And now for another narrative detour, in which I attempt to explain several things about my home environment, day-to-day priorities, and general upbringing. Also, my bedroom.
The thing is, if someone were to attempt to assemble a clear picture of teenage-me using only my journal, they’d most likely assume that I never did anything but go to school, be at school, and think about school.
This is remarkably not true.
In actuality, I pretty much only ever bother with the journal when I’m at school, because at school, I’m very, very bored.
Because of this desperate need to entertain myself when I’m in class, the entries are often recorded in real-time and capture the at-school portion of my life fairly accurately, but they don’t really reflect my home life at all, since when I’m at home, I’m busy doing stuff.
*Except in this shot, where I am doing nothing
Home is eclectic, full of interesting things like baskets of miscellaneous bones, and animal skulls and vintage chemistry sets and forty-year-old dissection specimens in jars of formaldehyde.
Really, as far as bedrooms go, my bedroom is a very morbid one, and when I’m not watching hyper-violent crime movies, staying up all night, sewing beads and sequins on my clothes, or making buttermilk waffles, I spend a lot of time there.
To be perfectly clear, it’s not actually my room, because it’s also my sister’s room. And the animal room. And the craft room.
*You can’t really see, but the wall behind me is absolutely covered in homemade masks. Some are for Halloween. Most are Just Because.
The room is huge and drafty, with insanely high ceilings and terrible carpet, furnished with assorted bookshelves, a homemade work table, a store-bought tool bench, and a record player from the 1940’s. Also, two ladders, three aquariums, several hamsters, toads, salamanders, ferrets, and one rope swing.
It is basically the perfect environment—part cozy playhouse, part menagerie, part free fall.
The loft where my bed lives is really just a narrow shelf, high up along one wall and running the width of the room. You reach it by climbing a ladder and crawling through a trapdoor.
On the ground floor, there is one closet for clothes, to be shared between myself and Little Sister Yovanoff, and one closet for art supplies, full of tiny drawers filled with pens and paint brushes, and big drawers filled with bags of plaster and bolts of fabric.
My mother is not only a treasure trove of art-room knowhow and professional-grade adhesives, but also has very good craftsmanship. And since we have the conveniently open schedule of being homeschooled, she teaches us a good portion of what she knows. (Except for me and the craftsmanship. I don’t have that. But other things.)
Before I’m ten, she teaches me to stretch watercolor paper, cut stencils, and use paraffin wax to resistance-dye batik patterns onto pieces of muslin by soaking them in a five-gallon bucket full of Rit.
She teaches me how to use the very cranky sewing machine and how to tack in a hem, and unsuccessfully attempts to instill in me a love of embroidery. It’s a good effort, but ultimately fruitless. By the time high school rolls around, I’m still terrible, and she’s still stuck darning little hearts onto my winter tights every time I accidentally stick a finger through the heel trying to pull them on.
What I’m saying is, ours is a House of Activities.
When Little Sister Yovanoff and I aren’t pushing each other on the rope swing or leaping perilously back and forth between our lofts, we spend a lot of time in the downstairs part of the room, painting and drawing, making dolls out of polymer clay and homemade paper mache, drawing giant cityscapes on butcher paper, and building tiny wooden houses. But the idyllic state of things can’t last. Like most stages in life, it has to end eventually.
*The barefoot photos are all part of a series that Little Sister Yovanoff concocted by dragging the armchair into the middle of the bedroom and covering it with a big piece of satin. My job is to take direction, and pose with various pieces of my ceramics homework. (Facial features.) Also, it is cold, so I’m wearing a hat. But no socks.
This isn’t really a post about school. It’s kind of about all the other things that aren’t school, and how once I start tenth grade, I have to catch my balance and scramble around trying to hold onto the little pieces that used to be my whole life.
A big part of problem is simply that my house is fun, and school is not, and there’s really no graceful way to transition from one to the other. To that end, I spend most of tenth grade wishing the bell would ring so I could just go home.
*Here I am, posing by the TV and wearing one of my dad’s old sweaters, to which I have sewn a pink plastic heart, made for me by my cousin. Also, this is for one of Little Sister Yovanoff’s art assignments. Also, later she will cut me out and give me dragonfly wings. Which I like.
And a big part of why my junior year turns out to be kind of cool is that somewhere in the summer between 10th and 11th, I start to figure out all the ways I can bring parts of home with me everywhere I go. Mostly by decorating my clothes. (Also, the winter of junior year is ridiculously cold, and the heat at school is not only central, but full-blast. While the heat at home is one temperamental wood stove—occasionally full of birds.)
For this post, I really wish I had more pictures of my room, and specifically more (or any) pictures of my sister and me in the room working on stuff. But we kept the door closed a lot and our mom was really polite about it and mostly stayed out, so there is a notable lack of documentation of the Sisters Yovanoff in their natural habitat.
Instead, I’ve decorated the blog with various shots that Little Sister Yovanoff took of me at various times, usually for school projects, often when my tongue is blue from popsicles or I’m not wearing socks.
Do you have at-home hobbies? Things you love, but that don’t really bleed over into school? Do you ever wish they did? Are hobbies best left at home, or do you find ways to incorporate them in your school life?