Finally, I am able to sit down and express the joy and excitement I felt when I received my second nomination for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Having received my first one I was ecstatic, but then when I saw the notification for a second one I thought, “This is unbelievable!” Thank you Jilly Pop Music for this honor (and my sincerest apology for the delay, but I didn’t forget). Everyone go check out her amazing blog focusing on pop music.

1. If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?

I’m guilty of the typical giving a fake name to strangers at bars which is usually Emma. However, a name I had to use for the rest of my life would probably be something like Veronica.

2. What is your favorite painting?

I love drinking wine and apes are my favorite animal so naturally the image below is my favorite.

1.0x03. What is the first record you purchased with your own money?

Ja Rule’s “Pain is Love” CD.

4. What language do you wish you spoke fluently?

Italian! I took a full year of it in college and was quite good at it (knowing Spanish helped). I only wish I would have continued taking it.

5. If you could transform into any animal, what would you be?

A bonobo! They’re considered the cousin of the chimpanzee and are very sexual creatures. I find it fascinating that the female bonobos are dominant unlike with chimpanzee where it’s the males who have the power. Don’t know what bonobos look like? I’ve got you covered:

bonobo_8678_3565046. What was your favorite candy as a child?

Hands down Sour Punch Straws! The strawberry flavored ones though, I don’t very much like the green ones.

7. How does your star sign reflect your personality?

I’m a Sagittarius and that’s reflected in my curiosity and honestly. I love asking questions and am not afraid to express myself and my viewpoints.

8. What character in a book is most like you?

I should really have many possible answers for this given that I read countless books as an English major, but my mind is blank. Maybe Ron from “Harry Potter” or Allie from “The Notebook”.

9. If you could only have one of the five senses, which would you choose?


10. What film is your guilty pleasure?

Titanic! During one of my spring breaks I watched it every single day and 4 times in one of those days. I love Titanic, always have and always will.

My ten questions:

1. When did you start blogging?

2. Why did you start blogging?

3. What is your favorite topic to blog about?

4. What goals do you have for your blog?

5. What are 3 of your favorite blogs to read and why?

6. What are your favorite pastimes?

7. What short-term and long-term goals do you have?

8. What writer or publication (magazine, book, CD etc) would you say your style of writing models?

9. What do you do when you want to write, but lack inspiration?

10. If you could go anywhere in the world and do anything what would it be?

My seven nominees are:


sisterhood-of-the-world   Seeing that I was nominated for a blogging award truly made my day! Seriously, like cloud 9 status. I’ve had my site for some months now, but not having posted much to receiving recognition, WOW. That WordPress notification left me immediately overjoyed, momentarily speechless and just ecstatic. And now being nominated for a second one, this being my first, is just awesome. First, I apologize for the delayed response and please don’t misinterpret it as a reflection of my real attitude and excitement because thank you again and again for this incredible moment and opportunity KC, everyone go check her out! If your interests include fashion, it’s your new blog to follow, but if not it’s okay because The Eleventh Letter provides helpful and uplifting tips as well.

See the rules below:

Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site. Put the Award logo on your blog. Answer the ten questions sent to you. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer. Nominate seven blogs.

1. Why did you start blogging?

Writing is my passion, it’s the one thing that I’ve always felt confident about while simultaneously gaining confidence from it. Since I was a little girl I’ve written; first in my Tweety diary, then poetry and journalism class during high school, and throughout college for my English degree and the UC Davis student-run paper The California Aggie. After graduating and having become accustomed to writing for an audience, I found myself itching to make my thoughts available to anyone interested in reading. I had considered blogging before and knew that it would be the perfect way to share my viewpoints.

2. What are your dreams and goals for your blog?

That’s a tough question because when I first started I just wanted to write about anything that inspired me, but now after registering for Blogging101 I find myself wanting more followers. I love the way that the blogging community interacts and would like to be more involved as well as posting more often.

3. Do you have a specific post that you are really particularly proud of?

The Deception of Attention is one I really enjoy because I discuss the disheartening truth that much of our youth is too preoccupied with pop culture to be concerned or even aware with the happenings of the world.

4. What brings you joy?

Spending time with my family, boyfriend and friends, playing with my cat Shelly and drinking margaritas (I love tequila). Aside from writing, I also enjoy reading the news, Cosmopolitan and books (some of my favorites are The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns and Bonobo Handshake). Blowing bubbles, learning about monkeys and apes, YouTube cat videos, and shopping make me quite happy too.

Shelly and my Bonobo bring me joy. Fun fact: Shelly is named after “The Big Bang Theory’s” Sheldon Cooper.

