“That’s not Greenwich.” The Couch

I don’t know who saves up their life’s earnings for a couch, but that’s what my aunt did.

When I first moved to Greenwich, we were temporarily living with my couch owning aunt. Her go-to phrase was this: “That’s not Greenwich.” She looked at my mom, my brother, and I with scorn, constantly making the remark with nearly any thing we did. When we first entered her apartment, she showed off something magnificent: a large velvet couch that she showed to us with pride. It was a gift that she bought herself for her fiftieth birthday, customized completely to what her dream of the perfect furniture would be. I know it was important… because she told us about it three times. At least. Within the first day.

My aunt wasn’t very familiar with little kids, and seemed to see little adults in all of us. With this in mind, she decided to give me the responsibility of sleeping on this couch since there were no other living spaces. It didn’t even cross her mind that something could possibly go wrong.

The duration that I lived in my aunt’s house, she was way too strict and didn’t allow any ‘nonsense.’ She looked upon our family problems with scorn, saying that same phrase: “That’s not Greenwich.” Despite her clamp on us getting tighter and tighter, she decided that she would go through with the plans she had made previously that month: she was going to travel to Idea for the duration of a week. This would mean our family would be left in her house. Alone.

The first couple days without my aunt were fine. The days passed with us still getting adjusted to our new schools, slowly preparing for our new life in a new town. Things couldn’t have been going better.

Then, things went downhill.

One day, I decided I wanted to test out my drawing skills. I’m not really that much of an artist, but I wanted to see if I could improve. I took a ‘how-to’ art book that gave instructions on how to… well, art. I honed my skills for a couple hours, sitting on the couch happily. I played around with Sharpies, trying to form what was on the paper before me.

My Mom called out and said we had some food on the table, so I left the materials to the side and ate dinner. During dinner, I was not aware that the dark blue Sharpie was perfectly erect on the couch and, as I was chewing those peas and chicken in the room next door, was bleeding through the arm of the couch.

Usually when things like this happen, I test the waters. I see if I can do something about it first… but the degree as to which I had screwed up was so strong that I immediately sounded the alarm. I couldn’t even try to contain it. My mom was in the room within a moment. She was silenced with the graveness of the situation.

The mark was about five inches. It was dark blue, against the perfectly white couch. You couldn’t miss it. My aunt especially couldn’t miss it. At the time, we were so blinded with ways to Google and Wikihow a solution that… we went for the first word we saw: bleach.

Keep in mind that, before the bleach, the mark was a thick blue line. However, it could have easily been covered up with the length of a pillow. I doubt that, with the love and consistent movement my aunt treated the couch with, the pillow would have been moved in an instant. But it would have been better than what happened to the couch after the bleach.

The second we put the bleach on the couch, it turned white. The bleach bled across the couch, so it got bigger and bigger. And the fabric became worn away. And to top it off, in order to spread the bleach, we used her favorite dark blue towel. One that costed about thirty dollars.

The entire thing was a disaster. It was absolutely not Greenwich. 

At the time, it was horrifying. Actually, I’m pretty sure she’s still horrified. I told her over text in the sweetest way I possibly could… and she thanked me for telling her. But apparently she’s not too happy, according to my mom. Looking back at it, I can see the humor in how much of a disaster it was.

 

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I wrote a 90,000 word novel in the eighth grade. What happened?

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” – William Shakespeare (the beginning quote to what I wrote both then and now) 

In third grade, standing in line for the next class assignment, I was offered something life changing: a clean white book. Our goal? Make our own story. That was my first experience with writing.

The book was several clean pages, filled with words yet to be written. At the time, I didn’t really realize the impact of what I was about to start… but it started nonetheless. I formed a story about an art set that came to life. I proudly showed off my creation to anyone who would look at it, the front page filled with fairies and art sets. Between the front and back cover were many pages detailing an adventure of a magical land the main character had written into reality. The excitement of everyone reading the book died down… and the excitement of writing it died down for me. I didn’t really think about writing again. Not for two years.

