Teen Ink magazine - October 2022

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October 2022 Follow us on Social Media
for Halloween PLUS College Applications — the Who, What, When, and How 1




Contests & Call for Submissions




Mazel Tov, Caroline

The Worn Wallet


College Applications

A Recipe for the Perfect College Application

Preparing for College

Who Am I?


Talking with Teens

Why do you want to go to college?

20 Fall Sports

Routine Gone Wrong Friday Night Lights Go When Ready

Donkey Mentality

I’m Not a Soul, I’m a River I, a Tree


Points of View

Why the NCAA Should Not Pay College Athletes

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire Catching Comparison


Book Reviews

The Shining 46

Movie Reviews




A Log Cabin Neighborhood Nightmares

The Girl in the Oatmeal Dress Missing Rotting Away


Celebrity Interviews

Hayley LeBlanc Havanna Winter



Haiku, Sonnets, Free Verse & More!

“101-Word Story” Contest Winners, page 69

Art Galleries

Photography, watercolors, charcoal, oil paintings, & more

“Portrait Face-Off” Contest Winners, page 50!

5 Teen Ink News
“Old” “Frankenstein” CONTENTS
TX October 2022 Volume 37 | Issue 2
50 3

Letter from the


Chills & Thrills Are Around the Corner!

Dear Teen Ink Readers,

Is it just me or does it feel … spooky in here? Maybe it’s just the jampacked spooky content in this month’s issue. Spooky fiction AND scary movie and book reviews? Perfect for getting into the Halloween mood.

But for those of you who cover your eyes during horror movies and stopped believing in Ouija boards, we also have amazing stories about fall and winter sports, as well as tips and experiences with applying to college (this one doesn’t have to be so scary).

This issue also introduces a brand new section: Talking With Teens. We get the low-down, straight from the mouths of teenagers, on how they really feel about going to college. If you’d like the chance to have your voice heard in the magazine, join our Student Advisory Board by filling out this form. (We also love to hear teachers’ thoughts, and welcome you to join the Teacher Advisory Board here.)

As always, we welcome your feedback! If you want to write a letter to an editor, respond to an opinion article, or just take a stab at creating a poem good enough to make it into our next magazine, visit teenink.com/ submit!

Bone-chilling regards, The Teen Ink Team

Cover Art Contest

Submit your photo or artwork for a chance to appear on the cover of Teen Ink magazine! All art submissions are eligble.

5 5 5 Click Here to Submit Your WorkSubmit Your Work
Winners receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Enter our Contests! • Stories About Making a Difference through Community Service, Volunteering, or Acts of Kindness • Ways Dance, Theater, and Music have affected you • Thinkpieces about love • Black History Month Click Here to Enter! We Also Need:

Notre Dame’s cold air kept me awake. Mom’s Spanish ranting was muffled to me. “Why did she book them so early, what was her hurry?”

I had half a mind to turn around and give her a piece. It’s not our fault we live 645 miles from her new home.

We got lucky on our second Uber; an old man and his silver Toyota drove the three-hour distance to Chicago. The fields passing by mocked me, and thoughts my mom had been feeding me the night before in the hotel crescendoed. She lives in the middle of nowhere. She won’t adjust. There were barely any Latinos at New Student Indoctrination. Now, even fewer in her college classes.

The thoughts were hushed the closer we were to O’Hare International. The slatecolored metro passing by kept my frantic mind occupied. When we arrived at the airport, the rising sun was now peaking. Cars drove past us, leaving a breeze as a sign of their presence.

The blues and grays of security bins and tiling contrasted against the colors inside of the Pasquerilla Center I had been in hours prior. Its browns and beiges, with the orange lights bouncing off the dark oak finish. Those same comforting hues taunted me as I sat in the lobby. My mom was across the table while my phone was flashing my sister’s texts of “I can’t leave” and “I’m sorry, I thought I would be able to see you.” It was barely 8 a.m. and I was already crying. Not that it was unexpected for me, I just didn’t realize we wouldn’t be able to hug and give our final goodbyes.

Thoughts were harshly shoved back by reality as we stepped beyond security. After being dragged to take a picture in the middle of a hall of flags, we continued debating on a place to eat.

The orange and browns of the packaging, mixed with the strong coffee my mom ordered, was the same feeling I had gotten as we walked through Notre Dame’s sunrise. It’s the same feeling I get with my sister; warm hues, sweetened atole scorching my throat, and big

blankets as we binge-watch a new show.

It was a small sense of reassurance that she would be fine. But she wasn’t with us enjoying the moment. No more food being stolen from me or conversations about the world. The realization caused me to finish my torta and hibiscus juice. The jalapeño was spicier and the juice went sour.

The trip was a symbolic ceremony of sorts. Clingy younger sibling leaves their older sister in a foreign town. The melancholic atmosphere lingered as the thought had me chuckling hours into our delay. Nothing but the cold feeling of a mango smoothie and warm apple pie filled my gut. An odd mixture between warm and cold.

Coming home from the airport and laying in bed, the flooding from my eyes was proof enough; 61 days without her was going to be harder than I initially thought.

A lot of who I am can be traced back to my sister, Samara — one of my first teachers, and my best friend.

I’ve always had her around. I’m used to seeing her tired eyes coming home from an hour’s drive from school. Bright spring days of watching her play soccer. The heat of the sun as we lay on the beach seeing who could get the darker tan and warm apple cider during Halloween. The warmth that fills our home every time she laughs.

It’s quiet without her. It’s colder in my room now.



This was the moment I had been preparing for for the last five years of my life. I knew I could do it, but I still had my doubts. “I’m nervous,” I told my mom as she curled the final piece of my hair. “You’re ready.” she said with a smile on her face. My dress was laying on the bed waiting to be put on. The blue on the dress reminded me of how hard I had worked to get to do this day, because blue was the color of the Jewish star. Today marked the day when I officially became a Jewish adult. All my friends and family would be at my service watching me. I had been to many services for relatives who had been through what I am going through right now, and I could not remember a single instance where anybody had messed up. The pressure was high for me to do amazing, just like they did. I couldn’t sleep the night before, with all these thoughts going through my head. Am I ready for this? This is a question that I did not know if I would be able to answer. What if I mess up in front of everyone? I kept thinking. What if I don’t

make everyone proud? This thought went through my head over and over again.

My mom called to me and yelled, “Caroline! We are going to be late, let’s go!” I slowly walked down the stairs with my hair freshly curled, as each strand bounced behind me. I carefully got into the car so that I would not wrinkle my freshly pressed dress. As we drove away from our house I thought to myself, this will be the last time I will be here before I am officially a bat-mitzvah

We arrived at the synagogue. It was a beautiful day. The sky was dark blue, with small clouds that looked like cotton candy. The sun was shining in my face, and I had to squint to see. For it being the middle of November, it was actually unseasonably warm. I stepped out of my mom’s car and examined all around the parking lot. There were cars everywhere I looked. I kept telling myself that everything would be OK, and I should walk


in with a bright smile on my face. My heart started to beat faster as I walked up to the large doors that I had walked in every day for years. Today, the synagogue felt different. Bigger? More important maybe. The synagogue is so beautiful, with tall ceilings and dark blue walls. There were people everywhere: my friends, cousins, and family. They were all here for me. This is really happening, I thought to myself. Everywhere I looked, people were advancing from left to right to greet me. “You have nothing to worry about Caroline, you will do great,” they kept telling me. I thanked each person for coming to my service as they walked through the doors. They congratulated me and smiled. I tried to keep that smile the whole time to mask how nervous I really was.

My close friends were standing on each side of the door handing out programs and wishing me good luck. The programs were white with my name in cursive plastered on the front. All the seats in the temple were filled with people. I looked down to the front row and saw my two sisters, mom, and dad. I couldn’t have done this without them. My mom and dad had driven me to my lessons on Sundays and Tuesdays for years. My older sister, who has been through this before, always encouraged me to do my best and told me how important becoming a bat-mitzvah was. Finally, my younger sister sat through years worth of Hebrew tutors, Sunday school classes, and three-hour services.

For a nine-year-old, she does a good job of cooperating. My dad blew me a kiss, and I knew it was time to go.

I saw my Rabbi wave at me to walk up to the bema. He was wearing a black suit with a yarmulke that was blue and matched my dress. Rabbi Dennis has been with me for almost my whole life, and he hasn’t changed one bit. He had helped my sister through her becoming a bat-mitzvah and had been an important role model in my success. I could not have done this without him either, I thought to myself. He would make me laugh so hard in our meetings and make them less boring and more exciting. He’s kind, and has believed in me my whole life. My uncle opened up the ceremony, and then he called my name for the first time to step up to the bema to sing the first prayer.

I glanced over the audience one last time. Everyone was staring at me as I got ready to start. I can do this, I kept whispering under my breath. I took a deep breath and began

to chant. Words flowed slowly and surely out of my mouth. I can’t mess up now. I thought. About an hour through the service, it was time for the hardest part of a bat mitzvah. The haftorah. During the haftorah, you typically chant for five minutes without stopping. It is a chant related to your specific bat mitzvah date. It’s also important to not mess up, especially on this chant, because it is one of the most meaningful chants you learn. Anyone who has had a bat mitzvah knows how challenging it can be. However, I knew I could do it. When I started chanting, I looked up for a second and saw my Hebrew tutor, who helped me for most of my Hebrew career, walk into the temple. It meant so much to me to see him there, and it gave me a significant boost of confidence to finish my chant strong.

As we drove away from our house

The last part of the ceremony was the speeches. My mom, dad, and I all gave one. I thanked everyone who was there for me throughout this journey I had been through. “Thank you mom, dad, and my sisters for being here for me and never letting me quit, even when it got really hard. I am so thankful for all of you and all your encouragement.” I looked over in the crowd and found my family sitting in the first row. We made eye contact, and I smiled. It was very important for me to thank them because my parents raised me to be who I am, and it was so special to be able to hear the kind words. My parents have always been the greatest influences in my life and they have always taught me that hard work pays off. In this moment I felt like I was living up to this phrase that they had so often repeated to me.

“Mazel tov, Caroline,” my parents said. I sighed in relief and couldn’t believe I actually pulled it off. As I looked all around the temple, I saw my friends and family smiling and clapping. My friends ran towards me, all hugging me at once. I was so overwhelmed with love from everyone there who has supported me from the beginning of this long journey. We all gathered together on the bema and my Rabbi played “Sweet Caroline” on the piano. Tears filled my eyes. All my hard work had paid off, and it was time to celebrate!

I thought to myself, this will be the last time I will be here before I am officially a bat-mitzvah



I got it from my older brothers. It is important because it has a family history, but it also carries all of the Student IDs I’ve had since sixth grade. I like it because it has a lot of space to hold all my money and cards. My brothers used it, and now I use it and have all my pictures in it. Although it weighs close to nothing, its symbolic weight is pretty heavy, as it has more than just one meaning behind it.

I’ve learned a lot from my brothers, two of whom are older than me, and one of whom is younger. One has short, brown hair lined up almost perfectly. Two have longer hair. Their heads are topped with tight black curls with a nice low fade on the backs of their heads. One has a more rounded face with a well-trimmed beard. The other has a more structured face with little to no facial hair, however, his green eyes distract anyone as the sun beams onto them, shining brightly like a tree’s leaves. The last still has a baby face with no facial hair at all, with eyes the color of a tree stump, different from all my other brothers and me.

My brothers held onto it, and now I am able to do the same. Back to when it all started… 2004. My brother was given a wallet by my dad. Nine years later on July 4, 2013, my other brother was given the wallet. Then, just about three years later, I was only 11, and I was given the wallet. It was a family tradition that had been going on for over a decade now. The tiny, black, squared leather is so easy to miss, but so hard to lose. I hold onto it as if my life depends on it. As if something bad were to happen if I let loose. As if I would die if it left my side.

The light coming into my room on my birthday fills me with instant joy. The thoughts of

presents, celebrations, and cake all flood through my head. I wash my face and brush my teeth and quickly rinse my mouth out, trying to get rid of the spicy cinnamon flavor. I relaxed for a little while until my whole family came over. Waiting patiently, I am constantly thinking about one thing. That thought doesn’t leave my mind for even a second. I am blowing the candles out on the white-frosted cake when my brother hands me two gift bags. Instantly, my face brightens up even more. I already


know what it is, but I pretend like I don’t. He hands me the wallet that everyone in my family has once used. The sun suddenly glares into the kitchen onto the wallet and my birthday is made. Everyone is happy and the mood is just overall much better.

As soon as the wallet is in my possession, I know that I must fulfill this duty. I must not lose this wallet. I must not do damage to this wallet. And I must be the last to give the wallet to the youngest brother in just a short couple of years. A couple of years sounds so far, yet so close. The next 795 days or so that this wallet is with me will be cherished. I put my student IDs in the wallet. All pictures from sixth grade up until now fill me with joy. They represent how much passion and hard work I’ve gone through in my life’s journey thus far. It shows that no matter what, I will still be me at the end of the day. No matter what, I will get through it. No matter what, this is me.

I am not quite sure how I will feel when it’s out of my reach and my younger brother has it. There is no one after him. Will he give it to his kids? Will my oldest brother give it to his kids? Will my middle brother give it to his kids? Will I give it to my kids? I don’t know what will happen, but what I do know is that this wallet has made a lasting impact on me. On my brothers. And it will make a lasting impact in the future, whenever that is.

It is small, it is black, it is shaped like a square, but when you open it up it looks more like a rectangle. It has a lot of different compartments in it as well.







