A Word a Week Challenge: Zoom

On the very last day of my safari in the Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya, our driver surprised us by pulling the van up to a crowd of other vehicles that had circled around 10 lions feasting on a wildebeest. It was quite the sight.

ImageAs I took a second to really take in what I was watching, I mindlessly changed the lens on my camera to zoom. I could do this, then, without looking and it practically came second hand, however, now in my busier, less exciting life in Mount Pleasant, I have to continue to teach myself all over again how to even use my camera (sad, right?).

I took a couple shots of the lions and their dinner. Some of them included guts being pulled out, or lions getting up, stretching and laying back down to continue to feast. This picture is my favorite, though.

ImageI think I enjoy it the most because, if you just look at it without knowing the back story, one lion could be taking a nap while the other one is yawning. That, however, is not the case at all. 

The lion on the left was at the beginning of a roar before sticking his head back into the wildebeest’s stomach. I’m not too sure what the one of the right is doing, but besides the blood covered face, it’s looking pretty relaxed.

I can still hear their low roars and grumbles as they all tried and get as much food as possible and although we were rather close, I was glad I had a chance to zoom in on their fuzzy, blood stained, little faces.

On another note, one of the first nights on the safari we ended up coming across a few lions. If I recall correctly, there was one male and two females. They were all just laying about and relaxing as the sun set behind the Kenyan mountains I never grew tired of seeing.

ImageThis was the male lion. He had a black(ish) mane and freshly scratched face. Our driver, Opayne, said it was probably from a play fight and the lion probably didn’t even notice the scratch anymore. Although I don’t necessary believe him, I’d like to pretend he was right just so I don’t have to picture this rather strong animal in pain.

I didn’t have my zoom on my camera for this picture, I know that kind of defeats the idea of this challenge, but I’d just like to point out that we didn’t need a zoom most of the time. We got so close to these animals and they were so used to these vehicles driving around them. If they got annoyed they would casually get up and slowly walk a few feet away to continue napping again.

I remember the feeling in my stomach while I took this picture. We were probably only 3-4 feet away from this lion and he was staring right at me as I captured his glance straight on. It was terrifyingly thrilling and overwhelming all at once. 

As we drove away from both of these lion sightings I couldn’t help but think, “Holy lion, did that really just happen?”

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

During a voluntary cuddle session with our cat, Phoenix, my roommate and I decided to move forward with the idea of dressing her in the sweater that once belonged to my childhood teddy bear.

It’s a nice navy blue sweater with an American flag on. I’m so patriotic…Image

Needless to say, Phoenix wasn’t too fond of the idea and whined the whole time Hannah dressed her. We tried to explain that she would soon thank us for the warmth this sweater provides her, but it’s hard to explain something like that to a cat who, frankly, isn’t interested in anything you have to say.

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If looks could kill…I’m almost 96% sure Hannah and I would both have been dead. We decided to take the rather humorously dressed cat and place her on the ground, just to see what she would do. It turns out it’s almost impossible for a cat to move forward in a sweater. She was in a permanent cat squat, so to say.Image From her personality I thought she was going to go close to bat-shit crazy and starting jotting to every corner in the room as if she was terribly frightened. That, however, is not the response we got. Instead of moving forward Phoenix just…laid down as if to say,

“Oh, a sweater! I can’t move onward!”

This would, of course, be accompanied by the back of her palm hitting her forehead for dramatic effects. That is…if she was human.

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After a while she did end up getting up and exploring the house again. Although she was more timid about climbing on stuff (by no means is that a complaint) she was still exploring. I think she even ended up enjoying her sweater. She even went as far as giving my teddy bear a hug to thank him for his generous sweater donation.

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Quote On Drugs

My friend, Brandyn (also doubles as my roommate, Hannah’s, boyfriend at times) is a very knowledgeable young man. I would trust that he would have an answer for probably 97% of the questions that could possibly pop into my head. I’m talkin’, sits down and reads a whole book in a day and spends hours looking up studies to prove (or disprove) any “fact”. It’s rather nice for me because I don’t have to do any of the actual work and I still get to hear about all the details.

He came over tonight for a minute and sat down with my friend Sophie and I. Sophie was discussion the legalization of marijuana and how she thinks so many people are going to write their persuasive speech on that in her writing class. Brandyn suggested taking it to the next level and she should write about the legalization of all drugs.

This led into a big discussion about whether or not we all personally feel all drugs should be legalized. Sophie and I mentioned certain opinions and backed it with personal morals and possible situations that could occur to sway our judgement on the topic. Brandyn, not surprisingly, had done some research on the topic.

He informed us about some studies and research done in numerous countries that have legalized but regulated drugs. In a nutshell, the results to all of the studies were that the number of drug users and the amount of people in jail were both significantly lowered in the countries that regulated drugs. He mentioned other things like the amount of people with HIV declining due to sterilized needles and proper dosages of whatever drug they were dealing with.

