Working Hard or Hardly Working

Working Hard or Hardly Working


Here is one thing that doesn’t help in anyway at all, it’s unproductivity/laziness. Most people find me to be a lazy person. My friends do and sometimes they can’t trust me to complete a task that I am not totally good at doing. I often hear teachers say that haven’t met my potential yet and occasionally lack focus. My mother, the one who keeps watchful eyes over me even through all her work will say that I am a heavy procrastinator. I think that it’s all true and I hate to admit it, but it has become apart of me that I really wish to change. It’s not that I don’t want to be associated with laziness, it’s just that I don’t want to be defined by it. I don’t think that I am totally a “lazy” person, but I think that I have a really big issue with procrastination. This is a big problem for me at school and I can sometimes get my priorities mixed up with other minute things at or after school.

I remember one day during my sophomore year, I was in a really heated debate within a group chat. I was so concerned about such a minute discussion that I ended up missing the whole lesson. This wasn’t the first time that something like this happened either but it severely screwed up the rest of my day. I was bombarded with work due the next day with a few big assignments that would take a while, and on top of that I had the work that I didn’t understand at all because I was so unfocused in class. That night was horrible since I had to stay up until around 2 o’clock to get the Majority of it done but I ended up having to withhold my Rosetta Stone work for the next day. The day after that couldn’t have been enjoyable either because I had to use my time in an out of classes to keep up with Rosetta. The rest of the week was like this; trying to finish an assignment close to deadline while ignoring the work I should have my focus on. Rinse and repeat. This isn’t an effective method either as my grades have stooped to averages that I would never thought that I could get, I feel like I have a legitimate problem weather it be my academic, sports or social objectives. I understand that “school come first” but sometimes I feel like school can wait, I know this type of thinking will destroy my academic progress but I do have a way to help with that.

I have this one medication that helps me focus, well I hope it helps me focus, I often can’t tell if it is. I’ve been taking the vyvanse pill for about 5 or 6 years and I don’t like talking about it, this makes me feel like I need someone or something there to help me do things that other people can do without any meds. I don’t want to make this a ADD/ADHD speil but it makes me feel like I am constantly in need of help. I hate this feeling and at times it makes me feel like I am weak and inferior because of it. It’s weird, to feel like you are less than the students right next to you because you need to put forth more effort to keep up with them, and this happens a lot during my english/writing classes.

I don’t really have a personal problem with writing, but writing about something personal is the problem. I hate exposing myself, it makes me feel as if I’m naked. Everything that I normally hide, is now out on display; what scars I have, last weeks bruise, the one pimple that I can’t seem to reach or destroy, even the weakest and deepest sections of my mind and body. To me writing from the heart can feel like showing everyone one more important piece of info needed to eliminate Genero Accooe from the competition for best life achievements. I literally deleted like eight to fifteen sentences from this exercise so far . I Have stopped typing to bite my nails and fingers like 30 times.  I know that everyone probably feels this way, but at this point my insecurities now have a significant amount of power over me. My mom has told me many times before that I can’t let my self conscious get the better of me, but I can’t help but think about what others would from me. I need the approval of others, with everything like the way I may dress to the way I talk. I don’t need a verbal response to tell when something can come off as awkward, dumb or confusing, it usually comes from the way someone may look at me during a conversation or just plain old body language. This event has an effect on my writing; slowing it down, forcing me to go back and rethink my ideas regardless of if they were going in the right direction or not.

I know that it may seem like I have got myself stuck in a black hole that I will never escape, a cruel curse of self harm, and a credit card debt that  may never reach zero but this will not happen. I am getting better and better, this doesn’t mean I have never faced hardwork in my life though. I have had four jobs since the beginning of my freshman year and completed all of them with good remarks from my higher ups and shows that I am not totally unproductive and that I do have what it takes to live a more productive lifestyle. I feel like I have learned from my past mistakes, even if I feel like I am the only one who has times like these I now I stop and think. I think of my many friends that have a learning disability as well and that for us this is normal, this life and I’m going to have to move forward knowing that this will only help me become a better more productive person, I wanna be like Gucci Mane, Pharrell Williams, Will Ferrell, Charlie Brown. Anything but a Garfield.


Advanced Essay #2 [My thoughts on Freedom of speech]

Introduction: I’m hoping some people would agree with my passage and I think i would improve more details and write down more to the passage. I’m proud of the many things I wrote down relating to freedom of speech.

Advance Essay 

       If we didn’t have freedom of speech many books that are here today would be burned and many people wouldn’t know how to read. We would only have to take classes to know how to speak or read properly. Most countries around the world still won't allow violent books, games, or movies due to mature themes. In America it’s okay to make any type of entertainment they want. If dictionaries were not invented people will just have to figure out what other definitions mean. Instead of book burning there is only age restrictions to warn young kids about graphic content. If book burning still existed the authors would feel that they spent their hard work on nothing; just a pile of ashes. Freedom of speech is not just about talking freely you can also have free action expressing more about yourself and other things. Museums may contain things that aren't suitable for children, but museums are for the public 
and it’s considered freedom of speech given by artists and architects.
      Peaceful protest is allowed because it involves using words, not fists. If you live downtown or in the philadelphia area you start seeing tons of murals and public art everywhere you go. Most of the murals you see contain messages about the world of other topics. There is a yearly event called Burning man a place where you can express yourself in many different ways you can where whatever you want and do whatever you want to do, but if you want to travel around the place, you are going to need a bike. What I've noticed In my childhood, is that you can say certain things at a certain age. I wasn’t supposed to say or learn about adult phrases until I was 14 years old. Me and my dad had a “sex talk” and what diseases it can bring, and the safety of sex. He mentioned it in his car while we were on our way to a christmas event downtown Me and my brother were giggling with discomfort. In conclusion, Without freedom of the speech we would never have the things we have in our country.

Works Cited

GILMAN, CHARLOTTE PERKINS. YELLOW WALLPAPER. INWOOD COMMONS PUBLISHING, 2017.


Best Personal Essay

Reconnecting With My Culture:

When I was two years old, my dad decided to move to the United States with my brother and I in search of a better future. I frequently went back to visit and see my family members, but after a while, I stopped going. I spent 4 years in the U.S without going back to the Dominican Republic, until this past summer I finally did. 
“Bienvenidos a Santiago, Republica Dominicana”, welcome to Santiago, Dominican Republic, the pilot said over the loudspeaker as the excited passengers clapped with joy. 
“I can’t believe its been 4 years,” I thought to myself 
I stood up, got my luggage from the overhead compartment and began heading out. As soon as I stepped out of the airplane and into the airport, I felt the heat hug my body as I carried my suitcase to the immigration line. When I approached the lady tending the flyers I was expecting a woman who hated her job and who wanted to just get through the day. To my surprise, I was greeted by this extremely hospitable lady. She asked  me how I was doing and how my flight was, why I’m here and if I’m excited.  There were many people like this lady all around the airport. The overall ambient was completely different from anything that I had experienced in Philadelphia airports. After going through the entire process of immigration and getting my luggage,  I began walking out to the doors of the exit in the airport. As soon as I stepped out, there were big groups of families waiting for their loved ones. Families with old children and small children, even babies. All grinning from ear to ear. I scanned the outside of the airport and was able to locate my aunt, who brought my two cousins and my uncle with her. 
The ride to her house was a bit awkward. I hadn't seen them all in nearly five years, so it was hard to make conversation, especially with my older cousin. Last time I saw her she was starting high school, and now she was talking about her college major. So I just stared out the window, taking everything in. One of the first thing I noticed, pretty odd, was how the girls wore their hair. Back home, I never wear my natural hair out. Just seeing other girls with perfect curls or perfect straight hair made me feel somewhat ashamed of my frizzy waves, so I tried my best to hide it. In all honesty I was scared. One time a few years ago I tried wearing my natural hair out, but someone called me Einstein, and ever since I don't wear my natural hair out of the house. But the girls here wear it out loud and proud, my older cousin being one of them. I asked her if she ever tried straightening it and explained to her everything I do to my hair to mask the naturalness and she looked at me strange.  Nevertheless, I went back to looking out my window for the rest of the hour long car ride. 
Upon arriving to my aunts house, I was greeted by a delicious home cook meal. And my entire family sat around me at the table, even if they weren't eating, and we caught up on the last 4 years of our lives. After eating, I was able to walk to my other aunts house. The town was so small you could walk everywhere. As I walked with my cousin, many people I didn't recognized recognized me from my childhood. They always started with the line “I carried you when you were a baby”. The next few hours was spent walking to my family members houses and greeting everyone, which was extremely exciting. The entire ambient was so different and I had forgotten how much I loved it, in a way it was like a culture shock. The spanish was faster, laughs were louder and the love immense. It was baffling to me how I felt so at home in place I hadn't seen in nearly 5 years. 
Over the next two weeks of my stay, I visited beaches, pools, and beautiful Dominican Republic Landmarks. I was really great to be able to get back to my roots and connect more with my culture. Philadelphia is so different that it is extremely easy to forget where you come from. I often find myself trying to blend in and lose track of where I really come from and coming back gave me a chance to enjoy all of the amazing aspects of my culture. The authentic food, the music, and the people. Two weeks wasn’t enough to experience it all. 
The day to go home came in the blink of an eye. I was enjoying my stay so much, I completely lost track of time. The morning of, just like the day that I arrived, I said my goodbyes to my family members, except this time instead of crying happy tears, I was sad. I packed my things and again, my two cousins, my uncle and aunt al drove me to the airport. The hardest goodbye was my older cousin, Lala. We had grown very fond of one another. When we were younger we were like sisters, but the distance in location created distance in our relationship. The time together reconnected us. Saying goodbye to her was hard because I didn't know when I would see her again. Ater my goodbyes in the airport, I walked through the same doors once exited, but in a way I was a different person, with more confidence in myself. The plane ride seemed never ending. All I could think about was how I didn’t appreciate my stay more and how I wanted so desperately to stay for longer.
 After 4 hours, I was back in the U.S. I got my suitcase and exited the plane. I went through immigration and I was faced with a lady who seemed like she hated her job. I left the airport and no longer saw the families waiting for their loved ones. No one even got out of their cars. I felt out of place one again, but this time in my own home.

Independent or Not?

Jason Lam

Ms. Pahomov

English 3

5 January 2018


I like to think of myself as bright, smart, funny, a video gamer, a procrastinator, friendly, optimistic, resourceful, curious, accident prone, slow, organized, and independent. Being independent in life without the support or help of others is a big stepping stone for me. As a visually impaired person, I need help and support from my family, teachers, and supervisors. Of course now that I’m now a lot older than I was when I first became visually impaired, I am more capable of doing things and doing them by myself, but I’m lagging behind where I really should be on my independency. I was very lucky to grow up in a pretty big family where the adults did everything from mopping the floor, laundry, to cooking, and cleaning the bathroom. My brother and I didn’t really do any type of chore during our early childhood so we weren’t all that experienced in everyday chores. I’m not saying we didn’t do any chore or helped at all, but we weren’t really required to do them. Since I’ve been lucky to have others doing things for me, it was a hard transition from having people doing everything for me to being independent and doing things myself. One thing that comes with being independent is trust, specifically parent trust. My parents are not the most outgoing parents. They are caring and supportive to me. They are also very protective, maybe overprotective. One thing I wanted to change this year, for school, was transportation.

(Our conversation was in Chinese, so here is what it basically translates too)

“Mommy?” I asked.

She was looking at her ipad, and sitting on the floor. She replied, “Hmmm?”

I looked at her and said,“Why can’t I go on the subway to school?”

“There is no why.” she plainly said. She still kept looking at her ipad.

I grew annoyed with her reply. She always says this whenever I ask her why questions on a subject she doesn’t want to argue about or go into because she thinks it’s a waste of her breath. Tonight’s subject was about my change in transportation I made with my braille teacher/supervisor.

So I said, “Yes why!” “Why don’t you want me to go to school by myself?”

She finally looked up and said in a pretty calm yet bold voice, “We’ve had this conversation already. I don’t want you to take the subway to school because no one can watch you. Besides, when it gets cold in winter, there will be snow and ice that you will have to pull your school bag through, and you can slip and fall on the ice. Also, you have to wake up earlier to catch the subway, and it is more convenient and better for you to take the taxi to school.”

Even though she did make some good arguments, I still argued back with her. “But I can handle the cold, and I haven’t slipped on ice once in my entire life yet.”

“That doesn’t mean it won’t happen.” she rebuttled.

I looked at her with growing anger. I’ve always hated that I never got to do what I wanted to do. Yeah, sure, some people might consider a taxi as a luxury to a walk or SEPTA ride to and from school, but it’s really not.  

I said ”But the taxi is really terrible! The driver speeds, calls on the phone while he’s driving, curses and shouts at drivers that drive too slow for him, crosses red lights, and when it picks me up from school, it’s late.

I remember the time during my freshman year when I was waiting for the taxi, but it was late for some pathetic reason. I had waited for over 40 minutes for it when I decided to leave and head to my mother’s salon which was nearby. Boy was everyone annoyed with me.

“How come?” she questioned.

“I don’t like it when I hate to wait for the taxi because they’re late. They even lie about why they’re late too!” Unbelievably, the driver does lie about why he’s late. Once, I overheard him talking to a client on the phone about why he was late to pick them up.

“I’m sorry, traffic is just so bad.”

He said this as he was driving through an empty street! He wasn’t late because of traffic, he was late because he wasbiting off more than he could chew! He had so many clients that he couldn’t keep up with his schedule and just blames innocent traffic for his lateness. That’s why I don’t believe a word he says about why he’s late, he’s taking more clients than he can handle.

