Indefinitely growing up

Burning the “Boyfriend Box.”

Finding handwritten notes shaped like a triangle or artfully folded into a square and throwing them away without even reading them.

Not getting upset when your dad paints over the height measurements you –– at 13 –– and your ex boyfriend had recorded in brown Sharpie on your closet’s wooden frame.

Putting that sweater in the donate bin –– even though it still fits you –– because you’ve had it since eighth grade.

Realizing the book “How To Get Over the Nerd You Used To Call Your Boyfriend” your mom gave you when you’d been dumped at 13 isn’t relevant anymore because you can now just buy wine. And get drunk.

Reminiscing for two seconds when you find handwritten essays from your favorite high school English classes (and narcissistically admiring your own cursive)…then adding them to the burn pile.

Wondering why it was ever OK for your high school to give out martini glasses and beer mugs as prom favors while noticing you’d never put pictures in the engraved picture frame they gave out two years later when they finally smartened up (THE GLASSWARE PROMOTES UNDERAGE DRINKING, DUH) because, even then in your teenage naïveté, you probably figured you wouldn’t care about that prom date in a few years.

Throwing out bouquets of dried flowers. Bouquets of fake flowers. Bouquets of roses made of feathers. And a giant-ass Valentine’s Day card.

Rearranging your closet –– ridding it of porcelain dolls you find really creepy, making you wonder who got you interested in collecting them in the first place –– and finding just enough room for each article of clothing you own.

Settling in indefinitely
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Going to a job interview.

Getting the job.

Looking for apartments on Craigslist.

Finding the perfect apartment.

Realizing everything you’d done in your childhood bedroom to settle in for the “long haul” has to be done all over again. This time more thoroughly.

Saying goodbye to more clothing that you’ve had since high school that you really don’t need.

Putting more tee shirts sporting your high school’s musical or play or event into the donate pile.

Preparing yourself for the number of complaints sure to come from your parents and brothers when they see just how much stuff you have to move.

Living for a few more days under your parents’ roof, under their care, under their security blanket.

Looking into buying a washer and dryer, a bed and more furniture for your place.

Growing up.

The Blackbyrd comes in contact with VD

After conducting some research, I’ve reached one conclusion: I’ve successfully avoided writing specifically about Valentine’s Day on this blog for nearly six years. I wrote this post, but it doesn’t count; it’s just a 14-year-old Emily gushing over celebrities that she just so happened to publish on Valentine’s Day in 2009. Definitely doesn’t count.

Thus, the world has no idea how I feel about said “holiday.” (Why does it care? You’re probably thinking. I know.)

Uh, Valentine’s Day sucks.

Ever heard of Sweetest Day? Rolls around every year on the third Saturday in October. I’d rather partake in that than VD (haha, venereal disease, geddit? If you do, you probably only began reading this because of my super enticing and witty title. I flatter myself. I know.).

I’m making a pretty sweeping generalization here, but I’m assuming most girls want to be pampered and treated like princesses come February 14. From the perspective of a girl who has been mercilessly pampered and treated like a princess on VD, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Flowers die; chocolates get eaten; I have to sift through the damn mystery box to avoid the nut-filled and cherry-filled ones. Yuck. I’ve even received one of those gaudy, 2-foot by 3-foot cards. It seemed sweet at the time, now I look back and roll my eyes just a tad.

Maybe I’m desensitized because my first-ever boyfriend dumped me two days before VD during my freshman year of high school. I’ve learned to expect less, even when Mr. Wonderful showered me with so many nice gifts for several years.*

Summer's Eve's ad here is about the only thing that makes me thankful for VD.
Summer’s Eve’s ad here is one of two things that make me thankful for VD.

You can hate me for dissing VD, but just know that, like I said in my last post, I can be rather flaky. I’ll probably be crying into a gallon of chocolate ice cream at this time next year. Still.

I don’t need February 14 for a man to tell me he loves me or to confess his true feelings.

I don’t need the giant VD card, the boxes of terrible chocolates, a teddy bear holding a heart or a bouquet of flowers I’ll definitely hang upside-down to dry, only for the dried leaves and petals to fall to the floor, making a mess.

And don’t even get me started on the cheesy, gag-me-please diamond jewelry commercials. A $1500 rock doesn’t tell me you love me; it makes me mad that you didn’t spend it on groceries, the rent or plane tickets to go somewhere warm. I totally just jumped ahead of myself by 10 years, but I think you get my point.

You love me? Show me every day. Don’t buy me a $5 Hallmark card once a year, scrawling your name into it each time without even reading it first.

At least VD-themed Hershey Kisses will be half price at Walmart the day after. I’ll see if I can sucker my guy into stocking up for me. That’s enough to make this Blackbyrd happy.

How I react to those jewelry commercials.
How I react to those jewelry commercials.

