Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mikeala AxToGrind: Dear Music Industry...

The other day, I was with my grandmother, seated in the passenger's side of her silver mini-van. With one hand, I turned the dial of the radio, the other hand I used to punctuate my rant about the state of the music industry. After skipping past at least five songs that all seemed to sound exactly the same, my grandmother asks me,

"Well, what do you think of that Gaga person?"

It took me several moments to answer, being that taken aback with her query. My answer was something along the lines of, well, at least she's different.

But is different really enough?

My answer to that would be a no.

Although Lady Gaga's music is admittedly rather catchy, and her appearance alluring, it isn't a level of musical talent that really seems to justify the following that she's built up for herself. We call her a pop music star. But I wonder, can we really leave the word music in that phrase, sans guilty feelings?

We don't seem to care anymore about who has musical ability in the music industry. If it sells, if it catches mass attention, we, the society, deem them a star.

It no longer requires talent to be famous, just a shocking fashion sense and the Autotune application. The check list for a hit artist, let's see...

Must be able to:

The meager qualifications for stardom have created an entire radio dial's worth of monotony and a source of irritation among those who would like at least a side of talent with their so-called "stars".

To be perfectly honest, I do not hate Lady Gaga. I just wish that we had more of the rock, less of the shock. It shouldn't be your image that sells your album, but the album itself. Music for the sake of money, music to be famous for is what I'm sick of.

I want music for the passion of music.

Friday, February 26, 2010

That Religious Guy: Parlez-vous Français?

..... In January, I was sitting at home watching ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. The ABC news team was doing a special on the economic struggle in Haiti after the earthquake. One reporter was trying to speak broken French to a group of Haitian children. In her American accent, she said, "Ça va? Ça va?" The little boys and girls politely nodded their heads in comprehension, but it was clear that they were laughing at her poor pronounciation. I noticed her stumbling over the basic phrase one learns in French 1-2 myself. In the past couple of weeks, I've sort of regretted my decision to take French freshman year, but after seeing the reporter's attempt, I'm glad I study the language of Napoleon, Lafayette, and Rousseau.
..... The reason for my loss of French fervor earlier this year was that I've come to appreciate my own language, Tagalog. 40% of informal speech between Tagalog speakers a day is made up of Spanish loan words. I filled my head with doubts as to whether taking French was a smart choice, given the idea that learning Spanish could enhance my Tagalog. One of the main reasons I took French, however, was to be different from what was expected of me.
..... My parents encouraged my brother to take Spanish in order to help translate for our Mexican customers. Like me, my brother had wanted to take French ever since he was young, but conformed to their wishes. I, however, broke from what my parents desired and instead took French since I thought Spanish would be too similar to my native language. French provides me difficult challenges, but ones that allow me to grow in my understanding.
..... Now in Journalism: Graphic Design and Photography, Tiffany and I are making a brochure to promote the French program at Stagg. French is a language spoken by 6 million people in the U.S. as a second language. Plus, French is spoken worlwide in five continents. Other than English, it is also taught in every country as a second language. Spanish may be a growing tongue here in America, but French still retains its relevancy. (That's right Mrs. Weir-Graham, au contraire!)
..... For people trying to decide whether to study French or Spanish, I recommend thinking about the following. Spanish is easier to pronounce, but with diligent practice one can achieve the refined French "r" and other phonetic sounds quickly. French also has easier grammar, something quite foreign to my friends studying Spanish and its four different words for "you." Whether, you're more of a Francophone than a Hispanohablante (or the other way around), at least your taking the steps to learning and experiencing a different culture through its language. So don't be intimidated in trying something new, since twenty years from now, you won't want to be the reporter messing up the native language of a country your assigned to report about.

- Jeremy Dela Cruz

That Religious Guy: The Haiti Syndrome

..... We've all heard of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January. Many nations and individuals have rushed to the impoverished country, offering humanitarian aid. How are the local Delta Kings and Queens helping out? Members of AVID collected change for Haiti in little takeout boxes. Mr. Walter even held a donation jar for Haiti as well. Some students, however, find that it's their duty to remind others to not be wasteful of food and other goods for the sake of the Haitians, even though they sound condescending when they do it.

