Is It Really?

Angelyque Oquendo

9/29/17

Ms. Pahomov

English 2

10th Grade


Is It really?

Oh! Crap I’m late, I run to put clothes on throwing on whatever caught my eye first at my only chance at not being late to this special “appointment”. I’m running to the bus with my mom we are trying to catch our breathes, while having a thick lump in my throat trying to catch what little air I can inhale. My pace is accelerating as I get warmed up to run faster, and faster to catch the late bus. As I reached the door it’d slide shut half way and I thrusted my arm through the opened crack of the door and the door slid right back while yelling for my mother to catch up, . Soon enough someone had offered their seat to me and my mom, but I hesitantly accepted the offer to the seat, sat down next to my mom it was akward at first but then I soon enough let it go.

All I can think about was that I’m not cut out for this, what if they wont except me or like me or even care about me, “ That’s basically all I thought about” that whole bus ride. My mom just kepted on say is that “you’ll be fine, you will be ok/ They’ll love you”, and basically I just blodded most of that out of my head and honestly I have no idea why I care so much about why my other side of my family will even like or acknowledge me or even love me, for some reason I just wanna get a good look of why I’m trying so hard at this attempt of what is actually not me.

“Angelyque Oquendo is not a punctual person she can be punctal if she is determined at what she puts her mind to, her meeting and seeing her dad’s side of the family again to at least remember what, who everyone still or might look like”. Back to whatever mom was doing I guess trying to get my attention “ANGEL!” “huh yea” “come on were getting off” So we hoop off the bus and carry on walking to the next corner of something and Market ,“I don’t remeber the street my mom was walking to fast for me to see”, but we are suppose to meet with everyone I think it was TGI Friday’s or Target I don’t know I can’t really remember. It all of a sudden gotten really chilly and personally I thought of it being the emotion I felt or the weather either or I did’nt really like the feeling.

As we walked right in and up the stairs to the resturant of TGIFriday’s a hostess greeted us and we greeted back she asked where we’d like to sit but we told her were with a party, she asked which, we told her the name of the party and she escorted me and my mom to the tables, As we walked up the stairs and followed the hostess she gently gestured us the event right infront of our eyes as I stood there and I froze for a solid 3 minutes before anyone had noticed me and my mom standing there, she was smiling so bright like she had just gotten proposed to and I have my eyes wide open so wide that if you looked deep enough you can probably see me shivering inside. I may-be exaggerating just alittle but I was really wondering why I did’nt remember half of my siblings faces and half of my cousin/ aunts, uncles I mean come on I have a huge family. I guess what I learned from this moment in my life would be that “Don’t always expect the worst in people”.


So we are laughing and giggling together about something very funny a comment from the my old sister Auroara and she is hirlarious plus she’s smart, nice. Well some of my family member’s are almost exactly the same they all have a sense of humor and are very intelligent, some of them have a really contagious laugh, but they make up for it and as I think to myself they are’nt that bad I thought that they’ll be really rude or boring, ugly. I’m kidding except for Phil that man is ugly as my dad calls him “Ugly Phil”. Anyway after the little party celebration they invited me to go to the movies with them another time I accepted and we all said our goodbye’s and exchanged numbers, My mom and I got a ride home by my sister she has a buggy car “punch buggy no license car” and while my mom chatted on with her in the car I started to drift away in the music thinking to myself that this was’nt so bad “Never judge a book or dictionary by it’s cover”.


Restriction

Azirah Bowman

English

Restriction

This is why I have restriction on my phone. LISTEN! I snuck to an event with a person I wasn't allowed to go with, and yes I felt bad after I got caught , and yet I still think it  wasn’t worth it. But I did it and I am still getting punished for it. I haven't had social media on my phone for a whole summer and now during school. I think it's going too far. The restriction is a mode on your phone that takes away your app store and you can't get into it unless you know the password. So now I have to redeem myself to get a social media at this point in time. Therefore, I am upset that I have to keep asking for it.

It all started when I was going to the Penn Relays,  I had gotten permission to go. Once I got there,  I saw someone  I was  not allowed to hangout with , but  the next thing I  knew I was hanging out with him.  He even encouraged me into going back the next day . So I got home and,  I tried to convince my mom on letting me go.  When she said yes, I was excited. However, when I walked out of the house I felt ashamed,and discourteous. I also knew the consequences. The consequence would be  to take all  of my apps away.  I would have to wait  about a month and a couple of days, until I would be  allowed to ask my parents for an app on my phone. I'm only allowed to get one app at a time, and if I mess up, they make it two weeks until I can get another app. But,  I have to show that I deserve it or I won't get it . But I wasn't thinking, I think it was that  I didn't care or all the excitement got to me,  that made me forget about the consequences. I kept walking to the event.

Once I got to the relays, I was about to go back home but as soon as I turned to head back , I saw him and I no longer felt guilty, and we had fun that day. I felt as though I got away with going behind my parents back. However, when I got home, , my mom began to ask me questions, such as ¨who did you go with?¨, ¨how did you get back home,¨, and ¨how did you enter the event without a ticket? I was so scared that I just let everything out and told her. When she sent me to my room,  I went to sleep.When she woke me up from my nap, I  felt so sorry for doing this to her. I made her lose  trust in me, and  knew and still know that it's going to take awhile to redeem it. Also, I knew my mom felt heartbroken just because i went behind her back. She was so scared and I was so wrong. Mr.Terrance is my step dad who lives with my mom and takes care of us.  He came in the room and took my advice, he added restriction. As soon as he did that,  I knew it was wrong for me to go behind my parents backs and I know I won't do it again, but the thing is, I still regret it to  this day.

I learned that negativity always comes back to you, no matter what you do, there will always be a time where it comes back. It's like the cycle of life, what goes around comes right back around. So to this day I know, that I need to do what I need to do and fix my mistakes.I am always positive and I know that once I feel guilty of something, I need to turn the other way and do the right thing.

A Tragedy that Turned into Happiness

Since the day I was born, family has always been by my side through whatever. Through the drama, the tragedies, the unforgettable moments, and the good times. Many people aren’t as close to their great grandmother because they either didn’t get to meet them or they never seen them as often. Well it’s different for me, I was close with my great grandmother, Auristela. She was such a sweetheart and always worried about her family. The bond she had with everyone is the true definition of a great family bond. Unfortunately, everything came crashing down the day we lost her. Auristela’s wish was for our family to always stay together and not lose contact. She wanted to make us realize how important family is. We all made sure to not break her promise so we had the best family reunion ever.

It was August 23, 2013 and it was a very hot day. Sweat dripping down everyone’s faces and kids running around having the time of their lives. I was helping my mom setting down the food on the tables and when I tell you there were a bunch of bees, there were a bunch of bees! My mom kept telling me to not worry but I was only 10 years old, I couldn’t help myself. All of my cousins arrived from Philadelphia which I was ecstatic about. They were like siblings to me because I never had siblings to mess and tons of fun with. Everyone had red and white on, my great grandmother’s favorite rose colors. There was a basketball court where I played basketball with my cousins, then I went to the playground to play with my more younger cousins. My cousin, Josh, who is my age thought he was super cool doing tricks on the playground equipment. He was on the monkey bars and was swinging back and forth upside down. I told him plenty of times to get down before he fell but he didn’t listen. Everyone tells me I’m the mother of the kids, anyways he did fall and I laughed because I told him so. He got really upset so he went to his mom and stayed with her for the rest of the day. In the playground there was a rocking horse, I’m not sure of the exact name but my cousin and I were both on it. I’m sure by saying you already know it did not end well. My cousin began slipping off the back of the horse and she was grabbing me so she wouldn’t fall. We both fell and I crashed her when we landed. The ground to the playground were like little pebbles so it wasn't the greatest landing.

When it got dark everyone came closer together and we had a nice time telling stories and just laughing. I would have to say this was a great family reunion. This was the first family reunion my family has ever done. It was really exciting because people I hardly see were there and people closest to me were there as well. It was what my great grandmother wanted and we fulfilled her dying wish. It was very hard for all of us when we lost her because she was a big part in everyone’s life. Every time I spent a summer in New York my grandmother and I went to her house to bring her breakfast and coffee. We would help her grocery shop and sometimes just go for fun. It would always put a smile on her face knowing we were there for her every step of the way.

Being older now I have realized family is such a big inspiration in my life. Even through the toughest time we would never push each other away. I’m mostly closest with my mother’s family but I always keep contact with some parts of my father’s family. I will always know that family is most important and I will never let someone down when they need me the most. It breaks my heart when I know someone who doesn’t have family to lean on through the toughest times. Hope fully reading this, it will inspire you to get in touch with family you haven’t heard from or cherish those you are most closest with.


