why i’m not in English 9

My fourteen year-old sister asked me to write an essay for her. It’s due tomorrow, and she just doesn’t want to write it. Understandable, right? I can sympathize. So I went ahead and wrote the paper, almost exactly complying with the guidelines she sent me. I mean, I only changed the thesis statement from ‘Homeschooling is a nice alternative to public school’ to ‘The mythical creature known only as Grace is a very real and dangerous creature.’ Almost the same thing, right? Below is a copy of the paper, written in fifteen minutes or so, which will (hopefully) make my sister a very satisfied and homework-free young woman.

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I didn’t actually proofread this…

Sometimes you just hope beyond hope.

You plan beyond the impossible and you do your very best not to get yourself into a position where a letdown is going to let all of the air out of your sails. You know it will hurt, a little, if things fall through like you know they probably will, because that’s how letdowns work, but you brace yourself for the impact so that it doesn’t capsize you.

But some days your hope gets realized.

The pieces of your impossible dream settle in and you end up with a coherent possibility. A reality, if you can call it that despite the inevitability of life to catch you by surprise.

This afternoon I found out that I have been cast in the play that my theatre department is taking to Scotland next August.

And, to be honest, I thought my audition sucked. Truly. I was inwardly cringing even before I finished the one scene I was asked to read for, and when I wasn’t asked to read again I knew that that was it. I was done for. I’d blown it and that was that. But Scotland is expensive anyway, and I could always act as stage crew if finances came through and I could go.

But I got cast.

Despite everything I thought and everything my insecurities screamed at me.

(And let’s be real: my insecurities are still screaming, maybe even a bit louder now.)

So yeah. That’s my terrifically exciting news for the day:

I will be playing Agnes in Shadow Box here in Texas come April, and then I will be playing Agnes in Shadow Box in Scotland come August.

Aside from that, I didn’t have a spectacular day.

Toby’s been being an idiot and he’s managed to drum up an inflammation in one of the (numerous) scrapes on his leg, and since Saturday his leg has been swollen from the knee down. I swear, that horse thinks I’m studying Veterinary Medicine. The swelling is down somewhat today, but it’s still there and it’s still worrying away at me. I really don’t want to spend money on a vet right now.

Also, Spanish is the worst, and I totally didn’t study for the test we had today and the language does not come intuitively to me and I really need to study next time. That’s all.

But it is Happy Pufferfish Tuesday! So that’s fantabulous!

If you haven’t gotten the vibe yet, I’m kind of in a strange mood, brought on by a terrifying cocktail of emotions compounded by a case of (ever-present) exhaustion. I’ll be okay, but everything’s a bit…oh, what’s the word…spikey? at the moment.

You know…

Spikey…

Like, it peaks and then it valleys and then it peaks and then it valleys?

Like your heartbeat on a monitor.

Except this isn’t just my heart beating.

This is life pulsing, first bright and then dingy.

It’s kind of normal for me, but it’s a little more tonight because I’m going to Scotland!

Do you live like that ever?

In spikes? Up and down, good and bad, each distinct unto itself and each startlingly real and pressing in the moment?

My dad talks about it like a mountain. Like I get to experience the mountains but I also have to trudge through the valleys, and since I’m from California the mountains are all Mount Whitney and the valleys are all Death Valley, and that makes sense when applied to my life as a whole, but what do you call it when it’s happening over and over again in the course of five minutes?

What’s that?

Madness?

Sometimes I think that it is.

But…it’s beautiful. Despite it’s overwhelming nature and its tendency to bounce me back and forth between bouncing and…well…not.

I’m rambling. Because I’m hyper, I think, in a sit-down sort of way.

I should probably stop typing. Because now is when life…well, this post…gets weirder and weirder until suddenly I’m posting pictures of happy pufferfish to social media.

Wait.

I already did that.

Just kidding, we’re apparently past the pufferfish stage.

Now is when I…

I what?

I don’t know.

I think maybe it’s when I start questioning life. Reality.

I love the word Ontology.

A) Because it’s a beautiful word.

and also

B) Because of what it means.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘Ontology’ as “a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being.”

Isn’t that confusing?

My psychology teacher taught me that, and I’ve clung to the term ever since. Because ontological is me past a certain time of night on a certain cocktail of emotions compounded by a case of (ever-present) exhaustion.

But anyway, morning comes early and I recognize that I’m venturing further and further down a path of weirdness.

Stay chill, my people.

– Melissa
Something odd for your day.

despite judgement

My favorite songs have a very perceptible beat.

Because I have to dance.

No, I don’t just like to dance. I have to dance.

It is as essential to my being as eating, as natural as breathing.

Currently I’m actually having trouble typing because my arms keep needing to be part of the dance I’m doing to Cray Button by Family Force 5.

Expression.

That’s all dance is.

It’s the music coming in through your ears and escaping through every muscle of your body.

This morning in acting class we were working on…I don’t even know what Dr. Spangler would call it. But we were dancing. Shutting off the part of our brain that says to put a wall up to avoid judgement and instead just letting the music move us.

It. Was. Fantastic.

We—I—spend so much of my life trying to be ‘normal’. Trying to avoid distracting or distressing anyone. Just like everybody I know, I’ve had reservation trained into me. We don’t make spectacles. We follow the social norm.

Golly, I hate the social norm.

But it’s so hammered into me that it truly is difficult to turn off that conservative part of my brain.

Yes, I know. That proper behavior is what’s going to let me get and keep a job. It is what keeps me out of mental institutions. But it also is heavy like shackles.

On my wrists.

I feel confined.

I hate confined.

And then along came today’s acting class, along come road trips with my sisters, along come dance parties with my besties. Shackles unlocked, Melissa arrives. Music too loud. Dance not choreographed. Heart exposed.

Don’t hear me saying that I’m going to start carrying a boom box with me everywhere so that I can literally dance through life.

But I do have every intention of continuing to wean myself of reliance on other people’s opinions of me.

You might not need to turn your music up too loud and dance in your car on the way to Walmart today.

But maybe I do.

And you ‘judging’ me at stoplights doesn’t have to make any difference to me.

So there.

I need my arms back to dance to this song properly. So I’ll catch you later!

– Melissa
Cray Button by Family Force 5