Morning Commute

There is

A downtown local 6 train to

Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall

Approaching the station.

Please stand away from the platform edge.

Each morning on my way to my unpaid,

Sad and lonely

Unfulfilling internship, I wonder

What if it’s pulling me under?

What if I didn’t stand away from the edge?

What if I let myself go?

Because lord knows

I can’t take this 9 to 5 anymore.

But each morning I close

Off those thoughts and step into the closing doors.

Practicing balance in the middle of a subway train,

Closing my eyes, pretending not to feel my pain,

But in my mind, I see you and your new lover

And it drives me insane.

The anger, the envy,

The regret and disdain–

I put in my headphones.

But despite this crowded train car,

I still feel so alone.

Sometimes I want to cry because the world is so beautiful

And yet, I’m never truly satisfied.

If only I could express my feelings the way that artists do–

If I could paint my sadness when I look at you.

Leaves are falling but they’re still green.

What does this mean?

Why do the good die young

And why does this cold air fill my lungs

Leaving so many words left unsung?

The ground below me feels hallow and yet

I continue on with these heavy steps,

Choking on emotions too hard to swallow.

And I hope that I’ll fall through.

Maybe the soil and cement will cover me

And maybe you will be the one to discover me.

Or maybe the hallow ground under me will be my escape.

I know nothing of my fate;

I only hope these thoughts dissipate.

I hope I can forgive myself for my mistakes.

Ali’s Story: A Look Inside the life of a Female Marine and a Single Mother

We used to be dancers.

From the ages of 2 to 18, I took classes in ballet, tap dance, jazz dance, lyrical and a bit of tumbling. Since I’m a woman who does not hide her femininity and frankly hates doing hard labor or even the thought of being outside or sweating, I fit the stereotype that many people hold in their minds when they envision a ballerina.

However, during my time as a dancer I met one of my very best friends, Ali O. Ali did not, and still does not, fit the ballerina stereotype. She is hardworking, adventurous, outdoorsy and strong. She is a Marine.

Ali danced for 16 years, just like I did. When we graduated high school, Ali said to me, “Could you see this graceful ballerina being a Marine?”

Although I was shocked, I knew that Ali had much more grit than I. She’s a farmer’s daughter, and worked in her dad’s watermelon fields practically from the time she could walk.(Side bar: She asked me to work with her when I was in middle school and I barely made it 4 hours out there. She still makes fun of me for how much I whined, but it is NOT an easy job!!)

Being a female Marine is not the only badass thing about her. When Ali was active in the Marine Corps, she also became a single mother.

Ali was stationed in Japan, California and Virginia. After serving 7 and a half years in active duty, she is now back in Indiana with her 5-year-old son.

This summer, I got to catch up with Ali and ask her questions about her experience as a Marine and as a single mom.


Why did you decide to join the Marine Corps in the first place?

I kind of had mixed emotions about going to college. I saw my friends going places for school and I didn’t really know what I wanted to study, so, why pay for the degree? School’s not my thing. I wanted to do something different for myself.

What was the most difficult part of being a Marine for you?

I would say just overcoming the trials you face as a female Marine. There are a lot of standards that are supposed to be held equally, but they’re not. They never are.

Let’s dig deeper into that. Women are constantly portrayed as “weak” or “too emotional” in today’s society. Did you ever have an encounter where someone in the Marines made you feel “weak” for being a woman?

Oh yea. One example where you’re looked at as weak is that typically women don’t run as fast as men. Look at how the physical exams are scored: a female would have to run 3 miles in 20 minutes for a “perfect score,” where a man’s “perfect score” would require him running the same distance in 17 minutes. Even if a woman got a “perfect score” of 20 minutes, the men still saw her as “less-than” because it’s not as fast as them.

What other things happened to you as a Marine that made you feel “less-than” or that lead your male counterparts to wrongfully judge you?

