Short scene

I’ve never understood why we have field day in high school. During elementary and middle school this was the greatest day of the year…but in high school? It’s like a long day of outdoor gym class where the sporty types get to be competitive and show off to the pretty girls who sit on the sidelines watching. It’s probably my least favorite day of the school year. I hate those types of guys. I’ve never fit in with them. The only good part of field day is being allowed to bring out own lunches and eat outside. All I brought for lunch today is an apple and a turkey sandwich on wheat bread with a little mustard and mayo. I didn’t want anything too messy or that would attract the seagulls. Why are they called seagulls, anyway? We’re nowhere near the sea.

“GRYFFIN, ARE YOU LISTENING AT ALL? GOSH, YOU ARE SUCH A NERD!” I was suddenly snapped out of my musing on the origin of seagulls when I heard Riley shouting at me. Riley is your typical sports loving idiot type. For that reason we’ve never really gotten along and ever since he found out I’ve been trying to teach myself to play hockey he’s been relentless in his taunting.

“I’m sorry, what did you want?” I asked him, hoping the apology would get him off my back so I could enjoy my lunch in peace.

“Didn’t you hear what Ms. Smith said just a few minutes ago? The three-legged race is starting soon, and unfortunately, you’re my partner.”

Great, I literally wouldn’t have cared if I would have been paired with anyone else in the entire planet. But why Riley? This must be some sort of punishment for something I’ve done in a past life, or something. He’s at least 6 foot 5 and built very muscular. With brown hair and blue eyes and perfect teeth, he’s basically the definition of a “cool” guy. He’s always attracting the attention of the girls, despite being a sport loving idiot jock. We’re exact opposites.

“ARE YOU COMING OR WHAT, IDIOT? LET’S GET THIS OVER WITH.” I set my lunch down and walked over to the field and took my spot next to Riley in front of the white starting line.

“Ms. Smith,” I asked, “do I have to do this?”

“Yes, Gryffin, you have to participate in at least one event today, and this is yours.”

I guess there’s no getting out of this. Riley stood on the left and placed his right leg in the brown sack and I stood on the right with my left foot in. The height difference between us isn’t very significant, maybe five inches, or so, but I’m nowhere near as athletic as this guy.

“If you make me lose this race in front of those girls that are watching, you’ll regret it,” he said to me which a menacing glare.

“Good luck to you, too,” was the best comeback I could think of. I am an idiot.

The First Time…

The first time I heard the song I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons, I was parked in a long line of cars in the arrivals lane at the Detroit Metro Airport. Despite being 45-minutes early, I couldn’t help but to keep glancing at the clock on my cars dashboard. Between glancing at the clock and checking my phone to see any messages, I had to keep scanning the radio stations since my cd player had recently broke and radio stations are notorious for continuously playing bad music.

Sitting in the arrivals lane I saw many different types of reunions. Some people got out of their cars to help others with their bags, some just sat in their cars and waited for their passengers to load the car themselves and get in, and others jumped out of their cars and ran to hum whomever they were waiting for and ushered them to the cars. While watching all of these different reunions, I wondered what mine would be like.

I checked the backseat for what was probably the hundredth time since I had started the three hour journey just to make sure I hadn’t forgotten my poster. It was baby blue with black, navy, and yellow writing that said “we’re always under the same stars but we’re finally under the same roof.” Under that, there was a heart and the words, “welcome home, Corporal L.” I was limited to those three colors because they were the easiest for my colorblind passenger to see.

I was still unsure how he would react upon seeing this and I was unsure how I was supposed to go about this greeting. Was I supposed to hold the sign long enough that he can read it, then drop it and walk to him? Should I just hold it and wait until he gets to me? Should I run to hug him and show him the sign after? Should I just sit in my car and wait? Do I help him with his bags? I wanted this reunion to be perfect but going over it a thousand times in my head was only making me more nervous.

