“Di papa w!” my mother yelled dismissively at me in Haitian Creole, “Tell your father!” “Leave me alone!” I yelled. I ran into my room, slamming the door with such force that it made the room quiver. I stomped around until I finally collapsed into bed. I cried. I cried so much that I would cry myself to sleep. I was always aware of what was happening around me. I had to be; it wasn't obvious growing up that my parents didn't love each other. Although they never got into verbal arguments, the animosity was there. When they communicated, which was rare, it would be brief and followed by a petty comment behind the other's back. One of the things that would cause tension was transportation. I was always unsure who would bring me to and from school—would it be my mom, siblings, cousin, or a family friend? I never thought that it'd be my dad, as Mom made it clear that he “was busy playing dominoes with his friends” and that she would never ask him to pick me up. It was something I'd always have to do alone: be the messenger between two warring sides and I would grow up to mimic their behavior. Some of the ways they dealt with their issues with each other rubbed off on me, as I would often avoid conflict, ignoring the feelings building up within me until I would finally implode in a fit of rage and tears I couldn't explain. At school, this manifested in intense anxiety and reclusiveness, as I kept to myself and didn't share any parts of my home life with anyone. I can now say that I was heartbroken over the fact that my parents weren't getting along. I was confused as to why my parents, who were unmarried and clearly not in love, were still living together. I'd think to myself “What's keeping them here together?” and my subconscious answered back, “Me.” I began to blame myself for their hostility towards each other. I came to realize that I needed stability and affection, but I knew at that moment I wouldn't get those from my parents, so I looked towards a hobby that would help. Quilting became a way to create something meaningful and practical. This expensive hobby was made possible by a $500 grant that I earned and the rewards are invaluable. Quilting taught me how to adapt. For example, I used an old bed sheet to create the backing for my quilt, in doing so I also lessened the mental clutter I was struggling with. With every thread that connected and endured, it became something deeper than just sewing. As I would work on quilts, all of the emotions I felt overwhelmed by could be stitched into art I controlled. Quilting also became a medium to express my Haitian roots as well as be able to provide a little warmth to someone in need. As I made more quilts, my confidence began to build. At school, I no longer felt like a recluse who would walk around, hanging her head in despair. I would now hold my head up high with pride. At home, it has brought me closer to my mother, who's offered to help me sew. Now I hear “Moutre papa w” when I complete a quilt, and the tension in my home is eased knowing that she's saying “Show your father.”
I stared at the rain gushing down through the windows of my room as I sat on the edge of the bed. The white curtains were swaying along with the cold wind coming from the open-air. I closed my eyes and slowly put my hands outside the window reaching the tiny drops of the fall. It suddenly felt nostalgic. As the raindrop touches my bare hands, the image of a little girl, running through the green meadows befall my mind. I suddenly felt a stinging sensation in my head and my breathing gradually ragged. I opened my eyes and my vision became blurry. A dark terrifying image that I can't seem to fathom appeared on my sight drawing nearer. I wanted to run but my feet were glued, unable to move from where I was sitting. As the image came closer, it became clearer and vivid. Doppelganger. It's my doppelganger. We look exactly the same. She was holding a knife and whispering words that are inaudible to my ears. My doppelganger came nearer and as she stood in front of me with her blank, horrid eyes that contrasts the devilish smile plastered on her face, I finally understood the words she was trying to say. Words that will forever be engraved in the chambers of my soul. She held my face and whispered those words into my ears and before I could even speak, she abruptly stabbed my chest with the knife she was holding. And carved on that knife were the words she whispered to me. “Will you love me now?” Since the quarantine were imposed in our country, my life was sort of paused. It was both overwhelming and terrifying. Four months had pass since it started and it has been the most challenging months I had in my sixteen years of existence. It is during this time that I came to realize the most essential thing I needed in this lifetime. And that is self-love. I grew up in a place where how you look is important. The color of your body, the texture of your skin, the features of you face and the way how you look is being judged. People will always have a say on what you wear and whom you associate yourself with. And sometimes, often times rather, it sucks. It sucks to pretend that you are something you're not. It sucks to follow the same path that many people took for they are afraid to journey a new one. It sucks to do things without meaning. You know that kind of feeling when you do something without having the joy or fulfillment. It's like as if you're only doing it to survive and thrive. That pretty much sucks, right? However, during the quarantine period, my perspective and mindset about the mundane things that ‘sucks' was totally changed. It is this time that my eyes were opened to the reality of life. I learned how to appreciate