Seniors of CPS: Claire D.
What’s your favorite memory from CPS?
“Oh wow, that’s hard. There’s just so many because there’s so many people that I’ve met through different things so it’s hard to pick one. I mean… I’m sorry I’m not going to be as bad as this.” (later)
“I’m trying to think back. It’s just crazy to think that four years have passed. Four years, that’s crazy. This isn’t my favorite memory, because there are too many good memories with friends, but there’s this one that I remember really vividly because looking back it was the most embarrassing thing and I still get made fun of for it. It was a couple weeks into [my freshman] year, so I didn’t really know what was happening at all, and the volleyball team was having a volleyball team sleepover. I think when you’re a freshman and you’re hanging out with seniors and juniors it’s a little bit intimidating… especially if you don’t know them–I did [eventually] get to know them, and they’re great, we’re still friends. At the time, I was just really intimidated. I remember Grace [A.] and Liney were driving me to meet [the rest of the team] at Green Bubble before we went to our team sleepover. It was me, Liney, and Grace in the car and they were listening to music. We [didn’t] really know each other yet, and I’m just sitting in the back seat, and they’re like, ‘So, Claire, what kind of music do you like?’ For me, that kind of question… at the time, I was like, ‘I don’t know what kind of music I listen to.’ I’m always scared I’m gonna be judged by that. So I just said, ‘Uh, I don’t really listen to music.’ And they were like, ‘What?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I just don’t… I just don’t listen to music.’ And they were like ‘What do you mean?’ and I was like ‘Yeah, I just don’t do it.’ They looked at each other and were like ‘This girl… what the hell, this girl is so weird.’ I was just thinking to myself, ‘You dumb *****, why’d you say that.’ And literally a couple of months later that was something that I felt comfortable enough with them to bring it up, and it was something we could laugh about. That’s just a really funny memory.
Also, the way I met Ella also had to do with volleyball… We met at a volleyball open gym. She didn’t really play volleyball; it was something new, I guess, for her. I had played for a while, so I was sitting there and the first thing I ever said to her–I didn’t know how to make friends– was just like, ‘You look like a soccer player.’ She was like ‘What’ and I was like, ‘Do you play soccer? You look like a soccer player.’ She was like, ‘I mean, yeah, I guess.’ I sort of just paused there, for a second, and we were just standing around, staring at each other after that really weird question, like, from somebody that you don’t know. And then after a second I go, ‘Should we go set up the nets? I know how to do it, but I don’t know if we should set it up or not.’ And it just comes out as the most snarky, arrogant person, a little freshman who thinks she knows things. I just didn’t know how to talk to people in a normal way. That’s something that we still make fun of.
Then also–sorry, these keep building off of each other. But Johanna [Ms. L], her mom was my delivery nurse. I think Jessica’s, too, and some other people, just because 2002 babies, all around the same time. But one of the first things I said to Johanna was like, ‘Do you know your mom delivered me?’ Looking back on it, that was probably my favorite memory, just to succinctly close this out. My favorite memories are just being able to look back at the dumb **** I said freshman year and just be like, ‘Why were you so–’ like, I had no filter. I still kind of don’t; I still just say whatever pops up into my mind. But, I don’t know, I think I’ve grown enough to be like, ‘Don’t have that be the first thing you ever say to somebody, like “your mom delivered me” or “you look like a soccer player.”’”
Who’s the most influential person in your life?
“Probably my friends, I’d say. Not any specific person; they’ve all been influential in different ways and they all have supported me in different ways that have helped me become the person that I am. So, yeah, I think my friends are my favorite influences… Like, the ways that friends show up for you–throughout the whole college process, for example. That’s obviously a super stressful thing and I think the fact that most of my friends were going through it as well… you’re able to support each other through that. I feel like it’s hard to pinpoint specific experiences, just because you’re going through everything together and you’re able to support each other throughout the entire high school experience… Sorry if that’s a bad answer.”
Has someone ever saved your life?
