REPORT A PROBLEM
Breaking news! Invisibility isnít the super power we thought it was. Invisibility is actually a curse. According to psychologists, isolation is the worst punishment ever, aside from torture. Want to get revenge on someone? Just throw an invisibility curse their way. Passersby will look down and ignore your enemy, making them feel pathetic. But be warned, a side effect of this curse casting is that your enemies may use the invisibility to their advantage. They may observe everyone in the hopes of finding the right formula to become visible, which could lead to your curse becoming void.
dragons strut with their long necks high
looking down at the rest of the world
they can crush any tiny object below
their confidence is phony
dragons hate for smaller folk to think
that the mighty dragon can be crushed
by intangible beings
beneath the facade
dragons are angry
if anyone knew their deep down feelings
no one would view dragons as powerful souls
instead the word dragon would become synonymous
this is why dragons breathe fire
to fool onlookers
to convince others and themselves
that they are mighty
but at bedtime
hidden inside their caves
the dragonsí necks sag
level with the rest of the world
A two foot high human skeleton perched on the doctorís table. It was propped standing by an apparatus just like the plastic tripod-like things that make Barbies stand without support. Someone stuck a gray speckled feather in the skeletonís cheekbone opening. The skeleton had both hands on its hipbones. The hipbone was slanted, making one bony foot dangle an inch higher than the other. That plastic skeleton had spunk. On the kitchen table are three green place mats with a brown bunny and flowers sewn on. My place mat is also green. It has dancing skeletons and wayward bones on its border.
ďThose little boys on skateboards laughed that i blew u a kiss. When i was on my sidewalk they blew your car a kiss & waved bye. I blew them a kiss, then they blew one to me & we all laughed.Ē Itís good to know that my generation has the slightest hope of not ending up as zombies gurgling to one another. From what Iíve seen, kids donít say anything meaningful to each other. They donít speak to other kids they have never seen before. There is no communication. There is silence and isolation. But maybe these skateboarding boys suggest a different fate.
Should I get out of bed? Nah. The alarm hasnít gone off yet. But the alarm is annoying. Wouldnít it be great if I turned it off before it gets a chance to sound those friggin chimes? But that involves getting out of bed. My pillowís finally in the ideal position and Iím so cozy. And itís raining. Perfect stay-in-bed conditions. But youíve got school in an hour or so. So? Sleep is important for a productive school day. Even just resting is beneficial. Ooh, there goes the alarm, the slow and annoying chimes. End of the argument with myself.
Why does like attract like? Is it because we feel ridiculous hanging around people who are different? When Iím in a group that is different from me but whose members are all the same, I feel compelled to change my ways to match theirs. Being just like them would make me feel less like an oddball. But it wouldnít be right. When I hang with people who have similar interests to me, I feel comfortable. I can be my weird self because everyone else is weird in a similar way. Maybe like attracts like because weíre insecure among people who are different.
Almost all the students brought their laptops, their preferred writing source. I like writing on the laptop better than by hand. I get frustrated with pens and pencils: they canít write fast enough. Then there is the difficulty of reading messy handwriting, scribbles, and slanted angles. I used to prefer writing by hand because I felt more connected to the page, just as I used to prefer playing the guitar without a pick because I felt closer to the strings. Now it feels awkward playing with my fingers. The sound is duller, slower. Should closeness to an instrument be sacrificed for speed and clarity?
Is it ok to use texting short cuts and smiley faces in texts to students? Is it ok to text acquaintance students in the middle of the day just to chat even though you donít have a specific request? How to address teachers? In my online high school students could address the teachers by their first names. That's what I did, and my teachers liked it. The atmosphere felt easy because of this. At school I follow everyone elseís lead, copying what they do. I'm too sheepish to do my own thing for fear of being labeled as a freak.
The girls are hilarious together. We commented on all the absurdities in Barbie and the Island Princess. How does Barbie have such perfectly straight and white teeth when sheís lived on an island since she was 6? How did she maintain her English language if she spoke only with animals? Tonight the girls played pop music while boiling pasta. They moved their hips busted mad moves that were a little freaky but hilarious. Iím by no means a girly-girl like they are, but itís nice to be a half girl every once in a while when the three of us are together.
I planned on working on a paper in the library between classes. That didnít happen; the library was too amazing to sit still. I plunked my backpack by a sofa under the window and walked around, totally raptured by the old cloth books published before plastic bindings were invented. I grew more excited with each topic I found interesting. I was thrilled and surprised to see several bookshelves of kids books. I love kids books, but the atmosphere around college suggests that kid stuff doesnít have a place among academics and drama. In that library was the first time I felt peaceful on campus.
