Smackacks and the Dream Circus

I’M FREE FROM SCHOOL except for the fact that I have summer school. Woo! As I mentioned before in my Oh! The places you’ll go… post, I  was going to see my cousins. Well, THAT TIME CAME. I am now safely back home attending boring summer school. Before I went, my cousins and I were texting each other all week about how excited we were for the trip. “I can’t wait till you guys get here!” “I knowwww!” and “I’M EXCITED!!!” was basically the extent of our texts.

Conversations with Steve and Aunt Addie are always quite interesting, and since we drove together, we had a whole seven hours to talk. One conversation we got into as we drove to my cousins’ was about the weird dreams we’ve had. This then brought up the topic of the book I just finished: The Night Circus. The actual name of the circus is Le Cirque des Rêves or The Dream Circus in English. (I was pretty proud of myself for translating the title by myself.) After I told them the general story, Aunt Addie and Steve both agreed that it was weirder than any dream they had had. I don’t know about that. Personally, I think dreams can get so much weirder. I guess I’ll let you be the judge of that. I’ll include one of my weirder dreams and The Night Circus summary here.

Smackacks Dream

In the beginning, I went with a group of my friends to the mall. As we were walking around, I received a vision from a dragon. The dragon told me that they were in desperate need of my help in their dragon world dimension. I split up from the rest of the group and went off with Dina to search for the gateway to the dragon’s land.

To find the gateway, Dina and I left the mall and started walking around in the parking lot, passing all these restaurants and stores. We passed this one restaurant that had set out mac and cheese with noodles the size of my head in piles for people to take. It didn’t occur to me that this was unsanitary in my dream.

Dina and I started walking around the mac and cheese mounds. This little boy came and tried to walk past us. We lifted our arms so he could go under them, but he had trouble doing that because he wasn’t short enough. This reminded Dina and I about how easy that maneuver would have been for Parker. (He used to be really short but now he’s finally having his growth spurt. In the dream I guess he was still super short.) Then we got to this one patch of grass behind the people at the restaurant and started looking up at the sky. We began studying comets and the stars, and what made comets show when they came close to earth.

The next part of the dream I remember is about this group of four boys who are trying to outrun this giant NEFARIOUS corporation. These four boys traveled around the world, always on the run to escape the corporation called Smackacks. I was pretty surprised I remembered the name when I woke up. Smackacks finally catch the boys. They are taken to this concentration camp-like place. Two of the boys are separated from the rest and put in this giant bar cage thing. The rest of the three boys (the number changed from four to five) look over their shoulders as they are hustled into the camp naked. They had been told to take their clothing off.

Within my dream, I saw things through one of the boys that were left outside. The two boys were the only ones left dressed and the officials ordered them to take off their clothes. They were wearing these jumpsuit things with belts. The main boy began thinking about how he had become so optimistic while on the run, even though before that he had been very pessimistic. Before the boys had been caught, the main boy had bought a teddy bear at a zoo they went to because he had been so optimistic. It was great until he realized he had to get rid of it because it was from Smackacks. My dream ended there with the boys naked and trapped. Dina and I had vanished. Maybe we made it to the dragon world.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Since they were very young, Celia and Marcus have been raised to compete against each other in a game. Both are taught magic in distinctly different ways by their separate mentors, neither really having a say in the matter. The game takes place in Le Cirque des Rêves, a magical place constructed to embody Marcus and Celia’s imaginings. Le Cirque is open to the public, and as the years pass both Marcus and Celia continue to add more tents. They also begin to fall in love. The two learn to resent the game, knowing that they will never be free to love one another until it is over. It ends with only one of them standing.

As the reader, you not only follow Celia and Marcus’s story but a multitude of different characters who come into contact with the Dream Circus. Taking place in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the book doesn’t go in chronological order, leaving clues for you to slowly comprehend as the story alternates between different events at different times. The format in which the author presented the story is engaging, adding layers and giving it more depth.

In all, it was a magical, unique read, but let’s be honest; it wasn’t out of this world weird. Everone’s heard of magic, but have you ever heard of the evil company Smackacks?

