all is fair

Wind chimes sung as a soft summer breeze passed. The swimming pool was glistening under the blazing sun like thousands of diamonds. Two redwoods stood their ground tall and strong. Aria and Erin sat on a steel swing eating slices of watermelon to help maintain some cool.

The two were close.

Aria’s mother had left the house leaving it large and bare for the girls to do whatever. She trusted Erin since she had come over so often. It seemed that there was almost nothing wrong with their relationship. Flawless even.

Erin slurped on her watermelon as a drop of juice ran down her chin and fell on to her leg.

“Oh,” Aria noticed. “Should I get you a paper towel or something? I can just run into the house and get it for you.”

“No there’s no need for that,” Erin replied. Both ends of her lips curled upwards in a powerful smile. “Thanks, though.”

Erin stood up suddenly and in such a way that the swing swung backwards a little too strong. Aria jumped at the abrupt movement and giggled.

“What do you say?” Erin asked looking off into some distance.

“Say what?” Aria inquired back trying to look at what Erin was looking at. But all there was was a wooden fence that separate her from her neighbors.

Feet pivoted against the stone ground. Erin faced Aria with a mischievous smile before saying, “We go for a little dip.”

“Sure, you can borrow one of my swimsuits,” Aria offered. “I’ll go get it from my room.”

“You’re no fun!” Erin exclaimed. “Let’s just jump!”

“With our clothes on?”

“Jesus! Are you dumb or something? No clothes.”

“You want to go skinny dipping in the middle of daylight?”

Erin was a strange girl, but something drew Aria towards her. She listened. Aria slipped out of her yellow spaghetti strapped tank top and white shorts. Unhooked her bra and slipped out of her underwear. Once she was done she found that Erin was two steps ahead of her and already in the pool.

“C’mon slowpoke!” Erin called. “The water feels great.”

Aria threw her clothes into a pile that had already been started by Erin herself. Then she jumped. The water was cold and seemed to slide effortlessly against her skin as she pushed herself up to the surface.

“Well what do you have to say for yourself?” Erin almost mocked.

Aria rolled her eyes. “Sorry for not thinking this would be kind of nice.”

“Did you just roll your eyes at me?” Erin snapped.

“I was just joking,” Aria defended surprised at her friend’s attitude. “Sorry if I made you upset.” Erin was being childish and immature, but Aria wouldn’t say anything. How could she?

“It’s fine,” Erin said. “Let’s play a game. Marco Polo. And you’re Marco.”

“Marco Polo with only two people?”

Erin glared immediately causing Aria to close her eyes. Satisfied, Erin swam away. Aria counted to a random number making sure Erin got enough time to distance herself.

“Marco,” Aria said clearly.

Then from behind Aria’s ear she heard Erin’s voice, “Polo.” Aria opened her eyes for the last time as chlorinated water flooded her vision. Hands wrapped around her neck and long nude nails dug deep into her throat.

Funny how even though you know you can’t breathe underwater, you still try.

Erin dragged Aria’s limp, naked body out of the water and pulled it to the wooden fence. She tentatively knocked against barrier with her knuckles.

“I-I did it!” Erin almost stuttered. “A clean death!”

But no reply came. Erin just stared at a blank fence as she shivered in her spot. Nothing was there.

“I’m sorry.”

-A.J.C.

all is fair

“Ich Seh Ich Seh”

*POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT. *

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This Austrian film’s title should have been translated into “I See, I See” or “I Spy” instead of “Goodnight Mommy.” It’s so much more poetic that way and gives away a lot less. But who am I to judge that?

Regardless, this movie was pure art.

“Goodnight Mommy” is about two twin boys (Lukas and Elias)  whose mother comes back home after some serious plastic surgery. She begins to act distant from the two, even ignoring one (Lukas) altogether. Suspicious, the brothers begin to believe that the woman is not their mother.

I wish I could say more about the movie, but I’m trying to write this in a way so that you will watch the movie. So I will try my best not to spoil too much or preferably none at all.

