Bonds that can never be Forgotten

Bonds that can never be Forgotten

You are standing outside of the large auditorium at the entrance to school looking for your friend. You are waiting and hoping that that person’s bus is just late, and that this won’t be another day when he doesn’t show up. Another day when you wander the halls, hoping to see his face peeking around the corner. Your eyes look over all the students trying to find that one person you could catch with one look. Then the first sound of the clanging morning bell rings and the teachers force you to go in; if you don’t, they will get mad. You linger, sitting at the doorway, hoping, waiting, staring at the door.  

Finally, you make your way into the auditorium. As the assembly ends, you finally see it: the old ratty shoes with holes and that sweatshirt that needs to be cleaned. Giving a small wave the person you been waiting for since the beginning of the day comes in. Your smile grows and although it's a subtle nod, it floods you with a feeling of relief that it’s another day with someone who hates being in school just like you do. A person can’t change everything you are feeling, but this particular person can make all the feelings of dark matter go away, even if only for a few moments. No adult can change the friendship you share. You fight like siblings, but you both care so much about each other.

On a freezing Tuesday at the start of winter, that person you care so much about walks in with a look that can’t be explained, but the eyes full of pain are evident. You step away worried.  You say nothing and that same person flashes a fake smile to some other students, but you can’t help but be scared so that day you choose not to join and sit far away in the auditorium and cafe. During a lunch period a few weeks later, you find out there is some very difficult news you don’t want to hear. However, you listen as you should and this friend tells you that there is some abuse in the home, not anything physical but mental.

You know that this person’s anger stems from this family situation and it comes out with a fiery temper that can be very scary, but if you know why there is anger and where it comes from it changes the perspective of a person. Why is this happening? Why is there so much pain in the eyes of the one person you feel so close to? Why can’t you take the pain away? It’s not right for anyone to hurt your friend and all you can do is stand by their side.

A mouse will always be caught by snake if it chooses not to pay attention. That is what happened one day when I was told that my friend Nathan would be sent off to a camp/school for his anger problems. He would keep getting angry and he would pick fights with students but never got in trouble for his actions until the day a teacher witnessed one of his fights. It upset me that he chose to keep exhibiting the same behavior even after he got caught and it became clear that a punishment was not going to change his attitude. In the following weeks, Nathan would be out at least once a week. He used any excuse he could get out of school, including being sick, having to watch his younger sibling and even faking an injury.  I always knew he was a hard head but I didn’t see how hard it was until that moment. He would later tell me that he was going to be sent to a camp to help him deal with the anger find ways to express himself other than fighting. I asked him how long he would be gone for, but he never gave me a clear answer and we never bring it up again.  I quickly learned that Nathan would be the mouse and his drama was the snake that would catch him every time.

There were some bold statements we tried to make about the culture of the school. I found out later the real ways the school should have been handling certain things but that would be three years after Nathan left my life. I questioned why this person would be taken away from me. He was the rock who, at the time, I believed was holding me together. To me he was the friend who cared and the friend who would listen to the problems I had, which all seemed so small in comparison to what he was going through. I still hold him in high regard as a person and friend who has had an impact on my life.. Nathan was not perfect not even close to an angel, but he had fire that no one at the time could get out. Under that fire was some who wanted just to be heard and I was able to listen.  

Nathan and I had bond that I felt and still feel could never be broken. My relation was like a character from The Things they Carried. The character was named Rat Kiley who told a story about a letter he wrote to a fallen soldier sister to tell how great the soldier was as a friend and person. The difference in this story is that this story is not a letter but the idea of what is written is the same.  At the time I was going through a lot just like he was at home. There was never abuse like the way he had but stress I could feel. I was very unhappy life to me was not going well.  I will never feel different from what he gave me was joy to be a friend. He stood by my side and I stood by his. His actions and reactions did make our stand against time. We would not be physical friends for long but he would stand in my memory for a long time.  

You don’t wake up one day and say that person is going to impact the way your life is. That is impossible. But as humans we do look back a lot more than people believe. There is a sense of specific events that are woven together to make us who we are. When flashing back into the past Nathan is one of the first choices who impacted a life that is not perfect.



The Whole Truth And Nothing But

“I knew that at least a few of the stars I saw were probably gone already, collapsed into nothing. I felt like I was looking at a lie. But I didn't mind. The world makes liars of us all.”

Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds

“The world makes liars of us all.” Truer words have never been said. I was raised to believe that telling the truth is always the right thing, so tell me why every time that I tell the truth I’m the bad guy.  I have always carried around the title of being mean. People would ask me for my honest opinion and well...I gave just that. In fact in my middle school days I got sent to the dean for telling this girl in my class the truth. She asked me if she was pretty and I told her the full unbridled truth. Long story short I said no , well I didn’t just say no but I said not to me which was the truth. She didn’t take it too well and actually told the teacher on me. I was sent me to the dean and we had a nice long conversation. Thankfully he wasn’t going to tell my mom or dad but what he told me that I should be more considerate of other people's feelings. That bothered me for a long time as I was contemplating on how the truth wasn’t considered being considerate. I mean I could have lied and said yes she was very pretty, like everyone else around her which would have hurt her in the long run but I decided to be nice and tell her that wasn’t ideal to me at the very least. Anyway that's how my title of mean came to be and for awhile I wore it as a badge of honor. It felt like I lived in a world of liars who would rather secretly hurt people than be truthful, so I didn't care.

I’m the one who looks like the jerk who’s out to hurt people’s feelings. What I’ve noticed is that this world is a place where you are taught one thing but everyone preaches the other. Where people say you should be 100% with somebody, but said person then scolds you for being too honest. This has been the story of my life For as long as I can remember, I’ve told the truth and either got sideways glances or shocked faces, like people couldn’t believe that I just said what I had said. I can say this though, my experiences have all been real eye openers for me. I’ve gotten to see how people act in different situations and each time I’ve noticed one thing they all have in common, people always lie. No matter what the reason may be; to protect, to harm or to just have an excuse in this world people lie. When I was younger I couldn't see how lying in any circumstance was a good thing. I was standing still while the world changed and moved on without me.

Way back when I was younger, my dad and I would catch the bus to my school so he could drop me off. Now to anyone else, this bus was like any other ordinary septa bus; kind of trashy, with no seats because people didn’t like sitting next to other people, and the occasional homeless person walking on asking for a free ride. However, this bus had one thing that made it more painful than any other septa bus. Our bus had a lady. I understand what you’re thinking right now, “what? Every bus has a lady on it.” That may be true, but most buses don’t have this lady. This particular lady had what I would like to call an acquired smell about her. This woman’s scent would travel all throughout the bus, assaulting anyone who dared to take a breath. No one would say anything about the smell. Everyone would just sit there quietly, pretending  not to even notice the unbearable stench. Even the bus driver ignored it! This kept up until one day when I decided to tell her. I walked up to the the lady and said, “ you smell like fish.” Everyone looked at me,shocked, but at the same time, silently pleased with what had transpired.

The lady looked angry, but with herself more so than me. She got up and got off the bus, never to return. I looked around the bus, and people were giving me thumbs up and smiling. From that point on, The bus driver even got free bus rides, but I couldn’t understand why. I did what they should’ve done in the first place. They let that poor women sit there, wrapped in the lie that she was fine, but in reality she wasn’t. Looking back I cannot place the blame her, but on the people around her. I took their silence on the matter as a lie in itself. The other passengers were attempting to dodge telling the truth in order to keep that woman from feeling hurt, but was that really helpful in the long run?  Withholding the truth from her just made it so when the truth was told, it was seen as rude and hurtful even though it is the reality of the situation. The world I live in is so afraid of the truth that people would rather lie as long as they think it keeps the other person safe.

As I grow older and hold on to the ideals of truth first in mind, the world around me is continually progressing into one where the truth becomes based on the situation and as each day goes by, I feel my mindset change into one where my truth becomes based upon each individual. I, as one who believes that the truth should be raw and uncut, find myself lying, and stating that I’m doing so in order to protect people. In english class I was given a book called the yellow birds by kevin power and at first I felt no connection but after I continued to read the book taught me valuable lessons about truth telling. What really resonated with me in said book is the main characters named Bartle. Bartle writes letters to his friends mom pretending to be him even though he had passed away. The letter packed with fallacies strung together by sentences. Bartle sent the letter under false pretenses and yet this seemed to make Murphy’s mother happy. This made me realize that even though it wasn’t the truth, it made her happy. At some point, she knew it wasn’t her son but most likely read them anyway. In this instant, unlike every other time, I’ve seen the lie actually helped in the long run. It helped Murphy’s mom settle into the fact that her son was dead and yes this was done by lying but this lie was born from good intent, even if unknowingly by Bartle.

I’ve come to terms with the whole lying thing. I still prefer the truth but I see knowing that only telling part of it is enough. I’ve realized that I’ve begun to grow accustomed to the situational truth, guess I caught up with my world at last.


When I was younger my family was very religious. We attended church daily and I was  baptized by a very young age. Not one Sunday session was missed. I was taught that there was more to it then dying. Once we passed away we would finally be able to sit with our Lord in his holy kingdom. Heaven was the paradise you were seeking for. I was told death should not be frowned upon, it just meant that God was calling you back to him to live your days beside him for eternity. As a child I accepted that. This gave me reassurance that even once everyone I knew would be gone from this world I would be greeted by them once again.

As soon as I woke up I prayed giving thanks for waking up every morning. Even when we went to church I would daydream, imagining angels flying around the building watching us as we prayed trying to answer our calls. At first everything felt very clear to me. There was no higher power than God, he was all knowing and granted life or death. Then around the third grade I began to dive into my learning. Trying to absorb as much as I could. I wasn't like most normal kids I rarely watched cartoons. Most of the time I would watched channels like Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and the History Channel. The only thing that seemed to peak my interest was how did we work and where did we come from. The bible says the Lord but science says monkeys. I just had to know who was correct . Once I learned that we may not have come from Adam and Eve but actually single celled organisms, I started to have second thoughts on what happens once one dies. There was no evidence to back up that one rose to heaven only an assumption. I felt like I needed someone to tell me that they had been to heaven, it was real. One thing I have yet to understand is how do scientists balance religion with science. They don't go hand and hand and constantly contradict one another. Even now I still believe in God and heaven but I also believe in science.

From ages 6-9 I had problems with sleeping. They did not happen often only once and awhile but when they did they stopped me in my tracks.  You would think it's normal to be scared of the dark for my age. But the reason why I was scared was unique. I was scared not because of the menacing monsters crawling around me but because my mind would wander, and I would ask myself would one day will my family leave me, is this what death feels like eternal darkness. And as I began this dark descent into the holes of my mind. My body would become heavier, with each passing thought the air was sucked from my lungs. My chest pounded, I had beads of sweat running down my face. Then it all ended. As though I was separated from my body my conscious floated in the dark. Until I couldn't take anymore I called out to my mom in that void. The world around me began to reveal itself and I lay in my bed. My mom would wipe my tears away telling me that death is only what you make of it. She would say a little boy your age shouldn't be thinking of death, there are so many more years ahead of you. I told her I was terrified at the thought of not having her or my family around me. She’d lay beside me in my bed and we would lay in the dark talking and telling jokes until I would fall asleep. I guess she realized that I just needed someone to hear someone. I needed to know that I wasn't alone.

Fast forward to my seventh grade year. During this year my grandfather had fallen down the steps and was in the hospital. Thinking it was a little fall I didn't pay much attention to it, I fall all the time and bounce right back up. But in the month of June something happened. I remember this specific day because this was the day that I went horseback riding with the boy scouts. We had finished and I learned I was terrible at it. There was this technique you had to do where you kind hoped on the horse so you didn't bruise anything down stairs. Yeah, I didn't know how to do that so well and ended up only getting on the horse once. But this isn't the point of the story. I had been dropped off home, and as I walked towards my house my aunt saw me and rushed towards me engulfing me in her arms. Two things I noticed. First, I literally couldn't breathe she was practically choking me, and secondly, she had a stream of tears flowing down her face.

I asked “why are you crying.”

She said “I thought you were gone. There was a phone call and they said “he passed away”.” All of a sudden my sister comes out side and joins in hugging me tightly. I felt confused I didn't know what they were talking about. We went inside and I saw that all my family was inside grieving. I learned my grandfather had passed away and the hospital had only said “He” so they all thought I had passed away while on the trip. I saw just how fast death impacted everyone. I had never had anyone pass away yet in my family. I might have heard of others family passing away but it didn't affect me. Until now I didn't really know what it was like to lose someone in your close family. My mind began to start racing again how would I feel once my mother passed away what would I do without her, I couldn't fathom it.

June of 2013 would be the year I attended my first funeral. I was anxious frankly I didn't want to go. Why would anyone want to see a glimpse of their future. But I knew that I had to give respects to my grandfather. As I entered the church I saw him laying in his coffin, a lifeless body. I was staring death in the face. Honestly I couldn't tell, to me it just looked like he was just sleeping in a nice suit. I saw his face, he looked so peaceful. It did not look like he had suffered. I tried to place life back into him. Picturing him like how he used to be. What would he say to me at that moment. I asked my mom and she said to me that he knew his time was up. The day before he had passed away he had told her,

“The dead don't know they're are gone it's the living that suffer.”

I saw him standing over everyone and reciting that line. The dead don't feel sad when they're gone. By constantly thinking of this we only make life more depressing. After the funeral I felt a slight realization that humans have a funny way of always trying to deny death, while animals accept it. Maybe I guess that's what the author of “The things they carried” meant when he said that someone is not dead until you yourself proclaim them to be. People dress the dead up put makeup and make them look alive. Maybe to make it only seems as though they were sleeping and they would wake up in a couple of hours. But animals must understand they're are gone and need to move on. When I see animals they don't seem to make that big a deal out of death than us. Some grieve but none of them go the same lengths as us.

Sometimes I think why did I have be born as humans out of all earths creatures. We are the only ones who are truly self aware and are capable of having deep insight. Animals live day by day only thinking to survive today. But humans don't seem to live for the moment but instead think I must survive in the end. If I were an animal I didn't have to think of my end, it would be that simple. Now that I am older I realize maybe it isn't the thought of death that scares me maybe it's the thought of being alone forever. After many realizations I've come to understand that if one spends their whole entire life fighting their destiny you only make your ending all the more sadder. One must try and experience as much joy as possible and don't focus on that brief moment. Accepting this will only serve to give your life more meaning. For now sometimes that fear rises within me. But I've come to understand it is something that cannot be destroyed. The only thing I can do is give no acknowledgement to it. I must place my faith in my lord and believe that when it is time to meet my end. I will have left the earth an old man who enjoyed the gift of life.

