I push the button.

Red!

Self-destruct!

I hold my breath

until the water hisses.

Perhaps not today.

Anyway, decaf

is not a volatile substance.

On the couch my sister sits hunched over a Mac Book adorned with a Totoro sticker. I flop down beside her with my paper notebook.

“What is?” I ask, peering at the screen.

“Video project.” She mutters. This is dismissive but I am becoming more like our mother every day. I persist.

“What’s it about?”

“Killer Angels.” Click, click, click.

I don’t know what this is. My high school level history knowledge is hard neglected. Never gathered, never fostered. While most students were learning about wars and dates and generals, I was learning political theory and debate from a teacher who swore by “Socratic method”. Which sounds great but every class became a full scale debate between the same handful of students. It was participate or fail. What would start as a lesson about industrialization would become an intense debate about intellectual property and the flaws in copyright and patent laws. What began as a lesson about McCarthyism (which I did actually absorb. My graduation thesis was about McCarthyism and The Patriot Act.) would dissolve into a conversation about the media spin of current events (of 2002) and government involvement. In a way I am envious that my sister is dedicated to a “real” education.

Her classmates are writing research papers. Her teachers prefer to play to her strengths and instead give her a film making alternative, presenting her collected knowledge of the subject. The closest I got to this was instead of writing a research paper I turned in a stack of 30 (mostly terrible) Pantoums “about” The Crucible and the Salem Witch Trials. It was not received well.

We prefer a creative solution. Her’s are usually more focused than mine. “Throw paint at it!” – My solution. “Draft a design. AND THEN throw paint at it!” – Her solution.  The task is still completed but her’s has more direction and purpose where as mine has the idea of purpose and a lot of tape. I think that may be the difference between guided and fostered creativity and “attack it with pens until it starts to make sense” creativity.

By now we’ve both disappeared into our own preoccupation. She hunches over the computer. I curl around my notebook.

“What are you two doing?” Our mother asks, leaning into the living room.

“Can’t talk. Words.”

“Can’t talk. Movie.”

Click, click, click.

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

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