Letter from the Editor

A few months ago, some editors from The Journal sat around a small table at Chinese restaurant near Columbia University in New York City, where we were attending a journalism conference, discussing the purpose of the Journal within our school community. Together, we were attempting to discover ways that The Journal  could connect with new audiences, broaden our coverage, and explore diverse student perspectives.

This is what we came up with.

Welcome to Journal Magazine, a place for for exploration and experimentation, a playground for new and diverse perspectives. Here, you’ll find in-depth discussions on significant cultural topics, essays, satires, short stories, poetry, even art – think of it as a “catch-all” for anything that represents any aspect of student life, for we believe there is a place for any form of expression within The Journal organization. The Journal Magazine is, in particular, a place for stories of human interest, a slight departure from the news we report in our papers; after all, the mission of the Journal is to document student life, and to have a place to do so outside the realm of journalistic formatting allows us to further fulfill our obligation to the school community.

Journal Magazine will be released online on the final Friday of each month. In this first edition, you will find a wide array of selections –  two poems, a short story, two personal essays, a satire, and an illustration. Check it out. Read through the pieces. Let us know what you think. It is our hope that the magazine will continue to grow and evolve overtime, challenging us to travel in new directions and explore uncharted creative and philosophical territory.

As always, if you would like to engage in this wonderful process, we welcome you to share your writing, your stories, your perspectives, and your ideas with us. As previously announced, the next magazine will be especially dedicated to perspectives on student life at Guilderland High School as a part of School Spirit Week. We are looking forward to showcasing the diverse talents and unique voices of Guilderland students.

Special thanks to Katie Lamar and the Pens to Paper Club for sharing their short stories with us.

On behalf of the staff of The Journal, I invite you to join us on this new journey of Journal Magazine. I hope you have as much fun reading it as we did putting it together.

Sincerely,

Leonard Bopp, Editor-in-Chief

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Poem: Virtuous Woman Revisited

BY ELIANA ANNALISCIA ROWE

Who is she without boundaries
She is free, shackles broken off feet
She glides elegantly, gracefully
Yet she carries this unbrazen ferocity.
She’s fearless, unable to be anything but she
grabs a hold of each opportunity
she is beautiful and she doesn’t need someone to say it aloud for it to be so
She already knows
and she thinks underneath the superficial plastic that covers our media drenched society.
She hides ‘neath nothing.
Kills the shadows of her past that attempt to follow her into dawn.
She’s complete
Because she knows herself
Looks within instead of outward.
She is the virtuous woman revised
Rewritten.
You couldn’t stop her… even if you wanted to.

Satire: Bagel Sale Ban – Wellness Policy or Anti-Semitism?

BY ELANA DESANTIS

A recent change in the Wellness Policy at Guilderland High School has brought up concerns by many of the school’s Jewish students, as new regulations have banned the sale of Bruegger’s Bagels during the school day. The bagel sales, which typically took place in the East and West lobbies between first and second block, had been praised for not only for providing the dirty thrill of an impulse purchase, but also were cited by many students as a contributing factor as to why they have yet to drop out.  Most importantly, however, they allowed for a cultural experience: getting to look into the world of the American Jew. “Jews are such an under-represented minority at Guilderland, and bagels are one of the few things that I can actually relate to,” stated Emily Honen, Jew. “It feels like an attack at my heritage.” And she’s not alone – many members Guilderland’s Jewish population also feel their culture is being repressed. “It starts with slabs of dough, and it ends with Stars of David,” said Honen, who identifies herself as, in fact, Jewish. “I’m just worried about where the line is.” What we do know is that it will not be behind a table of warm, fresh, bagels.

Fiction

BY SERENA LAFAVE

The walls are white and a strong smell of antibacterial solution and soft gauze saturates the air. There are oh so many of us, this ER is actually a hallway with roller beds up against the wall; so many of us, curled up with a papery blanket guarding us from reality. From the truth we hid, for it was too painful and too exhausting for our delicate and feeble state. This is an empty, hurting place between life and death.

Here, the lights never ever dim. 3am is as good as 3pm. Though the bulbs may tire, emitting a soft buzzing sound, they are promptly replaced. We cringe under the bright light, creatures of the dark; it burns our eyes and glistens upon our teardrops. Ours stories all differ, but here we have one undeniable thing in common. Whether we were born into the wrong world, or simply butchered by this one, whether we jumped into the black depths to drown, or dined on poison, we have gathered here unwillingly with one initial desire: death.

To “normal” beings, death is an utterly terrifying and unpleasant phenomenon. It is something inevitable, but sought to be postponed until the very last possible moment. It is scary and upsetting and unfortunate.

To us, however, death paints a very different picture in our minds. In fact, the artist needs only one color: nothing. There is absolute silence, absolute darkness, no pain or thoughts or feelings. And one great wish of us all: no consciousness. Weak, stupid, worthless, selfish… these words have no meaning to a rotting body. Loved ones leaving you, trusted friends betraying you and loneliness also do not affect a dead mass of cells. In fact, for some of us, life and death are exactly the same… except death is painless. It is only the transition between the two that is scary or painful to us. Death itself is simply permanent slumber.

The prize of death we jumped for, across the crevasse in the earth, but missed. Had we not jumped hard enough, or maybe jumped with hesitation? Or had we hit a brick wall on the other side? Whichever, we had fallen into the freezing, icy river, raging and bottomless. Others drowned happily, and ultimately reached the other side. But we, we are different. We swam. We flailed and cried and fought the tide. And now, our eyes closed and our skin pale, we lie motionless in this hall. But we are still breathing. We are still hurting. Tears still roll from our eyes. The dread and pain that fills us proves we are alive for the moment.

And nothing will ever be the same.

