A Book Can Be a Friend

A Book Can Be a Friend: A Girl Who Loved Tolkien and Her Favorite Book

By: Rachel Parsons

December, 2012

When I was eleven, in the year 2001, I saw advertisements for the first of Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. I remember standing in line at the movie theater, though I don’t remember which movie I was there to see, and I saw the big cardboard standups advertising The Fellowship of the Ring. I recognized the name from the fantasy cartoons I’d grown up on. There were three animated films my brothers and I had watched over and over again, those being The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Return of the King.

I was ecstatic at the time because the animated films were some of my favorite movies. The hobbits, in particular, were characters very dear to me. I mentioned it to my mother. She, being a librarian, was quick to inform me that there were books that the films were based on and my mother has always believed in reading the book before seeing the movie. Posthaste, I checked out The Fellowship of the Ring from our local library, where my mother worked, and so began my fascination and adoration of anything written by Tolkien.

All of the books were dear to me and I finished them before The Two Towers came out in theaters, meaning I was then able to anticipate the final movie along with every other Tolkien fan at the tender age of thirteen. I was so enthralled in those books that I took them everywhere I went, just so I’d be able to read them. I huddled under a blanket and umbrella with the library’s paperback copy of The Two Towers at my little brothers’ baseball game while it was lightly raining on me, determined to read my book for as long as possible. There was nothing more important in my life at the time. Even Harry Potter didn’t measure up.

My mother was happy to indulge my Tolkien addiction. She bought me a copy of The Hobbit, which I read out of order but adored all the same. I even tried to read The Book of Lost Tales, Part 1, but at thirteen the material was far too dense for me to comprehend. At fifteen, my father took me to a bookstore to pick out my own books for Christmas and I bought myself a copy of The Silmarillion, which I have not read to this day. Out of every Tokien book I read or tried to read, however, I had a favorite. It wasn’t just one title, mind you. It was a very specific copy of one book in particular.

While I had checked out worn paperback copes of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers when I rented them from the library, I was and am the sort of person who prefers a hardback book. My library had a hardback copy of The Return of the King that I adored. It was an older copy, well-worn before I ever came along to find it in the back corner of the fiction shelves. It was red and the front of the dust jacket had been cut out and glued to the front many years ago. This book, unassuming as it might have appeared, was more than just a book to me. It was a dear friend.

I suppose I should mention that during this period of my life, my parents got a divorce. It was not an easy thing for me to understand at the time and instead of trying to comprehend what was happening to my family, I spent all of my time reading about Middle-Earth. I checked out The Return of the King many times. I took it with me when I went places with my dad, and for fun I talked my little brothers into acting out scenes from the book, which we were all terrible at, being quite small at the time.

Sometimes, when I went to work with my mother and needed a place to hide, I would go to the corner of the library where they kept the Tolkien books. It was hidden behind another shelf and I often curled up there with my book and read my favorite scenes over and over again. Once or twice, I used the book as a pillow and fell asleep in that corner. But I don’t think anyone knew how much that book really meant to me.

I asked once if, should the book ever be discarded, they would give it to me. I was going on sixteen at the time and my book was falling apart. The head librarian took it and carefully repaired the damage, as per my instruction, but promised that it wasn’t going to be discarded any time soon. All the same, I told her, I wanted this book when it did get discarded. I knew it would happen sooner or later. That copy had probably been there since the seventies and it had seen better days. One day, I knew the library would have to update it.

On my sixteenth birthday, the employees at the library gave me a present. It was a brand new and quite beautiful copy of The Return of the King, which they knew was my favorite book. I was not sure what to say. It was a nice present and I didn’t have the book, so of course I appreciated it. But it wasn’t my book. It wasn’t the book I’d fallen asleep with and taken on travels with me. It didn’t look or feel or smell the same. Still, I didn’t tell them that they’d given me the wrong book. I thanked them profusely and told them that I loved it.

My book remained on the shelf and I checked in on it now and then, just to see if it was still around. It was always there when I went back to the corner for it, and it was the only book I ever considered stealing from the library. I didn’t do that, of course. I held out some hope that when it came time for my book’s retirement, the librarians would remember me and they would hold it back. Years passed and still, my book remained on the shelf.

