Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dear World:

Today is no different from any other day, except for this:
It is the 786th day of my ceaseless efforts to recruit followers for my worldwide movement, to put me (otherwise known as Peaches) in power as Supreme Grand Ruler Of Everything Important, ban stupidity and burn all pickles worldwide.
It's taken us a long time to get here, and we've gotten absolutely nowhere. Three cheers for our determination and refusal to give up a hopeless (if entirely just) cause!
Thank you, loyal followers, for your secret and devoted support. I really wouldn't have done it without you. I look forward to the progress we may or may not achieve in the days to come. Thank you. Thank you.
Your future neighborhood dictator,

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Rise of The Victim

I'm still reading The Godless Constitution (it cleared up considerably after the introduction), and I've had some interesting thoughts.
When the Constitution was being drafted and ratified, there was something called a religious test that I'd never heard of. Most states required people to take a religious test certifying that they were Christian- and usually a specific kind of Christian. But in Article 6 there's a line that says, basically, 'no religious tests.' Everyone was very upset about it. What if we get a Catholic for president? Or a Jew? Or, horrors, an atheist?! In all, very interesting, and I haven't finished reading yet.
But it got me thinking. Back when we were founding the country, bigotry was based mostly on religion. Are you Christian? Are you the right kind (ie, the same as me) of Christian?
Then it was mostly based on color. Are you white? Are you white enough? Were your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents white enough?
Then it was based on gender. That was pretty clear cut: either you were a man, or you weren't. If you weren't, you couldn't vote or hold office, although men were happy to let you work in their factory.
And then bigotry began to experience a revolution. We were still a Christian people, but a secular nation. Religious bigotry, for the most part, bit the dust. Slavery was abolished and after an agonizingly long time and the lifelong efforts of many, racial bigotry has also (for the most part) left the ring.
I won't bother trying to say that gender-discrimination has also disappeared, since it probably hasn't and there are too many people who would disagree with me to make it worth the trouble. But something interesting has happened.
We no longer discriminate (for the most part!) against religion, color, or gender. We discriminate based on victimhood.
Basically, the harder your life is, the more rights you have. Or, if that's too strong for you, think about it like this:
The more you have to whine about, the better off you are. If you lost your parents at a young age, good for you. But if your parents were burned to death by a drunk white arsonist and the judge dismissed the case on 'lack of evidence', feel free to consider that a blank check for the rest of your life. It doesn't matter if there really was no proof, one way or the other. It doesn't matter if your parents had a habit of smoking in bed and the drunk white was able to prove that he didn't arrive until after the fire started. It's obvious to you that it was a deliberate plot, a conspiracy- not against your parents- against you. Everything bad that ever happens to you is because someone out there hates you. Is jealous of your innate better-than-them qualities. (Best not define those qualities- could get sticky.)
Be honest. You've met someone like this. More than one someone like this. Someone who walks around in an aura of victimhood. If you're late, they're a victim. If the rules that apply to everyone deny them something they wanted- which everyone else also wants- they're a victim. Victims believe that because something bad happened to them, they are now owed something. Anything. If they can't get anything else, then they'll settle for respect. If they can't get respect- and who's surprised they can't?- then they're even bigger and better victims.
You won't have to look very hard to find these people. Often, we are them. Every time you get engaged in conversation with someone, and start enumerating all the hideous things that have happened to you today- from stubbing your toe to talking to an irate customer to being at the end of a long line- you're being a victim. It's easy to be a victim. It's a seductive mindset that denies any personal responsibility for your life, your circumstances, and your attitude.
My only comfort as I think about this is my firm belief in the Law of Natural Consequences. Or, in other words, natural selection. I was never able to completely swallow the theory of evolution, but natural selection makes sense to me. If you can't adapt or overcome, you'll die out. Victims are victims because they refuse to overcome and don't do adaption. Which means, sooner or later, individually or as a whole, they will die out. Either as a mindset (I imagine ex-victims blinking in the sunshine and wondering what they've been doing with their lives) or as individuals, this cannot last. Not without consequences.
So remember natural selection. Adapt. Overcome. Don't be a victim. Don't die out.

Friday, May 29, 2009

To be?

Tired. Considering taking a half day today, since there's no point in studying so hard that I wipe myself out and score horribly on the SAT.
Today was the last day of seminary. (Hooray!) It was the last day of school for 99% of my friends. (Booo!) (One of my friends is home schooled. And she's graduated. So while she's not goofing off, I don't think she's doing school either.)
Too tired to think of anything interesting to say, except that I'm weird. I haven't come across an essay question yet that I could agree with. I can't even disagree normally. All these questions about do I think government money should be spent on this or on that. And all I can think is Duh, I don't want the government to spend money at all. Certainly not my money. (It's not spending my money yet, but it will be.) But if you don't write your essay on the topic provided you get a score of zero. So I've been doing a lot of contortions to write on topic and still be honest to what I think. Example: I wrote an essay about how the space program should be continued because it helps save the environment. No joke. It was that or say Yes! I want another dead weight welfare program draining resources we don't have! And I'm too honest to be able to argue that.
It's terrible, what believing liars go to Hell will do for you. Even though the space program is cool.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hamster Wheel Remix

Study study study study study study pant pant pant study study study (repeat endlessly).
I took a practice test the day before yesterday. I graded it yesterday.
There's a possible scaled score of 2400 on the SAT. I scored 1870. Which is probably higher than average because I scored average in math and writing and excellent in reading. (Is anyone surprised?) I want to bring it up, though, because although I don't mind having average math skills, I resent being an average writer. So my goal is to raise my score by thirty points to get to 1900.
The Teacher has now graded two of my practice essays. I don't think I'll ask her to grade them anymore. I could write Hamlet in miniature and she would still find something wrong with it. (Okay maybe that's not fair but I see no point in beating myself endlessly on this particular rock when there are so many other rocks to choose from.) Anyway, a score of five out of a possible six isn't bad.
When I have kids that I'm homeschooling, I'm going to give them more than three weeks' notice before they take the SAT.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Not So Smart

