It’s Not a Diary by Harlan Friedman-Romell

 

Allow me to take you back to 2008. It’s mid-summer. I’m six. My biggest concerns in the world are brussel sprouts and having to brush my teeth before bed. One July morning, I see my friend with this book. He says it just came out. He says he can’t wait to read the next one. He says it’s the best book he’s ever read.

Pssh. Yeah right. It can’t be better than Taro Gomi’s 1993 classic Everybody Poops. That book remains to be the funniest novel I’ve ever read.

He lends it to me. He says I need to read it. I begrudgingly take his copy and walk back to my house.

I devour page after page in that book. I am entranced. This book becomes my personal bible.

A few weeks ago, I tried to re-read that same book. I nestled myself on my bed under the covers with a cup of lukewarm English Breakfast (the only acceptable kind of tea aside from Irish Breakfast) on my bedside table. I was ready. I opened Diary of a Wimpy Kid to the first page.

And it was bad.

It was really bad.

Jeff Kinney’s New York Times Bestseller Diary of a Wimpy Kid has spawned a dozen sequels, each one more contrived and trite than the previous. For some reason, something about the book resonated so well with me. Was I a ‘wimpy kid?’ No. I hope not. Being a seventh grader just seemed so cool. Looking back, it’s hilarious to think that being a middle schooler is cool, in fact I’d probably use any word but ‘cool’ to describe middle schoolers. But, after actually experiencing the wonders and worries of middle school, the unbelievably cliched story quickly loses its luster.

I have no issue admitting that the book, however much I loved it as a kid, is not of a high quality.

But the movie?

I have a confession.

I love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time.

Yes, I know.

People say, “Harlan, why do you love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie? That movie sucks.”

And I admit, yes, it won’t speak to everyone. On the surface, the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a simple, coming of age tale that highlights a basic message: be true to yourself. If you look at the characters and the scenarios as average and sub-par comedic gags, you won’t retain much. But, if you look a little deeper, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a bitingly satirical social critique of the suburban American lifestyle in the late 2000s.

“What?” they say. “That’s so stupid. How?”

And I say, stay tuned for my next blog.

Risk by Jake Lehner

 

 

 

 

 

 

I asked for an apple, and instead received a half-severed thumb. It was ten o’clock at night, and I was craving a pouch of thinly-sliced apple. My dad would usually prepare it, since the Lehner fruit-cutting gene apparently passes down from father to son. But he was still at work, so my mom’s slicing skills would have to suffice. I called for her from the kitchen, asking to cut me a honey crisp apple and transfer the fruits of her labor (get it?) into a ziplock sandwich bag so that I could eat and watch my favorite cartoon, Spongebob, simultaneously. She replied that I would have to settle for a bowl of dry Go Lean Crunch cereal because she was exhausted and didn’t feel like making the journey to the kitchen.

Why didn’t I feel defeated? Why didn’t I just pout or beg or throw a tantrum? Ah, for you see, I had made up my mind the moment I recognized the strong craving I was having for fresh honey crisp apple. It wasn’t a question of if, but how, I would realize my delicious fate. I tiptoed over to the cutlery drawer and pulled from it a long butcher’s knife. I then placed the apple onto the kitchen counter and held it steady with my left hand. And, as I made my first attempt at cutting into the meat of the apple, the knife slipped off of its slippery skin and I instead made a cut into the meat of my thumb. I yelled for help as the apple was splashed with a liquid of its own complexion. My mom quickly grabbed a clean rag from under the kitchen sink and applied pressure to my wound, too worried to be upset by my act of defiance. We both hurried into the white minivan parked in the driveway and headed for the Emergency Room.

I only realized once the doctor removed the rag and cleaned the wound that I could actually see the bone of my thumb, surrounded by a mutilation of purple and yellow tissue. After the doctor repaired the damage to my thumb with stitches and a large bandage, I was cleared to return home.