“That was just an honest mistake. Besides, you need to be more patient, son.” she said.

Be more patient? Is she kidding me? Would anyone wait for a taxi that is almost an hour late? Tell me if that is being impatient! I waited over 40 minutes before I decided to leave.

“He’s also driving me to school late now.”

“ Did you tell the office that you were late because it was the taxi?”

“I did, but I can’t keep on saying that!”

“Why not? If you’re late because of the taxi, then you got to tell them it was the taxi’s fault you were late and not you. “

“Ugh. I don’t think my teachers will keep on doing this for me every single day.”

She looked up at me and just gave me an expression that said all too clearly that she wasn’t going to change her mind no matter what excuse I told her.

So that was an unpleasant conversation I had with my mother a while back.

Still up to this day, I have SEPTA as my transportation to and from school and not the taxi. I’m not regretting my choice to switch even though it is pretty frigid and slippery outside, but sometimes and definitely before I switched, I did vacillate whether I made the right choice. Being independent is a hard thing for me even though I’m older now. Always having help and support at my fingertips was as regular as it could be. Of course, I’m not saying I’m ungrateful, in fact I’m actually happy that I had an easier childhood than most other kids in a responsibility sense. But on the downside to becoming an adult, I became really dependent on others helping me. I guess it’s never bad to ask for a lot of help, but is there a such thing as asking for too much help? Sometimes I do feel that way. I feel that sometimes when I ask questions or for help too much. It makes me feel guilty inside. It is a goal for me to be capable and confident of myself to do things that would otherwise require me to seek help.

YES, I know, it’s never a bad thing to ask for help, but it’s also never bad to do things yourself!


Admittance is the First Step

When I was in 5th grade, I got my first C ever in writing, which was a subject I struggled with. I don’t remember how it happened. I don’t count it as a huge thing for me. I don’t know why, but I could never really tie any significance to it. I remember feeling really upset about it. I don’t think I have had a report card without a C since, which I guess never really seemed to bother me. I used to be a star student. It’s not like I lost motivation or stopped caring, things just were never the same. Everything changed for the worse. Every year since then my life has seemed to get progressively worse and worse in every way possible.

That’s the version of the story I tell myself...and only myself because I don’t tell this to anyone until now. Maybe if I did it wouldn’t have taken me so long to realize what actually happened. Here’s the real story: I got my first C in 5th grade. It happened to be in writing because I struggled to write that piece and turned it in late. I saw it coming, but when I saw it in black-and-green I think it did something to me. It was very devastating and discouraging. I haven’t had a report card without one since and that’s extremely embarrassing for me to admit. I used to be a star student. I became careless and had less drive to be that star student. I had a lot going on internally and externally and was excused in many ways because of that. I think I really got comfortable with hiding behind them, because facing the actual problem would have been really hard to do. Because of this, the school aspect of my life has suffered incredulously and that in turn negatively impacted all the other aspects of my life.

I guess, you could say I began to give up on getting back to a place where I was satisfied with my academic standing because it seemed unachievable, and still does. It’s not until something motivates me that I start to gain momentum and get back on my feet pursuing school work and activities. I fall into the same slump over and over and over; it’s a vicious cycle that I can’t seem to free myself of.  The cycle usually goes like this: I get an assignment, something substantial like an essay checkpoint. I spend a few minutes trying to come up with an idea of what I’m gonna do (I’m usually unsuccessful in my endeavors). I tell myself I’ll get around to it later and then for whatever reason, I don’t and it’s not until a few days after it’s due that the pressure sets in and I’m able to finish the assignment. I usually work well under pressure, but my problem is that pressure sets in too late. I have become comfortable, in a sense, with underperforming. When I started high school I recognized that I was entering a world different than the one I was accustomed to in grade school. I set expectations pretty high for myself in a sense. I told myself I got this because confidence is key and I knew that if I went in feeling like I would fail I would. At the same time, I recognized that it wouldn’t all be smooth sailing and that things would get hard at times when it came to school; that I would turn in a handful of assignments late and even get the occasional bad grade. The only thing that mattered was that I would bounce back and get back on track.

Freshman year was a lot harder than I was prepared for it to be. It started off just as great as I thought it would be. My first assignment was in English 1. I had to write a 350-word essay on how my past shaped who I was at the time, which is nothing compared to the 1200 word essay I’m writing now, but back then it seemed like a lot. However, because I was so determined to take high school head on, I didn’t even flinch. That night, I finished it in under an hour and turned it in the next day, no problem. I didn’t have to think about it, I just did it and I was proud of my work. Looking back that might have been the best and most confident I’ve felt in my entire high school experience. As time went on, it got a harder to stay on top of things-and it showed. My grades went from looking the best they had since 5th grade to looking worse than they ever had before in a matter of months. Still, I told myself it was an adjustment period and I was having trouble adjusting. I had plenty of time to grow and make up for it. It’s only my freshman year...but sophomore year didn’t prove to be  any better either…

I decided that junior year was going to different. I wasn’t going to mess up because I couldn’t afford to. I had one last chance to fix all the damage I had done in the past 2 years and I was determined to be successful.  Everything was going to be perfect...and it was...for a month. Then piece by piece it all fell apart, again. I had a lot of things contribute to that. I kept using surface solutions, like completing an assignment or two, but that didn’t stop the work from piling up. I wasn’t getting to the root of the problem and so I fell behind over and over and over again. I play it back in my mind and can see everything slowly unravel, piece by piece dropping like the petals on the wilting rose from Beauty and the Beast. Like it was nothing, the delicate, magical flower my motivation was, wasted away to nothing more than a stem. I couldn’t see that that was the problem, though, which made it hard to it solve it.

I was determined to hold on to and maintain the results of my hard work, but they still suffered a little bit. However, I managed to end the quarter with grades I haven’t seen since my freshman year, which was a little comforting. That comfort was short lived, though, as my grades began to drop like flies again. This was for more than one reason, but one of them was that I got lazy and I’m paying for it as I write this essay, up to my neck in overdue assignments. Only, difference is I am here, admitting out loud that my lack honesty with myself is a problem that I need to acknowledge and work on. Hopefully, now that I’ve done that, I can

move past it and learn how I can break this cycle. I realize there are times where I’ll back into old habits, but I will have to figure out a way to overcome it, which is gonna be easier now that I can see what the problem is. I can now learn and grow from this and it’ll only help me prepare to get through the problems I will come into contact with.

Admittance is the first step. I was taught from an early age that it is very important that I take responsibility for my decisions and actions. Learning that lesson took longer.  

At first, it was easy. All I had to do is tell mommy that I broke the vase accidentally. However, as I got older, the stakes got higher and honesty got more complicated for a lot of other reasons. Sometimes it’s hard to face the truth, especially when it reveals the parts of myself I’m least proud of and intent on keeping under wraps. I found that I even lied to myself… and that can get dangerous, though, because, if I believe it, it can influence the way I see a situation. That snowballed into a mess of things that could have been avoided if I had just been honest with myself.


Best Personal Essay

https://www.wevideo.com/view/1050040659

I tried to walk, but I couldn’t move. My arms and legs froze. I couldn’t feel anything. Thoughts racing through my head. I tried to breathe. Nothing came. I tried again. And again. The air slowly eased its way into my lungs. My body started to slowly come back. My mind as well.

Then I was aware of where I was, standing in the middle of the hallway. Supposed to be on my way to my 9th grade History. What had just happened? I felt my entire life flash before my eyes. I continued walking down the hall until I made it to my seat. I inched my head onto the desk. In that moment I couldn’t stand. My body was weak and tired. My legs shook. What just happened?

Eventually, I came to understand that I had an anxiety attack. Not my finest moment. Didn’t realize what it was  until I was told by my parents weeks later. My whole life got to my head. School, family, friends. Everything. Everyone always says the things you care about the most will hurt you. To be specific, what affected me so much was the constant changes in my daily life. In school I would be on track one minute, then the next I would miss a major assignment. Family is just too complicated to keep up with. Friends’ drama makes me want to never talk to them again. I wonder what it would be like to leave all those things behind. Throw it all away, and focus on myself. All of these things try to define me, and determine what I am supposed to be. How do they know who I am supposed to be if I don’t even know who that is?

Determining who I am is extremely important. I feel hellish heats roll over me when someone tries to tell me who I am, and tries to show me who I should be. Nitpick at me like some kind of play doll. Well guess what buddy, I’m not. This is my life. No one else's.

I remember sitting there. Hearing the loud voices in my ears. Not knowing what they were saying. Not realizing who was saying what. Until I found myself sitting in my bed regretting everything. Slamming my hand back and forth. Making little dents on my wall. Thinking about what just happened over and over again. I need to get my life together? What is wrong with me? My life? I am really that bad of a son? That bad of a person? Who are you to tell me any of that? Who is anyone to tell me? I am who I am. Deal with it. Instead of trying to improve myself for later, I just make it worse by resenting everyone and everything..

Everything may seem fairly confusing. I know it may not be making a lot of sense. Trust me, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me. It’s hard to walk through life not knowing who you are, what you are going to do, and how you are supposed to turn out. It really doesn't help when you have everyone around telling you who you are, what you are going to do, and how you are supposed to turn out. They have to make it as difficult as possible for you to make a decision for yourself. What if I don’t want to do what you tell me to? What if I want to do my own thing?

They say because you care about them you have to stand down and listen to them. I can’t just do that.

I couldn’t do that for anyone. Including my friend from middle school. He wanted me do what he told me, and I had to be who he wanted me to be. Except he moved away. When he left. I didn’t know what to do. I worshipped him. He was like a brother to me. I fell apart at first. Didn’t think I’d ever have another friend again. I tried to talk to him as much as I possibly could. Fell into a rut in the process. I didn’t talk to anyone else. Didn’t socialize. My friend ruined my life.

Eventually I had to move past the fact that he moved to the other side of the country. At this point I was completely introverted, and didn’t see the point. I was ready to live out the rest of my life like this. Until I found a new group of friends. Kids that didn’t care who I was. Guys that will treat like an equal. So, I stayed in that friend group. We hang out everyday. I noticed a significant change in myself. I wasn’t afraid to do what I wanted to do. Didn’t have to listen to my friends. It was all me.

The summer before 10th grade my old friend came to visit, and check in. He came over and we hung out for a while. Did some stuff we used to do. He seemed to have changed. He was a kinder person than he was before. I was happy for him. I had the feeling that he found what he was looking for in life. Just wish I could do the same.

The last day he was here, we took a walk to his old house. The air was warm, and sweat poured down my face. We walked for hours. Until finally he was picked up by his parents because he had to catch his plane. We said our goodbyes. It was funny actually. The last thing he said to me made me laugh. He said, “Lose my number, I don’t like the person you’ve become”. The engine of the car slowly turned out, and drove away. Blowing all the dust in my face. I stood there. Couldn’t feel my legs, my arms were motionless. My breath slowly came out. All of a sudden I started to laugh. I couldn’t stop. I fell to the ground. What had just happened? I remember thinking that after almost three years of growth, I still am being told what I am doing wrong. People telling me who I am supposed to be. I thought my friend had changed. Had grown into a new and better person, just like I had.

Nowadays. I couldn’t care less about that kid. Don’t even consider him a friend. I haven’t spoken to him in a good year. I get the occasional text from him asking how I am, but I never reply. Friends and Family are an important element of finding who I am supposed to be. However, their job is to support me. They shouldn’t judge me. Family and friends will almost always be there, but if they cannot stand back and let me choose then I don’t want them there.

I have no clue who I wanna be. The kinda person I want to grow into or the kind of life I want to pursue. Just because I don’t know doesn’t mean it should be handed to me. If you don’t like how I act or talk then don’t talk to me. Or like my old friend, move all the way across the country. Doesn’t matter who I am as long as I’m the person I was meant to be.


Changing Self



The clock strikes a minute after midnight. January 1st 2016. As the music from my parents annual party blast from the floor under me.  I stick my head out the window and inhale the fresh 2016 air. It’s cold and stings my skin but I don’t care. I hear a knock on my bedroom door,

“Come back down and get something to eat before I eat it all.” says my little sister before I hear her running back down the steps. Before I go, I turn off all my lights and get down on my knees to  pray,

“Heavenly father please make these 6 months go by fast so I never have to be in this horrible school again. These last 4 months were the worst months of my life. Thank you for sending my abusers away forever. Amen.” I finished my prayer and walk back downstairs to the party. It’s bright with life.   Relatives catching up by the silver fireplace. Family friends sip on Merlot and rock their body´s to the slow beating music. My parents are in their own world because this day 22 years ago was the day they made their love official.


“Happy anniversary babe.” My dad says, kissing my mom intensely. She replies “Happy anniversary Dave, 22 years down , a lifetime to go.” They kiss again. I watch the setting and become unusually happy. I come back to my daunting reality and realize less than 72 hours from now i'll be back in the place that caused me more pain then a lifetime.  A dark cloud parks himself on top of my head. They may be gone but their souls, words, and actions will always linger in the halls. The rest of the night is a blur and when it's almost over the last dance of all the couples begin.  As their wedding song comes to an end so does the party


What are you doing New Years? New Years Eve.”


3 days later I’m back in the hallways of building 21 scared lonely and anxious. I don’t go to class because I know  I won’t learn anything and don’t want to be subjected to the verbal abuse. I need to be a quiet spot.  I walk down the hallway eyes on the floor at all times. The observers talk about the events that transcended. They will not forget. I can feel my peers burning their eyes into me. They see right through me.


“I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.” a muttered voice says.  I finally exhale, someone sympathizes me.


