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XXIV, N0. 1

a creative

arts publication of bristol central high

Lighthouse - oil Acrylic - JuLiAnA CirALLi 2017

2014


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bChs - signatUres - 2014

College Essays

Ice Breaker By Skylar Wright 2014

I

University of Connecticut

have a love/hate relationship with beginning of the school year ice breakers. The hate arises with the repetition of the exercises. No matter who the teacher is, the question is always going to be some variation of “Tell the class something about yourself.” To me, this creates an awkward situation for a lot of students who, at this point, have all been in the same classes and know what each peer is going to say. It’s annoying. The love part comes because of my answer, which—since my very first icebreaker in kindergarten—has always been the same. Rehearsed. Clockwork. And I’ll probably never change it. When I’m asked, “What would you like the class to know about you?” without fail, I’ll retort with bubbling pride and a huge smile “I have six brothers and sisters!” I am fully aware that anyone who has ever been in a class with me knows this, and the news is trivial, but I still love seeing the reaction on teachers’ faces when I share my piece. That, like my answer, is also always the same. There’s a split-second look of disbelief, then confusion that says Did I hear her correctly? and finally,

UP ROOTS By Nadia krecigloWa 2014 University of Pennsylvania

“I

Is Nadia Kah…Nadia Kreh… Nadia Kreh-si....Nadia here?” I raise my hand, ready for the question that inevitably follows. “How do you say your last name?” I am prepared with the reply. “It’s pronounced KREH-SEE-GLOW-AH.” I encounter this situation often: at the beginning of a new school year; if there is a substitute teacher; or when I receive an award. For others, having a last name no one can pronounce would be aggravating, but not for me. I love my last name because it shows where my family comes from: Poland. My three siblings and I were born and raised in America, but we grew up in a very Polish household. We went to Polish school every Saturday morning, volunteered in the Polish nativity play, and helped at the Polish fall harvest festival (Dozynki).

a parroting of “Six?” with even more shock and concern. It’s that reaction which makes the banal icebreaker tolerable year after year. I’ve considered coming up with a new answer to this question on multiple occasions; I could tell the teacher that I run cross-country or that I have aspirations to be a pediatrician or that I am the president of NHS and the InterAct Club. Sure, I could brag about my accomplishments, but the truth is, those things don’t define me. My family does. What would my life be without Kevin’s insight and advice on anything from my mom to my broken down car; or Jessica’s worldly attitude gained from living in places like Hawaii and Japan? How would I possibly survive without Brennan’s physical strength that he acquired during his time in the Marine Corps or his mental toughness that could Growing up in Connecticut, my family was different from the typical New England family. Our lack of any close family here meant we never went to a Sunday dinner at Grandma’s, or to an aunt’s house for Thanksgiving. I was a shy child, embarrassed by my slight accent and overshadowed by my more outgoing twin sister. Natalia was the one who made all our friends, and shared them with me. She could fit in anywhere without having to work for it, while for me it was always a struggle. As such, I read almost constantly: at school, on the bus, or during recess. I wasn’t a risk-taker, preferring to be safe and unexciting. Every other summer, my family and I would travel to Poland. In the little town of Iwkowa, I discovered my roots, the place where I belonged. Surrounded by my family, I could be myself. I knew that my family would support me no matter what and that their biggest expectations for me were just to be happy. Once I realized that, I stopped being afraid. I set higher goals for myself. I decided that I could do anything, be any-

motivate a mule? There’s no way I could last a day without my Lorraine who would do anything for anyone without a second thought, who would stay up with me all night when I need a shoulder to cry on and then get up the next morning to watch me run a race. And I can’t even imagine how I’d get by without Katie whose strong will sometimes clashes with mine but makes her my closest confidante and biggest supporter. And finally there’s Atem, the baby of the family who has a huge heart and a store of knowledge more expansive than an encyclopedia — and I’m only slightly exaggerating about that — that keeps me entertained and guessing at all times. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about just how lucky I am to have such an incredible, close-knit, supportive, loving, caring, slightly dysfunctional, perfect family. I am who I am because of them and that’s no overstatement. They are all willing to sacrifice so much for any of us and that makes me so proud to be a part of my family. The love that teems out of my brothers and sisters gives me confidence and the motivation to be the absolute best I can be. They are my background story and no matter where this next, quickly approaching, chapter of my life takes me, they will always be my answer to the question: “Tell me something about yourself.”

thing that I wanted to be, and that there was no stopping me. Finally, I decided I wouldn’t let myself disappoint anyone, not my family, my friends, or myself. I began running cross country, and while training I would push myself to my limits; I wanted to be the best I could be. Over the summer, I would run every single day, regardless of how hot it was, how much I didn’t want to, or if I had to miss some fun summer activity. It paid off in the end. I came into the season ready to run and ready to win; I became the City Champion. Outside of running, I acted in much the same way. As part of the Polish National Alliance, I participated in a spelling bee, which I trained for every single day. After placing first at the divisional competition, I qualified for the national bee and continued to practice relentlessly. There, after several grueling hours, I earned second place, making a mistake on the word “statistician.” (It is not, unfortunately, spelled “statistition.”) In school, I’d work hard to have those coveted A’s and A+’s. If I could do it, why shouldn’t I? I wouldn’t settle for mediocrity; I’d be ambitious. I know now where I belong. I am no longer that shy little girl, scared of the world and of success. In her place is a young woman who is ready to enter the world, determined to succeed. If I had not had my Polish background, my Polish heritage, and, most importantly, my Polish family, that little girl might still exist. Once I found my roots, I could grow.

How I Became a Father By William mattheWS 2014

I

tunxis Community College

have been a father two times in my life. First, to a girl named Juliet who was desperately in love with a boy named Romeo. Then, to a young basketball player named Troy Bolton. I was a king once in a place called Wonderland and then, most recently, the only survivor among my friends and family during the Holocaust. I have always been a leader, on stage and off. Apparently, my theater director saw that in me even in my first audition. It’s not because I had a wonderful father I could emulate. It wasn’t that at all. In fact, my father left when I was very young and I have few memories of my childhood when he was there. But my mother? My mother is a welder. What does that have to do with anything? Everything. My mother taught me how to cook, clean and take care of myself. She also taught me how to fix my truck, replace a window and repair stairs. She taught me that anyone - no matter the gender, social clique, or age group - could do whatever he wanted to in life. Sophomore year, I joined the drama department, out of my comfort zone with my friends in robotics, I embraced acting and acting has certainly embraced me: I have been in four productions. My nature is to lead; maturity and perseverance were instilled in me by a woman who did not let societal norms tell her “no.” It’s only right to be cast as the paternal figure. My director and I joke about it, but it’s where I fit. My leadership skills transfer from the stage over to my FIRST Robotics team, Operation P.E.A.C.C.E. Robotics. Though part of a very active performing arts program, I would never have done so if it meant giving up robotics. Luckily, I’ve never had to choose. I cocaptained this robotics team for four years since its creation freshman year. Robotics has helped me develop immeasurable skills with all the challenges our team has faced. It has also helped me decide what I want to do with my life. Without robotics I would never have had such vast experience with electronics, building and engineering, which is what I hope to pursue when I graduate. I’m a little unpredictable I think… people are unsure of how to define me, my interests being so varied. I sort of like it. When I look in the mirror, I am really happy with the person I have become. And when my mom comes into view and looks at me over my shoulder, I know she is happy with who I am, too. I will continue to lead and break barriers and when people tell me I can’t do something, I say, watch me… Actually I say, “My mom’s a welder. What does your mom do?”


