Starting a Band was Nothing Like I Expected

Chad Gates-

Being a musician, I can guarantee that all other amateur musicians has, at one point in their lives, fantasized about themselves performing on stage and taking the place as a member of their favorite artist Whether it’s live, on a stereo or through a pair of headphones. I call it the musicians fantasy, and I know that I have had one of these before, and along with it I can still clearly remember the first time that three others and I, collaborated and made a band in the hopes of one day being the ones on stage.

The very start of summer ’11 was when the first “jam sesh” took place. I was in my basement, which was home to my dad’s large collection of various music equipment such as turntables, mic stands, stacks of seemingly endless wire and cords, and speakers so large they can make things fall from the shelves and walls in my house if you play them just loud enough.

The band consisted of four people, two of them that were friends of mine from Hempfield, Cody and Kris. Cody did vocals and Kris played guitar. My brother Gavin was the drummer and I was the bass player. Our style of music that we aimed for was deathcore, which is a fusion genre of metalcore and death metal. Cody was the motivator within the group, and being so he came up with the band name; Arcana Curse. At the time it sounded cool, but now I have a strong dislike for the name because it’s really generic and it sounds like some 13-year old emo-kid made it up.

For some time our weekly band practices, that took place on Wednesdays and Sundays, consisted of us playing together and making up the music as we went so that we could adapt to playing with each other. That seemed to work at first, until Cody began trying to push us forward to put out a song. The troubles began from then on  because he started to feel as though he was the only one dedicated to the band. Gavin, Kris and I often found ourselves being lectured by him and we often dreaded practice because of the constant nagging.

However, we continued to practice and Arcana Curse produced its first song, which was never granted a title.

The band stayed together into the start of our junior year, (8th grade for my brother) and Kris became to be very unreliable at this point, never showing up for practice or making some excuse that he couldn’t be there. Cody became increasingly more arrogant in his lack of satisfaction with the band’s progress and my brother and I just had to put up with it.

It was November and the future of Arcana Curse was bleak, we had failed to meet three band practices in a row and talk between each of us was bitter and frustrated. One day after school the vocalist sent us all a text message telling us to meet up at the local Turkey Hill, so Gavin and I made our way there. When we got there, Cody was there to tell us that things weren’t working out and that the band should take a hiatus, (which was pretty much a permanent one, Cody just didn’t want to admit it). We all agreed that it was probably good to do so and went home after that, and I was really disappointed that the band fell apart and we couldn’t work it out, but there wasn’t anything I could do.

After the break up, I learned a great deal about being a band with my experience in Arcana Curse. If you’re going to be in a band, it takes a steady flow of dedication from all band members, and that one member cannot try to “be the band.” Don’t bother with unreliable people either, because I noticed how much you cannot do when just one of the band members isn’t there. Especially a guitar player, which resulted in absolutely no progress.

Even though my musician’s fantasy was never fully satisfied, I still loved those moments when we jammed and the music came off the top of our heads that resulted in a punishing new riff, or a unique, brutal breakdown that we always forgot to record because we were all trapped in the euphoria of the fact that we were making something original. The group and I might never become famous for playing deathcore, whether Arcana Curse got back together or not, but I’m sure we all learned that forming a band in your teenage years is way more then we could could of ever imagined.


Can I have some Change?

By Errol Hammond –

We all change when we grow up.  Some change for the better, some for the worse. It really all depends on who you grow up with and how you’re raised. I  lived in Willow Street but went to a Catholic school which was a challenge, because I wasn’t then and I’m still not Catholic. I felt like going to a really strict Catholic school was a waste of my sixth grade year. Don’t get me wrong, great schooling, but the people were somewhat stuck up. Kids went hard wearing Wallabies and Clarks, overpriced leather shoes that people wear when they have nothing else to do with their money.  Being a senior now, it seems like it was swag or the swagger you have when you know you are rockin’ the best.  But then, I would just think to myself ‘why would your dad get you the same shoes as he wears, just in your size.’ The kids in my grade who I hung out with and went to Penn Manor wore simple stuff. Nike shoe hand-me-downs, Air Walks, Moccasin, Slip on Sneakers, Sketchers, and other PayLess and K-mart brands like Route 66.

