Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Years (Eve)

I'm home! (Home being in Louisiana)
Dad drove me to the airport yesterday in silence and I pretty much slept all day today. I think Harriet and Kristy and I are going to go outside later tonight and shoot some firecrackers. Shooting firecrackers is kind of a pastime around here. And Kristy, she seems to know ALL the secrets of getting the most bang out of fireworks.

Another thing we do around here is to make lists of New Year's Resolutions. I've already made one of mine -- and that is not to take too many things to heart and to take myself less seriously. I know it's one of the 'bad' things I got from mom. Along with that resolution, I've also resolved to have more fun in the coming year. Another thing I'm resolving to do is to learn more about different people and different cultures. I'm even considering becoming a Traveling Doll over the summer.

What are YOUR New Year's Resolutions?

Happy 2009, everybody. Let's make THIS year the best EVER!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Musings on Harriet

More greetings from "balmy" Lancaster, PA. I'll be back on terra firma in Louisiana before New Year's. The weather reports say it's going to get cold again soon.
It was an unusually warm day so dad and I took a stroll in the park. We talked about a lot of things, including where I'd be going to school next year. I told him that I was looking into several schools, including Hanover Academy and Parkview Ladies' College. "All of them are private boarding schools," he said, chewing on his mustache.
"I know, dad," I told him.
"Well, aren't you setting yourself up for a fall?"
"Whaddya mean, dad?"
"Private schools like the ones you're thinking about applying to cost money. And what if you don't get in?"
"I'm not thinking about not getting in, dad."
Dad managed a chuckle. "You sound like your mother." Then he sighed. "You're growing up, Scooter -- growing up a little too fast for me."
I had never heard dad talk like that before. One thing I know for sure, I'm not happy about the prospect of going back to Adams Junior High.
Later on, when I got back to dad's computer, I saw that Harriet sent me an email. She says she misses me (of course), that she still wants to have our slumber party (of course, even though she made her birthday and her party got postponed because her grandmother was in the hospital) and that some of her family is still freaking out over her new look. I think if I lopped off six inches my family would be in shock too.
Harriet before:

Harriet now:

You be the judge.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Family Ties

Hello everyone from PA! It's cold here but not as cold as it could be, so I suppose I should count my blessings.
Christmas was pretty good, actually. Mom sent me a new outfit, which is cute but still seems more like a Meredith outfit than something belonging to me. I guess it's the color that's got me. Look:

Dad is, well, Dad. I have to say, he's really improved his cooking. Either that or he's buying a heck of a lot of packaged food and reading the directions really well. He and mom still aren't talking, and I haven't seen my mother in eight months. I'm not sure whether to be sad about that or not.
Got an email from Nicki, who's still in Colorado and will be there till after the New Year. She sent a bunch of pictures, some of the mountains, some of the snow, and some of her with the new puppy she got for Christmas. From the pics she sent I couldn't tell what kind of puppy it was, but it looked to be frisky. She calls him "Sparky."

Nicki has a younger brother, Adam, who's in fourth grade, and her twin sisters were born the day after Thanksgiving, Rebecca Faith and Kristine Hope. Her email account couldn't fit all those pics, so she says she's sending pics of them too. She also says she's been trying to spend some time with her best friend from Colorado, Becca, and her other friend Kris. I tell Nicki one thing. If that dog shows up here, I'll scream.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Welp, it's that time of the year again. I decided to go back home to Pennsylvania. But before I do, I wanna let everybody know what I've been up to lately.
I can't say I'm sure what I want for Christmas, because what any girl wants, I pretty much already have.
First, I misplaced my digital camera, so I didn't do many journal entries. But after the election (the real one, not mine) I went back to work on the student council. Being class president definitely isn't easy. You have to find a balance between all these different groups, who all want to be heard and all want you to listen to them. I don't envy the job the real president has to do, at all.
On December 11th, it snowed here. Vee had told me that it didn't snow that often here, I know back home it snowed quite a good deal. We had the day off school because of the snow. Back home I probably would have had to go to school. The shot below, I managed to take of Kristy with my cameraphone, apologies for the lack of quality.

And I've also helped Harriet decorate her grandmother's Christmas tree:

While I was at Harriet's place we sat up all night last night and watched Samantha and Felicity's movies back to back. I don't remember which one of us fell asleep first. All in all, it's been pretty busy here at Casa Hotchkiss.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Sorry to scream that in big terms, but WOOOOOO HOOOOO! The guy I really wanted to win the presidency won tonight.

When they announced it, Harriet and I reached for each other and gave each other big hugs. Harriet's mom and grandmother were crying. Harriet's grandmother lived through segregation in Louisiana, it wasn't easy. Coming from Pennsylvania, from a white middle-class family, I cannot even begin to understand what they went through.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rock the Vote (and other things)

Well, got a good bit to say now...