Life is Hard, But I Get By

                                                                                     Octavain A. Davis

                                                                                

                                                                                                                 09/26/17

                                                                                                                 English 2

                                                                                                    Essay Assignment

                                                                          System: Blatant Disrespect

             


I raised my hand in class.

“Yes, Octavian?” Ms. Pahomov called on me.

I waited for the class to get quiet. There was a little bit of talking. When they didn’t get quiet right away, I began to feel so disrespected.

I put my hand back down. “That’s ok.”


Jayden’s hand was also raised as he was the next person to be called on by Ms. Pahomov. He asked,

“Can you include slang in the essay, or naw?”

That was my question! Of course I had to remember that this was a new environment with new inhabitants for me. It wasn’t nearly as horrible as my past experiences which made me take this small issue to heart in the past, when I was extremely shy and much more humble. I would often experience things that no one my age should experience. This included physical destruction, sexual exposure, and horrific attitudes.

As usual, I was considered the weird kid. The one that nobody really knew until speaking with me. This is actually the reason for me making lifelong friends, of course things such as this will always have its cons. Charles, an old classmate of mine, he’s wild, obnoxious, and takes nothing serious. From the day I’ve started school, I would always end up sitting with the wild kid, need it be mentally corrupted or just plain down disrespectful.

“Yo, bro, look,” He said.

I looked down just to see him gripping his penis from the outside of his pants. Mind you, the uniforms were mandatory for school acknowledgement and their pants were sometimes thin. At this time I was extremely humble, shy, and a little afraid of authority. There would be times my teacher wouldn’t know I was there until he saw me eating alone on floors that were absolutely off limits to students. I raised my hand, but wasn’t satisfied with her seeing my handup and still just passing over me so I got her attention the only other way I knew how.

“Ms. Legan!”

She never liked me. She was what you considered a “ghetto” teacher. To this day I wish I had never met Ms. Legan. She plays a small part in why I'm a little angry at most things. I was embarrassed by her sometimes, and trust me, she’s not the only teacher. Literally, she would embarrass me. Mind you, some of the kids are still talking and this was actually my first time getting loud in school as well.

“Who you screaming at!” She said

“Ms. Legan, you need to get him!”

“You better sit down!”

“He’s over there playing with himself!”

“So! You don’t like it, then go tell the principal!”

Confused, I sat back down calling my mother soon after. I could hear the others talking in the background about me. My mom, being the awesome person she is, called up to the school's front office and talked to a few staff  members.

“Yeah baby, I talked to some of the security gua…”

My phone was hung up by two others near me. I was pissed! That's when I sort of let loose and gained a much more bolder, slightly negative attitude. I was able to get my mother back on the phone, but she could hear the anger in my voice.

“Calm down Platinum, don’t let them get to you. If nothing's done, then I'm coming up in that ____ !”

This wasn't the first time my mother had to come up, and more of a sense that we were tired of playing by the rules. We wanted something to be done, and done it was. Turns out my mom didn’t have to come up to the school, there was a security guard in there that knew me very well. He knew I wasn’t trouble, he also knew that Charles was. By him knowing this, he didn’t hesitate not one bit to handle him. I didn't see him for the rest of the day, but the security guard told me that he was taken care of. If I’m correct, I think I remember seeing him in the front office? After many experiences and many observations, the truth is, I lack true friends and I’m very unsure when it comes to happiness. I’m now highly picky with who I call “friend” and who I go places with. I actually have some seniors now that I call “friend,” but this is probably the last year I see them so when you think about it, they’re really just associates! I do believe in making others happy, just because I had bad experiences doesn't mean they should, right?  I do want to take this time to provide you with another event to kind of give you a better idea of how Ms. Legan was. I never went on class trips for your information because I was afraid of three things that would happen. I could get into conflicts with the other students, I could get disrespected to the maximum (this isn’t foreign), and possibly get embarrassed by my teacher. But me being the kind hearted fool I was, I let one of what I thought was a friend persuade me to go. A lot happened during the trip but the real action happens after, the teachers got our attention.

“Almost time to go, get y’all stuff together y’all!” She said.

I got my stuff together and I saw what looked to be our bus. Was it our bus? I don’t remember, but what I do remember is her jumping in front of me.

“Where ya going! Where ya going! You better back up!”

I backed up, but of course I had a confused look on my face. She saw that and I guess thought that was the perfect opportunity to strike. She moved her face as close as four inches to mine.

“What ya gonna do, huh! What ya gonna do?! You ain’t nothing special, you better back up! Hmm, what you think this is.”

This was one of the many times I felt a little streak of negativity retaliation and violence in me, but this time it was here to stay. I’m so glad I had self control, because believe it or not, I was really considering getting disrespectful and possibly physical with the women (age 35). Also, she had her two kids and her husband right down the street. So I guess by that being so, I guess she thought she had backup if needed. You know what’s so funny to me though, because I wasn’t like the others in my class I guess, she messed with me a lot. Oh! Did I mention her and Charles were close, she loved him. Why!? Because in her eyes he was funny! I guess you could say in her class it's bad to have your own mind, but now I’m in SLA. Yeah there are others that call me weird, but it’s to the point now I just…

I guess you can say I'm used to it, not to mention now I actually do act a bit weird. But it makes others day much brighter than mine, laughter is always needed and luckily I'm able to provide just that.


Destined to Dance

If we were born able to stand up, I would have been dancing from birth. It's something about the bass in music that makes me just want to move and the rhythm in songs that make it flow. It's effortless... It just happens. There's also that part of me that believes it's in my blood, having so many family members that dance. My father is strictly Hip-Hop, and my mom moves to whatever gets her up. And great grandfather was  a professional ballet dancer.

I remember the first dance book I signed out of the school library in first grade. It might have been the pink tutus that drew me in or how beautiful the pictures in the book looked. I just knew that I wanted to be a ballerina. When I got home that night with my new book, i told my mom,

“Mommy I think I want to be a ballerina.”

“That's great.” she responded. “Did you know that I took ballet classes when I was younger?”

“Really? You never told me!”

“Yeah, but I don't think that you will like ballet classes Rasa. the teachers are really strict. I hated dance classes.”

Even Though my mom suggested that I shouldn't take ballet classes, It was really her way of saying she wasn't going to let me.

I will always remember the day, I was at my grandmother's and my mom called with “Good News.”

“Hey Rasa do you still want to take dance classes?” she asked

“Of course I do mommy!”

“Ok, it’s a summer camp that goes on throughout the summer and you can start on Monday. The only thing is, they started a week ago.”

I was thrilled to start dance classes, but nervous because I was going to be a week behind the other dancers. The weekend flew by and on sunday my bags were packed to come home.

Monday morning came and I was up extra early eager to get ready and go. I was unsure of what to wear. So I packed some black and nude tights and my black high top converse. After breakfast my mom, dad, and I got in the car to go to the dance “The Pointe Dance Studio.” My heart started pounding as we walked up the stairs to the office. We signed in and were shortly helped. The lady at the desk asked me if I had any dance clothes. I showed her my tights and shoes. She told us we had to buy jazz shoes, ballet shoes, and a black leotard. I had no Idea I would need so much for classes.

My mom bought everything I needed for classes and left. I quickly went to the bathroom and got changed. I felt to naked in my new dance clothes. The lady at the front desk told me to go straight to the back for my first class. My first class was jazz. I thought I was nervous before, but my heart was pounding and I was shaking when I was introduced to the teacher and the class.

Once I was introduced to the teacher, she told the girls to do the dance from the top. The song was a remix of “bust your windows” by Jazmine Sullivan. I couldn't believe that I was about to learn the dance that they did. I was speechless.  There was so much movement and sass, From head rolls and snaps to chassés and jazz runs. I wanted to get right to it. After jazz I had ballet, hip-hop and modern. I knew that this was the missing piece to my puzzle. Dance became my everything.

Right now i've been dancing for almost 4 years and will be interning at a hip-hop dance studio. This is only the start. Dance has become my second nature. From the way i walk to when i'm just talking to someone, I can't stop myself from doing small movements. Dance came in my life and sure isn't leaving anytime soon.


Sheltered Me

“Do you like Marilyn Manson?”

“Yeah I love her.”

If you don’t understand why that’s funny, I should explain that Marilyn Manson is a man, but christian sheltered me didn’t know that. I grew up very religion centered. I never listened to any music except christian music, I also went to private school. I prayed before I went to bed, I was a good christian girl, and I was very good at making friends. So when I transferred from private to public school, I was a deer in headlights. I had no clue how to be cool in this new environment. The first few years of adjusting  were tough, but, I got the hang of faking it when it came to pop culture. That's why the first album I bought on iTunes was Taylor Swift’s Fearless. I was a master at blending in even when I had no clue what I was doing.

