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OLYMPIA MAGAZINE university high school | edition vii issue i | january 2014 | awakening


LIFE 4- Three Seventeen-Year-Old Musicians

Andrea White

5-Restaurant Reviews

Purnika Selvan Elena Hatib Anne Yu

MUSE 12-Alive






INCITE 8- The Common App: Rejected A Look at the British College Application System

Staphany Hou



14- New


Sparsh Sah

11- Incite INSIGHT

Staff Feature












Amy Zhao

10- What is a Classic?



9- William Shakespeare






16- Footsteps





17- Happy


18- Sleeping with the Fish Amy



19- Another Life Discovery Rithka





STAFF Belana Beeck, Heidi Chen, Alex Dao, Catalina Fernandez, Parmis Ghafelehbashi, Rithka Nair, Sofia Ogunseitan, Amy Santa Maria, Purnika Selvan, Andrea White, Anne Yu, Amy Zhao, Isabelle Zhou


Awakening. What, exactly, does this mean? For the first time, Olympia Magazine’s staff has chosen a theme for this Fall Issue. With new and returning writers and Ms. Kramer as our new advisor, Olympia is headed towards a period of inspiration and success. Honoring this turning point, our writers and photographers explore this theme of awakening over fifteen articles and photography. From trying on creative perspectives, discovering fresh ideas, or exposing novel ways of thinking, this issue brings together Muse, Incite, and Life to stimulate conversations and explorations. Be inspired. Be encouraged. Be awakened.

-Staphany Hou

University High School 4771 Campus Drive, Irvine, CA 92612 Contact Us: (949) 936-7655 Cover font: Nexa Light Header font: Agency FB Cover photo: Sarah Sukardi OLYMPIA welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to edit all submissions for length, grammar, obscenity, factual evidence, and privacy.


Andrea White


Three Seventeen-Year-Old Musicians Lorde

Known for her big, curly, brown hair, young age- only seventeen- and her grounded nature, New Zealand singer and musician Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor, more commonly known as Lorde, is one of the best new artists out there. She was signed to a record company at the age of thirteen but has only recently begun singing-and writingher own songs. Her hit single “Royals” has been wildly popular, receiving over 42 billion views on YouTube. She recently released her first album, titled “Pure Heroine”. Her music reminds many of the popular singer Lana del Rey. Both singers are young, indie, and write melancholy yet catchy lyrics. However, Lorde is more sarcastic than Lana. Lorde’s song “Bravado” criticizes fame, while Lana del Rey’s songs are mostly about love. Though she dislikes fame, Lorde seems to be heading straight towards it.


Seventeen-year-old Jasmine van den Bogaerde, from the U.K., is most known for her cover “Skinny Love” originally by Bon Iver. She learned to play the piano at age seven and began songwriting at age eight. Birdy’s covers “Skinny Love” and “Shelter” have both been played on the TV show “The Vampire Diaries”. She has released two albums, the most recent titled “Fire Within”. Unlike her previous album, “Fire Within” is made up of original compositions. No matter what she sings, Birdy will still retain the haunting quality to her voice that has made her so popular.

Austin Mahone

Austin Mahone’s music is not profound or enlightening. It is however, unabashedly adorable. His songs are peppy, and the lyrics cheerful. He seems to follow the path of the famous/infamous Justin Bieber. Mahone has the ability to utterly charm many of his listeners, just like Justin Bieber. This is essential, because both market towards a very specific demographic: teenage girls. It seems to be working. The seventeen-year-old’s most popular video has over 50 million views on YouTube. His fans have even begun to call themselves Mahonies. His popularity will only increase with his coming 2014 tour.



Restaurant Reviews

Purnika Selvan

Mick’s Karma Bar Unique, delicious, and fresh are three words that come to mind when asked about Mick’s Karma Bar. Mick’s is a fairly new American burger joint located in the Main Plaza near John Wayne Airport. Many have been raving that Mick’s holds OC’s finest and freshest burgers along with their most popular drink, refreshing strawberry basil lemonade. Their enticing menu, which can be seen as soon as you walk through the doors, is beautifully displayed in chalk and consists of a variety of options to choose from, including caffeinated drinks, exotic beverages, breakfast plates, street foods like fish tacos, and a wide selection of burgers. The Karma Burger, the Habanero Burger, and the Karma Swiss Onion Style Burger are just a small selection of unique burgers that they serve. Their burgers are also affordable, ranging from about 5-10 dollars, and are worth every penny. Even though it is just a food counter, there are lots of tables and benches to sit outside and enjoy the wonderful SoCal sunshine we all love. In addition, colorful geometric structures outside surround the food counter and are fun to play on and explore, especially for teens and young children. Near the restaurant is also a man made water structure which is a nice background for taking pictures with friends and family. Its beautiful and unique environment is a nice place to relax and hang out by yourself or with your friends. Contributing to Mick’s positive environment is their staff who are all very welcoming, friendly, and warm to their customers. If you’re lucky, you can even meet the creator Mick himself, who is constantly welcoming old and new guests. Even though right now Mick’s is a small business, it has been gaining popularity with teens and young adults looking for opportunities to try something new and authentic. One visit to Mick’s Karma Bar will have you hooked, for freshness in food is something very hard to find these days. Next time you desire a new place to eat or hang out, visit Mick’s Karma Bar and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.



