Cleaning the Beach


The beach near my parent’s house is filthy. I’ve been down there twice this summer and I could hardly walk in the sand because of all the trash. There were so many different things littered along the way that I couldn’t keep track of it all. There were plastic bottles, but more plastic bottle caps. There were a lot of Snicker’s wrappers and Swisher Sweet’s cigar tips. I found tons of bottle rocket remains and tampon applicators. Mind you, most of the stuff that was washed up was plastic except for the Styrofoam meat trays.

Plastics make it possible, right America?

I started cleaning at around five o’clock and stayed down there until seven-thirty. There were three teenagers swimming for about an hour and, after they left, one man came down to swim and play fetch with his two dogs. He came up to me, thanked me for how nice the beach is looking, and offered to take one of my full trash bags up the hill for me.

I found a dog collar and decided to call the number on one of the tags. A lady answered and she checked her dog, but she said he still had it on. I said I’m at the lake and she remembered she lost it a couple years ago. She said she’ll pick it up today.

Once the sun started going down, more mosquitoes and flies came around and were biting me ferociously. Howard brought some more trash bags and helped me for an hour or so, but the bugs got too bad. I have large welts up and down my legs and arms. The spray I used didn’t help much after carrying around a trash bag, which the flies were following.

After two and a half hours cleaning at the beach, we successfully picked up three and a half bags of trash. I feel like I accomplished something worthwhile this summer.

Some of the awesome things that were found included a plastic flamingo and a plastic bat. I also found a skull and partial neck vertebrae of what could be a seagull or some other bird.


There were a lot of seagulls feasting on this dead fish carcass.

Also, someone is building a hut. It’s pretty cool, but I wonder how much time they’ve spent on it.

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October 14, 2009

EPIC FAIL

I gave in to activating my Facebook account yesterday. Peer pressure is just not a good thing. After spending two months without it I still don’t feel the need to be on it. I think I just needed a good amount of time away to prove to myself that it was a distraction. And it was.

As soon as I logged in I felt the need to update my profile information as well as delete some people I haven’t talked to or seen in a long time. Creepers. Then I had to go and add all the new members of the sorority because I can’t remember any of their names.

But since that fateful evening of spending three hours on my account I have only spent a total of 20 minutes checking it. That’s good. I still don’t feel the urge to go on there. Before I deactivated my account it would be an automatism. If I was trying to remember something I had to do, before I could remember the actual link I would already be on Facebook checking out the Bumper Stickers.

Giving in doesn’t necessarily feel like a loss for me but I do feel slightly relieved. I am relieved of the pressure of my friends constantly belittling me because I was doing something for my well-being. I was also doing something noble because I know very few people that would ever do what I did just to somewhat improve on my grades.

Beware of your obsessions. They creep on you just as you would on Facebook.

The Most Important Thing You Must Consider…

I was walking home from a personal essay writing workshop while walking in the direction of the setting sun. With the change in time the sun sets later and it seems to set longer. My walk home seemed longer when someone, who I didn’t even notice out of the corner of my eye because the sun shone so bright, handed me a small pamphlet. “Where will you spend all eternity?” I read that and this is something that I need not worry about just yet. I am no offended that I received this in a University setting because I grew up in a Christian faith. I really wonder how the people who handout these types of things don’t get ridiculed or yelled at or anything to the extreme.  I’m sure they might offend someone at some point during the day.

As I look back on this sudden exchange, the man was faceless to me, and I only remember an arm stretched out toward me with this pamphlet and my sudden shock of surprise that I grabbed it and went on my way. I opened it to the inside to see the first reason “1. You have sinned against God”. I folded it up and kept on walking and now I am at work looking at this again.

If all students enter college at an average age of 18, would we not have already come to terms with our own religious faith or lack thereof?

I know that sinning is against God’s will and I also know that as long as I repent my sins that I am forgiven for them.