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Mrs. C

Although I’m so ready for summer, at the same time I kind of don’t want to move on, either. I’m going to miss being a sophomore. I think the biggest reason I don’t want to move on is because I’m going to miss my World History/AP Euro teacher, Mrs. C. She’s this crazy nice teacher that I’ve been incredibly lucky to have for both freshman and sophomore year. She likes to read!!! The same books I like to read!!! I love talking to her about what I’ve read, recommending new things to her, and freaking out over book characters (specifically shadowhunters, heehee). I always looked forward to her class, knowing that we were going to have a fun time. I’m going to miss being able to recommend new books to her. I’m going to miss her.

Thank you, Mrs. C! I loved being your student. This post is for you, and all the other teachers who ever encouraged me and made me wish I didn’t have to move on. I’ll always remember you. ❤

I had a dream with Mrs. C in it… 

My best friends Tasha, Dina, Peter, Jack and I all decided to go and take a hike. To go hiking, we had to take this little school bus. It would taxi us around to different places in the woods where we could get out, walk around and explore, and then come back to move to a different spot. Mrs. C was there, almost as if she were a chaperone on a field trip. My friends and I all had a blast exploring together. The only problem occurred when this random annoying kid started to butt in, interrupting our conversations and giving lengthy lectures on boring topics that none of us had any interest in.

Jack and I became separated from the group as we listened to the kid speak. Late to our original bus, we were forced to cross the highway and walk until we could find the next one that came. The kid followed us.

The bus took us away from the woods and to an outdoor sports store where we met up with everyone else. I started looking at these t-shirts with Mrs. C. We were trying to find t-shirts to give to everybody to remember that day of hiking. The random annoying kid who had followed us from the woods interrupted our conversation, but Mrs. C was able to deftly steer him away. Go Mrs. C!

In a totally different part of my dream, I was late to school (I missed the bus). I was freaking out because I was so late. For some reason, my mom took mercy and called me in sick, letting me have the day off. (In real life my mom would never let me miss school unless I was actually sick.) I was freeeeeeee. On my day off, I decided to take a walk. It was a beautiful clear sunny day. As I strolled along, I saw two women launch this hot air balloon contraption from their front yard into the air. But even though it looked like a hot balloon, it wasn’t. It was a giant net that they had built to catch their lost cat. Somehow they were able to control where the net went and they landed it on their cat across the street.  The net broke and the cat got free once more, leaving the women to chase after it. I watched the whole scene unfold behind bushes further down the street. After that, I woke up to go to school. My mom didn’t call me in sick.

And of course!

I couldn’t just leave this post without talking about a book. I’m going to review the last book that I told Mrs. C about. I hope she enjoys it. BE WARNED! The book summary and review contain no spoilers, but both parts will spoil Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

Ophelia by Lisa Klein

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Summary Ophelia, known for her part only as Hamlet’s beloved, is now allowed to tell her side of the story. She begins her journey as a young girl, employed as a lady in waiting in the service of the queen of Denmark. Without being as restricted as other girls in that time (during the Reformation! thank you AP Euro!) because of no mother and a neglectful father, she becomes an independent clever young woman, able to debate philosophy as well as (let’s face it- even better than) a man.

As Ophelia matures, she sometimes runs into Prince Hamlet, as one might expect when you live in the same castle as each other. Hamlet, when exposed to her wit and charm, takes an interest in her. Soon they are both blissfully in love, hiding away from the rest of the court with the help of dear Horatio, Hamlet’s right-hand man.

Yet, the good can not last forever. Tragedy strikes when Hamlet’s father is killed, and Hamlet begins his wild display of madness. Hurt by the one she had loved most, Ophelia needs to decide how to live the rest of her life- or if she even should.

Review-It was intriguing watching the play unfold through Ophelia’s eyes. Klein did not just stick to the events that strictly happened within the play, but gave the characters history, explaining what led them up to where they were when the play occurred. I liked reading about Ophelia’s childhood, made doubly interesting because the author had done her research and included elements of the time period within the events. I’ve always found historical fiction interesting, and the history was pretty cool to see incorporated in the book.

I love Ophelia’s character. She was a strong young woman who was able to think for herself in a time when so many women were virtually powerless. Part of her independence comes from her love of reading, which is also what made me love her (characters who read are my favorite, no surprise). Through literature, she is able to educate herself on all different sorts of matters, leaving her more capable to deal with herself and others. A particular other character that was quite interesting to see was Hamlet. He was quite a different person before he became bent on revenge, and I can see how Ophelia came to love him. And then there’s Horatio. *sigh* He was such a cutie. So humble and honest in the midst of such violence and treachery. He was definitely one of my favorites. I like how all the characters evolved within the play, turning into the people you knew they had to be, Ophelia’s viewpoint showing why they were that way, and maybe even giving a different angle as to who they really were as a person.

