Poverty in Guatemala: The Formation of a Personal Dilemma

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Everything is not as it seems.

This photo may seem like a cool shot from a plane overlooking a city surrounded by beautiful mountains but it is so much more than that.

In reality, when you actually move through the city  the sad existence of extreme poverty with houses and streets that look like they are ready to fall over at a moments notice shows through. If you hang around long enough you’re bound to take notice of the influence that gangs have in the area.

It may sound strange that a young college student would want to give up their comfortable life and spring break to become immersed with the reality of life that 5/6 of the world faces every day, but I embarked on the journey of a lifetime with a group of 14 amazing people rather then take a break from the stress of college life.

On Feb. 28, 2015 I woke up at 3 a.m. to drive to the airport for a 6:15 a.m. flight. I was to not only travel on my first ever flight, but I was headed towards a country stricken by extreme poverty leaving the comforts that life in America has provided for me.

What I saw from the moment I stepped out of the airport until I was heading home one week later shocked my mind and changed my perspective on poverty.

From huts with sheets for walls, dirt for floors, and tin for roofs the majority of people in Guatemala live in extreme poverty and only about 19 families control the vast majority of the country’s wealth.

Water has to be carried up the mountainside to houses because there is no plumbing in most cases. Even if there is plumbing, even at the airport for that matter, the plumbing is extremely inefficient. The day we were leaving the country the first bathroom we encountered suddenly lost all running water and while we were shocked an confused, the people working there seemed to see nothing unusual with this occurrence.

Deeper than the poverty I saw though is what I learned about myself. This blog has always been filled with posts about music just like the rest of my life. I have always desired to work in the music industry in one way or another since sixth grade and I never questioned that goal.

That is until now.

The first issue that arrises in my mind is seeing what I saw, how can I choose a life that in no way helps the people in Guatemala or any country rattled with extreme poverty to progress. It would IMG_5185be completely selfish of me to do so.

At the same time, I still love music and it plays a major part in my life. I am constantly keeping up with music news, going to shows, listening to music, discovering new bands, etc. and I don’t think that is something I can give up either.

The question now is how do I help those who need my voice to progress while maintaining goals I’ve had for years?

There is no simple answer. There is no easy fix to my dilemma, but my dilemma is much less important than the struggle for life is everyday for the majority of the world.

Meet and Greets Create Meaningful Magical Moments

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Vic Fuentes (right) and Kellin Quinn (left) during King for a Day

Meet & Greets are not expensive wastes of time.

It was a bitter cold 20 degrees outside, with a wind chill that made it feel even worse, and snow swirled from the gray sky above as I waited in the VIP line outside of the Electric Factory at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday Feb. 14.

Valentines Day.

This day is typically “Singles Awareness Day” for me, but I joined my best friend to see two of our favorite bands for an unimaginable night.

As the anticipation of entering the building to IMG_5046meet Pierce the Veil and Sleeping With Sirens, almost more excited to be warm than meeting people I idolized as time wore on, I was upset to hear that although VIP ticket holders were told to be in line by 4 p.m. we would not be allowed inside until 4:45 p.m.

As the snow continued to swim around us, the doors finally opened after what felt like a year of waiting in the cold. I felt incredibly nervous to come face-to-face with two sets of people that inspire me to learn and grow in my own life, but I was ready.

Closer and closer and closer yet I crept to the tent where the two bands waited. It felt like another century before it was finally my turn to head into the tent and have to opportunity of a lifetime.

The room was bright, especially after stepping out of the poor lighting of the rest of the venue, and a million emotions rushed through me as I saw Jack Fowler, the guitarist for Sleeping With Sirens, reach out to me and my friend to try to put us at ease with the overwhelming situation of being starstruck.

As I moved in a sort of daze thanking Jack Fowler and Gabe Barham, the band’s drummer, I reached my favorite member and singer for the band Kellin Quinn.

I thought that any words I had in my mind would either spill out all at once or get trapped in my throat but after Kellin said “Hey thanks for coming. What’s your name?” I managed to somehow mutter out “No thank you for literally everything. I’m Sam” hoping he understood from experience how loaded my thank you was.

After he chatted a little more with my friend we turned around for a picture and as Kellin Quinn was on my left side and my friend on my right. As Kellin wrapped his arm around me pulling me closer we posed for the camera.

IMG_4715Probably needless to say, I felt like the mushiest fangirl in the world for a second but managed to pull myself together, say thank you to Kellin Quinn, Justin Hills, the bass player, and Nicholas Martin, a guitarist, before moving to the waiting spot so that I could meet Pierce the Veil.

I honestly do not know how I hadn’t passed out from all the adrenaline and emotion coursing through my body at the speed of light, but before I knew it I was surprising myself.