Ali's Q2 English BM

     I remember the times I would get mad at my friends. “Floating Clothes”, that’s what we said to each other. When the person touched me or talked, I would say “Wow, is that the wind?” or “What was that noise?”. Me and my friends did this to each other whenever we got mad. This did not happen in high school though, but actually this all took place in middle school.

  I have been both Middle School and High School, and I have enjoyed both of them. But, they were completely different experiences. They each had things different about them. This was inspired by Tim’s surroundings changed. This is when Tim goes from civilian to soldier. I had a change like that when I switched from middle school to high school.

       One difference between the schools is the type of friends at these schools, and how I hung around them. In SLA, nobody from from my school went here. It would be cool if some if them did, but also the friends were different. They are more chilled out then my middle school friends. In Middle School, I would roughhouse. We would try WWE and other fighting moves on each other, chase each other, tackle each other, play footsies, and lots more. In SLA, the only person I did that stuff with was Marshall. And we eventually stopped doing that. But in middle school, that was normal for me and me friends. Sometimes we would get in trouble for it. They would also get into a little bit more trouble then my friends here. They weren’t bad kids, but they had their little situations. Most of the friends at SLA never or barely get into any trouble at all.

    My behavior has also changed. I wasn’t a bad kid, but sometimes I would get into trouble. It may be arguments with other students, or a situation with the teacher. One of the biggest things were saying innappropriate things One time, I was joking with my friends, and I said “It sounds like your smoking marijuana with cocaine it it!”. The teacher was not happy about that, and gave me a look. The class was laughing at what I had said. There were many times this happened. One time, my friend kicked me in the groin. In a rather crude way, L screamed out what he did. My teacher gave me detention for using innappropriate language in the class. Ther rI got into trouble due to the fact that I was very immature. I didn’t do stuff to be bad, I was just being silly and immature. That’s why I never got suspended. I never did anything that over-the-top. I usually got into trouble for roughhousing, saying innappropriate things, or talking in class. Those were the usual offences. I wasn’t ever trying to be a bad student, I would just engage in acts of immaturity.

In high school, that hasn’t really happened. I also used to get detention for things like saying something innapropriate, or getting physically playful with my friends. But, things changed once I got into high school. My behavior was better. I didn’t get in trouble for that type of stuff, which is good. I am careful about what I say, and who I say certain things around. I changed becuase I was afraid of getting kicked out of the school. I was afraid of messing up all of my opportunities at SLA, which I always try to avoid doing. I also did not want the school to regret accepting me into the school. I also wanted to act properly so that I can get good recommendations for college. I would never want to mess that up, and I also don’t want my teachers to hate me.

     Another thing that’s different is that there are no younger kids around. My middle school had elementary and preschool. There is none of that at SLA. The only grades in SLA are 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. In middle school, I would help out after school witht the younger children. i would help them with their homework, and I would also hang out with them and be their friends. I really got along with them because a lot of them were really cool. That’s much different from SLA. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing, but it is a very noticable detail.

     The rules I’ve had to follow are also a little bit different. I wasn’t allowed to listen to music while I worked when I was in middle school. That would have been really cool to have becuase I love music. But in SLA, all of the teachers said that it was ok to do that. I was so happy about that, and I have been listening to music while I work ever since. That is a change that high school has had on me changed. I have seen people have their phones taken away for using them in class. That doesn’t happen at SLA. As long it’s not a test or while the teacher’s talking, they let us do that with zero consequences. It’s really cool.

      I want to give some crazy examples of how my friends were different. One time in Middle school, I had a book that I was reading. The book was based on the game battlefield 3. I really enjoyed the book a lot, but one of my friends decided to put it in his pants.  In high school, my friends don’t really try that stuff. They usually just relax, and act normal with me. Another example is how when I was going on a trip, my friend either punched or kicked me in the groin very hard out of nowhere. We always did that sort of thing. We liked to play-fight a lot. The friends at SLA would never do that to me. If I did that to one of my friends here, they would think I am crazy, and they would not be amused. But, this one tops all of them. In 6th and 7th grade, I did have a crush on this girl. But I had a friend who liked her, and he viewed the girls he liked as his property, which meant he also wouldn’t tolerate people liking girls that he liked, and that he hated & wished death and terrible things upon them. That included me. He liked the girl, and I liked her. After he said we weren’t friends, I hated him for a while. I thought he was acting stupid and ridiculous. We eventually became friends again, either because he started to hate her, or because I lied to him just to become his friend again. If I acted like that towards one of my classmates, they would probably laugh at me or tell me that I have lost my mind. And they should. Plus, my classmates would never do that to me or anyone. They have way too much maturity to even engage in that type of foolishness. I have never been in these situations before while at SLA, and I probably never will be.

         Another change is the fights. There were fights in my school sometimes, and people got suspended over that type of stuff. That problem does not exist at SLA. I remember seeing a 8th grade boy fighting an 8th grade girl. There was a crowd surrounded around them. At SLA, that would have been stopped within 4 seconds. I have seen a fight where a trash can was used. That would be broken up really fast, and not cheered on at all. That would not be tolerated, and the students would not support that. They would be horrified. Bullying took place at my school before, but it does not take place at SLA. This is a place where everyone gets along and doesn’t hate each other.

       One difference that I notice is that we don’t go outside for recess in SLA. In middle school, we would go outside and play. But in SLA, we always have lunch inside. In middle school, we also had a playstation 2 downstairs. We would play basketball games and wrestling games. It was really fun. SLA does not do that though, even though it would be really cool if they had a game console for us to play.

Am I a different person in my new school? I don’t know. I think I am a more mature person. I was always a nice person. I always liked helping people. and liked making people feel good, so I wasn’t a bad guy. I was just very immature, and I became more mature so that I didn’t get into any trouble while at SLA. And it worked. I have never been in any serious trouble before, and don’t get talked to by the teacher that often. I had to change because it was the only thing that made sense to do. So, I don’t think I’m really that much of a different person. I’m just more mature, and more intelligent.




“Water is the Driving force of all nature”- Leonardo da Vinci

Water and I have always had an interesting relationship. Some days we were inseparable, and others she was a cruel mistress who sought to entice and smother me to death. Either way I’ve always had a fondness for water. In 2011 my aunt and uncle were hosting a pool party at their house in New Jersey. Like every other time I was eager to visit them and take a dip in their pool, but this year was special. I was even more excited to bring my cousin along so that he too could experience the same joy that I felt every summer. My cousin is two years older than me and every summer he would spend the week at our house. So me, my mom, my dad, my brother and cousin hop in the car and begin our journey to New Jersey, where fate will have me experience something I will never forget. In the car we planned what we would games we would play in the pool, what food we eat and how we would teach each other different types of dives that we have learned over the years. As we progress, it is tradition that we stop by the Wawa located a mile from my uncle’s house. From Wawa I get a tub of ice cream and a big bottle of Fiji water, knowing that if I didn’t, I might pass out due to heat exhaustion. After leaving Wawa, we continue the rest of our journey and shortly arrive at our destination.

Once we arrived at our destination, I was ecstatic to hop in that glorious pool, but before that I had to pretend like I wanted to see the rest of my family in an awkward display of misplaced affection. The only ones I was excited to see where my uncle, aunt, her mother, three cousins and my godmother. Shortly after I rushed to the bathroom to change into my swimming trunks but as soon as I left out, my mom forces me to put on sunscreen to which I reluctantly comply. After the 5 minutes of rushed sunscreen application was over, I hurry out to the pool without a care in the world. I waited 15 minutes for my cousin to get to the pool and every second that he took I grew more and more agitated.

After what felt like an eternity he got there and the gloves were off. I tackled him into the pool and and our battle began. We assumed the roles of our favorite aquatic superheroes and villains. He was the infamous Black Manta and I was Aquaman. It was a classic battle between good vs. evil, and I had every intention to win. The goal of this game was to come out victorious and to bask in glory.

Elbows, punches, kicks and knees were all muffled and slowed down due to the water pressure. Back flips off the diving board, cannonballs and dives were all apart of the act. Many dynamic hits were traded off underwater. I had the majority of the hits but I knew that my cousin had a trump card up his sleeve. I should have seen it coming. I can remember his smug and arrogant smile but due to my ignorance I took it as just a facade in an attempt to stay true to his character.

In a matter of seconds I felt a major amount of pressure that land in my stomach. I felt like time had stopped as his foot hit my rib cage. Next thing I knew I was dunked underwater and kicked in my head. I was stunned and caught completely off guard. All of a sudden I saw two feet over my face and felt both impacting my face. Both shock and fear struck me. I was unsure of whether we were just playing or if he was serious. Many thoughts entered my mind during my time underwater. I thought maybe I hit him too hard or if he thought we were seriously fighting.

Pain didn’t affect me. Adrenaline fueled me as I was struggling to come up for air but my efforts proved useless as my cousin was holding me down with his feet. I tried to grab his leg in an attempt to stop him but I was kicked in my head again. At that moment I felt as though it would be my dip in my uncle’s pool. Things became blurred and nebulous. I felt a combination of sadness and betrayal. Then, as I thought all hope was lost, I saw a pole which was my beacon of light and I grabbed it. When I awoke, I was surrounded by my dad, cousin and uncle. I hear muffled arguing on who was to blame and why nobody came to help sooner. Once I was able to stand, my mind was blank. I lost the feeling of fear I had in the pool and instead I felt nothing but anger. I was silent. I heard both my dad and uncle trying to talk to me. Questions like, “ Are you okay?”, “ What happened?” went unanswered. I look up at my cousin who was standing directly across from me and I lunged forward and punched him in the face. I watched him go down as my dad grabbed me.

I was infuriated with him and my anger was similar to Jimmy Cross’s in the book The Things They Carried when Ted Lavender died. However, the only thing that died that day was my trust in my cousin. I asked myself, “Why would he do that to me? Why did he try to kill me? What did I do to deserve this?” Like Jimmy Cross I longed for answers and retribution. I wanted nothing more than to see my cousin suffer. He apologized to me but I was certain it wasn’t sincere. To this day, I still don’t know why all that happened but oddly enough I thank him. I am grateful that I now know you should never let your guard down in any situation. Anything can happen and it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Since then, I have forgiven my cousin and I respect him immensely as he enters a new chapter in his life with going into the Navy.

Media safety- Shamus Keough

In class we watched the show Growing up online, and digital nation by Front Line. The shows were about children growing up with all kinds of new technology from two different years. The most memorable thing for me was Ryan’s story about his suicide because of the shock of it. It’s important to watch these shows because they show things that could happen online. Why it's not important is because the show shows the extremes of what can happen, like Ryan’s story, while that happens very rarely. When I’m a parent, I will ask about what they do online, and not be that strict about it so they don’t feel like they need to lie. It’s important to talk to your family about this so they don’t have this rare occasion happen to them. I would tell the parent to just have their kid explain the things they do, and try to judge if its dangerous from seeing what they do.

Confessing To Emily

A few years back, when Soulja Boy and Bow Wow were trending, I fell for a girl.

This was back in fifth grade, when I was about 12. When I excelled in school and was consider the “teacher's pet” something really weird happened.  It all started in the back of the room of Miss.Kuaffman home room class.The moment I laid eyes on this gorgeous girl named Emily I got this weird feeling in my stomach and got nervous when she made eye contact with me. I knew that it was love at first sight. She was really beautiful , had black silky hair with nice big brown eyes and a small frame to her.  I never seen a girl like her before , and actually never seen her in school. That's when Miss Kauffman introduced her to the class.

The day after everyone was talking about her, especially the boys. My friends were all talking about how beautiful she was  That's when hector ,a good friend of mine, said “I bet I can make her my girlfriend,” and we all laughed. Once he said that I was scared because I thought she was really pretty and wanted her to be mine.  Whenever I made eye contact with her I felt so happy.  After a while we went back to doing our usual  things, playing pokemon cards and using tech decks( a tiny skateboard used by using your two fingers to do tricks and other things.) in the lunchroom.

Months passed and Hector still hadn’t made his move on Emily . It was about to be Christmas two weeks from now. I kept telling myself that I needed to talk to her and stop being a punk. But every time I was near her I got this weird knot in my throat that didn’t allow me to talk to her. I knew I couldn't talk to her face to face so I decided that I need to get my feeling across through her best friend ,Jessica. Jessica and I were good friends mainly because I didn’t find her attractive.  As the day went on we finally reached our last period which was gym. This was a  class I actually enjoyed in that school. Until we started running laps around the gymnasium.

Once we were there I asked Jessica “Does emily like anyone from our class?”

“ I’m not exactly sure but I know she thinks you're cute.” Jessica replied.

“Okay.” I said.

I did not expect her to say that Emily thinks I’m cute. Like what ?? I was so shocked like really she really thinks I am cute.  My mouth open and my jaw dropped because of how shock I was to hear that.

“ I don’t no but I know she thinks you're cute.”

“ I don’t no but I know she thinks you're cute.”

“ I don’t no but I know she thinks you're cute.”

Her response kept replaying in my head without stopping. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It boosted my confidence from 0 to 100. I was finally ready to tell Emily what I thought about her. Unfortunately, the night before winter break I became too scared to tell her in person. So I decided it would be easier to write her a letter expressing my feelings.

I started my letter with “Dear Emily , this letter is just going to be me expressing my feelings towards you.” I thought to “myself that's weird don't say that to her she is going to be under the impression that I’m a weirdo.” So I didn’t write that on the letter, what I ended up writing was that I like her. Hours passed and I only had the introduction of the letter done. I’m going to tell you guys what I wrote for the first body paragraph. It goes something like this “ Emily you're such a beautiful girl just like the sun in the morning you can’t miss it. I really think you're cute and you are an awesome person to be around. You always make me laugh and stuff even though we don’t really talk that much. I really like going to school for two reasons, one to learn and two to see you everyday. You probably don’t think I’m cute or think I have cooties or whatever. But I just wanted to let you know that I like you a lot and think you are really pretty.” I was finally done. I made sure that my grammar was good and all of the other punctuation was good to go. Before placing the letter in the envelope I signed it at the bottom saying “love - Arsenio with xoxox.”  Then I get myself ready to go to school.

