What Life Is All About

Everyone seems to have their own outlook on what life has to offer and what makes life so precious. In my perspective, it’s the little things that make life worth living. When people think of what the rest of their life has to offer, most think about the major events like graduating or their wedding. Although those are major and amazing parts of people’s lives, it’s vital to notice that life goes a lot deeper than that. 

Life is a collection of small moments. Some of those are going to be good, while others may be bad. We don’t give those moments enough credit, the little moments where you look over and someone’s thinking the exact same thing, smelling a scent you remember, hugging someone you missed, etc. There have been so many days I’ve looked back on and all I seem to remember is the random person I saw dancing in their car or how perfect the weather was. Each day is like a treasure hunt, full of hidden beauties and it’s up to us whether we want to overlook or appreciate them. 

Live for the endless laughter, for the sunsets, for the little thing, and you’ll feel the joys of life. It’s not always about the bigger picture, details are important. So, if there’s something that you want to do whether it’s writing a book or smiling at a stranger, do it. Even if it doesn’t’ affect your life, it’ll affect theirs.  

-Kaitlyn Y.

Two Stories

Don’t chase dreams.

These were the words she’d remember, stuck between her riddled thoughts as though a shard of glass were lodged within. She’d press them or shake them, but their message remained the same.

Don’t chase-

Dreams. A fog in time, a cloud for her to fly in as space around her wilted to swim beneath the seas of age. She was an olive branch to her fears, a dove caught amidst the thorns of life.

She was torn.

Worn out, too, as though her skin were made of yarn, unwoven by the kindles of her sorrows. Such fantasies that hid in her soul’s cracks, she thought, could only be imagined by a madman.

She was indeed, mad, as ginger and rash as the freckles on her cheeks.

Once, as rain poured down like chords of a melody which spun from the tumultuous storms above, a spark in her blood awoke. With her in bed, she braided her harvest curls as though they had heard her traitorous ambitions and disapproved. Yet she could not help it, for she was, in her delusion, a dream too.

A shock of alarm struck her as quick as the realization came. For if she were to be the dream, then she needn’t pursue an illusion at all. 

A sudden smile crept to mark her lips, for a resolution had, for certain, come to ease her qualms.

She was the chase. 

─── ∙ ~εïз~ ∙ ───

She lives in her shadow, behind it, sometimes beside it. It does her everything, and that’s alright with her. It often cooks, or cleans the dust off shelves while she watches. She doesn’t impede. 

It goes on like this: it works, she sits. No one bothers her with chores, nor scolds her when she misses a corner, since she can’t. She just stares, content with her boredom.

Her nails grow thinner, brown at their sides. Edges near her eyes and ears wrinkle, though more often than not where she can’t see them. White hairs greet her black ones, and they accept their presence with no dispute. That’s how she’s worked through much of her troubles, anyhow. 

Her shadow continues its tedious labor, but she herself speaks none. Even her memories, alone and dim, have forgotten what it is to dream.

She waits for action to happen. For death to come, maybe, and rid her of misery. She’s naught, done none, never will do any.

Her shadow scrubs the floorboards, pats the beds. Feeds the pets, takes the kids to daycare. Day after night, past bedtime or at late dawn, it works. And she, ever in darkness, sits in her shadow’s wake.

-Emilia D. 

Odysseus: An Honorable Hero

This is an argument of if Odysseus is a hero worthy of praise.

Many believe that the character of Odysseus in the famous epic The Odyssey is not worthy of praise. From foolishly taunting a cyclops, leaving a beloved comrade behind and killing a crowd of young men, it is argued that Odysseus’s actions are far from commendable. As narrated in Book 11 of The Odyssey by Homer, “One shade came first Elpenor, of our company, / who lay unburied still on the wide earth / as we had left him dead in Circe’s hall, / untouched, unmourned, when other cares compelled us” (lines 24-27, 388). Leaving a man behind has incongruity with the expectations of an epic hero. It implies a selfish side of Odysseus unfitting of praise. Although it is true these actions do not seem to be classified as heroic or admirable, the opposition fails to recognize the motive behind Odysseus’s decisions as well as the magnitude of Odysseus’s many meritorious deeds.

