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JK, I love old people. (Or, can I still do that April thingy thing?)

14 Apr

Well. Isn’t this awkward. I maybe sort of kinda may have possibly missed a day or two on this whole post-a-day challenge thing. But I do have really good excuses!

  1. I was travelling. I ditched school on Thursday (completely forgot that I had to do a presentation in English and make up a Psych test. Whoopsidasies.) because I was able to convince my dad that going until noon just didn’t make sense. I just slept until he took my sisters out of school and I finished packing for California. I had plenty of time. We aimed to leave at 2:30. I was shocked how early we actually left: we were only forty minutes late! Just ponder that. Out the door by 3:10 and the flight was scheduled to take off at five forty. Domestic, too. I’m tellin ya, we had so much time we actually had a sit-down dinner in the airport.
  2. I had family obligations. Staying with old people means that you really can’t say what you REALLY mean. For instance: Oh, schaat*, would you like something to drink? No, Oma**, I’d prefer not to have to think about whether the unidentified brown floaty in the cup you never wash is going to give me food poisoning I’m not really thirsty. I had to spend time with my family, and my grandparents just wouldn’t have understood if I told them I wanted to work on my blog. No, really. They have no idea what a blog is. It took me weeks to teach Oma how to open “the gmail” last year.
  3. I had computer issues. Oma hasn’t had internet access for two months. She couldn’t figure out why. Then again, she also hasn’t called the provider in about half a decade. By Friday night, my dad had called Verizon and had gotten them to fix the internet (and even got my grandparents a cheaper plan, to boot).

So, now that you see I had perfectly reasonable excuses, on to the letters!

J: I sat next to a Japanese chick on the plane here. I mentioned to her that I used to live in Tokyo. She thought it was cool. She lived in Tokyo too, but now she lives in New York. Just riveting, huh?

K: Kill someone. Yup, that’s what I wanted to do when my dad wasn’t picking up the phone. We’d been waiting all day for him to bring back his sister, who he was picking up from the airport, so we could eat and then go to the pool. By the time he got home (after stopping to eat, et cetera) the sun was weak and useless. My hungry, grumpy self couldn’t get over the fact that we’d travelled thousands of miles to California to sit inside playing Canasta. (First world problems, anyone?)

L: Lesbians. This vacation’s new phrase evolved from the playground admonition: “Keep your hands to yourselves; you’re not little elves.” My sisters, Tor and Pigeon, are the type of twins that rarely get along. Yesterday, they were squabbling as usual. I’m not exactly sure what they were doing, but apparently they were being too touchy-feely for my dad. “Keep your hands to yourselves,” he said. “You’re not little lesbians***.” It doesn’t quite rhyme, but it made us laugh.

*schaat is Dutch for… well, actually, I don’t even know. She uses it as a moniker for me, my siblings, my dad, and her dog. I can only assume it’s darling or sweetie or something like that.

**Oma is Dutch for grandmother.

***My dad, though not PC, is very accepting. His two best friends are a gay couple. And, to be perfectly honest, I think if a stranger walked in on the three of them having a conversation, he or she wouldn’t be able to pick out a (stereotypically) straight man among them.

ice cream

10 Apr

Oh, ice cream. Who doesn’t love all that creamy sugary frozen goodness? I think I may have developed a slight lactose intolerance in Ghana last summer, but I still eat ice cream whenever it’s available. I can’t help it.

Like today. Instead of going to school, I went on an English field trip to Yale Repertory Theater, where we saw Paul Giamatti play Hamlet. He was really great; he added plenty of comedy and emotion to the part. But here’s the thing: on stage, he looked like he was about fifty. It made the whole Ophelia-Hamlet romance really skeevy. He looked like he could have been that skinny bitty’s daddy. That and I couldn’t get over the big beer belly and glaring bald spot. I know. I must sound like the most shallow person in the world right now. For some reason, though, I always pictured Hamlet as a cute crazy dude, not a fat old guy. Anyways, after the play, we stopped to get McDonald’s. Naturally, I bought myself a vanilla ice cream cone. It was a heavenly distraction from the hours of traffic that lay ahead.

When I got home, I saw that the house was clean (a rarity) and the dinner table was set. I soon learned that we were having the Mormon missionaries over. It was a tiny bit awkward at first, since it was just my sisters and I and my Dad and the two young men. We talked about where each was from and more meaningless small talk. My dad had to leave, which was a problem because the Elders (that’s their title) aren’t allowed to be in a house with only girls in it. My dad offered them ice cream to eat on our porch, though, so we ended up hanging out with them for another hour or so. One of the missionaries wound up doing flips on our trampoline and then playing basketball with my sisters and me. And yes, the entire time they wore their white button-down with slacks and a tie.

