Essay

Lamp

By Lucy Earl

Lamp:
/lamp/
noun
Any various devices for producing light or sometimes heat.

Lamp:
/lamp/
noun
An object of little to no importance to most people.

If I had known yesterday that the lamp would be moved, I wouldn’t have bothered to show up. I mean, it’s not just about the lamp. It’s the uneasy feeling that everything has changed. I left this room two months ago and I wanted it to stay exactly the same. I wanted to come back, have to slightly reposition my chair, and put my notebook on the table to my right. I wanted to watch the same crowd of people parade in, one after the other. But now the lamp is moved and everything else has changed with it.

Lamp:
/lamp/
noun
A physical representation of the impact of change on one particular individual.

The thing about communities is that they need constant maintenance and a level of consistency in order to survive. But, if those communities are left unattended for too long, then new people come in and start messing with it. Suddenly, the table is on the wrong side, there is a clock counting out our fleeting time together, the arms of my chair are covered with a different fabric, and the lamp is in the wrong place. But still, I am here.

Our time here is forever frozen in a collection of words
The cold echos of past moments
Still reverberating around the room

They have left their ghosts here for me to discover
My other anchors across the room
Slipping away from my hands
Taking the living, breathing moments down with them

Symphonies of laughter still seem to bounce around the walls
Fading away with every second ticked off by the clock
Tables look empty without the collection of juice boxes
And gummy wrappers slowly building up as the hours go by
The room looks empty and cold without the overflow of chairs and lives

I moved the lamp back
Placed the clock out of sight
Hid the fabric covers
Put the table on the right side
And waited.

  Lamp:
 /lamp
noun
A word, like most, that begins to sound incorrect the more often you say it.

Advertisements

Last Prompt Ever

By Thalia Medrano

I never saw Colorado skies until I walked out from the grotto of a beautiful old Denver Square house as the sun set orange and pink over the dingy low city skyline, where the frayed telephone wires cut dark black silhouettes just above the horizon. I had seen it before in a picture, taken somewhere else maybe, but the same view, and had always wished that the real world could look that way. And yet here I am, finding that picture come to life in the place I’d lived in long enough to grow bored of.

I never wanted to stay in Colorado. I still don’t want to stay in Colorado. But I’ll miss the sky. Maybe I’ll find skies somewhere else. Maybe I’ll find an ocean, a grey one in a drizzly little town somewhere where the sky isn’t as brilliant but it won’t matter because I’ll have the water for a sky. Maybe I’ll have a misty forest like the ones I found in Vermont.

I’ll miss the sky, but I’ll still leave, because I want a different ordinary. Someday, my ordinary will consist of:

  • Fire escapes
  • Acrylic paint
  • Lace curtains
  • A park with a good tree to climb
  • Open documents full of words that mean something
  • Worn in boots
  • Potted plants growing on the window sill
  • Pins
  • A room far off the ground
  • My new sky, be it a forest or ocean

But for the time being, a can appreciate my ordinary for the red walls, the dried flowers hanging from a string above the closet, the strange art from every corner of the world in every corner of our home, the blue, purple, and green trim, the creek behind my old elementary school, the bus on a rainy day, the large chair in the coffee shop, the parlor and the Denver Square house.

Atari Game

By Madeline Dean

Atari2600aAtari video games were once very popular—that’s for sure. But what will they be fifty, sixty years from now? Just a little black box, sitting in a junkyard. Assuming junkyards still exist fifty, sixty years from now. Maybe the world will become some kind of environmental utopia where everything is recycled, and the Atari game will broken into little tiny pieces, a part of everything but nothing itself.

 That can’t happen to writing. It can’t get broken up into little bits. Because, without choice or order, all writing becomes just words. A novel or a Shakespearean play becomes nothing but a dictionary.

So, that’s not to say dictionaries are nothing, but they are just a means to an end. And the end is the collection of all of those bits and pieces–English is a language of miscellany. Here’s a Latin word, and over there’s a Germanic one, and, together, they’re a symphony of emotion.

