Running (Out of Air)

A few of my friends are really good at running. My best friend has been known to run twelve miles straight some days. I have no idea how she does it, because I have always found running to be the most boring sport in the world. Then again, it’s one of the only ones you can do absolutely anywhere, on your own, without spending a bunch of money or anything. It’s pretty useful, too. I mean, say you’re being chased by a horde of zombies. You definitely want some stamina.

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So I’ve decided to take up running. I did it for a little while earlier this year, going on a run every few days. It was pretty good. But then soccer season started and that was my running, and after soccer ended, I didn’t do much. I’ve been going to the gym about once a week, if that, but that is clearly not good enough. I mean, for now, I’m fine because I have an insanely fast metabolism and I’m not in any danger of getting fat or anything. But I need to be healthy, right? So running it is.

I downloaded the Couch-to-5k app by The Active Network. Since I’ve run before, and the first few weeks were almost insulting with their level of easiness, I skipped to week four. I just finished the workout with my sister, and I. Can’t. Breathe.

Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But I definitely am not comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I think the workout was great, and I’m going to keep doing it. But I’m exhausted. I’ve never been a natural runner, but this made me pretty worn out. In the last session of running, I had to just remind myself how guilty I would feel if I didn’t keep running.

Obviously, I lived. This app was a great idea, and it was two dollars well spent. Guess I’ve gotta keep going with it.

Valentine’s Day Ramblings

I opened  my reader this morning, only to find that it has been completely taken over by the Valentine’s Day bug. Not that I mind.

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day like a lot of people do, but I don’t love it either. I’m kind of indifferent. I mean, I guess if I had a boyfriend I would be more into it ’cause I’d get some candy and chocolate and stuff, and I love candy and chocolate. But I don’t have a boyfriend. I never have, actually. Not even one of those fake ones in elementary or middle school. Nope.

My friends find it hard to believe that I don’t have a crush on anyone. Not a single boy. But it’s true, I don’t like anyone, not like that. I mean, why should I? I’ve been with the people in my class for my whole life, and let me tell you, the boys haven’t changed. Oh, sure, they’ve inserted a few (more than a few) curse words into their vocabulary, but deep down (okay, not very deep down), most are still the same little first graders I met on the first day of school.

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So, since I don’t like anyone and haven’t really ever liked anyone (except in elementary school, but that doesn’t count), Valentine’s Day has never applied to me. I like walking down the aisle in Rite Aid or Walgreens that’s decorated with red and pink, but I only want the stuff on the shelves because they’re delicious. Is it bad that I don’t like anyone? I don’t think so.

Maybe it’s a delusion, but I keep thinking that my life will really start once I go to college. I want to go to one in a city, where I have the freedom to do whatever and go wherever I want. And I’m trying not to go to University of Maryland because that’s where everyone in my school wants to go. So I’ll be with new people. And new people = new relationships = new life. There are so many stories of people coming into their own in college, and I want to be one of those people.

Maybe that’s too much expectation to have for college. It probably is. But I figure, maybe Valentine’s Day will mean a little bit more to me once I’m there.

Snow Is My Drug

The piercing cold brought snow down on us like bullets, and now it’s sprawled across the ground, covering every flat surface. It’s achingly beautiful, untouched. Earlier this year, snow was sweet, something to look forward to and cherish. But now it’s become my drug, and I’m thoroughly addicted.

Not because it’s fun to go out in or pretty to look at, but purely because in my life, snow = no school. At first, this was a good thing. My school has four snow days built into its schedule, so we can have four snow days before they start tacking on more days of school in the summer. I’ve lost count at this point as to how many we’ve had so far, but it’s far more than four. Eight, maybe? Nine, including today? I really don’t know.

The thing is, the administrators at my school don’t want to add school days to the end of the year. No one wants to shorten summer. It’s already precious as it is. So they’ve taken to shortening spring break, taking away President’s Day, anything that can possibly be turned into a school day, is.

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I shouldn’t want more snow. I should be cursing the heavens for sending us this wave. But I’m not.

I can’t. I love having days off more than I should. I mean, we get the weekend regardless, right? Why am I complaining that we don’t get enough time off from school? And then I remember that two days is nowhere near enough time to get over the trauma that disguises itself as school before we all have to go back.

