Tag Archives: creative

The American Dream

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I was born in Puerto Rico and I’m from a small town where hardly anybody leaves. You never hear of a sabaneño doing big things on the island or anywhere else. People accept their lives for what it is and they’re content with that. They live in their island style cement homes, go to work, pay their bills, and go on with their lives. There isn’t anything out of the ordinary there. Nobody steps out of their comfort zone. Nobody dares to think outside of the box.

Thankfully for me, my parents left Puerto Rico and we’ve been living in the U.S. ever since. I’ve gotten a good education and have gotten great opportunities. I’ve been exposed to different kinds of people, places, and cultures. I live in America for goodness sakes. Anything is possible. I can live the American Dream. I can make my dreams come true, be successful, and be encouraged by the optimistic, ambitious Americans who surround me, right? Well, not so much. It turns out that most people I’ve met are still stuck in the mindset that there’s only one way to be successful and live the American Dream.

The formula is you have to go to college and preferably graduate from a Master’s program or more, make sure that whatever you’re doing is in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math are the way to go in America), and find yourself a stable job with benefits. In about 10 years, you should be making the money you want with a nice family and a house under your name. That’s the formula. That’s what works. That’s how you live the American Dream.

How else do you explain young females who once hated school pursuing nursing or individuals who didn’t know what to do going into computer programming? But what if you hate anything under STEM? What happens if you have an idea bigger than climbing up the corporate ladder? How can a creative mind secure success if they don’t fit into the American Dream formula? Well, just how they would do anything… By thinking outside of the norm.

It’s hard for a person with a real passion to live the life that another person has paved for them. It’s too confining. It’s frustrating. A nine to five kind of job is just not for the creative types. We can’t do it, so we make our own way. We make art, we create businesses, we make something out of what we truly love… our passion. That’s when something magical happens. The motivation, ambitions, and drive are all unstoppable to the point where success is inevitable. That’s how you get billion dollar businesses, Pulitzer Prize winning novels, and legendary records.

If the creative minds had given up on their passions and decided to follow the leader, then there would be no Andy Warhol, no Pharrell, or no Langston Hughes. Fortunately, they all chose to pursue their own American Dream and pave their own way in the ground. They all gifted us the art they’re notorious for and proved that you don’t need STEM or a doctorate to be successful. You simply need dedication, ambition, and passion.

However, most people find it hard to have this vision. They can’t see anything beyond the clear path to success. They think anything outside of that is too risky and simply not worth it. They might say that it won’t work and that your plan B will ultimately be all you have, but I don’t think so. I think that when a person is truly invested in their passion, then success is certain. Living life and finding success in the thing you love most, now that is the real American Dream.

Our Summer of 1903- Part 2

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“Mia dear, wake up,” whispered a sweet sounding voice over top of me.

I opened my eyes and the sunset on the horizon was no longer visible.  I could not see any beach houses and Tony no longer embraced me in his arms.  Instead, I awoke to Janice leaning over me.  Her large baby blue eyes peered down at me, while her pin straight black hair sharply framed her face.  Her vibrant red lips held back, waiting to see if another gentle alarm would be needed.  Since my first day in Paris, Janice had stuck by my side and had helped me with nearly every aspect of my life to the point where she became my assistant.  It was thanks to her that I was on time to anything and prepared for everything.

I laid on the chase for a moment more, processing, within seconds, all that was around me.  To my left against the wall was a large mirror surrounded by lights that was the source of any brightness in sight.  A vanity table and bench sat just in front of it, anticipating my arrival with an array of make-up for me to choose from.  In the far corner of the room stood a wardrobe that was not even fully shut due to the overflow of embroidered corset-like tops and perfectly shaped tutus.  Hanging on the back of the door, directly ahead, was a schedule of the show, including everything from wardrobe changes and intermission to every stage direction.