5. What topic are you the most passionate about?

Love and relationship dynamics have always been of particular interest to me. I’m intrigued by how individuals in relationships (any kind) communicate and behave, even more when it’s  unequal or dysfunctional. As of late I’ve been passionate about social media and technology. I’m fascinated and frightened by the ways in which those two elements combined have affected the world. Both have facilitated communicating, learning, being updated and expressing ourselves which is wonderful and permits us to be more innovative. But I fear that we are losing a lot of the beauty and mystery that existed prior to the emergence and wide accessibility of what now seems to be essential for daily life, the Internet. For example, it used to be that if someone wanted to see the nude female body they would either have to find a woman,, purchase PlayBoy or visit an adult store, but now all anyone has to do is visit Instagram or Twitter to see women making their most intimate features available for any pervert to enjoy. That’s alarming.

6. Describe yourself in 3 words.

Outspoken, friendly and honest.

7. Now tell us what your friends would say about you.

Sassy, caring and driven.

8. What inspires you?

In daily life I’m inspired by love, music and the messages that surround us. Speaking in terms of my ambitions, it’s my loved ones and my desire to make them proud. I also find inspiration in my relentless pursue of success. I’ve witnessed many individuals capable of achieving greatness waste their life away and I always said to myself that I would thrive and move forward in life, failure is not an option. If my parents that arrived in the US illegally and don’t speak English could provide a good life for my brother and I, then there’s no reason why I couldn’t achieve my dreams.

9. How long have you been blogging?

I began blogging in June of 2014.

10. What are your dreams and aspirations?

I’m an aspiring journalist that can’t wait to become a reporter for a major newspaper or write for a major magazine. Being that I’m a California girl at heart, I would love to write for the LA Times, but who could reject The New York Times? On a personal note, I dream about traveling, being married, owning a home and having gorgeous, healthy babies.

Thanks for reading! 🙂


My seven nominees are:

My ten questions:

1. When did you start blogging?

2. Why did you start blogging?

3. What is your favorite topic to blog about?

4. What goals do you have for your blog?

5. What are 3 of your favorite blogs to read and why?

6. What are your favorite pastimes?

7. What short-term and long-term goals do you have?

8. What writer or publication (magazine, book, CD etc) would you say your style of writing models?

9. What do you do when you want to write, but lack inspiration?

10. If you could go anywhere in the world and do anything what would it be?

Dream On

   When I reflect back on my life I wonder if all of the choices I made were better than the alternate. Sometimes I wish that I would have sought opportunities sooner; because once I attained positions or accomplishments I thought of the time I could have spent doing those things if I had not procrastinated or honestly, been slightly afraid to pursue them. But then I remember what I always say to myself when I’m nostalgic for moments that I wish I would’ve appreciated deeper, everything is a living experience. Cliche bells ring in your head, but it’s true, it’s my truth and philosophy about life encompassing all bad choices later serving as lessons learned for future encounters. The beauty in life is that people are resilient; your success and possibilities shouldn’t be limited by bad choices (unless it’s something unforgivable like running a dog fighting pit or kidnapping), in turn life should be driven and progress from short-sighted decisions. Those seeking to better themselves and continuously striving for a dream after life obscures and delays their path are the most hard-working and determined, I speak from experience.

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.

   Everyone says college is unforgettable and the best time of your life, they weren’t mistaken. Approaching my second year having received my B.A. degree in Communications and English I find myself thinking about how many things I wish I would have done or become involved in earlier. For example, writing longer for The California Aggie (UC Davis), interning at a local newspaper or even blogging instead of just doing writing assignments on Shakespeare or The Canterbury Tales. But then I remember the things I did do like: write for the school paper while interning at a local Spanish TV news station, join and uphold positions in a sorority, obtain my first job EVER, graduate with a GPA above 3.0, teach an indigenous impoverished community in rural Panama along with other things. I remind myself, but not in a justifying manner, that things could have been worse as I could have graduated without any experience in what I will develop a career in. Despite my feelings of remorse for not pursuing opportunities sooner, I refuse discouragement because bad choices and life will not deter me from the ultimate goal.


KUVS 19 Maribel Guardia (left) and I (right) during a live interview at my public relations internship with the California State Fare (Sacramento, CA). She remembered me from my internship at her station so I wasn’t too nervous.

   Everyday that goes by I think about and visualize myself in the job of my dreams, I’m not there now and not even in the field, but advances are being made to get there; it’s one of the reasons I began blogging and registered for the Blogging101 course. The field of work I’m involved in now is far from anything I imagined myself ever doing, but as long as what you’re doing is leading you to where you want to be, it’s not lost time. Many who graduate struggle to find employment or one that pays enough to meet the morbid student-loan payment due date, but fortunately that’s not my case. The job I have isn’t what I wished for, but it’ll help me be more stable in the future and with less debt. The reason I don’t love my job is why I’m making efforts to still pursue what I love. I want to wake up and be happy to go to work and I believe envisioning oneself doing whatever it is your long-term goal may be, is essential to success. It’s easy to remain at an unwanted position because of money and the comfort that comes with it, but dollar amounts don’t equate to happiness and is precisely why you have to keep your goals in mind.

