Writing Catalog

Carli Mendelow

Grade: 12

Bay Village High School

Instructor(s): Erin Beirne, Kristen Srsen Kenney

Through My Words

Writing Portfolio

Through My Words

Life Is a Test

I am aiming for a number

Two digits

One odd

One even

That will define my life

Where I go to school

What I do as a job

Whom I meet in the workforce

And that number suppresses my heart

And taunts me with its perfectionist capabilities

It jeers: "I am the ticket to your successful life"

But of course that number is

Just a dream

A hope

A want

A goal that cannot be attained

Because I'd rather keep my sanity

Because if you're already odd, what difference does it make

to get even?


Fill in the blank for the best fit.

  1. There are many days when I ______
  2. decide to officially give up on my Algebra homework because of its confusing nature.
  3. wake up with integrity and tenacity the moment my feet hit the floor.
  4. dread the trek to school, knowing the torture, it will feed me within its four closed walls.
  5. am excited to engage in my education, knowing that it is laying the foundation for me to lead the world.
  6. cannot comprehend myself or my plans for the future, I just cannot fathom it being so near.

The writer is considering revising the underlined portion to the following:

I am not enough.

Should the writer make this revision?

  1. Yes, because it distorts the truth.
  2. Yes, because that phrase cannot reflect on the copious amounts of enough-ness a person can have.
  3. Yes, because those words should be replaced with "I am enough" in order to keep the subject accurate.
  4. All of the above

Which of the following choices, if added here, would best conclude the paragraph and refer back to the conversation at the beginning of the essay?

  1. This is the end of the paragraph. Remember that conversation from a few moments ago?
  2. Ok so I am done with this paragraph. Can you recall what I talked about earlier?
  3. Moving on, but to the conversation at the beginning of the essay…
  4. So that's it. I'm done.

And there she stood, barefaced and in need of cosmetic attention.

If the writer were to delete the underlined portion, the essay would primarily lose:

  1. A negative remark about someone's person. Which I am okay with!
  2. A judgmental statement perceiving the beauty of someone else.
  3. The fact that she somehow needed cosmetic attention?
  4. Nothing really. This portion of the essay rubs me the wrong way.

Which choice provides the clearest and most specific reason to the statement that:

There are so many reasons to live.

  1. Iced coffee from your favorite hometown coffee shop. Not too sweet, not too bitter, not too watery. You get an extra oatmeal cookie for your father because you know he just mowed the lawn.
  2. Dancing to disco music with your friends in your basement, and sweating profusely, but not smelling really bad. You smell like soul filled endorphins rather than sweaty socks.
  3. Stepping into the open air after a humid hot yoga class from your favorite teacher and giving yourself one final deep breath before real life happens again. Your soul is cleansed and uplifted, your spirit is strong again to take on the real world.
  4. Cracking a joke in class that makes all of your peers (and even your teacher) erupt volcanoes of joy that can be heard from the other side of school.
  5. Waking up and feeling refreshed and ready for your toes to hit the ground and begin again. Gently pushing your sleeping dogs over to the side as you climb out, not disturbing their snoozing pockets of peace.
  6. All the above.
  7. F is the only right answer.

Which of the following alternatives to the underlined portion would NOT be acceptable?

I am _______ keeping my heart open for new ways to live.

  1. never
  2. always and forever
  3. making a goal that entails of
  4. persistent in the pursuit of

Correct the following sentence structure (if needed.)

I have decided to stop trying and give in to my fears.

  1. I have decided to keep trying and let the fear dissipate from my reality.
  2. I have embarked on a journey to keep trying and let go of fear.
  3. I have made the choice to keep trying and push my fear aside.
  4. I have come to the conclusion that I will never stop trying, knowing that fear is not something that can overcome my courage.
  5. All of the above.


The numbers 20 through 30 were each written on individual pieces of paper, 1 number per piece. Then the 10 pieces of paper were put in a cookie jar. One piece of paper will be drawn from the jar at random. What is the probability of drawing a piece of paper with a number less than 25 written on it?