In the midst of this informative dialogue, Brandyn said something about weed being referred to as a gateway drug that made me laugh and I think it is a hilarious use of a metaphor. He said that referring to weed as a gateway drug is,

“…like saying milk is the gateway drink to alcohol.”

Now, it clearly shows you his stand on marijuana, but his opinion aside, it’s a hilarious image to think about. I picture a comic with a kid chugging a bottle of milk, the next a bottle of pop, the next a 40oz beer. Rather goofy, to me.

A Word A Week Challenge: Industrial

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I’m not going to lie and say I took this picture, but it was taken on my camera so I feel like that counts for something..

My friend, B took this picture while galavanting around the town one day while I was at work, or class, or..something.

She’s constantly talking about how she wants to climb a fire escape and sit on some random roof but I’m always too chicken shit (what can I say? I try to avoid any situation where the police can be involved at all cost). I know she was thinking,

“Wow. I really want to climb up there right now…”

as she snapped this shot. I don’t think it’s the best example of “industrial” but I think it throws of your perspective for a moment and I love when you have to look over something a time or two before really understanding it.

What winter has taught me

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not only is my snowsuit freaking awesome, but it makes a good nest for Zeus, too.

If I have learned one thing this winter it is that, in order to enjoy the bitter wind and snow covered ground, I have to pull out my inner little kid. No one is going to look like they are enjoying themselves if they are walking in heals down an icy, frozen sidewalk (not that I ever wear heels anyways). However, if someone has an incredibly awesome snow suit like mine (4 bucks at Goodwill…SCORE!) then they will have a way more enjoyable time getting from one place to another in this frosty, freezy, snow land we call Michigan.

My snow suit is an extra large kids snowsuit, so it fits my waist perfectly and the arms aren’t even too long for me like they usually are when I buy clothes (I have really short arms, it runs in my family [thanks, Dad]). Although it fits a little snug in the crotch region, it has plenty of wiggle room. And plus, it was four bucks so how could I ever pass it up?

I took a late night adventure with a few friends a while back after the first substantial snow fall in Mt. Pleasant. There was even promises of building a fort, but a few days later the snow had already melted into brown freckled piles of melting ice/snow (yuck).

I was prepared in my one-piece snowsuit, way more prepared than a few of my friends who were lacking a few essentials of winter…like boots and gloves. I bought a nice pair of heavy duty snow boots last year but never got to wear them due to the lack of “winter” we had. I was oddly excited to get bundled up and actually explore out into the cold, cold world.

Now, I’m not going to lie, there might have been some liquid encouragement to make the trek into the cold, windy winter world outside of my apartment more bearable, but nevertheless, we made it into the woods and home again all without frost bitten toes or icicle tears. Image

Since the snow has (somewhat) melted and froze over again into a nice layer of slippery, watch-your-step ice, the bitterness in the air has gotten worse. I can’t even walk from my car to my door without my fingers and face freezing so fast that they burn. It’s awful and just a reminder of why I am not the biggest fan of the season we call “winter.” 

Although I had plenty of fun tromping through a foot or so of snow when I was geared up in my snowsuit, I don’t think stepping into it and walking to class would be viewed as “normal”. Now, I don’t need to be seen as normal because to me, normal is all relative, however, I’ve come across a dilemma…

If I do decide to wear my snowsuit just for the fact that it will keep my body warm, do I take it off once I get to class and suit up all over again after? Or do I keep it on all the way, as if I didn’t have real clothes underneath? Or do I casually unzip the top half and let it hang at my waste while leaving my legs warm inside of it?

I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW TO STAY WARM IN THIS FROZEN PLACE.

I’m over winter. Completely over it, but in order for me to enjoy it as much as possible, I realize I have to pull out my inner kid. I have to not care about freezing wind because being outside is exciting enough. I have to throw on my boots, learn to walk in them again, and then tromp my way through this winter with a smile on my face (closed mouth smile because my teeth will turn to ice if they are exposed) and just suck up my negativity when it comes to getting out of my warm, heated blanket covered bed in the morning. But I will whine until it’s sunny again, after all, isn’t that what kids usually do?

 

Dennis: he saved me.

There was this sweet little boy at the Special School in Kenya. His name was Dennis. He was always smiling and he had the kindest eyes. He was tiny, like most of the kids there, partially from lack of a nutritious diet and partially from his physical impairment. I didn’t really connect with Dennis until one afternoon when I helped a few other volunteers bathe, clean, and clothe a few of the children after the house moms had run out of diapers. 

Dennis is currently my background on my desktop along with another girl (just as sweet as Dennis) named Sharon. I look at them every time I open my computer but for some reason, last night, I had a wave of words flood through my fingertips as I looked into Dennis’ sweet, virtual eyes. The following poem is what was released.

