The Freshman of the Opera

Sometimes I like to think of my life as an opera.

I’ve never actually seen an opera, unless you count the movie The Phantom of the Opera, but I assume that they are basically just musicals where the actors sing in a more extravagant fashion. Not that my life is extravagant, per se, but still.

My opera is filled with minor highs and lows in the beginning, floating along like Fur Elise before dramatically dropping into a sea of churning Tchaikovsky notes, moving so rapidly that the sudden plunge into an interlude gives one the sensation of standing on a bus that has just slammed its brakes.

Following this pattern chronologically, my high school career could be summarized as the rise after an interlude. (It certainly felt like it at the time, anyway.)

Freshman year found me a terrified fourteen-year old who clung to the few girls who weren’t embarrassed to be seen with me. I had a devastating crush on a boy in my Biology class, and unwittingly signed up for a journalism class, despite having no interest in journalism and crippling social anxiety. My wardrobe was an odd combination of body-shielding t-shirts/sweats and figure-hugging tank tops and jeans. I was torn between wanting everyone to notice me, and wanting to go completely unnoticed. (In hindsight, this may be something I still struggle with today.)

Sophomore year was the year of sharp turns and quick changes. My previously awkward and almost painfully appropriate relationship changed to something that Sandals Guy and I probably should’ve gotten referrals for in less than a week. Hormones are weird, and boys are even weirder. I still craved attention like a cat craves the red glow-y dot, but reacted poorly in almost every instance where I was given any significant amount of it. Like an elephant in the wild, I completely abandoned my herd to cling to a potential mate, which in my case, actually worked out fairly well.

Junior year encompassed the height of my high school career, wherein I was was forced to work harder than ever before in some classes while completely blowing other classes off. I gradually began to acquire friendly acquaintances and successfully curbed my instinctive rudeness. I began to seriously consider the future for the first time.

And now, the pièce de résistance, my senior year. First semester seems to be the climax of the story, in which the musical undertones present throughout the opera all suddenly seem to fall into place, and the main protagonist learns what it is she must do, immediately followed by a depressing and lengthy interlude. But she returns, sword in hand and wounds healed, to finish the battle she started. I guess we’ll see what happens in the end.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that my life is not a movie or an opera, that there will be no credits rolling when I graduate, no Judd Nelson to fist-pump his way into the sunset, that the story will continue. I used to think that it was just a poorly written story, that I didn’t care how it would end…

But I think I’m too much of nerd to not wait around and find out.

Cats

A Midsummer M. Night’s Dream

((To answer your question, no, I’m never going to get tired of making “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” jokes.”))

As a self-proclaimed cinephile, I’ve seen my fair share of awful movies.

Dorky Katherine Heigl romcoms, cheesy action flicks, anything starring Keanu Reeves, you name it, I’ve at least heard of it. Maybe I was raised in front of a TV, but now I serve as a fully functioning walking IMDb of horrible television. And what else could be expected of a girl whose favorite movie as a child featured The Rock riding around on a camel?

Alas, not all horrible movies can be unintentionally hilarious.

Take, for example, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. This movie made me seriously wonder how some films are put together. Did anyone at all watch the movie before it went to theaters, or did they just edit it all together and say “Yup, looks good!” Did they accidentally set fire to the good footage, leaving us only with these crappy outtakes? I know for a fact that there is no way M. Night ever watched the original show. He probably just glanced at the Wikipedia page and went from there. The script is awful, the acting is atrocious, and the characters, which originally are easily relate-able and original, fall disappointingly flat. The movie’s one saving grace is that of Shaun Toub, who I thought did a lovely job portraying Uncle Iroh (despite mispronouncing his character’s own name and being a different ethnicity entirely than that of the cartoon Iroh) in spite of the circumstances.

The Last Airbender is one of those once-in-a-lifetime movies that can make one so angry, sad, disappointed, and slightly nauseated while simultaneously making one marvel at the sheer fact that something so horrible was ever allowed to exist in the first place, like Frankenstein’s Monster, or Justin Bieber.

But honestly, I’m just thankful that Keanu Reeves wasn’t in it.

Malcolm and Me

Sometimes I think about the people watching me.