“That bitch deserved it. She’s dumb as fuck. Next time instead of letting her fake ass friends pipe her head up she shoulda walked away. She bout it but she ain’t bout it.” They both laugh. I keep walking and finally find a quiet enclosed place. My emotions are so mixed up and confused and so I begin to write. Writing has always been my source of tranquility, my escape from whichever sad predicament I face at that moment. It helps me think but sometimes I drown in my thoughts. My “friends” told me to be tough or I couldn’t hang with them. So I was tough.  I remember that day exactly.  My friend and i were sitting at a hallway table doing our homework. Suddenly Gina appeared,giving both my friend and I the evil eye. I look at her and remember when we first best friends.How did we get here?


“Do you want to fight?” I asked sitting up straight in my seat.  


“Tai if she touches you Imma fuck her up” my friend says looking back down at her phone carelessly. Gina laughs.


“You won’t do anything , we can fight after school” she states, rolling her eyes and storming away. My friend and I both laugh, because in remembrance the last time Gina fought someone she lost without even thinking about.  Later that day, school is out and Gina & I are fighting. Kids circle around us, recording laughing and yelling. How did I get here? We keep fighting and I win. Suddenly , her aunts appear and they all decide to fight me at once. All of them well beyond 20 years of age. Where were my friends now? I look and see they’re sitting down on some person’s step observing. Then it was over. I left with a migraine and temporary blindness in my right eye. Later on that night, I lay in my wooden bed and drown in my endless thoughts.


“Why did  I fight her? I don’t even like to fight. In times of need why didn’t the people who I worshipped and thought would be there for me weren’t?” I only fought that girl because that's what my friends told me to do. A year before that I would never really fight anyone because I thought it was unnecessary but the people who I was friends with last year never wanted to fight. That's when I realized that the transition from going to middle school to high school didn’t just change physically. But the people, settings and feelings did. Around my middle school friends fighting was not a thing. We were having too much fun to be fighting but when I got around different people in high school all they cared about was fighting. They loved it, they gained a high off of it. Watching two people fight for no apparent reason. Or in my case fighting multiple people at once. I knew some things had to change. Not them but me.


“You can’t sit here, go find a empty classroom to sit in ma’am.” Says a hallway monitor. I come back to reality. As I grab my stuff and leave the small corner area I was sitting in trying to avoid any human interaction. I realize the change I speak of is already happening.  I isolated myself from everyone. I ignore everything whether its positive and negative. It's wonderful. The remainder of the 6 months until Im gone from that place goes by slowly at first, because I’m not used to isolation and being quiet all the time. Friendless and alone wasn’t me but then overtime it was. It felt good. Observing everyone else’s unnecessary drama unfold and it was unfolding what seemed like every day. As the year comes to an end and I regained happiness and anticipation that I will never have to step back into building 21 again.  


Ahmed's Personal Essay

In the late spring of 2011, my siblings, my mother, and I all moved to Al-Khartoum, the capital of the Sudan. Both my parents decided it would be best for them to have a divorce, completely forgetting about the impact it would have on my siblings and I. We were already going to the Sudan for the summer and they insulted my knowledge and said that we have to go now since there aren’t anymore tickets available in June and the tickets would also be a lot cheaper.

I played along even though I was already fully aware of the situation. I already knew my parents were going to get divorced but I was always scared of my dad so I had no choice but to play along and act stupid and unaware of what’s going on, especially when it comes to grown-up stuff. So we landed in the Sudan and everything seemed very normal when we came in contact with the family whom I haven’t seen in 2 years. Everyone was happy to see us, my grandmothers, and aunts showered me with kisses, they carried our luggage to the car, and of course, asked us how we were. Like every other time they see us.

About one month later I started attending Al-Mughtaribeen school, which means the school of the Expatriates. A school where almost every student is Sudanese from a country outside of the Sudan. At that time I didn’t know that much Arabic. But after 2 months in that school, I’ve learned to read and speak Arabic fluently and that’s when I started loving Sudan. I became very interested in the Sudanese culture and history.

I’ve always loved the kind Sudanese people and loved them more and more by the second. The Sudan has over 200 different ethnic groups all over the country and Khartoum is the city where these people from different parts of Sudan come to because it’s a tourist spot and a modernized city, the new world basically. My ethnic group is called the Shawayga, so I’d be a shaygy. Shawayga are from northern Sudan and carry on the bloodline of the original Sudanese, Nubians. There are over 50 different tribes today in the Northern state of Sudan, Al Shamaliya. Every part of Sudan excluding Khartoum belongs to the ethnic group and each land has many different cities which are the territories belonging to the ethnic groups’ leader or nubian prince/princess. I am a shaygy from Al-Barkal, which was one of the greatest parts of Sudan, known for its pyramids, nubian temples, and the great mountain of Al-Barkal. Both my parents are from there but my father was in Khartoum since he was a toddler after his father moved to khartoum to find a better job.

Because of our heritage, I visit Al-barkal almost every holiday and break. I stay with mother’s family and I enjoy it very much since everyone in the village is family and everyone is kind, caring, and amusingly funny. But there is one exception. Many lands in the Northern state of Sudan, Al-Shamaliya is filled with Syrian, and Egyptian refugees which we call Halab.

In Al-Barkal, the elders of the village decided to allow them to stay in our village and built many homes for them to live in but they were all built in the very end of the village to help avoid any problems.

After a while, the halab have gained the trust of the shawayga of Al-barkal and the elders allowed them to start buying crop lands to grow their food and leave their farm animals there. After some time passed, many reports of stolen crops and farm animals, such as chickens, and sheep have arised. The elders then decided to have night watchers all over the farmlands to catch and make sure it was the halab.

The first night was a success. 4 halab tennegaers all around the age of 16 were caught. They were brought to the Barkal Conferences’ room building-similar to a Cubical building, and all the elders and men who are involved with these type of situations were called to the conference room and the matter was handled then and there.

After that incident, the people of the Village were raged with anger and disgust and there have been many fights and arguments between the halab and the shawayga have raised. Within one week, 50 reports have been made. This caused a lot disturbance and stress to the people of the village. One day, 4 men proposed to the elders of the village to allow them to assassinate all the people of the halab. There was a little discussing between the elders but they came to a final decision to not allow that to happen because that was not the way the people of Barkal handle things and murder is against the religion of Islam which the people of Al-Barka followed. They decided to have a meeting with all the adults of the halab and then peace between the two has achieved through peaceful negotiation and this was the way the people of the Barkal handled things.

I visited the summer after I first moved to Sudan, which was also 20 years after the peace between the halab and the shawayga was agreed on. I stayed there for all of Ramadan and another 2 weeks after. 3 days after Eid-Al Fitr, my cousins who lived in Al-barkal all went to school along with the other villagers in school. The village was quiet in the daytime like always.

Me and four of my cousins who were also expatriates- two from Dubai in the UAE, Mustafa (13) and Adam (15), one from London, Ali (14) and the other from Qatar, Ismael (13)- decided to go the Nile river for a swim. We all put on our swimming shorts and took out the horses that our friendly neighbor who is also family told us to take if we wanted to go somewhere.

We raced on the long road between the beautiful fields of mango trees, guava trees, and date palms to the very end before the sharp left turn to Karima, a big city 15 minutes away from Al-Barkal. We rode our horses slowly on the small pathways of sand between the plants and trees heading towards the river, and out of nowhere my older cousin Adam stopped.

“Did anyone hear something?” he asked us.

“Shut up! You didn’t hear anything, you’re just trying to scare us.” Ismael yelled.

We laughed and continued moving forward slowly towards the river. When we arrived, We all dived straight into the water but Adam and Ali went to go tie the horses. A couple minutes after they left, as my cousins and I were swimming and enjoying the cool water in the burning sun. 3 halab teenagers the ages of 19 and 18, started throwing rocks near us in the water, making us backup deeper and deeper. We seen them wearing green stained thobes and each were holding long, sharp sickles in their hands. We all got scared because we were moving towards the middle of the Nile river where the water was running towards Egypt at a speed over 25 miles per hour. If we were to end up there it would’ve been over for us. We were all short and skinny anyway which would’ve got us swept away even easier. We dived into the water and started swimming as fast as we could to the land but they were persistent.

They kept throwing rocks and boom Mustafa was hit with a huge rock right to the head, and fainted. He started floating on the water and we all swam to rescue him. He was a couple feet away from guaranteed death.

I thought it was over. I started to think of how life would be if he were gone.We were too far out. There was nothing we could’ve done. My cousin Ismael started to cry as he swam persistently to save Mustafa and out of nowhere Ali, who was an extraordinary swimmer dived into the water from the cliff and and lifted Mustafa from beneath. Adam, who was the oldest and strongest out of us hit two of the halab in the back of their heads with two giant bricks knocking them both down.

“I knew someone was tailing us from earlier but why? Why are you doing this? These are little kids. What could you have possibly been thinking?” Adam asked raged with anger.

We started swimming to the land as we helped Ali take Mustafa to land. We got to land and Adam told Ali to go bring all of the horses to that very spot we were at. He gave him one of the halab’s sickle.

“We know about the staff at Al-barkal Elementary and Middle School teach to the kids. They tell you all these lies and rumors about us halab so guys could hates us then decide to kick us all out. We have nowhere to go and our parents and other adults can't do anything because of the peace treaty, so we’ll do something.” the halabi man said.

“Listen we’re here for vacation we don’t even go to school here.We don’t even live here. And even if we did, this is not something anyone should do. The people of this village allowed you to live here in our land and allowed you to buy farm land properties, and the point of that treaty was to achieve peace at last. Everything is finally peaceful here in this village but what you’re doing is the complete opposite.” Adam yelled.

“There can’t be peace here if there is still discrimination and racism towards us halab. This is the only place we can live in in peace...or that’s what we thought at least.” said the tall halabi guy.

“Why are you still talking to him Adam? He’s talking out his ass. We came here to swim, and he’s over here talking about some other shit.” I yelled.

“Yeah seriously, just drop him dead already.”  Ismael agreed.

Ali finally arrived with all 5 horses. Adam punched the halabi man then Ismael and I ran to assist him in the fight. He ran. The two who were dropped by Adam were still knocked out laying down on the hot burning orange sand. Ali and Adam tied the two halabis up and carried them on their backs. We got on our horses and went to our grandfather. He was one of the elders of the village. We told him everything that happened and he conducted a meeting right away.

“Ok. I’ll take care of this. Go eat.” he said as he handed me a $20 bill. “Pass me my             cane. Adam drop me off there. We’ll take your uncle Asaad's car.”

My cousins and I went to the shawarma restaurant which was a block away from the house. My cousin was fine as were eating and chilling in the restaurant. We enjoyed each other's company while we were chewing on fries and shawarma sandwiches. We left the restaurant to go to the house. As we walked in we ran into my grandfather if he was ok. My grandfather we assured us the situation was handled.

In that moment, I realized that my grandfather's words would haunt me for the rest of my life. He had said “You children shouldn’t worry about adult issues of enemies and finding peace. If finding peace happens it won’t happen now.” Whether my grandfather knew it or not our enemies weren’t into peace and neither were we looking forward to it. The relationship between the self and the changing world is that there can’t be a world of peace if the people of this world can’t reach peace within themselves. In today's world peace is always the best answer, but in reality, peace can never be found.


My Religion's Past

If human beings were not as averagely intelligent as we have evolved to become, then we would have gone extinct thousands of years ago. If one takes away the tools and the shelter and the clothes and we are so terrifyingly weak. This fact is no scarier for anyone other than us, and having faith in something larger than your existence was and still is the way people battle away a lot of this fear. Therefore, everyone on Earth holds some set of beliefs. If we feel that humans are here because we have some higher power that is more terrible than our predators and more awesome than the diseases, then our existence is justified and we are safe. Whether they be religious or not is up to them, but no one lives without them. My personal set of beliefs and religious practices was established over my entire lifetime and is still vulnerable to change even now.

Daddy was born to two genetically predisposed Methodists. His daddy fought in World War II, and survived three gunshots for his wife, not G-d. Granddaddy and Grandma did not really actively practice or believe in being a Methodist. They attended church occasionally, except for Dad, who threw a tantrum at age 8 and never had to go again. After enduring his service in the Korean War, he followed his father’s example in what to believe. He didn’t really stick to a religion growing up, and sired seven children and one half son.

When I was five years old, Mom became pregnant again. This was my father’s last child. She went into labor on Christmas Eve. I remember asking our nanny when the new baby, Aurora, was coming home. They managed to hide it from me for two weeks before they told me that Aurora died during labor. The umbilical cord had gotten wrapped around her neck and she had choked to death before they caught it. They were devastated, both of them. I was too young to understand the true gravity of what had happened. Daddy told me that in order to get him out of his depression, some of his closest friends took him on a road trip. They gave him a story called the Shack by William P. Young.

“Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his "Great Sadness," Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.”

The road trip and the book helped Dad to recover. He tells me that today he believes in the eagles, high cirrus clouds, coronas, deer, and that book that helped recover himself from his loss. This unique view on life makes my Dad an interesting person, but does not really affect my life that much anymore.