1 3 4 2

a recipe for the perfect college application


4 cups of Supplemental Essays

1 cup of The Common App

½ cup of stress (1 tbsp for garnish)

2 tsp of nerves

1 lb of essay drafts

A sprinkle of relief/ happiness (optional topping)


1. Sift together your plans and ideas into a large mixing bowl. Make sure to use imagery and descriptive words to allow others to feel your story. Throw away excess words that are not needed (in the sifter). Substitute powerful verbs to make the flavor greater.

2. Carefully add the first 4 ingredients. Make sure to stir gently so that your mixture will not spill over the word count.

3. Slowly grate and then fold in a ½ cup of stress. Finish one essay at a time. Ignore the lack of motivation and fried-brain feelings. Take small breaks if necessary and refuel the brain. Avoid the urge to sleep.

4. Read through 1 lb of essay drafts. make sure all directions are followed as stated. You can taste the batter if you want to make sure everything is right.

5. Carefully stir one last time, as the ingredients will be judged by others. According to CollegeVine, these essays can take anywhere from 20-30 hours as you need to carefully choose a prompt, brainstorm ideas, organize your thoughts, draft, edit, re-draft, edit again, and so on.

6. Bake mixture at 400 degrees at medium heat. It is now out of your control. You did your best and it is now up to your grades, test scores, and recommendations. Try and settle the nerves, knowing you will see the final product soon.

7. Patiently wait approximately 2-3 months for the mixture to settle. You can keep checking the oven window with the light if you become very anxious to hear the final product. Depending on how strong your oven is, you may be able to pull it out early.

8. Before taking out the final product, mix 1 tsp of nerves and 1 tbsp of stress. Garnish if needed.

9. If the extra flavor is needed to celebrate or lighten the mood, add a sprinkle of relief/happiness. Nerves will be present when opening the letter. You will see either “Congratulations!” or “We are sorry to inform you…” Either way, tears are possible.

10. If you pass the taste test, cut and serve the final product and share it with family and friends. Know that all of your hard work has paid off. You are going to college! Wow, what a huge stress reliever.

13 13


A breakdown of your high school years

High school is one of the most important parts of an individual’s life. As with any major stage, a good knowledge of all available resources, tips, and opportunities is highly crucial for success. Many eighth grade students enter high school with barely any information concerning how high school functions and what to do during their high school years to prepare effectively for college.


During the months prior to their freshman year, students should be discussing their course selections with their parents, as well as consulting with their assigned high school counselors. A building cannot last without a good foundation; the same can be said of education. Without a careful course selection and meticulous consultation with parents and counselors, any student can become easily lost in a maze of information. Furthermore, freshman year should be taken advantage of to the highest degree. For instance, this is the year to get started on PSAT prep (an exam-based selection for the National Merit Scholarship in the junior year), get to know their counselors, work on discovering their passions, and get into depth with extracurricular activities (sports, band, clubs, volunteering services, etc.).

In the following sophomore year, students should be continuing their PSAT prep — it would be greatly ideal to get started with standardized test prep in either the SAT or ACT as well. By their sophomore year, most students will have likely adapted to high school life and have let their academic guards down. Working harder does not always equate to corresponding rewards. It is in the students’ best interests to work smarter at the same time. This is the year to perfect their time management skills in the classroom setting and consider taking a few AP courses that interest them, as a challenge to their intellectual development. Simultaneously, extracurricular activities should not be abandoned but rather pursued wholeheartedly in a few key areas (a couple activities that a student particularly likes or have an aptitude for). By participating in extracurricular activities, students are doing a great favor for themselves by sowing the seeds of potential essay topics for the college application months, as well as providing a window for

college admission officers to see who they are as a human being outside of the classroom.

In the penultimate junior year, good habits developed in the previous two years should be carried over intactly. It is advisable for students to become close with their counselor and a few teachers who know them well. After all, if

and finalized their college lists, brainstormed on how to write college application essays (personal statements, supplementary essays, etc.), as well as began the scavenger hunt for scholarships. Usually, students apply to colleges through the Common Application; however, students can wait for state college representatives to come to their school as well. It is essential to keep


students are applying to colleges, chances are they’re going to require recommendation letters. College admission boards want to know you as a person, not as statistics on a paper. Recommendations are one of the ways that colleges can get to know you on the personal level. As the junior year grinds on, this year may also be when students can finally become the leader in whatever activities they are in. Take advantage of your seniority status; be an impactful, inspiring leader! Furthermore, don’t forget to take the PSAT (usually offered at high schools). Personal preparations should also be made by the junior fall semester for the SAT or ACT. Always register ahead of time for the SAT or ACT for a practice test and study over the areas that you are not proficient in.

Finally: senior year has arrived! Before the school year actually starts, it is recommended that students have already started

track of the application deadlines of the colleges that you are applying to, as well as to send in all the correct documents seamlessly. The senior fall semester is especially momentous, so be sure to talk to your counselors concerning the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) and ask for letters of recommendation months prior to the actual application deadline. Let’s face it, teachers are busy, and students need to accommodate their teachers’ schedules. If a teacher hesitates when asked to write a letter, chances are, you should probably find another who can speak positively on your behalf.

When all is set and done, and that acceptance letter comes in, you know that the efforts that you have put in during the past four years will not be in vain! Enjoy this moment and transition the best aspects of high school into college. Another step closer to realizing your ambitions!




If someone asked you, “Who are you?,” what would your first response be? When I started my journey of writing my college essay, describing who I was as a person and what represents my identity, I recalled staring at my empty Google document for minutes. At this moment I realized I didn’t truly understand who I was as a person, and what made it worse was that I had to write it down in a wordy essay. Critics may argue that a person’s age determines their mentality, but I would have to disagree with this statement. In the short article “Developing Adolescent Identity,” Joanna Williams stresses the idea that young people’s ideas can change over time due to the environment or social norms. Although, the real reason why I couldn’t tell who I was as a person was because I didn’t have many experiences that would completely shape who I am at this point in my life. One’s age does not deem them as an adult or mature, because of challenges we may encounter and the environment we may be in. In some cases, my mentality may not be as mature as someone who’s the same age as me or younger, because they may have gone through challenges that would make them more mature than me or other young adults. Writing the college essay comes with stress, because of the pressure to know who you are and what you want to do at 17 and 18 years old.

Since there were no ideas that I could think about that shaped my identity, I wrote about my background of being African American with a full Jamaican family. I described my experiences coming from Brooklyn, New York, in a mostly Jamaican neighborhood to moving to Queens in a mostly Indian neighborhood and school. I explained how this impacted me due to how different our cultures were. To be honest, it didn’t make much of an impact on me, and I hated that essay because I knew I wasn’t being honest with myself. After I was done with that terrible essay, I wanted opinions from adults that were around me

who I knew wouldn’t like it. They knew that I wasn’t proud of my essay, and that I didn’t reflect on who I am. Eventually, I scrapped my entire essay and reflected upon myself for about three to four days. I watched almost every video on YouTube that you could think of so that I could gain inspiration on what to write. I encountered some of the most depressing college essays and explanations of how these experiences shaped them as a person. They talked about how their essays got them accepted to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. I thought to myself, how could I ever create a great college essay if I’ve never been through such experiences? In the article “How Teenagers Find Themselves,” Charles Q. Choi discusses how certain scenarios can trigger basic emotions, which can make a teenage girl more emotional or experienced than an adult woman. That’s when I realized that it can take longer for some teenagers, like myself, to discover their true identity, because of experiences that may not have fully challenged us yet.

The idea of having to describe our identity and where our path might take us in the future in a college essay can be a pressure-filled task because we feel there is a need to please the adults in the admissions office. We are just teenagers, and not all of us have had an experience that created who we are as a whole. Many of us are still finding ourselves and have a different mentality from others our age. In the process of writing my college essay, I was trying so hard to see the word “ACCEPTED” on my admissions letter that I wasn’t being truthful to myself. Most colleges should know that just because we are approaching adulthood pretty soon, our age shouldn’t determine what makes us mature, and not all of us have a sob story, or other impactful life experiences. Colleges should have an open mind to those who are trying to figure out who they truly are and aren’t able to express themselves to a full capacity.


What do you like about the idea of attending college?

I feel like going to college is linked with new experiences. Finding yourself, forg ing new paths, and making new friends.

– Maabena Nti, Ghana

What I like about the idea of attending college is the opportunity to explore, whether it be socially, academically, physical ly, or mentally. College is all about being brave enough to learn and test out new things.

– Erica Pan, Beijing, China

I’m thrilled to meet some internation al besties who will no doubt dazzle me with their charming personalities and unique experiences. As a fellow immigrant to America, I look forward to the opportunity to exchange stories with them and discover our common interests.

– Lisa Zhang, Irvine, CA

College is a place to start over. Coming from an ac ademically rigorous and competitive high school, looking at colleges allows me to glimpse a future where I can be academically challenged without feeling an intense amount of pressure to be perfect.

– Abigail Sterner, McLean, VA

These days, it’s easy to feel alone in your journey towards your aspi rations. Finding a group of people that are pursuing the same dream as you sounds incredibly inspiring.

– Chloe Lee, Summit, NJ

Want to participate today! Just click

Welcome to Talking With Teens! In this section, we ask our members of our Student Advisory Board questions and select the most interesting responses to share with our readers!

What is most important to

you when looking for a college?

“Where the money resides!” - To elaborate, where scholarship, in ternship and other opportunities to pay for college and beyond.

– Kelsie Tillage, Baton Rouge, LA

Definitely don’t go off of rankings and fame!! I think it’s important that you can imagine going to the school and be a part of their student body.

– Amy Wei, Pasadena, CA

According to my personal opinion, the most import ant thing when looking for a college is the location of the college. That is mainly because the place where we study has to make us feel happy and comfortable as if we’re at home. Also, I want to feel protected as well so I think that it is a must to look up the surroundings of the college and whether the area it is located has high or low crime rates or if it’s safe enough for a student.

The most important thing for me when looking for a college is engaging curriculum, campus safety, school culture, and travel opportunity.

– Samantha Fong, Queens, NY

College is a time for seeking explorations and challenges. When looking for a college, the ability to have a challenging curriculum and meet new people in a unique setting is unequivocally crucial.

– William Chen, Winfield, WV

– Afra Samsudeen, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Academic program.

The intellectual space I choose to surround myself with in college will have ricocheting impacts on the trajectory of my career, and, more indirectly, my life satisfaction and happiness.

– Lisa Zhang, Irvine, CA

When I’m looking for a college, I always make sure that there is ample green space on-campus or at least nearby. I’m a huge outdoors-enthusiast and love to camp, hike, and otherwise find some peace in nature — not to mention that grassy lawns are excellent places to meet with friends to play a round of frisbee or picnic or stargaze! If a college is too overtly urban, it is immediately taken off of my list.

– Bridget Lomax, Short Hills, NJ

19 participate in segments like this? Join the Teen Ink Student Advisory Board click here or email editor@teenink.com to express your interest!




The rush of adrenaline melted away as I hit my last motion. I waved to the crowd and started looking for my friend. I ran to her and crashed into her arms, pulling her into a long hug as we got rushed off of the luminous blue mats. I could feel my face beaming a bright red and the struggle to breathe as the crowd roared with applause. I knew that we had hit a perfect routine — I could already imagine the firstplace title being ours.

My team walked into the hallway of a school filled with winter-themed decor. Paper snowflakes of different blues and whites hung from the ceiling and homemade good-luck signs were lazily taped onto walls. I read some of the closest signs to me: “A team is only as strong as its weakest member.” I didn’t understand. If there was one bad person on a team, but the rest of the team was amazing, wouldn’t that mean they could still be great? I got into the hallway and half my team was in tears. As the reality set in, my feet and back started to ache.

“Be back in the gym at noon, no exceptions,” my coach yelled over us with a smile plastered across her face. I skipped off to the cafeteria and looked for my mom. With big eyes and a wide smile, I finally found her in the crowd. We went to a circular lunch table and wiped away some of the crumbs left on top.

“Do you want to see the video of your routine or is that bad luck too?” My mom asked sarcastically. I always tell her my cheer superstitions: not watching other teams before I perform, putting on my left cheer shoe before my right one for competitions and football games, putting on my right cheer shoe before my left one for practices and tumbling lessons. I gave her a stern look. “I’m just kidding, you know that,” she said as she pulled out her phone from her pocket. She hands me her phone and I watch carefully to examine for even the smallest error.

I watched in awe of all the sequences and ripples. The beautiful stunts that I knew firsthand took endless amounts of practice to perfect. The graceful tumbling took months of pain and effort into nailing. My stunt for

the cheer was the corner group: an elevator to press-up, then a cradle. Easy enough, I’ve been doing those since I was in second grade, I thought. I grabbed a sign from my flyer’s hands to throw it into the back corner of the mat. I watched in horror as the sign landed on its sharp corner, causing it to flip over and fall short of the corner. I messed it up — at least half of the deduction was probably caused by me. I knew it wasn’t totally in my control, but I could have done more to stop it. I could have taken an extra second to slide it instead of throwing it, but I may not have had enough time to ensure my flyer got up into the extension safely. Would it have been worth it?

I suddenly felt the stomach acid rise in my throat, threatening to come out. I swallowed it back, leaving a burning sensation in my mouth. My face got red and my eyes swelled up with tears. I did my best to hold them back and pretend they weren’t there, but it all came crashing down. The tears flooded my eyes, blurring my vision. I got up from my seat and walked to a secluded bathroom to pull myself together. I grabbed toilet paper from one of the stalls and wiped my face. My vision became less spotted, but my eyes were swollen and my under-eye bags repped a clownish red hue, making it obvious that I had been crying. I splashed some cold water on my face, causing the makeup to run down my face. I rushed to my team’s area and got out my makeup bag in order to reapply. I looked into the mirror and took a step back, making sure that my uniform was fine and my hair was still intact.