My eyes blinked in confusion and a bit of grogginess, so Janice’s lips took the cue to a second warning, “Darling, if you don’t wake up soon you won’t be ready in time for your performance.”

I, then, came to the realization that everything I felt a few moments ago was just a memory from the past that came to life in only my dreams.  In reality, I was backstage in my dressing room and I had a show in fifteen minutes that I hadn’t even begun to get dressed for.

I left Long Island for Europe just after my summer with Tony to study ballet and pursue a career as a true ballerina.  I never spoke to Tony after our short time together, though I recently began seeing his photos in publications all over Europe.  I saw everything from his modern photos to pictures that I recognized of the beach that saw our love flourish.  I always noticed them and I always saved them, keeping them tucked away to avoid too much nostalgia.

Although throughout the few years that had passed I had entertained a few prospects, they never felt as rich and pure as my love with Tony.  I was sure it would be a while till I got that feeling back, but now I could only be happy for Tony.  He was doing what he loved as was I.  Upon graduating from the academy, I began to get offers on roles in the latest ballet productions.  My most recent job was as the lead in “Giselle,” a revival Paris had been waiting for.

As I got up, I looked to my side and noticed a bouquet of white irises, my favorite flowers, sitting on the vanity.  Ever since I had begun performing in real productions, I received one bouquet each night of a show.  There was never a note, leaving no hint as to who they were from.  Although I couldn’t be sure, those flowers always brought me back to that summer with Tony.  I could smell the garden on the side of my parents’ beach house and I could feel Tony delicately placing a freshly picked white iris into my hand.  Since that day, the white iris was my preferred flower without a doubt.

As usual, I admired the flowers, softly touching the edge of each petal and taking in the subtle scent that filled the air.  They were perfect as always, though this time the bouquet was not the same as its past brothers.  This time the bouquet carried a note.  I quickly opened the small, gold envelope and it read “I told you so” and nothing else.  An array of fantasies and ideas rapidly took over my thoughts and I was left in utter confusion.  What did this mean?  Were they from Tony?  Had he been my secret admirer this whole time?  How could they be from Tony?  Did he even still remember me?

But, suddenly, a tender reminder from Janice swiftly interrupted my solitary interrogation, “Ten minutes, my dear.”

I was then forced to forget my deepest wishes and I came back to reality.  I changed into my costume, stretched as much as I could, and before I knew it I was center stage dancing out my excitement.  The music soon ended and the curtains were closing before my eyes.  That’s how it always happened.  My performance came and left, faster than a snapshot.  At least, that’s how I always felt it happened.  The wardrobe changes, the applause, the rush all became a blur during and after each performance.

Once my mind began to think clearly again, I was back in my dressing room, recollecting my energy, when I heard Janice’s voice again.

“My dear, don’t bother changing.  You’re needed on stage again.”

“Why?” I asked with confusion masking my face.

“Oh, I haven’t the slightest idea, but, by the looks of it, it’s only more good news for you,” she quickly responded with a sneaky smile over her lips.

As I walked back on stage, I could see the audience giving me a standing ovation through the blinding spotlights of the theatre.  I smiled and waved out of common courtesy.  On the stage, there was a man, Harold Grulier to be exact, the owner of the extraordinary venue.  From what I could see, the burly, blonde man was holding a plaque and some roses.  There was also a photographer just to his right with his face hidden behind every flash.

I stood next to Mr. Grulier with a combination of excitement, anticipation, and even hesitation.  I had no idea what this was all about, but I only wanted to get back to my newest bouquet of white irises and the mysterious golden note.  Harold began to speak in his deep, soothing voice.  I continued to smile and from time to time looked around out of pure boredom.

“It is with great pleasure that I stand before you all and speak to you of Mia Cartagena, the talented young dancer who has entertained us all.  Not long ago, she was unknown to perhaps all who stand before me, but in a matter…” he began.

