Category Archives: Writings by Students

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Good Morning and Goodbye

Good Morning and Goodbye
Bobby Bruce
Waking up to coffee aromas on any morning is my preferred way of waking up. Throw in his wonderful cooking, and it was perfect. Sometimes I could see the steam from his delicious cooking come through my floor vent from the kitchen underneath. In the morning, he always had our favorite radio talk show on, and we’d laugh the morning away.
I had to be up early that morning, I knew that getting adequate sleep was important, but I never liked getting up at seven on a Saturday. In fact, I hated it. Not to mention, how bad I was to get myself up, but he said he’d wake me up. The thing is, he didn’t wake me up that morning, there was no coffee brewing, no radio booming, and no steam rising from my vent.
Maybe he overslept too…
My room started upstairs, in a loft. The stairs are a steep journey, but a journey well worth. At the bottom of the steps were two doors. One to the outside and the other for the bathroom. Our bathroom was never pretty; best to leave it undescribed. Our house was shared by guys, so you can guess it wasn’t always the cleanest. Our kitchen, cluttered with dishes, was pretty average. Sink, stove, fridge, but it did have the boombox, which we’d jam out with on nights where he wasn’t tired. Our kitchen, dining room and living room were all connected. From the dining room, you were like an all seeing eyeball. Yeah, our house was tiny, but with all of us together, it didn’t matter. We made the best of it every day. We had the most fun in our living room. We didn’t have cable or internet, so our TV time consisted of rentals and Friends marathons. My favorite thing was that he would always make the tastiest popcorn. Some could say, that this was my happy place. Not anymore.
That morning, last October, was eerily cold, heck, maybe he forgot to turn the heat on as well. October wasn’t as cold to him as it was to us, and the old fart was getting more forgetful. I walked into the quiet kitchen to see my brother preparing to go. We both had to be gone by eight, so we could make it to Bemidji for Upward Bound, a college prep program, by nine. We didn’t want to keep Jada waiting. I didn’t honestly think I had the time or effort to make food, so gas station food sounded pretty swell. I didn’t want to bother waking up my youngest brother, Adam. He would see me later. I did decide to go wake up dad and wish him farewell, maybe even give him a little crap for not waking me up. Matt told me he was in the living room hunched over the couch. What did that mean?
My dad was well renowned for his awkward sleeping positions and his terribly bad snoring. But dad’s knees were bad. Why was he sitting like that? I knew he wasn’t asleep, based on the fact that his snoring was nonexistent. Maybe he was stretching. He liked to stretch. Or, maybe he was just waiting for me to scratch his back. He loved it when I did that. . When I made it to the living room, I got the vibe that something was terribly wrong.
Very weird.
It didn’t feel right, leaving him like that, so I asked him if he needed some help getting back on the couch. After about five seconds of silence, he said yeah. Silly dad. Why does he need my help? Maybe he is in some sort of deep sleep, like those episodes people have when they sleep talk and interact quite well. Coming from my dad, I’d expect it. But he was awake… I knew that much. I started to lift him back onto the couch, except he wasn’t using any effort; none at all. That’s when I called Matt in from the kitchen to come help me hoist our large father back to a comfortable spot. He is a big guy. I was proud that we lifted him up. Then I took a second to observe my strangely limp father. His left arm, we accidently got it smushed under him. In any normal situation he would have yelped. I mean, it did look to be in a pretty painful spot. Matt helped him put it into a comfortable place. Dad must have really been tired to be acting like this. What was going on?
We could hear Jada pull into the driveway, and that’s when we said our goodbyes. I have a rule that comes to hugging. I prefer a person to use two hands when they hug. My dad knew that. But when I hugged him, he didn’t hug back. I looked at him straight in the eyes. His eyes were not focusing on mine. I told him that I loved him. I dont think it registered to him right away. But in a slurred speech, he said it back. Then Matt hugged him, and we left. When I walked out that front door, I felt sick. Something was terribly wrong.I knew that because of the staleness that wouldn’t leave my mouth. We hopped into Jada’s car and started to drive off. We explained to Jada what just happened; the condition my father was in. The thing she told me made my heart sink.
“Call your mom, it sounds like your dad is having a stroke.”
The next week was the hardest, most stressful week of my life, and that scenario of me waking up and seeing dad that way played like an endless record, haunting every second of my existence. Why didn’t I see it sooner? Was I that stubborn to see my own father was in pain? He now only has use of the right side of his body. He thinks slower and will hardly look people in the eyes. His hugs, still warm and cuddly, are one armed, but for him, I make an exception to my rule. I still blamed myself for not getting him help sooner. Somedays, I still catch myself blaming it all on me. The pain I felt, the pain I still feel, stays bottled up and locked away. It aches. But, we move on.
If dad would have been healthy, maybe none of this would have happened. We’d still be a happy family. I would still be able to visit him every weekend and have him take care of me, instead of me taking care of him. I miss the serious side of my father, the big scary guy. I miss his guidance; his wise words. That side of him died after the stroke, never to be found again. He still has his humor though. I still have him. He still hugs me, holds me and tells me he loves me. Except I feel as if our roles have flopped. I tuck him in at night and wish him sweet dreams, just like he used to for me. It’s as if I am fathering him; keeping him out of trouble. It’s not so bad. At least I still have him… But… I miss him…
I thank God I still have him.. I look at his silly grin when we drink coffee, and it makes me happy. Some mornings when I play our favorite radio talk show, I’ll make him breakfast and we will sit and talk about the dumbest things like a father and son are supposed to do. It makes me feel better. I had a lot of time to look back on what happened and located the facts. Dad had bad health. I knew that. But I was so blind. Blind enough to forget all warning signs. It’s all weird to think about. I try to ignore it as I sip my coffee and chit chat with my best buddy; my hero.