Stay tuned: in next year’s post I’ll be mourning the loss of my college career and surely the plenitude of relationships with men that just didn’t work out.

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*Though Mr. Wonderful did once tell me something that made me laugh. He sold more condoms on and around Valentine’s Day than any other time during his, uh, tenure at a local Rite Aid. Haha figures.

Christmas time is gone :(

I thought of something fun I can do! I’m going to try to name every Christmas present I received from Santa off the top of my head!

Ready? Set? GO!

  • Ladybug Pillow Pet (It’s a pillow, it’s a pet – it’s a Pillow Pet!)
  • Jewelry-making pad-thing…so my projects stay in place!
  • Pliers (for jewelry-making – and the handles are fun, bright colors!)
  • Four pairs of sleep shorts (haven’t worn them yet because I haven’t felt like shaving my legs and then going to sleep – seems like a waste.)
  • Black blouse with purple flowers on it
  • SCARLET Liz Claiborne purse (a dinky one!)
  • TURQUOISE wallet (that doesn’t really fit in the dinky purse! It makes paying for things at the cash register much more fun!) [/sarcasm] ; )
  • pretty grey, black and purple plaid-ish coat
  • two toothbrushes (stocking stuffers)
  • Candy cane body wash (once again, stocking stuffer)
  • a trillion bottles of nail polish (Stocking stuffer…S.S. for short)
  • collection of poetry books (names like Billy S., Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe…)

Yeah…I know there is more…but I can’t quite think of anything else at the moment…my mind seems to have gone a little fuzzy.

Well that was fun.

Making a difference

I was recently inducted into my high school’s chapter of the National Honor Society. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really know what a National Honor Society does. All I know is that it’s a group full of the best kids in the school, and our goal is to help people. However, in past years, our NHS hasn’t been helping people or our community. In fact, the people of NHS have barely been doing anything. I’m working on changing that. I’m an aggressive and driven person. I can only hope that my ambitious behavior will inspire my classmates to be the same way.

I’m the person that will volunteer to go first when nobody else raises their hand. I am always the first person to jump into the pool when we swim in gym class, and one time the girls in my class were whining about a band aid that was floating on top of the water. To shut them up, I scooped it up and threw it over the side. Simple as that. I do what nobody else will. That’s just how I am. Here I am again, carrying on with what has become a trend in my life.

I dreamed of doing an NHS garden. I knew right where I wanted to put it and could envision it in my mind when I closed my eyes. The only problem was getting my fellow NHS members to cooperate and also think that it was a good idea. Well, they all agreed with me and wanted to do something with our community for once. One of our advisors was right with me the whole time and supported me as I explained what I wanted to do. Every single hand went up in the room when I asked if anyone was interested in doing this project through NHS. I was beyond pleased.

From there, I contacted a lady I knew could help us plant flowers and offer her expertise on flower gardens. She was all for everything I had to say and even had ideas of her own for us to try out. The only thing I needed to do was find out who owns the land I wanted to plant our garden on. I texted one person, got an answer, called the answer to the question, then when that person didn’t own it anymore, left a message on the answering machine of the lady that currently owns it. The next morning, I got a text message from the lady whose answering machine I had left a message on. She wanted to meet with me that day at 5:00 (and thus begins what I referred to in my last post as a “hellish week”). So, that day I stayed after for tryouts for our annual G-Town Showdown (more on that later) and then skipped practice to take care of some things.

I made it to the bank in the nick of time and cashed my check, then paid a friend I owed money to in relation to prom, and then chatted with her for awhile. I talked to Robby’s mom and dad, bought Robby the Luden’s cough drops we both devour constantly and then took off to chat with my editor about a position on the payroll. When that was deemed impossible, we sat and chatted for awhile. We talked about everything. I barely know her as a person; I just know her as my boss. It was nice to sit down and have a normal conversation and discover that a lot of our opinions are very similar.

At quarter to five o’clock, I walked over to where I was to meet the lady. I sat down on the bench sitting in front of the patch of grass I want to plant our garden in and waited for her to arrive at her photo studio. When she did, we exchanged friendly hellos and then set about the task we had before us. We discussed what I had planned for the land she owned ride next to her studio. After I explained everything, she approved it and said we had creative freedom to do whatever we, NHS, want. It was like a personal victory for me. At that moment I realized that one person COULD make a difference.

Since then, I have been riding on a cloud, dreaming about that garden. In fifty years, when I come back and visit good ol’ Gowanda, I’m expecting that garden to still be there, with current NHS members still feeding it and giving it the nutrients it needs. I want this to be something that kids in National Honor Society can take care of every year.