As I zoned out from Mr. Grulier’s speech, it was then that I saw him.  I looked straight into his glistening green eyes and it was unmistakably him.  The photographer standing on stage was my Tony, whom I had lost track of so long ago.  My eyes traveled across his face and skin, examining his similarities and differences.  He looked the same, yet very different.  I could look into his eyes and still see my teenaged companion, but I could take one glance and tell that he was a man.  His jaw was much more defined, his stare much stronger, and his frame had grown with muscle, but I could still see his pure smirk and bashful blink through his definite transformations.

Tony moved toward me without saying a word.  For a brief moment, I thought he was going to take a picture, but instead he slipped an envelope into my hands that hung at my sides.  Confused, I accepted it, but did not dare to open it on stage.  I barely even looked down to see the white paper closing.  Tony stepped back and I was hurt that, after so much time, all I got was a silent envelope.  So many fantasies and dreams had been shattered by a reality that didn’t even resemble the closeness that the summer of 1903 was filled with.  Shortly after, Mr. Grulier gave me my plaque and I said my thanks.  I rushed back to my dressing room as I noticed Tony taking the opposite wing exit.  I had no interest in being in the spotlight any longer.

In my dressing room, I closed my door and clutched the envelope close to my chest.  I observed the envelope and it simply said my name, Mia.  Inside there was a note that said:  “I told you that you would make it as a prima ballerina.  I promised that I would never forget you just as I promised myself to never forget that summer.  I hope you liked the flowers.  I remembered they were your favorites.”  There was also something else in the envelope.  I took it out and there I was.  It was a picture of me dancing on the beach.  He had taken it the very same day I had just dreamt about.

By this point, my eyes were misty and my chest was pounding.  I felt like my heart had somehow doubled in weight as I leaned my head down into my body.  I could see the picture and the note.  I could feel the paper, but there was still doubt in my mind.  I’m not sure what exactly I was feeling, but I know I was overwhelmed.  Perhaps, I was just so happy to know that I was not the only one who lingered on such distant memories.  Perhaps, I bawled out of anger, wondering what took him so long.  The only fact I was sure of is that I soon heard a hesitant, but firm, knock on my door.

I opened it to find Tony standing right in front of me.  His eyes, a few inches above mine, were on the verge of tears, his hands trembled, and his lips longed for the strength to say something.  We were both in awe.  Within a few moments, we both reacted and took part in a long-awaited embrace, which followed with a kiss that I wish could’ve lasted an eternity.

I looked into his eyes and all I could utter was, “I loved the flowers.”

He stared back with a grin on his face and responded, “I’m glad you did.”

Our Summer of 1903- Part 1

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“Smile for the camera, Mia,” he said, standing above me and laughing the whole way.

“Oh, alright, but only because you’re excited about your new camera,” I responded, sweeping my long brown hair to one side for the so-called candid picture. “You know, when you become a famous photographer you better not forget that I was your first model.”

“I don’t know how I could, my lady,” he said extending one hand out to me and helping me up from the sandy shore.  Once I was up, he continued, “Besides, I think it will be hard to forget the world’s next prima ballerina.”

“Oh don’t be so silly.  I don’t appreciate you toying with my dreams, you know.”  My eyes lingered into his green stare and I couldn’t help but smile as I bashfully looked down.  With an unforced giggle and an excited skip ahead of him, I asked, “But since we’re talking about it, can you look at this routine I’ve been working on and tell me what you think?”

I began my dance to the music of the ocean and I could feel his eyes looking at me in admiration.  The sun’s heat surrounded me, while the sand on the shore brushed on and off my feet.  The wind and my movements moved harmoniously and, from the corner of my eye, I could see Tony snapping away with his new Kodak camera.  I had always loved dance, but it wasn’t until I danced for Tony that I found a real purpose for it.  He was an audience worth truly performing for.

