This is why I’ll be glad when I’m in college. Some of this will stop, and be replaced by different idiocies. But at least it’ll be refreshing to be answering a different litany, or maintaining a different farce, or tolerating a different kind of (well-meaning?) adult.
What people think: “Wow. You’re taking Latin of your own volition?” [Granted, it does sound impressive... unless you have a realistic view of what high schools are actually like.]
What it’s really like: “Yeah. We learn pretty much no grammar, I fudge my way through stuff I’ve missed after being out sick and I still get a good grade, and probably nothing I’m doing here will be useful to me. I’m not going to use it, and colleges are unlikely to ever notice or care that I took it. By the time I get to that point, they’ll want my transcript from community college and not my high school one.” [By the way? This is what high schools are actually like.]
What I say: “Sure. I like languages.”
What people think: “Wow. That must be really difficult!”
What it’s really like: “Wow, book. I just translated the sentences, ‘Birds fly in air. Fish swim in water. Humans walk on the ground.’ I am astounded by your profound insight.” [This is Chapter 10, by the way. The course is almost over.]
What I say: “Here you go, Teach.”
What the teacher (and everyone else even remotely related to the program) says:
“This is a dual-credit class. I am a real teacher, from an actual legit seriouspants college. This is just like a college class. It’ll be more difficult than your high school classes, like a college class, because it is a college class, a really real college class. It’ll go on your real, serious college transcript that everyone will look at, because it is a real, serious college class. Really. It’s a college class. You’re in a high school building but it’s a college class. I’m serious. I’m serious because college classes are serious and this is a college class.”
What I’m thinking: “It is important that this will go on the college records. Nevertheless, the class is actually easier than its high school version, which I took last year. Most of the students here have taken a few dual-credit classes already anyway, and we’ve all heard this spiel more times than the teacher has fallen asleep whilst reciting it.”
What I say: Nothing. They’ll shut up about it by the fourth week or so.
Art college reps
What they think: “These kids like art a lot. Obviously, it’s my job to get them an art degree from my college, or they will lead sad and unfulfilled lives. Also, I want their parents’ money.”
What I think: “…No. I don’t need your liberal indoctrination OR your expensive degree, which is even more useless to me than it is to anyone else in this room. Go talk to the three to five students in this art class who actually want jobs in art. The rest of us would just like to chuck your information card in the trash to avoid being spammed by your college for the next two years. But when you get bored of talking with the hippie guy, we have a drawing of Batman to show you.”
What I say: “Oh, yeah, I’ve heard good things about you guys… no, I don’t think I’ll go there. Thanks. No. Really. I’m sure.”
People trying to get me to nail down my plans
What they think: “Surely you have a dreeeeeeam, young scholar. Tell me all about how one particular career path is Your One True Path, and anything else will leave you to leave a sad and unfulfilled life.”
What I’m thinking: “Uh, no. Actually, I want x, but… cynicism, and realistically, I’ll probably change my plans sixteen times like every other college student ever. So I’m making sure I have a plan B. No… I’d be just fine with plan B, too. Thanks. No. Really. I’m sure.”
What I say: [At first, what I'm thinking. Then I realize I'm probably talking to one of my dad's relatives or somebody else who didn't actually ask the question in order to get an answer, and I say whatever will make them nod approvingly and leave me alone.]
People trying to get me to nail down which four-year college I’ll attend after community college (if they paid attention to the last bit)
What they think: “Surely you have a *dream college* where you must get in, for any other college will leave you to lead a sad and unfulfilled life!”
What I’m thinking: “This question is just as silly as if you’d asked a sophomore where she’s going for college. I can’t read the minds of admissions counselors (and wouldn’t want to anyway–too scary). I’ll go to whichever of my hand-picked short-list colleges accepts me, or the best offer. What do you want, my list? Because I’m pretty sure you don’t actually care one way or the other. You’re trying to make conversation. Maybe you just don’t remember how convoluted the whole process is for everyone involved? Either way, you’re never going to get a straight, simple answer out of a student on this one. Can we talk about cats?”
What I say: “I’m not sure yet.”
Any relatives who don’t know me very well
What they say (invariably):
1. “So, what school are you going to?”
1a. (optional) “I thought you were going to _____.”
2. “Do you like it there?”
3. “What are you going to do after high school?”
3a. (optional) “I went to _____. You should go there!”
4a. “What degree are you getting?”–they want specifics–OR
4b. “What are you going to do when you grow up?”
I usually say:
1. “‘X’ High School.”
1a. “I was last year/two years ago/three years ago/that’s a middle school.”
2. “Don’t ask that question; you don’t want to know the answer.” (Or, if the relative is someone I have to be diplomatic around, the answer is, “It’s better than Y High School/Middle School that you mentioned in 1a.”)