I got into the gym as the final five teams of the session performed. I joined a chunk of my team members and coaches sitting near the edge of the mat, waiting so they could get a spot for the awards.

As the last team finished up their routine, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. What if I was the reason we didn’t get first? Or even worse, what if I was the reason we didn’t even place in the top three? I would never be able to forgive myself if that were to happen. And what would happen if my teammates found out what I had done? Would they comfort me or tear me


down? This whole mess could have been avoided if I had just slid the sign. It wasn’t a hard task to do — it would have taken two seconds. As the final team got off the mats, all of the teams ran onto the mat. Mine ended up getting a spot closest to the trophies.

It was time: the judges were announcing the winners.

They announced seventh place, not us. Sixth place, not us. I sat in anticipation. Fifth place, not us. Fourth place, not us. I was shaking. Third place, not us.

“We are in our top two, your 2019 WACPC state runners-up, give it up for Franklin Sabers Junior Cheer.”

Not the worst, not the best. As it goes, the second place is the first loser. I wanted to feel upset, but being runnerup still felt pretty good. We passed around a pile of medals, each carefully picking one up and putting it around our necks. I couldn’t help but think that maybe I was the reason we weren’t first, maybe the judges didn’t notice or didn’t care, but the likeness of that is none.

I bit the inside of my cheek, as my coach retrieved the scoresheets. As she walked back, I did a little jog to her to ask about the scores.

“In the cheer, I noticed my sign hit its corner and flipped over. Did we get any deductions from it?” I ask nervously.

“Let me check,” she said as she flipped papers over, making me more and more anxious with every turn. Written in big, bold letters

under the deductions label of the scoresheet was a .5 and a circle around a safety issue. A note said “sign safety hazard in cheer.” My face fell and I felt as if I had just failed the biggest test of the year. I walked up to the room and grabbed my bags, found my mom, and got tons of praises that felt like they were trying to comfort me.

“Second is still great.” But it’s not first — second is a participation award.

“You’ll beat them next weekend.” If we couldn’t do it the first time, why even attempt to? It would save us all from embarrassment.

“Next year will be the year.” How do you know? If we’re expecting the first-place title next year, wouldn’t getting our hopes up cause us to not work as hard?

I got in the car and put on my headphones. I rested my head on the car window and tried to fall asleep. I thought long and hard about how I could have been better and how I could put in the work to become great.

I realized that there was always next weekend, next year, and the year after that, and I was planning on working harder and pushing myself to become the best I could possibly be. I now knew the meaning of the saying “A team is only as strong as its weakest member,” and I made amends with becoming the greatest, weakest member in the state.


friday night lights

The lights of the football game on a cold, Friday night light up the football field.

The wind is an ice cube against my skin As I warm up for the big game.

The whistle is piercing to my ears, As the referee starts the game.

The kickoff begins, and the ball is in Our possession.

I am handed the ball, and I am running

As fast as I can to the endzone, my heart Like a beating drum. When I take my final Step into the endzone the crowd is a roaring lion.

My team is already up 8-0, and I can tell This game is going to go well.


go when ready


The hour drive up to Giants Ridge was killing me. Last week I had just competed to go to the state competition and I made it. The only girl on my team that went to state that year, I didn’t think I deserved it. Sure, I worked hard and was the fastest skier on the team, but I lacked confidence in my skills. Everyone was proud of me. Just getting to state was great, and it didn’t matter how I’d place. Maybe I’m too hard on myself, but it’s good to have goals. This all builds character, right? Then why am I so wrapped up over one medal? I have more at home.

I kept reminding myself of my coaches’ and friends’ advice: “Just have fun, you’ve made it as far as you can in the game.”

Why did placing matter so much? I’m here. Not everyone gets to be here like I can.

The morning of the race, it was setting in that I’ll place in the middle — nothing special. The

and it was tough for me to get through the beginning. I was thrown around like a hot potato in that course and was worn out after it all. I was too tired to keep going, and my feet weren’t fast enough. I couldn’t just ski out and give up. I had to keep going. Just 30 more seconds, I kept thinking. When I crossed the finish line, my time was 42 seconds on the dot. Fastest time was around 40 seconds. With my time, I beat over half the girls, so it wasn’t bad, but in my mind it wasn’t great either.

weather conditions were good: a bit of a breeze, but just enough to keep the snow from turning into slush. After the course inspection I felt confident — the course seemed easy enough, so I should be fine. I waited at the bottom of the hill and watched how the other girls ran the course. The fastest girls went first, and when they got to the steep part of the course, all of them fell or skied out. “This was my chance!” I thought and felt a bit of hope. But as soon as I got into the start gate my hope was gone. What if I fell too? They’re the best in this league. I’ll obviously fall if they did.

Through my racing mind I hear: “Racer, go when ready. It’s all you.”

I launch out of the steep ramp and into the course with confidence. Making round turns that were my best of the season. After 40 girls raced it, the course had patchy ice spots,

It came time for the second and final run of the season. This was for all the marbles and would make or break my moment. I realized I had more of a chance than I thought, because many of the girls had failed to complete the first course. During the inspection, I made sure to take a good look at the course: a lot of turns, requiring very quick feet. There were many bumps on the slope and the sun was coming out, so as the snow melted, I knew it was going to get ugly. As I waited in the gate I was so nervous that I was visibly shaking — how embarrassing. A lot of pressure was on this run and it was all setting in now. The girl behind me was trying to make small talk about the weather, but I could only respond with short answers because of how loud my head was pounding.

Then again, through it all I hear: “Racer, go when ready. You got this.”

I gave it my all and launched out the gate, shooting down the ramp. The snow was extremely slushy, so I tried to be light and quick. I weaved through a set of gates, but my ski cut too close and hit the gate straight on, whipping my leg backward, sending me out of focus and my arms flailing trying to balance. I didn’t fall, but I had to get back in it otherwise I’d be disqualified. I was heartbroken at the fact I just threw away my chance, but I had barely any time to feel anything besides the determination to get back in it. I hike up the hill, and I try to get back in rhythm with the course. I’m so tired from hiking up the steepest part of the hill, but I still have a good 40 seconds left

What if I fell too? They’re the best in this league. I’ll obviously fall if they did

to go so I push through it. In the end, I didn’t even push or reach for the finish line to reduce my time as much as possible. I was frustrated, disappointed, and sad that I just screwed up the most important race for me. My head was pounding, and I couldn’t get it to stop. My mind kept telling me I shouldn’t have made it here in the first place, I wasn’t good enough to be here, why am I even here if I just mess up? It was all hitting me at once and in a failed attempt to keep my composure, I started crying.

My coaches, teammates, parents, and friends surrounded me trying to comfort me, but I just wanted to be angry and sad alone.

“Good job sticking with it, champ.”

“Hey you’re only a ninth grader, you have three more years!”

They kept telling me all these things, but none of it felt real. It felt like just because they’re my friends, coaches, and parents they had to say that. I couldn’t control my emotions at that moment and I kept pushing my family away and was acting impulsive. When it was finally time for awards I decided to go and support my friends,

but deep down I was hating every second of it. I was happy for them but I couldn’t help but beat myself up over it all. They gave out medals to the top ten skiers and honorable mention for the top 25. Once everything started to build up and they were announcing the top three fastest girl skiers in the entire state, a switch in my world just flipped. Seeing them triumphantly walk up the staircase and seeing who was on the absolute top made me want to be just like them. I wanted to be the skier everyone hoped would mess up or fall during their run so everybody else had a chance. I wanted to be the skier everyone would look out for when they read the starting line up list. I wanted to be the best in the league. I want to be known. That race I will always look back to and still get that same rush. I realized that day that mistakes can happen, and you just have to accept them just as you would accept a victory. There will be challenges that will make or break you, and you just have to go with the flow — and don’t let the little inconveniences sink the whole ship.

I wanted to be the skier everyone would look out for when they read the starting line up list. I wanted to be the best in the league. I want to be known.
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“You’re stubborn as a donkey!”

This is my mom’s classic mantra. This accusation stems from my eating habits. Always finish one dish, get bored with it, and then switch to another. Scrambled eggs with tomatoes — I must pamper those eggs first before eating the tomatoes. Spicy hot pot, a traditional Chinese cuisine, where a dozen ingredients are stewed together to create a spicy taste — I have to find my favorite duck blood first and then taste the other ingredients afterward. Two distinct flavors of Häagen-Dazs in one cup? No. I have no idea why it would sell for more than a single flavor. And the reason why I behaved this way has always been a mystery in my family.

“You’ll have to suffer when you grow up.” My mother complained.

Almost my entire childhood was labeled by my mother as a donkey — which means extreme stubbornness in Chinese — and she was the only one who described me that way. I loathed this metaphor; it was not a compliment, but something that made me look stupid, and my mother was insulting my mentality.

My distaste for donkeys lasted until I was in eighth grade, when my “donkey mentality” enabled me to become the first eighth-grader in school history to serve on the student council board. Because it has long been a school policy that students under ninth grade cannot run for the presidency, I became the only eighth grader on stage. I was still aware that an entire division of teachers and students was sitting in the auditorium. As the election began and I stood on the stage with the spotlight beaming on me, the pulse I could instantly feel and the slight quivering of my legs made

me feel awkward. Before that, my stubborn belief was that people’s talents shouldn’t be limited by their age; my continuous observation of students’ unmet needs and ignored mental illnesses pushed me to that stage. And I succeeded by

uncovering the answer to my “family mystery” in these moments. I enjoy each dish’s unique taste and flavor that bursts into my mouth, those flavors that linger on my taste buds, and those that belong to that dish and cannot be neutralized by

practicing my speech at 3:00 a.m. four nights in a row, by ceaseless bargaining with the teachers in charge, and, of course, by my stubbornness.

And the metaphor that had annoyed me gradually began to surface in the circle of my life.

When I repeatedly fell over on the ski slope that I had never stepped on before; when I was interning in a new media company and frantically writing plans, fixing media materials, and confirming client information for three months; when I completed mixed-method independent research as a high school student and thus stared at Nvivo the whole night so I could translate and analyze those scripts and data:

“She’s a stubborn girl.” This is the most common remark I received.

And I seem to be gradually

other flavors. “That’s tasteless!” I always argued with my mom when she forced me to eat another dish when I didn’t finish this one. And for all the challenges I’ve had to encounter in my life, I’ve faced them like a unique dish — savoring the neurological thrill at the moment and focusing on it with my “donkey mentality.”

Yes, I’m that little donkey, who embraces every dish, moment, and challenge with my stubbornness.

Mom, I won’t lose out. I will still wholeheartedly immerse myself in the scrambled eggs, the duck blood in the spicy hot pot, and the singleflavor ice cream in the Häagen-Dazs container. That donkey mentality has brought me this far, became part of me, and will keep propelling me forward in my journey to discover who I want to be — and, of course, to relish every feast of the senses that life offers.


i’m not a soul, i’m a river

My name. Who knows my name? Identity. A fuzzy, treacherous identity. No identity. Anon — a non-identity. I feel sudden panic whenever I tell my name. Because how do I know I’m really me? Will I die if I’m killed? If I have no food, will I starve? What if my needs go unfilled? Then who will I be? Gentle lapping. A wave. On a sea of names crashing. Check marks. Move on. Next in line. My DNA, my fingerprints. My birth certificate. All a part of me. And lock up

souls. It was a soul I held. I guess. But I wake up from nightmares of nonsense. Good dreams scare me. They’re too fake.

People speak of Lydia. The name of a girl. I try to talk. But not about who I am. Or who I am not.

What have I forgiven and forgotten? What have I invented? What lies have I told? All lies. What will make me a truth teller? My heart is shaped like a throbbing longing, longing to beat in another chest. Jests, jokes. Pretending. To fit in.

I may only exist in silence.

What have I said that I haven’t been taught? What photograph of me hasn’t had to capture, bend, and distort light?

the delusional part of me that doesn’t know who it is. Lock up the inner lunatic. The Inner Lunatic will scream in a corner while the part of me that’s just a name puts her butt in the right seat and does as she’s told. A part of me. Never mind the rest.

People speak of me, don’t know what they’re talking about. Speak of me as an individual with separate opinions, a distinct soul. But they are wrong. I am not distinct. I am not that brave. People speak of me, don’t know what they’re talking about. I miss every ball thrown to me. I break everything I try to repair. I don’t know who I’m reaching out to. People speak of me. Sometimes. But not in the light of themselves. Speak of me, speak of my breeches and breaking points. My weak points. Distinct. I’m bound to be distinct. Speak of

All fortunes are jests. Still looking. I guess. Like a child searches the sand for ancient treasure. Real. Am I real? If I’m not real, what is real?

Forget real. All is a reel. A film reel. I’m a series of images. Because I only exist in my memory. So of course I don’t know who I am! I’m not living my life. I’m watching a movie. I may forget three quarters of my life, but the images that stand out the most will remain. Isn’t it fine to sail down this river? A river never stops. Not like the crumbling houses on the land, flows the majestic and serene and ancient river. It has life in it but nothing fixed. Nothing abides in the river but is taken away. And I feel a lot like a river. All memories shifting from dark to light, light to dim, dim to dark, dark to dawn …and again, and again, and again.




