River Voice

This is a fairy tale that I wrote for a class assignment in my literature class. A class assignment to write a fairy tale, in my literature class on fairy tales. I don’t know if I did this well, but I know that I am fondly attached to it, and I think that it has the emotional notes I was aiming for? So here it is, illustrations also by me.



Once upon a time, when it was darker and more quiet than now, though not by much, there was a lonely little boy. He lived in a small village on the edge of a river. A fog hovered over the river, such that no one else in the little boy’s village knew how wide it was, or what lay on the other side.

The little boy was allowed to walk along the river quite a ways, or to splash about in the shallowest water when it was warm enough, which was rare, but never to cross it. His parents encouraged him to play in the meadow with the other children of the village, who liked to play tag or catch amongst themselves, but the little boy was not overly fond of catch. Besides, none of the other children were his friends.

Instead, the little boy would walk along the bank until he reached a small tree. He would climb into the lower branches and sit among them and sing. The little boy would sing about his parents, and his house, and his pet cat. He would sing about the meadow, and the river, and the tree he sat on. I am a little boy, he would sing, I live in a little village. I like the river, I like this tree, I like to sing. Other times he sang about nothing at all, just to hear his voice echo nicely on the water.

One day in the summer, when it was warmer but no less quiet or dark, the boy cast his voice over the water and began to sing…

And he heard someone singing back!

At first the little boy was sure that he was imagining it. It must just be the echo, he told himself! But he would sing for several minutes and then listen for several minutes, and when he listened he was sure that he heard a new voice, another child singing back to him.

The little boy tried to introduce himself to the river voice. I am a little boy, he sang, I live in a little village. I like the river, I like this tree, I like to sing.

I like to sing! replied the voice from across the river, I like to sing and I like the river and I like trees. I like fish and flowers. I have a little village, but I can never leave it.

In this manner, the little boy and the voice from across the river told each other many things about themselves. The little boy sang about his parents, and his chores, and all the other children in the village who were not his friends. The river voice sang about the weather, and the plants, and the birds who flew overhead.

They spent all summer talking in this way, and singing with one another. The little boy thought that this might be what it was like to have a friend.


On the first night of autumn, the little boy’s friend did not answer him from across the river. At first, the little boy thought that the river voice could not hear him. He sang a bit louder. I am a little boy! I live in a little village, I like the river, I like the tree, I like my friend! Where are you?

No answer reached him from beyond the fog.

The little boy was worried about his friend. He would have to cross the river.

The water of the river was cold and swift, but not strong enough to yank the little boy away. He clenched his fists and took small, determined steps against the current. The river chilled his skin, and the little boy began to shiver, but he refused to turn back. He had to find his friend.

Eventually the little boy splashed onto the unfamiliar river bank, the fog dissipating around him as he trudged up the sandy shore. On this side of the river there were trees, just like where he had come from, only a little bit taller. In the midst of the tall trees was a little path leading away from the river. The little boy figured that this path must lead to the river voice’s village, and so he set off along it. The trees thinned, and opened onto a meadow with the little path weaving through it. On the other side of the meadow, the land dipped down in a valley, and finally the little boy was able to see a village.

He skipped down the hill, suddenly very excited that his friend might be so near, and began to sing again. I am a little boy! This is a new little village, and I have never been here before! I like the river between our villages, I like the trees on both sides, I like the path that is leading me to you!

He hoped that his friend would hear him and respond, but still the little boy heard no reply.

The little boy got closer and closer to the new village, until he could pick out each and every roof top of the little stone houses, but he could not see a single person. No adults were walking in the streets and no children were playing in the meadow. Instead, the streets were occupied by statues. Statues of men and women and children stood in doorways and leaned over in gardens and walked on the roads, all motionless.

The little boy ran up to the first statue he could reach, a statue of an old woman, and asked her what had happened to all the people of the village, but she was a statue and statues cannot move their lips. The old woman statue could not answer the little boy!