Being only five years of age, my headstrong nature had already gotten me into trouble. But, I’m glad that I didn’t settle for the dry, stale bowl of Go Lean Crunch. I took a risk, and I ended up in the emergency room; but I continue to take risks because, one day, I know I will enjoy the crisp, thinly sliced honey crisp apple that I’ve always wanted.

Rose by Grace Meyer

Ruby red dress immersed in velvet

Dripping in monochrome banter

Shapeshifting in front of our eyes

Stripped of elegance and beauty, exposing her thorns

 

Pleasing to the eye

Flashing a smile to her victims

Capturing all attention from the blood red gown

Platinum blond hair cleanses all lurking sins upon her skin

 

Sauntering amongst unsuspecting eyes

Stabs obstacles in her way

Walks away untouched

Drowning in tarnished truth

 

Withering from loss of sustenance

All along she was made of plastic.

She can try to run from her actions,

But reality never lies.

The Worst Day of the Week by Monet Bouie

Hello people of the world! Welcome to another blog posted by yours truly. Today, I’ve got something on my mind and I’m going to let it out! This may be a little controversial. It may even be a topic to avoid at dinner parties. In fact, you may want to stop reading right now.

Ok, I’ve warned you.

I hate Fridays.

Boom! I said it! And you know what? I’m even proud of it. I can’t stand Fridays. Throughout the week I get a sense of foreboding as the day approaches. I can’t help but wake up in the morning and feel agitated that this irksome day has come again. A shiver runs down my spine at the mere utterance of the “day that shall not be named”. But it hasn’t always been this way. There was a time I could even crack a smile on Fridays. After 17 years, 932 Friday’s to be exact, I can easily say that Fridays are the absolute worst. So here it is:

My top 10 reasons to hate Fridays:

  1. My teachers make it a weekly ritual to have tests on this day

For starters, I always have a million tests on Fridays. It’s as though my teachers all huddle in the teachers lounge, snicker, and rub their hands together as they plan my downfall…  or whatever happens in the teacher’s lounge.

      2. The anticipation for Saturday

I don’t like anticipation. Maybe my problem of waiting stems from my lack of patience, but nonetheless, I hate it. Fridays are like the moment right before you sneeze, but it lasts a whole day! Everything is building up to an amazing Saturday. You get to sleep in, have no homework, and binge on Netflix. A Friday is like a movie theater bathroom sink when you first turn the faucet. It’s super cold and takes way too long to get warm.

      3. TGI Fridays

Yes, I’m talking about the restaurant. I can easily say I’m not a fan. With only 1 ½ stars on ConsumerAffair.com, it’s easy to say others feel the same.

     4. End of the School Week

This kind of relates to my first argument. On Fridays I have papers, projects, presentations, and even more due. After 4 days of lugging my heavy backpack around, eating tater tot and broccoli pizza in the cafeteria, and getting no sleep, Friday’s are like the icing on a crappy cake.

      5. Friday the 13th

Not Tuesday the 13th, not Monday the 13th, but Friday the 13th! There are people who have paraskevidekatriaphobia– the fear of Friday the 13th. This day is known for being unlucky. On my birthday some years back I turned 13 on December 13th, in 2013, on Friday the 13th. Let’s just say that was the worst birthday ever.

      6. Black Friday

Now I love a deal just a much as the next guy, but you’d be insane to say you love Black Friday. Sure, the sales are great, but having to push your way through a crowd, see mom’s fight over a barbie dream house for their spoiled “little angel”, and sorting through mountains worth of bath and body works “for sale” items is not worth it.

      7. The most Dangerous day

Fridays are the most dangerous day of the week.The Nationwide Insurance report showed that commuting to work by car was the most dangerous of Fridays. It’s also the most likely day for declared war and a coup d’etat. In fact, 4 of the 15 current leader who seized power in a coup did so… you guessed it, on a Friday!

      8. “Freaky Friday (2018)

Did you know Disney made another remake of Freaky Friday, because I sure didn’t. And after watching it I can tell you that it does not compare to the 2003 version featuring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis, the 1995 version, or the 1976 original with Jodie Foster. This time it was a musical, I rest my case.

