Finding love; a guide to loving yourself

The 21st century has turned women more savage and men into more sensitive human beings, but what has caused this switch up of roles and the desperate need for a superficial relationship with someone just to say that you two are together?

Social media has put the spotlight on a number of popular couples such as Beyoncé and Jay Z, Will and Jada Smith, Dewayne Wade and Gabrielle Union-Wade while touting these couples as “relationship goals.” In reality we don’t see or hear about the problems these couples may face or the sad times unless TMZ strikes again and spreads news about a possible divorce or other problems within their relationships that they wanted to keep private. The only “goal” in these relationships that people envy are the dinner dates, gifts the male gives to the woman and publicly sharing smiling photos or videos of the couple together. Is that it? That’s what the dating pool of the 21st century as of 2017 wants out of a relationship? Just to have the opportunity to showcase on social media a happy photo of you two together? Drake said it best referring to the many “relationship goals” couples, “We look like we’re in love, but only on camera.”
However, society never knows if that couple is honestly happy together; they just go off of pictures.
I have a simple solution for blind-eyed individuals and people set out to have a relationship just like the ones they see on their social media timelines. Get a clue people, learn to be yourself and have your own identity and love your partner your own way. Before we can love someone else we must first learn to love ourselves.

A dramatically huge number of people are either no longer in relationships, haven’t been in a relationship in years; have never been in a relationship to begin with or are simply the “side chick” and don’t know it. Since my last relationship, which feels like a century ago, I decided to pick up the pieces and learn to live and love myself, for myself. Knowing how to love yourself no matter who you are or not with, is the key to being able to teach someone how to love you in return. If you are still on the fence about accepting your flaws and the hurtful things of your past, then how can your partner make you overcome them? It will continue to be a constant battle until you learn for yourself how to let the hurtful things of the past go and embrace your flaws because your flaws are what makes you, you. My advice to the young and beautiful women and men of the 21st century trying to find a way to love themselves: set a day once a week and make it  “your day.” Take yourself out to eat or to a movie, buy yourself a gift that will make you happy, or simply just enjoy the world around you. We all know the saying “If you don’t know how to love yourself first, how can you love someone else?” Therefore, in reality no one loves you more than you. In order for someone to put their all into loving you, you must be able to guide them in the right direction in order to succeed at the task at hand.

Which brings us back to the topic of relationship goals in the 21st century: Get your own! The only goal I would want in a relationship, after I have learned the key points in loving myself and                    sharing that love, is a caring person who loves me for me, someone who supports my ambitions and ideas, and most importantly, good for me not just someone to have on my arm. The main goal in life is to be happy and to share that happiness with someone you have chosen to be with. A small word of advice for my single people loving themselves first. There is still hope; in the meantime, love yourself to the utmost high. The right person will come along when the time is right. I’m wondering myself when that will be for me. Until then I will continue to love myself like no other.




Trump’s travel ban ‘doesn’t work in this modern era’

One of U.S. President Donald Trump’s first official actions following his inauguration ceremony was to sign an executive order to bar citizens of seven Muslim-dominated countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days. He also suspended the admission of all refugees into the country for 120 days. The barred countries are Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya and Somalia.

Take a look at Syria: perhaps there is no war-torn country on Earth more than Syria. The war has been going on for more than six years and about 400,000 people have died since the war started. This number includes innocent children and citizens who have nothing to do with the political issues tearing the country apart.

Yemen has also been war-torn. Hospitals and schools were bombed and the future of the country is dark because of the radical Muslims who took over most of the country. Iran has a high rate of unemployment. Iraq has been struggling to get back on its feet ever since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world. People scavenge for food and clothes from the municipal garbage dump and most of the kids don’t attend school because there are no educational resources. Libya was once a great country and used to be one of the richest countries in Africa. Its citizens enjoyed the benefits of the country’s vast oil wealth, but ever since the leader was executed in 2011, it has not been the same. Libya has not seen a stable government since the death of Moammar Gadhafi. Isis has blended into the country and consequently they are now controlling some parts of the country.

Somalia has been a war-stricken country ever since I can remember. When I was growing up in Africa, all we knew about Somalia was that it was a very dangerous country to go visit and people were killed or kidnapped if they tried.

All of these countries have two major things in common: they are all Muslim dominated and they are all poverty stricken.

As an immigrant living in the United States, I have had an opportunity to experience both sides of the world. Just because one is from a Muslim-dominated country, it doesn’t make them a terrorist or a danger to society. Most of these people coming to seek refuge in America have good intentions, which is a better life and better future for their kids. President Trump overlooks the fact that we are all human beings and if he were to be put in the same shoes, he would be doing the same: trying to seek greener pastures.

