December 31, 2019 marked the end of a decade. New Year’s is long past but we are still reminiscing about events that happened during the last ten years. While ten years worth of experiences is a lot to sift through, some APN staff members picked out their top three moments to share.
1.Seeing One Direction in concert (2015)
I can still remember the day like it was yesterday, September 5, 2015. Not only would this be my first concert ever, but it was my favorite band ever and I was going with three of my favorite people. My sister and my two cousins accompanied me, and although it was a pretty long trip to Montreal, we made a few friends on the party bus. On the trip there, we all sang their latest album, “Four”, and gossiped about the current drama in the fandom, and on the way back we all slept, exhausted from the trip and standing on our feet for so long; along with all the dancing. I remember going back to school the next week and telling all my friends. Although I wish I could’ve seen Zayn live, as this was after he had departed the group, I’m so happy I got to see the other four boys. I still remember a lot of details from that night, including Niall (my favorite), walking around in an ankle boot, Louis cracking jokes as he always did, Liam dancing around and Harry going on a rant about moose and poutine. It was one of the best days and nights of my life and definitely of the decade.
2.The New York Giants win Super Bowl XLVI (2012)
My dad has always been a big fan of the Giants and I was inherently too, without knowing what football really was before this, but this game and the season leading up to it really began my love for the sport. I’m not sure what exactly it was, maybe it was seeing my dad jump for joy and celebrate when Eli Manning threw the pass of the game to Mario Manningham, knowing the victory was just inches away. Maybe it was my own feeling, my feeling of winning along with my team, the team that represented my home state of New York and loving that feeling. Maybe it was the tears in the players’ eyes as they hugged their wives and children, knowing this may be their only chance to get to this spot, and making the best of their opportunity and their dreams coming true. Or maybe, just maybe, it was that we, the underdogs, beat the great almighty Patriots…again. If you were to ask me now, being a true fan and admirer of the game of football, I still think it’d be the last one.
3.Finding my cat, Quasi (2015)
It was late December 2015, a week before Christmas, me, a sophomore in high school, had the wonderful pleasure of taking home the fake baby for health class. As it was crying in my arms and I struggled to find out what it wanted from me, my sister called from the living room and told me that there was a cat outside. Never a lover of cats, I still went to look to see it. I went out onto the snowy front porch to see my dad feeding a small gray and white cat a Slim Jim. We realized she was a stray, and given that we are at the dead end of a dirt road and she had been spayed, we assumed someone had sadly dropped her off, to leave her for dead. We all decided to give her water and some little snacks, and the next day my dad brought home some cat food. We built her a shelter outside with blankets and a small crate, so she could come back, and we set a vet appointment to get her checked for ticks and other possible diseases that could be harmful to our dog, Hershey. She checked out fine and we kept her, naming her (officially) Tabby. However, my sister and I disliked that name so we called her Quasimodo instead. Little did I know this little stray cat would become my best friend for life. Although she’s still got a little stray in her, I wouldn’t trade her in for the world and I’m so glad we found her on that wintry night.
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1.Attending ESL One Genting – January 2018
Throughout my childhood, I was always in love with video games. Over the years, I have played a lot of video games but two games really stood out – Counter Strike 1.6 or CS and Defense of the Ancients or DotA. At the age of 11, I started playing competitive CS and was reasonably good at it. In 2011, DotA2 was released and I started playing it semi-professionally while following the pro scene. After waiting for seven years, I got the opportunity to attend my first LAN event in Malaysia. It was also my first solo trip to another country, and watching the underdogs beat the favorites in a compelling best of five which was the icing on this cake for me.
2.Welcoming My Dogs Into The Family – October 2018
Ever since I was 6 years old, all I really wanted in my life was a dog. That wish became a reality in late 2018 when my parents finally allowed me to become a dog parent. We got two dogs, a Golden Retriever named Arcanine, after the pokemon and a Labrador named Jimmy. For the past two years, they are the loves of my life, and leaving them to come to the States is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. It is safe to say they are the ones I love the most in this world. Both of them are very pivotal in my life for one more reason that I will be addressing in my third moment of the decade.