  1. What color is the cookie jar? Still stuck on that part. I am hoping for something exciting, like hot flamingo pink. I would personally pair that color scheme with rainbow cookies. They add flair.
  2. Why the numbers 20-30? That sounds a little random to me. Are they your favorite range of digits or something?
  3. What is the probability that I skip this question, but still get it right? Can we make that happen? Is that legal?
  4. 5/10.

Of the 140 students in a college course, 60 of the students earned an A for the course, 10 of the students earned a B for the course, and the rest of the students earned a C for the course. How many of the students earned a C for the course?

So wait. Half do well and half don't? I don't even like math. If the professor needs to assess his teaching, do you think he will? Or maybe the students need to enhance their study skills? Keep me updated. You know my information.

Katerina runs 15 miles in 2 hours. What is the average number of minutes it takes her to run 1 mile?

Are we just ignoring the fact that Katerina is a full on olympian? I hope we aren't. Her mile time must be pretty fast, so I will politely refrain from answering this question and just kindly ask her to download the Nike Run Club App. It does wonders.

What value of x satisfies the equation −3(4x − 5) = 2(1 − 5x) ?

You know, that value of x is right there! It's in the corner, can you see it? Oh wait, you can't? We might have bigger problems. No time for this; looks like we have to move on to the next question…time is ticking!

Mary, James, and Carlos sold page advertisements for the school yearbook. Mary sold twice as many as Carlos did, and James five times as many as Mary did. What fraction of these advertisements did Carlos sell?

Why are Mary, James, and Carlos the only ones selling? What happened to teamwork? We learned it on the first grade playground! Imagine how many ads they could sell together? If they had learned that lesson, then they would all win. Then we BOTH win—I don't have to do proportions and they can ease their workloads!

My final answer is that Carlos also sold some advertisements. Thank you for listening.


Please read the passage and answer the following questions.

One theme of the passage is that:

  1. There was a good guy and a bad guy, but good outweighs the bad. They learned a lesson. The end. Fin.
  2. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
  3. You should always try to have courage and perseverance.
  4. Can I be honest? I zoned out 15 minutes ago after the first two lines. Can I get a hint?

The main idea of the eleventh paragraph (lines 67-89) is that:

  1. The eleventh paragraph was beautifully written, but it made no sense. I am only 18 years old, so I will come back to it later when I share the same insights as Socrates. Just give me a few years.
  2. Time heals all wounds. Speaking of time, do you know how many wounds I need to heal after taking this five hour test? I will tell you. More than what my health insurance can cover.
  3. Pizza. It's been four hours since I had breakfast.
  4. None of the above. Treat this letter as your "I actually cannot bring myself to care" answer.

In the passage, the phrase something more (lines 86—87) most nearly refers to:

  1. The possibility of what is beyond, waiting for you to grasp it and hold it tight against your heart.
  2. That there was a thing that had more to offer, duh!
  3. The idea that we are worth something more than what we see in the mirror. That we are more than our divets and nooks and crannies. That we are more than what our mind belligerently flashes in our thoughts. We are our hopes and dreams.
  4. The reader is looking for that "something more" in their life. Something more for which she can aspire, something more than what contains her. She needs to hop a tall white picket fence to get to her something more. She begins to start collecting books to stack to make her way over that fence.

In line 94, the word intention is used figuratively to describe:

  1. The mantra behind the desire to change. What are your intentions? Do you question your intentions? How do you truly feel about those intentions?
  2. The reason for initiating a Change. A difference.
  3. The story behind the decision. What brought you here? Why are you still reading?


Suppose a researcher observed that wind speeds greater than 70 miles per hour are needed to move the rocks in the Grand Canyon. This observation is consistent with which of the scientists' explanations?

  1. All of them. How on earth can you deny this statement logically?
  2. Scientist 4. They have an attitude that I picked up on as I was reading the hypothesis.
  3. Scientist 3 because she wrote less, which makes me wonder if she is confident in their opinion on the rocks moving in general.
  4. I actually traversed through the Grand Canyon this past summer and it was the trip of a lifetime. Let me know if you need any places to stay, I recommend the Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim. Is time up yet?

