Shifter | Volume No. 1 | Issue No. 2

Page 1

Volume 1 | Issue 2 | December 2020 by Shifter Magazine — Shifter Media LLC Underlying text, images and works are contained within works. Author(s) and Contributor(s) media includes photography, artwork and writings, contributors own rights to their work. Copyright © 2020 Shifter Media LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any forms or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical means, without permission in writing from the publisher. Exceptions for usage — brief quotations in a book review or other non-commercial methods within copyright law. Front Cover by Federica Merante. Publication Design in Adobe InDesign by Victor Martinez-Rivera and Federica Merante. Digital edition — December 2020. Publisher: Shifter Media LLC. Contact:

WELCOME TO THE ISSUE This issue is all about the middle point where mental health and education meet. For our second issue, we decided to center the theme around education and its effects on mental health. As we face the trials and tribulations that have come with the global COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to document what it’s like being a student or educator during this time. With creative content ranging from poetry highlighting adolescence and the realizations that come along with it, personal essays from educators and compelling visual content full of color, this issue was a work-in-progress for months. We had initially set out to release this issue in August 2020 — in the midst of COVID curfews and new safety guidelines — but timing got the best of us. With a new semester beginning and more responsibilities piling up, this issue kept getting delayed due to the impacts of education on our own mental health. As a gift to ourselves and our supporters, we decided to release this issue at the end of 2020. So, what’s next for us? We encourage you to take this time to relax, recharge and give yourself some well-deserved rest. See you in 2021!

Artwork by Moadlc

03 05 09 10 11 13 14 15

Editor’s Letter

Lawrence Lewis’s Photos

Amy Plenn - All support specialists are currently helping other visitors Valerie Galarza — Speaking Spanish Like the Gringa Alina Alvarez - The Room

KKoral - Sin Pensarlo

Daniela Hernandez - My Immigrant

Victor Martinez - Are all my friends ok?

19 21 25 34 32 39 40 42

Ronei sha M a gl oi re’s Photos

Neida Rivera - Salud Mental en la Educación Grace Lanier - Teenage Depression

Kristen Unico - More Than Four Walls

Monica Orozco - A Love Letter to Music Education

Moadlc - “The Impostor: (SIN)drome”

Daniela Hernandez - Órdenes de mamá, traducidas

Catherine Le - Dear Self


I would like to start this letter by apologizing — this issue is overdue and from behalf of the entire team, I apologize. Keeping it real — as an upcoming and small business, we’re still creating a structure

around our lives and around the twenty million other responsibilities. The past few months have been a whirlwind because on top of

working on this issue, we were working on other tricks up our sleeves. And we’re finally ready to share them with you all!

The vision of Shifter is to create a collective space for the queers, for the freaks and the fashion lovers; for BIPOC folks, for LGBTQ+

folks. We want to continue growing and expanding our space and energy. This required time, structure and personnel — which led to the construction and publication of our website, our officialization as a company and the expansion and structure of our team.

Shifter is officially hosting a digital spot — which can be found at — where you can find our issues, our latest Instagram posts and digital entries.

Shifter is more than a magazine — it’s a space. It’s a collective. And we want to do this right, so we did our research

and gathered our documents and we have officially (and legally)

given birth to our powerhouse — Shifter Media LLC. This means Shifter is official!

And it means Shifter is slowly growing and turning more into the 3

emotional, it makes me grateful. Grateful for having an amazing team

of collaborators and creators and thankful for being surrounded by individuals who believe in me and believe in Shifter.

I’m a work-in-progress myself, learning new things about myself

every single day. And I want to manifest that through Shifter and continue to allow others to do the same.

That’s why we’re bringing bigger projects your way, and we hope

you tune in — as viewers and/or potential collaborators and creators. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. With much love, gratitude, and respect,