Once I’m at school I realize Emily isn’t there and start getting worry. So I asked her friend Jessica if she seen her around.

Jessica said “no she is not here today why ?”

I replied with “nothing just asking because I have something to give her.”

Jessica then says “oh I see you like Emily don’t you ?”

I felt my cheeks heat up. I felt like a burning oven and got this knot feeling in my stomach and just walked away. Just thinking about Emily made me nervous. I walked away and never answered her question. My next class was my last period and I had to find a way to get this letter to Emily. I thought of mailing it to her house but for one I didn’t know her address and two she would just think I’m a weird if I knew her address. The time continued on and I still didn’t have an idea on how to get this letter to her. Five minutes were left in class so I came to the final decision of just leaving it under her desk.  I was left with the question if she will ever reply to me or would she just ignore me because I have cooties.

In the end  I never really got to find out if she ever liked me because after class Miss Kaufman told us that she has transferred. I was heartbroken because she meant so much to me.  Once I got the news that day I cried myself to sleep thinking on why she would leave , why didn’t she feel the same way, was I not good enough for her. I would never be able to have these questions answered. . One good thing that I do know the letter wasn’t under the desk after break. Maybe she did receive the letter but never had a way to communicate with me. I mean who will ever know if she really like me.

Well after all of this occurred I came to the understanding that being in love is painful. Not just falling in love but the act of getting rejected by someone you love hurts. Similar to how in the book “ The Things They Carried” Rat one of the characters never gets a letter back from this girl he loves and the feeling of rejection that he had to deal with caused him to change as a person. I change a lot since this happen in many ways.The biggest change that occurred with me is that I became emotionless in a way. I try to avoid letting people know how I felt because people would try to take advantage of me. Ever since that day on I never handwritten a letter to a girl describing my feelings because I fear that I will never get a response back.

Feminist Film Review

This movie I am going to be focusing on is Chi-raq. The background of the movie is about females that are trying to take a certain activity away from the men to stop the violence going on in the neighborhood. 

Does this match the test :
I think that movie passes the test.
1. It have more than two female characters 
2. They converse with each other to make plans and take actions
3. They talk about violence, not necessarily the men. They just use them to stop the violence. 

If I was to create my own anti- gender bias film.  
I don't know what I would call it, but it would be about black girls becoming lawyers and how they have to work harder than others to get to where they need to be. It would be different females looking into their different life stories, some married and some single. Some with kids and some kid less. 

Coming to Terms with Change:

Coming to Terms with Change:

High school was always a goal for me growing up and I always looked forward to reaching that point in my life. I imagined it being just like the television shows with cliques, nerds, jocks, popular basketball, cheer-leading, and football teams, prom king and queen, etc. I fantasized about how I would be in high and school and where I would stand. I hoped I would fit in. I wanted it to be a time to remember.

When I reached the eighth grade I began applying to all of my high schools. I hand wrote essays, went to open houses, and had interviews. Once I came to Science Leadership Academy I wanted to join all the clubs and sports to be active and involved. Everything seemed so overwhelming, but still exciting. I quickly migrated towards a group of friends who are still with me today.

“Take a deep breath and remember what we practiced. You’re going to do great Yas!” I took a deep breath and shuffled through my papers looking over everything. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach as I was waiting to go upstairs. I remember I wore black pants and a white button down so that I was dressed professionally. I also, remember the principal saying “All students who are interviewing today can now head upstairs to the room number on their paper.” I stood up feeling alert and anxious and the next thing you know I was quickly walking with the crowd clenching my folder in my hands looking around the school and for my classroom. It was finally time for me to show off the project I was so passionate about. They had all the students sitting down and choosing one of the prompts to write about until we were called for our interview. I remember interviewing with one student and a teacher.

When I entered the room the whole setup was different. Instead of having individual desk there were tables that seated four people. The teacher’s desk were planted into the floor and some had sinks built into them. There were labs and other interesting things around the room. Lockers were also on every floor and there were only two lunch periods. As you can see, I had some adjusting to do. I had to become accustomed to the new environment similar to O’Brien in “The Things They Carried”. Instead of working with his father everyday and having shifts, he was fighting in wars. One of my first new experiences was not having school uniform. I’ve always been at a school where uniform was required so it was different for me to see students dressed in all different types of ways. Another new experience was carrying my book bag around to every class instead of carrying my books in my hand. I was use to going to my locker only in the morning and after lunch. Something I had to become accustomed to was traveling places by myself. I was use to a ride in the morning and a short walk in the afternoon, but I quickly grasped how public transportation operated and it became simple for me to travel around.

While reading “The Things They Carried” the author list all the things that the soldiers carried with them. Specifically, O’Brien carried a picture of the girl he was in love with, Martha. I carried a baby picture of myself with my dad in the front pocket of my book bag everyday. O’Brien kept that picture with him and always thought about Martha.  I held onto that picture keeping my dad in my mind and with me all the time. It makes you feel closer to the person and it also makes you feel some sort of connection with them even though they are not there in the flesh.

Tim mentions a quote in the book relating to stories and the impact it has on a people. “Stories are for joining the past to the future.” This book is designed in a way that all of the soldiers have a certain background that they bring with them as there moving on in life. I also, have a background that I carry with me and add on to as I do more things in life. Just to be clear when I say background I mean past life,experience, struggles, lessons, and more.  

Once I was well into high school, around January, I began to lose interest in a lot of my classes. I would find myself thinking about other things and not focusing on my work as much. In the novel, Tim continuously day dreamed about Martha. “He had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead, and this was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war.” When the time came to take a test or do a project I would have to face the consequences by being lost and regretful. Instead of Tim putting all his attention first towards his men and their needs he was more focused on someone who wasn’t even present in his life and he suffered consequences because of it.

A few months later, I got my letter in an envelope. I skimmed the list looking for SLA and finally I saw it at the bottom of the paper saying that I was accepted. I was thrilled! Immediately, I called my mom screaming and saying “I got accepted”. She was so proud of me and said we would celebrate later that night. Afterwards, I called my brother and stepdad to share the news with them as I was on my way to lunch with my best friend.

So, as you can see O’Brien and I have very different stories, but there are still some similarities between the two. We both experience lot’s of change and learn new things. Also, we both display some emotions that can relate to one another.

The Other Kids

I’m not the hero. If asked me if I was the hero, I’d tell you I wasn’t. Perhaps the ease is implicit, wrapped in the word “hero”; if you asked if me if I was a hero, I’d tell you I wasn’t, for I see “hero” as too grand a phrase for a planet mundane enough to exist outside of a comic book. So, even in the context of a vaguely colorful story, there are no such things as “heroes.” But, then, if you asked me if I was the protagonist of said story, I wouldn’t know what to say. It can’t be known before I’ve asked the question of myself. Should I ever claim that I’m the protagonist, let me bite my tongue, for I have not yet been asked if I am the villain.

I drew my conclusions on this topic when I was eleven years old; they are outdated. Consider this essay the grand re-opening of a case five years shut. The case files contain many since-disregarded conclusions that I’d like to shine some light on.  If I tell you that I am not sorry, reject my thesis; I have not researched my topic thoroughly enough.

With all of this in mind, let me introduce a question that can be objectively answered: what happened?

When I met him, he asked the normal small talk questions and I gave him the normal small talk answers. “Nice to meet you, Alec, my name is Harry. This is my second year at Lakota. Yes; that rather racist image on the rock wall does bear a lot of resemblance to the logo of the Washington Redskins. Shower Hour is right before First Shift Dinner, which is right before Free Play.” The answers I didn’t give: “The other bunk is essentially the cool kids’ bunk, as it was last year, so my best friend Zach and I practically feel targeted, that our bunk should be filled with the weirdos, the Europeans, and the European weirdos.”

Zach, the kids from the other bunk, and even some counselors immediately considered Alec to be of “the weirdos,” though I couldn’t see it. Nothing he did seemed especially strange, at least. He asked the questions one could be expected to ask and he laughed when one could be expected to laugh. He was the only person I’d ever met to wear a swim shirt, and perhaps, retrospectively, that fact was very in line with the insecurities he would come to show, but it didn’t strike me as very strange then. Everyone else thought I was blind. Though I’m not known by most to be optimistic, I’d rather attribute it to optimism than to blindness.

Soon, he had taken a clear liking to me, even though I didn’t pay that much attention to him. A counselor that had noticed Alec’s affection towards me and his odd nature, Ben, asked to keep an eye on Alec. It seemed an odd request, but I respected Ben, so ten minutes later, when Alec began to run away from the bunk after yelling something akin to “you don’t understand me!”, I took it upon myself to chase after him. “Wow, you’re fast!” he exclaimed.

I tried my best not to laugh at his amazement with my speed. I was nearly world-renowned for being a god-awful runner, at any distance. “Hardly.”

“Pretty fast,” he insisted.

I moved past it. “Why are you running away?”

“They just don’t get me.”

“Who are ‘they’, Alec?”

“Oh, it doesn’t matter. Did I hear you say you liked tennis, earlier?”

He had heard correctly. It was the only sport that I could be positively compared to my athletically-minded peers in, so I most definitely liked it. In a couple of nights, him and I had taken to having a couple rallies on the tennis court. We kept the tradition up semi-regularly for at least a couple of weeks, and our conversations became rather personal.

“At school, I get really bullied.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said. We discussed it for a while, and he eventually asked for advice. “Develop a thick skin; just know not to let everything affect you.”

“Hmm, okay. Oh, and don’t tell anyone this Harry. You promise?”


“And don’t tell anyone this next thing, okay? You promise?”


“Okay. So. You know about the boat when Hitler ‘died?’”


“Well, my uncle was a famous German painter. When I went to Germany, I looked inside a painting of his with special glasses that he left behind for me, and I saw the bodies frozen, like, they were stuck to the hull of a metal ship.” This seemed like gibberish to me, so after I challenged every part of it, he said, “Look, that’s not the point. I looked with my glasses harder, and I realized, it was a time ship.”

“Are you suggesting that Hitler is alive?”

“He’s waiting for the right opportunity to come back!”

I later brought up the conspiracy with Alec while Zach was within earshot. Alec, naturally, looked supremely pissed.

“You promised, Harry! I thought you weren’t gonna tell! I thought we were friends!”

The night before Alec was set to go home was the night that it all culminated. I was in bed reading, Zach was in bed reading, and Alec was in bed taking offense to it all. Then, Alec asked to see Zach’s almanac.

“I’m reading it right now; hold on.”

“Dude, I asked if I could read it. Please?”

“I am reading it, so no.”

“But I asked nicely.

“That doesn’t change anything if I’m reading it.”

BUT I ASKED NICELY!” Alec screamed. He jumped from his bunk bed onto Zach’s ground level bed and tried to grab the book out of hands. Zach threw the book to the ground and Alec’s hands rerouted themselves towards Zach’s neck. “Why doesn’t anyone like me?” Alec violently commanded.

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I came to this camp to get away from bullying! Ah!” Zach had begun to block his body with his oversized pillow. When Alec finally managed to cast the pillow aside, Zach scratched Alec’s neck so that it bled and darted out of the bunk as two counselors, including Ben, walked in.

“What’s going on in here?” Ben asked, which caused Alec to scream and charge at him. The counselors, with their combined, adult strength struggled to push Alec into the back room of the bunk. “What are you doing, Alec?”

“I wanna KILL him!”

“Kill who?”

“I… AH! I came to this camp to get away from bullies!”

When Alec returned from the nurse, very late that night, his eyes seemed to be just black pits. His skin was paler than mine. He immediately crawled into bed where, presumably, he fell asleep. I shuddered the night through.

It has occurred to me that there is an easy way out. I could ask, “are things really so black and white?” Then, things would be so black and white; I could answer, “things really aren’t so black and white.” I could throw away the case without indicting a soul. I could chalk it all up to some untouchable gray territory and I would be free from asking.

I once thought that Alec simply dealt with what the rest of us dealt with. Young boys are cruel to each other, occasionally indiscriminately: some campers would tie him up and poke him with brooms, but they’d slap each other as a greeting; some campers would call him names, but they’d insist that they only do it to him because he’s the only one who bothers asking them to stop. It’s just survival of the least easily scarred. In the summer that this story took place over, for instance, I was berated regularly for the length of my hair and for my inability to play sports, but I didn’t care. Now, I’ve grown to think that such an expectation is not fair. Alec, who, to me, still seems normal, yet was easily broken, shouldn’t have had to be as cold as the rest of us. The standards that we held ourselves to should not have been the standards that we held someone else to. Since that summer, I’ve written approximately three essays on why the SATs are an inadequate gauge of ability, and this seems like a fourth. In ways that everyone else could see, he was not like us: he was a scientifically minded student scoring poorly on the SAT math and reading/writing sections while we were the College Board; he was a visual learner confronted with memorizing an audiobook; he was Murph from “The Yellow Birds,” entirely unprepared for war and death.

I’m inclined to cut myself slack. After all, I was the only one who really attempted to be his friend, and I even succeeded for a while. That’s more than anyone else can say. Still, I failed to keep his secrets and failed to defend him. It sounds patronizing, now, to claim that defending him was my job, but Ben asked me to look out for him and I failed.

So: I am sorry. I am sorry that I spilled the conspiracy stories that he told me in confidence, I am sorry that I stopped playing tennis with him, and I’m sorry that I failed to stop the other kids. I am guilty because I so consistently call those who picked on him “the other kids,” as if to put as much distance between myself and them as I can, even though I don’t know if such a divide truly exists.

These are answers that I am glad to have, I suppose, but now I am aware that some questions are simply unanswerable. I can’t ever know whether or not his explosion might’ve been averted if I had stuck with him, in the same way that I can’t know whether he’d have been better off if I hadn’t shallowly befriended him in the first place. I can rest with a conscious slightly cleared, knowing that I couldn’t have known better. I can say that, although it may or may not have been helpful to him, at least I tried when no one else did. Though I wonder where Alec is now, I’m too scared to Google him. I don’t want to know whether I’d feel huge waves of emotion or cold apathy upon seeing his Facebook profile picture, should he even have such a thing. In much the same way that Private Bartle of “The Yellow Birds” could hardly stand to look at Murph’s disfigurements, I fear Alec. I fear the sunken eyes that we sent back home to his mother. Even though I’ve attempted to clear myself of blame, through the process of writing this essay and otherwise, I still can’t bring myself to look at someone I never knew.

After all of this, I still don’t know if I’m one of the other kids.