   Of course, for those like me who aren’t working, but hope to one day, in a field correlating with their degrees, it’s not just up to yourself to obtain the job of your dreams. Yes, perseverance, determination and dedication may get you 95% of the way there, but ultimately someone has to hire you and believe in you. For that hiring manager, director or whomever stands between a dream and reality I say, don’t reject the graduate who spent some time away from the field their looking to return to. A leave of absence doesn’t signify complete obliteration of a dream. People change their minds and have hindering circumstances, but those who through it all still strive for the goal are the most dedicated.

A direct link to one of my published articles. It was proclaimed one of the best “campus news” stories.

   To my utmost dream reader, a future hiring editor or news director, it’s a pleasure to encounter you. Don’t mistake the time I spent away from journalism and the media as a lack of effort to be here earlier, but instead see that I have experience and in various communications sectors. Or does experience after time lose its value? Notice that I continued writing and pursuing positions involving my career interests and that after however long I was absent from the discipline, I returned. There wasn’t a day where I didn’t think about retrieving my voice recorder from my safe keeping to interview sources or reading the final product of numerous hours of researching, writing and editing on gray newspaper.

   Too often it seems that people get lost in life and renounce career dreams, but if you’re not happy with what you’re doing for a living, how can you live happy? In order to achieve, measures have to be taken.

1. Envision yourself obtaining your goal.
2. Make a list of how you’re going to achieve it.
3. Determine a date for when you want to accomplish it.
4. Take steps to cross items off your list.
5. Make connections, even if you already have some. The more connections you have, the better your possibility for knowledge of opportunities.

   “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get,” but if chocolates is what you want and you find the aisle, you’re bound to savor the perfect piece to satisfy your craving (Forrest Gump).

Who I am and Why I’m Here

   Curiosity has been one of my strengths and weaknesses since I was a child. I was always that little annoying human asking “why” to anything heard and wanting to know everything possible. I say that it’s a weakness because as depressing as it may sound, knowing things can sometimes be more damaging; as the saying goes: ignorance is bliss (but not entirely). The strength lies in it being an integral part to the person I am, asking questions was my hobby until I translated into a quest for a journalistic career. Writing is something that I enjoy and always have, it just becomes challenging working full-time to dedicate the time I wish to, hence why I registered for Blogging101. I currently work in a field I have no interest staying in for long so that when I get my foot in the door I won’t be struggling to make the monthly student loan payments, eveyone starts off at the bottom right? Working full-time and a lack of structure has left me writing less and less and besides it being my hobby, numerous reporters told me that a superior writing ability is key to successful reporting. I registered and here I am completing my first assignment after graduating.

   Before I had a laptop I used to keep a personal diary, but decided once I graduated college that since I wouldn’t be read on the campus newspaper any longer, blogging was the next big thing. I’ve published a few blog entries and don’t have a concrete pattern in topics yet, but I’m highly interested in current events. I enjoy reading the news online or in print and writing responses or just writing about things that come to mind of which I feel strongly about. For example, I was very interested and up-to-date during the critical moments of the ongoing Ebola epidemic, the hostages captured by the ISIS, the influence of techonology on children and how it’s altered everyone’s life, law enforcement, crime and certain celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Aniston or Johnny Depp. I have a fondness of primates and literature. Analysis and an alternate or unseen viewpoint is what readers of my blog will find.

   Ideally I’d like to connect with people that either share similar viewpoints as myself or provide constructive criticism or challenges. It would be great to connect with individuals pursuing a career in journalism or those who have or did so in the past. The goal is to improve my writing, write more frequently and gain followers.

Global Winter Wonderland, CalExpo

   Imagine traveling the world in one day, without ever stepping foot on a plane. Some of the worlds most historic and beautiful monuments and structures all accessible for your admiration in one location at a fair price. The Christmas season custom dictates that the world be lit up by bright lights and inflatable Santa’s everywhere, but what if you’re being deprived of that sweet sight? Maybe, like me, you’re overcome with laziness and paralyzed by the cool temperatures to border the windows with Christmas lights. Or perhaps your neighbors don’t share the same spirit and don’t mind that during the happiest time of the year the streets are as dark as always. For those disappointed souls whose dormant inner child is awakened at the sight of beautifully assembled Christmas lights and whom haven’t visited the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Wall of China, etc Cal Expo’s Global Winter Wonderland (Sacramento, CA) is your one way ticket to just that in awe striking, breathtaking, luminous lanterns.


A lantern portrayal of the clock tower Big Ben (London, England).

