Huldra

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11/4/2019 1:42pm

I should be studying right now. Isn't that just the way? When it's time to study, there's five or ten or twenty other things that actually need to be done this very instant. When we were growing up, my brother had the horrible habit of becoming super twitchy and itchy whenever our parents sat him down to practice Stalacpipe Organ. Something about running through the measures just seemed to make him break out in hives. It stopped when he switched to the Theremin though. Maybe he's just not cut out for caves. It takes a certain personality to be at home in a cavern.

I wish I was in a cavern instead of at school, or anywhere else really. This week is an absolute mess for me. Besides other things, I don't feel ready at all for any of my exams. These past days have been a constant, futile study grind. At least I know I'm putting in the effort, even if it doesn't pan out in the end. And I'm trying some new study tricks -- I heard that if you loop certain concepts into low-level brain waves and circulate them in your subconsciousness, it helps you memorize! I'm not very adept at trans-conscious manipulations, but I managed to set up a loop for the functional traits of alchemical ingredients. Every once in a while I feel like I can hear someone whispering stuff like "the aprotic state of ether". It's kind of spooky, to be honest.

I should quit messing around and get back to studying. I still need to figure out some elixir conversion mechanisms, and there's a handful of linkage methods I have to review for Lower Zoolingualism. Thank goodness for the Self-Aware Library though; since I started coming here last week I've gotten a lot done. Even with this propensity to distraction, when I leave I feel like I did at least something. If I could just get my focus back, I bet I could crank through another set of notes before my coven meeting. C'mon, Huldra! You got this! Be like the Osage orange tree, and STAY STRONG!

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10/29/2019 8:29pm

Open Question: How do you deal with loneliness? It's a well-known fact that psychic ability correlates with childhood loneliness, isolation, or just social awkwardness. A true causation hasn't been irrefutably proven, but I mean... c'mon. Little Stacy can rotate her head 360 degrees and reveal who ran over your dog last year? Kids like us aren't usually the king or queen of the schoolyard. We're the odd ones huddled under the slide, doing rune casting with bits of playground mulch. Or accepting candy bribes in exchange for trying to read peers' minds for crush intel. Etc, etc.

So what do you guys do when you get lonely? I usually talk to plants (#OneTrickPony), which always boosts my mood but isn't really a long-term solution. I've been really trying to put myself out there more this year, but no matter how many clubs I join or classmates I engage... I'm still alone. Even at weekly worship, I end up the outsider. Usually I can at least chat with my super sweet roommate, but lately, she's been so stressed that the littlest things upset her. So I'm giving her space, but at the cost of even further isolation. What do I try next? Why is this so hard??? I hear some kids drive out to the nearby towns on the weekend to party and the like. Should I just hop a bus and try to insert myself in the social debauchery?

Who am I kidding -- I'm not just a wallflower, I'm the entire wall garden. Parties aren't my scene. Perhaps loneliness is just part of my being. The screenname Huldra isn't a random choice, that's all I'll say. And if we're being realistic, I'm probably just responding emotionally to all the pressure I'm under right now. No matter what I cross off my list, there's more to do right underneath it! It's impossible to keep up, especially now that the Time Pausers from last year have been declared contraband on campus. So what if they caused blood minute leakage, I'm willing to sacrifice the last months of my lifespan if it means I get two more hours of last-second-study-time before the exam! The Psychic High School PTA is way too uptight.

My stomach is upset all the time now, and I keep getting headaches. I haven't been drinking enough water either, because my roommate got sick and coughed in my Brita filter so now I'm afraid to use it. But I mean, EVERYONE is dealing with these things this time of year. It's school -- it's stressful and sickening! It'd be nice if I could eat regularly though. I figure if the symptoms don't improve after my November 6th Day Of Horrid Horror, I'll go to the campus nurses to make sure it's stress and not... I don't know... a parasite? Eh. Human biology is not my forte. If this was Anthracnose, I'd know exactly what to do. Psychological/Physiological overlap? Lame. Send that to the Alternative Medicine department. Wave a crystal over it until it goes away.

