Tales from the Library and Beyond

When I first started this blog, I laid down three ground rules for myself:

1. You do not talk about school.
2. You DO NOT talk about school.
3. You don’t destroy classic movies by paraphrasing illusory alter-egos in failed attempts to be humourous.

I set the first two rules because I didn’t want to return from school and then write about school. More importantly, I didn’t want to…wait. I’ve just read the sentence before last and now I’m wondering why ‘school’ is pronounced ‘skool’. I mean, if ‘Schneider’ is pronounced ‘shnai-der’, shouldn’t ‘school’ be pronounced ‘shool’? Hmm.

Anyway, I didn’t want to bore my loyal readers fans with tales about school. Well, yes, school’s fun and all, but why would you want to know what X said about Y? Or why T is angry with P? Or even why all the kids at my school seem to be named after consonants?

But then, I realized that if I chose not to write about the place where I spend half my day, then the only thing left to write about would be my glasses and my mother. Which explains why they’ve been featured so heavily in some of my recent posts.

Thus I’ve decided to break my rules.

To be fair, I broke the third rule within the first three sentences of this post itself. So I thought, ‘Oh, what the heck! Might as well break the other two…’

Total anarchy, that’s how I roll. I may have forgotten to mention this, but I am something of a rebel. For instance, you may have noticed that I’m quite liberal in my usage of the Oxford Comma.

So from now on, some of my posts will focus on some new fodder: school. One could argue that school’s nowhere near as interesting as my mother and my glasses, but I suppose I’ll have to take that risk.

So be prepared to read about tales of merciless bullying – the head-down-the-toilet kind of thing. Horror stories of vicious teenagers like me vandalizing school property and driving teachers to the edge of insanity, and sometimes over it. True stories from that dark, dark world that they call ‘school’.

Don’t set your hopes too high, because I’m kidding.

You’ll be lucky to hear my pathetic nerdy tales about test-taking and particularly difficult homework assignments. The closest I’ve come to bullying is politely asking a friend to move her chair off my foot. I once vandalized a desk by drawing a tiny star on it in pencil and then erasing it quickly before anyone noticed.

My school series begins with a true story, set in my school library.

(Cue cries of amazement and wonder).

‘Oooh.’ ‘Aaah.’

I was walking around the library looking quite gormless (that’s my permanent facial expression), in one of the breaks. Having read most of the picture books, I casually sauntered towards the Senior Fiction shelves.

I did not foresee the consequences of that simple act, but how I wish I did. The ensuing roar travelled across the entire length of the library:
“Who was that child who just walked into the Senior Fiction section?!”

Horrified, I looked around. I was the only one in that section. Was the librarian talking about me? But she said ‘child’! She couldn’t possibly mean me.

Nevertheless, I peered out from behind the shelves cautiously and watched the librarian storming towards me. So she did mean me! I hurried out.

“You aren’t allowed in that section!” She screeched. “It’s for teenagers only!”

Now people constantly underestimate my age because I’m short and well, look young, but I’d never experienced anything quite like this before. I told her that I was a teenager, and therefore old enough. She insisted that I wasn’t. Nothing could convince her. The rest of my classmates sat around and sniggered while I did everything to convince her short of asking her to call and ask my mother about my age (which may actually be a bit counter-productive, to be honest). Two seniors who felt sorry for me tried to come to my rescue. This just made her more convinced that the seniors were in on some malicious plot I had conceived in order to enter the forbidden Senior Fiction section. Finally, when she decided to believe me and let me off with a warning (yeah, I don’t get it either) I was too shaken to actually go back to the Senior Fiction section. So I sat in the kindergarten chairs and read The Big Hungry Caterpillar to calm my fragile nerves.

And this brings me to two things.

The first is the humiliation of being short enough to be mistaken for a ‘child’. More on this on another day (Read technophile9’s post on being short here).

The second is the appalling fact that children are not allowed into the Senior Fiction section. Judging by the librarian’s reaction, one would think that the Senior Fiction section was over-run by skimpily-dressed men and women just waiting to corrupt young, innocent minds with radical books like Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘The (insert the I-word here)’ (Children read this blog, too, you know).