When I first transferred in 2nd grade there was a lot of crying involved. All the kids were faster than me and they all seemed to be smarter than me. Once I was caught starting my test early because I was tired of always being the last one who finished. At my old school,  I was one of the smartest kids but here I was a little slower. A fact I refused to accept. I got caught with the test and the student teacher grabbed me and brought me up to my sister’s class. I was balling my eyes out. I wasn’t cheating I just wanted to finish with the other kids. I only did the section with vocabulary in it. They were all things I knew I just couldn’t keep up because the other kids would finish so fast. I already didn’t have any friends yet the least I could have was being smart.

By 4th grade, I had regained my title as one of the smartest kids in school  and caught up with the other kids but then came the factor of friends. Everyone would talk about music I didn’t know and people I’d never heard of. By this time, my family had stopped going to church all together, so I didn’t have my church friends and I didn’t have any friends at school either. I started just flat out lying when it came to pop culture.

“Jade, you read Harry Potter, right?”

To which my answer would be yes. Even though at church they would say Harry Potter was evil. A fact I would learn was not true at all. It was exhausting trying to keep up but when I finally did make a friend all they cared about was school, which I could get behind since it was one thing I truly did know about.

In 5th grade I was back to my old habits. When the friend that only cared about school, Hannah, introduced me to her friend Leviana. Leviana was funny and cool, so I just followed her lead. If Leviana liked something, I liked that thing.

“Do you like Marilyn Manson?”

“Yeah I love her,” I’d say

I just wanted to fit in. Being exceptional wasn’t the goal anymore. If I could just blend in that would be perfect. I started stealing personality traits so I was just a carbon copy of everyone else.

By 8th grade I had friends and I’d given up on being anyone but Jade. It wasn’t worth the effort, but since I’d been trying to be someone else for so long I didn’t even understand who I was anymore. I wasn’t the little christian girl that cried when things didn’t go her way. I wasn’t someone that was just part of the crowd. I just stopped caring all together. My grades suffered because I was scared of moving forward. I suffered because my grades suffered. My parents were angry. I finally started looking out for myself again by the end of the year . By then it was too late for my grades, but not too late for me.

I still don’t go to church, I don’t pray before I go to bed, and it's been 10 years since I set foot in a private school. I don’t listen to the music other people listen to the music I want to listen to. I don’t lie when people ask me about thing I don’t know.  If someone asks me if I like Marylin Manson I’ll tell the truth.


Sheltered Me

“Do you like Marilyn Manson?”

“Yeah I love her.”

If you don’t understand why that’s funny, I should explain that Marilyn Manson is a man, but christian sheltered me didn’t know that. I grew up very religion centered. I never listened to any music except christian music, I also went to private school. I prayed before I went to bed, I was a good christian girl, and I was very good at making friends. So when I transferred from private to public school, I was a deer in headlights. I had no clue how to be cool in this new environment. The first few years of adjusting  were tough, but, I got the hang of faking it when it came to pop culture. That's why the first album I bought on iTunes was Taylor Swift’s Fearless. I was a master at blending in even when I had no clue what I was doing.

When I first transferred in 2nd grade there was a lot of crying involved. All the kids were faster than me and they all seemed to be smarter than me. Once I was caught starting my test early because I was tired of always being the last one who finished. At my old school,  I was one of the smartest kids but here I was a little slower. A fact I refused to accept. I got caught with the test and the student teacher grabbed me and brought me up to my sister’s class. I was balling my eyes out. I wasn’t cheating I just wanted to finish with the other kids. I only did the section with vocabulary in it. They were all things I knew I just couldn’t keep up because the other kids would finish so fast. I already didn’t have any friends yet the least I could have was being smart.

By 4th grade, I had regained my title as one of the smartest kids in school  and caught up with the other kids but then came the factor of friends. Everyone would talk about music I didn’t know and people I’d never heard of. By this time, my family had stopped going to church all together, so I didn’t have my church friends and I didn’t have any friends at school either. I started just flat out lying when it came to pop culture.

“Jade, you read Harry Potter, right?”

To which my answer would be yes. Even though at church they would say Harry Potter was evil. A fact I would learn was not true at all. It was exhausting trying to keep up but when I finally did make a friend all they cared about was school, which I could get behind since it was one thing I truly did know about.

In 5th grade I was back to my old habits. When the friend that only cared about school, Hannah, introduced me to her friend Leviana. Leviana was funny and cool, so I just followed her lead. If Leviana liked something, I liked that thing.

“Do you like Marilyn Manson?”

“Yeah I love her,” I’d say

I just wanted to fit in. Being exceptional wasn’t the goal anymore. If I could just blend in that would be perfect. I started stealing personality traits so I was just a carbon copy of everyone else.

By 8th grade I had friends and I’d given up on being anyone but Jade. It wasn’t worth the effort, but since I’d been trying to be someone else for so long I didn’t even understand who I was anymore. I wasn’t the little christian girl that cried when things didn’t go her way. I wasn’t someone that was just part of the crowd. I just stopped caring all together. My grades suffered because I was scared of moving forward. I suffered because my grades suffered. My parents were angry. I finally started looking out for myself again by the end of the year . By then it was too late for my grades, but not too late for me.

I still don’t go to church, I don’t pray before I go to bed, and it's been 10 years since I set foot in a private school. I don’t listen to the music other people listen to the music I want to listen to. I don’t lie when people ask me about thing I don’t know.  If someone asks me if I like Marylin Manson I’ll tell the truth.


The Life I Chose

Sometimes, I have conversations with myself. “My life is really a mess. I’m just a puddle on the sidewalk on a rainy day, constantly stepped on by strangers. I’m just waiting for the sun to finally dry me up so it can all go away.” I’ve also thought, “I am nothing without faith,” a phrase repeated in my head from time to time. I slowly try to fix my mindset, persuading myself that what I believe in will carry me on in the long run. Finally, I’m convinced that my faith, my religion, and beliefs are what hold me together to pursue on to the next day. I’m a christian.

It’s sunday morning, the day of worship for our family. “Wake up your sisters and tell them to eat breakfast, we’re leaving in 45 minutes.”

My biggest struggle every morning was walking up those fifteen steps, taking a right and pushing my sisters door open. “Time to get up,” I scream.

“Huh wha… Okay okay.” She responded.

my sibling are all waiting downstairs for me. Whenever I asked my dad, “Why do we leave for church at 8 am every Sunday?” He’d always answer with the same response.

“Because God wants you to.” I failed to realize that if I were serious about practicing Christianity, I have to commit my entire life.

Once we reached the church, my family stepped out of the big, white van, and walked inside the building. The doors were wide open. As I walked in, I could hear the laughter and songs. Such a pleasant entrance so early in the morning, or so I thought. This church wasn’t even my original church. We were just visitors trying to explore different options. We finally found a seat in the pews and the service had started. I felt lost and alone in the midst of the worship songs. While it seemed to be like everybody was happy, the energy around me was odd. I looked around and noticed I was the only one without a smile on my face. I had questioned myself for the second time that day. What do I really gain out of coming here everyday? This was the life I chose so I had to live with it.

There was an instance, at my church outreach that I was confused to how my Pastor expected me to approach people and bring them to church. “So you’re just gonna give them a cookie then some lemonade and that will give you a chance to talk to them,” I said out of curiosity and confusion.

“Well yeah, the cookies and lemonade are to show how grateful we are to have new people in our church, but if I can get the chance to shake their hand and just tell them about the bible, that’s all that really needs to be down. Now I can’t force them in here yaknow (laughter) but I can encourage them to learn about the word.”

“Can I help?” I said.

“Yeah, you can pass these flyers out and hand out cookies and lemonade to whoever passes by.” He responded with joy. He handed me the flyers gave me a smile then continued handing out cookies and lemonade.

“Why are we giving these out for free,” I said.

“Because that’s what God tells us to do, he doesn’t necessarily say physical objects but he wants us to give and to spread his word. This is how we believe we can do that.” I didn’t really understand. I still thought that a Christian would have to provide gifts to honor God. This was where I realized that this system meant also being a prophet as well. As I got older, the more I realized how complicated this system was. However. growing up being forced to practice this religion made me realize that I wanted to pursue it and commit myself. The scriptures tell me that no matter how complicated it may get, when it’s time, I’ll be just fine.

When you start to live in a Christian way, you automatically take on the weight of spreading the scripture. You need to change your posture, your language, your body language, and your knowledge to determine how many people’s attention you can attract to your topic. Convincing people to change their entire life style is no easy task. The system is different for everyone. Some people follow the scripture in the system to the fullest, some not at all, and some in the middle. For me I believe that this system can be complicated but once you grow up and start to understand you really know how to work you way in it and for me it’s easier to believe. In conclusion, people need to understand that some things don’t just happen. They take time, communication, and dedication to pursue.


