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22B422 Pt. 17: Candles

Does it count if I wrote this list way back in November? Here’s an excerpt from last year’s NaNoWriMo experiment, which takes place in a street market. 

Across this woman’s stand was a booth filled with incense and candles that church-going people could burn for specific saints, or for the occasional miracle. There was
– the candle that could cure impotency
– the candle that could turn back time
– the candle that could heal the sick
– the candle that could turn smelly feet odorless 
– the candle that could turn naughty children into angels
– the candle that could make the lover who broke your heart come back on his knees begging for your forgiveness
– the candle that kept  bitter ancestors out of your house
– the candle that stretched money out so that people could make ends meet
– the candle that helped vocalists with no talent sing in tune
– the candle that helped people read faster
– the candle that made a specific person miss you so much their bones ached
– the candle that could burn away all the sins you’d ever committed
– the candle that could burn away all the sins you were considering committing in the next year
– the candle that guaranteed a lasting marriage
– the candle that soothed coughs, sore throats, stomachaches and fevers
– the candle that induced coughs, sore throats, stomachaches and fevers
– the candle that made you into a better poet
– the candle that ensured anything cooked in your kitchen would never burn again
– the candle that incrementally cured diabetes long enough for you to have just one bite of that delicious chocolate donut
– the candle that made arthritis go away
– the candle that erased memories 
– the candle that helped you find lost items
– the candle that made you lose weight
– the candle that engorged your breasts 
– the candle that scared away monsters under the bed and ghosts in the closet
– the candle that made it so you were always on time
– the candle that helped you stop the disgusting habit of biting your nails
– the candle to keep unwanted missionaries away from your doorstep
– the candle that cured alcoholism
– the candle that got you drunk
– the candle that protected houses from bandits and criminals
– the candle that ended world hunger
– the candle that kept away nosy neighbors
– the candle that made lonely people feel a little less alone
– the candle that made everyone in the room fuzzy to the point of near invisibility so that you could be alone if you wanted
– the candle that helped people find the silver lining on the darkest, coal-black thunder clouds 
– the candle that restored faith when faith was needed
– the candle that soothed people in moments of resignation
– the candle that provided shots of extra energy
– the candle that helped lost dogs find their way back home
– the candle that helped people remember birthdays and anniversaries and supposedly important dates like those
– the candle that improved people’s driving abilities
– the candle that reduced blood pressure
– the candle that inspired burnt-out lovers to squeeze out one last sonnet before deciding that they are bored with romance
– the candle that could help people forgive the unforgivable
– the candle that kept ants and cockroaches out of the pantry
– the candle that erased fingerprints and smudges from clear glass windows
– the candle that made people run faster
– the candle that helped people sleep sounder
– the candle that could cure snoring
– the candle that could induce nightmares in people who had grown accustomed to too many sweet dreams
– the candle for people who are afraid of the dark
– the candle for people who are afraid of heights
– the candle for people who are afraid of people
– the candle that could make limp celery crunchy again
– the candle that could make lightbulbs glow brighter
– the candle that helped people make difficult decisions
– the candle that increased gamblers’ chances at winning
– the candle that allowed people to read other people’s minds
– the candle that made everyone agree with you
– the candle that kept it from raining
– the candle that helped your rose bushes grow
– the candle that perpetually blessed the food on your table so that you wouldn’t have to say grace at every meal
– the candle that eased pangs of hunger pain
– the candle that helped people speak a foreign language
– the candle that deciphered the Book of Isaiah 
– the candle whose flames foretold the future with shadows on the wall 
– the candle that took back all of the hurtful things you said to the few people you cared about the most
– the candle for aching backs
– the candle for Christmases when there might not be enough presents


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Highlights of my day:

1. Getting two FREE mini-boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats at the grocery store
2. Eating fried rice
3. Making a ton of salsa

Lows of my day:

1. Running out of milk
2. Having to share my salsa with 40 people

This inspires me to write a personal manifesto in haiku form:

All I care about
Is what’s inside my stomach
And inside my fridge. 

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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.