Thought Catalog


22 Weird Ways You Know You’re (Kind Of) An Actual Grownup

Posted: 04 Feb 2016 08:00 PM PST

Red Dress
Red Dress

1. You honestly don’t care whether someone went to a "good" school or has a "good" job. Instead, you care whether or not they’re a quality human who can make you laugh and stuff like that.

2. When evaluating potential life mates, you focus on their actual strengths instead of fixating on superficial traits like height, weight, breast size, butt shape, or bicep circumference. (At least, you take their actual strengths into serious consideration.)

3. You're less likely to get blackout drunk because you know that drinking your face off leads to being massively hungover and you'd rather not waste an entire day recuperating.

4. You're more risk averse in general—not because you’re boring but because you’re no longer totally reckless. You’re suddenly aware that your actions have consequences, and that you’re not actually invincible.

5. That said, you know that letting loose is critical to leading a happy, fulfilling life. So you do get too drunk sometimes, and you might push a boundary here and there. The difference is that your spontaneity is rooted in mindfulness to a certain extent.

6. You no longer entertain silly wish-I-were-a-super-model thoughts because you're relatively comfortable with the looks you've got.

7. Plus, you know that being super model beautiful wouldn’t fix your problems. Gisele grade looks might even lead to a few additional headaches in life.

8. You also realize that being hot wouldn’t make you good in bed, or guarantee mind-blowing sex.

9. Great sex is something you've finally figured out, and it mostly hinges upon chemistry, confidence, and comfort—not friction from two six-packs rubbing against each other.

10. You don't give two shits about what is or isn’t "trendy.” You’d rather invest in a timeless piece of clothing than fall for something of-the-moment like an “it” bag.

11. You're pretty much over high-end labels and all clothes and accessories splattered with insignia. In fact, you kind of feel like a fool for letting Abercrombie & Fitch, Juicy Couture or any other brand exploit your chest and ass as advertising space in years past.

12. The novelty and excitement of getting ready to go out at night has almost entirely worn off. The "going out" section of your wardrobe no longer really exists because you tend to rock your everyday gear to hang out with friends no matter the setting.

13. You rarely fight with any of your siblings because you’ve grown to appreciate them for exactly who they are as individuals. You even lean on them for advice, especially when it comes to dealing with your parents.

14. When they're not driving you nuts, you feel sincerely grateful to your parents for sacrificing so much on your behalf and for dealing with all of your crap over the years.

15. You actually want to brush your teeth regularly, sometimes even more than twice a day.

16. When it comes to skincare, you're more proactive than reactive. In other words, you wash your face and apply special creams to offset aging, not just to combat zits.

17. You finally understand why dry shampoo is so amazing.

18. You’re also a big fan of hats, headbands, pigtails and any other clever method of avoiding the tedium of hair washing for one more day.

19. You schedule your own annual physicals and dental checkups without prompting from mom or dad. Usually.

20. You count yourself a master of calendar reminders. You’ve also made it a point to start showing up to all your appointments instead of flaking at the last minute because it suddenly seems super important not to be rude or unreliable.

21. On Sunday afternoons, you find yourself wondering what will be on 60 Minutes later. You’re also partial to the educational programming on channels like History, Discovery, and National Geographic.

22. You finally see the value in saving some money because the future doesn’t seem all that distant anymore. You plan to start setting a certain percentage of each paycheck aside like your parents taught you some time really soon, maybe even now-ish. TC mark

There Is A Place On The Mountain Called ‘Borrasca’ Where People Go To Disappear

Posted: 04 Feb 2016 07:15 PM PST

via Flickr - Eric Kilby
via Flickr – Eric Kilby

It's a long story, but one you've never heard before. This story is about a place that dwells on the mountain; a place where bad things happen. And you may think you know about the bad things, you may decide you have it all figured out but you don't. Because the truth is worse than monsters or men.

At first I was upset when they told me we were moving to some little town out in the Ozarks. I remember staring at my dinner plate while I listened to my sister throw a temper tantrum unbefitting of a 14 year old honors student. She cried, she pleaded, and then she cursed at my parents. She threw a bowl at my dad and told him it was all his fault. Mom told Whitney to calm down but she stormed off, slamming every door in the house on the way to her room.

I secretly blamed my dad as well. I'd heard the whispers too, my dad had done something wrong, something bad and the sheriff's department had reassigned him to some little out of the way county to save face. My parents didn't want me to know that, but I did.

I was nine so it didn't take me too long to warm to the idea of a change; it was like an adventure. New house! New school! New friends! Whitney, of course, felt the opposite. Moving to a new school at her age is hard, moving away from her new boyfriend, however, was even harder. While the rest of us packed up our things and said our goodbyes, Whitney sulked and cried and threatened to run away from home. But a month later when we pulled up to our new house in Drisking, Missouri she was sitting right next me texting viciously on her phone.

Thankfully, we moved over the summer and I had months of free time to explore the town. When Dad started his new job at the sheriff's office, Mom drove us around the city commenting on this and that. The city was much, much smaller than St. Louis but also a lot nicer. There were no 'bad' areas and the entire town looked like something you'd see on a post card. Drisking was built in a mountain valley surrounded by healthy forest land with walking trails and crystal clear lakes. I was 9, it was summer and this was in heaven.

We'd only been living in Drisking a week or so when our next door neighbors came to introduce themselves: Mr. and Mrs. Landy and their 10 year old son Kyle. While our parents talked and drank mimosas, I watched the Landy's lanky, red-headed son hung out in the doorway, shyly eyeing the PS2 in the living room.

"Uh, do you play?" I asked.

He shrugged. "Not really."

"Do you wanna? I just got Tekken 4."

"Um…" Kyle glanced at his mom, who had just been handed her third mimosa. "Yeah. Sure."

And that afternoon, with the ease and simplicity of our age, Kyle and I became best friends. We spent the cool summer mornings outside exploring the Ozarks and the hot afternoons in my living room playing the PS2. He introduced me to the only other kid in the neighborhood our age: a skinny, quiet girl named Kimber Destaro. She was shy but friendly and always up for anything. Kimber kept up with us so well that she quickly became the third wheel on our tricycle.

With my dad at work all the time, my mom consumed with her new friendships, and my sister locked in her room all day, the summer was ours to take and take it we did. Kyle and Kimber showed me where all the best hiking trails were, which lakes were the best (and most accessible by bike), and where the best stores were in town. By the time the first day of school rolled around in September I knew I was home.

On the last Saturday before school started, Kyle and Kimber told me they were going to take me somewhere special, somewhere we hadn't been yet – the Triple Tree.

"What's a 'triple tree'?" I asked.

"It's a totally awesome, totally huge treehouse out in the woods." Kyle said excitedly.

"Pfft, whatever, Kyle. Come on, you guys, if there was a freakin' treehouse you would have showed it to me already."

"Na-uh, we wouldn't've," Kyle shook his head. "There's a ceremony for first-timers and everything."

Kimber nodded eagerly in agreement, her dark orange curls bouncing off of her tiny shoulders. "Yep, it's true Sam. If you enter the treehouse without the proper ceremony you'll disappear and then you'll die."

My face fell. Now I knew they were making fun of me. "That's a lie! You guys are lying to me!"

"No we're not!" Kimber insisted.

"Yeah, we'll show you! We just have to get a knife for the ceremony and we'll go."

"What? Why do you need a knife? Is it a blood ceremony?" I whispered.

"No way!" Kimber promised. "You just say some words and carve your name into the Triple Tree."

"Yup, it takes like one minute." Kyle agreed.

"And it's a really cool treehouse?" I asked.

"Oh yeah." Kyle promised.

"Okay, I guess I'll do it then."

Kyle insisted on using the same knife he used during his own ceremony but we paid a price to get it. Mrs. Landy just happened to be home with her youngest son Parker and despite Kyle's many objections his mother insisted he take his six year old brother with him.

"Mom, we're going to the treehouse, it's only for older kids. Parker can't go!"

"I don't care if you're going to see an Exorcist movie marathon, you're taking your brother with you. I need a break, Kyle, can't you understand that? And I'm sure your friends won't mind." She flashed Kimber and me a challenging look. "Right?"

"No, not at all," Kimber said and I nodded in agreement.

Kyle made a loud, dramatic sigh and called his brother. "Parker, put your shoes on, we're leaving now!"

I'd met the youngest Landy several times before and found that he was as unlike his older brother in looks as in disposition. Where Kyle was a wild, excitable fireball with hair to match, I found Parker to be an anxious, fidgety boy with small eyes and dark brown hair.

We got on our bikes and made our way to a lesser known hiking trail a few miles away. I'd asked before where the trail led when we'd ridden across it several weeks before and Kyle had given me the underwhelming answer of "nowhere interesting".

We pulled up to trail head and leaned our bikes against the wooden sign post which read "West Rim Prescott Ore Trail".

"Why are so many trails around here named Prescott?" I asked. "Is this Prescott Mountain or something?"