Later, I was in a classroom in fifth grade. I was in a new school the next down over because the education was better. I was only at that school for a year, but the impact that one teacher made on me there was powerful: her name was Mrs. Gaylord. And she brought back that power I had before, way back in third grade. That power came through the form of her sitting me aside one day, cherishing my writing as if it was a gift. She made me believe it was a gift. She told me that while nearly every other student had some kind of criticism for what they had written, but she couldn’t give me any negative feedback. She looked deeply into my eyes and said, “You’re a really talented writer. Don’t stop.” And her words stayed with me. I didn’t take writing seriously, though. Not until middle school.

In our lives, we all go through a variety of adventures. Nearly all of those possible adventures seemed to compress themselves into three small years of middle school. Maybe it was this that separated me from other students in middle school… or maybe it was just what I prefered, and how I coped. While other people were listening to Taylor Swift and a variety of other karaoke-worthy songs on the radio, I was busy listening to some indie radio station with music no one knew. While people had phones they could use to text their friends all the time, I would go to the library and get way too many books. And when they went through something in their life, people coped in a variety of ways. I coped by writing a ninety five thousand word long novel.

Right now, I am in the process of rewriting what I wrote in the eighth grade and creating a newer, better novel. This blog is going to feature the two chapters, one from now and the other from eighth grade, and see what has changed.

In order to prevent the possibility of the plot being stolen, I am going to refrain from stating what the novel is actually about. I will be comparing pieces of writing that don’t really show the plot as much as just sampling my ability to compose dialogue and detail.

Here is my first chapter now:

Chapter One

Glory.

Glory, to me, represents proud beauty. Relentless power. Golden sunshine and constant bravery. The word is tainted with the flavor of metallic colors and tastes of bitterness… if you’re on the wrong side of it, that is. It tastes evil, actually.

They came in a wave of glory. And it tasted evil.  

My mind played with the words I heard around me, tasting them between my lips. Felony. School. Charges. Now.

Everything suddenly had changed in the past hour. The officers. How their car appeared, how their justice-lusting lives intertwined with ours. Even though we didn’t ask. Even though everything was perfect without them. But according to the words I heard that were spit into the air, that was precisely the problem. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t perfect at all.

Fear shakes me. My sister notices. The only other sister that made it to the bathroom, safe from the questions. Des and Sheehan weren’t so lucky.

I hold Phoebe closer.

The words shake me deeply; I still hear them being fired downstairs, like endless ammunition. The doors are locked. The lights are off. I don’t want to see myself in the mirror, I don’t want to let it click. And I feel like the second I look into my own eyes, that’s going to be the moment where I realize… my situation is more screwed up than I realize.

In the dark, I meet my Phoebe’s eyes.

Phoebe. My sister. My best friend.

I hold her.

It’s silent.

I feel something wet. Fresh boogers and tears. Everywhere. Her hair. Her face. I choke back a gag, but hold her closer. I hold her closer than ever before.

I look at her deeply. I want to speak. I want to speak so much. But I’m terrified.

Our lives have always existed in a way that parallelled ourselves to the outside world, but never really intertwined. We’ve always been aware that it was there, it was just something we couldn’t go to. It just wasn’t ours. It’s like looking them looking at third world countries: they accept it’s crazy, they accept that it exists, but they hardly do anything about it. They certainly don’t make any moves to exist with them. They don’t want to be in the chaos if they already are in peace.  That’s what we had grown to accept. We were aware that nothing would ever change, and that was okay. We liked it. But we didn’t realize we weren’t just indifferent. We were different.

The reason that we had to live like this?

That’s where the lines are blurred.

My fingers entangle with hers. We are two girls, sitting alone in a bathroom, with our life slowly falling apart downstairs. “Hey,” I whisper. “Phoebe.” I almost think she’s asleep. And I almost feel bad. But I feel so alone.

