Just the Last

The small class on the highlight of all Rockland High School field trips take notes as the manatees bob roundly in the water. When Molly remembers how they have those fat little fins, she wishes she could give the big one a hug, and leans over the edge a little to catch a glimpse of the cow-sweet eyes.

“Heh, look how many scars they have,” her boyfriend says, nuzzling her hair like he always does. “Bet if I had a boat I’d go fly’n if I hit that fat one.”

“You are so immature, Howard,” she answers. And pulls away.

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Writing to Prompts

This particular prompt was:

Write a 100-word story using these words: envy, manatees, and Texas.

And I don’t know that my answer is particularly awesome or anything, but today’s prompt was to write a 100-word story about ninjas and pirates, which is such an internet meme I’m positively sick of hearing about them.

Not that I didn’t love the joke in college, when my friends and I played with the idea (I was on the ninja side, by the way). But it’s not something I want to try to write one hundred words on. What would those words be? Nothing that I’m particularly interested in writing.

Not What I Wanted to Post

That would be a review of Inception, since I’ve seen it twice now, and Witches’ Children (by Patricia Clapp), because it’s simply a beautifully written novel and just…just…well, awesome is all I can say here, because I’ll definitely have to finish the review for that one: it’s too good not to. I’m going to campaign for that book.

But I’m still distracted online, reading/watching reviews of Twilight, and Harry Potter fan fiction, and also just generally looking at other web-culture type things.

Mostly because I have a two stories and two poems that I almost, kinda, sorta want to submit to Watershed, but though I reworked them a bit a few days ago, I’m rather afraid of looking at them again. I only have a few days before I have to send them off, and I can only think of what they are not. For instance, good.

And the problem is really that I just can’t evaluate my own work in any objective way…which is fairly typical as far as I can tell. But not a helpful insight. So I’ve resorted to avoidance.

Maybe I can work on them tomorrow, to distract myself from the other Big Deal, the rehearsal for The Curious Savage.

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Internationally Known

I have a great roommate. She’s from Brazil–or at least her family is. She grew up primarily in Mozambique. Her parents are missionaries, and so she moved often growing up. So far we have found that we both once liked Nsync, and that she and her friends liked the Spice Girls.  Early on, she made a rice and (black?) bean dish that I don’t remember the name of, but it was really good. It apparently is what the poor college students live off of in Brazil. However, I don’t know if I’m culturally insensitive, but when I think of my roommate, I don’t immediately think of her as Brazilian or a missionary’s daughter. In fact, I just tend to be jealous that she can cook things like rice. From scratch.*

California State University, Chico offers a course called International Forum. Recently they hosted a panel of international students, and American students who had studied abroad. There were quite a range of countries represented: from France, the UK, and Italy to Costa Rica, New Zealand and Japan. As well as the Czech Republic, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. There were quite a few students on the panel; they had to keep adding chairs.

The discussion was organized around the stereotyped American around the world. Most of it wasn’t a surprise. The government isn’t popular (it isn’t here either), there tends to be an ignorance of geography and other cultures (not all that inaccurate) and we eat junk food (so unfortunately true). There were plenty of surprises though. For instance, places like McDonalds (sort of) and KFC apparently serve real food in other countries. Several students expressed surprise at what kinds of food we are willing to eat. Well, often they technically serve real food here, but it’s actually pretty good food abroad. Hmmm…

(I should mention the student who’d come from Czech was sympathetic to the cost of real food–as sodas tend to be cheaper than bottled water, etc. Although it usually isn’t necessary here to buy water, the parallel with food is true.)

Also, flip flops are frowned upon, except as something to wear around the house. The student who’d travelled to Italy mentioned that wearing flip flops outside tended to draw attention and whispers and children pointing. I completely agree. I don’t wear flip flops–although I will confess to owning a pair to wear at a pool or in a shower, should it prove necessary. So far, it hasn’t. I’m something, apparently, of a shoe elitist.

Finally, what took me mostly by surprise, although it shouldn’t have, is that the US has a reputation for having guns on every person. This is most likely because the NRA tends to get lots of media attention, but still, it’s far easier in the US than many other countries to get ahold of a gun-type weapon. Unless you’re me.

Anyway.

Most of the international students pointed out that in their countries guns are either not allowed at all, except in cases of hunting, or even then have very strict standards for keeping a weapon. Now this really didn’t occur to me because I don’t have any contact with guns. I have only once seen a gun in person (that I can actually recall) and that was my uncle’s rifle (?–I don’t know what it was, actually, just that it was long). My dad technically has a gun apparently…I’ve never actually seen it, and keep forgetting to ask. But hunting was a major pastime where I grew up, even if not so much in my family. People tended not to use them on each other, but they were there. So guns just aren’t a part of my consciousness, so I never even thought about how other countries might allow/disallow them.