I wonder how they do it. Is there a giant screen somewhere with my face on it? Do they record it, and then play it all back later? Or do they assign one worker to, say, five people, and then that person is responsible for making sure that their five people are not terrorists. I hope that the last one is true, because that actually sounds fairly efficient.

I’ll assume the person watching me is a man. Mid-thirties, maybe forty. Glasses. A bag of Cheetos on his lap, half dead with boredom. Let’s call him Malcolm. (I like naming things, in case you hadn’t noticed.)

Dear Malcolm,

If you’ve been watching me for a while, you’ve probably figured a few things out about me. For one, I’m a teenage girl with a lovely white wall behind me who sits in bed and, for the most part, stares blankly into the computer screen. I hope I haven’t stared into your soul or anything. I wouldn’t want to invade your privacy. (*cold stare*)

You might also be confused about a few things, if you read my browser history. No, I am not pregnant, and no, I am not a serial killer, or a bomb maker, or a terrorist. I am a writer, and sometimes I have to do basic Google searches such as “unique and pretty baby names”, “how to dispose of a dead body”, “how to quickly build a bomb”, and “if one were, hypothetically, planning to assassinate the president, what would be the best way to go about doing so?”

Another question you may have is, “Jordan, why do you always look like a Neanderthal when you concentrate?” The answer is, that is what my face naturally looks like, and I don’t know why.

Do you enjoy your job? Are you paid well? I hope so. I hope you live in a lovely home or apartment and have access to all the best movies Netflix can offer. Do you watch Bob’s Burgers? I highly recommend it.

Aside from all of that, I applaud you on your tireless efforts to stop terrorism, and only ask that you respect my personal privacy. I promise that when that guy comes over and we seem to be speaking in low murmurs, we really are not planning nefarious plots against the country. (Spoiler alert: We’re kissing.)

With all due respect, and with more patriotism than seems necessary,

Psychopath Pregnant Neanderthal Girl

 

A Midwinter Night’s Drink

It was a dark and snowy night.

Through the thin drywall and plywood, Jordan listened carefully for any sign of human intelligence which might hinder her trip to the kitchen. This was a dangerous and possibly deadly mission, but it was necessary. She couldn’t let her team down — not again.

On the other side of the wall, there was silence. Well, not really silence. She could hear the fish tank containing the Louises and the pop-cracking of the fire. The point is that other than that, there was no other sound. She quietly unlocked her door. This was the part when it could all go wrong. If her door made even the slightest noise, she could be mauled by the guard dogs. So carefully, and as slowly as possible, she opened the door and peered out into the hallway. Dark. Perfect.

Sidestepping down the corridor, she kept her breath slow and steady. It would not do to get distracted, like Stewart did on their last mission. Poor soldier’s eye was caught for just a moment by a Tiger Beat magazine, and next thing they knew he was lost in the supermarket. Jordan had to tell his family, his weeping wife clutching the tabloid to her chest.

Her resolve strengthened.

The next obstacle she would face came in the form of the gate at the end of the hallway. It was waist-high, meant to keep things out, but now it served to keep Jordan in. She peered through the darkness, desperately trying to find the small shape of the (hopefully) sleeping dogs. She sighed internally. It was too dark. Thankfully she knew the layout of this room by heart, and slowly raised a leg to step over the gate.

Snap!

She froze. Her hip had popped! She waited, anticipating the claws and teeth to snatch her ankle. None came.

Each minute seemed an eternity before Jordan decided that she hadn’t, in fact, woken the dogs. She slowly released the breath she had been holding, and continued on.

Once she had made her way over the gate, the rest of the mission seemed smooth sailing. Creep into the kitchen, acquire a glass from the cabinet, and fill it with the sweet tea undoubtedly sitting in the refrigerator. Nothing she hadn’t practiced before in Basic Training.

She felt the hardwood floor change to tile under her feet, and knew she was going the right way. Three steps forward, two steps right, and her arm was brushing the counter top. She opened the sleek cabinet door without a hitch, and recovered the first glass her hand closed around. She carefully closed the door and wiped the sheen of sweat from her forehead. Almost done.

