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Feb. 21st, 2017

Trolley Problem

Five different brands of chips, candy, and soda were scattered haphazardly throughout the tiny dorm room. Fluffy pillows covered with purple and blue pillow cases were used as cushions in the space in-between two twin sized beds. Gently used school books and notebooks with barely legible handwriting highlighted in bright neon colors lie open on the floor, but they were sorely neglected by the three young women sitting around them.

Mila was laying on her stomach with her knees bent and her feet up in the air. She had a Twizzler sticking out of her mouth as she munched on the end. Absently, she twirled a strand of her dark hair around her index finger as if she was some valley girl in Southern California. “Oh, hey!” she exclaimed suddenly. “In Professor Park’s class today, he gave us a kind of interesting scenario to think about today.”

With her hands, Mila pushed herself up and pulled her knees forward until she was sitting on her butt. “So,” she said after catching her breath from her sudden movement. “There is this runaway train barreling down the tracks towards five people that are tied up. You are near the lever that will send the train down the side track, but there is one person tied up on that track. What do you do?” she asked excitedly. It had been such an interesting conversation in class, that she was hoping that she get the same results with her friends.

Cora groaned in annoyance from where she was leaning up against one of the beds. She looked up from her phone only to roll her brown eyes in Mila’s direction. “Weren’t we supposed to figure out what take out to get?” she asked disdainfully. If the conversation wasn’t about food, then Cora obviously didn’t want to be apart of it given her snobbish attitude on the matter.

“Aww, come on, Cora. It’ll be fun!” Milla whined playfully towards her friend.

“Besides, I already place an online order to Pizza Hut,” Zoey chimed in from her sitting position on one of the purple pillows. She placed her phone on the floor near her school books. “You liked sausage, right?” She grinned ear to ear at Cora as she took the blue band around her lightly tanned wrist, and pulled her black hair up into a ponytail.

Cora clicked her tongue on the roof of her mouth, and looked back down at her phone. “Whatever,” she mumbled listlessly. Secretly, she was ecstatic that she would be able to fill her belly soon with delicious pizza. “I guess,” she said slowly. “I would save the one person.” Cora didn’t much care about the scenario presented, so she simply threw out the easiest answer.

Mila shook her head in disappointment, and looked to Zoey hopefully. One of her friends would play along, right?

Zoey pursed her lips together, and she leaned back on her elbows as the scenario played out in her mind. “I only have two options, right?” she asked. “I mean, I don’t have time to try and get more help?”

“Right,” Mila said with a nod of her head. “You can either save the five people, or you can save the one person.”

“Do I know any of these people?” Zoey asked thoughtfully. “Like, is the lone person on the other track a loved one?”

“Why are you asking these questions?” Cora asked. Despite the fact that her head was buried into her phone, she was paying attention to Zoey’s and Mila’s conversation.

“Stuff like this makes a difference when it comes to saving people,” Zoey explained to Cora. “I would like to say that I would be altruistic in every scenario, but I know I probably wouldn’t be. If loved ones were involved, then I would save my loved ones over a bunch of strangers. If children were involved, then I would save the children. I don’t get the option of being a superhero, so I can’t save both.”

“I think you are just making things more complicated than they should be,” Cora said.

“Maybe,” Zoey answered, then turned back to Mila.

“Uh, well, according to Professor Park, the group of five and the one person are all adult strangers,” Mila explained with a small smile. It seemed as if she had heard all of these questions before.

“Oh, well,” Zoey paused, and took in a deep breath only to let it out slowly. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one,” she recited. “So I would save the group of five.”

“The needs of the many…what?” Cora asked as she finally looked up to Zoey in confusion. “Who said that?”

“Spock. You know, from Star Trek?”

Cora and Mila looked bewildered for a few moments before they doubled over in laughter.

“What? It’s a good quote!” Zoey exclaimed, clearly aggravated that she was being mocked for quoting Star Trek. Thankfully, there was a knock at the door. Zoey stood up and tossed the pillow she was sitting on at Cora before she answered the door. “Pizza’s here!”

