#5 How to Please Your Family (LASL)

Entry No. 5 How to Please Your Family 

Results of my Insomnia Poll: 

  • 1 – sledgehammer (sounds painful)
  • 2 – hot tea (mmm…)
  • 1 – milk and ginger biscuits (yum! I love ginger… especially this time of year)

Since I was feeling energized by my conversation with Rob, I decided to jog home. Exercise would probably help me to feel sleepy too… seeing as I was awake all night. The sun had risen over the valley of Oasis Springs, casting golden light on the stucco houses with orange tile roofs in my community. I could hear the sprinkler systems of the neighborhood moistening the lawns before the temperature rose too high. Even this late in the season, it could still be blisteringly hot. A few birds chirped in harmony as they fluttered over my head and into the rising sun. It was going to be another sweltering day as I could feel the sweat already pouring down my neck and clinging stubbornly to my hairs. I would seriously need that bubble bath when I arrived home.

Where have you been all night?” my mom asked me in typical motherly fashion as I tiredly climbed the stairs.

What could they possibly be doing up so early? Fully dressed too.

“I went jogging.”

All night?” my mom asked shrilly.

Nora snickered as she brushed past me on the stairs.

What’s in your back pocket?” she asked, poking at a suspicious bulge in my athletic shorts.

“Bubble bath.” 

Needless to say, I didn’t even get to use the new bottle of honeysuckle bubble bath because I dozed off the minute I stepped into the hot water in my parents bathroom. I was glad I remembered to lock the door before I stepped in the corner tub. That’s the last thing I’d want… my mom… or God forbid… my dad to walk in on me in the bathroom.

I’m not sure how long I was out, but the water was cold when I came to, and seeping over the edge of the tub. Great! My lazy gene, inherited most likely from dad, did not like the prospects of mopping up my parents floor. I wrapped myself in a towel, and snagged another towel from the rack to soak up the puddle I caused. I picked up the bubble bath bottle before slipping into my pajamas. I guess I’ll have to use this next time.

I slept until twelve-thirty before my stomach grumbled and nudged me awake. Wandering downstairs into the kitchen, I found Mom and Nora engaged in lively debate. I opened the refrigerator and pulled out the bag of coffee grounds. It was too early to have conversations with complete sentences.

“Mom, please… you gotta let me go.” 

“Nora, I don’t think it’s a good idea. You don’t know anything about this guy.” 

“But Ma… he’s nice… and he’s cute… and he likes me. Plus he complimented my hair the other day at the coffee house.”

“And those are always the best indicators!” 

“I’m eighteen now. You can’t tell me what to do.” 

“Yes, but eighteen isn’t twenty-one, and you’re heading to a club to drink.” 

“But Ma the drinking age was lowered to eighteen in the SimNation.”

“Not in this household.” 

While my mother and sister carried on their conversation, albeit loudly, into the dining room, living room, and eventually upstairs, I pulled a plate of leftover spinach and egg omelette from the refrigerator. My sister, Lee wandered into the room, her eyes closed and her mouth in a perfect pout.

“What’s up, Lee?”

Nothing,” she sighed. “Just… everything.

“Tell me about it,” I rolled my eyes, as I pointed at the ceiling where our baby sister was stomping about on the floorboards.

Darn it! I was hoping to nap on my lunch break.”

“You still have to work this afternoon?”

Lee worked for a local government branch of the Sim National Intelligence Agency. Currently, she was only a desk clerk, fetching bagels and coffee for the higher ups, answering phones, and filing reports. She wanted to be a data analyst of some kind or at least that’s what she told us. I found it hard to picture Lee as a super secret agent, kicking down doors, spiking the champagne of spies, and beating up bad guys in formal wear, but you never know.

Yes, Elizabeth… some of us actually work for a living,” she replied with punctuated words.

“Mom and Dad haven’t asked me to get a job yet,” I slid around her and poured myself a cup of coffee.

Ah… did you brew the good stuff?” she sniffed in the air. “Yes…” she smiled pleasantly. “You did. Pour me a cup.”

“Yes, your majesty.”

Seriously, Liz, cut the sarcasm. It won’t help you land a job interview.

“Who says I’m looking?”

You should. You can’t live here forever.

I laughed. “Says the twenty-eight-year-old super spy who drinks out of the milk carton in her parents’ kitchen and lives down the hallway from…” I pointed to myself. “…moi!”

I do not.”

“Do too. I saw you the other night.”

Well…” Lee sputtered. “You still should at least check the classifieds or something.” 

“Is that all it takes to please you?”

What can I say? I’m easy to please,” Lee smirked. “A cup of this delicious Mexsimcan coffee that you brew extra strong and you finding a career of some kind.”

I settled at the counter after Lee left the room and ate my breakfast, which was really lunch, given how late it was. My mother came back into the kitchen, dressed in her athletic wear. She was probably planning to attend her pilates class with the other mothers of the neighborhood. I remember laughing when my mom, who resisted the idea of her daughters playing sports, and made fun of people who played doubles tennis at the country club, told me she joined a gym. I thought she was joking. Nope. She was dead serious. Now she worked out with her group every Tuesday like clockwork.

Lee says you’re looking for a job,” she sat down next to me, the enthusiasm evident in her voice and facial expression.

“Oh she did, did she?” I rolled my eyes. “Word travels fast around here.”

“I think it’s wonderful. You’re so smart, honey.”

“Mom!”

No I’m serious. You did really well in college. And you’ve got so many talents. I know you’ll find your place.”

“Thanks Mom.”

I just didn’t want to find my place too quickly. I was looking forward to unscheduled days.

“Mom, do you think we could buy a dishwasher?”

What?”

“It would save time. I’m surprised you and dad haven’t already.”

Maybe that’s something you could save for.

“Mom!”

I’m serious. It would be a good incentive for saving your Simos. And that could be a great contribution to the household.”

“But Ma… isn’t big house expenses like that yours and dad’s arena?”

Mom smiled and kissed my head. “Oh Liz, you’ve gotta grow up someday. I think you found a wonderful first goal.”

I sighed. Great! So I would be the one purchasing a family dishwasher!

I decided to do some research. Plopping down at my computer, I scrolled to find a dishwasher. It couldn’t be more than fifty Simoleons, right? I was shocked to find most dishwashers were thousands of Simos and the cheapest one I could find was thirteen-hundred Simos by some guy named Craig on some online list. I sighed. That would take awhile.

Popping over to my favorite forums, I checked out friends updates and perused the latest discussion questions. I posted a question of my own about a kids book I was thinking of writing. One involving bubbles of some kind. I also scrolled to find job postings in the area.

The coffee house in Newcrest was hiring a part-time barista. I wrinkled my nose. Not exactly a short train ride. When I saw the work hours starting at five a.m., I promptly scratched the choice off my list.

All the fast food places in town were hiring. When are they not? I didn’t particularly like the idea of smelling like burger grease and fried foods all the time. Perhaps I gained a bit of my mother’s snobbish trait.

The art museum was looking for a manual laborer to help with their renovations, but I wasn’t exactly qualified. When had I ever swung a hammer?

None of the mall stores were hiring. Maybe that’s for the best.  I wasn’t exactly up-to-date on the latest fashion trends.

Finally, I saw an ad for a babysitter. Responsible. Adult. Likes kids. Willing to work odd hours, possibly overnights. Clean. I had to laugh at the last requirement. Of course, I was clean. I bathed every day. It looked like I fit the bill. I called the number and reached a woman by the name of Lizette Lopez. She told me to come to the Affluista Manor in Acquisition Butte on Thursday night at eight p.m. I hung up the phone. Twenty-five Simos an hour seemed reasonable to me. And with a house named Affluista Manor, I figured Ms. Lopez would probably tip well.

