Humiliated, volume four: The guy not actually named steve

Typically when I enter a new humiliated post, I’m still somewhat scarred by the whole event. I might need to wait a few days, or years, before I can recover enough to relive the whole ordeal. For some reason, I have enough confidence to laugh at myself right now, and not to be totally humiliated. Maybe it’s just because I didn’t do the humiliating thing this time. Still, this story needs to be told.

So, senior year, AP gov. The most controversial class I’ve taken at Watterson (besides French). It’s half opinionated arguers, half slackers who spend the time gchatting and playing bubble shooter. One of the quieter members of the class is a kid is… let’s call him….. “Steve”. Now, Steve was in my health class freshman year, but he was one of the cooler kids, so I never really talked to him. The most personal thing I know about him is that sophomore year a picture was snapped of him straddling my then-crush. Expect crush isn’t a strong enough word. I was in love with this kid. Well, I’m still kind of in love with him, actually. And Steve was straddling him. How was that fair? Like, really? Ok, sorry, tangent. This is about Steve.

Anyway, Steve sits a few seats ahead of me in this class. I talked to him once about something a few weeks ago. I forget what it was. All I remember is that I was proud of myself for having a successful interaction with someone of a different high school status than theatre nerd or band geek.

But that little interaction is easily overshadowed by what happened today. I had gone up to the front to speak with our teacher, a lovable dork of a man, to ask him to switch my grade online for the one billionth time. As I was walking back to my seat, I felt something graze, well, my seat. I’m used to such abuse in the theatre during rehearsal, but not during the school day when I was surrounded by jocks and cheer leaders! I whipped around, very confused, to see who it was. And, of course, it was “Steve”. He had accidentally full on grabbed my butt while I was walking past. How did he even manage… what? Anyways, he got this look of terror on his face as he realized that he just felt up this girl he barely knew. I, being me, turned bright red as well, but found the confidence to be able to laugh at the situation. He apologized many times, but saw me laughing and joined in. As I sat down I said, “Oh, we’re going there already?” He nervously chuckled, apologized once more, and turned around. The poor kid, humiliated.

I messaged Karin instantly, who sat diagonally behind me. I’m surprised she managed to hold it together in class; it looked as if she were going to burst at the seams she was trying so hard to hold in her laughter. She ended up crying of course. And she made me remember how much I love writing humiliated posts, owning up to my dorkiness, and making other people laugh. So hopefully, I’ll be back to writing on a somewhat regular bases. When I’m not juggling school, college, theatre, choir, auditions, social, and family stresses of course.  I’m sorry I stopped writing for a while. My giving up on awkward thoughts is something truly #humiliating.

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How to get into college in 650 words or less

“Bonjour les enfants! Bienvenue á Ecole Kenwood!” My eyes widened and I felt a mixture of confusion, awe, and gnawing curiosity. It was my first day of kindergarten, and my five year old self was not sure how she was going to be able to learn if she could not even understand the teacher. The man led us to the geometric patterned carpet, still making bizarre noises. I had sometimes heard my older brothers speaking in a similar manner, but never felt the pressure to actually understand what they were saying. Now the pressure to comprehend the jumbled sounds was all too evident.

As the school days passed, the sounds took on meanings, the meanings became words, and the words fit together to form sentences. Eventually I found that I could form the sentences myself, and speaking French became second nature. The pattern of communicating predominantly in French carried over into the first grade, and stayed with me throughout the nine years I studied at Ecole Kenwood, French Immersion. Every day I was exposed to the unique cultures of countless different French-speaking regions. The nationalities of my teachers ranged from French, to Belgian, to African, and the accents they spoke English with became just as familiar as my mother’s clear, midwest accent. The ethnicities of my classmates varied also, certainly more so then the ethnicities of my classmates at my private, Catholic high school. I was taught early on to accept all people as equal, and to look far beyond superficial qualities and stereotypes.