3. “Community college for programming, then a four-year for Psych.” (Cue questions about which four-year.)
3a. “Oh, cool. Maybe I’ll look at that one.” *nod, smile*
4a. “Uhhhh…” (Psych degrees are weird. Nobody can decide whether it’s a B.A. or a B.S., since it’s one of the newer fields of science and a good chunk of it isn’t actually science. Throw in that programming degree, and you’ve got yourself a question impossible to answer concisely. It’s especially frustrating since I *should* be able to give a simple answer like everybody else. But this is me, and I can’t do anything education-related the simple way. Y’know?)
4b. *incredulous stare, then snaps out of it* “Eh… I’m keeping my options open for now.” *Smile and nod.*
But I’m thinking:
1a. “Did you know that sometimes people do different things?” (Or, if the relative hasn’t seen me in a while… “That’s a middle school.”)
2. “No. Do you actually remember high school?”
3. “Eat a burrito.”
3a. “Yes, I acknowledge your name-drop. No, I don’t want to go there; I don’t enjoy being in debt enough for that. However, I will indulge you, because after paying 40K a year for a degree you could’ve gotten anywhere else and clawing your way out of a financial pit, bragging is the only consolation you have left, and I will stand here and look suitably impressed as you toss out that it’s your ‘alma mater’ and ask me if I know what that means.”
4a. “My psychic powers inform me that I’ll be employed as that dude who sits around and comes up with new Dorito flavors. I am getting a degree in that. You can probably do this in California.” OR
4b. There’s a whole list of responses to this. A few of the PG ones:
“I wanna be a fireman!”
“I wanna be a coroner!”
This is why teenagers don’t like family reunions.
When you’re an older sister, the ability to stare into a closet and pull out an acceptable Halloween costume thirty minutes before trick-or-treating starts is a highly useful skill. In fact, even if you’re the youngest in your family, the invention of a clever costume can be what swings you out of that gray area you slip into as a teenager, and make it somewhat socially acceptable for you to still wheedle candy out of your neighbors. The fact is, when you turn about fifteen or so, you can no longer get by with going up to your neighbors’ house in a grungy T-shirt, grunting, “…trickrtreat…” and holding out a bag for candy. And eventually, we all get tired of dressing as black cats and hippies every year.
It’s best, of course, to offer to take someone else’s kid for them, so it looks like you still have a reason to be doing this beyond the obvious. (Face it, it’s kinda lame to be at the acne-ridden age and still running around with all the little kids. Even the adults think it’s kind of pathetic looking and you won’t get candy from a bunch of them.) But if no such younguns are available, you need a clever costume–or at least one that looks like you sort of tried.
Unfortunately, Halloween is often the kind of event that people sort of forget about, unless reminded by huge inflatable gimmicky things stuck in the middle of Walmart’s produce section, which are among the only reasons anyone remembers to buy candy (which is, naturally, why they’re there). This forgetfulness means you probably don’t have such a neat costume. But don’t worry! If you regularly make a habit of wearing clothing, it is statistically likely that you can forge a costume in the last thirty minutes before people turn their lights on.
But not by reading most articles you find on the Internet. I know from experience that if you search for this kind of thing, you’re way more likely to pull up Family Home Whatever Magazine and instructions on how to turn an innocent two-year-old into a grumpy-looking bumblebee than you are to pull up something useful and not embarrassingly terrible.
I mean, you can make a really bad costume and run around giggling about how bad it is–that, like B-movies, is an art form all its own. Or you can make something slightly more serious. It’s up to you how much of a crap you want to give.
I have dealt with this before. Now, I pass my knowledge to you.
Last year, my brother and I went as highwaymen. We put on brownish clothes and leather jackets, tied a bandana on our heads, and ran around saying, “Stand and deliver! Your candy or your life!” This is clever, and gets you out of saying “Trick or Treat,” which is kind of a dumb phrase.
Slap some sparkly silver makeup on your palm, wear boots, and claim that your dragon has a sweet tooth. Nobody wants to upset the dragon, right? This costume is unabashedly ridiculous. It also gets points for being a reference to Eragon… although most people have only seen the movie, which was terrible, you’ll get a high rate of recognition. And nerd points! It’s more excusable to still be trick-or-treating if you’re a nerd. It’s kind of expected.
A nice hat, a long necklace, and a knee-length dress = flapper. Best if you have short hair. You also need to be a girl. This one doesn’t work on guys.
Throw on a whole bunch of jewelry (must have big earrings) and swooshy-looking clothes, drape something over your head, and take on Professor Trelawney’s airy-dramatic demeanor. Also a girl’s costume, although if you’re a dude and you want to modify it (like, a face-painted gypsy with one earring or something), go for it. You get points for creativity.