Her eyes meet mine. “I was so close to falling asleep. You ruined it.” She smiles a bit.

“You actually can manage to sleep?”

“Yeah.” A little bit of light peaks through the window we had barricaded with toilet paper and desperation. The irises that lay in their shade are alight with a muddle of browns and blacks and everything in between, all from the little twinkle of golden hour. “What’s up?”

Related distractions. That’s what saves her. That’s what saves me. Most of the time.

I smile. “I want you to tell me our story.”

She moves a little bit. “What do you mean?”

“Our story. What’s our story?”

Hesitation grabs her. “Like, our entire story?” I nod. She relaxes in the confirmation, the absolute fact that she can’t possibly misunderstand what I’m asking. She doesn’t like not knowing. “Why now?

My face falls. “I… I don’t know, it’s stupid, nevermind.”

“No.” Phoebe grabs my face. “No, you need to get better at this. Say what you’re thinking. Talk to me, okay? It’s just us.” She pulls me closer. “It’s just us. It’s not stupid.”
I start to smile, and I imagine it must have looked sad to her. A sad smile. A sad reason.

I want to know if she thinks what my mom did was right.

I want to know if my mind is strayed from everyone else.

I want to know if she remembers that night.

“Well… like, you want me to begin at the beginning?” She kisses my forehead. I nod. “Okay… um, this is new. I’ve never been asked this question. I don’t know where to begin.”

“The beginning.”

“The complete beginning?”

I start to feel stupid again for asking. I start to say nevermind. But something stops me. I have to know. I have to know if that night is part of that story. I have to know how she sees my mom. I just simply say, “Yes.” Yes, Phoebe. The beginning. The middle. But most importantly, the end.

“Well. I… wow, this is harder than I expected to begin.  She starts rambling. “Well, I have three sisters. My name is Phoebe. I’m the fourth sister, so, you know… that means we have four sisters, obviously. If you do the math right. Heh.” Her mind blanks. “Heh, well… I don’t know, this is hard, Maverick.”  Her lip starts to quiver. Guilt makes my heart drop a thousand sets of stairs. “I just… feel wrong saying all these happy things right now, ignoring what’s happening downstairs. Something is happening. I can’t just ignore it. Not again.”

I start to ask what she means, but my question is lost in the new words that bubble from her lips. The sick grievances that she, we, can speak about for hours. The disgusting questions we can ask. “Do you ever feel like our childhood got taken away? I don’t know, it’s something I’ve been thinking about. The lack of balance between what we should have gotten and what we didn’t.”

I shrug. “Do we even know what we should have gotten?”

“Yes,” she whispers, small. Tiny.

I wait.

“Well.” Her eyes grace the little spot in the window, the little patch of light. “We deserved school. We deserved to be able to not just watch the world pass by on the TV, to know everything… and know that we couldn’t go out. We deserved to at least know why we couldn’t. We at least deserved that.” A noise slips from my throat. Grief. “But… we did deserve each other.”

Hope tugs at the sadness. “You think so?”

“Yes. Undoubtedly.”

My gaze traces hers. This is the person I’ve seen every day for sixteen years, never a day apart. This is the person I can remember every freckle about, every little change, every new scar. Phoebe doesn’t get scars often, though. Only once.

I shudder.

I haven’t forgotten.

But judging by her lack of mention in our story, maybe she has.

I close my eyes, praying for the right answer when I ask this question. I ask it quickly. “You think we should have done something about it?” She stares deeply at me, chewing and tasting the thought. She thinks for too long. She doesn’t know. I give it one last chance. “Phoebe?”

“Yeah.”
I blink.

“Yeah. I do, Maverick.” She touches the broken rocks. “I do.”

I blurt it out. I can’t stop it. “Do you remember?”

“Maverick, I remember.” Her heart is racing, I can feel it.

“Did… you ever tell anyone else?”

She shakes her head. “Not a soul.”

“So we can both agree it wasn’t a dream.”

She hesitates before answering, “Yeah. It wasn’t.”