Mixed Race & Gender

Since slavery being biracial has always been an issue or in cases beneficial. In slavery if you were biracial they would use the term “mulatto”. For most people is hard from coming from two different world and trying to fit in. It's always one or the other. People think you really can’t enjoy both. Along with being the female sex. Its has been consistently a struggle from years prior to slavery. Women have had plenty to fight for within American history. With that this is where I come in.

Most of my peers are well aware that I am biracial or mixed. But from my appearance plenty of people have thought that I was Puerto Rican. When they do come up to me and ask “What are you mixed with?”. They are in awe when I explain that I am half Jamaican with my other half being African American and Irish. I never go too in depth with everything that I am mixed with just the main portions. What I’ve noticed over  my fifteen years that all biracial people appear to look different. It's always a similarity with this because if you are mixed with the European descent and African American they usually have light eyes with sandy blonde hair. Or if if you are mixed with a Hispanic descent and African American they are usually a couple shades darker and have curly black hair. As for me I’m just a simple brown eyed light skin girl with dark  brown hair.

As someone who surrounds theirself around the African American I’m sometimes perplexed. It’s always I’m too lightskin to be around them. At times you feel isolated from everyone because you just want to be accepted by society. Once you meet someone new its as if they are only seeing you for your hair and skin complexion. Along with being a GIRL. For the women society it has been hard for many years. As a young black girl I have a lot to go through in this day and age. With having to be very mindful of my surroundings. I can’t be worried or stress over any negativity that is brought to me and my follow black girls. From being slaves to being judged but their body figure, black women have consistently had it tough for them. Today in 2017 black women are just loved for their bodies. Not the fact that they are educated and successful in life but their bodies. Social media has showed young girls that having that type of body it is good. Now many young black girls are insecure about that. Luckily for me, I love myself as it is. In relation to the way I dress and  how I keep my hair, I stay true to my culture. Even from walking down the street being a girl is hard because having random men eyeing you down is very uncomfortable.

At this age I am becoming a young woman there are certain expectations for me. Women are suppose to be strong, most are independent like myself. Additionally, I do my best with empowering women. Since I am a feminist. Therefore I feel strongly about the triumph of women. This starts from most of my family being female. As a child child I was influenced by this beautiful and successful women. Admiring that all my life to come figure lots of shame has been past on black women. Though my life I have had plenty shaming because I’m a girl. Like when I try to involve myself with a man-originated sport. Boys would continuously say “You throw like girl”. I get confused because that what I am. However in society that phrase is always taken into offense. As well as women getting paid a smaller salary. It never be like that for females of any age.

Within a few years from now I hope people and their mindsets have changed on people of a mixed race and females as a whole. We shouldn’t be judged by our appearance. Additionally for the women who have influenced me in positive way, I will follow after them. For the people of a mixed race like me, shall continue to be themselves and not pay attention to what anyone thinks.


NEVER GET DOWN

“Mom I have decided on something,”,I said  in a shy voice.

“What is it Keyonne, you can tell me I am your mother.” She replied confidently.

“I want to play football.”

“WHAT! FOOTBALL WHY WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO PLAY THAT GAME!”

“Well it looks like fun. I would not mind getting hit and knocking people down to the ground.”

“Boy I will knock you to the ground right now for saying that.” She roared at me,

Then she calmed down a bit. “Hey what made you want to play football anyway.”

“To me it looks like a lot of fun and I think it will be good exercise.”

“But you did not want to play soccer you can get exercise from that.” She responded.

“I am not too good at running a long distance, so it think I would be bad at it.” I said.

I could tell she really did not want me to play football but it had not come to me why she would not like me playing football.

She asked me again: “ Are you sure you want to play football.”

“Yes,” I replied.   

“Why do you not want me to play.”

“BECAUSE PEOPLE GET HURT REALLY BADLY THEY HAVE CONCUSSION AND OTHER THINGS!” she replied.

“MOM PLEASE!” I said without a care in the world

“I will be fine we have coaches to tell us how to play so that will not happen to us little kids.”

” Well ok then fine I guess you can try it out but if you don't like it then you can always leave and do something else.”

“OK!” I say with the happiest smile on my face the next day I am coming from school and my mom says

“I have found a great football team near the house so you can was to it when I am not home and one of the people I work with sons play for that team to.”  

“OH ok what is the team called,”  I ask in amazement.

“Oaklane Wildcat.”  

“And their first practice is tomorrow and I have all of your football supplies right there”

“ok thanks,” I turn and look in the living room and see a duffel bag full of pades and color red and black cleats with metal spikes and I was so happy because this was my first time doing anything like this I could not wait to go to practice. I woke up and I was SO happy I could not hold in the excitement after school that day I ran back home I was so sweaty that it looked liked I just go finished play a sport.

“I am guessing that you are ready for football then,” my mom said with a smile on her face.

“Yeah let's get going.” I said almost breaking the door down because of how much I wanted to go and play. The ride there I was shaking like I was opening a snapple but for some much longer we finally get there and I was terrified I get out the car and my mom says are

“you ready to go.”

And I nervously walk over to the coach my mom comes up to him and says

“HI I am keyonnes mom.” And the coach says

“HI I am coach Q.” I was so nervous I could barely speak and the coach said.

“so you must be keyonne nice to meet you.” and he shook my hand. And the coach asked me

“what do I know about football.” and I said

“nothing” then the coach said

“OK great let's get started.” after practice I was really tired and I did not want to do it any more because I did not think the team need me and so I told my mom and she said

“OK”

Then she talked to the coach and the coach said that was really good for a beginner he said it looks like he could do this a profession. And then he talked to me and said that you can't give up because something is hard you have to keep fighting for what you and till that day I never gave up on anything I did and I will not start.


Trials and Tribulations

Has your mom ever gotten on your nerves… Like a lot? Well, my mom can be a very annoying at times. All the time that would probably be the be more truthful option for me. She always tries to find ways to be right, no matter the situation but sometimes she’s just trying to enlighten me on things.


For example, last week my mom and I were having in the car having a regular conversation. I was on my phone during the conversation but I was still engaged in the conversation. I was texting a good friend of mine that my mom didn’t know, so she got upset. I was really confused on why she was so upset, because I didn’t think it was that serious.

“I know all of your close friends,” she told me. “You always bring them up in conversation, but how come I don’t know about this one?”

“I didn’t know I had to tell you every time I have a new friend,” I replied.

That only added more fuel to the flame, sadly. Everything I said to her after that was seen as disrespectful or snarky through her eyes. I feel like I can never win with her, even when we just have seemingly insignificant disagreements. There isn’t any enlightenment in this situation, just another loss for me.


One situation where I really did gain wisdom is when we were talking about my ex-girlfriend. That was around my 8th-grade year, so I was most likely 14. I’m not gonna lie, that was the first girl I really cared about; I was usually heartless. I thought that I knew what I was doing, because I was very cocky back then compared to now. My ex and I weren’t on the best terms, and it was easy to tell. My overall mood wasn’t my usual one.

My mom asked me, “what was wrong?,” but I didn’t want to tell her because I don’t like her in my business.  

She caringly told me something I won’t forget: “If she’s making you act like this, it’s most likely not going to last.”

             I didn’t want to listen to her because I thought I knew what love was back then. I still think I know what it is now. Let’s fast forward to the end of the school year. My ex magically disappeared and I didn’t understand why. Long story and a heartbreak later, I began to understand how my mother’s help would’ve prepared me for the disappearance when it happened.


Another thing that I despise about my mom is that she thinks she knows me so well. She’s watched me grow up for 15 years, my entire life, but she doesn’t know what I go through on a day to day basis. This summer we went on a cruise and I was in a terrible mood the whole time. I found myself in the cruise cabin a lot, because I needed people to talk to. So I would call people that could help me with the situation. My mom didn’t like that, because she felt as though I was wasting her money though that wasn’t the case at all. I couldn’t enjoy myself because I knew that I was gonna have to go home and deal with my mistakes.

         My mom said “You’re on a cruise! There are a million things to do, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be enjoying yourself,” in a stern tone and stormed out of the room.

         I realized she was right and I found ways to forget about the situation that made me upset and started to enjoy myself a little more.


Despite all the little disagreements, my mom and I always find the lesson in it sooner or later. My mom has become one of my best friends because I know I can talk to her about anything and she’ll have some insight on the situation to help me get through it. When I was younger, I never wanted to listen because I thought it wasn’t cool to talk to her about my personal relationships or struggles, but she always helps me through everything now. All of our disagreements have made my and my mom’s relationship stronger due to the realization at the end of each one. I realized my mom would never tell me anything to steer me wrong. She only wants to see me succeed in every way possible and she does everything in her power to do so.






You're not worth my time!

