Peak

I am not someone who spends a ton of time on my phone. I’ll play the occasional game, check Instagram a few times, and pull it out in awkward situations (that’s what phones are really for, am I right?), but I’ve never been that attached to my device.

A month ago, everything changed…

I downloaded the app “Peak” after a suggestion from a friend and I have been hooked ever since. I would describe our relationship as frustrating and addicting (probably not healthy if those are the two words that come to mind), but I like to tell myself that it’s educational. IMG_0234 10

Centered around exercising your brain, Peak provides you with “daily activities” (fun games) that are supposed to help you grow in different categories. When I first started my training, my scores were awful. I tried each of the games for about a week until, feeling upset and kind of dumb, I did what any person would do and created an entirely new account.

Determined to succeed the second time around, I realized there was a way to ensure I got the best scores possible: play each game over and over again until I get a perfect score. While this may not be indicative of my actual “Peak brain score”, at least it serves the purpose of making me feel good about myself.

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My inflated brain score that only looks this way because I cheat

Unfortunately, a good brain score comes with a cost: my time. In order to make sure I get a perfect score on each of the games, I have to spend hours completing four games that are supposed to take a minute each.

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My memory “workout” for the day

Overall, Peak is definitely one of my favorite apps. However, for people as competitive as me, it should be downloaded with the knowledge that it has the ability to uproot your life.

I’m not sure if it has actually made me smarter, but it has definitely given me a lesson in time management!

The Desk

I’m the biggest procrastinator you will ever meet.

While I tend to think procrastination is a great idea, my mom seems to have a different opinion. The other week, she told me I had to clean off my desk… And I put it off and forgot.

This definitely did not make her happy (especially since I had done the same thing with the dishes, too).

So here I am, Thursday night, trying to think of a blog post (which I have also procrastinated on), and in she comes telling me I have to clean off my desk. Right now. That was when I realized, hey! Why not write about my desk?

So, I present to you, the paraphernalia and treasures of my desk.

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As I was cleaning this off, I discovered quite a few interesting objects that I would like to share you with you.

#1. A collection of teeth (not really sure why I wanted to save these)90cea877-f28e-4895-859a-3ab0a1ba9889

#2. A “best friends” puppy and kitten box (cuz why not?)

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#3. Typewriter (birthday present from friends… thanks Steph :))2c677c78-b476-4efb-910d-232a32af13f5.jpg

#4. My missing writer’s notebook

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#5. Stickers sent to me by friends intended for my Nalgene (which I lost)4b70577f-2d14-44e0-80f2-5a17955015e9.jpg

#6. A hammer (used to threaten intruding little sisters) and an empty pack of Oreos from Christmas. 814934bd-7581-4b8b-b350-d37d024c0fcc.jpg

As far as desks go, I hope that they don’t say too much about a person considering my desk has a sticker saying “big potato”. Wish me luck at staying awake during class tomorrow; I’ll be up until midnight organizing!

Transhumanism???!

The other day I read one of the weirdest articles ever: “600 Miles in a Coffin-Shaped Bus, Campaigning Against Death Itself”.

Yeah, it’s as weird as it sounds.

Despite its strange title, the piece was excellently written, telling the story of reporter Mark O’Connell and his adventure across the United States with two transhumanists, Roen Horn and Zoltan Istvan (pretty awesome names, am I right?)

Transhumanism is basically a term used to describe people who believe that technology should be used to advance human life in any form necessary. Their ideology is interesting and different, something that I have never been exposed to or heard of before. Horn and Istvan both believe that some day soon, we will all be programmed with information and become “post-humans” (evolve into newer and smarter beings).

In order to raise awareness for his belief, Istvan decided to run for president and campaigned by traveling across the country in a coffin-shaped bus. Literally.

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When I first began reading, I was overwhelmed by the radical ideologies and quite simply weirded out. The idea that people wanted to live in a society where humans are basically robots is kind of disturbing and scary. As I read on, it made me think about my own life and even compare my own beliefs to those of the transhumanists.

This is what I discovered:

Life is beautiful. It is extraordinary and breath-taking and we should try to enjoy every moment of it. Whether it’s watching every sunset or making the most of every relationship, we need to live every moment like it’s the last.

People like Istvan and Horn are missing out. They are missing out on this beauty by focusing on the consequences of death. They may claim they only care about life, but their obsession with eternity is concentrating their energy on the one obstacle in their way: death. They are isolating their life to one, unachievable goal and are unable to experience the brilliance and splendor of living.

