Breaking: high schooler discovers obsession, labels it “passion”

Recently in Humanities, my teacher had the class do word association to demonstrate a point. I forget what that point was, but I did learn something, which I’m sure was one of the teacher’s objectives. When he read the word “spread,” most of my peers wrote “butter” or “hazelnut” or “thin.” As instructed, I wrote down the first words that came to mind: “yearbook, newspaper” (page layouts in yearbook are called “spreads”). Call me crazy, but I think this may indicate an obsession with journalism.

I like to say that my “obsessions” are “passions” because people tend to respect those more, so, to clarify, I am “passionate about” copy-editing, news-writing and interviewing, not “infatuated with.”

I stumbled into the newsroom quite on accident when I was in eighth grade. The English teacher at the small private school I attended at the time decided to start a school newspaper. She invited me on as the “Entertainment Editor.” Basically, she wanted me to write a column about my day-to-day experiences (pretty similar to this blog, actually). I agreed to join, and ended up really appreciating my bimonthly column in lieu of actual reporting. Not much happens in a K-12 school of 150 kids, and if anything does happen, it’s usually the same five kids making it happen, so the news writing gets mundane and repetitive.

Freshman year, I took Beginning Journalism as a prerequisite to joining the Free Press staff at my new, large public high school.  I learned AP Style basics, watched a surprising amount of news-related movies and drew a ton of pictures of sheep in suits with monocles and bow ties.

When I applied to be on staff for my sophomore year, I remember telling my mom that I had no interest in being an editor because editors had to do too much work and I just wanted to write stories. Now, looking back as Editor-in-Chief for the 2014-15 school year, I still agree with half of my 9th grade belief: editors do too much work.

As a sophomore, I realized newspaper was my niche. The required  day-to-day communication with strangers pulled me, the shy private school kid, out of my shell. At semester, I was promoted to Social Media Editor. While I felt like I had a position similar to Dwight Schrute’s role of “Assistant to the Regional Manager” in The Office, I noticed that some people didn’t have a title, even a made-up one, so I still felt a little important.

I still remember the pride I felt during the week second semester sophomore year when the National Scholastic Press Association accidentally included the Free Press in the list of National Pacemaker Finalists. Even though NSPA quickly rescinded the honor, claiming the Free Press was added due to a clerical error, not every school is a National Pacemaker Finalist for a week due to a clerical error, so I still felt a little important.

When I returned to the Free Press in the Fall of my junior year as co-Online Editor-in-Chief, my true passion was awakened. With the ability to make decisions to improve the publication, I found myself disregarding other schoolwork so I could learn HTML and assign stories. I tried revamping the website with online-only content, fancy widgets and staff blogs. While the website still received a “fair” rating at the JEMKC Regional Contest, it was a way better “fair” rating than it got last year, and I’m certain that next year, we will be “good” at least.

As I finish rereading the Humanities-required Machiavelli’s The Prince to prepare for my reign as Supreme Overlord of the Newsroom–I mean Editor-in-Chief–I want to thank my Humanities teacher for another real life application.  The first Free Press issue produced by the 2014-15 staff comes out on Thursday, and I could not be more excited.

 

Stuff I Do Instead of Stuff I’m Supposed to Do

Procrastination is a topic that is incredibly overdone, but I don’t feel like I would be true teenager if I didn’t mention it. I often avoid homework in the typical fashion. I scroll through Twitter and Instagram. I watch Netflix. I eat. However, I think I have some atypical ways to procrastinate as well. Here’s a list:

1. I write blog posts. This is what I like to call “productive procrastination” because I’m not numbing my mind in front of an Xbox for hours on end–I’m cultivating it through self-expression, or something eloquent like that. I want to write for a living, so practicing is obviously more important than calculus.

2. I paint my toenails. I actually hate most nail polish varieties, but painting nails is like miniature real painting, and I like painting. I think the fumes help keep me awake long enough to do the stuff I’m supposed to be doing–like calculus.

3.  I google what the toe next to the pinky toe is called. After I apply the last coating of polish and finally open my calc textbook, turn on my calculator, sharpen my pencil and get out a fresh sheet of notebook paper, I look down at my now brightly-colored toes. I notice how some of the polish is not quite on some of  my toenails. Then I realize that I accidentally rubbed up against something, and the polish on the toe next to my pinky toe on my left foot is smudged. Then I start wondering what that toe is called.  Is it the one that went to market? The one that got roast beef? The other one that did something else market-related? I quickly open the family laptop, knowing that I cannot proceed with such trifling pastimes as calculus when important life questions beg to be answered.

