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I throw the books into the box to be donated and startle the bird outside the window. It has a piece of straw in it’s beak, looking at me. This is some kind of metaphor, I think, as I pack up my home and it’s building one. But I don’t have time to think of a metaphor, I don’t have time to think of much of anything.

She is gone again tonight. Everyone is gone. They ask me why I would move so far away, when I don’t know anyone, but I don’t know anyone here. Where are my people?

I’m going to the beach, he says, but he won’t go in the water. I understand this, somehow, a girl who grew up surrounded by water who can’t swim. I write about it, I sing about it. No one will read or hear the words.

Why are you going? Why? They can’t understand. I think of the mountains, I stare at the tree outside my window. It doesn’t really matter. One place is as good as another. Why stay anywhere? My tree is growing, moving, it doesn’t stay put either.

Nothing has changed, maybe something will change.

“My favorite book is Winnie The Pooh. I like the part where Pooh goes up in the balloon.” A picture of six year old me. Scraps of life stuffed in books tucked on shelves, throw it all into bags for someone else to keep in their house.

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1. Stop calling yourself an “unknown poet”, EVERYONE is an unknown poet!

2. Things you are not allowed to say: “I miss you”, “I had a dream about you”, “I think your baby is actually quite ugly”.

3. We’re all scared. That shouldn’t stop you.

4. Some girls speak poetry as their first language and don’t know how to stop. They wear dark eye makeup and thrift store sweaters and listen to music they choose to like. They take pictures day after day from the exact same angle of the exact same face until they’re convinced that they’re beautiful. Sometimes they all look the same.

5. It’s never going to be simple.

6. Horrible things just keep happening in the world, don’t they? And it seems so terrible and evil and sad. And it is. And then you talk to your friend or meet a nice lady at the grocery store who tells you about her daughter or someone does something nice for someone else. And at least there’s a balance of terrible and wonderful.

7. I’m currently growing daisies in a tiny pot in my room under my desk lamp. It’s a tiny rebellion against winter. Or something. Maybe it’s just tiny daisy plants.

8. You should read Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. It’s a really simple and beautiful book.

9. Tell them, just tell them! UGH!

10. “When I save up lots of money, I just buy piggy banks.” – small girl with, apparently, lots of money, and, most likely, lots of piggy banks.

1. Everyone needs that one friend who has excellent taste in movies/music. If you don’t know that person yet, go find them! They won’t come to you, they have too many movies to watch!

2. Kindles/other electronic readers are so not as handy as people claim. “Now I can read without carrying a book around!” Yeah, right. If you say that, you definitely never carry a book around anyway.

3. Sometimes it just seems like it’s always too late.

4. Don’t give yourself away so easily. Stick up for who you are. After all, that’s all this place is is people and other people who follow them around.

5. That awkward moment when someone introduces themselves and then you immediately forget their name.

6. Why are all the cool/successful people 32 or 35?! Does it take that long to become cool/successful?!

7. Words of the week: clarity. grandiose. honky. tragedy. expectations. tetanus.

8. Let him/her go, but not completely. Just enough.

9. Let’s be honest here, food pics are great. Don’t be ashamed! How are selfies ok but not food pics? No way. Let’s start a revolution.

10. I still think you’re beautiful.

Today is Franz Kafka’s 130th birthday (something I’m sure he’s not excited about, as he’s both dead and a pessimist). Thanks to Google, I know this. (And a lot of other things, but anyway…) tumblr_lkrcs9GJXq1qac37io1_500

I was talking to a friend the other day about remembering the past, including people who have already lived their lives and died. I think it’s important; some don’t. Maybe Kafka disagreed with me, who knows. All I know is that “The Metamorphosis” was one of the first and strangest things I ever read in high school. And we’re still talking about it.

Dallas Clayton is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. He’s awesome, a writer, inspiring, handsome, and he has cool rainbow shoes. He inspired me about three years ago to start writing, and I haven’t stopped since. I hope you’ll check out his books – they’re a great read for kids and adults.

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Follow Dallas on Twitta: https://twitter.com/dallasclayton

Check out his website (more poems/stories/goodness included): http://www.dallasclayton.com/

1. Read your Book.

No, seriously. Really. Read it. Sure, your professor may have assigned 35 pages for tonight’s homework. I know, that’s a lot. And, it’s probably boring. Biology? Psychology? Philosophy? I know, I know – going to long, boring lectures is one thing, but, reading? No way! At least skim it, OK? Soon you will master the technique of reading as a college student – headers, bold words and phrases, key terms in the back of the chapter. You paid enough for that book – you might as well use it!

