Watching “Sonny’s Bridge” by Teya Cooksey-Voytenko

It was quiet, except for the occasional squeak of someone’s sneaker, and the low hum of people muttering to one another, discussing ideas and thoughts on different pieces. One out of a pair of headphones was lazily hanging from my shirt neck, the other was tucked into my ear playing some version of a slow song. I was sitting on a bench having angled myself to face “Sonny’s Bridge,” one of Faith Ringgold’s quilt canvas pieces, which was quietly tucked into a back corner of the second exhibition room. The piece caught my eye the moment I noticed it. The colors with the bridge had made such an interesting connection, and my heart almost sang with inspiration when I got a good look at it. 

I could see the outlines of all the other people surrounding me in my peripheral vision. I couldn’t care to pay attention to them though, I was mesmerized, watching my pencil move up and down scratching its lead into the paper, seeing the steady motion, watching as it formed letters and later words. Slowly crafting every piece of the poem, glancing up at the art piece every so often to see if I could glimpse more insight into where to take my writing; trying to fit the meaning of Faith Ringgold’s work into my work. Trying to find the connection between the two worlds. Working to weave the colors, take the strands of cotton, and sew them into my story, tell my thoughts, my journey through the poem. It became a sort of carpal vision: just me and “Sonny’s Bridge.” For the moment in time, it was just us. The whole world revolved around us. 

I sat for twenty minutes, writing, just me and my thoughts. At this point I had put in my other earphone, completely tuning out the world. It was just me and my writing, just me trying to figure out the connection between my thoughts. Trying to think and put it down on paper, where it was just me and my writing. My writing and my thoughts.

Where I Get My Inspiration, by Max Chu

There’s something about holding a cold glass bottle that makes me feel sophisticated. When you pinch it by the rim with two fingers, how the glass on my finger somehow feels exactly like when I first perfected me card shuffle bridge. Suddenly I’m on the deck of an ancient house in the middle of the midwest (middle of the middle of the west) at sunset. Some jazz record is playing on the record player back in the house, and I can faintly hear it. I got one arm back on the railing, and you’re not afraid of splinters because I;m too cool for that. I got a cool bottle of something delicious in my hand. Nothing can flip my groove. Now I’m not talking about any alcoholic beverage here, folks. I’m talking about the pure stuff. The ginger ale at BiRite that costs $1 for ginger ale and $4 for feeling cool while I hold it. I’m talking about the cream soda that goes down like a freshly laminated comic book. I’m talking about the Trader Joe’s 100% Pineapple Juice, the acquired taste of acquired tastes.

One year at summer camp there was a girl with sunglasses that had reflective lenses. They shielded her eyes from the sun while at the same time concealed her motives. They had pastel blue frames with nearly perfect reflective lenses. She looked mysterious as she protected her eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun; the ultimate victory. At the time, my own glasses paled in comparison to hers (red wood frames with rainbow lenses) and so we traded. An hour later, I sat on mine. Four months later, she lost hers.

There’s a stall in a market in Bangkok that sells the most revolting shaved ice in the world. Shaved ice, for those who don’t know, is easier than scrambled eggs. Shave some ice into a bowl and throw some sickly sweet syrup on top and boom! Perfect shaved ice. The criteria for shaved ice is rather low, so a “perfect” shaved ice isn’t that difficult to come by. This place obviously didn’t get the memo, because their product tasted like greek yogurt, peach cough medicine, and a salty D- on a test you studied for. How they’re still in business is beyond quite frankly every living being above the mosquito. The locals obviously know to stay away, so they must have to apply even more goat intestinal fluid to attract the unsuspecting tourists with the colorful chemical green hue. Oh, “It’s a local delicacy” my ass! The omelette my sister forgot to eat but still put in the fridge five weeks ago has more culture and is more appealing.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that everything has a story, it just needs to be drawn out. And if drawing a story out means lying face first in a couch for twenty minutes to an hour listening to local news, then so be it (although my mom say the best way to draw something out is to soak it in hot salt water but I think she was talking about splinters).

Max Chu, class of 2020

Why I Write by Amina Aineb

I write a lot about my dreams. Or at least I try to. How can you
describe the surreal beauty of dreams? It’s near impossible. I used to
keep a dream journal. All the sentences are incoherent, all the syntax
just doesn’t flow right. But I can see and feel the dreams perfectly
in my head.

They say you should write everyday instead of waiting for inspiration
to strike. The remarkable things in life happen everyday, meaning you
can remark on everything. There is no “writer’s block” and there will
never be a day when there is nothing else to write about, nothing new
to say. If you are a writer and feel that you can’t write anymore,
it’s because you don’t want to. That’s fine. Go for a walk instead.
Write later.

As hard as it is to write down your dreams, you can also lie about
them, because thank God no one saw them but you. In a dream you open a
cupboard and see an amorphous red shape. Change it to a small doll. Or

Here is why I write. I want to do the world justice with the right
words. I want to show you how good it feels to wake up with the sun on
my face. You probably already know how that feels, but isn’t it
excellent we both experienced it? I want to soak all of this up and
then ring it out into a cup for you to drink, so you’ll be ready. I
want to make you cry until I start crying with you. I want to describe
my mother’s herb roasted chicken and mashed potatoes until you can
taste them in your mouth. I would make dinner for you, but I can’t.
I’m a lousy cook.

Amina Aineb, class of 2017

Stories Are Everywhere by Lena Hartsough

I see stories everywhere. In every face I examine, in every short phrase I overhear, and in every label or sign I read.

For instance, one day I was at my friend’s house with her and another friend. We were finishing her enormous carton of Odwalla®, and I noticed that on the back of the carton it said, “Separation is natural – shake it up!®” For some reason, I found this hilarious. I pointed it out to my friend, while our host sorted records on the floor, and she laughed too. We thought up scenarios for the phrase, including quite a few puberty classes. She thought that it would be the puberty teacher telling students that it’s natural for boys and girls to grow apart as they grow older, and I said it was a world where humans are born without a butt crack, and the separation spoken of is when the buttocks separate from one into two.

I think the reason we attributed the simple sentence to a puberty class was because it seemed a bit condescending. The exclamation point made it sound like an overexcited teacher when we read it out loud.

Although that situation was comedic, this penchant of mine for seeing stories has often helped me find inspiration for my writing. Many of my ideas for pieces to write come from songs or smaller stories that I find. In fact, as I write this post, I quickly type down another idea onto my list of story inspirations. It came from a song I just heard.

Lena Hartsough, class of 2019