(A Mini Reflection)/Books my Kids Have to Have by Jaimee Martin

No, David! by David Shannon    Make Good the Promises: Reclaiming Reconstruction and Its Legacies:  Conwill, Kinshasha Holman, Gardullo, Paul: 9780063160644: Amazon.com: Books   Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes: James Dean (Illustrator), Eric Litwin:  9780545419666: Books   Todos hacemos caca: Gomi, Taro: 9780916291778: Amazon.com: Books   Dork Diaries 1: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life - Kindle edition by  Russell, Rachel Renée, Russell, Rachel Renée. Children Kindle eBooks @  Amazon.com.

Well, here I be with my last blog of the year. It’s bittersweet to look back on all the transitions I’ve made creatively, but the most important realization I had seems so elementary now – I should write about what I want to write about. I so, so appreciate the directions that I’ve taken, including the dead ends and bumps along the way. I began with hopes of a monthly music review, but that obviously was unsustainable because I simply had too many thoughts for each song. Next, I drifted into a levitating path that included a mashup of my personality through reminiscing (Sentimentality) and looking ahead (It’s My Birthday: the 17th One) – 17 has been great by the way. And then finally….I found a beat that I really loved and really made sense; I started sharing what I have already written for myself.

I know I’ve said this a million times by now, but my Notes app is so precious to me. It’s evidence of my innate need to write and through blogging it, I’ve uncovered the value of those words that were just for me. Recording all the different parts of myself, knowing myself, and expressing myself is all pretty cool, but it’s brought to life when I can put it out there on a platform. I feel connected in a different way when others have the chance to relate. Anyway, in contrast to reflecting and reminiscence, the last list I want to share is one for the future – these are all the books I will most definitely be buying my children.

This list includes all the lessons and entertainment I want them to have from infancy until when they will choose books on their own, but my main goal is to foster a love for literature in my kids. I want reading time to be a regular occurrence in my house, and I hope it guides my children’s imagination and values as they mature. I hope they see themselves and diversity in the characters created by authors across the world. I hope they absorb the Spanish language and culture through translated versions of all the toddler classics. Most of all, I hope they see kids being kids (monsters as they are) in characters like a wild David Shannon from his children’s memoir series No David! and an explorative Peter from Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day.

Of course, if they aren’t readers, then that’s how it was meant to be, but at least I’ll gain this nostalgic feeling for myself. Many of the books on this list are my childhood and middle school favorites, or even literature I turn to now, so to have them on my children’s shelves will be an accomplishment itself. Others of these books I’ve come to know by being an older sister to small children today. I have loved watching them light up to the characters and storylines they immerse themselves in. The rest of these books I found online by intentionally searching for children’s stories which show the messages I want to show my kids – children simply living in a culture that is different from ours, children questioning authority and systems, children being ok with failure, etc.

Maybe you will see something you like and add it to your own list – happy reading 🙂

  1. it’s my body
  2. jesus storybook bible
  3. cordouroy
  4. if you give a mouse a cookie
  5. amelia badelia
  6. pete the cat
  7. where the wild things are
  8. harry potter
  9. goodnight moon
  10. chronicles of narnia
  11. dork diaries
  12. holes
  13. bernstain bears (especially …and the spooky old tree)
  14. juny b
  15. diary of a wimpy kid
  16. the little prince
  17. brown bear brown bear
  18. cam jensen
  19. a fly went by
  20. i am not a duck
  21. chrysanthemum
  22. zen pig
  23. little lucy and her little white lies
  24. everyone poops
  25. my brother martin
  26. the very hungry caterpillar
  27. the nutcracker
  28. dream big, little one
  29. llama llama red pajama
  30. no, david!
  31. the story of my open adoption
  32. fry bread
  33. mommy momma and me
  34. the name jar
  35. i am mixed
  36. stolen words
  37. wonder
  38. song for a whale
  39. make good the promises
  40. the rainbow fish
  41. the snowy day
  42. one
  43. this is how we do it
  44. children’s encyclopedia
  45. the big book of why

