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Drive me sh*tless

driving“Please go wait in the car with the 700 license plate”. The words ring in my ears as I stand in front of one of the driving school’s bright blue Renault Clios, wondering what my instructor (let’s call her Ma’am) means by “in”. In the driver’s seat? The passenger’s seat? The trunk, that safe refuge where no one would find me? Surely she can’t mean the driver’s seat, we’re in the middle of town and I have no idea how to drive. Uncertainly, I hover around the passenger’s door until Ma’am rounds the corner of the building, grins sadistically at me and tells me that I’m on the wrong side of the car. Alright, I reason with myself, she may just want to show you how things work, she’ll be the one driving you to a parking lot where you can take you first few tentative tries in first gear.

“Take a right out of the driving school’s parking lot and then go around the traffic circle to the third exit.” WOAH WOAH WOAH LADY I don’t even know how to shift, and you’re throwing me into oncoming traffic? Do you have any idea how at risk your life is right now? Heart thumping, I breathe in sharply, say a prayer to the Great Cookie in the Sky and rev the car into first gear. Once I make it to first gear on the crowded street without stalling, I offer Ma’am a proud smile, but she’s having none of it. “Second gear.” My face twists with anguish as I try to remember the steps I learned on the driving simulator, which was more like Grand Theft Auto than anything you’d ever experience in real life. Now fully engaged in the traffic circle, the car groans, sputters and jolts when I shift, prompting a frown from Ma’am. Some douche in a Mercedes flips me off, whom Ma’am replies to with a slew of choice curse words yelled out the window.

The rest of the lesson continues in this fashion — me trying something, Ma’am lecturing me on the awful thing I just did and patting her car to make sure that it doesn’t have PTSD from the maneuver I just attempted. Frankly, after nearly taking out a horse-drawn carriage, a bike and a group of children, I’m the one who needs checking for PTSD. As I pull back into the driving school after two hours of trial and error, Ma’am finally relaxes. Her hands have left a damp mark on the seat that she was clutching, but she assures me that I did fine for my first day. She’s not particularly convincing, but I nod and offer her a quarter-smile, hoping my face doesn’t betray the immense fear I’m feeling.

Back in the safety of the passenger seat of my own car, I recount how I’m a natural at driving to my dad, who nods proudly and tells me he knew I would be. I don’t have the strength to tell him about the moment I was going 90 km/h and veered into the other lane, Ma’am only saving my life by grabbing the steering wheel and yanking the car away from the oncoming truck. I’ll disclose that particular incident later, preferably when he’s had a few drinks.

Ladies, gentlemen and aliens, I’m learning to drive. If I don’t ever post to TMCT again, you can all guess how I bit the dust.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager.

Summer Lovin’

Earbuds firmly stuck in her ears, my mom dances around the lawn, backlit against the sinking sun. Her weights are in her hands, swinging dangerously near to her head everytime she raises her arms. She’s supposedly working out, and as she launches into the chorus of Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, I can practically see her happiness gauge filling up. Cooper, the always hungry 10-year-old pup, pads around behind her, hoping he’ll get some kind of reward for his loyalty, not realizing that she has no idea he’s even there.

She’s oblivious to anything but her music, he’s oblivious to anything but his stomach. Together they make the perfect pair, spinning around until their shadows blur in the oncoming nighttime. Smiling, I shut my window on the enchanted scene, closing yet another perfect summer day.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager.

 

Being French

reasons-to-like-france-graphElo, me naam eez CT, ande 2 monts agoe I beecame French. Well 50% French in the eyes of the law and sub-French in the eyes of every 100% French person, but that sort of ruins the announcement, don’t you think?

Finally, 17 years after being born on French soil to American parents, I was awarded a brilliant piece of paper stating that I now had french citizenship. The whole ceremony took place in a dingy office on the 2nd floor of a dusty creaking building that specializes in transforming peoples’ lives, and was officiated by a weary looking middle-aged woman who looked like she could really use a trip to, well, anywhere. After verifying that I wasn’t a llama posing as a human just to benefit from french health care, she offered me a three page list of first names and asked me to pick one. Despite my longtime fantasy of being named Gertrude Cunégonde, I decided to stick to CT after my father shot me a threatening look, which he only barely pulled off, since I could tell he was about to lose a hard fought battle to hysterical laughter. The lady glared at us, pursed her lips when I told her I was keeping my American citizenship, shook our hands and wished us good day, wrapping up the event in the pomp with which it had been conducted (yes young pineapples, that is sarcasm). And voilà, French I am.