Mamadou Samassa

Date:09/28/17

Miss Pohomov


I was enrolling in the French International School of Philadelphia, on the 12th of April, while flowers bloomed with unique colors of blossom purple and velvet red. The bees flew from vine to flower, grasping onto each milliliter of pollen that was flowing in every breath I took. The atmosphere was breezy, spreading a bunch of little particles of mist around me. I made my way to a seat next to an arborvitae, it’s bark an ashy grey and reddish brown, with its twisting shape providing shade. I sat at the table next to the tree, as I prepare to relax my conscience, a young boy with big fist stood up to me, looked me dead in the eye “Allahu Akbar,” he said. Without any empathy, he let a regretful smile slip right through his reddish pink cavity. My attention navigated towards him with an uncontrollable amount of fierceness and exasperation.

“Do you know what that means?”

“No, but it’s what Muslims say before they blow themselves up, killing non-Muslims,” he said.   

I looked at him with confusion. I wanted to ask him if he knew it was mentioned in the holy Quran of Allah(God) by saying, “If you kill one person it is as if you killed all of the mankind, and if you save one life it is as if you have saved all of the mankind.” The redistrict that enters people's minds saying that all Muslims represent groups like Isis, or that mosques are the hotbeds of radicalisation is completely false. Our prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) called this group the worst of the creation, even though he said they recite the Quran. These are people who believe in the Quran and recite the Quran. In the hadith the prophet said, “They call to the book of Allah(God) but they have nothing to do with the book of Allah, they call to the Islamic law, but they have nothing to do with the Islamic law.”

The prophet also said, “Those who fight them are closer to the book of Allah than they are.”

“Yo,” the boy with his Bolton knuckles yells in agony, “I’m talking to you!”

“Yes,” I reply in a gentle tone

“Why are staring at me like that?”

I  went back to my reflecting. Did he know that jihad is interpreted in many ways: waking up for the morning prayer is jihad, and fighting in the path of God is jihad. Muslims only fight when they are provoked, just like how the United States would defend themselves in any crisis. And, we must incline towards peace if any enemy does as well. Look at Syria, Palestine, Jordan, we suppose that we are the civilians and they are the suspects, they look for peace, and the  headlines are saying, “The US has yet again eliminated another leader of Isis, after Isis has just a week ago killed an American reporter.” What makes you think civilians won’t get killed when you decide to drop “The Mother of all bombs?” If I were to utter the smallest atom of Islam it would start creating differences between people from the way they live, speak, act, interact, and the way they simply understand the world.

If it’s not that all Muslims are terrorist, it starts with the destruction of the twin towers. As my deep thoughts started to weaken, all I saw were the Bolton knuckles which deliberately jacked my face up. It was so unexpected.

“What’s your problem,” I could feel every corner of my face heating up like wood burning after hours of intense calefaction.

“That’s what you deserve, you fake Muslim.”

I want to punch him so badly, my body suppressed heat, my heart is beating faster than ever before, but I ask myself, would the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon) use violence as revenge? No, he wouldn’t because he came as a mercy to all of  humanity, and I must follow in his path as well as the path of Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Zacharia, Yusuf(peace be upon them all) and many more. All prophets of the one and only Allah(God). The prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) suffered so much during his lifetime. He lost his children, people tried killing him more than once, he was an orphan, and yet after all of these trials and many more, he had  kindness, forgiveness. He treated his enemies with more respect than his own people. So, who am I to hurt this kid? I stood up and looked at him, gave him a smile.

“Why are you smiling, did you hear what I said, fake Muslim!”

I started walking away, “Hey, I’m talking to you. Hey! You walking away because you scared.”

“You're not worth my time.”


What Is Religion?

“Why do I have to go to the masjid? people don't care about us Muslims. Things are hard these days.”

I knew once I stated what I just said to my parents, I would get right into trouble. I tried to explain to my parents why I thought that way, but they did not want to hear it.

"You are Muslim Adil!!!" my Mom yelled at me.“There is no reason why you should second guess your religion Religion is something that keeps you in  Place.”

She told me that sometimes people in the world are going to dislike things that the person believed in or maybe even represent. My mom is a religious type, she always wants to tell me what God Said and why I should always take time and read the Quran about 1 hour a day.  She started reciting  Surah Al - Kafirun This Surah was very powerful  I knew the reason why she resided this world to me it was because she wanted my eyes to open why and for the words that she's singing to touch my heart. “قل "يا كفار، أنا لا العبادة ما تعبد ولا أنت المصلين ما عبادة.ولن أكون عبادة لما تعبده. كما أنك لن” تكون عبادة ما لي هو ديني.”( Say, "O disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship. Nor are you worshippers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.")

        I knew this was very important because she would never use this deep of Surah.  I was just staring At her, listening to every single word she was saying. I didn't know what to say or what to do. I could tell that she knew I was scared and confused because of the way the world treats us Muslims. She said that there is no reason why I should hide my religion and I should be proud of why I am Muslims, but she does not understand how many terrorist attacks were blamed on us Muslims.


         I went upstairs to go take off my hot blouse/over garment because I honestly did not feel like going to the masjid, but I knew deep down that I was making a really bad mistake. All I kept thinking about it if people don't like Muslims, why do I have to be proud of being one. We are blamed for everything.  We have censured "The assailants were Islamic psychological oppressors from Saudi Arabia and a few other Middle Eastern Countries. Supposedly financed by the al-Qaeda fear monger association of Saudi outlaw Osama container Loaded, they were professedly acting in striking back for America's help of Israel, its contribution in the Persian Inlet War and its proceeded with military nearness in the Center East". We Muslims are blamed for a lot of stuff and I'm still supposed to be proud of being Muslim

“.تعال هنا الآن ” ( Come here now!) My Mom shouted, I knew that she was going to try and persuade me to come with her, but this time I was really serious. I started to listen all she was saying was Islam means peace, so why should I be scared to let people know I was Muslim? I told her some serious current events that had occurred during the past few years, and they all were blamed on us. I tried not to shout because I knew that if my dad heard me yelling, he would come straight downstairs to confront me.




       “Did you not understand anything that I just told you” my mom has shouted,  she does not really speak very good English, so she usually tends to use Arabic if she wants to chew me out. “I did understand what you said”,  “I just really did not care about what you said”.  I know that I was out of line for saying that, I don't mean to be mean to my mom, but sometimes I feel as though that's the only way she'll understand how I really feel. I overheard my father coming down the steps, the stairs were squeaking like an old stairway my heart was pumping faster than you can ever imagine. We were already late to the Masjid,  and if he would have seen me with my blouse off there would have been bigger problems. I knew that there were problems from the start because whenever my dad is upset about something he usually makes a disgusted face and pretends to look away when he's actually looking straight into your eyes.  Adil “what's all the yelling about”  my dad shouted. “Now we are already late to the Masjid, and to be honest, I don't even think I really want to go anymore”.  

           I started to speak, but I know it wasn't my turn to speak, my voice cracks, saying “she wants me to go to the Masjid, she wants me to tell everybody I'm Muslim, she wants me to do this you want me to do that”. I was talking faster than my heart was pumping.  sweat was coming down my face,  I stop talking for about 10 seconds, realizing that the more I talk the more trouble I will get myself into. My dad looked at me as if I was stupid, he quietly said “man this is stupid see now kids back in my day knew they could not talk to their parents the way that you are talking to them now.

“If a joker talks to his parents like that his father would smack him beside the head”. “See now you got it easy” My dad said,  what it is is your mom treat you like her baby even though you damn near 15 years old she still sees you as a 3-year-old. My mom always hated when he said that,  it's not that she treats me like a baby It's that she wants me to be happy. I started to doze off daydreaming about things that I found interesting about,  pretending that I'm listening but I'm really not.  I seen my dad mouth move over and over again, I knew that he was angry but I just did not want to hear anything he had to say.



         I'm not sure he had noticed that I was not paying attention because I saw his mouth stop moving.  he took a deep breath and said: “what does religion mean to you”? I stared at him confused because 90% of me was still daydreaming.  then he shouted again what does religion mean to you!?  I jumped it's like the words or trying to come out my mouth before I had a chance to open my mouth.  religion means something someone believes in.  “it means something or someone that they worship”. so now what was that hard to say? My dad asks. “I don't know”?  doesn't look right I reply, “you don't know”?  my dad asks that ask, That's the thing Kids these days never know.



   “Why is that PlayStation of yours so important”? Why is that laptop of yours so important, why is basketball so important? He just kept asking questions that I knew the answers to but did not want to say. You're right I announced, religion is something that you should be proud of not disappointed or Ashamed in. I apologized to my parents because I knew I was in the wrong. I want to help people that are just like me, afraid or ashamed who they really are, but at the end of the day, everyone's the same in a way.