So yeah. Loneliness. What do you do? I'm open to suggestions! Desperate, really.
Shoot me a telekinetic suggestion, you know how. Children's Circle basics. Or come meet me in the Self-Aware Library sometime. I'll be there a LOT these next two weeks, I'd appreciate a visitor. Just look for the weird girl who brought an emotional support plant in with her.

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10/19/2019 9:54pm

Good News: the bamboo project is ended. Bad News: it's ended because the propagated shoots put out vegetative growth showing signs and symptoms of poltergeist possession. The dorm contract says that pets and poltergeists without proper paperwork aren't allowed in our rooms, so the bamboo baby had to go back to the investigators. The shoot will probably be put into isolation to see if the poltergeist can be distilled out and interviewed. It's a sad situation, but probably for the best. When the moon went behind clouds the bamboo's new growth would start whispering frantically, which made late-night study sessions just that much more stressful. The lesional streaks across the leaves were really pretty though. Tied in with the decor nicely.

I have a lot of writing assignments to do this weekend, which is funny because none of them are for a grade. Yeah, somehow I've managed to assign myself homework, no teachers required! Why am I paying tuition to go here again? (That's a joke, please don't expel me) There's a writing contest on campus coming up that I want to enter, and if I can get it done early that's one less thing to think about. The prompt is "What I Learned From My Freshman Year", which shouldn't be too hard. I mean, freshman year at this school teaches you A LOT. For one example, within the first month I obliviously walked through, like, ten alchemy circles people were trying to draw on the sidewalks. Fun fact, one of those circles actually turned all the carbon in my hair into silicon. Just added extra protons to all those carbon molecules I guess.
Luckily hair grows out quick so it was all back to normal soon enough, but silicon hair was really bizarre. Sometimes I miss it.

Another writing project I really need to do this week is contacting my Lifeforce Composition professor about our next exam. For whatever reason, there are a lot of events falling on November 6th. I have three separate exams, a treasurer workshop, my time-ticket to choose classes for the spring, and at least two other things I'm forgetting right now. Strange overlap events happen all the time, but did I mention yet that November 6th is also my birthday? That's suspicious. Honestly I should just go ask the astrology girl down the hall if there's some freaky interplanetary convergence for that date. Hopefully it's nothing major, and even more hopefully I'll be able to convince one of my professors to let me take their exam the day before. If I can shift just ONE of these things to another day, it'll really take the stress off.

Oh! But there is one class I don't have to worry about for a little while! The Lower Zoolingualism course I'm in had this big semester-long project for us, but I finally finished it this morning! We were supposed to capture, identify, and compartmentalize fifty unique specimen of Hexpoda. Mine are all snug and labeled in fifty little jars on my bookshelf, ready to be turned in. It's kind of exhausting to maintain the telepathic link with all fifty of them, as well as my dorm-room-plant-babies, but it's really helped me to better organize mental networks and differentiate neural pathways. Not surprisingly, the Diptera species are always the most draining -- they hate confined spaces, and really buzz around when they get antsy. I've given up on keeping them docile 24/7. Hemiptera are much easier to subdue. Give them something to munch on and hit them with Primal Neuron Wave 24-Beta and they can be locked in for weeks at a time! Even a beginner like me could probably spearhead a swarm of Hemipterans, no sweat.

I never would have collected my specimens so fast if it wasn't for my part-time Chlorokinetic Botany Center job. Insect samples come through constantly. Sometimes it's a client wanting an I.D. and management advice, but more often the bugs hitch-hike unannounced into our laboratories on submitted plant material. In those cases, my boss lets me mentally lasso and capture as many accidental arrivals as I need! Except for the dangerous ones. On Monday we had True Firebrats come in, and since none of us student workers had pyromancy experience my boss locked us out of the entire lab until she had nullified them all. It was kind of exciting to watch the process through the little windows on the Chlorokinetic Botany Center doors. I'd only ever seen False Firebrats (or just "firebrats" if you're wikipedia), and they were nowhere near as fascinating as these little firecrackers! Maybe I should have begged to take one back for my collection, but sparks make me nervous. I'd be too afraid of spontaneous combustion occurring while I'm asleep in my dorm.