..... When someone fails to consume their pizza crust, a stray fry, or even an abandoned carrot stick, these concerned citizens immediately respond with, "That could feed the starving people in Haiti you know." One person even came to the insulting conclusion that one pizza crust could feed many Haitians. Though possible, this idea basically reduces the Haitians into poor animals fighting for food. Instead of reminding people to clean their plates, individuals who love to bring up the plight of Haiti should actually do something more productive with their time like raising funds.
..... Every person has dignity. A natural disaster doesn't lessen this fact. Haiti will soon be forgotten as the place where people are suffering once another earthquake or typhoon strikes a country. Then the retorts trying to stand up for Haiti will be replaced with the name of said country. Like the struggles in Haiti, hopefully people will stop trying to be sarcastic in their championing of causes. The real heroes for Haiti are actually there, not in some cafeteria or classroom nagging others.

- Jeremy Dela Cruz

Saturday, February 20, 2010

That Religious Guy: Vote Vote Vote!

..... 'Twas a month ago I believe when Missy Rae and I sent some blog entries into the My Life 24-7 online contest. Winners get a biweekly column on the MyLife 24-7 blog and the first annual international MyLife 24-7 Writing Award. All you have to do is vote for our entries in the following links. Jeremy's Entry. Missy Rae's Entry. So fire up your computers and get to voting. I'm Jeremy Dela Cruz, and I approve this message.

Tha Religious Guy: The News Anchor, The Bruise, and Biden's Forehead

..... Just recently, Sky News news anchor, Kay Burley believed she saw a large bruise on the forehead of American vice-president Joe Biden, saying that he must've gotten it from an accident in the Winter Olympics. How embarassing! Didn't anyone tell Mr. Biden that he had a boo-boo on his face? Oh, wait. It was Ash Wednesday, and as a Catholic, Biden received a sign of faith on his forehead. Burley, however, didn't stop her downhill descent into rudeness there however. After she was properly informed of her error, she tried to make amends during the commercial break by saying, "I know I'm a very bad Catholic. I know I should know that today is Ash Wednesday and that's why he'd got ash across his forehead. I've said three Hail Marys, everything is going to be fine."
..... Her initial mistake that the mark on Biden's forehead was a bruise is harmless enough. She's only an accomplished journalist who must've studied at prestigious places to get to where she is today. But apparently, no one growing up ever exposed her to the Ash Wednesday custom. I guess not one of the 1.166 billion Roman Catholics in the world bothered to tell her...  It's no wonder that people think the press just doesn't get religion. The press butchers religion pieces every day, as you can see from the many entries at Burley is just another example of a journalist misinformed about the communities that she reports to. One would think that being educated members of society, journalists would be able to relate to their viewers, readers, or listeners more. I guess a good education can only get you so far...
..... The main reason why I sit her tonight, slapping the letters on this keyboard (That's a nice mental image haha), is that her second comment is so irritating because it exposes her impertinence. Yup, that's right. Impertinence. Ms. Schut's vocabulary list comes in handy at times! Burley admits she's a bad Catholic but just doesn't leave it at that. Then she mocks her faith by saying she's prayed three hail marys and so she is obviously absolved of any wrongdoing. Burley was alluding to the practice of penance after confession, a custom almost always involving the Marian prayer. It's so annoying how certain individuals, especially lapsed Catholics, make fun of the Church by ridiculing its traditions and sacraments. Why can't they pick on someone their own size? Humph! 
..... A journalist should be a Jack-of-all-trades in terms of knowledge about others. He should learn about many cultures, ideas, and religions to the point that he would never think of offending one particular group. Burley should've had some cultural sensitivity. Instead, she assumed one thing and when you assume, you make an... Well you know what comes after that.

- Jeremy Dela Cruz

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Reporters View

As a high school reporter I've felt limited to the coverage topics. I'd see people on the streets or events going on and I've wanted to go further, I've wanted to report that story. The problem would be how someone's story who doesn't attend Stagg or have any connections to it would be of any interest to our students. Last night I was given the opportunity to come along with my friend to a formal community meeting.

I've always blamed myself for not going beyond and over but I finally did it. I took time out of my day to be at that meeting, and in the end I wished so many more would have done so also. An audience member gave a very significant comment, it went somewhat like this, "it's great that we're all here but like before we'll leave and then what?" She was implying that there needs to be a plan, a process where we the community can be more involved.