Mess up your hair, wear mismatched clothes, and carry a really blank expression. Don’t respond to people easily. If you’re really committed, don’t shower. If you’re a girl, put on makeup. Badly.
All you need is a huge and confusing-looking map, maybe some dorky shorts, and a shirt with the name of a state on it (or the classic Hawaiian deal).
This one is more of a guy’s costume, but girls can pull it off too if they have the right clothes. Guys just need to find the darkest-colored clothes with the most holes in their drawers, put on their sister’s black eyeliner, and bathe themselves in Axe. (The guys with the right clothes for this are more likely to be the guys who bathe themselves in Axe anyway.) Girls might need to put on a bunch of jewelry and nail polish, rather than Axe.
Pin a blue circle to a black T-shirt. Find a name tag sticker that says “YOU KNOW WHO I AM” and stick it on. Put on a suit jacket if you have one. Now act like a pompous jerk, but a really funny pompous jerk. Boom, you’re Tony Stark. Now you have the excuse of wanting to run around dressed as and acting like Tony Stark, which is a good enough excuse for trick-or-treating, or really probably doing anything.
Got a leather jacket? Great. Got boots? Great. Braid your hair? Great. Bonus points for an orange backpack.
Got a white T-shirt and some sweats you don’t mind marking up? Grab a black Sharpie and make yourself into a stick figure for the night. Draw down your arms, up your neck, and a circle (or a black headband or ribbon) around your face, and wear black shoes. You’ll need to shower well that night and the morning after to take off the Sharpie (don’t use Crayola markers–they’ll come off if you get sweaty, making a huge mess), unless you’re cool with people thinking you’re really, really, really weird.
A girl’s costume. Put on foundation that’s three shades lighter than yours (or highlighter or something), use lipstick as blush, and overdo your eye makeup. Then wear something frilly or little-girl-ish. There are ways to take this costume seriously and make it look really awesome, but they require somewhat more preparation and this is an article for the lazy.
You may or may not have the clothes for this one, but you can swing by Walmart in less than thirty minutes, so I’ll still put it here. Another one that gets points for being a reference. Find a brown T-shirt and stretch it (or somehow tie or affix it) over a backpack. Wear a yellow short-sleeve T-shirt or a yellow tank top over a green T-shirt, and some green sweat pants. Make yourself a mask in your chosen color–be creative with that. It’s not terribly difficult to find something to make a mask out of. Raid your coat closet for old winter scarves if nothing else. Also, make lots of references to pizza.
This one’s not too hard. It’s not very far off from the jeans-and-T-shirt non-costume, but the difference is mainly in the accessories, and your acting skills. Put on your glasses. Carry a computer bag (with a book in it so it looks like you’re carrying a laptop). Find a lanyard and string some Flash drives on it. Wear glasses. Drink a bunch of coffee before going out (bonus points if you spill some on your shirt) and act jittery. Mutter about your company’s management, saying they never know what they’re talking about. If you really want to nail this costume, look here.
This is kind of obvious. Don’t bump into people.
Your football gear, cheerleading outfit, karate uniform, tennis clothes…
Kind of lazy, but they look pretty good. Some of these might be kind of overdone, though.
You, plus some sportsy looking stuff you found in the basement
Might work. You never know.
You as a zombie fighter
Okay, this is just kind of a classic. Torn or military-looking clothes are great. A baseball bat or a fake crowbar/sword/other fake weapon is a must. Tie your hair back if it’s long enough to do so. Wear good running shoes and a serious expression.
You as an annoying over-preppy teen girl, or a teenage guy who’s trying too hard
This is pretty self-explanatory, too. Get ready to bust out the most sickening perfume or Axe you can find. Try to stay away from asthmatics.
The IM A WIZERD costume
This is the one where you take a blanket, wrap it around your shoulders, and pick up a wand-ish-looking stick from your front lawn. Definitely a B-costume. But if you’ve gotten all the way down here and you haven’t found something you like, it may be your final answer.
Sign the petition!
Why do computer rooms have to be so cold? I don’t get it. Computers do best in ~70 degree temperatures–the same temperature that’s comfortable for humans. It’s like 60 degrees or something in here. It’s nearly impossible to type. And I’m wearing long sleeves.
D’you think if I came in with a huge marshmallow winter coat and typed with gloves on, they’d get the idea?
I’m kind of feeling miserable. I wish I could just not be at school right now. Actually, I wish school started maybe two or three hours later–nobody should be up at 6:00 AM. Classes shouldn’t start until 9:00. Nobody remembers anything from early-morning classes. I nearly fell asleep in Classical Languages (not helped by the fact that Classical Languages is Classical Languages).
Worse, I forgot to put the book I’m reading in my bag.
I should probably go back to using my freezing typey hands to make my stupid, useless Java program. Java is of the few classes that might have some real-world value, and it really likes to pretend that it doesn’t. Whatever.