“When I was a baby-ish… I was walking home from preschool with my nanny, and… you know when curves are slightly elevated? So I tripped on the curve and I fell headfirst into it and cracked my skull and… yeah. So I guess my nanny because she took care of me. But the thing is, they didn’t even know that my skull was cracked until years later when they did a CT scan because I’m deaf. They were figuring out what was happening with my hearing and they were like, ‘Bruh, your skull is cracked.’ So you know what? That’s not even life-saving. I save my own life!”
Tell me about your pet(s).
“Okay, so right now I have a dog, her name is Lola, and she’s bilingual, which is really snazzy because we love bilingual doggos. You can just say, like, ‘Lola, ven!’ and she’ll come, or you can be like, ‘Lola, here.’ She’s just multifaceted. A beautiful, beautiful dog; love her, my best friend.
However, I did have a past in which I had three hamsters and two cats, so let me tell you the stories of these creatures. My three hamsters all died from different causes. The first one was a little blond one–I forget what his name was. Basically, my sister took him to school in elementary school for show-and-tell, and then it was raining that day, so it caught a cold and then it died. My second hamster was named Caramelo and was a little caramel-colored whatever. And he was really buff, like, really swol, buff as hell. So, he pushed open the door to his cage and he ran into the heater. We didn’t know so we turned on the heater and then, I guess, he exploded. RIP, I guess. It smelled really bad. And then the third one died because we left it with a friend when we went on vacation and the friend forgot to feed it… Even though they forgot to feed it, they left the bag of food, and the poor little hamster, I imagine, was just sitting there like, ‘It’s so close but so far.’ And he was so hungry that he reached through the bars and was trying to gnaw open the bag and ate the plastic and then died. So, that was horrible.
And then I also had two cats. One’s name was Yellow–I named it Yellow because he was a yellow cat. He wasn’t actually our cat; what happened was I started feeding it because it kept coming by and I was too young to know that that’s, like, stealing. So I accidentally stole a cat and named it Yellow. I think it was a girl, actually. Whatever. And then my last cat was Pepito, Pepe for short. He also passed away from old age. Then there was a period between when I had my last cat and my parents let me get my dog where I was protesting. I was going through a really hardcore survival phase so I felt like I needed an animal to be, like, my best friend, you know? In protest, I started getting snails from the garden, and I collected snails because I was like, ‘My mom thinks these are the grossest-*** things that you will ever see.’ It actually was nasty, it was, like, a little tub filled with snails, and their poo was everywhere, it was just gross. I was just like, ‘My mom is gonna think this is so gross that she’s gonna cave and I’m gonna get a dog.’ And I mean, now I have a dog, so you tell me if it worked. So those are my pets. Not a single [death] was my fault, except for the snails. I will take full responsibility for those.”
What are you most proud of?
“I think, just–I don’t know. CPS can feel like a really difficult atmosphere to be in–academically, for one, it’s just so competitive….In middle school you think you’re the…the hoot of the–I was about the cuss, but I stopped. You think you’re, like, all that, and then you get here and you realize everybody’s so smart. I don’t know, for me that was kind of hard to deal with, just because I wasn’t used to struggling a lot in classes and… there was a lot of stuff in my personal life that was also difficult. So, like, a lot of stuff piled on over and over and over and it’s just the stress that comes with that really academically rigorous atmosphere. Honestly, I’m most proud of not having given up on myself and that I kept pushing on, finding things that I know that I am good at. I am working at those and trying to become a better person with the things I do well.”
What is something you want to leave behind at CPS?
“Um… you know what I have left behind at CPS?” (laughs) “Last day of PHIRE classes–no, it was last semester–I brought them all hot chocolate, and it’s sitting in my locker. There’s like four pounds of hot chocolate just sitting in my locker. I don’t know what’s gonna happen to it! There’s also some marshmallows in there. So, if anyone’s, like, thirsty, I guess, go ham. But that, quite literally, is what I’ve left behind at CPS.
I don’t know, I think… I don’t know what to leave behind. I think just the mentality of comparison, maybe. Just because other people are good at one thing… that’s wonderful for them, that’s something that they’re good at in the same way that there are some things that I’m good at and they [might not be good at], you know? And I think it’s taken me a while to realize that everyone has their own strengths and that it’s not a bad thing to have weaknesses. Even the term ‘weakness’ makes me think, ‘oh this is bad,’ but it’s not. Because” (doing a funny, dramatic voice) “weaknesses are just room for growth! Hell yeah! Yeah, so that mentality. And my hot chocolate.”
