Checkpoint – Poem by Me

we've made it to our checkpoint
who thought that things would end up like this?

a few months and the world's turned 
topsy-turvy absolutely upside down

a few months with you and my world's
been completely spun around

it seems wrong that this isn't more of an 
accomplishment to have made it this far

maybe it wasn't the right time for us
is the world trying to give us a sign?

or maybe we should've set our expectations lower
and not decided to designate a checkpoint

I hope you enjoyed this poem! It’s a bit more open-ended and all over the place, but I think it’s still clear/easy to interpret the meaning. Everyone’s lives really have been turned upside down at the moment, and it affects everyone differently. Hope you all are staying healthy and safe.

Brooke

How Is Quarantine Going? – Prose

“How is quarantine going for you?” My friends ask me through texts, Snapchats, and pretty much any other form of social media.

Oh, it’s going, I think to myself, not bothering to give an actual reply. I respond with messages that change the subject before setting my phone down and searching for a book to read. I need an escape, and a good story will do just the trick. No one wants to sit and think about how long life will continue on like this.

The hours tick by quickly; pages are turned, meals and many snacks are eaten, and I might even venture outside when the sun comes out for a few hours, bringing warmth to the pavement. Before I know it, it’s dark and I’m shutting my blinds, showering, and getting ready for bed.

I’ve never had such a monotonous schedule. I’m used to never having enough time and somehow that’s carried on into these days that fly by, but never has time felt so pointless. I’m trying to take advantage of the laziness I can now allow myself to have, but it feels strangely wrong.

I’m about to get under the covers, watch a random soapy TV show on Netflix, and go to sleep. But… the loneliness has kicked in. Have I even had a real conversation with anyone all day? I turn back to my phone, and fire off a few quick messages:

“How was your day?” “How’s quarantine going for you?” “I miss you, what’s new?”

Although I had the urge to send them, I don’t wait around for people to answer. I guess that’s kind of silly, since it means a conversation won’t actually start, but oh well. There’s plenty of time, right? I’ll respond in the morning and catch up with everyone.

I resume my bed lounging and late-night TV watching. Eventually, I turn over to lay on my stomach and drift off until I’m asleep for the night.

The next morning, after I make my bed and get ready for the day, I check my phone. I have quite a few notifications from last night, mostly Snapchats and texts.

“It was okay, what about you?” “It’s boring, how’s it going for you?” “I miss you too! Nothing much, what about you?”

Strangely enough, I don’t feel like getting into it. I send off quick, generic messages to each, wishing my friends well and telling them I’m bored and okay too. I leave behind my phone to go make breakfast and read a book while I eat.

And so it repeats.

I hope you enjoyed this little piece! It’s almost just a personal update, but I figured it made more sense to categorize it as prose/creative writing because of the format and how it was almost like a mini-narrative. Let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or writing challenges for me to try in the future 🙂

Brooke

Tears On The Page – Poem by Me

it's refreshing to catch up with an old friend
particularly if the friend in question

is a book, eagerly waiting for the pages to be 
turned and crinkled, just as they have

so many times before. if only i could let go 
of these pages as easily as i could let go of people

the words are already ingrained in my mind
but it doesn't matter- every time my eyes

have combed through everything there is to see
between the binding, and i've drawn myself

into a fantasy world yet again, it's time to return
to reality. i can't help but shed a tear

for what i've lost by not being born into a book
and living between the pages forever

I hope you all enjoyed this poem. The subject rings so true for me so I’m glad I was finally able to put it into words; as I’ve been rereading my old favorite books lately (especially the Harry Potter series) I’ve been devastated when I finish them and have to put them away. I’m forever stuck in my childhood, when it seemed possible to stay lost in fantasyland 🙂 Let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or writing challenges for me to try in the future!

Brooke

What Is My Blog About?

Hello all!

If you’re new to my blog, welcome! This is a good place to start and learn about the various topics I write about on here. If you’ve been reading for a while, welcome back. I’ve made a couple of these posts before introducing my blog and the different directions I’ve taken it in, but I’m hoping to clarify what kinds of content you can count on me to be posting and gain some feedback as to what you guys may have started reading my blog for/what type of content is your favorite.

