What is reality? Can we really understand the concept of reality or do we just believe what we see? The zinesters behind the “Kaleidoscopes of Normal” issue navigated through constantly changing patterns of thought, determining their conceptions of what counts as reality, normalcy and art during a brainy week of philosophy and creativity at the University of Ottawa in May 2014. From provocative ideas about identity and selfhood to touching words and drawings about values, their zine projects are a testament to their thoughtfulness, wit and creative integrity.
Brila makes every effort to publish submissions and reserves the right to edit content. The views expressed in this zine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brila and its staff. Check out submission guidelines at www.brila.org. Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on Facebook and through Twitter. © 2014
Luna De Salterain
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Huyen "Crazy Softy" Thanh Tran grew up in Hamoi, Vietnam, and moved to the city around two years ago. She is in the eighth grade and attends Sir Winston Churchill Public School. Her favourite subjects are English and visual arts. She enjoys drawing, writing, using the computer, and playing guitar. Huyen says she is puzzled by basically everything, and she plans on following whatever makes her comfortable and happy later on in life. Her inspiration is fueled by everything. Her favourite movie is A Walk To Remember, her favourite song is In My Life by The Beatles, her favourite colour is blue and she likes any animal that isn’t an insect. Like many young adults, her favourite book is The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. Huyen has one sibling, a younger sister, and her superhero-of-choice is Spider-Man. If she could go anywhere in the world, she’d go everywhere because she loves to travel.
Aggie “Basic Jemma” Bertrand is a Canadian girl in grade nine at Pontiac High School. She likes the colour blue and her favourite animals are bats and rabbit. She is a very nice and creative person. She enjoys watching TV, playing the keyboards and most of all, drawing. Her drawing ability is incredible and that’s one of the things she likes about herself. Her passion just leads her to keep drawing and drawing. For as long as she can remember, this small hobby has been her life. Soon she’ll make her dream come true with this talent, being an artist or an illustrator. Her favourite book is The Children of Odin by Padraic Collun. In life, everything puzzles her, well except for puzzles. The quality she treasures the most is honesty and of course, any ability to sit through a Lord of the Rings marathon. Her favourite type of music is Folk Metal, a mix of classical instruments and heavy bass guitar. If she has to choose between looks or knowledge, she would choose knowledge. For a day, if she could be anyone or anything, she would be a bird so she could fly everywhere. If she had to describe herself in three words, they would be smart, creative and lazy.
William “Pickled Penguin” So is a 5’6 and a half-inch male who attends Sir Robert Borden High School. He has two turtles, and describes himself as “crazy.” William is in grade nine, and his favourite way of being creative is singing in the shower. Romance, and the rules of romance, cause William great trouble, as these two things puzzle him. William would not be happy if everyone in the world was suffering, because he believes that his environment affects him. He believes that if everyone were to be suffering, he would become miserable. William would rather cause pleasure than take pain away, due to the fact that he feels pain is something people can learn from. William wishes he could change his name to Solitaire, although he realizes that such actions would take a lot of getting used to. He also draws, plays the piano, and occasionally writes creatively to express himself. His favourite colour is undecided, and his favourite food is pizza.
Michelle “Easy-going Rocksana“ Kharytesku is in grade eight and goes to Jack Donahue Public School. Her birthday is December 15 and she was born in Kanata. She’s Ukrainian and Russian. She’s kind of shy but can be really fun once you get to know her! She likes to listen to dubstep and she can play the saxophone, drums and piano. Her favourite way of being creative is to picture images in her head. Some things that matter most to her are her family, friends and education. One thing that puzzles her is this very question. For her hobbies, she likes to go horseback riding twice a week and she likes to watch the movie The Hobbit. Her nickname is Hoppy and she has a dog named Marley and two cats named Sheldon and Sasha. Her favourite book is Wing of Fire. One thing many people may not know about Michelle is that she likes dragons and is a vegetarian.