I just kept thinking t myself she is completely right. I don't want it to end that night I felt empowered by the meeting I had a passion to address the problem. I was proud to have been a part of the audience but now we must join and all be a part of the solution. ESPINO provided the meeting so that we could learn and have awareness, as a community we must provide a drive to gather and unite to stop "the train coming at full speed."
Let us put a stop to the expansion of jails. Let us fight for the better of our families. Let us fight for you, for them, and for ourselves. The price of education is more valuable yet we let our leaders confuse us and convince us to allow the worst, don't expand prisons, expand our minds. An organization says it all, "books not bars."

Thursday, February 18, 2010


We began this Community Town Hall Meeting with a video. The video was filled with content and speeches from common people to well-known African American's in our history speaking about their views on incarceration.

Quotes varied, but these two left me with a lingering feeling...
* "Incarceration is the new slavery."
* "The clock is stuck on now or never."

Incarceration is a never ending cycle that needs to be broken. It is a job for the patient, the determined, the head-strong, and ambitious one's that will never take no for an answer. Well, it's much easier said than done, and I've learned that through tonight's presention. There were four people on the panel. Each one of them represent a city and organization in California, and they are all fighting for the same thing -- to stop the spread and expansion of prison facilities.

Before the panel spoke, and after the viewing of the video, Juanita Rivera spoke to us, and shared her tears with us, about her experience with incarceration. Her son ended up in jail at the age of 17 and he was sentenced to 18 years for a crime he did not commit, but was an accesory to. He is now 31 years old and still has 4 years to go. When he went into jail, he left behind a daughter, Desiree Lucero, that was one at the time, and she is now a sophomore in high school. She spoke tonight as well. Rivera read parts of the letter from her son; his words moved and touched me in a sensitive part of my heart. I felt the chills roll down my spine and arms when she read it... "Never give up on yourself, even when everyone else does." This opened my eyes to the fact that people who are in jail are still human; they just made a mistake that is a lot more serious than what we make on a daily basis. He was just a child, but he had to take what happened in the end like a man. The fact of the matter is: he never stopped being a kid. So, does justice mean making a mistake and paying your life for it? I'll leave that question up to you to answer.

We then transitioned into the panel discussion and the panel consisted of these four people:
* Zachary Norris, Books Not Bars (Bay Area)
* Debbie Reyes, CA Prison Moratorium Project (Central Valley/Fresno)
* Motecuzoma Sanchez, ESPINO (Central Valley/Stockton)
* Aaliyah Muhammad, All of Us or None (Sacramento)

Norris believes that it's a "racial justice issue". He let us know the facts that matter, the facts that made us listen. Eighty-five percent of African Americans get locked up for drugs, but it's 70 percent of causasian's that use and sell the drugs. But what color do we see more frequently behind bars that consume the space of a jail cell? Black. Not white. He made me realize the harsh reality we live in: the United States may have overcome segregation, but what do we call a "justice system" that puts every color behind bars but white? I'm not saying that there aren't caucasian's in jail, but there are few compared to the number of African Americans. Justice is being served unequally.

Reyes was passionate and tended to talk in a high voice, but we all understood where she was coming from. Because this isn't an issue to put on the backburner, this is our future fellow teens. WE HAVE GOT TO DO SOMETHING. She made me feel like I matter, just as much as anyone else in the room. But that's the sad reality -- we ALL matter, but not everyone takes adantage of their voice.

Sanchez wasn't afraid of the facts, nor was he intimidated by the fact that Stockton is opening up three new prison facilites in Southeast Stockton, making us No.1 in California for the most prison facilities. He is determined to be heard and is wishing for more of the community to get involved, because "if we start making noise, they'll have to listen." He questioned, "what happened to the land of the free and home of the brave?" We as a community need to step up, together.

Muhammad's organization wants to fight discrimination. She compares the system to a train; "There's a very heavy train coming our way and we have to stop it." She knows this is a horrible cycle that needs to be broken, and she wants our help to push that train off OUR tracks. She believes the system is set up by design: once you leave, you're destined to come back. To her, we, as a community, have the power to stop this cycle and build from the bottom up.

Each of them are very inspiring to me. I connected with what each and everyone of them had to say because they relate to how I feel. Maybe that's what our society needs: someone that connects with them, someone that relates to them and their situation. Sanchez said, "It's free to pay attention," so open your eyes and observe what is out there.