Suddenly we heard, “Mia!  Tony!  Come eat dinner” coming from the distance.  It was my mother indirectly attempting to put our beach date to an end before the sun went down.  Obeying the far-away sounds, Tony and I grabbed our blanket and shoes and began our walk toward the luxurious beach house ahead.

It was the summer of 1903 and our families were on vacation in the Hamptons, where they owned a couple of beach houses.  My family’s home was purely wooden with a complete deck and a silhouette that reached three stories high.  Gardens surrounded the sides of our home that were overflowing with white irises, orange lilies, and yellow rose bushes.  In front of my all white home, sat my father’s all black Mercedes.  It was shiny as ever, simply waiting to be shown off.

Tony’s home was not much different from mine.  The biggest difference was that his family garden included blue sailors and his home was painted a pale yellow as opposed to our white.  Our summer homes were next door to each other, just a few yards apart, which can be credited for my inevitable first encounter with Tony.

I was on my way back from the rocks about a mile down the shore from my parents’ property and I was just shy of my fourteenth birthday.  My skin was just starting to bronze as it was only early June and the sun hadn’t yet had a proper chance to transform my shade.  The ocean breeze freed my long hair, letting it blow up and down, side to side.  In one hand, I held my shoes that I refused to get dirty from the sticky grains of sand and, with my other hand, I held up the hem of my dress.

My mind was wandering, ever-changing like the ocean water, when I noticed a pale dark-haired boy knee-deep in the rising tide.  He looked like he was no more than sixteen years old (he was actually fifteen, at the time) and was too entranced by his lens to notice the real world.  He was taking pictures of the waves, the birds, the sunset, and anything else he saw.  With one turn through his lens, he saw me looking back.  He raised his head and smiled, for the first time, showing me his bright green eyes and his white grin.  It took nothing more than this simple gaze and a bashful hello to let us know that the summer was ours.

Our families quickly became friends, as well, and we were soon having dinner at each others houses every night.  One night, my mother cooked for my family and our guests, while, the next night, his mother prepared the evening meal for the two homes.  With the friendship between our parents, puppy love for us became all the more difficult to avoid and we saw no reason to fight it.

Throughout the day, Tony would snap away, never missing a potentially good image that we shared, while I was incapable of skipping around, twirling through the wind, or swinging my arms up and down as the excitement of being with Tony overwhelmed me to the point of needing to release it through dance.  We took advantage of the early mornings to walk along the desolate beach, afternoons were spent sitting on the rocks that were barely visible from our homes, and sunsets were exclusively reserved for our most intimate conversations.

During one of these sunset talks, I experienced my first kiss with Tony.  His green eyes met my dark eyes that looked back.  One arm wrapped around my body keeping me close, while the other gently brought my face closer to his until we became one.  The cold, moist sand that we were sitting on didn’t even matter after I felt how warm and soft his touch was.

He was my best friend, my advisor, my critic, my support.  He told me the truth about everything and I did the same for him.  Everything he said or did included me.  Every plan I made and emotion I felt was because of Tony.  We understood each other to the point where words were no longer necessary; however, we were young and it was puppy love.  It was my first any kind of love and it was such an innocently pure relationship that was impossible to replace.  That summer Tony was my everything as I was his.

His Mom

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Clothes from last week’s school days are randomly spread across the floor.  Jeans, t-shirts, and socks are all wrinkled and piled over the beige carpet which covers the house’s original hardwood flooring.  The pockets of carpet that can be seen are stained with soda and pizza sauce, creating an abstract pattern that can pass for an artsy do it yourself project.  But, don’t get too close because the odor of pure filth will creep up on you when you least expect it.

Walking in the room carefully is the only way to do it, if you don’t want to step on the still moist jersey from yesterday’s basketball practice.  I would also recommend wearing shoes because the many crumbs and wrappers are not very soothing underneath you’re feet.

