Goodbye to an Era

Today, I said goodbye to my school. I’ve been there my whole life, and as of now, I am no longer a student there.

I said goodbye to some friendships. I know that even if I try to hold on and keep going, they will slip out of my grasp.

I said goodbye to wonderful teachers. I’m going to miss them and their classes dreadfully.

I said goodbye to an era. It was hard.

It’s harder to know that my school friends are all boys, and they don’t understand the emotions I’m moving through right now. They don’t understand their role in those emotions.

Today, I met so many people that I’ve only ever known as names on screens. I put faces to classmates. Some I hadn’t interacted with in years. Some I call my friends. However, none of my friends were particularly good to me. They have all let me down, one way or another. As a whole, they’ve each left me with the burden of maintaining our friendship.

Perhaps that was why the most striking moment of my day came from someone I never called friend. Someone I never saw eye to eye with.

I was walking back through the halls after the ceremony. I’d collected my diploma and was passing the line of students still awaiting theirs.

He stretched his hand out to me for a shake. “Congratulations, Lexi,” he said.

I’m sure my face reflected the surprise I felt, but I shook his hand. “Thanks, Matt, you too.”

How is it that those I called friend could feel like anything but friends on this day: our high school graduation? And yet, some people I never took the time to know blew me away.

I can’t help but be sad to wave goodbye to a precious time in my life. My sadness doubles when I realize I have no one to talk to about it. It triples when I remember those I should be able to talk to don’t actually care. I’m finally pushed to tears when I acknowledge those I call friend aren’t really friends after all.

It was a good day. Dear friends and family made the long drive to come watch me wobble across a stage in heels. The ceremony was shorter than I expected, and it was sweet. The speeches were humble and honorable. The video I contributed to was well received. I sat beside two wonderful people. However, the greatest part of my day was being called onto the stage with seven other students to receive specialized department awards; being wrapped up in a hug with my favorite teacher. Finally feeling…justified, in front of my peers.

I am ready for the new era. I’m ready for deep and meaningful friendships. I’m ready for college and trying to be a grown-up.

Deep inside, I will always miss my childhood and my school. But I think that it’s a good sign that I feel ready to fly away.

Wonder

I sometimes wonder if the stories I’m taking such care to craft will even be widely read, appreciated, or enjoyed. Their style is vastly different from everything I’ve written thus far. They aren’t dark, necessarily…they just have darkness in them. Darkness is popular with the modern teenage audience, leading to the popularity of dystopian series. However, my books don’t offer a corrupted government, a dramatic romance, or a war. Instead, they simply show…the reality of darkness.

I wonder how interesting they will be to read. They will be character-driven, instead of plot-driven. Will the endearment of characters make up for the lack of battles, sword-play, and adventure?

I wonder if I will ever be finished with this planning stage. The mountains of untouched, undeveloped content tells me it is unlikely.

I wonder if I will ever master the art of creating side-characters, as my current track record is to either give supporting roles their own novels, or allow them first-person perspective in the midst of their friend’s story.

I wonder if I’ll manage to conquer the beast of a timeline I currently have.

I wonder…

Laurie

They were too alike in temperament. That much was obvious, perhaps to everyone but themselves. He realized before she did. They were just…too similar.

Perhaps not as similar as they needed to be. As she reflected back on years of jaunts together, she remembered–she realized–what their differences truly were. Countless quiet rejections came to mind. Rejections that he hadn’t meant, because he didn’t mean anything. And she meant everything.

That was it. Truly, it was. It had to be. How could someone so passionate in everything she did meet with one so neutral? It couldn’t be done. It wouldn’t be done.

She gazed out the rainy window, droplets cluttering her view to the outside, just like the memories in her mind. Good memories. Memories that were all for naught.

I am a candle, she reminded herself. A fireball. And he is a vacuum. A lack of anything. He would have extinguished the light, eventually. You’re lucky to have known before the light went out.

It was just as he had said. “Everyone expects it, Jo.” Everyone who knows nothing. Because the union they were expecting would never come to be.

Won’t that surprise them, she thought. Good. Let them be surprised. And let me glow brightly again.

 

Threes Are Traitors

This past week was one of my last FIRST Robotics Competitions. Next week will be my final one, unless we win and attend Championships. It was an intense emotional roller coaster of failures and successes. I have never had a smoother scouting program than this past week, and each of my scouters did excellent in their own way.

