Monday, July 10, 2017

Encyclopedia of Me - T



1. Tennant, David

He wasn't my first Doctor, but he's my favorite. To me, he's a classic. He's got that perfect blend of pure curiosity, empathy, eccentric tendencies, humor, passion, pain, rage, and a love of adventure.  I love that he's a total goofball one second and can make me cry the next. A lot of Whovians see the TARDIS as a beacon of hope, but that feeling is multiplied when it's the tenth Doctor inside.

2. Toni

If you're confused as to why Dianna Agron is on the collage for the letter "T," let me clear that up. One of the characters in the "Supernatural" roleplay I'm in is named Toni, and Dianna Agron is her face claim. But the real Toni (the girl who plays her) is one of my best friends. Half the time I'm giggling into my phone, it's because she sent a hysterical text. She's got a great sense of sarcastic humor but also gives great advice and jumps right into action when one of her friends needs to be cheered up. She's a great friend to have.

3. These Broken Stars & Throne of Glass

I love both of these books for different reasons (although something they have in common is that they have freaking awesome covers omg).

These Broken Stars is a light sci-fi survival story that revolves around two characters who despise each other. They get into petty arguments and bicker all the way across a deserted planet. So, of course, they're totally ship-able (it's a word 'cause I just made it up. If Shakespeare can do it, so can I).

Throne of Glass is a more complicated plot with a lot more action, but also has great characters. It's very plot twisty and dramatic and rooted in an extremely well-crafted storyworld. It's like Game of Thrones for teens. It's very addictive.

4. Terrible Things/"Terrible Things"

A couple years ago, I got a request to write a fan-fiction based on the Mayday Parade song "Terrible Things." Some of my favorite fan-fiction challenges have to do with tying a song into a story, and I had so much fun with this one. It ended up being a fan-fic series, also called Terrible Things, that's now over 20,000 words long, but I love it. I got to do a lot of character development with the reader and Dean and I made a few fans cry, so that's always a plus. #FandomLife



5. 'Til the Last Star Dies

One of my favorite writing projects was 'Til the Last Star Dies, which is a YA paranormal romance that involves witches and demons and magic and curses and an impending apocalypse. Here's the short pitch for it:

An immortal firstborn witch, Lila, falls for a mortal witch hunter, Melody.  What starts as complicated ends up labyrinthine when the demon Angelique sets her eyes on Lila as the newest addition to her army. And Melody is the perfect bargaining chip.

And the book trailer, which took me hours to make, but was totally worth it.



6. "This Is Us"

This is one of my new favorite shows. Every episode has some sort of plot twist, and since it's told in a non-linear fashion, it makes for all kinds of interesting character developments. Sometimes you see a character in the present day and have no idea how they could possibly end up the way they did, and then you get a flashback to their childhood that explains it. It's super cool. And I love all the characters. I highly recommend it.

7. Tea

My go-to drink for when I'm settling in with a good book, a good TV show, or a good writing session. So pretty much any time of day, I could go for a cup of tea.

8. Time travel

One of my FAVORITE plot devices. It's in "Doctor Who," "Supernatural," "Timeless," "Back to the Future," Harry Potter, and countless other stories. It's especially fun to watch how each story takes it in a different direction in order to deal with all of the contradictions that come with time travel. Will meeting your past or future self affect your timeline? How much will history be changed if you mess with one tiny thing a hundred years ago? It hurts your brain, but in a good way.


9. Taylor Swift

She was my favorite musical artist for several years, and I still love tons of her music. Her later work is especially impressive (like "Safe and Sound," "Wildest Dreams," "You Are In Love," and "Begin Again," to give some examples), but the amount of success she had at a young age was really inspiring to me as a young artist. Every one of her albums is better than the last. I can't wait to see what she does next.

10. "Talking In Your Sleep" by The Civil Wars, "There She Goes" by Sixpence None the Richer, "Toxic" by Melanie Martinez

These are all very alternative songs that I recommend checking out (you can click on the hyperlinks of each song title to listen to them on YouTube). "Talking In Your Sleep" was the theme song for one of the parts of a fan-fiction series I was addicted to. "There She goes" is on the playlist for one of my ships in the "Supernatural" roleplay. I heard "Toxic" when my family first watched "The Voice" and totally fell in love with Melanie Martinez's voice.

