Emma Lives A Little

Episode 3: Bathroom Shocks, Rocks, and Vinotok

So far, things have been going smoothly here at Western. At least, they were until I received an email from my RD who revealed that there have been two instances of people pooping in the Ute Second Floor showers. AKA, the showers that I use.He warned us of the Hepatitis B, Syphilis, and Malaria that can accompany shower poop and asked the pooper to come forward to get some help. So of course, people on my floor freaked out. People made signs, begging the pooper to stop pooping, and my roommate and I compulsively check the shower stalls every time we set foot in the bathroom. At this point, I almost miss the early morning fire drills we had to deal with at the beginning of the year. However, I love a good mystery and it’s oddly exciting to enter the bathroom every day, wondering if the serial pooper has left her mark yet again. If the pooper is reading this, I can only ask that you relocate your defecation to the toilets. While your habits do provide a bit of excitement, I would really rather not contract Hep B.

In other news, just yesterday I went rock climbing at Hartman Rocks with Wilderness Pursuits. Yes, I, Emma, went rock climbing. To be fair, a Wilderness Pursuits trip was required by my paddleboarding class, but I have been interested in rock climbing and the dirtbag culture since I got here, so it was a win-win! My friend Hannah and I woke up early to have breakfast with our rock climbing group which included an instructor that looked like an Elvin woodland prince, and then we hit the road. After a bumpy ride through the notoriously sketchy roads at Harman’s, we arrived at a rock face the instructors called The Slab. We all laced up our weird rental climbing shoes and clambered over slippery gravel to the climbs that had been set up for us. Intimidated as I was, (climbing a literal rock face is a lot different than climbing a wall at the gym), Hannah and I took our limited knowledge of 8 knots and belet-ing and and prepared to climb. After we were harnessed and briefed on some climbing lingo, I began my ascent. One of my biggest problems has always been that I worry so much that I get in the way of myself. So, I shoved aside each fear that wiggled into the back of my mind as I gripped small ridges and dug my feet into crevices. As I climbed, I anchored my fingers on a small ridge with a single tiny flower growing out of it and as I looked up, the sun poked out from behind the clouds. Not to sound cheesy, but it was one of those moments where it became clear to me that I belong here.

Image may contain: mountain, sky, nature and outdoor

After a few hours, we took a break for lunch provided by the oh-so-attractive climbing guides and wolfed it down just before it began to rain. We tried to wait out the storm for about half an hour in our van, but it was clear that climbing at that point would be dangerous. So, we headed back to school and spent the next hour or so climbing the massive wall in our gym.

Later that day, my friends and I decided to drive up to Gothic for some fall photos, which was nice since I would be missing mine with my family. The drive from Western took about an hour and as we went, we saw what appeared to be small flakes of snow every once in a while. The fall colors were absolutely gorgeous and it was fun to try to avoid the massive cow patties as we struggled to pose for photos. On our way back from Gothic, we decided to stop by Vinotok. For those of you who don’t know, Vinotok is a storytelling and harvest festival with Pagan roots that takes place in Crested Butte every year. At this festival, one of the biggest events is the trial and burning of The Grump, which represents the grievances of the past year. For more information, check out this video.

When we arrived, it was clear that we had missed the memo. Nearly everyone there was sporting flower crowns made of autumn leaves, deer antlers, furry coats, and other assorted costume-y outfits. We followed the massive crowd to a drum circle, where people were bouncing and writhing and yelling to the beat. It was weird, yet oddly exhilarating.

Here’s a short video I took of the drum circle.  

After a while, it finally came time to try the Grump. My friends and I got as close as we could to the trial platform and waited for half an hour as we gradually got crushed closer and closer together. At last, fire dancers and drummers wove their way through the crowd and took their place on the platform, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. And then, torches appeared in the distance, surrounding a weird wooden sculpture, which I knew could only be the notorious Grump.

