Wow, I just realized how close we are to September. August has flown by, and I'm happy to say that blogging every day hasn't even begun to feel like a chore yet. But we have three days left here together in August, so let's make them count.
Speaking of chores, though, I decided to start cleaning out my room yesterday. I grew up as a complete packrat, saving any little thing that had even the most remote significance simply because I couldn't bare to throw it out. I've been teaching myself not to do that, but old habits die hard. Especially when it comes to books. I have a large bookshelf in my room that is positively overflowing with novels; stacked on top of each other, squeezed in open crevices; some old favorites and other still waiting to be read. Yesterday I forced myself to make a stack of about 20 books I either don't feel any real attachment to, or have had for over a year and know I will probably never actually read. It was difficult, man. And my shelves are still full, even without them.
My closet is a whole different story. I have a bookcase in there as well but it was mostly stuffed full of old school things. Notebooks, binders, textbooks - I can't even begin to explain how amazing it felt to throw that stuff out. The only things that are left now are my books on fiction writing, an atlas, and a few choice reads on the entertainment industry and communication.
Back when I asked for blogging topics on twitter, @aidanthejones wanted to know what I was like at 13. I'm turning 23 in a few months, so let's flash back about 10 years, shall we?
When I was 13, I was in 8th grade. I was still in middle school. I mean, I'm the same Kristina I've always been, but my hobbies and interests were a lot different than they are now, even though it kind of explains how I came to be who I am today. In some ways. Other parts are just confusing.
When I was 13, I was in track. I was never big on sports (especially team sports) but I liked track because it was something social (I thought track meets especially were really fun) but the actual competition was pretty individualized. You competed against other people, yes, but the real competition was with yourself. Improving your time, learning how to make yourself run faster. And as much as I suck at distance running, I was a pretty good sprinter. I was among the best in my grade for girls at the 200m, the 400m, and I was always on the top team for the relays. I don't even really remember what compelled me to do track in middle school (I only did it for 2 years), since it's so out of character for me, but it was a fun and different hobby while it lasted.
Also, I only read the Harry Potter books for the first time when I was 13, so a good portion of this year was spent in other ways. Before I read these books and got into the online fandom, I was much, much more into anime. I was an avid follower of Sailor Moon, Tenchi Muyo, Cardcaptor Sakura, Ah! My Goddess, Rayearth, and I spent a lot of my money trying to afford to buy the DVDs at Suncoast. I also was really into the Japanese style stationary and pens and erasers and things they sold at Morning Glory and Sanrio.
I also, surprisingly, liked to draw when I was about that age, because I loved the anime style so much. I was never very great at it. I usually ended up just drawing copies of pictures that already existed, of Sailor Scouts and of Sakura, mostly. I had a whole notebook of these drawings. My early fanfiction username had the word "Sakura" in it, actually. I'd forgotten that.
Age 13 is also when I first started taking Japanese in school. A bunch of my friends and I were all in it together and honestly, some of my best school memories were in that class. I was a wiz at the Japanese language too, and I wonder sometimes if Harry Potter hadn't taken over my life, if I would have headed in a much different direction, the one I seemed to be going in with my fascination with Japan and its culture.
My best friends at the time were a girl named Heather (also in Japanese with me and part of the group of friends that really liked anime) and a girl named Stephanie. Stephanie was super into the Beatles, and I spent a lot of that year listening to their music and learning all sorts of stuff about them that I'd never known before. I might even equate this to be when I actually started really getting into music, because it was at 13 that I started asking my parents if I could maybe get a guitar. I also still played flute in school; this was before I dropped out.
One of the most cohesive aspects of my friendships in middle school was that all of my friends were writers. I remember a group of four of us creating these characters and roleplaying with them online in a forum I made, until we had enough character development and plot to start writing stories around the characters. We bought four notebooks and each started with a chapter about our own character and then we'd switch, rotating in the same direction so we all were working on each others' stories.
What's funny is that while all my other friends forgot about those characters and that world, I actually used it to write my first NaNoWriMo novel back in 2006. And I am still thankful I had so many friends who were excited about writing in middle school, because I think it played a huge role in my thinking of writing as a fun activity, rather than a chore or something that's boring or solitary.
One thing I am not so proud of, though, is that I don't think I was always a very nice person when I was younger. I cared a lot about what people thought of me. I never had any desire to be popular per se, but I always wanted to at least make sure people didn't think I was a nerd (which is funny, because I clearly was a huge nerd). I liked to be in charge of things. I think I stepped on a lot of people when I was younger to make that happen.
It's interesting, being this far removed from my 13 year old self, to differentiate between how you want to remember yourself (obviously at 13 I thought I was always right) and how you realize now things actually were. I mean, I was a good kid. I didn't really get in any huge trouble when I was younger, at least not with my parents/principal/teachers. But I was a kid who had very specific ideas about how her world worked, what she wanted, and who was cool enough to share those things. I had a really hard time finding friends that thought enough like me, and found myself cycling through new people to hang out with nearly every year (with the exception of Heather, who stuck by my side through nearly everything).
I was definitely a girl who went through a lot of friend problems, and it took me until 11th grade (about age 16) to really find a group of people I melded well with (in drama club, which is why I became a theatre kid [though I did become drama club president so I guess I never stopped needing to be in charge of things]).
So to sum everything up, when I was 13 and in my pre-Harry Potter life, my time was spent mostly in concert band at school, in Japanese class, running track, writing stories with my friends, listening to the Beatles, or watching anime. I wasn't always courteous of other people's feelings. But I put myself on a track to find out who I was and where I belonged, and though it took awhile, I made it there eventually. I have always been a really driven person, but over the years I've learned how to use it for good and to help other people, rather than to just help myself. And reading Harry Potter (later on in the year) really helped me get there.
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