Kimber laughed. "No, dummy, it's because of the Prescott's. You know, the family that lives in the mansion up on Fairmont. Mr. Prescott and his son Jimmy own like half the businesses in town."

"More than half," Kyle agreed.

"Which ones? Does he own the Game Stop?" The only store in Drisking I really cared about.

"I don't know about that one," Kyle wound a lock around the 4 bikes and clicked the bar into place, then spun the numbers on the dial. "But like the hardware store, the pharmacy, Gliton's on 2nd and the newspaper."

"The Skinned Men," Parker answered. "And the Shiny Gentleman."

"Did they start this town?" I asked.

"Nah, mining started the town. I think they-"

"I want to go home." Parker had been so quiet I'd completely forgotten he was there.

"You can't go home," Kyle rolled his eyes. "Mom said I had to bring you. Now come on, it's only like a two mile walk."

"I wanna take my bike." Parker answered.

"Too bad, we're going off trail."

"I don't wanna go. I'll stay with the bikes."

"Don't be such a wussy."

"I'm not!"

"Kyle, be nice!" Kimber hissed. "He's only 5."

"I'm 6!" Parker objected.

"I'm sorry, 6. You're 6." Kimber smiled at him.

"Alright fine, he can hold your hand if he wants. But he's coming." Kyle turned and started up the trail.

Parker's face fell into an undignified frown but when the charming Kimber stuck her hand out and wiggled her fingers at him, he took it.

Kyle was right, it wasn't a long walk – only a half mile down the trail and then another half mile hike on a well tread path up the mountain. It was a steep climb though, and by the time we got to the treehouse, I was winded.

"What do you think?" Kyle asked excitedly.

"It's…" I studied the tree as I caught my breath. "It's pretty awesome," I smiled. And it was. They hadn't lied to me, the treehouse was the biggest one I'd ever seen. It had multiple rooms and there were actual curtains in the windows. A sign above the door said 'Ambercot Fort' and a rope ladder hung below the threshold, missing several planks.

"I'm going up first!" Yelled Parker, but Kimber caught his arm.

"You have to do the ceremony first or you'll disappear." She reminded him.

"That'd be fine with me," Kyle grumbled.

via Flickr - waferboard
via Flickr – waferboard

I was eager to get into the fort myself. "Give me the knife." I held out my hand and Kyle smiled and dug the switchblade out of his pocket.

"There's some space in the back to carve your name."

I opened up the knife and walked around the tree looking for an empty spot. They were so many names on the trunk that I had to crunch down and look search near the bottom since I couldn't reach any higher. I spotted both Kyle and Kimber's carvings on the tree and I found a spot I liked near the latter. I bit my tongue and carved Sam W. into a blank piece of bark underneath someone named Phil S. Parker went next but had so much trouble with the knife that Kyle ended up doing it for him.

"Alright, let's go," I ran over to the rope ladder.

"Wait!" Kyle yelled. "You have to say the words first."

"Oh yeah. What are they?"

Kimber sang them out. "Underneath the Triple Tree there is a man who waits for me and should I go or should I stay my fate's the same either way."

"That's…creepy." I said. "What does it mean?"

Kimber shrugged. "No one knows anymore, it's just tradition."

"Okay, can you say it one more time, slower?"

Once Parker and I had managed to recite the poem without forgetting the words we were ready to go. I climbed the rope ladder first and took stock of my new surroundings. The treehouse was more or less empty, just a dirty rug here and there and some trash: old soda cans, beer cans and fast food wrappers.

I went room to room – four in total – and found nothing of real interest until I entered the last one. An old mattress lay in the corner and piles of musty, ripped clothing scattered the floor.

"Did a hobo live here?" I asked.

"Nah, this room has been like this for as long as I can remember." Kyle said from the doorway behind me.

"It smells gross." I said.

via Flickr - David han
via Flickr – David Han

Kimber walked up to the threshold but refused to go any further. "It's not the smell that freaks me out – it's that." She pointed up to the ceiling and I raised my eyes to read what was written there.

Road to the Gates of Hell

Mile Marker 1

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"It's just older kids being dicks," Kyle said. "Come on, I'll show you the best part of the treehouse."

We walked back into the first room and Parker looked up at us and smiled, pointing down to what he'd clumsily carved into the wooden floor.

"Fart," Kyle read. "That's hilarious, Parker." He rolled his eyes and his little brother smiled proudly.

Kimber sat down on the floor next to Parker and I sat on his other side. Kyle took the knife from his brother and then walked across the room and wedged the blade between two planks of the wooded wall. He applied a slight pressure and the board gave, opening up a small, secret compartment in the wall. Kyle took something out and pushed the plank back in until it was again flush with the wall.

"Check it out." He turned around and proudly held up two cans of Miller Lite beer.

"Whoa!" I said.

"Ewww, warm beer? That's gross. How did you even know it was there?" Kimber asked.

"Phil Saunders told me."

"Are we gonna drink it?" I asked.

"Hell yeah we're gonna drink it!"

Kyle came and sat down in our circle, popped open the first beer and offered it to Kimber. She recoiled as if he was trying to hand her a dirty diaper.

"Come on, Kimmy."

"Don't call me that!" She yelled at him and then reluctantly took the open beer. She smelled it and made a face, then pinched her nose and took a small swig. Kimber shuddered. "That was even grosser than I imagined."

"I don't want any! I'll tell mom!" Parker said quickly as the beer passed in front of him.

"Good, 'cause you ain't getting any," Kyle promised. "And you won't tell mom shit."

I put on my best poker face and took a long, deep swallow of the warm beer before I had the chance to smell it. It was a poor decision and when I wretched, the foul yellow liquid went all over my shirt.

"Aww man, now I'm gonna smell like beer."

We spent the next hour and a half drinking the two cans of Miller Lite and after a while the taste seemed to grow more tolerable. I couldn't tell if I was becoming a man or actually getting drunk. I hoped it was the former. When the last drop of the last beer was consumed we spent 20 minutes trying to determine if we were drunk. Kyle assured us that he was wasted while Kimber wasn't sure. I didn't think I was, but I failed all of our makeshift drunk tests.

Kimber was in the middle of reciting the alphabet backwards when a loud, metallic grinding suddenly pierced the balmy mountain air like a gunshot. Kimber stopped talking and we spent a few minutes staring at each other, waiting for the noise to end. Parker curled into Kimber and put his hands over his ears. After what seemed like ten whole minutes the sound ended as suddenly as it had begun.

"What was that?" I asked and Parker mumbled something into Kimber's t-shirt.

"Do you guys know?" I tried again.

Kimber stared at her Keds as she crossed and uncrossed her feet.

"Well?"

"It's nothing," Kyle answered finally. "We hear it sometimes in town, it's not a big deal. It's just louder up here."

"But what's making that sound?"

"Borrasca." Kimber whispered without taking her eyes off her Keds.

"Who's that?" I asked.

"Not who – where." Kyle answered. "It's a place."

"Another town?"

"No, just a place in the woods."

"Oh."

"Bad things happen there," Kimber said more to herself than anyone else.

"Like what?"

"Bad things." Kimber repeated.

"Yeah, don't ever try to find it, dude." Kyle said behind me. "Or bad things will happen to you, too."

"But like, what bad things?" Kyle shrugged and Kimber stood up and walked over to the rope ladder.

"We'd better go. I have to get home to my mom," she said.

We climbed down the ladder one by one and then started the walk back to the trail head in an unfamiliar silence. I was dying of curiosity about Borrasca but couldn't decide if and what to ask about it.

"So, who lives there?"

"Where?" Kyle asked.

"Borrasca."

"The Skinned Men," Parker answered. "And the Shiny Gentleman."

"Pfft," Kyle laughed. "Only babies believe that."

"Like men who are skinned? Like their skin is gone?" I asked excitedly.

"Yeah, that's what some kids say. Most of us stop believing in that, though, when we turn double digits." Kyle said and shot an exasperated look at Parker.

I looked back at Kimber for confirmation but she was still staring down the trail ignoring us. That seemed to be the end of the conversation and by the time we reached our bikes the awkwardness had abated and we were giggling as we tried to decide if we were too drunk to bike home.

School started two days later and by that time I'd completely forgotten about Borrasca. When my dad pulled up to the curb to drop me off that morning he locked the doors before I could get out.

"Not so fast," he laughed. "As your father I get the privilege of giving you a hug and telling you to have a good first day of school."

"But Dad, I gotta go meet Kyle by the flag before first bell!"

"And you will, but give me a hug first. In a few years you'll be driving yourself to school, let me be your dad while I still can."

"Fine." I said and leaned over to give my dad a quick hug.

"Thank you. Now go meet Kyle. Your mom will be waiting here to pick you up at 3:40."

"I know, Dad. Why can't I take the bus like Whitney?"

"When you're 13, you can take the bus." He smiled and unlocked the doors. "Until then, I get to drop you off in the mornings. If you think it'd make you look cooler you can ride in the back seat behind the cage."