The furniture is simple with straight designs and a solid white color scheme.  The tops are cluttered with never turned in math assignments, unopened textbooks, and scratched up CDs.  A boxy television and a few different game systems take up whatever space is left over.  There is dust over everything, giving the room a heavy, congested feeling.  If you can live with the stench of the dirty laundry and sheets, then the dust will be the one to stop you from breathing properly.

The walls are a bit more organized, if you can call walls completely covered in magazine covers and posters organized.  Foo Fighters, Aerosmith, and Red Hot Chili Peppers are just a few of the bands that have been recognized as one of the greats on the wall.  Everything from Rolling Stone’s monthly issue to exclusive concert merchandise have been put together to create a one of a kind type of wallpaper.  There are even a few drawings that contributed to the effort.  On top of all this, 97.9 Rock FM is what is always playing, even if he isn’t home.  He finds it soothing to walk into a room when music is playing, but, for most, it only adds to the emotional, visual, and physical clutter of the bedroom.

It is clear that the room is a disheveled mess, past the point of no return.  There is no aesthetic value and the word maintenance has been shunned away from within these four walls.  The young man would appear to not have a care in the world.  Nothing he possesses is worth preserving.  There is nothing here that cannot be replaced, but, actually, this isn’t necessarily true.

In the left corner of his room, there is an all-white four drawer dresser.  In the bottom drawer, toward the back right there is a silver box about the size of a PlayStation.  The box itself is clean with little wear on the corners and a hint of sheen when you turn it toward the light.  Thus far, this is the only thing in this room that is not falling apart.  Open the box and you’ll find tissue paper with not one wrinkle or tear on it.  It is just as white as the dresser it’s hidden in.  Unwrap the tissue paper and you’ll see an album that reads “My Mom.”

The album is beautifully crafted with a black and white Parisian theme.  Swarovski crystals outline the words and finish off the design.  Inside, the album is full of pictures and little captions that read “June 12, 1995- Bronx Zoo” or “Kevin’s 5th Birthday with Mommy.”  There are all sorts of different pictures from different times and places.  There are family portraits, pictures from Christmas, and even birthday cards, one has a colorful teddy bear dressed up as a Yankee that says “Happy Birthday my Little Slugger!  You just hit a home run on your 4th Birthday!”

On the very last page, there is a yellow post-it note written on with a black permanent marker.  The handwriting is a bit hard to read, as it’s a rushed cursive, but he knows what it says: “Kevin, I’ll be in class until 8:30 tonight.  Dinner is in the fridge.  Love, Mom.”

This was the last thing Kevin’s mom left him before she had a fatal car accident nearly five years ago.  He was twelve at the time.  After the funeral and legal arrangements were taken care of, he moved in with his father and step-mother some eight hours away.  He got a new room, started going to a new school, and Kevin even replaced his old friends with new ones.  He left life in Pennsylvania behind him and began a new one in Virginia.

Kevin never told anyone about his mother.  He felt like he didn’t have to.  They didn’t know her.  They didn’t miss her.  She didn’t raise them by herself for twelve years.  She wasn’t their mother.  She was his mother and only his mother.  That was something that could never be taken from him, the fact that she was his mother.  Though she was taken from him, physically, he always kept her around in at least this album.  As long as the pages were never torn and the crystals never fell off, she would always be with him and only him.  Nobody else needed to see her.  Nobody else needed to know her.  She was only his mom.

My Renewed Passion

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Have you ever felt absolutely and utterly, hopelessly uninspired?  Like whatever you love to do is still something you love, but that you don’t know what to do with it.  You are just stuck, not knowing where to turn or where to go.  You might have a blank canvas and a palette full of paint, but no concept.  Or, in my case, you might have a story that is waiting to be finished and you just don’t know what to say next.

