Wordy Wednesday: Towards Summer

It’s been a pretty decent week! Still taking things slow with my bum knee, but fun things are afoot. (See what I did there? Knee? Foot?) (I’ll see myself out.)

A friend who I’ve known for something like seven or eight years (but had never met in person before) visited Friday, which was amazing. And this morning Hannah and I bought our caps and gowns, which is just SO WEIRD HOW ARE WE GRADUATING IN SIX WEEKS WEREN’T WE JUST FRESHMEN? (Also the weather’s turned warm and thunderstorm-y, which is much appreciated because I am 5000% done with this winter.)

However, in the middle of those momentous occasions, something else exciting happened–and I am THRILLED to finally share with you that I’m going to be producing and acting (in a cameo role) in an original, one-act comedic play at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this August in Scotland!!!

I got the news that the festival had approved our production while sitting in the exact spot at Espresso Royale where, a little under a year ago, I first put together my proposal for the project to present to the university student theatre troupe with which we’re now working. Since then, my life’s been a hot mess of grant proposals, and searching for a playwright and director and actors and all that, and trying to convince the university that this isn’t a crazy idea. But we’re doing this! We’re actually doing this!

The brilliant Skyler Tarnas wrote the script this school year and we’ve been in rehearsals for a couple weeks now–and I’m so grateful to all the people who have jumped on board with my (seemingly) impossible dream. WE’RE GOING TO SCOTLAND!

You can learn more about the show through our Facebook page here.

And now, what you’re actually here for: this week’s Wordy Wednesday is a poem!

**********

the drip, drip, drip
of the first spring rain
soaking into the pages of
the crumbling, yellowed novel
with my back against the
crumbling, greying cement bench
and the sky alive above me with
dancing lightning and
swirling clouds
and the whipping flag,
all red and blue, the white turned
damp, yellow, by the storm
and it’s spring, it’s spring,
it’s spring
–the clock tower strikes noon
and the raindrops drip on,
marching out the seconds
towards summer

six weeks
six weeks
**********

Thanks for reading!

~Julia

 

Wordy Wednesday (“Peter Pan”)

You know, I always have so much I want to tell you, and then the instant I open a new blog post I forget and my brain just goes like, “Blahhh… words… wasn’t there something I was supposed to remember to say… blahhhhh blah blah blah blah… on well… blah… give me a caramel apple… whooo.”

Yeah, I’m blanking pretty hardcore at the moment.

But what I do remember: It’s Wednesday, so this is a Wordy Wednesday post. And this week’s Wordy Wednesday is a song I wrote around the time I graduated high school. I got really nostalgic and sappy my final semester, and this song basically describes what I felt like when I met some of the theatre kids from the class that would be freshmen the year after I graduated (aka: REALLY sappy). Looking at them was like looking at myself four years earlier, and it was the weirdest, most Twilight Zone-ish feeling I’ve ever experienced.

**********

[C, G, Em, D]

VERSE1

Hey there, little girl, with the braces on your smile

You’re so lucky, don’t you know, you get to be here for a while

I remember you calling my name, like I was a celebrity

Well, being a senior, graduating, isn’t all it cracked up to be

I’ve seen that look on your face before

Like you are waiting for someone to open the door

And you’re scared of being lost, and you’re scared of being alone

But you’re happy now, ’cause you’re finding a new home

CHORUS

Right now you’re at the beginning,

but the pages turn pretty fast

and someday you’ll have to let go

because today’ll be in the past

And I know it sucks, and I know it’s mean

And I know you feel stuck in between

But just remember as much of everything

as you can. Then fall in love with Peter Pan.

VERSE2

Hey there, little girl, just happy to fit in

Don’t forget who you want to be, for the sake of pleasing him

And just ’cause it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s always right

Don’t worry, not for now, it’s not goodbye at closing night

I’ve seen that look in your eyes before

I’ve said the words that you can’t ignore

And I’d give anything, to be in your shoes

You don’t know what you have, until it’s something you will lose

[Repeat CHORUS]

BRIDGE

Those four years are going go by faster than you think

One second you’re making friends, then it’s all gone in a blink

And you’ll cling to the memories, the bad ones and the good

Thinking of all the things you’d relive, wouldn’t change them if I could

[Repeat CHORUS]

**********

59

 

 