Apparently I'm not as smart as I thought I was.
The Godless Constitution: A Moral Defense of the Secular State by Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore. Sounds like light reading, right? After all, it's only half an inch thick. And paperback. How hard could it be?
On the third page: "A shift in rhetorical strategy to widen political appeal does not affect the substantive issues at stake." Okay... I know rhetorical, strategy, political appeal makes sense, and substantive I kind of know...
Page 15 (looking at the page number now instead of pages into the chapter): "Suffice it to say that our intention is not to marginalize religion. If anything, it is to warn against the ways that some aggressive proponents of religious correctness are doing exactly that in their political battles, even as they try to lay the blame elsewhere."
String lots of sentences like that together, and even if each sentence is clear enough, what you soon get is pages and pages of huh? I still haven't figured out exactly what these people are trying to say. I kind of know, but I don't like kind of knowing, I want to know for sure.
So- suffice it to say- I'm starting this book over. With a dictionary. And a notebook. The power of the notebook will quash all uncertainty.
In theory.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Good Book

This is my only comfort during all this SAT prep: The Lonesome Gods by Louis L'Amour. Like The Virginian, but better, because in The Virginian you're on the outside, and in The Lonesome Gods you get to watch from the inside. Johannes Verne is as good a liar as the Virginian was. (Frog farming, anyone?)
Anyway, my conclusion is that as long as there are good books in the world, nothing will ever be that bad. Don't ask me to specify 'that'.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Heaven and...

I don't spend a lot of time thinking about Hell. I decided that I didn't want to go there and that's as far as I've speculated.
I don't need to speculate. I know.
Hell is a cold (sore throat, headache, earache, runny nose) and a now confirmed two week deadline to the SAT.
I hope you're having a good time, because I'm not. I don't want to die anymore, so that's an improvement. I'll consider living in the morning. Right now I'm the zombie student.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What no one asks me (yet)

I read a lot. When I can, I read blogs by editors, authors, and agents. I read articles by editors, authors, and agents. I read books by and about editors, authors, and agents. I listen to every story I can about editors, authors, and agents. And one common theme (among authors) is that they're often asked "Where do you get your ideas?"
Authors agonize over this question. Some say "None of your business" and hope the questioner will leave it at that. Others mumble about inspiration, flow of the universe, muses, interesting questions, and 'it just happens'.
I am prepared to answer this question. (No one has asked me this question yet, because aside from this blog I am unpublished, unready to be published, and just a teenager so people avoid asking me my opinion anyway. Also, people avoid asking me questions about writing. It's a preservation instinct.)
This morning in seminary I was doodling. I am a compulsive doodler. Today my theme was wings. I like wings. The first two angels turned out okay, but the third set of wings went wrong. The right one was fine but the left one didn't match up. It was scrawny and lopsided and doomed the angel who was not yet drawn to fall from the skies on his first flight. I scribbled out the lopsided wing. Then I looked at the good wing (and it was a good wing) and thought, Hmm.
What if there was a race of people with wings? What if one of them only had one wing? What if it wasn't that he was born with only one, but that he had two and lost one? How would you go about losing your wing? In battle? Are you a warrior, little undrawn angel? Or a criminal? Was getting your wing cut off some kind of drastic punishment? And they left the other wing so you would always remember that you couldn't fly? What did you do? Are you really a bad guy, or were you falsely accused? Or did you do what they thought you did, whatever it was, but with a motive/circumstances that actually made it the right thing to do? Or were you duped, tricked into doing it by someone you thought was your friend? Or did you do it for the wrong reasons, and now you're sorry? I bet you're a grouchy person. I would be grouchy if I couldn't fly anymore and only had one wing and people threw stones at me for being some kind of semi-winged freak and my family never came to visit me. I bet it's hard to make friends when you only have one wing. If you had two wings, well, that would be different; setting aside the fact that you would still be flying around with your friends, people are a lot more friendly towards people who are different but useful. Having one wing makes you different and useless at the same time. No offense. I wonder if you're out for revenge. Or on a quest, quests are always a good use of time when you're a crippled exile. Hmmmmmm....
And that's where I get my ideas. I extrapolate wildly from things no one else would think twice about. A messed up doodle to a semi-fledged (sorry) character idea?
And the seminary lesson wasn't bad either.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


No, seriously. I mean it. I have nothing to say.
Which reminds me of two interesting thoughts: a Soviet leader's last words were "Last words are for people who haven't said enough," or some varient thereon, and Someone Else said that only boring people are ever bored. Not that I'm bored, you understand, I'm just drawing a blank.
Since talking isn't the same thing as saying something, I'll shut up now.
Interesting how long it took me to say that, huh?