Feb. 9th, 2017

No Comment

Ominous clouds reflected off the mirror like glass of the downtown skyscraper. A light drizzle saturated the pavement as reporters, photographers, and cameramen gathered around the entrance of the building. A lone podium with numerous microphones attached was position just in front of the revolving main doors. A security detail of a dozen men occupied the space between the podium and the doors. Located behind the podium stood a handsome young man in a navy blue business suit. Two equally well dressed men stood on either side of him. After clearing his throat and adjusting his matching navy blue tie, the handsome young man spoke confidently into the microphones provided to him.

“Good afternoon, and thank you for joining me today on this gloomy looking day. As all of you know, I am CEO Aiken,” he announced to his gathered guests of journalist. “Now, I want to make this short, so I’m pleased to announce that we have finally got the green light to start building our newest project. With the public’s support, I’m sure this new project will create new jobs, and it will help our fine city prosper!”

There was a smattering of applause from the crowd but it certainly didn’t compare to the enthusiasm the CEO was expressing. Despite the lack of excitement, the CEO continued dauntlessly. “I’ll take any questions that you might have.”

After a few moments of journalist clamoring to get CEO Aiken’s attention, he pointed towards an older gentleman with graying and balding hair. He looked as if he had been in the business for years. His lifeless eyes were staring down at his little notepad filled with mundane and uninspiring questions.

“When do you plan on breaking ground on this new project?”

“Ah, excellent question, reporter Jefferson,” CEO Aiken’s answered with a pleased nod of his head. “If plans run smoothly, which I have no doubts that they will, then six months from now.”

The reporters began their attention grabbing commotion once again by shouting and waving their hands in the air in hopes of gaining CEO Aiken’s precious attention. After a few seconds of feeling as if he had people bidding on him, he pointed towards an amical and cheerful middle-aged man. While he seemed to be an experienced and professional reporter, he also appeared to be on more congenial terms with the CEO.

“During construction, are you expecting any significant delays when it comes to traffic?” he asked without looking down at his empty notepad.

“With any major project, there are always some minor inconveniences, Reporter Foss,” CEO Aiken answered. “I hope that the public will be understanding during the construction period. It will be worth some minor inconveniences in the end. Next question?”

The organized chaos of journalist began pushing and shoving each other to get at CEO Aiken one last time. A pleased smiled crossed the CEO’s face, as if he was enjoying the attention, before he finally pointed towards an eager young woman in her late 20’s. She seemed surprised, but she wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to shake things up.

“Due to public outcry against this project, the building permits were delayed. Though, after a very charitable donation to Congressman Kurtz’s campaign fund, your building permits were suddenly approved. Can you confirm or deny any of this information?” the young reporter asked.

The crowd grew silent, aside from a few whispers here and there. All eyes were on CEO Aiken. For a second, the confident and composed CEO looked shocked. He quickly recovered, and charmingly smiled towards the young woman. “Public sentiment changes over time, and we have been happy to work with their support for years. We all have high hopes for what this project can and will bring to our city,” he answered smoothly. “That will be all for today. Thank you.”

CEO Aiken turned and walked away from the podium. He glanced at one of the men at his side, and asked. “Who was that woman?”

“I believe, sir, that her name is Layla Samara. She’s a relatively new journalist,” the man answered.

“Hm, remind me to extend an invitation to her to speak about her future,” CEO Aiken said as he disappeared into his building.

Reporter Samara looked down at her notepad filled with provocative questions. With a pleased smile upon her face, she wrote “no comment” next to the question she had just asked moments ago.

Jan. 30th, 2017

Where I'm From

The warm afternoon sun plays peek-a-boo with white fluffy clouds on a beautiful spring day. The breeze rustles the newly blossomed leaves on the cottonwood tress. A large green tractor can be seen in the nearby wheat field, rolling wheat into large round bales of hay. Black and white dairy cows can be heard mooing as they wait for the farmer to feed them next door. Within a matter of minutes, dark storm clouds block out the playful sun, and threaten to disturb the peaceful environment. An angry rumble stills the heavy air before a loud clap of thunder explodes from above. Flashes of lightning strike the ground as rain furiously falls from the heavens. Despite the danger of the thunderstorm, the man in the tractor calmly finishes rolling his last bale of hay before going home. The thunder drowns out the sounds of mooing cows as they are rounded up into the dairy stables by the farmer next door.

