Friday, November 21, 2008


Thaaaaank God.
Iiiiiit's here.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the pits of hell

Hello all,

Just got back from my third

Monday, October 13, 2008

Saturday, October 4, 2008

too cool for school--well, weekday school, at least.

So I just got back from my classes at the local state university. I'm really psyched about them. The first one, Historical Mysteries, Conspiracies, and Intrigue, is taught by this really wacky guy who reminds me of the instructors at CTY. His teaching style is quite eccentric. First of all, he's very excitable, and when he gets enthused about something, he starts shouting. Then he goes back to speaking in this very soft, low voice. I find it entertaining. Also, he goes off on magnificent tangents--we went from Lizzie Borden to Galileo and ended up spending 20 minutes on disproving his famed 'the cannonball and feather will fall at the same time' statement. Personally, I was saddened to learn that my teachers had been lying to me about this for the past eight years, but I'd always suspected them slightly anyway, and besides, that's how it goes. The regular people lie to you, and then the weirdos reveal the truth.

The second class, Preparation for PSAT/SAT Mathematics, is taught by this very pretty young teacher who seems slightly anxious. She's good at these specific types of problems, though. She's taught high school math for a while, so it is to be expected. I think it's going to help prepare me for the SSATs next weekend if I do the homework she gave us, and for other tests in the future over the next ten weeks. Plus I have definite room for improvement in math. I can use all the help I can get.

(PS- I have decided I love Jack Johnson.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"endless summer"

It's funny how you can use something once and then decide that you'll never use it again, even though it's perfectly good. It just isn't right to use something with that much emotional value again.

For instance, I'm sitting at my desk, and I'm noticing the three-quarters-full Endless Summer Moisturizing Mist and Linen Spray on my window ledge. I'm thinking about the fact that I used that spray so excessively at camp, and I'm thinking about the words "endless summer," and what a lie that is, and I'm thinking about my view of the city from my window, which is perfect, but no one else can see how perfect it is because when I show them how it looks in a picture, they just can't tell. (I'll upload my view later, because right now Blogger is being uncooperative. You can't tell, but actually, people who make postcards would totally pay to set up their tripods and whatnot in my room because it's so amazing.)

Seems to happen a lot. Something is really incredible, but others just cannot see it from the pictures. It looks meaningless to them.

Oh my God. I really need to delve into my drawings or something. Listen to me.

I'm going to go sketch something now. You better hope it's not more eyes--for your own sakes.

the smart one

Thursday, September 18, 2008

here, chicky chicky chicky

Yup, that's right--we're talking about STOCK!

It's okay if you don't get it.

Anyway, we spent a day in History class this week talking about the crashing stock market: between Dow, AIG, Merill-Lynch, and the tragic Lehman Brothers, I came up with the following for the class forum. My teacher liked it. What do you think?

As I understand, the American economy has suffered a few pretty substantial losses recently. Merrill-Lynch was taken over by Bank of America, and Lehman Brothers declared itself bankrupt after giving out too many mortgages that it couldn't maintain. Also, AIG's stock dropped 60 percent, Dow had its worst percentage drop since 2002, but neither of those are as big a deal.

I think the events happening in America's economy today are pretty concerning. Actually, the events happening in America today in general are pretty concerning. But the events in the economy are especially concerning because if there is as little attention paid to them as there has been to most of the other issues lately, there isn't much hope for the American economy.

My only question (that I can think of, at least) is why all of a sudden everything is collapsing.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry

I know I haven't posted for eight days! For lack of a better word, I am so sorry! I wish I had had more to write about, or even just the stamina and presence of creative mind to write about nothing, which is what the really talented writers could do. Unfortunately, I'm not that good yet.

So. I love rainy days. I think they're great. Rain is so romantic if it's done right. Not necessarily romantic romantic, though it often is, but romantic as in the style of writing, as in the feeling of calm and classic and perfect. Many things can be perfect in the rain--if it's done right.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


You guys!

They published me on TeenInk RAW! I'm so happy. I was just starting to wonder when I'd hear back from them, and I did! I've been published. Yes.

I love getting published. I adore feedback.

Here's the link toTeenInk RAW. I can't give you the direct link to my poem because then you'd know my name and where I live. Look at it this way--it'll really be honest feedback if you comment on my poem without knowing it was mine.

Thanks for reading and bye.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

back to cool

That's what they say!
And speaking of speaking (man, can you tell how much I have always wanted to use a segue as cheesy as that?), my little brother just started at my school and says it's the best school ever and he never wants to leave.

I have just one thing to say: !

Actually I have a lot more than that to say. I got into the car with my mom and just started blabbing and didn't stop for ten minutes until she forced me to listen about my brother's first day. So first of all, I have what my last-year social studies teacher calls "the dream homeroom." I have several friends in there, and all in all, it should be great. In fact, it's one of the few things I'm optimistic about. My ex-teacher also said the funniest thing. She told me that the popular girl, let's call her Grace because there are no Graces at my school, actually has a lot in common with me once removed from "certain social influences." This is to me a fascinating concept because I have never been popular and find it close to unimaginable that I could be friends with the popular girl. However, my mom had a friend in college who was just that type--popular pretty cheerleader--and they were practically inseparable. So I'm interested in this possibility.

Friday, August 29, 2008

short and sweet (unlike obama's 43-minute speech)

Hey everyone,

You see the Democratic convention last night? What a great speaker! I don't think the guy who wrote the NY Times article I read was as enthused about it as I was.

And I didn't read the article about it yet, but did you hear McCain picked a woman for VP on his ballot? Wannabe much?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

finally I can nap

I have finished The Chosen!
I have run three miles in 30 minutes without stopping!
I have had a fully efficient and effective day, which, believe it or not, has only been going on for five hours so far!

Also, I have used up my daily reserve of exclamation points. Phew.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

the unexpected

You never know when someone's going to do the unexpected.

It's interesting.

Friday, August 22, 2008

the houses may be prefab, the mindset may be postfab, but I'm fab for all eternity

I am kidding.

I know it means prefabricated. God.

Develop an appreciation for humor, wouldja?

Well, I went to MoMA on Thursday--for those of you like my friend who came with me and had never been to MoMA, that's the Museum of Modern Art in NYC--and saw a couple of awesome things there. I've been dying for some intellectual activity ever since I got back from New England, and I was only too thrilled to go. All I did for a month was walk and bike and hike--and of course, forget the book I was supposed to read for summer homework. The only museum-resembling place I got to go was the Loon Center, meant a hike, which was only supposed to take us about 45 minutes but ended up taking three hours when we got lost.

So anyway, see the first picture? That's something I took on my phone of the description of one of the housing units, System3. The structure, my least favorite, captured my mother's eye because of the text here highlighted: the units may be STACKED. Stacked! How thrilling! I've always wanted to have the freedom to stack my living space.

My favorite was Burst*008, the one created with a computer formula, but I didn't get a picture of it, and I don't believe in finding pictures on the Internet from things at which I was physically present. (Of course, if I could only be there in spirit, bring on the Google images.) Instead, I provide ici a photo of the Micro Compact Home, 76 square feet of living space. I thought the irony of me liking that one was harmonious with the irony in my life: similar to the way I prefer the tiny house, my favorite friends and guys tend to be short. Even my sister, my life consultant, is short for her age.
Sorry. I know it can get dangerous when I talk about irony.
Well, I'm going to go figure out how to scan drawings onto my laptop, because it's making me sad that the latest ones on here are from January. Don't worry, the reasons for that are not because I've stopped drawing, they are that
b) midterms/final tests/projects/4th quarter report cards flung me into a time-sucking pit of stress
c) suddenly I decided I wanted to join the track team
d) after that whole crapload of work, I was off and running on a long summer of travel.
But I'm back now.
But now I'm going to the scanner.
So bye.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

how does it feel to be a problem?

Yeah, I'm asking you! The pressure is on!

No, but actually, that's the title of this book I heard about yesterday on my way home on WNYC. The full title is How Does It Feel to be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America, and it sounds great. They interviewed the author and one of the subjects--I don't remember her name, but her story is that she won for high school president at 15 against all odds and then was forced to resign because her religious beliefs wouldn't allow her to attend the dances, and she was supposed to be present at every school event.

This guy supposedly just asked around his Brooklyn neighborhood in the Arab community, and, by word of mouth, it turned into enough stories to write his book.

So... here's the WireTap article. If for some reason you do read it, not that anyone who reads this blog would want to, but if you do, please tell me how it is--I still have to finish my summer reading. That's me, the bad student.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I love my dad

There are two wonderful things my father did for me today.

1. He drove me home, at longest last, from New England back home. It was an eight-hour drive, but I'm thrilled beyond all possible expression to be here.

2. He presented me, God bless him, with a copy of the 2009 Poet's Market!!!! Over 1600 listing for presses, magazines, journals, contests and more! WHERE AND HOW TO GET YOUR POETRY PUBLISHED! Oh, I am so happy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

i love not camping

Well, I'm pretty much done with the country. Between the water bugs, ants, crickets, and spiders all keeping us company at the breakfast table, I think I've had enough.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Fill in the U.S. for both the fattest and the most coked up nation on Earth."

That's a quote from this article, Highest Traces of Cocaine Found on US Bills.