His executive order also affects the immigrants who come here legally. The illegal immigrants who jump through the water and land from Mexico are not affected, yet those are the ones he should be focusing on. As an immigrant I work and pay taxes just like everyone and I’m legally registered in the system. I had to apply for a visa before I came here and I had to provide evidence to prove I wasn’t affiliated with a gang or terrorist group. These people being banned from entering the US include green card holders who have no criminal record and some of them have lived here for more than 20 years. President Trump is separating families. Some of these immigrants stuck on the other side of the world have children here who are U.S. citizens by birth and now they can’t visit their families. No man is an island and we as a nation need other countries for trade; and what he is doing is tearing apart relations with other countries. What makes it worse is some of these nations might retaliate against us and this will affect innocent citizens who have no political affiliations. Some world leaders have already reacted harshly to Trump’s executive order by suspending immigration and visas for U.S. citizens trying to visit or do business in other countries, mainly those with a majority of Muslim populations. Trump’s ideology is an egocentric, narcissistic idea that doesn’t work in this modern era.


Fungai Peta is a Communications Major from Zimbabwe, Africa


Lose your fake friends, find your real friends


One of the most challenging obstacles I had growing up was being able to distinguish genuine friendships from fake friendships. I’ve given too many people too many chances, and ended up being burned in the end.

Several of these circumstances could’ve been solved if I had simply stood up for myself. In 2017 I made a New Year’s resolution to be less docile. Passivity has been one of the biggest burdens in life, and I’m determined to put that to rest.

Photo by Richard Nguyen/THE FLARE

In this past year I have lost two friends, which has made me realize how toxic they really were in my life. We shared tears, laughs, and many great adventures throughout friendships, but the bonds I had built ended up being very much one-sided. I had one friend admit to not caring about me, she just enjoyed using me and one friend who completely shut me out because she was moving away to college and didn’t want to deal with me anymore; however, these friendships were not a waste of time. Having people like them in my life has made me grow and flourish as a person and be more aware of a person’s intentions. It also revealed to me the person I never wanted to become.

Listen to your parents when they question if your friend is genuine. Most of the time they are able to spot your fake friends before you are. Do not place your trust in everyone you meet. Believe it or not, not everyone is as loyal as you. Most of the time, the information you shared with said “friend,” won’t stay between the two of you. There are friends you can have a great time with, without revealing anything personal about yourself too.

Upon losing friends this past year, I’ve met some of the most genuine friends I’ve ever had. Having people in my life who showed me the true meaning of a friend was a bit of a culture shock. it was something I had never really had. The people in my life now go out of their way to help me and show me that they care and I do the same for them. If there was ever any sort of conflict, I know our trust in each other is strong enough to work through it. The friend

ships I have now are the ones I’m terrified of losing. I owe it to the two friends who decided I wasn’t good enough to keep around. If they wanted me to write kindly about them, they should’ve behaved accordingly.

Those two friends have since realized what they lost. The friend who completely shut me out because she was moving away to college and didn’t want to deal with me anymore, reached out to me a few weeks ago trying to take me out dinner. I accomplished the impossible. I stood up to the girl who had sent me an apology text message so long I had to click on it to expand, degrading my character and doubting my ability to be courageous. I told her I did not feel comfortable sitting across from someone who had such mean things to say about me.

The friend who admitted to not caring about me has been very quiet. We haven’t spoken since the day she tried to convince me she didn’t mean it when she said she “didn’t care about me,” but I’m not open-minded to having a friendship with someone who only needed me as someone to fall back on because her boyfriend was her only other friend at the time. It was evident especially after she started dating her boyfriend, that she really didn’t care about me.

I forgive them of course, and if they really needed me I’d be there for them, but my time without them has been so much more fulfilling than it was when I was friends with them.

They’ve missed out on the last eight months of my life, and I’ve missed out on the last eight months of theirs. I still care and think about them often, but I‘m forever grateful that these women have led me to true friendship. I’m not bitter and I wish them well, and I hope my compassion, empathy and the support I showed them throughout the duration of our friendship has helped them grow as people als0.



International student inspired by African heroes


Black history month is a famous month celebrated here in America, but as an African who migrated from Zimbabwe, the cultural celebration has had a great impact on me. I have come to realize that even in Africa we tend to celebrate this time, just in a different form and fashion. There are so many influential people who made Africa what it is today. Some of the most celebrated heroes who inspired me to be who I am are Nelson Mandela and Desmond Mpilo Tutu.