the smallest thing in front of me and I learned how to give utter importance to each and every living thing on Earth. And most importantly, I was able to teach myself the most beautiful art I have ever seen and felt which is self-love. Before the pandemic started, I have always been criticizing myself for the way I look. I doesn't feel good because I thought to myself “I doesn't look good”. I didn't allot a room where I could grow and evolve into something beautiful. I let the social norms and standards measure the capabilities I have within me. In short, I let myself crumble upon what the society tells. However, I am so grateful that the quarantine happened because I was able to realize my potentials and appreciate the beauty I have. I learned that beauty isn't something that you see on the outside image of a person. It is about the principles and purity of the heart that really counts as beautiful. Self-love isn't an easy journey. It has its own curls and curves and you have to go through all of them to really attain it. Eating healthy, stretch/exercise, watching movies, spending time with the family, pampering yourself with different products, praying and many other more. Sometimes, I feel lazy and procrastinate but whenever I encounter this kind of phase, I always remind myself why I started it. To be better, to feel better, to do better and to harness the best version of myself. And I can say that I am halfway through perfecting the art of self-love. Someday I wanted to dream the dream I written in the first paragraphs of this essay. I would want to see my doppelganger again. If one day she'll visit me in my dreams and ask the same words she asked me before, I'll answer her within the same scenario without getting frightened, without wanting to run. I'll answer her with all positivity and love and I would tell her “Yes, I will love you now, tomorrow and until forever comes to end. I will love your imperfections, past and the whole you no matter what happens.” And once I told her those words, I want her to stab me again with a knife. But this time, I want that the word carved in the knife is “finally”. Because finally, I have found myself full of love wherein pain can never turn my heart ruthless and cold.
Waking up is the worst part. It's all rumpled clothes and hair, which fans over my face like a veil; my sister Maddie would be disgusted. It takes time for me to get up. Most days, I'll turn over and go back to sleep, and only when I wake again an hour later, feeling gross and dazed, disgusted with myself for shirking my responsibilities, do I start the day. By then it's usually around ten-fifteen. Some days, eleven. (Those are the days I hold my breath and hope just to get through.) Breakfast consists of a Pop-Tart, maybe, or Cocoa Puffs, or nothing. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but when you get up at lunchtime, it tends not to seem so important. I try to fill my days with productivity. As I walk downstairs to feed the guinea pigs—hay and water and a handful of food—I attempt to keep my mind on two things: first, what I should accomplish that day, and second, what I'm actually capable of accomplishing. Sometimes the two meet in the middle; most days, though, they don't. By twelve I'm usually deep into a book, trying to ignore the sound of the news or my sisters arguing. If not that, then I'm practicing, viola flung haphazardly over my shoulder, tenor sax pressed against my lips, bassoon resting against my thigh, or maybe my new pink electric guitar, Joni, sitting on my knee. We found her at a yard sale last week; 25 bucks and boom, I'm the new Van Halen. Well, not quite yet. I have to learn the C chord first. (And the rest of them.) I wasn't kidding, about all those instruments. My family is very musical. Between the five of us, we play just about everything, and with the quarantine, there's always some sort of music going on. Usually it's me—I try to practice two instruments every day—but sometimes it's my parents, their voices wrapping around each other as my dad strums an acoustic in the sunlight, or other times it's my twin sisters playing for school. (They aren't really twins. Technically we're triplets, but that's not really the right term, either. I like to call it “twins and an extra.” Mom and Dad like to call it “three for the price of one.”) Like I said, I try to be productive; I try to keep a smile on my face. But it is, admittedly, difficult. Because there are the days that I wake up feeling refreshed and excited—but there are also the days where every question I ask my parents ends in a “What?! I can't hear you!”, and I raise my voice too loud in response, and one parent comes in at exactly the wrong time, and I'm scolded for disrespect. Other times, when my sisters and I are arguing over nothing, more often than not the petty insults tossed around land on my shoulders like blows, and I crumple under their weight. I try not to be in my bedroom around the hours of one to four, because if I am, I'm bound to crawl into bed and fall asleep. Naps have prevailed among everyone in my household since the virus hit—my father will sleep around one, or in the evening; my mother whenever he does; and my sisters seem to exist in a permanent state of sleepy stupor, preferring to spend their days in their rooms, watching TikToks, replying to Snapchats, and browsing YouTube videos. It's not that I disagree with their lifestyle; it's just that I don't understand it. Dinner is a nightmare. Sometimes it's that way only for me, and sometimes it's that way for all of us. I just can't stand sitting at the same table, day after day, discussing the same topics—I thrive off structure, but I guess I hate routine. I can't stand when things stay the same for a long time, and that's exactly what this quarantine has been. All these things have their place, but at this point, they aren't enough. I miss my friends and I'm lonely. I try to go outside sometimes, go on walks, talk to people, but it doesn't happen often. Oh, well—c'est la vie, right? I go to bed later than I'd like: usually twelve to two, because I can't sleep. I lie (lay?) in bed, staring up at my glow-in-the-dark stars, and think about when I'll get to go to school again and what it will be like when I do. I wish I could say I prayed for all the virus victims and their families, but I'm only a fourteen-year-old girl, staring up at the stars plastered to my ceiling, and if I said that, it wouldn't be true.
