writing conditions

I wrote in the summer of the MH17 plane crash. The summer where the world seemed lost, both numb and sickened to the numbers: 298 dead in Ukraine, bodies and only parts of bodies pulled from the wreckage by separatists, bags burning on the sidewalk; 26 members of a family, including young kids and several pregnant women, dead from an Israeli military strike intending to kill one Hamas member. 

I wrote in the humid summer mornings with a fan turning from side to side, just long enough for my neck to get sticky and then cool. I wrote as my father withered, losing both fat and muscle mass after surgery, and as the stress of college applications and senior year loomed over me like a bad thing waiting to happen. I wrote without freedom. I wrote under duress. I wrote while surrounded by books by Kaplan and Barrons - preparation for the SAT. I wrote with a candle lit to keep away mosquitoes and quell the stench of dog shit that seemed to linger on the walls. 

I wrote while walking. I wrote while listening to Sylvan Esso and Wayne Coyne and also silence, but for the fan's whirring and the screech of the cicadas outside that with closed eyes I might mistake for the tropics.

Sometimes I wrote at night, when the fruit seller would come by, shouting his wares through a megaphone, in a last attempt to empty his open truck of bruising peaches and browning cherries. Often I would overhear angry voices and I would lean in towards the single-panel window, peek through the shutters to listen in wait for the quarrel to intensify and then break just before erupting into fists.

I wrote not dutifully nor faithfully and when my brother awoke at lunchtime or dinnertime or somewhere in between, I would look up guiltily from the show or movie playing on my laptop screen, suddenly disturbed by the hours wasted and the day's approaching end and say regretfully, bitterly, ironically: "Good morning."

the summer of 2014 was not what I expected

I wish I could tell you I had a wild summer, that I discovered my inner brave self-loving slut who shook her hair at anyone who lied to her and partied until dawn with other beautiful people brandishing bubbly drinks at a club with a really good DJ.

But in reality, I have maybe four friends under the age of thirty in Seoul, alcohol makes me red and sleepy, and anyways I like lazy brunches of French toast and blueberry cream cheese better than walking home barefoot and alone at 4 am trying to make it up the hill that leads to my house. I do like dancing though. If I didn't look like a 7th grader, I would definitely go dancing.

Not a lot happened this summer. It was busy - almost the busiest I've ever been - but not a lot happened to me, which is disappointing considering I'm about to be eighteen and a senior in high school. I kind of thought I'd magically become Hannah 2.0 this summer. Instead, I did what I always do. Between dutifully doing my homework and thinking of new projects while still waist-deep in other ones, I read books (I'll tell you the ones that I'm not ashamed of reading, says the Closeted Reader of Romance Fiction), ate a lot of breakfast, crashed my computer and hugged my dog during thunderstorms.

I started my Common App which brought up a bunch of questions -- art or politics? creative writing or international relations? -- about my future that I wasn't sure of the answers to, but I tried to be as sincere as possible. I realized that authenticity is the greatest and hardest thing to ask for but a genuine experience is ultimately all I'm looking for.

Some surprises of the summer include that: I never took a bubble bath. Ideal hours to work on my secret projects are between midnight and 3am (sounds inappropriate oops, it's not). Even small mosquito bites are mood killers. The price difference of a Foreign Policy subscription when using a regular email and an .edu email is significant. Deleting Facebook feels GREAT. Cooking is gratifying and organic food is OK. What the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown trending hashtag is saying is crucial and pretty cogent. It's really easy to forget to feed your dog, but you horrible, irresponsible person will realize it and give her [your dog] a ton of her favorite snacks. Picking out glasses is like picking out a new face. Journalists in Gaza on Twitter are heroic for showing that dead children are not just a headline, but a tragedy with a face and a family too. Traveling by plane seems a lot more dangerous than it did before this summer. Years don't faze memories and people from your past don't always have to stay there.

That's summer, I guess. Never what you plan it or expect it or dream it to be. 

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