Dora McCafferty

Chapter 0. An Introduction

If you're reading this, chances are you're either grading, revising, or me of the future. Either way, welcome, I suppose. If you see just plain text, it's going to be mostly original text from my first draft. Italics represent my reaction and commentary; some of these chapters, no matter how cringe-worthy, deserve to be preserved. So, enjoy reading, if you can.

Chapter 1. Hola, Soy Dora

A rose by any other name is just as sweet, right? Although names don’t necessarily define the person you were, are, or will be, names are important. They’re the representation of what your parents wanted to continue on as their legacy, the words you’ll spend at least eighteen years of your life introducing yourself as. They allow perfect strangers to judge you. All else considered, what better way to start your judgement of my life than a chapter dedicated to the story behind my name?

My name is Dorothy Ann(e) McCafferty, although everyone calls me Dora, save a select few. Dorothy comes from my great aunt, and Ann(e) from my grandmother. Assuming you can understand that McCafferty would come from my father, I’ll move onto the meaning. Dorothy and Dora both mean “gift of God” (a rather fitting meaning, if I do say so myself), and Ann(e) translates to graceful (albit less fitting).

Would I change my name? After 15 years, I can confidently say that I love my name the way it is (almost). In the second grade, however, any mention of the name Dora earned you an attempted slam in the face with a tether ball. By sixth grade, I had learned to accept being called Dora, and in eighth I embraced the name by donning a full-on costume. Unfortunately, this was the year that they cancelled the costume contest, but such is life. My middle name, however, is a completely different story.

“How was your day, kids?” Mom asks, as any caring parent does.

"Good." I answer, as any indifferent middle schooler would. The table remained quiet for a while, before I continued, "We had PSSA testing today, so I don't have any homework tonight."

I like to call this technique, “Mom’s Psilent Psychology”, in which parents and interrogators alike allow awkward silences to encourage their suspect to spill more information than the suspect wishes to share.

Casual dinner conversation continues, until I remember something I had noticed earlier, "Hey Dad, did you know that they spelled my middle name wrong on every school form I've gotten? I think you put it in the district wrong. They spell it A-N-N, instead of A-N-N-E.”

"No, that's right. Your middle name came from Mom-Mom, Ann Marie Hopely."

"Didn’t your mom spelled it with an E?" Mom comments, standing up and reaching for an old wedding album. I crane my neck to read the page: Anne Marie Hopely and John Bernerd McCafferty. Dad scratches his beard. He leans back, not entirely sure what to say.

"So,” I sit back, dumbfounded. “You mean to tell me that, for the past thirteen years of my life, my name has been spelled wrong on my own birth certificate. Real smooth, Dad. Next, you'll be telling me that Great Aunt Dorothy spelled her name with an I. Or McCafferty has three C's and one F."

This is the pinnacle of my sixth grade existance, dear readers. Now, isn’t that sad?

"We can change it back later if you remind me," Mom replies to my unspoken question. I poke at my food, not entirely satisfied with the answer.

"Did I mention that I think I'm going to dress as Dora the Explorer for Halloween?"

I didn't follow through until the eighth grade; I wholeheartedly plan on continuing the tradition, even with that imposter show airing instead. Funny story, though: It’s been four years, and we still haven’t changed it. Great ending, hm? No? Well, let’s hope you enjoy the next chapter more than this one.

Chapter 2. Oct. 19, 1999

Chapter 2, aka all about the day I was born. Rather uninteresting, if I do say so myself, but here goes:

Chapter 3. Junk Trunk

I wrote this chapter way back in the October of ‘14, and, reading it over, it isn’t half bad. Reader, aren’t you in for a treat? Not only do you get to enjoy the musty, old style of writing I had months ago (about seven months to the day), but you can experience first-hand what happens when I’m too lazy to rewrite my work.

Many families keep hidden treasures from their past in the attic, tucked away from sight and doing nothing but gathering dust. My family isn't that kind of family; the only things in our attic are last season's clothes and holiday decorations. Instead, we keep all of our mementos for all to see. One could be in the living room looking at my grandmother's bar cart and just around the corner find my great uncles in their urns*. My mom has always loved gathering old knick knacks, so it's appropriate that some of them came from our family.

One of the most noticeable collections of antiques is the large wooden cabinet in our living room. It's been in our house for longer than I can remember (which is usually only a few hours, but I'm sure it's been there for years), and it steadily fills with my mom's smaller and more fragile items. Most of the things inside are just perfume bottles and gifts that we buy for mom, but there are a few mementos of our own family.

On the bottom shelf there's a small collection of dolls from Vietnam that my mom and dad bought when they adopted my brother (and later myself). There's also a collection of crudely-made crafts made by us kids (although she still can't determine who made what). Another shelf up displays a variety of things, from my dad's old prayer book to a Hop-on-Pop figurine we got him for Father's Day.

