On Complaints by Sophia Mazoschek

Last week in Creative Writing we started the process of making zines (replacements for our beloved but occasionally overambitious literary journal, Umlaut). We were broken up into groups of four and tasked with coming up with an original idea for a zine. I tried to look contemplative and scribbled a few notes on my paper, but my mind was elsewhere; On the huge stack of English work I had waiting for me at home, the fact that I was scheduled to babysit for the entire weekend, and a hundred other minor problems that somehow felt like the most reprehensible injustices the world had ever seen.

Recently I have been complaining to anyone who’ll listen. I realize that this isn’t exactly an endearing characteristic, but I can’t shut it off. My relatively normal life has suddenly and inexplicably become a source of constant frustration. I’m out of it all the time and feel stuck on autopilot, as if my daily life is just a boring short film on a never-ending loop. Obviously this is a normal thing for a 16-year-old to be going through, and people tolerate it to a point, but after, say, a week, you’re expected to suck it up and feel better.

What usually gets me out a funk like this is doing something productive or focused on self-improvement, like exercise. But this time around I haven’t been able to redirect my feelings into the sort of productive energy that might help solve my problems. Attempts to sweat them out always end in sore muscles and frustration, and trying to write about them yields at most a half-page of repetitive whining. And without an outlet, the negativity festers until I feel compelled to unload it on my friends again. It’s a vicious cycle.

After brainstorming aimlessly for a while, one of our group members (I want to say it was me but I honestly can’t remember) came up with an ingenious idea: Complaints. Our zine will be a compilation of multimedia grievances from students all over the school. We’ll be accepting anything from angry anarcho-punk playlists to letters to the editor to straight up bellyaching. After all, doesn’t everyone need to vent about something?

As a junior, I’m the head of my zine group, and I’ll be the first to admit that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing- submission guidelines, deadlines and design ideas are all up in the air. God knows if our zine will come together or not. But I’m excited to get started; Whether it ends up being a hit or a miss, at least I’ll finally be channeling that negativity into something productive.

Sophia Mazoschek, class of 2017

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