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The Life and Times of an Average Sixteen Year Old High School Student

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BC: The Life and Times of an Average Sixteen Year Old High School Student

FC: The Life and Times of an Average Sixteen Year Old High School Student | By Zach Varan

1: Zach Varan The Life and Times of an Average Sixteen Year Old High School Student WackyZackyPublications

2: Copyright © 2011 South Riding, VA WackyZachy Publications® | All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form unless given special permission by the author/publisher

3: Preface | My name is Zachary Ryan Varan and I was born to Lynn and Mark Varan on November 24, 1994 in Prince William County, Virginia. As you read this autobiography, you will learn a lot about how I've lived my life from a young, immature kid to a hardworking high school student. My experiences range from sports and vacations, to incidents that I will never forget. I've accomplished quite a bit in my life, learning all kinds of new things and applying them to make myself the best I can be. If there's anything made clear by this book, its that I really love my family and friends and wouldn't amount to anything without them. Whether its a time of struggle or something I want to try out, My family members are the first to be there for me, making sure the problem is resolved immediately. I love everyone who's lives had contact with this autobiography in any way, and would hope for nothing more that those who read it feel that emotion through me. Enjoy

4: With each passing day, I am happily reminded of the love I have for my children and their love for me. While the oldest of my children is away at college, I am oblivious to the everyday trials and tribulations of his world. My youngest, Zachary Ryan, whom you are going to learn more about in this autobiography, has kindly stepped in to fill my days and nights with his gregarious sense of humor, his disdain for his hair, facial features, and overall appearance, along with his dreams of becoming successful, making oodles of money, and taking care of me in my old age. Granted, the fact that he has even expressed a desire to take care of his father and I in our old age has given us great comfort. That is the type of person Zachary has always been. Even when he was younger he always thought about others. He was the first one to share his candy or french fries with others or think about what we should get his brother if we were out shopping. I can say the feeling and generosity was not reciprocated by his brother, though they have grown to be very fond of each other and Zachary holds an extremely high opinion of his brother Brendan. Zachary was always a very happy child and extremely social. I don’t think he has ever met someone whom he couldn’t hold a conversation. His lack of knowing when to be quiet has been a challenge over the last couple of years; just ask some of his teachers. He is also quite fearless and loves to try new things. He has participated in a variety of sports over the years. He loves golf, lacrosse, and water related activities the most. His dare devil tricks during his skateboarding phase were the most worrisome, but a few broken bones cured his “I will try anything” attitude once and for all. All in all, Zachary is a wonderful son and I wouldn’t change a single thing about him. I hope that after reading some of his autobiography you learn a bit more about whom he is, and what makes him as special as I think he is. | Forward | Lynn Varan

5: I would like to dedicate this book to my older brother Brendan | My Brother Brendan is by far one of the most important people in my life. As you read my autobiography, you will see and feel just how much of an impact he makes on me every day. Every action he makes, and every aspect that makes him, inspires me. Anytime I feel like I'm not good enough for something, I look at everything he's been able to accomplish and push myself to reach his level. In school, he was able to maintain amazing grades, so everyday I put forth as much effort as possible to try and do better. When he finds something he truly loves or cares about, he devotes himself to reaching perfection in that field. I must admit, I am very jealous of Brendan, but I see it as a positive since I constantly compete to be better. However, most of his talent and ability came naturally, so his purpose in my life is mainly just to keep myself on track. He has shown through his actions that he can accomplish anything he puts his mind too, and that same mindset has come into play when I was working on this book. Brendan completed the same project when he was in high school, so I knew I would be able to do the same for myself with a lot of hard work and dedication.