Monday, May 18, 2009


Well. Huh. That was... actually not too bad. Boring and stifling and work, yes, but not deadly.
Being the irrepressible optimist that I am, I expect it to be worse when I phase math in. The Teacher must be disappointed in the non-deadliness factor so far; she says (not yet insists, please please please make it stay that way) I should phase in the math tomorrow instead of working straight through the SAT book and leaving math for the end.
Things I learned today:
I'm smarter than I thought.
I'm faster than I thought.
My smartness and fastness will decrease dramatically when I hit math and math hits back, but I already knew that, so never mind.
It's possible to read six (one of them was hardcover) pounds of books in three and a half days. Finishing The Gate Of Gods did a lot to reduce my pain. It was an excellent story from start to finish, (from the first book to the last, I guess I mean), and extremely well written. Most trilogies have a hard time keeping up their momentum from the first book. Hah. Martha Wells sneers at trilogies! I would talk all about the story and techniques except that the Teacher hasn't finished them yet (gee, she's taking a long time), and has mentioned blood and pain and revenge if I spoil the story for her. Life is hard. I like to enthuse and I can't because I'm against unnecessary pain. I plan to read this trilogy all over again when I have a life again. The first time through I got the story; the second time through I hope to see better how she kept the story together. The ONLY (in a three book series, that ONLY is very heavy) thing she could have done better was her POV (point of view) transference. To keep the story as interesting as she did- and also because more than once her main characters split up; most of the time, in fact- she changed the POV often. She could have done a better job in telling you each time the POV changed which character you were following. Sometimes you didn't know in the first paragraph or even the first half page who was talking, so I got in the habit of skimming ahead until I found the POV and then going back to actually read the new scene. But other than that...
I think I love Martha Wells. Considering that the last few great loves of my life were Ronald Reagan, Patrick Henry, C.S. Lewis, and hamsters, you may now take bets on how long her star will shine.
Ronald Reagan's star still actually shines with me; he just isn't my every waking and dreaming thought anymore.
My guests I spoke of earlier experienced a change in plan. They're coming today. And then again in another week and a half. Only the suggestion of a possible kitten has kept me from declaring a blood feud. (They can't come when I having nothing better to do than to visit with them and sightsee and have fun, but the minute I start cramming...)
Well, that, and the fact that there's one of me and ten of them. And they're much better at feuding than I am. The sad reality of being an only child strikes again.


Studying. Hard. Still haven't finished The Gate of Gods.
Life is truly pain, and I'm not even a princess.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Ships of Air came Friday. I read it in a day and a half. Now reading The Gate of Gods.
Monday will come too soon.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I am a junior. In a few months I'll be a senior. A few months after that I'll have graduated from high school. I'm supposed to take the SAT in November. (SAT= stress. Just so you know.) The SAT will allow me to enter college and become even smarter than I already am. In theory.
I made the mistake of telling the Teacher that I'm stressed about the SAT. Her response was that instead of taking the SAT in November, take it in June- pay late fees- do nothing but study for the SAT for those three weeks- and then be done.
This is both unappealing and interesting to me. I like the idea of being done. However.... this is the time of year when everyone expects you to be less busy, not more. And from the gossip that leaks out of the unheard phone conversations (no one ever tells me anything around here; the Teacher always assumes that I know or that she already told me. That, or she tells me a few dozen times because she can't remember any of the other times she told me.) we have guests coming for an unspecified amount of time during that three week gap. With eight kids, one of them newborn.
So that's my classing future. Appealing, no?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Where is it?

I ordered a book- the second in the series, so I'm already caught on a cliffhanger- with five to nine day shipping. It's been TWELVE DAYS. I'm going to DIE.
Stupid postal service. I check the porch three times a day.
Tremaine.... Tremaine.... Boooooook....

Yay! Done! Sort of

I finished my journal! I filled up the last page right down to the very last line. My new old journal is hardcover, and since I like to tape things into it- get well cards, handouts from church/4H, poems, quotes, pictures that don't have a home, invitations, tickets, thank you cards, letters, and anything else addressed to me (or not) and not nailed down- it no longer closes all the way. Or even any of the way. There's somewhat open and more open than that. Well, having a somewhat open book sitting around for the next sixty years or so (I am completely honest in my journals, on the understanding that they won't be read until after my death; if someone jumps the gun and reads them before then, I'm sure that their death can be arranged) isn't too good for the book. Plus I have some really pretty blue ribbon I won't use for anything else. I have almost two and a half yards of this ribbon. I used all of it to tie the journal shut. Now, not only does it look nice and cute- I tied it to look like those old paper and string packages- but having the journal thoroughly tied shut will deter casual readers. Not so casual ones, no, but I already went over that.
So now I have a new journal. It's bigger than the last one, spiral bound, and is yellow with pretty flowers on it. I don't normally go for floral, but it's stylized floral, so I like it anyway. And I've already taped a graduation announcement into it.
I'll need ribbon for this one too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


So I'm a writer. Aspiring to be a paid writer. One way to be a paid writer is to enter contests. (Bookstore gift cards are payment, right?) Most contests are big and scary; you have to use snail mail (not a good thing when the Teacher is as allergic to the post office as she is and I can never find the stamps), and have a certain word count, and enter your writing in a specific genre. And hope that they won't care you aren't eighteen. (If the prize is more than a gift card, trust me, they'll care. Ageism.) And pray that the judges will recognize your writing as a piece of brilliant work, and not a teenage writer with stage-fright. And hope that they'll deign to tell you when you're disqualified.
So I've never actually participated in a writing contest. I write; therefore I am; therefore I need no stinking gift cards.
Until today. Doing my very sporadic checking on the few blogs I follow (most blogs I read are because the Teacher leaves them up on the computer), I found a reference to a contest. Interested but not very hopeful, I followed the link, and...
It wasn't big! It wasn't scary! 75 words posted in the comments based on the writing prompt that this very kind blogger had found in the news! I could do this! I did do it!
(Well, okay, saying anything in 75 words is actually harder than it looks. But I did it.)
And here it is:
Working Title: X(squared, or that little floaty two thing)
X wanted to study math in Germany. His father decreed he had to get some real-life experience first. Job interviews are real, right? X never dreamed he would be accepted.
His mission has changed: X has to find a caretaker among the applicants and get him hired. And not get caught. It's all on TV, and Germany hangs in the balance. But days tick by, and he wonders: Does anyone want the job?
Considering that my original draft of this was a hundred and thirty-five words, I'm proud of myself.
Only one snag: did I mention that my blog-reading is sporadic? This contest expired last week. I posted it anyway, just so I wouldn't feel like I had wasted the last thirty minutes writing it.
And so another gift card dream crashes and burns....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why I Can Never Win Around Here: Or The Secret of Snookie-Wookums