Nelson Mandela was a former activist and president of South Africa. He sacrificed 27 years of his life to bring an end to apartheid and he is an icon also known for his advocacy on human rights. Just like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mandela led a peaceful protest against the white minority. He stood up for his people when the whites tried to bribe him to stop his protest against the oppression, and that landed him behind bars for nearly 30 years.

During his incarceration, Mandela continued with his hope and faith by reading books, attending university by correspondence and teaching other fellow inmates. While he was confined, Nelson Mandela earned a bachelor’s of law degree from the University of London. His incarceration did not stop his influence on the outside world. While incarcerated, he also drafted his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” which was published five years after his release.

After 27 years, he was released from prison in 1994 and became the first black president of South Africa. Mandela has inspired so many people, including me, because he stood up for what he believed. He’s precious to the oppressed Africans who he led to freedom. As a president, Mandela introduced social and economic programs that helped improve the living standards of black South Africans who had lived under apartheid for so many years. He also brought people of all races together, ending the racial tension between blacks and whites in Africa.

Even after leaving office, Mandela continued his legacy; he began many organizations which include the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Elders Program that helps ease human suffering and advocates people to help the elderly. The AIDS pandemic was ignored for years in Africa. People used to ignore the severity of the disease but after Mandela saw this, he became a vocal advocate of AIDS awareness and treatment programs. Mandela died on Dec. 5 2013 after a battle with a respiratory infection. His legacy lives on as he has inspired so many people. This led to the production of the movie “Long Walk to Freedom.” The movie was so popular it made it to the cinema. Mandela is a hero and legend whose legacy will live forever.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu is another role model of mine. He is an African icon of endurance and perseverance. Tutu was born Oct. 7, 1931 in Kleksdorp, South Africa. Tutu grew up in South Africa under segregation and oppression, but that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most inspiring and educated youth of his time. Growing up, he had a passion for reading novels. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from University of South Africa in 1954. After graduating he became an English and history teacher, teaching black schools and helping unfortunate kids restore their pride. Bishop Tutu worked tirelessly to restore the African pride that had been taken away by apartheid. In 1984, Tutu was awarded with a Nobel Peace Prize for his concerns with democracy, human dignity and fraternity. Him receiving the Nobel transformed the apartheid movement into an international issue and the whole world began sympathizing and helping to liberate South Africa.

In 1985 he became the first black bishop for South Africa; before this, in 1987 Tutu was named the president of all African conference churches. He used the word of God to liberate and enlighten the black majority on freedom.

After South Africa obtained its independence in 1994, newly elected president, Nelson Mandela appointed Desmond Tutu as the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Even today Tutu continues to advocate against inequality, social injustice and racial discrimination, also standing up for the fight against AIDS, an epidemic that has torn apart South Africa, a country with the highest per capita of AIDS victims in the world.

Desmond Tutu is now 85 years old and lives in South Africa where he continues his hard work on behalf of Africa.

Strive to be a positive influence for all

Photo by Timothy Stuckey/THE FLARE
Photo by Timothy Stuckey/THE FLARE

Every day our communities suffer from the lack of positive influences and true leadership. All it takes to conquer peace is to be wise and bold enough to take charge and spread the love.

I strive every day to make sure I am contributing to whatever it takes to gain true success, and I want you to know it takes hard work and some true humbling of oneself to truly achieve your dreams.

Keep in mind that to prosper, you must share the wealth. Do not allow yourself to be closed in and block out the world from the good you can bring. The goal is to strive to become positive influences to ourselves, our families and to our communities.

To quote a famous poet, Langston Hughes, “when a man starts out to build a world, he starts with himself.” Start with yourself and flourish to others.

A great start would be to set positive goals for yourself that can help you become the ideal leading example you want to be. Being successful in school shows students who come after you how to conduct themselves in a positive manner. Every day, young students learn from what they see older students doing. Whether it is good or bad, be mindful that someone is watching your education performance.

For most, procrastination is a personal flaw that should be confronted and corrected to move forward in being a positive influence. Stop letting yourself wait until the last minute to get things done, and strive to get them done much earlier than the deadline. Defeating procrastination is very important in self-discipline. It makes us fall short of fulfilling true potential, and causes mistakes, miscommunications and misunderstandings. When you procrastinate with others, it is very easy for you to lose accountability.

Plan your career goals to strive for after your completion of school. The career path choices we make speaks volumes of our desired public image, and regardless of the path you may choose, be a prime example of what a dedicated professional can contribute to the company. Being proactive, whether in school or at work gives positive influential qualities for those who do pay attention or look up to you as an inspiration.

