Hundreds of Playlists by Molly Spring

In times of joy, happiness, despair, or frustration, I turn to music. I, myself, have never played an instrument besides the recorder in the second grade; however, I consider music to be one of the most important parts of my life. Music teaches us about each other. Music can captivate, amaze, heal, and move you in such a way that nothing else can. Some of my best memories I can attach a song or artist to and I am reminded of the same smiles and laughs when that first note plays. I have made hundreds of playlists in my life. Playlists that convey an array of emotions, playlists that represent certain times of my life, playlists that bring a strong sense of nostalgia or a smile to my face. I journal in playlists. Each month, sometimes each week, I create a new playlist of all the music I’ve discovered that month, playing it constantly until I get sick of each song. Music is therapy.

 

Jeanne Calment by Josh Skubby

The oldest person ever recorded is Jeanne Calment, a French woman who lived to be 122 years (and 164 days) old. She was born in 1875 and lived until 1997.

That’s ridiculous. It’s also really hard to comprehend.

She was born a decade removed from the American Civil War, and died a few short years before 9/11. When World War II ended, she was 70 years old. Then she lasted another 50 years. She lived more than two lifetimes, especially by 1875 standards.

Let’s run down a list of things she experienced.

She was a young woman when the Wright Brothers first took off from Kitty Hawk in 1903. The world became a hell of a lot smaller in the following decades. Over her life. she saw airplanes revolutionize the way we travel.

Thomas Edison tested his first light bulb in 1878. Nowadays, light bulbs have taken over the developed world. It’s hard to imagine an American home without them.

Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for the telephone in 1876. Over the next 120 years, it spread like wildfire and connected humans in a way never done before.

Basketball wasn’t invented until 1891. In the 1996-97 season, Michael Jordan was on his way to his 5th championship.

Geopolitically, she saw almost everything there is to see. The second wave of colonization effectively began with the Berlin Conference in 1884-85. She saw the scramble for Africa, World War I, World War II, de-colonization, and the Cold War’s beginning and end. We think of all these events as somewhat separate, with certain links connecting them. Although their circumstances differ, Jeanne Calment witnessed them all.

Imagine living that long, with the world around you transforming in so many different ways. She must have met so many different people and heard so many different stories.

With so many years, however, she lived through plenty of tragedies. She only had one daughter and one grandson. Her husband, Fernand, died in 1942. Her daughter, Yvonne, died in 1934, on her 36th birthday. Her brother, François, died in 1962, while her son-in-law, Joseph, died in 1963.

Her only grandson, Frédéric, died in August 1963 in an automobile accident. Of all the things she lived through, I’m sure that stung especially hard. He was 37.

Imaging being old as long as she was. If we consider 70 to be old, she was old for over 50 years. It makes you wonder; how long is too long?

Peace, Love, Plants by Ava Byrne

I am a self described plant mom. I have around fourteen potted plants at various places around my room. The other day, I was thinking about how I would have to leave most of my plants at home when I go to college. I was so sad and of course the obvious course of action is to buy another plant, which is exactly what I did. So I thought why not write my blog about plants. My plant obsession started a few years ago with a succulent and my collection grew to the 14 assorted potted plants I have today. In my humble opinion I think everyone should have at least one potted plant. Here’s why.

  1. They’re super cute. You cannot argue with me on this. Need to spruce up your room? Boom potted plant.
  2. They reduce anxiety and stress- According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, interacting with houseplants, like touching, watering, etc, can reduce physiological and psycological stress.
  3. You can give them silly names. I personally have an Aloe Vera plant named Queen Latifah and a cactus named Jorge.
  4. It feels nice to take care of something and see it grow.
  5. Your parents won’t let you get a dog? Fill that puppy shaped void in your heart with lots and lots of plants.

