Huldra

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8/29/2019 8:33pm

They say journaling helps with stress. And I haven't journaled in f-o-r-e-v-e-r-! So maybe there's a cause and effect there. I'm sure those called "They" meant journaling in a private diary, like the cute little leather books girls hide under their bed. But I'm trying to be more... what's the word... public? Outreaching? ...social? Yeah, I'm trying to be more social this semester, so instead of sequestering all these thoughts and experiences in the dark recesses of a closed book I'll spew them out onto this screen and into the teeming forum of classmates! I don't know if this is a good idea. But hey, at the very least it'll save some paper. And as one of the student employees at the Chlorokinetic Botanical Center based at Psychic High School, you better believe I like saving paper. We get some real attitude from our patients and dependents if they see us toting about unnecessary paper. Especially the tubers. They have eyes all over, you know.

Having a job while in school isn't for everyone. Especially when you take into account your clubs, sports, periodical world-ending catastrophes, and other standard high school busy-ness. I know my brother was really against working past summer. I guess sometimes it just spreads a person too thin, trying to do well in too many areas. It probably didn't help that he was trying to astral project to five different locations every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Honestly, he should have just rescheduled some things. Do you know how long it takes to re-condense a soul conglomerate thinned to the width of a number 3 pencil? Annoyingly long. Mother was beside herself.

But regardless of others' experiences, having a part-time job works well for me. Though I will admit, I got lucky with my position. For a chlorokinetic with some... well... shyness, a career submersed in the lovely, leafy seclusion of botany is perfection! Is there anything better than spending hours alone with the plant life, silently tending to their discolorations and epinasty? Unless you are enthusiastically agreeing with me, I am NOT interested in your answer to that rhetorical question.

Today I was in charge of checking on the Whispering Grove. We do routine check-ups of all the unique study biomes on campus, just to make sure there aren't any glaring issues. The Whispering Grove is the least popular, I think. Even me, who adores plants, gets unnerved in that place. Every tiny puff of air through the canopy sets the Dodona trees off -- on blustery days, it's a regular cacophony of portents and presages! Usually people are supposed to go in there with at least one other person, buddy-system style, to try and decrease the likelihood of POS Syndrome (Prophecy Over-Saturation Syndrome, if you're a baby freshman unfamiliar with the concept). But I work better alone, and my assigned buddy was skipping out on her shift again, so it was just me today.

Most everything was fine, of course. Like always, the thick, imposing trunks crowded up to the pathway, their gnarled branches above twining and twisting around and about in a pattern that only might be there. Their leaves always remind me of aspens, the way they flutter so urgently, beckoning and begging for your attention with flashes of pale green undersides. Though the size is much different than aspens -- Dodona leaves can get so very large. My boss said once she saw one the size of Mr. Grandilly's head -- as if anything could be as large as THAT. (Note to self, delete that joke before I post this journal so I don't get in trouble).

One of the Dodonas had a pretty bad canker on a major branch. It was weeping quite a bit, and some insects were already being attracted to the sap. As a distant relative of oaks, Dodona trees have a sensitivity to Oak Wilt, so the Chlorokinetic Botanial Center has to take open wounds like that pretty seriously. The tests won't come back for a little bit, so until then it's just a matter of keeping the poor thing comfortable. I did what I could to console it and lessen the weeping, but sometimes a tree just needs to cry. Well... except Weeping Willows -- they need to quit being dramatic and just grow up!

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8/30/2019 8:56pm

It's always satisfying to realize you learned something. You know, that spontaneous recollection of a concept, recognized and applied into the real world like it was supposedly meant to. The more you learn about something, the more it changes your perception of reality around you. Like how learning more about physics makes acceleration events around you more apparent and logical. Or how tasseography brings a whole new dimension to the morning coffee at Spoonbenders. Information is weird like that; you don't know you didn't have it until you have what you didn't know. ...Well, there's probably a better way to word that. Maybe I'll leave the profound declarations to the soothsayers. I hear they're trying to form a club all about standing at the corner of the main quad and just... proclaiming. Like, on a set schedule with shifts, I guess. I don't know, I think we have too many clubs as is, but maybe it'd be cool to get regular updates of non-current events.

Oh, but anyways, I bring this all up because of my plant classes! I'm trying to take the whole series for Chlorokinesis. If I could I'd take those types of classes exclusively, but you know how it goes. Everyone has to take some calculus, and some history, and some succubus-and-possession-health class. Gen Ed requirements are so annoying. At least the Chlorokinesis classes I do get to take this semester are fascinating! The more I learn in Flora Fundamentals, the more I notice during walks around campus. Just today, after lunch, I realized that there are some significant mutations in the burning bush hedges outside the cafeteria. Like, at least ten of the bushes had spikes instead of ridges along their branches. I asked my teacher about it, and she said it's an empathic effect -- those bushes are planted along the side of the building closer to the Demonology departments. She said the spikes are probably a response to cultivated sentiments of aggression, danger, and emo-eyeliner-abuse that inevitably leak out and into the plants' auric field. Isn't that fascinating? And if we hadn't been studying mutations and significant signaling in class this week, I might have disregarded the anomaly entirely! It's really quite exciting, I think.

And I'm going have plenty of time to think. I accidentally posted my last journal before removing that stupid comment about Gradilly, and now my smart mouth (smart typing fingers?) has itself landed in detention tomorrow morning. This is why I'm shy in person... you can't say the wrong thing if you say nothing! Oh well, it's too late to change this. I mean, guess I could do what my roommate suggested and try to bribe the upperclassmen in the Time Department to "lend me a hand". She said she's done it before and it worked fine. But my roommate is a lot braver than me. That assembly we had last year about the dangers of unauthorized timeline editing still has me spooked. I can't remember the last time Dean Hammer looked like that. It must have been a new mask or something.