Ironically, I am feeling too creative to post right now, so check out the list of poetry and prose websites on the right. Sorry and ciao.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

very very little italy

It's like my dad said--once you've lived in New York, you can never appreciate anything. And I hate to admit it, but it's so true. I went to Boston today, and we went to the Museum of Science all day. We saw the computing exhibit (which, of course, my dad found greatly interesting), a little of the heart-stopping electricity show, the childish 3D bugs-going-to-the-moon movie, the planetarium presentation, and the Imax sea monster movie. Wanna hear something bizarre? We also breezed through the baseball exhibit. How much more out-of-place could that possibly be? Are they seriously in that much of an idea rut?

Then for dinner, we went to The Pour House, a bar and grill with a cool casual atmosphere--paper towels on a holder adhered to the wall instead of napkins--and good food, but absolutely horrific musical choices on the radio. It hurt to listen. Plus it seemed like if we'd gone there anytime later than we did--around five--it would have been packed with partying yuppies. However, my taco salad was delectable.

Then for dessert, we headed to Mike's Pastry in "Little Italy," which made me sad about not being in New York. It was cute in a way because of what I described to my dad as its "non-Little-Italy-ness," but mostly just funny. The Italians there seemed to be trying really hard to be Italian, whereas in the NYC part of town with the same name, Italian people are just existing, being and speaking Italian. I got a great apple square--sounds stupid, but it was quite tasty--which I vowed to save for breakfast tomorrow morning but liked so much that I ended up gobbling it all. Mmm.

Related Links (click away, please!):
Boston Museum of Science
The Pour House
Mike's Pastry
Paul Revere House

We wanted to get a quick look at Paul Revere's house, but it was sadly closed. Did you know it's the only 17th-century building remaining in Boston?-->

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

women with babies

Right now I am reading The Cider House Rules, which I love. It's John Irving--I love him--and it is about obstetricians, or birthing doctors. There is a lot of medical stuff in it, which I don't love but don't mind either.

Anyway, the reason I'm writing this is because--if you haven't noticed already, most of my posts are spurred by sudden anger or other emotion--I am mad. There is a women a computer computers down with a very loud crying baby. Why would you bring a newborn to the library? Just have some consideration for other people, please.

Monday, August 4, 2008


So we're in the post office, sending my little sister at camp four packages, and my brother finishes his root beer, the purchase and consumption of which my mother strongly discouraged. She's kept talking about the 14 teaspoons of sugar in one soda and how models' number-one way to stay skinny is to abstain from drinking soda, as if my 8-year-old brother would care. Anyway, though, he finishes the root beer, and he's looking for somewhere to recycle it (he's an eco-friendly kid). He spots a blue plastic receptacle labeled "Recycling" by the table and heads over to pitch his soda can. Unfortunately, it is only for paper products, which my mom begins to say, when a woman standing by the table stamping her letters says, "It's for recycling, not trash."

Trash. Even my little brother knows that can wasn't trash. It's a recyclable material. But not to the people of this state. Oh, no.

Five seconds later, we're walking through town, and we pass the souvenir shop. Beneath the blue awning of the store lies a small platform with a dog bowl of water. However, people have been using it as a trash receptacle, and it's full to the brim with garbage.

My mother and I are simultaneously struck by the same thought: Oh my God. Does it get any more sad and poignant than this?

You know, in this state, you have to pay for recycling? That's right, you have to drive a while to the recycling plant and pay to recycle. I can't wait to get home.

All right, I'm done with my italics. Comment on the poem, please.

Quick news update--I felt somewhat obliged

16 people were killed in China and now they're all freaked out about the Olympics

Did you know that it starts on 8/8/08 because 8 is the lucky number of the Chinese? I learned that when I was in Hong Kong 2 months ago. Then at camp everyone was saying the Olympics had already started, and I was like, No way man, you got your facts wrong!

Poem for my stranger (composed on a BlackBerry)

I hope if you could see me now,
You'd still think I was cool.
Hair piled high in a messy bun
(--I know you like it
The other way--)
A sweatshirt drags below and drowns
My hands,
Jeans muddy and wet
From the dog
Whom I hate.
Toes gritty from wearing flip-flops
Would probably poke fun at me)
On that two-hour hike through
The New England woods.
Eyes puffy and miserable
From waking sleepless at four.
Head throbbing
From crying my eyes out just before bed
and not having the energy to get up
and take out my lenses
and brush the pie I'd eaten in an attempt to cheer
myself up
off my teeth.
For reasons indiscernible even to me,
I am reading
Seventeen magazine
For the fifth listless time in a row.

I guess I hope you remember me
For what you saw me as:
Clean, pretty, cheery, witty,
Showering at six in the morning
And going to bed at eleven
Or one
Or two.
I guess I hope you liked how
I was.

On the other hand
On the other hand I hope that
Wasn't what you liked.
On the other hand I hope you remember
The sarcasm and snappiness,
The flippant lack of care for the rules,
How a notebook cover
Could not just be a notebook cover,
But had to be a canvas.
How I tried to read
The Cider House Rules
But ended up with my forehead nestled between
the pages,
Too relaxed to do anything
But lie there
And listen intently
To whatever happened to be playing
On my iPod.
When uninterested,
I would take whatever hapless piece of paper happened
to be lying there--
Drawing book, notebook, handout on which it was
vitally important
Not to draw--
And draw on it.

I hope you remember
That intense, foggy look I would get
When misunderstood
And how much more intense it would get
When communicated
To you.
Through your eyes.

My stranger,
It isn't that I could forget those eyes
But that I could forget you.
Meaning falls from a page,
Leaks through a picture,
Slips away from clothes,
Seeps out of art.
The eyes
I have.
I know.
You cannot see a stranger
And forget his eyes.
Have you ever tried?
You can't.
But my stranger,
My stranger's eyes will not only be not forgotten,
But forever ingrained
Behind mine.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bailey, you suck.

Bailey is my dog. A cockapoo, to be exact, is what she is, a five-month-old cockapoo. She makes me insane. Try six hours of the morning alone in a tiny cabin in the middle of the woods with no electronics, a five-month-old cockapoo, several different insect infestations, and an eight-year-old boy, and you will see what I mean.

Or try three and a half hours in the car driving to the animal hospital after said cockapoo has consumed a plate of 70% cacao truffles and is spazzing and panting and jumping up and down on your knees, giving you scratches and scars that look like you've been cutting yourself, and you will probably get the same drift.

Or better yet, try eating the first real food you've had all day while watching this very same dratted cockapoo vomit intensely for a very long time, and the same state of mind will most likely begin to grow on you.

Lucky me, I got to do all three yesterday when the fifth of a series of six guests to visit my family this summer left a gift arrangement of truffles on a low-lying table after--and this is the killer--already having seen Bailey jump onto that table. She, of course, had to promptly fly into disaster mode and interrupt my mom's class, yelling about "an emergency with the dog," which made my mom think Bailey had run away or been hit.

So we ventured off to the animal hospital--of course it had to be a Saturday, when the vet was closed--and the guest ventured off to the airport. Yes, she left. She stayed for one night, poisoned our dog, and left. Quite a pleasant woman.

Basically, I had such a wonderful day yesterday that I don't even have the energy left to tell you about it, especially because I'm working on some typing for my mom that she's paying me 20 bucks for, and I need the money.

Uh-oh, ominous wind. Sounds like another tornado, almost. Bye.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

more about hair (hey, I'm bored)

Well, once my mom gets out of her close-to-the-end-of-the-summer-school-session faculty meeting, we're going to go into town and possibly get the dog groomed. Mom keeps asking about whether I remember the name of the groomer, and I keep reminding her that I didn't even know there was a dog salon here. Then tomorrow, I'm going to get my hair cut, yippee! I have miserable split ends. Weirdly enough, there are about six different spas, salons, etcetera here in this miniscule place. I guess little New England towns have to really have everything right there within a one- or two-mile radius, because when it's winter, you're completely snowed in.
That reminds me of my mom's friends. They've lived in Brooklyn for years--one of our Brooklyn friend-families--but they just recently decided to move to a tiny town in Canada. They have two small children and a yippy dog. They've also got an amazing house. (In fact, it turned out to be such a good investment that the father stopped working.) I wonder if they realize how totally removed from the rest of the universe they are going to be from about November to March. I mean, that's a long time to be crammed together in what looks from the pictures like a very small house with a screaming 9-year-old, 2-year-old, and puppy.
Not to be morbid, but the puppy may die.

Speaking of New York, I've been harboring this weird wish to move there. I mean, it would be a two-hour commute to school, but especially considering the fact that I have to wear a uniform, it would make me really feel like a student, which I like to feel. It would be like, oh, I'm getting up at 5 a.m. and leaving the house at 6 so I can catch a bus, look at me, in my plaid skirt and polo, I'm so devoted! I would love to feel that way.

All right, obviously I need to calm myself. Ooh, Nilla Wafers. Yum. Bye.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

And now to get on with it.

As I've been trying to do my whole life.

I think I need a haircut. I had a dream about it last night. The same dream, however, also included dancing and performing slapstick with a monkey and getting a call from an unattainable boy, so I don't think I'm going to base too many grand life decisions off of this dream.

I'm feeling really fat. All I can eat is carbs. It's one o'clock, and already I've eaten:
  • 1.5 waffles with whipped cream
  • a small bowl of cereal
  • a piece of bread with cheese
  • a large amount of macaroni and cheese with ground beef
  • M&Ms

Not that you would care. Not that anyone cares about any of the things I do or try to point out.

