School End Wisdom

by Avi (’15)

As the school dwindles to the last weeks, I can sense a feeling of despair in the eyes of my classmates. It’s funny how when the end is so close, it seems so far away. With this despair can come the lack of enthusiasm, or the feeling that “class doesn’t matter anymore, I only have two more actual weeks anyways.” This is not true. These last few weeks are what can bring that B to either an A, or a C.  These weeks are the time to put in the most effort.

Right now, I am right alongside my classmates. In some subjects, I straight up don’t care anymore. I tell myself, “When am I going to need to know what kind of bonding occurs between hydrogen and fluorine?  Probably never.” I tell myself, “Why do I care about (excuse my language, but it’s the correct term) bullshitting my way to a higher grade with more WebQuests and cookies.”  These mantras  do not help my enthusiasm for school.

What I need to tell myself is that I should try hard because I want to finish strong. In the words of Molly Bond, “[You should]… do… well…[in school because] Flannery O’Connor… [and grades].”  Besides Flannery O’Connor wanting me to do well, I’ll admit I’m doing most of my work now just to get good grades. This is a bad work ethic. It turns noble assignments into busy work.

Grades are no longer a result of doing good work, but the only incentive that keeps me from not doing it at all. I tell myself to look ahead into the foggy summer that San Francisco has to offer. However, this is hard to do but in the words of Kacey Musgraves, “If you’re gonna find a silver linin’/ It’s gotta be a cloudy day.”

My silver lining for the rest of school is Creative Writing. Creative Writing is what keeps me from completely giving up on school. So, you might see me with dull eyes, drooling over papers in all my other classes, but for the rest of the year in Creative Writing I’m going to try my best at showing enthusiasm. Besides, we are one very lucky group of kids to get to spend time with high quality artists-in-residence, and eating great food (Maia, I loved your tempeh!)

So, the moral of this post is, in the words of Andy Grammer, “[to] keep your head up, oh, and you can let your hair down, eh..”  Let’s finish this school year strong!  The finish line is just over the mountain!

The Office

by Noa (’16)

Like all things, both good and bad, The Office– NBC’s hit mockumentary about office workers at the paper company, Dunder Mifflin, in Scranton, Pensylvania– is coming to an end. I, like many other TV watchers, am sad to see it go. Had you asked me a week ago if I would miss The Office, my answer would probably have been “Eh. Not really.” However, I have recently had a change of heart. After being stuck in bed all weekend with a fever and general fatigue, I resorted to re-watching all of the old Office episodes, because, frankly, I’ve probably seen about everything else on Netflix instant-streaming. At first, I was a bit hesitant. My first experience watching The Office was one of mild entertainment, but mostly indifference. But this second time around was eye-opening. I came to the realization that, although it seems to be simply about a paper company, The Office is so much more than that. It’s about the meaning of friendship, and teamwork, and the modern work industry, and how life in a small town in a small business is anything but small, and a hilarious beet farmer/black belt/ Assistant to the Regional Manager named Dwite. It’s about Phillis, and Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration, and Stanley, and Meredith, and Angela, and Kelly, and Ryan, and Andy, and Michael, and Creed, and the adorable couple, Jim (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EnsjrDsVyI) and Pam, and so much more. Like all TV shows, The Office has had its ups and downs (season 8— really?), but I was once again reminded of its undeniable charm and wit and Pim’s (Jam’s?) adorable coupley-ness. I can now honestly say that I will miss The Office when it leaves the air, but Dunder Mifflin, thanks to Netflix, will forever remain in my heart.

Internship

by Frances (’14)

Sometimes it takes a while to figure things out. I learned this in my internship this year. Because of the self-governed, self-created nature of the Community Internship, I had chances in class to reflect on the direction I think we should take the project. However, I quickly realized that I do not have very much experience in outreach or volunteer-work, which were the two initial ideas from which we constructed the internship. In class, I could easily identify the problems we needed to fix—not enough diversity in Creative Writing being one of them—but I couldn’t think of any good way to stop it.

We spent most of our internship classes discussing the problems, as well as possible solutions, before we all agreed as a group that it was a problem too big for us to really tackle. Instead, through the conversations, we found a new window open to us, which still had to do with work in the community, and by extension, outreach; we decided we wanted to volunteer, write about, and learn about various people and organizations in our community.

I found this to be a positive experience. Although outreach did not succeed this year, Giorgia and I will renew our efforts next year, running a portfolio workshop at 826. Now I know the problems and obstacles in organization and leadership, and I feel prepared to tackle them.

826

Umläut Release Party 2013

by Abigail (’14)

On Friday the third, Umläut had a successful (and profitable) release party for the 2014 issue, dubbed Plastic Knives! We pity everyone who wasn’t there, and we’re sure those who came didn’t regret spending the night before Prom with us.