Posted in Writings by Students

Still Smiling

Strong. Webster’s defines it as an adjective, “having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks,” or “able to withstand great force or pressure .”Everyone has struggles and trials in their life.But the challenges we face do not mean we can’t go on. They simply mean we must discover how we truly handle stress. Then we change because of what we have accomplished. But the only way to get through these rough times is to not only stand firm in what we believe but to also be strong in who we are.
I sit by my mother’s bedside, the dim light of the bedside lamp giving off an eerie light in the dark of the night. My grandmother leans over my mother, carefully and gently washing the stitches along her spine. I turn my eyes to my mother’s face. Her eyes are squeezed shut and her lip is caught between her teeth as she breathes quickly.I was sure she would cry; I surely would. Having surgery on your spine to fix two discs and then to wake up and find you had nerve damage due to a doctor’s slip of the hand, would have left me in a puddle of my own tears. I look away. She doesn’t make a sound, but I know she wants to.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “A woman is like a tea-bag, you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Roosevelt was right, in many ways, however not only women are like tea-bags. All people naturally keep a barrier between themselves and others. We use this “wall” to keep ourselves from entering situations that make us uncomfortable or puts us in danger. But what happens when someone or something breaks that wall, and you’re left exposed? This is what Eleanor was referring to as the “hot water.” The hot water is any powerful or intense situation that requires you to show your true self and how much you can withstand. Each person’s threshold is different.
My grandmother moves and begins to help my mother sit up, often a lengthy and tearful process. Tonight I move to help, putting one arm gently under my mother’s side and waiting. I watch as she takes three deep breaths, and then holds the fourth as she begins to move. My grandmother and I steady her, and help her to a sitting position on the bed. She breathed heavily, clutching the bedspread as her life support.
“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t,” stated Rikki Rogers. Strength isn’t always defined by how many bench presses you can do, or how much weight a person can lift. Sometimes being strong means getting through the rough times, like losing a loved one or getting in an accident. Strength can come from the little things in life too, like finishing a paper you never thought you would, or getting an A on a math test you were sure you failed. All of these things, although they are tough to endure, make you stronger in the end.
My grandmother holds my mother’s hand, steadying her as my mother slowly stands. Her hand grips my grandmother’s like a vice, her fingers wrapped so tightly around her hand, I wasn’t sure if she was cutting off circulation. Slowly, they walked towards the bathroom, my mother limping and stopping every few steps to catch her breath. But my mother never stopped trying. She kept pushing forward in the coming months, getting better day by day. As Mary J. Blige said, “There’s so many things that life is, and no matter how many breakthroughs, trials will exist and we’re going to get through it. Just be strong.”

After a year, I noticed my mother smiled more often. Somehow she still smiled after all she had been through. She still limped, and she could no longer work at her job at the hospital. But her outlook on life did not change. She still loved her garden, and she continued to bake every day. She didn’t let a setback in her life stop her from living. She picked up from where she left off, and she made do with what she had.She showed me what it meant to be resilient; she defined strong.

Work Cited
“Mary J. Blige Quotes.” BrainyQuote. Xplore. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield, MA:
Merriam-Webster, 2003. Print.

“Richard Rogers Quotes.” BrainyQuote. Xplore. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

“Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes.” BrainyQuote. Xplore. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

“Famous Quotes.” BrainyQuote. Xplore. Web. 7 Nov. 2015.