Itinerary for the Ordinary This Summer

By Madison Hart

Dearest Friend,

You’ve asked what my summer looks like. My summer will be an ordinary summer. But don’t think of the word ordinary and frown. Because I intend to make the ordinary extraordinary. I will turn rolling out of bed in the morning a party–for I have another day. I will turn brewing the coffee into a time of thanksgiving–for I have coffee to brew. I will take making an omelet and flip it into a competition against myself–just to see how perfect I can make it. A shower will become a luxurious cleansing underneath a waterfall. Getting in my car will become like boarding a space craft–for I am off to live adventures and meet new people. I will take my errands and treat them as if I’m on a countdown–for errands always need a little pizazz. I will take washing the dishes and turn it into a karaoke night–for music makes any task grander. I will take climbing into my sheets at night and turn it into a time to ponder my extraordinary day and my extraordinary tomorrow. So, you see, my summer will be extraordinary. Not because of what I do, but because of how I do it. What will your summer look like?

[YAC Responds: Thalia & Madison on What is the Purpose of Art in a Time of Crisis?]

[Thalia Medrano]

Is our world in crisis? I won’t lie, it seems to be, and if it isn’t now it will be soon. There’s no particular novelty to this crisis. We’re still dealing with the same old issues we’ve always dealt with, and finding more so called solutions the continue not to solve anything. And in 50 years I can’t help but imagine we’ll be right back here again.

img_5817I read somewhere that meaning comes from repetition; if something only happens once, it might as well have never happened at all. This is seen all the time in the context of religion. How many times have you heard someone say, “If there’s no life after death, what’s the point of living?”

But I say that meaning isn’t rooted in repetition or continuation, and is instead found in change and rarity. And in a time when we are facing the same old issues we always have, we have to seek out something new. Hope comes from possibility, from creation. There’s no value to a world that can’t change.

So remember that we aren’t stuck, there is possibility in everything. History isn’t doomed to repeat itself so long as we keep creating. And there’s no wealth of creation and possibility like art.  

[Madison Hart]

When walls are built and curtains drawn. When the human soul masks its pain. When all the world seems enraged. When the only hues are black and gray. It is then that hearts long for and even needs a splash of color breaking through the rain. The art of hurt is so easily displayed on canvas, paper and a window pane. It is here where mortal enemies bond together as they share one thing in common, despair. When we realize that we’re not all that different, we fall to our knees and humbly exclaim, “we are brothers, we are sisters, let us stand.” This revelation explodes. A country landscape, a colorful myriad of tiles, a poem for the soul, a bench to sit and observe. So, that when the walls crash down and the curtain is torn. When a soul is released from unthinkable pain. When all the world seems peacefully sane. It is then that we see the black hues turn to cherry blossoms and gray’s turn to rainbow sunsets. Then we sit on the bench, the bench with the placard that says, “to my brothers and sisters with whom I stood tall, we made the walls fall.”

[YAC Responds: Aiyana & Christian on What is the Purpose of Art in a Time of Crisis?]

[Aiyana Spear]

I believe that art doesn’t need a purpose. To do art, all you need is the drive to do it. But in times of crisis, art is one of the most valuable tools out there that can help people.

When I’m scared, I turn to stories. When I’m feeling hopeless, I turn to words. My sister turns to music, my friends turn to comics, movies, shows, watercolors, calligraphy, and (of course) books. In class when we are discussing tough topics, we always take breaks and do drawing competitions or lip sync battles.

img_5816Happiness, love, hope are the most important things that can help a person through a crisis. Art creates these emotions. Stories help to ground, help make sense of seemingly incomprehensible things. Music can bring peace and stability. Movies, shows, provide escape, painting is peace. All forms of art are works of love, and that love, that power, can help people get through crises, get through hell.