Time to go drop off my sister at camp, where she will be for a month. Bye.

my mom told me to go blog about my emptiness...

So naturally, I ended up writing a piece about cows, which are the current metaphor for the void that is my life. (I know, being melodramatic is fun, isn't it?)

Why everything in my life right now is centered around cows.

1. Cheese - Cheese has begun to play an important role in my existence. Between cheddar bunnies, macaroni, and Kraft's American Singles (which seem to be popping up uninvited everywhere), cheese is taking over.

2. Earrings - My earrings are shaped like cows. My sister got them for me as a birthday present. These earrings seem to be the only thing that people, including my own mother, notice about me. Even my little brother said, "Oh, those are really cute." So did Brittany, one of my mom's students, who is astonishingly rude and actually wears tye-dye. Not to be mean, but who actually wears tye-dye as something other than clothes to sleep in?

3. Salt/Pepper Shaker - I think it's the pepper shaker, but then again, it could be the salt, or it could even be one of those horrid things where someone has actually come along and ruined my day by bothering to mix up the salt and pepper inside of the shaker so that no matter how hard you try, you always get an ugly grey mix of spice that cancels itself out. Anyway, the pepper shaker is shaped like a cow, and it seems to be part of a kind of conspiracy.

If you have any suggestions on how to tame this wild takeover, please put them in the Cbox.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I miss the city. Really a lot, I do. Who knew staying in New England for the entire summer would be so freaking hard? I mean, I did it last summer too, but last time I left in the first week of August to go home and help my dad paint the house. This time I'm here until August 22nd or so, which will be interesting because I haven't started any summer work at all, and it's all at home, three hundred miles away. What I really want is to be a 20-minute train ride from the middle of New York again.

What else is hard about this is that you can't get away from anyone here. You can't get away from your family at all, you can't get away from the town, and you can't get away from the kids. The other kids are everywhere and they're super-annoying, faculty kids where my mom is teaching. I'm always a faculty kid. It's part of my identity. I feel like I should have a superhero name. Watch out, America, it's the Perpetual Faculty-Kid-Girl, with laser-beam vision into the deepest, darkest faculty room lairs. Because believe me, I've seen it all, from a crappy computer room with a coffee machine and a single armchair to an air-conditioned lounge with three Xerox machines, a fridge and a microwave, and a consistent spread of donuts.

Well, I have to go now--my mom's done teaching. Time to put on my leather leggings and become...


Sunday, July 6, 2008


Hi everyone, I'm at nerd camp, so I can't be on the computer until roughly July 20th or so. My dad's visiting, so we're at a diner and I'm using his laptop's wireless.

I am very full. So now we're blowing this popsicle stand to go check out the WalMart Superstore (which is super depressing, with all its fat people and cheap stuff) so I can stock up my dorm room.

When I get back from camp, I promise I will write you a scathing story. I'm already writing character analyses based on my hallmates and classmates. Meanwhile, while you're waiting for me to return, check out this article.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

OK, Fine, Now It's The Fifteenth

All righty people. I'm going to give you a quick bulletpoint rundown on the past six days.

June 10th

  • hung out around the house while Annie made calls and wrote emails, ate breakfast

  • headed out to Maxim's Palace with Tim, Annie, and Annie's husband (sans Colin and Brian, who were at school)

  • ate some weird food

  • hiked up to the Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas, taking photos the entire short walk up

  • took enormous amounts of pictures of the temple and surrounding incredible-ness

  • it started to pour horrendously as we were walking back down, and we got soaked

  • wet t-shirt contest (being the one wearing a thin white shirt, I believe I won)

  • went back home to dry off and hung out until it was time to go to the hotel where we'd be staying for the last five days of our stay in Hong Kong

June 11th

  • got food and ate breakfast in the room, which, I might add, is not too shabby

  • headed to the mall; bought a magazine for Hanna and a mini guidebook with two fold-out maps--one of Central and one of Kowloon--for me

  • went to Hong Kong Park, much against Hanna and Nate's will

  • visited the Conservatory in the Park, which was beautiful and thrilling

  • came back to the hotel, by which time Dad was done working

  • met Dad for lunch

  • saw Indiana Jones

  • went back to the hotel and watched TV and ate until we fell asleep

June 12th

  • got up, breakfast
  • Dad went to work and we hung out in the room for a while
  • consulted my miniature guidebook for directions to the world's longest escalator
  • bickered with Hanna and Nate for a while, who wanted to take a taxi there instead of walk
  • lost the argument
  • took a cab to where the escalator starts near Central Market
  • rode the escalator, which is more like a long uphill moving sidewalk, to Hollywood Road
  • convinced Hanna and Nate to get off at Hollywood Road because I'd heard it was a great place to shop and get lost some
  • walked around Hollywood Road a little and bought souvenirs and a necklace for Hanna
  • took a taxi back to the hotel
June 13th

  • stayed in the hotel room until noon, sleeping and hanging around, before getting up the energy to go out
  • consulted my mini-map again to see where the library was, but ended up going online because evidently there are tons of public libraries in HK
  • took a taxi (I know, I know, we're lazy bums) to Hong Kong Central Library
  • stayed at the library for a while, checking out the Chinese picture books and computers in the 6-floor establishment
  • ate at the library cafe
  • got lost a little in the streets around there--well, we tried. Actually, we ended up going in a complete circle and trying to hail a taxi back home. Taxis are stingy about picking up little kids standing alone in the rain.
  • went back to the hotel upon Nate's request
June 14th

  • got up and had a special breakfast at one of the schmancy hotel restaurants, having a breakfast buffet that would have cost US$50, complete with fruit-topping-topped Greek yogurt and cocoa Rice Krispies (!!!), which I didn't know existed
  • Dad went to work for a couple of hours, during which time we went shopping.
  • first tried to find a graduation dress for Hanna in the mall, which didn't work out
  • then went to street market only a New York block or so from the hotel and got a purse that a neighbor had requested we get her
  • met up with Dad back in the hotel room and went out to the Wan Chai computer market
  • went to the HK museum of art
  • went to Cafe de Coral
  • went home

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Today is June Thirteenth

Yes, it most definitely is. I've finally figured out--with two days to go, no less--that the time here is equivalent to home time plus 12 hours, which I knew but did not connect. So yes, I now know that it's June 13th. And I haven't written for four days.

On June 9th

We went to the pool all morning. Hanna and I were there alone with Nate for several hours, getting along just dandy. At about noon, Annie finally came with Brian, catching us just as we were wrapping up. She told me to get ready to go out with Colin and Tim to a recreational club. Colin's friend, Margaret-Ann, had invited him to come to a club she belonged to. Margaret-Ann was with a friend, Sophie, who was intimidatingly pretty and dressed like I think I'm supposed to as a girl my age. They seemed like nice-enough girls, although Sophie kept repeating the phrase "Oh my frickin God!" over and over to such an extent that I almost blew up at her.

First off, Colin, Tim, and I caught a subway into the middle of the city, where we hailed a cab and took it all the way to the club. Clubs are very big in Hong Kong, as I've both noticed and read, be they family recreation or gambling. Ours was the first, obviously. When we got out of the oddly silent taxi ride, during which no one said anything to each other, the girls were standing there being all giggly. You can just guess what I thought of that--'Oh, great, I'm in for a long afternoon with this kind of people? I'm so glad I made the social effort.' Because it had truly been an emotional schlep to drag myself out of bed and go meet a couple of girls who I'd never met before. The threat, of course, was that they could be really cool and good-looking and exclusive for all I knew.

They treated Colin unlike a nerd. This threw me totally off-balance because when Colin lived down the block from my family, we were the freaks of our school, the geeky crew who didn't really want to hang out with each other but kind of had to, along with Tim. Combined, we represent the epitome of our stereotype: between the computers, braces, twitchy nervous habits, senses of superiority, and the piano, we're a freaky gang. (Our parents are all friends, dooming us to a life of being grouped together.)

But I'm pretty sure Colin likes Margaret-Ann, so they're good friends. Add to this her tight friendship with Sophie, and you've got an equation for a (at least a little) popular guy. Who doesn't like a ladies' man?

Sitting at the western fare dining area on the deck surrounding this weirdly huge rec club, I felt a pang of awkwardness. I was so confused. Just because Tim and I didn't know those other two girls didn't mean no one would have anything to say, did it? I'd done everything right so far: I'd come, I'd smiled a lot, and I'd gotten a Sprite instead of a seltzer so I would look cool and not wimpy. Maybe it was the fact that Margaret-Ann had already gotten a Sprite...maybe it made me look like I was copying her...Goddamn being social! It was so hard! Was this what a group date was like? Jesus, was this what hanging out with other kids was like? 'No wonder my "friends" are always coaching me as to what to do and say,' I thought, amazed. 'No wonder I haven't got a boyfriend! I'm completely socially inept!'

When the torturous three-quarters of an hour of eating was through, we went up to the "Teens Room," skillfully both lacking any apostrophe and indicating a sense of trying too hard. We played foosball, air hockey, ping-pong, and pool. God, pool took the longest time. In total, we were probably up there for about two and a half hours. And somehow, even among people I would probably not see for years, most likely never see again, I managed to make myself the outcast.

This is why I have a blog.

