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Follow my bffl @blackbeltmountaineer!

I am so happy to announce that my friend just got a new blog! To protect her privacy, I won’t use her actual name, but her blog is https://blackbeltmountaineer.wordpress.com/. If you like food, cooking, mountain climbing, taekwondo, or just awesome stuff in general, you should totally check her out and follow/subscribe to her! We’ve been friends since we were really little, and I’ve always thought that she was an amazing writer, so I’m so happy she’s finally sharing her gift with the world!


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Family History–No Longer A Mystery!

Recently, I have been fascinated by the subject of genealogy. Genealogy is the study of one’s family lineage. As I have been learning more about World War II and the Holocaust in both Social Studies class and Hebrew school, I have decided to embark on the journey of dusting off the tangled roots of my family tree. What I have found so far is nothing short of remarkable and truly, truly inspiring.

 

My great-grandfather was named Arthur. His given name was Aaron (I’m not giving out any last names because a perverted stalker could be reading this and I’m not in the mood to get kidnapped right now), and he was born in Poland. He was one of 9 or 10 children, and he dropped out of school after finishing 8th grade to earn money for his family. His family was living in poverty and starvation, and he never knew his father.

When Aaron was 16, he and his family moved to America because he and his brothers were going to be subject to a 10-15 year draft in the Polish army, and the Polish army would have jumped at the chance to torture young Jewish boys. He arrived at Ellis Island on February 13, 1922, and became a citizen in approximately 1927. His family settled in the Bronx, and, miraculously, were able to get a house. He and his brothers started working almost immediately after getting off the boat. He changed his name to Arthur to sound more “American.” He owned a hardware store, and he was a freemason.

 

On the flip side, my great-grandma Irene came from a very well-off family in Russia. She was one of 9 children, and her parents owned a dry-goods store. Her clothes were made by seamstresses, and her family had a maid and a nanny to look after the children while her parents were at work. When Irene was very young, her two oldest brothers were going to get drafted into the Russian army, so her father and two oldest brothers left Russia for America. When the rest of Irene’s family got to America many years later, Irene didn’t even recognize her father because they hadn’t seen each other in so many years!

 

My great-grandparents met at a dance social. My great-grandfather was an excellent ballroom dancer, and legend has it that as soon as Grandpa Arthur danced with Grandma Irene for the first time, he vowed to marry her. My dad says that they met at the social, and Grandpa Arthur was so madly in love that he followed Grandma Irene home. My grandma says that there are so many different stories about how her parents met that she doesn’t know which one to believe.

 

The story of how my family came to America is so humbling to me because I have my own everyday struggles, and so does everyone else. My great-grandparents left Europe without looking back, and without knowing what would happen. That took an immense amount of courage, and I know that if my ancestors could leave behind everything they knew to come to a place that they knew nothing about, then I can do anything I set my mind to.

 

If you are looking for inspiration and grounding in your life, then I highly recommend getting out your old gardening tools and unearthing the roots of your family tree.

Special thanks to Grandma Ansi, Dad, and Ancestry.com!


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Felix, the Awkward Interview Boy

Felix is a 14-year-old boy. He loves musicals, especially Les Mis and Assassins, bands such as Mayday Parade, Panic! At The Disco, and Fall Out Boy. He is an avid reader, and he read the book Les Miserables by Victor Hugo in 8 days (“It was the Julie Rose translation,” adds Felix). His favorite author is Elliott DeLine, and Felix recently got to meet DeLine and get his book signed by DeLine at a poetry slam/book reading. He recently “stage crewed” for his school play, Honk!, and had fun doing it.

 

I met Felix a couple of years ago on the bus to sleepaway camp. I was immediately intrigued by him because he was wearing a smiley-face tie and reading a book with a shiny cover (the book was Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan). I didn’t know anyone else on the bus, so I asked him if I could take the empty seat next to him.

“Sure,” the boy said.

“I’m Maisie. What’s your name?” I asked.

“I’m Margalit. My life goals are to grow a mustache and to wear an orange tuxedo at my wedding.”

 

Felix wasn’t actually born male. At birth, he was assigned female. This means that he is transgender. I sat down with him recently to ask him questions, partly because we are friends and he was at my house for dinner.

 

Have you ever felt like you were a girl?

What is a girl supposed to feel like? I mean, I used to like fairies and princesses and the color pink, but that was because pink was totally a punk rock color at the time, especially hot pink. That’s resorting to stereotypes, though, and I don’t want to do that.

 

Okay, let me rephrase the question. Have you ever physically felt like a girl/expected to go through puberty and become a woman?

Uh, no. These are awkward questions. No offense.

 

None taken. Do your friends and classmates see you as a boy or a girl?

My friends see me as a boy. I don’t know what my classmates see me as, although the fact that you assume there’s only two ways of seeing me is making unjust assumptions.