First, this weekend Vee went to this thrift store in the city and found me a Coconut hoodie and cap, and I decided to wear it to school yesterday. Megan assigned me to interview our school's newest student, Mia St. Clair, for the paper. I wasn't exactly looking forward to this interview, but she wasn't bad. She could seem cold, but she's ambitious, that's all. Very focused. She's hellbent on going to the 2014 Olympics. She enjoys ice hockey, roller hockey, roller blading -- anything that keeps her moving. With three older brothers, who could blame her?

Today school was out because of elections. Since Harriet and I are working polls at the local district, we spent the day out at our polling place. The atmosphere was unlike anything else I'd ever experienced. We decided to wear red, white, and blue. And, I'm digging Harriet's new 'do, kinda. It makes her look like a hippie.

I got to check out the new electronic voting machines they put in at my precinct. They're pretty cool, you check your ballots and then when you're done you press this button at the bottom that says "Cast Vote." Harriet and I had a blast talking to everyone who wanted to vote. It was kinda funny, after I'd spent upwards of a month on my class president campaign, I was on the other side of the political process.
And can you believe, I've just gone through an entire blog entry without mentioning you-know-who....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Halloween Dance (and other assorted topics)

Well, it didn't go exactly as planned, but yes, there was a Halloween Dance on Friday.
Harriet, Kristy, Katarina, Alison, Megan and I worked like mad to get decorations put up. We got no help from Meredith, Natasha, or Madisyn. In fact, they did everything in their power to stop this dance from happening.

I managed to find a dress to throw on, so no, I didn't have to cut up a pillowcase to become a ghost. And the dance happened anyway. Kids went through the haunted house (Kristy hooked us up with an awesome smoke machine) getting candy and other prizes at the end.

Of even more interest to me is this site: Yep, on my dad's side (at least) I'm of English descent. I'm likely a descendant of a Hotchkiss from Shropshire, England. I guess this explains why I've always been curious about England and wanting to go to London some day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Well, we finally made progress on the dance front. But not because of Meredith, Natasha, or Madisyn. Neither of them have lifted a finger to help with the dance.
The school gym is halfway finished. We decided to go with the haunted house theme, with cotton balls and fake spider webs all over. I have no idea how it's all gonna shake out, but I hope it does.
I also signed up to volunteer at a local polling place for election day. All I do, really, is hand out flyers and write down stuff. Since I'm eleven, they're not gonna give me too much to do.
As for who I support, I'm torn. I like Obama, but think it's cool that a woman is in the running for VP.

And I'm still tutoring Kristy Van Dyke. She's a fast learner -- matter of fact, I think she's better in science than I am -- and I've been trying to get her to catch up to the rest of the class in the other subjects.
I also have no costume either. I'm considering just cutting up an old pillowcase and becoming a ghost.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A tough goodbye

Nicki left yesterday evening. As I write, she is in Colorado, with her family.
I can't believe I actually miss her. I mean, we have IM and phone but it won't be the same. She promised she would be back in time for the holidays. I'm actually counting down the days until she's back here. I know that sounds incredibly selfish of me, but it's true.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Wow, it's starting to feel like the weather back home in PA. Quite chilly. I thought Louisiana was warmer than this.
Equally chilly has been Meredith's attitude. And it's not just Meredith. It's her disciples. If Natasha Ivanova is Meredith's first lackey, then Madisyn Baker is her second. It isn't just that Madisyn is blond like Meredith, or that she copies everything Meredith wears, or that she follows her all around school. Meredith has a younger sister named Madison, as well. It's that Madisyn has also copied Meredith's attitude.

So, Madisyn is on the decorations committee for the Halloween dance (which BTW I still don't have any decorations for, or a costume!) and I went up to her and Meredith and asked her to try to pull her weight.
"I don't have to do anything for your stupid dance!" Madisyn shouted, within earshot of Meredith, who chuckled loudly in front of Natasha and Alyssa and everyone else. "It's a nerds' dance anyway," agreed Meredith. "Besides, I've got my own plans for that night. I'm having a big party at my place, with a live band, and half the school will be there. So I don't know how you're even going to get anyone to come to your stupid dance. I could see it now. You and your two or three little buddies, standing in front of the fake decorations in your homemade halloween costumes, all sad because nobody bothered to show up. Too bad, so sad, poor wittle Haley Hotchkiss!" Then Madisyn added, "Meredith's party will be tons more fun than your stupid little dance."
I can't cancel the dance. I promised my voters that. But after this, I don't know how I'm going to pull it off.
On top of that, Megan Ryder interviewed me for the student newspaper. She told me it was the usual practice, interviewing class presidents and publishing their stories in the paper. She asked me questions like what I intended to do as class president.
My first report card came in, too. I didn't get straight A's, though. I'm a perfectionist, I'm kind of ticked about that. I got B's in math and science. I expected A's in social studies and English and got them. I got extra credit from my social studies teacher for running my successful campaign for sixth grade class president.
"I wish I got your grades!" Harriet chuckled. "I've got mostly B's and C's and YOU're complaining?"
"Tell me about it," added Kristy. "I've got mostly I's on my report card 'cause I missed so much school."
And then Meredith is, like, "Did you get straight A's, smartie?"
"What's it to you?" I asked.
Madisyn Baker said, "Well, we just wanna know, geek."
"I didn't get straight A's."
"Big shock!" Meredith shouted. "Maybe we should copy off of you then."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some news