Posted in Writings by Students

Everything’s Gonna Be Alright

The first week of high school. It’s filled with fear and anticipation. Most of us have or will experience this feeling at one time or another. But as we find out, things usually turn out okay.
I was feeling pretty good as I came home off the bus that friday, my first official week of freshman year completed successfully without any mishaps. Everything was going to be okay, I had thought. The sun was still bright in the sky and I could feel its warmth on my arms as I reached for the key and unlocked the front door. I could already hear the chorus of my mother’s three small dogs, ankle biters some people like to call them, as I turned the key in the lock. I opened the door and was met by a swarm of wiggling tails, fluffy ears and wet tongues.
Closing the door behind me, I set my backpack already filled with homework onto the porch floor. Sighing, I walked into the kitchen and filled one of mom’s clear plastic cups with water before walking into the well-lit living room where my mom was sitting in a lazy-boy recliner reading her daily newspaper.
“Hey mom,” I said unenthusiastically. She looked up from the newspaper and smiled.I see her face already showing laugh lines and wrinkles, yet still looking like the same mom I’ve always known.
“Hey honey, how was school?” she asked, setting her newspaper aside on the small side table.
“Good, but I have homework.” I mumbled, spitting the word homework out %like it was taboo.
Mom laughed, “I know what we should do then, let’s go riding. That will cheer you up. Go get the horses saddled up, I’ll be right out.” Practically running, I tugged on my riding boots and bolted out the door, not bothering to stop for a helmet or gloves. I slowed myself down as I got out toward the barn and finally reached the pasture. I was greeted by the *sound of sixteen thundering hooves, and for those of us who are bad at math, that means four horses. I pushed open the rough wooden barn door, faded with age and weather. I grabbed two halters from the nails on the wall, one blue and one pink. I stepped back out into the afternoon light and pushed open the gate.
“You guys, move out of the way, honestly.” I waved my arms to signal to the horses to back up from the gate as I tried in vain to open it successfully. I finally pushed my way through and got into the paddock.
“Shasta, Apollo, come here.” I said, in hopes Magick and Dancer, would somehow understand that they weren’t being fed like they thought. I quickly slipped the pink halter onto the mare, Shasta, my mother’s somewhat short horse. She was a lovely chestnut color, with a golden mane and tail. She dipped her head down, resting it on my shoulder as I slipped the buckle into the third hole of her halter. I quickly snapped a lead rope onto the small hoop at the bottom and then walked over to Apollo. Apollo was my newest horse, a slightly taller gelding, and a stunning golden color over his entire body like a sunflower, with a white mane and tail. His eyes were a deep chocolate brown filled with kindness.
“It’s okay boy, I’m just gonna put this halter on, and we are gonna go for a little ride.” I murmured before gently sliding it onto his nose and over his ears. I snapped another lead rope onto Apollo’s halter and led the two horses out, quickly turning around after making sure they were clear of the gate to keep the other two in. As we walked to the trailer sitting beside the barn, the other two horses nickered to their friends as if they may never see them again. I finally reached the trailer and I tied the horses to the bright red hooks, one on each end. I efficiently tied slip knots that could easily be undone in case a horse spooked or fell as I had been taught. As I walked back to the barn to grab the grooming kit, I saw my mother appear from around the corner of the house, her ankle biters trailing behind her.
I walked into the barn and grabbed the grooming kit from a shelf on the dusty, cobweb infested barn wall and walked back to the horses. When I returned, mom was already busy getting tack, which was all the saddles and bridles, and setting it out on the ground beside the horses. Quickly, she set about her routine of saddling and bridling her horse. I watched her with awe as I often did, amazed at how little effort it seemed to take her as her hands, worn with years of work and beginning to succumb to arthritis on cold days, somehow tied those small knots and put every buckle in its place. I watched as she so nimbly lifted her saddle and flung it on her horse’s back, her small, short frame greatly outsized in width by the saddle yet so easily she seemed to handle it with grace. I quickly did the same, saddling and bridling Apollo. Mom looked nervous as I unhooked him from the trailer and placed my foot in the stirrup.
“Maybe I should just lead you around first, we don’t really know him that well yet,” she stated as she stroked Shasta’s face, her fingers knotting in her mane.
