A Different Kind of Love

His eyes so big and so brown. His face so beautifully put together. I felt a rush of something I still can’t describe. I was confused, yet enthralled. His presence ever so captivating, I was immediately disrupted with the thought that he and i could possibly be a pair. Well I had no choice, he had suddenly come into my life at a time when I needed him most, and unlike all other attempts, this time it felt right. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I really couldn’t wait. This was a new chapter for me. Here I was, all grown up and experiencing something most already had, but also something I never thought I needed. But I did, I finally had companionship. I felt loved and more than ever ready to give love right back.
See, I moved far away from my family and struggled with events I couldn’t have imagined. Then this amazing gift was presented to me as if saying, “Here you go, things won’t get better, but they might just get a little easier to deal with.” And that’s how it was. That’s how it is. Through the good times and through the bad times. No judgements, no complaints, a true friend. What a connection we have. Why was I so scared or even lazy to do this before? I finally realized what all the hype was about – mans best friend.
My precious, fun-loving, always-by-my-side Maltese, Dodger to be exact, is awesome! I’m so glad I stepped to the challenge. Everyone deserves to connect in such a way. Love can come in so many forms and this one by no means stands in the shadows.

The Past Predicting the Future: From Orwell, to Huxley, to Tesla

In the early 1900’s America was introduced to the literary works of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, as well as the innovations of mad inventor and visionary Nikola Tesla. In an age where radios were in there infancy and telegraphs were largely still being utilized, these three names envisioned the future we live in today as well as the technology that entertains and plagues us on a daily basis.

Orwell’s novel “1984”, Huxley’s “A Brave New World” and Tesla’s proposed Wardenclyffe tower foreshadowed much of what we see and use today. In Orwell’s dystopian novel  “1984” we find a larger entity (big brother) watching and gathering information about the people and surroundings of the world, much like the NSA does and as a new technology used by Facebook in which stores and restaurants use cameras to capture facial recognition in order to directly send us mobile ads and updates on the aforementioned places.

Orwell spoke of a future of fear of technology and how it may control us to our demise, much in the way people are fearful of breach of privacy and the hacking and tracking of personal information today. Huxley on the other hand, though he agreed with Orwell, predicted a future riddled with “trivial cultures’ and hedonistic distractions which very much parallels our use of the internet today. Our hedonistic distractions are made up of cat memes accompanied by “cute” misspelled text, fail “gifs” of people acting hilariously reckless, and endless dramatic posts and  long-winded diatribes on social media networks that distract us from our non-virtual lives.

Culminating all these thoughts into the world we live into today was Tesla, who envisioned a world rife with free wireless information and communication strewn into the Earth’s ionosphere and all of the world. Tesla’s Wardenclyffe tower, a large 100 foot structure built with the sole purpose to distribute wireless information for lightning fast communication parallels the Wi-Fi technology today that makes what we all fear and love happen today.

The idea that almost a century ago there were those who could accurately predict the world in which we may live in the future is nothing short of fascinating. Even though Huxley’s “A Brave New World” isn’t as popularized as Orwell’s “1984”, and Tesla’s invention was faced with bankruptcy and abandoned, I think if the past can predict the future today, what predictions today are going to come into fruition a mere century from now.

Dilemma Of Living in NYC

When I moved to New York City 4 years ago, I was very confident of myself that I will be living this exquisite lifestyle I have dreamed of since I was in high school. My own apartment in the hippest area in Manhattan with a 24 hour doorman and a 24 hour gym, a regular at Le Bernardin or Per Se, an occasional once a week shopping trip at Barney’s or Saks, and twice a week movies at the AMC. Turns out that it was just my foolish dream that in reality, living in New York City is like a gamble. Either you will live life comfortably or just end up living in a massive pile of debt and frustration. I said goodbye to my foolish dream and began looking at affordable place outside Manhattan.

I stayed with a relative in Brooklyn Heights when I first came to New York and by the next day, I already secured 2 appointments with landlords in Queens and Brooklyn. I ended up taking a 2 Bedroom apartment inside a house with my new college friend in Astoria, Queens that was quite close to the subway and soon we realized that the landlady was not really friendly at all. She complained that we always get home late (I have no idea that 10 PM is considered late), we always made annoying noise by dragging luggage and suitcase at 1 in the morning, and we refused to do the laundry with her. My friend told me at the end of the month that she was fed up with her and decided to just rent a room somewhere else in Manhattan. I finally told the landlady that I declined extending my lease and by the end of the second month, I moved to  Upper West Side part of Manhattan. It was a 1 Bedroom apartment that I had to share with another roommate who was by that time a Master student at Columbia. We agreed to actually cut some of the costs such as no cable TV and limited use of the air-conditioner and also gas. The apartment was nice and has a 24 hour doorman but no gym and it was a 5 minutes walk to 103rd St subway station.