Having the flu kinda sucks. Sometimes it’s a relief from stress and responsibility; sometimes it’s because of too much stress and responsibility (in that, in my case, those seem to seriously weaken my already-terrible immune system), but mostly it involves a seriously stinging nose, hacking up globs of goo from the depths of your lungs all night and especially in the morning*, having your sense of touch replaced by an odd sort of blind, sore sensitivity, and drinking as much tea as you can possibly stomach. (For me, that last part is fortunately a hard point to reach. I really like tea.)
Right now, I’m sitting here with a massive headache and wondering about the distinct possibility of taking four ibuprofen dry. Would it conflict with the vitamin C horsepills I’ve been sternly told to take as often as possible, or the approximation of two tablespoons** of cough medicine that is ostensibly doing something to my buildup of mucus?
I’m also chewing a giant wad of anise gum. Anise, a flavor similar to licorice (not the kind that just tastes like red wax), functions in small doses as an antihistamine and in large doses as a narcotic.*** Currently, neither of these effects is exactly unwelcome.
I should probably go downstairs and get myself some more tea, but I’ve had at least five pots (ten mugs) of it today and I think I’ve reached my “no more tea” point. The best “no more tea” point example I’ve come across is demonstrated in (the final?) Bone book by Thorn, who is at one point not allowed to go to sleep for some pretty freaky reasons involving, if I remember right, Possession By Evil Thingy, and the weird old magician-type people who are looking after her keep trying to feed her tons and tons of tea with different weird magic-type herbs in it. Eventually, she stabs her sword into the floor and tells them outright: “No more tea.” The two elders, realizing they’re arguing with a just-barely-not-possessed, sleep-deprived girl wielding a sword, decide not to push the issue.
No more tea. …At least for tonight.
What bothers me most is the fuzziness. When you’re sick–or at least when I’m sick–all your senses are dulled. It’s like walking around with a cloth bag over your head. I’m not wearing my glasses because I have a headache. I can hardly smell anything. My hearing is terrible, except for my own voice–because people keep asking me to repeat myself, which I’m guessing means I’m talking more quietly than normal. My taste is off (actually, since I have the flu and I was already stressed, I also have canker sores in my mouth, plus a bunch of mucus, plus the numbed feeling that’s in my arms and legs apparently extends to my mouth and is worsened by all the coughing). And my fingers are so numb that I’m not even going to try stressing them with computer games like Castle Crashers, Cave Story, or even Aveyond.
This, naturally, means I’ve been finding things to do. I went through all the pages on this site and revamped what needed to be updated; I combined or shortened up some stuff to make it more accessible, and got rid of some “Coming Soon”s that never came soon. Or… not soon. Because I put them there four years ago. *facepalm*
I also spent some time on NetFlix. Ordinarily, if I wanted to kill brainless time, this would result in a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic**** marathon; for some reason, I currently don’t have the patience. Or perhaps I feel it’d just give me a worse headache. I watched some Blackadder, but that amount of laughter makes my headache and coughing a lot worse. All the other shows and movies in my list are either hilariously, headache-worseningly funny, or require brain power I don’t have at the moment.
Then there’s the matter of my brain. You see, I’m both tired and thinking slowly at the moment, and that’s not a good combination. I have this complicated theory as to why, and when I’m a psych major looking to BS together a paper, maybe one day I’ll look back on this blog post and I’ll find some material in it.
1. Normal people speak… normally. That is, they speak in common, easy-to-understand words. It’s how we learn language, and we automatically, or at least more easily, use the words we learned sooner when we were children.
2. However, I’m conditioned both as a writer and as someone who grew up in a cerebral household to use longer, more precise words. Throughout the entire time I was homeschooled (which was a large chunk of my formative years, thankfully), an expansive vocabulary was highly encouraged. I was also a kid who had a large vocabulary very quickly, meaning that I didn’t stick with those common, learned-them-first words for long, and that this conditioning has the strongest influence on me.
3. BUT then I entered middle and then high school, where nobody understands me unless I push down that conditioning. I have to take my time, and use those shorter, easier-to-understand words, for the sake of the people around me. (If I lived in a British sitcom, this wouldn’t be a problem. On the other hand, the other problems people in Britcoms have probably outweigh this advantage.)
4. And yet, when I’m tired, I lapse back into talking like a professor. I don’t have the energy to translate myself, or to take the long way when I’m talking. I’ve been trained, by my experiences, to make good use of the beautifully specific, fine, and varied words of the English language as it is today.
5. Still finally (I’m running out of emphasis words here), my brain as it is now is not working on all cylinders, and really doesn’t want to make the effort of using any words past the first six hundred I learned. It really, really doesn’t. But my conditioning says otherwise: that it takes more effort not to use complex words. Which, for me, is true.
