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Zipper Up

Matthew Hernandez, Wilson HS (Hacienda Heights)

Zip! Up goes my zipper and then a shiver down my spine. When I put on my winter jacket or zip up my dark denim jeans, I always have to play around with my zipper a couple of times. I don’t know how I got this weird habit but the onomatopoeia noise is just soothing to my ears. People have many different kinds of pleasurable sounds that relax them. They also might have some that make them cringe. It may be weird that my favorite sound is my zipper going up and down, but that is what makes me feel good throughout the day.

The sound that I created, whether it is from my jacket or jeans, can be considered an unusually strange habit of mine. I do not know where I picked it up from but it makes my day easier and keeps me busy while I walk around school. People have asked me numerous questions about why I consistently pull my zipper and I can’t answer without adding “I don’t know” into the reason.

I pull it up and there goes the high “zzzzzzip!” Then I bring it back down and the low “zzzzzip” comes out. The dark ominous sound of my zipper going down makes me want to pull it right back up, only causing me to pull it down once more, thus creating a chain reaction of zzzzzip!’s and zzzzzip’s only stopping if I’m questioned about my weird habit.

Honestly I do not really care if other people find it strange that I do this because it’s me and I do what I want to do. I just can’t control it. The sound of my zipper helps me zone out from the world. The only noise I hear is my zipper going up and down, up and down. I guess I can say that it helps me get through my day faster and without boredom. My favorite sound can show who I am. The high zzzzzzip! for my crazy, happy, energetic side and the low zzzzzip for when I am serious, focused and concentrating on what needs to be done. Without the sound of my zipper I would be a different person.

Bzzzzzz … it’s haircut time!

Miguel Gallardo, Workman HS (City of Industry)

My mom is a barber so I get haircuts about every two weeks exactly the way I want them and for free. This is pretty much the “mother and son” time we have together. I’m not sure exactly when it started because she’s been cutting my hair ever since I can remember, but it’s how I realized what my favorite sound was.

When I was little I used to hate getting haircuts because if I moved I would mess my mom up. And I was within easy reach to get a smack across the back of my head. So when my long hair started irritating my mom, she would come home with the clippers and yell for me to come downstairs with, “Haircut time cabezon” (Spanish for having a big head). I would say that I just took a shower, which I would purposely do to avoid a haircut. She would let me get away without one, sometimes. But eventually I would have to get one.

“Your hair is really thick and grows fast, just like your dad’s …” She would negatively say. (They divorced when I was about 11.) I couldn’t have cared less about how I dressed or how my hair looked because I was just a kid. But then I started to like the buzzing sound that signals the start of the machine, and how it would sort of massage my head when she started cutting it.

After I did some growing up and became more interested in how I dressed, which was when I started middle school, haircuts became a reward. I started calling her at work about every other Sunday afternoon. “Mom, can you—”

“Yeah, yeah I’ll bring ‘em but you better have washed the dishes, watered the grass and cleaned the stove,” she would say.

My reply would normally be, “I did it already, just make sure you bring them.” But then there would be days when I got on my mom’s bad side and she would sometimes punish me by not giving me a haircut. “Whatever then, I’ll just go get one where my dad gets his now and I’ll tip his barber.” I loved to get back at her by talking about my dad. But eventually she would give in and just cut my hair because she would feel “sorry” for me being in public that way. Then, that sound again, click-zzzzzzzzz.

Getting a haircut is pretty much me spending time with my mom. She works from about 9 in the morning to 8:30 at night. The only day she gets out early is Sunday, which is usually around 5. Which makes Sunday my haircut day because she comes home way less tired than she usually does. It’s perfect because I go to school the next day with a fresh clean cut. Me and my mom talk about what we did that the week. I’ll tell her about how I’m doing in school and she’ll tell me some stories about her annoying and funny clients from work. We spend a good half hour talking about what’s new and I know she tries to make the most of it.

So it all starts out with a click-zzzzzzzzz, then the time I get to spend with my mom starts. Looking good the next day with a free haircut isn’t so bad either. This is why the buzzing from clippers is my favorite sound.

Construction workers hammering
is the sound of generosity

By Adriana Moreno, Paramount HS

You might think that the sound of construction workers hammering and hitting on wood is the worst sound ever, but I can tell you it’s not. Throughout my childhood my family didn’t have enough money to buy things we needed. There was a church near where we lived. Every Saturday at 6 a.m. they would give out food to people in need, and we would always be there. The church people would always help us because my dad would fix the things that were broken and since the church was small things always broke. I would always hear my dad hammering and hitting on wood trying to fix things.

