My Life With Country Music: How I chose it for myself

My Life With Country Music

I've spent a lifetime with country music, listening to it, singing it, loving it. For me, it's become an almost way of life, and it holds a special place in my heart.


People always look at me with skepticism when I first tell them I like country music. I'm a bespectacled nerd who comes from California and has no trace of a Southern accent. I seem to like the antithesis of what country music stands for - beer, trucks, rough Southern living. And in a way, yes, I am not your typical country music fan. I'm definitely not the audience that country artists envision when they make their music. Yet, I cannot bear to let go of my first true love, the music that defines America.

Interestingly enough, my parents were the first to expose me to country music. Some of my earliest memories are that of myself riding around on my pink tricycle in the backyard of our New Jersey home, listening to Hank's twangy voice at our family barbecues. It was a family tradition - pun intended - to listen to country music at our outdoor events. It wasn't something I questioned, being a child; I simply embraced it and loved it as part of myself. After relocating to California at the tender age of 9 years old, I lost touch with what little country roots I had. My music devolved into listening to renditions of Suzuki violin school (being a violinist needing to learn her pieces) and the occasional 80's or pop songs that my mom and I would listen to on the radio on the way to and from school. The country music of my childhood faded into the deepest part of my memories, until sophomore year of high school. A friend of mine from Chemistry told me to try out Spotify on my phone, as I'd never heard of the service before then (using only Pandora) and enthusing eagerly about the diverse and various amounts of music available. Interestingly enough, I was excited to listen to Ed Sheeran on it, as I recall, replaying 'Thinking Out Loud' and 'The A Team' over and over as much as Spotify would allow.

A few weeks after discovering Spotify however, my whole life would change. I had been having some personal problems at the time and was missing the simplicity of my childhood when I suddenly realized that it had been far too long since I'd heard Hank. I pulled up my shiny new Spotify account and started listening to his oh-so-familiar voice, and I was instantly hooked. I listened eagerly to almost all his music, and through Spotify recommended discovered Alan Jackson, and then Zac Brown Band. Shortly afterward, I ended up relocating to Virginia (which is a much better spot for the country music lover than California, in my opinion).

From there, my love of country music absolutely took off. I went to a Hank concert, my first concert ever, in Virginia Beach. A few months later, I saw Zac Brown in concert. In Virginia, I discovered a litany of other amazing artists: Willie Nelson, Jason Aldean, Josh Turner (please listen to his rendition of "He Stopped Loving Her Today"), Chris Young, Randy Houser, George Strait, to name only a few. Most recently, I've been fixated on Luke Combs and will be seeing him in concert twice this year ("She Got the Best of Me" is incredible and "This One's For You Too" should've won album of the year). I basically only listen to country music now.

I know a lot of people dislike country music and are probably wondering why I love it so much. My love of country music has a lot of dimensions. Firstly, it's gotten me through difficult times. "Warm in Dallas" by Hank Jr. got me through the toughest cross-country move of my life; Luke Combs sang his way through my college admissions process; Zac Brown chinned me up and kept me awake on tough nights of work and homework; Alan Jackson's "Where I Come From" wakes me up every morning as my alarm. Besides being a crutch to help me stand, I love the message behind much of it. Sure, a lot of it is beer and trucks and whatnot, but a lot of the music is about simplicity. It's about being proud of who you are, where you come from, treasuring what you have and knowing that you can make it through anything. Off the top of my head, Zac Brown Band's "Roots," Chris Young's "Voices," Luke Combs' "Be Careful What You Wish For" and Alan Jackson's "You Can Always Come Home" are all songs with incredibly positive messages.

I'll be the first to admit there's some god-awful country music, especially in more modern circles, but when country music is good, it's amazing. I will happily allow people to laugh at me as long as I get my hit of country music - because, at the end of the day, I ain't country because people tell me so, I'm country because I choose to be.

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9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.

Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.

2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.

4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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