Urban Plates Urban Plates, a new restaurant established in the Woodbridge community, has been attracting many locals with its well-made cuisines and comfort foods. The restaurant receives clients from every range: you could find teenagers getting a bite to eat there after school (very popular trend with Uni students) or large families having lunch on a relaxing Sunday afternoon. A unique restaurant, Urban Plates offers common dishes such as salad, pizza, and sandwiches, with its own individual flair, setting itself apart from other places like Corner Bakery. Many of Urban Plate’s menu items offer large portions of delicious organic food for under $15; one could say it’s a bang-foryour-buck type of restaurant, especially popular with younger customers. Although the food is simple, it’s masterfully cooked and always tastes fresh. One could even spot the good quality of the food without even seeing them in person! Just check your friends’ instagram photos of their Urban Plate’s dishes and make that judgment for yourself. The restaurant’s warm staff, helpful service, and rustic ambiance is another reason that customers keep coming back. It’s refreshing to see that smaller and lesser-known restaurants in Orange County are receiving more praise than large chain giants such as Panera Bread (although quite delicious too). Hopefully, more OC residents can continue supporting local businesses and newer restaurants as they do for Urban Plates.


Elena Hatib


A n n e Yu

Kickin’ Crab This little restaurant is located in Diamond Jamboree and serves assorted types of seafood. The setting is decorated in nets, nautical props, and ceiling decor with wooden boats which give you a on-thebeach sort of feel. One interesting fact that sets them apart from other standard restaurants is that you can choose to eat with your hands. You are provided with a bib and a clean covered table. The prices would be considered on pricing. It is a casual dining price that ranges from 30$50$ per bucket depending on the different combos. Once you order what you want, the lovely staff will

bring all of it in a bucket and all you need to do is dump the food on the table and devour them by hand. Sanitation wipes are provided next to the sink for your convenience. Overall the entire experience is very interesting and unique. I would say that just to experience this type of feasting should not be skipped. As for the food, you can customize the seasonings and spice level so it all depends on your individual preference. I was so happy with the overall experience of this place that I plan to take my friend here the next time I visit.



Staphany Hou

The Common App: Rejected

It’s fall. Or perhaps it’s winter. No matter – the only season that really matters for a nearly quarter of all high school students in the nation is college application season. But as American students are busy filling in the Common Application, the UC Application, and those pesky schools that refuse to use the Common Application, students across the pond are experiencing the same stress of writing, rewriting, editing, and submitting applications. Maybe. Introducing the Universities and Colleges Admission Service, commonly known as UCAS. It’s the British version of the Common Application, but it’s way better. Here’s why: 1. Is the Common App really “common”? Nope. In addition to the Common App essay, each college has its own supplemental prompts, with some schools (such as Brown and Columbia) requiring up to four additional essays. Moreover, public schools and some private ones don’t even use Common App. UCAS works for every college and university in the UK. The application just asks for one essay – and they really mean it! None of the British schools have supplemental prompts asking “Why


*insert school name*?” or “Where’s Waldo?” 2. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford. Pick one. Can’t choose? Well, you don’t have to! Here in the good old USA, seniors can apply to as many schools as they want. The average number tends to hover around 10 schools, but many students apply to more. UCAS sets the limit at five schools and no more, and students are only allowed to apply to either Oxford or Cambridge. Oxbridge doesn’t need to worry about yield rates or waitlists or early action programs – they know that if you’re accepted, you will attend. Admission rates are higher (not our measly 7% rates in the U.S.), and students only need to focus on five schools. 3. According to U.S. News, the average application fee is $38.39. Top universities like the Ivy Leagues cost around $80, while Stanford leads the list at $90. And don’t forget the cost of sending SAT Scores ($11.25 per school), ACT scores ($12 per school), and transcripts ($5 per school). UCAS charges 12£ ($20) for one school or 23£ ($38) for all five schools, and UK students are not required to send in standardized testing scores or other official grades.


4. Recommendation letters are every teacher’s delight and really take no time at all – right? Now let’s make two teachers and a counselor each write a letter of recommendation! Not with UCAS. British students only need to ask for one “reference” from, preferably, a teacher who knows them best. 5. After submitting to Common App schools, each school sends out a confirmation email and allows you to set up an account to track your application and, by April 1st, check your application result. For most students, that comes out to be around 10 different accounts to sign into and create usernames and passwords for. UCAS keeps track of all your applications for you. One username and one password logs you into its tracking system to see which schools have made an offer (their term for acceptances) and which schools have not. UCAS will even send you an email as soon as your application status at any of your 5 schools has changed.