Errol Hammond

But really what 10-year-old doesn’t want to go to school where your neighborhood friends go. I mean it would be hanging with them all day, then waiting for them to come ring the door to go play outside. Pequea  Elementary was where I belonged. My older siblings went there but I was the lucky one and went straight to (Catholic School).
I made sure my parents  knew how I felt and suddenly they agreed, I could change – back to my neighborhood public school.  I changed in other ways, too. I got fat. By the end of my sixth grade summer, I was a 190 pounds.  That’s kind of fat.  But in the end I went to Pequea ,so thats all that mattered at the time. Good change?

I was the big black kid that you just wanted to have as a good friend, not a enemy. But I’d say I was rather nice for the most part. Just bigger than most of my friends… Okay all of my friends… Never a physical bully. Unless the rare occasions when my friends would get enough courage to all attack me from different angles. Never actually went well.. For them.
It was great when three of your 120 pound friends have enough chutzpah to charge me at the same time. Especially when it’s your middle school friends Marc Summy, Cheyenne Weber and Matt Ulmer. Which it always starts off with everyone chilled out then turns into a war. Extra weight can come in hand other times, like for instance, just bouncing each other higher and higher on the 8-year-old worn and rusty trampoline until someone flies really high. But somehow we go from jumping, laughing and doing tricks, too being in a pitch black basement shooting each other with shotguns, pistols, snipers, and different (air soft guns). That’s when being big was good because the hard plastic bullets shooting at 10 ft per second would just bounce of my muscle. Well according to my brother, my muscle was “frozen fat.”
So when you say that you loved me more when I was a fat body. I don’t know what to really say to that… “Thanks?” or “Haha, I know right?” So it can sometimes be weird when I see family, friends and peers I haven’t seen since eighth or ninth grade. Yeah, I was fat even after sixth too, it wasn’t gonna lose weight in my sleep.

I’ve heard all the fat jokes… Yes, even the TV show comparisons like, Cory from “That so Raven,” Little Bear from Nickelodeon, sometimes Little Bill from the Cosby Books… when I had glasses.. even Arthur.
I changed up again by going to Lancaster Catholic for the great football program in ninth grade.  I played varsity in 9th grade because I was big and strong enough to help the team win games. We were Section Champions and my 285 pound frame got to start in four varsity games. Don’t get me wrong I loved the football, but I felt the schooling wasn’t right for me and missed my Comet family. Plus, most of the people were still stuck up.
Sophomore year I did a repeat and came back to Penn Manor for the rest of my high school career, which I’m finishing my senior year. I now weigh 210 pounds and feel great. The choices I made I learned from and changed me for the better. I can say that the people that I grew up with helped me change for the better. Now moving on to another chapter of my life, I hope to change up things (again) and get out of high school.

Stardom Only One Dunk Away

By Jordan Rineer-

A video camera, three teenagers, and some free time.

You’re thinking this will end with some angry parents or an arrest.

Nope. Just a basketball and some motivation to be a YouTube sensation.

Everyday after school, to achieve our goal, we headed to a friend’s house by ourselves.

No girls.

No alcohol.

No drugs.

How much trouble could we cause trying to perform the basketball trick shots and make it big in the world of YouTube.

Trials on end. Some shots took hours. Some first try.

Some didn’t even make it within ten feet of the basket.

Anything to make to it big on the internet.

We all had a class together. Instead of doing schoolwork we would think of more shots. If we had been graded on creativity we would have definitely gotten an A.

Photo credit to Photo Booth.

We had a paper of the shots each of us we were going to do. We studied it and refined it until the paper in the notebook grew thin.

Behind the back, from the trampoline, over the house.

Anything that ran through our troubled minds, we attempted at least once.

Every time we were together, trick shots were the only things we talked about.

My dad delivers Herrs chips to businesses. Every one used to make fun of me when my dad would pick me up in the giant Herr’s truck from places. I would be lying if I told you it didn’t bother me. But finally  having a Herr’s truck in my driveway was not only good  for the occasional snack. We could travel with the hoop anywhere.  We moved it all around.

We put it in the yard, this opened up the window for bigger and better shots.

Filming was the worst part. It was soooooo boring. We supposedly “took turns” but it seemed like I was the only one with the camera in my hands.

