Friday, January 13, 2017

"Skills" by Bill the Basil Plant

The world in which live, school, has dominated my every moment of my life changing what I do and when I do it.  For me I can easily calculate the rate of change in the surface area of a shrinking sphere, yet I cannot cook a meal.  I can write one mean essay, but I do not know how to ask a girl out.

I wake up every morning to do one thing, study.  I study before school, during class, between classes, after school, and I repeat this process 200 some times a year.  I have no sense as how to live because my life has been dominated by school.  My grades today dominate the future college I attend.  From their careers, the Master's Degrees, family, life, everything.  I understand this is a slippery slope fallacy, but it is true to some degree.  I am applying to difficult colleges to get into, and because of this, I am forced to have my grade excessively high.  If even one class slips my GPA will dip and I may not be recognized.

My entire life I have focused on school and never attempted to have a social life.  This is partially due to trying to live up to my sister who applied and is attending a prestigious university.  I know that I am not as smart as her, yet I have missed a large chunk of time that could have been used for fun.  Instead I have isolated myself with my studies and restricted my social contact.  This is ultimately seen as my “love” life is completely non existent.  What kind of person simply skips over homecoming, and prom? This guy apparently.  I have never asked a girl out and now that I wish to, and have no idea how.  What do I say? where do I begin? I am a senior in high school and by this point most people already have some of this figured out, yet here I am yet again alone on a Friday night with nothing, and few to keep me company.  

The realization has just hit me that I am currently in the end of the beginning of my life and all the things that I have done and are doing are about to be snatched out from under me.  Sports? Gone.  Parents? Gone. Long known friends? Gone.  Life as I know it is about to end and I can do nothing as the endless march of time is infinite and to look too far forward one loses sight of now.  This is precisely what has happened to me.  In school I put on a facade of being confident, fun, and had a full life.  Yet this could not be more false.  I am a afraid to do the most simple things in life yet I can easily lead people and help others with a direct topic.  I am not the person I act like I am and how can others judge me for it?  What can I do to change my life? What can I do to be the person I so often act to be? I don’t know.  

After this my life sounds to be in shambles, but it’s not.  I have an awesome family, a good group of friends, and excellent grades.  Yet, I look around at all the facehuggers in the schools and ask myself, why is this not me? Did I trade my social life for the grades that are just numbers and letters on a piece of paper? I never take my grades for granted as I have worked and continue to work to keep the grades as good as they are, yet I often hear stories and see couples cheating on each other and to think that these people find their relationships so menial is hard for me to comprehend.  This coming from a guy who has been “friendzoned” the only times I have ask any girl out.   

I only wish that everything I want to do and achieve could be done in a short time to allow for time that I can do to learn about anything other than that of school.  There is a running joke in my friend group: Taxes? I don’t know what those are but whoo boy let me tell you all about the Pythagorean theorem.  Sad but true, I know this entire depth of knowledge that I will not likely use unless I go into the field.  Yet, the general things we need to know to survive are either lumped into one class or simply skipped over by teachers assuming we already know it.  This includes everything from Taxes and mortgage to healthy cooking and home maintenance.  I know I have missed out and I can not get those times back.  I know now that I need to live every moment to its fullest and not worry too much about the future.  

"Cycle of Tears" by Kelly Shepherd

It starts
One word
One phrase
Or years and years of pressure created by the one
Whos currently cracking
Breaking under the stress it has produced.

The years of As
The years of sticking every dismount
The years of “you are so perfect”
Finally adding up to a young girl

Wanting to live up to the expectations
Wanting to be who they want you to be,
But slowly
Without you even noticing,
They are no longer the ones who want you to be one way or another
It's you.

It’s you
It’s you
You want to be perfect
Because you are used to it
Because without it,
You feel unworthy.

You did everything you could as a child.
Everyone noticed,
You noticed

But now life isn’t so simple,
No longer can you get all A’s,
No longer can you stick the dismount,
No longer do they say “You’re so perfect”

What they don’t realize is by stopping their expectations for you
They are only fueling your own expectations.
You want it back,
You want to hear that you are enough.

But even when your mother tells you everyday that
You are enough,
Even when your Dad tells you everyday that
He is proud of you
You yearn for more

You’ve fallen into the rabbit hole
Surrounded only by your misguided insecurities
And your evil expectations,
You feel alone.

They don’t understand you anymore,
You know in your heart that you’ll feel better if
You just fix yourself and everything you do wrong

You pick up some new habits,
You twirl your hair,
You bite your nails,
You can’t sit still

Your mind is on the run
You never sleep,
Each night your mind brings back every single mistake
Every single word you’ve said

Soon you are filled with regret
For everything you said
For everything you’ve ever done

You cry yourself to sleep every night,
But your dreams are no escape,
You dream of everything that could happen
You dream of deaths
You wake up in tears.

A cycle of tears.
A cycle of pain.

A cycle for perfection.  

