Summer Travels: Poetry in San Fran

This summer is the summer I will forever remember as the summer I discovered that “Frisco” was not, in fact, a nickname for San Francisco, but an actual city in California. Color me shocked (what color is shocked? a vibrant pink?).  I learned this because, last week, I visited California (and the West Coast) for the Second Ever Time in my life.

Technically, I was there for a wedding in Santa Rosa. But this is a very technical assessment at best, because I only spent about five hours actually wedding-ing, and I stayed in NorCal for five days. Only two of those days were spent in San Francisco, and while I could go on (and on and on and on) about the beauty of the vineyards and Pacific coast beaches (positively frigid!), the city is what I want to talk about.

The city is a big place, and it was hugely different from what I recalled about it from my

One of murals I saw in the Mission District.

One of murals I saw in the Mission District.

few hours spent there in May 2013 (the First Ever Time). This time, we stayed in the Mission District in an Airbnb apartment. Let me tell you: the Mission (named after Spanish missionaries who took residence there during colonization) is a darned funky place. There are bakeries (Tartine, the most amazing of bakeries!) and vintage shops tucked into tiny corners, and just the murals make it worth a visit.

As soon as we arrived at out lavender-with-indigo-accents-painted apartment, I felt an excited twitching in my stomach. I was already in Maddie-the-tourist-who-gets-thrills-from-just-looking-at-buildings mode, and my main goal for the entire vacation was a day away.

Setting goals for a vacation is not usually a great plan, because sometimes things just don’t work out, and then you get so terminally disappointed that you can hardly enjoy anything else (does this happen to everyone, or is it just me?). Fortunately, that didn’t happen this time– I was going to visit City Lights Books, and my family (including my sister, who tends to feel harassed after just a few hours in a city) could not have stopped me if they tried.

To give some background information here: I am a poet. I like poetry a lot, and I really, really like the Beat poets, especially Allen Ginsberg. City Lights, as it happens, started out as a Beat bookstore, and published Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl and Other Poems”, which lead to an important obscenity trial that helped open up the publishing industry. Yes, I was more than a little excited.

And the best thing? When I arrived at City Lights for a reading following a meal of the

The bookstore itself, complete with a mural on one sight and a gigantic sign.

The bookstore itself, complete with a mural on one sight and a gigantic sign.

most delicious Chinese food I have eaten in several years (see: House of Nanking), it was everything I thought it could be. There was a jazz musician playing in the street outside, and every surface of the store was covered in books (three whole floors of books!). There were students discussing the writing of Charles Bukowski in the cramped aisles between bookshelves, and silent, tall young men browsing the selection of Hemingway.

There was a reading that evening by authors Lucy Corin and Adam Wilson, and though I won’t bore you with details, I will say: it was great. They were funny, enthusiastic, and thoughtful. I went home (very late) that evening completely satisfied, with that feeling like when you’ve eaten just the right amount of food.

What I learned from the West Coast is not how to hang loose, duuuude, nor how to plan better vacations (I blame my dad for the general disorganization). It taught me how to be content with what you get– I got to visit City Lights, and it was amazing, and I won’t be able to do that again probably for quite a long time. The next day was my mother’s, my sister’s, and my father’s, but not mine– for one of the first times ever, I stopped obsessing. For the first time ever, I was completely satisfied with my vacation before it even ended.

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Reflection of my freshman year of high school

I never realized the struggle that school could be until the first day of freshman year.

I walked into the ominous double doors for the first time and was immediately hit with the scent of the first day of school. It was a mix of anxiety, anticipation and a lot of sweat.

My first task of the day was to get to homeroom. Apparently, it was just a short walk from the front door, but I did not figure that out until I circled around the entire school. To me, the hallways were a maze. The map that I was given would have helped, if I did not need a microscope to read it.

When I finally managed to get to class, I realized that the hallways were the least of my problems. The teachers are foreign to me and extremely different from the friendly elementary school teachers. I never thought that teachers would be cruel enough to assign homework on the first day of school.

After my first round of classes, I finally got a reprieve — lunch. I easily found the cafeteria only to discover that none of my friends had the same lunch shift as I did. So, I was left wandering aimlessly in the cafeteria until I stumbled upon a group of fellow freshman.