I had a boss once that would make me come into his office to write on his whiteboard. He told me he thought my handwriting was better than others’, but really, he was looking at my butt as I wrote. He made me do all kinds of other tasks for him too. If I refused to work for him, he’d send me out to the field. If I went to the field, I had to leave my kid behind for months on end, so I had no choice. When I did this work for him though, the other male Marines would think I was getting some sort of special treatment for being a woman. In actuality, I was being used and not treated well at all!

(I didn’t know what “the field” meant, so I asked her to explain it. Going to the field means going out in the middle of nowhere, usually in a desert area. Out there you do a lot of driving and logistics. Still confused?? Me too.)

Now let’s talk about the stereotype of women being “too emotional.” What did you encounter in your time as a Marine that was caused by this stereotype?

I was a Marine Sergeant, and a female at that. Since I was the boss to so many men, I had to control my emotions in order to get their respect. For example, if I didn’t yell at them all the time, they wouldn’t take me seriously and try to walk all over me. On the other hand, if I did yell at them, they’d call me a crazy bitch!

What about other female Marines that you worked with? Were they treated differently because they were women?

Yes. No matter a woman’s rank, she was treated differently. If a woman was treated well, other men would say she was getting “special treatment” and didn’t deserve it. If a woman was screamed at by her higher-up, the men would say something like, “that was nothing compared to the way he screamed at me earlier!” It was like nothing we ever got was merited or just, good or bad.

What do you think about the stereotypes of women being “weak” or “ruled by emotion”?

I don’t think I’m weak or too emotional. I understand why the stereotypes exist though. Yes, women typically express emotion more than men do. Yes, I can’t run as fast as a man…Whoop-dee-doo! However, I rose in the ranks for a reason, and there are other “manly” things I can do 10 times better than my male counterparts. I think the issue is that women can usually understand both sides, but men typically don’t see from a woman’s point of view.

Let’s switch gears now. I know that you had your son while on active duty. Tell me about this! Did you feel judged? Did you feel supported?

It’s a crazy story. Well, my son happened when my mom and sister came to Japan (where I was stationed) for vacation. When they came, my son’s dad and I had to ask for leave to go on vacation too.

His dad was a corporal at the time and I was a lance corporal then. It already looked bad that two higher-ups in the Marines were dating. Well, when we asked for the time off, my commanding officer said to me, “I’ll let you two go together out of the kindness of my heart, but don’t let anything happen.” This was him telling me not to get pregnant. So, when I came back pregnant it was a huge ordeal. (Side bar: I personally think it’s hilarious that she DID get pregnant on the trip after her commanding officer told her she couldn’t. Maybe I just revel in chaos and rebellion, but it’s a great way to stick it to the man, I think!)

The Marines only see you as a number, as an asset to the Corps. They don’t even pretend to care about your mental health, your family life…nothing.

Tell me more about being treated as a number. How did this affect you where pregnant?

Well, one example is when I worked as a dispatcher. Basically, I had to stay in the shop from the time a truck left until the truck came back. One time they had me stay in the shop for weeks on end, pregnant, only eating tuna and crackers. They didn’t take my pregnancy or my baby’s health into consideration when they sent me out there.

Another example of this lack of concern for my baby’s well-being was when they had me come support securing trucks before a typhoon. Before a big storm like that, they make you come immediately, as you are, to clear out weapons and things from trucks. I came as I was, in flip-flops and shorts, to work in the pouring rain when I was pregnant. I stepped into a wet truck, slipped, and fell flat on my face. I was pregnant! That was when I started to think, “f*** all of this!”

There are other things like that I could tell you about, but being pregnant in the Marines was challenging in every aspect. You’re looked down upon for even going to a doctor’s appointment. They have me for life and I could barely take an hour to get an ultrasound!

I know that you and your son’s father did not stay together after your son was born, but we won’t go into details of that. What was it like to be a single mom while you were on active duty?

It’s difficult to have a family and be in the Marine Corps. Male bosses just don’t seem to care that you have a child to take care of. Say that they’re looking for someone to do a task…they don’t take you having a child into consideration when they choose someone for it.

