The Story of How I Changed Abigail’s Life Forever

by Giorgia (’14)

I dragged Abigail up top to Mollie Stones with me last week, with the promise of a pompelmo San Pellegrino soda, because I wanted company and she was thirsty.

(Now, you see, Abigail and I have a very unique kind of relationship where I wipe flour on her shirt and call her at 10pm in hysterics and she makes decisions for me and does everything generally 20 points better.)

So we went up top and in a surprising turn of events we were not soaked by water falling from the trees at the edge of campus, as in it was a nice day– the sun was even out! We arrived at Mollie Stones remarkably unfrozen and dry.

I decided that in celebration of the actually something resembling springtime weather, I should purchase ice cream, and much to my delight, Mollie Stones was not only carrying quarter pints of Häagen Dazs, but chocolate peanut butter quarter pints.

There, in the middle of the frozen foods aisle in Mollie Stones, occurred a prime vignette of Abigail “Light O’ My Life” Schott-Rosenfield and my friendship: I cried and screamed and raged, deliberated on quantity, and finally purchased two quarter pints for Abigail and myself, proclaiming “THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.”

We ate our ice cream on the way back down to the Creative Writing room, not wanting to face the “EXTRA FOOD!?!?” barrage if we arrived in the room with the ice cream. Now, I am not sure when Abigail is humoring me or not, but she most certainly agreed that I had changed her life by having her sample this most miraculous of ice cream flavors.

(ngl i’m probs just gonna get lines of abigail’s poetry tattooed all over my body when i go to college)

More of Carville Annex

by Abigail (’14)

Frances and I recently went to another Carville Annex reading. (This time it was at the Carville Annex building in the Sunset, not in a forest glen.) The reading was a lecture given by Molly Prentiss, “non-famous famous person” from Brooklyn, on– quoting  “aspirational objects…commercial tactics…and reasons why stories will not die.” It was also a party for the revamped Actually People Quarterly.

I got there a little early, so Sarah Fontaine, one of the Annex founders, invited me up to the attic to wait for everyone else to arrive. She told me about what she’s planning on teaching us in her CW unit later this year– it’s going to be about, as I understood it, the places where genres overlap and make new kinds of writing. I won’t reveal anything else, but she seemed very excited about it.

The reading was in the attic. Maybe 40 people were there– it certainly felt packed– and most were sitting on the floor. Before she started, Molly (it feels wrong to call her Ms. Prentiss when the setting of the reading was so intimate) handed out “non-linear” maps of the lecture, which was titled “The Necessary Narrative.” A picture of part of a map is shown below. It was especially useful afterwards, when I wanted to be reminded of all the things she’d touched on.

Molly Prentiss has not only a unique perspective, but also a unique style. She grew up in a commune in Santa Cruz; now she works in fashion advertising. She told us about her “fake,” unfinished novel, which might become a real, finished novel, without boring us, and about noblewomen’s long nails, and about her pretend childhood pony, Midnight. She was also funny. Although Frances and I were confused about how loudly people were laughing– she’d make a joke that wasn’t uproariously amusing, but everyone else was rolling… That part was slightly off-putting.

I wanted to read her lecture again after she finished. I haven’t searched for it yet, or tried to get ahold of her, but Frances and I got copies of the new Actually People Quarterly, which has some other Molly Prentiss pieces in it. I could bring mine in and leave it on the shelves in CW, if anyone else wants to share a good thing.

Coming up is another Carville Annex lecture:

Saturday, April 20th, 7pm
Inventory of Shimmers: The Neutral in Three Parts
a lecture by Colleen Stockmann

College

by Frances (’14)

Over spring break, I was visiting colleges. My mom and I flew to Pittsburgh and then drove across the Midwest, stopping at schools along the way. I’d never seen that part of the country before, and in the car, I watched the wide, wintered fields spread away from the road, still icy. On the first few days, it actually snowed. I walked through college campuses with my hood up, looking at the spots gathering on my gloves.

I loved visiting colleges. Each one had its own feeling, and as I followed the tour guides, I could picture myself living in the dorm rooms, eating at the dining hall, attending classes in the elegant buildings, studying at the library.