6: A is for Aquapalooza There’s no better way to spend a beautiful summer day than to go boating on the Potomac River. My family has been doing just that for several years now, using our lightning fast Four Winns cruiser to bring friends out on the water. Most people hear the word boating and assume we take a small fishing boat to a lake and go fishing all day. Fortunately, an average day for us involves water skiing, restaurants on the water, and relaxation in the sun. The greatest days of all to bring the boat out, however, is definitely during Aquapalooza Aquapalooza is a huge, marine-based festival held each year in the shallow waters surrounding Tim’s Rivershore. Usually, Tim’s is an amazing seafood eatery right on the water that hundreds of people flock to for great food and great times. During this festival, thousands of boats gather together in perfect rows attached by nothing more than ropes, buoy’s, and anchors. Last year was the first time my family had the opportunity to go, and it was nothing short of chaotic. The day started off as any ordinary boating trip; I had a friend stay over the night before, Gunnar, and we woke up bright and early to pack the sandwich meat and drinks. As usual, I had to yell at my mom because she packed way too much beer for her friends and barely enough soda for Gunnar and me. Regardless, we shot off towards the Tyme and Tydes Marina to fill the boat with gas and head for Tim’s The site upon arriving was almost too shocking for words. Yachts, cruisers, cabin, and pontoon boats lined the river’s shore as far as the eye could see. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky for miles, and with all the people swimming, the water was nice and warm to the touch. Finding a spot to anchor down was nearly impossible, so Gunnar and I grew impatient and dove off the side of the boat. With no phone or any form of contact with my parents, we were finally free to enjoy the day however we pleased. Music blasted from every boat and from inside the restaurant, rippling off the water’s surface and filling the air with senseless, loud noise. Children screamed, dog’s sprinted to and fro on the beach, and rock bands played their instruments on the water-logged boardwalk. Middle aged men appeared to be the most dominant of the population, and they seemed to spend all their time passing Frisbees and grilling hot dogs and hamburgers. Millions of seagulls swooped in and around the boats, scavenging for loose scraps of food. Huge inflatable water slides and trampolines were set up in a grassy field behind the beachfront. Gunnar suggested we start there, which was the worst idea imaginable considering the massive lines of kids waiting for their turns. I decided to improvise a game, diving back into the murky water and disappearing below. As my friend searched for my whereabouts, I popped out of the water like a dolphin, and sent two balls of mud directly at his face. This was war. We took turns, diving beneath the surface, grabbing huge mounds of squishy mud that felt like silly putty. It doesn’t exactly feel good to be pegged with dirt clumps, so the loser became the first person to surrender. We spent hours playing our game with several other people we found from our school, until a massive thunderstorm approached and my family forced us to leave. Having to go so early was really unfortunate, but the time I was able to spend at the Aquapalooza was one I’ll never forget. Gunnar and I laughed harder and longer with each other than we ever have before, and those moments are my favorite with friends. I can’t wait until next summer to take the boat out again, and I’m going to make next year’s festival as exciting as possible.

8: B is for Brendan Michael Varan If I was to choose one person in my life that I admire more than any, I could say no other than my brother Brendan. I’ll be the first to admit that he’s far from perfect, especially after countless arguments and fights between the two of us, but everybody has flaws and neither of us are any exception to that. When we were younger, he could be so mean to me at times that I often couldn’t think of him as someone so close to me. Now that I’ve grown older and gained maturity along the way, the uneasy relationship we once shared has turned into something I couldn’t think of losing. In fact, every day I find him becoming much more than just an admiration of mine, but more of an inspiration. With his superior athleticism and outrageous sense of humor, my brother is and always will be the biggest influence in my life. Brendan played several sports before and throughout high school, but he was most skillful at lacrosse. As a natural athlete, he made the varsity lacrosse team during his freshman year in what had been his first time ever playing the sport. He always came home right after school, completely obsessed with every mechanic of the game, practicing his skills on any surface he could, and watching every minute of the professional league on TV. I could hear the garage door slowly creaking open, and prepared to confront my brother which I didn’t do often at the time. Watching him destroy his competition in games had amazed me, and I really wanted to try the sport for myself. As he took his first steps inside the house, stick in hand, I asked, “Hey Brendan do you want to pass around for a little out back?” It had been a great day at school for him, because he immediately accepted my offer and sent me to grab my stick as well. The weather outside was absolutely perfect, powerful sun rays warming the air around us and a gentle breeze to add a delightful touch of cool. “Alright I’m going to teach you a few different moves that you can use if you ever decide to play,” he told me as we found our positions in the dark, lively green grass below our feet. I couldn’t manage to do anything right, passes hitting the ground several yards in front of him or flying several more above his head. Regardless, he used all of his free time that entire day voluntarily just to share his love for something, and that’s close to impossible from an older sibling. In addition to his physical prowess, Brendan is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life. Our family took a cruise to the Bahamas once, and I had to share a room with him for an entire week. It was only the second night, and I was cramped up in the corner of my twin sized bed playing a game around 12:30 in the morning. He shared a second bed to my left, and both were separated by large black curtains. Suddenly, a noise broke the silence which filled the room, an indescribable low-pitch moan only a creature could produce; certainly this noise did not come from Brendan. As the thoughts swirled around in my head, a familiar face masked in shadows penetrated the safety net of the curtains around me. I shrieked, springing out of the bed and dashing for the nearest form of protection. Cowering inside the bathroom shower, I slid the translucent door shut and held it closed with my hand. There were no locks! The disfigured face returned once again, pressing up against the glass allowing me to make out the identity of my pursuer. I instantly fell to the floor laughing my guts out, because this stalker was merely Brendan making goofy faces and chasing me around in the middle of the night. Since our relationship is constantly getting stronger, being able to play sports with him and share great, hilarious moments only bonds us tighter. As I have entered high school, his early instructions of lacrosse in our backyard became an important motive for me to try the game out myself, and now I too am in love with it. The humor we share as siblings and as family has helped to heal old wounds between us, and I’ve applied my own class of comedy to situations where it was needed to break tension. I love my brother regardless of his occasional bad attitude towards me, and love every second I spend in his presence. His place in my life has significantly added to whom I’ve become as a person, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