4. I remove the paint from my toenails. Somewhat satisfied to learn that Answers.com thinks that the toe next to my pinky toe is called a “wedding ring toe,” I sit back down in front of my textbook. I try for a good 30 seconds to do the first problem, and then I decided to take the polish off of my toes in order to give my brain a rest as a reward for its commendable effort.

5. I clean my gerbil cage. After removing most of the hideous coloring from my toes with a cotton ball and some good old ethyl acetate, I slump into my the chair in front of my desk, pick up my no. 2 pencil and take a deep breath, ready to begin. Except, as I inhale, I don’t like the tingle in my nostrils. Some would blame the unpleasant aroma on nail polish and nail polish remover fumes, but I know better. I glance over at my gerbils’ tank. I haven’t cleaned it out in a good 4-6 weeks, and I decide that now would be an ideal time to do so. I won’t go into the entire process, but it involves lathering the tank’s insides with generous amounts of bleach while racing to finish before the gerbils chew through their temporary living accommodations.

6. I build my gerbils a castle. I am in front of my desk again. I look over at my loving little rodents in their nice, clean home. They don’t look happy. An untrained eye would think that the gerbils’ snuggling and cuddling was a sign of comfort and elation, but I know better. My gerbils are bored, and, as a result, lethargic. I go to the pantry and grab as many boxes as I can carry, leaving the now unboxed cereal and cracker bags naked on their shelves. I go back to my desk and put my calculus supplies in my book bag–I will need plenty of space. After 30 minutes of cutting and stacking, I finish my masterpiece and put it in the tank. I can tell they appreciate the change as they begin frantically gnawing on an empty Cheerios box to create a new entrance.

7. I watch my gerbils destroy the castle. This takes about an hour and is very entertaining.

8. I build them another castle. They enjoyed the first one so much that it would be cruel to deprive them of a second. Also, as I watched them chew the first one, I learned from Google that if gerbils don’t have an abundance of cardboard to chew on, their teeth get too long, and they are unable to eat anything so they starve to death. Nobody wants that. Plus, I have leftover supplies all over my desk, and I need to get rid of them in order to accommodate my homework…

9. I watch celebrities do impressions of other celebrities on YouTube. I don’t really know how this always ends up happening. One minute I’m finding a particle’s acceleration, and the next, I’m watching  Benedict Cumberbatch impersonate Chewbacca.

Did He See Me? I Think He Saw Me…

I had heard the rumors. Guys on the coasts were, on average, above average. When I went to Boston last week for the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention,  I planned to find the lucky boy I was going to marry and learn about newspaper or whatever. To qualify, my future husband had to be a somewhat attractive individual of the opposite sex with a Bostonian accent. I like to set realistic expectations.

On the first day of the trip, I fell in love with the luggage guy at the airport and the waiter at 5 Napkin Burger. After that, I fell in love with everybody. I felt that everyone back home should be able to enjoy the Bostonian men’s incredible physique and fashion sense, so I became an expert at creeping. The quantity of pictures below is scarcely an adequate representation of the number of fake selfies I took on my trip in order to capture secret snapshots of the demigods behind me. Unfortunately, the majority of my photos completely missed my subject or were incredibly blurry–it’s hard to take quality photographs of people you don’t know without alerting them to your creepiness.

Click on a picture below and enjoy. If you live in Boston and happen to find a photograph  in this gallery that resembles yourself, then I feel at legal obligation to inform you that all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

My Obsessions

I would like to begin by sincerely thanking my friends who have listened to me yap at them for hours upon hours about how they need to join me in making shuriken out of CDs and animals out of balloons. I would like to thank my family for putting up with me explaining how I planned to conquer the next computer game level or telling them, in detail, the plot of my new favorite show’s latest episode.  I would also like to thank anyone who has successfully redirected a conversation with me away from my current obsession. You, sir, have immense skill and patience.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with something. I’ve decided that, if it’s possible, I’m going to compile a list of everything I’ve ever obsessed over, ever:

Ages 0-5

Teletubbies–I loved them. I remember telling my dad that he couldn’t take me to preschool until the morning’s episode’s credits were finished rolling. Po was very important to me.

Hula Hoop–I got a yellow plastic hula hoop for my fifth birthday, and I had to conquer this art form. My parents were required to evaluate the progress of my hula-ing skill by clapping one to 10 times to indicate the success of my last attempt. This obsession served me well in field day hula hooping competitions. I never lost.

puzzles–Fitting together scenes from The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians and Chicken Run occupied much of my time as a five year old. Sometimes, I would accidentally stay up all night, tiling my floor with jigsaw cardboard. I wasn’t interested in anything over 50 pieces though because that’s ridiculous.

