songs here and there from his past records. I did some more research on him and listened to the winning album, Morning Phase. I have nothing but mad love for that guy. People were comparing his win to Martin Scorsese finally getting Best Director with The Departed after so many years of great films. Beck has 12 studio albums and now 5 Grammys after last night’s 3 wins. He’s no stranger to the art of music, much like Kanye would like to believe. Some of the quotes I was reading from him were just plain ludicrous. “…I am here to fight for creativity,” “Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé, and at this point, we tired of it.” Let’s just applaud for a moment because my oh my, Kanye is a man of undeniable intellect, I mean after all, he did name is child North West. Beck played every instrument on Morning Phase. He is a master of mixing and creating new sounds to combine genres to create one uniquely his own. Let this be a Grammy celebrating his entire music career thus far. As much love as I have for Beyonce, Beck is truly a musician, not just a performer. John Legend commented on Kanye’s view of Beck’s win and I have to say I totally agree with him. “While his win may have been a surprise to many, it’s not because he’s not a great artist deserving of recognition. All of the other nominated artists, including Beyonce, are incredible in their own right, and arguments could be made for any of them deserving to win.”

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And my very last note on the evening: I really hope LL Cool J does not host again next year. I cannot name one thing that man does other than host the Grammys.

The Veggie Life

I have been a vegetarian for about 5 years. (I still eat fish on occasion because of its health benefits). Being a vegetarian does not get brought up that often though. I am not a preacher of this way of life/food choice. People can eat what they want, it is not my place to tell people how to live their life. There is never a reason to bring up vegetarianism unless someone notices that I am not eating meat at dinner or something and then proceeds with a long list of questions, most often including “Why are you a vegetarian?” So I would like to go in depth as to why I am. I will start out simple and then get into the stats and facts that I have researched over the past few years that have stuck with me.

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Before I get into the list, here is a book that I got in 2011. It was written by John Robbins, the heir to the Baskin-Robbins empire. It has everything, literally EVERYTHING there is to know about the meat industry in relation to your health, animal cruelty, and the environment. John Robbins also touches on world hunger and genetic engineering. I like that he doesn’t blame people for eating meat based on how they were raised. Instead, he investigates the industries that lie to us for more money, power, and greed. It’s just an awesome book. BUY IT AND READ IT PEOPLE.

 6 (Broad) Reasons I am a Vegetarian

1. Even when I still ate meat, my favorite foods were always everything but meat. I have always loved pasta, salad, beans, fruits and veggies. The transition was extremely easy for me. So I thought, why not just take out meat entirely, it can’t be that difficult.
2. I was not raised in a hunting family. We are not heavy heavy carnivores. Meals without meat were common at the dinner table. While it may have been annoying that I didn’t eat my dad’s steak or mom’s chicken enchiladas, my parents did not really mind going out of the way to cook something else for me (at least they didn’t show it). Often times they are even open to trying new recipes that are vegetarian friendly. It is also super easy and cheap to eat meatless. People who say it is expensive to eat healthy have no idea what they are talking about. Excuses, excuses.
3. I consider myself an animal lover even though I have never had any dogs, just a couple cats when I was really young. But anyway, I DO care about animal rights and yes I have watched Food, Inc. and Meet Your Meat. I am not a crazy, loud PETA activist shouting from the rooftops, but like I said, I do love animals. I wouldn’t eat my cat or a dog, so why would I eat a pig? Not to mention the horrific conditions they are ‘raised’ under before slaughter.
4. As the years passed, I gradually became grossed out at the thought of eating meat. I think about where it comes from and how that animal is tortured and killed. Then about all the hormones that are in the meat, as well as links to disease. I always think about that little note at the bottom of a menu that warns you that raw and undercooked meat may lead to foodborne illness. I just have no desire to put anything like that in my body anymore. I don’t even eat a ton of meat alternatives because the taste of meat is just not as satifysing to me anymore.
5. Not eating meat greatly lowers your risk of heart disease and cancer because you are cutting out animal fat and a whole lot of cholesterol. You are replacing it with antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables and excellent sources of protein like grains and beans. According to the CDC, heart disease is the number 1 leading cause of death in adults in the U.S. I don’t know about you, but if eating meat means I am likely to die sooner, I am not about that life.
6. Global warming is very real and meat production is a large contributor. A Prius driver who eats mainly meat is contributing more to global warming than a Hummer driver eating low on the food chain. Raising livestock for meat consumption aids in air pollution, loss of biodiversity, species extinction, climate change, water shortage, water pollution, and overall degradation of the land.