The trial featured many characters and subtexts that I didn’t really understand, but there was a lot of chanting for the Grump to be burned and so finally, he was declared guilty. The crowd followed the Grump through the main street of Crested Butte, chanting and singing about feeding the Grump to the flame all the way. At last the torches circled the Grump, and as the chanting intensified, it burst into flames. We watched the year’s grievances burn and left shortly after, though I know many people stayed til the wee hours of the night.

Here is a quick video I took of the Grump Burning. 

What a weird, wacky, and crazy fun weekend, much like the rest of my college experience! Stay tuned next week for my thoughts on Homecoming, including the notorious Burning of the W (apparently mountain people love to burn things), and the games I will be attending!

Emma Lives A Little

Episode 2: Jake the Snake

Week 2 at Western began at 7 AM, one hour after I was supposed to have woken up to get ready for my 8AM, when yet another fire alarm started going off in my dorm. So yet again, I shuffled out of my room in my pajamas, retainer still in my mouth, to join the horde of pajama-clad Ute Hall residents standing in the parking lot. Luckily enough, no one had tried to make popcorn so the drill passed quickly. I got ready for class in 15 minutes and arrived to Business only to realize that I had forgotten to brush my teeth. To the cute guy who sits next to me who tried to spark up a conversation that day, I just need to apologize for my stank breath. Sorry, Ben.

On Tuesday, the campus club fair drew me out of my dorm to check out this year’s offerings. I ended up giving my email to way too many clubs, but in the end I decided to join the Figure Skating club! Later that day, I started working as a circulation assistant at the campus library. My boss let me spend half of my shift using her universal key to unlock any door I could, I stumbled across the library’s archives, an employee break room full of coffee and snacks, and a secret door marked “Journals” that led to the basement of the library. Let me tell you, that place is creepy. While I crept through the dimly lit shelves of journals, I came across yet another unmarked door. When I opened it, my eyes could barely make out the dirt and rock that made up the literal foundation of the library, complete with extra shelves and books thrown about haphazardly. As I stared into the dusty cave room, a breeze from beyond caressed my cheek so yes, I did slam the door and run back upstairs only to have to greet a library patron as if I hadn’t just discovered the library’s own Chamber of Secrets. When I asked my boss about the room, she revealed that they had to start locking that door because students found it and used it to do the diddly. Weirdos.

The rest of the week passed without incident until Friday, the day that my friends and I had decided to go camping at Hartman Rocks. As we began loading up the cars, laughing about how we had no idea where we were going, a guy with a kayak in his arms appeared next to us and offered to lead us to the campsites at Hartman’s. Though we were wary of his Beetlejuice tee and random appearance in the parking lot, we agreed to follow him and his group of 8 friends to Hartman Rocks. So we got in our cars. And we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, the kayak guy came over and introduced himself as Jake, and said that his group would be leaving shortly. Then he paused, appraising my friend Heather’s car with a suspicious gaze.

“Do you have four wheel drive?” She shook her head, turning her Stevie Nicks CD down a notch.

“Well there’s space in my car, you ladies are more than welcome to ride up with me and we can all camp together.” Classic move. We politely declined, putting all our faith in Heather’s little car. Jake sulked off to his jeep and just minutes later, a caravan of three cars including Jake’s took off with no warning, leaving us in the dust. Thanks a lot, Jake. So we drove down the road and found the exit for Hartman Rocks on our own. We drove around for about an hour, bumping around on the dirt roads and scraping over cattle guards without seeing a single campsite. The sun was beginning to set and after turning around about three times, tensions were beginning to run high. Finally, we drove past a firepit in the midst of a field of sage. A campsite! We pulled in and began unloading Heather’s car, placing the tent near a small outcropping of trees. Then, our other friend Alexa pulled up only to find that she had blown one of her tires. So, in the midst of making a fire and putting up the tent, we also raced to put on her spare tire before the sun went down. As we worked, big trucks blaring country music zoomed by and the shooting range down the road began to pop and crackle with the sound of gunshots.