My mom, Beth R. Koenig, was born a reform Jew and was raised as a reform Jewish person. She attended Hebrew School until after her bat mitzvah or Jewish coming-of-age ceremony. After that, she attended the holidays and she did little events and services. Otherwise, she did not practice. I suspect that her religious choices have to do with her family. I used to visit and stay over, but now, only my brother talks to them. Over my lifetime, I have seen her grow into spiritualism. I am not completely sure on how this happened, or why it did, but her transition changes my life irrevocably. The rules of her life didn’t stop with her. My younger sibling and I were given gluten free and dairy free diets all the time for “a healthier lifestyle” even though we had no allergy. Homeopathic remedies are go-to medicinal routes. She nags me even now to visit the chiropractor every other week. The problem I have here is this: I am not a spiritualistic person. I do not believe even in half the ideas that she does. Unfortunately, I depend on this person to feed and nurture me. I live with her and see her everyday. I think that it is better for me not to fight with her about her beliefs every other day. I let a lot, and I do mean a lot of issues with her go. I often will nod my head along with her words, or give an empty agreement. Due to this relationship I have in my life, it is actually sort of difficult to slip a belief into my head. First, I will identify that it isn’t what I believe, and then I will tear it apart and find everything that is wrong with it. Finally, I will kick it to the curb. However, when surrounded by others who believe differently than I do, I am able to respect their ideas and do my best to tolerate and understand.

In sixth or seventh grade, I learned that later reports of the tragedy of a super eruption due to the majestic Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii suggested that Pompeii’s citizens believed that the Roman god of fire, Vulcan, was angry with them. On the day of this infamous catastrophe, it was said that about half the entire population actually tried to give offerings and prayers to the mountain. His name later gave fruit to the name for the never before seen erupting mountain, volcanoes. The decimation of an entire city that believed that if they could appease Vulcan, the sky would come back proves that every belief can evolve, fail, be challenged, and or change.

My first “official” religion was Reform Judaism. In second grade, I moved away from my best friend. That was not acceptable, and so I began attending the Rodeph Shalom Synagogue. That was not the only reason I became a member. My first and favorite part of the entire religion is Sunday morning services. The music and unity of this this ceremony was like nothing I had ever seen before. I felt out of place until I started singing along with everybody else. I felt a positive connection to everyone around me. I fell in love with that connection, and I graduated from Hebrew School last year. Zooming in on the more religious aspects of Judaism, I am a very loose practitioner myself. I attribute this to how I was raised and also my personal philosophies.

The highest power that I believe exists is the balance of the universe we exist in. To be more specific, I think that our entire world revolves on the balance of opposites. Life and death, good and bad, action and reaction. I believe that every single loss has an equal and opposite gain and vise versa. That is what I think drives the world. Everything has a price, everything. I can’t really believe in a god because I haven’t experienced anything that could make me believe in them. As to the contents of the Torah, the Jewish holy book, I agree with most of the philosophical content and think a lot of its history actually happened. However, there’s a lot of the Torah that’s disagreeable or looks to have- a covert reason of existence. I found most major religions to have this in common. So until my way of thinking is challenged on Vesuvius level proportions, I plan on maintaining this personalized set of beliefs.


My Personal Essay and Video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrDRxkeJrgw

Javier Chueca-Bosch

English 3

Mrs. Pahomov

12/22/2017

August 23th: My long term exchange is about to start. It’s six in the morning in Barcelona’s airport. Even Though, is early and the sun is just rising the air is heavy and hot. The airport is already functioning and the busy businessman going up and down, with their small suitcases, showing their professionality in the art of traveling. There are also German and British families who might come for their last week of summer vacation to Spain willing to stay in the beaches as much as possible until they turn red as shrimps. My mind is starting to ask questions that no one can answer. Questions that all seem to have the same answer. Answered by the sentence that my dad has told me just before crossing the security control. “Be yourself Javi, just be yourself”


After every single moment in America I feel how I change. However, there are moments when the change becomes visible. Is like the outside armour gets blown away and for first time the changes materializes into a real feeling emotion or even physical sign.


The english benchmark is due tomorrow and I’m here staring at the wall with a bunch of thoughts that go around my mind. None of them are about this huge project that I have to finish for tomorrow. After the initial thoughts questions start to appear. Do I really like her? If the answer is yes. How can I have done this incredible change in such a short time? No, no way I like her we only kissed once and I was drunk is just a normal one night relationship, something similar to Spain. But what if….?


The night is cold and cloudy. There is no more light and the streets are empty. Shops start closing and my benchmark still in blank. The thoughts keep going while I type in the computer a bunch of words that I hope Mrs. Pahomov will like enough to give me a good grade. I actually see how my mind have changed I see it but I don’t realize it, I don’t want to accepted, I’m not ready for it.  


“1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4” This numbers that accompanied me during the late afternoon  football practices. Or during this night parties. This numbers that I used to dance with some girl who, with some luck, will be happy to come home with me. I know it was me because I have it in my mind but, I don’t feel identified with this boy anymore. The ambition that he might have ever had of alluring a girl are not with me anymore. I, sometimes, wonder if I flew back to Spain, would I notice the change? Throughout my time in America, I’ve learned about new ideas and met new people. These experiences have caused a complete change in who I am today.  But the question still in my head. Do I love her? The question has evolved as so as me and has gone to another level.



Today is Sunday afternoon the Eagles are playing but in my head nothing's the same anymore. Yesterday, she came to the city to make some papers at USPS. It was snowing and the air was cold and got into my throat as a milion small spikes. I get together with her to help her with the paperwork and then to hang around downtown. Every step required some more effort than the normal ones and the distance seem to be twice longer. We end up on the Rocky steps with the Philly skyline in front of us. The views were amazing, but I'd rather look at her and kiss her than watching the views. In that moment I felt ready to accept the huge change that my brain had been doing during all that time. And there is finally an answer to the question. I do love her, it has been difficult but I do love her.


While the Eagles play. My head keeps going up and down. Thinking on the change I have just made. The whole idea of one night thing has disappeared from my brain. “Yesssss the Eagles have scored” Joe gives me a hug and I go back to my mind world. It seems that America has changed me every second I spend here brings me to a new state of mind. To make it clear.

As an example of this change, you wouldn’t have the same idea of having a relationship after watching a romantic movie right? I would say there is always a first mind changer like the first kiss in a romantic movie. Then the movie tries to prepares you to realize the change by giving an story. But when the change is realized when you see the break up and you watch the two main characters cry for love. The change was initially made but you don’t realize it until almost the end of the movie. So I would consider my relationship with her as this preparation in the movie. A preparation, long, heavy but necessary to accomplish the mind changes in itś totality


And when I’ll go back to spain it would be six in the morning and  my long term exchange would be about to end. The air would be hot and heavy. The businessmen will be going up and down, with their small suitcases, showing their professionalism in the art of traveling. And a bunch of tourist will be coming out of the finger, to get fed up with all the information that they are gonna receive in the Philadelphian Museums. I will remember the day of my departure in Barcelona, my head was full of thoughts and questions. I would remember just having one answer. ¨Just be yourself Javi, just be yourself”. This words were, for me, profund and sentimental but what I didn't realize was that the self that my dad was talking about was going to change in such an spectacular way. And what is for sure is that the kid who once left Barcelona as an adventure, has now come back as a total new grown up.


Labeled Life - Caroline Pitone

Caroline P.
Ms. Pahomov
1/9/17
Labeled Life
While my mother was pregnant with me, she always believed that I was going to be a boy ever since she found out she was having a baby. But then I arrived, a surprise of gender for my parents, as well as a surprise of being a 22 inch long baby with a full head of hair and screeching that flowed from my mouth. At a time of my life of being a toddler, I would say I loved dolls and Barbies, and I loved dresses and pink, and things like stuffed animals and princess sets. I loved these toys so much, but I don't know if it was because they were marketed towards my assigned gender, or if I voluntarily was attracted to these plastic objects. I always will wonder if I still would have loved them if I'd been exposed to other toys instead more often. 
As time went on in my life, my mother and father put me in sports like tennis, soccer, martial arts, hockey, and so on, ever since I was five years old. I adored these activities and they soon became the only thing I really loved to do. Things began to change a bit for me and my perspective upon things, as I started to closely inspect my environment and the  people I would be placed around during the activities I would do. I started hanging out with boys more. I observed that all of their hair was cut short in a similar style, with slightly off voices that were completely different from mine. Their pants looked larger than what their waist could support at times, and their t-shirts would cut them into the shapes of perfect boxes. Their muscles were more defined than mine and they seemed to have different nail beds than I did.  Growing up as an athlete was very life changing for me and it was something I always loved to do and looked forward to. I was always in co-ed, which means it was both boys and girls in the same sport and in the same environment. At the time, I remember usually being one of the only girls on the team. Hanging out with boys was always something in my comfort zone and it always felt more appropriate since there were never usually girls around me in a hobby that I enjoyed so much.
Everyone's sports uniforms were always the same, with the only difference of the individual number on the back of each jersey. I never saw anyone differently, as everyone wore the same thing. When it came time for dressing off the field at the age of around eight years old, I despised wearing skirts and dresses. “Why should I wear that? It isn't comfortable!”, I would exclaim on and on, while cramming in enough words in the short mornings to my parents to let me go to school in pants instead of the school uniform every little girl was getting put into. It typically consisted of navy blue dresses and a white or blue collared shirt with an added touch of just a few hair clips. This made me feel very uncomfortable with myself. “Am I just odd?”, I would think, since all of the girls around me were fine and comfortable with wearing things like hair clips and high knee socks, but for some reason my mind would go against it. I felt wrong, It was very easy to compare myself to other girls, since there were so many of them around me in the environment of school. This kind of environment was something I was not used to. I tried and tried, but it never felt correct for me to look in the mirror and see a dress, and having some sort of label pinned to me, as benign as the term “girl”, at the time.
While I played sports from a young age, I never fully self reflected on my environment and behavior until I was about 9 years old. I started to realize differences with me and the boys I surrounded myself with. I began to be judged by my team members for being the gender that I am, a female. I would be looked down upon, and even assumed to be some sort of joke for being on any sports team. This particularly happened during the time I played roller hockey for a league at a park nearby my house. Roller hockey, for some time, was my favorite sport. I played defense man for my team, and was one of the best defense man in the league. I sensed jealousy and tension between me and the team, and a slight disconnect from me and the usual groupings of boys. I noticed I was not being accepted into the team for being a girl since every other person was a boy. I figured this judgement just came because I was a female hockey player, on a mostly all boys team.
I started to feel as though something was wrong with me, and I really was different. I tried to not let it bother me because I thought it was some sort of fun joke. As I began to do some independent thinking, I realized that I was seen as different for loving sports, not liking skirts and dresses, and wanting to play with Pokemon instead of Barbies. I was not the typical girl that people like to label. I started to become very noticeable once I did something impressive in any sport. It was looked at as more of a miracle than if a boy did the same thing I did. I loved the attention I was grasping while playing these sports, but I was uncomfortable with the thought of being congratulated so highly when I know that my performance was not as amazing as people believed it was. “Is it because I am a girl?” I would always think, and I allowed this thought to float in my mind for quite some time. This subject fired up my brain power and discovered the common use of gender stereotypes and genders abilities to perform certain things. It made me believe how much of a fool I really felt like, thinking I was this amazing athlete, but only to realize it was because I was a female and I was doing things not most girls were doing at my age. When I played sports on a mostly male team, I got a lot of attention even though it wasn't always for a good reason. Being a girl and doing things girls weren't seen doing very so often made me feel small in a way the boys never experienced.I began to start to understand everything, and everything began to fall into place.
Now that I am older, I realize that gender rules are not a realistic thing unless you take into account what they are and you want  to allow them to affect your life I wear what I like to wear. I do not ever think about “do I look enough like a female today?” because I have learned that the way I should present myself is the way I feel inside. Although I don’t scream and cry once I see a dress in front of me as I did when I was a child, I realize that I do not have to do anything I do not feel comfortable as a whole.

Time Taken for Granted

I think differently from everybody else. This might sound cliche but I really do. One thing I usually do is overthink and blame myself for things. I feel like I should be held responsible for a lot of things especially if I am aware of the situation. As a human, everybody in this world has the opportunity to do things that they almost never do. There are a lot of reasons that we decide against doing a lot of things that we truly know need to be done. One of the biggest things that I regret is not being there when I know I should have been. I had the chance to help. But I did not. Instead of helping I sat there and said nothing. I did nothing and here I am writing this essay with a guilty conscience that sometimes starts to eat at me. I honestly don’t know what to do to fix it. Someday I will have to realize that I did mess my only chance up. I have to realize that I decided against doing everything that I could have because I just wanted to be to myself and not with anyone else. I did not want to hug anybody or say hello to anyone. I did not want to check up on anyone. I definitely did not want to say things would be okay because I knew they wouldn’t be.

Reading this, you probably have no clue what I am talking about. I haven’t exactly said it yet because it is still kind of hard to process the events. It’s still hard talking about what happened because I wish it did not happen. I was in seventh grade and we had not been too far into the school year. I knew Uncle Bill was sick so I truly don’t understand why I was so shocked when we got the call. I had just got up to get ready for school and my mom told me something that I was not quite ready to hear. She had just gotten a call from Uncle Bill’s wife, Aunt Tiny. I probably don’t even have to say what happened at this point and I really don’t want to. I remember going in the bathroom and not believing what had exactly happened. I was confused and shocked and hurt. All I wanted to know was why this happened. I continued to get ready for school but I felt no emotions at all. It was as if all my senses had been taken away from me and I was left with a body that I had absolutely no control over.

I remember being in school later that day, and while I was having a conversation with my friends laughing, I blurted out that my uncle had died. My friend asked why I was laughing and okay, but I didn’t know why I was. A little later into the school day I got a message from my mom saying that she was coming to get me. Because it was so early in the day when I got my early dismissal, my teacher asked why I even bothered coming to school. I didn’t even bother to tell him about what had just happened. When my mom came to get me I found out that the reason she had left work so early was because her boss wanted her to “go home and take it easy” since she had been at work upset and crying. I didn’t exactly know how to comfort her because I didn’t know how to comfort myself. I then decided to just leave the situation alone hoping that my mom would eventually be in better spirits.

