Be Individualistic

Untitled "Snow Falling on Cedars" Essay: Written by Ayumi Esponda
Snow, which is normally associated with purity and death, is a contradictory symbol. Similarly, cedar trees, known for being tall and strong, are not quite presented as such in David Guterson’s novel Snow Falling on Cedars. Guterson uses these symbols on a much deeper and more complex level than their preconceived ideas. Here, the symbols’ traditional meanings will be dissected and reconnected under the grey light of Snow Falling on Cedars. Looking at a cedar tree, it is obvious that strength and reliance is represented. Indeed, a hollowed out cedar tree served as the sanctuary for Hatsue and Ishmael’s love affair as children. The tree kept them safe from the outside world and those who would frown upon their relationship. In a literal respect, cedar trees are quite helpful, with medicinal properties that include anti-microbial and -fungal protection. And can Hatsue’s concerns not be presented as such? She feared being in a relationship with Ishmael was wrong, and itchy, microbe-like infestation in her conscience. But when they hid away in the cedar, it was, however briefly, relieved. Western Red Cedars, native to the region where the book takes place, are considered to be the “tree of life”. This may be rightfully so in Snow Falling on Cedars for that tree allowed young Ishmael and Hatsue’s love to exist. Would they have been without a place to hide, their relationship would’ve died with their browning up. Likewise, the cedar is a conifer, commonly known as an evergreen. This has long been seen as a sign of immortality throughout history. So much like Hatsue and Ishmael’s relationship, it never truly deceased after Hatsue was sent away, as it lived all along inside of Ishmael. He kept their past, in a sense, “immortal” with his persistence to keep their flame alive. The cedar tree, used by Guterson as an intense symbol of protection and longevity, may be seen, interestingly, as the yang to the yin that is the second symbol in the title: snow. To begin looking closely at snow, we travel to ancient Greece. In Greek mythology, the goddess of snow is Chione. She was born to a father Boreas, god of the North Wind, and a mother Oreithyia, a human princess. Chione was extremely beautiful but oftentimes selfish. She was a lover of Poseidon, god of the ocean, and had a child with him. Afraid of her father’s wrath, she took the newborn baby and, in an attempt to discard him, threw him into the sea. Poseidon was not about to lose one of his children so he caught the baby and saved his life. This character seems eerily familiar to one Hatsue Imada. An impossibly beautiful girl who feared what her family would do if they found out her relationship with one of a different kind (in terms of the ancient elements, she came from air and had a love affair with one of water). Indeed, Chione takes dangerous and inconsiderate measures in an effort to make the itch go away, hurting those within a close radius. Hatsue, too, breaks off her relationship by sharp means. She sends a letter to Ishmael insisting they can no longer be together without explaining why. As represented by Hatsue, snow is harsh. It covers the cedar trees so as to hide the love within them. It is deceitful, disguised as purity itself and acting as if it accidentally fell from the heavens to bless the earth. Make no mistake, it is cold beyond survival. So, if Ishmael is the cedar that kept the love alive, does that make Hatsue the snow that killed it? The symbol of death that is snow is not so much present on the literal death of Carl Heine but in the slow downfall of Ishmael and Hatsue’s childhood love affair. In her teenage years, perhaps instead of Strawberry Princess, Hatsue Imada should have been crowned Goddess of Snow. Simply put, the yin and yang describes how opposing forces work together to create harmony. The individual parts are contradictory, but as one, they are consistent. They co-exist. One piece cannot be without the other. Looking at the individual pieces in Snow Falling on Cedars, do they exists harmoniously? Perhaps not. And this is the paradox. Cedars and snow, as presented in the novel, among other things, represent life and death, respectively. It is known that life and death work in an infinite cyclical pattern. However in the book, in relation to Hatsue and Ishmael’s relationship, they do not. Rather than beginning again, turning a new leaf, life and death cancel each other out. By the end of the novel, it seems that Hatsue and Ishmael are done for good, there is no new beginning. Also contradictory is the cedar itself. There is no question that the cedar tree provided a sanctuary for Hatsue and Ishmael’s love. But perhaps it protected them in the same way a cell protects a prisoner. Indeed, instead of being free and rebellious as children and teenagers, Ishmael and Hatsue were being held captive by this cedar tree. Ishmael, for the longest time, is held by the unrealistic expectations of being with Hatsue. He is trapped with the unrelenting mentality that they “must” be together. Meanwhile, Hatsue is stuck with the understanding that they “can’t” be together. She is held captive by Ishmael’s obvious love for her. She prolongs her breaking away to spare his feelings, and in doing so, traps herself in the relationship. And so, the paradox lies with the paradox. The harmony that comes from united opposites does not necessarily exist from the individual symbols of snow and cedars, but rather, from the traditional meanings of the symbols and their contradictions. The preconceived and the proven. And that is the cycle that exists in the story, as told by the cedars and the snow. That is the yin and yang. Nature has consistently provided man with the answers to his questions. Man eventually changed when he felt he had sufficient answers to ponder the ones he already had. David Gutterson plays this idea very well in Snow Falling on Cedars by taking simply two symbols and delving deeper into them than ever before, connecting them to very core of the main characters and stretching them beyond the bulk of the story to life as we know it.

On the Unfair Romance Between A and B: Written by Ayumi Esponda
The story is simple. We've all heard it before. A and B are good friends, close friends. A is wildly out of his league, B is in love with is everyone else. It's a classic until there. There are layers and crevices to A and B. Though A can easily have it all, she needs B. And B will never be able to get over A, as one does when it comes to A. And so anytime he comes close to letting go, she tightens the leash, knowing that B won't have to courage to tell her otherwise. A tells B that she loves him, but they mustn't be together. And so they live in a vicious cycle of hope, heartbreak, and manipulation. And who am I? I am C, not directly involved, but close enough to feel the pain. The same C that fell for B knowing fully that he would never look her the way he does A.

