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The move was a success! Nothing broke, I'm only lightly bruised, and nobody strangled me for contributing all the heaviest furniture. (My bed, it's a queen--my grandparents said I could have it and I love a big broad surface to sprawl on. Couple that with the tall wooden headboard that doubles as a kind of long nightstand with shelves AND my purchase of the heaviest side table ever made and you'll understand why my roommate's aunt was tempted to curse my name.)

Not having wifi is a pain. My phone does okay, but Tumblr tends to crash Safari after enough scrolling and I am seriously tired of fighting with mobile versions of websites. I'm fortunate that typing on my phone comes easy to me or I'd give up on using the internet altogether. My poor roommate's ongoing three-month fight with the bureaucracy of three schools requires the use of an actual computer, which has necessitated literal hours in coffee shops for her to search, research, write, and email on my laptop while I play Lux on my phone.
The broadband installer's due this next Monday. It was supposed to be this last Monday, except we discovered, too late, the phone box was locked out of reach. We await with bated breath (and suppressed screaming).
I can't tell if I'm mildly allergic to packing tape adhesive or if I just peeled so much of it that it abraded my hands raw. Either way, it was a happy day when I realized the vague hot itch in my skin subsided. Even if almost nothing is placed where it's going to be permanently, at least most of it is out of the boxes. The dust has been aggravating both my cough and my dear friend's migraines.
We'd be further along in unpacking, but we've had errands to run out and about. I don't mind.  Berkeley's an interesting city. The copious flowers and enormous trees everywhere delights me, as does the proliferation of weird buildings with really great paint jobs. (All-time favorite remains the little Victorian done in burgundy, maroon, purple, slightly different purple, and navy blue, with gold trimmings on the lot.) Parking is ridiculously expensive--a quarter buys you ten minutes on a parking meter. TEN MINUTES. And I need those quarters to run laundry in my building, which is a dollar-fifty for the washer and a dollar twenty-five for the dryer. I get the feeling I'm going to get acquainted with our drying rack real quick. 
There are other aspects of apartment life that take a little getting used to. Can't work on assembling a dresser all night because the hammering would wake the neighbors, have to run up a flight of stairs to shush the people in the apartment over ours talking too loudly at three AM. Things I would consider as 'inside the house' tasks do require going outside--I have to get used to wearing clothes I'm comfortable briefly showing off to a busy public street in order to shove wet laundry in the dryer. But it's kind of neat, all things considered. I like how neighborly our apartment building is--it's almost all students, they're inclined to be largely friendly, and they're not a noisy bunch by any means.
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My stepmother gave up on her vow of silent enmity in order to call me Saturday afternoon and let me know my brother and a friend of his were in town with a half-empty U-Haul. They were headed north Sunday morning, and I'm moving north, so she told us we should work something out so long as he had a moving vehicle and big muscles on hand to be lent to us. Great idea, right? Turns out that my stepmother's idea for a short-notice mad scramble to move some of our things with the aid of my brother and his friend's rented U-Haul and borrowed muscle was ill-advised, to say the least. How ill-advised? Let's see:

so very, very ill-advised )

It was a very, very long day. I feel like a dishrag last used to scrub out the inside of a tractor and then left to dry all crunchy and gross in a corner somewhere. Today is going to involve nothing more strenuous than picking up a book.
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Yesterday I went to the library this afternoon to renew some books for a friend. I did not actually get to renew them because the woman behind the counter took them from me and set them down behind the counter without another word. I didn't have the nerve to ask again, when it was so very clear she did not approve of my request. True, they were weeks overdue, but they were also Calculus textbooks. I did, however, see Guardian of the Dead, Ash, and Huntress all on the shelves in the YA fiction section, and took them home to tear through all three in quick succession.

very vague spoilers for said books )

Recently my stepmom has declared she's not speaking to me anymore (and wasn't that a fun conclusion to a long week) but for now she's still in charge of my finances because Dad's too busy with business to function as intermediary. While I'm still out and about looking at furniture a lot, I'm going to be very careful with how I spend anything, at least until I'm settled up north in Berkeley.