I started this blog last summer, so it’s not exactly new. However, every time I start to produce new types of content or expand my horizons, it kind of feels as if my blog is reborn. I started it with a very short-term intent of covering my summer travels in France and Italy, but once I came home from my trip, I continued to write about all the other things I was doing in summer. Eventually the school year rolled around, and I made a lot of content regarding school advice and high school stuff- hence my blog name “Adventures of a Typical High School Student.” I continued to write about any little trips I happened to go on, but this blog was definitely not a travel-centered blog.

Here’s a list of all the main types of content I have produced or am currently producing:

  • Travel, as I already stated (this includes my school trips/extracurricular related travel and camps)
  • School advice for high school and middle school, study tips, etc.
  • Sharing my school experiences- how I was a cheerleader, being in yearbook, etc.
  • Posts about the journey of college admissions and starting it in high school- APs, standardized tests, college tours, activities
  • Random musings of questions/my opinions about life, psychology, and success
  • Reviews (TV, books, movies)
  • Lists- I’m a huge list person, so I’ve made lots of lists- lists of trends, my favorite things, etc.
  • Cleaning and organization tips
  • The occasional political post (I’m in Youth and Government and pretty interested in politics)
  • Positivity and motivation related posts- I’ve talked about the Law of Attraction
  • Creative writing tips/advice and other content related to my love of reading and writing
  • Sharing my poems/prose and other writing

Clearly, my mind’s in a million places and there’s tons of topics I’m interested in writing about. If you’ve become a reader of my blog more recently, you’d probably notice that most of my posts lately have been sharing my writing or other content related to reading and writing, fitting under the last two bullet points on the list above. This blog has led me to rediscover my love of all types of reading and writing, and those two things take up a huge portion of my time (especially right now during quarantine) so naturally I’ve been writing about them more. I’ve also had the most/best feedback on my writing related posts, so I figured I should focus on that.

I still don’t feel ready to turn this blog into a writing-only focused blog, or a blog where I’m just sharing my own work. I’m not even sure if the latter would still be considered a blog; it would almost be like a personal website or portfolio. If you’re here mainly for my writing content, please stick around- you won’t be disappointed, as I plan to focus mainly on that. However, the title of this blog reflects a lot more than just writing content, and it’s meant to be a place for me to share all my random thoughts, so if you’re here for any of the other stuff, please stick around as well. I want this to be a place where anyone can find something they resonate with, because as Cristian Mihai from The Art of Blogging states, blogging should be a conversation.

If you’re still reading this, thank you. It’s been awesome to work on this blog and publicize random ideas from the utmost corners of my mind and see that people are actually reading my ramblings and maybe even enjoying them??? It would be much appreciated if you could comment what post drew you into my blog, and what type of content out of the variety of categories I write is your favorite/what you come back to read. This will help me know how to diversify what I’m posting in a way where you guys are gaining something from my posts. That being said, I will continue to be myself on here, and there will definitely always be a few random surprises 🙂

Brooke

Soft-Bellied – Poem by Me

i dig my nails into my stomach
they leave little red marks

adding to the collection; matching
perfectly with the indents

from the waistband of my sweatpants
i watch my stomach rise and fall

as i take deep breaths; my pale flesh
expanding and contracting is a sight

both fascinating and repulsive
this little extra pouch of fat

of skin without bones, just an extra
pound (or two, or three) of me

is my weakness, so maybe i'm
too soft

I hope you enjoyed this poem. I’ve wanted to write something about my stomach (my biggest insecurity) for a while, and the words spilled out onto the page pretty easily. We all have our own insecurities, so let this be a reminder you’re not alone. Let me know if you have any feedback, suggestions, or challenges for me to use in my writing in the near future 🙂

Brooke

Finishing A High School Yearbook – What You Should Know

Hello everyone!

I am happy to say that as of a couple weeks ago, I along with the rest of my school’s yearbook staff finished off the 2019-2020 yearbook! This was my first year on the yearbook staff- I applied at the end of freshman year because I wanted to try my hand at writing in a more journalistic manner, and the experience was everything I hoped for, plus a lot more. I had no previous yearbook or journalism experience. I applied to be a writer, but I ended up doing a lot of design and the slightest bit of photography as well, so I dabbled in all three of the main areas. If you’re interested in what you can expect in a year of being on staff from brainstorming until submitting the last deadline for print, keep on reading.