"Dad…just don't." I threw open the door of his cruiser before he could say anything more and slammed the door on his amused laughter.

Kyle was already waiting for me at the flag pole with Kimber looking around nervously. "Dude, you almost missed the bell!" He yelled when he saw me.

"I know, sorry."

"Whose class are you in?" Kimber asked. She was wearing a red sweater and leggings with frogs on them. Her curly orange hair was brushed into ringlets and her lips were pink and shiny. She'd never looked more feminine and I was surprised to realize I'd never really seen Kimber as a girl.

"Ah, Mr. Diamond's."

"Me too!" She said cheerfully.

"Lucky," Kyle scoffed. "I'm in Mrs. Tverdy's. Only two 6th grade teachers and I get the crappy one."

Kimber grimaced. "Yeah, my mom had her when she was a kid."

"What's wrong with her? What did your mom say?"

"Just that she's strict and gives out homework on the weekends."

"On the weekends? Fuck!"

"Excuse me, Mr. Landy?" I immediately recognized the tall man that had suddenly appeared behind the white-faced Kyle.

"So-Sorry, sir. I meant 'dang'."

Kimber giggled.

"I'm sure you did." He nodded.

"Hi, Sheriff Clery." Even though I'd only met him a few times I liked my dad's boss and I think he liked me.

"Well hello, Sammy, are you excited for your first day?" Sheriff Clery crossed his arms in front of him and widened his stance imposingly, but gave me a wide smile.

"Yes sir!" I said. And then added lamely, "What are you doing here?"

"I'm giving a presentation to the 3rd and 4th graders about safety when walking to and from school."

"Yeah, he gives it every year." Kyle muttered.

"Cool," I smiled.

Sheriff Clery nodded at me and then turned and walked away. I turned to Kimber to find an empty space that smelled slightly of strawberries.

"Where's Kimber?"

"She took off. She is annoyingly on time to everything." And as if to illustrate his point, the bell rang. We both ran up the stairs and inside the doors.

I walked into class and smiled when I saw that Kimber had saved me a spot next to her at the back. Mr. Diamond, a short, round man of 40 or so nodded at me when I came in.

"Mr. Walker, I presume?"

"Um, yeah, that's me." I mumbled as I rushed past him to the desk next to Kimber.

"Welcome to Drisking Elementary. And for the rest of you, welcome back. Go Grizzlies!"

The class echoed a reluctant and subdued "go grizzlies".

Throughout the morning Kimber introduced me to the other kids in our class. Most of them were nice, if sort of underwhelmed by me. They said their hellos and asked where I was from and the conversations usually ended with an unimpressed "okay".

A group of girls who sat near the front, snuck looks at us all morning and snickered to themselves. I asked Kimber who they were and she just shrugged. During our second break they managed to accost me at the pencil sharpener.

"Are you friends with Kimber Destaro?" A tall, dark-haired girl asked me.

"Yeah," I answered and looked over at Kimber. She was watching me with worried eyes.

"Are you related to her?"

"No."

"I didn't think so because you don't have orange hair." I didn't know what to say to that.

"You don't have to be friends with her, you know," said the second girl with the oddly round face.

"I wanna be friends with her."

A third girl lurking behind the other two snorted. She had pretty auburn hair and a rude, upturned nose.

"Well, if you do you're going to be very unpopular here," the first girl warned. "And once you're in that group you can't ever leave it."

"Better than the bitch group." I said. Rude Nose and Round Face gasped but Dark Hair smiled.

"We'll see," she said and the three returned to their corner of the class room and continued whispering to each other. I sat back down next to Kimber and continued what I'd been writing as if nothing had happened.

"What did they say to you?" Kimber asked nervously.

"They said you're too pretty to be near them and that you make them look ugly in comparison. They'd like us to stay away from them."

"Liar," Kimber answered, but I could hear the smile in her voice.

We met Kyle in the cafeteria at lunch and listened to him artfully complain about his morning. Mrs. Tverdy was ancient and cruel and she'd made every kid in class stand up and say something about themselves even though her room consisted of only 14 kids who'd all known each other since pre-school.

When the bell rang for recess Kyle and I walked over to throw our lunches away. I threw the tray on top of the can and turned around slamming into some kid I'd never seen before.

"Oh, sorry," I mumbled as Kyle laughed at me.

"Wait, are you Sam Walker?" The kid asked.

"Yeah."

"Oh. Your sister is dating my brother."

"Oh man!" Kyle laughed. "Your sister is dating a Whitiger!"

"Shut up, Kyle." The kid snapped.

"She's gonna be Whitney Whitiger!"

As funny as it was I couldn't help but be a little surprised. Not that I'd been paying much attention but I'd only seen Whitney out of her room a couple of times over the entire summer.

"Um, where did she meet him?" I asked the Whitiger kid.

"I dunno. Probably at his job."

"His job where?"

"He works at Drisking Water."

It didn't make any sense to me but I shrugged it off. I did remember my mom giving Whitney some menial tasks like getting the car washed and setting up some utilities to get her out of the house. Maybe she met him once and they started dating over text. Teenagers were weird.

The rest of the school week followed much like the first day. We were well into the first month before I heard someone mention the Skinned Men again. We were out on the playground and Kyle and I were trying to start a fire with two large wood chips. I'd just given myself a splinter when the distant sound of metal grinding on metal flooded onto the playground, silencing every one of us.

"Borrasca," I said in awe.

"Yep," said Phil Saunders. "The Skinned Men kill again."

"Kyle said only little kids believed in Skinned Men." I threw an accusatory look at Kyle.

"They do! Phil is just stupid."

"Screw you! Why don't you ask Danielle, she's seem them." Phil scanned the playground and then yelled at a blonde girl talking to Rude Nose. "Hey, Danielle, come here!"

The blonde girl rolled her eyes but came skipping over anyway. "What do you want? I already told you Kayla doesn't like you, Phillip."

"No, tell them about the Skinned Men." Phil gestured to the air around us which was filled with the metallic scraping coming down from the mountain.

"Why don't you tell them."

"Because you saw them and I didn't."

"I didn't see them, Paige saw them."

"Oh." Phil said and an uncomfortable silence descended.

"You guys are weird," Danielle said before flipping her hair in our faces and leaving.

"Who's Paige?" I asked when she'd gone.

"Her sister," Phil said.

"Paige disappeared when we were like 5." Kyle said.

"After she saw the Skinned Men," Phil added.

The sounds from the mountain abruptly ended and the subdued atmosphere of the playground disappeared with it. When the bell rang we lined up with our respective classes. Since Phil was in my class, I made sure I was behind him. The teachers began to count us off.

"Hey, what else do you know about Borrasca?" I whispered to him.

"My brother said that's where people go when they disappear. To Borrasca to meet the Shiny Gentleman."

"What happens to them there?"

"Bad things," he said, and then shushed me when I asked him what he meant.

The year dragged on and it wasn't until Christmas break that I heard the machine at Borrasca again. It was December and there was a thick blanket of snow on the ground which only served to amplify the noise from the mountain. I sat in my room listening to it for a few minutes trying to decide what was happening in the place that bad things happen. I saw my dad's cruiser pull up out the window and went down stairs to meet him. As I passed my sister's door I heard her giggling in that annoying, teenage girl way and I cringed. I hoped Kimber never got like that.

"Hi Dad," I said to him as he opened the door. My dad stomped the snow off his boots and smiled up at me.

"Sammy! How many years has it been?" He joked.

It was true I hadn't seen much of my dad lately since he was working so much. Doing what, I didn't know since this was the quietest, lamest town ever. Mom thought the Sheriff was grooming dad for his job since Clery was so old and Dad never really agreed or disagreed with her. He'd only been at the department seven months, after all, and my dad doubted people in the county would vote for him.

"Feels like about six this time!" I laughed. "But, um, do you hear that noise in the distance? That like machine-sounding noise?"

"Yep! I hear it in town every now and then, too."

"Do you know what it is?"

"You know I asked the Sheriff that same question and he told me that noise is coming from private property up in the Ozarks."

via Flickr - Adam Bartlett
via Flickr – Adam Bartlett

"Is the property called Borrasca?" I asked quickly.

"I have no idea. Borrasca? Where'd you hear that?"

I shrugged. "Kids at my school."

"Well, it's nothing to worry about, Sammy, probably just some logging equipment."

"But is the place called Borrasca? Like have you heard that name before?"

"No, I have not heard that name before." Dad pulled his boots off and shrugged off his coat, looking toward the kitchen. I could tell I was losing him.

"Have you ever heard of the Skinned Men?" I asked quickly.

"Skinned Men? Good god, Sam. Is your sister telling you these stories?"

"No." But he wasn't listening to me anymore.

"Whitney!" He yelled up the stairs.

"No, Dad, Whitney doesn't even talk to me." I repeated.

I heard a door creak open upstairs and Whitney peered over the railing, phone in hand and an annoyed look on her face

"Are you trying to scare your brother?" Dad demanded.

