Clutter by Julie Larick






If I stare hard enough the clutter might mesh

into the backdrop of where it lies

untouched and unafraid to swallow up dust. 

Maybe if I don’t look it will disappear,

perhaps, like a gently-rocking boat, 

it will fade into the purples of my wall

 and wash up in the floor and no one will know

what happened to the clutter. 

A barren sock is a bright white light,

the beam that lies innocently,

that I stare at and want to pick up 

but cannot leave my chair.

It claws at my insides,

the clutter clogs up my thoughts

and my stomach.

No matter how I try, no matter how many 

white trash bags I shovel clutter into

I am left with more dust 

and more things

and more helpless longing to clean up the mess.

A Letter to My Future Self in 10 Years by Kiara Patterson










Dear me in 10 years,

I hope all is going well. If you happened to forget, it’s me, Kiara, your 17 (almost 18) year old self. I’ve been thinking about you a lot recently and I would like to know some things. First off, how are we doing? Did we get into our dream college and finish with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a PhD in psychology? What are we like? What has changed? It’s wild what 10 years can do to a person. Your almost 28 now and you’re in the prime of your life!

I hope we are still our most confident, fun, intelligent, caring and charismatic self. I also hope that mom has been less hovering over our life, aka calling every minute we aren’t with her; that can be so annoying sometimes! Dad said he was going back to school to get his PhD before I turned 25, did he really do it? I wonder if we grew any taller? I like being 5’6” and three quarters so please tell me we haven’t. By now, I’m sure with our aspirations you are living it up somewhere in New York or Chicago, hosting your own show or anchoring the news — yes I have those kinds of expectations for you, so get on with it if you haven’t already. I’m sure we have the smartest, cutest and wealthiest boyfriend around, I mean come on, who could resist us?

Future me, above all, I hope you are happy and healthy. I hope life is treating you well. I’m sure much has changed as we matured but I also hope much is still the same. I hope you stayed connected with our friends from high school and college and kept those important to us close. Always let our voice be heard and never give up. I hope you continue to pursue your dreams, create change and make a difference. The world is your oyster, so take advantage of it.


17, 11 months, 3 weeks and 28 days year old you

The Top Three Questions You Get When You Have a Tattoo by Lindsey Cicero

I have been enjoying my eighteenth year of life thoroughly. It truly feels like I have unlocked the next level in a game and as a result, got a bunch of cool new abilities. Voting, for instance, is a fun new activity I get to partake in as a legal adult. As cool as voting, buying lottery tickets, and opening a bank account are, I have been waiting for my eighteenth birthday so I could get a tattoo. What I have learned in my three months of being an eighteen year old with a tattoo is that if you have a tattoo people will ask you questions, and you will have to answer the same questions multiple times. So once and for all, I will answer the top three questions I have been asked about my tattoo.

1. “Is it real?”

Yes, it is real. Now that I am eighteen I don’t have to keep drawing on myself with a sharpie. It would be a bit strange if I felt the need to rewrite the same phrase on myself after every time I shower. It certainly is not a sticker, that would be even more strange than writing on myself with a sharpie!

2. “Did it hurt?”

Not really. Surprising I know, but I didn’t really think it was that bad. I got my tattoo on my collarbone, which I was expecting to be extra painful. However, to me, it just felt like a sharp burning sensation, nothing that was unmanageable. Maybe I overhyped the pain in my head so it wasn’t as bad as I had mentally prepared for, or maybe I just have a super high pain tolerance, who knows.

3.”What does it say?”

My tattoo is a quote from one of my favorite books; Warcross by Marie Lu. It is the same tattoo the main character of the book has, and it is the phrase every locked door has a key. Over a year after first reading this book, that one quote still stuck with me. It is a great reminder that every problem has a solution and that I can tackle anything I put my mind to. For those reasons, I wanted to keep with me forever.

!Bonus Question!

 “Your parents let you do that?”

Ha! I don’t need my parent’s permission, because I am eighteen! (but they did know, and my mom isn’t the biggest fan).

The Friendly Neighborhood Barista by Erica Smith

I walk behind the bar and start clocking in. Here we go, I think to myself, five hours of hell. 

I put on my apron and make my way over to the bar. There’s already ten cups lined up waiting for me. I start rapidly grabbing milks and pitchers and cups and surely enough I get through a line of drinks. I get a second to breathe and clean up before a mom with her four children puts her order in and again I’m off. 