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Work Hard, Play Hard

I was never really a sporty guy. I went to school, did my work, played video games, and went to bed. I never really liked basketball in the first place. But, people were always asking if I played basketball because I was so tall. So, basketball didn’t seem that bad to try. A lot of my friends would go after school to play but I never did. So, I decided to go one day.

I got the hang of the game pretty quickly. I was getting pretty good too. Sometimes, I would go out late at night and try to work on my jump shot. All I could think about was basketball. I started to fall in love with the game.

I thought that I was ready to play in my first basketball league. There was a simple sign up and I was on a team. But it wasn't that easy. The league had a tryout to see how they would spread the teams out. I didn't really know how good I did because i didn't know what “good” was. But apparently, I was the best player on my team. That put me in total shock. I am the best player? How the heck were we going to win a game?

I had my very own jersey. It was just a t-shirt with a number on it but I didn't care. I was ready to play and I was motivated. I thought I was going to be the Lebron James of this league. Carry my team to some wins, win the playoffs etc. My family didn't play much basketball back in their day, so there wasn't much advice that could be given to me. I learned how to play basketball from NBA2K and most of the basketball games up on tv. So, my knowledge was not that high. But, I must have known something if I was the best player on my team.

My first basketball game was approaching me in 1 hour on a Wednesday. I got there half an hour early so I could get some shots up before the game. My shots were not going in. I started to get more and more nervous as each shot bounced off the rim and out. My mom was looking over at me with a weird and almost too excited face. It started to creep me out. She obviously was trying to keep a positive attitude about me missing all of these shots.

I saw some of the players on my team come in. We said our “hi’s” and “what’s up’s” to each other and they joined me in my shoot-around. Then players from the other team started to come in. My stomach started to growl a little bit but I knew that I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t really know what to do in this situation because I didn’t have much experience with these kind of situations.

But as I entered the game, I started to let all of the nerves go. I felt really confident in myself that I could score and that I could also get the win for my team. Boy, was I wrong. I ended up only scoring 1 point and losing by 20. I looked like a fool out there. I tried using some of the street basketball moves I learned with my friends but those didn't work. It seemed like that I had to know my limitations and to do what I can do. I was always a good rebounder. I had around 14 rebounds that game which was good for me. But when I got the rebound, I couldn't do anything with it on offense.

I was at the court everyday before my next game on wednesday trying to improve something about my game. If it was my shooting, and playback capability, I was trying to improve it. I didn't want to come into this next game missing a ton of shots and not knowing what I was doing. I figured out my role. I should have been using these rebounds to create baskets for me. A lot of these rebounds were on the offensive end so I felt that I could build off that and make me and my team in a better position. Because let's face it, if I can’t score, who will? We did lose by 20 so that isn't going to prove anything.

Wednesday was here. I was an hour away from my game. I knew that I had to really take action and show people that I can ball. I probably had lost the confidence from my teammates in me so I really had to earn that back. This was a statement game for me and my teammates. I had to go about like Curt Lemon and stop being afraid. I have to just go all in and do what I have to do. It is that simple.

My stomach wasn't growling. I wasn't sweating of fear. My jumpshot felt really good and I was going in consistently during warmups. I was ready. I knew it, my mom knew it, and my teammates knew. Unfortunately, coach didn't know it and put me on the bench to start the game out. I was pissed. I worked so hard over the week to improve myself and this coach decides to bench me. He had only seen 1 game from me. How could he have made that decisions quickly?

But it was okay. I ended up getting in the game without 5 minutes left in the first quarter. I was thinking to myself the whole entire time, “No mercy, no mercy, no mercy,” I hit the first shot that I took. It was a 3 pointer. Usually, those don't go in for me so I knew that this game was going to be special. And it was. Fourteen points, Twelve rebounds. Now that is a basketball game! But did we get the win? No. But for some reason, I didn't care. I was worried about my own stats and not the team. This had to change if we were going to get a win next week. Either someone has to turn into Kobe Bryant, or we need a real game plan.

This was my first basketball league and I felt like I learned a lot. We only won 1 game out of the 8 we played that year and that was only because our team overall wasn't good. But at the same time, I felt very dominant because of the way I played. Just like Curt lemon, I felt very embarrassed the first time around. But I didn't give up. I made up for my mistakes and fixed them as soon as I could. . Because I knew the next time I played, I was going to dominate. And that is exactly what happened.

Media-Carolina Ortiz

Screenshot 2016-01-11 at 10.22.54 AM
Screenshot 2016-01-11 at 10.22.54 AM
In Technology class we had to watch a TV show, Frontline, about media and how it affects people.  In it we saw many cases of people that didn't really know how to deal with media in their lives. One of the important things that I learned from the show is that there is always a limit to things and communication with people is key to having a good lifestyle. It is important to watch shows like this because people can learn things from them that they me bored to hear in class from a teacher but if they see it on a show with real evidence they may take the information more seriously. I will keep my future family safe online by keeping communication with all of the members of my family. Furthermore, I will not pressure them into telling me things because I want them to be comfortable and just tell me things on their own without pressure. With that said it is important to talk to family about internet safety because you don't want any issues to occur where your child or any other child is being harassed or abused by other people. For parents that don't know how to keep their kids safe online I think that they should just explain a but of what media is like, how the kids can be safe online, and they can tell their kids that they are willing to talk with them if they ever have any problems. 

U2 #8: Avi Cantor

  • What TV show did you watch in class?

Answer: Frontline

  1. What was this show about?

Answer: The show was about how the internet and technology influences how we live.

  1. What is the most memorable thing to you about this show?

Answer: The most memorable thing about the show was how much the internet and technology negatively influences us.

  1. Why/Why not -  is it important to watch shows like these?

Answer: It’s extremely important that we watch shows like this because it helps us see what the internet does to us. For instance, after seeing both of the shows, I have cut down on my phone usage.

  1. How will you keep your future family safe online?

Answer: My mom and dad both follow me on instagram and I have never sent and will continue never to send anything inappropriate via snapchat.

  1. Why is it important to talk with your family about internet safety

Answer: It is important to talk with your family about internet safety because your family needs to know that you are safe online. Especially when you share so much online.

  1. What advice would you give to parents that don't know how to keep their children safe online?

Answer: Follow your kids on all of their social media and ask them about what they send to other people.

  • Find a copyright-less photo/image to enhance your postImage result for non copyrighted technology image


Dear person,

I’m sorry for breaking our promise.

“You won’t leave me right?”

“Never. But I know you will, right?”

“No. I don’t think I’d be able to.”

“Pinky promise?”

“Pinky promise.”

At that moment you asked me to stay by your side through anything and everything. I asked for the same back. Our pinkies were out and then in a blink of an eye, they were wrapped around one another.

I thought leaving you was the best decision I have made in a long time. Being by your side for more than three years was probably too much for me. There were times where you made me feel as though I wasn’t good enough for you. I always believed that I had to constantly change myself just to fit your standards. You put me in situations where I always had thoughts of leaving you, but I knew my heart didn’t want that. When we first met, you made me feel special. I was comfortable with you. I shared with you everything about me. I thought that there was nothing that could have gotten in the way. Even though people believed we weren’t going to continue a long friendship and relationship because of our ages, we proved them all wrong, didn’t we?

I remember the first time we met. We were introduced to each other by mutual friends. It’s funny because when I first saw you, never would I had imagined us to be as close as we were. Somehow, we gave each other the nickname, “buddy”. Do you remember when I had field hockey practices during the fall and lacrosse practices during the spring? You always showed up, but I never knew that because you would always climb up your favorite tree in the park. I noticed you from afar when I saw your red and black Nike shoes.

“Wow. I have the same shoes as you. Hey buddy! What are you doing up there?”

“I didn’t want you to see me. It was supposed to be a surprise. Plus, I’m shy.”

“Why are you shy? We’re buddies remember? Now get down from there. Practice is over.”

You walked me home that day and we became closer. Since that day, everything else became clearer and I thought things would get better. However, you lied to me.

Your lies caused us to not talk for a couple months. They were the longest months of my life. We finally started talking again because you texted first.

“Hey buddy. I know it’s wrong of me to text you after lying to you, but I was scared that if you knew the truth, you’d see me differently. I’m so sorry.”

I didn’t exactly know who you were, but I decided to give it a shot of getting to know the real you. I texted back and from that day on we've become inseparable.

Our relationship became more serious further along the way and everything felt magical. Despite the age difference, you seemed to be the one teaching me things I've never seen before. We’ve shared many things with each other. Secrets, laughs, smiles, tears, arguments, we shared basically everything.

After nine months, things changed.

As we sat on my bed, you looked at me right in the eyes and lied. You lied to me again. Then again. I didn't know what to do. Your lies kept feeding off of me so I didn't know who I could trust anymore or what to believe from anyone especially you. At that point, I didn't know who I was anymore either. I was not the girl you used to know. I became more independent, more closed off, quieter. Because of those lies, my trust for you became more vague everyday. But instead of me leaving, I gave you another chance to redeem yourself. They were constantly telling me that you were just a child. I still didn't want to let you go though.

Everyone around us constantly told me that you wouldn’t have been able to handle a relationship because you were younger than I. It’s funny because sometimes I would forget that you were younger. You always acted more mature than I did.

Two years in, we thought things were great. At least I believed that they were. However, July 6th came and I started working. You were working as well. I didn’t expect that this situation would be the reason that we would became more distant. Days went by and there were barely 30 words made to each other each day. It was hard. I tried putting the most effort into this relationship, but there were too many things going on in my life where I didn't realize you were trying just as hard. I never came to you about most of it because we were both always busy. I'm not too sure how or when or why, but I thought the best thing for the both of us was to separate from each other.

I promised you that no matter what, we would continue to try and make things work for the both of us. But instead, I broke that promise. When we separated, I constantly believed that it was all because of me. I was torturing myself constantly. I felt as if you were pushing me away, and I thought you were slowly losing feelings. Instead of trying to help you gain those feelings back, I let them slip completely and tried making things easier by leaving. I wanted to remain as close friends but it was hard for the both of us. Things obviously weren’t the same. A couple days after the separation, we were still talking as close friends when you brought up the promise. That promise that was made two years ago. The same promise that I broke. It hurt me to know that you still remembered it. At that moment I wished that we had never made that promise. However, it was a lesson that needed to be learned.

So, thank you for teaching me that promises are sometimes meant to be broken. I hope one day, you’d understand why I did it. I’m sorry for breaking our promise.


Your Buddy Eb.

The Loving Liar

In June, you get a weird  message from someone on facebook, saying “Hello how are you, can I be your friend? You’re really pretty.” He doesn’t stop sending these messages. It’s not hurting you, but it is getting very annoying, so you decide to text him back with a response that is very blunt. After you specifically show him that you aren’t interested in talking, he keeps on sending messages forcing you to respond  back. You want him to stop, but he won’t. Even after numerous attempts to ignore him, he will not leave you alone. After a while you realize that the messages you are sending him are no longer blunt, but instead, they expose parts of your personality.

After messaging him for a while you realize that you know quite a bit about him. For instance, he lives in America but not on the east coast. He is a californian male. He is a different race from you. He has started sending his personal information to you, such as his phone number and address. Imagine that he asked you for this type of personal information, but you are smart enough to not give it to him. You decide to finally grow up and tell him to stop texting you once and for all, but he is just to persistent and has a way of manipulating your mind and next thing you know you are having facebook video conversations with him. He then takes it a step further and says to me that he is dying because of a brain tumor, you of course having a heart continue your nonsense banter of a conversation.

You have a gut feeling that he is lying, but your hearts good nature can’t bring you to stop this conversation. After you have had enough of this banter and wish for it to stop, you ask for proof of his illness. He keeps on delaying the report so you call him a liar, he doesn’t take that to well and keeps on using his charming ways of conversations to draw you out of your denial. Your denial stops for a while, but is reincarnated when you have once again grown tired of this man. You decide to finish the “friendship” but once again he uses his charming wit to make you feel bad for him he says things like “Before I die I want to hear your voice and absorb your words, please don’t say no.” You answer back saying that “You’ll keep on texting him before his death.”   

This happend to me. There I was sitting in my room on my bed, and I hear my phone vibrate. I then looked at my screen, and I saw his name. I then facepalmed my pillow. His message read, “I like your profile picture. You have beautiful hands, your eyes are romantic and You have long nice hair”. I responded saying, “thanks but in real life my hand are not that beautiful.” He responded back,”I always stare at your profile picture and I feel like you're staring me too. Every time I look at your eyes it kills me and my heart beats get faster.” Then I reply with “hahahaha my pleasure”. Then I started thinking how he found me on facebook and I message him “how did you ]find”. He then replys me “I was just searching my friends account and you're appeared so I clicked on it. Then I reply saying, “oh okay”. This is how he talk me and every time he message he’d called me “baby”.  After that I asked him “why do you call me baby?”. His reply was “because your my dream girl and I want to call you baby.” When I finished reading what he said I was thinking he was a crazy boy and also thinking not to get too close with him.

Sometimes I felt very special to him because everytime he messaged he would say something sweet to me that made me believe him more. While I still didn’t believe him that much with everything, but I did believe that he was sick because he didn’t message me for two days and I was little worried that something had happened. After two days later he messaged me back and I asked him “Are you okay?” he then replies saying “you seem to have a place in your heart for me” then I said “what do you mean? he responded “I mean that you were worried about me because I didn’t message you the last two days I was sick because I was in the hospital. Then I said “are you okay now” he says “ yeah I am okay and how are you doing beautiful” and then I said “I’m okay but I not beautiful because you never saw me in real life and what you saw on my pictures made things better than real”. Then he said “don’t ever say this again.. do you know that I downloaded your profile picture to my phone and set it as my wallpaper on my phone, so don’t ever tell me back that you are ugly and don’t ask me why do I have on my phone and it's for me not for you.” The time then was passing and we had conversation like this every day, for at least for 20 minutes. My profile picture was the only picture I had on my facebook after I heard this from him and I then deleted my profile picture from facebook.

Talking to him like this every day two months pass like the wind. After talking to him two for months, then was the time to not believe him anymore. On one Tuesday he told me he had doctor appointment for cat scan. After he finished with the cat scan I asked him when he getting his report. He told in two days. Two days later I asked how was the report his answer was my sister suppose to pick up the report but she couldn’t she was busy and she will pick it up tomorrow. Next day I asked him again and he then told me “in my report it wrote grade IV tumor and that it grew to my heart because I am in love with you, which is the highest stage for cancer in my body”. Then I said really? Then he says no Sorry I am really really sorry for lying to you this whole time but I actually don’t have any cancer and I just wanted some away talk to you. Instead of replying to him I just blocked him and we never talk again.  After all of this I just realize how much a person can lie about their self just to make someone fall in love with them. This then made me not to fully trust someone quickly for anything anymore.