      9. Donald Trump

Donald Trump was born in 1946 on Friday, June 14th. Enough said.

     10. Everybody Loves it

And the worst part, the absolute worst thing about Fridays is that everyone loves them!

Rubicon by Josh Skubby

Image result for senate chamber

Over 2000 years ago, the Roman Republic keeled over under the weight of soon-to-be emperor Julius Caesar. For 7 years the First Triumvirate oversaw Rome as an alarmingly unstable division of power. The trio of Pompey, Caesar and Crassus formed attempting to subvert the power of the Roman Senate. Each man sought to expand their own power in the context of the Republic.

Clearly, however, Caesar rose above the pack. A widely popular military commander, he had the support of both the military and the Roman people. Following Crassus’s death in 53 BC, the alliance appeared shattered. The Senate quickly aligned themselves with Pompey while Caesar was in Gaul on a military campaign. The Senators feared Caesar’s political power, and ordered he resign command of his army. Caesar refused, opting for civil war. He promptly set about destroying the Roman Republic and establishing the Roman Empire.

Our founders clearly looked to Rome as a model for our own system of democracy. Citizens elect representatives, although citizenship is historically more of a boys club than a legitimate right for all subjects. Our architecture mimics Roman styles, and Latin appears on our currency. Unfortunately, America’s republic is fallible, just as Rome’s was.

I don’t expect Donald Trump to march on the Capitol anytime soon, but the cracks in American democracy are widening. Particularly, our votes grow less and less influential with each election cycle. As Americans become more concentrated in the large states, the small states benefit from maintaining the minimum electoral vote count of 3 while actively losing population. In this young century, the electoral college has failed to accurately reflect the popular vote twice. To his credit, George Bush received a lot of votes in 2000. Al Gore just happened to receive more. 3,000,000 more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, and he won the Electoral College handily. Given the Supreme Court developments until Trump’s administration, he is arguably the most influential loser of all time.

He didn’t win. Not even close.

One of our most basic principles, justice, is routinely threatened at the ballot box. I can excuse the founders for failing to foresee this unfortunate development. The Electoral College is unbalanced, but it has historically aligned with the popular vote. However, this transgression is not limited only to presidential elections.

In Rome, the Senate often acted as the singular string tying Rome to republicanism. It feared Caesar and the danger he posed to their (kinda) democracy. In the United States, however, I argue it pulls our government further from the light with each election cycle.

As the framers ordained it, the Senate chamber intrinsically and perpetually threatens the idea of equality. Giving each state 2 Senators is as unjust as it comes. Wyoming with 579,315 people receives the same representation as California with 39,536,653 people. In that legislative body, 1 Wyomingite has the same representative power as 68.25 Californians.

Wyoming is home to .17% of American citizens. 17 out of every 10,000 Americans lives in Wyoming. 2 out of every 100 Senators is from Wyoming.

Democracy is being undercut with every ballot. Unlike Rome, however, American democracy will not definitively collapse. It will only crawl along, falling prey to a system that discourages electoral reform. America has continually resisted expanding suffrage. While we have grown far more tolerant of universal suffrage, our government is still horrendous at ensuring every vote matters equally. This injustice has prevailed throughout all of American history, and it will not be defeated now.

The die has been cast.

Just as Caesar subverted democracy for his own personal gain, the American republic refuses to correct this objective wrong. Small states prioritize their own political power over this nation’s most base principles. Constitutional amendments require two-thirds of state legislatures to approve of the measure prior to enactment. This stipulation ensures small states will not vote for any proposition which strips them of their unjustly appointed power.

Democracy functions around people, not states. States do not vote (or they shouldn’t anyways). “Protecting the small states” is a euphemism that blasphemously casts aside the doctrine of the United States. We are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. State autonomy is important, but that’s why we have state legislatures. The federal government should protect all its citizens, without regard to which arbitrary lines they fall between.

Voting is a right. Fair representation is not.

It should be.

How Yoga Changed My Life by Molly Spring


Yoga has changed my life.