In a grassless, sunny clearing, in the maze-like green and brown woods behind my house, there stood a tree — proud and tall. The tree, however, distinguished itself from the rest. The tree was once struck by lightning. Its bark was blown off, scattered to all sides, the grass around it smothered and left scarred, with blackened veins running down its middle. But yet, the tree still stood proud and tall for years.

Where others might simply see a tree, though, I saw an inspiration. This tree, so utterly unique, with hundreds of years of life in its roots, may not have had bark to tote, or leaves to lend shade, or long branches to provide wood, but it had something far more valuable to it. It had a story, a lesson, and a personality, so long as one was willing to look for its tales and learn from its memories.

Where another might have seen a still-standing dead tree in a clearing, I saw an individual that refused to be defined by the others standing around them. I looked not at a tree, but at a person unwilling to give up their identity for acceptance; one content with being different, so long as they would be themselves.

Where another might have seen a tree without bark, I saw someone unafraid to lay themselves bare to the world, showing off their strengths and owning their weaknesses. I saw someone who offered their strengths to those close to them to aid them, and who allowed their weaknesses to show in order to become a better version of themselves.

Where another might have seen a tree that should have fallen, I saw a person who defied destiny. I saw a person who could get struck down time and time again and always stand

back up to continue living, always defying those who want them down and out, always keeping their head up.

Where another might have seen a tree with burn marks down its side from an unlucky lightning strike, I saw someone who was scarred and unafraid to admit it. I saw a person with defining struggles and evidence of it. I saw a person who allowed the pain and strife of their vast sea of battles and draughts of luck to make them stronger and wiser in the end, yet always remaining humble, silently pushing on as the scars adorn themselves as marks of victory.

Where another always saw a tree, I saw a mirror. Where another always saw a lonely, bare, scarred tree on the verge of dying and falling over, I saw a reflection of myself. I saw the me who was not afraid to own his niche interests, even if they set him apart from everyone else, knowing he would eventually find people like him. I saw the me unafraid to admit that he struggled with social interaction because of his high-functioning autism, willing to try to make friends anyway. I saw the me who refused to stay down whenever he got pushed over, always getting right back up after ever single conflict and catastrophe that left him down in the dirt. I saw the me with scars from his struggle with depression and anxiety, the me who never let them beat him, no matter how many lightningscars they left on him.

Whenever I gazed at the tree, I gazed at myself; and whenever I look at myself, I still see the tree. The only difference between it and me is that I will ultimately uproot myself from stagnation in order to keep pushing forward.



The NCAA has faced backlash for years over the controversy of paying college athletes. Allowing them to be compensated would turn college sports into more of a business, and make recruitment all about the money. Out of the thousands of colleges in the country, there are only about 20 college athletic programs that run in the black. Those 20 colleges are the top Division I schools out of about 350. So what happens to the thousands of other student athletes across all divisions? If this is the case, why would it make sense to pay college athletes when programs clearly aren’t even making money?

At first it may seem reasonable to pay student athletes, but you have to look at the big picture. Even as an athlete myself, I’ve learned how much it could hurt college athletes to pay them. If the NCAA paid college athletes, there would be difficulty finding a fair way to pay. Some student athletes might lose scholarships, and some colleges might make cuts to less high-profile sports.

Others may argue that playing a college sport is like having a full-time job. Athletes spend around 35 hours a week on their sports and still have to manage school. Being a college athlete is a difficult thing to do, mentally and physically. In a survey of over 2,000 students on College Pulse, 53 percent agreed that they should get paid, and 71 percent of athletes also agreed. It makes you wonder why that number is not 100. People need to recognize that being an athlete is not their job, being a student is. Colleges make it clear that academics come first. An athlete has to maintain certain grades and attendance to be a part of the team. After all, the reason they go to college is to continue learning. All athletes have been told being a student comes first, and it’s important to

remember this before making a decision.

Determining appropriate player salaries would be difficult, given the struggle women and less highprofile sports face for recognition. Similar to professional sports, many think players should be paid based on their image and likeness. In a survey on College Pulse, 77 percent of all students said they favor that policy, 81 percent of them being athletes. But there are still thousands of female athletes who put the same amount of work into their sport and receive a smaller pay. In this survey, more women supported paying all athletes than men. Doesn’t that say something? Women understand what it’s like to play sports and not get the recognition they deserve. Men are more likely to get recognition and therefore make more money. We cannot pay college athletes fairly until we remove the gender pay gap. We would simply be introducing that pay gap to a new group of workers.

Getting a scholarship is like getting paid, and many athletes receive scholarships for their athletic or academic achievements. If student-athletes are already getting scholarships to help pay for

All athletes have been told being a student comes first, and it’s important to remember this before making a decision.

school, do they need to receive extra pay? The NCAA provides more than $3.6 billion in athletic scholarships to Division l and ll schools and to more than 180,000 students. The NCAA also has several financial aid programs that athletes can use. For the NCAA to just pay their D1 athletes, it could cost around $50.6 million, and there would most likely still be complaints about certain athletes not making enough money. People also have to remember that D3 schools don’t even have enough money to give out athletic scholarships, let alone pay their athletes. For this to work, athletes would also have to be considered as employees — so would they still be eligible for athletic scholarships? Paying athletes would create a lot of problems and potentially take away scholarships. Is it really worth it?

If the NCAA were to pay their student athletes, many players and programs would suffer. Some may argue that only Division l players should get paid because they are in a bigger, higher revenue-generating, and harder division. But athletes at any division have put their blood, sweat, and tears into playing sports in

concern. Rebecca Blank, chancellor at the University of Wisconsin, also said she would have to consider cutting sports. So if schools like these would have to make cuts, what about other schools that aren’t as big and popular as Ohio State or Wisconsin?

It is essential that we recognize paying student athletes will cause harm to college athletic programs across the country. Too many problems would arise, and there is no fair way to do it. All athletes put their hard work and time into their sport, and there is no reason they shouldn’t be treated equally. The best solution is not to pay college athletes.

In a world where college athletes get paid, college athletics would become a business and a college education would not be the priority. College athletes should be playing their sport for the love of the game and not to get paid. The recruiting process would completely shift to committing to the school who pays the most, and not about the right fit. This would create an unfair advantage and lead to the same schools winning big championships every year. No



My first impression of America is that everyone in the country always says the opposite of what they mean.

Sept. 1, 2019, was my first day in America. I was on campus for my high school’s opening day. That night, I was in my room with my roommate. We were both bubbling with excitement for the upcoming first day of our freshman year, and as 14-year-old teenage girls, there

was nothing more perplexing than picking out an outfit for the first day of high school. I desperately needed my roommate’s judgment on a pair of black leather slippers. Were they too formal? Were they too bulky? The moment I pulled out the slippers, my roommate’s mouth snapped open.


“Oh my gosh, these are so sick!” She lingered on the “sick,” pronouncing it louder than the

preceding words.

I took the comment as an insult. I didn’t know exactly what she meant by “so sick,” but I knew that “sick” as an adjective is synonymous with “ill.” Bottom line: “sick” is never associated with anything positive. So, by extension, when she commented that my slippers looked sick, she must be suggesting that the slippers look hideous.

I had fallen silent as these thoughts were coursing through my mind. I was a little offended by what I


perceived to be her rudeness. My expression must have synchronized with my emotional turbulence, for my roommate immediately started to explain herself.

“Oh my gosh, no, not at all! I meant that your shoes look amazing!”

At that moment, I was certain that she was lying. A month later at brunch, I heard a friend at my table saying the term to another friend when commenting on her upcoming ski trip. Being a good friend, I jokingly pointed out that the “so sick” comment was a little rude. To my surprise, the friend whom I was standing up for showed no appreciation for my righteousness.

“C’mon, I was totally standing up for you.” I was a little bewildered.

“Ok. But Margaret was saying that my ski trip sounds amazing. Did you interpret ‘so sick’ literally?”

My friend went on educating me about “that’s sick.” Apparently, “so sick” doesn’t mean something is sick; it means that something is amazing. My roommate wasn’t lying.

Two months into my freshman year, I noticed the awkwardness that always accompanies the phrase “that’s interesting.” Both the speaker and the recipient never show much joy at the utterance of the phrase. For example, I once witnessed a Lionel Messi fan avidly speaking to a Cristiano Ronaldo fan about how Messi crushed Ronaldo in the latest soccer game. The Ronaldo fan said, “ That’s interesting.” The conversation between the two fans cooled upon the utterance of the phrase. But I never paid much thought to the effect of the phrase. At that point, I found it impressive that the Ronaldo fan could restrain his passion when his idol is being somewhat insulted and instead be open to

differing perspectives. I thought the phrase just meant the speaker was interested in what the other person was saying, until I spoke with my advisor over Zoom in 2020.

It was spring break and I was staying at a family friends’ place. My advisor called me to check in on how everything was going. While we were talking, she told me about how her daughter’s calculator had problems functioning properly and the immense trouble her husband took to fixing it.

“That’s interesting,” I responded because I genuinely thought that the process she described was fascinating.

My advisor frowned. “No, we had to take everything apart,” she reiterated.

There must be a negative connotation behind the phrase for my advisor to be reacting so strangely. Quora confirmed my suspicion. “That’s interesting” is often used to express disagreement.

views on Instagram.

Another two weeks elapsed with no response.

I couldn’t wait anymore. The club was rolling out the video next week.

I called her and texted her. Each time, she gave me ambiguous responses. Gradually, I realized that “I’ll think about it and get back to you” is just a facade for “I won’t give the idea a second thought because I hate it, and I wouldn’t like to speak with you again about it.

“That sounds amazing. I’ll think about it and let me get back to you.”

During the summer of my freshman year, I started a club called Life on the Hill. The club produces videos about life at my high school, and our Fall 2020 feature was a 76-second interview with an incoming international student. From her response, I was sure that she was as in love with the idea as I.

Two weeks elapsed with no response from her.

How long does it take her to think about filming a video for a school club? I was confused, but I comforted myself that she was just a little nervous about having her video on the internet. After all, my club’s videos get an average of 1500

Throughout my first year in America, I considered America to be radically different from China. I couldn’t understand their culture of preceding negative comments with positive ones. They might not say everything they’re thinking to be polite. But whatever they say can be interpreted literally. But now, going into my third year in the country, I’m starting to realize the similarities between America and China. Sure, they have many differences. As Richard Conrad points out in Culture Hacks, Americans precede criticism with compliments, while Chinese people always start with the negative. Ultimately, Americans being euphemistic is the same as how the Chinese try to save face. Americans imply what they truly mean to save the other person’s face. Had the international student told me that she hated my idea in front of our friends, she would have embarrassed me in front of people.

Of course, I still haven’t figured out everything about America. There remains copious space of exploration in grammar (my writing still contains many awkward phrases) and humor (I don’t laugh at “The Office”). Nevertheless, my past two years in America truly broadened my horizons and permitted me to look beyond what was familiar.

37 POINTS OF VIEW *** ***
Let’s take a step back from our screens and focus a bit more on ourselves.


Sept. 4, 2011. The day had been good, but school was tiring. I lay down on my couch to watch a bit of TV and relax, unprepared for what would happen next. On the screen, a brunette woman is swimming in the crystal clear waters of Bora Bora. The ocean floor is visible only feet from where she wades. Not a cloud visible in the radiant sky or a thought in her mind. She notices something is missing though. She reaches up to grasp her ear lobe. Suddenly, her mouth opens to scream. “Oh my gosh, I’m gonna cry,” Kim Kardashian shrieks. “My diamond earring!”

Most of us probably remember this iconic moment during Season 6 of “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” Luckily, just a while later Kylie Jenner found Kim’s $75,000 diamond stud in the crystal waters. But I was extremely invested, weren’t you? Wondering — what will happen next?

In this day and age, everyone seems very obsessed with everyone else. Not only on reality TV shows, but social media too. I know we go home and scroll mindlessly through Instagram or TikTok, learning all the brainnumbing dances. A study from the Pew Research Center found that teens who spend over 10 hours on social media per week are 56 percent more likely to report being unhappy than those who spend less. Instead of focusing on ourselves, we’d rather watch celebrities make a fool of themselves on scripted television shows. How can we expect to

become successful when we don’t take the time to learn about the only person that matters? Yourself.

My concern is that our society invests an excessive amount of our time into other people’s lives: Looking at those Instagram Barbies, or flawless, false bodies on reality TV; stalking people on the internet because you just have the extra time; staring at your crush’s Instagram page in the hopes it’ll get him to notice you. Why should we waste valuable hours? Why don’t we make social time instead of screen time? I’m not being fake when I say that all this drama results in mental health issues that can lead to tragic outcomes. The solution: Let’s take a step back from our screens and focus a bit more on ourselves. Don’t become plastic, but it’s about time that you glamorize yourself.

You might be thinking — Well, I don’t do that… I just watch reality TV for fun and have social media to talk with my friends. Just because I’m looking at other people doesn’t mean I’m comparing myself to them. Studies show that 88 percent of women compare themselves to images they observe on social media, with over half of them emphasizing that the comparison is unfavorable. It’s not just women, either. Studies also show that 65 percent of men compare themselves to images they observe on social media. Comparing is not only prominent in social media, but in everyday life as well. According to some studies, as much as 10 percent of our

thoughts involve comparisons of some kind. Basically, anytime a thought comes to your mind, there’s a 1-in-10 chance that you’re measuring yourself to others.

Social comparison theory is the idea that people determine their own social and personal worth based on how they compare to others around them.