At last, the tent was standing, the spare tire had been put on, and the fire was roaring. The stars were beginning to come out and we began setting up our s’mores. I had at least four that night and I honestly regret nothing. I have never been the kind of person that will go out of their way to spend a night in the wilderness, but as my friends and I listened to music and swapped funny stories as the moon lit up the valley around us, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect evening.

Then, it came time to go to bed. We all set up the sleeping pads we had rented from school and burrowed into our blankets, preparing for the cold night ahead. One by one, my friends fell asleep until I was the only one awake. It was then that I began to hear what sounded like footsteps near our tent. Shortly after, something began lightly scratching the wall nearest my head. Of course, I pictured a combination of Jake and a rugged mountain man sitting in the trees, gently scratching our tent with a long stick. I pictured the news that would follow our imminent deaths: Five Girls Killed at Hartman’s by the Notorious Stick Scratcher. He would start by making us paranoid with the scratching noises and footsteps, and then he would strike. I fell in and out of sleep, awakening to the scratching sounds in between creepy dreams. At last, around 4:30, my other friend woke up and mentioned the sound, asking if I wanted to go outside and see what it was. Of course, I said no so she moved away from the wall and left me to face the scratching alone. With a burst of courage, I punched the wall, imagining that if I showed the Stick Scratcher I knew he was there, he would leave. Then, the scratching occurred all over the tent and I slept until sunrise in terror. In the morning, I opened my eyes to see the outline of a velcro strap we had forgotten to attach to the tent moving along the side, creating an eerily familiar scratching sound. Whoops.

The next day, we had a game night in the lounge downstairs, during which a drunken gay guy who had randomly shown up for Cards Against Humanity asked me to help him with his drag makeup. He claimed that he’ll snapchat me when he needs my skills, so whether he meant it or not, I’ll be waiting on the edge of my chair for his call.

In most recent news, yesterday after returning from a bike ride into town for an iced chai tea, I looked up from the bike rack to see a deer with huge antlers running through the quad in my direction. He stopped about fifty yards away and stared at me as I quietly called my roommate to ask her to let me into the building. As she opened the door, the deer ran away and I was safe from getting gored. Later, my roommate, my friend Hannah, and I rode the bus up to Crested Butte where we ate huge burritos made by a handsome, mustachio’d man. For dessert, we went down the street to a local donut shop where we ate six of the tiniest donuts I have ever seen. While I miss Krispi Kream, one of the best parts of living in the Gunnison/Crested Butte area is being exposed to local restaurants. So far on my list of must-eats?

  1. The Gunnisack
  2. Teocalli Tamale
  3. Niky’s Mini Donuts
  4. Ryce Asian Bistro

If you’re in town, stop by any of these places for a great meal and stay tuned for next week’s episode of Emma Lives A Little!

Emma Lives A Little: The Season Premiere

(Orientation, Classes, and Burnt Popcorn, Oh My)


We begin this season of Emma Lives A Little on Wednesday, August 15th: Move In Day. As we pulled up to my residence hall, I’ll admit it, my stomach turned into knots. It was strange to think that my daydreams of college life might actually become reality. However, as we began moving boxes and decorating my side of our little dorm room, my nerves began to dissipate. As my roommate and I started adding finishing touches, other girls in the hall began shyly peering in, remarking that they had been sent to look at “the cute room”. I was pleasantly surprised at the kind smiles and nods of our neighbors, feeling ready to meet new people and make new friends.

At last, after hours of moving,  we all shuffled off to hear the President of the school’s welcome speech and were promptly split up into our orientation groups for what would be a series of never ending ice breakers.