This was basically the first time I would be seeing my boyfriend since he returned from overseas. I say basically because we have a long history. We went to high school together and were friends. He was two years older than me and enlisted in the Marine Corps. We both “liked” each other and we were “talking” but decided that since he was being deployed, we shouldn’t take our relationship any further. While he was in Japan for two years we continued to talk on and off but we dated other people. We lost contact with each other for a few months while he was out to sea on ship and that was the end of that. Or so I thought.

When he returned to the United States he sought me out again and our relationship picked up essentially where it left off. After a few months of catching up and learning to get to know each other again, we decided to take our relationship to the next level and become official. The long distance relationship sucked, to say the least. He was in North Carolina and I was in Michigan. He way always on duty or in the field so he was rarely able to get leave to come home. This visit was a pretty big deal for the both of us.

As I continued to reflect on our relationship and how far we had come since meeting five years ago, I heard the song “I Will Wait” come on the radio. I had heard the song a few times before but this time I was able to really listen to the lyrics. It was clearly insignificant before this exact moment, but it hit me like a ton of bricks with how relatable it was in the present moment.

About half way through the song I get a text saying “I see you.” A rush of nervousness and butterflies and panic hit me all at once as I jump out of my car. Grabbing the sign didn’t cross my mind at that point as I ran to him. That was the longest hug I’ve ever received. After saying hello and hugging a dozen more times, we walked together to my car. I then remembered my sign sitting in the backseat, grabbed it, and told him to walk back a dozen steps.

He did so without questioning me, although the people around us seemed a little confused. I unveiled the sign and waited for his response. The largest grim spread across his face and his cheeks turned red. He walked towards me once again and grabbed the sign. “I’ll be hanging this in my room,” he said to me as he looked over it once more. He then placed it in the backseat and got in the car.

We didn’t drive off right away. We spent the next 20 minutes or so discussing his flight and how excited we were to finally be together again at home. Right as we were about to begin the trek back home, the song “I Will Wait” came on the radio again. I told him to listen carefully to the lyrics:

Well I came home

Like a stone

And I fell heavy into your arms

These days of dust

Which we’ve known

Will blow away with this new sun

….

And I will wait, I will wait for you

He smiled at me, “I have this song on my Ipod, I actually heard it a few times on the flight here. It reminds me of you.”

At that moment, I didn’t think I could be more in love. I had been warned by many people that long distance relationships are impossible or that dating a man in the military is bad news, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. We weathered the Marine Corps, the distance, and all of the other struggles that were hurled at us by life and now, almost two years later, we continue to be proof that long distance and military relationships are possible.

A little different

This is going to be a little different than the things I usually post. I made a comment about this on Tumblr and lost a couple dozen followers and I’d like to expand on it here.

I’ve been seeing a lot of people making “white girl” jokes or “white boy” jokes or saying that they “hate all cis/white people.” And yet, if anyone were to make minority jokes or say they hate a minority or someone of a different sexual orientation, preference, etc, they’d be in an uproar. 

So why is it okay to do this to whites/cis people? Someone on Tumblr said they’re “tired of white people wanting their feelings catered to” but I don’t think that’s the issue here. 

Hasn’t anyone ever heard the phrase “two rights don’t make a wrong”? Hating a group of people isn’t going to change anything and making offensive reverse racist jokes or whatever the hell kids are calling it these days isn’t getting anyone any further in life. 

Racism isn’t okay

Sexism isn’t okay

Stereotypes and hatred based on gender or sexual orientation isn’t okay

But nobody seems to understand that it’s wrong in both directions.

I just don’t understand why it’s totally not okay to say these things about other groups of people but if you’re cis or white it’s 100% okay and funny. It isn’t

The Trends in the News Concerning the Prevalence of Entertainment

 

            If you visited CNN.com you would notice that they have an entire section dedicated to entertainment. When pressing that link, you can learn anything about any celebrity you want. They’ve got a photo gallery of celebrities, a page of quotes by celebrities, and even a page titled” “The Justin Bieber Saga.”

            CNN isn’t the only website dedicating a large section of their website to celebrities, Fox News is also guilty. Their celebrity headlines range from Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s breakup, to the most recent drama on New York Housewives.