The hardest thing about writing this essay, is trying to write this essay as the person I was when I first received information of his death. I can no longer be that emotionless person especially because I still haven’t gotten over the death of Uncle Bill. I’m not sure if I ever will. I still find myself balled up in the corner crying on his birthday, August 24. I still cry on the day of his death, October 29 because I find myself replaying the events of that day in my head. Saturday, November 2, 2013 was the day of his funeral. I was not sure what to expect at the funeral. I was okay until we got to the funeral. The church was packed as I walked down the aisle next to my aunt, who was one of his many nieces. When we got to the casket I could not look at him. He was not the same person that I had always known. I began to cry and I don’t remember stopping until the end of the service. During the service everyone kept telling me that things were going to be okay because he was no longer suffering from the cancer that we thought he could handle. But I honestly don’t think that anybody understood how I looked at this.

I have probably been to about 100 funerals in my lifetime. Growing up my family was very active in church and I would always end up at any event that they had to attend. Since my grandparents were ushers, and I spent a lot of time with them, I would usually attend the funerals at church that they ushered. Sitting in the back of the church, I would see all the families crying but I never knew exactly why. Yes, I understood that they had just lost a loved one. But it seemed that going to all these services caused me to build a barrier to protect my feelings when I went to funerals. I would never cry at any of the services  including those of strangers and the family members I saw laying in the casket. In third grade I was even hysterical when my mom did not allow me to go to my cousin Aaron’s funeral. He was a teenager who had just been killed in Southwest. Something about these funerals engaged me and interested me. That wasn’t the case for Uncle Bill. For the first time I felt what those families had felt. Seeing someone that you can no longer hug or hold laying in a casket stiff and cold has to be one of the most devastating feelings ever.. You start to feel empty and cold inside because you don’t know what is next for you.

We knew Uncle Bill was sick but we didn’t know it would end like this or even end at all. Everyone was telling me that he was going to be okay and I believed them because what else could I do. For weeks we would go over his house and there would always be a people there either speaking the word (reading the bible), or bringing comfort food to his wife. Crowding around him, people would hold his hand and talk to him about past memories just to see him smile. I never did this though. Everytime we went over, I sat on the couch watching television, Sometimes I wouldn’t even go over and greet him and at that moment I wasn’t quite sure what was causing me to stray away from him. One of the days that we went to see him, I was sitting on the couch sneezing. As he lay on his deathbed, with little to no strength at all, he said “bless you”. This was the man that I grew up knowing and loving. Someone who was very protective and caring about his family especially the girls in his life.

Now that I look back at that year, I felt the most hurt from my grandfather, Uncle Bill’s brother. As a young teenager I was never really as concerned about how he felt in this situation until now. During the process he was always very quiet and to himself, which was unlike him because he was known for “talking someone’s ear off”. Whenever we went over Uncle Bill’s house, Pop Pop (my grandfather) would sit next to Uncle Bill’s hospice bed and hold his hand while he talked on and on about memories from their childhood up until now. One of my favorite stories was the story about how Pop Pop and their other brother, Uncle Walt, had pushed Uncle Bill down a hill in a little wagon which caused him to end up with a broken arm. Stories like that brought tears to my eyes because it made me realize how tight their bond was. That right there was an explanation of what would happen next.

Throughout this whole process, I tried as much as possible to stay to myself. I wasn’t aware that this would get me into trouble. One day, I came home and I did what I had been doing everyday, staying to myself. Things were pretty quiet in the house until Pop Pop approached me. Yelling at me, without yelling, he asked me why I wasn’t worried about Uncle Bill and why I never ask him how he was doing. I distanced myself because I never knew what was coming next. All I knew was that I had been told everything was going to be fine and somehow things were never okay. Those endless nights of me crying my eyes out never stopped because I still never found out how to deal with death.

This essay is especially hard for me to write because I am still dealing with how to deal with the death of a loved one. Since the death of Uncle Bill, I have not looked at death the same.  During 2017, I lost 3 people who I truly love. Uncle Jazzy, Aunt Jo, and Aunt Stelle lost the life that once graced their bodies. I regret every second that I passed up because I was being selfish and laying in my own bed of pain while I ignored theirs. It takes such a toll on me because I always feel like there is so much more that I could have done to help that person and to help myself. It is incredibly hard to deal with change that not only takes a toll on you, but also the people around you. I am supposed to be answering the question, “How does the self react to and deal with change?”. It’s simply hard to answer that question because I am still unsure about how to deal with change. I would explain how others deal with change but everyone around me deals with it differently. When things begin to change, it begins to disrupt the normal flow of how things go and as hard as it may be to say this, things will never go back to the way they were before the change happened. So I guess the best way to deal with things like this are to adapt although it might be one of the hardest tasks life throws at you.


The Grieving Process

“Are you OK?”  There are other ways of checking in on someone, but that just happens to be the most common one. Asking someone are they O.K doesn’t make things better for the person, it just gives the one that’s asking certainty about the person’s being. As for me. I’ll be honest about if I’m fine or not, but i’ll let that person know so they’ll not have to worry about making me feel O.K. “No, I am not O.K” came out faster than the paramedics that Sunday morning when my mom collapsed on dining room floor.

She was admitted to Einstein Hospital around 2pm on Valentines Day. When my dad arrived at the hospital room, the doctors explained that they tried everything the could to bring her to back life. When my dad came back from the hospital I was expecting good news. The words “she didn’t make it”  had me lost, I was confused and angry. I started pointing fingers blaming the paramedics for being late, blaming the doctors at the hospital for not doing the best they could but most importantly myself. I continued asking myself was it the food I gave her that morning to oily or salty? Did I stress her out? I panicked and fell to the floor screaming  because I couldn’t bear with the fact I lost my mother, my other half.
Therapy wasn’t my first option for handling grief. My dad worried about me because I was too quiet. When someone ask about the situation, I would avoid the main subject which was her dying. I would talk about her death as if she had never passed away and she was still alive. I told my dad I prefer talking to him about everything that I felt and that I just need different opinions on how to handle the situation. He suggested for me to go to therapy because they are more professional and have more experience with incidents that deal with grief. I’m not comfortable with the fact that therapy was one of the options because of my trust issues. My views on therapy was that the therapist was only there to pass your personal information on to the next person. The therapist will take your deepest darkest secret and go home to their families, sit down at the dinner table to share their day at work. “ She told me that she says she’s the reason for her mother’s death. Isn’t that ridiculous?”. See what’s ridiculous is taking my trust for granted and that’s the last thing I needed.

My first therapist was someone that understood me. My first session of the three sessions we shared were mostly about what happened and how I felt in the moment. I hesitated at first but I went on with the story and she told me how she felt the same pain when her father passed. I felt more comfortable because not only did she  have a family member that passed away, this family member was her parent. Our first activity together was a goodbye letter I wrote during our second session. The goodbye letter was a source for letting out what you might want to say to the person before they passed. In my letter. I wrote about how my last words shouldn’t of been “I’m sorry” It should of been “I love you” or “I admire you” or “ you’re the best”. She read my letter and asked if I need a moment and I told her no. I felt relieved and more free to say whatever I felt about the situation and how I am dealing with it because we shared similar experiences. My third and final session wasn’t really a session. I arrived to the appointment late and she was heading out the door. “I have been assigned to work for another company. I needed you to be here on time so we can talk about you meeting with the your new therapist. You’re going to receive a phone call from NHS in two weeks to set an appointment. Nice working with you.” Then she left and I was angry. It was bad enough I had trust issues and told my personal business to someone I barely knew. Then that person leaves and takes my business with them to pass it onto the person.

I received my therapist three weeks after I decided I didn’t want to continue going to therapy. I was still stuck on the fact that I opened up to someone and now they’re gone. What possibly could encourage me to continue telling my business to another person who don’t know me besides the fact that I am grieving? I ended going to my appointment anyway because I still wanted different perspectives on how to deal with grief. That Tuesday afternoon, I went to my session and waited twenty minutes into the 1 hour session. The twenty minutes felt like hours and I just wanted to go home. She finally came down and we walked to her room on the second floor. She opened her door and offered me to sit anywhere but I choose the corner because she is a stranger. I sat down and she asked me about the situation but I looked at her like how doesn’t she know about it already. My thoughts were she wanted to hear the story to pass time and that old my therapist didn’t go over the details from the previous sessions I’ve had. I just told her the story because I wanted to see how she feels about it. As she took notes on her computer, I asked what kinds of activities are we going to go over to help with my grieving issue. She told me she had the “5 stages of Grief activity” which is an an article that is going to help with seeing where my emotions lie within the situation. For the next session we went over the 5 stages of Grief which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. She had a list of questions and I would answer these questions so that she can see which of my emotions fall under certain category. The results were I was mostly angry at the situation and I was accepting the fact that I was the reason for her death. For the rest of the session we talked mostly about why I feel like I’m the reason. I explained to her I only felt like this because I was there at the moment with her, when she collapsed, when she was taken out of the house, when she was in the ambulance. She told me that it is good that I accepting the fact that she is gone, which really means that I am not in denial about her passing away. She comforted me by telling me that we will work on ways on how not to feel like I am the cause of her death. I went home that night thinking that therapy might not be so bad after all. Maybe putting my trust into my therapist is for the greater good.  I know my mom would have wanted me to give it a chance, now I feel like I’m doing it for us.

Little things in life will lead to bigger things. Having school work, coming home to a house full of people who are loud, helping my little brothers with their school work, cooking dinner, and getting myself together for the next day day are just the little things. The bigger thing in this case, would be maintaining my own lifestyle without out my mom. Setting my opinions and my feelings aside to benefit myself is the best choice I have made so far. What I learned was that putting my pride aside should only be done if I feel comfortable enough to do so. I have also learned that making choices for myself shouldn’t have to start with me being “O.K” it should start with how I want to feel in the end. Trusting my therapist just a little should help with adjusting my trust issues with other people. My mom’s death gives me strength and knowledge to know that I am putting my trust into something for a reason. Knowing that my guardian angel is watching me makes me feel proud to say that “I am going to be O.K”.


Unwilling to Tell

Over the course of life I really just struggle with death. Life has became a stress. Its like im dealing with a fight over and over again. Death is a rocky point, I just been dealing with this for a while. Funeral after funeral just waiting to know when will it stop. No beating or hearing is the only thing that was going through my body when I get announcements that I have l lost one. Death has impacted my life so much that I am lost when I just think about anything else. The thought of it changes my life for the better and not for the worst. I feel so empty. Emptiness is where i feel the most useless and worthless in this world. How come I can’t get a break you may wonder. Well it’s because I been struggling with death my whole life.

     On July 4th blood rolled from his head and nose, As his friend in the car is gasping for air. All you hear is a loud siren noise heading towards the car. Reporting live from north philadelphia area. There are two men right now that was rushed to the hospital in cruidel conditions. I lost my favorite uncle in the whole wide world, this had a huge impact on how i live my life today. I really celebrate on the 4th of july just so that it feels like he is still here with me. He passed away on july 2 and his birthday was the 4th of july. I sat and cried and cried. Screaming and screaming as the family mourned all together. Thats my bestfriend I said to my dad as he than thought about how this would affect me the most. My dad just thought about how would the family work as one again because he was the life and the support of us. As we was watching the news that night, it appeared on the news channel:

   Reporting live from the scene where this car as hit a tree. The two men are in the hospital but we just got word that either one of them made it. Shawn Carter and Greg ford. My grandmother passed out and we couldn’t do anything but give her time to really think and process what happened in this moment. The doctors room was filled with puddles of water and heartbreak.

        We really enjoyed each other time and we loved to hang out as a family. This was one of my favorite things to do I just really enjoyed every moment with him. We spent basically every weekend together because I just loved being around him. I really just got stuck on what to write so that's all i can say right now. We use to have fight parties at my house. We would go out and celebrate on the 4th of july. We was always the party type. I love the way that my relationship is with him. He makes me so happy. We would go out to eat like every other weekend. I would think about all the good time every other weekend. We would go to Fridays every friday because that is my favorite place. I cried out. I really just loved when i seen him. He made me feel so happy. He was my favorite cousin. He was really the best. My family thought about how he was always the life of the party. When shawn came in that's when the party arrived. He would just make us all happy and thankful for living life to the fullest. We laughed as a family, we danced as a family, we even fought as a family but with when it was all said and done shawn was our rock and nobody in this world could change everything that he has did for us.

     This essay is hard for me to right because this is the most triggering spot in life. I really just think about this moment and these people everyday man. Everytime I think about this topic i get crushed and I feel like im a piece of cookies just crumbing to the ground. This topic is not something that I normally would express because i told myself that I would not keep letting people get into my personal life. But when the birthdays and the holidays come up I just can't stop thinking about them and everything they have ever did for me. I wish I could say i can’t wait for them to see me graduate. This has been a rocky road for me and I'm done with talking about this. I feel like my emotions are coming on very strong on i think about the goodness and what they have done for me over my life. If it wasn’t for the world and my family i don’t know where i would be today. This has been a emotional road but I am happy to say it is over and now I can move on and just think about how I know that he will always be here with me. I just think as for my family I have to be strong and I have to think about where my life can take me from here. This has been a very tuff topic for me and I hope you guys are all thankful for me sharing this.


Best personal essay- Raymond Rochester


When I first listened to Eminem It was my freshman year of highschool and before that I was never huge into rap. I had a small selection of random songs that I actually liked but none of it was rap. But In highschool that all changed for me when I got into rap. Its weird how it all worked out but I got into rapping before I even Got into listening to rap.   I've been rapping for all of highschool now and actually kind of took a break last year because the way the lunches were split up so most of high school. I even made a song and is still working on some more music, not as a serious career path but for fun and as a little bit as a hobby. Even though it isn't anything serious I still like to put it out there on social media and getting feedback from people. All the feedback has been positive which is great for me. The fact that i'm just playing around a bit is pretty big for me.