What’s a story you tell that no one believes?
“This might take me a second. Dude, I honestly don’t know if I have one. Well, I guess the hamsters. Can we repeat it?” (laughing). “Like, ‘ditto the hamsters story.’ Oh, well I guess by extension of the hamster story, I also catnapped another cat from a neighbor that I named Tiger, even though that’s not its name. This was also in the whole snail phase. I had it in my room in a little box. Not closed off, but in a little bed thing. I was feeding it and then my parents found out and made me give it back.”
What’s your favorite place in the world?
“Well, actually, I went to Ireland a few years ago, and… that place is magical, I’m telling you. If anyone ever has the opportunity to go to Ireland, go. It is gorgeous there, it is always raining there, absolutely love the smell of rain, and everyone is so frickin’ nice! What the hell! We were lost in Dublin one night, and we stopped and asked this woman and she was walking home and she gave us the directions and my dad kept asking questions because he was still confused and then she was like, “you know what, I’ll just show you” and she went out of her way to walk us to where we were supposed to be going. I was like, “dang, y’all… y’all Irish people…’” (suddenly) “I’m Irish. Well, not completely, but partly. But I love Ireland, I really do. … I love the rain and that kind of weather but I don’t love being in it, being rained on. Anywhere you can be warm outside, see a nice view, be comfortable, and be surrounded by people that you’re comfortable with is [what I like]. Ireland is that in a country. I’d say Ireland.”
What’s your favorite book of all time?
“Can’t you ask movie? I have so many movies. No, I’ll answer your question first, and then I’ll diverge. My favorite book… serious book, Plum Bun, and not serious book… Diary of a Wimpy Kid slaps, and everyone’s gonna fight me on that, but I’m standing by that, it slaps. Plum Bun is a book we read my sophomore year, no, my junior year, in Harlem Renaissance, that Dr. T teaches. I don’t know, it’s just such a good book. It’s about, like, being mixed and passing as white at the time–the book is set at… I forget when. I’m doing such bad job at explaining this. It’s a good book, just read it, I promise! Just trust me on this, just trust me. It’s a good book.
But, can I do movies? Okay, so right now in quarantine I’ve had a lot of time to watch movies and I’ve realized that I really A24 movies, so all those, like, coming-of-age, indie, you know, movies. So this isn’t a hard list but I really love But I’m a Cheerleader, it’s a really good movie from the 90s. It’s about a gay conversion camp, which sounds really depressing but I promise it’s a really funny movie but also sweet and, I don’t know. It has a really weird style and the whole set, the whole movie set is just really brightly colored and Wes Anderson vibes but not him, you know? I also really love Ladybird, because that’s a good staple; Devil Wears Prada; Mid90s. I saw Midsommar the other day, with Florence Pugh. My. Fricken. Word. Never join a cult, is all I’m saying. Never go on a sketchy trip to Sweden, or wherever they were, with some guy you barely know. But that is a good movie. I think I like horror movies, but movies that are more, like, psychologically terrifying, because you know that a lot of it is pinned in reality. That freaks me out more, but I love it. I love, like, being freaked out in that way. Those are just some of them. Oh, all the Miyazaki movies, like Spirited Away, all those movies, they’re so good. Sorry, I really just squashed your book question there.”
If I asked you at age 5 what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would you say?
“The way I went about my childhood was I grew up going through different phases. You know everybody says, “oh, the emo phase, oh, it’s just a phase.’ But the thing is, I had so many phases–like I had a spy phase, a hardcore spy phase, for like, three or four years, where all I wanted to do was be a spy, and I would, like, only wear black, and I would have all my spy utilities, and I would go to school this way. You don’t understand; I would roll around in the fricken playground, going under the slide and stuff, because I legitimately thought I was a spy. I mean, if my stories about animals haven’t already revealed to you that I love animals, there was a really long period of time where I wanted to be a vet. Also, I wanted to be an actress for the longest time, then I realized I can’t act for the life of me, which is still a little bit sad, maybe we’ll circle back to that one. Yeah, I don’t know… astronaut? It was really, like, all the basic little kid answers, you know? Or president. Hey, you never know. You never know!”