Last night, I was watching the Olympics with my family on Channel 11, which is the “local” channel (encompassing Maryland, basically), and the closings were flashing across the bottom of the screen. It took forever to get through the whole list, and by the end, I was steaming. Everything in our county that could possibly be closed was. Except for the public schools.

This year, for some reason, the new superintendent likes to wait until the last possible moment before declaring us off schools (except when she doesn’t and gives us a snow day for literally nothing), so I was up, staring anxiously at the phone, waiting in agony for it to ring and say I didn’t have to enter that prison.

It didn’t. Not until 4:30 in the morning, when it woke me up.

Are you kidding me?

Everyone knew the snow was coming. Clearly, they did, as everything else in our county (and in Maryland) was closed today. So why in the world did our superintendent wait so long?

I have no idea, but I’m kinda pissed.

I have an anxiety problem. It’s lessened over the years (which doesn’t really make any sense, because I’m less anxious as a high school student than I was at five years old), but it’s definitely still there. I worry over nothing. So even though I knew, without a doubt (probably), that school was going to be closed… I was freaking out.

It’s wrong, and I shouldn’t, but I love snow days. I love being able to sit back and not have to worry about going to school. But if it means having to take away other days off… I’m not as happy about it.

So you see, I have a problem. I love snow because it means less school. But I hate snow because it means different school.

Welcome to the World of Fanfiction

If you’ve never heard of fanfiction, you have never truly lived.

According to Wikipedia, this is the definition of fanfiction:

Fan fiction, or fanfiction (often abbreviated as fan ficfanfic, or simply fic), is a broadly defined fan labor term for stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator.

That’s kind of a boring way to put it, but yes, that is fanfiction. The most popular fanfic site that I’ve seen (and my most favorite to date) is FanFiction.Net. They have everything on there. You can sort fanfic by the specific fandom, and then by character, genre, rating, length, language, or multiple other things. You can get it down to something so specific there is only one story that complies.

I write Harry Potter fanfic. I’ve tried Hunger Games and a few other books, as well as a couple TV shows, but I always go back to Harry Potter. It is, by far, the most popular fandom on the website, with 673,000 fics. The second most popular fandom is Twilight with a meager 215,000 stories. TV shows, movies, games, and others don’t even come close to beating Harry Potter for the top spot.

I love fanfiction because it’s so easy to fall into the characters that I know and love, and get them to do things that I know would never happen in canon. Like my OTP (One True Pairing), for instance, which I won’t share just yet. Some of the stories are so outrageous, some people would probably either gag or fall out of their chair–with laughter, of course. Maybe. Like the newly famous pairing of Drapple (Draco Malfoy/Apple). No, Apple is not some weird name for a character. People literally pair Draco with an apple.

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Credit to BakaMokona from DeviantART

Or we could talk about Severus Snape/Hermione Granger. Yeah. Some people live for that ship. I personally think it doesn’t make a bit of sense for more reasons than the fact that he’s a generation older or that they could never have chemistry. Mostly I just think that Snape would never fall for anyone, ever, except for Lily Evans, because he just loves her so much. If it had anything to do with chemistry, my personal OTP would not be a good example.

People like to say that fanfiction is great practice for writers, for when you start to go to real writing. You know, the original kind. I scoff at these people. Fanfiction is hardly practice for the real thing. It is the real thing. You think coming up for a plot with these characters that actually makes some semblance of sense in the context of the story is practice? It’s almost harder than coming up with your own story, because you have to fit in with someone else’s accommodations, even if only slightly.

I write original fiction as well as fanfiction, and it works out really well for me. When I write original fiction, I can come up with cool characters that I love and a plot that (I think) is so incredibly original and fun that it’s amazing when I get to write it. But writing fanfiction is just as fun because I know the characters didn’t come out of my own mind, so they’re harder to write. I like a challenge (but not with school).

Speaking of challenges, you can do those too on FFN. At least with Harry Potter. And I certainly do. I’m currently running a challenge myself, as a matter of fact. Challenges make fanfic all the more fun, because you have to fit yet another kind of criteria. Some even come with deadlines and prizes.

