This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Lacking Any Wisdom She Once Had"

Yes, those were the words of my father at the pharmacy while we were picking up my pain medication after getting my four wisdom teeth out. This also was after he asked if I was thirsty...because I looked a little cotton mouthed. Thanks dad, thanks. He did, however, take out my first set of bloody gauze and for that I do thank him.

I've had horrible luck when it comes to dental matters. Many of my baby teeth were pulled because of over crowding. For eight years, I had braces on and off to correct an overbite and crossbite. The majority of my molars came in with holes, so I am no stranger to Novocaine or that god-forsaken drill. This procedure though was one of which I was frightened.

I went in this morning and one of the nurses helping told me she was new and that the dentist would be talking a lot through the extraction. I thought no big deal...right? Nope, I got to hear, in detail I may add, exactly what he was cutting, pulling, drilling, and breaking. Pleasant. Overall though it wasn't too bad and I'm still alive here.

Sitting on my parents bed with an ice pack on my cheek (propped up by my teddy bear so I can use both hands to type) and my computer before me. I was going to spend the day watching movies, but for some reason the fucking On Demand isn't working up here and I'm too lazy to relocate myself. What am I to do then? WRITE, GOD DAMN IT!

The time has finally come when I am forced to sit with nothing to do (ignoring the videos piling up on my queue on my Hulu account) except work on Autumn's story. I think I mentioned that I wrote about 400 words like a week ago which can sound impressive...except it's about a half page single spaced. More pathetic than anything, if you ask me.

The story is at a weird place right now in that I know where it needs to end up, but I cannot run to the finish line like a crazy fucker; this needs a slower pace. Trying to describe (without explicitly saying anything, of course) an emotional breakdown is difficult. How far can she fall at each step of the way? How much other stuff can I fill in between chapters? How do I display this pivotal point of the piece without ignoring my secondary characters and letting them become flatter than three day old soda?

I worry too much internal dialogue will make it seem forced, where as too much conversation will not only weaken what I've already created, but undermine the battle within her character that should be exposed. I do have some ideas to fill in between where I am now and Autumn's confrontation with Stacy:
~Dealing with her mother and the media.
~Going back to school.
~Hearing about the court case.
~Clinging to/pulling away from Jake.
~Avoiding her friends.
~More frequent and detailed flashbacks.
One of my better ideas is a shower scene in which Autumn freaks out that she is "unclean" and starts scrubbing her skin harder and harder, until she slips in the shower and sits curled up in her towel, sobbing. That display of utter despair will be fun and challenging to write, but right now is the awkward phase. The main problem with this though is it can't be awkward or readers will end up skipping through it. I cannot make it tedious since it's so critical to the plot.

Maybe I'll wait till tomorrow when I'm a bit less tired. The doctors say the pain is the worst the second day, so I'll be wanting to keep myself busy. Here's to hoping losing these wisdom teeth can help me fill in the blanks.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Good 'Ole High School Years

Hating my school district in my little village, I decided to leave the area and go instead to DSHA high school. Full name alert: Divine Savior Holy Angels College Preparatory School for Women. Yup, that's right, an all-girls Catholic school, one of the few in Wisconsin actually.

To most people I mention this, they find it either:
~Hilarious because they know I'm not Catholic and am not a fan of many of the practices of the branch of Christianity.
~Shocking because they know I'm fairly liberal and it most likely would be a conservative environment.
~Sad because I must be completely inept when it comes to interacting with the male species.
~A turn-on (for guys) at the idea of a school full of women and extra turn-on when I mention that I still have my uniform somewhere.

To the first: yes, I am not Catholic, I am Methodist, but the "Catholic atmosphere" wasn't overbearing in the slightest so I didn't feel uncomfortable at all.

To the second: again yes, I am a "bleeding heart liberal" in the words of many of my former classmates, but having conservative friends helped open my eyes to other points of view and strengthen my own.

To the third: no, it is not a school full of girls having naked pillow fights (sorry guys) and we are not inept with interacting with guys (I am for my own social awkwardness, something which DSHA had little with which to do).

To the last: I can promise, boys, that having my uniform isn't that sexy. It was (at least when I was there) a wool gray plaid skirt with a burgundy, white, or navy polo shirt. Comfy? Convenient? Yes and yes, but not that mouth-watering, I assure you.

When I was in Ireland, it was interesting because I was part of the majority for going to an all girls school as that seemed to be a more common thing than back in the States. But when I am home, people often feel sorry for me or are confused as to why I would torture myself in such a way.

However I can honestly say that those four years at DSHA were four of the best and after having such a negative middle school experience, a true blessing. DSHA gave me hope that girls can be friends and are not all vindictive or out to get one another. They are kind, caring, hilarious, loyal, and accepting. I felt accepted for of the few times in my life (another time would be in Cork).

The first day of high school, I was terrified because I knew no one. I sat down at a lunch table with several strangers and six years later, the eight of us are all still best friends. It sounds like a cheesy after-school special, I know, but it's the truth and one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

My girls, as I frequently call them, have seen me through so much and picked me up more times than I can count. They never failed to point out my flaws when I needed it or bring me back down to reality. They attended many a forced-play in support of me and let me bash about teachers and assignments when I needed it. We have more inside jokes than are probably culturally appropriate and have annoyed many a mall attendant and teachers in the Quad at DSHA during loud lunch periods.

Beyond my fantastic friends here in WI though, the whole student body was there for me, including my theater friends. My sophomore year was the year I was diagnosed with PTSD and started experiencing my first flashbacks which led to some self-destructive behaviors. The theater community at DSHA helped pick me up, get me into therapy again, and deal with all the stress in my life.

The school was there for me and my sister when our mom died my junior year and Stephie's freshman, having a school-wide prayer service for her and busing kids out to Whitefish Bay during the school day for the funeral. So many students and teachers showed up at the wake that it lasted for hours, the line going outside and wrapping around the building. Without this amazing support group, I don't know if Stephie and I would have done so well.

