Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in 12 Pictures

January: January was a great month to kick-start the year. First was my 18th birthday, then the Voices' trip to the National Inaugural Choral Competition in Washington, D.C., where we took home 1st place and Most Outstanding Choir. We went sight-seeing to some of the Smithsonian museums, the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, and the Vietnam War memorial. We had a blast celebrating at the awards banquet and danced until they made us leave. We also had the opportunity to go witness the Inauguration, which was a wonderful experience, although the 2 hour walk to the National Mall and the 4 hour walk back to the bus were RIDICULOUS. It was basically the greatest trip ever, and it counted as my Senior trip. I had a blast with my second family.

February: February was very slow and not super eventful. Joe and I celebrated our 3-year anniversary of our first actual date on Valentine's Day, and there was a lot of applying for scholarships.

March: March was a bit more eventful. I had All-State Weekend, where I got to make beautiful music with a bunch of other choir nerds, and there was this huge pep rally for Candice Glover when she was on American Idol. I tripped and fell while running to get in the middle of the massive Harlem Shake (which is what we are all walking away from in the photo above.)

April: April was, again, fairly uneventful. We had French National Honor Society Inductions and this cute little picnic, and I spent much of my time cramming for AP exams. Also, my very last Spring Show with the Voices, in which we had the perfect set, which included a medley from Les Mis.

May: May was a motherload. Senior Prom, AP exams, finals, college applications, graduation preparations, and more. I adored my prom dress, and I plan on keeping this one forever. 

June: June. Graduation rehearsals. Passing of the Mantle. Senior Night. Graduation itself. Enough said.

July: In July, my internship with EatSleepPlay Beaufort was in full swing. I received an email from the person who hired me on that said that he had gotten very good feedback from some of his friends whose pictures I had taken for the site. A+ for Gabby!

August: In August, my grandparents came down to visit and we spent quite a bit of time at the beach. Ethan went back to school around the middle of the month, so I got to have some pretty nice quiet time at home.

September: September was, once again, fairly uneventful, with just college things needing to be finalized. I did get a chance to go to the annual library secondhand book sale, where I got a stack of great books for only $11!

October: Started my online college, and had an easy transition back into routine. It is really nice to have a flexible schedule. I could sleep in and wake up to relax with a cup of coffee before I simply opened my laptop and got to work. I don't know why more people don't do this, honestly.

November: November 16, Joe and I celebrated 3 amazing years together. Thanksgiving was pretty low-key, but still delicious. 

December: Mom broke her ankle and had to get surgery. Joe's dad passed away the week before Christmas. I went to the memorial service and was amazed by the vast amount of people there. I worried about Christmas and our amazing community came through. December was rough, really rough. But in the end, I think that this year was fairly good. I have no real NYE plans this year, other than watching the ball drop on TV and calling Joe at midnight.

Good-bye, 2013
Let's make it a great one, 2014!!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Our Own Christmas Miracle

Those of you who read my blog regularly know about my mom breaking her ankle at the beginning of December. Because I do not currently have a job and I am still working on getting my license, we basically have no income other than Workman's Comp, which only pays her enough for rent and one other bill (downside to serving, I guess.) I was really worried about Christmas for my little brother. Obviously, we have family that got him a few things, but he still believes in Santa, and if presents weren't under that tree, his Christmas would basically be ruined. I had already given up on receiving anything myself other than a few things from my grandparents; I knew how strapped we were and even my savings had been drained to help keep the water on and food in the pantry. But for my bother, it was a big deal, and I was heartbroken to think of what his face would look like when there were no presents from Santa under the tree. But something truly miraculous happened, something that you hear about but never in a million years think would happen to you.

One of my mom's friends had been bringing my brother to school in the mornings to help us out. At one point, she asked him if he was excited about Christmas, and he responded with, "Yeah... I'm glad I'm on Santa's nice list this year, my mom isn't going to be able to get me any presents because we don't have any money." My mom's friend, who had been in a similar position the year before, immediately began tearing up. She told some of her friends about it and they began to rally together, and she spoke to one of the local boutiques, and THEY put out a Facebook post calling for gifts, and another of my mom's friends had a friend who wanted to adopt a family for Christmas and they chose us. We had NO IDEA until my mom's friends called and said they had presents to drop off. And even then, we had no idea of the scale of things.

My brother and I went from having two or three presents under the tree to having fifteen to twenty each under there. There were even a few things for my mom, one of which was money collected to help us out. I was blown away and in tears as I piled everything beneath our tree (which was also given to us for free.) I am very thankful for everything that was done. And the look on Ethan's face in the morning was so priceless and full of pure joy that I couldn't help but start crying. I had been so worried, and people in our community, friends and strangers alike, had selflessly made this Christmas far beyond what we could have hoped for. If all goes well and we are in a stable financial place next holiday season, mom and I have already talked about giving back to the community or adopting a family ourselves next year.