Even if I didn't have my CBC job, this collection project would still be more than manageable. See, I cut a deal with the patch of cobra plants (Darlingtonia californica) growing in the bog a short drive from Psychic High School. For every new insect they let me collect from their pitchers, I gave them a generous sprinkle of yummy bog-biome fertilizer mix. Some other pitcher plant variations wanted in on the deal too, but their collection method had too high of a fatality rate -- the cobra plants are able to regulate their water outputs after all! Other genera just can't compete with that, what with their rainwater silliness. Between the CBC and the cobra plants, amassing my hexapoda army was a matter of weeks! It feels good to get something completed. Maybe when my roommate comes back, I'll suggest we get some ice cream at Spoon Bender's. I feel like celebrating!

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10/7/2019 11:20am

Hooray, it's spooky scary season! Let's get this autumn into full swing, and bust out all the best candles and chalk! They say October is when veils and gateways between realms are weakest, so now is the time to make those summoning circles you've been thinking about. Deceased relatives, demonic loan-sharks, fae business partners, ultra-reality sponsors... now is the time to drop them a line!

Hm. Maybe I should have tried a summoning circle to get in touch with my Inter-species Communing professor. It probably would have put him in a sour mood, if it even worked -- goodness knows no other methods of contacting him did. Too late now though, because I dropped the class last Friday. My counselor was against the decision, but I feel like it was the right choice for me. I'm just not the type of student who can do "independent study exploration" (or as I see it, teach myself). I need a teacher with a corporeal presence! There are a few other interpretation/communing courses at Psychic High School I can take instead for that credit, so we'll just try one of those next semester. If anyone knows a good one and wants to take it with me, shoot me a message! I'd love to have a study buddy.

Oh, and the coven I got accepted to a while back? This Thursday is our induction, I'm getting pretty excited. I think they're trying to align it with the beginning of the Orionid meteor shower (look it up, sounds like it peaks in two weeks) for dramatic effect. Personally, I don't get it. I mean, it's probably symbolic and cool, but this is a Telluric Honors Coven so it's not like we're getting much out of extraterrestrial events. Personally I think timing it with the opening of the Morning Glories would carry deeper significance, but people are probably more willing to stay up for shooting stars at midnight than wake up for tiny flowers at 4am. Whatever. I'll be a good sport and play along, I guess.

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9/29/2019 8:52am

It's such a crazy thing, becoming a mother. You hold your child in your arms for the first time, and it's instant love. Absolute adoration. With each new potted plant I put in my dorm, the motherly love I have expands! We're just one big, fantastic, chloroplastic family. We keep losing my roommate's familiar in the thick brush also known as my half of the room.

Today, I welcomed a new child into my leafy brood. The Chlorokinetic Botanical Center rescued a batch of bamboo stalks from a defunct memorial garden to an Earth-bound spirit (formal term escapes me, apologies to the spirit-scholars out there). I guess the spirit had a kind of... episode. The bonsai are all withered, the ground covers are as crunchy as oil fried kale, and any flowering structures turned entirely black. The teaching staff in charge of these spirit locations are still trying to figure out what set her off, but they're saying the more pertinent issue is where she was set loose too. Where does an Earth-bound spirit go once she's no longer bound? My boss said she chatted with one of the professors for a bit about it, and he thinks the ghost is on a classic vengeance-mission. There was probably some rage-inducing event -- possibly a recollection of a wrong done in her lifetime, or meeting the descendant of an old enemy -- and the surge of emotion transferred the spirit essence to a different energy state. Like hitting an electron with energy so it jumps from a lower molecular orbital to a higher one, I suppose. Only this higher molecular orbital makes the electron so unstable it degrades the atom's nucleus, creates deadly radicals, and starts chasing the other electrons. If only this had happened a few days later, it would have been perfect for the school's October newsletter! Talk about spooky.