But I think the thing I love most about fanfiction, especially this specific website, is that you don’t have to worry about not getting feedback, or having to spend half your time on the site trading stories for it. The way the site is set up, the second you publish your story or a new chapter, it moves to the top of the fandom’s page, so people browsing will see it. FFN is not a competitive site by any means. People aren’t on there simply to get feedback. They’re on there to read fic as well as write it, so you don’t have to fight for half-ass feedback.

Maybe this kind of sounds like a commercial for the site, maybe it doesn’t. But I love delving into someone else’s world and playing around with the characters. I love being able to sit down at my computer and already know everything about the characters I’m going to write, instead of discovering them as I go along. I love reading and writing new interpretations of a story I connect so deeply with.

Some people think that fanfiction is a joke because those that read it are just trying to keep reading the story they want, and look for it in cheap channels. But fanfic isn’t that at all. We just want to extend our own personal understanding of the story and the characters. We aren’t trying to take over for JKR. None of the authors would dream of it. That’s why there’s a disclaimer at the top of every chapter of every story, saying that we are definitely not JKR. We just want to ask all of those “what if” questions that were never answered.

What would happen if all of the Time-Turners really weren’t destroyed in OotP?

Has Dumbledore ever visited Grindelwald in prison?

Was all of this really the delusion of Harry Potter, a neglected, abused child that just wanted an escape?

What if everyone was a Muggle?

What if we crossed the Harry Potter series and the Wizards of Waverly Place TV show?

What if Remus and Sirius were in love the whole time, and Tonks was Remus’s way of being in denial?

There are so many questions that JK Rowling could never, and will never, answer. So we just have to answer them ourselves. It’s incredibly fun to explore new relationships between all of the characters, ones you’d never even dream about.

In a coming post, I’ll detail my own personal experience with fanfiction, and I’ll mention my OTP (though you’ll figure it out when you see my username). I want to know: do you write fanfiction? Read it? Do you think it’s idiotic or cool or you had no idea it existed?

In Which I Disagree With Rowling

In the issue of Wonderland that Emma Watson guest edited, JK Rowling made some comments on some of our favorite characters in the Harry Potter series.

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment,” she says. “That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

“I know, I’m sorry,” she continued, “I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.” (source)

 Now, Ron and Hermione are not my favorite relationship in the books. But, unlike the majority of fans I’ve spoken to, I actually enjoyed the way things turned out in Deathly Hallows. A lot of people didn’t like the epilogue because it was “too corny” or something, but I did. I thought it ended the series nicely.

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And I thought–still think–that Ron and Hermione are a good pair. People seem to believe that Ron isn’t smart enough for Hermione, or that Harry and Hermione had chemistry the entire time.

I’m not saying that Ron is brilliant or anything, but are these people saying that Harry is? Come on. Harry needed just as much help on his homework as Ron did, and was more easily distracted and got more detentions than his friend did. Ron was the one that became Prefect, not Harry. So, that argument really doesn’t make any sense. If you were saying that Hermione deserved, say, Michael Corner instead, then perhaps that would have more merits. But that isn’t what people are saying.

And as far as expecting Harry and Hermione to get together the whole time–where did you get that from? The only chemistry Harry had with anyone in the series was Ginny, and I’m not even sure about that (not to say that I don’t love Harry and Ginny together, because I do, and that’s another reason why I disagree with this). And Hermione and Ron were clearly in love (or least in like) with each other from the very start. LOTS of tension between the two of them. You don’t even have to really pay attention. It’s quite obvious.

Which leads me to why I don’t understand what JKR is trying to say. In what way was this wish fulfillment? She had clearly built up the Ron/Hermione relationship from the beginning. It wasn’t like she just sat down to write the seventh book and went “Oh, I think Ron and Hermione look cute together” or anything. She was going at this from the beginning. The only thing Hermione and Harry had was platonic friendship, the entire time.

My mom, who found out about this news a little late, told me that the first time she read the series, she was expecting Harry/Hermione the whole way through. She couldn’t really explain why to me, but that had been her thought. It confused me to hear that. Perhaps I’m not remembering correctly, since it’s been a while for me (though it has been for her, too) since I first read the series, but I don’t think I ever thought Harry and Hermione would get together. I didn’t anticipate Ginny with Harry until the fifth book (so maybe I was a little slow), but I had guesses about Ron and Hermione from the second book onward.