From time to time, the Teacher and I have a... disagreement. (I know! You never would have guessed it!) Sometimes the disagreement is minor, such as whether I can have a three day weekend like my peers in public school, or whether I have to send a letter to someone I don't like, or if I have to keep studying an evil topic (evil topics range anywhere from piano to an extremely badly written history textbook whose authors deserve a separate circle of hell for being such awful, biased, stupid, politically-correct and politically judgmental writers). Occasionally, when we find that we cannot settle the disagreement through calm, rational discourse, we call in a third party to cast the deciding vote.
The Principal. (Cue the drum roll.)
I figured out a long time ago that the Principal was biased. I learned that it was in my own best interest to negotiate with the Teacher, since the Principal was 95% certain to come down on the Teacher's side. I did not understand why this was. I foolishly assumed that this was a world-wide conspiracy of adults for adults only and always against the child. After all, ageism is everywhere; it made sense to me that it would be in my own home, as well.
But it was not so.
I have recently discovered the shocking, the real, the nearly unbelievable truth! The Principal sides with the Teacher because she has better voice control than I do! I know, you don't believe it. I warned you.
But it's true.
Not so long ago, the Teacher and I had one of our more than minor disagreements. I felt that since I was the one who was cooking, I should have the louder voice in deciding what was for dinner. She thought that since she was the one who had to eat it, she should decide. We could not agree. I wanted chili. She wanted I-can't-remember-what. (A bad memory is essential in a truly Christian life-style of forgiving those that offend you. I'm not sure what I would do without it.) We argued. We fussed. We raged back and forth in the hallowed halls of the kitchen. To this day I don't know why I consulted her, and didn't just make what I wanted.
Finally, she played her ace. She called the Principal, who was at work. She explained her side to him. I quickly chipped in my defense. And then, she dropped all pretense of democracy, of fairness, of political equality.
She called him... snookie-wookums. I feel like gagging just writing it.
And the Principal, when he heard this blatant- blatant, I say!- appeal to authority, spoke the final words: “Whatever you say, goes.”
Argh! No! I didn't want whatever-it-was! I wanted chili! (I think. I don't really remember. It was a cold, rainy, blustery day, so it seems likely that I wanted something hot, such as chili.) I snatched the phone and made a desperate attempt at appeal.
“Doesn't chili sound good on such a dark and stormy night, dearest-” this was it, this was it! I would only have one chance to pronounce the dire password. The Teacher was already advancing to reclaim the phone. “Snookulie-hee-hee-wook-ha-um-ums?”
And so you have it. We didn't have chili, but it matters not (almost) for we have gained for the world an important truth: as long as I can't say ridiculous things with a straight voice, I will never have true freedom and equal political representation in this world. And neither will you. Ageism has nothing to do with it. It's all in how you ask, and if you can't ask correctly, tough beans.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Sulk Ray

Context: When we got home from seminary, I went to the computer in order to read my daily comics and get on my blog. My mom got here first. I waited 'patiently' for her to finish (only occasionally nudging or hinting at her). She noticed me hovering (gee, I wonder how) and exploded. (Well, in the interest of good reporting, I'll admit that it was a modest explosion. More of a pop than a bang, really.) I was informed that we were out of clean glasses, that there were multiple dirty dishes in the kitchen, that this was somehow my fault (it is one of my chores to do the dishes. My other chores include laundry- cleaning and folding- even though technically this is supposed to be the Teacher's lookout, there are days when she can't do it or it piles up too high- cooking, sweeping, vacuuming, washing counters, tables, sinks, and toilets, and any other household chore you can think of. Except dusting. I don't even pretend to dust). I was further informed that she would not allow me on the computer until, and I quote, 'the dishes are done'.
Mental Process: I don't want to do the dishes. Of course the dishes are dirty. The dishes are always dirty. The dishes will always be dirty until people finally give in and agree to stop eating. Those dishes are dirty because, uh, I cooked for you? More than once? Yesterday, which was Sunday, which is supposed to be 'someone else's' dish day? Besides, it's too early in the morning for you to be complaining about (insert here) already.
Conclusion: This is blatant blackmail. Extortion. Political posturing. And I'm not giving in to it.
Result: I sat and sulked. Kind of like how protesters sit and sulk in front of the capitol. But there was only one of me, so she ignored me fairly successfully. I sat and glared. No result. I wished upon a star for a sulk ray so that I could transfer the full sulkiness of me directly to her with no interference (i.e. turning her back and not looking at me). I said "Feel the pain of my displeasure." She laughed and ignored me some more. Refusing to lose, I went away and read a book. Then I made breakfast and did some dishes and got on the computer. But I didn't do all of them.
And the moral of the story is that ultimatums don't do much for anybody but they really don't get you anywhere with a teenager.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Scripture Thought

It's Sunday. We're supposed to be spiritual today, right?
At the beginning of the year I set a goal to read the Book of Mormon six times- or once every two months. I'm on my third way through now, and I'm still finding new thoughts.
My new thought today was one that called me to repentance.
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Mosiah 13:15
Now, I personally don't have a problem with taking the name of the Lord in vain. Not even when I'm really mad. But I do have a problem with opening my mouth to say something when other people profane His name in front of me. It's difficult for me to say anything. I waver back and forth, wanting very badly not to come across as a religious fanatic, but not wanting to waffle either. So I generally compromise by not saying anything and feeling uncomfortable.
There's a problem with acting this way. It's true that 'unto whom much is given much is required'; and in general the thought seems to be that if someone doesn't know that something is wrong they'll be judged by the level of knowledge they have. But God 'will not hold him guiltless'. The way I read this scripture is twofold: As someone with a greater light, I have a responsibility to speak when someone takes the name of the Lord in vain. And as someone with a greater light, when I do not speak up, I'm also sinning by letting someone else sin. Kind of like the prophets who, even when the people were wicked and would not listen, they went out and preached anyway so that the blood of the people wouldn't come up against them.
Something to think about.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day