So I touched on health, animal rights, and the environment. Those are the three main reasons people choose not to eat meat. There is not really one area more than another that I lean towards. I believe in a healthy life for myself, animals, and for the Earth. Here are some other facts and statistics that are very eye opening and hopefully will make you think twice about the meat on your plate.

Health

  • Animal protein has actually been found to decrease bone health. Consumption of meat is associated with decreased bone mineral density.
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables increases survival rates in women with ovarian cancer and reduces the risk of breast cancer.
  • Those who eat poultry four times a week compared to those who abstain are at a 200-300% greater risk of colon cancer. Americans who are aware that eating less meat reduces colon cancer risk: 2%.
  • Soy intake decreases the risk of hip fractures, breast cancer, and lung cancer.
  • Blood cholesterol level of vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians is 14% lower.
  • Vegetarians have only half the risk of heart disease compared to meat eaters.
  • Fat in a Burger King Whopper: 40 grams. Fat in an average veggie burger: 3 grams.
  • Annual medical costs in the U.S. directly linked to smoking: $65 billion; linked to meat consumption: $60-120 billion.
  • Antibiotics given to people in the U.S. annually to treat disease: 3 million lbs; given to livestock annually for purposes other than treating disease: 24.6 million lbs.

Animals

  • Newborn male calves born to dairy cows are chained at the neck and caged in such small spaces that they barely move at all during their short life. Their muscles often never fully develop since their neck and body can often never move. They are unable to walk, denied sufficient mother’s milk, and trucked off to auction at only a day or two old before being slaughtered for veal.
  • Length of time that baby calves suckle from their mothers in a natural environment: 8 months; length of time that U.S. dairy calves are routinely taken from their mothers and transported to veal stalls: 24 hours90% of U.S. dairy calves are taken after 24 hours.
  • More than 99% of the hens who lay the eggs eaten in the U.S. are debeaked and caged. Forced to stand on wire, they often become entangled resulting in the workers cutting off their toes and claws.
  • 75% of chickens are subjected to “forced molting” in which they are starved and denied water. This shocks the hens into losing their feathers.
  • Birds are being systematically bred for obesity. They suffer from congestive heart failure because their lungs and heart are not fully developed enough to support the rapid weight gain.
  • Mass of breast tissue of an eight week old chicken today compared to 25 years ago: 7 times greater.
  • 65 million of the 90 million pigs that are raised for meat in the U.S. are in total confinement where they never see daylight until they are trucked off for slaughter.
  • 70% of pigs have pneumonia at time of slaughter.
  • Pigs become so packed together that they become violent and bite one another’s tails and bodies. The industry responds by chopping off their tails and chipping their teeth.
  • 90,000 cows and calves are slaughtered every 24 hours in the U.S.
  • 14,000 chickens are slaughtered every minute in the U.S.
  • 10 billion food animals (not including fish and other aquatic creatures) are slaughtered every year in the U.S.

Environment

  • Water required to produce 1 pound of beef according to the University of California Agricultural Extension: 5,214 gallons; wheat: 25 gallons; lettuce: 23 gallons.
  • In California today, it has been noted that you may save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you would by not showering for six months.
  • More water is drawn from the Ogallala aquifer every year for beef production than is used to grow all the fruits and vegetables in the entire country.
  • America’s grain belt produces more grain for factory farm and feedlot animal feed than bread for humans.
  • The hog waste produced by a single plant in Utah is equal to the volume of human waste produced by the entire population of the state.
  • Livestock waste goes into soil and then runs into the water that many people ultimately bathe in and drink. Catastrophic cases of pollution, sickness, and death occur in areas where livestock farms are heavily concentrated.
  • Because of animal waste pollution, in the Gulf of Mexico there is now a ‘dead zone’ of nearly 7,000 square miles that can no longer support aquatic life.
  • 70% of the American west is used for grazing livestock.
  • Livestock compact the soil and trample plants making it harder for soil to absorb water freely. This leads to contaminated runoff.
  • Livestock impact on the soil has done more to alter the vegetation and land forms of the West than all the water projects, power plants, freeways, and subdivisions combined.
  • 55 square feet of tropical rainforest are destroyed for the production of every fast-food hamburger made from rainforest beef.
  • Members of 30 different plant species, 100 different insect species and dozens of bird, mammal, and reptile species are destroyed in the production of each fast-food hamburger.
  • Methane is 24 times more potent a greenhouse house than carbon dioxide. Methane’s concentration in the atmosphere is triple than what is was a century ago due to beef production.
  • Livestock account for up to 20% of overall global methane emissions.
  • Cattle, goats, and sheep graze half of the planet’s total land area. They, as well as pigs and poultry, eat feed grown on the the majority of the world’s cropland.