DSHA, as much as we Dashers like to make fun of it when we're there, does instill the four qualities of the DSHA graduate: Leader, Believer, Communicator, and Critical Thinker. Every graduate I have known or met does exemplify these qualities and so many more. The day I graduated was a complete mix of happiness and sadness and when I saw my sister graduate just a month ago, two years after me, my tears were of joy and pride. I had watched those girls grow up from itty bitty freshman to confident and capable graduating seniors.

I get all mushy when I talk about DSHA because it was such an influential part of my life, a part that is so life-changing for many young teens. Your high school years can be the best or worst years of your schooling and they were (next to college, of course) the best for me. DSHA--along with going to Iowa, studying abroad this last semester, and joining my sorority--was one of the best decisions I have made.

Anyways, this post is meant almost as a love letter to the school that helped me grow up emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. So thank you, Divine Savior Holy Angels, for giving me faith in the female population once again and giving me the skills to go on to college and the "real world".

Every time I drive by that building and see the school sign, it puts a smile on my face. It reminds me of those happy years full of taco salad, sweatpants sneaked under uniform skirts, amusing announcements and school assemblies, almost too many Starbucks trips, half days spent at Mayfair Mall, and inspiring class retreats. DSHA, I will never forget you for the amazing memories and unbelievable friends you have brought me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Attack of the Scatter Brain!

So my brain has been everywhere the past couple days and mostly in the past twenty four hours. Why, you may ask? I have no fucking idea but it's driving me insane. Maybe it's because I don't have something specific that I'm looking forward to in the near future (unless you count getting out my wisdom teeth next Friday...which I definitely do not). I wrote a little on Monday but since then? Nada. Ziltch.


I've been back almost a month so far and have little to show for myself which is greatly upsetting. I'm still sticking with the idea of finishing by the end of the summer, but how is becoming a scary and pressing question because I cannot seem to concentrate. Yup, taking my focus meds and everything, but nothing really makes me sit down and work.

I'm brilliant at talking myself out of almost anything and frequently I'll go to sleep, cursing myself for being a lazy fucker, and wake up thinking, "I have all day!" By 5 pm I think, "I have all night!" and so on. This, my friends, is a horrible cycle with which to get stuck, but alas I am.

Still missing Ireland, Cork, and my friends there like crazy and found some quotes while perusing on the inter-web. Some are cliche, yes, but all very true to me (if no author for the quote is stated, then it is anonymous).

~"May the road rise to meet you; may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand." -Irish blessing

~"Unless one says goodbye to what one loves and unless one travels to completely new territories, one can expect merely a long wearing away of oneself and an eventual extinction." -Jean Dubuffet

~"You know you are in love when the hardest thing to do is say goodbye."

~"As I stared into your eyes, you asked me why I was about to cry. It's because I know you were going to say goodbye."

~"It's hard to lose someone you love, to finally say goodbye. You try to be strong, but the pain keeps holding on, and all you can do is cry. Deep within your heart you know it's time to move on, when the fairytale you once knew is gone."

~"We laughed until we had to cry; we loved right down to our last goodbye; we were the best." -St. Elmo's Fire

~"You and I will meet again when you're least expecting it. One day in some far off place, I will recognize your face. I won't say goodbye, my friend, for you and I will meet again." -Tom Petty

~(and, the most true and cliche of all:)
"Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened." -Dr. Seuss

So I think those quotes are a fairly accurate summary of my feelings at the moment...all over the place, really. I am starting to feel, however, that the Irish weather followed me back home. It's been in the sixties, rainy, and foggy for weeks now. I know for a fact that it pisses most people off and yeah it can put a damper on my mood, but at the same time it brings a slight smile to my face because it makes me feel "at home."

I have a strange feeling that as soon as the weather is beautiful, that is when I'll feel compelled to write frantically. That, or when I'm high on pain killers from getting the wisdom teeth out. Looking forward to re-reading that writing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Hometown

I feel weird calling it my "home" since, as I've previously said, the concept of home is one which I am still trying to work out. Nevertheless, this place in which I reside currently and have so for many years is one that changed my life, for better or for worse.

Whitefish Bay is an affluent suburb of Milwaukee in Milwaukee County (i.e. when the tornado sirens go off for Milwaukee I go in the basement too, hence why I insist I'm from Milwaukee frequently) and if you drive through the town, you'd say to yourself, "This would be a great place to retire or raise my young children." We have a great school district, amazing for public schooling in our struggling county, low crime rates, sidewalks everywhere, and trees every couple feet.

To kids growing up here, they don't know how lucky they are or that anyone else lives differently. The only shock they may get is driving through the inner city with their parents and may even be scared by the not perfectly manicured lawns or the higher police presence. I never knew or considered myself to be rich growing up, but eventually did figure out that my family was quite blessed.

Going to a private school for high school, strangely enough, was an eye opener to me that not everyone lived in a town like I did. I would visit friends in various parts of Milwaukee and the surrounding areas and in almost every place I went, I was struck by how welcoming the atmosphere was. I felt that same way living in Iowa City and in Cork, Ireland when I lived on my own for the first time.

Living on your own is a sobering experience in my opinion, even if your parents are helping out with the rent; being a continent away is even more terrifying. You realize how much fucking food is in your house (even if you do live in a family of nine), how clean and nice your clothes smell after coming out of a functional washer/dryer, how green your front lawn is, how many not chipped dishes you can count, how comfy your un-shitty mattress is, etc.

Beyond all this though, you learn how little you can live with and how much you can live without. It also reaffirmed for me that I do not like the town I live in. Don't get me wrong, it was a great place to grow up and all that jazz, but I have this resentment toward Whitefish Bay that I cannot put my finger on. A lot of this town does remind me of *Alexia (driving by her old house everyday probably doesn't help that much either...), from where we used to play to places I used to go to cry and be by myself.