Just for easier organization, I’m going to break it down by month and the bulk of what was completed. Keep in mind that every school runs things slightly differently, and depending on what (if any) preparation you do in summer for the school year, your brainstorming and prep time in the beginning of the year may be longer or shorter.

May 2019

  • I found out that my application to be in yearbook for the 2019-2020 school year was approved (!!!)
  • All members received information on summer yearbook camp- we attended the Walsworth 4-day camp at Chapman University and attendance was highly suggested but not mandatory unless you were an editor, so not all new members ended up signing up (I did)

June 2019

  • Turned in money and forms to go to the summer yearbook camp at Chapman, set up carpools and our staff spirit outfits (they have a spirit competition there and there’s theme days)
  • Made sure yearbook was on my schedule for the next school year
  • Went over an agreement of dates/deadlines and understanding what was expected of me as a staff member, signed and turned it in

July 2019

  • Yearbook Camp!!! It was such a fun experience and I got to room with one of my best friends (the person who convinced me to join) and bond with the staff members that I didn’t know. I took the class “Yearbook 1: A Bit of Everything” with my fellow newbies and Walsworth staff taught us the basics of Adobe InDesign (our school’s design program of choice, if you use Walsworth as your publisher I’m pretty sure you have to use InDesign), the format of a copy and captions, and how to take good photos.
  • At camp, we brainstormed ideas for our theme/book title, cover, and main colors/design elements we would be using throughout the book. We ended up keeping the theme and title, but the cover and design elements were changed once the school year started.

August 2019

  • At school orientation, each member had to pick a shift to hand out flyers at our assigned table and remind people to buy their yearbooks. We also just promoted our staff in general, and the purchase of senior tributes.
  • School started, and we did some activities to get to know each other since there were about 8 people who didn’t attend camp. Each editor gave a presentation on something we would need to know (side coverage, captions, how to find an angle for a copy, photography, more InDesign tips, etc.)

September 2019

  • We got our assignments for the first deadline, which was pretty much only fall sports. I had one copy and one design. For reference, D1 was one of our smallest deadlines and our staff was about 25 people, and every non-editor staff member had 2 or 3 assignments. Our book is around 400 pages because my school is fairly big, but the editors handle a lot (the pages with school pictures, senior tributes)
  • We also got mod assignments, and each person had to do two to four mods with a partner on various topics/school activities. They were usually open-ended questions or school events, and one person would get photos while the other got interviews. My partner and I had one on our school’s food fair, one on asking people what their favorite school English book was, and so on
  • Photographers and writers had almost four weeks to get their content for D1 done, then designers had a week to design their spreads using that content. Our editor-in-chief made us design checklists with all the specifics (font size, how many photos to use on a page, how to space everything out) but a lot is up to us as far as layout as long as we follow the checklist guidelines.
  • Once you turn a copy or photos in, the editors and my yearbook advisor would give feedback. We’d make the edits and if the designer had already finished, they would have to adjust accordingly. If not, the edited version would be waiting for the designer to put in
  • Writers were allowed to do interviews during our yearbook class period by pulling people out for a few minutes (we have a system) or by text. Photographers can pull people out for photos for some stuff and getting quotes for captions, but for sports and most events they have to physically be present and taking photos there. Designers do everything on InDesign on a computer at school, or take the school laptops home if they need to.

October 2019

  • We finished our D1 assignments, got them edited, etc.
  • At the end of the month, we submitted all the pages that were part of the first deadline and got our assignments for D2, which was mostly comprised of student life and academics pages

November 2019

  • We got our first official “grade” in the class from D1. Each deadline is 100 points, and that’s usually the only thing we get graded on. Points are taken off if your assignments were partially incomplete/unfinished or late
  • We worked on our D2 assignments, using the same checklists/guidelines as D1, but with higher expectations. I had a copy on our academic decathlon, a copy on our technology classes, and a spread on our special needs sports program for both the copy and design
  • We got our “proofs” back from Walsworth for D1 pages, so any issues with things not translating well on the page (off-color photos, etc.) or mistakes that weren’t caught previously had to be fixed, and sent for final submission/print

