Collegiate Scholar Spring 2012

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The Collegiate Scholar The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) is an honors organization that recognizes and elevates high achievers. NSCS provides career and graduate school connections, leadership and service opportunities and offers nearly half a million dollars in scholarships annually. NSCS members are deeply committed to scholarship, leadership and service and as a result, are impacting their campus and local communities every day.

Spring 2012

Contents Alejandra Macias Angela Receveur C. “Chris” Davis Anthony Downing Dillon Berger David Perry Megan Montemarano Lauren Principe Jacqueline Trujillo Terrell Newbill Kat Katz Yui Suzuki Byung Chan-Kang Shadiah Lahham Alexandra Port Alexandra Port Gianna Paniagua Vanessa Anaya Anna Tan Anthony Downing Brendan Horner Dara Strickland Ethan First Jeremie Guy Lillygol Sedaghat Megan Montemarano Patricia Kujawa Peiyuan Hu Ryan Keller Shabnam Etemadi Tyler Seville Wendy Lu

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Mail The Man Walked growing bones Song of Trees The Lost Vessels of Humanity. Teddy Bear When the Smoke Clears Planting a Poem Just a Reminder Introvert, Again Goddess I was born for this love We Create Everything Light Art Two Monkeys Paper House Flamenca Paradise House on Fire Reality Control Field of Stones A Small Price to Pay Animal Collective Fire Fighter Revelation An Undying Love Elderly Student Achievement What Lies Behind Every Language—Culture Under the Roof of the Orphanage Truly Me My Alternative Winter The Colors of Sound

“Writing a poem is

discovering.� -Robert Frost


Mail By Alejandra Macias University of Nevada, Las Vegas Visions of the future A fork in the road An envelope which impossibly contains The gravity of this load The weight of the letter The weight of your heart Too heavy to stop hoping To lightweight to start A million thoughts As sweaty hands pry The seconds have slowed They no longer fly by Your eyes get to work But your brain puts up a fight Until you fully understand And become still as the night A tear rolls down And drops from your chin I now ask the dreaded question Did you get in?

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The Man Walked By Angela Receveur Indiana University-Bloomington The man walked Solitary, alone Destination: unknown. The sun shone bright on his cap, But he shivered inside There was no way to know why. Perhaps, it was the loneliness he felt, Or the hope that shipped away. Did he know why? Was it his dreams gone awry, or something deep inside that knew not all was right in the world? Something was gone, missing? A what or a whom? I dare not assume, Because what is lost cannot always be found And now his hat falls to the ground. He bends over, picks it up His sight locks on a target, A smile dominates his face. His destination has been spotted.


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growing bones By C. “Chris” Davis Argosy University Online in the summer garden all brightly gay blooming heads smiling nod reach for the day

Della Skye, in her place the lily finally grew Simon, Brit, Jorja, Aimee, oh, little Cooper, too

vines twist gentle green in beckon curls pond waters shimmer shine guarding scaley pearls

Thunder n Lightning, tremor frightly shake honeysuckle on the air nothing more can take

maple leaf lacely drip crimson flutter downed mossy-rock sedums march lightly ‘cross the ground

little Stars that too shortly lose their glimmer glow ancestral dust feeding oh hidden garden know

sitting inside, quiet breath yet all here i see this living garden only growing bones ‘round me

every direction i turn north south east west buried are heart’s pieces ripped from my chest

Jewel sleeps forever rest ‘neath flutterby feet Jade, Cotton, Ricky, Sage, under lonely cedar meet

this garden flower filled ‘n wild critter homes but all I see looking ‘round… a garden, growing bones.

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Song of the Trees By Anthony Downing University of California, Santa Barbara The song of the trees always brings me to my knees, On the precipice of defeat, laden with guilty pleas. It’s louder now; I can hear it in the breeze. Its soothing whisper calls, creaking in the leaves. All rise from and return to the gentle Mother’s womb. She teaches us the song, and we murmur from the tomb. Ancient sages hear the sound, and bow forward to the ground. A crescendo rising, unlimited by time, ageless and unbound. Its melody echoes in you, journeys await the wanderer’s whim, So pure and true, the ringing song of Seraphim. Soft and easy through the leaves, hidden in the storm, Anywhere it goes, ubiquitous and without form. It encompasses the whole of matter, time, and space, The contradictory nature that lies behind our face. Drifting through the sky like an artful painter’s brush, The dawning of creation, nature stills in eager hush. It is in the sound of fallen tears, in laughter’s happy cry. It hugs us when we’re born, and holds us as we die. Though we are alone in death, the silence then is sweet, And if you remember the tune, it is harmony complete. Hearts beat, like ethereal specters in the street, As melancholy spirits weep in their defeat. What I hear is bittersweet, a symphony of pain, Filled with passionate love, and joy unrestrained.


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A tune that plays from age unto age, Demons shredding chords of sacrilegious rage. Turning onward, from page unto page, The same magic within, alone or on stage. Angels’ trumpets sound the horn with blaring might, Burning for transcendence, like fires in the night. Wailing sobs of purest agony, In accord with triumphant ecstasy. Written together, the keys to balance the whole. Heard in understanding, the music of the soul. And deep inside, in the absence of light, When your gut is twisted, knotted tight, Wanting to sleep, insomnia-impaired, And as you toss and turn, again the song is there. In your heart, where grief has left its stain, A lonesome ghost shall wail the final strain. Failure fresh, wounded pride, And none to blame but the one inside. Thoughts restless, the worst of times, Singing in your mind like crooked rhymes. What’s left to do, what’s left to say? That suffering is the price the living pay? If that’s the way, it must be hoped, That pain breeds understanding of cosmic scope. If not, we sing the song of dying men, Doomed forever to awake, and listen again.

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The Lost Vessels of Humanity. By Dillon Berger Northern Virginia Community College tell me what is existence how does one define reality does it thrive on sensual persistence or is it the essence of mortality What about my dreams are those an exception or is the imagination but another organ of perception if I dare believe what’s in my mind with more faith than what I see I set adrift my sanity only to get lost at sea that is, the sea of rationality that consumes all imagination that shows mercy on no man and renders complacancy his destination it is where the winds of materialism create tidal waves of avarice that grab the boat of imagination and raise it skyward, like that of lazarus only to to throw it downward destined for destruction destroyed and then devoured lost in the ocean of corruption


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Teddy Bear By David Perry Butler University His button eyes, sunken, Black as a fractured satellite, Filing my childhood. Neither of us see quite clearly now. His threaded smile-Frayed, crooked, loosened, then lost.​ It hides beneath bold cable wires. His hair grown fine, nearly bare, Scarce from reckless prying hands.​ Beguiled are we, Filled with fluff and shovings, With muffled voices inside. Through his museum expression, Some stifled cry, “What have I become?”

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When the Smoke Clears By Megan Montemarano Fairfield University Sailing past the strong, sleek structures, Reaching high towards the smoggy heavens, Empowerment and pride strike Both my soul and this great country. It’s the heart of our nation; The city of dreams, Where the impossible becomes possible; The sweet memory of roasted peanuts eternally lingers on my tongue. The skyline continues to pass by, Twinkling celestially against a perfect sunset; Purple—my favorite color, Bold darkness and strength, tinged with hope. And then I see it— The unnatural emptiness haunts me; Two colossal shadows of remembrance emerge, Clouding my transient bliss. My previous worries are but mere particles of dust In this beautiful, yet tragic world. Unsettled by the past, daunted by the future, Hindered by trivial aspects that so often eclipse pure brilliance. “It’s just been one of those days for me,” Echoes through my headphones and ignorantly anxious mind. “But for them it’s been one of those lives,” Rings louder, though— powerful music to my ears. I gently bow my head in respect and tribute, Honoring the life of a cherished friend, husband, and father. Deeply breathing alongside him, a precious vivacity fills my lungs, And I am lifted to the realm of a persistently elapsed reality— I am Home, I am proud, I am thankful.


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Planting a Poem By Lauren Principe Fairfield University Writing a poem may take timeLike a farmer planting a seed. It starts small, as all great things in life do. The decision of which flower to plant is all up to him. It’s in his power now and the possibilities are endless. The creator provides all the nutrients it needs to grow. A short moment later, the structure has formed- an outline. The poem drips down the page in the same way that the stem stretches towards the sky. The farmer starts to recognize the shape of the plant that has arisen. The petals could be dark or light, but he can’t tell at this early stage. Once it’s fully grown, it’s beautiful. He feels proud and astonished that he created it. The farmer may not know if it will live long, but hope is crucial at this instance. He may hold his techniques in secrecy Or he may tell them to the world. He takes it to this competition and people come to admire the plant, Give it a grade as you may say. Some may hate it, while others go speechless. The farmer doesn’t like the critique. As some may try to demolish the plant and turn it into a mess, He still believes the plant is unique. In the end, it all belongs to him.

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Just a Reminder Jacqueline Trujillo Southern Utah University Friendship knows no color, and laughter needs no translation The highest form of flattery is simply imitation Take everything the best way you know how Because it’s easier to smile longer then it is to frown Love has no race and smiles reach all ages The most important part of the book is the quality of the pages Don’t judge off a façade, its consistency that shines ‘til tomorrow Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, it ends up only as sorrow We all bleed the same and red is the color of all our hearts Intelligence is measured by the places we find that we’re smart Sometimes before happiness comes a great deal of crying But remember that believing in yourself is halfway to flying Sometimes the worst things that happen to us dawn the best gain Even though it’s easier to be mad then to acknowledge the pain Realize it’s more convenient to believe you can do it then say it’s too hard After the deck has been shuffled will you be a Royalty card You can’t compare your pain, happiness, or life battles to someone else Things like that don’t match up, compare only you to yourself Never fear something that you don’t understand Be unique as a snowflake not a grain of sand Like art, in order to make something beautiful you have to start with a blank sheet Take what abilities you know and make something complete Sometimes you need to laugh for no reason at all Don’t spin too fast or you won’t be able to see yourself fall Our world is like a deck of cards or a puzzle or even a game of chess All the pieces have different have colors, faces and powers but one piece missing is worthless


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Introvert, Again By Terrell Newbill Virginia Commonwealth University Nature’s elegance entwined with the light. Creating peace and beauty, everything is right. Lost in the moment, back in my head I was gone for a while, but the paths are well tread My mind was a safe haven for so long I was pulled into the real world and it felt natural, not wrong But it tore my heart, so my soul grew weak And a little refuge is what I must seek So now I’ve returned, not forever, just a temporary stay Quiet on the outside, loud on the inside, I always liked it this way Familiar with my thoughts, they’re a shield from the pain My imagination, my values, they keep out the rain Streets paved with insight, trees growing strength and love Stories fly around, ideas fall from above Logic builds this world, and emotion adds some grace Faith and reasoning lead into outer space Here is a world where I can think, create, and heal It’s not tangible, but its really just as real Can’t stay long, though I’m glad it’s comfortable here Because I need time to recover, whether it be a day, a month, or a year

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“The artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of � .

artist -Eric Gill

Art & Design

Kat Katz Northern Virginia Community College “Goddess�


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Spring 2012


Yui Suzuki California State University, Fullerton “I was born for this love�


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Byung Chan-Kang Indiana University, Bloomington “We Create Everything”

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Shadiah Lahham Virginia Commonwealth University “Light Art”

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Alexandra Port University of Wisconsin, Madison “Two Monkeys�


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Alexandra Port University of Wisconsin, Madison “Paper House”