On the flip side, making a shot was the best feeling in the world. That’s why we did it. It was kind of like our drug. It got us high. We were addicted.  We worked at it almost every day for two months.

We honestly thought we would make it big. With a little more publicity we could have. We should of. We would have.

We got two different initial reactions to the video from some people.

“Dude that video was sick!”


“That has to be fake!”

Taking months out of my life to show some hard work or “luck.”

With only 217 views to show, almost all hope is lost.

It’s just disappointing to see the hard work basically to go to waste.







An Accident Waiting to Happen

Richard Schulz –

Teenagers are always at high risk to be involved in accidents, but who knew I’d crash into a statistic.

Just another summer day hanging out with friends turned into to the worst. A car spun out of control. Three lives changed in seconds.

I was hanging out with two friends that day. Nick Young and Jordan Rineer, but we all called Jordan, Gordo.

My friend Gordo sums the accident as “life threatening” and “scary as hell.”

I agree.

We decided to play some basketball since it was such a nice day out. I had a video from before we left my house. Gordo had stepped on my skateboard and sent a Skittle from the opposite side into the air. He caught it in his mouth.

Who knew such happy guys would have the carpet pulled out from underneath them? Not me. Not Nick. Not Gordo. No one knew. But if I could I would take it back instantly.

Driving on the back roads of Conestoga, an accident was waiting to happen.


Photo credit to Photo Booth.

Roads that turn sharper than ninety degree angles and have loose rocks that laid over them like a blanket.

As most teens do, I was speeding. Not to the point where my car was about to take off, but fast enough to lose control. I was making the turn and hit rocks that made my turns slide. My rear tires went over a grate leaving my front wheels on the actual road.

My dad always said,”When you lose control of your car, cut the wheel in the direction you’re sliding.” How I remembered that in the moment? I have no idea.

According to Gordo we were heading directly toward a tree but I was able to turn the wheel and only hit it with the front passenger side of my car. Guess all my luck didn’t run out.

The car and the tree made contact while the air bag made contact with my face, but I was in shock. We all were.We looked at each other wide-eyed and scared beyond belief.

I asked my friends if they were alright but Nick just pointed out that my face had been bleeding. Great, more things to add to my wonderful day. Exiting my car I felt fine, minus the thought of what my parents would do to me, but after a couple more steps I fell to the dirt. A wall of pain and light headedness hit me almost harder than the air bag. Almost. I looked at my car and at myself. It was like my car and I were having a competition to see which looked worse. We tied.

I had multiple lacerations and burns on my arms and face. To this day I don’t know why my wrist was bleeding or how it was injured. The seat belt had tore open my chest a little also. Who knew the “safety belt” would end up hurting me in the process.

My friends injuries, on the other hand, were less serious. Nick had stubbed his toe while Rineer sat on his lower region.

Though we joke about the accident and the things that had happened, I’m grateful. Not for my safety but for theirs. The remorse I have still haunts me and my friends are aware. To this day I apologize to the both of them for endangering their lives. I’m glad that after the incident I can call them friends. Still hanging out, having good times, sharing stories and continuing on with our lives. Except me.

Ok, I don’t let it keep me from living my life, but I always think to myself, “Their lives could be gone. Their families could be devastated. All because of me.”

That’s not the case though. They’re here and we are still friends, like it should be.

The Petting Zoo That I Call Home

By Austin Hess –

We have a rodent problem in our house, partly because we don’t try to catch them, we feed them.

It’s a zoo out there, or in there, if you live with my family. Our ridiculously dizzy dog Skip, our “pysch rat” Taya, Oliver the rescue chinchilla, Mia and Tia the hamsters the size of my thumbs, Muffie the escape rabbit, Jimmy the groundhog-sized guinea pig, (and our newest editions) Patrick the goldfish, and Kiki and Khloe our baby guinea pigs, make up the spoiled animal family that we’ve learned to love. Five of which are housed in my room and the others in my siblings rooms.

Every morning I’m greeted by the sounds of clicking water bottles, the scratching of our bunny trying to get out and play, and my mom waking everyone up for their morning treat. This chaotic cacophony has taught me more lessons than many people ever could. Responsibility, the meaning of a dollar, and what it’s like to have a lot of living things depend on you for attention, a clean home, and survival.

