must love dragons (an actual title)

When I should've been reading Catcher in the Rye this weekend, I was instead reading horribly exaggerated and cheesy romance novels. Four of them, to be exact. You may wonder why I would choose to gorge myself on bad writing and brain-cell-killing-plots, and actually, so am I. All it gave me was a headache and a reason to pout.

Not to sound cynical or anything, but whoever created romance novels, perfect man, scenic setting, and all, are full of crap. I always take the time to read the author's biography in the back for some reason, and inevitably I find out that they are "living happily in [insert obscure small town here] with their own prince charming" or some such cutesy thing. What fresh hell is that? How did they divine this fantastical, completely unrealistic idea of love and devotion from such a normal little life? That is really what I would pay money to know, because I can assure you that their husbands probably spend more time working in a dimly-lit cubicle then courting them with four dozen red roses a day, and I'm pretty sure none of their names are ridiculously manly-sounding, like Jed or Blaine or Sterling.

When you combine these ideals with fantasy, it gets even worse. Dragons can actually morph into your perfect soul mate, according to these books. So can vampires, who are in fact unbelievably sensitive about your abhorrence of blood, according to these books. And if a rugged, darkly-handsome man tries to kill you in an alley one night, he is probably some poor member of an ancient race of supernatural warriors with a tortured soul and a soft heart, again, according to these fine pieces of literature.

What I'm getting at here is that fantasy romance novels are pure drivel, and should probably be avoided at all costs. Save yourself from an aching head and unrealistic expectations about love. Just read Catcher in the Rye and call it a day.



I've just recently realized that I really, really like politics. It took me by surprise. Up until a few months ago, I was one of those people - the ones that are simultaneously annoyed at and bored with any mention of anything remotely political. Whenever anyone around me would try to interject a sneaky, politically-toned comment into everyday conversation, I would basically do the cover-your-ears-and-go-la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you thing.

Looking back, I guess my initial attitude towards politics was one of exasperation, and I don't think I'm alone in that. My limited understanding of it all gave me the impression that politics automatically equaled snide, trivial backstabbing, rifts between friends, and shouting. And then in came Patrick. Not that he immediately canceled my knee-jerk reaction to politics, unfortunately for him (he really likes talking about politics...sorry for all the eye rolls of the past), but he did eventually get me to absorb a little bit of what really went on in politics. The more I knew, the more I liked it, the more I wanted to talk to other people about it and see what they thought.

I hope it's obvious that I don't fancy myself completely knowledgeable in politics, because I'm definitely not. But, I do have more solidly-based opinions, and a shockingly strong interest in all things political. What most surprises me is how much I look forward to reading those crazy Time magazine articles, or how much time I find myself spending on watching the debates, or, most surprising of all, how much I actually do care about it all.

This small epiphany has probably been fueled by the hugeness that is this election of 2008. There's really no way to go about your daily business without hearing something - anything - about it. Hopefully, it helps spark the same interest in younger people in this country that formerly resided within the select few. It'd be awfully nice if the otherwise-screwed (think about our economy, our environment, our foreign relations...and the predicted paths of space debris) Generation X and younger started to collectively care about what goes on.


it's hard to leave all these moments behind

I am not used to being on my own. As awful as it sounds, it's the truth - for right now, at least. I'm lucky (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) enough to have a load of crutches in my life. My family, my closest friends, and someone who has been extremely close to me for about three years now. I lean on them shamelessly. When I have a crap day, I call them and whine. I cry on their shoulders. I blow up at them because I'm stressed. I look to them for encouragement. And, they are never absent. Even if I've been on my own two feet for a while, when the going gets tough, I hobble rather quickly back to my crutches.
Since you're reading this, you know me, and I'm pretty sure you know that recently one of my constant crutches has bitten the dust. It's broken. I guess you could say I'm okay with keeping that splintered one around, in a case maybe, so I'm not tempted to try to repair it too well. So it's great to still have it nearby, and maybe in the future I'll be able to delicately lean on it again, but it's not quite the same. I have been almost exclusively leaning on that crutch for the past few years, and I always had the greatest of faith that it would and could hold me up. But things change, and now I find myself staggering on my feet a little bit. I'm weaker now without my crutch. There are times when I regain my balance and take a few tottering steps, but there are also the days when I fall flat on my face because I realize it's gone for good. Those are the tough days.
One benefit to losing this primary crutch, if there indeed are any at all, is that my other crutches have proven to be just as sturdy - if not more. They refuse to let me fall, and they were all right there to support me when the other one busted. For that, I love them eternally and am indebted to them.
It's not such a bad thing to have crutches at all, come to think of it. I guess I'm just worried that I depend on them a bit too much, especially as of late. Soon, it'll be high time for me to stop letting them bear my weight. I know they will still be there just in case of a slight relapse, but I don't want to burden them any more.
I'd like to be independent again. I'd like to feel secure, even without that crutch that I let define who I was. I'd like to be somewhat happy on my own.


loch raven

So, here's something new - my first non-college essay blog! Granted, I should really be getting started on the million and one notebook responses I have to do for AP English...but such is life.

First off, I want to put out a little disclaimer. There's nothing on this blog that will be philosophically groundbreaking, or extremely personal, or brilliantly innovative. Most likely, it'll be a big, disorganized mess of random thoughts and speculations. In other words, it'll reflect my life lately.

Now that you have that little tidbit safely stashed away, here we go.

