The stare

Ever since I was a young girl I perceived I was different than everyone else around me.. People would give me  quirky stares, and although they tried to hide it, I hear them murmur about me.  It used to pain me that people  would  gossip,    often my mother  would speak out  for me , or stand in front of me. In a way I felt safe behind her, as if no harm could come my way. It became an indicator that my mother was my protector.

Throughout the years I   acknowledged  that my physical appearance was dissimilar to others.  . I  accepted being different  from  everyone else. People continued to stare, and they continued to whisper. However, I did not continue to care. . Constantly I felt others deliver me a look of pity. It did not come off as a shameful look but a sympathetic one.  

Last week on saturday I went to the laundromat with my mom. My responsibility was to watch my little sister. We decided to sit at a tiny little picnic table by the front entrance. Later throughout the day this little walked in with his dad. When I looked up from my phone he was staring at me hard. At first I just brushed it off and didn't care. After 5 minutes I looked back up and he was doing the same thing.

Next, the same situation happened in July. To celebrate my little sister's birthday my family went to chuck e. Cheese. I was minding my own business and playing flappy bird. A younger boy walked up to me and asked a very rude question. The question was “ Do you have a disease?. I was livid when he asked me this. My reaction was to just walk away. Throughout my entire life nobody has ever asked me this. Deep inside I was hurt but I did not show my pain. Honestly, there are certain ways to ask questions if a person is curious about something.

As a baby I was diagnosed with congenital microgastria. Doctors also told my mother that I have scoliosis. Due to my condition of scoliosis it caused me to have shorter different arms than everyone else around me. However, a therapist would come and help me maneuver my arms and learn to walk. These two conditions are the reason my arms look the way they do.

Furthermore, there have been times when people admired how I look. For instance a grown man apprised me that I was a inspiration. My response to him was “ Thank you”. People are often surprised that I do the daily things in life like: go to school, ride the bus, play games, and etc. If nothing else I am not ashamed of how my arms look. Often times I hear people murmur ‘’ she’s handicapped or disabled.

Honestly, I am astonished that people can stare or gossip about you and not care. When I am home alone, I think about what people say about me and how affects me. It is sad to say but even my mom underestimates me from time to time. Everyday I perceive like I am fighting to fit in with everyone else. Worrying about what someone murmurs about me

has become emotionally tiring. Time and time again I have to figure out why people feel the need to talk about me. To me personally I feel like I belong in the world.


Most people assume that I come from Korea by the way that I look. My hairstyle, skin color, and my makeup makes me look like I’m from Korea, but it’s doesn’t mean that I am. Sometimes people will assume that I was born in America because I can speak English. Sometimes, I don't feel like correcting the people that are making assumptions because there are so many people that just come up to me and assume they know everything about me by the way I look or the way I act.

This story all began this past summer. I was hanging out with my friends at the park near my house and a beautiful woman that was fashionably dressed who came up to me, started to talk to me and asked me questions about myself. The first question she asked me was, “Are you from Korea? OMG, I love Korean people, the music of Korea, and the language too, they are so cool!”

I never thought by looking at the way she was dressed that she would be the kind of person to make an assumption about other people until she started talking.  I said to myself  “I have no idea why she thinks that I came from Korea.” So I looked at her and responded “Nah, I’m not from Korea, but yeah, I think the music and everything in Korea is really cool too…!”

     I wanna to tell her that I came from Vietnam, but she was talking so much ,she just stopped me and continued to assume and went on to say, “Wow, so you’re not Korean, should I believe that?" She laughed "So, you’re born in America right?"

I took a few seconds to think and there were tons of questions coming up in my mind: " Really? Why are you laughing, I don’t think is funny? Or do I really look like I was born in America? Is my accent proving that I was born in America? Come on people!" Then I said, " No, I was born in Vietnam." She thought that I was joking, so she starts to laugh at me. Before I knew it, she turned around, walked away, and I never saw her again.

A few days later, where I was with my friends at the same park, a guy came up to me and said the same exact things that the women did. I was so mad that I didn’t even feel like correcting him. I just don’t understand why people like to assume things that much. And it’s always happening in my life.

Assuming about others is not always a good thing to do. I mean why do people always  have to assume? In my experience, people assuming where I am from just makes me mad. People never think about how others feel in the situations if  it can hurt them or affect them in some way.

For example, if you go up to someone that doesn’t have a perfect family, and you just come up to them and start to assume that they have a perfect family. Then you start talking about how happy is your family compare to people who don’t have it. They will feel bad, and that can bring them down in everything. I mean that by the will get upset, and I think when people getting upset they don’t really can do much things, so that’s mean you just rude in their day, maybe some people will remember it for like their entire life. That’s not good, people want to get a happy life, and they want to be happy even single day.