My linguistic skills stayed with me as I made the transition from alternative immersion to traditional Catholic school. My new French class was very different, and I found I struggled in some areas, yet excelled in others. Correct grammar became the ultimate goal, as opposed to general communication. Despite the change in teaching style, I still thrived in French class, and took all the chances I could to develop my language skills and overall cultural awareness. My new school offered the chance to house a French student for two weeks, and I jumped at the chance for further cultural exposure. This program offered a more direct experience with French culture, one I had not had since leaving Kenwood. I was able to once again view the art of speaking French past just the grammatical and technical level; I was able to understand the spirit of the language. I continued to host exchange students and improve both technically and artistically in my language skills.

The summer before my junior year I switched roles in the French exchange program and traveled to Le Havre, France. The household I stayed in was amazingly hospitable, and I became a part of the family for two weeks. I even went so far as to show my host family an aspect of my own culture by cooking them one of my family’s traditional Italian recipes. I traveled across Normandy during my stay there, and everyday had the privilege to witness breathtaking sights. Each view was precious. The next summer, I knew I had to go back. As opposed to traveling with school, I stayed with my brother in his Parisian apartment. The experience was truly liberating, for never before had I been granted so much freedom. I spent many days alone, exploring Paris and soaking in as much knowledge as I could. I stayed a few days in Nice, sleeping in a youth hostel at night and discovering Provence during the day. Every day was a blessing, and I constantly thanked my lucky stars I was gifted with an experience I knew few others had. If not for my linguistic background, I never would have had the opportunity to travel extensively nor understand a culture outside the USA. My early exposure to French language is the core basis for many of my life altering experiences, and therefore my central being.

My coming of age story

Children seem to live in a fairy tale. Everything is black and white. Adults are superheroes; everyone lives “happily ever after”. Children are very lucky in that way. But then, they grow up.  It seems to me that there is one event, one specific event that shocks all children into adulthood. For me, this event was my parents’ divorce.

It is not surprising that my parents are divorced, as it is commonly known that about 50% of marriages end this way. To me, though, my situation was completely unique. This divorce came at a time in my life when things were very unstable. I had started high school in a new school district so I knew no one. I was very shy with low self-esteem. For the only constant in my life, my family, to change caused utter chaos.

I still remember that grey Monday morning, and the golden days leading up to it. I felt like I held the world in my hands the previous Friday, which is rare for a shy freshman.  I had been cast in the school musical, and had even made my class laugh during a history presentation. The weekend was dreamlike in its perfection. Seeing my older brother prepare for his first formal was like Cinderella preparing for the ball. I looked forward to a free day Monday because it meant sleeping in, and yet, my parents were somehow able to take this perfect weekend and transform it into the darkest milestone of my life.

My parents had been talking about the “family meeting” we were to have. It wasn’t unusual; we had family meetings all the time. Finally, Monday morning, my parents sat us down to discuss whatever it was. My brother, still groggy from the dance, stumbled through the doorway. Clouds were out, so a grey light was pouring in from our numerous windows. I sat next to my father, who was hugging me tightly. I suspected nothing, at least until my father muttered the first words. In that moment I flashed back to a time when I was really young. I was asking my father “are you and mommy going to get a divorce?” I never actually thought they would, I just wanted attention. And now, hearing these words from my father’s mouth, my question seemed prophetic.

“I don’t mean to steal mom’s thunder, but I want you to know that we will love you no matter what.”

I tuned out the rest. I saw my brother begin to sob. He got snot all over my mom’s paisley pillows. My two oldest siblings sat silently. I ran out of the room. I could not handle it any more.

It’s amazing how those words changed my world forever.  Those words led to my depression, my blaming of my mother, and my fairy tale world being shattered.

This is not a sob story though. You see, it was this event that catapulted me into adulthood I and ultimately shaped the person I am today. It was these words that led me to developing an even better relationship with my mother, and an understanding of depression to help my friends out of their worst times. It was these words that shook me of my naïve nature. I finally began to understand that this world is not a fairy tale. This is how I grew up. This is my coming of age story.

the story of Olivia

currently, i’m taking a mythology course at my school. best class of my life. my post An Invocation to Stella, the Muse of Hipsters was an assignment from this class. this was another assignment, one for which i had to write my own myth. its kinda cheesy, so get your romance pants on.