While making drinks however, there’s much more to do than be a robot on the espresso machine. You have to listen to everyone’s complaints, opinions, and just general thoughts. 

That is the hardest part of the job. It’s not remembering the different drinks, it’s not cleaning everything down before close and it’s not standing in the back doing dishes for an hour.

The thing is you have to make everyone feel validated and cared for and important. And let me just say as an introvert, that is exhausting. 

For five hours I have to stand there with a smile on my face, thanking everybody, even if they just finished yelling at me because their latte wasn’t hot enough. 

On the other hand, the customers are the best part of the job. There are a few regulars who are there all the time that are so kind and appreciative of us. One older man comes in everyday and always leaves us a tip, chats with us and asks us how our day is going. He always has a genuine smile on his face. Once he gets his drink he sits down and starts reading and every time after about ten minutes, dozes off. 

All in all, while some customers treat you like the dirt on their shoes, it’s alright. I take it as a life lesson. Maybe she just found out some horrible news and she wanted this to be perfect to make her feel better. Maybe he just got fired and is so angry at the world and just needs to express that at someone. Maybe this is just their personality. I have come to realize that listening to people and caring for them is a big part of my job. 

In a way, the job has taught me more about people around me in that you never really know what’s going on in anyone else’s life. 

So I guess those five hours weren’t completely hell.

A Letter to Shaker Schools by: Bronwyn Warnock

A Letter to Shaker Schools
To whom this may apply,
Good morning! Well actually my morning yesterday wasn’t good. I woke up and looked out my window to find many inches of snow and dread filled my body as I knew getting to school was going to be a struggle. Last year I wrote an article on the importance of snow days and for reference I have attached the link at the end of this blog and plea. Nevertheless, I must continue with my story. Yesterday morning, after I piled on an uncomfortable amount of clothing, I ventured outside into what I like to call a frozen wonderland for lack of a better phrase. Outside of my comfy home was far from a wonderland though as I desperately tried to shovel my driveway clear and defrost the car. When I finally got out of my driveway, a new set of struggles was presented to me. The roads, while they may have been “clear” were in fact not. I drive along the popular and well-loved street of South Woodland. Snow and salt slush lined the sides of the street while thin sheets of ice and other dangerous non-road substances were found along the street. Not once, not twice, but thrice I was worried about my safety during my trip to school. We are currently in a winter weather warning and this situation poses significant danger to the students while they are travelling to school. I do not agree that we should have had school last Tuesday as I believe both students and staff were put in danger while driving and walking to school and discomfort in the morning working to get there. I believe a solution to this matter, at least for high school students, would have been to transport us via buses in order to protect our safety or the use of a delayed start would have been helpful. Nonetheless, a snow related delay or day should have been used.
Yours truly,
Bronwyn Warnock
This letter was made in support of many Shaker Heights High School Students.

The Problem With Women… by Asya Akkus

…Coming from a woman.

For the female portion of the population, the road toward success and autonomy is fraught with difficulty, danger, and discouragement. We are told that we should be nurses when we dream of a career as a physician-scientist, a courthouse clerk when we aspire to defend corporations, and a research assistant when we yearn to unravel the mysteries of cancer with the knowledge base of a PhD behind us. In an attempt to provide an answer to this problem, we have blamed everything from society to our male companions. Indisputably, this is a most descriptive and accurate spectrum of stumbling blocks, but very small ones in comparison with the biggest elephant in the room-ourselves. 

Let’s start with the most obvious element of this issue. We, as women, often feel overshadowed by males and pressured by the stereotypes imposed upon us by society, and refuse to make ourselves heard as a result, whether this be at school, at work, or in simple daily interactions. We say nothing in the hope that our silence guarantees a non-confrontational and tension-free existence. We refrain from contributing to scholarly discussions for fear that we might sound stupid, inappropriate, or politically incorrect. Essentially, we begin to ruin our chances before we even start by lowering our voices to a whisper, sitting in the corner, and thereby letting our male colleagues or peers take over. We do a huge disservice to ourselves and other women through such acts of silence. It can be argued that assertiveness, no matter how slight or subtle, is deemed to be a “male” trait unbefitting of a woman to display in any setting. Some females argue that it never works when trying to put a foot down in a certain circumstance. Nonetheless, I am of a firm belief that drawing lines in personal and professional relationships is an essential recipe for success. For both sexes, this includes having the ability to figuratively raise their voice when necessary.