Staphany Hou

6. Oh no. I’m not going to get into any of the schools I applied to. Common App says: too bad. We can’t help. UCAS offers “Extras,” which allows you to apply to a sixth university if you have been denied from all five original choices. If you don’t get an offer this time, or you decline the offer, you can continue to make another UCAS Extra choice until you get an offer that you accept. So, next time Common App is down again, take comfort in the knowledge that at least someone else in the world is having a much less stressful college application process than you are. Thank goodness it’s always raining there.

Amy Zhao

William Shakespeare William Shakespeare is generally accepted to be one of the most widely read (and quoted) playwrights of his time, among other popular playwrights such as Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson, and Thomas Dekker. Born in Stratford-Avon in 1564, he joined an acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, when he was twenty-four years old. ‘Four years later, Shakespeare wrote his first play, Henry VI. After firmly establishing his reputation as a playwright with the success of Henry VI, Shakespeare went on to write seventeen comedies, ten tragedies, ten histories, and various poems and twenty-eight sonnets. The most famous of these works are A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado about Nothing, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, The Tempest, King Lear, and Othello, which have been translated into at least eighty languages, performed a staggering number of times (even in this modern era), and adapted into movies and parodies. In these plays, Shakespeare introduced over 1,700 words to English, such as “compromise,” “bedroom,” and “dawn.” He also contributed much to theater,

including character development, relevant props, and explosive on-stage action (such as fight scenes in Romeo and Juliet). These elements are typical of modern plays, but in Shakespeare’s time, many playwrights made their characters flat, props in productions were often unnecessary and only there to fill up space, and on-stage action was often minimal (due to pervasive use of dialogue). Furthermore, Shakespeare’s influence on modern writers such as Herman Melville (Moby-Dick) and Charles Dickens can be seen through the number of Shakespearean quotations and various Shakespearean devices, such as soliloquies and formal stage directions. Shakespearean quotes also appear as titles of classics, e.g. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (“O Brave New World, That has such people in it” from The Tempest) and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (“it is a tale, Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing” from Macbeth). “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them” (Twelfth Night).



Sparsh Sah

What is a Classic?

Every high school student in America (even if he or she happens to be a mendacious fop who denies this) has wondered why he or she has to read ‘Literature’ at school in order to receive a passing mark and at home in order to become a ‘well-rounded’ person. Read books that entertain you, the world tells us, and you will be a boor; but read Literature, and you shall attain the elusive grasp upon erudition singular to apostles of the Classics. But what is a Classic? Is a Classic a classic because of its higher-emotional explorations? because it captured the attention of its audience when it was released? because it is entertaining? I would suggest that a ‘Classic’ is just a book that has become popular because many people have noticed that it uses literary elements effectively to convey a popular (meaning ‘resonant with the people’ and not ‘in common use’) theme. In any case, I find it of secondary importance to evaluate the actual qualifications of a Clas-


sic. I would instead focus on what it means to read. There are three types of ‘reading’, which approximate the act of actually Reading. Practitioners of the first variety of inferior reading read simply to obtain information that they feel obligated to retrieve; this information could be the ingredients of a food or the most effective addition to the first sentence of the last paragraph of the rough draft of an essay that may contain errors. The second type of inferior reader rushes through an entire book without actually absorbing its content; she boasts that she has finished a 500-page cudgel of a novel within a week, yet she has not really gained anything from the process that the first type of reader could not have gained. The third kind of inferior reader fools himself into thinking that annotating a book and tearing its pages with simulated passion somehow heighten the experience of reading; he means well, but his throes are abortive at best and pathetic at worst.

Sparsh Sah


For, I think that the only true Reader is he who reads a book for pleasure, enjoying each plot line, returning to relevant passages, annotating only to clarify relationship. The Reader has gained something meaningful from the experience, be that a better understanding of human nature or even simply a new facet to his writing

style. Whatever he gains, it must be significant to him, and unique to the literature in question. The encounter must move him or at least cause contemplation. There is no such thing as Literature with a capital ‘L’; there is only such thing as a Reader with a capital ‘R’. Classics are not functions of value derived from Literature; Classics are functions of value derived by Readers.


The Top Six of Modern Libary’s Top Classics (With Commentary by Staff)

1. Ulysses James Joyce’s magnum opus, Ulysses is an enormous book which allegorizes the famed tale of the Odyssey within its hallowed pages. For one to say to have read the book constitutes major bragging rights. 2. The Great Gatsby The token book which every Uni student has read sophomore year, the tale of Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby, and Daisy Buchanan never fails to astound with its insurmountable depiction of decadence and depravity in roaring 20’s New York. 3. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man This classic is by James Joyce of Ulysses fame, but much thinner (and thus hopefully, more palatable and a good introduction to the Irish Joyce.) It also abounds with allusions and is a classic kunstellroman-- follow Stephen Daedalus as he discovers his ~artistic identity!~

believe to be truth. Read this book. And when you’re done, read it again. 5. Brave New World Huxley’s novel explores the implications of a society crushed not by “deprivation... but passivity and egotism.” Brave New World is ponderous, looming, profound: in short, the seminal dystopian novel. 6. The Sound and the Fury This stream-of-consciousness novel by William Faulkner is arguably the pinnacle of senior-year English at Uni-- and rightfully so. Divided into three parts, the first a “tale told by an idiot” (see that allusion to Macbeth?) and the next three exploring varied modes of storytelling, this novel is nothing short of revolutionary.

