The Fall

Although this one is a little different, it’s one of several stories in my memoir in the making. If you’d like to read the full collection, click here.


The first time I went ice skating I had only one thought in my mind: don’t fall.

I repeated this thought in my head like a mantra, thinking that doing so would somehow prevent the inevitable. I was bound to fall–it had been my signature move for as long as I  can remember. Little me would be doing something I had no business doing, then there’d be a thud followed immediately by an “I’m okay!”

I tried so desperately to avoid falling, not only to avoid pain but also because I’d created graphic scenarios in my head of what would happen if I did fall. I’d already injured my left wrist twice, once while skating, and my mind concocted a scenario where I did so again, this time because someone ran into and sent me hurtling toward the ground, causing my bones to fracture into a million pieces.

I thought of scenarios like these (including a pretty gruesome one involving someone’s skate blades and my face) as I approached the skate rental counter. My nervousness and fear combined to create a roiling mass of liquids in my stomach. Uh ohI’m going to throw up. I quickly muttered my shoe size to the man behind the counter then ran to a bench as soon as he handed me my skates so that I could sit and calm myself down. I did, but it only lasted a moment. As soon as the skates were on, the fear set in again. “Who let me do this,” I asked my four companions in a panic. “Who thought this was a good idea?” If I was already losing balance on carpeted ground, I would definitely fall and break something within three seconds of being on the ice. But Ally, the only skilled skater in the group, chuckled at my concern and said, “you’ll be fine, trust me. It’ll be fun.”

It was not fun.

At least not the first fifteen minutes anyway. I clung to the wall for dear life and slowly dragged myself along the rink, stopping at certain intervals to allow my friend Ashley to catch up. I watched with awe as people around me skated with ease; even children who looked no more than six danced around the rink with skill and grace. Ally was one of those graceful skaters, circling the rink and coming back to us before we even made it three feet ahead. She offered to help me but I refused. I could only imagine the chaos that would ensue once I stepped away from the wall. Instead, I stayed with my friend Cris, who was more my speed.

After the first hour, I finally felt confident enough to let go of the wall, if only for a few seconds at a time. Around me teens and adults were doing twists and tricks, shredding ice as they glided. Most of the children skated expertly as well, but there were still some who fell to the ground in dramatic fashion. There was something intriguing to me about the kids who had fallen. There were no tears, no cries of pain: they simply got back up and went again. I thought to myself that I wished it were so simple–to be able to just fall and get up again with no complaints, to go out onto the ice without regard for safety and just try and try until you succeed. But I am not a young child. I don’t just run into a situation without assessing the possible consequences. I can’t just throw myself into the middle of the ice without care. I’m older. I do not see the ice as a playground; I see it as an arena of possible catastrophes. When I look at it, I am reminded of the “skate at your own risk” signs I saw upon arrival. I’ve assessed the risks–I know the fall will cause pain, and since I’ve felt pain before, I avoid it at every cost.

I did not fall that first time ice skating, but looking back on it, I wish I had. Because the hardest part is not the fall, it’s getting back up when you’re on the ground. And once you’ve learned to get back up, the rest is easy.

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The Revelation

This is one of several stories in my memoir in the making. For the full collection click here.

 

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Me: at the top looking disapprovingly at Cassy’s ridiculousness. Cassy: at the bottom, being ridiculous.

 

Under the fluorescent lights of Publix, everything’s aglow, especially the lovely pregnant woman ringing up our groceries. Her belly is out two feet in front of her and she wears a ring on her left hand with the tiniest diamond you’ve ever seen. Her green vest has a name tag that reads “Marcy” and her smile is as radiant as her flaming red her as she greets us: “Did you find everything okay today?”

“Yes, thank you,” we say. We stocked up on the essentials–Cape Cod chips, Nutella, sushi, and two slices of cake.“Mmmmm chocolate, my favorite,” says Marcy as she eyes the cake. “I’ve been craving it all throughout my second trimester, with a few modifications of course– applewood smoked bacon and jelly beans–I can’t really explain it,” she laughs.

