Random Prompt | 6th Grade

“Write about yourself in the 6th grade.”

I’ve written about this in the past, but wanted to share it again with anyone who never read those posts. The 6th grade was actually a monumental turning point in my life. Four years prior (I think?), the first Harry Potter novel had come out in the US. I was only 8 at the time, and did not really know much about it. It wasn’t until I was in the 5th grade that I heard much about the book, and it wasn’t until the 6th grade that I was able to read it. And it changed my life.

My 6th grade homeroom teacher’s name was Mr. Eder. He was also my English teacher. Mr. Eder was already very familiar (and slightly obsessed) with the world of Harry Potter, and decided to plan our entire school year around it. First, my class was divided up into the four houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. I was put into Slytherin, which I later learned was actually quite perfect, and I have related with being a Slytherin for the rest of my life. No joke.

Next, each group voted on who would be the Head of the house. Guess who won for Slytherin? Meee! It didn’t really mean anything though, but it was still fun. We read the book aloud in class, but I finished it on my own time within a week. I had never known that I was a fast reader before that point in my life. Each week, we had a test on what we had read thus far, and the points from each house’s tests were averaged, and the houses that scored the highest would get points. We also had fun tournaments and games, including a Quidditch game at the end of the year. I don’t mean to brag, but Slytherin won the Quidditch game, as well as most of the other challenges (my friend Travis and I carried our entire house basically). We won the House Cup at the end of the year, and got to choose a theme for a party for the class… we chose Harry Potter theme. Obviously.

Being a part of this experience not only opened my eyes to the world of Harry Potter, but also the world of books, and imagination. I started spending a lot more time at the library, and convinced my mom to buy me books whenever we went out. I read so much, that I won an award at my senior assembly for graduation as well! It also helped me with my writing, which is something that I also got really into in middle school.

I still wish I had tons of money to throw at books, but, ya know… adulthood stuff happened. Stupid bills.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

Random Prompt | Dear 16-Year Old Self

“Write a letter to your 16-year-old self.”

Hello, shy girl.
How are you feeling today? I know you’ve had some rough days recently. I know you feel like everything that is happening is your fault, and you’ve been feeling miserable. I know you’ve been hiding in the bathroom at school, crying. I know you haven’t been eating. I know you’ve been hurting yourself. I promise you, Jan, none of this is your fault. There was nothing you could do. He was already broken, and you tried so hard to fix him. You can’t blame yourself. I know other people will, but please don’t listen to them. They will come around.
Everything will be okay. You will see. Keep your head up, and try to survive this. I know you will. People are worried about you, even if they don’t tell you. People care so much more than you know. I don’t tell you this enough, but I love you. You matter, and you are important. Please stay alive long enough to realize that for yourself.

With love,
25-year old Jan

Random Prompt | Starved Rock

“Describe your favorite place using all five senses.”

In Starved Rock State Park
Trails wind to the top of bluffs
Or into canyons.

Coarse, wooden railings
Line the rugged hiking trails
Causing splintered palms.

The wind blows through trees
Creating songs in the leaves
Calling you outdoors.

The waterfall mist
Mixes with the taste of air
So crisp on my tongue.

Water, earth, and green
Combine into aromas
Revitalizing.

Random Prompt | TV Show Rescue

“You’ve been kidnapped. You can call on the characters from any TV show to be your rescuers. What show do you choose?”

It depends. Who kidnapped me? If it just some random, untrained stooge, then I’d probably call on my good friends from That ’70s Show, which I have been re-watching for the 3rd or 4th time on Netflix. While none of them are particularly strong, each character would bring a unique trait to the table, which may (but probably won’t) help in my rescue. I can see it now…

“Let her go. Let her go, or we’re gonna do what Luke Skywalker was too afraid to do: use the dark side to our advantage.” ~Eric

“You ass. I bet your dad’s an ass, and you’re an ass, because the ass doesn’t fall too far from the asstree!” ~Donna

“Sounds like someone needs a tickle…” ~Kelso

“Listen to me. This situation has reached critical mass. I’ll give you ten minutes, and if you don’t let her go, you’re gonna to become the first person to touch his chin to his ass.” ~Hyde

“Let her go, you son-of-a-bitch!” ~Fez

[Repeatedly kicks bad guy in the shins.] ~Jackie

“I don’t know your name, but I can name five toes that are gonna be in your ass!” ~Red