One good thing out of this mess: I really, really like my new apartment. It's clean and fairly sizeable and I have my own room, and between the two of us it is going to be FILLED with books and art. My dear friend doesn't mind if I date anyone, or if I come back at weird hours, and in most ways she's easy to share a space with. The landlord's letting my dear friend keep her bird with her, which is pretty cool--I really do love her bird, and at some point, I'll be able to get a parrot of my own to keep her company. That will be wonderful. I feel like I'm gearing up to begin my actual life. I can't wait.
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Finally finished up Book 1 of Avatar: The Legend of Korra. I am full of questions. And disappointment. (And spoilers.) Hit me up if you've got answers, or more questions.

Republic City )

Air Temple Island )

The World )

Sports )

Bending )

Industry )

Style )

Yakone )

Amon )

Mako and Bolin )

Asami )

Korra )
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Finding me and my dear friend a home is tops. We're relocating to San Francisco's East Bay area at the end of the summer for school, and a cheap, well-positioned apartment in decent shape near a BART station is proving to be a little hard to find. I'm a little terrified that we're not going to find anything for an acceptable price, so I've only been doing a tiny bit of cursory Googling at a time. It'll get done, it's just I have a heard time working up the enthusiasm for a task that's almost impossible without advice from her Bay Area aunt who knows the area and most likely will have some idea of where we could rent for cheap.

My other summer task is way more fun: 'consume all the media I've acquired and then forgotten about'. Of course there are the Doctor Who EDAs I picked up ages ago, but there's also some Due South episodes and a whole pile of comics I'm gradually decompressing, arranging, and reading. Right now I'm working through "The Avengers: Nights of Wundagore", which thus far seems to be about some government schmuck paring down the Avengers roster, various wacky villains, and the tangled web that is Wanda and Pietro's parentage. At a guess, I'd say it's from the early eighties--it's a little strange, but not balls-to-the-wall bizarre; there is a delightful lack of grit, mullets, or leather jackets; the art is good, the characterization is decent, and there are comparatively few exclamation points.

Other stuff I have includes a ton of Black Widow comics, a stack of Ravager (Rose Wilson; I had never heard of her but she sounds interesting), some Jaime Reyes-Blue Beetle, the greatest hits of Iron Man, and I believe there's a handful of X-Whatever stuff floating around somewhere that I've been meaning to get into. Good stuff, I am so pleased.

Throw in a few art projects (scholarships and portfolio build-up), shopping for the move (LAYERS--it gets damn cold up there), a family reunion in July (kill me), and various and sundry other events, and I've got a full dance card this summer. At least I won't be bored.
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If you're looking for a book in which people make sense, consistently using their wits and making decisions that are perfectly in keeping with world and character all the time, I highly recommend Kate Elliott's Cold Magic.

The book was advertised to me as steampunk. As an aesthetic, it can be quite pretty, but as a prose setting it often gets on my nerves because the book becomes about the stuff first and the story second. Not so with Cold Magic, to my pleasant surprise. The setting informs the story in a million different ways, from the heritage of the main character to the reason she winds up in serious danger, but only ever as highly appropriate, well-integrated set dressing, not scenery porn with a plot.

And what an intriguing plot this is. I had to read it cover-to-cover twice through because once I got the hang of what various things meant I suddenly had a wealth of tiny, subtle cues to pick over anew. The worldbuilding is--lemme put if this way: if history is a ballgown, then this is not the kind of update where the sleeves are trimmed and the ribbons are swapped out in keeping with season and fashion. This takes the gown of history-as-we-know-it and rips out every single seam before ditching two-thirds of the fabric and then putting together something new and sleek that one would scarcely recognize as being related to the old gown at all. And it's glorious.

I love the main character, Catharine. She's wary and quick-witted, proud of her oft-slandered heritage and the skills that have come with it. She thinks fast, holds her temper until she can't, speaks sharply without saying a word that isn't plain truth as she knows it. When she makes a mistake, she marks what it was so that she won't repeat it and moves on. Her highest priority is her cousin Bee--who is equally sharp, equally smart, with no apologies for her crushes on handsome young men. However, it isn't out of plain unfettered filial duty, but because they have always been there for each other and earned each others' unconditional trust. (I have issues with the 'family comes first; you owe everything to your elders' themes so common to YA lit. Cold Magic is blessedly very much not in favor of those.)