I remember how magical I used to think this place was, and now it feels cold and fake. The beauty feels manufactured and the happiness a facade. I don't know what went wrong or what happened to me, but this place makes me feel trapped. It's as though I'm falling back into my old way of life and back into a time when I couldn't feel the warmth of the sun on my skin shining off all the green leaves.

It's melodramatic, I'm sure, but the streets and buildings still make my skin crawl. The local mall puts a smile on my face as do the local shops and my street, but everything else? It makes me ill to see my past right in front of my eyes. It's this reminder that you've overcome all that this place gave you hell for, but you're still somehow stuck in its cycle. I could never live here (beyond the fact that I couldn't afford a house here in my wildest dreams), this I know for sure. I need a city, bursting at the seams with life and filled with tragedy and triumph, the kind of place where people flock to in the hopes of their dreams coming true.

Yeah, I'm talking about NYC...but perhaps it'll only be a dream. However, if I could live there someday, I know for a fact that I'd be happy there even if I did (and probably will) fail. I need a city with a life of its own, a living, breathing organism with many moving parts going on day after day. I don't feel that passion for this suburb and I don't think I ever did and that's okay; it leaves my options open to dream of a better place where my heart will finally be free.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Molly and Driving

Yes, my tale of myself and being behind an automobile starts rather pathetically to the untrained eye. I started driver's ed at 15 1/2 like everyone else my age and did my behind-the-wheel. My sweet sixteen came and went and because of an emotional breakdown my sophomore year, I didn't take my road test right away.

Come my junior year though, I started driving again (almost everyday down that shitty bumpy Hampton road to DSHA) with my mother almost always in the passenger's seat, subconsciously slamming her foot down on an invisible break pedal. She once, after lots of practice that is, told me I was a good driver and that was one of the best compliments she could give me. My mom was a fantastic driver, getting my family through many a snow/ice storm and through a tornado one summer night.

My mom wasn't one to give fake compliments, except for the usual "You're the most beautiful girl in the world," "You can do what ever you set your mind to," and the dreaded, "They're just jealous of you." No, mamma, I'm not in the list of People's Most Beautiful; I cannot be a famous soccer player even if I tried, I promise you; and those girls were not jealous of awkward middle school me, they were just bitches. She told me I looked stupid when I ran, but praised my acting and writing skills. So saying I was a good driver, coming from her, meant the world to me.

My first road test was April 10, 2008 and I failed because of uncontrolled intersections (living in a suburb with over-controlling parents a plenty, I hardly encounter them). My mother comforted me, helped me schedule another test for the next week, and drove me home. She let me sit in the car and cry for a good twenty minutes and sulk; I'm so grateful that she always got that I hate being touched when I'm upset.

The next morning when I woke up, my mom was dead.

The next two road tests I had were practically back-to-back and every time I got into the car with one of those instructors, I freaked. I took another a few months later to no avail. Fast forward two years and I still had no license. My stepmom finally convinced me to try again and I did last summer...and barely failed. I swore to myself I would never try again and driving simply wasn't for me. After much prodding, I tried again and finally passed my road test at nineteen.

The fact that I failed my road test five times does not mean I'm a bad driver even if I joke about it sometimes; I failed because it reminded me of my mother's death and then after so many fails, I lost confidence in myself during the test. Now though, it's my first summer with my driver's license (which yes, I guess does sound a bit sad since I'm twenty years old). Almost every day this summer, I've driven somewhere, whether it's dropping the youngins off, running an errand, or going to a friend's house. I love every second of it.

I'll be the first to tell you that I suck with directions and am the very definition of geographically challenged. If I've gone somewhere by myself once I can get back there but otherwise I'll need specific directions. Also, it doesn't help if you yell, "But we've been there a million times before!" Yeah, I fucking get it, but I don't stare out the goddamn window paying attention to every passing sign in anticipation for future ventures to that neck of the woods when in the car. If I do get lost, I panic and have to resist crying (I also cry easily...that I will admit is rather ridiculous), but I will eventually get myself where I need to go. I'm never afraid to ask for directions, mainly because I'd be fucked if I didn't.

Iowa City is great because if you wander around it enough, you know where you're going. Whitefish Bay and Milwaukee in general? As long as I remember WFB is north of downtown and that the lake is east, I'm good for the most part. But Cork city? God knows how many times I had to call and ask my friends, who were already sitting in the pub, how to get to fucking Tom Barry's. There was the river Lee right outside of our apartment complex and when getting directions, people would always reference the river.

Would you believe me if I said it took me til March to realize the river circled all around the city and thus was the source of all my confusion? Hey, I never said I was the brightest. Regardless, I'm not that great with directions, but a lot of the time I like getting lost as long as I'm not on a time constraint. Driving at night is terrifying since I'm scared of the dark and those freaking yellow blinking stoplights always startle me. Yet any time I get behind the wheel and turn the key in the ignition, I feel my mother next to me in the passenger seat smiling at her eldest daughter and hoping to God that she doesn't crash the car. I talk to myself constantly in the car with some Rihanna or Bruno Mars song playing in the background.

Driving doesn't scare me like it used to and though I'll probably never be as good as my mommy, I'm proud that I overcame that fear. She's the one who taught me to drive, and I know she's happy I'm finally driving...even if I don't always know where I'm going.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Starting to Get Settled In...I Think?

Finally (sorta) got a job as my stepmom's personal assistant, running various errands, grocery shopping, driving the kids around, and odd jobs around the house. I'm surprised with nine people in this house (eight when I'm not here I guess) that she didn't demand one sooner. Anyways, today was my first day of "work" and for the most part was a success.