First Reflections by Ian Marr

Though it feels as if the school year is still young, I can see my cap and gown waiting. It’s hard to grasp that my time at Shaker Heights High School is drawing to an end. When I was an underclassman, I dreamed of this year, expecting it be fun, carefree, and unpredictable. If I was right about any of those things, it would be that this year has been unpredictable. I’ve had grueling homework assignments to complete, auditions to prepare for, and I’ve pulled three all-nighters in a row just to barely keep my grades above water. Indeed, it seems that senior year is far from what is expected by many students. The year steadily moves forward, assignments come and go, previously established relationships strengthen or fade, until it all eventually just… stops.

It almost seems like some sort of cruel experiment. In your freshman year, you’re thrust into an unfamiliar environment with hundreds of others just like you. As the years gradually progress, you begin to see how you stack up against other students. You watch clusters of students rise to the top, while many fall behind, all while you try to decide which area you’re going to land. You build friendships and close bonds with others. Some become stronger through the toughest of times, while others are destroyed by jealousy or neglect. Perhaps a significant other enters the fray, and with them an idea of a future that may not ever become reality. As the years continue, emotions are tested and become stronger, assignments become more challenging, and the pressure to do well and gain respect increases, until the final day, where old friends smile and part ways, marking the start of a new chapter of life. At the end of this journey, when I will carry these memories with me to my next destination, I will ask myself if this was all worth it. The culminating experience that these four years have brought me will surely remain in my memories forever. Whether or not it will leave a positive or negative impact still remains to be seen.

After all, I haven’t even started college yet. Who knows what changes those years will bring?

I Am in Control by Claire Ockner

I am in control, at least that’s what I tell myself

I control these words,

I control the steadiness of my breath,

I control what I say, what I do,

And when I do it.

 

I control what I think, don’t I?

Or do you — the part of me that is not me,

The part I can’t control.

Breathe in, breathe out

I am in control.

 

They’re just busy, I say

No, they’re dead, you reply

And then I spiral and spiral

And it just won’t stop —

Breathe in, breathe out

I am in control.

 

I keep you safe, you tell me

All you do is hold me back

From everything, absolutely everything.

Breathe in, breathe out

I am in control.

 

You are gone, for now

I’m sure you’ll come back, though

Today is mine, and mine only

I am in control.

America is So Quirky by Fenner Dreyfuss-Wells

Each year, when we lose an hour of sleep due to daylight savings time (or daylight saving time, depending on your preference), the issue seems to take on a sudden importance. A petition to eliminate the practice, for example, has amassed 179,401 signatures, and there will probably be more by the time you read this. There are proposals to make the time change permanent, keeping our clocks set forward like they are right now. Advocates say this would lower crime and traffic deaths, save energy, promote healthy sleep, and strengthen the economy. If this is true, I agree. It’s hard to argue against that slew of positivity. But maybe there’s something to be said for our current system.

Personally, I enjoy the always-unexpected shifts in daylight. I like waking up one winter morning to find that the sun has already risen, illuminating the path to school. I smiled as I came home from practice today to find sun flooding into my living room. It’s a pleasant surprise, one that’s worth an hour of sleep in the spring. Besides, it’s quirky! A nationwide coordinated clock shift for the purpose of changing the availability of sunlight during the day is the last thing I would expect legislators to devote time to. But they did, and that’s what we do, and it’s exciting, and strange, and okay. 

A Room of My Own Creation by Abigail Beard


Image result for college apps“Do you even want to get in to college?”
Yes mom, I think, I’ve applied to SEVEN colleges! What do you MEAN “do I want to go to college?!”
My mom and I have been fighting for about a week. To me, it’s simple. I don’t want to go to a school that she wants me to apply to. She says that I should at least look at the amount of money they offer me before I turn them down. I think to myself that no matter how much money they offer me, I’m NOT GOING!
I feel like she’s controlling me! We’re talking about the next four years of my life! Does my choice not matter!

I’m swimming in my anger and my frustration when, in a second, everything stops; my mother says that my grandma hasn’t eaten in four days. I go from angry to sobered-I know how much her mother means to her. Grandma got pneumonia last year, and ended up in a nursing home. Ever since, she hadn’t been doing too well, but it’s never been this bad.

