My High School Reunion

Skyline High School Class of 1998

Skyline High School, Idaho Falls, Idaho, Class of 1998

Next weekend is my twenty year high school reunion. According to the internet, a family fun center in town has been reserved all day for the event.

Yeah, I’m not going to that.

1998 Kristy's graduation

Me in my cap and gown

I hated high school.

Starting in eighth grade, each year of school was worse for me than the one before. By my senior year, I had zero close friends.

Our senior class trip was to the theme park Lagoon, outside Salt Lake City. I spent most of that day wandering around the park by myself, trying to look like I was rushing to meet someone so that no one would notice the miserable teenage girl trying not to cry.

That’s how I spent my daily lunch break, too.

And this was my own fault.

I was the girl who completely abandoned her friends when she had a boyfriend. (And the boyfriend usually didn’t go to the same school (because he was usually out of school).)

I was the girl who held a grudge and refused to talk to or even be friendly with someone after I decided they had wronged me.

I was the girl who always said no to party invitations and extracurricular activities due to my anxiety.

To be fair, I did have a part time job so I wasn’t always available. And we did live out in the country so I missed a lot things just because of proximity.

And like every high school there were bullies and cliques. But honestly those problems were the worst for me in elementary.

I still went to football games and the odd dance. I went to the senior formal with three of my girlfriends because none of us had been asked to go. And I went to the all night party after graduation, but like Lagoon, I spent most of that party trying not to look as miserable and lonely as I felt.

What I’m trying to say is, my experience was not the worst experience in the world. But it’s not one I treasure or reminisce about.

I hope everyone I went to school with is happy in their life, and I wouldn’t presume that any of them are the same today as they were twenty years ago. I’m sure not!

There just isn’t any reason for me to go to a reunion. Those are just some people that I used to slightly know. Used to be corralled into a room with. Used to hide from and avoid.

A few years ago, Jason and I burned all of our yearbooks. Talk about cathartic! I’ve never regretted it. High school is something I survived, and I’m glad I survived it. But I have no interest in reliving it.

It’s Only the Third Day

This is the third day of my one hundred day challenge.

The challenge is supposed to be “post a blog or write for an hour every day,” but already it’s turning into a “blog every damn day” challenge because I can’t seem to set aside an entire hour in a day to work on a writing project but I can squeeze out fifteen minutes for a blog post.

And that’s why I wanted to do this challenge–to make writing a priority.

Jokes on me!

No, no, no. Just the third day, I can still do this.

I bought Scrivener not too long ago and I’m scared of it. I’ve been watching tips ‘n tricks videos on YouTube and am slowly going through the tutorial. But I’m still scared of it.

Or I’m just making excuses.

Tomorrow will tell.

Short Story Exercise: Change Diapers

(Using the book The Playful Way to Serious Writing [Amazon affiliate link], I set a timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase “change diapers.” Edited a smidgen after the fact.)

 

Tara slowly adjusted her position in the seat. She couldn’t put it off any longer.

She checked the rearview mirror, set the suburban’s cruise control and carefully unbuckled her seat belt. A peak into the backseat reassured her that Brad was still asleep.

Tara slipped her hand under the skirt’s waistband and tugged at the straps. The thin cotton ripped open easily enough. She grimaced as a pungent odor tickled her nose, but this was no time to be squeamish. She planted her feet on the floor and raised her hips.

Holding the wheel with one hand, Tara slowly pulled the soiled diaper down until it cleared the hem of her skirt. She coughed against the stench, then lowered her window, and tossed her burden out. Grabbing a fresh diaper from the pile in passenger seat, she stole a glance into the back.

By some miracle, Brad was still asleep.

Unfortunately, flashing blue lights were coming up behind her and fast. Tara shoved the new diaper between her butt and the seat, sat down, and stomped her foot on the accelerator causing the suburban to roar in protest.

“What is that smell?” Brad said, his voice muffled with sleep.

“I think I hit a skunk,” she replied, her eyes trained on the rearview mirror.

Brad took in his surroundings and sat up straight. “Where are we? What am I doing here? Where’s Jessica?!”

“Don’t worry, baby, everything is going to be fine,” Tara sang out, tears stinging her eyes. “It’s just you and me now!”

