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Winter Break in Review

 Just finished: Doing some school work...not that I finished.
About to: Do the school work that I didn't finish.
Currently listening to: Raidió Rí-Rá! 

First off, a very happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a good celebration to kick off 2011. I did (but more about that later).

School starts again tomorrow, so that means it's time for the traditional recap of a break. Let's get down to it, shall we.

The last Friday before break was the first pep band game - nothing much to say about that, other than I'd forgotten how damn uncomfortable those bleachers are.

The first day of break we took a train into Chicago for Tuba Christmas at the Palmer House in Chicago. SO COOL. If you've never been, mark your calendar for next year. Over 300 tubas, euphoniums, and various other low-brass instruments assemble and rehearse for a few hours, and then perform Christmas carols for as many people as can fit in the Grand Ballroom in the Palmer House (they had to close the doors 15 minutes early when I went because there were so many in attendance!). There is much fanfare and many decorations on the instruments and much botching of song lyrics that you thought you knew, but it is a grand time and I'd recommend it - not for the caliber of the performance but just because 300 tubas hitting a low note in the Grand Ballroom of the Palmer House is an experience. After that we popped by Merit School of Music and met up with some of the rest of the gang to see Ms. Alicia Foster perform in a concert of very serious caliber, which was absolutely wonderful. A lovely musical start to the break. 

This was followed by a slew of parties and sleepovers that I lack the time and inclination to cover on an individual basis. It is notable to say that I was introduced to the 2004 version of "Phantom of the Opera" which has become my newest favorite fandom. I have since seen clips of the Broadway show and I think they lost a lot by not giving the story the same sensuality (shall we say) as was given the movie version. Diehard Broadway fans will argue with me, of course, and I'll admit that the actual cinematography of the film left something to be desired (the scene with Raoul underwater with the grate coming down? Seriously?) but the interpretation of the story, the pretty scenery and costuming, the neat effects (like the slow bleeding of color onto the screen as the chandelier is raised in the opening scene) and of course the music made it entirely worth sitting through some questionable action scenes and cheesy dialog.

I got the fireplace - which had sat, perfectly good, unused for the last ten years - working in time to burn an old Yule log, and on Yule, no less. I stayed up that night to watch the lunar eclipse.

Christmas was lovely, a classic family affair at the grandmother's house with cousins and aunts and uncles and yapping dogs and a Christmas tree that came perilously close to tottering onto its side. Presents and turkey and peppermint ice cream and chestnuts roasting on an open fire...just kidding. Although my little cousins were quite entertained by a vintage set of nutcrackers sitting in the bowl of walnuts on the table (you never knew that opening walnuts could be so violent). And, I almost forgot to mention, I got "RENT - The Final Broadway Performance"! Another explosion onto my personal fandom scene. I already knew "La Vie Boheme" by heart by the time I got a hold of the movie but knowing the rest of the story made me fall in love with the musical even more. ("There's only us, there's only this...forget regret, or life is yours to miss.") Rest in peace, Jonathon Larson - you created something genuinely beautiful.

The Monday after Christmas was another trip into the city with Diana and Carlos and wasn't that an adventure. From Union Station we trekked our way over to MilPark to skate on the pavilion-turned-ice-rink below the Bean but found the line to rent skates was intolerably long (neither Diana nor Carlos owns skates, though I had mine dangling on my shoulder all the way). With a slight adjustment of plans we moved over to Grant Park to skate on the rink there (discovered from a tip from a considerate security guard at MilPark). It was nice - not too crowded, music piped in, rather warm for the time and place. I struck up conversation with a woman, sitting on the side of the rink, with a West Highland terrier in her lap who turned out to be from my neck of the woods in Arizona. (There are so many people from the Phoenix area in the Chicago area - and vice versa - you'd think the cities were across the road from each other.) Even with the unseasonably warm temperature (a grand 30 degrees) we were pretty well frozen after an hour and some but unready and unwilling to go home. So instead we plotted a course to Navy Pier, which, it turns out, is possibly the most inconvenient place to get to without a car in Chicago. It took asking four people for directions (most of whom laughed at us when I told them our destination), three staircases, two elevators, and at least five dead-ends before we finally made it there. But make it there we did, and we ate and we shopped (coconut incense for me from my favorite little kiosk, Sitara, by the entrance to the IMAX), and we spent the last bit of the evening lounging in the Crystal Gardens, the huge glassed-in botanic garden with palm trees and tropical flowers and fountains that shoot arcs of water over the walkways. We took a bus back - unwilling to walk all the way back to the train station in the cold and dark - and after a rather inelegant sprint through Union Station to our train (skidding in the doors maybe eight seconds before the train lurched into motion) we were homebound.