I'm not too good about Mother's Day. Sure, when I could still get away with cards and noodle necklaces, it was easy and even fun. But the past few years have been neither. Either I can't think of something to do and end up buying something I can't really afford, which turns into clutter, or I slap something (clay statue, for instance) together a few days ahead of time and feel cheesy. Either way I get burned.
This year I did something different.
The Teacher has a garden. Since we're in the hill country (first joke I heard when I came here: our biggest import is tourists and our biggest export is rocks) dirt is literally at a premium. We buy it by the truckload and keep it in raised beds so it won't run away. The Teacher loves her garden. Not sure why, but she does. (Plants don't do much for me. Well, except for roses and peach trees. I'm sure the blackberry bush will do something for me once it starts producing.)
So for Mother's Day I kicked her out of the house to go run errands/have fun with the Principal for a few hours. And I mulched her garden path.
This sounds lame, and I guess it is, but! It didn't cost me anything. It's not clutter. It only took two hours (I was working with a shovel and two five-gallon buckets and a recalcitrant roll of weed barrier. I'm lucky it didn't take longer.) I got to watch the sunset while I worked. It won't deteriorate/disappear/get lost/get worn out.
And every time she waters her garden and doesn't have weeds up to her knees, she'll think of me.
Yeah, right. More likely she'll think how nice it would be if the rest of the garden was mulched, or if she planted too many tomato plants. (She totally did, but don't say anything.)
Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Unsocial Party

I don't enjoy parties.
It's not that I don't like people. I like people fine. But when people become plural, they begin to get on my nerves. Even my best friend becomes a stranger in a crowd. Come to that, I'm probably a stranger in a crowd. I don't do crowds. Especially party crowds, where somehow the conversational ball is supposed to pivot and be gracefully tossed to everyone in the circle in turn. And I do mean the circle. Maybe it's only teenagers, but whenever I go to a party I've noticed that everyone stands in a tight circle to talk, with no room for someone else to join in unless they have the key. If you don't have the key, and you weren't there when the circle formed, you're out of luck. Since I haven't discovered what the key is yet, I'm usually just out of luck. When the party is especially crowded, the circles form back to back of each other, and you have to turn sideways to edge your way across the room. It reminds me of an illustration of bacteria from my biology book. All the circles tightly packed together, protecting the whatever-it's-called in the middle. I shared this mental image with one of my friends. They didn't appreciate it.
Part of why I don't enjoy parties is because I'm an introvert. I not only don't need to be around people to be happy, being with too many people for too long makes me stressed and unhappy. Since most of my friends are extroverts, they don't understand this. Since they don't understand this (and believe me, I have tried to communicate it on multiple occasions), they try to pressure me to be like them. By dragging me to parties. I don't like parties. (Maybe I already said that.)
This Saturday there's going to be a Mormon prom, where everyone gets to party and have fun and wear their modest prom dresses (it said on the handout that if it wasn't modest then you would be asked politely to leave, and if you didn't leave, the request would be made again not-so-politely) and dance with cute guys and party. I don't have a prom dress, modest or otherwise, am uninterested in cute guys at this time, and don't like parties. But my extrovert friends don't take 'I don't want to go' for an answer. The only excuse that will shut them up is if I have a prior engagement or if I'm sick. I do get sick fairly often, but never when I want to. (Illness is inconsiderate that way. The last few times I had a cold, it was during my vacation.) That leaves a prior engagement. I don't trust my luck enough to hope that my mom will happen to invite ourselves somewhere. I don't have the authority to invite myself somewhere (no driver's license yet, yes I'm working on it, yes I'm sixteen going on seventeen, shut up). But I do have the authority to invite other people over.
So... (trumpet fanfare)- it's the Unsocial Party! Specifically for people who want to be unsocial! And by specifying it as an unsocial party, I don't have to (uh, I mean, I can't) invite many people. Just a handful of friends interested in being unsocial (or who don't have a prom dress, or who aren't old enough to go- I'm not picky in my unsociety) to come over for dinner and card games and anime and possibly karaoke.
And there you are. I can't go to the Mormon prom because I have a prior engagement. The fact that I made this engagement on purpose and after I heard about the prom has nothing to do with anything. Except possibly with the fact that I don't like parties.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Back To Seminary

Seminary, for the heathen and non-mormon among you, is an early morning class for teenagers (unless you're in Utah, and have it as part of your school day, in which case I hate you) in high school. Ours runs from six-forty-five to seven-thirty-five. Which means that we have to leave our house at six. (My mom is the teacher and she has a thing about being on time. And her 'on time' really means 'fifteen minutes early'.) In seminary we rotate through the four standard works- Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants- so that by the time you graduate from high school you've spent a year studying each one. From the point of view of starting the day off right, spending time with people who share your beliefs, strengthening testimonies, and having fun, it's nice. From the point of view of going to bed at eight so I can survive waking up at five-thirty, it stinks.
Today it stank more than usual, thanks to the wonderful new invention called swine flu. The county health people told the schools to close. They did. We have seminary every day there's school. (Only three more weeks!) Hence, no seminary. Hence, an annoyed me. I don't appreciate having my schedule disrupted and the swine flu really isn't that serious. But hey, if you want me to sleep in, I'm sure that won't be a problem.
And then yesterday we got a call. The school changed their mind. They were starting up again tomorrow (today). They originally said they weren't coming back until next week. There is nothing more annoying than to have have someone flip flop on you, unless it's when they don't tell you about it until the last possible minute. I was very annoyed. I don't like sudden changes in the plan. If you're bleeding to death and need to be rushed to the hospital, I don't hold it against you. If you can't make up your mind whether you're bleeding to death or not, and halfway to the hospital say, "Oh, never mind, it's actually mostly red paint. Let's go back now," then the urge to kill is very strong.
I'm a teenager. I don't like early mornings anyway. Unexpected early mornings are worse. Unexpected early mornings with no available scape goat are the worst.
But hey, now I've had seminary. So now I'm bright and happy and spiritual and not holding a grudge against the public school system at all. And if I say it often enough it might even be true.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Her Majesty The Cat