 

Moving on from the awkward questions, what do you want to do when you grow up?

I intend to have a mohawk, and date many people, and be an activist for various causes, including feminism, LGBT/queer rights, and anti-racism, although I’m white, so I’ll have to make sure to let the non-white people take the lead. At some point, I intend to overthrow the government and write a book. Also, I’m gonna be an artist. And, at one point in my life, although maybe not when I’m “grown up,” I am going to be The Balladeer in a performance of Assassins.

 

What kind of artist do you want to be?

A radical one. Maybe a photographer, maybe a painter, maybe as “The Guy Who Writes Slogans on T-Shirts.” Just, I wanna do something good for the world, and I want to do something I love, and I want to make money for it, possibly, because it would be good for my life. Money would also be good if I ever go to college, because debt. Though in Canada, I won’t have that problem.

 

So you’re moving to Canada?

I’m getting dual citizenship. My dad was born there. And they have free healthcare. So SURGERY!

 

Speaking of your dad, how are your parents taking the whole transgender thing?

Um, they, uh, they take it. At the beginning, they really wanted me to be a girl and not to tell people because, “You know, you might change your mind. You don’t want to make life more difficult for yourself.” It was especially hard for my dad, but now, he is strangely better with the pronouns and stuff than my mom. So, people change their minds! Just not me on this one.

 

Do you think you will ever change your mind?

Well, my life goals might get more practical, but on the gender thing, not particularly. I mean, I might grow up to be a drag queen, because, quite frankly, some of the stuff about femininity is awesome, like eyeliner. Heck, even as a guy, I’m gonna be wearing eyeliner, even though I never did as a girl. But I never was really “a girl.” I was just the default option. I mean, I was a kid, and I liked the stuff I liked, and people assumed I was a girl, so I just went along with it. I knew nothing else.

 

When did you come to the realization that you are a boy?

The summer before 7th grade, which was also the summer I came out of my depression. Sixth grade was horrible because, just, I had friendship problems, and guilt problems, and PUBERTY. It just, I had horrible coping skills. And then, I realized one of the reasons why I was so depressed was because I hated my body. Which was weird because, I was never the type to be insecure. And then, when people started seeing me as a boy, I was actually happy.

 

Were you comfortable with who you were after you started being seen as a boy?

Well, it wasn’t “right away”, quite frankly, and since I was at camp, it was only strangers trying to kick me off of the girls’ side, so it wasn’t really a comfortable situation. And then, I wasn’t really seen as a boy when I got back home. And that was just horrible. But when I did start being seen as a boy at home, and I did my research on being transgender and started coming out, and reading Elliott DeLine books, I was comfortable with myself. Oh yeah, and I was very awkward during the entire thing.

 

Why are you friends with me?

Because you like cupcakes, and I like cupcakes, and you let me read your Harry Potter books and borrow your Harry Potter costumes. And you’re nice, I guess. I didn’t mean that to seem offensive. I mean, you are nice, and that’s one of the best things for someone to be. Also, you let me watch your movies, and I never get to watch movies anywhere else.

 

Do you do any sports?

I go to the gym, does that count? I mean, I take rock-climbing lessons, but I usually have to skip them to go to rehearsal. I’m an artsy kid. I’m trying to figure out the art of the push-up.

 

Thanks for letting me interview you for my blog! I’m honored to be your friend.

Why thanks, it is quite an honor being my friend. I am very high-maintenance.


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A fun little poem I wrote for school

Hi everyone! I’m soooooooo sorry I haven’t posted in forever! I’ve just been SUPER busy lately with school ): but I wanted to share this poem I wrote with you guys! It’s written in a structure called villanelle. The structure of a villanelle is way too complicated for me to explain in a concise way, but if you want to learn what a villanelle is (and maybe try to write your own!), visit http://www.writing-world.com/poetry/villanelle.shtml.

And now, without further ado, my original poem, “Villanelle for a Lost Library Book.”

Gosh darn it, I lost my library book!

My parents will have to pay lots of cash now

I will now get locked in a small, cramped nook.

 

My mom will claw my eyes out with a hook

When I saw the charges, I just said wow

Gosh darn it, I lost my library book!

 

This is worse than when I lost my chess rook!

Dad, forgive me, I beg and plead with thou

I will now get locked in a small cramped nook.

 

My mom tells me to take a closer look

How that will help me, I do not know how

Gosh darn it, I lost my library book!

 

The book was written special for the cook

Of the restaurant called the Big Bow Wow

I will now get locked in a small, cramped nook.

 

Just then, the ground unexpectedly shook

I collapsed on my face, and I screamed, “OW!”

Gosh darn it, I lost my library book!

I will now get locked in a small, cramped nook.