            Additionally, if you watch television you can watch shows like Entertainment Tonight, Good Morning America or even entertainment segments during local, national and world news broadcasts. If you flip through the newspaper there’s an entire section dedicated to entertainment and there are entire magazines such as Elle, Cosmo, Men’s Health, Vogue and Women’s Health, just to name a few, that are strictly for entertainment.

            Entertainment news can be defined as information about movies, radio, television and celebrities, as well as games like puzzles, comic strips, cartoons and horoscopes. CNN’s website has an entertainment section, Fox News’s website has one, even the Associated Press’s website has a section for sports and oddity stories.

            “The more relevant you make celebrities the less relevant you become,” said Cory Anton, a communication professor at GV in a Communication Theories lecture. This made a profound impact on me. So profound, in fact, that I’ll be dedicating this entire article to how relevant entertainment news in general is in our society and how it is potentially harmful to ourselves and our society.  

            With the accessibility of Cable TV and internet, the supply of media content has multiplied drastically, which has resulted in greater diversity of content. It’s a well known fact that mainstream media exists to make a profit and it’s sad but true: entertainment sells more than hard news stories, so many of these media outlets have resorted to having entertainment segments or sections to increase ratings.

            According to Thomas Patterson in an article from Harvard College titled “Doing Well and Doing Good: How Soft News and Critical Journalism are Shrinking the News Audience and Weakening Democracy—and what News Outlets Can do About it,” entertainment news is weakening the foundation of democracy by diminishing the public’s information about public affairs and its interest in politics.

            Americans devote more hours of the day to media consumption than any activity except sleep and work. If during this time, we are steeped in entertainment and distracted by remote incidence, the contribution that the news could make to the quality of public life is diminished, and possibly unnecessarily. According to the article, entertainment news may actually be eroding people’s interest in news.

            After surveying the student population at GV, 40 percent of the votes (26 individuals), said they preferred entertainment news over hard news. Some of the reasons ranged from not being able to understand hard news, having too many things to worry about in life already, being too controversial to watch, to not enjoying politics.

            One anonymous survey taker said they preferred entertainment news because “life has enough bad news in it. I don’t want to spend my little free time watching or reading something that’s only going to make me feel worse about the world we live in.”

            At the end of the survey, 70 percent of respondents believed that citizens are less informed about current events because of the prevalence of entertainment news in our media today, while only 24 percent didn’t believe citizens are less informed today.

            One survey taker responded: “Depends on the definition of ‘current event.’ If it’s defined as war, famine and pestilence, then quite probably yes. If current events include the upcoming release of a new Justin Timberlake album, it seems people are right on top of it.”

            The most interesting result of the survey was that individuals that answered they preferred to watch or listen to entertainment news still agreed that the growing coverage and interest in entertainment news is a problem for our society.

            “I think [the prevalence of entertainment news] is a major problem. It’s creating a society of uninformed dimwits that don’t possess the ability to make a rational decision on anything important because they’d rather watch a video about Justin Bieber’s DUI than pick up a newspaper and read about what Congress is doing,” answered one anonymous survey taker.

            Another anonymous survey taker answered: I believe that a growing percentage of the population is more interested in soft news. It seems that they do not want to think, or work to make changes in our society. This means that it is easier for others to have their way, be it good or bad, because there is no opposition or watch-dog group to ask questions or point out flaws or better/other ways to accomplish something.”

            Another answered: “Sadly, I do think the increasing interest in entertainment news is a problem. Any time a person lets their brain rot it’s a problem. Entertainment news is sugar for the brain.”

            On the same subject, someone responded “the media force-feeds us entertainment news and yes this is a problem. As a society we are effectively lobotomizing ourselves with this nonsense!”