Took the dog to the groomer and the youngins (what I call my two youngest siblings) to a friend's house, went grocery shopping, and took clothes up to Good Will. Doesn't sound like a whole lot, but it definitely took up most of my day and for that I am thankful! It was nice not to sit around for hours on my computer without a purpose. Now when I do sit down to my computer, I feel the urge to write since my time is limited. Sometimes I forget how much I love being busy.

I might as well introduce my siblings now since I mention them so much. Stephie, my biological sister, is eighteen and headed to Winona State in the fall to study Music Education. She and I have been inseparable since she was born and best friends for as long as I can remember. Her voice is beautiful and though it can get on all our nerves sometimes, I know she'll do great things.

Next in line is Nick, my biological brother, who is sixteen and a great athlete. When I came home from Ireland and he said, "Hello," I laughed and told him to talk in his regular voice. He said that was his voice. He sounded just like my father! In the course of two years, I've gone from being the tallest of Sisson children to the shortest.

Brady, fifteen, is my stepbrother and a brilliant soccer player. He annoys the fuck out of me a lot, but he's cool for the most part. And as much as I hate to admit it, he's hilarious almost all the time and can crack anyone up regardless of their mood. Even though he'll deny it til the cows come home, I know for a fact that he missed me while I was gone.

Ariel, my stepsister, is almost fourteen and just graduated middle school. She's a strange combo of mature beyond her years and being crazy as hell. We love shopping together and having impromptu photoshoots. Next to my sister, she's my favorite car-companion. I only get to see Ariel half the time which sucks, but it makes the time with her that much more valuable.

DJ, adopted by my stepmom and then subsequently by my dad, is my youngest brother at eleven. The fact that he's going to middle school next year boggles my mind. He's smarter than the world gives him credit for, I think, and I cannot wait to see what he does with his future. Introducing him to Harry Potter was one of my proudest moments as a big sis; seeing him loving the books is truly rewarding.

Jaida, ten, was also adopted by my stepmom and then by my dad when they married and is the youngest of the Sisson clan. She's a little firecracker, that one, and so cute that it's almost unfair. When she's being sassy or a pill, I can never stay mad at her for long because she's just so fucking adorable! She says the most random, hilarious things and I love to give her piggy-back rides.

Our dog Lucy, four now I think, may not be one of my siblings but I take care of her like she is a child. She's a bishon-shitzu mix (also known as a teddy bear dog), black and white little puff ball and so docile. People that are afraid of dogs love her and she can melt the coldest of hearts. Whenever I'm upset, she'll nuzzle up against me and lick away my tears until I laugh.

So there you have it, my plethora of siblings in a nutshell! Spending time with them, getting to spend so much time with my friends, and driving most days is making this summer tolerable considering my emotional withdrawal from Ireland. I was talking to a friend from back in Cork the other day and he said, "I cannot believe it's been only two weeks." Almost three now, his statement knocked me on the head with the reality that barely any time has passed. How will I feel after one month? Two months? A semester? A year? When will it get easier? The same friend promises me it does and I believe least, I want to believe.

This weekend, I get to go away for a bit which will be nice. I could use a little "me" time and with only twenty year olds. It may be a small road trip, but I'm certain it'll be one to remember. One of these days I need to drive over to a craft store (or search through our basement for any of my mom's leftover crafty materials) for a scrapbook for my Europe trip. I collected metro tickets, entry passes, postcards, Starbucks receipts, and other random pieces of shit.

That trip was unforgettable and reminds me why this last semester was so important for me: I got to travel the world with a freedom I've never known and discover myself day after day. I don't know if I'll ever have an experience as powerful as Ireland/Europe, but these memories will stay with me forever. This scrapbook will be that reminder of hungry days, sleepless nights, friendship, strength, perseverance, poverty, stale smelling clothing, and enough stories to fill a lifetime.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Favorite Poem Growing Up

There was this poem, by Shel Silverstein, that was my favorite poem growing up. When I got my own room in 9th grade, I decorated the shit out of those walls to cover up the nasty yellow paint job. On one of my closet doors, I wrote in colored sharpies on the off-white wooden door. I also wrote Jaques' monologue from "As You Like It" on the wall right inside my front door, but that's an obnoxiously well-known one so I won't bother writing it down. However, "Needles and Pins"...I just cannot resist. Here it goes:

Needles and pins,
Needles and pins,
Sew me a sail
To catch me the wind.

Sew me a sail
Strong as the gale,
Carpenter, bring out your
Hammers and nails.

Hammers and nails,
Hammers and nails,
Build me a boat
To go chasing the whales.

Chasing the whales,
Sailing the blue,
Find me a captain
And sign me a crew.

Captain and crew,
Captain and crew,
Take me, oh take me
To anywhere new.

Love that poem with all my heart.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Mother's Diary

My mom, who passed away three years ago, kept a journal from '93-'98 of me and my sister and brother growing up. There are some hilarious entries in here that make me smile at how true they still are today, and ones that absolutely warm my heart. Here are some from this treasure of a diary from my late mother, Sarah:

August 23, 1993~
"Molly is an absolutely wonderful big sister! She is so good to Stephanie. She gives her kisses and hugs (without prompting) and loves to talk to her and make her laugh. There still doesn't seem to be much competition because of jealousy and we feel blessed."

October 1, 1993~
"[Molly's] sentences are really coming along, she constantly amazes us. She knows many words to songs and picks up on everything we say...She's a sponge with learning right now and it's really fun to watch."

"People are always telling me how beautiful my girls are and how friendly and fun Molly is. It makes me feel so good."

December 3, 1993~
"Molly and Stephanie continue to be crazy about one another. Molly can make Stephie laugh like no one else."

"Molly is continually asserting herself in most situations. She's a born leader at 2 1/2. She loves to perform and tell others what to do and where to go."

January 18, 1994~
"Molly's sentence structure is more and more complete each week."