For a term project Iím calculating how much the school can save by switching from paper to digital newsletters. In one year the college spends one thousand dollars on these weekly newsletters. The amount of paper used comes from about one and a half trees. One tree can absorb fifty pounds of carbon dioxide per year, so these newsletters let sixty five pounds of carbon dioxide stay stuck in the atmosphere. Thatís all I got. I hope this is enough information for the project. But since itís the end of the semester and everything is due at once, Iím not going to lose sleep over an easy project.
What is the point of having kids? Kids soak up time, money, and loads of energy. Is it all that important to preserve the human species? Why do people bother to get married? Why make it legal, why not just live together and avoid the paperwork when it all falls apart? Why does society expect everyone to have only one spouse? Since the divorce rate is fifty percent, Iím not sure humans are capable of giving their heart to just one other. How are people able to date again when they hurt so bad from a previous relationship gone wrong? Haven't they learned their lesson, that everyone will leave so donít even bother.
I have made so much progress this semester. Even though I donít feel comfortable to speak unless a teacher calls on me, I no longer blank out at the prospect of talking in front of a huge group. During my first semester I fought so hard against blanking out so I could utter a couple of stuttered sentences. At the beginning of the second semester I didnít have to fight so hard, but my face felt hot after speaking. Now I can speak without blanking out and without the hot flashes. Who knows, maybe one day I could speak without being called on.
The environ science teacher started a chemistry unit with cheesy jokes about electrons and funny videos about the periodic table. She spelled words out of the elements, like NaCHO, and played a video of Daniel Radcliffe singing a fast-paced song that lists all the elements. A second video showed students pretending to be elements. Some relationships were positive, such as dancing together, some were neutral, texting and ignoring one another, and some were aggressive, tackling one another. Despite the horrors of 11th grade chemistry, she made me feel excited about science. Predictably the excitement was short-lived. Chemistry math is still nonsense.
I now understand what my friend hints at when she warns as we say goodbye, ďBe good. Donít get into any trouble.Ē I wondered why there was solemness in her tone, why she began cautioning me when I started college and not before. Strange things happen at college. While walking to the parking lot during the day, I saw a fellow first year nervously carrying two packs of beer, walking in between two confident friends. I learned today that my sophomore cousin might be pregnant. Hearing these stories makes me feel grateful to not live on campus.
It seems cruel how at the end of each semester, I finally start to not feel like crap every time I go to school. And then vacation happens, I lose all the social progress of learning how to act around new people, and when school starts up again it's a whole different set of faces to get used to. I understand how a constant routine makes it easy to get stuck in a rut, but Iíd like to enjoy feeling comfortable in routine for a while. Each class is a mini community. It will all disappear in two weeks.
I wish I had someone to play with. In a way Iím dreading summer vacation because I haven't had four whole months off since middle school. I havenít learned how to have fun without being distracted by school. Now that I have an idea of what itís like to hang with peers, I canít go back to being content with a hermitís lifestyle. I do have some social outlets, but the people I really want to hang out with are always working. I want friends, yet I'm too scared of new people to go out.
Awesome things: chocolate almond milk, bird flight, smiles, honey roasted peanut butter, solid events to look forward to, night air, budding leaves on trees, hugs, inside jokes, good health, a wide variety of books old and new, water, a balance between being alone and hanging with friends, box of 96 Crayola crayons, music, Scooby Doo, curiosity, staying on top of homework, bizarre word combinations, wizard staff branches and stick wands, independence, being goofy, salad mix from the farmersí market, recognizing stories from star constellations, being a kid at heart, ability to love who you are
Writing science reports based on a template goes against everything I know as a narrative writer. The teacherís outline says to write the outcome of the experiment in the introduction, and to repeat my methodology in three sections of the report. This does not happen in storytelling. The ending is supposed to come at the, guess where, end. If the reader knows the ending right from the beginning, the story isnít as exciting. Repeating myself in three different sections seems scandalous. Readers get bored if you write the same idea over and over again. Science writing is nothing like creative writing.
Even though hope is listed as one of the seven virtues, I donít know if it belongs there. Lyrics to a Sick Puppies song, Under a Very Black Sky, goes, ďDisappointment is cruel, but hope can be crueler.Ē Hope makes disappointment feel sharper. According to the Greek legend of Pandora, hope is in the bottom of her box. From my mythology course, the gods donít care about humans unless they have a personal stake in their lives. Instead of Zeus putting hope in the box out of the kindness of his heart, hope may have been placed there because itís cruel.