The next few days were quieter - I was busy with a total clean-out of my room (remember that revolution I was talking about? It's gotta start somewhere) as well as a fair amount of homework that I had not so much as looked at since school let out. I've started poking around for places looking to publish shorts again, as well. (Pill Hill Press is opening up for submissions to a new anthology...ho hum... Although my grand plans of editing and writing over the break fell through, writing is never too far from my mind.)

There was of course the AP Euro session, a three-hour lock-in at the library covering the French Revolution (ha! ha!) with pages of notes and a year-by-year breakdown of the course of events (referred to by my teacher as "in a nutshell") and even with the subsequent jaunt with a gang of friends to the Oberweis across the street that was only one afternoon. Mostly I was preoccupied with preparations for the New Year's Eve party.

I had hosted the same event last year so I knew better what I had gotten myself into this time around. I managed to get pretty much everything done with one marathon of shopping for food and decorations and another to actually get the directions up. Besides that it was just the usual hostessly things, coordinating guests and times and who would be in and out of the house when. It was well worth it, I think - I thought the party went spectacularly. No major injuries, everyone was well-fed, I had enough sparkling cider for midnight, the wiring of the amps and speaker system to iPods worked spot-on, and we only broke one glass. It would take a whole other blog post to recount the adventures of that night but suffice to say that I think we kicked off the new year pretty well.

And so here I am, in the last day - the last few hours, practically - of break, finishing up some last minute homework as I knew (deep down) that I would be. I am pretty content, to be honest. I think I can safely call Winter Break 2010 a success.

Cheers to the rest of the 2011!

Hillary

Gods of the Place

 The air at the bottom of the canyon is cool and ancient, charged, almost, like the air just before a thunderstorm. Should you speak your voice reverberates uncannily off the great stone walls, slick with moss, curving over your head like the sides of a bowl, rearing maybe 150 feet skyward. The feel of the space is sacred. There is a perfectly circular clearing at the bottom of the rounded canyon, opening out toward the river. It is easy - almost inescapable - to imagine the blue-gray column of smoke rising from a fire in the clearing's center, drifting upward even past the canyon's crown of twisted red cedar to the stars. Easy to hear the crackle of sap in the flames, smell the sweet earthy wood-smoke and burning herbs. See the sway of bodies and hear the pulse of voices woven like a tapestry into a hypnotic chant, a prayer to the gods of the place. I wonder, sitting on a sandy ledge a scant tenth of the way up parabolic rock wall, how long the gods have been here - eons before me, I am certain. As I watch three boys yelling and scampering along the canyon's edge I wonder for a short moment if they have left - then decide almost immediately that they have not. I realize that in these sacred places where gods dwell, it would take something much more significant than a few humans, or a few generations of them, to get them to leave.

And so, at their hidden springs and hollow hills and oak groves and at the bottom of curved canyons, they dwell still.

((Inspired by the unnamed round canyon in Starved Rock State Park. Also, Mary Stewart, to whom I am indebted for learning more than I would have ever otherwise cared to know about the hollow hills.))

Well, here I am again.

Currently listening to: "Loose Lips" by Kimya Dawson. ("Do it for the living and do it for the dead/do it for the monsters living under your bed/do it for the teenagers and do it for your mom/broken hearts hurt but they make you strong...")
Just finished: A speech tournament. @_@
About to: Chill out with some popcorn and hot cocoa and bask in the cozy comfort of winter.

Well, here I am again. The idea to put up a new post after Lord-knows-how-many-months has been floating around in my head for some time now, and Carlos's update pushed me over the edge, so...here I am.