What’s something you want to do before you graduate college?
“I want to go bungee jumping. Does it have to be college-related? Like, bungee jumping, skydiving, that sort of thing. Also, for some reason lately I’ve been really into fashion and the fashion world, even though I know absolutely nothing about it. But I would love to find people in college who do know about that stuff and learn from them. And maybe go on a trip to Paris, or some random thing. Do something like that; spend time in another country that doesn’t feel suffocating like America does at the moment. No comment.”
What’s your biggest regret from your time at CPS?
“I feel like I waited a really long time to get involved with student activities. I always played volleyball, and I played sports since freshman year, but when it comes to, like, student class rep, or whatever, little things like that, there was always a part of me that wanted to do them but I never really did. It wasn’t until this year with PHIRE that I got more of a leadership position. I don’t know, there are definitely people I know who did get involved earlier on, but for me, there was always a part of me that was like, ‘Well, I’m still a freshman, what the hell, no one wants to listen to me.’ I think I let that get in the way of it. I don’t know, it’s hard, I tried to, like… this might be bad to say in an interview, but I tried to talk to more people and expand my circle, or whatever really early on. I found that was really hard to do. I kind of wish that people could move past their groups and be like, ‘Hey, even though it’s senior year you can still talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to.’ There are people who I see, and I see how they act around people and I’m like, ‘I feel like I’d be really good friends with you. I already see from afar that we have a lot in common, but if I try to talk to you it never really goes anywhere.’”
Who’s you favorite musical artist?
“Oh, I have a lot. I mean, genre, if I’m gonna go there is R&B, rap, but also… you know, like Claro? Artists like that, who are kind of more… indie pop? But not that, that sounds gross. Artists like Jhené Aiko, Rhianna, Lil Peel–I fricken love Lil Peep, RIP, love you. Mac Miller, love Mac Miller, RIP, love you. They’re all dead! Yeah, Claro, I’ve been listening to a lot. Tierra Whack! I’ve been listening to… I don’t know, I’m always open to suggestions… Stevie Wonder. But really, my staples are R&B.”
What’s a skill you wish you could have?
“Singing. Sing-ing! Here’s the thing: I’m a visual person… I wrote poetry… I’ve written poetry all my life, which isn’t the same as music, but it’s kind of the same basis, essentially. So, I don’t know, I’ve always been really drawn to the music industry and I love music–which is ironic because I’m deaf in one ear, I’m literally tone-deaf. I got kicked out–this is a good story that you can put for the last question! I got kicked out of the chorus. I did the San Francisco Girls Chorus when I was in fourth grade through sixth grade, but I got held back in level one twice, and then they kicked me out because I’m bad at singing. So I really wish I could sing because whenever I want to make music videos or something–going back to me saying I’m a visual person… you know, this interview is going to be all over the place, I’m so sorry, I’m not trying, it’s just how I am. But when I listen to music I’m always able to see, like… if I were making a music video, what would I do, what shots would I want. That’s something I can do because I’m into film and I like doing that stuff already, but I just wish that I could sing and produce my own music, and then make my own video to it. That sort of creative side of the industry is really appealing to me and I don’t want to be in some cubicle for the rest of my life. I wanna be able to do things with my hands and my voice, in this case, and actually make stuff. I wish I could do that.
I also wish I could dance, that’s another one. I’m a terrible dancer, it’s not really funny. But I do love dancing on my own, it’s one of my favorite pastimes, I just dance in my room. Anyway, yeah.”