When I think back on this weekend, I do not want to be negative, as I am often prone to be. I don’t want to focus on the mistakes that cost us our win, or the system of ranking that doesn’t seem to make sense. I want to remember our captain coming to the stands to tell me that teams were happy to be in matches with us, even though our rankings showed us to be a poorly performing team. The smooth motion of a mustard-colored gear sliding up a jiggling peg under the steady hand of our pilot. Dancing in my seat next to my friends. Being the first team picked for playoffs outside of the top eight ranked teams. Most importantly, many games of Fish Go.

I want to remember sitting in the third floor hallway, shuffling cards with my friends and trying to muffle the giggles that came from many sleep-deprived nights and the exhaustion that our responsibilities bestow.

I don’t know why a simple game of cards (or countless games of cards) is so important to me. I won’t remember who lost or who won. But they feel significant. Sitting on a strangely patterned carpet in a hotel hallway for over an hour with a mix of exhaustion induced laughter, serious thought, and grave game-play errors is important to me.

Aces are our favorites, except for the twos who take them.
Threes are traitors.
Fours and sevens stick together, unless they meet a ten.
Fives run off with face cards frequently.
Sixes do the same.
The eight of hearts will always be the most valuable to us, even though we aren’t sure why.
It’s hard to lose a nine.
When you both lay down Jacks, Queens, or Kings, the tension runs for the one, two, three, flip.
Especially when you lose your ace to a two.

I Miss You, Bro–I Mean, Cuz

For all of the arguing we’ve done in our lifetimes, it’s hard to think I’d miss you. But I do.

We’ve had plenty of fights. I can’t count the number of times Mom said, “The No-Touch Rule is now in effect.” I’m sorry I poked you in the stomach so much. Then again, you did put a pillow on me and use me as a seat.

Regardless of all the water wars and general blunders, I know you have my back when it really counts. I know you have a listening ear when I really need it. The feeling is mutual.

I’m so proud of how much you’ve grown up. What happened to that little boy in the sky blue polo? He’s suddenly almost a man. (I mean, there was that whole “adolescence” thing, but I think we’ll just pretend that era didn’t happen.) He’s working hard, connecting with kids, sharing bits of himself with those who need it.

As I make this college decision, I wish you were coming with me. When it comes down to it, I don’t want to be too far away from you. I’ve had enough of that this year. I mean, being away did you a lot of good, and I saw you more than others did. But being so far that we won’t be around each other once a month, at the very least?

Who’s going to volunteer to drive me home from camp so he can just talk and get a new perspective? Who’s going to stop by and ask me how I’m feeling in the mornings when I have a grumpy look on my face? Who’s going to stick up for me whenever I get into dumb arguments with people over little things? Who’s going to be mistaken as some kind of boyfriend and help me embarrass people when we say we’re related?

I mean, we can message each other. But isn’t the same as when you wrap your arms around me in a “bear hug” and I try to jab you with my elbows.

I just want to say that if I do go away…farther away from you than I’d like…that I’m going to miss you a whole lot.

And if I am further away, then I’m sure God will use it to benefit us.

Thanks for being the best cousin I could have asked for. (Well, actually, the best cousin ever probably wouldn’t have sat on me, but I guess it all balances out since you gave me your jacket when I was very intelligently sitting in front of an air conditioner on a spring evening trying to sell books.)

Friendship Crisis

I came to the realization yesterday that if I were to stop putting effort into my friendships, I would only have about two or three left. That was rather sobering, to realize that so few of the people I call “friend” actually contribute to what is considered “friendship”.

As an only child, friendship has always been important to me. I cherish relationships with people. However, most of these relationships are rather one-sided. I’ve always been more than happy to do more than my share of the upkeep. Right now, though, I’m not sure if I’m alright with that anymore.

I have a couple of people who can’t contribute anything to a conversation. They simply laugh after everything I say, and when I try to turn the topic to them, they shrug and say that they have nothing new to share. Others only have one way to communicate with me, and they realize it; however, they choose not to check it frequently enough to actually talk. Some turn the topic of conversation continuously to themselves, even when you’re trying to speak to them about something.

It’s utterly exhausting, trying to keep everything straight. It’s even more frustrating to not have anyone to talk to.

At this rate, I’ll be thrilled to go to college by spring, considering I might actually meet people interested in friendship.

I don’t feel that I’m too unreasonable. However, it could be that my relationship ideals only exist and thrive in a fictional setting. That would be greatly disappointing.

So here I sit. Desperate for conversation, but with no one to talk to. If I email them, will they answer me within a week? Say they answer my message, but they only sending laughing emojis after each thought of mine? Or maybe I’ll try to communicate something important to me and they’ll want to talk about coats.

Perhaps I need to dial back my sense of humor. As much as I enjoy my class clown image, it may be more beneficial for friendship to be less hilarious.

