Halloween Nostalgia by Claire Borden


I love Halloween.

I love dressing up, carving pumpkins, eating candy, and feeling that shiver go up my spine. But for the past few years, this time of year has come with a twinge of sadness, as well as excitement, because I have lost that feeling of childhood wonder that used to make the holiday so much fun.

I used to start preparing weeks in advance, going to the Halloween store with my mom, and planning my costume. I have always been a homemade costume kind of person, the more elaborate the better. I remember one year I made Michael Jackson’s Thriller jacket out of duct tape. The weekend before Halloween, my neighbors and I would get together and start planning our route to hit as many houses as possible. I remember that feeling of excitement when evening would start to roll around and I would put on my costume (with extra layers), and get my pillow case ready.

My neighborhood felt like a different universe, with everyone disguised, spooky music playing, the dark lit up by Jack-o-lanterns and decorations. I loved seeing everyone’s costumes, and getting compliments on my own, and doing daring things, emboldened by my costume. Halloween magic made anything possible. My favorite part of the night, however, was going back to my house with all my neighbors, pouring out our haul on my living room floor, and trading for our favorite candy. I not only miss those traditions, but I miss being able to get so excited about something so simple. It’s not that I don’t dress up, get scared, or eat tons of candy on Halloween anymore, but it no longer feels like magic. I know that this is part of growing up, but it still makes me a little sad.

I guess I will have to find new traditions to get excited about, and of course, recreate the magic for my own kids in the future. 

Appreciate the Talkers and Why I Love Music by Jaimee Martin

My name is Jaimee, I am a talker and I love music.

I love to talk about myself and my life, about the world around me, and my analysis of it. All of this is to say I want to present a monthly music review to you but to get there, I have to start with the talking and my musical background – sorry (not sorry).

So it all starts when I got an MP3 for Christmas from my oldest, adultest sister, Jenna. It was incredibly special to me because I was 6-years-old and this wasn’t just any music player, it was the hottest technology in the game – Apple. Before that moment the only exposure I had to music was listening to my mom’s vintage rock n’ roll on the TV music channels and in the car ride I made twice each weekend to stay with Jenna in Columbia, Missouri; My mom didn’t own a car, so Top 40 radio stations for 90 minutes a week was invaluable.


Obviously, after Christmas day was over, and my extended family was gone, I had no idea how to work my prized iPod Nano 5 – I mean I was simultaneously slightly no longer a toddler and independent to a fault. I frequently resorted to simply pressing buttons until the magic happened which got me two songs; These two songs became my world of music. I would listen to Bruno Mars’ Grenade and Eminem’s Love the Way You Lie ft. Rihanna on repeat every day, without end – I would never get sick of it. Of course, as a 1st grader I wasn’t walking around school with my headphones in and my hood up all day, so the biggest time when I got to use my iPod was right when I got home.

I would calmly step off the bus and walk towards my apartment until I knew the kids still on it were out of sight, before excitedly sprinting the rest of the way, already fixated on the afternoon of rollerskating and music that awaited me. Despite the “always running out of time” attitude I had, I would often spend hours just skating around the building sidewalks and gliding through the parking lot. The words and probably inappropriate themes of both songs felt so personal and uniquely mine as if those moments alone each day listening to them was truly a time where I got to be with myself (and occasionally imaginary friends who were always much older and cooler than me). I had this sense of peace and connectedness to my emotions, that despite being unable to understand then, I see now as my innate passion for music.

Art and music was like a seed I was born with that innately knew to grow inside me. It truly does feel like my life and identity, my intelligence and feelings. Today to listen to all genres of music and hundreds of artists – everything from pop to new york drill, R&B to classical, alternative to Broadway musicals. I can say with one hundred percent certainty that musicality is my biggest passion and I genuinely get lost and stressed without it.

I’m gonna be deep and vulnerable because if you haven’t caught on yet, I feel things very big and intensely. So here’s the real truth:

Music’s not only this piece of my soul, it’s my coping mechanism through life in general and all of the mental health disorders that come with it. I can’t count the number of times a song or an artist has brought me back from an edge, or simply allowed me to feel that edge, feel my sadness. The way of instruments and poetry alone, not even considering them together is song, is so powerful that I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s almost become a core belief that words and sound hold the meaning of life for me. In a way, I feel as though I can’t ever really express what any of the former do for me, especially in this introduction.