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Vanessa Anaya University of New Mexico “Paradise” Gianna Paniagua University of Pittsburgh “Flamenca” The Collegiate Scholar

Spring 2012


“Writing is an

exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.� -E.L. Doctorow

Short Stories

House on Fire By Anna Tan University of Hawaii at Manoa The beautiful Hawaiian sunshine glitters upon the waves, casting dancing lights across the water. I revel in this flawless beauty as I turn to look at the boy next to me. He lay on the white sand, eyes closed, a gentle smile on his face. I can’t remember ever feeling so much love for someone, probably because I never have. The fairy tales about princesses getting swept away by Prince Charming and living happily ever after... I never thought I would believe those stories. But I do now. I’ve often asked myself: what is love? Surely a question that everyone seeks the answer to... After all, humans don’t really have much control over their feelings. Oftentimes, emotions become all-consuming and destructive. Human weakness is merely emphasized as people allow emotion rather than reason guide their actions. I consider myself truly lucky to have feelings that are in agreement with my reasoning. Even now, with my one true love lying by my side, I cannot say I understand love. It is, after all, such an abstract idea. Without knowing what I am seeking, how will I ever know that I’ve found it? Even the greatest love may come to an end. Relationships fall apart; divorces are filed, yet once upon a time, the two people involved committed one of the bravest acts of all: they entrusted their hearts to one another, apparently for the rest of their lives. To give your heart to another is exceptionally beautiful, especially when the other person willingly accepts it and gives you his in return. But like all things in life, love is not flawless. It can be quite painful and tragic. The tears I have shed for past relationships are countless and numerous indeed. Naturally, I am not thinking of the end. At this moment, my love for Bryant is indefinite. I’m sure if someone were to ask me, “What is love?”, I would not be able to give a satisfactory answer, but this must be it. I think in silence, looking away from Bryant to watch a group of children run across the sand, their laughter distant, but full of joy and innocence. Bryant sits up and puts his arm around me, “What are you thinking about?” I look back at him, startled to see him staring at me, his eyes giving away his happiness. Those bright eyes have always possessed the uncanny ability of telling me exactly how he felt. I could never doubt him. Bryant loves me and I can see it in every word, every action. I move closer to him, hugging him tightly, “I’m thinking about us.” Spring 2012


The silence that follows is brief, but not uncomfortable. I feel so safe with Bryant; losing him would destroy me. If I have to (probably even if I don’t), I will give up everything for him without hesitation because living without Bryant would be completely meaningless. I wouldn’t be able to do it. He presses his lips to my forehead, saying with serious calmness, “I love you.” I kiss his lips briefly, before answering with a laugh, “I know.” He scowls at me with amusement as I stand up and walk towards the clear, blue ocean. The rest of the afternoon is completely cliché, but still absolutely perfect as we spend every moment together, walking along the beach, picking up seashells, and talking about our future—a simple two-story house in Hawaii; two children, a boy and a girl; him pursuing his dream of teaching, while I finish studying law at the William S. Richardson School of Law. What better place to spend the rest of my life than the very place where I fell in love. The sky is clear that day, so the sunset is extravagant, stretching across the sky in a blaze of crimson, gold, and red. I run from Bryant, taunting him to catch me if he can. Of course he does. In seconds, he catches me from behind and we tumble to the sand together, laughing with pure and absolute joy. Perhaps pure, absolute joy does not truly exist, but with Bryant, I feel no sadness, only happiness. Truly an ideal relationship. I lay on top of him, listening to the rapid beating of his heart. He wraps his arms around me to hold me close. All I want is to lay there in his arms forever. He means everything to me—the very reason I live and breathe. I cannot even begin to imagine life without him, but I don’t say any of this out loud. Reaching into my bag, which had fallen to the ground beside us, I pull out a simple knife with a thin, silver blade—no larger than a common kitchen knife, but dangerous all the same. In the seconds that follow, I nearly change my mind about killing Bryant as I look into his eyes, which remain absolutely calm. There is no fear, only trust and happiness and love. The existence of such abstract emotions can surely be argued... I push his arms away, holding the knife loosely in my hand. He doesn’t even glance at it, looking only at me. “You’re beautiful,” he murmurs softly, not wishing to disturb the silent peace that follows a sunset. I pretend I don’t hear his gentle words, plunging the knife into his heart as the last ray of sun disappears below the horizon. Cheers erupt from the spectators standing on the beach, some with cameras in hand, others enjoying the beautiful view with loved ones—all of them blissfully happy as another day comes to an end, as it does every night at the same time. Surely such a constant, repetitive event is not worthy of so much joy and celebration, but when you’re standing there, watching the sun sink lower and lower in the sky, it is the


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epitome of beauty, a phenomenon truly worth appreciating. It’s true what they say then: sunset is one of the greatest times to reflect upon one’s actions. It welcomes the night with open arms, and sooner than you think, the sun shall rise again. Death comes swiftly, draining all emotion from Bryant’s eyes. I watch him for a while, his face peaceful, eyes still wide open. A soft ocean breeze brushes against the palm trees; children continue to play in the distance. I kiss him one last time—a passionate, loving kiss that lingers long after I leave. I pull the blade from Bryant’s still heart and get up to leave, knife in hand—the image of a heartless murderer, but that’s not it at all. Picking up my bag, I turn to look at him one last time, pausing only to say, “I love you, too.” Then I walk proudly away, a calm smile on my face. The glorious atmosphere hasn’t changed at all. Tourists wander off the beach, on their way to dinner. The innocent laughter of children still hangs in the air. The wind continues whispering ceaselessly through the trees, the ocean lapping gently on the welcome shore. No one is aware of the dead boy, lying in plain view, fresh blood staining the white Hawaiian sand. A couple, laughing merrily—perhaps celebrating a beautiful marriage—walks past the body, but looks right through it, as though it were transparent, as though Bryant Lee never existed. I toss the blood-stained knife into some low-lying shrubs, though I’m certain I’ll need it again one day. Leaving the beach behind me, I realize I am ready to brave the world, overcome my fears, and continue living life, this exhausting race against time. Nothing’s changed at all. My dream remains exactly the same as before, just as beautiful as the day before Bryant wandered into it. The sun shall rise again in the morning. It will continue to set and rise and I will wake up in the morning as I do every morning. But this time, I am waking up with one person less to suffer for. I open my eyes and sigh. The beach, the trees, and the people vanish instantly without any warning. I suppose it must be over now. It is, after all, my dream. And I want so much for my dream to always remain beautiful because I’m going to make it come true one day. But emotions—love in particular—have the strange ability of clouding good judgment. I’ve been behaving so irrationally: the analyzing, the thinking, the wondering... It can really drive a person insane, especially when paranoia kicks in and you start imagining things that might not even exist. The power that human emotions possess is truly horrifying—something to be feared. I love Bryant unconditionally, but it’s been eight long months of pure torture and I don’t think I can take much more. Humans are built to adapt and change, but nothing is infinite. I can’t put up with the pain forever. Unrequited Spring 2012


love is painful, but knowing that the other person feels the same way, yet refuses to act on it... That hurts even more. Bryant keeps trying to explain to me how very different we are, how I will leave Hawaii to go home to San Francisco one day, how he can never make me truly happy. I don’t think he understands that I would have done whatever it took to make the relationship work, even if that meant staying in Hawaii for the rest of my life. It hurts to have to cry everyday, wondering if he’ll ever know just how much I care. Human relationships can be so exhausting sometimes. As much as I want to hold on, I can’t possibly expect to succeed if I’m wasting away for a boy who will never be mine. It may have taken me eight months, but I’ve finally come to realize that there is just no place for Bryant in my dream. It costs too much trying to hold on to someone who refuses to stay. I have to let him go. Moving on is ultimately a choice—not an easy one, but a choice nonetheless—and I am finally gathering whatever strength I have left and fighting back. I refuse to let him be the reason for my sadness. As cliché as it sounds, it’s not worth it. My best friend once told me that love is a gamble; the house always wins… Not if I burn the house down.


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Reality Control By Anthony Downing University of California, Santa Barbara In a darkened theater on the outskirts of a forgotten town, there sat an audience waiting not with anticipation so much as bemused curiosity. Many shows had passed through this town, most of the time because they could not remain profitably in any other. Having been subjected to such mediocrity for so long, most of the audience had come to expect disappointment. “Ladies and gentlemen!” boomed a disembodied and comically exaggerated announcer’s voice, startling the crowd with its sudden volume. “It is my sincerest pleasure to introduce to you the master of all realities, the illusionist!” Brilliant spotlights flared into existence, illuminating the stage and forcing those near the front to shield their eyes. Several moments crept awkwardly past, and the tension in the room began to build. Though the audience had initially been irritated by the obnoxious glare of the spotlights, they felt far more discomfited afterward by the stark dichotomy between light and shadow caused by the oppressive lamps. One sitting in the crowd would have found himself unable to see the faces of those around him in the pitch darkness, or even the fingers of his own hands. Eventually, to a sort of relieved applause, the magician stepped out from behind the curtain onto the dark, polished wood of the stage. With a placid smile upon his face, he walked to the front of the stage and adjusted his glasses. Dressed to the nines in a snow-white tuxedo, he held before him a sheathed blade, the handle resting in the palm of one hand while the point lay flat upon the other. With great care, he drew a long, gleaming sword from the sheath, with a hilt of glinting silver filigree. “Before we begin,” said the illusionist, bowing to the crowd, “I would like to say a few words. It will only take a moment. “I feel obligated to warn you,” he began in a playfully ominous tone, “that Spring 2012


this magic is very powerful, and very frightening.” He paused, as though phrasing his next words carefully, and then smiled indulgently at his audience. “What you see here…may very well change your life.” He had a pleasant smile, which spoke only of fantastic promises, though something about it seemed to put the crowd on edge. “While I’m sure you are all very curious about this,” he chuckled, raising the sword above his head, “I will have to ask for your patience. You see—“ Enraged howls echoed throughout the building, preceding a horde of enormous black dogs racing from the sides of the stage to the center, where the helpless magician stood. They were obviously starved, for after they had mercilessly united to drag him down like prey, they fed gluttonously upon him, shredding him with bloodthirsty relish. Tendons snapped like rubberbands, and his bones crunched sickeningly between their ravenous jaws. Most of the crowd was silent, looking on in utter disbelief. Though several people had screamed in fright, the hellhounds remained on stage, unmoving and panting with exertion. Eventually, they trotted off behind the sidecurtains once more. When they had vanished, the illusionist emerged from behind the curtain to thunderous applause. Those who had been frozen in horror or shock realized that it was to be expected, and reluctantly clapped with the rest of the spectators. He was a magician, after all. Waiting patiently for the applause to die down, he looked about him as though his doppelganger had not just been shredded by vicious dogs and asked, “Has anyone seen my sword? “No?” He lifted the mutilated corpse from the ground by the collar of its ruined tailcoat as though it weighed no more than a kitten, and gestured at the empty, ragged hand of the clone. “Definitely not there,” he mused quietly, letting it fall back to the floor. He left the body at the back of the stage, and walked forward once more. “I think I know where it is, you see. I had been getting quite hungry.” Facing the crowd, so that there could be no doubt, he bent forward, and the great length of his sword fell from out his mouth, travelling smoothly in