This might sound pretty "hippie-dippy", as our dear AP Bio teacher so shudderingly calls anything slightly deep, but I've always felt like autumn is my spring. It's my time for rebirth, rejuvenation, and general reassessment of my life. I'd imagine this is how some people feel during springtime, the ideal period for new beginnings, when everything is green and fresh and about to bloom and all that good symbolic stuff. But that particular season doesn't really do anything for me. It's autumn that makes me take a big step back and take a good, hard look at my life and what's going on around me. It's autumn that makes me fall (...no pun intended) even more in love with nature and running and everything good in my life. It's autumn that allows me to finally work up the courage and confidence to do whatever it is I need to. And, especially as of late, that "it" is namely starting over. The stark physical beauty of autumn especially reinforces my thoughts on this issue, which has slowly budged its unwelcome way into my life. When I feel that harsh first bite of an almost-frost force fresh air into my lungs, or when I see the leaves not fading quietly into death but instead blooming into vibrant color as their season comes to a close, I start to think that fall itself was always intended to be more of a promising beginning than a bitter ending.

It's almost time for my personal autumn to start. And, for the first time in quite a few years, I think I'm ready.


see below

Here's another. Again, I remind you that these will not be printed and spirited away into big white envelopes to my top-choice schools. These are just to get the writing ball rolling.

At the moment, I have a bit of a dilemma. There seem to be a few baby insects in my room, and I'm not quite sure where they've come from. And when I say that I mean that there is currently an army-sized horde of mysterious bugs swarming over my carpet and I think they may have been placed in my room as punishment from some very cruel god.
I don't know what to do with them, exactly. Obviously, they can't stay in my bedroom, running rampant on their spindly little legs and - claws?! Those are definitely pincers. Now I'm convinced. I'm being punished. Of all the baby animals to show up unannounced in my bedroom in all their infantile glory, why ones with pincers?
After careful analysis (from a safe distance), it turns out they're preying mantis babies. At least the identification crisis is over...now, what to do with them? I can't kill them or exterminate them in any other way. That's simply out of the question. I don't kill things. It's just not an option.

There appear to be more of them. A courageous few are steadily scaling my amplifier cords. The rest are exploring the vast tundra of white carpet, and they're moving right along. This is a dire situation. If they spread out, I might not find them all, and that could be very, very bad. I like bugs, and I like preying mantises especially, but not as roommates.
Upon consulting the shelf that I fill with things I find outside (affectionately referred to in my house as "Ali's dead shelf"), including enough feathers to replicate Icarus' project if I was so inclined, woodchuck jawbones with teeth painstakingly glued into place, and a multitude of rocks, I finally discover the culprit source: a tiny oval-shaped pod that I thought looked "interesting" (the kiss of death when concerning anything unidentifiable) when I found it a few weeks ago. It's writhing complacently in its designated spot on my shelf as tiny, perfect preying mantis babies emerge from it and begin their pilgrimage across my room.
After several hours spent in close proximity to my bug house, the preying mantises, and a piece of paper (if you ever need to pick up extremely small bugs, or just insects in general, invest in one), I'm pretty sure I've rounded them all up. I've done my duty as an animal lover; they've all been delivered safely to the holly bush in the front yard.

Wait, there's another...and another. My guests are still showing up in various corners and crevices of the room, and I have a feeling that the next few days will be plagued with baby insects in need of rescue. I guess that's what you get for having a dead shelf.

brave new blog

I cringe to use my first post in the way I am about to, because I'm afraid it will look like a convenience blog. In using it right away for displaying my college essays to the general uninterested public, I am not only giving it an air of blatant non-creativity, I am also unabashedly copy-catting my best friend Molly. What can I say? It's a grand idea on Molly's part, it's a good way to critique your own writing, and I really need to get rolling on the college essays. So, I will charm you with my innate sense of creativity and artistic vision later. For now, this is more for myself than anything. Don't feel obliged to read (but if you do, please tell me what you think).

I am no longer afraid of graveyards. Those hold-your-breath-'til-you're-past days are long gone. Now I'm just petrified of driving in them.
When I was a tender eleven years old, my neighbor's grandfather, a jovial man who religiously drinks chili powder in his tea and is a dead ringer for Santa Claus, decided it was time we learned how to drive. Into the family van we piled, excited to an unhealthy degree about this forbidden taste of teenage-hood.
This was no joy ride, however. Papa put us through the paces with grave intensity and detailed instruction. The poor minivan bucked and screeched its way through the alarmingly narrow cemetery path as we received strict direction and commentary, the most memorable of which echoes in the dark recesses of my brain to this day. This particular reproof came from an extremely serious Papa after, having slightly cut a turn, I intruded a few inches into the space of a resident of the graveyard.
"See now, if that had been a mother with a baby carriage right there-" he paused to gesture grimly at the newly-formed rut- "know what would've happened?"
He smugly paused here again, his wide-eyed stare boring into my very soul. Hesitantly, I shook my head.
"Mashed POTATOES!" he yelled, adding a well-timed hand clap.
With this poignant exclamation, he settled back into the passenger seat calmly and, waiting patiently until I had detached myself from the ceiling of the van, motioned for me to continue driving.
A multitude of alarmed shouts and dramatic warnings later, we returned safely home, sufficiently traumatized and exceedingly proud of ourselves for getting a jump start on honing our driving expertise. Years later, I discovered that the very same cemetery where I'd been initiated into the the world of driving was rumored to be haunted. But for me, the thing that sends a shiver down my spine when I drive (carefully) past that graveyard today has nothing to do with ghosts. It has to do with the remembrance of two innocent words uttered on a pretty autumn day: mashed potatoes.