As a French person, I have learned several things essential to surviving in the society of baguettes and berets, which I thought I should share with you here, as I am a kind and generous soul:

#1: Never, ever let on that you are any part American
Apart from the rare Frenchman who appreciates his neighbors from across the pond for having supplied his people with Star Wars and liberation from the Nazis, the French hold Americans to the very lowest of standards. We see the United States as perverting our culture of fine cuisine with such abominations as pre-made frosting (I mean seriously, who can’t make the effort of beating up half a ton of butter and confectioner sugar themselves) and yellow cheese (oh the woe of a people not able to enjoy a cheese made from real bacteria and mold). Not to mention the endless stream of loud and obnoxious tourists who get drunk everyday and end up keeping the whole neighborhood awake at 4am with a slurred version of the Star Spangled Banner that sounds more like a tyrannosaurus rex wailing because its arms aren’t long enough to reach the steak that’s on the top shelf of the refridgerator than any kind of musical ditty. So when in doubt, if the conversation at a wine-tasting soirée turns to the land of guns and bacon, just whole-heartedly agree that every American should be tossed into the Seine River immediately upon arrival, for fear of ending up there yourself.

#2: Act superior
If they hold Americans to the very lowest of standards, the French hold themselves to the very highest. As an ancient civilization with a proud history of invading and being invaded, it is necessary to maintain dominance on the rest of the word, a task which falls to every commoner as his or her civil duty. The code of conduct is as follows. When walking down the street, stride briskly and keep your face completely neutral. When spoken to assume a slightly annoyed look and adjust your voice so as to have a condescending echo (nothing obvious enough to allow for a formal rebuke of course). Finally, be sure to always having something French on you, such as a baguette or a book by a great French novelist (to be handheld in plain view). This will inspire awe from foreigners, who will return home and spread the stereotypes that allow for an international French reverence, and notify other Frenchman that you entertain the same noble quest as they, and thus deserve to be treated with respect.

#3: Be patriotic
This goes hand in hand with reason number 2, but is absolutely primordial: you must be willing to fight for your country, lie for your country, sow, reap and die for your country (I think I should change my career path to motivational poet. Thoughts? Actually, it’s probably better if you don’t say anything at all, I see you sneering from a million miles away). If you are caught doing something dishonorable, say you’re from England, those bastards have tried invading us enough times to deserve a little retribution. Of course if you’re being filmed by a television crew for having saved 15 people from a burning building, no matter if you look like raccoon whose wife is dragging him to marriage counseling sessions that cost way too much for the meager salary you make as a trashcan spotter, make sure to yell that you’re French. It’s very important to the social well-being of the country that we be recognized as underdog heroes. Keeps us modest and bashful.

Now I realize that I’ve been rather unkind to the French in this post, and before any of my fellow compatriots descend upon me in a flurry of rage and cigarette smoke, I’d like to share the words I wrote in my letter to the mayor: “J’espère amener honneur à vous et aux institutions de ce pays dont je suis si fière d’être devenue la citoyenne”, which translates roughly to “I promise to try and not disgrace myself any more than I already have… but dawg I’m French now, and there ain’t nobody who can touch me” (very roughly).

Liberté, égalité, fraternité to all my French homies out there. I’m going to stop writing now, before I get any more ghetto.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager.

To Hair With It

{if you ignore the title everything will be peachy and I won’t have to kill you}

I glance in the mirror, shudder at my disheveled appearance and pick up my phone. The screen lights up and glares at me dauntingly, flashing the numbers 8:12 and the words “Run CT, run” over and over again. Cursing, I pick up my hairbrush and try to pass it through the mess of knotty curls that amasses on my head when I forget about the existence of a blow dryer. The hairbrush gets stuck and makes a dull cracking noise when I pull it out of my hair. 8:13. Well, I guess that today I’ll just look like a lion that hasn’t gone to the hairdresser’s in a billion years. My parents should be so proud.
On the upside, I’m not late for school; although as I slip into my seat at 8:29 my friend looks at me sympathetically and pulls a brush out of her bag as a silent offering, while across the classroom, another friend looks at me, touches her hair and frowns. And so my day begins.

