I do not understand why numbers dictate our lives. 100's and 90's and 80's and what did you gets and how did you dos. I do not get why titles personify us or why digits defines who we are. Don’t tell me that you don’t get that sense of exhilaration when you smile, cock your head and say “I got a 95, what ‘bout you?” Because you tried so hard to get that grade. You went to the AIS tutoring session, you went to an ARISTA peer-tutoring session, and you studied the material a week in advance. But in the end of the day it’s just a number. Your report card is just a number. Your college application is filled with numbers. Your. Life. Is. Filled. With. Numbers. And why, what for? To get into Harvard, to get into Columbia, to get into Yale, to get into Princeton, to get into what? To get a good job, to get married, have kids, to live the American Dream. But you don’t need numbers for that. You don’t need the titles and the reputation that an Ivy League college brings. And all that stress, all that sleep deprivation and for what? To get a good job? To marry right? To have kids? But that person to your right... He’ll marry, he’ll have kids, and he will eventually die. That person to your left... She’ll also marry, she’ll also have kids, and then she’ll also die. So why are you letting that 65 define who you are if everyone in life ends up exactly in the same place? What are your afraid of? Ending up as a late-night shift Walmart worker? Do you see that 65 as an omen that you’ll be a McDonald's employee some point in your future? It isn't. Numbers don’t foretell what you are in life. A math test or an SAT score doesn't determine your goddamn salary number.
A Cold Friendship
It never snows in California, and that’s why I was very excited about this winter. My family had just moved to New York from California because they got new jobs. I was a little too excited about the fluffy, cold, and whit-- nevermind, they are not white.
My high expectations were met with well, not-so-high reality. The snow was muddy brown in the worst possible way and I was really upset. Like really, really upset. I asked Siri why the snow in New York City are not white. Of course Siri was being dumb and only gave me results on the web for why is the snow brown in New York City. I asked my mom too and she told me that when it first snows, they are white but as the day passes on, people step on them and they melt so it changes color. I went up to my bedroom and set the alarm clock for five, cause that’s the time this dude on the weather channel said it will start snowing.
The next morning I woke up before my alarm clock did. The weatherman had lied, it had started snowing a long time ago. I wasn’t upset though because the snow is still crisp white on the ground. I throw on my jackets and went outside. My dad told me that kids normally build snowmen with snow so that’s exactly what I did. After a good hour, I was finally done. I named the snowman Dylan.
Everyday, Dylan and I would talk about different things and he became my first and only friend in New York. We go on adventures to fight the invading pigeons and creepy neighbor next door. However, nothing last forever. The dark ages soon came and I had one last playdate with Dylan before the dark ages arrive. By dark ages, I meant spring. When I woke up on the first day of the dark ages, I opened my window and saw a puddle in the front yard. They took Dylan from me.
How did I know this? Dylan told me it happens every year. But he said he will visit next year and we can continue our adventures. That never happened. My family and I moved back to California because they got new jobs again. I really miss Dylan, I talk to my friends about him all the time. They got really jealous that they don’t have such a “cool” friend.
12 years later, I got accepted into Columbia, packed up my bags and got onto a plane flying straight for New York. The owner of the house I use to live in is renting it and was kind enough to give me the offer. I walked into the front yard and saw a pile of snow. Immediately, I dropped everything and knelt down in the snow. After some playing around with the snow, I see Dylan, he’s back. We immediately began to talk about what happened to each other for the last 12 years. It’s as if I never left.
pour that sweet cup.
we all sit down
just stare out that window
hearing the stairs creaking,
the wind blowing,
hearing the cat purr,
the kettle whistle.
all the sounds of home
they float with the clouds
far, far away until no one
and nothing can be seen
until all that is left
is the little light
the light that is you
shining in the sky.
around you go,
between the planets,
around the moon,
everywhere and nowhere,
until you come right back;
back to where it started,
back with the sounds,
all the sounds of home.
Your calendar has a date
For Valentine's Day
And yet you don't
You're full of hate
Anything that you say
To help yourself, won’t
Christmas has passed
And you still act like the Grinch
Something from your past
Prevents you from being able to grin
You can't keep that chin high
You ask yourself why
You're so lonely
You're one and only
You want those chocolates
Those heart-shaped cards
Those big-sized teddy bears
But material objects
Won't mend your heart
You've had too much to bear
You hate yourself
Wanna find love again
It's not on a shelf
To buy or easy to spend
Can't keep that heart warm
Thoughts caught in a war
Because you need some self-love
You're fighting a battle, it's tough
*NOTE: This piece was previously submitted as an essay for Euro Lit class. Many thanks to the editors, Veronika Kowalski, Bernard Wang, and Mr. Grossman, who contributed to this work and made it as polished as it is. This essay is based off of the novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, so if things feel out of context, that's why.