            Returning to Anton’s quote: “the more relevant you make celebrities the less relevant you become.”  To be a good functioning democracy, the public must have a clear grasp of the daily workings of its government. Entertainment news provides little beneficial political information and American’s are overdosing on stories of stupidity, scandal and corruption. Entertainment news is causing apathy toward politics, which will eventually turn into apathy toward all news that isn’t entertainment. Ultimately, American’s will become disenchanted with their best source of political information and voting and participation in government, if done at all, will be performed blindly.

            The survey I conducted did have a silver lining: 60 percent of responders said they preferred hard news over entertainment news and their reasoning restored some of my faith in society. One anonymous taker responded:

            “I have no desire to find out what crap the celebrities are up to. I want to know what psychotic crap the politicians are handing to teachers now, if a tornado is about to take out my house, or if I need to donate food to the food banks because some politician has decided food stamps are too expensive.”

             So it seems that there is an increasing prevalence of entertainment news in our media today and there is still a lot of hard news coverage. Some believe that the prevalence of entertainment news is ruining our society while others disagree.

            “I definitely think people are more interested in entertainment news but I’m not sure it’s a huge problem,” one survey taker responded. “The people that want to be interested in hard news will be.”

            Another answered “In some degree yes, I think citizens are more interested in entertainment news, but I think the problem has to do with education. It’s OK to like entertainment news more than hard news, just as long as you’re keeping up with the hard news. However, when people don’t understand the importance of being an informed voter, it’s only natural that media is going to focus on entertainment news to stay afloat. Teaching people to think critically starts with education, and our education system in America is so messed up right now.”

            So based off the Harvard article and my survey, it seems like the best approach to the news is watching, reading, or listening in a healthy balance. It’s okay to like entertainment news more than hard news as long as you continue to educate yourself with what’s important. It seems that the prevalence of entertainment news in society and our media only becomes problematic when that’s the only type of news a person watches and when they’ve become entirely clueless about what’s happening in the world around them. 

From Rags to Riches

**Names have been changed for anonymity**

                When arriving at Catherine B’s house, you’re greeted with a hug, a kiss, and one question: “what would you like to eat?” And don’t even think about telling her you’re not hungry, because she’ll make you something anyway.

                Upon entering her living room and waiting for her to wander back from the kitchen it’s apparent that my grandmother loves her family. There are pictures on all of the walls, sitting on every table, inside the china cabinets that line two walls and stuck into the sides of a large rustic mirror of her children, siblings and grandchildren.

                This deep love for her family is different than most, however. The love and importance my grandmother places in her family stems from something tragic that happened when she was just a young girl—becoming an orphan.

                Her father, John Demetris, immigrated from Greece to work on the Panama Canal and eventually settled down in Clinchco, VA, where he worked as a coal miner. While there he met Pearl Stanley and they married and had seven children. Catherine was the youngest child and has the least memories of her parents.

                Her mother died in 1936, when my grandma was four months old. From what she was told her mother died at home in their bathtub due to a loss of blood. It was assumed she died from late complications of birth, but after finding Pearls’ death certificate, it’s assumed her death was due to stomach cancer. Catherine’s father died in 1944 when my grandma was nine years of age. He got into a car accident while driving home from work. He was ran off of the road by a drunk driver and tumbled over a cliff. His body was recovered and he was in a coma for three days but ultimately he died from head trauma, brain damage and paralysis.

                After both her parents passed away she was shuffled between her siblings. She jumped mainly between two of her sisters and oldest brother. She lived with her brother Tom in Virginia until he went away to California to work on ships for the Navy. She was then put in her sister Irene’s home in Virginia. When money was running short, she was given a few dollars and a can of food and put on a train for New York, where her eldest sister Beatrice lived.

                While she lived with Beatrice, she was put in charge of taking care of the children. When she wasn’t doing that, she was babysitting for other families in their apartment complex in the Bronx. It was then that she decided if she ever had children, they wouldn’t have a life like hers. If she was lucky enough to have a family, she would make sure they knew they were loved, they would be cared for, and she would make sure her family was always close.