3.Overcoming My Seven and A Half Year Struggle Against Clinical Depression – Late 2019
I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 14 in late 2011. Ever since that day, everything went downhill in my life piece by piece. It all became too much for me to handle in 2017 where I had a major depressive episode due to the people around me and the place I was in both mentally and physically. This depressive episode peaked with me trying to attempt suicide. It has been an uphill climb ever since that day and when I finally came out of it in late 2019, I felt relieved and happy for the first time in a long time. At times I thought I would not make it out but thanks to my family and my fur babies, it was possible to overcome probably the toughest thing in my life.
1.The increasing recognition of the climate crisis, as symbolized by Greta Thunberg’s one-girl school strike outside the Swedish Parliament beginning in September 2018
This entry is really a trend rather than a single event, though I point to the activism of Greta Thunberg — beginning with her solitary school strike in Sweden, which, rather rapidly, bloomed into an international movement — as the singular “moment” that best speaks both to the urgency of the crisis and the most inspiring response to it. Early on in the decade, the North Country itself was introduced to the extremities of climate change by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. This was soon followed by the ravages, throughout much of the Northeast, of Superstorm Sandy. Since then, the United States has been wracked by hurricanes (think Puerto Rico and Houston), flooding, wildfires, and drought. The global effects have been just as severe and have occurred virtually everywhere on all seven continents — from flooding in Europe to drought in the Middle East (e.g., Syria) and Africa to the tsunami in Japan and wildfires in Australia. The decade began with a significantly large portion of the population, especially in the United States, doubting the human impacts on the climate or even the existence of climate change. Today, I would say only the most hardened conspiracy theorists on the right express such skepticism. Much of the world is gearing up for the coming catastrophic effects of phenomena such as rising sea levels. The same big question we faced at the beginning of the decade remains, however: can we, as a global community, get our act together quickly enough to forestall the worst effects of climate change — including the overriding threat to our very existence as a species?
Here is a link to Greta Thunberg’s first appearance on “Democracy Now,” the alternative news program that’s one of the best sources for independent, non-corporate-funded news available online. Given the show’s tendency to report on events and newsmakers not covered by the mainstream media, it’s likely that this episode, titled “School Strike for Climate: Meet 15-Year-Old Activist Greta Thunberg, Who Inspired a Global Movement,” marked one of Greta’s first appearances on American media: https://www.democracynow.org/2018/12/11/meet_the_15_year_old_swedish
2.The publication in 2010 of Chris Hedges’s book, “Death of the Liberal Class”
In my view, this is the most important book published in the past decade by an American author: it certainly had a profound effect on me personally and the way I think about the U.S. political system. Chris Hedges is a journalist who was part of a team of reporters at the New York Times who shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for their coverage of global terrorism. In “Death of the Liberal Class,” Hedges exposes the lie that we live in anything approaching a democracy. In a concise, yet comprehensive work of less than 300 pages, he charts U.S. history from the 1920s to the 2000s of the marginalization of the true Left (as personified by key figures ranging from Eugene V. Debs to Ralph Nader) and the selling out to the corporate state by the five main components of the liberal establishment: unions, universities and colleges, liberal-to-moderate churches, the mainstream media and the Democratic Party. I had been a Democrat my entire adult life and became a member of the Essex County Democratic Committee following the election of Barack Obama in 2008. I became increasingly disillusioned with the Democratic Party during Obama’s first term and, when I read Hedges’s book in 2011, it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. It led me that year to abandon the Democratic Party and join the Green Party and, as much as my heart in many ways still belongs to the Democratic Party, I haven’t looked back since.
