Spring


Hey there, grass. It’s been a while. Nice to see you again. How’s the lawn holding up?

I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed the color green. (Hint: it’s a lot.) The birds chirp in the morning as I wake up. The precipitation comes as rain rather than snow. I have died and gone to heaven.

Maybe this sounds unoriginal. I know everyone who lives north of the equator is going through the same thing right now. But bear with me for a moment.

I am one of those people who will sit out on the porch and listen to the rain go down the sewer. Sometimes I’ll sit at the end of the driveway, watching the cars pass by and feeling like an endless piece of the universe. My favorite thing to do is ride my bike through the forest, and to be absolutely shrouded in trees and the rippling sound of the creek as I pedal.

You know what I’ve been seeing for the past few months? The inside of my house. The inside of my classrooms. Everything has felt so very inside. I have curled up inside of myself, socially and emotionally. I haven’t wanted to wake up in the mornings.

But now the sun is shining! The grass may be mostly dead, but it’s still grass! And grass is like a promise. Mother nature is telling us that she still loves us. Soon, she will make us happy again.

Today I wore a skirt and boots. I’ve been wearing jeans and tee shirts like every other person who doesn’t care too much about their wardrobe for a while, but today I put in effort. And that means something. I’m beginning to unfurl from the cocoon I’ve been tucked away in all winter, and it’s only going to be uphill from here.

If you are only patient, you’ll be able to watch the flowers go from bud to bloom and fill the world with color. We’ve all waited this long, we’ve all been hanging off the edges of our seats, and now the payoff has arrived. I know I will relish it with every moment. This is the climax. Enjoy.

Ciao for now,

Mikki

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How to Count the Stars: A Short Story


“Why are we out here, Astro?” I asked in a hissing whisper.

“Shh.” He raised a finger to his lips, then pointed ahead in one swift motion. “It’s right up ahead. I promise.”

Normally, I would be angry with him for patronizing me, but right then I was busy with an anxious clench in my chest. Nervous, I glanced back in the direction of the sleeping car. It was too far behind to see.

“Where are we going?” There was the sense again, of danger. An alarm flared in my mind, sparking and screaming, and it was constantly getting harder to push away. “Astro?”

It was hard to imagine why I trusted him. Every possible reason that a slick guy in a leather jacket would drag his girlfriend through the forest late at night started going through my head. And how well did I know him, really? Had it been months or weeks since the day we met? At that moment, weeks felt like the right answer.

“Astro, answer me,” I pleaded. “Why are you taking me here?”

“I want to teach you something,” he replied. “It’s something I’ve tried to teach some other girls. Maybe you’ll be the first to really learn.”

I swallowed. A hard ball found its way down my throat and lodged itself uncomfortably in my gut. If I screamed now, would anyone hear me? The last town we had passed on the highway was a fifteen-minute drive away, at sixty miles per hour. That would make for a long run.

“And what would that be?” All of my worries bubbled up in my voice.

“What would what be?” he replied, a little sarcastic.

“The thing that you want to teach me?” There was venom in my words.

“You’ll see,” he replied, distracted.

Since it was impossible to see his face in the dark, I invented an expression for him. In my mind, he was smirking, the way he did when he saw me laughing. His eyebrows were close together, one higher than the other. A sinister sparkle danced across his eyes.

“We’re almost there,” he told me enthusiastically. I nodded, although I knew he couldn’t see me. I could hardly see the hands in front of my face.

Why had I agreed to this?It dawned upon me that I had willingly followed him into the woods. Then, it had been like an impulse. Now, not so much. I started thinking of specific horror stories. The little tidbits that pop up on the internet sometimes, the amber alerts, the notifications on the news that what we are about to show is graphic, so turn away if you don’t wish to see it. Even the movies from health class made their way to the front of my brain.

“How do you know the way back here?” I asked suddenly. “Neither of us has a flashlight.”

He paused for only a second, then continued at a pace even quicker than before. “Let’s just say I’ve been here a lot of times,” he finally replied.

It was as though he’d thrown a boulder down my throat and into my stomach. But still, I didn’t stop following him. If, by some slight chance, he had good intentions, then it wouldn’t make much sense to run away. And if his intentions were not so sunny, then it also wouldn’t be much use to run away.

“You’re awfully quiet,” he informed me between breaths. “You deep in thought?”

I shook my head to prevent a smile. “Yeah. That.” Deep in thought.

“We’re almost there.”

He told me this before. “How much longer, Astro?” I asked in a guttural,  whiny voice. Little bits of anxiety bubbled and popped as I spoke.

“Not much.”

Keeping up with his stride had taken enough breath out me me that I couldn’t respond. So now, not only was I vulnerable, I was physically weak. A perfect pairing.

Up ahead, the trees were more sparse. Moonbeams were cast across the forest floor. It was the one place with light we had come across since Astro shut off the glowing eyes of his car a quarter of an hour ago.