Anyways, a stand of bamboo managed to survive the razing. Possibly because they were off on the fringes, possibly because they're charmed, we're not sure yet. The whole group was pretty sickly and had some nasty black lesions on the stem. My personal theory is the monocotyledons' scattered vascular bundle arrangement means that when the garden's spirit... exploded? ...the bundles on the opposite side of the plant were somewhat shielded. Each of us Chlorokinetic Botanical Center workers were given a bamboo baby to see if we can nurse any back to health. It's good practice for us Chlorokinetic types, plus if we can revitalize a few there may be enough surviving tissue to communicate with and piece together what happened! Whatever no-mind collected the bamboos just stuck them in a plastic cup of water, so they were in even worse shape when we received them (plant roots need soil! Just sitting in water makes them slowly drown!!!). Today I'm going to head out and find some nice, well-draining soil for my new, precious baby. The leaves are rather wilted and pale right now, but I have high hopes for this meristem persisting below them. Come on, little buddy! Put out that new growth!

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9/24/2019 9:41am

Getting an exam back is an experience, truly. The anxieties, the culmination of studying, practicing, the test taking itself... all neatly displayed as one tidy fraction at the top of the page. 8/10. 23/64. 160/165. The mythical 100/100. I have a friend who's in a numerology class, and he said that exam grades are really hard to interpret in those courses. Because the numbers aren't just numbers anymore, I guess. Sounds way too stressful to me. I'm more of an intuitive psychic student than a calculating one. Heck, in Organic Alchemy my soul-substrate-complex de-constituted within 30 seconds because I forgot to carry a 2! Ugh. Numbers.

But yeah, I got a bunch of assignments back yesterday -- hooray Mondays. Organic Alchemy went worse than expected. Lifeforce Composition went better than expected. Inter-species Communing is a dumpster fire all its own. All in all I can say I'm still alive, which is more than some of those necromancy-specializing students could say.

I really wish I could do better at the Inter-species Communing, though. It's just so hard to understand what that professor is expecting (ironically). He insists on entirely non-verbal interactions, which is honestly my style anyways, but he's also not physically present at any lectures! Maybe there'll be an astral projection, if we're lucky, but only some of us can even see those. And I don't understand the difference between "a cool wind across the desk" and "a high-pitched whistling noise falsely attributed to the wind". Does that mean I answered the pre-lecture question correctly or incorrectly??? I sent a request for office hours into the divining pool by his office, but last time he never responded so who knows if he even receives those. This class is supposed to be about interpreting the messages of non-vocalizing entities, not entirely absent ones!

Boo-hoo-hoo, Huldra has it so rough, I know, I know, I'm a big cry baby. I got to remember it's all about perspective. There are good things happening, too. I just got an acceptance message from an on-campus coven I applied to! Yeah, there's really an overabundance of those here, but it's still exciting to get in to one. This may be my big chance to actually make new friends this year. Or at least friends who have blood instead of sap. If immersing myself in cotyledons and plant pheromones counted as a social life, I'd be the perennial prom queen.

It doesn't though, so I've got to try and put myself out there. Some people find their best friends in covens, assuming they're recruited as a member and not a sacrificial vessel. ...Though I read once that this one guy met his true love by being tricked into being a vessel for them so I mean.... Uh, anyway, I just have to complete the acceptance task and then I can start attending coven meetings. Whoo! I hope we get to do some fun things. The Junior Coven I was part of in middle school was completely lame. The adult supervisors wouldn't let us use real amulets, so almost all of our incantations involved Silly Bandz instead. Colorful and whimsical to be sure, but not very potent.

Oh! And it's finally fall! Autumn is my favorite season -- which I guess is surprising. Most Chlorokinetics prefer spring or summer, when all the flora is kicking into high-gear. But fall gets all my adoration. The weather, the colors, the ominous auras, the late bloomers... Witchhazel and Golden Rod and Platycodon grandiflorus! Does Psychic High School have a school flower? Witchhazel seems like an obvious choice. Maybe I can ask my new coven about it, it could be out "community engagement" project for the semester. We could petition Dean Hammer! Oh, wow, the plan is coming together already!