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8/31/2019 8:07pm

On the weekends I don't have to go into work, which is nice I guess. I still take some walks through the biomes though, just for fun. There's no classes afterall, and it's a nice way to take a break from homework. Except sometimes a break turns into a much-too-long digression, since I find it so hard to resist fiddling with the plants I pass. Can you really fault me for it? Ignoring a cry for help is just unthinkable! And what cry is more pitiful than that of a hosta besieged by slugs? Than a peach tree with drowning roots? Than a succulent with sun scorch? Than a semi-carnivorous-Venus-curse-trap with a tummy ache? Even if I don't have my safety gear on or my work equipment on hand, I have to try to do SOMETHING for these poor babies. A lack of voice is not a lack of life! Though if you believe that transfer student from Oklahoma, everything actually does possess a voice. According to him, doors are always shrieking. It'd be weird to be him for a day, don't you think? I wonder if earplugs help, or if those would talk too.

For part of my walk today I sat with the one Dodona tree again, the one with the weeping canker. Even if the Whispering Grove gives me anxiety and the creeps, this poor tree really needed some love and sympathy! It looks like its crying has been lessening a bit, but I kept having to wave away insects. That sweet sap is just magnetizing for those creepy crawlies. Which I guess is all fine and good in the grand scheme of the circle of life, blah blah natural balances blah blah flow of life blah blah blah. But Dodona trees... they're like belladonna nightshade, every part is dangerous! Just instead of poison in all its parts there's... I don't know the technical term. Future goop? Ask someone in Organic Chemistry of Paraspecies, they'd know I bet. Regardless, whatever the sap has in it that makes Dodona trees so loquacious is all throughout it, but especially concentrated in the sap. Seriously. Try to put that syrup on your pancakes and, assuming your head doesn't melt, you'll be doomed to live only perceiving the future(s) while still physically existing in the present. There's some cool case studies about that, but long story short we really don't need Psychic Saturated Beetles released into the ecosystem. The fauna around campus is screwy enough as is, especially if we're including the homo sapien varieties.

Eventually I left the Whispering Grove (but not before I got lucky and heard that there's a pop quiz in Synchronicity on Tuesday SPREAD THE WORD AND DO THE ASSIGNED READINGS!) because I promised my roommate that I'd go with her to the Floating Amphitheater. She really wanted to see some sporting competition that was being held there -- she's sporty like that. I'm not really big on the whole spectator experience, my personal preference being to avoid screaming crowds rather than merging with them. Bit too much like the brainwashing drills we did at my middle school. Lucky for me however, there was no hive mind engagement in the cards for today! Apparently one of the Amphitheaters went missing, Number 3, so the rest are all closed and tethered until they figure out what happened. My money is on the theory that it got loose in that storm from earlier in the week and got swept off eastward -- Occam's Razor and what have you. Of course, the campus calamity bookies said there's better odds on unauthorized dimension bubbling being the culprit, what with a student known for such an affinity going missing around the same time. All I'll say about that is I hope the Bubbler knows how to Pop such a Bubble. Otherwise it's going to be a long, lonely time until the campus security pins down their planar aneurysm. Ideally that theory is wrong; I've got $15 riding on this one!

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9/4/2019 8:06pm

Sometimes people really get my goat, so to speak. Well, not literally. There's that pet ban on the dorms so I couldn't bring any of the goats here even if I wanted to -- and honestly I wouldn't want to. Dad may love them, but no one else would want to get those goats. They're the type of goats that get YOU. I bet even the winter sacrifice ceremony heads would want those little monsters, no matter how perfect their symbolism.

You may ask me, Huldra, what's getting you riled up? Well, I already told you, really you need to work on listening, it's PEOPLE. Honestly, I don't know why I communicate with you bloody, non-cellulose Eukaryotas at all. I was just talking with my roommate, who I love and will forgive but not for at least another hour, and I mentioned how all banana trees on most plantations (plantain-tions?) are identical clones. And she didn't believe me. Like, every fact I threw at her she wouldn't believe. Um? My entire thing?? My dominant personality trait??? Is plant knowledge?????????

Seriously, this is true, I swear! You walk down the rows of banana trees and they're clones, vegetative propagation, rip a branch off the mommy tree and _b_a_m_ you've got a baby tree ready to plant. If you don't believe me, tell the same joke at three different parts of the banana orchard. They all laugh the same way. Well, it's more a slight bobbing of their fronds, but it's the SAME. And they all respond to the name Cavendish, which is a little strange, and I hope there isn't someone's consciousness embedded in the hundreds of clone banana trees. Because as creepy as that is, the Pando forest is already doing that kind of thing, and I don't think he wants competition. It's his brand, you know?

Then again, a big fight to the death between the Cavendish plantations and the Pando forest would be an event to see. Of course, I wouldn't condone such wasteful and horrific spilling of sap. It's just... well, it's been so long since some big drama in the tree world, you know? The ornamental grasses always have their bickerings going on, but uproar amongst the woody giants is such a rarity! I mean, maybe that'd be the kind of thing to herald a return of treants! Seeing that, it's every nature communer's best daydream. I think I'd cry if I could get a treant's autograph. I'd have to have a pen ready, though. If I asked them to sign with a pencil, well, that's rather tasteless. Would you sign your name with someone else's severed finger?

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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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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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9/15/2019 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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