Being a ninth grader is like being on the crew of a large ship, because no one cares. You do not matter to the outside world. You don’t get paid. You live for grades: percents and alphabet letters. You sit all day and listen to people who are smarter than you, in one aspect or another, lecture you on things you don’t know. You are quizzed often and never fully trusted. You are not a member of the “real world.” You battle tribes of cliques, double agent friends, ringleaders, and excluded monks. You survive crushes and being crushed, but no one cares. Nearly everyone “has been in your shoes” and wants to make sure you know it. They ask you how life is, what you are studying, and whom you are dating. You smile and say great, as if it is the answer to all their questions. They then go on to tell you the highs and lows of their high school years, but there is a disconnect and you don’t really care.
When you’re a ninth grader you spend most of your time completing remedial tasks that are supposed to spur brain function. Often, these tasks send you into a downward spiral of procrastination: Facebook, Youtube, World of Warcraft, online shopping, and long pointless texting conversations. You hear stories about the good old days when kids used to play baseball on the street, climb willow trees, and tip dairy cows. You sigh and force yourself to enjoy the millennia you find yourself in. The funny thing is that in a few years you won’t even care.
The group sat around the dining table, jabbering to family and acquaintances. Warm air encircled them on the patio, encasing everyone like a stuffy comforter during the chill of winter. Birds trilled and flowers waved, announcing their beauty. The aroma of grilled salmon wafted through the air. In essence, it was the perfect day. Two dogs rolled around in colorful spring blossoms until something of a higher interest caught their attention. They bounded towards the fence, growling and grimacing, their tails on high alert. The group sat unaware of the canines’ behavior, continuing to converse and feast until the hostess called attention to her pets’ sudden departure. The focus of the evening quickly swerved as the group watched the dogs emerge from the bushes. The black dog, the bigger of the two, held a thrashing bird in its mouth. No one moved. The hostess gasped. The dogs continued playing with their toy. Time passed slowly, each second heavier than the first. Soon, the dogs were being lightly chastised while the fledging quivered on hot cement. A seventeen year old went and picked up the creature in her naked hands, cradling it like a precious jewel. Questions were asked. Is it dead? No. Is it dying? Yes. Solemn, the party reached an agreement. The girl gripped the bird around its crooked neck and threw it away. Two children went inside to bring out dessert and the evening continued.
Pass the Ketchup (a trilogy)
I hate it when people pour ketchup on their food. Especially when the culprit of their culinary hate crime looked delectable beforehand. I cringe when people take a bottle of Heinz and hold it over their scrambled eggs like a death threat. I wince when they pour it over chicken as a replacement for barbecue sauce. My body nearly entered a state of shock when I watched a young man commit mouth-to-mouth with a bottle, ferociously chugging down his E129 food coloring and tomato flavored corn syrup. Something has gone wrong; sauces, relishes, gravies, and dips are supposed to add to a meal, not replace it. Needless to say, I ask for my condiments on the side.
The best way to get something done is to compliment someone before asking him or her to do it. People are far less careless when they know they have a reputation to uphold. Compliments have power. They can slap someone on the back or in the face. They are encouragement and warning. Before my mom sends me off to do the dishes she showers me with love, telling me what a wonderful daughter I am and how she is so lucky to have given birth to a girl like me. Then she hands me a plate with salmon bones and breadcrumbs while offering me a pleasant smile. You cannot say no to a compliment, because deep down you want it to be real.
People often tell me that I look good in red. I guess rouge compliments my skin in a positive way. When I wear red (actually it is more of a maroon) I feel strong and brave. Red is such a power color; it is a symbol for so many things: love, war, danger, authority, heat, and blood. Red is never associated with peace, even though it is at the top of the rainbow. The longest wavelengths we see are red. If a wavelength surpasses 740nm in length, it is no longer red but instead infrared and invisible to the human eye. I guess you could say red doesn’t exist; colors are not visible to material things. A bull only sees grey when it launches itself toward an outstretched cape. Red is one of the many hues of humanity, something special for the living. It is how we navigate the world.