Debbie and the Large Pumpkin

Once upon a time, there lived two mice who were the very best of friends. Debbie and Gwenie were inseparable. They did everything together: the mundane and the exciting. They would talk and laugh endlessly and it was said they even breathed in time. It would be surprising if someone thought they didn’t have a telepathic connection.

They were the very best of friends at birth, and to all it seemed they would continue to be the very best of friends until they were buried side-by-side. That is, until last September, when the annual city-wide pumpkin-growing competition began. Debbie decided she’d enter because it could be fun. Gwenie didn’t think it was worth the effort, but as any good friend, she encouraged Debbie. Neither of them expected this pumpkin-growing competition to be the end.

***

Debbie wanted to win this competition. She needed to be the Pumpkin Champion. She didn’t know why, but the title seemed more important than life itself. So she gave her life to the pumpkin. She watered it and gave it fertilizer. She put the pot on wheels and rolled it around the yard to follow the sun across the sky, her little mouse muscles straining as the wheels forced their way through the grass. She whispered to the pumpkin, loved it. At night, she stood on top of it and wielded her rake to fight off any animals that might come to devour it.

Debbie did not eat, she did not sleep. Gwenie brought her food like clockwork, but she never smiled. Debbie now breathed in time with the pumpkin, not Gwenie. Debbie was snappish and skittish, never allowing Gwenie near the pumpkin and never straying far from it. After a few weeks of this, Gwenie stopped trying to speak to Debbie at all. She left the food on the back porch and vanished.

Debbie was not always with her pumpkin. Everyday, at a random time (to throw off sabotagers), Debbie set a crate over her pumpkin to protect it and left the garden. She peered over her neighbor’s fences, scoping out the competition. As she watched the pumpkins, a sense of victory filled her. Her pumpkin was significantly larger than any of these ants. Except for Tessie’s pumpkin. Tessie was outside at all hours, polishing her pumpkin. Her pumpkin appeared as large as Debbie’s.

***

The day before the Ultimate Public Pumpkin Weighing, Debbie was pacing circles around her pumpkin. Most of the pumpkins weren’t even a quarter of the size of Debbie’s. Debbie’s pumpkin had outgrown four pots and she could barely push it around the yard anymore. But still, she was not guaranteed the Pumpkin Championship. Tessie’s pumpkin was just as large. Debbie just might get second. Debbie could not lose everything she had worked toward, everything she had ever wanted.

That night, Debbie drilled a small hole in the top of her pumpkin and dropped pebbles inside. The pumpkin was halfway full when she ran out of pebbles in her yard, so, in the middle of the night, Debbie took a wheelbarrow to Gwenie’s house and stole all her rocks. Gwenie did not see.

***

Debbie won the Pumpkin Championship by a large margin. Her pumpkin was nearly five times as massive as Tessie’s (thanks to the rocks). Tessie ran from the competition sobbing as Debbie accepted her ribbon. Nothing had ever felt so good.

The next day, Debbie invited Gwenie over for pumpkin pie in celebration.

“Congratulations,” Gwenie said when they were seated at the table.

“It was nothing.” Debbie shrugged like it was actually nothing.

Gwenie gestured to the pie with her fork before taking a bite and saying, “We’re eating your pumpkin.” It pleased Gwenie to eat the horrid pumpkin.

“I had nothing else to do with it.”
“I thought you loved your pumpkin,” Gwenie exclaimed. Debbie had chosen the pumpkin over Gwenie, so it must be worth something.

“Meh.”

“You’re not wearing your ribbon…,” Gwenie observed.

Debbie laughed. “I’m not going to brag about winning a dumb ribbon for having the biggest pumpkin. What would people think of me?”

Gwenie blinked in surprise. “We haven’t spoken in months because of this pumpkin! You broke our friendship for the pumpkin and you don’t even care about it anymore?”

Debbie cocked her head. “We’re friends.”

“Are we? I’ve been talking to Katie down the street lately.”

Debbie frowned. “Oh. Well.”

“I’ll forgive you if you say you regret it,” Gwenie said. She wanted to salvage their friendship.

“I could say that, but it wouldn’t be true.” Debbie shrugged.

The Cat Lady | Short Story

November 28

To My Dearest Diary,

I thought Emperor Mozzarella loved me, at least as much as my other cats do, but clearly, I was wrong. He vomited all over my most cherished rug and completely ruined it! I can’t believe the Emperor would do such a horrible thing! I thought he respected me. I suspect it was revenge for giving Cherry the Cheshire the fancy cat food instead of him. But Cherry the Cheshire, the poor dear, is at the end of her life, and she needs a little coddling in these last months.

It really was a marvelous rug: very plush and very beautiful and very white. I inherited it from my mother. I was pleased when that abhorrent woman died because it meant I could have such a wonderful rug. 

I wanted to publicly shame the Emperor for destroying that magnificent rug by forcing him to give a stand-up comedy routine in front of the other cats. I expected him to embarrass himself, and I even gave the other cats permission to fling rotting vegetables at him. But he once again disappointed. He’s surprisingly skilled with cat puns, and the bucket of rotting vegetables remained unflung. Even I couldn’t prevent a small chuckle from escaping. My punishment was a failure. I’m afraid the Emperor rather enjoyed it. But don’t worry, I’m still holding a grudge. I will eventually have my revenge.

November 29

To My Dearest Diary,

James called and that good-for-nothing son-of-mine said he’s coming over tomorrow evening, despite the fact that I told him I’d rather he didn’t. He’s so inconsiderate. But the child said he’s “worried about me” and that I need “human companionship.” What did I do to make him think he’s worthy of my companionship? He’s not worthy of the floor I walk on, and I thought I’d made that clear. I don’t understand why he can’t be more like his sister. Even when they were kids, I always told James to be more like Mary Sue, but he never did listen to me. And now look where they are. Mary Sue lives in The Big City and is the CEO of Really Fancy Tech Company. James, on the other hand, has done zilch with his life. He’s a failure. A nothing living in an average suburban home with an average job and an average wife and horrid children that shower him with their sickly love. But Mary Sue. She’s made it in this world. Her name is known. She has power. She’s successful, and I’m proud of her.

At this point of my speech, James usually rolls his eyes and points out that Mary Sue is unhappy, goes through men like normal people go through waffles, and she hasn’t called me in five years, while James, the angel, has checked up on me nearly every day and “actually cares.” However, his points don’t make any sense and his argument is as stupid as he is. I’ll concede that Mary Sue is unhappy, but happiness doesn’t relate to success and is therefore unimportant; I am allergic to waffles (I do love a good pancake though) and therefore I do not eat waffles (because they would kill me and I rather like life) and therefore Mary Sue’s relationship with men is perfectly healthy; and she hasn’t called because she’s successful and successful people are often too busy to call their mothers. I’m so proud of my little girl.

James, though… I do not appreciate it when he calls. If anything, it only inconveniences and irritates me. James fully knows this and calls only to spite me for loving Mary Sue more when they were children (and now). And I know for a fact that he does not “actually care.” If he did “actually care” he would blindly follow whatever I say, wouldn’t he? This is why I prefer cats to people. (And diaries to cats.)

November 30

To My Dearest Diary,

I’ve been thinking about what James said yesterday, about how I need more friends. After a significant amount of thought (I wasted thirty seconds of my life thinking about what James said. I can’t believe myself), I’ve come to the conclusion that he has once again proved himself to be incompetent.

I’m anything but lonely. I have so many friends! There’s Cherry the Cheshire, Sweet Milly, Tibby the Tabby, Colby and Jack, Margaret, Cheddar the Yellow, Emperor Mozzarella, Tommy—I haven’t seen the poor dear in ages. I wonder where he’s gone—, Reina the Yellow, Raisin the Bald, etc. So many friends! Except for Emperor Mozzarella. We’re currently not on speaking terms.

James, that filthy clod, repetitively commands me to find friends. He doesn’t think my precious cats count. He says I should “be friends with things that can speak.” That narrow-minded lump can’t comprehend the fact that my cats can speak, at least to me, and are the only friends I need. What more could I want? Other than Emperor Mozzarella, they are doting and kind and so, so sweet—qualities that he himself does not possess! And he insults my friends?

And I have you, Dearest, as well, don’t I? You’re my best friend, and even better than the cats (don’t tell them I said that). I do love the cats, but sometimes on the longer days, it becomes all about me, me, me, and it becomes tiring to pretend to care about all their yowling. Raisin the Bald, especially, is quite narcissistic. Sometimes they don’t worship me the way I want them to. But you, Dearest, are wonderful in ways the cats could only dream to be. You listen so well. I can tell you all my secrets and never will a word of it reach the others. I confided in Tibby and Tommy once, but the poor things love to gossip. I gave Tibby and Tommy the silent treatment for three days. They learned their place after that.

Dearest, you understand me like no other can. You love me like no other can. You never want anything from me. Oh, the cats are good company, but they don’t compare. It’s constantly feed me, change my litter, love me. They expect so much from me! Is it wrong to sometimes take instead of give? Is it wrong to sometimes want things for me instead of always living for others?

November 31

To My Dearest Diary,

James visited yesterday. It was rather unpleasant, and his voice provoked a terrible ache in my left ear. He brought hot chocolate, which was nice. I made some for myself, but when I sat down on the couch across from him, he eyed my hot chocolate like I should have made him some. The nerve! If he had wanted hot chocolate, he should have kept it at his house. He gave it to me as a gift, and since it’s a gift, I have the right to do with it what I please. And I’d rather not waste hot chocolate on ungrateful little urchins.

James kept trying to make small talk. I detest small talk. I remained silent and glared at him until he left. That made me feel successful.

Then I had to go lie down because of my ear.

Wait a moment, Dearest, would you? The phone is ringing. It must be my darling Mary Sue.

November 31,

To My Dearest Diary,

Dearest, I’ve returned! Did you miss me?

James called again. I apologize once more for giving birth to such a barbaric son.

He sounded horrendous. I’ve always told him to enunciate, but that boy never did listen to his wise mother. And he wonders why I think he’s stupid. 

He seemed worried. About Mary Sue of all people. I don’t understand why anyone would even think to be worried about her. She’s perfect! There’s no aspect of her life and/or personality that could be any cause for concern.

He said she’s lonely and upset. I told him he was speaking nonsense and to get off the phone. That arrogant child ignored my command and stayed on the phone. He said he’d tried inviting her for dinner, but she refused to come over because she didn’t want to see James’s wife because she gave Mary Sue a ceramic catfish for James’s half-birthday three years ago. Which is absurd because Mary Sue has never held a grudge. I suppose she hasn’t talked to me since I gave her a glass flounder for Christmas five years ago, and I suppose other people would call that a grudge, but I promise it’s not a grudge. I don’t know what it is, precisely, but I assure you it’s not a grudge. She has always been such a sweet-tempered girl. She was frequently nice to the other children and she was so funny! She’d make her classmates weep with tears of joy. The teachers said she was aggressive, but they didn’t understand. My Mary Sue is an angel.