Friday Night Fright I want to preface this story with one important statement: This is going to be a story primarily about two random high school sophomores that are in no way just me and my friend with names I changed. Ok now that that's understood, those two dumb high schoolers are Jack and Dave. Jack and Dave have been friends for about a year and a half at this point, meeting at the beginning of freshman year. They are very good friends, hanging out with each other and the same group of friends pretty much every weekend. Jack, Dave, and their group got invited to a party for the upcoming weekend and they were all fairly excited as they hadn't been to too many parties since they were still in the first half of their high school career. After all of the anticipation and fantasizing about the party throughout the school week, the weekend had finally arrived. Naturally, Jack, Dave, and friends wanted to secure some “liquid courage” to make the party experience that much more enjoyable. Well, these idiots managed to somehow end up with the worst possible drink for kids who had never really drank much before. It starts with “four” and makes you “loko” and that's all I'm going to say about that. Jack and Dave ended up splitting one or two of these drinks and everything was going pretty smooth for the next few hours. After a while, Jack and Dave had their sights set on some girls that they had seen around school (not in a weird way in a high school, maybe goodnight kiss type of way). Anyway, they began talking to these two girls that they had seen around and had a few surface level conversations with. After about an hour of “deep” conversation with these ladies the time reached 12:00 and the girls had to go home for curfew. They lived right down the street and walked home. Jack and Dave didn't have a curfew as they were sleeping at the house the party was held at because they were at least smart enough not to drive and made previous arrangements. All parties involved, Jack, Dave, and the girls, were distraught at the fact of their time together ending so abruptly. After fifteen to thirty minutes of some intoxicated social media use, Jack, Dave, and the girls concocted a master plan for Jack and Dave to walk to the girl's house and help them sneak out of the window. An important thing to keep in mind for this next part of the story is that this was a wealthier community on the water, so the houses were pretty big with two stories and a backyard. Looking straight at this house there is a big driveway and fences on either side of the house to keep their back yard enclosed. Back to the story, Jack and Dave arrive at the house and see the girls looking out of the second-floor window, farthest to the right. Jack and Dave proceed to climb on top of the fence in an attempt to get onto the roof and help the girls sneak out. After few minutes of standing on the fence and talking while trying to get onto the roof, everyone hears the front door open and immediately everyone's worst fears are realized. They might get caught. The girls close their window and Dave jumps off the fence to the driveway and sprints home. Jack, being the smartest person in the world at the time, jumps the wrong way, into the backyard. This spot of the backyard is a narrow path leading to the rest of the yard with only some tools and a big generator that powers the house. Jack is now panicking and proceeds to hide behind the generator in hopes that no one notices. Then, Jack hears footsteps coming his way and the gate open. At this point Jack is now literally fearing for his life, heart beating a thousand times a second, not knowing what will be done to him if he gets caught. Making the situation even worse is that Jack was raised by a United States Marine who emphasized safety and kept lots of firearms in case of an intruder. That knowledge of what his father would do to an unknown intruder made Jack even more frightened of what was about to happen to him. The footsteps get closer and closer, and eventually pass him. And then the footsteps circle back and come past him again and again, all while Jack is having the scariest (and most intoxicated) moment of his life to this point. Finally, the footsteps stop right in front of him. Jack is shaking and all he hears are the words “you can come out now son”. Jack stands up, puts his hands in the air, and all he can manage are the words “Please don't hurt me, I'm so sorry”. The father of the girls laughs and walks Jack to the driveway where the mother was standing and the father says, “You can just knock next time, but go back home now”. Jack thanks them both and apologizes and sprints the whole way back still shaking have no real grasp of what just happened. After collecting himself he tells the story to all of his friends and they all have a good laugh and go to sleep for the night. In the future, Jack still tells the story all the time of the most frightening and embarrassing moment of his life.