10: C is for Changing My Life Most people live following the basic lifestyle choices, such as attending college, getting a job, and supporting a family. I’ve always lived with this particular attitude, taking the easy route to everything, and never giving more than a single thought as to where I would like to end up in the future. However, one seemingly average day of school caused a spark of emotion in me, and it became the day I decided to change my life. The day started off as any other as I awoke to the blaringly loud echo of my alarm clock on a Friday. Everything had gone as usual; I grabbed my daily bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats, rode the bus to school, and killed time in the cafeteria before school started. It wasn’t until 7th block where this monotonous procedure was broken. After I had taken my seat in study hall beside my two good friends, I quickly realized that I forgot my book to class. Instead of asking to get it, I tried something new and grabbed one of the magazines our teacher provides for us in case of that situation. My eyes were instantly glued to the pages, which were filled from top to bottom with pictures and articles about all types of celebrities. All of these people shared something huge in common, money. Regardless of their level of fame, every person in that U.S. weekly magazine was extremely wealthy. They could take a break from their work at any time to go anywhere they wanted, whenever they wanted to do so. Although it is very selfish and materialistic, being rich has always been a huge aspiration of mine. The bell rang sharply, and horrible scratching noises were heard as every student repositioned his desk at once. Skipping this routine task, I made a beeline for the door and shot out into the hallway before my teacher could stop me. It was 1:45 and my time to eat lunch, but I took the opportunity to go to the library instead. Once inside, I took seat in the far corner of the room, hidden from the average person behind several bookshelves. I unzipped the biggest pouch of my black and green Nike backpack, and took several sheets of notebook paper out. Pencil in hand, I began to write my own songs, mostly with rhyming verses from hip hop of which I love. I wasn’t embarrassed to do this; nobody was going to see my work, and I didn’t intend to save it either. That magazine showed me fullest extent to which life could be enjoyed, and that it took hard work and dedication to reach it. The lyrics were only practice, because I really wanted to be a music artist, and my traditional lifestyle would never get me to that point. When I got home that day, I decided to work on other things that would get me ahead in life. I burst through the front door, eager to make a significant change in myself. I almost never do my homework at home, ironically, and I had decided that would be the next step. Slipping off my grass-stained sneakers, I ran upstairs and lunged upon my queen sized bed. What was normally reserved for a long nap became precious time to complete my assignments. “You’re doing your homework on a Friday night?” My mom inquired. I replied, “Mom, I know this is really weird, but I want to make a change in my life, and I know it has to start with the small things.” “Well I’m proud of you,” she told me before leaving to put away the clean laundry. I decided to change my life for the sole purpose of becoming rich and famous, and it only took a few hours to discover there was a much bigger effect. What had began as an attempt to change my future, helped to positively alter my life in the present. I had always wanted to try writing lyrics, but was always too lazy and thought I was a loser for doing so. My grades in some classes were lower than they should have been, because I was not turning in small assignments that built up on me. With the choice to start doing both of these, I became more satisfied with myself, and the people around me were pleased as well.

11: D is for Doing a Little Bit of Everything 1.Be on stage with Wiz Khalifa throughout one of his tours. 2.Become a millionaire before the age of 25 3.Have the opportunity of going into space 4.Visit different parts of Asia like Vietnam, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Beijing. 5.Become an inspiration to someone younger than me 6.Graduate a great college with a solid GPA 7.Watch my mom, dad, and brother grow old and live happy, purposeful lives 8.Find the girl I was meant to be with and achieve big things with her 9.Own a car considered to be luxurious 10.Fix my flaws of being self-conscious, unconfident, and lazy 11.Reach old age so I can truly experience as much as life has to offer and see what the future holds 12.Maintain a huge network of friends that I can always depend on for anything 13.Live somewhere nice in New York or California 14.Go skydiving 15.Base jump into the grand canyon with a few friends and white water raft after 16.Try every sport once 17.Improve every aspect of my character and my abilities 18.Become the DECA district president 19.Own multiple houses 20.Produce popular music 21.Have a primary acting role in a popular movie 22.Save somebody’s life

12: E is for Entering the Big Apple DECA is a club available in many schools across the nation for kids that are interested in the many fields of marketing. Every year at Freedom, this club sponsors a trip for all of its members to the breathtaking New York City. When I first heard of the trip last year, I was highly unsure whether it was as exciting as some people made it seem, or worth the whopping $400 dollars it costs to go. Regardless, I asked to try it out just once, and ended up making some of the greatest friends I have today. The morning of December 17th, 2010 came faster than lightning striking a flagpole in a thunderstorm. I sprang out of my bed, body pulsing with anticipation, flinging bed sheets and pillows alike all over the ground. My hand slammed down hard on the snooze button to my alarm clock, as 5:00 flashed across its face. With no intention of remaking my disaster of a room, I threw on an old pair of black, lacrosse sweatpants and a matching sweatshirt. “I honestly cannot taste this right now,” I mumbled to my mom as I gulfed down the assortment of bacon, eggs, and sausage she prepared for an early breakfast. Before long, the strips of fatty pig were digesting in my stomach and I was on my way to school to catch the bus. I chose a seat conveniently located next to the only two guys I knew, Marty and Carter. The rest of the members were strangers to me, upperclassmen who appeared to have as little interest in me as I them. The bus shot off on its long trek, freshly formed snowflakes falling and sticking to its roof like cake batter. I was pinched uncomfortably between the freezing window and Marty within an hour of departure. Loud music, chatter, and snoring irritated my eardrums for the remainder of the ride as I attempted to get as much more sleep as I could.