4. Lolita Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial and stunningly virtuostic novel tells the tale of Humbert Humbert and the girl he takes fascination with: Dolores Haze, our eponymous Lolita. Perhaps its content is shocking, perhaps its language fragmented-- but each word is lavished with exquisite grace and beauty which you cannot help but



Catalina Fernandez

Alive A girl with a knee-length dress sits on a train-station bench, holding a small suitcase that, one can only assume, carries the essentials. She seems to be alone, sitting on the bench of this train-station, as if waiting for something. It is not exactly clear what she is waiting for. She simply sits, legs crossed, hands folded, and stares at the train tracks. It has been minutes; still she sits in the same position with the same stare. She does not yawn, does not look down at her watch. Nor does she stand up to wander the station, or even turn her head. She simply sits, legs crossed, hands folded, and stares at the train tracks. It has been hours. Still, the girl remains unchanged. The train station is as lifeless as before. In fact, everything has remained the same. The originally white brick walls which over time, turned beige, are as unappealing as before. The floor, with its fossilized slab of concrete, imbedded with flavor-less gum, hurried footprints, coffee stains, and other unrecognizable substances, has not altered. Even the lighting is as dim and malfunctioning as before. Indeed, everything has remained the same. It has been days, and yet, nothing has transformed in the slightest way. The girl sits in the same position, simply sitting, legs crossed, hands folded, staring at the train tracks. She is still alone and looks as if she is waiting for something. She does not show any emotion, nor sign of frustration. She is as unaffectionate as a robot. She breathes, stable breaths yet, she does not show sign of life. Her eyes blink, solely because she is made to. She is alive but, she does not live. She is physically present but is not noticeable. Her ears, they hear, but do not listen. Her hands and fingers, feel, though she does not. The girl is hardly here on Earth, yet she has been there for what seems to be a long time. What is it that she is waiting for? Why does she not stand up, look around? She seems to be alone, purposeless. Why does she not leave the station? Her body allows her to do so, why does she not respond in accordance to it? Why is it that she simply sits, legs crossed, hands folded, and stares ahead at the train tracks?


It has been years. Still, nothing has changed. What does she want? Her objective is as unclear as before. Does she wish to leave, to stay, to escape, to take part? What does she want? It has been years! Yet, she does not seem to notice or even care. The train has still never passed by her on those train

tracks and no other person can be seen for miles. Surely, away from this station, the pattern of life has progressed for others. All have come and gone, lived and died. There have been laughs, tears of joy. There have been cries, tears of desperation. Some have loved, they have dreamed. Some have hated, they have lost hope. People have lived. More years have passed. The station, unaffected in appearance, now possesses a distinction, andthough she still sits alone on that same bench, her countenance is recognizably and surprisingly, different. Her eyes, glisten with a certain twinkle, withholding some sensation of unknown happiness. Suddenly, she moves her head, and though her eyes have always been open, she looks. She stands, wandering the station, feeling the walls, stepping on the floor. The girl, who once seemed to be alone, is now surrounded by countless amounts of people. The train station is now well-lit and has become a center of great movement. The shadow of the girl, who once simply sat, legs crossed, hands folded, staring at the train tracks, disappears. She listens to the train whistle, the sound of the approaching train on the tracks. She can hear, truly hear, the voice of the ticket agent at the station, the laughs of the children, the political disagreements of old men, the complaints of the adolescents, the joy of families. She can see. She sees the collection of color in the world, couples conversing over cups of coffee, children playing tag, the busyness of passengers running from one side to the other; she can see and feel that joyful chaos, the human essence. She is now alive. All those years, of utter hopelessness now fade into that of another life, a different person. She skips, dances, overjoyed. She is no longer an outcast, she is not afraid to take part in the world and experience everything that it provides. As she stands there, in the center of all the human mayhem, she catches a glimpse of the train’s wheels, beginning to pass by her on the tracks she had always longed for. With that, she rushes back to the bench, grabs her once-meager suitcase, that is now full with clothes, photographs, journals, personal belongings of her new life, and searches for her train ticket. Restless to find it, she realizes it has been in her hand all along. Relieved and surprised, she runs to the train, greets the station employee, hops on aboard and smiles. She is on the very same train, she had always hoped for, even if her goal of embarking on a new path had not previously been apparent to her. It is then, as she looks back at the bench that she had once sat on, a reminder of the lingering negativity she had resided with, as the train moves farther and farther away, that she realizes. She is finally alive.


Andrea White

An April Pond

rink, as often as I could, and when it was winter I would skate on this very same pond. Ice-skating was my solace.

Winter clung to April like a child desperately clings to his mother on the first day of kindergarten.

My mother always told me to wake up and realize that a girl like me could never get a college education. She used to tell me, “We’re stuck here. Might as well accept it!”