The top shelf is cluttered with various perfume bottles, as is the second from the top. However, on the latter there are a few black and white photos. One is of my grandmother, the one I was incorrectly named after, on her graduation day. She went to West Catholic High School, as did my father and his siblings. Behind that is a photo of my dad's grandmother and her boyfriend at the time in Atlantic City; my dad said, "She's wearing a great swimsuit". Another is of my father's grandparents in Cape May carrying kegs of beer. His grandfather David (far left) is who my brother is named for, and was diagnosed with polio. He worked on the railroad, and coincidentally my brother loves to collect toy trains. In the photo to the far right is my grandfather's mother, who my dad claims thought of him as her favorite. The photo on the left is my grandfather John McCafferty, who my younger brother is named for. In the picture he's holding my uncle, who is also named Jack. To the left of that is a photo of my great grand-mom holding my grandmother, and behind that is a photo of her mother, who my father said was, "a 'handsome' woman".

Most families have a junk trunk full of dusty old things, never to see the light of day until a descendant has a language arts essay due. My family? We have a museum of momentos. Come on in, sit down, enjoy the view. Just make sure we invited you, or else I'm calling the cops.

*That's actually a lie; we keep them in a backpack in the basement like a dignified family.

Oh man, that was a sight for sore eyes. This has absolutely nothing to do with “junk trunks”, but I’d like to add my own commentary. The special thing about this chapter isn’t the junk, nor the gross ashes in my basement, but you can catch glimpses of past me and my family, even from just a few months ago.

Now that I think about it, this autobiography is sort of in my “junk trunk”. Going back to read things I wrote earlier almost always throws me back into the time that I was writing it, just as seeing old junk can give you treasured memories. I read what I treasured back then, and I can feel exactly what I felt. I can see myself, sitting in front of the antique cabinet, asking my parents where each perfume bottle came from, or which kid made which crude yet cute craft. I can hear my laughter when my dad started talking about his father and the unnamed woman, who was definitely not my grandmom. I can feel the smile on my face when I was writing in small jokes I thought funny at the time.

The pride I had after I finished this story lingers in its writing. I’m not sure if you readers can feel it, but it means something to me. If I may diverge from the topic of “junk trunk” for a little longer, I’d like to thank my teacher for having me write this. I'd also like to tell whoever reads this (most likely me in a year or two) to try things like this. Write about the present, or just spend time reminiscing on the good times of the past for an hour or two. It does wonders on your mood.

Chapter 4. Alphabet Soup

I remember spending a couple hours trying to find the most out-there words. I mean really, when am I going to

A is for annomination; I'm often punish for my bad jokes.

B is for boondoggle; many of the things that I do are almost pointless but seem fascinating, such as card tricks and reading all of the original Sherlock Holmes stories.

C is for cacography; even I can't read my own handwriting sometimes.

D is for divergent; I like to be different, just like everyone else.

E is for extrovert; while I'm often quiet, if I get to know a person I'm rather sociable.

F is for forthright; I'd like to think I'm an honest person, although I'm often blunt with my opinions.

G is for guile; although people think I'm intelligent, I tend to believe that I'm just clever.

H is for hobbledehoy; I'm as coordinated as a butterfly in a tornado.

I is for impatient; I tend to rush through everything and forget to check over my work.

J is for jittery; when I become anxious I can't seem to stay still.

K is for kleptomaniac; once I stole a calculator from a classmate and forgot about it for three months.

L is for largesse; my mom says I buy gifts for everyone too often, although I love the spirit of giving.

M is for musical; the tuba is very musical, even if it's known for its fart sounds.

N is for nerd; I prefer to be called a geek but I already had a g word.

O is for opinionated; if I feel strongly enough about a topic it's hard to change my mind.

P is for procrastination; I'm finishing this list the night before at 10:30.

Q is for quirky; if you pay close attention to me you'll notice I have a lot of odd habits and quirks.

R is for rash; I find myself leaping far more often than looking.

S is for sarcastic; most of this list is example enough.

T is for tired; I lose sleep over procrastinated work and good books.

U is for unbrashed; one of the reasons I'm so good at public speaking is that I'm not easily embarrassed.

V is for verbiage; I tend to rant about topics for extremely extended period of time.

W is for wit; I blame my father for my quick wit, which has its pros and cons.

X is for xenodochial; I like to consider myself a people person.

Y is for yokel; social studies has never been my strong point.

Z is for zeal; however, I have a strong desire to study sciences.

Chapter 5. Family "Fun" on Thanksgiving

Section 1

In the 15 years I've known my family, I've learned quite a bit about them. My mom, for instance, would do anything to keep us happy. She, like the rest of my family, is rather petite. She also has some sort of mutation that allows her to have a second pair of eyes set up in the back of her head. She has a large creative streak in her, and a lot of the decor in our house is her putting this and that together until it fits. Although she's a bit of a neat freak (which is justifiable because the rest of us are slobs), she's still my mom so I guess I'm stuck with her. Onto my dad, he's also pretty short. He's very sarcastic (which supplies concrete evidence to the nature vs nurture debate), and is a bit more lenient with me than my mom. He's no culinary master, but he usually ends up fixing us all up our meals. My older brother, David, is Vietnamese like I am; he sometimes complains about how he should have been adopted by Angelina Jolie instead. If you ask anyone within 500 feet of our house, you'll know that he's the musician of our family. He plays flute, bassoon, saxophone, clarinet, violin, and dabbles in stealing my tuba from me once in a blue moon. He's almost out of high school; I'm sure we'll miss the music filling our house, but probably not until after we celebrate. My younger brother, John, likes to practice the vocal part of music. He's not a half bad singer, but when you listen to him 24/7 like I do it gets on your nerves. He's the blue-eyed baby of the family; he doesn't look like David or myself, so I think he's adopted. He lives on videogames and hanging out with his friends; when he's home, he and I have a typical sibling rivalry. Overall, my family is an average family in my eyes, but then again, what counts as average?