My mother quit her job and set about getting her Master’s degree in Library Science. We had long since moved to another part of the county and after my mother quit, we rarely visited that library. The library was later moved into a much nicer building. I would think about my book occasionally but was now convinced that it could never be mine. The head librarian retired and a new librarian took her place. I was preoccupied with college and had little time to worry about one book that was never meant to be mine.

The thing is, I went back yesterday. I had to see if my book was still there. I had been thinking about it a lot, what with The Hobbit being made into a new movie, and I wondered if my book was still in circulation. If not, I wondered if anyone knew where it was. Holding my breath, I went to the new corner that houses the Tolkien books and I searched. My book was not present amongst the others. Biting my lip, I returned to the main desk to ask if perhaps it had been checked out. Someone checked for me, but reported back that there were no hardback copies of The Return of the King, only paperbacks.

I’m not upset with anyone over it. No one knew it was my book. I never knew how to explain it to anyone, and besides, they are not the same employees who were there when I fell asleep with it in the corner. No one could tell me what had happened to it, but I’m sure it was taken to the book sale and some lucky person picked it up for a dollar or less. I wish it had been me that found it and took it home. I cried about it when I got back out to the car. There are so many memories I have attached to that book. It saw me through so many things but in the end, it never belonged to me.

Whoever has it now, I hope they appreciate it. When I got home, I looked online for a copy like it and found one for sale that had a dust jacket like mine did; only this dust jacket was still intact and not glued to the book. I bought it and sent a message to the seller, telling them how happy I was to have found this copy, how it was like mine, and that I’d cried earlier in the day when I discovered my copy was gone. The seller was very sweet, told me how much they loved Tolkien too and how they were glad my book had found me.

I think I will be happy when it arrives in the mail. When I take it out and hold it in my hands, I think it will feel something like my book felt. Maybe it will smell the same too, musty and antique like old books often smell, though it can never completely look the part unless I break the spine and mutilate the dust jacket. In truth, like the seller, I am glad that this copy found me. I want to have this one so I can move on and put my book to rest. It lived a very long shelf life and probably brought happiness to a lot of people. I can honestly say that I don’t think anyone loved it more than I did. Sometimes a book is a good friend when you need one the most.


One Step Up

Photo courtesy of Wendy Johnston

One Step Up: Keeping Larry’s Legacy

By: Rachel Parsons

In loving memory of Larry Gibson, 1946 – 2012

I’ve been involved in the movement to stop mountaintop removal for over three years now, which is a relatively small period of time when I think about the many people who’ve been involved for much longer. Fighting big coal has come to define me to such an extent that it feels like a lifetime since I first heard Judy Bonds and Larry Gibson speak. Judy and Larry were two coalfield residents whose words were more than just genuine; they were passionate and empowering.

Larry Gibson was a spunky little man who talked big, and it was not difficult to believe every word he said. I always believed that he would fight for the mountains until he took his last breath. People like Larry don’t just stop fighting for something when the fight gets too hard. Larry’s fight was always hard. Throwing his lot in with the “tree huggers” and refusing to sell the last remnants of his home on Kayford Mountain to the coal company meant that Larry made a lot of enemies.

People shot at his house, vandalized his property, poisoned and shot his dogs and threatened his life. The police ignored Larry’s problems, claiming that Larry lived in “No Man’s Land” on Kayford Mountain and that there was nothing they could do to help him. Despite this, Larry was not deterred. He never claimed to be a saint or anything of the sort, just a man who owed his life to Kayford Mountain, but there must have been some part of him with divine patience. How many people can claim that all those things, or even of those things, wouldn’t scare them away from their home?

If anyone wonders how bad the harassment of Larry Gibson really was, well, let me tell you a little story. It’s about a nineteen year old girl who went with her family to spend the Fourth of July with Larry and a large group of mountaintop removal protestors on Kayford Mountain for Larry’s annual Fourth of July festival. That nineteen year old girl was me and I was brand new to the movement. I’d met Larry a couple of times before but didn’t know him well. He welcomed my family – my mother, my brothers, my grandparents, and me – with open arms, like he’d known us forever.