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I haven’t heard too many actual reasons why Harry and Hermione should have ended up with each other. Just people all over the Internet going “I TOLD YOU SO” and “Take thatha!”. I’m probably just looking in the wrong places, but honestly, I have yet to see a single reason. Hopefully someone can reason with me in the comments.

I’m hardly the spokesperson for Ron/Hermione, but I definitely think that it makes more sense than Harry/Hermione. Really, it kind of grosses me out to think about them as anything more than friends. I’ve always seen the two of them as brother and sister, while I didn’t get the same vibe from Hermione and Ron. They appeared to be crushing on each other from the start.

Do you agree with JKR? With me? Can someone enlighten me as to why Harry and Hermione actually make sense?

Lost at Sea

One time, I was down at the beach with my sister. I had a Barbie in her bathing suit, her feet wrapped up on the end of a jump rope. I kept flinging the jump rope out into the river and bringing it back. Kind of a “Oh, look, Barbie’s swimming!” thing. I was so excited to be doing that. I definitely knew the risks of losing my Barbie, which was why I chose the one who’s head I had experimentally torn the head off of and then put back on, which now looked deformed. I wasn’t too afraid of losing that one.

Of course, I did lose it. But it wasn’t because the jump rope came loose. I accidentally let go of the rope while flinging it, and the whole thing went out into the river. I was considerably more upset about the jump rope.

But I wasn’t upset about the jump rope, not really. I was more upset about how my parents would react to me losing the jump rope. It’s weird how our true feelings choose to reveal themselves. 

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I didn’t care about that jump rope. I knew we had a million more at home. I wasn’t scared that my parents would worry that they had to buy another one. I thought they’d get annoyed that I wasn’t responsible enough.

That was the first time I realized just how much pressure I put on myself to be perfect. Perfect grades, perfect interests, everything. I was blaming it on my parents as an incentive for myself, but really, they will love me whether I’m perfect or not. They’ve made that clear. It’s just me.

It probably started happening when I was around three years old. In the school I went to for pre-school ’til kindergarten, Friendship Montessori School, our teachers gave each of us Bob Books as a way for us to learn how to read. They were your average little kid book: “Bob has a cat. His name is Pat,” and so on. But I was, for whatever reason, better at reading them (slightly) than the other kids. I advanced faster than them. Soon, I ran out of Bob Books and had to read actual chapter books, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or whatever the official name of it is.

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And then, in first grade, I was accelerated to second grade reading. I would literally leave my classroom, walk into the second grade one next door for one class, and then come back.

Are you starting to get the picture?

It wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine that I took this too far. I guess I figured that if I was ahead at that point, I had to stay ahead. I couldn’t fall behind, or I wouldn’t be above average. That’s all I wanted to be, was better than everyone else. Sounds vain, but doesn’t everyone want that at least sometimes?

I continued to get ahead of my peers. Not even because I work hard. Are you kidding me? I’m probably one of the laziest damn people in my Honors classes (of those that actually want to be there, at least). I just got lucky. Extremely lucky. I’m simply naturally better at school than almost all of my friends. Just a few days ago, on a test that I’d completely forgotten about until five minutes before, I got a higher score than my friend that studied practically all night for it.

It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. And because I’m naturally better at school than everyone else, I pressure myself to continue to be that way. If I have to work for it, I will, and I do, but that doesn’t happen very often. I beat myself up if I don’t get the best score in the class, even if I did forget about the test until right before we took it. I laugh and smile with everyone and pretend it doesn’t bother me. I even convince myself sometimes. But it does.

Oh, it really bothers me when I’m not the best. Is there anything I can do to change this? Probably not. And I don’t think I want to change that longing to be the best. But I do want to change all the pressure I put on myself. It’s strange: I pressure myself, but I don’t study. I don’t work hard, but I get mad if I don’t do well. That’s simply the way it is. I convince myself that being better is something that should come naturally, and usually, it does. But when it doesn’t, when I don’t get the best score, when I actually (God forbid) get lower than a 90%, get a B–I think that I’m lesser for it.

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Again, I don’t think this has anything to do with my parents. In no way do they pressure me to be perfect. I mean, obviously they want me to do my best, and they’re very proud of me, but it’s not like they’re forcing me to study for three hours every night or withhold dinner if I don’t perform well. Most of the time, they have no idea what my grades are. But they assume that I have an A+ in every class. Everyone does. They’re right to, because it’s always true. But I always feel like I have to live up to that, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Whatever motivates you, right?