Nicki just told me some stunning news. She might be headed back to Colorado over the holidays. And she could leave before Thanksgiving.
I can't say I'm totally surprised, after all, she does need to go see her family at some point. But I had just gotten used to the idea of having her here. It's strange, but if she leaves, I might actually miss her.
I got to school early because I had to tutor Kristy Van Dyke. Remember, she missed two weeks of school by being in the hospital.
Well today we took our class portrait. I decided I wanted to look especially nice for the picture, so I wore my green cashmere sweater (it was another cool day) and my plaid skirt.
I had another reason for wanting to look nice today, too. Adam.
Adam Cartwright is a sixth grade boy, and, I'm telling you, he is sooo handsome. Too bad he doesn't know I exist. He spends most of his time being pursued by the likes of Meredith Hopkins, Natasha Ivanova, Madisyn Baker, and Alyssa Belfour (this dark-haired girl). As far as I know, Adam doesn't play any sports -- he just looks hot. He has these deep brown eyes... mmmm yummy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

About the new girl...

Well, the rumors are true. The new girl, Mia St. Clair, was introduced in my English class today. And I hate to say it, but Mia is gorgeous. She has strawberry blond hair and hazel green eyes. She said she was from upstate New York, she was a figure skater, and her goal was to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics. She says she also played ice hockey with her three older brothers. I'd like to know where she could play hockey in Louisiana, where the last time it snowed, I wasn't even living here.
When Mia said she played hockey, I noticed Kristy Van Dyke sitting up straighter in her chair.
I have to say, ever since she lost the election, Meredith is being worse to me than ever! She wrote nasty notes and slipped them in my locker, hid my math book so she thought I couldn't do my homework (I ended up getting it anyway), and purposely makes noises while I'm presiding over student council meetings. My pen pal Robyn says that when karma hits her, it will hit her hard. I keep hoping that would happen, but nothing seems to happen to girls like her.

Worse, she showed up at school today wearing a tiara on her head. Apparently she'd won a pageant over the weekend and wanted to show off her prize. As if she needed her head swollen any more. Ouch! Did that thing hurt?
Then she bragged about having seen High School Musical 3 already. See, supposedly she knows someone who works at the movie theater, so she's already gotten a sneak peek at the movie. It doesn't come out until Friday. Not that I'm interested, anyway. Harriet wants to see it, though. She kinda has a crush on Corbin Bleu, one of the guys that plays in the movie.

Speaking of Robyn, she sent me her old AG Place jammies. They're cute, but a little too, Meredith-ish for my taste. LOL They're a tank top and little boxer shorts.
Harriet and I have been planning a slumber party for her 11th birthday. So far we've got me, her, Kristy Van Dyke, Nicki, and possibly Katarina and Megan on the potential guest list. Kristy's inclusion on this list is obvious. She's been following me and Harriet around school ever since she came back from the hospital. Nicki's on this list because she's my cousin, and Harriet likes her, although they're not what you'd consider friends, but they talk. Katarina was my suggestion. She's quiet and shy and doesn't seem to have many friends. Really, the only time I see her is when I'm with the newspaper. The same with Megan.
I still have no idea what I'm doing for Halloween, or how I'm going to deliver on the Halloween dance. I managed to get a couple people to help with decorations, and we got the teacher to let us use the gym for the haunted house, but nothing else is done. And Halloween is next Friday. Sigh. I'm in a heck of a pickle.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Order...or not

First off, before I begin this entry....
If my glasses are different from the ones you're used to seeing me with, they are. And there's a good reason for that. You see, my old pair got smashed to bits. And guess who was responsible.
You got it. The one and only Ms. Blondie herself. I took my specs off in gym class, and somehow she found them and tossed them to the top of the bleachers. You could not imagine how upset I was when some boy finally told me where they were and how I found them.
So, I'm wearing these until mine can finally get fixed.

Speaking of Blondie, if I thought Meredith would have been repentant after losing the election, I was wrong. In fact, the next day she was in rare form, with zinger after zinger -- and this time, they weren't all aimed at me. She went after my friends, too.
I can deal with her railing against me now, because I can care less, but going after my friends is just low.
Kristy Van Dyke has taken to following me and Harriet around school now. I think Harriet knew her in kindergarten, then she moved away, and now she's back. She's okay, I suppose.
"Well if it isn't the head geek and her band of misfits," Meredith shouted, within earshot of her followers, who cackled like hens in kind.
"Shut up, Meredith," I said.
Meredith referred to Harriet as my 'sidekick' and said Kristy 'should just change her name to Chris, because she looks like a boy.' True, Kristy's preference is for flannel and fleece instead of the stuff Meredith likes, and she seems to care less about clothes, but there was no reason for Meredith to go there.
Kristy came back with a zinger of her own, though. She said Meredith's outfit looked like a cheap imitation of something off the Disney channel. And she added something else too. "That's why I voted for Haley." I was impressed.