The next few days of orientation proved to be just as long as I thought they would  be, but also definitely more fun. True, I almost broke my arms after being the lone recipient of a giant beach ball in a particularly athletic ice breaker one night, but there was inappropriate trivia to be played, funny skits to be watched, Australian professors to meet, and library information sessions to attend. One of my favorite parts of orientation ended up being my orientation group’s service project, where we groomed a hiking trail near campus.

Picture this: I stand in a group of awkward freshmen, eyeing the one grooming tool left in the pile, an ax. My Australian professor’s accent flows through my ears, distracting me from the thought of the next three hours of physical labor I’ll have to endure. Gingerly, I grab the freshly sharpened weapon, following my professor and our trail guide to a particularly troublesome part of the trail. Our task? To ax away at sage and rocks encroaching on the trail and fill the low parts with dirt to improve the drainage. Certainly not my idea of a lit Saturday morning, but I had an ax and I figured I may as well use it. Maybe it’s my obsession with Dexter and his affinity for hacking things up, or maybe it was just the thrilling snap of the sage as I pulled it from the ground, but as I worked I began to seriously enjoy clearing the trail. After about an hour or so, to my ultimate joy and disbelief, the kids around me started singing Bohemian Rhapsody and it soon became a complete sing-a-long. At that moment, I couldn’t help but think that maybe I had found the perfect place for me.

The day before classes started, Western gave all students free Adventure Park and lift tickets at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, so a couple of friends and I took the bus up to the nearby town. There, we took the highest lift up and began climbing to the summit of Mount Crested Butte. College students, pikas, and disgusting flying ants abounded on the trail, and we made it to the summit after a quick mile and a half long hike.

I was rudely awoken from the dreamlike stupor of orientation on the first day of classes, where I got about an hour of homework in almost every class. Monday’s classes included Storytelling, Intro to Mass Media, Math for Liberal Arts (which isn’t even math so far, it’s argument analysis?), and Orchestra rehearsal in the evening. I was surprised to see that my orchestra director sat me in the first violin section as third chair, which is much higher than I had expected! To add to the newfound stress of the first day of school, the Mountaineer Men (who live in the basement of my residence hall) thought it would be a good idea to microwave their popcorn for four minutes so just as I was getting ready for bed, the fire alarm went off. My roommate and I scrambled out of our room in our pajamas, forgetting our keys in the process, and as soon as smoke had stopped trickling out of the basement, we realized we had gotten ourselves locked out. It was just our luck that the only RA in site was an attractive male and I was wearing my weirdest leggings and a purple star robe. On the bright side, we fell asleep quickly that night.

On Tuesday, my only class was The Business of Life. I sat by a girl from Gunnison who owns a herd of goats and my professor picked on random people throughout the room to answer questions about trends in the market and traits of good business leaders. To say the least, I was on the edge of my seat all morning. The rest of the week passed in about the same way aside from a stressful scheduling conflict and a work orientation: classes, homework, practice, listening to parties in the quad until I fell asleep, and starting all over again.

Finally, Saturday rolled around. This was the day of my paddleboarding adventure with my freshman seminar class: Outdoor Education and Leadership. Myself and half of my class took a shuttle down to a river about ten minutes from campus and were fitted with life vests and paddles. Then, my professor (the Australian, if you’ll remember), stood in front of the paddleboards and began a speech that made my blood run cold.

“All right my little cherubs, I just need to tell you a few things about this trip. If you fall off your board, don’t put your feet down, or you could drown. If you get stuck in a strainer, swim as hard as you can and don’t get caught under water, or you could drown. Blow your emergency whistle if you can, and someone will try to save you. If your board floats down the river without you, either hitch a ride with someone else, swim along behind us, or walk along the bank and catch up to us eventually. DO NOT get caught in a strainer if you can help it. Someone died very recently here getting caught in a strainer. Usually this stretch of river is okay, but it will be a surprising day if I don’t have to rescue someone. Last year someone went down the wrong river fork and got caught in a strainer. Ready to go? Grab a board and head down to the river.”