All this boils down to this extremely weird and puzzling process that’s happening as I write this post. As I finish a sentence and start on a new one, my brain is sending me these ideas of more precise words I should have used in the previous sentence I’ve written. Something kinda like this:
I have this complicated theory
“I don’t wanna use the word ‘complicated.’ Everyone says the word ‘complicated’ and now it doesn’t have as much meaning. Use ‘complex’! No, wait! What? What are you doing, moving on?!”
and now it doesn’t have as much meaning.
“I wouldn’t have said it that way. You should have used the word ‘effect’ instead of ‘meaning.’ Also, if you’re going to use both a question and exclamation mark, it should have been an interrobang!”
it should have been an interrobang!
“You should have said that I said that you should have consolidated it into an interrobang!”
You should have said that I said that you should have…
As you can see, it’s (rather/sort of/becoming) (difficult/arduous/aggravating/irritating) to (write/compose) a blog (post/entry) when your (brain/consciousness) has (unwittingly/unwillingly/inadvertently) (turned into/become) a living thesaurus.
And especially when I’m dealing with this headache.
Considering my current condition, I should probably best be spending my time playing Bookworm Adventures (either 1 or 2), a game in which you can highly (profit/benefit) from this kind of (thinking/thought pattern). It’s why I’ve always been so good at those games. Some of the words I use casually can’t even be made from their 16 provided tiles! “Inadvertently” barely fits! With the aid of either luck in the draw or strategic disuse of certain letter tiles, I can sometimes pull a word like “magistrates” from the grid, possibly at just the right moment in my word battle with that evil brass falcon thing in order to fell it and move on to Defeating Moar Evil Things.
To answer the skeptical question you’re probably thinking by now, no, I’m not actively trying to think up long words to put in this post. (Examine the writing more carefully. I lapse into Stupid Talk sometimes***** before going back to my pattern of sesquipedalian verbiage.) Maybe you have to know me personally, but my incomprehensible babbling (case in point) isn’t intentional. In fact, in a normal situation where, for one reason or another, I need to invent some pseudo-smart-person-talk, ASAP, I actually can’t come up with anything, because in those normal situations, I’m set on being understandable.
It’s almost like if I were an immigrant who came to America at about the age I started attending public middle school (11), and I mastered local colloquialism… er… … … dang it!… but, when tired or under stress, I still spoke with an accent from wherever I grew up. And if I were really tired, I might start mixing in bunches of words from my native language with English sentences.
It’s also kind of like having a bad case of editorbrain, and the off button is broken.
I’ve rambled too long about this and I’m kind of feeling weak at this point and want to go to sleep, so I’m just gonna end this here. Maybe I’ll pick it up again tomorrow. Or I might just spend tomorrow rereading Eragon… for the zillionth time. (I could swear I’ve read that book like seven times by now…)
*This being defined as that point sometime after you finally fall asleep and about a half hour before noon, when you wake up to your concerned father who a) was probably wondering if you were still alive, and b) now wants you to come up with something he can do for you so he can feel better about your condition. No. Dad. I don’t need anything. (Subtext that doesn’t get read: No. Dad. Can I go back to sleep? Yes. I’m alive. Now, please close my door, I have a headache and I want to go back to sleep.) This definition of “morning” is not to be confused with my normal definition of “morning,” which involves being roused at the unholy hour of six in the morning in order to go to school. Seriously? I went through a sick spell last year in which 6:00 AM meant I could probably manage to go to sleep already. Yay.
**Due to my inadequate slug of an immune system, I tend to be sick a lot and I can approximate two tablespoons pretty accurately. It won’t kill me.
***I was a serious botany nerd when I was, like, eight. I still have the giant herbal reference book that I used to make many valiant attempts at casually reading. Sometimes, when I come across a new extract I’m using as perfume or a spice or something, I still reference it. Which is what it was supposed to be used for. Whatever.
I also still remember a lot of what I learn(ed) from that book. For instance, the antihistamine effect of anise could have the side effect of improving my mood. This is because too much histamine in your system reduces the effectiveness of glial cells in the brain, which transport tryptophan, a chemical deficient in depressed people. SO MUCH COMPLICATEDNESS
****This is a show I watch in bursts. No, I haven’t seen all of it. Yes, it’s pretty ridiculous, and that’s why everyone from the intended audience of six-year-old girls to male college students who need to be working on thesis papers to… well, you don’t want to know… watches it. Contrary to what you’d believe, although it’s kinda cheesy, it’s pretty gender-ambiguous… sort of (if they were dragons and half the main cast was gender-flipped to male, it’d easily be a unisex show). My main complaint is that when I got onto Netflix some days ago to watch some after a brain-killing Latin assignment, and made a personal profile and then watched a few eps of MLP, Netflix was thoroughly convinced I was a six-year-old girl who desperately wanted to watch all the LeapFrog shows on the site, along with freaky-looking cartoons with names like “Super Why,” “Jem and the Holograms,” and, scariest of all, “Bratz: Fashion Pixiez.”