Anyone who has ever had a cat is familiar with this story.
It begins with a scrap of fur abandoned in a neighbor's friend's coworker's woodpile. The neighbor's friend's coworker has a dog, and cannot keep the kitten. The neighbor's friend is allergic to cats. The neighbor has six cats already. In fact, the only possible person worthy of housing the aforementioned kitten is you. Never mind (insert objection here); the kitten is so small, so harmless, so helpless, and above all so cute that you can't find the heart to turn her away. (Or if you do have the heart to turn her away, your neighbor is already ahead of you, and got to your spouse and children first, so that your choice is to be viewed by your family by a cruel, heartless, practical monster or to just take the stupid cat. Animal lovers are adept at this sort of blackmail-manipulation.)
So you take the kitten, and discover that her royal cuteness is too young to eat dry food, and has to be fed canned milk with a squeezy-hypodermic-looking thing you got at the pet store. This is very messy; it gives her the appearance of having a frosted beard by the time you're done. And she's too young to sleep by herself; she cries in the night; and you have to clean her bottom with a wet washcloth.
But before these realities kick in, you choose a name. This is complicated by the fact that she's too young to be sexed, so you have to choose a gender-neutral name that would work either way. (Of course your daughter, being far more knowledgeable in these matters than you, has already declared the cat's sex and insists on calling it Princess Sparkle. You hastily assert your power of veto.) The name will change every day, if not every hour. Someone will say that you ought to wait for the cat's personality to develop before you name it. So far the only personality displayed has been the ability to disrupt your sleep pattern and turn every otherwise strong-minded adult so unfortunate as to come across her into a senseless blubber of baby-talk and monkey noises. (“Oo, who's an ickle baby den? Aw, she knows her mummy!”)
Time passes. Sometimes slowly, but it passes. The scrap of fur grows some legs and begins to get into everything. Cats are smart; you manage to teach her to jump off the table when she sees you coming into the room. This particular cat also has an identity crises: she tries to eat everything you do. In this case, popcorn and carrot peelings that fall on the floor. She shows an aversion to catnip and the expensive toys your spouse continues to shower on her, but is immediately captivated by the hanging ruffle on your best Sunday dress. You start locking the closets. Disappointed, your kitten takes her frustration out on the toilet paper, running up and down the hall with it whenever you have guests or in-laws to stay. She develops a tendency to whine when she doesn't get her way. Her eyes are very big, and she just sits and stares at you until you feel guilty/uncomfortable enough to give her what she wants.
She is now definitely a she, thanks to an hour and three hundred dollars at the vet. You daughter once again suggests Princess Sparkle; you once again veto it, even though the cat is showing signs of royalty. She's certainly a tyrant.
Fast forward. The cat is a full-grown beauty who won't let strangers touch her, but is happy to get gray hair on your black pants. She runs out to meet your car, then runs away again when the car doesn't stop soon enough for her taste. She bullies the other cat who shares her bowl mercilessly. She is convinced that she belongs indoor with the humans and the piles of clean laundry, despite her habit of dirt baths and the presence of poison ivy in her outdoor domain. She howls outside your door when you don't bring breakfast quickly enough. She's seven years old and has the temperament of an angelic two-year-old. Sometimes angelic and sometimes a two-year-old. She considers you very stupid, but kindly puts up with you. She is Her Majesty the Cat.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Door Economy

I am very tall.
I don't mind this very often. I have always been tall. (I actually think short people are scary, but I'll save that for another day.) When someone calls me up in front of a room full of people to give me something, and says "Yes, I made her stand up to show that she is indeed taller than I am," I don't mind.
There are only two places and situations in the world when I ever mind being tall. The first is in public restrooms. The second is in dressing rooms.
I understand that today's economy is bad. People are trying to save money wherever they can. But please: you can't be saving enough money on doors to make being able to see over the top of them worth it. And I honestly don't want to be able to see into the next stall without standing on tip toes.
Dressing rooms aren't much better. In fact, they're worse, because I'm constantly having to watch in case someone as tall as I am walks by. Although being able to look over the door instead of having to keep opening it is convenient, and saves time on giving/receiving second opinions.
So whatever economy you live in- please remember that giants walk among you. And we would appreciate a door that's more than four feet tall.

Monday, May 4, 2009


There's a not so long story about my mom's alias.
She wanted to be the Teacher. Bland, informative without being descriptive, and reminds me of oatmeal. (I like oatmeal when I can put enough nuts and brown sugar on it. The key is to put the brown sugar on when the Teacher isn't around because she's sure to think that enough sugar is too much.) I didn't like it much. But I wanted a blog and I wanted it fast, and since I didn't have time to come up with a good compromise, Teacher she is and Teacher she'll stay. Bah.
But there was another name she could have had. A very good name. A name that, if she had only been a little more daring, a little more lenient, a little more oblivious, could have been hers. I loved this name. It was great. It described the awesomeness of the Teacher without being overly worshipful.
[Drum roll here.]
It was: She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed-After-Due-Discourse-And-Debate-And-We've-All-Decided-To-Agree-That-It's-To-Much-Trouble-To-Resist-Her-On-This-One-Unless-The-Suggested-Action-Will-Actually-Be-More-Inconvenient-Than-Doing-Nothing-Or-We-Don't-Feel-Like-It-Right-Now-Or-We-Have-A-Better-Idea-Or-Have-Something-Better-To-Do-Than-This-Or-It's-Just-Plain-A-Bad-Idea-But-Otherwise-Honest-Cross-Our-Hearts-And-Hope-To-Die-We'll-Get-Right-On-This-Imperative-Obedience-Thing.
And she would have been She for short.
It's too bad, isn't it?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Mean Mom(tm)

(Warning: The following post contains OPINIONS. If you suffer from intolerance, hyper-sensitivity, inflexibility, or strong opinions of your own, the following post may be TOXIC. Always consult your common sense before reading.)