Once we have become one with ourselves, we are now able to share our gifts and talents with others. Give generously to those who have supported you, and those included are your family, church, school, and local community. Recognize that you didn’t complete your journey without them, and share your appreciation by being proactive and giving yourself back.

When you are not busy with school or work, volunteer some of your free time by helping with special projects or committing to being proactive in community outreach.

To give generously to our supporters and community doesn’t necessarily mean buying gifts or giving money. It also means to express acts of kindness with common courtesy, compliments and in compliance of being a good Samaritan. A simple “hello” or “nice shoes”, could brighten someone’s day.

With knowing positive influences begin with you, I now close with an inspirational quote from Langston Hughes, “I look at my own body with eyes no longer blind and I see that my own hands can make the world that’s in my mind.”

Love wins

My definition of love would begin with what the Holy Bible says in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13, verses 4-7. Once you have read the scripture and take into consideration what it means, it is all very accurate and can give quite an overview — a great definition and example of what unconditional love is. Let’s face it. That explanation of love is very hard for us humans to accept in its entirety, much less achieve it. Humans are broken — broken from our past and from our raising, even from our environment. You can live a picture perfect life with the picture perfect existence and still be flawed. Who’s to say what perfect is anymore, but you get the idea.

I think of love as a feeling, an emotion and an action. I believe it comes and goes, has its good times and not so good times. The overall essence of love will remain as long as you have a good foundation. Love comes in many forms… of self….love of neighbor…love of life….love of family and friends…. etc. The tough part would be the constant effort it takes to be in the state of love or even harder the love of enemies. Love is a choice that you make no matter the package, baggage, circumstance or situation you are in. You have to accept the person for who they are and allow for imperfection.

Love is hard because it’s vulnerability exposed. Engaging the will to trust the other person with your feelings and your heart — most of the time that is just too hard. Allowing the ability to receive love and give it is too risky. Never knowing love can be just as damaging as loving too much. Finding the happy balance will most likely be a dance that humans will never truly understand completely and totally the way it was intended until we are in Heaven basking in the one true love we all seek. In the meantime, how often do we hear about love and how many time has this subject been touched on, to infinity and bbbbeeeeeyyyond, (for the Toy Story fans out there). From Shakespeare to Tina Turner, we have all tried to figure out how to be “IN” love, how to stay “IN” love, or how to recover from love. Patience and acceptance should be in the forefront. Without it, you will fail at love. No matter what race, color, shape or form you are loved, your life matters. Take the time to know and love yourself. Remember you are human. As soon as you accept and love you the easier and happier you can love another. We are all given things that make us unique and special, even the ability to love unconditionally, it’s a choice we have to make. LOVE WINS!!!!!!


How to be single on Valentine’s Day

The “single friend,” is a title i’ve known too well my whole life. I’ve watched all my friends experience beautiful relationships with their significant others, but i’ve never been able to find someone i  have an ultimate connection with. If there’s no chemistry between two, people there is no point in wasting time. Don’t give your heart to someone undeserving just because you feel that it is your only option.

I do experience the wrath of loneliness, but I’m known as the girl who doesn’t settle. I take a lot of pride in being a girl who doesn’t have to depend on a man!

Being single is both a curse and a blessing, especially as Valentine’s day rolls around. I don’t know why February the 14th stands out the most when i know i should express love to the people in my life everyday. Valentine’s day, also known as “Singles Awareness day,” is considered one of the loneliest holidays for someone who’s single.

It is important to occupy yourself if you’re approaching this Valentine’s day (and the ones after that) single. Always remember to celebrate your non romantic relationships. Let your friends and family know how thankful you are to be so loved and maybe find some single friends to endure the holiday of love with!

Treat yourself! Go ahead and finish that whole chipotle burrito, rent your favorite movies on pay-per-view, and take a bubble bath. you deserve it! treating yourself is a vital part of spending valentine’s day solo. Don’t be afraid to indulge yourself, no one’s judging you.

Find happiness regardless of your relationship status. You don’t have to be co-dependent on a significant other, losing your independence is hardly romantic. Take the day to fall in love with yourself.

Think of all the money you’re saving spending valentine’s day alone! Being single comes with it’s perks and one of those would be not spending money on your boyfriend/girlfriend. Save your money for the half priced candy sale the day after Valentines.

Try to stay off social media. Avoid the cute couple pictures, they tend to multiply on Valentine’s day and honestly we don’t care about all of the gifts your significant other bought you. We know you love each other you post long in depth paragraphs about it every week, you can take a week off.

