Repurposed World

A Fence Somewhere Else

Repurposed World

We start over, building the world again

Taking blocks and
pressing sand
to powders

So that they can all be used once again

All that was old has been taken apart

Repurposed
so it loses its old face

But keeps a new name—
new time—
new purpose

We can build towers,
and ships,
if we want

Scale the highest heights
sail the ocean blue

If we rid ourselves of the shackles first,

And try to build them up again—
anew

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Turning Pages, Making Apologies & Eating Cookies

Oo Lala Cookie from the Three Girls Bakery in Seattle

Is it really already May? 26? It can’t be! That means I haven’t posted anything in over a month. A month! Well, I guess the apology’s coming first: sorry I’ve been gone for so long! Stuff’s just been stacking up and before I knew it, a month had come and gone.

But I’m back! And I’m going to be back on schedule with the posts soon, especially because school’s going to be out.

Speaking of school being out– here comes the “turning pages” portion of the post. I’ll be graduating high school soon and moving onto college in the fall. I’ll be going to the University of Washington up in Seattle, and I’m super excited. ( But I’ll still be posting, don’t worry!) At the same time, though, it’s kind of weird. I’m moving onto a new phase in my life, and I can feel the winds of change a blowin’. For the better, I think. Well mostly.

I can also feel the change in my writing– it’s getting better, feeling healthier, kind of less like I’m trying to shove it into a box and more like I’m wrapping it in a pretty gift wrap… if that makes any sense. I know I probably say this a lot, but I think that this is the year I finally finish that novel. Finger’s crossed!

I also changed the banner, finally. I like this one a lot better. Let’s hope that this is the one!

And finally, my family and I went up to Seattle for the weekend, and I had an Oo Lala shortbread cookie from the Three Girls Bakery at the Pike Market. I love shortbread and pistachios, and this cookie was the epitome of shortbread-pistachio awesomeness. If you’re ever in Seattle, I highly recommend this place. Just had to mention it (and get a picture of a cookie in there).

I’ll probably be writing a less-fluffy, more substantial post in the near future. Emphasis on near. But for now, this will have to do.

I wish you all cookies and pleasant pages.

 

Happy Belated Birthday, Little Atmospheres

Assortment of Rainbow Macarons from Granville Island, Canada.Happy Birthday, Little Atmospheres!

In all the hustle and bustle of the week, it seems that I have forgotten something rather important. As of yesterday, my blog has officially turned one year old–my first post was put up one year ago yesterday.

I think this deserves some confetti, doesn’t it?

*throws confetti everywhere in a pretty, sparkly rain*

Had I a picture of some confetti, I’d put it *here*.

So this post comes at an interesting time in my other-world career; I say other-world career because I like to think of my own personal world as split up into different “spheres of influence,” so to speak. There is the world where I create. Where I study. Where I have my friends and family. Would they be better off if they weren’t so separate? Perhaps. But for now, this is how they are. A juggling of worlds, an ever-onward show kept up by a sole performer.

And right now, all these objects are at their height, aligning somewhat. Strange. But a juggler only has two hands, and can’t catch all his wards at the same time.

This blog lies in the realm of the dreamer; the shimmering ball, one that isn’t as carefully handled as the others. Often times it is dropped. Forgotten. Set aside when the others become to much to balance. But it is here that I’ve made my home, and it is without a doubt my favorite world of all, for now.

Even resting here, the blog isn’t exactly a magnum opus. I still have no idea what it’s supposed to be. Heck, I don’t even remember what I’d wanted it to be in the first place. I think it was originally a test of my own ability. Can you keep this up for longer than your other projects? Can you still write at the end of the day? Can you remember to catch the dream-ball, even if the others are already becoming too much to handle?

The answer: I still don’t know.

I know what I wanted–still want– this blog to feel like, but not what it actually is.

I’d hoped that a year in, I’d know what Little Atmospheres was supposed to be. That the blog would find its niche in the world, and that it would fall into place like the final piece of a puzzle.

But… that’s not exactly right. It turns out that this was not the last piece, but the first. And now, I have to figure out everything else around it– and it’s harder than I’d imagined.