*****Stupid Talk is when you start writing/talking like an Internet meme, and/or you capitalize random words like it’s a TVTropes article. You might also be using a loose, imprecise writing style, or even dropping/forgetting minor (for some folks, major) grammar rules due to fatigue or apathy or both.
I’d fuss about the possibility of these footnotes being longer than the actual post, but I know how long the actual post is, so… fo’geddaboudit.
I took a hiatus from posting after I entered the depressive funk of AP French (long story), and didn’t start again over the summer. But I didn’t stop writing. Here’s the synopsis of my latest project, a steampunk novel called A City Reclaimed.
This post contains massive spoilers after the dotted lines.
A City Reclaimed
A girl called Ella is the last surviving member of a noble family wiped out by plague (the reason she survived is kind of a spoiler, but I’ll say that for a few reasons, she wasn’t as at risk as the rest of her family). She manages to sell some of her family’s possessions and hightail it out of her city before the next person to take power kills her or her sketchy godfather catches on to the fact that she’s still alive. She survives on the street for a while in Corveny, the next city over, until she’s picked up by the city’s governor, a scholarly man called Gabriel, because she looks like his late wife.
Under his wing, she meets Gabriel’s son and future partner in crime, a boy her age named James. She quickly demonstrates that she is a) able to read, and b) able to construct machines that make Gabriel a lot of money, because of a tutor she had for a few months (against her parents’ best intentions).
And he needs it, because Corveny is being attacked by airship pirates. A lot. They slip in during the night, get past the walls and guards, and steal things from the citizens, which is starting to upset the economy. Then, one night, they go for a less subtle attack, and they bring their guns. The armed citizens hold them off pretty well, but Gabriel is abducted.
Naturally, James and Ella pack up and go after him; they take off a prototype machine of Ella’s, which is a metal chariot with mechanical horses. (The fantasy fans will get the joke in 3… 2… 1. They actually are using mechanical horses, and they still require more maintenance than the horses fantasy heroes ride.) Along the way they meet a cyborg boy (Andrew) who has nowhere else to go and a genetically engineered empath girl (Ivy) who won’t leave them alone, both of whom turn out to be pretty helpful.
It gets more complicated, but don’t read past this if you’re planning on reading the book.
SPOILERS: I’ll tell you how it ends.
They rescue Gabriel. He’s poisoned a bunch of the pirates in a sneaky way only a scholar would know about, and James, Ella, Ivy and Andrew act as his getaway crew. Meanwhile, they find out that the pirates are actually privateers: hired by a family that’s trying to take over all the surrounding cities in order to build an empire. This family is also the one that poisoned Ella’s folks with the disease that killed them; it was spread through makeup, and then from person to person. (Ella, who didn’t wear makeup and avoided her family as much as possible, escaped the spread.)
Both actions are against a treaty signed by all of the southern river cities, including the one the family originally ruled. (The treaty allowed for expansion in cities as long as there was land to put it on, but prohibited multiple cities being ruled by the same group or person.) This is fortunate, because it gives Gabriel a good rallying point when he’s looking for alliances. The band of five has to deal with the family and their privateers, and then organize the re-stabilizing of all the affected cities.
In the end, Ella reunites with the tutor who taught her mechanics (Samuel) and installs him as her home city’s governor (by now, she’s a bit sick of politics, so the intelligent tutor gets the job). Gabriel goes back to running Corveny, and also takes on the duty of coaching and helping Samuel. She and James go back to their workshop and continue to work together as mechanic and engineer, respectively. Ivy and Andrew end up together romantically. Apart from generally liking each other, Ivy’s lonely knowing what everyone else is feeling and thinking about her all the time and Andrew’s robotic limbs make that far more difficult (since she works off body language), and Andrew needs help learning to read body language so he can interact with people more normally. Also, they’re both artificially altered, and they value each other’s lives more than a normal person probably would.*
Everything’s okay in the end. Broken, needing repair, but okay.
Note: I’m not disparaging all guys. Just, like, 95% of those I’ve seen in couples at my high school (and, well, some people’s adult boyfriends, because there are those who are permanently mentally teenagers). Granted, a pet rock has advantages over those. But don’t overanalyze…
My cat Jake is a huge, muscular Egyptian Mau. He weighs a very full fifteen pounds, and very little of that is fat, because he’s just so big. He’s very attached to me–Maus tend to glom on to one person that they claim as theirs, and I’m his. Recently, it’s occurred to me that he behaves much like a high school boyfriend, except better.