Delphian Apollo was visited by many people from many lands. They often found their way to his temple at Delphi to ask questions and receive advice. Among the many people who sought out Apollo’s oracle was the beautiful and peace loving Olivia. Although her beauty was known throughout the land, her good nature was even more revered by the peopleHowever, she was being faced with a hard decision.

Olivia was to be married to a man from a neighboring village. He was a cruel violent man, a man with excessive arrogance, and she did not love him. To live with such a man for the rest of Olivia’s life scared her. But the dowry she would receive from this union was greatly needed by her parents. Olivia loved her parents, and did not want to abandon them. Not knowing what to do, she traveled to Delphi to ask Apollo’s oracle of her future.

As Olivia entered the temple, Apollo spotted her among the crowd of people. Her beauty astounded him, for it was nothing like he had ever seen. Not even Aphrodite could compare to her. He was instantly in love.

Finally, Olivia was able to speak with the oracle and, indirectly, to Apollo. While telling of her dilemma, Olivia began to weep. Apollo could not stand to see such beauty in such pain. When Olivia left the temple, Apollo followed her out in to the trees. There, he revealed himself to Olivia. She was initially frightened, but then Apollo called out to her. His voice was as musical as lyre he so often played. She was soothed, and no longer afraid. She began to love him back.

As the days passed, Apollo and Olivia continued to meet with each other. Whenever they were together, they fell deeper and deeper in love. It was even harder now for Olivia to imagine herself married to her betrothed. How could she marry such a terrible man, and be separated from her beloved forever?

Apollo realized that his Olivia was in pain, and knew he must do something to help her. Apollo first spoke with the wise Athena. She scolded Apollo for being so deceitful, and told him that keeping his and Olivia’s love for one another a secret was dishonest and unfair. Apollo then went to Zeus, wielder of the lightning bolts, for help. Surely, if the couple had Zeus’ blessing, everything would work out. Zeus told Apollo that he should marry Olivia, for true love should always triumph. As Apollo spoke with Zeus, the jealous wife Hera overheard the conversation. Hera knew what it felt like to be married to someone unfaithful. Her heart went out to the cruel betrothed of Olivia. In her eyes, he was the victim, for his future wife was about to leave him. Hera then vowed to never let Apollo and Olivia be together.

In the days that followed, Olivia’s father grew very ill. It was unlike any illness ever seen. Not even Apollo, a wondrous healer, could help the father. Olivia could hardly bare to see her father dying. She loved her father as much as she loved Apollo. She traversed Greece looking for a cure, but no healer knew of the illness her father had, or how to heal it. From village to village she traveled, searching desperately.

With every week that passed Olivia’s father grew worse, and still Olivia searched. Finally, Olivia happened across and old woman. The woman had heard of Olivia’s quest for a cure, and was able to help. The old woman had a potion that could save Olivia’s father. The price for such an antidote was very high, though. It cost money that Olivia didn’t have. But with the cure so close, Olivia couldn’t bear to return to her father and watch him die. The old hag struck a deal. She gave Olivia the remedy, but warned Olivia that one day she would need to be repaid.

Olivia returned to her family, and her father was healed. For a while, everything was perfect. Olivia lived happily at home with her family. Olivia told the foul man that she would not marry him, much to his disappointment. He reminded her that his offer still stood, but it seemed very unlikely to Olivia that she would ever choose to marry him. She spent her days with her beloved Apollo; Apollo would fill the air with his beautiful music and Olivia would dance. They would soon be married, and they couldn’t have been happier.

Such good luck could not last forever. As the wedding drew close, Apollo couldn’t help to feel that this wedding would not happen, and that their futures were masked with misfortune. One day a few weeks from the wedding, the old hag who had offered the cure arrived. Olivia still had no money to offer the old woman, and told her so. At this, the old woman transformed into the goddess Hera. It was, in fact, Hera who had wrought the illness upon Olivia’s father, knowing that she would be able to have Olivia in her debt. Hera would not accept no repayment, although she cared not about the money. Still, she threatened Olivia and her family with curses beyond their imagination if she was not repaid.