Then--it's getting painful to relive this, so I'm making the rest quick--we went bowling, back to the game room, and at LAST, Colin, Tim and I took a cab and a subway back to the settlement where Colin lives with Annie, Brian, and their ever-traveling dad.
coming soon: june tenth, eleventh, and twelfth

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday, June 9

I just woke up from sleeping through my second entire night of sleeping!! Hanna says to tell you that she slept all night too. Yesterday went like this.

We woke up at around 6:30 or seven. I took a shower, and then we had breakfast. Then the boys finally woke up and we went to the Dragon Boat Races. In the beginning, Dad and Hanna and I just stood there and watched for 15 minutes or so while the boys played on the beach where the races were taking place. Then, while they continued to play, Hanna and I took Dad "exploring" in Stanley because the races were not too exciting. They were just there, along with a whole bunch of foreign people in matching Lycra t-shirts. First we walked up through this little street to a cafe because it was burning hot and so incredibly humid. We got iced lemon tea and pizza breads. Then we continued up to a Haagen-Dazs, where Hanna got one scoop of cookies n cream and Dad and I shared two scoops of green tea ice cream, which I wanted because I thought it was exotic. It certainly did taste like green tea. I didn't have that much of it because I'm making an effort to detox, but it's not working out exactly. Maybe I'll detox at home, or if that doesn't happen, further into camp.

We rambled into Stanley Market and out to some random little piazza by the water surrounded by places like "PizzaExpress" that screamed 'tourist trap'. Dad took pictures of the water because it was so incredibly polluted, sickeningly so. When we were done taking pictures and looking around at the various beaches on the shoreline, we went back through Stanley Market to the open street we'd come in through, with the Haagen-Dazs and the cafe. Lots of little shops were housed on this big stone setup. We bought my mom some gifts.

When we returned to the beach, we stood there for a few minutes while Colin (Annie's son who's my age), Tim (Colin's visiting friend), and Nate got their shirts and shoes on. Then we walked up to find some taxis to get us home. Once home, we ate some lunch, and at about 1:30, Hanna and I went to the pool. We hung out there for a really long time before Colin and Tim got there, and then we hung around with them for an hour or so. Finally Annie showed up with Nate and Brian, Annie's younger son. Hanna, Colin, Tim and I went upstairs to play badminton. Then Barbara and Felice got there, local girls. One of them lives in the complex and the other is her friend. They're Hanna's age, and very silly. It was fun playing badminton with them, but then they wanted to go swimming with me and Hanna. That's when they got annoying. Pushing us into the pool over and over again isn't that funny, and it's even less funny shooting freezing cold water guns at my back in the dressing room after I just took a hot shower, where there are people with dry clothes.

After that, we headed into Central in taxis and a bus to have dinner (Dad finally talked Annie into it). Once we got out of the bus in Central, we walked around for a while and then found an outdoor Chinese and Thai place. We ate family-style, with a variation of foods from calamari to fried rice to greens with garlic, being careful not to have any chicken. Then we went to an ice cream place called XTC--read 'ecstasy'--where I got a single scoop of mango sorbet with rainbow sprinkles.

Anyway, we were planning to go up to the Peak in a tram, but the line was insane, so instead we walked to the ferry to see the light show. The ferry ride was short and sweet. This guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around, and he said something I couldn't make out, so I said "I don't know." Witty, right? He looked at me like I was insane and said, "My name is Ajid. What is name?" I, ever the clever one, stared at him for a second before turning around. Dad later said to say "My name is I'm ** years old". Haha. So we got some amazing pictures of the buildings in their light dance. Have to go--breakfast. Bye!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

It's hard not to notice...

  • the overabundance of students wearing absurd school uniforms, especially girls
  • the banyan trees hanging thick with moss and palm trees that seem to be everywhere
  • the bizarrely random English words on people's T-shirts, e.g. "Natural Dog" or "Satisfy With Smile Make Happy"
  • all the pretty young girls who dress really well
  • the crazy narrow streets
  • how close to the curb the bus drivers careen
  • how every female is wearing some sort of heels, whether they be a pair of slightly raised ballet flats or six-inch stilettos that seem destined to fall the storm grates
  • that everything is translated into English, or sometimes even written solely in English
  • that people look at their feet a lot when they walk
  • that the American music they play at the mall is basically on ice-rink level (very very bad)

Random Facts

  • There are 9 dialects of Cantonese
  • Cantonese is a tonal language, where a swerve of the voice can make all the difference
  • The number 4 means "very unlucky" and can be said differently to mean "death"
  • 8 is extremely lucky, and gifts are often given in quantities of it
  • In about 20 years, the street market culture will probably be gone (sad)

More HK Diary

June 4th

Today we got up and went to Kowloon. First we walked around the local market. There were so many cultural differences; it was surreal. I love how all the women are the same size. They're small-boned and thus tiny, with straight black hair. Everyone here always seems composed.

For some reason, Western clothing is widely worn: cheap graphic t-shirts, depressing neutral-colored polos, mesh shorts with white stripes running down the sides. Yet the posture of these people is so much better, and they carry themselves so well, that the American garments appear almost charming.

Even the older women seem quaint and elegant. There is a kind of organized chaos about the whole place, a different kind of aura. That's definitely what it is: a peaceful, mutual hurry, and fast-paced serenity, with everything and everyone in their place. The feeling is like when, in a movie, the character stands frozen in time while he watches life continue on at light speed all around him.

I'm sorry, I just got so relaxed I couldn't think to write.

At the open Kowloon food market, young girls, old women, and middle-aged men sell their wares at different stands. I like it so much more than Stanley, which I have recently decided I hate. There are bunches of grapes, huge and triangular, like when you doodle a bunch of grapes. There is durian, the worst smelling fruit in the world, which is banned from being brought onto the subway in Singapore for its smell. There are huge oranges, tiny rambutan and lychees, fruits that look like something you could never imagine, like a cross between an artichoke and a pear. The butchers ruthlessly cut up meat with giant knives six inches high, slicing so fast you're convinced they'll chop off their own hands. Huge sides of beef hang amiably side by side with long, chunky pigs' legs (I never realized pigs were so tall).

Then we walked to the Jade Market, a vaguely indoor setup of so many jeweler's stands selling the exact same things: "jade" bracelets, a glass circles on a string, little glass Buddhas, woven friendship bracelets with charms on them. Everyone claimed what they sold was real jade and tried to prove it by lighting a lighter to it. I guess that works for those dumber tourists who know nothing about jade or stone, because all that trick shows is that it's not plastic. The sellers all tried ripping us off insanely. People look at me as something of a token. I like this alienation, though. It's not lonely. It feels kind of good.

In the end, I bargained (well, Annie did the bargaining, I stood there nodding) a thread drawstring neckalce with a purple glass flower from HK$120 to HK$35.

Then we got lunch at this huge local place where we were the only Westerners, which was great. There was fried rice, different kinds of rolls (from sweet with barbecued pork to spring to rice), greens, everlasting noodles in soup, and Hanna tried chickens' feet. I tried to try it too, but I only had the guts to get some of the coating. I dislike cartilage.

We went home and slept forever, then ate really good chicken and biscuit stuff. I dropped to sleep--after two movies and some reading.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Right Now, In The Early Frickin Morning

It's quarter of two in the morning here and I'm bored as heck. I've been awake for a long while now, and I'm beginning to realize the horridness of being up in the middle of the night. I really sympathize with my mom now when she talks about how she's been up from two to four or whenever it is because of her sleep apnea. And the worst part is that Annie made me and Hanna stay up all day so we wouldn't be up in the middle of the night! She let us sleep at around 6 and then got us up after a while for dinner. Then we went back to sleep. Hanna's totally out, but I'm buzzing with energy!!

2:17 - Hanna just woke up because she's having a nosebleed. So here we are, awake and bored bored bored.

2 A.M. - More HK Thoughts

At this point, I am bored beyond all measure, and wish with all my heart that I could be back at school for the last day. Only for the last day, and then I could magically come back to Hong Kong.

Anyway, here is one of my computer documentations. There's more writing in my physical journal, you know, the kind with binding and lined pages, but I can't find that in my room and don't want to wake anyone up looking for it. For the record, Annie is a friend of my parents. She and her husband have one son my age and one younger son. They've been family friends since I was a baby. Annie and her family moved to Hong Kong some years ago, and so we're staying with them.

June 3rd

Here in China, it's 3:45 in the afternoon, and we're waiting for Annie to come back with the boys from the dentist. Last night, we were so jet-lagged that we were up until 3 in the Hong Kong morning. Then we ran out of stuff to do and fell asleep. Today we were woken up by Annie at 10, which felt miserably early. I had toast for breakfast. Seeing as we didn't get to eat lunch until 3, I was burning with hunger all day. So we went into the Stanley Market, which is a difficult-to-explain outside mall. Then we went to Taste, the supermarket right near there, which Annie said was about as big as they get in Hong Kong. It was tiny. There were no more than 3 checkout lines. The slogan for Taste is More Than Food. It took a lot to not make a crack about that. Then we went to the pool with Ophelia. I read The Chosen while Hanna and Nate swam. Then we walked back to the house and we ate cheese and turkey sandwiches (Hanna had salami on hers). Annie says she has to food shop every single day. I think that sounds painful.