Victor Martinez-Rivera Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Shifter media LLC | Shifter media LLC | Shifter media LLC | Shifter media LLC

reality I always envisioned. Not only does this make me EXTREMELY

Photos by Lawrence Lewis




Amy Plenn

all support specialists are currently helping other visitors. 9

I am trying to be kind when I think of you. You don’t know my name, and I don’t know yours, and we don’t know that we are waiting in the same place, queued up after an impulse decision that we regretted but stuck with anyway, because hey, we were already in line. My stomach aches every time the number ticks, threatening to turn my gut to concrete that will tear through my belly and leave me to bleed out on the velvet comforter my mom bought. (please keep this window open.) Someone is supposed to be waiting for me on the other side. I will spit out my trauma in a carefully constructed way that makes it seem better than it actually was, and they will tell me — well, i don’t know what they’ll tell me. i know what other people have told me. an old roommate says, “you need to get over it.” somebody i know but don’t like says, “I’m glad I’m ugly so it doesn’t happen to me.” a friend says, “I wish men harassed me.” (it takes a lot of strength to reach out for support.) The day after i realized it was over, i told my friends i wanted to die. I wanted to pull the concrete from my stomach and let myself bleed out. I wanted to die. i wanted to die. I ate mac and cheese and I played animal crossing. i wanted to die. i made a list of things i was thankful for. I waited an hour. I waited another. I’m still waiting. (if you are in immediate danger, please call 911.) I want to be kind when I think of you. I swear that i want to be kind. I want to be a good person, the type other people want to be like, but you don’t understand, i need help. can you let me in please? I’ll be good. I won’t ask what happened to you and you won’t ask what happened to me, just let me in, I’m fucking freezing out here, can you please — (we want you to know — you are not alone.) I’m worried that i think it’s over when it actually isn’t. (In the meantime, we invite you to read through the articles below to learn more about healing from trauma.)


I speak Spanish the same way that the white girl in my Spanish class speaks it. She speaks it as if she’s molding the culture of my people in her tongue, taking away all of its history and pronouncing it the way she believes it to be. The difference between that white girl and me is that I know my history. I know that my skin is “white-passing” because of the Spaniards that infested the land of my ancestors who planted seeds only for them to burn. I know that my hair is filled with the waves of the ocean that is lengthened in luscious brown curls. And I know that I do not know Spanish as much as I would like to. My first language was English because my mom didn’t want her kids to have an “accent.” But the operator on the phone hears the mariachi band dancing at the tip of my tongue And always asks me if I need a translator Even if I say my name loud and clear, All they see and hear, Is the “grito de delores” screaming in the back of my throat.


THE ROOM CONTENT WARNING: There are mentions of self-harm/substance abuse/suicide throughout.

I t ’s b e e n a l m o s t a y e a r s i n c e h e ’s b e e n i n t h e r o o m a t t h e e n d o f t h e h a l l w a y. H e s t a n d s i n f r o n t o f t h e c l o s e d d o o r a t t e m p t i n g t o p u s h b a c k the feelings of grief. The door opens with a small creak and he slowly steps inside. Everything inside the room looks the same, but the air feels different — desolate. The room is a shrine to the girl who once inhabited it; soon to be taken apart by the hands of movers and real estate agents. He glances over at the desk he built for her that sits along the wall. The dark, stained wood no longer illuminated by the lamp she would never turn off. Notebooks filled with ideas that would never come into fruition and loose papers of homework assignments that would never be completed. He sits where she sat once — studying for school, creating worlds he never knew of, and drinking her pain away — imagining what it would be like for him to have walked in and seen her sitting there again. He glances over his shoulder to see the dresser that was never properly organized. The dresser holds the TV that was constantly on — blasting music louder than she really needed it to be. The sound from her room got quieter and quieter as the TV became more of a way to hide the bottles she was quickly going through than it was a form of entertainment. Music didn’t play from her room anymore. In fact, the silence was d e a f e n i n g . H e h a d h e a r d t h e q u o t e b e f o r e , b u t n e v e r f u l l y f e l t i t u n t i l n o w. Glancing in the other direction, he sees the instruments that filled the r o o m w i t h a d i f f e r e n t k i n d o f m u s i c . Ye a r s a n d y e a r s o f p r a c t i c i n g a n d performing stopped abruptly by a decision he didn’t know she was making. He should’ve known something was up when she randomly lost interest in something she had loved for years. Isn’t that supposed to be a tell-tale sign? 11



