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A Word From the Sage: Life is Like A Jar of Jellybeans
* * *
Hey it’s me! Asian Persuasion, here to dish out whatever you need when you need it. Ever need some personality analysis? Get at me. Any doubts about drama? I’m your person. Advice for some horrendously embarrassing situations? I can be your guide. Trust me—you know me by my name!
* * *
I held the fresh issue in my hands with a satisfied smirk. Wisdom like this couldn’t have been anymore well placed than in a B-status high school newspaper like this, right? I tried to convince myself that this was the case, but apparently my mind felt that life sucked more than worthy of fantasizing.
One look at the newspaper room was evident of that. It was mostly dismal with a chance of rain, to say the least. Cubicles lined against the walls, filled with work space for the writers to create “magic”. Mine was just a burst of color, and I knew if I walked there hopefully the brightness of the color would rub off on my attitude.
Right next to my cubicle, I saw a girl’s face pop up, pointing to me with a beckoning finger, “Cassidy Adams. You, girl with the face.”
Bree Holland. Breezie, she much preferred though. Her dramatic red hair not only matched her personality, but also her line of work here. Bree was the head of the drama news, which was probably the easiest job since she was the head of drama...everything in this school. Plays, debate team, musicals—she was the star.
I, however, was not. When I first signed up for newspaper, the stupid editor-in-chief gave me the oh-so exciting opportunity to write for the sake of cafeteria food. It would’ve been cool...if our school’s food didn’t look like it was scooped out of a dog’s butt each week. Ever since then, I’ve had that lousy topic of a column; but having endured those long days of writers-torture, I finally gained enough respect to choose my own topic. Everyone agreed, but the current editor, however, did not. Prat.
Carelessly, I tossed my copy of the paper on the large desk in the middle and walked over to Bree’s space. Her area was filled with a plethora of beads and candles—which I sure was definitely a fire hazard.
“Ok, read this!” Breezie’s basically grappled my body and mashed her laptop into my face. I didn’t even bother reading, for she always read it out like a dramatic script. “And like a turbulent storm of thunder, the curtains dropped with the intensity of a thousand raging winds. Good, huh?!”
“It’s uh, definitely an eye catcher.”
“Point exactly, my friend.” Bree swiveled her chair with extra gusto at my approval. “There’s no use in putting yourself out there without leaving an impression, as my great diva grandma would say.”
I doubted she had a ‘great diva grandma’. People only mentioned posterity to sound legitimate most of the times.
“Hopefully my new thing will leave a mark,” My teeth chattered with nerves of excitement. For once, I was starting anew—being reborn, newspaper style. New material, new possibilities! This column would be good. I’ve had quite an array of high school experiences deeming my expertise credible. I just hoped that I could answer questions that the readers had for me. I was more of a gradual speaker, rather than an abrupt answerer.
Oh well, either way it will be awesome.
“Oh yes, today’s the big debut right?” Bree inquired, lighting a candle that was giving off the strangest sparks. “You’re a brilliant writer. I’m sure it will pass auditions!”
Although she used theatric terms as daily vocabulary, I was flattered by the compliment nonetheless. “Thanks Breezie, just printed my own copy and I have to say I have a pretty good feeling—”
“What in the world is this?” A stern voice interrupted quite deliberately, the sound of paper ripping after that. I instantly knew who the person was, and could feel his contemptuous stare on my figure despite the fact that my back was to him.
Derrick (Mack) McKenzie, current editor-in-chief, and all around jerk-off ever. He was only a junior, a year older than me. And still, he felt the need to bash every sophomores’ dream like we were dumb toddlers. Superiority complex that boy had. And it had me miffed out of my mind.
“It’s called paper McKenzie,” I called back in an unsmiling expression. “And it sounds like you killed an already dead tree. Good work.”
“Not the paper, Adams.” His voice sounded even more ticked off up close, which he was surprisingly. He came up behind me, and even got a peek into Breezie’s little haven of candles. “Bree, do you want this room to blow up?”
“For your information, Mack, the labels say Yankee Candle, not Atomic Bomb.”
He shook his head as though it were already a lost cause. It was a victory for Bree, but the happiness soon left when he looked straight on at me.
“Is there any particular reason you call yourself the ‘Asian Persuasion’?” Mack asked with an eyebrow raise. For a “responsible” and “courteous” editor-in-chief, he really knew how to piss me off.
I didn’t care if he was the towering boss of the paper. I had enough of unnecessary crap from the previous editors, and I didn’t need it for this year. I finally had a chance to head a popular column, and he just loved the idea of taking me down.
“Recent statistics show that people base their trust on cultures—Asians being the primary first choice.” I belted out intellectually. However, not very accurate.
“That’s a load of bull and you know it.” Mack refuted with an eye roll, towering over me the next minute. “You’re not even Asian.”
“The readers don’t have to know that.” It was a catchy name, and certainly would attract my attentions to the column if I were just a regular student at Harrison Academy. Well, that didn’t really give it any credibility. Most people thought I had the taste of a ninny hammer.
“Yeah, but I’ll be the one tossing and turning in his bed, thinking of you giving Asians a bad name with your pointless column,” Mack persisted, staring me with a pointed look. “You’d be doing them quite an injustice.”
“Racist.” I growled, glaring. “You don’t appreciate my cleverness whatsoever.”
“I’m not racist.” he emphasized, and I knew he was serious. It was fun to push his buttons just as much as he pushed mine. “If that ‘cleverness’ isn’t the nonexistent kind, then show it. Change the name.”
He didn’t even wait for a response from me—he left with a pile of papers in his hands and dutifully returned to his table.
