Aristotle, noun, Greek philosopher. Famous quote: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

When I was young, I thought I was going to be a veterinarian. I went to farm camp in an Amish town in Ohio and collected eggs and milked goats for one blissful week each summer. Aristotle said that the gender of goats depends on which way the wind is blowing. At age nine, with young human hands on old goat udders, I knew this wasn’t true. Aristotle said that the heart, not the brain, is the center of intelligence. At age nine, I hadn’t yet proved this false. Aristotle said that everything is forgotten through time. Even at age nine, I disagreed.

Chuck Taylors, noun, the name for a pair of shoes developed by Converse.

I recently stumbled upon a photo of a three-year-old me wearing baby pink Converse high tops. I glanced down at my feet to see a scuffed pair of bright red Converse high tops. I have had a pair of Chuck Taylors at every time in my life. Black, bright white, off-white, navy, black, skull-patterned, camouflage print, splatter-paint, monogrammed, yellow, black, and now red. I would wear them with dresses, with a tie-dye shirt and camouflage print pants, and during every style phase of my adolescent  life. My mom grimaces at the lack of arch and ankle support, but they were the only brand I would wear for much of my life.

iPod Shuffle – 2nd generation, noun, a portable electronic device for playing and storing digital audio files.

I grew up on The Beatles, so obviously the most amazing Christmas gift I ever got was one from my godfather; a clip-on 2nd generation iPod shuffle that my dad had already pre-loaded hundreds of songs onto. At this point in my life, the only technology I had experienced was solitaire on my dad’s flip phone or the Harry Potter computer game on an ancient desktop computer in the basement. That whole day I listened to The Beatles on shuffle, and only turned it down when my sister said she could hear my music from “all the way across the room!”

Katharine, noun, a name.

My claim to fame in middle school was that I was a “test-tube baby.” I would tell this to kids on the playground and wait for their reactions to switch from surprise to confusion, to awe. When they asked what it meant, I would tell them that a woman named Kathy gave birth to me (my middle-namesake), but I was still 100% my mom and dad’s kid and I was not adopted. This made me feel incredibly cool, and while eventually other kids lost interest and realized that it was not, I would still proudly tack it onto my introductions. “I’m Bella…did you know that I’m a test-tube baby?”

Migraines, noun, a recurrent, throbbing headache that is often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision.

Migraines are, regrettably, hereditary, although my mother never warned me that they would be as bad as they are. My first migraine made me feel as though “my head was splitting open, my stomach had detached from my body, and my eyes were on fire.” I found that in an old diary a couple of years ago, and the hyperbole is warranted. I used to get them every few weeks, and lay with my eyes closed and a damp washcloth on my forehead for hours. I don’t get them that often anymore.

Pacifier, noun, a rubber teether for a baby to suck on.

As a baby, I slept with one pacifier in my mouth and five in the bed around me. When one would fall out, I would scream until my flailing arms found another in the bed. After pacifiers, my next oral comfort was sucking my thumb, which then gave way to biting my nails, which then evolved into picking my nails, which I still do. My parents tried everything to get me to stop biting my nails as a child, from foul-tasting nail solutions to incentives and gifts as rewards. Nothing worked, and although I hated the look of my fingers and how they would always bleed, I did nothing to stop. My little brother bites his nails as well, and while he goes from one nervous habit to the next (chewing his cheek, twirling his hair), I don’t bite my nails out of nerves – it’s just a habit. Why is it so hard to break habits, even if there is no reason behind them?

Peppermint, noun, the cultivated Old World plant that yields peppermint leaves or oil.

Age eight, sitting in my parents’ bathroom with my dad, we would rub peppermint lotion on our feet and scrape the bottom of our heels with his foot scrubber. According to organicfacts.net, peppermint tea can help with indigestion and pain relief, but it doesn’t mention that it is the perfect cure for nostalgia. My psychology teacher says this is because olfactory information is processed near the memory processing parts of the brain, and I agree. Just one smell brings me back to my parents’ bathroom, seeing remnants of my mother’s lipstick on the wall from when my little sister tried to put makeup on her face.

Tears, noun, a drop of clear salty liquid secreted from glands in a person’s eye when they cry.

I cry all the time – sad tears, happy tears, confused tears, stressed tears, nervous tears, love tears, defeated tears. My sister cried when she sees homeless people under the bridge in the winter. My brother cries when he is frustrated with his friends. My mother cried when Brian Johnson got kicked out of AC/DC. My nana cried when she read our Christmas card.

Violin, noun, stringed musical instrument of treble pitch played with a horsehair bow.

Age five, my first violin lesson, chubby fingers grabbing my kleenex-box “violin,” imagining myself playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” onstage like my big sister. Imagining myself getting flowers afterwards from my grandma and a tin jar of cookies from my nana. A few years later, my best friend would tell me that the bow is made out of a horse’s hair and an elephant’s tusks, and that he didn’t believe that a vegetarian should be playing an instrument made out of animal parts. I’m still a vegetarian and I still play an instrument made out of animal parts.

From the 826CHI Student Publication: A Record in Space

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