Yep. Well, technically, I'm an after-school tutor. But I've officially graduated from my obligatory stint in a fast-food restaurant and am now working for a nonprofit organization.
I just finished my first week, and I love my kids already. I inherited a class of 12 middle schoolers from a church friend. Yes, they're a handful. But it's a wonderful handful, and watching them learn is worth it. I hope especially that I'll be able to instill a love of reading in them. I tried reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe out loud to them, but I made the mistake of taking them outside to do it, and I distracted them. I still have a lot to learn.
My new job has changed the way my days work. I now wake up earlier, get my school done by 12:30 (bear in mind that I'm still a full-time college student), scarf down some lunch, and work from 1:30 to 6:00, Monday through Thursdays. This means that I'll probably be blogging on Fridays instead of Thursdays (with the exceptions of school holidays--I get three weeks off for Christmas). But, God willing, I'll still be posting my short stories every Monday.
The good news that I had gotten my new job came the day after Thanksgiving. This was the second time we'd been blessed the day after Thanksgiving. Last year, my dad had a heart attack while digging fence post holes and was in the hospital on Thanksgiving Day. He was released that Friday. He's since been working out and eating right, and he's probably in better shape than I am.
I know that everyone's in a hurry to transition into Christmas--myself included--but I wanted to take just a moment to talk a bit more about Thanksgiving. These past two years, I woke up on Thanksgiving morning not knowing what to be thankful for. Last year, my dad was in the hospital. This year, I found myself wondering if I was going to get a better job or not. I knew the interview had gone well, just like I'd known last year that Dad was going to be okay. But I still didn't know for sure.
I was thankful anyway.
I thanked God that Dad was okay, and he came home the next day. I thanked God for the job I had, and I got a better one the next day.
Sometimes, we have to be thankful for and content with what we have before we get something better. Just like I had to learn to take care of a gerbil before I got a dog. Otherwise, we'll just set our sights on the next best thing and set ourselves on a spiral of discontentment.
What are you thankful for this holiday season? Or do you have any suggestions for a new teacher? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
November 21, 2004
No school for the week! And I did my first act of heroism! On Thursday, I purposefully left my water bottle in the gym so that I could go back, climb onto the rafters, and get down all the basketballs that are stuck in the ceiling. A few people noticed that we had more balls than usual on Friday and were happy about it. Mr. Mason the gym teacher was happy, too. He was going to have to buy more balls, but now he'll be able to replace the volleyball net instead.
I've been able to experiment a bit more with my frogs, and I'm getting closer to figuring out the maximum dosage. I gave myself a bit more serum and figured out that I can get energy not only from thunderstorms, but also from static electricity. This means that a few trips down the slide at the park gives me the energy of a can of Red Bull. Shuffling through the carpet works, too, but not as well.
The only downside to using static as a power source is that it really messes with my hair. I've been having to keep it braided, or else I look like a porcupine doing a war dance. And if I touch something metal after powering up with static, I can lose my energy fairly quickly. I need some insulated gloves or something.
Work on the costume is coming slow. I've been trying to save up my earnings from the gas station so I can buy and redesign a Haloween costume, but I've ended up spending most of it on food. Mom and Dad took me to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet last night, and I think I ate half the store. Mostly beef and broccoli. And desserts. I love those little sugar-covered doughnut things.
Since school is out, I'm not much closer to finding out who Derecho is. Nor will I be, unless I go to Jackson's house and make it a point to spend time with George and Macy. That's so out-of-character for me that everyone's going to know that I'm up to something. I've been trying to think of decent excuses--Christmas presents, studying, the fact that Macy and I are both girls and we should therefore be making more of an effort to spend time together--but everything sounds so pathetic. Or maybe I'm just being hard on myself.