Il neigeait doucement, mais j'étais entre ses bras. Slow, rhythmic dove-white splotches scattered the bitter wintery sky. My heart was fluttering, a deep murmur of the soul. His arms, slipped around my shoulders, enveloping, and emanating warmth. Through a dreamy haze, deep empathetic sea-blue eyes stared back at me, his electric blond hair slightly ruffled, his smooth, porcelain skin slightly paler in the frosted air. His cheeks also had small blotches, rosy red, a faint brush of colour against an empty canvas. I could even hear small bits of his dialogue. His voice, a velvet-coated croon, soft and slippery, could slide smoothly against my ears. He would talk about art—yes, art was certainly romantic—he would be rambling on about The Birth of Venus painted by the masterful Botticelli. “Cette peinture est très romantique!” he would proclaimed, expressing his burning passion for the piece, and he would stare up at the wintery gray sky with his eyes flung wide-open, the sea-blue eyes: smooth, sunken, curious orbs.
And then he yawned. My dreamy eyes fluttered in a flattered surprise. His pink-red lips parted and slowly revealed his cheese-colored teeth. As he was lightly salivating and letting out the cry of a fallen mule, I was falling in love. But suddenly, the blinds started shuddering, a slight rattle against the window. A light gust gently blew through the pages of my copy of L’Amour Sous La Neige. Every chapter always contained a poetic phrase about the charm of his voice and the sensitivity of his soul.
Books. Sometimes, I would be tearing through one, enveloped in the black-and-white words, and I would turn the page—albeit lost in a foreign world—and my mouth would form a small ‘o’ in surprise. One time especially, I was walking through lands you imagine you can see. I merged with the character; my heart beating so hard within the clothes he was wearing. I was weeping in the streets of Yonville, my heart torn in the tragic storm of the words into a thousand-and-one pieces, my tears tiny droplets on my peasant garbs, when all of sudden, a disregarding arm yanked me by the back of my shirt, and then my eyes were greeted by the four blank walls of my monotonous bedroom. I sulked for a brief period of time, staring out through the window, gazing at the starless urban sky. I slowly placed my foot against the cool, wooden floor and slipped into bed. Eventually I dozed off, consumed by the warmth of the silky white sheets. Today, however, was different. After reading L’Amour Sous La Neige, I rolled around in my bed, thinking about him. I forced my eyes shut, trying to force sleep to slowly slip across my mind, but to no avail. I always had wanted to be in love with someone like him. I had always believed that love came suddenly, with loud thunder claps and bolts of lightning. Maybe, one day.
I felt the tepid warmth of the morning sun against my eyelids, and slowly, I opened my eyes. Through my window, broken rays of sunlight, filtered by my blinds, trickled into my bedroom from the December sun. I slowly climbed out of my bed, and slipped on a wool cardigan, my favorite skinny jeans, and my pink knit scarf. Soon enough, I was out the door, headed for the town square.
In Willow, a small suburban nook in the evergreen forests of New Hampshire, the town square was definitely the place to go if one wanted to hang out with their friends. In a sleepy, boring town like Willow, where you can find worst seafood of the Northeast, where even old Bertha’s art, the town ‘aspiring artist’ is without expressive emphasis--the town square has all the posh boutiques, the town bank, Willow High School, town hall, and all other essential facilities. Snow scattered the sky as they fell atop houses, lawns, and great taiga trees in the forest surrounding the town. Somehow, the scene from L’Amour Sous La Neige bestowed me an unfamiliar appreciation for the typical lackluster snow of Willow—as if the monotony of the town had somehow contributed to that. I marched through the snow in my leather boots and eventually reached the square.
My boots sank softly into the freshly fallen snow, crisp soft plop-plops in a silent winter morning street. After a short walk of 5 minutes, I reached the square, and I immediately let out a small gasp as I stopped in my tracks. The benches looked normal, albeit covered with a crisp velvet layer of snow; the boutiques, closed for the weekend, were normal as well. But standing in the center of the square was a lone figure, painting on a somewhat dingy canvas. That electric blond hair, slightly ruffled and coated with airy fluffs of snow, seemed a bit duller than I had imagined. For a moment, my mouth hung open, until he turned to me. I gasped as I looked at his face—big, ambitious sea-blue eyes stared at me, in confusion—but on further inspection, his eyes were instead a stormy gray. It was him from L’Amour Sous La Neige—except...worse? He walked slowly towards me, and then, arriving about a meter from my foot, he stopped.