I wanted to turn around right then and there. I was not about to end my first week of college drowning in a strainer, whatever that was. However, I felt myself grabbing a board and suddenly, I was in the water, waiting for my professor to put his board in and lead us down the river. After a few minutes, we all started paddling, aiming our boards towards the small rapids Paul was leading us towards. I got down on my knees as soon as I saw the waves but others weren’t so lucky. All around me, I heard people running into the bushes along the bank of the river and falling into the water. One girl was sad to have her toenail polish ripped off by the rock she ran into. However, everyone recovered quickly enough to get back on before the next section of rapids, and I started to enjoy myself. I have always liked paddleboarding, but it’s so much more fun when a strong river current is pushing you past beautiful meadows and looming mountains, or when death by strainer is imminent. After a few close calls with overhanging trees and strong opposing currents, we made it to a calmer stretch of the river where we paddled for another hour to our bus. While we were loading our boards, I almost wished there was another river we could SUP down to campus. Later that day, I went to a 24 hour play festival on campus, where students wrote, directed, and acted in original plays to be performed after 24 hours. After a day of thrills on the river, who doesn’t like to watch short plays about human sacrifice and Captain Underpants? I’d call that a day well-spent.

Now, I am sitting in my dorm, unwinding from my crazy week, and bracing myself for the events to come.

Stay tuned next week for what will hopefully be more adventures, issues, and funny stories from my second week of classes!

Grandfather’s Star

I know I am a little late… Alzheimer’s Awareness month was in June. However, I thought it important to share my experience with this disease, and how it affected me and my family. Some of you might recognize a portion of this essay from my Grandfather’s eulogy. This is the essay I pulled it from, which I wrote before he passed away, in its entirety.


My grandfather is synonymous with the smells of blackboard chalk and coffee, with the immortal green sweater he never takes off and his raspy, weathered voice. His hands are gnarled by arthritis and sometimes when he laughs his smile glints gold. He is a scholar, a professor, an astronomer, a jokester, and a guardian of all he takes under his wing. He is my friend, my inspiration. He is also a sufferer of Alzheimer’s’ disease.

When I was little, I saw my grandfather as a gateway to the stars. With a room full of telescopes, model trains, and intricate maps of the solar system, he would engage my imagination with stories of the constellations and the quiet click of train tracks being put together. I can remember begging him to let me into his office just so I could sit near his desk on a rug that was covered in flaming stars and wispy galaxies, tracing my fingers across the woven strands of light with wonder.

As I grew older, I spent many warm summer days attempting to learn how to read ancient Babylonian tablets, with my grandfather as my guide. As one of seven people in the world who could read the aged texts, he was an expert, and I was an eager disciple. The tales he told of the young scribes who had made the tablets enchanted me. While the content of these texts was not in my interest: countless calculations and notations of stars’ positions and various eclipses, I was hooked. One afternoon, we ended our lesson gazing at an interactive map of the skies the Babylonians would have seen. We sat in silence, gazing at virtual celestial bodies and enjoying each others’ company. After a while, my grandfather turned to me with a smile.

“I think that when we die we all get stars,” he said warmly, “and I’ll bet ours will be really bright.”

In recent years, my grandfather has drifted farther and farther away from the world that has grounded him for so long. Now the intelligent professor who introduced me to Babylonian life and the bounties of the universe can hardly remember where he is, who I am. Sometimes I still see glimpses of the man he once was, but Alzheimer’s drains his knowledge day by day. It takes a lot of effort for him to talk about string theory and calculus, the things he loves. I would like to think that maybe when he asks what the date is for the twentieth time in a day, his mind is far away, in some distant universe. Perhaps in his thoughts he is engraving the things he forgets in the wet clay of a tablet, making sure his information is accurate before it is set in stone.

