The Itch

It was a little prickly there. That kind of spiders-on-the-skin, tangible uneasiness.

It came across me at noonish some weeks ago.

I had a navel orange for lunch. That in itself was odd, because citrus and I have been enemies for years.

My sneakers drew me along the sidewalk while I tossed piece after piece of sweet, vibrant peel over my shoulder.

Then the itch wiggled up under my pant leg and ferreted around a while before settling in on my shoulder.

Maybe it wanted a vantage point. Optimum access to my ear, for secret-spilling and gossip-having.

Yes, behold the All-Knowing Itch!

It was either that, or my shoulder had a decent view.

We’ve spent a little time together since. Sometimes it vanishes when I’m holding a door open, or in the middle of an episode of The Office, or during a math test.

Sometimes it isn’t there for days.

I’ve found that without it I’m nearly as off-edge as I am when it is there.

After all, what is the use of something bothersome? Well, to keep you on your toes.

Nothing that might deserve the title of vexatious?

Well then that, right there, is a lie.

Deep in the Night She Goes Crashing

Deep in the night she goes crashing.

She has feather duster wings and a festering hope–

She has the solace of darkness on her shoulders and in her lungs and cradled in the curve of her elbow–

Bizarre.

There are twenty-four brothers with their arms around her calves–

Sixty sisters, shrieking on the door step–

She goes crashing.

Beautiful? She is?

Old friends swoop in from the attic to perch on her shoulders, to sweet-gossip and trade nightmares–

This is a colorfast world, and she is vermillion.

Her shoulder blades are scored and the little bird she has in her rib cage is sagging, but

She still goes, deep in the night.

 

Postcard from Cusco

Women sit outside homes like potted plants here

with worn knees (so cross!) and fluffed wool for dyeing.

We visited them as we ate guinea pig and threw

the taste out of the taxi window. You’d be surprised

how the skewers turned to charcoal in our mouths.

I’d left my camera behind at the rocky overlook;

We didn’t give a tip for the extra picture.

No matter how you shake my core

“I’m beyond the arc of time”

“Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it”

“Victory is in my veins”

“I will not negotiate”

“I will transform”

2010 was the year that Katy Perry exploded across my horizon. I was on a bus at summer camp, wearing a yellow shirt with the program’s new emblazoned on the back, miserable in the depressive heat, and California Gurls came on the radio.

I remember my dad accidentally buying her album Teenage Dream at Starbucks (it was also the year of cake pops for me). Both my sister and I could tell he was getting into it – after all, he now breaks out in passionate dance whenever Taylor Swift comes on – but back then my sister was seven and I wasn’t much older and, well, the lyrics seemed a little wrong for a pair of kids to be enjoying.

That didn’t really matter for me. What my dad didn’t realize was that unlike the ’60s, this was a time when children, as my sister and I were, could get anything we wanted. There was the internet. There was school. There was the public library, the place I resorted to when I was banned from reading the fifth Harry Potter book.

(I have always wondered about the first day that I would prevent someone from reading a book…)

There was so much that was open to us, and so little time to gobble it up. I spent my breakfasts with my nose in a book.

Since then, not much has changed. The internet has only grown. I’ve discovered new bookstores lurking around my neighborhood. My middle school and high school have opened up entire worlds of knowledge for me to explore.

I still read at the breakfast table, but the fantasy novels and poetry have become fewer, while school’s far-reaching grasp has taken over this most personal time of mine. Macbeth whimpers next to my orange juice. The Scarlet Letter might just be burned into the bottom of my backpack.

Wait wait wait wait. I’m not trying to say that I don’t enjoy what my English class offers to me. I value the chance I have, one that many people don’t get, to widen my horizons and delve into a book I might not have chosen for myself. I only wish that short stories, flash fiction, and poetry were not so few and far between as the traditional prose I analyze with my classmates.

(Can’t we all agree that Carl Hiaasen is far more friendly at 6 a.m.?)

So I now cling to music.

As a junior, I still take the bus (and probably still will as a senior). I can’t participate in the struggle of searching for a parking spot, or in the conversations about the most hectic streets of Boston. I don’t even have my license.

The bus is a quiet place. There are so many kids finishing homework, studying, reciting speeches and presentations in their heads…I can see it happening. That’s been me, too.

It isn’t anymore.

Someone in my English class described her philosophy of life a few months ago. She named music as a central aspect of this long (short?) journey we’re all going through, that can bring the most happiness. I barely heard a word of what anyone else said after she spoke.

Music helps me. It’s why I have given myself the time on the bus to listen and let myself feel better.

I feel Katy Perry in my ears and think back to that summer seven years ago as a sweaty camper, when college was far away, friends were honest, and play was play.

I am empowered.

 

T-4 days

I am very much looking forward to Sunday. Something odd about vacation is that there’s never as much rest and relaxation that there’s advertised to be. Or maybe it’s that R&R is so elusive that once I’ve got it, I don’t really want it. Or maybe I’m just bored. Either way, sitting on my couch playing mind tug-of-war over what I should really being doing isn’t all it’s chalked up to be.

Sunday marks the start of 2017. It could be sentimentality, or a nervous itch in the back of my mind, or even just hormones, but I’ve made a New Year’s resolution already so that Sunday can sit back and not worry its pretty head over what failure of a promise I’ll make this time around. This blog is my promise.

I could walk up to any person at my school and ask if they’re feeling stressed and the answer I would expect every time is a yes. Who isn’t? Seniors are finishing up the long haul that is High School, and every ounce of effort they put into their applications matters. The Sophomores are already having guidance seminars and the idea of college drilled into their brains – that is, if their parents hadn’t started ahead of time. Even the Freshmen are worried about their upcoming tests…and then there are us Juniors.

Pause for a moment for a quote from a since-graduated NSHS student: “The only good thing about Junior year is that it ends.”

That’s pretty much the mindset all of us Juniors have been in. What with the constant pressure of standardized testing, quarterly grades, and the search for that special factor that makes each one of us unique in the eyes of college admission boards, there isn’t a second to slip-up. This is something that I became more cognizant of recently. This…and the fact that all of my conversation-starters prompt a discussion about the stress, upset, and violent worry that is the College Preparation Process.

So…I made a New Year’s resolution. This blog is, as titled, for my own happiness. It is to document everything I see and do that lifts the mounting pressure of the coming year, and encourage me to go play paintball, or call a friend, or take a longer shower– if that’s what will make me feel happier.