As soon as it began, the angry little thunderstorm starts to taper off, leaving behind an eerie silence The clouds suddenly become thicker and darker as they slowly begin to swirl overhead. Tension builds within the silence as the swirling clouds form a funnel that finally touches the ground. Trees bend and break from the force of the violent winds. The ground shakes as if there was an earthquake. The sound of the cyclone is deafening as it rips through the land, destroying anything that is unlucky enough to be in its path.

After what seems like hours (even though it was only minutes)of listening to two freight trains crashing into each other, the chaos is suddenly gone. The sun tentatively peeks through the dissipating dark clouds, and life hesitantly comes out to survey the destruction the tornado left in its wake.

I grew up in central Oklahoma, and every tornado season (spring) a scene just like the one written above would happen. Actually, it would happen several times within the course of there months. I was sixteen years old when this scene played out right before my eyes.

My story actually started in my American History class. Mr. Sperry mentioned, while we were taking a break from writing notes, that it was a perfect day for tornadoes. I don't think any of us in class actually believed a tornado would hit that afternoon, but Mr. Sperry predicted the future.

After school, I went about my normal routine. I went home, threw my homework on the kitchen table, and joined my dad in the living room for eating dinner and watching afternoon cartoons. Once dinner was done, my dad took a nap, and I finished watching the cartoons before I moved into the game room to do whatever. I'm not exactly sure how I managed to get glued to news channel 9, but I remember watching the storm form on T.V. eighty miles southwest of where I lived. I watched as the tornado first formed, and I watched as it grew and left a massive path of destruction as it crashed right towards me.

A hour and a half before the tornado hit, I was in panic mode. We didn't have a basement or cellar, so the safest place in the house was in the closet underneath the staircase. The problem with that was that the closet was used for storage, so I cleaned out the closet like I was some sort of mad woman. My dad, on the other hand, was sitting calmly on the couch in the living room, watching news channel 9 (Gary England) tell us over and over again that we would not survive this tornado unless we were underground.

Ten minutes before the tornado hit, my dad finally decided that we needed to leave the house completely (by that point I was comfortably waiting for my doom in the closet underneath the staircase). Our across the street neighbor, Larry, had a cellar so we jumped into my dad's work van, drove to Larry's home, and piled into his cellar along with fifteen other people and someone's small annoying lap dog. I was crying because I was so terrified. My dad was still the calmest man alive, and Larry was busy trying to tell me that this was nothing more than a grand adventure (no, it wasn't).

By the time the tornado hit, it was over a mile wide. It had surpassed the highest ranking for tornadoes (F5), and the winds were over three hundred miles per hour. It was probably one of the loudest things I ever had to hear, and I had my ears covered. When I said that it sounded as if two freight trains were crashing into each other, I meant it. While it seemed much longer, it only lasted about three minutes. The tornado moved on to more populated areas.

During the chaos, a tree was knocked over by the powerful winds on top of the cellar door. Larry and my dad managed to squeeze out. With the help of some other people, they were able to pry the tree off the door so that the rest of us could get out. I couldn't wait for my dad as he was helping other people, so I walked home only to be reunited with my mom and my animals.

In the end, my mom, dad, and I were lucky. We lost part of the roof, a lot of the siding, some windows, and the foundation to the house was cracked. My aunt and uncle lost their home completely, their cars were wrapped around trees, and they even lost a dog. The important thing is that we all survived.

May 3rd, 1999. I survived the largest tornado in Oklahoma history.

Jan. 14th, 2017

Fear is the heart of love.