College Essays

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The Option of Failure By RoBeRt Jacques 2014

W

boston college

hen I made it my goal to attend and win at the Future Business Leaders of America’s National Leadership Conference in Anaheim this past summer, I knew it would be an educational experience. I was not aware, however, that one of the most useful lessons would come not from working on the project, but from a simple technological glitch. This problem taught me more than if I had won. The journey to Anaheim began in December, when Taylor, my partner, and I began writing what would become a twenty-three page business plan and a seven minute visual presentation. Over the next five months, my partner and I spent hundreds of hours and numerous long nights and weekends on our project. By the time of the State Leadership Conference in April, we had our business plan mastered. Our hard work earned us second place in Connecticut and a spot at the National Leadership Conference. The morning of the competition, we arrived early and ran through our presentation one last time, very confident with

our efforts. At the designated time, we entered the room and immediately set upon connecting our computer to the projector, but the screen only displayed “No Signal.” We frantically spent the next few minutes restarting the laptop and computer to get them to communicate. Still, the only thing being projected was “No Signal.” Our time expired and we were told to leave the room. How could this happen? The only thing I could think of was that we wasted all that time for “No Signal.” We were supposed to represent our school, but we did not even get the chance to present. We came all this way for nothing. I soon realized that assumption was incorrect; there was still much to learn at the conference. The first lesson I learned was to expect the unexpected. I was not expecting to see “No Signal” when we connected our laptop – the thought of technical problems had not even occurred to me. If I had anticipated potential problems then I could have worked to plan our response; I could have brought my own projector or practiced presenting without the PowerPoint, which would have allowed us to still compete. I now know that you must anticipate problems out of your direct control. Although it was important

to make sure I mastered the presentation, it was also important to have alternative plans in case something went awry. In the future, whether I am presenting for academics or for business, I will expect the unexpected, a lesson I learned directly from this failure. The next lesson I was taught was how to properly navigate a chain of command. After we left the presentation room, I talked to our State Advisor and the Director of Competitive Events; we filed an official complaint to the National FBLA Director in order to argue for another chance to present. The authentic firsthand experience of how to operate inside a command structure proved to be more effective

than reading about it in a textbook, which can only demonstrate a hypothetical situation, not something you are emotionally invested in. As much as I wanted to go immediately to the National Director, it was not allowed. In both business and life, structure is critical and what I did trying to fix my problem gave me an opportunity to learn this valuable lesson. I matured greatly from the events at the National Leadership Conference in Anaheim. Even though I did not accomplish my original goal, I came back a stronger person. Seeing “No Signal” on the projector screen ended up being better than seeing “Connected.” I would not have thought such a failure could have such a positive outcome.

Spreading My Chicken Wings By BRittani MuRphy 2014

I

bentley university

tie my apron, fasten my nametag, adjust my hat, and walk into the place I have come to think of as “home.” The oh-so-familiar smell of rotisserie chicken fills the air along with the dim sound of chatter and laughter emanating from the dining room. Silverware clinks as it takes a bath in the sink and the ovens beep simultaneously, creating a beautiful symphony. I punch my six digit employee number into the time clock, and at that moment, the adventure begins. “Hi, welcome to Boston Market! Have you heard about our chicken and ribs combo?” Five hours a day, four days a week, I greet customer after customer, take thousands of orders, and prepare an infinite number of meals. Contrary to my idealistic expectations, my dream summer job of being a server at Boston Market has been anything but easy. My job requires patience, time management, multi-tasking, and communication skills. However, I am always looking to challenge myself and I

am thankful to have a job that teaches me so many valuable lessons and skills. Five months ago when I began working at Boston Market, I was so shy I could barely make eye contact with strangers without feeling awkward. Now, not only am I able to comfortably greet customerswho come into the restaurant, but I also compliment their outfits and hair and ask them how their day is going without giving it a second thought. Since I began working at Boston Market, I have transformed from a shy, cautious teenager into an outgoing, confident, and mature young woman. Patience is necessary when dealing with customers, especially the angry and unsatisfied ones — trust me. “My chicken is

cold and my silverware is dirty. This place is a mess!” “I am very sorry, sir. I will get you a new piece of chicken and clean silverware immediately.” “Thanks for nothing.” His last comment, which might have bothered me six months ago, goes in one ear and out the other now. This is where my patience kicks in as I repeat in my head what my boss tells us every day — “The customer is always right.” I calmly and quickly give the gentleman his chicken and silverware and continue doing my job to the best of my ability. During the minutes, sometimes seconds,

between helping customers, I am wrapping silverware, restocking packaging, cleaning the hot case, refilling the ice machine, and sanitizing tables in the dining room. Working at Boston Market has taught me how to work well under pressure without becoming overwhelmed. Perhaps the most important and useful quality Boston Market has taught me is responsibility. Now that I have a job, I am responsible for knowing my schedule and making sure I get to work on time. I am also in charge of making sure that all of my words and actions represent Boston Market in a positive way; and most importantly, I am responsible for making sure every customer’s experience is the best it can be. What I have gainedby working at Boston Market has helped me on my way to becoming an adult. Although my job has brought me to tears several times and those late-night early-morning closing shifts seem endless, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Before I know it, I will be typing numbers into a spreadsheet instead of a cash register, but on my lunch break, you know where I’ll be — enjoying a chicken and ribs combo at “home.”


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College Essays

Cape Cod Redux By aManda Wolfe 2014

M

roanoke college

y dad has taken our family of four to Cape Cod countless times over the years, just as his dad did. Crossing the Bourne Bridge with the camper in tow is serenity. Having experienced the years of childhood curiosity, preteen vulnerability, and teenage rebellion all on the Cape, I can recall times I’ve been excited, depressed, and every other human state of emotion while there – Cape Cod is a part of me. The Cape’s familiarity allows me to examine myself without the distraction of the unknown – my biggest fear having been born with an anxiety disorder – because it has imprints of my good and my bad. The Cape is predictable, making it my place of perfect contentment. I can only explain my odd inclination for a place that has equally positive and negative memories by comparing the sense of control and time for careful calculation the Cape gives me to The Cape Cod Salt Water Taffy Kitchen we visit every time. Resembling an enlarged lemonade stand, the shop is merely a counter, on which dozens of plastic shoebox con-