I look deep into her eyes. I mourned for weeks that twinkle she had lost within them; the fear and frustration had taken over weeks after the event happened. She was left tired, broken, and done. And I mourned what I have lost. And I finally had gotten her back. So long after, I finally had that twinkle. But here we are again, alone in a bathroom with people screaming downstairs, and she is lost again.

I will find her.

My fingers graze my nearly empty pockets. “Here,” I mutter, my voice feigning hope. Chocolate.  Rich with sugar and cocoa. The tantalizing scent makes her hair spring to life. Her eyes begin to gleam. There is a bit of hope here, with us two lonely girls at the top of the stairs in the bathroom to the right. There is a bit of hope here, in the loud silence. There is a bit of hope.

“Thank you, Maverick,” she whispers so softly. I would give her a thousand chocolates to hear her that vulnerable and… hopeful. Her needy fingers unravel the golden chocolate bunny. Her lips caress the sweet juicy chocolate. The delicious sound of her teeth sinking into the chocolate fills the room, and my mouth salivates. She gently nibbles the ears. Only the ears.

And then she gives the rest to me.

I’m confused. “Why do you do that?”

And Phoebe begins a story as to why this is obviously what has to be done to the lifeless chocolate bunny. “You can take a chunk of his ear, and he still will be able to hear. If you bite the legs, it can’t walk. If you bite the face, it can’t see, eat, or smell. I want to cause things less pain than they need.”

A little giggle escapes me. She’s so ridiculous. “That’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard. What? Do you expect it to pop to life one night?”

“I don’t expect it to pop to life one night if it can’t eat, walk, or see.”

Our eyes met within the dark.

“God, Phoebe. What are you?”

No one knows. No one knows how angels, how people like her, grace this earth. No one knows what she is, except that she doesn’t belong here. No one this perfect belongs here. And no one this perfect belongs out there.

It’s hard to think that they could undo it all.

Because she is not them. She is not what’s included. She doesn’t love the same as them. She has veins of other’s blood. She has kindness in every last cockle of her heart, and so do the rest of my sisters. We all do. Because we are different.  We are pure. We have nowhere to go but down, down, down to the depths of what we see and salvage on TV. We have nowhere to go but less than what we are now.

My eyes well up. I feel as if I have already lost her. As if I have already lost myself.

“Come here,” I whisper, taking the chocolate from her. Screw the boogers. Forget the unusual chocolate eating habits. I hold her close, closer than ever before. And even though I’m not religious at all, I pray.

Here is the first chapter I wrote in eighth grade:

Chapter One

He came in a wave of glory.

He came in a way I wouldn’t have expected. He came with blue. And blonde. And pockets jingling with riches. He came with popping colors. He came with a show, even if he was silent. Even if his lips were sealed. Even if he was perfectly silent, barely crunching at the rocks below him. Even if he didn’t answer my questions when he first spoke.

He came.

My mind had pondered over the flash of events that had happened in the past hour. The officers. How their car appeared, how their justice-lusting lives intertwined theirs with ours. Even though we didn’t ask. Even though everything was perfect without them.

The first thing I did was run into the bathroom.

I’d been outside. That’s all I could remember. I’d been outside, and the cars were outside. And they shone with light. And they had people inside that looked at me as if I was what they wanted. And now I was inside. Away from their dogs. Away from their fear. Away from everything and anything they could possibly change, because no one showed up here. No one came. We were secluded and separate, it was our little world.

I guess I thought it was normal for it to be that way.

I locked the door. Lights off. I didn’t want to see myself in the mirror. I didn’t want to know I was the reason for all of this.

Because I knew I was.

You could tell, the way that the moment the officials saw me, they tried to get to us. Get to us violently, as if their justice-lusting lives depended on it. They started pounding even harder on the door, trying to get to us, but Mom wouldn’t let them through. The officers shouted, clawing and kicking their way to an attempted justice, while Mom whispered and hissed to them as she attempted to quiet them.