Nonetheless, I hope you see my point. I hope I’m giving you a glimpse into my perspective and you can know me through music. That’s kind of the whole goal – I plan to bring a slice of my musical intake to you by reviewing my favorite songs each month. And don’t be mistaken, it’s just as much for the readers as it is for me the writer; I want you to get a feel for the songs, but I also just want to put myself on the page. I’ll connect with you in words on all of the music, maybe classics, new releases, obscure, mainstream, old, or anything in between.

P.S. the posts will be much shorter (hopefully, maybe if I can cut down the talking possibly)

Triplet Experiences by Sonali Khatri

Growing up as a triplet, you have some pretty unique experiences.


Here’s a list of a few:

1. Learning how to drive
This experience nearly traumatized me. Our dad would take us out at eight in the morning and we’d get back by noon. All three of us. In the car. For three to four hours. Weekly. 

It was really bad in the beginning when we were just starting out. One of us would be driving and the other two would be sitting in the back, completely putting our lives into our other sister’s hands. There was nothing scarier than when our dad would ask for the sister behind the wheel to check the blindspot and the car would start veering into the next lane unintentionally. Or when one of us would make a sudden turn that made the wheels screech and our faces press against the side of the window. I could go on … there were some pretty close calls. 

Thankfully we can all drive now, but those 150 hours of fear and boredom were rough.

2. Telepathy

I know this is a cliché but sometimes we literally finish each other’s sentences. Occasionally we’ll even answer a question in unison which is freaky.

3. Trying to be your own person and … failing successfully

Something we always wanted was to be known as individual people and not a unit. We all tried to establish our unique identities: different styles, different interests, different opinions, etc. but in the end, we still end up liking the same things which can sometimes lead to issues. For example:

4. The shopping dilemma

Without fail every time we go shopping one of us will end up picking up something and a second later one of us will say something along the lines of “wait, I wanted that!” Then you have to go through the painful clothing negotiation (will we end up sharing, will we have to get two, or will we both leave empty-handed). Most of the time we end up sharing but not too long ago these negotiations would end in tears.

5. Birthdays

It’s not your day, it’s OUR day. Everything has to be a unanimous decision when it comes to our birthdays. From the cake, to where we go to dinner, etc.

6. The test pass back

We’ve gone through all the same classes together and we know that it’s inevitable that one of us will have the highest score and one of us will have the lowest. It used to get to us, but now we just make the person with the highest score helps with corrections.

7. Feeling like a part of yourself is missing

I remember when my sister went on the band trip for 10 days we felt so lost. It was especially bad because she was the one that usually broke up the fights between us. So college should be interesting … 

A Grimm’s-Style Fairy Tale by Kian Baker

Inspired by a true story, Jemma’s Voice is a Grimm’s-style fairy tale, written for a creative writing assignment in my Dual-Credit course Grimm’s Fairy Tales and their Afterlives at Ohio State University. The assignment was to gather a true story from a family member or friend, then morph it into a Fairy Tale. Be warned that the story is a little violent, as the true story follows a little girl who was randomly attacked on a playground with a spork, and brutally stabbed in the neck. She had to be escorted away by teachers from the playground and have constant pressure applied to her neck because of the blood, eventually needed stitches, and losing her voice for a week. The violence of the story is somewhat exaggerated since Grimm’s Brothers would use violence to emphasize the lesson of their tales, leaving some stories with happy endings and others open-ended. Now, I will finally present you with my Fairy Tale, Jemma’s Voice:

Once upon a time, in a small mountain village, there was a little cottage in the woods, and inside, lived a little girl named Jemma. She was kind and compassionate, and at 5 years old, had a voice so powerful that the trees would shake, the water would ripple, and the birds would harmonize. When she sang even the softest of lullabies it could be heard by the whole town, swirling in the air like the scent of cinnamon in the fall, meeting every townsperson with the sweet surprise of joy, and lifting their spirits. However, with such a powerful gift, came other abilities as well. If she sang any demand, the person who hears the sweet tickle of her voice must complete it, no matter if they shall die trying.
One beautiful and sunny day after school, Jemma and her friend Sara walked along the wooded path to their homes and noticed something new. “A tire swing!” Exclaimed Sara, “Push me! Push me!” And Jemma did as she wished. As the girls were giggling and pushing one another, Jemma grew tired and wanted to go home to rest. However, before Jemma could ask to leave, Sara asked for another favor, “Will you please sing me a little lullaby?” Being as kind as she was, Jemma smiled with her teeth and began to sing, but her song wasn’t a lullaby, instead, she sang to Sara about walking home, and wanting to rest. As her sweet voice tickled Sara’s ears, she was soon interrupted by a wretched old woman.
“Little girl, little girl. How dare you enter my garden and swing, mimicking the ways the gods sing.” The woman’s twisted face and missing teeth sent chills up Jemma’s spine. “I am sorry for entering your garden, it was very beautiful, but my voice is nothing but ordinary,” responded Jemma with a kind smile. This made the woman grow mad and shake, clutching her cracked leather belt and sheathe.
“Your lies don’t tickle my ears like demands, so I shall take your voice with my bare hands,” as these words left the old woman’s lips she wrapped her boney claws around Jemma’s neck, digging her nails into her skin, and with one swipe of her blade, stole her voice forever.
As Jemma laid on the ground of the garden, bleeding from her neck and spilling tears from her broken heart, she looked for Sara. But Sara was poisoned by her demands and had left a long while ago, and Jemma had no hope of being saved. In her last few breaths, Jemma came to wonder if the old woman was cursed, or if she was the curse herself.

Cats Eating Soup!!!! by Ella Szalay

I’m in my third year of school here at Shaker Heights High School, and I’ll tell you now: Having a parent who teaches in your very own school makes your experience different from any other high schooler. My dad is pretty well-known around here. Plus, I have a rather obscure last name, meaning a formative part of my first week of the school year is being asked if my dad teaches here. There’s also the fact that my friends who take German or IB have him as a teacher, so it’s slightly awkward when I have friends in those programs over because they are not only showing up to my house, but to their teacher’s as well. Despite this, one of the best parts of having a teacher as a parent is that my dad knows my school email and occasionally sends things to it. Most of the time, he sends pictures for me to put in a project that were blocked on my school computer. However, there was one very memorable email from him at the beginning of my freshman year.

For context, we have two cats: Coco and Mickey. We adopted them as kittens in May of 2019, but this story took place about four months later in September. Mickey lived on the streets for a few months before we eventually adopted him, which is probably why he jumps at any opportunity to eat human food.

My freshman year English teacher gave us a research essay assignment pretty early on in the year, and I had fallen a bit behind in her class. My outline was not done when it was due, so I worked on it the following weekend to catch up. After we all ate lunch that day, my parents and younger siblings went to my little sister’s soccer game, meaning I was home alone. My phone was downstairs to keep me from getting too distracted from my outline, and my parents were fully aware I was doing this.

So I’m working along, making progress on my writing, but I took a break after a few hours to go downstairs to get a snack. While I was downstairs, I decided to check my phone. I noticed that my dad had texted me about thirty minutes ago, and there was also a notification from Gmail sent a few minutes later. I checked Gmail first since I thought it could be my English teacher asking about my outline. Instead, I was greeted by an email from my dad with the subject “Cats Eating Soup!!!!” It was short and to the point; all it said was that I needed to go take the soup bowl away from Mickey and email him back once I did that. I went to the kitchen, found the nearly empty soup bowl, but no cats in sight. So, I left the bowl on the table, not realizing that Mickey would come back a few minutes after I went back to my work and eat the rest of the tomato soup.

My family came back from the game an hour or so later, and I asked my dad about the “Cats Eating Soup” email. According to him, he had checked the security camera on his phone while I was upstairs working, and Mickey was downstairs eating a partially full bowl of tomato soup that my sister left out on the table after lunch. Since I was the only person home, he sent me a text telling me to go take away the soup, but then he remembered that I was nowhere near my phone and sent the email in hopes that I would see it on my computer. Like I said, I didn’t see the email until later and left the soup bowl where it was, and as it turns out, Mickey had gone back to the kitchen and eaten the rest of the soup. My family learned two things that day: Don’t leave your phone downstairs while you’re home alone, and always put the soup bowls in the dishwasher once you’re done eating.