There is this woman I work for. The most generous person you will meet. She will cook for you, crochet you an afgan, bake you some brownies and offer you everything she has. All for the price of your sanity. I am a part time hair stylist at her beauty shop. The shop is located inside of a swanky retirement community. The proprietor has been at this location for twenty eight years. I have never met a more boastful human. She claims that she cooks better than anyone because she does it the “Greek way”, the “right way”. Whatever that means. She used to bake for the shop guests until one day. As one of our regulars was leaving, she stops at the door on her way out and asks if the owner had baked. What was she thinking ? After 28 years of doing so, how could she ask such a foolish question? “No, and don't ever ask me again!” Alas. That was it. Not another baked good would walk through those doors. Also, don't ever let her hear you “pop” or “snap” your gum. Or bite into a piece of hard candy. Don't ever dare call her by the short version of her American name. She would smite you to the ground and curse you until Tuesday. Don't even think to defend your actions or misunderstandings or ask questions about topics she finds “stupid”. Not a day goes by without hearing the tales of her worthless gambler, abuser of a husband. How her mother sold her off to him at the tender age of fourteen, for a container of peppers. He was twice her age. But she was just another unwanted mouth to feed which made it easy for her parents to agree to the pepper deal. She went to live with her new husband and his parents. She calls them the outlaws. Everyday with the joke about the outlaws. She cackles in her raspy smokers voice as if the joke had'nt been repeated numerous times in a week. She got knocked up by the old husband and remained his wife for over thirty years. Why did she stay married so long? Because she did not want to raise her three sons without a father. Nevermind the fact that he taught them nothing. Forget that he beat her in front of them. Pretend he didn't steal from her and her children. After a lot of begging, he finally permitted her to have a job. She would keep secret money stashed to make sure she had groceries at the very least. She tells the story of how his father raped her and threatened her childs life if she didn't keep it to herself. She talks about her many attempts at her own life. These stories are repeated like a broken record. How I envy the minds of our elderly clientelle. How fortunate for them to be able to either not hear because they dont have their hearing aids on or how they are able to forget from one moment to the next. I have tried to help. I went as far as obtaining marijuana for her to try. She loved it. But like with everything else, she has to find something wrong with all of it. She went on a European vacation with her two sons for ten days. I was looking forward to a happier, lighter, maybe a more peaceful atmosphere upon her return. But no. She came back to complain about all the horrible things that happened. Very little was said about any inkling of a good time she may have had. She believes she has to remember her past. She will not let it go. No matter how beautiful life is. She holds on to her sadness and wears it all over. Not just on her sleeve. I have come to understand that I will never understand her. I can only empathize and hope she finds peace one day.