Why I Perform: Written by Chloe Laverson
“All the best performers bring to their role something more, something different then what the author put on paper. That's what makes theatre live. That's why it persists.”(Sondheim) Before the Overture is finished I feel a chill go down my spine-it’s happening-”Another Opening of Another Show.” A magic that makes me feel like I was born to perform. I was adopted at six months old and since my parents had to wait twelve years after their marriage to have a child they loved watching Annie with me. We would sing the song “We Got Annie” together when Daddy Warbucks finally tells Annie that he’s adopting her. To this day my father says jokingly, “It’s your fault she’s doing what she loves and won’t have any money when she’s older.” The first show I did consequently when I was eight years old was Annie with California Youth Conservatory, eight years later I’m back with the same company doing CATS the musical. The same director has seen a young child who had no idea what she was getting herself into and a woman who came back with talent and her sights set on musical theatre as a career.
Anything you want to be good at takes practice, hard work, and passion. For performing it’s better to start at a young age that way you have more experience and you’re malleable or like my old director says, “someone with a student’s heart.” After falling in love with it at eight years old I begged my parents to let me perform in anything: school shows, shows outside of school, and finally when I made it to middle school I joined the beginning Drama class. Mrs. Peterson made me fall in love with theatre all over again, and I knew at that point I was meant to be on stage, and there was really no other option for me. The spring play in the seventh grade was Midsummer Night’s Dream and I had my sights set on Helena. The audition looked good and callbacks were even better, but when the cast list came out my future best friend won the part over me, I was her understudy. This was my first taste of rejection, which will not be a stranger to be and something that will follow me my entire life. The next year the spring musical was, Into the Woods and I knew it was my chance, in the end I got the lead and performed onstage with all my best friends. The cast was a family and we were all so excited for high school and the next chapter of our life. We all wanted to go to Canyon Crest Academy, of course this was expected from a group of young performers, but I was the only one that didn’t get in the lottery. I felt defeated and like every obstacle had been put in front of me.
I was always pushed to continue by my love for it, and giving up wasn’t an option, because it had become my life. The way a song can portray a story or an emotion and cause the audience to feel something is so beautiful, and my goal when I get on stage is always to make the audience feel something. Whether it be the joy when something exciting happens or sadness when a character dies or is in an unrequited love. A major aspect in musical theatre is called “types” every girl and boy is a different type. There is the ingénue, who plays the pretty (normally blonde) girl with a high voice and most of time little substance in her personality. Then there is the character actress, the girl looks different (by this I mean not blonde) and beautiful, but has more of a personality and often drives the plot. It is similar with men, there is a man who plays the leading man: who is strong, handsome, and brave. The other type is funny, benevolent, or the villain often times this character brings comic relief and is the antagonist is the plot. People have been trying to push these boundaries in musical theatre for years, but they have remained relatively the same. Trying to push these boundaries is almost like Cinderella coming back from the ball on time, it seems impossible, but it can be done. When I was younger I thought that I could be any part that I wanted, no matter the gender or race. It was a rude awakening when I found out I couldn’t be Jean Val Jean in Les Miserables and that I would always play the blonde girl with the soprano voice. That was my downfall, and my failure at trying to be someone I'm not. Fortunately for me I realized this and everything started to look up, I had finally gotten a lead and I was ready for whatever the theatre g-ds wanted to throw at me next.
I was the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, it was my first lead, a huge moment. It was also the moment I realized this was it, sorry mom, but I’m going to be an actress, and nothing is stopping me. This was my solo song, it was called, “Moments in The Woods,” I got on stage and I felt the blue light shine on me and it was just little eighth grade me on stage in front of two hundred people, and I was so scared. Scared but I got through. it, and five shows later we were all taking our bows and I was surrounded by my beautiful friends These bows were the last before we all move on and become “cool” freshmen, all of them heading to CCA, me alone. As I gave Mrs. Peterson the flowers and the card from all of us I started to cry, in front of all those people because it was the beginning to the rest of my life, is that cheesy? Probably.
Passion is the key ingredient to making anything worthwhile, the arts are so important in this day in age. Performing and visual arts around the world are getting cut every day. Schools no longer think the arts are important, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a young girl sitting in a red velvet plush chair watching a musical for the first time in her life, a little girl whose life was changed because she saw a life performance of theatre. I’m that little girl, Julie Andrews was that little girl once, and there are many more little girls to come. Neil Patrick Harris during the 66th annual Tony Awards said or sung more appropriately, “There’s a kid in the middle of nowhere who’s sitting there living for Tony performances. Singing and flipping along with the Pippins, and Wickeds, and Kinkys, Matildas, and Mormons. So we might reassure that kid, and do something to spur that kid, ‘cause I promise you, all of us up here tonight, we were that kid.” That moment really got to me, all these successful people sitting at Radio City Music Hall where I wanted to be, it was almost like my goal was closer but also farther away from my reach, but it made realize that I wasn’t alone, and that I could do it. You sit in the dark and escape. You sit in the dark and you fall in love with a craft that is as old as mankind, because it’s magical.
Theatre is a beautiful art form and reflects the time, but the reason theatre is so incredible is because of the actors onstage and the technicians backstage, but having a career in theatre is hard. To be a successful actor there are many things you need, but without these qualities you won’t go very far:
1. Passion. Passion is the most important component for being successful in theatre, with passion there is motivation to become better each day, and sooner rather than later you take a step back and realize that you are.
2. Resilience. Every actor or actress is rejected in their life much more than they get booked for a part and that’s the reality. Actors need to be strong and resilient to continue in this craft, because often it’s 2-3 months without a job and actors need armor.
3. Creativity. Actor’s need to be creative and smart with the choices the make about the text and their characters, acting is the actor’s interpretation of the text and how they perceive a certain character.
4. Belief in self. Actors need to believe in themselves, as cheesy as it is, it is true. Without believing in themselves actors have no chance of being successful, faced with constant rejection actors need to be able to audition for two things each day and maybe book something every 2 months.
The Golden Age of Musical Theatre is considered to be between 1942-1959 which was started by the classic, “Oklahoma” by Rodgers and Hammerstein. This personally affects myself because I’m what is called a “classical ingénue” or a girl perfect to play every lead girl part of musicals from this era. Musicals that premiered during the Golden Age are still currently some of the most famous musicals like: Carousel, Kiss Me Kate, Sound of Music, King and I, etc. Classical in musical theatre is much different from classical or operatic singing in the true sense of the word because classical musical theatre shows are considered everything during and before the “Golden Age of Musical Theatre.” Rodgers and Hammerstein pioneered this new way of performing musical theatre and “narrative storytelling” through song and completely changed the Broadway scene forever and completely influenced all the modern musicals currently on Broadway today. The musical theatre revolution coincided with the “pivot of change” in world history of the 70s. New musicals in the 70s where more risqué, raunchy, and people loved the change of pace. Oklahoma was no longer playing, now all that dominated the Great White Way were musicals like Company and Grease. Even though the “Golden Age of Musical Theatre” is long gone, the musicals it produce continue to influence us today, and there will always be a production of Oklahoma somewhere and you bet your bottom dollar that I’ll find it.
When I think about how crazy you have to be to actually consider theatre and a career in the arts it shocks me every time, you have to be so serious about it, and you have to make the decision about what you’re going to do with your life so young. Trying to be successful is a war with everything working against you: type casting, your vocal limitations, your education, etc. Every time I feel like I can’t do this or a want to give up on my dream something reminds and refuels my passion, and I want it even more afterwards. This sounds like a miserable life to most people, but for people who want to work in New York or LA anything is worth it. Who needs money if you’re happy no matter what, because every day you wake up and you’re doing something you love.
It’s not easy when you’ve chosen to do one of the most highly competitive things in the world, I have yet to find something as competitive as musical theatre. Constructive criticism in the world of theatre is great, and I rely on my friends and family to tell me when I’m doing something great or horribly wrong. Often though with your colleagues and friends we’re all so ambitious you have no idea if they’re giving you real advice or bad advice to give themselves a leg up. With musical theatre or performing in general there will always be someone better; someone who has better turns, a stronger belt, a better body, whatever it is it causes all of us to doubt ourselves. Competition is good, but a lot of competition can be deteriorating. Especially if you’re constantly getting rejected and you’re friend keeps getting better and better and you’re struggling to catch up, but we choose to go into this business because it’s worse not having it in your life.
As I reflect on the essay I’ve written I can safely say I put my heart on the line, theatre destroys me, then lifts me back up again, and maybe that's its beauty? Theatre is magnificent for the spectator and the performer. Theatre allows you to escape, time travel, and transport yourself to different worlds. Theatre and the actor’s life has prepared me for the real world and I’m so lucky to have found what I’ve wanted to do since I was so young. All my failure, training, and hard work one day will pay off, because it’s great to finally get to express my feeling, doubts, and insecurities about performing on paper. Exploring the characters I’ll eventually play and how musical theatre has evolved with history has really opened my eyes to why theatre is so important to myself and so many others. Theatre evolves and changes with us and that’s the real magic of performing, to relate to the audience, to enrich a life, that’s why I perform.

"Frank" Movie Review: Written by Emma Wahl
When I first heard about the movie Frank, I thought it would be an extremely odd movie. It did end up being very strange but to my surprise, it was a thought provoking and touching film. The story revolves around a morose songwriter who lives his daily life in a monotonous fashion. He attempts to bring humor and satisfaction to his life by constantly updating his twitter status and exaggerating his every feeling so that his few followers could be jealous of him. As his continues through his routines he takes many walks. On one of these such walks, he witnesses a ragtag group of people try to stop a man from throwing himself into the ocean and drowning himself. Conversing with the man who stood near the scene, he discovers that the group is a band called The Soronprfbs and the one who threw himself into the ocean was their keyboardist. He gets invited to play for their show as the replacement pianist and it is there that he met the enigmatic and fiery Frank. Frank becomes taken with the young songwriter and he joins the band. They travel to a remote cabin the woods and it is there that they attempt to write their next album. As they spend their time in close quarters with each other the tensions between everyone is clearly seen. The band seems to dislike Jon (the young songwriter) and express their dislike through cutting comments and the childish silent treatment. Jon finds the band’s leader Frank as the true energy that holds the whole group together. Frank is the most unusual character. For one his head is covered in a massive plastic or paper mâché head. It has large glaring eyes and only a few slits to allow for breathing and tubes to be stuck up the bottom for feeding. His personality is different, not including the huge factor of wearing a fake head nonstop, but that he pushes people and makes them realize what they truly are able to do. This is how he keeps the group together and the album on its feet. Progressing through the film themes of belonging, ambition, and anger come around one time or another. Each character has their faults but they showcase various flaws in human character. Intertwining with these character studies is the music that The Soronprfbs produce. Each song is a passionate combination of strange synth like rhythms and compelling lyrics. Having the frontman be Michael Fassbender (Frank) makes for an interesting voice. His deep singing brings qualities to the songs that not many other people could have been able to bring. All in all, Frank is a heart-wrenching film that combines wonderful music with fascinating character development.

"Johnny English Reborn" Movie Review: Written by Anna Makris
First off, I couldn’t think of any other movie than this movie because it’s so funny and action packed throughout. I love Rowan Atkinson, the actor, who plays Johnny English. He has so many gadgets that he carries with him like the T-2 which is a bullet proof umbrella to Johnny, but turns out when Tucker, his sidekick, says, “it’s the T-2 sir” Johnny ends up pressing a button on the bottom of the umbrella and shoots a bullet explosion.