The whole visit was fabulous, because there’s something about Mormon missionaries that is just flaming hot. Maybe it’s that they’re not allowed to date for two years. Maybe it’s that they’re just new people to meet who are around my age. Maybe God gives them hotness and charm so they can get more people to be open to hearing what they have to say. I dunno. All I know is that there is almost always at least one mishy that I’m crushing on at a given moment.

After the mishies left, we went to Church for mutual. I had a “date night” dinner activity with the 16+ people. It was kind of fun, and mostly awkward. We had cake afterwards for someone’s birthday. Then Jurn and Gee decided that they wanted to go get free ice cream. I love ice cream, and I love free ice cream even more. Even though it was getting late and pouring sheets, I drove them and my sisters to get the ice cream. We had 26 seconds of silence during which we thought about the victims of the Newtown tragedy. The ice cream had been donated to the people of Newtown to help cheer them up. It was just one of many demonstrations of love and altruism. But to be honest, I don’t think a single scoop of ice cream has ever gotten me closer to crying.

Ice cream is simple. Sugar, cream, cold. That’s basically it. It still amazes me that something so simple and so pure can bring people together—like me and the missionaries—and also help alleviate the pain and discomfort of a long journey or a tragic event. Ice cream is love.

happy

9 Apr

How to make a Chloe happy:

  1. Dress her in a skirt that’s not too short to make her feel slutty, not too long to make her the laughingstock of the school, and comfy enough to skip/prance/flit around in. 
  2. Tell her she looks good today or compliment said perfect skirt. Or both.
  3. Shower her in sunshine.
  4. Give her plenty of frees at school so she can pretend to get her work done or eat semi-decent cafeteria food.
  5. Let her train the new girl, who’s very nice, at work.
  6. Take her out to dinner with two of her neighbors, Goldfish and Asian Neighbor.
  7. Have Asian Neighbor give her a good smooch after dinner.

Wait, what?

Honestly. I thought we two were done with NCMOs (Non-committal makeouts). I mean, of course I was up for it since I had nothing better to do, and since I hadn’t kissed anyone in… a long time… but it was just kind of random. And short. It was only fifteen or twenty minutes.

He was probably trying to get in some pre-prom practice time.

golden

8 Apr

He placed it on the ebony bookshelf and walked away.

*********

“George. Darling. Don’t be like this! You knew it was coming sooner or later.”

“Oh, so that makes it alright? Really, Sally, can you honestly say you feel no guilt for this? Look at me–” he locked her chin between his palms and stared her down, then growled, “LOOK at me, right in the eyes, and tell me you feel no remorse. SAY IT! SAY IT NOW!”

Salt water streamed down his palms as Sally sniffled pathetically. Huge lumps of mucus threatened to leak out her nose. He released her puffy red face and wiped damp dark mascara-smudged hands against his pants. He turned away from her, closed his eyes and breathed in and out.

“George. You and I both know that what we have–had–was never going to last.” Her timorous voice grew confidence, and she even dared to give a blunt laugh. “I mean, Lord, it’t not like either of us thought we were soul-mates! I know what I did was wrong, but can’t you just forget about this? Forget all of this.” George heard her take two steps toward him, then felt her cool soft skin caress him. She stroked his arms and head and finally wrapped her arms around his waist. She spoke with her right cheek leaning against his back, like a pillow. “Remember that night at the river? How you sang to me songs about the stars? How the boat lights in the distance made the river look like it was made of gold? Do you remember that, hon?”

George nodded slowly.

“I do too.” She was quiet for a long time after that. They both just stood there, wondering what was to come. Then her voice came back, lilting and melodious, whispering. “I’ll always remember the… the golden days.” She paused to smile to herself, then continued, “No matter what happens from here on out, nobody can take away what we two had.”

George inhaled deeply, and gently unwrapped himself of her embrace. He reached in his pocket and withdrew a ring, simple and unadorned. Sally couldn’t help but gasp as the modest golden morsel glimmered. He looked at her for a moment without saying a word.

He placed it on the ebony bookshelf and walked away.

Forgotten

6 Apr

Last night around nine I went out with my friends Jurn and Gee after work (after school [after seminary]). I planned to sleep over and then wake up early so I could drive all the way back from Newtown in time for work at 7:30. Jurn’s soon-to-be-step-brother, Drew, was there. He decided to come out with us to the Asian fusion restaurant whose boss tried to turn me atheist. I was intrigued by Drew, who I’d just met. He was a complete goof-ball of the class clown variety. He’d randomly stand up on top of the car or do a silly dance just for the heck of it. He was funny, in a slightly obnoxious kind of way, and I decided that I liked him.