"Dad, no." I said again.

Whitney shot me a venomous look. "Ugh, seriously? As if I'd waste my time."

"You aren't telling him stories about 'Skinned Men'?"

"No, Dad, I told you I heard it at school," I said.

Whitney gestured to me as if to say 'see?'

"Alright, well you kids really need to start getting along anyway. You're family for Christ's sake." Whitney rolled her eyes and when Dad walked into the kitchen she stuck her tongue out at me.

"Real mature, Whitney!" I yelled up at her but she was already gone. "I'll tell Dad about your boyfriend!"

Christmas came and went with surprising smoothness at our house. Whitney and I got almost everything we'd had on our lists, which was a first for us. The town may be smaller but Dad's paychecks were clearly bigger.

I wore my new Ram's parka on the first day back to school after Christmas break. Kyle fawned over it and Kimber showed off the blue pearl necklace her mom had gotten her for Christmas. Kyle and I feigned interest but did it poorly. Kimber knew, but just seemed happy we cared enough to fake it.

As we said goodbye to Kyle for the morning Kimber was suddenly slammed from the side. Kyle caught her before she fell and I spun around angrily to see Dark-Haired Girl – whose name I'd learned was Phoebe Dranger – laughing and walking away from us with Round-Face.

"You guys are assholes!" Kyle yelled at them. "When I'm your boss someday I'll make you clean bathrooms!"

"Yeah, and if Kyle's your boss, you know you messed up." I added. Kyle and I high-fived and turned to Kimber but she wasn't impressed with us – I could tell she was trying to hide her tears in her scarf.

"Don't sweat those girls, Kimber, nobody likes them. People are just nice to them because they're related to the Prescotts." Kyle tried to give her an awkward pat on the back but Kimber turned away from him and ran in the opposite direction.

"I hate those girls. Like I really hate them." I said.

"I know, they're bitches." Kyle agreed.

"Well, I'd better get to class and make sure they don't try and talk to her again."

"There's an assembly this morning. No class until after lunch."

"Seriously? That's awesome! Do we have to sit by class?"

"I don't think so but we'd better get there quick so we can get seats at the back." Kyle said as we started walking.

"What's the assembly for?" I asked.

"It's either D.A.R.E. or the History Society presentation."

"What's D.A.R.E.?"

"You know, D.A.R.E.? As in 'don't you dare do drugs or you're grounded until you're dead'?"

"Oh. I hope it's the history thing then."

We found Kimber already in the auditorium. She had collected herself and saved us both seats at the back of the room. She waved us over just as the puffy, stern Mrs. Tverdy walked onto the stage.

"Everyone please quiet down. This morning we have a special presentation for you from the History Preservation Society of Drisking. If you have questions during the course of the lecture, please raise your hand."

"Like that'll happen," Kyle laughed.

"Now, I'd like to introduce to you Mr. Wyatt Dowding, Ms. Kathryn Scanlon and of course, Mr. James Prescott."

"What! Jimmy Prescott and not his dad? That's so weird!" Kimber whispered.

"Dude, Thomas Prescott has done this presentation every year for like 20 years," Kyle said. "It's definitely weird."

"It's not weird," whispered Patrick Sutton from behind us. He leaned forward. "Tom Prescott went crazy like a year ago. He didn't do the presentation last year when my sister was here either."

"I don't like Jimmy Prescott," Kimber shook her head. "He gives me the heebie-jeebies. His dad is so much nicer, he's like a grandpa."

The presentation was as slow and boring as it possibly could be. Mr. Dowding and Ms. Scanlon talked about the first settlers here: the Cherokee and the trail of tears. They talked about Alexander Drisking's discovery of a motherlode of ore in the mountains and settling here with his family to mine and refine the iron. Then James Prescott took the stage from there to tell the story of his family's early journey to the town and their role in the revitalization of Drisking itself in the late 50's.

The Prescott story was the first interesting thing I'd heard all morning and I found Jimmy Prescott to be infallibly charismatic and entertaining. I was so busy laughing at his jokes and absorbing his stories that by the end of the presentation I realized I'd actually learned quite a bit. So much so that I was interested enough to ask a question, which Kyle quickly warned me was social suicide.

Mr. Prescott scanned the room and answered a few other questions before he finally got to me at the back.

"Yes, the young man in the blue shirt."

"Um, Mr. Prescott, why did the mines close? Are there any still working?" I asked.

"That's a very good question. What did you say your name was?"

"Um…Sam. Walker."

"Ah, I believe I met your father the other day at the Sheriff's office. Welcome to Drisking! As for your questions, most of the mines were closed in 1951 after a long period of unprofitability: the mountain had simply ran out of iron ore. The mills and refineries were abandoned and the town suffered for years. The miners and their families moved away, stores went out of business, schools closed and Drisking became a ghost town, as I was explaining before.

That would have been the end of it if it weren't for stubborn families like mine who refused to leave. We refused to give up the town and after many, many years of hard work Drisking became the picturesque little haven in the Ozarks that it is today. As for your second question, yes, I believe there may still be one mine in operation. Good questions. Anyone else?"

I sat back down and Kyle shook his head at me. "Bro…"

The assembly suffered through another fifteen minutes of awkward Q and A until Mrs. Tverdy finally cut us loose. We were released into the cafeteria to wait for the lunch lines to open. Kyle, Kimber and I sat in our usual corner.

"That was SO boring," Kyle whined. "When are they going to realize that no one cares about Drisking's history? Seriously, I fell asleep like three times."

Kimber nudged me. "Sam seemed to care," she teased.

"I just wanted to know about the mines. Mines are creepy, that's all."

"Yeah, but all our mines were blown up. You can't go in them anymore." Kyle said.

"Blown up?" I asked.

Kimber nodded. "Some kids died after going into the mines so the city set off some 'controlled blasts to implode the caverns', at least that's what my mom said. They messed up, though, and I heard they blew up the water table or poisoned it or something."

"What, how do you know that?" Kyle asked.

Kimber shrugged. "I heard my dad talking about it."

"Did they use C4 or something?"

"I guess."

"So like, we all drink the water so we all have C4 in our bodies and we could explode at any minute!" Kyle said excitedly.

"Do you think that's what happened to all the missing people?" I asked him. "Just sitting there one day and BOOM!"

"Yeah, dude," Kyle grabbed my shoulders. "And that's where the Skinned Men come from."

I made the popular gesture of 'mind blown' and we laughed hysterically.

"You guys are dumb," Kimber rolled her eyes but then she laughed when Kyle fell on the floor pretending he was exploding. I remember thinking in that moment that I was happy here in Drisking, Missouri with these two people. Happier than I'd ever been anywhere else.

It was the last truly moment of joy I ever had. Less than an hour later Mr. Diamond's phone rang and he exchanged a few quiet words with the person on the other end, his eyes flicking to and from my desk. It was hard to be surprised, then, when he hung up and asked me to come up to the front.

He quietly told me that my mom was waiting for me in the office and I was going home for the day. I traded a confused and worried look with Kimber and then packed up my backpack and went to the office. When I got there, my mom was crying.

We drove home in a strained silence. I was too afraid to ask what was wrong. Mom stopped the car a block from our house, which was blocked in by several police cars. When an explanation wasn't forthcoming I broke the silence myself.

"Is it dad?" I asked quietly.

"No, honey, Dad is fine," she whispered.

"Then what is it?"

"Whitney- Whitney never made it to school this morning." Her voice broke over my sister's name.

"Oh." I said. "Oh! Wait, I think she ditched, Mom! I actually saw her leave this morning and it was really early, like 6, and she was with her friends. Um, Pete Whitiger and that kid Taylor!"

"We know about all that, Sam. But they made it to school and Whitney wasn't with them. They said she wanted to stop by the Circle K near Drisking High so they left her there. And no one has seen her since."

"Well…" My brain struggled to come up with an explanation. "Maybe she's ditching."

"No, honey." My mom put the car back in drive and drove up to our house, parking behind a police cruiser. "The police, as well as your father, think that Whitney is with Jay."

"But she has a new boyfriend here!”

"We found all her books on the floor of her room this morning and half her clothes gone along with some cash of your dad's."

"But-"

"Right now we think that she hitched a ride to St. Louis and that she's with Jay. The Sheriff's office is trying to contact the boy's parents now."

Whitney? Run away? Anyone who knew my sister knew she was prone to dramatics and empty threats. Plus, she was dating Chris Whitiger's older brother Pete. I was sure of it.

We walked up the steps and into a house of stale coffee and quiet murmurs. I tried to remember if Whitney herself had ever actually confirmed she was dating Pete but I drew a blank. When we walked into the kitchen, I saw my father sitting at the table staring at phone records, head in hand. He looked up when I came into the room and gave me a weak smile.

"Hey, buddy."

"Dad, I have to tell you something."

I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder and turned to look up at a solemn Sheriff Clery.

"Everything and anything you might know, son. No matter how trivial you think it is."