Suppose that no seismic activity was recorded in the canyon where the trails left by the rocks are found. This finding would weaken which of the scientists' explanations?

I am leaving this one blank. I dislike the word seismic.

For any given catalyst, the number of cycles needed to complete the reaction:

  1. Increases.
  2. Decreases.
  3. Stay the same.
  4. Did you ever wonder about what our "life catalyst" is? What makes us tick? What directs us to keep pushing towards a threshold? What is something that can automatically change the emotions you are feeling? Mine would have to be iced coffee.

STOP! You are now finished with the test. Do not move on or go back and mark unfilled answers in the previous sections. When finished, close your Answer Document and Passage Packet. Scores will be sent in the coming weeks.





MATH: 36



Thank you for taking the test. Congratulations!

Doing the Math

Let's start off by saying that today is Tuesday, September 7th, 2021. My outfit for today's jaunt around school was laid out the night before to reduce anxiety of an "on the go" appearance. It consists of a colorful, glittery threaded maxi skirt and white baby tee. Swishes when you walk. Very bohemian, frilly, and most importantly—me. I accentuate this choice with gold hoop earrings (that are not real gold might I add but hopefully when I become a doctor one day they will be) and a couple band bracelets, topping it off with a chain link choker necklace. Chef's kiss! Did I mention that I also laid out the jewelry the night before? If I speed through my morning routine of washing my face, moisturizer, concealer, mascara, eyebrow gel, and powder, I would estimate that I can burn about 15 calories from the vigorous beating and shaking that my hands are doing to apply makeup. This might coincide with the fact that I think I am still digesting my late night snack:

+90 dairy free ice cream bar

+140 peanut butter pretzels

= studying to bring up my ACT score by 9 points, which will provide attractive academics that will appeal to the admission director's palette.

That's only about 6 hours of time for digestion, for 230 calories.

You can burn 45 calories an hour by digestion only.

I have an Anatomy and Physiology test soon. I have been studying for about four days now, but I feel as if that's not enough. I can name a lot of anatomical terms and the sub groups of human histology. I'm behind. My breakfast is:

+ 150 protein overnight oats

+ 110 low sodium strawberry yogurt cheerios as a garnish

+ 35 iced coffee with non-dairy creamer

= the ability to journal in my daily affirmation book, burning about 15 of those calories while writing intently with gratitude.

I walk to my car, my class, across school, all of my classes for the first three blocks of the morning. I have burned through most of my breakfast, so snacktime is coming. Have to keep eating to keep my metabolism fast, even if I am not hungry. No one else is eating, so why should I?

Applications. Personal statements. Resumes. Common App. Add these to the daily agenda, and touch up on when you get back, got it?

My morning snack entails:

+150 protein bar

+35 clementine

= nourishment for practicing the new show dances I will be teaching for the kickline later today.

This is burning about 125 of those calories collectively if we add up all of the math from each class "practice session."

Lunch. I race to my locker across the school, fumbling with my combination lock, dodging away from the boy that asked me to homecoming so I could get home.

- 1,107.5 for a deficit of the day, so I snarf a

+ 149 cucumber, pepper, tomato, turkey salad

+ 48 my half honey crisp apple

+ 100 with less than ⅓ of my homemade, unsalted trail mix with dark chocolate for metabolism burning

= the energy sucking effort of teaching 45 girls a routine during a two and a half hour practice which they will never practice.

The boy is texting me, asking why I left my locker in a flurry.

Lust and unsalted trail mix.

Last few classes of the day fly by, and I am off to babysit before practice. Equates to about 500 burned from the constant running around and me yelling to the children "Hey, let's maybe not do that!" Still have to study for my anatomy test, look at my supplemental college essays, run through choreography, get ready for practice, and make my meals and lay out my outfit for the next day. I plan not to eat too big of a meal before practice so it won't weigh me down.

