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From our Unnaturally Green contest participants

Thank you again to everyone who entered the Unnaturally Green writing contest! Check out these awesome excerpts from the 50+ submissions.

Kyle D.
Rohnert Park, California

4:45 a.m. And we were up. In the bay area of California, it’s rather chilly at this particular hour, the fog having rolled in from the ocean the previous evening. It will be there till mid-morning, when the sun sneaks out of its hiding place, everyday, like clockwork. Perfect for our purposes. Careful not to wake up her mother, Grace and I slipped on our sweaters, downed a mug of tea, and gathered our sustenance for the trip: Ghirardelli chocolate chips and nectarine each. Shivering as the early morning breeze hit us, we stepped out into her garage and mounted our bicycles.

With a laugh, I removed my sweatshirt and shoes and took off my pajama pants to reveal shorts and an old t-shirt. Grace did the same, but she stood there her shirt and undies, for crying out loud!

“This may be public indecency…” but I said it as I took a step forward.

We reached the target: the fountain. It was big and round and about three and a half feet deep. We’d been thinking about it all summer. With broad smiles, we dipped our feet in, the uncertainty washing away. Laughing and singing our adventure song, we swam in a fountain, cops all around, in our finest undergarments.

Tricia L.
Dublin, Ireland

Me? Weeeelll, I can carry a tune -- albeit occasionally in a slightly leaky bucket -- and I can hold my own in a sing-song. But don't ask me to perform solo. Seriously, don't! The result may not be pretty.

The song in question was none other than 'O Holy Night,' a beautiful hymn with a real anthem feel to it.   Lovely solo sections, beautiful choral harmonies, moving from soft and gentle to serious Belt (it needed the capital letter) and all the stops in between. Now, the closest I have ever been to good breath control is a really supportive bra, and the only experience I have of "belt" is that thing which prevents my trousers from aptly and most excellently demonstrating Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. You see where this is going?

Shira H.
Highland Park, Illinois

Being at camp with many girls who wore tefillin reassured me that the common stereotypes of girls who wear tefillin are not true. I do not wear tefillin to make a statement about my sexual orientation, my political views, or my views on feminism -- because that is not who I am. I’m not that girl. Instead, the girl I am is Shira Ilana Harris, who wears tefillin because she finds meaning in wearing it while praying. It helps me connect to my heritage, my religious traditions, and God.

Morgan A.
Mechanicsville, Virginia

When most people realize they're different, it makes them feel uncomfortable; not me. I've always embraced it and that's thanks to my incredibly amazing parents who have supported me in everything I've ever wanted to do. When I started to realize I was gay, I did feel uncomfortable but I had their encouragement to accept myself and just be me. Ever since then, I've never really thought about being gay. I may be gay, but I'm much more than that; I'm naturally gay. A few months after coming out at age 18, however, I was unnaturally straight.

John F.
Hanover, New Hampshire

At the age of 59, I decided to find the love of my life and live happily ever after. I went online, naturally.

I constructed my profile. Honesty and forthrightness are everything. I described myself. I revised my description. I read other guys descriptions. I revised again. Be succinct. Spell succinct correctly. No errors. Is that me, or is that who I wish I were or is it wish I was? Check grammar.

What do these women want in a mate? Someone to dance tango on the beach and play scrabble with, as they tour the world. Drat, scrabble renders me monosyllabic. Why is "quiet, bookworm, nebbish" not on anyone's list?

Cathlene L.
Chicago, Illinois

I made the turn, but was instantly alarmed to see an older gentleman waving to us, beckoning as if he had some important wisdom to impart. Thinking this was another plain-clothed construction worker, I stopped, rather annoyed, and rolled down Beth’s window from my driver side control panel.

The man brought his face to her window and asked, “Where are you gals headed?”

I replied, “To Eagle Harbor, is the road open?”

“Yep, as far as I know, I’d surely appreciate the ride!”

With that, he moved to open my back passenger door. Not missing a beat, Beth said, “It’s a hitchhiker, FLOOR IT! GO!”

But I froze, and then it was too late. The man had already opened the door and was inside my car, trying in vain to make room among the summer’s worth of teenage clutter accumulated in the backseat.

It was then I became acutely aware that we were about to be savagely murdered.