Edit: It was brought to my attention after this post was published that I somehow forgot to add TJ to my list! Color me Ashamed™, as he really should've been the most obvious addition. We've only been friends for a little over a year, but it feels like longer. It's been so much fun to geek out over musical theatre, books (I've basically shoved dozens of various YA books into his hands so he'd read them, and he's incredibly patient while I do this), superheroes, and more. He's invited me to two of his school dances, which has been great, because we can both be wallflowers and dorks together with the band kids instead of trying to look "cool" in the middle of the dance floor (trust me, we're having way more fun than anybody there). And I probably would've for real passed out before my theatre audition if he hadn't been both pumping me up and calming me down. All in all, one of my newest and best friends (even when he's talking about how great "The Emoji Movie" is going to be--are you happy, TJ? I mentioned "The Emoji Movie" on my blog and it wasn't over my dead body). Since I can't edit the collage above, here's a nice big picture of us that's one of my favorites.

TJ's right in the middle next to me. This was a great candid shot from my mom.

What would you list for the letter "T?" Leave a comment!

Friday, July 7, 2017

I'm Niiiiiiine!

Or my blog is, anyway. Every year, I struggle for new and interesting ways to celebrate, because even though this is my blog, I'd get bored talking about myself for too long. This year, I had no problem coming up with an idea. Even though it's a little over a week after the fact, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone celebrated its 20th anniversary, and since I was away at the time, I never got to add my two cents to that milestone. How better to celebrate my blog birthday than with Harry Potter's birthday?


20 of My Favorite Moments from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

1. "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

Reading this line is like coming home after years of being away. It's so simple, and not even the greatest first sentence in the world, but it's familiar and welcoming and warm.

2. Dudley falling into the glass case at the zoo.

I've never read about a brattier kid than Dudley, and it was fun to see him get a little taste of his own medicine for a minute.

3. Uncle Vernon's descent into madness as he attempts to keep Harry from getting his Hogwarts letter.

Boarding up the mail slot, fleeing the house, and going across a stormy sea to a little shack, all to avoid getting letters? You won't find many people that determined to avoid anything, and it's the perfect way to show how utterly obsessed that family is with keeping up appearances.

4. Harry meeting Hagrid for the first time.

Hagrid's a giant teddy bear, and the first encounter Harry has with him is both strange and sweet. He gives him a birthday cake, insults the Dursleys, talks about wizards and Hogwarts and his parents, and gives Dudley a pig's tail with his magical umbrella. It doesn't get much better than that.

5. The Diagon Alley chapter.

Harry's wonderment at everything Diagon Alley, and the rest of the wizarding world, has to offer mirrors the reader's awe when they first read about it. It's pretty spectacular.


6. Meeting the Weasleys at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.

This sums it up.



7. Harry buying a whole Halloween's worth of candy on the Hogwarts Express and sharing it with Ron.

The beginning to their friendship is just so pure and precious. Ron tells Harry stuff about the wizarding world, like chocolate frog cards and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, and the two of them trade stories about the more unfortunate parts of their childhoods. A perfect bonding moment.


8. The sorting ceremony.

What other school has an extraordinarily old hat sing a self-composed song to welcome students into the new school year before screaming what house they're going to be in for the rest of their education??? It's so quirky and cool.


9. Hagrid inviting Harry for tea.

Hagrid is the best.

10. Harry breaking rules during his first flying lesson to get back Neville's Remembrall and ending up joining the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

Because McGonagall is freaking awesome and secretly super competitive when it comes to the Gryffindor team winning the Quidditch cup. I love her.

11. Harry and Ron sneaking out to duel Malfoy.

These two, dear lord, were so young and innocent. How were they expecting to win a duel with like a week of school under their belts? But their midnight escapade provided lots of entertainment: poor Neville forgetting the password again, Filch and his unhealthy obsession with catching students out of bed, Peeves doing his thing, coming face-to-face with Fluffy for the first time, and let's not forget Hermione's classic "We could all have been killed--or worse, expelled."


12. The epic fight against the troll in the bathroom.

I couldn't believe it when Harry just straight up launched himself at the troll and clung to his neck. And then Ron ended up taking the thing out with Wingardium Leviosa after taking Hermione's lecturing to heart. But the best part was the beginning of the trio's friendship, like it says at the end of the chapter: "But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them."



13. The first Quidditch match.

I've never enjoyed sports more. Lee Jordan's commentary was more than amusing, too. Also, Hermione setting fire to Snape's robes!