Odysseus is an epic hero who employs his wit more than his weapons; although killing a crowd of young men may appear to be antagonistic, one must remember that these men were trying to win Penelope’s hand in marriage in dishonorable ways. Book 1 of The Odyssey clearly explains how the suitors disrespect Odysseus and his family. If a hero cannot battle for family honor and respect, then what can he fight for?

Another prime example of Odysseus’s brilliance can be seen when Odysseus refrains from slaying the Cyclops at the first opportunity; instead, he ties his men under Polyphemus’s rams so they could secretly elude the Cyclops (Book 9, lines 336-346, 381). The profound self control Odysseus exhibits is a quality identified as a classic characteristic of an epic hero. It shows his ability to make rational decisions in circumstances under which a common person may panic and act spontaneously. Additionally, Odysseus’s care for his men and loyalty to his comrades is depicted.

Throughout the epic, Odysseus’s choices and deeds characterize him as an epic hero well deserving of praise.

-Ayati M.

Neville’s Seventh Year Pt. 2

Nearly three years ago, Elina T. (a former contributer to this blog) and I were collaborating on a fanfiction that centered around Neville’s last year at Hogwarts. Our initial brainstorm for this story left us with a skeletal outline and great excitement at the prospect of writing. However, we never quite finished the story. Nevertheless, we do still have some material that I would like to share.

In a post on this blog titled “Neville’s Seventh Year Pt. 1,” Elina T. shared the first portion of our first chapter. In this post, I will share the next section (therefore, it may make more sense to read Elina’s post first :)).

I also wanted to note that we made some changes to the story, and that this contains spoilers for those who have not read the Harry Potter series.

As a disclaimer, both Elina T. and I absolutely love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and in no way wish for it to be written any differently than it was. This was just a fun, exploratory project that we enjoyed–and we hope you do, too.


Ginny eyed the little plant that Neville had cupped in his hands. 

“Isn’t that poisonous?” She asked, gesturing toward the plant with her chin and scooting a bit away from it. 

“It’ll only harm you if you provoke it.” Neville replied, fondly stroking the very venomous-looking vines. “I’ve been wanting to show it to Harry the whole summer! I was thinking we could use it on Snape …”

“Neville–,” Ginny began. 

“Hello.” Neville and Ginny looked up to see Luna standing in the doorway, the latest edition of The Quibbler in her arms. 

“Oh, hey Luna!” they chorused. 

She wore a sky blue button-up blouse, a long paisley skirt, and an eccentric-looking oversized headband which boasted miniature models of a strange animal Neville had never seen before. 

Luna took the seat opposite Ginny next to Neville and set The Quibbler on the seat beside her. 

“Is that a Snargaluff?” She asked, leaning forward to examine Neville’s plant. 

‘Er, no. It’s Venomous Tentacula.” Neville replied.

“Hey, Luna, what’s that on your headband?” Ginny asked curiously, surveying the little animals, one of which Neville could have sworn he’d seen yawn out of the corner of his eye. 

“Blibbering Humdingers!” Luna said enthusiastically. “Daddy gave this to me before I left. They glow when they sense danger.” 

Ginny nodded comprehensively. 

Neville’s eyes shifted to the corridor, where he saw a group of Slytherins pass, Crabbe and Goyle among them. They seemed lost without their leader, as if Malfoy, who was now absent, had given meaning to their lives.

Neville glanced back at his friends. Ginny had noticed the Slytherins as well and was glaring at them. Neville wondered if she thought that if she stared fiercely enough, she would bore holes into them. 

Ginny shook her head, as if trying to rid the Slytherins from her mind, and turned back towards the other two. 

“I still can’t believe Snape is going to be Headmaster,” She said shrilly. “How could this have happened?” 

Neville nodded his agreement. He wasn’t quite sure of all the details, but after Dumbledore’s death at the end of last year, Voldemort and his Death Eaters had begun to establish power in the Wizarding World. Voldemort had control over Hogwarts but, though it was hard to be certain, as far as Neville knew, the Ministry was still intact. 

And what of the prophecy he and Harry had heard at the Ministry in their fifth year? “Either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ….” This must mean that Harry must be the one to vanquish Lord Voldemort; he must be the only one with the power to do so. Neville frowned as he thought of the next line: “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies ….” It had been nagging at him since that night at the Ministry. “… as the seventh month dies …” Neville had been born during that time …. Could it be possible that he may have been in Harry’s place?