He stands up from her desk and looks around at the pictures and posters and paintings that cover her walls. Gifts from all those that loved her and pictures of all the people she loved. Did they know she was hurting? We r e t h e y s u p p o s e d t o ? S u r r o u n d i n g h e r w a s l o v e a n d l i g h t , y e t s h e o n l y felt pain and darkness. She lost herself in that darkness. What would h a p p e n t o t h e d e c o r a t i o n s n o w ? Wa s h e s u p p o s e d t o r e t u r n t h e m ? Ke e p them? Throw them away? There isn’t really a guidebook for these things. He glances quickly at her closet — always half-opened — that contained all the unworn clothes he had to donate and all the unread books he’d never hear her talk about with excitement. More decisions on whether to keep o r t h r o w a w a y, t h a t h e h a s t o m a k e b e f o r e e v e r y t h i n g g e t s p a c k e d u p . H i s e y e s s e t t l e o n t o t h e b e d i n t h e c o r n e r o f t h e r o o m . I t ’s p e r f e c t l y m a d e — s h e n e v e r k e p t i t t h a t w a y. S h e w o u l d s i t t h e r e r e a d i n g , d o i n g h o m e w o r k , or watching TV late into the night. She would sit there drinking herself into oblivion, taking a blade to her skin, and watching the blood ooze into the deep hours of the night while everyone slept — careful not to cover her white comforter in red splotches. She sat there one night and swallowed all the contents of a bottle of pain reliever pills. She fell asleep s l o w l y, k n o w i n g s h e m o s t l i k e l y w o u l d n o t w a k e u p — a n d s h e d i d n ’ t . He sits down on her bed, the comforter wrinkling beneath him. He thinks of that night, trying to decipher what went wrong. He had given her a kiss and told her goodnight — the way he always did. He had asked her earlier in the n i g h t i f s h e w a s o k a y, t o w h i c h s h e a n s w e r e d “ y e s .” H e b e l i e v e d h e r — t h e way he always did. He went to bed not knowing what awaited him the next m o r n i n g . S i tt i n g o n h e r b e d , a l m o s t a y ea r l at e r, h e c r i e s — t h e w a y h e n e v e r d i d . 12

KKoral Garcia





Te escribo desde la lejanía de mi mente Encerrada sin ver la puerto o alguna ventana Aquí vivo con las voces que me crean duda Vivo con la preocupación Me falta el aire, no pasa a través de la garganta La vida va en “fast foward”, veo el tren pasar, pero no se detiene Estoy armando(me), pero sin instrucciones Improvisando sin calcular los estragos El te, los aceites, la meditación Son todos remedios temporeros Vamos en piloto automático y no hay control de nada Y si me tiro y ¿el paracaídas no abre? Los riesgos deben ser medidos Creo que no soy tan valiente Pero aquí vamos marcando la ruta Porque se vive un día a la vez afrontando lo que venga Con la frente en alto y el pecho firme.


My Immigrant Parents’ Keeper Daniela Hernandez

I’m the pilot of a plane with no doctor on board. I am the nurse, the teacher, the baby, and the student. I am the seed expected to sprout, Whether or not the sun comes out. I am both a pressure cooker and a bread maker. I am the bus that carries the weight of expired dreams. Every exit missed a reduction in pulse. I am the get-away. I am the lifeguard, saving others when I don’t know how to swim. I am the sea. I am the safe. I am the North Star. I am a restless night. I am the dream.


Are All My Friends OK? Victor Martinez-Rivera

I started wondering, a late August night, if my friends were actually alright. if they were happy. anxious. doing alright. i was brought to the realization of how their reality was shaped similarly to mine; how their worlds slowly collided with mine. the way you finish their sentences, or how the traveling pants fit every girl in the sisterhood. how depression and anxiety don’t discriminate, and it just creeps up the same way. the same nights. the same days. and it holds us, hostages, recklessly in cells against each other without us knowing. and that’s when i knew my friends weren’t as happy and as cheerful as i thought...or remembered. that’s how i knew life was hitting them maybe in different ways, but still leaving black and blue souvenirs. that’s how i knew i had been a shitty friend, how i slipped on check-ins and mental checks. that’s how i knew we had grown up. 15




Photos by

Ké y un a J u l ie n Gw e n y t h Ly o n s Ro n eis h a M a g l o i re



El aprendizaje es un conjunto de procesos mentales en donde los componentes fisiológicos, biológicos y sociales permiten al ser humano intercambiar sus ideas y comprender conocimientos. Inicia con la captación de estímulos del ambiente que son recibidos a través de nuestros sentidos. Por lo tanto, se activan diferentes áreas que intervienen para codificar y decodificar la información para que pueda consolidarse en en nuestro cerebro, recuperándola cuando la solicitamos.