3.Our son Samuel’s graduation—magna cum laude—from Columbia College/Columbia University in May 2017
On a personal level, my top moment of the decade — and one of the high points of my entire life — was Sam’s graduation from my alma mater. In fact, Sam’s entire college experience proved to be thrilling in that it afforded me the opportunity to, in a sense, re-live my undergraduate years over the four years he attended Columbia — which, as it happens, coincided with my return to college when I entered SUNY Plattsburgh’s Multimedia Journalism Certificate program that same semester, Fall of 2013. When Sam was a child growing up in our home in Jay and eventually attending Keene Central School, where he excelled and graduated as valedictorian, I did not foresee Sam attending the same college I did and don’t recall ever pushing the idea. He was a top student but had always been interested in theater and music. When it came time to select schools to apply to, arts conservatories such as those at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Michigan were tops on Sam’s list. But it made sense to me that Sam should also apply to schools such as Columbia, which are known for their generous financial aid; plus, Columbia had the benefit of being in New York City, where Sam wanted to live after college, to pursue a career on Broadway. Things just worked out that the top conservatory programs were exceedingly difficult to get in (one of the schools he applied had spots for just five boys), and Columbia was the best school Sam got into and also the most generous in terms of financial aid.
Sam majored in theater arts (acting focus) at Columbia and composed music for and/or performed in multiple campus productions, while also working very hard academically. His graduation with honors—not to mention on time—was also notable, in my mind, as a family accomplishment: by the time I reached the spring semester of my senior year, I had racked up seven incompletes (my main excuse being that I had served as Features Editor of the college newspaper, which is a daily, and therefore required virtually a full-time commitment over two semesters). I did not graduate with my class that May but eventually received my diploma after finishing six of the seven incompletes and taking a couple of courses at SUNY Stony Brook with the great theater theorist Jan Kott. Sam accomplished in his four years at Columbia something I had dreamed of doing but fell way short of: thus, he restored academic honor to the Balzac name!
1.The 7th Grade
The seventh grade was a significant moment to me because everything was changing. As our young minds continued to be molded and shaped by the world, our bodies were in the process of transcending from child to adult. This made the world treat my peers and me differently because we are no longer innocent children. The most trivial things began to concern me. Do people like me? How should I dress? Should I start working out? We are brought to school to learn so much, yet not a soul explained to me why I was having these thoughts, and why everyone else seemed to have them too at that age. Cliques were forming and I had no idea who I was or where I belonged. At this moment I began to question my self-identity and I felt the beginning of society’s ludicrous notions creep into my head. It was bound to be a rollercoaster. I eventually began running cross country and track to be sporty. I created art to be artsy. I was “emo” to be edgy. I tried on all the types of cliques but to no avail. However, all of those things would lead to who I am today, I just didn’t know it.
After the endless phases, I finally graduated from high school and entered college. I still didn’t know who I wanted to be, but the air shifted when I moved from home into a dorm. No one seemed to put as much importance on appearance or groups. There was less pressure on status and more on school. Taking my first philosophy course as a first-semester freshman forced me to consider concepts that I did not know existed. Studying human nature, our morals, virtues and vices made me think about why I ever worried in the first place. I realized I needed to stop wasting time on appearances. I had always acted as the “perfectionist” as a child and teenager, but I felt the strong need to stop obsessing over my thought-up flaws once and for all. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but there was no way to get it out of my mind at that point. Confusion was my middle name.
The overly-stressed freshman girl was put to rest at last and replaced by her older self, almost finished with her third year of college. At the present time, life is now a rollercoaster that only knows one direction: up. The more I thought and the older I grew; I became more certain each day that I could not flourish to become whoever I wanted to be while carrying my childhood obsessions and disorders wherever I went. It became too heavy to carry and too burdensome. I felt held back and restrained; I had to break loose.
Today, I feel that I can go about my day whole-heartedly, doing and saying what makes me happy. Every moment feels like I’m finally with my true self. My soul feels like it’s on fire from the passion I feel from life itself. I feel free to be inquisitive, outgoing, energetic and compassionate. I do not regret my younger self who was self-conscious and depressed, as I don’t believe it was my fault. Even if it was, then I found a way to learn to evolve and push past what I thought mattered. As a society, we are taught to have self-doubt. We live in a world that profits off of our insecurities. I refuse to give up my joys and carefree will to that kind of society. I do my best to help others feel the same by being a friend to them. In our world, what we need is not always what we get; and what everyone needs is a friend and some love … love for yourself, and love for others.