Feast your eyes on miniature, but aesthetically pleasing renditions of numerous worldly recognized and admired structures in one convenient location. The wonder doesn’t end there though, aside from the views there’s also carnival rides for the thrill seekers, the conventional carnival snacks and shows that are sure to entertain all who visit. One of my personal favorites was the section featuring zoo animals and pink trees. Children are sure to love it for the exposition also includes reindeers, Santa’s house and a full section of dinosaurs. Adults will enjoy the excitement on the children’s face along with the detail of each lantern. </span><span class=”s2″>I encourage all visitors that aren’t afraid of heights, to ride the ferris wheel and experience the full beauty of the lights from up high, I assure you that you won’t be disappointed.


      As the holiday season ends, so will Global Winter Wonderland on January 4, 2015. Hours of operation begin at 4:30 pm daily and end at 11pm Friday and Saturday and 10pm on Sundays. Currently, Cal Expo is offering a “Wonderland Special” for two admission tickets and two unlimited rides wristband for $56. Parking is $10 and not included in admission. For complete pricing information, attraction details and directions please visit Remember to bundle up because despite the abundance of lights, it’s quite chilly outside, I recommend scarves and gloves. Cal Expo’s Winter Wonderland is located on 1600 Exposition Blvd Sacramento, CA 95815. Don’t wait until next year to see the beauty you can behold today.10899786_1011888742159763_1723119321_n

The Vending Machine Deduction

I felt terrible about my thoughts, I truly did because it was an awful thought to have, but I just couldn’t help it. “Should she really be buying anything from the vending machine?” I thought as I walked past the overweight female child purchasing a snack from the vending machine. Let’s be realistic here, sure she could’ve been choosing the healthiest snack available Chex Mix over the Hot Cheetos or Snickers, but come on, what kid does that? And judging from the looks of what I guess is her younger brother, she didn’t strike me as a health conscious child, but who really is when they’re kids? I see how this could be troubling some because I understand that it makes me seem like an asshole, but let me be clear that my perceivably monstrous thought was followed by, “I don’t blame the child though, I blame her parents. ”

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period. In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these factors.3 Obesity is defined as having excess body fat. Overweight and obesity are the result of “caloric imbalance”—too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors(Center for Disease Control and Prevention website).

I see this all the time, overweight children, we all do and every single time I become a little angry and sad on the inside. A child does not posses the power to single-handedly decide what food is provided for them, the parents are responsible for what their child(ren) consume, outside of the cafeteria lady. What kid does anyone know that does the grocery shopping and purchases vegetables and fruits? (Because if that’s possible well, then I need mines to be one of those, if I’m ever so blessed.) Healthy eating habits need to be established at a young age so that when the child reaches adulthood they are inclined to endure the hassle of preparing a healthy home-cooked meal, vs copping out for McDonald’s. Most children view healthy eating as an enemy, which is why establishing healthy eating habits such as vegetables, fruits and water into a childs’ diet is so important. If parents give children unhealthy foods and allow them to frequently consume unhealthy items such as chips, cookies, candy, ice cream etc. then those parents are putting their child in risk of being overweight and  serious illnesses. Some children are just chubbier than others because of genetics and those children especially require a structured, healthy diet.

Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem. Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma (CDC website).

It is puzzling to me how parents of children at an unhealthy weight can allow them to eat foods that are unhealthy. In this day and age, information about what’s healthy and how to be that way is easily and widely accessible over this thing called the Internet. (And free of charge at this magical location, public libraries.) I’ve personally been around overweight children and parents that permit them to have unhealthy foods, don’t encourage exercise and allow them to continue on the road to obesity and diabetes. I find it extremely troubling given that I was raised with the foundation that a parent loves their child and only wishes them to be happy, healthy and successful. Eating healthy is sometimes difficult to afford because wildly, healthy organic food is higher costing than unhealthy items. Nonetheless, it’s not impossible. Buying vegetables and fruits instead of snacks and water rather than sugary sodas and juices is a start. Encouraging and if so necessary, ensuring exercise would be helpful. By ensuring I mean, the parent and child excercise together, take the dog for a run, go to a park and play a sport or have running races. Maintaining a healthy body is not the easiest thing, but the work is worth it.

Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases (CDC webpage).

Children can be difficult when it comes to being healthy, I know I’m not the biggest fan of vegetables or the gym, but parents need to figure out a way that works for their child to protect their health. A healthy childhood is the foundation to a healthy life. That’s not to say that those who are overweight during childhood or at any point in their life cannot become healthier, it just requires effort. So now that the holidays are approaching, I encourage parents of all children, not just overweight children, to closely monitor what their child eats. As we all know, there’s a pattern of people gaining weight during winter due to the approaching holidays that include feasts, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Halloween is days away so watch how much candy your child has, how much they eat and if it’s too much then hide their candy and set a limit for how much they can have, just don’t be cruel and forbid them from eating their trick-or-treating sweets. Kids are precious, beautiful little human beings that deserve the best and should have it to live long, happy, healthy lives, give them a jump start by providing a healthy childhood.