Some people will think that this problem is not important because they never experienced it or because they don’t really care if somebody might hurt their feelings. Also, if you think that the problem is normal to you, it doesn’t mean that is normal to other people. We are different, people have a different opinions on assumption. So, I think that you shouldn’t use it to other people. If you want them to respect you and not assuming anything on you, then I think you should respect them as much as they do for you.

An Open Letter to the People Who Think Suicide is Selfish

In America, death is something to be afraid of; something to avoid. But my father was not afraid.

In fact, my father spent a lot of his life longing for death. He was sick, and people with mental illness often have this mindset. When he finally died, my head felt like a balloon. Everything was moving fast, and I didn’t feel the same way as my other family members. The funeral was dark but still bubbly. My lightheadedness continued.

“Jon was my best friend.”

“Jon was an angel.”

“It was such a tragedy.”

Their voices still make me grind my teeth. They were so wrong. Just because he was dead, people refuse to take him at face value. This becomes aggravating when they wouldn’t acknowledge his cause of death, or even worse, say that it wasn’t his fault he killed himself. That is what he wanted. He was none of those things and his death was not a tragedy. A tragedy for some of us, but it seemed like his last hope. Thus, he was the one at fault. If someone is so sick, and at a point in their life where they can’t bear to be alive, why can’t it be their decision to leave? Why is death seen as a negative consequence instead of an ending of one's story?

The sky was gray that morning. I was eight years old and I hadn’t seen my grandmother in four years, and I woke up to see her sitting on the edge of my bed talking to my mother. I immediately knew that something was wrong. They were both holding mugs, with two hands, as if it was cold outside. It was only early September. A friend came over to play and I ate sweets for breakfast. When my mother called me upstairs to tell me that my father died,  I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel about it. Even now, I can’t tell you that I knew what the rest of my family was feeling, but I still managed to pretend I felt the same. It wasn’t until a few years later that I came to terms with how I actually felt.

Death should be celebrated as a passing; a completion of someone’s story. While people are busy being selfish over losing someone that never belonged to them, they forget to celebrate the life that person lived and their wisdom. My father was never around when I was little and I was raised solely by my mother. When he was there, he abused my mother and himself. Because my dad was never a father to me, I learned to appreciate those that support me, as well as come to terms with why I was better off without his presence. This gave me insight on my childhood and accepting loss. When he died, I learned more about my family, for better or for worse, and I’m grateful for that.

I understand that a lot of people are suicidal, have mental illness, and self harm. I also understand that there are people that use these things for attention, which cause people who need help to suffer. That is where I find the selfishness, not with the people who actually kill themselves. The people who end up killing themselves often didn’t have access to the help they need. It seems that others that aren’t as high risk take up those opportunities. I understand that a lot of people need help, but I’ve noticed, especially among teenage girls, that many exaggerate mental illness for attention. Take all the help you need, but many should be aware of making space as well.

I am grateful that he took his own life. I would have been more grateful if he had found other options earlier on, but I don’t think that would have changed the impact he had on my life. What other people do doesn't matter to me, as long as they aren’t hurting others or themselves. The pure fact that he was alive was causing him to suffer. He couldn’t afford medication and was at wit’s end. By the time he came to the last straw, I had accepted that I was better off without him in my life anyway. Knowing that his hurt could come to an end was worth more than the pain I would go through as a result of his death. I was willing to take that hit if it meant he could finally be free. Now he is.


The Daughter of Jon Weir

Timothy Williams's Personal Systems Essay

It was a Wednesday morning of Summer 2013. I was extremely tired, yet at the same time I was quite excited. I wasn’t exactly ready for it but I knew that this would be one of the most important days of my life. I rolled out of bed while listening to my “daily morning song”. The aggravating blare of my Timex alarm clock made me roll out of bed and stumble to turn it off. I took a glance at my blurred window. I went into the bathroom to wash up. I came back in my room and put on my Speedos, then my fitted, but slightly loose trunks.

We pulled up to Lee Cultural Center, park, and pool. I had been here many times before but this time it felt very distinct. As I got out of the “soon to be gone” Toyota Sienna my parents finally released the butterflies in my stomach and said bye.

I walked inside the building and my coach, Boston walked past me.

“You ready for today Tim!?”

“You know it!” I yelled back, not exactly knowing if i was or not.

“That’s what I like to hear,” he replied as he hopped over the 3-foot tall wall and entered his makeshift office.

I walked right through the locker room. It felt strange walking through there and not having to change my clothes. I came out on the other side staring at a gate that opened up to the pool. For some reason everything felt I had never been there a day in my life. I kept walking until I reached the pool deck. I took my purple towel out of my bag and spread it on the ground. I wasn’t the only there. Most of my teammates were also there. Amina, Isaiah, Trey, Tryce and Romeo pretty much all towered me as we began with our stretches. Today we did two sets of ten of everything, including burpees, push ups, curls, and leg stretches. After we finished we all slowly walked towards the gate and threw out the lane lines. One after another we all jumped into the freezing cold water. By the time I was in the middle of my third lane line the butterflies came back. I got back out of the pool and got my swim equipment including a kickboard, a pair of webbed swimming gloves, and a pull buoy.