It’s amazing how one second, you can be lost and alone in a room of your own creation, and the next, you can find that the room that you thought you were alone in, wasn’t a room at all. I realized, at that moment, that my problems were pretty insignificant compared to the news about my grandma. My eyes had been opened: I now saw where I, and my college troubles, really sat in the tapestry of my life.

And so I sit quietly and say, okay, when my mom asks me again to submit the application documents to a school I don’t want to apply to. I appease her, because she’s tired.

Because at the end of the day, I still love her.

Fear by Tomasina DeLong

What are you most afraid of? This question can dictate one’s life if they let it. You read novels about tragic characters who spend their life trying to avoid their greatest fear. This could ruin their life, and they might end up facing it anyway.

People can be afraid of tangible things like spiders, supernatural things like ghosts, or emotions like loneliness. For me, I am most afraid of failure. Failure is such a general word, so what is it? It means something different to everyone, because “success” is different for everyone as well. For me, I am not afraid of not getting a trophy. I am not afraid of not winning anything in particular.

To me, failure is when I let myself down. I let myself down when I let others down. Everyone is constantly telling me, “you have done it once, so you can do it again.” My dilemma comes when I ask myself: What if it DOESN’T happen again? What if I CAN’T perform well again. What if I DON’T live up to everyone’s expectations? This is where I would let others down, letting myself down as well.

Being surrounded by praise and encouragement creates a happy atmosphere, but I am so sheltered that I won’t know what to do when things don’t go well. Of course, I have not always done well, and I have had bad days, but overwhelmingly my days are good. I’m thinking to myself, “What’s so bad about that? That doesn’t sound too bad at all.”

There is an overwhelming pressure I feel, because not only do I have high expectations for myself, but others have high expectations for me as well. For example, my counselor doesn’t want me to stop taking the ACT until I get at least a 34 or 35, and that is when he will be “content with me stopping.” I understand that he does not decide when I actually will stop taking it, but I know that he has a preconceived notion about me. Whether or not that belief about me is accurate doesn’t matter, because I know it is there and I know it is another expectation I will try to meet.

I am pressuring myself, but I have people surrounding me who are doing the same thing, and it is starting to break me. I know that I have control over how others let me feel, but I am afraid of letting them down.

The Bastard of New York (part one) by Harlan Friedman-Romell

The year? 1986. The month? March. The place? Your apartment balcony; ‘tis a brisk, wintery eve in The City That Never Sleeps. You look over Central Park, a thin layer of slush covers the ground as the fragile, icy branches quiver in the gusty wind. A stray breeze catches your satin nightgown, as if it were trying to gently draw you into the night along with it. You remain firm, yet still longing to be swept away from the mundanity of your life by some mythical Hollywood leading man. You look directly across the park at the apartment opposite yours, looking to see your ‘loving’ husband waving a white towel in the distance. You two wave towels for each other every night before taking to sleep, letting you know of his whereabouts, and his yours. Yes, your living situation is unconventional, but it works.

Tonight, there is no towel in sight.

You take a deliberate puff on a thick Montecristo you procured from your most recent trip to Cuba. (Summer of ‘85, you believe. The weather was sublime. It was a very good year.) The cigar was still smooth after two hours, but your time is just about up.

The phone rings. Once. Twice. Three times. He’s taught you how to keep someone in suspense.

From your veranda, you rush into the living room and hover over to the handset, hands trembling. You know who’s on the other end of the line, and if—nay, when—you answer, he’ll be under your skin. You’ll be doing things his way.

And yet, inhaling deeply, you pick it up.

“It’s been a long time, Frank,” you say.

“Too long, my dear.”

A pregnant pause. He’s waiting for you two utter those three fateful words.

“I miss you,” you confess.

“I know.” The coloring of his voice was considerably darker than last you’ve heard it. It’s smokier. Richer. Like wood-fired molasses. It’s intoxicating. It’s so wrong, yet it feels so right.

“Come fly with me, Mia.”

“We can’t keep going on like this,” you declare ineffectually.