She could hear the sirens. In her mirror she saw at least three state troopers closing in behind them, and still more coming from the opposite direction.

“Stop the car, right now!” Brad roared, yanking at the rope tied around his ankles. “Let me out now, you psychotic bitch!”

I love you!” Tara screamed as she yanked the wheel to the right.

 


Like I said, ten minutes to write a story.

And that’s what you get.

My 100 Day Challenge

April 1 to June 30 is 100 days.

**PLEASE NOTE: I’ve since realized that the above time frame is actually 91 days, not 100. (30+31+30) You’d think I purposely set myself up to fail.**

There are lots of hundred day challenges floating around the internet, and they don’t necessarily start April 1. Most of them are about fitness goals.

I have fitness goals. But I’m stuck with this body until I die, so any fitness thing I decide to do needs to be more long term than a few months. I did a crash diet once, and it worked, and then the pounds came back, and they brought some friends with them. Dammit.

So instead I chose a writing goal. Every day from today through June 30, I will either post a blog or spend an hour writing. And if I were a gambler, I’d bet the lot that I don’t do it. I’m a tad flaky when it comes to self-imposed challenges.

***

Me: I want to write a book!

NaNoWriMo: Here’s a month long challenge to write 50k words, and here’s message boards and moderators and adorable merchandise to help you!

Me after day one: Yeah, I’m not doing that.

***

Me: I want to read nonstop for 24 hours!

Me at hour zero: Whatever, I think I’ll just watch YouTube crap all day.

***

It’s pretty frustrating to know about all of the things that I honestly want to do, knowing that life is short, and still knowing that I am the biggest obstacle to me achieving my own goals. I had a birthday recently. Forty is getting closer, but I still don’t think I’ve really started acting like an adult.

I want to write. So, I’m going to write. That’s how adult-ing works, yeah?

Just Another Drop in the Ocean

Lately I’ve been spending my life watching YouTube.

On YouTube, you get a nugget of information (taken with a grain of salt), a giggle, a cringe, and then suddenly it’s three hours past your bedtime. There’s something compulsive about watching just one more five minute video. Not a ten minute video. Ho no! Ain’t nobody got time for that. But a dozen five minute videos?  Sure, why not?

So it’s no surprise that as my creative bug starts to wake back up, my gut instinct has been to start filming content for my little YouTube channel. A vlog, maybe, or I could talk all about bullet journaling, or writing, or maybe just make hundreds of cat videos. Better yet, I could do it all! Unboxing, product testing, pranks!

I went so far as to buy a little tripod for the old digital camera and started brainstorming script ideas. And then I procrastinated by watching more YouTube videos.

procrastinate

Recently I found out that something like 300 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day.

Yeah, I have zero interest in producing YouTube videos now.

It’s the same with my writing. How many millions of books are available to read on Amazon? How many magazines and blogs are desperate to get a single reader? The competition is fierce, and I’m just not competitive.

Anything I do creatively, I have to do for myself first. If I wanted recognition of any kind, I would have to change the way I do everything. And then I would be beholden to strangers for their attention and approval. It would be like reliving high school, and I am not doing that.

I have to ask myself, why bother? Why spend the time and energy to create a thing if I truly do not care whether or not others will enjoy it, especially when it means that my video/novel will just be another drop in the ocean?

Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 8.51.11 PM

We recently moved to Fairbanks, Alaska. One of the few remaining open Blockbuster Video stores is here, and I love it. We usually visit once a week. Yeah, returning the discs stinks and yes, they don’t have everything. But there’s something to be said for wandering through the aisles and picking out something to watch.

Netflix and Amazon online video services are great, but there is no real browsing to be done. They use algorithms to point out content that you’re likely to enjoy, and sometimes they’re right. But what about the genres I don’t normally watch? What about that amazing movie that was released before I was born and isn’t even available digitally yet? And who wants to spend hours surfing through thumbnails of “related” titles when you really want to watch something new and different?

It’s like book stores. Sure there’s a big selection, but it’s strictly curated by the business owner. They want you to spend your money, and they fill the shelf with things they think you want to buy. We actually canceled our Netflix subscription. Having DVDs shipped to our house in Fairbanks was prohibitively time consuming, and their instant view portal is obnoxious (via the Playstation anyway). I would much rather wander through Blockbuster.

