Room 204 Beyond the Sun


Anisa Lateef, Styles Associate

Scientists are preparing to unveil a new universe, which has been deemed both “quieter than the library” and “like the kid playroom at Ikea.” The universe consists of one planet in the Chocolate-Milky Way galaxy called “The Qniverse.” NASA sent Astronaut Anisa Lateef to explore.

March 10th, 2017

NASA originally sent me to research the “Brexit” of the Milky Way- Pluto- but my ship malfunctioned and got trapped in a force field pulling me towards this glittery and glowing planet. They say that you are never looking for Qniverse, it just finds you.

After landing in a Crayola marker crater, Lex Decker greets me at the space station. I ask him what an outsider should look for in the Qniverse. “That’s hard. I would say expecting the unexpected, and being comfortable with being uncomfortable, because I feel like this conditions you to be ready for anything,” says Decker. Quite the introduction.

I walk down the station and along the bedazzled trail. A space suit is not necessary for protection since the environment is eerily similar to that of Earth’s, plus some extra features including streams of velvety music, rocks with doodled expressions, and pools of Photoshop galore.

Underneath a neon constellation of Spongebob the Caveman, I spot a man lying in a psychedelic rainbow field. He’s known as Peter Shannon. When asked how he would describe the Qniverse, his cool response is, “It’s a place where you can feel free to boogie and get away from actual high school for a while. It’s a warm discoteque of love.” Groovy.

I stroll farther down the lavender path, only to pass a pair of NASA scientists: Atticus Rego and Russell Kirczow.

Rego, a scientist who has spent the last six months researching the velvety terrain, hypothesizes that the Qniverse environment supports “the healing factor from the bacteria of a splash of urine peed from atop the ‘eitflle’ tower while helicopters and police sirens surround, flashing blue and red lights.”

Senior physicist Kirczow describes the nature of the Qniverse to me: “It’s like you took the states of matter and shifted them to the left.” It is a mathematical mystery to most.

After that, my first official stop is the main neighborhood called Quote Boarding, which houses all residents, visitors, and Mayor Q (whom the planet is named after). It is a smorgasbord of homes, ski cabins, barns, trailers, quaint villas, contemporary apartments, and tents.

I asked some girls fresh off the ship (meaning their eyes were still full of 8-hour earth sleep) to describe their time in the Qniverse so far:

Skylar Mundenar describes it as, “Special. Fun, definitely. Something funky is always going on here.”

Gia Massari says, ”You know, I never get bored because I look at all the pictures around. It gets creative. It gets my brain going in the morning because it has that creativeness.”

Like in any big neighborhood, people can ask their neighbors for anything in Quote Boarding. Q is the landlord. He comes to collect rent and throws the sickest house parties. The girls tell me that every night, Q holds a communal bonfire open to all, and I should come back at sunset.

To pass time, I continue to explore the colorful neighborhood.

Jaclyn Gary is busy cultivating her sour-watermelon-candy garden. She says the Qniverse has been her home for two years now, describing it as a place “where lost people can come to be found and found people can help become lost again.”

To the left of her holographic home lives the royal family of wooden planks: Mr. Plank, Mrs. Plank, and Baby Plank. They have nothing to comment.

Next, I knock on the aluminum door of Gary’s neighbor’s place. I ask to interview the boy, Jimmy O’Connor, about the Qniverse. According to him, “It’s my living room. Q is my father, and my brother is David, and we have to spend time with our family, but sometimes you don’t wanna spend time with your family, you wanna spend time alone or with your friends.”

As the fuchsia sun starts to set below the s-quigley horizon, kids from every home gather for a bonfire in the center octagon.

George Cole, carrying buckets of trail mix, stops and tells me about his experience. “It’s a keyhole into the creative mind that many students struggle to be able to find. It’s the first steps into acceptance, creativity, and self-awareness for a lot of students at PDS.”

Diggy Coit, balancing trays of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pauses from setting up and reveals to me the true meaning of the Qniverse. “I think it’s a universe for you, for what you are. It’s open. It’s free. The Qniverse expresses whatever you make it…it’s kind of your universe. Everybody has their own universe, and that’s what makes it a Qniverse.”

To summarize, my time in the Qniverse (including relationships, questions, and thoughts) is because of one teacher: a man called “Q.” He concocted a space for kids to come in and smile, laugh, learn, experiment, and grow. He fills the atmosphere with a “laissez faire” attitude to help us survive the lightning-hailing-tornadoing storm of high school.  In essence, the Qniverse is a student sanctuary created by a man wearing exquisite pizza socks and a pair of Birkenstocks.