Check out my recipe for a healthy Mexican inspired vegetarian dish here!

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SOURCES:
Vegetarian Times magazine
CDC
Robbins, John. The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help save Your Life and Our World.

 

 

25 Things I Learned After My First Year of College

I have recently seen numerous blogs and Buzzfeed posts with lists of things people learned after their first year of college. I have agreed with many and I decided to make my own! My younger sister will be going to college in the fall so what better time to make my own list. I am finishing up my third year right now. I have no idea where the time went. It really does fly by. Here are my 25 Things I Learned After My First Year of College.

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Photo source: The Viewer’s Commentary

1. Live on campus your first year wherever you go.

You are guaranteed to meet new people and find your nitch group. RA’s will talk you into going to building events in order to meet more people and get more involved. Everyone leaves their doors open a lot as a friendly gesture to just say ‘hello’ as you walk by. It is like a giant hotel and you can always find someone to hang out.

2. Do your research before and after having an advising appointment.

Do not trust your advisors. I repeat, do not trust your advisors. They see so many students throughout the day and there is no way they can assist every student perfectly. They often open your file for the first time right when you sit down. My advisors, for example, do not just see Mass Communication students. They also see every other major in the College of Arts and Sciences. That is a lot to keep track of. Many will try to tell you that you need more electives and other classes when you really don’t. You CAN graduate in 4 years if you plan everything out correctly.

3. Do wake up super early and sign up for classes right when they open.

Make sure you are somewhere with really good Internet connection. I have found out that campus is usually better than my apartment complex. One semester I could not get onto the portal and I was locked up for over 2 hours. I ended up missing out on about 3 classes because they filled up.

4. Pay attention to events where there are free things.

So many events are catered to freshman to get them involved on campus. From water bottles to t-shirts to food, take every opportunity there is when you see the word free.

5. Get a part-time job if you have the time.

Whether it is off campus or on, get a part-time job. Not only will it add to your resume, it will also show that you can balance work and school to future employers and internships. You also get a break from school friends and school in general. Spending money is also nice to have.

6. You will be homesick and feel lonely during most of your first semester.

The first day of move in is super exciting and then your parents leave and it starts to set in. If you luck out with a good roommate the transition will be easier (which I did!). The first few weeks will go great then you will hit this middle slum where you feel like you have fake friendships with some of the new people you met. Then all of a sudden after Christmas you are finally falling into place and realizing where you fit in.

7. You can get by without joining a sorority.

Do I judge sororities? Maybe…yes. You basically pay money (SO MUCH MONEY) in exchange for friends. Do it the hard way and make your own friends through classes, your dorm, at parties, etc. However, there are numerous academic and service sororities that are promising. I have made long lasting friendships in college without joining a sorority. So have many of my friends from other schools. Do not feel obligated to join one.

8. Always make a friend in every class.

You don’t need to be best friends, but find someone who takes decent notes and comes to class regularly. It can be a nightmare to get the notes you missed from a day you were not in class, especially if the professor doesn’t post the notes online.

9. Don’t let guys (or girls) upset you like silly relationships in high school.

You will meet people at parties that you think are awesome and attractive and so on and then they forget about you by the next day. When it comes down to it, a lot of people in college are just trying to have fun and see who’s at there. Bad relationships will only make you stronger. So be confident and love with find you. Don’t go looking for it.

10. It’s okay to take naps.

Take as many naps as your schedule allows. This is the only time in your life you can do this.

11. Have double of everything.

It is too much work to carry around a purse and a backpack at the same time. So make sure you have chapstick, pens, lotion, hand sanitizer, bobby pins, flash drive, gum, and so on in each. It is way too complicated to switch things back and forth all the time. Your whole day will be ruined when you realize you forget to switch your chapstick out of your purse, believe me.

12. Your tolerance level goes way up.

Vomit in the dorm bathroom, loud neighbors during quiet hours, 7am fire alarms, trash overflowing in the hallway dumpster, dirty microwave, snoring roommate, the difficulty of shaving your legs in the small shower……you eventually just stop caring about everything.

13. Learn what local businesses give a student discount.

It’s usually just 10%, but hello, money is money. Everywhere you go ask if they do a student discount.

14. Invest is a good umbrella and waterproof shoes.

It seems to rain more on campus than ever before in your whole life. Walking around with wet tennis shoes or ruining your new suede boots will result in a really crappy day.