The general mood was very minimal yet at the same time surreal. Visually there was a pleasing lack of detail that contrasted perfectly with the high complexity and intricacy behind the characters’ relationships. Clean and pristine, the audience is presented with the ideal life on a cursory level. This allows us to not be distracted by anything else and pulls our focus on perverse nature that lies within the boys as their distrust for their mother grows larger and larger.

wowz

Most horror movies depend on striking images that evoke a sense of revulsion in the viewer. “Goodnight Mommy” at its core is no different. However, it is not necessarily what is explicitly shown that really makes our stomachs curl. Rather, it is what is suggested by the images. If played a different way, the masks the boys wear would actually be kind of cute. I mean, it’s not unnatural for a little boy to draw monsters or alien creatures out of their imaginations… I think… Anyways, in this movie, the circumstance in which the masks appear are certainly not symbols of innocent innovation. Although it starts out to seem that way.
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The covering of the face is essential to the movie. For a child, part of trusting their parent is knowing who they are physically. But what’s to say, the same doesn’t go for the parent?  The face after all is a piece of our identity not just on a personal level, but a more social level as well. Because of this lingering thought, the masks become more unsettling than ever as the sons too begin to push away from their mother who seems to already be drifting.

Composition is also an important piece of the movie that is very much worth paying attention to. You will find that the Lukas and Elias are unusually close even for twins. And every time they are parted–whether it be forcefully or in a playful game–something makes you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s because we are so used to seeing them together and we feel that they should be. yay.jpg

We also find discomfort when the whole family is together or even when the mother is near even just one of them.creepers.jpg

But I’ll let you figure out the rest of that!

“Ich Seh Ich Seh” is clearly not your cliché horror film. Like any good psychological horror it really leaves a lasting image in your mind. If you watched the trailer for this, (like I was) you are probably scared out of your wits. But honestly, it really isn’t the kind of scary that jumps out at you.

Though I will say that it sent shivers down my spine multiple times.

-A.J.C.

“Ich Seh Ich Seh”

To the friends I don’t want anymore.

I don’t know how many of you there are. There are actually just a handful of you.

If we are close to a certain extent, you probably know that after we graduate, I will be removing people from my life. Basically taking you off all social media, deleting numbers, just cutting off all connection. Or at least as much as I possibly can/want to.

I have this mental list of people already set, however, there are a certain few that for the longest time I couldn’t decide if I really wanted them in my life or not. And I think I’ve come to the conclusion after today, that I don’t want you in my life anymore.

The thing is, I don’t hate you. I like you guys, even a lot. But I think our relationship is detrimental on both sides. You don’t like the way I am or the way I treat you/treated you. And same for me.

I just really want to be happy and you also deserve to be happy. A lot of you personally just bring me down a lot. Insults that might be a joke, but are actually too overt. Lack of consideration. A-lot of things that go on behind my back that you probably think I don’t know about, but is actually so obvious to me without anyone telling me. I know I’m not the best person either. In the past, I’ve done a lot of affronting without considering your situation or feelings.

However, I want to reassure you I HAVE NEVER EVER spoken about you in a bad light unless I was truly concerned. And when I did, it was to those I could trust, get advice from, and I knew their opinion of you wouldn’t change.  But I don’t know…I think I’m trying pretty hard lately. Maybe I was such a piece of crap and this is the punishment you think is fit for me.

Even now, I really try to bite my tongue. But sometimes I think is it really worth it? Fortunately, I don’t want to stoop down to that level.

Honestly, at some points I wanted to cut all of you off more recently than I’d like admit. And for some of you I already have. But I guess, I wanted to have hope in our bond and that we were all better than we really are. Now? I think it’s a bit late.

Maybe somewhere down the line, we’ll meet again.

-A.J.C.

 

To the friends I don’t want anymore.

Acid.

Being a friend. It’s easy. Being a good friend. It’s rough.

I have made mistakes in the past and I’m certainly making them now. Truth is, I haven’t always been a great friend or great a person in general to those I care about. In fact, I used to think that valuing people at this age was so useless because I wouldn’t even see 90% of them after high school.