14. Harry getting the invisibility cloak and discovering the Mirror of Erised and Dumbledore talking about wanting socks for Christmas.

The feeeeeeelllllllllsssssssss.


15. Neville finally standing up to Draco.

"I'm worth twelve of you, Malfoy." HECK YEAH, NEVILLE, YOU TELL HIM.


 16. Norbert.

Hagrid being all motherly to his little baby dragon. "Bless him, look, he knows his mummy!" Plus Hermione actually agreed to breaking school rules to go help Harry get rid of Norbert so Hagrid wouldn't get in trouble, which is an "aww" moment if I ever saw one.


17. "Mars is bright tonight."

The centaurs cracked me up the first time I read the chapter where they go in the Forbidden Forest for detention. They'd drive me so crazy if I actually had to deal with them, but watching Hagrid get progressively more annoyed by them is great.

18. Every challenge the trio had to conquer under the trapdoor.

Like the Devil's Snare when Ron shouts, "HAVE YOU GONE MAD? ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?"and Hermione remembers that she can use magic and doesn't in fact need wood to light a fire. Or Ron getting a chance to shine on the chessboard. Or Harry utilizing his seeker skills to catch the winged key. Or Hermione using her "books and cleverness" to beat Snape's potion riddle.


19. Harry facing off against Quirrell and Voldemort.

That whole scene was epic. All the tension and creepiness and then Harry just clawing at Quirrell's face because Quirrell couldn't touch him without burning himself. What a climactic moment!

20. Dumbledore dishing out extra points.

But especially him giving Neville the final ten points that wins Gryffindor the house cup. "There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom." What a confidence boost that must've been to a kid like Neville who didn't think he had enough bravery to belong in Gryffindor. And it's the perfect celebration to have at the end of the book.



What are your favorite Sorcerer's Stone moments? Leave a comment!

Monday, July 3, 2017

June Wrap-Up

Books I Read

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

3.5/5

As usual, Rainbow Rowell's characters and dialogues kept me hooked pretty much the whole way through. It was a bit of a slow start and the ending was a little disappointing, but it's short and easy to read and the middle was great!

We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash

2.5/5

I had higher hopes for this one since I LOVED Honor Girl, but the only thing this book had was plot. I didn't like any of the characters, and a lot of them were very two-dimensional. It's the first book in a series, but I don't think I'll be reading the rest. The mystery was compelling, but that's not enough to make me love a book.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

4/5

WOW WOW WOW. So many of my blogger friends had raved about this book and the hype was worth it. If it weren't for the very slow start (I almost quit a hundred pages in, but then Lara urged me to keep going), I would have given this five stars. It was MIND-BENDING. So many plot twists! So many great characters! Who knew you could make a psychotic artificial intelligence computer thing a well-developed character? The format was super unique and made a gigantic book seem like a couple hundred pages. I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel.

Movies I Watched

"Amélie"


4/5

Quirky as heck, but super fun. I felt very relaxed and optimistic after I watched it, if that made any sense. Simple story, character driven, just how I liked it. Be ready for strangeness when you watch it, though.

"Jeff, Who Lives at Home"

3/5

Funny and well-cast, but it had a sort of gray tone the entire time I watched it. You don't exactly feel uplifted at the end. It's dark and melancholy.

"Wonder Woman"

5/5

I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. I've seen it twice already, and I'll probably see it a third time this weekend. Gah, where to begin??? First of all, something that's bugged me recently with superhero movies is that the good guys who used to truly care about saving the civilians are too self-absorbed to notice that hey, maybe we shouldn't destroy these buildings and tear apart the city to fight each other. Even people like Captain America have strayed away from this more and more. But Diana really did care. She frequently stopped whatever she was doing to duck down and help a mother and her child, or anyone who needed help. She helped those who couldn't help themselves, just like she said she wanted to. And the movie was funny! Diana and Steve had fantastic chemistry, and I think Steve not only viewed her as his equal, but as his superior. Diana was in a man's world the moment she stepped into London, but she was surrounded by men who lifted her up (quite literally). The Amazons in general were warriors and never once were objectified in their own world. They wore armor instead of spandex for fighting because, duh, it's realistic. I was dreading the moment when Diana would inevitably flirt her way past a situation, but that moment never came! She used her cleverness, empathy, strength, and training to fight her battles. Steve did try to flirt his way out of a situation once, which was a welcome change and pretty humorous. The whole movie had great themes and messages and role models, and I'm so glad that little girls and boys get to grow up with Wonder Woman as a major superhero showing that girls have an equal place on the playing field.