Due to our activities, we rarely see each other except on weekends when she and I actually go to the same church on Sunday. However, after 2 years of lease, the management started to raise our rent by nearly 50% and I asked my roommate if she actually wanted to extend the lease. She actually agreed on extending but it means that we should cut more costs or perhaps find someone else to be our roommate. Our 1 BR apartment clearly was not big and finding a good roommate was not easy task at all. After much discussion, she declined the idea of finding another roommate and stick with the cutting more costs. It turned great until another year approached and the management wanted to raise the rent again by 20%. By this time, I already found a job but continue living in Manhattan with cramped space and crazy expensive rent? I told her I wanted to find my own apartment and she respected my decision. It took me almost a month before I finally found a studio apartment in Sunnyside, Queens that is bigger than the average 1 BR in Manhattan with a much more reasonable price. At first I was frustrated because the commute to work and school was longer but it became a normal activity after a month. Eventually I could save more money than when I was living in Manhattan and I feel less stressful in my current apartment.

So, have I dismiss the idea of going back to Manhattan? Not really but right now, I am comfortable at my own apartment.

Is this where I am suppose to be?

Life is something we essentially at some point all take for granted. We do not spend every second, minute and hour analyzing every change or event that happens. Throughout the last couple of years this is a topic that always seems to baffle me. Sometimes I sit and think about the events in my life and ask myself…Is this where I am suppose to be?

I am someone who constantly reaches for the stars or at least I like to think I do. Sometimes I feel as if the world around me is my playground and other times I feel consumed by it. I mean we do live in New York City so its easy to feel overwhelmed. Everyday we are surrounded by the constant clutter of people,intense traffic, and loud noise. At the same time, we are surrounded by beautiful buildings, opportunity, and a place filled with drive and ambition.

As a college student and an individual I want to be able to have it all. I want to work, learn and be able to have stable relationships with friends, family, and significant others. In order to be successful in all these fields you must have drive and most of all great time management….Drive is on my side but time management not so much.

Within the last couple of years, I the over achiever have been overwhelmed with life. I have had unfortunate events occur that have thrown me for a loop. I am sure you all know the feeling…needless to say not a great one. I have also had wonderful things occur such as the birth of a baby cousin or graduating with my bachelors.

I have attained great jobs and internships and sometimes I had interviews that did not go well. I thought I found love at one time but had to deal with the reality of heartbreak. I have the best family in the world but at times they drive me insane. I have an amazing best friend but I also lost a lot of friends on the way. I have high hopes for everyone that crosses my path but sometimes those hopes get shattered along the way. I am my biggest critic but I am also my own biggest fan.

Life is something that should never be taken for granted. It is both beautiful and messy at the same time. It has taken me a while to realize that I am exactly where I am meant to be.Each occurrence has made me the person I am today. It has guided me to the place I am today. Life will always bring about change and I will always question it.At the same time I will also learn to except it, learn from it, and grow from it.

We are all meant to be where we are today and if we do not like where the direction of life is going… be the change you wish to see in your own life and in the world around us. Be the writer of your own story and never take anything you go through for granted.

Netflix available in France!

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Netflix is now available in France! Indeed, the company announced its launch in France on September 15th. I’m glad that my French fellow citizen enjoy Netflix services!

When I arrived in NY, I didn’t know Netflix, but I discovered its benefits and I thought it was a shame that such a service doesn’t exist in France. France has several cable providers that already offer VOD services but it’s very expensive. I think French households will love Netflix which is going to have lot of success. Indeed, Netflix arrives with important benefits:

First is the price: 7.99 euros per month for the standard quality (on one screen), 8.99 euros in HD on two simultaneous screen, and 11.99 euros for four simultaneous HD screens. French competitors are much more expensive.

Besides, in France we always have to wait a long time to watch the last season of our favorite series. Generally, when a new season airs on an American network, it’s broadcast on French channels almost one year after (you must wait for the dubbing etc), and it’s really annoying for all French fans of TV shows. Thanks to Netflix, we’ll be able to watch last seasons rapidly.