Tara S.
Christchurch, New Zealand

Our central city was destroyed. Many people lost their homes and -- the most gut-wrenching part -- a death toll of 182. My city was ripped apart from the inside out. People fled, people cried, people mourned. I was one of the lucky ones....Despite the fact that we all suffered a tragedy, my city came together. We were all ‘newbies’ in this situation, but we all did our part. And we managed to have some laughs, also -- some of my favourite memories being sorting through the donated clothing and finding some… attractive knitted hats, and patrolling the grounds on the night shift with a boy who I’d only just met, and having a deep and meaningful talk sitting on the school field under the stars. Christchurch isn’t what it used to be. It never will be. But it will be better, stronger, and full of welcoming kind people, willing to give up their own comforts for others. I don’t live in a city anymore. I live in a community.

Tyler D.
Wantagh, New York

This year, the show was going to be You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. ...After audition week, I was notified that I made the callbacks! So I was pretty excited and ready to kick some Charlie Brown ass on callback day. Callbacks went great but now it was time for the cast list to go up. The next Friday, it was posted. Somehow, by some random god of newbies to middle school theatre, I landed the role of Charlie Brown.

Loren R.
Tonbridge, Kent, UK

I could see my fingers trembling as I opened the door to the audition room -- a room that has since been named (by me) ‘the room of doom.’ The three judges were sitting by the little piano (which looked like it had seen better days, frankly) all in a row, legs all crossed the same way, which led me to believe they were all probably robots. It reminded me of the X Factor, except they looked way scarier than Simon Cowell.

“What are you going to be singing for us?”

“Popular,” I replied, voice a little shaky, but at least I hadn’t forgotten the name of the damn thing.

“I’m really sorry if it’s rubbish, this is my first ever audition, and I’m very nervous.” Oh God. I’d become one of those people who made excuses. I hated those people, and had always thought them pathetic. And now I was one of them! Holy hell.

..."When the song was over, I let out a HUGE sigh of relief, coughed a couple of times, and stood looking a bit gormless and still red-faced, like a human tomato. They clapped, and my Director said “I don’t know why you were worried, that was gorgeous!”

Courtney A.
Shreveport, Louisiana

Once upon a time … Who am I kidding? This is not a fairy tale, but it does have a happy ending (I think). So, let me start over. This is a story about how I, Courtney Blayr Anderson -- an 18 year-old from a small town in Louisiana -- survived a crazy, unpredictable, emotional, cruel, amazing, and scary ride, otherwise known as “The first day of college”....There were only sixty three people in my graduating class, so at home I was a big fish in a small pond; but here, I was a little guppy in a never-ending sea of people and knowledge. I felt like I had been thrown into my very own version of “Finding Nemo” -- except I had no adorable little blue fish following me around helping remember where my classes were.

Audrey H.
Early, Texas

The parentals began prepping me for pre-med (blehh). I doubled up on sciences and took college anatomy and biology classes as a junior in high school. I was a ticking stress bomb.

I’m going to be a freshman in college. I auditioned for the musical, South Pacific. I felt even greener because I was up against upperclassmen. I was terrified. I got the lead though. As a freshman! I feel less and less green as time goes on. There will always been a little green inside me, though. Maybe because I’ll be Elphie Thropp one day? Hmm, who knows? Being green—unnaturally green—made me who I am; it made my dreams.

Mirando P.
Coral Springs, Florida

I never imagined myself writing a novel. I did not even know how to begin navigating the waters of the detailing it took to produce a piece of artistry that could possibly be sold in stores. Even though writing had always been something comforting for me to turn to I felt like an outsider when it came to wanting to become the next Jodi Picoult.

I questioned every single keystroke I made. Can I describe someone like this? How do you write a situation like that? Am I using too much dialogue? I even had the self-doubt of: “No one is ever going to want to read this, so why am I writing it?” It wasn’t like I was Danielle Steele -- who writes 5 novels at once, and knows exactly what she is doing. I had no clue how to write a male character. Were his actions too feminine? Do guys enjoy these activities? I was the green girl in the world of novel writing.

James H.
Coronado, California

I arrived a few weeks early, and was breech. This was of some concern, but they were totally unprepared to learn that I had a cleft palate. It was almost like Elphaba’s birth, except I wasn’t green, my dad didn’t hate me, and there was no goat midwife.

Jason W.
Princeton Junction, New Jersey

Over the years, I had developed the reputation of the one who always backed out; roller coasters, banana boat riding, being within a 100-foot radius of clowns. Suddenly, a rage of fury came through my head. It was going to be different this time. I slowly walked to the ledge and closed my eyes. You’ve sung in front of thousands of people before; you can ride a silly zip line. I felt the inside of my body begin to leave. My mind fell numb. This was more extreme than the time I was under loopy gas at the dentist. Without realizing what I was doing, I felt my feet tip off the ledge. I started to fall.