That’s when I ran.

My door was shut tight. It just took a moment for it to all settle in. For the evil regrets that I left behind my sisters. For the relaxing calm of being safe after a surge of adrenaline.

Lights.

Dogs barking below. Somehow, I knew they were trying to get to us. But I could hear how mom was pleading. Somehow, I could hear it all. Through my breath and my heartbeats.

They just wanted to get us to go to a place. They just wanted to solve this in a way that no one was hurt, so she agreed. They had only one demand, and that was all it took. If she went through, we stayed. If she didn’t, we would be taken. And through sobs, her agreement was made.

And with that, they made a deal.

And with that, everything changed.

“You’re going to school,” Mom said that night, trying not to create a big emphasis on the word ‘school.’ Trying to make the word as quiet as possible, as if it was just another word. Just another phrase.

Just another.

But no matter how quiet she could’ve said it, I would’ve hated it. I would’ve hated how the word came out of her lips. The way she tore it out of her lips with every inch of her soul, as if the word was a curse. The way she looked back upon the word with hatred in her words and fear in her eyes. She said it the way the word was supposed to sound, besides the softness. No disguises. No sugar coating.

Even a single sentence can change your life irrevocably. Every word you’ve written down in the story of your life can cease to mean anything. It’s all deleted.

Just one word, and everything is erased.

That day, I suppose the words put everything in an entire different light. Not only do words change our lives, but also they change our perspectives.

And in a way, can’t that have even more of an impact?

Change. Different.

School.

I don’t want the world to see me. Because I don’t think that they’d understand.

Phoebe, my closest sister, she started a fight. She began standing up, getting all wild. Fighting for the fact that we’d never been anywhere but home, and that Mom hadn’t prepared us. And eventually, the two of them went upstairs together. Des’s apple had knuckle-shaped bruises in the sides, a single bite taken out of it. The succulent, foaming juices swimming between her bared teeth. Sheenan’s smile wasn’t as bright anymore.

It changed us.

And the tension was too much. And the sunset was beginning to bloom outside. And it was all dark and suspenseful inside, so why not go back outside? Where it’s a world of color and bright?
Why not go towards the bright place?
So there I was.

Sitting on the special rock I never dared sit anywhere else on. The one that was cracked so in the middle, there was a piece missing. Right in the middle. It was cracked into four sections, but the middle was empty. If it was filled up, then it’d have five.

Some kind of metaphor of missing puzzle pieces kept me to it. It made me sit at this rock, compared to the bland other ones.

So there I was.

The man’s blaze of glory kept my mouth shut and my eyes wide. The way the colors screamed off of him. The way he seemed so ethereal and different and… Shaggy gray hair. Arched back.

A man.

“Maverick.”

He said my name simply. As if he had nothing to hide when he said it. As if it was just another name, as if this didn’t occur as abnormal to him.

I didn’t know what to say.

No one ever showed up at my house like this. At our house. No people. People were bad, and we had to tell Mom the moment they showed up.

“I’d like to speak to Ms. Jace,” he stated. A fishing pole over his shoulder. Grasped in his old, wizened hands. Gold rings.

He came in a wave of glory.

He came in a way that made me think that he was just a normal man. That he wasn’t all he was. That he wouldn’t come, and so much would change. He came with vibrant, blue eyes. He came with wavy blonde hair.

He came as the unknown.

“Who?”

Silence.

His eyes made his way around the house. Bricks and glass and shutters all colliding at just the right places to form a house. A beautiful, solitary house.

He looked at it as if it was trash.

“Your mother,” he pointed out.

“Oh… I’ll go get her.” I began standing up, trying to understand what he could possibly want. What anyone could ever want from my mother. She had nothing to give, nothing to take.

I turned around. Thinking. Watching him, hoping he wouldn’t look back. But he was. His eyes never left mine.

But I got her.

When I told her a man was outside, her mouth was stuck in a silent scream. When I told her a man was outside, she rushed to her shoes and ran as fast as she could.

