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More Than I Can Chew: A Look Back

Image result for gum cartoon

For those who don’t know, two years ago I started writing an interactive blog story about two identical twins, one of whom had made a business out of selling gum to his fellow high school students. When one of his gum-selling employees decides to go rogue, a series of insane, potentially life-ruining events go down. No one is the same.

At the end of each chapter, there’d be poll that would allow the reader to decide which direction they wanted the story to go in. It was a good writing exercise: to write a cohesive story while staying true to the characters, despite having little to no control over the plot.

It had been a long time since I’d so much as thought about More Than I Can Chew, and what reading it over, a few things surprised me. So I decided to write a post about my thoughts on the project, almost two years after it ended, partly for nostalgic purposes but mostly for shameless self-promotion.

Click here if you want to read it!!!

1) Kathy is still cool.

I’m going to be honest: I had no intention of writing an older sister into the story for the first three chapters. The thought hadn’t even occurred to me until I realized that Wyatt was only 15, and he’d need someone to drive him around for this story to work. So I created Kathy, who was technically a plot device, but ended up being the heart of the story. (Or at least, I thought she was the heart of the story. Remember when she took the blame for something Wyatt did, even though she didn’t have to? That was sweet.)

2) A lot of the writing needed work.

There was a bit more telling than there should’ve been, and too many adverbs. I kind of want to go back to those posts and just revise everything, but I won’t. Because the past is the past, and it should stay that way. (Could I sell it as an ebook?)

3) Adrien wasn’t particularly likable in the beginning, was he?

He kept going on about how much he hated his brother, and I was like, “Damn, Adrien. Wyatt barely thinks about you at all. Move on. Get your own hobby.”

Adrien’s unlikeability can be boiled down to two problems:

  1. He was a big ol’ Mopey Gus in the beginning.
  2. He didn’t really do anything, at first. He just went to the bathroom, then got captured. I think Past Me realized this, because Past Me started giving him as much agency as the circumstances would allow, and I think it helped a lot.

4) Things went by a lot faster than I remembered.

So they were both in school, then Adrien gets kidnapped, now Wyatt and Kathy are driving to a park to pick him up. Now Adrien’s in the ER, Wyatt’s smashing furniture, and now Kathy’s managing to drive home, to the hospital, to the furniture store, and back home in record time. The whole story would’ve been about sixty pages long in book form, which is crazy considering just how much went down.

I’m not sure if this was a problem for anyone else, or if it only felt this way because I was reading it in on my phone, but things definitely felt like they were going by way too fast. Maybe that’s just my old age speaking. *shrugs*

5) The ending wasn’t as bad as I remembered.

It was a little abrupt, but not gonna lie, I think I’d be okay with this ending if I were just an unknowing reader. However, I’m a fan of ambiguous endings and most people aren’t, so I understand why some people may have been frustrated, and asking me questions like, “What happened to Diesel?” or “Was the money really counterfeit?” and “Is anyone going to jail? I feel someone should be thrown in jail.”

To which, I finally answer those questions, for those of you who are still around.

  1. Diesel was lying about his name the whole time. When he met Wyatt outside that hockey game back in ninth grade, he told him his name was Diesel because he wanted to see if Wyatt was dumb enough to believe it. Wyatt was. For several weeks prior to the start of this story, Diesel was quietly scheming his way to get the $10,000.
    • You may remember how, at the end, the characters decided to blame everything on Diesel? Well, the police were never able to find a Diesel, because no one in that high school had that name.
      • Basically, Diesel got away with everything.
  2. The money was not counterfeit. That was just Diesel being a criminal mastermind. It worked.
  3. Chances are, Fiona and Conner are going to have to do some community service. Fiona’s probably getting expelled, what with the whole, “organizing a kidnapping on school grounds” thing. I think James might be going to jail, because in order for Adrien not to get in trouble for almost killing him, he’d have to press charges on him for assault, and maybe kidnapping. The American legal system’s tricky, y’all.

All in all, I’m glad I wrote it; I just wish I had finished it within a reasonable amount of time. But hey, that’s my biggest flaw as a writer. I can’t finish. Even when I have the ending planned out, I end up losing interest and moving on to another project. Which, yeah, is a bad idea.

So I’ll end this post with some advice to all those beginner writers out there: finish your damn manuscripts. I don’t care how bad your first draft is, or if you just came up with a better story and you want to write that instead. Get it doneor you will be a failure, and you will die sad and alone in a tiny house in New Hampshire while everyone you ever loved will have nothing but contempt for you. Or your writing just won’t improve. Whichever’s worse.

Something that Happened Years Ago That I Need to Get Off My Chest

Okay, so this is something that I never really talk about, because no one ever believes me when I tell them. I’m starting to doubt if everything went down exactly as I remember it, but I know that something definitely happened and I can’t quite explain what it was. Even all these years later, I still think about it at night when I’m lying in bed. I keep trying to make sense of it all; to find a rational, scientific explanation for what happened to me, and every single time I fail.

I don’t remember how old I was when this happened. It could’ve been anywhere from five to eight. It’s strange how I remember that night so well but I can never quite place it within a specific year of my life. Memory is weird like that.

Up until I was twelve or so, my family didn’t have an upstairs bathroom. If I ever needed to go in the middle of the night, I’d have to walk downstairs, through the dark, empty kitchen and into the dark, empty living room. 

There was a glass door in the living room I’d always have to walk by, that lead out to the side of the house. Usually the curtains were covering it but sometimes they weren’t, and because I always turned the lights on with every room I walked into, I could never see if anyone was outside, peering in through the glass door. All I could see was the reflection.

Those walks to the bathroom in the middle of the night were some of the most nerve-wracking moments of my childhood. I rarely heard noises, but I always had this feeling that someone was downstairs with me, like someone would be hiding behind the couch in the living room, or someone would be waiting outside the bathroom door when I came out.

When I was finished I’d have to walk all the way back, turning the lights off behind me as I went. I’d try to keep calm but once I reached the staircase I’d always break into a sprint, and I wouldn’t feel safe again until I was back in my bedroom with the door closed shut.

The walk got easier during the Christmas season, because that was when the decorations were always up. We had a Christmas Tree covered in lights in the living room with stockings set up around the fireplace. We had this weird toy with a foot-tall plastic Santa Clause, whose head moved around when you pressed the button on his leg. I think he was supposed to talk, too, but he never did.

It was the night before Christmas Eve when I woke up again, needing to pee. I turned on the lights as I went downstairs and walked into the bathroom in the living room. The curtains to the side door were closed this time, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone looking in. 

The bathroom had a fan that turned on automatically with the lights, making it so it you couldn’t hear anything going on outside. That’s the only good explanation I can think of for why I didn’t notice any noise. If it wasn’t for the fan I probably would’ve locked myself in that bathroom for rest of the night.