I nodded and sat down at the table with my dad as my mom handed the big man a cup of coffee.

"Here you go, Sheriff," she said, weakly.

"Please, Mrs. Walker, call me Killian."

My mother nodded and retreated back into a darkened corner to talk quietly with Sheriff Clery's wife, Grace.

"What do you know, Sam?" My dad asked as he rested his chin on his interlaced hands.

"Underneath the Triple Tree there is a man who waits for me and should I go or should I stay my fate's the same either way."

"Well, just, I heard Whitney had a boyfriend, that guy Pete Whitiger that she's been hanging out with, and I saw them and Taylor Dranger leave this morning before me."

"What time did they leave?" Asked the Sheriff.

"I don't know…like before seven."

He nodded. "That matches the statements of Taylor Dranger and the Whitiger boy." My father's head sunk lower into his hands and I knew I'd let him down.

"But," I rushed, "I don't think she went back to St. Louis because she was dating Pete and I don't think she wanted to be with her boyfriend back home anymore."

"I understand that, Sam, but a teenage girl's mind is a complicated thing. My officers are trying to get ahold of the boyfriend's family back in St. Louis." Clery nodded to my father. "Now why don't you head up to your room and let us work, Samuel."

I looked up at him in surprise. "What? No I wanna stay down here and help."

"No, son, there's nothing more you can do here. You've been a good brother, now let us handle this."

"But I can help!"

"You already have."

"Dad!" I looked over at my dad with begging eyes.

"Go to your room, Sam." He said quietly after a moment. I balked.

"Dad…"

"Now."

I was so angry. I turned away from them in a rage and stomped upstairs, slammed the door behind me when I got to my room. I sat down on my bed in disbelief. The tears came then and I laid down feeling helpless, worthless and scared for my sister.

I thought about all the places Whitney could be. Was she scared? Was she alone? Was she…dead? When the sun began to set, I finally got out of bed and went to check my email. I was expecting lots of messages from Kimber and Kyle but there was only one.

Did Whitney go to the treehouse?

I sat staring at the computer screen for a long minute, Kimber's words from last fall tumbling around in my brain.

"If you enter the treehouse without the proper ceremony you'll disappear and then you'll die."

I didn't buy that Whitney had gone to Circle K that morning and I especially didn't believe that she'd hitchhiked out of town. Nothing they were saying downstairs made any sense if you knew my sister – but maybe this did. Maybe she and her boyfriend went to the treehouse to make out or something and maybe he'd left her there. Maybe she'd gotten lost or maybe the Skinned Men had found her. That was the worst thought of all.

I didn't need to sneak out because the police were too busy with my parents to care about me anyway. I snuck my bike out of the garage and rode the three miles to the West Rim Prescott Ore Trail. When I got there I was surprised and relieved to see two bikes already locked to the signpost and my two best friends sitting in the snow next to them.

"I knew you'd come," Kyle said when I pulled up to them and Kimber jumped up to hug me.

"I'm so sorry, Sam."

There was really nothing for me to say and they didn't push. Kimber took my arm and we started up the trail. The silence between us was stretched, but comfortable. We trudged through the snow and all the while I searched for the telltale shoeprints of Whitney's wretched Ugg boots but the snow was coming too fast to see. The hike up the mountain was harder and wetter than when we'd come in the fall and when Ambercot Fort finally came into view over the ridge it was a welcome sight. The sun was getting low and we hadn't brought flashlights.

I stumbled as I ran up to the tree, calling my sister's name in the quiet wild. Kyle was right behind me and leapt impressively onto the rope ladder, climbing quickly up the planks. I kept calling Whitney's name, waiting for Kyle to yell that he'd found her or some sign of her.

And then Kimber quietly said my name from where she stood at the Triple Tree. I ran over and followed her finger to what I already knew was there. I found it, freshly carved near the top.

Whitney W.

My breath froze in my chest and my vision blurred with unwelcome tears. And as the sun took its last desperate breath before plunging into the deep of the horizon, a deafening metallic whirl rang out from the wilderness and spilled down the mountainside.

CLICK TO THE NEXT PAGE…

50 Simple Questions To Ask Yourself When You Need A Reminder That You’re Blessed

Posted: 04 Feb 2016 07:00 PM PST

Ondrej Supitar
Ondrej Supitar

1. Am I breathing?

2. Is my heart beating?

3. Am I able to open my eyes? Can I see around my room? If not, can I hear? What do I hear?

4. Am I able to move my legs?

5. Can I stand, walk, stretch? If not, can I move another body part?

6. Am I healthy? If not, what is healthy about me?

7. Do I have someone sleeping next to me? Do I love this person? If I don’t have someone next to me, who in my life do I care about?

8. Who cares about me?

9. Do I have friends or family members that love me?

10. Can I contact these people? If I can’t anymore, am I thankful for their part in my life?

11. Do I have a pet I take care of? Or something I take care of?

12. Do I live in a house or apartment?

13. Do I live by myself? I am blessed to be able to afford that. If not, do I live with others? I am blessed to have friends and roommates.

14. Am I employed? If not, do I have opportunities? Can I search for these opportunities by myself? Or if not, do I have someone who can help me?

15. Do I have an education of some sort? Or if not, do I have the street smarts to get me through the day?

16. Do I have food in my pantry or refrigerator? If not, do I have the means to buy more or friends to give me some?

17. Do I have socks to put on my feet?

18. Is there a radio in my room? Can I listen to music?

19. Can I take a hot shower?

20. Am I able to sing in the shower?

21. Do I have clothes to wear?

22. Can I choose what clothes I want to wear today?

23. Do I have shoes for my feet?

24. Do I have a way of getting to work or to where I need to go?

25. Do I have a car? If not, do I have another means of transportation?

26. Can I breathe fresh air?

27. Are there people outside that wave to me?

28. Can I see grass or snow or sunshine or flowers or some beautiful form of nature?

29. What sounds do I hear?

30. Am I warm? Am I cold? Can I feel?

31. Am I able to smile?

32. Did that person smile at me?

33. Do I have an office I go to? If not, a place where I can work?

34. Do I have electronics, tools, or some means of completing my work?

35. Do I love this work? If not, does it serve a purpose for my life?

36. Can I buy something for breakfast? Can I buy something I really want?

37. Does thee person at the register talk to me?

38. Do I exchange smiles with people?

39. Is there someone I can talk to when I’m feeling overwhelmed?

40. Can I find someone to go to lunch with?

41. Can I taste the food I’m eating?

42. Can I help someone today?

43. Do I have interactions with others?

44. Do I feel some sort of emotion?

45. Do I have hands that can shake with another person’s?

46. Do I have arms to hug someone else?

47. Am I connected to other people, simply because I am human?

48. Can I embrace the good and let go of the bad?

49. Can I find a reason to be happy today?

50. Am I blessed? Yes. The answer is yes. TC mark

10 Everyday Things Only Extroverted Introverts Will Understand

Posted: 04 Feb 2016 06:23 PM PST

micagoto
micagoto

Most people identify themselves as either an introvert or an extrovert, but what about the people who fall somewhere between the normal lines? I'm right there with you. I love going out and being surrounded by my friends, but I also crave the time I can spend completely alone with no distractions.

There are often times when I find myself surrounded by people wishing I wasn't there; wishing I were almost anywhere but there. I'll usually give myself a pep talk to try to get myself into the conversation so people don't start asking, "what's wrong?" There is nothing wrong; I would rather just be home by myself not trying to make small talk over things I have no interest in talking about.

Then there are times where all I want to do is go out and see every person I know. I'll text nearly everyone I can think of to make sure they're all going out. Interaction with others is a necessary and normal part of life, but sometimes I go out of my way to make the effort to make sure I will be surrounded by people I care about.

If this sounds like you, here are some more examples of what it's like being an extroverted introvert (or social introvert if that's the term you like better) is like.

solidLine

1. You have no problem talking to strangers but when the conversation is just small talk you'd rather just go back to being alone.

You can hold a conversation for the most part, but small talk doesn't keep your brain engaged in the conversation. Small talk is light and fun, but we like more deep conversations. Not to say we won't ever engage in small talk, because we do, that's part of life, but we always try to push it a little bit further and dig deeper. We want to the conversation to lead to us actually getting to know the person.

2. If you're not comfortable in a group of people you keep to yourself in the back.

You love being surrounded by people, but generally only be people you're comfortable around. Being around a different group of people makes you feel awkward and might even give you a little social anxiety.

3. You have days where you want to talk to everyone and days where you don't want to be contacted.

Some days you want to be texting all your friends and making plans whereas other days you ignore everyone. It just depends on the day; there is no real explanation other than you have two opposite ways to recharge and you need a balance of both. If you spend too much time around people you are dying to get back to the comfort of your own home. But if you spend too much time alone you desire being around others.

4. You prefer meaningful conversation.

Like I said, small talk is not important to us. It makes us more uncomfortable, especially when the conversation goes nowhere, like usual. When we have a conversation we want to get to know you, the real you. We want to have something engaging and meaningful to talk about. Deep conversation is what it's all about.