When I told her a man was outside, she was scared.

And Mom is never scared.

But after all that’s happened, and what happened with the cops, I’m starting to think she has something to be scared about.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

When I decided to return to the writing project again for the novel, I expected the worse. I thought that the draft I had previously created would be awful and useless. However, when reading back on what I had created in eighth grade, I was talented. I wasn’t the best at avoiding cliches and more of a childish voice, but I was good at detail and coming up with unique ideas. I see a lot in what I had written before that I can use now.

I believe I have improved in my dialogue and how the characters show the meaning behind the conversation. In my chapter I wrote recently, I feature a conversation that shows why and how the individuals are now in this situation. My writing is a bit more concrete with the dialogue, but still remains a bit abstract. This is evidenced by the conversation difference between the unrealistic occurance of the ‘Man’ in my old chapter and Phoebe within the new chapter. However, with descriptions, I believe I am more creatively abstract. This can be evidenced by my two portrayals of glory.

While I have a lot of differences, I believe a lot has also remained the same. If I was to look at both chapters, I would have a possibility of recognizing them to be the same author. My ability to formulate new, creative ideas on perspective has remained about the same. Something else that stayed the same that I didn’t talk about in this blog was the plot: my plot is going to be nearly the same as my original, completed novel.

Looking at these two chapters now have made me realize how much I have improved, and has made me wonder again how much I want writing to be a part of my future. Recently, I have questioned my college plans and pondered over whether or not I should completely stop writing in my college career. However, starting up this project again, I realize that writing is a part of me that I don’t want to stop or give up. I really don’t want to give writing up. Not now. Not ever.

My Legacy

When you Google the word legacy, it’s hard to find the definition of the word that you actually are looking for. You find definitions that are tainted with theories of money and inheritances. Because of this, I decided to define legacy in my own way: the impact you make on both yourself and others in some period of your lifetime. If I was asked what I wanted my legacy in life to be, I would have an affirmative answer. However, if i was asked what I want my legacy to be now, it’s harder to answer. You’d expect it to be the opposite, right?

My idea of what my legacy is going to be begins with my PSA project. When starting my PSA project for my Civics and English class, I was flooded with ideas for what I wanted to inform others about. Some involved minority issues, and others involved the environment. The issues that attracted me most, however, were those that involved mental health. Ultimately, the topic I chose for my PSA was mental health awareness. Through my research, I learned that there had been a plan to have a safe mental health place within the school. The second I heard about this plan, I was passionate about it. Because of the alarming statistics on student stress and declining mental health, I am further affirmed in my mind as to why I should do this. I want my legacy to be that I help make this a reality.

https://www.greenwichtime.com/local/article/Greenwich-school-board-considers-new-budget-items-13197596.php

The mental health space proposed for the school, as described by the Greenwich Time, the Education Wellness center was going to provide a variety of support systems and a physical space. The project would require 10,000$, a room, and perhaps another social worker or psychologist. In a quote from the event, it is stated that there is no direct need for such a service. Board member Sherr stated, “We don’t have a demand from the state this year.” However, there is always a demand for better mental health services in schools. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death amongst teenagers our age. Why is it that it took me researching so deeply into the topic for me to realize it was that high? Soonafter seeing that statistic, I encountered many more. 49% of students experience a large amount of stress, and 31% encounter some amount of stress. How much more need to we need, especially in a town where expectations are so high for us to succeed in schools? Our SAT scores are so great that Yale and other major schools want to come to our college fairs, but what price does this pay on students in general? The services that this mental health center would provide would include access to information and sources, as well as a soothing area where students can work on homework. This space can provide some homework passes to help reduce student stress, as well as give individuals a place to feel mentally safe.