The one thing I will warn about is that it is definitely the first of a series. (The cover says a trilogy, actually.) There are threads that do not get wrapped up. There are things and people that I suspect will only be clarified a book or two in the future. The book is excellent on its own and the future books will definitely be worth it, but if you are utterly uninclined to bother with multi-part prose I would suggest you pass on this.

Myself, I love a good series. A series of smart books where people do smart things and make total sense is the gift I never dared ask for. Cold Magic and the promise of its sequels have more than earned the right to be on my 'forever favorites' list for the rest of time.
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It's one day and a few hours until the due date for a whole stack of college applications and I'm... stalling. Stalling like a stalling thing. I'm tired of being a responsible adult, so I'm wallowing in fiction. Specifically the latest Dresden Files book, Ghost Story.

Wow. Weird, weird book. I picked it off the shelf at the library, sat down on one of the chairs near the exit for just a little taste of it before I had to leave, and then three hours later I turn a page and find myself staring at the Author's Note going what the hell?

a million spoilers for Ghost Story )
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Figured out a new Fancy Hair Trick! It's called a Gibson tuck, it's quite simple and it's at last given me an excuse to break out my extensive and heretofore unused barrette collection.

You pull your hair back into a ponytail,and then you run your fingers down the part of your hair and deep into the ponytail's base to make a kind of narrow pocket along your scalp. Then, if you have very thick, long hair like me you'll have to stuff the free ends of ponytail down the pocket in sections, possibly rolled up; if it's shorter and/or finer I think you can just roll it all up and jam it straight in. After that, pin the base of the former ponytail in and down with barrettes. If you have one, clip one of those flat, fancy hair clip things right over the whole tucked-up mass to repair the divide on the back of your head and make the whole thing look pretty.

Took a few tries to accomplish the tucking-in portion of the process evenly, but now that I've mastered the trick of it I'm going to use it a lot. It's not difficult, and I love the way I look with my sleek pinned-up hair and my Serious Glasses on, the picture of the unconsciously-sexy librarian . Let's see if I can't make some heads turn when I'm all decked out for class. ^__^ Hey, this semester, my classes are boring, I have to get my kicks somehow.

I'm taking two Intro to Design classes and they're neither of them what I expected... or wanted, truth be told. One is basic principles of design, full stop. I thought we'd work more with paints and composition, which I was looking forward to since I need practice with paint and color, but apparently it's all working with paper cut-outs and rubber cement. For a class eerily reminiscent of kindergarten, we get graded very harshly on craftsmanship. The other is computer design, which was billed as the same thing but with the bonus of gaining invaluable experience with Macs. Unfortunately, all the work's been on InDesign, a highly-specialized program I won't use much, instead of PhotoShop, which I desperately need practice in. The lectures in both classes are both overly simplistic and uninformative. I spend a lot of time drawing robots and plants and patterns, dreaming of someday when I am elsewhere, a real university student getting a real education, maybe even having a real life.
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In my car, there are Pepsi cans, old class notes, neon index cards, three ugly shirts, a stained pair of khaki pants that don't fit, sheets of black matboard, the remains of a cardboard artist's portfolio, cheap paint, origami paper, at least one stray sock, four coffee mugs, a package of pads, two textbooks from last semester, a hairbrush, scrap fabric, tattered shreds of paper, and my undying shame that all of this junk had to be relocated to the back seat under the sardonic eye of my dear friend in search of the battery compartment for my mysteriously-dead car.

(If I ever desperately need to have every single person in screaming distance stare at me, I'll call a tow truck and ask them to back into a parking garage. The cacophonous backup alert noise echoes nicely and I'm told the look of fearful apprehension my face as I watch the driver maneuver backwards around the clearance bar is a sight to behold.)