I have a Mean Mom.
I've been aware of this for a long time, to one degree or another. For instance, kids my age recoil in horror when they hear our household rules. They look appalled. But I started wondering: what's the difference? Obviously there is one. How do you define the difference between a mean mom and a loving, but, well, Mean Mom? And what about moms that don't have the spine to be any kind of mean? Are there other Mean Moms out there? (The answer is yes. I get excited every time I find a new one. Their kids understand.) If so, how are you supposed to tell?
And so this is what I came up with.
1)The Mean Mom is consistent. This is important. The Mean Mom says what she means and means what she says and she means it for everybody. She might have a different curfew for different ages of children, but all of them better be in bed after lights out. Or Else.
2)The Mean Mom believes in consequences. She won't punish you for the fun of it. But if she asks or expects you to do something (she might not ask you to do your chores every time they need to be done, for instance), and you forget or don't do it, she will not say “Oh, honey, didn't I ask you to (insert here)? Well, it would have been nice to (blah waffle waver blah blah)...” You will never get away with anything when the Mean Mom is on top of things. And the Mean Mom is always on top of things, and definitely on top of you. No one trusts teenagers these days. It's just terrible.
3)The Mean Mom is not your driver. Believe it or not, this parent does not exist to bow down before the whim of the child. She has a life. She will drive her children places, but SHE IS NOT YOUR DRIVER. You better believe it.
4)The Mean Mom is respected. You've seen parents who, when they ask their kid to do something, are ignored. Or if they are obeyed, it's only after multiple repetitions of the order, when the kid senses that mom's about to blow. And even then, the kid will groan and moan and roll their eyes and do the absolute minimum they think they can get away with. Not because they're bad kids, but because this is what they've grown up with. Because their parents have basically said, through words and actions: You don't need to respect/obey me. The Mean Mom is a different animal. If the Mean Mom has to ask you three times, you are in trouble. (Or two times, or five times, or whatever. In my house, it's three.) So the kids may not do something right away, but they will make darn sure they get it done before they're asked again. Not out of fear. Just because, like the other kid, this is what they've grown up with. And the interesting thing? I think kids with Mean Moms treat their parents with more respect, consideration, and love. Because honestly- it's hard to like someone who throws themselves under your feet. All that makes you want to do is to walk on them some more.
5)The Mean Mom leaves a mark. You've met kids who do something the first time they're asked? Who volunteer to do things? Who, when they come over, are the ones to volunteer to set the table for you? Who take you at your word? Odds are, there's a Mean Mom behind the scenes. What the Teacher always tells me when she leaves me someplace is “Be good and have fun and be good and have fun and be good.” She's joking, but she also means it.
6)The Mean Mom is reasonable. This is the most dangerous weapon in the Mean Mom's armory. Don't underestimate it. The Mean Mom lays down the law; but she also says why and wherefore. You are always welcome to disagree with the Mean Mom- respectfully. There have been times when I've even managed to talk her around to my own side. The Mean Mom is open to negotiation. Except, of course, for when she isn't. But when she isn't, she'll tell you she isn't, and she'll even tell you why.
7)The Mean Mom is not arbitrary. See above. She won't flip a coin to settle a sibling dispute. She won't waste time trying to figure out what's 'fair' when she wasn't there and one of the kids has a verbal age advantage over the other. My own mom doesn't try to be fair at all: life isn't fair and she doesn't feel like pretending otherwise. She'll say it's your dispute, you dispute it. And- again, these are our rules, not universal ones- if you do actually fight, you'll get kicked out of the house and whatever it was you were fighting over will not-so-magically go away. Kids are smart. After the first time, people never fight at my house.
8)The Mean Mom is organized. I don't mean that her home is always clean. Otherwise, by process of elimination, I wouldn't have a Mean Mom, and I totally do. But she has a system, and she sticks to it. Sometimes that system is as simple as “You will do what I say, without backtalk or whining, because I am your parent, I love you, I want what's best for you, and above all, because I said so.” Sometimes the system is complicated and involves color coded charts and pie graphs and minute by minute schedules. Well, maybe not the pie graphs.
9)The Mean Mom is flexible. No, really. She doesn't care how you do it. Just do it. And she doesn't care what you're interested in. Just be interested in something. Anything. Although again, this might be something that's more just home-schoolers. I'm interested in being an author. Writing is my passion, my life, my addiction, my every waking thought. And the Teacher's okay with that. Most of the time. She draws the line at letting me cut math.
10)The Mean Mom sticks by what she says. You will never, ever hear a Mean Mom be in the middle of telling someone not to do something, and then go, “Oh, well, I guess if you really want to...”. Admittedly, the Mean Mom is not perfect; no one is. She may change her mind from time to time. She may forget what she said. But she will never say that you're grounded from reading, and then let you spend the rest of the evening finishing a book that's due at the library tomorrow. If you're grounded, you're grounded for a good reason, and she'll say that if you wanted to finish the book you shouldn't have done x, and take it back to the library anyway. Unread. And if you complain, she'll say you can check it out again later. And if you really complain, she'll lengthen your sentence.
11)The Mean Mom does not tolerate tantrums. Or any other kind of misbehavior. If you're a screaming baby, she will not coddle you, or give in to you, or give whatever it is you want to you. She'll put you down for a nap until you're 'ready to be nice'. If you're a snotty teenager, she'll get in your face and tell you when you've just done (or are still doing) something inappropriate, whether to her or to someone else. She doesn't back down.
12)The Mean Mom does not reward bad behavior. That sounds a little strange. Who rewards bad behavior? Just about everybody. When you give someone something because they're nagging or whining at you, you're rewarding bad behavior. When you ignore someone saying a bad word or insulting someone, you're rewarding bad behavior. Bad behavior doesn't necessarily have to be bad; it can be behavior you just don't like. I don't like nick names. A friend tried to give one to me. I refused to look at her or answer or in any way, shape, or form respond when she called me by the nick name. (It was Minny Mouse and I'm six feet tall. Can you blame me?) Since we were in one of those trucks where the person in the back seat has to wait until the person in the front seat gets out before they can get out, this posed something of a problem for her when it was time to drop her off. She never called me Minny Mouse again.
13)The Mean Mom does not interfere. For instance, in the above story: the Teacher was sitting right next to me. At any time- and I know a lot of adults who would do this- she could have gotten tired of waiting and ordered me to get out so the friend could get out. She did not. It was my friend and my nick name and my problem: she let me solve it my own way.
I know a lot of Mean Moms. My aunt is a Mean Mom. Two of my friends from different families have Mean Moms, and I suspect a third girl I don't really know of having a Mean Mom. Almost all the Teacher's home-school mentors were Mean Moms. The Teacher's aunt was a Mean Mom, which is probably how the Teacher became a Mean Mom herself. You probably know a few Mean Moms yourself, either right now or someone you remember from the past.
Because here's the thing: you don't have to like them. Mean Moms aren't in the job to be liked. If they're your friend, that's great. If they aren't, it doesn't really matter to them. Mean Moms are the embodiment of tough love in the home. They're out to turn you into kind, loving, righteous people and responsible, interested (and hopefully interesting) citizens. If you don't enjoy the process, they really could not care less.
And so that's how you recognize a Mean Mom, whether second hand or when you have the opportunity to observe her in her own territory. They are parents on a mission, and if you value your skin, you won't get in the way.
Trust me on this one.
So... Now that it's been cleared up... Do you know a Mean Mom?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bored Isn't My Problem

