Masked – Prose

I can’t see people clearly anymore. The masks that now come in all colors and patterns adorning their faces are completely appropriate and there’s no doubt that people should continue to wear them. But I miss seeing the faces underneath them.

Some people always walk around guarded. Now everyone has to do so. Wear your mask, keep six feet apart, stay indoors as much as possible to avoid these awkward and paranoia-inducing encounters. It’s hard not to feel like you should just lock yourself away.

A day will come (hopefully soon) where the masks can be peeled off and life goes back to normal. But right now is not that time, and it’s crucial to be cautious and aware of our actions and their potential consequences during this time.

I may not normally be the type of person to wear a mask, but I sure am wearing one right now.

This was a super short piece, but I felt like I just needed to sum up my thoughts about this situation. We need to step back and see the bigger picture during these difficult times and work together for everyone’s best interest. Consider others and those at-risk, and make sure to do your best with social distancing, even as restrictions start to loosen. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

Up On The Hill – Poem by Me

i want to live up on the hill
be queen of the hill

even if it's lonely, i'd love to
have it all to myself.

and its endless beauty 
quantified in green, lush

fields and wildflowers of all
colors would be free for

me to explore. just a girl
and her hill

I hope you enjoyed this piece! It’s a short one and I feel like there’s something missing, but I figured I’d post it as is and see if you guys had any feedback. Please let me know if there’s any writing challenges you’d like me to try out in the near future. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

Hometown – Poem by Me

not many people make it out of here; i still can't
determine whether that's by choice or not

i dream of white Christmases, of crisp leaves
at my feet, of picturesque towns that experience

all four seasons. i'm a traitor, an oddball, a black
sheep for wanting to leave the sunshine and

brave the cold elsewhere, for wanting to leave this
town like my mother and father both failed to do.

i could argue it was just as much their choice to stay
as it wasn't, but their story and their home will

remain theirs. i'm going to find a new
hometown.

I hope you guys enjoyed this piece! It’s definitely a summary of my current situation with my family and hometown. I live in southern California, so people look at me like I’m crazy when I say I want to go pretty much anywhere else for college; I know I’m blessed to have grown up here, but I want to experience seasons and life elsewhere. It’s also way too expensive. Let me know if you have a similar perspective, or if you have any feedback on this piece. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

Please Come Back – Poem by Me

why did you have to leave?
     sometimes i forget that you did but
i'm proud of myself for that
     it took too long to realize forgetting

would make it easier. 
     adjusting to life without you was hard.
reflecting on life with you is harder.
     and i can't help but wonder 

where i would be now
    if you were still here to guide me.
please come back, but also
    don't. i've made it too far and you've

been gone too long. if i had to guess
    where you were, i'd say you
were chasing the sun and dancing
    with the stars. if i ever

need to reach you, 
     maybe i'll meet you there
someday.

I hope you enjoyed this piece! Please let me know if you have any feedback on this poem, or any writing challenges you’d like to see me try out in the near future. Stay safe and healthy. 🙂

Brooke

The Gardener(s) – Prose

A day doesn’t go by where I don’t hear the sound of a lawnmower or leafblower somewhere on my street. Even after shutting my windows, that loud, threatening buzz is hard to ignore. It seems to penetrate the glass.

You’d think it would be easy to get used to, considering how often it’s there. But I never fail to notice it, pulling me out of my work for at least a few minutes. This might sound like a complaint, but it’s really just an observation.

My mother told me all our neighbors have the same gardener. He works on most of the street, getting everything done in a day. Usually Fridays but not always, she says.

But what about the other six days of the week? I know she’s right- I see our gardener every Friday. He works on at least seven of the houses on our street, is there for hours working hard, and leaves a little after lunchtime. But the buzz of his (and every other gardener’s) tools can be found every single day.

For me, there are many sounds that you expect to hear at some point in your day. The low, threatening hum of a lawnmower has become one of them.

I hope you enjoyed this random rambling! It might be a weird thing to talk about, but it’s something that’s been on my mind a lot since spending so much time at home in quarantine. Please let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or any writing challenges you’d like me to try out in the future. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

My Favorite Mirror – Poem by Me

come on, you've got to see this
i'd always tell all my friends before dragging 

them upstairs into my bedroom. i would thrust
them before my innocent looking full-length 

mirror. chipped white wood, a design chiseled
into the stand, and shorter than me. no one 

ever understood why it was so special. 
always absentmindedly staring into this 

extraordinary ordinary mirror while sitting 
at my desk, i soon discovered its magic.

when i gazed into the glass, i saw a different me.
not different enough that i wouldn't recognize 

her, but different all the same. blonder hair,
bluer eyes, clearer skin, a more delicate frame.

the minute details that would make me more
confident in my appearance. at first i thought

i had just matured over night, growing into my 
body. but after running to the bathroom mirror

and my parents' mirror, i knew this wasn't the 
case. i didn't know whether to be disappointed

or relieved. i returned to my mirror, this magic
mirror, once my favorite mirror, and shattered

the thin layer of glass. as special as it was to see
myself in this way that no one else could, i

didn't want to be stuck on that version of myself. 
i didn't want to be the girl in the mirror if i 

would never actually be her.