I was well aware I was pushing the boundaries of luck. I had no money, and little training; all I had was a lonely frozen pond. And yet, I skated. It was my junior year of high school. I wanted and needed a college education, but with a deadbeat dad and a perpetually drunk mother, I had neither the grades nor the money. But at least I could skate. From the ages of seven to eleven, I was constantly at the ice skating rink. That was before all the problems at home started. I learned to Waltz Jump, camel spin, and the value of a well-calculated risk. When I no longer had lessons, I still went to the

“You need to wake up!” was my trained response. “You’re the one ruining my dreams.” And the argument went on. But it was okay. In May, there was an ice skating competition for a scholarship to the local community college. With that scholarship and a part-time job, I could earn the degree that would set me free. Maybe I could major in business or editing. I wouldn’t mind having a nice, stable, cubicle job. Or perhaps I would become an ice skater. A breeze ruffled my hair as I pulled out of my turn. My dreams were wrapped tightly around me. I was finally warm. Belana Beeck

Through Her Eyes She wakes to birds chirping on the meadow, to airplanes roaming the air, to giants walking on the grass. She looks down at the cold, damp dirt, and reaches out to touch the long, heavy strands of green.

She is old now, bending over the grass, her leaves crinkly and old, her trunk crispy and jagged. Once a tiny seed lost in the strands of grass, is now an old tree whose never ending branches stretch out protectively, providing happiness and shade for those who are around.

Time goes by and she grows. As she grows tall she notices that the heavy strands are nothing but weightless tufts of grass, slipping from her reach no longer close enough for her to stroke. As she grows wide, she discovers that the airplanes are gorgeous butterflies occasionally landing on her arms, showing off their intricate designs. The giants are deer often stopping curiously around her, and eating the grass below. More time passes and her body fills with joy as she discovers more things about her new world. She looks up to the sky, tentatively reaching for the silky clouds in an effort to grab hold of them. The sun surrounds her, warming her long, lean body.



New York Dreamer A man, gray and dull in the sea of New York City, comes home to his unorganized, messy flat in the 5th level of a low-rise apartment building. A scrawny black cat hisses menacingly at his entry. “What, am I late or something?” he responds in a monotone. The cat meows away, showing its stark disappointment by shooting its black, matted tail high in the air and raising its snout at him. “Hi to you too, snooty” the man growls. He plops himself down on his dirty green couch and reflects upon the mundane, boring, unsuccessful day he had experienced at his office. An utterly sick feeling encroaches into his growing stomach as he lay on the couch. He could potentially have so much more than he does now; so much more than a hateful cat, a growing beer belly, a job that bores him to death, and not to mention a balding head. How on earth did he end up working at a dysfunctional port-a-potty manufacturing office after he had graduated with honors from Princeton University? Surely this was a nightmare; a nightmare that was going to end… right now! He snaps his fingers, but nothing changes. His young, peppy colleagues dislike him a lot, not only because he brings an incredibly sorrowful aura into the office, but also because he refuses to connect with anyone but himself during work, after work, and before work. He is just a downer of a man; a depressed, hopeless downer. After he decides not to go the gym after thirty minutes, the man slumps over to his moldy kitchen and pops open a frozen hot pocket that he stuffs in his mouth. A cockroach scurries out of the small refrigerator seconds before he closes it. The man shrugs and walks away instead of attempting to pointlessly stomp the ground to kill it. He couldn’t care less. All he can think about is his glorious past; from the moment he had opened that acceptance letter from Princeton in his old mansion with his nit-picky parents. That moment he stepped into the lush courtyards of his new school, blinded by the joy of his success. That moment where he stepped on to the podium in front of his undergraduate college class, shouting out the words of success and accomplishment that were over-cherished by his old arrogant mind… The man suddenly awakes from his


Sofya Ogunseitan

daydream, shaking his head and his dull blue eyes finally expressing an emotion other than depression; pride. Later that night, as the man slips into his scratchy mattress on the splintery floor, he opens his eyes to a new world that he can only access in his dreams: his passion. His eyes burn with excitement and desire as he pulls his warm, fuzzy blanket over his baldhead. A smile forms on his hairy face the second he closes his eyes…. The man wakes up in a world so much brighter than New York City, yet at the same time it is New York City. He is a different man than he is in reality; no longer is he a gray, soulless flop. A rainbow of color radiates from his skin alone. His peachy skin, flushing cheeks, luminous blue eyes, flashing white teeth, full pink lips, sculpted, muscular body, and his dashing brunette hair give him the confidence of a thousand young soldiers off to fight their first battle. Random strangers recognize this young, charming man from something he can’t put his finger on, but when he walks into a crowded bookstore and sees his name plastered on an array of best-selling books, he jumps for joy. “I’ve done it! I’ve done it!” he gleams. A feeling of certainty washes over the man’s mind as he expresses his bubbling joy. He confidently saunters back out into to the street towards his apartment. To his surprise, his flat had been completely remodeled to look like the home of king. The wooden floor is polished and the walls are painted thoroughly with beige. The glass dining table sits in the center of the living room, giving the suite a classy touch. The spacious kitchen was clean and fresh with fruit bowls lying about. His bed is now a high California King with golden covers and beautiful pillows. Pictures are displayed about the suite of him with a family of four including himself, a gorgeous young lady, and two adorable children, one girl, one boy with gentle complexions and soft brown hair like his. But the most exciting part of all is seeing his home office, without the cramped cubicles or the obnoxious yapping of his colleagues sounding throughout the whole office. He has one room to himself, a pen and a notepad sitting on his dark wooden desk ready for him to start creating stories and characters with his imagination, and he has all the time in the world… When his alarm goes off, that smile that has been on his face all night disappears and a mask of depression and sorrow brings the gray back. The only reason he is able to carry on in his gray life is because of the short dreams that keep his pillage of hope alive in his soul that maybe one day that colorful dream will become his reality.