Having My Back

Throughout the years, many people are looking for people to trust with or people they can depend on. The word has meaning, it “friends”. Friend is a simple word to describe somebody that has been there in your good and hardest moments without asking or taking the time, out of his/her time to help you when you need it or ask for it. That word, FRIEND can’t be used and shouldn’t be used to describe a person like that. Because after certain point, after helping, messing, being your second thought or giving you the handle when you feel like giving up on everything, they’re like a brother or sister, that is there every step of the way, and you for them. What is a friend to you? How did it beginning? Did he/her become like a brother/sister? How?

Me, throughout the years, i’ve been looking hard, trying to find that friend, but the funny thing is that-that person was also there, right there, in front of me. I was blind. And sometimes you notice it way too late, when their about to leave and be gone for good. Lucky me, I noticed it way before my brother left for good. It was like about a good 6 months before my brother left.

“Oh man, this 6 months were a blast bro” I said,

“Yea, I know!” said Fernando.

Then it was time, the time that I was hoping to never come. The time to move. Move to a different place of the world. My heart disappeared.

“Ya’ll are little kids, ya’ll find a new friend, then ya’ll forget about  each other.” my mother telling me in a humorous voice.

“That’s not true mom!” replying very aggressive and pissed, then stomping my way to my room. Right there and then I had a flashback, about me waiting outside fernando’s house, which was not that far away from mine. I just looked at him on how he folded his clothes and packed in the suitcase. Out of nowhere my heart was punched with sadness and loneliness. I felt empty, something that was hard to explain through words, it was like running in frozen forest, just watching your body freeze till your heart can’t take it anymore and suddenly stop. Then they got in the car, all ready and packed,

“Just have hope!” he told me as they were leaving.

“Hope of what” I yelled.

Then came the silence. This reminds me of a book I read in class, “The things they carried”. In the book, there was a part  where  lieutenant Cross was distracted from his thoughts and one of the comrades got shot and fell to the ground. When Lieutenant Cross saw his comrade fall, he saw him drop, the comrade did not shake or twitch or do a movie-like death. A shot and drop, like when you drop a rock in the lake, the rock sinks to the bottom. The Lieutenant felt the blame was to be on him and felt sad, depressed, lonely, glum. In a way I felt the same things, but in different way, even though we both lost a person.

Trust is a strong and special thing that a person carries with him and can share.Not a lot of people have that. A month later after my brother left, it was hard to find someone else to open to. It was not easy to share my feelings to people because most people would've thought that I was a wussy, a little girl or cry baby. But everybody was like that when they were little, they were sensitive. Well, at least I was. So most of the time, I would keep my emotions inside, show a straight serious face without emotion, without light, without a sign of hope, or the power of believing again. I'd always use that mask to hide and imprison my feelings in a box which never shows or expresses any feelings and that's when my quietness hit and I hardly ever speak. Weeks after my brother left,  I came across my cousin.

“Ohhhh, Hola, Primo!!!” greeting my cousins, which was so unexpected to see in philly.

“Hola, Primo!” he replied.

This was his first time being in Philadelphia. At first when I met him he was awkward and I was awkward, so we were both awkward, but that didn't change the fact that we had to communicate with each other. After a while we started to communicate more, started to hang out more, started sharing more, and doing everything together. After a good while, me and him started getting closer as brothers in a way, and I thought that was going to be difficult. But there were somethings that I had in common with my cousin but our thoughts or opinions were so different. Sometimes being different is the one thing that connected us the most.

I have a question? You know what’s funny? I like when you’re best friend or close friend says

“I got your back, whenever and wherever, I got you!!” but in reality, that’s all a lie They don’t mean. Those words are just fake hope, because when that time comes they don’t do nothing. They be leave you there to get jump.

“Brothers FOR LIFE!!!!” he yelled you to air.

“YEAAAA!!” yelling at the air, as well.

We were on top of a hill. What were we doing there? Nothing. My brother and I would always go there on saturdays, because him and I had enjoyed watch the sun set. Then it got dark. The time flew. We had to leave, cause than our parents would have got paranoded.

“Are we close?” He asked tiredly.

“Yeah, just a 2-3 more block” I replied sleepy voice.

Out of nowhere these other kids came and it third of them. There was one fat kid, and man he was fat, compared to me, he was fat like a hippopotamus. Non-the-less, with two other kids. One was tall and the other was not. He was my height. One of them bumped me on purpose.

“Do we have problem?” said very aggressive and pissed.

“No….” I replied scared

For no reason what-so-ever, he punch the shit out of me. Dropped! It was fight. I was on the ground one of them was kicking me and the other two were going after my brother. I didn’t know what was going on. Beside the kicks I was feeling on my back, my arms and my shoulders. Out of nowhere, it stopped. I shocked. Bleeding, in pain. And a little confused. How did he do to get the other two? Did he beat them up? I didn’t know? I helped me up. I dizzy, weak. I couldn’t feel my legs or arms. I looked at him, he was bleeding too. My ears were pounding.

“RUN?!!” he yelled “They’re coming!!!”

We ran like hell. We took the longest way home. But lucky, we made it home. Messed up but we made. I know that after that day, my brother was loyal, he was the realites.

“Bonding, which is stronger than any ionic bonds.”

Bonding, which is stronger than any ionic bonds.

Fondness, I was floating in it. Rancorous, I was pushed to be one. Separation, it was thrown onto me. And bondness? It was caused by all of the previous. Would I regret anything that had occurred, that wasn’t so facile as I thought it would be? Nope. That’s why, I send my kudos to the Almighty for his judicious decisions on my changing world.

It was 2011. As a 7th grader, I hadn’t had much interaction with the outside world, so I surely was lacking some knowledge on how this world actually worked. I would consider myself being dumb as a rock, but that’s not the main thing about the story I am about to tell. It’s just ...there.

I ran after one girl for two years. Not literally running, but as in when water, minerals, lactate and urea mixed together that would be dripping from my head as a formation, which we call “sweat”. Dripping to the concrete below my feet, while running. 2012 was the year when I stopped running and finally got her as a trophy. I will say she’s worth more than any trophy. Everything was pretty ecstatic for days. This nascent love actually felt like a typical indian romance movie. Even though I am not Indian, my family have watched many movies from that culture due to it’s popularity. Those movies generally have scenes where the actor and actress falls in love and soon before you can blink your eyes, a choreographed dance song comes on from the background. As the actor and actress see each other from distance, the wind starts to blow, the birds start to chirp, because of lust, and the rain starts to fall when they look at each other. Ehh, I guess it felt similar, a languid feeling whenever I saw her. Than some undesirable things happened that I didn’t hope for. It was as if I am running from a tiger and now I’m at the end of the cliff, no choice but to jump off.

Summer of 2013. My dearest parents came to my room one day with an intriguing question.

“Want to visit Bangladesh over the summer?” My dad asked. I was jubilant with that question and replied with a big YES!

“Why should we visit Bangladesh out of nowhere?” I asked.

“Well, we need go make make sure that our land that we purchased years ago are fine and that anyone didn't take them over.” They’ve replied with a worried tone. That’s reasonable, I thought. In Bangladesh, stealing lands from people is as easy as 1-2-3. Just buy a standing billboard, print a name of any popular corporation, go to the land you wish to steal, and place it there. All done. No paperwork needed and nobody is going to speak against you in the court. The land is now yours.

“Hmm, we still complain about our country being so corrupted.” I murmured to myself.

I made sure all my necessary things are packed neat and clean inside my luggage, especially my summer work for the high school that I’ll be attending in September. Oh boy, packing the luggage was as easy as fitting a new harness to an old horse.

I told the girl that I chased after that I’ll be gone for three months, that I was going back to visit my homeland. Seconds later, waves of tears started to come upon my way with terrifying loads of questions. I guess I was kind of good stopping her before she influenced me to cry as well.

Started the journey in a metal beast that acts as a deadly knife ripping through the night sky. The lady dressed in a white top and a black skirt came up to me and lended me a hand as I was putting up my bag.

“Sir, do you need anything at this moment?” She asked with a ebullient tone.

“No, thank you,” I replied with an vacuous smile, even though I needed some help on how to work this 10 inch monitor that’s in front of me.

The ride was pretty cramped. Weirdly, they ran out of seats in the economic class so we got transferred to the business class. Thought to myself,

“Wow, that was some easy vip transition.” I told my mom.

“Yeah…” She replied without caring much.

I could smell the mashed potato and turkey from the kitchen as they were preparing to serve us the dinner.

“Ah, my mom is going to have a fun time eating dinner tonight.” I thought in a sarcastic manner.

The landing of the plane was pretty hilarious. As the wheels touched the runway, I could just imagine about the family members that are waiting for us at the airport. Everyone was garrulus as the plane landed safely and was clapping as well. We escorted to a private microbus and was taken to our house with the rest of our family. We chose to go to my mom’s side first and I didn’t have any objection to that.

Couple days passed and things did not feel right. I missed the girl. Even though there were friends and family all around me, I felt like the last leaf on a tree before the winter begins. It felt like my world have suddenly changed. Did it really change though? I did live at this same place for 12 years before I came to U.S. But my own home didn’t feel like home anymore. I started to question myself about my relationship with others. Why am I not feeling close? I started to get distracted more often. I could feel the warm wind passing by me and reminding me about the girl every morning I woke up. I started to distance myself from others in an ignorant way, which I didn’t appreciate and I believed they didn’t either.  

Before beginning my journey, I planned to spend my time with my family and friends in a passionate manner but I couldn’t. Her thought was always on my mind and I was afraid it might look suspicious to others. I couldn’t afford to let them know about this relationship! That’ll ruin everything. It’ll be worse than taking a candy from a crying baby. Disregarding all the facts. I started to make secret phone calls from Bangladesh to her. That’s the only way I felt a little close to her. She didn’t have the intention of distracting me from meeting my family members and exchanging conversations with them, it just happened naturally. From U.S. to Bangladesh was a huge change for me. It felt like I’ve changed my whole world and the changes in those world felt my skin was being lacerated. Transition from one country to another wasn’t so easy for me and felt like separations took place.

It was as if I was Lieutenant Jimmy Cross from, “Things they Carried,” and the girl was Martha. Just like how Jimmy have deep love for Martha, which caused him to be distracted on the war ground. That then resulted in consequences, the one that caused Lavender to die. Even though I am not on the war ground, it felt like I was in one because of what happened next.

I hear loud voices through the walls, coming from the other room. My heart sank as I heard my name being called.

“Tahmid, come here right now!” My mom commanded in a bitter tone.

As I stepped inside the room, I notice my dad, my mom and my uncle all sitting on the bed looking at me as if I drank the last water bottle in the Sahara desert.

“Will you leave that girl or not? If you don’t, we can stay in Bangladesh and not go back to U.S.” My dad said in a rigorous voice.

I was more rooted to the ground than a tree after hearing what my dad said. I finally understood the whole reason behind coming to Bangladesh.

I got rejected every time as I tried to explain what I felt for her. There is no room for understandment but commands from elders. I do respect their consciousness regarding my future and how the girl might play a role in it but that’s not the whole story. They are categorizing her only by the culture she’s from and not as a person.

I couldn’t react to the changes that would be forced upon me, the my world was changing around me. The world, as in my family not being able to understand, and react in a positive way about my changes. They felt great shame for me as their child and were careless about my affection toward the girl. I didn’t disrespect that because I recognize their situation and why would they do such thing. I was vacillated with what to answer to my dad’s question regarding leaving the girl.

“Yes, I will leave her.” I answered a weary voice.     

I became more taciturn. I didn’t feel that close to the ones that I thought was close to me when I returned to my second world, United States. I’ve came to learn that your perspective of things might not always match up with the world around you. But at last, the changes in my world couldn’t really destroy the bonding between myself and the girl, but made it even more stronger.

English Q2 Benchmark

The first few pages of Tim O’Brien’s classic war novel The Things They Carried are focused on the titular idea, as it randomly peruses through the objects the soldiers are carrying with them throughout the war. About 15 whole pages pass by as we learn about what was carried, when, at what time; how Jimmy Cross carried letters from Martha, a girl which he had developed a rather tragic one-sided infatuation for years. How Mitchell Sanders carried a 26 pound PRC-25 radio. How Henry Dobbins carried and ate chocolate bars as he marched through the rough terrain of Vietnam. How Ted Lavender(before he was shot) carried “6 to 7 ounces of dope”.

Some of these random objects come into play later in the novel. O’Brien decides to elaborate on Jimmy Cross’ relationship with Martha, as well as the bible always carried by the soldier Kiowa, as his character’s unyielding faith plays a somewhat key narrative role later on, via truly elaborating the desperation felt by O’Brien(represented by the author, as the narrator) as Kiowa dies one rainy night in a veritable “shit-field”. However, more often than not, no real reason is provided to the trinkets carried by the members of Alpha Company, the squad O’Brien is part of during the novel. We never learn the reason why some of the soldiers carry pencils and pens. Why Lee Strunk carried tanning lotion, or why Henry Dobbins carried 15 to 20 pounds of spare ammunition around with him wherever he went.

I find that many similar odds and ends appear throughout my life, reactions or objects that I cannot find any justification for. I have learned that, for whatever reason, I have to keep my phone in my right jean pocket, and my other trinkets(my ID, my pocket change, my transpass for the train) in my left pocket. If I try to change this order up, for instance, dare I say, put my phone in my right jean pocket, I start fidgeting like someone put an ice-cube down my shirt until I put all of my carry-ons in their correct place. Things like this might indicate to the casual observer that I’m some sort of OCD psycho-path, but then there are things that no matter how much I try, I can’t seem to find a reason for my behavior. I brush my hair out of my eyes about 50 times a day, despite my hair currently being so short that even if I brush my hair downward it probably wouldn’t block my view anyway. When I go to sleep every night, if all of my trinkets aren’t in my line-of-sight on my dresser, I might just freak out because apparently if they aren’t on that dresser, they’ve probably disappeared from planet earth all together. Also, if I’m on an airplane, I always want the aisle-set for no adequately explored reason.