At dinner, I asked him what grade he was. He looked surprised and a bit indignant for a moment.

“Twelfth!” He said. “Same as you! We went to school together in fifth grade. We were in the same cluster*.”

For the life of me, I couldn’t remember him. As I thought back to my life before Japan, I realized that there was hardly anything I remembered. I had little flashes of almost-memories, and maybe three names. For some reason, it bothered me that this was all I had left in my head.

For the rest of the night, I kept exclaiming (at largely inappropriate points of the conversation) how odd it was that this almost stranger and I had gone to the same school and had been in the same cluster, to boot. After Drew went to bed, I mentioned it again to Jurn.

“Oh, yeah, Drew and I were actually just talking about that. He said you guys were friends… but I guess you don’t remember him.” Something heavy pressed my chest down into my gut. The conversation switched again, but the lump stayed.

My memory loss nagged at me later as I tried to fall asleep. Was it guilt, that I’d forgotten someone who was once close to me? Maybe. But I think what really troubled me was how I’d lost, maybe forever, such a huge chunk of the only life I’ve got. If I can’t remember anything about an entire year of my life after only seven years, what of my life will be left in ten or twenty? I suppose you could say that this boy I once knew reminded me of my own mortality. Who am I to be remembered, when even the King of Kings is forgotten?

`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

*A cluster is a sub-group made up of two classes that often interact.

dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb

4 Apr

Something that’s always fascinated me is the many levels of dumbness. Oh, you’re not familiar with the stratified dumbosity theory? Fear not. I shall explicate.

The stratified dumbosity theory states that layers upon layers of dumb exist. Researchers keep digging, but so far there are only four widely recognized dumbosity layers.

  • The “Huh?” layer

We’ve all been there. The scene is a library table, the characters: two high school girls. One sits with her forehead straining against her palm. Creased brows, pursed lips, a paper under her eyes*. The other sits back in her chair, rolling her eyes and sporadically releasing pent up breaths.  She explains how to do the problem AGAIN. As she speaks, her friend’s eyes glaze over.

“…huh?”

Some people just don’t get it.

  • The “Oh yeah!” layer

There are some people who do get it. Unfortunately, just because you get it… doesn’t mean you get it for good. My friend Gee, much as I love her, falls under this category. When you tell her something, she nods and smiles and repeats it back to you. You THINK she gets it, you THINK she knows what she’s doing. But then, ten minutes later, you check on her and ask her what the heck she thinks she’s doing.

“Oh yeahhhhh! That’s how you open the cash register.” Yikes.

  • The dumb-but-lucky layer

This is my dad, through and through. He’s a smart man, he really is. He’s technically got a doctorate, though he never uses that title. He’s got this thing about him, though, that’s difficult to describe. People (often complete strangers) get this overwhelming urge to just… help him out. And he needs it. He never pays for speeding tickets, because the cops feel bad for him or something. He can never find his pants keys. He has learned to rely on others for help. For example: one day, my family was walking home. We weren’t familiar with the area, but there was a road sign designating which way the exit was. My mom pointed, “Honey, it’s this way,”  as Dad bumbled over to a police officer standing in the middle of the road. Doing what he does best, my dad got help. The cop smiled and pointed IN THE DIRECTION OF THE SIGN. And away we went. I’m not sure I want to know just how many places he’s gotten into that he shouldn’t have with his help me-I need it power.

  • The lamp layer

Some people, regardless of how they score on the SATs or APs or IBs, can’t figure out how to put together a lamp from Ikea*. This is me. My brother has often explained to me, “Chloe, you are a dumb.”

When he says this, I smile and chuckle to myself, because I know that the stratified dumbosity theory allows everyone to be a dumb. What layer of dumb are you?

*My friend Netty used to sit for hours staring at her math worksheets. Sometimes I was tempted to ask her if she wanted a Rosetta Stone: Algebra Edition.

**Don’t judge, guys. It had a whopping three parts.

PS If you haven’t seen the South Park Episode on Mormons, watch it. It’s funny. I had this song running through my head this entire post.

the true cost of college

3 Apr

 Looky here, ladies and gentlemen. Behold as I simultaneously respond to not one, but two (yes, two!) challenges/prompts. Thanks to Rarasaur, who you most definitely should follow, and to the creators of the A to Z Challenge.