We laugh too. There’s something so refreshing about her kindness and energy. I ask her the name and gender; she’s expecting a girl, Annalise. Cassy (the eldest Joseph sister) and I both agree it’s a lovely name. She hands us our receipt and wishes us well, we do the same.

We step out of the frigid air and artificial light of the store into the parking lot where afternoon is turning to evening, painting the sky sapphire and dotting it with shining stars, as we walk the tree and lamppost lined sidewalks on the familiar path back home.

I scan the sidewalk intently, looking for leaves that would be the most satisfying to step on, pebbles to kick all the way back home, and lizards to avoid accidentally squashing. Cassy is walking alongside me, listening to music so loud that I can hear it from the earbud dangling at her chest. She’s playing “Walk Out” by Preedy; she’s always playing that song. Her current obsession with Soca music annoys me to no end. It’s not the songs– they’re pleasing to the ear and the hips– it’s that the stream of Soca music is nonstop. It flows through the house constantly, and even though I only hear it in the brief intervals when I’m not wearing noise-canceling headphones trying to drown out her music with my own, it’s still too much.

Despite the music blasting in her ear, she is passionately telling me of her plights as a college student and how Mom is trying to ruin her life. I’m almost a little surprised at this: Mom is out of the house and so are we, so we’re under no obligation to play nice.  But we do.  I listen and nod my head, still looking down at the path in front of me and the little pebble I’m kicking with each step, trying to think of the right words to say. I can’t relate to her problems– I’m what is known as the “perfect,” “favorite,” or “golden” child, so I’ve never had such issues. Nevertheless, in terms of sisterly wisdom, I am a master who can resolve any issue with a few smart words, so I dole out a simple truth that completely blows Cassy’s mind:

“You’re just like Dad and I’m just like Mom,” I say. “That’s why you two don’t get along.” Cassy considers this fact and I can see in her facial expression the moment this revelation dawns on her.

“You’re right,” she says, almost surprised. Her unwarranted surprise is the only unexpected thing in this situation. Of course I’m right; I’m always right. But I elect not to remind her of this fact for fear it will be too much for her to handle. Instead, I tackle one astonishing truth at a time and elaborate on the I just told her.

“You have Dad’s people skills and some of Mom’s smarts,” I say, half expecting her to hit me for that “some of” remark. She doesn’t, so I continue. “I have Dad’s ability to sleep everywhere and Mom’s . . . well, everything.”

She nods in agreement, probably coming to the conclusion that I’m always right on her own, saving me the trouble of having to break it to her.

“Unfortunately,” I add, “we both have Dad’s looks.”

“Unfortunately for you maybe. I’m cute,” she quips back.

I trip her slightly for that and she shoves me back. Our laughs are drowned out by the sound of cars zipping by, but we both know without looking that a smile has spread across the other’s face.

Sabine Joseph and The Temple of Doom

Bored.

That was my primary state for most of Spring Break. I worked hard and played harder, taking advantage of the Hulu subscription I’ll have for a limited time (I finally caught up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and it’s bittersweet.) On Wednesday, my friend Giuly came to save me from my cocoon of misery. I went over on the pretense of doing homework, but as always we quickly abandoned that in favor of gossiping, snacking, and watching YouTube videos. I played with her (but really my) dog Bubbles whom I’m missed dearly. By the time I went back home, I was pretty much out of my rut and feeling a whole lot better.

Two days later, I left my cave and went out into the world once more. I had a free student admission ticket to the Youth Fair (thank you MDCPS!) so my godsister took me to complete our month-long quest for fried Oreos.

To give you some context: I’ve been staying with my godsister and her mother since early March while my mom is away on a business trip. From the moment I stepped in the house, my godsister constantly expressed her craving for fried Oreos. We went to Dolphin Mall just to stop by the Cobb Theater there that she thought sold them. They did not. I tried telling her we could make them. She refused. I tried getting my friends who retired from selling them to make a batch for her for her birthday. They continuously forgot despite my reminders.

Finally, we went to the Fair, and that’s where she found them. I felt like Indiana Jones (though I’ve never seen the movie) traveling to the temple to get the golden idol. We walked with purpose past all of the stands selling fried food that we didn’t come for until we saw a beautiful hut gleaming in the sun with a crown of fried Oreos on the top. We finally did it. It’s true what they say: victory is sweet (and fried and covered in powdered sugar.)