5. You're always wrapped up in your own head.

You're always thinking, alone and with people. Your brain goes a million different directions, whether it's thinking about something you have to do next week or something you forgot to ask a friend there is always something on your mind. You also frequently give yourself pep talks when you need some motivation.

6. Sometimes it's really hard to get us out.

Because what if it isn't fun or isn't worth it? I'd probably end up regretting getting up and leaving behind my books and laptop. But what if it's the best time and everyone's talking about how fun it is? There are nights when you don't want to do anything and nights when you want to do everything.

7. Just because you like being alone doesn't mean you like being lonely.

There is a total difference between the two. You like being alone because you choose to be alone. But you don't like being alone because you don't have anyone there for you. Being alone and spending time doing your own thing is what makes you happy, but being with people also makes you happy. Being lonely satisfies nothing and completely kills both moods.

8. You enjoy listening to others.

You enjoy listening to others because sometimes all you want is someone to listen to you. Even when you don't have anything to say, you listening helps someone out because they know you're involved. But listening to someone who has something going on engages us because we feel important, like we are doing something good for someone.

9. You're selectively social.

You enjoy being social, but you don't want to be social with everyone. People that are involved in a lot of drama are completely out of your interest range. You don't enjoy talking negatively about others and you'd rather avoid people who do. It makes you extremely uncomfortable.

10. You make new friends easily, but have a harder time maintaining those friendships.

Making friends is no problem for you. When you're out you love being out. You talk to people, you're social and you're happy. But after the night out is over and you wake up the next morning the importance of maintaining that friendship isn't very high. Whether it be because you don't feel like texting anyone or because you don't want to leave the house it's the maintenance that is the real struggle for you. TC mark

Here’s Why The Most Terrifying ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ Villain Isn’t Who You Think It Is

Posted: 04 Feb 2016 06:15 PM PST

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” is a show full of demons, ghosts, witches, monsters — basically everything under the supernatural sun. There are more than enough beasties every season to keep you awake at night but there’s always one that stands out, the ultimate enemy Buffy must defeat: The Big Bad.

So who’s the most terrifying villain? Out of all these nightmares, which one is the worst? Could it be season 4’s Adam, a motley mixture of demon/human/cyborg parts? What about season 2’s Angelus, Buffy’s vampire lover whose loss of a soul turns him into a murdering fiend? Or maybe season 5’s Glory, an actual GOD who’s hellbent on destroying the world?

Nope. It’s this guy.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Yeah, I said it. The most terrifying Buffy villain is supernerd Warren Mears.

Allow me to explain.

The supremely dark season 6 is my favorite of the show, mostly because A) I love supremely dark things and B) the writing is extremely inventive. Each character has their own major arc throughout the season, and most of it is bad — Willow becomes addicted to magic, Dawn starts stealing shit, Xander leaves Anya at the altar, Giles just peaces out back to England. Not to mention, you know, Buffy being pulled out of heaven by her well-intentioned friends. It seems like everyone’s dealing with their own demons this season, and then we meet our Big Bad: the Trio.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Buffy The Vampire Slayer

They are, as villains, underwhelming (although hilarious.) One of their first priorities in setting up their lair is to make sure their action figures are in order. Warren is the unspoken boss, a robotic engineering genius appearing in the previous season who built the perfect cyborg girlfriend only to abandon her upon getting a real girlfriend. Jonathan is a former classmate of the Scoobies and specializes in magic. Andrew is the runt of the litter, a master of demon-summoning and completely forgettable — no one remembers him from high school except as “Tucker’s brother.”

Mostly comic relief at first, the Trio spend several episodes trying to become the Slayer’s new nemeses only to be completely ignored in their efforts. But when one of their schemes finally goes right, things get… complicated. This is where Warren starts to show his truly dark side.

He develops a device called the Cerebral Dampener, which turns a person into a willing slave. See, Warren’s always had a thing about girls. He gives off a very Elliot Rodger vibe, the weirdo who never got over being bullied and just doesn’t GET why chicks don’t dig him. In a super creepo move he uses the Cerebral Dampener on his ex-girlfriend (who left as a result of the girlfriend-bot coming after her in the previous season.)

Cue the French maid costume and Warren’s intentions to essentially rape Katrina (and any other women he had planned to use the device on.) When the effects suddenly wear off, however, Katrina tries to escape. And Warren fucking kills her.

I know, I know, there’s been murder in “Buffy” before. He’s not scary, you’re saying. He’s just like any weirdo who can’t get a girlfriend and lashes out at the world. And to a point, you’re right.

But that’s what makes him so terrifying.

As the season goes on, the trio gets their hands on an ancient artifact called the Orbs of Nezzla’Khan. They imbue the holder with incredible power and strength, and guess who grabs these obvious metaphors for balls for himself? Warren, of course.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Buffy The Vampire Slayer

He juices up with his stolen masculinity and what’s the first thing he does? Oh, of course, he hits a bar to beat up his former high school bully and fully creep out every woman within 50 miles. Hilariously, though, it doesn’t take very long at all for Buffy to find Warren, smash his orbs, and end his reign of sleaze. He escapes with a jet pack but without his precious orbs, Warren is harmless.

Or is he?

Here’s where things get really scary. “Buffy” is all about the supernatural, magic and monsters and kick-fighting. It’s campy, it’s unrealistic, and that’s what makes it fun.

So when Warren enters Buffy’s backyard where she and Xander are sharing a tender moment, pulls out a gun, and fires at the Slayer, it doesn’t feel fun anymore. This isn’t campy. It’s not unrealistic. It happens all the fucking time.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Buffy The Vampire Slayer

And Buffy, the strongest woman in the world, the Chosen One, the goddamn Slayer — she goes down. She almost dies. She would have, without the help of a grief-and-magic fueled Willow. Buffy was almost taken out by a nerd with a toxic personality and a gun.

In my opinion, it’s what makes Warren so scary. I can go to sleep at night knowing that Glory isn’t going to end the world, Angelus isn’t going to drain my blood, Adam’s not going to assemble an army of monsters. But the sad truth is that there are Warrens everywhere, and they’re not going away any time soon.

And that, my friends, is terrifying. TC mark

17 Arabic Proverbs That Have Hilarious Literal Translations

Posted: 04 Feb 2016 06:00 PM PST

 Twenty20 raragrace
Twenty20 raragrace

The Arab world is known for their love and excessive use of proverbs; however, when you try to translate them into English they mean something totally different. Here are 17 of the most famous Egyptian proverbs literally translated into English and what they originally mean.

1- Al Tikrar Yialem Al Humar: التكرار يعلّم الحمار

Translation: Repetition teaches the donkey.
Meaning: Practice makes perfect.

2- Al Erd Fi Ein Omo Ghazal: القرد في عين أمه غزال

Translation: The monkey is as beautiful as a gazelle in his mother's eyes. 
Meaning: When you love someone, you will always see them perfect.

3- El Yetleseea Min El Shorba Yonfokh Fil Zabadi: للي يتلسع من الشوربة ينفخ في الزبادي

Translation: He who burns his tongue from soup will blow in yogurt. 
Meaning: If you had a bad experience once, you will be extra cautious next time.

4- Labess El Boosa Tebaa Arousa: لبس البوصة، تبقى عروسة

Translation: Dressing up a stick turns it into a doll.
Meaning: Anyone can look good with the right clothes.

 5- Ebn El Wezz Awwamm: ابن الوزّ عوّام

Translation: The son of a goose is a swimmer. 
Meaning: Like father, like son.

6- Neoul Tur Yeoolo Ehlebooh: نقول طور يقولو احلبوه

Translation: We say it’s a bull, they say milk it. 
Meaning: When you talk to someone who can’t understand you and can't see your logic.

7- Dokhool El Hamam Meesh Zay Khoroogo: دخول الحمّام مش زي خروجه

Translation: Entering a bathroom isn’t like leaving it. 
Meaning: It's not easy getting out of tricky situations.

8- Haga Tehraa El Dam: حاجة تحرق الدم

Translation: Something that burns the blood.
Meaning: Used to express something that is really frustrating or someone who is being very difficult.

9- Eza Kan Habeebak Assal Matakloush Kollo: اذا كان حبيبك عسل، ماتلحسوش كله

Translation: If your lover is honey, don't lick it all.
Meaning: Don’t take advantage of someone who loves you or someone who is being nice to you.

10- Del El Kalb Omro Mayetedel: ديل الكلب عمره مايتعدل

Translation: The dog's tail will never be straight. 
Meaning: A leopard doesn't change its spots.

11- El Aql Zeena: العقل زينة 

Translation: The mind is decoration.
Meaning: Your mind is what makes you beautiful.

12- El Kidb Maloosh Reglein: الكذب ملوش رجلين

Translation: Lying has no legs
Meaning: The truth always comes out.

