Happy Wednesday everyone. It was a happy one for me I’ll tell you that. Alisha (office elf) and I spent the entire day talking about the plot for the second book in the series formerly-known-as-Phoenix-Five and we were dying laughing. I mean duh-iiii-ing! I can’t believe I’m working on the second one and you haven’t even read the first. Catch up will ya! As promised, I am leaking another entry from the series. This is the fifth and final character. After this I must shut off the leaky faucet until the book is released (Sept. 2013). But that doesn’t mean I won’t be prone to occasional drips. I still have to announce the new name of the series, show you the cover art, and post a pic of the final Gracelet. All in the next few weeks– hang tight. It’s easy, see…
But first, say hello to Vanessa Charlot Riley.
The English assignment given by Ms. Silver on September 6, 2011, @ 1:47 PM is as follows: Each student must record his or her innermost thoughts and feelings during freshman year at Noble High. The goal is to have a safe place to connect with ourselves. The challenge will be finding our voices and the courage to embrace them. These journals will not be graded or read. Ms. Silver will inspect them at the end of the year to make sure we filled all 250 pages. That is it. We will also have to write an essay about self-discovery and what we learned. But we are not supposed to focus on that now.
At 1:49 PM I inquired as to whether we would benefit by filling additional journals. To which she responded, “Not in the form of grades.” To which I asked, “Will our GPAs benefit?” To which she replied, “No. Your soul will.” To which I thought, “Forget it, then.”
Thusly, my strategy moving forward is to pen one journal’s worth of “innermost thoughts and feelings” while focusing primarily on reward-based endeavors. I will, however, transcribe all feelings and thoughts associated with said “endeavors” here. Since that’s the whole point of this exercise.
I will commence with a brief character profile.
My name is Vanessa Charlot Riley. I am fourteen. My hair is light brown and as curly as an old-fashioned telephone cord. I have green eyes and caramel-colored skin. My mother hails from Haiti, my father Queens. I’m told I look like a much, much, much younger Vanessa Williams. Better than Venus Williams. Ha.
As columnist Gina Simmons from the Noble Independent put it, “Exotic and striking, even Vanessa’s features overachieve…” And my middle school principal signed my yearbook with, “Beauty and Brains, you are proof that girls can, and should, have both.”
I prefer using quotes to characterize myself for three reasons:
1) Quotes promote opinions to facts.
2) No one likes a gloater.
3) I must be liked.
My favorite hobby is winning. It’s euphoric. The endorphins fill my heart with sunshine and carbonate my blood. Sadly, said “hobby” has an ugly side too. One I oft compare to the ever-stale Bazooka bubble gum; tough work for a moment of sweetness. But, oh, how sweet that moment is. Hence, the reason I’m always chasing that next piece.
Well, it’s kind of the reason.
Veritas ? It goes deeper than sunshine and carbonated blood. I’m just not sure how to explain it, since “it” is more of a feeling than an actual thing.
Actually, it’s fragments of a feeling. Fleeting fragments like scattered dandelion fluff. Fuzzy bits drift by but I’ve never tried to grab them or piece them into thoughts. Maybe because thinking them in full would make them real. And I don’t want them to be real because they have to do with my parents. But you asked for innermost so I’m going to connect the fuzzy bits and tell you what I try not to think about. Ready?
It’s my parents. How much they fight. And why that affects my grades and wardrobe.
This morning began with a screaming match about my older brother A.J. Then it became about Dad and how he’d rather dissect computers than listen to stories about Mom’s evil boss at the hotel. Which transitioned into the things Mom flushes down the toilet. Nothing says “Good luck on your first day of high school” like an argument about clogged pipes.
I’m never involved in these squabbles but I am allergic to conflict so I suffer. Veritas? Fighting sounds make me itchy. I have red marks all over my arms and legs to prove it. You’d think I was jumped by the Real Housewives of New Jersey on Acrylic Day.
Peers assume I’m modest because I wear long sleeves to keep from scratching. Modesty on a girl with features that “overachieve” does make her more likable, so it’s not all bad. But it’s not all good, either. Obvious frump factor aside, running track in sweats leads to heatstroke. In 98 percent humidity it induces hallucinations. But it’s worth it. First place means my parents will stay together another day. And second means they might not. So I cover up and run like a nose in flu season.