Ebola Concerns on the Rise

    Noting that the night before I read countless Ebola related articles to maintain up to speed with the epidemic, I wasn’t surprised that I awoke the following morning slightly startled that I had experienced, in my dreams, an Ebola outbreak. All I remember from that dream is being frightened and frantic for the health of my loved ones and myself. Swarms of people were rushing to hospitals for medical care resembling the stampede of wildebeest fleeing from the hyenas in Lion King. Despite Obama’s statement that the event of an Ebola outbreak similar to the one in Africa is unlikely in the US, my mind remains uneasy (The Washington Post).

    Since the outbreak on December 2013 in West Africa, there have been 8,400 cases, of those 4,656 are laboratory-confirmed and 4,033 deaths (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). It’s probable that the outbreak began in a Guinea village with patient zero being a two year old and spreading to the child’s relatives and eventually outside of the village after the grandmother’s funeral (CNN). Ten months later and now there not only over four thousand deaths, but the disease has spread outside of Africa with patients in the US, Germany and Spain. The spread of the disease outside of Africa is of particular concern to me and I would only believe the entire human population, given that the mortality rate for this deadly virus is not 50% as the numbers show, but 70%, “when patients can be monitored throughout the course of their disease” (World Health Organization).

    Ebola is classified as a RNA virus, meaning that it mutates each time it copies itself which has caused speculation that it could become airborne, but it is highly unlikely that it would make the dramatic change necessary to alter mode of transmission (CNN). Fortunately, it is not airborne and is contracted through bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, urine and other secretions of infected patients. The US has adopted screening procedures (checking for fevers and inquiries about travel) at airports receiving 94% of travelers arriving from affected regions, to help distinguish those possibly ill with the disease, but this is not enough given that symptoms take 2-21 days to show. The CDC said last week that banning travel to Africa would not help slow the spread of the epidemic because it would bar medical aid, however, what about restricted travel? I wonder if restricting travel to West Africa by only authorizing travel to those helping with the epidemic would be stall the spread meanwhile it is terminated.


    The first individual diagnosed with Ebola in the US passed on October 8. He arrived in Dallas, already sick with Ebola, from Liberia on September 20 . Four days later, Duncan went to the Texas Health Presbyterian emergency room with a fever, abdominal pain and headache (symptoms of Ebola) where he was discharged, prescribed antibiotics and told to take Tylenol. Three days later, on September 27 he returned to the hospital and was admitted after testing positive for Ebola. During his first visit he was not screened for the disease despite displaying symptoms of the virus. Whether Duncan communicated that he had been in Liberia or not is debatable, since some say that the hospital didn’t have knowledge of his travel history, but others say they did. Nonetheless, when asked if he had contact with infected people he answered no, when in actuality he had cared for a pregnant woman infected with the virus. Duncan’s denial of contact with Ebola, delineates a huge problem in the success of screening for the virus at airport.  It leaves it up to the will of the traveler whether or not to answer questions truthfully and given the range of days it takes to show symptoms, it does not seem improbable that infected travelers not showing symptoms can like Duncan, withhold such information that could potentially endanger others and raise the probability of spreading. Another concern is drugs. Duncan wasn’t given the same experimental medication that other patients treated in the US received due to depletion, I really hope that now there is sufficient supply because I fear that there will be an increase in demand.

    Something else that worries me about measures taken to contain the epidemic is medical protocols. After Duncan’s death, a nurse, Nina Pham, caring for him contracted Ebola. Pham claims she is doing well and there are 76 individuals that had contact with Duncan being monitored (New York Times). Exactly how Pham became infected is unknown as of now, since she was wearing the required protective gear while caring for Duncan, but it is said that it was caused by a breach in protocols. Alarming does not come close to describing the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach when I first read about Pham’s condition. If she, a nurse with the proper protective gear contracted the virus, it is possible that others who had contact with him may have as well; of course those who were in contact with him were placed in an incubation period corresponding with the days it takes for symptoms to arise. But what about fellow staff that had contact with Pham, but were not in direct contact with Duncan, will they be placed in incubation? There was also a homeless man being monitored for symptoms whom health officials briefly lost track of (The Guardian). The general public depends on nurses, doctors and healthcare officials to maintain a healthy population through action and preventative measures; belated diagnosis and breaches in protocol only put civilians at higher risk.