habilidades cognitivas, emocionales y sociales necesarias para sentar las bases de la salud mental, deben dar respuesta a un número creciente de problemas psicosociales y comportamentales que afectan profundamente el aprendizaje, la convivencia y el rendimiento escolar. LOS MEDIOS DE COMUNICACIÓN SUELEN HABLAR SOBRE EL BAJO RENDIMIENTO DE LOS ESTUDIANTES EN LA SECUNDARIA, SIN EMBARGO, POCAS VECES SE PREGUNTAN SOBRE LA CANTIDAD —

La salud mental y educación, ¿nos debe preocupar? Neida A. Rivera La Organización Mundial de la Salud estima


que uno de cada cinco niños y adolescentes





desarrollo o de comportamiento y que uno


de cada ocho tiene un trastorno mental. La


salud mental de los niños y los adolescentes


representa uno de los grandes retos que


deben enfrentar las instituciones educativas


hoy en día. A la vez que deben proveer un




ambiente seguro y confiable para el desarrollo de las






El 50% de las enfermedades mentales suelen

No solo tenemos la presión social de pertenecer

empezar a desarrollarse antes de los 14 años, y

a un grupo y formarnos como individuos que

la gran mayoría no se detectan ni se tratan. La

se están desarrollando físicamente, sino que

ansiedad y la depresión son las más comunes,

la manera en la que nos enseñaban cambia de

seguidas por la bipolaridad, TOC y la esquizofrenia,

forma rotunda. Y de este modo, con cambios

entre otras. Y a pesar del incentivo de la

que no podemos frenar, empiezan a aparecer

Organización Mundial de la Salud por promover

conductas que a la larga nos perjudican. Cada vez

la prevención, el número de adolescentes que

estamos más estresados, y dormir las ocho horas

sufren estas patologías no disminuye.

recomendadas no alcanza (si es que alguien tiene la suerte de poder dormir tanto). Esta situación

Son muchos los factores que conducen a que

deriva en un uso problemáticos de sustancias

se de este incremento de dolencias psíquicas,

(drogas y alcohol) y del de computadoras y

y los cambios por los que se atraviesa durante

videojuegos, que potencia el desarrollo de

la adolescencia son más que suficientes para


abrirles la puerta. De igual manera los psicólogos advierten que el rol de los padres es fundamental

Las patologías más frecuentes en Salud Mental

a la hora de reconocer síntomas, pero que

son la ansiedad, los trastornos afectivos, los

muchos los pasan por alto, ya que los normalizan

trastornos psicóticos, y el trastorno por déficit de

o minimizan permitiendo su desarrollo.

atención e hiperactividad (TDAH).

La adolescencia es ese momento bisagra en el

“Son enfermedades que están en nuestro día a

que aún estamos en formación y, para tratar de

día, en nuestras familias y en nuestro entorno.”

encajar, dejamos de lado lo que somos, creemos

Aunque todos hemos experimentado lo que

y pensamos. Todo esto ocurre en la transición

es el aprendizaje, tratar de definirlo no es tarea

primaria-secundaria (y más adelante con el paso

sencilla. Es un concepto difícil de delimitar, qué

a la vida adulta).

puede ser interpretado de formas


muy diversas y la propia historia de la psicología es una demostración de ello. No obstante, a grosso modo podemos entender que el aprendizaje son todos los cambios, tanto











persona en persona en función de sus propias características y la situación. Sin embargo, aunque los niños pueden padecer problemas de salud tanto mentales como físicos, la salud mental tiene muchas menos probabilidades de ser objeto de interés o de preocupación en los centros educativos. ¿Por qué ocurre esto y cuáles son las consecuencias de pasar por alto la importancia de la salud mental en educación?