Instead I walked out of it, as usual, and I immediately noticed a few things were off. It seemed colder than it had been just a minute ago, and the curtains to the side door were no longer drawn. They’d been shoved to the side, away from the handle, and in the reflection of the door I saw something moving around in the kitchen. I saw the light of the refrigerator turn on and heard the sound of glass clinking, and when I looked in closer I saw a man in a large red suit.

I thought I’d be excited to see something like this. I’d been one of those kids that loved the Christmas season and whole-heartedly believed in Santa, but seeing his back as he rummaged through the fridge sent nothing but doubts down my spine. I think it’s because, for all my willingness to believe in him and for all the arguments I’d gotten in with classmates over his existence, deep down I knew that Santa Clause wasn’t supposed to be real. At the very least, you weren’t supposed to see him. 

I watched as he took some orange juice out of the fridge and chugged it straight from the carton. He gasped for air when he was finished and wiped his mouth, and when he walked over to the trash to toss it out he glanced at the side door and stopped in his tracks, and I realized right there that he had seen me through the reflection. It was the longest moment of my life. He stared at me through the door and I stared at him. He lifted his finger to his mouth and smiled.

He continued searching through the fridge and eating our food. As I watched I realized he wasn’t as old as Santa Clause was supposed to be. From his face he seemed younger than my parents, now that I think of it, and his eyebrows didn’t match his beard or his hair.

After a couple minutes he walked into the hallway, out of view. I heard a door close, and footsteps going downstairs into the basement. 

I ran back to my room. I wanted to wake my parents and tell them what happened, but I didn’t know what I’d say. I didn’t think they’d believe me. And most of all, I didn’t know what to think of the man who’d just rummaged through our kitchen. I kept going back and forth from ‘he’s Santa, he’d never harm anyone,’ to ‘he’s an intruder dressed up as Santa and he’s going to rob us and kill us in our sleep.’

I don’t remember sleeping that night. I remember sitting up in my bed and listening to the noises from downstairs. Occasional bumps and mutters, the creak of the side door sliding open and closed, and at one point I heard the sound of slow, heavy footsteps making its way up the stairs to the upper floor. The steps grew closer and closer, until I saw the shadow of the man from the light under my door.

For a moment, I heard nothing but the man’s breathing. Then he started yanking the door handle. Violently, up and down. I kept expecting the door to swing open at any moment, but it never did. He just kept shaking the handle. I sat perfectly still, terrified to move or to make a sound, and it’s at this point that I should clarify that none of this happened, and I’m just messing with all of you. I know that if I were to come across this post, the first thing I’d do is scroll down to the last paragraph to make sure this wasn’t a joke story, so I’m just going to continue from here as if these last two sentences were never written: after who knows how long, the handle stopped shaking and the shadow disappeared, and I listened through bated breath as the footsteps shrunk in volume and the man descended down the stairs. I heard the side door open and close again, and the house was silent for the rest of the night.

Nothing was missing the next day. Even the orange juice carton was back in its place. The curtains were drawn again, and everything in the basement was exactly how it had been the day before. I told myself the whole thing was just a dream, because I didn’t know how else to deal with what I saw. The whole memory’s been tearing at me ever since, and I’m glad I have an outlet here for me to get this off my chest. If anyone has any similar experiences, or they can think of an explanation for what happened here that would put my mind at ease, please comment below.

Just Legalize Weed Already, Geez

(Note: the subject of politics comes up in this post. I usually don’t get political on this blog, because the last time I did, I ended up jinxing Bernie Sanders and resetting liberal progress back a generation. Oops. Won’t be making that mistake again. While by the internet’s standards I managed to remain relatively bipartisan here, I still think I should give you a heads up. I also talk about drug use, so if that irks you, remember you were warned.)

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I’m going to let you all in on a secret, but you’re going to have to promise not to tell anyone, okay?

I have smoked marijuana before.

I know, this is tough to hear. I know you all thought of me a constant do-gooder, incapable of moral failure, so in order to ease the disappointment I wrote you all a poem:

I tried to resist, but I’m hardly headstrong
I’ve smoked with a joint, a pipe, and a bong.
I know giving in was the move of a fool
But in my defense, it made me look cool.

This isn’t helping, is it?

Okay, so I have no idea what the culture is surrounding pot for all my individual readers. I get the impression that most of my adult followers won’t care, but I could imagine some head-shaking from some of my younger readers.

I also understand, that as a Famous Blogger™ with an impressionable fanbase, it is my responsibility to encourage young people to make healthy decisions when it comes to drug use. Which, yeah, I’m not going to do that. Weed is cool, guys.

When you’re high:

    • Everything is funnier.
    • Music sounds amazing.
    • Bo Burnham is a god.
    • Falling asleep is so easy.
    • They say it kills brain cells, but they neglect to mention that it only kills the weak brain cells, so only the strong cells survive. These strong cells reproduce and create stronger cells, making you a smarter individual overall.
    • Not sure about that last point, but it sounds true. 


Now, when did I first get into bed with Mary Jane, you ask? Well it started near the end of ninth grade, where during lunch a classmate gave me a pot brownie without actually telling me it was a pot brownie. Then another day after school, a group of kids who always hung out on my street corner asked, “Yo Matty B, wanna do the ol’ smoke-a-roo?” I said “nah man, I’m cool.” And they said, “What’s the matter? You scared?” And I said, “Well I’m convinced, hand it over,” and I’ve been a pothead ever since.

[Disclaimer: none of that is true.]

Instead I just smoke occasionally with my friends, around once a week during breaks, and rarely at all during the school year. It’s usually after a poker game, which we play with real money, which is also technically illegal. In my defense, I’m Irish.

(I think I’m just going to blame my Irish roots from now on, every time I make a questionable decision.)

This has been going on for a while, and because I do it all in MODERATION, I have yet to see any negative effects. My short-term memory is no worse than it’s always been, it hasn’t led to any harder drugs like I’ve been told it would, and according to my latest doctor’s appointment, my lungs are healthier than they’ve ever been, which is just weird. There’s no reason for that.

That being said, I hope it’s legalized at a national level. Because for all the stigma surrounding the drug, it’s fairly harmless. Really, the most dangerous part of smoking weed is getting caught smoking  weed, and that doesn’t seem right to me.

750,000 people are arrested for simple marijuana possession in one year alone, which is something that could fuck up a kid’s life, unless of course that kid is white (like me!) or has rich parents (not like me).

(Kind of want to take a moment here to clarify that being white does not make you immune to the negative legal consequences of smoking pot; the odds are just leaning in your favor.)

The worst part is when you take a look at the people running the country, and their own history with drugs. Barack Obama has been relatively open about his history with pot in the past, and he’s also been in favor of getting rid of mandatory minimums and decriminalizing the drug, so he sort of gets a pass, although he hasn’t done as much as he could have.

