Author: Belén Alemán

Your Trip, My Journey

I needed to write this before you answered me. You are sleeping right now, which gives me the perfect opportunity to finally breathe some life onto this page. We embark on a journey from the moment we are born and until the day we die. We do not choose to be thrust into this world. Some may consider this quite unfair. I, on the other hand, am glad I was not given the choice to be born, because that is one less thing off my shoulders. I may have not decided to come into the world had I known beforehand how much cruelty and destruction humans are capable of. But one thing is certain: I would have also missed out on the beautiful and miraculous possibilities of love. Therefore, since I am here anyway, I am happy with my decision to do my best to make an impact, whether it be small or large. Either one is fine by me, and both are completely out of my hands. Truly, it is better this way. Throughout …

Again

You were the only person I saw at that moment; the only one I could focus on. I wasn’t expecting you to be there, but oh, what a lovely surprise. I caught the smile in your eyes when you saw me. It was a brief, vulnerable smile that you did not have time to disguise. My favorite type of look: honest and open and bare and raw. And real. This is real talk. The kind you don’t get to hear or read everyday. The kind that escapes my mind and flows through my fingers and onto this page because my brain has been spinning at such a fierce speed since I first saw you that I needed to find an outlet and a way to hold myself steady. Run-on sentences help. They run with me, but they don’t let me stop to catch my breath. Who are you? How do you do this to me so easily? You sparked something in me that I’ve been trying to tame, a passion so deeply rooted that, when I …

Our Only Home

Humans don’t need to keep re-inventing the wheel. Similarly, writers don’t always have to try to re-write what someone else has already penned beautifully. In honor of the climate change discussions held at the UN last week, in honor of the peaceful protests held worldwide urging our leaders to act now in order to save our precious planet, in honor of Nicholas Stern’s insightful Ted Talk, and in honor of the wonderfully and exquisitely made show, Cosmos, which I am now watching for a third time on Netflix (yes, I’m a nerd. If you haven’t watched it yet, I really don’t understand what you’ve been doing with your time), I decided to recycle Carl Sagan’s words, found below. As a communicator, as a writer, my job is to spread the word about things that matter. As a human, though, it’s my responsibility to alert those around me, as best as I’m able, to the dangers of inaction. As a friend recently said, we have a hard time understanding the consequences of chains of events spread widely …

A Big, Fresh Breath of Living

I had to battle a lot of demons in order to get the photo you see at the top of this post. Mood swings can be aggressive… Forget feeling bipolar; I was multi-polar, volatile, and explosive that day. I went for run to get it out of my system. I walked down Bush Street to Polk, where I took off all the way down to Ghirardelli square, past Fort Mason, around Chrissy Field, and onto Fort Point right next to the Golden Gate Bridge, where the only options, once I got there, were either to jump into the water or turn around and head back home. It turned out to be a 10.8 mile, 2.5 hour ordeal, with the wind beating against me. I admit to walking most of the way back after passing Fort Mason again, but I did lunge up the Taylor Street hills, in case that counts for anything. I am obsessed with the Golden Gate, which explains why I take so many pictures of it and why I always tend to …

It’s Your Turn to Fly

You’re going abroad for a year to volunteer at an orphanage in Sri Lanka and at a middle school in Bali (OK, for real though, you’ll probably be surfing half the time), so to say that I’ll be living vicariously through you is a huge understatement. We’ve already discussed how proud I am of you for having won this scholarship and for having had the courage to chase an adventure of such magnitude. What you will live, the experience you will gain, the consequences of this monstrous decision are as of yet unknown… But you had the guts to follow through with this dream anyway, and that’s what impresses me the most. I’m sure you have specific responsibilities and things to do/blog about during the next few months as per UNC’s request, but, in addition to all of those formalities, allow me to create an unofficial –yet still extremely important—list of things your big sister wants you to do, because she said so. Ready? Pay. Attention. I want you to play, and explore, and laugh until you …

Forces of Nature

My bed was shaking, but I wasn’t moving. As I opened my eyes, I thought “there’s someone here.” Looking around, I noticed that, in fact, I was alone, but something else was happening: the walls were moving, too. Everything in my room was vibrating, and I wasn’t responsible for it. It was a rolling-type of shaking, the kind that starts slowly and then grows in strength. I was scared… More scared than I’ve been in an incredibly long time. Being asleep didn’t help to understand what was going on until after it ended. My first earthquake caught me in the comforts of dreamland, but left me in shock. It was a magnitude of 6.0, and the epicenter was an hour and a half north of San Francisco, which means I only experienced roughly 10 seconds of force. Simply thinking about the fact that a 7.0 magnitude earthquake is ten-times the force of what I lived is absolutely mind-blowing. I would like to never live that again (God, you can count that as a prayer). In …

We Forget

“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” – Ernest Hemingway We forget to look up when we walk around a city, failing to notice the beautiful handiwork and craftsmanship of architects. We forget to admire breathtaking views when we are out buzzing like bees, too busy to even realize we haven’t taken a full, deep breath in a very, very long time. We get too used to the things around us, and we don’t humble ourselves enough. We forget that we are nothing in comparison to the universe that surrounds us and of which we are part. We forget that we are not the center of anything, except of our own limited perspectives. We forget to be thankful for the life, the opportunities, …

The Fire In Your Soul

E: “Imagine if our only responsibility were to get to know our true selves and be our best selves. Don’t you think the world would be a much better place, filled with passion and authenticity? Just thinking…” B: “I think that is our only natural responsibility, because when we’re our best selves we can help and impact others. It’s society, but especially our desire for power, that distracts us. Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. – Leo Tolstoy I tweeted that quote today. It seems like we’re on the same wave length!” E: “It seems so :) I’m going through a rough time trying to understand my emotions, and I realize how much time we have to dedicate to understanding.” B: “Oh, yeah. I’ve written my way through 15 journals since age 13 and I still haven’t fully understood myself.” E: “…What’s the secret?” B: “The secret is in our desire to want to get to know ourselves. If the desire exists, I think we have a solid …

Phenomenal Woman

A Woman Phenomenally

Most of you are aware that there was another shooting in the US last Friday, May 23rd. The suspect, who killed himself after murdering 7 people, left traces of his reasoning all over YouTube. His main premise was that women were to blame for not being attracted to him and for not giving him sex. Therefore, he took revenge. Above all else, he was a misogynist. Over the weekend, the hashtag #NotAllMen went viral on Twitter. Those using it wanted to get the message across that not all men are like Elliot Rodger. Please rest assured that we know this. In response, women began tweeting that although #NotAllMen are misogynistic murderers, #YesAllWomen face incredible sexism and discrimination from men on a daily basis, including disgusting comments yelled out to us on the street. I have been reading various opinion pieces on this topic, but this is the one I recommend the most, in case you’re interested. The point of this post, however, isn’t to further this discussion. Rather, it’s to shine a bright light on all women, …

My Personal Hell

There are moments when I freak out because of the sheer amount of thoughts sprinting so ferociously through my mind and bouncing off every edge that I feel like my brain is going to implode. These moments usually occur when I let my mental guard down and start considering such dramatic truths as the fact that we are finite creatures… That I’m 27 years old and what I’ve already done cannot be changed or re-done; what I’ve already lost cannot, for the most part, be saved. People that I love who were once in my life are no longer physically present. I cannot give them a call whenever I want, or worse, embrace them in a long, heart-felt hug. This causes me the most anxiety. The same goes for not being able to re-live certain situations of my past that were absolutely outstanding and that I miss dearly. It’s over. It’s done. People, places, things… They’ve all come and gone, some for better, some for worse. Why did no one warn us ahead of time? …