Social comparison theory is something I struggle with everyday. I can think of several instances when I thought the worst about myself because I thought the best of someone else. For example, there is a girl who goes to my school, we’ll call her “Kayla.” Every time I see Kayla, the first thing that pops into my mind is, Dang, wish I could have won the genetic lottery like her. Whenever I’m feeling down about myself, I use Kayla as an excuse. I always vent — “Why couldn’t I just look like Kayla!” I practically praise Kayla while simultaneously hating myself. Definitely a habit to break.

Comparing ourselves also pertains to celebrities. Lip fillers. Nose jobs. Brazilian butt lifts. Three things that we probably can’t afford. But you know who can? Celebrities. For instance, Kylie Jenner looks completely different than she did when first rising to fame on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” Although most celebrities, including Kylie, aren’t open to the public about their surgery, it’s fairly easy to see that their change in features is more than “maturing.”’ On the other hand, Kris Jenner has acknowledged receiving Botox, a



breast augmentation, a facelift, and fillers. All of these physical adjustments have cost Kris around $70,000, but other sources say that she’s spent around $1 million on plastic surgery. That’s the exact reason why celebs always look so good despite how old they get — it’s not their real looks! There is no sense in comparing yourself to a celebrity if it’s impossible for you to look like that. It’s not natural, so let’s not compare ourselves to tens of thousands of dollars. Plus, there are quite a few celebs with botched plastic surgery who I would not want to resemble.

Comparison is a celebrity, always taking up our society’s attention

Now while we may scoff at how ridiculous it is to measure ourselves to other people, we should also come to terms with the consequences it can have on our society. For many, situations relating to comparison have affected their family, friends, or even oneself. Comparison leads to low self-esteem, which then leads to negative thoughts, relationship problems, fear of trying, perfectionism, fear of judgment, low resilience, lack of self-care, and self-harming behaviors. Suicide has been the second-leading cause of death among teens in the U.S. since 2016. According to a study published in Scientific Reports, self-esteem issues are a major factor in those whose have suicidal thoughts. Research done by author Simon Wilksch at Flinders University in South Australia suggests that young people who use social media are more likely to develop an eating disorder. Skipping meals and other behaviors related to eating disorders were reported by 52 percent of girls and 45 percent of boys participating in the study.

Personally, I can’t seem to walk out of the house without looking somewhat presentable. I put on mascara and do my hair, no matter where I’m going. I have this pressure to look good all the time. I fear that I won’t measure up to the idea that people have of me in their heads. I have a friend with an eating disorder. At one time she would go periods without eating and then just binge — making herself sick. Now, even though she’s getting better, she doesn’t let herself eat something really good if it seems too unhealthy. She feels pressure to look slender all the time. Every year we change the clothes we wear. The words we use. The way we act. Because we feel the pressure to be accepted by others.

Online or offline — comparing ourselves leads to adjustments in our lives.

Albert Ellis, an American psychologist, once said, “Self-esteem is perhaps the greatest emotional sickness known to humans.” So, how do we defend ourselves from this deadly illness? What can prevent a worldwide pandemic of comparison? Susan Haas in Psychology Today writes that we should avoid scrolling mindlessly through social media and follow a few steps:

Step one — become aware of and avoid your triggers. Notice the circumstances that allow you to compare yourself. Make a list of who and what you frequently envy. Now avoid those things.

Step two — remind yourself that other people’s outsides can’t be compared to your insides. Remember that good looks don’t make a high GPA. Nice hair will never be the equivalent of kindness.

Step three — Be grateful for the good in your life, and resist any lies that shout “it’s not enough!” I find that this helps me understand how blessed I am in life. Having a nice face, getting boys easy, or having a big following is just all extra contrasted to possessing family and friends.

We all feel pressure one way or another by measuring ourselves to others. We all lose a bit of self-esteem when someone appears better than us. We all can work toward believing that we are enough. Be motivated and become successful — don’t let anyone else’s appearance get in your way.

April 14, 2022. I’m grabbing my popcorn out of the microwave and turning on the TV. I select Hulu, the premiere of “The Kardashians” appears, and I settle in to follow the current drama. The Kardashian family might still have a bit of a hold on us, but don’t let that affect your life. All that drama just isn’t worth it. Comparison is a celebrity, always taking up our society’s attention. While we might not have those $75,000 diamond earrings, we are enough and we should remember that. Being rich, famous, and good looking isn’t everything.

Comparison is useless. Everyone is born unique. You are you, and I am I. You have qualities that no one else has. Once you start living your life as yourself, free from caring about others opinions, you will truly become happy.



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Humanity is of multiple struggles: the struggles between vanity and ability, the contentions between desire and reality, and most importantly, the balance of ambition and responsibility. Ambitions may emerge in distinct forms; they may be of materialistic grounds or intellectual grounds. In the novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley conveys the necessity of balancing the acquisition of knowledge and its destructive nature if uncontained. This is depicted by Frankenstein’s obsessive, yet irresponsible attempt to access the secrets of life that led to the creation of a creature, whose destructive actions left Frankenstein repenting for being the indirect cause of the deaths of loved ones.

The balance of ambition and responsibility is at the heart of Frankenstein, taken in the form of the pursuit of knowledge.

Frankenstein’s comparison of himself to Satan, “the archangel who aspired to omnipotence,” highlights the grandiosity of Frankenstein’s desires (Shelley 194). The narrative, on the other hand, shows

that ambition isn’t enough to generate evil. Walton is introduced as a figure with as much ambition as Frankenstein, but he chooses to put his ambition aside for the sake of his team. The true mistake that Frankenstein makes is that he prioritizes his intellectual ambition over his responsibility to others, including Justine and the creature he created. The lack of responsibility to contain one’s pursuit of knowledge or any form of ambitious endeavors, engenders the imbalance of humanity’s desire and obligations, sowing the seeds of evil ends.

The disregard for responsibility produced false accusations about Justine and led to her imprisonment and eventual death. In the end, Frankenstein regretted making his ambition for knowledge an ungauged reservoir, as he was the indirect cause of the deaths, being the creator of the murderer. Frankenstein realized that he was an instrument in the suffering of others because without his search for knowledge and the creation of the “monster,” Justine and William would have remained alive. Yet, his repenting was not completely exhaustive in the means that his creation was not in fact what caused the murders: the ignorance of his creation

did. Frankenstein’s irresponsibility in taking care of his creation led to the suffering of his loved ones, as well as the product of his intellectual success: the creature. “Believe me, Frankenstein: I was benevolent, my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow creatures, who owe me nothing? they spurn and hate me” (Shelley 69). The words of the creature disclosed a complex character, rather than just a monstrosity born with

Review by Katherine Chen, Taipei, Taiwan HORROR/SCI-FI Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley conveys the necessity of balancing the acquisition of knowledge and its destructive nature if uncontained

innate turpitude. He revealed how his creator kindled his growing depravity by placing him in complete forlornness. Frankenstein created the monster to satiate his thirst for knowledge; but in the end, the creature suffered because of his lack of guidance. This especially demonstrates the tragic consequence of an overly passionate inquisition of knowledge, and the stark contrast of negligence toward the product of that intellectual quest.

Shelley’s novel Frankenstein stresses the importance of reconciling the acquisition of knowledge with its deadly tendency if left unchecked. Frankenstein’s zealous, yet negligent, endeavor to unlock the secrets of life led to the formation of a creature whose devastating deeds spurred Frankenstein to regret inadvertently causing the deaths of loved ones. Knowledge and the pursuit of it are one form of humanity’s ambitions and accomplishments, but if left in flames of ungoverned ardor and irresponsibility, all struggles will be in vain in face of the consequences that befall. Adversity, be it mental or physical, personal or interpersonal, will torment the Frankensteins — the ambitious yet irresponsible members of human society.

The Shining

Review by Nathan Duty Hartland, WI

In the ever-popular novel The Shining by Stephen King, we are introduced to a very odd family living in the climate of the early 1970s. Our three main characters are the Torrances: Jack, Wendy, and Danny. Our main narrator is Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic who has some anger issues. Jack has found a job opportunity at The Overlook Hotel, a resort high up in the mountains in Colorado. He takes this opportunity as his last chance to keep his family together, after almost destroying it several times.

Jack is depicted as a very genuine man, who is good in nature but has just made some mistakes. He truly loves his family and wants to do what is best for his son, Danny. This characterization is in great contrast to its movie counterpart. In the

movie, Jack Torrance is a violent and overall terrible person who doesn’t seem to have gotten over his alcoholism. In my opinion, the book’s depiction of Jack is a much better use for this tragic story. We are drawn in to like Jack as a character, making his decline even more tragic.

Danny is the second-most frequent narrator. He is a bright kid and can do things that not many others can. Danny is the character we get the most scares out of when it comes to his dreams, visions, and ability to read the minds of others. He sees that The Overlook is a very bad place right away, already seeing horrific things as soon as he gets there. The use of a child for such an important and scary part in this book is super effective in traumatizing the reader, just as much as Danny. You can’t describe things in a much more horrific way than through the innocent and undeserving eyes of a child.

Wendy, Jack’s wife and Danny’s mother, is given the spotlight scarcely, but very intentionally. She is belittled by thoughts of jealousy toward Jack and Danny’s relationship, as they are much closer than she likes, and she feels like an outcast in her own family. She serves to further our preference for her husband Jack over her.

Finally, Dick Hallorann is given the steering wheel when he hears Danny call for him to come save him. Dick is a Black man in the 1970s, so he undergoes very vivid racism throughout his whole experience in the book. His plot is separate, but for the purpose of giving us another perspective and meaning, as well as a break from the horrific events happening at The Overlook. In my opinion, the vividly racist scenes and depictions in this part of the story are unnecessary for the overall


purpose of the novel, but do serve a purpose of their own. King is very purposeful in his writing and wanted to highlight more than just the horror elements of the novel. It almost seems as if he’s trying to show us a real-life horror story through this part of the book.

It is well-known that King disliked the movie depiction of his book, and after reading it, it’s easy to see why. If you have an interest in this story, I would recommend that you read the book first because the movie does it a terrible injustice. This book is horrifically captivating. Stephen King finds the perfect balance of description without over-analyzing a scene. His literary

nature is truly unique, and it’s quite

this book is horrifically captivating

understandable why he has been so successful as one of the world’s greatest horror authors. I greatly enjoyed his use of unique descriptive words that weren’t so diverse as to confuse me, but just varied enough that it grew my vocabulary.

There is a perfect arc throughout the book, never giving a dry moment for the reader to lose interest, while also never quite giving in to what is going

to happen next. Despite the book’s length, it is a very quick read for anyone who can enjoy a really easy read in terms of story. I finished this book in a week — something I had never expected going in.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves horror or dramatic stories. But this is not just a horror book; it is one of the most well-executed pieces of literature I have ever read. If you don’t have the stomach for horror, there are many redeeming qualities. The Shining does not only shine as a horror book, but as a captivating drama and historical piece.




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Review by Olivia Wolbert, Hartland, WI

Produced and imagined beautifully, “Hereditary” is one of those movies that stays with you long after viewing it. Not only does it continue to shock during the entire movie, the underlying messages transform it from purely horror into a psychological thriller. The movie did not rely on cheap scares to keep the audience engaged, but a complex story line you may struggle to understand on first watch. Leaving you in the dark for the majority of the movie was one of the keys in building intrigue. While the supernatural element is well developed, the most important aspect is the all-encompassing notion of family. We don’t have control over family, or problems we were predestined to have; all we have control over is how we deal with it.

The Graham family faces the death of their youngest child, Charlie, at the accidental hands of her older brother. That in itself is hard to watch play out, due to the impeccable acting. Ari Aster is a brilliant cinematographer and producer who knows exactly how to get the most emotion out of the viewer with his selected way of filming. Creating the most twisted and disturbed storyline possible without the movie becoming corny is a feat in itself, but he goes beyond, producing an elaborate storyline and making it one of the most memorable pieces of work I’ve ever watched.

The movie is presented in a way where you feel like you are watching this family in a doll house, and you are simply an observer. This feeling is implied by the events occurring, and how you slowly realize the family has no control over what is going on in their lives, almost like being controlled by an outside force. That notion creeps in at the end when everything comes fullcircle. Aster achieved this sinking feeling by use of cinematography, specifically placed shots, and “Easter eggs.”

Although the ending is extremely unexpected, it makes complete sense when you analyze the clues given before. A technique Aster employed was distraction. He leads you away from the clues that were there the whole time.

After watching the movie multiple times, I would recommend it to anyone who likes a horror film that moves you.

HORROR Hereditary dir. Ari Aster
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It took me a while to get around to seeing M. Night Shyamalan’s “new” film “Old,” partially because I was busy and partially because I was afraid of what I might see.

Akin to the majority of its viewers, my hopes rose after the trailers. The premise was good, like many of Shyamalan’s other films, but I was afraid I’d be disappointed yet again — I’ll never forget about his infamous adaptation of “The Last Airbender.”

But a year after “Old” was released to the public, I can now finally justify my fear for not wanting to watch it. With an awkward family dynamic, and terrible dialogue, I died watching it — like many of the characters in the film. It was rated 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, and rightfully so.

The film is about a vacationing

family who visits a secluded beach accompanied by a couple of other physiologically or psychologically impaired strangers. The characters come to find that the beach causes them to age at a rapid rate, every half-hour equaling roughly one year of life, and they attempt to escape before their time runs out. That sounds interesting. But while time may have flown by for them, for me and my family, that 1 hour and 48 minutes couldn’t have been any longer.