And then there’s people like Donald Trump. I don’t have evidence of him smoking pot before, but if the debates were any indication he was definitely sniffing cocaine. And yet here he is, hiring an attorney general who wants to double down on enforcing those laws, and with a straight face says things like: “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Really, the only difference between politicians like Bill Clinton, who sort of admitted to smoking in the past but claimed “he didn’t inhale,” (sure), and the thousands of people put in jail each year, is that the politicians got lucky. They were lucky enough to not get caught. Lucky enough to have connections and money so they didn’t have to deal with the consequences that the rest of Americans have to face, thanks to policies they themselves have enacted.

DAMN YOU, FLAWED POLITICAL SYSTEM!

The bright side for potheads is that weed continues to be legalized for recreational use on an individual state level, and if it’s anything like how gay marriage was, it should be approved at a federal level after 37 states or so. #babysteps

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So what do you think? Should it be legalized? Should it stay illegal? And if you enjoyed this post, stay tuned for my next one: “Why the Hell Haven’t We Legalized Crack?”

Storytelling Tips Learned from The Leftovers

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I’ve watched a lot of TV shows in my life, and every once in a while one of them comes along and makes everything else look like trash. One such show was season 2 of The Leftovers, which managed to be better than its first season in every conceivable way.

A quick summary: The Leftovers is a show that’s about dealing with ambiguous loss. On October 14th, 2011, 2% of the world’s population — with no correlation whatsoever between them — just vanished into thin air at the same time. No one knows why it happened, who is responsible, or what even happened to the people that vanished. Where did they go? Are they ever coming back? Will this happen again? The writers have no intention of answering these questions and personally I hope they never do.

This may not seem like your type of show, but if you’ve ever dealt with the loss of a family member, a friend, anyone you cared about. If you’ve ever dealt with depression, or if you’ve ever just been sad about something at all at any point in your life, you will connect with this show on some level.

In my case, I connected a little too deeply, and I was pretty much an emotional wreck after every episode. It changed the way I thought about my own writing, and it also redefined my perspective on life itself. 

(To be fair, my perspective on life changes about once every week .)

For this post I’m just gonna be focusing on the writing portion, as I bequeath to you some of tips I took from this show:

TV-Cap: ASH VS EVIL DEAD at Comic-Con, THE LEFTOVERS Season 2 Trailer, & More

Don’t be afraid to shake things up.

The show’s first season took place in a small town in upstate New York. It was a stand-in for the rest of the world. “Anytown, USA,” it might as well have been called. We followed the characters there for eight or nine months, getting to know and understand them as they got into various hijinks and tomfoolery.

And then the first episode of season 2 comes along and the focus of the show moves thousands of miles away to the town of Jarden, Texas. The opening episode focuses on a set of characters we’ve never met before. You don’t see a single familiar face until you’re forty-five minutes in. Jarring as all hell, but it worked.

But it wasn’t just the setting that changed: the tone changed, the lighting changed, even the opening credits changed drastically in a way that I can’t remember seeing before. Here’s the opening to the first season: 

And now here’s the second one:

Changing so much about the show was a pretty ballsy move, I think we can all agree, and yet it paid off better than anyone could’ve expected, with a show currently being praised by critics and viewers alike as one of the best on TV.

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Not everything has to be explained.

In one episode we watch a character have a friendly conversation with her new neighbor, one that ends with no apparent conflict between them. The very next scene we watch as she casually walks up to the neighbor’s house, picks up a rock, and throws it straight through the neighbor’s window.

The show never outright explains why she decided to suddenly vandalize her neighbors’ house, but the audience is left to figure it out for themselves, even though there’s more than one possible conclusion for the audience to draw. The show trusts the viewers to figure shit out on their own and allows them to interpret things in different ways, and so should you.

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Some things probably should be explained.

The guy who wrote The Leftovers is Damon Lindelof, who also wrote the show Lost. As a result, he has a bit of a reputation for setting up mysteries without actually resolving them in a satisfactory way. So when he decided to write another show centering around a mystery that he has admitted from the beginning would never be explained, he got an understandable amount of flak from pissed off Lost fans.

And yet, the second season of the show introduced several mysteries at once, including one really juicy one. A mystery so juicy it might as well have been a porterhouse steak. For weeks and weeks I scrolled through dozens (hundreds?) of different theories regarding it, and not only were a: none of them were right, but b: the mystery was handled in such a jaw-dropping, game-changing way that I couldn’t even sleep afterwards. And I love to sleep.

The lesson here is that you can keep things ambiguous if you want, but you need to have a good grasp on what should be answered and what doesn’t have to be. The Leftovers is a show that’s very premise is an unanswered question, but it remains satisfying because when it comes to big reveals, it never drops the ball. 

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Tell a joke for once.

While I can fanboy about this show for ages, and could probably write a novel-length essay analyzing it scene to scene, I must admit that at one point, I was thinking about quitting the show.

Around halfway through the first season, I was getting wary. The show was so dark. All the characters seemed to be digging themselves deeper and deeper into their own misery. The show at that point was utterly humorless. Humorless and hopeless, it seemed; the two worst things a story could be. 

But luckily the writers seemed to figure this out, because they started to inject some much-needed humor into the characters. And then they gave the characters hope within all the sadness, and it was raw and beautiful and cathartic and no I am not crying right now, I just have something in my eye, so shut up.

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Make every moment count.

You could tell a story’s well-done if you can’t think of a single thing you’d cut. This wasn’t case for the first four or five episodes, (which is why it’s the weakest part of the show), but re-watching the season 2 premiere, it’s amazing to see just how important every single moment turned out to be. Every odd detail, every facial expression. They even managed to turn a stupid knock knock joke into hardcore foreshadowing. (Yes. Hardcore.)

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Not all dystopian stories have to involve an evil government that needs to be overthrown.

I remember seeing a review for The Leftovers describing the series as a dystopia, and I remember thinking, “Hm, I guess it is kind of dystopian.” After all, it was about an alternate version of the world, where mysterious cults are rising up all over the U.S., and the government has no problem with killing them off if need be. 

When I usually think of Dystopian stories, I think of V for Vendetta, or The Hunger Games: where the world is terrible, but at least the readers know who’s to blame. But in The Leftovers, the world can’t be fixed by blowing up buildings, or shooting people with an arrow. The world’s broken because each and every person in it is broken. It’s a dark premise, but I think it’s much more compelling than most of the dystopian books and movies I’m so used to seeing.

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I’m going to be honest, guys. This was less about writing tips, and more about how much I love this show. Watch it. It’s lit.