The Big Break

It was a cool and sunny day in the city of Philadelphia. The month that was November 2011 and I was a 4th grader coming back from gym class My teacher had taken me, and my friends to the bathroom and my friends and I were in the bathroom playing around. We weren't supposed to be doing that.

Then we started to pick each other up and throw one another. Suddenly, one of my classmates picked me up when I wasn’t paying attention and they had thrown me. When he did it made a loud bang, I hit the ground extremely hard and I suddenly started crying because my right knee had hit the ground so hard.

So, everyone went to go get our teacher. She came out towards the bathroom.

“What happened?”

My classmates told her. So she took me to my nurse and I had told the nurse what happened, why I was there. The nurse had given me an ice pack and kept me in her office with her. Next, we had to call my mom and tell her what happened and she told me to get on the bus and come straight home. When school was out I had got on the school bus and went straight home with my sister Kyianna.  

Around 5:00 pm my mom came home and I told her that my knee hurts every time I'd walk or move. My mom had to take me up to Abington  Hospital because that is where I  got my x-rays taken.

I was very anxious, and terrified because when I went into the room to get my x-ray done they had told my mom that she couldn’t come in.

“I’ll be waiting right here for you” My mom said. “Ok” I said. So, when we had returned to the room me and my mom started to joke around and take pictures.

Later on, my doctor finally came into the room and said the bad news to us. He said that I have a fractured knee and that I couldn’t dance, or do physical things anymore. I started to cry hard right away because my mom said that I might not be able to dance in the Thanksgiving day parade.  I was really sad/ upset because everytime that I had gone up to dance practice I had to sit and watch them and I was hopelessly upset cause I couldn’t dance. They had put my knee in an Ace bandage and gave me crutches. I had walked out the hospital sad and devastated, when we got home my mom, I  told my dad and my two older sisters what the doctor had said. I was letting my knee heal faster because I never gave up and pushed through it and my knee wasn’t 100% heal it was basically like 90% healed halfway. I managed to dance in the parade and I was really happy, satisfied.

As the years went by I was downstairs on the couch watch tv in the living room and I notice that my x-rays were in the corner. I was looking at my dad “dad can we look at my x-rays,”I asked. “Yes we can go get them,” dad replied. As we open up it up and put it against the light my dad pointed out where I had fractured my knee. When I saw it, I couldn’t believe it. “This is why I am the person I am today a stronger hard working person” I said to myself. This made me think of the three words my parents always told me. The three words are to never give up on any obstacle/challenge that is in my way. So the lesson that I had taken from this was to never give up even when a hard and painful challenge is in your way or blocking you from your dreams.  Still here and there I feel pain in my knee but not as much before. I am always willing to share this story to people so they can be amazed by how I became the person that I am today. When my friends are in the hospital. “Don’t worry because you will come back stronger than ever.”I tell them.


Weekend Raid

It was Saturday morning and today was a good day for me. It was 8:30 AM EST and in 3 and a half hours I was supposed to be ready for an invite to a raid (end game event).

To those who think I waste my time playing video games that’s not the case. I only complete raids once, then that’s the end of me doing that raid. I only do the weekly activities, then there’s nothing else for me to do until next reset day (Tuesday).

I got out of bed, went to the bathroom to pee. I washed my hands then left after drying them. It was 10:30 when I got on the PS4, after I ate breakfast. I went upstairs and grabbed my headset from my room. I had nothing to do on my characters as I already have done the weekly events then I remembered about Xur. Xur is a weekly vender that shows up on Friday and stays until the weekly reset. This week he was on Io (a moon of Jupiter) so I went there and went to the fast travel (a quick teleport to a location) that was closest to him.

When I found him he was selling Vigilance Wing as the exotic weapon being sold but his exotic gear is what caught my eye. For the Hunter (One of the 3 playable classes) he was selling the Orpheus Rig. I was in awe at the timing of it. The Orpheus Rig was the one exotic boots you needed for a NightStalker (One of the 3 ability trees depending on class) as they give you extra super energy (Ultimate energy) for all tethered (suppressed and increased damage from players) targets by your tether. After buying them I infused them with my Stomp-EE5 (a pair of boots) as I didn’t need it for anything. I just went on doing strikes (multiplayer activity) and public events (an activity when in a explorable location) for faction tokens for the faction rally (a monthly event) for an hour and 15 minutes. I went to the tower to decrypt engrams I had and went through my gear before I got an invite. Minutes after going through my entire weaponry I got the invite. I plugged my headset in, put it on and went to join the party.

“Hey how’s it going?” I asked signifying them I was on.

“Oh you know doing what we always do, lead people to victory.” Josh said as he was a co-sherpa (Sherpas are in a subreddit and help those who want to learn the raids of Destiny) for the raid.

“Ok all were waiting on is Tek then we can begin.” Marvin said wondering where Tek was. “Also join up on us when you’re ready while we’re waiting for Tek.” Josh said.

“I'm all set, got my Merciless (an exotic fusion rifle) ready to go.” I said clicking join session to join the fire team.

After a minute or two Tek joined in and we were off to the Leviathan (Location of raid).

“Ok everyone if you follow me we’ll be going through a short cut to our first encounter.” Marvin said as we saw his and Josh’s characters start moving to a hidden tunnel to our right.

As we followed them, we were lead to a forest like area full of enemies and some lights shining on high rocks.

“Ok for this first encounter after we kill all adds (short for enemy) and pick up 2 prisms the WarBeasts (dog like enemies) will spawn in…”(I don’t want to say the entire encounter) Marvin said explaining what was going to happen and where we need to go.

“Does everyone know where they’re going once we begin damage phases?” Marvin asked just to make sure we knew what to do as we all responded with a yes.

“Also make sure you don’t use your supers until we say so.” Josh said adding onto what Marvin asked us.

We started the encounter and we were already prepared with our 4 spores and 2 prisms in hand. After 3 minutes of gathering damage buffs from glowing flowers it was time to damage.

“Alright drop your spores and get to your flowers!” Marvin said as we ran to our respected flowers and with full powered Merciless’ we killed all the WarBeast fast.”

“Ok that was pretty good so before we head to the next encounter were going to take a 5 minute break before we start.” Marvin said as we heard the thud of him lightly putting down his headset. I was already pumped for the next encounter I played my favorite emote (A action you can play/change with a press of a button).


The Levels of Loyalty

It was August 25, 2015. A memory that will live in my mind forever. I woke up that morning from a deep sweat, because I was drowning in my dream. As I sat on the side of my bed to recollect, my father called me down stairs. I stepped down from my bed slowly because I was weary, and I started to walk down the stairs.

¨Just get washed and dressed, we have to go file some papers,” My dad said as I nodded my head. I went upstairs to pick out some clothes. I threw on some sweatpants and a hoodie because I wanted to dress comfortably for the muggy weather. As I was walking down the steps, I caught a glance of myself in the bathroom mirror. I stopped, stared in the mirror and said,

¨You are going to have a wonderful day,” I had to remind myself to have a positive mindset every day because I was being stalked and harassed by people who lived around me. My father and I got into our big, old, sturdy jeep and drove downtown to file some papers. We made a criminal complaint against the family around the corner which only resulted in us going to court a few times without the problem going away. Since court didn’t work, our last step was trying to get a restraining order. Unfortunately, we were having troubles filing the restraining order, so we just let God take manners into his own hands.

We left downtown and we went home only to find out that our cousins were staying over for a while. My cousins were hungry so they told me to run to the store for them to get them something to eat.

When I was walking past the park to go to the store, I saw the family who was stalking me. All three of the sisters followed me until I arrived at the store. When I purchased my cousins food, I walked back home, but this time, cautiously just incase the three sisters appeared again and wanted some trouble. I walked past the park, and the three sisters were standing at the gate, staring in my face taunting me. Evidently, the three sisters had a problem with me not caring and went back home to tell their family. An hour or so had passed and my family and I were sitting on the steps. We saw my aunt go around the corner a few times and the three sisters plus the oldest sister came around just moments after my aunt returned.

We were all dumbfounded because we wanted to know why our family was communicating with people who didn’t like us. Before I knew it, 15 people came around one corner of my block, and 16 came from the other. They approached me and asked if I had a problem with their ¨Family¨. I said no and then some girl hit me with a cheapshot from behind. In less than 5 seconds, I blacked out and started banging that girl head into something hard while I was getting hit by 5 other females. I got away from those girls and I saw my brother, who was in the Police Academy at the time, getting jumped by 6 men. I wasn’t going to let my brother get jumped, so I jumped in there with them. Somehow, I pulled off one of the men and held him against the wall. I had recognized him.

¨You don’t have to do this.¨ I said to him.