Once we got back from the pool, we hung out with Nate for a while. When Dad got home, I crashed into a deep sleep on Nate's little yellow mattress, which is in the same room as Dad's bed. Dad did the same. I didn't wake up for an hour and a half, that is, until 6:30, when Hanna got me up. Dinner was mashed potatoes, chicken, broccoli, and corn. Hanna and I woke up Dad to eat, and we thought he was coming up for dinner because he turned over and opened his eyes and said he'd be right up. We waited about 15 minutes for him to show up, at which point Hanna went back down to see if he was awake. She returned saying that he sent his regards but couldn't get up. Annie says he'll be up at four in the morning, which is probably true. Annie set up the DVD player with the TV in me and Hanna's room, so we watched Robots. I still hate that Rodney, the main robot character, ends up with that flashy high-class business lady robot and not the cool young one, Penny. That's OK, though. I guess there will be enough time to make amends to automaton culture when I'm not thousands of miles away from home, sleeping on someone else's couch.

Annie says that there's some big festival this coming weekend for Tin Hao, the goddess of fishermen. We saw a shabby little temple today for that godddess. This is going to be one of those festivals where they use the long boats with a drummer at the back. I'm so excited! She said, though, that she wants to get there before the festival actually starts and then leave when it gets too packed, which sounds like kind of a letdown.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Thoughts on Hong Kong

I have returned!! Much to your delight, I am sure, I have been permitted to blog because it lets me write every day, which my literature-craving brain needs. Here, I will now post the journal I've kept until this very moment of flying to Hong Kong. I have to exclude some more personal parts, though. Enjoy! I'll update tomorrow.

In The Airport – My Time=1:05 PM, Sunday, June 01, 2008

I’m sitting in the food court because our gate is full, and there aren’t any seats for us. Dad is waiting in line with Hanna and Nate at A&W. I saw a sign for A&W when we were on the moving sidewalk, which advertised it as “All-American.” That, I think, is kind of disenchanting, considering the board depicted a greasy bacon cheeseburger and almost moldy-looking root beer float. But they’re in line anyway because Hanna and Nate both want burgers. I think I’ll get a muffin and maybe a Snapple. I’ll get diet Snapple if they have it, but definitely not peach. I got that once at the upper school drink machine and it was disgusting, plus it left a weird, cold aftertaste. Instead, I’ll get lemon flavor...or that one that sounds like it.

1:14 – I’m BACK, and beware, I wield a corn muffin and bottled water. Hanna and Nate returned with a “cheeseburger,” fries, onion rings, and two root beers on a blue cafeteria tray. Truly, the whole thing has just been charming so far. OK, Hanna just finished eating her half of the burger she was sharing with Nate, and he’s totally thrilled to be eating it, as he keeps making satisfied sounds. Why do men grunt? I hate that. Anyway, Dad just came back—with a lemon diet Snapple! Unfortunately, he appears to want to drink it. I have faith in my powers of persuasion, though.
Ew, what is Dad eating?! It looks like some sort of toasted and breaded innards on lettuce. It’s fine, though; I respect that he tried hard in this option-lacking plastic bore of a food court. Well, there’s only about 10 minutes of charge left on this bucket of bolts. Later.

In The Air – 12:45 to go

That is, according to the little TV on the back of the seat in front of me. Actually, even that’s a lie—I looked at the TV that the nice middle-aged Chinese guy next to me is watching because I’m too lazy to pause Juno for a second to look at my own. I was only watching Juno to pass the time; it became boring after about ten minutes. However, I had to do something, and the “dream big” exchange about the Weimerauners (don’t know how to spell that) is only the best thing since sliced bread.
Oh my gosh, I almost forgot to say, even though Dad’s travel agent said she had gotten me, Hanna, and Nate three seats together, we’re actually all sitting in different rows, all in middle seats. I’m in Row 33, Hanna’s seat is in 26, and Nate’s is in 28. Lucky them, though: Nate got whoever was sitting next to Hanna to switch, so they’re sitting together. I’m between the Chinese dude and this young, slightly good-looking, irritable- and uppity-seeming guy who’s with his three friends, two of whom happen to be sitting right behind us.
The young guy—who will from now on be referred to as Jon, no matter what his name is—is watching Casablanca, which totally increases my faith in this whole on demand movie system they got for the TVs. It’s really great. I think there’s probably a genuinely decent selection, considering they’ve got Casablanca, Juno, that movie Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway that I have an inexplicable desire to see, and Forrest Gump (Hanna’s watching it; it’s become her latest obsession, and she’s pushing me to watch it).
Jon got up to go somewhere a little while ago. I’m wondering what happened to him. The lavatory, whose name reminds me painfully of the Survival latrines, is only two yards ahead of my row.
I’m back; Jon just returned from the bathroom, a cocky grin on his face—“It’s a long ride, so I can’t guarantee I won’t be doing it again.” Exactly who uses the word ‘guarantee’ if they’re a normal person? Actually, never mind, that wasn’t fair. In the mini-limo that came to pick us up, I started talking to Hanna about how twisted and corrupt I believe the media to be, in response to her inquiry as to why I don’t freak out about flying. She scolded me for “doing nerd-talk.” I didn’t tell her that I actually get petrified about losing luggage on the suitcase carousel.
I’m sad that I chewed up the mint I stole from Nate. (Emily says that the way I grind stuff up in my teeth—ice, Tic Tacs, etcetera—says a lot about me. I say it’s part of my I do about all my flaws.) It was one of those fancy speckled ones from Icebreakers that came in the green tin, boasting about all the energy it supposedly possesses. I don’t understand why Icebreakers got a makeover. It seems like they’re trying really hard to be cute and Zen, which I totally respect, but personally, I think they should stick to their guns. No gum, mint, or any other breath-freshening helper should be doomed to be the misfit in the drugstore candy rack.
I had a dream on Friday night, the weirdest dream I’ve ever had about school, save for the one where a boy I know was dancing atop our dining-room table and my bed simultaneously in a tank top and cargo shorts. In this dream, the whole grade was in this huge, really nice, high-ceilinged cafeteria. Everything was highly glossy and sophisticated, the walls were an unimposing yet fresh and cool light green, and the tabletops were made of circular glass panels that seemed to be floating mid-air.
AND NOW FOR A BRIEF INTERMISSION: The Chinese guy on my left is watching a freaky techno movie with digital numbers and people who look like Chad Michael Murray.
We now return to our feature presentation.
I tell you, my subconscious goes wild when I sleep. Freud could find a hundred psychoanalytical mysteries in my messed-up mind. (I can't continue with the rest of this dream because it gets too offensive to other kids in my school.)
I feel like listening to my iPod but am starting to feel slightly stupid for two reasons. First, that would be a waste of entertainment reserves. Second, the existence of a clock right there in the corner of my screen just registered in my tiny brain, which I coulda-shoulda-woulda consulted to record the time when I started to write this. Well, I’ll calculate it when I feel like summoning brainpower. Besides, now it’s 7:55 my time, so there you go.
Ooh, turbulence! The captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign! This is exciting. Yummy, darkness...maybe I’ll go to sleep. Have to take our my lenses. Let the records show that I should be able to fall asleep because I’ve been dozing from 8 to 6 lately, for reasons unknown.
Bye-bye, my little electronic one. Sleep tight.
It is currently 3:28 AM my time, and I am awake, hopelessly and entirely. There’s no way I’m getting back to sleep. The TV says that we have eleven hours to go still. God, it feels like it’s at least six. Why did Jon have to have his window open? All that Arctic ice is so bright it glows. Oh well, I won’t write any more because this is probably gibberish, considering the time. I’ll just be annoyed with my iPod’s incapability to play “I’ve Just Seen A Face,” eat my sandwich (maybe), and watch a movie.
UGH I’m so bored...and tired...but we’ll never ever get there and I’ll never ever fall asleep! Wait, just realized: I must’ve somehow dramatically misread the time, because I just looked at it again and it says FOUR HOURS! WOOHOO! OK, I’m watching The Holiday. Cameron Diaz looks sad.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

just because I'm posting doesn't mean I'm back

Read the title.


Good. Because just because I'm posting doesn't mean I'm back. In fact, you should just pretend I never even posted this.

Anyway I just wanted to point out how VERY MATURE some people are, such as all my friends...seriously...I can name about 10 off the top of my head who are completely 3 years old.

That's all. Now I'm gone again.


Today in Algebra I sharpened my pencil on both ends and now it's an inch and a half long.

OK now I swear I'm going. Have a nice summer everyone!


Sorry, but I won't really be posting until September.

Bye y'all!

Have a great summer--I'll be learning ancient Greek, for God knows what reason. Maybe when I'll come back I'll post in ANCIENT GREEK!!! WHOA!

Monday, April 28, 2008

books n stuff

You know what book I like? Of Mice and Men. Whenever I come on to my blog and am trying to think of a title--my titles usually spur the topics of my posts--I think of writing, "I done a bad thing, George," as the title because it seems so catchy, like it would encompass anything if you really wanted it to.

Moving on. Slacking off is easy. My friends and I were sitting in the corner at Extended Day after school and being lazy in all different, beautiful ways. One was playing with her Mac laptop charger, which has these plastic pieces on it that clip on and off for no reason. Another girl was in front of her massive pink Dell laptop on Yahoo Answers, on which she spends apparently a lot of time and loves. The third girl was stretched out with her To Kill A Mockingbird packet and dictating questions for Pink Laptop Girl to ask on Yahoo Answers. Me, I was just spacing out and making up excuses to talk. At one point I annotated my social studies textbook (without a highlighter), but that's about it.