My house wasn’t the worst or best home ever but I loved it because it felt safe. We had fights, drama and peace but either way I felt proud of being in that house with my family because I knew that no matter what happens we are still here for each other. When some part of our house was breaking apart I would hear him hammering and trying to fix the pipes that were broken.

My father is a good man because in times of need he never charged people for his work. Now we stand tall. We walk with our heads up high knowing that we were never going to be down again. My father showed me strength throughout the years and told me that when I’m older I should help people in need and become like the people that helped us because giving feels better than receiving.

Now that I’m older I have helped families in need. I have helped fix houses. I have helped take food to the needy. My dad is proud of me because I can say that I helped someone and saw a smile on their face and heard “thank you so much” and “God will repay you for everything you have done.” Now whenever I hear construction workers or any other person hammering wood or trying to fix something, I will remember my father’s words, “giving feels better than receiving.”

Missing the crunch

Marlene Noriega, Workman HS

Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! I hear someone making a peculiar but familiar sound. A sound that I have missed and love, but I stopped hearing two years ago. When I turned, I saw a little girl biting into a big round object. Oh how I missed the sound that I have attempted a couple times but it just wasn’t the same.

Have you guessed what the mystery object is? It is an apple. Apples are my favorite fruit and I love the sound they make when bitten into. It’s like a crunch but with some sort of an echo as well. When I was little, I would hear my oldest sister bite into them and I would wait for my grown-up teeth to grow in so I could do the same. When that finally happened, I would go crazy for them. Sadly my teeth began to grow crooked so something had to be done. I went to the dentist and was told that I had to get braces.

I was a little excited but afraid at the same time. The thought of wire on my teeth frightened me a little. I heard many stories from other people who had them. Some said, “It’s painful! Don’t get them. Trust me.” While others said, “Yeah they hurt but trust me, they’re worth it. It’s not the kind of pain that you can’t take.” Well I really had no choice but it was nice to know what was waiting for me.

Around July I finally had them on and I could practically not eat anything! They were painful at first, to the point that I couldn’t even eat soup! Finally it got better but still I couldn’t eat apples. I was a bit sad and wanted to eat them. Soon I was able to cut them up and eat the slices. Then I was able to bite pieces off of the actual apple, but by dragging my bottom teeth across the apple to get as much as I could. No crunch sound was made but I still got the delicious sweet taste.

I’ve lived with this for two years now and am just waiting for the day to get this metal out of my mouth. I still won’t be able to bite into apples after they’re off and will wait another two years after the retainers. Then it’ll be all over and worth it in the end and I will have my sweet crunchy apple once again.

The serene bounce of a tennis ball

Julia Chen, West Covina HS

“Dok, dok.” The steady beat of the tennis balls as they bounce around the court is a sound that I love. No matter how stressed out I am, a few minutes on the court can calm me down. The feeling of the vibration of the racket in my hand and the feeling of flight as I dash around the court is exhilarating. But most of all, the sounds of the tennis balls is a lullaby to me, easing me into happy memories.

As a thin girl, I’ve never had the strength to be an athlete, but I have always loved sports. My parents, thinking my small stature would allow for many injuries, did not allow me to join any sports. As a result, I spent most of my time focusing on academics. I constantly looked forward to the day when I would finally find a sport I could play. When I was in the seventh grade, my older sister joined her high school tennis team. I went to support her one day at one of her games. Prior to seeing my sister compete, I had thought of tennis as a seemingly boring sport. My whole perspective toward the sport changed that day. I instantly fell in love with the game, or should I say, the sound of the tennis ball as it bounced back and forth across the court.

After days of hearing my relentless begging, my sister finally agreed to let me try my hand at tennis. Ecstatic, I stepped onto the court for the first time one Saturday morning. My sister’s racket gripped awkwardly in my hand, I watched intently as she slowly tossed the ball to me. I waited for one bounce … swung as hard as I could … and completely missed. But I was not discouraged. I prepared to try again, impatiently waiting for my sister to stop laughing.

It took me quite a few tries, but at long last, I finally hit the ball. I will never forget the first time the “dok” sound came from the racket that I held in my own hand; my stance was ghastly, and the “lucky” ball I hit sailed way over the fence. Even so, I felt the joy of triumph as the echo of the “dok, dok” rang in my ears. I practiced whenever I had the chance, always looking forward to the next “dok.”