"Molly is so lovey to all her family and still remains a class act in the drama department. She can turn tears on and off like a light switch."

September 1, 1994~
"Molly is really struggling with control. She wants to have the higher hand with me and Dave and I'm not quite sure what to do."

"She has a wonderful quality about her (one of many) that she always wants everyone to be happy. If one of us or her friends is sad she insists and persists with her mother-like comforting. Molly is a very emotional, sensitive, caring, and generous little girl. She's one of a kind."

September 14, 1995~
"Molly is so good to both Stephie and Nicholas. She has such a loving nature and being sweet, gentle, and caring comes so naturally to her."

December 17, 1995~
"[Molly's] getting so independent, going to friend's houses to play without me and walking up to the school by herself. She's really growing up."

November 17, 1996~
"Molly continues to have the special quality in her that makes her be kind and accepting of just about everyone. I still marvel about this and how mature a quality this is to have mastered at such a young age. I love everything about my Molly. She's as sweet, kind, and lovable as they come. She has a great memory and understands concepts and stories the first time she sees or hears them. I wonder what she'll be when she grows up."

"I am so lucky to have my three angels. They make my life whole and complete. I would be so empty without them and my life very lonely. Thank you God for these special treasures in my life, they are a true blessing."

February 16, 1997~
"Molly just turned 6 and is very proud. She continues to do well in school. Her 'thing' now is to walk around reciting math addition and subtraction problems. It's quite impressive for her age. She's getting so tall and weighs just over 45 pounds!"

May 22, 1998~
"Molly continues to stay busy with Brownies and Student Council. The bowling field trip and pizza party with the Brownie troop was fun and we have the overnight at the Girl Scout office coming up on June 5th. The kids on Student Council were all taken on a special end of the year trip to a Brewer game yesterday. Molly had a blast and came home with a big smile on her face. I'm sure the cotton candy and popcorn helped."

I will be forever grateful for this amazing little journal.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thunderstorms and Memories

Could not stop thinking about writing while sitting on my front porch last night waiting for my friend to come pick me up to get gelato. My friend group puts together last-minute plans constantly and more often than not they involve food, coffee of some kind, motion pictures, and a movie.

All day yesterday it was supposed to rain and you could tell if you looked outside that the clouds were getting ready for something big. The rain held off until the night, but thunder and lightning was crashing round me on my front stoop and in the car on the way out to our friend's house.

There's something fantastic about Wisconsin storms that I haven't experienced anywhere else. Everything about them reminds me of my childhood, the good parts I mean. When I sit outside and reach out my hand and can grab the moisture out of the air, a rush runs through my body. It's this knowledge that the yellowish-gray sky that's hanging so low will rip open and pour on you at any moment. The rustling of the leaves on the tall trees, first couple droplets of water hitting me smack dab in the eye, that initial flash of lightning that makes me jump a bit and the crack of thunder that rumbles all the way into my chest...there's nothing better.

It scares me and thrills me, as so much I do does: climbing trees, writing, traveling with a backpack and a few euros, living in a different country for five months, driving in the snow and ice, sitting on my roof on summer nights, falling in love, writing papers hours before the deadline.

Which brings me to the second part of this post: memories. I'm not talking about my flashbacks, but memories instead. I did have a flashback recently on the metro in Vienna about Alexia*, but I haven't mentioned it yet because it's significance still puzzles me. It wasn't a negative or confusing one, but clear and simple, just a random spring or summer day sitting in her room watching her play video games.

I can tell a flashback though from a random memory, because they're always caused by triggers and this one was an apple juice box which I stupidly got at the train station. My hands tremble, I feel a cold sweat cover me from head to toe, and I'm overcome with the immediate need to flee. Everything is so fresh and real from the smells to the feeling of the comforter to the noises on the TV.

Regardless, I did have some memories the other day while looking through old pictures my sister and I found in our basement. I thought I had thrown away all photos of Alexia years ago, but it seems I missed four.

The first two I don't remember the exact circumstances, but I do remember the feeling of the fabric zipper pull and the annoying tight cuffs of the windbreaker. I remember that it was a happy day and we both were laughing and smiling (genuine ones too).

The third I remember there were many more from that day that are now gone, but that day I remember vividly. We were hanging out at the playground and my hair was dirty, so I had on a baseball cap (backwards of course, because I was awesome like that), but it was rainy/icky outside so it didn't really matter. She had invited me over at the last minute I remember and we were discussing something serious. What it was I could not tell you, but I can see myself sitting on top of part of the jungle gym and staring out down the street toward a nearby church. The park was only two blocks from Alexia's house, but we needed to get away to talk about whatever was bothering her at the moment. It was one of the few moments she opened up to me; of everyone in our odd clique/friend group, I was one of two which she let her guard down around. Granted, this was not usually a positive experience, but it was these moments that kept me coming back to Alexia because I could see the person she wanted to be but couldn't for some reason (doctors I've had think possibly a personality disorder mixed with things I can only speculate but for which I have no proof or verification). I believed in her and wanted to be best friends with that girl, the girl underneath the tough exterior and years of an...odd relationship with her father and sickly mother. I waited ten years for glimpses of that smile I loved, kind of like an abusive relationship when the girl may wait around for flashes of the man with which she first fell in love. It's a futile waiting game, but seeing that picture of both of us sticking out our tongues to her mom's camera when she came to get us for dinner reminds me of how conflicted I felt.