But, I was even more of fool for not seeing the people that still cherished me and had faith in me even though I was such a condescending cynic.

You see, there people who are called “toxic friends.” These so-called friends might be good at heart, but still not at all good for you. They’re these alluring people who you want to be around because their presence just makes you feel like something. Not necessarily a good something or a bad something…just…something.

And for you to be a decent friend that’s even worth their consideration, you must abide by their standards. Otherwise, they punish you in different ways.

Here just some “punishments” I have witness firsthand:

  1. the cold shoulder
  2. deliberate ignoring
  3. degradation
  4. a-lot of back talking

You know, someone actually threw some Japanese peach jelly at me. I think it was her way of saying sorry in a very passive aggressive way. But the thing was… for starters, they threw it at me. Second, it landed on the floor. I was extremely tempted to just shove back at her because I’m not an animal that eats off the floor, but I held back.

And I don’t know why!

Why do I have to hold back hurt feelings?  It wasn’t like I didn’t want the delicacy. Nor was it her being overtly mean.

See, toxic friends make you worry and they make you scared.

One of my (sort of former?) close friends said, “Oh, I’m kind of scared her.” After we failed making some stupid poster. (Talking about the same person who threw some silly jelly at me.)

And I just asked her, “Why would you be scared?” What I really wanted to say to her was…

You should NEVER. EVER. have to worry about what your real friends are thinking about  or what the consequences are. Because if they really cared, they’d either say it to your face or at least consult a trustworthy (most likely mutual) confidant and then talk to you.

The biggest problem is, toxic friends are NOT bad people. That’s exactly what makes them toxic. They’re actually often times, excellent advice givers and just a fun person to be around.

There was another person who–in my mindset–I deeply cared for so much. And I did everything I could to make sure to help in any situation as much as possible. Sometimes I even let her bring me down. It wasn’t something intentional. It was always just a tad more than subtle like “Oh, you have a paper due? I have a paper, a competition, a conference, and an event to organize all this week.”

Even though I didn’t like that about her, I still accepted it. But it wasn’t enough. So I felt like I wasn’t enough.

And I shouldn’t have felt that way for even a second.

I want to say I’m sorry to the REAL friends who have loved me for me. Flaws and all. Sorry for only just realizing this. And thank you so much for still being here. I don’t know if you guys are even reading this, but whatever. I love you. Always will. Let’s make these last few months really count.

To my toxic friends, I really do value what we had or maybe still have. I don’t think our relationship is very healthy though. So I’ve decided to not live under you, but look at you with both eyes at an equal level. I may have cut you off…so for that case…Thanks for the memories.

-A.J.C.

Acid.

Christianity Today

For those of you who think Catholicism and Christianity are different, please read a credible history book. If you are an extremely devout Christian, I implore you to read this as objectively as possible or not read at all.  I will also try to write this as objectively as possible to prevent anyone from getting too offended. 

So, today is Sunday. I occasionally go to church with my family especially because some extended family runs that particular place. But personally, I am not a very religious person. And it’s not that I don’t believe in God, but rather I don’t believe in the Bible.

Yes, that is a very overt thing to say. “I don’t believe in the Bible.” Some of you may take it as me saying “I don’t believe in God’s word/will.” But that is not what I am saying at all.

The time in which we live now and the time in which the Bible was written are two extremely different eras. Back then priority number one was survival and building upon humankind. Today…Well, honestly humankind as a whole has no immediate purpose or threat (other than maybe the environment). Rather, we hold the individual to a much greater standard than before.

We have advanced so far that we can actually be concerned about our own happiness, our own freedom, and our own liberties. Our societies have developed in such a way where morals have been engraved into our very beings since before we were even born.

For many people the Bible is a set of instructions made by God and written through his disciples. So it is, very technically, a set of rules. For time’s sake, allow me to go through the most controversial ones.