This movie is about trying to get the pieces to build a key and hunt down the Chinese premises. According to this movie, Simon Ambrose played by Dominic West is the leader of MI-7 has to attack Johnny English to save his company from Jeopardy. Johnny English is a part of a group called Her Majesty’s Secret Service and is unlikely the most intelligence agent out there.

I loved this movie because it’s just the best movie out there and I have grown up with Rowan Atkinson throughout my childhood from Mr. Bean to this movie now. I hope he can make more movies! So, if you like action packed movies see this movie on Netflix if it’s even on there.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" Movie Review: Written by Lily Ruffner
“Guardians of the Galaxy” isn't your average Marvel, it almost makes fun of your classic Marvel film. For instance, the iconic scene involving a slow walk into a life threatening situation in which characters are calm and confident (ex: Avengers) is turned into funny slow walk where the characters are yawning, tripping, etc. however, the movie starts off very depressing. The character, Peter Quil (Chris Pratt), starts off the movie as your typical self-absorbed, rude, and rebellious man. I found myself not liking him at first, but as the movie progresses and he begins to reveal emotions and bits of his painful past, I began to root for him. The guardians consist of 4 characters that is not counting Quill. Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a beautiful green woman who has a strong hatred toward the films villain. She is a no-nonsense kind of girl and the prominent love interest of Quill. Saldana plays the part very well, she works that green makeup! Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) are the two animated best friends in the movie. Groot only says, “I am Groot” in the film and is carefully watched over by his bestie Rocket. Rocket is a stubborn and filter less talking raccoon, who like Quill, is unlikable at first but slowly manages to find a place in our hearts. The final guardian, Drax (Dave Bautista), is an illiterate muscled man with a mission to kill the villain who murdered his wife and child. He is stubborn and will do anything to find the villain. The film is funny, uplifting, sweet, and entertaining. One of my personal favorite details is the music in the film! The score contains songs ranging from Jackson 5 to David Bowie. I give the film a five out of five, nothing bad to say about it! Definitely something worth watching with family during the holidays!

"Forrest Gump" Movie Review: Written by Violet Leon
A Box Of Chocolates
You know those questions people ask at mixers when they're trying to start a conversation? They're the silly short questions such as, "What's your favorite color?", or, "What's your favorite movie?" Well, my favorite color is ironically not violet. It's yellow, and as for my for my favorite movie, which goes beyond single colors, that would have to be the colorful Forrest Gump.

"Forrest Gump" is an American classic that tells the story of a man obviously named Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) throughout his life in the sixties and seventies. Interestingly, Forrest finds himself in the middle of many major events that happen during this time from the Vietnam War to the Kennedy assassination.

Throughout the movie, Forrest is telling his life story to the many people he shares a bench with at a bus stop. He famously recalls, "My momma always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." He tells the strangers about his young life when he met the love of his life, Jenny (Robin Wright). Now, Forrest is a bit simple-minded and oblivious to a lot of what happens throughout the movie. While he's away at war with Vietnam, Jenny is off experiencing the hippie life of the 70's. Every time Forrest comes to visit her, she's in some kind of trouble that he digs her out of. Often he expressed to her that she's his girl and he loves her, but because of her troubled past, she always runs the other way.

Now, now. I'm telling you too much. If you haven't seen Forrest Gump, you really ought to. It will warm your heart to see such a man achieve success in so many ways. The movie really opens your eyes to everything that's around you.

You may be bored by social studies and history, but you're living it, so let's dive into this box of chocolates and make history.

"Can't Hardly Wait" Movie Review: Written by Jules Appleton
Essentially, I picked “Can’t Hardly Wait” as my movie review for three reasons. The first one is because I feel that not a lot of people know about this film (most of the time when I ask people if they’ve seen this movie, the answer is “no”). The second reason is because of the awesome soundtrack, which is pretty underrated just like the film itself. The third reason is because I felt like doing a high school centric themed movie (as a high schooler), and this is one of my top favorite high school films. So, for all those reasons, that is why this week I’m going to talk all out “Can’t Hardly Wait”, the 1998 teen centric movie, named after The Replacements song, and filled with the ideals of love, revenge, music, friendship, and a wicked night.
The story revolves around six central characters on the night of their high school graduation. Preston Myers (Ethan Embry), who’s our main main character, has been in love with prom queen Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt) ever since he saw her on the first day of freshman year. Preston, however, has never spoken to her, and up until earlier that day, Amanda had been dating ultra-popular-ultra-jerk jock Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli) for their entire high school career. Hearing of this, Preston sets out to talk to Amanda and tell her how he really feels before he has to go to a writing workshop the next day for the summer.
Also attending the party is Preston’s best friend Denise Fleming (Lauren Ambrose), who doesn’t want to go to the party, but at the insistence of Preston comes, nerd William Lichter (Charlie Korsmo) who is seeking revenge on Mike after years of torment, and Kenny Fisher (Seth Green) a wannabe gangster who plans to lose his virginity by the end of the night.
As the night progresses, all their stories come into play with the backdrop of the best party of the graduating classes’ lives, and boy, is it one that they’re never going to forget!!!!!
This movie has an overall fun quality than you can feel throughout the whole film, and the same can be said with it’s soundtrack, which features the likes of Smash Mouth, Third Eye Blind, Sublime, Dire Straits, Guns n’ Roses, Barry Manilow (most definitely), and of course the main title track done by The Replacements.
The real reason I actually even saw this movie in the first place was because I heard it was named after a ‘Mats song. Being a fan of The Replacements (haven’t heard of them, check them out) I was really curious to see what this movie was about, so when I saw it was gonna be on TV, I watched it, and boy am I glad I did!!!!!
At the end of the day, I believe that “Can’t Hardly Wait” is basically a tale of growing up, about having one last night of freedom before you really have to do so and start your life as a now college student. It’s also about the friendships you yearn to keep, the kids you’ll have to say bye to, the kids you want to say bye to, and the love that stays from those who you’ve met and connected with… along with that random guy that eats a watermelon (it’s still a comedy, ha-ha).
I believe that every teenager should see this movie because it will make you laugh, make you dance, make you happy, and make it so you just “Can’t Hardly Wait” to watch it again!!!!!
Oh puns…

"The Tale of Princess Kaguya": Written by Ayumi Esponda
Based on an ancient Japanese folktale, talented director Isao Takahata, with the help of the glorious Studio Ghibli, bring the story of Kaguya, a beautiful nymph born out of a bamboo stalk, to life. The film tells of a bamboo cutter whom unexpectedly discovers a tiny, glistening girl inside a bamboo stalk. The man decides to adopt her, with his wife, as a blessing from heaven. As the girl grows (rather quickly and constantly), she warms up to the nature that surrounds her and calls it home. Meanwhile her adoptive father continues receiving signs that she is destined for much greater things, so he decides to save his wealth in order to build a manor in the capital for her and proclaim her princess. Soon enough, the day the manor is finished comes and it is time for the newly titled princess to leave her beloved countryside, much to Kaguya's dismay. All throughout her court life, she copes with learning new etiquette and the loss of loved ones. Originally in Japanese, the film's English language version features the voices of Chloe Grace Moretz, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Lucy Liu, and Darren Criss. This gorgeous film, with its Japanese ink- painting style of animation, and incredible use of traditional Japanese musical instruments, has touched many, including myself, on a personal level. This masterpiece is not only the tale of princess Kaguya, but it the tale of the soul and the journey it must take. It is the tale of life, its loves, it's woes, and it's eventual end. It tells of how this life, though it may seem important and all-consuming, is rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things; we will be reborn and forget it all, anyway. The Tale of Princess Kaguya reveals these truths and many more. Takahata's and Studio Ghibli's film has great and intense spiritual meaning and I implore anyone to watch it at least once in this life.

"Endless Love" Movie Review: Written by Kaya Daniels
Recently, it's been hard to find original movies. Nowadays, movies are remade, rebooted, or taken from a book series such as the Harry Potter franchise. Some remakes and some books- turned-movies tend not to do well because sometimes content from the past or from the book is changed or is entirely left out. This has angered fans of books and movies that were timeless favorites.

"Endless Love" is a romantic drama about two teenagers who are from different side of the tracks. Jane is a beautiful, quiet, innocent girl that had just lost her brother and she is on her way to becoming a doctor. David is the male lead and he is a handsome, romantic guy who has a dark past. Over the years, David has admired Jane but it wasn’t until their graduation when romance buds.

In 1981, "Endless Love" directed by Franco Zeffirelli was a controversial film during its time. It was one of the first romantic movies aimed to teenagers that contained sexual content and nudity. Now in 2014, those characteristics in movies are common and not as bad as they were “back in the day.” Director Shana Feste remade this classic romance.