Friday, January 6, 2017

“The Hallowed Halls of High School” by Ella Wade

The bell rings. Everyday, it sounds at precisely the right moment. Looking on, you’d see a split second of calm. The halls silent, classroom doors shut. The emptiness seemed eerie. Suddenly, waves of students moved all at once, flooding the narrow hallway. I walked parallel to the wall, weaving in and out of crowds to avoid bumping into others. There are certain days that the crowds are worse than usual.

This was one of those days. Crammed together, movement was futile, only serving to antagonize the rest of the students. I stood, surveying the chaos, shifting in between small gaps, arms pressed up against my sides. I had made it about halfway to the staircase when the shoving began; everyone pushed whoever they could in an attempt to clear a path. Raised voices, frustration, and the scent of sweat combined to create a sense of urgency, as the late bell rung. I made incremental steps in the direction of my class, though I felt consumed by claustrophobia, pressed against others on every side. I was apprehensive about being late, though I’m not sure why. It wasn’t like I would be in trouble, or I would miss anything. I silently moved amongst the crowd, taking in the noisy scene that was in disarray. I didn’t push, nor did I add my own shouts into the mix. That’s what I do. I only watch, never becoming involved unless I must. I prefer to observe on the outskirts rather than participate in the middle of things. I avoid conflict like the plague, fearing confrontation of any kind.

My reaction to the hallway jam was not unlike my typical reactions in life. Whereas most responded with anger, verbally letting out their frustration, I remained passive. I like to believe this is because I am a kind and easygoing person. However, I think that in reality, it is because I give up too easily. In an argument, I am far more likely to back down than to continue the fight. If someone was angry with me I would do everything I possibly could to reconcile. In the hall I make myself as small as I can, shrinking, rather than making my own way. My actions could be compared to such attributes only pushovers or people-pleasers possess. Instead of standing up for myself, I just step aside. Reflecting on experiences such as this has made me realize that it’s time to change. I need to toughen up and defend my beliefs instead of placating those around me. Now, shoving my way through a crowd may not be the best place to start, but I can use this experience to learn and grow in the future.  

"The Fall" by Alex Lasagna

After escaping my prison, I enter through the gates of the cemetery, recalling how my friends had told me to hold my breath when passing through a graveyard, to protect myself from inhaling ghosts or evil spirits. Ridiculous. They’re just dead people underground, without any way to view them. My dulled sensitivity to death and corpses can be attributed to the many TV shows. Out of sight, out of mind. A field of small stones and rocks, nothing more.

The dry concrete road led my shortcut to home. Strolling under a tall oak, kicking seeds out of my way, I enjoyed the solitude of my music. Looking around and deciding no one could hear me, I belt out a few verses to the graves. The names on the headstones flashed through my mind: Dey, Grimes, Jones. I paid them no attention as I rounded the final turn and exited the graveyard.

Leaves pile high on the sidewalk, trapped between cars and a faded yellow wall. People rush to get to where they’re going, disturbing life in their wake. Dying vines curl their way through the cracks, desperately clinging to their roots as the harsh wind huffs and puffs them down. My suede coyote moccasins tread lightly atop the clumps of damp, dead petals.

Once the leaves were magnificent. Following an intense, laborious season, these farmers harvested their sunlight, rushing the energy to feed their king. Day-after-day, without fail, loyalty coursed through the tree like a boiling blood. And when their service was fulfilled, they were repaid with exile. They burned the skies with their explosive infernos. A final fury of their life. A message that they were alive, if only for a season.

Steps became shuffles, disturbing the fallen farmers. A wind awoke, lifting them from their slumber, swirling them through the brisk autumn air. Hands in pockets, I craned my neck to the sky to view the revolution unfolding. A hurricane of leaves swept through the air with a newfound life breathed into their souls. They took to the skies to take back what was rightfully theirs. And for a moment, their dirty shells were shed, and they were their glorious golden selves again. Glints of amber sparkled within them as they flurried around me.

Scurrying across the cement like rats, the leaves clawed at my jeans and clung to my shoes. My wonderment quickly morphed into irritation as I was swarmed and scratched by the mobs of the fallen, like a cloud of bats. Shutting my eyes to protect from the onslaught of debris, I stumbled forward blindly for a moment. I emerged from the storm and brushed off my clothes, bending down to retie an undone shoelace. Straightening up, I turned around and watched the hurricane make it’s way through the sky, a dark cloud of death. I shook my head, letting the leaves fall from my hair, and continued home. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

"My Late Father" by Emily_Fairy1432

As usual, he was late. I stood on the line marked with the number 7 and watched as the once completely full parking lot became increasingly less and less full. As each car drove by me and out towards the road that would take them home, I became extremely irritated by the fact that I should be sitting in the warmth of my dad’s car with my usual peppermint mocha in hand, but instead, there I was standing in the cold with the other lost and forgotten children. I had actually gotten to know those kids quite well as some of them were regulars to the late line just like me. As each minute passed by, my backpack got heavier and my legs got colder as I had made the not-so-smart decision to wear the short socks that day instead of the long ones. I could feel my plaid skirt blowing up from the wind and I watched as it happened to every other girl standing out there, we were all exactly the same, just how St. Joe’s liked it. I waited and waited until finally, twenty minutes later, I saw the oh so familiar red ford escape skrrt around the corner and speed into the now empty parking lot. I would say it took him a brick to get there, but it felt more like a brick and a half to me. I looked at my teacher, who knew the car right away from the amount of times she had seen me get in it late, and she gave me the go-ahead nod for me to proceed, with caution of course, to my ride.