Mom screeched up the stairs at me. I left a plate in the kitchen. Opps!  For forgetting, my punishment was to wash all the dirty dishes in the house. As I scrubbed the plate with soap and warm water, I thought, ‘Here’s to washing dishes by hand for a century.’ I’d never be able to afford a dishwasher.

“You know if you picked up after yourself in the first place, I wouldn’t have to yell at you,” Mom said, interrupting my thoughts.

“Yeah yeah,” I grumbled.

Thanks honey,” she said in a sweet voice.

“You’re welcome,” I grunted.

I’m heading to my Pilates class. Oh by the way, I told your sister Nora she could go to the club tonight to meet this Kevin… or is it Kelvin? Or Calvin?” my mother shook her head.

“I’m sure Nora will be thrilled,” I replied, scrubbing the stubborn spot of a plate with dried steak sauce.

“…doesn’t matter...” my mother continued. “…I told her she could go if you went with her.

My mother came to kiss my head before flouncing into the dining room. “Love you.”

I’m pretty sure my jaw was on the floor. Mom was letting Nora go. But that wasn’t the worst of it. I had to chaperone. I think I’d rather do dishes for a month.


Author Note: Thanks for reading! By the way, I have a mod that allows adults to have the same part-time jobs as teenagers in TS4. 

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#3 How to Make Friends (LASL)

Author Note: written with CathyTea of Cathy Tea’s SimLit Anthology. Featuring Teresa Spinks submitted by Skcaga6 and Cathy Tea and Sugar Maple Bough submitted by Cathy Tea

Entry #3 How to Make Friends

As I sat in the library reading through my book on handiness, I realized I should make an effort to meet people now that I’ve returned to my hometown. Most of my college friends have exciting new lives ahead. They are exploring new worlds. They are conquering the vast jungles of the workplace. They are forging new paths and learning what it means to be an adult. And my friends from high school are off doing much of the same. I can’t exactly blame them. I want to move on with my life too, but I’m worried if I stay in Oasis Springs, I might not ever find out what it’s like to have an adventure. Perhaps I need to start with baby steps and make a new friend… or two.

A friend is an essential component to the good life, or so one of my sociology textbooks once told me. That’s right. I minored in sociology. Now you know.

I haven’t always been the best at making friends. Shocker! I know, because I talk too much, right? A person who talks incessantly is not guaranteed person friends. I learned this the hard way.

In middle school, I had a good friend. We were in church choir together. We both liked reading, and would bring a new mystery or adventure to trade each week at choir practice. Soon we became really good friends, and even best friends. The kind of friends who build blanket forts in the living room and stay up all night telling ghost tales and giggling and painting each other’s nails… you know, typical girly things. And then, something happened. She decided she liked boys, and I decided…

I liked being “one of the guys.” I enjoyed sports, football to be precise, and I could yell at the refs loudly because I knew every “play” in the books. I liked action movies, the kind with explosions and kick-ass car chases and thrilling musical scores to accompany the adrenaline rushes of seeing the lead actor catch the ‘bad guys’ once again. I preferred green and blue over pink, and jeans over dresses, and I would rather go paintballing than shopping any day. My once closest girlfriend called me ‘weird’ and she ditched me at the mall one day as she was tired of my ramblings about baseball statistics.

Then in high school, I made another close friend, a really close friend, dare I even say, another best friend. We bonded over our love of writing and music. She didn’t live in the same town as I did and so we wrote letters. Yes, the old fashioned art of letter writing. Snail mail, if you will. I would get so excited to run to the mailbox every day after school to see if another letter had appeared in my mailbox. We would write pages and pages, pouring out our hearts and souls about everything from the minutia of life to the major challenges and accomplishments. We would share our dreams for the future, critique the latest song by our favorite bands, and provide notes on each others’ stories.

And then college happened, and we both went away to colleges far away from one another. I’d spend hours at the library studying and reading everything I could get my hands on with topics from psychology to sociology to philosophy to literature to communications to business to logic. I wanted to know how things worked and why.

The difference between my best friend and I is I thrived on the learning environment. My best friend… didn’t. She hated being away from home. She hated her classes. She struggled to keep up with her grades. Midway through our sophomore year, she dropped out and moved back home. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to keep in touch with her. I did. Except I was busy. I was busy trying to keep my grade point average. I was busy trying to learn as much as I could. I was busy trying to understand the ways of the world. I was busy trying to make new friends and trying to figure out my place in life.

In the end, I shouldn’t be surprised. Ten-page letters became 2000 word emails and then that became 200 character text messages. The woman  I considered my closest friend in life and I drifted apart to the point where we didn’t really know each other anymore. It wasn’t any one person’s fault, but I always blamed myself. I wasn’t a good enough friend to her. After everything she had gone through, I didn’t make enough time for her. Then again, she grew jealous of me, and it made it increasingly difficult to talk with her. I recall our last conversation when she said she “hated” me and we were done.   

I like people, just as much as the next person, but after losing two of my best friends, I decided I needed to be careful who I allowed myself to get close to. Even so, going through life without friends is a lonely road. I want friends, but I am afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing. I would think by now I’d know how to “hack” friendship, but I guess not. We’ll see. There’s a whole vast world out there of people just waiting to meet me. And I’d like to meet them.

Speaking of friends, I will say this, I made the acquaintance of some fun peeps today. The first is a young girl named Teresa Spinks. She is in grade school and she’s nine years old. I was exiting the library and there she was – a pretty little brunette in a purple-and-lime green tee shirt. I told her I liked her shirt. She told me she liked my hair. It reminded her of Anne of Green Gables by Lucy M. Simgomery.

Ann with an ‘E,’” Teresa said.

“Of course, I know Anne. We are good friends,” I replied.

Teresa’s bright blue eyes grew round as a stack of pancakes and her jaw wiggled in shock.

You do?”  

“Yes, anytime you open a good book and you read about wonderful heroes and heroines… you know what that is right?”

Yes… a heroine is a woman who is admired and inspirational. We learned that in school.

“Well, anytime you read a book and you bond with a character, you make a friend.”

Teresa’s smile widened. “Then I have many friends. A million friends.”

“A million friends?”

A gazillion friends.”

“Ooo, that’s more than me. You must have read a gazillion books.”

Teresa giggled in that adorable childlike way.

Yeah, I have. I have a library card. Do you?

“Actually, I do. I just read a book on handiness.”

What’s that?” Teresa wrinkled her nose.

“A book about doing projects around the house or on a car, fixing things that need fixed.”

You have a car and a house? Well, yes, I suppose you would. You’re a grown up.”

“Can I let you in on a secret, Teresa?”

Sure.”

“I wish I was a kid. Then I wouldn’t have to pay bills. And I don’t have my own house. I live with my parents. And I don’t own a car.”

Well, at least you don’t have a big brother bossing you around all the time.”

“I have a big sister who does… sometimes.”

Does it get better when you’re adults?”

“Maybe… I’ll let you know.”

As we spoke another woman walked up to join us. She had skin the color of chestnuts, the color I always envied. Did I mention both of my best friends growing up had gorgeous dark skin? When I was a kid, I could never quite get my drawings of people to look right with a white crayon or a peach crayon so I drew everyone with the brown crayon. Of course, some of my teachers would make comments. I didn’t care. It was beautiful to color in brown. Here I am pasty white as a ghost on Spooky Day. I digress. This woman wore a grey long-sleeved tee and a bright yellow skirt with white polka-dots.