What to say, what to say. I'm rather out of practice with this blogging thing. I wondered a lot when I set this thing up - after the novelty of it had worn off - why exactly I was writing any of this. It's not like anyone cares, or, in all likelihood, will ever read it. The only conclusion I've come to is that it's really for my own benefit alone. It entertains me to read back on past entries. And if it entertains someone else in the process, so be it.

"My fourth quarter pipe dreams are seeming more and more worth fighting for..."

You know what I should do tonight? Finish my damn NaNo'10 novel. It's only missing one, maybe one and a half scenes. It's so close. (Of course, at this point it stills needs to be edited - Mr. Ian Woon will have to bow out of the story, I'm afraid.) And maybe put up Christmas lights. Really get in the Christmas spirit. Hmm, sounds good. Sounds wonderful, in fact.

The thirtieth anniversary of John Lennon's death was a few days ago. It seems to me, in that funny way that things sometimes happen, that ever since I saw the little aside on the network news about the date references to John Lennon have been popping up everywhere - twice today, actually, at the speech tournament. One of them was a girl in Poetry who had a collection about revolution and at the end she sang out a verse - You say you want a revolution, well, you know - we all wanna change the world. You say you got a real solution, well, you know - we'd all love to see the plan...don't you know it's gonna be...all right...all right...all right.

I just recalled that I have a T-shirt with lyrics from this song on it. It frequently attracts comments when I wear it. Call me nostalgic but I really do think that that song strikes a chord with people as much now as it ever did.

And it has gotten me thinking about revolution, a concept that's always fascinated me. Revolution. The word is so powerful. It's the fall of governments, the rise of empires. A movement that encompasses a people, a nation, a world. Revolution. Moving forward when there's no turning back - you can't undo a revolution.

I think it's time for a revolution. I think we've been thinking the same way for too long and I think our mindset is due for a radical shift. Time to start thinking progressively, innovatively, with a consciousness of how what we do now will affect future generations. Time to start thinking about stewardship and responsibility and balance. Time to recognize our blessings and remember where we come from. Time to take a step back, observe, modify for the better.

Or maybe I'm just thinking these big thoughts because I can see a revolution in my own life in the near future. I have a sense of things coming together for me. In Tarot, it would be a 10 of an element - a fullness, an over-abundance that is the indication of getting ready to take the plunge and to start the cycle over again on a new level. I feel like the pieces are falling into place for me to step it up to the next level, but I'm not sure exactly what it will look like when I get there.

Hmm. I will ponder these things as I sip my hot cocoa and dig out the Christmas lights.

Well don't you know it's gonna be - all right...

Hillary

A few weeks into school

Currently listening to: the TV, which I'm not watching but my mother is. Glee, I think.
Just finished: hanging out with Isha & Devi at Starbucks and then McDonald's.
About to: ...do chem homework -_-

School is draining my creativity.

All the things that came easily, or relatively so, in the summer - writing, editing, photography, music - are being drowned out by, well, chemistry, and trigonometry and the intricacies of the courts of the Italian Renaissance. Interesting as I may (or may not) find these things, they're eating up all my time and creative drive and it's terribly frustrating.

And then comes the usual rant on the structured routine of school stifling creativity that we've gotten from our gifted teachers on multiple occasions now. Which is all well and good - precise curriculum with rigid guidelines does suppress out of the box of the thinking. Then we hear about the solutions - how teachers need to broaden their lessons to allow more room for personal interpretation and growth, using projects to solve a specific problem that allows students to approach learning in an individualized, curiosity-driven way. Et cetera, et cetera.

Problem is, that a.) is not going to happen anytime soon, because we like our standardized tests too damn much, and b.) still won't eat up any less of my time.

But, as the wise Mark Twain once said, "I never let my schooling interfere with my education."

So enough of that. A few brief updates:
-Carlos needs to learn how to salsa properly. =)
-Benson's doing NaNo! (Or so I hope. Fingers crossed for Devi & Stina too.)
-AP European History's is just as much work as everyone says it is, but I like it nonetheless. It has proven to me beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am a total, irrevocable history nerd.
-Forensics season has officially started! Let's hear it for the speech kids!