Google funny Valentines day cards! you deserve a good laugh and your friends deserve a valentine’s day card of Paula Deen on a stick of unsalted butter reading “you BUTTER be my valentines.”

Although flying solo on Valentine’s day, isn’t ideal for everyone, it doesn’t have to be entirely bad! Take the day to focus on your friends, family, and yourself. Being single is an opportunity to live life on your own terms and not apologize for any of it. Don’t let searching for a significant other consume you, this is your time to find yourself and be independent. Focus on the things that matter the most to you and wait to give your heart to someone deserving. i will you see you on the half priced candy aisle, February 15th.

The advantages and disadvantages of completing college

Be prepared for the good and the bad of everything within your college career. The most common goal that all college students share is we are all here to complete college, and build our futures with great careers. Good luck to everyone on their journey to successfully completing college.

Completing college is not only an educational achievement, but it should also be seen as a great personal achievement. There are real challenges that we run into that sometimes make us want to quit, but if you prepare yourself and learn how to adapt to changes, you will reap reward at the finish line. I want to pinpoint some advantages and disadvantages that you may encounter throughout your journey to earning your college degree.

Let’s begin with recognizing some of the disadvantages that can possibly hinder us. Some of the most common disadvantages begin with ourselves. Without Self- Discipline, you will be destroyed, and sometimes there is no coming back when you can’t control yourself. Time-Management is the most important essential for success, and if you waste it, you will catch yourself knocking on the door of failure. Lack of Persistence will make you slack, and it is complicated trying to catch up and bounce back. Procrastination keeps you from being punctual, and can hinder your performance in and outside the classroom. Competitive admission of some degree plans have deadlines and GPA requirements, and procrastination with your homework and time- management can cause you to be denied and left behind in your desired degree program.

Paying for college is at the top of stress level charts for most students. Working with financial aid can bring challenges of the misunderstandings of how loans work, keeping up with deadlines, and signing on dotted lines that are not fully explained or understood. Going to college today is an expensive proposition. Students who borrow to finance their educations are finding it increasingly harder to repay those borrowings.

None of us can deny we don’t fall short of some type of disadvantage that makes our journey a little tough, but the bright side of it falls within the advantages that come with completing college. Fighting through some of the disadvantages discussed can reward us with some of the good that can come out of completing college.

There are many available enrichment resources that a lot of students don’t know about. Such as free tutoring, free printing (in limited locations), scholarship programs, and even free meals! Make sure to stay in tune of what’s going on around campus that can benefit you. There are no guarantees in life, with or without a college degree, but the odds are increasingly stacked against those with the least education and training. In the article, “Breaking Down The Value Of Your College Degree,” Robert Barone, suggested that college-educated adults are healthier than other people in the United States. To sum it up, education influences healthy lifestyles.

Through your journey to completing college, be mindful to take the good with the bad. Few words of encouragement – don’t give up, stay focused, recognize and learn from mistakes, and always try to stay positive.

To those who are fighting through, the best of luck to all of you on your way to achieving great success in earning your college degree. I chose to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of completing college because I am learning to adapt to the changes in my personal life so I can conquer my desired career success. If we recognize and embrace things that can help us achieve our goals, we can lighten the load by applying what we’ve learned to guide us through to the end.

To leave you with an encouraging message quoted by Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Not all it is cracked up to be

After waiting 18 years to be of legal age to vote, I finally got to do so Tuesday Nov. 8. Ironically my 18 birthday fell on an election year. I waited to vote the day of the election and the polling place in my hometown was not in its usual place. Given White Oak was a small town, I still had to endure the stressful hunt to find our designated polling place, which had been moved to the back building at a local Church.

As I entered the polling room frustrated and unamused, I made my way to the three women checking in voters at the front desk. “Oh, is it your first time voting?” they chimed with an optimistic grin. I told them it was my first time and they seemed overly enthusiastic to share this lovely experience with me! They instructed me that the ballot machines were not touch screen, which was helpful because I probably would’ve stood there tapping the screen and disturbing the other voters with the claims that my machine was “broken.”

While selecting my vote for the presidential candidate I remembered my life-long dream as a child was to be the first woman president. I was going to hire a painting staff to paint the White House green. (disclaimer: I’m a different person now, I would vouch for black.) My Secret Service detail was going to drive matching green Volkswagen Beetles to ensure my safety. The lawn of the White House was going to be converted into a petting zoo and Disney Channel would play Lizzie McGuire on a continuous loop.