~Julia

Oh, PS. I just remembered one of the things I was supposed to say: THIS IS A BOOK has a new home–it’s very own website! And Mel and I are holding a contest to draw our logo (a squish)! Make sure to check it out and enter your drawing: http://thisisabookthebook.wordpress.com/

Wordy Wednesday (“Driver’s Education”)

My mom and I are currently in the midst of preparations for the writing conference we’re hosting this weekend, so things are pretty nuts around here–no promises on when I’ll get your weekend post to you, because the conference begins Friday evening and won’t end until Sunday afternoon. And then, after that, we’ve got a six hour drive back home. (Whoohoo!) I’m super excited for the conference, though, because I’ve been wanting to do this for a couple of years now, and it’s finally happening!!!!! I’ve got so much adrenaline going on right now that I’m not even aware of being tired, even though I’ve been on a really crappy sleep schedule for the past couple of weeks. (Speaking of which: the play went awesome!)

The top choice for this week’s Wordy Wednesday was for me to post a short story, so here’s one called “Driver’s Education.” I wrote this back when I took driver’s ed after my sophomore year of high school, so it’s an older piece, but I still enjoy it.

 

**********

The girl, Alisha Kein, walked into the first day of class five minutes late. She had her face buried in a book and her short white-blond hair held up in a messy ponytail.

Mr. Brook glanced up from the paper where he had been about to mark her absent, blinked in surprise, and made a check beside the girl’s name that said she was tardy instead. The rest of the students were already seated alphabetically in rows, looking nervous yet excited.

“Your timing is impeccable, Miss Kein,” he said. “You may take a seat behind Rory Kanton.” The redheaded boy he gestured to looked up with an impish grin when he heard his name, but on seeing Alisha the grin disappeared and he returned to conversing with the boy beside him. They wore matching blue jerseys with the school’s insignia on them.

She must not get along well with the sports kids, Mr. Brook thought to himself. As he watched Alisha settle into her seat and set her book in her lap, he realized she was wearing a long pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, even though it was 97 degrees outside and the middle of June. She dragged a clean notebook and mechanical pencil from her bag and set them on the desk, ready to begin taking notes.

“Very well,” he said when she seemed to be ready to begin. “As you all know, my name is Mr. Brook and I will be your segment one driver’s education instructor.”

He began listing off the different facets of driving the class would cover, what would go into passing the test at the end of the three week course, and the many laws and rules they would need to follow if they were to make it past driving with a permit to driving with a license when they reached sixteen years of age. He noticed Alisha blush at the mention of how old they all were, and he asked, “Are any of you already sixteen? I don’t mean to embarrass you, I just need to know since it will alter the time between receiving your permit and applying for your license. I’m sorry to say it, but I will have to go harder on you than the rest of the class.” He winked at them, trying to break the ice. “So. Any sixteen year olds, or perhaps older?”

Alisha hesitantly raised her hand.

“And your age, Miss Kein?”

“Seventeen,” she replied softly. He half expected the class to snicker, as had happened previous times when he came to teach at this high school (it was a particularly cruel one when it came to the divisions between certain cliques and posses), but the room was deathly silent and everyone but Mr. Brook looked away at the mention of Alisha’s age. It was odd for someone to wait so long to take the first segment of driver’s education. He wondered if she had a learning disability and that was the reason for the rest of his students’ unease around her.

However, in the following days as they began reading the required texts and having discussions in class, she proved to be smart… Perhaps even brilliant, he found himself thinking. She was most definitely the most intelligent of the class, but that did not seem to be the reason for her isolation, either.

 

As the days wore on, he noticed more differences between the girl and the others. She was paler, quieter, and spoke rarely outside of answering questions, which she did remarkably well. She always wore jeans and a sweatshirt, no matter how warm it was outside. Every day, she came in reading a book, quietly took her seat (never was she late again), and then quickly placed the book in her lap, where it stayed until the end of class when she would pull it out and begin reading again as she left.

When students began signing up for driving times, Alisha held back and avoided it until she had no choice. “Don’t worry, Alisha,” Mr. Brook stopped her as she exited the room at the end of the first week. “A lot of kids are nervous about their first time driving… we won’t leave the parking lot. You will be perfectly safe.”

She gave him a petrified stare and he placed his hand on her shoulder in a fatherly manner. She flinched away from the touch.

“There is nothing to be afraid of, Alisha. Think of all the boys and girls who have driven already in this class. You are the last one. Everyone else is fine, and you will be also.”