13: Our first stop was at the Renaissance hotel, one of the most beautiful and elegant I’ve had the opportunity to stay at in my life. Crystal chandeliers loomed from the grand ceilings above our heads, accompanied by the funky, modern style décor that polished every nook and cranny of the building. Heading up to the 9th floor, I flung my bags onto the floor of the room I was forced to share with two kids I’d never met before. I took the opportunity to take a warm, relaxing bath before setting out into the relentless wintry weather, and my roommates gave me a very early indication of their immaturity. Moments before I closed my eyes to rest, my face was belted by multiple aluminum cans, half empty with sticky soda, thrown by the two dorks I had to spend the night with. Ignoring the frustrating and inconvenient situation, I soon found myself in a group of students on the street below. I had merged into yet another group of people I didn’t know, and had no choice but to introduce myself. Amongst that crowd I had found Colin, Luke, and Sanjit, three awesome guys to add to my list of friends. Our club teacher, Ms Schmidt, rounded up the scattered horde of teenagers and brought us to the Shubert Theatre. This theatre wasn’t very big, but had plushy, velvet seats for everyone to sit and multiple levels to choose from for a clear view of the stage. Boom! The lights snapped off instantaneously, darkening the room for ambiance and suspense. The play was called Memphis, and depicted a story of romance between a white man and an African American singer during a period of racial discrimination. With stunning voices, life-like sets, and dazzling choreography throughout the entire show, I was mesmerized and really love the choice of Broadway. After a peaceful nights rest, the trip was concluded with a tour of Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. The Museum was packed full of life sized figures made from wax, which represented in astonishing detail different celebrities both alive and dead. Colin, Luke, Sanjit, and I ran to and fro, snapping goofy pictures with each and every model the place had to offer. I remember putting several dollars in a model of Oprah Winfrey’s hand, and having Luke take a picture to make it seem like a prize giveaway! It was hilarious moments like these that the four of us shared, which escalated our acquaintance with each other into solid friendships. Everyone hopped back onto the cramped bus on its journey back to South Riding. Smiles marked each and every person’s face, everyone satisfied from their long day of shopping and touring around the city. With my belly packed from small snacks and unhealthy treats, I spent the ride home laughing and giggling with my new group of friends. When we arrived at school, I forced back tears that rested at the edge of my eyelids, and gave a farewell to all the great new people I met because of the trip. Till the second I fell asleep, memories of the trip clouded my mind, and I knew that I had to go again the next year!

14: F is for Frustrating Days April 13, 2011 Dear Diary, Today I woke up feeling terrible and knew quickly that I wouldn’t be able to attend school. I told mom and she immediately called the school and reassured me that I would be staying home. I guess I should consider myself extremely lucky because I waited until the last minute on a project, and without being able to stay home I’m positive I would not have finished it. All the stress from this project is actually starting to make my heart hurt a lot, so I think I’m going to go grab an Aleve in a little bit. Anyways, I woke up at around 10:30 this morning and immediately jumped on my mom’s laptop to work on my assignment. I felt very hungry soon after, and chose a single bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats for breakfast. That didn’t fill me up at all. In addition, I snagged a few bananas off the counter and a few Nestea’s out of the box next to the basement door. I’ve pretty much accomplished nothing today, but what’s different about that from any other? I spent hours sitting on my butt, transitioning from the living room to my bedroom when it got too hot, and vice versa when I became too cold. I took several breaks from my work too, occasionally sticking my head in the freezer to relieve my consistent headache. I even went outside for an hour thinking exercise would relieve my tension. That failed as well. I’m finding it very hard to type right now, considering the deep cut on my pinky from yesterday’s lacrosse practice. There’s actually some kind of foreign object in my eye that’s really bothering me right now, and I have no idea how to get it out. I don’t have any grand expectations for school tomorrow, especially considering the fact that I probably will not sleep tonight. Well, I believe that’s about everything on my mind, so this is goodnight.

15: 3 cups of self independence- This should get the girl of any guy’s back for awhile, so she doesn’t want to be with him with every passing second | 6 cups of good humor- Three cups should go towards the girl producing funny jokes, and three should go towards her having a great understanding of jokes | 3 tablespoons of compassion, caring, and kindness- Each tablespoon should a touch of sympathy, but leaves the girl with some sass and attitude | G is for Great Girl Recipe | 4 slices of pure beauty- Slices should be evenly distributed across the girl