The sounds of cheers, laughter, anger, and drunken ramblings could almost drown out the sound of insipid music that filled the smoke saturated air. Even with the smoke permeated air, the smells of perfume, cologne, and the lack thereof managed to invade the nostrils. Dazzling and flashing lights mingled with the sounds of digitized reels falling serve as a distraction to befuddle the mind as money trickles from the pockets of the poor and hopeful into the pockets of the rich and greedy. It is difficult to distinguish someone amid the mob of inadequately controlled chaos, but every once in awhile a resplendent gem will stand out among the crowd.

A navy colored, Seahawks ball cap adorned his head. Traces of his trimmed black hair could be seen near the base of his neck. A gray, Nike hoodie with tiny black speckles covered his broad chest and shoulders. The hem of a faded light blue t-shirt could be seen underneath. Faded light blue jeans with frayed ends cascaded down his muscular legs. Simple white Jordans relaxed comfortably upon his feet. Under the brim of his hat, his monolid brown eyes were focused and stern. His complexion was youthful, but he was slowly coming into age. While he normally wore a neutral expression, every once in awhile a glint of metal could be seen when he smiled.

I can't help but laugh at the pretty prose I just wrote. It sounds as if I am madly in love with the man described above. The reality of the situation is that I am harboring a crush. This crush wasn't something that I intended to happen (not that anyone intends to develop feelings for someone). Now that it is here, there isn't much I can do about it.

As with any crush, it is a nice feeling in the beginning. I find myself trying just a little bit harder so that I can show my crush my best side. Whenever I see him, my heart beats faster. I also find myself day dreaming about things that could (but most likely won't) happen. The longer the crush lasts without any progress, self doubt settles in. Fear of so many things (rejection, embarrassment, driving him away, etc..) floods the mind until I feel as if I am going insane.

I think I can understand how fear is the heart of love (even though I'm not in love). My fear is that I am going to drive him away (even though I am the least intimidating person ever) if I act on my feelings. That leads to possible heartbreak. Though, maybe heartbreak, while I fear the pain, is better than the uncertainly I feel now. I suppose I just need to open myself up to the possibility of heartbreak. I might end up pleasantly surprised.

Jan. 5th, 2017

"I don't skate to where the puck is. I skate to where the puck is going to be."

There are times in life that I wish I could predict what life is gong to throw at me. Being able to set up a solid defense would be great, but life isn't quite like that. Life isn't some Wayne Gretzky quote about reading hockey plays. While there are certain things in life that we know are going to happen, life, on a whole, is spontaneous and unpredictable. A lot of times life is like that one bully in grade school that has fun tripping the other kids, head first, into mud puddles. Eventually, we all end up covered in mud at some point.

My mud covered moment happened four and a half years ago. I was in a good place with my life. I was actively losing weight, I had just turned thirty, and I had just earned my Associate's Degree. I was content with my place in life, but then Father's Day rolled around.

Like the dutiful daughter that I am, I called my dad to wish him a happy Father's Day. It wasn't an especially touching conversation. It lasted for about fifteen minutes (my drive home from work). I did notice, while talking to my dad, something wasn't quite right just from the sound of his voice. I asked him if he was okay, and he assured me that while he didn't sleep very well, he was fine. I was a little skeptical because he sounded awful, but I eventually let it go. I told him that I loved him, and that was the last time that I talked to him. My dad died a week later on June 24, 2012.

My mom and I spent the next year work on emotional damage control. Despite knowing that death was a certainty in life, we didn't have a defense line set up for when it would happen. Matter of fact, my dad didn't even have a defense line set up for when it would happen (he didn't have a will). Maybe it is possible to read life the way Wayne Gretzky could read hockey plays, but you still wouldn't be able to set up a solid defense line. Life will suddenly turn into that bully child from grade school, sneak up on you, and suddenly trip you into the nearest mud puddle when you least expect it.

Dec. 13th, 2016

Brushback Pitch

The director walked into the meeting room in which the expectant writing staff was waiting. He dropped a couple of blue binders filled with photocopies of the television script upon the table, causing a loud thud to echo throughout the room. Slowly, each writer took a photocopy of the script from the binders as the director wound up his pitch.