A more specific example is when they sent me to the field for months. I couldn’t take my son with me, so I had to fly with him to Indiana to stay at my parents’ house. Then I’d have to fly back to where I was stationed. The money I had to spend on airline tickets was astronomical!

I also would be looked down upon if I didn’t go work out with the marines at 5:30 AM, so I’d have to get him up at 4:30 to bring him to a sitter…just to work out!

In general, it was very overwhelming to balance my duties as a mom and a Marine. Since we had to move around a lot, my son’s behavior was changed a lot and it was a lot to handle. I’d have breakdowns from the stress!

What do you do now that you’re no longer in active duty? How do you balance that with your duties of being a mother?

I’m in school now and we’re living at my parents’ house. I was working working part time, too, but I wasn’t making enough money. I decided it was better to just be a full time student. It’s god awful living with my parents again, but it’s what I need right now.

You would think that I’d feel better at balancing duties, but because of COVID-19, my son is home all the time and asking me to play when I’m trying to do school work. It’s really hard to be the mom that gets to play with her kid AND be the student that gets A’s.

What are some of the positives of being a single mother to your son?

My son and I are pretty much best buds and I know that he thinks the world of me. Even though it would be nice to have some help and someone to lean on, you also don’t have someone telling you exactly how to raise your child. It’s all up to you!

What advice or words of inspiration do you have for current or future single mamas?

Don’t stress out about the little things!

Don’t let someone tell you how to parent; you know what’s best for your child.

Most importantly, if a family member does not want to be in your child’s life, do not try to force it. If someone wants to know and love your kid, they will make an effort.

What advice do you have for women that are thinking of joining the Marine Corps?

Make sure that you are physically and emotionally in the right space. Weigh the options and decide if it’s what is best for you now. Do you want to start a family soon? Think it over before you decide to join.


Ali O. is and always has been one of the strongest people I know. Her son has been through a lot of changes in his 5 years of life, but he is kind, smart, funny and well-rounded, all thanks to his devoted mother. She is constantly breaking stereotypes and, I believe, is an inspiration for all women out there.

Why You Should Watch “How I Met Your Mother”

I’m incredibly aware of how annoying people can be talking about HIMYM and constantly quoting different episodes…but, you know what?  This television show is truly the best sitcom that ever aired, and here’s why:

1) Ted Mosby
Theodore Evelyn Mosby is not only an adorable, quirky romantic who just can’t seem to find the right girl.  He’s also someone to look towards for encouragement.  The thing I love the most about HIMYM is how absolutely real the episodes can make you feel.  Ted goes through HELL to find his happy ending.  He gets beat up by goat, he gets left at the alter, his favorite (and most hideous) pair of red cowboy boots get set on fire and flung out a two story window.  He struggles for years to finally get recognized as an architect, only to find out that his real passion is teaching.  The obstacles that Ted Mosby has to go through are funny and well-written, but also very relatable.  No matter how bad it gets for him, he ends up happy..and that is something we should keep in mind when we think that things could only get worse.

2) Relatable Characters
Ted is not the only character that one can relate with.  The beautiful thing about HIMYM is that all of the characters probably reflect a tiny piece of yourself that you may or may not always notice.  For example, I relate to Robin‘s restlessness.  She does want to find love, but she always puts herself and her job and her travels before any man she meets, even if they could be a perfect match (cough, Ted).

I relate to the carelessness of Barney which is deep seeded in his abandonment by his father.  *daddy issues*

I relate to Lily‘s constant dream quest. She loves teaching kindergarten, but she always has that head cannon to one day be an artist.  Her determination is actually very admirable, because after everything she and Marshall go through, she gets to move to Rome and be an art consultant for a year.  This is a trait we should all hold to forever.  Never lose your will to do what you love. (Watch season 6, episode 3  “Unfinished” when you’re feeling discouraged about your goals.  It’s my absolute favorite).