On a side note, I think my phone might be lost for good. I'm very upset. D=

That's all for now. Hopefully everybody had a good Labor Day Weekend (I did! Ides of March, 7th Heaven, Foghat, and Gin Blossoms all in one weekend - can you say "Septemberfest"?) and hopefully, there's a full, fun, productive week ahead. 

I'll leave you with some more words of wisdom from that Bible of bohemians, and, fittingly, the ringtone of my poor lost phone, La Vie Boheme from Rent - "The opposite of war isn't peace! - It's creation!"

Lots of love,
Hillary

The Mackinac Chronicles

 ((As promised - raw and unedited. xD))

The Mackinac Chronicles

First day;; we left about 10:30, drove a whole bunch, construction etc. (Dad adds, “Gary, Gary, Gary.”) Stopped at Michigan Rest Area & Random Other Rest Area, stopped at Baldwin where my great-great-great grandmother Elizabeth Dickens lived after running the horses for the Chicago fire department. I discovered that Big Boy's is an actual restaurant and not a piece of Austin Powers fiction. We arrived at the campground, had a traditional camp dinner of Chef Boyardee's lasagna heated on the Coleman stove. Cabin is adorably tiny and spare, all raw wood, one double bed and a bunk bed. We went swimming in the pool in the evening and played back and forth with the beach ball we found on the deck. Mocha went on her first swim ever, sort of. She did not enjoy it. Tomorrow – to Mackinac!

Second day;; left from the campground a little before noon after a little mini-golf (home of the Doomed Ramp), swinging on the playground across the way, and the discovery that the chipmunks here are bold like our squirrels at home – one bounced happily across the road maybe two feet in front of me. Drove, drove, drove. Crossed the Mackinac Bridge across the Straits. Arrived in St. Ignace at about 4, came to the campground where we find a cabin as cute as the first – although this one has a light bulb and an indoor outlet. We decide against going to the Island since we were told by the campground host that everything basically closed down at 5. Then we consider going in the pool but it's filled with screaming cannon-balling kids so we give up on that too. Instead I insist that it's time for dinner and we take off into town, and Grandma and I find a bench on the boardwalk that runs along the edge of the town since we have Mocha, and wait for Dad to come back with the food. It takes a long time because there's some confusion as to what bench we were waiting at and whether or not I had my phone with me (“I HAD NOWHERE TO CARRY IT”) but finally the two parties meet and we enjoy fish sandwiches, fries and coleslaw along the shores of Lake Huron, overlooking the docks. For dessert is a local ice cream shop – Michigan Black Bear (vanilla with raspberry swirls and dark chocolate raspberry cups), Michigan black Cherry and Mackinac Fudge between us – and a little wandering through quaint little downtown St. Ignace before we're back to the campground and to sleep.

Third day;; Check-out is eleven and by some miracle we manage to make it out on time, and head back into town to “catch the Cat” - the Catamaran ferry of the Arnold Line, that is. Mocha is well pleased with the high-speed, very windy 14-minute ride to the Island. Arrival at Mackinac Island, then a narrated carriage ride – there are no cars, of course – up to Surrey Hill. We eat lunch there, peruse the gift shops and examine the antique coaches on display. We see the Wings of Mackinac, a butterfly conservatory not unlike the one at Brookfield only smaller and with more butterflies (including one of the giant moths that hatched in the Great Moth Escape of Zivic '02!). Then a three-horse team comes to pick us up and take us on the rest of a tour, narrated by “Joe.” We see the fort, the governor's house, the forest, Arch Rock, the gardens, the golf course, and the Grand Hotel, described with alternating historical factoids and personal anecdotes of Joe's. After returning to Surrey Hill a shuttle brings us back downtown and we wander the main street, which, as Dad said, looks a lot like Main Street in Epcot. We buy fudge from Ryba's, wander the souvenir shops and – JOY! - I succeed in finding and purchasing a Mackinac sweatshirt. (I also find one that references “All Summer Long,” so I consider that objective, along with eating fudge on Mackinac Island, checked off. The only thing left: to take my picture next to a Big Boy's restaurant to prove that it does not only exist in Austin Powers movies.) We decide to delay taking the ferry back another hour and rest on the grass beside the marina, listening to a band play on the open patio of a nearby restaurant (with added vocal accompaniment from me when they break into “I'm Yours”). The next ferry is a 6:00 pm so we take that back to St. Ignace, and from there we hit the road to our next destination – Paradise, Michigan. Only not quite. Turns out we're actually in Curtis, a little spit of a town that you have to drive through 90 miles of almost unbroken pine-forested wilderness to get to. We're here now and the cabin is much more modern than the others, with a sink and a TV and lights and a microwave and a toaster and a FRIDGE. (I KNOW, crazy, right?) Big Manistique Lake is a stone's throw away with a beach a few hundred feet from our front door, where we explored a little bit this evening but didn't get to do much because of arriving so late. Another full day tomorrow, I hope.