tainers line up, and a taffy machine behind a glass wall. Despite the menu never veering from the same 30 flavors plus the one flavor-of-the-week, I examine each container individually before selecting the same flavors of taffy I always purchase. Though I don’t particularly enjoy sweets, I eat it for the sake of tradition. Each flavor is an emotion in need of inspection even if I already know I dislike the taste. Peppermint is sadness because I have no desire to allow such a ghastly taste to dwell in my mouth. Peanut butter is joy, which needs no further explanation. Grape is sentiment since anything grapeflavored was instantaneously delicious as a little girl. Chocolate is frustration, as it should taste like heaven in

chewy form, but is more resembling of cocoa powder. Cape Cod allows me to step outside myself and inspect every single thought, memory, and emotion for as long as I need before I compartmentalize each. Another tradition at the Cape is a 44-mile bike ride my dad and I idiotically venture on. Neither of us is a cyclist nor particularly fit for such cardio. Nor do we have proper bikes, as my dad’s ride of choice is from the eighties and my bike is much too small for all 5’5” of me. I can barely stand up from the bike and struggle to not cry hysterically upon finishing; yet, I make the dreaded trip every year for the euphoric ecstasy I experience climbing back into the truck knowing I will be able to guiltlessly

consume an entire mound of fried seafood from Kream-N-Kone later on. Sunset at First Encounter Beach during low tide is where my heart truly lies though. I can’t help but envy the sea life for their ability to continue unfettered as the water consistently stirs up their environment, often leaving a crab or snail on the unveiled seafloor while the tide descends. I walk out miles, picking up any intricate shells or driftwood for my collection, while my camera flashes till my memory card is filled with the same shot of the same sunset or crab or patch of seaweed because I find that every image has its own story even if a mere few seconds on the clock is the only difference among them. I stare into the horizon as I take in the idea that I am standing on the very sand that would normally be dozens of feet below the water’s surface. Knowing that the land is quickly being eaten away by the same ocean haunts me because I can’t imagine a summer passing without a visit to Cape Cod. Yet, the resilience of the creatures whose very environment is the source of the peninsula’s destruction is nature proving that life can go on after the wave crashes down.

Landing in the State of Alaska “Y By Kasey McKenna 2014 Wesleyan university

ou shouldn’t have married me, Gina. The McKennas are always a day late and a dollar short.” For as long as I can remember, every time something goes wrong – the dogs escape the house and run up the street; the television stops working; the kitchen sink breaks – my father turns to my mother and jokingly makes this comment. I laugh every time, but it’s always felt more like a fact than a sarcastic remark. We McKennas just can’t catch a break. I’ve come to terms with that; my life’s trials have only made me a better person. My parents were married in 1995. They were elated when a pregnancy test came back positive later that year. They only wanted one child – a girl – and they did get a girl … and another one, plus one boy. I am the “oldest” of triplets. My brother and sister are named Ryan and Bridget. My mother describes her pregnancy as “packing up for Hawaii and landing in Alaska.” I have a half-brother who at the time was in college and my parents spent enormous sums of money on him. My father was laid off. My mother quit school.

The icing on the cake was when Ryan was diagnosed with autism. It was all more than we could afford. Ryan was diagnosed when we were three. He slowly lost the ability to communicate and everything he learned – numbers, the alphabet, everything – flew out the window. He still can’t communicate and has severe behavioral problems. Dealing with his communication difficulties and torrential tantrums requires a level of patience that even Buddha would have a hard time attaining. I’ve made so many sacrifices for him. We all have – from sleeping only three hours the night before taking the SAT to trying to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with Ryan serenading us with the usual tune, “HOOOHAAAAHAA” (which roughly translates to “Mom, I can’t find the cheese!!”). With both parents unemployed for most of our lives and two handicapped family members (my father’s an epileptic), Bridget and I grew up quickly. I’ve learned to rely on myself for the answers in a family where no one has the time or the energy to listen. I make do with what I have. We’ve come up with the craziest solutions to problems – toilet flush handle broken? Tie a string to a cookie cutter and tie the other

end to the inside of the tank. Pull on the gingerbread man to flush. Out of paper towels? Put a roll of toilet paper on the paper towel holder. That impressed the dinner guests. I don’t recall having many of my own toys as a child; Bridget’s dolls were my dolls and my Play-Doh was Bridget’s PlayDoh. (Ryan wasn’t allowed to play with Play-Doh; he often ate it.) We shared most of our clothes. We shared Christmas gifts and birthday presents. It sucked being lumped together. “Hey, Bridget!” “I’m Kasey.” “Oh, whatever; same person.” Then surely you won’t mind if I call you Dingbat instead of your real name; isn’t that the same thing? It was always Bridget

and Kasey (sometimes Brasey) or simply “the girls.” Never just “Kasey” or “Bridget.” We shared everything and we must have gotten used to it because we still do. The only thing that ever really separated me from my sister was our grades. I was tired of being “Brasey” but I knew why it ended up that way. I saw how my parents struggled to provide for the family, being jobless with no college education. I worked as hard as I could as soon as I understood this, and I continued to do so throughout high school. I’m proud of my past, and I know it will lead to a better future for me. I want to be the one thing my parents don’t have to worry about. They deserve a break.


College Essays

The Dinner Table By AlexAndrA denoTo 2014

E

trinity college

very night I sit down and have dinner with my family. The anticipation and excitement of yummy Italian food, the chance to brag about an A+ on a history test or the adventurous and sometimes hilarious stories I get to hear from my family’s day are some of the things I always look forward to. One night in particular stands out when we were making homemade pizza. My mom, dad, brother, sister and I each sat down with a slice. We gave thanks for the food in front of us and then went around the table to tell stories about our day. My five-year-old brother went first. He was proud to inform us that at school that day he received his first phone number from a girl in his class. We laughed and laughed as he showed us the small ripped piece of paper with a ten-digit number on the front and his smug smile with big rosy cheeks filled with pizza. Eating together as a family each night has been a tradition, a constant in my life that has helped me grow into the person I am today. I learned how to communicate with people and express my opinions by discussing the latest world news with my dad, engaging in a theological conversation with my mom, and providing advice to my sister who is navigating the path I’ve already walked. It’s also a time when my parents have a chance to provide some direction for the obstacles I’ve faced in my life: an argument

I’m having with a friend, a troublesome project for English, or whatever is causing me the latest bout of stress or worry. Even before we sit down to enjoy a meal, everyone plays a role in getting dinner on the table. My mom and I prepare the food, my dad gets everyone a drink, and my brother and sister set the table. A simple routine like this has taught me the value of teamwork. We are a unit, and without each person taking care of his responsibility, the job isn’t complete. My parents have also passed on their core values at the dinner table. It is where I learned my manners, how to listen and care about what another person has to say, and also where I’ve learned about my Catholic faith, which has now become my passion. Simply starting our meal with a prayer has given me the humility to give thanks for all the blessings I have. Not just for the food in front of me, but also for the incredible support system I am surrounded by. The dinner table is the place where I am completely content. It is a simple daily ritual that has provided my life with unity, consistency, and tradition. Over time it has also given me a subtle daily confidence to go out into the world and share humor, kindness, love, and guidance. Now, I want to help others and give them what my parents gave to me for an hour each night around a wooden table.