Jackson's trying to make Aunt Miri a blanket for Christmas. He's not even trying to surprise her. He asked her what colors she wanted it--she picked out red, orange, green, and yellow--and he crochets even when she's around. He doesn't talk about himself much, but he's been a little paler than normal, and he's not eating as much. Mom says I shouldn't worry so much about him--she thinks I'm stress-eating because of him when it's actually because I'm starving. But I do worry about him. I never know which holiday season is going to be his last. And that's why I need to get the maximum dosage figured out in time for Christmas. I guess it'll be my present to him. And maybe the whole family, because Jackson means so much to everyone.
Kassie Kittredge, signing out!
Thanksgiving is a good day for a lot of things. For eating food, visiting family, and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. And, most importantly, for giving thanks.
But it's really not the day to be reading or writing blogs.
Tell me your favorite part of today in the comments below! And, because I'm genuinely curious, let me know what your favorite kind of pie is. I've made it easy for you. God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
November 17, 2004
Okay. Something's up. I definitely have an arch nemesis. And I'm pretty sure it's either George or Macy.
I really don't think it's Jackson. Or maybe I just don't want to believe it's Jackson. Either way, I'm guessing it's either George or Macy.
Evidence against Macy: she did better in P.E. than I did. Granted, I haven't been using my powers to their fullest extent in P.E., just so I don't raise suspicion. I try to keep myself somewhere around fourth place and pretend to be winded afterward. But Macy--who used to be every bit as lazy as I was--somehow is now the fastest runner in school. When asked about it, she said it was because she'd taken up running outside of school so she didn't want to gain holiday weight. Which is exactly something Macy would say. I'll bet she'll still stay away from the pecan pie at Thanksgiving.
Evidence against George: he's more into science and would be better able to understand the serum and how to use it. Also, remember that graffiti last week that said "Derecho was Here"? Turns out, a derecho is a fancy word for a long line of thunderstorms. George wants to be a meteorologist, mainly so he can sit in a chair and mess with computer stuff all day and not get in trouble if he's wrong about something. Derecho is exactly the kind of name he'd come up with. Or help Macy come up with. What if they're both Derecho?
Oh, speaking of names, I finally have one of my own! I was at Jackson's house and Uncle Pete said something about paying the "leccy bills" in that cute English accent of his. He meant the electric bill. Leccy is eccentric, just like me, and pronounced almost like "lucky," which is something I'm going to have to be in order to catch this Derecho guy (or girl). So I'm settled! All I need now is a costume. We're going on Thanksgiving break on Wednesday, so I'll have plenty of time to work on it. Not that I can sew. Maybe I'll just find a discount Halloween store and alter a costume I find there. I have money now. I've been helping Mr. Harris at his gas station after school. I alternate between cleaning the bathrooms, the back room, and the walk-in refrigerator, but I get $5 for half an hour's work, just because Mr. Harris is getting older and slower and I save him at least 45 minutes. I'm going to ask him about working on Saturdays.
Jackson's all right, I guess. He still doesn't participate in P.E., which I guess is for the best. But I hate seeing him want to run with the rest of us and not be able to. He's excited about Thanksgiving, though. He wants to make the gravy.
Oh. Thanksgiving. All my family's going to be at Jackson's house...which is more than likely also Derecho's house...this is going to be an interesting holiday season. All those little family quarrels we usually always have--Mom getting onto Aunt Miri for not using essential oils the right way, or Dad arguing politics with Uncle Pete and Uncle Roger--all that's going to seem like nothing. Because we'll have Leccy and Derecho sitting at the same table, eating the same turkey, complimenting Cousin Aggie on her stuffing. And then, afterward, heading outside to see who's stronger.
Kassie Kittredge, signing out!
I woke up to the first heavy frost of the year outside my window. It's not much, considering that it's already snowed in northern Illinois where I used to live. But pretty impressive for Texas.
With cold weather comes all sorts of ways to adapt to it. One of my favorite neighbors insists that anything below 50 degrees is too cold to go walking in; one of the delivery drivers at Domino's won't wear long pants until it's in the 20s. Comparing all these cold-weather wimps to the people of Illinois...well, let's just say it's rather humorous.