Jordan clasped the handle on the refrigerator and pulled, thinking only of the ice cold beverage she would soon be enjoying, when there was suddenly a loud suction-y sound, the room filling with light.

Oh, no! She’d forgotten about the refrigerator light! She could hear the sounds of claws slapping against the floor, and knew the dogs were coming for her. Two paws hit her directly in the lower abdomen, hopefully not puncturing the skin. Another two paws scraped up and down her legs, and Jordan was intensely thankful that she was wearing her thick-padded pajama armor. The dogs made loud whining sounds, jumping up and down and digging their claws into her most vulnerable parts. The smaller one started howling.

Falling back, she ran into the cabinets and began to despair. She had failed. There would be no sweet beverage for her tonight, only the wounds inflicted upon her and the bitter sting of defeat. It wasn’t fair. All she had wanted was a midnight snack, a treat for completing the eighth season of Supernatural — wait. A treat!

A treat! Jordan’s eyes lit up in the dark. Maybe all was not lost! Fighting against the dogs, she made her way to the island and blindly grabbed around. There it was! A cardboard box containing none other than doggy treats.

She reached inside and grabbed two, handing one to the dog piercing her stomach, and the other to the dog licking between her toes. Happily, the dogs ran away to munch on their snacks, giving just enough time for Jordan to pull the tea pitcher out, fill her glass, and run back to her room.

Slamming the door behind her, Jordan collapsed to the ground, careful not to spill her drink. A single tear dripped, unbidden, from her dewy eyelashes.

“This was for you, Stewart.” She raised her glass in honor, and tearfully took the first sip.  

 

HALO: A User’s Guide

Ever wanted to play the riveting HALO series of video games? Intimidated by your lack of knowledge on the subject of MMORPGs? Not to worry! This blog post will tell you everything you could possibly need to know. So pull out your GameCube and let’s get started!

The HALO series was invented by a young Japanese bartender named Hideki Ryuga and his feisty boyfriend Yagami Raito. (The same duo which would later go on to invent the successful Microsoft corporation.) The two loved to shoot guns in their free time, however, after Yagami’s arrest for attempted murder, were forced to find an alternative outlet for their enthusiasm. After Hideki designed and processed the game, he presented it to Yagami as an anniversary present. The game was sold to the Mishima Zaibatsu for $4.5 million, and later distributed to the United States, as they knew that Americans would love a way to shoot one another without serving prison time. 

HALO is a game played by many hundreds of thousands around the world, but the vast majority of players are white men between the ages of ten to fifteen, and twenty-five to fifty. Very few of these players have any education beyond a high school diploma, so one must be careful when initiating conversation. Common situations new players find themselves in are: 1. Being screamed at. 2. Being threatened with violence. 3. The use of profanity. 4. Sexual harassment. Almost all of these situations are avoidable, thanks to the handy-dandy MUTE button. Remember: if he don’t sound cute, hit the mute. 

One question asked by many who are new to the HALO games is “Why can’t I see my character’s face?” Well, the answer to that lies in a lawsuit filed way back in 2005, when HALO was first being introduced to Western culture. Back then, all the characters were made to look exactly like the real-life person behind the screen, which caused a backlash when all of the thin people could use their aerodynamic advantage and run faster. Also, grossly overweight characters were an estimated 400 times easier to snipe. All of this, of course, changed when a young woman sued HALO because she was constantly harassed for being ugly. The courts ruled that, to prevent anything like this from happening again, all characters would be nameless, faceless, and basically indistinguishable from one another, except for by helmets and armor, which all basically look the same, anyway. 

When it comes to gameplay, there are only three basic rules. One, shoot as many people as you possibly can. Do not try to distinguish between teams or races, just blindly shoot into the crowd for maximum points. Two, if someone says something unkind to you, the proper reaction is to threaten the safety of his family and walk away. It’s better to be safe than sorry. An alternate way to handle this situation (if one is a follower of a peaceful religion, such as Buddhism or the Society of Friends) is to calmly walk up to the offending player and babble nonsensically until he leaves. And last but not least, make sure that you camp next to places where players might re-spawn, and kill them before they even realize where they are. This is one sure-fire way to gain respect and prestige among the gaming community. 