The first part of what I can do is gather research on the plan already reviewed by the board, and see what is being done about the project. As of right now, I don’t know much about what is already in place. However, I do know that there is something out there. I would start my research with fellow teachers, as well as ask students whether or not they would want something like this. I can also see who else feels as passionate about the project that I do. I believe teachers and students would benefit the most from this plan. In an ideal world, this safe space would provide students the opportunity to escape from a bad day at school without consequence and in turn do better in school with the newfound freedom. This would benefit the teachers as well because of the better grades and overall well being of the students. The second part of what I can do is come up with a plan. After my research is taken, I would see what students want from such a program. In my mind, I would expect a space in between a normal school space and an emergency visit to the guidance office- just without the severity or lack of severity of either. Finally, I would act and work with the school system to see my plan click into a place. My vision of a mental health space would include things such as homework passes and support for anyone who needs it. The space would be aesthetically soothing and provide materials necessary for calming down whoever may need it.

When looking at the reality of the plan, it is also important to look at the reality and possibility of what can be done. I can do this by looking at the future master plan for Greenwich High School. While I won’t be in the school when the master plan is implemented,  I want what I create to stay in the school for the last time. My plan doesn’t require much space; we have many learning centers and spaces within the school that could be used.

For awhile, I’ve wanted to perform this project. Writing about my legacy has made me feel passionate and hopeful about the potential that this project provides: a safe space for all. I hope that I can find the motivation and support from others to go through with it.

My Sanctuary: The Journey

 

To relate my place of refuge to such a stormy, unpredictable river could only be described in one way: absolutely true. The thing that makes the ending destination so special is how rocky it was to get there. But doesn’t every final place involve a journey? Doesn’t every sanctuary begin that way?

My sanctuary is only accessible by time. Right now, I’m on the journey. My destination is the future. My sanctuary is knowing I’m going to get there.

In Huckleberry Finn, Huck is aimlessly searching for freedom at the end of the river. He has no certain place he really wants to go, he just wants to be free and escape the uncivilised life behind him. However, most of the sanctuary he holds is in the world he now lives in: the river. While he knows something will be waiting for him at the end, he finds sanctuary in the fact that that’s where he is going. He finds the river to be calming and warm, but it costs something: isolation.

“The entrance door to sanctuary is inside you.” -Rami

I remember when I had to travel the journey to my sanctuary the same way he did: isolated. I was so terrified about others interfering and somehow breaking the route I was already heading. I spent a lot of time thinking no one could possibly help me on this journey, that I had to do it alone. I like to consider that time, the beginning, the stormy days. The dark days.

What could possibly be so priceless that I would have risked isolation for?

The future.

My future is painted with dreams about college and life in the city. It’s filled with years and years of school in college, followed by a small, quiet teen center in the midst of New York. A filter covers it, a tainted filter that only brings out the best of what I can be. It’s a hopeful filter. My sanctuary is the hope that my future will be okay, that I’m going to be okay.

That’s the one thing Huck and I have in common: we’re going somewhere, and that’s where we find our hope. However, I try to be much less isolated.

As I mentioned before, I was much more isolated at the beginning of realizing what I wanted in my future. I didn’t allow myself to form friendships or relationships to stop me from wanting to go to my dream college. I didn’t have many friends for a year of my life that lived within fifty miles of myself, just online friends who wanted the same things.

When time passed, I slowly began to see myself in other people around me. Every once in awhile, I’d see someone who also wanted to live in New York city. Some other times, I would see someone who was just passionate about writing or psychology than I was. I find sanctuary in my journey when I see people similar to me. Slowly, I became less and less isolated.

I don’t know where Huck’s journey will end. But I do know where mine will.

If it comes to right now, I spend lots of time in a somewhat physical place: my map. I have a Google Map where I put every little place I want to go one day. Especially in New York City. I’ve spent hours trying to find every last restaurant, park, and goal I want to fulfill. I know, one day, I will be able to do it all.  

new-york-city-night-and-day-photo-l

And knowing that is my sanctuary.