13- Yesoom Yesoom W Yeftar Ala Bassala: يصوم يصوم و يفطر على بصلة

Translation: He fasts and fasts and then feasts on an onion.
Meaning: Used to express disappointment in something that was expected to be great.

14- Temoot El Raqasa W Westaha Beylaab: تموت الراقصة ووسطها بيلعب

Translation: The dancer dies and her waist is still moving.
Meaning: Old habits never die or some people will never change

15- Mafish Halawa Min Gheir Nar: مافيش حلاوة من غير نار

Translation: There is no sweetness without fire.
Meaning: Nothing good comes easy.

16- El Bab El Yegeelak Mino El Reeh Sedo W Estareeh: الباب اليجيلك منو الريح سدو وستريح

Translation: Close the door that brings the wind and relax. 
Meaning: Block whatever is causing you stress in your life and don’t deal with it.

17- Weshak Nahs: وشك نحس

Translation: Your face is jinx.
Meaning: When someone brings bad fortune to you every time you see them. TC mark

I Played Mom For A Week And Realized I Am Nowhere Near Ready To ‘Adult’

Posted: 04 Feb 2016 05:06 PM PST

Mikael Kristenson
Mikael Kristenson

I picked up a last minute, sort of emergency nannying gig for the past week. The parents had already booked a beach-side, gorgeous weather getaway (right in time to avoid the Iowa blizzard) and asked, rather desperately since their other caregiver had fallen through, if I would take their two boys for a few days.

I hesitated at first. But ultimately agreed because a) I knew their boys from working at the local daycare and they were sweet kids and b) because money. And well, they really did need my help.

But as I stepped into my mommy boots and tucked papers that stated I was in charge of any medical decisions for the lives and well-being of these two little guys in my purse, I realized I have no freaking idea how to adult.

Adulting, by definition means that you have on the big-girl panties. You know how to make decisions, you know how to take care of yourself (and in my case, others). You can fund yourself, you can pay bills and cook meals and you have your sh*t together.

Prior to this week, I thought I was golden. I'm a twenty-something with a full-time job and a decent group of friends who pays bills on time, doesn't max out her credit card, makes a decent salary, pays for rent, and is pretty organized. Yep, I was doing alright.

Adulting, by definition means that you have on the big-girl panties.

But when you're thrown into the whole real world thing, taking care of someone elses' kids, you realize that you really don't have it together. In essence, I had suddenly become a single mom. I had to reshape my life around what the kids would want to do, when they'd fall asleep, what ungodly hour of the morning they'd wake me up, and what in the world they would actually eat.

Here is an in-my-head narration of my typical day:

Shoot! What was that? Are they up already? Jeez, what time is it? It's freaking 6AM?! On our one day off?? Ugh. I better see what they're doing.

Okay, they're both up and running around…how does this happen at 6AM? What do they want to eat? Cereal? Do they like milk? What kind? Wow, there's so many choices.

Okay, I have to get them ready. When does this one have preschool? Oh no, how am I going to get my car unstuck from this snow? I need that shovel. Should they wear boots or gym shoes? Oh no, this one isn't eating enough. What does he eat?? What does he like? Damn. He's crying. SOS. What's wrong? What do I do?

And that's all before lunchtime.

I suddenly found myself freaking out about everything. I became a full-on mom, stressing about how much each little guy was or wasn't eating, panicking about them wearing gym shoes with the snow, trying to cook and clean and chase them around to wipe their runny noses all at the same time.

And no matter how hard I tried to keep chapstick on their dry lips, or make sure they took their multivitamins during breakfast, or picked up their loose toys and put them in the chest, or swept the floor, I felt like I was never going to catch up. As soon as I turned around, there was something to fix, clean, wipe, or do. By the end of the night I was so exhausted I was sleeping thirty minutes after I put them down.

I realized, in that moment, that there were a million and a half things I didn't know about being an adult. And even more things I was now responsible for. I had these little humans in my care 100% of the time. That meant I had to buckle them into their car seats, make sure they ate enough fruits and vegetables, put them to sleep at a decent hour, watch them to ensure they didn't fall while running around, and somehow get them to brush their teeth before bed time. I had to bring them to where they needed to be. I had to tuck them in. I had to love them as if they were my own kids. And that was terrifying.

I am nowhere near ready for a family of my own. For waking up almost an hour before my typical alarm to get myself and my mini-mes ready, just to be on time. For pre-planning lunches for multiple people, for setting out clothes and shoes and somehow defusing full-blown fits in the morning. For being patient and ignoring 5:30AM bawling. For being tired. All. The. Time.

I am nowhere near ready to love another person so fully that my entire life is changed in relation to theirs—and isn't that the whole idea of adulting, relationship-wise and child-wise—that your life becomes intertwined with someone else's? I'm not ready for that.

I'm not ready to put my passions on hold because I have absolutely no free time, and when I finally do at night, I'm too exhausted to do anything else but lay down. I'm not ready to have to think 400 steps ahead, and pre-plan for any potential catastrophe that may or may not occur. I'm not ready to be this calm, collected, unconditionally-loving, sh*t together human. And that scares me.

Yes, I'm young. And no no no. I'm not planning on having a family anytime soon…but the whole adulting thing…how am I going to survive if I'm struggling to get through a week?

But…it's Thursday. My time with the little dudes is almost over, and I've done alright. There's been one broken toy, one night the boys hated their dinner, and one slip on the ice. I still don't really know what I'm doing, but I have to say that my favorite memory of the week is hearing my two-year-old call for me in panic, then see me and run into my arms, his face breaking into this huge, little-kid bliss type of smile.

I might not be adulting just yet, but little moments like that help me know I'm doing okay. I wonder if you ever really stop and think, Yeah, I'm totally adulting right now. Or if it comes slowly, one day at a time, until it's suddenly a Thursday, everyone's alive and happy, and you think, Yeah, I've got this. TC mark

This Is The Perfect Travel Destination For You Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Posted: 04 Feb 2016 04:12 PM PST

Twenty20 / genna.contento
Twenty20 / genna.contento

We all need some time off of our computers, away from the stress of work and family and everything else in life to just reconnect with ourselves and the people we love —in person! And what’s better than a trip to get away from it all.

But planning a vacation brings its own stresses: Where to go, how to get there and who take with you. So. Many. Decisions.

Deep breath. We’ve got you covered.

We looked to the stars to help you find the answers to all your travel questions. Knowing the dominant personality traits associated with your zodiac sign makes planning a fabulous getaway easy-peasy. Here’s what we discovered:

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

Go-getter Aries, you’re always diving into work and life with gusto. Your ideas vacation: being surrounded by your besties in a place where you know an adventure is possible! Take a trek through the Amazon rain forest or, if you’re looking closer to home, road trip it to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

We know you’re not the type to venture out into the unknown and prefer the comforts of the familiar. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and see new places. Be a tourist in your own town! Start with some local spots you’ve been meaning to visit. Rent a room in a nearby bed-and-breakfast near your “destination,” perhaps it’s a local vineyard to sample wines, the town center for some antique shopping or the beach for a nap under the sun. And don’t feel pressured to bring anyone along. The solitude may be just what you need.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

Gemini, we know you’re just a bundle of energy that can’t be contained, and that means Europe is the perfect place to be! With your zest for life and endless energy, you’ll have no problem trekking through Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, etc., meeting new people, and immersing yourself in new cultures along the way. One thing’s for sure: You’ll never get bored on this trip!

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

You have one of the biggest hearts, Cancer. Wherever you go and whomever you meet, you show nothing but care and concern for everyone around you. Know what would make you happy? A “volunteer vacation.” Projects Abroad sends more than 10,000 people overseas to help with more than 450 opportunities that give back the region. Or take a look at Habitat For Humanity for helpful and heartwarming projects right here in our own country.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

Leo, you’re confident in your style and the way you carry yourself. So the fashionable streets of Paris are where you need to be. Nibble a delicious croissant or some dainty French macarons under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and you’re sure to be the center of attention.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

Intelligent Virgo, you have a thirst for knowledge and the desire to understand everything. You love taking a crack at a good mystery, so maybe you’d enjoy some time on a Mystery Cruise Ship. The gist: There’s been a murder on the ship and your fellow passengers are the suspects. Your job is to figure out whodunit.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

Social butterfly Libra, you have a unique ability to make friends anywhere and at any time. Jump on a plane and head to New Zealand, dubbed the friendliest country in the world by Forbes. Enjoy the crystal blue waters, the evergreen terrain, the gorgeous mountains. Island-hop throughout the archipelago and meet various locals. And if you have the time, you can stop by Hobbiton, The Lord Of The Rings movie set left there by the production crew in 2001.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

We know how incredibly independent you are and how you prefer solitude most of the time. But you have an inquisitive mind. So for your next vacation, hop a plane to Amsterdam, a quaint city rich in history that’s the perfect to explore alone on a bike. That means no awkward conversations with strangers on public transportation. Exactly the way you want it.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

Sagittarius, your thirst for adventure always compels you to go wherever your feet take you. So, now, instead of your feet, hop in your car and go in an impromptu road trip. Take your BFFs with you, because the more, the merrier! Stay the night in cheap motels some days, and fancy hotels in others. Find the oddest places to eat and order the specialty. Stop to see weird things (like The World’s Largest Ball Of Twine in Kansas). Make memories to fill your children’s and grandchildren’s bedtime stories.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

You’re always seeking to make yourself better. (You know, smarter, more talented, etc.) Why don’t you take a trip to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.? Visit the various museums and galleries from the Smithsonian (for the arts) to the Newseum (to the news enthusiasts). Schedule a tour of the White House, and maybe you’ll run into the president on his way to the kitchen for a snack. You’ll be enriching your mind and having a great time doing it.