Austin Hess

So be honest, when you think of someone having ten animals living inside their house, 8 of them in cages, you assume that the house has to be messy, “they have too many pets for anyone too handle,” or, my personal favorite, that our house HAS to have some kind of funky smell to it.

I am proud to say that you couldn’t be more wrong. There’s a system to this madness, each cage is cleaned out once a week using a strong odor-eliminating cage cleaner and clean bedding. You know those huge bags of animal bedding that most families buy because it lasts them a year? We buy two extra large bags and they last us about 4-5 weeks, add that and the cost of food, treats, and toys and you have a typical Petsmart bill for us. You go to the pet store to buy one thing, and then remember my mother’s rule; you have to buy something for everyone to be fair.

So when did the madness begin? Back in 2001, we bought our dog shortly after 9/11 because my parents thought that life is too short to not let your kids have a dog. Taya was a social psychology rat and Oliver was a chinchilla we adopted from someone who kept him in their unfinished basement the first 10 months of his life. My mother gave both the guinea pig and two dwarf hamsters to my brothers while my dad was away for the weekend. Needless to say, he doesn’t go away too much anymore. The rabbit was sort of a late surprise Christmas present my parents brought home on New Year’s Eve and the two baby guinea pigs were given to me this year after my birthday. The goldfish was brought home against my parent’s will when my youngest brother Garrett brought him home from a birthday party.

Sometimes it’s stressful on all of us, having to find time to clean cages once a week and get each of them out for a good amount of time each night so they can play and tire themselves out. If one of us is slacking on keeping them clean, my dad will be the first to say something smells funny and we need to get the cages done. On top of the play schedule, each water bottle must be checked daily to make sure all three guinea pigs have vitamin C drops, the guineas, the chinchilla, and the rabbit all need hay every day, and food bowls need filled everyday. You can’t imagine how difficult it is to take a vacation because the first thing we need to plan is finding someone willing to care for 10 animals while we are away. There are nights when it’s just constant arguments between my siblings and I about them not doing enough or who needs to clean what cage, but in more ways than one these furry, attention seeking critters have brought us together.

When’s the last time you were sitting in your kitchen and a rabbit came flying down the hall hopping off the walls? Found a sleeping rat in a tissue box? Or had to cut open your box mattress to coax a curious chinchilla out of hiding? Some would say we’re a loving family, others simply think we’re crazy, but at the end of the day, no one could leave our jungle of a home without a smile.

Motivation from Within Keeps Me Pumping

By Becca Hess –

When your heart is broken you feel limited, sometimes helpless and isolated at times. Now you may think I’m referring to being totally love struck, head over heels in love with some boy and then being dumped, thrown away like a piece of useless trash. I’m not.

Literally, I have a broken, blood-pumping organ in me that affected me since day one.  I was born with complex congenital heart disease, transposition of the great vessel, pulmonary stenosis and a single left ventricle. If you’re not in the medical field that probably sounds like a foreign language and it took me about the same time to learn how to say all that than someone taking French would need to become fluent. In simpler terms I have about eight things wrong with my heart.

I won’t go into great detail but compared to most, who likely have four chambers in their heart, I only have three. My aorta and pulmonary artery are switched. I also have a decreased level of oxygen in my body. These are just a few of the problems but it’s really no big deal. I was just like any other kid out there. It’s hardly noticeable unless I talk about it and I don’t. Then there are some minute things people start to notice. Like I get out of breath way faster then everyone else, but yet 95 percent of the time I push myself. I don’t like to be limited.

Becca Hess

My parents raised me as if I was a normal healthy kid.  I never had “the moment” when they sat me down and explained that I was different, more fragile.  They let me play sports, dance, ride four wheelers and dirt bikes.

My parents said, “be careful,” and they let me fly and I was never careful.  I was the kid that took a detour through the rough field, who flung my chest protector to the side, who tried to jump any obstacle in front of me.  My dad actually built me a ramp one time.

I’m sure they worried but they didn’t hold me back. Even though in between my riding and jumping and playing soccer I had three open-heart surgeries, numerous heart catheterizations, breathing treatments, medication, broken arms and doctor visits for whatever else was going on.