Pero, la situación se percibe mucho más dramática ya que emocionalmente y psicológicamente los padres e hijos han logrado una educación de éxito. Una educación que fortalezca su desarrollo intelectual. Preocupante porque se termina en un deterioro familiar y educativo que se continúa transfiriendo de generación en generación. La salud mental en la infancia y la adolescencia es crucial para el éxito en la escuela y en la vida. Luego, de muchos años de trabajo como educadora, puedo decir que cada año se perciben muchos más problemas de salud mental en nuestros estudiantes. Como se menciona, los padres son los responsables de ver y manejar situaciones de salud con sus hijos, lamentablemente, tienden a no

“La salud mental en la infancia y la adolescencia es crucial para el Exito en la escuela y

en la vida.

darle la importancia real que tiene el asunto. Muchos padres piensan que la adolescencia es la edad que trastoca el comportamiento de los hijos, ven esas edades como la época crítica del desarrollo y en cierta manera lo es. Hay gran descontrol en manejo de la ira o coraje, tiempos difíciles y problemático para mantener relaciones saludables entre pares y hasta familiar.


Dado que es en el entorno escolar donde

estudiantes capaces de manejar tanta información

transcurren gran parte de la vida los niños y

y desahogo informativo que satura las mentes

los adolescentes, la comunidad educativa,

de una generación que no está preparada para

principalmente los docentes, adquieren un rol

el manejo de la falta de estabilidad, del continuo

importante a la hora de promover el bienestar

añadir y mover conceptos, de lo poca significante

y minimizar los problemas de salud mental.

que les resulta el conocimiento.

Los escenarios educativos promueven la salud mental en la medida que le brindan a sus estudiantes la capacidad de relacionarse con los otros y de adquirir un sentido de identidad, autoestima, seguridad, pertenencia, dominio, apoyo y participación social, de tal manera que puedan orientar y significar su vida. Una adecuada salud mental se asocia con mejores resultados educativos, emocionales y comportamentales, que




aspectos de la vida a largo plazo. Profesionalmente considero que es un ttema para abordar e investigar con gran detenimiento, ya que los resultados que se están teniendo en el ámbito educativo no es muy favorable. Por lo tanto, se está extinguiendo una generación, la cual no logra las expectativas educativas programadas y esto se verá en las próximas, quizás con bastantes problemas sociales.

Muy difícil, muchos cambios a nivel mundial, más oportunidades de educación y menor los


Teenage Depression Grace Lanier


CONTENT WARNING: There are mentions of self-harm/substance abuse (with the intent of suicide) throughout. Nothing too abrasive, but worth mentioning.


Distractions in Glass they sneak out as giggly rebels,

their duffel bags clanking with the dreams of a world where laughter replaces tears. this is their only shot at relief.

they will be saved by the shattering of glass bottles.

they get to the spot and tilt back the bottles — it’s soda, not beer, but they’ll feel like rebels when the glass shatters.

it isn’t quite what they dreamed but at least it’s some relief from their tears.

they drown their tears

in the fizzing from the bottles and feel a weepy relief

when they’re empty. these rebels need their dreams

to come true when everything shatters. they can no longer wait to hear it all shatter. they smile back their tears and fling their dreams

against the concrete in the form of glass bottles, and the rebels

all scream in relief.


but the relief born from the shattering is not enough for these rebels, and never will be; their tears will return when all the bottles are broken and they’re stuck with hopeless dreams.

but enough of dreams; let them enjoy this temporary relief. let them throw these bottles, shriek when they shatter, and forget their tears tonight. let them be teenage rebels.

the rebels shattered these bottles for relief. all they wanted was to forget their tears, but they just relived the way the world has broken their dreams.


Not Quite Midnight her head is in her arms and her arms are on her desk and her desk is wet with tears. but today was a good day. her muscles are tensed like a predator’s but she feels like prey. speaking of praying, she should do that sometime— but when? she’s always so tired now. so heavy. but today was a good day. why did she look at his picture? now she can’t look at anything. her eyes are burning not from the tears, but from the memories. but today was a good day. not good enough. it’s never good enough and she just doesn’t know why anymore but hey, today was a good day. show-and-tell


children accrue scars just by living. little mary’s bicycle hits a rock. everything stops. her hands fly off the handlebars. their scars excite them; they rush to tell the whole class. but what of the scars the other children can’t see? big-girl mary’s lost a lot. the pain never stops. her hands reach toward the bottle. it’s all fun and games until they remember how much it really hurt.

teenage mary’s not doing so hot.

her heart has stopped.

her hands bleed from the wrists. that’s right: sharing with the class could be your funeral.