Alex Dao

The End is Here A burst of thunder caused my awakening A crack and a boom, ever so frightening I emerged from the tortuous roots of an ancient tree Surrounding it, signs of destruction and debris I had no choice but to run For I feared the end had begun A sudden pounding began to take shape Rushing from behind, as I tried to escape It lunged at me, I was certain of death We rolled over into the stream, knocking me out of breath Instead of death I should have seen I had awakened to find a machine A vicious alarm clock with its painful beating Signaled the end and the fleeting Of my sleep My precious sleep

things i know It is during these times when The world is sinking and your hands are swollen with clouds, the ground tumescent with rain, that I know you most. Yesterday you said something banal like “I waited to eat that, praise my restraint!� And I did. Because you looked lovely. Were lovely. But now. When your hands sink into mine and I feel your fingers so secure I hold you and am sinking and so the world is too. And so is the world. And I know you. (Or at least you make me think it so.) It is here I have seen your face in the Beethoven sonatas I play to drown out silence. It is here I sit and pen something for you, perhaps not a poem. Frustratedly. And so I write, though I know not, know not what of. I can only see you.



Heidi Chen

Footsteps I can’t remember the last time I stood still.

sanctuary of dreams and turned life into a minefield.

For an eternity I’ve been running - running up an endless staircase that snakes across a vacuum of space and spirals up into a starless sky, pavement crumbling under my footsteps.

Thinking back, I suppose the shadow was always there. But before, its smoky form was still attached to my conscience, both dreaming and awake, because the possibility of failure was accepted somewhere in my heart. As I drifted farther away from my old self, the shadow stretched longer and wider, taking form as its own sovereign being. From the point where I stand, new avenues branch out in all different directions. I hurriedly check to confirm that my original path still stands; and there it is, as pale and desolate as it always was, an endless stretch of stairs leading upwards. Yet around me each path is so diverse, with slopes that lead down as well as up and slides that quicken a weary trek. Most amazing of all, people and color flock the new pathways, filling my once-empty world with sound and life. I take a step up my original path, and everything changes once more. A new branch appears in every direction, with more roads leading off from each. So many choices I had never discovered, so many joys that I might never have witnessed if not for my shadow.

I’m so weary that I stumble across every new step that crosses my path - until I glance behind and the terrifying image of my pursuer imbues my spirit with a vigor that transcends my physical limits. Long tendrils of shadow grasp at my ankles and struggle to drag me back into the black mass as I desperately scramble up the next flight of stairs; behind me, the cloud marches on relentlessly, its footsteps dull and heavy. Every day I wake up from this dream in terror, just as the darkness drags me into its milky form, crying out from a pain I cannot feel. Yet as soon as my eyes fly open, I cannot remember my dream: only a cold, detached fear and the sense that if I were to fall asleep again, I would once more be plunged into the realm of a shadow. I used to think that dreams were my refuge from reality. I could shape a world to the fancies of my subconscious, stretch the boundaries of my imagination, without ever having to worry about the outcome. I wonder if that is still true. And now my dreams are where I run from the unknown darkness that lurks behind me, and my reality is where I pretend not to notice. The shadow that dominates the conscious of my dreams is like the cloud of uneasiness that always lurks in the corner of my waking mind. I run because I’m terrified of finding out what that unknown feels like. I gaze up at the faint thread of the path miles above my head. What I would give to leap across that road to the beat of my heart, footsteps barely skimming the surface. And just as I mull over this dream within a dream, I materialize mere steps ahead of the shadow, back on my derelict ribbon. I turn and face the shadow that has haunted me for so long: the shadow that has stolen my


Strange, that embracing my darkest fear could yield such a radiant world. My staircase seems so mangled and intimidating in comparison, stark and lonely. The constant progress in its journey sacrifices time, energy, freedom, and emotion for the single purpose of constant, single-dimensional success. Meanwhile, the shadow has disappeared from my sight. But I feel it where it was always prowling, at the back of my mind; the difference is that now it rests peacefully. Now that light and color have returned to my dreams, I see it every so often trailing behind me, its distorted silhouette matching its footsteps to mine. My eyes flutter open as my alarm goes off, taking in the ceiling of my bedroom - but this time I remember my dream. I will always remember the second half whose footsteps opened my eyes to the brilliant avenues of both my dreams and my reality: the half who created a peaceful refuge at the corner of my heart where the shadow lies.