The little boy ran up to the second statue he could find, a statue of a little girl, and asked her where all the statues had had come from, but she was a statue, and statues cannot move their tongues. The little girl could not answer the little boy!

The little boy ran up to a third statue, a statue of a young man standing in the road, and asked him if everyone in the village was made of stone, but he was a statue, and statues cannot move their mouths. The young man could not answer the little boy!

The little boy was very upset, now, and he despaired of ever finding his friend or knowing what had happened to him. He began to walk up and down every street of the statue village, crying and singing. I am a little boy, he sang, I am a little boy and I cannot find my friend…

…and then the little boy heard a noise. At first he was sure that he was imagining it. It must be a bird, he thought, or a strange echo. But when he listened closer, the little boy was sure that he heard someone humming. His eyes widened and he kept singing, following the sound of humming. He walked down winding streets and wove around huddled statues, singing and listening as best he could, until he arrived in front of a statue of another boy, sitting in a garden.

The little boy sat in front of the statue and leaned in close to hear better, and sure enough, he could tell that the statue was humming. He now knew for sure that he recognized the voice of the humming – it was his friend! Somehow, his friend from across the river had become this statue. The little boy put his hand on one of the boy statue’s hands.


Hello! he sang to the statue, hello, I am a little boy! You are the voice from across the river, you are my friend. We are friends! You were able to talk before – I will wait until you can talk again, we can sing together. We can sing about the river and the trees and our two villages…

The little boy sat there, by his friend, for many days. The sun would rise and set, and the little boy would sing day in and day out. He sang to his friend about all the statues he had seen. He sang to his friend about all the people in the little boy’s own village, who were not statues. He sang to his friend about the river that they could go visit if the boy statue ever took a break from being a statue. The boy statue hummed back to him, but could never speak.

And then one morning, the sun rose on the first day of spring, and the boy statue could speak again.

“Hello,” said the statue to the boy. “I am a little statue, and I am your friend! I’m afraid I cannot take a break from being a statue, but that is okay! It is spring now and the weather is warmer; all statues may speak and move about in spring.”

“You are a little statue?” repeated the little boy. “Well, I am a little boy! I cannot take a break from being a boy either, but I am still going to be your friend! Can you walk to the river?”

“No,” replied the statue, “I cannot leave the village. But I can see the river from here! All statues have very good eyesight. Why don’t you walk to the river, and I will be able to see you and the river from here, and we can both sing and hear each other?”

“Yes!” said the little boy, “Yes, I will do that! I like to sing, I like the river. I will go there now!”

And so every day during the spring and summer the little boy went down to the river, and his friend the statue could see him, and they would sing to one another. And every day during fall and winter, the little boy kept his friend the statue company, and sung to him so that he could know what was going on in the cold season. The little boy was very patient, and didn’t mind that his friend could not talk to him, because he knew that his friend was listening. In the warm season, the statue would laugh and thank him and ask questions about his stories, and then they would sing together. The statue and the little boy loved each other very much for the rest of each their lives, and they were friends happily ever after.


2nd Semester Transcription

Here’s a part 2 to my eclectic agenda keeping! I was a little less consistent this semester, especially towards the end of the year. Nevertheless, I still find these little tidbits rather charming! I hope they will also bring you some amusement, or intrigue, or something,