En Route eighteen pills may have been a bit much but she just couldn’t stop thinking. she can’t tell how long it’s been since the plane took off. she can’t tell anything anymore. she can’t stop shaking. her fingers are shaking and sweating and it’s all so fucking much but she’s reaching to take more because maybe they can keep her from thinking. she screws off the lid and hopes her seatmates can’t tell. because who could she tell? no one seems to notice her violent shaking— she could blow her head off and they wouldn’t care too much. she’s really thinking about taking more. there are only four more pills left in the bottle, and no one to tell her not to, no reason to think. the bottle shakes in her hands and as much as she wants to chug it all, something in her mind goes off.


she can’t off herself on this plane; she can’t take more. a curdling stomach tells her it was already too much. she needs to tell someone because the shaking scares her far more than the thinking.

but what if it’s too late? she thinks to herself. her mind wanders off and all she can feel is her heart shaking. she doesn’t know if she can do this anymore. it hurts. she can’t even tell anyone how much.

WARNING: thinking and shaking are common side effects of overdose. when you begin experiencing these symptoms, tell a loved one, don’t take any more, and do NOT turn off the lights—you’ll fall asleep for longer than expected. 32


More Than Four Walls Kristen Unico File. Save. Export. As 24 pages of articles from a group of high schoolers make their way to my flash drive, I look up. Smiling at me are moments in time of Room 117’s past students. Crammed and a bit overwhelming, there’s no rhyme and reason to the photo collages pinned on every corner of the room. But there’s a charm to the messiness, as if Room 117 knew the people it so tightly held on its four walls were holding on, too. I smile back. It’s been four years since I left Room 117 as a student, but I still find myself learning from it. Home of the unheard, Room 117 is a space that valued ideas and fostered the power of putting pen to paper. It’s a space for firsts: the first time I discovered my passions, and the first time I chased them. It’s also the first time someone believed in me, and the first time I started to believe in myself. To me, Room 117 is the newspaper room. To others, speech and debate. English class. The hangout spot at lunch. While a haven for many through the years, this space is simply a classroom for a lucky handful of South Florida high schoolers. Yet, you’ve experienced Room 117 in your lifetime. With Room 117, it’s never about showing up and fitting in—it’s always about showing up and belonging. To you, Room 117 is the weekly meeting that’d always make your day; the go-to place that never fails to inspire your next creative piece; the job that made you think, “Everyone should experience a culture like this.” Now, Room 117 is the FaceTime call that leaves you feeling seen and heard; the uplifting comment section on social media posts; the walk to your front door when you get a surprise care package from your best friend. These spaces or experiences come and go as we grow up, but their magic is forever. No matter how much time passes, we never forget the feeling it gave us. And it’s that feeling that navigates us through life; it’s what allows us to care, because we’ve been cared for; to listen, because we know how it feels to be heard; to create, because we know its impact; and to lead with love, because we’ve seen it done before. In a time where remembering a space is easier than visiting it, honor your Room 117 for what it was: a safe space. Thank it for the spark it’s given you. And share its magic, because we all know we need it. 34




A Love Letter to Music Education Monica Orozco While I can only personally vouch for music education, I strongly believe that all arts education is crucial to the growth of any human being. Whether you discover your passion for the arts as young as 4 years old or as old as 70, the arts have always been a safe haven to all who inhabit it. Personally, music education has played a huge part in the person I am today. I was very fortunate to have a band program and director who accepted me as I am and allowed me to show my worth through my playing. For a long time, I thought I’d be alone because no one could understand why I’d rather listen to show tunes and film scores instead of whatever new pop song was released. The meaning behind the lyrics and its accompanying orchestration of show tunes and the emotion conveyed in an orchestral score spoke to me as clear as day. Being in band for all four years of high school allowed me to experience a wide range of emotion while playing the literature selected by my director. Our band program was my home. Walking in on my first day of spring training was truly an eye opening day. I had never felt more myself than when I was there. I struggled a lot throughout middle school with being comfortable in my musical interests and feeling left out of what all my friends and acquaintances were interested in. I purposely excluded myself and only really spoke when spoken to. It made me extremely unhappy and I began to wonder why I and my interests were such a problem. I joined my middle school show choir in the seventh grade and everything began to change. Show choir provided me with a community of fellow teenagers who shared a love of singing show tunes and Disney songs. I loved singing and performing with those people. However, there was still something missing for me. I know a lot of musicians use their songs as a form of expression but I just couldn’t relate to that and it made me start to dislike show choir. I began to think I wouldn’t leave a mark or do anything of substance in my own history. I genuinely believed there was nothing I could offer to be accepted in any type of social group. When I finally heard of band auditions for my new high school, I didn’t realize I’d soon find the thing I had been looking for for so many years. In band, everyone plays an instrument, no one speaks. For such a long time I never spoke or expressed my feelings for fear it would put people off and make them not like me. In band, I didn’t need to speak. My saxophone and the way I played did the talking for me. It was so freeing being able to express myself in a way I knew so well. No words. Just music. I never 37