"High Fidelity"

3/5

I really enjoyed the format this movie took. It was clever and unique and funny, but I couldn't get past the fact that I wasn't rooting for any of the characters. Rob had a lot of issues he barely started to recognize in himself and change by the end of the movie, which was too late for me to seriously care about him.

"Sunshine Cleaning"

4/5

This movie was gross, but it was supposed to be. Despite the major flaws the main characters had, I enjoyed them and ultimately wanted them to succeed. It was an interesting plot with a lot of strange twists you don't expect.

"Definitely, Maybe"

4/5

Technically I think this is a rom-com, but it had a lot of Indie movie aspects to it. The "sit down kid and let me tell you my whole life story" plot can seem forced sometimes, but it worked here. I really enjoyed it, even if I saw some of it coming.

"Cars 3"

4/5

Pixar never fails to please. The Cars franchise isn't my favorite, but they still do a lot of clever things with it. My only qualms with it is that they seemed to reuse a lot of the same old plot lines, and there definitely wasn't enough of Mater in it. But the new characters were welcome additions, and it was a fun surprise to see Nathan Fillion voice someone. (Am I the only one who is strangely reassured by his voice, no matter what kind of character he plays?)

"So I Married an Axe Murderer"

3/5

This is an oh-so-painfully-goofy sort of movie, but it doesn't pretend like it's not. It embraces the goofiness in a way that makes it sort of charming. I liked the strangeness enough to be entertained.


Quotes I Wrote

I wrote a flash-fiction story about the four horsewomen of the apocalypse arguing over how best to destroy humanity and had way too much fun writing it.


            “Ladies.” Death’s cool murmur silenced the others. The black hood and robe she wore hid all but her lips, her pale and spidery hands. “It will do us no good to bicker while the Doomsday clock ticks ever closer to midnight. We have minutes to decide. Let us use them wisely.”

            “You’ve been awfully quiet,” Famine said. “What do you suggest?”

            “My ideas are of no importance. However we choose to end the humans, I will still have to play a role. The apocalypse can happen without starvation, bloodbath, and disease, but death is inevitable. It is best if I remain impartial.”

            Pestilence snorted. Her noise of impatience disturbed a fruit fly, which now buzzed about her frizzy hair. “You think yourself noble to remove yourself from the equation, but really you are afraid to make your opinion heard. Silence is cowardice, sister. Cast your vote.”

            “We haven’t taken anything to a vote yet!” Famine shouted, slamming her fists on the table. But she was so frail and thin, she barely even rattled it. “There are still more details to discuss.”

            “Oh, for the love of Lucifer.” War rolled her blazing eyes, swung her legs up onto the table to cross them lackadaisically. Her attention could not be held for longer than a moment if the matter at hand did not involve swords clashing and blood spraying. “You and your details. Sisters, if we talk and do not act for much longer, I fear I will die of boredom before the humans have even been destroyed.”
-Apocalypse

I went to a writer's camp this month, and in one of the classes, we talked about how you can write a complete story in twenty-five words or less and give it a punchy twist at the end, using the title as an extra sort of misleading clue. I tried to write a few, and I think they came out all right.

Thanksgiving

"Bon appetite!" The family resumes their lighthearted conversation, rubbing their protesting stomachs as he plucks a knife from the table and begins to carve you.

Acquaintances

"Nice to meet you," I say. My wife shakes her hand. The woman smiles at me, as if we're strangers. But we've already met.

Campfire

I almost grab marshmallows, but decide against it. This kindling makes for bad s'mores. Too much gasoline. I set the house ablaze.

Sleepover

My friends whisper, giggle, trying not to wake me. When they get louder, I open my eyes to the empty room. The voices are back.

Obsessions I Acquired

The music from "Aladdin" - Specifically the Broadway soundtrack because I LOVE "These Palace Walls." "Friend Like Me" is also fantastic because they add a bunch of other Disney references that remind me of Shakespeare quoting his own work in "Will Power" from "Something Rotten."

(The references start around 4:30.)



All things "Wonder Woman" - Most of my electronic backgrounds are of Gal Gadot right now. I also got myself a pretty awesome Wonder Woman t-shirt and chokers soon after seeing the movie. She's definitely my new favorite superhero.