I don’t expect to know my I do these things, neither do I ever expect to learn why Henry Dobbins carried chocolate or why Ted Lavender carried 6 to 7 pounds of dope. Hey, I’m 16, I don’t expect myself to explain myself, and for that matter, I don’t expect myself to be able to when I’m 60. Sometimes, the reasons people do things, or change the way they do are unexplainable. That’s not very satisfying from a storytelling perspective, but that, much to my personal dismay, is the reality of the life we live in. Things happen. People change. I change. I’m a different person than I was yesterday. Sometimes there’s a reasons for that, and sometimes there isn’t. My likes and dislikes change. Sometimes there’s a reason for that, and sometimes there isn’t. And sometimes it’s for a whole other reason I’m not even considering. And though I’ve never personally been another person in my life, but I feel like that is true for everyone, at least on some level. Like how Rat Kiley’s mental state complete deteriorated once he transferred to Japan. For no real reason. Even though he had been more stressing things during the war. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a transfer to Japan. Why? Hell if I know.

I’m 16. Right now I’m a moody, somewhat sarcastic, somewhat condescending person, who is always trying to figure out the reasons for the things I do and the things I think. Which is frustrating, frankly, since I’m always thinking things, so I’m always trying to process those things, which means I miss sometimes the words when others talk to me, which means I start to think about why I missed their query, and you get the point. Why? Hell if I know. Right now, as I write this very essay, I’m copying Tim O’Brien’s writing quirk of constantly remind the reader how old he is, since I’m constantly repeating that I’m currently 16. Why? Hell if I know.

I’m 16, and I spent a long time trying to figure out the question how are we, as individuals, are affected by the world around them. The answer I eventually came to, is that it’s the opposite. Perhaps it’s that the world changes us as we see more of it, but those changes are arbitrary, complete. I’m 16 now, and I hate tomatoes, but perhaps I’ll love those red slices in time. Because… we all change, if you think about. We’re different people, throughout our entire lives. And that’s okay. Because everyone changes, in ways often unexplainable, in ways often explainable. I don’t ever expect to know, for certain, how we change, why we change. But I know that we all change. Because we need to. The person we are now isn’t always up to the challenge of the person you are tomorrow. Just one thing… I think you should remember all the people that you used to be. Perhaps what I’m writing right now will not settle well with the person I am tomorrow. But as long as I remember that person I was, I can perhaps change in ways that aren’t arbitrary, in ways that I actually want to change. So… I’ll try to remember this. This person, I am, right now, the moody sarcastic condescending teenager who doesn’t know what the hell he is typing right now or why. I’ll always try to remember when Quinn Grzywinski was me. Because maybe as I change, inevitably, I’ll learn why I was the way I was. Then perhaps I’ll figure out who I am right now. Who I’ll be tomorrow. Who I’ll be for the rest of my life.

Can You Handle Change?

Can Your Life Change?

Going to the beach is supposed to be fun. You are supposed to have the time of your life. Swimming, hanging out with your friends or family, playing beach volleyball, going out afterwards, and so many other things that you can do at  beach, that makes that a day you can never forget. Wearing all shorts or swimwear, with flip-flops, is a look for the beach. Everyone at the beach will be wearing those. Me? I try to avoid the beach as much as possible. Up to a certain point, I am okay with the beach. When we get to the flip-flops part, I start to hate it. It’s an embarrassment to me when people see what I have on my foot. Trying to hide something, that can’t be hidden is almost impossible. Digging and dragging your feet in the sand isn’t as fun as it may sound. Coming up with different ways to hide, becomes a challenge for me and surely not a fun one. People start to look at you like you’re crazy, and you can’t stop trying to hide, but if you did they will see what you don’t want them to see.

Some may see what you’re hiding, and they may come up to you and ask, but that makes it even more difficult. It will reveal your history.

I always enjoyed history, and the things it tells you about your past. I know many people who couldn’t care less about your history, but then again who am I to judge. I love how one little detail can tell you hundreds of little things. In everyday life you can’t do that. As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. In history, “judging a book by it’s cover” can happen, and does happen a lot, but at the end, the real story is found. In real life people, “judge books by their covers” a lot. They see a person, and automatically make an assumption about them, even though they don’t know the real story behind that person.

I’m seventeen years old and have experienced much things that played a role in shaping my life, even though there’s more ahead of me.  At the age of seven, I made a big mistake that today I can’t change. Though I can change it’s appearance, I can’t change the experience that it carried.  

I can’t remember much things before the age of four, but I can remember most things after that age. I do remember that I was outgoing and was someone who always got in trouble. That would change very soon. I would become someone who is a completely different person from  that  “outgoing kid”.

Waking up early in a spring morning is beautiful. Just like every saturday, I woke up, did my usual morning routine, and headed outside to play with my friends. That morning, most of my friends had not come out, and the only people that were outside was one of my friend, and his little sister. I joined them and we started talking about what had happened the day before. The day before we had gotten in trouble at school and we talked about how everything that had happened was very unfair. One thing after another, and we moved the conversation into toys. I had recently gotten a new toy and my friend had not seen it. His sister went inside their house, and he came into my house. We started looking at my new toy, then we started playing around the house. I had not eaten breakfast before I got out so my mom asked us what we wanted for breakfast. My friend didn’t want anything because he had already ate, but I asked for scrambled eggs. My mom went into the kitchen and started cooking. We started to play again. As we started to play I heard my mom say,

“Don’t go in the kitchen.”

Even though she did say that, I didn’t listen. Right after she said that my little sister came up to us and said,  

“Can I play with you guys?”

We didn’t want to, so we started to run around the house and my little sister chasing after us. It became a game. Our first thought was go in the kitchen, because for some unknown reason my little sister was scared to go in the kitchen. I hid next to an open space near the oven, while my friend hid in the pantry closet. My sister couldn’t come in the kitchen because she was scared, so she ran back to her room. We both heard her leave, so we both got out of our hiding spaces, and tried to get back to our game. My friend got out and was head towards my room, I was dusting myself off from being next to the oven. As I walked towards exiting the kitchen, something poked my arm. As I turned around to see what it was, my eyes caught a pan dropping to the floor. My arm had hit the pan. As the pan dropped I felt something wet on my foot and on my sock, it was the oil that was inside the pan. I instantly thought I was in trouble. Than I felt the sizzling oil, sneak up on me. It was excruciatingly hot, and very painful. I ran around the house screaming and crying. My friend was frozen in place, wondering what he could do. My mom heard me and she ran after me, telling me  

“Everything is fine!”

She thought I was scared of getting in trouble. She didn’t know what had happened. I couldn’t speak. My ability to speak was muted by the pain of what had happened. My friend had broken out of the frozen state, and explained to my mom what had happened, while I was still screaming and running around.

My mom had called my dad, so we could go to the hospital. He was the only one who could get me there. He had the car. My dad was the calm one, he was able to calm both me and my mom down. On the way to the hospital, I was in the back seat of the car, and still crying from the pain. While he was driving, my dad was also trying to calm me down, and check up on me. When I got to the hospital, I began to feel as the whole world was going to end. I don’t like hospitals, if there was a way for hospitals not to exist I would be the first person to agree with it. The doctors rushed me into the emergency room, and that was the last thing I saw . I didn’t see what the doctors did to me, I don’t remember the room, I don’t remember the doctor's faces, I don’t remember the way the hospital looked. Everything I had was focused on one thing and one thing only, the never ending pain.

I remember suddenly opening my eyes, and the first thing I wanted to see was my leg. I wanted to see if it was real. My foot was wrapped around with bandages and I realized that everything I remembered had really happened.

For the next few weeks I couldn’t put my heel down, I was too afraid to. The right foot always took steps on it’s toes. I still had to go to the doctors and they checked my foot once every week. Before the bandages got put on, the doctor rubbed a medicine on the burn and that made the bandages stick to the foot. Every week I was scared to go to the doctor because of the pain the medicine caused.

For two months I couldn’t do anything. The doctors told me I couldn’t go to school, which meant I would stay home even after school was over.

As days passed, my foot started to get better, and I began to walk normally again. I began doing things like I used to, I even got cleared from the doctor that I could play soccer, and I could do all the things I used to before. Things got better.

One of the most beautiful days I have ever seen, turned to one of the most horrible and horrific days for me. Everything that happened also reminds me of a book I have read. A book about war and soldiers journey called “The Things They Carried” strangely reminds me of my story. In the book some of the soldiers have a hard time adapting to their normal lives after the war, and the main character doesn’t have any trouble adapting at all. After everything that happened I had trouble going back to one hundred percent of me. Which is why today I try to hide my scar from people, and stay away from active kitchens. What happened that day, I will always remember as life changing.

Child At Heart

Another regular day at school, I was copying down notes as usual. It was my 8th grade year, so a lot was going on. I was involved in the student council, so that meant I had to help arrange trips, fundraisers, etc. All I can remember thinking was,

“Wow, we’re going to be high schoolers soon, we’re growing up, and soon enough college is right around the corner!”  I was content, 8th grade was going to be the best year ever for me! Yet, I felt like everything was happening so quickly, growing up too fast, things  became too serious.

I just wished I could enjoy my days as carefree as I used to,  I would go to school and come home, finish up the little work I had, and just play. I was not allowed out, but I got to play at home, lay around, stress free, and that meant a lot to me. Everyone, including me was stressed out trying to prepare for the halloween party, out of nowhere my best friend surprised me with a gift, a wind-up toy. I was so happy and honestly I was surprised by how happy I was, I never thought I would be so touched by such a small childlike toy. Believe it or not, I kept it on my desk in every class I went to for the whole week, sounds a bit silly, someone might think, how can a wind-up toy be special? Well, it meant so much to me, because for the first time, in a long time I had felt like a kid, and I was so happy that I was still able to feel that way. I felt the same rush of happiness like when I was a child and was given a new toy.

As people grow up, they tend to let go of their childish characteristics or grow out of their interests and love for being a child completely. There is nothing wrong with that, but for me, I just can’t. I had always loved toys, even til today, as a 17 years old. I had always looked forward to getting stuffed animals for birthdays EVERY SINGLE YEAR, or any special occasion.

That time of my life, the things I really wanted were always considered childish. Is having stuffed animals take up about one fourth of your room so wrong?  My mom would say,

“Let’s donate some of the stuffed animals you have, you are too old for them now, you don’t need them.”

I would ask, “Why mom, what’s wrong with me liking what I like? I’m still a kid remember? Every time I asked you something you would say, “because you’re still young.” but now I’m too old? Like I’m too old now, so I need to do chores and help, but when I want to go out I’m too young?”

It’s not just from my mom, but my family, people who are older than I am, who see my love for things they think are for children. They are always asking one similar question,

“Why do you still have them? Why do you like them so much?”

I never fully understood why they would ask such similar question. Is there really an age limit on when to like what and when to stop?

The wind-up toy is such a simple thing, yet it brings so much joy to me. There’s not really a specific reasoning on how or why, it was just the moment and time I received it that shaped how I felt about it.

In the book, “The Things They Carried”, the soldiers carried many things with them, some arguably very strange.  One character has an ex-girlfriend’s underwear wrapped around his neck, another carried moccasins. They were off at war, and all carried something that kept them feeling safe or secure, even when things weren’t looking like they’d work out. To others it might seem strange, but everyone has their own little thing that means a lot to them regardless what the actual object might mean to others..

I carry my wind-up toy everyday in my bag with me, everywhere I go. Ask me why, I would say, I honestly don’t know. with a smile of course, because I really do not know. I love the ticking noise it makes when you wind it, tic-tic-tic-tic, and then it starts to move. It’s so amusing to me.

It’s very dear to me because it makes me feel like a kid, a piece of childhood I can carry around with me everywhere. Knowing I have it makes me feel a sort of comfort that I won’t lose it, or the feeling of what it was like to be a worry free child, that I can play with it anytime I want to. Growing up, I usually feel stressed about many things that you have to worry about during this period in your life, school, worrying about college, taking the SAT or ACT.

My mother once said, “Such an old head already, and still playing with toys!” Trust me, it sounds a lot funnier when she says it in Khmer.

I remember those times when my family asked things related to my wind-up toy or love for toys, because I realize that every time, I would reply differently, because it makes me feel differently every time. That is why it’s so special to me.

Now, all I see today is little kids watching egg surprise on youtube, how they would open it, and a toy would be inside of the chocolate egg. Well, I had never opened one, and I was so excited to! So I bought one, and I opened it up with my best friend. I ate the chocolate, and this was not too long ago, it was actually this year, I’m a junior in highschool. I remembered saying,

“Guess what, guess what! Close your eyes! NOW!”

“Okay, Okay, what is it?”

I happily placed the egg surprise in the palm of their hand. I remember the face of confusion.

“Ohh, haha, It’s an egg surprise!”

“I know, isn’t it so cool? Okay let’s open it!

We then opened it and ate the chocolate like kids. And then there was a yellow like case that was needed to open. We then squished it together, then POP! The surprise was so cute! they can be stacked on one another. It was the first egg surprised I open, I was so excited. Of course, I kept the toy to myself. I was opening the surprise with my best friend, but I was the one that got to keep it. Wow, that sounds selfish, but it’s the truth. I now take it with me everywhere, along with my wind-up toy.

Everything around me is changing, everyone is growing up, I find it important to really make yourself happy, because it’s your life. People deal with it, in many different ways. And me carrying the two toys means a lot. It’s not always on my mind, I usually don’t always think about it, or even remember it’s in my bag everywhere I go. It’s only when I actually look for something then I see it again unexpectedly, and feeling happy just like I did the first time.

People are changing and growing, so am I. Sometimes I get caught up with growing up, and not actually enjoying my teenage years. Everyone is so into growing up and being able to do what they want, going where they want, that they forget about the good aspect of not being able to. I catch myself wishing I was older, so I can do this and that, have my own place, and what not. I didn’t realize that getting older, means more responsibility.

But now, I find myself still feeling attached to the toys, yet sometimes prefer other things than just the play toys, that other thing is my phone. I have to admit, I carry my phone with me everywhere. I carry it to school, to the store, even to the bathroom, I literally meant everywhere! In the end, I love that I can still act like a child, still playful around the ones close to me, love the things I loved my whole life. Just have a good fun time, stress free, not worrying about a thing. That’s the most important thing to me.

