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Sundays are cooking days. I made an Indian version of peanut butter cups. I put turmeric in practically everything; this gives the peanut butter cups an exotic flair. I scraped the last bit of spicy black bean hummus into boiling water for soup. Added spices and adjusted the amount of water to strike a balance between overpowering and bland. In attempt to make chocolate chip cookies healthier, I pulverized cereal and substituted it for half of the flour. The batter seems runnier than usual, so I’ve put it in the fridge to harden before sticking it in the oven.
A blue light shines on the wall above my dresser at 11pm, distracting me while I'm trying to sleep. It's my phone. I know exactly what that light means: my friend has replied to my comment on facebook about owl books. I smile and close my eyes. All the way on the other side of the country, she is on facebook at that very moment writing me. I used to be wary of iPhones and social media. Now I feel thankful for the gadgets and gizmos since they allow me to connect with awesome people who live across time zones.
At the dinner table, worn out dad, sullen teenage sister, me. Three separate entities, three lives that no one is willing to share. Small talk forced out. The background Irish music provides something to focus on, a distraction from the tension. Dinners of three happen two or three times per week, each feeling like a bomb waiting to be stepped on. Therefore no one steps. Silence, except for the violins. Chewing. Swallowing. The two's presence feels stifling. No communication. All strangers. Everyone pretending everything is ok. Who pretends more, kids or adults? At least kids understand that they are pretending.
I spooned a teaspoon of vanilla and chocolate ice cream into two separate containers and put a stink bug in each. Since stink bugs drink sugary liquid, I wondered if they would like ice cream, and if they had a preference of vanilla or chocolate. They climbed onto the walls of the container, avoiding the melting ice cream pool at the bottom. Apparently ice cream doesn't tempt them. The next day I carefully held them under the faucet. I tried to give them a bath before releasing them outside. They didn't like that either. They squirmed and emitted orange stink.
In the last environ science class, the teacher did the best in-class math word problem. On a power point she showed a National Graphic picture of a man hiking up a 60 meter tall cone of bat poop. The word problem was to calculate how many iPhones that gigantic heap could charge. It required so many conversions, such as how many Watts a phone needed. The problem ate up the whole last 20 minutes of class. The final answer was 10^ 11 charges. Now the question is, what is this number in English??
I played the piano and guitar tonight. I haven't touched them since winter break. Muscle memory aided tonight's playing. Other memories surfaced as well. I remembered how my piano teacher constantly reminded me to keep tempo, play with a certain finger, or raise a note to a black key. How she winked at me after I took my bow during a Christmas recital. Playing duets with my guitar teacher, how we would take turns strumming chords and picking notes. How he would ask if I had any questions, and when I said no, asked if I had any answers. Maybe.
When I was in the single digits, I'd get worked up trying to figure out daylight savings time. What time would it be if the clocks didn’t change? Now that I’m older, I figure I have more important things to ponder over, such as homework and if I remembered to turn the oven off. Now I just go with the flow about what time it is. Watches and cell phones can vary by 5 minutes, so that says something about the rigidity of time. It's the things that happen that actually matter instead of what time they occurred.
Why do people ask “How are you?” when they see each other? It makes sense if the people are friends: it gives the other the opportunity to spill their guts if something in life is bugging them. But do you really expect a stranger to lay out their heart in response to this question? Perhaps that is why everyone answers a robotic, “Good; you?” It closes the question. If the two people are strangers, the polite greeting will fizzle out into small talk. But perhaps when the strangers become friends, the polite greeting will lead to heart-to-heart discussions.
Writing is easier than movie-making. With writing you can sometimes ignore the little details of a room because the character interaction is more important. But in a movie you have to assemble those details in the background of the characters’ heated discussion. You can communicate a character’s thought process with a narrative monologue in writing, but soliloquies are weird in any movie that doesn't take place in the Shakespearean era. But with movies you can show in a few seconds details that would have taken a short paragraph to convey. Character interaction is easier to follow when shown.
I browsed the picture book section at a local bookstore. Lately I've been feeling like reading picture books. They are short, simple, colorful, and sometimes funny; a nice break from school thinkings. I found one called A Perfectly Messed Up Story, about a character who wants his story told, but PB&J stains keep messing up the scenery. The character gets hopping mad, but in the end he figures the messes are what make the story interesting. They don't get in the way. Things are still fine. It's a fun reminder how when life goes bonkers, everything is still fine.