Nonetheless, although Alzheimer’s has clouded my grandfather’s sharp mind, he is still the same kind, supportive man I have known all my life. He may not always remember what state he is in, but I can always count on him to recall his love for me and the rest of my family. And while our days of tablet translation may be over, I continue learning from him every day, and for that I am extremely grateful.

It is because of my grandfather that I count myself as an oracle of the information and stories he can’t recall passing on to me. I go to school each day in hopes of filling myself with new perspectives, people, languages, and ideas to whisper about with my grandfather at birthday parties or Sunday dinners. I know first hand how easily time and disease can envelop valuable knowledge and life experiences, so I strive to treasure each moment I have while I can. I have also become an advocate for community service and interactions with the elderly, volunteering at local nursing homes in the memory care ward as often as I can. My grandfather is lucky to have a family that supports him through his disease, but others aren’t as fortunate. There are people across the community who need just as much kindness, understanding, and validation as my grandfather, and his struggles have inspired me to try to offer my companionship to others with Alzheimer’s as well.

As for the rest of my family, my grandma seamlessly went from wife and companion to guardian and nurse. She is the very definition of true love and commitment and she is an inspiration to all who know her. When my grandpa sits in his big comfy chair in their living room and asks her for the 10th time in a row when they can go home, she gently explains “we are home.” Never raising her voice in frustration–not even once. When the smartest man I know asks his wife why it’s snowing in the kitchen or why there are sparrows flying inside, Grandma lovingly kneels down next to him and suggests that maybe it’s just dust or that she’s sure the birds are simply taking a rest and will leave soon. When my grandma’s children suggest that maybe their dad needs a facility to help with his nutrition or bed sores he’s developed because his legs don’t remember how to work, my grandma keeps him close at home because she knows that though that would help his body, it would be devastating for his mind…his soul.

My parents, aunts, and uncles have all stepped up in a way I’m sure they never thought they would have to. They offer advice, lend listening ears, make meals, and drive my grandparents to countless doctor’s visits, all without revealing the sadness I’m sure lurks deep within. My sisters have taken it upon themselves to become much like court jesters, lightening even the most difficult situations with silly jokes and bringing a smile to my grandfather’s face no matter what. Everyone who knows my grandfather has become stronger, fortifying themselves against the disease that very well could have torn them apart. As a family, we have become much closer, and have realized the importance of being grateful for what we have. And there is a lot to be grateful for. My grandfather might forget a family dinner, but it is up to us not to, so that we can continue strengthening the familial bond that my grandfather built so many years ago. We have all realized that we are the people who carry on my grandfather’s legacy, so we live in a way that will make him proud, staying true to the values he has taught us, both with and without his disease.

Alzheimer’s is a cruel, prolonged disease which takes one of man’s greatest treasures: his memories. It is unable to be treated directly like cancer or heart disease and for many people, this can make things seem hopeless. However, despite the fact that my grandfather suffers from Alzheimer’s, I have not stopped looking forward. There are still days where he remembers how he met my grandmother, or which street he lived on as a child in Ohio, and it is those days that I cherish. Despite everything, my grandfather is still my grandfather. Even the clearest skies get cloudy sometimes. The same goes for my grandfather’s brilliant mind. My grandfather’s star is already shining brightly, and no disease can dim its ethereal glow.

Coming This Fall…

Some of you might know that during senior year, I was nominated for “Most Likely To Have A Reality TV Show” due to the wacky, dramatic nature of my day to day life. As a nod to that nomination, I have decided to create a new section of my blog called “Emma Lives A Little”, which is what I would call my TV show if I actually had one. Stay tuned for what I’m sure will be many awkward encounters, odd activities, and quirky situations that I can’t ever seem to avoid. Some highlights for this season? Get ready for Freshman Orientation (let the icebreakers ensue!),  a stand up paddleboarding and mountain biking class, holidays away from home, living with a roommate for the first time, and so much more! I will try to post weekly “episodes” that will hopefully make you laugh, cry, and live a little right alongside me as I transition into college life. So, make sure you tune in this fall for Season 1 of Emma Lives A Little!