This is why I hope Blockbuster makes a comeback and used book stores never go away. Variety is the spice of life, right? But the algorithm depends on your tastes being consistent. I said it before and I’ll say it again:

angtft

 

P.S. After re-reading this, I realize that if my point is “why bother?” in addition to “variety is the spice of life,” then wouldn’t that mean that my creative offerings are “spice” and not just another drop? *shrugs* The ocean is already pretty polluted.

Short Story Exercise: Light a Match

(using the book Playful Way to Serious Writing, set the timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase, “light a match,” lightly edited)

Carol swiped the paper book of matches from the ash tray on the table. Smiling slyly at the handsome man seated next to her, she tore off a match and hit it against the striker on the back. The paper match folded in half, unlit. The man, fresh cigarette waiting between his lips, winked at her.

Carol tossed the wasted match to the floor, flipped her hair over her shoulder (she’d read that men love that), and grabbed another match. Unfortunately when she tore it she managed to leave most of the match in the packet. With a nervous giggle she doggedly pulled yet another match from the pack.

The man leaned forward, presenting his unlit cigarette. Carol smiled then tapped the gray match head on the striker. It did not light. She tapped it again. Then again. She tried holding the match sideways, then tried sawing the match back and forth. She smelled burning and brought the match to her eyes. The head was black and dull. She blushed and shrugged at the man. He leaned back in his chair and began searching his pockets for his lighter.

Quickly Carol ripped three more matches out of the pack. She bunched the heads together between her fingers and forcefully pushed them across the back. They lit! And the bright flame immediately burned her finger tips. Carol cried out and threw the lit matches onto the table. Chuckling, the man quickly pinched out the small flames, lit his cigarette with the Zippo from his pocket, and excused himself.

Carol glared down at the book of matches on the table. The bar’s logo was printed on the flap in tacky gold lettering. The Bar Room,” she muttered. “Stupid name for a stupid bar.”

A few minutes later the man returned to her table, smiling and carrying two pints of beer. He placed a glass in front of Carol and resumed his seat. She was elated…until he casually pulled a match from the book and lit it with his thumb nail.

Short Story Exercise: Have a Drink

(using the book The Playful Way to Serious Writing, set the timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase “have a drink,” edited a bit)

Jarys was pleased with his disguise. He wore carefully inked Chuck Taylor shoes, stone washed blue jeans, a shiny silk T shirt, and two gold chains. His curly silver hair was gelled into the exact same shape as that popular boy’s from the TV show. On each wrist, he wore the biggest gold watch he could find. He completed the look with skull rings on his pinkies.

And so it was that Jarys, an adventurous creature from a planet somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy, strolled into a biker bar in South Dakota. The bar patrons quieted as Jarys sauntered through the bar. A few snickers sounded from the pool table and the bar fly raised her eyebrows at him.

Jarys was confused. These people looked bizarre with their black leather, tattoos, and wrinkled skin. And no one on his TV screen wore bandannas on top of their head. But Jarys reasoned that he had only watched the one channel. Perhaps these people were on another frequency. So he gamely waved at everyone staring at him and smiled, baring his pointed cerulean teeth.

“What’ll you have?” the bartender said, unfazed.

“I will have a beer.” Jarys said, then slapped his hand on the bar for effect.

The bartender popped the cap off a Budweiser and placed it on a napkin. Jarys ceremoniously handed the man a one hundred pound note. Then he raised the bottle to his lips and drained it.

No one could have predicted what happened next.

A high pitched, abrasive shriek ruptured the eardrums of everyone still in the bar. Jarys fell to the floor, his legs kicking the air as he continued to scream. And before anyone knew what was happening Jarys’s abdomen exploded, drenching everyone with his acidic, black innards.

Short Story Exercise: Swim Laps

(using this book, set a timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase “swim laps,” edited lightly)

Lester kicked off the wall to begin his third lap. As the cool water flowed over him, the stress from his day melted away. Joining the YMCA near his office was probably the best thing he had done for himself in years. In the evenings, the pool was deserted. The loiterers and the screaming children had all gone home, allowing Lester to exercise in peace. 

At the end of his eighth lap he rested his arms on the edge and peered through the dark windows as he bobbed up and down in the water. What few stars he could see twinkled at him, and the pine trees in the parking lot swayed in a gentle breeze.

