Wednesday, April 14, 2010

iMissyRae 2.0: Applied and Denied?

Being the ever so curious and bored teenager that I usually am, I've recently been following a blog on the New York Times website called "The Choice" which is dedicated to 'demystifying college admissions and aid.' Since senior year is weeks away, I've found that college is no longer an urban legend, and seeing as I'm not spending my time studying for the May SAT, I've decided to follow the blog's recent series, "The Envelope, Please."

The series focuses on six high school seniors across the nation who blog about their personal college application journies and how they deal with the string of acceptances and rejections that follows behind them. One blogger I've especially been fond of is Anna Paik, a senior from Immaculate Heart High School in the sunny Los Angeles area. One of her recent blogs especially caught my eye, and it talks about her recovery from the 11 rejections she received out of the 14 colleges she applied to. To sum it all up, as Paik said, "the college process makes us all vulnerable" and although I haven't started applying to college as of yet, I'm not sure if I'll ever be ready to.

College is the one instituion in America that allows people to judge teenagers based on their grades, extracurricular activities, and standardized testing scores. College applicants practically lay their life out on a piece of paper for admissions offices who tell them whether or not they're good enough to attend that certain school. And with the teens of today, who can handle such criticism and rejection? I certainly couldn't. And neither could Paik (click here for Paik's rejection blog).

You would think an intelligent and unique girl like Paik would get into her dream college, especially after writing for the New York Times website (imagine putting that on your college application). But no, she didn't. She applied to her top choices, such as Stanford and University of California Berkeley, and yet she didn't make the cut. She placed her head on the chopping block, and was sliced from the list. That, my fellow friends, takes courage, but it makes me ponder whether I'd be good enough to make it into my "dream college."

With the impending budget cuts in California, it's hard to be optimistic about the future of education. But after reading the rest of Paik's blog (click here to read it), I realized that the college application process is like the wind. One day, it'll just pick up out of nowhere, and when you least expect it, ruffle your hair a bit and annoy you, maybe even knock you down. But like the wind, the college application process will come and go, as quick as that.

Although I am still a junior in high school and have yet to experience the woes of applying to college, I will one day endure a certain sheaf of rejections that will probably make me question my self-worth, and who knows, maybe even allow me to gain that "freshman 15" before college even starts. But when that time comes and I am up to my elbows in pessimism, I'll remember to keep my head above the water and wait it out, because like Paik said, "we’re much too young to be cynical."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

That Religious Guy: Cowards and their Keyboards

..... I've always found it interesting that people are so civilized, polite, and nice... In public that is. Sure there's the occasional playful teasing from friends and politically incorrect jokes, but both actions aim to entertain rather than offend. I guess being out in the open, in front of judging eyes, prevents people from exposing their real personalities, which reminds me of a good proverb I read somewhere: A man's character should be determined not from what he does in public but what he does in private. Sadly, in this morally gilded age lies a dark underbelly of rudeness and prejudice, a lesson I learned from revisiting my Yahoo! Answers account.
..... I've had a Yahoo! Answers account since December of last year, but I hardly ever used it. Recently, I've discovered how fun it is to help others with their problems. I usually frequent the language questions, helping certain users with dilemmas concerning French, English, or Tagalog. So far, I've only had one best answer, but I aim to sooner or later hit the jackpot and have a "Top Contributor" logo underneath my alias, That Religious Guy. I digress however. So, I realized that I myself could start posting questions about my new favorite subject: languages. My interest was sparked a couple months ago by Philippine Spanish, or the brand of Castellano spoken by Filipinos. Through my limited research, I learned that native Filipino hispanohablantes have their own accent and use different phrases as opposed to the Mexicans, Cubans, etc.
..... I wanted to know more, however, so I posted a question on Yahoo! Answers along the lines of wanting to know more about the specifics of the Philippine Spanish accent and how I could mimic it. Sadly, instead of gaining helpful information, I got this as a response:

"Just keep following the road to El Dorado, and USA will back your scrawn.y wetbac.k spi.c as.s up.

The thing about the Spanish language is that it is originally phonetic. It is probably more phonetic than Italian language, and its transcript sticks true to the sound, and thus becomes the fore front language of Empires, and just like That Religious Guy, religion (old).

French on the other hand is like saucy language, where there are flying accents here and there, as if they are being naughty and Julius Caesar needs to spank them to bed."

..... Now I have a thick a skin as the next guy, but still, being called a "wetback" even though I'm not Mexican hurt a little. I knew that whoever posted that answer meant to truly offend me for desiring to know more about the Spanish language. I also believe that the person in question, we'll call him Scrooge, thought I was living in the Philippines and therefore thought me inferior. Though I am "a little brown brother" as the old U.S. imperialists would say, I'm also an American citizen and I do not take to being treated badly too kindly. Scrooge's comment was mildly amusing since it described the French language in such a hmmm.... What's the word? Interesting? Yes, in an interesting way. (Note: I mentioned that I was going to take AP French next year in my Yahoo! Answers question.)
..... There are so many issues with Scrooge's response. Not only did he insult an ethnicity and linguistic group, but he proves to be one of the many cowards sitting at home trying to rain on the parades of others. I don't understand why some people, once they get behind closed doors, become savage creatures bent on insulting others. Where do they get their courage from? Probably from the notion that no one can hold them accountable for whatever they say or type in private. Still, this should never be an excuse to be rude like Scrooge. His weapon of choice? The keyboard. His target? People trying to get an informative answer. His reward? A semi-angry post by yours truly, That Religious Guy.