The biggest problem, however, is something we women will probably never be able to fix-our inherent dislike and distrust of one another. In everything from personal to professional relationships, we women tend to be exclusive and passive-aggressive toward each other. We stab each other in the back due to feelings of jealousy or spite that are by and large unwarranted. We are all alone, each a solitary silhouette trying to make its way in postwar Europe sans the Marshall Plan. We seem to want to keep it this way despite the fact that such an idea reeks of impracticality when we take into account the way in which our male colleagues work. Their profoundly tight bonds of loyalty to one another in matters of the heart and the head that are nigh impossible to break and have never ceased to amaze me with their strength. We feel that we can and have to do it all on our own, to have it all with no help at all. To be frank, the books of self-promoting CEOs of mogul companies (such as Deborah Sandberg’s Lean In) perpetuate this mythology of “having it all” to no end. While such stories are by all means valid, they reinforce the Hollywood phenomenon and are hence detrimental for individuals who take one hundred percent of their contents to heart. Women need to know that there is no shame in calling for a Marshall Plan in times that lack direction and a sense of purpose. We don’t have to have it all, and we certainly don’t need to do it alone. 

In the end, it’s not the men, it’s not the society, it’s not even our personal inhibitions. It’s our attitude toward one another that drags us back in such an extreme manner. So, have we moved the needle, girls? I think not. Nice try, feminists and women’s rights champions. Better luck next time. 

PS: Don’t rely on the Women’s March to fix this.

The Paradise of a Forgotten Feeling by Lauren Sheperd


I love music. It has the power to connect people, to calm people, and to simply enhance enjoyment of the world as a whole. I listen to music all the time. At school, at home, with people, alone; pretty much any time I can, I listen to music. It’s therapeutic to me. I have quite the taste, too. Many different types of artists and songs flood through my ears on the daily. Here are my top eight songs as of right now, of course. It’s bound to change sometime soon.

Unbelievers: Vampire Weekend

This is possibly the only song that, for over a year, has not left my top ten songs list. Vampire Weekend is one of my favorite bands of all time, and I know over 50 songs of theirs, but Unbelievers sticks out for a few different reasons. First, there has never been a time where this song has not brought a smile to my face. Its upbeat rhythm just simply makes me happier. Unbelievers is also a part of Vampire Weekend’s third album, Modern Vampires of the City. When this album was written, lead singer and songwriter, Ezra Koenig was battling debilitating depression, and it shows through every aspect of the album. From the album cover to other songs in the album, like Hannah Hunt, a listener can almost feel Koenig’s depression. However, to me, Unbelievers is a reminder that there is light in the darkness and helped me through similar, difficult times.

Doin’ Time: Sublime

Before I start with why Doin’ Time is one of my top ten songs, I would like to emphasize that this is the original Sublime version, not the Lana Del Ray cover. As a band, Sublime is very special to me, which anyone can tell based on one of my favorite t-shirts. Sublime is something I share with my father, who introduced me to the band with, “if the lead singer hadn’t died, they would have been the best band of all time”. Now, this is quite the expectation to live up to, but Sublime definitely did. Doin’ Time is about a man whose girlfriend cheats on him, and he feels like the relationship is a prison. However, he counters this with lines like, “summertime, when the living’s easy” to make the listener pick up a happier vibe than the difficult subject matter intends. This song fits multiple moods, from deep troubles with relationships, to the easy going feeling of summer, and I strongly relate it back to memories of cross country camp and lifeguarding, where the living’s easy.

Another Day in Paradise: Quinn XCII

This is another song that reminds me of the simplicity of summer and whatever the listener associates with paradise. For me, I see the place my family and I go to every year in Michigan. This song makes me think of an easier time where, for a week each year, my life only involves reading with my feet buried in the sand and paddle board rides so far out I can barely see the shore. I can see the clear water of Lake Michigan and feel the light breeze in my hair. I listen to this song almost every morning to help me prepare for the stressful day of something I do not associate with paradise ahead. 