This Thanksgiving the five of us all crammed into our very minivan and hightailed it early morning to visit my grandmother in the hospital in Maryland. Then we sped back to my Aunt Nancy's house in Drexel Hill just in time for football. While John immediately did the "meet-greet-where's-the-Wii", I stopped in the breakfast room to drop off dessert. I met the family in the living room and greeted them all while snapping a quick photo. The attendance list consisted of my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Fran, their children Terry and Caitlin, my Aunt Mary Anne and Uncle Jim, and their kids Michael, Patrick, and Kevin. Later in the night my Aunt Nancy's third kid, Matt, turned up with his girlfriend Terry, who works as a teacher at Glenwood Elementary. After I gave hugs to them all and was assured they didn't need help in the kitchen, I retreated to the side room with John to charge my phone.

Section 2

Most Thanksgiving nights were spent at my Aunt Patty's house, but due to unforeseen circumstances we changed locations. This unfortunately decreased the attendance, but fortunately increased the amount of food we had. My own plate consisted of a half a plate of light meat turkey, a scoop of corn, two buttered rolls, and three plates of mashed potatoes. Not everyone has my palate, so of course my aunt made more. There was also dark meat turkey, gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, and sweet mashed potatoes. Then there was a temporary football break, where I interviewed my cousin, and then it was dessert. While my aunt, who's had to deal with my picky eating for years, gave me a bag of Cheetos, the rest of the family feasted upon pies of all flavors. The apple and pumpkin were supplied by us, along with some vanilla ice cream topping. Caitlin made pumpkin scone cookies, and Aunt Nancy had coconut custard pie and diabetic pumpkin pie. A special treat was a turkey made entirely of fruit that Aunt Nancy's neighbor made, but with all the pies the turkey only lost a few grape feathers.

Chapter 6. I Like That Ol' Kind of Rock and Roll...

"So... What kind of music do you like?" It's a question that has been asked since before the dawn of time. Everyone has a music preference, right? Unfortunately, I don't. My life has been a series of answers like "Whatever's on the radio", "Classic rock, usually", and more recently "Marching band is my only life"; I know that, for even a second, if someone finds out that I don't have a favorite artist, I'll be swamped with enough albums to last a lifetime.

Don't get me wrong, I love listening to music. If you put on Bohemian Rhapsody, I'll belt out the vocals, guitar, and piano parts from start to finish. But that's as far as it goes. I don't have favorite bands that I love, nor do I own enough songs to fill seven iPhones. If I had to pick a genre, it would be classic rock. Back before I moved to Media, I always hung around at my neighbors' house and played Guitar Hero with them. I prefer not to listen to modern raps or classical music, but besides that I have no real preference. Most of the music on my phone is Disney movie music or old Phineas and Ferb songs.

Most of the artists I like are ones from my childhood. The first one that comes to mind in Bruce Springsteen, my dad's personal favorite. His music is alright, but I like to read the lyrics and play the stories it writes in my head. Jimmy Buffet is another one of my dad's picks, but I like it more for the catchy melodies. If I had to choose favorite songs, Say Something by A Great Big World and Run Rudolph Run by Chuck Berry are somewhere on the list. I Know You Know by The Friendly Indians has to be put on too, just because it's the theme for a favorite show of mine.

My mom always said (and still says) that I'm my father's kid, and I'm not disagreeing. As a kid, I loved to climb into my dad's lap and let him rock me to sleep. He sang me a song that his father sang to his sister, and it wasn't until recently that I realized it was an actual song. Daddy's Little Girl by The Mills Brothers has transcended two generations of McCafferty children, and I plan on continuing the tradition.

After countless minutes of recalling every song I've ever heard, I decided that a good theme song of mine would be Get Back Up by Tobymac. He's not a very common artist, and it's one of his less common songs, although I've never actually bothered to listen to any other songs of his. I stumbled upon it a couple of years back when I was feeling down, and I've kept it in my head ever since.

Get Back Up

You turned away when I looked you in the eye,
And hesitated when I asked if you were alright,
Seems like you're fighting for you life,
But why? oh why?
Wide awake in the middle of your nightmare,
You saw it comin' but it hit you outta no where,
And theres always scars
When you fall back far

We lose our way,
We get back up again
It's never too late to get back up again,
One day you will shine again,
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever,
Lose our way,
We get back up again,
So get up, get up,
You gonna shine again,
Never too late to get back up again,
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever
(May be knocked down but not out forever)

You're rolled out at the dawning of the day
Heart racin' as you made you little get away,
It feels like you've been runnin' all your life
But, why? Oh why?

So you've pulled away from the love that would've been there,
You start believin' that your situation's unfair

But there's always scars,
When you fall back far

We lose our way,
We get back up again
Never too late to get back up again,
One day, you gonna shine again,
You may be knocked down but not out forever,
Lose our way, we get back up again,
So get up, get up
You gonna shine again
It's never too late, to get back up again
You may be knocked down, but not out forever,
May be knocked down, but not out forever!