Write about myself? Oh, where do I begin. My name is Bella. Some people call me Bex, and some people don't. As much as I wish that was it, it's actually Isabella G. Mulet. We don't talk about what G stands for, because that's embarrassing. I'm your average Cuban girl, born and raised in Miami, surviving every day with ADHD and anxiety. I have no fear in standing by what I believe in or my opinions. I go to a small, amazing high school called MAST @ Homestead. I live with 10 family members, whom I love dearly, but living in my home can be crazy, loud, and stressful. With that, I find myself doing activities that I love as distraction from the chaos I call home. Writing, skateboarding, listening to music, playing the drums, and sleeping are just some of the many things I enjoy. My interest in writing has existed since I was young, and now I enjoy describing emotions, the effects of social media and the twisted realities of our world. Listening to music goes hand in hand with my writing. I dedicate approximately ⅓ of my day to reading and analyzing music, from Ritchie Valens to Pink Floyd to Drake to Gustav Holst; music is my passion, and I hope to continue it into college. I'm probably one of the most ambitious people most will ever come across. I have big dreams. I plan to attend Duke University for college, a school I have loved since I knew it existed. I want to graduate from the Pratt School of Engineering, hopefully leading to a career in designing medical equipment and prosthetics, I also love to build and assemble. I'm just a girl from one of the smaller parts of Miami, dreaming to make it big. I'm not an adult, or a professional writer, or something worthwhile yet. But I'm getting there. It just takes a little passion, perspiration, and determination.
From Shakespeare to Mary Shelley, the English language is home to a fantastic amount of excellent literature. So much, even, that many English speakers never need to read anything translated from another language. However, there are a number of great epics that most English speakers at least know about. The Iliad, Epic of Gilgamesh, and even The Bible are just a few. Translators of these works have several problems they must figure out how to work around. They must figure out how to retain the basic rhythm of the story and retain the meaning of words that do not have an English correspondent, all while keeping the plot intact. The Armenian epic, Sasna Tsrrer poses a unique challenge to any translator. First of all, there are over 150 different versions, all written in different dialects. Many versions are not even complete and are missing various plotlines. However, one of the biggest problems in translating Sasna Tsrrer is the word "tsrrer." Many people believe Sasna Tsrrer to have ancient origins, but people only wrote it down first in the late 19th century. Between then and 1915, more and more versions got recorded, all from different areas of Armenia and all in different dialects. Many versions are missing one or multiple parts of the story. However, the most troubling thing for any translator is that many of these dialects became extinct during the Armenian Genocide. A lot of old Western Armenian dialects used to utilize a wide variety of Turkish and Arabic words and grammar in a way no language really does. Leon Surmelian's translation, Daredevils of Sassoun, manages to avoid some of this untranslatability by utilizing footnotes. At the end of each chapter, Surmelian explains a few words by telling the reader about both the possible meanings of the word and how he decides to use it in the book. Even so, Surmelian's translation is based on the "official" version published by the Soviet Union in 1939 with a unifying use of the language. Of course, this would be the easiest to translate, but if one wanted to translate many of the other versions, he or she would not only have to understand Armenian and English but probably Turkish and maybe some Arabic too. Until someone decides to attempt this task, sadly, many of the most dialectal versions will remain untranslated. Obviously, so many versions of a story recorded from so many sources will not remain consistent throughout. However, many versions of Sasna Tsrrer do not even retain the same story structure and plotlines. Some versions have different characters playing different roles, some versions are obviously pre-Christian and pagan in origin, and some versions simply do not contain certain cycles and storylines. While the Soviet Union did publish an "official" version in 1939, that does not make it right to suddenly disregard the other versions. Some versions are so different that some people argue that they are not from the same story, but part of a larger Armenian folk genre (Hambardzumyan 2). Still, the perceived incompleteness can deter translators from translating the more obscure versions of the epic. Finally, the word "tsrrer" poses a problem for translators. It does not have an English equivalent, but is one of the most important words in the epic. "Tsrrer" can mean, depending on the context, foolish, brave, or even naive. This is very important in characterizing the main characters. It acknowledges the strangeness and foolish braveness not only they, but the Armenian people are known for. The number of preposterous things the main characters do may seem stupidly unnecessary or overpowered without knowledge of the word "tsrrer". Of course, one cannot translate "tsrrer" as the same thing every time in English, but Surmelian explains what the word means in the introduction and then translates to depending on the context for the rest of the book. Translators really do have a difficult job. Especially translating epics such as Sasna Tsrrer. Luckily, not only Surmelian, but a whole slew of other translator dedicate their time and patience in making the best translation possible so that people all around the world can enjoy this Armenian classic. It is possible that there will never be a perfect translation, but it is still wonderful that people are trying their best. There is so much amazing literature from all around the world, and with the help of translators, it is all getting more accessible to the global population. Works cited Hambardzumyan, H. A. “Some Features of Translation of the Epic: English Translations of the Armenian Epic ‘David of Sassoun.'” Вестник Северо-Восточного Федерального Университета Имени М.К. Аммосова: Серия Эпосоведение, 2017, p. 10. Cyberleninka, cyberleninka.ru/article/n/some-features-of-translation-of-the-epic-english-translations-of-the-armenian-national-epic-david-of-sassoun. Surmelian, Leon Z. Daredevils of Sassoun. Golden Jubilee Publication, 1966.