He has a six-pack… under a layer of fluffy, creamy, spotted fur.
He’s possessive of me… and it’s adorable and kind of hilarious rather than stalkerish or suspicious.
He likes to cuddle and watch movies… and makes no demands to watch 300 again rather than my weird speculative-fiction Netflix list.
He demands my attention… so I’ll scratch his ears and behind his whiskers.
He’s got a beard… of soft white whipped-cream fur.
He yells at me… and it’s funny enough to belong on YouTube.
He kinda smells… but not of Axe.
He keeps me awake at night… demanding to be let into my room. No, out of my room. No, in. It’s still better than depressive late-night texts or the needy midnight romantic conversation you’ve been too diplomatic to end. It also ends in a smaller phone bill.
He makes lovey-dovey cat blinks at me… instead of the expectant, nervous, premature “I love you” that ladies across the centuries have struggled with responding to. All you have to do with a cat is slow-blink back.
That, or he sleeps on me… without the obvious ensuing complications this entails when a human male does the same thing. (Kids, don’t ask.)
If you like, the cat will listen to your problems without feeling the need to barge in and fix them for you.
The cat will probably jump up on places he’s not supposed to and manage to make a mess, but so will your boyfriend.
If the cat tries to eat your food, you can give him a bop on the nose with your hand, which you can’t get by with when a human does it.
Rescue cats sometimes come with emotional damage. With TLC and time, the cat will get over it. Rescue boyfriends are typically not the same way.
Your cat may get fur all over your clothes, but I doubt he’ll ever give you a hickey.
You have to clean up their crap. Was I talking about cats or teenage boys? Well, think about it.
Cats don’t need you to attend their football games.
Obviously, there are a few things that will not happen with a cat and may eventually happen with a boyfriend, but I’m sixteen, so… I’ll take the cat. (Although cat + engagement ring would also make a ridiculously funny YouTube video if done right…)
Anyway, if you have a malfunctioning Creepy Guy Alert System, just get a cat. Lots cheaper and far more convenient. Plus, they’re cuddly.
That is all. :3
Somebody wrote this post on SparkLife, supporting 20 “good things” about going back to school. Bailey_Swilley, I’d like to know what antidepressant you’re taking, or, if not, whether you are going to Hogwarts, because I’m pretty sure those are the only two options. Here’s her post. (Link: http://community.sparknotes.com/2013/08/15/20-of-the-best-things-about-going-back-to-school)
1. NEW SCHOOL SUPPLIES. ‘Nuff said.
2. Your favorite fall TV shows will come back on to help you unwind after hours of homework.
3. Speaking of homework, think of all the summer chores you can now get out of in order to focus on your studies.
4. Seeing your long-lost friends again! “Hey, where were you guys!?”
5. Choosing your classes and arranging your class schedule. It’s your party, you can do what you want. It’s your schedule, you can take what you want. Oooooh-woooooo…
6. Fall play auditions. “Everything’s comin’ up ROSES!!!!”
7. School lunches! Don’t lie—you know you missed Taco Tuesdays and Fish Fridays.
8. Posters! The school is always plastered with posters and flyers advertising all your favorite activities and events. It’s like eye candy with dates and times!
9. New textbooks and what you’ll cover them with. Are you going old-school with paper bags? Are you putting book socks on them? Stickers? Doodles!? WHAT WILL YOU DECIDE!?!
10. DECORATING YOUR LOCKER with photos of your stellar summer trip, cute dog, and biffles.
11. Getting to know all your teachers and deciding who’s going to be your fave and who you’re going to have to work for.
12. Picking your outfits for the entire first week of class!
13. After-school practice/gym sessions. Work out all that calculus aggression you have!
14. Showing off your knowledge of the summer reading list, especially when a bunch of your peers didn’t even crack open their books.
15. Coffee shop brain trusts! Sipping up some java juice with your pals while cramming for your dreaded physics test makes studying not so dreadful after all.
16. Spirit week! Dressing up, dressing down, and generally looking like a loon all in the name of school spirit can be pretty satisfying.
17. If you have nothing to do on a Friday night, you can be sure that there’s still an exciting football game to check out.
18. Your best school friends are all back and now you can finally discuss your favorite viral vids and songs of the summer. And see if any of you dug up some unheard-of gems.
19. Figuring out which clubs and committees will be graced by your awesome presence this year. No matter who you choose, they will be lucky to have you. And don’t forget it!
20. Pep rallies. If you’re not already amped for this year, at least your school will try its best to pump you up for the year.
What do you love about going back to school?
Now, Bailey, optimism is great and all. But here’s my response to this little sheet of yours.
1. Oh. Well. I might be completely stressed, sleep-deprived, and undernourished due to having to survive off the sole sustenance of Pop-Tarts because of the nature of school food, but maybe I have a folder with a Sharpie chinchilla on it and that makes it all okay.
