Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What It’s Like To Be Me

By: Zachary James Brounstein

I’m not like every other student at North Warren. In every possible way, everyone is different and we all have our own characteristics; but me, I consider special. A rare breed. I’m attracted to men. There’s a thousand terms and ways to say it or beat around the bush, but at the end of the day that's who I am. It doesn’t define me or change my demeanor. I play video games, watch football with my family, and love spending my time with the my guy friends on the weekends. So even though I am different, I don't want to be treated that way.

Even from a young age my family knew. It seemed that everyone knew but me, and that wasn’t so easy. Before I went into elementary school my parents had noticed a change in me. I would say things like, “Something's wrong, I’m not supposed to be born this way” or “Why aren’t I like the other kids?”

My parents didn’t know what to do. My father, being a Jewish man, and my mother, being a Catholic woman, called a specialist who said it was either a phase I would grow out of or I would figure myself out. My aunts and uncles would tell my parents that they couldn’t fuel the fire. If I wanted a barbie doll they had to say no and teach me the ways of being like a boy, as sad as that is. But one Christmas, my parents listened to their advice and got me cars and a baseball with a glove and bat, but I cried. I personally don’t remember the details, but my mother and father agreed that it was a day that made them feel like they failed as parents. Apparently I cried so hard and asked my mother, “Why would Santa do this to me? He is supposed to know what I want.” After that Christmas my parents swore to let me be whoever I was, and I know I was an accident, but their decision wasn’t.  

In Blairstown Elementary I was bullied for how I dressed, how I acted, and for being different. I would come home every day in tears crying to my mom, “Why do they judge me? Why are they so mean?” And she would hold me to her chest and let me cry. I hated waking up and heading to a place where I wasn’t welcomed. The problem was I didn’t know why. I was not old enough to know anything about sexual attraction and true love. I dated a girl for almost three years, but you know about elementary school relationships, they don't really count, it's just what kids do. Whilst being with a girl, I never felt attracted to her and we were best friends. She didn’t judge me or question me. After we ‘broke up’ in sixth grade, I came to North Warren with a fresh start. I was sick of the tears and over with the mean kids who ridiculed me day by day.

But seventh grade wasn’t all too easy. I still was not a friend to many, which was good I guess, but truthfully I felt lonely. Even now, four years since seventh grade, I feel lonely. There wasn’t much going on for me during middle school, but the bullies were still around, lurking, their words damaging. Whomever came up with that saying that words don’t hurt you was dumb. Words sting like a burn from a hot surface, or maybe even a fire; either way the feeling can go away, but the memory remains. A scar forms. And I am covered in scars now, each word like a cut, but I know that the people who brought me down are the only reason I learned to stand up. I told people who I was.

There was never an ‘aha’ moment for me, I just thought about it, and I liked boys. That's just how it is, and almost five years later, I am proud I came out. I told friends, few and far, and my family, who were for the most part accepting. I can’t control minds and make people understand. Living in a somewhat conservative area like Blairstown, word travels fast and not everyone is supportive.

I had guy friends; they vanished. I had bullies; they vanished. And I’m glad I lost the bullies and the close-minded folk because they wouldn’t see me for who I am. Being gay is a big part of my life, but it is no defining feature or characteristic, it's my sexual orientation and that's all. Those guy friends I lost left because they couldn’t bear the thought of me near them and that's not okay. Everyone has a right to speak their mind and follow their beliefs, but there is a fear among heterosexual males of homosexual males. I do not know if it is because they cannot comprehend the idea or if they think I will make a move on them.

To the heterosexual males, I am not going to hit on you, I am not going to make moves on you because the truth to it all is I’m not attracted to you. Just because I like boys doesn’t mean I like you. I understand you’re heterosexual and I don’t like you, for that very reason. It's the same reason you aren’t attracted to every girl you see, because you have a type, mine just happens to be homosexuals.

To the close-minded, I know you are among the student body and I’ve met many close-minded individuals, and whatever I say will not change your thoughts. You’ve never been malicious or made comments to my face and if you say things behind my back, you’re behind my back for a reason. Freedom of speech is an amendment and I know that. I accept that, I just wish you’d accept me.

All I desire at the end of the day is acceptance from my peers at North Warren. And many individuals are kind and honest and I have made many friends that I love so dearly. Being gay at North Warren isn’t scary, and it isn’t something that truly bothers me. In all honesty, it's lonely. And I do not expect everyone to read this article and think Oh wow, Zach is so lonely, I want to be his friend, but instead think about the people around you. Everyone is fighting battles and we all have reasons for the way we act and think, and you should reach out, be open-minded, and do not be afraid of someone who isn’t you.    

Retro Girl Album Review: Soundgarden’s Superunknown

By: Arianna Grewal

When Soundgarden released Superunknown in March of 1994, Cornell’s new look emerged. His long hair cut off and bare chest now covered in shirts was symbolic to the band’s goal to “deliver maximal effect with minimal histrionics,” as said by Pitchfork. Superunknown was Soundgarden’s late rise to fame as they finally made their way to the top. Songs on the album such as Black Hole Sun and My Wave became crowd anthems as Soundgarden became the new face of grunge. Compared to their fellow grunge bands, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, who both desperately attempted to fade out from the spotlight, Soundgarden did not mind their official Seattle Scene status. However, although Superunknown was the perfect example of what a mainstream 90s grunge song sounded like, Soundgarden was able to achieve this sound without surrendering their original image and identity.

