Germany

What’s a country you’d like to visit? 

I would really love to visit Germany, because I want to experience my roots. I love experiencing new cultures and learning about new places. I’m German, so I think it would be really cool to experience that culture in every way. If my family hadn’t left Germany, my life could be completely different. It’d be interesting to see how different it could be.

I have a list of places I’d like to go. I’m a cheesy traveller, that likes to visit historical places, because I love the deep history that makes up our world. We are who we are because of our past, and I think it’s important to see those things and to experience them. That being said, my family came from Germany, which makes that place a part of who I am. I want to travel there and experience my own history.

Guest Star

If you could guest star on any TV show, what would it be and why?

Can it be a show that is no longer running? Because I would definitely pick Once Upon A Time. Not only is it my favorite television show, but the type of a role I’d have to play would be so much more unique than a role in a comedy or something. Who wouldn’t want to be a fairy tale character? The story lines are so unique and entertaining to watch. I can’t imagine how much fun it was to play those roles. I also think the cast would be an interesting group of people to work with. They’re so talented and they seem so kind. It would definitely be a lot of fun.

But if I had to pick a show that is currently running, I’d probably say Fuller House. I grew up loving Full House so much. I know every episode backward and forward. I grew up watching characters like DJ and Stephanie develop into the characters they are on Fuller House, so I think it’d be really cool to step into their universe and interact with those characters. It’d be so fun to be on the set of the house I always wished I could live in. It’d be amazing to meet the cast and see what really happens behind the scenes of the show. My eight-year-old self would have her dreams come true for sure.

Last Words

Use the last sentence from the nearest book as the inspiration for the first line of your poem.

Her same eyes

her same mouth

open in surprise to see

at last

her long-cherished wish —

him

 

His warm embrace

strong in uniform

and tears of gratitude to be

at last

where his heart had never left —

home

 

Where quiet nights

filled with noise

and broken hearts were mended

at last

where two plates were set —

reunited

 

To use flat pillows

and wrinkle forgotten sweaters

temporary things that would

not last

soon replaced with goodbye —

until September

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Place

Write about your favorite place.

There’s a reason they call it Pure Michigan. There is a vast sea of endless trees. The nights are quiet, where nothing can be heard but the sound of crickets or frogs. Farmland stretches for miles and miles, giving a chance for children to shout “There’s a horse! There’s a cow!” while driving down the highway. The waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula flow without ceasing. Deer roam freely in the woods, coming out to peak at you when the firelight is dim. The Great Lakes caress the shores on almost every side of the mitten-shaped state. 

Nature at its best.

Through the trees, the lakes, the busy cities, the endless highways, and the number of creatures that roam the woods, I have a spot.

My spot is on the edge of a dock, near the smallest of lakes, where the fish come to bite and the waters are as still as can be. It is where the sun begins to sink under the horizon leaving an orange picture painted on the surface of the water. It is where the fish swim beneath my bare feet, close enough to bite but ready to swim away if I move too quickly.

Jean legs are rolled up mid-calf. Shoes are lying somewhere on the other end of the dock with socks shoved inside them. The smell of a distant campfire lingers in the air. The promise of s’mores or popcorn waits for me, to help fix the hunger the day’s activities left. The mosquitos thirst for the moisturized air as well as for my blood. Bug repellent has become my scent to wear for the summer. 

Beside me sits a girl I’ve known my entire life. A girl that knows me better than almost anyone. Her feet dangle beside mine off the dock. The wind brushes her hair out of her face. She leans back on her hands to hold herself up. She stares off across the water and says, “I love it here.”

“Me too,” I reply. “For a moment, we can leave the world behind and focus on the present. Focus on what matters: family.”

The sun continues to set and stars appear. The stars normally hide behind bright city lights, where no one cares they are there. The Big Dipper makes itself known to me, dancing brightly in the endless combination of blue and black. 

We pull our feet from the cooling water, lying on the deck to search for the stars. “It’s so peaceful,” I tell her.

“I could stay here forever and just forget the world,” she replies.

We know it isn’t possible. On the other side of the lake, people, animals, trees, and every form of life are waiting for us to return to reality. As we lose ourselves in nature, our family is checking their watches, wondering when we would return to sit beside a blazing fire and tell stories of our past. 

When it’s late enough and we know our parents are worried, we rise to our feet and brush off our sandy jeans. We pick up our shoes and walk back to camp barefoot. The stones on the gravel path don’t bother us because we are used to spending our summers without shoes. 

