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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: August 02, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 02, 2017



My alarm is going off.

It is 6:40 am and my alarm is going off.

I reach over with a groan and hit the snooze button. 5 more minutes, I tell myself, lie to myself. I will be repeating this pattern until 7:30 when my mom will lose patience and come wake me up.

I roll over to my other side and pull the covers back up, snuggling into them. I had been having a dream about… what was it about? Ah, yes. I was rowing a boat down a river to get to an island, where they had the best ice cream shop around. Nice… ice cream…

My alarm is going off again.

It is 6:47 am and my alarm is going off.

I can save you some time and skip ahead a bit, if you want.

Ha, ha, who am I kidding? Even I’m getting bored of this.

It is 7:30 and my alarm is… wait, no it’s not.

It is 7:30 and my mother is shaking my shoulders, telling me I need to get up. She’s right. But the bed is so warm… No. Time for school. Driving. Eating a Poptart. Yes.

It takes me roughly two minutes to pull on the jeans and tank top I laid out the night before, and another six to brush my teeth, take my meds, and jam my contacts into my eyes like I’m stuffing a chicken. I grab myself the aforementioned Poptart and haul my late ass to my car. My sister rides shotgun while I drive.

I like driving. It helps me clear my mind. I can just listen to some music, focus on the way the car rides smooth over the road, and… Is she talking? Yep, she’s definitely telling me some story or joke or something.

I laugh like I was listening and bite into my Poptart. It’s a little stale. I set it in the cupholder and forget it exists.

When we arrive at school, I head straight to first period. I like to get places early. Ironic, considering my sleeping habits. One of my classmates who I have grown acquainted with makes some snide remark about the calculus teacher’s choice in footwear as the class begins. I feign enjoyment and laugh.

I like calculus. It makes sense to me. All the shapes and graphs, they fit like puzzle pieces in the machine I didn’t know I had inside my brain. I like calculus so much that it’s my least favorite class.

Wait, let me explain. The teacher is too slow, you see. She goes over the material like it’s everyone’s first time hearing it (well, technically, it is). But to me, the material has been in my head for ages. I usually breeze through the lesson before she’s finished going over the previous night’s homework. Then I do that night’s homework while she’s teaching the lesson.

Today, as usual, I finish even that too quickly. Normally I’d do my spanish homework right about now, but I finished that last night. I trace my pencil mindlessly over the notes I made 30 minutes ago and let my mind wander.

I think back to what my friend said earlier. She seems happy this morning. Unusually happy. Normally she doesn’t give me a moment to settle in before she starts grumbling about how morning classes are a form of child abuse. Did something happen? Maybe she got her SAT scores already. They weren’t supposed to come in until tomorrow, but maybe she got them early. Maybe she got a perfect 1600 and maybe she’s a National Merit finalist. Maybe she found out that I did worse than her. She’s really competitive, I’m sure that’s it. Yes, she found out that she got a 1600 and I got a 1200. I bet I got a 1200, too. I ran out of time on the calculator math portion and left a couple questions blank. Surely I tanked the test. I’ll never get into Stanford now. Even UC Berkeley is off the table. How could I have done this? I studied so hard, and I got a 1200. My parents are going to be furious. Stupid, stupid, stupid. What was I thinking?

The bell is ringing.

It is 8:55 am and the bell is ringing.

I shake the thoughts out of my head as I walk to my next class. SAT scores don’t come in until tomorrow, there’s no way she got them early. And I felt really good about that test. I’m sure I did much better than a 1200.

My mind jumps from SAT scores to classmates. I’m wearing a tank top today, I remember. It’s low cut, isn’t it? People will think I’m asking for attention with this top. Was that a sophomore boy looking at me? I think it was. People are staring at me. I shouldn’t have worn this top today. People are looking at me and thinking about how I am just vying for attention.

I hurry to my next class.

In chemistry, I see a girl wearing a shirt with a keyhole cutout. I exhale, relieved. If she is wearing a shirt with a keyhole, I can wear a tank top.

The teacher starts talking about valences and the periodic table. I pay attention, but a lot of it is review. I learned this last year in regular chemistry, why are we covering it in AP? She asks a question. Is she looking at me? She’s not looking at me. Why would she be looking at me? Is it my shirt? She wants me to answer the question, she wants me to answer the question, me, question, everyone is staring.

I clear my throat and say what I am 99% sure is the correct answer. But I say “um” and “like” a lot, and it takes me a little too long to get to the point.