Not much for crowds, I retired to my tent early on to write. Larry had warned us all earlier that day that there could be some disturbance from locals who didn’t like what Larry stood for. While I was squirreled away in my tent, some of those locals showed up. I could hear raised voices from inside the tent and, afraid of getting involved in something potentially dangerous, I stayed where I was while our group was verbally assaulted by several locals. One of them was a large man who decided to express his disdain for us by eating several of the hotdogs we’d grilled while a female friend of his poured tomato juice all over our picnic area. They shouted vicious things at our group and at Larry, prompting my grandfather to place himself protectively in front of Larry. My grandfather told me later that he put himself in the line of fire hoping that one of them would hit him, so he’d have a real complaint to take to the police, since they wouldn’t listen to anything else.

When I emerged from my tent, the troublemakers had gone and we all tried to go about our celebration and pretend that nothing had happened. As Larry explained, it wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened, which was of little comfort to us when it began to rain. My mother, my brothers and I were huddled together in a tent that leaked, none of us getting much sleep while locals roared their cars and four-wheelers past our camp all night long and shouted expletives and threats at us. After that night, I never doubted any claim Larry made of violence against him and his property and family.

Larry lived on what little remained of Kayford Mountain, which was his family’s ancestral home. He placed his fifty acres in a land trust that prevents it from ever being strip-mined, though underground mining still takes place. That fifty acres is all that’s left of over 500 acres owned by Larry’s family, most of which has been taken and destroyed by a mining company by way of a broad form deed that sold the mineral rights to the property, signed with an “X” by one of Larry’s ancestors. Larry would take all of his visitors to a place called “Hell’s Gate,” a point where you could look out at the destruction of Kayford Mountain.

The first time Larry took my family to Hell’s Gate, I was shell-shocked. There are no words to describe the site. People tried to describe the horror of it to me before I went, but nothing that anyone said could have prepared me for the sight of a mountain that had been nearly leveled. They don’t call it mountaintop removal for nothing. Kayford’s mountaintop is gone. Even worse was when Larry pointed out a patch of green that resembled an island, raised above the rubble and waste. He explained that it was his family’s cemetery, which the company was not allowed to destroy, but was now incredibly difficult to reach. Larry’s ancestors are buried in that “protected” cemetery.

It made me sick to my stomach and I knew I had to find a way to join the fight. Every time I saw Larry, he smiled and hugged me and encouraged me to stay involved. He was very concerned about getting young people to join the movement, because he said that we were the ones who would have to carry on the fight after he was gone. It never really occurred to me that one day we wouldn’t have Larry to lead the charge. He was such a powerful personality that it made me believe Larry would always have my back in this fight.

Now I’m twenty-two and still fighting. A little over a year ago, one of my heroes, Judy Bonds, passed away from cancer. Her death had a huge impact on the movement. I had only just escaped the melancholy that settled on me on the anniversary of her passing. With one powerful person gone, I know the vast majority of people in the movement looked to Larry for inspiration and guidance. I don’t use the word “hero” lightly. Larry fit the word in every sense. If a person grew weary of the fight, they only needed to go to Larry to get that metaphorical fire lit under their ass. Larry didn’t just ask you to fight, he told you flat out that it was your responsibility to fight and to fight hard.

I was not expecting to come home Sunday evening to news of Larry’s passing. In fact, I had no reason to expect that he would leave us any time soon. At sixty-six years old, he was lively and loud, though I was not under the illusion that he was in prime health. My mother and I pulled into the driveway of our home after a trip to the grocery store and we were met by my stepfather, who broke the news to us. My mother broke down in tears. For me, the news was so out of the blue that I wasn’t sure how to react.

The first thing I did was rush to my computer to uncover the facts about the situation. I found out that Larry had indeed passed away. He’d had a heart attack while working on his beloved mountain. I suppose he would have wanted to die up there but I’m sure he wasn’t planning on it happening so soon. He still had work to do, the responsibility for which has now been thrust upon his family and friends.