Ophelia’s first person narration was fascinating. Klein was able to make her thoughts and the conversations between characters flow easily. It couldn’t have been easy having the characters speak in Shakespearian English. I think if I ever tried to write using Shakespearian language, I would start going crazy. I’d have to look up everything to make sure it made sense. I bet I would forget that I had to write like Shakespeare and end up having to redo whole pages. Klein was able to brilliantly intertwine Shakespeare and today’s language, giving you a Shakespearian feel in an understandable format. Bravo for Klein.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I’m currently considering whether or not I should put it on my book buy list (the copy I have right now is from the library). It’s definitely a must read for those interested in Shakespeare, history, and/or romance.

Ta-ta for now and happy reading!

Oh! The places you’ll go…

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I thought it would be appropriate to begin with a Dr. Seuss quote that described all the options one had for their future and all the places they could travel because TODAY is the day I’m allowed to officially obtain my driver’s license. I’ve now had my permit for a whole nine months. WOO! The freedom of growing up and all that teenage jazz!

… Yeah, but I’m not actually getting it today. On top of not getting out to drive as much as I should have, I keep forgetting to write down the hours that I do drive. Ughdoodles. I gots me some drivin’ to do.

Next week my mom, Alisha, my cousin Steve, Steve’s mom Aunt Addie, and I are going on a road trip to visit my cousins Richard, Mary, Samantha, and Jimmy who live far, far, faaaarrrr away (like six hours). (Gee willikers, that was a ton of names I just stuffed down your throat! Sorry.) I was kind of hoping that I would be able to drive part of the way there, but my mom is too worried. She gets really nervous whenever I’m behind the wheel (I’m not that bad of a driver, I promise!).

Despite that, I’m still looking forward to the actual drive. Six straight hours with my cousin Steve!!! And that’s before we even get to my other cousins’ house and spend 120 more hours with all of them!!!!! Together!!! I’m pretty darn psyched.

When we get there, I’m dying to go to this bookshop that Mary keeps telling me about. It’s down the street from their house! How lucky is it that they live right next to a bookshop??? So jelly of them ALL. I mean, like, if I lived walking distance away from a bookshop like they do, you wouldn’t be able to get me to come home. Hm… I wonder if I got to know the owner, would they let me sleep there? I could tell them I had to study late for school…

Dear goodness. I’ve been rambling on for a while now. What I’ve been trying to lead up to is the fact that I had a dream where I traveled far, far, FAAAARRRRRR away.  This far is bigger because it’s about my friend Anya. You see, I’ve never actually seen her IN THE FLESH. She lives in a different country, so I’ve literally dreamed about going over to meet her. What a trip that would be!

This is how I imagined it in my dream:

The beginning of the dream is a bit fuzzy, but it’s definitely possible that I was magically transported to Anya’s house. Don’t ask me how. Once there, I can see that her house is extremely busy, packed with family members. Anya naturally just accepted the fact that I’d appeared out of nowhere and we went together to a room in her house that had rows of seats where people were taking turns giving speeches to each other. I don’t know why they were giving speeches. It was some kind of motivational thing.

We began talking to different people that we knew in the assembly room (no one was surprised to see this weird American girl hanging out with Anya??). Jon, Anya’s cousin (well okay, I’ve talked to him before), walked over and began conversing with the two of us. For some misguided reason, he asked us to go and sit in a chair in the back of a fast-moving vehicle and have a parachute lift us up into the air. It was almost like he was daring us to do it. The parachute ride was one of the activities at the giant gathering Anya’s family was having.

At first, I said no because I’m afraid of heights. He roped me into it anyway, and at that point in the dream I remember being very mad at myself for saying yes. We went outside and Jon hooked Anya up into the chair. The truck slowly began pulling Anya. But suddenly, just as Anya began to lift off the truck and float in the air, her rope broke. Frantically, I scrambled to run and grab the broken rope. Thanks to my fabulous athletic skills (I have none whatsoever in real life), I prevented Anya from plummeting to the ground. Woo! Go me!