By this time, I was praying that the day would be over soon and the rest of the year would just pass in a blur. Continue reading “Reflection of my freshman year of high school” »

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Top ten classic summer songs

Rock, New Age, Reggae, and Hip Hop are all words used in the universal language of music. However, there’s a certain time of year when a new category comes out to play. Encouraged by the rising of the thermostat, summer songs begin to reappear after their year of hibernation and make their way back onto the radio. After all, catchy tunes have a hard time of accepting obscurity. And summer songs always find the perfect melody to play right back into people’s hearts. However, for a song to be considered a classic, it must be among the best of its kind. For this list, the following ten tunes were selected based on their popularity with the public and their ability to capture the themes associated with summer.

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Mazematician amazes vacationers in North Carolina



Sand maze created by Aaron Gutknecht at Sunset Beach, North Carolina

While on vacation in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, a beach goer might stumble upon the artwork of mazematician Aaron Gutknecht. Gutknecht, originally from Arnold, near New Kensington, Pennsylvania, creates his own original sand mazes by using just a trusty shovel and his imagination.

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Searching for the right college isn’t as easy as ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’


Boy is that a loaded word.

To high school freshmen, it signifies the freedom from your parents and being treated like a kid that lays just out-of-reach. To parents, it’s the moment your baby girl or boy becomes an adult who you can only hope will make the right decisions as he or she enters the real world. And to high school seniors, college is the gateway to a new life imbued with independence, responsibility and hardships much unlike anything we may have experienced before.

However, before college, comes a great search, a search for our place, our home, for the next however many years following high school. Continue reading “Searching for the right college isn’t as easy as ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’” »

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The Achterbergs’ Airtight, Holistic Guide to Pest Removal

Everybody remember February? Back when the ground was brittle and the air went 20 below with windchill?

The invertebrates survived that, somehow, and they’ve got no more objections to the air so thick and still it might as well be one big can of garbanzo beans left out in the sun. Pennsylvania has become a swamp nowadays, where every stinkbug you flick out your window waves to a squadron of flies coming the other way.

How do you deal with this pestilence? After multiple summers of exploring Internet concoctions, brand name repellants and folklore remedies, our family has designed the foolproof guide to insect home security. A few choice routs:

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How to prepare for air travel

(AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)

(AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)

As summer continues and vacations with family and friends commence, you might find yourself travelling to a far (or not-so-far) away place that requires an airplane, something that many await eagerly but most people dread. Avoid stress with a little prep before your vacation.

1. Consolidate your luggage.                                                                                                       Checked baggage fees average around $25 on most flights, but you are allowed to bring a carry-on bag and a personal item which can include a (large!) purse. If you only pack a bit more than what you need, you have extra money to spend on what really matters: the experience (let’s be honest; it’s actually the food).

2. Find a map.                                                                                                                                  Obviously it isn’t productive to wander aimlessly through the airport trying to find your terminal, and the airport signs help a little. But one quick Google search can save the hassle. Search for the flight on your carrier’s website for by-the-minute updates about timing and the gate you will leave and arrive from so that right from the exit gate you know which direction to go for your connection or shuttle.

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Steve Billet and David Smith actualize their vision of Philadelphia Street: i-ron-ic

Delving away from the cookie cutter life style are Steve Billet and David Smith, owners of i-ron-ic, an eclectic antique and art shop, located at 256 W. Philadelphia St. Entering their shop is just short of an adventure with treasure at the end, from funky thrift finds and Levi jeans, to art pieces by local artists. I-ron-ic is an added splash of color to York’s Downtown.
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How students handle summer reading assignments

The promised land! Break! Freedom!

Whatever you call it, summer is the most glorious part of the year. The reason: no school. However, for some students, this break is not really a true break. Why might you ask? The two most dreaded words English teachers could come up with: summer reading.

Now, there are many ways that different types of students handle their summer work. Continue reading “How students handle summer reading assignments” »

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Sweet 16 birthday gift ideas

Turning 16 is a big milestone in a teenager’s life. Now, they’re allowed to get their driver’s permit, get a job and experience their first feelings of true freedom.

And while the birthday guy or girl may feel pressured to throw the party of the century, their guests also feel pressured to find the perfect present. Money is versatile, but not personal. Clothing is fun, but sizes and style can cause problems. The search for the perfect present may become so strenuous that it seems impossible. But it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of thoughtful and original gifts out there for both guys and girls that will not only make them feel great, but impress everyone else as well.

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