“What kind of kidnapper kidnaps people on a weeknight? Don’t you have a job to go to in the morning?” ~Kitty

Yep. That sounds good. We won’t count characters like Sam and Randy… because the last season was just awful, and I wish they had never been introduced. Think about it, can you imagine Red just shouting angrily at my captor? Or Fez saying something overtly sexual and creepy? That would just be fantastic! I’m sure I would come out of the situation alive! Maybe…

But, if we’re talking a trained assassin, or a superhuman bad guy, or someone even slightly threatening, then definitely not that band of merry weirdos. In that case, I’d rather have my rescue be an epic crossover between the casts of Arrow and The Flash. The gorgeous Felicity Smoak tracks me down using my phone number, and all those sexy superheroes in their costumes…

No. You know what? I’ve changed my mind. Just send Oliver Queen to rescue me. I just want Oliver. Please.

Who would you pick to come rescue you?

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

Random Prompt | The Dumbest Lie I’ve Ever Told

“What is the dumbest lie that you have ever told? Why did you feel the need to lie?”

When I was in the 5th grade, I developed a crush on a guy in my class named John. John and his younger brother, Brian, were both popular, good looking guys, but weren’t all that nice, and didn’t really like me at all. In the 6th grade, I learned that John and his brother both played hockey, and had been playing since they were little. In an attempt to impress him, and get him to like me, I told all my friends to start spreading around a rumor that I played on a street hockey team. They agreed, and started casually slipping it into conversations.

The problem? We hadn’t agreed on any of the details. At all. Someone said I was a goalie, someone else said I was a cheerleader for a street hockey team, someone else said I played professionally… it was a complete mess. Word eventually got to John and his friends, who immediately knew it was complete crap. He didn’t find my desperation cute, or funny, and proceeded to tease and humiliate me, asking me hockey-related questions while we were in the cafeteria, or out at recess, that he knew I would never know. It was awful.

Despite the humiliation, in the coming weeks, for some idiotic reason, I kept going with the lie, making up excuse after excuse for my lack of knowledge. I even blew off a school dance and told people I had a big street hockey championship game. Eventually, I gave up. No one was impressed by my stories, or even believing a single word I said. To save face, I told everyone that I had actually quit the team, but maintained that it had been real the whole time. I later joined the field hockey team, and ended up being a freaking rock star on the field, but it didn’t make up for my ridiculous lie.

So what’s the moral of the story? Never make something up to try and impress, or get attention, from people. If people don’t like you for who you are, and how you live your life, then they aren’t worth your time and energy. Be who you are, not who you think other people want you to be. Lies always come back to bite you in the ass.

Always.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

Random Prompt | Onion Garlic Chewing Gum

“Write a thank you note to a friend who gave you onion and garlic-flavored chewing gum.”

My dearest Becky,
Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for the savory treat of mastication that you have bestowed upon me. Never in my twenty-five years on this planet did I think that I would enjoy the process of befouling my breath with the taste of onion and garlic, without filling my stomach with unnecessary calories and gorging. No longer will I be subjected to the struggle of finding manners in which to politely conclude conversations brought on by unpalatable individuals, as my fetid breathe should suffice as a deterrent for both unwanted conversation, as well as potential suitors! Your pungent gift will serve a great purpose, and I thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Yours truly, with little sarcasm,
Jan

Random Prompt | Traumatic Childhood Memory

“Write about a traumatic childhood memory.”

Tanika looked over at me from the other end of her pool, her sunglasses sat low on the bridge of her nose, “Do you want to play hide-and-seek?”

“What?” I asked her, “Aren’t we a little old for that?”

She laughed, “I’m getting Chase, he’ll want to play, too.”

Unfortunately, I don’t remember her brother’s actual name, so we’ll call him Chase.

We climbed out of the pool and toweled off. I had spent nearly every day at Tanika’s house that summer, just lounging in the pool, or playing Sonic on her SEGA, just trying to have as much fun as we could before returning to school. Tanika was my best friend, and our families had known each other for years. She was going to be in 5th grade in the upcoming school year, I was going to be in 7th. Her older brother, Chase, was visiting for the weekend, but he hardly wanted to play with a couple of kids, and spent most of his time in his room, ignoring us entirely.

This time, he agreed to humor us in our game of hide-and-seek, and it probably saved my life.