My parents worried a lot of course, especially when I was younger playing soccer. It wasn’t too long after my last surgery and with the constant running up and down the field breathing treatments were like an extra meal being served every day. My parents had differing styles, my mom was more cautious and worrisome where my dad was all for pushing me. I guess they balanced each other well. However the summer when I was 6, my dad decided I was old enough to mow the lawn on a big riding mower. I lived in Solanco at the time and we had a big hill. A 6 year old on a riding mower, plus a big hill…yeah that didn’t fly with my mom. For the most part I was allowed to do whatever I wanted to, and I did.

They used to joke about wrapping me in bubble wrap to protect me from anything I could possibly get hurt in, because I have a tendency to push myself in an attempt to keep up or even put the competition to shame. Pain is unavoidable, it comes and goes, but I feel it’s the price you pay when you’re an athlete, a normal healthy kid just living life to the fullest. And if a little pain, whether physical or mental, is the cost I have to pay then by all means I will.

They always supported me, my parents, in whatever I wanted to be a part of whether it was a sport, or a club, it didn’t matter they tried their best to be there. Playing a sport wasn’t as easy as it was for the rest of the kids my age.  It was and still is a whole different ball game for me. I have to pass a stress test in order to play. And no, I’m not talking about the kind of stress you feel during your senior year of high school, working, choosing a college, filling out the paperwork and worrying about money. The doctors put stress on my heart to see how much it can take and if my heart could withstand the physical strains of a competitive sport. They hook me up to a machine with wires and stickies all over my chest, attach this contraption to my head that looks like I’m about to have brain surgery, pinch my nose shut and shove a tube in my mouth which supplies the small amount of oxygen my body will receive. That’s not all, not even close; I then have to run on a treadmill for as long as possible while they continue to make it harder. Make it faster. Make it steeper. And as I’ve mentioned before, I push myself. About 15-18 minutes is my average time. It’s hell. Every second of it, but when you love the game, you do what you gotta do.

I love those moments in softball when the zany ball is lost in confusion for just a second and then I see it coming right at me. Plunk, in the glove.  I love those soccer break-aways on the fresh mowed sod when I get the ball, it’s just me and the ball for a few glorious seconds of freedom and promise. I love the one-on-one style of basketball and long 3-pointers which swish as they hit the net.  But most of all I love my team.  I love how we pick each other up and cheer for each other so loud the other team finds us annoying. I love our huddles, our talks and how we proudly say Comets at the end of a 1-2-3 before and after each and every game.

I’m outgoing and adventurous and no one will tell me what I can and cannot do and when they try, I get frustrated. I don’t feel handicapped so why should I or anyone else treat me like I am? The reason I am who I am today is because of my parents. They enabled not hindered me. They supported me in sports despite the medical obstacles we had to face. They allowed me to make my own decisions and taught me to deal with and respect the consequences that sometimes followed.

As tough as it can be at times to deal with this annoyance, I believe it has truly shaped me into the person I am today. Having to deal with this since birth  has greatly impacted my life, the  choices I have made and my future. It has made me stronger, more independent and more focused. My physical weakness has, and always will be, my greatest motivation.

District Rankings can Change a Season

Brady Charles playing lacrosse Photo Courtesty of

By Brady Charles –

The past three years I’ve been a part of the varsity lacrosse team.

In each of these past three years, the district power rankings have screwed us over.

And I’m not getting used to it.

Every year, teams with easier schedules and worse records than us, make the district playoffs over us, or they get a higher rank and a easy road to the state playoffs.

We can’t win. I mean we win games, just can’t win with the district power rankings.

My freshman year, besides having the downright best goalie in the state or possibly in the nation, our team struggled to score goals. We had a mediocre season and finished 9-7. Since we were a part of Section One, we were put in tough position with knowledge that the powerhouses in central Pa lacrosse were in our league (Hempfield, Manheim Township). Our schedule was ranked the toughest schedule in central Pennsylvania.

The 2011 District Three Lacrosse bracket showing the tough road for the comets.