I was lucky enough to have three whole rounds of Christmas celebrations. The first of which was here with mom and our amazing miracle holiday. My gifts included many beautiful new shirts and dresses, an infinite number of nail polishes (all of which were miraculously different colors and all different from anything in my current collection,) other makeup goodies, chocolates, and a cute memo board (which is already coming in handy.)
Round two was the day after Christmas, when I went over to my dad's house for a couple of hours to see him and my brother and sister. The gift he got me was put on back order, but I asked him not to tell me what it was so that it would be a surprise. My grandparents on his side got me a fisheye lens (see above; I think I'll call him Mr. Fishy,) a 5-tone reflector for photography, and some other camera accessories. And my Aunt Sylvia gave her traditional ornament gift, which is so cozy and cute and it's just something that I look forward to every year. The four of us went for a walk/bike ride and then we watched Despicable Me 2.
Round three was this past Saturday at Joe's house, where I ended up having my official "Christmas Dinner" of the year with some amazing prime rib. His mom got me THE SOFTEST bathrobe in the history of soft bathrobes, which I put on immediately and wore for the rest of the evening. Joe himself got me two new charms for the bracelet he bought me for our 2 year anniversary, a new necklace, and two new shirts. We then watched Despicable Me 2 (I honestly didn't mind watching it again) and then took a 4-hour nap.

I'd like to think that after a bout of bad luck and some icky situations, my family and I had a pretty dang good Christmas. I'd love to hear about all of your Christmases, sound off in the comments!!! Any fun plans over the holidays?


All images are mine, and watermarked images are property of my business, Whispered Wishes Photography. Feel free to use the watermarked photos, but please do not alter the images or remove/crop out the watermark. Thank you very much! ♥

Monday, December 23, 2013

A College Essay: The Evolution of Marriage Equality in America

     Ever since the breaking of the American colonies from Britain to form it's own nation, there have always been differences in opinion on what rights are entitled and to whom. In the writing of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson included the following: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This phrase was, at the time, meant to only include the white male population in these “unalienable rights,” but as the country has developed, it has come to include men and women of all races and classes. Analysis of these rights have aided in gaining suffrage for non-whites and women, ending slavery, and the most recent concentration in civil rights battles, marriage equality. The connotative definition of “marriage” is still evolving in America and will continue to evolve as long as there are citizens being denied their “pursuit of happiness.”
     The first facet of marriage equality to be confronted in America is that of interracial marriages. Dating as far back as 1664, there were laws passed against interracial marriages, some going as far as to say that white women who married black men were to be enslaved. There were even three attempts at a Constitutional amendment to ban interracial marriages (Head). During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Asian immigration to the U.S. was a problem to many people. Many states banned marriages between whites and nonwhites, and some federal laws even revoked the citizenship of American women who married Asian men specifically (Sueyoshi). Through a series of Supreme Court cases over the years, state governments finally began accepting and recognizing interracial marriages, although the last state, Alabama, did not legalize them until 2007. Even though interracial marriages are legalized now, studies show that interracial marriages between blacks and majority group members face “higher social sanctions” than other interracial marriages (Yancey).
     Many of the concerns with the legalization of gay and lesbian marriages are rooted in religion. Many opposing parties claim that homosexuality goes against the Bible and threatens the “Holy sanction of marriage.” Arguments against these claims include the fact that there is supposed to be a separation of Church and State, and also that the Bible was written long ago and the world has evolved from the way it was back then. The history of homosexuality is relatively short in the United States, although unions between people of the same sex date back thousands of years. The development of large gay communities in New York, L.A., and San Francisco can be contributed to World War I. After the war, all gay and lesbian military personnel were dishonorably discharged and dropped off in port cities such as these. Since then, there have been countless attempts for gays to obtain marriage licenses, all of which were unsuccessful or later withdrawn (Ford). The first same-sex couple to be legally married in the United States was not married until 2004. Generally, the presence of homosexuality has become a regular part of our culture, with television shows such as Sex and the City, Glee, and Degrassi not only integrating but celebrating gay couples. There are still battles being fought to legalize gay marriage, with only 17 out of 50 states already legalized, but because it is such a hot social topic, there are likely to be more victories for the LGBT community in the near future (Infographic).
     The final topic to observe in analyzing the reach of marriage equality is polygamy, the marriage of multiple partners. Polygamy has been present throughout history, and has been criticized often in modern culture, especially by Christians. Not all countries outlaw polygamous relationships, but in America, it is illegal in all 50 states. Within polygamy, there are 3 different sects. First is polygyny, in which one husband has many wives. Next is polyandry, in which one wife takes on many husbands. Finally, there are group marriages, in which one family unit has multiple husbands and wives (Polygamy.com). Although it is common in the U.S. to frown upon these unions, pop culture is becoming interested in the process and those involved. A popular television show, Sister Wives, follows the lives of a family that practices polygyny, the Browns. Despite the unlawfulness of their family union, the Browns claim that it is legal because only the first marriage is official and the rest are simply commitments. Many who oppose polygamy are seeking to prove that these “commitments” can be identified as common law marriages and prosecute the family. In light of all of this, though, many people have grown to realize that they simply wish to lead their own lives and aren't doing anything to harm others. Much of the “bad name” for polygamy in America comes from the reputation of groups like the FDLS. As is being documented in the upcoming television series Breaking the Faith, the FDLS practices polygyny, some cases of which men will have upwards of 60 wives. These marriages are arranged as soon as the young women are of “marrying age.” The FDLS community is also known for child molestation and sexual assault, with it's former leader being prosecuted and serving time in prison (Wikipedia). Despite these two vastly opposing views on polygamy, it is undoubtable that in the future, there will be pushes to legalize the practice in America.
     There are positives and negatives to all types of relationships; gay, straight, interratial, polygamous, or even “traditional.” The thought of something outside the perceived “norm” simply heightens the negatives more than the positives. All types of relationships have the possibility of abuse or sexual assault, but since we see domestic violence on a fairly regular basis in the news, it highlights the drama if there is the added factor of interraciality, polygamy, or homosexuality in the relationship. Yet as time has passed, interracial marriage is now completely legal in the United States, and gay marriage is on it's way to a national legalization. Eventually more and more cases about polygamy will appear in courts, and it is very possible that in the future, there will finally be a true sense of “marriage equality” in the United States.

