Midterm Nightmares

Hey, guys! Sorry for not posting yesterday, and sorry for what I’m about to say! I’m not gonna be posting for the next couple of days! Again, sorry, I know I greatly disappointed my millions of fans because they no longer have daily access to my mundane thoughts. To make up for it, here’s a picture of my donkey! 🙂

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Freedom of Speech

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Hey! Look at my picture! Guess what it is! Don’t know? Is it a free speech wall? Wow, you’re a really good guesser. 🙂

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon something that I thought was really amazing on my college’s campus green. It was Constitution Week (though I’m not exactly sure who decided it was, or what made it Constitution Week. If you know and could clarify, that’d be great!) and one of the clubs in our school put up a wall and called it a Free Speech Wall. They were handing out markers to anybody and everybody who walked by and said, “Write anything you want.” I don’t know if you know this or not, but that’s a daunting task. Anything in the world, there are so many different options. There are hundreds of thousands of words…and that’s only English! (Actually, if you go on Oxford’s website and do a few calculations, it comes in around 228,132.)

I had no idea what to write. Someone just wrote “anything.” While that’s a genius idea, I couldn’t copy someone else’s answer. So I kept walking and went to class, where I promptly regretted my decision (and, of course, thought of something to write). I stressed about the wall for a full hour and fifteen minutes before class was finally dismissed and I ran back out to the wall. Thankfully it was still there. I spent the next thirty minutes or so reading other people’s posts and responding to theirs or writing my own. It. Was. Awesome. It was like Facebook in real life. 🙂

Here’s some more pictures of the wall:

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And imagine my surprise when a different-but-similar club put up another-but-smaller wall the next day!

Je N’aime Pas Des Devoirs

(translation: I don’t like homework)

Really, it’s not so much that I don’t like homework, but I am a college student, gosh darn it, and I don’t have time for a social life (not that I have one), work (aka working on getting a job), sleep, and homework. This weekend, I had an essay, math homework, three tests to study for, and french homework (though most of it was review). How much did I get done? Well… I really did think about working on my essay, but time kinda got away from me, and I did do all of my French homework, which I’m really proud of that, especially since my test is in about… thirty-two minutes.

I’m actually not bad at French, I just don’t really like French grammar. I’ve devoted so much of my life to learning English the right way that it’s hard to wrap my mind around doing it completely different. (I want to be a book editor when I grow up. But not a French book editor–oh, no. Perish the thought!)

I really don’t want to write my English essay, though I have no idea why. Usually, I love writing and will take any chance to do just that (hence, the blog), but for some reason I just can’t get started on this essay. Like, I have the basic information I need but not the substance. There really isn’t a point to this post. If you’ve read this far down, I apologize for wasting your time. I just wanted to complain to somebody who won’t talk back (because I know that if anybody’s reading this blog, not many of you are commenting. On a side note, I GOT MY VERY FIRST COMMENT!). Anyway, again, sorry, I’ll try to have something fun and interesting for y’all to read on the morrow.

Pepto Abysmal

About a year and a half ago, I painted my bedroom pink. Like, really pink. So pink it’s scary. I am honestly terrified by the color of my walls at this point. Here’s a picture:

It really is scary.

It really is scary.

What on earth made me think this was a good idea? Anyway, the problem isn’t really the nightmares about being back inside my mother’s womb; it’s that I can’t seem to feel “all grown up” in a room the color of Barbie’s playhouse. So, I’m redecorating. After multiple trips to Home Depot, I have finally gotten enough paint samples to give myself a good idea of what exactly I want in my room…I think.

All four paint options.

All four paint options.

At this point there’s no going back (I have to cover up the squares I painted on). So, here are my options: yellow (like, pale yellow, not yellow yellow), red (it’s a really bright red), Silverberry (aka light purple), or Blueberry Pie (aka dark purple). I’m putting up a poll, if I can manage to make it work, and I’d like some input from unbiased, third-party observers with no real interest in the matter (Can you name the movie?) to help me with my decision. What do you think will look good?

P.S.- The only thing I’m a little upset about is that I’ll be losing this delightful piece of artwork:

This is just a small portion of stripes that take up an entire wall (with windows) and took me about four days to paint.

This is just a small portion of stripes that take up an entire wall (with windows) and took me about four days to paint.

P.P.S- Sorry if the colors don’t show up very well; iPods don’t exactly take the best quality pictures!