Activist and photographer Paul Corbit Brown took a video of Larry a few days before his death, in which Larry spoke of his love for Kayford Mountain. Kayford was not quite heaven, he said, but up there, he was one step up – one step closer to heaven. That’s testament to how much he loved that place, considering that most of it was already gone. Larry must have remembered Kayford the way she used to be, wild and rich with life. I can’t say what happens after this life, if we continue to another life or return to the earth, but one way or another, I hope that Larry was reunited with Kayford.

There’s so much to say about him. Physically, he was a small person and had an unassuming appearance. If it wasn’t for the neon green shirt and hat that he wore everywhere, he would have been an easy person to overlook. It was the fighting passion inside him that made him such a memorable person. He wanted to fight for Kayford, for every mountain in Appalachia, and he poured his heart and soul into it. He made sure that no one ignored him, going out on the road to speak all around the country and spread the word of the threat of strip-mining in Appalachia.

People said he looked like a highlighter out in public, clearly visible in his trademark green, which he said he chose because it caught peoples’ attention. The shirt and hat, now owned by many of us in the movement, bear the information for Larry’s foundation, The Keepers of the Mountains. “Love ’em or leave ’em, just don’t destroy ’em,” he said. He wanted to win the fight against big coal and see a stop put to mountaintop removal more than anything. It makes me hurt and angry to know that he won’t get to see the final chapter of the story. He won’t be there when mountaintop removal is finally abolished.

It will feel so strange to celebrate that victory without him or Judy Bonds to get up in front of us all and tell us that we did it; we won against all odds. That’s all the more reason to keep fighting. If I count Larry as a dear friend, which I do, I know that I can’t throw in the towel now. It’s time to step up and carry the torch onwards, to make sure that our voice is not lessened just because Larry’s not here to clear the way in highlighter green.

All that being said, I miss Larry and it hurts so much to know that I’ll never see him again. He’ll never give me another hug, or tell my mother what a pretty daughter she has. Larry was special to me and my family. We counted ourselves as his people, people from Appalachia who were tired of being quiet, and it is like losing a family member now that he is gone. I thought I would get to see him soon in DC and I was looking forward to it. I feel hollow knowing that he won’t be here to lead us anymore.

Larry’s passing only strengthens my resolve. I want the world to hear his story and know the true cost of coal. I want everyone to hear about the suffering of the Appalachian people and our beloved mountains. Larry’s home was destroyed. The forests he explored as a child were demolished, his mountain was leveled, and yet our government thinks that this is okay. Worse than that, this has happened to over five hundred mountains in Appalachia, and more all of the time.

In Larry Gibson’s honor, I refuse to back down and allow the greedy rich to have their way. As Larry would say, it’s my job and it’s your job to see this through. It doesn’t matter if you live here or you don’t, if you’re a transplant or a native, or if you live on the other side of the world. Everyone should care about this, and everyone should want to preserve and protect the Appalachian Mountains.

I know what Larry meant when he said that being on Kayford was “one step up.” There is something divine about these mountains, about the land I have loved since I was a small child, and I have felt that strong connection to it that Larry had. Imagine the most important thing to you in this world, the one thing that you keep in your soul, so deeply ingrained in your being that it defines you. Then you will understand what it is like for me and for Larry, to love this place. Maybe then you’ll want to join us and carry on Larry’s legacy, to move us ever closer to a world where these mountains are protected for future generations.

This is an invitation. If you’re not already involved, stop wondering whether or not this is your fight and jump into the fray. It is not an easy fight. People will try to hold you back every step of the way. They’ll call you a liar and many less pleasant names, they’ll try to label you as an outsider who has no right to speak up, but no matter where you live, you are not an outsider. Larry would have wanted you with us. Join us and help us keep the mountains.

Almost Heaven, Video of Larry Gibson by Paul Corbit Brown


Larry Gibson is gone. I think I am in shock. It doesn’t seem real.

I don’t think I can write about this yet. I’m too disturbed by it and my mind has not yet accepted it. Maybe when I’ve had the time to think about it.

I love you, Larry, and I’m sorry you didn’t get to see the fight through to the finish. You were so wonderful. I will miss your hugs.

Today, for Judy.

I am a lot of things, both appealing and offensive. Similarly, I do many things, mostly offensive and sometimes, hopefully, appealing. For instance, free writing on my blog might turn out to be splendidly appealing or horribly offensive (or just plain boring, but perish the thought, I could never be boring).