Fourth day;; Woke up, showered, got ready and hit Paradise, Michigan around noon. Went a bit farther up to historic Whitefish Point on the coast of Lake Superior, the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes” (ominous, huh?), which is basically as far north as you can get while still in the States. Saw Canada, eh?! We cruised around the shipwreck museum (including the bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald) and also saw the replicas of the old interior of the lighthouse. We went down to the beach and dipped our toes in the lake (but naturally ended up getting drenched to our waists anyway) and tried to get Mocha to come into the water. At first she was terrified of the “wave monster” but she warmed up to it a little by the end. Mocha and I also poked around a little on the trails and boardwalk leading up to the bird lookout. For lunch we ate a place on Whitefish Point and got Mint Cordial caramel corn as well as sampling our first ever beef pasty (that's pronounced 'paasty,' and basically resembles a shepherd's pie – THESE'VE GOT TO BE THE WORST PIES IN LONDON...ahem...), which are apparently a pretty big deal here on the U.P. Then it was on to Tahquemenon State Park where we saw both the lower and upper falls, four miles apart. At the upper falls we all checked out the Brink Outlook which took you right up to the falls and Dad, Mocha and I continued on to Gorge Outlook, which afforded a view from river-level after many, many stairs. (Not proper stairs, either – metal grille stairs that Mocha initially refused to set foot on, not liking the fact that she could see through it to the ground, several feet – at least – below.) We got back to our campground around eight and sat on the swing overlooking the beach, me enjoying the wonderful comfort of my Mackinac sweatshirt as well as delicious ice-cold Apple Manzana out of an amber plastic cup from the cabin's shelf. We watched as a rainstorm moved across Lake Manistique and now, we go to sleep. Check-out is 9 o'clock tomorrow – yikes, how can we possibly manage that?

Fifth day;; Surprising success in the check-out department (only a half hour late), although this morning was FREEZING (luckily I had my Mackinac sweatshirt!), too cold to consider kayaking as we'd been hoping to do. Grandma bought me a cute little necklace, a cream-colored geode wrapped in ornate silver swirls. We drove on down the coast of Green Bay, passing through the city-of and holding out until we came to Fond du Lac (Welcome to Duloc, what a perfect town, here we have some rules, let us lay them down...). We visited Seguins and bought some souvenir shotglasses for Mom and a bunch of saltwater taffy for me to distribute among my friends. We stop at a McDonald's off the highway and succeed in managing restroom usage, food purchasing and retrieval, a dog who needs food, water, to be walked and not to be left alone. (You have a bird, a fox and a bag of grain...isn't that how it goes?) Dad, Mocha and I explored a nice little marina on the way. Here in Fond du Lac Dad went swimming and went to the hot tub and met a new friend from an unidentified Scandinavian country. Right next to our cabin – which is the very same model of mini-cabin as our second place, in St. Ignace – there is a Jumping Pillow, more or less identical to the one at Fair Oaks Dairy Farm. Seeing this I immediately run up and start bouncing like the old pro I am, to the amazement of a nearby cluster of little kids. A fire was attempted but it was a total bust – not, of course, due to my fire-making skills, which are superb, thanks for asking – but because we were (once again) sold defective firewood. No, really. It rained here a night or two ago and the bundles of firewood were left out in it. So we made macaroni and hot dogs on the grill and it all turned out well just the same. Tomorrow, home.

