Letter to Mom

Dearest Mother,

     We have had many discussions relating to my hair and its ever increasing length. I usually sport a buzz cut, and have since I was a young child, but ever since the start of the school year I have been growing out my hair. This is being done in an attempt to attain the infamous hockey “flow” for the upcoming hockey season. Hockey players are known for their long hair that curl out from underneath the backs of their helmets, and this hairstyle has been revolutionized by great hockey players such as Jaromir Jagr, Erik Karlsson, and Patty Kane. This style is often referred to as flow, lettuce, mops, mullets, and other terms. In the eyes’ of hockey players, this hairstyle is the cream of the crop. However, those who don’t play hockey may have different opinions. Your opinion is that it does not look good. I think this may be because I have had short hair my entire life, and it looks different so you are not yet used to it. When this topic is brought up, arguments often ensue. These arguments never aspire to anything serious, but I do not enjoy your constant criticism. You tell me to cut it…  You should let me keep my hair long because I am only keeping it long for the hockey season, and, let’s be honest, it looks amazing.

     I  am growing my hair out right now for hockey season. A few of my friends last year decided to grow out their hair for the season, and more of us agreed to do it this year. It’s our senior year and we really want to have a great, fun year, and we feel that doing this would make it more fun and enjoyable for all of us. It gives us something to joke about and brings us even closer together than we already were. Once I started to grow my hair out, I started to love it. It was a new look for me and I thought it looked very good. Some of my friends, and even your friends, have even complimented me on my new hairstyle, but, even though I tell you that I am cutting it after the season is over, you still do not like it.

     Whenever we get into discussions about my hair and I bring up these points, you usually dismiss them. You understand that it’s a hockey player thing and all my friends are doing it too, but you don’t care about that. You only care about what I look like and what I do, and you do not think that my hair looks good. You propose a solution that I cut my hair and go back to my short hair look that I usually have and that you like better, but I do not want to do that. I repeatedly tell you that I am only keeping it for the hockey season and it will be short again in a few months, but you think that that is too far away and you want it short now. These arguments never get serious, luckily, but they never end in both of us being satisfied with the result.

     One solution that can be made to end this argument once and for all is I cut my hair. This will make you happy, but will not make me happy. A second solution that can be acted upon is I keep my hair long, and you get over it. With this solution I will still be happy, but you will not be happy, and if/when you get used to it, the season may be done by then so it’s not even worth it. A third solution that can be proposed to make both of us happy is to keep my hair long, but keep it trimmed. You do not think that it looks good and you often think it looks messy and, but keeping it neat and trimmed will solve both of these problems. Also, trimming my hair will allow me to keep it long just like my friends’, and I will hopefully think that it still looks good. I think that this is the best solution for me to do so that both of us will be happy with my new hairstyle.

      With Love,

            Your son

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Uber and Race Discrimination

      On October 31, 2016, an article was published by Elizabeth Weise in USA Today that discussed how Uber is discriminating against African Americans. An experiment was performed in Boston, MA, that had both white and black people request Uber rides. Uber is a taxi company that allows clients to send in a request for a taxi via a mobile app, and then the Uber driver arrives at your given location and drives you to your desired location (F.). Sometimes if the driver is not able to bring you somewhere, he or she will cancel the trip. This aspect, the cancellation rate, was being observed in the experiment. After the experiment was conducted, a conclusion was made that stated that Uber drivers were biased towards African Americans because clients with “black-sounding names” experienced a higher cancellation rate than those with “white-sounding names.” The Uber requests are not sent in with a picture of the client, so the drivers can only see their names, locations, and desired destinations. The experiment experienced 10.1% of the clients with black-sounding names having their rides cancelled, while only 4.9% of the clients with white-sounding names experienced cancellations.

      I find this topic disturbing because racism should not be an issue in today’s day and age, yet it still is. Racism dates back over 100 years in the United States, and many efforts have been made to end racism once and for all. In today’s positive, thriving, welcoming atmosphere, there shouldn’t be any discrimination against black people. In fact, there shouldn’t be any discrimination against anyone! I believe that everyone should be kind to others, and I do not like it when that does not happen. So, after reading this article, I was not surprised that it disturbed me.