 

The Sisters

This is one of several stories in my memoir in the making. For the full collection click here.

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Top: the youngest sister, Sabine. Bottom: the eldest sister, Cassandre.

 

Between every set of sisters is a dynamic as unique to them as their DNA, and each has a moment in their lives that can perfectly sum it up. The Joseph sisters have a habit of getting on each other’s nerves and laughing at the other’s pain, so naturally, this is how their defining sister story goes:

Two sisters–one young enough to still wet the bed yet old enough to form full sentences, the other a temperamental dancer very proud of and vocal about her various abilities–sit together on the eldest’s bed on a fine Sunday afternoon. This is a rarity in the Joseph sisters’ room: “You stay on your side and I stay on mine,” was the general rule, but today is a different day. Today they sit in peace for the first time in a long time, finally following their mother’s instruction to “play nice.”

They do for a while. Everything is gumdrops and lollipops until an argument starts out of the blue. There is no logic behind the spat–there rarely is when children are involved–but these two intensely emotional and stubborn sisters take it to the next level.

“Stop it or I’m gonna pee on your bed,” says the youngest.

“You wouldn’t,” her sister replies.

She’s right. Ordinarily, her sister wouldn’t dare making such a move; it could get them both in trouble and ruin a mostly perfect Sunday, not to mention doing so would be the classic rookie mistake of pulling out the big guns on the first play. But she wasn’t backing down.

“Oh yes I would. 1 . . . 2 . . .3 . . .”

And the stream begins flowing as she stretches out the final number for dramatic effect. It slowly creeps toward the eldest sister, gradually shrinking her dry mattress island. The eldest gives a horror-movie-worthy shriek of the simultaneously most comforting and terrifying word a child (especially a mischievous one) can hear: “Mom!”

So Mom came running. She first begins fretting over whether or not her babies are okay, then she takes in the scene. Her face shifts to slight annoyance upon realizing that her quiet time (the first she’s gotten in a long time) has been interrupted by what is not a life or death emergency.

“Bibine peed on my bed” the eldest complains.

The accused looks as innocent as can be despite the pool of evidence she’s sitting in, so her dutiful mother gathers her in her arms, ready to carry her to the bathroom for cleaning.

“Clean it up,” her mother says; you can almost hear the cartoon sound effect of the eldest’s jaw-dropping. She looks at her mother incredulously and her mother stares back with a look that says “Well? That wasn’t a request, so get going.”

As her mother cradles her, the culprit turns and smiles at the eldest like Michael Jackson at the end of “Thriller.” It is a memory that brings a smile to the youngest’s face and a cringe to the eldest’s to this day.

Social Media and Journalism

Tuesday, I along with some fellow Harbinger staffers, went on a downtown adventure to attend the school board’s bi-annual Student Social Media  Journalism Forum. The panelists included The Harbinger‘s very own Neyda Borges as well as esteemed broadcast journalists Ari Odzer and Patricia Hurtado de Mendoza, student journalist Marcus Frias, and communications expert Matthew Beatty. The superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, also dropped by to share some inspiring words in defense of journalism and the work that young journalists like us do. The panelists used their own experiences to give insightful answers to questions we all may have had, and since the forum is about social media, we took to social media to share them. Here are the tweets of my favorite pearls of wisdom from that day:

These inspiring words on the role of journalism made me appreciate the field more and strive to be better in every aspect of it.

The speakers also told us the importance of social media, how it is shaping journalism, and how to use it responsibly.

As student journalists it can sometimes feel like doors are closed because of how young we are, but Marcus advised us not to give up. Having faced age discrimination before he knew how hard it could be, but he also knew how rewarding it was when you worked hard and were finally seen as a capable journalist despite your youth.

Ari told us several times of how hard it can be to detach yourself from an emotional situation and get the job done, especially when it comes to interviewing people.

This piece of advice by Matthew appealed to me not only as a journalist, but as an aspiring fiction author as well.