“Okay, just untie his leadrope.” I nodded to the rope now dangling from the hook where he had been tied. She undid the rope and snapped it back onto Apollo’s halter and led us away to the west pasture, where there were no horses. As she opened the steel bar gate, and let the chain fall, Apollo spooked, jumping to the side. I grasped the horn of my saddle, and quickly pulled back on my reins. He quieted quickly and I let him stand for a few minutes to relax before I urged him forward into the pasture. Mom walked at a fast pace beside us, with the rope dangling loosely from her hands. Her dogs ran freely around us, sniffing the old piles of dung and they occasionally ran off to chase imaginary squirrels.I smelled the sweet late summer air, the smell of leather, polish, and the scent of grain and hay surronding me.As we circled the pasture for the third time, the sun was starting to wane and I was beginning to think I could go on my own soon. As one of my mother’s dog sprinted past, it ran right beneath Apollo’s stomach. He spooked, his hind feet going into the air and sending me soaring from my saddle. All I could think mid-flight was “Land on your side, protect your head.” And I did just that. Unfortunately, this also led to my arm snapping. I knew as soon as I hit the ground that it was broke, the familiar sting made me cradle it close to my body as I rolled onto my back, the memories of previous broken bones flooding my mind; my right arm twice, my tail bone, and my right ankle. I could taste the dirt in my mouth. But that was momentarily forgotten as I tried to sit up to watch Apollo and my mother as she struggled to contain him, as he reared, bucked and finally she lost her grip and he galloped from the pasture and my sights.
Soon my mother’s voice came into my consciousness, and she ran to my side.
“Everything is gonna be okay, Emily, where does it hurt? Your arm? Can you move?” Tears started to roll down her cheeks, as I’m sure she blamed herself for what had just happened. The tears roll down her face, slipping into the wrinkles and nooks and crannies. I took a deep breath and sat up, pain shooting from my arm and right knee. I looked down at my arm for the first time and noticed it was crooked and bent like a broken crayon.My mother’s hands reach out to steady me. I was grateful then more than ever for their strength as she supported me. By this time my father had driven the van out to the pasture, as he had heard my mom yelling and saw the horse running riderless. My parents helped me stand and climb gingerly into the car.
As my father buckled me in, his large, rough, calloused hands struggling with the seat belt, I suddenly remembered the horse.
I watched my mother gently walk up to Apollo, running her hands gently along his neck before firmly grasping the lead rope. I watched her walk him back to the trailer and unsaddle him, take off his bridle and then lead him back into the pasture and let him go.
I started to think back to what had just happened as I wait for my mother to walk back to the van. Apollo spooked when one of the dog’s ran underneath of him. My best guess is he had at one point been bitten by a dog, and he now was afraid of them. I didn’t blame him for his past experiences. But I knew now that because of what had just happened mom wasn’t going to be happy, and he wasn’t going to work for us. We almost always rode with the dogs, and if Apollo was afraid of them, he would need to find a new home.
My mom climbed into the back of the van and slid the door shut, her body sagged into the seat. My dad put the van in drive and headed for the hospital. My mother looked older now with worry. I studied her in the rearview mirror on the drive into town. The lines in her face seemed more defined somehow, and her hands shook slightly as she grasped the seat belt next to her chest. No parent wants to see their child get hurt. She had always been strong for me, but as we pulled into the hospital drive through and the nurses appeared to help me to the nearest emergency room bed I saw tears welling in her eyes again. Now it was my turn to be strong for my mother.
I looked at my arm again as the nurses started to move around me, probing. I winced as they reached my knee, which I would later learn was sprained, and yelped when they went to put a thermometer on my broken middle finger. I hadn’t felt the pain of my finger through the pain of my arm. As I sat waiting for the x-rays, I smiled. I may be in pain now, but I knew everything was going to alright. My arm would heal, and I would be back to riding in no time. My mom walked in and asked how I was doing, looking with worry at my swollen arm.
“I’m gonna be alright, mom.” I said, smiling up at her. Her face relaxed, looking more like the mom I was used to. Her returning smile told me more than anything that I would be more than okay, I would be ready for anything.