Life is a miracle that we should take hold of and use, but not distort. Like a mirror, we need to observe it from a distance, but be careful not to warp the image when we grow close. Extending human life the way that Istvan and Horn want would take away human individuality and creativity. It would transform the concept of life into something unenjoyable and extraordinarily dull. Ultimately, the future that transhumanists are advocating for eradicates the one thing they are trying to preserve: the joy of living.

While I am not a philosophy major and I may have completely messed up the true meaning of transhumanism, this article has definitely made me think about the trail of my life and the impact of every step that I take.

Life is amazing. And I want to make every footprint count.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Traditions

I hate change.

When I was little, I cried when my parents painted the house, when our family didn’t go to the same place for vacation, and even when my mom made me try rollerblades instead of roller skates for the first time.

Looking for some form of stability and consistency in my obviously “turbulent” life, I found solace in Christmas. I found that every year I could count on the tree going up, the neighbor’s houses coming to life with colorful lights, and Christmas music decorating the atmosphere. Finally, I had found something that would never change.

Over the years, the traditions have only grown. Here are a few of my favorite:

  • Cookie-Making
    • While this may sound like a very normal Christmas routine, the Dewey family cookie bake-off is much more intense. There is always a competition to see who can make the biggest, fattest cookie, which person can fit the most sprinkles on a single cutout, and also who will use the most flour and eat the most dough. This year, Alyssa (the youngest, 8 years old) definitely won all 4.

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  • Secret Santa
    • Although pretty self-explanatory, this Christmas tradition is especially important since this is where all the candy comes from. Since each of us are only given 10$ to spend at Walgreens and we have to buy at least 5 gifts, in order to make sure gift lasts the entire week, we end up buying a ton of candy and soda since they’re so cheap. Usually, my dad is the one who gets the best gifts. He still claims his favorite Secret Santa so far was when he received his dump truck.
  • Snowflakes
    • As soon as winter break starts, my sisters and I gather paper and scissors and make as many snowflakes as we can. We decorate them, and then we trade them with each other. After the swapping has finished and we each have one of each other’s, we hang them up somewhere in our room and don’t take them down until the next year.

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  • D.S.C.C
    • The Christmas Fort (or the Dewey Sister Christmas Club as we nicknamed it) has been around for many years. Established circa 2010 (ish), we open it every November 24 and take it down on the 3rd of January. We spend hours decorating it with tinsel, Christmas lights, and a countdown calendar. On Christmas Eve, we sneak candy, soda, treats, and games so we can party all night long!

 

Turkey Day :)

In light of the upcoming holiday, I thought I might relate the two best aspects of thanksgiving : thankfulness and food. The following is a list of my top 10 favorite foods that I am beyond grateful for. Enjoy!

  1. Steak and Shake Cheeseburger
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  2. Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake (Courtesy of the Cheesecake Factory)Image result for oreo dream extreme cheesecake
  3. Chipotle Chicken Bowl

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4. Dewey’s Pizza Calzone

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5. Skyline Cheese Coney

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6. Lava Cake Don Pablos

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7. Coffee Please (in Madeira) Mac ‘n Cheese

 

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8. Ruth’s Chris Steak

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9. Friday’s Mozzarella Sticks

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10. Flipdaddy’s Root Beer Float

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Why I Write

Writing is a lot like treasure hunting. It takes a long time, but it’s worth the effort in the long run. I have spent hours searching for the perfect combination of words and letters, digging deep into the furthest reaches of my literary knowledge, until I have emerged triumphant from the depths with a sentence that rolls off the tongue with ease, a feeling as precious as riches.

These riches are something very few appreciate or understand. Like petals on a flower, each letter, word, and sentence accents the other, creating a rainbow of highlighted colors; each layer piles on top of the other until you are left with a multi-colored blossom of thoughts, waiting to be picked and harvested. Like jewels strung into a necklace, the words I have chained together finally gleam in the light of their accomplishment and I exhibit their sentences with confidence.

However, this confidence tends to come into question when fighting off pirates. Bandits often sail the high seas, looking to steal my discovery and take away my feeling of victory. Oftentimes, after I have completed a piece, I read back over my work and am disappointed that the effort I have put in hasn’t had the desired effect. The scoundrels in my head attempt to steal my success, try to make me feel worthless and disappointing, but I fight words with words and don’t stop until each line has tapped undiscovered beauty.

Part of why writing is so beautiful is that it’s purely and truly you. When the treasure chest is opened, people find themselves amidst the riches and discover their own worth. Writing makes people vulnerable. It makes people tough. Writing gives people the opportunity to discover who they are and what makes them special. It provides an outlet in which the ordinary can become extraordinary.