Poem: Bodies Breaking Down

BY ZAKARIYA HOUCAINE

It crawled in through all the windows, swept through all the doors, and crept through all the halls of the houses where we laid. A week in the Northeast.
On our backs or standing on our feet, either way we are just tired and wearing down. Floating in an ocean of suburban homes and snow.
Was your house, breaking through the cold with its waning light bulbs just above the steps outside. We played records because they sounded warmer than the weather outside. Soon they’ll be cracking, but we will never forget their sounds.
We sang songs to try to remember our forgotten lives.
Soon our voices will be cracking, but I don’t think I mind.
Film fades. Clothes tear. But the sound waves press on.
Infinitely dividing into smaller frequencies until dissipating harmlessly into heat energy. And bringing some warmth to these harsh Winter days.

Personal Narrative: August 8, 2014

BY KATIE LAMAR

Dear Mom,

I thank you now because I was too selfish to thank you when I was little. I placed my heavy head on your shoulder and expected you to hold my weight for the rest of your life, as if your only meaning was to carry me around. As a baby I was the same. I have heard story after story about how I would cling to your neck so tightly I would leave bruises; you couldn’t even put me down to use the bathroom. I had to be with you at all times. As a toddler I was the same. I remember you would make a meal for yourself and I would snatch up your food and refuse to eat the food you had made for me. I had to eat your food because you were my mom and obviously your food was better than mine. As a child I was the same. You would be reading your romance novel and I would place my heavy head on your shoulder and breathe heavily, making sure my hot breath was as close to your face as it could get, attempting to antagonize and provoke you until you finally shooed me away, causing me to cry. I had to cry so you would pay attention to me. As I got older, I began to notice how heavy my head was getting. Suddenly, you couldn’t hold me up anymore. You couldn’t take my weight. You couldn’t support me. And I thought it was because maybe I was getting bigger. Larger. My body was consuming you. You were getting crushed and I was the crusher, hurting your insides even more as you were collapsing before my very eyes. Dad had to help you go to the bathroom. Dad had to help feed you. Dad had to read to you. Was I a monster? I still depended on you even though I saw you slip away. I could compare it to a slow thunderstorm or a quick flash of lightning. Your abilities weakened slowly; you found speaking was a chore and silence fit perfectly into your schedule. Your eyes shut one by one over the course of ten months. But still, your disintegration felt too fast, felt too hurried. I was under the impression it was just a harsh winter and by springtime you could hold me and love me just as strongly as the springtime before. But you were destroyed. I blamed you so hard for giving up, or at the very least not warning me that you were leaving. I hadn’t realized you had been warning me for months. Everyone had. You were gone.
As a teenager I lay my head on the your pile of ashes. I write poems about you and cry until all my tears are dry, and I thank you now because I was too selfish to thank you when I was little.

Speech: The Beauty of Adoption

BY CHLOE STEVENS

To the man with the cowboy boots and greasy hair. I’m genuinely sorry that your ignorant mind trumped your rightful conscience. That you didn’t have a filter on your mouth when you said that rude racist comment. That you felt the need to spit your venom out whenever you wanted to. Clearly you do not understand the true gift of adoption. You are not aware that adoption is a blessing, but comes with many afflictions. So when you said, “why would you buy one here when you can get one at Wal­-Mart for $9.99,” to my mom in the airport who was holding my adopted sister, know that to say your words were damaging is an understatement. I’m not here to make you take back what you said, but rather educate you on the beauty adoption entails and the struggles that go with it.

Were you really that blinded by your ignorance that you couldn’t differentiate between a doll and a baby? We, adoptees, are not dolls. We are not tangible items that you can manipulate. We are not inanimate objects able to be bought at the store, attached with a non returnable tag. We are not any different than the next child, we are human too. We have the same capabilities as other kids and deserve the same respect. The only difference between us and non-­adoptees is we don’t look like our parents. Is that such a big issue for you that you felt the need to comment on it, as if we already don’t know that we don’t look anything like them?

It baffles me that you would have the audacity to approach a stranger and deliberately suggest that their choice of adopting was wrong. Adopting a child isn’t just a choice that somebody makes out of the blue. It’s a life changing process that holds an ambiguous amount of time. Adoption is one of the best things a parent can do in their life. When a parent adopts they give the child endless opportunities that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

When I was abandoned I most likely wasn’t even a week old. I wasn’t fortunate enough to be placed on the steps of an orphanage or given to a hospital. I was left sitting on the side of a bridge until a policeman found me. I didn’t have a note attached on my clothes that stated my name and birthdate. The fact that nobody knows any information about my birth mom leaves me to believe that I was an accident. I was brought into the world without a purpose, I was born without an identity. My adoption defines me, it gives me my identity. No matter how many times I’m told “your birth mom loved you that’s why she put you up for adoption, because she couldn’t take care of you,” I will never be able to fully believe it. How can I if I wasn’t even loved enough to be given a name? I’m beyond grateful for my adoptive parents who wanted me and love me unconditionally, even if we aren’t biologically related.

I’m completely aware that receiving a myriad of questions and racist comments are a given with my adoption. When I’m out in public with my family I constantly get asked: “are you adopted? Are you biological sisters? Where are you from?” Those questions are fine and are only asked out of curiosity. But, when people like you take it a step further and bluntly ask a vulgar question that is unnerving, that’s where you have crossed the line. Everyday I face long stares that eventually turn into glares. I face judgmental commentaries that mutate into stereotypes. Next time I face jerks like you, I will not give them the satisfaction of responding.

To the man with the cowboy boots and greasy hair. Your insensitive comment complimented your small mind. Your question degraded your mortality, but dignified my self worth. You don’t know what I go through everyday because of my adoption – it isn’t easy to talk about, it isn’t an easy process, it isn’t easy to face.