Biology skipped me. While my peers are absorbed in boyfriends and girlfriends, I have no interest in dating. I have no urge to get married. I donít know if thatís just how my brain is or if I have somehow forced myself to ignore biological twinges of attraction. Dating never made any sense; why continue dating people when the dumping hurts like hell? Am I this way because I had no one my age to think about when I hit puberty? Is it because I was 15 when my parents divorced? Being different never bothered me -- until college.
Why is it that in some books, such as The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, summer is the time when kids go on adventures and learn crucial things about themselves and their place in the world while school time is when their life is on hold? Is this what happens to real kids? Summers have always been boring for me; nothing happens. I can relate better to the Harry Potter series, when summers are a drag and school months are when all the action happens. There should be more books about home schooled and college-aged kids.
I lie on my back on a wooden bench. I squeeze my eyes shut against the stinging ultra bright sunlight directly ahead. ďItís strange going from the noisy campus to the quiet in here,Ē I remark. My friend turns toward me, lying on her side of the picnic tableís bench. ďYeah. It gets noisier later in the day as people off from work come with their kids. But no where near as noisy as campus.Ē The sun makes her face extra white, like a picture with high exposure. The gray underside of the picnic table blocks the sun. I donít have to squint.
This warmer weather makes me feel like I should be planting something. I have tons of vegetable and tree seeds saved in envelopes and single-serving applesauce containers. But school takes up all my energy. Iíve been neglecting the plants I already have. Iíve killed several of my houseplants by forgetting to water them, one of which was five years old. It was a pink spotted plant from a botany course my sister gave me because either she knew I like plants or she didnít want to take care of it. This one was the only one of six that survived. Until now.
I just want someone to validate my stressed feelings. Iím tired of my dad telling me to suck it up and deal. It seems pitiful that all college students are expected to be stressed and therefore people see stress as a normal state, when stress clearly has serious negative effects. My ears have been bugging me for months, and the ENT said my ears are fine and stress is causing the stinging in them. Everyone telling me to suck it up is making me think itís wrong to feel overwhelmed, that I should be able to handle it better.
Sitting on a bench in the same spot I sat in August. Last summer I ate a snack on the bench while everyone in my freshman group paired off to check out campus. I chose to be alone; until then I hadnít been aware kids my age existed. The group leader sat on my right and sympathetically asked why I didnít join the others. She looked at me like I was weird, a lost cause. Now, sitting on that bench, an English student enthusiastically answers my questions about her major. We chat freely. Now I donít want to be alone.
Last semester I gave a presentation for the first time. My partner was a senior who liked to have everything just right; she came up with the bulk of the presentation. All I had to do was talk, which was horrifying enough. One friend in particular gave much needed empathy and encouragement. I thought of her as I stood in front of the classroom, excited to have a story to tell when the presentation was over. She hasnít heard about my two upcoming presentations yet, but itís ok. A semester later, I have enough confidence in myself to get through them.
I donít believe in happy endings anymore. Authors may conveniently end their stories at a positive point in the characterís life, but that doesnít mean the character is going to stay hopeful forever. If stories were exactly like real life, sooner or later the character will find another dilemma. But stories that end on a downer note are disappointing and leave me wondering, Ďwhat just happened?í Ending with a positive image can elicit good feelings in the reader, yet will these inspire change? Could a sad ending encourage change, or will readers feel too depressed about the world to care?
Black mold is attached too firmly to the inside of the hummingbird feeder for baking soda and vinegar to bubble it off. One year I cleaned the feeder with bleach. That stuff wiped the black marks away with one sweep. The feeder looked brand new after two minutes. Then I learned that bleach is poisonous. I felt terrible for cleaning the hummingbird feeder with a poison, and for making the chemical go down the drain into the water system where it will resurface as drinking water. Maybe the mold isnít detrimental. A honey solution will spawn mold that can kill hummingbirds, but I use plain sugar and water.
Last day of class. Everyone is giddy and relaxed. I look at classmates differently, knowing this will be the last time in four months I will see them. Last time ever seeing them in this exact context. I feel stirrings of attachment, and wish the semester were longer so I can finally enjoy their presence. At the end of the last class, most everyone swarms out of the room as fast as they can. Thatís it. Maybe they are more aware than I am of the dangers of getting attached to a class. Semesters end. People leave. Best to save yourself the heartache.
The Tip Jar