My name is Elizabeth Klein. I’m 16 years old, and I’m the Copy Editor for the Herald. I hate roller coasters, I’m fairly sure I have thalassophobia, and up until a few days ago, I had no idea cashews grew on trees. For longer than I’d like to admit, I thought daylight savings time happened naturally. I have three bookshelves in my room, but I used all the space and had to buy three more to put downstairs. I have problems with buying too many clothes, binge-watching Netflix, and movies with sad endings. My favorite book is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, my favorite writer is F. Scott Fitzgerald, and my favorite quote is from Sigmund Freud, and says “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”
I live with my parents, my sister, and our dog, Semi. My mom manages a clothing store in the mall, and my dad is the business manager of the Durham Performing Arts Center. I’m the oldest child in my family, but my sister, Callie, was only born two months after my first birthday. We’ve been close our whole lives. Every Sunday, my mom and dad make a huge breakfast and play Bob Marley songs, then we all eat together before we get started on each of our hectic lives. We’re all close with each other, despite the fact that we’re completely different people. My mom is the brave one. She’s never afraid to stand up for what she believes in, and always says what’s on her mind. She knows an unhealthy amount of information about the history of the British monarchy, and in another life, she would’ve been an excellent history professor, but she’s always said that her job right now is to make sure that we get to go to college. She can also read a book per hour, and I got my love of literature from her. My dad is the thinker. He and I talk about everything; philosophy, life, school, and careers. My love of writing came from him; he texts me in full paragraphs and writes emails that are often better than my essays. Callie is…well, she’s my best friend. I’ve never known life without Callie, as I hope I never do. We talk about everything, do everything together, we succeed together and we fail together. When I’m with Callie, I laugh the hardest, cry the hardest, and fight the hardest. We get on each other’s nerves at times, but everybody deserves a friend like her in their life, even if she’s constantly telling everyone in Newspaper to “punch me in throat,” for reasons I don’t know.
My family is pretty big; I’ve had five grandmothers and three grandfathers through adoption and divorce. When I was very young, my mother wrote to the agency that helped her get adopted and asked if she could be put in touch with her biological parents. Fortunately, they were able to put her into contact with both her mother and her father, who lived in Pennsylvania and Ohio, respectively. My whole family became close with both of them, and although my biological grandfather died two years ago, we still see my biological grandmother every few months. She recently retired from her job to spend more time with her horse and even went skydiving a few months ago. My maternal grandmother and grandfather (who adopted my mom) were very involved with football; he coached seven pro football teams and went to the Super Bowl six times. When I was 11, he was inducted into the Dolphins Honor Roll for the 1972 his defensive coaching during the Miami Dolphins’ perfect season, and my cousins and I went with our families to accept the award on his behalf. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was seven, so his ability to travel was limited. Although I have a great relationship with my grandmother, I never really got the chance to know him before he died two years ago, and I think about that a lot.
Outside of school, I’ve pursued a lot of different activities. I took dance lessons for about a year, but as it turns out, I’m about as graceful at that as I am in any type of social situation (meaning I should never dance again). I played soccer for a little while, but I got really competitive and ended up kicking more people than the actual ball. I was a competitive figure skater for three-and-a-half years, which I loved to do. Sometimes I miss ice skating, especially because my coach let me pick my own music to skate to at competitions. As far as I know, I was the only skater in my club who did a routine to “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin. But I stopped skating to make time for my other passion: music. Four years ago, Callie and I started a rock band called UrMom. She plays the drums and I’m the lead singer, keyboardist, and rhythm guitarist. I still remember our first gig at Cat’s Cradle; I sat down the entire time, we were out of tune, and I almost threw up before and after the show. We’ve gotten a lot better than that first performance, however, and have played around 50 gigs. We’ve been featured in Walter Magazine and Raleigh Magazine, and we plan on recording an album this year. Most of the stuff we do in the band is heavier rock, but Callie and I also enjoy performing acoustic sets and playing around with harmonies. While music is a huge part of my life, I plan on pursuing a career in writing. One of the main factors that helped me realize this was being in Newspaper.
I didn’t always know I wanted to take Newspaper. In the 9th grade, I met with a counselor to discuss my possible career paths. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life; I considered being a microbiologist, singer, fashion designer, musician, politician, writer, and geneticist, but I couldn’t pick. When I mentioned my love of books and writing, she suggested that I apply for Newspaper. I had two class blocks open in my schedule for my sophomore year, so I agreed to fill out an application. After an turning it in completing an interview, I got accepted and decided I would take it the next year. However, when I received my schedule for sophomore year, I was given both Honors Chorus and Newspaper, two year-long classes, divided between two class blocks. I knew I was supposed to go to Newspaper, but my schedule said Chorus. I’d taken Chorus the year before, but I had no idea Honors Chorus was an option for me. I went to an administrator to ask what happened with my schedule, and she told me I needed to pick a class. I wanted to take both, but I knew I needed to make a decision. I picked Newspaper because I’d agreed to take the class during the interview. I was sad about losing Chorus, but was ready and excited about Newspaper. I showed up to class the next day and have been in it ever since. I made the right move in choosing Newspaper; it gives me the chance to write every day, practice editing, and learn about a variety of genres. Being in the class helped me narrow down my career choices; I can now confidently say that I want to be a writer. Just one year of being on the Herald staff made me realize that I want to write for the rest of my life.
For the most part, this year was going really well for me. This past summer, I went on a school trip to the United Kingdom with my best friend, Caitlin. In Ireland, we got to see the Ring of Kerry, Blarney Castle, and the Trinity College Library (which held the Book of Kells!). We traveled through Snowdonia when we were in Wales to get to Scotland, where we visited Edinburgh Castle and went on a ghost tour. After that, we went to London, where Caitlin made me ride the London Eye, went to Buckingham Palace, and took a Harry Potter tour. We also got to walk across Abbey Road and see Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Monet’s Water Lilies at the National Gallery. Overall, the trip was fantastic. However, now I’m back in school, and it’s my junior year. Although I enjoy most aspects of my classes, I don’t really sleep anymore. It’s cool though…it’s not like you need to sleep to live or anything.
But the work I’m doing for all my classes is worth it, because I really want to go attend university. I’m not 100% sure what occupation I’m going to have after college; it’ll involve writing, but I don’t know if that means being a book editor, journalist, or author. Since I was little, college has always been my dream. So no matter what I do after that, I want to make sure that I go and that I get the best education I can. Working hard in high school will help me do that, even though it’s challenging.
So that’s me. There’s probably more, but writing this piece made me realize how hard it is to actually talk about yourself when you’re still working on finding out who you are. I spent days in class staring at the computer screen before writing this, trying to come up with something to say. I finally finished it and I’m still not sure what you, reader, have gained from reading this; maybe just that really like Newspaper and don’t know much about cashews. There’s an old adage that says, “Writers write what they know.” Like everybody else in high school, I don’t really know who I am yet. So this—what you’ve just read—is what I know.