Posted in Writings by Students

I am a Slave to the Writing Process

Writers should write for themselves. I’ve stated this many times to my peers and teachers alike. Although writers may write to entertain others, it is still for themselves. They like to know someone picked up their work and gave it the time of the day. They like to know someone took their work and laid down in bed with it for a few minutes. They like to know young adults gab about the characters in their story. And they like to know someone spent a buck or two. Writers write for themselves. They write for the inner satisfaction. That is why I am not a writer and why my writing process isn’t sincere.
I do not sit around and fantasize about a character who must go on a quest. I do not conjure up a magical world in which an amazing, epic journey takes place. I get up at 6 AM, shower, drive to school, go to my classes, attend drama practice, do homework, eat something, and go to bed. I live in reality.
When I come to school every morning, I sit down in the commons and check my schedule for the week. My head is full of spinning, groggy nonsense. I usually just sit there and think of nothing but the ensuing doom that is the work load I will receive throughout the day. And I do receive it. Worksheets and projects and papers galore. So much I could dump it on the ground, out of my folders, and recreate a whole tree out of it. I could give a tree life again. I could restore the natural order.
And I work so hard. I work so, so hard.
For one thing.

College . . .

I work so hard for more schooling. A harder education. Four more years of it, to be exact. I spend all my time striving for the green light to attend a university that will send me spiraling into financial debt. This whole process just seems so redundant.
If I had it my way, maybe I would go to college. From my classes, I would learn how to speak really clean Spanish. Meanwhile, I would be working and saving my money. Then, once I got out of college, I would take a train down to South America and evade my student loans. I would change my name and spend my days living a carefree, open-minded life, working in some trash hole restaurant, where the kitchens were stained with grease, but the food was authentic. I could rise in the morning, greeted by the mild sun. The wind would blow on my tanned skin. Maybe I would just keep traveling from place to place. Perhaps I would meet friends in every country and I could stay with them when I visit, if they were so gracious. Maybe I’d lose weight. Maybe. That all certainly sounds like a great novel. But I don’t daydream. And I’m not a writer. So forget that.

That’s what I would do. If I could do it.
But I can’t.
Like I said, I live in reality.

So, I get up at 6 AM, shower, drive to school, go to my classes, attend drama practice, do homework, eat something, and go to bed. So I pump out papers endlessly in the hopes I will pull through the school year with good grades to impress my family and my peers and my teachers. And so I will apply to a nice college and attend classes there. I will work endlessly to pay back my student loans.
Writers should write for themselves. I write for others. Although writers may write to entertain others, it is still for themselves. Although I may write to entertain others, it’s really just to impress them. Writers like to know someone picked up their work and gave it the time of the day. I like to know a teacher picked up my work and graded it in a timely manner. Writers like to know someone took their work and laid down in bed with it for a few minutes. I like to know a teacher checked off all the appropriate boxes I was required to fill. Writers like to know young adults gab about the characters in their story. I like to know young adults are on the same track as me. And writers like to know someone spent a buck or two. I like to know I have a buck or two. Writers write for themselves. I write for others. Writers write for the inner satisfaction. I write for others’ inner satisfaction. That is why I am not a writer and why my writing process isn’t sincere.
There is no process. Just a mad dash to get it written in a satisfactory manner in the hopes it will come back to me with high marks. If that’s not a strong enough image to end on, then please picture a young adult who is typing away on her laptop feverishly, with thoughts of financial doom and existential crisis looming over her in a sadly cartoonish thought bubble over her head.

Posted in Writings by Students

Chapter One Reflection

Well, we just finished the Chapter One Writing Assignment, please leave your comments on thoughts here. I saw both positive and negative qualities throughout the process. I am most please that I have 100% completion and on time! I would like some suggestions on how to improve both peer review and revise process. Have a great night!.

Posted in Writings by Students

Carolyn McChesney: How to Chew Gum

Carolyn McChesney enjoys writing and playing tennis. She is an editor of her high school newspaper and hopes to travel the world someday as a journalist. While she can write most of her school papers in half an hour, it took Miss McChesney about twenty minutes to decide what to include in this three-sentence bio.

Your breath reeks.

So, naturally, you dig deep into your purse or pocket and grab that last piece of chewing gum. If you are like many high school students, you discard the wrapper on the floor and pop that minty, rubber delight into your mouth. And that’s when it begins—the squishy noise of your tongue wrestling your teeth for possession of the gum. Your tongue calls in reinforcements. Acknowledging your tongue’s request, your salivary glands fire gallons of spit into your mouth. The saliva, determined to break apart the now soggy breath-deodorizer, adds to the volume emanating from your mouth.

Meanwhile, the girl sitting in front of you whips around and glares. Her eyes are full of disgust, but you remain completely unaware of her and continue to chomp, chomp, chomp away. Now, I realize that you are not being obnoxiously loud on purpose, but you must realize that you are driving your classmates insane. Believe it or not, no one wants to listen to the lip-smacking, saliva-swishing, teeth-chomping orchestra in your mouth every time you chew on a piece of gum. I am not saying you should never chew gum ever again. Despite the atrocious, permanent damage gum inflicts upon your teeth, chewing gum has the potential to benefit multiple people at once.

I highly recommend chewing a piece of gum before you walk your date up to the front door. I also suggest checking your breath before talking to a teacher, for completely different reasons of course. Both your date and teacher will appreciate your effort to mask your severe case of halitosis, and everyone will be happy. And when everyone is happy, good things happen. A kiss goodnight on the front porch and a good grade in any class are only two examples of the many wonders of good breath. Yes my friends, a single piece of gum can help you snag the guy or girl of your dreams and get you an academic scholarship to Harvard. However, you must take caution when chewing gum because as I explained earlier, an amateur gum-chewer can drive people to almost suicidal levels of annoyance. Simply follow these steps to learn how to maximize your gum-chewing potential.