I've been meaning to clean out my beloved, beleaguered Prius for well over a year now, but in the past I've been stymied by embarrassment, distraction, and laziness. Well, that is going to change today. It needs to get taken to the dealership to get properly recharged anyway and I hate to contemplate what they'd think of my poor cluttered baby. I do love my Spaceship, I just don't like cleaning it. It would be easier if I didn't have to park on the street in a neighborhood of nice but conservative and compulsively tidy older people. Every time I walk out the door in a short, short skirt or carry an armload of trash from car to garbage bin, I feel judged.

Plan of attack for car cleanup: back to the street, headphones on, a trash bin in one hand and a box to bring in stuff of mine in the other, all the while drowning out the silent, imagined chorus of young lady you are such a hot mess it's shameful with The Black Keys. And after that, with any luck, today's going to be my second day volunteering for an animal rescue organization. Should be fun.
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My grandmother wore a sleeveless shirt and capris to golf today. Winnipeg's annual snow festival had to buy their snow. V's friend in Rome has to sleep fully dressed and wearing a hat because none of the houses have decent heating systems and it's fucking freezing over there. The Danube's got eight inches of solid ice on it. Australia has suddenly acquired a monsoon season.

IT IS FEBRUARY. If that doesn't tell you the weather patterns aren't totally fucked right now, I don't even know what to say.

grumbling about apocalyptic scenarios and those who die in Act I )

But a friend of mine I'd thought I wasn't going to ever see again is back in town, healthy and cheerful and attending classes again despite rotten circumstances, and that's eased a weight off my mind. We traded phone numbers and promised to hang out and see a movie at his place sometime. My dear friend and him got along well the few times they met; I think with time they'd make for good companions.

If my typing voice seems odd, blame Sherlock Holmes and Bertie Wooster. I had a fic binge recently and as tends to happen with me and any distinctively-written fiction, it's infected my syntax and shot my speaking style all to hell.
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Crows in an area with a steady food supply are a menace. They're intelligent enough birds that they aren't content to sit around and be happy they're well-fed. Instead, a favorite way to spend an afternoon is 'harassing local wildlife'. My dear friend and I watched a handful of crows chase some poor hawk up and down the edges of the barley field behind La Purisima for nearly an hour. That reputation for mischief is well-earned, I tell you that.

I notice they didn't try to fuck around with the large egret/heron (not really sure which) at the furthest field, though. It stood alone in the dirt in the middle of the field, very patient and still, looking quite pretty and out of place, right up until a ground squirrel wandered too close and it skewered the damn thing right through the heart. Daaaamn. My dear friend quietly applauded its skill.

Thus started up another round of the Great Shrike Debate. I pointed out, yet again, that shrikes are devilishly adorable and it's not their fault they've developed incredible hunting and gathering skills for a bird that small and cute. My dear friend retorts that they are also named 'butcher birds' for a reason--she thinks their habit of keeping a 'larder' by impaling still-wriggling prey on thorns, twigs, and barbed wire is creepy. She's not squeamish--her mom keeps snakes, after all--she just thinks that slow death by stake through the heart is needlessly cruel. It's not the shrikes' fault they're too tiny and efficient to know that kind of thing is unmerciful, I tell her, but she's stubborn.

I'm easy to distract: just point out a bird, especially one in flight. I love the way they fly, how they all have a different pattern of wingbeats and gliding. Sometimes I'll read "The Windhover" just to recall the feeling of watching a raptor take flight. Birds are easy to love, easy to talk about.
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Today was the second time I've seen Thor. As much fun as I had curled up on the asphalt of the drive-in, I gotta say it's much prettier (and more comfortable!) to watch on a real TV while sitting on my bed. It's just such an incredibly shiny movie.

Forget the plot (pretty good), the writing (nearly perfect), the cast and acting (actually perfect, although I have some minor quibbles about Jane Foster). Asgard, Bifrost, the armor, and the Aesir's outfits are ridiculously pretty. Even Jotunheim and the frost giants are pleasing to the eye, although I have to say that the delicate blue of the frost giants really only works in the low blue-tinged lighting of the frost giants' realm or the Secret Doomsday Weapons room.