As soon as I got back in the pool Boston was already standing over us on the deck, telling us what drills we were doing today.

“10 kicks, 10 pulls, put it together, then do it all again with you second and third stroke.” Boston told us while trying to keep a moderate temper.

Now, that may sound like a lot to you but we all looked up to him and sighed in relief. That was less than half of what we normally do. We immediately got to work.

After two more hours of drills, swim practice was finally...half way over. We all swam to the opposite side of the pool and unhooked the lane lines. Afterwards my teammates and I got out and put our clothes over our swimwear. We all were hungry but the food that they were giving the camp wasn’t exactly the best thing for us to eat...especially not after swimming over 1,000 meters. We all went to the corner store across the street. We tried to get as much as possible but at the same time keep it somewhat healthy.

When we returned we ate our food and it was pretty much time to get back in the pool.

Today was the day of my first swim meet. I wasn’t really worried. According to my coach I didn’t have much to worry about, the competition that we were going up against wasn’t any real threat.

We changed back into our swimwear, jumped in the pool, hooked up the lane lines and started up our drills again.

We got it over and done with within a matter of minutes. When we finished warming up we all got out and put our equipment away. We all grabbed our bags and towels and went to our spots for the race. We were up against a gate. The way it was set up we had the best view on the pool deck. We were able to see everyone in all of the lanes and whether they won or lost their heat they had to walk past us as if they needed our approval. It felt good to know that half of the other kids there were scared out of their mind, that gave me even more confidence.

I was in the first group of boys to start. I thought that I would start shaking as I walked up to my lane. I was nervous, but not because of the people I was racing, it was because of the people who were watching. The captain of my team was behind me. He told me that all of the other kids here couldn’t even swim half of the pool. After that, I was no more good. A massive jolt of energy and tenacity ran through me. I was officially ready.

As I entered the pool there was nothing that could stop me now. I felt like a horse with blinders.

“Swimmers, on your marks…” the man over the PA system said.

“Get set,.....”

“EEEEEOOOOOOOHHHHHHHNNNN!!!!” the air horn sounded.

I was off. Everything that I ever learned kept circulating in my head. And I promise you, that was the longest minute of my life.

I felt my hand touch the wall and I was eager to get out of the water. My timer told me time. I didn’t know what it meant at the time, but I do now. One minute and twenty six seconds.

I walked back to where my team was, looking confused and at the same time anxious. My teammates were so hype. They told me that I had dusted everyone in my heat.


A year later the preparation was the same but the whole race went totally different. I didn’t even place in my freestyle heat. I also didn’t place in my backstroke heat. That was one of the most upsetting days of my life. I had really tried hard that year too. I knew that I had disappointed my coach, even though he never told me directly. My teammates didn’t know what to say, so they said nothing.

I told my dad that I wanted to quit swimming. He told me that he wasn’t going to let that happen. Instead, he gave me a break, considering how upset I was. He signed me up for a tennis camp that following year. I kinda missed swimming but at the same time it felt good to start something new.

After that year was up, my dad told me that I was going to go back to the swim team/camp. I told him that I didn’t want to go back. He said that he at least wanted me to think about it first. About a week before the camp started I got a letter from the swim camp, asking me to come back. I knew that I would go back to the team. I couldn’t let down my team especially not this time, considering that it would be my second to last year there.

I followed the same exact procedure that morning. Tre, Tryce, Isaiah, and Romeo had all left. There was just me, Aminah, a new kid named Elijah, and one of the swimmers who was top of his division in the younger class two years ago. His name was Vincent. He was only about 10 years old.

The training wasn’t anything difficult for him. I feel like he was used to all of the hard work because there was more expected of him. I never knew how fast he really was. Apparently he had to be pretty dang fast to be moved up a whole division at 10 years old. Now was his time to show off.

My coach introduced us to him. He seemed really confident in himself and his capability, which was a great addition to our team. Other than Aminah, and I the rest of the team was really lifeless and doubtful. That’s not ever good for a team. Not only do you lessen the chances of your potential but sometimes you create dispute for your teammates.

After he introduced himself, and we finished warm ups, we all waited for the other teams to show up. We all took our places on the bench. I watched all of the other races. I tried to trace any patterns and see what made me lose last year. The races were interesting even though still, all of my teammates won all of their heats. It wasn’t until they called my group that my stomach started to clench up.

I started walking to the deck, and I jumped in the water at my lane. This tyme before I took my mark I noticed some of my family on the sidelines. That gave me a “jolt of confidence”. I knew, once I took my mark that I would do good.

“Get set!”