Or maybe the librarians are just worried that us short people will try to pick out a book from the top shelf and then drop it on our heads. No librarian wants to deal with a concussion. Trying to not yell too loudly at the annoying children is difficult enough. Impossible, even.

So there you go. I’m not allowed to read Senior Fiction. I can’t read Junior Fiction (in public, at least). And now, I don’t think I’ll be reading much of anything.

Because after this post, I’ll probably be banned from the school library for life.

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The trauma of packing is emotional baggage.

I went on a trip last week.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking and no, the sentence above has nothing to do with frowned-upon hallucinogens. I really did go on a trip.

I won’t delve into details, but it was fun. Which was unfortunate, because then I couldn’t really complain about anything (although my mother will testify to the fact that I did make a good effort).

So I’ve decided to complain about what comes before a trip – the packing.

I consider bag-packing to be the single biggest First World Problem. I am a perfectionist and an undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive, so for me, packing is synonymous with a nervous breakdown. Even if I need to pack for just a couple of days, I end up on the ground hugging my knees and rocking back and forth in the foetal position while weeping copiously.

The problem is that I don’t really think about packing until the day before I am scheduled to leave. I call this ‘denial’. And when the day finally comes, I am too busy making lists of what to pack to actually pack anything. My mother calls this ‘lunacy’.

Example of my list of things to pack:
Glasses
Spare glasses
Glasses case
Paper towels to clean glasses
Cleaning liquid for glasses
Small pouch to put the glasses equipment in
Clothes

Once I’m done with my extremely comprehensive list, I have to look for each item. Now I think it’s a universally accepted fact that you never find anything that you’re looking for. There is one exception to this rule however – my mother. Suppose I’m looking for my glasses (yes, this is a recurring theme here). I know it’s on my desk and I scan every corner of it for hours and hours, but I can’t find it anywhere. I go outside for a second to call my mother. We come back to the room, and there it is, sitting right in the middle of the desk, a golden beam of light falling squarely on it. I can almost hear the choir of angels singing.

True story.

My mother’s very presence can make objects appear miraculously. Sometimes even the mere mention of my mother’s name does the trick.

Anyway, once I’ve found whatever I need to pack, I’m tasked with the laborious job of putting everything inside the suitcase. As I said before, being an obsessive perfectionist, I cannot rest until and unless every single object fits neatly into its predetermined slot. This…um, let’s say inclination, sometimes has dangerous repercussions. The Great Jeans Crisis of 2012, for instance. I had to fit four pairs of jeans in enough space for three. Let’s just say the crisis ended in a mess of scissors, torn denim and attempted murder.

Now that I think of it, attempted murder features heavily in stories of my packing crises.

Usually to prevent such catastrophes, I make a mind map – a layout of how I plan to arrange my stuff in the suitcase. Shirts in the top right hand corner, jeans in the bottom right hand corner and so on. Sometimes, though, I get a little bit carried away. I once made a large schematic annotated diagram of how to fit every single item required for a seven-day trip in one suitcase. And then, in a fit of misplaced enthusiasm, promptly proceeded to tear it in half. Two-thirds, more like.

So I didn’t go on the trip.

To be fair, my not going on the trip had more to do with me falling ill the next day. But I strongly suspect that my illness was, in fact, a case of nervous breakdown which I owe to the mind map fiasco. Alright, I admit, the doctor said that it was simply a case of the ’flu. I think he’s wrong, because one of his suggestions was that I “drink plenty of fluids”. I don’t trust anyone who says ‘fluids’.

Getting back to the topic at hand: packing. Alright, so I’ve found my stuff and (somehow) stuffed it into the bag. Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that I haven’t suffered a breakdown yet. There’s only one thing left to do now – to lock the suitcase. Now, most suitcases have number locks, and by now, you probably know about my password problem. To put it succinctly: I have the memory of a goldfish in a retirement…well, bowl. In fact, I can’t even remember why I decided to use such an asinine analogy in the first place.

And now I’ve had an epiphany.

You know that John Denver song where he croons, “I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again.”

I know now why he was so unsure about coming back:
He’d have to pack again.