knew you could play, let alone compose a piece about tragic and historic times in our nation’s history. The first time I truly knew I had found my everlasting home in that band program was when we had our winter concert. For our winter concert, we played a piece called ‘An American Elegy” by Frank Ticheli. That piece was commissioned by the Columbine Commissioning Fund on behalf of the Columbine High School Band. A work of art to remember all those who were lost in that horrific event back in 1999. Ticheli incorporated the Columbine alma mater in the climax of the piece, followed by a heavenly trumpet solo played from the catwalk of our auditorium. When we played it for the first time I truly understood just how impactful music can be. We told the stories of those victims and survivors without speaking a single word. Expressing myself with words has always been something I’ve struggled with so I hid behind the music I listened to. It was my way of expressing my feeling but no one could understand what it was I was trying to say. I am eternally grateful to that band program and all the happiness it gave me. It was an outlet for self-expression and I made lifelong friends who completely understood who I was. Finally, being accepted for who I was after years of believing I’d never have the connection I saw everyone around me have was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I was able to finally view myself as someone who was worthy of having friends and being a part of a community of people who are completely different and yet exactly the same. As I got older, I have been able to verbally express my feelings towards others a lot easier than when I was younger. Band helped me form bonds with some unexpected people and helped me learn to communicate using my words. We were a family. Everyone knew everything about everybody. The entire band experience brought me out of my shell and helped me finally view myself in such a positive light. I would continue to pursue music in college and meet some of the most extraordinary people who were exactly like me. For too long, I believed I’d always be alone and never find a sense of belonging in this world. Luckily, I never stopped looking. I know if I had given up trying to find a connection I most probably would not be here today. Being in band helped me allow myself to just be free. I found a group of people who shared my hardships as well as my interests. I learned to play an instrument and even how to compose music. My music education and experiences is what makes me who I am today and I am eternally grateful for those experiences. Whatever your escape, whatever your art, it is yours and its connection to you and your life is the greatest thing you can give to the world. The world will never tire of new art. It’s up to us to make sure it’s seen and heard for as long as we can. I’d like to leave you with this lyric by Stephen Sondheim from his Pulitzer prize winning musical Sunday in the Park with George: Anything you do let it come from you, then it will be new. Give us more to see. 38

The Impostor: (SIN)drome Moadlc

myself, my self that tragic work in progress face made of a thin papier-mâché mask easily torn if worked too hard

I am selfish; I am self-centered I am self-interested; I am self-absorbed I am capable of I statements as long as they feel real.

I lose sleep over what I wasn’t born with my ambitions have dreams of their own, they place me on a pedestal I didn’t ask for, and I know I did not earn

pain is a subtle word compared to my name a word so simple whose utterance shatters my existence

my achievements feel like modern art, hung on the wall for public display, not because it pleases you, but because it’s supposed to I find it hard to make I statements because it’s a luxury to be earned a gluttony to be vanquished a necessity to be fulfilled


I am not myself just as much as my self is I am the pieces of a puzzle somebody lost the box for an image, frozen and fragmented in time but unable to be put back together no easy guide to follow no end goal to be there for myself, my self, reflected, impostor.