I hope that this short guide has been beneficial to you. Now, go out there and kill that Lich King! 

Word Vomit: December 1st, 2013

I am officially afraid of nothing. 

Yesterday I gathered up my courage, logged on to Netflix and watched The Human Centipede 2. I’m so proud of myself! It wasn’t nearly as scary as Tumblr had led me to believe. In fact, it was actually a really terrible movie. I was really disappointed.

Keeping with the spirit of the day, however, I and Sandals Guy watched American Mary, which was fantastic and I loved. It even passed the Bechdel Test! I found myself rooting for Mary the whole movie, which is rare in this genre. It’s so easy to go with the traditional villain/hero contrast, especially in slasher horror, and pull a Jason or Michael Myers. It’s so much more thematically interesting, however, to blur the lines between good and evil. Take “The Silence of the Lambs”, for instance. If you actually pay attention, you can see that Hannibal Lecter isn’t even the villain, Buffalo Bill is! That’s what makes the story so fascinating: Lecter isn’t scary because he eats people, he’s scary because he eats people and you still find yourself taking his side. We need more of that in the horror genre. 

It’s a lot of fun to watch scary movies with people who are easily frightened, especially if they don’t admit to being scared. Sandals Guy closed his eyes several times and even suggested turning off the movie during American Mary, while I’m bouncing up and down in excited rapture. Of course, after watching THC2, this movie almost felt like a romantic comedy.

Maybe I should widen my literary horizons and attempt to write horror. And not just gore for the sake of gore; I’m talking about tasteful, suspenseful, subtle stories that make one slightly uneasy and then linger in the back of their mind for weeks afterward. Especially if I could throw in just a dash of psychological fear, that’d be great. I did write a short story for American Literature about a ghost/demon; maybe I should pull that back out and revamp it. I don’t know, I guess I’ve been limiting myself to young adult, coming-of-age, John Green type stuff. Perhaps I’d do better to channel Thomas Harris or Stephen King. 

Boy, sometimes I wonder about myself…

Captain Quirk, for the USS Enterprise

I’ve been described many times in my relatively short life as “quirky.” Most of the time, it was the politest way for an adult to tell another adult that they thought I was weird. 

Honestly, I was a weird kid. I am an amalgamation of the best of late 90′s television, early 2000′s music, a strict religious upbringing, and having the bulk of my childhood friends be either 50+ years old, or Labradors. Top that off with being allowed to watch Japanese cartoons late at night, and it’s amazing I turned out this normal. For time’s sake, I will only go into the three most obvious of my personality quirks.

First, I have this weird obsession with shutting doors. I don’t know why, but for some reason, if I’m in a room, I feel the overwhelming need to have the door shut. There’s probably some deep-seated psychological reason for this, but I can’t figure it out. I even have to lock my door when I sleep, because it’s the only way to be 100% sure no one will open it while I sleep. My parents do like to torture me by pointedly leaving doors wide open, though, especially in the bathroom when the washer/dryer are running. I mean, come on!

Second, I am a horror/psychological thriller/criminal justice fanatic. I think it all started when I was about 12, and mom bought me “The Silence of the Lambs” movie to show me how scary it was. I ended up loving it so much, I got the entire book series. Hannibal Lecter was, and is to this day, my favorite fictional character ever created. From then on, I’ve searched and scoured for the scariest movie ever, and have only found one movie too intimidating for me to watch. (It’s The Human Centipede 2. I’m sure I’ll conquer it one day, though.) I laughed through the entire SAW series, as well as Insidious and the Paranormal Activities. Very rarely do I find quality horror, but when I do, it’s like Christmas! I think it says a lot about a person when they ask their grandparents for a season of Criminal Minds for their birthday. Not a lot of people understand this one, and the ones that do I’ve found generally aren’t as enthusiastic as I am. 