Tall for Nothing and Skinny to Boost By Tyrek STevenSon 2014

I

coastal carolina university

was born with a genetic disorder and there is currently no cure for this god-given burden. The disorder that affected me has no real name, so I gave it one. This disorder is known, by me, as Fast Metabolism. As a child, I was okay with being skinny because I was still the tallest kid in school. I also believed that, sooner or later, I would begin to fill out. Well, that never happened. Over the years, I grew taller and taller and never filled out. When middle school came around, I found an interest in sports. I thought I was pretty decent, but others thought differently. In high school, the negative comments and words of criticism uttered by my peers created a low self-esteem. “Tyrek, you’re so skinny.” “Why are you so small?” “I’m three years younger than you and still bigger than you are.” “You suck at basketball. You need to gain weight.” “You shouldn’t play football. You could get killed.” The list goes on and on and on and on. But, I had one answer that temporarily put those comments on hold. “I have a fast metabolism, I can’t help it and have you seen my dad?” Secretly, I knew that wasn’t the only reason for my small size. I was lazy and just wanted my size and ability in sports to magically increase. It wasn’t happening, so I did the logical thing. I worked out occasionally, played basketball constantly, and ate… a lot. But still, no growth, except in height. Hooray! Now I’m 6’1”, skinny as ever, and still can’t dunk.

Those words that created weakness in my mind continued. Soon I realized that everyone has a right to choose his own destiny and if sports were mine, then I decided I was going to try my best to fulfill that destiny. So, I let the wrangles of discouragement flow in one ear and out the other. Throughout my life, I have begun to figure things out. I won’t let anyone tell me I can’t do something because I can do anything I put my mind and heart into. I won’t quit the things I love because of words spoken by those who are so insecure about themselves that they have to put others down to pick themselves up. I can’t change my size, it’s a natural process. So, I will take control of my abilities in other areas to help fulfill my destiny in sports, things like my speed and my shooting ability. I will fill out eventually. If not, then I’m supposed to be this way. I have begun to accept the fact that being this way is just how I am. I may, one day, reach a maximum weight of 135 pounds. I guess I can stay inside during heavy winds so I won’t blow away. Bottom line, this won’t be a burden forever. I will learn to accept it. I will play hard, work hard and at the end of the day, I will have fulfilled my true destiny. It’s not playing sports or becoming a world record holder (lightest man on earth). My true destiny is to accept who I am. And with that said, I am destined to do my best in anything and everything that I put my mind to. I am Tyrek Connell Stevenson, son of Darwin Stevenson and Evette Tyease McCaskill. I am the young man who has a fast metabolism. I am the guy they call “Slender man” and “Skeletor.” I am me.

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Birth Right By ASiA Breece 2014

T

goodwin college

here were two people who knew of my existence, but neither of whom dreamt or longed for my arrival. I wasn’t spoken to or rubbed at night, no pre-natal care for me. I was hidden. My room wasn’t painted pink or lavished with floral decorations from top to bottom. My family struggled. The household I was brought home to as a newborn already consisted of many children, and my father was no longer around. I was born to a mother who was addicted to drugs, who used them throughout her pregnancy with me. My arrival came as a surprise to many, since most didn’t even know she was pregnant. I was a pre-mature baby, weighing only 4 lbs. There I lay, in my incubator, attached to many different machines. A loving woman, my aunt, watched over me. Her thoughts were full of remorse as she contemplated the lifestyle I would live. Luckily for me, she later became my mother! My mom always made sure I visited Dawn, my birth mother, frequently. As a child, I cherished my encounters with her! I was able to spend time with my siblings, my favorite part! However, after a while, I began to notice my brothers were no longer present when I visited. I awaited their company every time, but they were gone. I soon learned they were never coming back; they were taken from Dawn because she couldn’t care for them. I dreamt of the day I would see them again, but I wasn’t sure how that could ever happen. I worried about their safety, and what kind of life they would live. I blamed Dawn for leaving me. I felt rejected. My heart filled my mind with negative thoughts. Was I good enough? Was I being selfish? I didn’t want to hurt anyone, especially my mom, who had given me what Dawn never could. I had a great life and a wonderful family. But I still yearned for her. Once I entered high school, I realized I was focusing too much on my problems with Dawn. I could no longer allow her mistakes to hold me back from succeeding. I wanted to appreciate the life I had been given, and the opportunities I had ahead of me. I decided to focus on school, and work towards the goals I had set for myself. It was then that I realized, forgiveness is the key to acceleration. I was ready to move on and I was ready to forgive her. Our current relationship is nonexistent, but I have forgiven her. I am no longer looking to her for a mother figure. This experience has taught me many things about myself. I have realized what a strong young woman I am. After everything I have endured, I still find myself smiling, and moving forward. Other people do not determine my worth, and a rough past does not determine my future. I refuse to repeat history. Instead, I intend to make history.


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College Essays

In the Front Row

By Schae Beaudoin 2014 emerson college

I

shouted. And I threw my hands up above my head. The man with the dark Mohawk, aviator sunglasses, and studded leather jacket stalked closer to me. I yelled again. “JOHNNY!!” Still strumming his bass, he flashed a smile in my direction. “He looked! We made eye contact!” I shouted over the music to my best friend. She smiled and nodded in excitement. I mean, he had to have seen me. Metal music has a unique way of connecting people. It doesn’t discriminate, whether it is age, gender, or race. Being a petite, strawberry-blonde, teenage girl, I probably don’t fit the stereotype of a metal fan, but I’ve been regularly going to shows since I was thirteen. There, I’ve met people from all walks of life. I’ve made “concert-friends”, as I call them, with boys my age, a woman about ten years older than I, who said she started going to shows at my age, and a couple old enough to be my grandparents. But because we share the same interest in music, our differences don’t matter when we’re all together. We’re all there for the same reason: we’re incredibly passionate about the music we

listen to. When we congregate, it might look strange from the outside. I mean, a bunch of people, usually wearing black t-shirts and jeans, surrender their personal space for a few hours, cram themselves into a room, and, once inside, scream and sing and worship half a dozen grown men up on a raised platform playing deafeningly loud music. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine my life built around anything else. Everyone has times when they feel insecure, myself included. And everyone has different coping mechanisms to deal with tough times. I found my place in the metal community. There’s something really comforting about the music. It almost builds a personal relationship between the fan and the artist. My favorite band, Avenged Sevenfold, has a lyric in their song “Welcome to the Family” that is a perfect example of what I mean. “Hey kid! Do I have your attention? I know the way you’ve been livin’. Life so reckless, tragedy endless. Welcome to the family.” To paraphrase, they’re telling the listener, “Hey, we’ve gone through rough times too. There’s always someone out there going through the same thing. You’re one of us.” Another quote that I always use when trying to explain the metal community to someone is by Rob Zombie: “Nobody wants

to be the weird kid; you just somehow end up being the weird kid and can’t figure out how you got there. And metal is like that, except it’s all the weird kids in one place.” I’ve certainly been “the weird kid” and found it hard to make friends. But through metal music, I’ve met some “weird kids” who were exactly like me, and have become some of my best friends. I’ve even discovered that a lot of the musicians I look up to were “weird kids.” Everyone inside that concert venue with me is also a “weird kid.” That’s why I feel so content inside a rock concert. Because I know that, no matter how “uncool” I might feel, there’s a ton of other people who feel the same way. And we all connect for the same reason when we come together. When I’m in the middle of the concert, I might not realize it, but any pressure is instantly gone. All that matters is you and the music that has stuck by you when it felt like nobody else wanted to. It’s so important to be told just to be yourself and do what you want instead of following the crowd in a society where there’s insurmountable pressure to be like everybody else and just be “normal.” Inside that venue, I

am content. I am ecstatic, actually. And I am also very weird. And proud of it.