She nodded stiffly and refused to meet his gaze as she hurried away.

 

When it actually was Alisha’s turn behind the wheel, she froze the moment she put the key in the ignition. “Keep going,” Mr. Brook told her, not looking up from the sheet of paper he was making notes on.

“Uh huh,” she said while staring at the key like it was a live monster.

Mr. Brook found her to be shaky and unconfident at the start of her one hour driving slot, but a natural at the close. So when she signed up for her second hour, which was to take place on the streets of Birchridge, he had no qualms about her abilities as a safe and responsible driver.

“The key is not going to bite you,” he had to remind her again as she held it up in front of her, looking fearful.

“I know, it’s just…” Alisha trailed off.

“You’ll be fine. You’re one of the best drivers in the entire class,” Mr. Brook tried to reassure her, but this just seemed to make her terror greater as she began to shake and she closed her eyes. When she opened them, however, she looked much surer of herself. With a determined look on her petite face, she stuck the key in the ignition and turned it.

They encountered no more problems until she turned onto Main Street and froze up again. Like a statue, her knuckles turned white on the wheel and her foot forgot where the gas pedal was. A car honk as it neared them and, thinking, Whoa! What’s this all about?! to himself, Mr. Brook grabbed the steering wheel and took them off, onto the shoulder of the road to let it pass.

“Are you alright?” he asked Alisha. One glance over at her told him that she was not. She was shaking again and a soft tear leaked from one eye.

“Sorry,” she whispered.

“You needn’t worry so much, Miss Kein,” he told her, straightening his glasses. “Just relax and this will be as easy as… well, do you play any instruments?”

“The piano,” she said quietly, looking slightly more reassured already, as if even just the mention of something she was familiar with could make the nerves go away.

“Do you remember when you started playing the piano? It was pretty difficult and scary, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, I guess,” she said. For the first time ever, she met his eye of her own accord, and what he saw there was sadness. It reminded him of eating carrot cake for the first time after his mother died when he was in his twenties. It was sorrowful, but also warm and familiar, almost like she was touching him in some little way as he tasted her favorite dessert again. It was a bittersweet sadness.  “My sister taught me,” she said. Her voice had gone even softer than before. “Back before she got into –” she stopped.

He tried to smooth over the awkward pause that followed by saying, “Driving is just like learning to play an instrument. It will be hard and frightening at first, but then you’ll get used to it and it will be easy… just as easy as playing the piano.”

“My parents had a similar talk with me on the first day of class,” she admitted quietly. “That’s why I was late.” Her chocolate brown eyes closed for an instant, but her expression, eventually, became peaceful. “I’m ready to try again,” she said.

“Very well. Wait for a break in traffic and then pull back onto Main Street,” instructed Mr. Brook. “Now go!”

Alisha gently pulled the driver’s education car onto the road and took them through downtown. Outside of Mr. Brook’s occasional corrections or directions, they remained silent, watching the city flash by.

 

The second week of class brought even more heat, and on Thursday the air conditioning for the school broke down. Mr. Brook found himself happy he had decided to wear a thin t-shirt that day, as opposed to his usual polo. The class took turns leaving to get a sip of water from the drinking fountain and when it was Alisha’s turn to go, Mr. Brook was not sure what he was most surprised about – the fact that she was still clothed from head to toe in jeans and a sweatshirt, or the fact that he was not surprised that she was.

“Miss Kein,” he stopped her in the doorway. “It is over 100 degrees in here. I’m overheating just seeing you dressed that way.” He looked worriedly at the beads of sweat covering her beat red skin. “If you don’t take off at least one of those layers, I think I will need to call your parents about the matter.”

Alisha sulked while she pulled her hoody over her head, but he could tell she was instantly cooler the moment the bulky sweatshirt was off. She had on a light brown tank top underneath that fit her body well. She really is a pretty girl, he thought to himself. I wonder why none of the boys like her?

But then he caught sight of the thick scars running up and down her arms in a horizontal pattern, stretching all the way from her wrists to her shoulders, and then across her breastbone and downward so that they disappeared below the line of her blouse, and his thoughts abruptly cut off. He wondered if she had similar scars on her legs, also, and what painful experience could have made them.

 

The third week of class, he announced that they would spend the last few days before the exam discussing alcohol and its effects on drivers. Out the corner of his eye, Mr. Brook noticed Alisha stiffen and glance down at her lap, where her book sat. She was not the only one to look awkward at that moment, though. The entire class had quieted so much that if a pin were dropped in a different part of the building, they all surely would have heard it.