But I put just as much importance on what I couldn’t picture. I couldn’t quite imagine life as a student in the middle of Ohio, where it snows in the winter, where the nearest city is an hour’s drive through cornfields.

And I kind of liked that. I don’t want to go to college in a place I already know. I want to go somewhere I don’t know. I want to be surprised by things. The Midwest felt like a foreign country. I hope I’ll get to see more of it.

how Midori feels

Dance Class Distress

by Noa (’16)

I have always enjoyed to dance, but I have never been a good dancer. This combination is absolutely lethal, as demonstrated by my consistent Bs in my PE dance class, taught by the wonderfully intimidating head of the Dance Department, Elvia, and her sidekick (student teacher), Bruce. I know what you’re thinking—a B is not in any way a bad grade. And yes, I may be a bit of an overachiever. But I consider these Bs, taunting me with their nimble, curvy hips (these Bs would be able to dance the Salsa) to be a mark of failure in a class in which one is seemingly graded solely on their natural ability to move their feet in complicated patterns and not trip over themselves in the process. The Dancers, with their twirling, shiny hair and ability to pull off leggings and tiny tank tops, stand at the front of the class and perform every movement with an enviable languid, “god-this-is-so-easy” grace, while I (I can’t speak for anybody else, they all seem to be good at dancing and/or not stress about it as much as I do) make awkward, robot movements in the back row. That isn’t to say that I don’t try. I try really, really hard—I even do all of the sit ups that we always do before class, instead of lying there like a floppy starfish. But for some reason, my consistent efforts always seem to manifest themselves into a “you-will-never-be-good-enough-no-matter-how-hard-you-try-just-give-up-you-failure” B, which will forever haunt me much too deeply.

Pft, easy

Art: the Map of Maturation

by Olivia W. (’16)

I’m the only freshman in my Spanish 5/6 class. I’m not entirely sure how that worked out, but it’s one of my favorite classes, probably for that reason. A few weeks ago, my teacher told me that I had matured. I asked her what she meant, and she replied that I’d been acting less like a freshman and more like a sophomore.

I didn’t notice the change. Well, at least not like I noticed the change from 6th grade or 7th grade. It’s hard for us as human beings to notice change within ourselves unless it’s quite drastic, but there are subtle clues from things we leave behind. I can map my growth from my art. I’m talking about my visual art, the little sketches I ink on the corners of school papers and homework. I can tell just from looking at some small creature doodled in the cranny of some paper what era of my life it came from. This most definitely is true with adult artists as well, but not as quickly.

So much happens in middle school. You are transported to a new world, one you were dimply aware of but not coherently understanding. I learned so much in those three years. I experienced a lot of things for the first time, and because of them I grew. As we get older, there are fewer things for us to newly experience, and we don’t grow as quickly. We may wise up or realize important things, but slowly, gradually. Human beings are always growing, always maturing, but I believe that teenagers and tweens are on a sharp curve of some sort, where everything is going terribly fast. It’s not a roller coaster of ups and downs; it is a roller coaster going the same direction as all life, just a hell of a lot steeper then the rest of the track.

I am a different person than the person I was last week. Something happened, something changed during that time that changed me. I’m not talking about a big thing, I’m talking about something that’s probably ordinary that’s happening to me for the first time. Maybe somebody said something, maybe something ripped or bloomed. I’ve watched my peers change into completely different people since the year started. Unfortunately, it’s not always for the better.

I’m so grateful for my art. I use art the way that people now use cave paintings, to see how far we’ve come. Without art, my younger self would be a complete stranger, a different person, an unrelated species. I can look at photographs from a year ago, and suddenly I remember what I was thinking then, what I was feeling as the camera froze that expression forever, and I can see how far I’ve gone form there. I can read old letters to people, postcards, essays, secret diaries or whatever, and I am amazed by what has changed. I can leaf through old sketchbooks, and sometimes I try to draw an updated version of whatever I find. I thank my art for letting me not lose the bets parts of myself.

Digital Art

by Justus (’15)

this is modern art

There’s a project I’m doing for Modern World, a very open-ended project. The assignment is to “make a piece of modern art.”