Tanika was “it” for the first and only round that we played. Chase and I separated, running in opposite directions into the woods behind their house. He headed down the path we took to play by the creek, and I wandered into the heavily wooded areas that we didn’t normally explore.

I could hear Tanika call out that she was coming to find us, and pushed further into the unexplored part of the woods. Suddenly, I lost of footing, and fell forward into something wet and mushy. I immediately panicked, realizing that I was starting to sink into the ground. I didn’t know what was happening, but the ground seemed to be swallowing me up. I grabbed onto a nearby tree and started screaming. The ground was heavy and cold around me. I still don’t know if it was some kind of sinkhole, or a very muddy pocket of water, but I was so scared.

By the time I saw Chase was running towards me, I was up to my rib cage in thick, muddy water. With one arm around the tree that I was holding, he pulled me out with little difficulty, and carried me back to the house, where Tanika was waiting. We agreed not to tell their mom, because we were afraid that she would be upset. The three of us snuck back inside, and Takina and I  went to her room, where I changed into a pair of her orange sweatpants, a matching orange sweatshirt, and a pair of black clogs, all of which were a size or two too small. Chase threw my clothes in the wash for me, and we retreated into the living room.

We didn’t really talk about what happened after that, and I spent less and less time at Tanika’s house that summer. After we returned to school, we grew more distant, until we were practically strangers. I never knew why that happened. We haven’t spoken since.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

Random Prompt | Travel the World

“What are some places around the world you’d like to visit, but haven’t made it to yet?” – @mageic via Twitter

There are quite a few places that I want to visit, and a handful of them are located right in this country! One of the top ones on my list is located in my home state. I was born and raised in Maine, yet never visited Acadia National Park. That has always been a huge item on my bucket list, and I someday hope to bring my husband and son back east with me to see the ocean, as neither of them have, and to see Acadia National Park. The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, and The Redwood Forests are also places I would love to travel to for the first time.

Outside of the U.S., the places I’d love to visit are much more broad. India, France, Spain, Italy, China, Japan, England, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Australia (if I’m wearing a full-body bug net)… you get the idea. There are a few specific, foreign gems that I would love to see, like the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, the Roman Colosseum, Stonehenge, Machu Picchu… the list goes on and on for a few hundred more pages.

There is so much beauty in the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience even a small percentage of what this planet has to offer. I’ve seen the ocean, climbed (small) mountains, been to New York, Boston, and Chicago, and experienced some of what they have to offer. I’ve been to science museums, art museums, famous zoos and aquariums, taken tours, hiked trails… But the United States is a newborn baby compared to some of the countries out there. There is so much to explore, and so much to learn, and I can only wish that some day I can afford to take my family to see even a tiny fraction of it.

What is the most exotic place you have ever visited? Would you recommend it? Where do you want to travel some day?

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

Random Prompt | Bad Neighbors

“Write about one of your neighbors.”

My track record with neighbors has been awful up to this point. Roommates, neighbors… both have been awful for me. My college roommate was terrible, then my first two roommates that I had in my first apartment (they were siblings, and then one moved out, the other moved in), were terrible people… and the neighbor we had at that place was an old man who would come over and angrily mow our lawn if we didn’t cut it every single day. I have also had drug dealer neighbors who fought constantly, and who bred very angry pitties. And neighbors who were drunk every night, and tried to start inappropriate conversations with me whenever I came home. I’ve had neighbors with kids who were so rowdy and loud that my decor fell off of my walls, and my ceiling tiles fell down. But… my current neighbors are just the worst of the worst.

I honestly don’t know who I live next door to at this point. I am certain that there is at least one woman, and four children living in the two bedroom apartment that shares walls with my own… but there are so many people constantly coming and going, and taking up our parking spots, that I don’t know who actually even lives there anymore.

Whoever does live next door, they are assholes. All of them. I have two upstairs neighbors as well, and have never had any issues with them, but this lady and her demon spawn… no. No no no.

I’ve had loud neighbors before, but these people are just the worst. I feel like when you live in an apartment building, where the walls are paper thin, there should be a little give and take. You should be more conscientious and considerate of your neighbors, but you should also be more patient and lenient on noise. I am both of these things. They are not. At all.