Who’s your new friend, Teresa?”

Oh this is Lizzie. She’s new in town. Not new…she just moved back. She went to college.”  

I almost beamed with pride. I never thought my college degree was anything special, but Teresa’s tone made me feel good.

I’m Sugar Maple Bough,” the dark-skinned lady introduced herself.

“Lizzie Green.”

Green, like the color?” Teresa smiled.

“Yes, like the color.”

And Sugar Maple like the tree…”

“All my family is named after trees,” Sugar said with a sigh.

We continued chatting for a few minutes about family names. Her mother had been names “Aspen,” and Sugar said that she always thought that had been because aspens were some of the most resilient trees.

Another woman with a chipper smile, a dark ponytail, and a bouncy walk joined us – a friend and roommate of Sugar’s named Cathy Tea. I liked her tee shirt too – a light bulb. I asked her. 

It’s to remind me to have only one idea at a time!” Cathy said. “See? One light bulb! One idea!

“You should have a gazillion ideas, Miss Tea! Like Anne with an E! Like how she says, ‘But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?’”

“Meh!” Cathy grumbled. “I prefer expressing my big ideas in little words. Like Wow! Every heard of Wow?”

“Of course, I have heard of ‘Wow!’ Teresa chirped. “My brother, Danny says ‘Wowza!’ And my dad always says ‘Wowie!’ And my mommy always says ‘Oh wow!’ Me? I prefer ‘wow’ by itself. It has more oomph, don’t you think, Miss Tea?”

Cathy grunted once more, but did not respond.

“‘Wow’ is an interesting word,” I piped in. “Did you know that ‘wow’ also refers to the reproduction of a sound with a slow variation in pitch?”

Wow! That’s cool,” Teresa replied.

I like it because it’s short,” Cathy said. “One syllable. One syllable words are rare. Try to talk in a way to use just them. It’s tough.”

“Cathy is trying to write a novel in solely single syllable words,” Sugar said.

True to her earlier patterns, Teresa replied with a singular ‘wow.’

“That’s impressive,” Lizzie’s eyes grew wide. “How is that even possible?”

“It’s true,” said Cathy. “And preferably not Latinates.”

“I love learning about the roots of words,” I exclaimed. “Personally I feel a strong connection to my Deutchsim roots and through that, I’ve been studying my connections to the Old Earth Anglo-Saxons. Did you know the Anglo-Saxions developed from three different tribes in Old World Germany and Denmark – the Anglos, the Saxons, and the Jutes?”

The Jutes? Like a jute box?” Teresa interjected.

“Not exactly,” I smiled. “And it’s jukebox. How do you know about them? Those are old school.”

I have friends of all ages,” Teresa declared proudly.

That’s right, Teresa,” Sugar said affirmatively.

“We have many words in the Simlish language that developed over time from English which developed from lovely Anglo-Saxon words like ‘queen.’ Isn’t ‘queen’ just grand and stately?” I said. “Or ‘honey.’ ‘Honey’ is a sweet word.”

Teresa giggled.

“Or ‘harbour’… with an ‘our.’ Why did we drop the ‘u?’ It makes it look prettier,” I sighed.

I’m not a big fan of pretty words,” Sugar said. “I like my words to be strong and practical.”

“There are so many wonderful words derived from Anglo-Saxon roots,” I gushed. “Like ‘meadow,’ and ‘milk,’ and ‘moon,’ or ‘laugh,’ ‘listen,’ or ‘love.”

“Yes!” shouted Cathy. “Like growl, and grumple, and grump, and groupie! Wait, is groupie Anglo-Saxon?I think it might be Old French… but maybe Old French via Old German, so yeah, it counts! And don’t forget groundhog!”

Ooo!” Teresa interjected. “I once read a story about a groundhog in school.”

I’d love to keep chatting, folks, but it’s time for violin practice! I’ll catch you later!”

After Sugar left, Teresa asked about groundhogs.

“Aren’t they the cute furry rodents that predict the weather?”

“Only once a year,” I added.

The groundhog… he decided that he didn’t want to come out of his burrow and tell the people the weather. He wanted to keep sleeping. It was a Saturday. He wanted to sleep in on a Saturday.”

“It’s only natural,” I said, thinking of all the days I liked to sleep in, especially Saturdays.

But the people… they were counting on him. They needed him. So he went to a nearby shop, stood up on the counter, and demanded something that would help him stay awake so he could do his job. He said ‘hit me with your best shot,’” Teresa grinned. “You know what he got?

“Espresso!”

Cathy and I both smiled.

And when his friends asked what changed to make him the most productive groundhog ever, he replied, ‘Brew can do it!’”

Teresa and I laughed so hard our bellies ached.

“That is the absolute best groundhog story I have ever heard, Teresa!” Cathy applauded.

“Next time I see a groundhog, I will absolutely ask the guy, ‘Hey, hog! You seen my shadow?’”

“And the shadow would reply, ‘I got your back,’” I  joked.  

Oh that’s pretty shady,” Teresa giggled.

Your shadow puns have left me in the dark,” Cathy replied, and it was impossible to discern her mood.

This only made Teresa and I laugh harder.

This group has been fun,” Cathy directed at Teresa. “Speaking of groups, I’ve got research to do on the etymology of ‘group.’”

Without so much as a goodbye, Cathy Tea bounced into the library and plopped down at the nearest computer.

“Guess this group is a partnership now,” I winked at Teresa. “Is she always like that?”

Miss Tea is in her own universe sometimes,” Teresa replied.

“Sometimes I feel that way too,” I said. “Come on, let’s go find more books on puns.”

Maybe we can get the books to open up to us?” Teresa asked, with a grin as she took my hand.

I laughed. “Teresa, I think this is the beginning of a pun-derful friendship.”


Author Note: Thanks for reading. I appreciate the collaboration with CathyTea. It was a fun experience. For the record, all my Sims stories take place on another planet named Simterra in a star system in our galaxy somewhere. You can read more about my worldbuilding here. You might occasionally see things like “Deutchsim,” which is my Simworld version of Germany, and the “first” officially “settled” location on Simterra. Feel free to ask questions if you’d like. 

 

#2 How to Lock a Door (LASL)

Entry #2: How to Lock a Door 

You might be wondering how I made it to the age that I am without knowing how to lock a door. If you’re wondering my exact age, of course, I hate to disappoint you, but I’m not revealing that little fact about myself, other than to say that I am a twenties-something because doesn’t that sound more exciting than saying I am twenty? Ah…ah…ah… not telling… silly me! Where was I?

This is a strange world we live in… a world where people…er…Sims come and go as they please, and wander into each other’s rooms without a single speck of respect for privacy. I suppose I shouldn’t expect complete and utter control over my space since I am living with my parents. Yes, why am I living with my parents again? Like any self-respecting millennial, it is my desire to save money while I figure out my life post-college. I’m sitting at my desk here writing my long list of things I should do (or know) post college, and strange as it may sound, I am adding ‘how to lock a door.’

It all began when my kid sister barged into my room. That’s right. My adult sisters live at home too. I was typing away, working on this exact post. Eleanor (we call her Nora) took this as a sign that she could freely engage with me in conversation. Now Nora has always been a chatty sibling, the Green family social butterfly. We never can get her to “shut up.” When I shared a room with her back when we were both under the age of ten, Nora would chatter away every night as I would try to sleep. Personally, I like to be alone with my thoughts before I fall into a nice slumber, but Nora? She would prefer to talk 24-7 if she could.