Parmis Ghafelehbashi

Happy It was a cold morning in February and the clocks struck 7. I rolled out of my bed, stood up, and stretched in the direction of the sun peeking its warm golden light over the mountain. The entire meadow was glowing under the warmth of the spreading sun though the wind carried the last traces of a cold night. I go out for a walk every day and every day is a new adventure. All around the sights and sounds of the morning begin to take effect. Very few people are out in this time of the morning. They wander in a sleepy haze, yearning to be back in the sweet comforts of their own bed. I take this route every day and see familiar faces every time I walk. I have never really paid attention to my surrounding before. I would just quickly walk by with my hands in my pockets and my face slightly peeking out of my red beanie. It is a peculiar day today, my hands are by my side instead of hiding in my pockets and I feel the cold wind dancing across my hand, it seems as if the blurry lines of the morning are finally taking a definite shape. I notice things I wouldn’t usually notice, my smile is wider, and I am more awake than usual. I notice the cracks on the sidewalk that continue all the way down along the sidewalk, the bark of the dog next door and my neighbor watering her plants.

my footsteps echoed in my ear. Now I stand in the exact position I stood 8 years ago. I speed up my footsteps and walk in the sand that lays the foundation of the park. I walk across the field my shoes in my hand and the wind blowing through my hair as I feel the rush of it against my skin. I sit by the bench and across from me sat a family. Their laughter filled up the whole space, they looked free from all the problems in the world, the girls’ hair was loosely held by a hairband, her smile wide and her brother laughing by her side. All around me people were laughing, running, playing and talking. For that one moments everything was right. The bright sunshine is filtered through the leaves blowing in the breeze. The world is quiet for a minute and I see was I have been too ignorant to see before. It is not simply about getting by, as Angelo Scola said, the destination is a happy life, an accomplished life that doesn’t end with death but with eternal life. I want to live in peace beside the people I love, and that is happiness.

Now that I take the time to look back I see her everyday doing the same thing, her pink floral dress and the pink ribbon in her hair. I used to avoid having to talk to her, I would quickly walk past pretending as if she wasn’t there but today is different. I walk by her house and start a conversation for the very first time. Her face is a study in art, high cheekbones, subtle makeup that accentuates her fine bone structure, her small petite nose and eyes that sparkle with humor, hope and secrets that only an older woman would know. Her smile is pleasant and I notice how happy she is, she talks of her adventures as if it was yesterday. My conversation with her leaves me with a smile as I walk away. As I continue on my way, I come across the playground I stumbled upon once as a kid. I remember walking home one day, hot, dusty and tired. I looked up from the ground after walking with my head down and saw this park from across the street. I suddenly forgot everything, held my backpack by my hand, while the steady thump of



Amy Santa Maria

Sleeping with the Fish “Do you need any help? Would it be okay if I brought flowers?” Toni asked. Joey always sprinted home at the end of the school day. He flew by so fast, trying to get to someplace in a hurry. Toni finally summoned the courage and asked him why he was in such a rush. He had answered that his mother could not take care of herself, and she needed constant attention. “Of course, Mother enjoys new faces. In fact, she’d love to have you for dinner,” Joey replied. She went to visit Joey’s mom after school. They ran to his house together, hair plastered back against the chilly October wind and their breath turning white in the air. When they got to the front door, Joey held it open for her and led her into the hallway. “Follow me.” The dark hall stretched to the back of the house. Ceiling lights flickered above them, humming softly. She shuffled awkwardly behind him, wondering why he had become so quiet. He ushered her into another room and told her to take her coat off. “Mother doesn’t have a taste for coats.” She would have asked him what he meant by that, but Joey had silenced her and guided her towards a set of stairs. Wary, she climbed up. A soft, aqua glow was dancing across the ceiling. An enormous pool occupied both floors of the house. The stench of salt and something fishy burned her eyes. “An indoor pool? It’s huge…” she marveled. Joey was silent. “What’s going on? I thought we were going to see your mom?” He took a step towards her. “Quit messing around, Joey.” Joey put a finger to his lips. “Shush. You’ll wake her up.” “Wake who up? This is a pool. You’re insane.” Toni could feel her heart beating rapidly. Something wasn’t right. “Sorry, I just remembered that I have to be home soon.” She tried to make a move and run down the stairs when suddenly she felt a cold, wet hand grab her ankle and jerk her backwards. Pain seared through her leg. She fell down and screamed. Toni twisted her head back. A pale, ghastly creature had swum up to the surface. It had