21 Goals For 2021 by Lizzy Huang

What. A. Year.

A year of unrelenting turbulence overflowing with grief, fear, and uncertainty. A historic year: where time ran so quickly against us, and where veterans of perhaps one of the hardest wars in history had to endure their worst nightmares.

At the beginning of this year, I wrote down 21 goals for 2021. I had a vision of the way I wanted to conduct myself this year, despite the chaos of a year 2020 was.

To say it went well is quite possibly the biggest bluff that could ever come out of my mouth.

So, I have hereby devised a new, more realistic, list: a list that will carry me to the end of this horrid year, and a list that I will try (decently) hard to stay true to. Now that I’ve put it in writing, I’ve got the means to keep me in check (hypothetically).

Notes To Self:

  1. Read more.
  2. Drink more water, please.
  3. Sleep before 12.
  4. Don’t get mad when people don’t wear their masks correctly.
  5. Charge the Chromebook BEFORE school.
  6. Constantly think about how to take the bare minimum to school so that you do not suffer from chronic back and shoulder pain.
  7. Drink water, again.
  8. Put one pencil in the pencil case and then STORE THE OTHERS ELSEWHERE SAFELY so that it would be theoretically impossible to lose all pencils within a week.
  9. Forget about the PSAT because that’s over now.
  10. Don’t forget to cross out tasks when they’re completed because the instant gratification really goes a long way. Also, there aren’t many chances to cross things off due to the unfortunate fact that completing the tasks is required first, so take advantage of them.
  11. Don’t wear the same mask every day because that gets boring. Instead, rotate between the three vibrant colors you own: black, grey, and white.
  12. Whenever the going gets tough, remember that the Great British Baking Show exists.
  13. Make as many Spotify playlists as possible before your Premium 3-month free trial ends.
  14. Don’t forget that you have a bedside fan now, so the one-leg-out-of-the-blanket shenanigan can be effectively avoided.
  15. Junior year is hard.
  16. Life is hard.
  17. But that’s okay, because Billy Joel exists!
  18. Ask for help when you need it, because that’s a lot of the time.
  19. Fuzzy socks are really important.
  20. Help the community by whatever means possible, whether that be music, volunteering, etc.
  21. Enjoy yourself. High school only happens once.




October by Mia Compton-Engle

October is a breath of crisp air, a whisper of a meandering breeze, 

vibrant autumnal foliage drifting idly from an infinite sky 

tenderly caressed by clouds, a picturesque ideal. 

October is sun speckled harvests,

driving aimlessly down country roads

stretching endlessly to embrace the dust swept horizon, Ohio, Ohio.

October is racing–no, flying, forward, forward,

cross the finish and my open soul sings.

Today, just today, I am invincible. 

October is a cold night warmed by the golden glow of laughter, company,

friends who share stories and sleep; we are all but a sigh away from 

dreams that transcend (escape?) reality. I welcome any and all oblivion. 

October is an unexpected connection,

the promise of new possibilities. Oh please, may the stars of my future align soon, 

for there is slow death in uncertainty.

October is a glaring spotlight so intoxicating I can almost forget my woozy head,

the smiles that don’t quite reach the eyes.

Fake it ‘til you make it, we affirm every day, I am smart, strong, mentally stable but

October is unyielding expectation, unyielding pressure – 

how can this be a mere illusion when I am slipping, slipping

out of control, losing myself; no, really, who am I? I can’t think anymore because

October is watching them walk away, intertwined shadows just beyond my reach,

left behind wondering why things fell apart,

nothing else to do but salvage the bones and begin again. So while


October I am surrounded yet alone,

October I accept it’s okay to not be okay,

October I release myself to the arms of those I love.


October: tomorrow’s whirlwind memory.

(October: swallowed by my mind.)

My Fall Playlist by Anna Welsh

Pinegrove tickets in Cleveland at Agora Theatre on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 - 8:00PM

On the first of every month, I am faced with a daunting task: creating a playlist for the four weeks ahead. I´ve had this routine since freshman year; picking songs that I will listen to until the following month. Music is a constant in my life. I listen to it in the mornings, while my entire family is crammed into one bathroom to get ready for the day. I listen to it while I write, allowing the music to wash over me. I listen to it before bed, calming myself as my day comes to a close. On the first of October, I produced my playlist for the month ahead.