Órdenes de mamá, traducidas (Mom’s orders, translated) Daniela Hernandez

Be clean. Always. Cleanliness matters. Straighten out your bed covers. No, not like that. Tighter. No dust on your bedroom furniture. No fingerprint marks on your mirrors. Wipe. Wipe it again. Until the streaks are gone. Wipe away your fears. Wipe away your sadness. Focus. Remember why we left the island — so that you can buy meat, strawberries, dream, for yourself and your children, and not only quietly shout liberty, but live it. Remember why I guard airplanes when I studied to guard finances. The freedom to have financial freedom comes at a cost. Don’t work. Study. Study like your life depends on it. Because it does. My future is in your hands. Mine are too small and this country too big. Remember why I can’t close my eyes at night — I must stay awake for you to have the possibility to make your, our, dreams come true. I must put food on the plate- you need the lactose free milk, which costs more than the regular; the organic chicken; the $3.99-each, $55.86-plus-taxes-every-week

protein shakes to maintain your weight; otherwise, you’ll get sick. You can’t get sick. I must keep you safe. So you can study. Study. Study. Be somebody. Translate this paper for me. Please. I can’t speak when the anguish of interacting with a language I do not understand creeps up on me. I shake. Tremble. Stutter. Fear. But can never speak. They don’t understand. I don’t understand. What does it say? Can I throw it away? Get rid of clutter. It’s not clean. Come back early. Before the fights break out. I don’t know my way around. Drive me there. I’m scared. Too many cars. Too many lanes. Stop! Slow down! You’re going too fast. Don’t grow up. Don’t date. You’ll get pregnant and your life will be over. Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat the rice. Eat the beans. You have to eat. Tell me what’s making you sad… forget about that! Don’t cry over a boy. Don’t cry over death. Don’t cry over stress. Don’t cry. Clean. Focus. Study! Be somebody!


Dear Self, Catherine Le

Dear Self, It’s been a while since we’ve talked. When was the last time since we last really sat down and talked about how things are going without letting our problems run us over? Currently, I’m feeling okay. I think mental health has been a discussion I’ve been meaning to have with you for a while now, but it’s really hard to have these conversations when you can’t keep track of your thoughts. For a while, I thought maybe if I just ignored it, that it would be one of those things that got better with time. Maybe that’s true for some people. I don’t think it applies to us. At 22 years old, I thought I would have things figured out by now; but I’ve only started undressing all of the baggage that I’ve been carrying. I didn’t realize until I tried to put it all down that there would still be marks in my arms from carrying it. I was recently diagnosed with OCD, anxiety and depression. The doctor says that I’ve probably had the depression for a while considering when the symptoms began, which kind of sucks.


It’s hard to even write this letter. I mean, what do I focus on? My list of mental disorders, or the lack of validation that I have received overall as a person, the trust issues given to me by my parents to trust no one — not even myself, the trauma I carry from my last relationship or my diaspora of being an Asian-American woman who feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere? Really, how do I unpack that all of that? Eventually, it kind of hit me. What if I am never “okay” or “stable”? What if I never reach a blank slate? What if I carry my baggage with me my whole life? What if I can never just be me without the mental disabilities and emotional blockages? What then? Do I just dissipate or continue loathing the fact that I am alive and conscious of myself enough to understand that I am in this state? I guess it’s just a part of life. That’s what everyone says, anyway. I mean, I can’t blame my parents or blame society or blame other things. This is not to say I can’t blame those things, but what good does blaming those things do? No matter what, I’m here and I’m like

this. Regardless of what came together to produce me, I am here and I exist. The weight of existing is heavy. So, I’ve been trying to heal from everything so I can be happy without being weighed down by my own thoughts. That’s kind of the hard part now, understanding that I have OCD. My thoughts literally keep me awake and constantly on my toes. A lot of it is being triggered, having an irrational thought and then having to fight to control that thought from derailing my mind.

back. I love the feeling of laughing until my lungs hurt. It’s hard to validate myself and that responsibility is difficult since the realization that I don’t love myself or value myself as much as I should. I still love myself, even after everything that has happened.

Sometimes if I’m triggered, I have to resist the urge to give in to my compulsions to do whatever it is that will make me feel like I’m okay. So it’s a lot of me telling myself that I’m okay and my mind telling me that I’m not. Hard to argue with myself. Hard to even keep track of my thoughts enough to be logical about it all. I’m trying to come to terms with it all. I mean, I don’t have a choice. I want to be here. I want to thrive. I want to achieve all of the dreams I’ve ever had. I love smiling and feeling nothing holding me




Tiana Antonio

Limbo I don’t want to disappoint you but I don’t want to disappoint myself... I do nothing.


Thank you

To our contributors, readers, staff.