If my mom gets me my favorite

+90 iced matcha from the local coffee shop

+70 half of a multigrain blueberry bagel

+140 natural peanut butter

+90 banana slices

= the key to acing my anatomy test Thursday.

I need to revisit the intercellular connections and junctions of proteins.

Practice went well. I was worried about my line, but they all pulled through and recalled the revisions we had made to the choreography. I can't tell how well I did, because everyone expects me to just know. No one ever says a word to me on how I am doing. There's a "power" wall that's held up between me and teaching my peers. What does it take for a girl to invite me to join the "ice cream after practice" club? Like friends usually do? Am I being too loud, too aggressive—am I unapproachable like a ravenous tiger with a hearty soup bone?

-15 for Excessive worrying

-30 for Compulsive behavior

= unable to focus on anatomy, physiology, or anything that has to do with the human body.

I need to schedule a private dance lesson with my instructor. My triple pirouettes aren't where they should be for college dance. But then again, I am not putting in enough effort at home; I am caught in a rut of relaxing my mental state and pushing against the grain of tenacity.

I need to make it into college first.

But, not with that ACT.

Not with this lack of friends,

Not with this lack of drive to open my laptop and study histology for the 45th time.

Not with the meal plan prep and scheduling out every single moment of my days until I only have

five minutes

to myself in the morning to slurp iced coffee and journal for mindfulness.

This cannot fit into my life equation.

By the time dinner rolls around, I can't calculate anymore. I estimate, but my estimations are ballparks. Not accurate. Not pluses or minuses, just estimations. Just some derivatives.

I just eat what is given to me, or what I can make, and forget about the numbers for a split second. I forget about the calories, the energy expenditure of those calories. I do not, however, forget what I have to do off of my list before I shower off the worries of the day, watching them all twirl and whirl down the drain.

I will soon head to bed

keeping more than a handful of hours for digestion

to equate in preparation

for tomorrow's new equation.

A Google Search

What is the least amount you can consume without dying
  smallest portion of food possible
  lowest BMI for a teenage girl

Why am I so fat

How do I cut calories
  skip meals without anyone knowing
  burn fat while sitting down
  drop weight fast
  not eat

How many calories does it take to lose a pound
  cookies does it take for you to gain weight
  crunches does it take to lose belly fat
  push ups does it take to get rid of arm fat

Anorexia furtive suggestions
  deceptive encouragement
  conspiring pictures
  hotline for deceit

I want to be skinny
  lose weight
  have anorexia

How do I hide food
  not let my parents know
  ignore my hunger cues
  lose ten pounds in two days

Doctors near me

Treatment near me

Therapists near me

How do I ask my parents for help
  acknowledge the state of my eating disorder
  recover from compulsive thoughts
  nourish my body

The Weight of Life

Angel-like shoes can hold devil-like thoughts.

As a youthful and vibrant young girl in elementary school, I was infatuated with dance. My soul overflowed with pure luminosity when my pale pink shoes fluttered across the floor. When my feet glided, they carried me into a world of creativity and precision. They gave me freedom: pure movement. But, my shoes could not make me fit into the tiny ballerina mold. Something malicious inside me knew that.

When I put on my shoes, they taunted me with dark murmurs of doubt. My shoes demanded perfection. I must nail each turn, leap, or combination every time it is thrown at me. That perfection included my body, too. One day, my shoes heard, "Tuck your tummy into your spine because some of us have a little extra to tuck in." The words burned into my subconscious. I knew I had to gain control, tighten my laces, and be the perfect ballerina that my shoes, my teacher, and my world expected me to be.

From that day on, I decided to starve myself of life by controlling caloric intake and exercise. Unlike other 13-year-old girls who spent their time stuffing themselves with shopping and friends, I stuffed eggs in my pockets at breakfast, tossing my school lunches into trash bins.