A text from a close friend,

“Hey, is there any way you would want to come to a yoga class tomorrow afternoon? Let me know!”

I hesitated to say yes, but I decided to just go with it. Who knows? Maybe I would like it?

I walk into the studio, and my feet feel the warm, heated floors of the space in which I have learned to love so dearly throughout the past few years.

I lay my mat on the ground, and set up my space surrounding my mat. The teacher begins to play music as each student gradually enters and settles into the studio. I lay down and begin to breathe slowly and deeply, with intention for how the rest of the class will play out. I feel more calm than ever before.

The class begins, and the teacher guides each student through the start of the practice. With slow motions and soft music, I basque in the serenity and tranquility that overcomes me.

Breathe in, breathe out.

* * *

Fast forward to this summer, where I spent an entire week in Cape Cod with one of my very best friends and her family, whose mom just so happens to be a yoga teacher. Each day, we woke up and went to a yoga class at a local studio where I met some amazing yoga students and felt so welcomed despite the fact that I had never been there before. We came home, and practiced random yoga poses as we got a start to our day on the calm waters of Bucks Pond.

I will not soon forget the way that I felt when I practiced yoga in the comforts of our lake house in the Cape, or walked into “Cape Cod Vinyasa”, the small and joyful community that was formed through the yoga studio in Harwich, MA. The first day that I stepped into the studio, I felt the same way that I felt the first time I came into my studio here in Cleveland. Loved. Supported. Celebrated.

It was amazing, beautiful, and I was ever so grateful to have had this experience. After this week of yoga, practice, and meditation, I had one major takeaway that I will hold onto dearly,

“Yoga is universal. A universal community, a community that respects one another and acknowledges each person’s value.”

* * *

Yoga has done miracles for me. It has the power to release any of my stresses, worries, and responsibilities. It has the power to clear my mind, body, and soul, and I am forever appreciative. I feel like there is always a community to fall back on no matter my situation. I could be in my own city of Cleveland, or completely across the country, and I know for a fact that there is a community I can belong to.

Yoga has changed my life.

Never a Dull Moment By Isabela Ponce de Leon

Never a Dull Moment

By: Isabela Ponce de Leon

All of my life I have been a dreamer. I’m that kid who sits in the back of the room and gets swept away in her thoughts. My imagination has always been my way to escape reality and create a world that is completely my own. Creativity and art are two things that have no prejudice. There is no gender, religion, race or socioeconomic status attached to it. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you look like, everyone can connect through art. Despite what is going on in the world or my personal everyday life, art has always found its way in. We are surrounded by a myriad of pieces of art and people’s expression of creativity on a daily basis. It can be found on the screen, in literature, photos, songs, poems, and in its simplest form, doodles on the side of a paper. For me, creativity gives me the ability to see beauty in everything, that special little detail that makes everything unique. The effect art has on society and the world is limitless. People use it as a tool to shed light on current controversial matters. Through art, people are speaking out about their experiences and sentiments surrounding things such as the #MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter. Art isn’t just about producing something that everyone will love, but also evoking change. In other words, art has become an extension to our voices. Without my upbringing, which allowed me to have an appreciation for the arts and to value what others have to say, I would not have the intimate relationships and connections that I hold so dear in my life. Having been exposed to all types of opinions, backgrounds, voices, cultures, and people I have gained an ability to see the deeper meaning, and without them my perspective of the world would be too ordinary. Our imagination is what allows us to discover unseen possibilities and without a little creativity, life would be oh so very dull.

The Beginning to an End – Bronwyn Warnock

I’m only a junior. Junior year comes with high expectations and lots of responsibilities. It’s the first year that you’re an upperclassman. But, in a way, being an upperclassmen is the beginning of the end. The college pressure arises, the work-load increases, and the intensity sky-rockets. With everything whirling by, some things going high and others low, you manage to make it through.