The air horn went off again. I immediately dove under the water. The surge that I felt this time was unlike anything that I’ve ever felt before. I felt like nothing could stop. What I felt was true.  I had beat all of my opponents by almost half the pool. I felt so excited that I don’t even remember what my time was for the event!

After getting my medal for that race I never treated the sport of swimming the same. Even to this day when I look at it, I think about where I would be if I would have given up and not raced. I think about how much it hurt to still go on even when I didn’t feel like it. It’s a life lesson that I will never forget.

Girls Volleyball Beats Masterman!

[Story by Emily Stevens]
After years of being narrowly defeated by our rivals at Masterman High School, the girls volleyball team was determined to take home the win this year. Through acing our serves, stellar defending and passes, spot on sets, and killer hits and spikes, our team was able to go 3-0 winning all three games in a row. By working together as a team and hustling for every ball, we were able to make SLA history and defeat Masterman for the first time in volleyball. This is only the beginning, because our season is currently 5-2 as we add more wins each week. We plan to continue pushing and staying dedicated to keeping an impressive record all in hopes of moving on to the playoffs at the end of October and taking home the AA title in the Gold Division. Don’t forget to support the team at our next home game and be on our journey to the top! Come see us play Kensington Tuesday, October 3rd at Lloyd Hall starting at 3pm! We hope to see you there! Let's go Rockets!

You Don't have to be "Crazy" to Have a Mental Disorder

"I don't **** with you!"

The man next to me's music is blaring from his headphones, making it impossible for me to not hear it, no matter how much I try to block out the profanities and beat. It's as if his widely-spread legs impeding my personal space weren't enough to make me uncomfortable. My body feels too big to fit in this space, and I can’t help think what others think about this. In my mind, I know that no one on this train cares what I look like or act like, as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with them, but I can’t help the nagging in my mind that tells me everything I do is wrong: anxiety.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

The woman in front of me impatiently taps her foot, sighing at her phone. Her purse sits on the seat next to her, making her personal bubble almost inaccessible. She has no relation to me and I shouldn’t be concerned with her at all, but the tapping of her foot might as well be her banging on my head the way that it affects me. The beat isn’t steady and sometimes pauses abruptly. In my head, it should be steady, in counts of four. That’s the OCD in me talking.

When I was younger, I would walk to the bus stop, sometimes nearly missing the bus, because I needed to count my steps. A normal sidewalk block would account for two steps, but some of the bigger ones took four steps. It was always an even number. I’ve always had an obsession with even numbers, but everyone thought it was no big deal. Everything I did had to be an even number; my steps, my breaths, even the amount of time my food was in the microwave had to be even or else I’d be uncomfortable. As I got older, uncomfortable wasn’t the right word for it. The word became anxious, and this nervousness manifested in other ways as well, in a fear of germs as one example. Finally, I decided this was something that I needed to share with my therapist. My mother was convinced I was fine, but my panic attacks suggested otherwise. After a session explaining myself, I remember my therapist’s words: “This sounds like a serious case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.” My heart seemed to skip a beat for a moment, I was finally being heard out.

"I know the train can go faster than this," a little girl in a blue jumper scoffs as the L loudly turns a corner, screeching unbearably for a moment.

Her voice, along with others’ protruding conversations infect my mind on this overly crowded train. Everyone is living their lives, and I feel like I can’t. I still have a few stops to go, and my heart rate is climbing. I think about things I’ve learned to deal with these feelings, when my body and mind feel out of control. I reign myself in, doing breathing exercises and examining the details in my the train ride to ground myself. It barely works in this moment, as I feel claustrophobic. I try to fill my mind with the breathing repetitions of ‘in for 4, hold for 7, out for 8’, as I’ve been advised before, but it feels ineffective.


A book's page turns loudly, and I want to scream. Every noise around me consumes my thoughts, filling my head until it feels as if it's about to explode. I then realize I'm breathing too shallow and shakily, my face is going numb. There are too many people around me, I need to get out.

"Doors are opening."

I rush out of the train, people looking at me like I’m crazy. Despite the humid feeling of Thirteenth Street Station, I take gasping breaths and feel free, feeling returning to my face and my breathing stabilizing. Then I notice the side-eye glances to me of those in the station. I sit down for a moment just to think before going back to my travel. My whole life seems like a series of being judged, be it for my size, my habits and repetitions, or for my nervousness about life in general. Panic attacks have become a part of my life, the feeling of dread filling me to the point where I can’t breathe.

I think about my school life. Growing up, focusing was hard when there was so much around me to provoke unease, the constant sneers and threats throughout elementary school not helping my anxiety. People never seem to notice, is what I’ve learned. People looked at me and saw a quirky child who liked even numbers and didn’t focus well. Now they see a young woman who takes on every club and activity she can. In both scenarios, people don’t see the struggle, the constant battle with my mind to convince myself that I’m sane. They don’t see the tears late at night over what people think, or how high or low my grades are. They see the outward appearance or a young lady that holds herself together well, not the broken pieces held together with what I can only describe as metaphorical duct tape.