[Christian Wilson]

If you’re stranded in the middle of the forest with a Rembrandt, don’t be afraid to use that priceless son of a gun as kindling in a fire. One of the most common deaths when stranded in the wilderness is hypothermia, and if you can’t get a fire going, you will get sick and you will die. Remember, Van Gogh used to use burn his paintings for warmth and if an artistic master has no qualms about setting artistic masterpieces aflame, then you shouldn’t either. Even if the only reason you’re holding the authentic oil on canvas painting is so you can auction it off to a shady group of Russian oligarchs, remember that despite its acclaim, The Night Watch is not worth your life. Although, given the fact that that painting is twelve by eleven feet, you could probably also the canvas as a tent. While you lay awake at night, wondering if you will die in the untameable Scandinavian wilderness, you can also study the intentional strokes made by one of the greatest painters that ever lived. Art students across the globe have studied every tiny intricacy of the famous tarp that could shield you from the harsh elements. To me, that’s real prestige.

I Hate Crushes But I Like You, Part Three: Charles. Or, It Gets Worse.

by Ellen Huggins

So, I was questioning my coolness last time, right? You think things have improved since then? Read on.

I have a friend, who I’ve known all the way back to the 5th grade, who I’ve always known I’m cooler than. It was a constant in my life.

Wow, I have braces but at least I’m cooler than Charles.

Yikes, I had a kidney stone like an old man or that troll from “Frozen,” but I’m still cooler than Charles.

I can’t run the mile in gym but Charles a dweeb.

My friend’s name is Charles, by the way.

Anyway, I was talking to Charles the other day in front of the school, waiting for my mom to pick me up, (i know, cool) and I asked him about his love life. I asked him, “So, Charles, have you ever been on a date before?” Why did I ask? I don’t know. I was feeling insecure and needed a picker-upper. I expected the response of “d-d-d-d-d-d-date? with a-a-a-a-a-a girl???” or at least a hand across the forehead to signify uncomfortable sweating.

“I actually have a girlfriend,” he told me. “I’ve had a girlfriend for the past year, and I had one in freshman year, too. So yeah, I’ve been on plenty of dates.”

I had been hit. With a bat or the truth, I couldn’t tell. They both probably hurt equally.

Charles was cooler than me. He was wearing a “knowledge is power” t-shirt and smelled like b.o. but he was getting more action than me?? He asked me, “So have you?”

I lied, of course, but when he left, probably to make out with this apparent girlfriend who I later found was a girl I just thought was just his very close friend who liked to touch him a lot, I was still in shock. And why is it “cute” for guys to be sensitive, wear childish graphic Ts, and have braces, but when I do all those things, guys still don’t like me? I watch “Bridget Jones Diary” all the time, and I love puppies, and I’m still hurt that my friends didn’t like my Hannah Montana group costume idea for Halloween, but apparently this is still not good enough for boys.

What do you want?

I mean, I’m very confused. From what I’ve seen in movies about boys, they love the really hot girls who have huge boobs and wear jean shorts. I can do the jean shorts thing, but everything else, man, that’s just genetics. That seems to be how boys like girls, but in movies where the protagonist is a girl who’s just average, somehow a moderately okay boy seems to like her just fine! I’m starting to believe that this whole ‘boys pursuing girls’ thing is just an urban myth, because look at One Direction, Justin Bieber, any male celebrity really.  Do you see how 13 year old girls follow these guys around like the reason they are alive is to worship them. How the ancient grecians used to sacrifice goats at the altars of Zeus, and Hera, these girls are sacrificing their family cats at the altars of Chris Hemsworth and Alex from Target. Why do you think that cute boys, who have no talent other than being attractive, have hordes of girls who follow them no matter what they do? It’s because there is a severe shortage of boys that want to date average girls. I believe that they are an urban myth. I mean, don’t get me wrong, boys have the capacity do have to girls attractive. But just insanely hot women.

The other day in history class, all the boys collectively agreed that the blonde girl from “Transformers” (NOT Megan Fox) is the hottest woman alive. I looked her up, and can I say it? I don’t see it. I know, that’s coming from me, but the absolute hottest? I couldn’t even pick the hottest woman alive. I would have to know her personality. Because I’m not like a boy, and I don’t think of girls like hunks of MEAT!!!! Sorry, that might have been kind of unfair.