I hopped into the car, took a sip of my coffee, and said, “Well, while we’re still young! Get me out of this prison or convent or school or whatever you people call it these days,” and on that note, he took the usual route and zoomed off towards the road. I was planning on yelling at him, but I did that yesterday and I was so exhausted so I just asked, “Was it golf or a conference call?” to which he answered, “Both.”. Did I know what he meant by this? Of course not, but I didn’t have the energy to care either. This routine was getting very tiring and also very cold as we were just about to break up for the “Holiday” Break (it used to be called Christmas break until the principal realized one Jewish family went to school there so they changed it to Holiday). I told my dad his new year's resolution should be to stop being late when picking me up and he just avoided the topic and told me to go change the radio station to Alt Nation. That’s one thing I will never understand.  How could someone be twenty minutes late to pick up their only daughter, not bring her food, and then tell her change the radio station… TO ALT NATION?! Preposterous. Nowadays, I don’t mind a little Alt Nation here or there but way back in the good ole 7th grade days, I would have rather ripped my ears off. We finally got home another ten to fifteen minutes later and my coffee was already finished. I sprinted inside to take the medieval looking plaid skirt and dark green sweater from hell with the small St. Joe’s logo on the front off of my body. Wow, made it before 4:15, impressive. I finally sat down on the couch in my sweatpants and sweatshirt, did my homework, and ate dinner. Then all of a sudden it was 5:45 and I had to get ready for soccer practice where this would happen all...over...again.

Of course, every time my dad was late I was angry. Who wouldn’t be? But looking back on it now it was something I overlooked. His punctuality wasn’t the best, but it was part of who he was and I have recently realized that his punctuality is also a part of who I am. I, like my late father, am never on time for anything, and when I say anything I mean anything. I’m sure people get just as irritated with me as I did with him, but I can’t help it because it’s just they way I work. My dad and I were always closer than my mom and I were just because we were so similar in so many different respects. It was always us two that held us back when we were trying to leave for vacation or one of us that would forget something crucial at home when going somewhere with a time limit. Then, when he died, it was just me. Now it wasn’t us two forgetting something at home, it was me forgetting something at home and having no one to understand where I was coming from. Of course now, my mom and I are extremely close and I know she loves me immensely, but she doesn’t understand me or how I work because she’s not the same. My mom is the type of person to the be the first one at the family christmas party or get to the gate at an airport before the plane even gets there. I on, the other hand, am the type of person who would show up to the family christmas party just as people were leaving and barely make my plane if  I do at all because as the White Rabbit said, “The hurrier I go the behinder I get,”. I never realized how much I needed someone there like me to understand my thought process until that someone wasn’t there any more. So yes, back in the day I got a smidge annoyed, but I would do anything for my dad to pick me up twenty minutes late with no snacks blasting Alt Nation again.

"Fog" by July 3rd

November 29th. Dense fog blurred my vision. The bright christmas lights, once so merry, were dimmed in constrained joy. A mist coated the light hairs that stood straight up on my arms. I didn’t feel the cold, yet I saw my breath coming out in harsh puffs. The stone steps were soaked, feet pruney. I felt my hair curling as I waited, waited, waited. Neighbors began to step outside, staying under their front stoop. Quick, loud, panicked sirens neared.  A blazing red flash appeared at the top of the street. My eyes welled. I waved my arms, frantic to be unveiled. Pulling to the side, the ambulance squealed to a halt. I dashed up the steps into the brightly lit hall. .Neighbors doors began to close, privacy. A mere 15 feet into the house felt like a long stretch of treacherous hills. The stretcher caught on the steps. The futon was pushed out of the way. The file of life was handed over. Dashing to the medicine drawer I plucked the eight bottles.

Short tests were given, dad failed them all. Hushed whispers and pleas erupted from the corners of the living room. I sat down, reluctant to take my eyes off of him. Shuffling to the head paramedic, I answered the basic questions.

The cabinet, a dark wood with a glass door full of Christmas cheer was now the housing for all of the medications. All of the bottles lined up, a transparent, obnoxious orange. Unpronounceable names, botching them all.

Our quite large living room was spilling with people. Some paramedics filtered out into the hall or the family room. More wandered into the kitchen to scope out the extra meds. Two trucks were outside, full of the equipment. I could still see the brightly lit red fog peeking through the blinds.

First they tried the wheelchair, then the stretcher. He ended up at Reston, transferred to Fairfax. Nonetheless, he was at the hospital and being taken care of, something I could not do.