The fourth I can date to April 6, 2001 which was the day that Miller Park re-opened. I remember going to the re-opening with Alexia and her dad, taking pictures with baseball players I barely knew, and trying to wrap her Brewers monkey around both of our necks without having some awkward three-legged race but with out heads. That was three years before we stopped being friends, almost exactly actually. Alexia and I had had a double-sleepover that weekend and it was draining me off all my resolve. I felt trapped in that giant stadium and by her dad who always made me feel uncomfortable. He would ever so sweetly suggest to my mother that I stay over just one more night and how could I protest in front of him that I wanted out? Each night he would spoil us with candy and other goodies to keep us happy, but I wore an empty smile on my face. That re-opening ceremony was yet another example of being suffocated and, being only ten years old, having no idea how I could get away. This picture hurts deep in my heart because I remember feeling overwhelmingly guilty, scared, and lonely.

Finding old concrete evidence of my pain makes me sigh in relief; it's confirmation that I'm not insane or making everything up. Even if it's only to convince myself, those pictures give me some peace of mind that those ten years were a reality.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Damn it, Molly, Focus!

Fuck. Why oh why, writer's block, must you curse me now? Age old question, I'm sure...but seriously, COME ON! I have loads of free time on my hands what with the job search looking rather dismal and not having to babysit everyday. Every morning, I sit down at my computer, read the paper (or New York Times if my dad took the Journal Sentinel to work with him), check Facebook, check Hulu, and stare at my opened Word document: "Autumn Leaves novel".

It's taunting me, that fucking page, but I can't close out of it or I really will waste this summer away! I need to stop being so lazy but no matter what I seem to do, I cannot bring myself to write. Anything else? Random-ass poems? Shit for this blog? Record long-winded video diaries? Done, done, and done. But anything slightly productive I have thrown out the window.

I blame my overly relaxed (school-wise) semester at UCC in Ireland for my lack of productivity. In Cork City I would waste many a day away in front of my computer, editing Autumn Leaves while waiting for TV episodes to load in vain, surrounded by dirty dishes and a half-empty cereal box. My trusty mug would be filled with some liquid, usually tea, but on plenty of occasions it was wine, vodka, orange juice, or some failed attempt at a cocktail.

Yup, my writing quality (and desire to write) did increase with my alcohol consumption, but I'm guessing this is due to my rule not to be on the internet drunk and thus writing was one of my few choices. Being home though and once again under the legal age (only one more year!) and having no desire for my siblings walking in on me sipping a Cosmo at two in the afternoon, alcohol-influenced "ingeniousness" is no longer an option. Ireland did, however, teach me to write daily since there was little else with which to fill my countless hours of time.

Summer is a lot like being back in my apartment in Cork, actually, minus the sunlight I get here at home. It will probably feel different once all my siblings are out of school and running around the house. In the meantime though, I've wasted a day again doing little of which I can be proud after a "day's work". Why can't I write?

I know why: I can, but I don't want to. I don't want to fail, don't want to be rid of the characters that have been such a huge part of my life, don't want to have to start from square one with a new plot for my next story, don't want to begin the agonizing task of editing the entire fucking thing. Stop, STOP! Suck it up, Molly Jane, put on your big girl undies and get this shit done.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Taste of "Autumn Leaves"

I've been working on Autumn Leaves for a long time now and am re-starting work on it starting this week and through the summer until I finish my manuscript (at least a first draft). I'm posting one chapter here, Chapter 14 called "Morphine", which is smack dab in the middle of the story, but I feel like you can get enough background information to get the point of where I'm going with this from the excerpt. I don't quite know what background information to give without giving away the entire first half of the story besides saying it's about a senior in high school named Autumn Sumners (few side notes: Jenkins is the butler and Autumn's "nanny" throughout her childhood, the Sumners are a wealthy family that is well known within their small town, her dad has been away on various unexplained business trips since she was young, and she's struggling with blaming her mother for what happened to her when she was eight). Anyways, here it is. If anyone who reads this has any questions, feel free to ask me. Here is Chapter 14: Morphine.

Everything is cold and my breathing is uneven. I know it's coming, I just know it. Then, I feel his hand run up my thigh before he violently rips my shirt to gain access to my underwear. I look above me and see a flickering streetlamp. "Just stay lit, I keep telling myself. "If you stay lit, maybe someone will find me." But the light is unforgiving. The flickering quickly turns to a dim shadow of a light.

"Agh!" My eyes flew open at the sudden burst of pain. My vision may have been blurry, but I knew something was wrong with this picture. Why was everything so white? I attempted to sit up, only to find that much more painful than reclining. Where was I? Lifting my arms gingerly, I rubbed my eyes and took a second look around. Oh, shit.

"Thank goodness you're awake!" a distant female voice yelled at me. "You have no idea how lucky you have been. We were afraid we were going to lose you a couple times."

I didn't know who the hell this lady was or what she was doing in my room, but by the looks of her outfit, I guessed she was a nurse. I had landed myself in the hospital.

"I'm so sorry, how rude of me, I haven't introduced myself! My name is Jacqueline and don't be afraid to ask for anything. I'm here to make sure you make a speedy recovery," she said, her voice doing nothing to ease the ache that seemed to cover my entire body.

She looked awfully happy to see me lying here helplessly. I stared back at her in confusion. Her large smile turned to a look of genuine concern.

"You don't remember what happened, do you?" she said.

What? WHAT?! Had I been in some horrible accident? Oh God, I was probably missing a leg or something!

"What do you mean? Remember what? What happened to me?!" I panicked.

"Whoa, easy there. Don't go over exerting yourself. You'll rip out your stitches with that kind of flailing."

"Stitches?!" I screamed.

"Well, what did you expect the doctors to cover your gunshot wounds with, a Band-Aid?" she laughed at her cleverness, but seemed to miss the look of grave concern on my face.

"Wait a minute, you mean that wasn't all a dream? The school shooting was real?"

"Yes I'm afraid it was," she said with sincerity. "But you were the little hero who saved everyone's lives, especially the sweet Stacy Robyn. You've been all over the TV and in every newspaper from New York City to San Francisco. Everyone wants a piece of you, and it's taken every bit of my strength to keep those pariahs out of her the past week."