She smiles and nods. I was right? I was right! But someone is looking at me. I look around. They must have looked away when I turned my head, but I can feel their eyes on me again. It’s because I said “like” too much. My dad says I sound dumber than I am when I say “like” a lot. He says it makes people associate the stereotype of the white teenage girl with me, and it counteracts my intelligence. I should stop saying “like” so much. And “um”, too. My mom says it makes me sound unsure of myself, when I should feel confident because I’m usually right. I bite the inside of my cheek. Why do I have to say “like” and “um” so much? I’m so stupid! I want to bang my head against the corner of the desk. Yes, yes, I want to bang my head and let it crack open like eggshells and let the thoughts in my head escape. My head feels tingly on top, and I really, really want to smash my brain on the desk and feel okay.

But I don’t. I hold it in and soon enough, the period is over and I can have brunch.

That’s what they call recess at my high school. I guess recess sounds too little-kiddish, but it’s a break in the mid-morning halfway between the start of school and lunch. It’s recess.

I walk to the quad and find my friends. One of my friends brought some cookies she made the night before and gives us some. I take half of one. My stomach growls when it remembers how hungry it is. I think back to the uneaten Poptart in my car and relish the emptiness in my stomach. It feels good. Like hunger eating away at my torso the way my thoughts eat away at my brain.

It’s time for third period.

I like history. Not as much as calculus, but it’s nice. I like to connect it to other subjects, like english or music or science. The one thing I can’t stand about history is the fact that we have to suffer through a textbook filled to the brim with words. I open the page to today’s topic and the words swim in my eyes. I long for the days of third and fourth grade, when books were printed large and with lots of space. I would take a 600-page history textbook, double-spaced, over the same textbook crunched 800 words to a page any day. I don’t care if it’s a million times heavier.

But I don’t get to choose, unfortunately. The teacher starts a discussion about liberalism in the governments of eastern Europe, and I tune out. I stare at my hands. I notice a hangnail on my right thumb. Better just take care of that. Oh, and another on my left ring finger. My left pinkie nail is looking a little long, maybe I’ll just bite it down. I might as well clean away the skin from all my cuticles while I’m here. Oh, and the scab from biting my right pointer finger too much on Monday is healed. I’ll just pick it off. Is it bleeding again? It’s bleeding again. It wasn’t healed. It stings a little. I bite my other fingers to distract it.

The bell is ringing.

It is 10:50 am and the bell is ringing.

I head to fourth period.

Biology is my least favorite class. So much menial work and rote memorization and none of the analysis. Where are the puzzles? The questions that shake you to your core? That’s what’s so great about science. Not knowing the difference between a genus and a domain.

As soon as the teacher starts talking I stare at my nails again. No. I bit them all last period. I have to stop for a while. I settle on chewing on my lip instead. There’s lots of skin peeling off slightly because they’re a little chapped. Soon I’ve peeled it away until my lips are left smooth, if a little raw. Nothing more to bite, though. I look down at my long hair, which is falling over my right shoulder. Oh, a piece of dandruff. I’ll just take that out. Another, over here. And over there. Oh, and look, one up near my ear. Soon I am combing my hair for the little pieces of white skin. I can’t stop. There’s no more to take out so I search deeper, smaller, closer to my scalp, where there’s more. I need to find more.

The bell rings. I pack up my pencils and papers and notice some hairs have fallen on the floor under my desk. Embarrassed, I shove them away with my shoe and hope nobody saw and thought I was gross and unsanitary.

Lunch is fine. I didn’t bring any; I usually tell my mom I’ll buy some at the cafeteria. But the cafeteria is disgusting and the line is insanely long. I snagged a container of blueberries from the fridge on my way out this morning. I eat that.

My friends talk about something someone said in one of their classes. I smile and nod along to the story and eat my blueberries. Smallest ones first, so I get the biggest, sweetest blueberries last. And, of course, I toss out all the mushy ones. I am now at the point where I know there’s still some small ones left but not many, so I have to dig through the container to find them before I can let myself move on to the medium-sized blueberries. I hope nobody notices and thinks I’m a freak.

My friend has to go to the bathroom and I do too, sort of, so I offer to accompany her. As we walk, she asks what I’m doing Friday. Nothing, probably. She and another of my friends have plans, she explains. Do I want to come with them? They’re going to go in the trails behind the other friend’s house and smoke pot. I say yes, I’d love to. Can we stop at Safeway first and get some candy and cookies? Of course we can.