Epilogue

This is Ellen from the future. I’m re-reading this now later and I just feel like this whole crush thing is stupid. It fluctuates, kinda like herpes. Right now, I can’t see why I was freaking out.

This is Ellen from the future of the future. It’s back. I really do like Asparagus. I completely disagree with the past-future Ellen and agree with the past Ellen. Asparagus looks nice in sweaters, and strangely enough I feel like his choice of backpack is one of the best things about him.

The crush is back.

Dear Young Writer

by Morgan Sutton

To the adolescent writer:

You do not have to be tragic. Tragic things may happen to you, or tragic things may not happen to you, but you do not need to be a tragic person.

They say, Van Gogh was Sad and so he was an artist. They say, Sylvia Plath was Sad so she became a poet, but poetry did not heal her, and she killed herself, anyway.

Do not think, “if I am to write I must be sad.” Do not think, “it is much more poetic to be tragic, to be deadly.” Your mother, she cries because she thinks that you are so, so talented. But she cannot bring herself to encourage you, because you insist that you must be sad, must feel hopeless, in order to write.  (more…)

Some Advice

[MATURE]

by Ellen Huggins

The best advice that I can give to a young person is: never get chubby.

Never let it happen to you, because it really does really really BLOW.

One reason why you should never get chubby, is that then you won’t have all these thoughts  about it that you can never really talk to anybody about, because you’re so afraid that you’re not going to hearing other people’s opinions will make you feel so much worse, so then you have to write a  so nobody can interrupt you and then you don’t have to write something awkward like this that you have to read aloud to 20 people.

I used to be so skinny. Like ridiculously skinny.  I remember looking in the mirror and saying dear god am I  skinny and dear god I am happy about that. I was so skinny, I used to make fun of fat people. I remember picking up a book at the book fair in the seventh grade, called How to Lose 5 Inches Fast and turning to my two friends and saying “Hey look, how stupid is this?” And then tried to make a double chin, but I was too skinny at that point to make one so I just pushed out my stomach like I was pregnant. Looking back at this experience, at the weight I am now, with the level of human kindness and decency that seem to have sky rocketed in the past few years, all I have to say to my past self is F*CK YOU. If I was at that bookfair right now, I would probably be straight up putting that book on my Amazon wish list. How did it all of this happen?  (more…)

I Hate Crushes But I Like You, Part Two: Let’s Talk About Me Talking About Asparagus

by Ellen Huggins

Where did we leave off? Oh, yeah, I’d told Asparagus that his hair looked like it was crafted by Jesus. And then we didn’t talk to each other for the rest of the year. Or the year after that.

But the fall of my junior year, my crush broke out like the acne on my forehead.

No longer abstract, but very real and very hard to get rid of. Asparagus now sits in front of me in Biology and I hate it. I honestly don’t want to be within five feet of him at any given time because I don’t know what to do with my hands and I get kinda sweaty, and that makes me feel like  maybe he can smell my sweat and then I get so nervous, I sweat even more. And then I try to slyly smell my armpits just to make sure that they don’t reek — even though, how will that help anything? —  and then he turns around to pass back papers, and he sees me smelling my armpits.   

And can I just say that this is embarrassing to write about? It’s fine in my head because I can usually think in my own head without the judgement of myself. But when you write it down thinking, this is normal and fine and I feel great about telling people that I’m sorry, I don’t really know on a deep, personal level, the truth about the thing that basically consumes my life to the point where I’m not quite sure what to do with my time because I like this boy so much. And if anyone reading this or listening to this is thinking oh god, she is so boy crazy she’s ridiculous, this is honestly the most immature thing i’ve ever read, yikes! she is kind of pathetic, then I’m sorry. If I had to rate this from most to least fun feeling that I’ve ever experienced, I would put this near the middle. Do you think that this is fun?? It’s definitely not, because I’m legitimately embarrassed and I’m sorry.

I’m so sorry and I don’t know if I particularly love writing about this, but this is better than writing a song about it and performing it at the talent show. Because I was going to do that.