Wejdan “Openminded Philip” Aboalkhoyour is a grade eight student who goes to Roberta Bondar. She describes herself as shy, friendly, curious, nice and artistic. She has three siblings: an older sister and two younger brothers. Things that are important to her are her cats, drawing, and her family. Her favourite types of art are drawing and sketching. Her pet peeves are: when people eat with their mouth open; when people mix up the three words “their,” “there” and “they’re;” and when people start criticizing her art work. Her favourite colours are all colours but if she had to choose one it would be green. She would be happy with no friends if they were the kind to not be loyal and backstab her. If she had to choose between pleasure or pain it would be pleasure because it would relieve pain. One thing that puzzles her is whether there is a right way to do art or not.
Athena “Crazy Ricardo” Demeri is 17 years old and attends Hillcrest High School, where you’d most likely find her sitting on her metallic orange sunfire watching airplanes and writing away about her travels, hoping to soon get published. She goes to Spain every summer but when she’s not there, she tends to the tigers, lions and baboons at the Paperback Park Zoo. Athena is also a museum junkie and enjoys fishing and mudding with her friends. When asked if she’d be happy without having explanations for things, she answered: “It’s a debate between knowing too much or too little… is it a blessing to be naive or a curse?” She’s a constant advocate for people’s rights, mentioning that it seems that people are discriminated against simply for being homeless, regardless of any brilliant talent they may possess.
Linnea “Funky Max” Dalvi is a 13-year old hockey player who attends St. Marks Catholic High School in Manotick. Linnea was born in Ottawa and loves her country of Canada. As she is very studious, Linnea’s favourite pasttimes consist of reading and listening to music. Linnea’s preferred way of expressing her creative ability is through photography. She believes that you can capture the essence of beauty and reality with a single image. She lives by the quote, “A picture can speak a thousand words.” To Linnea, a picture can have multiple meanings and symbols, which transitions to her personal life in which her creativity, family and friends are quite close to her. As Linnea progresses in life, she wishes to accomplish her main goal. “I want to do something that people will remember,” she says. Linnea is a very focused and driven person who believes in herself and wishes to leave behind a legacy.
Sarah “Persuasive Fluffy” Pledge Dickson is a very talented violinist attending Canterbury High School in ninth grade. Music isn’t her only talent; she also aspires to become an author. Her biggest dream in life is to write a novel. You can tell she’s a total bookworm—her favorite Canadian author is Tim Wynn Jones and she also loves the Harry Potter series. The perfect Friday night for Sarah would be snuggling up in her PJs watching Johnny Depp movies. She also loves baking and playing soccer. Something that puzzles Sarah is how the universe seems never-ending.
Aska “Randomly Deep Anchor” Sheikh is a grade eight student attending Greenbank Middle School. What puzzle her the most are why many people attempt to be popular and the same as each other. Her favourite way to be creative is to draw and sing. Her favourite colour is mint green. When I asked Aska if she would be happy without a friend she replied yes because you shouldn’t rely on others for happiness. Aska values her religion, family, and her emotional health. She would rather relieve someone’s pain than give them pleasure. Aska has two lovely fraternal twins as siblings. Aska is social, outgoing, friendly and very creative. Her pet peeves are when someone is on the phone all the time, when people wear two different coloured socks, and when someone wears an outfit that is entirely one colour.
Luna “Adventurous Stanley” De Salterain is many things. She is an artist in more ways than one. She was born in South America and still has the South American accent in some things that she says. Luna has wicked lavender purple hair that fits her wild and unique personality to a tee. She is a grade 10 student at Phileman Wright High School in Gatineau and is trilingual too in Spanish and French. Luna is free spirited and definitely expresses that side of her through her various art forms, which allows her to be creative in most everything she does. She writes poetry till the sun comes up, plays music, and has the awesome hobby of collaging. Luna takes Aikido that is a form of martial arts so don’t mess with her! She also plays alto sax and has been doing so for four years. Luna is a museum and movie junkie. Luna believes, “you are in control of your own happiness, you just need to go make it happen, it’s all right in front of you.” She stands for freedom and liberty; she believes that we can set ourselves free. She believes in the power of art and its beautiful impact on this world.