This movie features Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) and Gabriella Wilde (Carrie). For those who are familiar with Alex Pettyfer, he is known for action packed films. He has made appearances in movies such as Alex Rider, Beastly and Magic Mike. He has played almost, if not, the same character in every film he’s in. He’s either the attractive hero that saves the day or he’s the cocky young man that ends up having a heart. In "Endless Love", we end up seeing a breakthrough in Alex Pettyfer’s performance. As for Gabriella Wilde, we have only seen her do minor roles in movies like The Three Musketeers (2011) or supporting roles in the 2013 remake of Carrie.

For one who has seen the original "Endless Love", I was expecting certain content and I was hoping that it would be the same as the original. But I also had to remind myself that 1981 and 2014 are very different when it comes to movies.

All in all, Endless Love is an amazing romantic drama about first love and teen romance. You will fall in love with the characters and the drama will keep you on the edge of your seat. I completely recommend this movie to anyone who wants a great romance movie.

My Story: Written by Sivan Bogan
If I were ever to commit a crime that landed me on death row, I already know what my last meal would be. Buttery, fluffy, scrumptious pancakes. With the fake Aunt Jemima maple syrup and a glass of orange juice. Now, I realize that pancakes are a common breakfast to most people, but to me, it would be an absolute delicacy. Why, you ask? Because of one little word. Anorexia. Anorexia... “an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat. When you have anorexia nervosa, you often equate thinness with self-worth.”
It sounds fairly simple, but I can tell you, it is a twisted and complicated disease. I have been struggling with anorexia for almost 4 years now, well, four years of me knowing about it. I'm sure it was there in middle school too. To even think about waking up and eating pancakes fills me with hatred, dread and anxiety. Which sucks. Cause I LOVE pancakes. But I HATE the feelings and thoughts I have before I eat them, while I eat them, and after I eat them. And this happens with a lot of food. So I avoid them. I avoid the food that scares me. Anorexia (anohREKseeuh) nervosa isn't really about food. It's an unhealthy way to try to cope with emotional problems. For so long, I have kept quiet. My thoughts, my feelings, everything was kept on mute. I wasn't sure what my opinions were. Or at least, I didn't know how to properly word them. More and more these past few months, I have been speaking up for myself. It feels really good. I do care sometimes that people find my thoughts, words, or posts annoying, but I am slowly learning not to care. I am learning to express myself.
This is my story.
I first want to say that people who have never gone through an eating disorder will never understand what its like to live with an eating disorder. It is hell. Every minute of every day, a voice is telling you how fat you are, how much you have already eaten that day, how many calories are in that coke you are about to drink, how ugly you are, how bad clothes look on you, how everyone is looking at you and judging you while you eat. It goes on and on and on. Forever. Everyday. Every second. The mirrors turn into enemies; you become isolated; everything in your life revolves around food.
My eating disorder officially started in 9th grade. I say officially because now that I can reflect on my part, I'm sure it started long before then. I don't remember having any thoughts about it. All I remember is one day telling my mom that I was going to pack half a sandwich for school instead of a whole sandwich. From there, I started eating less and less. I didn't ever think about it I just did it. I didn't have a piece of cake on my 14th birthday. I would avoid going to friends’ houses in fear of having to eat at the table with people. My obsession with food started to isolate me from my friends and my family.
When my mom and I moved to a new house halfway through 9th grade, I was going through a difficult time in school. Mostly social stuff. I felt a lot of rejection from people I thought were my best friends. People I thought were by my side through anything. People I had known forever.
My mom put the scale in the bathroom upstairs, and every day before I went in the shower, I would weigh myself. Soon I was weighing myself after every meal, after any bite of food, in fear that I had gained even an ounce. And every day I would smile as the number on the scale got lower and lower.
That’s when people started noticing my weight loss. They would point it out when I was eating lunch, “Is that all you’re eating?’s so little.” When I was talking to my friends, “You look really skinny.” I knew people talked about it when I wasn't there, but I didn’t care. Because at the time I thought everything was fine.
My mom closed her business and we moved to Connecticut in February. We drove all the way from LA to NYC. 9 days. In the car...not exercising...eating whatever food we could find on the worst nightmare. I hated it. I did jumping jacks in the bathroom of every rest stop. I cut down on my food intake even more.
We got to Connecticut and moved in with people we had known for years and years. They were like our family. They told us we could stay with them until we got our feet on the ground. I didn’t want to go into that experience. It was the worst time in my life. My mom and I were emotionally abused during our stay and that drove me into an even deeper spiral.
I went to the doctor when we got to Connecticut. My mom wanted to make sure everything was okay since people in LA and Connecticut had approached her about my weight. We got to the doctor, and I wasn't nervous at all. I remember walking in and doing a hearing test and an eye test. Then I went on the scale. I wasn't afraid of the scale. Because the scale and I were friends. It was always there for me. And it reassured me that everything was in my control.
The doctor came into the room and asked to talk to my mom privately. I sat on the cot in the doctor’s office and wondered what on earth they could be talking about. I saw the door fly open, and my mom came and hugged me. She was crying.
“They want to take you to the hospital, they need to see if you're okay.” The doctor explained to me that I was severely underweight and they needed to get my blood checked right away.
I was so scared. I had no idea what was going on. Everyone was rushing around me, it was all a blur.
We got to the hospital and they weighed me again and sent me to a room with a bed and a TV and scary looking machines. Nurses came in and put an IV in my arm and took a lot of blood. My mom later told me that the IV was to get my body hydrated.
My mom and I waited for the results of my blood work for what seemed like forever. I think we were waiting for about 6 hours or so. I had to eat dinner at the hospital- they gave me so much food or what I thought was a lot of food, to them it was a meal. I ate it and regretted every second of it.
The blood work came back... and it was completely NORMAL. I was so relieved. So relieved that I could keep doing what I was relieved that they weren't going to admit me into the hospital.
After that day, it was doctor’s appointments after doctor’s appointments. I was weighed every single day while I was in Connecticut, but my weight would not go up. Due to the stress of our living situation, I was leaning on my eating disorder more than I ever had before.
I remember there was a girl at my new school who was extreme dieting. She would tell everyone that she had only eaten 500 calories that day while munching on lettuce. I knew she wanted to look like me. I knew she was jealous that I was “naturally” so thin. If she only knew. Remember that you are so beautiful the way you are. Don't change yourself for what you think other people want. You are enough. You are always enough.
I will always have the whispers in my head. Telling me how sick I was, how much help I needed, how “worried” they were for me.
That is not what I needed to hear when I was that sick. I needed love and support. Not worry. I don't want you to tell me how worried you are for my health. Do you know how scary that is to hear? How scary that is for a child to hear? I was so overwhelmed with how other people were dealing with the situation I didn't have time to think about how I was dealing with it.
None of the therapy or doctor appointments in Connecticut made a difference. It was the living situation my mother and I were in that sabotaged all of that. I remember my doctor set up an appointment with an "eating disorder specialist" therapist. I remember her not really listening. The one thing that stands out from the 3? 4? times I saw her was one 5 minute conversation. My 1 hour session was almost over, and my mom was waiting outside her office. The woman pulled out a box and told me to “pick one". I was confused until I looked in the box. It was full of protein bars. Chocolate ones, vanilla ones, peanut butter ones. She told me I wasn't leaving until I ate it. All of it. I picked one. I ate little, little, tiny bites. I hated her in that moment. I hated her more than anything. I think I took 10 minutes to eat half of it. She let me leave but only after she talked to my mom and made me promise to finish it. It was in my hands the whole ride home. I didn't take another bite. I threw it away in the first trashcan I saw.
Right before I started 10th grade my mom and I moved back to California. San Diego to be exact. I was anxious. Another new school? New people to talk to? New people to isolate myself from?
But that year is when everything changed. I started going to group therapy where I met other girls who were struggling with the same thing as I was. When you are in the middle of your eating disorder you don't think ANYONE knows what you're going through. You have these thoughts so cruel and scary you worry that you are the only person on earth thinking those things. I learned in group that I was not alone. That I am not alone.
10th grade was tough, but I made it through. With a lot of strength, courage, and support from people who really cared about me, I started gaining weight. I started to not be so tired all the time. I started to think more clearly.
I just finished 11th grade, and I don't even have the words to describe how proud I am of myself. Each day is still a struggle but with the help of therapy I know how to get through those difficult times.
I still have a fear of some foods. I still get anxious before every meal. I still look at calories sometimes even though I am not supposed to. I still have cruel thoughts about myself.
But compared to a couple years ago, that is a big improvement. A HUGE improvement.
When you are in the deep depths of your eating disorder, you don't ever think it’s going to get better. You cannot find the strength to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Without the help of my mom and my friends, I could not have overcome such terrible pain and suffering.
I can proudly say that I am in recovery for Anorexia. Recovery is a long bumpy road, I will go forward with the full awareness that I will fall again. But I will get up. I will fight.
At this point in time, I'm not sure if I will ever be fully recovered. I know that’s not the best head space to have...but it’s just how I'm feeling. I can’t imagine a life without that tiny voice in my head every day.