In case you hadn’t noticed (you wonderfully perspicacious human being) from the hairy tale above (get it? I made a pun! Shakespeare would be so proud), my hair is a sore point for me. I inherited my mom’s light golden color and my dad’s crazy Einstein wave, because of course having straight blonde gorgeously perfect hair like my mother’s that allows for the perfect bitch-hairflip wouldn’t have been fair to other girls anywhere on this colorful planet we earthlings call home. In this spirit my hair alternates between straight with a stringy wave and slightly poodlelike, depending on the days. I get a lot of questions asking what I’ve done to my hair on any particular day, most of which can be answered by a simple “I brushed it” or “I didn’t brush it”. A notable example came in June of last year when I was studying in the library. A dude from my class came in, stared at my head and said “did you go to the hairdresser’s? Your hair looks so… orderly.” No genius, that’s the power of a hairbrush. I’m not offended, really I’m not.

Although my blonde tends to look like yellow snow in the summer and muddy golden retriever fur in the winter, I have always been proud of the color(s). Why, you ask, would I be proud of having a melanine deficiency which has prompted numerous degrading stereotypes? (oh do please ask, otherwise my ensuing reasons are completely without a point) Well for one, it’s true, blondes have more fun, since we have a certain liberty to do what we want, no matter how silly, because when in doubt people will always use the blondeness as an excuse to justify a choice. Secondly, our hair completely changes color when it gets wet: from yellow to brown and back again. How cool is that? Thirdly, when it’s hot out, your dark hair attracts and sucks in heat while ours says “no sweat, I got this” and repels the rays. Finally, let dark haired girls be forever jealous: most of us fine-haired blondes don’t have to shave our legs. That’s right ladies, none of that excruciating wax business (well, I imagine that it’s excruciating, truth is I haven’t had to go through it. yet. (don’t want to jinx myself))  for me. Chew on that, suckers. So go ahead, tease me all you’d like… in the long run, I’m the winner.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager.

PS: I wrote this post back in November and completely forgot about it. I know I know, I’m blonde.

Charleston Shooting: Appearance vs Reality in the US

As an American citizen living abroad, I often have an idealized vision of my home country. I’ll defend its honor when people verbally attack it, I’ll stand with my hand over my heart during the national anthem. I love the United States of America, but what I love I now realize is only the tip of the iceberg of a truly messed up place.

When I wake up, 4000 miles away from reality, and I read that 9 innocent people were shot in a historic black church by a white 21-year-old, I feel physically ill.
So many times before, we’ve seen atrocities where children get shot and students lose their lives. And for each one of those occurrences, I feel sick to my stomach, I wonder how it’s possible for a person to be filled with so much hate, how someone could so recklessly take the lives of innocents and forever change the existence of the families of the victims. Each time, I am angry and sad, but filled with hope that finally something might change in the consciousness of the American people, in our hearts and in our government, and that something will be done to stop these senseless killings. Then, I forget. It’s a truth that I hate to admit, but that I must. After a few months, I stop remembering what happened to the children of Sandy Hook and the people of Aurora, as the stories gradually fade out of the media. Discussion changes to the threat of ISIS and of Al Qaeda, to how we can protect ourselves from the foreign terrorism we so fear.

Well guess what. Terrorism doesn’t only come from the outside. The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” When Dylann Roof allegedly told one of the victims “I have to do it… You rape our women and you’re taking over our country, and you have to go”, he had a social objective. When he told a survivor “I need someone to survive”, that survivor was most likely kept alive to tell the tale of that horrible day and reach a wider audience. By killing 9 and provoking fear in millions, Roof was not only committing a hate crime, he was committing an act of terrorism. We need to recognize this, and stop thinking that the only terrorists are people from different faiths and cultures, because by doing that, we’re blinding ourselves.

I studied the fight for African-American civil rights in History class this year. I dissected the demonstrations of white racism and thought about how far we’d come, how reformed the United States was. I thought that the acts of violence executed today were perpetrated by lone madmen, and that the very reason we couldn’t understand and couldn’t explain them was because they were isolated. But sooner or later, I have to face the facts: if the confederate flag has been flying on the grounds of the South Carolina State House since 1962, it isn’t so much a symbol of southern heritage as it is a constant insult to the African-American population of the state. Racism is alive and well in the United States, and Dylann Roof, with his Rhodesian patch, acted because of personal convictions that were nourished by a discriminatory culture.