And yet, there is something very special about Little Atmospheres that I can’t quite describe. I suppose there’s a reason I haven’t quit on it yet. It is something that I started for myself, one year ago– a promise to remember never to stop, a promise to live from the head to the heart, and a reminder that not everything has to be perfect. Because perfection is not what a world is supposed to be made of.

So no, I don’t have a picture of confetti. I don’t have a cake or even a candle, and I haven’t yet changed the banner that I keep promising I will change. Today isn’t even the correct day, for crying out loud. But that doesn’t matter, not entirely. Not compared to all this blog has become, all that it is. All of its imperfect, here-then-there tidbits and diamonds in the rough and half-kept promises and more.

And while I don’t have any cupcakes (a real tragedy, that), I do have an invisible cup of something sparkly. And so I raise my figurative glass to you, dear audience of mine, however small or large you may be. Thank you, everyone who’s stuck with me this far. It means a lot– especially because I know this blog doesn’t have a lot to give, not compared to all those who know who they are and what they should be.

Happy birthday, Little Atmospheres. Thank you for a fantastic year, and here’s to many more.

-Jackie

P.S. Still no cupcakes (WHERE’S THE HUMANITY?!?!), but I did have a picture of some rainbow macarons from the market in Granville Island in Canada. Didn’t actually eat any, but the photo had a birthday mood about it, so I decided to put it here.

P.P.S. I’ve just been alerted by WordPress that I now have 99 followers. Yay! 9 is my lucky number, so… happy birthday to you, blog!

P.P.P.S. Last one, I promise– I changed the banner today. Does the photo look familiar? *points upwards*

Light and Airy: Mostly Art and Random Stuff

Hi all! I’ve been avoiding you again, haven’t I? Sorry about that!

Anyways, there’s a pretty cool photographer that I found on flickr named Cuba Gallery, who takes absolutely breathtaking photos. I can’t get enough– they’re just so amazing! I highly encourage you to check them out. They’re one of my go-to writing inspirations when my words just aren’t coming out like they should. Here’s a few of my favorites:

Los Angeles Santa Monica by Cuba Gallery

Summer by Cuba Gallery

Garden Grass Texture by Cuba Gallery

Gorgeous, right?

I’ve also stumbled upon the person who made the cover for Owl City’s Midsummer Station. It’s actually by an artist named Gediminas Pranckevicius, whose other works can be found on his website here. I really want to learn how to do this. Seriously.

My Little Friend by Gediminas Pranckevicius

Time by Gediminas Pranckevicius

Speaking of Owl City, I’m really loving the song Aligator Sky, minus the rap. Owl City is good music to paint to, I’ve found– just saying.

And finally, last bit of randomness– I recently went on a retreat to lead eighth graders, which was actually pretty fun. Here’s my stuff before I left:

retreat stuffIt was a nice, refreshing place to clear my head. But I really only wanted to share this picture because I couldn’t find a bag for my sleeping bag, so I decided to tie it up with a belt, making it look something like a wizard, ha ha ha.

*sleeping bag zaps you with awesome wizard powers*

Redesigning a High School Website: Caution, Objects in Mirror Are More Profound Than They Appear

Pathways

Two of my least favorite words today:

Creative outlet.

I know, doesn’t seem like such a malicious string of letters, does it? But I’m telling you, these words are the devil. Especially when the pitchfork is placed right into its hands. As in, the words are put in the context of, “Maybe we can find you something else that can serve as your, uh… ‘creative outlet.'”

Um, what?

Let me explain.

The other day we had a meeting with the people in charge about our school website project. Meaning our principal and the higher-ups of the school-tech world, the district ITS and other similar people. Our mission was to pitch the idea and find out what kind of equipment and support we could get for the website, and what the best plan of action for launch would be.

Little did we know, the meeting, for the tech people at least, was actually about why we should even launch at all.

I won’t go into the deep, deep, details of it, but let’s just say that I was a little disappointed.

It seemed that they, as adults, did not seem to think that we, as high school students, were serious enough to take this on. As if we could not possibly comprehend what we were getting into. They didn’t give us enough credit. They were always looking for ways to get out of having to deal with it at all– they’d say things like “does it have to be the Skyview website?” and “you do know what you’re asking us to do, right?” and, of course, “couldn’t we find something else to serve as your creative outlet?”