Anyway, I’ll send her a cat to keep her company. It’s worked so well for me. Probably Emperor Mozzarella. It’s a brilliant plan. I won’t have to deal with the Emperor anymore and James can’t pester me about Mary Sue’s supposed loneliness either because at least I tried.

Emperor Mozzarella is getting out of hand. On top of defecating on treasured rugs, he is now picking fights with the other cats. He ate all of Cherry the Cheshire’s fancy cat food and has sparked a war between the two of them. I usually stay neutral in my cats’ affairs (to keep up appearances as I supposedly love them all equally), but, due to prior infractions, I find myself inclined to support Cherry the Cheshire in her endeavors. All the cats will say their goodbyes to Emperor Mozzarella tomorrow. Personally, I will be saying good riddance.

November 32

To My Dearest Diary,

Everyone said their goodbyes to Emperor Mozzarella today. It was a sad occasion for the cats. There was much weeping. Despite their differences, the cats love the Emperor. I don’t understand them. How can they forgive his faults and choose to love an inconvenience?

I was planning to cut Emperor Mozzarella from our family. I wasn’t going to give him a way to contact us again, but Sweet Milly begged me with tears in her feline eyes to give him a stationary set. Either Sweet Milly is kind to everyone, or she and Emperor Mozzarella are in a secret relationship. I can’t wait to give the announcement to all the cats! (You can’t tell because you can’t see because you’re a book and therefore don’t have eyes, but I’m waggling my eyebrows suggestively.)

November 35

To My Dearest Diary,

Mary Sue, the darling, sent me a letter today.


To My Dearest Mother,

I know I’m currently not speaking to you because of that atrocious glass flounder you gave me for Christmas a while ago. Don’t let this letter deceive you because I’m still not speaking to you, and I’m definitely not forgiving you.

You have angered me and I know it was revenge for cutting ties with you. I’m scolding you because how can a mother so gruesomely spite their own favorite child? It’s cruel. You are a horrible woman and I hate you.

I got a box in the mail from you the other day. I thought you were finally making up for that failure of a Christmas present. I thought you were finally considering my feelings. And then I opened it and you know what I found? NOTHING.

You were seeking revenge against your own daughter and you toyed with my emotions.

I don’t appreciate that. How many times do I have to tell you? You never listen.

You know, it was always like this when we were children and you were middle-aged. You were always making promises and never following through. For example, that &$@%ing parent-teacher conference. You promised you’d be a good mother and be quiet and not embarrass me, and what did you do? YOU YELLED AT THE &$@%ING TEACHER and made the rest of the year #*$$ for me. You embarrassed me. Precisely what I told you not to do.

You’re a disgrace of a mother and I am ashamed of you.

With Love,

Mary Sue


To My Dearest Daughter,

You are such a sweetheart. You bring excitement to my dull, cat-filled world. I am so proud of you and all your accomplishments. Take pride in the knowledge that I love you more than James.

I am so sorry that the box arrived empty. It was not my intention to spite you. When I originally mailed it, there was a lovely cat in there, Emperor Mozzarella, who was sent to be your friend. I love my cats so much and I wanted to send you my love in the form of a cat. He must have run away. He always did want to conquer kingdoms and form his own empire. It’s why he demands that everyone call him the “Emperor.” It’s really quite pretentious, isn’t it?

Love Always,

Your Mother


Emperor Mozzarella must have run away (and—oh, dear—Tommy, too). I’m so disappointed in him for disappearing. I thought he was better than that. Maybe I went too far when I forced him into the stand-up comedy routine. He must have been angrier than I thought.

I haven’t seen Sweet Milly for a few days either. She most likely ran away, as well. Probably because I refused to give Emperor Mozzarella a stationary set. She always did have a stubborn streak. This is unfortunate. She was my favorite, but don’t tell the other cats that.

November 41

To My Dearest Diary,

I’m far angrier than what’s considered an acceptable level of angriness. I’m angry at James, angry at myself, angry at my cats. &$%@, I’m even angry at Mary Sue. And now I’ve written “angry” so many times it’s lost all meaning, and I’m angry at that too.

Mary Sue has left already, but James is still in my living room like a cloud of stink you just can’t get rid of. I left him alone. He’d better not ruin the coffee table.

Margaret died just now. I am sad. 

It makes me feel melancholy. I have the strongest desire to constantly sigh gloomily. I’m upset with Mary Sue. She made me feel this way.

It was awful, darling. She was a hurricane. She stormed in and you could see the smoke pouring out of her pores. The world shrunk in her presence, like she took up more space than she should (despite being a relatively short person). And she brought the box.

The one I sent Emperor Mozzarella in.

And then she started screaming absurd things. She claimed that I’m an awful mother, that I sent her an empty box to toy with her emotions, and that I mailed her a letter afterward to mock her. I strongly disagree with all of these accusations. I am an amazing mother, just ask any of my cats or my children. I sent her a cat to make her happy, as if that can be considered “toying with her emotions,” and the letter I sent was completely honest.

I took offense.

James, that disgusting sea lamprey of a son, just sat there, letting his dear mother absorb insult after curse after insult, and did absolutely nothing to defend my pride. I blame him entirely.

Mary Sue, in a final display of dramatics, flung the box at my feet. It tipped on its side and spilled tens or hundreds of decorative fish, clearly revenge for my supposed allegations. Margaret, the poor dear, happened to be napping on the floor when the box fell on her and crushed the life out of the poor thing.

She’s dead now.

I, as any sane person would when their cat has just unexpectedly been crushed to death by a large box of decorative fish, both screamed and generally panicked.

James, of course, reacted in turn by unnecessarily demanding that I tell him what was wrong. As if I owe him an explanation for anything.

Mary Sue just stood there looking stunned and a little bit peeved at my ruining of all her theatrics. The poor darling was always a bit delicate. Endearing most of the time, but never good in a crisis.

I don’t quite remember if I told them that Margaret had died, or if they intuitively guessed, or if they’re secretly psychics and they read my mind. But either way, this lead to the most absurd accusation of the night.

Mary Sue began to speak. “&$@%, Mom. What are you—”

James, that rude little boy, cut her off with a glare. He faced me and said with a strange look on his face, “Mother, you know your cats aren’t real. You have allergies.”

Dearest, can you believe it?

They’re so silly. Of course my cats are real. I’ve had them for years. Children do tend to weave the most fanciful lies, don’t they? Lies so absurd they couldn’t possibly pass for the truth. And besides, I’ve had my cats for years! They can’t be implying that I’ve been imagining them for years, can they? That means they must be real, doesn’t it? They are real, aren’t they? I’ve had them for years… Are they real? Tell me they’re real, Dearest. Dearest? Answer me! Don’t ignore me!

Dearest… You’re real, right?


Photo by Immortal shots from Pexels

The Keyboard

To create a story is to create a world and characters so vivid that the reader cannot bear to accept it as only fiction. To create a story is to allow the reader to breach a space that fundamentally belongs to the writer, and as they peer into its depths, it becomes its own reality. I’m awed that it is me who lurks behind a keyboard and builds worlds, that it is me who toys with the nonexistent reader’s emotions and plays god to my characters. Despite being wholly unqualified, I try to create stories that will entrance readers and lure them into the make-believe.

The story’s foundation is built in the writer’s imagination, in isolation and darkness, hidden and inaccessible. It begins as an idea that is so easily blown beyond reach. The barest brush at the edge of one’s consciousness and then nothing at all, a wisp of smoke, a dying flame, a final breath. The idea is sneaky, a small mouse hiding and darting across the edges of vision when no one’s looking. To capture the idea, one must be constantly vigilant, hunting and prepared to pounce. The pen sets the trap. At the briefest whisper of an idea floating by, the pen is touched to paper. It rips across the page. It constructs an inescapable prison to store the idea so it will never be forgotten. The keyboard bides its time in the background, preparing for the war it anticipates.

Once captured, the idea is welcomed into the brain. In the mind, the idea festers. It swelters and parasitically feeds on thoughts, leaving no space for anything else. It grows like a fungus, and you allow it, nurture it, cherish it. The idea is a needy infant. It requires constant care and attention to grow. The mind is the mother, willingly throwing all of herself to the idea. It soon eats too many thoughts and is too large to contain within the mind anymore. Pieces of the idea overflow and escape and the mind frantically tries to recapture them, but there is too much. The idea can no longer be contained. It demands to be free, yet the keyboard continues to lie patiently in wait. Brief notes are scribbled, but the keyboard remains mostly untouched as the idea grows into something worthy of it.

Pen cannot keep pace with the flood of ideas that pours from the mind during the exodus. Something always escapes while the pen is preoccupied with decadent flourishes. One must turn to the keyboard to find what the pen lacks: speed. There is something beautiful about the pen, about thoughts flowing in one’s own hand, but as speed increases, legibility is sacrificed. Even the most perfect words are worthless if they cannot be deciphered. The keyboard is cold and mechanical, but endearing, as it never once falters at the barrage of letters that spill from the fingers in a hurricane of story. Every flailing limb of the idea struggles and pushes to escape first. They tug and demand and pull the consciousness every which way. The keyboard is attacked, the fingers venomously striking the letters, matching the speed of the rushing ideas and the keyboard’s hunger for words. Clicking fills the air and becomes music.

The idea is sloppily captured on the page in the rush. Word vomit is splattered to the edges of the sheet, contradictory and directionless and pointless. There are ugly words and cloudy images that must be refined or excised. My mind changes from a loving mother to a soulless surgeon. The love I felt for the leaching idea becomes clinical detachment as I appraise the words with a critical eye. With cold efficiency, I slice into my story, butcher it, maim it, the backspace pummeled, even as my heart cracks and shrivels. I raze my story, decimating the contradictory, the directionless, the pointless, with knives and guns and bombs and keys blazing. It becomes a war zone. Unrecognizable. I assault the keys, my anger expressed through the ferocity of the frantic strokes. The keyboard finds a cruel joy in the vicious destruction of all the words it ever loved.

And then I slow and melt from the violence-starved butcher to the artist. I paint over the fractures with beautiful words. The keys are pressed slowly, gently, each letter carefully considered and caressed. The furious typing is replaced with a graceful dance as the story grows. I nurture the story, feed it and love it once more with beautiful words until it blooms into something lovely, but this time my love is requited. The story sheds its ravenous hunger. It is content and complete. It no longer impedes on my every thought. It settles, finally placated. I breathe a sigh of relief, the battle over and casualties counted.