I always wanted to do some kind of foreign exchange program, but could never afford it and was always too shy. My best friend in high school did go to Germany for a year, and I still have all her letters to me, though unfortunately the message she left me where she sang “Happy Birthday” in German was lost.  I have been to Canada though. Technically. It was Sunday and nearly everything was closed and it was rainy so we stopped at an A&W and a gas station for souvenirs. Well, it does make for an amusing anecdote.

*I can make big dumplings though. And mash potatoes with a fork.

To Sleep…Seriously, No More

So, I don’t like to sleep.  Sometimes.  This varies: often I do like to sleep.  Particularly to sleep in. However, when I am stressed about the future I cannot help remembering that any particular person will spend about one-third of their life asleep.  A whole third.  That’s, like, a lot.

I apologize.

Anyway I don’t think there has been one day this week that I actually went to bed before midnight…and that does not include the time spent in actually falling asleep.  Then I have, or had, my alarm set for six-thirty in the morning.  Admittedly, I didn’t actually get up until only half-an-hour before class several days, but it still overall completely ruined my sleep schedule.  I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee.

I need my sleep. That’s all.  Of course now that I really do: i.e. school is in full swing and I need a job and I’m a procrastinator at the best of times, I’ve installed the StumbleUpon toolbar.  Will I ever sleep again?

Doubtful.

But I found one site there that does relate to this post (eventually).  It’s called LikeBetter (I think) and you just choose out of two pictures which one you prefer until the brain says it has something to say about you.  And then you tell it whether it was right or wrong. Generally it worked well for me…at least until it thought I was a guy.  I don’t know if I want to analyze that particular answer. Anyway, after one sequence of picture-choosing, the brain said I was a night person.  My brother’s first thought was, yeah that’s right. (He was visiting–or rather needed a place to sleep last night, so I got to see him. Yay!  And I’ll see him on Tues, twice, I think, and he’ll bring me Apartment Life.  Yay!)

Re-railing this post.  Yes, lately I’ve been a night-owl type.  This usually happens once school starts, and I actually have to do homework.  I can’t do all my online stuff, not to mention my games, writing, knitting and other free time stuff until I get back home.  And that’s especially hard now that I actually hang out with friends.  Seriously, this has been totally screwing with my academic life.  (Well not really, actually it’s really helpful when I’m writing an essay specifically and can brainstorm with a bunch of other people who have some idea of what I’m talking about.) But it does mean that I don’t have nearly as much time to screw around in. Though I do anyway.

And I stay up too late and don’t get up until pretty much just before I have to leave for class.

Why don’t I consider myself a true night person then?  Because I really like to get up early.  Preferably before, say, 6:30 am.  When I do manage to get up that early, I tend to accomplish much more.  There’s more daylight to work with, and while I have just as many hours when I stay up late, I don’t have the motivation.  I love the early morning light, and the way the sun slants through the window just after eight.  And I can appreciate that so much more when I’ve already had coffee and breakfast.

I can get kind of obsessive about not wasting time–though I continue to do so–especially when I’m stressed.  When I was really depressed my junior year in high school I didn’t want to sleep at all.  Seriously.  Mostly I just got stuck on the idea that as human beings we spend approximately a full third of our lives asleep.

What a waste of time, right?

This was before I’d come to the realization that sleep, is, in fact, the only the best, most useful part of the day.  So lets just say it probably didn’t help that I was depressed.  They (they being scientists, somewhere, apparently doing research, probably with federal grants) have found that the clinically depressed, are often also often chronically sleep-deprived.  And I have discovered since then that I need between eight and nine hours of sleep at night.  No matter what time of night, or what time my alarm goes off, if I go back to sleep, I will get back up almost exactly nine hours lately.  Or sometimes eight, if I did intend on getting up for something.  For example, when my brother came by he didn’t get here until after midnight, and we ended up talking until nearly two.  I woke up this morning enough to turn off the alarm and actually got up at almost exactly 10 am because I was going to help my youngest brother with his essay.

I know I’m an English major because I wanted to take the thesis (which was very good) from his one-and-a-half page draft and turn it into an eight page paper just for kicks.  He was very grateful that I didn’t try to make him do that.

P.S. You’re also supposed to sleep better in a dark room as well.  I’ve always preferred pitch black.  Unfortunately someone made the incredibly odd decision to install indoor office fluorescent strip lights on the walkway (where the only windows are).  They are rusting.  Then again,  the cover came loose on the light nearest the stairway, and it has killed lots of bugs.  It must be their supa-secret plan.  And so long as I don’t get electrocuted.  But at any rate, it means my room is darkest (currently) at about 6:30pm just before those lights come on.  Blackout curtains, maybe, if I ever think of them and can afford them at the same time.