Of course, we had to play both of those teams twice, so scratch down four tallies in the loss column.  Other than losing to those two teams, we held our own against the other district three teams. We were held out of districts this season, which I partially understand due to our mediocre record, but the upsetting thing was the teams we crushed from Berks and York, made the playoffs over us.

It’s all a bunch of bologney.

With no surprise, the district championship ended up being Manheim Township vs Hempfield. Hempfield won this one.

That next summer, it was time for a change. The Lancaster Lebanon league changed their whole scheduling procedure. The league combined all of the sections, therefore we played every team only once, actually giving us a desperate hope for districts.

Maybe things were about to change for us, with the leadership of our eight seniors, and the new schedule changes we felt for the first time we had a chance against the untouched Manheim Township and Hempfield squads.

Our regular season ended and we were 13-1.

Unless you want to count the Hempfield and Township games…

That year, we made the league playoffs for the first time in school history. It was a very successful season for us.

But, we lucked out again in the league playoff scheduling.

You can most likely take a wild guess who we played.

It was our great friends from Neffsville, Manheim Township. It was a special year for that Manheim Township team, they graduated 14 seniors after that season, and 4 of those players were Division one commits, 8 of the other 10 ended up still playing college lacrosse at either the D2 or D3 level.

Although we lost in the league semis, we finally made the district playoffs as a number seven seed. We had home-field advantage and ran through our first round game.

But hey, guess who we played next?

Manheim Township… We lost.


The only thing that’s upsetting about this turnout is, while we were turning in our gear, and saying our good-byes, a team we beat by seven goals, got a higher rank then us in districts, and had an easy road to the district semis and made the state playoffs.

Once again, the district seeding process screwed us.

This season, I was determined to not let the district power ratings ruin our season.

It’s about that time of year again.

It’s the time where my first block computer time, winds up turning into intense browsing of the PIAA District 3 website, calculating what happens if one team wins or one team loses. Or who we will face in the first couple rounds of districts. As of now, we are ranked ninth in the most recent district polls, qualified for the league playoffs for the second consecutive year, and finished our regular season on a nine game win streak and a overall record of 13-4.

Although I cannot predict the future, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get screwed in these upcoming rankings.

I just hope these dreaded district rankings don’t ruin my whole lacrosse career.

With Age Comes Great Responsibility

By Aaron Brown –

Being the oldest of four children has its rewards and penalties.

Your name is the first one out of your dad’s mouth, when the trash needs to be taken out.

Your first job is a chauffeur, driving your brothers and sister to and from practice, and driving to get groceries.

When your younger brother is born, you are the first one to ask, “Mommy, Where do babies come from?” And you get the answer of “Wait until you are older.”

You are the first one to drop your brother. (This did not actually happen.)

My siblings enjoying a fun game of mini golf at the beach. Photo thanks to Aaron Brown.

You are the first one to run to the toilet and say, “Daddy, I didn’t make it.”

As the middle child, you know what to expect on the first day of school. As the oldest, you go to school on the first day not knowing what to expect.

Being the oldest does have its benefits.

Your younger brother gets yelled at for getting bad grades in classes that you got an ‘A’ in last year.

Your parents sometimes show favoritism towards you because you are the oldest, just ask my brothers.

Also, you are the one that gets to teach your brothers and sisters how to ride a bike. “Sit down on the seat, use one foot to push off the ground, and…” CRASH. Then your parents come out and scream at you and put the training wheels on.

You are the one that can go over to your friend’s house every weekend because you have your LICENSE.

You are the one that your siblings look up to, until they are taller than you.

But, the best thing about being the oldest is no matter if your brother is taller than you, you call still beat him at everything. He might think differently, but he is wrong.

Being the oldest of four does have its rewards and penalties, but I am glad I am the oldest because I like the responsibility and maturity that comes with being the oldest. I would not like being the middle or youngest child in a family because then I would not have all these benefits and penalties.




Moving on but Thinking back

By Alex Lombardo

I used to be a child. Now I’m just immature. And society is to blame.

Does turning 18 really make you an adult? I can’t even grow a mustache yet I’m expected to know how to file my tax returns and balance my checkbook but I don’t know the first thing about it.  I’ve never taken care of a child but I have to take care of myself in college and I’m not sure it’s going to be that easy.  Maybe my childhood went by too quickly or maybe I just wish it wasn’t over. Whatever the reason, I don’t want to grow up – plain and simple.