All throughout the creating and expelling and destroying and rebuilding of the story, the keys clatter. It’s deafening. It’s a wild dance of only the hands. A key is pressed lightly and the finger moves on. There is no proof that the key ever changed except for the letter that has burst into existence like a firework. The letter’s moment of glory is immediately surpassed by the next letter that appears, then the next and next, like bullets fired in quick succession. It quickly becomes nothing on its own, insignificant, but powerful taken in tandem with the other letters. The keyboard hungers for these words. It will become enamored with a beautiful turn of phrase, a romantic. It will encourage a mediocre one to flower, a friend. It will ruthlessly slaughter an inadequate one, a slayer.

The keyboard, a thin, unassuming sheet of squares, is so much more than what it seems. It houses the twenty-six letters, a meaningless jumble of symbols that combine into an innumerable number of words, which are combined in endless, infinitely different sentences and paragraphs and pages and stories. The keyboard allows stories to be told, to exist. It allows worlds to be created and demolished. It is the conduit through which stories can leave a writer’s mind and come alive. And yet, unlike the story, the keyboard does not gloat nor posture. It elegantly accepts praise and continues to work, bearing the vicious tirade of punching fingers as it destroys and creates from ruins.


Connect with me on Twitter @arachnid_weaver.

Want to lose weight this New Year? Introducing the new calorie-free diet

Do you want to succeed in your New Year’s resolution of losing weight? Look no further than the calorie-free diet. Forget keto and intermittent fasting. Calorie-free dieting is the fastest way to lose lots of weight and keep it off. What’s more, the diet is naturally free of sodium, sugar, fat, artificial flavors or colors, and other toxic substances! There’s no catch. The calorie-free diet will make you happy and healthy.

The best part about this diet is that you don’t have to exercise and you can eat whatever you want. Want to watch Netflix all day and eat only chocolate cake? Go ahead! We won’t judge. We’ll join you.

What to do

Calorie-free dieting is super easy. Just set the table like you usually do; play a recording of clinking silverware, chewing, and muffled conversation (available for download on our website); and imagine eating whatever you want by reading a detailed description of the experience (found in our cookbook).

Our cookbook, The Calorie-Free Lifestyle for the Trendy, is stuffed with delicious recipes for our signature calorie-free food. We’ve included an exclusive excerpt here.

The Apple

Your teeth skate against the waxy surface of the apple before finding purchase and breaking the skin with a mild popping sensation. You savor the resistance from the fruit as your teeth move through the flesh. With a sudden release of pressure, the bite is in your mouth and no longer attached to the fruit. You use your tongue to push the bite to the left side of your mouth and secure it between your teeth. As your teeth come together, you can feel the fruit collapse beneath the force, condensing. The apple bleeds. It tastes sweet and tart. You pulverize the bite and drink the juice, then swallow the fruit. You can feel it slide down your throat.

You take a second bite. It doesn’t taste as interesting, the memory of the last bite still fresh in your mouth. It becomes less of a pleasure and more of a way to satisfy your hunger. You rotate the apple and chew around it counter-clockwise. When you are left with only the core, you turn it so the bottom faces you and bite into it. It’s wasteful to not eat the core. You reach the center of the core; it’s studded with seeds. After a moment of deliberation, you bite into it. The seeds are hard pellets in your mouth. The contrast between the texture of the seeds and the fruit interests you. You are not bothered enough to spit out the seeds. You crush them between your teeth and a bitter, fruity taste coats your mouth. It is not entirely unpleasant. You quite enjoy it. You think about the amygdalin in the seeds turning into cyanide inside your body. You wonder how many seeds you’d need to eat for it to kill you. You reach the stem of the apple. You look at it for a moment then put it in your mouth. You chew vigorously but fail to break the rubbery stem. You spit it out and put it in the pile of chewed apple stems in the corner that you’ve been meaning to clean out.

Warning: The calorie-free diet may lead to malnutrition, starvation, and death.


Connect with me on Twitter @arachnid_weaver


Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels

A Study of High School | Fiction

Today’s lesson will cover the fascinating human subculture of ‘high school’ in our continuing study of life on Earth. In the geographical location labeled “America” on your Earth maps, high school is a rite of passage for offspring. Through extensive observation, we have recorded many intriguing behaviors in this collection of young humans.

A Study in Self Destruction

A near-universal element of high school life is the Pseudo-Telepathic Prism, known as the ‘cell phone’ on Earth. The Prism is a rudimentary enhancement meant to compensate for the shortcomings of the human body, which include limited knowledge and an inability to receive or transmit telepathic communication. The Prism appears to be permanently attached to these young humans’ hands. Removal of a Prism is possible but excruciating, so it rarely occurs.

This is a beautiful example of a species causing its own demise. Giving a human creation the power to destroy humanity was the greatest mistake in human history.

Exhibit A: The Death of Social Interaction

The Prism limits social interaction, which is apparently necessary for continued human existence. We noticed that during the scheduled Feeding and Watering of young humans, many interact with their Prisms instead of each other. Prisms are clever in their thievery. Like consuming ash that looks and tastes like food, Prisms trick humans into believing that texting (which is pseudo-telepathy with written language and pictograms) and Snapchat (the details of which our anthropologists have yet to discover) are filling their daily quota for social interaction while the void of loneliness leisurely devours them. Dissections of young humans have shown there are miniature black holes inside many of them.

Exhibit B: A Scarcity of Self Esteem

The parasitic Prism has an efficient energy source: the self-esteem of its hosts. Self-esteem is the inflated idea humans hold of themselves. It often overestimates self-importance and underestimates or denies the uncaring nature of the universe, but self-esteem may be a kind fantasy. It has been found that high levels of self-esteem are necessary for continued human existence. The Pseudo-Telepathic Prism drains self-esteem. Humans use Prisms in a misguided attempt to fulfill their requirement for social interaction, but the more they use the Prism, the more their self-esteem level drops, removing natural protections and allowing the Prism to siphon self-esteem at exponential rates, making itself more vibrant and attractive and further absorbing the human in a vicious, inescapable cycle. It has been found that lower self-esteem levels correlate with more massive interior black holes.

Exhibit C: Oblivion

The use of Prisms leaves humans in a state we call ‘Oblivion’ where all consciousness is absorbed by the Prism, leaving them weak and vulnerable to any outside factors. This can lead to some amusing situations. For example, one of our anthropologists witnessed one young human so absorbed in their Prism while walking in the high school’s transport channel that they unknowingly stepped in a repulsive bodily fluid that recently exited the feeding hole of another nearby young human. The anthropologists wrote an exciting paper about this particular situation, which I am assigning for tonight’s reading. The Prism frequently leads to more deadly scenarios as well. Death by transport vehicle is a common occurrence among young humans. Even unfettered by the Prism, humans lack the concentration necessary to properly control these unwieldy high-speed beasts, but they still usually arrive at their destinations unscathed and unaware of the fragility of life. When focus is crippled by Prisms, however, humans are overconfident in their control and infantile in their ability to steer. The transport vehicle is piloted only by the blind hands of chance.

Anthropologists predict that it will be the individual destruction caused by the Pseudo-Telepathic Prism that will lead to the inevitable doom of the human race, not climate change or nuclear warfare or asteroids or any other event of mass destruction that humans are so concerned about. Destruction by Prism is slow and stealthy. It leaves its victims existing, but not alive. We watch raptly as humans tear themselves apart. Let them be a reminder of why we minimize self-destructive behaviors through careful surveillance.

A student has just telepathically asked why humans are worried about climate change since it isn’t real. For those of you not taking Interterrestrial Studies, we will provide context: we are certain that climate change will not destroy Earth because it is actually a conspiracy begun by our subterranean allies, the Martians, to persuade humans to flee their planet, giving the Martians an easy invasion. In contrast to popular human belief, Mars is a wasteland not because of climate change, but because of nuclear warfare prompted by mass destruction caused by a stray asteroid. We are, of course, very supportive of the Martians’ endeavor and encourage their quest for a new home because we are tired of them leeching our resources.

The College Admissions Committee and Competitive Bubble-Filling

The humans of high school live under the glaring eyes and iron fists of the College Admissions Committee (CAC). CAC is similar to The Dictator of the Highly Advanced Alien Species in this way. (Long rule The Dictator with a brutal, merciful hand. May many flowers bloom under her rule and may she crush the airways of all who oppose her.)

The anthropologists discovered that CAC lives in the clouds at the peak of a mountain in an ominous castle. They scrutinize and judge the behavior of human youth through their ‘college applications,’ which is a document that contains the essence of a human in various numerical measures of competency and brief written statements that measure the adequacy of one’s personality. CAC uses these “apps” to determine whether human youth are worthy of a successful life. With a bored wave of their hands, the fates of humans are charted, their destinies immutable. With their futures resting in the unpredictable hands of the committee, human youth accordingly conduct every thought and action with CAC at the forefront of their minds to increase their probability of completing the predetermined course to success.

Unlike our Supreme Leader, CAC cannot directly control the thoughts or behaviors of their subjects. Nonetheless, they exert heavy influence. Humans will often choose to study subjects that will “look good on their college apps” instead of something they are passionate about or join many extracurriculars they do not like to increase the value of the numerical measures of competency on their college applications. The All-Powerful Overlord endorses this influence because it stimulates altruistic volunteerism and encourages mind-expanding behaviors. Some anthropologists meekly argue that the oversight of CAC results in a dispassionate generation of humans, floating half-asleep through life doing what is expected and eager for short-cuts. We must pray that the Mighty Ruler has enough forgiveness for these divergent anthropologists and their airways remain minimally intact.

An important numerical measure of competency on college applications is one’s proficiency in competitive bubble-filling. Multiple times during an Earth year, human high schoolers around the country gather in grand, drafty chambers to participate in the national bubble-filling competition. This competition appears to be a test of which humans can sit silently for the longest time and arbitrarily fill the most bubbles on a paper array of circles. Humans who fill the most bubbles correctly according to a predetermined pattern are deemed to be more competent and more likely to be successful than their peers who were not able to properly color in the correct bubbles.

Suggestions for human improvement: Monitor thoughts carefully with telepathy to determine the most competent humans, not the most successful bubble-fillers.

Worship of the Educational Institution

Worship of the Educational Institution, or ‘school spirit,’ is the subtle process of fostering solidarity among humans of one high school and encouraging animosity between different high schools (especially with ‘rivals,’ which require more animosity than what’s typically needed). Worship of the Educational Institution, however, is not as volatile as other manifestations of blind devotion because it is theoretically contained to competitive activities, especially organized physical exertion, or ‘sports.’

Humans are very emotionally invested in organized physical exertion. It usually consists of two globs of humans fighting over a sometimes-spherical object that is not useful, cannot be eaten, and has no monetary value. If one glob succeeds in moving the object to a specific location despite the attempts of the opposing glob to prevent this event, then one-half of the spectators will scream wildly to expel their extreme positive emotions. Our anthropologists are uncertain why chasing spherical objects elicits such a massive response among humans who are not directly involved in the success of the glob in the pointless exercise of moving a sometimes-spherical object to a particular location. We have no plausible hypothesis either.