But it goes a bit too far when it makes me think that if I don’t, I don’t deserve to be called smart.

 

Do you face any of these problems? Am I just a vain girl complaining about being smart? What’s your opinion?

A Day in the Life: Jackson

Jackson is my oldest cat. I don’t know exactly how old he is, probably around five and a half or so. This is how he spends his days.

Photo on 2010-12-25 at 21.21

Oh, of course, the little ones are play-fighting again. My god, do they ever sit still?

Ugh, one just jumped on me. No, no, go away, I don’t want to play. There, the Young Girl’s gone and picked you up, how do like that?

Oh. Oh, no, Big Girl, don’t pick me up, no–

Fine. I’ll purr. I guess I like this.

Ooh, she has a bowl with milk in it. It’s up on the table and it’s got some sort of human food in it, and Big Girl is eating it, but I like milk so it’s mine.

She gave it to me! Yes!

And now she’s leaving. One down, three to go. Young Girl will leave in a while, probably, with Man. Woman will leave a little after them. And then I’ll have the house all to myself!

Well, actually, I have to pee. I’ll stand in front of the door and stare at it until Big Girl leaves and lets me out.

Why does she look so cold? I don’t feel any different…

Okay, I’m done, back inside we go. Look, food! Wait, it’s only half full. Did those other damn cats already eat? Ugh.

But I got milk, so it’s okay.

I think I’ll take a nap. It’s just so comfortable here on this piece of paper. I don’t know why Woman was just watching it and not sleeping on it. Seems stupid.

Why is she pushing me off? It’s not like she’s using it.

Fine. I’ll just go sleep on the other side of the table, if it’s that big a deal.

She’s petting me. That’s nice. Purr.

One of the little cats is being loud again. SHUT UP. NO, YOU SHUT UP. YOU SHUT UP.

She’s dragging me into a play-fight. But–no–

Good. She’s gone. Young Girl and Man are leaving, I should probably go outside again.

It’s boring out here. Ooh, a bird!

DIE.

Woman doesn’t seem to like my presents, so I don’t think I’ll bring it in the house this time. Maybe she’ll be more appreciative if I leave it on the doorstep, right where she can see it.

Oh, no, now she’s gone and stepped on it.

She’s got this really bad look on her face. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that. Farther down the pathway next time, I guess. No, no, the door’s closing, got to get inside!

Phew, made it. Wouldn’t want to be trapped out there all day.

Then again, now I’m trapped in here all day.

I can’t win with this.

A cardboard box! Yes! They got me a new bed! I’ll sleep in there for a few hours.

Did the little cats really have to wake me up? SHUT UP. I CAN’T GET YOU ANY MORE FOOD.

NO, I REALLY CAN’T.

SHUT UP.

They’re so stupid.

They need to figure out that running away from the Family isn’t going to do them any good. They’re just going to get picked up anyway. It’s inevitable.

Not that I really mind that much, but it is kind of uncomfortable when I’m up so high and I don’t have any control of my actions. Well, nothing I can do about it.

Food!

Look, Big Girl is home! Man is home!

What is Big Girl doing on her computer? It looks like there are little humans on there… why are there humans in the computer?

Young Girl is home.

GIVE ME FOOD.

She doesn’t understand. I need to be louder.

GIVE. ME. FOOD.

She’s yelling something to Big Girl, who rolls her eyes and comes over to give me food. Why couldn’t Young Girl do it? Would have been faster.

Whatever. Food!

Ohhhh. What about water?

Nope, one of the little cats beat me to it. She’s so loud. What is wrong with that cat?

Eh. It works. Big Girl gives her a new bowl of water, and I join her, reluctantly.

Is that–Do I smell tuna?

Tuna? Tuna fish?

I leap onto the counter and peer into Young Girl’s snack. It is! It’s a bowl of tuna fish! I look at her. She smiles and hands me another bowl, full of the juice from the fish. Good enough. Better, even. I start lapping it up right away.

But now the other two are coming over. No. I refuse to share.

Good thing Young Girl made two other bowls. Phew. Disaster averted.

Woman is coming through the door. HEY! I say, and run over to her. She grins at me and bends down to pet me.

Purr.

This is the good life.