Olivia knew her parents had nothing to offer, and she was scared of what the terrible Hera might do. Although he desperately wanted to help, Apollo was unable to stop Hera, for whatever one god does another god cannot undo. Olivia thought and thought, but she could only think of one way to save the ones she loved so dearly. She returned to the terrible, arrogant man she had once been engaged to, and agreed to marry him. Her parents received the dowry, and were able to pay back the queen goddess.

Olivia’s parents were pardoned, and Olivia was once more engaged to the terrible man she did not love. Still, she was an honest soul and would keep the promise she made him. Apollo was heartbroken, and the moon covered the sun so that there was no light.

Olivia married the man, but constantly thought of her beloved Apollo. When he finally became strong enough to traverse the sky once more, Olivia sat outside and watched him cross. She sat day in and day out, watching her dear one and pondering her decision. At first she was bitter, for she was forced to live this terrible life without her Apollo. Then Olivia came to turn with her decision; she realized that she had saved her family.

Bright eyed Athena had been keeping tabs on Olivia ever since Apollo went to talk with her. She looked with admiration at the wise Olivia, for she did the right thing even though it was the hardest. Athena also saw how heartbroken Olivia was, and Athena felt nothing but compassion for the poor girl. To put Olivia at peace, Athena struck the earth in the garden where Olivia sat, watching her Apollo. Olivia began to transform into a petite tree with silver green leaves, white flowers, and small fruits. This tree would then bring wealth to the people and bring livelihood to all of Greece. It took the name of the girl it had sprouted from, and was called olive.

Hello Belle,

here is the short but sweet response the author replied. its kinda embarrassing to see the length of my letter and the length of his. oops.

Hello Belle,

Thank you for your very beautiful letter. Your reading of the book is deep and thoughtful and I’m very honored to be mentioned in the same paragraph as a wonderful book like The Great Gastby.
Thank you so much for sharing with me your powerful reaction to the book 🙂

Dear Eric,

this is a thank you letter/ review of a book i emailed to the author. i got really intense and ended up rambling. its a review of his first novel “the bully book,” which came out towards the end of 2012. it wasn’t an amazing piece of writing, no piece of art, but it brilliantly embodied the emotions and  feelings of a child who has been bullied, and a child with low self-esteem. 

Dear Eric/ Mr. Gale,

Hello! Howdy. My name is Belle, and I am a junior in high school somewhere in the midwest.

I recently finished the Bully Book and felt the need to tell you how much I loved it. Nothing in this email will be ground breaking. I don’t have a really emotional story to tell. My praise of this book doesn’t really mean anything since I’m only a 16 year old girl. But I really REALLY enjoyed this book, and I would have been disappointed in myself if I didn’t tell you how much I appreciated it.

I read this book in two days. I couldn’t put it down. From a literary perspective, the plot impressed me greatly. The way different things in the book are connected to each other, and the clues are given throughout the book. The reference to Little White Lie was a neat little shout out to all the starkids reading the book.

What really made me love the book, though, was the characters. Especially Eric. My favorite books are those that have characters  that are realistic, and are easily related to. I like the characters who have flaws, and obviously don’t belong in a fairytale. Characters like Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby, or Gene from A Separate Peace. Gatsby was obviously consumed with his longing for Daisy, and he was also a gangstahh. Gene was controlled by his jealousy, but he was so realistic I couldn’t help but love him. He was so easy to relate to because he wasn’t perfect; he was real.

The same thing can be said of Eric. He definitely had his flaws. He wasn’t the best of friends to Colin, and wasn’t willing to communicate with Melody to mend their relationship. But these flaws are something all of us have felt, and we understand how he feels. The fact that its so easy to understand Eric makes me love him so much more. He’s also a hero. He took charge when he discovered the existence of the book. His courage makes him different from all the past Grunts. I believe the Evil Three made a terrible mistake when they chose him as the Grunt. Eric’s courage allowed him to break the cycle of the Bully Book. I’m not sure he ever realized the fact he wasn’t standard. Eric’s willingness to stand up to the bullies makes him more unique than most middle schoolers.