15. High school drama does not stop in college.

Girls are still poosty and guys are still jerks. There will always be drama. Try to stay out of it, but sometimes it’s impossible. Always be the bigger person and get over it. Hopefully your friends will follow suit and admire your mature personality and eventually the drama will be less and less.

16. Do all the extra credit you can.

Extra credit is super rare in college so when a professor offers it DO IT. There are barely any grades in your classes. Most are just a few exams and a paper. Extra credit can make or break your grade.

17. Take deep breaths when you have a do a group project or look over a classmate’s paper.

So many people in college seem to lack basic writing skills, not sure why this is but..I don’t even know, it baffles me. Try your best to correct grammar issues if you have to look over each others work. Also pray that you get through dreaded group projects. You will probably have to get together at 9pm on a Sunday because that is the only time all of you can get together. You will end up doing the whole project. Oh well, at least you got an A.

18. Follow the parking rules on campus.

Workers are out constantly writing tickets for those parked in the wrong lot or for their meter running up. Tickets usually start at about $15. May not seem like much, but a week’s worth of food can be bought for $15. Priorities, people.

19. Your checking account will see the lowest of lows sometimes but that’s okay.

From food to laundry detergent to extra supplies for classes, getting to that next Friday payday will seem like lightyears away. Keep a small cash stash somewhere in your room for when the money gets low. If all else fails, call mom and dad. If they are nice they will lend you a few dollars.

20. Procrastination cannot be avoided.

You will be slammed with projects and papers and end up putting something off to the side to finish later. Next thing you know it has to be uploaded on TurnItIn by midnight. Suddenly you just broke the world record writing a 5 page research paper in an hour and a half. It can be done.

21. Your hunger will find you at night and not let you sleep until you make that Easy Mac.

Taco Bell runs, Jimmy Johns deliveries, the local Chinese restaurant. They all sounds so delicious at 11pm. It’s okay, go ahead and order it. Just go to the fitness center tomorrow.

22. It’s college, you are 99.99999999% likely to drink underage.

You will give into peer pressure and most likely drink at parties. Just be smart. Make sure your phone is charged. Go, stay, and leave with friends. Have a friend who can give you a ride home if you need to. Do not get behind the wheel and potentially ruin your life or someone else’s forever.

23. You will often have more fun sitting in your dorm singing to 90s music and taking Mac Photo Booth photos than you will at that party off campus.

Sometimes you show up to a party thinking it will be the most fun night of your life. But in reality, you know no one there and the music is so loud that the cops will probably show up within 30 minutes. There is also never an even balance of guys and girls. You will either feel creeped out by all the guys checking out every girl that walks through the door or you will be constantly judged by every girl because girls judge everyone. Stay in your dorm and hangout with your small group of friends.

24. You will have let downs.

I got a C my freshman year in a random Anthropology course. Guess what, my GPA is a 3.8. You will do awful on exams or homework assignments sometimes, but I promise life will go on. You will change your major, hate your roommate at one point or another, forget to set an alarm, not get into a class you want….this list could go on forever. Your good times will out number the bad times.

25. It’s okay to do absolutely nothing.

You do not need to go out and do something every single night. Sometimes you just need a night in where you binge eat ice cream and watch reruns of Friends all night. What? I have never done that… There will always be another party or event or concert or movie or anything. Sometimes the best way to deal with stress is to just have some alone time to think and clear your mind.

I feel like I could write for days, but I am forcing myself to stop at 25. College goes by so quickly. Live every moment, have fun, make new friends, take every opportunity that is thrown your way.

 

Smartphones Cause Disconnections Between People

I literally feel like I am the only one on the planet without a smartphone. My phone was free with my plan. It slides open to a pretty sweet texting keyboard and makes calls. That’s really about it. It was the hottest thing in 2007. I understand it is 2014 now and I have a lot of catching up to do. I’m up to date in pretty much every other area of technology. I have a Kindle, MacBook Pro, Canon EOS Rebel, and a Smart TV. I have just not come to that point yet to pay the extra $30 or so per month for a smartphone. I would rather be spending that on food, gas, or a night out with my friends.