When camp is close enough, the gentle glow of the fire illuminates the darkness that covers everything. The song of the crickets emerges from within that darkness. Stories, laughter, and, in time, the faint glow of embers trying to breathe under the smoldering logs bring the day to a close. 

The anticipation of morning sits with me as I climb into my sleeping bag. I anticipate walking through the woods, taking a paddle boat across the lake, riding a bike, and building enough sand castles on the beach to create a sand city. The greatest assurance I have is knowing that the boards of wood stuck together at the end of the lake, where the fish come to bite and the waters are as still as can be, would still be there. 

Quiet. Beautiful. Pure.

Worst Critic

What are ways that you can stop yourself from being your own worst critic?

You can’t. You are always going to be your own worst critic. That being said, you need to accept that and to learn how to write despite that. I came across someone in a poetry workshop today who hated his poem before he even started writing it. Because he went into it with that attitude, he decided the poem wasn’t going to be good enough. He assumed everyone in the workshop would only say negative things. I gave him the advice not to doom his poem before it was finished.

We’re all guilty of quitting a piece because we don’t think it’s good enough. We’re all guilty of saying, “No one wants to read this.” Several years ago, that was my life motto. I never wanted to finish anything because I would ask myself, “What’s the point?”

You don’t have to write to please people. You need to write because you want to. You need to feel that writing with everything you have. But most importantly, you need to keep the voice in your head away from your work. Let the words write themselves. Don’t listen to the voice in your head because it’s wrong. It’s going to bug you nonstop until you quit writing, and you can’t let it do that. Your writing is worth something when you place your heart in it, not your head.

You also need to believe in your work and believe in yourself. That’s the part I had the most difficult time with. I didn’t believe in my writing for a long time, and it’s why I didn’t think anyone else could believe in it either. It wasn’t until I started sharing my writing with others, because I believed in it, that others started believing in it too. Even now, I sometimes doubt the things I write, but I do it anyway. Every piece of writing needs work. Nothing is ever perfect. But with the dedication and the belief that we can accomplish something, we can.

There is no way to stop being your own worst critic. But there is a way to stop writing with your head and start writing with your heart. Don’t stop. Don’t think. Don’t worry. Just write until you’ve created something.

Games

Write a poem about a childhood memory

Fortress

 

You could not get in without a password.

Words muttered that parents never heard.

 

A guard was always at the door.

Unable to open for many to explore.

 

It took skill to reach the entrance,

Where you were welcomed or sentenced.

 

For only the strongest were allowed,

To sit above the rest and stare at the clouds.

 

The floor decorated in leaves and small twigs.

A dungeon below for the prisoners to dig.

 

Plastic tables and chairs were easy to place.

The finest mac and cheese served on a paper plate.

 

The soldier’s greatest weapons were water balloons.

Tree branches used to escape enemy harpoons.

 

Six feet from the ground, sat treacherous and high,

A safe place from everything, a fortress in the sky.

 

At the end of the day, when the enemy was gone,

It was time to leave the fortress and return to home.

 

A good night sleep needed after a long fight.

The fortress would be waiting for another day’s light.

Helping Hand

Write about a time you helped someone. How did it make you feel?

I once sat next to a girl on an airplane that was afraid of turbulence. Before the plane even took off, she had told me that she was nervous about flying. I was so used to flying that turbulence no longer bothered me. But I could remember a time when it did make me nervous, and it was always helpful to have a hand to hold. When we took off, she started gripping the arms of her seat and I offered her my hand for comfort. She willingly took it. Once we reached our altitude, she was okay. During the times that our flight got bumpy, she would automatically reach for my hand and grab it. I half-expected it, so I was always ready, holding it out to her.  By the time there was an announcement that we were beginning our descent, she reached for my hand and held it for the remainder of the flight. I didn’t mind because I know that the landing can sometimes be rough.

When the plane landed, the girl let go of my hand and said, “Thank you so much for helping me. I wish you were going to be on my next flight. We go good together.” We then parted ways and I never saw her again.

I think one of the most wonderful things about interacting with strangers is that we have these brief connections with people somewhere in the world that we don’t even know. Some of those connections we hold on to. I’ll never forget that moment, because I knew that I had helped that girl during a time when she was afraid. I knew that simply by having a hand to hold, even a hand of a stranger, she received comfort. I made that flight easier for her.

When we can turn to others in a. time of need, even when we don’t know them, it’s a moment of real human connection. In the same way people run to the aid of others when they witness something bad happening. We have a natural instinct to help one another when it matters, and that is a beautiful thing about humanity.

Sure, it was only a flight and it was a small action, but it mattered to her. It mattered to me.