I suppose I should cut her some slack. I haven’t been at home for awhile and she has certainly missed me. I missed her too, but I didn’t expect my ear to be talked off by an incessant stream of…

Oh, Lizzie, I’m so happy you’re home. You and I should totally go down to the Solar Flare tonight. I hear they’ve got rattlin’ music… get it? Rattlin’!

“Ha, ha, ha-larious.”

Of course, she could sense the sarcasm in my tone. Once upon a time, a certain someone thought a certain desert snake tail would make a lovely instrument for the orchestra game she insisted on making her sisters play, and that certain someone might have just failed to realize the “rattle” was still attached to the creature, and barely escaped with her life. Oh! I will never live that one down!

Say Lizzie, you’ve got great digs. Mom and Dad kept everything the way you left it.”

“Yeah. I’m glad they did.”

I really like your mirror… think we could trade?”

“What? My mirror?”

Yeah… don’t you think it would look positively smashing in mine?

Before I could fully formulate a sentence, she bounced out of my room in a much-too-perky manner, and returned moments later with her own mirror.

“You know… if it’s smashing… then isn’t it broken?”

She wrinkled her nose, but only for a brief flicker of a second, as a smile spread across her lips once more as she set up the floor length mirror in the corner of the room, and lifted the other mirror, my mirror, off the wall.

Lizzie, I missed your puns.

“And I’ll miss my mirror.”

Psh! You’ll hardly notice it’s gone.

“I already do…”

That’s the way things work in this world. Possessions are mine one minute and someone else’s the next. Things are here one moment and gone the next. Nora absconded with my mirror over my protests. To be fair, I didn’t fight it that much. She apparently cared way more about the looking glass than I did. Did this mean she was done bursting into my room? Nope. I managed to get a few more sentences typed before she returned. This time she prattled on about…

“…everyone at the parish says hi. They missed you. Mrs. Del Vega made those spice cookies you love, and I think she sent mom home with a welcome home basket or something for you. It’s downstairs on the dining table…oh! And Shepherd Carlson’s wife is pregnant again…

“Really?”

I tried incredibly hard to sound interested as my sister plopped down on my bed, shoes and all.

Yeah… you’re never going to believe this… with twins? Gawd, I can’t believe after all this time they are having twins?

“They’re adults. They can do what they want.”

We’re adults.”

Right. I have to keep reminding myself that I am an adult. It feels a bit more real now that I have a college degree.

“So are mom and dad mad that I overslept?”

Nora shrugged. “Eh… mom might be miffed, but dad was understanding. Figured you might be jet-lagged.

“Right.”

As I spoke, my mother wandered into the bedroom, without knocking, as usual.

Psh! I’m your mother. I can come in if I want. Did you sleep well sweetie? Want some lunch?

Oh, can I borrow fifty Simoleons?” Nora added, casually, as she leaned in to look at my screen. “And what are you writing?

Definitely need to get a lock installed. I stuck my nose in the air and minimized my screen out of annoyance.

“None of your beeswax,” I stuck my nose high in the air.

I didn’t want my family to know about the blog. What if they read it and hated it?

“And why the hell do you want fifty Simoleons?”

Language,” my mother clucked her tongue.

“Right… it is Sunday,” I sighed.

You shouldn’t swear any day.

So I take it I’m not getting fifty Simos?

Eleanor, quit trying to mooch off your sister. Go wash your hands. It’s time for lunch.

Fine, mom.

Nora flounced from the room, calling for our other sister in a rather shrill tone. I winced, saved my post, and shut down my computer.

“I slept fine, Mom.”

Good. Did you get a chance to watch the live stream of service? Dad set up the television downstairs for you to watch.

I bit my lower lip, pretending to brush dust from my desk. “Yeah,” I fibbed.

Truth was, I only managed to catch the last ten minutes of service… mostly because I forgot and was watching reruns of Haute Nights. This week’s episode had Sultry Sweete accusing Blaze Haute of cheating on her with the house maid. Well, turns out, the butler interrupted the lover’s quarrel and admitted to having an affair with the lady in question. Turns out Ms. Sweete was not so sweetly innocent after all. I’m not a super huge fan of reality television, but there isn’t much on television on a Sunday morning.

During lunch, I asked my father if he had any spare doorknobs lying around. Of course, this got me a few strange looks, but he explained that everything cost money so if I wanted a lock for my door, I would have to pay for it myself. Darn real world mechanics! I also would need to do the labor myself. I did say I wanted to know how to lock a door. After helping my sister, Lee with the dishes, I wandered back upstairs to see if I could find information about installing latches on doors, but surprisingly the world wide Web had little to offer me except crazy cat videos. For whatever reason, this world’s Internet lags and lacks helpful information for my search parameters. I guess, I’ll have to do this the old-fashioned way.

When I left Oasis Springs for college, we didn’t have a library. In fact, we didn’t have much of anything. It was a practically a ghost town. Now you can travel to many destinations within town and visit the multitude of people who moved in while I was away. I am not complaining. I hope to meet new people and make friends. And I can hardly contain my enthusiasm for a library with books on every subject under the sun… including handiness.

I bet they even have a chapter on how to install a bedroom door lock.


Author NoteI hope you enjoyed another installment of Livin’ A Simmin’ Life (LASL). Townies and submitted Sims will start showing up in the next chapter. I had to rearrange the furniture in Lizzie’s room because of routing issues so I wrote it into the story. I also dropped some “in-game” nuggets into the story just for kicks as Lizzie is a very self-aware Sim. Thanks for reading. Happy Simming! 🙂 

 

#1 How to Write a Blog (LASL)

Entry #1: ENTER TITLE HERE

How do you properly start a blog post? “Dear diary” sounds a little too too junior high. “Dear journal,” sounds way too formal and stiff. I like to go with the flow and write stream of consciousness so I don’t exactly want a formalized entry. No one is grading me, after all. I suppose I’ll just start.

After all, this is just a blank page on a computer screen. A few hours ago, I was writing notes for this entry while I was traveling. My pen was scribbling across the page so furiously that I accidentally knocked over my ginger ale in one of those cute plastic cups you get on the airplane. My seatmate, the woman sitting in the dreaded middle seat, glanced at me worriedly and offered me one of those tiny paper napkins with the plane logo on it and the destinations drawn on the back. As I mopped up the remnants of my watery soft drink and frantically stuck the melting ice cubes back in the plastic, I found myself looking for my final destination on the napkin.

This morning I woke up in for the final time in my university dorm room. Now I was back in my own room in the house I grew up in a dusty, dry-as-bones old town called Oasis Springs on the Simvada/Califorsimian border. I might as well be flying to a new world because this is about as far West in the Sim Nation you can get from my uni town. I resisted the urge to wave at the cacti as the plane descended through the clouds to the Oasis Springs Sims Airport. I say “Hello new life” because I will now enjoy the freedom of not needing to study at all hours of the day and night, I don’t have to eat dining hall food anymore, and I don’t have a roommate either. This life could be perfect, except… one small hitch….

I’m living with my parents. I know. I know. I know what you’re going to say, but hey! It’s fairly common for millennials to move back in with their parents. SBS News just reported that around 40% of young people are still living at home. The economy’s a bit rough right now, but what can I say? I’m optimistic this will work out for everyone involved.