Survivor–My parents were also obsessed, but I was a tad bit over the top. I was pretty much in love with Jeff Probst.

101 Dalmatians–I owned like 30 miniature figures from this movie. I colored their heads with crayon to make tribal buffs, and then I made them play Survivor.

Ages 6-10

Dogs–After my parents secretly got rid of my two Yorkies when I was six, I wanted another dog. When they refused, I wrote them a strongly worded, poorly spelled letter about how I would never think about dogs ever again because I would never ever get one, and that was all my parents’ fault.

Bug-Catching

Freddi Fish computer games–these were the best. After I coerced my parents into purchasing the latest adventure episode, I would spend my every waking hour developing strategies for proving that Luther’s uncle Blenny didn’t steal the Founder’s Day Festival’s conch shell. I was only allowed to play on the computer for 30 minutes a day, so I had plenty of time to divulge my strategies’ mechanics to my parents during the other 23 hours and 30 minutes.

Crickets

Kim Possible–Kim Possible was at 3:30 p.m. every week day. I watched religiously, and I played the online games, which are actually still really fun.

Barbie Pet Rescue–This was my favorite computer game in which you rescued kitties, turtles and puppies from barns, wells and playgrounds. There are no competitors in that field really.

Fairies–most of my life has been spent hating girly stereotypes, but for the week in which my mom decorated my bedroom, I loved glitter and pixie dust. I lived in a room covered with my brief lapse of judgement for three, long years.

Hermit crabs

Leprechauns–I totally didn’t believe in them until my kindergarten teacher showed us little leprechaun clothes in her little leprechaun traps, proving that she’d almost caught one. I constructed an entire house out of building blocks, furnished with tiny chairs and tables for the magic creatures to stay. I cut out tiny photos for them to look at while they ate the plate of cheerios I put on the tiny table, and I was sorely disappointed when I didn’t have nearly as much success as Ms. Johnson.

Club Penguin–My accounts on Club Penguin were short-lived because I was a bit of a troll. I would make fun of members for paying money to play a computer game, serenade other penguins and then switch worlds without saying goodbye, and cleverly work around the safe chat restrictions to insult my fellow flightless birds. Moderators could ban access to my accounts, but they couldn’t ban my swag.

RuneScape–RuneScape was freaking awesome, but one time my dad walked in while I was mercilessly slaying an ogre, and he decided that it was too violent for a 10 year old.

The Suite Life of Zach and Cody–if you weren’t obsessed with this show, then you weren’t living.

Ages 11-15

Warriors–These are some good books about cats that live in clans and kill each other sometimes.

Rhett and Link

Anime–I wasn’t obsessed with reading manga, but I spent way too much time drawing characters in the Anime and Chibi styles.

Duct tape wallets

KoreanI was obsessed with Korean because this guy in my class in seventh grade was from South Korea, and I thought his culture was intriguing.

reading

walking my cat on a leash–I dreamed of strutting down the sidewalk with my loyal feline trotting at my side, but my efforts were fruitless because my cat is terrified of the world beyond her front door. The second I got her outside, she would wiggle out of the harness and run to the screen door, meowing pitifully for someone to rescue her from my antics.

Basketball

unicycling, juggling and making balloon animals–Apparently in eighth grade, I aspired to become a clown in a crappy circus or something.

Monk

Sepak Takraw–As far as I know, this sport is exclusively played in Asian countries. I can only describe it as volleyball with feet. This obsession didn’t last long because I’m not remotely coordinated enough to even try to play the game.

Cake Boss

origami–I still fold occasionally, but I used to do it exclusively. In class, after school, before school, during lunch, anytime was crane folding time.

Psych

Rubik’s cube–I can solve 2/3 of a Rubik’s cube because of a three week period in eighth grade. I am also the proud owner of a speed cube, a 3×1 cube and a key-chain cube.

America’s Got Talent

CD Shuriken–Pretty sure that I’m the reason Veritas Christian School specifically bans throwing stars in their handbook. I would cut blank CDs into sharply-pointed stars, tape pushpins on the ends of the points and then throw my creations at people, inanimate objects and wild animals.

Britain’s Got Talent

Gerbils–check out my blog entry My Gerbil Farm if you want to know how that worked out.

Australia’s Got Talent

Hemp bracelet making–yes, I have always been a hipster.