Valentine’s Day: 3 Cheap, Cheeky Date Ideas to Sweeten Your Night

In case you didn’t know, Valentine’s Day is two short days away. If you have a special someone to spend the day with and you don’t already have a date planned, look no further! While I will probably be spending the day doing homework, I am an amazing date-planner (if I do say so myself), and have decided to share a couple of my favorite cheap date ideas with you!

  1. Blanket-Fort-Movie-Night

It is a well-known fact that restaurants and movie theaters are always full-to-bursting on Valentine’s day. So why not avoid the throngs of people and stay at home? Making an adorable blanket fort is completely cost-free, involves minimal effort, and it is also an easy way to create a lovely memory with your significant other. Gather up all the blankets you own, grab some clothespins, set up some chairs in your chosen tent formation in front of your tv/laptop, and assemble your fort! If you need some  blanket fort inspiration, check these out:

(twinkling lights are encouraged, but not necessary)

Complete this date with some take-out and a night of rom-coms and voila! You have yourself a cute little stay-at-home Valentine’s day.

2. Go Geocaching

Many people have never heard of geocaching. I’ll admit, it’s not the most well-known or popular activity, but it is so fun! Remember PokemonGo? Geocaching is a little like that. It is formally defined as a real-world, treasure hunting game using a gps. All you have to do is create an account on geocaching.com, pick a local geocache (treasure container), and go find it! If you want to be really cute about it, locate the geocache before your date and hide a Valentine’s day gift in it for your sweetheart to find. Finish off your geocaching adventure with a picnic near the geocache site and maybe even a couple of hours of star-gazing.

For more information on geocaching, check out this site.

3. Go Ice Skating

For those of us here in Colorado, we are lucky to live near a huge outdoor ice skating venue, Evergreen Lake.


Ice skating provides an easy excuse to hold hands and there’s nothing more thrilling than trying to avoid the frozen bubbles of the water under the ice as you skate by. If you’re feeling risky, choreograph your own ice dancing routine and perform it. Whoever falls the least gets to wear the other person’s gloves for ten minutes.

Here is the link to the  ice skating hotline so you can make sure the ice will be open this Tuesday!

So there you have it, 3 cheap date ideas that will make for a cute, memorable Valentine’s day! Feel free to use these ideas and add to them as you will, whether it is V-day or not. And to any boys reading this, hint hint! Happy Valentine’s day!




Last weekend, my family and I embarked on a four-hour long drive to chilly Gunnison, Colorado for Western State Colorado University’s preview day. After college searching for months, we figured that a visit to the college couldn’t hurt, and we were all in need of a getaway. I’ll admit, when we first arrived, I was a little bit skeptical. I had never seen so many deer or cows in my life, and Gunnison did not seem like the most happening place. However, I couldn’t help but notice the cozy atmosphere of the tiny town and the welcoming smiles of students at the campus, which was only a short walk from our hotel.

After arriving in Gunnison, we took a short drive up the road to Crested Butte for a delicious meal at The Secret Stash. We ordered a custom pizza and it was DELICIOUS. If you’re ever in the area, I would highly recommend checking it out! We were also lucky enough to catch the end of the Crested Butte Alley Loop Nordic Marathon, which is a qualifier for Birkebeiner. Competitors, both amateur and professional, were skiing down main street, stopping at every bar and restaurant along the way. You don’t get to see stuff like that in Thornton.

The next day, we drove over to campus around 10 for the preview day. The event began with a complementary picture with their mascot, Mad Jack, and a chance to speak with different students and teachers from various departments. I was also able to meet the head of the Communications department, who was kind enough to introduce me to an alumni with the same interests as me.

From there, we took a tour of the snowy campus.

The day at Western ended with a clubs/activities fair and of course, a trip to the campus bookstore followed by a meal at the local Italian restaurant, Garlic Mike’s.