      Uber drivers are not the only people that discriminate against black people. There are many reports of other professionals, such as police officers, who discriminate against blacks. “Studies show that police are more likely to pull over and frisk black or Latinos than whites” (DoSomething.org). In New York City, 80% of the stops that police make are for black or Latino people, and of those, 85% were frisked. However, only 8% of the stops were for white people. This shows that police in NYC discriminate against black people. Also, “In 2010, the U.S. Sentencing Commission reported that African Americans receive 10% longer sentences than whites through the federal system for the same crimes” (DoSomething.org). So not only do Uber drivers and police officers discriminate black people, but the federal government does as well. There have been many claims that people do not discriminate against African Americans, but the numbers don’t lie. Changes need to be made.

      My research supported my feelings on this topic. I did not like discrimination against African Americans before I conducted my research, and I still don’t after. My research showed that people discriminate against black people and they treat them unfairly. No matter your skin color, everyone should be treated equally. I believe this because I live by the “Golden Rule” that you treat others how you want to be treated. If everyone followed this rule the world would be a better place.

 

Works Cited

“11 Facts About Racial Discrimination.” DoSomething.org. DoSomething.org, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2016.

F., Zach. “What Is Uber Exactly?” Uber Fare Estimator. UberEstimate.com, 22 Oct. 2016. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

“Crooked Smile” by J. Cole

     “Crooked Smile” is a hip-hop/R&B song by J. Cole that was released as a single on June 4, 2013, by Roc Nation, Columbia Records. The artist, J. Cole (Jermaine Lamarr Cole), was born on January 28, 1985. He was born in Frankfurt, Germany, but was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina. (Adaso 1). He began rapping at the age of 12 but only considered it to be a possible career after graduating from St. John’s University in 2007 (Adaso 1). After releasing a few mixtapes, J. Cole’s first official album was Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011). His other two albums are Born Sinner (2013) and 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014) (Adaso 1). J. Cole has been nominated for many awards, but he has won only a few. 2014 Forest Hills Drive won the Billboard Top Rap Album award in 2014, and the song “Crooked Smile” won the BET Hip Hop Top Impact Track award in 2014 (Adaso 1). “Crooked Smile” is the 14th track on Born Sinner, features the artist TLC, and was written by Jermaine Cole and Meleni Smith. “Crooked Smile” by J. Cole is a song about loving yourself and how one’s personality is more important than their appearance because he mentions that it’s not about your looks, it’s what’s inside that matters.

     There are many lyrics in the song “Crooked Smile” that address the message of loving yourself. One time where this is mentioned is, “Love yourself, girl, or nobody will” (Cole et al., line 14). This line mentions that if you don’t love yourself and who you are, then no one else will. This is not a literal meaning, but J. Cole is saying that if you are not happy with who you are, you will portray a negative attitude which some people don’t like. However, if you love yourself, you will portray a more positive attitude and more people will like you. Another line where he mentions loving yourself is important is, “No need to fix/what God already put his paintbrush on” (Cole et al., lines 19-20). These lines state that your appearance doesn’t matter and that God made you how you are so you should embrace it and love it.

     There are also lyrics in the song “Crooked Smile” that portray the meaning that your personality is more important than your appearance. One time when J. Cole references this is, “We ain’t picture perfect but we worth the picture still” (Cole et al., line 11). This line means that even if you’re not “good looking” in some people’s minds, you are still important and worth it. Another line where J. Cole addresses this message is, “Cause what’s real is something that the eyes can’t see/That the hands can’t touch” (Cole et al., lines 33-34). These lines state that personality is more important than physical characteristics.

     The style of music of “Crooked Smile” adds to the overall message of loving yourself and how one’s personality is more important than their appearance. The message of the song is positive and uplifting, and the light and upbeat tempo of the song adds to this. Also, some parts have more attitude than others. These parts are usually when J. Cole has a deep lyric telling you to love yourself or not to listen to the haters, and the attitude conveys another message to be confident in yourself. Lastly, there is not too much background music so you can hear the words easier. “Crooked Smile” is a beautifully crafted tune that portrays a deep message to its listeners.