There are things I should be doing, like writing more articles, and things I am doing, like writing more fanfiction. There’s the person I should be, who is always confident and kind and composed, and the person I actually am, who takes everything to heart and loses her temper and, like an elephant, never forgets. In all honesty, it’s harder to try and change yourself, even when it seems like it’s for the better, and being yourself cannot be anything but positive in the long run. If you are yourself, you’ll reduce a large amount of secrets you have to keep from people.

As for doing things, people talk about how we have little time to do the things we should. Logically, I believe that, but to me it seems that life goes on and on and never lets me rest. Screw doing stuff, most of the time I just want to sleep.

I’ve been encouraged to write a book, possibly, about living in Appalachia and fighting the destruction here. It strikes me as funny that something I do everyday – i.e. “live here” – would be appealing enough in book form to actually sell. That being said, I’m sure I’ll do it eventually. Probably next year for NaNoWriMo. But what’s wrong with inspirational stories about boy robots who want to save the world and understand love? So the next book, which I’ll be writing for NaNo this year, is the third book in the Jonah series.

Actually, I haven’t even tried to get Jonah published. I haven’t sent it anywhere at all, so I don’t even know if it would be rejected or if I’m just paranoid. It seems like a crazy thought, that I could really publish a book. I used to tell people that my ultimate goal was to get at least one book published. If I got published now, at 22, it would be so strange. I would, however, consider myself highly successful for my age. That would sum up what I’ve been working for my whole life. Maybe it would be peaceful or maybe it wouldn’t be peaceful at all. I’d probably sleep more, and that really can’t be a good thing.

But today is a special day. Today is the birthday of activist Judy Bonds, who inspired me like no one else ever could in the fight against mountaintop removal. I miss Judy. For her, life was too short, just like everyone always says it will be. But if there was ever a person who spent every day being herself for everyone in the world to see, it was Judy. The world is full of people who hide behind all sorts of different masks but Judy didn’t hide. She was, and continues to be, a character that overwhelms every room full of stereotypes and cop-outs with her sheer individuality and persistence.

I prefaced that small paragraph about Judy with a lot of stuff about myself because I didn’t know what I wanted to write, I guess, to mark this important day. What can I say about Judy that hasn’t already been said a million times over by everyone who loved her? What right do I have to say anything at all? I was just some random girl who listened to her speak and loved the things she said and the way she held herself, not above the people, but above the lies and fear and hate.

Maybe she was nothing like I imagined her to be. I never got to sit and have coffee with her or share stories and get to know her. Still, I think that when someone is as real as Judy was, it makes them shine somehow. When I saw Judy speak or on the front lines at actions, I always knew that I liked her – loved her – in a world full of people who never quite measure up. And all she had to do was be herself. But that’s harder than you might think, when being yourself and speaking the truth puts you in harm’s way, when the safest path to take would be to duck your head down and pretend you can’t do anything. I’m sure that there were days when she was afraid but she kept going.

I don’t want to glorify her beyond what she really was – and I don’t think she would have wanted that either. She was a person, just like you and me. We all have an opportunity to be that real, that solid, and Judy took that opportunity. I guess the reason why I had to talk about myself before I could talk about Judy is that when I think about Judy, I think about myself too. I think about all of the things I’m capable of doing that I haven’t done yet, for whatever reason. I think about how it’s so hard to hide my real self from the world, but it’s even harder to be honest and take the criticism from others that comes with it. Maybe Judy was like me and she just couldn’t keep herself locked up and boxed away. Whatever the reason, I was honored to meet her. I would have been honored to know her. Most of all, I am grateful to her for fighting until the end. There’s a lesson there I still haven’t quite learned but I think Judy gave me the answer to a question I’ve always had.