  1. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. – 1 Corinthians 11:9

For a long time, women were meant to be subservient to men. Our main priorities were to keep popping babies out and raise them. Well, all the way back then, not many people could attend schools. You were either rich and could afford a teacher or some institution, or it was up the mother since the father was out working. Well we have public schools in which for a lot of countries are free. The world does not necessarily need more populating. In fact we’re facing overcrowding in certain nations. Both men and women have a significant more amount of time to focus on themselves and their independent lives. And lastly, women are now employed. Logically speaking, women don’t necessarily need men and men don’t necessarily need women.

        2. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. – Romans 1:26-27
The greatest contradiction in the Bible that stumps everybody is when God says to love all even your enemies, and then this happens. This is a two-pronged “adage.” No sex. No gays. I am a strong proponent of gay rights, but many of my more conservative, Christian friends and family are not. My personal perspective on this, is that back then we didn’t have seven billion people on Earth. We hadn’t discovered every corner of the world. Hell, we thought the world had definitive corners. We hadn’t created the kind of technology that could replace a whole nation’s worth of manpower. If you’re having gay relations, you can’t have kids who can fill those jobs. Today, over two hundred nations have the right to choose what they want to do. You could be born to scientist parents, but end up being an artist if you wanted.
The social hierarchy now is more complex than a simple pyramid. Our world is not two dimensional. It’s not three dimensional either. There are so many things you have to consider.
Three.
Speaking of loving thy enemies. Well…Why are Muslims enemies? Is it because they all hate America? Terrorists? Well, you know… Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are all cut from the same cloth. They are all branches of Zoroastrianism: the first monotheistic religion. True, there are significant differences between the three in terms of rituals and some distinctive beliefs. However, at its core, we all believe in God and God sees us all as his children.
“Allah is not God!” someone shouts in the background.
Well God isn’t “God” in Korean. It’s “hananim.” Soooo…I don’t know what else to say. If you’re saying you hate Muslims because of you hate ISIS and believe all of them should die in some way, you are by sole definition also a religious extremist.
Maybe we should all just go back to Zoroastrianism.
The argument I’m trying to make here is that the Bible is outdated. It’s not wrong. It’s not incorrect. These regulations were just more relevant 3000 years ago. But they’re no longer applicable in 2017 where we have so much more control over our singular lives.
Once again, I seriously apologize if I offended anyone. But it’s what I believe, and unlike before I can say whatever want without worrying the monarch is going to kill me for treason.
Thanks for reading and happy Sunday!
– A.J.C.
Christianity Today

Walking in a Line

asd.jpgSilently sitting on the subway, she just minded her own business. She never slept on public transportation. The girl was the type of person that only fell asleep when she was in absolute comfort. Where safety was 120% guaranteed. Sometime or some place she knew she wouldn’t wake up in some obscure alley.

It was a long trip. Maybe an hour or so. She wasn’t going home and she wasn’t going to meet friends. She was just going for herself. Because she wanted to. Because she could.

There were perhaps between thirty five and forty stops.

Jet black hair tucked behind her ears and fair skin. If you describe her like this, she sounds simply beautiful. But in reality, she was painfully average. Her eyes were neither narrow like that of a model nor were they wide and refreshing. Her nose was round and closer to flat. Average height. Average weight.

Luckily, her style wasn’t so bad. Just simple. A simple light grey coat over a black turtleneck with blue jeans. On her feet, some simple white flats.

The train was empty. The walls were a clean white, outlined in steel. The seats were colored a boring grey. Almost brown because of the wear.

She twiddled her thumbs as she waited stop by stop. The announcements were voiced by high pitched, robotic woman who tediously articulated every consonant.  That was all she focused on.

Then the train came to a strangely slow stop snapping the girl out of her train of mindless twiddling.

A shadowy figure walked through the the automated doors. It was hard to tell if the shadow had a face. The figure was long and tall. You couldn’t tell if it had legs because it seemed to just glide across the floor. Not like a ghost. It wasn’t floating. More like a snail or slug. It sat. No… lied down, sprawled across three seats perfectly parallel to her.