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9/19/2019 9:02pm

Knee-deep in quizzes and exams -- it seems that the semester is finally in full swing. Though, there isn't much material to test us on yet. Then again, in the more complex courses like Organic Alchemy or Lifeforce Composition it doesn't take many lessons for things to get complex. Whatever, as long as I can get at least two solid days of study in before a test I feel alright. I may not get a super grade, but at least there's the illusion that I had a fighting chance.

And when the exam is over and it's time to take a break, there's plenty of space to take a breather on the commons. There's so many pretty little flower beds to stop and admire, and they always have some juicy gossip. Nothing takes your mind off your worries like hearing others' worries. Some of the other students here really have strange lives... apparently there's some fourth-year boy the east-side marigolds have seen walking home covered in ectoplasm THREE DIFFERENT TIMES this week. The bachelor-buttons and the marigolds have their suspicions, but the day lilies always have the most dramatic theories on these types of discussions. All I'll say is that I hope he knows which laundry cycle to use, because cold water on ectoplasm stains is a good way to ruin your clothes forever. Not even the undead would be keen to wear something that damaged.

I went to work today. The center has been pretty relaxed, now that we've contained the Oak Wilt in the Whispering Grove. Only thing of note was there was an interesting milkweed sample brought to us crawling in Pixie pests. I guess they found it near campus and got spooked. You see, Pixie pests are a voracious species of insect, a feral herd set loose from the domesticated stock of spotted Pixie gummers raised on a nearby Pixie co-op. Without the restraints of their bipedal masters, these things consume everything and anything at an alarming rate with their razor-like mouthparts (quite a rare formation for an insectal arthropod!). Their dangerously alkylic excretions -- the reason why they were domesticated originally -- can be in layers two feet thick when populations are at their height. People get understandably concerned when they see a swarm growing in a scuttling mass on the landscape, like a clicking, squirting tumor. It kind of ruins the scenery.

Luckily, there's nothing to worry about. As I just said, they eat everything and anything... and for some reason find themselves particularly delicious. When the population reaches an unspecified density, the wild herd turns on itself and tucks in to a cannibalistic feast to end all ouroboros. It's the definition of brutal. If any individuals manage to survive, it's usually only one or two pitiful, injured souls who scurry away to recover or die in some dank hole. A Pixie pest herd rarely reaches five generations before implosion, and never survives to see Halloween. At the Chlorokinetic Botanical Center, it's actually a sign of autumn beginning when we get our first frantic Pixie pest spotting. So strap on your Autumn-Appreciation-Apparatus, because the colors are a changing and the winds are shifting! Harvest season, here we come.

(Oh, and if I were you, I'd avoid the forest's edge bordering the Self-Aware Library building. The Pixie pests will peter real quick, but until then they're actually kind of a safety hazard. Anyone who has a reaction time of 0.11 or more should keep their distance. Unless, I guess, you're really keen on getting some of those fresh spotted Pixie gummer excretions. I wouldn't blame you, I hear the feral ones make superior products. Just... you know... weigh the cost-benefit. Pixie pests take down prey faster than chickens skeletonize a mouse.)

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9/15/2019 10:47am

"I only plant NATIVE species, because I cArE ABouT ThE EnViRonMEnt." Oh my gosh, just throw me in a briar patch already.

Now hang on, sit down, sit down. I'm not going to talk about how native vs. invasive species don't matter or "let nature take its course" or something like that. Knowing what plants are indigenous to an area is important, and what species are present can affect many if not all levels of an ecosystem. I've got no problems with that. Where is bee balm happier than in an Illinois prairie? And who would take fairy roses away from the fairies? Not I, certainly.

No, my problem isn't with the plants. It's with the PEOPLE. Kind of a theme I've got going here, if you haven't noticed me beating that dead horse with a heavy hand.