You see, every time I get an A, or win something, or am elected, or crowned, or honored, or published, or profiled, we celebrate at Benihana’s. A.J. and I can order anything we want. Wear whatever we want. We’re even allowed to get double desserts. The only thing we can’t do at Beni’s is fight. It’s our family rule. And like chewed Bazooka it sticks.
In summation: Overachieving = Benihana’s = Peace = No divorce.
If you focus on success, you’ll have stress. But if you pursue excellence, success will be guaranteed. ―Deepak Chopra
For more on Vanessa check out her Pinterest boards. http://pinterest.com/lisiharrison/vanessa/
Have a great week!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULIA!!!! I’ve been trilling happy birthday so much that the birds–mistaking me for one of them–have gathered. See?
In honor of your sixteenth thirteenth birthday, I will leak another journal entry from the formerly-named-soon-to-be-renamed-Phoenix-Five. Meet Lily Bader-Huffman.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011.
Here are the headlines: My name is Lily, I turn fifteen next month, and I am eating for three. Wait, I think it’s four if you count me, and ready for this, Mom and Dad are klueless kuz I still look way-skinny thanks to Karess.
Not only is Karess an educated personal trainer slash DJ on Sundays, he is the father of my triplets. Oh, and he’s all into spelling C words with K’s so now I am too.
Back to my skinnyness.
Karess recommended protein bars and energy drinks to keep the baby weight off and ready for this: Five months pregnant and I’ve already lost 11 pounds. Kan you believe?
Once I “show” we’ll Greyhound it to L.A. and open a gym called Kut. It will kost a million dollars to join so we kan get rich in one day. Karess wants to name the kids Karb, Kalorie, and Kardio. Luv it. Luv him. Luv the kreativity.
School is for unpregnant losers. Like what’s the point of this journal assignment if I’m going to open a gym? Also my hand is shaking kuz I’ve had seven energy drinks on an empty stomach. Well, empty of food, not triplets. Point is it’s hard to write.
Klass is over! Next stop, kemistree.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011.
I left my journal on the kitchen table for six whole hours. Mom made two attempts to bust the lock, first at 4:27 PM and again at 7:19 PM, but she couldn’t guess my combo (A.D.’s b-day). Even if she did, and then managed to hide the clues, I’d know. That fake entry about Karess would shock her blind. She’d start circling the living room like a mad cow; slamming into bookcases, knocking over newspaper stacks, tripping on lamp cords. Believe me, I’d know.
Thanks to this sturdy locking mechanism, I can be free. Free to discover the real Lily Bader-Huffman. Not the A+ student, with the hot male best friend, who has been home-schooled for eight years. The one who is forming beneath her. Growing like a shadow. Faceless and distorted; elongating and reaching; determined to make her secret dream come true. Determined to be normal and popular and kissed by—
❤ Lily Bader-Huffman version 2.0
Next week I will leak the final character’s entry and eventually the series title. UGH! Something white just splattered on my shoulder… There’s some serious fly-arrhea going on in this office. I’m going to make like a PC and open my Windows.
Hi everyone and Lauren. Yes, I am giving special love to Lauren because she posted a comment saying my skin always looks good and I’m a sucker for a compliment. So before I leak the next journal entry from the series formerly known as Phoenix Five–nope, still no title–I am going to answer Lauren’s question about my skin care routine.
I must admit I don’t drink enough water and I ADORE being tanned so I’m afraid I have to thank my Bubbie Rose for the skin. Hers was seriously insane. I think growing up on the east coast helped because I could only melatonin-binge in the summer months. One thing I did do was moisturize with vitamin E cream every single day, even as far back as middle school. I never sleep in makeup. And I wash with Cetaphil. Nothing fancy. Pinky swear.
Okay, fine. You want to know the truth? I have a zit on the side of my face that I have been picking like crazy. Said zit will be a crater and eventually a scar if I don’t stop but my GAWD its impossible to stop. Look…
While I’m on the subject of truth, here is the first secret journal entry from my third character in ex-Phoenix Five. Meet Jagger.
Feelings? Get real. I stopped having feelings on February 13, 2011-the day my parents got tossed in jail.
I’ve been emancipated since I was fourteen.
I’m fifteen now.
I live alone.
I take care of myself.
I don’t have time for feelings.
My name is Jagger.
I don’t even have time for a last name.
Happy 2013 my friends!