Picture of the Month 

Pictures with castmates from "Beauty and the Beast!"
I took a photography class with 4-H and liked this picture in particular.
For some reason, the theater my friend Sam and I went to to see "Wonder Woman" didn't have a poster up, so we took a selfie near a creepy shark cutout instead.
I took my dad to see "Wonder Woman" a few days later.
I went to a writer's camp and loved everyone I met there! The classes were great and the RAs were super funny and talented and involved.


How was your June?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I'm Enlisting Your Help . . .

If, of course, you'd like to help me. This is completely voluntary.* If and when you do decide to be oh-so-very helpful, you'll be met with lots of grateful hugs and virtual cookies. So thank you in advance!


*Unless you wish to suffer the wrath of a bookworm with a pile of 400+-page hardbacks.

**Just kidding.

I've been querying my YA contemporary romance, Beneath the Moon and Stars, for quite some time now, and while I did receive a full manuscript request, that agent eventually passed, and I've had no other bites since. It's always hard to tell what the exact reason for this is since most rejections are form letters, but taking a look at the query letter is a good place to start.

I'd love it if you blogger extraordinaires could take a look at my letter and tell me what works, what doesn't, what you think could be improved, etc. Pretend you're picking my book off the shelf of a bookstore or library and reading the back cover. Does it interest you? Why or why not? What's missing?

Kya and Lane weren’t exactly “meant to be.” 17-year-old Kya lives with her mother and abusive stepfather in a flea-ridden apartment above a guy who grows weed. She’d never dream of the luxury of a healthy relationship. 18-year-old Lane lives in a ritzy house with maids and cooks and constantly butts heads with his mother, who accuses him of falling in love too quickly.

One day at the grocery store, Kya and Lane meet at the checkout line, bonding over their shared disgust of Miley Cyrus music. They become fast “just friends,” discussing everything from books to whether or not eating caviar is ethical. But their friendship holds the possibility of something more. That is, it could be more if Kya’s tyrannical stepfather and Lane’s manipulative mother don’t break them apart.

But with the help of Kya’s mother and Lane’s older sister, they’ll find a way to beat the odds. If the odds don’t beat them first.




Hugs and virtual cookies await! Just leave a comment. :) Thank you!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Snippets (What I'm Doing, Writing, Working On, Listening to, etc.)

So much has happened around here lately that I've had a hard time coming up with what to post about. How do I decide on just one topic??? Then inspiration struck. I'll write about EVERYTHING. I'll bombard you with little bits of my life, writing samples, pictures, and more until you wish I had just decided to write about one thing.


Buckle up, there's a lot going on in this post.

I was in a musical!

A local theater group put on "Beauty and the Beast" and it was so. much. fun. (Besides the audition where I was like 60% sure I was going to pass out but somehow made it through.) I played the bookseller, which was perfect because I got a few lines but didn't have to be in the spotlight for one of my first more serious theater productions, and I got to be in all the best songs ("Belle," "Gaston," "The Mob Song," and "Finale")! We had four performances with two different casts (the main parts were all double cast) and everyone was really talented and fun to be around. The costumes and sets were amazing, too.

I'm friends with the family in charge of the sets, so they had me pick out a few titles like Harry Potter and Eleanor & Park for them to paint on the books. They also added my books (Fauxpocalypse and Instructions For Flight) as a surprise, which was so cool!

My brother and dad built Maurice's invention
From left to right: Bookseller, Maurice, stage crew, Madame D'arque, and Lumiere.
Jazz hands!
Beauty and the Beast
With our directors and choreographer.





 
Somehow I managed to avoid stepping on Gaston's feet here.
My best startled and annoyed face at Maurice accosting me when I'm just trying to get Gaston a drink.
I don't know what's happening with his facial expression here, but I love it.
The directors kept these two siblings in the same cast because they had way too much fun fighting each other onstage.

Kill the beast!
Fight scene.
The beast's transformation.
 
 
They put me in charge of a small child at the last minute for curtain call.
You can see me peeking out from underneath Babette's and the wardrobe's arms.

Phew, that's a lot of pictures.


We had a party to watch the Tony Awards!

Not that I wasn't already listening to "Dear Evan Hansen" and "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812" like crazy, but the Tony Awards just gave me another excuse to listen to them non-stop. Our friends who are also musical theater junkies (and were involved in "Beauty and the Beast") came over to watch with us.