Works Cited

  • Yancey, George. "Experiencing Racism: Differences In The Experiences Of Whites Married To Blacks And Non-Black Racial Minorities." Journal Of Comparative Family Studies 38.2 (2007): 197-213. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Nov. 2013.
  • SUEYOSHI, AMY. "Intimate Inequalities: Interracial Affection ∣ And Same-Sex Love In The "Heterosexual" Life Of Yone Noguchi, 1897-1909." Journal Of American Ethnic History 29.4 (2010): 22-44. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Nov. 2013.
  • Head, Tom. "Interracial Marriage Laws: A Short Timeline History." About.com. N.p.. Web. 23 Nov 2013. <http://civilliberty.about.com/od/raceequalopportunity/tp/Interracial- Marriage-Laws-History-Timeline.htm>.
  • Ford, Milt. "A Brief History of Homosexuality in America."Grand Valley State University. N.p., 14 May 2013. Web. 25 Nov 2013. <http://www.gvsu.edu/allies/a-brief-history-of- homosexuality-in-america-30.htm>.
  • History Of Gay Marriage In The United States (INFOGRAPHIC). 2013. Infographic. Huffington PostWeb. 25 Nov 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/15/history-of-gay- marriage_n_3599110.html>.
  • "What is Polygamy?." Polygamy.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov 2013. <http://www.polygamy.com/>.
  • "Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." Wikipedia. N.p.. Web. 25 Nov 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalist_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter- Day_Saints>.

Monday, December 16, 2013

When It Rains, It Pours

Is it just me, or do bad things always seem to happen more increasingly as the holiday season draws nearer? Not to mention that things seem so much worse because it IS the holidays. On top of the economy sucking really horribly, having to scramble for gifts for loved ones, and the whole seasonal affective disorder thing, there always seems to be an downpour of really crappy things that happen. And it just so happens that things are hitting extremely close to home this year.

For starters, my mom broke her ankle. Which is just fabulous because now she has to wait on Workman's Comp to get off their butts and send her money to make up for her loss of wages, and even then it won't even be 100% pay (as if we weren't already struggling.) Not only can she not work, but she can't drive and I basically have taken up every single responsibility in the house. It isn't her fault, it's just difficult. She goes in for surgery Wednesday to have a metal plate put in her ankle to stabilize it. But basically the whole thing flushed our holiday savings down the toilet, and I'm worried for my little brother.

And as if that situation weren't stressful enough, Thursday evening, my boyfriend's father passed away in a car accident. It was hard two years ago when he was in another accident. We weren't sure he would make it then, but he did, although his arm was really messed up. He was still recovering. The really messed up thing is that it was in the same spot, which really freaks me out. Joe's working so hard to be strong through this, and I'm doing everything I can, but I can tell he is hurting, even when he hides it. There is a memorial service this Saturday at the beach where we will be spreading his ashes. I feel so upset and guilty because in the three years I have been dating Joe, I never got to meet his dad or even talk to him on the phone. I wanted to, but scheduling and his dad not wanting me to see him until he was better just didn't work out. I wish I had been able to meet him even once.

All I can do at this point is pray that this is the extent of it, because I don't know how much more stress I can handle. I'm already losing a lot of sleep and having trouble eating enough during the day. At least all m finals are over and next semester doesn't begin until January 8. I don't think I could handle college work on top of all of this. I hope everyone else is having a much better holiday season than I am.