Because victory of a chosen glob in organized physical exertion is so important to human happiness, humans enjoy proving their devotion to their chosen sports glob. Dedication to a young human’s high school is intertwined with dedication to their high school’s sports globs. This leads to the concept of ‘pep’ or ‘spirit,’ which is the outward demonstration of devotion to a high school and their sports globs. Pep often takes the form of coordinating daily color variations in skin coverings, loudly expelling positive emotion, participating in embarrassing games, or other normally socially unacceptable activities. Pep is a “voluntary” behavior, as humans who choose not to participate are seen as disloyal, uncommitted, or an outsider.

The Great Leader seeks to implement pep among our species in global pep assemblies so we may better display our unwavering loyalty to her Mightiness. Please open your telepathy to Global Communications in one week for further details.

A Sense of Doom

Our anthropologists noticed that humans in high school tend to be very ‘stressed.’ This is a human emotional state that could be described as a buzzing background tone of constant low-grade fear. It is akin to the feeling of increased pressure when our arm-vents are submerged in water. In human youth, stress results in raised pitch in verbal communication, frantic arm flapping, restlessness, a shortening of the distance between the eyebrows, a deficiency in logical reasoning, etc.

Anthropologists hypothesized that stress is highly contagious because it is a widespread condition among humans and the frantic hand waving and raised pitch seemed to jump from person to person. To confirm their hypothesis, anthropologists worked with botanists to create the Human Emotion Detecting Flower by modifying the Highly Advanced Alien Emotion Detecting Flower (used to monitor our species for adequate emotion levels). The anthropologists dispersed this microscopic feat of biological engineering in the air, free to be breathed in by humans and to send all data to the anthropologists telepathically. The results were fascinating. The plants not ingested by humans, the ones left floating in the air, also detected high levels of stress. This means that stress does not go neatly through undetectable threads, like verbal communication; instead, humans exude stress in clouds from their pores. These clouds are then absorbed by other humans, causing them to discharge more stress, perpetuating this cycle.

As stress is such an unpleasant feeling, humans expend a great deal of energy attempting to alleviate it. There are generally two methods to do so. The first method evolves from the hypothesis that stress can be assuaged by removing the source of stress. In practice, this involves attempts to frantically complete all work before enjoying oneself. However, to-do lists stretch indefinitely and work is never complete. In fact, the amount of work increases with available time so there is rarely excess time for enjoyable activities. This method of relieving stress tends to increase it; however, humans who follow this method of constant efficiency and vigilance are deemed to have a ‘strong work ethic’ are applauded for their stress-perpetuating behaviors. The second method, ‘procrastination,’ involves spending maximum time doing enjoyable activities before completing work frantically in a brief window of time. In theory, this minimizes stress most of the time at the cost of enduring incomprehensible amounts of stress for relatively short periods. However, it has been found that procrastination actually induces more stress on account of the procrastination itself, resulting in stress all the time regardless. This is because procrastination is generally seen as socially unacceptable and irresponsible. As both methods of reducing stress are ineffective, we conclude that stress is unavoidable.

Homework

Adult humans are encouraged not to bring work home and to not let work interfere with their “actual” lives (we are uncertain if this is merely a myth or if people truly follow this suggestion). Young humans, in contrast, are required to bring their school work home. Human youth will frequently spend all of their “free time” frenziedly completing their homework and drowning in a sea of paper. Homework often causes sleep deprivation and stimulates the expansion of stress clouds. There are no detectable health benefits to homework.

Anthropologists hypothesize that the discrepancy in ideology between the homework of adult humans and young humans is due to the common belief that unoccupied human youth will entertain their bored minds with unscrupulous behaviors, such as defacing property, throwing raucous parties, absorbing toxic substances, being public nuisances, committing petty theft, or participating in other general misdemeanors. Incredible amounts of homework are assigned to human youth in order to protect the world from their undeveloped moral compasses (which are literal compasses located in the left ankle of fully-grown humans) until they can tentatively be released into the world as adults responsible enough to correctly select socially acceptable behaviors for their free time.

A similar concept is expressed in our species in the grueling thirty-six hours a day feral criminals spend painting rocks to look like beetles for the Earth collection of the World Museums in our behavioral reeducation program. Without any time to conduct illegal or immoral acts, our global crime rate has become almost nonexistent and our World Museums are overflowing with delightful fake beetles.

Sleep Deprivation and Exhaustion

A common condition among human high schoolers, usually caused by homework, is sleep deprivation. Unlike ourselves, humans are required to spend a third of their day in unproductive unconsciousness. Humans seem to despise sleep for its hefty time requirement and love it for staving off sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is an unpleasant state where a human’s sight organs droop closed against their will, their limbs flop about limply, they drift into stupors, and they cannot focus. We believe that humans need the quiet darkness of sleep for a plant, a type of moss, to grow in their sight organs, limbs, and cognitive structures. This symbiotic relationship between moss and human provides the support necessary for humans to function properly. However, it wears down over the day with use, resulting in sagging sight organs, noodly limbs, and a lagging thought process. Even so, the moss theory is a hot topic in the anthropology world. It has not yet been proven by our dissections, although we think that the state of death may inhibit humans’ ability to produce the plants. We plan to conduct live dissections next month to settle this debate.

Sleep deprivation often results in sub-par productivity. Human youth appear to be trapped in a self-sabotaging cycle of skipping sleep to complete homework, reducing their efficiency the following day so they must once more stay up late, perpetuating sleep deprivation. They seem to have a silly notion that one can “catch up” on sleep later as if it were a ‘television show.’ However, one cannot shore up their moss past maximum moss levels to save for a busy day. Moss restoration is required every day and is good for the following day only.

Sleep-deprived humans often crave coffee and tea, which contain a stimulant called ‘caffeine’ that protects against sleep deprivation. We hypothesize that caffeine masks sleep deprivation by temporarily buffering the plant scaffolding in humans. Our anthropologists experimented with caffeine and found that dousing our skin in caffeine may cause pleasant hallucinations of unknown, indescribable colors diffusing through the atmosphere and drifting clumps of puffy fluff because of its unique interactions with our Highly Advanced Alien physiology. This discovery, while fascinating in the realm of science, has had devastating effects on our species as a whole. With the increased popularity of caffeine among our population, there has been rampant smuggling of tea and coffee from Earth since we have not yet been able to synthesize the compound in our labs. The smugglers risk exposure and the endangerment of our entire race. In addition, caffeine may be dangerous. With this mysterious Earthly compound being so new, its long-term effects on our health have not been adequately studied. We cannot confirm whether or not caffeine is safe for Highly Advanced Aliens. We insist you avoid any contact with caffeine before research is complete and to report any caffeine users in your family or community to trusted officials for immediate nutritional reeducation.

Suggestions for human improvement: Hire another human to sleep for oneself, then surgically transplant their moss stores to one’s own body, eliminating the need for sleep.

Agenda for Future Lessons

We will continue our discussion of these fascinating creatures for the following month, after which we will move on to the microscopic civilized societies of Europa’s oceans in our ongoing study of other lifeforms in the Milky Way galaxy. Please get your permission slips for the human dissection next week signed. We will identify liquid stress, the source of gaseous stress clouds. For tonight’s homework, in addition to the reading, please prepare two suggestions for human improvement and reflect on what our species can learn from humanity’s errors.


Image by Pixabay on Pexels

Connect with me on Twitter @arachnid_weaver

I joined Twitter!

Greetings, multiple humans and single armadillo!

In the words of the great Pinocchio, I have become a real teenager. Three days ago, I acquired a Twitter account. (I mean, I still have to try coffee, so I’m not totally a teenager yet, but we’re getting there.) I even have one follower! (Thanks, Sophia Ismaa.)

So if you guys want more of my characteristic wit and charm in short, digestible tweets, hop on over to the Twitter @arachnid_weaver. Also because I’m lonely and I don’t want to feel like I’m writing into a void.

*Proudly shows off my three tweets*

Print them out and hang them up, if you’d like!


Photo by Tina Nord from Pexels

All I Want for Christmas is a Salmon-Pink Chainsaw | Satire

On Christmas morning, Margarine skipped down the steps in her Disney princess pajamas, pink fairy wings on her back and plastic wand in her hand. She raced into the living room, gasping at sight of the overwhelming mountains of wrapped presents. They were heaped underneath the four Christmas trees necessary to contain them all. The branches of the trees sagged against the boxes, their boughs heavy with ornaments. Margarine’s seven stockings, strung across the mantel, were overflowing with sweets and flowers.

Margarine’s parents stood next to the fireplace. Her mother’s face was glossy with sweat. A bead rolled down her forehead and dripped off her nose. Her father was wringing his hands and slightly bouncing on his feet. They were trembling.

“We hope you are satisfied with your presents this year, Margarine,” her mother tentatively said.

“We’ll see,” Margarine replied vaguely.

Her parents’ terror was audible.

Margarine set to the meticulous work of shredding wrapping paper and carefully checking her gifts against her twelve-foot long wish list. Dresses, hoverboard, dolls, knives, etc. Her parents watched the procedure with wide eyes, clutching each other. Their fate was in little Margarine’s hands.

It was going surprisingly well. Some hours later, Margarine unwrapped the final present underneath the fourth Christmas tree and her parents released the tension in their chests when she showed no reaction. It was over. Against all odds, they had survived their fifth Christmas with Margarine.

She squinted at the last gift, her head tilted in contemplation. “This,” Margarine said quietly, chillingly, “is a peach-pink chainsaw. I wanted a salmon-pink chainsaw.”

Her father’s face grew pale. He sweated profusely. “I—I thought it was salmon…”

“This is not a salmon-pink chainsaw.”

Her mother began sobbing, her arms wrapped around herself. Her father dropped to his knees and crawled to Margarine to beg. She was repulsed by the tears splashing on her bunny-slippered feet.

His hands enveloped hers. “Sweet Margarine, darling Margarine, I will get you a salmon-pink chainsaw. Dear girl, I will mortgage my house to do it.”

“It is too late. You have failed.”

“Please, give me another chance.”

“No.”

“Margarine, please.”

Margarine walked to the peach-pink chainsaw, flicked it on, the sound deafening, and decapitated each of the four trees. The glass ornaments shattered as the tops of the trees crashed to the ground and the floor sparkled with the fragments.

She turned off the chainsaw and returned to her father, still on his knees, his hands at his throat. She pressed the chainsaw against his chest and shrieked, “You ruined Christmas!”

Photo by Giftpundits.com from Pexels

The Money Tree | Satire

Greetings, creatures of the universe!

About two weeks ago, I entered a writing contest. *Bites nails nervously.* I’m really proud of the piece so crossed fingers. *Hides beneath bed, anxiously waiting for the results in February.*

I’ve used the occasion to dust off some old files and I’ve found the piece that I wrote last year for the same contest. I am usually too afraid to read my old work, but after two cups of tea and some procrastination, I worked up the courage to read “The Money Tree”.