While the prime attraction was, obviously, this year’s Umläut— as professional and polished as ever, but with a new matte cover this time— there was also great music by Rin Tin Tiger and Mayya Feygina, food donated by Arizmendi and CW parents, and a raffle. It was probably one of the balmiest days we’ll see this year, but most people managed to stay inside long enough to listen to several of the published authors read their work.

We couldn’t have done it without 826 Valencia’s generosity in offering us the space for the night, free! Thanks to the parents who contributed to covering what 826 usually charges.

If you missed the party, we trust you won’t make the same mistake again next year, but you can get your new Umläut at SOTA at lunch (we’re selling outside of the CW room) or by emailing abeschott@gmail.com. Soon it should be available to purchase online at http://sotashop.myshopify.com/products/umlautliterary-journal.

umläut

I Have a Crush on Flannery O’Connor

by Molly (’15)

I have a crush on Flannery O’Connor.

No, not that kind of crush. A literary crush. We all have one, right? That one particular author who makes us so excited we could kiss the book, or whose sentence structure makes us melt a little inside? Even though literary crushes are common, people seem to think my “thing” for Flannery takes it to the next level. Maybe it’s because I squeal whenever her name is said, or because my eyes go wide when the words “Southern” and “fiction” are used in the same sentence, or because I want to raise peacocks on a dairy farm in Georgia instead of going to college like I’m supposed to.

I don’t know what these feelings are, but they are very strong. This happens to me a lot, but I have never had such intense feelings for a person whom I’ve never even met, whom I have only grown to know through biographies and letters and stories, a person whom I know I’ll never meet due to my cruel placement in the twenty-first century.

The weirdest part is that I can’t even explain to myself why I like her so much. You’d think it would be her fiction, and I’m not denying that her fiction is spectacular (that is such an understatement), but there must be some greater pull. All I can do is guess, but I think my love for Flannery O’Connor stems from the fact that she has opened my mind so much that it hurts. She has introduced me to religion and its importance, removing me from the annoying close-minded atheist position I held previously. This isn’t to say I’m suddenly a militant Catholic, but I’m less sure of the world than I was before, which I find to be a positive change. What she’s done is forced me to think. Flannery, although so removed in time and space, has had a huge impact on my life.

Plus she’s really pretty.

This Isn’t A Dog And Pony Show!

by Mykel (’14)

There’s a feeling I like to call “end of the year nihilism,” and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. For someone as lazy and evasive as yours truly, heaps of final projects and tests often result in what the experts like to call a “fuck-it-all coma.”

I’m trying to avoid that scary place in my brain this year. And you know what’s really helping out with that right now? Our awesome artist in residence, Sarah Fontaine.

Oh yes, this is one of those posts.

Her combination of flexibility and structure, experimentation and “engagement with discipline” reminds me how meaningful school can be. I am personally having a great time with the genre-bending texts she has us reading, but our unit gives me more than texts to think about. It reminds me what a huge privilege it is to spend all my days learning. In other words, even if some of my experience with school is annoying and uncomfortable, it’s still not “a dog and pony show.” (Sarah Fontaine’s words.) It still has things to offer me.

Just because Creative Writing is in the middle of a really cool unit doesn’t mean that school is fun all of a sudden. But doing things like listening to an entire album without distractions, holding silent conversations, and reading confusing literature make me more willing to sit through things that may be boring or uncomfortable. And more than that, the kinds of homework we are being assigned remind me to be more open to what my “boring” experiences have to offer me.

if you think this is about you, it probably is

by Shanna (’13)

i didn’t eat for 3 days and 3
stupid
boys
told me i looked skinny enough
to toss in a bed
and i broke 3 nails
punching them out

you’re scared of me because i
curse like it’s my first language and
i act like i’m 6’2
even though i don’t wear
high heels cause they
make me feel inferior
to you
and your dirty sneakers

i’m good at telling the truth
like
my english teacher won’t know
what the fuck to do with my poetry
cause it’s gnarly, messy
unrhymed and i probably mention
something inappropriate
like that time you
told me you think about me naked
when you close your eyes
in the shower

when you try to kiss me i’ll probably
ask you if i look like your ex
i’m good at that
awkward small talk
bumping hands like
my limbs are
little accidents

i understand if you wanna pick
another blonde
with longer legs and bluer eyes
with a cleaner mouth, better breath
i’m a little used
and i still have scars
and discolorations
up and down my
body
from the bites
and brush strokes
of everyone
before you
who told me
i was perfect
till i wasn’t

i have a problem
with the way you
make eye contact
like it’s delicate
instinctive
and i hate the way you
get so close to my face
like you’re trying to find
out what i had for lunch
like you’re trying to
crawl into my mouth
again

i wrote your name on my notebooks
and the insides of my fingers
the kind of ink that smears when you lick it
the kind that gets on your neck
when i pull you forward
yanking out your molars
with my tongue
and i don’t want to be around me
when i’m in a bad mood
either

there are parts of
my body
you’ll only see in
a textbook
and i’m sorry for
all the creepy glances
at the bus stop
but i don’t like handshakes
and i don’t want your hugs

i didn’t eat for 3 days
and you told me i
was just your type

As all of you have no doubt heard

by Molly (’15)