That afternoon I had my first meeting as sixth grade class president. I had to admit, Haley Hotchkiss, class president, had a good ring to it. The topic of discussion was the upcoming Halloween dance. Of course, as sixth grade class president, I'm mostly responsible for planning the dance.
I haven't had time to do anything Halloween related. I don't even have a costume. There are a couple medieval dresses here, but they're too small for me. And Vee doesn't have enough time or money to send for a costume from AG. Not sure what to do.

Meredith walked in, tight short skirt and all, sending a few sneers my way. Nicki and some girl called Heather, her homeroom rep, were also there. Heather managed to meander her way straight to Meredith's corner. Nicki and I both let out deep groans.
Meredith's skirt was so short and tight she could barely sit down.
So, I opened the floor for suggestions. Meredith and Heather were playing around with nail polish. The other kids just looked at me with blank stares. "Hey, you're the president, madam, do something!"
So I banged my gavel again and asked for the meeting to come to order. Surprisingly, when I banged my gavel, everyone became quiet, even Meredith, who took to fooling with her Ipod. I again asked for ideas. "Costume contest!" one girl suggested.
"Bobbing for apples!"
"Haunted house!"
Nicki grabbed her notepad and copied everything down.
"All great ideas," I said, "now about a theme? Since a haunted house has been proposed, how about Haunted Halloween as the dance theme, with the haunted house as the centerpiece? Surrounding the house would be pumpkins and scarecrows and ghosts and other creatures of the night. There would be a space over to the right of the house for pictures."
After I finished talking, I didn't hear much argument. Not even from Meredith, who was more interested in her cell phone conversation than what I was saying. This class president thing was definitely harder than I thought.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And the winner is...

I decided I needed to look as 'presidential' as possible. After all, this was my first-ever run for any kind of political office. And I needed to prepare an acceptance speech should my name be drawn from that hat.
So I went over to Harriet's (again). Harriet had Kristy there already. Kristy still walks with a limp, but she's getting around much better. And she's gone back to school. Since her last name is Van Dyke, she's not in my homeroom. Not sure who she voted for, and I didn't bother to ask. She did, however, finally tell us why she had to have surgery in the first place: she'd smashed her hand and legs in a scooter accident! Now, I think I'd have to be either blind or crazy or both to ride a scooter, but that's Kristy's thing. She likes all kinds of things -- fishing, boating, riding her scooter, and dreams of getting a motorcycle. Matter of fact, I hear she's back riding her scooter again.

And another thing: She LOVES to eat! She'd be very much at home at Harriet's place, Harriet's mom is an awesome cook. Harriet's mom made some spaghetti and meatballs. She also fried some chicken drumsticks. I was hungry, so I took one. Kristy wolfed down the spaghetti.
So over spaghetti and chicken and McDonalds drinks, we all hashed out what I hoped would be an acceptance speech.
I've just started reading Samantha Parkington's books, and I'm beginning to like her more and more. Even though Felicity is still my favorite historical AG, I love that Samantha doesn't discriminate against her friend Nellie just because her family is poor. She doesn't allow her wealth to get in the way of friendship, unlike SOME people we know -- coughMeredithcough.
Speaking of whom, when I saw her, my mouth hit the floor. Her skirt was so short, and her hair so big, that I thought she might have been going to a Hannah Montana concert instead of a school assembly. She even wore -- gasp -- makeup and showed off her new earrings. I mean, seriously. Does she really think she's going to get away with that?
When I walked past, she teased and said I looked like a librarian. I used to care what she says, it used to bother me, but I don't anymore. She doesn't realize how irrelevant (yeah, big word huh?) she really is. The fact that I, lowly little Haley Hotchkiss, got the exact same number of votes as she did, proves that point. The world doesn't revolve around her, although she thinks it does.
So we got to the assembly, and everyone sat in their seats. Some eighth-grade girl, who I believe to be the student body president, walked up to the assistant principal and handed her a box. The assistant principal then gave the box to one of the other teachers, who then pulled a name out of the box.
"And the winner is," she began, her voice booming through the microphone.
Harriet gave me a nudge. "Don't you just love this?" she asked as she grabbed my hand. She didn't want to know. I couldn't tell if she were being sarcastic or not.
Before she read the name out, she went on with all that mumble jumble about how both of us were winners and she was glad to see such enthusiasm in the campaign this year and she was looking forward to working with whoever came out the victor in this election. I was, like, come on, just cut to the chase.
"Haley Hotchkiss!"
I was positively floored. I couldn't believe I actually won. I, geeky, dorky little Haley Hotchkiss, who realistically had no shot at getting elected, actually did get elected. I guess the American voting system still does work, at least in some cases.
I looked around for Meredith, but I didn't see her, at least not at first. I did, however, catch a glimpse of someone running out of the auditorium in tears. In that instant I felt sorry for her. If the outcome had been different, I probably would have felt the same way. I realized that there really wasn't a winner in this election. All it did was split the entire sixth grade into two distinct camps, and it just so happened that my camp won out over hers on the day the election was held. Had the election been on a different day, it probably would have had a different result.
Of course, knowing that I actually won meant that I would have to work even harder than before, but I don't mind. I'm a hard worker by nature. I'm not sure why that is. I suppose I take after my mother, who's an attorney.
Public speaking is not my strong suit, but I'm getting better at it since this whole election thing started. I wasn't going to stand up there and make any promises I couldn't keep, but the promise I would keep was that I was going to do my best to represent the sixth grade.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Catching up