Obviously we are in desperate need of some LIVES, please.

Then, because God just can't let me have one good day without anything bad, my mom called me while I was on car line. See, I'd heard that track was canceled because of the bad weather, but oh no. She informed me there had been a meet and why wasn't I there. I responded that I had no idea.

This is why I am screwed. Can I not have a single nice day? Can I not talk and say things that don't sound weird (for once) and flirt and prove the English teacher wrong and finish all my homework really fast? One time?

No. I should've known.

And no I am not being a whiner!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

cycles of addiction

Unfortunately, I'm in health for the last quarter of the year, so today we learned about inhalants. The only thing that stuck for me was the term "cycle of addiction," which, although it's about something serious, strikes me as funny whenever I say it or think it. For instance: cycle of addiction!!

Doesn't that make you laugh? No? OK.

I have a confession to make: I've been a bad Jew. I've chewed 2 pieces of gum, eaten 2 Tootsie Rolls, stolen 2 chips from my friends' lunches, and had a piece of cake made by my friend Katy that was absolutely to die for (hate the expression but had to use it, sorry).

I feel so naughty.

Also, there's something else I have to rant about--that's what this blog is for, anyway, ranting. I hate it when other people get me into trouble. My friends have gotten me yelled at by my advisor three times in the past two days, and it's definitely not fun. Also, in French class today, the girl behind me kept kicking my chair, so I kept moving up my desk, until the teacher finally singled us out and scolded us because she "had to talk." I'm sorry, but she's lecturing all class; does it kill her to say something else? And it was the other girl's fault. It just was. If you're reading this, Olivia, I am totally going to get you kicked out tomorrow.

Just you wait. All of you...mwahahahaha...

Just kidding.

Hey, guess what? I got a 16.7 on my 100-meter today at the track meet. It was fun. Some people said I was fast. Also my friend lost her tiny stud earring under the bleachers in a moment of brilliance. Yeah, I do hang out with some smart people.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

kids at my school

Kids at my school are so judgmental. Just because someone goes to public school or is black doesn't mean anything. But because they're all stuck-up and go to private school, they think they're so amazing. My English class was interesting today because my teacher wouldn't call on me when I had something contradicting to say about what this girl had said. She'd been saying stuff about how "at a public school, someone with a Louis Vuitton bag is, like, popular, but the other poorer kids aren't, so the girl with the Louis Vuitton bag would be more comfortable hanging out with the other rich people."

No comment.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Why I Am Iris" update

Fast forward six days. It was the Wednesday before my bat mitzvah. I was lying on the couch with one of Hannah's magazines and a bowl of Rice Krispies—therapy food and intellectual reading—thinking about seeing if there were any decent movies on TV when Dad walked in with the kind of determination on his face that either meant I had a chore to do or he had accomplished something and was about to tell me to get off the couch so he could watch some kind of sport. Or occasionally it meant he'd just gotten off a particularly long conference call. In that case the determination didn't really make any sense; I liked to imagine it was determined frustration with whomever he was just talking to.

He slapped down a piece of graph paper on the coffee table in front of me. Hasty black words ran across the page, letters running into one another and being capitalized where they shouldn't have been. When Dad was a child in school, teachers had tried to make him write with his right hand because they were still convinced that being left-handed was evil. He wasn't ever actually taught to write because he supposedly a spawn of Satan. Talk about bias affecting someone's life—now we know that even spawn of Satan deserve to learn to write. There was also a pen in his hand, the Bic kind that lets out lots of ink when you don't want it to, which he didn't seem to know what to do with. He discreetly set it down on the front hall radiator behind him. "That," he told me authoritatively, "is what has to be done before Saturday."

I gulped. "Not family cleaning time. No way."

"Why doesn't anyone ever want to clean?" I gave him a look. "Fine, fine, you're young, I get it. Youth is wasted on the young."

"Dad. The saying is, 'Life is wasted on the living.'"

"Goes either way. Look. I need you to make a list of songs for the candle lighting, and then I need you to help me with my not-a-Jew prayer." OJ Simpson, not a Jew, I thought, remembering a lyric from Adam Sandler's 'Hanukkah Song.'

"How long do I have for the list thing?"

"About an hour. Then I'm going to the gym." My dad got more endorphins than most people out of exercise and practically had an obsession with the gym. Happiness and wisdom were his two biggest aspirations, what he wanted out of life, and between his crazy job, family problems, and other whatnot, he had a right to go to the gym if it made him happy.

"OK, thanks." I smiled briefly and returned to my cereal. Finally, I gave in and turned on the TV. Unfortunately, as tends to happen when you trust a television, everything on was terrible. The choices were few and far between. Did I want to watch Super Sweet Sixteen or Dora?
What was I asking myself? Who would want to watch either of those shows? Depressingly enough, the answer to that question was most likely everyone I know. I poured the rest of the Rice Krispies down my throat. Manna from heaven for a tortured soul.

The next day, I left school early to get a facial and manicure. The best part about that afternoon was that I got to miss band practice and softball. My friend Julia and I made up half of the whole flute section in our school band, and she was dramatically better than I was. In fact, I was so embarrassingly bad that I made every effort not to actually blow any air into the instrument so I wouldn't wreck her chances at becoming part of the New York Philharmonic. The same was true about Julia in softball; I felt like all the spectators at our games were only there to marvel about how magnificent that girl with the flowing blonde hair was and how she must have been playing forever. She was the best friend who did everything better than anyone else, who would end up being a supermodel and a high-paying lawyer, who would retire by the age of forty and live in a beautiful Park Slope apartment. There was no way I could ever beat Julia. It was saddening to know her and yet an honor to even have met her.

The woman who painted my nails was wearing way too much eye makeup. She reminded me of my fifth-grade social studies teacher with her caked-on foundation and layers of overly thick mascara. Her eyes were sunken deep into her face, which made it incredible that she could apply so much glittery green eye shadow. The overabundance of cosmetics made it difficult to look at her.

At one point, Dad came in to see whether it was time to pick me up. He turned out to be fifteen minutes early, but Makeup Lady was thrilled. She eyed him from beneath her Vera Wang glasses, which she obviously didn't need for vision but was wearing because they were the hallmark of New Jersey suburbia: not classy but shiny enough to pass. "Is that your dad?"
I noted her not-too-shabby diamond wedding ring. "Yeah."

"Ha! Thought he was your older brother."

Ick. Don't talk. Just give some of that attention to what you're getting paid for. You're painting my fingers. My nails, lady, you're supposed to be painting my nails. God. "Haha. Yeah." I grimaced.

"What does he do for a living?"

Oh my GOD. "Um, he's the director of the IT stuff for a major law firm." Her face expressed totally undisguised incomprehension. "He works with computers at a law firm," I said slowly.
"Oh computers, that's nice."

Uh-huh. You know what else is nice, is having your nails painted. My mother is not paying eighty frickin dollars or however much this salon scams you for so that her daughter has red hands and white nails at her bat mitzvah. PLEASE FOCUS. "Yeah." I twitched.

"Oh sorry." "No, no, it's OK." Of course it's OK. Everything's OK when your bat mitzvah is in two days and your grandmother has decided that both her brother and stepbrother have to have prayers in their honor and your math grade is suffering and your brother was just hospitalized for three days. Everything has to be OK.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

savannah outen

I'm trying so, so hard to dash through and write my entire short story. I was on a roll until I looked up "Stop and Stare" on YouTube and found Savannah Outen's video of it. Turns out she's a 15-year-old "online singing sensation" with over 29,000 subscribers on YouTube. Her music video just debuted at the high school where she shot it. She has a single and music video coming out later, as well as singing the Star Spangled Banner at the LA Rangers game on April 27th, my sister's birthday.

Cool, huh. Not that I think she's so great or anything--I mean, she sings pop songs, which I hate--but it is amazing that she really has gotten this far. It's pretty fairytale.

Oh and by the way, if you comment on the snippet I posted just underneath this post, I'll give you the awesome ending I've already written (guess I'll have to write in the rest of the story too).

part of my short story, "Why I Am Iris" - middle

That night, I dreamt my parents got divorced. It was bizarre, a mix of Little Manhattan, which I'd just watched, and my mom and dad's fight over Bailey. It had been the middle of dinner when the dog's leavings had been spotted on the front hall rug. My dad loved that rug. He'd bought it as a Christmas (which we celebrate for fun) present for himself, along with the cell phone for my sister and new curtains for me. My mom and I, however, hated the rug with a passion and wanted to get rid of it, expose the beautiful, golden hardwood floors with honey-colored diagonal slats that ran a constant throughout our entire house. To put it simply, the rug was ugly and reminded us of stewed tomatoes; the floor was pretty and reminded us of caramel; basic human instinct appeals towards physical attractiveness.

My dad was to this rule, as with every other, an exception. He went for tattered Converses, paint-spattered jeans, leaving cobwebs trapped inside the windows because they provided "character." He adored the tomato-sauce rug with the polluted-ocean border and was terrified to remove it lest the wood floors' glow become diminished by thunking backpacks and stomping feet. When he spied, out of the corner of his eye, the dog turd on the carpet, he got that look in his eye. The look he got when talking about putting his dad's huge old Poughkeepsie house on the market, the look he got when my sister talked back, the look he got when my brother left the seltzer uncapped or I didn't say hi to him after he got home from a week in Boston. This was what we liked to call the don't-look-at-me-like-that look. If only looks could kill.

