My Pencil

With the slow re-entrance to in-person classes, I have found that several digital aspects still remain part of my daily routine. While I used to carry a large pencil case with an assortment of options, I now have only one pencil that I keep in a little fuzzy pouch. Paper handouts are a rare commodity these days, and I find my handwriting degrading by the day.

I have left behind the use of binders – something which I have practiced and perfected since the second grade. The amount of papers I use now simply does not fill enough space to justify the use of a large cardboard structure that fills my backpack. I now carry a simple folder, one I have been saving for years.

My inability to write as aesthetically as I did in previous years may hinder me in life, but at least I can type efficiently.

I know that I will never retire my pencil, however, as there will always be a need to write.

Image Credit: CBS News

Deciding

As colleges acceptances come to a close, I am left with a mere thirty days to decide where I want to spend the next four years.

Based on circumstances I can’t remember, I have narrowed it down to two colleges. One of prestige, and one of comfort.

Now I must decide, do I go to a school the size of a small town with a bumper sticker name, or a smaller school a step up from high school? As I gravitate towards the larger school, another big one comes in to play.

The final college decision letter. What was originally my top choice (though now I’m unsure) will now be competing with my new, other top choice.

There are two outcomes to this situation. Either they reject me and I’m disappointed, though my decision is made easier. Or I am accepted, and I now must choose.

I can’t decide which is harder. Though subconsciously, I know which choice is right.

Image Credit: UCLA Newsroom

Spring

Each year, spring seems to be the most overwhelming season. School begins to speed up as we are faced with tasks each day.

Now that the pandemic is slowly returning to normalcy as more students come onto campus, we are catching up on what we missed. This, however, results in the cramming of a years’ worth of experience into a single month. It is enjoyable in its little moments, though when I look at my planner, the words begin to blend into each other as the pages are smeared with hastily placed pencil marks. I return to my planner hourly, adding both academic assignments and extracurricular events. It is covered with reminders, such as bring my costume for the musical, or drop off a scholarship application.

I enjoy each day thoroughly, though looking ahead can be overwhelming. The tasks for one day are manageable, though skimming the multiple notes and plans for the week can feel as though it all must be done that day.

Perspective is vital to managing a planner. I always note that I am living in only one of the days on the page, and it is not yet time to manage the others. This spring may be busy, though it is my last opportunity to experience high school. I plan to enjoy every day, as they are my final moments on this campus.

Spring
Image Credit: Alina Demidenko – iStock

foggy memories

the oaks

wrinkles,

white walls

metallic beige

flying roaring

,cutting,

white walls;

warm animals 

in half motion

motioning

in motion.

you latch on

to these moments, these images,

as they race in your head,

as they take tight turns,

as a force like gravity pulls and pulls you away.

you find yourself empty save the quiet conversations and the warm silence. the moments that make you you. but how ‘bout I move them? 

how ‘bout i reorganize the pantry,

pull the back towards the front,

pour it all out?

how ‘bout when you feel those candlewarm memories

in your stainless vaccum

you feel them.

you feel the road, the car

the pull,

you feel the moment, the memory

fading

into the fog.

from pintrest

Rain

Cold winter days often seem to fall short of the media’s predictions. We scheduled an early departure from school in anticipation of dangerous storms, though we’re met with trickles of water creating small puddles in dry dirt.

I tend to dress dramatically for the cold. I wear two pears of socks, two jackets, and keep a spare pair of gloves in my backpack. I prefer to overheat than freeze from the brisk winds. My wardrobe has many jackets, though only one of them I have deemed warm enough for January weather.

Although the cold is difficult, I do hope for adventure’s sake that we experience more rain. I keep my prized umbrella tucked away in my backpack, waiting for the day when I can use it again. I enjoy the trek from classroom to classroom as I use my umbrella as a shield from the harsh sky. February is likely to bring more rain, and I won’t put my umbrella away until the sun is revealed.

Image Credit: Ali Berman

Mural

Right now I am planning for a mural I will be painting on former OVS teacher, Ms. Pasqua’s house. She has inspired me to paint a scene of Ojai with the Topa Topa mountains lined with inspirational quotes. This mural is an outlet for me to express my passion in the fight for equity.

The Ojai Valley has given me so many opportunities to improve myself as an artist, and painting a mural visible to its residents is my way of giving back to the community. I have had practice with this form of art in middle school when we worked on large-scale projects. I helped to work on the Fourth of July parade floats as well as life-size paper mache projects. I painted giant decorations to add to our OVS float, and created letter-signs that spelled out the name of our school.

Growing up and seeing the beautiful murals in Ventura County, I have always wanted to add my own color to the town. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to gain more experience with painting and share my art with the Ojai community.