However, my first BIG goal is to move out and find a place of my own. I expect to need to work for awhile and save some money before I can get my dream house. Dad and Mom are expecting me to pull my weight around the house in the meantime, whatever that means, though I’m pretty sure that means rent and chores. Maybe this deal wasn’t so great. Who wants to do chores?

If you couldn’t already guess, I’m a writer and aspiring author. I majored in communications, and minored in… well, if anyone cares about a minor these days, I’ll tell you. Let’s see. What else do you want to know about me? I read voraciously. Yes, I just used a big word. Send me your SimLit recommendations and I’ll add them to my radreads list.

When I left school, some people gave me gifts, most of them wrapped in hideous paper probably leftover from Christmas and baby showers, and envelopes with checks addressed to me. One of those gifts was a book called 101 Things You Should Do Post-College. Some of those suggestions are a little ridiculous like backpack around the world… Who has the money? and adopt a pet… Who has the time? Watching a movie that scares you seems pretty silly too. I don’t need to see zombies on screen eating brains for soup. I already feel like the living dead every morning before my cup of coffee.

Either way, I’m sitting here at my desk, typing out a list of 101 things I want to do now that I’ve graduated. Some of them are personal goals like binge watching the Simflix shows in my queue and probably figuring out some kind of work-out routine that doesn’t involve passing out. Some of them are profession goals like get a part-time job and finish writing a novel. Some are life skills like learn how to cook a meal and create a blog. I came up with a name for this blog: Life With a Splash of Whimsy. I don’t know if anyone will read this. I read somewhere that the best thing to do when writing a blog is to be honest…and to write for yourself. So that’s what I’m doing. That…and you’re supposed to have something interesting to say. I’ll let you be the judge.

Of course I have added things that are on everyone’s list like make new friends and fall in love. I’ve never been in love. I don’t think. I’ve had crushes, but nothing like the real grownup-head-over-heels-can’t-think-straight-can’t-live-without-’em kind-of love. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I’m the romantic type. That’s for my kid sister, Nora. She’s the one who’s in love with love. Me? I went on a couple dates in high school and college.

The first guy I ever had a crush on, the older kind of crush, not the I-think-he’s-cute-in-third-grade-with-his-nerdy-glasses-and-smile-that-makes-you-go-squish kind-of crush. This was the real deal, or so I thought. His name was Mike and he was a couple years older. He delivered pizza in our neighborhood for this restaurant called Pizza Planet, and oh boy! Could he have my heart? He was a hot slice with extra cheese… and by cheese, I literally mean cheese. My dad always ordered extra cheese on our pizzas. It was a Friday night ritual to order pizza when my dad would come home from work, and Mike never failed to be our delivery guy, and I’d always rush to the door to pay the guy because hey! How else would he know I was alive? Junior boys generally don’t want to be seen with freshman girls.

When I said hot, he probably wasn’t really all that hot.  He was kinda sloppy with his messy hair  flying every which way out from under his delivery cap, and his plaid shirt was never tucked in and his jeans always seemed to have stains of some kind. I never realized those stains were actually blood stains, and before the brain jumps to worst case scenario, I’ll say this – no, he was not secretly an ax murderer. He just got into fights a lot with boys from school. Our town of Oasis Springs doesn’t have much in the line of entertainment and bored teen boys pick fights with one another. It’s just what they do. However, I, in my innocence and naivete, always assumed the stains were tomato sauce. The boy did work in a pizza shop after all.

Mike was super friendly and had these flirty eyes. He would call me “brown eyes,” and I thought it was amazing that he would even notice me, especially when I had an older sister, a pretty brunette outgoing funny older sister who knew how to make boys laugh and like her. I’m talking about my other sister, Emily, but everyone calls her Lee. Sometimes Lee would beat me to the door to pay Mike just to rub it in my face and she would lean against the door frame with that “come hither” look that made all the boys in our school crazy. But we were the “look-can’t-have” sisters, or at least that’s what people called us at school because our parents wouldn’t let us date… at least not officially. He always said it was so distracting to our studies and we would have plenty of time for boys when we grew up.

Wow, I got distracted. Okay, so Mike… yeah, obviously we didn’t work out. I started doing volunteer work at the hospital when I was thirteen and Mike worked there too. What I didn’t know at the time was Mike was there doing community service not because he wanted to like me, but because he had to. He got in trouble with the law a few times, and was with a group of high school dropouts and stole some candy bars and sodas and stuff from a convenience store. The only one we have in town. Apparently this news hadn’t reached my ears so I was totally oblivious to his criminal record, and the fact that the judge granted him community service and probation instead of jail time.

So Mike showed up at the hospital in his scrubs with that disarming smile on his scruffy looking face, and I just grinned like an idiot. After some flirting at the office check-in desk where we worked and me dropping the phone one too many times when he would smile at me, he got the hint and asked me out. Of course, I was disappointed because I would have to tell him no. I wasn’t even fourteen yet and my dad had said no dating.

But Mike, the charmer that he was, figured out a way for us to “see” each other without it technically being dating. We met in the hospital cafeteria on our break and he bought me a half a turkey and gravy sandwich with a limp piece of lettuce and a side of lumpy mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce from a jar. It was right before Thanksgiving break and it might as well have been a five-star, four-course meal because I was in heaven. He even dabbed at some gravy droplets on my cheek, and used some of the cheesiest pick-up lines ever, but I didn’t care. A boy was paying attention to me.

Our romance was short-lived. He asked me to meet him in the hospital chapel one day. The room was pretty dark because they liked to keep the lights dim for the patients. Apparently, Mike thought this was the perfect place for a make-out session, and maybe he hoped for other things which I shall not mention. We didn’t even get to the kiss. I was too scared. He called me a “little girl.” Ouch! Did that ever hurt my feelings? I ran out of the chapel crying and left my shift, calling my dad to come pick me up.

Mike transferred to another school so he stopped coming to the hospital and then last I heard he dropped out. I saw him once after that when I was buying school supplies. I had grown up some since I was a junior in high school and I had started filling out. I was pretty proud of the fact that I looked more womanly so I puffed my chest out like an idiot grateful I had borrowed my sister Lee’s sleeveless blouse the color of summer raspberries and planned to march over to Mike to give him a piece of my mind.

Unfortunately, he turned around and pushed his cart down another aisle and I lost my nerve. Who was I to try and fix a fate that was not supposed to be? What’s funny is that blouse looks better on me than it ever did on Lee. In fact, she ended up giving it to me, and I’m planning to wear it today to services later.

I continued volunteering all through high school and the Bell Memorial Hospital was renamed the Bloom Institute of Wellness. They even took away the traditional gift shop and replaced it with a healing shop with strange potions and colored prayer rocks and other “new age” trinkets as my dad liked to call it. My family wasn’t much into “new age,” and my Granny told me to avoid those kinds of things, not even with a ten foot pole. I missed the teddy bears and the sweet smelling flowers and the pretty glitter cards, but it didn’t really matter. I wasn’t going to become a patient just to get those things, and I had decided I wasn’t really into romance. Or so I thought…

The next guy I was into was named Zion and he was a tall runner for the high school track team, and he had the most beautiful dark brown skin. I met him during my sophomore year. I had a friend, Maria, who also ran track. We had chemistry lab together. I remember scheming about the ways I could go out with Zion. He went to my church, and I think he was my Secret Santa one year. He left me oatmeal raisin cookies in my mailbox. Of course, any guy who could bake would make my book, and when Dad asked where they were from, I told him it was a silly youth group thing. Maria invited me to the track meet which was the perfect cover for my presence. Zion ran by, smiling and waving. He came over and talked to me for a few minutes, stretching along the low chain-link fence, and I couldn’t help but admire his muscles.