Finally, these may not be pearls of wisdom, but I just loved to see professional journalists enjoying our work.

 

Don’t forget to read The Harbinger’s coverage of the event!

Take Your Child to Work Day

Today was Take Your Child to Work Day, and while I have abstained from participating for several years now, I was talking to my mom and was reminded of how much I loved days like Take Your Child to Work Day when I was younger. I used to go to my mom’s office and file and shred and staple and highlight, and even though they were small tasks, they gave me a sense of importance. It was fun to experience a little bit of what my mom handled on a daily basis, even if I wasn’t always working alongside her or fulfilling any of her actual duties.

Another of my favorite days tied with Take Your Child to Work Day and second to Hibernation Day, the day we’d come to school in pajamas, have a party, and take a napwas Career Day. While we were exposed to many interesting careers on Career Day (like martial arts training, limo driving, and being an officer of the K-9 unit)  my alltime favorite was pest control. My classmate’s father specialized in bird and bee removal and his presentation got the undevided attention of the entire crowd of usually restless children every year. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, it’s because it’s incredibly easy to capture a child’s attention when you drive a firetruck decorated with a honeycomb pattern and you give them sticks of honey.

Throughout my years of elementary school I looked forward to Career Day, however, when I was in about second grade I stopped going to Take Your Child to Work Day. My mom has been working in the same office for about as long as I’ve been alive and I’d already seen all there was to be seen; if I ever did want to visit her at work again, there would always be another opportunity. I decided to go to school second grade year and I’ve done the same every year since because there is something so wonderfully strange about going to school on Take Your Child to Work Day. Going to school on Take Your Child to Work Day is like going to school on a weekend or really early in the morning for a field trip the hallways are practically deserted and it seems like by being one of the few people there you’ve become part of a big secret. It’s a silly feeling, but ask any kid and they’ll tell you the same thing. The best part about being in on the secret is that your teachers treat you differently. There is no lesson or classwork or homework there are only a handful of students to a class anyway so it’s not like there’s any point in giving assignments instead, you get to play board games, watch movies, or even roam freely. And to students who’ve grown tired of doing the same thing every day, the change in classroom activities is welcomed as a godsend.

Body Art

I recently got really into the show Skin Wars (like, I finished all 3 seasons on Netflix) so I decided to show my appreciation for the art form by posting some body art that caught my eye.

Animals

Superheroes 

Optical Illusions

Winter Wonderland

Because I am returning to school tomorrow and have yet to make a post celebrating the holiday season, I thought it fitting to share my photo essay of my experience at Santa’s Enchanted Forest. It had been years since I’d last gone so I savored every minute of it. I didn’t go on many rides or eat until I had that familiar fair-food sickness, but I had an amazing time and it was the perfect way to bring in the holidays.

HALLOWEEN!!!

As excited as I was for Halloween, I forgot to make a post about it. I suppose I wasn’t really feeling the spirit. It’s a bit difficult to immerse yourself in all of the Halloween activities when it’s a Monday and there’s school the next day. I did enjoy myself, however, because I spent the evening with close friends chatting, playing board games, rocking out on X-Box, and gorging on pizza and lots and lots of candy.

Broadcast Meets Print: Stephanie Bertini Visits the Harbinger Newsroom

It’s a bit late for me to share this on my blog because Ms. Bertini visited almost a week ago, but I enjoyed her visit and wanted it marked on my page.

The Harbinger

By Sabine Joseph

This Wednesday, Stephanie Bertini, a broadcast journalist currently employed at NBC 6 News, walked into the journalism classroom at Miami Lakes Educational Center prepared with an audiovisual resume and powerpoint, ready to impart her knowledge on the future generation of journalists.

Bertini began with a video that compiled her 10 year broadcast career to show her transition in journalism, beginning with local stories in Canada and progressing to more cutting edge stories in the larger and more competitive Miami market. To show how she made her way to where she is now, she also showed her powerpoint presentation entitled “Dream and Reach: My Journey in Television News.”

She stressed the fact that broadcast journalism is about helping others and not oneself. It’s about going out and telling people’s stories, informing the public, and reporting the facts: “If you have selfish goals, this is not a business for…

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