I wrote something along the lines of, “Am I too pudgy / is that why you dont like me / I’m sorry / I’m just a very big fan of pastries / because eclairs are better than those awkward stares / and I’d rather have cheesecake then pretend like you care.” And I pretty much spelled out exactly who “Asparagus” was. I actually think there was a part where I said something I liked about him for every letter of his name.

So, he would find out if I did that. Which, a part of me wants to happen, you know? A part of me wants to find out so I can just get the rejection over with already. I’d rather have that happen then have whatever is happening right now continue. Would that be worse? And what would even happen if he did like me back? Would he take me out on a date? Where? Where do people go on dates? For some reason swimming pools are the only destination that’s coming up, but I think I’m thinking of pool parties.  

But I really don’t think that he would ever want to date me, because I went to his work over the summer, which I feel is actually incredibly weird considering we’ve never actually talked in the past,I mean we have talked (i.e the discussion of hair on the bus) but we’ve never TALKED, and this lack of communication might be  foreshadowing my future as a stalker.

So my friend and I planned out a specific date and time, when we knew that he would be working, to go to Savers. That  morning, I decide to wear a Hawaiian shirt. Maybe to spark old memories for him? To remember me from Spanish class? I can just tell you know that whatever attention-getting stunt I was trying to pull then didn’t work in freshman year, and it didn’t work this time.

And I was pumped. I was nervous too, but I was so prepared at the same time. I felt like every formal, waiting to get asked to dance, every well placed glance in the hallway, every quiz in Tiger Beat on ‘Who My Perfect Boyfriend Would Be’, it all happened for a reason, to build up to emphasis how important this moment was. This was going to be real. Really real! Then I had this moment of clarity. What was I doing? I was going to be speaking, like, words. To Asparagus. Not meaningful glances, not quizzes, no more waiting, but I was actually going to do something. And what was this grand gesture, to say hi? Then what? What happens after that? I had planned to say, “Oh hey Asparagus, I can’t believe you work here!” And what was he going to say back,  “Yes, I do.”? That’s it. That is the end of the conversation. Then I’ll smile, and nod and say “Okay, well, see you in two months for school!” and then I’ll just leave? That’ll be it? Is this worth it? Is he worth it? What if he says to his friends, “That Huggins girl said hi to me at work, and it was so awkward. What a lame-o.” Well, he probably wouldn’t say lame-o, I think in 2015 only lame-os say lameo-o. Okay, no need to get ahead of yourself, Ellen. Just go in there, and when the moment is right, you will know what to do! Broccoli and I  rode the light rail and that whole time I was thinking, this is it. Goodbye, my past self, this is the new frontier. I can sleep tonight knowing that I am a changed girl,nay, WOMAN, who faced her fears, and my journey into that abyss of romance ended with me getting a very promising potential chance at actually dating someone, or, possibly, if it all goes wrong, have my self esteem go past it’s current position at rock bottom, and hit subterranean levels. When I asked my friend if I should be nervous, she shrugged and said, “I really don’t think that you  have anything to lose, but you definitely don’t have anything to gain” With that attitude, we walked up to the Savers.

If I could pinpoint the exact time that I knew that I had made a terrible mistake, I think it was in hour two. Asparagus had already passed us at least eight times, moving kiddies pools around from the register to the back of the store, which is where I was standing. I remember that I was in between the erotic novels and the teapots, and I was completely petrified. I couldn’t do anything. And my friend was no help, she stood near the VHS’s and kept her head down, and every time I tried to talk to her she mumbled how ‘she didn’t even really want to come’ and said, “Ellen, just talk to him so we can leave, I have to be home soon.” Okay, now this was too much. I came here to find love, and now there are scheduling restraints? And the chances of me actually finding that ‘love’ became less by the minute because what was I going to do, tap him on his shoulder and say “I was looking at this teapot in the shape of a goose, and browsing your wonderful erotica collection for the better part of two hours, and it just now struck me to say, ‘Oh hey, Asparagus, I can’t believe you work here!” Everything was falling apart, my supposed support system, my supposed romance. I felt like a piece of popcorn kernel stuck on a tooth. I really wanted to go home too, but at the same time I just had to stay for a reason that I can’t really describe. Was I really going to do anything? Probably not, but maybe.Eventually my friend and I walked out the door, but that maybe was still nagging. I felt like I missed something and I couldn’t just leave. After all that? No, something had to happen, good or bad.Here’s the thing about Savers, it has a dock on the side that people drop stuff off at, and the employees move it from there into the store. Specifically, Asparagus, Asparagus was out there. Well, I thought, this has got to be some kind of sign.That the universe wants us to together so much, it is  giving me a slim second chance to talk to him. I turned to Broccoli. This was our dialogue.