16: J is for Jokes and Fun at Great Wolf One of the greatest feelings in the world for me is to have a few amazing friends that I know will stick by my side through good times and the lesser regardless of what the future is ready to throw at us. The only things in comparison are the memories that come with great companionship, and I’m happy to say I’ve had hundreds of those with my buddies Andrew Cirillo, Mike Calore, Gunnar Blackshaw, and Jesse Mizell. One experience in particular came as a surprise, because what had begun as a simple trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in Virginia resulted as one of the most enjoyable days of my life. On that very day, the five of us set out on a journey during the summer before seventh grade that would bond our lives together into an exciting, long-lasting friendship. The sun had just merely shot into the sky from the west as the parents of my best friend Andrew roared, “Get up, get up, get up boys breakfast is ready and we’re leaving in thirty minutes, come on guys rise and shine!” My eyes shot open immediately, restless from the previous night spent in anticipation along with the group of five consisting of Jesse, Mike, Gunnar, and of course, Andrew. The room was a disaster, complete with scattered pillows, soda stains on the carpet, empty cups, an assortment of blankets and sleeping bags, and trash from unhealthy, chocolate, and carbohydrate-rich snack food binged over the course of a few hours. The TV was still glaring, filling the room with unnecessary brightness and random chatter from a movie I cannot remember for the life of me, considering it was one of several played over the night. I quickly tapped, slapped, and shouted the others from their comatose-like slumbers and we all threw our clothes on like businessman running late for a meeting. There was a definite emphasis on the ‘’fast’’ part of breakfast, because the putrid smelling creation I was forced to stuff into my already satisfied stomach was too disgusting to look at nor for that matter eat slowly for pleasure. I never made a mention of it to any of my pals who seemed to be enjoying it, and what probably looked like me putting my hands together for a short, post-meal prayer was really me praying that we could leave as soon as possible so the urge to vomit would go away. All five of us hopped into the car, pushing and pulling on each other for the best seat, and with my luck I get crammed in between Andrew’s sister and her friends, along with a complimentary four month old bagel on the floor in front of me. Wonderful! Barely anything happens within the few hours that elapsed, except a ten minute game of eye spy that arose annoyance within the parents and subsequently led to another fabulous game titled none other than, “The Silent Game”. Luckily, the car slowed to a stop, and our entire squadron of overly-energetic middle school pre-teens filed out to the site of the majestic Great Wolf Lodge. I’ve seen many beautiful places before so I can honestly say the view from the front of the gigantic building was astounding, complete with four fifty foot pillars of rock and steel, waterfalls that trickled delicately amongst the soft, caressing winds and a plethora of vibrant, colorful, eye-popping flowers that added an extra scale of elegance. The funny part about the magnificent landscaping was that the lodge was meant to attract an audience of mostly kids and families, so most of the visitor’s wouldn’t be as intrigued as I was simply by the entrance to the place.

17: We were given only one day to enjoy everything the Wolf Lodge had to offer, so the five of us began an immediate exploration of all parts of the building. The scale in which was already very large from the outside was only amplified once we started walking around, where the only words that could escape my gaping mouth were, ‘’Dude, this place is huge!” Before long, we took advantage of the wide hallways and atriums with a game of tag that could be witnessed by all the guests as we bounded up and down staircases, and sprinted throughout the interestingly decorated interior of the lodge. Trees, fake animals and insects, and ambient music we’re scattered about the lounging area, providing a true feeling of nature with every step. Growing tired of pointless chasing, especially since nobody was tagged the entire time, we set forth on our mini-expedition to get a taste of the main attraction. Our final moments of the trip were spent in the vast indoor water park that contained everything from lazy rivers, scorching hot tubs, giant slides for up to six people at once, hydro-infested jungle-gyms, and even a pool that produced waves steadily increasing in size and frequency. The last addition caught our attention more than anything, and we quickly ran over to indulge in the countless possibilities of custom made games to partake in. One in particular that still gives me a good laugh to this day had Gunnar and I in one inner-tube, and Mike and Andrew in another as Jesse combined his brute strength and the constant bash of the waves to attempt to flip us out of our rafts. The slide was amazing, sending four of us and two strangers down a seemingly endless, dark passageway on a circular raft accompanied with screams of fear and joy. Mike had been excluded from this, and spent the rest of the day with the ladies doing who-knows-what for entertainment while we wrapped up our adventure with a second game of tag on the jungle-gym. With one last wave goodbye after a busy morning of packing up belongings and waiting for all the women to get dressed and apply their make-up, we set out from the Great Wolf Lodge hoping for the opportunity to visit it again. The drive home was much less depressing, with constant talking between all members of the vacation, and reminiscing that already couldn’t wait to begin. We laughed, shouted, and even began to feel sadness as the memories of the lodge flickered in and out of our heads. When we arrived back at Andrew’s house, I realized that even with the Wolf Lodge in the past, the moments my friends and I shared that day were never going to leave.