- Jeremy Dela Cruz

Clearly Claire: 'Remember Me' has unnecessary ending

It was Saturday afternoon, I had just woken up and was still groggy when I went to my computer to read reviews from (I love the show, so I always check the website before seeing a movie.) I had been planning on seeing the movie "She's Out of My League" and was checking to see if it had gotten good ratings. I stumbled upon angry blogs about a movie called "Remember Me".

This intrigued me. What about this non-vampire-loving Robert Pattinson movie had gotten all these viewers so steamed? Everyone said that movie was unnecessary. It's ending was cheap and only there to get a quick tear from everyone in the audience. I had heard all of this but it only made me want to see it more. No one would say what the ending was, but I had to know what had rilled up so many feathers.

I drove as quickly as I could to the 4:45 showing, sat in the plush chair with an arm full of Sour Patch Kids and Popcorn, and prepared myself for a teen drama about finding yourself. Something I had see before, but I was not prepared for what I was about to see.

(SPOILER: I am going to reveal the ending, so if you want to see the movie don't read. It isn't really worth seeing, but just in case.) Pattinson's character falls in love, endures a brother's suicide, and finally makes up with his stone-hearted father when the ending rolled around. I thought the movie was about to be over, so I packed up my purse, unsure of why a nation had been angered by this movie and then it happened.

A teacher on screen wrote September 11, 2001 on the board and the cameras pan away from Pattinson to show him inside one of the Twin Towers.

That is when I lost it. Tears began to pour from my face in buckets. My nose began to run and I sniffed along with every other person in the room. This all happened before the airplanes even hit. The little boy who had been sitting next to me bored through the entire movie looked up at his teary-eyed mother and asked "Why is that girl crying?". I lost it again. It had been so long since I had thought of that day, but when I saw the crash, it all came rushing back. The fears, the emotions, the knowledge that nothing was ever going to be the same.

The thing was, I wasn't crying because Pattinson's character died, although it was sad, I was crying because of the Towers falling and remembering the way I felt that day. I was suddenly as angry as the Rotten Tomatoes bloggers. How dare the filmmakers take advantage of our tragedy in order to get cheap tears, especially from pre-teens who probably didn't even remember that day, let alone what it represented. The movie would have been fine without that ending, better in fact, because I wouldn't have felt so awful. I get that the filmmakers wanted the ending to be sad, but they did not have to do it in that way.

I'm not saying that we can never have movies about 9/ll, but if we do, I want them to be worth something. If you are going to make me cry, do it for a better reason than, just because you can. I hate movies that take advantage of dire moments in history in order to get people to cry. I now understand the anger and decided to add my own blog to Rotten Tomatoes. You filmmakers did it, you rilled my feathers.

Journalistic Experience in Prison

The week before spring break I was assured a spot on our prison tour. I was flattered to be given the opportunity and quite frankly didn't think much of it. It wasn't until a couple of days before break that I realized the importance and complications of the trip.

It had not occurred to me that my life could possibly be in danger. It wasn't a problem until Mario Reyes a former parole officer gave us the final details. If you were to be held hostage, "we cannot negotiate."

For some reason that initiated my fears. I began to think, "You’re telling me if I were to be taken hostage, all you can do is watch." Of course that was not the situation.

I was asserted that I would be safe and Reyes even mentioned he felt safer in the prison than he did on the streets. I guess you could say it wasn't that big a deal but for me it was.

I just kept thinking, "there will be all these men who I know nothing about." Of course I had to think the worst I had to think they were the worst of the worst just to be cautious, so I wisely prepared myself.

First I knew I did not wish to attract attention with apparel and even if I did the dress code would not allow it. My goal was to look dull, simple, and manly. I wasn't expecting to spend money on clothes for this trip so I searched and searched for an appropriate outfit. It came down to some old black maternity capris, a grey gym t-shirt, and grey tennis shoes. And no I'm not pregnant but I'm not rich either.

Second I had to make sure nothing on me was appealing. I made sure I did not wear any make-up. The morning of the trip I basically had it easy and placed my hair in a super simple bun. I chose not to wear perfume or excess deodorant. I know it may seem kinda nasty, but if something were to happen I need to know I did everything to camouflage myself. I must not forget to add that I even removed my nail polish.

Finally I needed to picture in my head how the tour would go. I know as a courteous and respectful journalist there was to be no laughing once in prison. I decided I would try to have a subtle face with very little emotion. Once we entered the institution, I transformed myself into the dull reporter I had prepared to be.

Instantly my emotions went blank and my eyes focused on the speaker. I watched men in orange suits walk past the group and I through my peripheral vision only. My eyes did not shift further from the speaker or my note pad in fear of being faced with the eyes of convicts.

Some inmates giggled and whispered, others were just accustomed to visitors like us. Or maybe they stayed silent knowing that a single word could become a punishment increasing their stay in prison.

Not long after we entered DVI the alarm rang. We did as we were told to do days before, we lined ourselves against the wall and watched officers run to the problem. I must admit it was quite a sight. The longer I stood writing nearly everything I heard done, the less awkward I felt.

We ended our tour interviewing a few main liners who are expected to stay incarcerated for the rest of their lives. This experience was harmless. I now know what a real prison looks like and the many reasons why it's a million times better to be miserable at home than to set foot in prison as a convict.

For more on this eye opening trip and for stories on the prisoners whom we spoke with visit our website or contact our school to receive a printed edition of The StaggLine.

Thank you!