Shake It Out: Florence + The Machine

This song has deeper and more emotional roots than the previous songs on this list. This song was recommended to me by one of my best friends during a really hard time in my life. It reminded me that I needed to stay strong, and that even though I felt like I couldn’t keep going, there was always light at the end of the tunnel. I listen to Shake It Out whenever I want to give up, whether it be with running or school or any other part of my life where I’m struggling.

NASA: Ariana Grande

NASA is the song I associate most strongly with three of my best friends; three very powerful women. NASA is a power song to me. When my friends and I sing it in car rides at night or home from school, we all think about how amazing independence is, especially for women. Along with other songs by Ariana Grande like God is a Woman or songs by another power female artist, Lizzo, like Truth Hurts and Good as Hell, NASA begins my powerful women playlist.

Do You Remember: Chance the Rapper, Death Cab for Cutie

Do You Remember is special to me for many different reasons. To begin, it combines two of my favorite artists from two completely different genres into one amazing and aesthetically pleasing song. A collaboration between Chance the Rapper and Death Cab for Cutie was not something I realized I needed until it happened. Do You Remember also has deeper meaning than just a combination of two of my favorite artists; it reminds me of a summer that I’ll never forget. The nostalgic undertones and lyrics remind me of the new people I met who I now consider some of my best friends, and days where all I had to do was lifeguard and run. This song makes me sad, but in a happy way. 

Take It Easy: The Eagles

I was raised on classic rock like The Eagles, Led Zeppelin and Queen. Take It Easy is one of the songs of my childhood that reminds me of sitting in the backseat of the car while my mom drove me around. I grew up on classic rock, and it is still one of my favorite genres of music. The guitar solos always make my day, as I listen to the impressive instrumentals of the musicians, wishing I could go just one Queen concert in my life. Of course, I know I cannot. But listening to songs like Take It Easy gives me a sense of what the world was like when my parents were younger and take me to a completely different era of music that is hard to duplicate with modern music.

Horchata: Vampire Weekend

Finally, we have another song by my favorite band. Horchata is about the feeling of rediscovering love, but I don’t think the writers of this song meant it in the way I feel it. My cousins and I are incredibly close in age, where we live, and just generally as friends. We don’t all live at home anymore, so we don’t get to see each other as much as we did when we were younger. However, every Christmas, everyone comes home and we see each other many times, always doing something more fun than the last time. “Here comes a feeling you thought you’d forgotten,” sings Koenig. This is exactly how it feels when we all get together again after a long time of not seeing each other.

Accidental Anarchy by Jordan Green

Students love it, teachers hate it; that moment when a teacher’s lesson plan falls apart.

Whether it be a website not working, a video not playing, or a handout misprinted, the effect is all the same. The addition of teachers’ heavy reliance on Chromebooks has made this an even more frequent occurrence.

More experienced teachers are usually unphased, being able to quickly come up with an alternative or fix the problem, often without the students realizing anything is off. However, the less resourceful teachers can unknowingly face the consequences of a shifted power dynamic if they aren’t careful. 

Hearing your teacher saying “Oh crap, this wasn’t supposed to happen” unleashes a whirlwind of different opportunities for students. That’s because “Oh crap, this wasn’t supposed to happen” lets students know that their teacher’s plan has fallen apart and they can do anything they want while their teacher desperately tries to figure something out.

Let me take a moment here to point out that this is blog is not about any teacher in particular; almost all of them experience it at one point or another. That said, I think it’s no secret that certain teachers rank higher than others on the list of “teachers whose classroom always go according to plan.”

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s a list of the most common student responses to those few blissful minutes of a powerless room.  

The Jokesters: maybe most common in freshman/sophomore classes (or maybe not), these kids will turn the room into an open stage with a varying degree of vulgarity, depending on how discombobulated their teacher is at the moment. The key for these jokesters is they need to be enabled by the rest of the class. No laughs means no jokes. But, the more laughs they get, the louder and more inappropriate they get, forcing the teacher to then try and take control of the classroom back, possibly without even having a lesson plan to implement.

The Good Students: these kids either 1.) feel bad for the teacher or 2.) are scared of them. They’ll probably try to help them fix the problem, or at the very least, just sit there quietly on their phone. If you see a “Good Student” acting like this next time your teacher is dealing with a lesson plan mishap, it’s likely because they’re strict rule followers or because they plan on asking the teacher for a letter of recommendation in the future. 