This is love callin', love callin', out to the broken,
This is love callin'.
This is love callin', love callin', out to the broken
This is love callin'.
This is love callin', love callin',
I am so broken
This is love callin' love callin

Lose our way, (way way way ay ay ay)
We get back up, (get back up again)
It's never too late (late late late ate ate ate)
You may be knocked down but not out forever!

Lose our way,
We get back up again,
So get up get up
You gonna shine again
Never too late to get back up again
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever,

This is love (lose our way) callin' love callin' (get back up again)
To the broken
This is love (never too late) callin'
(may be knocked down but not out forever)
This is love (lose our way) callin' love callin' (we get back up again)
To the broken
This is love (never too late) callin'
(may be knocked down but not out forever)

This is love callin' love callin'
Out to the broken,
This is love callin'....

I love this song because the message is clear: you may be knocked down and lost, but you can always get back up and keep trying. The songs relates to me well because I admit I'm human. I've made mistakes, I've felt broken, I've lied and said I was fine; but I've learned over the years that if life gives me lemons, then I should just learn to eat lemons. There's always going to be moments when I feel like giving up, but if I don't get back up then I won't be able to keep moving forward. "You're rolled out at the dawning of the day; Heart racin' as you made you little get away; It feels like you've been runnin' all your life; But, why? Oh why?; So you've pulled away from the love that would've been there; You start believin' that your situation's unfair; But there's always scars; When you fall back far." Besides the chorus being meaningful, these lyrics are relatable to almost everybody. At one point, everyone's felt like their life is the worst and that no one can understand them, so they run away from people trying to help them and avoid their problems. Big enough problems are going to leave marks that stay with you forever, and you can't avoid them; what you can do is keep getting up and moving forward. This song helps me keep my life motto in check: "Someone is always worse off, so why should I be sad? My life may be unfair, but that doesn't mean that everyone else has a perfect life. If I keep a good attitude and get people to smile, then my day is that much better."

Music is a big part of my life, even if I miss 7/10 questions about it on Trivia Crack. Although I don't fawn over new albums or call everything too mainstream, I love listening to most kinds of music for the lyrics and stories. The best music to me has to be a story or have meaning to it; without purpose in the music, there isn't a purpose for the music.

Tobymac- Get Back Up

Chapter 7. List-ception

List of Lists

  1. People who’ve influenced me

    1. My mom

    2. My dad

    3. My best friend

    4. My past crushes

    5. My senior friends

    6. My past self

    7. Alex Hirsch

  2. Places that make me happy

    1. My bed

    2. The library

    3. My dreams

    4. The beach

    5. The internet

    6. In front of the TV

  3. Places I’d like to go

    1. My bed

    2. The library

    3. My dreams

    4. The beach

    5. The internet

    6. In front of the TV

  4. Things in people I like

    1. A good sense of humor

    2. Tolerate me

    3. Cleverness

    4. On par with my sarcasm

    5. Geekiness

    6. Respect others

  5. Things in people I dislike

    1. Take jokes too seriously

    2. Over-inflated sense of ego

    3. Don’t tolerate me

    4. Stating opinions against mine all the time without evidence to back it up

    5. Constantly making short jokes

    6. Those who start drama

  6. Things that worry me

    1. College

    2. Jobs

    3. Taxes

    4. How much ramen a person can tolerate without getting physically ill

    5. Is my shortness so abnormal that I might be shrinking

    6. Finding “the one”

  7. Things I’d like to know how to do

    1. Grow to an average height

    2. Raise only one eyebrow

    3. Maintain a balance of social life, school work, and exercise

    4. Sing well

    5. Have perfect pitch

    6. Start and finish writing something

  8. Things that have moved me

    1. To Kill a Mockingbird

    2. My family’s determination and perseverance

    3. Night

    4. The fact that one person can hate another based on looks/religion/who they love

    5. The amount of support others give in a bad situation

    6. 1984

  9. Ideas that intrigue me

    1. Cure to diabetes

    2. Pen pal prams

    3. Virtual Reality

    4. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop

    5. Human psychology

    6. The effects of peer pressure

  10. My personal favorites

    1. Gravity Falls (Cartoon)

    2. Ready Player One (Book)

    3. Castle (TV show)

    4. ParaNorman (Movie)

    5. Green (Color)

    6. 1412 (Number)

Chapter 8. A Day in The Life

She jumps out of bed, completely refreshed and ready for the da―

“It’s time to get up, Dora.” Ah, false awakenings, her old enemy. A glance at the clock says it’s 6:05. She rolls off her bed and falls to the floor. How nice her smelly rug feels this morning. Soft, warm, fluffy…


She half-heartedly responds upstairs, pulling herself off the floor. Let’s see, where are her pants... Here’s a pair of jeans, but do they smell alright? Now, which shirt should she put on? Not that it matters much, she always has a sweatshirt over it.

“Dora, your toast is burning!” Wait, what time is it? Oh shoot, 6:30? She hurries upstairs, toothbrush in mouth and hair brush in hair. Burnt toast and a glass of milk later and she’s rushing again to get her backpack together. By 6:43 she’s out the door and waiting for the bus, and she makes it to school by 7:00, just in time for a half hour of waiting in the library.