It seems the mellow goodness of my day has put me in a receptive mood to ~feelings~. Which sucks, because I hate feelings, but at least they're pretty good ones. Now, I've been following Gunnerkrigg Court for... a long time. Since shortly after it started, I think--before the art had evolved much, before any of the big plot points had been dropped, before the first chapter had even finished, if I remember right. I've loved these girls since they were tiny little first-years: solemn Antimony with her deep well of a heart, bright Kat with her enthusiasm and fierce intelligence. They've grown so much since then, realistically, with fights and bouts of immaturity and moments of real damned poor judgment. They're beautiful, flawed, genuine people, in an artistically and thematically gorgeous setting with well-plotted stories that have actually moved me to tears, something which almost never happens.

As the comic has progressed, there has been a lot of subtext between these two main characters. Really, deliciously queer subtext.

I didn't dare hope. Okay, I did, but every moment that I mentally underlined as being Relevant To My Lesbian Interests, I also privately acknowledged to myself that it's a heteronormative world out there and that subtext was all I was ever going to get.

And then... it kept happening. And things didn't contradict it, and more often than not even bolstered the possibility of them being a couple. And it started looking less like the queer fan-favorite ship that'd never happen and more like the thematically appropriate endgame of the whole damned comic. And right now I am all but certain that two girls who have had marvelous adventures together all their days in school are actually going to wind up as together, because what used to look like fan-created subtext and wild speculation is starting to feel a whole lot more like fucking text and honest-to-god foreshadowing.

It's a beautiful thing, and it's goddamn pathetic that one piddling webcomic hardly anyone has even heard of has me near tears.
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Today's been one of net progress. I paid off my speeding ticket this morning, finished most of my online global studies exam, and even got my laundry done. That my current financial balance has been reduced by half, and I don't know how to answer the last question, and I still have to put all my newly-clean clothes away, are mere details to be worked out later.

I've spent the last few weeks silently convinced that the end of the semester would herald my academic demise. I've been somewhat deficient in a class or two. It built up, and by exam time I just put my head down and hoped like hell the teachers were feeling merciful. I've pulled this EVERY SEMESTER. I don't know why.

Fortunately, they were feeling merciful, so I won't have to find some way to tell my parents I'm on academic probation again. This biannual scholastic fugue state I drive myself into is beyond pointless, I have got to learn how to stop sabotaging myself.
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So, a few days back, my great-aunt sends my grandparents these two ugly pots of overpriced 'mixed kitchen herbs'. Must've been forty bucks each for these monstrosities, with their rose-patterned biodegradable pots and awful decorative moss and weird 'rustic' not-trellis of sticks randomly tied together like the meat-drying rack of a band of tiny evil wood elves.

I'm moderately affronted by their sharing the kitchen sink window with my burgeoning jade plant, which I brought with me when I moved. Not only am I deeply attached to my jade, thus far it is the only plant in the house that has ever lived for more than two weeks. But this house is a bare suburban cave and it's literally the only place in the house with enough sunlight, so whatever.

My jade's been growing like gangbusters this summer, though. It needs repotting anyway, so I put it in a bigger pot out on the back patio, and leave some cuttings in a jar to be replanted in a week or two. These cuttings rested innocently between the two ugly pots for two days.

Then I'm at the sink, looking at the mess these ugly pots and their fucking moss have scattered, when I notice that some of the mess is moving. My great-grandma's plant has some kind of black aphid infestation and it is not only investigating the kitchen but it has settled on my jade cuttings, which to me is a declaration of war.

I relocated the offending herbs to the back patio, spent half an hour cleaning that entire half of the kitchen bare of bugs, and then spent another ten or fifteen minutes washing and inspecting my poor baby cuttings and then checking over my big jade on the back patio. Now they're both fine (the cuttings could be washed easily, and the big jade was thankfully unmolested); however, the herbal ingrates have since been sentenced to the garbage can.

Since I moved, I don't have a whole lot of stuff anymore. I don't have the space for ornaments of sentimental value, and my grandparents won't get a pet. The nearest thing I've got to a dog right now is my jades. Do not mess with them. The only reason they haven't got names is because I would be too emotionally destroyed if my grandparents accidentally killed them.
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I live about fifteen minutes from campus and I had a little time between my afternoon Global Studies and my evening Spanish class. The moment I got out of the one, I went home and devoured some reheated corn-on-the-cob and a turkey sandwich right before I turned around and drove back for the other.