Abby H.
Saint Francis, Kentucky

I discovered musicals when I was in band and I loved them. Wicked sort of really propelled me into the world of theater -- since I really related to its message about being different. I began wearing musical shirts and was not treated well because of it. I have been bullied since a young age and the shirts just seemed to give people more of a reason to torment me. But I could not have cared less. I had finally found something that I truly loved and that made me ME!

Ella F.
Columbia, Missouri

Once upon a time there was a 10-year-old who was not very good at theater. This little girl was awkward. This little girl was shy. This little girl preferred to dress in boy clothes. This little girl was me. 10 year-old me, in addition to being awkward, quiet, and androgynous, was also incredibly obsessed with theater. (You know, that thing she was pretty terrible at.)

I had never had a crush before, but right away I knew that I wanted this boy to notice me. So I decided to do the smartest thing in the world: act like anyone but myself. (I know: brilliant, right?) I figured it was foolproof.

After the show, nothing tremendous happened. My parents congratulated me, and we left. The Boy did not profess his undying love for me, Gorgeous Girl did not give me any profound advice on how to be less awkward and more like her. However, I did make it through my first “show” unscathed. Well, not completely unscathed. I contracted a terrible disease. It’s called “Musical-Theater-itis.” To this day, I can’t stop acting. I sing all the time, better (and louder) then ever. And I dance everywhere I go. But I can’t imagine it any other way.

Ashley C.
Stockton, CA

Opening night was here. We did four shows -- which in some ways were the best and worst nights of my life. As the overture music played every night, I couldn’t help but want to barf. But once I got on stage, I had the time of my life and loved every minute of it. And it all went fairly smoothly -- except some messed-up timing, a few more tears, and my bad aim when it came to fake blood. If you had told me a month before auditions that I would be playing the lead, I would have laughed in your face. I had never sung before, never acted, and I didn’t see myself as the type of person who could ever do that. But I DID do it.

Trevor L.
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

I stepped onto the stage in front of thousands of people. The lights shone brightly with shades of blue, yellow, and red. Though there was no green light upon me, if Dorothy Gale had walked by, she would have thrown a bucket of water on me; my stomach felt like an oversized cocoon. I was as scared as scared could be. But, just as I had at the small theatre in which I’d performed three days before, I delivered my line in a high, little 9 year-old boy voice. “Thief! Thief! Someone stole my bread!” I belted. The crowd laughed. Was that funny?

Taylor S.
Beaumont, Texas

I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan…So, maybe it was actually Denver International Airport, and maybe I was wearing a lime green shirt matching about seventy other peeps’. There was no cardigan involved, or fame, or excess -- but definitely a dream. I spent the first fourteen years of my life, probably during fetus age, too, anxiously awaiting the experience of a legitimate mission trip. (Okay, maybe it was only during middle school that I longed to take part in such a “cool kid” experience.) But finally, huzzah! The time had come. Although we ventured not too far out of our Bible belt, the people of Denver found our Texas “accents” hysterical, proving to us that we were indeed in new territory. Ready for a challenge, I excitedly prepared to embark on an unfamiliar mission.

Danielle M.
Boise, Idaho

I talked to friends and co workers about it. They warned, “Do you know what type of girls play football?” I didn’t know -- big ones? Mean ones? I am the type of girl that would play football, and I would like to think of myself as a nice person. I finally decided that I didn’t care what “type” of girls played football or how my knee felt. I wanted to play!

Patricia R.
North Kingstown, RI

Perspiration trickled down my midback. I was hoping that my face did not disclose the terror lurking in the pit of my stomach. I was precariously perched atop a narrow, wooden platform which encircled the tree. The wind whistled and the tree platform swayed. My mouth was dry. Ziplining had not exactly been on my “to do” list. (To provide some perspective: my idea of camping is when the hotel does NOT provide a nighttime candy on the pillow.) Feet together, legs up, prepare to brace legs on the first station platform to successfully brake, otherwise you will sail past the platform and be suspended on the wire beyond. Ready. Set. GOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Eliah M.
Huntsville, Alabama

The first day of auditions for the show I skipped because I was so nervous....A lot has happened between now and then. I have stood in front of a full house on opening night, hit a high note, and managed to survive to tell the story. I have been cast as the lead character; had my first stage kiss; made the audience laugh like I was the funniest person in the room; felt wanted, needed, and useful; sat in the auditorium on the days of auditions and cast the show in my head, whether the results be good or bad....Sometimes, when I’m in the shower, I interview myself, pretending I am now famous and the star of a new musical, the originator of a role, and the person kids like me look up to. The questions vary -- but, no matter what, I never fail to mention the excellent high school theatre teacher, and the amazing friends I met that helped shape me into who I am. Or, in this case, who I want to be.