long, matted hair that draped over its deep-set eyes and trailed down its spiny back. Rough patches of skin were flaking off of its arms and shoulders. Its filmy eyes were the colour of rotten eggs. Where ears should have been instead were long, spiky fins. Shockingly, it had a lower body of a fish and webbed hands. Its scales were a dull brown colour. Its wide maw was gaping ravenously and displayed rows of pointed fangs and a black, split tongue. Blood from its last meal stained its lips and ran down its jawline. Its claws dug deeper into her skin and drew blood. “What is that?” Toni shrieked. She kicked and screamed to no avail; the monster’s grip just became tighter and tighter, pulling her closer to the edge of the water. “She’s my pet. Isn’t she wonderful? She might be a mermaid, I think. I purchased her from a poacher in Australia. Unfortunately her hunger for flesh is never-ending. Would you believe that she ate my old folks the first week I got her?” Joey tutted and shook his head. “Joey, you have to help me!” Tears streamed from Toni’s panic stricken face. He tilted his head. “But, why? I thought you agreed to come over for dinner. And it appears that dinner is served.” Joey placed the heel of his boot against Toni’s forehead. Her eyes widened. “Stop! Please, don’t,” she begged. She latched on to his other leg. Joey scowled. “Can’t you see she’s getting impatient?” Indeed, the monster had begun to hiss and screech, clawing at Toni and trying to pull her away from the edge. “Get off!” Joey tried to shove her into the pool, but he lost his balance and landed on his back. Toni tried once more to climb out of the water. She pried away the creature’s hand, losing her shoe, and pulled on Joey’s leg. Toni yanked herself up and crawled away from the pool. The grotesque mermaid stretched her arm out and over the edge, grasping for a victim and howling. She managed to catch Joey’s foot, and dragged him away as he screamed and thrashed about. Toni watched on in horror as he choked on the salty water and was completely pulled underneath. She scrambled up, turned back once just in time to notice the water reddening, and then dashed out of the house.

Rivka Nair

Another Life Discovery In the year of 2013, technology has allowed astronauts from planet Earth to travel to other planets. After a year of traveling, the astronauts have landed on a dark blue planet, where they have found funny looking creatures. (This is the planet that made Earth what it is today, in the year 3000.) Astounded that there was life on another planet, they decided to observe secretly. The astronauts proceeded to analyze this new race’s anatomy, features, unusual abilities, and personality, as well as their environment and lifestyle. They have recorded all the information in this journal entry found by the government. Journal Entry: These creatures surprisingly consists of a basic humanoid structure, but they can choose different colors for their eyes and hair, features which include squiggly hands, tentacles, or any kind of hands, and how many eyes, legs, or hands they want. It is like as if they get the choice to be exactly like they want to look aslike, but we humans do not get that chance. These creatures are 7foot 7 feet tall giants, and anyone shorter than that is considered abnormal. They have bizarre skills that would blow the minds of humans on Earth. They can work 1000 times faster than us, and; they can fly by themselves with the help of their advanced technology. This technology that makes them fly is a special chip which is inserted inside their feet which is always activated which explains how they can fly anytime. They have the ability to make anything cut of any materials. For example, with a material such as sand, they can make a huge mansion or skyscraper with all the items they want made of sand. It would be very stable and comfortable for them; just like living in a real house. (I wish that humans could have that ability.) These aliens have an interesting, but similar personality to humans on Earth. However, every single one of the aliens acts the same which makes them seem robotic which differs from humans. They are all very caring, entertaining, but strict in following their rules. As we found out by accident, these aliens are intrigued and act hostile to us as they have never seen humans before. This meeting happened when one of our rovers accidently went away from our hiding place and one of the aliens found it and tracked us down. Then

their government apprehended us and threatened us, but we escaped after a huge distraction which unfortunately included us destroying their roads. After this incident they are on high security alert, but we were still observing them from our spaceship. The species are also very smart (smarter than humans), determined, and excellent with technology. Their exceptional skills at technology have made their world very advanced as proved by their advanced security system which has lots of advanced spy technology that can track down anything. It is a major surprise that it has not yet tracked down our spaceship. Their environment is unique, yet slightly corresponding to the Earth’s environment, and their lifestyle is straightforward and predictable. First of all, the environment is divided into two huge continents. The first continent is filled with skyscrapers, and touch- screen houses. This part of the planet is what the future for Earth will look like. The touch screen houses are the aliens’ houses. These houses work when a person chooses a special button and the house will fold and go to the ground. This technology is very amazing as it can protect your home completely. It works like a computer screen. The skyscrapers and buildings contain hospitals, government facilities, offices, and more. The second continent is mostly nature and where all the unusual animals are. This continent is the “vacation place”. Here everyone goes to take vacations, entertainment, or to celebrate. There are tropical beaches, summer touchscreen houses which are their vacation homes, and it is always summertime over there. The environment is very neat and well kept. Solar rays they get from the sun operate all the technology. Everyone on the planet uses flying spaceships to travel to this continent whenever they want to. As we have observed their life more closely, they have to follow a strict day to day schedule in life. All work starts at 7 AM and must be done by 6 PM, and everyone can have a job of their own choice such as a cop or a doctor. These creatures are very intelligent, superior with technology, and have an unusual, but an efficient, well-mannered environment. With all the information the astronauts have gathered, they decide to present it to the scientific community. If the blue planet’s inhabitants allow an alliance with Earth after clearing up the previous misunderstanding, then they may advance our technology and create a more efficient environment. Life can be easier and entertaining for Earth.




awakening // poetry // prose // reviews // oc’s only student-run publication

Olympia Magazine- January 2014  
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