I apologize I've been so busy, but I've got a lot to talk about.
I heard the big news about the Samantha Parkington dolls being 'archived.' Not sure what AG means by 'archived' but it can't be good. I have to say, it sounds like the dolls are being put in this big old storage vault and preserved like they preserve mummies.
I have to confess, as far as the historical AG characters go, I'm a bigger fan of Felicity Merriman than Samantha, but she's still likable nonetheless. Samantha was this rich orphan who lived with her grandmother at the turn of the century.

I've taken up a new hobby... stargazing! Yeah, Vee picked up this telescope for me, and I like it. If you haven't noticed, I'm kind of a geek. I like learning all kinds of things.
Okay, now for the other big news -- the election. Yes, there was an election, and not for president of the US, although I am only paying minor attention to THAT, lol. I'm talking about the sixth grade election, the one I've written about endlessly in this space.
There were, as far as I was concerned, only two candidates -- Meredith and me. There could be only one winner. And I was hoping that winner would be me.
The election was last Tuesday, and I waited two days on pins and needles waiting for the results.

Thursday morning I was sitting in my English class when Megan Ryder (editor-in-chief of the newspaper) knocked on the door and whispered something to my teacher. The teacher then called me to go to the principal's office. When I got there, Meredith was there, too. I didn't want to sit next to her.
Then Megan came back out, with a vote tally. "Well, the two of you were tied, 22 votes apiece."
"TIED???" Meredith asked. "Whaddya mean, tied?"
"Both you and Haley Hotchkiss got the exact same number of votes."
"But -- that's not right. I took my own poll and I knew I would win!"
In that instant, I almost -- almost -- felt sorry for Meredith. So, I asked Megan who would break the tie, and she said they won't break the tie. Instead, both our names would be put in a hat and a name would be drawn by a teacher. That person would become sixth grade president, and the name left in the hat would become vice president.
The prospect of working with Meredith, either way, did not sound good at all. But then again, nobody gave me a fighting chance of winning this election. If I had known I'd be tied with Meredith Hopkins at the end of this election, I probably would have campaigned even more.
"Well, when is this tie going to be broken?"
"Tomorrow, in a school assembly."
Joy. Fun.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Great Debates

I'm sorry about the lack of updates recently, I've been sooo busy! Between the campaign and the newspaper and of course my schoolwork, I've barely had time to breathe! Sometimes I wonder if I've stretched myself too thin.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the election. It's next week, so campaigning has reached a fever pitch. I've come to the conclusion that the competition for sixth grade class representative has really come down to Meredith -- and me. The other students in the race just don't really matter.
Meredith and I had to address the entire sixth grade in an assembly. The thought of standing next to her made me retch, but I straightened out my blouse and calmed myself down. We posed for the obligatory yearbook picture.

Just before the debate started, though, Meredith shot a look at me that could melt steel.

"You're not going to win the election, Haley Hotchkiss," Meredith hissed. "So you need to just quit while you're ahead.

"I'm not quitting, Meredith," I vowed, "even though I know you sent Natasha to tear down those posters."

"How do you know she tore them down?"

"Oh, come on, Meredith! You think I was born yesterday?"

So there Meredith and I stood, side by side but worlds apart. I didn't look at her and she didn't look at me. I stood there and told the sixth grade why I was running: I'm smart, I'm a hard worker, and I'm willing to learn. I'm hoping to convince 'fringe voters,' aka people who haven't made their minds up yet, to at least consider voting for me. I've figured that those who have already decided to vote for Meredith aren't going to be convinced otherwise.

Meredith resorted to her old tricks of teasing and name calling. I said to myself, Haley, don't lower yourself to her level, just talk about the issues. I wanted to talk about student activities, she was just there calling me names like geek and nerd. It became clear to me that she wasn't running to better the sixth grade. She was only running for her own selfish reasons -- and if she were to get elected, nothing would get done.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My New Outfit

After a very slow weekend on this front, I went back to school this morning. Vee bought me this new outfit to wear. She said it was a birthday present, but since my birthday was September 3, and we were all scattered all across the country, she decided to give it to me Saturday. It was a pink blouse with a vest sewn onto it, a pair of blue jeans, and some little ballet flats. Now, I have to admit, I'm not crazy about pink, but I kinda like this outfit.