18: L is for Learning to Love Lacrosse Out of the many, many options of sports available to play not a single one ever really interested me. In fact, as of the start of my freshman year, I found myself perfectly content focusing on school and going home to play video games just about every night. A lot of my closest friends looked upon me as un-athletic and often lazy, carrying out the same weekday rituals and never finding any motivation in my life. It wasn’t until my discovery of the sport of lacrosse that my chain of lethargy was broken, and I decided I would dedicate myself to accomplish something I wanted for once. My first contact with the sport was during the second quarter of my freshman year, amidst the flesh biting, arctic temperatures of December. A good friend of mine called me one morning to ask if I would like to get together to pass around a ball with some lacrosse sticks for awhile. Due to extreme boredom with my repetitive lifestyle and a random interest in venturing beyond my household, I searched for my brother’s old stick and hopped on my bike to rendezvous with my buddy. After receiving a few pointers on the basics of the sport, I quickly found myself flinging rubber balls in my friend’s direction faster than an antelope darting from a starving lion. I had finally come to terms with the phrase, ‘’time flies when you’re having fun”, because hours had passed in what had felt to be mere minutes. It was only after that moment I had realized that I found something I loved at last. Wasting no time with my new found obsession, I began to show up at all the high school conditionings to prepare myself for the upcoming lacrosse tryouts in February. Every morning, before the sun could shine its light and the birds could sing their songs, I went to school and practiced my stick handling to improve my skills. Eventually, with only days before the tryouts, I considered my skill to be of high enough level and waited in nervous tension for the ultimate test to start. As those days flashed by in an instant, I showed the coaches everything I had learned to secure a position on the glorious junior-varsity lacrosse team. The lacrosse team turned out to be everything I had hoped for, with amazing teammates and coaches that pushed me to be the very best I could be. Despite several weekly practices that tore me apart both physically and mentally, I pushed my limits to improve myself and earn playing time in the games that were ahead of us. When those games had finally made their debut, I discovered that lacrosse wasn’t something I loved at all, but something stronger. The sport had actually become one of my first passions, and regardless of the time my cleats touched the soft turf of the field, I knew there was nothing else I wanted more. Towards the end of the season, the chemistry between my fellow players and I grew exponentially, and the games we played in became much more than a busy Saturday. When we had all finally built reliability with each other, winning games became obsolete. The only thing that drove us to work hard in each game was our share of love for the sport and one another, because we refused to let each other down. I spent half my 9th grade year and many years before that living my life in a way that lacked inspiration, devotion, and purpose. After growing sick of my sedentary ways, I gave let something new into my life and I got way more out of it than I had put in. For one of the first times, I participated in a sport that I cared for and forced myself never to give up until I made the team. I didn’t stop there either, continuing to drive myself towards each aspiration until what resulted in more skill, determination, and a mass of people I could count on for anything, which I could only have dreamed of the way I was living prior. Lacrosse became much more than an activity for me, and without it I may never have discovered my potential; I can now apply myself to anything I care for in the future.

21: M is for Music and Motivation Over the past year or so, music has become an increasingly powerful way for me to express myself. I’ve begun to use various types of music as meditative practice to channel my thoughts and emotions. It has filled my life with inspiration, helping me motivate myself and conquer goals I would otherwise leave unfulfilled. Conversely, music has resuscitated me after I have fallen into sadness or depression, refusing to take action to progress my life forward. I couldn’t imagine living without the aid great music provides, yet I managed to do just that for many years. My brother encouraged me to give hip hop a chance, an art form which unifies clever lyrics and often loud, pounding beats to produce sounds that would make any regular person’s foot tap uncontrollably. I returned home from my third week of school, my feet ached terribly from constant walking. I would have an easier time navigating a pitch-black mineshaft then I did with the hallway layout of Freedom High School. Regardless, I slouched my way up the staircase towards my bedroom when my Brother suddenly belted, “Zach! Come in here real quick.” Our relationship wasn’t the best, so I jumped at the opportunity to spend time with him. Upon reaching his door, I was greeted by blasting music more capable of deafening a runway operator than multiple airplanes lifting off. As I made my way towards the queen sized bed he was lazily resting on I shouted, “Ok I’m in here now what’d you want!” The sound cut off instantly. “Listen to this song I just downloaded,” his voice breaking the silence and the high-pitched ringing in my eardrums. I cringed as his finger pressed the play button on his computer, with multiple speakers and a subwoofer foreshadowing the decibel crushing death that was about to ensue. Surprisingly enough, the music returned with only half of its former volume level, and I couldn’t help but notice my head nodding in agreement with the catchy tune. I caught an approving look on Brendan’s face, and hours passed before long as we played more and more hip hop songs throughout the night. Since that day, hip hop and all of its variations began to play a major role in my daily life, such as during the bus rides before my lacrosse games. After school one day, after I threw on my dirt-covered jersey and sweat stained shorts, my teammates and I boarded a cramped school bus on its way to another school’s stadium. My coach screamed, “Listen up, gentleman! Here are the line ups for today.” I disobeyed the order, mind focused on nothing more than victory and excellent performance. The only thing that can put me in the mood to dominate is music, but this time I did not choose the usual hip hop. Another genre called dub step was the perfect choice for pre-game motivation, which uses nothing but extremely loud beats changing in both pitch and frequency. I plugged my headphones tightly in each ear, ignored the comments of my fellow athletes, and closed my eyes to truly feel the music as it coursed throughout my body. My hands and feet shook with adrenaline as it pumped through my veins, and images of destroying my opponents flashed in my head. The bus screeched to a stop, and the entire team jogged off in order to throw on their remaining pads and helmets. Rain steadily trickled down from the grey matte clouds above, my team marched in two lines towards the chain-link fence and onto the green turf field. When I sprinted onto the field, the music returned to me, echoing in my head and reminding me of my previous visions. The opposing team gained possession of the ball, and the offense dashed towards our goal with the same thirst for victory. On defense, I dug my sharp cleats into the earth below me and stood firmly awaiting the enemy. When the opportunity presented itself, I broke from my stance and hit the other player harder than a baseball ball bat would a piñata. The game ended shortly after, leaving our team with a seven to zero victory; I would never have done as well without music fueling me with motivation.