 

Works Cited

Adaso, Henry. “The Story of J. Cole: A Biography.” About.com Entertainment. About, Inc., 02 Mar. 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

Cole, Jermaine Lamarr, and Meleni Smith. Crooked Smile. J. Cole Feat. TLC. J. Cole, Elite, 2013. MP3.

Deer-Capitation

     I was a witness to a deer that was decapitated.

     The clock read 12:30 am and there was only one car on the dark, long, straight highway ahead of us. My mom and I were on our way home from my baseball game, a game that started at 10 pm at a field an hour from home. Despite the time, my mom was very much awake as she wanted to get us home as soon and as safe as possible.

     We were listening to the radio when all of a sudden my mom let out a scream. All within a second, a force shook the car and I witnessed a deer head – just the head – soar through the air across the front of the car. We had hit a deer. Or actually, the deer had hit us.

     As mentioned earlier, we were the only car on a stretch of highway for about half a mile, but this deer in particular apparently wanted to commit suicide. There was so much open road for the deer to cross, but it somehow still managed to run into our car. It had ran straight into the front left side of the car, a direct impact on the driver’s side headlight. It ran into us at an angle that neither my mom nor I could see until it was just about to strike the car.

     At this moment, it was too late to react to it. We were cruising at highway speeds, so my mom did not swerve nor brake hard in order to not roll the car. Instead, we plowed through the poor soul and it literally exploded before us. This event happened four years ago and some of the details are fuzzy, but the picture of solely the deer’s head flying in front of me is clear as day.

     My mom was freaking out after the accident, but she did not let it affect her driving. She slowly and safely guided the car off the highway and to the nearest gas station to examine the damage. The left headlight was smashed and no longer worked, half of the licence plate holder was missing, and the grill of the car was bent in a little. Worst of all, the deer’s blood and fur was still in the grill. Regardless of the damage and her current unstable condition, my mom was still able to safely bring us home.

     Even in times of extreme distress, don’t let your emotions affect your actions or the situation could get worse.

Lasagna

     Lasagna is the single most delicious and nutritious food that there is. Lasagna is an Italian layered pasta dish that contains meat, cheese, tomato sauce, and sometimes vegetables between those layers of pasta. This meal is one of the only foods that is arguably better tasting as a leftover because after the first day, the layers of pasta stay together more, and it is not as messy of a food. Nevertheless, lasagna is still delicious right out of the oven.

     There are many positive aspects of lasagna. One favorable feature is that lasagna encompasses all of the major food groups within its glory. It has protein in the meat, grain in the pasta layers, dairy in the cheese, fruit in the tomato sauce, and vegetables either in the lasagna or when paired with a side salad. One of the best things about lasagna is that there are so many varieties that you can have. You can choose from a variety of meat to include in your lasagna, or opt out of it altogether. You can also change up the type of pasta, such as regular refined pasta for a better taste, or whole-grain for a healthier alternative. The possibilities are endless!

     Although there are many positive aspects of lasagna, there are also some negatives ones. One negative characteristic is that not everyone can enjoy every variety of lasagna. Certain eating conditions do not allow people to eat dairy, meat, or other foods, so lasagnas that include these things cannot be eaten. This is an unfortunate tragedy, for every human being should be able to enjoy every kind of lasagna, but this is not reality. All in all, I would recommend lasagna to anyone who can eat it and enjoys pleasing their taste buds with one of the finest foods on Earth.

Comforting in a Time of Distress

     Emotions are crazy things that can make you act in crazy ways, and one time strong emotions made me act in a way that I was not expecting to. Even though I was in a time of distress, these emotions caused me to comfort my friend because he needed it more than me.

     My Junior year of high school had come the closest to being the best year an athlete could ever hope for. The two sports that I played that year were hockey and baseball, and I was lucky enough to make it to the high school state championship games in both of these sports. Every athlete wishes to raise a banner for winning the state title every year, and I had gotten as close as I could to it not once, but twice. However, each time I came up just short.