¨Fuck you lil’ girl,¨ He replied as he threw me into the street. I fell on my head and looked around because I felt like my world was falling apart. I saw my brother getting jumped, my mom trying to help my brother, my dad and uncle hitting people with chairs, my other brother fighting off people with sticks, and a very sketchy face with whom I identified as my aunt, just standing there not helping us at all. No loyalty. I felt like I was drowning, only this time, I wasn’t in water. Eventually, I snapped back into reality and started fighting anyone and everyone. I ran in the house to get a knife and when I came back, everything was frozen, still, and silent. The fight was over and nothing could be heard except for the sound of police sirens coming our way. Could this be police coming to help us? No! Apparently, the family who jumped us called the police and said that we harassed them. The police believed them which does not make sense because they were on our property!

Charges were pressed and since then, I have been in a deep depression. I learned that you cannot trust people, not even your own family because at one point, we were all close. That situation affected how I love and how I trust, and it shaped me into the person I am today.


Small in Size but Big in Spirit


“All right, All Right!! It’s game time boys you ready!!?” said the captain.

“YEEEAAAH!!!!” The team screamed back.

“ That’s what I want to here! Arlight Cosmos let’s get this dub. Cosmos on 3 Cosmos on 3. 1! 2! 3!”

“COSMOS!”

It’s a cloudy day, a little chilly but not too cold. Perfect weather for soccer. Today we were playing a team called Lighthouse. I play for the Cheltenham Cosmos. As a new player I didn’t get a lot of play time so when I got in I played my best. Aside from personal skills I have a serious height disadvantage. I am only 4’9 so I am really short compared to other kids my age. Despite all this I get up and work hard to earn my spot on the team.

“Jayden! Get ya ass over here!” The coach said.

“Yes coach” I replied anxiously.

“I’m putting you on left mid Will needs a break. Can you play that today?”

“Yes coach”

“That’s what I like to hear. Keep ya head in the game, now go warm up.”

I got excited, finally a chance to play. I got subbed in and the second I went in I was running back and forth to the ball. And back and forth and back then back then forth. In 7 minutes of me on the field I only touched the ball twice and when I got it I had to pass it right away.after 10 minutes coach subs me out and tells me I did good. This made me feel good cause now I have served my purpose, now I am worth something to this team. When I got back the team that was on bench all congratulated me and said I did. I was happy but I was thinking to myself, what did I do on the field to deserve so much praise? All I did was pass the ball. Halftime came and we were up,5 to 2. Coach says the score doesn’t matter that it’s always 0 to 0 during the entire game. We gotta play like it's Golden Goal. First Goal wins.

“We’re doing good boys keep up the intensity. Same line up but Jayden I want you up top. Your speed will creep on them and by the time they realize you’re there you gonna be gone. Put balls on net got it?” said the Coach

“Yes coach!” I said nervously

I usually play mid or defensive back but forward? That’s a whole other level, but I can’t let coach down so I gotta play my hardest. The half starts from the grip I’m already touching the ball way more. In 5 minutes I already had two shots on net. The goalie saved both of them but still, I’m doing good. Now here’s where I shine the other team has subbed out 3 kids on their defense. All of them are strong but not faster or more physical than me. I made a few good runs but I haven’t really done anything significant. During this one play, there was this one player who wasn’t paying me any attention.

“Ayo Brad watch 35 he’s on ya back.” said a player from the sideline.

“Yo don't worry about short stuff over there, focus on 13!" the player responded.

So you  know this where the player from the other team messed up because I now am motivated to score because he thinks I’m not gonna do anything so now I gotta prove him wrong. The other team shoots the ball at our net and our goalie saved it.The ball gets punted up field and since the guy was so far away from me I just darted for it. One thing the player didn't know was that even though I'm short, i’m very fast and the player couldn't catch me. I ran so fast that I got the ball and put it the top right corner.

"Yeah don't focus on short stuff worry about the other boul" I said to the player as walked back to my position.The player had the funniest look on his face. Coach was so proud of me and I was happy. I finally proved myself.

All this happened four years ago. Today I am 16 and still playing soccer along with the new sport called Ultimate Frisbee. Soccer taught me that size should never matter. Every sport is strictly intellectual, it’s all in ya head. It’s not enough just to have skills and athletic abilities, you must have a drive and the will to keep pushing and fight for what you want.

Since that day I’ve carried that and always told myself to never give up. By the I’m still short, I’m only 5’3 now. So I know that I can do anything you put your mind to.


"We Write Life"

I never expected to be a true poet in high school. But once I came to SLA, Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement lured me in like a neon sign hanging above my head that beckoned, “this is where your destiny lies.”

After writing a group poem for a month, I edited, memorized, and practiced performance repeatedly, until my first real slam arrived. When I stepped on stage, I was a nervous wreck. My fingers shook, I kept wiping my hands on my jeans, and I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. Instead, I looked out to a crowd of blurred faces.

“Wait for quiet!” Mr. Kay said.

Each person on stage introduced themselves to the crowd. Then we tipped our heads down, and locked hands. My teammates slowly slipped their hands out from my grasp to signify that they were ready. All I had to do was take the unifying breath. I placed my lips before the microphone and inhaled. We all exhaled. Then our words came tumbling from our mouths, crashing and falling into the air.

I can still remember the faces of poets in the audience; the applause, snapping, and laughter at lines we wrote. All eyes fell on me, and it reminded me of what I wanted to do in life.

In elementary school I loved writing, because it allowed me to have total control of my voice, in an enclosed space. I created stories in my head that were later forgotten. I loved receiving validation, and leaving people hungry for more of my art. My 4th grade teacher imparted some wisdom on me and my mother.

“One of your daughters, or both, are going to be writers.”

She was right. From that moment on I kept the reminder that someone recognized my talent in the back of my head. I wrote poems in middle school, and performed in classroom slams that were mediocre open mikes. I didn’t know exactly what this passion for writing would turn into, but I knew I was headed somewhere.

SLA’s poetry team called to me at the freshman activity fair. I etched my name into the signup sheet, declaring I was becoming a poet. By December, I had already gathered close friendships with poetry members, and was working hard at the craft.

I’d spend endless clubs writing in the empty halls of school, and later finishing poems on the curb of the parking lot, when the building had closed. We’d huddle together next to the dumpster, fishing for ideas and potential lines to write. When we’d come to a lull in the thought process, I’d run around the parking lot and dance, reviving my energy. After we finished the drafting stage, the long editing process began: lines got chopped up, chewed up, and spit out until they were perfect.

During these sessions Mr. Kay always tells us, “I will never let you go on stage without saying something.”

Part of why poetry means so much to me is credited to writers who continue to assure me of my talent. The acceptance and love that poetry club emanates allows me to put my thoughts to paper, and truly be myself. Our poetry t-shirts have an image of a pen touching a heart, which reminds me where all our writing comes from. We all have a story to tell, and luckily we have the opportunity to do such a thing.

PYPM provides a safe, welcoming space for poets to share art. I proudly stand on stage every chance I get, holding in my heart a love for the people that sit before me, with eager ears and eyes.

My last slam meant the most to me, because it was the citywide Championships. Each time I reached an unfamiliar stage, my anxiety increased. I rubbed my jean shorts continuously, with sweaty palms. This was a performing ritual, the wiping away of my nerves. The tips of my fingers vibrated uncontrollably. The dirty, rusted mirror leaning against the wall backstage revealed my face, and that didn’t help. I wasn’t ready for such a looming crowd to hear my words and watch me perform. This was not the small audience I was used to. I put on a facade, but inside my stomach somersaulted out of the theater.

“I’m gonna pee my pants this time, I mean it.” I said this every time I was backstage.

My teammates gathered around me, and I nervously wrung my hands.

“Wait, ready for our chant? 1, 2, 3!”

“BOOCHA!”

We whisper-screamed the inside joke in unison. Background mumbles of daunting words drifted to my ears.

“Coming to the stage right now is S, L, A!”

With my pen in hand, I point onwards to my future with poetry, ready to hack at yet another piece of paper.

The Lesson in a Bowl of Cereal

“No I wanna stay.” my sister cried. I was four years old watching my six year old sister scream and cry because my father was at the door. “It will be okay Maddy. It’s only two days.” my mother said, trying to comfort her. I did not quite understand why she was crying yet, but I soon would, and feel the same exact way she did. My dad was here to pick me and my sister up for the weekend, and Maddy was not happy about it.

I became older and by the time I was six my dad was living in a new apartment with his new girlfriend. I hated her, and I hated being away from my mom. My sister, Maddy and I did not yet have our own room at his place, so we slept together on the floor in his living room on a memory foam pad with a couple couch pillows. I would wake up in the middle of the night crying for my mom, holding on to my sister begging her to bring me home. Eventually my dad would get so frustrated, that he would just drive me and my sister back to my mom’s in the middle of the night. My father wasn’t as comforting and calm as my mother, he never was. As children Maddy and I never understood it.