Lastly, I relate to Marshall‘s heart.  He is very family oriented and shows it in his relationship with his father and also with Lily.  He underlines the importance of complete love and family bonds.  He also sings everything he does which I catch myself doing as well.

3)Life Lessons
If I could meet the writers of this show, I’d probably cry because they have influenced me so much, but I’d also applaud them akwardly by myself.  HIMYM is more than a hilarious sitcom of 5 friends living in NYC.  It has some serious life lessons embedded. I’ll list a few that I think stand out.

“Nothing good happens after 2 a.m.” 
seriously, just go to bed.

“Never invite an ex to a wedding.”
This shows its importance at Lily & Marshall’s wedding, and at Ted & Stella’s wedding. It also does at Barney & Robin’s wedding, because Ted tries to be a romantic with Robin, yet again, and gets into a huge fight with Barney.  Yikes.

The Murtaugh list is bull shit
In season 4, Barney want’s to toilet paper the laser tag arena because they banned him for being too rough with the kids, but Ted says he’s too old for that.  So Barney is all, “challenge accepted” and tries to do a bunch of stupid things that Ted says he’s too old for which ends up almost killing him.  However, in the end Ted points out that the Murtaugh list is stupid because you can never be “too old” and they go TP the laser tag place anyway.  Basically, the moral of this is to keep doing childish things if it feels right to you.  Release your inner kid.

Long distance relationships are “just awful”
Ted says this when he’s talking about Victoria moving to Germany.  He ended up cheating on her because he could barely remember what Victoria looked like and they rarely talked.  Honestly though, I know first hand that they really don’t work like 90% of the time, so I definitely agree with Ted.
It’s important to laugh at yourself
Robin is the poster child for embarrassing moments.  She was Robin Sparkles, for crying out loud…even though I actually love her songs, but that’s another story.  Anyway, there’s an episode where Robin’s coworker, Sandy Rivers, shows everyone all of her embarrassing videos.  She has a lot, too.  She spent so much time trying to figure out how to get revenge, but Ted tells her to just laugh along with them.  When she finally does that, she was so relieved.
Everyone has embarrassing stories.  We’re stupid, silly humans.  You can’t hide them forever, so you may as well laugh about them.

Finding love takes patience
Not everyone will find a Lily and Marshall relationship, and that’s okay.  Heck, some people may not even be cut out for love, like Barney.  The biggest life lesson in HIMYM is to never be discouraged if your life doesn’t turn out like the movies.  Everyone is dealt a different hand and as long as you truly know yourself and what you want want, you’ll find happiness in the end.
“I think for the most part, if you’re really honest with yourself about what you want out of life, life gives it to you.”

I could go on for hours about why I love HIMYM, but I won’t do that.  However, now when you’re like “why are people so obsessed with this tv show” you’ll understand my reasoning and maybe you’ll watch it to feel better as well.  Trust me, it works.

Irish English Oddities

I read in a book once that American English is technically closer to what Shakespeare would have spoken than British English today.  This goes back to, of course, the settlement of the first American colonies.  We kept the same style of English as our forefathers (mostly) while it later changed over in England.  This is why there are different words for the same thing in England, for example, “tap” versus “faucet.”  Now this is really interesting but…what about Irish English?

Although you may not realize this, Irish English has loads of different expressions, pronunciations and quirks that standard British English does not have, and even more so when comparing it to American English!  So, since I’m an American who’s obsessed with linguistics and used to live in Ireland, I figured it would be silly for me to not write an entry about the oddities I’ve heard over there from my lovely Irish friends.

1) The “like” tag

My fellow Americans and I are very aware of the word “like” and whether we like it or not, we use this word probably way too often than ever necessary.  The Irish, however, also use “like” quite often, but in a very different way!  Instead of weaving “like” several times into a sentence, they add it on just at the end of sentences.  Here are some examples:

American: “I know that I, like, did this myself and, like, probably should have studied more.”