"This is what is going to happen next," the director said to the gathered writing staff. From the look on the director's face, it seemed as if he had come up with the most original idea in all of television. This one idea was going to be better than all six seasons of Game of Thrones. The writers could practically see dollar signs flashing in the director's eyes.

"After ten episodes, the main characters are finally together. The romantic tension has finally come to an end with the music swelling in the background, the main characters kissing, and the audience's hearts melting. They seem to be heading in the direction of that happily ever after," the director explained animatedly with his hands.

"But," he stated, raising one finger for dramatic emphasis. "The female lead's uncle learns of their new relationship. He decides to use his poor niece as a way to control the rebellious male lead. As you well know, the male lead is currently making waves within the company for which they all three work. Realizing what her uncle is doing, the female lead harshly breaks things off with the male lead in a desperate attempt to save him from any major trouble with her uncle. It is quite selfless and heartbreaking. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it!"

The director wiped away the tears that weren't forming in his eyes after delivering his pitch, and waited impatiently for the writer's reactions to his epic idea. It was almost as if he was waiting for the writers to jump out of the chairs with deafening applause for his obvious genius. Though, much to his dismay and annoyance, the writers only rewarded him with a very hesitant and unenthusiastic clap.

"Well," one of the writers tentatively said, "it isn't a BAD idea."

It was a horrible idea. It had been done before, over and over again. There was nothing ground breaking about this idea, but they couldn't very well go against the director.

"What if, instead of the female lead breaking things off with the male lead, they stay together through the difficult times to only strengthen their relationship?" Another writer bravely ventured. "The female lead could act like a spy for the male lead while deceiving her uncle into believing that he is actually using her against her new love."

The director didn't look impressed. He crossed his arms over his chest, and glowered at the writers before him as if he was the Great Eye of Sauron. How dare they try to discourage him?

The writers felt the intimidating pressure from the director's gaze down to their very bones, and they quickly backpedaled from their previous suggestions. "B...But we can work with your idea!" one writer managed to stammer. They were only the writers. What did they know about writing a television drama, anyway?

The director smiled down smugly upon the writers, and confidently strode out of the meeting room. "Oh," he stated. He took a step back and peeked his head back into the meeting room just as the writers were starting to relax. "I'm going to need the new script by tomorrow morning."

Nov. 23rd, 2016

I need the struggle to feel alive.

"You'll be thankful when you're older."

"You'll grow out of it. Give it time."

When you are on the cusp of your fragile teenage years, these words are the most annoying and frustrating words any young girl can hear from anyone. It is always "cute" instead of "pretty" or "adorable" instead of "beautiful". At twelve years old, these words make sense even if they are annoying. Most people assume that these young girls will grow into the words "pretty" and "beautiful". That assumption is usually correct, unless the young girl has a baby face.

It has always been a little joke in my family that I never aged passed twelve years old. I would always laugh with the rest of the family about my "misfortune". I would always wonder, in the back of my mind, if I was permanently stuck in this twelve year old stage. All the while, at sixteen years old, my aunts would pinch my cheeks, and tell me how "cute" I was, much to my annoyance.

While my family had relatively harmless jokes, my friends and peers in high school could and would be quite cruel. "Cute" and "adorable" were not in the vocabulary of teenagers. Somewhere in between fifteen years old and eighteen years old, I started to associate "cute" and "adorable" with "fat" and "ugly" as my self confidence dropped to an all time low. To be fair, a lot of this was self-imposed. What teenager likes to place the blame on themselves? It is safe to say, due to my shy and somewhat unapproachable personality (which is something that hasn't really changed in the past twenty years), I was pretty dateless. In my teenage mind, I also believed it was partly because of my baby face.

I did, eventually, "slim" down during my senior year of high school, but my face remained the same. It wasn't until after high school that I accepted the fact that I would always have a baby face. Through most of my twenties, my baby face was a curse and a blessing. I was (still am) ID'ed all the time, and I couldn't (still can't) escape the dreaded words "cute" and "adorable". On the bright side, those words lost the negative connotations that I use to associate with them.