Nothing Like an Award to Keep Your Spirits Up…

So throughout the past couple months, I’ve received a bunch of awards. This isn’t surprising, (I mean, have you met me?) but I’m flattered nonetheless. Most of these awards were season-based, so I decided to go with the one nomination that doesn’t belong to a specific time of the year: the Sunshine Blogger Award.

I was nominated by the always snazzy Katie Nichols. She’s only tried to kill me twice this year, so I’m extra thankful.

The rules:

–Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog. (Check!)

–Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you. (Yeah, not happening.)

–Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions. (Also not doing this, because Standards.)

–List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

 

1.  If you could only read one fictional book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

It would probably be a really dense book; one where you’ll discover something new each time you read it. So if you’re allowed to pick a series, I’d pick A Song of Ice and Fire, and if you’re allowed to pick just one book, it would be Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell. I haven’t read it yet, but I heard it’s good and long, so a reread would probably be rewarding.


2.  What type of computer do you use for blogging?

My chromebook. Bought it over a year ago for 180 bucks and it’s been working like a charm ever since. #quitethebargain


3.  What was the last album you listened to straight through?

Atlas: Year One, by Sleeping at Last. This is one of those albums where every song sounds good, but only handful can give you an actual eargasm. Those three songs were Earth, Saturn, and Neptune. Listen … if you dare.


4.  What is your favorite holiday sweet?

Come to think of it, I don’t really like any food that goes specifically with a certain holiday. I guess I do like the Christmas-themed designs of Coca-Cola cans.

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Those polar bears would maul you to death if they got the chance.

5.  Are you known for making a signature dish or food?  If so, what is it?

I don’t cook much, but I do make scrambled eggs and toast. I can also make microwavable popcorn with ease. 

6.  Would you consider your handwriting to be sloppy or neat (or somewhere in between)?

Depends on the pen and my current state of mind. That being said, it’s always legible.


7.  What is the awesomest-looking book you own, and why?

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That’s not my hand, by the way. Photo credit goes to MightyGirl.com.

You may not be that impressed, but I think the cover sets the tone for the book perfectly. And it can’t be stressed enough just how good the paperback Stephen King books feel in your hands. The pages feel so clean, the font is so easy on the eyes … in fact just writing this makes me want to buy another King novel.

8.  Name your three biggest fandoms.

Bitch please. I don’t do fandoms. Fandoms are for dweebs and dorks and no-lifes, not for a cool dude like me. I do have a reversible belt, after all.

That being said: 1) Harry Potter. I don’t talk about the series much these days, but it will never not hold a special place in my heart. 2) A Song of Ice and Fire. I could talk about these books for days. 3) No idea. There’s probably a Stephen King fandom I’d get along well with. Maybe The Raven Cycle. Those were good books. Hopefully I’ll write something one day that inspires a fandom;  my dream is to get death threats in the mail after killing off a beloved character.


9.  Favorite childhood movie?

Finding Nemo. It’s funny, and an emotional rollercoaster? But how?

10.  Pizza or tacos?

Sicilian pizza any day of the week. With tacos, the shell always breaks on the first bite.

11.  Name three books that everyone on earth should read.

Keep in mind that I’m not picking these books necessarily because they’re my favorite, but because I like the message behind them.

  1. Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut. In part because I think it deserves more attention than Vonnegut’s more famous work, but also because I think it has some really neat things to say regarding morality and whatnot. Plus, in a world where millions of World War II books are published each year, Vonnegut managed to write one with a fresh perspective. (That last point is true for a lot of his books. But this is one is even fresher.)
  2. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily Danforth. There’s a movie adaptation coming out soon, so the book should be getting a nice boost in popularity, but then again, the movie rarely does the book justice. So just read it already. It’s about a lesbian growing up with a very conservative family in 1990s Montana, who gets sent to a gay conversion camp. Some thoughts:
    • It’s about the importance of understanding people and respecting them for who they are.
    • It’s also sort of glorified pot and normalized shoplifting, but I’m okay with that.
    • I feel like, in most stories like this, you’d expect the conservative relatives and the people running the camp to be demonized — to be written like one-dimensional homophobes taken straight out of an after-school special. But nope, they’re written with just as much humanity as anyone else. It would’ve been so easy for the author to write them off as Evil, but she didn’t, and for that, I salute her.
  3. It, by Stephen King. Sure, it’s violent and scary, and it ends with a bizarre, offensive sex scene that makes it clear the author was snorting coke while writing it. (Apparently he remained high during the editing and revision stage, and so was his editor.) Nevertheless, the things King has to say regarding friendship and childhood are powerful, and should still be relevant for years to come.
    • I also want everyone to be just as scared as clowns as I am.
    • Should note that while it’s been over four years since I read it, I can still remember characters like Stuttering Bill, Bevvy, and Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier, and some scenes — the rock fight, Ben’s first encounter with Henry Bowers, the part where Pennywise takes the form of a security guard with a dog’s head, (that was weird) — are still etched in my mind, and will probably never go away.
  4. Bonus Mention: V for Vendetta, and 1984. I can’t help but feel like these two books, (especially 1984, with its Groupthink and Newspeak) are becoming increasingly relevant.

And that is all! Thank you Katie, and thank you, America. I wont be nominating anyone, because I wouldn’t want to be a bother. Good night. Sweet Dreams. Don’t let the bed bugs eat open your veins and crawl around your circulatory system.

No, Participation Trophies are Not Turning Kids into Entitled Wimps, so Shut Up About It

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Okay then.

So as a side effect of the 2016 election, I’ve become increasingly involved in politics, and to keep my mind open, I’ve been trying to read from a varied number of sources. From liberal talk-shows, to conservative blogs, to moderate newspapers, to random angry YouTube comments. (Let’s not compare source validity, here.) And no matter what end of the political spectrum I’m reading, there always seem to be one issue that everyone seems to agree on: that participation trophies are the worst things ever.

Seriously, according to the internet, the worst things in the world are:

  1. Genocide
  2. Torture
  3. Participation Trophies
  4. Christmas Music
  5. Disease
  6. Discrimination
  7. Pop-up Ads
  8. Poverty
  9. Climate Change
  10. People Who are Bad at Parking.

In my humble opinion, number three is the one thing on this list that doesn’t quite belong.

“But Matt!” you say. “By giving all the kids trophies just for showing up, you’re teaching them that they don’t have to actually try in life. They’ll think life is just sunshine, roses and rainbows, and they won’t be prepared for the competitiveness of the real world.”

And I understand that reasoning. I believed it for the majority of my (not that long) life, mostly because that view had been drilled into me by so many adults, so many random people on the internet, so many teachers and relatives and fellow students. You know how many times I’ve been told that young people think they deserve to have everything handed to them? That this whole “Everyone gets a trophy” culture is turning kids into narcissistic, entitled wimps with unrealistic expectations and no real work ethic? Admittedly, not that often.