That same year my dad and his girlfriend decided to buy a house together and get engaged. At first my sister and I were very excited for the new house. We would be spending every other weekend there and have wednesday night dinners with my father. We got our very own room that was painted purple and green. Little did I know, I would have to grow up pretty quickly in that room.

It was one of the first weekends we had spent at my dad’s. A cold saturday morning, the sun was shining through the windows of me and Maddy’s room. I climb down the latter of the silver bunk bed set to find my sister asleep. I walk over and shake her. “Mad wake up.” I say as she turns over. Her tired eyes greet me and she stands up out of bed. “I’m hungry.” she says. “Me too, let’s go get dad up.” We knock on his door, no response. We pull on the handle, and it is locked.

This was the first of many weekends that me and my sister would sit in our room and play pretend for what felt like hours, waiting for our dad to wake up and prepare breakfast for us. This was before we new how to function the DVD player connected to the small TV in our room, so we couldn’t occupy our brains with one of three movies we owned. Before we knew of ways to reach the cabinets in the kitchen to get ourselves breakfast. We sat in our room, playing with the few stuffed animals we had, waiting. I think as children we have all experienced the dread of waiting, but waiting while we were hungry was the absolute worst feeling ever.

One morning, hunger overtook Maddy, and she got tired of waiting. She decided to bring me downstairs with her so we could find our own breakfast. Our small feet walk down the noisy stairs in house into to open living room and kitchen. She grabs her stool from the island in our kitchen and puts in under the cabinet where the cereal is kept. “Stand next to me while I climb and I’ll hand the cereal to you.” she said.  I nod and do as she says. She stands on the stool and grabs the box of Rice Krispies out of the cabinet. She hands them down to me and I reach up to put the box on the counter. We tried using the same method with the gallon of milk, but this was too heavy and Maddy couldn’t lift it.

As insignificant as this small encounter sounds, it taught me a very important lesson in independence. Sometimes, you just need to make your bowl of own cereal. This miniscule moment taught me how to start doing things on my own. If I could get my own breakfast, I could teach myself to do anything. From then on I knew of ways to reach my goals without others help. I now know that there is always a way to achieve something, even if it is just as small is having a bowl of cereal on a cool saturday morning.


Me and Riding Foreign Transportation

¨Dad, what are those?¨ I asked.

¨They are called ¨Bung Bungs,¨ my dad replied, as we crossed the street away from the subway station.

My family and I were in the busy streets of Beijing, China at night. We had just visited one of our immigrated American friends and were on our way back to our apartment building. My dad raised his hand in the air when we reached the curb of the sidewalk. As a little kid with only a few weeks in a foreign country, I had a lot of questions.

¨We're going to ride in one of those things?¨ I said. Then a small, boxy, three-wheeled vehicle enclosed in a dark green tarp pulled up to the side walk. My dad went to the front of the ¨Bung Bung¨ and started talking to the driver in Chinese, telling him the address of our apartment. I stared at the odd vehicle from the sidewalk for a few seconds until my mother beckoned me to get into the back of the Bung Bung. I climbed in through a small rectangular door in the back of the Bung Bung and saw the dimly lit interior. My family and I all crammed in on one seat in a small compartment. Then I started to feel the ¨Bung Bung´s¨ motor come to life from underneath our seat and the vehicle started to move.

¨Why didn't we take a taxi?¨ I raised my voice over the roar of the motor and the wind blowing through the open windows.

¨Because these are cheaper than taxis for going short distances,¨ said my dad. ¨They're also good with getting through places that are too small for cars and taxis.¨ He added.

¨If they are cheaper for going short distances than we should have these in America.¨ I thought. ¨But why don't we?¨ It wouldn't be until I got back to America when my father would tell me that the ¨Bung Bungs¨ were unsafe. He told me that the ¨Bung Bungs¨ were not very protective during crashes because of their non-solid exteriors and lack of seat belts for passengers.

Then I wondered what other exotic vehicles there could be in other countries. I recalled back to when I lived in the United States to try to remember if I had seen any ¨Bung Bungs¨. I remembered from visiting cities that I had seen taxis, although I never ridden in one until I lived in China, but I still did not remember seeing Bung Bungs on the U.S. streets at any time. ¨They may have been in American cities that I have never been to.¨ I thought, but I also argued with the fact that they very might be only in Chinese cities. I pondered this thought up until I fell asleep in my bed, in our apartment.

Bung bungs were not the only way I had seen Chinese people get around Beijing. I had seen merchants and salesmen ride around on bikes, pulling carts of different sizes behind them. In these carts, there were items and products waiting to be sold. Some of the other people used these cart pulling bikes to transport their families through the city. I had seen mothers and fathers on bikes and their children would sit in the carts. Outside of the cities, in more rural areas, I saw carts being pulled by animals from oxen to donkeys. I have also visited Thailand and there some of the people living in the rural places rode on the backs of elephants to get through nearby jungles. I even took an Elephant ride with my family and friends while visiting. Also, in Thailand there is a larger and more open, vehicle that is similar to the ¨Bung Bung¨  called a ¨Tuk Tuk¨.

Now that I am back in the U.S., I have had some time to reflect. In different areas of the world people use different modes of transportation that can be very distinct from somewhere else in the world. However, in the end, transportation is the same everywhere: whether it be taxi or a ¨Bung Bung¨, bicycle or subway, it is still a form of getting around.  People everywhere want to get from ¨point A¨ to ¨point B¨, no matter how different the animal or vehicle that moves them.  My hope is people in America can create a small and affordable vehicle like the ¨Bung Bung¨,  but safer to ride.


All About the Music

My first concert I played at made me the most nervous, anxious I’ve ever been. “All of that practicing, for what?” My teachers would say to get us ready. My friends and I were no older than 13 and we were performing our first concert as a classical orchestra. Ever since then, we were accepted into the orchestra Play On Philly in 5th grade. The teachers would have us practicing two hours after school, everyday. That first concert, so long ago was when I realized I was now part of something big.

When we took the stage at West Catholic high school, I felt nervous. My orchestra was performing for hundreds of parents. I made a lot of musical mistakes that day, but nonetheless, I was proud of myself. Performing in a concert and attending one are two completely different things. I never realized what people went through when they had to give it their all, to impress the crowd. “Show them your worth!” My Viola teacher would say. I’ve played viola for 6 years, nearly every day after school. I wouldn’t say viola isn’t the hardest instrument to play, but it’s more about being consistently good. Being as though it’s a string instrument, it requires a certain mindset where everything has to be perfect. From playing the correct note, following the tempo, remembering scales, and either playing loudly or softly. The viola is like a violin but just a little bigger. I’ve alternated between 3 different teachers, each one was different. My first teacher taught me the basics, but after that she left to go work with a different orchestra. The music system is a competitive one so even teachers have to go their own ways to improve. My third teacher was half strict and half easy going. My second teacher was Ms. Andriana, who I consider a friend. She was the one who elevated my peers and I, to the next level. She really cared for us and made sure we would impress everyone with our skills.

I was now part of the classical music system in Philadelphia. Being apart of this system is surprisingly hard. Once you get involved, there’s a lot of dedication and discipline to insert in with playing instruments. For example,every instrument player was competing with other students and other organizations for a spot in the orchestra. There’s either cooperation or competition between other orchestras. Stores, museums, centers, even government officials give out opportunities to play at their sites, specifically to Play On Philly. The perks of the music system is being able to meet widely known, famous musicians. Being offered scholarships, college tours, and being able to travel the country.

I was in a big system as an small individual. I learned a lot from being in the music system. Being a team was the main part of playing with in an orchestra. It is an experience that is very unique. There has to be chemistry between the player, the conductor, other players, and teachers alike. Everybody either follows their own rhythm or links up with other’s rhythms. Extreme focus and dedication is required otherwise, that person who doesn’t have that will drag down the orchestra. There is always a way to improve, and the conductor will always make the orchestra improve. For that reason, myy feelings toward the music system is both negative and positive.

They work the players hard. I loved that and hated it at the same time. Learning an instrument isn’t easy, as which is what most teachers would imply. That was the main reason why they had us working so hard. I admired their ambition for them to get their students to learn and improve. However, they didn’t take into account that we were just kids. Just transitioning into a competitive system and having us work work nonstop. It’s been 6 years since then. Playing the viola for that long payed off. By the end 8th grade I was nominated for multiple rewards for being best musician. That feeling of appreciation and recognition is none like no other. I was given my last reward in front of hundreds of people. That was when I realized why the teachers pushed us so hard. It was to make us know, kids like my peers and I, young African-Americans could achieve great things. The music system is a hard, competitive one. However, I found a way to be apart of that system and reap the benefits from it. I would not take back those 6 years of hard practice and concerts because I learned dedication can take me to soaring, new heights in life.