Sixth day;; Hung around Fond du Lac until about 1:00 pm then took off for Lake Winnebago. We climbed up the lighthouse, sat by the marinas, went down a pier and Mocha and I scrambled down the rocks to sit at the water's edge (upon arranging myself on an adequately Disney-like rock I promptly break into "Part of Your World."). Drove, drove, drove, got caught in traffic, stopped and at a Culver's, drove, got to Medinah, unpacked, came home.

So, I'm back.

 Currently listening to: "Cooler Than Me" by Mike Posner. "If I could write you a song to make you/fall in love I'd already have you up/under my arm..." <3
Just finished: Getting Tim grounded...sorry, again. xD
About to: Read or write, most likely.

So, after a long hiatus, I am back - once again at Benson's indirect prompting. What have I been doing all this time? Well, as it so happens, that is the subject of an upcoming Facebook note - look for it in a few days. I'll post a copy up here just in case.

School is coming up very shortly. Band camp is here, though I missed the first two days while I was out of town. I've finished the Crucible having devoured the entire thing in one sitting. Need to get some supplies and locate the stuff from last year. And although as always I'm sad to see summer go, and this year seems to have an unusually high number of people complaining that too much was expected of this summer, I really do think I've made the most of summer 2010 and I'm ready to go back to school, ready for fall. 

Things are a little chaotic, a little out of place for me at the moment...then again that's pretty typical. =D 'Tis okay, pura vida, hakuna matata, que sera sera - things will work out in the end. For now I am content to celebrate summer in its last days.

Just got back from a road trip around the entire perimeter of Lake Michigan - quite the adventure that was. I kept sort of a travelogue as we went along - that will be posted in its entirety in an individual post. A brief overview is this: home, Gary, construction on the roads, Lake Huron, Straits of Mackinac, the Mackinac Bridge, St. Ignace, ferry, Mackinac Island, horses, fudge, Lake Manistique, Whitefish Point, shipwreck museum, Lake Superior, beach, Tahquemenon Falls, Green Bay, Lambeau Field, Fond du Lac, lighthouse, Lake Winnebago, Milwaukee, construction on the road, and home again. It was wonderful. =)

And of course all the many other adventures of this summer...it really has been a very eventful two and a half months. Positive? Not always. But always eventful.

Here's looking at summer twenty ten.

Cheers,
Hillary

Summertime

Currently listening to: "Lost Highway" off my BRAND NEW "Summer" playlist. "Oh patron saint of lonely souls/tell this boy which way to go/guide the car you've got the keys/farewell to mediocrity/kickin off the cruise control and turnin up radio..."
Just finished: FRESHMAN YEAR.
About to: PARTY.

SCHOOL'S OUT!!

I survived my freshman year of high school! God, what a year. It's been crazy and it's certainly had its ups and downs, but looking back I love every single second of it. Funny how that happens. 

I've made friends, lost friends, learned a lot, including some things I was almost happier not knowing. I've gotten a lot of opportunities and I'm grateful for them, and I've taken advantage of as many as I could. So much has happened since this time last year, when I was graduating junior high - I can't even begin to guess where I'll be this time next year. And after this wild, unpredictable, rollercoaster ride of a year, I wouldn't have it any other way.

And to all my friends who made this year as amazing as it was: I love you all so so much. Let's rock it up this summer, okay? I can't wait.

So cheers to freshman year - and here's to SUMMER TWENTY TEN!!

Hillary
Currently listening to: "Seven Deadly Sins" by Flogging Molly. ("Sail away, no ball and chain can keep us from the roarin' waves - together undivided but forever we'll be free - sail away upon our rig, the moon is full and so're we - we're seven drunken pirates we're the seven deadly sins.")
Just finished: I could tell you but then it would ruin the surprise.
About to: Attack large pile of untouched English homework.

