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Song Swap

This week, the writers trade song suggestions and draw inspirations from some catchy tunes! Under the title of the composition, you can find the name of the song and singer the author took inspiration from as well as the name of the teammate who suggested it, so be sure to check it out! :)

Lacking a little luck

By: Laurie JiN

"Today And Tomorrow" Grace VanderWaal

Suggested By: Luce Cada

    There is no doubting Grace Vanderwaal’s success. After her touching performance on America’s Got Talent (AGT)  and her big win in 2016, she dedicated the next three years to writing her well known albums and starred in the movie Stargirl. While the years after AGT stemmed from Vanderwaal’s hard work, there is no denying the little bit of luck that impacted her whole career.

    Luck comes and goes. Whether it comes is the real question: On the day of a final exam, a big job interview, or an AGT audition, are your skills 100% present? Or has something slipped your mind? There is no doubting Grace Vanderwaal’s skills, majority of them were present throughout her performances at AGT, but when you see others stumble, forget a word, cry and get nervous: is it because they lack skills? Or their talents simply aren’t there that day?

    Getting onto AGT kind of depends on the sob story you produce. One man (although I am unsure of his name) managed to get onto BGT (Britain’s Got Talent) with a bad rap song, but a beautiful, heartwarming, British-loving story. While Grace Vanderwaal didn’t really have that big of a story, others who may have been just as good as her at singing may have been rejected because of their lacking story.

    At the beginning of life, luck gives you a possible fate: when, where, how were you born? Those with disorders may not lack skill, but are judged upon. Those born into poverty must push themselves to climb out. Those who were born at a time where their parents didn’t want them need to fend for themselves. Those with rich families could get a better education, which improves the chances of success, but not necessarily the guarantee- hard work is needed for that. Those who had a loving family growing up end up happier than those who don’t.

    Now, through endless hard work and that tiny push of luck, Grace Vanderwaal is a success story. Her dedication to singing brought her endless opportunities, and anyone who exerts the same work and receives a little fortune can achieve their own personal successes (but make sure to not rely solely on luck- that’s basically buying lottery tickets and gambling).

That's...Not what I meant

By: Luce cada

"Not what i meant" Dodie

"Flowers" Anaïs Mitchell

Suggested By: Jasmine Li

    “What are you buying me this time?” I ask Sophie. 

    I follow her around the mall wearing the outfit she chose for me that day. Her little gold purse full of money swings to her side and she says nothing as we walk into Hollister. 

    The last few weeks have been very different. For the first time in my life, I have a best friend. For the first time in my life, I’m going to the mall without my mom. She says she’s proud of me for making new friends, but I see the look on her face whenever Sophie comes home. I see the look on her face when I’m wearing something that I didn’t pick out. 

    Every day, Sophie picks my clothes. She made me throw out all my flowered dresses and patterned shirts. The jeans with patches that I sewed are still hidden under my bed. I’ve kept some of my favorite from her sight, in case I have a day to myself. But Sophie makes me wear things that everyone else wears. 

    Now she’s holding out a cerulean loose shirt that looks huge on me. She picks out a smaller one and a miniskirt that I would never wear on my own. 

    She makes me wear it anyway. 

    I think she’s making me wear clothes like these because she likes me. I think it’s sweet of her to think of me. I miss wearing my rose-colored shirt and handmade shorts but I’ll do what she wants. I’ve never had a best friend before. 

    Later, Sophie cakes powder and other products on my face that I barely recognize. She does this sometimes. 

    “You’re pretty without makeup,” she coos, “but everyone wears it. You’ll look better this way.” 

    I shrug and let her do what she wants. I think she likes playing with these things. It makes her happy. 

    Before this, I loved flowers. No, I still love flowers. Nature is my favorite thing. I like trees and beaches. I like bees and butterflies. I can’t even kill spiders. Whenever someone screams because of a spider, I’m the one who puts it outside. People think I’m weird for doing that. They give me strange looks when I pass the hall. 

    I wonder whether it’s because I always wear bright shirts and flowers in my hair or because of my love for spiders and bugs. 

    But now that I wear things that Sophie tells me to wear, like those weird tank tops and uncomfortable short shorts, no one looks at me weird. No one looks at me at all, unless they like my outfit. 

    That never happened before. 

    I let my best friend dress me up like this every day. It doesn’t seem right. But I want to be nice to her. No one is ever nice to me. 

    But there came a day when she left me. 

    She didn’t come to my house that Wednesday morning. When I texted her, she left me on “Delivered”. I learned that from her. I learned everything from her. 

    I put on a shirt that she bought me, one that I didn’t mind. I pulled out the box under my bread with the flower-patterned skirt I sewed and then picked a fake white daisy to put in my hair. I smile at my reflection. I haven’t worn a flower in my hair for a while. 

    “Is Sophie not here?” I hear a hint of hopefulness in my mom’s voice. She smiles when she sees the flower in my hair and she adjusts it. 

    “I don’t think so. Maybe she’s already at school.” 

    I walk to school, a little skip to my step. People are looking at me again. It’s the bright yellow shirt paired with the skirt that has white flowers on it. It’s the daisy in my hair. It’s my bright appearance. 

    When I see Sophie in homeroom, she screeches, “What are you wearing?” 

    I blink. She never says that to me anymore. 

    “You weren’t here, so I picked out my outfit,” I explain. 

    She glares at my black rhinestone sandals. “I was trying to help you.” 

    “Help me what?” 

    “Fit in.” 

    I look around, bewildered. Everyone is watching us. “Fit in? I thought I already did.” 

    “I am trying to fix you,” she seethes. “You’re not like anyone else. I need to fix you, Fern.” 

