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Writing becomes a million times harder knowing anyone with an internet connection has the ability to see these words. I freeze up picturing strangers’ eyes combing through my thoughts. Even with face book posts it takes half an hour to push through this freeze and write one measly explanatory sentence describing a picture. This morning I procrastinated writing a post, playing Plants Vs. Zombies on my phone and eating chocolate chips even though I was not hungry. But if I ever want to be a published author for a living, I will have to get over the freeze up someday.
There’s no such thing as having everything on a to-do list completed. This weekend I felt so happy thinking I’d finished homework. I sat on the couch for several minutes reveling in the feeling, wondering what to do with this freedom. I made quinoa brownies. Today, discovered a whole chapter of psychology I forgot to read. Figures. For psyc I wrote a scientific report. It was the easiest paper to write. I didn’t have to think too hard about literary devices that make writing brilliant. But it’s the most boring paper I’ve ever written.
I finally have my own room. My sister and I shared one ever since she graduated from a crib, but lately she’s a pain to be around. To put some distance between ourselves, I moved out to a room across the hall. It feels weird sleeping in a different room. Even my bed feels different, but that could be because one of the screws got lost in the moving process. The bed now wobbles like a rocking horse. It doesn’t yet feel like the room belongs to me. Maybe once my stuff gets organized it'll feel more homey.
What I ate today: peanut butter granola cereal with almond milk, grocery store blueberries, and crushed flaxseeds; assorted spicy nut mix of peanuts, almonds, cashews, and pecans; canned Indian dal curried lentil soup with steamed grocery store broccoli and farmers’ market brussels sprouts (the broccoli tasted like plastic; the brussels sprouts were delicious despite being shriveled from age); homemade quinoa brownie with melted Skippy natural peanut butter, golden farmers’ market honey, and crushed flaxseeds on top; more brussels sprouts; and organic stone ground crackers with garlic spaghetti sauce. For dinner I will probably have pumpkin ravioli with garlic spaghetti sauce.
My jeans pocket contains a sky blue cleaning cloth for my glasses, a watch with a faded rainbow cloth band, a mangled kleenex, and two red rubber bands that used to wrap around red russian kale bunches from the last farmers’ market. The cup holder in my car holds the top half of a red crayon from a restaurant, a bronze button, a dead fly, and pea-sized pieces of dried leaves. One pouch in my backpack contains a children’s author-themed deck of cards, a green umbrella, gray fingerless gloves, and an Annie’s chocolate chip granola bar.
Grades never made any sense. I think what a student learns outside the classroom is more important. For the psychology report I found a partner and confronted students to ask them a question. I went up to thirteen students. Thirteen! This was no easy feat; talking to strangers is hard! After collecting data, I sat with my partner and ate lunch while she chatted to her friends. Being there was also difficult, but I learned about myself and the ways of modern teenagers. This insight won’t be reflected in my grade, yet it’s more important than our research.
I never thought it was possible to feel homesick in your own house. While cleaning out boxes in my new room, I discovered an article I thought my sister would like. I walked over to her room, the room that we used to share, and plopped the newspaper on her bed. I turned to go, but felt an urge to open the window blind and see the view of the backyard, a sight I’ve seen every day for the 9 years I’d been sleeping there. It ached seeing familiar objects while knowing I don’t belong there anymore.
My sister's terrified of stink bugs. She yelps and dashes out of the room when they fly. I grew tired of picking up stink bugs on her command, so now she pays me with a used postage stamp to carry them outside. (I reuse stamps for crafts.) Last night as I was making butternut squash cookies, a stink bug fell from the ceiling and marched towards a little of the batter that spilled on the counter. It drew out its straw tongue and drank the sugary liquid. It wanted water. Maybe bugs are more human than they get credit for.
A ledge above the kitchen sink contains many of my miscellaneous plants: a pale green aloe with spikes that my grandfather gave me because he had an extra, two dead growths of kale stubs that one day I’ll save the seeds from, two apple tree shoots even though people have told me apples don’t grow from their seeds, a long-lived cabbage stub six inches tall, two vine spinach plants from yogurt cups started by an 11 year old at the farmers’ market, a carrot top with white roots growing in a plastic applesauce container filled with water.