Irish: “I know I should have studied more.  I did it to myself, like.

This “like” tag sounds VERY weird at first to an American ear, but you adjust to it and honestly, if I heard an Irish person using “like” the same way I did, it would feel like it was forced.  Just like when an American tries to use the “like” tag in order to assimilate into Ireland…it just doesn’t seem to work.

2) The “so” tag

I’m going to be honest, I’m not 100% sure about when this can be used.  I’ve tried finding an American equivalent, but it’s difficult.  Basically, Irish people like to add “so” to the end of sentences sometimes.  One case I’ve heard it used is something like an American adding “then” to the end of a sentence.

American: Maybe I’ll do that then.

Irish: Maybe I’ll do that so.

This could be wrong, however.  If anyone understands this phenomenon, please explain.

3) “C’mere” (come here)

My closest friend here uses this all the time (actually she uses all of the things I’m pointing out, so sorry to pick on ya).  When getting someone’s attention to say something, they’ll say, “c’mere” as if you need to come closer but, really, you don’t need to.  I was so confused by this at first because I’d be sitting right next to my friend and she’d be like “but c’mere what do you think of the assignment so far?”  And I’d awkwardly move closer as if she’s about to tell me some big secret.  But nope.  It’s just a statement opener, I suppose.

4) “Now!”

This is one of those things that you never notice but when you do, you can never un-notice it.  It’s adorable.  Basically, at the start of any given sentence or action, and Irish person might say, “now!”

For example:

Now! Where do you want to go for lunch?”

“Now!” *stands up to buy coffee.*

*sits back down and opens laptop* “Now!” *starts reading emails*

Literally, this can be used for anything and has no particular meaning other than the start of a phrase or action.

5) “Sure didn’t (he)”

Yet another confusing oddity of Irish English is the “sure didn’t.”  Okay, the way that Irish people use this is confusing to an American ear because it almost sounds like they’re asking you for clarity or reassurance…but it also doesn’t make sense for them to need to ask.  Let me just show an example:

Irish: “I worked so hard on that essay and sure didn’t the professor go and fail me.”

American: “did he?  I think that’s what you told me earlier…or did he not? Wait, why are you asking me???”

My Irish friend and I discovered the use of this expression, though.  It’s kind of like, “…and can you believe he went and failed me?” or “…and he went and failed me anyway!”  I guess, it’s an expression of shock or disbelief of the sort.

6) “Ye”

I don’t believe that this one is difficult for an American ear to understand, because we’ve heard this used in old-timey movies and whatnot. “Hear ye! Hear ye!” <– ring a bell?

Anyway, “ye” is the pronoun for plural you.  American English doesn’t use “ye” but we realize that it can be confusing to say “you” when referring to more than one person.  This is why Americans will say “you guys” or “you all” or the ever-beloved, “y’all.”

This is the correct pronoun for plural you in old English, so really I suppose it’s just something they never got rid of.  I love it though!

7) “You alright?”

This is only odd for Americans to hear because of the circumstances.  When you enter a bar or sit down at a table at a pub, the bartender or server asks, “you alright?”

This used to bother me because it always caught me off guard and I’d forget how to order a beer.  I’d be like “oh yea I’m fine thanks uhhh Guinness??”  It’s like in America when someone is walking past you and shouts “what’s up?” as if you can tell them what you’re about to go do while walking AWAY from them.  How do you respond??  I always want to tell waitresses that I’m not-so-alright because I’m hangry and don’t wanna talk about my feelings although they’ve insisted you tell them your current state of being, or alrightness.

I’m honestly still a bit taken aback when they ask “you alright” but I’ve gotten used to ignoring their question and just politely ordering.

8) “Ju”

This doesn’t need to much explaining.  Basically, “did you” or “do you” just squishes together into “ju.”  They not only use this orally, but they also text it.

9) “Your man” or “Your one”

This phrase still makes me giggle. So, say you’re in a bar and you’ve told your friends that a guy sitting a table over is total jackass. They might say something like “How did you meet your man?”