She spends her time studying for whichever class(es) she has tests in today. First period rolls around and she’s in math class with three minutes to spare. Two minutes. Warning bell. Wait, did she have math homework? Oh good, she did it yesterday in class. And she did today’s. And next week’s. Class starts, and she finishes up the notes for the chapter four ahead of this one. Soon enough she’ll be doing AP Stat.

Second period comes along, and on the way down she discusses how proud she is of her last test scores. “Dora, you realize a 37 is a B right?” Of course she does. Not everyone is a nerd who can get all A’s on the science test. Alright, maybe if she studied on a night besides the night before, but still.

Turns out today is another science lab partner day. Hooray for odd numbers. She finishes the sheet in ten minutes and goes to her normal group.

Oh no.

It's group gossip.

They're talking about shipping.

Just back.





"I totally ship Dora with him! They'd have such cute babies!"

... Five more minutes.

Third period, and she drops her stuff off in social studies before walking back to science and begging to stay. After a no, she shuffles back to her third period desk and rests her head on her hands. Forty minutes. Government system is introduced. Thirty. Opinion. Insert kids who argue with opinion. Class turns into fight about religion? Twenty four. Homework? Joy. Twenty. Somebody asks a question that she just went over. Somebody asks the same question. Fifteen. Teacher isn't getting responses. Time to save the day by actually answering a question. Ten. Somebody answers a question that was super easy and gets a two pointer?! Five. Reminder about geography test weeks away. Wait, what does the teacher mean it's tomorrow?

Fourth period and it's time for an entirely too long and too early lunch period. She finishes her lunch within three minutes and studies for the geography quiz for two. The rest of lunch is spent alternating between friends who sit at different tables.

Fifth period and she -skips this entire section in fear of her grade- sits in her usual spot. Class is perfect. Life is good. She understands how to use proper grammar and if she doesn't it's for creative writing purposes. Four academics down and one to go. She waits impatiently to walk with a friend who leaves class entirely too slow. The warning bell rings and he's still packing up.

She finally decides to hike it to gym class, passing the door to the locker room that seems to be locked just to annoy students and takes the long way around to her locker. Today she avoids the bathroom, an admittedly smart decision, and waits for roll call. Golly gee, what exciting activity awaits her toda—

Somebody clever once said that insanity is repeating something and expecting a different result. She must be insane then for expecting anything besides choice day of walk the track or some sport. All her friends walk the track, and she joins them to talk.

Evidence number 2 of insanity: she expected not to be third wheeled. Ten minutes in and she's tired of walking alone so she sneaks away to the guy's hockey game. She's really bad and probably the weak link to the team, but at least she's on a team that tries to win.

Seventh period brings band class. She sits back and enjoys the band. Low brass hardly gets to practice in band anyways, right? Really, who would invent an instrument just to sound like farts? Well, she would too. It's rather amusing. Wait, what measure was this?

Finally, eighth period with Latin: the class where she learned more about the English language than her entire middle school experience. Cue dark yet funny humor from the teacher. Cue awkward laughter. Cue awkward silence. Cue bell ringing.

She makes her way back to the band room to stay through for jazz band rehearsal. She argues with everyone about who pays what and who orders, but they all eventually get their pizza and fries. This one kid annoys her about senior prom and she slaps him on the back of the head with the pizza box. He knows who he is. He basically asked to be put in this story. Oh, there goes the fourth wall.

Around 8:30 she's finally home. She finishes up what's left of her homework that she can't do the next day, showers, and sprawls out on the couch to watch TV. 10:00 she's forced downstairs to "go to bed". She plans to scroll through various social media until 10:30. At 10:40 she puts her phone down and pulls up the blankets. One sheep. Two sheep. Three...


Oh great, what is it now. Well, it can wait. She lazily shuts her eyes again and starts again. One sheep. Tw—




Alright, peer pressure and curiosity wins. She picks up her phone and squints into the light.

"Quiz me?"



She rolls her eyes. Figures. She pulls up a study guide and basically goes over the entire unit in the hour. Now it's 11:55. No wonder she's always tired. She closes her eyes again. One she—

Well, maybe a little social media can't hurt.

Chapter 9. In Other Words

Reading this, I can recall just how annoyed I was that I had to limit the amount of quotes I could use by quantity and genre. Quotes are one of my favorite things in life, if used correctly. In my definition, a good quote should be short enough to hold my attention and meaningful enough to keep it. Quotes can be silly, such as "You, my friend, have the attention span of a goldfish cracker." —Dora McCafferty, multiple times. Quotes can be serious, though, and hold a deep meaning, such as "We don’t continue to call butterflies “caterpillars” after they’ve transformed. We acknowledge that the butterfly was once a caterpillar, but isn’t anymore. We think of how beautiful the butterfly is, not that it was born a caterpillar and it should stay that way.” —My Old Neighbor, Facebook, on Caitlyn Jenner. But quotes are quotes, so here are some on the top of my list.

In Other Words

“You were born at a pretty crappy time in history. And it looks like things are only gonna get worse from here on out.” Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

“Love is being stupid together.” Paul Valery

“We are puzzle pieces, bragging about being puzzle pieces, rather than being the picture.” ― Tom Althouse, The Frowny Face Cow

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ― Winston S. Churchill

12 year olds shouldn't focus on romance. They should focus on pokemon and pop tarts” ― Alex Hirsch, Alex Hirsch’s Twitter

“Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed.”

― Bruce Springsteen

“Humor has bailed me out of more tight situations than I can think of. If you go with your instincts and keep your humor, creativity follows. With luck, success comes, too.” ― Jimmy Buffett

“Let me be clear - no one is above the law. Not a politician, not a priest, not a criminal, not a police officer. We are all accountable for our actions.”

Antonio Villaraigosa

“There is one, and only one, thing in modern society more hideous than crime namely, repressive justice.” Simone Weil

“I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.” ― Maya Angelou

Chapter 10. Spirit Animal

The ironic part is that you can't read this quickly at all. Go ahead, read it aloud. I dare you.

The Bumblebee

She swiftly streamlines herself through streaked skies;
Fast to the finish, despite her size,
Swallowed by shaded shrubbery, she darts

The flowing fauna beneath her motions;
It calls from within luscious oceans
And from the colony, she parts

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Chapter 11. No Ragrets


  • I should have listened more in class.

  • I shouldn't leave projects until the last minute.

  • I should have enjoyed band class more in middle school.

  • I also should have quit chorus in middle school.

  • I shouldn't change myself for people to like me.

  • I should've kept in touch with old friends.

  • I shouldn't have let crushes get to me.

  • I should've made more friends.

  • I should make more friends.

  • I should try exercising more.

  • I shouldn't have chosen three AP courses next year.

  • I should've chosen Chinese.

  • I should've stuck with Spanish.

  • I shouldn't have kept the bowl cut throughout elementary school.

  • I shouldn't have cut off all my hair for locks of love.

  • I shouldn't have stayed in debate club.

  • I should've joined SciOly earlier.

  • I should've appreciated my grandparents more.

  • I shouldn't have bought all those sarcastic t shirts.

  • I shouldn't have waited until the last two hours or so to revise this entire chapter.

As you can see, this is a small list of my regrets over the years. My biggest regret isn't on the list, though. Even I haven't learned this lesson yet. I've tried and tried again, but I struggle with it often. Can you guess what that lesson is?

To not have regrets.

"Why is that a regret, though?" You ask me. "Isn't that contradictory?" You're right, it is a bit contrary. But that's my primary goal, to not have any regrets in life. The past is the past, so there's no changing what happened. And even if there were, I'm not sure that I would. Whatever past me did affects future me today, and without my decisions I wouldn't be who I am. Debate club, as much as I regret it, helped me with public speaking and I (probably) wouldn't take it back. (All) (most) (some) a few of my last minute projects and revisions turned out alright. And even if it's a simple regret such as "I should've exercised more", why shouldn't I start now? All of these regrets pile up, as you can see above, and end with moments of unbearable stress and sadness. It happens to us all, but not all of us realize that we can make the change. Perhaps someday I'll find a way to live a life where I don't regret a single thing.

Chapter 12. Year in Reading

The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

Rating: 6

Genre: Historical Fiction

Words of Wisdom: X

Three Sentence Summary: When Edward, a prince who dreams to be freed of his royal responsibilities, and Tom, a pauper who wants to be royal, realize they look alike, they accidentally trade places. Problems arise when Edward's father died and Tom is next in line for the throne. In the end, the two are switched back and Edward rules kindly with knowledge of peasant life until his death.

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar

Rating: 8.4

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Words of Wisdom: X

Three Sentence Summary: Starting high school is never easy, and Scott Hudson deals with all the troubles that come with it; between trying to impress crushes and losing friends, Scott's life is changing fast. Things aren't any easier with an incoming sibling, so Scott deals with his troubles the way he knows how: writing survival diary entries to his unborn younger sibling. In the end, Scott finally settles into the high school with new friends, a school dance, and a new younger sibling.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Rating: 7

Genre: Mystery

Words of Wisdom: X

Three Sentence Summary: Jazz finds himself following the trail of a serial killer; the catch is that the killer is copying the steps of Jazz's own convicted father. Racing against the clock before the killer, the Impressionist, can find a new victim, Jazz also deals with suspicion from the police and his own moral conflicts. The killer is caught in the end, but it's all a ploy; the same night Jazz's father escapes prison, using the killer as a decoy.

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Rating: 7.5

Genre: Science Fiction

Words of Wisdom:

"There are a lot of things more valuable than money" (73)

"You kids couln't even give an old woman a proper greetin' before you started spewing questions." (164)

"You're a bigger part of this than you could have thought possible." (280)

Three Sentence Summary: In a time when virtual reality is a reality, Michael and his friends are enlisted to help a cyber security agency stop the cyber terrorist Kaine and his evil plans. Conflicts arise when they realize that Kaine is actually a Tangent, or a computer program, who's become self aware. Michael and his friends reach Kaine and almost stop him, but Kaine reveals his secret weapon: Michael; Michael's actually a Tangent too, and is now the first Tangent to enter a human body.