At lunch It was common for the upperclassmen to host rap battles and cyphers with each other.  I seeing one of my friends hanging with them decide to go over and listen and was asked to “spit”. This being my first time ever considering rapping.  I gave rapping a a try and rapped poorley not even reaching the status of sub par on a good day. Weeks passed and after many failed attempts at spitting something actually good or remotely close to fire, I kept trying. Eventually with each attempt getting a little better and better. I soon started to spit stuff that wasn't that bad and on some occasions pretty good.  To be honest I don't exactly remember how I ran across Eminem's music but I do know he's the first Lyricist i've listened to and at his first song I instantly liked it and had a huge respect for his craft.


Im 95% sure that the first song that I listened to made by Eminem was “The Real Slim Shady” which is still one of my favorite songs and a great one to work out to. After a week and a half to 2 weeks of listing (maybe longer) I somehow found Tupac's music which not only his music stuck with me but also his image and the persona that he made for himself. With his music was my first ever look of what's considered gangsta rap.  

I first started out with Eminem which whose lyricism   grew on me very quickly and opened me up to more rappers like Tupac, Biggie, Big L, Big Pun, and other rappers of the 90ś which was known as the gangsta rap era. I also like rappers of today with a old school style such as Hopsin.  And nonstop that's all I listened to and that's still for the most part all I listen to till this day. But the more that I listened to the songs of my favorite artist, the better o a rapper I became. I was able to get a flow together to most beats, I was able to come up with anything on the spot, and people have even said when I rap I have an old school flow. Listening to people who influenced me and practice taught me how to freestyle wich also helped freestyle savage become my brand.

Eminem’s music changed my taste in music and put me on to other rappers.


Also in freshman year I have to admit it wasn't my strongest year. Although I was adjusting to highschool I did it pretty fast. But I did more joking around that focusing on my work. I had a never stress go with the flow mentality so I did not stress about grades and how much work I turned in. I still have that mentality but now but I work harder and take more pride in my grades. I definitely try harder in school and did better and better each year. I am a harder worker than I use to be and a strong work ethic is something I strive to perfect as I follow the path of what I want to do as a profession





The changes that I have made throughout high school were mostly mental changes and also a bit maturity too. High school has had changes on me that I think will last a lifetime other than friendships. The high school experience has changed my way of thinking and perception even on music part about the rapping and rappers aspect this was how My high school year has changed y life. I was introduced to Rap in my freshman year of highschool and it as had a huge impact on me from then till now and years to come. So thats how my years of high school and its huge impact that it had on mehas changed my life.


High School

My hands wrapped around the chilled handle as I pulled the heavy door open. When  I walked through, I realized I was finally in my soon-to-be high school.  Before I was in, my parents had to fill out the last little amounts of paperwork that would grant me my admittance. I was nervous, mainly because just a week ago I was surrounded by my friends I’d known since fourth grade. Maritime Academy, my old school in Northeast Philadelphia was relatively big. It was a traditional school, with textbooks and paper. We would only use computers for special occasions, or classes orientated around them. I knew that I wanted change, so I sought out Science Leadership Academy. My intuition lead me to these very doors. I was nervous, to the point where my stomach churned with every footstep I took.

“Hi, you have to sign in before heading upstairs,” said a woman dressed in a black uniform.

My mom nodded in agreeance and explained to the woman, that we had a meeting with the principal.  We were pointed to the elevator, and proceeded to go up. I could feel my stomach drop with anticipation as the elevator glided up to the second floor. There were kids laying across the floor, throwing balls and blasting music.

“What is this lunch? What are they feeding these kids? They're practically bouncing off the walls,” said my stepdad.

This lead us to all chuckle in sync to our shared confusion, but the laughter did not uplift my nervousness. Mainly now, because I didn’t know where I would fit in this social atmosphere. I was invisible, as we passed through the hallway. It was a narrow yellow hallway, but somehow broad enough to fit every student possible. The hallway to the office was a straight route, but we somehow found ourselves making twists and turns to avoid the bodies that were in the way. Everyone seemed like they knew where they belonged, and how everything worked even though they all looked like freshmen just like me. Similar to Murph and Bartle, my world was changing right before me. The only difference, was they were going into the unknown of war and I was entering my first year of high school.  Although now I reflect, and although it may sound exaggerated to me it felt exactly the same. Time seemed to go slow, but we finally made it and were greeted by two men. One was relatively casual, dressed in a button up shirt and jeans. The other man was dressed in a suit. They were the complete opposite of each other. My parents filled out the paperwork, we shook their hands, and then left. I  was now a student at Science Leadership Academy.

Summer was finally over, and so was freshman year. I was excited for a new start. It seemed like the year before went completely over my head. I was excited at the thought of being surrounded by a new class of people, and new teachers. I met my boyfriend upstairs and was greeted by my friends from last year.

“Did you hear about what happened this summer?”

I was pulled aside, and was told of all the fresh gossip that would make me up to date with all the current affairs at school. The whispers of unknown truths and lies filled my ears and my jaw opened in disbelief. I was so into what was being said, I hadn’t noticed my boyfriend, Jahmar, had walked away in frustration. I had let my friends know I’d be back, and went to find him. When I finally did, he was by the huge windows on the third floor. His back was against the cool blue lockers, in which truth be told needed some remodeling. The light from the windows over casted the whole hallway, making it nice and warm from the sun.

“What’d I do now?”

“Nothing, I just don’t like the fact that your supposed friends always bring you into drama. It’s not good, because it’ll distract you from why you’re really here. You remember last year?”

I nodded in agreement, and suddenly all my mistakes from freshman year flashed before my eyes.

“You were so focused on making friends and fitting in, your grades weren’t the best. You know you can do better,” he said with a slight frown on his face.

I knew it was time to focus on bettering myself as a whole, but what about my friends. Were they really my friends? I nodded it off, gave him a hug and we went our separate ways, class was about to start. As I headed to class, I was stopped again. This time it was casual conversation, from a group of girls I hadn’t talked to all summer. We exchanged numbers and talked about everything we heard so far about the people in our grade.

“Did you hear that she had like four boyfriends this summer?” Said one girl.

“That’s disgusting, she needs a thorough cleaning.”

I stood there, stunned by the fact they were talking about their own friend. By the time the conversation was over I was fifteen minutes late to class. I didn’t care though, there was too much to be talked about, and too many people to talk to. So I slowly made my way to Biochem.

As soon as my foot touched the other side of the door frame, I was welcomed with an angry tone.

“Oh nice of you to join us, we picked seats but since you were late you were assigned one.”

She pointed to a chair in the front of the class. I couldn’t do nothing but roll my eyes, and trudge my way to my seat. I pulled out my notebook, and got through all the first day of school antics.

The next day, before school my boyfriend and I went to get breakfast from Arch Gourmet. It was basically the hangout for science leadership students. It was so bad, that the principal literally had to come everyday to pull students out for school. Once we got our food we headed across the small street, and into the two glass doors of the school. We went our separate ways, when I finally reached the fifth floor I let out an exasperated sigh.

“Were you talking about me?” Said a voice from behind.

“No, who told you that?”

“Don’t worry about it, and don’t have my name come out of your mouth.” She was so loud, it seemed like almost on purpose. Everybody stopped to watch. I heard low chuckles and conversations, obviously about what was going on. She walked away with an agitated grunt, and went back into her class. It was like she was waiting for me, but at the same time she came out of nowhere. I was confused but, I continued on heading to class. When I got to class, I texted Jahmar to tell him what happened.

It’s like she came out of nowhere and knew where I was like it was planned. The other day her own friends were talking about her, I just was around them. Somebody in that group had to have said something to cover their own butt. It makes no sense.

He replied quick, almost if he knew I was in distress.

You just need to think about who you’re around, and who really is your friends. They were all probably talking about you too. You never know.

Those last three words stuck to me, every time the same group of girls came up to me to say hi. From that point on, I was fine being by myself. I realized trying to make peace with everyone in school I in a way lost myself. Before coming to SLA I was passionate about drawing and my work, but when I only thought about the social aspect of school it slowed me down. It went from me doing my work or drawing occasionally to not at all. Days went on, I started to only worry about me and my boyfriend. At lunch, instead of being energetic and practically running around the school, I sat and did my work. It became a routine, and I finally came to the conclusion that it was okay.

Having this experience made me okay with being in tune with myself. Before, especially during freshman year and sophomore year I wasn’t. I think when you hear about high school or see it on TV. They focus mainly on the social part. Compared to the complete dynamic of school as a whole. When I first heard of SLA, I thought the school was the absolute perfect fit. When I came to tour I saw everyone getting along, it was a friendly and free atmosphere. Kids were in groups, wandering the halls and blasting music.When I finally did come to the school, I was ultimately alone. I wasn’t okay with that, so I tried to fit in with everybody. I Came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be able to please everyone and drama would occur somewhere down the line. The social norms of highschool doesn’t really fit everyone. There’s is more to it compared to the polished ideal in myself and others head.


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1_wYLO5D7SEzz8Y3ZMFhAY2nhekmAeTWd

Dear Depression

Dear Depression,

It’s hard to pinpoint the first time you made your unwelcoming appearance in my life. You were never somebody that I had wanted to be around, let alone having you become someone so important in my life. I always felt the need to brush you off, act like you were never there because there is so many things I can or should be happy about.

It seems like you come and go at your own will with no regards for who I am or what I want. There are days when I wake up and you lay heavy on my chest, making it hard for me to get out of bed, making even the smallest tasks the hardest things to do. There are other days when you stay hidden, you allow me to have good days every once in a while, and for that I thank you.

Sometimes you pop up in my life again after something happens, for example suddenly last year after Aunt Terry died, and 2 months later when Aunt Joan died you made your appearance known to me in many ways. You made your way into my life, becoming a crucial part of my everyday routine. You made it known to me that you were in charge, made me feel like I couldn’t do anything and that I just had to live with you. It was like you knew when I was at me weakest moments and wouldn’t fight back, those were the times you came, the other times you stayed away.  

Sometimes you come when things are going well and there’s nothing to worry about, when life seems to be good. When there’s nothing going wrong in my life and when I’m happy. When you come to say hi when I’m laying in bed after a good day hanging out with friends, when you come to visit me when I’m feeling the most productive and capable of getting things done.

I never thought I’d ask for help getting rid of you, I mean you could say we know each other fairly well, not friends, but not enemies either. Then the summer came and you hit me, cries for help erupted everywhere in my life. It didn’t take long before mom and dad caught on, dad said you were “just teenage shit.” Mom tried to sympathise but it was hard for her, it reminded her of times when you used to visit her bearing the same gifts.

The first time I really addressed you was awkward, it made me angry, sad, confused. The question I seemed to always ask was “Why me?” With so many other people in the world why was I the one who was chosen to be visited by you, why I was the one that you wanted to become familiar with?

The first few therapy sessions made me feel weird, I didn’t like talking about you, it brought you to light, made me feel like I was giving you the power that you didn’t deserve. I really don’t like talking about you still, but I know that it’s something that I have to do. Every two weeks like clockwork I go and pay to talk about you with some lady who listens and nods her head for 45 minutes, I want to think it’s helping but I honestly don’t know.

Then there’s the other guy, the doctor who gives me pills to scare you away. I visit him monthly and he asks me about any new side effects I’ve had due to my medications and then writes out a script for me to take to get filled so I don’t run out of the small white pills that make you stay away.

The first few weeks on them were hell, but I was willing to try anything to get you to go away. Lack of sleep, vivid dreams, sleep paralysis, loss of appetite, headaches, tiredness. After a few weeks they started to go away, leaving me one by one. Slowly but surely they disappeared, bringing me back to myself, I felt like myself again.

Since I’ve started on the pills you haven’t visited me as much, you haven’t been showing up at much at night when the whole house is quiet and I’m trying to sleep. You don’t come to visit for as long when things go wrong, but there are still days when you come visit. There are still days where you come and cuddle with me, sit on my chest and convince me to stay in bed, try to convince me that things won’t get better, that they’ll always be like this.

I would like to think that you won’t be making visits to me forever, but who knows? The more time I spend with you the more accustomed I get to the signs that you’ll visit soon, the easier I can make you leave, the better I can deal with you while you’re here.

I’ll give it to you though, you’ve taught me a lot. You brought me close to people that didn’t help me, but ended up teaching me lessons in the long run. You taught me that sometimes it’s okay to be weak, sometimes it’s okay to ask for help, and that I don’t always have to be the strong person. That sometimes it’s okay to lean on other people when I can’t support myself.

I sometimes wish that you never came to visit me, I wish that I could’ve lived the life I was before you came. I wish that when you first showed up I asked for help rather than trying to fix myself. I wish that I confronted you rather than ignoring you.

You’re someone I have chosen to be quiet about, someone who I don’t tell many people about. There are a few reasons for that, maybe because I’m ashamed or maybe because I don’t have it as bad as other people, because others have it worse and you don’t visit them, because in some people’s eyes I’m being “overdramatic.” For a fear of being seen as crazy, not normal and not fitting in.

There will be a day when I no longer associate myself with you, there will be some time where you’re just a memory, not somebody who visits currently. I won’t say I wish you didn’t ever come to visit because you’ve taught me a lot, but there are some things that were hard for me.

You taught me a lot about myself and the world around me, that sometimes I have to be there for myself, but others it’s okay to ask for help. Thank you for all you’ve done, but I’ll thank myself over and over again for getting rid of you once you're gone.