    It is estimated that by January the number of cases will increase to between 550,000 and 1.4 million (CNN).  This number is grim and awfully high, but there is hope to be had. According to WHO, if 70% of patients with Ebola are cared for properly, then the epidemic could dwindle and eventually be eliminated. What’s more is that 461 Cuban physicians and nurses have taken charge in terminating the epidemic. Already 165 physicians and nurses are in Sierra Leone and 15,000 have volunteered (CNN). The UK is also conducting screening at airports receiving travelers from Africa, and Russia is working on an Ebola vaccine. The US continues their aid by sending another 700 troops by late October, in addition to the 300 already in Liberia, creating a total estimate of 4,000 soldiers fighting the battle to terminate the horror that is Ebola (CBS News). This may be the first time I applaud Obama for deploying, in a short timespan, such a large amount of soldiers. Mark Zuckergerg and his wife donated $25 million to the CDC to help fight the epidemic (Huffington Post). Worldwide collaboration is necessary to end this epidemic. Imagine if Ebola is not controlled and the numbers of patients we’re experiencing in Africa occur in say, the US or the UK? Picture millions of civilians wearing face masks and gloves, homes being evacuated, hospitals flooded and overwhelmed with possible patients, daily life and routine threatened and interrupted by this virus, that’s frightening. The effort everyone is giving to end this epidemic is admirable and honorable. However, there are others that could be reaching out as Obama said, “We have not seen other countries step up as aggressively as they need to” (USA Today). Everyone that can help should; the countries with sophisticated healthcare could send support to medical centers in Africa or help with research, individuals and companies with the ability to donate funds should and the general public should maintain up-to-date on the epidemic and pray for progress and health. This Ebola epidemic isn’t problematic solely for Africa, it’s a worldwide issue. I don’t want to one day tell my grandchildren of the Ebola epidemic that began in Africa and shook the whole world. I want to say, “we prevented it.”

The Deception of Attention

Scrolling through Instagram the night of MTV’s Video Music Award, it was no surprise that I was bombarded by pictures of Beyonce or videos of Blue Ivy dancing along to what I can only assume was an electrifying performance. Normally, I have no interest in watching award shows, but I wish I had because then perhaps I could understand the Beyonce obsession and worship. When I moved from onto Twitter after countless Instagram posts of America’s favorite diva, I was instantly annoyed to see Bey’s face again. Don’t misinterpret my annoyance for a dislike of whom no one can deny is an incredible performer, but the simple fact of the matter is there are more pressing issues than the stability of her marriage. I couldn’t help to think back to earlier that week when news of James Foley’s beheading was released. There were few Instagram posts or tweets from non-news accounts about the tragedy, but the night of the VMA’s and the morning after, my feed was littered with Bey’s face. Either I need to better choose who I follow or there is something incredibly wrong with what people to pay attention to. I believe both elements are at play and that a grand majority of individuals, especially the youth, prefer to inform themselves on the ins and outs of favored celebrities over issues affecting society. I find this not only disturbing, but frustrating and disappointing. Important events are taking place, there’s the Ebola epidemic, American journalists held hostage, climate change, air strikes in Gaza, the invasion of ISIS, Michael Brown’s death, etc., yet it appears that the mass is more concerned with the latest trend, Beyonce’s personal life and taking selfies. Maybe I’m tightly wound for being annoyed by this trend, but what does it say about this generation of youth when people are dying, families destroyed, and others can’t stop following celebrities long enough to educate themselves on what’s going on in the world? It’s no wonder the news industry is struggling! Trivial, insignificant news is taking precedent over serious news. It’s disheartening to see via social media, the types of things we are paying attention to. The news may not be filled with the most positive and uplifting stories, but its purpose is to inform us of the relevant and worthy happenings of the world, not amuse us with meaningless celebrity updates and fads. Unfortunately, it’s more challenging now than ever for the news industry to maintain the same audience numbers as it once had; it becomes clear why when you observe how much the younger generations of today are concerned with themselves and what’s popular at the time. For once, I would like to see news receive the attention that celebrities do, entertainment should not trump news. Without news we would be oblivious to the positive and atrocious things occurring around us, but perhaps people don’t want to know those things. I’m incredibly grateful that my father instilled in me the importance of acknowledging the news. It gives me the satisfaction of knowing that my Twitter followers will see tweets of news articles and thoughts about them rather than celebrity gossip. I encourage today’s youth to take a few minutes out of their Kim Kardashian daze or Instagram posts and read the news, something worth knowing might be learned.

A Glimpse of Mexico

This view is only steps away from my father's home in Michoacan, Mexico.

This view is only steps away from my father’s home in Michoacan, Mexico.

     It had been seven years since the last time I went to Mexico. I was a high school freshman and it was in January, the perfect time to go to my little ranch because it was the time of the fiestas. During these festivities people that have left Mexico return to enjoy the company of old friends, comfort of their childish homes, abundance of food and the beauty of the nightly parade followed by mass and lastly, music and dancing in the plaza. Children love it for the fair and endless options of authentic delicious Mexican candy and treats. But this time would be different. I wouldn’t be able to hear the faint sound of the drums and french horns as I endured through mass because I wasn’t allowed to enjoy the fair until I attended mass. Instead I didn’t know what to expect, I was going in July and since it wasn’t January I already knew my mom’s little ranch would be mostly deserted.