Anti-Social Security

By dante tagariello 2014

S

bentley university

tanding in the world’s most magnificent museum brings all sorts of questions to mind. The question which plagued me the most was security. After being subject to the Western most view of national security, I often question the security in the other states of the world. It is no simple task being immersed into a different lifestyle, especially that of the French. My time in France was limited to one week on a home stay with a French family, but none of that time has escaped me. I could talk about the grandeur of Paris and the alluring Parisian cuisine, but none of this made the great statement. It wasn’t until we approached the Louvre, awaiting our entry, that I saw a different world. After waiting some twenty minutes I recall our teacher walking toward us and forcing us to huddle; her words astounded and bewildered me. Her French colleague had instructed her to inform us that we were now British citizens and thereby privy to free entry to the Louvre. The plan was to act natural and keep our mouths shut. This was an immediate

alarm, something that really seems more like a movie plot rather than real life. It was, however, all too real. I agonized – internally – with questions: How safe are we really? Will they check for our EU IDs? What if we get caught? Will this tour go dangerously wrong? By the end of the day, I was only to answer the last three questions. Security never checked our IDs, we were never caught, and the tour went extremely well. As we continued to tour Paris for the day I only wondered, how would Americans handle this? First, there would be tens, if not hundreds of visible cameras … and signs warning about cameras. Second, all students would be subject to some form of ID check; the m u s e u m would want to be sure a dis-

counted rate was appropriate. Finally, there would be some form of physical security presence at every main entry and exit point. By the time I got home I went straight to my room – it had been a long day – and I contemplated the security once more. I was terrified, not only for my own safety, but for the future safety of the museum. I am too used to the idea of a visible if not mental presence or threat of security. After a few days had passed I awoke to some grave news: the Boston Marathon had been bombed. Immediately I moved to the computer to contact my family, which we all do in a crisis. A f t e r receiving word they were fine and learn-

ing how unsure American police and investigators were as to how events transpired, I immediately thought of the Louvre. How was it that America, one of the most avidly secure nations in the world, is attacked by domestic terrorism; yet, the Louvre, a national French symbol, remains intact? Only my remaining experience could tell. After touring the streets of Paris, visiting Normandy, spending time with my French family, I can conclude only this: Not all safety is guaranteed regardless of what you do to ensure it. It is never about the number of guns, the size of the dogs, and the presence of surveillance cameras that measures security. It is about the practicality. Too often do we fear the unpredictable and too often do we overbear ourselves with complexity. This lifestyle has taught me something that is only learned through experience. It has made me aware that our duty is to ourselves and others as much as their duty is to us. I have learned that one can only go so far to reach a benefit; any effort beyond that is moot. I believe that the French can teach our society an essential lesson: we cannot fear what we cannot predict and allow it to dictate our lives.


College Essays

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Songs in the Key of Mother By AllyiAh Guiont 2014

M

Messiah college

y first alarm clock wasn’t the kind that would cruelly shatter your dreams and force you awake. It wasn’t the kind that would beep and blink and rattle persistently on the desk; in fact, it wasn’t a thing at all. My mornings as a child began with my mother strolling into the room I shared with my three sisters, drawing us out of sleep with her voice. She always began with the same words, “O let us rise! Shine! Give God the Glory!” Don’t get me wrong; my mother is and has been much more than an alarm clock to me. For as long as I can remember, my mother has been my mentor, my guide, and my best friend. She has taught me many things through music, her strength, and my own personal experiences. Music is a big part of my life. Every day, no matter the time, there is a good chance that there will be music being played or sung in the house. My mother is always singing songs that inspire and uplift us. Although the songs she sings are faith-based anyone can find

strength and inspiration in them; this gift of connecting with people has been passed down to my sisters and me. When I was younger my family went to a little consignment shop where a young lady asked us to sing for her. We sang “Can’t Give up Now” by gospel duo MaryMary. When we were finished the lady started crying and told us how much we inspired her. From following my mother’s example, I’ve learned how important it is to uplift a person in any way I can. Since childhood, my biggest issue has been racism. Racial “jokes” and slurs upset me. Dealing with this has only been possible through the wisdom and guidance of my mother. She has

always encouraged me to “kill with kindness.” She has assured me that in spite of what people might say my differences make me unique and that I shouldn’t be insecure about them. I remember when I was five, my family and I were at the park. A little Caucasian boy kept messing with my sister. When he started to make racist comments toward us, my mother was fed up and confronted his mother who responded, “Stop being Ghetto,” and started to shout at her. All the while my mother did not lose her temper or raise her voice. Seeing how calmly my mother handled the lady helped me to understand that not all problems can be solved with violence. Since I was only a

child my first instinct was to throw sand in the boy’s eyes but seeing my mom calmly addressing the woman while she insulted her showed me that angry people look crazy. As a result, I started to think about how much I wanted to be like my mom. I’ve seen my mom endure and sacrifice solely for the sake of her children. My mom always makes herself available to help others. I love her for that. I strive to have my mom’s selflessness by helping friends or tutoring through NHS. By putting my personal emotions aside to help someone else, I understand and appreciate her even more. Inspired by her, I have no problem standing for five hours collecting donations for charity or taking that extra time after school to deliver those donations. Having the privilege of gaining knowledge and character from my mother lets me know how lucky I am. I understand that I am fortunate to have a role-model in my mom and that I can be proud of who she is. I believe that my mother has taught me so well that any college that accepts me can be certain that I will honor their good name and respect their academic reputation. All of who I am is Anetra Guiont: Mom.