I hope you enjoyed this piece! Just like my poem from yesterday, this isn’t inspired by my life, which made it interesting to write. It’s also a bit of a longer piece. Let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or any writing challenges for me to try out in the future. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

It’s An Honor – Poem by Me

strolling onto the stage while people clap
her scarlet dress clings to her body

and she fights a blush that would turn her
face almost as red as her lipstick

now at the podium, the shiny gold award
is in her hand. it doesn't seem that different

from a high school sports trophy (anymore).
she's at the podium, a microphone is shoved

in her face, and it's time for her speech.
you know, the impromptu one that the 

veteran celebrities prepare in advance, and 
the newbies don't think to-- she clears 

her throat, stares into the microphone 
rather than facing the crowd, and says

thank you, it's an honor. she doesn't use 
the impromptu speech she made up for fun

when she was a little kid performing
for her family- this has been my dream 

my entire life. instead, she lists off 
names of people, things, and places 

to thank. she smiles and hopes the cameras
aren't picking up the slight blush that 

managed to creep into her cheeks. she clutches
the award tightly, because it's an honor.

This was interesting to write since I normally write poetry that’s somewhat inspired by my life, and this definitely isn’t! I hope you enjoyed regardless. Please let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or writing challenges you’d like me to try in the near future. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

10 Things I’ve Been Looking Forward to Doing After AP Tests

Welcome back everyone!

If you’re a high school student who took AP classes this year, you would definitely know that APs are officially over! I only took two tests, but considering that I basically had to reteach myself the material for one (AP Psychology) I was still stressed out, especially with the unique online format of the tests this year. Much of my time the past few weeks has been divided between my online schoolwork and then extra studying for my AP tests, so now that APs are over and the actual school year is winding down, I have plenty of free time to focus on relaxing and fun. Keep on reading to find out what I’m planning to fill this newfound time with!

  1. Reading! I had been on a reading roll during quarantine until it got closer to AP tests and I had to give up my leisure reading time for extra studying time everyday. I have a long list of books I’m planning to read once my library reopens, but I also have a few books at home I still hadn’t gotten around to reading. I also recently got a subscription to the Kenyon Review literary magazine, and I’ve been looking forward to reading the latest issue. In addition, I have three books as assigned reading before the Sewanee Young Writer’s Conference (online, of course!) in late June.
  2. Writing! Okay, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise either if you’ve been reading my blog for a while. I had been steadily working on a novel this past month or so and writing 1,000+ words per day, but I also had to put that aside to study for APs the past few weeks. I’ve been looking forward to returning to working on it– hopefully my time away from the piece will have given me a fresh perspective and some newfound inspiration for the chapters to come.
  3. Netflix bingeing. I haven’t gotten around to watching Outer Banks yet, but everybody’s been talking about it so I really want to. I also want to watch season 4 of Riverdale since it’s now on Netflix. I know it’s a hot mess but that’s what makes it entertaining; I love to watch the commentary videos on YouTube making fun of it, so I have an idea of what’s gone on in the season. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine though– I devoured season 3 on train rides and plane rides during my summer trip last year, and the ridiculousness made it entertaining.
  4. Harry Potter movie marathon. I guess this could qualify as Netflix bingeing, but it’s not on Netflix. The Harry Potter movies are going to be on HBO’s new streaming service (which I believe you get for free as long as you pay for the HBO channel), and after rereading the books about a month ago, I’ve been dying to watch all of the movies. To be honest, I only really remember the first four and part of the fifth… well, I really only remember Professor Umbridge’s horrid pink outfits in the fifth and not much else. It’s been years since I watched any of them.
  5. Swimming. If you didn’t know, I live in southern California and it is starting to get hot. I am lucky enough to have a pool at my house– my family has been using it the past few weeks while I’ve stayed inside studying. I’m looking forward to enjoying the pool and hopefully getting a tan.
  6. FaceTiming friends just for fun. I’m still social distancing so FaceTime will have to do for now, but I definitely am looking forward to talking to friends about topics other than school and studying for tests. Make sure to stay in touch with your friends! I know these times can be super lonely, and it’s important to reach out.
  7. Organizing my room. Yes, I’m kind of a neat freak and I find reorganizing my stuff fun. Since I can now recycle a lot of my notes and unwanted assignments from this year, I can definitely reorganize my desk and a lot of my school stuff. I can also bring out all of my summer clothes and try everything on to see what still fits and what I should donate.
  8. (Hopefully) starting a Little Free Library in my neighborhood. This is something I’ve really wanted to do since quarantine started, but I never dove into the research. My neighborhood has a pretty strict homeowners’ association so I’ll probably have to get it approved, but I really hope I can do this by the end of summer. If you don’t know what a Little Free Library is, you should look it up and check out their website. It’s an awesome nonprofit and a really cute concept.
  9. Going on hikes. There’s a ton of gorgeous hikes in my area, but I rarely find myself making plans to go on them. There’s definitely been an increase in people making use of these trails since quarantine started, but I personally haven’t found the time to. Now that I’m not bogged down with school, I’d like to explore more of nature (locally, of course).
  10. Researching colleges. This is kind of a weird thing to be excited about, but I guess I get excited about things most people wouldn’t be. I’m going to be a junior this coming school year, so it’s finally time for me to get serious about researching colleges. I’ve been waiting for this since I was a little kid, so I’m looking forward to embarking on the quest of finding schools I think I would fit in at through extensive online research.