     Nonetheless, I was excited. I needed a vacation and was really glad that I would be able to spend time with my mom and family, even if I was going to be disconnected from the world due to no cell phone, but I was really looking forward to it. Once my flight began approaching I started to feel nervous, when I would think of going to my grandma’s house for the first time since 2006, tears would begin to form in my eyes. It was only natural, the last time I had gone to Mexico was the last time my grandma went and we spent two weeks cleaning and painting her lovely home. But now the house I would be visiting would be completely different due to a complete renovation. I hoped it would at least be the same color, but it seems that wasn’t possible.

     I was still excited. When I arrived, we spent a few days at an uncle’s house before going to my grandma’s and were able to do some sight-seeing. It was well past midnight when I was awaken by the sudden bumpiness of the road, we were less than five minutes away! The smooth paved road is replaced by rocks and potholes when trying to get to my mom’s hometown, more like a ranch, La Ladera. Those five minutes went by before I was able to gather all my emotions and the image faded of my grandma crying while holding the bars of the gate to her house, the first time she saw it in a long time all those years ago. Before I got out of the car I could already begin to feel the shortness of breath and heaviness in my step that always happens prior to a full-blown sobbing. I stood in front of the house for a few moments and tried to compose myself because I don’t like crying in front of people, but it was useless. I knew this would happen though. The house is beautiful, but it just wasn’t the same; I felt like a tangible piece of the memory that was so very special to me, was gone with the old house. I felt weird for a day or two, but I knew that the changes were made because she had hopes of fixing the home she left behind when she moved to the US. She may not have walked those same floors or dusted the same rooms, but her spirit and her presence was there, everything was done in her honor and from above, she was thrilled to have her kids back in her home.

     The part of Mexico I went to is very different from some peoples perspective of Mexico, like Cabo or Cancun. La Ladera is a ranch. There are no stores, no paving and sometimes no running water. There is a small town, Jaripo, about 10 minutes away with a cemetery, church, small restaurants and very small grocery stores, sort of like liquor stores, but without so much liquor. Since my grandmas house is at the edge of this small ranch sometimes the house doesn’t get any water so we were forced to either use buckets or go to a neighboring friends house to bathe. Needless to say, it’s quite different, but it’s very peaceful. Instead of being awaken by the sound of cars or neighbors, you’re awaken by the roosters and when you step out you’re not surrounded by homes or cars, you’re amidst nature. At night time you definitely have to use bug repellent since bugs there are ruthless, I had a bump the size of a ping pong ball on my foot after a bug bite. Spending two weeks in my native land was a very relaxing and humbling experience. Being exposed to the way of life there put things in perspective on life in the US for me. It made me realize that some of the things we’re concerned with aren’t that important. The opportunities and resources available to us in America aren’t offered everywhere and my trip helped me appreciate what I have a little more. Sometimes I think we’re too overwhelmed and preoccupied with our lives that we forget to reflect and be thankful for the things we have. A little bit of nature with cell phone/internet alienation is a marvelous way to take a step back to look at your life or to just relax. I believe it’s something we all need from time to time, to stop focusing on your career, bills or your Instagram stats and just take some time to enjoy nature and it’s beauty to help you think clearer or put you at ease.

     For a while I needed a vacation and I was really lucky to spend it with the people I did and the place we were. Aside from humbling, it was special because I knew my grandma was happy and more importantly my mother. The high volume of people there made it difficult to have her attention, but I know me being there meant the world to her and there was no other place I would have rather been. This trip was the perfect vacation and I am so blessed to have been able to experience it.


A snap of one of my front page articles.
A snap of one of my front page articles.

     Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved words. Of course I liked to play with my dolls and tea sets as all little girls do, but I enjoyed words, reading and writing has always been something dear to me. I remember during elementary school when school was out for the summer and my mother would work, that our neighbor would babysit my younger brother and I. Sometimes we would sit in front of the television tranced by whatever child’s cartoon was popular at the time, but my favorite time of those summer days was lying beneath my neighbors tree, enjoying the fresh shade and reading. I read all sorts of books: adventures, mysteries, horror, non-fiction, etc. Even as a kid, I was never deterred by the length of a book; if it caught my attention and sparked my curiosity to know what wondrous story hid between those pages, it was worth adding the extra weight to the large stack of books I would frequently check-out from the library.  