Needless to say, I didn’t go on the truck after Anya.We safely made back inside Anya’s house without any more mishaps. The next thing I remember is that we were back in the room where a bunch of people sat and some talked to us. Jon came back inside and began to get ready to make a speech of his own in that room. As he was getting ready, I fell asleep in my chair (haha I fell asleep while I was asleep) and I had a dream (while I was having a dream). Within my dream dream (heh) I knew there was a bad guy. As I began to wake up I confused the bad guy with Jon. Thinking that I had to stop him, I leaped up out of my chair and tackled Jon, right in the middle of his speech. Strangely, I wasn’t embarrassed as everyone stared at me, but I immediately felt bad that I had interrupted his speech. He was furious at me (he had thought I was cool before?? why???) and wouldn’t talk to me because I had embarrassed him, even though I told him I hadn’t meant to. Anya stuck up for me, confirming that it was an accident, but to no avail.

After that epic fail, Anya and I leave and go to a local (possibly family owned) store. Some of the party members must have strayed into the store because once again, the place we were in was crowded. In a corner of the general store, there was a little brown dog under a shelf of items. One of Anya’s family members owned the dog and brought it every year to the family to stay with her for summer. Having the dog arrive was a signal that summer was coming soon. Knowing that, I remembered that I had school the next day and that I had no idea how to go back home. I didn’t want to go because it was so cool to actually be able to physically see Anya and talk to her.

THEN (randomly!) my best friend Tasha showed up and started talking to some people there. I got super excited and went up to her, wanting her to meet Annie, but she held her hand out, signaling for me to wait. Apparently she already knew some people there. When she was finished her conversation I had her meet Anya. It was super cool awesome sauciness. Anya and I went back outside just in time to see the party activity of dog racing begin. But, you see, it wasn’t any dog race. In this race, everyone dressed their dogs in tutus. Anya’s brown dog from before had been entered and was flying down the race track in a giant pink fluffy tutu. While we were watching the dog race, Jon caught up to us and I was able to explain why I had tackled him. That’s about all I remember. My alarm went off and I had to get up to go to school. I was not looking forward to it, as shown in my dream by my wanting to stay in Anya’s country and skip it entirely.

An Ode to my English Teacher Who does not Read

Oh, this ode is for you, dear Mr. K.

Your lack of initiative leaves me saying, “Hey!”

An English teacher who has not read,

is one who has been sorely mislead.

Where have you been???

Oh, the things that you have missed

have now got you shrouded in mist.

Shame, shame, shame-

this is now associated with your name.

Why haven’t you read Harry Potter yet???

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A list of books that Mr. K should read, of which I also recommend to others who would like to further their literary repertoire and/or stay “hip” in this age of popular kids’ books:

  • “Hip” books
    1. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling (duh!)
      1. A young boy finds his way in the world and battles dark forces along with help from his wizard friends.
    2. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (see here for book order clarification)
      1. Clary Fray, a normal girl living in New York, finds herself thrust into the shadowhunter world, a special human race destined to battle demons in order to keep humanity safe.
    3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
      1. Strong heroine Celaena Sardothien is chosen to compete in a contest to become the king’s personal assassin in this richly imagined fantasy.
    4. You better have already read Percy Jackson
      1. I’m not kidding, Mr. K
  • Hamlet adaptations
    1. Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein
      1. A new twist on Hamlet from the first person perspective of Ophelia.
    2. A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison
      1. A modern day Hamlet from Ophelia’s point of view.
  • Macbeth adaptations
    1. Lady Macbeth’s Daughter by Lisa M. Klein
      1. Rejected by her own father Macbeth, Albia is raised by the three witches. This is her role behind the scenes.
  • Romeo and Juliet adaptations
    1. Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub
      1. After Romeo and Juliet die, Rosaline and Benvolio are left to pick up the pieces.
    2. Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine
      1. A different twist on the play from Benvolio’s point of view as he watches everything unfold and becomes entangled within the mess himself.
    3. Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
      1. Everything is not as it seems. Romeo murdered Juliet, and now they are destined to be reborn over and over again into different lovers, each fighting to gain the upper hand in the ongoing struggle of good vs evil.

Disclaimer: My English teacher Mr. K actually does read. He just doesn’t read kids books (even though he teaches kids). Besides that, he’s a pretty chill teacher. He’s in charge of our school newspaper, actually (of which I am a part of).