Invincible Summer

“In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

~Albert Camus

When I can’t think of anything else to post, I’ll post a quote. Don’t think that they’re less important because I use them as a fall back. That is most definitely NOT the case. I love quotes. I love words and the English language in general, but most of the time other people are so much better at saying things than I am, so I quote.

This particular quote was the first one I ever fell in love with. It’s my absolute favorite. Since it’s a translation, there are many different variations of it, but this is my favorite for tons of different reasons that I won’t go into at the moment because I’d rather tell you the back story, how I fell in love with this particular quote.

It all started long ago on a dark and stormy night…

LOL, just kidding! 🙂

When I was going into eighth grade, my mother moved into a new house, and I went along with her. I didn’t know anybody yet, so I didn’t have any friends nearby, and my mom was always at work by the time I woke up. She did, however, find time to take me to the public library once a week. I read forty books that summer. I kept a list. And I handed that list to my eighth grade English teacher, who did not believe that I had read all those books. (She underestimated the bookish ways of a lonely, awkward girl with nothing better to do than lose herself in someone else’s story.)

Anyway, one of those forty books was Invincible Summer by Jean Ferris. I encourage you to read it at all costs if you can find it. Alas, I have only read it once myself. (Also, be aware that there is another book with the same title by another author. This is a knockoff, and while it may have some good qualities, it is nowhere near as good as the real one.) At the beginning of the most amazing book ever was a quote. My quote. The quote. (In case you haven’t yet realize, the quote written at the beginning of this post.)

For one thing, the book brought me to tears. Actually, I believe it was the first book to bring me to tears. Since then, John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars and Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess (also a good book for quotes) have joined Invincible Summer’s ranks. It also amazed me that this entire book was seemingly based off of this one quote. It was awe-inspiring, it knocked me off my feet, and I was completely astounded by this author’s ability. That is one of my favorite literacy moments (see post: First Ever College Essay) and it holds a special place in my heart.

Geeking Out

I’m at that point where I just have so much crap to do that I’ve decided not to do any of it. Unfortunately, this means that I’m not getting any work done, and I have two tests coming up and a huge essay due. BUT! I did get new school supplies yesterday (namely, a couple of binders and a pen), which always gets me excited, so maybe I’ll find the will to move forward with my homework.

I’ve always loved getting school supplies. Yes, I’m aware that this makes me a complete dork, but I don’t care. I would get bags and bags full of stuff from Target when everything goes on sale and not sleep for a week. Crayons and pencils and pens and pencil sharpeners and erasers and paper and notebooks and binders (which are two completely different things!) and agendas (gosh, I love getting a new agenda) and book bags and books and textbook covers and highlighters and sticky notes and just so much fun stuff! The beginning of August is one of my favorite times of the year (not to mention the restocking phase that comes in January). It’s better than my birthday, though not as good as Christmas.

I was always the kid who was excited for school to start back. I wanted to see my friends, sure, but really, I just wanted to get my hands on all those supplies. I should get a job in an office supplies store–I would love it!

I guess my point in all this is to convey a better sense of who I am–a procrastinator (plus, if I say I like school, people tend to automatically start thinking of me as smart). So today, instead of tackling the mountains of homework and housecleaning that I should be doing, I am going to drink Starbucks and get a pedicure with my stepmother and just relax.

First Ever College Essay

I recently wrote an essay about a “literacy memory” (basically, any memory about reading or writing that was significant. It actually went over really well… if you ignore the last few sentences. Because I’m so proud of the essay (and it’s creative non-fiction, which means it’s not too terrible to read), I’ve decided to post it here.

Practically Illegible

                As I think back to my earliest memories of writing, things are a bit fuzzy. I concentrate harder, chasing the threads of thought, only to have them slip from my hands like minnows in a river. It’s like Calculus: trying to define the dimensions of something that isn’t even there. I decide to focus on something else, and something begins to surface from the still, murky waters of my brain.

                I’m sitting at a table. It’s grey and edged in black rubber. There’s a flash of color: red. The front cover of a spiral bound notebook filled with pages upon pages of flowing handwriting that I’ve never been able to mimic. My teacher’s manicured hands thumb through the pages without even glancing at my pride and joy, my hours of thought and creativity, my perfectionism displaying itself even at such a young age.

                I push my unruly blonde hair out of my chocolate eyes to get a better look at the woman in front of me. Her face blurs in my memory, but I know with certainty that she is not as pretty as Mommy. The room around me is quiet. Nameless, faceless children become a huge colorful blob in my peripheral vision.