Still, it’s total bullshit. And it makes me wonder if the people arguing this have actually talked to children before, or remember what it’s like to be a kid. Because all the articles I’ve read on this issue seem to neglect one important factor: kids aren’t stupid.

Okay, kids can be pretty stupid sometimes. When I was five I believed that color didn’t exist until the 1950s, because everything filmed before then was in black and white.

But when it comes to certain things, like competition, they are not. You could tell a group of children that they’re all equal, that they’re all special snowflakes in their own way, but this isn’t a lesson that’s going to stick. Because they inherently know that it’s not true.

I got several participation trophies growing up. Quite a few of them, actually, not that it fooled anyone. I played baseball, soccer, and basketball up until I was around seven or eight. The coaches never really kept score, and there was no championship game or anything to see who the best team was.

But trust me, the kids knew. We knew which kid was always hitting those line drives and which kid couldn’t catch a fly ball if it landed in his glove. We knew which team was the the more obnoxious, douchier version of the Yankees and which team was the even sadder version of the Cubs.* And at the end of the season when we got a participation trophy, we didn’t think we were cool; we were thinking about how the obnoxious Yankee team got the real trophies, and how they were probably going out to get ice cream.

The last participation trophy I ever received was during my last year of Little League, and trust me, I was not proud of it. By that point, every kid my age knew exactly what that meant. My mom bragged about it to my brother as if it was an actual accomplishment, and the results were disastrous. My brother laughed at me the moment he found out, and then he told everyone else about it, who reacted the same way. Every day for weeks afterward, somebody from school would bring that trophy up, in that mocking tone that kids are so good at. “Hey Matt,” they’d say, “Congratulations on the participation trophy!” Then they’d laugh and high-five each other for the sick burn. It didn’t take long for me to get the ironic nickname of Athlete. As in, “Hey, Athlete. Heard you suck at baseball.”

In the end, I threw the trophy in the trash. I quit baseball after that, by the way, and I entered middle school with a very dark, cynical view towards life.

My point is that participation trophies aren’t the phony beacons of false hope we’re giving to children to set them up for future failure. Instead, whether intentionally or not, they’ve become our way of politely telling kids how terrible they are. And they know it.

___________

Edit: I know I’m in the minority on this opinion, so if anyone would like to go into a hardcore debate over this (or even just a softcore debate), feel free to do so in the comments below. It’s more than possible, after all, that my experience with participation trophies is not representative of most people’s experience.

*I wrote this post months before the Cubs won the world series. Don’t judge me.

In Which I Reevaluate My Life, My Blog, and Everything in Between

I’m back, motherfuckers, and I’m here to stay.
I’m bringing blogging back in a brand new way.
Yes, I know, it’s been a long time
But that don’t mean I can’t bust a sick rhyme!

…aaaaaaaaaaaaand that’s enough rapping for me. (Did it sound catchy in your head? I hope it sounded in catchy in your head.)

Image result for picture of the sea

So it’s been a few months since I haven’t blogged and I gotta say, it’s been a strange experience. 

Whenever a friend or family member from home would ask me how college was for me, I’d respond with two responses: “So far so good,” and, “it’s #lit,” and while both of those descriptions were accurate, I would never talk about the parts that weren’t so good, because I’m not that sort of person. I don’t talk about the things that truly bother me unless I can say it in a way that comes off as A. humorous, and B. not a big deal.

For the first two weeks or so of college, I had this constant pit of anxiety in my stomach. Sure, things went well — I very quickly found myself in a group of reliable friends, my roommate turned out to be perfectly respectable, and nothing embarrassing happened to me, as far as I can recall — but that feeling was still there. Every moment to myself I’d be reminded of it again.

It wasn’t homesickness, I don’t think. It was just this feeling that something was wrong. That I didn’t actually belong here, that this was all a waste of time, a waste of money, and that everything was going to come crashing down on me at any moment.

“But Matt!” you say, “what does this have to do with blogging?”

Well as you’re about to see, I’m going to talk about blogging again, and then try to awkwardly tie it together with my feelings towards college.

“Oh,” you say. “By the way, it’s disappointing that after all this time you’re still using the old, ‘hypothetical-reader-asks-question’ technique in order to transition to a new topic.”

Yeah, well, thanks for the talk.

. . . So during this time off from the blogosphere, I started thinking: why exactly had I started to drift away from my blog so much in the past year or two? I mean, back in 2013 I was able to successfully post every single day for the entirety of November, and as of July of this year, I couldn’t even maintain interest for a week. Why?

Image result for the letter Y

It’s because I’m a different person than I was in 2013, and I’m a different person than I was this July, and these changes will continue until I’m like, forty. Then I’ll just stagnate forever.

How am I different? Well for starters I think I’m becoming a more open person. The outer me and the inner me are becoming increasingly similar in real life, and that change hasn’t extended to this blog. Mostly because I haven’t been here. But also because I only really talk about the positive things in my life.

When I do talk about the negatives, I do it in a way that makes it seem trivial, unimportant, or I leave out the real problems.

Example: Remember how earlier this year I wrote a post about how I was failing Calculus, and cited my poor eyesight as the main reason? Well yeah, I did need those glasses, and getting them helped improve my life a lot. But I never mentioned those long periods of time through the last two years of high school where I couldn’t concentrate on anything; where an easy homework assignment would take me hours to finish, assuming I could even able to motivate myself to start it.

My parents would always see the report cards during these periods and they’d ask me if I was okay, and I’d always say yeah, and I’d get mad at them for assuming there was anything wrong with me to begin with. But of course there was a lot of things going on underneath the surface: I couldn’t stay interested for long in anything but TV and Reddit. I saw my grades falling and my odds of getting into any college shrinking, and I couldn’t bring myself to actually do anything to stop it. I kept thinking about how if I couldn’t handle this, how was I supposed to handle anything?

It would work in a cycle: I’d slowly sink into that mode where I mostly just slept and watched TV, and then something would snap me out of it, I’d try to salvage what I could of my grades by getting all my late work handed in, and I’d tell myself I’d never get that bad again. And for a week or two I’ll be fine, but then I’d feel it slipping and it’ll all come back, just as bad as before.

I probably should’ve seen a therapist, or have gotten some sort of help. That’s on the top of my list of “Things I’ve Never Done, but Probably Should Have.” Instead I read It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a book about a depressed teenager, roughly my age at the time, who almost commits suicide before admitting himself into a mental hospital. And while I was never nearly as bad as he was, I gotta say I was disturbed by how familiar his symptoms were.