Sincerely,

Julia


The Ingredients To A Perfect Disaster

Sharron Norton

Personal Memoir

Ms. Pahomova

3 English

The Ingredients To A Perfect Disaster

They tell you don’t forget where you came from. I regret where I came from. The manifestation of my existence was solely based on the desire of skin and a placeholder to fill the missing piece of a father’s love. There was no love in my making, nor is there today. No happy white picket fence type of family. Instead what was left of this mess was a 15 year old high schooler with clothes that looked as if it couldn’t barely fit her small petite body always with a big snow coat on, rushing to the bathroom. And to your surprise, hiding me.  

I never really knew the details surrounding the circumstance around my coming into the world.  I was left to soak up whatever my mom or grandma desired to slip out. I was left to suffer the longing to want a father. I’m independent and I had to learn that the hard way. I learned dependability, for it was a gateway to disappointment. Do you know how it feels to always feel alone? Do you know how it feels to always be disappointed, to always feel drained by the disappointment? I do not want your pity. I don’t need anyone to tell me that I’m better off, or that my life's better without him in it. I’ve understood this from a young age. I’ve understood that two can sometimes be better than three. When the last one is only there to anger you. All that I am is all that you see. My heart not being placed on my sleeve is no longer a defense mechanism, but a way I’ve chosen to live my life.

So I live taking one day at a time. But sometimes the noise gets too loud. The clamor begins to suffocate me. And just before I lose the grasp of what really matters after I worked so hard to get to that place; I slip back into my old ways. A place of solitude where my mind was beaten to believe I was nothing. A place where I was pushed into blaming myself.  A place where I envied others lives, and punish myself every day for it.  For it’s a sin in my religion. I tell myself it’s the color of my skin, but it’s not that simple. I know I am beautiful on the outside. But ugliness was linked to the environment I lived in. I envy the innocents my peers have had growing up when it has been ripped out my bare hands with my permission. I had no voice. For was silenced by my emotions on the lost of him that if I expressed how I felt then he would once again leave and this time it would be my own faught. So I endured the misery. I took comfort in it for it made me feel. The inflicting torment it gave me constructed agony in the best way. A love-hate relationship, I guess you can say.

But with this self medicate came along the nastiest type of anger. I would put on this personification that I was okay and that it didn't affect me but inside, self-hate dominated. I hated myself, for how could I have wanted somebody in my life that didn’t care about his only daughter? A person who had the money to care for you but choose not to. How could I want a man in my life who purposely disrespected my mother constantly and caused the feud between our relationship? The load of regret became too heavy and all at once it towered down. All that was left of the ruins were brokenness. He left me with nothing. The only thing this man gave was the color of my skin and my appearance. Everything else he selfishly possesses in his childish soul. Everything he took from me that prevented me from access to a world of both parents to happiness of a little girl, innocence, and peace. He denied me access to feel the love from a father.  What he stole from me was the opportunity on how a man should treat you. I have to learn this on my own for there are just some things a mother can’t teach you.  He says, “ All the things that you went- Nu, I never meant to put you thought it”. He explains this to me as if he wants me to tell him how to right his wrongs. But I couldn't and wouldn’t. He was too stubborn for his own good to see that he was the cause of my despair. And like father and daughter,  I was too.

I felt lost in this world. All that went through my head was that no one could understand how I felt. In the aftermath of it all, I felt that I would never be truly cherished. But in the midst of it all, I got the chance to actually feel loved by someone. This person was very dear to me.  But I let my fear of letting someone into my life misguide me and letting a great opportunity fade away. I had been beaten into submission into thinking that all the good things that came across my life would never work. I was so used to believing that all men were the same. I let fear and the anger of my father, once again, rob me of what I was to be awarded of. And still today I am troubled by my decision. Trouble from how my life could separate such a great relationship. How it's baggage dressed in sheep's clothing took the responsibility to purposely shout out to destroy happiness when I need it most. I was arrogant, thinking it would actually last right? Yeah, I know.  

I blame my failure at a true relationship all on me. I didn’t know how to handle all the emotions. For so long I’ve had all of these emotions bottled up because I am ashamed of my thoughts. I can’t talk to my friends even my mother, who is my closest companion, about how I feel because I have no words it. And if I try to speak on my body will drown in it all. And I carry this burden with me every day. I don’t feel anymore. I used to be sad but now I’m just numb. And now, all of a sudden I feel really tired. Like the world had drained me of everything that I had. And suddenly,  I decided it was time to change. To not give this man the satisfaction of feeling he won. To live for my sisters. Live for my mother and do the best I can so I won’t be classified as another stereotype. But I do have my bad days. Someday I feel the world can be just a plane of my existence and nothing more, just repeated streets and highways, to remind me that the world never changes. And during those days, the only consistency I enjoy is sleep.






What You've Done - Lauren Brown's Personal Essay

Lauren Brown
Ms. Pahomov
English 3
22 December 2017
What You’ve Done

It’s not easy to believe that anything good can come from your own best friend’s death, but I’ve found that changing my mindset is really the only option that will make life without you more bearable. That constructive and positive mindset is the only thing that brings me a step closer to the myth they call ’acceptance.’ That mindset is the only thing that helps me to portray optimism. That mentality is the reason why I no longer despise him. It feels silly to say that I began to hate you after you died. It feels silly because why hate someone that’s not alive? It feels silly because why hate someone who you call your best friend?
On March 3rd, 2015, I went to sleep happy. Nothing seemed to be going wrong. I was an eighth grader with a lot of good friends, a healthy-ish family, and high grades. Money wasn’t important yet, I still got good sleep, and Ed Sheeran was releasing new music. Everything was good. Or so I thought. On March 4th, I woke up to a text from my classmate, Elizabeth. I was immediately confused when I saw that she begging me not to go on Instagram. Why was she trying to convince me that everything would be alright? What the hell was she talking about? Obviously I went straight to Instagram to see what she was trying, but failing, to shield me from. Image after image after image on my timeline were photos of your beautiful face with the understating word ‘MISSING’, plastered across the bottom.
For the next four days, I followed the same helpless routine. I woke up at 8 AM every morning and walked two miles to the Chestnut Hill Library. I would print out as many ‘MISSING’ posters as I could afford and post them all over my town. Do you remember the one summer I that worked there? At that painfully grim library? When you would stay on the phone with me until I got there safely and then laugh at my dreading the rest of the day? I remembered those phone calls for those next four days. You wouldn’t answer the phone no matter how many times I called. My worry gradually turned to anger the more and more times I tried to reach you. I couldn’t understand why you would ‘run away’ without telling me. I was hurt and confused I felt like I hadn’t done my job as a friend if you couldn’t even trust me enough to talk to me about it.
I remember that my dad kept saying to me “Karyn, if you know where he is you need to tell me. We can help him. I promise he won’t get in trouble; his parents just need to know he’s safe.” I would cry and yell at him and tell him that I wish I knew. To be honest, I didn’t care at all whether you got in trouble. I just wanted you to be found and to be home safe. I felt the pain of not knowing simply as your friend, so I couldn’t even try to imagine how your parents were feeling.
On March 7th I got a phone call from an unknown phone number while I was hanging signs in a Starbucks. I answered eagerly and was disappointed by the strange deep voice that greeted me. For those four days my heart jumped whenever my phone rang. I had this ongoing hope that it could be you. To my surprise it was a detective; He started by apologizing for ‘bothering me’ and explained that I wasn’t in trouble. He said that the reason he called was because I was one of your most frequent contacts and was hoping I could help him. He began to interrogate me immediately. The questions he asked about you were really intrusive and personal, but I answered every single one honestly and to the best of my ability. I remember being frustrated when I didn’t know the answers to some. I just wanted you to be found. He told me to save his number and not to hesitate to call him if I found out or remembered anything, even if it seemed irrelevant.
Then there was March 9th. That day was the worst of my life, Cayman. My mom and Jeff had taken me out of town so that I could put more posters up. They forced me into a lunch break and I listened to our favorite songs through my headphones to block out their chatting. I had heard enough ‘maybe-this and maybe-that’s’ and it didn’t make things better. Then the food came and I put my phone face down on the counter. Suddenly, my mom’s phone started buzzing against the table and I saw the caller ID pop up. It said “Gene.” You know my parents cannot stand each other and they do not talk at all. I knew something was wrong. Then came the moment that I will never forget. For the first time my mind allowed itself to go into its darkest corners. For the first time I actually considered the possibility of you being dead.All of a sudden everything added up. I looked at my mom’s face and I just knew. My mom reached to pick up the phone and that’s when I screamed. I don’t remember much that happened after that.
I woke up in my bed, tucked in with Ed Sheeran playing quietly. My mom was sitting at the foot of my bed, rubbing my leg and staring at me. The white walls of my bedroom seemed to be growing father and farther apart and I felt so far from everyone, so alone. I tried to convince myself that the day would come when it wouldn’t hurt as badly, but I could not believe that. I did not believe that there could possibly be any reason for you to be gone. Or worse, for you to choose to be gone.
For a long time I thought that there could be a single person to blame. First I tried to blame myself. I was convinced that I could have done something to prevent it or that I should have somehow known. You always complimented me on how observant you thought I was. How could that possibly be true? I didn’t see that you were hurting; I had no clue. 
Next I blamed you. My sadness quickly turned to anger and for a while I was sure that you were simply selfish. My confusion and frustration caused my anger to turn into hatred. I’ve often felt like I hate you more than I love you.
Your suicide really caused a lot of change. Some ways for the worse, and in some ways for the better. Yeah, I miss you somehow every time I breath, but I’ve tried to enhance my perspective.
I’ve told you enough about the bad things your death has caused. I feel that it would be wrong for me not to tell you the ways that my life has changed for the better since the worst experience of my life.
Living without someone as good a friend as you made me want to be a better friend to the ones I have. I’m trying to be more supportive if someone needs help. I’m now even more loving to the people I care about because I now recognize that time really isn’t promised and you never know when will be the last time you will see that person. My appreciation for the people in my life increased immensely.
Less relevantly, I now know that suicide will never be an option for me no matter what happens to me because I’ve experienced it first hand and therefore I know how badly it affects people. The cliché “Everything happens for a reason” used to be a lot harder to believe. Although it is sometimes seems untrue, I’ve seen how my relationship between myself and the changing world has changed in ways in for the better.

Zaire Personal Essay

Have you ever felt like something was holding you back from really living your life? I once felt the same way. Every. Single. Day. I couldn’t enjoy my life in the way that  I wanted to because I was different from “normal people”.

Imagine being in elementary and having someone watch over you the whole school day. You go to recess, she tells you to stop or you’ll hurt yourself, or slow down or reminds you that you can’t play that way. After, you have to be taken out of class to take medication to keep you free from injuries, and having things be the same way outside of school. That was me. I felt like my walls were too small for me to explore, I was trapped in a box. I started to hate this part of me and wonder when I could enjoy myself like other kids. I hated that I was different from other kids in my neighborhood. This is what Hemophilia did to me. What that means is my blood doesn’t clot normally. What that looks like can be pretty awful.

For example, about 4 years ago, my brother and I were playing at the park downtown. The park had large game pieces for decoration. I stood up on one of them,  looked over to the next one and told myself I could make the jump. I ran and jumped off into the air. As soon as I landed, my foot slipped and I injured my leg by hitting it on the side of the game piece. I thought I was fine at first so we went on with our day. As I was walking my leg began to ache really bad. I lift my pants leg up and my calf was swollen really bad, the whole thing was purple and bruised. We went home and I took my medication. I waited a week for it to get better but there was no result. A few days later my mom took me to the Hematology clinic. The nurses ran a few test on me. They told me I had an inhibitor. My medication wasn’t working properly for me so the healing took even longer after getting hurt. Not being able to walk, stand or even sleep the way you want to for almost a whole month, are somethings you wouldn’t want to live with.

I didn’t want to miss anymore days of school, so I was told to use a wheelchair until my leg was fully healed. The first day back at school  after the incident was annoying for me. I had a lot of different people I knew, and some that I didn’t know, come up to me saying things like, “What happened?”, “How long until you can walk again?” or “Dang, I wouldn’t want to be you.” The entire time I wanted to respond, “Do you think I would want to be myself right now?”Day in, day out I have to suffer from my own life of living with a disorder I didn’t ask for. I can’t even go to school and perform  simple tasks, such as writing or walking, without getting a  messed up leg or having my finger having a spontaneous swelling. Yeah it seems like  something small but knowing things like that will happen again constantly leaves no room forgetting used to it. Who would want to be me?  

Throughout my life I’ve loved sports, watching and  playing alike. My favorites are basketball and football because I understand what’s going on, unlike with other sports.  Do you remember point of time when you were younger had that perfect career for the future in mind? I always wanted to be a football player. It didn’t matter what team I would play for, as long as it was a good team. My position, quarterback or Wide receiver. When I was old enough to play for a team, I asked my dad if he could sign me up for a neighborhood football team. I remember him looking at me and doing a short laugh. Then he saw that I was serious.

He told me what I always hear. “ Listen, I know you love football, I would sign you up tomorrow if I could. But you know you can’t play a sport like that, it’s too rough for you. Just try to look for something different, and?” There was no point of trying to argue and getting my point across. I wanted to hear something different like “Yeah you can play but just be careful” or “You’ll need extra gear to protect you.” I would’ve done anything to play football. The way I felt that day, it was truly heartbreaking. As life went on for me, I began to feel like I had no purpose, but to go to school and get good grades. I hid my pain deep down inside and accepted the box I was living in.