When you’re a kid and you dream about going down in history books, you don’t think about what that means. To be remembered like that, you have to leave something behind in peoples’ hearts. You have to work hard, bust your ass, and never, ever take shit from anybody, but you also have to have compassion and love. When you get up in front of a crowd, you have to let them know that you’re not going to back down and that you still love the world, no matter how much pain it puts you through. The people who see that about you and are inspired by you will keep you alive in their thoughts. You will never be forgotten. It’s a brave thing to do with your life because you won’t be around to see the impact you have. You have to have blind faith in the world and give as much as you can while you have the chance. It’s not about personal glory, being remembered. I guess I don’t really know what it’s about, except that Judy didn’t fight so people would remember her. People remember her because she fought for something real.

Dreary Day

This week I think I’m on sensory overload. Lots of stuff has happened in the last couple of weeks and I haven’t had a lot of time to process all of it. I wanted to write another article for the blog today but I just don’t have it in me to put together something professional right now. Hopefully I’ll get my mojo back in a few days. Until then, I think I’ll just write a regular diary type entry.

I bought a new cage for the rats, it’s second hand and needs some TLC, but it has different floors, which I’m sure they’ll love. I need to spray it down with the water hose and then repaint it, and build in some ramps. Also need to find a way to get Sher some daily exercise that doesn’t involve him chewing the paint off my bedroom walls. I mean, I was prepared for him chewing on stuff, but silly me thought the walls were safe. Nope. I did buy him a little vest and leash, which might still be too big on him, but I figure he’ll grow into it.

Merlin is still not very social. Not sure what to do about that – I haven’t had the time to spend with the rats that I thought I would have, and I think that has been detrimental to Merlin’s socialization. But I also think Mer was taken away from his mama too soon, so he’s not as affectionate as the bigger boys are.

Once again, I was the only person with rabbits at the county fair, which means I won the trophy again, but it’s really a hollow victory. I don’t like being the only person there. I like seeing other people bring their bunnies. However, Jubilee got her picture in the newspaper, as she was the grand champion of bunnies this year, and that’s kind of nifty.

I still need to sand those shelves for my room and repaint them. My room will continue to look like a disaster until I get the shelves in. I should probably work on that today. Tomorrow is veggie share day, so I won’t have any time, since I’ll be packing baskets for customers all day.

Sometimes I just feel like I don’t have the energy it takes to get out of bed and be productive. Dunno. It’s a dreary day.

Some Thoughts

I went to the beach for a week, then spent several days at my dad’s house in Tennessee. In order to do this, I had to leave my rats with my mom and step-dad, who took very good care of them but weren’t willing to hold them or pet them, and certainly not willing to let them out of the cage for any period of time. While I was gone, I worried about my boys the whole time. This was the first time I’ve been away from them since I bought them several months ago.

When I came back, I went straight to see them. Watson eagerly came to the front of the cage to greet me. Sherlock, who is by far more attached to me than Watson is, hung back. I called to him, which he always responds to, and he stuck his head in a hole, clearly ignoring me. So I opened the cage and got Sherlock out, knowing he needed an apology from me.

He sulked at first but after a bit, he perked back up and climbed up on my shoulder to kiss my face and chatter in my ear. Since yesterday, he and I have been visiting and enjoying each other’s presence. After being allowed a couple of hours to run around my room, Sherlock is now happily tuckered out, taking a nap in his cage. I wonder if he has forgotten that I left him so long, or if he forgave me, or if he decided that it’s easier to forget that I hurt him if it means we can have fun together for a while.

If it’s the latter, I know how he feels. But you don’t really forget. You let it go for the time being, but it hangs in the back of your mind. And if it happens over and over, you dwell on it when you’re alone and you don’t know who to be mad at.

I think Sherlock likes me because we’re kindred spirits. Watson and Merlin are different. They’re adaptable and they’ve got each other. They don’t need anyone else. But Sherlock, he doesn’t quite fit with them. He loves them too but they stay apart from him. They sleep cuddled together in the igloo, and Sherlock sleeps outside, under the water bottle. They are excited to see each other. Sherlock is only excited to see me.

When I was twelve, I read The Lord of the Rings. In the first book, Galadriel tells Frodo that “to bear a ring of power is to be alone.” I always thought that sentence was a metaphor. Maybe it meant that being the one to do the right thing, in a world full of cowards, is to be alone. But that’s such a brave thought, and then I thought maybe it meant that some people are just different. Some people are just alone, no matter how much other people love them. And actually, I hated Frodo, I thought he was a wuss. But I knew what it felt like to always be somehow separate.

