The Catcher in the Rye Spin-Off

Boy another day, another day of the countless tortures I’ll have to suffer from all the phonies in the world.  Ugh, why does this have to happen to me? Can’t I live a happier life at some point? Anyways, I endured the numerous agonies at Pencey with nothing to see, nothing to do.  As day ends, and night comes, I have the unwanted privilege of having Ackley in my room, as if this goddamn day couldn’t get any goddamn worse. I try to ignore his pitiful presence by reading Out of Africa.  His great ramblings consisted of his hatred of Stradlater and oh yeah how much he hates everyone else.  At this point, I was hoping for someone to kill me already, but as usual my prayers weren’t answered. As I was about to tell Ackley to keep his goddamn mouth shut, in comes Mal Broussard, a decent guy from Pencey.  I never thought I would be so happy to see Mal in all my life as I was fed up with Ackley’s crap. Mal came over to ask if Ackley and I wanted to see a movie. If you thought being with Ackley was a pain, watching a movie with him was worse.  Actually watching a movie with both Ackley and Mal was worse. During the entire movie, they would laugh at parts that aren’t even funny. They are stupid enough to actually fall for that Hollywood crap with even more phonies than the ones I’m surrounded by on a day to day basis.  I don’t really care what movie they pick since no one gives a damn about my opinion, and they aren’t even good friends of mine.

Anyways, the movie they suggested was one they already saw.  On the outside, I’m willing to do whatever; on the inside, I’m screaming: “THANK GOD”  So, we decided to go to a burger joint not too far from Pencey. A burger joint is a burger joint: nothing special but it’s goddamn better than the crappy food at Pencey and a phony movie combined.  We head in, and it already kills me when Ackley actually jumps to a table, making himself look like a moron. I seat myself down in this goddamn squeaky chair that’s hurting my butt like mad. I’m six feet two inches tall; this was the last thing I needed.  

Anyways, I take a look at the menu, which I’m happier to order from than eating the typical Pencey crap of steak and mashed potatoes.  Finally, some waiter who looks unexcited to be here shows up to take our orders. I order the “classic” cheeseburger with fries and the “classic” vanilla milkshake.  By putting “classic” before everything is probably just another way to say, “This is the food that sucks less compared to the other goddamn items.” Mal orders the “classic” double beef cheeseburger with the “classic” cheese fries and the “classic” chocolate milkshake.  Ackley orders practically the whole goddamn menu. I’ll sum it up for you: the burger supreme with every topping imaginable, chili cheese fries deluxe with an extra side of mayonnaise and to put the goddamn cherry on top, apple pie ala mode with a mint chocolate chip milkshake.  No surprise here, that Ackley would do something this stupid, so at this point I shake my head to the point where it’s about to fall off. As if being in the same room with a moron of a guy like Ackley was bad enough, I had to eat in the same room with him as well. Practically, the only normal person at this table was Mal, and when you think about, that isn’t saying much.  

Anyways, the food arrives; I can’t wait to be disgusted already.  My food is okay; the burger is medium rare when I asked for it to be medium, the fries are nothing short of dry, and the milkshake is a nice way of saying, “Enjoy your melted ice cream sir.”  My food experience was also ruined because I was watching the terrifying site of Ackley eating his food. You could tell he adored it, almost too much. He started off by devouring his burger as if he was the predator and the burger was his prey.  It was like a python attacking a pig. Some call it entertainment while I find to be quite phony if you wanna know the truth. Ackley swallows the burger whole, pardon me he tries to swallow it. It would have been funnier if he choked on the burger to tell you the truth.  After a good five minutes alone with the burger, he moves on to the fries, not as bad as him eating the burger but pretty close. It was like a vending machine sucking up your goddamn money, one after another after another. I’m surprised he wasn’t breaking a sweat at this point.  After a good minute and half of him inhaling his goddamn slimy fries, he finishes off with the milkshake and pie. I wish I was kidding as I’m about to say this, but he began to gurgle his milkshake with the pie. Every ten seconds, he would slurp and gurgle, slurp and gurgle, and slurp and gurgle.  It was never ending. I had never seen anything like it in my life. The mint chocolate chip milkshake was probably the only “mouthwash” or any form of dental hygiene he’s used in his entire life. I couldn’t have been any more goddamn disgusted, what a moron that Ackley kid is.

Anyways, after Ackley’s eating fiasco, I look at Mal closely; I can’t tell whether he’s used to this kind of behavior since he’s on the wrestling team or whether he was equally disgusted as I was.  I immediately go to the cashier up front to pay for the crappy food. Then, Mal, Ackley, and I head home as I watch another beautiful site of Ackley cleaning his teeth from all the schlop he ate tonight.  Boy, what a guy!

Anyways, I am back in my room, trying to pretend I never saw what happened at the burger joint and have a marvelous dream that I am an acclaimed executive chef at the burger joint where I chop and cook decadent food that everyone adores.  I am like a musician in my dream; the kitchen utensils are my instruments, and I am the magic behind it, working in perfect harmony. My dream is suddenly ruined by the sound of Ackley vomiting the night away in the hallway. I’ll get the goddamn mop.  