A while ago, I wrote several short stories (fiction and non-fiction) and I even drafted some novel concepts.  For a good month, I was on a roll, busting out a bunch of ideas and outlines that I was infatuated with (and am still a big fan of), but that’s where my inspiration ended.  I couldn’t revise or flesh anything out because I didn’t know which direction I wanted to take, so I got nowhere.  Now, after a few years for some of these unfinished projects, I’ve gone back to a lot of that writing and have never felt more inspired to create some great stories.  I looked at what I had and it was as if the stories were already completed in my head and all I had to do was type out exactly what I saw.  I knew exactly where these pieces needed to go, what could be taken out, and what needed to be added.  It was all so natural and fulfilling that I even stayed up till about five in the morning finishing up a story one night.  I guess that’s some real dedication!

But where did this spark come from?  How did the words hit me so obviously like they had been in my face the whole time?  I think the answer is that I needed that break.  I needed to remove myself from my own little world of storytelling to be able to truly spread its beauty even further.  By having taken a step back, allowing my mind to be refreshed, and going back to work with a new vision, my passion was renewed and stronger.  This hiatus from my pieces made me crave them even more to the point that I didn’t just want to finish them, but that I needed to finish them.  I couldn’t sleep without getting my ideas out and I couldn’t focus without having completed another work.  My writing bug had bitten me once again.

This kind of drive is what I think will amount to success and greatness.  I can’t be certain of what the future holds for me, but I believe in my heart that writing is the way to go.  It’s honestly among the few things that I can’t live without (even though sometimes I do have to think about what I’m writing).  Every day, I come up with new concepts and ideas, so I have to write on the daily just to keep up with my own imagination.  I truly hope that everyone can experience a passion like this.  Yours doesn’t have to deal with writing, but I encourage you all to nurture and embrace whatever love you may have.  It will definitely be worth your while.

The Show Goes On

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Of all the highways I’ve driven on, 195 is probably my favorite, or at least it was my favorite.  It’s a typical highway with two lanes and a sixty mile per hour speed limit, but what makes it stand out are its brevity and sheer openness.  Once I get off of 295 North and merge onto 195 West, I know my commute to school is within five minutes of its end.  It is rare to meet traffic on this road, so rare I have never experienced it even during peak rush hour.  If traffic were relevant, stress wouldn’t be a priority, knowing that I have to endure it for a mere three miles.  In jogging time that’s intense, but in a Honda Accord, or any other vehicle for that matter, that’s not even enough distance to finish listening to a song.

My point is that for the last few years of my life if I had to drive anywhere, 195 would be the place I would choose to drive on, but things change.  Perspectives, experiences, and associations are no exceptions to the inevitability of change.

One Monday morning, October 3, 2011 to be exact, I was on my way to my 9am class like any other Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.  I left my house no later than 8:20am, was merging onto 295 North by 8:27am, and by 8:32am my beloved 195 West had become my location.  It all was normal.  There was no congestion and Lupe Fiasco’s “The Show Goes On” had just started playing on the radio as I got closer to the UMBC campus exit on the right.  I remember seeing a green Taurus driving in front of me with an oversized smiley face decorating the back window.  It was odd, but nice.

I turned my right blinker on.  I checked my mirrors and blind spot.  I was in the clear, so I started for the exit lane, while my right foot, comfortably fit into my black UGG boot, lightly released its pressure on the gas pedal.  Directly ahead of me, a taupe Ford Explorer made an abrupt stop that jolted the SUV.  Another jolt was forced from the Explorer by the impact of a car that hadn’t allotted enough space for a possible necessity of brakes.

At that moment, my eyes widened with horror and shock as my foot forced itself onto the brake pedal until my car approached a sudden yet more gradual stop, compared to the Explorer’s example.  I knew I was going to stop in time as my speedometer moved from twenty down to ten and then it happened.  My mind was cluttered with the thoughts of “this cannot be happening” and “this is going to be bad.”

I felt the full force of a four door sedan pushing me forward into the smiling green Taurus that was beginning to cut me off.  My body whipped diagonally and sideways, back and forth, as my brother’s poor silver Honda Accord slid across the damp tar road.  With each car that crashed into the four door sedan in my rear, I couldn’t help but scrape past the green Taurus, which soon enough was stopped behind me.