So, I decided to wear it to school today. Harriet was all, oh, wow, that looks very nice on you, and then she led me to the wall right next to my homeroom. There was my sign, ripped up into tiny little pieces.

"Do you know who did it?" Harriet asked me. I told her I thought I had an idea. What I didn't tell her was who I thought did it -- either Meredith or someone working for her.
Harriet suggested that I go to the principal's office and tell her my sign was torn down and ripped up.
But that wasn't the end of the story. Some of Meredith's little followers came up to me with campaign pins that read "Hop To Hopkins," asking me to vote for her. I wouldn't vote for her even if I weren't running myself. Seriously, if you were in my shoes, would she be the kind of person you'd want for your homeroom rep?

Friday, September 19, 2008

About Nicki and Natasha

The phone rang last night. It was Nicki.
Nicki had enrolled in the sixth grade at my school, but she wasn't in my homeroom. Somehow, though, she'd heard about my decision to run for class rep.
"Well, all right!" she yelled into the receiver. She also told me her homeroom had already chosen its rep, a Heather someone she didn't like. The way she described Heather, she sounded a heckuva lot like Meredith. "At least you're making it a contest," she said.
She came over, then I introduced her to Harriet and the three of us grabbed a bunch of markers and made more signs.

Today was the first day that actually felt like fall. It was crisp and cool and I even wore my favorite hooded jacket. I walked over to the bus stop and waited for the bus.

When I got off to go to class, I met Harriet and Nicki in the hallway. They were already hanging up signs.
"Wow, you guys are quick," I said.
"Nicki and I said we wanted to get here before Meredith and her gang set up shop."
Hmm, I thought, couldn't blame them there.

We had barely finished when Natasha showed up. Natasha, you may remember, is Meredith's best friend, er, best lackey. She follows her around everywhere, and never does ANYTHING without Meredith knowing about it. That's why I was surprised to see her show up without her other half. And I have to admit, her hair is awesome, it's this lovely auburn shade and it falls in all these waves.
"What's that?" Natasha asked.
"A sign," I answered.
"I know it's a sign, dumbo," she shot back, "what's it doing there?"
"Haven't you heard?" Nicki said, "she's running for class rep."
Natasha burst in laughter. "You?" she asked herself as she shot a mean stare at me. "You mean -- you're -- running against Meredith?"
"Yeah," I said, straightening up.
"It's a free country," Nicki added. "If you're trying to stop her from running, forget it. She got in fair and square."
"You've got no chance. Meredith already has the votes she needs to get elected, and I suggest you either get with the program or get left behind." She tossed her auburn waves in our faces as she left.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Kristy came home

Well, some (sorta) big news on this front -- Kristy came home.
"Kristy" is Kristina Van Dyke, a girl in my class. I don't know her that well, but Harriet does. Mrs. Baldwin asked me to tutor her.

Kristy spent two weeks in the hospital because she broke her hand in three different places from an accident. As part of her treatment she had to have surgery, and now she has to relearn how to do everything. Including stuff we tend to take for granted.

I'm really sick of Meredith. I wish she'd disappear. Being that she's popular, everybody's gonna crowd around her. I don't understand why she's popular though. Sometimes I think I wish I knew her secret.
Harriet told me she actually used to be friends with Meredith -- back in kindergarten. But she never said why they stopped being friends or what happened.
Katarina's nice. A little quiet, doesn't say much, but she's nice. Meredith rails into her, too, calls her "Fat Kat" because she's chubbier than the rest of us.
Nicki, of course, would rather be with her animals than with other people. I guess that's ok too. Sometimes I can't believe I'm actually related to her. I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled with the idea of Nicki sticking around awhile. But it looks like she might. Her mother is pregnant with twins.
I complained about all this to Robyn, my new pen pal. She lives in New York -- but upstate. I want to go there someday. The idea of becoming a traveling AG excites me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Campaign '08 begins

And I'm not talking about McCain vs. Obama.
I'm talking about Hopkins vs. Hotchkiss. It's on like Donkey Kong.
Here's how it started.
So, our teacher walks up to the front of the class today and says the sixth grade needs a class representative on the school's student council, and our homeroom needs one representative to send to the main election. And you know Little Miss Thang rose up her hand, waved it in the air like she was waving hi to someone.
So far, she was running without any competition. She was going to waltz into office, just like that.
The thought of Meredith Hopkins being MY homeroom rep was enough to make me ralph. Then, suddenly, I thought about it. In my American history class I was reading about this girl named Felicity Merriman, and I learned that our founding fathers broke away from England so that we could have the right to free and fair elections.
A free and fair election huh? That gave me an idea.
I passed Harriet a note in class and told her I was thinking about running against Meredith. "What, are you kidding me?" she whispered.
"I know she's the most popular girl in the sixth grade," I told her. "But it's not an election if nobody's running against her."
Harriet shrugged. "I guess that's true," she said.
During recess we went to the principal's office and I dropped my name in the jar she had on her desk.