My freshmen year of high school, I took my father's advice and looked for different things I thought I would enjoy. I went to a few robotic club meetings at first but it was boring, really boring for me. Later in that school year, I started to go to art club because some  of my friends thought I was really good. I did go to a couple art classes at Moore College of Art and Design back in middle school, so I thought why not improve my drawing skills. I enjoyed it but I didn’t stay for long. I felt like I was missing something. Something like the excitement, that adrenaline running through my veins. Competition. I wanted something that would keep me going and motivated. My sophomore year I tried out for a sport I wasn’t so good at, track & field. I was a little nervous at first, I was afraid I wasn’t fast enough but I tried out anyway. track & field wasn’t on the list of sports I couldn’t play, neither was baseball, but I felt more comfortable with track. My first year of track, I was disappointed with my performance. I have a lot to learn so I planned to continue my junior and senior year.

At this point of my life, being more mature and accepting that space I was stuck in for so long, helped me see that this box has so much to offer to me, and I was blinded by the things I wanted most. When everything I needed was right in front of my face. Growing up, I believe so much was given to me for having Hemophilia. I’m giving a big thank you to St. Christopher’s Hospital,Hematology specifically. They provide so much for me and my family, things such as being able to see different events for free. Santa and Channel 6 news coming to my home and giving us with amazing gifts twice, and being selected by Make-A-Wish Foundation. My wish was having a whole week vacation to Disneyworld and Universal Studios Florida. When there’s something bad in your life, you always have to look on the bright side. I believe God gave me this blood disorder for a reason and I just have to find it while I’m still young, instead of complaining all my life about how I can’t do certain things. I’m starting to understand, there's a lot of things I can do in the world and have accomplished. I once felt like hemophilia was holding me back from living my life, but being different can lead to different and amazing possibilities.


Archive XXX: How Change affects the Self or A Summer with a Pencil

Hello, once again. It is I, your ancestor, Julia Furman. This archive will discuss my opinions on change. I usually don’t like change, as I am (well, in this case, was) one who liked to follow a routine. The only kind of surprises I liked were the kind you get on birthdays and Christmas, and the twist endings in mystery novels. However, in retrospect, some changes had a very good effect on me as a person, making me the lovable (yet EXTREMELY quirky) person I was at the time. However, I know for a fact that some aren’t so lucky, and a change can completely ruin their lives.

I know an example of one of these life-changing moments, but it didn’t actually happen. Not in real life anyway. It happened in The Yellow Birds, a novel by Kevin Powers. Before I go into the details, I would like to give some background on The Yellow Birds. The novel follows Private John Bartle and Private Daniel Murphy, two soldiers in the Iraq War, and the bond they formed during their time together. The book has received a lot of praise in my day, but I personally found reading the book very soul crushing and torturous. I was really sensitive, and reading through the more graphic sections were painful for me. For example, a soldier and an old woman were killed off in the first chapter, and it didn’t get better from there. However, I do like the way Kevin Powers described the scenes. They had a poetic feel to them, which I admired. I also appreciate how it displays the mental effects of being in a war. This makes sense, since Kevin Powers himself was a soldier in the Iraq War too.

With that out of the way, the change in this case is the death of Murphy, and the effect it has on Bartle. Spoiler alert, Murphy does die. It’s actually revealed very early in the book. Anyway, Murphy’s death had many impacts on Bartle. Two of them are the deterioration of Bartle’s mental state and the new sense of responsibility he felt for the life of his fallen friend. In the beginning of the book, Bartle made a promise to Murphy’s mother that he would bring her son home safely from the war. While he didn’t take it very seriously at first, after Murphy died, he felt more at fault for the life he promised to protect. This caused him to feel guilty (obviously), and on top of the stress that comes from fighting in wars that I can only imagine, Bartle’s mental state started to deteriorate. There was literally a part where he imagined himself dying. I take that as him thinking that he should have died, which is not a sign of a sane mind.

This change just happened to have a negative impact. Change can also have a positive impact. For example, I have a personal story about how a change in my world impacted me in a positive way. The story is about how a knee replacement and a boring summer helped me make progress on my personal writing projects. For the record, I was not the one who got the knee replacement, my mom did. The story starts, when my mom was 14. She tore cartilage in her knee. After two surgeries to remove the torn cartilage, one at 16 and another at 21, it was time for her to get it replaced. For the first couple weeks, she couldn’t really get in her car, so we didn’t really go anywhere that summer, and we hung around the house a lot. I helped mom around the house, but when I wasn’t doing that, I did small things to occupy my time. As I mentioned before, one thing I did was write. I had just started writing novel-like stories the January of that year, when I was in eighth grade. The project I was working on at the time, and that I’m still working on at the time of this recording, is a series based on the popular sandbox video game, Minecraft. I won’t go over the main plot of the series too much, as there are other archives that go into more detail. However, it features the main characters solving the mysteries of their home while fighting to save it. One particular mystery is that of the red dragon, which was extinct for years until a baby red dragon hatched at the end of the first book, A Legend Reborn. Fun Fact: The red dragon was planned to be in the actual game, but it was removed. The series has 28 books in total, and over the course of that summer, I managed to finish the first and second ones, and start the third one. I feel that the experience has made me a better writer, and I am grateful for the progress I made.

Screenshot 2017-12-21 at 5.33.58 PM
Screenshot 2017-12-21 at 5.33.58 PM

This is a rough draft of the second book in the series, Miners of the West Sea. For more information on what I wrote, see the other archives, if they are not extremely popular in your time. Otherwise, you can probably easily find them.

As you can see, I believe that change has many effects on the self. Change can be negative, but it can also help one grow, or even discover or improve something about themselves. I wonder how much the future has changed since my time, as I most likely won’t live to see it. Honestly, I worry about the future a lot. I suppose if one, the earth isn’t destroyed, two, we haven’t been invaded by aliens, three, robots don’t rule the world, four, the country isn’t composed of a capital and 13 districts and every year, a young boy and girl are gathered to fight in a battle to the death filmed on live TV, or five, any other dystopian future scenarios thought up by us in the past have not come true, I’m sure it’s not that bad.

https://vimeo.com/250437612

The Tormenting Tyrant

Sean DeSilva

Ms. Pahomov

English 3

3 January 2018


Developing as a person requires openness. Being open about certain things will help people develop their habits throughout their life, developing character in the long run. But something that we need to take into account is that not all people are the same. Hiding certain beliefs or just keeping secrets from one another is known to be a common thing from any age. As humans we observe many characteristics in people. The way they greet you, look at you, help you and how they are involved in your daily life. Us, being humans keep secrets from one another thinking that it would solve the troubles we go through. I’m not saying that keep secrets from a loved one, a friend or someone important in your life is necessarily good, but it helps slow down the pain in the beginning.

From personal experience I can account for how keeping a certain secret made a significant impact on my life. It was my 5th grade year in middle school. Being 10 years old, I was ignorant about many things, but still willing to try and understand. I was a very social kid, in and outside of school. I was willing to make friends wherever I went and help others. But I hadn’t known the feeling of emotional damage. He was the new kid in town, named Justin. He was very quiet but still had that “I’m tough” look on his face whenever he sat down during class. At first, I was intimidated by him, I thought to myself “Should I say hi? He is a new student after all.” It was time to go to lunch, we had just been taught some mind boggling fractions in math class, I know right?! I went over to Justin, since he was two students away from me in the lunch line and I said, “Hey, nice to meet you my names Sean!” With a big smile on my face. Justin replied with a relaxed but yet insensitive tone, “Sup.” I thought to myself, “Well I guess he really doesn’t want to talk...I’ll just go get my lunch and talk to my other friends.” “Uh...I’m going to go get lunch.” I replied as I tried to make our quick conversation less awkward, walking away in embarrassment.  

Once I got my school pizza, something that all middle schoolers dream about getting, that fresh five star school lunch quality, I sat down next to my other friends in my class as we began to talk about what games to play after school. Time flew very fast and it was time for recess! We quickly lined up to go outside in the warm sunny weather, it was the start of the school year after all. I walked in a group of friends as we reached the light that was outside. I’m not kidding, when our vice principal opened the door, it was really bright! But it was probably because of how bad our school lighting was. We all rushed outside screaming in excitement, to have forty-five minutes of freedom. As I traveled in the group of my friends, that was when I saw Justin all by himself. I went over to him and I invited him to play dodgeball with us and he accepted. I thought to myself, “Cool! Now we can be friends.”

Once we began the game of dodgeball, my favorite sport next to swimming, Justin gave me an intense look. A look that to this date, I cannot forget. It screamed “You’re going down.” I was very intimidated but I didn’t think too much of it in that moment. We started throwing the “spherical orbs of death” as I liked to call it, at one another. Justin came out of nowhere and throw two dodgeballs at me, and not on the arm. One hit me directly on the face while the other one collided into my left ear. The pain was a sting, a burn, a bad feeling. I immediately stopped the game and screamed at him, “What’s wrong with you?!” Soon after my eruption, the vice principal came over and assed the situation. He took Justin out of the game, to the office. My group of friends came over to make sure I was okay, I said “Yeah...I’m fine.” I walked away from the group and sat in the corner of the playground waiting for class to start back up again. Class resumed and the school day was regular as always, except that I had a gloomy look on my face until the school day ended. One thing I noticed during class was that Justin wasn’t there anymore. “I know what happened to him...He probably got expelled!” I thought to myself, smiling…”That’s what he gets.” I continued thinking about the severe punishments he can get. The school day ended, my father came to pick me up and we went home.

Although the school day ended, the actual day didn’t end. My father asked me if anything interesting happened at school as he handed me my sandwich since school lunch really didn’t satisfy my lunch. I told him, “No, same old, same old.” But being my father he knew something was up, and I knew that he knew. So I tried to look away from him whenever he tried to see my face. He saw a bruise on my face and asked me “What the hell happened?!” As rage consumed his eyes. I told him that I feel during recess and tried to laugh it off as I covered my tears. My father replied with a reassuring “Alright. But be more careful next time.” I responded with a “You got it!” trying to make myself seem fine so my dad doesn’t find anything suspicious.

The next day, I had school...Again! I know right? Five times a week for an entire year...Yeah tell me about it. My friends greeted me with big smiles as I waited outside the gate with my dad waiting for the school doors to open. “I really hope that kid Justin isn’t here…” I thought to myself, as my worried eyes spoke for me when my friends looked at my gloomy face. “Good morning!” The principle shouted. “Have a good day, Son.” my dad told me as he kissed my head and patted me on the back, “See you soon” I said as I tried to force a smile out of my resisting body. I walked up the mountainous steps for a 10 year old, to the auditorium. Just to be greeted by the vice principal and next to him, Justin. “Justin would like to say something to you, Sean.” The vice principal said to me in a firm manner as Justin looked at me, teary eyed. “I’m sorry about yesterday, Sean. I got too aggressive when we were playing.” “Oh, it’s okay! Let’s be friends, right?” I asked Justin as my day felt like it was beginning to shine once again. “Yeah! That would be cool.” Justin responded as we shook hands and walked to our classroom.

The day presume, regular classes, regular me. Once recess approached, I asked Justin if he wanted to play tag with my friends and me. He replied, “Yeah, I love tag dude!” “Ha! Me too.” I said smiling as I reached out for a high-five. He rose his left hand up high, to what I thought was a high-five coming back at me...But it wasn’t. He slapped me across my left cheek, causing a red mark to appear on my face. Once he had made contact with my face I immediately thought to myself, “This kids insane...I try to befriend him but he just wants to hurt me. No wonder he’s alone.” Tears quickly fell down my face, the pain was nostalgic. I looked at him, with rage and sorrow, uttering these words, “I hate you.” I’ve never actually said that to someone and meant it...But in that moment I knew I meant what I said. Justin looked back at me, cocky, grinning and heroic. He asked me “Oh, yeah? Well what are you going to do about it?” “Just wait…” I said, threatening him as I was hurt emotionally and physically.” I walked away, I walked to do the right thing. I tapped the vice principal on the shoulder as he patroles the playground. “Justin’s bullying me!” I said with anger, wiping my tears off my face, looking at the vice principal in the eye. Justin ran over to the principal nad I, exclaiming that he didn’t do anything “wrong.” The vice principal and I both knew he was in the wrong, due to his prior actions. The vice principal called my dad over to asses the issue for good.

Justin and I both walked to the office to resolve this issue. My dad walked in a couple minutes after, as our house was close to the school. “Sean? I knew something was going on!” My dad shouted in rage as he entered the office. I’ve never seen him this angry, but not at me...At Justin. “How could you do this to my son? I assumed that the vice principal had informed him of the bullying Justin had done to me. “All he wanted to was welcome you and be your friend!” He continued, Justin looked like he was going to cry, but he held back. “I-I’m sorry...I really am.” Justin muttered as a tear rolled down his face, onto the ground...Splashing like the ocean had dropped onto the dry ground of the Earth, expanding onto the cracks of the ground. “It’s okay, Justin.” I said quickly, before my father went off on a further rant. “I understand where you’re coming from.” I said when I really didn’t. “Just make sure to be kinder to others, because not everyone's tough as you!” I said laughing to bring some humor to the tension. “Dad, it’s okay, he’s learned his lesson.” I said to my dad to calm him down. “Alright Son.” “Thank you.” My dad said to the vice principal, as pulled me out of school early. We walked home, I didn’t want to look back at Justins face, but I did. I saw him crying, but I knew it was for the best, for him to learn his lesson and become a better person.

I’ve learned throughout the 16 years that I’ve been on this planet, that not everyone's the same but we all sometimes desire the same thing. That “desire is to seek help when we are on the needing end. Many people, like you and I, may go through strife once in awhile but the main question that rises is “How do we deal with it?”