The Best Personal Essay I've Ever Written

The inspiration for my personal essay is from the book The Things They Carried. In the beginning of the book, one of the characters, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters, which reminded me of a personal experience. It also reminds me of how the world sees love as a thing that two people should share. Now, I have a better understanding of what love really is and what it entails.

I will never forget the time I thought I was in love. It was two summers ago.

I thought that I was in love with a girl named Eleonora Guzman. Her real name was Eleonora but everyone she knew called her Ellie. We graduated from our middle school, A B Day, together. We knew each other since the fifth grade,  what would be eight years now . Ellie and I were in an on and off relationship since the 7th grade, going up to the 9th. It wasn’t like we were in a relationship, then broke up and got back in a relationship a week later. What happened was we were together in the 7th grade and broke up a few months later. We got back together in the 9th grade and broke up a couple months later.

In my 9th grade summer she was in a relationship with one of my best friends, Dontae. At first, I was cool with it, but out of nowhere I caught feelings for her again.

Well, not exactly, “out of nowhere”.

Eleonora and I had a conversation one night, and  she said something that really made me feel some type of way. We said some things that weren’t appropriate. We said things that I knew Dontae would not like. A few nights after Ellie and I had the conversation, Dontae saw the messages and he found out that we were talking and he saw what we were talking about. Dontae and I stopped talking to each other after he found out.

Everyday Ellie and I would write each other letters. We wrote letters because her mom was very strict and she didn’t let her outside, and she wouldn’t let Ellie use her phone because she knew that Ellie would use it to talk to me or Dontae. I would get her the letters by dropping them off to her apartment window every morning after dropping off my younger brothers at summer camp.

In the letters Ellie wrote to me, she would say how she thinks I’m a great guy, but she loves Dontae, and she doens’t want to leave him. In my opinion, when we were together, I treated her better than Dontae did, so I didn’t understand why she would want to stay with him if I treated her better. But I cherished those letters and read them as if she would leave him and stay with me forever.

One day, I wrote her  a letter asking her to come to bible study at church. It would have been one of our only chances to see each other, and she took that chance.

Somehow, Dontae found out that Ellie went to church and he showed up with one of me and Dontae’s friends, Jahsil. Jahsil came inside and told Eleonora “Dontae is outside and  he’s really mad. He said coem outside.”  I stood up to see Dontae, and Ellie stood up and pushed me

down telling me to stay.

Ellie stepped outside and I didn’t hear anything but the sound of her and Dontae’s voices yelling at each other. She came back in and said nothing, and we didn’t say a word to each other for the rest of the night.

A few days later, I was playing kickball with some friends and Dontae walked up to me. As he was walking up, his demeanor looked as if he was going to hit me. There were two kids with him. One of them was Jahsil,  and the other one was a kid I didn’t know.

“Why didn’t you tell me that Ellie texted you the things she did?” He asked me

“I didn’t know how to tell you, I wasn’t thinking.” I told him.

“You are supposed to be my brother. You are supposed to be like family. I trusted you and you did me dirty. You’re a crazy bull .” He said as he walked away shaking his head.

“You should have hit em’. Knock him right out.” One kid whispered to Dontae.

Yea, you should have hit em” “another kid agreed.

I didn’t even finish playing dodgeball. I went right home after that.

That night I sat in my room and I listened to music. I listened to music for hours. From Tupac to Kendrick Lamar,  Nas to J. Cole, and Childish Gambino to Chance the Rapper.

After 5 hours, I stopped listening to music, and I started to think.

I thought for hours.

I realized a few things. One thing I realized was that I couldn’t let this whole situation ruin me and Dontae’s friendship. We’ve been best friends since kindergarten, and we never did each other wrong.

Another thing I realized was that I didn’t really love Ellie. I thought I did. I didn’t really love her, I just loved the good times we had. She would have good moments, but she wasn’t a good person.

A few days later, I decided to go to Dontae’s house to talk to him about everything. So after I dropped off my younger brothers at summer camp, I walked to Dontae’s house.

I walked up to his door and rung the doorbell. I could hear his mom’s footsteps come down the stairs as she came down to get the door

“Who is it?” She asked. as she walked up to the door

“Vaughn” I answered.

She opened the door and welcomed me in.

“Dontae! Vaughn is down here to see you!” She yelled.

“He is in the shower. He will be out in a minute.” His mom said.

“Vaughn, I haven’t seen you in a minute. How have things been?” She asked.

“Things have been a bit rocky between Dontae and I.” I replied.

“What happened?” She asked.

I explained to her everything that happened with me, Ellie, and Dontae. Dontae came downstairs by the time I finished explaining everything to her.

“What’s up.” He said as he gave me a handshake.

“I came to talk to you about everything. First off, I  sincerely apologize on my part of everything that happened. I should have told you that she sent me those messages. I admit that I was wrong.” I told Dontae.

After that we talked for almost an hour about where it started, and the things we should’ve did, and Dontae apologized for how he acted.  

At the end of the whole discussion Dontae and I agreed to never let a girl make us mad like we did. We agreed to never let a girl get in between our friendship again.

It took us about a week or two to get back on good terms. Dontae and I did a couple things before we became really cool.  We played videogames and we played  basketball  for long periods of time and we had more one-on-one conversations before we really got things like they used to be.

Morally, I learned that I didn’t love Ellie. More than that, I learned she didn’t love me. This taught me that you can love someone, or think you love them, and they don’t love you back. A poet from Mumbai named Sanober Khan said herself, “the saddest thing is to be a minute to someone, when you’ve made them your eternity”, and to Ellie, I was a minute instead of an eternity.

Stuffed Animals Make Everything Better

“Okay, who wants to go with dad this time? He’s going to Maryland for a solar panel conference.” I ask my bed full of stuffed animals. Everyone raises a paw.

“You can’t all go!” Some of them looked discouraged, but they don’t give up. Everybody wants to go on the trip with dad, including me. But I am not allowed to go with him.

“Rabbit, you went last time. So did you Sparkles! Let your friends have a chance.” I look around at all of their eager faces.

Finally I decide. “Okay… This time Maggie and Meridian get to go with dad.”


When I was younger, my dad used to go on business trips two or three times a month. His job would send him to places like Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and even Ohio once or twice for conferences or meetings. I would have given anything to go on a trip with my dad. Since I wasn’t allowed to go on his business trips with him, I would always sneak one or two of my stuffed animals into my his suitcase when he wasn’t looking. I switched it up each time, being careful to not show favoritism towards any one stuffed animal.  

I first sent stuffed animals with him to keep my dad company on the trip. When he was by himself in the hotel room he would be reminded of me by seeing the stuffed rabbit, cat, panda, or giraffe I slept with every night. Since I couldn’t be there with him, I decided that my stuffed animals were the next best contenders for the job.

My stuffed animals were my best friends. They kept the monsters away while I was sleeping, kept me company while I played in my room, and were the only ones to whom I told all my secrets. Who better to keep my dad company and watch out for him in my place? By sending one or two with my dad it felt like I was there, similar to the mementos carried by the soldiers at war in the book The Things They Carried. Each soldier carried a different object to remind them of what is waiting for them at home. For me, my dad was a soldier. He was fighting a war of work, long days, and hotels in which there was no family to greet him. Sending stuffed animals with him was my way of reminding him that we were waiting for him when he came home, with lots of hugs and love to give him.

Every time he left for a business trip my world changed because he wasn’t there. So much of my life included him, that I had to get used to him not being there for days at a time. I learned to cherish the time I had with him when he was home. Knowing that my world changed so much when he was gone, I wanted to make sure his world didn’t have to change as much as mine. Stuffed animals made everything better.

Over the years, my dad switched jobs and no longer had to go on as many business trips. He was home more and I still cherished his presence. Our relationship became stronger and deeper. He was finally home.


“Hey dad! What’s up?” I was visiting Washington D.C. with my friend and her family for the weekend. It was an early Sunday morning in April 2015, and we had just sat down to eat bagels. A call from my dad came through my phone and I answered.

“Ari? Are you with your mom right now?” I could immediately tell it wasn’t my dad’s voice. I recognized my neighbor’s raspy voice. Only this time his usual calm, slow voice was panicked and quick.

“No, I am in Washington D.C. Why do you have my dad’s phone? Is everything okay?” This time he paused.

“Yes, do you know where your mom is?”

“She is at Sunday School with my brother. Where is my dad? Is he oka--”


The phone hung up.

I could not understand why my neighbor had my dad’s phone and why he was so alarmed. Thousands of things raced through my brain, but my mind automatically went to the worst case scenario. The only reason my neighbor would be calling me on my dad’s phone is if my dad was unable to call me himself, I thought to myself. It was early Sunday morning, my mom and brother were at out and my dad was home alone.

I started to panic, I called my mom to see what was happening. After she didn’t pick up, I started to worry more. Next I called my other neighbor, my dad’s best friend, to see if he knew what was happening. His wife, a nurse, picked up the phone. She explained to me that my dad was throwing-up uncontrollably and had an intense headache -- the ambulance was on the way. They thought it was some kind of stomach bug. I didn’t get a lot of details from her, but it was enough to validate my frenzy of fear. I tried calling my mom again. She didn’t answer. All I could do at this point was wait; so I finished my bagel.

What felt like hours later, but was only 30 minutes, my mom called me back. My dad had collapsed at home and could not stop vomiting. First, he called 911. But, as he described it later, he couldn’t answer the 911 responder’s questions because he was in so much pain that he couldn’t stop screaming. So he called our neighbor, at that point he couldn’t move and could barely talk. “Thank god for speed dial,” my dad says, looking back on that morning. My dad was rushed to the hospital and after many hours of tests, they discovered that my dad had bleeding in the brain. A subarachnoid hemorrhage. Normally, your brain is surrounded by Cerebrospinal fluid. Instead, my dad’s brain was surrounded pretty heavily by blood, which caused the pressure in his brain to be too high, and become damaging.

He spent five weeks in the ICU, a step-down unit in the Hospital, and rehab. Five weeks filled with doctors, procedures, therapies, and pain. Five weeks from which he remembers almost nothing. Five weeks where I couldn’t just send a stuffed animal in his bag to make him feel better.

My mom, brother, and I visited him everyday. Every time I left the hospital, I felt guilty about leaving him alone. I didn’t want him to feel abandoned.

One day he cried when we visited because he didn’t remember that we had visited everyday. He cried because he thought he was alone, because he didn’t know that we were there for him. After all those years of sneaking stuffed animals into his bag, it broke my heart that he couldn’t remember we were there for him, and always had been.

They don’t know what caused the bleed or if it is a one-time thing. They called it idiopathic, medical speak for “random.” It started off a normal day of bagels and shopping in Georgetown, and ended with random event that changed my world as I know it. Tim and Kiowa’s idiopathic event was being drafted into the war. My dad’s idiopathic event was this brain hemorrhage. One random medical mystery caused my dad’s life to go from a run to a crawl, without asking for permission to ruin his life. When your world changes, you are forced to change with it in fear of getting left behind. After my dad’s brain hemorrhage, I learned to adapt. I helped him heal and get through the hospital and rehab. Things are starting to get back to normal, but I think we need to create a new definition of normal.

I can never un-live the near-death experience of one of my favorite people. He laid in the hospital bed and said goodbye to me. He prepared himself to die. He, again, was fighting a war. Like a soldier in a battle, allowing death to be expected. Except this battle wasn’t in Vietnam or on a business trip, it was inside his body.

I grew up believing that stuffed animals made everything better. As much as I wish I was still so naive, I have learned that I can’t always just send a stuffed animal in a bag to make my dad feel better. When times like those arise, when I feel helpless and confused, I turn to my stuffed animals for comfort.  


“Dear Diary, I started skipping meals again. I feel fat and ugly and I just want to die. I am worthless. I don’t deserve to live, I take up space that could be used for someone who is pretty and a better person. I think if I died today the world be better off without me…”

This is a diary entry I wrote. I never told anyone about this and I had never planned to. I guess it’s because I thought no one would understand. Now it’s time to try and make them understand.

Let me start by saying that the worst feeling in life is that death is the only way to rid yourself of pain. Once death resonates in your mind it never leaves. It followed me wherever I went and living with that burden is extremely hard to deal with. Constant questions swarmed my head. “When does the feeling go away? What did I do to deserve this punishment?”

I know these feelings all too well. I live through this nauseating pain of feeling like death is my only way out of the constant darkness I’m feeling. For a very long time, I wanted to hide from what I was feeling. I thought all the scary thoughts would go away and I would get better over time. Ignoring how I felt is something I did regularly. I didn’t want to acknowledge that something could be wrong with me. Thinking that there was something wrong with my mind made me on the edge and I thought I wasn’t normal. I am now a 16 year old junior in high school struggling to find reasons to live. My existence is something I constantly question. I always ask myself whether my life was worth living.

I recently tried to commit suicide and that lead to me being in a mental hospital. I have attempted suicide twice in my life and I never told anybody about the first one, until the second attempt happen. It was a normal day for some but for me, life was becoming a burden that I couldn’t carry around any longer. I took my brother to school and the whole time I had this empty feeling. I felt that I didn’t belong and overall, I was so exhausted with all the mixed emotions I had going on in my mind. I tried to jump in the train tracks but there was too many people around so I stopped myself. I was completely zoned out for the remainder of the day. I couldn’t focus in school and I didn’t know how to just come out and say I tried to kill myself. How do you do just tell someone, hey I feel like dying or I tried to kill myself today. I was a danger to myself and needed medical attention. I wanted to hide from these feelings and ignore them.  Last thing I thought about doing was explaining it.

I remember saying to my mentor Mr.Kay “I’m really scared of myself and I don't trust myself anymore. I’m afraid that I’ll do something to harm myself again…”  

I  mustered up enough courage and told Mr.Kay, who then told Ms. Siswick, which lead to me being placed in a mental hospital. Going into the hospital I had no idea how to explain to my mom what was going on in my head, who was just hearing about my suicidal thoughts. I couldn't find the right words to describe my constant loneliness. Our conversation did no justice for me or her. It was something like

“ Why do you feel like this?”

“ I just don’t feel important in life, like the world doesn’t need me.”

“I don’t understand why… like what made you feel this way?”

Frankly, I couldn’t explain what I was going through enough to where she would understand.  I came to the conclusion that no one will understand how feel. I started feeling angry with myself, because I couldn’t explain the thoughts that lead to my suicide attempts. Even now I don’t ever think I can come up with the right words to describe what my thought process was during my suicide attempt. In the hospital I thought maybe I could learn to better explain my feelings.