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transit from his innards. He put his fist over his mouth and burped lightly, patting his stomach for effect. He held out the sword in the same way as before, unmarred and immaculate in its mirror-finish. “Thank you,” called the magician above the smattering of applause that followed, “but really, it is no matter. “I feel I must inform you, however, that the magic you can see is one thing. What is truly the magic you can’t. Speaking of which, has anyone seen our friend?” Though the crowd laughed nervously at his reference to the mutilated corpse that had been no more than ten feet behind him, the unease was becoming apparent. It was as if some base instinct in each of them feared the next bizarre display. They now understood why his benevolent smile had seemed so eerie, having realized that what seemed to be tranquility was no more than amusement. “Then I will need a...volunteer.” At this statement, the audience seemed to fidget simultaneously. No one wanted to go. Finally, one young man raised his hand. “Yes, you! Don’t worry, I won’t kill you,” joked the magician, pointing him out. “Your friends might even be jealous of you when this is over.” When the boy finally reached the stage, he was welcomed with a warm hand on his shoulder. He could see nothing beyond the edge of the stage, and for a moment he felt as though he were looking into a great, bottomless pit. “Did you have fun tonight?” asked the magician, as though he knew just how frightening and unpleasant it had been. “I guess,” the adolescent answered nervously, refusing to meet the eyes of the man standing before him. “A little violent, but certainly impressive.” “I have heard that many times, you know,” mused the illusionist, still smiling down at the volunteer. “Now I want to ask you, do you like things the way they are? Would you change how tonight ended?” “What do you mean?” Spring 2012


“With this blade,” said the illusionist softly, “I wield absolute authority over the mind. People see what I want them to. “I could give you that power,” he offered, “but beware. Though you may cloud the sight of others, to grasp this sword is to see the world as it is, and nothing more. Would you want that?” “Of course,” the boy answered. “Who wouldn’t?” “Is that really what you want?” The nervous energy of the crowd had reached a crescendo. Their stomachs were roiling, cramped with fear of something they were only instinctively aware of. The magician watched them all, smiling, his spectacles shining so brightly in the spotlight that only the glaring illumination mirrored in the lenses was visible. After many minutes, during which the magician’s strange smile never faltered, the boy finally answered, “Yes.” The magician’s smile grew wider, positively manic, as the boy’s hand approached the hilt. When his fingers had finally settled around the handle of the blade, the lights came up, and the world shattered. Every person in the crowd, every last one, had been maliciously eviscerated, and sat slowly dying in the red velvet chairs of the theater. Though slashed to ribbons, all remained alive, and had become aware of their predicament at the same moment as the “lucky” volunteer. He let loose a feeble whimper of anguish, made that much louder by the silence of the audience, which could only gurgle helplessly from below. He fell to his knees, overwhelmed. “Oh, God!” he sobbed in terror. “Is this real or fake?!” “When you are holding that sword, does it matter?” With that, the illusionist began to approach the nearly catatonic teenager, who was shaken from his stupor by the sound of footsteps. He desperately scooted back, attempting to escape the murderous sorcerer to no avail. Primal fear had gripped his mind, and crushed it. Sanity abandoned him, and


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rather than fall into the hands of the twisted man and suffer the agonizing fate of the rest of the congregation, he plunged the blade into his own heart. The illusionist watched silently for a time, and eventually walked off the stage toward the dressing rooms beyond. But he felt as though he had forgotten something terribly important. Behind the curtains, another entertainer was waiting, rubbing his hands together nervously. “Tough crowd?” “Hardly. The mind is such a fragile thing.” The man looked confused. “So you rocked ‘em huh? Knocked ‘em dead?” “Oh, yes,” he laughed, “I killed them all.” But as he turned and set off down the hall, a noise behind him made him pause. He did not turn around, for he knew that in the place of the nervous entertainer stood the boy. There had been no other act scheduled that night. “Indeed,” mused the illusionist. “Perhaps the only way to defeat me was with my own terrible power. Use it wisely, my apprentice.” He turned to face his executioner. In his last moments, he saw the young man’s enraged, grief-stricken face, smiled, and knew no more.

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Field of Stones A Slice of Life By Brendan Horner University of Oklahoma There’s a neighborhood of white stone. It is a place of peace, of mercy, of faith. Only those who transcend sacrifice reside there. I have been there to walk on the green grass, feel the warm sun and gentle breeze. I have heard the echo’s of eternity there. It is a place of serenity because I am welcomed with an open spirit by those who inhabit the grounds. One day I may be there too. My place reserved beside those immortal souls. This is not about me though. It is about a friend. He lives in the neighborhood of stones, gleaming marble edifices that serve as pillars that mark all that is great about humanity. The military builds a special bond that goes beyond a casual life connection. It is a mutual understanding that defies race, creed, color, gender or religion. Alan and I didn’t know each other until we served together. He was my engineer, I was his communication tech. I called him a “grease monkey”, and he called me “commie”. There was the time that we shared a butt chewing from the First Sergeant for ordering pizza to be delivered to us in the woods on a field exercise. We shared the same dirty water from a North Carolina creek on maneuvers, suffered through cold nights of arctic frost on watch, and drank the sweet water of life we called beer. We were brothers, we are brothers. In January of 2003 we were called to go forth into the great unknown…to war. I don’t want to dwell on our time there or what we did. The days were filled with boredom interspersed with brief moments of sheer terror. I do remember that we both laughed the first time we felt and saw incoming rounds. Was anyone really dumb enough to shoot at us? At the US Marines? “During this period, I Marine Expeditionary Force conducted the longest sequence of coordinated combined arms overland attacks in the history of the Marine Corps….Utilizing the devastating combat power…and maintaining momentum through the herculean efforts….I MEF destroyed nine Iraqi Divisions. During the 33 days of combat…I


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MEF sustained a tempo of operations never before seen on the modern battlefield…By their outstanding courage, aggressive fighting spirit, and untiring devotion to duty, the officers and enlisted personnel of I MEF reflected great credit upon themselves and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.” -Presidential Unit Citation, issued 3 Nov 03 That pretty much sums it up. It was hot, dirty, dangerous work. After achieving our objectives at Baghdad we set up just south of the city at Al Kut, an old Iraqi air base long since forgotten by time itself. We were tired and letting others have their turn up front while we rested. The term “rested” being a relative term. There was gear to clean, patrols to mount, equipment to inventory, and always something needed to be repaired. It was a cool evening with the temperature hovering in the low nineties. I had just finished up my shift on guard duty and was stretching sore muscles when Doc Ace came up. I thought he wanted to start a late night poker game, or check on me after a bout of heat stroke I’d suffered earlier. No such luck that night. “Hey, I wanted to let you know. It’s a bad thing man. Alan got hit tonight. An RPG. He didn’t make it.” Doc spoke softly because he knew we’d been friends. I nodded and mumbled thanks for letting me know. I remember turning and watching the very last rays of pink disappear over the horizon with the setting sun. In a moment of pure poetic anguish when the last rays of sun disappeared the tears of anguish welled and spilled down my dirty face. They mixed with the dust and sand to create slender streaks of mud, etching into my soul the pain of loss. Lance Corporal Alan Lam died on April 22, 2003 in Al Kut, Iraq. He gave his life for many things; America, his fellow Marines, you, me, his fiancée, and his family. I lost a piece of innocence that day, perhaps the last remaining bit I had left. Perhaps I thought that we would all make it through unscathed, perhaps I was a fool. I think about Alan a lot, I miss him. He lives at Arlington now, and will forever. It’s a good place to visit if you’re ever in the neighborhood. Alan resides just south of York Avenue and a little north of Bradley Drive. Stop by and say hello to him or anyone else there. I’m sure they’d like that. Tell them an old friend sent you and that I’ll come home one day. Semper Fidelis, Always Faithful. Spring 2012


A Small Price to Pay By Dara Strickland Louisiana State University “Belle!” As the young boy whistled, a giant, white dog came bounding over to his side. “Time to go home, girl.” Obediently, Belle walked alongside her beloved, dark-haired master, who began rolling his wheelchair towards the park exit. Belle’s head was almost as high as his shoulder, as he rolled along. After crossing several narrow streets, the pair arrived at a small, white house and opened the door to find the boy’s tall, blonde mother and stocky, dark-haired father waiting for them. “Hi, sweetie, did Belle get enough exercise?” “Yeah, Mom. We played fetch for a while and then I let her just run around.” “Good.” His mother replied, “Now go wash your hands for dinner. We’re having spaghetti!” The boy rolled himself to the sink, built lower than the others so he could reach it while sitting in his wheel chair. Then he quickly moved to the dinner table, where his parents were already seated. Belle lay down at his useless feet and waited for bits of food. “Kyle, don’t feed the dog your food,” his father reprimanded. “Dad, it was just a piece of meatball,” Kyle retorted, “She’s hungry!” He patted Belle’s fuzzy head affectionately. “Kyle, listen to your father,” his mother chimed in, “Don’t talk back.” After dinner, Kyle measured two and a half cups of dog food. He poured it into Belle’s bowl and watched as she began to gobble it up noisily. While she ate, Kyle refilled her water bowl and then rolled away to finish up his homework. Around eight-thirty, his father came to help undress and bathe him like he had done almost every day for the past twelve years of his crippled son’s life. Afterwards, he helped Kyle dress for the night, laid him down gently in his bed, and parked the wheelchair next to him.


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“Belle,” Kyle called. Belle walked into the room and rested her chin on the bed next to his hand. Her large head and neck felt warm and soft as he stroked the wavy fur. Finally, he said goodnight to both Belle and his father, who settled the dog into the backyard for the night. Belle sat down on the back porch. Through the glass door, she watched Kyle’s parents, talking on the couch. After a time, she stood up slowly and walked to the large doghouse at the far end of the yard. She stretched herself out on the soft cushion and drifted into a light sleep. For four wonderful years, Belle, a Great Pyrenees, had been with Kyle and his parents, and each night was the same. After Kyle had said his goodnight, she was taken out to the backyard where she stayed until morning. However, this night, would prove to be very different. When Belle awoke in the middle of the night, a familiar scent filled her nostrils. She had smelled it plenty of times before on cold winter days while Kyle and his family sat warming themselves by a fire in the hearth. There was nothing wrong with this scent. It was just the smell of smoke. However, a moment later, she sprung up, growling in alarm, with her folded ears pricked forward, listening carefully. She could just make out the sound of Kyle’s voice, calling out and trembling with fear! “Mom, Dad…Help!” For some reason, his parents did not answer. Bred to guard and protect flocks of sheep, Belle, sensing danger, now felt the defensive instinct of her breed kick in. This family was her ‘flock’ and she would allow nothing to hurt them. Belle dashed from the doghouse, but stopped short as she saw bright glowing flames obscuring one side of the house. She faltered only for a moment, and suddenly raced forward again, heading for the backdoor. Without hesitation, she flung her massive body against the glass. As it shattered under her bulk, she hurtled through the screen door on the other side and fell to the ground in a heap of torn screen, broken glass, and white wavy fur smeared with fresh blood. Immediately, she jumped back up, ignoring the glass imbedded in her paws and the several sharp shards piercing her side. The house was hotter than an oven and quickly filling with a large cloud of thick black smoke. Her white fur shone golden and copper as the light from the flickering flames fell across her. She raced towards Kyle’s room, claws clattering on the wooden floor. After crossing the burning living room, she darted down the hallway, and pushed past the door to Kyle’s room, always left cracked open.