Astro suddenly came to a stop, and, with a jolt, I did the same. Hovering in midair, between our lips, were dancing, flirting little particles, lit up eerily by the bluish light of the moon. It was like being surrounded by a million luminescent fairies, or like being suspended in space and watching the galaxies pass by. For a moment, I forgot how scared I was. Even looking directly into Astro’s black eyes and seeing the whole world inside of them for one moment, it was as though there was nothing to be afraid of.

Then I remembered. My heart sank and took my face with it.

“Are you alright?” he asked, with a look of concern.

I wasn’t sure how to answer him, so I refrained from saying anything. The quiet of the forest wrapped around us and filled my lungs as I breathed.

he pressed his hand against my cheek. I believed that it would begin now, that everything was downhill from here.

“Astro,” I murmured, pleading. Everything about me was pathetic. I shook under his fingers.

He wiped away a tear. I hadn’t realized there were tears to wipe away.

Drawing his hand back to his side, he whispered, “Look up.”

I obliged. And if I had thought before that some dust was anything like watching the universe in its entirety, I was wrong. This was.

It seemed like everything that was beautiful was thrown up into the sky. From the one small circle where no branches blocked the view of the heavens, I could see uncountable stars, in big strings like playful children, flirting in the deep black that filled the voids between them.

“My mom told me that if I ever liked someone, really liked someone, that I should bring her here,” Astro said, breaking the stillness and reminding me to breathe. “And if she can appreciate it, then I should teach her how to count them.”

When I didn’t respond, he continued. “Most people are too afraid to even come all the way back here. Those that have made it, get bored. That’s why I’ve never been with anyone for very long.”

Finally, I broke away from the view to look at him. He was telling the truth.
I could see it in the way he stopped trying to look cool for a second, the way there were creases in his forehead.

He smiled, waiting for me to say something, anything. His eyes were hopeful, and glittered spectacularly underneath the light of infinity.

“Teach me,” I said. “I want to know how to count them.”

There was so much gratitude in his expression then. That was not the face of someone who would take me somewhere and leave me for the vultures. And, as much as he was thankful for me, I was thankful for him. For once.

He took my hand and showed me his secrets. For every one of my questions, he had an answer. For every lock of mystery I could not open, his words were the key. He held his arms around me, and we lay there, underneath the hole in the trees, until the sunlight replaced the moon. And every day, I revisit that place and that day, and Astro and the stars and the whole universe, because I know that if I forget I will lose the thing that makes me different, that makes me better. And, to this day, all I’ve ever wanted to be is better––for Astro, and for the sake of every star that I’ve counted in the sky.

Everywhere I go now, I look up. There are so many amazing things to see when you have your open, and I intend to keep mine wide for as long as I live. To date, I have found numerous story ideas, innumerable ten-minute best friends at the coffee shop, and various thoughts and ideas that never would have come to me if not for that one act, forever ago. Everything is different now, and to think I would never have felt this way if Astro hadn’t looked up and thought the stars were beautiful, too.

Why You Should Drop Everything and See Frozen


Yes, it’s a musical. Yes, the main characters are princesses. Yes, there is romance. But no, it is not just another romantic princess musical.

Unlike Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, and the rest of the crew, who exist solely to pine for a prince, these ladies have their own agendas. Elsa and Anna are here to discover themselves and everything that’s waiting for them in the world.

If the Oscars didn’t convince you to drop everything and see Frozen, maybe this post will.

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Elsa has powers she can’t control, and her struggle is learning to win the mental game, as in the song “Let It Go.” Her character is empowering to watch. She goes through this tremendous evolution once her secret is out, and that alone is fantastic. Despite seeming secondary to Anna’s character, she is my favorite.

I personally connected to her because she never had a romantic relationship throughout the entirety of the movie. In fact, she spends most of her life caged up inside her room in order to protect her sister. Despite not having a man, she can rise up to defeat her challenges. This is a message we never see enough of in the media, and it’s a liberating experience to watch that happen––not just for single ladies like me, but also for younger girls, and older girls, too, who need a reminder.

anna_in_frozen-wideAnna, the more featured of the two, learns what love really means. Disney seems to critique itself as she gets engaged to someone the night she meets him. Besides her fiancé, Hans, and herself, no one  is in support of this decision, although the couple-to-be do share an amazing love song. Elsa and another character both chew her out and are openly appalled by her engagement.

Like her sister, Anna goes through a metamorphosis, although it is more subtle. To go more in depth would give away some major plot points, but it is, assuredly, very satisfying.

Frozen is empowering, beautiful, and fun all at the same time. It’s got a great score and a great meaning, and it’s one of Disney’s steps into a new age of princesses. So, if you haven’t seen it yet, go see it now.

Ciao for now,

Mikki