At this point in life, I’ve finally found somewhere accepting, somewhere that I feel comfortable opening up about my issues without having to worry about being hurt. I’ve learned how to provide myself with distracts that help more than hurt, to keep myself busy rather than make pain a distraction from anxiety.

So finally, I get up from this bench at Thirteenth and get on my way, facing another day.

A Glimpse of a Troubled Sister

“CALL 911, PAYTON CALL 911…”

immediately I grabbed the phone, shaking with fear. I was hoping I wasn’t too late.

“Is she going to make it, God please help her.”

I stared at my  sister lying on the floor. I knew it was getting bad but I never thought I about losing her, I fought with all my might to stay strong for my mother.

A year earlier, I was fourteen. I had just gotten a job working at a summer camp, being a counselor. My sister was acting really strange. I went into her room to grab my shoes she had borrowed. Then I saw her sitting, staring, her eyes were red and low. I was at a loss. I grabbed my shoes and said “ I’m going to Target, do you need anything?”

It was around 6:00 on a Tuesday, why was she acting so weird. After a long pause of me staring at her she said “nah”.

I went to tell my mom, my mom just sort of tried to change the topic every other word I said. I didn’t know what was going on.

After a long month of odd behavior from my sister, I came home from work to a broken basement window, our chairs on our payment upside down. It almost looked like our house was broken into, I ran in. My mom said “Payt, we have to talk..”

I knew this meant something went wrong. She eyes were filled were tears, her was shaky. She said “your sister isn’t allowed here anymore!”

my heart felt like it was in my stomach, “She’s is on drugs and is choosing her own path”

Tears now rushing down my mom’s and my face. “All we can do is hope she gets better soon.”

I was at a loss of words what was I to do without my best friend, my sister, my personal hairdresser, my sister…

My sister would come to the house time after time, trying to get in and “have somewhere to sleep”. It came to a point where I even wanted nothing to do with her. I went to classes on the drugs and I did research, I did some much research just to try to understand why would she pick the drugs over her family. I didn’t understand. Day after day ever siren my mom and I heard our stomachs turned. I finally hit a point where I felt like just giving up on her. She went to so many rehabs and not one seemed to work.

I would come home and my sister would be walking around with an attitude that you just knew she wasn’t right. Thinking about it actually still makes my stomach turn. One day I had came home and heard my mom screaming before I even entered the house. I nervously went through my bag to find my key. I now feel sick, as I turn the knob to open the door I see my sister lying on the ground and my mom screaming, “CALL 911!”

I walked in and saw my sister just laying there. I picked up my phone so fast to quickly dial 911. My eyes filled up with tears as I told the operator please get an ambulance please, I think my sister is overdosing. PLEASE HELP HER!”.

When I got off the phone all I saw was the fear in my mother’s eyes, the anxiety that her first daughter’s life was in jeopardy. There was absolutely nothing I could do, the feeling of my heart sinking in my body came again. Not be able to know what would happen next my mom said as tears rolled down her face, “Payton, please go to mom moms until she is gone, I can’t let you see all of this..”

I listened because I knew my mom couldn’t possibly take anything else.

January 11th, 2017, I will never forget this day. The day arrested. Some may say it was the worst, and I’ll admit it was hard but it taught my whole family so much. As a family we went threw so much growth, and for that I am thankful. The world of drugs runs deep, it’s a world I never actually wish to live in. Once you’re in the world of drugs your brain is controlled and it takes everything in you to put away from it. My lesson out of this was that to never take anyone you care about or yours life for granted. This world is a scary place and you never truly know what will happen next all you can do is keep your head your head held high and keep pushing. I never know if my sister will forever be clean but I sure do hope so.

The pain that nobody talks about behind addictions and family bonds

“Orlando don't you think it's time to head home, tomorrow is a school day honey?”  

Once I heard that my heart started to pump faster and faster as a grab my bag full of clothes to walk out the door. Just as I started to walk out  the door I can hear my mother screaming at me.  

“You couldn’t come see me you dumb bitch!”,

I maybe could have seen her, but for what for so she can just call me all types of names and make me feel bad about myself. Just after I walk in and I'm shocked, I didn't get cursed out for once I came in the house. Instead I smell some strong odor. I started to wonder was it from outside or inside my house.  I shut the door to see if the smell is still there. It wasn't outside. I know it's coming from upstairs once I close the door. I enter my room.

“who’s there?”

“It's me Orlando I just got home”, mind you it's about 7:00 pm.

As I said I was home to my mom, she looked a little  funny. Her lip was turned, the smell came out her room, and she was paranoid.

“Is she doing drugs again, I thought she promised me she’ll stop.” I say to myself.

At that moment I feel the steam come out my ears because I was so mad. Instead of telling her off I showered and went to bed.  