I Am a Feminist: Written by Margaux Paul
“I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be own my own side.” –Maya Angelou. This is the quote I have taped up on my wall along with many different quotes about empowerment from feminists all over the world. Now what does this quote mean? To me it means that I was born a woman, will always be a woman, and my gender does not and should not be a defining factor of my ambitions and capabilities in this society. I have been raised in a culture that has brain washed me from birth to stereotype my gender and my fellow males as well. Woman should be submissive, emotional, nurturing, and delicate whereas men should be dominate, the providers, tough, and strong. I don’t know about you, but I feel like these labels are an insult to the complexity of human nature. We are all individuals, with different feelings, wants, and needs and we need to stop seeing ourselves as “male” or “female” but as equals and humans.
My entire life I have been faced with sexism, whether it be at home or at school. A boy in my class once told me it was disgusting how much acne I had, and I told him that he didn’t exactly have clear skin either. He then replied, “Men can have acne, it’s a girls job to look beautiful. Who on earth is ever going to want you?” He was completely objectifying me, seeing my worth only by how many men would “want” me because of my physic, whereas men should be wanted because of their entire person. I was appalled.
I also remember when I was in the first grade and I had to write about my dream job. I said I wanted to be a stay at home mom and raise three kids just like my mother. I’ll never forget her face when she read it. She told me I needed to be more ambitious, and that I could do anything I wanted to if I just set my mind to it. Later when I was older, she explained to me that in that moment she’d realized she wanted so much more for me than to end up like her. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a stay at home mom, but she just wants me to be independent rather than rely on my partner for financial stability. That doesn’t stop my dad, however, from constantly telling me that I will most likely meet my husband in high school and marry him and that should be my back up plan in case I don’t succeed in life. My father would never say these things to my brother. As a woman my chances of success in his mind are slim, and I should be prepared to find a provider. He tells me to change my clothes because it’ll be “sending the wrong message”, and that maybe I shouldn’t be as opinionated around men because it will decrease my chances of them being attracted to me. It’s a good thing I couldn’t care less about what others think of me then. I am never going to change just to be more appealing to a potential partner. To me this seems absolutely ridiculous. I am not going to compromise my beliefs, my personality, ambitions, and dreams for my significant other, and my father has yet to understand this.
It is not only women who experience stereotyping. Just this morning my father entered my room and told me I would need to give up my bed sometime this week for his friend who is coming to visit. I asked him why he and my dad couldn’t just share a bed considering my father’s bed can easily hold 3-4 people. He immediately exclaimed “I can’t do that! That’s gay!” and I told him “It’s not like your gonna wake up in the morning with homosexual feelings, that’s not how it works.” And he replied, “Guys just don’t sleep in the same bed.” Why is that? Why are women allowed to share a bed and it’s completely normal, but two fully-grown men can’t without compromising their masculinity? Are they afraid to be in a vulnerable state with another man? Are they afraid they’ll end up cuddling? And so what?
Both men and women suffer from stereotyping. The only way to end it is to rise up together. This society has a set mentality on what is “girly” and “manly” and the youth are the ones who are going to change this. I am a feminist. I believe in the political, social, and economic equality of men and women. Do you?

5/27/14: Written by Sivan Bogan
I was swimming yesterday, and it was amazing. I wasn't thinking about anything except how the water felt on my skin and how the sun warmed my face. And as I looked up at the palm trees, I was just so thankful to be alive. To be living. To be able to breathe and swim and feel.
The human mind is so complex and brilliant. And we are sometimes not even capable to convey our thoughts into something that we understand. I always think about society and wanting to change it. I feel I always write about wanting to change society, but in reality, I don't go through with it. And I'm not sure, well I know that I myself cannot change society as a whole, but I feel like I can make a difference to those around me. I just wish people focused more on what's inside a person rather that what's on the outside. When I look at a person, I want to know their story and where they came from, I don't care about what clothes they wear or how much money they have. At the end of your life you won't be thinking about anything but how satisfied you are with the life you chose to live.
Each day is filled with choices. Each day you make at least a million choices, some good, some bad. But as long as you're in control it doesn't matter. Humans make mistakes that is the beauty of being Human.
Love took me down to the river to silence me.

4/18/14: Written by Sivan Bogan
I don't really have that much to say. It’s almost 1AM, listening to music, dreading tomorrow. I have to do a lot of homework tomorrow. Uhg. But whatever. I'm also going to go swimming and get some vitamin D. What happened today that was interesting...not really. Mom and I went for a really nice walk on the beach and then had lunch. It was so hot out. Like..probably 85 degrees. Eeesh. My mom had a fight with my grandma. Well not really a fight...but my mom is just mad at her. I kind of am too. She's taking her other granddaughter (AKA Ellie) to freaking ITALY. ITALY. She has taken Teddy to London and now she is taking Ellie to Italy. She has never taken me anywhere. I'm her 2nd oldest grandchild! Like HELLO. We talked about it a while ago...and she said that she didn't want to take me when I was sick, which I understand. But...I mean...I'm so much better now. It just sucks. And I'm jealous and annoyed and just...uhg. My mom is really upset about it too. She is also upset about my grandpa not leaving anything for her after he died. He gave my uncle Mike his house...and everything in it. And none of the other 6 children got anything. So she feels unloved. Which must be the worst feeling. I can actually relate to that...cause of the it is the worst feeling. There is a quote that I love and can really relate to. It goes-
“It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply”
Which I think is the absolute truth. And what I go through every day.
I’m pretty tired. So I'm going to go to bed. Night beautiful world.
- S

Storytime: Written by Sivan Bogan
"Mom? Mom are you here?" I put my hand on the dining room chair and waited. When she didn’t
answer, I continued into the kitchen to find my mother huddled over the stove. I ran over and shook her.
"Mom? Is everything okay? Mom?”
She looked at me with eyes filled with tears.
"Oh’s your dad. He fell into the trash shoot. They couldn’t get him out in time." She collapsed onto me. Dad worked at the trash site of the city. His job was to put all the bags of trash in to the shoot, where flames would turn the garbage to ash. His work was dangerous, I knew that. But I never thought it would happen. I hugged my mom tight. I promised her it would be okay.
I pulled away and looked at my mother. My strong, confident, beautiful mother. Every bit of her looking crushed.
"Does Nan know?" Hannah was my older sister. When I was little I couldn’t say Hannah so I started calling her Nan. Now everyone else did too.
"She doesn’t know yet. She went to Maxine’s house last night." My mother sobbed once more. I led her to the dining room.
"Did you call Aunt Liza? Is she coming over here?" My mom shook her head. I helped her sit down in a chair and went to the phonebook to find Aunt Liza’s number. I found it. It was written in my dad’s handwriting.
Loopy and messy. I put my finger on it and held back tears. Aunt Liza answered after 3 rings.
"You need to come over right now." My voice firm. And sad.
"Eric? Honey? What’s wrong?"
"You need to come here. Now." I hung up. I couldn’t talk anymore.
I waited with mom until Aunt Liza arrived. I left them in the dining room and went upstairs. I walked into my parent’s room and went to my dad’s side of the bed. He had a sports magazine on his bedside table. I touched it, carefully at first, but then I picked it up and threw it as hard as I could on the ground. I sat on the bed and cried. I cried until absolutely no more tears would come and I was just dry heaving on his pillow. I didn’t know how much time had passed. I picked up the, now crumpled, magazine and ran down the stairs and out the back door. I ran all the way to the trash site at the edge of town. I sat down on a pile that was getting ready to be pushed down the shoot. Production had stopped though...probably because of my dad. A worker started coming towards me, but another worker, and a friend of my fathers, stopped him. I sunk lower in the trash and opened the magazine. I read it over and over again. Until the words blurred together. Until I felt a hand on my knee. Hannah was kneeling down, her eyes red from crying.
"Mom sent me to look for you. You shouldn’t just run off Eric, she doesn’t need that right now. None of us
I thought she was going to walk away. Leave me there. But she pushed me over and held me in her lap. We lay there for a while. And when she pulled me up and took my hand, I turned and faced my dad’s work station. I knew we would never be the same. But I felt that tug of her hand and I thought that we would be okay. We would survive this.