The dialogue was horrid. One-liners like “My wife has epilepsy. My name is Jared,” and “I don’t like this dynamic at all,” felt more forced than Amy Schumer’s standup comedy. Shyamalan should’ve taken some inspiration from John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place.”

Maybe then I could enjoy the beautiful cinematography without interruption from a pregnant fiveyear-old uttering “It’s okay, I just got a little fat.”

Let’s be honest — the movie was a mess. The plot was insufficient; not much happened other than the majority of the characters dying, which is typical for slasher films, but should not be the focus for a psychological thriller. The ending was predictable and the writing made me want to bleach out my eyes in a “Bird Box” sort of way. Members of the family have varying accents, which makes the dynamic feel artificial and forced. The other characters are bizarre as well, including but not limited to: an antisocial, nose-bleeding rap star, a body dysmorphic hustler suffering from osteoporosis, and a schizophrenic surgeon with a lust for blood. And like he did in his film “Split” back in 2016, Shyamalan once again inaccurately portrays misunderstood mental disorders.

But the worst part… It wasn’t scary. I usually enjoy horror movies like the “SAW” franchise, “Cabin in the Woods,” or Damien Leone’s


2016 slasher “Terrifier.” And while I understand this film was a more psychological thriller, I would’ve enjoyed seeing the mangled up corpses or at least getting more detailed death scenes. It’s a horror movie — I want to squirm and duck for cover at every horrific scene. The only scene that really spoke horror was when Chrystal (the osteoporotic trophy wife) contorted her body in such a way that I got flashbacks to scenes from the iconic films “The Ring” and “The Grudge.”

So when it comes to whether you should chip in $20 to watch Shyamalan’s latest hit film, I suggest going to buy yourself a Chick-fil-A meal instead. The only thing scary about this movie was how bad it was.

Review by Evan Falls, Bristow, VA

James Whale’s 1931 horror film, “Frankenstein,” is an undoubtedly

Review by Francesca Smith, Oconomowoc, WI HORROR HORROR Old dir. M. Night Shyamalan Frankenstein dir. James Whale

iconic tale that certainly has much to be remembered for. The story itself is derived from the timeless concept crafted by Mary Shelley in her original novel of the same name, and has spawned many influenced films under a subgenre that could perhaps be classified as “master versus creation” or something of the like. Among its other everlasting elements, the film’s depiction of a mad scientist from actor Colin Clive is now a universally recognized trope that is often replicated in media. Many people are likely all-too familiar with his ecstatic declaration: “It’s alive! It’s alive!” Of course, the character of Dr. Frankenstein wouldn’t amount to very much without the fruits of his

the finality of death as defined by the Lord Almighty. He even declares, in a line that was censored in some showings for blasphemy: “Now I know what it feels like to BE God!” This is his sick conjuring, and the monster’s awakening is the result of a morally twisted power trip. The demonstration of a subverted moral code is even further accentuated with the dreary, gothic imagery of the windmill, in which Frankenstein conducts his work, as well as the dark shadows borne from the film’s German-expressionist visual style (a high point of the production). It’s clear as day that Dr. Frankenstein is a deranged individual — at least, his actions show this. Yet, he is not necessarily a social outcast. His

strand, but because it is a clashing of master and creation through base physicality (albeit, this carries tension in its own right). In the end, Frankenstein’s monster perishes to torch-fire while the doctor himself manages to narrowly elude death. Although I find that the film missed the mark here, its ending does solidify the despondency of the monster’s plight, and works to punctuate a theme of unpunished human cruelty. The story is, as I said, timeless, and aside from the weaker plot points that serve the film’s theatrics, it is still compelling even to this day. But, for “Frankenstein’s” audience members in attendance for their 1931 screening, the film offered not just a plot that was captivating, but an underbelly that was both horrifically sinister and odious.

toil. It is in the hideously contrived monster itself, an affront to God and a gratuitous demonstration of triumph over natural law, that the mad doctor himself is given his character.

Dr. Frankenstein’s primary goal at the beginning of the film is to scrounge for the deceased remains of corpses and amalgamate a vessel into which he hopes to imbue the spark of life. In the first half, there appears an obvious obsession with what he merely refers to as his “work.” This is a clear euphemism, as his experimentation is an overt attempt to play God. By defiling graves, scouring the gallows, and digging anywhere he can for spare parts of the human anatomy, Dr. Frankenstein blatantly desecrates the hallowed grounds of the dead. In stitching these limbs together and breathing a new vitality into his abhorrent creation, he goes a step further and unabashedly disregards

father is a wealthy baron, and the film introduces the woman who he’s set to marry in the first act.

Here begins some nitpicks I have with the writing. My biggest gripe with the script is that after Frankenstein’s plans go awry, it is very quick to give him an out. When the monster begins killing in selfdefense and is eventually sedated, Frankenstein is planted back home into his perfectly ordinary, communal village where he fits like a glove and forsakes control over his creature to a fellow doctor. More importantly, he himself seems to forget about the whole ordeal surrounding his monstrous creation rather abruptly. I was shocked to find that his obsession had subsided so fast. At this point, with how little the doctor cared about his humanoid creation on an emotional level, the film’s climax was climactic not because it was contextualized with a profoundly deep emotional

While this horror flick doesn’t quite imbue viewers with ghastly fear anymore, audiences at the time of release were appalled with the unfamiliarly dismal and backwards events unfolding on screen. For a filmgoer in 1931, there was a lot that they had been previously unexposed to and, unlike modern, media-inundated Americans, the act of digging up a casket or showing the dangling feet of a hanged man were images causing ample distress in their own right. Also worth retreading over is the aforementioned dialogue from Dr. Frankenstein, which was considered blasphemous in multiple parts of the U.S., and thereby censored in select screenings. In fact, the movie was released with a prologue that almost ensured all of these elements would be too much to bear for particularly sensitive viewers. In this introduction, a welldressed man on a stage provided a cautionary forewarning to the audience. He detailed the film as one that would potentially “shock,” “thrill,” and/or “horrify,” closing the pre-show with an ominous conclusory statement: “Well, we warned you.” While I certainly didn’t

[The film’s] brutal imagery and setdesign manage to ooze a disheartening appearance, even after all these years

need such an accommodation from the part of the studio, it is intriguing to consider just how little it took to frighten contemporary audiences of the 1930s.

This isn’t to say that the film is helplessly outdated or obsolete.

Although I am much less offended by the film than an original audience would have been, its brutal imagery and set-design manage to ooze a disheartening appearance, even after all these years. Additionally, the performances remain a high point, with Dr. Frankenstein’s crazed scheming truly coming out in Clive’s version of the character, and the monster being exceptionally acted — chiefly through bodily gestures — by the great Boris Karloff. His portrayal of Frankenstein’s abomination is iconic and instantly recognizable for good reason. His slow, tentative movements and broad, awkward mannerisms sell the disorientation, innate gentleness, and capacity for violence that characterizes Frankenstein’s monster. The sympathy created for the creature because of Karloff’s breakout performance helped offset the noticeable lack of emotional tether joining it with its master,

Frankenstein. The special effects used to morph his usual face into the iconic countenance of the creature still hold up. The half-closed, droopy eyelids and Neanderthal-like, jutting brow ridge are two components that worked especially well without making the costume look inadvertently comical. People of the era certainly found Frankenstein’s monster to be anything but comedic. The actress who played Dr. Frankenstein’s fiancée, Mae Clark, is even reported to have remarked a genuine dread of Karloff on set whilst he was done-up and formally in character. Though I personally didn’t find it as bone-chilling, I do respect the tremendous effort put into the character, both from Karloff himself, as well as the makeup department.

A massive takeaway for me after viewing this is the understanding that, as the years have gone by, concepts and their novelty have become less and less important in filmmaking than the execution of those ideas. With the ease of access to an abundance of movies, video games, and television shows, people are much harder to impress in the modern age — for better or for worse. Mere notions that seem to encroach upon the

moral zeitgeist of Americans aren’t effective anymore because, well, we’ve simply seen too much and have drifted quite far from the obstinate morals held by residents of the 1930s. Overstimulation of the American populace has brought forth an age where entertainment media must bombard viewers with operatic music, flashy and bombastic CGI imagery, and witty performances from an all-star cast in order to draw a modicum of emotion. Though a contemporary culture that arose after the ascension of mass media is inevitably going to find little interest in novel ideas alone, there exist many people who reject the themepark approach that Hollywood studios are using for many modern film productions. I don’t think “Frankenstein” is a flawless film, but it is a breath of fresh air to look back at an old Hollywood feature to see just how far we’ve come, and the departure that the film industry has taken from it since. Though it remains a much simpler feat in filmmaking compared to what is being churned out of the industry nowadays, “Frankenstein” was extraordinary for its time, and its legacy is a testament to the lingering affinity that people still have for more grounded tales.


Art Contest:


We asked you to put your creative skills to work while capturing the likenesses and essences of your portrait subjects. Here are some of our favorites!
This artwork is a piece of self-portrait painting that expresses my love to my cat, Sofie. Sofie is the most adorable cat in the world and I can’t live without her.
I used colored pencils for this art. I wanted to emphasize the silly expression I was making in the reference photo through this art, so all the colors are very bold and bright, showing excitement.

A self-portrait made with color pencils. A habit of mine is making silly facial expressions (some of which I don’t even notice myself) so I decided to illustrate one of my many faces.


This piece is a self-portrait, and is about the abstract parts of ourselves that cannot be confined to standard realism or the real world.

“THE INSPIRATIONAL ARCHITECT” BY MICHAEL GAN, SHANGHAI, CHINA This portrait depicts the ChineseAmerican architect I. M. Pei at age 100. He inspired my journey of exploration into architecture, and this portrait is my way of remembering his amazing legacy. “CAITLYN” BY CAITLYN KIM, CERRITOS, CA



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a log cabin

A log cabin rests atop green slopes; tall grass grows around it. In the distance, large mountains loom over the grassy hills — a mother watching over her children. Next to the cabin, an apple tree grows, providing fresh fruit for whoever can take it. From the cabin, a trail cuts through the grass, leading to a nearby forest.

From the forest, a man emerges; and behind him, a dog. He carries a stack of logs and an ax. The path to the forest is not too long, only a ten minute walk. They arrive back at the cabin as the sun begins to set. The man sets the wood inside and locks the door tightly behind him.

The cabin is a small, single-bedroom house with one bathroom. A nice fireplace lies opposite to the kitchen in the main room. Skis are propped up in one corner, and a rocking chair in the other. The man sits down in front of his fireplace on a large couch, and his dog joins him. A large window lets in the last remaining light of the day.

As the man watches, the sun disappears from the horizon; the dog begins to whimper. “There, there,” the man pets the dog gently. The moon rises and casts an eerie light over the grassy wasteland outside. The man makes his way to his bedroom, grabbing a pistol from his kitchen counter on his way over. He closes his bedroom door behind him. He lays down, his dog with him, and stares up at the ceiling — waiting.

There’s a knock on his door, followed by another on his window. Click. The man cocks his pistol. He begins to hear taps along his window and walls. Slowly, he gets up and approaches the bedroom door. The door creaks open, and the man sticks his gun out. Before the man can react, something grabs his arm and pulls hard.

A scream echoes in the grassy plains. The pale moon lights up the night sky. A log cabin rests quietly atop green slopes.


The girls giggled all night. Hetty’s mom would peek her head into the living room with tired eyes, begging them to quiet down. Her pleas fed the children’s laughter as they danced throughout the room in their pajamas, the movie in the background forgotten. Tears fell from Hetty’s joyous eyes as she rolled on the floor, her crimson red hair so frizzy she looked like a monster. Thea leaped from the couches, a permanent smile strewed across her face. What the girls were laughing about was unknown and unimportant, for summer movie nights were always filled to the brim with joy. However, due to Thea’s insomnia, she couldn’t stay the night. She knew what would commence once the end credits of the movie stopped.

When the time arrived, Hetty’s

mom entered the living room and lectured the girls about the food that covered the floor. Hetty giggled at her mom as Thea apologized, holding back giggles herself.

“All right, girls. Time for you to go home now, Thea.” Hetty’s mom exclaimed, making a pit rise inside Thea’s throat. Thea knew she had to go home eventually. The windows shook from the wind as tears filled her eyes. She let her slick, black hair cover her face as Hetty’s mom asked if she needed anything for the journey. Thea gratefully took the flashlight offered and was relieved when Hetty volunteered to walk her halfway down the block.

The path home in the rural neighborhood was stupidly short. However, a tinge of terror coursed through her as Hetty opened the front door, unveiling the chilly

summer night. It couldn’t be much after 11 PM, but the inky black sky darkened the flashlight’s attempt to light the way down Hetty’s driveway. Unspoken anxiety was shared between the girls as they clutched their light source like their lives depended on it.

It was cold for a night in July. A full moon slept behind the heavy clouds that hid the starry sky from view. Hetty rubbed her elbows as goosebumps stretched down her arms when a sickening breeze swept through the darkened neighborhood. Silence consumed the air as the girls nervously listened to the frogs stirring behind a neighbor’s house. A bead of cold sweat dribbled down Thea’s back as she approached the flickering street light, marking the halfway point of the dreaded journey.


Hetty gave a nervous laugh as she said good night to Thea. “Have a good sleep, Thea. See you tomorrow?” Hetty’s voice quivered as her teeth chattered.

Thea pulled at her flimsy pajamas, wishing Hetty wouldn’t go. “Thanks, see you tomorrow.” And the girls went their separate ways.