The Writer Against the Speaker by Evan Barragate

Pen definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

Before each time I write, I face the conflict of deciding whether to express what I have on my mind as creatively and openly as possible or to craft a piece to please my audience. Because of this struggle, I often say that I cannot think of what to write. In reality, however, my issue is that there are many versions of what I wish to say existing in my head. Some of them are more true and easier to write, and others are contrived messages that are difficult to formulate. But there are always those endless, fiery thoughts I could easily share if I allow myself. So, I believe that I have never been stuck with what is known as “writer’s block.”

On the other hand, speaking is another story. Throughout my life, the spoken word has irritated me. I am embittered when I cannot effectively express what I mean to say due to interruptions from strutters, sneezes, lost trains of thought, and the invasive need for good timing. When I mispronounce a word or use one that does not exist, no red squiggly line without an opinion appears; judgemental people are the only ones to correct me, and they are far worse. The same goes for listening to people speak as opposed to reading what they have to say. When someone has written boring ideas that I cannot stand to pay attention to, I can simply stop reading. But when a similarly boring person is speaking, there is no way to stop hearing them. Fearing the threat of boring my audience with my words or annoying them with my voice, I have completely given up on attempting to sound intelligent when speaking.

A few months ago, my friends asked me to look at an essay I had written for an application. After reading it, they did not believe that their friend who they had never heard speak a cohesive sentence, who frequently uses phrases such as “most funnest,” had created a beautifully written, scholarly paper. Ironically, the foolish front I put up saves me from embarrassment. My theory is that if everything I say is unintelligent, I will never be caught in a humiliating failed attempt to seem bright. And I know that it is easy to assume that I paint myself as a fool because that is how I see myself or I constantly seek attention (both of which are slightly true), I mostly do so because professing my ideas aloud is useless when I have the tool of writing.

So, if you ever feel like no one is listening, it is likely because no one is. If you have a feeling that people would rather pay attention when you speak to make fun of how you look or sound when you do so, it is best to assume that this is the truth. If your words are scrambled and you cannot articulate them perfectly, just stop trying; write them down instead. You can delete what you regret saying, you can take as much time as you wish, and you can say exactly what you desire to without worrying about who will see it––because no one has to. You may find that you have developed your ideas so profoundly that the attention of an audience has become meaningless.

Nickelodeon and Homophobia by El Szalay

In recent years, it has become more normal than ever for LGBTQ+ people to see themselves represented in TV, books, and movies. While it’s a step in the right direction for equality, it doesn’t mean that homophobia is over and we’re all friends. In fact, homophobia still plagues the entertainment industry, especially when it comes to entertainment aimed for younger audiences. Case in point, Nickelodeon.

If you ask teenagers today what shows they grew up watching, they might say iCarlySpongeBob SquarePants, or The Fairly Odd Parents, all of which aired on Nickelodeon in the 2000s. In particular, one of the most well-known shows from this era of Nickelodeon (and my favorite show ever) is the critically acclaimed series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Following the adventures of Aang, the last living Air Nomad and the only one capable of bending all four elements, this series aired from 2005-2008 and still holds up to today’s standards. It was so popular that in 2012, Nickelodeon aired the follow-up series about the Avatar after Aang, The Legend of Korra.

Contrary to popular opinion, I liked The Legend of Korra a lot. It’s not as good as the original series, but there’s a lot to like about it. Before watching, I had a few parts of the series spoiled for me, including the fact that Korra and Asami end up together at the end of the last season. Normally I’d be upset about getting spoiled, but the representation-starved lesbian in me was bouncing off the walls. It’s so rare to see sapphic couples in media that aren’t over-fetishized or end in heartbreak. I binged the whole show in a week, each episode making me more and more excited about the ending. However, by the time I finished the last episode, no relationship was confirmed. I was a bit disappointed and wanted answers. I did some research, and my findings left me disappointed, but not surprised.