Review of "Everything Will Be Alright In The End" By Weezer: Written by Jules Appleton
“Everything will be alright in the end,” the line uttered in the songs “Ain’t Got Nobody” and “Foolish Father” and on the cover of the album with the funky looking bear thing on it. This is the title of Weezer’s first album in four years; you guessed it, Everything Will Be Alright In The End.
Four years after their last album, Hurley, Weezer is back with a powerful blast. Not to say that Weezer’s last three albums were bad (they’re some songs on Hurley that are awesome, Ratitude that are spunky and the Red Album that are great), but there is a punch that’s in Everything Will Be Alright In The End (EWBAITE, even that’s a long abbreviation) that wasn’t in those albums. EWBAITE also keeps the strive going throughout the WHOLE length of the album. That’s saying something is right about this one.
The album, which singer and lead guitarist Rivers Cuomo describes as an album “about relationships,” is definitely apparent throughout. “Ain’t Got Nobody” right off the bat talks about him dealing with not having anyone around him, and the loneliness of the song almost pretty much reminds you of Pinkerton (‘96).
Nostalgia is apparent in some tracks, which is not a bad thing at all, and it’s kind of nice to be reminded of past Weezer tunes. This is mainly apparent on “Back To The Shack”, “Eulogy For A Rock Band” and “I’ve Had It Up To Here”.
“Back To The Shack” (the first single, and second track) is about Rivers and the guys trying to reconnect with their audience and their relationships with other people. It doesn’t exactly sound like a Blue Album (’94) track, but it reminds you of it (the references about taking it back to ‘94 help). The song, to sum it up, is great with tons of powerful guitar and lyrics that are thoroughly enjoyable. I smiled at the lyric “maybe I should play the lead guitar and Pat should play the drums” (it references Pat Wilson, the bands drummer).
“Eulogy For A Rock Band” (third track) talks about bands that are retiring, and how Weezer admires all they’ve done for them, but I also feel like it talks about Rivers’ feelings post-everything-he-wrote-about-in-Pinkerton, if you catch my drift (if you don’t, Pinkerton was the staple album discussing Rivers’ depression).
“I’ve Had It Up To Here” (fifth track) discusses the sadder side of all the happy nostalgia. It talks about Rivers’ frustration with people not enjoying Weezer’s new music as much as they did the old stuff, and he tries to “give the fans what they ask for” which applies to their new “mainstream stuff.” The track ends saying he won’t use work towards a large audience anymore, which is pretty sad to hear, but he knows their fans are loyal. What do you call that, bittersweet? I’m not really sure.
“Lonely Girl” (fourth track) reminds me a lot of the Green Album (’00) sound, with surf inspired guitar and poppy hooks. I thoroughly enjoyed that track I’ve gotta say.
“The British Are Coming” (sixth track) sports a very pretty melody, and really quirky smart lyrics. It sounds as if it’s an allusion of Rivers (being an American) being pushed around by other people in his life (the British), comparing it to the American Revolution. It’s a really darned catchy song and it’ll sure help you study for your history homework.
“Da Vinci” (seventh track) talks about a girl, and it compares a girl to being so unreal that she can’t even be a painting. Aw, how nice. With plenty of whistling and pop culture references to hook you in, it’ll have you listening for quite a bit of time.
“Go Away” (eighth track) is a duet co-written and sung by Rivers and Bethany Cosentino of the band Best Coast. The story talks about a couples relationship ending, and how they should just get away from each other because they’re not healthy for each other, even though they both deep down love each other. It’s a pretty somber tune, even though it doesn’t sound it, with lots of guitar distortion. This is a terrific track, and one that you’ll really have to listen for; it’s one of my favorites on this album.
“Cleopatra” (ninth track, second single), notice the history references now? I surely did. This song makes actual references back to Cleopatra, and compares it to the control Rivers feels with a girl/woman. There’s harmonica and acoustic guitar at the beginning that eases you into it, before it brings in the classic Weezer guitar sound/distortion that’ll remind you of something along the lines of “Say It Ain’t So” (Blue Album). As the second single, it brings to the table new writing concepts and old chords with a twist.
“Foolish Father” (tenth track) is about a girl not able to forgive her father, but Rivers begs her to (“he did the best that he could do”). This song maybe makes reference to Rivers forgiving his own father for things he’s done. It starts out with subtle distortion before moving into the verse and kicking it up. The harmonies that bassist Scott Shriner applies give it something more. Bethany Cosentino returns to supply the line “everything will be alright in the end,” and the whole band (Rivers, Pat, Scott, and guitarist Brian Bell) join in to bring it home. It sounds huge, and it is in terms of lyrics and composition, therefore I’ve got to say this is my favorite track on the whole album.
“The Futurescopic Trilogy” (one whole song, composed of three parts, track eleven) brings the album home, and it brings Weezer home, back to their metal inspired roots. In case you didn’t know this, Rivers loved metal growing up, and also if you didn’t notice this, there seems to be little prints of metal here and there in about every album.
The first part of the trilogy, “The Waste Land”, is an instrumental, that sounds as if it’s all guitar (which Weezer is pretty much all about, they love their guitars), and the metal peeks through at a few pivotal moments.
The next part, “Anonymous”, slows it down a bit (eventually speeding up), and is also a song about a relationship with a girl, who he hardly knows but feels like she might be the one. The harmonies are lovely in this song.
The last part, “The Return To Ithaka”, uses heavy metal influences once again, but it’s all Weezer here. It shows off what they do best; playing well-written songs with heavy guitar, a quick beat, and I can feel there’s something there. They spent a whole lot of time on this album, and I feel like they added in a lot of love in creating this record. “Everything will be alright in the end”… with this track, I think so.
“Everything Will Be Alright In The End” in the end is a fantastic album, which not many people have been able to say about Weezer for quite a while, but if there’s any comeback that Weezer could have, this is it. Next to the first two, this is one of my favorite Weezer albums, truth be told. So, you be the judge; will everything be alright in the end?