In my 8 year old mind, that seemed like the logical way to maintain a peaceful country and keep my people out of harm’s way. Plus I’m sure Hilary Duff would thank me for
the massive increase in her paycheck. Here I am, 10 years later with a much better understanding of politics, casting my vote for the candidate I thought was best suited to run the United States of America. I grabbed the “I voted today,” sticker and made my way out of the polling room. My first voting experience wasn’t everything I dreamt it would be.

Think before you party

Scouring through Snapchat, I shake my head. I hate to say it, but I am being extremely judgmental.

In high school, the class below me was filled with many athletically-talented girls. When they graduated, many of them received full ride scholarships to colleges both in and out of state in softball, basketball and volleyball.

The semester finally begins and the stories on my Snapchat are flooded with these same girls drinking, dancing and using drugs the night before a game or tournament. I always thought to myself that if I did all of the partying they did the night before, you better believe I wouldn’t be playing that game. This is also one of the various reasons why I do not play sports, besides being extremely out of shape and a tad bit lazy.

My point is, these athletes are being paid by the school to come play sports for them. In my opinion, going out and almost destroying your body while participating in an activity that requires your body to be in its best shape defeats the purpose of attendance. It’s just like slapping your coach in the face and saying, “I obviously don’t want to be in my peak physical shape, so I’m just going to halfway play for you even though you’re the reason I am able to attend this school.”

Okay, it isn’t that extreme, but that is what it looks like to me.

From what I have seen, this happens at every single school, including high school. I have seen football players out at pasture parties smoking cigarettes and being nearly black-out drunk. You could argue that your actions outside of school should not matter to the school, but if you are a prominent figure for the school, you are being looked at by other students as an example. Being on any sports team puts you in a leadership position in the school, no matter what position you are on the team.

Also, this doesn’t have to be reserved to men and women who have sports scholarships, but also academic scholarships. If you do not take care of yourself and dedicate yourself to your academics, then why are you even allowed to have that scholarship in the first place? Yes, I realize your scholarship can be taken away if your coach or academic adviser catches you in the act of doing these things, but it still seems to be an issue. There are drug tests and there are laws against underage drinking, but the law always seems to be broken when it comes to drinking and there are ways of getting around passing a drug test.

Just remember why you are in the place you are at in your life. If you are on a sports or academic scholarship, be appreciative and give your all. Never be the weak link on your team by not treating yourself the best you can.

Extreme birthday plans

It’s your 21st birthday; there are other things to do besides get sloppy drunk or go clubbing all night long. 21st birthdays shouldn’t always just be about drinking until you pass out and having random dudes grind on you while you are trying to enjoy the party, so I switched it up.
Friday, Sep. 16 was my 21st birthday and I had the opportunity to enjoy a great day of school, followed by a basketball scrimmage against my teammates and so much more. A free pedicure up to $30, free Bundt cake from my hometown, a lovely dinner with my teammates at Applebee’s and laser tag in Longview to wrap up my day. The real fun occurred the following weekend as I rang in my 21st birthday.
Extreme, extreme, extreme! I took the extreme part of life and put it to action to celebrate my 21st birthday. However before I could get extreme, I enjoyed a lovely birthday dinner in Tyler at FD’s Grill House followed by a game of bowling. After a calm family oriented dinner and a fun game of bowling I headed out for Dallas.
Zero Gravity Thrill Zone Amusement Park in Dallas is optimal for true adrenaline junkies. I first decided to take part in the “Nothin’ But Net” attraction which consisted of being dropped 130 feet in the air, 130 feet! Imagine being up so high in the air you can see clear over a large area, feeling as if you were looking down from an air plane’s view, which turned my family waiting on the precious ground into ants. As I screamed “I’m 21!” I was dropped into a giant net which in turn lowered me to the safely to earth. Following the 130-foot drop, “Texas Blast Off” was up next.
Texas Blast Off consisted of being launched into the air by bungee ropes, making the speed go from zero to 60 miles per hour within a half a second. In comparison, as you were launched about 80-100 feet into the air you were flipped upside down and side to side while trying to enjoy the thrill of the ride. Let’s just say I’m glad I survived to cross that off my bucket list; but, to go a second time, I would need to reconsider.
To wrap up my day of extreme events I attended Dave and Busters for great food and games. Although I wouldn’t consider Dave and Busters extreme, it can definitely get competitive! Of course there was plenty of drinking going on around me that I very much could have took part in as most of the crowd watched their favorite college football team play on the big screen. Since I drove up to Dallas, drinking and driving would have not been approved by my parents or to myself; however, with the excitement of the long day of thrill and excitement I still had one more day to celebrate my 21st birthday the responsible way.
Sunday morning, Sep. 25, I was able to enjoy a great sermon by a guest speaker at my hometown church, Universal Heights Church of Christ, then off to the casino I went.
Shreveport, Louisiana was my next destination as we headed down I-20 toward the Margaritaville Casino. After being checked by security, we broke our big bills down and headed for the cheapest slot to start off our gambling. As I approached the first one-cent slot, inserted my dollar and pulled the lever, my heart dropped to my gut. Instantly the machine landed on three blue diamond’s back to back to back and I needed just two more blue diamonds to win an easy $4,000 on just my first try. My first try! Unfortunately, I did not win nearly as close to $4,000 that day, but I did break even, spending twenty dollars and winning back a total of ten dollars and one penny. I wasn’t quite as lucky as I thought I was, but hey, I know I’ll have better luck next time.
Hey 18, 19, and 20-year-olds that will soon be 21, not saying you shouldn’t drink and party, or you will die, just spice it up a little, do something adventurous that you will always remember because you only turn 21 once.