A war was brewing, Neville was certain of it. It was as inevitable as him losing track of Trevor again.


-Mia T.

Mooreville High

Sebastian Elizarraras

Sunday afternoon was a warm relief
We wanted to hold on stubbornly to that last minute
Instead of living the ones to come
Only seeing the most painful parts of the week ahead
Slamming lockers on a Monday, trying-
To summon up the will to believe that it gets better
But was it really that bad after all?

Summer’s end meant midnight reunions on the track
Still rubber permeating the air in the heat of august
Friday night rumors and tailgate daydreams,
Parties with the rich kids and stargazing in the backseat
Peering over the hedges on the football field,
We popped confetti and shouted “go team!” 
But loved the moment we shared more than them

The one winter snow fell on our little town
Prom in the gym that year was so beautiful,
Dancing lovers nestled under a flakey powder blanket,
Watched as the disco balls made stars of the spotlights
They highlighted the love affair, we traded envy for laughter
Fruit punch sometimes stings or leaves stains
But we drove out in our gray sedans and felt like royalty

We’d hide by heaters at the Barnes Crossing mall,
Ride the carousel til we were chased out by security
If the school staff had been careless, there was a small chance,
We could sneak into the theater and stare up at the light fixtures,
Didn’t worry that much about making it back home
Breakfast at the coffee house, lunch at the diner downtown
Staring up by the bleachers when the evening sky rose

I won’t hold on to what I won’t miss
But I’ll certainly miss skipping service at the Baptist
Fast friends, and young love, the pain of growing up too fast,
Every day we drove by the river singing made it worth it
Worn souls, the cruel cold, friendship lasts until the bracelet breaks
Our hearts can only carry the fire of youth for a little while
So I’ll leave our innocence and beautiful ignorance here on the page, 
So that they may fade more slowly

Quiz: Which Fictional World Would You Live In?

Fictional worlds–from the rich and expansive Grishaverse to the extensive landscape of Middle Earth to the modern world of Percy Jackson to the incredibly detailed Wizarding World–are wonderful destinations for readers to travel to every so often. In fact, many of these worlds are so rich and detailed that it requires no great effort to imagine oneself living in them. The following quiz will give you an idea of which fictional world you might belong in, if you could live in one. This is in no way meant to be an affirmative test; I simply thought it would be a quick, fun activity for book lovers.

Included Worlds: This quiz includes only four of the multitude of incredible fictional worlds: Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse (from Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows); J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World; J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth; and Rick Riordan’s world of Percy Jackson.

How to take it: It’s pretty simple; please look at each question (there are 7) and choose the letter that answers the question best for you. Somehow record your answers, on paper or in your head. When you’re done, you can look at the answer key to discover which of the four fictional worlds you might belong in!


The Quiz

1. Which location would you want to visit the most?

a. New Zealand; b. Scotland; c. The United States; d. Russia

2. Which drink do you think you would enjoy the most?

a. Mead; b. Butterbeer; c. Nectar; d. Kvas

3. What is your favorite mode of transportation?

a. Pony or horse; b. Broomstick; c. Flying ship; d. Carriage or boat

4. What is your preferred form of communication?

a. Moths; b. Owl; c. Iris messages; d. Messengers

5. What is your preffered form of magic/fighting?

a. Traditional weapons (swords, bow and arrow); b. Magic spells; c. Special abilities inherited from my parents; d. Control/manipulation of elements

6. Which body of water do you like the most?

a. Rivers; b. Lake; c. Sound (i.e. Long Island Sound); d. Oceans and canals

7. Where would you most like to live and train?

a. No place in particular; b. Hogwarts; c. Camp Half-Blood; d. The Little Palace


Answer Key: Your potential fictional home depends on which letter you chose the most.

  • Mostly “a”: Middle Earth
  • Mostly “b”: The Wizarding World
  • Mostly “c”: The world of Percy Jackson and the Olympians
  • Mostly “d”: The Grishaverse

Thank you for taking this quiz! These are all wonderful fictional worlds–and of course, they are only four out of of many incredible universes. I hope you enjoyed taking this quiz!

-Mia T.

Enchantment

Enchantment

A kaleidoscope of butterflies beat

Their wings against a cage of ribs

Their wings heavy

Yet heart so light

As it implodes in sheer joy

Spreading into the chest like fireworks

Happiness the sparks

Chest the canvas of the dark sky

-Aisha E.