22: P is for Parents L=Love me and my older brother equally Y =Yearn to see me succeed in life, supporting every choice I make N=Nag me constantly to complete my homework N=Never leave me home alone without someone to check up on me A=Always help me with things when I need it N=Never punish me for anything I don’t deserve D=Discipline me fairly so I keep my life on track and stay responsible | M=Make time for me by coming to my games and driving me places A=Always ask me how my day was R=Restrain from getting too involved in my personal life K=Know how to listen to me when I need to talk about problems

23: S is for Skateboarding in South Riding Skateboarding became a huge passion of mine when I first entered middle school, and was a great way for me to enjoy the outdoors and meet new people. Many people looked upon skateboarding as a sport, but I always saw it as a hobby. I knew I was never going to become a professional, so I used it mainly for fun and transportation. What I didn’t know was that by riding my skateboard every single day after school, I would meet some of the closest friends I have and have one of the best summers of my life as well. Every day after I got off the school bus and walked home, I would grab my skateboard out of the garage and practice tricks in the street. It was an extremely popular activity for kids my age, so I wanted to teach myself a few things to impress other skaters. One of the first kids I met in middle school was Jesse Mizell, who lived only a few blocks away and shared many of the same interests as me. He was actually a few months younger than I, but he looked at least three years older. I mean, the guy already had long black hairs sprouting from his chin and the sides of his face. Anyways, we began to skate together during the first week of school’s closure, and we formed a tradition that would last for years to come. One week, we decided that the streets and curbs we used consistently for our ‘’Ollies’’ and ‘’kick flips’’ were getting old and boring. “Dude, we need to go somewhere fresh and new with bigger drops and railings and stuff,” I explained to Jesse. He agreed, and we set off on a journey that would be made hundreds of times more throughout the season. We planned a course that would take us from our far end of South Riding to the Town Hall in the center of the neighborhood. It was a grueling adventure; miles and miles of constant travel, sweat-inducing temperatures, and somebody always forgot to bring something to drink! We started by passing the almost forgotten elementary school, into a shortcut path behind a group of houses and a tiny stretch of woods. I remember there always being a giant, bloodthirsty canine waiting behind a waist high fence for any skater that dared to cross paths with it. I was bitten by a dog in that same year and petrified to pass by, especially with thoughts of the beast hurdling over its pathetic wooden prison and eating me whole. The last monument on our way to Town Hall was the South Riding Golf Course, to which my family belonged as members and I was quite familiar with. Town Hall itself was the location of many memories too, such as the time I twisted my ankle really badly on my birthday. Jesse and I were skating down the two-step stairs of the grand white portico and decided to try something more extreme and dangerous. While all the other skateboarder’s were busy eating pizza and subway, I grabbed their decks and stacked them up at the end of the staircase. With a running start, I reached the edge of the stairs and popped my board high into the air. I looked around at the expressions on everybody’s faces with the few seconds I had before landing. I thought they were amazed at my feat, but in reality, they just knew I was going to wipe out. The rear wheels of the board clipped the stack of decks, working with a catapult motion to shoot me forward. I brought my legs up to my chest like a baby in the womb, attempting to break the force of my fall with my feet. My plan worked, but resulted in my right foot being twisted ninety degrees and the tendon inside tearing sharply. By the time I could get up to check the injury, my ankle was extremely swollen and looked like it had a tennis ball shoved underneath the skin. Despite the horrendous risks involved with the sport of skateboarding, it remained as my favorite past time from the beginning to end of middle school. Jesse has been my greatest friend for the longest time, and I truly believe my experiences with skating have helped make that possible. Anything could have happened during the summer after sixth grade, but I couldn’t have imagined spending it doing anything other than skateboarding.

24: T is for Timeless Family and Friends

25: U is for Understand Our Differences Dear Brendan, I am very sorry for how annoying I was to you most of the years we grew up together. I’m sorry we couldn’t stay close to each other our entire lives, like when were little kids and how we are now. I want to apologize for that time I threw the battery at your head. Although it seems tiny in a sea of memories we shared, it basically marked the point when you stopped showing me respect. When your friends were over, all I wanted was to spend a little bit of time hanging with the older kids, and I never meant to be so intrusive. Even so, you could have refrain from using all the nasty terms you’ve called me in the last ten years. You have to forgive me though; understand that we are two very different people, who have different likes and dislikes. What makes you angry might make me laugh, and vice versa. I’m sorry that no matter how much we try to relate to each other, we will always have two very separate perspectives on the world. I know we can get along great despite that, because I’ve seen it happen, but you hold grudges against me for things that were caused solely by my young age. We are four years apart in age, so most of the bad memories we share happened because you were older and more mature, trying to hang with a young, crazy kid. I’m sorry that I can’ t be the brother you expected me to be, but I hope you can put all of our bad moments behind us and work with me to make great ones in the future. Your brother, Zachary