NaNoWriMo Jitters

Here I sit. One hour until National Novel Writing Month officially begins. My sixth attempt; I am historically successfully.

And I am terrified.

All I have been able to say about this for the past two days is “I’m not ready”. And I haven’t been able to say it to anyone. So I turn to you, dear reader, in the absence of anyone who cares to understand my severe apprehension.

I have the plot ready, so that isn’t my problem. In fact, I’m rather excited for this story. In my last book, my characters experienced the tough parts of growing up. Now, they’re experiencing some of the more exciting elements. I have a more simplified plot, along with starting and ending places.

I think my characters are ready. I know what has happened to everyone in the last year. Where they have stumbled and struggled; where they have grown. I’m excited for them, yet also heartbroken. I’ve designed this plot to be the end of this “Toner World” I created. The end of my childhood stories.

Is that what’s bugging me? It’s my senior year. I have so much on my plate, and everything is about to change. Oh, for crying out loud, everything is changing. Everything is already changed. I don’t have any best friends; I have responsibilities in every part of my life; I’m growing up.

I want to be excited to jump back into this world. And as I begin to talk about it, I’m getting excited.

Is that my problem? I don’t have anyone to talk to? And it’s not that I don’t have anyone to talk to—it’s that the people I talk to don’t care about my writing. For goodness sake, today I tried to bring up my writing to my one friend, and they said “dun dun dun”. That isn’t conversation. That’s a sound effect. I can contribute those on my own.

Am I so sick of not having anyone care? Is it manifesting in this upset bubble of “not ready”?

Actually, someone does care. I received the sweetest, most encouraging card the other day. They care.

Well, there’s one.

I guess I’m just in an odd place right now. For example, I’ve been growing out my hair since I was ten years old. But I’m in such a need for a change, I have an appointment in a few days to chop it off.

Do I need change? I know I’m sick of maintaining my long hair. I’m sick of a lot of things.

I guess what’s important is, I’m excited to wake up tomorrow and reenter the world of my characters. For the last time. The last November.

At least they care what happens to them.

And I love them for it.

Parodies

Once upon a time, I found I possessed the skills required to write decent parodies. Granted, they aren’t perfect; they don’t always feature rhyme schemes, and occasional words must be sung rapidly. But I manage to tell a story; a new story with old music. I think that’s rather cool.

Because I think that’s cool, I write parodies more often than I should. “Why, Lexi,” you ask. “More often than you should? What’s that supposed to mean? That’s great that you can write them, you should write them all the time, just to have them.”

Yeah. Wouldn’t it be awesome if my brain worked that way?

Instead, my brain decides that we need to play it on guitar.

And after we learn how to play it, we practice it.

After we’ve mastered it, we record it on our phones and share it with people.

After we have a basic recording, we want to record it for real.

When we record it for real, we want to mix the audio nicely.

Once that’s done, we want to make a video to accompany it.

You see how this works?

No matter what it is, I end up putting an incredible amount of effort and passion into things. I can’t just write a song and think, “Huh, that’s cool.” No, my brain will not rest until it has finished the project. This leads to unfortunate lapses of sanity, as I latch onto multiple projects and try to see them to completion all at once.

For example, I published a book recently and am making efforts to market that. Meanwhile, I’m pondering what I’ll be doing for NaNoWriMo this year and doing tiny spurts of research. Yet, I’m dividing another share of time to another series I’m working on planning out.

Four different plans of my own for Robotics are fighting for my attention, while several other necessary aspects of being a part of the leading committee are also tugging at me. Occasionally, camp will lean in and whisper a remind in my ear of something I need to be doing. School has started its incessant pounding and pulling; and smaller, enjoyable responsibilities begin to adopt the role of “chore”.

Welcome to the creative mind.

Kick-Off Ramblings

Every year at this time, my world turns upside down. I sit in a crowded room stuffed with nerds. We huddle around a projector, eat pizza, and hash out ideas excitedly for the next six hours.

It’s kick-off. The start of the FIRST Robotics Competition season. The game reveal. The design options. The functions.

The inability to concentrate on anything else for the next six weeks and beyond.

This year, the game is incredibly complicated. As a leader in strategy and scouting, I’ve already been presented with several challenges in just two days.

Yay…

This year, I would love for us to be an AMAZING team. I want us to have everything together. To get to the World’s competition on our own merits.

Unfortunately, that’s incredibly complicated.

Here, see for yourself.

Isn’t that great?

Anyway. I’ve spent so much time thinking through strategy in the past 36 hours or so, I may have broken my communicator.

This is my documented challenge to myself to make sure we do our very best this year.

Goodnight…