Turning Over A New Leaf

I’ve always considered myself many things: I am a writer; I am school-obsessed; I am a loner. However, high school really did change my luck with friends and my environment. But how do I possibly balance such a large change, and truly turn over a new leaf?

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” -W. Shakespeare.

I believe that a lot of who I am and the decisions I’ve come to make have been shaped by my environment, and who I have chosen to include in my life. I realize that I seemed to make better academic decisions all the time when I was a dorky loner in ninth grade, not really having many friends. However, I started tenth grade and it was like a new start. People actually liked me. I could make friends with others. I wasn’t invisible. Suddenly, the academics I used to be addicted to were no longer as important. Maintaining the friends I somehow gained was the most important thing. Here I am, a year later, ready to find the balance between the two: relationships, environments, and academics. I believe I can work on individual situations in order to make this an easier goal. Some of these situations include surrounding myself with supportive individuals, a decent surrounding, and making friends with myself.

Support is defined as this: bearing all or part of the weight; hold up. When do we know if our friends and family really support us, and when should they have to? Surrounding yourself with supportive individuals is an extremely hard task, but doable if you have just the right amount of patience and time. However, you must also find those who are patient as well and ready to commit to truly caring about you. When you live most of your life not really having that support,  it’s hard to balance the new change with what you had to learn yourself: to support you when no one else did. However, it is possible to weave through the individuals who now are a part of your life and balance your relationships with them with school.

“Surround yourself with those who only lift you higher.” -Oprah Winfrey.

A decent surrounding is key to allowing yourself to have a healthy learning space and succeed as much as possible. Signs that a surrounding is toxic is when there is much noise, both mentally and physically. It is important to find both a decent physical surrounding and a mental surrounding that will encourage you to further focus and succeed in your work. A way you can achieve a decent surrounding is to make sure you have a peaceful room or area of your choice. This place may be a library, your room, or a friend’s house. When you feel truly at peace in your mind, that’s when you will know you have found the right place. However, it is important to keep this separate from the place you relax and not confuse comfort for peace. Work in an environment that will motivate you to complete the tasks of the day and be a productive individual.

While both of these things are significantly important, making friends with yourself is the most important goal of them all. Personally, I will go through big changes in order to truly turn over a new leaf. It is important that I truly love and accept myself and the person I become at the end of it: because as great as my supportive friends may be, I’m my biggest fan.

In summary, it is important to establish a healthy mindset and steady surrounding in order to truly begin to focus on everything that comes into place after.

Beginning Innovation Lab: First Impressions

The decision to join Innovation Lab last year was a last minute decision formed in the midst of finals and stress. And I have absolutely no regrets. However, doing the activity I was introduced to on the first day, I realize I have to work towards one goal: find the courage to think outside the box.

On the first day, we entered the classroom. I was shocked with how the classroom was set up, how people sat wherever they wanted. Then, class began. We had a project immediately. We approached the paper bags on our desk with curiosity, but we opened them with speed. We were told to take the items and succeed in the challenge written on the piece of paper: create a sketch of a machine that would keep a newborn baby warm without electricity. Not ever really being in a situation where this was ever given as a project, I was confused and worried I would do it wrong. In front of me lay two straws, a plastic sheet, a couple paper clips, an elastic band, and a notecard. In the midst of me being confused, I ended up taking the simple way out. With my partner, I transformed the paper into a cocoon with a paperclip so it would cradle the child, hopefully keeping them warm without electricity. At the end, I realized that the result was somewhat original. But I was still proud of creating an answer for a demand I, at first, had no clue how to approach.

The purpose of the project was to create a physical sketch of what we wanted to make, and use the materials given to the best of our ability.  While my group’s creation may have been a bit unoriginal, I saw from other groups how well people worked together. I also saw how they created things that weren’t immediately obvious. I believe this philosophy is important to keep in mind as I venture into InnLab as a new student because I see it as the goal of the program: thinking outside the box. My goal as the school year continues is to feel 110% confident with stepping outside of the box, and eventually feeling comfortable creating creative solutions for future projects.