I’m lucky in that I haven’t felt this way since high school ended. It went away during the summer, and I was so afraid that it’d come back hard during college, because that’s when depression and anxiety are the most commonly diagnosed. But it didn’t. Or at least it hasn’t yet. *fingers crossed*

You know what would have been nice, though? To have been able to talk about it on here. I certainly could have, and I even wrote a really long, detailed post describing how I felt at the time, but I never posted it because I felt like it was too much. It didn’t quite vibe with anything else I was writing. This is a humor blog, I figured, I can’t just talk about depression all of a sudden.

And during the last few months, I realized that I want to be able to talk about these things on here. I want to be able to write a funny post one day and write a serious one the next, and not feel weird about it. And recently it hit me that there was nothing actually stopping me from doing so; just myself.

So, yeah. I hope to be making the most of Winter Break, and I want to write a blog that has more of an emotional range than just bitter-sarcastic or happy-sarcastic. (Though let’s face it, I’m mostly gonna just joke around.)

There’s a lot of things I want to talk about, after all, so let’s see how it goes.

Seven Summer Lessons I’ve Learned So Far

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. In my defense, when people told me that the summer before college would be nothing but sex and drugs and rock and roll, I assumed they were exaggerating. (First lesson of summer 2016: don’t assume anything.)

Okay, so maybe I myself was exaggerating a bit there, but I have indeed been busy lately. Once school ended I had to attend a string of graduation parties, ceremonies and what-have-yous. Plus now that I’m eighteen and school’s out I’ve been working very long hours. I also started volunteering at a hospital nearby, so that’s cool.

(Lesson #2: Don’t expect much from volunteering at a hospital, at least if you’re still a high school student. My first day they had me cleaning the railings in the hallway and I was told, “feel free to take as long as you want with this, because we have nothing else for you to do.” I still had six hours left on my shift.)

(That being said, I don’t regret volunteering there. The conversations you can listen in on are a writer’s goldmine.)

I also made the mistake of buying Grand Theft Auto V, which is stealing all my time. I know, I know. I should take responsibility instead blaming my problems on a game, but in my defense that game is like heroin. Offensive, lazily misogynist heroin. 

(I am ashamed.)

Then the other day I went to my college orientation, and I’ve been on edge ever since. Part of me can’t wait to pack my bags and start this new experience, and the other part of me is constantly whispering nerve-wracking thoughts into my brain. “What if you flunk out?” “What if you have no friends and everyone hates you?” “What if your roommate is the next Ted Cruz?”, and my only coping mechanism thus far has been to browse through the millions of advice articles for incoming freshman out there. They all say pretty much the same things. Does that stop me from reading them? Nah.

(Lesson #3: The food in my college is really good. Either that, or they keep the quality up during orientation and let it slide during the actual school-year.)

(Lesson #4: Don’t get the pancakes during breakfast at college, because you will be unable to find butter or syrup and will have to eat it plain. I ate a naked pancake, guys. It was awful.)

How else have I been spending this summer? I watched Finding Dory and binge-watched Orange is the New Black, and currently have zero regrets regarding either decision.

(Lesson #5: Just keep swimming.)

Now, you may be wondering just what it was exactly that snapped me out of my laziness enough for me to write this post. Mainly it was an incident with a customer at my job that pissed me off. I was no longer angry about it by the time I got home, but it made me think about all the other stuff I want to blog about. Like my aunt’s crazy, incoherent rants about Obama, or the fact that it’s no longer considered okay to drink out of a hose. Oh, and Matt Walsh. Fuck that guy.

At the end of this long thought process I realized that I’ve neglected my blog for too long, and made a mental note to jump back into things. Y’know, just after I run over some hookers with a stolen police car on GTA V.

(Lesson #6: there’s nothing like a little righteous anger to get you motivated.)

(Lesson #7: playing Grand Theft Auto turns you into a terrible person.)

In Which I Am a Giant, Thundering Ball of Happiness

Okay, so you know how I said I was accepted into the spring semester at Binghamton? And how they almost definitely weren’t going to take me for the fall semester?

(I think you know where this is going.)

Well I just received a phone call from the admissions adviser and you guys won’t believe who’s going to Binghamton this August.

(Me. It’s me.)

I’ve decided to use a bunch of gifs to describe my feelings right now:

excited seinfeld happy dance exciting celebrate

Source: Mostlyinnocent.tumblr.com

FOX International Channels reaction dancing happy simpsons

Source: Fox?

celebration will ferrell paul rudd steve carell anchorman

Do I really need to include a source for this?

So, yeah. They took me in for the fall semester, for some strange reason. I mean, did they not see my GPA? I am a good fifteen points below the usual range for admitted students. 

But I ain’t one to argue with a good thing, so I’ll just enjoy this feeling, and hope that they didn’t just confuse me for another Matthew Black, one with better grades and more extra-curricular activities. But as of right now, it all seems legitimate, so let this be a lesson to all the younger and more impressionable students reading this right now: don’t bother trying.

Judging from my experience, all you have to do is put the bare minimum amount of effort into your schoolwork, don’t even bother with any extra-curricular activities, and people will just hand you things on a silver platter. Turns out, life really is all sunshine and lollipops after all.

Okay, so maybe this isn’t true, because my laziness over the past two years have really screwed me over when it comes to scholarships, and while the cost of a SUNY school isn’t nearly as high as most colleges, it’s still pretty high, and it’s gonna be rough having to pay that off.

Also, I can’t imagine that my college courses are gonna be as easy for me to slack off in as my high school classes, but then again, I don’t plan on slacking off this fall. (Because college costs tens of thousands of dollars whereas public high school costs basically nothing.) Then again, I’m afraid I may have lost the studying habits I used to have in eighth grade, back when I thought that dipping below a 90 average would destroy my life. Hopefully I’ll go back to that level, because the fear of flunking out should be enough to motive me for at least a semester or two.

*shrugs*

Oh well, I’m very excited right now, for reasons I will list in bullet form:

  • I’ll be able to quit McDonald’s in August instead of next January! Which is good because I don’t think I could handle an extra five months there. I do plan to work again just for winter vacation, as a lot of employees have done, but hey, absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I should actually enjoy being back at the store for a couple weeks again.
  • I will no longer be the one child left in the house this fall, meaning that I will not be called upon every single time the lawn needs mowing, or the dishes need to be cleaned.
  • Mostly though, I just did not expect this to happen, because when I went on tour the admissions counselor told me that it was very, very unlikely that they’d be taking anyone off the waiting list at all, and I had accepted the fact that I’d have to wait till late January to start off on my own. 

I suppose I should mention, though, that my original plan to go on an official hiatus when I started college in August will be happening after all, which means that I only have three months and twenty-ish days left before I say good-bye to this blog forever.

(Okay, not forever, but for at least a couple weeks.)

So I will do my very best to make that time count, hopefully ending these past three years of blogging on a high note. This may be tough, because with graduation parties, a weirdly high amount of birthdays coming up, and the end of high school coming soon, I’m going to be pretty busy.