  • Welcome to Second Semester
    with Julia “Zaslaw more like no law” Borthwick and company
  • My friends are having a party
    without me, because I am gone
  • An end of an era of darkness [written in elvish]
  • Back To School
  • get out of gym
    bust out of hell
  • hungry…   …hungry….   ….hungry [written in elvish]
  • Refill your Breeze card!
    Marta card, Marta art
  • SNOW?!
  • read read read read
    McCurdy is agrumpin’
    read read read read
    lots of time to crunch in
  • my free response grade is a
    I’m one point less of a horrible FAILURE!
  • lithp [written in elvish]
  • OW ow Ow OW ow OW ow OW ow OW ow
  • dadi…. dadi… maaaami
  • Welcome back to EYSO
  • why am I so IMPOTENT
  • Elf Saturday
  • Many deadlines!
  • my nightingale: tinuviel [written in elvish]
  • your narcissism narcitates me
  • no moosic 🙂
  • how can you be this inadequette
  • messed up
    messed up
    messed up
  • word of the day: canoodling
  • Bengali
  • botch
    it’s been botched
  • word of the day: consequent
  • consequent ramifications [written in elvish]
  • “Yay it’s a Friday. and y’all are acting like it.”
  • penenguinenguin, what’s your fenguin? [written in elvish]
  • Viol[a] Recital
  • Stay for review @ beginning of graphics
    or not
    yeah, okay, not
  • You didn’t do any MOLES today 😦
  • Invisible Man Quiz Probably
    nope huzzah
  • Schedule with Lena?!
  • Bruch

Continue reading


I keep a very eclectic agenda during the school year. I doodle in it rather intensely, and often times address myself directly. In a way, the thoughts I jot down there have made it into a proxy of a journal. I enjoy this, because, when looking back, it gives me a window in to my state of mind as well as my state of affairs.

Below, I have transcribed each extraneous little comment from all of first semester.


  • senior year, bitches
  • viva la suffering
  • It’s always a pleasure to be here [written in elvish]
  • this is where the fun begins…
  • I’m a philosophy major!
  • #raisesenioritisawareness
  • I’m a graphic designer!
  • Lit paper due: finish it!!! god damn!
  • Out Sick – rest rest rest
  • Learn the solo, crush opposition
  • Finish essay
    just two pages
    you can do it
  • Shabbat Shalom! (hey!)
  • period death
  • masquerading as a man with a reason/ my charade is the event of the season
  • It’s going Down
  • find pen find pen find pen
  • you loose @ therapy rip
  • stoptalkingstoptalkingstoptalking
  • you are the worst * the actual worst
  • 14 days til DragonCon!!! 2 weeks!
  • DragonCon is getting…closer…
  • we stand at the end of the longest times/came back to homes we don’t recognize [additional lyrics written in elvish]
  • email Lena, apologize, schedule…. aaaa
  • Jacket expected to arrive?!
  • Quartet…………… I guess……
  • welcome to sickness n depression land
    welcome to college stress hell
  • Nerdy shirt day tomorrow!
  • you need to get it together
  • Lena?
    nope u suck
  • 1 week till DragonCon!
  • we have been damned/we have survived
  • why do I have to endure this [in elvish]

Continue reading

Surface Tension

AP 4 (CollageFace)

Items included:

  • A page from the notebook my mother kept when taking notes on my early violin lessons. Evidently on April 7th, 2006, I was working on Bach’s Minuet #2 out of Suzuki Book 1.
  • A blank index card
  • A shred of a physics assignment in which I answered everything correctly and Mr. Gcbasche initially awarded me a 79.
  • Part of a CVS sticker label.
  • A British stamp depicting the antiquated European style of illuminating choral music, such as hymns. This was sent to me by my grandfather, who helps me with my stamp collection.
  • Part of a scantron for a chemistry test that I got a 121 on.
  • A fragment of graded chemistry work.
  • Part of an instruction manual for a TI 84 graphing calculator.
  • Part of the receipt for a paycheck from my job as a madricha (assistant teacher) at my synagogue’s Hebrew School. I teach fifth graders, earning $7.50 per hour on that paycheck, $8.25 per hour as of this year.
  • A random map of Ohio that my parents let me cut up. I don’t actually care about Ohio, I’m afraid, but neither do my parents, and my father can be pretty fiercely protective of Things? At least it has Beaver Falls on it, in close proximity, in fact, to Beaver the city itself. Wonders never cease.
  • Part of a sudoku puzzle in a book of 400 Sudoku puzzles gifted to me by grandmother years and years ago. This is an excerpt from one of the puzzles rated “Beware! Very Challenging!”
  • Part of a chemistry progress report from last year. The grades are obscured, but they were actually all very high, which is hilarious to me, because for most of my career in chemistry last year, they were not. I couldn’t find one with lower grades.
  • Part of a picture day order form.
  • An out of date CVS prescription label for 20 mg of fluoxetine
  • Some graph paper for formatting in graphics.
  • The little calendar things that show the months before and after the month depicted in the big calendars in the pages of my agenda.
  • An excerpt of my French dictionary, which I no longer need because I took AP French last year. It was terrible; began to panic at the mere mention of French as a language in my vicinity, because I was sure that someone would ask me to speak it and I would Be Inadequate. I got a 2/5 on the exam.
  • A receipt for some art supplies at Binders.
  • An excerpt from this notebook I kept second semester of ninth grade where every night I’d write down all the things I’d done wrong that day? I’d get an average of nearly a page in every day. It was a really unhealthy thing to do and I just got increasingly mad and verbally violent at myself as the thing progressed? Reading through it again was an odd experience. The excerpt reads as follows:
    • So unproductive in Music Theory
    • showoff
    • So determined to be sick you fucking freak stop wasting everybody’s time
    • Not paying attention
    • Not paying attention
    • Messing with Alex shut up leave her alone
    • Not enthusiastic enough, try harder.
  • A red scrap of magazine for composition purposes, some blue graph paper, another excerpt from a picture day order form.
  • An appointment card for my psychiatrist
  • An excerpt from a course catalog that I got from Washington University in St. Louis, which is currently my top (but restrictive and super expensive) choice for college.
  • Part of a baseball ticket to a game that I attended at nerd camp over the summer. I don’t like baseball, but I do like nerdy friends, so I had a good time.


College Material

I was routing around in my google drive, and discovered this actual assignment that I actually wrote and turned in for my graphics class, in which I was supposed to be researching different branches of the graphic design and printing industry. Some of these I had rewritten in serious paragraphs below, and there were two others unmarred by foolishness. But aside from that:

Commercial printing is important because it prints all the commercials. How else would one advertise? Not. There would be a DERTH in advertisements in our physical realms. Thusly, commercial printing comprises a SIZABLE portion of the printing industry.

Book printing is what happens when a person loves their written narrative very much and the book printers help that writer give a stack of paper a special hug with a bunch of printing machines and then swaddle the product in a book cover. There are a fair amount of jobs in this industry, because books are #radical.

Package printing is the printing of packaging materials with branding and product information. This is the largest part of the printing industry. If you see an Amazon(tm) box that says amazon(tm), you have been DUPED by the package printing industry, into getting advertised at by your packaging. There are tons of jobs: people who run machines, and people who raise cardboard in wholesome cardboard raising foster care program across the nation.

Miraculously, despite this demonstrative genius, I have yet to receive full ride scholarships to Harvard, Princeton, or Yale, but it’s only a matter of time.

Serious talk, though: I love my Graphics class, because it is a relaxing and friendly environment where there are always opportunities to test out my design/production chops, but no shame or pressure when I instead prioritize other work. Graphics class is what made every other school day bearable, and something I am greatly looking foreward to resuming next semester.

10 Things To Tell

I have a vivid memory of scanning articles in my freshman yearbook and coming upon a list of “10 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Freshman Self”, and as a then freshman myself, I found every item extraneous to my own personal experience, and rather condescending. Things like “your grades matter” or “your work freshman year will impact your GPA as a senior” – things I didn’t need to hear. I was a bit rankled, but decided it wouldn’t be fair to critique the list fully until I was a senior myself.