Recently, I’ve been discovering writing as an art form and developing my appreciation for it. I’ve been reading classic literature (for class mostly), blogs, and have attempted writing myself. I appreciate writings about depressing subjects; these subjects have the ability to effect people more so than other writings. Sad writings seem to arouse the really serious feelings and thoughts of people. They make you think and consider others. The same can be said about music and art. I really appreciated the journal entry which Eric described how unhappy he was with himself, journal entry #19, I believe. This journal beautifully describes the pain and depression of a bullied kid. It has the ability to make people cry. It highlights the pain a child with low self confidence feels. I felt like I could relate with how depressed he was feeling, and how unhappy he felt with himself. This particular part of the book beautifully described all of the self-esteem troubles of middle and high schoolers.

I’m going to pass around my copy of the book to my friends, and ask them to read it as well. Although the bullying isn’t nearly as obvious at my high school, self esteem is a major problem among my friends. I believe that they will relate to the book, and seeing their own feelings written down in that certain journal entry will jump start the building back up their confidence.

Thank you for sharing this book with us. It must have been personal and I appreciate you opening up to us and sharing your experience. The hardships you might have faced as a child are helping all of us children now. I wish you well with everything.

Love and admiration, Belle

“Out, Out-“

Not cool, Robert Frost
The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside him in her apron
To tell them ‘Supper.’ At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws know what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart—
He saw all was spoiled. ‘Don’t let him cut my hand off—
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!’
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened to his heart.
Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

what?

Thought Catalog

In retrospect, it was a terrible idea to go into the woods. We decided to go on vacation to the woods, but now we see that this was an awful idea. There are too many paths through the woods, but this is not the main problem. The main problem is that it is too hard to tell what is a path and what is not a path.

The paths were made long ago, by hunters, by trackers, and by Indians. But we are none of these, and now, we are confused. I discussed this confusion with you, late last night, while we were standing by our campsite in the woods.

“I think we’re fucking lost in the woods,” I said.

“I think so too,” you said.

How the fuck, exactly, do we get out of here? This is also a question that I discussed with you.

“Is that a path?”…

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An invocation to Stella, the muse of hipsters

Sing to me, O Stella, muse of hipsters

Help me on my quest of nonconformity.

You, who are unique and individual, (except for all the other hipsters),

Send down your sweet knowledge.

Reveal to me the most underground and distinctive of bands,

Aid me in my mission to stop eating anything of substance.

You, who smells of coffee and mothballs,

Remind me to always wear ironic tee-shirts, and my grandmother’s clothing.

You, who are above all others in your intelligence,

Let me project an air of superiority, so that all may know my indie nature makes them inferior.

And let me not stray from the path for individuality, lest I begin to like top 40 music.

Oh, sweet muse, whose comebacks sting more than Zeus’ bolts,

Help me to avoid conforming to stereotypes,

By allowing me to conform to hipsterism.

Humiliated, volume three: Change of clothes

All my older brothers and I were in our school’s marching band. We were the definition of a Band Family. At least, we were until I quit. Oops. But I was a part of the band for one and a half years. I played the music, gave up my Saturdays, and stayed after school for practice.

Band was 8th period. Some days we would use these 45minutes to practice our music. Other days we would change at the beginning of 8th period and then go out to the field for a two and a half hour practice.

I always felt really cool because of this. It’s like “heck ya, I’m changing out of my uniform during school! Get at me!”

I got to the bathroom to change early one day. I changed, taking my time, and waited for the other girls to come in. They were taking a long time to get to the bathroom, so I left and walked down to the band room alone.

I headed towards what would be one of the most embarrassing situations of my life.

I walked into the band room to see all the other members of the band sitting, in their uniforms, already playing.

I sped walked to my seat, my chin to my chest. All eyes were on me. The director, a short feisty Italian man with no chin, made some snide comment that I’ve blocked from my memory. He thought the public humiliation of his students was appropriate.

I was teased by the upperclassmen for the rest of the year. Even now they still bring it up. This will never die down.