When the boys and girls track team won the meet, Zion invited me to join the team for pizza. I called dad and of course, I could go since I was with Maria. We giggled in the van the whole way to the pizza shop. Thankfully, Nick was no longer there or that would’ve been awkward. Zion came over and sat backwards on a chair at our table. I thought he looked so cool. He talked about video games that I didn’t play and movies I didn’t want to see, but I didn’t really care. He was talking to me. He had an extra pre-packaged Little Maggie cake, a zebra-striped one filled with creme, and he gave it to me. I remember sitting on the edge of my rooftop that night outside my window, the best place to get privacy, and chatted with Maria about how swoon-worthy the man was, and how I would never eat this cake because it was a gift from him and I wanted to save it forever. Of course, it grew mold and I had to throw it out because that was disgusting, but I held onto it for a long time. That should probably say something about the preservatives they put into those things.

I suppose I should have known things wouldn’t work out. My parents wouldn’t let me date after all, and that got tiring for Zion. He didn’t particularly like that we could only hang out at his track meets or school-approved events. Once on a field trip to Sim City, he sat by me on the bus and tried to hold my hand. He proceeded to pull every single one of my silicone wristbands that were super popular way back in the day, and ask me about each one. I had too many. I knew. He commented on how tiny my wrists and hands were, and how if I ever came over to his house, his mamma would fatten me up. I didn’t know if I should take that as a compliment, an invitation, or an insult. After all, I was and still am a super skinny girl.

I saw his mother once and she was puffed up like a balloon, but she made these delicious Simanese dumplings for our youth group. Maybe I just didn’t realize it then, but Zion and Mike had one thing in common. They both wanted me to have more curves. It was just another sign that I wasn’t a woman yet, and that was super discouraging. I stopped liking Zion during that trip. He made fun of me because I had hair all over my legs. I had never shaved before. I didn’t even know what shaving was. My mom and dad didn’t tell me, and my older sister was too busy to discuss her grooming habits with me. I was so embarrassed. Apparently, hairy legs was a turnoff for him.

My last crush was Lawrence. I met him during my second year of college. He was a gorgeous Simanese young man. He played concert piano, and boy! Was he fabulous? He could sit down at a piano and play any song. You name it. Any song. Didn’t matter who the composer was or how complicated the piece was or what genre. He could play it. I recall he had a pretty attractive older brother too, but Lawrence was the guy I really wanted.

He was also a talented artist and he drew the comics for the college newspaper. I recall reading it every day and pasting some of those comics on my bulletin board. Frankly, there was little he couldn’t do. At least in my eyes.

One night on campus, it was raining cats and dogs. I was hungry, and Lawrence was in the lounge. He invited me to join him for a late night snack. We ran to the corner store in the rain, and of course, I had this idea that walking in the rain with your crush was romantic, but it wasn’t. I was just soaked by the time we made it to the store. He bought me a corndog and a blue raspberry slushie, but it might as well have been the moon. I may have fibbed a little and said I left my wallet back at the dorm. I did, but I did it on purpose, so perhaps this romance idea I had cooked up in my brain wasn’t exactly totally honest. I guess I didn’t care.

When we returned to the dorm, we ate our food and dried out near the furnace and he offered to teach me how to play chess. Of course, I acted super enthusiastic. He could teach me algebra and I wouldn’t care. I wanted to learn something from him. It would’ve been great too, except K, one of my suitemates, interrupted and wanted to play with us. I was jealous too because she shared the piano bench with Lawrence while I sat in the chair across from them, and she looked all cute too in her extra long tee shirt. I bet she wasn’t even wearing shorts underneath and she kept touching Lawrence’s leg and laughing. I fumed, but tried to keep it in because I didn’t want to explode in anger in front of my crush. I suppose some things just aren’t meant to be.

So that’s my experience with love. I figure new state, fresh start, right? I hope to meet some guy who is worthy of my affection. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just write and pay bills and find a job and do normal adult things. Which reminds me… I’m going to be late.

Opps… it looks like I overslept and the parents already left in their car. *Sigh* Adulting is hard.

Until next time…

🙂 Lizzie


Author Note: Hey everyone, I originally wrote this post for a TS3 story, and then decided it worked for my Simself in TS4. With a whole lot of editing of words, order, details, and pictures, I finally had a piece I was happy with, and so I present you chapter one of Livin’ A Simmin’ Life, Part One: Family Ties. I hope you enjoyed. 🙂

1.17 Hurry Home (ALOW)

Jenara and Gar settled into a nice routine together. Working out at the gym, drinks at the Rattlesnake, dinners in the park after chess matches – hot dogs for her and tofu dogs for him. She found herself thoroughly enjoying his company and missing him when he was gone. One early autumn evening, she was jogging around her neighborhood when a sudden feeling hit her – something she couldn’t quite describe but she knew what it was still the same. It was around the same time, she received a text message from him.

Hurry home, it said.

She picked up her pace. Gar had arranged for a buddy of his to pave a new brick walkway lined with lovely flower lamps for her front yard. The work was supposed to be done today, and Jenara assumed Gar had paid the workers and was waiting for her to arrive.

Gar was waiting for her outside her house when she returned. His face lit up, shining more brightly than the full moon. Jenara felt her heart skip a beat.

“Hello stranger,” she said in a sultry voice.

“Stranger?” he made a face. “I should hope we’re not strangers.”

“No, we’re not,” she smirked. “But I was… just being playful.”

“I like it when you’re playful,” he grinned. 

“Oh really?” she teased. “Like this… when I strike a funny pose? Ta-da!”

“You are funny and playful, and smart, Miss Jenara Yearling. I love being around you…” he complimented, seriously. “And I love the way you make me feel.” 

“And I love you,” he added.

With that, his lips met her own, and she melted into bliss.

1.16 Happy (ALOW)

After the dinner with the Kims, Jenara walked out of her bedroom and was pleased to find the outlines of a pink something-or-other sitting on her dining room table. She snagged her glasses from beside the fruit bowl so she could see better. It was a giant pink stuffed bear holding a cushioned heart, and a note was pinned to its back.

I very much would like to take you on a “date” again. This time, alone…and I’ll pay. 

It was signed – Gar – with a fun, curley-cue G. Jenara felt giddy as she squeezed the gift in her arms, and wondered how he managed to sneak the stuffed animal into her house. Plucking an orange from her fruit bowl, she began peeling the skin, and thought about how nice it was to be dating again. She hadn’t been on a solid date since college.

Gar texted around noon and asked if Jenara wanted to meet him for a workout. Of course, she did. She eagerly jogged over to the Burners and Builders gym. She had been meaning to check the place out. When she saw Garbanzo standing on the sidewalk, his muscly arms exposed and his chocolate-colored skin glimmering in the afternoon sun, she about melted into happiness.

“You okay there?” he asked with a chuckle as she walked right into the curb.

Jenara chuckled weakly. “Heh…heh… I’m fine. How are you?”

You are fine, she thought.

Strangely enough, her workout companion did not follow her into the gym. Jenara tried to figure out the exercise equipment while Gar did push-ups in the street. She found the action odd as she assumed he wanted to spend time with her, but nonetheless, she determined the treadmill would not get the best of her, warming up with a few push-ups of her own before starting her running routine. 