                Catherine was passed back and forth between the two sisters for her entire life. After World War II, both Irene and Tom moved to Michigan and Catherine went along. Here, she met her husband, Earl B., and was finally able to have a family of her own. She had five kids and while she and Earl weren’t able to afford to feed them the best food or give them everything they wanted, they always knew they were loved and were always close.

                My grandmother knew she had succeeded in finally having the family she always wanted when she got married and had children, but even more so when she became a grandmother. Her five children are all married and have given her eight grandchildren, seven of whom are still living. All 19 of us get together for the holidays and that’s when you’ll find my grandmother the happiest: surrounded by the family she strived to give a better upbringing than she was afforded. 

Where are they now? Personality profile pt. II

**names and places have been changed for anonymity**

Ed isn’t your typical college freshman. While most freshmen are 17 or 18 and coming to college right out of high school, Ed is 22 and coming to G. University straight out of the military.

Ed enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of 17 and spent four years of his life traveling as a heavy equipment operator. Every morning he would wake up at 5 a.m., work out for an hour or two, change clothes and go to work where he would either be doing maintenance on bulldozers and cranes or supervising other Marines while at the dig sites.

Before his contract ended in July 2013 he had to take a mandatory separation class. He thought it would be really difficult finding a job and getting on his feet once he was back in the real world but he quickly realized that wasn’t the case.

“I honestly thought it would be a lot harder getting out of the Marine Corps,” he said. “When I went through my separation classes prior to getting out they made it seem like life outside the Corps was pretty much a post apocalyptic wasteland where no one had jobs and everyone was poor…they just wanted us to re-enlist,” he said.

But that didn’t scare him into re-enlisting and even though he has only been a civilian for a little over 3 months, he has found that life is much easier outside of the military.

“Life is way easier than I expected,” he said. “I don’t have the military breathing down my back. When I’m walking around campus or in a store there’s nobody yelling at me to do something and it’s really relaxing. That’s what makes life a lot easier,” he said.

Despite being pleasantly surprised about how easy life is there are some things he misses about being in the Marine Corps.

“I miss all the traveling. My unit traveled Asia by sea, so I was always seeing new places and moving around a lot,” he said. “I also miss all my buddies and the camaraderie we had.”

Even while he was in the Marine Corps, Ed always had a plan for what he was going to do once he was out and so far he’s sticking to it.

“I’ve always wanted to get a degree in geographical information systems and I was just accepted to G. University and will be starting this winter semester,” he said. “I also planned on making up for all the lost time with my girlfriend and I’ve spent every day since July 19th with her and I’m enjoying that a lot.”

Ed credits the Marine Corps with giving him the go-getter mindset that he has now. “College will be easy for me,” he said. “My mind is a lot different than other kids in college. I see classes and getting my degree more as a mission that has to get done, so I’ll be doing it right and as best as I can the first time so I won’t have to do anything over again,” he explained.

While adjusting over the past three months hasn’t been very difficult on him and he anticipates college will be easy there are some things he worries about when it comes to adjusting to being back in school.

“The only thing I think will be difficult is dealing with all the kids who are 18 and 19 who bitch about everything and haven’t experienced anything life has to offer,” he said. “That will get annoying really fast and I’m not looking forward to it at all.”

Personality Profile: From US Marine to US Civilian

**Names and locations have been changed for anonymity**

 

Camp LeJune, North Carolina—The majority of 17 and 18 year olds are excited about graduating high school and going away to college, even though they may face some struggles achieving their goals. Some students, like Edt, had different plans and struggles. Instead of going away to college he shipped out to San Diego, California, for boot camp and combat training to start his next four years as a member of the United States Marine Corps.

“I never thought of not joining,” he said. “I was the kid growing up that was always playing army. I bugged my dad to rent every war movie we saw, so I knew I was going to join the military since I was young.”

Ed wasn’t the first in his family to make the decision to join the Marine Corps; he had family that fought in World War I, World War II, and just recently had a cousin in the Corps, so joining any other branch seemed idiotic to him.

Even though he’s had family go through this before, he still struggled to get his family on board with his decision.