Georgia by Phoebe Bridgers

I was introduced to Phoebe Bridgers in the spring of my freshman year. Since then, she has become one of my absolute favorite artists. My favorite Phoebe songs vary each month. Last month, it was Chinese Satellite, a song I am quite accustomed to screaming in the shower. However, after I attended Phoebe Bridgers´ concert in The Flats on September 29, my favorite song quickly became Georgia. Georgia, as performed by Phoebe at the request of screaming teenagers, is a soft ballad about love unrequited. Phoebe wrote it when she was 16. There is quite a bit of teenage melodrama within the song but it isn’t overdone. It ends, like all the best songs, with Phoebe belting her heart out. 

That Funny Feeling by Bo Burnham (Phoebe Bridgers cover)

Uh oh. Another Phoebe song. But it’s different, I promise. That Funny Feeling was the encore at her concert, and immediately I fell in love with her cover of it. The song itself was originally in Bo Burnham’s comedy special, Inside. It is a reflection on the irony of our contemporary world. I think the lyrics are genius, ¨a gift shop at the gun range, a mass shooting at the mall.¨ I listened to it, embarrassingly, quite a bit when Inside was first released. And now Phoebe has a cover of it! It’s the best of both worlds.

Paprika by Japanese Breakfast

Paprika by Japanese Breakfast feels like just some sort of happiness in my ears. I don’t even know how to explain it. I first listened to Paprika over the summer, in a rush to listen to all of the new summer albums and figure out my new favorite songs. It’s loud, melodic, and bright. Michelle Zauner´s (Japanese Breakfast) voice weaves between the cheerful rhythm. This song just makes me so joyous. I don’t really understand the lyrics, but they feel to me like some sort of dream. 

New Friends by Pinegrove

Pinegrove is an alternative country/rock band based out of New Jersey. Now, if you know me, you know I am a staunch hater of country music. I can tolerate Garth Brooks or Willie Nelson, but anything else and I will probably have to leave the room. I’m mostly kidding. Maybe. However, Pinegrove is the greatest exception to my rule. I love Pinegrove. Their music reminds me of summer, of friends, of relaxation and cheer. That may not really make sense because their music is to a certain extent, slightly depressing, but New Friends reminds me of starting school and leaving my summer behind. It’s not sad- it´s exciting. New friends, yay!

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel 

This song, and the entire album,  is a masterpiece. Neutral Milk Hotel is one of my favorite bands ever. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is their 1999 sophomore album. I can´t even count how many times I´ve listened to it in its entirety. I know very few Neutral Milk Hotel enjoyers. Most of my friends just tell me to shut it off every time it´s on in the car. But I stand by my opinions. Neutral Milk Hotel is just good.

The Chick-fil-A Heathen By Carrington Hughes

It was a casual Friday evening and my mother had just called to let me know she was on her way home from a demanding day at work. These calls tend to last fairly long due to the incredibly detailed narrative she shares with me about how her day went, nonetheless, I always look forward to them. As the conversation comes to close, I begin to prepare myself for the question she was about to ask.

“What do you want for dinner?”

Although she asks me this question everyday, I never seem to have an actual answer. This question is usually followed by 30 minutes of back and forth discussion as we thoroughly talk through every single possibility. Today however, I had known exactly what I wanted. As we gleefully  reserved our spot in the drive-thru of the well known Chick-fil-a, our excitement was quickly terminated. Another car had just cut in front of us, forcing us to have to wait an extra FIVE MINUTES  for our food. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but to two hungry and incredibly impatient women, this was the biggest atrocity. As we helplessly sat in our car, we began to say things that I cannot ethically repeat in this school blog.

Fast forwarding a good 48 hours to when we finally reached the window of the chick-fil-a drive-thru, my mother pulls out her wallet to pay for our meal. Suddenly, the man at window informs us that our meal had been paid for by the elderly woman who had accidentally cut in front of us. My mother and I were appalled by this revelation; how could we have been so cruel? We spent half of our car ride home in silence, paralyzed by the shock of it all.