60 degrees: Northerners wear long pants and short sleeves, although shorts and sandals are fairly common if it's sunny. A jacket might be worn if it's cloudy or windy. A southerner, on the other hand, will be wearing long sleeves and possibly a light jacket.
50 degrees: Northerners switch to long sleeves and pants, although you might spot the occasional teen wearing shorts, and light jackets are not uncommon. Southerners break out the hats and light gloves.
40 degrees: Northerners wear light or midweight jackets and might drive with the windows open. Southerners go to Tractor Supply for parkas.
30 degrees: It is officially cold outside. Northerners wear heavy jackets or parkas depending on their metabolism. Children and teenagers will still try to check the mail or feed the dog barefoot and without a jacket on, although their mothers will scold them for it. Southerners dress like they're going on an Arctic expedition.
20 degrees: Northerners wear parkas and occasionally two pairs of socks. Southerners refuse to leave the house if at all possible; school will be canceled with any measurable snowfall.
10 degrees: Northerners begin to limit their outside activities but are still seen chopping ice off their driveways. Southerners are virtually housebound.
0 degrees: Temperatures of this degree are rare in the south, but can occur, especially if wind chill is factored in. At this point, Northerners will begin to skip church. They might not walk their own dogs, but they will bundle up to walk the neighbor's dogs if they are getting paid for it. Common articles of clothing include long underwear, snow pants, parkas, hats, and mittens so thick the hands are rendered virtually useless. Southern life as we know it ceases to exist.
But here's the thing about life in the south: winter comes in bursts.
It will be fifty one day. Then thirty the next. It might stay in the thirties all week but warm up into the sixties by the weekend. My weather app says that it's supposed to be 67 on Saturday and 49 on Sunday, only to warm back up to 62 by Tuesday. Texas is either bipolar or drunk. Either that or it's compassionate, trying to bring on winter but forever relenting after seeing the misery of its people.
When do you bring out the winter coats? And are you going to buy Where the Clouds Catch Fire (by clicking on the "Purchase" tab above) for anyone on your Christmas list? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to like us on Facebook!
November 10, 2004
Well, there's already a superhero named Electra. I'll have to keep thinking, but nothing sounds as good. I obviously can't use Flash, and there's a Disney movie called Bolt. It's a shame this serum didn't give me any creativity.
Jackson's doing a bit better now. He's starting to look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas, and he's wondering what to make for presents. His parents and my parents will obviously like anything he makes. He enjoys making pot holders--the weaving kind that little kids make, but he does a really good job of making them--but he's already made so many that he wants to do something else. Grandma's teaching him how to crochet, so maybe he can make some oven mitts to go with his pot holders. But Grandma says he needs to start by learning how to do something simple. Like pot holders. Oh well. Jackson's a fast learner--he'll be making blankets before long. Aren't blankets just big pot holders? I guess it depends on how fancy you make it. But I know Aunt Miri gets cold all the time, and she'd really like a blanket.
I should probably tell Aunt Miri and Uncle Pete about the serum before Jackson has another bad spell. But I don't want to right now. Part of me keeps hoping he doesn't need the serum, that he'll get better on his own. But he's been sick since he was a baby, so I guess he'll need something to change.
Oh, and before I forget, I noticed some graffiti on the school building. It said "Derecho was here" in black spray-paint. It was pretty high up, above the second-story window. I don't know if it's part of some early senior prank or what, but anyone has to be stupid to get up that high. And pretty strong.
Heck, even with my serum, I don't know if I'm that strong.
I don't think anyone's stolen my serum recipe. And even if they did, they wouldn't know how to use it. I did use it as the basis for my science project last year. I called it a reverse robotic process--instead of giving robots more humanlike qualities, it was giving humans more robotic qualities. All the boys were into it, of course. But I hadn't even thought of making a serum at that point. All that came later. All I knew was that, if there was any way to increase the body's ability to use electricity, it would make us stronger.