Let’s start with picking out the perfect kind of gum. Personally, I prefer Orbit, sugar-free, “wintermint” gum. The flavor is milder than Dentyne gum, which tends to burn the mouth occasionally. Each piece of Orbit gum also comes individually wrapped. This wrapper is essential in the following step: unwrapping and placement.

Individually-wrapped candies are much easier to enjoy than any other kind. When preparing to eat a piece of gum, you must never discard the wrapper. Do not pinch the paper between your fingers or wad it into a ball and toss it on the ground. The custodians at Fremd work hard enough, and they do not need your gum wrapper clogging the vacuums. As I said before, try to stick with individually wrapped gums, such as Orbit or any product that is proudly stamped “Wrigley’s.” Other types of gum, such as Dentyne, are packed in plastic and foil contraptions that make an irritatingly loud noise in a silent classroom. Also, individual wrappers become quite handy when that “long-lasting” flavor disappears about ten minutes later. When placing the gum in your mouth, do just that. Place the gum on your tongue. Do not bite it in half or allow your fingers to fondle it. Just eat it. Then, gently slide the empty wrapper into your pocket for easy access in the future.

This next step is crucial to the enjoyment of gum in general. The instructions are easy. With the piece of gum in your mouth, begin to chew. That’s it. Simple enough, isn’t it? But wait just one second. In all my years of gum chewing analysis, I have noticed that the majority of gum-chewers lack the ability to chew correctly. When chewing gum, it is imperative that you savor the flavor. Repeat this to yourself. “Savor the flavor.” In order to “savor the flavor” to its maximum extent, your mouth, nose, and brain must form a strong alliance. The mouth must alert the brain when a piece of gum has entered its perimeters. In response, the brain must command the lips to remain locked at all times during which the gum resides in the mouth. A sealed mouth prevents the flavor from escaping and keeps any chewing noises to a pleasant minimum. However, the nose must recognize that the mouth is sacrificing its ability to breath. This means the nose must accept all inhalation and exhalation duties. (WARNING: Gum should not be chewed if the chewer has a cold. A stuffy nose cannot function properly, and insufficient amounts of oxygen can lead to dizziness, fainting, or death. And how embarrassing would it be to have “Faulty Gum-Chewing Techniques” written in your obituary under “Cause(s) of Death”?)

Now that you are an expert regarding how to unwrap, properly place, and chew a piece of gum, there is only one step left in the gum-enjoying process: removal. Discarding gum can be tricky. Should you spit the little slime ball into your hand and transport it to the wastebasket? Or should you mold it ever so artistically to the underside of your desk? Perhaps you should nestle it gently among the long locks of the most obnoxious girl in class, who just so happens to sit in front of you. Heck, at this point, you probably just want to swallow the soggy piece of silly putty and be done with it. However, I highly advise you to pass the former options and approach the removal of the gum in a much more civilized manner. Remember that wrapper you slipped into your pocket earlier? Well, it’s time to whip it out! Now aren’t you glad you chose Orbit over Dentyne? You cannot reuse the space your gum came from in a Dentyne Ice container. Believe me. I’ve tried. And if you attempt to cram that slimy piece of gum back into the centimeter-wide slot from which it came, you will have the worst mess imaginable on your hands. Literally. However, I realize some people simply lack the capacity to follow directions and will either have discarded the individual wrapper of the recommended Orbit gum or have purchased a pack of Dentyne gum instead. Luckily, you can find a soft, white, some times scented, and other times moisturized fabric in most classrooms here at our school. Behold the Kleenex. Spit your tasteless gum into the tissue and throw it away. If you are in a classroom that does not provide tissues, you have two choices. You can either file a complaint to the teacher, which may compel him or her to offer extra credit if you bring in a box of tissues for the classroom. Or you can bend over and allow the gum to drop from your mouth into the waste bin. Do not spit. Spitting is unappetizing and vulgar. You may, depending on the size and weight of the wastebasket, lift the bin off of the ground, in order to increase your chances of successfully transferring the gum from your mouth to the garbage without any interaction from the floor.

Following these simple steps will make your gum-chewing experiences much more enjoyable for all. However, some of you may be intimidated by the numerous details that accompany each step. Keep in mind that every detail and description is important. Do not omit any step in the gum-chewing process. If my suggestions are simply too cumbersome for you to handle, allow me to leave you with two final words of advice: Try mints.


Posted in Writings by Students Tagged , , , ,

Angela Zade: My Slide

Angela Zade aspires to become the world’s first paid daydreamer. She enjoys reading, writing and dancing. Miss Zade also has a bossy sweet tooth.

  Stomping my small, purple boots through the elegant gown of white snow, I yanked my plastic, red sled with every eager step. Once I spotted the highest hill in sight, I turned around to tell my younger sister where I was headed.

