Tag Archive | teenager

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.

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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

Don’t cry for me, high school

graduationThere are two days left until graduation. Two days of the same classes that we’ve been subject to all year, with the same teachers who have drowned on about Kant and Keynes for hours that have seemed like days. This week is different though, tinged with a sort of pre-nostalgia. When we put on those hats that make it look like one has a table on one’s head and the robes one gets at the hairdresser’s, we’ll be closing the door on one stage of our lives and saying hello to college all-nighters and disgusting frat parties.

Now before y’all get teary-eyed on me (yes, I’m flattering my writing, deal with it), you should know that French graduation, at least at my school, is a complete sham. It’s so early in the year only so that the International Baccalaureat kids (who are now on summer break, bastards) can go on vacation. Which means that while they waltz off to their expensive tropical destinations and sip those diabetes-inducing cocktails with little pink umbrellas in them, us normal students get to go back to class so that the teachers who have only taught a quarter of what they’re supposed to on the year can jam 3/4 of the program into a week and then have the nerve to tell us that we’re “not going to fail final exams”.

Every kid I’ve ever wanted to punch here, every adult who made me wish arrest for money laundering on them, every failed test that I quietly and unceremoniously set fire to (after having examined and learned from my mistakes of course, geez mom) is soon gonna eat my dust as I jet off to the land of capitalism and bacon.

Still, I’m getting graduation goggles. Why? Because for every five assholes at this school, there’s been someone to squeeze your hand and say “just keep swimming” when you’re staring at that despairingly low grade and wondering if it’s time to just give up and flush your dreams down the toilet already. Because for every five teachers who made you come in at 8am on a Saturday to take a four hour test, there’s that one who squealed and hugged you ’til you needed CPR (preferably administered by a hot shirtless dude, obviously) when they learned that you got accepted to your first-choice university.
The way your face lights up when you spot a friend in the hallway that you feel like you haven’t seen in weeks even though you saw her yesterday, the contests to see who can eat their slice of pizza the fastest, the lazy afternoons after class spent lying on the grass staring up at the Eiffel Tower eating way too much ice cream… These are the things I am going to so desperately miss. Because as cheesy as it sounds, they are the reasons that I painfully convinced myself to not smash the 7am alarm clock all these years.

Ladies and gentledudes, Classes of 2015 around the world, we did it. Props to our brains for not going through with the idea that they would much rather be potatoes.

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