Whisper 2.08

Dear Mom,

I took my college entrance exams, and guess what? I got accepted! Guess what else? I qualified for full scholarship in three subjects: phys ed, communications, and fine arts. Guess what else? I earned 18 Advanced Placement credits in each! I’m so excited! I’m going to college.

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I was still trying to decide what major to pick when I asked Riley how she did.

“I didn’t take the exam,” Riley said.

“Well, you’d better hurry. We’re leaving soon.”

“I’m not going to take it,” she said. “I’m not going.”

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“Not going? You have to go!” I said. “That was the plan! That’s the dream!”

“It’s your dream,” Riley said. “It always has been. I’ve never wanted to go to college. I want to stay home.”

“But Riley!”

“It’s true,” she said. “Remember when I was voted ‘Most likely to never leave home?’ That might seem like a joke to some, but to me, that’s my dream.”

“But Riley!”

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“Not everyone wants what you want,” she told me. “You go, because it would give you joy. But what’s more important? Just doing something because it’s expected, or because it’s someone else’s dream? Or doing what you want, even if it lets down someone else’s expectations, because it’s your dream?”

“Is this because of Argus?” I asked her.

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“No,” she replied. “I talked with Argus about it. He was all ready to support me in going away to university. But I’d already made up my mind, even before Argus and I went out. I just didn’t know how to tell you.”

“I wish you were so afraid of me that you’d go anyway!” I said. “Just because it was what I wanted. I imagined you, after all.”

“Marigold!”

“I’m sorry. It’s just. I was so looking forward to rooming with you in the dorm, and going to parties with you, and studying all night! Now! Oh! It’s like my dream’s been torn in two.”

“I’m sorry. I hate disappointing you. But a dorm? With strangers? Who don’t wash their dishes and leave dirty towels laying around and forget to bathe? And parties? I hate parties! And studying all night? I’d hate to have to study. I hate all those things.”

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Oh, Mom. It was so hard to listen to Riley. I felt so sure that college was the best thing for her. Half of me still feels that way. But I had to listen when she told me what she loves: taking care of our home, caring for Zoey and Roxy, being here for Patches and Bo. And, yes, she admitted that she was looking forward to spending more time with Argus.

“Women worked hard and fought for equal rights so we’d have a choice,” she told me, “not so that we’d all have to march to the same drummer. I’ve looked in my heart, Mari. This is what I want.”

She’s right. Even I can see that. It breaks my heart to leave alone, Mom, but I guess I’ve got to do it.

On my departure day, the shuttle arrived in the early morning to take me to the airport. Riley had gotten up with me so we could have breakfast together.

“Write me, ” she said.

“Of course!” I replied.

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The kids were still asleep, and I was hoping to have lucked out and avoided having to say goodbye to them. I worried it would break my heart.

When I got into the shuttle, I looked back at the house. There was Patches, coming out to wave goodbye.

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And then Bo came racing out, waving his arms and making crazy faces! I was laughing so hard I couldn’t cry! Oh, Mom! I am going to miss this nutty family.

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Good thing I got advanced placement–it means I’ll only be away from home for two terms.

And when I come back, I’ll have a degree!

Oh! I forgot to tell you what program I chose! I’m going for fine arts. I figured that phys ed came naturally, and communications fits with my career–so both of those, I’ll be working on anyway. So I decided to challenge myself and major in fine arts. Just like you did! I want to be well-rounded. That’s why I chose what would be most difficult.

Oh, Mom! I’m going to your alma mater, and I’m majoring in your degree! Maybe I’ll even live in your dorm!

I’m going to miss you so much, too. I wonder if I’ll feel your spirit there on campus…

Love,

Marigold

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Aimless: The 2nd Blogaversary

Today is my second blogaversary! It’s also my seventh anniversary at the EA Sims Forums. I hadn’t planned on taking any special note of these occasions this year, but when I received notification from WordPress and the Forums, I felt gratitude. Here’s an opportunity to reflect and share thanks.

Then, when I logged in to write this post, I discovered that my Sims had something planned for me, a 2nd Blogaversary Q & A! So here are their questions and my answers. Thanks for reading, and thanks for being a part of the SimLit community! And congratulations to all the SimLit bloggers who celebrate September blogaversaries!

Q & A with the Sims from this Anthology

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Sugar Maple: So, CT, another year of blogging! When you look back on this past year, what gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment?

CT: Without doubt, Sugar, it’s the completion of Goofy Love. I guess that everyone who’s finished a ten gen Pinstar legacy feels that way. And I feel so grateful for all the reader involvement. Remember that great party we had in January? That was so fun!

Sugar Maple: It sure was! That’s when Ren came over to our hard drive!