As it turns out, Bryan Konietzko, co-creator of both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, posted on Tumblr that “Korrasami is canon” a few days after the final episode aired. In the post-series comics, the two are clearly dating, unlike how their relationship was merely hinted at in season four of the series. This is because Nickelodeon told the show’s creators, who were pushing for Korra and Asami to be canon during the final season, that there was a limit to how far they could go. There is also some speculation that this may also explain why The Legend of Korra‘s seasons were shorter than its predecessor. Considering that several straight couples have been explicitly confirmed on screen in Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of  Korra, this clearly has to do with the fact that Korra and Asami are queer.

Like I said, this information is disappointing, but not surprising. TV shows and movies targeted towards children have historically shied away from LGBTQ+ representation out of fear of backlash from parents. If parents are angry enough at a TV channel for airing queer media, they won’t let their kids watch it anymore. Less viewers means less money, which is why the queer representation in The Legend of Korra is so subtle. Had Nickelodeon allowed Korra and Asami to confirm their relationship in the series, they would’ve been great representation of queer women in media. Girls yet to realize they are queer could look at Korra and Asami and realize that they want a relationship like theirs, and those of us who are out could see our community represented on screen. But out of fear of losing money, they made sure the final episode could be interpreted as two girls being the best of friends. It stops The Legend of Korra from being what I consider to be great sapphic representation (which may or may not be the topic of my next blog post), but the framework is definitely there. With shows like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power or The Owl House being able to include openly LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, the future of queerness in family-friendly media looks much brighter than before.

Music(?) to My Ears by Lizzy Huang

It’s that time of year where exams are over, big projects are mainly over, grades are pretty much set, and assignments and deadlines are slowly rolling off into the abyss. It feels like summer should already be here, and we definitely shouldn’t be in school. It feels like I have nothing to do, yet so much to do at the same time. It feels like I have to think about so much future stuff that I don’t want to be thinking about. It feels like I have to be proactive, pushy, and panicking for something, but I’m not…?

I was so used to being in this academic grind. This entire year felt like a jolting snap back to reality in comparison to my sophomore fever dream year. I was constantly stressed, constantly busy, constantly worrying and thinking about the next thing, and I truly never had a moment to sit down and internalize.

And to be honest, it showed. And I mean, it SHOWS.

Now, I’m confused. My brain is confused. My body, even, is confused, because I’m weirdly tired all the time.

But most of all, I don’t know how to deal with time anymore. I sincerely don’t know what I’m supposed to do, even though I objectively do know what I’m supposed to do. And at the same time that it feels like there’s so much time, I also frustratingly feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish what I want to.

Albeit, while the above hopefully sounds incredibly soul-sucking and painful as it’s surely written to sound, the single most frustrating part of this entire process that I have suffered through has been….


I am and have always been one to embrace music, one to use it to hug me, to comfort me, to be hype with me, to cry with me, to punch the wall with me (not literally, I’m not Andy), and one to really just be. Music has always been an extension of myself, and my music taste has always been so diverse that I’ve always been able to reliably lean on it whenever I need. And with this hectic year, with the constantly shifting attention and the constant state of stress and the constant emotions, I always somehow knew exactly what type of music I wanted to listen to for exactly which mood I was in at exactly the right time. I had a playlist for stressful cramming AP sessions, I had different music for different drives, I had music for chill homework days, I had music for 1:00 a.m. House of the Spirits essay-writing days, I had music for dancing and music for crying, I had everything. And I mean, it was SPOT ON. I can’t explain the accuracy, I can’t explain the details, but just know that my music game was absolutely balling this year.

Well, up until now.

For some odd, inexplainable reason, I no longer possess that same superpower I had just a couple days ago. My brain simply won’t let me decide what I want to feel, and as a result, I CAN’T EVER SEEM TO PICK THE PERFECT MUSIC TO LISTEN TO. And it’s so unbelievably frustrating that no one could even imagine.