     It wasn’t until sixth grade though that I discovered the power of writing. At first, I didn’t particularly enjoy writing. I found the standard five-paragraph style of writing that we all learn in elementary, tedious and boring, but then something occurred in sixth grade that changed my feelings towards writing forever. I don’t recall the exact date, I can only remember that it was in the sixth grade when my older brother was shot due to what I later realized, must have been rivaling gang tension. Fortunately, his close encounter with death was brief and the medics were able to save him. Nonetheless, this event was life-changing for it was then that I found my love and purpose in writing. At the time, I didn’t have a computer so I grabbed a notebook and a pencil, and began to write what had happened to my brother in the form of a news article. I suppose it must’ve been the fact that to this day my father will switch whatever he is watching at 5pm to the evening news, that I wrote the events in that manner, even though at that age I wasn’t in any sort of journalism class. After finishing the story, I taped both pieces of paper together and to a wall in my bedroom. I wanted everyone and anyone who walked into my room to see those papers on my wall, and to read and learn the story of what happened to my brother. I wanted everyone to feel the outrage I felt at the sadness and violence that occurs in this world. Through that article I felt the power of expression. The power of being able to reach people through words not only to just share and entertain, but so that hopefully, they would learn something from those sheets of paper and share it with others. That’s what I love about writing, the ability to share your words and thoughts with others, even if it’s something that you were assigned to do by a teacher, professor, editor, boss, whomever, I wanted what I wrote to be useful and remembered, at least part of it. 

     After writing that article and realizing how much I enjoyed it, I decided to write more frequently. Before the article, as most girls have, I had a Tweety bird diary, but it was mostly filled with summaries of my days, now I wanted to write something deeper. Conveniently, this newfound love for writing occurred around puberty and when I first started to take notice of boys so it helped me keep all of my thoughts and emotions controlled so that I wasn’t your typical crazy pre-teen lashing out at the world because she’s insecure and not in the popular crowd. All those things that most people learn aren’t worth worrying about, my poems and reflections would help me battle them out on my own, in my room and past my bed-time when everyone was asleep. I continued writing poetry during middle school, but stopped shortly after 8th grade promotion, finding inspiration was trying. I continued to write refections and thoughts until junior year in high school when I realized that I wanted a career in journalism, so naturally I joined the school paper. I mostly wrote news and opinion pieces. I recall when I was in fourth grade with my teacher Mr. Franco, that he once told me to never stop asking questions and I always remembered that and never did stop. I guess that may be a reason why I considered a career in journalism, because I wasn’t afraid to ask questions and however many necessary to get the information I wanted. My curiosity to know and desire to give others information through writing, is what I believe always intrigued me about journalism, and the reason why I earned B.A. in Communications and English. My third and fourth year in college I wrote for the school newspaper, The California Aggie. During my first and second year, my writing solely consisted of lengthy English class essays. But junior and senior year I also wrote one story weekly and although at times it was tiring because of the extra hours it added to work I needed to do aside from my job, classes and other extra curricular activities, I thoroughly enjoyed and loved it. The sensitive pieces I wrote are the ones I was almost most relieved to complete and happy to receive feedback from. Those articles were the ones that I stressed over, researched, edited and spent the most time and effort on because I always wanted to provide a fair, complete and unbiased account of events, as all good journalists strive to do.

     I remember during a meeting with my editor that she told me a writer for The Sacramento Bee told her that they thought my anti-semitism piece was well written (my first sensitive piece that I was really nervous about throughout the process of getting it on the stands). It was then when I finally accepted that I had a talent that I could create a career from; that was one of the first moments when I truly believed that I had a chance to make it in journalism. People had always told me that I was a good writer, but I never really believed it, perhaps because I had this misconception that writing was something anyone was capable of doing. I always thought people said that because even if they didn’t like what I wrote, they wouldn’t say that because after all, who wants to be the bearer of bad news and tell someone what they created is no good? No one. But when she said a writer for an actual newspaper enjoyed it, then I thought that if someone who has a profession in writing enjoyed one of my most difficult pieces to write, then I had a chance.  I later acquired more internships involving media, writing and journalism where I interacted with and learned from broadcast reporters; one common piece of advice they each gave me: never stop writing. It had been a long time since I wrote because after graduating last year, I began working two-jobs, one of them full-time so I did not have much spare time, but I am not losing sight of my dream to become a journalist. Whether it is print or broadcast, I know writing is the beginning and it’s a good one for me because I love writing; I mean, I’ve rambled on for quite a while now about my writing trajectory. When we’re children and throughout our lives until it seems we’ve chosen and settled with a career, people are always asking: what do you want to be when you grow up? As a child, my answers varied from singer to veterinary to actress, but after middle school my only answer was, “a reporter”. I want to reach audiences with my words and give them new information. This blog is going to be an avenue through which I continue to write not only for whoever may or may not be reading this, or for my future, but for myself. Writing is the only thing I’ve never completely stopped doing or got bored of. It’s my way of giving some understanding to myself and the reader and lastly, a way of feeding that curiosity I never lost. My words have no limits and boundaries, I will write what I choose, feel and perhaps what some may disagree with, but what’s important is that I’m doing what I love and in a small way reaching for my dream.