Apparently I either became more comfortable and used to the feelings because I walked right up to Vic Fuentes,singer and guitarist, and Jaime Preciado,bassist, and declared a group hug joyfully as they chuckled “of course” and came in for a hug.

As I let go of them, shocked at how outgoing I just was, I pulled Mike Fuentes, drummer, and Tony Perry, guitarist, in for another group embrace.

I didn’t even have to think about IMG_4716smiling as I was smiling so hard I’m surprised my cheeks didn’t tear. We snapped another photo, I said some thank yous to the boys and just before we walked out looked at Jaime Preciado as he said “Thank you guys so much for coming out. Have a great time out there tonight. We’ll see you later.”

Dazed, amazed, and in a bit of a haze I almost forgot to grab one of the posters the bands had signed for everyone, before claiming my spot upfront and center for the show.

Five minutes is all that I need to introduce myself to these bands and show my appreciation. They were five minutes that will last a lifetime.

One thing is definitely for sure. I didn’t feel like I was alone on Valentine’s Day. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

Lush Bath Bombs Filled With Natural Happiness

This can’t possibly work!

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Picture from here

That was my first thought after I purchased the Lush bath bomb “Twilight” that claimed it could help me feel ready for sleep.

I always thought that the Lush products I kept hearing about were just a silly new fad to roll my eyes at. The expensive all-natural products couldn’t really be better than any other product right?

Well I decided to find out and bought a bath bomb to find out.

After a stressful few days and little sleep I decided it was time to try out this new product.

It oozed and fizzed just like it was supposed and made the whole room fragrant with lavender.

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Picture from here

I turned my phone on to play a spa playlist in Spotify and jumped in for the sleep I thought was impossible.

Boy was I wrong.

The water was soft, silky and smooth from the bath bomb and it made my skin feel amazing.

I found my troubles melt away into the water as the beautiful little sparkles in the water floated around me.

It truly looked like a beautiful twilight sky with purple hues and little bits of glitter floating through the water.

I admit now that I under valued the hype of Lush’s bath bombs, but I will certainly be trying out some more of their products in the near future.

Fall Out Boy Reinvents Rock With American Beauty / American Psycho

Fall Out Boy’s sixth studio album and follow up to 2013s Save Rock and Roll debuted today no. 1 on the iTunes charts.

American Beauty / American Psycho starts out with a triumphant blast from Irresistible that sets the stage for the enthralling new sound the band has adopted for the new album.

Fans of early Fall Out Boy who enjoy the sounds of songs such as Saturday or Grand Theft Autumn- Where is Your Boy may be disappointed to find that their sound has only grown farther away from the growls Pete Wentz made in the early years of the band, but the album is selling well already.

The following title track and Centuries are catchy dance tunes supported by the always astounding vocals of Patrick Stump that have simpler lyrics than past Fall Out Boy songs, but will definitely make it into my workout playlist.

The Kids Aren’t Alright and Uma Thurman were the only real let downs for me on this album. They are definitely uniquely different to Fall Out Boy’s discography, but I found that the lyrics in these two songs really lacked anything that allowed me to feel connected to the song.

The album slows down to the romantic Jet Pack Blues that drew me back into the album. I can already hear myself belting the song driving down the highway making other drivers fear there’s a drying animal screeching on the side of the road.

The dance beats start again as Novocaine kicks in before Fourth of July causes an encore effect to Jet Pack Blues.

For me Favorite Record  and Immortals brought back some of those classic Fall Out Boy sounds and brings back the idea of saving rock-and-roll. They are quickly becoming my favorites off of the album since I am a fan of “old” Fall Out Boy.

Twin Skeletons (Hotel in NYC) pulls the classic Fall Out Boy themes about love and life together and sends you off wishing for more (which is probably the reason that I’ve listened to the album on repeat all day).

The album is definitely a change in style for Fall Out Boy, but their sales prove that they’re doing something right. Overall I’d give the album a 8.0. I love when a band is able to take risks and change their style and there is no doubt that the majority of this album will have me singing and dancing for weeks.

They just announced the Boys of Zummer tour supporting the release of American Beauty / American Psycho with supporting acts Wiz Kalifa and Hoodie Allen kicking off on July 10 in Camden, NJ. This is definitely a surprising line-up with Fall Out Boy’s trusty companions in Panic at the Disco no where in sight.

With ticket prices being pricey especially for someone like me who attends a lot of shows, I’m not sure that this is a tour worth seeing unless your music taste is extremely diverse. Hip-hop/rap music has yet to find a place in my heart and I’d hate to spend money being miserable half of the night.

I look forward to see what else Fall Out Boy has in store nonetheless. After all, how could you avoid the mesmerizing and soothing sound of Patrick Stumps voice?