They were missing the point.

What they failed to understand is that we are not doing this sheerly for the fun of it. We are seeking to change an outdated entity and replace it with something more useful, more modern, and ultimately something more competitive. This website is representative of us and our school– a specific science, math, and technology school. And yet, not only is this website barely keeping abreast of all the other high school websites, our leaders are failing to let its driven, technology-savvy students prove their worth and tackle the issue. (For free, I should add– not for a class, not as a job.)

Of course, I know that we as high school students have a reputation for being a little lazy. For not taking things seriously. And yes, many of us are seniors, and there is the question of who would take over after us. But if we really had been lazy and untrustworthy, we wouldn’t have persisted for so long. We wouldn’t have set up meetings with our school’s principal. We wouldn’t have even bothered talking to them at all. And we surely wouldn’t have been able to answer every single question they threw at us with well-informed answers, including the question of who would succeed us. I think they’ve certainly underestimated us.

But there is something more there, more than just the prejudice; it wasn’t just their doubts about our chances of success. It wasn’t about how much equipment would cost or what kind of people power it would take to make this thing a reality.

After reflecting on the situation, I can see that at they very core of it they were averse to one thing, and it wasn’t necessarily the teenage tendency. It wasn’t a budget of any kind. It was, and still is, change.

They were set in their old ways. Completing this project would be a major shake-up, as we could all tell. It would open a major floodgate– we would need new servers, people to maintain this thing using newer software, applying newer concepts. We could no longer be scraping by on our knowledge of the obsolete. They were too afraid to take the chance.

But we aren’t afraid, because we know what kinds of things would happen if we did get this thing up and running– and how we could revolutionize our tiny high school ecosystem.

As people, we can’t be afraid of change. We are sharks that mustn’t cease to swim. Learning new things, expanding the limits of what we already know– isn’t that what we should be aiming for? We can’t claim to be innovators and 21st-century thinkers if we are still trying to rely on outdated systems.

Thankfully our principal really wanted to push for the new site (thank you!), allowing us to continue the project– I don’t see an end to the hurdles anytime soon. In fact, I see the people we’re supposed to be cooperating with placing them right in front of us, right after the other. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that even though these hurdles will continue to try and trip us, it’s our job to overcome them. And maybe, just maybe, we can change them altogether.

So in the end, yes, I was highly offended by the term creative outlet. Was I a little sensitive? Perhaps. But I do not like the assumption that this is just something we’re messing around with for fun, and that it’s just a hollow-shell project that has no real weight or value. Especially when the term might just be covering up a bigger issue. I don’t like that. Give us a little more credit– we are more profound than you think we are.

Hooray! I Finally Did It! Library Contest Results: Plain Sugar Drops

I took this photo of a bunch of random stuff of mine last year year for my photography class:

A picture of some ribbons and things tinted pink

It kind of fits. Kind of.

It actually is a picture of mine that goes well with the story at the bottom of this post. And so, without further ado, the actual post:

I’m on cloud nine today. After all this time, I’ve finally done it: 3rd place at my local library’s writing contest.

*dances while throwing confetti and eating sprinke-covered cupcakes*

This has been a goal of mine ever since I’d heard about it a few years ago. Imagined Ink Teen Writing Contest, 1000 words, about anything. And this was going to be my last chance too, since the contest is only open to teens I’m not going to be in high school anymore next year (although I will still be a teen, I suppose… weird.)

But now I finally done it and just in time, too. I was beginning to think that maybe I wasn’t the writer I thought I was, but I guess I am her… If that made no sense, I’m sorry. I’m still dizzy from the smiling and the happy-cloud around my head.

I’m very proud of my third-place finish. The other entries were really, really good, and deserved what they got. I’m perfectly happy.

I might be repeating the word “happy” too much. Apologies!