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Honey Walker: What’s one reading experience this past year that’s either been really enjoyable or really inspiring?

CT: Oh, goodness. Too many to name! Can I skip this question? I find it incredibly inspiring to read stories as they finish: CitizenErased’s Dust to DustDust to Dust, Jes2G’s Pruetts, ra3rei’s Pigglewiggles, aroseinbloom’s Skinners–all of those were finished this past year. I’m also really inspired by the stories by members of the reading circles I belong to.


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Elder: Miss me?

CT: Wow. More than I realized.


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Cypress: Suppose you could give a Sim advice on how to live this digital life to the full potential. What advice would you give?

CT: I suppose I would say to embrace your traits. Don’t try to change yourself–and certainly don’t let your traits define you–but accept who you are and realize that these traits are what will let you move through your world in all its complexity. And if you could give me and other people advice on how to live our lives to full potential, what advice would you give?

Cypress: Same!


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Jaclyn: Are you ever going to bring us back?

CT: Yes! You’re on hiatus, not done for good!  I’m not really sure where I’m going with your story, but then I never have been. You’ll help out, won’t you?

Jaclyn: Sure! Leave it to us! We’ll surprise you.

CT: You always do!


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Kimber: Mwahahahaha!

CT: Is there a question in there?


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Marigold: Now that you’ve re-experienced the glory of TS3, with imaginary friends, supernaturals, PETS! Yes! Doggies! and open worlds, do you think you’ll ever go back to TS4 again?

CT: I am having such a blast playing TS3, and you’re an amazing Sim, Marigold. I’m also really captivated by your story, too. It’s got my imagination! But yeah, I do think I’ll be heading back to TS4–not abandoning you, of course, but not abandoning my TS4 Sims and stories, either.


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onezero: How do you achieve… balance?

CT: Balance is a verb, right, onez? So, sometimes it can mean moving from one extreme to another, and sometimes it can mean finding a place of relative stillness in the center. I have a feeling I’ve been moving from extremes during my first two years of blogging. Now I’m ready to settle more in the center. So, for me, that means not to get lost within the world of blogging and within my Sim games. This year, my job requires focus, attention, collaboration, and creativity to a greater degree than usual–so I won’t have the luxury of spending my days doing detail-oriented tasks while daydreaming about Sims and Sim stories. But I find that I love that! It means that I will come to you and your stories fresh, onez, and then I’ll move back, fresh, into my world on this side of the screen.


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A year: we look back, and so much has happened!

Thanks to all of you who have kept writing and started writing this past year. You give so much to readers so generously, and, as an avid reader, I thank you!

Thanks to everyone who’s read one post or all 691 posts on this blog. I appreciate being able to share words, ideas, and stories with you!

I stand at the end of year two, looking out at year three. Is the sun setting or is it rising? Neither. It’s the earth turning. We move into a new season, shifting to the shifts in light. Nothing we’ve done is ever really done. No one we’ve met is ever really gone. Let the earth keep turning and mark the days; each one carries something of yesterday.

Wonder 15

“I think our Chazzie’s gifted,” Beryl said the other day.

We looked over to where he sat working on his homework.

“Charlie?” I asked. “He’s average, right? Middle of the Bell curve.”

“I don’t think so, Mae. He’s off the curve. In the very best way.”

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“Whatcha working on, Charlie?” I asked him.

“It’s some kinda formula-thinger,” he said. “Like when you mix stuff, what do you get.”

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And he dove right back into his work.

“He’s not,” I whispered to Beryl. “He just works hard. He knows how to apply himself.”

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He closed his book when I joined him with my cup of tea.

“All done, sweetie?”

“I’m done with the first part. Now I get to do the extra part.”

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“You want help?” I asked.

“Naw,” he said. “I like to do it myself. But can you hang out with me while I do it, and then after can I practice a joke on you?”

“Sure!” I said. “I’d love a joke!”

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When Charlie finished his work, he said, “Ok. Joke time. So this goalie walks into a library. He goes up to the librarian and says ‘May I have a cheese burger and fries, please?’ The librarian scratches his head and says, ‘Sir, you are in a library.’ The goalie covers his mouth. ‘Oh, sorry. May I have a cheese burger and fries, please?’ whispers the goalie.”

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While I was still chuckling, Charlie ran over to the old chemistry set that Mr. Fennis, the store owner, dropped off.

I watched him work. He maintained intense focus and concentration.

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He pulled out a notebook and wrote down notes.

“What are you writing, Charlie?” I asked.

“The formula-thinger,” he said. “In case I want to make this tomorrow. Think it’ll explode?”

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It didn’t explode, but it was combustible.

“What did you put in there?”

“Iron!” Charlie shouted.