As an American, I’d be like, “my MAN??” He’s the farthest thing from being MY MAN!! However, when an Irish person uses the phrase “your man” or “your one,” they’re only referencing someone. It doesn’t even have to be a reference to someone you’ve already talked about. Maybe your Irish friend sees someone wearing a tacky outfit and says “Your one looks ready for the circus.”


I realize that I could write forever on this topic and there are also so many things I could say about pronunciations and accents, but I feel like the 9 things listed got my point across.  Irish English is indeed different from American English and can be rather puzzling sometimes!  I hope this helps you all understand someone if you’re traveling to Ireland or maybe you can fake a few of these to make Irish people think you’re Irish. (Trust me, they will not fall for that, but give it a go).

Climate Change: Tipping the Scale

In 2017, I had the opportunity to work as a writer for a United Nations movement, Every Woman Every Child. This groundbreaking group of 8 or so people working in the basement of the UN building are fighting for advocacy and mobilization of government efforts to support women and children around the world. During my time there, I focused on writing articles that affect the entire world population, which in turn, affect the health and safety of women and children everywhere.

In November of 2017, I was given the assignment to write an article over climate change. I immediately thought back to growing up in small-town Indiana, where many people either believed that climate change was a hoax, or that it probably existed, but it was not a personal problem, and therefore, should just be ignored.

Climate change is still a very real threat to our planet, so I updated my article a bit and posted it below.


“I don’t care about climate change.  It doesn’t affect me.”

The glaciers are melting. For example, the glaciers in the Rwenzori Mountains in Africa used to close off surrounding regions with freezing “microclimates.” These freezing temperatures would not allow malaria-carrying mosquitoes to live, which protected the people from this deadly disease. Now that the ice is melting, the area is being plagued by malaria.

“But, I don’t care about climate change. It doesn’t affect me.”

Due to rising temperatures and drought, Australia has been hit by devastating bushfire. The air is toxic, many homes have been destroyed and lives have been lost.

“But, I don’t care about climate change. It doesn’t affect me.”

Our coastlines are shrinking. As aforementioned, the glaciers are melting, causing the sea level to rise. In warmer areas, greenhouse gases are heating up the ocean which also causes the water to expand. The rise in sea level is already revealing permanent damage. For example, flooding in Georgia from hurricane Irma destroyed massive amounts of property. According to, Georgia property value has even dropped by $15 million due to flooding risks.

“But, I don’t care about climate change. It doesn’t affect me.”

The gasoline in your car, the hairspray keeping your curls together, the cold air blowing from your bedroom window unit: These are nothing but a simple part of your everyday routine. These parts of our lives are etched, engrained into our psyche. We do them without thought. It’s like when you drive home from work on autopilot every night– you no longer think about the fact that are you are driving a 2-ton vehicle at 60 MPH and the danger you might encounter. These seemingly harmless routines not only affect our planet, but they CAN and WILL affect YOU.


Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today and no country is unaffected by it. It is human activities including industrialization, urbanization and globalization that drive pollution.


  • Nearly 90% of the population living in cities worldwide is breathing air that fails to meet WHO air quality guideline limits.
  • At least 12.6 million people die each year because of preventable environmental causes, like pneumonia, diarrhea and cholera.
  • Even in your own homes, air pollution is a threat to your health. WHO estimates that 3.8 million people die every year from household air pollution and 50% of all pneumonia deaths in children under 5 are caused by household air pollution.

Pollution is a symptom and unintended consequence of unhealthy and unsustainable development. If we want to reduce the environmental burden of disease globally, we must address the sources of pollution to cultivate a healthier and safer environment.

Thankfully, according to World Wild Life, about 6 in 10 Americans today find climate change alarming– this number has nearly doubled in the past 5 years. Unfortunately, this is not enough to start making real changes to the harm we’ve already made.

We need to care about climate change and pollution. It’s up to us to tip the scale.