I think back to the days when I couldn’t wait to have more than one teacher in a day and I now wonder if the pressure of high school is worth the responsibility.  It’s easy for someone to say they want to live on their own and be independent and free but when it comes down to it, when you finally realize the free ride is over, it gets way too serious.

Alex Lombardo

I like having mommy and daddy buy my clothing. I like spending all my money on barbeque sunflower seeds and cherry Mountain Dew Slushies rather than the bills that pay to heat a house or provide it with running water.

Now all I hear is, “apply to college. Stop spending your money, start saving your paychecks, apply for student loans.”   These are all sentences I hate hearing because with each one comes a new source of stress in my life. I mean don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to get out and start my own life where I’m free and independent but under a certain light it doesn’t seem to be everything I thought it would.  Why is adulthood so full of responsibilities and so lacking in fun?

Whoever said the days of running barefoot through the yard catching fireflies under the florescent summer moon has to end when you graduate high school? Those memories of complete relaxation and comfort are the definition of living in the moment. And don’t adults tell each other all the time to do just that. I loved when I was a child and I didn’t have a worry in my concentrated head. I just went where I wanted and did what I felt like.

As for now I can’t say for sure where I will end up or what the future has planned, but I can say for sure that wherever I do go and how old I become I will never completely let go of the child that still lives inside of me.





Neighbor’s Dog Makes Mine Bite the Dust

By Ryan Flexman-

The terrible day when my puff ball of a dog was used as a chew toy by a canine bully is the day I realized I wasn’t a little kid anymore.

Max was no longer than a foot and covered with vanilla-colored cottony fur. He was quite the cutie.

Ok, maybe not everyone liked him. Maybe even no one did. But leaving us for good right in front of our eyes wasn’t what we wanted for Max.

I’ll never forget it, July 17, 2011, the day we were SUPPOSED to watch the Women’s World Cup final in my house.

But the neighbors’ pit bull had much different plans for us, specifically Max.

Waking up to the gruesome cries from my mom and sister was terrifying. They were yelling for me to help my Dad catch the dog who happened to have our little Max lodged in his throat.

I quickly leaped out of bed and raced to the neighbor’s yard in nothing but my underwear. Something I would have never done before.

But that was the least of my concerns.

I found myself chasing a crazed dog that was hurting my Max. I’ve never run that fast in my entire life, but I’ve also never chased a pit bull that was trying to have my dog for his breakfast.

Finally, after the two minutes or two hours, I couldn’t tell which, was over, he let go of Max.

But Max just laid there.

Puff ball Max before he was taken

There was blood in his fur and he was making some heavy attempts at breathing. But that was all he could do to stay with us.

Before I knew it, my brother and dad were in the car racing to the vet to see if there was any hope for the mangled puffball.

I ended up waiting for any news sitting on my sister’s bed, with the two most important girls in my life crying on my shoulder. It was my 9-year-old sister Emily’s room, decorated with princesses, slathered in flowers and shades of pink. What seemed like hundreds of stuffed animals were staring at me from her bed, expecting me to man up and take care of mom and Emily.

But I had never done that before. The most I had ever done to take care of my mom was to make her breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. I think I made lunch for Emily once.

This felt completely different, foreign to my young self. I felt like I was dreaming.

I had to be the man of the house and keep my sister and mom from completely breaking down. It’s harder than you think.
I kept telling them that everything was going to be OK when really I had no idea if it was or not.

The sound of the house phone ringing hit me like a freight train. All I wanted to hear was my dad’s voice saying that Max was going to be OK.

But I didn’t happen.

My brother was holding him in his hands, sitting in the front seat while my dad was driving to the vet.

That’s where he died and Nathan knew it right away.

There’s no other feeling that compares to the strength I needed when I told my mom and sister that Max didn’t make it. Tears and sobs filled my sisters’ princessy room, leaving me to be the one to comfort them.

I didn’t miss much from the Womens’ World Cup that day, considering the U.S. lost.

But that was easily not the most eye-opening event of the day.

Not even close, after the trauma of innocent, little Max going to the great beyond, and me realizing that from now on, I was no longer a kid.