"I've been out a week?!" I screamed again, flailing against her orders even though it caused me much pain.

Jacqueline looked unsure of what her next move should be, but she definitely chose the right one and said, "Erm, maybe now would be a good time to up your morphine."

I was in so much pain that I could feel my muscles squeezing the life out of me. My head felt like it was going to explode and it hurt horribly for me to breathe. And there was something wrong with my right shoulder; it felt as though it weighed twenty pounds.

"I'm really sorry. I've never been too good at this whole 'nursing' thing," Jacqueline apologized.

No shit Sherlock.

"I've been working on my bedside manner and my boss says it still needs some work. But I promise you that by the time you get out of here, I won't be so horrible."

She walked over to a machine I was hooked up to and started pressing it's "up" arrow. Suddenly, great warmth spread throughout my body, numbing me with that same afterglow sensation of a great orgasm.

"Thank you," I whispered.

She smiled and stroked my hair reassuringly. It was an odd sensation. I wasn't complaining though; I could use a bit of motherly affection at a time like this.

"Where's my mother?" I asked in a voice so raspy I could swear it wasn't my own.

Never before did I want her beside me so badly. I was hoping Jacqueline would tell me she was right outside the door, waiting to run in and hug me, but I knew that wouldn't happen.

"You just missed her, sweetie," Jacqueline said. "She was here for the first four days, but she said she had to go home to take care of some business. She insisted that we call her the moment you woke up. She'll probably be calling you in a little bit."

My mother wanted them to call? I could barely believe the worlds coming out of her mouth.

"I, uh, think I'll just leave you alone for a while dear."

I had forgotten that Jacqueline was still standing beside me.

"What? Oh, yeah, whatever."

"Just page me if you need anything, okay?" she offered, leaving my hospital room and me with my thoughts.

I thought, "Okay Autumn, deep breaths. You're're okay..."

A few hours later, I awoke from my morphine-induced sleep. Still though, I couldn't understand how I got here. There was the shooting. I shot Zack. Then he Oh God. I leaned over to my bed-side table and looked at the doctor's report of my injuries. Skimming the document, I could barely make heads or tails of the complex words or odd abbreviations. As I reached the third page, my eyes caught sight of a paragraph: "Injury to the right shoulder, punctured lung, brain swelling, broken left wrist and hand. First bullet lodged in muscle tissue of shoulder and second lodged in rib cage behind right lung."

The pages slipped from my hands onto the floor. I could remember the gun pointed at me, and then a loud sound and then--

"Miss Sumners? Is it all right for me to enter?" a voice said from behind me.

It was Jenkins, standing awkwardly by my hospital room's door. I was glad to see him; at least it was a familiar face that showed compassion rather than a preppy, obnoxious wind-up doll.

"Hm? Oh yes, Jenkins, come right in," I invited, as I would on any other occasion in our house.

He shifted in as though he was horribly uncomfortable with the entire situation. What was he so frazzled by?

"Is something wrong, Jenkins? You look a little skittish."

"Me? What? Oh nothing, nothing at all. I'm just glad to see that you are alright," he said.

He could barely make eye contact with me and that was a dead giveaway that something was up; his usual look was one that tried to bore itself into your head to find out about your daily happenings. It was no wonder that he became my caregiver when I was a child.

"Miss Sumners, may I ask you something?"

"Of course, Jenkins, what is it?"

"I was wondering why you didn't come to me," he stated carefully.

"Come to you for what, Jenkins? What's going on?"

"The...the incident, when you were eight?" he coaxed.

My heart stopped beating momentarily.

"I, uh, don't quite know what you are talking about, Jenkins. Now, if you don't mind, I'm very tired and in a lot of pain right now so if you could just--"

"--the rape. That's the 'incident' I was speaking of," he interjected.

Nope, there was no fucking was in hell I was going to discuss this with him, right here, right now. Jenkins had no right to ask me all these personal questions; my mother would kill him--or worse, fire him--if she ever heard a breath of what he was inquiring.

"Ra...rape? I, ehem, don't understand."

Without another word, Jenkins took the remote from my bed-side table and handed it to me, as though I was expected to do something.

"It's on every channel, Miss Sumners. They are calling you the bravest girl in Michigan: from Pain to Power. They say you are a true hero. While I also think that is true, after the incident at school, students revealed to reporters the content of the exchange between yourself and Mr. Crusto. Is it true what they are saying? Is it true you were attacked?


Jenkins sighed and turned toward the door to leave, "Remember, Miss Sumners: you cannot be helped if you will not accept it. The hospital is suggesting therapy for victims of rape for you. Mrs. Sumners says it will not be necessary because said incident never occurred. I may feel differently, but unless you say it happened and want to proceed with the hospital's plans, I can do nothing."

I stared at him blankly, hoping he wouldn't bore his eyes into me as he did so frequently. I was surprised he had bothered to bring my mother into this issue, or that he had the balls to stand up to her.

"I don't know what you are talking about, Jenkins. Now if you would please leave."

Jenkins bowed deeply and exited, but not before taking one final concerning glance at me.

"If you change your mind, I will be leaving the business card of the therapist in the secret cabinet on the ground floor of your home. Remember? It's the one the maids used to stuff with candy for you during the holidays," he smiled in fond memory. "She's a good therapist, world-renowned. Anytime you need her, anytime at all, call her. I have instructed her office to make sure that if you are to call that she is to see you immediately."

"That will not be necessary, Jenkins, but thank you for the thought."

And with that, Jenkins left my hospital room.

My mother called me an hour later; I had briefly wondered why she wasn't here sitting next to me, even just for the good image of a caring mother-figure.

"Autumn, darling, is that you? I am so relieved you are alright! The doctors had assured me you made it alright out of that latest surgery."

I listened closely and realized that the surrounding noises sounded familiar.

"Are you at Fusion salon?"