The cold air pierced Thea’s legs as she walked past the streetlight. The wind licked at her face, making

the sound, she tripped on a root and fell to her knees. Thea whimpered as the footsteps progressed towards her. Thea turned her body to unveil the regretful face of the killer, raising their arm and gripping a blade. This dream was different from the others because Thea got to see the face of the murderer before she jolted up from her nightmare. It was Hetty.

Thea bit her lip, trying to forget the awful vision of her best friend in the woods. It’s all fake. It’s not real. Thea convinced herself. The whole neighborhood was asleep; only silence reached the center of the street where Thea trembled.

her trust and happiness. Thea thought about her defeated fear of the late-night walk home as she headed over to Hetty’s house to play. After knocking twice, Hetty’s mom answered the door with concerned eyes.

“Good morning! Can Hetty play?” Thea peaked through the door. Hetty usually watched TV in the morning.

That’s when Hetty’s mom’s face was drained of color. Her hand came to her mouth as she whispered, “I thought Hetty stayed the night at your house.”

Thea squint her eyes in dismay. She clutched her flashlight tighter, for she could no longer hear the fading footsteps of Hetty walking back to her house. Thea hummed an uplifting tune as the rustle in the near woods picked at her ears, daring her to run. It was like the darkness knew she was alone. Thea hummed louder.

She was about five houses away from hers when Thea heard leaves rustling behind the neighborhood. It was then that she realized the nightmare she had the night before, and her mind started racing. The dream always started the same, Thea reminisced.

She stood in the middle of the dense woods, crisp leaves swaying in the summer breeze. The sky was devastatingly dark; surrounding trees swallowed the faint source of light from the illuminating moon. Thea heard a branch snap behind her, and panic spread through her body. Starting to walk away from

With her house in sight, she picked up her pace and pumped her arms as she hummed her happy tune. With the light at the end of the tunnel, Thea accelerated to a run and burst through the door of her home. Despite the fact that the walk was only about five minutes, she tried to catch her breath as her parents greeted her in the kitchen. After saying her goodnights to her family who wished her good sleep, Thea headed to bed. The next morning, Thea had forgotten about the nightmares that damaged

Thea’s face flushed with terror, and her thoughts of the night before came flooding back. Hetty’s mom looks down at Thea’s muddied feet, leaves stuck to her calves.

“Thea,” Hetty’s mom croaked slowly, “...what happened?”

Thea felt the all too familiar pit in her stomach grow as she stepped away from the welcoming door. She looked down at her hands. A crimson liquid dripped from her shaking fingers. It wasn’t a dream.

“I thought that if she took my place, the nightmares would stop.”




The clouds rushed away from the sky to reveal a perfectly blue ocean of light. The sunshine beamed down on a rustic house surrounded by a field of grass. There stood a tall young man, alone, waiting for an ounce of validation from God. He combed back his white hair away from his face, revealing his aching eyes drowning in a waterfall of tears. He peered down at his red-stained hands, understanding finally what he had done wrong. July 18th, 2009.

Dust danced in the ray of light, beaming from the window. A girl prancing around the rustic house appeared for a moment in the hallway before prancing back into the kitchen. Emet closed the doors behind him, not fearing the loud creak it made; he longed to know what was behind them. The abandoned house.

He made his way towards her, curious as to what followed. Stories of horror about the young girl sprouted around the town for years, none of which scared Emet. There he was, at the edge of the hallway, parting ways between it and the kitchen. Emet panned the scene until he caught sight of the tangled, unwashed head of hair just below parallel to his hips. He peered down at the girl and noticed her oatmeal dress and muddy shoes. The vinyl floor around her was left grimy and stained, unlike the rest of the kitchen. It was almost as though the kitchen was a different place. Separate from the rest of the dark, unclean house, it was lit up with cream-colored lights and furnished with bright, retro decor. Classical Opera music whispered in the background on an old, rusty record player.

Emet, intrigued by the little girl, tried getting her to talk. “What’s your name?”

The girl straightened her shoulders and glared up at Emet. She was confused — could he see her? He was talking to her? Suddenly, without skipping a beat of Emet’s heart, the girl fled the kitchen, dashing to a new part of the house

Emet’s whole body, sinking deep into the earth’s core. He found himself on his knees in complete darkness, trapped by it. Where could he go? What can he do?

The little girl called out to him from afar, “Little boy, little boy, you


and laughing all the way there. He felt the echoing, divine laughter of the girl wrap around his neck and leak into his ears, taking captivity of his heart.

Emet followed quickly behind her, tracking the girl by the muddy footprints she left behind. Eventually, the footprints stopped. He found himself alone in a bedroom. This one was also lit up with cream-colored lights and furnished with bright, retro decor. Except, the girl was missing. Emet turned about, searching for her, until…

Out of nowhere, the girl leaped at him. What did he miss? He had searched the whole room from top to bottom, but she was nowhere to be found — until now. Struggling to stay afoot while entangled by the girl, Emet cried out in pain, even while knowing no one would hear him. What was a cute little girl had turned into a beast that enveloped

are weak. You’re weak, just like the others.” His life, built around defeating this creature, was all erased in the span of a minute. He refused to listen, though. He felt insulted that his final boss mocked him after all he had accomplished.

Emet rose to his feet, opened his eyes, and grabbed the beast by its neck. He forced it to the ground. In the blink of an eye, Emet noticed his hands, gripping the remains of a little girl. In utter confusion, he lifted himself from the bloodstained carpet.

An alarm sounded, and Dr. Gibbens pushed open the metal door to Emet’s hospital room. “You are okay Emet,” Gibbens said, “Glad you survived; that crash was brutal. I’m surprised you’re awake so soon.”

Was it all a dream? Emet thought as he opened his eyes. He was met only by Dr. Gibbens, who had a familiar face…


There was a person in the back of the class. They’d been there since the beginning of the year, and no one had questioned their presence. Their dark hair hung in front of their face so that their facial features were blocked from view, their hands always in their pockets — but they always sat straight as a line, as if they were ready to pay attention.

They never spoke, never raised their hand, and were always the last one in the classroom. No one ever saw the person leave or enter.

Whenever the bell rang, they’d appear out of thin air — ready to start the day. People avoided this person like the plague.

But one day, they disappeared. In a blink, they were gone — never to show up again. The kids pondered what could’ve happened. Rumors ran wild for years, questions of where the nameless student might’ve gone.

“Maybe they got tired of the name calling,” some suggested. “Maybe they were kicked out.”

As time went on and years went by, long after those students had graduated and gone off to do bigger and better things, the school shut down, left abandoned to nature. One of those students — once a curious girl, and now an even more curious adult — brought her team

in to investigate the scene, thinking that maybe there had been more to this.

“Could’ve been a missing person’s case,” one of her colleagues suggested as they avoided the holes in the ground now leading to a horrible drop into the basement. “No name, no face. Hate to say it, but maybe it was-“

“No-” she said quickly, cutting him off. “No, it wasn’t that. I promise you it wasn’t that.” The man seemed to not believe her, but he nodded anyway and they continued on.

She twisted the doorknob open to the classroom she hadn’t seen in ages, once filled with pictures on the walls but now replaced with cracks and grime.

“Here goes nothing.” She opened the door. She looked up and scanned the room and empty desks as the memories flooded back to her. Memories of happy laughter and people she hadn’t seen in person since she’d left; people she’d probably never see again. But there was one that remained; a figure — no, a person — that sat in the corner, much taller than she remembered.

“Hello?” she said. And they lifted their head and their hair fell behind them, finally revealing a face.


Rotting Away

They all rot around me, decomposing away,  Their flesh molds shades of rotten green and gray,  It starts small, on an elbow or an arm, But then it spreads and soon all can see the harm, An alarm sounds, a child cries,  The terror of it all is too much to summarize.

They all rot around me, decomposing away, Their skin yellows and molds, and yet mine never seems to sway,  I watch as all I know slowly gets eaten through, But I remain unaffected, though the precautions I take are few,  My school has closed and my friends are gone,  And yet my immunities still wears on,  Some days I wish it was not so,  For the true horror is watching all my loved ones go.

They all rot around me, decomposing away,  A bone exposed as their skin begins to decay,  The fortunate ones go quick, though in pain, But lady luck will not favor those who remain, They will wither and wilt, rotting but alive, The last to diminish is the whites of their eye, Their stomachs hollow, devoured from the inside out, Their throats ripped, torn from the agony of not being able to shout, And as their hearts turns black, the life inside begins to wane, But the acidic kiss of death will not be granted in vain.

They all rot around me, decomposing away, Apathy is all I feel knowing I will never reach my lucky day, Forced to remain when all I want is to rot,  I wonder if my desire is cruel when so many do not,  But they haven’t watched as their loved ones mold, Remaining behind while they experience a freight untold.

They all rot around me, decomposing away, But as I stare at my arm, my hand, and my leg, I grin leisurely for today is my lucky day, Because I have finally, finally  begun to rot away.



The Passing Ship

Every morning at exactly 9:07 AM, Elizabeth would enjoy her morning coffee in the garden of her father’s lighthouse and wait for her favorite ship to pass by.

Every morning, at exactly 9:07 AM, Jonathan would walk out on the ship deck to climb the rigging and watch for danger.

Every morning at exactly 9:07 AM, for the briefest of moments, Elizabeth and Jonathan would lock eyes and share a smile.

Until one day, Jonathan wasn’t there anymore…

As Elizabeth walked back into the lighthouse disappointed, she noticed that she had a visitor…

Twas a pity that Jonathan couldn’t see ghosts…

The Monster

I was only nine when the monster took my mama. Took her right out of her bed and stole her away to the marsh right outside my window. Papa said the monster saw how beautiful she was and fell in love.

I think differently.

But that doesn’t matter now, because I think the monster is going to take my papa, too. He waits by the door, muttering, and I think that maybe the monster poisoned him. Just like Mama.

She walked around, her face kind of empty. I think the monster will take him soon, too.

Or maybe it already did.

We challenged you to create a fantastic flash-fiction piece using exactly 101 words — no more, no less. Here are the top contenders!

The Girl in the Twilight

The sun dips lower, horizon aflame. At the corner of the street, a girl sits in front of an old upright piano, her gaunt fin gers stretched across stony keys. Her figure blurs, almost invisible. Music floats out and melts into the bustling throng, like a tiny rock swallowed by the ocean.

Somewhere close, a young boy slips free of his mother’s grasp, running toward the source of the melody. He doesn’t understand music, but he hears emo tion. His mother joins him. More people slow down, turning to the piano.

And for the first time, people notice the girl in the twilight.

The Census

“Remember last year when we played hide-and-seek?” My older sister, May, smiled like Cheshire, one of my least favorite cartoon characters.

As the cabinet’s doors swung shut, siphoning off the last wisp of light, me and my twin sister held our breaths, for we knew there was more than one seeker—May; my parents; and a group of scary men who always banged on the main door, tramped around the room, and spoke in harsh syllables.

We didn’t even dare to cough.

For three years now, the prize had been ice cream. We didn’t know the punishment, for we haven’t lost yet.

The Watchers

We watched as the president spoke on the television, all of us sitting still, creating indents on the sofa.

We watched as the chemical weapons fell, eating our takeout from foul-smelling boxes.

We rapid-fired through the channels, glimpsing bullets piercing bruised flesh.

Others rioted in the background of our dinner parties, their voices muted so as not to disturb.

We tut-tutted about the terrible famine before taking another forkful of breakfast.

We watched as they were led away from the comfort of our living rooms.

We never wondered where they went.

We watched watched watched watched

…. but never did a thing




Hayley LeBlanc, a 13-year-old actress and social media star, has recently published the first novel of her brand-new series, The Hayley Mysteries. The first installment, The Haunted Studio, follows a fictionalized version of Hayley after she is cast as the lead of a mystery television show, similar to the likes of Nancy Drew. However, it soon becomes clear that the mysteries are not exclusive to the silver screen, as Silver Screen Studios is haunted — or at least, it’s rumored to be. Can Hayley and her friends solve the mystery before the final bow? In this interview, Hayley discusses behind-the-scenes processes of her book, as well as the reality of being an influencer at 13.

CL: You’ve grown up in the public eye and have had some extraordinary moments on camera. What, if anything, do you do to keep day-to-day Hayley separate from social star Hayley?

HL: In my spare time off social, I like to explore outside, hang out with my friends, and shop for a little self-care.

CL: It’s been almost a month since the release of The Hayley Mysteries: The Haunted Studio. What has seeing the response to



your book been like?

HL: It’s been really exciting to see how much people are enjoying it and all of the positive responses we’ve been receiving so far. I am also looking forward to the next book [The Missing Jewels] coming out in September!

CL: As an influencer, you are subject to the opinions of millions of viewers every day. How do you manage the pressure?

HL: If there are ever any negative comments, I just like to ignore them, because it doesn’t make sense to let things like that get to me. I also just try to be myself and if people have good or bad opinions, that’s up to them!

CL: What do you hope people think of when they hear the name “Hayley LeBlanc”?

HL: Hopefully people think of something positive.

CL: To go along with that, what do you want people to take away from your platform? What idea or message do you hope to spread?

HL: I hope people take away the positivity and spread it to others in their lives.

CL: What are your plans for the future? Do you have any projects that you are currently working on?

HL: I’m excited for my next two books in The Hayley Mysteries to come out in September and November, and to be able to visit readers and fans in schools on a mini book tour. I’m also excited about Christmas coming soon!

CL: At only 13 years old, you have accomplished far more than the average person. What’s next for you? Besides being an actress or author, are there any other endeavors you’d like to explore?

HL: I’m hoping to get involved with more acting projects soon and really excited to see what the future holds. I also want to travel more.