1984 by George Orwell

Rating: 8.3

Genre: Thriller

Words of Wisdom:

"Two plus two is five."

“If there is hope, it lies in the proles.”

Three Sentence Summary: Taking place in yet another dystopian society, Orwell writes about how controlling information can equal control of the world; In the year 1984, Big Brother is always watching you, and facts can change in an instant (ie. Fighting against one country one day and another the next). Winston and Julia fall in love (although any form of intercourse is illegal unless for reproduction) and plan to rebel with O'Brien, a coworker for the Ministry who secretly works with the Brotherhood, a resistance. In actuality, there is no resistance, and all who enter the Brotherhood are brainwashed into submission and then erased from the records after some time.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Rating: 9

Genre: Post-apocalyptic

Words of Wisdom:

"They own practically everything! Including you, pretty boy! I mean, did they tattoo a UPC code on your ass when they hired you to sit there and spout their corporate propaganda?" (119)

"No one in this world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful." (199)

"I felt like a convict in an old prison movie, returning to my cell each night to tunnel through the wall with a teaspoon." (346)

Three Sentence Summary: In a dystopian society where humanity is all but screwed, a virtual reality is willed off to the one who can finish the scavenger hunt the fastest. This epic tale tells the story of the underdog Wade Watts and his allies vs the corporate scum, the Sux0rs as they race to be the sole heir of Halliday's legacy. Eventually Wade wins it all, gets the girl, and finally realizes that maybe reality isn't so bad after all.

Theories of Relativity by Barbara Haworth-Attard

Rating: 7

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Words of Wisdom:

"No one gives something for nothing" (7)

"By the way, you're not litter" (106)

"Who's to say what makes me a genius? I say I'm a thinker. Always my mind, it goes round and round. Sometimes like a man possessed." (218)

Three Sentence Summary: Dylan tells his story as a street kid, kicked out by his mother so she could impress her newest boyfriend. Living on the street gives him a new perspective and time to think about everything, from the abuse the homeless girls get while selling themselves for food to the patterns of donations gathered as a beggar. Dylan eventually gets a job from a tech guy and starts to work his way back up.

Night by Elie Wiesel

Rating: 8.5

Genre: Memoir/Autobiography

Words of Wisdom:

“The yellow star? So what? It’s not lethal." (11)

"This ceremony, will it be over soon? I’m hungry," (62)

"Let the world learn about the existence of Auschwitz..." (31)

"Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices... Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." (118)

Three Sentence Summary: Written as a memoir of Elie Wiesel, Wiesel himself bears witness to the tragic events bestowed upon him and the other Jews he met. Wiesel writes in vivid and morbid detail the sequence of events that lead 12 year old Elie Wiesel from Sighet to the camps. Night shows the slow dehumanization of the Jews, the indifference of human nature, and hauntingly stresses the idea that if we do not bear witness, history is doomed to repeat itself.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Rating: 8.2

Genre: Historical Fiction

Words of Wisdom:

"...every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ‘em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head." (36)

"You . . . . an’ me. Ever’body gonna be nice to you. Ain’t gonna be no more trouble. Nobody gonna hurt nobody nor steal from ‘em."(52)

Three Sentence Summary: Told in six chapters, four settings, and three days, the story of Lennie and George's search for work tells all it has to and more. After having to leave their last job because of Lennie's mental handicap, the two start anew in hopes of achieving their dream of buying a farmhouse together. Unfortunately, Lennie ends up killing a woman, and George is forced to kill his friend or let him be locked up, choosing to set his friend free from the unforgiving time period.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Rating: 8.8


Words of Wisdom:

"A mob's a mob made of people, no matter what." (210)

"... There's just some kind of men you have to shoot before you can say hidy to 'em. Even then, they ain't worth the bullet it takes to shoot them." (361)

"I don't want [Jem] growing up with a whisper about him, I don't want anybody saying, 'Jem Finch... his daddy paid a mint to get him out of that.' " (366)

Three Sentence Summary: The fictional town of Maycomb is shaken to its roots during the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Lee uses the the loss of innocence of Scout and Jem to illustrate that not everyone is as they seem; nice folks can have rotten morals, and the unknown shouldn't always be feared. As Atticus Finch stands to defend what seems like a lost cause, readers discover the true meaning of courage.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Rating: 7.6

Genre: Graphic/Historical/Memoir/Autobiography

Words of Wisdom: X

Three Sentence Summary: Written as a graphic novel, Marjane tells her story of her country's oppression after the change of hands in ruling. Women are forced to be more conservative, protesters are severely punished, and all western ideas are banned. In the end Marjane's parents send her off to Austria so she can be safer and get a better education.

Colors of the Mountain by Da Chen

Rating: 8

Genre: Historical/Memoir/Autobiography

Words of Wisdom: X

Three Sentence Summary: The memoir of Da Chen tells his story in communist China, from his outcasted family to his delinquent friends. Da struggles to survive the harsh treatment he gets from others, both in school and around his town. This book paints readers a picture of how life was in China under Mao and shows eerie similarities to the treatment of Jews in Night and the treatment of African Americans in To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga

Rating: 8.7

Genre: Romance/Realistic Fiction

Words of Wisdom: X

Three Sentence Summary: Lyga tells the story of freshman outcast Fanboy, his bullies, his Step-Facist, his unfair school officials, and his new friend Goth Girl. Goth Girl sees Fanboy take punches daily and shows Fanboy just how unfair society is to people like them. In the end, Fanboy stands up for himself against his bullies, bonds with his family a little more, and fights for himself against the corrupt vice principal.