Adventure #1: The Doll
Last Saturday there was an estate sale at an old Victorian house a few towns off. We decide to go, just for kicks. I mentioned as much to Isha and she answers, "Ooh, if you see a creepy doll make sure you buy it." I promise I will and promptly forget about it. Come Saturday and we're browsing around the house...and then I see it. The Creepy Doll. Paint worn from her once pretty eyes and lips, the lace on her dress chipped, vivid colors faded to dead-leaf brown and gravestone gray. I pick her up, gingerly, and as I do a man comes up behind me and asks how much they want for it. Turning over the price tag that dangles from one of her small hands - poised as if they had once been holding something though I can't guess what now - I tell him it's two dollars. He asks me if I want it. I smile politely and say not necessarily, and he can have it if he wants it. He shakes his head. "No, here, I'll buy it for you." Surprised, I protest that I have money and it's fine, really. He insists. Although I had been considering whether or not I really wanted this thing staring at me while I'm trying to sleep, I can't very well put it back once I have his money in my hand, so I have no choice but to buy it. That's what I do and she sits now on the shelf of my desk in all her creepy glory. I'm terrified that I'll drop her and she'll break and then possess my soul in revenge.

We have several theories about why the man bought it for me. Since strangers seem to have a habit of buying/giving things to me for no apparent reason, we've considered the possibility that I have a "good aura," or, my personal favorite, some sort of positive-energy-attracting magical powers. (Also considered was that they're all pedophiles.) The last theory says that the man knew something that we didn't and was trying to get rid of it. I'll keep you posted if anything conclusive comes up.

Adventure #2: The Hair Cut
I've been wearing my hair long for eons too long, so I got a good six inches hacked off and it now falls to just about the shoulder with shorter layers at about ear level. Initially I hated it and sometimes I still do, especially because the layers are about an inch too short to be convenient, but I'm starting to warm up to it.

Adventure #3: The Cruise
Monday night was spent on a cruise boat on Lake Michigan with my fellow band geeks. We went up to the Pier, hung out there for a while, boarded, ate dinner, enjoyed the view from the top deck of the Chicago skyline all lit up for the night, and danced while trying not to lose our balance every time the ship hit a wave. It was pretty epic and I'm waiting for SOMEONE (-coughcoughALICIAcough-) to put up the pictures. =)

Adventure #4: Flan
A Spanish project required making a dish so Kayla, Tim and I teamed up to make flan. I gave Tim and Kayla a salsa lesson. I got free flan. It was good all around.

And Adventure #5? That's what I "Just Finished." I was sitting in my living room when I hear, from the banks of the lake, two voices screaming shrilly, interspersed with short bursts of laughing and chatter. Nothing good, I can tell. I step onto my balcony, pause a minute to take in the scene, and then yell down to Jordan and RB down below, "What the hell are you doing with that frog?"

What they're doing with it is trying to pull a hook from the thing's mouth to free it from a fishing line, but decidedly unsuccessfully - everytime one of them gets close and the frog makes a bid for escape, they shriek and stumble backwards. I tell them from my balcony that they're so stupid and they shout back, "You come pull it out, then!"

So that's what I do - go down, watch for a minute as Jordan shrieks again when the frog makes a leap for the lake and listen as RB explains that he accidentally caught it while they were fishing for bass. Jordan gives up. I sigh, call them sissies, and, remembering the innumerable times I've done this and other wildlife rescues of the like during my summers in the backcountry of rural Indiana, calmly walk up to the frog - a big sucker of a bullfrog - grab it from behind, and instruct Jordan to wriggle the hook out of its mouth. With some coaching from me, he does it. They thank me, sounding slightly humbled, and I leave.

Now on to that English homework.

May there be many more adventures to come,

Hillary

I'm going to be better about this, really.


Currently listening to: "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy." Somewhere, there is a video of Sahil and I singing a very loud duet of this song. I pray that it got lost somewhere in the Void of Deleted Videos, but I'm not sure, and it makes me very nervous. xD
Just finished: Doing my World History homework! I'm really proud of myself, I almost always forget to do WH homework when we get it.
About to: Probably edit. Again.