Lester rolled back and leisurely swam to the other side of the pool. Using a variation of playful strokes he made his way back towards the window, anxious to gaze at the stars a little longer. But when he got to the other side, he forgot all about the stars. Two shadowy figures were standing on the other side of the glass. Just then, the parking lot lights blinked out.

There was knocking on the glass, each blow louder than the last. It took Lester a moment to realize these people were not knocking; they were trying to break through.

Panicked, he started for the other side of the pool, the side closer to the locker rooms. But it was too late. The glass splintered, and with a final blow it shattered.

Two men in ski masks pushed their way through, dragging a large black bag behind them.

Who would rob a YMCA? Lester wondered as he tried to maneuver himself into the center of the pool where he was confident he would be safe. They won’t jump in, he reasoned. Not to rob a man in his swim trunks.

In fact, the men paid him no attention. They pulled the bag to the far edge of the pool, unzipped it and slowly tipped it over the water. Lester couldn’t be sure, but he thought he could hear them chanting. Curiosity took over and he watched with wonder as hundreds of furry brown balls dropped into the water. The second the balls touched the liquid they erupted into foamy, hissing bubbles.

Lester, understandably alarmed by the foaming balls in the pool, resumed his escape plan.

Short Story Exercise: Escaping the Farm

(rolled a D12, took that number of random Rory’s Story Cubes, shook ’em up, dropped on table, arranged in order they fell top-to-bottom, wrote short story)

When Brandon came home from the bank, he walked straight past Daisy in the kitchen and entered his bedroom. There he emptied the envelope’s contents onto his old comforter and started counting. The teller had counted it, too, but he wanted to see it stacked, wanted to feel each piece of money in his hands. He formed a pile of twenties, a small pile of ones, then arranged the coins in descending stacks.

“So that’s what a summer of mowing lawns gets you,” Daisy said from the doorway, smiling and shaking her head in that sisterly condescending way.

Brandon crossed the room and shut the door in her face. She didn’t understand. Daisy had never had a problem taking money from their parents or their grandparents. But to Brandon, every cent he took hurt like a bruise, a mark of weakness and greed. He gazed at the money on his bed. He had earned every last cent himself, and no one could take that from him.

After a moment’s hesitation he toppled the neat stacks and swirled the money into a large pile. He pushed his fingers through it, squeezing an odd bunch of coins, crumpling a few bills together. He scooped it into his hands and rained it down onto the bed with a laugh. Satisfied, he gathered up his bounty and stashed it in the piggy bank hidden in his closet.

***

Brandon rose with the sun the next morning. There were chores to do before he left for school and the farm house was already humming with activity. Dancing around his siblings in the kitchen, Brandon managed to gulp down a mug of coffee and put a square of toast in his mouth before going outside. The older girls took care of the cow and the chickens and his little brother was on hog duty. Brandon was in charge of the sheep and horses. Their father was already in the fields riding the old John Deere and their mother, once breakfast was cleaned up, would tend to the dogs and the cats.

By the time his work was finished, Brandon barely had time to clean himself up and catch the bus. But he still rode to school with a smile on his face. This was the first day of his last year. One more school year, then he was free to leave.

After school he met up with two of his friends. They took turns riding a dirt bike until one of them managed to wreck it, dislocating his shoulder in the process. Brandon made it home in time for dinner, and then it was up to his room to count the money he’d been saving for years once again.

But when he pulled the giant plastic Coke bottle out of his closet, it was no longer full of money. In the poor light Brandon couldn’t tell exactly what was in the bank, but he knew his cash was gone…and he had an idea who took it. He hoisted the bottle over his shoulder and strode to Daisy’s room.

She was sitting on her bed painting her toenails with Katy Perry blasting from her stereo. 

“Give it back,” Brandon said, snapping the stereo off.

Daisy shrieked when she saw the Coke bottle. “No, don’t! I’m sorry, okay?! I thought it would be funny. Please don’t dump that in here!”

Still not knowing what was in the bottle, Brandon tipped it over her bed and said, “Give it back. Now. Or else.” He gave the bottle a little shake and a dead cockroach dropped onto her bedspread.