My sister, Dee, had little, first-grade legs and couldn’t tread the thick ground to keep up. I squinted closely at her face from my distance. She looked like a cherry! Her cheeks were all plushed and her nose poked out like a tiny radish.

“Come on, Dee,” I called to hurry her.

“You aw wunning too fast!” she shouted back.

I stood in my fluffy, purple snowpants and adjusted my fat hat. I was so anxious to go sledding that once I saw Dee safely skipping behind in her small, pink suit, I rushed off into the white horizon.

My heart twirled like a tornado as I pushed my path up the hill. As a child, I surely thought the slope was like a mountain in size. I became so excited that my heavy breathing let some high-pitch shrieks out. Some snowflakes landed on my brown eyelashes as I blinked at the short distance left until I was on top of the world. I forgot about waiting for Dee and I didn’t care where she was because I was busy planning exaggerations to tell my girlfriends in my third grade class.

Like a stumpy balloon of purple padding I looked down at the treacherous slant. I positioned the red sled on the edge of heaven. I saddled up and gripped the two, black plastic hand strips. I sat there for a few minutes just staring into the deadly field. There were no trees in my way to worry about. I couldn’t find Dee anywhere in her pink snowsuit down on Earth. I didn’t care, I was ready to go! My heart felt like it was popping out of my jacket with every beat, so on one quick breath, I jerked my icy rear end forward and started to slide!

At first I began whining my girlish pout. The winter air punched my face and clogged my lungs. My mouth hung open from shock. The speed of my sled had picked up so fast that I stopped pouting. My eyes teared up because the force of the wind tore at their sensitivity. I tried to inhale bits of winter freshness through my numb nostrils but that was tough too. I flexed all my mini arm muscles to remain steady on the sled and I held to the black strips tightly.

Still sliding, I closed my eyes because the intensity was just too scary. I felt the planet flying away beneath me! I soared over the ground. I could hear the sound of my plastic sled skimming the snowy surface of the hill. Then I began hearing other people scream from around the distance.

“What are they yelling at?” I thought, “I must look so cool going so fast.”

I opened my wet eyes to see the people praise my slide and …SMACK!

Lying on my back with my arms and legs sprawled out like a spider, I sat up. I knew I wasn’t on my sled anymore because water was seeping in through the seams of my padding so I quickly shuffled my boots to the ground and stood. My body ached from the collision. I felt like one big bruise.

I noticed a red dot about ten feet over which I assumed was my sled. I sighed and put my mittens on my hips, scanning for the enemy that I had hit. I also noticed a pink bundle hunched over crying. I found Dee.

I pranced as fast as my purple, tree-stump legs would move. I plopped into the snowy cushion beside her and asked if she was okay.

“My butt huwts. You hit me hawd,” she cried.

“Sorry,” I mumbled.

“I wanna go home,” Dee said when she got up. She was so little, barely reaching three feet but her face was certainly powerful. Still kneeling, I looked up at her angry expression.

Despite my craving to sled all day, I didn’t bother opposing the little authoritarian. Instead I moseyed over to my sled, grabbed the pull string and began the sad trek home. This time I stomped behind Dee.

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Rachel Giese: A Lesson Learned

Rachel has loved exploring languages and literature from a very young age. She spent her young years writing stories instead of coloring and painting. Rachel is continuing her exploration of the “spoken word” as she heads off the college to study the Spanish language and possibly onto teaching or more writing expeditions. Rachel grew up in northern Minnesota with her parents, Marty and Marcia, her two older sisters, Anna and Sarah, and with her younger brother, David. She enjoys playing the piano, singing, going for a jog, and experiencing the gifts of life.

  The breeze through the trees soothes. The sun reflecting off the subtle movements of the lake as it’s pushed by the breeze make a happy sparkle show for my eyes. The trees grow together as if they were a natural blanket protecting all who pass underneath them. The grass has grown so naturally long that it becomes a soft tangled carpet for the feet of those who walk through it. And as I watch the leaves I am overcome with a feeling so strong that I must sit. I must sit, watch, and learn from the leaves. I must learn about acceptance.

Bright colors fly all around. The leaves have spent all spring and summer living on their tree, with those who are like them: their own kind. They have spent their lives watching the sparkle show on the lake, dancing in the breeze together, and watching over all those who pass underneath them. They have watched each other grow; they have lived through the rainy nights and have been there with each other to enjoy the sweet scent of the forest the next morning. But what is truly admirable about the leaves is what happens when it’s time to fall. They don’t know when it’s time; they don’t know when the breeze will carry them to a new place. They don’t know when they will no longer be able to hold on and must float away forever.

And where do they fall? No one knows but the wind. A leaf cannot choose where the wind will lead. It cannot choose where it will live apart from its family and soon die. It cannot choose, but it does not complain.