Hannah C.
Toronto, Canada

When my parents suggested camp I immediately said no. I was to afraid of not only leaving my parents for two weeks but of how people would think of me. I broke down crying about how everyone would hate me. My parents had told me about how this camp was for children with disabilities. Camp Awakening is what it is called. They told me children with all sorts of differences go there. They said I would always have a counselor with me if I needed assistance with anything, and I could even make new friends who might have the same disability I have. So I agreed to go.

Over two weeks I did so many things I had never done. I met one of the most amazing girls who has now been one my best friends for four years. Being a big fan of musicals I was excited to see how many people loved musical theatre. One of the most amazing moments at Camp Awakening was when we where all in the dining and we broke out into a “Defying Gravity” sing-a-long. Having over 200 people sing it made it even more amazing and fun than singing it by myself.

In a way I am happy I am different because then I would have never gone to this camp and gotten to experience everything. I am happy to be “Unnaturally Green.”

Bethany E.
Chesterfield, Virginia

Hallie and I drove down the highway singing at the top of our lungs to “Baby” by Justin Bieber. We were on our way to do something we had never done before. Hallie had been asked to babysit two kids, Jessica and Ethan, overnight while their parents were on an out-of-town trip. She decided that I, being her best friend, should come with her to help. We were both extremely excited, but also a little bit nervous. I mean, sure, we had both babysat kids before, but neither one of us had ever spent 2 days basically being a parent. As we drove, we came up with foolproof plan for our day. It was going to be great. However, when we got to the house, things started getting weird. There was a car in the driveway neither one of us recognized.

Alayne F.
Live Oak, Texas

First day of class, we had to introduce ourselves and tell what our major was. Going around the table, everyone before me was either a Theater major or an English major. When it got to me, I just kind of threw my Wildlife Ecology major out nonchalantly, but everyone around the table woke up and audibly wondered what I was doing there with the sort of incredulousness one would expect if a talking penguin showed up at a business meeting

The only other people who had read my works were fans who had seen my fanfiction online. There, I was posting under the anonymous mask of a screen name, and the people reading were far away and faceless. In class, I would be sitting there right in front of everyone as every word I wrote was presented in public for all to hear...I felt like I’d had my armor taken away.

Dylan D.
Honeoye, New York

After the shows were done…I was a local celebrity of sorts. And after that I landed every male leading role in the shows (bragging much?) But there’s a point to that. With that new found confidence, I was able to translate it from onstage to my personal life. After some more months of staying in the closet, I finally made my own leap to defy gravity. I told my mom.

Geoff W.S.
Toronto, Canada

I realized that I was worth more than that. Being a theatre boy. The song "Defying Gravity" seemed to mean a lot more to me than it did before. I was through excepting limits cause someone said they were so. And too long I’ve been afraid of losing love I guess I’d lost, be it from family and the husband. So I closed my eyes and leaped. I left with pretty much nothing and started on my own. From doing this, I learnt how important I was as a person and no worse than anyone else. That I deserved to be happy and am so much stronger than before.

Ashley N.
Germantown, Tennessee

We arrived at the store, and my mom said, “Why don’t you just walk in with me? I promise it will be ok.” I refused, but then Molly talked me into getting out of the car. I reluctantly walked in. I felt extremely awkward, but as I looked around, no one was staring. Then Molly leaned over and whispered, “You see? No one cares there’s a bald girl and a girl with dots on her face walking around the store.” We both laughed, and it was that moment I decided I wanted to be like Molly and help people see it’s ok to be different.

After about 12 surgeries (I say “about 12” because to be perfectly honest, I’ve lost count), I’ve decided I should make a documentary about Venous Malformation so families have a resource to see what research is being done, and help the patients realize they aren’t alone. Hopefully some day soon we will find a cure, but until then I am going to continue to spread the word about Venous Malformation so maybe I can make a difference in someone’s life -- just like Molly made a difference in mine.

