Finding Light In The Black Hole Of 2016

Finding Light In The Black Hole Of 2016

Let's take away the good parts of 2016 in preparation for next year.
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I know that it's hard to think any good came out of 2016. Collectively, it might be the worst year in the world since 1968. However, I'll try and find things that were good in 2016, as strange as that may seem. Here's my attempt at optimism:

Music: Anyone who has read my articles over this year knows that I've been following pop music very closely. One of my first articles talked about Drake taking the top spot with the help of some genius examples (with artists Wizkid and Kyla featured and which I've previously neglected to mention; I regret the error). However, despite the string of less-than-perfect chart-toppers from new faces for several months (not counting Justin Timberlake's brief interruption of Drake's reign and Sean Paul being featured on Sia's summit), the end of the year finishes strong with Rae Srummerd (feat. Gucci Mane) and their insanely seductive mega-hit. Apart from these, we've had some notable peaks: a band from Denmark scoring a tried-and-true hit which could be reasonably called "adult contemporary" in an age where such ballads are on life support in today's Top 40; Rihanna coming back with an album that not only produced more hits to her roster, but also boasted one hell of a compelling cover (here's the original); and performers like Alessia Cara transforming from one-hit wonders into serious pop stars. Sure, there were awful songs (I never want to hear this godawful breakout hit ever again), but the pop scene this year wasn't all bad.

Lightning striking twice: As far as movies go, we've had some excellent blockbusters as well as some that didn't live up to their potential. However, Disney pulled off the unimaginable: not only did they release two animated films in the same year (a rarity for them), but they were both quite good! Earlier in the year, they released the flawed but still generally worthwhile Zootopia, and while its execution of its allegories about racism and multiculturalism wasn't perfect, the overall message was effective when it was released in the heady days of the primaries but is even more relevant now that Donald Trump is President. Last month, Disney upped its ante with Moana, another worthy addition to their Disney Princess canon. While it still has the conventional tropes of such a Disney film (such as an obstinate father), the lack of a love interest and other aspects make this film a good step forward. The studio isn't releasing any stand-alone features next year (though there will be two Pixar films slated), so we'll have to wait until 2018 to see if we get dazzled again.

The purge of the Clintons: Anyone who's read my material knew this was coming. I'm so thankful that we've finally ended the insanity of Bill and Hillary shamelessly occupying the center of the American political universe. Of course, it had to be done with the worst possible outcome, but their being jettisoned was necessary if the Democrats have any chance of surviving in the next few years. I guess they did provide some good: they gave the Democrats the White House again (but at a horrifying cost); and they eventually played some part in giving us Barack Obama, which is something that can never be erased. But I'm not alone (as I've shared before) in finding relief that the Clintons have exited and it doesn't look like they'll be back anytime soon. Bill and Hillary, whatever you did to give us Barack Obama as President, we owe some gratitude. Otherwise, thanks for nothing. Actually, worse than nothing, since the Republicans now have President Trump, Congress, and the most power in the states in decades. Good riddance. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

A renewed sense of urgency: It seems hopeless, what with Donald Trump as President and such, including the fact that Trump now wants to escalate our nuclear capacity (though to be fair, Obama did give the thumbs up to spend 1 trillion dollars on our nuclear arsenal already). So what do we do? We fight. Since Hillary Clinton lost, thousands of women have been compelled to get politically involved. Protests have already taken place. Even right now, there are things happening that still provide hope.

One more thing: Hillary Clinton's loss should be the wake-up call that everyone who even considers themselves part of the Left needs. Unfortunately, liberals aren't doing that. If anything, they and Democrats are entrenching themselves into evermore insufferable contortions (though they're far from alone with that example). They likely want to crow to the heavens that Hillary won the popular vote now by almost 3 million votes. They must stop immediately. Not only does doing so allow them to continue to not let go of Hillary, but it gives them just enough caveat room to convince themselves that they don't need to do anything different (and we've seen some of that already). Besides, Hillary doesn't deserve that kind of validation: need I remind you, there's no guarantee that she would've been our ally and friend on issues ranging from Social Security to the Dakota Access Pipeline. If we want the future we yearn for, we have to create it ourselves. It shouldn't have required Donald Trump to do that, but here we are. Let's make the most of what we have.

At this point, 2016 deserves to be sent off in a way that combines John Oliver with The Simpsons. But let's hold onto what small amount of good we have to make 2017 and beyond much better years. At this point, the only people who will make our world a better place is ourselves.

Cover Image Credit: Shuttershock/University of Cambridge/inhabitat.com

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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My First College Gal Pal Road Trip Was Amazing

Every girl should have one good girls trip.

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In some way or another, everybody has a list of things they want to do in their lives before it's all over. After all, we're human. There's adventure to be had in every life. One thing I have always wanted to do before I grew too old and grey was go on a road trip with my gal pals to the beach. A couple weeks ago, I achieved this memorable milestone, and it allowed me to open up to new surroundings and experiences.

On this trip, I went with two of my friends from college, Kait and Lindsey, to visit my roommate Elizabeth in Virginia Beach. This was pretty big for Lindsey and I because neither of us had been to Virginia Beach before. Thankfully Elizabeth and Kait knew their way around the city, so we never got lost on our way to and fro.

Like most vacations, my favorite parts probably took place at the beach. I'm always at utter peace stomping through mushy sand or leaning down to splash the salty water that tries to knock my short self over. We took pictures and did something us college girls rarely have time to do especially in school: Relax.

The four of us did not live up to the crazed stereotype of girl trips in movies. Although I finally got a chance to sing along to Taylor Swift in a car ride with my friends, so that's always a plus. We played "Top Golf" one day, and by some miracle, I actually won the second game by a fair amount after much humiliation in the first one. We visited some of Elizabeth's family, and I finally got to meet her giant dog Apollo (I call him 'Wolf Dog'). Everyday was another chance to ask with enthusiasm: "So what are we doing today?"

Our trip wasn't like the movies where we all cried or confessed our deepest darkest secrets. Everything the four of us shared was laughter and this calm feeling of being at home, in the chaotic peace of each other's company. We understand each other a little better due to finally seeing what we're like outside of Longwood University. After this, all I can say is that we're most definitely planning the next one!

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