                There are Goldfish crumbs left over from snack time digging into my elbow from where I leaned it on the table. I wipe them off as the teacher looks for her pen, which she has misplaced yet again. She always seems to be losing it right before she needs to use it.

                “I have a pencil,” I mention casually, hoping against hope that she’ll decide to use it.

She wants to use her pen, which she has finally located, holding it in the air like a trophy for her struggles.

                Blue ink spreads across the top of the page, spelling out the letters of my name in the same writing that covers the other pages. She puts a title underneath and I read the words upside down, a skill that I have cultivated specifically for moments like these.

                “What I Learned This Week,” I announce before she has the chance to. She shoots me an annoyed glance, and I grin triumphantly to myself. Me: 1, Teacher: 0. I’ve won this battle, but she’s about to win the war as I am incapable of gathering the arsenal of weapons of mass destruction I would need to annihilate her and her presence in my notebook.

                I reach for the notebook, trying to turn it towards me and grab the pen at the same time. She holds them both out of my reach. “Start talking,” the prison warden orders, holding the pen poised above the lined page.

                I heave an overly dramatic sigh. Of course, she won’t let me write it myself. She doesn’t want to expend that little bit of extra effort to decipher my unsophisticated handwriting. “Kentucky is known as the Blue Grass State,” I drone obediently in a monotone, repeating her words from earlier in the week. Then I break character. “Which doesn’t make sense because I’ve lived here nearly my whole life and I’ve never seen one single blade of blue grass.” My earliest memory of writing comes before my earliest memory of music.

                I’m reading her words from my seat, still upside down as she meticulously traces each letter. “That’s not what I said,” I correct her. “I said nearly my whole life, not my whole entire life.” She ignores me and keeps writing, now recording the words I had just spoken. “Hey, wait, no! I didn’t want you to write that part! It was just me talking. Erase it!” Looking back, I may have been a pretty demanding preschooler.

                The teacher looks up at me, pen still in hand. “I can’t erase it; I’m writing in pen.” She says the words slowly, the same way my brother does when he thinks I don’t understand something, like I’m stupid.

                Well, if you had just used my pencil in the first place, we wouldn’t have this problem now. I don’t actually say these words; I just think them in my head. Out loud, I say nothing. I just stare at her with tears in my eyes, upset that she’s ruined my writing.

                She sighs again. “Here, look, I’ll cross it out, and it will be just like I erased it.” She does. It makes a big, ugly scar across my paper. In this moment, I hate her. I hate her for writing the wrong words. I hate her for marking them out. I hate her for not using the pencil. I hate her most of all for not letting me write the assignment myself.

                The words slip out before I can stop them. “I hate you,” I whisper so low I’m not sure she can hear. I slip out of the chair and nearly stomp over to the corner, not believing my own behavior. I just said something bad to a teacher!

                I am left to pout in my little corner until Mommy comes to pick me up. I scramble into the backseat of her car and push myself into a sitting position. I strap myself in, burning my hand on the hot metal of seat belt buckle in the process. Mommy pulls away from the curb and turns down the radio.

                “What did you do in school today, Baby?” she asks. It’s as if she has a sixth sense for knowing when I did something bad.

                “We colored. Sam got blue marker on my arm, but it was an accident,” I hedge, trying to distract her with evidence of my battle wounds, trying to avoid the inevitable. Ever the naïve child, I fantasize that I can keep this up the entire twenty-minute car ride. Some days the ride is short, but today is one of those eternity-long rides that only seem to happen when I want to get out of the car.

                “What else did you do?” She knows. How does she know? Did the teacher call her when I wasn’t looking? Has she already had the chance to sink her claws in and turn my own mother against me? This was an outrage! Now Mommy will never believe my side of the story! The only possible attack plan is to avoid the topic at all costs. If it doesn’t get brought up, Mommy will forget about it.

                “I did something bad,” I blurt, unable to stop myself. There went that plan.

                “Really?” She seems genuinely surprised. The teacher didn’t tell her. Way to throw myself under the bus.

                I sigh in defeat. I don’t think fast enough to come up with a plausible lie. Of course I don’t; I’m a good girl. Well, except for the teacher thing, obviously. “Really,” I concede.

                “So?”

                “So, what?” Now I’m just being difficult.

                “What did you do that was bad?”

                “I said something mean.”

                Mommy mumbles something that sounds like “pulling teeth.” I don’t get it. “What did you say?” She’s doing the patient voice, the one where she really, really wants to know what you have to say, but she acts like she has all the time in the world.