(later) “Also, I hated Girls Chorus, I hated it. Want me to sing you a piece of a song? This is the funniest thing. No, put this for the story that nobody believes! When I was in San Francisco Girls Chorus they had us sing this song and it goes like this: ‘Old Abram Brown is dead and gone, you’ll never see him more! He used to wear a long brown coat that buttoned down before.’ Those are the only lines of the song and then you’d just go into canon, where people start blaring that, over and over again. That’s what they had us sing and, mind you, I’m like a third grader, singing that. And then to make matters worse, they had us perform in an old person home, like, a retirement home, and they had us sing that song. So imagine, like, fifteen seven-year-olds coming to you and singing about how Old Abram Brown is dead and gone and you’ll never see him more, and you’re like 90 years old. What the hell? So that. What was the question?”
If there is one thing that you think everyone should know about you, what would it be?
“That’s so hard. I don’t know. Can I get, like, a reference of what other people have said? I don’t know. Maybe, like, not to be too similar to both Cari and Emily, but I do like meeting new people. I think that just comes from, like, I like learning new things and I’m really open to trying things that I haven’t done before. I… I wrote a book? I wrote a book when I was in the second grade called Pickle’s Great Adventure that was about a dog, a yellow dog, who had its favorite green bone by a big fat purple dog by Bully. The dog’s name was Bully. Can you guess what he was? He was a bully. He stole the bone. So I wrote a book about that, and they actually, like published it. So technically I’m a published author at the sweet age of second grade. So if anyone’s interested in that tidbit of my life, in second grade, then that’s it, there you go.”
Bonus question: Why do you have cereal boxes pasted to your back wall?
“Why? Literally no reason. There is no story behind it, I just like having really random things in my room. For example, this is my piñata head from senior night. They got me a piñata and it came out as a head and I thought it would be really funny–you know how people mount animal heads on walls? I was like, ‘This is like the vegan alternative.’ I’m not vegan but I don’t want a dead animal on my wall. I thought it was funny. I also have the Betty Boop thing from the science office. I started making a doodle wall, where I put all my doodles from all my classes. I don’t know; everything in my room is really random but it’s things that I find funny in a really dumb way or I decided to paint because I was feeling creative that day. It just adds to the aesthetic. Although, fun fact, I really hate the world aesthetic. It’s one of my least favorite words.”
Claire continued talking, so I made a second recording. This is that second recording:
“There’s a sandwich place by my house–this was actually like, fairly recently like a couple of years ago. As you know now, I’m 100% deaf in one ear. So I was in this restaurant that was like–you know the ones where there’s a worker behind the thing and they add stuff as you go along–what is that called? Whatever, just call it Chipotle style! So I was at one of those and I saw on the menu that there was a chicken salad. For some reason I didn’t read it correctly; it said ‘chicken salad sandwich’ but I didn’t process in my brain that that was happening, so I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll have the chicken salad.’ When he heard me say that he assumed ‘chicken salad sandwich’ so he started making a sandwich and then I was just like, ‘fine, I’ll do a sandwich.’ And then he started asking me if I wanted to add stuff. And, you know, a chicken salad sandwich is kind of weird if you add a lot of things on top. But he was like, ‘Oh, do you want cheddar cheese? Oh, do you want pickles? He kept saying all these things but this place was so loud that I couldn’t hear what this man was saying. So I was trying to read his lips–which I can usually do, I’m a fairly good lip reader–but for some reason I couldn’t today, so I kept just saying yes. So you know when you can’t hear someone and you don’t want to keep telling them to repeat themselves because you get embarrassed? That happens to anyone, you don’t have to be deaf for that to happen. But that kept happening to me, so I kept saying yes to everything, and I ended up with this sandwich that had everything. It had chicken salad, cheddar cheeses, swiss cheese, all these random things that I spent my money on because I was too embarrassed to be like, “I’m deaf, I did not hear a word you said.’ It’s also why I failed my drivers test. She said, ‘Don’t pull over here!’ and I heard her say, ‘Pull over here!’ So I pulled over and she said ‘Why did you just stop in this intersection when it’s illegal to do so?’ I’m like, ‘It’s just because I can’t hear you, I don’t know what to say!’ I have a lot of deaf-people stories–well, I don’t want to say ‘deaf people stories–’ I’m perfectly fine, I can hear fine. Just times that I have not been able to understand people, there are just so many embarrassing things that come out of that. It’s not annoying, it’s just embarrassing on a daily basis.”