I hope this inspires you to celebrate the end of AP testing and the school year coming to a close. I wanted to address that from some of the comments in this post it may seem like I centered my life around school the past month or so in preparation for AP testing, and although that’s true to an extent, don’t worry; I still managed a somewhat balanced schedule. I just had to sacrifice a couple things since my family’s also been going through some stuff (not corona related) and I still needed my own personal time to spend with them right now. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

On the Shelf – Poem by Me

i stack my old books on the shelf
blowing the dust off the chipped wood

to make a clean, safe home for these
prized possessions that possess all the

knowledge in the world (my world)
combined. books that represent the

person i want to be, the world i want to
live in, and books that represent the 

person i am, the world that i've had to
accept. neatly organized by color, the 

sight of the shelf is one i admire. it's 
much too beautiful to share.

i step back from the stacks, turn away
from the shelves, and walk out of the 

room. i lock the door behind me to 
keep my precious books safe.

I hope you enjoyed this piece! Please let me know if you have any feedback on this poem or any writing challenges for me to try out in the future. 🙂 Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

How Using Goodreads Changed My Reading Habits

Hello everyone!

If you’re an avid reader, you’ve most likely stumbled across the Goodreads website at some point in your life. I was no exception, but I didn’t use it myself; I would only peruse the website if I wanted to read reviews on a specific book or find a recommendation. However, about a month and a half ago, I made a Goodreads account and started actually keeping track of the books I was reading and rating them. I also have been steadily building a giant “want to read” list of books I’ll have to check out at my library once it’s back open. If you want to find out how it’s changed my reading habits, keep on reading.

I’m kind of an organization-freak when it comes to lists and keeping track of things I’ve done/want to do/need to do, so I’m not sure why I just came around to using Goodreads. I love the idea of being able to look back on everything I’ve read and remind myself whether I liked certain books or not, and being on the website in general motivates me to read more.

It has a feature where you can set your goal of how many books you want to read in 2020, and I found this to be motivating as well. I personally chose 20 books. I’ve already met that goal and read over that amount, so I’ll probably change that limit soon.

I’m more motivated to read because I know that I’ll get to check off that I finished a book on my Goodreads. This is probably a questionable mindset, but since I love reading and this motivates me to make time for it, I’m okay with that. 🙂 I’m just that type of person, so Goodreads has been helpful for me in that regard.

It’s also useful in case you’re looking for new books to read! They suggest book recommendations off of the categories you choose or the books you’ve read, and of course you can read the reviews to get a taste of whether you’d actually like them or not.

If you already have an ongoing list of books you’d like to read, it definitely makes it easier to keep track of them. I’ll get recommendations from friends or hear about different books in passing that I’d like to read, but I’ll easily forget about them if I don’t write them down somewhere. Even if I do manage to write them down, I rarely end up following through with reading the book and I usually end up losing the note to myself. Not anymore!

My “Want to Read” list is at least 70 books at the moment, so I definitely have a lot to go through. I’m proud to say that during quarantine I’ve reread almost every single book on my bookshelf and rated it on Goodreads for future reference. I can’t stress enough how helpful the five-star rating system and shelves are for an organized yet forgetful person like me.

Quarantine is also a huge part of this equation. I wouldn’t have had time to play with Goodreads or read so many books in the past couple months in general if it wasn’t for being stuck in my house. That’s one of the few upsides of this situation, and one that I plan on continuing taking advantage of.

This probably sounded like a weird ad for Goodreads- I know it’s been around forever and so it’s not exactly groundbreaking news, but using it is a new habit of mine and I wanted to share how it’s impacted my reading. I hope you still enjoyed it and are inspired to go check out the website if you’re like me and haven’t before. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke