We asked our staff members to contribute stories about a time in their lives that they were living the #YOLO ideology. These are their stories.

Grace - YOLO Grace Amsden, managing editor:
In the summer after I completed my sophomore year, I went on a Disney cruise that sailed to Alaska. For that trip, the ship would stop in a few ports, one of them being  Ketchikan. When my family looked at the possible excursion stops, my Dad and I discovered that it would be fun to go zip lining. It would be an adventure for the two of us.

 The day for this hair raising journey came quicker than I expected.

 I felt completely brave when I walked onto the bus that would take us to the zip lining center, though when I arrived and had to put on my helmet and special gear to make  sure that I didn’t fall off and die, I returned to my childish behavior, thinking that it would take much more bravery than anticipated to do this. There was no backing out! I  didn’t know the word “YOLO” at the time, but if I did, I’d be saying it to myself. “You only live once! You only live once!”

 Once we were all decorated in heavy, puffy vests that tightened breathing and received a brief talk about the zip lines, our group headed outside, walking up a steep flight of  wooded stairs to our first take off: a ‘practice’ zip line. Practice? Oh, this didn’t look like level 1.

 The string on which we would glide down looked extremely thin. There were cords everywhere. It was oh, so high up! I even heard a bear growl (and I wasn’t daydreaming because there was actually an excursion below the zip lining where tourists could see wild bears).

 After watching other people, my stomach began churning. I didn’t wish to see the remains of the Mickey Mouse waffle I had eaten that morning on the ship. My turn came soon enough. The friendly experts strapped me in, reminded me of what to do, and then I was off.

I journeyed through the next four zip line strings, each getting a little bit higher each time. To top off the experience, there was a 100 foot slide, but it was enclosed. The zip lining was out in the middle of nature: beautiful shades of green took my breath away, not to mention the view of the water from these kinds of heights.

It was one of the greatest, most freeing and daring experiences of my entire life and I hope to do it again.


Pie Hannah Baldwin. reporter:

I’ve never been one to cook. In fact, I hate it. I can remember various dirty looks and upturned noses from traditional mothers whenever I proudly  stated, “I don’t know how to cook.” This was different, though. It was a pie. How hard could it really be?

My older sister Ruth had promised me my own pie if I made it myself. Being the baby of eight, I was excited to think I might get food that was all my  own. I agreed.

The day before Thanksgiving 2014, Ruth and her two sons came over with all the essentials; flour, salt, nutmeg and, most importantly, pumpkin. We  started by making the crust, a rather simple process with pumpkin pie, considering half as much than that for a typical pie like apple or blueberry is  required.

Ruth first rolled out the dough onto flour to keep it from sticking. When I tried the same, it didn’t work as well. My dough stuck to the cutting board and I found myself having to ball it up and roll it out again. Only I shouldn’t have done that.

Ruth turned as she watched me and laughed with surprise. Apparently, rolling out the dough twice spreads out the chunks of butter too much so the crust won’t be as flaky. Live and learn, I suppose.

We laid the crusts out on the pie pans before creating the filler. Nutmeg, sugar, egg, pumpkin and some other ingredients I can’t remember. About this time I had to leave for an appointment with my adviser. When I came back, however, it was my turn.

I returned home and followed the directions my sister gave me for making the filling. Perhaps I didn’t have enough pumpkin or I added too much nutmeg, but it didn’t come out as good as I would have hoped.

Nevertheless, I poured the filling into doughed pie pan and went to place the pie into the oven, which was heated to somewhere around 400 degrees. My mom, as I was placing the pie into the oven, was playing with my nephew behind me. She turned the corner, chasing him and suddenly realized that he had become trapped between me, a hot oven, the counter and the island.

She yelled for him to return to her, but he didn’t listen, thinking she was still playing with him. The 3-year-old backed closer and closer to the open oven, which had my arms extended into it, trying to nimbly place the nearly overflowing pie pan. Sure my mom wasn’t going to make it in time, I quickened my pace, dropped the pan into the oven and turned my leg so my nephew bumped into me and dropped onto the floor.

My heart jumped as I fell towards the oven, the heat rising into my face. All I remember is some sort of blur as my sister grabbed me, pulling me away from the oven. Breathing heavy and close to a minor panic attack, I sat down. The oven was closed and I was quiet.

Eventually the pie was finished and I felt accomplished. I didn’t end up getting it all to myself, though. I realized part of the joy of cooking is sharing it with other people.

Still, with cooking, there’s a reason I don’t do it; YOLO.


shelly piercing Shelly Beraza. social media and web manager

I’ve had one YOLO experience that I can recall, it happened quite a few years ago in a small town called Puyallup. My husband decided he’d finally get his ears gauged,  while I tagged along. Once we got there, I had a tinge of jealousy and decided last minute that I too, needed a piercing. I ended up getting an industrial in my left ear, a  double piercing, because why not?! I still have it all of these years later and I don’t regret it one bit.







Michael Free Jr., reporter
My YOLO experience would have to be when I ate two scoops of frozen mayonnaise in a game at my youth group.

To start off youth group, my youth pastor would usually start off with a couple games, fun stuff to get people comfortable and socially engaged. Tonight’s theme was going to be speed eating games. He got up on the stage and explained the first challenge. It was an ice cream eating contest, where the participants couldn’t use their hands and could only grab the ice cream with their mouths.

I immediately raised my hand. Since I loved ice cream, I figured it’d be easy. Two others volunteered and the contest was set. We all sat down at our bowls and got ready. As soon as he said go, I immediately dove into the bowl and fetched a whole scoop with my mouth, ready to swallow it down so I could move to the other one.

It was then, that I had realized that my youth pastor had lovingly left out one small detail. He didn’t tell us that one out of the three bowls wasn’t ice cream, it was some frozen mayonnaise. Call me lucky, because that was the bowl I got. I knew as soon as it was in my mouth, that it wasn’t ice cream. I didn’t know what it was, but I didn’t like it. Once everyone caught on that it wasn’t ice cream in my mouth, and the pastor informed everyone what it was, they began laughing. At that moment, everyone would have understood if I were to spit out the mayonnaise and quit the challenge.

I decided that I was going to finish to challenge, maybe even win it, because there’s no telling when would be the next time I was in this position.

I shivered as I swallowed down the first scoop whole. The second took longer, now that I knew what it was, my mouth did not want to go through it again. I worked at it, grabbing small bits and forcing it down my throat.

Soon, I was down to the last portions of it. I decided to look over at the other two. They hadn’t finished yet! I caught my second wind and sucked the last scoop of mayonnaise in my mouth, coerced my mouth to slide it down my throat, and then open my mouth to show that I was done. I had won! I couldn’t believe it.

What came next was nothing short of hilarious. My prize for swallowing two scoops of frozen mayonnaise? A Rockstar lemonade energy drink to wash it down.

I knew my stomach was going to give me fits later, but I didn’t care. I popped the top and drank it down like it was a can of sweet victory.


Anna palmer yolo story Anna Palmer, reporter
The last thing we wanted to be doing was kayaking at 11:30 p.m. in the middle of Canada after not having showered for five days sitting in our urine,  feces and sweat day after day. Sure, the sunset hours earlier had been a beautiful stretch of gold, pink and orange that slowly faded to a pinkish-purple  lining the mountains in the distance as we cut through the rough waves, but it now it was cold, pitch black and our muscles were exhausted.

We pulled up to an indistinguishable beach that we soon discovered was infested with slimy toads and skittering mice. We were warned we would be  waking up pretty early to continue kayaking but apparently “early” mean 2:30 a.m. but YOLO, right? After less than two and a half hours of sleep, I was  blindly packing my bag again with my flickering head lamp and carrying kayaks to the cold, dark water.

After kayaking for a few minutes, I began to notice neon green pools of water wherever I paddled. The water seemed to light up everywhere there was movement. I had never seen bioluminescent water, let alone kayaked in it. The experience immediately snapped me out of my zombie-like state. Fish swimming under our kayaks lit up like little green neon lamps and eventually we were laughing hysterically, splashing each other with bioluminescent water at 3 a.m. until the sun rose above the mountains and the green flickers faded. We still had 50 miles to kayak, but after such a beautiful experience, it was something to look forward to because we had just gone for it. Although the word “YOLO” hadn’t been uttered it was definitely a “you only live once,” experience.


Anna Ingram's YOLO picture Anna Ingram, reporter

You only live once.  This was the thought I had when my soon-to-be husband and I were standing in the living room of our tiny one bedroom apartment in Seattle.  It  had been another long day at work for both of us at jobs we both wanted to quit.  We were tired and bedraggled. The time we had left to spend together before bedtime  wasn’t long enough.

“Hey,” I said.  I moved into the kitchen and began preparing dinner, speaking to him over the partition between the two rooms.  “I really love coming home to you  every night.”

He smiled and nodded.  I looked at his face and my heart felt warm.  “What if,” I said, “we got married?”

I set the bowl down I had been holding and looked at him.  He was looking back at me, waiting. “I’d like that very much,” he replied.

That was almost two years and four rings ago now.  We ended up waiting until Oct. 25, 2014 to tie the knot. It was a little over a year after that first conversation. It had been delayed again and again for various reasons; we were too young, we didn’t have enough money, we’d be judged or we’d upset our families.

The day we married, six people, including us, were at the wedding.  We’d applied for the marriage license on somewhat of a whim a few days prior and my mom traveled to Washington from the East Coast for the ceremony.  She was quickly ordained and performed the ceremony herself.