My bookcase has five shelves and stands a few inches taller than me. The bottom shelf is filled with my heaviest books, mostly about gardening. Half of the next shelf is dedicated to eighteen folders of writing I did when I was 11 -- 15. More gardening and food books take up the other half. Next shelf up contains wizard stories, including Harry potter and a few writing manuals. Next shelf up has miscellanious chapter books, among them famous classics I was required to read in high school. Top shelf is half filled with skinny picture books and knitting magazines.
Why does school teach courses that kids rarely use in reality? Schools should actually teach students how to do taxes, how to sustain relationships, how to raise kids, how to cook.... Because really, tax collectors aren’t going to care if you can list all the Greek gods and goddesses. Traditional subjects can form new neural connections in the brain, but why not add a few sensible courses to the list of offerings? Kids will be much better prepared to face the world when they graduate if they felt they knew how to live in reality instead of how to survive twelve years in school.
Why do some stories last forever? Cinderella has been around for centuries. She has undergone many variations, such as being a witch and a skeleton in two picture books. She has been in a Disney animated movie and now a real-people movie. Shakespeare’s plays are made into movies with modern-day settings, such as Romeo and Juliet. Same with The Iliad in Troy. True, they are good stories. It is easier to write a story or a movie based on a story that already exists. But do they really need to be told over and over again?
Ground up bugs may be a common food in the near future. They are abundant and have a high protein content. Would I still be a vegetarian if I ate bugs? I went vegetarian because I didn't want to contribute to factory farming. And now it's been so long since I've eaten it that everything about meat disgusts me. But what about bugs? Technically I already eat bugs because they get accidentally ground up in peanut butter, and I eat a lot of peanut butter. Bug parts can coat chocolate: this is labeled as confectioner's glaze on the ingredients list.
Wouldn’t it be great if we came into this world already grown up, complete with armor and a shield, like how Athena sprang out of Zeus's head? Then no one would have to endure the crazy confusion of growing up. Scientifically, would we really? If we skipped the whole first 22 years of our lives, would we still have to learn how to walk, eat, move? Perhaps childhood serves as a cushion of experimental time, where society accepts mistakes because it’s all part of growing up. Awareness of this experimental time is denoted by looking younger than adults.
A box of pumpkin sage ravioli states that the filling is “encased by delicate egg pasta.” Delicate? Egg pasta is not delicate. It’s tough. My teeth have to tear and cut to snag a piece away, and then it takes forever to chew. And the pasta has to be able to hold its shape when submitted to the boiling water that cooks the filling. Why do advertisers use nonsense words that don’t really apply to the food, such as this misuse of “delicate”? Perhaps people like to think that they are stronger than what they eat.
Maps are misleading. Africa is a gazillion times bigger than Greenland, even though maps draw the continents the opposite way. And where is Antarctica? This continent gets left out of most maps. Mapmakers can manipulate maps with sizing and placement to make viewers think certain ways about countries. Why not expose citizens to a variety of maps? Maps could be drawn upside down, sideways, with a variety of countries at the center of the picture. No viewer would have to accept only one version of the world. Perhaps that upside down map with Australia at the top in the reception area of Outback Steakhouse has it right.
Don't spray! It burns. And what of my web? You've made it soggy, putrid-smelly, and for what? Because you think it best to rid all critters from your nest? Your purple cabbage, fluffy broccoli, all have thrived because of me. Those crafty bugs get caught in my silk. And I can beat the total bugs a bird will eat. I've snared afflicting aphids, crunching caterpillars, slurping stink bugs; your garden grows because of my meals. So why invest in that death spray when buggers I catch serve as my pay? Squish me already. My sight is static, legs convulse from your spray. You walk away? Now you spray your plants.
Standing amongst hundreds of people, it feels like I'm suffocating. Being outside helps alleviate this feeling because it’s a reminder that there is a spacious place out there somewhere. I keep thinking someone in the crowd is going to attack me, even though no one has. I'm always on high alert, ready to bolt out of the mass of people at the slightest sign of danger. Being in a crowd makes me feel in danger. The presence of everyone pushes against me, squeezes my ribcage. I can't eat because my stomach is tight. Can't converse normally because of the distractions.
“I saw that moth in the kitchen cabinet and I was like, ‘Fuck.’” he said emphatically. I snap. Without thinking I say in one breath, “It’s scary when you swear; would you please stop?” Normally I would freeze up before questioning parental authority, but I’m so angry. There is no communication around here. Jokes are made about serious issues. Nothing important gets said. He immediately apologizes and says he will try not to swear as much. Finally, a little bit of communication. But there is so much more that needs to be said.