At the end of this meeting, one of the panel member's said, "we need to stop fighting each other, and start fighting as a citizen." So help us out and do yourself a favor by voting, attending these meetings, or engaging yourself into what is happening RIGHT now, because WE ARE THE FUTURE.

MARCH 4: At 3:30 people will be gathering at Center and Channel Street to begin a march at 4 p.m. They are asking us to wear black, and we will be marching all the way to Delta college where a candle-lit ceremony will begin.

Educate, not incarcerate.
Did you know that it's cheaper to go to Harvard than it is to get incarcerated? I don't know about you, but I'd rather have a college degree than a record.

Going beyond my circle

I am in my fourth year of journalism, and as long as I've known Mr. Bott, he's always wanted his students to look beyond their circle. I had always assumed that going beyond my circle would be getting out of my comfort zone, which is what he has always asked, and I've always done just that. But recently, I didn't just go beyond my circle, I went beyond my culture. I walked in the shoes of someone who is apart of me, but lives the life I was never accustomed to. Her name is Franci, and she doesn't speak english yet I do. She speaks spanish, the language I lack an understanding of, yet I am half mexican.

For this upcoming issue, we're doing a features package on students with different cultures on our campus. We're focusing on students who have what the average American likes to call, an "unsual" lifestyle. Their life at school seems perfectly normal, but when they go home, it's completely different from the average American's life. The differences vary from language to food, to praying and celebrating, to taking that first step into their home and realizing that they live in a unique place in America. As an American, I've grown accustomed to school, homework, sports practice, fast food, my cell phone and all the popular websites we teens obsess about.

I hadn't planned on writing for this package, but my co-Editor-in-Chief, Sam, asked me to write a story with her, and I couldn't refuse. Sam and I have been working together for four years, but throughout this year, we've done everything together, therefore making our relationship stronger. She, as well as Franci, speaks spanish, and yet again, I still do not. When we first interviewed Franci, we introduced ourselves and Sam began speaking to her in spanish. I was standing there waiting to understand something, maybe Franci talk to me in english, BUT she never did due to the fact that she's only been here 8 months and only knows spanish! Out of ALL the interviews I have ever done within the four years I've been in journalism, I have never interviewed someone who didn't know english. So I began to question myself: Was I REALLY going out of my comfort zone all these years? Well, yes. But now, my circle just got even bigger.

The coolest part about this is that I have no idea what Sam is asking Franci! Hell, they could be talking about me and I'd have no clue. But that's the coolest part. Why is that cool? Because it was my first interview in ANOTHER language, and I wasn't afraid of looking dumb because I didn't understand what they were saying! We all experience things to understand what we don't know, and that tests our initiative to want to learn more, and I swear that is so awesome to me. To see my co EIC interview her in their language was amazing, because I've never heard Sam hold a conversation in spanish, let alone interview AND take notes in anything other than english. The only thing I could do was listen, listen harder then I ever have in an interview before. Being half mexican and not knowing spanish has never hurt me, until now. I wish I would have had my father, whose first language is spanish, teach me spanish. And I wish I could spend more time with that side of my family to understand where half of me comes from. Because if Franci can begin her life at 16 years old in America and attempt to learn english, what in the world is holding me back from learning spanish when it's always been in front of me, and will always be apart of me? I know what it is in the world - it's comfort. I've been too comfortable my entire life with just knowing english...
Until now.

Walking into her home where her parents only know spanish made me feel like an outsider, even though they treated me as equally as Sam. But I continued to feel as if something were missing. It was the fact that I was welcomed into a home, where I knew close to nothing about how they lived. I sat back and observed. I caught myself being attracted to items in their home that I have always seen before, but never really paid any attention to until now, when I am expected to see ask about these differences. I can say that nothing about this family was too "unusual". It was rather, perfect, like a family should be. A mother, a father, a sibling? That's not the difference of a Spanish family compared to American family. What I consider to be different here is how Franci's family grows, learns, and lives together. They are bonded by who they are, not trying to conform into what the stereotype of an American family should be. To this day, I can ask: what IS the typical American family? ... Exactly, I couldn't figure it out either. Or maybe you did, but I still cannot. American's these day seem to get too wrapped up in trying to represent something, trying to live "normal", or trying to be something they're just not.