“I don’t think my parents ever believed I actually would join,” he said, “but the day I had a recruiter come to the house they finally realized I was serious. Since I was 17 they both had to sign a consent form. I always said I was just going to take my mom the forms and tell her it was a field trip slip so she’d sign it.”

Before he could even get a recruiter to talk to him, though, there were other obstacles he faced.

“The first time I spoke to my recruiter he told me to get down to a certain weight and he’d help me from there. I lost around 40 pounds in three months just to speak to him,” Ed said. “From there I lost 100lbs in less than a year.”

 When he joined in 2009 the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were still going strong and that didn’t make joining any easier.

“My mom automatically assumed I was going to be killed or something but my dad was alright with it. He thought it was better than sitting around in Michigan and getting a job that goes nowhere,” he said.

Joining the Marine Corps certainly has taken him a lot further than sitting around in Michigan. Since joining, he’s spent time all over the United States as well as Asia.

 After boot camp in San Diego he went to MOS [military occupational specialty] in Fort Leonardwood, Missouri, and then he spent two years in Okinawa, Japan.

During his two years in Japan he also got to do a lot of traveling.

“My unit traveled Asia by sea. I was scammed by a Buddhist monk in Hong Kong, I taught Filipino children to play duck duck goose in the Philippines, saw an indoor shooting range right next to a bar in Thailand, and found out first hand that Universal Studios in Singapore sucks,” he said.

While traveling is a perk of the job, there are also a lot of struggles that he’s faced during his time in the Marines.

“You’re never in control of your own life. The government owns you and it’ll be damned if it can’t control you. You’re always struggling to be yourself and remember who you are, not what the Marines want you to be,” he said.

That’s not the worst of it, though.

“The hardest struggle is always being away from home. Missing every holiday, every birthday, not being able to be home when my mom found out she had cancer and also when she beat it. It just sucks being away all the time. It wears you out.”

Luckily for Ed, he doesn’t have to deal with the Marine Corps much longer. He’ll be getting released April 2, 2013.

“Knowing I’m out soon and knowing I’ll have my freedom back is one of the greatest feelings,” he said. With the excitement also comes new fears and struggles.

“It’s one of the scariest things knowing I’m done soon and that I have to go back to a world that’s changed immensely since I last left it,” he said. “I’ve been protected by the Marine Corps, so I’m pretty much going back to a world I don’t feel I belong in. I’m not the same kid that left four years ago, a lot has changed, and learning to fit back in with family and friends will be my biggest struggle.”

His family and friends aren’t used to the drastic change from an immature kid blowing off his time in high school to the man he is today. “I’ve lost most of my friends,” he said. “They still act idiotic and annoying and bitch about useless things, just like in high school. They take everything for granted, and now I have to get used to it.”

If you take a look at Facebook, he has a point. While most people in college are constantly posting about how much homework sucks, how badly they want to leave their hometown, and how much they hate their jobs, Ed’s Facebook posts are entirely different. His posts are always about how much he can’t wait to come home to Michigan, encouraging words for himself and his ‘brothers’ in the Corps, and of course, jokes.  

Taking a moment to reflect back on his four years in the Marines, he added, “I wouldn’t have the same morals and I wouldn’t carry myself the way I do if it weren’t for the Corps, and people at home will have to get used to the change.”

Despite the fears and struggles, he’s still looking forward to what the world has in store for him once he’s released.

“It will be scary, but the excitement outweighs the fears. Finally being able to go home and stay there with the people I care about and miss makes this the greatest feeling in the world,” he said.

He already has some tentative plans on what he wants to do once he’s released, though it’s hard to make plans while he’s still a Marine. He plans on getting a puppy as soon as possible, and he’s still deciding what university to attend and what to major in.

While sitting in the corner of the couch with a pile of blankets, as he’s not accustomed to the cold Michigan weather just yet, he says despite plans being difficult to make since he’s not out of the Corps just yet, there is one thing he knows for certain.

 “I’m taking a month off to just relax and enjoy life. I’m not going to have a care or worry in the world for the first time in four years.”