I was originally planning to just write a long poem or something, but I have decided to do something a little out of the ordinary for me and work with visual art. I don’t normally do non-writing art, so this should be an interesting experience for me. I can’t actually draw, but, conveniently, Photoshop can.

My computer has Photoshop Elements 7, which I learned to use in a technology after-school program I took in middle school. We actually bought the computer used from the after-school program, which is why it has Photoshop. I’m enjoying the vast capability and relative ease of digital art.

Of course, I couldn’t omit words entirely from the project. I’m actually drawing the semi-abstract image using lines from a poem I wrote last summer (I color the text, then warp and transform it into the desired shape). After I’m done drawing with words and messing around with filters until I get something I like, I’m going to print it on photo paper and mount it on cardboard or something. I would attach the image file, but the piece is still being made and is therefore top-secret. Maybe I’ll attach it to a later post.

Anyway, that’s an update on the current art I’m doing other than that ten-page play I still need to print three copies of. I’ll let everyone know how my experiments with digital visual art work out as soon as they are over.

Family Ties That Bind Through Art

by Maya (’15)

When asked whom they most admire, many people would talk about famous artists whom they revere. I could do the same and write about Sylvia Plath or Margaret Atwood, but the truth is, I cannot fully admire someone I do not know. Because of this, I choose my brother, Julian, as the artist and person I most admire. I admire Julian because he inspires me to do my best in the arts.

Julian pushes me never to give up in the arts, no matter how incapable I feel. He is constantly changing and improving his work, trying out new things, and immersing himself in his art. When he practices his monologues after school and on the weekend, I am inspired to lengthen and develop my writing practice. His passion transfers to me through the art that links us together. All art is connected through the art that is created in response to the lasting impression it stirs in people. My brother and I are both artists, so we are constantly inspiring each other to create and improve.

Sometimes, a line from his monologue sticks with me, and I use it as a prompt for a poem. He delivers it with such force that the clarity and truth of the words are unavoidable. This sparks in me an interest about the performance of poetry, which manifested in the poem I read for the first Creative Writing show. Writing this poem was such a powerful and engaging experience, that I knew it needed an equally strong delivery. Instead of reading it as a mere bystander, I became the speaker. I embodied her feelings and conveyed her message to the audience. I do not think this would have been possible without Julian. From the very start of the creation of this poem, his acting pushed me to deliver my poem to its fullest. I envisioned Julian performing a monologue without inhibitions, and I strived for the same. He gave me advice on how to strengthen my piece, and told me what to emphasize.

Julian’s complete selflessness in his art makes me wish I could write uninterrupted by thoughts of doubt. Such thoughts are common when I write, and keep me from a state of absorption (or total immersion in the poem). Although I struggle with this, thinking of Julian helps me to release these thoughts. I know he is not perfect, and I know he doubts himself at times, but I think of the moments when he is so involved in a monologue or a role that nothing can shake him; this is my goal.

I strive for Julian’s relationship with his art, and I know he can help me get there. I know this because watching him act, dance or sing actually pushes me a little closer. This is not only why I admire Julian, but also why I appreciate and love him as my brother.

Vermeer

by Abigail (’14)

Last Thursday, I went to the Girl With a Pearl Earring exhibit at the DeYoung. Ever since I read Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett in maybe fourth grade, I’ve wanted to meet a Vermeer in person. Last year, someone gave me a stack of novels about Vermeer paintings (apparently he and the mystery surrounding him are popular subjects for writers). I read them all obsessively. So now you can imagine my excitement.

The only disappointing thing about the exhibit was that there was only one Vermeer there, but if there had to be just one, I am glad this was it. It was the only painting in its room, lit softly. You could tell it had been set up like this for dramatic effect, but any sarcasm this realization might have induced was erased by the painting itself. Some reproduced art looks almost exactly like the original; Girl With A Pearl Earring doesn’t at all. I won’t even try to describe her. A guy behind me said, “Dude, she looks just like Scarlett Johansson,” but that doesn’t give quite an accurate impression, either. You have to go see her to fully appreciate her.

Or you could try Girl With a Pearl Earring, a novel by Tracy Chevalier. As fanfiction goes, it’s pretty high-class.