“Like what?” he questions.

“I want these midnight rendezvous’ to be something more,” you plead. “I’m tired of us meeting under the cover of darkness. I feel like-”

“Like strangers in the night?”

“Exactly.”

“The night makes strangers of us all, Mia. I can’t risk losing you to the light of day.” He’s right.

“I’m not asking you to risk anything,” you reply.

“What about your husband? What about Woody?”

“I’m prepared to face the music when it comes to that little rat, but will you? What about Barbara?”

He fell silent. I called his bluff.

“I need to see you. Come over. We can talk about it,” he conceded.

“Send a car for me.”

“Mr. Jacobs should already be waiting in the foyer,” he stated with confidence.

“You dog, you.”

He knows you love it.

“Come as you are, my love,” he commands. “You needn’t any makeup; I want the real Mia Farrow.”

“And I want nothing more than the real Frank Sinatra.”

“And the real Frank Sinatra you will get,” he added.

“Oh, how I long for your sweet embrace, Frank. I need you now.”

“I’ll count the seconds. So far I’m up to four!” he joked.

Oh, Frank. Intensely romantic for one moment, downright goofy the next. He was like that sometimes.

“I’ll see you soon,” you whisper.

“Goodbye, for now.”

You set down the phone and step into some pastel pink slippers. They were a gift from your husband back in ‘82, but you’re paying him no mind. There’s only one person living rent free inside your head at this very moment, and that is Francis Albert Sinatra.

You gather yourself and begin a momentous descent from your apartment, down three flights of stairs, and into the magnificent foyer of your apartment building. There, you find Mr. Jacobs, dressed in his signature grey suit and brown tie, standing at the ready.

“Ms. Farrow.”

“Mr. Jacobs. Good to see you.”

“It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?”

“It’ll be six months tomorrow.”

Had it really only been six months? You feel it must’ve been longer since you’ve stared into his beautiful, blue eyes in the flesh.

“I assume you are ready.”

“As I’ll ever be.”

No one can truly ever be ready for a night with Frank Sinatra.

As you step into the back of the car, a whirlwind of emotions overcome you. You’re excited, yes, but you also have the worst feeling in the pit of your stomach. Something is not right. Greater forces are at play here. This night will result in something much more. Something that the both of you cannot be responsible for.
As Mr. Jacobs drives away, you begin to consider that perhaps the best is not yet to come.

Jake’s Top 5 Favorite Musicals

  1. Spamalot

This musical is nothing short of hysterical. Normally, persistently breaking the fourth wall is not something I’m a fan of, but the characters in Spamalot do it so carelessly that it somehow works. Adapted from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, this production ruthlessly mocks the medieval caste system. Wholesome family fun!

  1. Miss Saigon

This, unfortunately, is not wholesome family fun. Taking place during the Vietnam War, this musical follows the journey of a brothel leader and one of its young girls, both of which wanting to escape the confines of their war-torn country. A smashing soundtrack paired with heartbreaking acting moments will leave you in tears.

  1. Hamilton

Hamilton is a masterpiece, and possibly the best production of this generation. Everyone knows what Hamilton is, but for those who haven’t seen it, I’d like to mention that the original cast is worlds apart from what you will see. This production, unfortunately, relies on proprietary performances from some of the best on Broadway.

  1. Dear Evan Hansen

I don’t think that this show is “better” than Hamilton, but I certainly enjoyed it more. The soundtrack is essentially a pop album, which is ironic, considering that the show revolves around suicide and isolation brought on by digital media. This story follows a young man named Evan, who pretends to have been friends with a boy who killed himself, Connor, so that he may bring his family comfort in a time of mourning.

  1. Book of Mormon

This is not just my favorite musical; it may also be my favorite work of art. It pokes fun not just at Mormonism, but organized religion in general, which actually serves to humanize people of the Mormon faith by equivocating its competitors. Incredible vocals, relentless shock-humor, and masterful storytelling join forces to tell a story that’s greater than the sum of its parts.