 

When the course finally was finished, Mr. Brook was not surprised to find that Alisha earned a perfect score on her test. She was the first student in several years to accomplish such a feat, and he decided, while watching the students trickle out of the room, that he should go outside and meet her parents so that he could brag about the success with them.

He followed his class down the hall and sighed when he saw Alisha walking by herself, her head tucked between the covers of her book as she read. It was then that he realized that all of the books she had been carrying with her the past few weeks had actually been just one book, the same book today as the one on the first day… He had never taken the time to look at the cover, but now, thinking back on it, it had been the same color and size the entire time. As he watched, Alisha lifted the book to turn the page so that the title flashed in his direction. Grief and How to Get Over It it read. This stopped him dead in his tracks. He had been expecting one of the Nicholas Sparks volumes, or perhaps a fantasy novel.

He stopped at the door as she went out to the parking lot where an SUV awaited her. Her parents sat chatting in the front. When Alisha opened the door, they both turned around in their seats and began talking with her, more than likely asking her how the exam had gone.

As their vehicle pulled away from the curb, Mr. Brook looked at their lone bumper sticker. Above the Influence.

**********

Thanks for reading!!

Vote for next week’s Wordy Wednesday:

 

 

~Julia

The Myth that is My “Summer”

When I was little, summer used to be this really big, exciting thing. I’d long for it for months; I’d dream about what I’d do with all that time off from school once I had it — play make believe games, and go for adventures in the woods behind my house, and go on family vacations, and go to camp, and just… go everywhere, do everything. When I was little, I wanted to do everything with my summers, because summer meant freedom, back then.

When you’re little, the adults make all of the plans. They decide where you’re going and when and what you’ll do when you get there, but there were always forgotten moments during the long, hot summers that the adults were too busy to dictate what you were doing, and you got to make the plans, for once.

It was magical, and it was free, and it was what made sitting in a classroom for the entire school year worth suffering through.

Now, summer is for working.

Sure, I don’t have a paying job at the moment, but I don’t have time for one — I spend my mornings and afternoons focusing on my writing, my evenings at play rehearsals, and my weekends doing more of the same. I’m hosting a writing conference in a couple of weeks for a group of teenagers, and I’m busy preparing for that. Whenever I’m not busy writing or acting or conference prepping for five seconds, I’m either sleeping or doing the dishes (while eating something super unhealthy, like my current craving: nachos *mmmm*).

Meanwhile, I’m behind on things. Yesterday I realized I forgot to do something for the conference that was supposed to be done a couple of weeks ago, I’m just now beginning to get my stuff together for college, and my room is still not clean, despite being two months into summer–all of which is much to my parents’ chagrin.

What happened to summer? What happened to freedom, relaxing, making plans and then just going and doing them? My schedule is completely booked up for the next two weeks, and it sucks, because my friends want to go to an amusement park for a day, and I can’t go with them. I can’t do anything with my nights this week, because I have theatre every day (although, on the upside, the company’s all going to see The Dark Knight Rises together at midnight on Thursday, so I at least still get to do that).

I am trapped, and I am hectic, and I’m still not doing everything that I’m supposed to be doing. I’m falling behind, I’m falling through on commitments, and isn’t that what school is for, not summer? Isn’t summer supposed to be for recharging your batteries, not for draining them even further?

I had one little taste of summer yesterday, when I was out shopping with my mom for supplies for the conference. We were coming back from a t-shirt store, driving home, when she asked me if I’d like to go to Jo-Ann Fabrics, since we were out and about anyway. I almost said no, because there was stuff I needed to get done at home, but then there was that thought–it’s summer–and I said, “Sure, let’s go.”

Isn’t that sad? That the wildest, craziest thing I’ve done in weeks is go to Jo-Ann Fabrics?

And the worst part of it all is that I’m the one who caged myself in. I’m the one who signed up for all these things I’m busy doing.

Whereas the adults used to dictate my life, scheduling me into a hole all summer, now I’m the one doing it! (Hurray for me, right?)

There are so many things that I care about, and so many things that I’m scared of falling behind on: I desperately want to be an author. Desperately. And I’m addicted to acting, and I love helping other people, and there are just so many things that I want to put my all into, but there’s just not enough time or energy for all of it, so I’m falling behind.