December 2019

  • We turned in our D2 assignments at the beginning of the month, got them edited, and they were submitted
  • We got our D3 assignments, which were mainly winter sports. I had two copies and a design.
  • Winter break ate up a good chunk of the month

January 2020

  • The same week as finals week (towards the beginning of the month), D3 assignments were due.
  • We got our D2 proofs back and edited them, then submitted for print
  • We got our D4 assignments (small deadline because it included a bunch of senior tributes stuff and other things the editors were responsible for) and I had two copies

February 2020

  • We submitted our D4 assignments
  • We got D3 proofs back and edited them, submitting for print
  • We got our D5 assignments assigned- everyone had one mod on a club at our school, plus I had two designs and two copies, which were all for spring sports

March 2020

  • We got our D4 proofs back and edited them, submitting them for print
  • We submitted our D5 assignments the last week before our school shut down for coronavirus/quarantine, luckily. That was our last deadline, so the book was completed! However, some sports hadn’t had games yet and we were planning on waiting to get photos for proofs, so those pages had to be reworked. Luckily, my pages weren’t missing any content and I got everything done early.
  • The few leftover pages that had to be scrapped because they were on spring events got fixed up by the editors- one was an emotional letter to seniors about the coronavirus situation, and the other was about what people were doing in quarantine

April 2020 (adjusted because of COVID-19)

  • D5 proofs came in, so the editors and my yearbook advisor had to figure that out
  • We’ve been in quarantine and doing online school, so since the yearbook is done, luckily we haven’t been assigned any work so it’s one less class to worry about

May 2020 (TBA and adjusted because of COVID-19)

  • I think my advisor is planning on giving us a portfolio assignment so we’ll have a portfolio of all the pages we worked on this year
  • Editors for next year will probably be chosen

June 2020 (TBA and adjusted because of COVID-19)

  • Brainstorming for next year’s book
  • Signing up for camp
  • Not much else since we’ll still be online and school ends the second week of June

I hope this gives you an idea of what a year working on the yearbook looks like! There’s definitely a lot more that goes on day-to-day between major deadlines and events, so I’ll post a more detailed guide in the future if you guys are interested. Let me know if any of you guys have questions about yearbook- even if they may not apply to my specific role or school’s yearbook setup, I’ll try my best to answer them.

Brooke

New Writing Projects & Challenging Myself

Hello everyone!

I’ve mentioned a lot lately how with all the extra time I’ve had to myself during quarantine, I’ve been trying to experiment with my writing and produce more work than I normally would have time for. It’s been a little bit of a struggle due to some bouts of writer’s block and lack of motivation/structure in my routine, but I’ve gotten to a place where I’m settling into a rhythm and realizing what I’m currently inspired to write about. If you want to learn more about what I’m working on right now and how it’s different from what I normally write about, keep on reading!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might’ve noticed that I mainly post poetry, and poetry has been my writing genre of choice for a while. I love to read and write poetry, but I think my heavy focus on it has left me sort of lopsided in my writing abilities, making dabbling in fiction, prose, or creative nonfiction a lot more difficult. However, when I was suffering writer’s block most recently, I turned to my “writing ideas” list that I always keep handy and am adding onto, and found most of my unused ideas were for fiction pieces. I decided to take the plunge and run with one of my ideas from that list, and I am now working on a novel??? I’m not sure if I will end up finishing it or how long it will actually be, but I’m about 13,000 words in and it’s been really fun to experiment with dialogue and all the other elements I’m not used to because of my poetry focus.

I know it probably seems pretty peculiar to jump head-first into attempting to write a novel- almost like I’m setting myself up for failure. I’m trying to stay away from that mindset, because I do have tons of extra time because of quarantine, and I’ve always wanted to try and work on a book. The final thing that made me take the plunge and just start writing it was the email I got from NaNoWriMo that because of quarantine/COVID-19 they would have an April novel writing month challenge. I definitely won’t be finishing in April, but I took that as a sign that now was the time to get started.

I haven’t really been editing any of the book thus far since I’m still in such a beginning stage and I want to just keep writing, then edit when I’m done. I won’t say too much about the plot or even the genre since I think there’s a few major plot points from my original outline that need to be reworked, but I’m figuring out more as I go along. If you have any tips for sticking with a novel idea and writing it out all the way through, I’d love to hear them!