*Cringes.*

Looking at old work is a good way to demonstrate improvement.

Despite not really liking this piece, I’m going to post it anyway. Next time, I’ll show you guys the one I entered this year, and hopefully we’ll all agree that it’s a smidge better.

Enough stalling. Here we go. *Tosses “The Money Tree” at you and runs far, far away.*


Dear Lucky Future Customer Who Also Happens To Be My Favorite Human Being In The Universe, Which Is No Small Feat Because I Generally Dislike Human Beings,

Congratulations!

Now, you may be sitting there, scratching your head because you have no idea why I’m congratulating you. You don’t remember doing anything noteworthy recently. You suppose you took out the trash without anyone yelling at you. But only the person who usually yells at you actually cares that you took out the trash without being yelled at, so why would I, a random stranger, be congratulating you for taking out the trash if I’m not the person who usually yells at you and therefore do not care if you took out the trash without being yelled at?

Good question. I will answer it in a moment, after a brief dramatic pause. *Dramatic pause* I’m not the person who usually yells at you to take out the trash.

And now I’ll answer the question you didn’t ask. Why am I congratulating you, you ask? (You didn’t ask but I’ll answer anyway). Because you are the proud, future owner of the grand, the amazing, the patent-pending, totally legitimate, completely functional, original *Dramatic pause* MONEY TREE™. *Cue confetti, infinite happiness, and fireworks*

Yes, that’s right, you read the previous statement correctly. You are the future owner of a real-life MONEY TREE™.

Our professional team of professional scientists at Totally Not Working From the Basement Co. has done the impossible. We’ve turned fiction into fact. We’ve grown a MONEY TREE™, and now it’s your chance to own one.

Through the careful use of sciencey stuff, we’ve managed to alter the DNA of the uselessly average cedar tree that generally does nothing but create oxygen so it can grow money. That’s right, our MONEY TREE™ grows legitimate, totally functional, and definitely not counterfeit money. And the amazing MONEY TREE™ will grow any type of currency! To make your MONEY TREE™ grow the currency of a particular nation, all you have to do is plant your MONEY TREE™ seed within the borders of that particular nation and your MONEY TREE™ will do the rest. Is it magic, you might ask? No, it’s not, dear [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE], it’s our simple and effective Legitimate Science. Each seed is preprogrammed with comprehensive maps, which allows it to select the proper form of currency from its built-in currency catalog upon sprouting.

So what does this all mean? Free money! That’s right, I said FREE MONEY! Shout it from the rooftops and add as many exclamation points as you want because it’s FREE MONEY!!!!

Have you ever heard such a delightful phrase? It makes me giddy, like I’ve just won the lottery, or my friend, who I’ve been in love with for the past twenty-four years, has just confessed her feelings for me, or I’ve just murdered someone.

However, don’t actually shout it from the rooftops, because if everyone had a MONEY TREE™, it would cause serious inflation.

BUT. You are a generous person, aren’t you, dear customer? You want to share this gift with all your friends and family so they can marinate in the awesomeness that is the MONEY TREE™ (At no cost to yourself, of course. They can have their own MONEY TREE™. It won’t be your money they’re leeching). And we’ll make it even easier for you. Every time you recommend us to someone, you get a 10% discount! (For a maximum of 10% off).

And what does that mean? It means you can get your very own MONEY TREE™ for A LOT OF PERCENTS off your already low, low cost and you get to have group marination sessions swimming in money with all of your favorite friends and family! You’ll get to live the MONEY TREE Lifestyle™ and not be terribly lonely, isolated from all of humanity as a result of your sudden wealth and your former friends’ and family’s bitter jealousy.

Still not convinced? The MONEY TREE™ could be yours for only a few monthly payments of $99.99 for an indefinite amount of time. Less than a hundred dollars a month for your very own MONEY TREE™! Talk about a good investment. (And I’ll remind you that the MONEY TREE™ will be producing money as soon as it hits puberty.)

You’re My Favorite Customer™, so as an exclusive offer Just. For. You. I’m going to give you 50% off, that’s right, you heard me, 50% off, if you do me an itty bitty favor. I know you’re just itching to get your hands on that MONEY TREE™, especially with that super special, extra exclusive discount I’m only offering you, [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]. Let me scratch that itch for you.

The small, little favor you need to do for me.

The favor that will get you the MONEY TREE™ half-off.

Is.

*Cue drumroll*

*Cue dramatic music*

So, [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]. I’m going to be candid for a second. I’m not supposed to tell you this, but EVERYONE’s itching for a MONEY TREE™, not just you. Everyone’s greedy. It’s not a particularly rare trait.

And not only is everyone greedy, but they’re also lazy. They want their money fast and easy, and nothing makes it faster or easier than a MONEY TREE™. The only thing you have to do is place an order online and plop a seed in a hole. And bam. Free money. Easy. Simple. No reason to get your hands dirty or *shudders* do hard work.

I’m sure you can imagine why our product is so popular.

We can’t keep up with the demand. It’s a long, complicated, sciencey process to produce even one MONEY TREE™, and our production rate is uncharacteristically low for such a large, legitimate company.

Millions of people will order their MONEY TREEs™ and wait. And wait. And wait. And pay us. And pay us some more. There simply aren’t enough to go around.

So what can you do to get a MONEY TREE™ when it’s oh so difficult to get ahold of one? Because honestly, the only people who get MONEY TREEs™ are celebrities and other powerful people that already have way more money than they could ever spend in a lifetime. And these already-rich people view the MONEY TREE™ as a novelty, don’t they? For you it means so much more. It’s the ticket to your dreams! You need it so much more than them, don’t you? You deserve it so much more.

And let’s face it. You want one. You really want one. You’ve never wanted anything more. Think of everything the MONEY TREE™ would entail. No more backbreaking, mind-numbing work. No more running to the clock’s whims and passing fancies. No more taking orders from someone you secretly loathe and imagine murdering through various gruesome means as you drift off into sleep every night. You can have everything you’ve ever wanted. You can do everything you’ve ever dreamed of. You can make bigger, better dreams once you grow tired of the ones you chase now.

It’s tantalizing, isn’t it? You can taste that future. You can feel it at your fingertips.

There’s only one way to guarantee it. And that’s my final offer.

And it’s the small favor.

But before we get into what the favor is, let me tell you a story. My story. And let me warn you, it’s a classic sob story. In fact, a lot of people think I made it up to gain sympathy, and nothing hurts my heart more. To take my suffering and pretend it never happened. But you wouldn’t do that, would you? Because you’re a Decent Human Being™.

My life was full of death before it even began. My father died in a car accident before I was born. I never met him. He never met me. I only ever saw pictures. And I don’t imagine it’s the same, is it? But I wouldn’t know.

My mother was an amazing woman. She raised me and my adopted younger sister on her own. She never fell in love again and she never remarried.

She did, however, die. It was a car accident. I was thirteen. My sister was six.

We were put in foster care and bounced around from house to house. We never had a home. Nobody wanted to take siblings, and no one wanted an older child, especially a boy. They did want my sister, though. It was just me they didn’t want. We decided that even if we had to be separated, it would be better for her to have a home and a family.

My sister died less than three months later in a car crash on the way to the hospital to visit her adoptive grandma, who was dying of severe injuries she had sustained from a traumatic car accident.

And then I was alone.

No one ever adopted me. But I graduated high school and went to college. I studied science, and as soon as I was out of college, I helped create the MONEY TREE™.

But while I was in college, I found out that my mother’s diamond wedding ring, her most prized possession, the ring she never took off, had gone to her parents. I knew it wasn’t what my mother would’ve wanted. She despised her parents, and her parents despised her. They never wanted her to be happy, and they never supported her dreams of becoming a professional mime. So she ran away with my father as soon as she could and she never spoke to her parents again. For her only remaining token from her love to go to the parents that hated her, that is atrocious.

I know she’d want her ring to go to her children. I wrote a letter to my grandparents, begging for the ring. They refused.

As it turns out, my grandparents live in [INSERT THE NAME OF YOUR TOWN HERE]. They live in that large, generic brick house. I’m sure you recognize it. And if you return my mother’s ring to me, I will guarantee you a MONEY TREE™, and your dreams.

If you want to help a sad orphan and receive a MONEY TREE™ for your efforts, please send an envelope with your name, address, date of birth, and social security number along with your banking information (and my mother’s ring if you want that super special, extra exclusive offer) to the same address you send donations to your estranged distant relative the Nigerian Prince. (No returns or refunds available.)

Customer Reviews

Fred Doeson

★☆☆☆☆ || Unreliable Delivery

I’d give this negative stars if I could! At first, I was simply irritated with their delivery. It took five months. But I was like, “Okay. They did say they have super high demand. Five months isn’t that long.” So I got this seed, and I waited for it to grow. After about a year, it wasn’t growing any money. And then I was like, “Uhh… This looks like a normal cedar tree.” So I called them, and the dude was like, “Yes, yes. We get calls like this all the time from impatient customers. Your tree just hasn’t reached puberty yet. It will soon, I assure you, and you’ll have all the money you could imagine.” So I went with it. Waited another year. Still nothing. I called again. They said they’d replace it. Must’ve been a malfunction, they said.

Well. It’s been six years since I originally ordered it, and I still don’t have one. I occasionally call them, and they keep making excuses. Oh, they have too many orders. Oh, they have to prioritize people in poverty. Oh, they have to get through the orders of the rich and powerful. I’m telling you they’re against the middle class!

And, oh yeah. I’ve been giving them $99.99 every month for the last six years! They won’t let me cancel. Whenever I try, they tell me they’re working on my order and there’s no reason to cancel, especially since I’ll recover all the money I’ve lost once the money tree arrives. And whenever I try to get more forceful with them, they just hang up!

John Johnson

★★★★★ || The anticipation is killing me

I just got my seed and I’m so excited for my life to ooze with money that doesn’t require effort! I planted it yesterday and I can’t wait for it to grow! Obviously, as it hasn’t sprouted yet, I haven’t gotten any money from it, but I’m sure it will make me a millionaire once it hits puberty!

I saw Fred Doeson’s review up there, but I’m pretty sure his case was a fluke. The packaging seemed legitimate, so I know the company is real. Packaging never lies. And they said themselves they’re legitimate!

I also participated in the Extra Special Offer for 50% off, and I don’t know what you were talking about, man, but your grandparents are the sweetest! They invited me in for hot chocolate and wine and we talked for hours. It was so much fun! And your grandma is amazing at drinking games! Afterward, I asked for the ring, and she just agreed. Slipped it right off her finger and handed it to me. Lovely woman.

They seemed like terrific people to me. Maybe they just have a thing against mimes.