This is going to be a great year. I can feel it in my eyes, which are so swollen I had to wear sunglasses in the shout out picture below. Since I am starting the year off full of positivity I’ll assume that the random inflamation had been caused by an excess of good luck inside my body. It’s putting pressure on my skin, trying to find a way out so it can start working for me. Same explanation for my expanding belly. More good luck.
Do I have a new title for Phoenix Five yet? Nope. My editor Erin, (whom I ah-dore) is still encouraging (positive term) me to come up with something new. Yes, she saw your suggestions. Yes, she loved them. Just not enough to pick one. But, thanks to the good fortune gathering strength behind my skin, that title is going to ride the tidal wave of luck right out of my brain and into her inbox. Any day now… I swear.
And while we wait for that title-tidal-wave please enjoy another leak peek at an entry from my soon-to-be-named novel due for release Sept. 2013. This is Duffy’s first journal entry. Well, his name is actually Andrew Duffy but everyone calls him Duffy and it works because he’s hot.
Andrew Duffy. Andrew Duffy. Andrew Duffy. Andrew Duffy. Andrew Duffy. Andrew Duffy. Andrew Duffy. Everyone calls me Duffy. Duffy. Duffy. Duffy. Duffyyyyyyyyyyy.
Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um.
Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um.
Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um. Um .
How am I supposed to write 250 pages about feelings in one year? Do we even have 250 feelings?
I’d ask Ms. Silver but she said no questions. Just write. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar or structure. Just write. She said some other stuff about pressure and being a freshman, but I yawned, and when I yawn I go deaf for a second. So I missed that part. Then she gave out these cases with locks so our thoughts stay private. But the logo on my bag is the same as the one on those girly boxes my sisters jam in the trash. Like a half-open flower or something.
Uh, thanks Ms. Silver but I don’t see how carrying a purse full of feelings is gonna help me deal with being a freshman. It might get me killed though.
Some skinny dude by the window is drumming on his journal with a pencil. It’s kinda annoying and kinda bold cuz it’s a major diss to the teacher. She keeps looking up from her laptop but he’s not stopping. I bet he’s gonna be this year’s Class-ick. Last year it was Benji Stryker. He stole Hud’s DS and offered to sell it back to him for double the price. And Hud actually—
Ms. Silver just busted the drummer. He’s wearing this old Rolling Stones concert shirt and she called him Mick. Mostly everyone laughed. I didn’t. It would have been cooler if she called him Charlie Watts, cuz Charlie’s the drummer in the Stones. The guy does have a Mick thing going on though even though the real Mick’s hair is brown and the Class-ick’s is auburn (I know that means reddish-brown because my sister Mandy is always stinking up the bathroom with her hair color kits.) But their cuts are similar. You know, long and choppy. And he’s got that frog face girls would like if he was famous. Anyway, he stopped pencil drumming so that’s good.
I want to look behind me and see what Coops is doing so I will. I will look behind me and see what Coops is doing. One, two, three…
I just saw Coops’ scalp. Either he has lice or dandruff because there were these white specks in his hair. His head is down like he’s taking a test. What is he writing about? Our other buddy Hudson is in a different class. Which is fine, I guess. We’ll all be on the basketball team together. I can’t wait for tryouts. Playing varsity is going to be so cool.
Now what? Now what?
Those What I did Over Summer Vacation essays were cool because I got to write the same thing every year.
My essay was in paragraph form of course. But I decided to do it this way because numbering takes up more space.
Duffy. Duffy has the ball. Duffy is on fire. Duffy is unstoppable. Duffy shoots the winning basket!
Some girl in a yellow dress saw me making those o’s. Then she smiled. She has red lipstick on her tooth. I turned away really fast like I had some big feeling that needed to be written down. And now I’m just writing and writing to look busy. I hope someone tells her about her tooth. It looks like blood but I know it’s not, because my Bubbie Libby gets that all the time.
Bubbie is what Jewish people call their grandmothers. We’re not Jewish. But Bubbie Libby is. She converted when my grandfather died because she thinks Jewish men are good listeners, and she wants to die knowing what it feels like to have a real conversation. So she lives with us and waits for the Chosen One. Whatever that’s about.
Maybe I’ll email Amelia tonight. She got a scholarship to an all girls college in New York. She’s into poetry and women’s rights and talking about girl things that me and my dad do NOT want to hear about. She’s smart with journals and has tons of them locked in a safe. Like anyone would ever want to read this stuff.