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Try Again

A year ago on this very day, my dad dropped me off at the DMV so I could try for a third time to pass my driving test. The first time, I hadn’t turned on what was allegedly a turn-only lane. The second time, I had knocked a cone coming out of my perfectly executed parallel park. On the morning of the third attempt, the roads were covered in three inches of cold mush and I decided that if I made it out alive to see the DMV guy circle the FAIL on my sheet, I would spend the rest of the day wallowing in the safety of my self-pity while watching the O.C.

And then by some seasonally appropriate miracle, I passed! I don’t remember actually driving during the test, I just remember getting into the car and then parking at the end and hearing the guy next to me say “Well, you passed,” before listing all the things I did wrong. It’s likely that everyone at the DMV could tell I was shocked about passing, considering that I looked like a deer in headlights when I got my picture taken.
So, happy birthday, Driver’s License!
Another notable accomplishment that required several attempts is getting through a Stephen King novel, which instantly became a priority starting in 9th grade when I learned that he was a Red Sox fan. Deciding to finish a novel by the nation’s most celebrated horror book writer was a big deal, considering how I was too scared to keep my eyes open during this scene from The Princess Bride until I turned 13.
And so:
Cujo, 9th grade, stopped reading after the 5th page
The Stand, 9th grade, stopped reading after the first person died
Insomnia, 11th grade, stopped reading after second chapter
The Shining, last summer, fearlessly finished entire book! (It may have helped that I’d seen the movie 10 years ago and sort of knew how things ended. But still.)
Moral of the story: Dreams really do come true! All it takes is a lot of nagging from your parents about how you’re the only person left in high school/college who doesn’t drive, or consistent teasing from your best friend for not wanting to watch The Ring 2.
So, take that, world! I’ve read a scary book and I get to drive myself back to Northfield in two weeks, what up?

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Who You Gonna Call?

Life can be tough sometimes, you know? And when life gets tough, you find out who your real friends are. When the world has got me down and nobody understands my secret pain, there is one thing I always know I can turn to. Its name is Yahoo Answers.

Typical scenario: My life is crumbling before my eyes. My mittens are lost. The key to my brother’s car won’t turn. That one line from that one Jack Johnson song is on the tip of my tongue and I can’t remember how it goes. There’s a crick in my back. The oil paintings I have to turn in the next day aren’t dry yet.

Who you gonna call? Yahoo Answers. Because not only will you find a diverse assortment of solutions or off-topic rants, you will realize that things could be a lot worse. You will realize that somewhere in the universe is a 15 year old girl who isn’t sure how to read her pregnancy test. Or someone who’s having trouble uploading their original fan fiction Word doc. Or someone who needs help choosing a new designer iPhone case. Or someone who doesn’t have Spellchecker. Each tab that I open feels like a whole new universe that I have yet to explore. Each question I read makes me into a more introspective, curious person.

“What type of music is each zodiac sign good at dancing?”

“Where can i get spice girls lolliepops?”

“What’s a good plea to get unbanned from 4chan?”

“Will snow globe collections give you profit in the future?”

“Why oh why do i hate stupid people?”

“How can I get some tumblr followers, possibly overnight?”

“How did my brother become a geek and let himself go?”

“Do rabbits with wings even exist?”

“How long after eating cereal should I wait before drinking soda?”

As Frank Atwood so graciously put it in the last season of The O.C. when he was trying to explain his undying love for Julie Cooper, “We’re from the same world.” Such is my undying love for Yahoo Answers. I go to Yahoo Answers and I find kindred spirits. I find the questions I didn’t even know I wanted to ask.

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The Day I Met Sandra Cisneros

Two months ago, Sandra Cisneros came to speak at Carleton. I sat in the second row, took out a notebook, and didn’t stop writing until she stepped off the podium. Well, that’s not true. At one point I raised my hand and asked her a question. She asked me my name. She answered (looking at me! talking to me!) and I waited until she had broken eye contact to write down what she was saying. Here’s what I have in my notebook:

Oct. 8, Friday 2010
Convo: Sandra Cisneros talk
Sandra is wearing a blue pantsuit with white polka dots, like something my grandma would wear. She has shoulder length, dark hair with reddish brown tints. She has huge thick glasses that take up a quarter of her face. Her nose sticks out like a beak, and her lipstick is the same color of her hair and glasses, a dark wine red. It’s hard to tell her eyes through the glasses. I think her voice will be low and craggly.
Oh my gosh it’s not, it’s annoying like Karen from Will and Grace.
She says she’s wearing her pajamas and talking about talking and listening to trees. She’s using her birthday party to raise money for the screenplay for The House on Mango Street.
-Day of the Dead, “the people who crossed over are very present”
“maybe a more accurate translation of mija is ‘I love you'”
– relearning superstition
She makes art! (?)
“When you are grieving, making anything will nourish your spirit, whether it is a cupcake or a poem. Making art is like going to a monastery and reflecting.”
“… a language for the things we cannot say”
“When you die, it’s like the library of Alexandria burning — unless you write these stories. Write from the place that’s only yours. Write 10 things only you know. Write 10 things you wish you could forget.”
She says she’s Buddhist now.
“If you’re thinking about who’s going to read, you can’t write. The rules are:
1. Tell the truth
2. Don’t hurt anyone
She told us how she meditates. She imagines the Teletubbies sun-baby.
at this point I raised my hand and asked something.

She’s looking at me she’s looking at me she’s saying “… trust your heart (she’s touching her heart), because anything that comes from there will be good. You have to forget your ego. You have to forget your fear.”
I can’t remember if she answered my question. But I remember she seemed very spacey and weird. Like the kind of woman who sells you snake oil instead of tylenol for your cold. No, but I felt lucky being there because someone who says pretty things and writes pretty things makes you believe the world is a pretty place.