The Teacher has interesting ideas on the subject of parenting.
One of the big ones is that 'bored isn't my problem'. I have come to consider the word bored as being up there with swear words. If you say it, you'll be really, really sorry. I have a reluctance to say 'I'm bored' that runs almost as deep as my bones. I have said it before. I was usually sorry.
The Teacher is emphatic on this one. She doesn't have a problem with suggesting games or activities when you run out of ideas. But she doesn't feel like trying to entertain people determined to be unentertained. If you've ever babysat (I avoid babysitting like the plague) then you've probably observed this: at a certain point, when they say that they're bored, nothing is going to please them. They've decided to be bored. You could turn cartwheels and they would still be bored.
So the Teacher decided not to just not bother, but to fight actively against boredness.
I can best illustrate this with a (true) story:
Once upon a time, long ago and far away (we've moved), there was a little girl. One day this little girl invited her friends over to come play. For the first hour, all went well. They played cops and robbers, built castles in the trees, played house, and then played feuding houses. (Think Romeo and Juliet without the plot.) But then- horror! Disaster struck!
The little girl's friends became... bored. The little girl was upset, and even a little scared. She knew, even with her little mind, where this was heading. She suggested games that should have made them jump for joy, crafts that could have kept them busy for hours, activities that would have saved them all from the impending disaster.
The little girl's friends were dissatisfied. They were bored; far be it from them to fix it themselves. So, they decided to call on a higher authority.
“Let's go ask your mom,” one of them said. “Maybe she'll have some good ideas.”
The little girl couldn't have been more upset if they had said “Let's launch a nuclear missile and see what happens.” (Mostly because she didn't know what nuclear missiles were back then.) She was struck nearly wordless by the sheer badness of this idea. It was a bad time to be wordless; the little girl's friends were not deterred by mere gesturing, jumping up and down, and wringing of hands.
So. They could not be stopped. The went, they asked, they launched the nuclear missle.
The Teacher was most understanding. They were bored; they needed something to do.
What a happy coincidence! The dishwasher needed to be loaded.
The little girl's friends, now that the deed was done, repented and tried to back out. The Teacher was not so lenient. They obviously needed something to do; they were bored; this could not be allowed to stand.
So it was that the little girl's friends and the little girl (she considered this unfair- she had been smart enough to not be bored) loaded the dishwasher. The little girl's friends muttered darkly, but not as darkly as the little girl. “I told you,” she muttered. “I told you so!”
The End.
Oh, and the epilogue of my story: those friends still didn't do a good job of listening to me, and they were still stricken with boredness from time to time, but at least they never told the Teacher so again.
The result (or moral) of my little story is that I am almost never bored. There are times when I could wish for a more stimulating and exciting environment, and times when I'm not enjoying myself, but I don't get bored.
Because even though I'm taller than she is, and much older than that little girl, the Teacher still rules with an iron ruler, and there are still plenty of chores to be done.


My name is not Peaches but that's what I'm called here. I'm sixteen, a Junior in high school, homeschooled, and otherwise just weird. I don't like pickles. I'm over six feet tall and don't do sports.
My parents are a large percentage of my daily human contact, so they need to be introduced too. My dad will be called the Principal, and you'll just have to learn about him as we go along.
My mom's name is the Teacher. As in, 'Patience, Grasshopper.'
This is about us. Well, primarily about me. But there'll be quite a lot about us, too.
I hope you enjoy it.