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My dad's girlfriend's refrigerator broke. She wanted my dad’s help picking out a replacement because of his experience in appliance shopping. While I can understand wanting help navigating various models, I don't think it was best bringing him along. What if they break up? If they do, every time the girlfriend sees her new refrigerator, she will remember shopping for it with my dad. It will be a horrible reminder. Last night my refrigerator's light stayed on even after the door was shut. The heat burned the plastic wiring. The bulb is gone. The refrigerator will always be dark.
What I learned today: people want acknowledgement for being individuals; eating caffeine (chocolate) and nuts every day promotes cognitive functioning; tokens of appreciation are much appreciated; adverbs are the kiss of death; a poem can have a million interpretations; lunch is more enjoyable when not eaten alone; triscuits soaked in soup turn into cream of wheat; different cell phone service carriers can display times varying by five minutes; kids have an easier time accepting new trends than adults; the Greek definition of a hero was someone who accomplished tricky feats while the modern definition is someone who selflessly helps others.
My altered version of What Child is This:
What day is this, what’s my schedule
Wish I could still be sleeping
My alarm greets with chimes annoying
While rest of the household is sleeping
Hail, hail, to iCalendar
Who reminds me of the day’s events
What, what would I do
without this list to keep me straight?
living room clock-- four minutes slower than my phone
mom’s cell-- five minutes slower
wrist watch-- three minutes
oven clock-- five
i hadn’t been aware
my phone is five minutes fast
is this why i always feel late
when i arrive early?
When my mom home schooled me, for the first snow of the year I could skip assignments for the day. The next day I had two days’ worth of schoolwork to make up for; not fun. During high school I was home schooled through an online curriculum. When it snowed, I sledded for an hour, but always returned back to the never-ending workload. Going to college, a real building school with time constraints, I thought I would finally get genuine snow days: a full day without going to classes. Now people tell me colleges don’t get snow days.
Things on my desk: a purple ceramic mug I painted at All Fired Up; a scientific TI calculator with a sticker of Mickey Mouse on its cover; a box of 96 Crayola crayons, the tips of purple shades already worn down; a blue and purple hand-painted wooden box with sea shells glued in smiley face shapes, containing pens, pencils, True To Life multicolored crayons; a journal with Jack from the Nightmare Before Christmas on the front; an owl-themed folder with math homework; a heart Reece’s peanut butter cup; a silver lamp that looks exactly like Pixar's mascot.
Dinner tonight was homemade soup and a boxed mix of Red Lobster biscuits. Despite both foods being made in the kitchen, they didn’t taste homemade. The vegetable soup stock was a liquid version of a Bouillon cube. It was super salty. My dad poured shredded Kraft mild cheddar cheese into the lumpy biscuit dough. When the biscuits were done baking, on top of the rolls he spread a mixture of melted butter mixed with a herb packet included in the box. The biscuits tasted like cotton balls. Foodstuff from boxes and jars are not equal to their homemade counterparts.
When I got out of class and drove back to my house, the snow was starting to cover the roads. It didn't stick to the pavement; the wind from passing tires blew strands of it around in snaky waves. By the time I got to the neighborhood, the roads were completely covered. It was unnerving turning into the steep driveway. I feared the car would slip and go careening off the driveway and tumble all the way down to the creek at the bottom of the hilly backyard. Nothing drastic ended up happening. The next day was a snow day!
I received a mail-ordered leopard frog for my 8th birthday. The tadpole came in a white plastic container filled with water. There was no way to tell if the tadpole was a boy or a girl until it grew up into a frog, so I gave it a gender-neutral name: Charley. The tadpole didn't do much except swim around its plastic cage painted to look like a natural woody habitat. According to the instruction manual, the leopard frog was supposed to turn into a frog in a matter of weeks. Charley lived two whole years as a tadpole.
This is how it's supposed to be. College opened today, but I stayed home because the neighborhood was icy. Today's math lesson was supposed to be about box models. I didn't want to fall behind, so I printed the teacher's handouts, read the chapter, and did the work. Even though math is the hardest subject, I felt peaceful. This was just like a typical day in my online high school. I would read the assignments online, Google unfamiliar terms, and do practice problems to show that I actually did learn something. This way of school is what I'm used to.