Last advantage: in addition to enjoying the original programs produced by Netflix such as the masterpiece House of Cards and Orange is the new Black, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced that the company will produce some original French series, including a French remake of House of Cards. I can’t wait to see it!

America Today: Entertained or Informed?

At one point, I thought I wanted to study journalism in college. I always had a thirst for knowledge and a burning desire to expose the truth on issues that affect us on a daily basis. I’m not talking about what Kim Kardashian is doing, I’m referring to actual hard news. However, I’ve come to realize that few  people  seem to really care about what’s going on in the world. They either don’t care to pay attention to it, or simply live in their own bubbles believing everything they hear. Even for those who are interested in global issues, what’s fact and what’s fiction? The impact of technology and social media has seemed to make the world smaller, but does it provide easier access to the truth? There seems to be more “BS” articles circulating now than ever before. E! News seems to have infiltrated the minds of most of us.  Why do we become addicted to reality shows starring talent-less people who over dramatize every little thing that happens in life? I think as a society, we choose to be entertained rather than informed. Is it because we’ve become desensitized by all the violence and negativity that is publicized on the news? It’s safe to say that journalism has regressed. Yes, there are now a multitude of ways to express your opinions, but when did opinion become fact? When did fabrication become the only means of gaining attention from people? A great example is a video that was released by Young America’s Foundation last week. The organization asked 30 students a series of questions on current events at George Washington University. Only a handful of those students knew about the 9/11 anniversary, and many of them didn’t have a clue what ISIS is. Yet, all of them knew of at least one celebrity who’s naked photos were leaked online. What is going on here?? This reminds of a conversation that my friend Chetika posted on Instagram the other day. An old co-worker had asked if Maldives was a good place to vacation. She responded by saying that her Dad didn’t recommend it now because of the ISIS situation over there. The co-worker responded with, “ISIS? Is that a Goo-Goo Dolls song?” This was coming from someone who lived in 13 different countries. It seems to me that all someone needs to read is a catchy headline, and it’s usually about a Hollywood star, political scandal, or a story that is written purely by opinion.  What is the truth? Do we even want the truth? Or would we rather be spoonfed nonsense by a select few while the world is changing and we’re sitting on our hands?

Think hip hop is just cursing and booty shaking? Think again

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How did one of the most progressive art forms of the century so quickly become something almost hated and unrecognized? How come a racially diverse movement of open-minded artists is seen as ignorant, intolerant, and misogynistic? We have all already heard at least once the oh so familiar criticisms of hip hop music. The media constantly slams the genre and its artists. These narrow views are what keeps bringing hip hop down and we as music and hip hop lovers need to do something about it, talk about it and promote the beauty of hip hop.

The Bronx, early seventies. DJ Kool Herc, one of the most famous DJs and MCs in the neighborhood is the first to ever start breaking and scratching at block parties: that’s the birth of a new era, a new movement. It was not only about music, nor dancing, nor rapping. Hip hop culture was actually a whole lifestyle representing inner-city life and uplifting communities. It involved breakdancing, graffiti art, creating beats, and rapping. This movement’s core values were all about peace and creativity.
Hip hop was a way to improve the community’s youth. You gained recognition in your neighborhood by passing on social messages, in creating new beats, new dance moves, or a beautiful mural. Expression was key and it was therefore liberating. It was also accessible to anyone, the possibilities were endless, you could use your own voice as an instrument and perform beatboxing.

The thing is, what we hear on most radios today is very far from the original concept of hip hop. The great lyricists and underground artists are not on the radio and commercial channels, despite some extremely talented artists and lyricists such as Mos Def, Common or Kendrick Lamar. Most people put all forms of hip hop into the same bag, not considering the different aspects of it. Most people would not be able to tell the difference between KRS One and Lil Wayne. To a lot of people, and I hear it all the time, hip hop is just a lot of cursing and booty shaking. Now don’t get me wrong, today a lot of mainstream hip hop has turned into a commercial machine that rests on marketing and promotion, the music is not so much the problem as the popularity of it. People love trash, so that’s what we feed them.
I love hip hop. I fell in love with it when listening to Nas’ emblematic album “Illmatic”, considered as one of the best hip hop albums of all times. I love hip hop for its culture, for what it means, for its values of ‘Peace, Unity, Love and Having Fun’ defined by Afrika Bambaataa in 1976.

What bothers me everyday, is to see what people and the media make of hip hop. Because to me there is nothing more beautiful than hip hop, because its philosophy was and remains ‘Peace, Love, Unity and Having Fun’, and most importantly respect. These are the true core values of hip hop, they belong to hip hop culture. That is what it was created for, to turn negative energy into positive one, through art.