How the Other Half Live By SArAh lArSon 2014

T

tufts university

here have been few moments that have completely opened my eyes to the lives and struggles of others than the aftermath of the October blizzard. As I looked across the gym floor where hundreds of cots were set up, I saw strangers sleeping side by side, trusting each other enough to sleep among unknown neighbors. The wealthy and the poor were eating and playing games together as if they had known each other their entire lives. The unity in the gym was visible; the people, the stories and the experiences I acquired were even more moving. Three days after the massive snow storm, the initial novelty of having no classes had long worn off. My family had showered every day the power was out, slept in a house heated by the fireplace, and had eaten warm meals cooked on camping stoves. Rarely did we stop to think of those less fortunate: the elderly with no place to go, the newborns wailing from the cold. Yet at night, huddled in my sleeping bag, I questioned my shallowness and wondered if there was something I could do to help. After three days off, my mother and I decided to volunteer at the local shelter. As I walked tentatively into the gym, I

was immediately hit by the pungent smell of people who hadn’t showered in more than three days, who had slept in the same clothes for three days. I lowered my head in shame; the narrow-mindedness of my self-pity was quickly gone. I walked to the lunch line. The inhabitants stared. I saw questions in their eyes. They wondered why I was spending a day of my time trying to make them more comfortable. At the lunch line, I offered to take their trays to the table. Some refused, most were grateful for the extra help. After running around to get utensils, extra Jell-O and napkins, I saw their faith in the younger generation returning. I approached a woman huddled next to the wall. Her oxygen tank was plugged in; her life depended on the generator that kept the shelter going. The woman started to cry. Hers was the cry of someone who was done with life. She bumbled about wanting to go home. How could I comfort someone who was a complete

stranger? I consoled her, wrapping my arms around her frail body. My previous reservations about interacting with these people evaporated as I wiped her tears, held her hand and promised her that she would be going home soon. Enlightened by the woman’s struggles, I made my way over to a table occupied by a man. I was unprepared for the never ending stories he shared. His thirty minute soliloquy covered his piloting career and his adventures to Africa, Italy, Russia, Tahiti and Australia. He told me stories of the past, his childhood and life. He told me about the flight he piloted that transported Vietnamese refugees to America, giving them a new chance at life, a chance to leave their past behind and adopt a new future. As he got up to leave, he came and thanked me. I had given him a gift more powerful than electricity. I gave him an ear to listen when no one else would. He gave me the journey of his life; he gave me his stories to absorb and pass on. I spent the

entire day immersing myself in the lives of others. When the shelter door closed to volunteers, pride and compassion swelled in my heart and I couldn’t help smiling. Instead of being caught up in my own issues and problems, this storm gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in the lives of my neighbors. I helped these people more than I ever imagined and they gave me the knowledge of how the other half live.

CollEGE ESSAyS thAt WorK Consults Available See Mrs. Dickau the Writing lab - 127

E-Mail: galedickau@ci.bristol.ct.us

a creative arts publication of Bristol Central High School Bristol, Connecticut 06011-0700


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Art G

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houSe – Painting – By Kevin anton 2014

PerSPeCtive – Painting – By MarGaret ManninG 2014

PuMPKin – Pottery – By MorGan BiBBinS 2015 Silver Medal - Scholastic Art

Street Corner Graffiti – Painting – By MarGaret ManninG 2014

rinG o’ roSeS


bchs - signatures - 2014

Gallery

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CaMeo – Painting – By aManda Wolfe 2014

S – Pottery – By natalie arduiz 2017

PeaCoCK Man Painting By Kevin anton 2014

hand WritinG Painting By aManda Wolfe 2014


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Poetry

bchs - signatures - 2014

THE SILENT HISTORIANS Bones are not morbid, gloomy, or dark. They can’t walk around without any heart. People don’t see that they form an art, see that their bite is less than their bark. Bones are a system of true design that perform true actions while alive all the while we follow our drive to leave on the world some kind of sign. Bones are a relic to times long gone, show the beauty of those who were strong. The small and the mighty join the throng of those who, too, lie under the lawn. Fear not the things that rattle and shake: They are a testament to our race. While missing the features of the face, a march through history they make.

Amelia Schuler 2014

THE DARK TIME In my darkest times I have seen who is really there with me. Who will wipe my tears and listen to my cries. Everyone who said they got me walked away from me and only hurt me. I slip to the back scared of my own shadow and living in a nightmare. Holding on to the little bit of faith and hope I have left inside. So broken I can’t bare and the tears fall from my eyes like a storm above. My heart bleeds pain with every breath I take, just wishing it’d all go away. I’m trapped and I’ll never be freed, I’m nothing but a caged animal scared of life. Look into my brown eyes and you still won’t feel my pain. You won’t see what I have seen. I smile and act silly to hide it inside thinking that just maybe I could live a normal life. In my darkest times I have seen who is really there with me. Who will wipe my tears and listen to my cries. Everyone who said they got me walked away from me and only hurt me. I slip to the back scared of my own shadow and living in a nightmare. Holding on to the little bit of faith and hope I have left inside.

Skylar Yopp 2016

FOR YOU I WEPT Most days I am strong Hiding my emotions So no one can see For you I wept Nearly every day together And often, you were lost The disease had taken over For you I wept At ninety-three Exhausted and fragile Completely incapable For you I wept This is no way to live Was it living at all If the brain was dead For you I wept You decided it was time You had no fight left I couldn’t stand the sight For you I wept The day you were buried All meaning had been lost This is our last goodbye For you I wept Now you’re gone But never forgotten I’ll always miss you, Gram And for only you, I wept

Shaely Porrini 2016

THE UNORTHODOX KNOX I fade into the breeze Making people shudder, Seeking unused air To escape the debris of others. Where my spirit can soar With individuality, No influences: Non-conformity. Released from society’s prison Comprised of conformists Who yearn for the standards Which are meant to be knocked down.

Haley Knox 2015 Main Street - Photograph - Cliff Shorey 2014


Poetry PUPPETEER

Brandon Brady 2014

A pendulum swinging in space, keeping time for invisible dancers, silent dreamers, and speechless seers all gaze upon the clock, ticking, tocking, clicking, clocking, it’s stones of gem, their eyes they stare into the depths stare back circles never end, beginning at the start the clock the worker winds the gears turn dancers round and round time forever will the singers call, and seers beholding the truth a beautiful world of swirls of color mold the dancers waltz in the night far from black pull me back into the lightened hearts fly with balloon wings Tick tock, Tick tock, invisible rainbows light my sky is filling with birds of black feathers make the ground falling from grace I open my eyes to see sunlighting my face and pillow and I live once more.

And I leave my beautiful world for that of the mundane.

My mother always told me to Never love anyone who is not Afraid of anything because People who are afraid of nothing, Don’t care about anything. My grandmother always said To keep away from the people That can quit smoking cold turkey Because a person that can quit in a day, Can leave behind anything and not look back. But what happens when you grow old And you realize that you yourself, Are not afraid of anything; That you can quit smoking in a day And not bother giving it a second thought? I should never be loved, I am the monster they told me to stray Away from. But I am not a monster at all, For I care about everything, and I can’t quit You no matter how hard I try.