Gravel Graveyard

By: Shelbi Crews

I woke up Monday morning by the piercing sound of my 5:30 alarm, lethargically preparing myself to tackle the monster that is the Kilgore College student parking lot. You would be surprised how living a grand total of 25 minutes away can affect your chances of finding a parking spot before your 8:00 class!
I pulled up to the gravel graveyard around 7:45, to find that it was already full. This was merely the beginning of my epic search for a parking spot. I wasn’t taking this hunt lightly. I was determined and hungry for a parking spot.
The next ten minutes of my life felt like three hours. I faced three of my toughest contenders: pedestrians who seemed to have misplaced their sense of urgency, pedestrians who seemed unable to locate the cross walk, and the ever so talented parallel parkers. I located a parking spot around 7:50, which presented me with an early morning hike to my English class. I don’t mind the walk, but being rushed is my ultimate pet peeve. I’ve always been a very timely person but Kilgore College parking lot was ruining that image.
I immediately took built up rage that my parking spot hunt graciously gifted me to my best friends, Kaylee and Ashley. Kaylee and Ashley also living 25 minutes away felt very strongly about the parking situation too. We feel as if the parking lot at Kilgore College adds unwanted stress, safety hazards, and a flawed student to parking spot ratio
I notice an abundance of open staff parking spots every day but the thought of seeing a parking ticket on my windshield strikes fear into my very core. The risk is almost worth making it to your class on time. The parking lot at Kilgore College is the ideal hang out spot for all of your collected tardies and your sanity. It is the place where bumpers are scraped, doors are dinged, and everyone becomes a NASCAR driver. Don’t bother taking the extra time to look presentable. After your early morning parking lot hike in the East Texas humidity none of us will notice. It is every man for himself in the battle of finding a parking spot.

Urine Trouble

UrineOver the past couple of years, the usage of synthetic urine to past drug testing has become a trend. “Synthetic urine is known in the drug testing industry for falsifying drug test,” says Justin Kyle, master trainer of drug and alcohol compliance services. As a former athlete I know how this could become an issue in sports. It isn’t a big secret that there are some athletes that use drugs, but majority of them don’t have the chance to get away with it.  Now that it is easy to access and legal to sale it opens a door for the irresponsible athletes to continue to do drugs and not get punished for it. A fake urine kit can be bought under $100 and can even be found in gas stations. If athletes catch hold of this trend, it will take the integrity of the game. Playing sports is a privilege and opportunity that should not be abused or taken for granted yet there are some that are not willing to give up the fast life; the rise of fake urine reason gives them an even bigger reason not to.

The good news is that new lab technologies are able to track samples that have been tampered with. According to “The Weed Blog” new lab test measures the “specific gravity, pH, creatinine levels, and temperature are determining positive and negative results.”

The problem that the drug screeners face is that it is difficult for them to detect when someone is using a high quality synthetic urine sample. Another problem they face is that although some screening places have someone to stand in the room while people pee, it is a violation of privacy for the screeners to watch anyone urinate unless they have permission from the person being tested. Some ways to prevent people getting away with the fake samples are require them to wear robes. Having patients do so makes it harder for them to smuggle fake urine, but the major way to eliminate these hiccups is to ban the legal use of synthetic urine nationwide. That is what Justin Kyle is aiming for. Kyle is leading a petition to get rid of the use of synthetic urine. “I have personally caught and stopped 45 donors,” said Kyle. “We have gone to unknown territory and this problem is deadly not only to our industry but many other industries,” says Kyle. He needs at least 1,000 signatures to make it illegal, so far he has 100.