My mother sighed one of her long dramatic sighs, "Darling, you know I always get my French manicure on Saturdays at 10 o'clock at Didi's. I will be by later tonight, Autumn darling, but I'm sorry, I can't talk for long right now. I have a few more things to take care of before you can come home."

"What kind of 'things,' mother?" I questioned. What, was she installing an escalator up to my bedroom so I didn't have to strain my arm on the railing?

"Well, I want to make sure your side of the story is heard, and that the publicity is appropriate for the situation. A few stunning, though tasteful, photo shoots and television interviews should do the trick. Now, your father never hired a publicist for you since he doesn't see the need for one at your age, but I feel that due to the circumstances, I should step into that role for you. We need to make sure that we continue to play up this 'hero' status the media is promoting, which I'm sure you are already well aware of."

I had no idea what the fuck mother was going on about and she seemed to think we were on the same wavelength. I was afraid of this as soon as soon as I woke up: damage control. Mother wanted to make sure that I retracted everything Zack had said about me and, more importantly I think, her. She didn't even need to say it; I knew mother saw this as an opportunity to bring the Sumners family back into the public sphere. Her daughter, shot while trying to save a fellow classmate? It was too good an offer to refuse.

"Yes, I did here something about that, but I haven't exactly been awake long enough to research my public image," I tried to hold in the urge to inject more sarcasm into the conversation. "When will you be coming by?"

"Oh! I need to go, Diane Sawyer is on the other line, but I promise I'll stop by later."


Click. She hung up.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Things Missed and Not Missed

As I have now passed the week threshold of being out of Ireland (not yet a week without tears however, still working on that...), I am reminded of what I'm lacking over here and what I'm okay leaving behind. So, things I do and don't miss about my apartment, Cork, and Ireland in general:

I don't miss how shitty the lightbulbs were (or if it was just that our apartment was an expert at burning through them in less than seven days).

I don't miss our horrible couch which was deceivingly comfortable looking. It was the most anti-action-getting couch in the world; the cushions slipped right off if you moved more than an inch once you were already sitting down. Come to think of it, it's rather ingenious, more parents should consider investing in one of these.

Similar to above, I don't miss our (almost) equally horrible chairs that were again deceitful.

I don't miss the blank stark walls of our apartment. They weren't even white (which would make me feel like I was in an insane asylum), but an odd off-white. When I did video diaries, it looked like I was sitting in an empty, rather sad studio of a show that was about to be canceled.

I don't miss our nasty carpets. We decided early on it was futile to clean them.

I don't miss our shitty tiny washing/drying machine that could wash about three shirts and, literally, took six hours to dry.

I don't miss the rain. It's not even rain though, or drizzle, it's mist. And when it does rain, there must always be wind.

I don't miss having no natural sunlight or a parking garage outside my window.

I don't miss the ungodly slow internet. I cannot believe I ever complained about internet at school being slow; I promise I'll never complain again!

I don't miss hand-washing dishes. As much fun as it is to wash each spoon individually, it's even more exciting to throw them all in sans extra work.

I don't miss my bed and the back-breaking mattress.

I don't miss stores closing at 6pm.

I miss eating boxes and boxes of digestives with Natalie and always being able to justify going out to get just one more.

I miss talking with Alicia about anything and everything and laughing hysterically at the things that came out of our mouths.

I miss hearing Cassie playing her guitar and/or singing in the other room.

I miss discussing House, Bones, and Glee with Maura frantically the morning after episodes aired.

I miss Harry randomly walking in to our apartment.

I miss Brian and his go-to catchphrase: "Like a champ!"

I miss James always knowing the best new Youtube videos and his kickass bachelor pad.

I miss all the mountaineering club and Wednesday nights at Tom Barry's where I'd get my pot of tea with a Snack bar.

I miss Honey Cheerios. I became rather attached to my morning cereal.

I miss the UCC campus (even if I don't miss the classes at all) and the Quad that made me feel like I was at Hogwarts.

I miss Tesco and doing my own grocery shopping and cooking, because even though my cooking skills are highly limited and I didn't have a lot of cash to work with, food shopping is fun.

I miss Centra coffee, muffins, and baguettes.

I miss having my own apartment because though almost everything I said I don't miss is from that place, I miss the freedom having it brought me.

I miss being able to drink legally, just walk to the convenience store and buy a bottle of wine. Less than a year to go but still, it is missed.

I miss the Irish people as a collective whole: funny, welcoming, and never dull.

I miss the Irish accent; I got so used to it by the end that unless I heard a really thick one on campus or something, I would forget I was in a different country.

So there you have it! There are countless more, I'm sure, but those are the ones I can come up with off the top of my head.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"Far Too Many Wishes"

Poem from the heart, so to say, written around midnight when my mind is running round and round full force and thoughts bombard my senses. Here it is:

"Far Too Many Wishes"
Want to smile
But it feels fake
Want to keep my eyes dry
But they betray me and water again
Want to sleep through the night
But keep waking up and staring at the stars
With far too many wishes in my heart

Knew it would sting
Though never expected hurt like this
Head throbbing
Stomach in knots
Hands trembling
Heart crying out into the dark twilight hours

Words losing meaning
Memories only increase the suffering
But I want to remember!
Forgetting isn't an option
So where do I begin?
Don't want to believe it's real
Yet denial never lasts long

Was living in a fairy tale
Coy smiles
Blushing knowingly
Sparkle in the eye that refuses to fade

Twisted sheets
Light sprinkling through the window pane
Sleeping morning eyes
Holding one another as tight as possible

No, stop!
The thoughts bring back the lump in my throat
The unbearable tightness in my chest
Stop imagining, pretending, hoping
Looking for answers in nighttime skies
Because when the lights dim and the world sleeps
I lay awake with a heavy mind to start
And far too many wishes in my heart