I wasn’t able to make the event the library put together to present awards, sadly. Author Kenneth Oppel was there, and I would’ve loved to have gone but my schedule was being particularly malicious that day. I was this close to meeting an awesome published author. Sad face: :(

I did end up getting some pretty cool stuff though, including a signed copy of Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, which I am entirely thrilled to have. I love signed books! They’re living proof that books were written by real people.

Stuff I got as a prize from the library. Thank you!

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel signed by him

And Cheez-Its! I was really hungry when I got this stuff and so the Cheez-Its were a life saver.

I’ve entered this contest once before (which I might have mentioned in this post). And let me be honest, I might have been doubting myself as a writer a little. But this was exactly the motivator I needed. I can write!

If there’s anything that you end up taking away from this post, let it be this: if you feel like you were meant to be a writer but your words aren’t as writer-like as you thought they would be and you don’t feel like you’re a writer at all, don’t give up. Please don’t. Writing, whether it’s in the back of a notebook or at the top of a bookshelf, is a gift. Don’t give that gift up.

And I’m writing that little piece of advice for myself too, because I’m almost 100% sure that in the near future, I will be that person who doesn’t feel she can be a writer at all.

Thank you for listening. You can read my entry, as well as the first and second place entries here (which I highly recommend because they’re beyond amazing). They’ll probably be up there until next year’s contest. I’ve also posted my entry down below.

Note: Yes, my first name really is Jacqueline. Jackie=Jacqueline. Just so nobody’s confused or anything…

• • •

Plain Sugar Drops

ŸŸŸ            The candy drops at Bellissa’s Confectionary are now $3.00. Last Tuesday they were only $2.75.

I hand over three bills in exchange for the package. A white, crisp paper bag tied off with a black ribbon that has been cut with more precision than necessary.

The man at the counter does not even have to ask me what I want. In fact, I don’t think we’ve spoken in years.

(That streak was broken today. Mr.—I can’t even remember his name—stated that the price of drops has gone up to three dollars. I just nodded.)

Every Tuesday afternoon around this time I walk into Bellissa’s and buy exactly one bag of candy drops.

I do not marvel at the pink-and-orange-striped walls. I do not stop to ponder anything else in the store, though it is somewhat tempting.

I do not watch the blown-sugar Ferris wheel as it spins in the front window. I do not deposit any coins in the glass cotton candy machine. I do not gaze longingly at the bouquet of cupcakes in the display case.

Every Tuesday, I walk in and head straight for the blossom-colored counter. I hand Mr. Man-Behind-The-Counter exactly $2.75 (now $3.00). He gives me the bag of drops, along with my receipt.

BELLISSA’S CONFECTIONERY

NAME: LAINIE FALLOWAY

PLAIN DROPS…………………… $3.00

TOTAL…………………………….. $3.00

THANK YOU, PLEASE COME AGAIN

Now, the man behind the counter and I both know that I am not Lainie Falloway, but he does not dare point it out.

I look like Lainie. I walk like Lainie. I dress like Lainie. I even smell like Lainie. And for all intents and purposes, I am Lainie Falloway.

As long as neither of us says anything about how I am not Lainie, for all anyone knows, Lainie Falloway is here inside the sugar-blown world of Bellissa’s Confectionary, just like she is every Tuesday.

I walk away with my package of colored drops.

This is the part where I begin to walk towards 73rd Street. By the time I’ve reached 68th I will have opened the bag of drops.

The pristine black ribbon will remain pristine, being tucked into my coat pocket.

I will look through the bag of similarly shaped discs, through the assortment of artificial sugar-shine colors, until I find a red one.

I always eat a red one first.

By 70th, I will become bored with sucking on the drop and will begin chewing it, crushing it between my teeth like ice.

I hate these drops. The candies themselves come in five colors (there is no blue) but only one flavor, which is plain sugar. They are boring. They do not taste like fruit. Or chocolate. Or cinnamon.

They taste like nothing.

They are pretty, reflecting light like gemstones held up in the sunlight. But underneath their beautiful exterior is an utterly boring, pointless existence, devoid of flavor and interest.

But I eat the drops. Always.

By the time I reach 73rd Street I will have crunched up about eight or nine drops, depending on my mood.