Part of me thinks that it would be awesome to have an arch nemesis. But the other part of me is scared. Arch nemeses tend to cause a lot of destruction, and I really don't want people to get hurt. I just need to get my serum idea to a doctor--maybe anonymously, somehow--and get Jackson taken care of. Then I'll grow up a bit, graduate high school, get my degree, and perfect my serum. If no one's stolen it by then. Even if it means supporting whoever's taken off with it, if it's the best way to go about things, that's what I'll do.
But I need to see who Derecho is first. And I need a superhero name! I'll have to start going by Anonymous if I can't think of anything soon.
Kassie Kittredge, signing out!
Today marks the one-year anniversary of my getting a driver's license. And what better way to spend it than with a spin in my new car?
I'm too busy for that, unfortunately. But it would be a good idea.
Yes, I finally have my own car. For those of you who are into cars, it's a 2016 Toyota Corolla. For the rest of us, it's red. I've never been into cars. I like exploring them, looking for features like electrical outlets and hidden storage, but when people start talking about powertrains and cylinders and stuff like that, I tune out.
My car is pretty cool. She has heated seats and a sunroof, and she gets good gas mileage. And she's red. My family has a "thing" for red cars--my parents' minivan is red, and so is my grandparents' SUV. When my dad got a pickup last year, he was tempted to get a red one but ended up going with silver. I'm glad.
I suppose my being an introvert has a lot to do with my feelings towards cars. A car means you're going somewhere. Going somewhere means trading my cozy bedroom, unlimited snacks, and laptop for social skills and adult responsibilities. Like work. And shopping. I went to Walmart on Tuesday and forgot to use the $2-off coupon that was attached to my mascara, but that's a story for another day. Besides, a car is just a thing that will stop working someday, or else I'll trade it in when I need more than one car seat in the back.
I was comfortable using Mom's minivan for the longest time. Heck, I still am. But it gets frustrating when I'm eating dinner at 4:30 in preparation for my 5:00 shift at Domino's and Mom still isn't back from Aldi with the groceries. I start to worry. Will Mom be back in time? Will I be late? Finally, at 4:38, Mom pulls in the driveway. We toss the groceries onto the kitchen island, and I dash off to work at a quarter to 5, praying I don't hit any red lights.
I don't have to worry about that anymore. Neither do I have to pay $20 for a half tank of gas that might last two weeks, if we're lucky. Nope! My car gets nearly twice the gas mileage of our minivan, especially if Mom drives. Dad says she drives like a racecar driver.
I've started calling my car "The Charlotte." My dad and I both love National Treasure, and The Charlotte is the ship that holds the secret to finding the Templar Treasure. I realized, seconds after deciding on the name, that The Charlotte exploded. But it wasn't her fault. When someone drops an emergency flare in a wooden boat that just so happens to be filled with gunpowder, an explosion is bound to happen. I'll just make sure to keep my Charlotte away from emergency flares. And gunpowder. And Ian Howe.
What was your first car like? More importantly, what color was it? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
November 4, 2004
I love thunderstorms! I feel like I just chugged three cups of espresso. It's 2:30 in the morning, but I feel like I could run a marathon. I'm so happy!
I've spent my extra time figuring out what makes my theories work. At first, I thought the electrolyte serum shot would only affect the circulatory system itself. But it turns out that, once the serum is in the circulatory system, it affects everything. Muscles, bones, ligaments. Even the brain. It's incredible!
Lightning! More lightning! So much energy! I'm so happy!
My frogs are going crazy, too. I guess they feel the electric energy in the air, too. So the average leap for a frog is about four to five feet, right? Yesterday, Mr. Smiley jumped nine feet, eight and three-fourths inches. I created super frogs!
I get my homework done faster. I run faster in P.E., and I'm not as winded afterward. I can do more push-ups, more sit-ups, more pull-ups, than ever before. I eat more because I expend more energy--I hope Mom doesn't notice that we're out of Taquitos again, because I've been eating six of them every day after school--but if anything, I've lost weight.
I wonder what else I can do.