My world, once focused on dance, became focused on food. I avoided events because of my fear of food. I craved the pinging sensation of famine, wanting to be hollow from the inside out, yearning for low numbers dictated by the scale. Ironically, feeling weak made me feel powerful.

My utter weakness ultimately caused my dance performance to plummet. My petrified parents ripped me out of dance, which was my true euphoria, and sent me to therapy. Although I was starving, no one's voice could get me to stop. No nights spent at the table could compel me to eat. No doctor could convince me to nourish myself, no round of vigorous cardiovascular testing and blood sampling could wake me up from my fantasy of famine.

Then, mercifully, one day, as I dressed for school, I took a deep breath in front of the mirror and really looked at myself. I saw a dancer, who was thirty pounds lighter physically, but 120 pounds heavier mentally. For a split second, I evolved into an emaciated monster.

With that, my head finally emerged from the darkness. My dance became focused on memories of happiness, the exhilaration of eating a burger without wanting to be sent to solitary confinement afterwards. If I ever desired to eat without a calorie counter again, I needed to make my health a priority to save myself from sinking. Ultimately, I learned to make amends with my mirror.

The voice in my head did not relocate overnight. I discovered through many relapses that food is fuel and that life has so much more to give me than a number on a scale. The first recovery bite was hard to swallow, but I eventually digested the discomfort, realizing I was never meant to be perfect. Pirouettes were meant to fall out of. Leaps can have a bent back leg. Leotards do not always have to be skin piercing or suffocating. Mirrors are not opportunities to body check while at barre.

I put on my dance shoes again a year ago. This time, I did not dance for my identity in the mirror but rather for the feeling of being free in movement. The moment my feet struck the floor I felt whole, full.

I once started on the ground, unable to get up. Now, I push with might, using the soles of my feet, surging above the dance floor. My muscles flex and extend to produce taught lines in the air mid-leap, my toes point to mark the ending of the 180 degree angle. I, now fearless, jump, tuck, and land without falling. I now feel comfortable with the weight of life that keeps me grounded.

The Feminine Mold

there is a mold of a woman
or what society says a woman should be
so perfectly constructed that sand could pass through
tied at the waist
slender legs that stretched for miles
supple hands
a flat stomach that did not rise after a meal
toned biceps that can be used to seamlessly open a pickle jar
a thigh gap that is a trophy for starvation
a plastered smile with perfectly straight
model-white teeth
and the unforgettable
porcelain, supple cheeks
free of any oils
that could be locked away in a china cabinet
to preserve their supple-like botox-infused delicacy
and lustrous lips
that shine without gloss

the mold wears
high heels that teeter; heels stilted on six inch skyscrapers
a fitted dress that glides all areas of the body, leaving no room in the midsection for even a minute sip of water pounds of makeup that drag a smile into a frown
hair in loose curls that look as if they could be shaped by ocean waves
the disfigurement of femininity

many women try to fit into this mold
melting all their imperfections
to be smelt into something

but women weren't meant to melt into a mold
for they were already shaped in genuine thought
from the moment they were born
the moment they were molded
molded by living

my mold has an undefined shape

i tried to change
but i was burned
in the process

i tried to fit
into a mold
four sizes too small
and ended up needing
a mold
four sizes too big

s p a c e

for my deteriorating brain
to re-shape into a healthy thought

my changes always lead me back to my third grade roots of
baggy basketball shorts
graphic sports tees
and sneakers
in case i ever had to run

And here I am
in twelfth grade
one day wearing a gingham smocked frilly dress and leather sandals
the next day wearing army green cargo pants and platform boots

because I am Allowed
Deserving of
as many molds as I need
to be

because I am a woman
my Femininity will never
conform to a mold

The Greatest Birthday Gift

We were taught to identify our birthdays as a time of self-celebration. A time for special ice cream cake curated from the local parlor with a dense chocolate chip cookie center, decadent buttercream vanilla icing piped on the outer edge of a triangular-shaped piece. A time to be showered with a multitude of gifts and catered taco-truck dinners. A time to make a wish on a bed of lustrous flames with the hope that the blowing smoke will carry and toss our dreams into space—the universe.