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Kyle lay on the floor in a tangle of bed sheets. He had tried to move himself into the wheelchair next to the bed, but in his panic, had fallen painfully to the floor. He was now trying to drag himself to the door in an effort to escape the fire. Belle could smell terror radiating from his crippled form as he struggled to tear off the bed sheets that were hindering him from pulling himself out of the room. Belle barked sharply and scrambled to his side. Kyle cried out to her in fear, “Belle, help me!” Belle grasped his sleeve with her teeth and tugged, but instead of dragging Kyle forward, she merely ripped his sleeve. However, Kyle understood what Belle had tried to do and wrapped his arms around her neck. Belle wagged her tail and began to walk toward the door. Kyle hung on to her neck and slid across the floor beside her as she began pulling him towards the backyard, walking as fast as she could with her load. She dragged him down the hallway and through the living room. As she reached the backdoor she pulled him around most of the broken glass; however, she could not avoid it completely. Belle stepped on several more small pieces and another few shards cut Kyle’s legs. Finally, together, they made it outside. Belle dragged Kyle to the other side of the yard before she stopped. Kyle let go of her neck and lay on the ground gasping and bleeding slightly, in the cool night air. “Mom and Dad are still in the house,” He exclaimed anxiously. As he began yelling hoarsely for help, Belle darted back toward the fire. Back inside, she started for the master bedroom, but she found that the blaze had spread. Blocking the path from the back entrance to the bedroom was a curtain of flickering flames, crackling and popping. The flames danced back and forth jumping out at Belle unexpectedly. She waited for a minute or so, seeking a way through, when briefly the flames parted slightly, the two sides dancing away from each other. Belle took the chance and sailed through the small gap, singeing her bloody fur in the process. Now, the way clear, she raced to the bedroom; but the door was shut. She slammed herself against it with a resounding thud, but the thick wood did not give as easily as glass and screen. After several more attempts, Belle gave up breaking down the door, but was determined to get into the room somehow. The smoky air continued to thicken as she barked frantically. There was no hint of a response from the other side of the door. In despera-


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tion she began to chew and tear at the wood with her gleaming white fangs and sharp claws. Ignoring the splinters in her tongue, she, at last, squeezed her way through the hole she had chewed, the jagged edges of splintered wood scraping against her back and belly. Belle rushed to Kyle’s father and barked loudly, but he and his wife lay motionless in the smoke filled room. Belle promptly bit down on his arm, nearly breaking the skin. The sharp pain brought the man back to his senses. He sat up groggily and suddenly realized the danger he and his family were in. “Laura! There’s a fire! Wake up,” he croaked as he shook his wife’s unconscious form. Laura did not move. He stood up slowly, coughing violently, and dragged his wife out of the bed. Laura groaned and feebly stood up; however, the smoke seeping into the room was quickly pulling her back into unconsciousness. As she went limp again, he took her right arm and began crawling towards the bedroom door. Belle hastily seized Laura’s left sleeve with her teeth. Kyle’s father opened the bedroom door, and, together, he and Belle dragged his wife to the front door, as flames still blocked the way to the back. He fumbled impatiently as he unlocked the door. When the lock clicked open, Belle released Laura’s sleeve and moved behind him, as the doorway was too narrow for the three of them at once. Just as the man stepped out of the house and pulled his wife through the doorway, the house creaked loudly and the whole front side collapsed, halfburying Belle in rubble and debris. He cried out in fear as he looked at the wreckage, “Kyle!” Believing his son to still be inside the collapsing house, he abruptly laid his wife on the lawn, then, rushed into the backyard, hoping to reenter the house through the back. Seeing his father running across the yard, Kyle called out to him in relief. His father dashed to his side exclaiming thankfully, “Kyle! I thought you were trapped in the house! Thank goodness you’re all right! How did you –” “Belle pulled me out, Dad!” As the man carried his crippled son out to the front where his wife still lay motionless, sirens could be heard wailing down the street. Tires screeched to a halt in front of the crumbling house, and seconds later, the unconscious woman was being treated by the paramedics. Suddenly Kyle cried out, “Where’s Belle?”

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Belle whined as he spoke her name and Kyle, looking toward the noise, noticed her still buried in the former doorway. Burning wooden beams lay across her backside, and her hind legs were completely obscured by the remains of the ceiling. She looked at Kyle pleadingly and whined again. Kyle cried out in alarm, “Belle!” When the firefighters finally dug her out, she lay on the ground, torn, bleeding, burned, and unable to move. “Sir, is she going to be okay?” Kyle questioned the vet eagerly. He sat with his parents in the waiting room of the emergency vet clinic. The family had been sitting on the hard wooden bench for hours, anxiously anticipating the news of their friend and rescuer. “She’ll live…but, I’m afraid she’s gone lame. She will never again be able to use her back legs.” Kyle looked down at his own crippled feet; and at that moment, Kyle understood that in the coming months, he and Belle would become closer than ever, now that they shared the same disability. He knew he could help her to overcome the handicap, with which he had long ago learned to cope, and to show her the love that she had shown him the past four years – a love that did not care that she would never run and play like she used to. When the family observed Belle in the emergency room a few minutes later, she looked up at Kyle in his father’s arms, her eyes filled with adoration. She may be crippled, but she didn’t care. All that mattered to her was Kyle’s safety, and her injury was only a small price to pay for it.


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Animal Collective

Merriweather Post Pavilion Review By Ethan First Tulane University There’s nothing wrong with pop music. Its ability to crawl into its listeners’ heads and travel with them throughout their daily lives should be considered a virtue. However, as music has evolved, a stigma been attached to the genre, and those who abide by its confinements are considered uninspired or fake. This, perhaps, can be blamed on disco, the synth pop movement of the 80’s, boy bands, or Nickleback for their seemingly calculated mission to send music into retrogression. Nevertheless, pop cannot be written off as an art form for only the lazy and narrow-minded whose nearest hit radio station dictates their current iTunes playlist. Those who can capture pop’s positive characteristics and expand on them with their own distinct musical vision should be celebrated as redeemers and innovators, not criticized for their foray into accessibility. A memorable melody or conventional chord progression should not ruin what could be an important piece of musical art. Animal Collective illustrates how to properly walk the fine line between likable and intriguing music, and the recycled, feigned garbage that has been shoved down listeners’ throats without question. For years, this fascinating foursome has enticed us with pop music, but experimented enough to leave its subtle grasp relatively untraceable. However, on their most recent LP “Merriweather Post Pavilion”, pop’s presence cannot be ignored, and plays a pivotal role in the records brilliance. Compared to their expansive catalogue of experimentation and eccentricities, the songwriting of this album is much more cohesive and consistent. Influences ranging from Brian Wilson to Paul Simon are evident, but originality is not compromised. Songs such as “Brother Sport and My Girls” can best exemplify this songwriting prowess. Although retaining the classic Animal Collective peculiarities, these songs provide a glimpse at the catchy, popmotivated songwriting the band is capable of. In “My Girls”, Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) sings “I don’t need to seem like I care about material things, I just want four walls and adobe slats for my girls”. This anthem of simplicSpring 2012


ity and responsibly exposes the vast array of topics that can be turned into memorable compositions, and the strong emotional investment in their songwriting process. Songs like “Bluish” and “Guys Eyes” prove that love songs need not be cliché and artificial. Furthermore, their intricate arrangements, and masterful execution illustrate the maturity of the collective. Conversely, the record still contains moments of less accessible musical repartee that allow Animal Collective to maintain its avant-garde label. “Daily Routine” sprawls through exciting sections of musical cacophony to slow, sprawling sections of melodic idiosyncrasies. “No More Runnin’” provides listeners with slow-paced, but tasteful, harmonies that would be impossible to find elsewhere. “Lion In a Coma” ignores conventional time signatures, and uses interesting samples that do not usually find their way into most genres of Western music. Animal Collective has cemented its position as one of the most important and relevant bands of the decade. Their ability to create music in a myriad of categories, with ever-intriguing sounds and samples has kept audiences listening fervently for many years. Still unable to disappoint its massive following, Animal Collective has refused to conform to any style that had won them favor in the past. “Merriweather Post Pavilion” is a perfect example of the band’s growth and their willingness to step outside their successful formula. It embraces its pop influences, and expands upon them with innovation and originality that could only be expected from such accomplished and exciting musicians. This album will play itself over and over in the heads of those who can truly grasp its brilliance, and will forever remain a crucial record in the advancement of modern music.


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Fire Fighter By Jeremie Guy Louisiana State University in Shreveport & Towson University Flying in airplanes had never been Randal’s favorite thing to do, but his Autistic brother Bill didn’t seem to have any issues. Bill would utter his usual mumblings, but he stared out the window at the clouds and Randal could only imagine what he was thinking. His eyes were red and irritated and itched like mosquitoes had attacked them. As a stewardess walked passed him in the isle he snagged her wrist with his eyes closed. She was startled at first, jerking her head to him so that her golden curls bounced around her shoulders. “Excuse me ma’am. You wouldn’t happen to have any eye drops would you?” He said, rubbing his eyes again and wondering if he would scratch his corneas with the contact lenses if he kept it up. The stewardess smiled a smile she probably flashed for every person she met at work and said, “Sorry, sir, we can’t administer medication. We aren’t a hospital.” She yanked her hand free and Randal sighed. He tried to fall asleep, but by the time he started dreaming he was jerked awake by the landing gear. He glanced out the window past his brother Bill and raised an eyebrow. It was incredibly flat in Iowa. Holding both of their bags, Randal managed to call Alice, his old fling from high school. While they waited, Bill saw an American flag riding the autumn air. He jogged for the flagpole and Randal sighed. Setting the bags down, he chased his brother and got between him and the pole. Bill loved raising and lowering flags more than anything else, and Randal knew it would be hard to persuade him that this wasn’t the place. Despite his gentle pulling and verbal coaxing, Bill won. He lowered the flag, played with it a few seconds then raised it. He repeated the process until a security guard walked over with one hand on his belt. Randal expected to see a gun or a taser, but the guy just had a fanny pack. Spring 2012


“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to cease and desist immediately,” said the guard, holding out one hand to Bill while the other rested on the black pack. “Calm down, buddy,” said Randal, smirking and trying to ignore his itching eyes. “He’s my brother. He’s autistic but he won’t do any harm. He’s just going to do that a few times and we’ll be gone.” The guard looked between the two brothers. He was wearing a black and gold Hawkeye baseball cap. Tufts of greasy black hair snaked out from the cap and were matted to the guy’s forehead. He squinted his eyes and continued moving toward Bill. “Not okay, he must cease and desist immediately.” Hearing the harshness in the guard’s voice, Bill bellowed out a low-pitched grunt and waddled back to where Randal and he were standing before. The flag hurled back down and the guard jumped over to catch it before it touched the ground. He got tangled and started saying something about Randal getting into trouble. Randal ignored the guy and walked over to his brother. He started questioning if bringing his brother along to woo Alice was a good idea. Before he could complete the thought his phone rang and he saw a white Saturn pull up in front of Bill. The passenger side window eased down and Randal smiled. Alice was leaning over, cranking the window with one hand and smiling with her other hand holding a phone to her ear. He looked over his shoulder and saw the guard struggling to raise the flag. Chuckling to himself, he grabbed the bags and ushered Bill into the back seat. He sat in the front. Despite Bill’s lack of fear for flying, he hated driving, and if he sat in the front he might cause an accident. Instantaneously upon entering, Randal was hit with a pleasant smell of lavender. “It’s been way too long,” said Alice, pulling away from the airport. “What do you do now?” “I’m a firefighter,” Randal said, wondering if it was a bad thing that she hadn’t scrambled out the car to give him a hug when she pulled up. “It’s rewarding work and I love helping people.” He wasn’t lying, but he still hoped his line of work would earn him some points with her. She was a lot more attractive than he remembered. Her red