Madison “Majestic Dexterette” Grant is 14 years old and goes to J.H. Putman school. She is in grade eight. Her interests include dance—ballet more specifically—reading, writing, piano and some sports. Madison’s favourite color is red, and she has a golden retriever named Nautica. She also has an older brother named Michelle, and she loves to sail. Madison is puzzled about why people have passions and what drives people to like what they do. Her favourite way of being creative is through writing. She enjoys writing action-filled short stories and poetry. Madison could never be truly happy if people around her were suffering because there is nothing happy about watching other people in pain. Also, she could never be happy if she didn’t have a single friend, because her friends mean too much to her and it would be hard to live without them.
Olivia “Amusing Marshmallow” Fournier is a 14-year-old girl that goes to Char-Lan School and is in grade nine. She likes spoken word and poetry. She is puzzled by how the human mind perceives actions and emotions. She likes to express her artistic side through the arrangement and emotions of words. She likes to shop! Her favourite colour is teal. If she could travel to one place, she would travel to New York to “hang in the Bronx with her friends.” She aspires to be someone whose name is known and studied in a classroom, or a lawyer—whatever works. She is truly happy when she writes about her day and when she is inspired by life.
Isabelle “Free Zeus” Quejada-Page is 13 years old and is in grade eight. She currently goes to Saint-Columbus, but does not really like it there since she transferred from her old school. She was born in Toronto on October 1, 2000. She then moved to Cornwall, where she lives now. She has a very annoying brother, and he is 11 years old. Isabelle’s favourite food is spaghetti. Her favourite animal is a guinea pig, and she has two of her own (but used to have a bunch more). Her favourite way of being creative is to draw. One of her greatest accomplishments is watching every single episode of The Walking Dead on TV. She is also going to see a guy from The Walking Dead in June (and as she says, she is disappointed because he already has a girlfriend). Indie-rock is Isabelle’s favourite genre of music, but she also likes to play the piano. Soccer is her favourite sport. Green (an awesome colour) is her favourite. She is not a huge fan of shopping, but if she had a billion dollars, she would gladly do so.
Adrianne “Logical Beauty” Henderson is 14 years old and goes to Jack Donohue Public School in grade eight. Her favourite school subject is art. Her birthday is February 19, 2000. Her friends mostly call her Adri. She is very shy, does not understand most people and does not like to talk. Although once you get to know Adri, she can be a very loud and outgoing person. Adri absolutely love dragons and loves to draw them. Her favourite author is Tui T. Sutherland. Some extra-curricular activities she does outside of school are pottery, skiing and curling. Adri has a brother named Warren, two cats named Merlin and Thomas, and a beagle name Bentley. She plays the clarinet and orchestra bells. Most days, her favourite colour depends on her mood. And last but not least, Adri doesn’t like colouring as much as she likes to sketch, and she absolutely loves to confuse people!
Fahmo “ Crazy Luto” Abdi is a 14-year old girl born February 6, 2000. She is the middle child in her family, and lives with her three brothers and three sisters in Ottawa, Ontario. Fahmo attends Fisher Park school and her favourite classes are math and visual art. Her favourite way of being creative is drawing. She loves drawing. Fahmo says she like to draw everything that catches her eye, like drawing a flower or a picture. She also draws things that just pop into her head. Some of Fathom’s favourite things to do include going outside and playing sports when she has free time. Her favourite sport is basketball and she is very active but she doesn’t like running. Her favourite colour is blue. One place Fahmo really wants to go to one day is Australia. She wants to see the beaches and feel the warm weather. Fahmo is a very interesting person and what motivates her is seeing other people succeed. When she gets older, Fahmo wants to become a teacher.
Anna “Fantastic Fred” Evans would much rather be named Victoria. This 13-year old enjoys the shape of triangles and loves pink as a colour, although not as a way of life. Her school life is “complicated,” but her love for steak is universal. Anna can often be found sitting at her piano, playing peacefully while her two cats, Zach and Jack, listen intently. A girl, Anna is usually happy, and when she is not, she is probably just very tired. Like many people her age, Anna has a cellular telephone. Her favourite outlet for creativity is drawing. Her dream jobs are: psychiatrist, police officer, or psychiatric police officer. Anna, try as she might, will never understand the “pack mentality” of society. Anna in 150 words… almost.