Me:  “I have to talk to him.” Her: “Okay, Go talk to him.” Me: “Can you come with me?” I really need you there with me.” Her: “No. You can go and embarrass yourself, but I am not involved in this.” Me: “Why do you always have to do this? Why can’t you ever just support me? Not everything is about you.” Her: “I came out here to do this with you, I never said that I would talk to him. If I talked to him with you, he might think that I have a crush on him.” Me: “That is ridiculous and you know it.”

The stress was getting to us, there was just too much tension. I should’ve taken whatever shred of dignity I had left, and walked away right then, but come on! Showing up to a guy’s work that you have a crush on just to talk to him, that’s one thing, but showing up to a guy that you have a crush on work and not saying anything? That was just a step too far, even for me. Broccoli  and I calmed down and brainstormed ways I could approach him. “Okay,” she said. “I have an idea. This is a donation place, right?” “Right.” “So donate something. Go up to him, right now, hand him something you want to donate, and then walk away, super natural.” “Alright.” I said, so desperately wanting to talk to him I didn’t care how idiotic the pretenses were. “But I don’t have anything to donate.” I looked around in my backpack. But all  I could find was a banana, and a book, that I had been reading on the Light Rail. “That’s perfect,” my friend told me. “What, this book?” “Yes, just walk up to him and give it to him!”
“But,” I argued, “I like this book.” “I hate that book,” Broccoli asserted. “And I own it. You can have my copy of it, after you give yours to him.  Just go, and get it over with.” This dock at the side of the store, where Asparagus was moving things, was where people dropped off huge boxes full of old junk, recliners, bed frames,  and enormous piles of clothes. My plan was going to walk up to him, with a single book in my hands, handing it to him, without a word, and walking away. There was no doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t not think about how weird this act was, but at least he would be thinking about me, right?

I’m on the move. I take one step out into the emptiness of the parking lot. This is one of those moments where your entire life flashes before your eyes, your first day of school, losing your last baby tooth, your little brother being born. And, as corny as this might sound,  I could feel everything shifting, like a train switching tracks. My future was moving a little to the left, and I knew everything was  going to turn out differently. Maybe he would take me to the prom. Maybe he and I could get lockers side my side. Maybe I could meet his mom, and she would say, “I must’ve raised you right, Asparagus, because that girl is something else!” Maybe…. SHIT, he saw me. I duck behind a car, and I squat-run all the way out of the parking lot, down the street, and onto the Light Rail.

That epic saga of events is the thing that keeps me up at night. And I now I have to always remain on the good side of Broccoli, because if I don’t, she has plenty of good of blackmail material against me.

I don’t know, but you know what, Beyonce doesn’t write her own songs. I don’t know if that relates to anything, but i feel like it’s important to remember that you can’t do everything. Bey is an amazing singer, actress, performer, and mom but is she not a writer. And that’s not her fault. just like how it’s not really my fault that I am being ridiculous. Maybe I am just a ridiculous person. Honestly, I wouldn’t put it past me. I’ve been questioning my coolness. Its existence mostly. Am I cool? That’s something I legitimately wonder sometimes. I still listen to the Jonas Brothers. Do I have subpar coolness levels? Or am I so exponential, that like Mario Kart, my competitors are so far behind me that’s the reason I don’t see anyone at my level?

But what’s more likely is that I pass someone, and think wow I’m cooler than them, when really I’m three laps behind and am in 13th place? That’s the deal with this love thing!!!! You think I’m joking? Wait, it gets worse.