You only live once, although we’re having a second wedding. Despite daunting divorce rates, I’ll probably only be married once as well, to the most genuine human being and excellent chef I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.


Oliver Amyaker
Oliver Amyaker

 Oliver Amayakar, assistant graphic designer

Boys Don’t Cry is an awful movie based on a true story about a transgender boy being persecuted, constantly misgendered, raped and then murdered. Just to make it  worse, there are documentaries about this movie where his mother talks about how much she loved her “daughter” and pictures of his grave which call him by his  birth name and refer to him in feminine terms.

When I watched this movie for the first time in July 2012, I was horrified. I was absolutely mortified. Not just because of how heart-breaking this story was, but  because I realized it could happen to me. I could die any day and the terms people would remember me by would be “daughter” and “sister.” That thought haunted  me.

In that time, I had recently come out to my close friends as being transgender. I was born female-bodied, but I identify as male. It’s something that had been a part of  me for a long time, something I never felt able to express or justify because I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be myself. But my friends accepted me and supported me. It  was very gratifying, but I still had not shared this information with my family.

There’s definitely nothing to make you want to make major life choices for your comfort like realizing that you only live once.

I came out to my mom the night I watched Boys Don’t Cry because I was sobbing by the time she got home. We talked about how I felt and who I was and who I wanted to be. Despite her initially having a hard time, she accepted and supported me. My whole family did, and it was a great surprise, since most people have horror stories about coming out to their family.

That night, I changed my name. A year later, after starting hormone therapy, I changed my name and gender legally. I was fortunate enough to record videos from pivitol stages in my transition, and I’m able to see how much I’ve gone through. These days, I’m never misgendered.

I’m very happy and comfortable living my life the way that I do and not openly being recognized as someone who is transgender. But despite my comfort, it feels disingenuous to hide my identity when my peers in the LGBTQ community have to struggle with their identities and gender presentations every day. I want to be an advocate for this community and be someone who can voice about it and help my peers have the learning ex­perience of knowing someone who is transgender. My perspective is deepened by my experiences and being able to share those experiences and my knowledge with my peers invaluable so we may all learn more about one another and learn to appreciate every life on this planet, no matter how different from your own it is.

After all, you only live once.


Amber Gilliland
Amber Gilliland

 Amber Gilliland, special assignments reporter
When I first started attending Pierce College last year, I came here with the intent of eventually getting a bachelor’s degree in sign language interpreting and having a  career as an interpreter. My dream job, though, has always been to work as a photographer and possibly a writer for a music magazine.

Many people told me that my dreams were just that; dreams – and that I probably won’t make it as a photographer. They said that I needed a more realistic goal and  that I should get my degree in something more practical. Unfortunately, I listened to these people and put my photography career on the back burner.

In high school, I took three years of sign language classes and really enjoyed it. I thought that being an interpreter was a practical, high paying job so I set my sights  on being an interpreter.

When I got to Pierce to begin my degree, I had the opportunity to take classes in subjects that I really enjoyed, such as journalism. The longer I studied here, the  more I starting accepting the fact that my heart just wasn’t into being an interpreter. Sign language is an amazing language and is something that I’ll always enjoy,  but I don’t want to do it everyday for the next 40 years and eventually become sick of it.

Towards the middle of this past quarter, I made the decision to switch majors and go for what I really enjoy doing. It’s my life and I realized that I was letting other people make decisions for myself. It may not be the easiest field to get into but it’s my passion and I’m going to do everything in my power to be successful.


15693050305_dcf8ddee63_o Mel Brisendine, photographer
In October of last year, my high school band had a football game on the day of Halloween. Our band director decide that for half-time we could dress up, appropriately  of course, and perform a Halloween themed half- time show. This was the first themed half-time show other than our competition performance in all the time I was at  school. I believe we  learned it in two days.

We performed the songs Thriller, Monster Mash and our closer was Time Warp. At the beginning we ran out screaming to the middle of the field. We ended up  dancing in our pumpkin and a haunted house formations. At the last note of Time Warp we all fell to the ground and stayed there for about a minute, and when we  heard our cue we ran off the field screaming.




Kevin Boatz
Kevin Boatz

 Kevin Boatz, print/online reporter
It was winter quarter 2014 and I was a new student at Pierce College. After walking through the halls a few times, I started to take notice of the various posters hung  up by clubs and the Office of Student Life. One colorful poster advertising Pierce College’s first annual drag show stuck out to me. I was free during the time and date  it was planned and so I figured that I would give it a go.

Being one of the first Pierce College events I had attended, I was pleasantly surprised by the free food and drinks offered. Those performing were also very talented. I  ended up staying for nearly the entire time and enjoyed the whole experience. Since then, I have tried to make it to as many Pierce events that I can and always end  up having a great time.




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