My Childhood Sanctuary

My Childhood Sanctuary

An homage to my grandparents' little farm where I became me
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What is the most important place in the world to you? That's a very loaded question. It's not an easy answer, and I honestly don't think I can narrow it down to one place. I've been influenced and changed and developed through so many experiences in so many places, I don't believe I could pinpoint one that was the most important.

Still, I was asked that very question as a free-writing prompt. I was given fifteen minutes to write about one of my favorite places, specifically one from my childhood. Forcing yourself to write non-stop for fifteen minutes with such a broad topic is daunting, and when I set my pen to the page, I didn't know where to begin. So I logically began with some of my earliest memories and some of my most dear adventures, and I found myself describing my grandparents' old farm. It belonged to my mothers' parents, the only set of grandparents that were still alive while I was growing up. They have both passed now, and I miss them dearly, but those acres of land and the little white house are still there. The following is a slightly edited version of the results of my free-write, which I hope paints a picture of just how important that little farm was to me.


The house was built in 1901 and had changed little since. Yellow, green carpet and linoleum, which has been torn up and duct taped back in place, filled the house. The ceilings were low, sagging in the middle with the weight of years gone by. The light came from lamps or a single bare light bulb with a chain, hanging in the ceiling. The kitchen had a stove that needed wood to stay hot and a sink the color of rust at the bottom. The attic, where I always slept, creaked with every step. Notched wooden floors and sky blue walls created my hideaway, where the sharp scent of moth balls and must was almost comforting in its familiarity. When it rained, the tin roof sang.

The forest, over a hundred acres of it, was my sanctuary. I spent endless hours exploring, escaping to fantasy lands. Skylar, the white fluff ball of a dog that my grandparents fed but didn’t strictly own, kept me safe. She was friends with the deer and could often be spotted along side them through the trees. But if I was out exploring, she was by my side. With her, I discovered a small cave hidden in the side of the mountain and nearly covered by mossy rocks. She showed me the secret deer path to the waterfall in the valley, and together we discovered the graveyard of cars and farm machinery my grandfather owned and abandoned. Trees grew through steering wheels and old car seats and plows, only the rusty, bent wire framing left.

The gravel drive wound past the old shed with a thousand empty bottles and crates and a teal blue stove on the porch. The way was lined with cherry and apple trees, which deposited fruit on the gravel during their seasons. The trucks, which were parked beside the drive, were homes to mice and spiders and saplings taking root in their beds. One apple tree in particular, farther back from the road, was my pirate ship. I spent countless hours climbing it and sitting in the crook of the branches, watching a completely different world pass by.

At night, after dinner, we would sit on the back porch swing and listen to the cicadas chirping. A dog was always barking somewhere over the mountain and occasionally, a yell would be heard from the run-down trailers across the road.

It was a place where the real world faded behind the simple pleasures of monotony and tranquility. It was a place where old and worn and rusting meant well loved. It was a place where a little girl could be free.

Cover Image Credit: Anna Smith

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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My AP Environmental Science Class' Cookie Mining Experiment Shows Why Capitalism Is Destroying The Planet

Who cares about the environment with profits this high?

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With the AP exams in May approaching quickly, my AP Environmental Science class has wasted no time in jumping right into labs. To demonstrate the damage to the environment done by strip mining, we were instructed to remove the chocolate chips from cookies.

The experiment in itself was rather simple. We profited from fully or partially extracted chips ($8 for a full piece and $4 for a partial) and lost from buying tools, using time and area and incurring fines.

This might seem simplistic, but it showcased the nature of disastrous fossil fuel companies.

We were fined a $1 per minute we spent mining. It cost $4 per tool we bought (either tweezers or paper clips) and 50 cents for every square centimeter of cookie we mined.

Despite the seemingly overbearing charges compared to the sole way to profit, it was actually really easy to profit.

If we found even a partial chocolate chip per minute, that's $3 profit or utilization elsewhere. Tools were an investment that could be made up each with a partial chip, and clearly we were able to find much, much more than just one partial chip per tool.

Perhaps the most disproportionally easiest thing to get around were the fines. We were liable to be fined for habitat destruction, dangerous mining conditions with faulty tools, clutter, mess and noise level. No one in the class got fined for noise level nor faulty tools, but we got hit with habitat destruction and clutter, both of which added up to a mere $6.

We managed to avoid higher fines by deceiving our teacher by pushing together the broken cookie landscapes and swiping away the majority of our mess before being examined for fining purposes. This was amidst all of our cookies being broken into at least three portions.

After finding many, many chips, despite the costs of mining, we profited over $100. We earned a Franklin for destroying our sugary environment.

We weren't even the worst group.

It was kind of funny the situations other groups simulated to their cookies. We were meant to represent strip mining, but one group decided to represent mountaintop removal. Mountaintop removal is where companies go to extract resources from the tops of mountains via explosions to literally blow the tops off. This group did this by literally pulverizing their cookies to bits and pieces with their fists.

They incurred the maximum fine of $45. They didn't profit $100, however.

They profited over $500 dollars.

In the context of our environmental science class, these situations were anywhere from funny to satisfying. In the context of the real world, however, the consequences are devastating our environment.

Without even mentioning the current trajectory we're on approaching a near irreversible global temperature increase even if we took drastic measures this moment, mining and fracking is literally destroying ecosystems.



We think of earthquakes as creating mass amounts of sudden movement and unholy deep trenches as they fracture our crust. With dangerous mining habits, we do this ourselves.

Bigger companies not even related to mining end up destroying the planet and even hundreds of thousands of lives. ExxonMobil, BP? Still thriving in business after serial oil spills over the course of their operation. Purdue Pharma, the company who has misled the medical community for decades about the effects of OxyContin and its potential for abuse, is still running and ruining multitudes more lives every single day.

Did these companies receive fines? Yes.

But their business model is too profitable to make the fines have just about any effect upon their operation.

In our cookie mining simulation, we found that completely obliterating the landscape was much more profitable than being careful and walking on eggshells around the laws. Large, too-big-to-fail companies have held the future of our planet in their greedy paws and have likewise pulverized our environment, soon enough to be unable to return from.

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