Brianna Mahaney 2014

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A CLOCKWORK DREAM

We danced like marionettes Guided by hands unseen. We spun the room into a hurricane And the audience hailed us An aerial spectacle, We spun until we could taste the sky And touch the stars The gods became jealous And we were brought back to the floor. Left with only our skin, bones, and tears Strung up in a court of our peers The monolith before us Was a harbinger of all our fears Terrified and ostracized, The floor and stage crumbled beneath our feet. We were swallowed and digested, The audience returned to their seats. The stage was set, the lights dimmed, The marionettes took their places. A dancer’s discordance, gracefully Spinning and spinning and spinning But the hurricane never came And the gods were silent. The floor never opened, or even bared its teeth. We were eternalized underneath the stage, Sealed beneath.

ADVICE

bchs - signatures - 2014

Eric Duval 2016 Cinderella’s Castle - Photograph - Cliff shorey 2014

THE EVERYDAY BARD

IN A DARK ROOM The temporary blindness; Feeling for the walls Stepping tentatively With slow movements The darkness swarms around Swirling in specks of light That my eye gathers As it strains to find the forms Yearning for at least a shadow Yet fearing what it cannot see In the darkness The whispers once ignored

Shout all at once; Shattering peace of mind As the mind conjures up All the creeping things That travel at night So the mind cries For what the sun Could so easily reveal In a dark room

Allyiah Guiont 2014

I am more than just your everyday bard. I find perfection in all that is marred. I am a balladeer minus the melody. I capture a year in a poem’s brevity. I am a sentiment in disguise. I see the world through puppy dog eyes. I am a skip, a spin, a step, a strut. I speak the language of the mutt. I am ambiguously precise. I say it once I say it thrice. I am boldly avant-garde. Much more than just your everyday bard.

Allyiah Guiont 2014


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bchs - signatures - 2014

Poetry

WAITING TO WRITE Waiting, watching, listening Polite, silent, anxious, screaming in my silence Too polite to say, “Just let me go” Too polite to say, “Yes, I know” A fire burns in my chest and an inferno consumes my heart and eats my chest and leaves me barren bones as it spirals up to heaven to pull down from the divine the thought that Life is Clockwork And that The Grand Puppet Master With that the idea of being Sorry for Everything And the inferno dwindles to a flame which dwindles to a flicker and a spark and an idea and a Life The fire becomes flesh and skin as my skeleton is filled with the immaculate swirls of life And I become human. I move on from my frustration The Keys are in My Hands And I’m typing my heart out as my voice is forever captured in the words and I hope that one day when this is read my voice will carry over and read this story the way I want it to be read.

Eric Duval 2016

PERFECT FRIEND Many times I have wondered The hell you tolerate The stoic mask you wear The clenched jaw amidst the screams The chin you hold high Your strength can suspend the world Your smile can cure cancer Your hope can give the most pained a reason to live Yet here I was The weight on your shoulders The ugly behind the mask The screamer The reason you ever want to look down You open my eyes to the world You heal every scar

You bid my value to be priceless I nail you with every mistake Over… And over… And over… You seek revenge by forgiving me I saw distrust in your flaws But what I did not see What I was blinded from What I missed right in front of me How I never saw A perfect friend.

Amanda Wolfe 2014

ON WRITING everyone should write. you might be reluctant the fear that you might fail we’ve all felt that before. with poetry though … there is no rubric there are no rules you’re not after one sound you’re not necessarily after one rhyme no, a poem’s success is measured by just two things. they are: did you say what you wanted to say? did you deliver it the way you wanted to? robert frost wanted to contemplate nature and life walt whitman wrote what he saw taylor mali vocalizes lifetime observances sarah kay speaks lessons in stories william shakespeare painted pictures of passions we still hardly know what about emily dickinson wrote … but through the various styles and schemes the slam, the written word the quick, the slow, the visual, the conceptual what remains? they told what they had to tell in their own unique ways.

Veronica Martinez 2014 Gymnast – Wire sculpture – by Liz Fernandes 2014


Poetry

bchs - signatures - 2014

ABANDONED

DEPARTING

In the Kitchen there is a telephone. I sit and anxiously wait for the telephone to ring, Every day, every hour, every minute. Sometimes, I think the telephone is broken. But I know that is wrong, because it just rang And a lump forms in my throat Painfully aching Causing the floor beneath me to quake. I answer, and the glass cup I am holding Shatters Perfect shards of glass scatter on the tile floor And sting my toes as his words sting my ears He is coming home. A stream of tears filters down past my nose and hovers On the arc of my top lip, stuck there Waiting for movement - waiting for me to speak. But I cannot And he is asking me why, why can’t I speak Now he threatens to hang up the telephone Still I cannot speak I cannot say anything to the man That left his own daughter Behind. Now the dial tone is back And his words are gone.

The worst is over now, but I’m not out of the valley just yet.

Lillian Sundgren 2015

My seat belt is buckled, my backpack and purse are underneath the seat in front of me, the tray is in the upright position as is my chair and, although this isn’t on the flight attendant’s speech of instruction, I’m clenching my teeth and gripping the armrests and desperately thinking to inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale, because it WILL calm me down if I could only do it but OF COURSE All I can do is think about what if we take a crash water landing and my seat cushion doesn’t come out and I drown because I never learned to swim? And my phone is already off and in my purse (which the airport calls my personal item) beneath the seat in front of me; SO what if I die and never talk to anyone ever again, that would just be the WORST except … now … we’re in the air now … cruising gently along … no turbulence … a beautiful day … and after all of that, I drift calmly to sleep, exhausted by the effort.

Veronica Martinez 2014

Your DaDDY’s ‘57 ChevY Bel air - Photograph - Cliff shoreY 2014

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bchs - signatures - 2014

Distinguished & Gifted

M. Louis Robinson III: Life Long Learner M. Louis Robinson III was named the 2014 recipient of the BCHS Distinguished Alumni Award at a Power Brunch in his honor. Addressing a library brimming with gifted and talented students, Robinson outlined his metaphorical and alliterative prescription for success. Four pillars of personal commitment - Purpose; Perseverance; Passion; Prayer - have charted his journey out into the world of possibilities. On May 29, 2014, they led him back to where he began: Bristol Central High School.

PurPose

Prayer

Throughout this educational journey, Robinson has relied on a belief in a higher order that has led him to this place and time. Faith and prayer have given him a calm confidence that translates immediately and personally to his audience. His warmth and sincerity evident at every turn of phrase, ML Robinson made believers out of an appreciative audience.

nSyracuse University, B.S., Communications nPace University, M.S., Teaching nColumbia University, M.Ed., Educational Leadership nDoctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership, Teachers College, Columbia University

Robinson found his strength of purpose in high school when he faced the academic challenges of a restrictive syllabus that lacked diversity and color. He turned an independent study in literature into a quest to find a relevant, weighty text that captured his life’s experience more accurately than The Grapes of Wrath or The Great Gatsby. Largely his doing, August Wilson’s play Fences was incorporated into the curriculum in 1996.

Perseverance

He decided early on that education was the answer to every question he had ever asked himself about who he was and where he wanted to go. Robinson conquered the winters at Syracuse University, the rigors of Pace University, and was lured by the sirens of the City when he taught in the Harlem schools. He applied to Columbia University three times before being accepted into the graduate program and is on track to receive his PhD.