“You're doing better this semester; you're not in the ideal state, but you're doing better.” This is unreal. So unreal. After being home schooled for 10.5 years with minimal social contact, how can anyone assume I can get the hang of going to a real brick-and-mortar school in no time? It’s so frustrating going to school -- not the academics part, but figuring out how to act around people. So often I wish I had never been home schooled. I haven't a clue the social codes of conduct my peers operate under. I feel like a freak.
It's unnerving hearing from your counselor that the way you were brought up is unhealthy. It's all you've ever known, and hearing someone say it isn't right is still unsettling even though you have known it deep down for a while. It's confusing when the counselor warns you may have communication problems down the road because communication wires are down at the house. While you aren't used to sharing personal feelings with household members, you are perfectly fine sharing every little detail with acquaintances. Ironic. Perhaps a lack of communication is why you turned to writing in the first place.
If most of the population lives with a disorder, why is a disorder considered unusual? If it’s the norm, shouldn’t ‘normal’ be an odd term to label someone? If many people feel terrified around crowds, why is the population still growing? People are going to make the situation worse for themselves by populating the entire planet with crowds that ultimately end up making everyone feel bad about themselves because they can’t feel comfortable around their own species. Everywhere you look is so much proof that people are ignorant about what’s beneficial for them.
In psychology the teacher gave a memory test. He asked us to write down the names of as many of the seven dwarves as we could remember. It took a bit of thinking, but I was able to correctly remember all of them. Most of the students guessed 3-5 dwarves, and invented several names that sounded similar to the correct name. The teacher said this wasn’t surprising, “I would assume it’s been years since any of you thought about Snow White and her dwarves.” But I'd thought of them just the night before because they had a short appearance in Shrek.
In the next class the teacher pointed out on a power point slide which dwarves the class remembered the most, and said that only one student remembered all seven. It was freaky to be the only one who remembered; I thought the dwarves names were common knowledge. For a while I felt miserable. I'm already a fish out of water from being home schooled, now I'm a double freak because of my interests? But the counselor told me that preserving one's inner child is the healthiest thing anyone can do. And when I recounted the story to my mom, she grinned and gave me a fist bump.
My friend bought me a Smucker's uncrustables pb&j for lunch today. She said I could order anything at all from the snack stand in the student center. I knew exactly what I wanted. I took those purple-wrapped sandwiches for lunch every day in 2nd grade. It's been 10 years since I've eaten one. I recognized the texture of the soft white bread the moment of my first bite. I remembered sitting in a cafeteria chair amongst the loud sound of elementary kids squabbling. This particular pb&j is still eaten with a buddy.
I watched an animated movie about a kestrel in Africa. In one scene he was being chased by a crazy sheep pushing a lawnmower with her head. The kestrel veered to the side and the sheep paused to see which direction he went. When she saw the bird, she jumped, her hind legs flailing up in the air, and then her body moved forward to push the lawnmower in the new direction while all four feet were still off the ground. It's the same gravity-defying motions kids make their toys do. It’s not something live action can cover.
“So when is your presentation, this week?” “Yeah, Thursday, yeah....” “You don't look too excited about it! I wanted to year a ‘Yes!’ I know, you're dreading it. Don't dread it. It's gonna happen, and it's gonna go on, and just go with it. Ride it like a wave. And before you know it, I'm going ta be asking ya, ‘Well how did it go.’ Just don’t put too much thought into it. I feel for ya having to stand up there doing a presentation. But at least you're not doing it alone. You'll be great. You're gonna stun them.”
Students tend to smile when it's their turn for workshop. They bend over their notebooks, fighting to stifle a sudden grin, scribbling helpful criticism and praises from other classmates. It's exciting and terrifying to be workshopped. The words you write sound different when someone else reads them. These workshops changed something inside: Last year I abhorred the idea of strangers reading my work. Now I've been submitting entries to 100 Words, entered a writing contest my high school English teacher suggested, and entered a poetry contest sponsored by an art museum. Maybe I can be a published author after all.
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Why is over the counter medicine portrayed as a “one size fits all” type of deal? Why does turmeric turn corn muffins pink? Why do acquaintances ask “How are you?” when they don’t care about the answer? Why did human eyes not evolve to see in air? Why do people make such a fuss over Christmas and give themselves heart attacks in the process of fretting about gifts? Even though space is cool, does it matter to learn about it? Why is eighteen the legal adult age? Why do I feel I must be like everyone else to gain acceptance?
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