    “I don’t need to be fixed,” I say firmly. “I fit in.” 

    She didn’t talk to me for the rest of the day. 

    I sit in my garden during sunset, looking at the flowers. I remember when I first questioned why she bought all this stuff for me. She said it would be good for me. 

    “Will I fit in if I follow you?” I asked her. She nodded. 

    I want to fit in. But I want to be me. Will she let me? 

    I pull out the journal that has meanings of flowers scrawled throughout it. I decipher my mom’s handwriting and I pick out yellow roses and magnolias for forgiveness and perseverance. 

    I love flowers because they have meaning. We’re all flowers, and we’re all different, right? Can’t Sophie see that? 

    She doesn’t come the next morning, either. I stick the handmade bouquet in my backpack and set off, hoping to find her before school starts. 

    I spot her with a huge group of girls, who are wearing things I would never wear. When they see me, they nudge Sophie. 

    “What is it, Fern?” she sighed, crossing her arms. 

    I shamelessly pull out the flowers from my backpack. “Can I try harder? I’m sorry.” 

    She stares at me, and I continue, “I want to fit in. But I don’t want to be fixed.” 

    Sophie looks at me up and down. There’s a daffodil in my hair, and her eyes lay on it. “You want to fit in? Fix yourself to be like us. You can’t fit in if you’re yourself.” She walks away, throwing her dyed hair over her shoulder. 

    “That’s… not what I meant.” 

Road trips, Research Papers, and Constellations

By: Jasmine Li

"Stupid Deep" John Bellion

Suggested By: Austina xu

    There’s a certain sense of freedom that only sitting in the back of your trunk and identifying the constellations in the night sky can give you. You can feel a light breeze lifting the lining of your jacket and the ends of your hair, hear the crickets chirping in the background, feel the elation bubble in your chest as you beat your best friend at naming constellations for the fourth month in a row. It’s a very specific type of freedom, but it’s the one I remember most clearly.

    “Hey, you got everything, yeah?”

    “Who do you take me for? Of course I have everything.”

    My sister was going on a trip. Wanted to “finally see the jewels of this Earth,” as she would put it. I’ve seen enough of this planet to last me a lifetime, and I need to grade too many monotonous research papers claiming the exact same thing to have any time to follow her around the world. But she did promise to sit with me and stare into the night sky whenever I wanted, so maybe it won’t be a complete waste of time.

    “Ready to get this show on the road?”

    “Sure. Still don’t see why this is what you wanted to do on your sabbatical though. Why not take a trip to somewhere fancy? Paris? Or better yet, why not just stay at home and rest a little. You can cook in your own kitchen, not pay any hotel fees, or have to stay in the same junky old car with me for weeks.”

    “Hey, you get to look at your constellations. You love looking at constellations, and you used to do it all the time.”

     “In an observatory, yes. You’ve got the tools, the nice, cushioned seats, it’s perfect. Besides, it’s not as if I could sneak out at night back then and drive to the nearest observatory which was what, three hours away?”

    “You’re gonna love this, I promise you.”

    “If by ‘this,’ you mean listening to you ramble on and on while reading my students’ essays, which they put absolutely no thought into, by the way, planning Gertie’s birthday party and Mom’s move to the nursing home, and organizing my finances so I can pay off the mortgage, then of course I am not going to love this.”

    “Why’re you planning your neighbor’s birthday party?”

    “She asked me to. What? It’s better than grading papers.”

    There’s a certain sense of annoyance that only reading ten page essays written by students who have no interest in your subject can give you. You can feel the hair standing up at the back of your neck, hear the incessant tapping your foot is making on the pebbles by the fourth creek you’ve been to in one week, feel the anger brew in your chest as you write another “so what’s the point?” on a paragraph that doesn’t expand beyond simple fact. It’s a very specific type of annoyance, but it’s the one I cannot get rid of at this very moment.

    “You want to play your constellations game tonight?”

    “Who do you think I am? Of course I do, but these damn students are certainly doing a good job at making me want to tear this stack of paper to shreds.”

    “Then do that! Problem solved.”

    “I still have to pay my mortgage.”

    She shuffled just a smidge and sat herself onto the pebbles right by me, “Why do you do this anyway?”

    “I had it planned out, remember? My job, when I’d get my first apartment, when I’d suggest to Mom that she could move into a nursing home, that I’m going to quit teaching and start my lifelong dream of knitting every single second of the day when I’m sixty-five. I have everything planned out.”

    “How’s that working out for you? Only reason you’re still doing this job is because you need some source of income, and you want to prove to your tiny self that you can follow your own plans. Come on, stars are bright! Forget about those papers for once in your long, boring life.”

    She was right, for once in her long, unpredictable life, but I was right, too. There is a certain sense of freedom that comes with staring intently into the night sky and shouting out names of constellations with someone you love, but there’s also a sense of freedom in throwing your work to the side for a moment and just simply relishing the warmth that creeps into your heart as you lay back, relax, and laugh your heart out.

The Gift of life

By: Austina xu

"Deadmen" Saint PHNX

Suggested By: Laurie Jin

I envy you

I really do

I have my treasures

Kingdoms, palaces, 

Masks of gold.

While you play

with your trinkets

Tugging on remnants of past pieces


Yet I envy you

I have my golden shackles

You have your cotton tethers

Gnawing your way through like a dog


Yet I envy you

What good is in a name

What good is in this fruitless fighting

Your worn soles 

Are choices

Your blistered calluses

Are choices

When you get up

Is a choice

Luxuries I am denied

You are doomed

A stream that becomes thinner and thinner

But you have not lost yourself

In that unforgiving sea


Clenched fists


That is the gift of life


And I envy you for it

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