If you would be interested in supporting the effort you can go to https:// and sign the petition.









Bring home a new best friend, adopt a pet today

During my angsty, hormone induced, middle school life I was never really a dog person. They were too loud, smelled bad and got spit everywhere; that really was not my thing. The dark and macabre is what fueled me and I leaned more toward the nonchalant attitude of a cat. While I still love cats, I grew out of being dreadful and eventually grew to love dogs. (I think it all started with the internet sensation, “Doug the Pug.”) While my love of furry animals grew, I also became aware of the situations many animals have to live in and go through.

Quite recently I adopted a dog from the shelter; a poodle named Snickers. He is the most loving and caring dog, and I could not imagine why he was in such a place. Turns out his owner had passed away and he was handed around family member to family member, eventually being sent to doggy prison.

This is not always the case though; many dogs are abused, over-bred and treated inhumanely before coming to a shelter. That is why I believe instead of buying a puppy for $400, you should adopt a pet from the shelter. Now, I have nothing against puppies, but why would you create another life by breeding an animal and not rescue a life that desperately needs your help? Maybe you look the other way because an animal is old or has a noticeable injury? Older dogs have already developed a personality and will be predictable. You never know if a puppy is going to turn out to be too high strung for you or super destructive. Yes, I realize that puppies are naturally inclined to be this way, but guess what? Older dogs usually are not. If a dog happens to have a noticeable injury such as a missing eye or leg, that gives them more character and personality. They are not broken or gross. It would be just like a human with the same case, and no matter what, they still deserve love.

All of the little puff balls in their cages want to give and receive love, and they should not be denied that. Unfortunately, because of the lack of adoption and the amount of animals that go through the shelter system, many have to be euthanized. Shelters and rescues try extremely hard to clear the shelter by holding adoption events and advertising as much as they can, but this does not always work. I encourage everyone looking for an animal to adopt. Look around local shelters and make some calls. Rescue an animal that needs your help and will love you forever. Even if you are not looking to add a lovely new family member to your home, donate your time, money or supplies to your local shelter or humane society. They need all the help they can get. Also remember, like Bob Barker always said, “Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered.”

Throwback Thursdays: Celebrating love at Texas Frightmare Weekend

May 1, 2015 was the best day of my life. I realized it after the initial emotional shock wore off, and I will never forget the date as long as I live.

Myself, my boyfriend Bryan and my sister Kelly were taking our annual trip to the Texas Frightmare Weekend convention in Dallas, where horror icons and fans congregate every year to celebrate love of the fandom.

On Friday night, a “Phantasm Ball,” a party with the theme of the 1979 cult film “Phantasm” was held. Hundreds of people attended. There were drinks, food and even a photo op with a replica of the killer silver flying ball from the movie.


Bryan and I take a photo with the killer ball from “Phantasm.” Photo by Bryan Patti.

All of us were having a great time on the dance floor, but Bryan kept looking nervous and was getting distracted by his phone. I started to get upset.

“Are you okay?,” I asked. “Who do you keep texting?”

He quickly said he was telling his sister how the party was going. I thought it was a bit odd, but nothing to worry myself over.

Then, the MC stopped the music. “Ok, everyone,” he said, “there’s a guy here who’d like to propose to his girlfriend.” Bryan headed toward the stage.

“NO, NO, NO,” I initially thought, hating being the center of attention in a situation I could not control. I tried to stay as calm as I could muster.

I was in so much shock, I don’t remember what Bryan specifically said to me as he knelt down on one knee. All I know is he proposed and I said yes.


Bryan and I celebrate our engagement at the Texas Frightmare Weekend convention. Photo by Kelly Agee.

I do remember feeling a sense of numbness. Bryan and I had been together almost five years and the convention was a meaningful place to us both, so the proposal was not totally unexpected.

Still, I didn’t know how to deal with the conflicting range of strong emotions inside me. I quickly and discreetly snuck out to collect myself.

Sitting on a bench outside, I cried. I didn’t feel worthy of being engaged and felt lots of pressure. At the same time, I was excited a new phase of my life was starting.

Bryan and Kelly came out and consoled me. Kelly knew I was mainly upset because of my hate of being the center of attention. Bryan understood this was a big step in our lives, and held me to calm me down. WE eventually mae ou way back to the party, and had an amazing night.


Bryan and I show off my engagement ring in front of the Phantasm Ball poster. Photo by Bryan Patti.

Now, almost a year later, Bryan and I are still engaged. Not much else in our life has changed, but now I look more forward to Texas Frightmare Weekend this year than ever because of the special place it holds now in my heart.