Excerpt from "Trying Public Limes": Written by Jules Appleton
I sat out on my patio the night before the short film festival.
I couldn’t believe it was so close, yet it felt so far away from me.
The last two weeks had been absolutely insane, having to deal with everyone and everything… and Juliette. She’d probably never speak to me again, chances are. But then, I just focused on the stars, on my breathing.
I hopped up on the ledge, and sat there, looking out over London.
London with its big buildings, and Big Bens, and bright lights in the night sky. It was truly beautiful.
I reached down into my pocket to take out my cigarettes; I really needed a smoke.
“Don’t tell me your smoking again.”
“Ahhh!!!!!” I jumped up, and turned around to see Beth leaning up against a table that was covered in spider webs from sitting out there too long.
“God Beth,” I sighed, then sternly added, “Don’t scare me like that, you almost gave me a heart attack.”
She scoffed. “That’s not the only thing that’s gonna give you a heart attack.” She pointed at my cigs.
I rolled my eyes. “I’ve been hearing that since I was eighteen.” She walked over to me and propped herself up on the ledge, just as I had earlier. I knew there was something wrong with her.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” She asked.
I ignored it. “Why are you here?”
She looked at me. “What, I can’t just spend some quality time with my cousin that I’ve just spent the last two weeks with, working my butt off for his movie that, by the way, debuts tomorrow?” She shot back, strength in her voice.
I shook my head. “No Beth, I don’t think that’s why you’re here.” I whispered.
“Me and my mum fought.”
“AGAIN?!” I shouted at her.
“Look, it’s not my fault, Keaton; I can hardly stand to talk with a low life crack smoker like her, let alone live with her!!!!!” She yelled back, some of her words quivering.
I didn’t know what to say. I’d known it had been a problem, but spending the past two weeks with Beth made me see that this was a reality. My Aunt Penny needed help, and even when no one else offered to give it to her, I would.
“She needs help.” I simply said.
“Yeah? You think,” Beth retorted, poison in her voice, “Because really, honestly you think so Keaton? I’ve dealt with this for years. Years, and your parents haven’t cared. Heck, our parents haven’t seen each other in three years. We live on opposite sides of town, but we never see and never call each other. Your parents really did stop caring about us… I was shocked to see that you still remembered what I looked like when you started to see me at the library.”
A few tears had started to fall from her eyes. She thought I forgot what she looked like? My own cousin; someone who was related to me.
“Beth, Bethy hey,” I made her look at me, which made me see all the water in her eyes. My heart ached for her, “I never stopped caring, alright?” She nodded a little bit.
“Why didn’t you call us then Keaton, did you not love us enough to call us?”
I was stunned to hear those words, and my eyes widened. “No Beth, no,” I hugged her close, and kissed the top of her head, “I never stopped loving you, how could I ever stop loving my little cousin, huh?” I questioned.
“I… I missed you when you weren’t around,” She told me, whipping up a few of her tears, “Y’know?” She asked.
“Yeah Beth, I know, I know…” I hugged her, and smoothed down her blonde hair.
“Does it… get better… at all, Keaton? Life, I mean? Does it get satisfying? Will it make me happy?” She asked. I paused. I was unable to move. Her question almost broke my heart.
Life, get better?
Was life so bad that she’d forgotten how to be happy?
Like truly happy?
To tell you the truth, when I was Beth’s age, all I cared about was my filming, my video games, my friends, and trying to ask a girl out. That’s what I was doing at fifteen.
But then again, I was thinking about what my brother was doing when I was fifteen. My brother then was my age now… and his life wasn’t great.
My brother probably needed therapy earlier in life to deal with the divorce of his parents before our dad married my mom, but he never got it. My brother was working at a grocery shop, yet he blew all his money away on drugs. That’s the reason I couldn’t go to college for such a longtime, my parents bought and funded a house for my brother with my college money.
I didn’t know all the truth about this for quite a few years, until one night in my brother’s stupor, he told me the truth. He told me that it was because of him that I was still not graduating from college, and because of him that I had to work at the post office. He then told me one thing though-
“It’s because of you, Key, that I’m a failure.”
He passed out after that, so he therefore couldn’t say anything more to me, but he blamed me for something that I couldn’t even have done, that I couldn’t even have helped doing.
That sentence virtually made the rest of my twenties suck for me. I started thinking that I was no good that I should just give up right then and there and become a full-time mailman, working off of my already standard post office job. That seemed like a good plan then.
… Till’ I realized, it wasn’t.
I got home late one night due to filing tons of letters. I wasn’t tired that night and I stayed up turning on my small TV, in my small apartment, and sitting on my small couch, flipping through channels, until I came across something.
There it was; the biggest wake-up call of my life.
Benjamin Braddock banging on the church windows to proclaim his love for the woman he was about to lose, until she screamed his name back.
“BEN!!!!!” She had cried.
“Film…” I’d whispered to myself, “Film,” I repeated, this time a bit louder, “Film,” I said, “FILM!!!!!” I finally shouted.
I ran through my house, screaming this word. “Film, film,” I banged on my wall, “Here that you buggers? FILM!!!!!”
I ran out to the patio, and into the nighttime I yelled. “LONDON, I’M GONNA DO SOMETHING WITH MY LIFE!!!!! I’M. GOING TO. BE. A. FILMAKER!!!!!”
I don’t know if London heard me that night, but my neighbors did and they threatened to call the police, but that was fine because I’d realized then, when I was twenty-seven years old, and over ten years too late, what it was I wanted to do with my life.
So, I did go back to school (again), and I did take all my film studies classes, and I did get enough credits… until Dr. Tucker practically flunked me, and made me enter this contest as my only ticket to pass. I felt like I was stuck back at square one, just a kid with a dream too big to fit into his head, and a diploma so far he could hear the deans of the university cackling about how he couldn’t catch it.
But, I didn’t give up.
The film was done; the cards were on the table, and not for solitaire because I wasn’t alone.
I had my team, my friends, Beth… Juliette… almost Juliette at least.
I knew that I could win it though. And then was probably the most exciting time of my life.
My life.
I looked down at Beth, who had her head in my arms, sniffling a little bit from her crying.
I stroked her hair, “you know, Beth, life is sour. Life is not always satisfying, and it gets hard to swallow sometimes. Life will sting… it really will, but you can get back up again, because you,” I lifted up her head, staring into her green eyes, “are incredibly strong, and I know that even when life knocks you down, you’ll get back up. Life can be hard to deal with, but you always have to remember the good things in life, the sweet things, the sugar, like, you see that-” I pointed straight ahead towards the London skyline, “That is sugar that is the sweetness, and let me tell you, is it ever sweet right now. Life can be sour, but you just have to remember all the good things about it, because life really is-”
“A lime?” She asked, and laughed a little bit.
I smiled. “Yeah Beth, exactly. Life is like a lime.”
“These are hard times Keaton.” She told me, clutching onto my jacket a little tighter.
“They’re trying times, but somehow we’ve got to make them work.” I saw Beth smile.
“God save the Queen, huh?” She asked me.
I laughed lightly, and tousled her hair. “And never mind all the bollocks,” I responded, “You’ll be fine Beth, I know you will be.
Beth gave me a warm smile then got out of my embrace. “It’s late, I’m gonna go turn in, we’ve got an insane day tomorrow.”
“Yeah I know, you’re telling me Beth, we can either make it or break it.” I said, an overly exaggerated expression on my face, with my eyes wide and my hands on my bottom lip.
She gave me an honest smile. “We’ll make it.”
I nodded slightly. “God, do I hope you’re right.”
“Goodnight Keaton.” She said turning back to go into the house.
“Night cuz.” I yelled back to her.
I looked out into the lights of London, and the tower, at everything. The city seemed warmer that night, even though the temperature probably wasn’t above fifty-five degrees. I smiled to myself. “Beautiful.” I said.
I shifted around to get off the ledge, and then I felt something move in my pocket. I took it out. My cigarettes. I looked at them, and then at my city.
I decided to go back inside, leaving my box on the patio.

Brain Freeze: Written by Ayumi Esponda
Last month, while staying up on the weekend I did something I don't do often. I ate ice cream. Moose-Tracks-flavored ice cream. Perhaps an hour after my late-night treat, I finally went to sleep. But it's what happened in my sleep that makes this post interesting. One particular dream still stands out to me from that night.

In it, I was walking in a forest just off a freeway. Trees with orange leaves and dark trunks surrounded me, the ground fiery with the fallen autumn leaves. Walking alongside me was a very Dev Patel-esque young man, he was quite friendly and pleasant, but in reality I have no idea who the man is or was. We conversed as went along with our hike and briefly touched on the subject of religion. I am not particularly religious though I certainly believe in a higher power. He was Muslim. We didn't get to elaborate much on the subject, for in the moment, as were turning a corner on the wet dirt path, an eerie being appeared before us. With the frame of a small girl, its vaguely human image created an uneasy feeling in me. It had long, unkempt black hair and grey, stretched skin covered by a dirty rag of a tunic. Its face was truly the stuff of nightmares. Its alien-like eyes, enormous and infinitely black, and its dark mouth, stretched across the face, permanently half open, made me anxious, but not quite afraid. It said nothing.

As it often occurs in dreams, I, for some reason, had information about the creature that we met. In my dream-mind, I thought, “This is the god (somebody, I don't know who) was talking about.” To my knowledge, this creepy being was a power body, and it stood right in front of us, just staring. The young man must have known something too, for he seemed far more startled than me. Under his breath, I heard him say “Allah” in a surprised tone. He was taken aback. Seeing this creature, he knew, just like I knew, that this is a god, and he was shocked that it did not look as he imagined his God to look. I took my eyes off my companion and focused them on the being still standing before us. After a few seconds, I felt myself waking up, and the strange creature, the Muslim man, and the forest were gone. It was about four in the morning, but I managed to fall asleep again. That scene never returned.

Now, I have nothing against the Islamic religion, I definitely do not see their God as a horror movie monster, not at all. That is not what this post is about. I simply find it interesting that we do not know whether our Gods look like horror movie monsters. What if God actually does? External image, especially in this age, is so important to us (sometimes unnecessarily) that it makes me wonder: if we knew what the almighty higher power looks like, would we still follow it, preach it, and believe it? I won't pose many of my own questions, I'll leave that to the reader. But, it truly is incredible what a little change in routine can do, a sweet midnight snack ended up being literal food for thought.

The Fear and Overcoming It: Written by Anna Makris
One day, I felt really down and yes I mean emotionally. Nobody at my school likes me so much and they tend to stay away from me. I don’t have anyone to sit at lunch with and I don’t know how to cope with my feelings so much that I can’t solve that one problem.
My computer programming teacher, is somewhat of a parent to me, and a best friend to me. He loves me like I’m his teacher’s pet. I told him one day (last week) that I wanted to do suicide on myself! This was not a smart thing to say. I said this because my parents sometimes, almost all the time, don’t listen to me and I feel left alone as a 16 year old adolescent. My computer programming teacher decided that he needed to speak to me about this situation and how I’m coping with it. He asked, “What happened?” I usually don’t want to share my personal feelings, but since I have compassion for him I went ahead and explained the situation and about my parents saying that I’m not a good dancer, being fat, and lying.
As teens we usually just hide away these feelings that we feel. This is not good because everything that we hide won’t get better in the long run. My computer programming teacher decided with all that I said and how he feels as an actual parent, he went ahead and contacted counseling in the school.
Later in that week, counseling contacted me and she wanted to talk about suicide and what plans I had for that and what has been happening in my life since I was a child at about 8 years old. I discussed with her that I’m not sure how my parents would understand about what is going on in school and what I talked with her about. I was scared to my life when my counselor actually called my mom. She didn’t know what to expect because it came from my counselor and I wanted my computer programming teacher in the same room with me because he was the first one I went to when I discussed about my problem.
Since now, my parents, my teacher and I were all in the same room discussing about how school is like and how my whole generality of my life is like. It was not until then that my teacher asked, “How is your self-esteem right at this very moment?” I said to him that I feel like my self-esteem is in the drain and that I can’t come out of shell to try to do something better for myself. Yes, I haven’t had a well-planned out life, but I have been able to overcome all my fears and traps and be able to go where I am today.
My computer programming teacher is my life and I won’t ever leave him unless I go to Canyon Crest Academy next year. This is what I will ever keep of him besides his love and compassion for me as his teacher’s pet is that try to be open and take risks because you need to build a reputation and that’s how you will feel a lot better.
One last note, you need to make sure you understand your life before you try to do anything too risky and make mistakes. Just enjoy life and have fun with it!