I guess my question to this faceless man is “why me?” Maybe I have been sinning too much and this is a sign.  Or I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to receive this. I could’ve said no but I was so caught up in my own thoughts to even notice someone else. It just happened so fast.

Do I believe in signs?

I don’t know. Maybe I should contemplate the meaning of my life a little more because, after all, I could die today.

Afternoon Joy Ride

At the first break in the spring weather, I am anxiously awaiting a bus home from work. I am on the corner watching the cars pass by with each stop and go light change. As the bus pulls up, a few of the other riders step up to the curb. I get in line. As I am waiting I see this light, sky-blue rusted truck drive by. Inside the bed there is a rather large shaggy dog, whom is quite dirty. He runs back and forth, side-to-side, around in circles. The dog is eager to be outside in the warm weather, as am I.

The truck was heading towards south. I get on the bus, pleased that this dog is enjoying the weather and reassuring myself that I will get to enjoy the weather soon too. I sit and I keep my head in a book as usual on my daily rides to and from work. I have a never ending reading list due to school and the bus rides give me 15 minutes of reading each way. As we approach the lower east side, the bus stops at the Farwell Point and I briefly look out the window and see the same rusted truck, the same overly-excited dog pass by going south…again.

How is it that they have the time to go on a joy ride? How is it that they had made a huge circle so quick to beat my bus to this stop which is the halfway point of my house?

I am so involved with school this semester that I don’t even have time to sit and think outside of my homework. Summer will come soon enough, as it is already the second day of spring break. I can’t wait for the simple two months of relaxation before my final involved year of my undergrad.

Happiness

To find happiness we must realize our strengths. We have to use our strengths to find more fulfillment. The more generous acts we complete we can acquire higher sensations of contentment. Flow, a widely recognized psychological state, is the total absorption that occurs when a person is involved in an activity. When one identifies his/her “signature strength” it in turn leads to more flow.

Happiness is something that can be learned, but it is a choice. I will have to learn what my own strengths are and I will have to pursue my own dreams of happiness. I will have to be strong to choose that path and if I am weak, I won’t be as happy as I could. Positive thinking is also a key factor in finding happiness. I would have to learn to choose to be optimistic about everything that happens to me and in turn I would have taught myself to be happy. When other negative situations arise I will naturally adjust to them with an optimistic view. It will form out of habit.

For me to connect with myself and my flow I have to be shown creativity. I have to teach myself how to increase my strength to advance, but I also have to be motivated. If I was shown how to paint and was told to mimic the painting, I would have to “want” to do it. If I was forced to do it, I don’t think I would have any flow. It has to be my choice to create an identical painting. If I can motivate myself to create this painting and to “do my best” I am creating flow while being involved in such an activity.

Happiness is a “mind over matter” situation. I can argue with myself to put effort into my everyday life and I will learn to be happy.

My Life as a Hypocrite

I was born May 18, 1987 into a family with a practicing Catholic father and a non-practicing Lutheran mother. My father raised my sister and I Catholic. We attended St. Rita from pre-school until eighth grade. On Wednesday s we went to mass with our class and then on Sundays we went to mass with our father. We never got a Sunday off to sleep in unless my father worked late the previous night or had to go into work early the same day. Religion was always a chore to me. During our religion classes I was always taught at and not to because I chose not to listen. I never got good grades and I never intended on putting in a full effort to read and do homework in that class. I always received an average of C or less. After learning about what Jesus did his entire life for so many years the class became boring and eventually loathsome.

I grew up knowing this as the only faith around. I knew about the Nazis and how they wanted to exterminate the entire population of Jews and I knew that the Communist China practiced Buddhism. I didn’t know what they did at their Church. I didn’t know how they were raised in their beliefs. I was only told that there were other religions and I never got to experience them.