She could not see its eyes, but she felt it watching her. So she stopped moving and averted her eyes pretending it wasn’t even there. But pretending can only get you so far. Pretending is ignoring reality. Pretending is a game. Pretending is what you do as a child. Pretending is fun.

The hairs on the back of her neck stood up as chills ran down her spine. Was it cold? Was it hot? The clothing that wrapped around her neck felt suffocating. Like it was strangling her.  She tugged at her sweater trying not to look too desperate.

The figure began to make sounds. Breathing sounds. But it wasn’t calm, it sounded like it was heaving. As if it were carrying something very heavy or had been travelling through the desert without any water.

Unable to pretend any further, she slowly stood up from her seat. Collected her belongings and walked towards the front of the train. At least she could move compartments. But every compartment she passed, it was there in the same spot. 

Perhaps she was walking in circles? But a circle is figure in which both ends meet. An underground train surely was a line with two separate ends. So she kept going.

And going.

And going.

And she was right. The subway was linear. Progressing forward as it should. She marched past the shadowy thing and to the end of the first compartment where the conductor would be. She knocked.

“What is it?” the man inquired in a raspy voice. She noticed a pack of Marlboro cigarettes placed on the panel in front of him. He took his eyes off the straight path ahead to look at her.

“Um,” she started while pointing an unsure finger back behind her. “I think there’s-”

Suddenly the feeling that eyes had been carefully watching her was gone. She whipped her head around to see nothing.

“Actually,” she said, “I was just wondering when the next stop was. It feels like it’s been forever.”

“It’s barely been two minutes since the last stop,” the conductor defended. “I can’t be distracted by the likes of you. Go back to your seat and enjoy the ride like everyone else.”

The girl looked behind her once more to find the train still empty.

“Of course,” she nodded in almost a whisper. “Sorry for bothering you.”

So she sat in solemn silence beside the conductor’s cab. It wasn’t long before something slid down her shoulder and her side. She jumped slightly, but it was just her hair. The hair behind her right ear had fallen out. Immediately she tucked it back where it belonged.

The conductor stopped the train and the doors opened allowing people to flood in. It was a popular stop. He looked through the little window behind him and the window next to him to see if the mysterious girl from before had gotten off here. Maybe it was because of the load of people he could not see her.

Thud, thud, thud. Something tumbled against the window in front of him. Startled, the driver turned back around to see what it was. He tried to peer out the front, but his vision was limited. So he got out to get a better look. But there was nothing. So he went back in and resumed his duty. He drove on.

Left behind was a pale faced girl painted with her own blood. Brown eyes had glossed over truly allowing her to resemble a porcelain doll.

You see, the girl had gotten off at that station.  She just didn’t get off at the platform.

Walking in a Line

Cheating. The Students or College Board?

Disclaimer: I’m talking about cheating on the SATs. Nothing more. Nothing less.

As a senior who’s frustratingly waiting for all her college decisions to come out, it’s pretty clear that I have been through the struggle of SATs. A big part of that struggle were the peers who cheated on the SAT.

Some of you may be wonder just how cheating on the SAT works. Well…

  1. Someone in some obscure place in China takes the SAT. But right as it ends and they finish, they throw it out the window to their buddy and make a run for it.
  2. The person outside the window catches it and also makes a run for it.
  3. That person puts all the answers into their computer.
  4. They post it online.
  5. You wake up at 5:00am on test day and spend the next two to three hours memorizing.

Well that’s just one way. There are so many ways you can cheat on the SAT honestly, it’s a waste of breath to describe them all.

But who are we to blame? The students for having misdirected moral codes? Of course. The parents for raising kids as such and allowing them to do such a thing? Yes. College Board for not doing anything? Just as much, YES.

If you want to prevent cheating come up with a better plan other than making a new formatted test. All College Board has been telling students is “don’t cheat!” Well…that worked so well!

The real solution is to stop SAT altogether and find a different method of measuring accumulation of knowledge. And no, I’m not taking about the ACT.

But, of course, this “non-profit” organization must still make ends meet…

Cheating. The Students or College Board?