Now that I am thirty-four, I begrudgingly admit that I am thankful for my youthful appearance. I have a certain displeasure for the words "cute" and "adorable", but I try to spin it into a positive. I'm on par with kittens, puppies, and other baby animals, and I've yet to meet a person that can resist the cuteness. My baby face is only a tiny part of my struggles, but it is a tiny part of what makes me, me. Without it, the person I am today wouldn't be alive.

Nov. 19th, 2016

Aerith

Joining

I haven't posted to Livejournal in years, and I got an e-mail saying that the 10th season of LJ Idol was up again. I was confused. I thought it was spam. I decided to check it out. It wasn't spam! There really is a 10th season! I'm declaring I'm signing up.

Feb. 22nd, 2012

Thoughtful

Second Chance Idol High Wire Act

Her feet lightly kiss the ground as she haltingly approaches the ledge. The task before her is daunting, for the ledge is as thin as a thread and it towers above the ground. Despite the perilous journey before her, she faces it fearlessly. She seems to project a lazy confidence as if this was nothing compared to things she has faced before.

One foot slowly crosses over the other as she treads across the scant surface. There is no reason to hurry. This adventure is one that should take time. One slip, and it could mean a very gruesome end. Balance and attentiveness is going to help her cross this obstacle.

A bug zooms by her eyesight, annoying her just enough for her to bat at it. Though, the bug assumes it is some sort of game, so it darts by again. Once more, she swats at it, though this time she wobbles precariously on the narrow ledge.

The bug speeds by, one last time, breaking her concentration on balance. Her legs lurch to the side as she starts to plummet to the ground. Nails dig into the wooden surface of the ledge as she dangles desperately off the side. Her feet claw at the air, but she can’t seem to pull herself up.

Almost as if it were in slow motion, her desperate hold begins slipping. She tries to fight it, but she tumbles towards the ground. A few seconds is all she has before she meets a grim demise. Quickly, she twists her body and spreads out her legs to so she can absorb the force of the fall just before she slams into the ground.

All is calm as she looks up at the ledge that she tried to tame. Mild annoyance washes over her face before she saunters off with her nose in the air. Her perplexing defeat is soon forgotten as she naps upon a warm rock in the summer sun. What else is a cat to do after she is defeated embarrassingly by a bug?

Feb. 15th, 2012

Thoughtful

Second Chance Idol What's Missing.

Obstacles in my life have been relatively few, thankfully. I have managed to overcome most of what has been thrown my way. Though, there is one obstacle in which I have never fully conquered; fear. Fear seems to be a constant obstacle in my life. It is the one thing that is holding me back from the things that I want. What is fear holding me back from now? As corny as it might sound, a guy.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had the problem of not being able to talk to the guys that I’m attracted to. I want to, but the moment I try I become completely tongue tied. Saying a simple, “hi” becomes an unintelligible mumble. There are times that I open my mouth to say something, and absolutely nothing comes out as if I had suddenly become mute. I end up just standing there with my mouth wide open as the guy I like walks right past me.

Friends and family have told me to just talk to this guy, but they don’t tell me how to do it. They don’t seem to comprehend how hard something so simple is for me. Some have suggested that they could do it for me, but that suggests immaturity on my part. According to my roommate, I don’t smile enough so it makes me unapproachable. My default look suggests I want everyone to fuck off, so I’ve tried to smile more when I see this guy. He returns the smile with one of his own (he has a beautiful smile), but I want more than that.

What is amazing is that I know what my problems are. I fear rejection and success at the same time, I have next to no self-confidence, and I don’t have a clue on how to flirt with a man. These problems make me feel as if I’m lost in the woods. It is slowly growing dark outside, the trees all look the same, and I know dangerous animals are lurking about in the twilight hours.

This guy is not going to remain single forever. I know that I need to do something if I want to have a chance with him. I don’t know what that something is though. What am I missing? There has to be something out there that can make this whole situation easier on this shy girl.

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