After so many long years at a Catholic school I plunged right into a public high school against my own wishes. I had grown up with a class of twenty-five kids and I was moving onto a class of 600. I admit that I was scared and nervous. I felt like I had my safety net stripped from me and was now entering uncharted territory. There had only been one black family to attend St. Rita so I wasn’t accustomed to the various colors of the teenagers at my new school. I lived in a “white” neighborhood and the only thing I knew about other races is what I saw on the news in the evening at supper time. The only people displayed were murderers or have committed a crime. I only knew other races to be wrong-doers and I didn’t want to associate with them. I was not racist, I was only naïve.

My sophomore year attending this school I had made a couple good friends. I still attended mass on Sundays because my father woke me up every weekend. This year was more of my “experimentation” year. I met new people that introduced me to alcohol and drugs. Howard was the first person to offer me his resources. He offered me something new in my life. I am not proud of this year of my life but without it I don’t think I would have had the courage to learn other things. I wanted to learn more about everything in the world. Religion was the first topic on my list. I was always interested in any books I found. I related mostly to atheism. I read more on that than any other subject. I decided that I was an atheist and I loved to talk about it any chance I could. I would argue with anyone that told me “God Love You.”

I attended CCD classes at St. Rita to please my father because my mother told me I’ll get money when I completed them. CCD is Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. I took these so I could be confirmed. I started acting out in these classes and I stated my opinion frequently which, in turn, displeased the teachers. I was only ever asked to leave the room; I was never punished for speaking my mind, which is a good thing of course. I never hated attending these classes because my friends were attending also. We played games and it wasn’t always about religion. It was like a social meeting place for the kids that attended a public high school that didn’t have religion in the curriculum.

We had to attend Confession twice a school year. I always tried to skip out on these days. My mother wouldn’t let me. We were forced to confess anything and most of the time I was only sorry that I never did what my parents asked me to do for chores at home. One particular Confession day I stood up for myself. I told the teacher “I don’t want to go to confession because I know in my heart that I have committed a mortal sin and I am sorry for this. The Bible says that Jesus forgives people who know they have sinned and will make the change that they need in their daily lives. I don’t need to tell a priest my sins if I have already been forgiven.” I was told that if I didn’t confess that my parents would receive a call and that I would be able to get confirmed. That was the moment I never wanted to live the rest of my life in the Catholic faith.

I was living as a practicing Catholic with atheistic views. I was a hypocrite every day of my life. I am not an atheist because I do believe that there could be some major force directing our lives every step. I am also not Catholic because I do not believe in one God alone. I am, however, agnostic in the fact that I acknowledge other religions and do not condemn people for their beliefs. I know that I will not spend the rest of my life supporting an entity that I do not know exists. I will not take time away from my studies and my family and friends to find out if something does exist. In the end, if a higher entity does exist, and if I should be condemned to Hell for my choices, I will know in my heart that I have lived to be the best I could to be.

In allowing myself to “screw up” in my sophomore year I have allowed myself to receive a small taste of failure. In retrospect I view that year as the year I found myself. I know what I want in my life and I go for it. I feel that attending mass was always a routine and I never cared to continue. I have more time to see the world now. I have a broader perspective of what is going on in my life and the lives of others. I have more time to secure myself in my surroundings and be able to give myself the time to attain my goals. I plan on attending graduate school after I have obtained my Bachelors Degree.

My father stopped waking me up for mass when I turned eighteen. I’m not a train wreck either. I have just finished attaining my Associates Degree in IT-Networking at Milwaukee Area Technical College in May 2007. I landed a job as an IT-Analyst for an insurance company in Milwaukee after working three years in customer service. This job is only an internship, but I will learn much working here. I also got accepted into University of Wisconsin Milwaukee for fall 2007. I will be entering the school as a sophomore. I plan on double majoring in Biology and English with a minor in Business Administration. I have recently started beading. This is where I make bracelets and necklaces. I also am interested in scrap booking. I have played tennis all four years of high school and I practice recreational now. I’ve always been more interested in the art than anything else. I love to sketch. I have recently been more interested in writing and this is why I am going to double major in English. It is a dream of mine to write a book and have it published. I want my words to be read by others and I want to be a hero.