CL: If you could tell something to the young girls on the other side of the screen, what would you say?

HL: Treat others how you want to be treated. And have a good day!

Author of The Hayley Mysteries

Make sure to check out The Hayley Mysteries: The Haunted Studio and The Missing Jewels, available in major retailers now. And don’t miss out on The Secret on Set, coming out later this year!




Born in Oslo, Norway, Havanna Winter is a 16-year-old musical artist, actress, and influencer. She became a teen sensation when she went viral on Tiktok in 2020. Now, Havanna Winter has a burgeoning fanbase of over 6 million followers across all social media platforms. Inspired by filmmakers Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, and Tim Burton, as well as films like “The Lost Boys” “Pulp Fiction” and “Dazed and Confused,” Havanna Winter’s musical vision is to creatively deliver a cinematic experience and sound with every song release. Cultivating elements of her retro interests has allowed Havanna Winter to bring new life to them in the digital world. Signed with Stevie Van Zandt’s new imprint Wonderwall Records, Havanna Winter just released her first single “rain rain go away” which is now available on all streaming platforms. Read about Havanna Winter’s vision for her career, her new single and more below!

LZ: What inspired you to start making music?

HW: I’ve always loved singing ever since I was very young but I think when I first started taking it seriously was the first time I went into a studio. That’s when I realized

Photos by Michael Donovan


that this is something I really want to do.

LZ: What was the first concert you ever went to and who did you see perform?

HW: The first concert I went to was Linkin Park. I was about 10 years old.

LZ: How would you describe the music that you create?

HW: My music is dark and campy, pop, and rock.

LZ: What is the concept/story behind “rain rain go away”? What message do you want to put out into the world with your first single?

HW: “Rain rain go away” is about a girl who wants to run away from all of her problems. I felt like that was very relatable because I think we all feel like that sometimes.

LZ: If you can collaborate with any artist in the world, who would it be?

If I could collab with any artist in the world it would probably be Hope Sandoval. She’s such a talented singer and Mazzy Star is one of my favorite bands.

LZ: What is your dream venue to perform at?

My dream venue to perform at would have to be Coachella.

LZ: How has social media impacted your career so far?

HW: I mean social media goes hand in hand with music and acting nowadays so that’s actually why I started taking social media seriously, but it’s been good. It seems that a lot of my supporters really like my first single and that makes me really happy.

LZ: What are some of the pros and cons of navigating a career in music at such a young age?

HW: A pro is that it’s really fun most of the time and you meet a lot of cool people and a con is that there’s a lot of hard work, more than people expect so sometimes haters hate on you for nothing because they think it’s all fun and easy but actually it is a lot of work and takes a lot of energy to do.

LZ: Who has been your biggest supporter in your career as a musician?

HW: My mom has always been my number 1 supporter throughout my whole career. She’s always there for me when I need her and I’m so thankful for her.

Artist behind the single “rain rain go away”

LZ: What is next for you? What are some of your short-term and long-term goals as a musician who is kicking off her career?

HW: I have two more singles coming out this year, and I am releasing an album sometime next year, so that’s really exciting and I am also doing a lot of auditions for acting.

LZ: Do you have any advice for aspiring young singers who are trying to get their songs out there?

HW: Believe in yourself and never give up.


To listen to “rain rain go away” and find out more about the artist, visit @havannawinter on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Triller, and YouTube.



The Post It

They’ve overlooked you again Noting down their own important events

scribbling new ideas

Jotting down new reminders

That fill the blank canvases of your body

Until the skin is filled up with ink And begins to curl up onto itself

A hedgehog balling itself together Defensive Scared

Overworked by the impersonal messages

you’ve been forced to carry.

Your sanity on edge Gripping onto the surfaces Of where you’ve been left Careless or purposeful

On the desk

On the door frame

On the pin board

Stuck with the futures of another How heroic

Yet even the cape-less heroes have their time

To crown another

And you pass it down to The breeze

For it released you from your Fate

And made you fly again.

Psyche Revived By Cupid’s Kiss

the mona lisa is surrounded by a crowd so thick i can’t see past the clambering bodies and shuttering cameras and flashing lights and the chatter of noise

i spill myself out into a hallway and scoop up my pieces again and walk like the sand inside my brain hasn’t molded into a pearl which nestles in my amygdala

i see the statue and i freeze and suddenly the static of my head ceases and the pearl stays perfectly still and doesn’t roll along the edges of my skull as i breathe in what love is

her arms outstretched to frame his face in the shape of a heart and his holds her upright and covers her softness so delicately from the rest of the world and finally everything is silent his wings outstretched and capturing the golden sun that shimmers heaven upon marble and the world is a microcosm of swan feathers and cream-soft drapes over thighs and me admiring something real

i look around me and but nobody is watching me and once again i am the painting across the mona lisa nobody seems to remember so i reach out and brush my vulgar self against perfection the cold stone bites my fingertips.

Baltic Waters

Though still here, The ghost of you follows me. The tumultuous waters jeer, For I cannot leave the Baltic Sea.

It tosses and stashes me away, In pockets of sand and salt, Parts which feel unique but are gray.

No matter, this sea I exalt.

Our corner reveals a stunning scene, Glittering scales swoosh by my rigid hand. Flicking their tails, they circle between Each other. This feeling I cannot understand.

But as the sea swirls Liquid crystals calm my mind. I see my reflection in the pearls; These brazen waters will not blind.

But I am still drowning anyway. When do I give you my heart, Waterlogged and dripping? When do you give me yours, Cracked and splitting?

It Was Always You, Now There’s Always Time

the times of us are over. what we once were is gone, it was never a second chance, only a relapse.


My Mother Is FortyEight Years Old

Forty-eight is for heroines Gentle, gallant, and humble The women who do not sing But sway to the kitchen rumble. Always pacing, straightening crowns

Against tears and creeping ruin — Vines stretching from the mouths Of phone calls in the evening.

Forty-eight is for heroines

Fearless facing failings None of which were theirs to bear In the first place. Women turning glass hearts molten

When scales tip, swiftly helpless, Are heroines with futures golden On shining horses, selfless.

Why We Fight: Korematsu 1942 California

The odors of the Second World War wander, through the jagged edges of broken windows and shattered portraits. It spreads along the streets, violent, and unrelenting, like waves on the coast.

It pulls us underneath, it forces down our throats. We struggle, we breathe, we drown, all at the executive order of the crown.

The current spits us into crowded cages

And they celebrate “another threat off the pages!”

What is the American spirit you so prize?

Is it bitter like daffodils? Putrid like disguise?

Is it the barbed wire that guards liberty?

Is it the gavels that ensure equality?

The rustle of guns that protect


The concentration camps that shelter citizens?

“Oh, do not be an idiot,” they say, believing the meek Japanese cannot disobey.

The sweet odors pin us down and make us cease, etherized by a passive hope for “peace”.

But that time will not come, not unless we fight.

Our next generation deserves a light.

The pigeon has been plucked to the last feather.

It’s now or not. Now or never. The line must be drawn, let it be known

The Japanese American is American.

Poetry Weather

It’s sunny and beautiful outside warm and comfortable inside: poetry weather. Where your soul lightens at the unexpected sounds of late summer’s birdsong. Your delight at their friendly noises makes you want to dance want to draw to paint to write.

Where every artist’s head is filled with inspiration and even the most illiterate of us has words floating in patterns phrases of peaceful lightheartedness. A sharp cold wind blows strong but the sun’s defiance against the clouds inspires your own.

You life your chin and you can’t help but smile as you look at each thing with new wonder as if every moment is a miracle. Poetry weather.

The Fruit Bowl Promenade

Pretend in June, Mediterranean figs, Are purplish tear drops

Pretend in July, Strawberries are your lipstick, Run through the sprinkler.

Pretend in August, Moon and stars pave the sky, Like ripe apricots.

Another Love Bite

The brown veil you wear Resembles a battle scar On a fairy’s neck.

The Power of a Story

“you can only trust yourself” my mother told me for years on end but i think the only problem was i didn’t even trust myself for years on end because for every boy that broke my heart i fell into a new piece of art into the welcoming arms and everlasting charms of my favorite characters and for every friendship lost and the people I had crossed my TV and bookshelf behold so many stories untold of things that would never change and for every mistake I had made and the memories I would easily trade

I always seemed to come back to the stories that made me feel less blue.



I Open My Fingers — I Let Everything Go


Yesterday I ached and visited the graveyard of my heart Yesterday I went grave robbing searching for someone to make me forget you My hands were covered in dirt and blood I think it was my own but it might have been yours


Today I cried and sang songs about heartbreak I wore my father’s jacket and pretended it was the same as a hug

Today I missed my brother and sat in his chair in his room and pretended he was there with me like before Today I messaged you too many times in a row and tried to remember how to be friends with people other than you


Tomorrow I will pick apples and make the apple crisp I wanted to teach you to make I will run a 5k in my new spikes and I will not even want to tell you my time I will go to a bonfire with my cousin and we will laugh about the fact that I cried over you Tomorrow I will make new friends and memories and not a single part of tomorrow will know your name


Tomorrow I will drive past Taylor and Broadway and I will not even care Tomorrow I will cry for you on the kitchen floor but I will not beg you to stay V.

Today I picked the apple the

hornets ate from and fell in love with someone before knowing his name.

Today I ran until my legs gave out and didn’t cry when the strawberries spilled.

Today I hugged my cousin and talked to my dad.

Today I didn’t cry when I talked about you and the knots in my chest remembered how to be heartstrings. Today I slept in the sun and told stories my dad told me.

Today I sat by the fire and enjoyed it for its warmth and not its destruction

Today I remembered to smile without forcing it. Today I was alive and I was happy and my god it was amazing.

Today I didn’t want to die.

Today I breathed in and my lungs didn’t ache

Today I didn’t want to die. God, isn’t that amazing?

Today I wanted to be alive

Today I was better.

Better is a good thing to be.


I. The sound of wisteria straightening its nape, cliff-side mud parting to let exist— slowly — blue blooms (missing Tupelo)

II. a rose petal drifts across Lethe

III. some glimmer between waves — drowning in silence a pearl ring


i move in the dark; another slither, another spark.





Grettel Torres-Santiago, 6 Anonymous, 8 Anonymous, 10

College Applications

Grace Serino, 13

William Chen, 14

Cyanna Diedrick, 16

Fall Sports

Bailey Christie, 20

Preston Schoenfelder, 23

Clara W., 24


Angel Chen, 28

Lydia Quattrochi, 30

Anthony Maio, 32

Points of View

Kristyn Vasselin, 34 Alice Liu, 36

Sydney Hines, 38

Book Reviews

Katherine Chen, 42 Nathan Duty, 43

Movie Reviews

Olivia Wolbert, 46

Francesca Smith, 47 Evan Falls, 47


Jack Braunschweig, 55

Elsa Bishop, 56

Travis Bellamy, 58

Anna Sullivan, 60

Claire Winters, 61

Chengye Lin, 62

Shelbie Perani, 62

Allison Xu, 63

Elaine Gao, 63 Maya Elizabeth Efua Fedorowicz, 63

Celebrity Interviews

Chloe Lee, 56 Lisa Zhang, 58


Nicole Qian, 66 Raniya Chowdhury, 66

Frances Sherman, 66 Dal Fontana, 66 Lillian Toe, 67

Maxim Kim, 67 Ella Hedges, 67 Ela M., 67

Riddhiman Roy, 67 Emilia Viscarra, 67 Mack High, 68 Bella Zhou, 68

Art Galleries

Min Kim, Front Cover

Aayushi Bharati, 6 Addison Mitchell, 8

Nora Le, 10

Ela M., 12

Ryan Cortenbach, 12 Aida El-Hajjar, 12 Leena Dzemaili, 12

Reese Low, 13

Jonathan Hernandez, 14 Addison Mitchell, 16

Tanisi Ramrakhyani, 22 Surabhi Patil, 22

Abby Perkins, 22 Ella Snyder, 23

Xujia Mu, 24

Claire Lu, 26

Sophie Hao, 28

Aishwarya Goyal, 30

Grace Zhou, 32

Eva Choi, 36

Madeline Kramer, 38

Aida El-Hajjar, 41

Mór Szepesi, 44

Amaya Bratcher, 45

Yunqi Gao, 45

Alina Sukhovskaya, 45 William Smith, 49 Min Kim, 50

Noah Rice, 51 Miki Lin, 51

Anna Yeh, 52

Michael Gan, 53 Caitlyn Kim, 53

Kylie Brookshire, 54

Soeun Lee, 54

Juno Jiang, 54

Kenzie Taylor, 55 Chengye Lin, 56

Ethan Anderson, 57

ZeXuan Wu, 58

L Hayze, 62

Oluwatito Omoteso, 68

Zhitong Zhou, 70

KeTing Wang, Back Cover

Editorial Staff

Managing Editor: Noelle Campbell

Consulting Senior Editor: Cindy W. Spertner

Associate Editor: Kylie Andrews

Consulting Editor: Ashley Nix

Head of Strategic Partnerships: Chane Hazelett

Production: Katie Olsen

Teen Ink is a bi-monthly journal dedicated to publishing a variety of works by teenagers. Teen Ink Magazine and TeenInk.com are both operating divisions and copyright protected trademarks of StudentBridge, Inc. Teen Ink is not responsible for the content of any advertisement. We have not investigated advertisers and do not necessarily endorse their products or services. Publication of material appearing in Teen Ink is prohibited unless written permission is obtained. Teen Ink is designed using Adobe InDesign.

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