I heard a total of five loud thuds of crushing metal and utter force, four came from behind and one from the front.  The drum beats were accompanied by shattering glass, from my left headlight and side mirror, and grating painted steel, which made for the most terrifying percussion orchestra I had ever witnessed.

Amongst the audio feast I was hearing, my face got bashed by a rock-hard, air-filled “safety device” and I instantly felt the right side of my bottom lip swelling as if I had gotten stung by a bee.  My sight was cut off by a combination of the smoke from the airbags and the tears filling my eyes.  The only scent I could pick up was the smell of burning and pure friction.  With that stench and smoke alone, I could have sworn fireworks had been ignited in my steering wheel and in my dashboard.

I was now stopped.  My Honda Accord was lifeless and I was stunned.  All I could do was repeat “Oh, my God” in my attempt to process the last thirty seconds.  In front of me, two deflated baby blue bags hung from the steering wheel and dashboard.  My pink glasses laid by the odometer and I could feel my now slightly lopsided bun.  Everything beyond my windshield was hazy.

Forgetting my bloody, enlarged lip and ignoring the loud screech, I opened the door with two assertive pushes.  At this point, forcing the door open couldn’t cause half as much damage as the chain reaction I had just been caught in the middle of.  I looked around and I knew I would not be going to class this morning, I would not be driving that Honda Accord anymore, and that 195 was no longer my favorite place to drive on, particularly westbound just before the UMBC campus exit.

I will never know why half of the people standing in shock hadn’t realize that slowing down is considered proper etiquette when exiting the highway, but I can only hope that they know that now.  Everything could have been avoided, but, then again, everything happens for a reason.  I can only trust that their driving habits have changed for the better.  Perhaps, this event has made them better people, more cautious, or simply more appreciative.  Maybe, it didn’t have a long-lasting effect, but I can still hope so.

I will admit that I think the people involved have, at the very least, temporarily adjusted to this occurrence.  We all experienced the same chain reaction car accident, but we all felt the impacts differently.  I got major whiplash with a busted lip.  One boy got back pains.  The lady driving the Ford Explorer walked away just fine.  Some may value a car more.  Others might find a new route to school.  A few may even feel skittish behind the wheel.  One single event can be a catalyst for countless new paths, but the most interesting part is that you can’t predict these life changing situations.  They manifest within a matter of seconds, so fast that they leave you stunned still.

I thought about what my path would now be.  I couldn’t imagine driving again as my hands trembled in shock.  I went over how I was going to come up with the money for a new car.  I worried how I would get to my classes until something was sorted out, but I really wasn’t thinking at all.  I was only running through ideas in my head as my life slowed down.  It had stopped, but it really hadn’t.  Life as I knew it had ended.  Now, my life with some temporary hard times had begun.  My life had never stopped because I was still walking.  I was still talking.  I was still breathing.  I could still feel the cold drizzle falling onto my black sleeves.  Yes, my life had changed drastically, but my life had not stopped at all.  It was now simply turning in a new direction.

At the time, I didn’t see it that way.  That Monday I only saw this car crash as a barrier I couldn’t get through, but, as I reached into the Honda Accord for my phone, Lupe Fiasco’s “The Show Goes On” was still playing on the radio, as if Lupe himself was reminding me that my life would still go on.

The Honda Accord just after the accident.

Katy Perry- Ni**as in Paris (Cover)

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I look at Katy Perry and I see a youthful, daring, original, and empowered individual.  She continues to keep us on our toes with her ever-changing look and her creative music.  I recently found this video of Perry performing her own cover to The Throne’s infamous single Ni**as in Paris.  Personally, I love her version.  It does the original song justice, while still showcasing her own personality.  If you ever doubt your ability of being yourself and creative take this as an example.  You can always find a way to be yourself no matter the situation.