Ruwani “Wise Eugene” De Alwis is in the eighth grade and attends L. D. H. high school in Barhaven. Beauty and a creative soul are widely desirable, and Ruwani De Alwis possesses both. Ruwani writes, mainly about life events, to express herself. If she’s had a bad day, or if a situation has gone very badly, Ruwani writes about it. Also, she likes to illustrate both realistic people, such as family members, as well as what she sees. These are the creative outlets with which Ruwani expresses herself. For Ruwani, importance is found in family, friends, school, and happiness. These are her priorities in life, and very worthy ones indeed. “Happiness,” she says, “depends on the day.” If a day passes and nothing bad has happened, this counts as a good day. Ruwani is an intelligent person with much creative potential—she knows what is important in life and is true to herself.
Kyla “Brilliant Rocky” Fleming is a grade 11 student at Nepal High School in Ottawa. She is 17 years old with a mind and soul for the arts. Things in life that puzzle her are the questions not yet answered and time itself, as those answers can always change and are always interesting to ponder. She is participating in these workshops for the artistic experience, as she loves to pour her soul into visual arts and drama. She also loves to sing and act with a passion that fuels her dreams of one day successfully acting out famous books for audiences all around the world. She loves to doodle as well as express herself through her work. This talented young woman loves books such as The Fault In Our Stars and movies such as Rise Of The Guardians. She aspires to one day travel to Japan for both the incredible culture and the anime. Kyla loves the colours teal and purple. She is an extremely selfless person who only sees happiness in the smiles and laughter of others, and values it greatly when she can make someone smile.
Maliya “Imaginative Herb” Charles is a fourteen-year old girl, born on February 28, 2000. She is in grade eight and goes to Bishop Smith Catholic High School. Her favourite subjects in school are math, English and drama. She likes math because it is an easy subject to learn and also it is fun. She likes drama because she really loves to act. She likes English because it has a poetry unit and she loves writing poetry—it is one of her favourite hobbies. Some more of her favourite hobbies are playing sports, swimming and photography. She like sports because she likes being active, and swimming because it’s fun. She likes photography because she likes seeing the world in the pictures she takes—she takes pictures of nature and people. In her family she has two parents and one sister named Paris. Her favourite thing to do with her family is going travelling.
Bree “Cute Cheesy” Cousineau is in grade nine at Mother Teresa Catholic High School in Barrhaven. She is 15 years old and has always lived in Ottawa, but she has moved to and from Kanata and Barrhaven many times. She expresses her creativity by painting, but she also likes music, travelling, being with her friends, and all art in general. She likes to paint because there are many different techniques to use while painting, and she also likes the visual perspective. When she grows up, she wants to do something that makes her happy, because there is nothing more important to her than happiness. She believes that happiness is generated through whatever you do, and that your own joy is in your hands. Other than happiness, she cherishes her loved ones, her creativity, and her education.
Olivia “Catastrophic Lustrum” McKenzie is a 13-year old girl in grade eight at Iona Academy in Williamstown, Ontario. She describes herself as a shy, creative person with a passion for writing poems and short stories. Her family, her friends, her two dogs, and her bunny are the most important things in her life. Her family includes her parents, her younger brother and sister. Olivia would not want to live without friends because they mean very much to her. You could find her playing her piano, or reading poetry in her spare time. She also plays hockey for the Glengarry Highlanders. Her favourite movie is The Titanic and she enjoys watching Castle. Olivia has many interests, but she has no idea who she wants to be in the future. The one thing that puzzles Olivia is why her younger sister has Retts Syndrome.
Megan “Contemplative Rocky” McBain is a grade eight student at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Cornwall, Ontario. She is 14 years old, and was born on January 30, 2000. She lives in Long Sault with her mother, father, two younger brothers Sam and Isaac, and her dog Jackson. Megan has been a vegetarian for a year and a half now, and plans on continuing this. Because she is vegetarian, she likes to cook her own vegetarian meals. She also loves to dance! She does ballet and contemporary dancing at Powell School of Dance. Megan’s Christian faith is a big part of her life, and is very important to her. Other things that are important to her include: her family, her happiness, and the happiness of her peers and those around her. Megan is a very curious, joyful, quiet and talented girl, and is a pleasure to everyone around her.