The Blue Hour by Maria Krouse

Her hair was always in a chic silver bob. I never saw her without her signature red lip. My beloved neighbor’s home lay nestled beneath the shadow of an elderly giant maple, and like her lips, her door is a vibrant carnation. Her house was neat yet lived in. Her walls are an eerie sage and the floors a creaky hickory. Beside her fireplace rested her favorite of all her pieces. The painting was of a fox burrowed in a hollow as night slowly approached. I was in the home of an artist. Her painting of the dusk scene was one of many. This was her favorite time of night, which she called gloaming. It’s the hour that entrances me – always so still and hypnotizing – when everything looks a different shade of blue tinting the world. Gloaming reminds me of sadness. Yet, it shows how sadness can be beautiful. Night isn’t something to fear but to embrace.

The soft purr of roaring traffic, buzzing amber street lamps, a cricket’s lullaby, and a hauntingly eerie silence between each breath. Night is what gives me hope. I am raptured by its deceiving beauty. Despite how scary and dark it may be, its intimidating manner lures me into its comforting shadow. It is the one excuse not to be doing something. During the day, there are all these expectations to work, to learn, to eat, to converse, to try. Night doesn’t have any expectations of me. It gives me a restart button at the end of the torturous hours of daylight. I love the colors of night. How the bright pastels and piercing brights transform into faint gloomy purples under the smoky haze of sapphire. The neon glare in store fronts and soft auras surrounding tall buildings. Or the sounds, like the hum of a glowing sign or the chorus of starlings at the break of dawn. Or the taste. The taste of a ripe plum or a metallic clove. Or the smell. A peppery aroma of sage and sweat. Or the touch. The warmth of a crackling flame or the cold of whispering wind on wet clothes clinging to blistered skin. Night is something I can always depend on at the end of the day, quite literally.

I can always count on it to soothe my problems. It can remedy the aches and sores of the sun, like a dip in a bubbling creek or a salty cove. I love to close my eyes and transport myself to the rugged coast of northern California. I imagine the inky water exploding into the rocky shoreline. Nothing compares to night at sea. That’s when I truly feel alone and small. Being the only mortal on the mile stretch of sand besides the night spirits or souls from shipwrecks long ago, wandering for eternity to find their lost love. This mythical place I speak of is nestled in the midpoint between gritty San Francisco and remote Eureka. Sea Ranch is a small community of earthy elderly, hermits, and anyone who smiles at the idea of not having to see another human being for days. I don’t have much of a connection to Sea Ranch in particular, but mostly to anything that runs from Santa Cruz to Fort Bragg. Since I was little, I can remember driving along highway one. I can remember looking out the window at the deadly drop into ice cold waters and bewitching fog, all beneath the starry sky that melted into the endless horizon, of course. 

I think night frustrates us. Through the blurry figures, intelligible silhouettes, ghosts, and sounds we can’t identify. But that’s where the beauty lies. Night doesn’t care. It’s the universe trying to tell humans to shut up, slow down, and pause. And I find that to be refreshing, like the crisp frigid air under a harvest moon or the chirring wind in the willow branches at dusk. Whether it be to sleep, to drive, to love, or to explore, I think night gives humans a chance or a mere excuse to find themselves. 

Lost in Berlin By Nora Konrad

Berlin- Bahnhof Westkreuz- Richtung Nord- S-Bahn Berlin DBAG-Baureihe 481 10.8.2009.jpg

Freedom.

Trains zoomed past me. I tugged at the end of my backpack as I peered up towards a map of Berlin, where I was spending the summer with my aunt and uncle in Germany. I followed the green line to my stop, Buckower Chaussee. The S2 train rumbled forward. I quickly ran through the door and grabbed a seat by the window. With earbuds in and Clairo playing, I watched as the city transformed into trees. Suddenly, the train stopped. It was the end of the route. Passengers drained out. This wasn’t Buckoweer Chaussee! The train never reached my stop!

Lost.

I looked down at my phone. It was useless. I didn’t have a sim card– I couldn’t use Google Maps or call my family, but, conveniently, could play music. In an instant, my brain completely panicked. The earbuds were shoved into my pocket. Suddenly my feet started moving. I was running down the stairs, out to the street, and to the bus stop. Rapidly my eyes scanned down the schedule, looking for the X11 bus. Please, please, please, I prayed, fervently hoping for a solution. My heart dropped– it wasn’t there. I spun around, ran back across the street, up the stairs, and onto the platform. I started pacing. What was I gonna do? In desperation, I bought a Twix bar and began chomping my way through the fear.

Ruin.

Hopelessly I looked up at a sign of incoming trains, and saw the S2 coming! WHAT?! It was a miracle. Apparently, I had gotten onto the wrong line because this train kept going. It kept going all the way to Buckower Chausee.
Relief.

I walked out of the train station and marched myself over to the bus stop. Ten minutes later, the bus arrived. I took out my bus card, then slumped in my seat. The worst was over.
Or so I thought.
Twenty minutes later, the bus driver announced something in German that I didn’t fully understand. I saw police lights out the window. There was an accident. All the passengers filed out of the bus. Oh no.

Lost. Again.

Slowly and dreadfully, I followed the passengers out of the bus. There was an intersection. I had no idea where I was. I looked for a cafe or someplace that might have Wi-fi. I was surrounded by trees, gardens, and a couple of houses.
Hopeless.

I watched the line of people make their way down the street. I looked left, then right. Miserably, I put one foot in front of the other, whimpering down the road. Through heavy steps, my head lifted, and, amazingly, I recognized a brick building and I knew where I was.
Certain.

Earlier that morning, when my aunt dropped me off at the bus station before I went into the city for my classes, she pointed across the street to that very same building. While she instructed me on my route home, I took in the building with no idea that it would become my guidepost.
My pace quickened.

Forward.

Tigger Onesie By Carrington Hughes

As we ease into the Thanksgiving era, I feel it is essential to properly part ways with the Halloween season. To do this, I have dedicated this blog to the Tigger onesie costume I spent nearly $40 dollars on and will probably never wear again.

Dear Tigger onesie,

Where do I even start? Since the first time I laid eyes on you I knew we were meant to be. After my beloved friend suggested we do a part

ner costume, I knew immediately that your were the right choice. Sure, you and Winnie were a good match, but we were even better. You made me feel so youthful during my 10 minutes of trick or treating. You gathered such a large fan-base and being followed by a group of 3 year old’s was truly the highlight of my night. I know how much it hurt when that one demonic child called you Mickey Mouse but I promise you they didn’t mean it. I need you understand how much I enjoyed the 5 hours we spent together. As an HL economics students, I can confidently say that you were the best $40 I’ve ever spent. Will you be spending the next year in a storage closet? Yes. But that doesn’t mean I love you any less.

Sincerely,

Carrington <3

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.)