When I look at the sky, I do not see a universe being friendly to me because at that time, I stand out of the world of material prosperity surrounding me to imagine the world where the beacon light of humanity has turned into the twilight of devastating terror. At that time, I see my wings being cut by the ever-lasting knives of injustice, I hear the noises of crying mothers, voices of children fighting against poverty and hunger and see the faces of leaders who died for change. So, I have to gather my entire courage to see the sky as it always turns out to be a fearful situation. My dawn happened to be in a small country in South Asia where grades are important but creativity is not. However, I am not the reflection of my own community. I have a persistent aim to grow my creativity in Physics but I do not know where my strong current of desire will take me. So, when I see the sky, not only the beauty of twinkling stars hit my eyes, I also see an infinite collection of matter expanding every second. When I see the sky, I see the space-time making everything relative, the moon and satellites as my destiny, and the cosmic radiations transmitted by every stellar object but some questions confuse me like what makes so many stars attach as a single galaxy despite such low gravitational force? Then, when I get the answer to my own questions, I get mused and question myself what makes people afraid to choose fields like Physics where many things are still inexplicit? Does everyone fear with the fear itself? Don't they get support who dare? Also, I question myself, why is society making me believe that I cannot discover new? Then, I cannot answer my questions and feel down-hearted. So, my encounter with the sky isn't a mere vision but an encounter to despair and desolation. When the sun begins to set, the red color appears. When I see the sky at that time, the red color is agitated in my eyes and a new image is framed in my mind. I see the red river of blood originated through the crooked desert of politics and formidable faith over religion. I see people dying for their rights, being shattered for their freedom, paralyzed by the whirlwinds of disparity and their family crossing the doors of the judicial court to beg justice. I see some protestors who stake their life for others but are threatened in front of the law. Then, I start to mumble, the sky is not friendly to me. When I see the sky at night, I see eternal darkness which has even touched the mankind. I cannot differentiate that darkness with the inseparable problems of humanity like the problems of refugees, climate change, poverty, hunger, murder, rape, political dominance, water scarcity, etc. They revolve in my mind and I get staggered again. When I see the sky, I look at every star and realize that they change their brightness, position and habit every time. This makes me conscious about the fact that the world is changing all the time and we must embrace the change to withstand the inconsistent humanity. Yet many people do not have the heroism to try new and we are still bounded by the orthodox believers of society. So, when I see the sky, I have to compare a billion numbers of stars to the billion numbers of people and conclude that if there was a single star shining between the dark sky, the sky would not be as beautiful as now. So, every time I see the sky, I do not only see the little white dots on the black background; I see the whole world adjusted between my eyes. Unfortunately, that makes me sad, as I have to compare it to the darkness of mankind and adversity of this world. Then, the sun rises again with a hope that there will be a new beginning and the darkness will be banished by the power of light. Every day I get a new inspiration that the sun alone can defeat the eternal darkness but the fearful situation appears again. Again, I see the misery of humanity and the darkness that has touched our world but I cannot do anything except making my heart as heavy as the cloud. So, my relationship with the sky is a deep relationship that makes me realize that someday I will have to stand on the battlefield for change.