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

You’re a free spirit who loves to learn and meet new new and interesting people. Why don’t you take a trip to Belize? The South American country is rich in history, culture, and marine life. You can explore the Mayan ruins in the jungle and then make friends with some fishes in the crystal blue waters of the nearby barrier reef. You can mingle with the locals and learn about their culture directly from them and no Rosetta Stone required — they speak English!

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

Artistic Pisces, most of the time you doubt yourself and what you want, but you are incredibly devoted to your passions. You have a secret adventurous streak that’s sparked when you’re with someone who is equally as passionate. So grab your most daring friends, hop on a plane, and head to Stockholm, Sweden. Described as one of the safest cities in the world, Stockholm will make you feel perfectly at ease snacking at its cafes and walking down the cobblestone streets of the old town area known as Gamla stan. And we bet you didn’t know that Stockholm is an archipelago made up of various small islands, so you and your friends can island-hop on a ferry and enjoy the calm of the waters.  TC mark

This post originally appeared at YourTango.

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An Open Letter To Literary Agents And Publishing Houses

Posted: 04 Feb 2016 04:00 PM PST

Leeroy
Leeroy

Dear (powerful) members of the literary world,

My name is Arielle. Well, that may not be what it says on my birth certificate, but you know how it is. I am a North American writer with a partially British-cultivated mind. I have been doing my due diligence as a young writer to get your attention so that one day you may work with me.

Now I know that you shunned even J. K. Rowling multiple times, and Elizabeth Gilbert had to struggle both fiscally and mentally to get to where she is today. But to quote a hip-hop song, "I got the juice."

Along with being a writer, I am an artist, and one of the mediums I use is rap. I fell into this genre honestly, as I've always been a poet, and had a love of hip-hop's vibe and sound. On top of being a female MC, I am a singer, drawer, painter, dancer, etc. I am a creative being.

I was told that my creativity was an illness. I was told that my bursts of energy were not normal, and my interests, taboo. A judge told me I was "too intelligent," and needed to be medicated as a result.

Well if the judge is right, then this should work. But if the judge was wrong, and the forced medical drugs I am on right now are in fact slowing down my mind effectively (as they are designed to do), then my inbox will remain empty of messages from you or your associates.

But at this point, I have to step out of the box to reach your eyes, and hopefully capture your hearts.

I am sitting on a lot of unpublished literature. I have spent my time since completing my Masters writing every single day I can. There was a time period after my institutionalization at psych wards as a consequence of being too vocal and passionate of a social activist, where I couldn't even write a sentence. Now I can write a book in a day. And I do.

During the fall I released the beginning of The Herstory Series, my autobiographical-perspective books on my website Trust Love. The first book Gibberish has seen relative success considering that in just a few months, there have been hundreds of downloads from me marketing on my own. Some people were waiting on that particular book for three years. Next came Sex On House Arrest and then Five O'Clock In The Psych Ward, which have both also seen relative success, in my eyes.

Our word choices may be confusing to you at times, and our attitude may seem blunt, but we're frustrated with being unheard.

I released the books for free because Gibberish was written with the intention to open minds. It was supposed to free people, and for that reason, I felt like it should be free. Then came my next two bodies of work, which I felt passionately about sharing now, so I did. I'm sorry, but after years of trying to get in contact with you and getting rejection after rejection, I had to do something about it.

But since releasing my books I haven't stopped working. I am currently in the midst of working on The War Home, a book that details what life was actually like in a psych ward and how it is a microcosm for the trials of the world at large.

My style is different. Since I am a rapper, I have a rapper's mouth. I can be profane, blunt, and damn near blasphemous at times. But I've also got a couple of degrees under my belt, which is where I learned the value of structure and concision in my writing.

Along with being an artist, I am also a political scientist. This led to me becoming an activist upon completing my human rights degree when the world was in a new state of turmoil in 2011-2012. Between “The Arab Spring,” “Occupy Wall Street,” and student protest movements, I became flooded with stimulus, exposed myself to new information, and became the woman I am today.

I am not someone you should overlook. I was born to do this sh*t. I know that my talent is a blessing from God, which allows me to stay humble, despite my sometimes seemingly bodacious rapper nature.

So this may be a shot in the dark but here it goes:

There are SO many talented writers in this generation that need to be embraced by you, some on this site (please see Kovie Biakolo’s work for further evidence of that). Our word choices may be confusing to you at times, and our attitude may seem blunt, but we're frustrated with being unheard.

The population needs to hear our voices on a grand scale, your scale. Our words need to reach the older generations so that we can bridge the gap for the next generation. Us twenty-somethings are the closest adults to the youth, and a lot of us still hold onto our youthful nature, which is a blessing. Because not only can we speak your language, but we can speak theirs. As millenials, we are the current link between you and them.

If you want to continue to reject us, that's cool. Somehow, somewhere we will get heard. But if you want to embrace our generation, you'll also get the next generation. And that my friends is just good fiscal sense.

Feel free to read any of my work that is available online and decide whether or not you want to take a chance right now and contact me. My voice is strong and my skills are on point. I have multiple projects in the works, and will continue to create with or without you. I just hope one day soon it's with you.

Sincerely yours,

Arielle London TC mark

10 Harsh Realities It Took Me Way Too Long To Learn To Accept

Posted: 04 Feb 2016 03:45 PM PST

Jean Gerber
Jean Gerber

1. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity.

If you want to lose weight but don't change your diet it will never work out in your favor. You can't keep doing the same thing and expect something different to come out of it. If you are unhappy but don't make any life changes you won't become any happier. If you want change you need to do something different to make the change.

2. Don't keep watering dead flowers.

When it's over move on. If your relationship ends, you have to pick yourself up and move forward. Watering dead flowers won't bring them back to life, no matter how hard you try and how much you water them. When it's over it's over.

3. You can never make someone love you.

Sometimes you can love someone with all your heart, but they won't feel the same, no matter how hard you try. Forced love is not love and will never make you happy. You owe it to yourself to find someone you care about and someone who reciprocates those feelings towards you.

4. No matter how much you want something, sometimes it will never be enough.

You can want to win the Powerball more than anything in the world, you can put your whole life savings into buying tickets, but that doesn't mean you will win. Sometimes you work your ass off at work and someone else will get the promotion. Sometimes things in life just don't work out the way you want them to. Life isn't meant to be fair, but it doesn't mean life isn't good and you shouldn't keep working hard.

5. When one door closes, another will always open.

If you fall down you will never stay down, you always get back up. You will fail and you will succeed after that failure. If you get fired from a job, your life is not over. There will be another door that will open and you will find success again. Staying down is the only thing that will lead to another door not opening.

6. I've learned that saying sorry doesn't always mean they actually are.

You can say you're sorry until you're blue in the face, but that doesn't necessarily mean you mean it. Sometimes you only apologize because you get caught and that is truly sad and unfortunate. Until you no longer repeat those actions you apologized for that will be when you are truly sorry.

7. Talking about people shows more of who you are than they are.

The way you talk negatively about people, pointing out their flaws or their behaviors show more about you than it does them. It shows your insecurities and makes you look like the bad person. Saying someone is ugly won't make you any prettier, so stop bashing others. We're all trying to figure out life together.

8. You don't need a lot to be happy.

"If money truly buys happiness, then politicians and CEOs should be dancing in the streets. But only poor kids do that.
If power ensures security, then presidents and kings should walk unguarded. But only those who live simply can sleep soundly.
If beauty and things bring ideal relationships then celebrities should have the best marriages. But it’s not the truth.
Simplicity leads the world."
– Kelsey Ayikoru Sabo

This quote has really stuck with me. You don't need much to be happy. Collections of souvenirs and a house full of items will never make you happy. Items won't fill a void in your life. Happiness is internal and something you have to work on. Find the good in your life.

9. You have to want to change in order for it to happen.

No one can do the work for you to change, no one can want you to change and make it happen. If you want to change you have to want to put in the work. You have to truly want it and work for it every day.

10. I've learned to avoid the rearview mirror.

You're not going back, you can't go back. As much as you might miss the way things used to be, they will always just be the way things used to be. Time can't stop and you can't go back. That's why you have to cherish the time you have and enjoy the memories. TC mark