So for context, I was coming back to the dorm buildings with some of the other kids who were at morning worship, and this boy keeps going on and on about "Oh, look at that, it's a native plant! Oh, I love Goldenrod, it's a native plant! We should tear up that herb garden and replace it with native herb species, it'd be better. I hate that tree over there, it's not native, you know."

If you've got the time (and if you're reading this, you're probably bored anyways) look up a picture of Goldenrod (Solidago). It has gorgeous panicles of fluffy, happy yellow flowers. It's tall and spindly, like a kid whose caloric intake goes into vertical growth exclusively -- we all know someone like that, don't we? Goldenrod is also a total sweetheart. All of its above-ground growth is edible, used as tea, garnish, or just a leafy green like spinach. Despite it's appearance, it's also a non-allergen. It literally cannot give you allergies, because it has, like, barely any pollen production! Most impressively, it has awesome self-rejuvenation. From a single random root, bulb, or stem you can nurture a new, healthy Goldenrod! Or you could plant a seed, I guess, if you prefer genetic variation. Either way, Goldenrod deserves love and appreciation.

But this kid I was with, he only loved Goldenrod because it's a "native species". And I meet kids like this a lot in the botanical classes here. They see on a poster that Goldenrod has that title, and that's the end of it. How it grows, what it feeds, who it competes with, its drama with Ragweed (look it up), none of those are as important as whether or not it gets the "native species" sticker. That's like only loving a painting because it's "avant-garde"! You don't love it. You love the title, and how your promotion of it reflects back on you.

Again, don't take this as an "I hate native species rant". It's more "please get to know these species rant". If someone says Japanese Honeysuckle is bad, understand WHY it's bad, AND why it's impressive. Plants aren't just artistic decor choices or environmental stances. They're living, breathing things. I sit and stare (and sometimes talk) at them for hours. And if you're going to come out here and minimize them into bland blanket categories of "crop", "native", or "invasive", I'm going to find out your room number and fill your pillow cases with Ragweed and Stinging Nettle. No joke. That boy better watch his back 'cause I'm out here collecting those native species for him right now. Here's a lesson for you, bub.
Nature is one part love, two parts karma.

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9/9/2019 3:44pm

Have you heard of Misophonia? Er, ha ha, pun not intended. For those of you not getting the pun, Misophonia is something like a significant over-sensitivity to sound. Usually it's specific sounds -- chewing food or gum is a really common one. Keyboard tapping, windshield wipers, and other seemingly innocuous noises can also be Misophonia's fixation. But everyone can get annoyed at sounds, right? That's why there's the movie stereotype of a girl snapping her gum too loudly. EVERYONE agrees that habit gets irritating very quickly. Or the blare of an alarm at 6AM, that's universally displeasing. Well, what sets Misophonia apart from those is that when an overly-sensitive person hears certain noises, they have an immediate reaction, emotional and/or physical. Rage. Deep discomfort. Urge to flee. Why do you think I'm out in the topiary garden wasting time with my laptop, instead of in my room doing homework for tomorrow? My roommate came back into our dorm and started eating an apple, and she does this thing where she SLURRRPPPS the juice -- eurgh. Then the door slamming in the hallway started up, and I literally could not stay sitting. I'm surprised I had the thought to grab my computer in my rush. I completely forgot my keys though, so hopefully Tessa doesn't lock me out.

Lots of noises make me uncomfortable. Slurping and smacking lips are big. Slamming of doors, drawers, or textbooks is an issue too, which made any classroom with a poltergeist in it next to unbearable. For whatever reason, the "Pop & Slap" bass guitar trick is physically painful. And of course, my aunt's rechargeable vacuum cleaner. If she uses it when I'm around, I immediately vacate.

I think it's hereditary. At least in part. Mother is really sensitive, though my whole family is pretty noise-adverse when I think about it. My parents really leaned on the non-verbal communication, until the pediatrician insisted my brother and I had to be taught at least one form of verbalization. Father voted for yodeling, but Mother convinced him that Morse code would be better. Thank goodness for television, or I would still be relying on non-consensual telepathic links and interpretive dance.