Ruby Delawareson

★★★☆☆ || Meh

Eh. The MONEY TREE isn’t as life-changing as they imply. It’s pretty much a standard cedar tree.

Kélly Jaysón

★★★★☆ || Pretty good!

I’m hard to impress, but I’m moderately pleased with this product. It looks very seed-like.

I also participated in the Exclusive Offer, but I disagree with John Johnson’s claim that the grandparents are nice people. And I would know. I’ve been their next-door-neighbor for almost seven years.

When you talked about how awful your grandparents are and how they live in a generic brick house, I knew precisely who you were talking about. My neighbors fit that exact description.

They constantly complain that my parties are too “rowdy,” and they went so far as to call the cops on one of my parties, actually! Parties must be loud to be spectacular, and I throw the spectacularist of parties. They’re also horribly picky. I baked them muffins once, and they refused to accept them because of a so-called “gluten allergy.” Can you believe them? Making up allergies in order to insult my baking! Like, what even is gluten?

They’re exactly the kind of people to disown their own daughter who only wants a chance to reach her dreams.

So I decided to do the right thing and correct an injustice (and get a 50% discount). So I broke in and stole the diamond, just like you wanted me to, random internet stranger (The cost to ship something to Nigeria is ridiculous. Good thing I have a Money Tree to cover the expenses ;). Well, as soon as it hatches). I also might’ve trashed the place to get revenge on that party incident.

Patty Thompson

★★☆☆☆ || Navigational issues

I got one. Turned out to be a regular tree. Called. They replaced it. Regular tree again. I still have hope. I also have a forest, and I’m having trouble navigating my tiny NYC apartment.

Knotte A. Skammer

★★★★★★ || Marvelous! Spectacular! You should get this life-changing tree!

My life is divided into two parts. Before the MONEY TREE™, and after the MONEY TREE™. Before, I was a miserable human. I worked in a factory, canning beans from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I hated my job and my life. When I was young, I thought I was going to be something. I thought was going to change the world. I thought I was going to have color and excitement and pizzazz in my life. I thought I was going to be that one in a million. But I was wrong. 

The canning factory sucked the life out of you. I wasn’t a person anymore. I was a shell. Or an empty can.

After I got the MONEY TREE™, my life changed. It was even better than what I dreamed of as a kid. I quit my job at the factory and I got my life back! It was like taking a breath of fresh air after being stuck inside a bean canning factory. It was like I finally existed. I now spend my days doing things I actually like. I live in a mansion. I get to eat in expensive restaurants whenever I want. If I wake up one day and I feel like doing nothing, I’ll do nothing. There’s no mind-numbing job that I’m required to go to no matter what. I’m happy. I’m free from the clutches of the heinous 9-to-5 job.

It’s turned my life around and made it what I’ve always wanted it to be. And the MONEY TREE™ grew so much more money than what I paid for it. Honestly, this is the best investment I’ve ever made. They say money’s the key to happiness, but really, it’s not. It’s the MONEY TREE™.

Image by Snapwire

The Garden of (American) Dreams

Greetings, humans. I’m going to steal another post from English class because it’s just so easy. I will most likely continue to do this. Therefore, expect uncharacteristic, serious topics like this because that’s what we do in English, though I will attempt to make them lighthearted and entertaining because that’s what I do always.

This week’s topic was the American Dream. (We’re reading The Great Gatsby.) Background: The American Dream is the idea that in America is the land of opportunity, that anyone can achieve their dreams no matter where they start if they work hard. However, the American Dream appears to be an ideal that’s not real for many.


Let us imagine a garden. This garden is imaginary because as we established in the last post, I am a terrible gardener and any real garden of mine would surely turn to either a field of gravel or a luscious plastic paradise. This imaginary garden is actually where my last remaining cactus now lives.

So let us imagine this garden together. There’s a fence. In fact, it is a white picket fence. The garden is a predictable and neat rectangle. As this garden is imaginary, there are many different microbiomes and the plants are semi-sentient. Predictably, every fresh-faced, dewy young plant has the exact same dream: to grow in the sun-warmed soil, to spread their leaves, to photosynthesize, to exist, to be. But often to be the greenest, to outgrow and outcompete all the other plants, to spread their roots the widest and spread their seeds the farthest, to be the most beautiful plant, the most useful, to live in luxury, to be glorious, to have more.

In the center of the garden, we have the prime spot. There’s a tree that provides shade for those snobbish plants that need something like three hours of full sun and an hour and thirty-eight minutes of partial shade. The center of the garden has the most fertile soil. It’s a deep chocolate, like crumbled, moist brownies. It’s imported from an earth-like exoplanet that has far superior soil, untouched by human pollution. The center plants require vintage wine and hand-fed grapes every six hours. In addition to exquisite wine, the plants are fed melted ice water only from the purest snow of the Arctic. It’s a lovely place to be, but it’s rather small and exclusive. All the plants there have been there for generations, and when they die and rot in the chocolate soil, their seeds take root and grow where they died. As they will always grow and die in the center patch. Life is good in the center; sure, they have their problems, like everyone else, but it’s hard not to envy the center. The center patch of the garden is what all the other plants want, what we work towards, but the plants in the center just had the luck to grow there, I suppose, just like any other plant had the luck to grow where they grew. And we can’t really blame the center plants for being center plants; they didn’t choose for their seeds to be there, just like the plants in the desert didn’t choose to be there. But that doesn’t stop us from hating them, or at least the idea of them, a little bit. Their vintage wine and Arctic snow-melt and imported dirt…. Jealousy and a sense of entitlement are a bitter mix.
Most of the plants grow in the area encircling the center. Life’s pretty good for us. We don’t have the purest water, but it’s still clean, human-grade drinking water that rains down on us like clockwork from the sprinklers. Sometimes we’re thirsty, but most of the time we’re not. There are no shade plants, and the sun sometimes burns, but most of the time it’s warm. The dirt isn’t great, but it’s good. We don’t have imported soil, but we do get store-bought, eutrophying nitrogen fertilizer occasionally. Life’s pretty amazing actually, and yet we moan and envy the center patch. It’s only natural. After a plant’s grown some, reached its old plant dreams, it isn’t usually satisfied. It makes new dreams. It doesn’t stop growing, it wants more. It’s only plant nature. We can’t really blame ourselves for wanting, but we can’t help but be a little disgusted.

There are also other areas in which plants struggle but where it’s not quite so bad as the desert, such as the bog and the mud pits and the marsh and the patch of eternal darkness in the corner. However, we will only mention them in passing because this is already far too long and there’s still much more gardening to be done.

The desert is the worst of the worst place to be, Supreme Cactus help those who end up there. It only gets water when the fickle clouds feel like it, and even then it falls from the gutter. The only other source of water is when a stray cat bothers to urinate on it. The sun burns, an inescapable oppression; the “soil” is cracked and dry, indistinguishable from the rock of the moon, where no plant dares grow. Contrary to expectations, there are plants in these inhospitable wastelands, where the days are brutal and the nights are brutal and where no plant belongs. There are a few plants, my cactus, for instance, who grew up in the desert and thrived. We point at these exceptions and exclaim, “Look! It is possible to reach the dream, even from the desert with nothing to begin. The other desert plants must not be trying hard enough. They must be irresponsible or unintelligent to not have beaten the impossible odds. In this garden, all you need is hard work to reach the dream, not luck or good soil or anything else. Those other plants must have gotten what they deserve.” The desert is spreading, you know, mingling with the middle patch as we erode our lands with unsustainable agriculture. This terrifies us. It makes our soil all the more precious. Oh, we care. We sympathize. We toss the desert our excess water, some fertilizer, to soothe our consciences. We worry and talk and read and write stupid articles about gardening, but at the same time, we clutch our soil all the tighter because Can you imagine living in the desert? and watch the center patch like hungry cats. We shrug and think, “Well, there isn’t enough space here for everyone. Someone needs to live in the desert.” But most of the time we don’t think about the desert at all. It’s only at the fringes of the garden. We can barely even see it. And the plants in the desert? They can barely see us. The desert is infinite, all-consuming, inescapable. The “dream” belongs in quotation marks for the desert. It is a joke. A whisper of a possibility you’d need a microscope to see. As Langston Hughes, an eloquent shrub, put it, “America never was America to me.” (To make this quote work, we’re going to pretend I named my garden “America,” even though I would never name a garden, let alone such an idyllic name, the pessimist that I am. Note that I don’t like metaphors and that this is absolutely not a metaphor for anything. It is simply an imaginary garden that I have to replace the real garden I failed to sustain.)

We must also mention the weeds: the dandelion seeds that float over the fence, the clover that crops up from nowhere. We see them as ugly. We spray them with weed-killer (poisoning nature). We call them “foreign,” “invaders,” “aliens,” like the little green imposters from Mars who plant themselves among us. We think they’re taking our space, that we somehow deserve the garden more because we were here first, like petulant children claiming toys (The native grasses were here first anyway. Kentucky Bluegrass is actually from Europe). We believe our dreams of glorious plant life are somehow worth more than theirs, even though we all dream the same dreams at night. We will correct this error here: dandelion and clover are beautiful and these “weeds” are flowers, actually.

That is all I have to say. I have no profound conclusion. But I am a mere semi-sentient plant and can therefore barely have thoughts, let alone profound ones. Goodbye, humans. Dream of gardens tonight.

Note: Maybe I won’t kill this garden. Since it’s not real, it shouldn’t die unless I want it too, right?

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

The Kite Runner || A Book Review

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.” 

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.


I had ridiculously high expectations for The Kite Runner because the librarian and my English teachers said that it is life-changing. My life has not been changed. Nevertheless, it’s a lovely book.

I don’t love the writing style, but it’s okay. There are a lot of words in Farsi that are defined the first time they are used. This is fine for the ones that are used a lot, but for the less common words, I often forgot the definition and it led to confusion later.

My favorite parts of the book are the characters and the plot. The main character has a lovely arc and I like seeing him grow up. The plot is beautiful and I like the parallelism. However, I wasn’t really absorbed into the story. I read the book like you’d read one in an English class. I was noting literary devices and appreciating foreshadowing and I wasn’t in the story.

I also loved how the book included Afghan culture. There seem to be many similarities between Afghan and Bangladeshi culture and I got super excited whenever I read something familiar, especially with the food.

Overall, I would recommend The Kite Runner, but it’s not a must-read.

5/5

Middlegame || Spectacular Sci-Fi

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.


I loved this book. So much. It’s a new favorite. It would be good for fans of Vicious by V.E. Schwab.

The writing is gorgeous, but it is heavy on metaphor and imagery. It’s a little hard to read, and I was rereading a lot of passages, trying to figure out what was going on. After a while, I got used to the writing and it went a lot smoother. I’m a little suspicious of the writing, though. I’m prone to drooling over beautiful writing and ignoring what is actually being said.