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I had to admit it was really cool.

“Be careful, spud,” I said.

“Yeah, we’re doing aqueous solutions next,” Charlie said. “Nothing combustible about those. You like blue? This is copper.”

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“Where’d you learn that stuff?” I asked Charlie. “At school?”

“Sort of,” he replied. “I went to the library. First I asked for a cheeseburger,” he cracked up. “Then I said for reals, ‘Can I get a book about color stuff and chemistry?'”

It was hard for me to believe that this is the same little guy who insists on watching the Freezer Bunny Jump Show with breakfast every morning before school.

How much more is going on inside his mind that I haven’t a clue of?

It hit me then–how much of life happens outside of us. Here is my little boy, not so little anymore, growing up with his own interests, his own discoveries, his own adventures. They’re happening outside of me. There will be so much to him that I never know.

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Before bed, Paolo called. “Can o menino come to visit before the bed?”

It was nearly nine.

“I will send him back before the half of the hour,” Paolo said. “He said he had the something to tell to me.”

“You could come here,” I said.

“No,” he replied. “I am making the supper for Jade and Eva. I have the caldo verde on the stove now.”

Charlie was eager to run over to his dad’s.

“Do you want me to come?” I asked.

“No!” said Charlie. “I mean, yeah, if you want to, but for me, no.”

I watched him run across the courtyard until he disappeared down the hill. I imagined him sharing news with his dad. Maybe he was telling him the goalie joke. Or maybe he was describing the color of iron sparks and copper solutions. Or maybe he had his own secrets that a boy wants to tell his father.

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While he was gone I felt a pang. Oh, I understand my mother so much more now! When I was growing up, I always wondered why she felt she had a right to my thoughts and feelings. They were mine. What obligation was there to share them with her?  Sometimes I would share, and when I did, she lapped up every word greedily. Her eagerness made me less inclined to share the next time. I needed something of my own.

I decided that I wouldn’t ask Charlie what he had wanted to share with his father.

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When Charlie came home, he pulled out his violin.

“Can I play before bed?” he asked.

“Of course,” I said.

I sat outside and listened. He played a Mozart violin concerto, and he played it with ease. I knew he’d been studying with someone at school, and he’s been practicing hours every day.

It was as if I were hearing him for the first time. Charlie is no longer my baby: he is an individual, with a curious mind and a full range of talents, ideas, and explorations.

And maybe Beryl is right about him.

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Wonder 8

Mae

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I can spend all day watching Charlie. When I was a kid, I remember my mom sitting near where Berry and I were playing, doing nothing but looking our way with a smile on her face. I caught myself doing that the other day, and I understood. My mom didn’t spend the years of my childhood doing nothing: she spent those years being a mom.

“What are you drawing?” I asked Charlie the other evening.

“Those pointy things,” he said.

“You mean roofs?”

“No, like roofs but more… more anywhere. Like the blue line comes down like this, and the other blue line down like that, and it makes that pointy thing.”

“A triangle?”

“Right! This whole drawing is all about those. Triangles.”

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The program wants us to have Charlie tested to establish a baseline against which they can measure future physical, social, creative, and mental development. The administrators say it’s a requirement for all participants to undergo evaluation at regular intervals. So far, my requests for special dispensation have been accepted. I just don’t want Charlie to be tested.

Berry and I are letting him develop in his own way. We know that he probably won’t develop intellectually, creatively, physically, and emotionally in the exactly the same way that we did: he’s his own person, with his own personality, his own style, his own approach, and rather than comparing him to us, we want to enjoy and support his own unique blueprint for success.

I’m not sure he’s all that smart, truth be told, but he is curious, friendly, and enthusiastic–and that goes a long ways.

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Chess doesn’t interest him that much as a mental pursuit, but as an activity that lets him meet interesting people, he’ll give it a try.

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What has captured his interest is an arithmetic game I downloaded for him.

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He’s been playing it with only breaks for meal-times since I downloaded it.

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I overheard Berry and him talking about game and mathematical problem-solving strategies.

“Tia Berry,” he said, “how can I get quicker? By the time I figure it out, the bar has dropped and the red lights eat the numbers.”

“Feel the numbers,” Berry said. “Close your eyes, and feel them. Is it plus? Then feel it more. Is it minus? Feel it less.”

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“Help! It doesn’t make any sense!” he said. “How’m I supposed to know what five times seven feels like?”

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I had to laugh.

“You’ll find your own way of solving problems,” I told him when I kissed him good night before heading to bed. I could hear him talking to the computer screen while I fell asleep.

“Seven fives! Seven fives! That’s thirty-five! That’s the same as five sevens, you dunder-nose Freezer Bunny red-flashy light! Take that!”

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