“What is your name?” he said, softly, in a half whisper.
“Kara” I said, my voice, also a half whisper.
And the next thing I knew, I was lost in conversation with him. I was babbling on about the wretchedness of earthly affections and the eternal isolation in which the heart remains entombed. To show himself to good advantage, naturally imitating my melancholy, he declared that he had been prodigiously bored throughout his studies. By the end of our conversation, my eyes were tearing up, moved that he had been so bored going to school. Deep inside me, I had an epiphany—I was so bored about my studies too! How romantique!
Hands were shoving me around, I groaned as I opened my eyes, and stared around, and saw my mom manically shoving me to get up. “What are you doing, Mom?” I screamed, frantic, confused as to why I was in my room again.
“You weren’t getting up, honey! I was so scared! Are you okay?” she asked, her eyes lit with concern.
My head heaved in confusion, as I gasped to grip some words to answer my mother. “Yea, mom. I just was really tired.” I said, thinking of the safest reply.
“Okay honey. School starts in 30 minutes, you better start getting ready,” she said, as she walked out the door.
And I looked, an empty gaze staring back from the vanity. My dreams, were certainly only dreams. And then, I laughed. I flung my head back and burst into laughter, horrible, frantic, despairing laughter, no doubt re-experiencing the lost ecstasy of my first mystical yearnings.
 It was snowing softly, but I was in his arms.
 This painting is very romantic!
 The Love Under Snow (Fictitious Novel)
Next To Me
You call the day and the day before
asking, “hey, I’d like your help”
Those few words always make me feel
like I would swoon and melt
I know you do not look at me
the way I’d like you to
It’s just enough to be by your side
but I still hope you’d take a clue
You call the day and the day before
asking, “what chocolate should I buy?”
It’s not for me, yes I know that’s true
but still I’d want to try
I sat next to you all day yesterday
to pick a card he’d love
It was blue with a hint of pink
complete with a nest of doves
You call the day and the day before
with a shout of “HE SAID YES!”
I smiled a genuine smile
I’m happy for you, I guess
You call the day and the day before
saying “thanks for your support!”
And I can’t get mad with a ‘thanks’ so glad
so I pretend it doesn’t hurt.
Dear Mr. Wind
Can you hear me? I've been calling your name but you never answer. Where did you go?
I live in New York now, the city that never sleeps. Please find me.
I know, the buildings are tall, and the streets are crowded. You might get lost within the subway tunnels or skyscrapers. I know I have. Maybe you'll mistake another face for mine. After all, there are more than 8.5 million souls inhabiting this city. Regardless, please look for me. I will be the one calling for you.
Remember the first time we met? I was all alone, standing in the middle of an empty parking lot with tears trickling across my skin. I asked you if my parents would arrive soon.
"Blow strongly if the answer is yes. Cease if the answer is no," I instructed. "Please?"
I remember how my words floated up into the air, bouncing softly off the unoccupied concrete before reaching your ears.
There was a moment of silence, drowning me in a gut-wrenching feeling of stupidity and despair. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a powerful gust of wind blew the tears off my face and brought a grey Toyota into the parking lot.
"Thank you, Mr. Wind."
After that, you became one of my best friends. I talked with you about everything: school, family, friends, cute boys, etc. You were my confidant, my rock, and the answer to all the questions that nobody else could respond to.
I remember taking a walk each day, even when the weather was below -15 degrees, just to talk to you. That's how important you were to me. That's how much I trusted you.
But then I moved.
I guess it was partly my fault. I forgot about you, and replaced our time with the mounds of homework that school burdened me with.
However, I remember you now. Maybe it's because I'm alone again, standing at the center of empty space and homework packets. Maybe it's because my head is swarmed with questions that have no clear answer. Maybe it's just because I miss you, and I want to hear your voice again.
I've been calling for you, but you never answer.
Mr. Wind, where are you? Please find me.
Dream Journal: Origami Boats
Join Veronika in her quirky, elaborate, and cinematic dreams in this recurring series.
I dreamt it was a rainy day and Ms. Saugin was supposed to keep the entire freshman class. We were put into tiny classes, and the walls were all blue. Occasionally, Ms. Saugin had to check in on us. Connor O’Malley was in my classroom. He wanted to leave but Ms. Saugin wouldn’t let him. She would bring us arts and crafts to do, like making origami boats. When she saw I had something she didn’t bring me, she’d ask whether I brought it into school to see if her activities were keeping us busy enough or if she needed to give us something more to do. There were about five people per classroom. I showed my classmates my tiny playing cards that I couldn’t put back in time.