For example, today I was sitting in the Prius and setting up Bluetooth to get ready to play a song or a piece. I clicked on my chillaxy waxy playlist – a playlist originally created to hold my hand through AP studying sessions that soon turned into just an iconic mood for driving – thinking that was what I wanted. The second the song started playing, I sucked air through my teeth and immediately started cringing, edging on the line of pure disgust. I hadn’t even started driving at that point, and I was scared. Scared that I either 1) don’t know myself at all (very possible, to be honest), or 2) I had lost interest in that genre of music! I blinked a couple of times and decided to try again. This time, I went with my chamby wamby playlist, a playlist of classical chamber pieces which I often listen to in the car.

Once again, I cringed. Only this time, it was far worse. I felt myself starting to genuinely dislike the piece I was listening to, and I was disappointed in myself. How, and why, could this happen to me?!

Imagine this: shortly after, I was sitting there at the wheel of the Prius, parked impatiently as it waited for me, basically internally crying, to frantically scroll through all my playlists desperately looking for some straw to latch onto, some saving grace that would solve this problem I didn’t know I could even have. I oscillated between my old jammies, my oldER jammies (both playlists of which are self-explanatory – roughly 70-90s and 40-60s bops respectively), my violin jammies, my piano jammies, pajamy jammies, celly welly, I even hit on melly welly at one point (but I wasn’t sad enough for that one for sure), motivation (I didn’t need any of that so that went out the window quickly), and even reggaes for days which my friend and I made as a joke (if I could insert the crying emoji here, I would – my pain was real). I went through playlists that my friends had made as memories from music camp and other events, but I felt nothing. In fact, with each click of the button, with each song that had started to play with just even a few seconds, I felt disgusted.

I sincerely (as I’ve never been so stoic or sincere about anything else in my life) regret to inform you that on this day, Sunday, May 22nd 2022, I drove – for the first time in my entire career as a child, a student, a daughter, and a person – without. Music.

Instead, I was accompanied by crickets and intrusive thoughts.



Tarot Card Reading by Carrington Hughes

This past weekend, I went on a trip to Rhode Island to go on a couple of college tours. After finishing one of my tours, my mother and I decided to walk around the city  in order to get a better feel for the campus environment. We ate, we talked, we laughed, we cried, and then, suddenly, I saw it. “Psychic readings here” plastered in big, bold hot pink letters across the front of a run down building. I screamed, causing my mother and other fellow pedestrians to flinch. I ran towards the establishment and knocked frantically as I anxiously waited to see the powerful woman who would be reading my future. We waited at the door for about 8 minutes until we finally realized that no one was coming. Naturally, I was disappointed that this so called “psychic” couldn’t foresee my arrival so I then proceeded to call the number on the window to see if I could contact her another way. She answered, irritatingly, and said that she was on vacation. I replied, nicely, and asked why her open sign was still turned on. She hung up and my mother and I continued our venture across campus. I found one store that had a lot of pretty crystals which I decided to enter because I am very easily entertained. Coincidentally, I found out that one of the workers did tarot card readings and I FINALLY got my future read. I know you’re on the edge of your seat to find out what he said but I promise you it was fairly anti-climatic. Nonetheless, I enjoyed every second of it and I look forward to seeing my tarot reading bestie in the future <3.