As all of you have no doubt heard, Abigail has stepped down from her duties as Closet Queen. I, as her successor, would like to thank the public for electing me to this vital role in Creative Writing society.

Those of you who are familiar with Closet Queen duties know how highly sought-after this position is. It is an indescribable pleasure to scurry across the hallways, providing utensils for people’s birthdays. The joy I get from opening the door to the Creative Writing closet down the hallway with my very own key is worth the incredible responsibilities this job brings. I know that if I were to ever lose the key, my pride and sense of worth would be lost right with it; therefore, to be extra careful with the public’s trust in my abilities, I keep the keys in a locked box in another locked box in a locker, which is fortified on both the inside and the outside with stainless steel.

I assure you all that I will meet my duties with as much care as Abigail did. Although we will all miss sending her off to retrieve the cake knives and ice-cream spoons, her time as Closet Queen has come to an end, as all things do. As a junior, she was much too old for the job, which is better-suited for a wry and supple sophomore such as me. Although my time in office will also come to an end eventually, I am looking forward to a long and eventful career as Creative Writing’s loyal Closet Queen, and once again thank you all for selecting me.

Sciiiiiiieeeeence

by Mykel (’14)

I’ve always been an obsessive person. I move through intense phases where I read everything I can on a particular subject. I cycle through periods of enthusiasm: eras of history, TV shows, foods, philosophies, and musicians have all had their turn in the spotlight…

I always have the urge to share my excitement with other people, which I’m sure gets seriously annoying, because it usually ends up with me rolling around on the CW carpet and saying “Midoooriiii! It’s sooo cooooolll.”

Anyways, my most recent obsession is fermentation! (It’s so cool!) I love seeing bacteria at work in such a concrete way. Letting certain kinds of bacteria do their thing on dairy, fruits, and vegetables actually increases their digestability and nutritional value. Plus the stuff is fun to make and super tasty. I like how it makes me think about all the beneficial microbes humans live with in symbiotic relationships. And how human bodies are superorganisms.

So far, I’ve made my own yogurt/yogurt cheese. With the whey (excess fluid you get when you strain yogurt or cheese), I’m going to make my own fermented apple chutney! Then maybe I’ll move on to beets and carrots. Mmmm. Microbes.

Declarative Statements About the Future

by Hazel (’13)

It seems that kids are supposed to know what they want to do with their lives at younger and younger ages. Anyone who is in school right now (and possibly others, though I can’t speak for them) will probably know what I’m talking about. The thing is, it’s so accepted that it’s not one of those things people complain about as they congregate around their lockers between classes; it’s just an accepted source of stress.

Considering the specialized nature of SOTA, there actually are a lot of people who have a pretty solid sense of what they want to do in college, if not for the rest of their lives. It’s admirable, it’s impressive, and I wish those people the best of luck in pursuing what they love. And yet, the proportion of people who seem confident in their plans for the future strikes me as implausible. Can all these people really know themselves that well? The very thought of it baffles me.

Like many people in high school, I usually try to blend in, and when I see someone else doing something I like, I try to do it too. So, because I perceive other people my age as having concrete goals that are relevant to the rest of their lives, well, I want them too. So I’ve started making these big, declarative statements.

“I’m going to get a low-paying job to support myself while I write books!”

“I just want to own a bakery!”

“I’m going to go to trade school and become a mechanic!”

All of these things sound nice. But goodness gracious, I am only seventeen years old and I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I say things like this because everyone else seems so confident and that scares me. But I have to be honest with myself and with everyone else. So here’s the new statement:

I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I know what interests me. I’m going to go to college, try out lots of things, and eventually find that one thing I could do for the rest of my life. As much pressure as there is to decide right now what my future career will be, I refuse to choose, because I would only be lying to everyone present.

This is why, after months of consideration, I am planning on going to college next year. I always assumed I would, but after talking to classmates with different plans or at least concerns, I became less sure. No one system will fit every person’s needs. But one thing I know is that I love learning, and while there’s a lot I can learn wherever I end up, there are things that I probably could not teach myself, so I’m going to go find some folks who can. And one day, it will all come together and I’ll know what I want to do. But there’s no good reason to rush.