Moral of the story, you’re not you when you’re hungry. <3

Are You Bad at It or Do You Just Not Like It? by Evan Barragate


My school career, which has lasted for about a decade, has had both ups and downs in relation to my success, interest, and enjoyment. Like most students, however, one aspect throughout my years in school has remained: I am passionate and skilled in English and history but unable to comprehend the world of math and science. 

For this reason, I would be described far differently by teachers and students depending on the class they see me learning in. For example, I am both knowledgeable of and intrigued by reading and writing. That is made clear by my internship with the Shaker Writing Center, in which I use this passion to mentor other writers. But on the other hand, I am the one being mentored by a tutor in math, which I have been doing since second grade. Many days in the cafeteria during the social lunch hour, you can find me at my filled table with a math packet and a confused look. When I ask my friends for assistance, I usually receive replies such as “we learned this like three years ago” or “how can you not figure that out?”

I also view most of what I learn in science as a foreign language; as an AP Spanish student, it is not one I can easily acquire. I struggle to put what I learn in this area into perspective. What does this combination of letters have to do with table salt or toothpaste? Is everything around me truly atoms and molecules? Why does everything have a charge, and what does this even mean? Unlike with science, in math, I can at least understand how I can use some of the concepts in the real world.

This math-inspired confusion I am prone to also causes awkward real-life experiences that leave me scorning the lack of balance between my understanding of numbers and words. The event I am referring to took place at work, where my typical task was to perfect meals at the request of the customers I spoke to. However, I occasionally managed the register, which I usually could do without stress. I say usually because customers usually would pay by card. But when customers came in paying with cash, I would often strangely ask for a co-worker to take over and pretend as if I had another task I had to attend to. While outside of school, I wanted no part of adding and subtracting decimals or converting metal coins to numbers in my mind.

As someone who finds humor in poking fun at myself, I went and told my friends this story after but used the explanation that I simply “don’t know how to count.” But my proclaimed inability to do any math whatsoever was contested by my success in the class, particularly this year. My math tutor explained to me recently that she believes I am skilled in the field. Having also worked with me in middle school, she expressed her belief that I developed struggling with math because I lacked the confidence that I could be successful with it. She further explained that I can do it so easily when working with her because I have gained pride in my abilities as a student. This proved true when I earned a high score on a math test soon after, which was congratulated by my teacher.

This inspired me to reflect on my experience at work. If I am finding success in math at school, am I truly so horrible in the subject that I cannot count change? I realized that I did not attempt to deal with the cash-paying customer and fail, but I abandoned the scene to avoid the possible difficulty. So perhaps my tutor was right, and I am not just unable to comprehend math but prone to feeling under-confident in my abilities in the subject.

So, what does this mean? Will I attempt to make my way into the most advanced math class at the high school? Will I strive to achieve a STEM degree? Will I work my way into NASA? Will I even claim to my friends that I am not as bad at math as they believe? The answer to all of these is no. My realization that I can be a successful math student does not that I should rise above others, but that I no longer need to swoop below them. I may have more skill in this area than I had previously believed, but I have no more interest than I ever did. Thus, I have no desire to proclaim to my friends any mathematical talent with my newfound mediocracy in contrast to the perceived atrocity I possessed before. Since I enjoy poking fun at myself more than I enjoy math, I intend to continue boasting my lack of ability. Despite only being skillful in certain areas such as English and history, these are also the subjects I am passionate about. Why waste my energy attempting to be good at what I hate?

After reading the story of my resentment for a topic and failure to perform well in it, followed by my realization that I can achieve success in it, and finalized with my pledge to retain my rejection of that topic nonetheless, one question remains: Why does any of this matter? Well, the moral of this story is that you will not find happiness by being good at everything. As I have explained, I am content with being average in math and science because I dislike them and am both talented and interested in English, Spanish, art, and history. But this applies to more than school. I am also a poor driver, but I accept this because I would always rather get a ride. I also I prefer running anyway, which I am good at.

So, embrace your flaws. Exaggerate what you lack skills in. Have fun making fun of yourself. But remember not to let this undermine your confidence because you are likely not as bad as you claim.