IB? IB. by Carrington Hughes

As my junior year comes to a close, I have begun to reflect on the trials and tribulations I went through as a first year IB student. Everyone told me that this would be my hardest year and although I’ve managed the workload relatively well up to this point, I experienced something last week that had never happened to me before.  Last week, I convinced myself that my schoolwork was optional and this led to me completing absolutely 0 assignments. My days consisted of coming home from school and going directly to sleep, completely ignoring the pileup of assignments that I had waiting for me. I had lost all empathy for my future self, who eventually had to attend a plethora of conferences in order to get her grades back in order. During that week of completing no homework, I was at peace for the first time in a long time. However, like all good things, this peace was short lived, after a sophomore asked me one faithful question: “I signed up for IB next year…am I going to regret it?”.  Suddenly, my trauma had all come back and I was thrown into reality as I had to convince this innocent child that IB wasn’t as bad as it seemed. I proceeded to talk about the great community of IB learners at shaker and how well it prepared you for college. Yet, here I am, months away from applying to colleges, and I feel all but prepared. I fear that the sophomore will remember me next year. I fear that they will get to their lowest point in IB and curse me for selling them a dream. But if I must suffer then the next generation must suffer with me. Anyway, moral of the story is to do your homework and take IB <3

My Quirks by Jaimee Martin

By now you’re pretty familiar with my compulsive attachment to my Notes app. I’ve shared a decent chunk of my personality by displaying all words I’ve consumed through my quotes list. You know I love The Fault in Our Stars, Chimamanda Adiche, and Sarah J. Maas, but did you know that I hate driving a car alone? Or that if there are crunchy leaves on the sidewalk I have to step on them?

Of course, I have a note for these pieces of me too – It’s called “my quirks”. It’s similar to my avenue of thinking for collecting others’ words because I’m sentimental. I have to hold onto all of the smallest parts of human experiences and identities, including myself. I feel like I know and appreciate myself each time I add to the list, so I want to share it here too.

Happy reading 🙂

-i make routines/playlists in my head

-i have to close all the doors and drawers in my room before i can go to sleep

-i have to be awake for a couple of hours before i can eat

-i go through obsessive-compulsive seasons where i have to sleep sideways on my bed

-i can’t listen to the finale of hamilton without listening to the whole soundtrack first

-i hate reading paperback books because the sensory aspect freaks me out and i feel like the story isn’t as good

-i love smells and i’m always noticing them, i associate smells with everything

-i love every genre of music

-i love the lyrics just as much if not more than the beat of a song because they feel like what makes the music

-i love when artists reference their old songs

-i love to lip-sync to songs i can see myself singing

-i can’t run an odd amount of miles, they have to be whole miles

-i like to call people more than texting

-the way i see myself in my dreams is different than in real life

-i hate running on treadmills, i feel like i’m going nowhere and running outside is superior

-i like wearing socks and sandals to the beach

-i can end up liking pretty much any artist or album if i listen to it enough

-i have to visualize the whole montage that goes along to a song when i listen or i have to start it over

-i like to pretend i’m the actors in a musical

-i love two songs that have same name or iykyk vibe

-i hate texting happy birthday in group chats, texting on the side is better

-i judge how well someone knows me based on how they spell my name

-i like to binge read books, sometimes i have to finish it in one day or i get anxious

-i only listen to music i know in the car, i don’t like listening to a song for the first time when i’m driving

-when people say good morning to me i say hi on instinct

-i have to listen to a whole album in order a couple of times before i can shuffle it

-when i see a worm dying on the ground i have to save it, it’s a compulsion

-i love predicting what song will be next on the queue and being right


The Benefits or Running by Will Welsh

As my senior year track season comes to a close, I feel myself getting antsy. I’m excited, excited to sit back, relax, and reflect on the psycho that ran 10 miles in one day. I am excited to finally have some free time. Some time to hang out with my friends, watch TV (because you really take that for granted), go fishing, and sleep (because when you’re running you never get enough). Perhaps the thing that I’m most excited about is simply not running. Running, especially as a sport, can be a drag. It can get boring, repetitive, and it’s always painful. I am excited to wake up one day in the not too distant future and not be in pain. My hip won’t have a slight tingle, my knee won’t ache, and my calves won’t feel like they were thrown into a trash compactor. 