The Taking of Room 114 by Mel Glenn

Rating: 8

Genre: Drama/In Verse

Words of Wisdom: X

Three Sentence Summary: Written in verse, this story shows the thoughts of a senior class held hostage by their teacher. Poems that show their stories from freshman year until that day are followed by poetic notes from the teacher about a boy named Michael. In the end the kids escape unharmed and the teacher is shot once, but the reactions of them and others may surprise you.

Unfortunately, this year has been a hectic year for me, and I didn't get to read as much as I like to usually. However, the books that I read were certainly worth it. My favorites all seem to have a common theme of relating to present-day events. Night, TKM, and OMaM all relate to indifference and intolerance, which the US seems to have a lot of issues with recently, along with the rest of the world. Ready Player One hits lightly on the impact of our crumbling environment and growing technological field, along with many other issues, such as LGBT, anti-social behavior, and evil corporations. However, one of my favorites, 1984, despite being out-dated, predicts many of today's issues. Overall, this year, although I didn't read as much as I like, has been an excellent year for broadening my mental horizons.

Chapter 13. Friends

If I were to write this chapter last year, I would have a much easier time. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it seems that I’ve managed to evolve, adapt, and progress in my high school experience and acquire friends. Over the past couple of months, I found myself actually being invited places, and, even more shocking, agreeing to go. So, as this wonderfully exciting autobiography draws to a close, let us take one final journey to where no man has gone before: my social life.
The definition of friends is as follows: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. If that were true, I would have many friends; my definition goes a bit deeper. To me, friendship is like an onion. The rotting peels off to the side are my enemies, which will eventually end up in the trash can. The peeling layers are strangers, who could stay or end up being thrown out as well. Then the outer layer of acquaintanceship, in the case that I get to know a person on a further level than “Hey, you”. Next, friends who like me more than I like them, followed by friends who I like more than they like me. These two layers go hand in hand as the one-sided layer, and usually don’t end too well. Finally, the mutual friendship zone; there’s a small rotting spot called the friendzone beside it, but we won’t delve into that. The mutual friendship zone, a magical place, holds nothing but happiness and smiles. Here lies the friends I know I can trust with secrets or text at any time of day and get a response. These friends deserve to be in the sweetest part of the onion for being the ones to make me smile in my darkest days. At this point you may realize that I know nothing about onions, for in fact I’ve never tasted one. However, this is the best analogy I could come up with, so don’t push it and enjoy.

The friends I’ll focus on, those at the core of my onion, are more or less listed under the category titled: You’re funny and trustworthy, we should hang out and text until the wee hours of the morn. This category has a whooping population of three people: Woojin, Liam, and Brandon. Woojin, my first close friend, and I don’t hang out too often, but we often spend hours texting each other about anything from tv shows to the meaning of life. She pulled me out of my “all girls have cooties” in fourth grade and showed me the many wonders of losing your soul to television series, so she’ll always have a special place in my heart.

Liam, my first actual guy friend, and I have a special kind of relationship. Although I have no recollection of my first year with him, seventh grade gave us a couple of classes together; one of my fondest early memories of him would be when I kicked a ball out from underneath him in Mrs. Gregg’s class. We ended up doing a lot of the same things after that, from Science Olympiad to jazz band, which ends up with me getting plenty of rides home from his mom.

Brandon, my first older friend, and I met in the last days of my eighth grade year, where I distinctly remember him teaching me about how to develop perfect pitch. I didn’t actually get to know him until halfway through this year during jazz band. At this point I had discovered the wonders of “school after school”, and often ended up staying until eight every Thursday for jazz band. This left me with hours to spare and an empty stomach, so I often ordered pizza with the rest of the kids. One winter day, most of the kids drove up to Chick-Fil-A, so Brandon and I concocted a brilliant plan: walking. We walked up to the McDonald’s, making a stop at the mall to run up the down escalators, and returned with cold ears and Chicken McNuggets.

On the aspect of doing things together, you must be thinking, “Just three friends? Well you all must do tons of things together, right?” If by tons you mean hardly anything, then yes, we do tons of things. Woojin has invited me to a sleepover and a movie or two, but our friendship is mostly based on texting. I’ve invited myself to the movies with Liam, and I’ve taken both him and Brandon to the movies on separate occasions. I’ve also managed to go to school dances with both of them, awkward photos included, but the most fun times happened on Thursday afternoons when we walked up to Pappone’s and relaxed.

My friends mean a lot to me, and I can only hope I mean something to them. I like to base friendship on communication rather than other things, and all three of these people make me happy. I suppose there’s just a special feeling I have when I’m around them. They make me smile, they make me laugh, and I try to do the same for them. They’re probably reading this right now after begging me to send this to them. I called friendship like an onion earlier, but I truthfully can’t explain it. Good friendship is like finding “the one”; you’ll make many mistakes along the way, but once you find it, you’ll know.