On my shelf: my mom's old alarm clock; a dream journal that's frustrating to write in because of the pages' short width; a gray mini flashlight my grandfather gave me for my 14th birthday; a book with a snowy owl on the front written by my high school English teacher; a circular star map with a moving window to predict what stars will appear at each month; juvenile fiction library books, one involving townspeople morphing into zombies from radioactive meat in a school cafeteria, the other about a girl and her brother caring for a cardinal with a broken wing.
I'm sitting behind a table of apples. A toddler teeters to the middle of the room and begins wobbling side to side with a grin, dancing to the acoustic music of a two-manned band. A mom unfolds a metal chair and sits by the side of the musicians’ raised platform. Her two elementary kids stand by her side, looking down shyly at a dancing wooden man their mom animates with string. All around the room people stop to chat, exchanging a month's worth of news. Once a winter month, people slow down and appreciate one another at the market.
Fifteen minutes on the highway, fifteen minutes on back country roads. Driving on the highway always feels much longer. My shoulders and knees tense as the scenery whizzes by faster than I'm used to. My mom's in the passenger seat, accompanying me to Apple HQ because I haven't gotten used to driving there yet. The trunk is full of fall varieties of slightly mushy apples. We're listening to Daughtry's newest album. Despite my highway nerves I'm grinning. In the backseat my sister counts the till money so we can keep track of how many pecks of apples will sell tomorrow.
The school's parking stinks. There are hardly enough parking spaces for students; when I arrive in the morning there are about five empty spaces in the whole parking lot. Today was extra challenging because the few free spaces were covered in four inches of snow. I slowly maneuvered into a spot between two cars. I do not know how I didn't hit the one on the right. I had to park at an odd angle. There was less than a half inch of space between my car and the one on the right. Backing out after class was also difficult.
Venders help me push up the tent. Back and forth my sister and I walk on dewy grass from the car to the tent, carrying heavy wicker baskets of produce. I pretend I’m a magician as I take out a navy blue tablecloth, snap it open, and let gravity bring the parachute down to the table. While packing up at the end of the day, I unclip the support structure from one leg of the tent. With my arm outstretched I leap across to the next tent leg and grab it before the tent tips over. I am Superman.
Last year I received a copy of Walden by Thoreau. I was thrilled to finally read this famous book I'd heard so much about from English. “This guy lived in the woods for two years! He rebelled against a Mexican war by not paying taxes! How cool is he?” I believed that anything Thoreau said must be profound. His words may have been too profound. It felt as if I were reading a book in Spanish. I understood simple sentences, but the majority of his wisdom sailed right over my head. I could not finish the second chapter of Walden.
Psychology talked about the different learning stages in kids. According to a handout, seven to eleven year olds have a concrete operational system, where they begin to think logically. The teacher’s example was Santa Claus. Most of the psyc students said they were seven to eleven when they began doubting. I was eleven. I thought there was something wrong with me for doubting his existence. Now I feel relieved knowing it was natural. What is the point of Santa anyway? Why invent him for kids if they are just going to get upset questioning his existence? Joy becomes misery.
“What do you want to be?” the face painter asks. “An owl,” I answer. She dips a triangular sponge in a small glass of water and drags it against a dry paint block. I feel nervous closing my eyes while a stranger stands in front of me. A paintbrush's thin tip marks wet ovals on my cheeks. A thicker brush glazes a cold V on my nose. The painter hands me a mirror. I'm wearing a mask: yellow around the eyes surrounded by brown feathers with horizontal black stripes. For the rest of the day it acts as my shield.
“How ya doing?” “Ok.” “Ok? C'mon, lemme hear better. Tell me you're great.” “I'm great!” “You're an actress too, aren't you. Back to school yet?” “Yeah.” “You don't sound too happy about that!” “Either I love it or hate it -- there's no in between.” “I know the feeling. Can I tell you it gets better? Can I tell you everything's great?” “Sure.” “We're both actors. Well, I gotta run. Let me see a smile, let me see it... aha! There's that smile! Just keep that happy attitude!” “It'll all work out.” “Thank you. D'you mean that, or are you acting?”
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