There's this stigma related to mental hospitals and it’s nothing like the movies say. There are no straight jackets or padded rooms. It’s like being in a college dorm that you can’t leave from. My first day there was a wave of questions.
“Why are you here?”

“ How are you feeling today?”

“ How come you feel suicidal?”

“ Why don’t you like the way you look?”

“ You don’t feel important, why?”

Questions after question,  no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to answer any. There were kids there my ages, some younger and some older. The children in there were either there for anger or because they were suscial themselves. The suicidal ones understood my reasoning and I didn’t need to explain myself for them. They just knew the battle I was fighting. We were all fighting a battle with our minds. Nothing about it was like jail like people make it seem. You go to school you can have play time. There are groups that help with coping techniques. Being there was nothing like I expected it to be and I wasn’t going to hide being there from anyone.

Coming out of the hospital I tried so hard to explain what it’s like in a mental hospital and my reasoning for being there. Once again I realized that I could explain that process enough for them to understand. I felt like I just got done war and now I had to answer all these questions about it. How do people from war explain their experiences to others who have not gone through it. Reminds me of a book called “The Things They Carried.” The main character Tim and another character names Bartle go through something similar as me. Bartle has been through a lot and seen some pretty horrendous things and one doesn't want to talk about it and doesn’t know how to talk about. Tim has a hard time trying to explain what happen in the war and why it’s happening to people who don’t understand it. I feel like a war soilder who has fought a bloody and gruesome war, a war with oneself, and now has to talk about the details.

Just like these men I can’t seem to find the words to explain it to people who don’t understand death. I came to the conclusion that death becomes apart of everyone's life and in some extent we will all be connected by that. For people like myself,  death becomes your best friend and your worst enemy. It follows you and haunts you every single day. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to find the words to explain to people how my depression and suicidal thoughts take over me. I’m not sure, I have to though. I realized I was doing it all wrong. I don’t need for people to understand my situation. It was more so accepting it as being apart of me and knowing that yes,I am going through this and damn right it’s extremely difficult. No one knows what it’s like until they go through it. They can only sympathize with you and give you support. I realized I was looking for support from others and not for them to understand my situation.

The Game I Lost

I’ve been stuck. I’ve been writing about the same thing for the past five years, but it works for me. Whenever a teacher assigns a personal project or paper to write, I go on and on about my 7th grade mid life crisis, because you don’t fix what’s not broken right? But I never really went in depth with it. I didn’t explain the nitty gritty details of what I was going through because I was insecure and scared by them. There were thoughts going through my head that I didn’t even understand myself so I couldn’t give a reasonable explanation for why they were there. But now, after 5 years of reflection, I’m starting to figure it out.

My 7th grade year wasn’t your average hanging out at the playground with your friends kind of thing. It wasn’t going to the movies and trying to impress the boy you liked by wearing bright blue eyeshadow because you didn’t know how to do make-up yet. I was concussed and it felt like all of my emotions were gone. Things I used to enjoy were reminders of what I couldn’t have. Obstacles I needed to overcome were like jumping over mountains no matter how big or small they were. Everything was chaos in my mind. But everything was fine around me. I kept looking for something to fix my problems overnight, because that’s how fast they appeared. But it wasn’t that simple. Up until June of 6th grade everything in my life had been easy. I played soccer every day and didn't have any real responsibilities. It seems juvenile talking about going through a midlife crisis at such a young age, but it tore me apart. I dedicated 9 years of my life to playing the sport that I loved just to have it taken away from me. 9 years of playing soccer were quickly demolished in 3 days. I was hit in the eye with a football, lost my memory from hitting a soccer ball with my forehead, and then knocked to the ground only to have my head kicked around like a pinball in an arcade game. And after going through all this, I had a doctor tell me I couldn’t play soccer anymore. Can you believe that shit?

I always thought concussions weren’t that serious and that the people who got them were fine within days of hurting themselves. That was, until I got 3. But before I figured out how much damage I had done to my brain, I was truly oblivious. In fact my whole family was. I remember going to my first appointment with my neurologist and my mother basically apologizing for me being there. She thought we were taking time away from patients who actually needed the doctor’s help, as if I wasn’t one of them. We both thought I would be in and out of the office making it a one time thing. We were so wrong. It was a shock to me that I completely failed every test the doctor gave me. He told me to follow his finger with my eyes without moving my head, and I couldn’t do it. He told me to stand on one leg for 10 seconds, and I couldn’t even stand for 2. He told me to stand up and close my eyes, and I fell backwards and almost hit my head again because my balance was so off. He even had me sit down and take a test that showed my average speed and reaction time in completing certain tasks. As a straight A student, I was naturally expecting high remarks because that’s just what had always happened. I failed miserably. I was in the 30th percentile of everyone who took it, while I was supposed to be in the 60th to pass. This was when I realized everything was out of my control. I had no idea what was going on in my brain. Flash forward and I found myself alone trying to figure out when I was going to wake up from this nightmare. My head hurt constantly, I was missing school to go to doctor’s appointments every week, and I was in both physical and emotional therapy.

After finding out I couldn’t play soccer anymore, I felt numb. I was 12 years old and on antidepressants because I lost the only thing in the world that I truly loved. I couldn’t feel anymore. My emotions were all over the place in a way I can’t explain. I would suppress everything. I literally wouldn’t talk or convey a single feeling because I was so depressed. I remember one day I was sitting at breakfast and I dropped my toast on the floor. I don’t know if it was because I was holding everything in, or that it seemed like nothing was going my way, but I broke down. I started bawling my eyes out and having a panic attack at the fact that I lost a piece of toast. This stupid thing dropped and I dropped with it. It might feel idiotic now, but that’s how raw I was. I had no control, I just went through the motions and tried to suppress my feelings the best I could, but right then it wasn’t good enough. Everything was on my mind all the time. I was helpless with no idea where to go and after the toast hit the ground I couldn’t do it. I was dead. I felt like I was already six feet under, and the way my mind was working the reality of that happening was closer than ever. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t angry, and I certainly wasn’t happy. I just wasn’t. I can’t even add a word to finish that sentence because really there’s no word to describe it. It was a lot like a war. Except there was no army, no soldiers, just me. A fragile 12 year old girl fighting to stay alive. Now it really doesn’t sound like war but you don’t really know what it feels like until you face it yourself. Just like Tim O’Brien said in The Things They Carried, you can never truly understand a war story unless you experience it. Reading or hearing about it never has the same effect because there is nothing like it. My parents tried to reason with me by saying losing soccer wasn’t that bad. I remember a time when my dad compared what I was going through to him wanting to be a pilot, but never being able to. He told me that having soccer torn out of my life was the same as not being able to do something he’d never done before. At that point I was out of control. He hadn’t been a pilot for 9 years and then been forced to stop flying. He hadn’t felt how exhilarating it was. He never fell in love with it, and then to try and say that it wasn’t that bad. But how? He didn’t know what it was like. He had no idea what I was going through. Hell, I had no idea what I was going through. He didn’t know what it felt like to cry himself to sleep every night, to look in the mirror and wonder why he was still alive, to cut and burn his arms in hope to feel some sort of control of what was happening. I wasn’t sleeping, eating, exercising, or talking, my head hurt, I was frustrated, and aggravated, and obliterated, I couldn’t concentrate, or express myself, or play soccer, and I couldn’t do it anymore. I really couldn’t. I had been contemplating suicide for a while. Every time I cut myself I wanted to cut deeper. Every time I burned my arms I wanted to burn myself down. Every time I took a pill I wanted to take more, so I did. I cut until I bled and I burned until I couldn’t feel my skin. I took 10 antidepressants when I was only supposed to take 1. I starved myself hoping to disintegrate into nothing. This change in my life made me shut down and try to kill myself because I couldn’t handle it. But I could never do it. I could never voluntarily end my own life because of my family. I could hurt, damage, bruise, burn, and injure my body in any way, but I couldn’t end it. No matter how much I wanted to I could never do it because I knew the pain my family would suffer would be much worse than my own. But I was stuck. I always wanted to end it but never had the courage. And now I’ve been sitting here, writing about the same thing for the past five years, trying to figure myself out. And I still can’t do it.

Human Behavior

“She what?” I said. I needed to hear it again. It just couldn’t be true.

“Uuuuh… I think Quiyamah is the one who stole your mom’s ring…” Anna repeated.

“Where would you get that idea?” I said in disbelief.

“Well she’s told me about … how she’s stolen things from your house before.”

“What?!” I was shocked. There was no way she could’ve done this. She’s pulled a lot of shit on me but never this foolish.

“Yeah like some of your jewelry and makeup.” She said.

I had lost some jewelry before and just thought I had misplaced it. I can be pretty forgetful sometimes so it was pretty easy to convince myself that. I also never thought my best friend, since kindergarden would do something like this to me.

“Well- why didn’t you tell me in the first place!?” I asked. I was furious with her for not telling me, but part of me still questioned her story altogether, so I kept interrogating her for the rest of lunch.

“I’m sorry! I really am. I should’ve told you… “ Anna looked upset and disappointed in herself, but I didn’t know if this was genuine or not. At this point I didn’t know what to believe.

“ Makeup is one thing, but your mom’s ring? I can’t keep lying about this.” She said. I couldn’t believe she lied to me. I thought I would have at least one friend that stood by my side but I guess I was wrong.

“Why would she do this, or even think she could get away with this?” I asked in a fiery voice.

“ Well... she said it was easy because you were too naive and trusting to notice anything.” Anna said.

Well that stung. It was like someone punching me in the heart. I could feel the tears in my eyes and I tried to hold them back. I took a deep breath.

“I’m really sorry. I should’ve told you.” Anna kept repeating. We sat in silence for a few minutes. We were sitting alone at one of the lunch tables at the time, but I checked to see if any of the other 8th graders heard us. I looked over at Quiyamah’s table to see if she noticed us. Fortunately, she seemed distracted enough by her friend Marie to notice us talking.

“Well what should I do now?” I said feeling bitterly defeated.

“I think…” She paused. “Maybe you should tell your mom.”

I thought about it for a few minutes. Part of me agreed with going and telling my mom, but I was also scared to. What was I even going to say? That one of my best friends since kindergarten had been stealing from my house, and another friend knew and didn’t tell me  about it? I didn’t know if I could bring myself to do it, but at this point I had no other choice.

“After school.” I stated. “We will go to my mom’s office after school and tell her.”

Getting through the rest of that school day was awful. I thought I was going to cry, but honestly I was still in shock. I counted down every minute until 3:00 o’clock knowing I would finally be out of school only be trapped in my mom’s office where I would have tell the truth.

Once our teacher dismissed us from school, I went over to Anna making sure not to bump into Quiyamah or any of my other so called “friends”. We quickly left the school, but instead of going to my house we walked to my mom’s office which was in Penn campus.

While we were heading over I was texting my mom informing her that Anna and I  would be over to tell her about the stolen ring. I told her that we thought it was Quiyamah and that we would tell her more when we got over. While that was going on Anna was giving me more details on what she knew about Quiyamah’s past thefts. My mood became more upbeat when Anna and I planned out what we were going to say to my mom. I felt like we had a whole secret plan, and that maybe everything was going to turn out okay. At this point I was in too much disbelief to be upset so I started to just laugh the situation we were in.

The closer we got to my mom’s office the more anxious I felt, so by the time we got to her door I wanted to run back home. Once I finally forced myself to knock on the door we heard a voice “come in” in a somewhat serious, but affectionate tone. Anna and I let ourselves in to find my mother on her computer focused on her writing, papers covering her desk.

We stood their for a few second as she kept typing on her computer. She looked up.

“So...What happened?”

We told her everything . I did most of the talking, but Anna would speak up every once in while. I could tell she was frightened by my mother at this point who sat their with a very grim look on her face.

Once we stopped my mom took a deep breath and said “I have a class I have to teach in a few minutes. You join me downstairs, and then we will figure this out afterwards. Is that okay?” We nodded.

For the next few hours we sat in the middle of my mom’s classroom as they discussed if rich people should be obligated to give to others in need. It kept me distracted, but not enough to get rid of the anxiety I was feeling at the moment. After the class she took us back upstairs to get her things.

“Were going to your mom’s house now, “ she said to Anna sternly. “I think she needs to know what’s going on too.”

Anna’s mom was known for being an incredibly strict and tough mother so when wasn’t surprised that she was yelling loud enough at Anna for the whole street to hear. Although I have to admit I was still quite scared myself. My mom noticed how scared and upset I looked so she put her arm around me.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I lied. She knew it too.

We went back to our house leaving a sad looking Anna with her mom. My mom called my dad and told him about it, then Quiyamah’s mom.

“I just called your father, and we decided we are going to invite Anna, Quiyamah, and her mother over to figure out what’s going on. We’re going to try to get Quiyamah to confess too, okay?” She said. She looked me dead in the eyes. “You realize how angry I am about this right?”

“Yes.” I said.

“Okay, I love you very much .” She said.

“I love you too, mom.” I said.

That night proceeded to be one of the worst nights of my life. My mom, dad, Anna, Quiyamah, and Quiyamah’s mom decided to come over our house and figure out what was going on. The whole time I just sat their silently with my head down, half listening to the conversation, half of my brain in a completely different world. It wasn’t until my mom asked me what if any of my stuff had gone missing that I started talking, and even then I was a sputtering mess, and on the verge of tears.

Quiyamah never actually confessed to stealing my mother’s ring. My mom knew it because we noticed it was gone right after Quiyamah left my house, and my mom NEVER misplaces anything. She never confessed to taking any of my stuff either. In the end I didn’t really know what happened, but I knew Quiyamah wasn’t a good friend. She has lied, used, and talked behind my back before so I felt as though it was a sign once I found out about this situation. The only thing I regretted about the end of our friendship was not telling her off when I had the chance.

Now I’m going to reveal something about the story I just told. No, it’s not a lie but I do stretch the truth. Their are detailed in her I made up from not remembering the exactly what happened and how it happened. From telling this story I realized one reason why Tim O'brien might’ve lied so much throughout his book. Besides wanting to show people a different truth he made for himself, maybe he also just didn’t remember exactly what happened in Vietnam. It was all a haze to him that he just wanted to block out of his head, and I can relate to this. Part of me doesn’t remember because it’s been so long since the incident, but part of me just didn’t remember. Although I can’t compare my experience to being in the vietnam war, I do know the pain of having to block out a memory, and replacing with a story.

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