Day 16

 I’m starting to feel a little like a writer. My book has a beginning and an end, which for me isn’t bad. There still isn’t much of a middle to speak of but there are a lot of characters. One could argue there are two many characters.

 

I think if I went back through every post I’ve ever written about the story I’m working on, or any story really, the ratio of complaining to feeling good about things would be an even 50-50. And a love/hate relationship is probably the best I can hope for.

Is it in bad taste to dress as real people for Halloween?

I’ll actually need a Halloween costume this year. In the past I’ve put together last minute costumes that were either generic, or were made from cardboard boxes. I’ve narrowed it down to a few options, one of which being Isadora Duncan. I really liked that idea, but I’ve never dressed up as a real person, and I’m a little bit conflicted about it. So, what do you guys think?

Retired Bio

I’ve updated my bio. The new one can be found here. In the interest of obsessive archiving, anyone that wants to see the old one can read it below:

I’m an eighteen year old college senior. I’m going to get that one out of the way now, because I’m not even going to pretend I don’t know that’s weird. I’m also going to assume you’re asking me how/what/why, or some combination thereof. So here’s the short version; I did high school in a year. Being fourteen is boring, so you might as well skip it, at least academically. For the long version, check the “school” category of this blog. I’m sure I’ve whined about it in the past.

Good, now that’s over. I’m finishing up a degree in computer science, that I both love and hate. To survive the profession I chose from a hat, I write, draw, paint, knit, and generally try to figure out the reason why I’ll be interviewed one day. If you’ve never done this, I recommend it. Why will you be interviewed? Will it be for your book tour? Your band? Were you an eye witness to a crime? Did you win a cake baking competition? Did you kidnap a baby? Right now I’m leaning towards “designing a line of luxury lampshades”.

I’ll Take My Chances With The Ghosts

“This is a great house. It’s barely even haunted.” This is one of the first things I say to my new neighbor, a thirty year old man whom I had never met before and was now staring at me questioningly. Possibly thinking, “who is this teenage girl in my home? Why is she here, and why is she talking about ghosts?” His wife, who has met my mother (which frankly, could mean anything) laughs a little. My mom had talked me into “being neighborly” and walking over there with her, which is really more her area than mine, for reasons that I think are obvious. No one says anything, so I try to explain.

“It really is a great house. Only one family lived here before you. They’re still alive and were really happy here.” After I’ve said it, I’m not sure why it matters. But it’s something I would have liked to know about my new house. I like the idea of something I own having a happy past. Our house, that we moved into twelve years before, really didn’t. I don’t believe in ghosts. But I also don’t not believe in ghosts. I like to think this makes me open-minded, not gullible, but think what you will. I’m not going to be the skeptic in the circle.

The family before us wasn’t happy. From what I understand, the father wasn’t a nice man, one son had issues with mental illness, and someone had died in the house. The mother and the son were the only ones living there when my parents bought the house. The mother had painted every room a vibrant shade of 1980’s pink, aside from the rooms that were bright blue, in what was probably an attempt to reclaim the house for herself. But it didn’t do much to make it look cheerful. The house hadn’t been maintained, the newest features were the security measures. That place was on lockdown.

My sister and I were scared of the basement stairs. My mother took issue with a certain closet. A neighbor, who has since passed away, came over one day to pray over the house. She and my mother walked around praying and rebuking whatever lived in that closet in the name of Jesus. Workmen got hurt. People fell down the basement stairs more than was statistically likely. And, on a personal note, I found a cockroach in my popcorn bowl.

What was an ordeal for my mother, was a game for me. After the first night, I stopped seeing the dead eyes of the plastic “Rudolph” that had been stored in my room where a desk lamp now stood, plugged into the wall as a temporary light fixture. I learned not to walk around inside without shoes after the first few times of experiencing the sick crunch of a roach under my bare foot, and watched my step on the stairs. I killed roaches and brought them to science class in jars. I named the ladybugs that collected near my toybox, and prayed at the thing on the stairs. I pictured an angry spirit being tortured by the power of my sunday-school words as I lay with my back leaning up against the carpeted ridges of the steps. Cardboard boxes became forts as I watched everyone else do the hard work.

I was glad this family didn’t have the “ghosts” that we did, but it’s a gamble I know I’ll take one day. Construction costs are insane right now, and even though I know they’ll eventually come down, I think I’ll always feel like I’m getting a bad deal. I think I’ve been conditioned to like character. I’ll walk through my neighborhood and see the new developments that look fresh out a box, with no soul or character, and I can’t picture moving into one of them. Where’s the challenge?

Image used is Haunted House by DaakSM on Deviant Art

The Expectations of Strangers

“So when are you going to grad school like your sister?” The woman asks. She looks vaguely familiar in the way that all distant family members do. I know I know her, but I’m not sure if that’s because I remember her or because she clearly knows me.