I take Advanced/IB English and the glorified and wondrous college essay process has begun. As a writing center intern, I have already read and looked at a large quantity of college essays and this has helped me tremendously. Last night, when I sat down to write my college essay, I was stumped. It is so much harder to write a college essay than I expected. Realizing I was stuck, I went into first-drafts mode and simply wrote down whatever came to mind regarding my topic. After editing and re-writing and re-writing again, I finally came to a rough draft I was okay with calling my “first” college essay. I know that I will most likely change and re-imagine my original ideas dozens of times in the future. Oddly enough, my first rough draft of my college essay was under the word limit almost by one-hundred and fifty words. Usually, I can flood essays and papers with ideas but not this time. All I know is, no matter what, my college essay has a long writing journey ahead.

While I was writing my college essay, I was thinking, but not just any kind of thinking. I was pondering what my future holds. As junior year begins, the end is coming closer and closer. An end to my childhood and years spent in high school. I’m starting to look onward, and towards what life will hold in the years to come. Life after high school has always sounded exciting to me. I’ve known for quite some time that I want to be a neonatal nurse, but as the time steadily approaches, my mind is conflicting. So many future careers sound fascinating to me and it shocks me that we live in a world where individuals are expected to know what they wanna do by the age of seventeen or eighteen. While I am aware that my future beyond the high school is so close, I am still not entirely sure about what I want to do. And for right now, that’s alright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Scare in Halloween by Abigail Beard

Image result for commonappIt’s time to talk about the REAL scare in Halloween. not horror movies or haunted houses or being forced to share candy with your family. No, the real Halloween scare is getting those applications in by the November 1st deadline. Please, please do not wait until that last minute to get your applications in. It will be a real horror when (when) the website crashes on the night of the 31st. I’ll be rubbing my hands in evil glee from my rooftop perch, looking in as the screen shows the infinite loading loop.

Just kidding! I know what it’s like to sit in bed and feel the insurmountable pressure of the future. Getting college apps finished is no small task. It took me a full afternoon to fill out all of the family data. Mom, what is your job title? When did you graduate from college? What degrees did you get? Then you have the flurry of questions asking you to self report your test scores and list the activities that you participated in year by year, as if you remember.

In my opinion, the scariest part of the CommonApp is the minute after you submit it. After that, it’s over. But then you have that split second terror coursing through your veins: Did I mistype my name? Was I off when I reported my SAT scores? Do I even go to this school!?

The good part is that, once it’s done, it’s done. No more stressing about college until later in the year when the regular admission deadline comes up. You may have even gotten lucky, getting all of your schools applied to before thanksgiving break. To you all that have submitted your applications: Congratulations! Now you can focus on even more senior plans, like senior project, the FAFSA, the CSS profile if you opt to do so, and of course, the crippling realization that, after this year, you are on your own!

Wannabe #planneraddict by Ava Byrne

 

I love planners. I spend hours on Instagram scrolling through pictures of perfectly color-coded planners with loopy calligraphy, practically drooling over my phone screen. I admit that the inside of my planner looks nothing like the ones on Instagram. My handwriting is unpredictable, I have never attempted calligraphy and don’t plan to. I envy the people who have the patience and artistic skill to decorate their planners. As much as I want to make my planner look like a Pinterest-ready masterpiece, I would only end up getting frustrated that my decorations don’t look the way I want them to. The planners on my Instagram feed are beautiful, but if I spent all that time trying to make my planner look like that, I would never get the tasks in said planner done.

My planner is my security blanket. When I’m overwhelmed with my workload, I immediately reach for my planner and start listing what I need to get done. I think it’s the consistency that I like about it. Writing down my assignments in silky gel pen gives me the sensation of control when I feel like I’m falling apart. Even if I don’t complete all of my assignments, it just makes me feel better to have a list. I’m not one of those people who has to log every second of their day in advance, although sometime I’d like to be. I write down just enough in my planner to make me feel organized. It’s what works for me and has continued to work for me all of high school.

My planner isn’t pretty and it’s not trying to be. I can appreciate the planners that dot my feed yet also appreciate my significantly less pretty planner for what it does for me. So for everyone out there with messy planners, this is for you.