“Anger. Passion.” Bree said wistfully to herself. “He’d make a good actor.”
“I’d be more impressed if he were actually a good editor.”
“Hey, it’s just the first issue.” Bree commented. “Give it time. I’m sure not all the editors were meant to hate on you. Previous and present.”
“Gee thanks.” I’m cursed.
* * *
Even though it took about twenty minutes to pluck up the courage, I did so and attempted to achieve the impossible: confront the editor-in-chief like a professional.
Mostly endeavors such as this ended in a long chain of PMS-ing irritation. Oh well, it wasn’t as though we hadn’t recovered from little spats like this. If my whole prepared speech didn’t go as planned, then I could always try again...and then possibly be shut down repeatedly.
Thoughts aside, I lightly knocked on the door on the wall opposite the cubicles. After a couple knocks, I heard silence, and then a terse announcement. “Come in.”
Before stepping in, I took a breath and fixed my hair. Wait, why on earth was I fixing myself? I was talking to a cranky editor, not British rock star. Shaking my head at myself, I walked into the decent room, met with the sight of a desk, and a chair’s back faced to my front.
The chair turned at the intrusion, and suddenly I was face to face with him. To be honest, his face looked a tad bit surprised, seen from his wondering green eyes. Probably because I was the sort of person who would rather converse with a defecating ape than this guy right here.
“Cassidy Adams.” His voice took a sly journey upon saying my name. “What brings you here?”
Ok, I had to have my wits about me and just say it. By the way Derrick was studying me intently, I could tell he was just as interested to find out why I had come in unprecedentedly. “Well, um...I...”
“Next time you just barge in here, think before you speak,” He looked at me with that agitating condescending stare again. “Otherwise, try not to waste my time.”
“You see, that’s your problem!” I exploded. Ok, so not part of my ‘Let’s-Be-Mature-Adults’ speech.
“My problem?” he repeated, now with a tone of offense. He’s probably never been spoken to with such contempt equal to his. Well well, welcome to hell buddy.
“Yes!” I planted my hands on my hips in a furious manner. “Admit it, the only reason you loathe my column is because of your...your...superciliousness! And racism!”
Granted, I was starting to get irrational. But who cares?
“First of all Adams, I’m not racist,” he responded crossly, running a hand through his dark hair. “Secondly, ‘superciliousness’? Nice word. How long did it take you to research that one on thesaurus.com?”
“Gah! Impossible!” I couldn’t believe I was actually working with such a person. He was truthfully ridiculous. And I’ve seen ridiculous, believe me.
“Ok, ok, calm down.”
“I will not!”
“Seriously. You’ll thank me.” Derrick chuckled. Chuckled! This was not a funny moment—I was positively irate! For a second he turned his chair around, only to grab something on his desk to present to me. “Remember this?”
I snatched the folder he held out to me, opening it carefully as though it were rigged with a time bomb. Instead, it was stuffed with a few papers stapled together. On top of the first packet was a cover page, labeled, ‘Life is like A Box of Jellybeans.
“Wait, I wrote this.” Because newspaper group was such a popular club, the principal actually made it a rule to have potential members join after the approval of a required essay. Albeit my essays were dumb during junior high, I was always invited back into the group. This one, however, was the first essay I wrote for try outs. “Life is like a box of jellybeans...”
“‘Each small piece is like a memory bursting with flavor.’” he finished the quote to my surprise. Initially I thought it sounded like a stupid fortune from a cookie; but the way he said it made it sound as sagacious as the Old Testament. “It’s not that I don’t like your column, Adams. I just think your could make it...quirkier.”
I smiled. “You think I’m quirky?”
“I didn’t say that.”
My smile instantly faded into a scowl.
“I’m just saying, you write well when you’re telling stories.” Derrick said in complete honesty. My ears felt like they were being duped from not hearing an ounce of sarcasm from his tone. “So don’t be this ‘Asian Persuasion’ or give clichéd advice. You’ll lose the audience easily. Just tell them what you’d normally tell them...and be amusing. None of that crabby stuff you’re always blabbing.”
Well that gave me a lot to think about. Even if he just praised and insulted me all in the same breath, my head felt a lot lighter. Slowly, I gave back the folder and smirked with an eye roll before leaving. “Always the charmer, aren’t you McKenzie.”
Shutting the door behind me, I wandered over to my work space, seating myself in front of the bright computer screen of my laptop. As much as I hated to admit it, Derrick was actually right. I was a storyteller.
But the way he pointed out that my stories gave advice as good as any old columnist gave me hope. Perhaps there was still ample chance for this column to be great. Quirkier, he said. If it’s quirky he wants, quirky is what he’ll get.
Thoughtfully, I sat in my chair, twirling a chunk of curly hair with my fingers in hopes of inspiration. Only after a few moments I was satisfied. I opened a new document on my desktop, and started typing. This time, I felt so much more at ease.
* * *
Dear Avid Victims of My Seemingly Endless Wisdom,
You may not know who I am, but know this: I am a person with a background of tales; Tales of an embarrassing and sometimes even cautionary status. But isn’t that where we realize the lesson? Through humiliating experiences and whatnot? Although most people strive to be perfect, I strive to make mistakes. And for the past years, I’ve been doing one heck of a job making my life a complete circus and a half. Hopefully through a cryptic re-telling of my stories, you’ll make something of it. Someone who was man enough to tell me himself certainly did. So, what’s your flavor of the month? Drama, romance, shame, chaos? I have plenty to share. Trust me.
Yours ‘Til the Ink Runs Dry,