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hair was still as curly and shiny as ever, but her freckles had all but disappeared. Red had always been his favorite color. The shirt she wore exposed some cleavage, and it made Randal hot despite the temperature outside. “So you work at a special needs camp, right? Will the director mind if I bring Bill without much warning?” “No she’s cool. Since you are going to be watching him she didn’t need any staff so it wasn’t a big deal. Plus I pulled a few strings.” Alice winked after she finished her sentence, smiling and showing a row of teeth. They weren’t the whitest, but they had character and looked natural. Randal appreciated that. Bill started groaning in the back, rocking hard enough to bang his head against the back of the seat. “It’s alright, buddy, we’ll be there soon,” said Randal, turning around and rubbing his brother’s knee.” Bill continued to rock, but not as violently. “He hates driving.” “I’ll keep that in mind.” An orange-red beetle crawled up the window beside Randal. He smiled and tried to pick the beetle up, but it bit his finger and he shook it off, saying ouch. “That lady bug just bit me!” Alice started laughing before telling him to roll down the window. “That’s an Asian beetle. They come out from the corn fields during the harvest.” “Well that’s just confusing. Never knew lady bugs had evil twins.” Rubbing his eye with his unbitten hand, he started wiping his bitten finger on his jeans. “Come on, you better not be crying,” said Alice, shooting her eyes between him and the road, smirking. Randal smiled, “No, I’m sensitive, but not that sensitive. I just switched from glasses to contacts and I forgot to take them out last night. Left my glasses at home too, so if I want to see I got to wear them through the pain.” With another chuckle Randal started feeling good. Things weren’t awkward Spring 2012


like he feared they would be. “Since you’re flight didn’t get in until late, there isn’t much point in going to camp today. I thought we could swing by a nice Chinese restaurant in town and grab some food.” Alice had turned up the radio before she started talking and Randal had to ask her to repeat herself before he understood. He figured some dinner would be a nice bit of fuel for the fire he hoped to start with her. They entered Monticello and swung by the Lotus Garden. Alice offered to pay, but Randal insisted she not burn up all of her money. Dinner went well and Bill didn’t make too much of a scene. He spilled his milk once, but the waitress was nice and didn’t charge him for an extra glass. After dinner Alice drove them to the hotel where they would be staying. She left and said she’d be back bright and early the next morning to trasnport them to camp. Randal managed to sneak in a kiss on her cheek. Back in his room he turned on the news for Bill and pulled out his EMT book. He was trying to become an EMT because he thought it would interest him more, and the pay was definitely better. The room was spacious for a small town hotel chain. There were two beds and mood lighting. At home he liked to study by candle light. Something about the fire casting shadows on the book helped him concentrate. Though he knew lighting a candle in the hotel room wouldn’t be wise, he was able to dim the lights and it worked just as well. Every so often Bill would make bomb noises, imitating a segment that was on about soldiers affected by PTSD after being in vehicles attacked with explosives. The more Bill exploded, the more it distracted Randal. With every distraction, he started to be able to hear what the news anchor was saying, and it became harder and harder to concentrate. “I knew I should have left you with mom and dad,” Randal said, his voice louder than he expected it to be. Bill stopped for a few seconds, staring at his brother with his mouth slightly parted. For a few seconds Randal wondered how much of the outburst was understood, and he started feeling guilty. Before long, Bill went back to making bomb noises, but he added jumping on the bed to the regiment. With a sigh and a guilty feeling of defeat, he rubbed the sides of his head with his fingers.


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“You know what, you’re right.” He shut his book and hopped on his bed, making bomb noises and leaping up and down with his brother.

... Alice called before the sun had time to rise. She said some things changed and they wouldn’t be able to go to camp, but she’d managed to take off for the day. Instead, they would go to the Field of Dreams movie sight, which was about 45 minutes away. With a groggy voice he said that was fine and was happy to hear her say they didn’t have to leave until whenever he was ready. Since he spent most of the night playing around with Bill, he slept until just before noon. Alice came to pick them up and they headed for the Field of Dreams. “Sorry I slept in. Didn’t mean to have you waiting,” said Randal, stoking his blond hair back. “It’s okay. It was my day off so I was more than happy to grab a few extra z’s” By the time they arrived at the field of dreams Bill was anxious and ready to get out. He popped open the door and ran toward the field and Randal wondered if he remembered watching the movie when they were kids. Surprisingly, no one else was at the field at the time, and there were a few balls and gloves lying on the bleachers. The smiles invaded his face and he couldn’t ward them off. He jogged out after his brother, meeting him by the corn behind the field. It hadn’t been harvest yet, and Bill started weaving between stalks. Alice made it over and smiled, watching as Randal chased Bill. “Careful,” she shouted, cupping her hands around her mouth. “Don’t want you to get bit by another iddy biddy bug and start crying again.” “That bug was huge. You’d cry if it bit you too,” Randal yelled back, laughing as he tagged his brother and ran out the corn. He stopped in front of Alice and they locked eyes. Her smile was so warm, her lips full and inviting. Randal figured a hug would be appropriate, but his brother came up behind him and tagged him. The tag was more like a push, and he bumped into Alice. The side of his face met the front of hers and they both started laughing. Bill took off toward the pitcher’s mound and Randal Spring 2012


gave chase. Looking over his shoulder he said, “I’m telling everyone you kissed me by the way.” He thought he heard her laugh but he wasn’t sure. He picked up a ball and two gloves and started playing catch with Bill. Bill didn’t look interested, but he continued playing and it made Randal smile. A couple of hours passed before they knew it, and they decided to go home. Bill was a lot calmer on the way back and the car was quiet except for the pop music on the radio. Randal was happy he got to see Alice, but sad because he knew his flight left in a couple of hours. They’d made sure to pack their things into her Saturn just in case they ran out of time and had to go straight to the airport. When they arrived, Alice was a good sport and smooched him on the cheek, willingly this time. It made his face flush and warm, but he still wanted to taste her lips. They hugged for a minute or so before Bill got restless. Randal watched Alice leave before boarding his plane with his brother. Home again, Randal cracked open his book and lit a candle. As he studied, he couldn’t help but think of his brother. Since Bill lived with their parents, the only times they really saw each other was when they went on trips like the one they’d just gone on. The phone rang and Randal smiled to see it was Alice. She called to check up on him and they talked for an hour or so before he said he had to get back to studying. He felt the fire inside him grow and he wanted to see more of her. But, thinking that caused him to feel guilty. He couldn’t help but think that she liked him because he was kind enough to bring his brother along with him. He stared at the candle, watching tendrils of steam wisp off the flame. At first he couldn’t shake the feeling, but he thought about the trip. He thought of how much fun his brother had and how much fun he’d had with him. The love they shared. The laughter. He couldn’t be certain, but if he was fully functional he was pretty sure Bill would have wanted him and Alice to get together. Though it was a morally smoky situation, there wasn’t any harm done. He chuckled to himself and laughed at how sometimes life can turn something bad into something positive.


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Revelation By Lillygol Sedaghat University of California, Berkeley “He who stores up knowledge stores up grief.” There it was, all summed up and neatly packaged within one concrete statement. My emotional grief, the sickness that plagued my spirit upon my return to Berkeley, the mental torment I felt the previous semester as I continuously questioned the path I was taking, unsure of where to turn, what road to take, all while attempting to regain my footing within the surrounding darkness suddenly made sense. Yes, it was at this moment-- when my Professor read the quote aloud and warned her students of the weight of the course material-- that I straightened my back, slowly crawled to the edge of my seat, and smiled a broad, secret smile. This was the closure and realization that I needed, that I was searching for, in order to put into layman terms as to why I suffered so much upon returning from my study abroad experience in Costa Rica. It was so simple. The more you learn, the more you see, the more you exposure yourself to the intricate complexities, the unbelievable discrepancies, the incredible difficulties, the more disillusionment shatters the pure, idealist notion we all fervently believed in as children. As much, the train of thought slowly changes from ‘I want to save the world’ to ‘Can I truly do anything in a system, in a society, in an unjust environment locked in the shackles of historic injustice?’ The more knowledge we as scholars acquire and the more we are exposed to the Truth, the more we realize how far from perfect our world is and how far from easy solving such great issues as injustice, inequality, unfairness are. That is not to say, however, that we should give up. Rather, there are those who initially pursue the path of enlightenment and self-knowledge, but whose spirits become chained to the problems themselves; as the weight of such rustic and heavy burdens strap down their souls, the passion they once felt in the hopes of saving the world erodes into a bitter after-taste of cynicism and defeat. It is unfortunate, but not every person’s spirit is strong enough to handle Spring 2012


the Truth, perceive the Truth, understand the Truth. This is not the first time others have reflected upon this subject; Nietzsche predicted this predicament long before my time, but I finally had the opportunity to understand what he meant in being able to feel it myself. The pursuit of knowledge is a path that, like all other paths in life, is accompanied by Love and Consequence. In understanding the external and internal complications, the inherent bureaucratic impediments, the paradox that whatever one seemingly positive decision one makes is equally matched to a negative consequence, some people lose sight of the hope of being able to make even a marginal change at all. I am here to tell you, dear readers-whoever you may be-- that in order to maintain strength amidst submerging yourself within the bogs of these issues, you must Love your subject matter. You must believe in it with such a fiery passion that no matter what you come across in your studies, your Love for the cause will overcome all the mental punches thrown your way. The Consequence of pursuing such a path is ‘understanding’ and being able to cope with all the things you see. However, if you can do it, if your spirit can withstand the constant rain of negativity and hopelessness pounding against your head, then your Love for the cause will allow you to grow strong and stab the issue right at the core of one of its hearts. It is difficult, no doubt. So many scholars lose themselves to the misfortunes they see and are crippled by their privileged sight of uncensored enlightenment; some even lose themselves and stay in perpetual circles of self-doubt and cynicism, while others prefer to study the material from the windows of an ivory tower. But then there are those who chose to immerse themselves within the material and battle the demons they come across with every new insight and fact; they learn to reflect on the material, but not so much to the point that they lose themselves to it. No, instead, the strength they gain in battle as foot soldiers allows them to make the significant impact their once forgotten childish past desired so strongly. It is a long, hard fight, but one that can be fought, should one have the spiritual strength and the desire to live a life of fulfilling yet eternal hardship. To end a long story short, if you truly Love something, be it a person or a cause, there will always be a dark shadow, what I like to call the Consequence, attached to it. Recognize its existence, but understand that if your Love is strong enough, it will be able to constantly combat the Consequence. Never forget the child inside of you, for it is often times the wisest of all the voices that enter your ears.