“I don’t think I’ll be going to grad school.” I tell her. How many times have I said that non-committal sentence? I’d rather say, “That was my sister’s path, not mine. And frankly, I’d rather jump into a vat of acid than suffer through higher education.” I don’t though. I’ve already used up my allotment of snark for this particular family function on the middle aged man that greeted my dad by loudly pointing out that he was balding. I had quietly asked how he could tell from down there. (What? He deserved it and I could tell dad wasn’t going to say anything. They all laughed. It was fine.)

The woman doesn’t drop it. We continue to talk about The Many Accomplishments of My Sister and why she was sure I’d eventually change my mind. After the conversation ended I ran into a man with greying hair who wanted to know just what I was going to do with a Computer Science major. “It’s a broad topic, and for now I’m keeping my options open.” I tell him, per usual. (Translation: I have no freaking clue. Are you asking because you have suggestions? Because that would actually be great.)

I get that this is all they know to talk about. They haven’t seen me since I was maybe five and the only thing they know about me is my major (and apparently everything my sister does) but I would really rather talk about how great it is that that purse they’ve had for twenty years is stylish again, or how crazy that dog of theirs is. Maybe they’ve gone on vacation, or their kid won some award from their college. I don’t really care, but that’s at least good for some conversation that won’t put me on the defensive.

It’s a pattern of conversation I’ve noticed mostly from the middle aged. Whether I know them or have just run into them at the mall, two minutes in they have me defending all my life choices. “College online? Say it isn’t so!” I don’t really know what to do with it.

How Old Do I Look?

Mycrosoft set up an age guessing website that guesses your age and gender from photos you submit. I had a little free time and some random pictures sitting around, so I thought I’d mess around with it.

First picture:

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 3.19.34 PM

Variables: Decent lighting, had just used a ’20s lipstick tutorial

Actual age: 18

Off by: 9 years

Second picture:

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 3.23.27 PM

Variable: Dark lighting

Actual age: 18

Off by: 4 years

Third picture:

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 3.24.17 PM

Variable: Colonial Williamsburg

Actual age: 8

Off by: 20 years

Fourth picture:

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 3.20.19 PM

Variable: Some sort of facial mask my sister gave me

Actual age: 19

Off by: 69 years

It even thought I was a guy. But still, this one was kind of mean of me.

Fifth picture:

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 3.20.53 PM

Variable: Flattering filter

Actual age 19:

Off by: 1 year

Sixth picture:

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 3.25.20 PM

Variable: Making a face

Actual age: 17

Off by: 12 years

Findings:

Age:

  • Accuracy: 0%
  • Average guess: 34

Gender accuracy: 83%

Conclusions:

It’s pretty accurate guessing genders, and very good at recognizing faces. But it’s terrible at guessing ages.

Snow

It snowed last night, covering the ground with a fine layer of bread mold. So today, I teetered into two pairs of stretchy pants (insulating, but very odd looking) and took a long walk as it melted. Snow doesn’t last long here, just sticks around long enough to be a novelty so I figured I should enjoy it while I could, but it was already turning to ice when I got out there. Tiny snowmen turning into shapeless lumps and white lawns turning muddy. After about an hour’s walk I realized snow is more knitting weather than anything else.

Mental Strength

“I wish I hadn’t said that.” My mother remarks, as she leaves the room. “Oh, God.” I think. “Maybe I’m not going to grow out of this.” On some level, I guess I always thought I would. The self doubt when a conversation ends, the social awkwardness that hits when it’s too late to do anything about it. When I try to sleep at night and instead see myself at fourteen, reading my journal aloud, or an unending loop of earlier that same day, talking to my neighbor about why I’m not dating anyone, while I have ink marks all down my left arm. But maybe it’s less of a teenage thing, and more of a human thing, and instead of hoping it will go away, it’s something I have to actively work on. Because when I’m dwelling on things I’ve said or done, either yesterday or when I was five, I’m not helping myself. I can’t change it, and I’m just wasting time feeling bad about it.

I recently read the Huffington Post’s list of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do“, and I realized I have things I need to work on. It’s a little late for official New Years resolutions I suppose, but mental strength takes a lifetime. I just want to be aware of it. Dwelling on the past is probably what I’m the most guilty of. I ask myself what I would have done differently if I had something to do over again, and what I’ve realized is that first, that’s a stupid theoretical question I don’t need to bother with until the invention of time travel, and second, I’d do the same thing. Every time. Because I am who I am. I tell dumb stories about anglerfish and time travel, I have a lot of opinions I share too easily, and until I graduate I will always have formulas and equations written in permanent marker on my arms.