Marty S.
Toledo, Ohio

Overnight my clothes that had consisted of pants and shirts of various colors were transformed into a wardrobe made up entirely of green. It seems I wore an unnatural amount of green then, but for a soldier in the U.S. Army it was standard military attire.

Matthew M.
Queensland, Australia

The first day ended after walking for what seemed like hours and hours (probs only 3… but hey who’s counting?). We set up camp and went to bed. Well, the rest of them did -- except me who was nervous as hell about the next day, which involved walking up a HUGEEEEE mountain....We finally made it to the campsite at… 9 bloody pm! We quickly went to sleep, knowing that the finale day of the hike was just around the corner.

Lauren E.
Royersford, PA

Despite how humiliated I had become, I continued to fight for them. Finally, after months of struggle and strife, I had reached the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Over the next few weeks, everything seemed to fall into place. (Better late than never!) Our band won first place at every competition for the rest of the year -- a true Cinderella story, with tubas. By the time Atlantic Coast Championships were upon us, I had not only earned the respect of the band, but their trust as well. Instead of avoiding me, my peers looked to me for direction. They trusted my leadership as I trusted their amazing talent.

Melissa T.

I suppose the first time I realized how wonderful being on the stage felt was in fourth grade when I played Pluto in the elementary production of a play called “Star Search” (imagine how devastated I was when Pluto was demoted to a lame dwarf planet!) -- though my mother has told me stories of how, at age give, I used to sing my ABCs to a crowd of strangers in Wal-Mart when she turned her back on me for one second.

Sometimes I feel uncomfortable in my own skin; standing at exactly five feet tall makes me feel like a Munchkin amongst giants while walking the halls of my crowded school. Not to mention I have a last name that is crazy-hard to pronounce. I’m self-conscious about myself and can at times have very low self esteem -- something I feel Elphaba and I secretly share. I’ve had people gossip about me behind my back before, and though I’d never show it, I’m extremely sensitive and easily hurt. On days like these, I take a dose of my favorite medicine. Listening to “Defying Gravity.”

Lisa B.
Altoona, PA

I walked in, my head held high. “Whenever you’re ready," the producer said. I took a deep breath and sang my heart out. “Thank you," she said when I finished. It was the fastest 2 minutes of my entire life. I walked out knowing I did my best under the circumstances, and knowing there was no way in hell that I got the role.

I found my dad in the lobby. We left and went back out into the glamour of the city. My consolation prize? Seeing a Broadway show. I guess there’s not too much to complain about there. I’m certain that I did not get the role -- but I’m okay with that. I tried something new. I had my first professional audition of what will be many. It was a small step to the long road of reaching my dream. My dream to be a star. Someday, my name will be in lights.

Lauren P.
Lapeer, Michigan

She told me his name: Mark Crilley. I, knowing who this man is thanks to the power of the internet, freaked out. I couldn't believe this amazing artist was coming to visit! I could actually meet a G-List celebrity in the state of Michigan (we're of boring people here)!...

 “Timid and shy and scared” was I as I arrived at the library. I walked into the large room, filled with other young folk sitting at tables. Looking around, I saw a middle-aged, grey-haired man signing someone's books. “Mark?” I thought. He wasn't at all what I pictured, considering I only have heard his voice and have seen his hands (he does drawing tutorials online). ...I spoke, “May I show you some artwork?” Crap, crap, crap. Why did I have to say that? Whenever I show any pro artist my work, they critique it, thinking that's what I want!

Hannah W.
Croton-on-Hudson, New York

At the hospital, I let all the doctors fuss over me, sticking an IV in my left hand, then the inside of my left elbow. I didn’t complain when they put me through a CT scan. That was actually pretty cool. It sounded like a spaceship, and that took my mind off of things....After a rushed transition, I made it to the new room just in time to watch Glee. Just because I was in the hospital doesn’t mean I don’t want to watch my favorite show.

Cat M. 
North Kingstown, Rhode Island

Within the first month of rehearsals, I had gained the nickname “Go-Go Gadget” -- just like from the movie Inspector Gadget. They told me that the nickname was for being so ready for anything they told me to do. If I was told to build the set with the upperclassmen, I would. I did everything they told me to. I was told on closing night by a bunch of different upperclassmen that they respected me and that I was part of the troupe. I swear I think my heart skipped a beat every time I heard it, since I was so surprised. I know that I belong there. It is possibly the best thing that has ever happened to me. I love the troupe and would do anything I can to make sure that the freshmen always feel welcome, just like I did.