How to Remedy Reading Slumps

I’m not sure if this happens to everyone, but sometimes I just don’t want to read. I absolutely love reading, but sometimes I just can’t bring myself to sit down with a good book. Most of the time I can’t focus on a book because something else is drawing my focus away. When this is the case, I have a dry spell of not reading, and by the time I actually have the time to read, I have forgotten the previous chapter and can’t get back into the book.

Now I’ve been through my fair share of what I call “reading slumps” and there are a few things that I like to do to get back into my reading groove.

The first thing I like to do is set a time that I’m going to start reading and commit to it. Usually, this means the upcoming weekend, very late at night. I find that when I read late at night, it reduces the number of distractions I have. My family is usually off watching TV or asleep, and the notifications on my phone are a minimum.

The second thing I do is pick the right book. I may be right in the middle of a great book, and in that case, I’d continue reading it, but sometimes I’m in a lull in between books. So, to help get me back into reading, I would reread an easier book. I would pick books that I already know that I’ll love and could fly through and enjoy them. Some quick recommendations would be Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan if you wanted some Greek mythology/fantasy. For a simple and charming young adult romance, a fantastic series is The Selection by Kiera Cass. And for a more contemporary book, any Nicola Yoon book is amazing!

Finally, the last thing I do is make sure that I have a comfortable spot to read. Whether you enjoy reading at a desk or in your bed, make sure that you are comfortable! This is because the less you are worried about external factors, the more you can focus on your book. Oh, and a bonus would be to sneak in a couple of snacks to munch on throughout your read.

I hope some of these tips help you come out of whatever reading slump may occur. Happy reading!

-Katherine L.

The Hufflepuff Common Room

One could safely say that Harry, with his handy Marauder’s Map, adventurous spirit, and knack for getting into trouble, explores much more of Hogwarts than the typical student does. In fact, he manages to enter both the Slytherin common room (with the help of Polyjuice Potion and a few of Gregory Goyle’s hairs) and the Ravenclaw common room–as well as his own cozy Gryffindor common room–within the span of the series.

However, although he develops friendships with a few Hufflepuff students, Harry never enters the Hufflepuff common room. And as a result, the readers never see it, either.

Thankfully, the world of Harry Potter is so richly imagined and developed that it extends beyond the books. Unsurprisingly, a vividly descriptive article on the Hufflepuff common room can be found on the Wizarding World website, written by J.K. Rowling herself (If you’re a Harry Potter lover, I encourage you to check it out–it’s very interesting to learn about the mysterious common room and to read J.K. Rowling’s thoughts on it).

Though the method used to enter the Hufflepuff common room is rather simple (tapping a barrel to the rhythm of the founder of Hufflepuff’s name (Rowling)), and although the room lies low in comparison to the towers that house the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor common rooms, I think I would choose to live in the Hufflepuff common room above the others if I had the choice.

The Hufflepuff common room seems so cozy and bright, with “patchwork quilts,” “[a] colorful profusion of plants and flowers,” and “[s]mall, round windows [that] show a pleasant view of rippling grass and dandelions, and, occasionally, passing feet” (Rowling). Despite being so low in the ground, the Hufflepuff common room still seems cheerful and warm. I love how the majority of the decorations are plants; they add so much vibrancy and homeliness to the room, and I think the constant presence of nature would create a joyful and peaceful mood. In addition, the circular structure of the room reminds me of a cozy little hobbit hole.

The common room “feels perennially sunny”–the perfect atmosphere for keeping your spirits up while studying for exams, relaxing with your classmates, or recovering from a particularly cold and difficult Potions class (Rowling). Imagine leaving the stuffy Divination classroom or a particularly wearisome History of Magic lesson and entering a warm, inviting room lit with golden sunlight and lively plants. The environment itself, I think, could be an instant mood-lifter.

Lastly, the Hufflepuff common room lies right near the kitchens, in case you want to pay the house elves a visit.

Where else would you want to spend your seven years at Hogwarts?

– Mia T.


Works Cited

Rowling, J.K. “Hufflepuff Common Room.” Wizarding World, Wizarding World Digital, 2 Mar. 2020, http://www.wizardingworld.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/hufflepuff-common-room.