The Ventura Mural that inspired me to paint on a larger scale.
Image Credit: Lu Ross Academy

My Turtle Koa

For Christmas my grandma gave me a turtle. Her name is Koa, and she came with a little bead bracelet and a card to track her movements in the wide ocean. I scanned her code, and my phone displayed a map of where she was released.

Her journey began on the coast of Florida as her rescuers released her into the wild. I could see she had already swam miles up the coast of the United States. She had passed Georgia territory and was nearing North Carolina.

Her little fins took her across half of the country, and halfway back. When I had previously thought about sea creatures, I had always imagined they’d stay in one area that they called home. My experience with Koa, however, has showed me that she is a true explorer of the ocean with no limits or boundaries.

I am grateful to have a connection to a living part of the ocean that I can check in on each day.

Image Credit: Shane Meyers

Fire

I

The leaves rustle gently at first,

barely moving in the otherwise stagnant air.

But the wind comes, and will come again. 

Every year.

II

It’s eerily warm when

the hearty Santa Ana winds,

the december gusts, come 

to breathe full of life

limbs of dry straw.

Shrubbery sings with that transient weight;

shrubbery that won’t be here tomorrow.

III

Before the door could be closed

a delicate leaf let itself in.

Frail, yellow, brittle.

Winter boots shatter it; 

the shards driven into

the green carpet.

IV

Autumn came when no one was looking, quiet and still, 

but Winter knocked on the door.

Warm winds; loose leaves;

oak and sycamore;

helpless faces;

unpacked clothes strewn, full of life,

on the floor.

V

Fires often blow through on winds like these,

—the threat, toothsome and tangible—

but even as the wind whips

and the sparse clouds hurry across the sky,

cruel circumstance sits suspended in hot heavy air.

VI

Heavy walls went like cardboard 

big weight bearing beams became matchsticks

that snap between fat flaming fingers

recollection ripped out of picture frames

folders full of ash

crumpled filing cabinets

and melted metal memories 

a world engulfed

in wind

in the night

in warm welling eyes

in the sweltering night.

VII

Gnawing on the bones

baying at the hunt

howling in the wind

a hound of three heads sicced 

uncontrollable 

delighting in the chaos 

in pandemonium’s wild embrace.

VIII

silence settled,

the land rested.

no fireman’s boots,

no tennis shoes,

no cars,

no buildings,

no birds.

Just cold black earth,

warm embers,

warm breeze.

IX

Green growth sparsely populates the scorched earth.

Grasses, gaining ground.

But deep in the center the blackness still sits.

Telling you things are not as they once were,

Succession is a process, aching and raw;

but nothing could be so delicate and pure

as the inkling of new life

among black expanse.

X

These winds will whip 

hearts to attention

for years to come.

From: KPCC

The Perfect Tree

This year I learned that there are two types of Christmas trees: a noble and a douglas.

I was standing in the parking lot of Lowe’s, searching the fenced in barn for this year’s tree. To my left, there were the douglasses. I knew that any one of them would look great in my living room. They had the classic Christmas tree feel, and I felt satisfied with the quality.

Then, I looked to my right. Propped along the wooden fences were the plush, green noble trees. And they were, indeed, noble. The trees looked as though they came straight out of a holiday hallmark movie. The branches looked as though they grew to meet cold winter snow, and I could not picture any kind of tree that represented the holiday better.

I again turned to my left. The douglass trees then looked drab. Dying, even. The only thing that made them more appealing than the tall nobles was the pricetag. I sorted through each of them, however, and found one that would suit my living room. I admired it and it’s imperfections seemed to disappear. But I again turned towards the nobles.

The contrast in beauty was striking. The tree I had found did not seem as beautiful anymore.

We went home with a noble.

Image Credit: Nathaniel Young

Flowers

Like most people, I’ve received several vases of flowers for several occasions. I watch them blossom and wilt as the joy from the event fades, or I regain my health from an illness.

When I am sick, the decision to throw the flowers away is symbolic of moving on. I have recovered, and the flowers have given me their beauty and life when I was physically weak. After I regain my strength, I can appreciate the era of the beautiful flowers, then feed them to my tortoise to let him have the last of the gift.

It can feel sad watching them wilt, but when I put it into perspective, they have served their purpose and it is time for me to move on. They brought me happiness when I needed it, and with each day they grew weaker, I grew stronger.

Tossing out flowers from events can seem more sad, because it was a good moment, and the wilting of the flowers symbolizes the moment’s transition from an experience to a memory. Once the vase is empty, however, it leaves room for new opportunities. Another great experience will come, and the vase will be filled once again.

Image Credit: Deluxe Blooms