Anna B.
Jacksonville, Florida

I thought I was about to die a slow and painful death if the dang announcement wouldn’t hurry up already. I felt a soft hand touch my left knee lightly, only to hear the words “You’re gonna be Millie.”

I can’t remember now if I smiled or not. I just remember thinking “Is this for reals?” It was “for reals.” And after months and months of rehearsal and preparation, it was opening night. I was the lead in my first show, ever. It was surreal: standing on a stage, waiting for the curtain to rise, to reveal 130 anxious faces in the audience -- many of them friends and family of mine. To think that they all came to support me.

Ryan G.
West Covina, CA

The try-out was not only disturbing, but scary as well. Five teachers -- most of whom I had that year -- sitting around a table and staring into the whites of my eyes. Standing there, reading my speech, it felt like it took an hour to get through it. It wasn’t that I made a whole lot of mistakes (well, I did have the random stutter here and there, mispronouncing words, and spit spraying out of my mouth (damn those braces!)), but it was the feeling of failure that made this moment feel like eternity. The feeling that I possibly went through all this work, just to realize that my speech wasn't perfect, or wasn't what they were looking for. When my try-out was done, a sense of relief and success flowed through my body; it was like a shot of adrenaline that made me feel like I could conquer anything at that moment.

Julie J.
Miami, Florida

I released the breath I had been holding. Again, I whipped my arms around and quickly pivoted around on my big toe. I quickly gained momentum, and was halfway across the room, when splat! I lost control and landed in a way that ballerinas generally shouldn’t: on my butt with my legs and arms flailing in every direction. I quickly accounted for my limbs, and was about to ungracefully heave myself up, when I slipped on one of the ends of my ribbon that had gotten loose. Then I was whacked in the back of the head. I was already dizzy from the turns, and the stars I saw didn’t help my situation. I lay sprawled on the ground, definitely leaving a puddle of sweat underneath me. My bun net had gotten tangled with another dancer’s wristwatch. Our roadblock caused another dancer to immediately put the brakes on while she was in the middle of a turn. She joined us in our heap on the ground, after colliding with my pesky shoe. I quickly reoriented myself, just as the class burst into applause for the commotion I had caused. I blushed -- but it wasn’t noticeable because my face was already burning up.

At the end of class, I yanked off the confining shoes and wiggled all of my toes to make sure they still functioned. My dance teacher approached me. “Good job today,” I carefully examined her face for any traces of sarcasm. “Even though your toes hurt and you fell down, you kept going."

Cortney P.
Seven Lakes, NC

I was 4 years-old the first time I saw The Wizard of Oz. My mom was sure it was a movie I would enjoy. Boy, was she ever wrong. I was fine with it until the movie turned color and the Wicked Witch came out in Munchkinland. I saw the green witch and took off out of the room screaming....

In 2010, I made my first trip out to see [Wicked] -- an experience that would forever change how I saw the Wicked Witch. I can’t say seeing the green witch didn’t make me jump, but not long into the show I fell in love with her character and saw she wasn’t evil, but just misunderstood. That she really was bullied almost into turning evil, and stood up for what she believed in.

Bill Y.
Berlin, Wisconsin

There are a lot of adjustments required in being a new father. Obviously, there is this additional person in your household who thinks she should have your undivided attention when she’s awake. Peace, albeit temporary, sets in when she goes to sleep. But only count on a couple of hours -- because she’ll get hungry, again. And gosh, they are cranky when they are hungry.

Joseph W.
San Francisco, CA

From Green to Blue

When at an age to enter the unknown
It’s time to face an academic rise.
Into a new environment I’ve grown
With Urban school’s new practices and size.

I find my high school’s ways defy the norm
Though not a system I wish to protest.
With amiable students, kind and warm,
Our crazy school traditions are the best.

Though my transition seems to others smooth,
Adapting is astonishingly hard
To heavy work and a new social groove.
Confusing music theory leaves me jarred.
But as I start to stumble through year two
I hope to fully turn from green to blue.