It's Monday morning, Sep 9 and I am very happy because I love school and can't wait  to make new friends at my new school.  I walk outside my bedroom door I noticed my mom had been up all night because her light had been on all night. “Mom are you up? I'm heading to school.”

As soon as I asked my mom if she was up, she turned her light off not knowing I'm right outside her door. Since I didn't get a response, I begin  to head to school and ignore what just happened so I can start on a good note entering freshman year at SLA.

“OMG you survived your first day of highschool.” I said to myself ready to come back to school for the second day.

When I got off the bus I walked straight  home thinking about all the homework I have to do and will I be able to get to sleep early. When I was walk down the block, I noticed that my mom is in a bad mood. I wondered if it was because she doesn't have money to buy drugs? Or Is it because she got in a fight with my step father? Once I  walked up my front steps she approaches me with a “Do you have money”

instead of “Hi baby! How was your first day?”

But it's fine, I'm used to it already. “I need it for my lunch. Hi to you to.”

As I began my homework, my mother decided to  come in and start to calling me stupid, that I don't love her, and  that I won’t be a anybody in my future.  This all stemmed from me not giving her money.  I stop doing my homework because I really want to become somebody and she doesn't show me any support. I think to myself maybe I can just grow thicker skin and ignore what she says. After I stopped being upset, I started to do more homework and as soon as I lifted my pencil she started to verbally abuse me more. This time by making me think bad about myself more.

Once again I stop because I can't focus. I”ll just do it at school since she is bugging me because she doesn't have drug money..

It's Tuesday, New year's eve. I promised my sister I would spend New year's eve with her and her new boyfriend since I always spend it at my best friend house. Before I stepped into my house, all I smelled is this strong awful odor of throw up. “Why is there throw up near that white couch? It's gonna start to make the couch stink.”

“It's your mother's she was drunk last night and decided to start fights with me knowing I'm pregnant” my sister says walking down the steps.

While I'm walking to the kitchen I see three stacks of bowls that are dirty. “Why aren't the dishes clean! Yall to lazy to wash dishes?” not knowing my mother didn't pay the water bill.

Once I figure out the water is shut off I instantly come towards my mom who stinks very bad and tell her “you need to get your act together first you started drugs again and you start drinking now!”

Now while I get my clothes all I'm doing is regretting that promise I made Monday night because my mother is just gonna drink the night away again.

It's 12:00 AM New Years, Once everybody in my house is done hugging me and my mom get in alil argument because she called me “snotty” just because I didn't want to get her a beer. She than asks me a rude question “Why you gotta be so snotty towards your mother? that's so fucked up.”

I didn't even answer the question I just left upstairs because I didn't want to just like curse at her maybe she’ll start to hit on me next.
Three hours passed and the party is still going on because my mother don't care that everybody is tired, so my sister unplugs her stereo and hides the extension cord. My mom being drunk wanted to still hear music and tried to ask me to get another extension cord, my response towards her questions was a simple “no you're drunk go to bed” turned into a fight. My mom ran up the steps and charged after me by grabbing my neck and shouting, “you're such a snotty, dumb, unaffectionate bitch you know that”.

While she is choking me my sister pulls her off than my mom kicked me out at 3 in the morning. I shout as a threat and a promise “the next time you grab me by the neck you’ll have DHS in your life with a black eye”.  
A month later around 7pm, my mother decided to get drunk again and attack my sister. All I heard was her screaming “you ain't going to have no future” and rumbling.

“Get the fuck out my room, don't worry I'm not coming back home after school tomorrow” my sister says as my mom walks down the steps.

I ask my sister “where she going back to the bar?”

“I don't know and don't care!” She replied.

Once she answered she started to have a dramatic break down which triggered me to talk to Lehmann because i'm so scared my sister will hurt herself. Once I got into contact his reply was “Lando want me to come get you? I'm scared for your safety”

I say “yes please come quick be safe”.

Once Mr.lehmann came to my house the police shows up and break down the door, me leaving with my sister to Lehmann house for the night and my mom getting in the house.

That morning is where my promise came in place. That I would bring DHS back into my mother’s life again.  We had a discussion with my advisor and Mr.lehmann about the incident and if I felt save? As we speak I get emotional and shut down because I feel some weight I had on my shoulders from my mom come. Of course I felt guilty but at the end I felt a little better but I still felt lost. I felt lost because I stood to my promise and me doing that it affected my relationship with my sister, whom I was close with. They took me out my house. I stayed with my best friend until August. Which was the month all the weight and guilt I had on my shoulders vanished because my mother has no legal rights for me. She can't attack me no type of way.  All I can think about is “God is good, God is good.”

The Reason Why

When I was younger, I didn’t understand catcalling. I understand why catcallers do it now, but I don’t understand why they constantly pursue people who don’t want what they’re offering.