So he sent the death glare to ten-week-old Bailey, eating the strap on Hannah's flip flop, and stormed over.

"Do it how the vet said," my mom piped up. My dad, of course, grabbed the thing's neck so hard that I screamed. I am not a scream-y girl, but when I heard Bailey squeal like that, I admittedly got scared. He shut Bailey in the crate and returned to his seat at the head of the table. At this point, my peaceful night of chicken and rice became Dinner Theater.

"I would really like it if the dog were paper-trained," Dad said angrily, eyes glistening.

"Well this is how I'm doing this," Mom replied, still calm. "I raised four dogs, all paper-trained like this. I know what I'm doing."

My dad's face hardened. "I'm getting sick and tired of my house getting ruined by the damn thing." He was pulling the man-of-the-house card. Don't do it, I mentally cautioned him, don't do it, she hates that, don't...

"Fine. Do you want me to put down the paper and station myself in the kitchen and watch it all hours of the day? 'Cause that's great. I'd do it. I have nothing else to do." This is what happens, I telepathically told Dad. She has unearthly amounts to do. Don't even go near that nerve. She's gonna kill you. Or worse, she might even cry...oh Dad, please...

He rolled his eyes at the speed of quicksilver. "I just don't see much of an effort being put into it."

That was it. Right to the chase. I could sense what was about to happen. "You don't see much of anything." Ouch. I felt a vibe; I knew Hannah and even little Nat were both thinking about Dad's other life in Boston, how much he was never home and we missed him, how much Mom must have missed him. It was almost like she was a single mother. I remembered how, last winter, Dad had promised to tell his boss Mary that the traveling had to stop or he would quit. Since then, the flying back and forth had increased so much that every single week, without fail, Dad spent two, three, maybe even four nights a week in Boston. Whatever happened to promises? I could kill Mary.

Mom went upstairs. I looked at my chicken. Nat looked at Hannah. Dad had the look.

So the day after that fiasco, when I woke up from the divorce dream, I ran downstairs to make sure my dad's other promise hadn't been broken: that he would not repeat his parents' actions and put us through the turmoil of divorce. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw Dad bent over an Ampad Evidence legal pad. His arm rested at an odd angle. I tilted my head to further examine it. I must have turned my head too much, because he glanced up momentarily and yelped, knocking over a carton of orange-mango juice with his weirdly bent elbow. He let out a colorful streak of swears. "Sorry," I offered.

"Jesus Christ." Apparently he'd spilled most of the juice onto his lap.

"Don't use that language, please, Brett," my mom sang, appearing in the cupboard with Bailey in her arms. She'd walked from the landing to the kitchen by using a short stairwell we'd dubbed the "secret stairs." I never understood why it was ten steps shorter than the staircase we used to get from the same landing to the front hall. I probably never would.

"Don't let the dog—" Dad stopped short at Mom's warning glance. "There's decaf in the second coffeemaker," he sighed with a tone of slight defeat.

"Great." She smiled and put Bailey down, who promptly dove into her Ikea food bowl. I walked around to the kitchen table and pulled a chair over to the cabinet with the plates, reaching for the highest shelf. I needed to wake up. Hopefully pulling a muscle or two in my arm would do the trick, since I couldn't make my own coffee and obviously no one was offering.

"What the hell." Hannah made her charming entrance.

I jumped down from the chair. "Iris, your father hates when you do that," Mom said drearily. Was this supposed to be news? As four- and two-year-olds, my sister and I had been disallowed to even jump up and down for fear of knocking down the plaster on Dad's precious basement ceiling. Thus I ignored her.

"What the hell yourself, Hannah." I punched her carelessly on the head. "What are those, like, swim shorts or something?"

"They're called Soffes, idiot." She kicked me in the back. I grabbed my spine in pain.

"I know they're Soffes but those are, like, obscene. Where'd you get them, Maggie?" Maggie was her tiny, scantily clad best friend.

"Shut up," Hannah retorted, all-knowing. She selected a coffee granola bar and pulled off the wrapper lazily.

"Hey...those are mine...I need caffeine..." I halfheartedly tried to grab it from her, but Hannah crammed it in her mouth. "Twit," I groaned.

"Butthole," she responded, mouth full of coffee beans that were rightfully mine. "Whereza ice cream?" she demanded, opening the freezer. She found it and commenced eating Rocky Road with a tablespoon.

I resigned myself to position of eldest-child bottom-feeder.

Mom had ignored the entire interaction between me and Hannah but thankfully picked up the word 'caffeine.' "Iris, would you like some coffee?" My eyes widened. "Can you make it yourself?" I opened my mouth to respond that she knew I couldn't make my own. "I mean add your own sugar and Lactaid and whatever." I nodded dolefully. "Here." She handed me a steaming mug of coffee and a sack of sugar. I dumped as much as would fit into my cup.

"Thanks." I started up the stairs.

"Go get dressed," she yelled after me. I sighed and jogged up the three flights of stairs to my attic room.

School that day was uneventful except that I fell up the stairs on the way to science, making me late for the test. Luckily my entire class was also late because the school administrators obviously had no idea that they were putting one huge clique together in the same science class. Except me. I was not part of this clique. But that was probably good for my health in the end.
When my mom pulled up the car at home, I jumped out of the passenger's seat and flew over the porch stairs to check the mail. Frantically, I flicked aside Oriental Trading, Pottery Barn, ShopRite coupons, Vanguard bills, and various other unwanted junk until I got a paper cut on my thumb. Sucking on the bleeding finger, I looked down at what had slit me open: a tiny envelope. "Yes!" I called out to my mom.

"How many today?" she asked, climbing up the porch steps—with much effort, due to the four bags of grading I had not helped her with.

"Um..." I turned over the envelope. "Crap." I hate when she does that, I thought.

"What's wrong?" She turned the key in the door.

"Nothing..." I muttered. Hannah skipped through the front hall, kicked me in the shin, and leapt over the couch. "You know," I called to her, grabbing a piece of cold pizza, "I really appreciate that you open the response cards for me."

"No problem."

"I mean, why would I want to know who's coming to my bat mitzvah? I mean, like, duh." I sifted through the trifle bowl containing the 'yes' response cards, looking for the one that had come today, whose envelope had been left out on the porch. Aha—oh. Into the 'yes' bowl, Hannah had put a response card saying that the Anand family of five could not come.

"I know you love me," Hannah said in a singsong voice. "And also, hey, did you notice the envelope I left out there?"

"Ya think?" I shoved my bleeding thumb in her face. She shoved an exaggerated toothy smile right back in mine.

"Help me." She walked backwards on her heels, sort of dancing, to the dining room table, where a red binder completely obliterated by the name 'Hannah' and a myriad of smiley faces lay uncomfortably underneath a math textbook with a tie-dye Book Sox cover. "Now."

"No." I heaved my backpack onto my left shoulder and began trudging upstairs. Nat's iPod lay on the third stair. I swiped it; mine had gotten destroyed in the washing machine.

"You suck," Hannah yelled up to me.

"Love ya too." And as was customary of my sister and me when we were trying to get back at the other for something minor, I taped the picture of Kevin and Brennan, the dorky family friends who were the same ages as us, onto her bedroom door. Above it I scrawled the words 'Hannah + Brennan' in a heart. It was immature, but even the slightest, most ridiculous suggestion that we would like one of the Hughes boys irked us to no end. I smiled at myself and went upstairs to work.

Friday, April 18, 2008

ugh so sick


I'm sick once surprise this time, I'm sure, as you all--I guess I should say "y'all" there--are used to hearing me lament about how miserably bad my immune system is.

It could be the 4-hour track meet in the freezing cold wearing nothing but shorts and a t-shirt, which was immeasurably stupid of me. It could be the gross multitude of chocolaty food left over after the post-bat mitzvah brunch. It could be eating salad that tasted like fish--don't think it was supposed to taste like that. But whatever it is, I've been bedridden for four days, and I'm missing several assessments, a piano lesson, a track meet, and a dance. That's great. Just great. And to top it all off, my horoscope has been jabbering on about how great my "love life" is supposed to be this week, especially today. Well, unless I'm going to have a miraculous recovery or they're talking about my recent affair with Jolly Ranchers, chocolate, seltzer, and Gilmore Girls, they're barking up the wrong tree.

Then again, I guess I should have seen this coming. In November maybe, as I'm supposed to look out (doc's orders) for the fall and eating too much candy on Halloween. But the weather's been switched around, warm in fall and cold in spring, plus I ate very little candy on Halloween and there was so much bat mitzvah crap left in my house that I've been compelled to eat a truly horrifying amount. So it was bound to happen.

But I really do believe in my horoscopes, so it does kind of suck that it would sound so good today. If only my lungs didn't hurt when I breathe.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

M&Ms, maturity, and lots and lots of money

Although I may have supposedly reached the age of responsibility, maturity, and all that jazz, the bowl of M&Ms sitting seductively on my living room table, left over from the after-the-fact brunch, still lures me to the point at which I cannot help but get up every 5 seconds to grab a few.