I like smoking pot. I get the chance to witness everything in blurry slow motion. Usually it moves fast, but in high-definition, so I am forced to see every little thing. But when I’m high I don’t notice as much. I think I’m happier that way.

In the stall, I go to the bathroom. When I pull my pants up, I zip my fly and make sure it’s zipped. I put my phone in my back pocket. My fly is zipped, right? Yes, it’s zipped. I put my hand on the latch to the door. Just one more check. It’s zipped, nothing to worry about. Is it, though? Yes, it is!

I open the door and wash my hands. After I dry them with a paper towel I follow my friend out of the bathroom. Before I leave, though, I check if no one’s looking and while my friend’s back is turned, I check to make sure my fly is zipped. It is.

Fifth period is english.

I like english. I love analyzing books and understanding them. I’ve always found people, personalities, to be fascinating. To read someone’s writing is to see inside their head, see their most intimate thoughts written black and white on paper.

Today we have a discussion about the book we just finished reading, 1984. When the teacher asks us to write a paragraph comparing it to another book we’ve read, I compare it to Brave New World. That was another of my favorite books. I guess I just have a soft spot for dystopia.

The teacher reads mine aloud to the class. I am proud. This is good, my work was good, I am a good student, writer, person. Someone raises their hand when she’s done and points out an error. What? Yes, Lenina was a Beta, not a Gamma. No, no, no… It’s true. The classmate reads from the book for proof. Oh, no, I messed it all up. The writing is garbage now. No it’s not! It doesn’t matter whether she’s a Beta or a Gamma or a freaking Epsilon, that’s not important! No, I’m wrong. I messed up, I failed, I should be ashamed. I want to hide under the desk. I feel my cheeks burn up. I want to smash my head on the wall. I want to smash my head on the wall. I want to smash my head on the wall. I want to smash my head on the wall. I want-

The bell is ringing.

It is 1:30 pm and the bell is ringing.

I pull on my backpack straps. Next I have spanish.

I like spanish. It’s like a puzzle. In order to make a sentence, you have to piece it all together and remember the little rules and exceptions so you’re not incorrect. And I feel good when I get the answer right, and when Señora says I sound like a native speaker. My accent is good? Oh. Wow, thanks. I thought I sounded like a gringo idiot but Señora says I sound like I’m fluent.

We are doing an exercise where you have to answer questions in spanish in groups of two. I am paired with some random people from my class and we begin the activity. We’re studying the subjunctive tense, so the questions are sort of like, what foods should I eat? and the other person recommends some healthy diet choices using our spanish vocabulary. One of the questions is ¿Qué debo hacer para tener energía en la mañana? I reply, Recomiendo que Ud. se acueste temprano, que coma comida nutritiva, y que hagas ejercicio en las mañanas. As soon as I say it, I know it’s wrong. I was speaking in the usted form but I said “hagas” instead of “haga.” Stupid, stupid! I’m supposed to be good at this. How could I have done this? I should be in Spanish 1, I’m such an idiot. Everyone is mad at me, or disappointed in me, or probably both.

I don’t get to dwell on my mistake too long; the bell starts to ring.

My last period is choir. I like choir. I have lots of friends in that class, and I really love to sing. I’m the section leader for my chamber choir’s soprano section.

We’re working on our set for the fall show. The fall show is when we do our classical set. We have one or two pieces from before the 20th century, and the rest are contemporary pieces, which means they are experimental in rhythm and harmony. It’s lots of fun. Since they don’t follow traditional music standards, understanding my part is like a puzzle. I like puzzles.

We sing through one of our pieces and the teacher notices a part where we sound a little out of tune. At first I think maybe I am the one out of tune. Maybe I shouldn’t be section leader. I’m a bad singer and a bad musician. But she says the problem is in the tenor section. She takes a few minutes to work on that part with them while the rest of us wait. I am filled with pent-up energy from when I thought I was the problem, and no way to get it out. I feel fidgety and squirmy, like a thousand bees are buzzing around inside my head. I start to shake my leg, and I feel better. I can focus my energy on this. I am doing it for so long that I don’t even realize it. Finally the girl sitting next to me asks if I have to pee.

What? Why would you think I have to pee? Oh, my leg. No, I don’t… I feel embarrassed. I am distracting the choir with my unusual and inconvenient habits. I should stop. I can’t stop. When I stop, I feel the bees coming back, and it’s too much. Oh no.