2. Don’t Skip.

No, you don’t have to go to class. I know – freedom! It’s great. You can just stay home, sleep in, play on the computer, generally lounge about. Tell your parents class is cancelled that day, or make up some other excuse for still being in bed at noon. One more perk of being a college student: You don’t actually have to go be a student in college! But, take it from me, a once serial-skipper. Skipping class just isn’t worth it in the end. For one thing, there’s the guilt. Yes, it will hit you. Gee, I probably should have went to class. It’s only an hour and fifteen minutes! You couldn’t take an hour and fifteen minutes out of your busy stare-at-the-computer-screen schedule to go to class? And, if you skip once, where does it end? I didn’t go to class last time.. and now I have no idea what’s going on in class this time.. sooo, I guess I’ll just stay home – again. Going to class is always the better option. Sure, you have to get out of your pajamas, but you get to go educate your brain! Ask yourself this: why are you signed up for classes, anyway? Why are you paying lots of money/taking out lots of loans just to not go to class? Don’t skip! Seriously. Don’t.

3. Make Friends.

College is different from High School in that the people there are educating themselves by choice. You have to go to High School – not so for University! The college crowd may not be what you expect, either. There are older people there. Like, your parents’ ages. And, they’re cool! They’re interesting! Of course, there are younger students as well. But these people are not just the folks that happen to live in your school district – they’re from all over the place! Different cities, different states, different countries. They have different accents than you do. Different experiences. Different stories to tell, different lessons to teach you. Getting to know these people is one of the greatest rewards you can glean from going to college. Sure, you’ll get an education and a piece of paper with your name on it – but the people you’ll meet along the way are worth more than your degree. Talk to them! They are people, too! Colleges and Universities are full of the sorts of people you want to be friends with. So go for it.

4. Explore.

Ah, the college years. The socially designated time to figure out who you are, what you want, and how you’re going to get it. Who am I? Where am I going? What do I want to eat for lunch today? All very important questions. College is definitely the place to explore. That can mean literally explore, like, wander around campus and find the best smoothie place. And, it can mean explore yourself, like, do I even like math? Do I want to be friends with those sorts of people? How do I want to spend my time here on this planet? And, it can mean explore your options. What sort of job do you want? What things do you like learning about? What do you want to research, or write about, or get involved in? If you’re confused about any of those kinds of things, college is the place to figure them out. There are people who have that job. They want to help you figure yourself out! You don’t have to know right away what you’re doing. It took me almost two years to figure out what I even wanted to Major in. Explore, explore, explore. It’s what college is for!

I think one of the main goals I have in life is to be interesting. There’s this sticky note on my end table that says “be more awe-inspiring today”.

It’s been there for a while now, and I glance at it every now and then and it reminds me to be, well, awe-inspiring.

I guess “interesting” and “awe-inspiring” are cousins.

I just want to lead a well-lived life. That’s what it’s all about for me.

About a week ago, a beautiful blue-eyed boy asked me the following question: “What did you do today?” My brief, uninteresting answer consisted mostly of: “nothing much”.

What did you do today?

This question has stuck with me. I might be adding another sticky note to my table soon.

What did you do today?

What did you do today? Anything interesting? Anything awe-inspiring? Anything that will help lead your life to where you want it to go?

Anything at all?

No?

My term “interesting” can be as general or as specific as you want it to be.

“Interesting” can be going scuba-diving with chinese dolphins, or buying a new brand of toothpaste.

I like to group “interesting” in with “awe-inspiring”, though. That’s just me.

So, how to be an interesting person:

1. Read. Old books, new books. The news. Your Twitter feed. Blogs written by intelligent people. Just read!

2. Watch movies. Classics. Crappy horror flicks. RomComs. Foreign films with subtitles.

3. Travel. Go camping in the middle of the woods. Go to Las Vegas. Go to the beach. Go to a crowded shopping mall. Fly in an airplane. Take a train across the country.

4. Talk. Meet new people. Talk to the old lady in the grocery store. That coworker you’ve never spoken to. The waitress. The person next to you on the subway. Your mom.

5. Write. Write things down. On actual paper. Put the time, date, and location on everything. Be one of those people who carry around a notebook.

6. Take Photographs. All the time. Everywhere you go! Feel free to upload them all using various filters on Instagram. (follow me! @ohnewfree)

This is my list so far! I’m sure it will grow with time, just like my sticky note collection. All I know is that I’d like to do something interesting at least once a day, just in case that blue-eyed boy asks me: “What did you do today?” again some time. I’d also like to be able to answer that question for myself.