                “I said I hated somebody.” Short, simple, to the point, no details. That was how I was going to play this, at least until we got home.

                Mommy lets out a really long breath. I try to copy her, but I can’t hold that much air inside me. “Who did you say you hated?”

                I mutter unintelligible words.

                “Sorry, what was that?” Now she sounds aggravated.

                “The teacher,” I whisper as quietly as possible, hoping it won’t carry all the way to the front seat. I’m not a good whisperer; people can always hear me from all the way across the room.

                “Baby, you’re not allowed to say you hate the teacher.” The patient voice is back.

                “Why not?” I exclaim, suddenly much louder. “What if I really do hate her?”

                “Why do you think you hate the teacher?”

                “She’s always mean to me!”

                “Now, Sweetie, I’m sure that’s not true.” What she really wants is a valid reason for hating the teacher. I’m not allowed to hate the teacher. Unless there’s a good reason.

                I think for a minute, trying to put my thoughts into words that I can say out loud. I’m not very good at this; it’s part of the reason I’d rather just write my assignments myself. Telling Mommy requires some backstory. “We have read-alouds sometimes, and then we’re supposed to write about them. Sometimes we have the writing part without the read-aloud.”

                “Okay,” Mommy says patiently, knowing my stories can sometimes take a while. “I don’t see a problem yet.”

                “The problem is that teacher never actually lets us write. It’s called writing time, but it’s really tell-the-teacher-what-you-would-write-if-she-would-let-you-and-have-her-write-it-down-wrong time.”

                “She doesn’t let you write it yourself,” Mommy clarifies. She thinks she sees the problem now.

                “But that’s not all! She writes it down wrong, and she writes in pen so she can’t erase it when you tell her, and I don’t like her handwriting!” The third statement is not one I’m really passionate about, but three points are always better than two.

                “Baby, can any of the other kids in your class write?”

                “Nope, only me. And Brandy, a little bit, but that doesn’t count, because she only knows the letters and not how to put them together into words.”

                “Okay, how about reading? Do any of them know how to read?”

                “A couple,” I tell her, not sure where she’s going with this.

                “Would it be fair to the other kids who can’t write—or even read—if you got to write your own stories and they didn’t?”

                “They’re not stories; they’re reflections, usually. Sometimes there are other things we write, too.”

                “Okay, but would it be fair?”

                I think for a moment. “Yes. Because I worked hard and learned how to read and write, so I should get a r-reward for that.”

                She ignores my stumbling over the pronunciation of the word and mumbles, “Babygirl’s a Republican.” I don’t know what this means.

                We’re already in the driveway of our house now. The twenty minutes didn’t take as long as I thought they would. “Okay, look,” Mommy says, turning off the car and facing me. “How about you just grin and bear it when you’re in school, and then when you come home, you can write whatever you want. We’ll find you a notebook or borrow one of your brother’s, and you can write stories, or reflections, or essays, or novels, or speeches, or just whatever to your heart’s desire, okay?”

                “So I let the teacher write for me when I’m in school, but write myself when I come home?” It seems kind of like a copout. I’m not entirely comfortable with it, but Mommy wouldn’t steer me wrong, and she’s nodding at me and getting out of the car. “But wait a second!” Mommy turns around and looks at me, one foot out the door. “I’m at school way more than I’m at home!”

                “Then I guess you’re going to have to learn to deal with it. When you’re at school, just think about all the fun things you’re going to get to write about when you get home, and it’ll get you through the day.”

                At dinner, I chew on the words and my spaghetti. I think that maybe, just maybe, I can do it. Once I make a decision, the excitement is overwhelming. I barely get my dirty plate and fork into the sink before taking off upstairs to find some paper. That night, I write and write and write. The words are practically illegible, even to me, by the time Mommy tells me to turn off the light and go to bed. For the first time in my young life, I creatively obey orders. I turn off the overhead light, crawl into my bed, and flick on my brother’s flashlight. I keep writing until I can barely keep my eyes open, and then I write some more.

                Once I was given free rein to create, I just couldn’t stop. For the first time ever, I had no restrictions, no titles, no assigned topics, no rules. It was a heady feeling, and one that I’ve never forgotten because I continue to feel it each and every time I write.

                Sometimes this memory makes me sad. I shouldn’t have such negative connections with something that I love so dearly. Sometimes I do wish that my first memory of writing could be a happier one; then I remember that fighting for what you love makes you love it even more. You don’t cherish the things that come to you easily. No one ever fell in love with breathing.

Not too shabby, huh? 🙂