At about four-thirty, Jenara took a break and wandered back outside to discover Gar had cooked them tofu-dogs on the grill across the road. Starving from her workout, she plopped down on the bench and began chowing down on the meal. Tofu wasn’t exactly her thing, but she was willing to try it for the sake of Gar.

“You hate it?” he frowned.

“No?” she replied, between bites of bun and tofu. “Yes…maybe…” she laughed and wiped her mouth to remove a blob of mustard. “It’s not terrible.”

“You’re not a vegetarian,” he hung his head. “I assumed. Because of the veggie burgers.”

“Because they were in my fridge,” Jenara burst out. “I like meat, but I do like vegetables too. And I’m willing to try new things, especially if I can throw mustard onto some things. Mustard is a delicious plant,” she bobbed her head as she shoved another bite into her mouth. “It’s really not that bad.”

Gar’s face relaxed into a big smile. “Thanks Jenara. I’ll take not-that-bad.”

“You better,” she gave him a friendly punch in the arm. “And I can make veggie burgers from a box for you anytime.”

Gar laughed.

Jenara stood, and began cleaning up their food, but he stopped her and placed his arms around her tightly, offering a nice squeeze. She felt her heart pounding as she could feel his breath on her cheek and ear.

“I really like you,” he whispered.

“I…” her voice caught. “…like you too. You make me very happy.”

Previous Chapter: 1.15 Third Wheel 

1.15 Third Wheel (ALOW)

“These watermelon mojitos…” Jenara began, taking a sip of her drink.

“…are amazing,” Gar finished her statement.

They shared a happy look. So far the evening was going well. They chose to sit at the bar and enjoy a beverage together while waiting for Dennis to show. They joked around, laughed, and talked about everything from the time Gar’s home remedy for aphids to Jenara’s slight obsession with the Justice League and the weather. Of course, the weather was a safe topic. Jenara figured you couldn’t go wrong with sunshine and clouds.

“Do you like spinach?” he asked.

“Why do I have some in my teeth?” Jenara covered her mouth, self-consciously.

“Oh no,” he reached out and pulled her hand. “You have nothing in your teeth. Why did you think you did?” he laughed.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Jenara replied. “I guess… spinach gets caught in my teeth easily.”

“Then no spinach-wrapped burritos for you tonight,” he smiled.

“Oh I like spinach, but my teeth don’t,” she added. “You recommend the veggie burrito?”

“Yeah, it’s good,” he nodded, leaning over the counter to flag the bartender.

Jenara glanced about, wondering about their dining companion. “I wonder where Dennis is.”

“Hey hi,” a woman in a brightly orange, lace-lined tank top and a full tattooed sleeve plopped onto a bar stool and waved. “I’m Alice. Dennis is my father.”

“Oh, um… hi…” Jenara said, stiffly, taken aback by the attractive dark-haired woman.

“Hello,” Gar said politely. “Alice, it is a pleasure to meet you.”

He stretched out his hand and bowed his head slightly as a sign of respect.

“You know your Simorean traditions,” Alice remarked. “I’m impressed.”

“Ah, yes, I spent some time studying the flora in Southern Simina as an undergrad,” he explained.

Jenara blinked. You learn something new every day. She didn’t realize Gar had traveled outside the country, and she hadn’t thought to ask him what he studied in college. She could’ve kicked herself now, realizing she hadn’t been showing him enough interest. Alice continued to ramble about how much she loved nature, and how fascinating it was that Gar was a PlantSim. She explained how she was a painter, and she only painted living things, particularly plants and flowers, and she felt that was her way of giving back to the grand universe. When she stretched her arms, she showed off even more of her tattoos. Jenara felt uncomfortable, as she knew little to nothing about painting, and she felt she had very little skills about which she could brag. Alice finally asked Gar if he would be willing to sit for a portrait sometime, as she would “love” to add a “PlantSim specimen” to her collection. Sure you would, Jenara thought sarcastically.

“Where is…uh… Dennis?” she asked, laying a hand across Gar’s arm subtly.

Alice took note as she glanced down, but then smiled. “He’s on his way. He was just parking the car. Valet around here is pricey.”

“Tell me about it,” Gar chuckled.

Great! Jenara thought. I’m a horrible first date because I didn’t ask him the kinds of questions I should…and… I took him to an expensive restaurant. 

“Excuse me, I’ll go powder my nose,” Alice slid from her seat. “You wanna come?” she looked at Jenara, who shook her head. “Okay, just thought I’d ask. Dad should be in momentarily.”

Gar reached over, and gave Jenara’s hand a reassuring pat. “I came here with you tonight.”

Jenara flushed, and smiled. He knew? 

“Jenara?”

She turned her head to see J, the guy who had attended her party at the beginning of the summer for the PlantSims. He was wearing the same powder blue sweater tossed over his shoulders and tied loosely around his neck. Jenara thought it made him look like a prep school grad ready for the beach, but the ocean was a long way from Oasis Springs.

“Hey, it’s good to see you,” J said with punchy enthusiasm.

Jenara stepped down off her bar stool, and Gar stood up next to her.

“This is Garbanzo Hawthorne…” she introduced. “And this is J Huntington the Third.”

“The Third?” Gar repeated, shaking the man’s hand. “You can call me Gar, J.”

“Thanks, and yeah, dad and grandad had my name,” J said, proudly. “Grandad was one of the first guys to blast off into space when they relaunched the space program and expansion, and Dad was started his own company. You may know of the Huntington Post?”

“The news site?” Jenara asked, her eyes widening. “Yeah, I know it. I used to read it every morning when I was in college. I liked the dedicated geek culture section.”

“Oh yeah, the Hunt Post offers all sorts of stuff. Did you see Tuesday’s article about how obsessed everyone is with the new mobile games?” J asked. “And how they are the ultimate stress reliever.”

“Yeah, I kill at Question Quash,” Jenara fist-bumped J, to which he replied, “I must challenge you sometime, then.”

“Isn’t it just an opinion site with gossip more so than news?” Gar said, sounding almost unimpressed.

“No… it’s a legit new site,” J said defensively, but his voice wavered. “Why? Do you dislike gossip?”

“Yeah, sure,” Gar shrugged.

“Gossip is our bread and butter,” J spread his arms and smiled.

“Well, that’s Dennis,” Jenara stepped between the men, and tugged Gar’s arm. “We’ve got dinner plans. Nice to see you, J.”

“Nice to see you too, Jenara. Come by the office sometime. I’ll get my dad to autograph an edition for you,” J smiled suavely.

“That would be…” Jenara could feel Gar tightening his grip. “…nice… thanks.”

As she walked over to the table with Dennis and Alice, she could sense Gar was starting to relax. Now he knows how I felt… She looked up at him and smiled sweetly, whispering in his ear, “I came here with you.”


Simorea is my Simworld version of South Korea. Simina is my Simworld version of Asia. The Huntington Post is a play on the Huffington Post. Question Quash is a random game I made up. Hope you enjoyed!

Previous Chapter: 1.14 It’s a Date 

1.14 It’s a Date (ALOW)

After two weeks of “chess matches” in the park, Jenara improved her game and skills. Gar was a patient teacher, and chess was a slow game, but she didn’t particularly want to hold him back. After investigating online, she found a “reigning” champ in the area named Dennis Kim. The name sounded familiar, and Jenara suddenly recalled he was her property manager. She called up Dennis and asked if he would meet with Gar. The man was only too happy to oblige her request. So that’s how Jenara and Gar ended up sitting awkwardly on a bench outside the Rattlesnake Juice Bar on a cooler-than-usual summer evening.