So lately, I've been absolutely awful about getting stuff done. I've been skimping out on blog posts, on editing, on homework. I don't know what's gotten into me.

Actually, that's a lie.

I do know what's gotten into me. It happens every year at about the same time, late in spring when summer starts to kick in, and I start to remember the big amazing world out there...while I'm stuck here. Call it itchy feet syndrome. Wanderlust. I'm halfway out of my head breathing in the same suburban air for so long.

I'm absolutely dying to get out of here.

And the problem is, I probably won't for some time. Sure, they'll be small-scale camping trips for a couple of nights in state parks an hour or two away - but that's not enough. I'm holding out hope for a couple of things. One is that my grandma, who is also affected by itchy feet syndrome (Little Burro reference? Eh? Eh? ...no?), will finally get so sick of her little suburb that she'll bail us out of here for a while and pull together the planning/funds/timing/etc. for a vacation. Second hope is for a big camping trip out of state - maybe even a far-away national park (very quietly keeping my fingers crossed for Yellowstone). Third hope is that at the very least I get to disappear off to my aunt's house for a few weeks over the summer like I've done in the past, which is a good break in the monotony if nothing else.

I'll let you guys in on a little secret: there are no cubicles in my future. No white picket fences, no nine-to-five, no two-point-three kids and a dog on a cute little suburban street. When I graduate from high school...I'm outta here. I've got places to see, things to do, and not a second to waste. College online or abroad would be fantastic. At least a good ways from Illinois is a necessity. If it means hitting the road with all my earthly possessions on my back, so be it. Vagabonds and minstrels come from a long and noble tradition - I would be honored to count myself among their ranks.

So endeth Hillary's rant for the day.

A few very brief notes: Like I said at the beginning, editing has pretty much felt banging my head against a brick wall for the past 5 days or so, but I keep banging so I think eventually the wall has to start to chip. The first chapter goes out to beta readers tomorrow, bless their souls. One more thing...to any of my IRL friends, ask me about the fourth-grader story. I was going to post it here but decided against it.

I'll try to be back soon. Really. (No, I mean, really.)

Love,

Hillary

Sorry guys. I've been lazy.


Currently listening to: "One Week" by the Barenaked Ladies. "Like Kurasaka I make mad films/kay I don't make films/but if I did they'd have a samurai..."
Just finished: THE SCHOOL WEEK. :K
About to: Not sure. Paint nails? Read? Solve a multivariable equation? Plot out world domination? The possibilities are endless.

HAPPY BEALTAINE/MAY DAY/ROODMAS, EVERYBODY. (Does anyone even celebrate Roodmas any more? And that's "Beltane" to non-Gaels.) Today - well, technically tomorrow - marks the reunion of the earth and sun, a celebration of life the way Samhain (that's the origin of Halloween, you ignorant children) celebrates death. So pick flowers! Sing songs! Bake cookies! The winter is over - spring is here - and SUMMER IS COMING!

If you've ever heard of celebrations of May Day, same difference. I'd kill to be in Edinburgh tonight. They still do the whole bit with the bonfire on the hilltop like they used to do in the old days, to proclaim the triumph of the light half of the year over the dark.

But anyway. This post is dedicated to Benson, who asked very nicely for an update, so here it is. (@Benson: How dare you guilt me with promises of NaNo?! Don't you play dumb with me, mister.)

We're started reading Romeo and Juliet in English. It has led to possibly the most awkward class period I have ever experienced. ("Mrs. Teacher, what's a chastity belt?") So far I like "A Midsummer Night's Dream" better.

At present I am reading "Misery" by Stephen King. I always forget how much I like Stephen King's writing - just like it because it's fascinating to read. I've also read "The Green Mile," most of "Nightmares and Dreamscapes" (it's a collection of short stories, I may have missed a few here and there) and "Insomnia."

Nothing much else. Been hanging out at Caribou and Starbucks and the like working on the novel. I'm just barely beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe. Perhaps. We'll see.

Two concerts coming up this week. Here's hoping for no epic disasters.

Happy Bealtaine, again. Summer is coming!

Hillary

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Hillary Marie

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