All through seventh and eighth grade, I couldn’t wait to get into high school, for no other reason than to join the tennis team. When that long awaited day finally came—the first day of tryouts for our high school tennis team—I was brimming with anticipation. After an hour of monotonous stretching I was disappointed to hear that we were next going to spend even more time conditioning. We were all collapsed on the floor, exhausted from the strenuous workout none of us were accustomed to, when we finally heard the coaches say that we were going to begin hitting tennis balls. I jumped up and eagerly grabbed my shiny new racket from its case as my excitement clouded my exhaustion. Even after I made the girls junior varsity tennis team, I would brave the torments of painful conditioning each day just so I could play tennis, and hear the “dok, dok” sound.

I played numerous games and grew accustomed to hearing the competitive rallies echoing around me. The rhythm of the games gave me energy as I dashed around, laughing and smiling whenever I contributed to the “dok, dok” melody. Even if I did not win a game, I never regretted the time I spent on the court.

The sound of a tennis ball as it flies across the court means a lot to me. The sound reminds me of the very first time I watched my sister play tennis, and how captivated I was. It reminds me of all the good times I had playing tennis, whether I won or lost. But most of all, it reminds me of the hope I had felt when I found out that I too could become an athlete, making me believe that anything is possible. The sound of the tennis ball was what brought me onto the court, and what will forever keep me there.

The sound of kitchen magic

Kimberly Giron, Paramount HS

Click, click, click! Heaven is calling. My favorite sound is the sound of the knobs being turned slowly, as the gas from my stove is gradually released. As the fire on the stove lights, I know that a masterpiece will soon be made. Cooking is my passion. I plan to become a chef and if not, I still plan to continue cooking. The saying goes, if you love it so much why don’t you marry it? Trust me, if I could I would. Food is love. It doesn’t matter what time it is, where you’re at or who you’re with, food will always be divine. It doesn’t judge you. In fact, we judge the food. There are no limits when preparing a meal. Hearing the sound of the gas starting up and the flame’s whoosh puts a smile on my face. I’m able to make something that not only I can enjoy but others as well. One sound can make my day light up just like the flames on my stove.

My priest’s sermons

Rafael Aracena, Gardena HS

It’s a Sunday morning an I’m putting on my clothes to go to church. Black slacks, black shoes and a black, collared long-sleeve shirt. I made it to church and as I open the doors I hear the wonderful sound of the choir. I sit down and listen closely to the words of my church. Then my priest comes in, and I get thrilled about hearing the Word from him.

The sound of my priest speaking is my favorite sound. Hearing his voice gets me excited, as I listen to what he says. The intense amount of energy that he brings, the amazing effect that he has on people and the joy he brings to the church not only makes us happy, but it tells us what we need to do to get better. He gives us a speech from the Bible and then breaks it down and explains to us what it means. As I admire his speech and he gets loud filling the room with joy, everyone starts to get up and shout “That’s right! Amen to that!” and some “God bless.”

In times when I am sad, angry, jealous, upset or disappointed, the sound of his voice glorifies my day. I feel free of evil, envy and everything that had me feeling down. Sometimes I talk to him about my problems after church. Everything he tells me helps me.

After church, I go through my day with his words in my head, attempting to do well and following the rules that I need to follow so that I progress in life. I wait for the next Sunday when I will enter the doors and hear his voice that soothes my day and life.

The voice of my priest is my favorite sound to hear all the time at any time. I feel great when I hear it. I feel like everything goes easy for the rest of the day. Nothing else can compare to it. Myself and others may say that it is God who we hear those Sunday mornings. If only you could hear it, you, too, would enjoy that presence.

Click here to read the winning essays

Next essay contest—What era would you live in?

If you could choose any time—past, present or future—to live in, what would it be? Maybe you’ve dreamed about what it would be like to live during a certain time period, like when dinosaurs roamed. Or maybe you wish you could have witnessed a historical event, like marching with Martin Luther King Jr. Perhaps you could see yourself living in Elizabethan England, the Old West or the peace and love of the 60s. Some of you might imagine what living in a future world would be like or maybe you love your life and the potential of the world at this time, right now. Describe your life in your ideal era and explain to us why you’d want to live then.


L.A. Youth 
5967 W. 3rd St. Ste. 301
Los Angeles CA 90036



Deadline: Friday, Feb. 20, 2009