The plot is intricate and brilliant, but it’s confusing. The story jumps right in without much background information, so it was especially confusing in the beginning. It was also confusing at the end with the time travel. You could say that the plot is layered like an onion, but you could also say that it’s stingy with information. The reader and the characters spend much of the book in the dark.

Middlegame is a long book, and the pacing is slow, especially for the first half. However, I enjoyed the first half more than the faster-paced second half and it was very compelling. I couldn’t put it down.

The characters were lovely, and I especially adored Dodger. Usually, the characters are my favorite part of a book, but in Middlegame, the characters seemed less important than the plot. However, they did have wonderful arcs and I loved seeing them grow up. They were very relatable.

The atmosphere of Middlegame is amazing. It’s mysterious and by the end, it feels like the book has revealed the secrets of the universe.

Rating: 5/5

Writing in the Middle of the Night

The middle of the night is the perfect time to write. I lay buried under blankets, staring into the deep darkness, my eyes dry and unblinking, and I travel worlds in my mind. I can let go of my earthly obligations to be a functioning human bean and transcend the boundaries between this world and the one I’ve created. It’s when plots solidify and worlds unfold.

This intense thinking, of course, comes with detrimental effects to my sleep and therefore harms my daily functioning. I slog through the day on far less sleep than I should have since I stayed up late into the night daydreaming (also known as teleporting).

Despite doing much of my writing in the middle of the night, I think I’d prefer to be a daytime writer, but alas, my mind seems to be otherwise occupied during the day. I simply can’t stare off into the distance melodramatically for hours.

Aside from sleepiness, writing at night comes with many other drawbacks. As most of the writing happens in my head, I forget much of it the next day. Not only do I forget it, I forget about its existence, as well, so I don’t even attempt to retrieve the idea from the depths of my brain.

When I think of a lovely idea, I get up and write it on a sticky note, which I stick to my night table. This way, writing at night works like a filter — or my own laziness is the filter — because I can only be bothered to write down the good ideas and the bad ones are discarded and quickly forgotten. But it’s sad that the mediocre ideas, the ones that just need a little love and attention before they become adequate, are tossed too. (It should be noted that what I think are good ideas with my sleep-addled brain usually don’t seem so great in the morning.)

The sticky notes are becoming a problem. I usually leave them on the nightstand and transcribe them to my computer on the weekends. But sometimes, when I’m lazy, they just stick to my nightstand and collect dust. And the sticky notes quickly build up until they’re covering every inch of my nightstand, usually three or four sticky notes deep. At this point of the sticky note apocalypse, I move on to sticking them onto my bed frame. And the process repeats itself. It hasn’t gotten that bad yet, but I imagine if this trend were to continue, the walls near my bed would be next and then the sticky notes will slowly encroach on every part of my room, spreading like a fungus, until my room becomes a sticky note paradise. But don’t worry — I’m not the stereotypical potential serial killer yet.

Too Many Amazing Books

I’ve been reading so many wonderful books lately. They’re all new favorites and I want to read them again already.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 5/5

standing on the fringes of life…
offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see
what it looks like from the dance floor.

This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being A WALLFLOWER

This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that the perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

Summary from Goodreads

I can’t believe it took me so long to read this. The characters are amazing and I love the book. And Stephen Chbosky is writing a new book!

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian 5/5

It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart–and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.

Summary from Goodreads

This book is so lovely! The characters and their relationships are my favorite part of this book. I love Judy and Art’s friendship, especially.

Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson 5/5

Critically acclaimed author of We Are the Ants—described as having “hints of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five” (School Library Journal)—opens up about what led to an attempted suicide in his teens, and his path back from the experience.

“I wasn’t depressed because I was gay. I was depressed and gay.”

Shaun David Hutchinson was nineteen. Confused. Struggling to find the vocabulary to understand and accept who he was and how he fit into a community in which he couldn’t see himself. The voice of depression told him that he would never be loved or wanted, while powerful and hurtful messages from society told him that being gay meant love and happiness weren’t for him.

A million moments large and small over the years all came together to convince Shaun that he couldn’t keep going, that he had no future. And so he followed through on trying to make that a reality.

Thankfully Shaun survived, and over time, came to embrace how grateful he is and how to find self-acceptance. In this courageous and deeply honest memoir, Shaun takes readers through the journey of what brought him to the edge, and what has helped him truly believe that it does get better.

Summary from Goodreads

It’s incredible.


Random note: Those reviews were so short…. I just love these books too much to have coherent thoughts.

Why Writing and Marriage Are Pretty Much the Same Thing

As someone who has never been married (and has conducted only minimal research), I can definitively conclude that writing is just like marriage.

Like marriage, stories start in the honeymoon phase: the idea. Your new idea outshines all your previous ideas combined. This is the best idea you’ve ever had, the best story you’ll ever write. You start planning excitedly, the opportunities infinite. The words and the characters and everything will work this time, you just feel it. The honeymoon phase is the glory of the initial idea, the sloppy love of the first draft, the adoration of words without the struggle. You immediately drop whatever you were working on last, in varying states of incompletion, and start working on your new story.

The inevitable fall happens when the illusion of the idea fails under your subpar abilities to capture your imagination. You see the story for what it really is: a dumpster fire. You read your first draft—which had seemed worthy of your favorite authors before—and cold dread makes its way through you. The plot holes, the awkward sentences, the grammar errors are circled in an imaginary red felt-tip pen, each glaring mistake a strike to your ego. The story did not go as you planned, and not in a good way. Was the idea too weak, or was it your writing abilities? Who’s to blame? This phase of the writing process is characterized by hopelessness. The story will never get better and you are a horrible writer. You don’t even deserve to try. The story gets locked away deep in a drawer where it will never see the light of day again. You move on to other loves. Maybe you’ll take up piano or art.

After a few weeks or months, after you’ve cleared your head, tried other things, you come back to the story and see it with fresh eyes. It isn’t quite as horrible as you remembered. It’s definitely not good; in fact, it’s still pretty terrible, but you think it could go somewhere with a lot of work. This phase is the most difficult as you systematically destroy and rebuild everything. You try to make the story at least vaguely presentable. You coax the words with cream and pretty ribbons to get them to work for you and align in a lovely way. It’s exhausting. It’s full of long nights critically analyzing every word, deleting huge swaths of text you’d spent hours writing the day before. For every step you take forward, it seems as though your taking a thousand back. Every patched plot hole introduces hundreds of cracks.

Eventually, your story becomes adequate, and you’re finally pleased with yourself. You’ve grown as a writer. You’ve created something better than anything you’ve ever written before, even if it’s not as good as you wanted it to be. It’s when you allow yourself to read the story for the first time as a reader instead of as a writer and you get to praise the lovely phrases, the characters, the plot, instead of looking for what’s broken. This is when the story is finally put away and it stops lingering in your mind every waking moment. The story is closed and filed away and you’re content, and you get to look forward to the next honeymoon phase with the next story.

It’d be lovely if that were the last phase, but for me, at least, it’s not. The stage of being happy with my story is uncomfortably short. It usually lasts a few days and then I’m back to hating the story. Which means that, yes, I say that I love writing, but I spend most of my time hating what I write. Maybe I should take up piano or art.

How to Write Efficiently

  1. Come up with an idea.
    1. This is best done during your waking hours. Notice everything. Your next slice of inspiration could come from anywhere. Constant vigilance.
    2. Keep running commentary about everything. Don’t let it be bland. For example (of what not to do), “Textbook. Pencil. Homework. Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. Meeeehhhhhh. *Stretch of silence* Bored. Bored. Bored. Chemistry. Bored.” Make it interesting. Make it explosive. This serves the double purpose of both giving you writing ideas and decimating boredom.
  2. Develop your idea.
    1. This is best done at night while trying to fall asleep as there are no outside distractions, such as homework, colors, or pretty books.
    2. Warning: This method will keep you up at night with ideas swirling through your head. Before you know it, it’s past midnight.
    3. Warning: if you happen to come up with a decent idea, you’ll need to turn on the blinding lights, get up while being half-asleep (which is an accident waiting to happen), and write down your idea. Crud, it’s 1:00 a.m.…
    4. Warning: this method will result in you being excessively sleepy the next day.
    5. Fuel yourself with caffeine instead of sleep.
  3. Blast music so you can forget that other humans exist.
  4. Your best writing happens in the evasive “zone”. So you should wait to do your hardcore writing until you have gotten into the zone.
    1. Start with flash fiction or a writing prompt or a blog post.
    2. Edit previous writings.
    3. Post the flash fiction/blog post.
    4. Get distracted and respond to comments on your blog.
    5. Get even more distracted and start reading Wikipedia posts loosely connected to your story, starting you on an inescapable trail of breadcrumbs and links leading you farther and farther away from your topic.
  5. Take a break and get a snack. You deserve it. You’ve been so efficient. Beware: you’re leaving the zone and you have to get back to it in order to work on your short story. But it must be done because your hunger would also call you out of the zone.
  6. Get back to the zone. This time it should happen faster, hopefully.
  7. Read through your notes on your story so you don’t forget anything and accidentally break your established background information.
  8. Read articles on writing because you’re a horrible writer and must discover the secret before you start because your first draft must obviously be as good as your favorite novel and one of these random internet articles must hold the key, despite them all saying the same things.
  9. Write a little.
  10. Delete it and try again.
  11. Reread what you wrote yesterday and redo it.
  12. Wonder at how your favorite authors magically think amazing thoughts and then somehow pull the right words in the right order from thin air and make a novel.
  13. Reread your favorite passages from your favorite novels and marvel at the words.
  14. Despair.
  15. Write a little more. Now you’re figuring it out. Hours pass and you don’t notice. Your characters and scenes and descriptions are perfect and everything is sunshine and roses and perfection. You don’t suck!
  16. Edit. Reread what you wrote. You do suck.
  17. Edit. Edit. Edit. Nothing may remain the same. Everything must be improved. The words awing, the story logical (or logically illogical). It’s unrecognizable from where you started. Seriously. It was supposed to be about a cupcake-zombie apocalypse and it’s morphed into a melodrama starring salmon.
  18. Be proud of yourself. You did it! It’s awesome and done and you don’t suck!
  19. Reread it. A little worm of dread wriggles inside of you as you realize it’s horrible. Delete.

Not Human

In early elementary school, up through third or fourth grade, I’d thoroughly convinced myself that I wasn’t human. Humans were far too mundane, to unmagical for my tastes. I was absolutely certain that one day I’d wake up and my true magical potential would emerge and I wouldn’t be a lowly human anymore. I was just waiting for that day to happen and simply passing the time in my human life. My humanity was a placeholder for my true magical self.

On top of believing that I wasn’t human, I would search for magical beings everywhere. I remember intently searching for leprechauns every St. Patrick’s Day with my friends. My house had a pond in the backyard, and of course there were mermaids in the shallow pond. They were lurking under the surface, biding their time and waiting for me to sprout my tail so I could join them.

