Last weekend, I was sitting on an unmade bed in a hotel room and scrolling down my 165 pages novel draft. In our English class, all honors students are required to do an Independent Writing Project. While it might be a pain in the ass for others to write two hours per week after school, it has never inconvenienced me. I write for two hours every day if time allows.

My IWP project was the YA novel I finished during NaNoWriMo and rewrote without a revision outline. I typed the last word with a smile on my face and a feeling that I won’t come back.

When I go to college, I probably won’t read YA novels as much. Not because my taste becomes more “advanced”. My to-read list is just too long (it has 56 books already!) and there are so much in the world that I want to explore. I want to live the life of people who are so different from me that I shout with delight, “I didn’t know a person could think like that!” They might be at a drastically different age, live on the other side of the world (or a different world!), and/or come from a different culture. And I want to read more literary books and non-fiction. 

That’s how I feel about my novel. During the teenage years, a writer grows immensely, and the improvement is even more tangible for a non-native speaker. I am amazed at how much I’ve grown every time I read something that I wrote two months ago. 

Counting Clouds was a fantastic project—it was right what I needed. I started writing it when I fully accept my sexuality, when I question about religion and love, when I finally let go of the feeling of abandonment. And when I miss the elephant (whom I still couldn’t bring myself to call a stuffed animal) I lost years ago but still couldn’t get over, because the countless days and nights when my parents are “too busy”, she stayed by my side and listened and comforted me. 

Carmen Kessler was so different from me, yet we experienced growing pains and confusions together. We bonded over of our passion for writing and chatted from the warm summer liveliness to the chilly fall tranquility. I have amazing friends now and no longer seek companion from fictional characters, but Carmen and I shared a special relationship that I always hold dear to my heart. 

But now, it’s time to say goodbye.

Farewell, Carmen Kessler. May your future be clear and bright. May you get into your dream college. May your young love with Leela lasts forever. May you stay lifelong friends with Joanne and Dylan.

So, Dr. H, is it too late to change my IWP project?

My First Car Crush

The day after Christmas, I walked out of the spa with an asymmetrical bob, ready to start a new year. The weather was a little chilly, but the sun was shining. I waved to three older ladies parked on my left, and they waved back and smiled warmly. I put my car in reserve and started pulling out a couple inches away from the wall. I was pretty close to a silver truck in front of me, but I didn’t give it a second thought. My car has a pretty short front. The first few times seeing your car being so close to another was nerve-cracking, but it became nothing after a while.

And then, crash. 

My first thought was that I can’t believe the three sweet ladies are witnessing this. I hoped they’re okay. I hoped they aren’t scared by it. My second thought was: drive away. No one would notice. I looked back and double-checked there was no damage on the back of the truck. Trucks are strong, they should be okay.

Google says that an average person gets into three car accidents in their life. Hitting a parked car probably doesn’t even count. Of course getting into an accident is always a possibility no matter how careful you are, but I never thought it would happen to me. Or at least, not this early.

I’m seventeen and I got into my first car crash. 

I remained ridiculously calm for the rest of the afternoon. I even went back to the library and finished a YA novel about college rejection (We Regret to Inform You). I seriously considered not telling anyone, which was totally what I would do a year ago. But in the end, I decided to talk to my host family, because we have a foundation of trust and I don’t want to hide anything from them. Also, one year away from being an adult, I should take responsibility for my own action.

But things only get worse. 

When I came home from working out the next day, I couldn’t open my passenger door. As unobservant as I was, I didn’t realize that there was a crack on my car front until then. Because we planned to meet someone for lunch, I got into the shower and started panicking. What should I do? I regret not leaving a phone number on their car. What if there is some damage done on the truck and I just missed it? 

After telling my host parents, they called the hair salon and asked if they heard anything about it. They promised they will tell us if they anything new arises. I wouldn’t want the other car owner to pay for any damage to their car. My host dad told me that it probably costs a couple thousand dollars to fix my car. 

But I’m glad I handled the situation maturely (and didn’t have an anxiety attack). The other day I was texting my friend and she said she was proud of me for doing the cool adult thing because so many people would just pretend that it doesn’t happen and not pay the other car owner’s repair bill.

Of course, I hope this never happened, but any incident can be a potential a life lesson. I’m grateful that it happened when I’m seventeen instead of twenty-one because this experience would be so much scarier if I’m doing this alone. 

Thank you for reading this post! I hope what happened to me won’t ever happen to you guys. Have you ever been in a car accident?