I’ve been waiting three years to produce an adequately informed list of my own, and now here I go! Dear Freshman Julia:


(Disclaimer: your hair doesn’t actually look quite that cool this year)

  1. You are actually, literally depressed. You’re not imagining it. You’re not making things harder for yourself deliberately, or sabotaging your work ethic to feel “special”, or any of those things you think. Major clinical depression. Have some validation, kid.
  2. Things get harder. And then they get better, and right now they’re harder again. The point is; this too shall pass. Things always have the potential to get better, and you are always growing more equipped to combat the darker times.
  3. You have the most generous, supportive, hard working friends on the entire planet. I know you know you’re lucky, but you haven’t had the experiences I’ve had in order to realize just how lucky. Your friends are there for you and will work hard to make sure you are safe.
  4. You owe it to your friends to do everything you can to support and cater to them. Nothing you can do will even approach what you owe them, but it’s important for you to keep trying. Don’t let them go.
  5. Speaking of things to not let go: your grades. I know how hard you work, and I know how harder it’s about to get for you to maintain that same level of performance. You’ve done me a solid all throughout high school so far – honestly I only have beef with earlier-senior-year me. Point being: you are capable, you are intelligent, and you are driven. Your depression does not change that. Trust yourself.
  7. Some actual advice here: keep taking therapy at the beginning of 10th grade, that was Rough. Also, there’s nothing wrong in asking for therapy later just because a) you said you thought you were fine earlier or b) your parents haven’t pointed out to you that you’ve been struggling. You know yourself best. No one thinks you’re making anything up. Shhhhhhh.
  8. Right now you’re of the opinion that you’re too young to really date. And I agree with you! But nonetheless, you’re gonna. I don’t even know what to tell you about that. I won’t say that you shouldn’t date Emma, because that is mostly a fun and good time for you and has ended up as well as it could have. No regrets, I guess. But also. Just. Maybe try to be less of a blundering idiot, yknow?
    But hey, here’s a real tip: there’s nothing wrong with kissing someone before you’re 15. It’s okay.
  9. Justin and Uzuki become good friends. You’re already in love with Uzuki, but Justin will become just as important to you in different ways. Treasure them while you still have them with you, please. I don’t have them with me, anymore, and that has been one of the worst parts of being a senior.
  10. You are really, really, really lucky to have the parents that you do. I know you love them as you are, and you’d never want to fight with them, but you still have a lot to learn about how well off you really have it. That’s going to be an upsetting process for you, but it’s worth it to be able to better help other people. Mom and Dad try so hard to help you. Right now, they have it easy. Please don’t take it personally when it gets harder for all of you to make yourself function.


(This is a writing I found on my computer from a while ago. I thought it was nice enough to share.)

A small child steps onto spongy grass and laughs as wisps of dew paint her bare feet. The laugh is a light cascade that wind snatches and scatters like fragile mist across the lawn. The flowers buffeting in the breeze take no notice, too immersed in their own struggles. The trees are equally unmoved, and remain as stoically apathetic as ever. The child’s laughter goes unnoticed by the world around her, and time moves on without it.

A young girl has learned many things about her voice. She can talk to her friends and talk to herself and talk to even no one at all. The girl is teaching herself how to sing. An abstract, lonely melody twines around her and floats into the trees. The crackling of leaves in a relentless autumn wind smothers her voice before it can reach the sky. The clouds never even knew it was there. The brittle grass pays her no mind. Her song goes unnoticed by the world, and time moves on without it.

A young woman sits hunched against a stone wall, running her fingers compulsively along veins of moss. She is so very tired. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the world. The world blithely forgives her for her discomfort. A bird chirps and the young woman smiles slightly. It is a rare and beautiful sight upon her lips. Smiles are not frequent, when the world has bleached out your laughter and your song. It is all she has left to give, but the world doesn’t bat an eye. The smile goes unnoticed and time leaves it behind.

A woman, not as young, walks briskly down the street and bites her lip as winter nips her cheeks. She doesn’t smile or sing or laugh, just emits a low, anxious hum as she paces, clutching a purse closer to her chest. It would hardly make a difference if she did show signs of beauty, youth, or happiness. The world wouldn’t care. The stars can’t distinguish between fretful humming and joyful tunes, and the stars are so much bigger and more significant in the scheme of things. The woman can see stars peeping out from between clouds, and knows that they can’t see her.

The stars move on and the world moves on and people move on and time leaves the woman behind. The woman is no longer part of the world, and it doesn’t remember that she ever was.