This morning, I watched the families of the victims make statements to the gunman. Whereas I felt intense anger towards this perverted assassin of a boy, the messages in the courthouse were those of love. The daughter of victim Ethel Lance spoke to Roof, telling him that “you hurt me, you hurt a lot of people, but God forgive you, and I forgive you”. The granddaughter of victim Reverend Simmons stated that “hate won’t win”.  These people have lost loved ones, and yet still they are able to forgive the one that caused the pain.

As I sat, head in hands, watching Roof’s expressionless face on the television screen of the courthouse, my respect for those speaking deepened, and I knew that what those families were saying was true: love will prevail, but not automatically or because it should. Love will prevail because we as a people are realizing that we need to remember, need to talk, need to fight and need to change our country. Let’s not let another horrific shooting slip into the darkness of forgetfulness. When Jon Stewart says that “we’re bringing it on ourselves”, he’s right. But it’s the “we” that’s important. If we can bring acts like this on ourselves, then we can change. So let’s.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager

Parents Dialogue #3: Running

[Discussing my dad’s high school marathon team] Dad: They went running every morning. At like 5 am they would get up and go for a 10K. I tried to go with them once…

Mom bursts out laughing, continues to do so for 5 minutes while we stare at her: I’ve known your high school self as a smoker and a drinker, but never a runner.

Dad: Well now you’re just being insulting. The one time I went with them I ran 4K, but it was so painful that I couldn’t even eat breakfast afterwards.

Mom tears up

CT: Why that’s the distance Mom ran today, and she’s 29 [age has been changed to compliment my mom]

Dad: I ran it a lot faster than Mom does, believe me.

Mom: Oh come now, I run 1K in less than 8 minutes! I don’t believe you could do it in less.

Dad winks at her: Depends who’s chasing me.

 

Ladies and oranges, having been privy to a good deal of my parents’ stories about their lives, I am a firm believer that sometimes the past would do good to remain buried.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours truly,
The Mostly Confused Teenager.

PS: So many things to say, it’s been too long and I have missed TMCT. But first and foremost, RIP Leonard Nimoy.

Mini CT’s Dream Jobs

Copyright: The Sticky Note Addict

Copyright: The Sticky Note Addict

Cookie dough taster.
Television watcher.
Bed tester.
Book reader.
Swimming pool tester.
Pizza taster.
Trampoline jumper.
Stuffed animal trainer.
Pepperoni eater.
Unicorn rider.
Chocolate taster.

These are the jobs that young CT wrote in her diary about. Agreed, she was wacky, but she was also a dreamer.
And as she wrote in her loopy childish handwriting, all of these must be exercized in a purely “preffeshenol” manner.

And you know what? Someday, older CT is gonna accomplish every one of these dreams. Yes, even the unicorn one, doubters.

Live long and prosper \V/
Sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager.

 

The Kardashian App: Kill Me Now

WARNING: THIS IS A RANT. ENTER WITH CAUTION, AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Have you ever wanted to ask Kim Kardashian for advice on relationships, beauty, health, fashion or style? Why yes Apple Store, it’s all I’ve ever wanted in my life, thanks for asking.
Watch as Kim strikes her signature poses or blows you a kiss — even locate your closest Sephora to find her new perfume! I assume Kimmy’s “signature pose” is lying on an examination table in her plastic surgeon’s office, talking on her phone and making bad choices. Oh please, let her do that on our screens! As for locating the closest Sephora, that probably implies that 1) the application is stalking you, and 2) that your ensuing conversation with the salesclerk at Sephora will go something like this:

You: Hi, so ohmygod, I was playing the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood app, and like Kim told me that you were near me and that you had her perfume, so um since I’m sort of addicted to the Kardashian’s makeup I was like ‘holy sh*t yes’ so I got in my convertible and I drove here like, really fast.
Salesclerk: [shocked silence. Symptoms may include open mouth, wide, unblinking eyes and a vacant stare]
You: No but seriously I like have the twenty dollar nail polish and the fake eyelashes and everything.
Salesclerk: [slowly regaining consciousness] I.. um.. yeah, one of your eyelashes is stuck to your cheek.
You: Oh gosh silly ole’ me, I’m not very good with the glue, I kinda get it all over myself. So the perfume?