But, as I reflect on all these looming positives, I think about what I will lose by not running. Although it sucks up time, can be painful, and is certainly repetitive, I will miss the important lessons that running has taught me. Through six years of running, I have learned about the power of grit, teamwork, and dedication. Even if I never slip on a running shoe after the conclusion of the season, which I consider to be an unlikely scenario, these lessons will stick with me. 

Due to running’s painful and boring nature, one needs to have a strong mind in order to achieve success. Running 5 miles over hills and through sleet will teach you that giving up and complaining achieve nothing. They only dampen your drive and cause you to get home 30 minutes later, cold and defeated. In order to overcome challenges in running, you need a constant supply of perseverance. You need to have a reserve of strength on standby. Running teaches you to grit your teeth and press on, an important skill in life. You will need to do this during exam week, job interviews, and important presentations. 

Apart from grit, running has taught me a great deal about teamwork. Although running is not perceived as a team sport. I have realized that I always run better with other people. Seeing my friends running beside me, pushing themselves to the limit, I realize that I am capable of doing the same. When I run by myself, I cut myself some slack and don’t work up to my full potential. When others are involved, I feel inclined to match their energy and always end up with a better workout. The benefit of teamwork in running and in life is that it keeps you honest and forces each individual to work up to their full potential in order to benefit the team. Learning the value of teamwork can help you utilize the skills and potential of others in school and in the work force and can assist you in offering your contributions. 

The last lesson that running has taught me goes along with grit. Through six years of attending practices and meets, I have recognized that one does not improve without attending the greatest number of practices they possibly can. I attended winter practices in the snow and drove to optional Sunday workouts in order to improve. Due to this dedication, my times dropped every year and always fell during the season. Seeing my improvement, I have learned that dedication to something will always help you improve at it. I will take this with me after the conclusion of the season.

To all those leaving running, and to those experimenting with it, it is just like life. It’s tough and can get boring. It demands the best from you day in and day out. It forces you to learn about yourself and test your limitations. Sitting on my couch this summer, I’ll remember everything that running has taught me, and knowing myself, I’ll slip on some shoes and jog outside. 

A Long and Fictional Story by Kian Baker

For my final blog of my senior year, I have decided to post one of the 10-page narratives I wrote for my creative writing class at Tri-C. I couldn’t decide between two storylines. They both begin with the same car crash, but the one I have linked follows the main character, Stephen, and his grieving process. I chose to not use this for my final because the theme is very loose. I tried to display my personal belief that you never really “move on” when the people close to you pass away, their memories are still continuations of their lives in our minds. Grief is a really sensitive subject and writing about it was extremely difficult. A majority of the emotions experienced when someone dies are indescribable. For me, I usually keep those emotions inside, attempting to detach myself from death, so I wrote a character that reflects what I know about my own experience. I would also like to mention that this was for a college class, so there is profanity (which I have blacked out) and mention of illegal drug use. I used these things to display coping mechanisms, so they should not feel out of place in the story. It is a very long read, so enjoy!

Click here for the PDF

Letter to Bed by Lizzy

Dear Bed,

Thank you so much for being there for me at every hour of the day and night. I appreciate you providing a soft, cushiony, platform for me to jump on and collapse onto after a long, tiring day. I thank you for being so enticing that while I’m doing work on my desk, I feel unexplainable compulsions to journey over to my bed and lie down, effectively distracting me from the mountains of stuff I have to accomplish.

I really appreciate that every time I lie on you to take a break, it turns into an hour nap because my eyes just automatically drift off into the abyss. I seriously thank you for giving me thick blankets that keep me warm and cozy, hugging my balled-up body, because I am a very cold person.

I also really like that you’re so accessible, just flashing your puppy eyes at me every time I walk past my room, producing an aura of attractiveness that resemble the irresistible Greek Sirens, and similarly, often ending in my demise.

And lastly, thank you for being there when I need a good cry of breakdown. Sometimes I do enjoy feeling sad with my face in the pillows while I contemplate life and stress.


With love,

Your Parasite


*not my bed, but looks equally comfy*