I am glad, however, that it is impossible for me to fall into the trap of being mesmerized by my phone screen when I am hanging out with people or trying to have a conversation with someone. There is nothing for me to look at on my phone. It doesn’t do anything. I am sure you have encountered at least a couple of these scenarios today already:

  • You are in the middle of a conversation with someone and they pull out their phone. They clearly stop paying attention to you, but they pretend like they are still are by nodding and saying the occasional ‘mhmm’ or ‘yeah I know.’
  • You are seeing your favorite band in concert and your view keeps getting blocked by the guy in front of you who has been recording the entire show.
  • It’s Friday night and you and are friends are out to eat. You just paid $10 to sit in silence with one another while everyone scrolled through the latest happenings on Twitter and Instgramed their dinner.
  • You invite friends over to hang out and play games, but the game is taking forever because everyone keeps playing Flappy Bird and not paying attention when it is their turn.
  • You are taking notes in class and really enjoying the lecture your professor is giving today. You look around and see people staring at the phones. You wonder why they even bother coming to class at all.

This video called “I Forgot My Phone” is amazing. It hits on everything that I see everyday with smartphones. It is so well done and so accurate to the lives we live.

The field I am going into is Communications. Communications must keep up to date with technology. Would I get great use out of an iPhone right now? Yes. So many of my classes suggest different apps that I cannot take part in. My bank has a great app for making transfers and even taking a picture of a check and depositing it. Many of the stores I shop at have mobile coupons that I have to waste paper to printing out. Keeping up to date with Twitter and other news has to wait until I have access to my laptop or tablet.

I am not against smartphones by any means. If they are used for a purpose other than playing games and using social media instead of communicating with people face to face right in front of you, then yes, I do have a problem with that.

Look around you. Put the phone down. Don’t charge it when it dies. There is a huge world out there waiting for you to live in it.

Royals & Then Some

Last Friday night, my friend and I played an acoustic set at Edison’s in Edwardsville for a few hours.  I have lost track of how many times we have played there, but it is always a fun time. We had another great turnout of family, friends, and people just wandering in for a drink at the bar. Next up for me are some dates on campus, but this time with a piano player.

More importantly right now, though, I am focusing on getting some of my originals finished and recorded. One is very jazzy and mellow, the other is more of a happy, pop song. Both of these have been in the writing for at least 4 years now, just dying to be heard. I have been doing covers for far too long. It has come to the point where I want people to hear my own songs that I write.

The first time I sang in front of people I was in 5th grade. Turning 21 made me realize how fast time flies. If people are going to take my music seriously and not just consider me a YouTube cover girl, then I need to let the world hear my own stuff. So stay tuned and I will have some of my originals posted on my YouTube channel soon!

In the mean time, here is my newest cover (Yes, I’m still going to be hypocritical and post covers in the meantime). It was recorded at Edison’s.

Innocence

Photo by Mollie Rittenhouse

Photo by Mollie Rittenhouse

Like every other college student, the red and white logo of Netflix has been permanently burned into my sight. After a long day of classes and work, Netflix is just a given when I sit down with my leftover pasta that I have been trying to finish for three days. Recently, I started watching the series “Freaks and Geeks” that aired back in 1999 to 2000. Not only does it have an awesome, comedic cast with names like James Franco and Seth Rogen, but IMDB gave it a 9.0 rating. The show follows two groups of teenagers (the freaks and the geeks, of course) in the 1980s, dealing with everything from first love to embarrassing parents and everything in between.

It is a highly relatable show regardless of if you grew up in the 80s. I am almost finished with the first season and nearly every episode has nostalgic qualities. Innocence is everywhere in the show, like a boy having a huge crush on his best friend’s older sister and awkward dancing between hormonal teens at Homecoming. The show constantly reminds me of high school. I cannot believe I am already halfway though college. It seems like yesterday morning I was freaking out because I forgot my P.E. clothes at home or got turned around as a Freshman in my high school’s extremely confusing hallway system. It is hard to believe that was over three years ago. Nothing makes me feel more old than saying “I have not seen you since high school!” to an old friend.

The innocence of high school is something to be cherished. No matter how many people say they do not miss it, somewhere deep down you know they do (unless maybe they were severely bullied or never made the soccer team). In college you still have a little bit of innocence left, but you are so much more on your own than you were in high school. Decisions are forced down your throat every second about your future. What will you do with your degree? Where will you live? How will you pay off your loans? You ARE going to get your Master’s aren’t you? Classes fill up quickly and you realize you might not finish in four years. Even though you earn above average grades and work really hard, scholarships are hard to come by when you are an average white girl with two working parents who are happily married. Sorry I’m not sorry. The world is so much bigger and scarier than high school. The real world is fast approaching and it terrifies me. I just have a couple more years of my parents being my own personal bank, summer and Christmas break, and late night Taco Bell runs. Cheers to making the most of it while I still can. Innocence is bliss.