     That year my hockey team was very successful. We went into the playoffs as the top seed, having only lost two games and tying once. We were the clear favorites to win it all, and we backed this up with two dominant wins to begin our road to the championship. Going into the championship game our team was playing very well, and with only the sixth seeded team standing in our way of getting the trophy, everyone thought that we were going to win this game. But that’s not how it went down.

     We outplayed our opponents for the majority of the game; the only time we were outplayed was for three minutes in the first period. They capitalized here and scored three times. We battled back, but were unable to take the lead and we ended up losing 4-3. It was devastating. Our team had worked so hard this season and we practically had the trophy in our hands, only to have it snatched away in three minutes of gameplay. After the game, there was not a dry eye in the locker room. Everyone had taken the loss very hard, especially me. This loss affected me in ways it shouldn’t have and I never wanted to go through an experience like that ever again. However, I found myself in the same position three months later…

     Two weeks after our hockey loss (at this time I still had not gotten over it) baseball started up. I was excited for it; I was expected to be the starting varsity catcher for the first time in my high school career, and I was looking forward to playing with my friends and making a run at the state title.

     We also had a successful baseball season, and we entered the playoffs as the sixth seed. We dominated in the first round, upset the number three team in the quarterfinals, and won a close semifinal game to make it to the championship. Wow. I couldn’t believe I had actually made it to two state championships in the same year. I refused to lose twice in the same year.

     When the day of the championship came, our team was fired up, especially me. Just making it to my second championship game in the same year was a feat and I was proud of that, but true satisfaction would come if I was able to take home a trophy.

     The opposing team was the fifth seed, and there was no clear prediction of who will win the game. We were optimistic. We had our best pitcher start the game, but the other team had a better pitcher start. Their pitcher was the division III player of the year and probably threw the fastest of anyone in our league. This scared us a little, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle.

     And with that, the game started.

     It was back and forth. They took an early lead, but we battled back to take the lead a few innings later. However, a big hit from the division III player of the year gave our opponents the lead back, and we couldn’t fight back from this deficit. We ended up losing the game 4-2, and the game ended before I realized it had.

     Did I really lose, again? My mind was clouded as I walked out onto the field to shake my opponents’ hands. As I was walking down the line shaking the victors’ hands, I felt no anger towards them, as they had beaten us fairly. I felt despair, as I had come so close to my goals twice and came up just short both times. It was so hard for me because I had worked so hard towards achieving this goal during both of my seasons, yet I just wasn’t good enough.

     After walking back to the dugout, I still remember this next moment vividly. Watching not only one, but two teams celebrate with their championship trophy, in the same year, is one of the hardest things I had to endure as an athlete. It took a major toll on me emotionally.

     Our team went into a huddle to talk about the game shortly after, and that was when I felt like I was about to lose it. I started shaking, the tears were creeping up, but then it all changed when I glanced over at my best friend. He had pitched the entire game and played great, but he was taking the loss very hard. I imagined that he was thinking that the loss was his fault, but it wasn’t. He pitched great and the rest of us couldn’t get the job done. At that moment, all of the sadness that I had inside of me left instantly when I realized that someone else needed more comforting than I did. I went over to him in the huddle, and without saying anything I put my arm around his shoulders as Coach spoke to us.

     Throughout Coach’s speech, I felt that my friend was slowly becoming better and better. He was less tense and not crying as much anymore. The only words I spoke to him after Coach was done telling us that we lost a hard fought game and that we should not hang our heads was, “It’s not your fault. You played a heck of a game. There was nothing else you could’ve done.”

     This must’ve resonated within him, for I physically saw his stature straighten and his face express less sadness. He looked at me in a way to say, “Thank you.” I knew he appreciated it, and I was glad that I was able to help.

     This was a moment that shocked me. I reacted very differently than how I expected myself to act. After how devastated I was after my championship hockey loss, I expected to be an even bigger mess after my second finals loss. However, when I realized that my friend needed comforting, I was able to swallow my own emotions and help him when he needed it the most. I learned something very important about myself from this experience. I learned that no matter how I am feeling, I will not hesitate to help one of my friends because I have to be there for them, because they are there for me.