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Young Writers Project: 'My Big, Beautiful Bubble'

Liana Lansigan, a seventh grade student from Hanover, NH, writes about realizing that life isn't always fair and that there is discrimination in the world, including against her family because of their Japanese heritage.
Courtesy, Susan Reid
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Liana Lansigan, a seventh grade student from Hanover, NH, writes about realizing that life isn't always fair and that there is discrimination in the world, including against her family because of their Japanese heritage.

I live in a bubble

called Hanover—

where the population is mostly white,

where a lot of people are well off,

where there is little suffering to be seen.

I float above the world in my bubble reality;

translucent walls

filter out

shield me

from the world’s problems.

I’m

oblivious

ignorant.

I’m—privileged

private school

science and math clubs

piano and dance lessons

summer camps

vacations in Hawaii and Italy.

For a while, I didn’t know

how lucky I am

and how very few children

have the life I have.

When I was little,

my mom would show me pictures of starving children,

sadness would wash over me,

but just for a few moments.

Never experiencing poverty—

in my bubble of a home—

La La Land—

I had a hard time

accepting poverty as a  reality.

Too few times

my bubble has

popped.

Me—

falling –             

crying out, hitting the hard pavement—

a harsh landing in reality.

When you’re little,

you think life’s great

and fair,

but it isn’t.

Kindergarten Recess, December 7, 2009:

A boy in my class asked me,

“You know what day it is today, Liana?”

“Monday? I don’t know”

“Well you should know because it’s your  f  a  u  l  t.

It’s Pearl Harbor Day and it’s you and your family’s  f  a  u  l  t  the day exists,”

he said and walked away.

Me?

Me? And my nice, normal family?

He didn’t know my family!

I was confused.

I didn’t do anything wrong that day—

well, except yell at my sister that morning.

My family?

Pearl Harbor?

Oblivious.

Ignorant.

Then I realized the meaning and hate behind those words—                                                                    

My bubble burst into millions of tiny particles.

I’m half Japanese.

I’d never been so ashamed of being Japanese before.

I didn’t do it—

I didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor!

Don’t you know that?!—

I don’t kill people!

I’m not the monster here!

Screaming, crying on the inside

but it was time to go to class

and so I went inside just like everybody else

and into the classroom

where classmates are supposed to treat each other with respect

where it’s supposed to be fair

but isn’t.

Christmastime, 2010, age 6

Waiting at a crosswalk on the streets of Manhattan:

“Liana, stop staring!” my dad scolded.

“Liana…”

“Who’s that, Daddy? Why’s he here?”

“He’s homeless, Liana. He doesn’t have a home.”

“Oh…”

I couldn’t stop staring.

A man

with a fluffy red hat

curled up and shivering on a flattened cardboard box

trying to sleep with no blanket, with only a thin coat

while people like us—

enjoying our holiday—

walked all around him

and cars and taxis beep beeped their way along —

the drivers wrapped up in blankets of their own lives

while the man was trying to survive on the streets.

Us—

Oblivious. Ignorant.

The man was invisible to most people

The white walk signal flashed.

I forced myself to look away from the man.

Once we crossed the street

I had forgotten—

the man with the red fluffy hat—

gone—

my six-year-old brain too busy

with other things—

like “Would I miss my TV show if we didn’t walk fast enough?”—

and carrying along with my life—

just like everybody else did.

London, July 2014, age 10

The first time I saw a drunk person,

a man

with shabby clothes

kneeling over a sewer grate

wailing down into it,

his voice slurrrred—

“Cooomme baaack, Saaammy!”

over and over again.

“Who’s Sammy?” I wondered.

“No one will hear you down there,” I thought.

Then…disgust

disgust?!!

What?! why?!

why was I so disgusted?

I didn’t know the man—

I didn’t know what he’d been through—

but he’s drunk and drooling—

in the middle of the sidewalk—

calling for a person who’s obviously not coming!

Disgust again,

this time not for the man

but for me,

spoiled brat!

Oblivious. Ignorant.

“Feel some compassion!”

my conscience was screaming at me

but I couldn’t feel a bit of compassion.

I quickly walked away.

Earthdance, July 2, 2015, age 11

Radical culture shift

My parents love to dance—

Not the structed kind of dancing

but contact improv—

a freeform dance

with no leader

listening to others’ movements,

a conversation.

At first, it was weird to watch—

then

it looked very natural—

beautiful, even.

Earthdance—

a dance family and community

in the middle of nowhere

so different from my lovely bubble.

You hug for several minutes—

just to say hi.

At lunch

I saw two men kissing.

I didn’t think twice about it.

Not so oblivious

or ignorant anymore.

A man

in a pink tank top

and a flowy blue skirt

with long feather earrings

twirled by. He seemed so free

and full of life.

I liked that.

The open-mindedness of the people there—

kids included—

the acceptance of who you are—

I liked that, too.

Early morning after Election Day, 2016, age 12

I’ll be honest, I cried.

Each speech, each rally, each debate—

pop pop pop

was all you could hear.

Each painful  pop

hurt me

and millions of others, too.

The truth of Trump becoming 45th President of United States of America—

that painful truth

was enough to keep me from sleeping.

His rhetoric against Mexicans, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, President Obama—

and most people in general

filled the sky with bursting bubbles

like farewell fireworks to progress and equality.

now, age 12

The sound of my bubble

pop pop popping

happens more often now.

I live in a beautiful cage.

I’d fooled myself into thinking that the whole world was like this.                                  

I must free myself from it

to know the truth

the  reality

not the distorted version of it.

To fix a problem,

you must know the problem.

There is no fixing to be done

if the truth is shielded from you

by a big, beautiful bubble.

The Young Writers Project provides VPR's audience another avenue to hear and read selections from Vermont's young writers. The project is a collaboration organized by Geoff Gevalt at the Young Writers Project. The thoughts and ideas expressed here are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Vermont Public Radio.

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