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An Undying Love By Megan Montemarano Fairfield University The room fills with dust as she opens the now yellowed pages of her past, slowly flipping through the black and white photographs clustered together on each unprotected sheet. “Grandma, you really should transfer these pictures to a better album. They’re getting really ancient-looking,” Emma says to her grandmother with genuine worry in her voice. “No need to,” she replies in an assured tone. She pauses as she runs her wrinkled hand gently across the smooth surface of a much younger, more vibrant version of herself. Continuing to scrutinize each picture, this time she focuses with great attention on the one of herself in the arms of her beloved husband, a brilliant glow of young love shining from their hopeful faces. Her eyes begin to close as she breathes in, whispering through a weak, but true smile, “There’s no possible way I could ever forget these images of my past. They seem to me as recent as yesterday, hon.” With that, Emma looks down at that same picture of her grandparents, content in each other’s arms as if together they were an indestructible force ready for anything that came their way. A pang of sadness suddenly overwhelms her as she thinks of her grandfather. She would never hear his soft, kind voice, see his endearing smile, or hold his protective, loving hand ever again. “Grandma?” she asks through forming tears. “How do you live without him?” Taken by surprise, Emma’s grandmother pauses for a few moments, and eventually takes her granddaughter’s smooth, young hand in her own, lifting it to her heart. “I don’t live without him,” she says. “He’s with me every second of every day. When you experience true love, you’ll be surprised by its unrelenting power. Love makes the impossible possible.” Emma ponders her grandmother’s strong, emotional words, soaking in her great wisdom and strength. “Will you tell me the story of how you and Grandpa met? When did you know he was the one?” Emma asks, her words rather jumbled together in an instant, curious need to know the story behind the photographs at which they had been looking throughout this rainy afternoon. Her grandmother smiles as she squeezes Emma’s hand in response to her request, and looks toward the photo album. “It’s been nearly sixty-five years, but as I told you before, I remember it like it was just yesterday…”

Spring 2012


“Mary, you have to go with me! What are you going to do home tonight, anyway? -- Sit home all alone,” Doris complains to me, her nagging techniques getting more and more convincing every time.“Fine, I’ll go to the concert with you,” I respond in an exasperated tone, leaving the room as quickly as possible. I don’t want to spend any more time with my younger sister than necessary. Even though I’m the eldest, she’s always bossing me around. As I sit on my quilted bed, I think to myself, How bad can an outdoor concert be? I continue to weigh the positives and negatives, ultimately making a deal with myself that if I go to this concert tonight with Doris, I will not attend any other event with her for the rest of the week. It’s time I take a firm stance for once in my life. As scheduled, Doris and I make our way through the beautiful pastures which surround us. The brisk, sea air whips through my long, blond hair, and I can’t help but feel content as I gaze across the sea at the tall cliffs of the shoreline glistening in the setting sun. There is nothing like a sunset in the beautiful countryside of northern Wales. As we near Happy Valley, the location of the concert, the sound of instruments warming up fills the air. “So, how long is this going to last?” I ask Doris, with a hint of annoyance creeping back into my voice. “Would you stop being so exasperating, and just enjoy it? Besides, I’m meeting up with a Yank! He says he’ll have a friend with him, so I figured you two could talk,” Doris says, a smirk appearing on her flushed face. “He’s a soldier on leave,” she continues in a flirty tone, as if that would make this more bearable. “Excuse me? You’re setting me up?” I practically scream, this time true aggravation consuming my tone. “It’s nothing serious! I just thought it would be fun,” Doris continues. She was always a stubborn girl. I seriously consider turning back right then and there, when suddenly I hear a distinctly American male voice call out to my sister. Great… I think to myself. There’s no turning back now. He emerges from behind his friend; tall and handsome, with a true Italian look to his face. I suddenly feel as though everything and everyone around me disappears. The dark-haired, uniformed figure of the stranger approaching is all consuming. As the sun continues to set, leaving nothing but shadows in its departure, the brilliance of its rays illuminate this man, making him seem all the more dazzling. He is all I can see, and in this moment, all I care about. What is happening to me? I think, as my trembling legs forge forward in his direction with no hesitation, as if drawn by a magnet. After what seems like an eternity, I finally stand before him, staring into his deep, brown eyes. “The name’s Thomas,” he suddenly says, his deep, but gentle voice breaking through the unnatural pounding in my ears. At this point, I know it’s my turn to say something, yet I cannot find the words. Thomas begins to smile down


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at me, a look of genuine kindness in his amused expression. Suddenly, I am also standing in the only remaining rays of the day’s sun. It’s just Thomas and I under the warmth of the brilliant sunshine of Happy Valley, Wales, and I am fairly certain my heart is beginning to melt.

... I suppose you can say it was love at first sight. From the moment I met Thomas, the Italian-American soldier from a completely different world, my world finally felt whole. We enjoyed the rest of his leave, learning from each other and growing together in love. He loved my lilting, Welsh accent, and I his adorable “Brooklynese” English. I showed him my home, and gave him my heart. When the dreaded day arrived for Thomas to return to France and serve his country, devastation and overwhelming worry consumed me. “I see you every day. I see us,” he would write in his letters to me, assuring me that there was nothing to worry about. Our love was powerful enough to endure anything in its path. It was simply indestructible, and being apart only made this clearer. For two years, Thomas would continue to visit me and stay with my family at our small farm in Wales on his leaves from endless battles about which he refused to talk. He insisted that the death and destruction witnessed was part of his past, whereas I was his future. The remaining time spent apart was filled with longing for the postman to deliver Thomas’ letters containing words of pure loyalty and adoration. Although once unsure of my purpose and state of being in this lifetime, being loved by him, I felt like I could achieve anything. Our love was my inspiration to expand my horizons, and fearlessly follow my dreams. After our marriage in a little Catholic Church in the beautiful seaside town of Llandudno, the only real town I had ever known, I was ready to continue an already thrilling journey with the man from whom I was so different, yet at the same time, with whom I was so complete. I still remember taking one last glance at the stone wall surrounding my home, the tall blades of grass swaying with the wind, as I left my country and loved ones behind, to venture into the colossal abyss of the unknown. What I did know, however, was that once the war-brides’ ship on which I was sailing made it to American soil, one familiarity would be there for me, ready to embrace me in his strong, welcoming arms, and never let go. Thomas was my protector, who fought for me and our unlikely love just as he had bravely done for his country; my new home.

... “And the rest of the story you know, Em,” Grandma says, the sweetness of her story still lingering on her lips like a touch of pure honey. “He worked hard all his life, gave me two, wonderful daughters, and then there was you!” Spring 2012


For a few moments, they simply sit there in silence taking in the beauty of the past. “Why can’t we just slow down time, and stay with the things we love forever?” Emma suddenly asks, leaning her head against the old woman’s bony shoulder. She reaches over to pick up the picture of her grandma and grandpa at which they had been looking before, and stares at its perfection; the bright, infectious, young smiles now completely understood. “You know, like a photograph. It never changes,” she continues, as she stares enviously at the captured image of complete adulation before her. Emma feels her grandmother’s weight shift as she once again reaches for the girl’s hand. “You’re still young, but one day, when you experience the love that I have, you’ll understand,” she says, contentment in her voice. “You’re grandfather is everywhere…in my memory, my dreams, my heart, even in your eyes. Don’t you see, Em? He lives on through our love.” Gradually, a sense of peace and tranquility replaces Emma’s sadness as her grandmother’s wise words fully sink in. The steady sound of rain on the roof begins to lessen, and a growing brightness starts to transform the room. There, lying on her grandmother’s bed, head on her shoulder and the warmth of the sun reaching her now closed eyelids, Emma finally understands. She truly understands.


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Elderly Student Achievement By Patricia Kujawa Kaplan University In latter 2007, thought of entering college was far from mind; however, that seemed to change as the New Year was ushered in. 2008 was allowing this senior citizen to feel alive again in both mind and body. The clarity was hard to fathom especially after twenty plus years of lacking energy, motivation, and concentration, which was brought about by Major Depression. Depression took away all life’s joys in my forties, including work experiences, but now in my sixties were the joys to return! The mind could not keep up with the thoughts that flowed rapidly through; however, one kept re-emerging and it was the possibility of going to college. This was always a dream that seemed lost for the most part. Yet, here it could possibly be within grasp. Possibility entered reality in March of 2008 when the first courses began at Kaplan University online. The apprehension and nervousness turned to excitement as each term passed. The unbelief of achieving the dream of college was coupled with unbelief that I a senior citizen could achieve A’s splatter with a few B’s and be listed on either the President’s or Dean’s list. Entrance into college was one thing, but actually achieving and maintaining honor status was almost totally beyond my belief system. Realization or acknowledgement to self was and had to be made when an invitation was received from The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) to be part of the 2009 inductee class. This was proof that not only was I in college but also on its honor roll. Additionally, a prestigious honor society was inviting me into their ranks. The empowerment this brought forth was indescribable although, I will try. Two years within the Business/Administration/Management program at Kaplan went by fast, yet satisfaction was waning. The business world did not seem like a viable career field to enter since twenty-four years had been spent in secretarial and junior management prior to depression. A decision had to be made. Therefore, like all other potential juniors the major came into question. Spring 2012


After having taken many career assessment tests, which showed qualification from either Law or Medical field, the decision was made to enter the Psychology field. This immediately posed another dilemma, “What area?” There were so many choices. Again, great consideration and research determined that since virtual assistance was already being done and thus far education had been directed towards business then why not combine the two fields. Thus was born Wordwings Services, which is a virtual assistant small business. It will eventually provide administrative/secretarial support to Mental Health Professionals with the ultimate intent of providing advocacy and support services to their clientele as well. This again created a slight dilemma, as Kaplan was not offering the needed programs to achieve this. Two thousand ten brought about a year of transition. From Kaplan’s Business program to Capella University’s online General Psychology program. The apprehension and nervousness returned, but again it turned into excitement since the honor status remained. Now the dream was expanding to not only receiving an Associate or Bachelor degree, but also possibly a Master’s or eventually a Doctorate. The dream continues to evolve because in mid 2011 acceptance was granted into the combined BS in General Psychology/MS in Human Behavior program at Capella. This dream also holds that invitation and acceptance to both Psi Chi and TUA Honor Societies is close to reality. The empowerment, enacted by NSCS, within me has allowed this elderly student to achieve beyond the mere dream of a college education, but belief that one is not too old to learn or have potential for greater successes in life.