Spinning a basketball on my finger

Age 16

Getting a dog–If anyone wondered, Maltese are the best small dog breed. I know because I spent three months researching them and saving to buy one. I scrapped my plan 20 library books and $500 saved later because I realized I don’t have time to take care of a dog, and I’m going to go to college without my pets in two years anyway.

newspaper–I spend way too much time editing stories, writing stories and working on the online paper. I need to get a life.

Doctor Who and Sherlock–Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are the most brilliant television writers ever, and that is all I have to say on the matter.

Pennyboarding–it’s better than skateboarding.

Reading classics–I got 23 classic novels from a retired librarian’s garage sale, and I have made it my personal mission to read them all before I graduate high school.

Gluten-free–two months ago, I joined the ever-widening ranks of the gluten-free hipster army.

My list could probably keep going, but I realize now that I don’t have time to write down all of my obsessions. I think everyone gets the point: I don’t have a life, and I never have had one. I’m completely okay with that.

My VeggieTales Fanfic Phase

It was the third day of sixth grade. My teacher stood at the front of the room and announced our assignment: a fifteen minute free write. She explained that this would be a daily assignment, and that at the end of the allotted writing time, whoever wanted to share their work could come to the front of the classroom and read their creations aloud in front of their peers.

I felt an excited shiver race down my spine. Since the year before, I had kept a daily journal about recess drama and after school shenanigans, but I’d never shared these private writings with anybody. The idea of standing in front of the scrutinizing audience of tweens that were my peers and presenting the fruit of fifteen minutes of hard work was terrifying and electrifying at the same time. I took out a blank sheet of college-ruled notebook paper, sharpened my number 2 pencil and frantically looked around the room for ideas. Then I saw him. Bob the Tomato.

As my artistic illustration in my first free write shows, Bob the Tomato glared down from his lofty perch at the innocent sixth grade class.

As my artistic illustration in my first free write shows, Bob the Tomato glared down from his lofty perch at the innocent sixth grade class.

Until ninth grade, I attended Veritas Christian School. Most of my classmates spent their early years in church watching episodes of VeggieTales, a religious cartoon in which animated vegetables act out Bible stories. Bob the Tomato and his friend Larry the Cucumber host the show, and various types of fresh produce costar. BigIdea Entertainment created VeggieTales and other children’s television programs to teach kids about God. Love, kindness and compassion are themes of the shows, but when I looked up and saw a Bob the Tomato stuffed animal, I didn’t see the the love of God in his big, plastic eyes –I saw the evil glint of a serial killer.

My realization of Bob’s true, villainous identity sent my pencil scribbling wildly.  Below is an excerpt from one of my nine episodes of “The Revenge of the Tomato,” my first and only attempt at a fanfic. I have typed out my selection because I don’t want to force people to read my handwriting. SPELLING AND PUNCTUATION HAVE NOT BEEN ALTERED.

More Revenge of the… Tomato!!

Revenge of the Tomato

Revenge of the Tomato

Once a children’s tv host, Bob the tomato has resorted to a life of crime.

He has gone from a 6 digit salary to a life of gambling, winner takes all, losers however take nothing.

He is almost untracable, hiding in the various forms of his popular plush toys. Big Idea still sells these toys as to not scare children about this evil tomato.

After the murder of 20 french peas, the asparguas with no name and MA grape, Big Idea sent Bob to a maximum security prison in Moose Lake, South Dakota.

After an amazing escape, which information is not availible to the public, people, vegitation and money have been going missing.

Madame Blueberry says “if Bob is not captured, I will resign!”

Blog More Revenge Part 2

More Revenge of the Tomato

However poor Madame Blueberry never had the chance, there was a tickbomb in her gown she was to wear in a movie which name has not been given out for safty of BigIdea, and she exploded…

(End)

When I presented this story to the class, I gained my peers’ admiration. Compliments from my colleagues fueled my fire to write more stories, the gruesomer the better. My sweet, Christian teacher could only listen to me pollute my classmates’ minds with brutal butcher knife slayings for so long, and she requested that I “wrap it up.” Below is an excerpt from my final episode:

The Revenge of the Tomato Episode 8: The end of Bob

Forced to cease composing my murder thrillers, I bid ado to my serial killer saga.

Forced to cease composing my murder thrillers, I bid ado to my serial killer saga.