Besides that very ambitious new project, I’ve also been venturing into trying some creative nonfiction. I finally got around to reading all of the works in the latest Polyphony Lit issue (the teen lit publication I edit for, check it out- a new issue is coming out soon!) and a good portion of the pieces that stood out to me were creative nonfiction. The main reason I haven’t gotten into it is just because I think it’s hard for me to write about myself in an actual creative and good-quality piece, since I often end up going into blogging mode and being more informal. I’m still not sure how to make my experiences connect to others in a way that would make people want to read my creative nonfiction piece, but I’m trying to figure it out.

I’m working on two creative nonfiction pieces right now. One is about my background/family tree and my lack of knowledge about such making it feel like my family’s a mystery, and one’s about how the tension in my family has escalated since my grandmother moved into our house in January. I feel like most of the creative nonfiction pieces I’ve enjoyed have focused on people’s families or cultures and the influence those things have on them, so it only seemed natural to think about those topics in the context of my life.

That being said, I’m still in love with poetry and I’ve written a couple new poems while sitting outside and observing nature. We had a few days of beautiful, summer-like weather here and it gave me a chance to write a poem about a hummingbird that I think could have some potential. I’ll always find poetry a little bit more natural since it’s always seemed the most approachable form of creative writing to me and it’s easier for me to write a poem in a short amount of time if I just have a tiny spark of inspiration, but I definitely want to continue venturing out of my comfort zone.

Honestly, another main reason I pushed myself out of my comfort zone is just because I’ve been reading so many books lately and creative pieces that aren’t necessarily poems online, but I haven’t read any new poetry that resonates with me in a while. Whenever I’m reading a certain type of writing or genre, I automatically start thinking about how I can make it work for me and express my ideas in that form of writing. I reread the Harry Potter series for the first time in years (LOTS of tears were shed, I forgot how insanely amazing J.K. Rowling is at storytelling) and it had me itching to write a book or experiment with magic and the fantastical in my writing.

That’s what I love about writing and any creative discipline in general. It’s so easy to shift your perspective and see the limitless ways to craft your art and hone your skills by seeking a new source of inspiration. I hope my fellow writers out there are also taking advantage of this time to work on something new and expand your horizons. Let me know if you have any author/book recommendations or any writing challenges for me to try out 🙂

Brooke

8 Things I’ve Been Missing While Quarantined

Hello everyone!

I’m sure we all have those things we never expected to miss going into quarantine, but actually found ourselves longing for a few weeks into it. I never thought I would miss the hustle and bustle of my busy schedule so much, but here I am! Today I’m going to be sharing a list of 10 things I miss from my normal/pre-coronavirus life with you all, in hopes of inspiring gratitude for the things we don’t normally realize we’re lucky to have or experience.

What I Miss #1: Car rides to and from school.

This was a shock to me, but I do actually miss looking out the window, noticing how busy everyone else is, and people watching during my twenty to thirty minute commute to and from school. It’s my peaceful time to listen to music or have heart-to-hearts with my mom, and I miss that little space of peace in my day.

What I Miss #2: Seeing my teachers and learning in a classroom.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’d know that I love my teachers (and learning in general) and so I obviously miss them a lot. I’m thankful that they’ve been understanding and helpful/accessible throughout this online learning process, but I miss getting to see them and have them explain things in person. I also miss sitting next to my friends in class and getting to chat with them while working or before/after class.

What I Miss #3: Getting up early.

I’m a morning person, but I don’t see the point in still getting up super-early when no one in my house will be awake and I’ll have to be quiet. Also, I’ve been staying up a bit later than normal to watch Netflix or read. However, I miss starting my day early and seeing the last moments of the sunrise as I get ready for school.

What I Miss #4: Yearbook hump days.

Let me explain this one: every Wednesday in yearbook we would take turns bringing a sweet treat/some form of food for the class, just as a reward for making it halfway through the week and a little bonding thing. I definitely miss looking forward to see what would be brought in and getting to celebrate making it halfway through the week with my fellow staff members. I also miss everyone from yearbook so much in general.

What I Miss #5: Club meetings at lunchtime.