I wonder if a higher injection of the serum would give me stronger powers. I need to experiment more on my frogs first, just so I don't accidentally kill myself. I wonder what the maximum dosage is? If I'm able to inject the electrolyte serum directly into my bone marrow, would it give me leukemia or would my body start producing it on its own? And how are my kidneys going to hold up?
Oh, I keep forgetting I'm doing this for Jackson. It's not like Aunt Miri or Uncle Pete are going to let him try something this experimental. It's not like anyone's going to trust a sixteen-year-old high school junior to come up with a cure for heart problems. But Jackson's been on a transplant list for a year and a half now, and he's not himself anymore. Heck, I have seven cousins in town. Why does my favorite have to be the one who's dying? Because Macy's a snob and George is a jerk, that's why.
I hope Jackson's sleeping now. I'd call him if I knew he wasn't. He looked a little paler than normal at school yesterday. I hope he's doing okay. Maybe I need to suck it up and ask Macy how he's doing. Oh, but she's a snob. She'd never answer me.
Ooh, lightning! Precious lightning, sending electricity through my veins! And my arteries and my capillaries. I wonder if I'll be able to sustain my powers simply through electrical storms like this, or if I'll need to find a way to plug myself into a wall outlet.
I need to try to go to sleep now. I'm not tired at all. But I'm pretty sure my brain can't work solely off lightning.
I need to come up with a superhero name. I like Electra.
Yep, going to sleep now!
Kassie Kittredge, signing out!
"It's a big, big house
With nothing much to do.
A big, big table,
With lots of frozen foods.
A big, big yard
That's underwater now.
A big, big house--
It's an empty house,"
I sang to myself as I folded laundry yesterday. With my sister at school and my parents at a chiropractor's appointment, I had the house to myself. And it was a little scary.
I normally enjoy being alone. My room is my kingdom. It's nice and quiet, decorated in gentle greens with splashes of brown and muted pink. I have a yarrow plant on the windowsill, a Bible on the nightstand, and my precious laptop reigns from her place of honor on my desk. But when the entire house is mine? I thought I heard someone flip a light switch and nearly had a conniption fit.
I'll be eighteen in a month. This is ridiculous.
If I'd lived a few hundred years ago, I'd probably be married by now, or at the very least I'd be looking for a suitor. I'd know everything I needed to know in order to run a house. I'd be able to cook more than tacos, pizza, and hamburgers--and that without asking Mom if the meat's fully cooked. Heck, I'd be considered a full-fledged adult. An empty house wouldn't be scary at all. In fact, it would mean that I'd be able to get some work done in peace. But for me...oh, there's still an eight-year-old inside me who jumps when the window creaks.
But today? I'm just now starting down the road to independence. I have a job, but my mom waits up until I get home. I have chores, but if I forget about them, it's not a big deal. I have a car, but I got help paying for it. I have cooking skills, no matter how limited they are, but I'm still given money for fast food and an invitation to Pa and Grammy's house for lunch. I have a degree of responsibility, but I'm told that it's okay not to use it.
Teenagers, I read the other day, are a fairly recent invention. Even in the early 1900s, children turned into adults without going through this purgatory of high school, peer pressure, and internet memes. My paternal grandfather was left as the man of the house as a teenager--I want to say fourteen, but I'm not sure. He quit school and started working to support his family. Today, my great-uncle Louie, Grandpa's brother, has nothing but good to say about him. But what about the standard teen of today? The ones who are so lazy they'd rather eat pre-packaged junk food than pour a bowl of cereal.
I'm glad people no longer die if they don't learn basic life skills. I'm grateful for Kohl's, Aldi's, and frozen taquitos. And, after washing so many dishes at Domino's, I'm more grateful than ever for automatic dishwashers. But life skills aren't replaceable. They can't be digitized or automated, either. I think everyone should learn how to cook at least one meal, do laundry, and clean a bathroom. And everyone needs the gumption to actually do it now and again.
What's your favorite thing to do when you're home alone? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear reader, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.