Because this story has disturbed the minds of 6th grade students, I have been asked by their teacher to end this true tale because I guess some people just can’t handle it. So I will not be able to tell you the gruesome details about what he did to an eggplant, his fight with Preston the Jewish pumpkin or when he froze Junior Asparagus and dropped him from the highest Bumbleburg building. Instead, I will continue writing, but first give a good ending for this classroom. That shall be Bob’s death. Now you probably won’t understand why he is in the sea of the pirates who don’t do anything and because I can’t write anymore, I guess you won’t know. You will also not under stand why his butcher knife is dripping with gourd juice and his ninja suit is slightly torn and he is on a raft with a ‘Join the darkside we have cookies’ bumpersticker. And I can’t tell you.

(End)

I waited a couple months after I ended Bob’s life for my teacher to calm down, and then I wrote this poem:

The tomato named bob, poetry addition

The poetry edition of my fanfic.

The poetry edition of my fanfic.

Bob was a tomato as red as a cherry,

who killed many vegtables and Madame Blueberry,

he slaughtered the penguins 1-3, which

surprised grandma and twins after tea,

he murdered larry the cucumber by severing his head,

and all of Bob’s victums were pronounced dead.

Pa Grape he grabbed and dragged away,

the wrath of the tomato this grape did pay,

he killed more than to number,

and made it hard for greens to slumber,

and finally this rampage came to an end,

because of a Jonah Whale, a friend,

Bob is dead, but his ghost still looms, around his victums lonely tombs.

(End)

Obscure Quotes I Use in Everyday Life

I don’t watch very many movies or television shows, but when I do, the randomest lines find a home in my longterm memory. Below are some of the borrowed phrases I continue to sprinkle into my everyday speech long after I first viewed them on the big screen.

“And so, we shall go to war!” – Pirates of the Caribbean 3

Usage: When the mood in the room is tense, I like breaking the silence with this quote in my chipmunk voice.

“Just trust the bear.” – Alaska

Brief Explanation: Four years ago, my family went on vacation in Florida with some close family friends for a week. While we were there, my mom had the brilliant idea to have all 11 of us watch a family-friendly movie. “Alaska” fit the “family-friendly movie” bill. In it, two children search for their father in the Alaskan wilderness and almost starve to death while following their guide, a polar bear cub. The children are nearly rescued by a Native American, but he decides to let them continue their expedition without adequate supplies instead of returning them to civilization because the polar bear cub is the father’s spirit animal or something.

Usage: When it becomes blatantly obvious that the problem at hand cannot be solved, saying this phrase lightens the mood of those involved. It also confuses the heck out of those who haven’t had the pleasure of sitting through a two and a half hour movie about spirit animal searching.

“Well that escalated quickly.” – Anchorman

Usage: I say this when one minute we’re talking about how elephants have funny noses, and the next someone comes out as an elephant nose self-esteem activist that doesn’t appreciate the friendly banter.

“Oh banana, why’d you have to get all brooOOoown and mushy?” – Sid the Science Kid

Brief Explanation: My brothers watched Sid the Science Kid before school every morning for like three years. It was always the same episode about rotting bananas, but I still don’t know how it ends because we always left for school about halfway through.

Usage: When I see a brown and mushy banana, this comes to mind.

“I see you’re drinking 1%. Is that cuz you think you’re fat? Cuz you’re not. You could be drinking whole if you wanted to.” – Napoleon Dynamite

Usage: When someone is drinking 1% milk, I say this in my Napoleon Dynamite voice. Usually, the milk drinker has never seen Napoleon Dynamite, and they just give me a puzzled frown because they don’t have good movie taste or a sense of humor.

“And they don’t think I know a butt load of crap about the gospel, but I do!” – Nacho Libre

Usage: Whenever my eight years of Christian education come in handy, I say this to avoid the “holier than thou” mentality that’s associated with random, deeply religious references.

“Ah, my old shool house.” – Mega Mind

Usage: When I drive by my school in the summer, I say this with nostalgia out the rolled down window, and then I step on the accelerator in my custom baby seal leather boots.

“No annoying sounds.” – Despicable Me

Usage: When my brothers are making annoying sounds, I growl this at them, and they respond by drumming on their cheeks and asking, “Does this count as annoying?”

“You’re 16, you go to school.” – Princess Protection Program

Brief Explanation: I didn’t even see this movie, but I did see the commercials. That line was on all of them.

Usage: I have to tell myself this some mornings when I would much rather lay in bed than go to zero hour.

“Don’t tell me what to do.” – Drake and Josh

Usage: When someone tells me to have a nice day, I remind them that I do what I want.

“I’m da first one on da new road!” – Cars

Usage: I make this Mater reference when I’m driving on a freshly laid stretch of asphalt.

“I’ve heard it both ways…” – Psych

Usage: I pronounce words incorrectly on a daily basis, and this is how I respond to the people who go out of their way to point out my error.