Problem: if I eat well after I've been hungry, there tends to be a period of blank, blissful stupidity afterward, like a python on a warm day after it's eaten a baby hippo. Basically I showed up to class just in time to stare at nothing and stutter thickly over the simplest questions (the alphabet, el alfabeto, what is the letter after 'eme'? Es la una de la tarde, okay, now how do you tell time when the hour is not one?) while my brain slowly reasserted itself over my stomach. Still can't remember the name of the sweet woman who sat next to me, introduced herself with a handshake, and very kindly ignored that the hand I offered her still had a pencil and an eraser in it. I also don't know what times I signed up for the one-hour-a-week Spanish language lab and what the fuck I did with my Spanish homework (thankfully due Thursday, but still). It was a mess.

Clearly it's worse if I am hungry, however, because in Global Studies I cheerfully lent someone else--whose name and phone number I do not know--my textbook, with the assurance that I'd pick it up at 8 because that was the most convenient time for me tomorrow. My last class of Wednesday offically ends at six-thirty and lets out way earlier. I completely forgot this. SOY UNA FRACASADA.

And I had to unfollow someone due to racist graphic now that Tumblr's gotten their shit together and supported Spanish. Nice work, dash, good to see you failing at life.
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First of all, I gotta say that if there was ever a line-up to ensure my presence at the drive-in, this was it. Seeing both these films on the big screen while barefoot, curled up in a blanket on the pavement next to my dear friend, the two of us eating cheap grocery-store candy and joking to each other as much as we liked, was basically the best idea I've ever had. The drive-in is my favorite thing of all things for a reason.

Time for the inevitable post-film review, breakdown & revision. First up is the first film of the evening: Captain America: The First Avenger.

Does HYDRA recruit from some kind of evil marching band tournament? I want tickets. )

At intermission (because drive-ins, being awesome, have intermissions) we got up and stretched our legs a bit. I have a dim memory of trying to discuss the prevalence of mysterious-blue-things-that-glow in film and having it fizzle out because I am the only person who cares. I ate some more of my chocolate-covered pretzels. We shifted everything inside the car, turned on the radio (so much easier to hear dialogue this way at the drive-in, even if it's less fun) and then were were off to our second film of the evening... Thor.

Thor (& His Asgardian Super-Friends), a film I was expecting to halfheartedly tolerate and instead grew to love )

Despite my gripes, it was a good experience. Even when AAA couldn't make it before the drive-in's gates closed and we had to call up my dear friend's dad at two in the morning for a lift home, I don't regret it in the slightest. Next time I'll know to forget the leave-the-car on thing and bring a radio that runs on double-A batteries and we'll be good to go.
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Cross-legged on my bed, hunched over my laptop and slowly destroying the ligaments in my knees, has been pretty much my default position at wherever I'm calling home for the past several years. Today's a bit different, though--I'm looking at colleges. Seriously looking, not the casual pointless window shopping I've indulged since junior high. The Word document of relevant information for possible choices is saved as "Final Destinations". Yeah. I'm not entirely losing it yet. Give it time.

It's weird. I've been dreaming of financial and personal independence since I was eleven, but I've always been held back--and held myself back, to be honest. I mean, I never even tried to apply to college when I was in high school because I didn't know how to do it, I couldn't ask anyone for help, and I didn't think I was smart enough. Now I'm almost twenty-one and I'm finally getting my feet under me for the first time.

That's really scary. Or it should be. Strangely enough, I'm actually feeling quite calm. I think it's because, for the first time, I have people I can ask for help who will give me kind and applicable advice.

However, I'd appreciate it if the entire internet weren't beautifully equipped for high school students preparing to embark on their freshman year of college. Now, I don't begrudge those students, but note that I am a community college student looking to finish up my A.A.  & transfer out. The deafening silence? Is really not encouraging.


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Karolina Keene

August 2012

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