I miss all the activities I was involved in at school- most of the clubs I’m in haven’t made any plans to meet online just because we’re fairly small or the activities we normally do can’t really be done online. It’s weird not running around campus and getting to spend time with different groups of people. I’m also sad a lot of events ended up getting cancelled, particularly some events for my Spanish Honors Society.

What I Miss #6: Volunteering at my local animal shelter.

I’ve mentioned this on this blog a few times before, but I usually volunteer at the animal shelter every weekend for a couple hours and just take care of the dogs. I miss the cute little dogs so much!! Their adorable faces would always brighten my day, and it was nice to get to interact with the potential adopters there.

What I Miss #7: Going to get food.

My family has still been getting takeout to help support local businesses, but I miss being able to spontaneously grab lunch with my mom or go get a treat like frozen yogurt when having a tough day. It’s also a major social activity in my area usually, since we live in the suburbs and there’s not much to do out of the house besides go out to eat and a couple other main options.

What I Miss #8: Seeing my friends.

This is the most obvious one which is why I didn’t put it in the beginning, but I know we all probably miss our friends so much. Even the simplest conversations at school or being in the presence of some of my less-close, acquaintance type friends are missed. I’m really craving that social interaction right now, because FaceTime and contact over social media isn’t the same.

I hope this inspires you to make your own list of things you miss. I didn’t make this to mope in a negative way, but to recognize the things that I’m grateful for so I can appreciate them more once life goes back to normal and I experience them again. These times really are crazy, but it will be a huge relief when things go back to normal. I’m wishing the best for our world, and my heart goes out to any of you who have experienced hardships because of the virus. Stay safe and healthy!

Brooke

The Clothes We Wear – Prose

People warn you to make a good impression, to dress nicely and take pride in your appearance. What does it say about me if I rotate the same oversize t-shirts and hoodies with various vacation destinations or event names littered across them every week? What does it say if I pretty much only wear sweatpants, almost never jeans and especially not skirts?

Because I do. Don’t worry, I’m completely hygienic and I care about my appearance in that way- I hope people don’t assume that I don’t. But why should I have to put up a facade and be someone I’m not?

Sometimes I wish I cared more. I really do. Breezy floral sundresses and sophisticated blouses roam my mind whenever I go into the city, and it suddenly crosses my mind I should’ve dressed up a little more. But that’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good fairy godmother-like transformation from time to time.

It was the night of the dance. I got my hair done at an actual salon for the first time ever- one where they offered you drinks as they worked on making each tendril of hair camera-ready. My golden blond hair bounced around my shoulders in soft curls, I had dusted my eyelids with some glittery eyeshadow (not too glittery), and skinny silver hoop earrings that were just the right size dangled from my earlobes.

But most importantly, the dress. It was the dress. It was a little shorter than what I would normally wear, and it hugged my body as if it was made to fit. The black fabric glimmered thanks to the sheen woven into it, and the straps met to cross several times and tie at the small at my back. The dress glowed on me, and I felt as if I glowed too. I felt pretty, and for a night I understood.

(It didn’t stop me from wearing sweatpants the next day.)

I hope you enjoyed this little anecdote. I’m not really sure if prose is the best label for it, but I didn’t know what else to call it and I still considered it creative writing. As I write this, I’m wearing sweatpants and an oversized concert tee, so yeah…it’s pretty accurate. Please let me know if you have any feedback, suggestions, or challenges for me to use in my future writing!

Brooke

Ode to My Childhood – Poem by Me

hair loosely tied in pigtails
i ran out the front door into the street

ready to ride my baby blue beach cruiser bike
past the same twenty houses back and forth

ringing the bell, fingers running through the
white streamers on the handlebars dancing in the wind 

murmuring to myself as i sped down the sidewalk
this was my time to be independent and free

not a care in the world; reality wasn't on my radar
and when mom called out for dinnertime

                                                            i was ready to return to the real world

I hope you guys enjoyed this poem. It was fun to write, and it’s actually based off of one of my most vivid memories from when I was younger. I really would go on my blue bike, riding up and down my street but not bothering to stray into any of the other streets in my neighborhood. I felt so free, and that was honestly my favorite pastime after school since I could talk to myself and I felt like no one was listening, but in a good way. Let me know if you have any feedback, suggestions, or challenges for me to use in my future writing posts 🙂

Brooke