Already, in one week of trying to get this project up and running, my ideas of earned us $122 toward the garden. I organized a “Wear Jeans Day” for the teachers at my school, and they donated money to our garden to pay for the fact that they were wearing jeans on Friday. $122 may not sound like much, but it’s more than half of what NHS had in its account to begin with. I’d say that’s a pretty big step toward making my dream come true. I hope that once we really start getting dirty in that garden that my fellow NHS members feel as passionate about this as I do.

I want us to do something we can be proud of. I want to do something for our community. One person CAN make a difference. I’m proof of that.

Oh, how I hate root beer

I am rather picky when it comes to soda pop (where I’m from we call it just “pop,” and get mad at people that call it “soda.”) I do not like any dark colored pops, and I swear that I am NOT racist. My favorites include grape, pineapple (don’t criticize until you’ve tried it!), orange, Sierrah Mist and raspberry. So, when my brother and I helped out an elderly lady that lives near us, I had to gulp down what I hate most: root beer.

She called my grandpa and asked if he knew any boys that would be willing to do work for her. He told her about my older brother who would probably be able to help her take care of her overgrown garden. Unfortunately, Adam was too busy that day to even think about going over to her house to check out what work needed to be done. Instead, my mother and I paid her a visit, just to see if I was capable of handling the job.

We rang the doorbell, and out came the cutest old lady I have ever seen. Her steps were slow, but her mouth and her brain moved fast. She kept looking me over and saying that I needed to eat some spinach, and that the work she needed done would most likely be the cause of my death. My mother and I laughed with her after she made a comment about how I am too skinny to handle the work. She took us out back to her beautiful backyard and into her garden. Flowers of every color were everywhere. Unfortunately, Lilies that she had planted had completely taken over the entire garden, and she wanted them OUT. She told me that I would need my older brother to help, and so, two days later I called her and made arrangements to start on her garden.

I biked over to her house and greeted her with “good afternoon!” when I saw her. She led me out back and we sat on her deck and looked out at her backyard for a little while, chattering the entire time. She asked me questions, and I answered them. My brother showed up as we were talking, and then we got to work. Shovels were removed from her garage, and dirt was broken into in her garden. We dug up lily after lily, while she walked around with her cane and supervised, sometimes even helping a little.

She disappeared for a few minutes, and came out with two cans of root beer for us to enjoy. I was so touched, that I didn’t even care that it was root beer. I tossed one to Adam, and opened my own, taking a huge long sip and trying not to taste. “That sure hits the spot! Thanks!” I said, and she looked pleased. We finished digging up the lilies (after I managed to get some calluses on my hands) and we put away the equipment. I walked into the garage, drinking the rest of my root beer and pretending that it was lemonade.

She was pleased with the work that we did, and impressed with me. Imagine that! A girl doing tough work like that! She paid us (a nice sum) and I wrote down our names and phone number in case she ever needs us again in the future. I told her that I am perfectly capable of doing any housework she needs help with, and she thanked us very sincerely.

I can tell that she gets very lonesome living all by herself. The next time I see her outside when I am riding my bike by, I am going to stop and have a nice, long chat with her. She is the sweetest old lady I have ever met (other than my grandma of course!), and I am really happy to have met her. I am hoping that she will call me soon with more work. I plan to ask her about all of the traveling she has done throughout her life, and I know she will answer every question of mine thoroughly.

Visiting the bro

For the past two summers, my eldest brother has been writing for The Chautauquan Daily newspaper that is distributed by little paper boys all across The Chautauqua Institution. Other than the snobby, old rich people, I actually would not mind living there.

Last summer we visited him at his job and went on a walk all around one side of the Institution. The sky started dropping raindrops (of course), but we kept going, letting our two dogs pull us along by their leashes. Despite the horrible weather, I found every aspect of the Institution absolutely gorgeous.

This year we visited again, walking along on the red brick and gazing in awe at some of the beautiful old homes. Again, it started raining while we were there. At first I braved the rain, letting the hood of my hoodie soak up the wetness, but then it became too much for me to handle. My dad gave me the umbrella he had been holding for me, and I put it up, instantly relieved by the dryness. Everywhere we looked, there were pretty houses and beautiful mansions. We passed a few houses that were erected this past winter of ’08; houses that didn’t even exist when we visited last year.

The snobby people that live there ignored us, so we ignored them. We walked and walked and walked, looking left and right at the architecture. We passed the Opera house and visited the Rain Garden outside of the theater building. We visited the Amphitheater again and listened to the Chautauqua Choir for a little while. I still find the Amphitheater amazing.

If I lived in the Institution, I would want to own a small cottage near the lake, overlooking the water. I would walk and ride my bike everywhere, and would go to the Amphitheater daily. Maybe I would try going to the Opera, but I would probably end up covering my ears and running out.

Our visits there have been pleasant – despite the heavy rainfall. Hopefully some Sunday we will go there WITHOUT rain following behind us.