On 73rd street sits Coldwater Cemetery, a large, stone-laden landscape wrapped around with iron fencing, much like a cake piped with icing along the edges. This is where I am every Tuesday, right after I visit Bellissa’s, easily trading a sea of sugar for a sea of stones.

I enter the cemetery methodically. Sixteen graves back, four to the right. Don’t trip over the shovel.

This headstone is my sister’s. Very plain, I think. It should’ve been one of those statue graves, one with an angel standing watch over the plot. But no, it is a simple stone, smoothed and rounded over much like a candy disc.

“I bought the drops.”

I toss a few onto the grave spot, hitting the stone with a couple of dull clicks. It’s the only answer I ever receive. I narrowly miss the date of birth with my candy.

The death date may not be mine, but the birth date is. We were twins, born four minutes and thirty-two seconds apart. It’s very creepy, seeing my own birthday etched into a gravestone, but I have to remember that it’s not really mine. Not just mine, anyways.

The infamous Falloway Twins used to always go into Bellissa’s and buy candy. Sara Falloway would always get something different or unusual—sour lemon drops, cinnamon spikes, fruit chews, anything.

Lainie would always walk right up to the front counter and would purchase a package of plain, colored sugar drops, and proceed to eat them in rainbow-order.

The candy store was ours. We watched the Ferris wheel spin for hours, constructed entirely of sugar. We bought cotton candy from the glass machine in the corner. Tried to guess the flavors of the cupcakes in the case.

We always shared our spoils, although we didn’t enjoy each other’s candy as much as our own. Nonetheless, we were two sisters of spun sugar, of Ferris wheels and frosting and candy.

And every Tuesday, we’d walk all the way home, throwing candy at each other and laughing and looking utterly inseparable.

Inseparable. We were inseparable, weren’t we? I toss another piece of candy at the grave. I can’t live without my sister. She was me, and I was she, and how was I supposed to live without myself?

Without her?

So every Tuesday I come back to this spot with my bag full of plain sugar candies and I pretend that my sister is still here, still alive, still eating candies and occasionally throwing them at me.

“They raised the price, can you believe it?”

More drops fall onto the silent grave.

One last thing to do before I leave. I pull the perfect black ribbon out of my pocket and place it on the ground.

“Miss you, Lainie. See you next Tuesday.”

I leave her then, pelting the words with drops one last time before I go:

In Loving Memory

LAINIE M. FALLOWAY

BELOVED DAUGHTER AND SISTER

June 18th, 1997-November 7th, 2010

Something School-like This Way Comes

One week left until school.

ONE WEEK LEFT UNTIL SCHOOL.

Oh, if only you could hear my internal screaming. It sounds like this: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

While my level of emotional preparedness isn’t exactly anywhere near “prepared,” I do happen to be prepared in a different sort of way.

I have new stuff. Yay!

At least there’s one good thing about going back to school, and that is that I actually have a legitimate reason to waste my money on notebooks and pens and things. Finally!

Waste. Ha, that’s funny. Buying notebooks and pens is never a waste!

The past few weeks have been spent collecting items for school.

This is my new planner. Personally I liked the one I had last year better, but unfortunately it doesn’t have any 2014 pages in it, so I can’t use it anymore. *sob* Usually what I like to do is buy plain, blank notebooks and such (which are often times cheaper–See? No wasting!) and then decorate them.

Black Planner with Silver Clouds Drawn on Top

Black Planner with Silver Clouds Drawn on Top 3

Silver Sharpie on top of black is one of my favorites.

Black Planner with Silver Clouds Drawn on Top 2

I also have these super adorable eight-pocket folders that I got at this store called the Art Box when I was up in Canada. I absolutely love them. Eight-pocket, semi-transparent love.

Folders from Canada

This is my best friend, my orange backpack. My backpack isn’t new (in fact, many would venture to call it old), but I still think it’s awesome. It’s much more  bright orange in person.

My Backpack

I also get a chance to wear these pretties. My old grey boots had turned different colors, one being a muddy green and the other being a cloudy shade of blue. But not these! They’re the same color. See?

Grey Boots

Good luck to all of you going back to school. I hope you’re ready– I sure am not.