There is enough "Jewish Mother" gum in my mouth for the US Army to chew. In my mind, chewing this gum keeps me away from the M&Ms and other threatening puddings, cookies, cakes, candies, pies, pastries, quiches, and bread on the first floor of my house right now. It's very difficult not to shove it all down my gullet, but I've experienced enough food regret this weekend to force myself to know better.
My family and I will be eating cake for the next year and a half or so, I expect. As you can see above, Colette Peters created a sick cake for my bat mitzvah. Simply sick. My mom and I met with her a few months ago for three hours, deciding finally on this design (the books are my favorites). She in turn made this magnificence materialize. In fact, many years ago, she created the groom's cake for my parents' wedding. We have a thing going, us and Colette.
So, I have to say that the expected--and certainly real--relief is overtaken by complete disbelief at the fact that the whole thing is over. Not just the service and the party, not just the day itself, not just the bat mitzvah itself, but everything that went into it. I will never practice again. I will never read my Torah portion again. I will never stress about who is seating where and whether or not Kaitlyn or Darria or my dad's important colleague, who sent me a tzedakah box that I didn't recognize as a tzedakah box until after a week.
Incredibly wonderful as it is, it's also slightly disconcerting.
Then again, who am I kidding, I'm thrilled. I'm ecstatic. And I've got the thousands of dollars, gold earrings, sign board, and "life cycle portrait" to prove it. I couldn't have imagined a day more ridiculously perfect.
Someone up there likes me...not to mention Uncle Lenny and Aunt Rhoda, who sent me $724.12 to boot.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

takashi murakami

Here are some pictures from the only Japanese artist I genuinely like: Takashi Murakami.

I went to the exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art this past Saturday when I was going to my old friend's bat mitzvah. My dad picked up a volume about Japanese art in their bookstore, and these pictures caught my eye in a flash. I hate Japanese art usually; the cuteness and clean lines annoy me to no end, especially in anime, which I loathe with a passion. However, I love this sadistic and happy grimness. Check it out and rate it. I posted them to a school forum, too.

Monday, April 7, 2008

reading and running, la de da

OK. I know I haven't been posting, but my mom decided that my siblings and I are not allowed on the computer at home anymore, or at least until next year. Fortunately, my dad is IT director of a worldwide lawfirm, so he's got my back. So let's get to the point, shall we?

I just finished reading White Noise by Don DeLillo, and I have to say I found it to possess many killer lines. Almost every page had at least a couple of punchlines. But I have to leave soon, so there's not too much more I can say about it.

Also, I just started track, and I love it.

Have to go. Thanks and later.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

burn baby burn

I guess it was going to happen sometime. Everyone burns out eventually, right? Just because I get a B doesn't mean that much. As Mark Twain once said, "Don't let school get in the way of your education." Amen, brother.

Is there anything fun about godforsaken Extended Day--as my friends and I call it, Extended Hell? Seriously, I don't want to come here and stay after school, and when I do have to come here, I don't want my blogging to be interrupted by people who think I'm too shy. I'm not shy. I just don't talk to people I don't like. If you think I'm too shy, that's really your problem.

And, my last firey topic, I just read here about the Wednesday afternoon blaze in a 25-story Brooklyn building. I guess it happens all the time, but this was in the New York Times, so this is the one I'm interested in. Turns out three firefighters were injured in my old town. Yeah, I know it's severely uninteresting, but it reminds me of my friend Aidan's dad. Aidan's father, a firefighter, died in 9/11. Aidan's grieving mother, Marian Fontana, wrote a bestselling book, Widow's Walk, about her husband and his death.

Sad, huh? And the kid, being my age, was only five years old when his dad passed away. Talk about tough.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

French fish fiche

Today was an interesting one in terms of April Fools' Day. I have my own take on it: I don't know what to do. My sister is very talented at playing April Fools' jokes on people; she once came back from spring break on April 1st and told everyone that the "splint" on her finger was from slamming her finger in a car door over break and that she was getting it off that afternoon. So the day after April Fools' Day, when the finger was once more bare, no one doubted that her joke was true. In fact, she came out from the whole fiasco with a vigorously signed false splint.

However, I was never able to come up with a good one. Even my mother is better than I am. One April Fools' Day, she convinced my father that he had a tick. Of course he was terrified, but even though he didn't know it was a joke until later, he wasn't all that freaked out because his entire family--they're from the country--has Lyme disease anyway. Not to be mean, but he'd just be fitting in.

Luckily for me, though, this year's All Fools' Day (did you know it's sometimes called that?) put forth a widespread joke opportunity: French class. I'm pretty sure all of the French classes in my grade had a worksheet with fish on it to color in, but I'm also pretty sure that only my class got so into it. Granted, people from other blocks were sticking fish on my back, but that's beside the point. My fish was covered--my own brilliant handiwork--in MY INITIAL! It was extremely fantastic. Even when there are no fish to color and cut out--and hopelessly mangle--we are an enthusiastic bunch.

So if anyone except me is looking for something to get out of this post...I bet you didn't know that April Fools' Day used to be New Years.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

blogging articles

Sorry this took so long, but there have been many small children in my life lately, and you know how that can be.

Why Blog? Reason No. 92: Book Deal
Wal-Mart Tastemakers Write Unfiltered Blog
So You Want to Be a Blogging Star?
After Suicide, Blog Insults Are Debated
Washington Doesn't Sleep Here

Wondering about the above list? For your information, it's just a few recent--from the past 30 days--New York Times articles. They're all about blogging, in fact. And the Times isn't the only newspaper that's picked up on the blogging phenomenon; many other publications are too. I only picked the NYT ones because I wanted to emphasize the magnitude of the amount of articles out there recently.

Amazing, huh? Check out the book deal one--it's about one of my favorite edgy blogs.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

taking advantage

Sorry, but I had to take advantage of the five minutes I have and the fact that I've posted very little this month.

I know I told you I was charmed by White Noise by Don DeLillo, but I've found a new love. It's not just the son's addiction to crystal meth, not just the father's addiction to his son's addiction: Beautiful Boy by David Sheff is an addiction in itself. And I don't say that lightly; I haven't read a book this enchanting in a long time. All the other ones I've read lately have just been forced upon myself.

My mom started reading it before me. She's on page 81. I've got about that many pages left to read. THANK YOU SO MUCH, MOM!! I LOVE THIS BOOK LIKE MY OWN SISTER.

Oh yeah, and I just saw The Nanny Diaries--cute, but the ending's so unrealistic.

spring cleaning (can you say ick)

Dear everyone,

I guess this is why we pay $10,000 in taxes every year: our garbage collectors ROCK. Our public schools? Honestly, we could use some more tracking. But the trash guys--and gals--kudos to you.

This morning, while I was still blissfully asleep, my mom apparently called up the garbage collectors and asked them if, for two hundred bucks, she could have them pick up anything we wanted to dispose of. They agreed, and at 10 in the morning, she was standing in front of my recently woken-up self with a looming box of Hefty bags, saying, "We have a project."

Well, we then spent over two hours (until my mom had to go pick up my brother and sister from their half day) pulling out dirt-covered sleds, wooden planks, too-small clothing, and other equally pleasant items from a garage, where we had to stop when it started raining; attic; and sunroom slathered in useless stuff. Yes, I feel like I've accomplished something, but I also have the horrible urge to vacuum.

See, a couple of months ago, I discovered our cleaning ladies had stolen not just several hundred dollars from me, but also a gold ring with a good-sized ruby and six small diamonds. It wasn't the kind of thing you can replace. My mom found it on the streets of New York City years ago. So even when my advisor kindly offered a gold ring with a ruby and diamonds that she "didn't want," it wasn't the same, and I just couldn't take her jewelry.

So my mother fired them, and, long story short, my stairway and room became dust hell. While in a cleaning frenzy a couple of days ago to make my room acceptable before a friend came over, I pulled a rather unfriendly-looking wad of dust out from under my overloaded and tilting bookshelf. It's disgruntling to see layers of the stuff sitting around the place where you live, especially when your little sister has horrible asthma triggered chiefly by dust mites.

I have to go--my sister's got two friends over, my brother's got one, and I've got up the motivation to vacuum.

Adios amigos.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

the new black

Actually I prefer black to the new black, whatever the new black is.

But I wanted to talk about new things, and I figured the stupidity of this title would grab people's attention. I've just started learning Hungarian Dance on the piano, and it's a really fun piece. It turns out that there are all these twists and trills along the way of a tune that's been saturated into tasteless simplicity for countless cartoons and Disney movies.

Also, I'm reading White Noise (link later), which I'm finding to be a serious page-turner, and I haven't even gotten to the plot yet. This kind of addictive quality in a book's beginning really attracts me and is a definite plus.

As always, I'll keep you updated.

Monday, March 24, 2008

tall vs. short

The world's tallest man, as I just learned, is 8 foot 5 and still growing, his physician says. Leonid Stadnik, living in Ukraine, and the various issues that accompany his vast height are described in depth right about here. Now, I find this fascinating, especially things like how his shoes have to be custom-made because of their rough length of 17 inches, or the constant knee pain he suffers from. Guess how much he weighs? His height affects so many different and unexpected aspects of his life. You might think being in the Guinness Book would be fun, but I wouldn't wish this body and all its setbacks on my worst enemy--and that's saying something.

Cool as it is to be tall, shorter stature is also fun. My favorite shortness celebration, tall though I may be, is the song "Short People" by Randy Newman. I don't care if it seems offensive. It's just so funny. If you're a littler person, I apologize, but can't you take a joke?

Thanks and bye for now.

PS: My brother's back to normal.