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What Lies Behind Every Language—Culture By Peiyuan Hu University of Washington Let’s see how people make friends, they talk first. That’s why when someone speaks English in a weird accent, mixing formal usage with slang, or if they don’t understand half what you are talking about, people would treat her as someone who doesn’t speak English well which leads to no further interest in a conversation because how can they communicate when one person can’t explain herself well? That’s why language plays such an important and large role in friend-making. I was born and raised in Shanghai; a city bearing 6.5 million people and an increasing non-citizen population. I speak Mandarin in class and a Shanghaidialect with my family and friends. Though there are so many non-citizens around me in Shanghai, and though we are all fluent in Mandarin, barely do I have friends among them. Well, here is what I observed; peo-ple who speak the same language tend to hangout together. I would be super polite and friendly to them as if they are the guests in my house but there is something deeper that keeps us at that distance and I think it’s the different mother tongues and culture differences behind that. Most people’s first language is the dialect from their hometown and due to the vast land of China, there are over 80 dialects and each one is nothing like the other. For me whenever I hear someone talking in Shanghai-dialect or Mandarin in shanghai accent I feel close to them right away, even though it’s just an ordinary greeting. It’s the way someone talks and the accent that brings me a sense of belonging, reminds me of my root, that earns his point and leave a better first impression and with a positive impression, it is easier to become close. So it is not a surprise that when I sense the one I am talking to is from a different city and has a different dialect, I tend to keep a distance because I am too lazy to come out of my comfort zone to welcome them or make an effort to know a different culture. I didn’t realize that’s how I pick friends until now while I sit here and force myself to reflect and analyze my own behaviors. It didn’t matter before, but it does now, since I came to a total new world and wondered why it is so hard to make friends here. Spring 2012


See the irony? I wish people would treat me as I was treated in Shanghai. But now I am the one coming from somewhere else, I am the one speaking weird, out-ofdate words, pause at the middle of a sentence to think of the very word that just won’t come up. I am the one who has no clue what everyone else is talking about or laughing about. I am the one sitting in the corner, eager to join the discussion while everyone else is talking crazily fast, wishing to give out a response only to find that someone else is half way through her speech. Now I finally understand what those kids from Tibet in our high school felt when they said something in class and we gave blank reaction back or when we had a group discussion and some people wouldn’t say anything – I always thought that was because they were shy. But who knows, maybe they had a brilliant idea and had to swallow it because we never gave them a chance to contribute and left themselves felt like an outsider? Or would it be possible that it was our ignorance that changed a confident person to a shy one? I used to be very confident and my confidence came from being fully understood by an-yone, that I could express myself without any difficulty. Now I am losing confidence because whenever I talk to a stranger in English, I need to concentrate so hard as to catch what he is saying and process it in my head, which makes coming up with an answer in the right struc-ture and finally trying my best to say it an American accent very difficult. It is really awk-ward to pause after someone asks “Hey, what’s up?” and I start to search for something new, two seconds later I still couldn’t find anything interesting to share and my face probably looks distant because of my thinking. Unsurprisingly, the other person would think I am un-interested or even rude! Well if I were her, I would feel the same way but it really isn’t the case. I pause for a longer-than-average time because I haven’t mastered the language yet, not because I don’t care to answer – but it can turn a nice person off. When one is fluent within a certain language, she is relaxed and more of herself and that’s the right impression other peo-ple should capture. If she is not comfortable with how she present herself, using a second language in this case, her body language changes so dramatically she would even be amazed herself. The harder I think, the more nervous I get, the harder to convert a stranger to friend, further taking out a piece of confidence which doesn’t have much left. Being in a new country, speaking a new language, being ignored a lot, being misunder-stood a lot because of my “broken English”. Now I am the one who is not taken seriously. I can’t change how others think but I decided to change myself and never judge a person by the first conversation or their speech again. Rather, I am willing to get to know them and will never ever again put myself in a superior position just because I am a native speaker in certain language or for any other reasons. I will be patient and lead them into the new world when they feel far away from their families or friends.


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Under the Roof of the Orphanage By Ryan Keller University of South Alabama I don’t know if he’ll let me call him dad. I hope he’ll let me call him dad since I never had one. I’m sick of the orphanage. I wrote him another note last night and sent it to him. Nanny says he just is busy and he don’t have no time to write back. He’s in business. He’s got all the money in the whole world! I remember when he came to the orphanage and picked me. He said he was going to adopt me. It made me so happy. I love him because he’s a nice guy. And he’s my dad. I hope he lets me call him that. I don’t know what his real name is so I hope he just lets me call him dad. I guess I don’t need to know what his real name is as long as he just lets me call him dad. He picked me and then he said he’d be right back. I think he is doing a big business deal! I bet he does it just for fun since he has all the money in the whole world already! Randy is a jerk. He said he won’t ever come back and that he’s one of those no show daddies that doesn’t hurt kids feelings because he don’t want them to know he don’t want them so he just leaves. He’s wrong. I know he just has to do the paperwork. Nanny says the paperwork is a river. I understand. But I’m sick of the orphanage. Oh I forgot to tell him in my letter that my leg is better. I broke my leg 2 weeks ago and it’s better now. Nanny said that dad is going to pay the bill! I know he could, because he’s got all the money in the whole world! Sorry I keep saying that but it’s aasome. I bet he could pay everybody’s doctor bills. I’m going to write him again and tell him that I forgot to tell him about my leg being better. I wish he would write me back. It’s been a long time. Randy is getting on my nerves. No parents will take him because he’s mean to them when they come by. He hates everything. He broke some of my toys. One of them was my Snake Eyes G.I. Joe that I got that Nanny said was a gift from my dad but she don’t know that I saw it in her bags she brought from the store. I wish she wouldn’t do that. I’m a big boy, I don’t like for people to lie Spring 2012


to me. Randy tore the head off of Snake Eyes. I’m still mad. Oh I shouldn’t tell you but I tried to run away last month to go find my dad. Nanny stopped me. I had already gotten on the train! Even Randy thought that was cool. He’s never been on a train. Nanny was so mad she said that we can’t do that it’s not allowed. I don’t see why though. He already said he wanted to adopt me. I think Nanny doesn’t want me to leave sometimes. I have a red spot on my thigh that itches really bad. It’s been there for months and I keep telling Nanny that I need to go to the doctor to have them fix it. She said they don’t handle itchy spots. I don’t see why not if they are the doctors then they are supposed to fix your problems on your body, right? I wish dad would come. I bet he could make them look at it. He’s got so much money. The doctors need alot of money to do anything. I bet they don’t look at itchy spots because they don’t make enough money off of them. I bet dad is smart enough to know what to do to fix it on his own. I don’t even need the doctors. I told him about it in my letter 2 days ago so he knows. Maybe that will make him wrap up his business deal and come get me. I only saw him through the glass and it had hand print smudges on it but I still feel like I miss him. Don’t tell Randy. I can’t talk to Randy because he doesn’t understand and he makes fun of me. Maybe I just want a dad. But I can still tell he’s a nice guy. Randy makes fun of me even when I don’t mention him. I can’t talk to him about it. I’m glad that you listened to me. I wish he would come get me. I’m sick of the orphanage. Sometimes I’m even sick of Nanny. I know she loves me but she doesn’t understand because she never felt like me. I’m ready for him to get me so that I can show Randy that he did adopt me and that he just had to deal with the paperwork and his business deal. I’m getting older now and people don’t adopt older people. He has to come get me because no one else will. He has to. I know he will. He has to.


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Truly Me By Shabnam Etemadi Middle Tennessee State University When I was in the third grade my teacher told me, “I know a girl named Shabnam, but we call her Shab.” I still can’t remember how I responded, but what I do remember is that up until this academic year my name was Shab. This was an easy name. A name that people did not recognize or understand, but were not intimidated by either. A name that during that first class roll call when a teacher or professor mispronounced my actual first name (Shabnam) I could correct and relieve him or her by saying, “Oh you may call me Shab.” I thought my life would be easier with this name, but through the years I noticed that people wanted to mispronounce this name as well. Instead of saying Shab with a long A like cab, people would say Shaab like the car SAAB. English teachers and English professors preferred this pronunciation the most. I was baffled and just surrendered. So some people called me Shab (like cab) and well others just called me Shaab (like SAAB with an SH). To make matters more challenging some people would even ask, “Why would your parents name you that?” I would make myself feel better by remembering that the word Shab means night in Farsi. I am a “night owl” and this name was meant for me. This logic did not release me of my anger. Unfortunately, I felt worse because my name is common where I am from. I did not realize that when I immigrated to the United States that I would be renamed and made to feel awkward. Furthermore, I felt that I was losing a piece of myself. I was leaving behind that Persian girl whose name means “morning dew” and not “night.” However, I did not discover these intense emotions until I entered graduate school in the fall of 2011. One day, my mentor who is an advocate and celebrator of multiculturalism said to faculty and students, “You know she prefers to be called Shabnam.” Suddenly, one professor referred to me in class as Shabnam. Then, it appeared in e-mails. Unaware of the news my mentor had spread I was overwhelmed. I liked what I was hearing and seeing. I felt good and I wanted to hug any individual that said my first name, especially the ones that actually pronounced it correctly. Easiness and joy filled my thoughts. I began to appreciate these people. I was wowed by their efforts. Spring 2012


Here and in this time of my life it had hit me. I have finally found myself. That girl that I left in the third grade, the day my teacher renamed me. She is here again. She is genuine and authentic. She is liberated and content. She no longer squirms on that first day of class during that initial roll call. Now she is ready. She is ready to simply say, “Here.� I knew entering graduate school with hopes of becoming published one day that it is imperative for colleagues to be introduced to the name that would be printed. I just did not know how I would tackle this obstacle. Most importantly, I did not know how exonerated I would feel after exposing my preference and expecting people to call me that. Of course people still mispronounce it and misspell it, but those factors are irrelevant. As minor as this issue may be to some people, it is life changing for me. It has shaped my efforts to help those who encounter cultural insensitivity daily. It has motivated me to maximize endeavors focused on accepting, understanding, and respecting people of other cultures. I am from Tehran, Iran. I am Persian-American. I am bicultural and bilingual. I am Shabnam, not Shab. My name helps me stay grounded in my ethnicity and in my roots. My name has made me stronger, more tolerant, and more aware. I now know to not give up so easily on what I believe in, how little or big that belief may be. I have always celebrated every other aspect of my culture and today I embrace my first name. I am braver and ready to conquer the professional world no longer with two names, but with the one that is truly me.


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My Alternative Winter By Tyler Seville Rutgers University Six years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is still struggling to rebuild itself. Almost forgotten districts like Treme, Central City, and the Lower 9th Ward (once vibrant and supportive communities with distinct cultures,) still only halfheartedly shine in the faces of its residents. These areas hold some of the oldest Black churches in America, the birth of Jazz music as well as one of a kind cuisine and act as symbols of the battle for human rights for over 173 years. Yet since August 29, 2005, only 1/3 of New Orleans’ public schools and medical health facilities have reopened. Furthermore in the Lower 9th Ward, 3/4 of the housing has not been rebuilt and 4/5 of its residents are not able to return/restore their homes. Over winter break, I and 11 other members of Rutgers University (Alternative Breaks) visited this region to see what we could do to help these communities in need. Working with United Saints 1st Street Recovery Project, my group and I learned a great deal about post-Katrina New Orleans and its efforts to resort itself. The first work day began with a brief history of the United Saints organization by the founder himself, Daryl Kiesow. We were also told that we may find ourselves getting caught up in the mechanics of the hard work but urged us to remember that “there is a face behind each brush stroke, a person in need of help with no one to turn to but you.” Little did I know that these words would be instilled in my mind for the entirety of our week of service. Our days were spent working on the house of a wonderful woman named Ms. Blanca Fuentes. Like most of the community, Blanca was living on a fixed income, simply getting by. As a senior, she had recently lost her husband and was unable to do even the most basic of tasks around the house. As volunteers, we allocated most of our time fixing up the exterior of her home. Some of us worked on the front porch, scraping free of any pre-existing paint chips, while others began to prime the aluminum siding of the entire house. The most difficult portion of this trip was constantly climbing down the 30ft ladders only to move them over 5 ft and climb back up them again. However Spring 2012


even these moments were positive because many of us conquered our fear of heights, even as the ladders swayed in the wind and rain. One of the greatest parts about this trip, and more specifically this project, was how we were able to connect with Blanca. She was constantly around, always smiling engaging us in conversation. Blanca even gave us a little taste of her Honduran cooking, not to mention her fantastic homemade lemonade. Blanca’s house was magical; each and every one of us had the opportunity to make a connection with her. We heard stories, we saw pictures, and we were let into her life with wide open arms and smile I won’t ever forget. Soon it become more than just painting a house. We were helping out a dear friend in need; a friend who even lost her oldest son to Katrina. She was the face behind each brush stroke for each and every one of us. It was this connection that drove us to go above and behind - leading us to pull together and finish painting past our deadline on our very last work day. This experience was life changing, not only for me but for our group and those lives we were able to touch. As a fellow volunteer, I would highly suggest anyone interested in making your winter or spring breaks memorable (as well as meaningful) should look into a program like this. Whether it is administered through your university or inspired by your own initiative, organizations like the United Saints are all over the United States waiting for individuals like yourselves to lend a helping hand. The individual successes that we experienced - conquering fears, expanding comfort zones, creating friendships - all contributed to a greater collective triumph. We combined all of our skills (and quirks!) and realized we all had one fantastic thing in common: an urge to give back to our community be it near or far.