After years of writing, this is the question I find myself constantly asking: What are you going to do with this treasure?

And this is why I write.

Yes, I write to feel victorious. Yes, I write to experience beauty. And yes, I write to discover who I am. But most importantly, I write to change.

I write so that when my story is done, I can leave people wondering about my message. I write so that people can understand hardship, understand struggle, and understand how to overcome. I write so that people feel emotion. I write so that humans can understand morality. I write so that this world can be a better place.

I write so that I can make a difference.

As a young, and self-conscious adventurer, I have only just begun exploring the power writing has on myself and others. And I am very afraid to share.

But one thing I know for sure.

Although words still scare me, writing has become a part of who I am and I am learning to display this part of me with pride. My hope is that in the future I can exhibit enough confidence to show this side of me that I love. That I can be confident enough to share my writing and make an impact.

She’d thought that her words were all worthless,

But the paper left nowhere to hide.

And she finally noticed the beauty,

She’d always kept bottled inside.

-e.h.

 

 

Letters as People

After the writing exercise we did in journalism yesterday, I thought I’d do the same thing to the letters of my name and what each letter would be if they were a person.

K- I see k as the badass super lady in the movies. Yes, kick begins with k, but I also see the two lines in front of the straight line like some sort of karate move being used to defend itself. It’s very rigid, with no curves, which shows its toughness, and the sound you make when you say it is sharp and cutting.

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yes, the first letter of my name is basically Mrs. Incredible. Be jealous.

 

 

 

A- A is a gentle giant. The way it’s shaped reminds me of a mountain, but the soft a sound gives me the impression that it’s not as violent or scary as a giant.
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The letter A is basically the green giant on the green bean bags at the grocery store. He reminds me of A because, despite his height and strength, he is so gentle that he grows green beans for a living!

 

Y- Y is super energetic, bouncy and playful – kind of like a 3-year-old who has been given a bucket full of candy. I think I get this impression partly from the two lines that form a v at the top. They remind me of arms up in the air, almost like it’s dancing. The v also kind of looks like a slide.

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Y is Vanellope von Schweetz, who spends her days racing in a candy car.

 

L- L is kind of like the dad of the fam. He is very straightforward and has a very strong moral compass. I think I get this impression from the fact that all the lines are straight and that there’s not much to the letter. He is calm, cool, and collected, but sometimes he can be kind of annoying and close-minded (this is not at all representative of my own dad though, in case you were wondering!) This idea comes from the actual sound of the letter l. I personally don’t like it very much and at the end my throat always feels like it’s being closed off.
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This isn’t a specific dad from some movie, but it’s what I feel like the letter L would look like.

 

 

 

The Magical Mystery of Music

This summer, as a part of my AP Lang homework, I was required to watch a documentary about something controversial.

In typical, teenage fashion, I waited until a week before the assignment was due to actually choose and watch a film. After consulting briefly with my parents over an interesting topic to watch, my dad suggested I look at “Alive Inside”. With little time left to make a decision, I brought my computer up to my room, shut the door, and immersed myself in the story. I was ill-prepared for the effect it would have on me.

Overall, the documentary was a compendium of heartfelt stories illustrating the effects music has on people with dementia. Elderly people, who would otherwise sit in the corner silently, suddenly come to life when their brains process familiar rhythms and tunes from their past. It was the most heartwarming sight to see daughters, husbands, and wives finally see their parent or spouse revivify after years of silence and inactivity.

One of the most interesting parts of the entire documentary was the seemingly magical effect music has on people. To us, music is just a part of everyday life and we don’t really realize the impact it has on us. Whether we’re in the car jamming, or listening to the music in the restaurant bathroom,  music helps us form special memories and associations that stick with us for life.

The other day, I came across the song “For Once in my Life” by Stevie Wonder, a song I hadn’t heard since I was really little. My parents were (and still are) huge fans of him, but over time I have found my own musical preferences and stopped listening to my parent’s. Although I didn’t remember any of the lyrics, the tune came back crystal clear… and the memories even clearer.

I remembered dancing with my sisters on Christmas day before we opened presents. I remembered laughs and giggles with my cousins as we performed for our parents. I remembered happy times spent with my family from years long gone and I felt content, yet nostalgic.

It’s weird how music does that. And amazing all at the same time.

While “Alive Inside” did not end up fitting all the requirements needed for the documentary, and I had to rush to find another movie for the assignment, I’m glad I watched it.

I learned that music has the capacity to change lives, and we have the capability to benefit from it. While I don’t (and probably never will) understand the massive extent to which music affects us, it’s reassuring to know that somehow and in some way, I am making memories that will last a lifetime.

“Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories.” – Stevie Wonder

 

Life-Lessons Learned from a Dog

If you had asked me two years ago whether I would want a dog in the future, I’m not sure what my answer would have been. I’d never really been a huge animal person, but I had grown up with dogs since I was a baby so I had never really considered the idea of what it would be like without one.

Our first dog, Thor (our tiny corgi named after the god of thunder), was basically a grandpa. He was a cranky, cantankerous old man who never sat, stayed in the yard, or even did his business when he was asked. As kids, my sisters and I always had to squeeze out the front door as carefully as possible to make sure we didn’t create a chance for escape. If I’m being honest, I kind of hated Thor and I have no memories of ever petting, feeding, or walking him. He was just there.

It’s kind of pathetic if you consider the grandiose name we gave him; you’d think I’d have noticed the “god of thunder” a little more, but I have little recollection of him other than his disagreeability.

Shortly after Thor died, when I was 9 years old, we introduced Woody (short for Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president) into the Dewey household. I remember sitting around the kitchen table with my family discussing possible names when my dad, who is a major history buff, suggested it – the vote was unanimous. Unfortunately, poor puppy Woody was a little much for my mom who still had 4 little kids all under the age of 10, one of them only a year old. As a result, he was sent off to a doggy version of military school for a week and returned completely changed. Traumatized by the harsh training of Captain John Smith, leader of the All About Dogs Training Academy, Woody was (and still is) too terrified to disobey any order he is given. While he is often considered the smartest dog in all of Mariemont (okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration) and lives up to his name, Woody has always been too much of a robot for me to enjoy his company. Always a bit timid and never seemingly excited about anything (except food), I’ve never really taken notice of him other than the fact that he has very strong anxiety issues and can stay in the yard if I let him outside.

As I said before, two years ago, I don’t know what my answer would have been about dogs… But then Roo entered the picture.

My sister Erika has a bit of an obsession for dogs. Ever since she was about 5 years old, she’s had every breed memorized and begged my mom for one that she can call her own. Erika always kind of assumed she would never get one, but in the spring of 2015, everything changed.

Yes, she got a dog.

Rueben Bear Dewey (Roo for short) joined our family sometime in the middle of May, a few months after Erika’s 11th birthday. While he most definitely does not realize it, Roo has entered a special place in my heart that does not go unnoticed (unlike Thor and Woody) and is teaching me lessons in life I’ve never realized before.

Roo is the perfect blend. While he is definitely better behaved than old Thor, he’s not as robotic as Woody – he’s easier to relate to as a human. Watching Roo grow up and seeing his strengths (not running out into the street) and weaknesses (barking like a madman at squirrels), I’ve realized I don’t have to be perfect to be “good” and I don’t have to be a rebel to have fun – something he loves to do.

Of all the dogs I’ve had in my life, none of them have really known the definition of “fun” as well as Roo. I have spent countless minutes with him playing tag, steal the bacon, and hide and seek that are some of the most enjoyable moments of my life. Too many times I find myself caught up in the busyness of school, sports, and extracurriculars that the distraction he provides in these simplistic games adds a new meaning to each day.

He’s also probably the happiest dog I’ve ever met. Whenever he walks or runs, he has this little jump to his step that makes it look like he’s prancing through a meadow. While my mom says it’s a reflection of his stupidity (he is a very dumb dog), I see it more as an example of his exuberance and innocence. Watching him, I often recognize the joy he finds in the little things in life; whether it’s eating breakfast, going for a walk, or even something as simple as a belly rub, he goes about each new day with a wagging tail and a joyful skip in his step. It’s incredible to see his never-ending optimism in life and an inspiration for how I want to live my own.

What is probably most important to me is his happiness in relation to the family. Anytime someone comes back home, whether you’ve been gone an hour or a week, Roo comes galloping over and stands at your feet doing a weird, wiggly jig until you pet him. If you sit down on the floor, he’ll come loping over to you with his long gangly legs and sit right next you, happy to have a companion. My parents like to say he has no sense of personal space, but I like to think he’s too happy to spend time with you that he doesn’t want to be anywhere farther than right by your side. While I definitely don’t want to be following my family around for the rest of my life, the excitement he finds in being with all of us really makes me appreciate those around me.

While Roo has had his fair share of incidents (chasing the UPS truck down the street, eating the last chicken egg roll from Tellers, biting the arms and legs off of all the Polly Pockets, etc.), for a puppy, Roo has been pretty good so far and an even better companion. There are so many things I still have yet to learn from this dumb dog and I couldn’t ask for a better friend to have by my side.