 
 
 
 
 
 

Of course we couldn't let a perfect food opportunity go to waste.

After seeing the "Great Comet" performance, I'm even more excited (if that's possible) to see it live! My dad surprised my brother and me with tickets to go see it on Broadway with Oak from "Hamilton" starring as Pierre! :)

I'm working on a thousand different writing projects!

This is a bit hyperbolic, but you get the idea. I just finished the first round of edits for Ms. Holmes and am horrified at how often I used adverbs and the phrase "She raised her eyebrows." I'm surprised my characters' eyebrows didn't fly off their foreheads from overuse.

And since I'm more sick of 221B Baker Street than I can say, I'm getting ready to tackle edits for 'Til the Last Star Dies, because I miss my little ragtag team of demon hunters and witches. I'm also curious what horrors I'll find in there. Maybe my adverb usage will have improved?

I took a break from my pirates, but I'm returning to Captain Zahira and her Wayward Crew after more inspiration struck me. I'd forgotten just how many characters I'd decided to include, so juggling all of them should be fun. Right now I'm especially fond of my half-mermaid Master Gunner, Jezebelle. Jez is that person who has a dozen different weapons hidden in the most unlikely of places and takes several minutes to unload them upon being captured by the enemy when they say, "Leave all your weapons."

I've also written a lot of flash-fiction I'm hoping to submit to the Scholastic writing contest later this year. So far my favorite one is about the four horsewomen of the apocalypse arguing over how best to destroy humanity. It's really freaking weird and probably needs a lot of work, but I loved writing it.

And finally, I've been writing a lot of poetry. Poems are always good to have on hand for contests, and I love writing them more than ever since I took that online poetry course from the University of Iowa. Who knows if they're any good, but I've definitely improved.

I completed my Goodreads goal!

Already? You might be thinking. Yes, already, because for some reason I thought setting a low goal this year would be more realistic since I wouldn't have as much time to read with the classes I've been taking at my community college. But I forgot I can totally count stuff I have to read in class toward my goal! (This is a super handy trick that I absolutely recommend if you're busy with school and need to complete a challenge.) My theatre class alone allowed me to add four or five plays to my goal of 40 books. I probably cheated a little, too, since I've been adding comic books toward the challenge, too.

In case you're curious, here are my favorite books from the year so far.


I have a bunch of writing camps coming up!

Writing camps are always the highlight of my summer, because it's the only magical place on earth where you can get a bunch of awkward and introverted writers together and turn them into these strangely extroverted creatures. Each year, I make new friends who are talented and hysterical and love all the same things I do. The classes are great and the teachers encourage you to keep in touch with them afterwards so they can continue to help you with all of your writing endeavors. It's going to be tons of fun.

In fact, I loved camp so much last year, I wrote a full-length movie script about it that's probably 85% autobiographical.

Somehow in this time, Kat managed to leave the room without being noticed and then come back through the door with a carton of Chinese food. She stops with her chopsticks midair when she notices everyone staring at her.

KAT
What?


PEYTON

Where in the world did you get that?
 

KAT
What do you mean?
 

PEYTON
We don’t have Chinese food anywhere on campus. And we’re not allowed to leave campus . . .
 

KAT
I know people.
 

DANA
Of course you do.
 

ANNA MARIE
Well sit back down and help us get stuff done.
 

DANA
Yeah, I’ve done nothing except quietly weep on the inside at how little I’ve gotten done.
 

SAM
Hey, Sarah and I got stuff done . . .
 

PEYTON
Really? What’d you do?
 

Sarah mumbles something unintelligible.
 

ANNA MARIE
(dryly)
Sorry, didn’t catch that.
 

SAM
Wrote “Wicked” parodies.
 

SARAH
(singing)
“I’m gonna tryyy defyyyying responsibilitiiiieeeesss.”
 

Kate and Peyton giggle. Anna Marie looks 5000% done with everyone.
 

ANNA MARIE
And this is why we get nothing done.
 

CAMERA ZOOMS IN ON THE ALARM CLOCK IN THE ROOM. IT READS 1:15. IT FADES TO 3:37.
 

Sam and Sarah are now belting show tunes. Kat somehow got a hold of an entire large Papa John’s pizza and gives everybody a slice.
 