I had lived 16 birthdays this way. Each one filled with a dinner night with either friends or family, a few presents that I had on a "want" list scrawled in the back of my mind. My presents ranged from a platinum, sterling silver Tiffany rattle from my grandmother, (which I still have to this day) to keys to a 2006 cherry red Chevy Cobalt, ultimately named Clifford for comedic effect. In fact, I am grateful for these 16 birthdays, and all of the kindness that blossomed from my "tree of celebration." But on my 17th birthday, I received the greatest birthday gift of all.

Way before my first birthday, I lived in a house that was across the street from the lake on a bustling main road, sandwiched between an aisle of homes. In my small, bubble-like suburban lake town, this was considered a luxury: living one crosswalk away from a sweet serendipity of lake-filled scenery. No matter which direction you traveled on the road, the water was always on your side, reminding you that it is "north" on the compass rose. That, my friends, is how I learned my sense of direction.

In addition to landscape and cardinal directions, there was also another luxury built into this amenditity—my neighbors.

My neighbors had only one daughter, who was born two birthdays before me. She was a vibrant sprite, adorned with vivacious, ringlet curls. These curls sproinged each time she trotted on the sidewalk of this road near the lake. One could always hear her booming laugh, even over a sports car racing twenty miles over the speed limit. Her laugh had a triumphant air about it. It hinted of confidence. She was the girl who I wanted to be.

Throughout middle school, I was still a couple birthdays behind, but once ran into her in art class. I automatically re-introduced myself—"the girl who rides the bus with you because we are basically neighbors"—barraging her with countless memories of our parents and compliments of her curly hair.

You may think she was afraid, but she was not.

As she laughed at my recited stories, stories of our fathers eating wings at the local pub, stories of our mothers planning wine and cheese nights, her eyes would flash and her curls would bounce. She welcomed me in her space, and made me feel valued. I could almost picture our first meeting, me in my bassinet and her in embroidered blue jean overalls. We grew extremely close, painting and cackling together in the art room. I grew to know her more deeply. She was even more amazing and inspirational, even more strong and confident.

Then, she was off to high school. I fended for myself with emotional armor for the rest of my middle school battles, and missed sitting near her on the bus every day. I knew it would only be two birthdays before I would be in the same school as her again.

In high school, we met again. We would walk each other to core classes so much we had our schedules memorized. We would stop by one another's lockers to catch up about the previous weekend events. I felt like I had won in my battle, because she was my victory.

We thought we won. But the battle wasn't over.

A lump.

I soon heard:

"She has cancer."

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. My best friend, a star varsity volleyball player, stripped from her season and vibrant energy for school activities and spirit. My best friend, losing ringlet after ringlet due to harsh chemotherapy chemicals protruding her internal body cavities. My best friend, fading away into the darkness of blood cancer, and no joke or story could stop her from feeling the intrusive pain that overrode her true happiness.

You may think she was afraid, but she was not.

Though I knew that she was struggling, I also knew that she still had life in her eyes. Her eyes beamed a crystal blue in pictures that she sent me of her during treatment, and to me that signified her fight. My best friend will fight.

My now bald headed best friend fought blood cancer. Twice.


then got multiple procedures

and transplants,


almost relapsed again.

I lived three birthdays without knowing my best friend's fate while she endured treatment. Three slices of celebratory cake were digested with the unsettling discomfort of not knowing whether she was healthy, without knowing if she would be okay. I blew out three planes of candle trees, wishing she would be cured, hoping for her remission, petitioning for healing into the sky dusted with night stars.

On my 17th birthday, my three birthdays' worth of wishes came true. My now short-curly-haired best friend had officially entered remission from blood cancer. The greatest gift that I could ever receive along with growing up across the street from the person I still want to be to this day.

As her new set of confident curls bounce beside her, I am reminded of the young girl on the lake.

She was never afraid.

Which ultimately—

gives me life,

and a reason to fearlessly celebrate.