When I look at the picture of his face I know he wanted to say so much to me that day,
To just drop down and thank me.
His smile said only half of what his eyes screamed,
“Thank you,
For picking me up after you already ridden seven other kids of their grime,
For noticing me in the back room,
Laying in filth.
You were snooping but it’s okay because I’ll admit…
I peed myself.
And I’m sorry you had to see me that way but it’s only because the School Head won’t take the diapers out of storage in fear the room will remain empty for far too long until another donation.
She means well.
But, thank you.
For holding me when they are forced to care for far too many.
You saved me.
From my own puddle of upset stomach
Even though you couldn’t stomach the smell of neglect on my urine soaked skin right before your lunch break.
I know if affected your entire mindset.
Don’t regret seeing me.
Or being here.
We need you here.
Hear my out when my words can’t be shouted.
I’ll smile bigger so you know 
That I do understand and I am thankful.
Even though I’ve had no chance here
Hear me out…
I would shout thank you loud enough for lions to fear me if my words weren’t trapped behind these eyes.
I don’t know how to thank you.”
I know his eyes held more than dry tears the day I saved him
From one wet, dingy, Special School bunk bed.
I saved him,
From a lonely night left alone with no one to save him.
His fragile arms would then reach for me daily.
They would spread open in hopes that I would hold him again and cleanse his body of Kenyan sand.
His hugs saved me
From feeling tortured by his past.
And his present.
And his future.
His smile saved me
From fallen tears blinked down my cheeks.
His picture of my desktop saves me
From forgetting the feeling of passion I felt for the very first time as I denied lunch because I couldn’t stand the thought of enjoying a meal after such an unenjoyable sight.

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Sweet little Dennis, shaking his instrument during the concert they held while I was there.

Should I be scared?

In the last three days there have been five (successful) armed robberies in Mount Pleasant.  One occurred on saturday, two yesterday, and two today. This, to me, is rather alarming for many reasons.

Not too long ago, just a week or so rather, someone was hijacked and then assaulted, before she jumped out of the car and got to safety from the Student Activity Center parking lot. She got into a house just in time because the man had tried to light her “safe house” on fire before the dad of the household got home to assist his children in this potentially life-threatening situation. 

Now, after that craziness happened, five armed robberies in three days? And the police haven’t found anyone guilty. It’s rather confusing to me how someone can run (on foot) and escape from five different robberies. However, if I had witnessed it I would not have been the first one to jump on this man to try and stop him, but I would have tried to at least make sure I saw what direction he ran, what kind of shoes he was wearing, or something. I’ve watched too many FBI shows to not understand the amount of detail needed to convict someone of any kind of crime. Being an eye witness would be one of the most stressful situations to be in for me. I would crack under all the pressure. 

One description of the man from two days ago said something about him being Hispanic and wearing a dark blue hooded sweatshirt. Another description today said something like, “…possible hair on his chin…”

My point is, the police are not getting anywhere. Central Michigan University has been sending out warning texts and emails to alert the students of what has been happening while the police seem to not be making any progress.

Meanwhile, my roommate has to go to work tomorrow at a pharmacy/ice-cream shop (weird, right?) right downtown only a few blocks from where there was a robbery today and work the cash register. Should her boss give her the run down for what happens if someone does come in with a gun? Or does he just not mention it and handle it if it happens? What’s the protocol for these types of things?

Another one of my friends was sitting at a coffee shop right behind the bookstore that was being robbed around the corner and had no idea. I called her because I was supposed to be meeting her there and completely forgot and my roommate had just informed me of the robbery at the bookstore. She said that nothing was happening in the coffee shop and it was actually eerily peaceful and quiet around the shop.

I live downtown. I’m surrounded by local businesses, stores, and possible targets for these robberies. My door is right next to a bar. I have to park across the street and walk behind an auto shop to get to my front door. By no means do the countless police cars driving passed me make me feel safe.

If anything, the basic idea that we need that many police cars is going to make my stomach turn. 

This is somewhat unrelated, but when I was walking to class the other day I heard a siren in the distance and wrote this note down in my phone,
“Imagine the soundtrack to your sophomore year being sirens
and silence
after gun shots
having a sure shot of misery
spending nights begging, ‘please don’t let that bullet hit me…
or a loved one’
it’s a race to the death
blacktop, hi-top converse foot race
never stop running, no, they still have breath left.”

And although a few armed robberies and police cars cruising the streets does not nearly compare to the situation described in my note, it does provide the same stroke of fear within me.

So far, no one has been hurt in these robberies but I can’t help but be left wondering how many more stores is/are this/these man/men going to hit? Don’t they realize they are getting a tad bit greedy? They should really quit while they’re ahead, but that’s just my advice. They’re armed luck is going to run out soon. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself for reassurance.