All mythical creatures weren’t created equal. Mermaid, for instance, I’d take over human any day, but it wasn’t preferential. While mermaids did have their underwater cities, I didn’t want to leave land forever. Therefore, I would be a shapeshifting mermaid so I could still come to the surface and get ice cream on the weekends.

For fairy, which was mythical creature I most wanted to be (a human-sized one, not a small one. I didn’t want to be crushed underfoot.), I imagined having wings and practiced flapping them so I’d be prepared to fly whenever they grew. I practiced folding them away and fluttering them gently when I walked. I could feel them, and I could almost see them. I was so convinced they were real that I’d even briefly considered jumping off our second floor to test them.

In third grade, I was convinced that the existence of my canine teeth indicated that I was actually a vampire or a werewolf. I couldn’t decide between the two. I managed to persuade my friends that this was true as well. It turned out they were harboring doubts about their humanity too.

When I finally came to realize that I was a mere mortal and would never sprout magic powers or wings, I turned to writing. I wrote many “novels” about mythical creatures. I wish I still had them, but most I’ve lost and some I destroyed.

In third grade, during writing time, our teacher would give us a prompt. She usually wanted us to talk about our real lives and experiences, but I decided to do my own thing and write fiction. My novel was about these three cat-fairy sisters going on a quest of some sort to save their mother. I was so excited to reach twenty pages in my composition book.

I also wrote a picture book in third grade. It was about three friends at a vampire school going on an egg hunt for solid gold eggs. It was a competition between their whole school. A race. I remember one of the eggs was stuck on the roof of the school, so they decided to blow it down. And plot twist/cliff hanger: one of the characters is actually a werewolf. *Mind blown* This was revealed by one of the eggs having a werewolf engraved on it.

Slight detour from fairy tales: In fourth grade, I wrote about a fork who was terrified of being used. It’s about how fork are superior to spoons. I hold this belief strongly to this day.

Then back to fairy tales in fifth grade, I wrote a bunch of fairy tale retellings with the villain as the misunderstood protagonist.

I also wrote a “novel” about shape-shifting mermaids. I was super excited when I hit a thousand words. *Looks at ~800 word blog post written in half-an-hour. Looks at ~1,300 word essay written for English yesterday.* This novel was written in lieu of whatever assignment we had in the computer lab. It was also my first typed story. I deleted it after it devolved into overpowered characters, no real plot, and shell phones. I wish I hadn’t.

In sixth and seventh grade, I diverged from fantasy and wrote my first dystopian, which I didn’t finish. It was about a terrible war that destroyed human life. The main character was Annie, a normal citizen who struggled to make ends meet, whose parents just laid hopelessly in bed all day watching a blank TV, and only ate peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (except the bread was secretly cardboard). The other main character was Nikki, who was a privileged girl not really even aware of the war with an aloof, uncaring father. Plot twist: the father started the whole war. Annie and Nikki would band together to stop her father, but at the end, when it really counted, Nikki would choose her father over Annie and the war would continue. The end.

The Sleepwalker | Flash Fiction

Hello, peeps of the universe. Today, or tomorrow, or whenever I find the time (what is time, anyway?), I’ll be doing a writing prompt! (Is “doing” an accurate verb? I’m not really “doing” a writing prompt. I’m writing an explosion based on the fuse that is the writing prompt. But actually, I’m just rambling.)

This writing prompt will be done with no prior planning. Basically, it will be word vomit. But hopefully, it’ll be entertaining word vomit. Either way, it will help me sharpen my writing sword to a lethal point so I can viciously stab all the fictional villains. [Insert mental image of Arachnid trying to press buttons on her laptop with a ginormous sword.]


The prompt: What started off as a sleepwalking problem leads to a night of adventure when Dane gets behind the wheel and does what he was too afraid to do when he was awake. (This prompt was stolen from BookFox.)

Diana carefully watched Dane across the table from her in the small cafe. It was nearly closing time and there were no other customers, only a waiter cleaning up the nearby table and willing them to leave so he could go home.

“Look, I love you, Diana, but you have no idea what you’re talking about. So what if I sleepwalk? I don’t have a problem. It’s harmless.”

Diana leaned forward, her voice dropping to a whisper even as anger laced her words. “Harmless? Do you even know what happened last night? Have you seen the news?”

Dane slowly shook his head.

“An unidentified man let all the butterflies out of the zoo.”

Dane barked a laugh. He had braced for something terrible to come out of Diana’s lovely mouth, like vandalism or arson or murder. “That’s all? So what if a few more butterflies are flitting around the city? Let them be free.”

Diana shook her head in disgust. “You don’t understand. It always starts small, and you tell yourself it’s nothing, and maybe it is then. But it escalates and you don’t even notice. This is bad, Dane. You need help. You could do something you’d regret.”

He drank the rest of his tea while Diana’s words rolled around inside his head. “Diana, trust me, it’s nothing.”

She abruptly stood up. “It seems you don’t have to even be asleep to say things you’ll regret.”

***

Hours later, the night was blue and sleeping. Dane was only a lump under the covers, Diana’s scathing accusations forgotten in the fog of sleep. The world breathed softly, the wind brushing the curtains in greeting, and the floorboards creaked as Dane’s feet thudded softly against them.

He didn’t fit neatly in the world anymore. He was outside of the calm and his body outside the control of his mind.

***

The garage door rumbled open. A car rolled out, Dane behind the wheel. The car lurched onto the empty street, weaving in and out of the lane like it was drunk, occasionally careening onto the sidewalk.

The car coasted to a stop after a while, half on a lawn and leaning against a precariously tilting mailbox. Dane clumsily stepped onto the pavement and stumbled to the door. He rang the bell, and when no one answered, he rang it again. Again, the door remained closed, the night still and quiet. He broke the silence and pounded against the door.

A moment later, Diana opened the door, wearing purple pajamas and glaring both furiously and sleepily. She rubbed her eyes. “What do you want?” She noticed his glassy-eyed stare. “Dane.”

Dane dropped to his knees and pulled a slightly squished cinnamon bun out of his pocket and held it out to Diana in an offering. He mumbled, “I love you. Marry me?”

Diana, usually unshakeable, was shocked. This was unexpected, to say the least. She thought that his sleepwalking would culminate in various criminal activities, not a proposal. “What? No. Goodnight, Dane.” She closed her front door, rolled her eyes, and went back to bed. Dane could find his own way home, as he had every night for the past few weeks.

***

Diana slid into the chair across from Dane the next afternoon and folded her arms. “Do you know what you did last night?”

Dane looked surprised. “I sleepwalked again? But I woke up in bed this morning.”

“You proposed to me. With a cinnamon bun.”

Dane flushed. “I—You were dreaming,” he spluttered.

Tess of the Road || A Book Review

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl—a subspecies of dragon—who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Returning to the fascinating world she created in the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces readers to a new character and a new quest, pushing the boundaries of genre once again in this wholly original fantasy.


  • This book is ridiculously amazing.
  • It’s not for everyone, though. It’s really slow, and there isn’t much of a plot. It’s mostly just a character arc. But it’s a heck of a character arc.
  • For what little plot there was, I was confused for much of it.
  • THE CHARACTERS. Tess is an amazing character. She’s so developed and she seems like a real person. She has faults (many of them) and dreams and shames and other person-y things. She feels real, and I love seeing how she changes over the course of her journey.
  • The cover is a bit misleading. There aren’t really any dragons the way the cover implies. There’s a large, four-armed lizard and a really big snake, to say the least, but the dragons are in human form. It is fantasy, but it reads almost like historical fiction.
  • I love that the heavier topics were thoroughly discussed.
  • The book is really slow, but it’s compelling. You want to keep flipping the pages and keep reading and reading and reading (Warning: homework will suffer).
  • This takes place in the same world as Seraphina, but it’s necessary to read it beforehand. However, it is nice to read it first so you get a grasp on the world. There are also a lot of character cameos and references to Seraphina.
  • The writing, like in Seraphina, is gorgeous. I really love it.

The Upside of Unrequited || A Book Review

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli || 3/5

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back. 

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?


  • The writing style was lovely.
  • I appreciate the pacing.
  • I like that it takes place in the Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda universe and that we get to see some of our favorite characters, but it seemed somewhat awkward to force them to show up. But it made me happy, so *shrugs*.
  • Aside from Molly, our main character, the other characters weren’t developed at all.
  • I wasn’t attached to Molly or any of the other characters. I didn’t find Molly relatable.
  • Molly was constantly thinking about dating and boys and etc. etc. It got repetitive.
  • There’s not much of a plot.
  • Overall, it’s a decent book, though somewhat boring. I’d recommend it if you enjoyed Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Read More

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda || A Book Review

Leah on the Offbeat || A Book Review

What If It’s Us || A Book Review

Kingdom of Ash || A Book Review

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas || 5/5

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.


  • This book took me over a month to read. It was at no fault of the book, which I loved every moment of, but rather my life (aka homework). That’s a record for me. I think the length of time it took me to read the book distorted my perception of the pacing. I thought it dragged, but I have no idea if it actually did. That said, I don’t believe it did, because thinking back on the plot, there weren’t many moments where nothing was happening. It was an action-packed book. Which is to be expected as, you know, it’s a war.
  • This book is a very hardcore fantasy. (I read a fluffy contemporary afterward and it was jarring.) Through the first third or so of the book, there are no lighthearted moments to lighten the mood, and even after that, fun moments were few and far between. Our characters suffer a great deal.
  • I was planning to reread the series before I read Kingdom of Ash, but I didn’t get a chance (see note about homework). However, I unexpectedly didn’t have a problem with this. Yes, I remember very few details about the prior books in the series, but despite not having read the series for just over a year, I jumped right back into the story without missing a beat.
  • I appreciate the lack of detailed sex scenes in this installment of the series.
  • I love how conclusive the ending is. Kingdom of Ash is a worthy conclusion to this epic series.
  • The character development is lovely. I love seeing how the characters grow and change due to their experiences.
  • The writing style is, as always, gorgeous. It’s a work of art.
  • A random note: I noticed that the characters’ knees buckle a lot in dramatic scenes. I’m wondering if this is a normal thing or are the characters’ knees weirdly weak?

Extreme Spoiler Section. You have been warned.

Stop right there if you haven’t yet read the book. (In which case go read it now.) This is an EXTREME spoiler section. I will be discussing the ending. I hold no responsibility if your eyes betray you and read the following section without your permission. This is your final chance to turn back. You have been warned.

  • I really like that before the ending, Aelin loses the majority of her power. I like that she becomes an average Fae, and she still manages to defeat her enemies. I like that she’s not overpowered magically, and she still remains so powerful.
  • I like that she relies on her friends to defeat Maeve and Erawan instead of being the sole hero.
  • I like that in the end, it is not Aelin who ends Maeve or Erawan, but her friends.