“True Cost is a term for the often-overlooked, comprehensive expense of something, including the time-related and emotional costs.”-Prompts for the Promptless

For just about as long as I can remember, my dad has been obsessed with getting his kids into the top colleges. I’m not exactly sure when he started brainwashing us, but by preschool he had instilled in us the desire to achieve. One day in first grade, we had an education intern from Yale University come and observe the class/assist our teacher. We had a lovely conversation, and when I learned where she went to school I asked her if I could go there someday. 

“You can… if you work REALLY hard,” she told a much younger and much cuter version of me. I went home that day determined to go to Yale. I’m pretty sure my dad was so proud he cried a little bit. 

When my brother was in middle school, my dad started putting the pressure on. If he came home with anything less than an A, there came the standard, “Uh-oh, looks like you’ll end up going to Naugatuck Valley Community College and becoming a cashier at J. C. Penny’s*.” The refrain was repeated all throughout his high school years as well as my own. When we moved to Asia, he added a more racy catch phrase: “Study haaaaard. Get good grades,” he said, always in his ‘Korean mother’ accent**.

When my brother started the college process, I did too. I went with him to the colleges he visited, though I was four grades below him. I had my first SAT review books in 6th grade, though Dad didn’t insist I use them until 8th. But what really changed was my dad’s relationship with my brother. They used to fight, loudly. It scared my little sisters. My brother would swear at my dad, and my dad would swear right back. Somehow the Mormon guidelines to never swear only made each curse more potently cutting. Each word leapt with venom, but I’d bet it was my sisters and I who got stung. I couldn’t understand why my dad and my brother couldn’t get along. 

When I grew into high school, I was careful not to swear. American public high schools are like cesspools of profanity and general indecency. Even if you try to stay as far away from the pit of seething blackness, the stench pollutes the air and weasels its way into your lungs anyway. Needless to say, the stress stress stress and the constant bombards of foul language (if only it stopped at innocent little swears!) eventually got to me. I wound up doing the very thing I promised myself I would never do: I followed in my brother’s footsteps and started to fight with my dad and curse whenever I got really fumingly angry.   

Meanwhile, my brother had a rough time at college. In high school, he’d gotten rejected from all thirteen schools he applied to but one. Ironically enough, that one was an Ivy League. But my dad’s years of plotting and “no you can’t do that, it won’t get you into college”ing may not have paid off in the end. Out of the blue, my brother came home halfway through his second semester of sophomore year. For his mental health, he had to take a year off. After much therapy and meds, he went back for a second attempt. He was doing really well. Until he wasn’t anymore. The pressure of such a high-intensity, uber-competitive school combined with the permanent “you’re not good enough” mentality that colleges ingrain in unsuspecting high schoolers just took it out of him. He came home again, and stayed with us again.

His peers are now seniors, and we’re all grateful to say that he is on attempt number three at sophomore year. He’s joined a fraternity and he’s doing great… we hope.

Despite all the hard work I put into high school and extracurriculars and general nerdiness, when it came time for me to apply I wasn’t sure that that was what I wanted. My dad had been humbled (a bit) and no longer pushed as hard for top ten. After all, he wants what’s best for us… and he now recognizes that Ivy isn’t necessarily synonymous with success. I wound up applying to only two schools, instead of the twelve plus I’d always planned on. I didn’t even apply to Yale or to my brother’s school, as much as I love him. The truth is, I’ll be going to my safety school for a few reasons:

  1. For all four years of undergrad (assuming, unlike my brother, I only go for four years), I will save about $210,000 on tuition alone
  2. I have a bunch of friends there
  3. I really REALLY don’t want to turn into a basket case.

Here’s the thing. I won’t be getting any fancy internships or opportunities based on the prestige of my school and nothing else. I’ll have to work my butt off to come out in the top of my class if I even want to think about getting into med school. I won’t just literally bump into Steve Martin one day and have an awesome conversation about Blue Grass with him because most of the time the really famous people only visit top-tier schools. I wont have quite as many opportunities as my brother will. 

But to me, it just doesn’t seem to be worth the cost.

 

*No offense to any J. C. Pennys worker/customer/whatever or to any NVCC alums. It’s his phrase, not mine.

**Again, I want to stress that I did NOT coin the phrase. Although… my closest Korean friend while I lived in Japan, Springy, once began to cry when she got a 97 on her test. She said it was because she knew her mom would hit her… when she came home from juku (the Japanese word for cram school)… at around nine pm, which was considered quite early. After all, her friends and relatives in Korea would stay at cram school until one in the morning, then come home and start their homework.