I went back to that line in the book over and over, and sometimes I cried over it. When I was hurt, I would read it again, and then I would really cry, because it would hit me so hard.

The worst thing is, Frodo never could fix that part of him that had to be alone. He didn’t die, he was just… alone. No Hollywood ending, no false hope for us freakish ring-bearers. I cried about that too, and felt hollow inside when I finished the third book. I never read that last chapter again. I can remember it very clearly, but I only read it one time, even though I read other chapters over and over again. It was too much, I guess.

Not to say that a fantasy story gave me some great revelation about myself, really. I just projected myself onto it.

All of the notebooks I wrote in that year, and a couple of years after, I threw away. I didn’t throw them all away at once. Some I threw away immediately after using them. Others I kept in drawers for years, and I threw away a couple at a time until they were all gone. I read some of them, but hated it so much that I had to get rid of them all.

When I was twelve, I think I was very depressed.

Batgirl Makes Breakfast for Lunch

Yesterday morning, I woke up at noon. I had been dreaming but I suppose I got to the point where I had too much control over my own dreams because I simply woke up with no outside influence at all. Technically, this was not the start of my day because it was a couple more hours before I took any notion of getting up. Finally, at about two in the afternoon, I decided I was hungry. I got out of bed and went to check on my younger brother, Matt, as I hadn’t heard a peep out of him since I woke up. Turned out that he was playing his old Gameboy SP very intently. And this boy is eighteen years old. Anyway, I told him that I’d make him breakfast if he came downstairs, even though it was lunch time, and then I changed into day clothes, choosing my Batgirl t-shirt to show that I was really serious about this breakfast business.

To say that I’m not much of a cook is an understatement, but I’m always making Matt cook things for me because he’s actually good at it, and I just didn’t feel like it was fair to do that again. So I made breakfast while he sat at the table playing Fire Emblem on his Gameboy. I made us each a cup of herbal tea, fried eggs and bacon, toasted hot dog buns, and made instant oatmeal in the microwave. I was proud of all of these accomplishments (aside from the tea, I’ve been capable of fixing tea for a couple of years now). Then Matt and I watched a couple episodes of How I Met Your Mother before I went upstairs to clean my room some more.

The room is still a mess but I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress. I moved some things around so that now I have more floor space and I finally have the rats in a bigger cage, which they seem to love.

Speaking of the rats, I suppose I should update about that vet visit. It turns out that I’m just paranoid, though the vet assured me that Sherlock and Watson are lucky to “have such an attentive mommy,” ha ha. She also told me that they’re indeed both male, which I never had any doubt about (it’s REALLY easy to tell that they’re male). Visit cost me $65, which is not bad at all, except that it turned out that they didn’t really need to go. Better safe than sorry.

I got a third rat (because I need my head examined, I guess). He’s a tiny little chocolate colored fellow with white socks and a white belly. I call him Merlin. So far, he’s a lot more skittish than Sher and Watson were when I first got them, but he’s gradually getting better. Because he’s so little and also because the big boys don’t know him yet, I have him separate from them in the little cage, but I’m hoping to move him into the big one as soon as he gets big enough not to fit through the bars.

Herriot, my spoiled dog, is terribly jealous of the rats. She always gets selfish when I bring a new creature home. I can’t really blame her for being insecure because truthfully, she’s turned just like me. It’s hard to be a creature who’s always worried about whether or not your favorite people really like you. Nonetheless, she did try to get into Merlin’s cage this evening and scared the poor baby half to death. She knew it was wrong too. There’s a look she gets when she’s disobeyed me – I can just see her and know she’s done something bad. I was really angry with her but after scolding her, I decided to let it go and snuggle with her for a while. All she wants is my attention, and I suppose it’s really the least I can do.

I love all of my critters, even when they behave badly. Herriot is such a good, clever girl most of the time, even if she has insecurities. The best way to discipline a dog, I think, is to be firm about it for a bit and then give them some love. A dog is a creature that loves more than any other that I’ve ever met. Still, even love must be closely watched. All beings are capable of doing foolish things in the name of love.