26: W is for Wincing from a Snapped Wrist I will never forget the pain I suffered through during the 7th grade after I had broken my wrist. I had never broken any bone before; I only witnessed the pain and inconvenience that other kids underwent when they fractured a body part. The year was going fairly smoothly for me, hitting honor roll every quarter and enjoying the free time I spent with my friends. By the time Halloween came by, however, everything in my life was about to become more difficult. Three days after the spooky Holiday, I endured an incident that is burned into my memory forever. I remember the day like the back of my hand. I reached an intolerable level of boredom, so I took action by calling up my friends Andrew and Mike. They shared the same lack of enthusiasm, so we decided to share it together hoping to spice up our day a bit. I walked over two miles to reach their neighborhood, with a cast on my foot from a minor injury after a skateboarding accident. The cast was to be stripped off in three weeks, so at least I had one thing to get excited about. When I reached the front of Andrew’s house, I could see him and Mike stretched out in the weed infested grass. They spotted me, and sprang up instantly as if they had seen a ghost! “Finally you’re here man we’ve been sitting around doing nothing for the past half hour,” they screamed at me as if two feet was too far for the average person to hear. Wasting no time, we paced back and forth down the streets of South Village, brainstorming for ideas of what we could do. Sick and tired of having no results, I pushed Andrew aside yelling, “Tag! You’re it!” My buddies knew exactly what game I started, and Mike ran along with me as we dashed for the woods. My heart was pounding after only a minute of sprinting, and it didn’t help having a clunky black cast slapping against the sidewalk with every step. I felt like a pirate with one of those peg legs! The entrance to the wooded area behind Andrew’s house could be seen within yards, the black path seemingly engulfed by the dense foliage as it bent through the trees. There was no way I could evade Andrew and his endless endurance any longer. When I began to feel his presence behind me, I shot left off the path and into the bushes for cover. Luckily, He had pursued Mike instead, and was soon joining my side near the riverbank deep into the forest. Mike chose to stay on the pathway as the new tagger, because he could move easily without obstacles, and maintain visual of us. I slowed to a walking pace, laughing at our hunter’s feeble attempts to catch us, and the distance he would have to travel to attack. “Zach! Run he’s right behind you.” Andrew shouted suddenly to protect me. Fearing being tagged, I darted through low tree branches and thorn bushes to escape my tail, refusing to check if he was actually behind me. I didn’t catch it in time. A hollowed log of moderate size lay on the ground before me, hidden under thick grass and vines. I leaped forward from instinct; my left foot clearly made it over the sunken tree below, yet my other foot snagged from where the cast bulged unevenly. It was merely seconds before my face was smashed into the earth below, right arm tucked awkwardly beneath my chest. Snap! This sound had not come from a box of Rice Crispies, but from the bones in my wrist. I gazed upon my now disfigured arm, and caught my friends glancing in the same direction. It took almost six seconds before any pain was felt, but when it came I shrieked in horror.

27: The shock set in immediately, causing my heart to race faster than ever before and I was only jogging to the path. I screamed at my friends to take me home, tears dripping down the sides of my cheeks followed by loud crying. I sat on Andrew’s couch, my wrist resting delicately atop a bag of frozen peas. My dad decided to take a shower before bringing me to the INOVA urgent care center, fearing bad body odor over his own son’s condition. I ended up spending the rest of my school year with a cast on my right arm and right leg, and had to tell everyone that I injured myself tripping over a log.

28: Y is for You Won’t Regret It Date: April 14, 2011 Location: The Varan Residence Dutiful mother and honorable father, I have gathered you here today to express a growing concern of mine. You see, for the last three months I have been on my best behavior. I have been responsible, hardworking, and have done everything you asked me to do. My behind the wheel instructor is on the verge of handing my license to me. As the days grow closer to that time, I greatly fear the vehicle you expect me to drive. As a teenager with no job, a consistent spring sport, and plenty of schoolwork to keep my time occupied, I have no way of earning sufficient money to buy gas. The price of gas has been rising steadily over the past few weeks, and now amounts to an average of $3.89. The car you expect me to use as daily transportation is quite the opposite of fuel efficient. It guzzles gas down, and can only hold a maximum of sixteen gallons per fuel up. What I ask of you is very simple. I would like a new car sometime soon that is fairly cheap, but can hold several more gallons of gas. Especially when I do receive a job, a new car would be crucial so I can always have spending money on me. If you do this for me, I promise to maintain the excellent attitude I have given both of you for so long now. Please consider my offer, and remember that I will never fail you. I need this from you mother, and I need help from you too father, so do something for your son that he will never forget

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  • By: Zachary R.
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  • Title: The Life and Times of an Average Sixteen Year Old High School Student
  • Detailed life of Zachary Ryan Varan
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  • Published: over 6 years ago

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