2. Have you heard of Netflix?
3. Let’s see: reloading dishwasher takes, oh, fifteen minutes. Idiotic Latin translation of “France is in Europe. France is not in Africa. Where is France? France is in Europe. Is France in Africa? No, France is in Europe” takes an hour, because it’s that long.
4. There is one assumption in this sentence. It’s that I have friends at school. I don’t. I have some acquaintances, but the people I end up knowing well by the end of the year always manage to be seniors (or I move away from the school). My friends are on the Internet, apart from my bestie, and school means I see them less rather than more.
5. My counselor hates me. She lied to me at the end of last year, telling me my schedule was perfect and I had everything I wanted (in order to avoid me). Then she made it so I was the last student she “helped” (she actually told me this), and is still trying to deal as little as possible with me. My schedule still isn’t fixed. Not to mention that the school system’s insistence on putting bright teenagers into stupid classes is the reason I’m getting a GED–and I’ve had to jump through months’ worth of (mainly futile) hoops to get this far.
6. …No. I could talk about my freshman-year Drama play manager teacher lady… but it’s kind of a long and discouraging story, if this post isn’t already.
7. Do you really want to know what the school lunches are like? They make me physically sick if I pick the wrong thing and I have to stay home from school.
8. I saw a poster earlier today advertising the “Fresman Dance.” Apparently, the theme is “Swagtastic Luau.” I’m not making this up.
9. My two textbooks are paperback. One is a Latin book that has seen better centuries. The other is a Java textbook written by the kind of businessperson who thinks that PowerPoints are actually educational. (It’s useless.)
10. Who actually uses their locker?
11. More like making careful psychological profiles of them to be sure you’re safe. The Java teacher is an ENTJ–she’s no problem, it’s a good type for someone in her line of work and department–but I think the octogenarian Classical Languages teacher holds some odd stereotypes about me due to my recently-acquired blue hair. And the art teachers… well, they’re generally good teachers, but sometimes I think they’re either drinking too much coffee or not enough. Even so, if you can be a high school teacher for any length of time and not have a grudge against life, you’re impressive.
12. If you still pick out all your first-week outfits, you’re trying too hard. I would posit that this is due to cognitive dissonance. In fact, I would posit that this entire post is due to cognitive dissonance.
13. I hate the gym. So much. And if I ever suggest taking Calculus… tell my family I love them.
14. Our school doesn’t even try to give us a summer reading list. Somebody in the administration knows the students too well for that to happen.
15. Those… never work.
16. Yes, I love being dragged out of my irritating class all the way to a more-irritating pep rally. Multiple times.
17. Heh. Heheh. Heheheheheheh. Football? Was this addressed to someone else? No. Just… no.
18. Again: friends?
19. Let’s see: there’s Key Club, population 2, or Girls Learn International, where nobody actually understands why they’re there, or the greenie club, which basically does nothing but take out the recycling, or the animal rights club, which I’m not going anywhere near because of the posters. The foreign language clubs have mysteriously disappeared, and art club may not be a good choice because I’m already being forced to produce art en masse.
20. OH PLEASE NO LET ME GOOOOOOOOOO *is dragged away by her feet*
Optimism is okay… as long as it can’t be renamed as foolishness.
Blogging from the Java classroom again. I’m munching on the last of my 3/4 oz. bag of Goldfish and drinking the rest of my fourth-ingredient-is-cornstarch chocolate milk. There were fries in the cafeteria today, but they were unsalted and cold. Yuck. Note to self: always buy one of the overpriced extras. Chips or something. Because there’s no way I’m eating the coated-in-some-weird-chemical strawberries, or the lettuce in which I found a large piece of some insect I couldn’t identify.
Class is starting. Guess I need to find something else to blog about than complaints about the school food.
I’m blogging this from my Java classroom. It’s lunchtime… but there’s no way I’d stay in that lunchroom any longer. Why? Here’s what it’s like.
Sights: A dirty table. There’s a poster apparently advertising the “Fresman Dance,” which fresmen (someone enlighten me: what’s a fresman?) at “7-9″ at an unspecified date, in the cafeteria. It’s done in rainbow marker over a background of balloons. A large portion of the poster is occupied by a set of rainbow bubble letters declaring that the theme is “Swagtastic.”
Sounds: The teenage girls behind me. If chimpanzees could giggle, this is how they’d sound.
Touch: The ambient grease is palpable.
Smells: You don’t want to know.
Better to be in this Java classroom, surrounded by incomprehensible Java textbooks, accounting textbooks with covers displaying altogether too cheerful teenagers pointing at something, and nerds doing strange things with code and black command boxes.
Class is starting. This is the nerd… signing off.