A few minutes later Meredith approached me. Her skirt was so short, any more and I could see her underwear. And boy, was she angry. "Who put you up to this?" she asked.
"Put me up to what?" I asked her.
"I heard you were running against me for homeroom representative."
There were no hangers on, no onlookers. It was just her and me, face to face. I straightened up my posture. I cleared my throat and looked her in the eye, American girl to American girl. "Yeah, why?"
She looked at me again, then she looked away. Then she did a strange thing. She extended her hand. "You're on, Hotchkiss."
After extending mine, I felt her heavy grip as she walked away, tossing her blond head smelling of strawberry shampoo in my face. What had I gotten myself into?
Still feeling woozy from that attack of strawberry shampoo, I took another look at Meredith and I realized what I was up against. She's basically an eleven year old Barbie doll come to life. And I, plain old Haley Hotchkiss, am her only challenger to sixth grade supremacy.

This evening Harriet and I got some Crayola markers and started making some signs. Word spread pretty fast because as soon as I got home, Megan from the paper called. She wanted to arrange interviews with all the candidates from different homerooms. "I can't interview myself, could I?" I said.
"No, Haley, of course not, someone else will interview you." She wouldn't tell me just who would interview me, but I was secretly hoping it wasn't Alison. That girl, honestly, gives me the creeps, even more than Meredith does. And that's saying something.
"You sure you want to go through with it?" Harriet said while writing 'Vote 4 Haley' on a poster board.
Sure there was a part of me that was afraid. But there was an even bigger part that didn't want Meredith Hopkins to get the better of me.

Monday, September 15, 2008

School Newspaper?

Today my English teacher, Mrs. Baldwin, asked to see me. "Haley, I've looked at your essays, and I was wondering -- have you considered writing for the school newspaper?"
I had to admit, I'd never thought about it.
"I just thought, you know, Haley, you're a good writer. You have talent. I just think it's time to put your talent to some good use."
Harriet was waiting for me outside the door when I came out. "Are you going to do it?" she asked.
"I don't know," I whispered.

Just then Meredith walked by in her cheerleaders uniform. I'd forgotten there was a pep rally this afternoon for the football team. And I was reminded once again of why she made me sick.
When I walked into the library where the newspaper staff was meeting, a girl with stick-straight red hair -- hair even straighter than mine, if that's possible -- and wearing a yellow dress approached me. "Hi, I'm Megan Ryder," she said in a cheery voice. "I'm the editor of the newspaper. You must be Haley. Mrs. Baldwin said you were coming."
She did? I wondered. I'd never told Mrs. Baldwin I would come.

Megan shook my hand hard. She then introduced me to some of the other staff members. "Keisha Vance is our music editor. Ask her anything and everything about music and she'll tell you. Alison McCann is our sports guru. She's memorized all kinds of cool stats and plays three sports herself. Katarina Engel speaks three different languages and was even born in Germany. Whatever you want her to research, she'll find."
Alison called me over to sit at the table with her, Keisha, and Katarina. She was a scruffy looking sort, with long messy blond hair that she kept running her hands through. It didn't look like she ever washed or combed it.
Just then Mrs. Baldwin came in. She introduced herself as the faculty adviser. She then said there needed to be a back-to-school edition of the paper.
"Well, what can we put in it?" I wondered.
"Anything you want, as long as it has to do with all of us coming back to start a new school year."

For the next few minutes, we talked about ideas for the issue. We finally settled on interviewing students on what they thought of the beginning of the year. Question was, who were we going to interview?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A New Friend?

So, I'm sitting at home going over my English homework (like I have anything better to do on a Saturday when the weather is dreary and it keeps looking like it's going to rain but doesn't) when the phone rings.
It's Harriet.
I'm a little surprised by it, but then she invited me over to her place to watch some movies and chill.
So I said, okay, I'm gonna go.
I get there, right, and Harriet's mom has put out the yummiest swiss roll cakes. I tried everything in my power to avoid them, but it was no use. I ate one anyway.
Turns out Harriet's rented a few DVDs, like The Babysitters Club and Harriet the Spy. I think I might have seen "Babysitters" once. It's this group of girls who run a babysitting service. I don't think I'd have the patience. Nicki might though.
Halfway through Harriet the Spy, I realized, the more I looked at it, the more it looked like my life. No, not the running around with a notebook watching people and stuff. I mean, the whole thing with Meredith. She's perfected the art of making people miserable while making herself look good.
You should see the way she looks at me when she walks by. Like she's better than me or something.
And then she's got her little followers watching her every move. Like Natasha. And these two other girls, Maggie Jones and Allyson Morgan. I mean, it's not like she's all that pretty. All she has is the blondest hair I've ever seen. What do they see in her -- besides the fact that she's rich?
Anyway, Harriet was halfway asleep through the FIRST movie. Wuss.
That left me up to clean up those swiss cakes. I forgot to bring my nightclothes so I'm sleeping in my shirt and planned to go back home to change. I'm also using the computer in Harriet's mom's room (shhh)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Back to School

It hasn't gotten any better, either.
I returned to school after the week-long mini vacation forced by Hurricane Gustav. And, let's just say, not much has changed. Except now, I'm riding the school bus instead of going to school with Venus.
I have to say, the school bus was another adventure. All the rowdy boys and cool girls were sitting in the back, which left me to seek a quiet seat somewhere up front.
I buried my face in my hands. I didn't know how I was going to make it through this year.
But for the first sign of progress, I walked unassisted to my home room. I actually remembered where it was.