Knowing my past history, it doesn’t seem likely that I can succeed in posting as consistently as I did in my glory days, but I’m currently in an optimistic mood (mostly ’cause of the whole college thing) so I think that maybe, just maybe, I might be able to pull this off.

Until next time,

Matthew Palonius Black.

(Yes, my middle name is Palonius. Don’t question me on this.

The Little Engine Tag: (That’s right. I’m starting my own tag)

So I did an award post a couple months ago, and a thought occurred to me while filling it out: why can’t I make my own blog tag thingy? For one thing, I’d make sure all the questions are actually fun and thought-provoking, and can’t simply be answered with a boring one or two word answer, which is often the case. Also, I’d get free publicity! And I’d provide all those suffering from writer’s block some much-needed relief.

(I hear writer’s block is at its worst in the spring. Okay so I made that up, but it’s probably true.)

So I went ahead and invented my own blog tag, and here it is.

It’s called the Little Engine tag, because why not? The picture above is to be included in all future responses to this tag, unless the blogger in question simply doesn’t want to include it. In that case I am powerless to stop them.

Naturally, there are some rules to this tag, namely:

  1. Each answer you give to a question has to be more than two sentences long. Or at the very least, you have to make those two sentences meaningful.
  2. There will be two bonus questions at the end, that the blogger gets to change to whatever they want to ask when they nominate someone else. The first six questions, however, are set in stone.
  3. At the end you must nominate three to five other bloggers. Okay, so you don’t have to, but that would be nice if you could. (I want my blog name to spread on for all of eternity.)
  4. You know how sometimes in quiet classrooms, they’ll be that one guy clicking his pen fifty times a second, and it’s annoying as hell to everyone else? Yeah, don’t be that guy. This doesn’t apply to this tag so much, but more to life in general.

Now, onto the questions, which are:

1.) What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?

(This question was designed to let you rant about something people do that bugs you. For example:)

I for one, hate when people call me “buddy.” It just always feels condescending, even when it isn’t mean to be. I also hate people call me “dumbass,” for more obvious reasons.

2) What is your favorite song at the moment?

(I included this question because I want to be exposed to more music.)

One song that’s been consistently in my head for the past six months is Where is my Mind? by the Pixies. I heard it on The Leftovers and I’ve been loving it ever since. It is the perfect song to bob your head to.

3) Who is your favorite blogger?

(Besides me, of course.)

Right now I’d pick The Mostly Confused Teenager, despite the fact that she hasn’t posted for a while. It’s just that many of her posts like “Those Crazy American Commercials” and “Being French,” are hilarious and well-written and I would like to get more of them, please.

4) What’s the nicest thing you’ve seen someone do recently?

(You can also write about something you did, if you want.)

There was a little kid in a wheelchair at McDonald’s the other day who went up to the counter alone and asked for an ice cream cone. The problem was that he couldn’t hold the cone and still steer back to his table at the same time, so my manager went over and helped him out, despite the restaurant being very busy at the time. This surprised me because said manager is usually a very rude, standoffish woman, but apparently she has a soft spot for handicapped little kids. (Then again, who doesn’t?) So this was a nice heartwarming moment in an otherwise terrible day.

5) What’s something you regret doing?

(Note: don’t pick something that you regret not doing, because those are usually more painful than funny.)

I regret buying an HP printer, because those are the worst, because I have never not had a problem with it since the moment I first set it up.

I also regret giving my friend one of my lottery tickets.

6) If you could take only three items with you to a deserted island, what would they be, and why?

I for one would take my High School Musical 2 dvd, because Troy and Gabriella are my OTP. Then I guess I’d take some scissors, in case I need a haircut. Oh, and a pen cap to chew on. 

Pfft, this is so easy.

Now for the bonus questions: (Remember, you can change these to something else if you write your own post.

7) What past fad do you think should make a comeback?

Personally, I hope planking becomes a thing again. I find it hysterical. Remember this, anyone?

8) How would you describe the perfect date?

Mine would be: drive in theater, with the movie being Stephen King’s IT: Part One. Obviously this would never happen, but hey, I could dream.

And now for the nominations. You could nominate anywhere from three to five people, or not at all. But because I’m trying to start a new trend, I’m going to nominating quite a few, and I’ll be calling them out by name.

  • Engie, from Musings from Neville’s Navel. I know you’re busy with college and all, but screw college! This tag is much more important.
  • Liam, from This Page Intentionally Left Blank. I know you’re busy battling pirates and sea monsters right now, but as they say, the pen is mightier than the sword. Likewise, this tag is mightier than anything you could possibly be doing, so drop everything and get on it.
  • Susannah from Susannah Contra Mundum, because of your Lilo and Stitch GIFs.
  • Gwendolyn, from Apprentice, Never Master, because you didn’t actually think you’d be able to get out of this post unscathed, did you?
  • Shanti, from Virtually Read. I know you just did an award post, but technically this isn’t an award post. It’s an inconvenience more than anything else. 
  • Katie, from Spiral Bound. You are my mortal enemy, and hopefully you’ll expose a weakness by answering my questions. 
  • Confused Teen from The Mostly Confused Teenager, because the blogosphere needs you back. 
  • Kedslover from Alternative Sunny Days, because you are chiller than an ice cream cone.
  • Derek, from The Edwards Edition. Where you been, man? And don’t use life as an excuse, because I already called dibs on that one.
  • Literary and Lovely, from Literary and Lovely. I approve of your use of calculators.
  • Evi, at Adventures Through Pages. This is punishment for posting almost as inconsistently as me.
  • Aspen at AKA The Author. I read you were sick with laryngitis, so I decided to make life worse for you by pressuring you into this. 
  • Elm from Just Call me Elm or Something. If you were an actual elm tree, I probably wouldn’t chop you down unless absolutely necessary. 

Well, that’s ten people. Hopefully enough to spread this tag across the universe. I probably forgot someone really important to nominate, so if you’re one of those people I missed, I’m very sorry, and feel free to do this tag anyway, because you deserve it.

Weird Things I Do

What a unique person.

I just realized today that there are a couple weirdly specific things that go through my head on a daily basis, and I’ve always just assumed this was just a Matt Quirk.

(Definition of a Matt Quirk: Strange and unusual behavior exhibited by teen bloggers named Matt.) 

But today I heard a classmate mention that whenever she was on a long car ride as a little kid, she’d imagine an imaginary person running alongside the road with her, jumping over anything in the way and never falling behind. This was such a perfect description of what I used to do that it had me wondering: what if I’m not as strange as I thought I was? What if I’m actually normal?

So I decided to tell you some of things I do, just to see if anyone else does the same thing. If not, feel free to judge me as harshly as you want:

I often imagine myself explaining parts of my daily routine to someone my age from the nineteenth or early twentieth century. Like sometimes when I stop to get gas, or use my phone, or watch TV, I think of how I’d explain all this to someone who’d never seen it before. I currently find myself trying to explain the current presidential election to someone from the 1930s, and it is very difficult. 