The “Can I go to the bathroom?” kids: If a student asks to go the bathroom while your teacher is frantically trying to fix their computer, you can bet this kid is probably not coming back, most likely to wander the halls for half an hour while scrolling through their phone. That said, from my experience, “Can I go to the bathroom” kids typically spend the whole class period on their phone anyway, but in these particular instances they like to take the opportunity to do it by their own means.

So there you have it: the three most common results of a teacher’s lesson plan getting screwed up and them not being able to figure out what to do while simultaneously maintaining control of the class. As tempting as it is, I’m not going to get into how this is all magnified 10x when there’s a substitute teacher whose qualifications often seem questionable.

To conclude, I’ll admit that I’ve found myself to be all three types of those students at different points in my high school career. I’m typically a rule follower, and definitely needed to have teachers willing to write my rec letters, but I usually can’t just  pass up the opportunity to tell a good joke to a captive audience.

They Are Burning Us Out by Esti Goldstein

Ever since I started running, I have been familiar with the term “burned out.” Whether it’s talking about a girl burning out in a race because she went out too fast or a girl who burned out when she got to the high school level of training, or burning out when a girl hit puberty. That is the biggest fear of any female runner, being that girl who got fast too fast, and just can’t seem to get any faster. You pray that you don’t get injured and that you get faster at a steady rate so that you never plateau. Because the problem is once you can’t get faster, girls often get slower due to a loss in confidence, and it’s hard to keep up that motivation. And in a system where the fastest female athletes are put under so much pressure to become faster, and thinner, the environment is toxic. 

Mary Cain was “the fastest girl in America” until she was recruited by the Nike Oregon Project at sixteen, an elite running program sponsored by the popular multibillion dollar industry. Rather than nurturing her and providing her with the best training possible so that she could foster that talent, their training broke her down. The head coach, Alberto Salazar, weighed Mary in front of her teammates as they tried to keep her at the ideal weight of 114 pounds, verbally abused her in front of teammates and other runners/coaches after she didn’t perform, and disregarded her after she expressed that she was cutting herself. There were no psychologists or certified nutritionists or female coaches/trainers. In a system designed by men for men’s growth rates, the female athletes being trained in Nike Headquarters were being broken down. And not only their bodies, as Mary broke five separate bones, but their mental health as she struggled with suicidal thoughts.

I have been so lucky to have a running coach who cares about mental health and injuries, but so many runners aren’t. So many high school and college and professional female athletes aren’t so lucky and when they’re being put under so much mental and physical stress that they stop loving running, it takes such an important part of their lives away. This is a broken system and one that needs to be fixed, so that the girls on fire can stop burning out.

My Halloween Costume: An Explanation by Gabbi Fortin

I must say, Halloween this year was extremely underwhelming, at least for me. I forgot it was Halloween until my zero period weight training class’ workout was festively Halloween themed. That morning I packed a simple yellow pencil skirt, a long sleeved gray shirt and Vans, and when I finished changing, I kicked myself for not even packing eyeliner to draw a spider web on my cheek. However, I quickly came up with an explanation for my ‘costume’:

Jessica is fresh out of Ohio University, and wore this outfit to her first job interview. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the job- she didn’t wear a blazer, she didn’t have heels or stockings on, and her hair was a mess. To make matters worse, her hand shake is overly aggressive. 

In the end, Jessica not getting her dream job as HR at Stein & Sons turned out to be a blessing in a curse. After the interview, she saw a post from her ex-best friend who was living her best life traveling abroad all over South America. This post prompted a total quarter life crisis. What was she doing with her life? The only HR experience she had was solving disputes between her sisters in Delta Delta Delta, and even then she’d complain about how petty they were being to her roommates. 

Intent on finding something meaningful to do with her life, she found an organization that lets you teach students English in a third world country, all expenses paid. Whether or not Jessica applied because she actually wanted to help people is irrelevant. She applied and got in! She spent a full year in Sri Lanka, and n

ow spends her time working as PR (not HR) for Upton Hudson law. 

She now takes every opportunity to talk about the fact that she spent a year in Sri Lanka, and how bad the conditions are for the children, while drinking her venti vanilla iced latte with coconut milk from Starbucks. 

So while you may think that I did not dress up for Halloween, I actually did!