The first time I was around that type of environment, my mother, my older sister, and I were walking up 16th and Chestnut right beside the H&M attempting to get to 15th street. A tall, middle aged man abruptly stopped my mother. At the time, I thought he just needed directions. I was no older than nine. I barely knew how people had sex. I didn’t know he was about to ask my mother out on a date.  I didn’t know he was about to disrespect my mother by asking her that question blatantly in front of her children.  

“What’s your name?” He asked leering at her breasts. “What would you say if I asked you out on a date?”

I turned to look at my sister. She doesn’t look shocked. Why doesn’t she look shocked?

“I would tell you I’m with my kids right now,” My mother said. She motioned her hands at us to continue walking.

I wanted to know: What had happened back there? People are allowed to do that? These thoughts raced through my mind as we walked. When I got home, that’s all I could think about. Does this usually happen to her? Why does this happen to her? What did he truly want in return for taking her out to dinner? I got up to ask my sister.

“Hey, Nasia. Do you remember what happened with mommy earlier?”

“Yeah, how could I forget? Why do you ask?”

I wasn’t sure how to word the question.  Should I be blunt? What if I just-- “What was that back there?” I blurted out.

My sister looked at me like I was a doofus. “That guy was trying to get mommy in his sheets. He obviously only came up to her because he thought she looked good.”

To get her in his sheets? What? What does that mean? I had a lot of unanswered questions.

Just recently, I had a situation like that happen to me. I was walking up the stairs to get to Dilworth Park. I would’ve stayed underground, but I didn’t have any cell reception and I needed to call my sister.

As I looked down at my phone, I heard, “You look nice!” I looked up to see a man standing right in front of me. My immediate reaction was, “Thank you!” not acknowledging his ulterior motive. “How old are you?” Why is this man talking to me? What is he doing?

“14,” I tell him, holding my phone close to my ear to deliberately ignore the truth.

“Oh..I’m sorry! I thought you were older!” Of course you did! They always think I am. Just let me get to where I need go.

“You sound so mature though!” He said with a crooked smile on his face.

He raised his hand like he was saying goodbye. I continued to be polite by doing the same thing. As soon as I did, he grabbed my hand and held it tightly. What is this man doing?

“You just look like a nice person. I’m really sorry I--.” I zoned out to hopefully hear Anasia pick up.

“I’m sorry. The person you are trying to reach has a voice mailbox that has not been setup yet--.” Great, now she’s not answering.

“--When I was a kid, we didn’t do this. Everything was so different.”

This man kept rumbling on and on about his childhood. I thought: Why is he continuing to talk to me? I just said I’m 14. He griped my hand tighter and tighter. His eyes were widening. He opened his mouth and began to say, “I’ll just wait for you!” Is this man in his right state of mind? What made him think I’ll date him when I’m older? He let go of my hand and said goodbye.  

Are looks the only thing people see in a person? What about personality, and the way they make you feel? Is catcalling just for booty calls? After thinking back, I have come to the decision that now and days, everyone wants what makes them look good, whether it’s a phone or a person. I’m sure there are a few people who see past the good looks, but most of us just want something because it’s extravagant or name brand. Honestly, I even do it sometimes. We’re so used to what we want, that we forget what we need. Do you want someone who has a killer body, or someone who cares and respects you?

Girls Soccer Beats School of the Future!

[Story by Lotus Shareef-Trudeau]
On Wednesday, September 27, the Girls Soccer team faced the School of the Future in the Far Northeast. The official called for a shorter game because of the stifling heat, shortening the halves to 30 minutes each, this encouraged SLA to push hard at the start of the game to take advantage of the shorter game. The strategy paid off for SLA, with three goals scored in the first 15 minutes of play.

The first goal was scored by Amelia Benamara assisted by a beautiful pass from Emma Schwingel-Sauer. The second and third goals were scored by Lotus Shareef-Trudeau, taking advantage of rebounds off of the opposing goalie.

The School of the Future scored once during the beginning of the second half of the game, but the girls clamped down on defense and were able to keep anymore shots from getting in the goal. The remainder of the game was a very even match, with a lot of close calls on either side of the field. The game ended with SLA 3-1. Keep up the good work girls!

Benjamin Rivera's Personal Systems Essay

A couple of weeks ago I went over my friend Ryan’s house because we were going to try and go to a party. I was sitting on the couch as Ryan picks up his phone to go onto Instagram.

“Yo bro I’m hungry you got any food,” I said as I walked to his cabinets.He ignores me for his cellphone

“Yo, what the hell dog I’m talking to you!” I smacked him in the back of his head

“Alright chill! what’s up- oh yea the food.” He puts it down and goes to get some things needed to make a sandwich. RING! He hears his phone notification go off and runs to the cell phone, then goes back to eating.