Eric P.
Mandalay, Myanmar

I live in Mandalay, Myanmar and I’m teaching English as a second language....I arrived at the airport (wondering where the heck everyone was) and then took a taxi (a plain white oldsmobile…hmmm) to my hotel…where I have lived for about four months now. It was pouring cats and dogs. Actually, there WERE so many cats and dogs, I thought the saying might have been fact over here. Either way, when I arrived at the hotel, they kindly explained to me exactly what I needed to do because the school had graciously forgotten to inform them I would be arriving around midnight. The problem was that they were speaking Burmese…so I just kind of nodded and smiled, wondering when they would hand me my key. Finally, someone explained to me in broken English (so THAT’S why I’m here…) what the issue was (the whole new-teacher-arriving-for-a-longterm-stay-thing), so I got to take a taxi in the rain to my school, which I would see for the very first time.

Lisa S.
Perth, Australia

We went to nationals in July. There were around 38 boats that came from all over Australia. I was very nervous, stressed and afraid. I had no idea how good any of the other sailors were and to make it worse Jack, Nina and I had been told we were too good for silver fleet -- so we had to compete in gold fleet (when normally you compete in silver fleet at your first nationals). Luckily, this time I wasn’t going through it on my own. Over the past few months I had become really close friends with Jack, Nina and Callum -- so we were all there for each other, and going through the same thing.

Anne C.
Rochester, New York

I am a single mom and teacher. I always tell my students and children (I have five boys -- that alone should be "Unnaturally Green" enough to get me a book, don’t you think?) that unless you try, you will never know what you can accomplish or experience. I tell them to dream big and take risks that may get them to their dream.

Debra F.
Live Oak, Texas

Crisp white uniform, stockings, and new, almost painfully gleaming white shoes... I could have been Bumble, the abominable snowman of Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer fame, if I were a little taller and more monstrous -- instead of shy, reticent and petite.

As the clock brought us closer to a lunch break, after which we'd actually be dealing with patients, I was caught between excited anticipation and nervousness. I firmly believed I could master the 206 bones with all the myriad protuberances we had to memorize, all of which seemed to be named after some cadaver-stealing early anatomy pioneer. I even thought I could get the hang of the laws of physics. But my innately shy nature might get in the way of me interacting effectively with sick people.

A portly gentleman was lying on the x-ray table on his left side, his posterior facing us and the gown doing little to hide his, well, ample bottom. The second year student instructed him to pull his knees up toward his chest. What the- ?! Had I been a southern gal, I likely would have swooned! As it was, I was a rather naive 19 year old who'd led a somewhat sheltered life!

To my immense horror, the student turned to me, enema tip extended toward me, and said the words I'm sure Cherry Ames, student nurse, never had to hear. "Tip him!"

Maria R.
Tuscon, Arizona

The memory of standing in front of my sixth grade science class, ready to present the clay volcano I worked so hard on instantly came into my mind upon reading an email from the president of the Italian Club of my university.

So. Defy gravity.

With butterflies in my stomach, I accepted the position and began preparation for the first meeting which required a flashy PowerPoint and a speech from the new president: yours truly. I did not sleep the night before. Nightmares of lumps of clay exploding in baking soda and vinegar haunted me.

Heather G.
Middlewich, Chesire, UK

At 16, being the head of stage right is terrifying; being in charge of a bunch of kids that, until then, had been your peers, is weird. In addition to keeping control, I had to do a number of quick microphone changes as well as be insanely strong and quick to do the numerous set changes. (Nice to know people trust you -- but not so nice to know that a big part of the show rested on your shoulders.)

Luckily, since then I’ve done one show as stagehand and one as stage manager -- not bad for a 17 year-old -- so I’m getting slightly better at coping with problems. Doesn’t mean I get any less stressed.

Emma T.
Edmonton, London, UK

Chinese natives were pointing and laughing at my face, mainly because it was red (or at least I do hope it was because it was red). The thing about being a foreigner in China is many Chinese tourists have come from the countryside and not met foreigners before. We were told by our tour guide: “Many will want photos with you guys, and will come and talk to you to practice their English.” Laughing at my red face though, wasn’t mentioned.

Raven D.
Nanaimo, Canada

I ended up going to meetings, and I felt really, really out of place, because some of them kept looking at me funny. There was only me and this other girl from my grade and she's a really really good actor, and I didn't feel like I belonged there. I was like the unwanted plus one.


I'm bisexual, I have a girlfriend, and it was finally time to tell my mother. I had been planning for months and years to just keep everything to myself and tell everybody after I graduate from high school -- because I was terrified of the anti-gay bullying that goes on in schools. But, honestly, I woke up that morning and knew it was time to tell her.