Passion

Once he had scrapped his early plans of being a music promoter, Robinson worked his love of music and theater and art and technology into the dream of becoming an educational leader who would champion the cause of educating the total person. His doctoral studies focus on implementing this multi-disciplined curriculum in the urban schools of New York City.

Allyiah Guiont, BC’s answer to Maya Angelou, performed two poignant poems at the Power Brunch honoring M. Louis Robinson.

M. Louis Robinson III Adjunct Professor, Columbia University 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award

“ML” - as he was known in high school - was struck by the hilarity of the moment when greeted by BC athletic manager Bobby DeSantis who sailed into the Library claiming ML owed him a PE credit from 1997.

M.Louis Robinson, a 1997 graduate of Bristol Central, was introduced by his former English teacher, G. Gale Dickau.

Counselor Foo Field welcomes Rachel Robinson, ML’s mom, at a surprise reunion with ML’s high school and life-long friend, Aisha Mobley (BC ’97). The event was sponsored by the district gifted committee; the award was provided through Principal Peter Wininger’s Maroon & White initiative. Photography by CLIFF ShoREy 2014


Performance Piece

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15

A Brief and Unpleasant Run-In with My Ex barber I

musings by Vinh Cao 2015

was walking to my car. She was standing there under the awning. Smoking. Her hair was different. But there was no doubt it was her. Dawn. I quickened my pace and focused hard on my shoelaces. Hoping desperately that she wouldn’t see me. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the car keys. “Hey Vinh.” Crap. I looked up and simulated surprise. “Dawn!” I said. “How’s it going?” I tried to feign happy, but my facial expression said something more along the lines of indigestion. Dawn and I saw each other for 3 years. She’d run her fingers through my hair. Spray my head with her spritzer bottle. Then, she’d cut it. We were different back then, Dawn and I. She still worked at Fells Point Hair and Nail Emporium. I still washed with Pantene Pro-V. Now, seeing her standing there, it all came back. I could almost smell the cheap conditioner. “Your hair’s getting long,” she quipped. She said it deadpan. Heavy with judgment. Oozing passive-aggressiveness. In those four words, she communicated so much more. Bitterness. Jealousy. Longing. “Who is she?” The words demanded. “Does she give better comb?” Her gaze narrowed. “Do you tip her better?” She puffed her cigarette, contemplated the lipstick stain, then exhaled a long, pale stream of pure resentment. “I work over here now.” She said, gesturing to “A Cut Above.” She said it as if I’d been trying to find her. The nagging thing was that I never officially broke it off with Dawn. I never called to tell her it just wasn’t working out. Never explained that I’d met someone else. I just stopped showing up. I wanted to tell her. I just didn’t know how. I mean, how do you break up with your barber? “It’s not you. It’s my hair?” It’s not like I didn’t try to make it work. Towards the end, I made every effort to spice things up. “Let’s try something different.” I said. “Do whatever you think would look good.” I hoped this freedom might encourage creativity. My head was a blank canvas. Every barber’s dream. Instead, Dawn looked dazed. As if I’d just walked into a diner and ordered sashimi.

Vinh Cao performs his latest rant at the Power Brunch. #channelingEdwardScissorhands No matter what direction I gave, it was always the same. Number 2 clippers on the sides. Small talk about the weather. Hair mussed with enough American Crew Firm-Hold Styling Gel to deflect a missile attack. Over time, we just grew apart. My shampoo had changed. Dawn hadn’t. And then, one day, I met another woman. It wasn’t premeditated or anything. It just kind of happened. It was March and the weather was just starting to turn warm. I called to make an appointment. Dawn was on vacation. So I called somewhere else. Her name was Kathy. She worked in a salon. The kind with a bowl of hard candies on the counter and a decidedly more attractive clientele. Even the radio station was different. It wasn’t Connecticut’s Best Mix of The 80s, 90s and Today; Kathy had XM Radio. I knew immediately that I could never go

back. Kathy gave better small-talk too. Sure, she covered the obligatory weather discussion. But she also brought up some more advanced topics. “Been on any good trips lately?” When I said I hadn’t, she deftly changed the topic to the upcoming Arts Festival. She even covered the offbeat: “I heard Travel & Leisure magazine named Connecticut the state with the ugliest people in America.” “Huh.” I said. “Then I guess you’ve got your work cut out for you.” She was even polite enough to laugh at my bad pun. When Kathy finished, my hair was transformed. Well, relatively. It was a little shaggier on the top. The sides were trimmed with scissors. Not the military buzz to which I’d grown accustomed. I liked it. I took Kathy’s business card, told her it was good for me and promised to call

her again. Walking out, I turned her card over in my hand. I ran my thumb over the embossed lettering. “Kathy Sparks. Stylist.” Stylist. I liked the way that sounded. It implied that some of the style might wear off on me. Much better than “Barber,” which conjured images of high-waisted pants, liverspotted arms and too much Stetson. Now, it had been almost a year since the last time I saw Dawn. As we stood there on the street, her cigarette smoldering, her eyes burning icy holes in my chest, I fumbled with my car keys. I wanted to explain, but she just wouldn’t understand. I was a Garnier Fructis man now. I didn’t know what to say. So I flashed an awkward smile, ran my fingers through my hair and told her to enjoy the weather.


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bchs - signatures - 2014

Creative Collaborations GUITAR Its sweet whisper, So naïve So unafraid, Leaks deep down into my head And drives the ghosts away It puddles like gasoline On the wet Summer tar, And ignites In a blaze, While strangers watch from afar I am the meek master Weaving sound between my hands, Steering the faraway ship Onward To undiscovered lands

And should there be a time When our hurt is silenced by er ph ra og A needle’s sting, Photo of the Phot z de An rn Fe ie sl le r he All the music machines we have By Photography teac Would have no more reason to sing KATIe PelKey 2014 Acoustic – Photograph – By kAtie Pelkey 2014

Starry Night The glistening stars of a midnight sky Reflect within the feline’s eye. He sits on the hill this starry night, Waiting to play with a fallen light, Unwinds it like yarn rolled tight in a ball And waits for another loose star to fall.

A lone sailor lost in a sea of his fear Is caught in a storm with nowhere to steer. The dark of midnight swallows him whole, Painting his ship and his face black as coal. But soon clouds part; stars shine their light, And send home the sailor that one stormy night.

A little girl’s feet across the room tread, Deserting the warmth of her flowery bed. Quiet and careful and making no sound, Her toes glide slowly across the cold ground. At the window, a wish on the night’s first star, Glowing splendid and white against cloudy tar.

For the sailor afraid to be lost and alone, Who followed the stars to guide himself home; And the girl at the window sending wishes a way, Who stole back to bed at the break of the day; And the starry-eyed cat waiting up on the hill: To each corner of earth, the sky touches still. KATIe PelKey 2014

Starry EyEd - Pottery - By MonikA stoklosA 2015


Signatures - 2014