And it’s summer. IT IS SUMMER. And I know it’s supposed to be part of growing up, no longer having the freedom to explore and have adventures and all that, but this is not acceptable. I’m eighteen years old, and I work more hours a week than my parents do, and I’m not even getting paid anything for it.

I love to write and I love to act, so I really don’t want to complain about those things. But I need a break. I need a week of this-is-Julia’s-relaxing-time. But I feel like I can’t do that, because I have so many commitments and there are so many things that need to get done.

What happened to summer, and why in the world is it even busier than the school year was?

In other news, the winning option from the Wordy Wednesday poll was to post a new chapter of Cadence, so be looking out for that this Wednesday!

~Julia

This is an Apology…

Three things I’ve learned this weekend:

1.) I GOT ACCEPTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN!!!!!!!! AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀

2.) MY HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE COMPANY’S GOING ON TO THE STATE FINALS FOR THE THEATRE COMPETITION WE’RE IN!!!!!! DOUBLE AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

3.) Three words, all smushed into one blob without spaces: ThePianoGuys. (Oh my gosh. Most amazing people ever. They’ve made me fall in love with classical music.)

And now for the apology:

I don’t have time to do Writer’s Digest Conference notes this weekend. I’M SO SORRY! I promise I’ll be back on them again this Wednesday, but things have been really hectic all weekend (as you can probably tell from my list), and it’s my dad’s birthday today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!), and just all kinds of stuff. I’m pushing it time-wise even posting this much, so yeah — I’m really sorry, but I promise we’ll be back to notes again as soon as possible, okay?

Oh, and one last thing:

My friend-slash-awesome-writer-person Tatiana recently posted a hilarious guide to living with writers on her blog. Check it out!

“Writers, I have found, are by nature, very finicky.  Little things drive them (me…) insane.  This, in turn, drives others insane.  Especially if you are the writer’s mother, father, sister, brother, best friend, or anyone else who must deal with them on a daily basis.  It sucks, it’s confusing, and when they go completely berserk on you I’m sure you consider having them committed.

Maybe this (only slightly) exaggerated list will give you a little insight into what you did wrong and just why  your lovely little writer went completely berserk on you.”

Talk to you all on Wednesday!

~Julia

Wordy Wednesday (“On Failing”)

Several of my friends lately have had major disappointments, namely involving not getting roles in their school plays… and I know this is little consolation, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the matter.

The following poem is titled “5:15 PM,” and although I wrote it back in September of 2010, it’s still the first thing I think of when I don’t get something I want, be it a part in a play, or a college acceptance, or a request from a lit agent. It’s about that moment when you get the email, and you’re scared to open it… and then it’s loading… and then you’re reading the first line, and it sounds so optimistic, but you know they’re about to drop the bombshell.

**********

Still holding on
To that last moment of hope
And begging
To go back to yesterday,
Any day,
Because today is just
Not real,
Not right
Please.

************

It’s a horrible moment, realizing all of your efforts — all of your practicing, and studying, and editing — have been for naught. Maybe you cry, maybe you’re numb, but in the end you’ve got a decision to make: You choose your own attitude. Either you can give up and say they’re right, or you can keep pushing through ’til you’ve proven them wrong.

I know it’s hard. I know it’s going to hurt. But it’s either that or give up, and you’ve never truly failed until you do give up. As long as you keep moving forward, as long as you keep your sights on the horizon, you haven’t failed. Whatever bad thing that’s happened is just a minor setback, and in the end it’ll be just another memory along your path to succeeding.

You can’t learn how to fly until you learned how to fall.

I recently began putting together an album of “quotes” — short snippets that pop into my head that I think might actually be worthwhile at some point. Below are some of my ones on failing:

Remember:

(Photo from: http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/Texas/State_Railroad.html)

We can all do great things if we just set our minds to it and believe in ourselves. Life’s going to throw us some curve balls, sometimes our dreams are going to change or seem impossible, and I can guarantee that things aren’t always going to go the way we want them to (in fact, they probably aren’t going to about 99% of the time). But you can either give up and drown, or you can learn to ride the waves.

It’s all up to you. Everything. If you don’t accept defeat, you’ll have no choice but to win, and eventually you’ll be looking back at this time and thinking of how far you’ve come.

So go out and get ’em.

T-minus 2 days to the Writer’s Digest Conference 2012!!!!!!!

~Julia