I have never met so many kind, caring people and have never felt so welcome at a college (believe me, I’ve visited my fair share). The Preview Day was a very enlightening, informative event and I’m so glad I was able to visit Western. Because of this trip, I’m proud to say that come fall of this year, I will be attending Western State Colorado University! Go Mountaineers!

To My Grandfather

Shortly before I learned my grandfather passed yesterday, coincidentally enough,  I wrote an essay about him. I have decided to share some of it here, to serve as a memorial to the man I counted as my confidant, one of my biggest influences, and my friend.

“My grandfather is synonymous with the smells of blackboard chalk and coffee, with the immortal green sweater he never takes off and his raspy, weathered voice. His hands are gnarled by arthritis and sometimes when he laughs his smile glints gold. He is a scholar, a professor, an astronomer, a jokester, and a guardian of all he takes under his wing. He is my friend, my inspiration. 

When I was little, I saw my grandfather as a gateway to the stars. With a room full of telescopes, model trains, and intricate maps of the solar system, he would engage my imagination with stories of the constellations and the quiet click of train tracks being put together. I can remember begging him to let me into his office just so I could sit near his desk on a rug that was covered in flaming stars and wispy galaxies, tracing my fingers across the woven strands of light with wonder.

As I grew older, I spent many warm summer days attempting to learn how to read ancient Babylonian tablets, with my grandfather as my guide. As one of seven people in the world who could read the aged texts, he was an expert, and I was an eager disciple. The tales he told of the young scribes who had made the tablets enchanted me. While the content of these texts was not in my interest: countless calculations and notations of stars’ positions and various eclipses, I was hooked. One afternoon, we ended our lesson gazing at an interactive map of the skies the Babylonians would have seen. We sat in silence, looking at virtual celestial bodies and enjoying each others’ company. After a while, my grandfather turned to me with a smile.

‘I think that when we die we all get stars,” he said warmly, “and I’ll bet ours will be really bright.’

I know now that my grandfather’s star is already shining brightly, and no disease can dim its ethereal glow. I cherish the close relationship I had with him, and all the lessons I learned from him. I know that he will be supporting me as I go through the rest of my life without him, and for that, I couldn’t be more grateful. I miss you already, Grandpa, I love you.




Family Ties

What better way to start off the new year than to celebrate familial relationships? If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that my relationship with my family is the most constant  bond that I will ever have. From my large extended family to my parents and sisters, I am grateful to have a steady support system of people who love me no matter what.

Since prehistoric times, the world’s first hunting/gathering tribes were based around the nuclear family. Some of the most famous deities in the world, the Greek and Roman Gods, are also an extended, albeit problematic, family. Take a look at diverse forms of modern media like Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Downton Abbey, and you can find one thing in common. Are you sensing a theme here?

While family structures have changed a lot over time, fluctuating between extended patriarchal lineages to tight-knit, unconventional groups of relatives, the thing that has always stayed the same is the bond between members. Though at times families can be wrought with conflict and confusion, blood is thicker than water, and that has been proven time and again.

I am so thankful for every member of my family. I can always count on my grandparents to give me advice and wisdom, and to remind me that my problems are minimal in the grand scheme of things. My little sisters keep me playful and light-hearted. My aunts and uncles take me on adventures and lead me to try new things, like climbing mountains or tasting weird ice creams. My parents are my guardians, the people who comfort me and push me towards my goals. And my extended family, the network of cousins and great-aunts and uncles scattered across the country, love me from a distance.

Out of all the families in the world,  mine is for sure my favorite. So as I head into 2017, I am looking forward to spending more time with my relatives and taking advantage of the wonderful relationships I have with them. To my most present, unshakable, loving relations, thank you!

On this page you will find my original works of writing including op-ed articles, poetry, stories, and essays. Check back here throughout the year to read some of them. Here’s to 2017 being a year of inspiration!