Third, for whatever reason, I am capable of explaining myself an estimated 48 bajillion times better in writing than through speech. Conversationally, I am inept, almost to the point of stupidity. Yet give me a keyboard and suddenly I can structure a lecture that would make some tenured professors weep in awe (just don’t expect me to say it out loud.) Maybe I should just carry a keyboard with me wherever I go, and type instead of speaking, like Steven Hawking. Speaking through computer screens is so much safer than interacting with… other humans

There are many, many more, but some are kind of embarrassing. I will save us all some discomfort by ending with a quote from Roman Payne: “All forms of madness, bizarre habits, awkwardness in society, general clumsiness, are justified in the person who creates good art.”

Word Vomit: November 24th, 2013

I’ve been listening to a unhealthy amount of Lorde lately.

When I first told my mom that, she quickly replied, “The Holy Father?!” She was afraid I was telling her that I had been listening to God a lot, which would mean that she’d need to contact my psychologist.

While it would be pretty cool to hear from a deity, (since I’m pretty sure that would make me a prophet) I’m referring to Lorde the artist. She’s a seventeen year old girl from New Zealand, and I will forever compare myself to her. When I had my long hair, I liked to think she and I could be twins. Or, at the very least, cousins. She writes the best songs. Sometimes, I just look up the lyrics to her songs and read them like poems. 

Speaking of poems, my mother has recently started writing poetry. Her poems aren’t bad, really, it’s just they’re clearly the work of someone who doesn’t write a lot. She gets discouraged easily, so I’m trying to be as supportive as possible and keep my (albeit constructive) criticism to myself. No one is very good at anything, starting out. 

I think that poetry is a lot like sushi, or blue cheese. It’s an acquired taste. One either understands how to approach it with time, or not. I’ve been trying to understand more things lately. For instance, I read some of the Qu’ran today, because I’d never read any of it before. I think it’s important to try and expose oneself to as many different cultures and ideas as possible, to avoid narrow-mindedness and ignorance.  

If I could get paid generate characters and basic story plots, I’m pretty sure I could be rich. In a way, my current novel is like Sandals Guy; I’ve stuck with them for a while, and sometimes I have to remind myself why this is the one I chose to stick with, and not any of the others. It’s not like I haven’t had any other novel ideas. I just like this one the best. 

Will I ever finish this book? I really, really want to. Maybe I’ll be like Tolkien, writing one book every two or three decades. Maybe by the time I finish, I’ll be so much older than my main character that I can’t relate to her anymore. That’s kind of scary. 

I have way too much time on my hands. I need to do something productive.

Word Vomit: November 11th, 2013

I love winter. You know how much I love winter? A lot more than you’d probably understand. I love quilts and sweaters and snow and heated blankets and not sweating. I love winter so much I am seriously considering relocating my whole life to another place — country, even — where it’s ALWAYS winter. You know that evil queen in Narnia who made it always winter? Yeah, I’m like her. Except I don’t terrorize the local fauna. I may or may not have been a Siberian Husky in a previous life.

So I’m at home now, not attending school but still doing schoolwork because of reasons. I’m adjusting to some medication and it makes me feel really weird and I think it might be affecting my writing ability. I’m not sure, though. I honestly don’t know what I do all day, except think things and forget them ten minutes later. I’m afraid if I don’t write this down, I’ll forget this, too. I don’t know why I’d need to remember it, but I feel like I should. I’m going back to the doctor tomorrow, and then I have to go to the high school to order my cap and gown. I’m really not looking forward to that. Ugh, I’ll have to put on makeup and do my hair and just… ugh. And I know I’m gonna see people and they’re gonna be like, “What happened to you? Why aren’t you at school? Are you pregnant? Do you have like cancer or something?” and I’m gonna have to awkwardly smile and explain the situation with as few details as possible. 

The thing about mental illness is that it isn’t tangible, you know? Like, if my leg is broken, I can see it’s broken, and so can every one else. I know exactly where the pain is coming from, and what we need to do to make the pain go away. There is absolutely no question that my leg is broken. But with mental illness, especially the kind I have, people can’t see that unless I call attention to it. And I don’t like to call attention to it, because it feels like I’m just whining about problems that like everybody deals with. People tell me that all the time, too. “Everybody gets depressed.” So what ends up happening is that no one can see what part of me is broken, and I can’t identify where the pain is coming from.