Superunknown was surely Soundgarden’s most successful album for a reason, winning two Grammys and certified platinum five times.  Soundgarden’s punk influences in previous albums like Badmotorfinger are replaced with a more psychedelic sound. Songs such as “Black Hole Sun” and “Head Down” are even Beatles influenced. According to band member, Thayll, “When you really look deep inside of Soundgarden, there's a little Ringo wanting to get out."  The band also utilizes odd time signatures in many of the songs which offers a unique sound. The unusual time signatures were often accidental since they were not even considered until the song was written.  The album features problems of substance abuse, depression, and suicide which make for rather grim lyrics.  Cornell, inspired by Sylvia Plath, explained the background for some of the dark songs saying that “Let Me Drown” is about “crawling back to the womb to die and "The Day I Tried to Live" is about "trying to step out of being patterned and closed off and reclusive.”

The album, a new and diversified sound, makes way for an even different sound in their 1996 album Down on The Upside. Soundgarden produced an album with such substance that even the heaviest songs sound vivid and bold. The album remains an emblem of grunge in the 90s. Despite his death earlier this year, Cornell continues to somehow remain through his music, or as he once said, “aliiive in the Superunknown!”

from The Diary of a 2017 Marching Band Member: NWR’s Big Win

By: Sam Liegner

I stood with my 13 other seniors at my side, waiting for our category’s score. When they announced Group 3 Open’s rankings, my best friend grabbed my hand. We stood there, awaiting the scores with anticipation. Third place was given to the band to our right. I heard a sigh of relief from my peers. Second place was up next. Our biggest competitors stood to our left. My best friend and I squeezed each other’s hands as hard as we could, eyes pinched closed. The announcer spoke out the high school’s name that placed second. It was not ours. My jaw dropped and I was at a loss for words.

“Did we just win?”

I looked over at my instructor and band director and they were glowing. Then I looked over to the band. There were so many mixed emotions. People were trying to hold in tears and others were letting their emotions take over and accepted the tears flowing down their faces. At that moment, I knew that all those long, dragging hours of practice were worth it. The blood, sweat, and tears all paid off in the end, all the nights that we stayed late to practice, the times Mr. Z roasted someone in front of the entire band. Everything paid off the minute we stepped on that field. Everything from that moment on was magical. Eyes with pride, NWRMB.

from Humans of North Warren: Relatable Harry Pawter Fans Amongst the Faculty?

By: Zachary James Brounstein

Being a student at North Warren Regional High School, I am victim to thinking a teacher is maliciously after me and happy to see me fail. Most students are under the impression that faculty is out to get them, desiring to see them not reach the dreams that maybe the teachers couldn’t reach themselves, but this isn’t the case. I, at least, hope it's not.

In many cases of this strange thinking, the students are either not trying or maybe just too stubborn to ask for help. From experience, I know the gut churning feeling of being wrong and knowing that help is needed. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but sometimes it is necessary. I always found reading and writing to be my most awful areas of school; Every English Teacher was out to get me, and I swore each assignment was made to damage my grade in the class.  Yet, at the end of the day, these teachers were challenging me.  And even now, I can confidently admit that they did teach me. They showed me more things than I ever needed to know and it was all because I accepted I needed help. I acknowledged my failure and was sick of that feeling a bad grade brought me, so I did what I had to and opened up to my seventh grade english teacher. She wasn’t the villain in my hero story and actually became one of my best friends!

My interview with Mr. Bradley, the new Mathematics Teacher (Yes, the one with the man bun.), reminded me of my seventh grade English Teacher. I sat down with Mr. Bradley on Wednesday, the twelfth of September. He’d only been teaching at the school for almost two weeks and I was already pestering the man with an interview. Although some people may disagree with posing questions about a teacher’s private life, I found the experience as a whole, eye opening. I felt that when speaking with Mr. Bradley, he wasn't afraid to share his personal information or even deny answering one of my questions.  This was a surprise to me because some of my talking points may have been pushing my boundaries, but after all, that is the art of journalism.

“Have you ever been through a traumatic experience?” I had asked him in the almost too quiet media center. “If so, how’d you grow from it?”

He answered honestly, talking of past experiences he had with loss while still offering up the learning curve and wisdom that comes with the incidents; “Being close to the people I love helped me through those sort of things.” After hearing it from him, the words resonated and stuck with me. It seems strange, but hearing the different stories that people have to tell can really show you who they are. It can make a seemingly quiet gentlemen seem like a ball of wisdom. It all happened with one question.

Regardless of the question just posed, our interview wasn’t all seriousness. When asked about any loved ones, Mr. Bradley was quick to tell me, “Yeah, I guess, I’m technically single. I live with my cat, Dillon-named after Bob Dillon- and my cat Bella, who I didn’t name, but is named after Bellatrix from the Harry Potter series.”  I was pleased to hear that he is a big fan of the infamous book series. But all aside, I had come to know a lot about Mr. Bradley in one short, simple interview. He, and many of the other teachers working at North Warren, aren’t monsters maliciously failing you. They’re real people with lives and stories to tell. This past year, Mr. Bradley had taken his favorite journey. Starting from San Diego, he backpacked (with a van) up the coast stopping in different places and sleeping on different beaches. He took in the amazing views as he traveled all the way up to Oregon. This experience for him was amazing, as it should be for anyone, and hearing him tell of the adventure is what makes me relate to him, as you should to him, or any other teacher in North Warren.

We are all people with different lives and stories and experiences to tell about. We each have our own wisdom and shouldn’t be afraid to ask for someone else's. So, finish that homework assignment you might procrastinating from, or maybe grade those papers sitting in the corner of your desk, but tomorrow come to school ready to be you. Don’t look at your teachers in fear of their curses, but instead be open and try to start a conversation. Because at the end of the day, they are here to help you learn and teach you to be the best you you can be.