And what's "normal"? Because we're all different, yet we all claim to be normal and point fingers and say "he/she's abnormal". Well guess what, we're all weird and "unusual". Someone is always going to think you're different, and that's what is normal; is that we are all different.

If only everyone could peek into someone else's window and observe their life, maybe we'd be more open-minded. I mean, we live in Stockton; we're as diverse as it gets. You can look to your left and their will most likely be someone who is NOT your ethnicity, or maybe look to your right and I guarentee they won't be wearing the same outift as you; because maybe, just maybe, their image at school is not as important as their culture at home.

Im just saying: Before you look beyond your circle, observe who is around you, and ask yourself, “what is their story?” …

Because we are all surrounded by differences.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Interview for Feature profile: Subject Franci Segura

Once we found a person for our cultural puzzle, my partner Arianna and I took the first step into our story. We went to Segura's classroom and asked to speak with her. She speaks only Spanish so my partner Arianna was coming along on an interesting ride. I am a bilingual speaker so it wasn't a barrier for me. We first explain our purpose and the overall idea of the features package. She accepts and conversation begins. Arianna witnessed the ooh's and aww's I expressed and was captivated by the speech occurring in front of her.

We finished the interview and she showed her interest openly. Arianna was intrigued about what had just occurred. I thought to myself, "all we did was talk in SPANISH." That was when it occurred to me that my ability to speak another language was never really appreciated. I have always wanted to learn another language and much more but before I start to drift off topic my point is that I have an amazing advantage and I am more than pleased to have my partner Arianna
be a part of this story.

She and I visited Segura's classroom daily during the remaining week not only to speak to her but also to others. We arranged to take her home so we could take a look into her life. It was today that Arianna and I, accompanied by Franci, toured her home. While Arianna drove, I was attempting to inform myself more on Franci's personality and on the life she lived in Guanajuato. At times I felt like I was offending Arianna because she didn't understand when we spoke Spanish but then like I was offending Franci when I talked to Arianna.

I can admit it was a very interesting drive going from one language to another. Fortunately both Arianna and Franci understand there was no disrespect in either conversation. Arianna and I met her parents and her baby brother. I was pleased at how nicely we were accepted not only into their home but also every room of their house.

From the very first interview to the home visit, Arianna never lost interest. I am satisfied with the results of our partnership and find our procedures very beneficial. I was able to connect with everything Segura and her family shared with me. My most important task will be relating my experience to those like Arianna, who are interested to experience and learn the many different cultures available but unfortunately cannot because of an obstacle.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

CARINA 360°: What IS Love?

With Valentine's day just around the corner, I feel it appropriate for a love blog.
And what I found was that love comes in many shapes and forms.

I was watching a show on the National Geographic Channel called Taboo.
The “taboo” topic was love.

In the show, they documented Dave Cat and his wife of 10 years, Shidore.
She has purple hair, glasses, silicone breast ... and skin.

She is a doll, but not your average Barbie.

She is what they call, "Love Dolls." Realistic, human looking dolls that cost around $6,500. The websites claim they are exactly like real women. They even have simulated sex organs. (Just like a real lady, but without all the nagging!)

What I found so shocking is that Cat truly feels love for his doll. Calling himself a "doll husband,” finding comfort knowing she won't reject him.

If he weren’t enough, a man was featured with nine doll girlfriends. For him, he said he doesn’t know how to charm an actual female to bed, so he settles for the dolls.

Think of it as “Lars and the Real Girl,” times ten.

In Australia, it was a different kind of love. Cameras followed a couple who practice “negotiated infidelity.” It’s almost like being swingers, but instead of watching your lover have sex with someone else, you leave them alone in the room.

Yes, while the boyfriend is in the living room reading a magazine, his girlfriend, is in their bedroom doing the dirty with a man she met at a bar.

The girlfriend, Holly Hill, who’s also an author about relationships, says to think men as monogamous is, “very naïve.” Also, If you want your men to stay, you got to let him have sex with other women. She sees it as a gift to her partner. If he’s doing something he likes, why would you feel bad?

However there are boundaries for this loving couple. Absolutely NO intimacy, purely sex.

Personally, I’m a one boy kind of girl. Besides, wasn’t the brain built to be monogamous?