I Am No Longer Who I Was: Written by Saida Hassan
From the time we are able to distinguish change from continuity, our journey in life is marked by external factors that greatly affect who we are. Society, religion, and our inner demons are just a few swaying influences that can completely alter a person’s being. Their life course may change off that basis, and they find that they are unrecognizable to the people in their life. For me, since I’m Muslim, a monotheist whose sole purpose in life is to worship God, religion is the most dominating influence of all in my life, therefore affecting everything about it. And ever since a capitalist society aroused materialistic longings that perpetually signify their existence, I have found that I have changed.

Currently in my life, the most unattainable goal I am now striving for is to receive good grades, get accepted into an ivy league, and graduate summa cum laude. As it becomes the imperious motivation for success, these goals will leave little room for anything else. Combining that with a constant religious subsistence ensures that change is inevitable. I evolved from someone who holds Allah, or god, to the highest esteem into a “Muslim”-an accurate adjective used to describe someone whose religious compass is intact but only extant. Until nowadays, my most innate desire was to cultivate a rapport with God, not only keeping me on the correct “path” but also affirming the completion of my duties. I now harbor a blatant disregard for Islam in general, especially the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. Gone are the feelings of uplifted holiness, the pursuit of the joy associated with worshipping Allah. And for the life of me I cannot recall the last time I heard the divine calling of Islam- or if I have the arousal of aspirations for spiritual content. Instead of appreciating God’s simple yet wondrous creations, such as the many beautiful natural landscapes all around me, I admire materialistic possessions that will spoil the very essence of my Muslim inner being. And yet I still do it.

Deviation from the original I began perhaps when I started to compare myself to others and realize I wasn’t as unfortunate in not possessing what they had. Obsessing over this fact, I looked for ways to attain those possessions and neglect what was really important. Another hidden factor that played into this was the drilling from my father the teachings of Islam- we are slaves of Allah, and we must therefore appease the Master. Sight of what’s important began to blur, and there was no set distinct line anymore between worldly desires and what was deemed important. My love for Islam was evident in my unbroken loyalty and yearning for people to comprehend that I was not a suppressive religion; but rather supports. Ironically, I now view Islam in that certain limelight parallel to that of the common westerner or ignorant non-Muslim. The alteration of the very definition of God is reflected in my disdainful dismissal of Him. If my previous self were asked (transition into someone else is most candidly obvious in my reference to a past alter ego) “Who is God?” I might have replied “A supreme being who deserves our constant worshipping, and love for creating us. We are to do as He says.” While I might not have replied in that exact fashion, my downward spiral into the black abyss of materialism was initiated by my apathy wards God, annoyance associated with just another obligation I had to attend to, a tedious task I wanted done and over with. In my quest for more dispensable objects, I hurriedly ignored anything God related, as my growing hunger began to infiltrate everything, from my relationship with Allah to the upholding of Islam’s spiritual decrees. Given, my eagerness to worship Allah was marred with a similar aspiration to dignifying my father, a devout Muslim, but this too was lost in my derailed tumble into lust. I simply didn’t care anymore. I only wanted tangible things-when I attained them, I was still was not pleased, because I craved even more. In addition, I was heavily burdened by an unwieldy guilt, most primarily associated with metaphysical presence that surrounded fellow Muslim friends. Even when I do manage to get some worshipping done, it itself has been corrupted. Just like I began to value palpable possessions over my relationship with Allah and other pressing elements in my life, I valued quantity of worshipping more than if it was properly dignified with a holy blessing. This upheaval caused me to accomplish less salvation than ever before.

A true Muslim slaves after Allah no matter what the circumstances of their life, balancing worldly desires with an obligatory loyalty to their Lord, Master, God. To me, perhaps the biggest contrast between my past and present egos would be what I upheld to importance. Despite the fact that is still retain qualities from the “old me”, to say that I have changed would be quite the understatement. I have rewritten my placement of values in life. I might appear the same on the outside, but to Allah, there are no similarities to who I used to be, and who I am now.

Individuals like Me: Written by Violet Leon
Someone wise once said that you are the average of the people around you. I describe the person who said this as wise because it’s basic common sense. If you spend your time around a bunch of comedians who laugh a lot, you're most likely going to pick up on it and start laughing too. That's empathy.

So if you're the average of the people around you, how is it that one can identify themselves as being an individual?

I've met a lot of people in my life, however, I believe that any person that reoccurs through my life must play a significant role. They wouldn't be in my life if I weren't supposed to learn anything from them. The lessons I learn from these people, whether they be family members, friends, peers, customers, or just straight up strangers, are lessons that can be negative or positive. I may learn how not to behave from a particular person, and I may learn exactly how to behave from another. Being that in public high school a person is exposed to many different examples, I've learned a lot.

I've known the jocks, the kids that practice religions, the drama kids, the choir kids, band kids, artsy kids, and the do nothing kids. From these people that surround me, I've taken the lessons they've taught me and applied them to my life, but have been careful to select only the lessons that matter most. I like to imagine that in five years’ time, when a person is asked if they remember who I was, that they will have only good things to say about me. One may call this goal unrealistic, but realism is overrated.

From the people like jocks I've learned that working hard pays off. There seems to be a negative connotation with the word, “jock. “Automatically, you probably imagined someone who dates only cheerleaders, bullies the nerds, and barely gets passing grades. However, that is not so. The word, “jock”; is overused in the way that it is used to describe even the most dedicated of athletes. Some of these athletes that I've come across may be called a jock when they're off the field because they like to have fun and play around. However, as soon as they're on the field, it's go time. It's time to focus and get their head in the game. From these athletes, I've learned that there are times when it's alright to take a break, and other times when I must dedicate my talents to helping the team.

Although I do not consider myself a very religious person, I do not reject religion entirely. The religious students that I've met at school are wonderful people, no different from you nor me. The only thing that sets them apart is that they simply have a different perspective on life. But these students fascinate me, though, because even when things get tough, they stick to what they believe in. They've taught me to hold on to my opinions and always remember what's important to me through thick and thin.

For through thick and thin, everyone wears a face when they are put in a different environment due to defensiveness and empathy. The people that can control their face perfectly are the drama kids. These are probably the most flexible and resilient kinds of people a person can meet. They are also some of the trickiest people to truly get to know, because they're so good at always playing a part. Nevertheless, the drama kids I've met are open-hearted people, who have taught me how to stay strong, or at least do a darn good job at faking it.

Next, beauty comes in many forms, one form being music. I am a vocalist and a previous choir kid myself, so bear with me if I come off as a little biased. Choir kids are very expressive, yet disciplined. They love to show off their talent, but love to always keep people guessing. A choir kid is also never just a choir kid, they're always so involved in so much more because they are versatile, which is required of any musician. Choir kids have taught me to be well rounded and always prepared to perform.

For the sake of time, I'm going to have to cut the next few short.
Band kids taught me to never underestimate the introverts, because they can hit all the right notes if you give them the chance. Artsy kids taught me to always be confident in my strokes, and that sometimes you have to improvise. The do nothing kids taught me that it's good to take a break and relax for a little bit in between always being up and at em.

So I've become the average of the people around me. I've taken the lessons that I've learned from my environment and used them to become the person that I want other people to see me as. I'm not just one person, I am many. I am a combination of hard work, faith and dedication, of ability, flexibility, and versatility. I am the element of surprise, the improvisational skill, and hesitation.

Being an individual is not being different from the people around you. It's being like them, just in your own way.

How I Am an Individual: Written By Anya Bouzida
I think I am unique as an individual because I am simply different...Need I say more?
Creativity enriches my life by giving me unique ideas in many different subjects to think about. I display creativity through art and theatre. Becoming someone other than yourself for even a little while is just a thrill.