Like everything though, there's a strength to my weakness. I'm not just sensitive to upsetting sounds, but also lovely ones. All the layers in the choir that is winds through the leaves of trees is absolutely mesmerizing. A Capella bird or cricket songs are such a delight. The roaring ocean waves makes me empty my mind faster than a master mediator. Melting ice cubes, humming laundry machines, footsteps on a path -- and oh!, the sound of silence! What I would pay to have it captured! There's probably someone in the Psionics department working on that. I certainly hope so.

Little bothers and flaws like Misophonia are annoying, disruptive, even painful. I actually still have a headache from earlier, ha ha. But in the end, it's also part of who I am, my likes and dislikes and personality. Maybe most importantly, it makes me more receptive to the subtle noises in nature, something really helpful when Chlorokinetics are your specialty. How else would I have noticed that the rose bushes around me are raspier today, their polite way of begging for water? The plants speak, and I am at an unique disposition to hear them. Our weaknesses are our strengths, two sides of the same coin. So, I turn the issue to you. Which side of your coin are you staring at? Perhaps it's time to give it a flip.

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9/7/2019 8:50pm

The Dodona tree has Oak Wilt. The vascular tissue sample culture came back with an undeniable positive. It's so tragic. We had to take down the tree immediately, because of the high contagion. The Chlorokinetic Botanical Center called us in this morning, and you know it's bad news if you get a call on the weekend. We held a short honor service for the old tree, then we cut her through. Three hundred and fifty seven years of growth, sliced away in a matter of minutes. Even the roots had to be dug up and properly disposed. It's such a tragically serious disease. A bunch of the neighboring trees defoliated as we dragged their fallen comrade's main trunk away, like a hundred leafy tears from the crying canopy. The more emotional chlorokinetics were sobbing by the time we were finished, completely overwhelmed by it all. The rest of the day was spent scouring the Whispering Grove for any other infected trees -- Oak Wilt spreads fast you know. It wasn't easy work, and one of the other girls swore she heard a prophecy that the entire grove would be barren within two years. That put everyone on edge, even though we didn't find any other possibly infected individuals. The center compensated us for our overtime work with, in addition to pay, a free bag of apples from the test apple orchard. It was nice of them to do that, but I've just been emotion-eating and stress-eating them since I got back to my room. At least it's healthier to gorge on fruit than candy.

It's kind of interesting, these apples are from a test orchard at some satellite center the Chlorokinetic Botany Association manages. My boss told us it was a project to reverse cultivate the rare "apples of discord". The researchers haven't had much luck, and every year end up with a ridiculous surplus of golden, but otherwise unremarkable, apples. Personally, I don't get why you'd want to bring back the discord variety of apple trees. At least three internal upheavals, the legendary Trojan War, and one Spanish street's architecture have been attributed to that species. They can't possibly be hoping to start more disputes, can they? I mean, my optimistic side says that if we can figure out what makes the apples discordant, we can alter it into something else... apples of harmony, or unity even. But let's be real, it's probably more for recipe reasons. I know that in the Organic Alchemy classes apples of discord are called for in a handful of the labs, and the substitutions never seem to go over well. Well, I know mine certainly never did. Alchemy classes are such a pain.

I couldn't focus very well today after the Dodona tree drama. I've got a lot of homework, but nothing seemed to progress no matter what I tried. So eventually I gave up and bustled around the dorm a bit. You know, doing mindless chores. Clean the floor, water the indoor plants, freshen up the protective sigils, take out the trash, polish the divination bowl, etc. My roommate has kind of figured out that when I do the domestic stuff I'm upset, so she left me alone mostly. She also made me a cup of tea, which was sweet of her. There was a bit too much St. John's Wort in it for my tastes, but I appreciated the gesture.

Tomorrow I'll have to kick it into high gear. Last week I missed an essay due date, and blundering like that twice in a row would be a sorry way to start the semester. I have morning worship, but after that there's a good chunk of time I can hole up somewhere and plow through assignments. Maybe I'll try to meet up with someone and "study buddy" with them. I probably won't, though. Socializing is just too tiring when you're sad.

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