My point is, people need to look through the roots of hip hop, and they might fall in love with it, as I did, with that beautiful culture and its values, because hip hop is worth much more than what the public opinion and media make of it.

BONUS: Hip Hop beautifully personified in one song

The beginning of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Everybody knows what is Ice Bucket Challenge but no one knows how it started. It begins with just only one man his name is Pete Frates.  How does a simple man become the face of a viral phenomenon? Celebrities, politicians, families, everybody, and even YOU did the Ice Bucket Challenge!

But who is Pete Frates? What is his story? He was the team captain of Boston College in 2007. Unfortunately, in 2012 a neurologist gave him the bad news: he had ALS. He wanted to fight for this disease. He wanted to make his fight a symbol. He wanted to live like a normal person. All his dreams came true: he got married in 2013 and had his first children in 2014. However, his fight didn’t stop there.

He nominated himself but he couldn’t do it, so he asked his friends to do it for his cause ALS and for charity. He wanted to join charity and fun. First, all athletes from Boston did it. Then, all athletes in the country did it. Then, teams, celebrity, families, EVERYBODY did it. In one month the challenge became a huge viral phenomenon. But irony in this story is that Pete never did the challenge, and one day in August he decided to take up the challenge!

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Today, thanks to him the association received 100 million USD.

Why are men so needy??!!

Please do not get me wrong, I love my boyfriend and I enjoy doing things for him…. But why are men so needy??!!??

Before being in this relationship, I swore this was the 21 century and men lived independent lives and being in a relationship was now a 50/50 role. I thought those days of slaving over the stove everyday for your man, cleaning for him, washing his clothes, hell, telling him his every single move was over?! Boy was I wrong…

I’ve been living with my boyfriend for the last 6 months. Before moving in together, he was this amazing man who never asked me to do anything…. Uhm…. Maybe a few things here and there! But now.. He expects me to do everything!  It’s like he doesn’t move a finger around the house at all. If I don’t do it it doesn’t get done! Have I mentioned that I work full time and go to school?  Well if not, I know for a fact I constantly remind him Everyday of it.. I tell him all the time I am not his mother! I am his girlfriend and we are in a relationship…

But see what my boyfriends problem is, is that  he is still stuck in this male dominated world. He feels that women have their role and men have theirs. He feels that he is a provider and a dame good provider, so he shouldn’t have to do anything else! But the last time I checked…. I am a full time working woman living in the 21 century.. And until I do not have to work anymore…. The participation in this relationship needs to be 50/50!

One day… Maybe one day he’ll understand… Until then, I’m still stuck with doing everything!

 

Do you know who you are?

 

Justine Tinari :

November 28, 1993  –   . . .

 

My names Justine Tinari. I possess no middle name. I was born on the twenty-eighth of November. And this, is me.

Many times, people say that we are our own person. Which for the most part, holds true. We have the power to make our own decisions, and live how we choose. But from the moment we exit the womb, we are automatically influenced by our surroundings. The people that nurture us, teach us how to use a pencil, ride a bike, and so forth, truly influence our lives.

As I’ve grown I’ve learned many things. I have learned who I am, because of the people that I have been surrounded by.  This is me;

I am a configuration of countless circumstances. I have witnessed a hit and run, toured the streets of a different country, experienced the rush of competitive adrenalin, become the captain of a team, touched and have been touched by the stories of others, dove into icy waters to support a cause, analyzed numerous compositions of art, (but have yet to find their meaning), attested the eradication of a twenty-six year long winning tradition, and have been encompassed by a municipality of diversity. Now, one may ask “Does this make you proud?”  And a reasonable response would be, “Why yes, it does.” I would not, however, be truthful if I said so, because being proud is much more than a sense of satisfaction. I am not satisfied with my experiences or accomplishments. Simply because I want more. What have these things taught me? Well, perhaps that I should be a little more cautious as I cross the street, that I thirst for cultures other than my own, that nothing comes close to the drive you feel when faced with contention, and that leading a team through victories as well as upsets takes responsibility, stability, and reliability. It has taught me that, human compassion is rare, and should be savored. Also, that standing for what you believe in is always the right choice. That sometimes art is not meant to be understood, but rather to evoke a sense of perception, that occasionally being defeated is better than winning, that diversity is the one thing we all have in common, and that losing something that means the world to you, may sometimes make you stronger.