I saw the girl who sat in front of me again. "My name's Harriet Jones," she said. "I'm named after my grandmother."
I smiled. "I'm Haley Hotchkiss."
She extended her hand. "Guess we're gonna be seeing a lot of each other, huh?"
Just when Harriet and I were talking, in walked Meredith and her crowd. As usual, Meredith showed up in the front of the pack. She wore a shirt with the word 'princess' sprawled on the front. It kind of fits. That's pretty much what she is to the sixth grade.
Harriet ran through them one by one. "Meredith Hopkins, she's the ring leader. Her parents own the mall downtown, and her dad is the grandson of the man that used to be mayor." I had to admit to myself I was impressed.
"The redhead, that's Natasha Ivanova. Her parents are Russian."
Looking at Natasha, copying everything Meredith wore and did, I decided that the only thing worse than being Meredith WANTING to be Meredith Hopkins.
Harriet added tidbits about every girl and boy who made up Meredith's group, whether they were in our homeroom or not. How did she know all this stuff? I wondered.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My First Day of School

My new school seems so big compared to my old school.
The main hallway was littered with handwritten signs with arrows pointing to where we had to go. But I was clearly not ready to do this. Finally I ended up asking one of the teachers walking up and down the halls. "Sixth grade?" she asked in between chews of gum.
"Yes, m'aam," I replied in my politest voice.
"All the sixth graders are meeting in the auditorium."
"Where's that?"
"Down the hall and take a left. You can't miss it."After thanking her, I tramped my feet toward the mass of kids crammed in one room like sardines. I had never seen this many people in my life.

Suddenly I felt smaller and younger than ever. These girls were a bunch of perfect-looking Hannah Montana clones. How was I going to compete with them?
A slender teacher in a pant suit with a short brown hair walked up to the microphone that had been placed to the front of the auditorium. She began arranging us all in ABC order.
"If your last name begins with the letters A through G, go with Mrs. Banks. If your last name begins with H through M, go with Mrs. Martin..."
Since my last name is Hotchkiss, I would have to first, find Mrs. Martin and second, find the group that was going with her.
I heard a boy behind me whisper 'Four Eyes' as I walked past. I knew he was talking about me because he pointed his finger.
"Your homeroom teacher will have your locker assignments, your locker keys, and some other things you need to know about our school. Welcome to junior high."
Welcome to junior high, indeed.

I followed the line of students to my new classroom. I found myself sitting in the middle row of the classroom, behind a girl with long black hair and a purple sweater, half-listening to the teacher call roll and talk about class assignments and school supplies and locker assignments. Before I knew it she had passed some papers along to me that my dad would need to sign and that I would need to read carefully.

I heard the door open. Coming through it was the blondest girl I'd ever seen. Her long silky hair fell in soft waves past her shoulders. She must have been one of those rich girls in the big houses on the other side of town. She just oozed cool.
"Name?" asked Mrs. Martin, peering through her glasses.
"Meredith Hopkins."
"Don't make being late a habit, Meredith."
Meredith flipped her blond hair back as she took the empty seat next to me. The way she looked at me, she looked like she could crush me like a bug.
I felt smaller than ever.
The girl in the purple sweater turned around again, and I looked at her. Unlike most of the other girls in the class, she had dark skin and huge brown eyes. "Meredith gets away with murder," she confided. "She's the most popular girl in the entire sixth grade."
I stole another look at Meredith, who was applying makeup with a mirror and flipped open her cell phone. Three other copycat girls immediately crowded around her. I felt a small pang of jealousy. Was this what junior high was going to be like for me?

I had trouble finding somewhere to sit for lunch, too. At my old school I just sat anywhere I wanted, but here, everyone had a certain table. It was weird. Then I heard a group of girls yelling my name. "Haley!" they shouted.
I turned around, and there was Meredith in the middle of the pack.
"Hey, Haley, did you catch the wrong bus?" she asked.
Added another girl, "Yeah, isn't St. Thomas Aquinas on the other side of town?"
"What wrong bus?" I wondered.

"Well, with the plaid skirt and all," said Meredith, tossing her blond head around, "I thought, you know, maybe -- maybe you were supposed to catch the bus there."
All the kids at the table burst out in laughter. Meanwhile, all I wanted to do was disappear.
The rest of the day seemed like a blur. I don't remember what classes I was in, or who was in them, or even how many stacks of papers my teachers gave me. All I know was I was glad when three o'clock came.