I feel really distant. I know I have to get some work done, and I want to, but my vision has been kind of blurry lately. Also, I’ve been getting headaches, and I’ve noticed my peripheral vision isn’t that great. And sometimes I get really jittery, like constantly moving my fingers and shaking my legs jittery. It’s hard to focus on Oscar Wilde when the whole universe feels different than it did a week ago. I know that it’s really the other way around, but it feels like everything has changed except for my mind. It’s hard to seem normal when you feel like that, I guess. I need to write a couple of essays, but I don’t know if I can write like I used to. My mind just isn’t making the words anymore. And I’ve been getting really distracted. I have “Suspicious Minds” stuck in my head right now, and it’s all I can think about. I’m afraid I’ll start writing an essay and start talking about how we can’t go on together with suspicious minds (suspicious minds!). If you know what I’m talking about, I hope you have that song stuck in your head as well now. We’ll suffer together.

I hear bagpipes in the other room. I better go investigate.This will be all for today. 

(edit: The bagpipe music ended suddenly when I entered the room. The investigation is still ongoing.)

Jordan’s Bucket List

1. Write a book

- I’m already working on this one, actually. I have a book completely planned out, and the rough draft of about seven chapters finished. I’ve been working on it for almost two years, and I really hope to finish it someday. I also have many more ideas that I can’t wait to develop into books.

2. Visit Europe, specifically Ireland, Finland, and Denmark.

- I love European history. I’m part Northern Irish, so I’d love to visit Belfast. Finland would be a great place to visit; learn some of the language first-hand, get a cabin up in Lapland and watch the Aurora Borealis, maybe even see a reindeer! Also, I’d like to go to Denmark… I’ve heard really good things about it. I’m not too crazy about the language, but it’s at least interesting to compare to German. Denmark sounds like a nice place to live, from what I’ve heard.   

3. Have my own place to live

- I’m sure this isn’t too difficult to understand. I just don’t want to be dependent on my parents my whole life. And to control my own groceries. 

4. Own Miniature Schnauzers

- Growing up with Schnauzers made the breed really grow on me. I want two, so my house will feel full even if it’s just me and the dogs. Plus, who ever heard of a crazy dog lady? 

5. Learn to speak Finnish

- Finnish is such a beautiful language. It’s the only one to have more vowels regularly used than consonants. It’s mysterious, too, because no one really knows where it originated from. People used to think it was related to Russian, but it turns out that it actually has more in common with Hungarian. And Hungary isn’t even near Finland! How did that happen?! Plus, Tolkien used Finnish as his inspiration for Quenya, which I think is really cool. 

6. Get another tattoo

- I have the kanji for beauty tattooed on my ankle. I think it’d be cool to have a Lord of the Rings quote in Tengwar on my arm, though. Or maybe Nordic runes. Or a watercolor tattoo. Basically, I just want a tattoo that means something to me.

7. Obtain a Doctorate in something

- This isn’t so much something I HAVE to do before I die, but I do think it’d be pretty cool to be a Doctor of something. I’m not sure what, yet. The obvious choices are creative writing or linguistics, but there really isn’t much I could do with either of those unless I wanted to teach (which I’m not sure if I do or not because I really dislike public speaking but love talking about things that I am passionate about.) On any given day, I lean heavily towards one or the other, so I’m not sure which I really like better. I guess I’ll have to decide, though.

8. Have a kid or two

- My mother would murder me if I didn’t give her grandchildren to spoil. And motherhood isn’t something I’m opposed to, really, I mean, I’ve been prepping myself to be a housewife from the time I was born to my early teens. I guess I just want to be absolutely sure I have the time and patience to devote to my children before I have them. In any case, having kids isn’t something I want to do for a LONG time. If I have kids in four or five years, that means something has gone horribly wrong with my life, and I invite you to shoot me. Because I’ll probably want you to.

9. Learn to fiddle

- Or the banjo; whichever Sandals Guy is less likely to dump me over. Probably the fiddle, then. 

10. Have a wardrobe consisting entirely of over-sized sweaters/cardigans/pullovers, leggings, and knee-high boots. 

- This is why I want to move somewhere cold. Tropical climates are nice, but staying there too long could stifle my love for long sleeves.