When the leaves come to their place of rest, a wonderful thing happens. Beauty happens. There is not a certain place where all the green leaves lay; there is not an area where the yellow leaves fall or where the red leaves come to rest. They fall together and dwell among leaves of a different color, from a different tree. This is how it’s been for centuries. No one has told the leaves that it is wrong to dwell with those of a different color, from a different tree. Those leaves have not heard, yet, that they are supposed to fall and remain with their own kind. No one has told them these things because no one wants to ruin the beauty. No person would go into the forest and separate the red from the green leaves or the green from the yellow. Who would dare injure the rainbow of diversity? It is beautiful; it is what makes the forest come alive.

This is acceptance.

The forest is not color blind. There would be no reason for the leaves to dress up in the fall if the trunks of the trees could not see their brilliance. It would be pointless for the moisture in the air to paint a colorful rainbow in the sky if the forest could not see. No, the forest is not color blind. The forest can see the mixing of the different colors and it sees this as beautiful. It is beautiful because it is right!

At some point in time, the world changed its view. At some point, it became wrong to have one color dwell with a different color. At some point, someone said that the rainbow of diversity was no longer a beautiful thing, but a bad thing. Someone changed the ways of the world, but the forest remained the same. Even with its ever-shifting seasons, the forest has kept its way of life since the beginning of time.

If I start to question what is right and what is wrong in this world, I will consult the forest. I will take a walk on the soft tangled grass carpet, under the protective covering of the tree branches, past the brilliant sparkle show, and I will look down and see the ground full of leaves of different colors lying all together, and I will learn my lesson. I need to live as the leaves live.

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Kim Swansen: Striving for the Perfect Paper

Kim Swansen enjoys playing guitar, traveling and playing with pet newts, Vinchi and Hendrix.  In twenty years, she sees herself as a rock star, or else fat and married with fifteen kids.

She sits…at the computer, staring at the screen for hours, waiting. And she wonders why her eyesight is taking a turn for the worse. She’s not quite sure why this is taking so particularly long. “It’s only a school assignment, right?” No, this seems to be more than that. It usually is. And suddenly, like a tidal wave starting in her brain, she starts typing. A paragraph, maybe two. Satisfied and content, she begins to reread her surge of writing. As she rereads, the smile disappears and frustration grows inside. She deletes it without a second glance, hoping the next wave will produce something more worthwhile. She sits again but becomes hungry. She knows it is a self-induced feeling, and that it’s just an excuse to get up. But she gets up anyway, makes the short but relaxing walk to the kitchen. She opens up every cabinet like she does every time (knowing there is nothing in there she wants to eat), closes the cabinets one by one, and starts the walk back. The second she steps into the computer room, she feels that dreadful feeling creep up through her spine to her brain, knowing it’s time to “really start working,” and she sits, and waits some more.

I guess now it is pretty evident that I have a writing dilemma. It is so serious that I can’t be content with the paragraph above, the line before, or even the words I’m writing this moment. Am I too critical? Too picky? Do I just want to impress my teachers or do I do it for myself? I have come to realize, through many nights at the computer, that writing for me is a never-ending process of striving for self-satisfaction but always ending up a few steps short.

Obviously I wouldn’t want to share my work with an audience because I am too critical of myself and don’t approve of what I write most of the time. It is so hard for me to promote something that I am not satisfied with. It’s like, “Hey, I think this is terrible, but don’t mind me, make your own judgments. I’ll just sit here and fear your reaction.” I wonder if famous writers ever had a problem sharing their work with others. What if Shakespeare or Woody Allen (not likely) were afraid of others’ reactions? We would have never been exposed to their art. I am trying to be more open about it, trying to be less afraid of “critics.” Besides, this paper is not going to be like -God forbid- read in class; it’s not going to be published in a book, or even read by anyone but my teacher. So what do I have to worry about?

For some reason, I take writing very seriously and love to do it. When a teacher assigns a paper or an essay, I dread knowing the process at the computer will start again, yet I am excited. As a matter of fact, I love to write. That is the insane part. I love to write and I dread it. Maybe writing to me is a combination of love and dread. Maybe the feeling of dread is part of the excitement. In any case, if I didn’t have such a problem, maybe writing for me would be different. It could be a very simple process. Sit down, type, reread, smile, print, reread again, let mom read, read to dog, let whole world read, and be satisfied. If Ernest Hemingway or Ralph Waldo Emerson were here to tell me that I have potential or good writing skills or something like that, maybe writing would be a breeze for me. I’d have more confidence and satisfaction with what I wrote. Because that’s how I am. I need others’ approval. But I can’t get that without sharing my writing. Therefore, I am stuck between love and dread, striving for the perfect paper.

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