The bell is ringing.

It is 3:10 pm and the bell is ringing.

I walk to my car. I see on my phone that my sister is going to a friend’s house after school and will get a ride to dance. Just me, then.

I leave the school parking lot and get on the road home. I am driving and I feel better. All of the nervous energy I had last period is seeping away into the road, and I feel calmer.

Someone is waiting to make a left turn in front of me, and they don’t move to the side enough for me to fit around. It’s a one lane road. People are lining up behind me, and I need to get around this car to go straight. People are lining up and it’s because of me, me. I need to go. I need to go around. I can’t fit. Can I fit? No, no, not worth it, just wait. I can’t wait! I need to go around, now! I go around just as the car in front of me makes the turn. I realize with a shudder that if that car hadn’t moved right as I started to go around, I would have scraped the side of it. Why am I so stupid?

I get home without realizing. The rest of the ride was spent replaying the image in my mind and thanking every power in the known universe that I didn’t scrape my car. I park in the driveway and go inside. My parents aren’t home yet. I walk into the kitchen and set my backpack down. My stomach growls. How much did I eat today? One bite of Poptart, half a chocolate chip cookie, and a container of blueberries. I’m not very hungry, I tell myself. I take another container of blueberries out of the fridge and bring it to the dining room table, where I pull out my homework. I finished my calculus. I have one page of chemistry, easy, and two pages of biology. I have to write a paragraph in spanish and read 5 chapters of Pride and Prejudice for english. I have to read a chapter of my AP Comparative Governments textbook. I start with the spanish. Then the chemistry. The biology takes a little longer, but I do it. I decide to read Pride and Prejudice before bed later tonight, so I pull out my textbook.

I have six different colors of highlighters and eight different colors of gel pens, and a notebook for taking notes, three different colors of blank notecards to make flashcards, even a little filing cabinet with tabs for my flashcards. None of it works.

I check the clock. 4:30, it snickers at me, judging me.

I guess now is as good a time as any to practice piano. I play through my classical repertoire, preparing for my piano Guild audition which is coming up in a few weeks. I have to play fifteen pieces, memorized, for the judge and they give me a grade. If I do really well, I’m eligible for all sorts of scholarships. Plus it looks great on college applications.

It’s now 5:30 and I’ve played through all my classical pieces. My mom won’t be home for another half hour, and my dad won’t be home until at least 8. I pull out my worn, tattered notebook from the bottom of the music cabinet. I’ve been working on this one song for a week or so, I play through what I have so far. I have an idea for the next verse and I jot it down. Hmm, the bridge. What should I…?

My mom is home. I shove the notebook under my other piano books. She walks in and smiles at me, asking if I practiced piano. Yes, I did. How long? An hour and a half. She says, good, and asks if I’m hungry.

No, not terribly, I had a big lunch. How was my day? Oh, it was good. Uneventful. Boring, even.

I walk back to the dining room table and return to my textbook.

Hours pass. It’s 8:30. Dinner, my mom says. I go to the kitchen and take a bowl of rice with tofu stir fry on top. My dad is going to pick my sister up from dance on his way home. I bring my bowl back to the dining room table. Government. Middle East. Let’s do this.

I get about a third of the chapter read by the time my dad and sister arrive home at 9:00. They’re playing music in the other room, my sister doesn’t have any homework. She’s still a freshman, homework isn’t a reality yet. I try to focus on my reading in spite of the music. I get to the halfway mark in my chapter by 10:00. I have to take my sleeping pill now if I want it to kick in by 11:30. I go downstairs and take my pill. While I’m here, I might as well change into some pajamas. I wash my face, too, and head back upstairs. Just a little more of my reading.

It’s 11:30 when I finally finish. I barely remember anything from the chapter, but I have random, irrelevant highlighter markings to prove that I got all the way through. I bring Pride and Prejudice downstairs and get into bed. I’m too lazy to go back to the bathroom to take my contacts out, so I remove them and flick them across the room. I wear daily contacts.

I get through one chapter of the book before I fall asleep. Thank god for melatonin.

Time passes easily when I’m asleep, and before I know it, the sun is beginning to peek around the mountains visible from my bedroom window.

My alarm is going off.

It is 6:40 am and my alarm is going off.

I reach over and hit snooze. Another minute, another hour, another day.

I’m not ready.


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