Anna Marie quietly bangs her forehead against her keyboard. Dana is surrounded by at least five different notebooks and looks panicked. Kate and Peyton are the only ones typing away at their laptops as if they’re actually getting work done.

My dog is adorable!


In other news, water is wet.

I made the dean's list!

This past semester was the first time I took on a full load of classes, and I decided I really wanted to challenge myself, so I took a public speaking course and an Intro to Human Biology class. And let me tell you, our bio professor was freaking insane.

Eccentric and intense doesn't even begin to describe him. He gets like four hours of sleep each night because he gets up at 3 in the morning to run seven miles or so, then showers, drives to work, and repeats this every day. Every time I came to class, I'd try to see how much the bags under his eyes had grown. Not only is he a crazy runner, but he's a health freak, too. Anytime he'd talk about McDonald's, he'd called them "Micky D's" and get this manic glint in his eye like he was fantasizing about burning it to the ground. He frequently stopped talking about whatever it was we were supposed to be learning for the next test to go on fifteen minutes rants about how we need to get an hour of exercise a day and get our blood pressure checked and make sure we eat a nutritious breakfast. I would always describe him to my friend as a strange combination between a drill sergeant and a concerned father.

Anyways, all of this is to say that he terrified me for a good month. Imagine coming into class your first day for a course you already know is probably your worst subject and seeing this guy with a stern look on his face and bags under his eyes that could carry all of his groceries from how deep they were. And then as soon as the clock hits 9:30, he starts off class by telling us statistics from his previous classes. "Seven of you will fail, five will drop out, another seven will have to fight and claw their way to a passing grade, and maybe, maybe two of you will get an A. If you're lucky." This is a direct quote, I kid you not.

At that point, I was just hoping for a B and trying not to cry. But then he passed out index cards to all of us and asked us to write down our names and what grade we thought we'd get. I had no clue why and I'm still not really sure why he had us do this, but okay, I'd take the bait. This was a challenge. Even if I was 95% sure at that point I would get a B in the best case scenario, I wasn't going to write that down, so I wrote down I thought I'd get an A. I think most of the class did the same because they thought it was the right answer, and as he took all of the index cards back, I could see his disbelieving frown and a look of, "Yeah, sure, okay, you keep telling yourself that."

After about a month, though, he started to scare me less and less because I really tried to do everything I could to get my grade as high as possible. The tests were awful and required a ridiculous amount of memorization, so I took advantage of the fact that I was acing theater class to take extra time to study for the tests and pop quizzes. But there were also easy ways to get my grade up, like showing up to class (duh) and the participation points. He encouraged everyone from day one to raise their hands and answer questions (or ask questions), even if they didn't totally know the answer. Sometimes he'd even ask people to raise their hands to answer a question he hadn't asked yet. It was intimidating as hell, but I wasn't about to lose the easiest points possible for my grade, so I did it, and I think he appreciated that.

One day he found out that I was homeschooled and still in high school and he told me that both homeschoolers and high schoolers were always the best students in his classes, which was great motivation at that point, because I was pretty sure I'd just gotten a C on the last test we had (it was a C. I'm still bitter about it.).

By the time finals came around, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I could probably scrape an A on the course. I studied for hours because I wasn't about to let all the hard work go to waste. I wouldn't have minded a B at first, but when I was this close to an A, I'd be pretty disappointed to fall short then. Especially since he'd told us only two people in the class had As at that point (I was one of them) and that he wasn't even sure those people could keep it with how hard the final was.

It. Was. On.

After class, I went to him to see what I had to do to keep my A, and he said he actually thought I had a good chance of keeping it if I continued to study as hard as I had been, which told me his little speech before was probably a scare tactic to kick the rest of the class into high gear. "But," he said, raising his eyebrows and giving me one of his Looks. "You can't take your pedal off the gas already. There's still another lap to go." Which was a pretty weird metaphor, even for him, because he literally never used car racing metaphors before, but okay, I could roll with it. It certainly wasn't the strangest thing he'd done (I'm pretty sure gleefully shouting "Let's talk about feces!" wasn't even the strangest thing he'd done).

So long story short, there were tears and sleep lost to an entire binder full of notes, and two excruciating hours of wondering if I remembered anything I'd learned as I took the final, but my stubborn pride paid off.

I was the only student who got an A.

And since I had As in all of my other classes, I made the dean's list.

What are you excited for this summer? What are the best books you've read so far this year? Who was your weirdest teacher in school? Leave a comment!