Daisy screamed and kicked, dumping nail polish onto the carpet. Brandon stared wide-eyed at the piggy bank. Now he could see the little legs, the brown masses, and he roared with laughter. Daisy tried to run out of the room, but Brandon blocked the exit, pointing the bank at her like a weapon. “Where’s my money?” he demanded.

“I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry!!!!” She yanked open her closet door and dug through piles of clothes, shoes, costume jewelry and old Barbies. Finally, she dragged out one of her tall boots and upended it. Coins and wads of cash fell onto the floor.

“Where did you even get this many dead cockroaches?” Brandon asked, curious.

“My boyfriend. He got them. And filled the bottle up,” she said, red faced.

“You have a…boyfriend?” Brandon’s voice dropped an octave. “What’s his name, and where is he right now?”

Daisy made an exasperated noise. “You’re so stupid! I can have a boyfriend if I want. I’m old enough.”

Brandon put the Coke bottle on her dresser and calmly picked up his money. What wouldn’t fit in his pockets he could carry in his hands. He stood and said, “I’ll give you one more chance. What’s his name, and where is he?”

Daisy stuck out her tongue.

Brandon shrugged, called out, “OOPS,” and hit the Coke bottle with his elbow. When it hit the ground, the lid broke off spilling hundreds of dead cockroaches onto the carpet. Daisy screamed louder than Brandon could laugh, but at least he had his money back.

***

The following spring, Brandon was ready to go. He’d graduated from high school and had packed the few things he wanted to keep in a single sturdy suitcase. He said goodbye to his sisters and spent an extra few minutes with his kid brother to give him a “you’re man of the house now” pep talk. His mother was crying and his dad, well, he gave him a gruff “See ya later, kid,” before passing him a sweaty twenty dollar bill. Brandon’s gut ached at the idea of taking the money from his father, but he swallowed his disgust and thanked him. With a final nod to his siblings, Brandon stepped onto the green and gray striped bus that would take him far from the farm, all the way to another planet.

***

Eight months later, Daisy got a package in the mail. When she realized it had shipped from New Venus, she squealed and ran to her mother who was in the backyard hanging laundry on the clothesline.

“Mama! It’s from Brandon!”

Mother gasped and hollered for the other kids to come and see what Brandon had sent. To date they had only received signed postcards and the occasional money order, always with a promise that he would send more when he could.

Once everyone was gathered around, Daisy opened the envelope taped to the box. Brandon wrote, “Daisy, here’s something I picked up for you that reminds me of home. Love, Brandon.” There was also a money order, made out to his mother, and another promise that more was on the way.

Daisy handed the papers to her mother then tore into the box. Inside she found chocolate brown tissue paper, folded and closed with a fancy foil sticker that read, “Dark Chocolate Confections.”

“Oh my gosh, yum!” Daisy ripped apart the paper…then screamed at the sight of a dozen eight-inch Venusian cockroaches, dipped in chocolate and covered with sprinkles.

rory-escaping-the-farm

Short Story Exercise: Give Birth

(using this book, set timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase “give birth,” edited lightly)

Henry stared at Callie. Callie stared back and grimaced. A small plop echoed through the chamber.

“How many does that make?” Henry asked.

“You expect me to count, too?” she growled back.

Henry shrugged and brought his foot to his mouth. After carefully sniffing it, he bit at one of his claws then began to lick the pads.

“Pay attention to me!” Callie hissed. Another plop.

He looked at her coolly. “You know the more of those you squeeze out, the more food I have to find.”

“Shoulda thought of that before you ate their daddy! Unh.” Plop.

Henry listened to the sounds of the tiny, squirming, hairless bodies beneath them. One squeaked pitifully. Already they were hungry. With one paw, he casually traced circles over his oblong belly, slid his tongue over his teeth, and sighed.

Plop.

“Henry,” Cassie warned, “I’ll give you the damn afterbirth but you are not eating the babes. Not again.”

He smirked. “Like you’d miss ’em.”

Cassie frowned and adjusted her bulk over the birthing stool. Gingerly she poked at her womb. Empty, finally. She raised herself up and looked into the pot. “Seventeen, eighteen…twenty two, twenty three…”

“One for you, one for me…” Henry muttered.

Cassie swung her hips towards him and with a grunt dumped the afterbirth into Henry’s lap. Then she covered the pot with her cape and rolled it to the back of the cave where she wouldn’t be able to hear him eat.