Should I have clarified that this isn’t a date? she worried. Well maybe it is. I do like him… but do I really like him like that? 

“How hungry are you?” Gar inquired, breaking through the strange silence. 

“Me?” Jenara pointed to herself.

“Yes, you,” his mouth relaxed into a charming smile. “No, that potted palm over there.”

“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “Maybe it’s thirsty. Or needs fertilizer. Then it could be hungry.”

“You’re a funny girl, Jenara,” Gar smirked. “In fact, you’re one of the funniest girls I’ve ever met. And pretty too.” 

“Stop,” she said with an awkwardly girlish giggle. “I’m not that funny.”

A heat rose in her cheeks. “Wait, you think I’m pretty?”

“Of course, you’re pretty,” he replied.

“No!” she chuckled, disbelievingly.

“You don’t know how to take a compliment, do you?”

Jenara caught her breath. Suddenly her evening companion and chess buddy was very serious and very close. He even laid his hand on top of her own as if to emphasize his seriousness.

“Well, here I am all geeky and gangling and weird with a really great guy so… uh… yeah…” she stuttered as she realized what she said.

“Do I make you uncomfortable?” he inquired, looking deeply into her eyes.

“No?” she squeaked.

You make me feel wonderful and like butterflies are doing the Macarena in my stomach. 

“Yes, maybe…a little… only because I don’t know how to do this,” she slumped her shoulders and sighed.

“What? Date?” he asked.

Jenara flushed. “Oh…um…uh… this isn’t… a date…” she stammered.

“It’s not?” he tilted his head, removing his hand from her own.

He’s disappointed, she figured.

“Well… um… unless you want it to be… I just thought you’d like to meet Dennis.”

“Well, sure, but do you want it to be?”

YES! UM… WHAT? 
“Okaaaay…” she conceded awkwardly, her words dragging. “It’s a date on one condition.”

“Anything.”

“We split the check.”

Gar closed his eyes for a moment and seemed to ponder her request. “Deal.”


Previous Chapter: 1.13 Kings and Queens 

1.13 Kings and Queens (ALOW)

How do I look? Jenara wondered as she glanced at herself in the tiny chrome-lined mirror of the parks and recreational services bathroom. Perhaps the spiked collar was too much, and she should tone down and soften her appearance. Maybe she looked a little too much like a high schooler in her jacket. Perhaps she should just wear the black tank top and show a little more skin. No, she frowned. The heat from the Oasis Springs sun was enough to roast her alive. Better keep my arms covered.

“I have to warn you, Gar,” she explained, sheepishly as she sat down on the park chair. “I haven’t ever played chess before.”

“You haven’t?” he quirked a brow.

“Well, no,” she winced. “I just thought… it would be fun…to learn… I guess… and when you asked, I thought, why not? A fresh new skill might be just the thing I need. And I’m sure you’re a good teacher.” 

“Thanks, I’m flattered,” Gar replied. “Still I was kinda hoping for a worthy opponent.”

“Oh?” Jenara said,disappointed. “I should’ve been honest with you. I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t be, it’s fine,” he shook his head. “I would like to teach you.”

“Really? Are you sure?” she asked, hesitantly.

“So you don’t know anything about chess?” he asked.

“I know there are kings and queens,” Jenara said enthusiastically.

“And bishops and knights and pawns,” Gar sighed, but began moving pieces around the board. “Here. I’ll show you what each one is.”

“Can I be a queen?”


Previous Chapter: 1.12 Making Friends 

1.12 Finding Friends (ALOW)

Jenara jogged across her lawn toward the street. There were always neighbors out and about. Someone would share her veggie burgers. She was certain.

Sure enough as she rounded the house, she spotted Don Lothario running along the sidewalk.

“Don!” she called out. “Hey Don!”

The man was in his own little world, listening to whatever melodies and harmonies streamed through his headphones. Jenara tried waving, but by that point, he was already past her view.

“Oh well,” she sighed.

Jenara started down the street, whistling a happy little tune, something she heard on the television program she watched yesterday. The sun hadn’t fully risen yet, a sort-of fuzzy unripe peach in the morning sky, but cast a lovely rosy-orange glow all around. She spotted Sandra Roth crossing the street, and started to call after her, but the girl kept her head slumped and ignored Jenara.

I wonder what her deal is. She seems pretty goth and depressed all the time, Jenara observed.

“Oh, Vito!” she exclaimed, seeing the green-skinned man continue down the sidewalk behind her. “How have you been, my friend?”

“We’re not friends,” he replied, gruffly.

“Oh but I thought we could be,” she said cheerily. “It’s such a beautiful morning. I made some veggie bur…”

“Butt out, pep squad,” he growled. “And stay away from my wife. She’s already happy enough without your influence.”

With that, Vito Terrano turned and stomped down the road, leaving a confused, and somewhat sad Jenara. Why don’t people like me? she wondered, with dismay. Was she too bubbly and bright and cheery? But wasn’t that the way to make friends?

Jenara remembered a word of advice from her aunt, Ana Nova. Once Jenara came home from school with skinned knees and a bruised ego. Her “friends” had made fun of her in front of the boy she liked, and Jenara had been so crushed she wasn’t paying attention and rode her bicycle into a bush. The girls from school laughed and didn’t help her. They called her stupid and said only a loser would crash into a bush on their bike. She had been so humiliated. She cried and said she never wanted to go to school again, and it was the end of the world. Her auntie had set her on the counter, and gave her a spoonful of her favorite dark cherry ice cream.

Did you know that if you cut a tulip, it will continue to grow up to an inch in a vase?” Ana Nova had said. 

Jenara recalled giving her aunt a puzzled look.

“Sometimes people will say things that are cruel and they cut you to your core,” Ana Nova continued. “But like the cut on a tulip stem, it doesn’t mean the end of life. You can grow stronger and taller from adversity. You know this word, right?”

Jenara bobbed her head, the spoon dangling from her mouth.

“There are people in the world who do cruel things, but don’t ever stop being the lovely red tulip, my sweet sun blossom,” Ana Nova kissed Jenara’s hair. “You will find growth in the healing.” 

With newfound purpose, Jenara decided to walk further down the road and visit the park. Perhaps she would find friends there, and someone to share her veggie burgers.

Sure enough she met Gar. He wasn’t in his PlantSim form, and she thought he looked handsome in his jean jacket, neatly pressed khakis, and baseball cap. He was even wearing her favorite color shirt.

“What do you say about professional cows?” he asked.

“Um?” she frowned, thinking hard.

“They are outstanding in their field!” he joked.

Jenara covered her stomach as she laughed. “Oh that’s cheesy. Wait… I have one… why do cows have hooves instead of feet?” She grinned broadly. “Because they lactose.”

Gar doubled over, laughing hysterically. “You’re funny, Jenara Yearling.”

“Do you like veggie burgers?” she blurted out, and then blushed, feeling uncomfortable about her over-enthusiasm. “I mean… I made some… back at my house… they’re just sitting there… all alone…and I could some help eating them. I know they’re not exactly a traditional breakfast…”

“Oh I like veggie burgers,” Gar bobbed his head.

“Good,” Jenara grinned. “You wanna come?” she nodded in the direction of her house, and Gar fell into step. “Say, Gar?”

“Yes?”

“Would you like to be my friend?”

Gar took off his cap and placed his arm over his chest. “It would be my honor, Jenara.”


It is my goal to start updating this story on Wednesdays around midnight MST.  

Previous Chapter: 1.11 Veggie Burgers