“Bro since you didn't want to help, you can wash dishes.” Ryan had forgotten to wash the dishes because of his cell phone distracting him. The  opens

“Ryan and Benji you better have my house clean,” His mom yells. I sprung up and ran downstairs Ryan stood on his phone

“Ryan get your behind downstairs,” She yelled. No sound. Ryan’s mom walks upstairs

“Give me this shit and go clean my dishes”

You might be thinking what’s going on at this point. Well, Ben’s friend Ryan is a perfect example of how teens are in a system of technology. As you can see the system of technology can take over a teenager. This starts with social media, which can mess with your social life in real life. A counterexample to this system would be Ben in this situation. Ryan has no idea that he’s even apart of a system, but let's break the news to him.

“Yo broski school is so boring they got us talking about this book Macbeth. Why won't she let us just chill,” Ryan texts Ben.

“Just chill and text me later. Why can’t you be without your phone for five minutes?” Ben texts back.

“Hey, not my fault I got hoes on my phone,”Ryan cracked.

“Shut up, you just look at memes about you being lonely. Now go back to class now.”Ben ends the conversation.

You may not have noticed it, but Ryan is able to have an entire conversation with Ben without Ben being ignored. This is my personal experiences with the system of technology it’s in 3rd person well because that’s how I love to tell my stories so enjoy.When Ryan’s on his cell phone in the first scene, he’s so stuck in his cell phone, he’s basically not in the room. The system of technology takes control of his mind. When we mentioned the counterexample earlier just look at how Ben asks Ryan to get off of his phone. This scene shows that proof that the system of technology doesn’t work for all teens. You would call this an inductive reasoning because watch this next scene with Ben’s brother, Luca.

Ben’s on the phone with his brother while walking to the store.

“Ok cool. I think I’ll be at practice tomorrow. Keep me posted alright bye.” Ben hangs up the phone call with Ryan.

“Little Niz, you going to practice with me today.”

“Hell no 2k is all the sports I need.” Finally home Luca runs straight for the Xbox

“Cmon! Come to practice with us.”

“Bye, I’m playing 2k.”

“Whatever I’ll just tell mom.” I yelled down stairs and yelled, “Ma go turn off Lucas Xbox he don’t wanna go to baseball practice”

Ok to shorten this Luca is another example that technology is a system we live in. He doesn’t know it just like Ryan. Luca and Ryan are key proof that technology corrupts up from the real world. Why? Because the world is boring to them they like the fast and funny entertainment they get from playing video games and going on social media. After looking at the system itself ask yourself reader are you a part of the system of technology. Did you even know that you were associated until now. Test yourself and try leaving your phone and computer alone for a whole day.

Well After looking back on it this looks like a persuasive essay but it isn’t. This essay is intended to show the reader that a system can be persuasive. I just wanted to give you, the reader a deeper and enjoyable reading session. Hope you enjoyed some scenes about the systems in my life.

Virginia stay away

In 2016, my family planned to go Virginia for four days. During the summer we started to get everything set and in the month of August we left. We went to a very big and cool hotel that was pricey but worth it. On the first day there, we got settled in the room that the hotel gave us and began to get  ready to see what they had. We found this place called Busch Gardens which is a hotspot of activities and different cultural themed areas. So my family and I went to try the place out and see what it had to offer.

The entertainment system is a very big part of the world. What we usually do is go to the beach but we wanted to try something new and see if we would like it. We didn’t want to go somewhere off land and on an island because it takes too long and cost too much.

When we arrived,  we took a family photo to remember our first moments. The first ride we got on was called ‘’Pompeii’’. It is a huge water ride that looks almost like a log flume but with more effects and and a scarier drop. Day one we really did nothing and just went around half of busch gardens, got on some rides, ate some food and enjoyed the day.  On day two, we woke up to the wonderful sound and rhythm of a fire alarm. We still don’t know what triggered it but that gave me an idea of what type of day was ahead of us.

Then next we went and got breakfast which was great but after we left, we had to pull over because our car broke down. The next few minutes, maybe 12 minutes tops, the repair man comes and fixes our broken down car. Later we went to the water park and that's when things got worse.

The park was crowded but not so much you couldn’t move. Just too many people in the area. There was nothing to really do thanks to the many people in line and in the water. When we learned that there was a back part to the park by the time we were actually having fun A GIANT STORM CAME AND WE HAD TO LEAVE. We waited in our car for an hour because everyone was leaving at the same time because of the storm and we got really hungry. We didn’t eat there cause the lines were packed and the food didn’t look good.

At the end we just had enough of how bad a day were having we just decided to go to Busch Gardens and eat at the Smorgasbord. The food was good and we even got to see a show as we ate so that made the day better. We ended the day off with something right and it fixed everything that had happened before.

The entertainment system has ups and downs. We had lot’s of fun in Busch Garden and Williamsburg. Downs that set us back were the alarm at the hotel, the dead battery in the car and the rain storm at the water park. But that didn’t ruin the experience of the vacation. Many people chose different places to have a vacation and sometimes they work other times they don’t.