When I’m bored in math class, I find myself playing this game with my calculator, in which I type the numbers in the rhythm to a song. Then I press the divide button and type the pattern in again without looking, to see if I get the same thing. For example, the recurring verse to Where is My Mind? by the Pixies comes out to the sequence: 757575757474745545 repeated two or three times.

Okay, so this one’s going to be difficult to explain, but I’ll do my best. Have you ever seen floors like this? (the color’s unnecessary)

Now, do you know how to play chess? Because there’s a piece in that game called the knight that could move in any direction as long as it’s in the shape of an L. Two blocks in any direction, one block to a perpendicular side, as shown below.

Well as a kid, and occasionally now when I do walk on such floors, I’d only step in a tile that a knight would be allowed to move to in a game of chess. I’d always be slightly disappointed if the tiles were suddenly cut off, or if a random passerby made me miss a step. Twas a fun game.

I rarely do this anymore though, mostly cause I kept bumping into things. Plus it just looked weird, so . . . *shrugs*

Sometimes I keep the air conditioning on at night when it’s not even hot out, simply because the sound helps me sleep. Sorry about that, Planet Earth.

I’ll occasionally pour water into my water bottle cap and drink from that, instead of the bottle itself. Y’know, just to be fancy.

I quickly swipe at the top of my nose whenever I’m in a stressful position. Especially during class presentations. Not sure if anyone else has noticed, but I’ve been trying very hard not to do this and so far I think I’ve succeeded. Although there’s a chance that I do it now without even thinking, so I should look out for that.

Oh, and I always take the tab thingy off of my cans of soda. Y’know, that thing you pull up to open it? Well, I pull it off completely and put it my pocket, every single time. Partly so I can tell which one is mine if I’m at some sort of social gathering, but mostly because of habit. 

Hmm . . .

That’s all I can think of right now. If you have any weird quirks, feel free to share. (I’ll only judge you if it’s particularly freaky.) And if you are guilty of any of the things I mentioned above, comment below so I know I’m not alone.

In Which I Make My Official Decision Re: Colleges

So as some of you may know, I am currently a high school senior who applied to several colleges last fall. And while it did take quite a while to get back from all of them, by the very, very end of March I finally got the letters back. I applied to SUNY Plattsburgh, Oswego, Stony Brook, and Binghamton, all of whom got back to me with varying responses.

Oswego accepted me within a couple weeks of applying, which was awfully nice of them because it took a whole load of stress off my mind. “No matter what the other colleges say,” I figured, “At least I am going to one.”

As for Plattsburgh, well … You know how I said I got a really bad grade in Calculus a few months ago? As it turns out, that was the deciding factor for them, because literally the day after they received my mid-year grades I got a letter wait-listing me. The kicker was that as part of the wait-list, I wouldn’t get a confirmation until up to May 15th, which was after I’d have to make my official decision.

And then there was Stony Brook, that college in Long Island where nobody’s taught how to parallel park. I got an email in January from the school saying that my application was complete, and all they’d need now was my mid-year transcript from my senior year. So once the semester was over I went to my guidance counselor and asked her to send it to Stony Brook. She told me she’d already sent the grades to all my colleges, so there was no need to worry.

“Oh okay,” I said, thanking her for being all proactive and whatnot. “Man, what a great Guidance Counselor I have.” And then I happily spent the seven weeks doing whatever it is I do usually, not even bothering to check the application status to make sure that the mid-year grades were actually sent. And then I got an email from Stony Brook saying that they never actually received them after all, and then I punched a door.

It was a bad idea, punching a door, because I got a splinter in my hand and holy shit guys, splinters hurt.

Anywho, turns out there was a mistake with the electronic transfer, so the guidance counselor ended up sending the grades via real mail, which would take at least a week. I’m not sure if they made it to the college in time for the decision process, just that I got a rejection email from them on March 31st.

All hope seemed lost.

(not really)

But just as I was about to punch a second door with my splintered-covered fist, the great University of Binghamton got back to me, saying they had accepted me, but only for the spring semester. Now I know what you’re thinking: “BLUGHSMEAGLESHMOOSHLETOP!”

Okay so maybe you weren’t thinking that, and instead you were thinking something along the lines of, “Hmm, how does that work?”

Well as it turns out, this is a very common thing that Binghamton does. I’d be put on the wait-list for the fall semester, and if I don’t get accepted for said fall semester, I could instead go to another college for that time, and all my course credits would simply slide into Binghamton as if I’d taken it there.

So basically my choices were: I could go to Oswego for the full four years, or I could go to community college for one semester and then spend the rest of college at Binghamton.

I was stuck, because I did love Oswego, but Binghamton is definitely better for me academically. But I didn’t want to stay at home for another five months, either, because both my siblings would be out of the house as well for that time, so all the attention would be turned on me, and I’m not a fan of that. Imagine all the lawn I’d have to mow and all the dishes I’d have to do now that I’m the only one around to do them.

But in the end I decided to go with . . . (prepare yourself for some subtle suspense)

. . . it starts with a letter . . .

. . . and it has more than one syllable . . .

. . . and it is a college of sorts . . .

. . . and Flo from Progressive is an alumni there . . .

That’s right, I picked Binghamton! I went on a tour a few days ago and talked to one of the counselors and the school won me over, because I love everything about it. Plus, there’s a restaurant called Tully’s nearby, which boasted the best chicken on earth, and having tried them I can testify that they are definitely in the top five.

And this is a good thing for this blog, because my plan was to go on an official hiatus once I went off to college. Now I know this wouldn’t be too big of change, considering all the hiatuses I’ve gone on in the past year or so, but with an official hiatus, I would be removing myself from the guilt I’d usually go through when I don’t blog for a while. My plan would be to go a month without blogging, see how that works out, and if I feel like I can handle blogging again with my presumably busy schedule, then I will go ahead and do just that.

But since I’m staying home for the fall, I think I’ll keep doing this until January, so you don’t have to worry about any official hiatuses any time soon. Just, y’know, the unofficial ones. 

(Sorry ’bout that.)

____

Also, one of my blogger pals, Susannah Ailene Martin, has published a short story (“The Lifeguard”) for just 99 cents. I was excited when I found out because she had asked me to read an earlier version of it a little while back. At first I was hesitant, because what if I didn’t like it and I had to break the news? But thankfully it wasn’t terrible (twas quite good actually), and I can only assume it’s gotten better since then.

The story costs less than a dollar sweet tea at McDonalds, which is a good deal considering that when you buy the short story, you don’t have to worry about it eighty percent filled with ice. So go ahead and check it out at this blog. 

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