And also, bunny-shaped cookies in perfectly portable packages:

Bunny Cookies

Why I Love Scented Candles

Scented Candles

Yes, this is a post about scented candles. Sort of.

Eventually it comes back around to writing. Eventually. But mostly it’s about what you can do with scented candles besides using them as air fresheners (air fresheners… ha, that’s funny.)

Let me tell you a story…

My sister and I are perhaps the slightest bit crazy. Okay, maybe a little more than slightly. But that’s beside the point. Anyway, my crazy sister and I do a lot of fun things together that border on the intersection of random and weird and perhaps entertaining. Mostly the random, though, I must admit.

One of our favorite pastimes happens to be smelling scented candles.

Now, at first glance, this probably does not sound like much fun. “I would rather watch bread toast in the toaster!” you want to say, or perhaps, “YOU REALLY ARE CRAZY.” *backs away slowly*

That second exclamation may be more or less true. But before you go running for your toasters, let me tell you a little bit about this candle game of ours.

The tradition of smelling candles is an ancient one that dates back to… oh, a few years ago. My sister and I were at T.J. Maxx (best place ever to find awesome stuff you didn’t even know you needed) with our mother, who had gone off to look for something.

We probably could’ve gone and looked at sweaters and dresses and pointy shoes like normal people do, but that’s just not living a full life.

T.J. Maxx has always been a good place to find really interesting stuff, like that dog-shaped mirror/newspaper print armchair/lime green hedgehog statue/fake plastic cupcake that you’ve always wanted, but that particular day we happened to stumble into a few glass shelves lined with… drum roll please…

Scented candles.

Before us sat shelf after shelf of rainbow wax promising the scents of Tropical Sea Breeze and Freshly Baked Blueberry Pie and Clean Linen. And of course, being us, we were tempted to smell them.

All of them.

Why is this even remotely entertaining? Because it is at the exact moment that you put Clean Linen up to your face to sniff that you begin to choke and wish that you could throw up scents to get them out of your airways.

Apparently somebody thinks that clean (and let me emphasize the word clean) linen smells like soggy, burnt baby powder.

And in the two seconds in which all of this happens, your sister laughs at you for being stupid enough to hold it so close to your face.

*snickers evilly*

Most of them make you cough and gag and wish you could rip your nose off, but that’s what makes it fun.

Grab a few good friends (preferably ones without serious allergies) and dare each other to smell candles. It’s a blast.

By the way, if you’re looking for candles that actually smell good, STAY AWAY from the dark purple ones. And the black ones. Most of the time the deeeeeeep purples smell like a cup of rotten grape juice that’s starting to form a fuzz and the black ones… well, Axe comes to mind, only multiplied by a thousand and left in the sun to die.

Plus the black ones always have the word “ice” in the title. I don’t know what these people think ice smells like, but it’s not that, I’m pretty sure.

(The ones named after baked goods are okay. Most of the time when the label says something like Cookies or Cupcakes or Vanilla or Waffles or something, it actually smells delicious. Like, more delicious than a real cookie. So delicious it makes you contemplate eating the candle.)

(But don’t do that it doesn’t taste as good as it smells.)

Told you candles can be fun.

Plus, you can LIGHT them. On FIRE.

How can you not like that?

I’m telling you, TRY IT. It’s hilarious.

(I’m talking about smelling candles, not burning down houses, of course.)

All joking aside, there is a point to my little story, a writing-ish point. After smelling dozens of different candles and changing their names to better suit their smells, I realized that this little game is also perfect writing practice.

Smells are very powerful things. They drag up memories quite quickly, I think. Ever smell a pastry (or like, a FRESH PLATE OF PANCAKES, yum…) and then suddenly feel five years old again? All the time. So try practicing describing what you smell. It turns up some pretty interesting results.

You get descriptions like burnt baby powder and  shampoo mixed with grass and smoldering, moldy rubber (that one was a black candle, by the way), and  ultimately, it adds some flavor to the writing.

Ha. Flavor. That’s a good one, Jackie.

Sorry, sorry– no jokes. Especially lame ones, my dear.  Don’t play with fire. Eat your vegetables. Do play with scented candles.

And keep on writing.