-Whitney D.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

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The sun shone through the window. It was a new day, a fresh start. The brightness made it easy to forget the dark events of the previous night. Horrified images began to take over her mind. The screaming echoed in her ears. It was a mistake, she cried to herself. She knew she wouldn’t be able to forget it, that all she could do was find a way to live with it. No one would ever know her secret. This new day was her chance to become someone else, someone incapable of the horrible truth that was her mind.

She stared at the rays of light, imagining this, when a spot of red on the wall caught her eye. It was small enough to go undetected, but she knew its source. Tracing her eyes along the wall, more spots appeared, forming larger and messier streaks of red. There she could see it clearly, as if the color was the very paint on the wall, the color she would now wake up to every morning. It dripped down, drying at the bottom, collecting together to create a puddle.

Even with all her strength, she couldn’t pull her eyes away from the scene. It was all her fault. No amount of paint would ever cover up her pain from last night, no amount would make the tragedy disappear. It was forever stained in front of her.

In her own blood. Who would do such a thing?

 

PSA: Substance Abuse

This is not a book review or a movie review; it’s not a response to a writing prompt. Instead, I wanted to type up my opinion on a subject that’s been heavily impacting my life, my friendships and my heart. No matter how much statistics prove how deadly and negative drugs and alcohol impact lives, people repeatedly run to substances as sources of fun, escape and stability. While a wild night provides thrill and serves the adrenaline that many feed off of, one mistake can prove to be deadly and detrimental. Problems never become solved, but instead are drowned in liters of alcohol and burnt by blunt after blunt. Still, they resurface, hurting even more and provoking another urge to dive into trouble and substance use. If one truly reflects, substance abuse truly cannot provide any permanent comfort or safety. So then, I wonder, why do I seem to keep losing friends and hearing stories on the news of continuous substance abuse?

It’s a harsh pang in the heart to hear and see how many lives substances have hurt. Personally and thankfully, my family life has always been drug and alcohol free but for many, I know substance abuse is strongly prevalent. Therefore, this leads to physical abuse, neglect, financial instability and so many other outcomes that trickle down and hurt too many lives. And that is downright unjust. Too many children lack parental love and guidance, too many students lose best friends to unpromising danger. This is the darkness of the world that needs to be addressed and cleared.

Life was meant to be lived beautifully and purely. Drugs and alcohol work to distort that truth and they lie to users, tempting them to believe that life is falsely colored. But true, vibrant colors are seen in so many other aspects of this world. From the pink and orange hues of sunsets to the bright light radiated by the smiles of laughing couples, from the earthy foliage of autumn to the crisp ivory of snowfall. This world offers us so much. There are roads to be driven on, oceans to be swam in and people to be talked to. Why confine yourself to the limited world of partying and intoxication when you can release yourself to the peaceful realm of adventuring and growing? With free will, why sell yourself short to a life confined to the vicious wheel of unconscious, reckless living? Just a little food for thought . . .

-Jessica T.

Fall Life Hack: Back to Time Management Habits

As a high school student, I know how hard it is to stay on top of your work, keep up your grades, and juggle multiple extra curricular activities. Sometimes, it seems like there just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needs to get done. Key word: seems. Albeit difficult, time management is possible for everyone, regardless of your number of weighted classes or extracurricular activities. Here are a few tips to get you started on your path to a more organized and relaxed life.

To begin, take some time every Monday to schedule out your week. Know that any major assignments that you have are going to take up a considerable amount of time, and also count on minor assignments adding up to become time consuming tasks. Then, display your schedule in a planner or in another prominent place. I have a few whiteboard stickers on the wall above my desk to help me stay organized, but you can use whatever system works for you.

As your week goes on, try not to procrastinate assignments, big or small. Sometimes, this is impossible. Whenever you can, do homework that isn’t due the next day. Remember that in a world where homework is continuously assigned, you can’t always count on being physically able to do a project in a single night, especially if other teachers assign homework to you on that specific day. Also, remember that all of those small assignments add up! Try not to let them get the best of you.

Finally, reward yourself! Being a student is hard work, and if you study a lot like me, you still deserve to feel like a teenager. Take time after school to unwind, even if this just involves eating a snack or browsing your social media for ten minutes. This seems like it would be counterproductive, but if you let yourself take a break, you will be more productive when you go back to work.

I will admit that my word on this subject is by no means final, these are just a few habits that help me keep myself in check. Procrastinating never leads to less stress, it just compounds the stress you feel at a given time to a later date. With finals edging closer, staying on top of your work becomes even more important! To all of my fellow students, good luck, and I hope that this article helps you feel a little bit more in control of your school life.

-Mirabella S.

Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Required Reading

As students, we’ve all experienced novels in English class that are required for us to read. Sometimes these books turn out to be good and other times, not so much. Personally, I have disliked most of the books I’ve been required to read for a number of reasons. However, I can see the benefits to required reading as it is done through the school system.

There are certainly some advantages to required reading material in school. One could be that the book causes students to branch out of their comfort zone, as far as books go, and help them pursue a new genre that they, normally, would not have read by themselves. This advantage holds true to me, since I am someone who has no trouble re-reading Harry Potter for the zillionth time. I find it interesting if we read a book in class that I would not have otherwise wanted to read.

Required reading can help to grow vocabulary, reading, and writing proficiency. If a student was to go to a library and pick out any book, they would most likely pick one they like or are comfortable with reading. In school, students do not have the luxury of choosing which books to read, and therefore are subject to harder vocabulary and sentence types in higher level books written by authors with insanely confusing diction. This relates to my English class experiences with A Tale of Two Cities which challenged my reading and writing proficiency greatly. Although these examples may make required reading seem great, students may also find themselves despising any book they are forced to read and make it harder for the student to get involved in the class or homework.

A solution to this problem would be to give students a list of different books they can read, all out of their comfort zone of genre and reading proficiency level, and give them the choice of which book they would like to read. This gives students the idea that they themselves are choosing what they want to read which may result in fewer students being uninterested or unfocused while keeping a challenging level of reading and vocabulary along with it.

-Kyle H.

What are your thoughts on required reading? Let us know in the comments below!

Life and Society in The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and published in 1925. I liked the fact that this novel accurately depicts what life was like in the 1920’s, and the types of people who lived it. The setting of this novel takes place in New York, and the area in which the main character, Nick, lives is set in West Egg and East Egg. Both of these cities are considered to be wealthy cities. West Egg, where Nick has a home, is considered to be “new money,” while East Egg, where his cousin, Daisy and her husband Tom Buchannan live, is thought to be “old money.”

West Egg is the type of city in which people have earned their money and East Egg is where people have inherited their money from older generations. However, Nick’s neighbor, Jay Gatsby, is known to be the wealthiest of them all. He lives in a humongous mansion and throws parties almost every weekend where anyone is free to attend.  An example of how this novel reflects the conventions of the time period, the 1920’s was known as the “Roaring Twenties,” and the types of parties held signified how careless people were about spending money and that they did not care about ruthless behaviors.

Another example would be that one of the important characters in this novel, George Wilson, lives in an area known as the “Valley of Ashes,” a place where the poor working class live. In the Valley of Ashes, the eyes on a billboard of one of the wealthiest citizens, Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, seems to always watching the entire city. George Wilson believes that Eckleburg is a God after stating “God sees everything” while looking at the billboard. This signifies that the national religion of the United States during the twenties was business and wealth instead of God Himself.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel as this precisely described how life was like in the “Roaring Twenties” with many people becoming wealthy due to the economic boost and how those people were being careless with their money and behaviors. Also, George Wilson believing that the wealthiest are like Gods was also interesting and accurate. However, due to many careless spending, this would ultimately lead to the crash of the stock market and the rise of the Great Depression starting in the 1930’s. I would recommend this book because of how it relates to the accurate history in the United States that occurred and the outcome.

-Matt J

The Great Gatsby is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive and Hoopla

Passion

There was a time in my life when I talked about books as though they were sustenance, as though they were essential to my survival. I devoured stories and inhaled pages. I vividly remember checking out four, five, six books at time and somehow finishing them all before the two weeks were up. Though that experience is shared with many people, a majority of adults fail to make time for reading.

I often wonder where that passion goes.

To most people, reading is thought of as a chore, or something for the forgotten bottom end of a to-do list. Reading is a fizzling New Year’s Resolution. Reading is a Barnes & Noble credit card but dusty shelves. When people talk about getting back into reading, it is as though they are starting a new project at work, as though they are radically changing their schedules.

New units of time have to be carved out of a schedule, clearly labeled “READ” in blocky black lettering. Books fill shopping bags, along with all the obviously necessary accessories to reading – fancy bookmarks and clip on lights and slogan-laden tote bags – because now, you are a Reader.

There is something lost in this frenzy. In this sort of Oprah’s Book Club, unbroken-spine kind of reading, books are a status symbol.

I find myself in this rut occasionally. Rearranging and rearranging the same shelves with an obsessiveness, buying War and Peace and Les Miserables because they’re the sort of books a pretentious academic like myself should have.

I miss that feeling that all library-bound children have. That feeling that there were an infinite amount of words in the world, and if I only read fast enough, flipped enough pages, then I would be able to drink them all in.

So many people have a desire to read; to become that excited kid again. We want to be the one who’s not only Heard of That, but Read It. We want to know authors and quotes and have worn paperbacks to pass on to friends and family. We want to feel that love and intensity that stories used to inspire.

I truly believe that feeling is still inside every adult today. Maybe it’s buried under stress and deadlines and distraction, but it’s there.

All we have to do is find the right book.

-Zoe K.