Now, I have a baby, which makes dealing with unruly neighbors even worse, but even if I didn’t have a baby, they are ridiculously loud. The mom listens to Spanish soap operas at full volume, which I can hear, word for word, clear across my apartment. All. Day. Long. Her kids are just as bad. They all share a bedroom, which shares a wall with my son’s room, and they also have a television, which they listen to at a very loud volume. At all hours of the day and night. Her children are also very loud. They run and scream and bang on the walls at all hours of the day and night, even late at night, after Kyle and I have gone to bed. They wake Liam up at least once a night. Every. Night.

I’ve politely asked them to tone down the noise, and they sort of did. They used to have parties every other night, and they stopped doing that, but now, they are just fucking rude. Like I said, I understand that there will always be some sort of noise leaking through the walls, but if it is 11pm, and my son is screaming because you’ve woken him up for the 3rd time, and I’ve asked you to quiet down, and you didn’t… what is WRONG with you?

It has gotten to the point where I’ve started knocking on the walls, because I am tired of dealing with their rude mother, and I can hear them laughing, and they will pound on the wall right back, and get even louder. WHO DOES THIS? WHY? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

I know that I need to talk to our landlord about it, but what could they possibly do? They aren’t technically breaking any laws, they are just rude and obnoxious. Kids are loud and energetic, believe me, I know… but these kids are just awful. They play on my porch and mess with our grill, and they’ve peeked into our windows before as well. And their mother does nothing to parent them.

So, that’s what I deal with on a daily and nightly basis.

How do you guys deal with bad neighbors?

Jan

Random Prompt | Schoolyard Bully

“Tell a story from your grammar school days.”

When I was in middle school (grades 6-8), we had dances every weekend. Sometimes, these dances were themed. This particular, unpleasant memory takes place during a Hawaiian-themed dance that I attended in the 6th grade.

But first, a little backstory.

When I was in the 4th grade, I developed a crush on a boy named Billy, who I had several classes with, and always sat near, because our last names were near each other in alphabetical order. He was a skinny boy, with gray-blue eyes and pale blond hair. Billy had an older brother named Bobby (I’m not joking, those are their real names), who was two grades above us. However, Billy did not like me. Despite the popular belief that, when a boy is mean to you in elementary school, he likes you… yeah, no, he didn’t like me. And he made sure to make that perfectly clear to me in the following years, even after my crush had gone away, by teasing and taunting me on an almost daily basis.

Okay, now skip forward to the 6th grade Hawaiian dance.

I showed up at the dance in my black pants, black tank top, and an over-sized, men’s Hawaiian shirt… which was blue and black. I wore a lot of black, even back then. I walked in and was immediately approached by my friend Travis, who told me, “Please, don’t get mad…” I was confused. He told me that Billy and his brother had pulled a mean joke on me, and had hung posters around the hallways and cafeteria, where the dance was being held, depicting a fake AIM/AOL conversation between “me” and Billy. I was mad alright.

We went into the cafeteria, and sure enough, there were white pieces of paper taped up to the walls. Dozens and dozens of them. I tore one down and read through it. Someone had created a fake AIM name, it was “janice95775” or something, and was pretending to be me, saying embarrassing, mean things. First of all, that isn’t even how you spell my name, which luckily, a lot of people knew, because teachers were always saying my name wrong, and it was kind of a running joke. Second, I had always been known for my great grammar and spelling, even in elementary and middle school… and this person did not type like me.

The conversation was vulgar, and disgusting, and mean.

I wanted to cry, but I was too angry. Travis and a few other friends helped me tear down all of the posters, while Billy, Bobby, and their friends, laughed at us from the chairs in the corner of the dark room. They were loving it.

After we tore down all of the posters, I angrily marched over to them, and threw them in Billy’s face. I called him an asshole, or a prick, or something similar, and walked away. The next day, I reported him to the principal, and he was given several days of detentions, since I had ample proof of his mean joke.

After that day, he left me alone. Despite having several classes together in high school, we never spoke to each other again, until our junior year, when we exchanged words during an assembly on bullying. He did eventually apologize, but I could tell by his laughing that he wasn’t serious.

While his joke was cruel and immature, it didn’t bother me as much as I could have let it. I think I found the fact that they thought that people would fall for it made me almost feel bad for them. They wasted all that paper, and so much of their precious time, trying to make me look bad, and not a single person fell for it.

Don’t let bullies get you down, friends. They aren’t worth your time and energy.

Jan