Love is a hard thing to define. So For you, my readers, a question.

What is the definition of love?

One man and one woman for eternity? A warm fuzzy feeling?
One man and nine dolls?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I have discovered my blogger identity!

I love chocolate so much that I have decided to make it my blogger identity.

Researching, taste testing, name it, I'll do it.

So, coming soon is a blog on latest "choco" research :)

(2-3 weeks)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

iMissyRae 2.0: "Drexting"

It's 11:36 pm and I'm in a five seat Honda that hides seven teenagers within. Myself and four others sit crammed in the backseat, envious of the ones who sit comfortably in the driver's and passenger's seat. Another friend of our's lies on our laps, her head constantly hitting the door side at any bump or turn. Our arms lie on each other's shoulders to create an extra fraction of room for our cramped bodies. My chest feels vacant since no seat belt is holding me down and I glance at the others in the backseat; I see that they aren't wearing theirs either. This is illegal, this is illegal, I chant in my head, but push the thought away. At least we're having fun, I think. The windows are sweating droplets, and I crack my window open. The cold winter air finds its way into the car, and we all sigh out of pleasure. The once humid air in the car is now crisp and fresh, but I know I'll close my window once we begin to shiver. This cycle of opening/closing my window will continue on throughout the night and I laugh siliently.

We're driving, illegally I think, on the infamous "8 Mile Road" in Northern Stockton, hoping to catch a glimpse of anything supernatural. Numerous stories have circulated about the ghosts and monsters of this long stretch of pavement, and as adrenaline junkies, we crave fear. Jerry, our legally licensed, 17 year old driver, speeds past the suburbs of eight mile, and we smile at each other in anticipation. Beck Ranch, Spanos Park East, Trinity Parkway, West Spanos, and then nothing. The road becomes narrow, unlevel, bumpy, and the darkness engulfs the white car. Jerry's headlights highlight the road ahead but as I look out my window, I find nothing but shadows. I look at the clock on the dashboard and though it reads 11:43 pm, I feel as if time has stopped because of us, because of these stupid teenagers who are bound to be pulled over by an anxious and waiting policeman. I cringe at the thought and my heartbeat quickens. Stockton is far behind us, and the tiny road leaves no room for a U-turn. It's too late, I think.

Jerry turns the music off and we sit quietly as the car bobs this way and that on the uneven road. No one seems to be around for miles, and some see this as an opportunity to experiment with the darkness that surrounds the little car. "Turn off the headlights," pleads a friend. "I want to see what it looks like!" What a dumb question, I think. Of course it will be pitch black but Jerry finds this request amusing and in response turns off his high beams. The black night blinds us, and we are left with shadows and then nothing. Most scream while others exclaim how "fun" this is turning out to be. One other is letting out a stream of curses and yells at our driver. Jerry immediately turns his headlights back on and we take deep breaths to steady ourselves. Jerry's cell phone is vibrating and he glances down at it with longing.

"Keep your eyes on the road," I say.

We continue to drive past fields and trees, aimlessly pleading with fate to allow us to see something or hear something ominous and terrifying. But the mood shifts and soon we're laughing at a comment someone made about another one of our friends. I notice Jerry is driving quite faster now, pushing the speedometer towards 40, 45, 50, and soon 60. His phone buzzes again, and he seems reluctant to leave it sitting there all alone. He picks it up despite my scolding and looks down to read his text. The others continue to laugh when something catches my eye and I turn suddenly to the road ahead.

There is a red Mustang speeding towards us and I finally realize that Jerry has drifted into the other lane. The Mustang is frantically honking its horn at us and I realize that the road is to narrow for the car to escape. It's trapped, I think. I scream at Jerry to look ahead and he lets out a scream. The Honda swerves back into the right lane, and the Mustang speeds by unharmed. Exclamations of anger and fear arise and we skid to a stop on the side of the road while the mustang's horn blares in the distance. Elizabeth, the one who lies on our laps, is cursing angrily at Jerry and soon sits up to take his phone. Despite his angry plea, she throws his phone out the window and we are shocked into silence.

Soon we're driving everyone home and there are now only four of us in the car. I sit in the backseat, humming in the awkward quietness and let out a smug sigh.

"I told you not to look at your phone," I say.