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The Colors of Sound By Wendy Lu University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Part I: People tend to think that when you’re blind, you also can’t hear. Or talk, even. Sometimes when I catch those whispers over my shoulder I feel inclined to tell the whisperers that I’m Helen Keller’s twelve-year-old twin. I know there’s really no point but it’s kind of interesting to sense their astonishment through the silence once they find out I’m just like them. Almost, at least. Now, I’m not a wimp like some of the other guys at my school, but I’m not exactly one of those iron-tough football players either. If there’s one feeling that’s hard for me to deal with, it’s pretending not to care. I remember my very first memory, back when I was three or four and Daddy had been pushing Mama and me on the swing. Back then, I didn’t have to care about anything else, except perhaps going potty and licking ketchup off of my fries. Being with my parents was all I needed to be happy. Then again, that was back when I could still see. You hear about all these people on TV who are going through tough situations like cancer, and sometimes it’s a wonder to me how they have the guts to go public and just talk about their stuff in that way. A couple days ago while I was at school, there was this story on Channel One News covering a teenager with Downey’s Snydrum—I think that’s what it was called—who wrote an article about her condition. She mentioned overcoming challenges and bullying and other things like that. She also said she never felt sorry for herself or wondered “why me?” Somehow I don’t believe that last part, but I don’t know why. Is it because I don’t believe she never once asked God, for a moment, if there had been a mistake? Or is it because I am afraid to believe that I am the one who is, in fact, a coward? I may act like I don’t care around other people, but this fear is my biggest shame of all. I wonder if it’s just me.

Spring 2012


That day, I could just feel everyone’s eyes burning into my back after Channel One was over, and even our advisor Ms. Faust seemed a little uncomfortable for the rest of first period. Her voice got all soft and low whenever I raised my hand and she called out my name, Daniel. I only like it when Sarah says my name, Daniel. Sarah’s my favorite person you see, and if there was ever a perfect princess she’d be the one for me. When I think of her, I think of brown, Fudgesicle eyes and freckles spotted all over her nose like gingerbread crumbs. Her hair color matches mine, and I only know that because we grew up together and even knew each other long before my accident. I don’t remember what I look like, but I remember her. I know I’m only twelve and shouldn’t have any big plans ahead of me yet, but my greatest accomplishment is gonna be marrying Sarah and taking her to the circus for our honeymoon ‘cause she loves animals. Maybe it’s because girls really aren’t that bad, or maybe it’s because Sarah’s special, but I miss her a lot. I’d trade a whole year’s worth of trips to Disney for a new pair of eyes so I could see Sarah again. I would even empty out my pockets for her, and, let me tell you, my pockets have everything. I’ve got Fall Out Boy concert tickets from last month when Dad held me up high in his arms so I could hear the songs better. I also have duck feathers, beer bottle caps, a piece of cashmere from one of Mom’s scarves, and even a little scratch-n-sniff fruit sticker. They—these things—keep me company all the time; when my memories start to get hazy and everything becomes a blur in my mind, my pocket possessions remind me what the world feels like. I don’t feel so dizzy anymore. One of the best moments in my life was when I kissed Sarah for the first time in second grade on the playground and then ran away. The next day, she came up to me and said that cooties couldn’t be too bad if they could make a person feel this bubbly. Three years later, after Sarah found out about my accident and she came to visit me, she whispered in my ear that a kiss from a seeing Daniel was the same as a kiss from a blind Daniel to her, and that the only difference she noticed was that I couldn’t see her. But that was okay, she said, as long as I never forgot her. Sarah’s gone now. Her dad got a new job elsewhere and she had to move last year in one of those big U-Haul trucks, but I know I’ll see her again someday. She used to tell me stories and make me laugh and laugh until my eyes welled up, and I always remembered at that point that if my eyes can’t really do anything at all, at least they can still let me cry. Boys can cry, you know. I cried the day my ex-best friend Robbie told me he couldn’t play with a blind boy


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and that I wasn’t the same Daniel he grew up with. Sarah was the one who told me Robbie wasn’t being mean, that he just didn’t understand. I guess that’s true, but I still don’t want to see Robbie. I haven’t talked to him since that time last year. Sometimes when Nanny’s around and the kids at school are not, I ask Mama to let me take a walk around the playground. I have a strange relationship with the playground. During the day, I hate that place because I can’t see where the other kids are and I always get pushed and shoved around in the dark—literally. But when everybody’s gone—when everything is nothing but quiet—it’s my favorite place to be. I like to sit on one of those tire swings and think about all the things I would say to Sarah if she were here with me. Part II: What I want right now is a glass of ice-cold whole milk, the kind you get from the store in a farm-red carton. I haven’t had milk since I started middle school. I know that’s crazy. I still remember what it tastes like though. It’s hard to forget the taste of milk. It’s not like water and actually has a flavor and a thick, creamy texture. It also fills you up and some of it actually goes through your body, so you don’t need to pee as much or too quickly afterwards. The other thing I like about milk is its color. Sometimes, I forget what my favorite stuffed animals look like or have to make an effort to remember which fruit is yellow or is made up of Christmas colors and I have to ask Mom to remind me, but I’ve always remembered that milk is white. I remember because milk’s the opposite color of what I have to see every day. Do you ever wonder why things are certain colors? Why watermelon happens to be the colors of Christmas, and why penguins are black and white? Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I pretend that the first color I see isn’t black. If I’d had the choice to pick a color to stare at every day, it totally would not have been black. I would have chosen something more visionary—no pun intended—like Kool-aid blue. Or steel metallic. I could pretend that I was a machine, maybe one of the Autobots from Transformers. Boy, a steel metallic world would be awesome. You’d think after a few years of being blind that you’d get used to it. But you never do. Part III: I never told anyone this, but I’m not mad at my ex-best friend Robbie for what he did to me. I’m not. Then again, I wasn’t really “there” when it happened… Spring 2012


like, I wasn’t awake. Mom always said that I decided to take a ‘vacation to outer space’ when it happened, and that in the end my sister Lindsay was the one who went for help. Well, I don’t remember seeing Mars or Pluto, only a black hole. The doctors had told Mom that, with my brain injury, I wouldn’t—I couldn’t—remember anything that happened. But that’s not true. I know it’s weird, but grownups aren’t always right. The thing is I do remember, and I wish I didn’t. Back in fifth grade, Robbie came over to play almost every day. We would snack on the same whole milk and chocolate chip cookies, and Lindsay always yelled at Robbie and me for making milk bubbles and pretending to burp too loudly. Sometimes when Mom wasn’t looking, we’d sneak a couple extra cookies up to our tree house in my backyard. Robbie always brought his toy fire trucks and pick-up trucks and tiny, plastic firemen and his signature baseball bat. We’d jam the trucks together in fatal car crashes and make all the little plastic people explode until we got bored, and then we’d play some baseball—the best sport in the whole world if you ask me. One day when we had school off, Robbie came over for a sleepover. He brought everything—the trucks, the baseball bat, the homework we knew we wouldn’t do. I was the one who suggested a game of baseball, so we herded all the local kids together for a neighborhood showdown. I scored us our first home run of the day. Robbie was the next in line to swing, and there he stood at home base with his favorite metal bat while I stood one step too close to him. The last thing I heard was a solid thud of the metal bat, and then the right side of my head began to throb. I might’ve seen a three-headed alien shouting my name, but that could’ve been three orbiting Saturns for all I knew. I woke up in a hospital bed hours later with bandages wrapped around my head and Mom squeezing my hand. Later, at the foot of my bed, the doctor told her that there was optic nerve damage. I didn’t know what the heck that meant, and I was too tired to care at the time. All I knew was that my eyes were fuzzy and I had a gigantic headache going on inside my brain, but I couldn’t quite tell exactly where. I could make out two people-figures in front of me, but I couldn’t tell who was Mom and who was the doctor. At the foot of my bed was Sarah, the girl I like. She looked scared, and face was flushed. I didn’t want to see her looking at me while I was like this. I tried to turn my head, but it hurt too much. That was the last time I saw anything.


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Robbie never came over after that. Mom wouldn’t let him, and I didn’t run into him again until the next year. I spent months going through something called “therapy,” which was basically lessons to teach me how to do things for myself without any eyesight. I learned to use a cane like an old man and read these bumpy dots called Braille. It was like school, only at the hospital. I hated it so much. It made me so mad that I couldn’t do things that used to be so easy, like walking across the room and making toast. I’d never felt so scared before in my life. I don’t know what I would have done if Sarah hadn’t been there all along. The next time I met Robbie was at the playground in the park. I knew it was him by the sound of his voice; I heard him shout to another guy about giving him his baseball back. He must have seen me right then because he shouted, “Hey Daniel! DANIEL! What’s up, bud?” I cocked my head and smiled widely. I hadn’t heard someone say my name like that—so casual, not cautious–in a long time. I reached out a hand to wave at him, but something about my wave must have looked odd because he was silent at first, and then, “It’s true? My mom told me you couldn’t see.” Silence. “I’m really sorry, Daniel.” “Hey, it’s okay,” I told him. “It takes some getting used to but I’m back now. I…I don’t know if I can play ball but I sure would be good at hide and seek.” I didn’t hear anything, so I said, “Robbie?” “I’m sorry for what happened, Daniel.” Robbie said. “It was an accident.” “I know it was,” I told him. “But it’s okay. I forgive you. We can be friends again.” “No we can’t.” My stomach dropped. “What? Why?” “Daniel, you can’t see. I—I can’t play with a blind boy.” Sneakers kicked the dirt with a thump, thump, and just like that, Robbie ran off. I said Robbie’s my ex-best friend, but he might as well have been my brother. I’ve seen those movies where two guys share spit and call each other family from then on. That was like me and Robbie. And what I’ve learned about families is that you always forgive them no matter what. Well, I’m not mad at Robbie. I’m not. But when I think about what he said, it doesn’t make sense. I feel like I should be the one saying sorry, but for what? For standing too Spring 2012


close to him the day of the baseball game? For suggesting a game of baseball at all? Mom always says it was nobody’s fault, and that if Robbie doesn’t want to play with me then he wasn’t a friend in the first place. Lindsay often says that if it had been her, she would’ve gotten mad at Robbie for not calling or coming to see me in the hospital. She would’ve told him hasta la pasta and found a new friend. Then again, maybe I just miss that truck-jamming, cookie-eating, accidentally-on-purpose burping Robbie too much to be mad.


The Collegiate Scholar

Not all great minds think alike. The Collegiate Scholar is a publication of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) that showcases the poetry, prose and art of our members. NSCS is a college honor society that not only recognizes the academic achievements of our members, but also the dedication and innovation put forth by our members skilled in the arts. The Collegiate Scholar will introduce you to a few of these writers and artists.

The Collegiate Scholar, Spring 2012 The National Society of Collegiate Scholars 2000 M Street, NW Suite 600 Washington, DC 20036 Cover and layouts designed by: Glenn Madigan, NSCS Member, Columbia College Chicago