I gotta say guys, applications like these are slowly making me lose faith in humanity. I love technology, I really do: I marvel at my phone telling me that it’ll be raining in Normandy for the next year and a half, or that the Mets finally won a game, or that I’m ten minutes from home in normal traffic conditions. Honestly, living in a world without apps on my phone seems mightely boring (although granted, that might just be because I’m an Internet obsessed teenager), but the apps have to at least be useful.

A Kim Kardashian app teaches its users (who I’m guessing are about 99% women and 1% men) that it’s better to live in a fake, superficial world than in the real one. Sure, the real one is filled with unpleasant things such as, to cite a few; the alarming disappearance of cookies, deadlines and/or alarm clocks but these daft everyday annoyances are part of who we are and what we have to deal with. As a player, your celebrity’s problems are horrible boyfriends and bad makeovers. Boo-freakin-hoo. I understand a little light hearted fun; I downloaded the app myself and giggled at its stupidness with a couple of my friends, but looking over the reviews and some articles on the Web, I realized the horrible extent of people’s addiction to this crap. It needs to stop; people need to focus on things that are more important rather than spending hours on end squinting at their phone’s screen and wondering if they have enough imaginary money to buy that leather jacket Kim’s been telling them to or if they need to invest real money to buy fake cash.

I wish I didn’t care. I wish I could be CT, aloof and uncaring, laughing off stuff like this. Yet I do, and apps like these really get to me. In between the Kardashian app and the Yo app, I don’t know in what direction this world is heading. I think I’ll go watch all my favorite characters get killed in Game of Thrones now, and try and forget about the people moaning because their pixel avatar’s hair isn’t growing fast enough.

Live long and prosper \V/
Sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager.

Bibliography: some Polish nutcase
 

Graphic Drawings

cyanideandhappinessdrawing” – Oh look, you drew something!
– Yeah, do you like it?
– It’s wonderful! [more gushing ensues] But… um… What is it?
– What do you think it is?
– I, uh, a representation of death?
– No, it’s a forest.
– Oh of course, I totally see it now! Right, and here’s a person walking through it!
– That’s a tree trunk. Maybe I’ll start over again.
– I’m sorry, I really did try to be enthusiastic.”

I’ve never been the most gifted person with colored pencils, pastels, paint, blood or any of those artistic devices used to create a masterpiece on paper, canvas, cupcakes, corpses or whatever. My family has always been artistic: grandparents, aunts, parents and even siblings have a certain magical talent to create these wonderful drawings that look like they could be in any art museum. They each have their specialty: still life, nature, surreal forms, architecture… And of course I have one too, one that requires great, well, nothing: stick figures.

You see, the drawing gene seems to have skipped me. Sure, when I was little I took great pride in being able to connect the dots to make a snowman appear or color in a certain amount of shapes without going over the lines, but my abilities seemed to stop there. My brother started showing promise early, concocting things like trains and dogs, while I was left drawing teepees (why you ask? Teepees are basically triangles. That much I can deal with.).

At this point you’re probably thinking to yourself “Nah, she can’t possibly be as bad as she’s making herself out to be..” First of all, if you really are thinking that, it means that my mind manipulation techniques are finally working and I can start putting my world domination plan into action. Secondly, shucks guys, you’re so nice! Thirdly, I forgot what I was counting for. I know that they say that practice makes perfect, and while I agree to a certain extent, I have to concede the fact that at a certain point, if it ain’t happening, it ain’t gonna happen. So instead of lamenting the fact that I have the drawing talents of Godzilla, I’ll keep  proudly drawing stick figures living in houses consisting of squares and triangles under a sun that lives permanently in the upper right corner of the page.

Why am I suddenly being so generous and forgiving myself for making a drawing of Mars look like a giant apricot? Because I can paint in a different way: with words. The Mostly Confused Teenager is my canvas, the keys on the keyboard my brushes, the posts my masterpieces (I have a weird notion of masterpiece I know) and you, fellow bloggers, are my critics.

So in conclusion, thank you for making me feel artsy. In return, I promise never to publish a collection of my drawings, for the good of the world.

Live long and prosper \V/

Sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.