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Start Over

I’m sure most people would just call it a mid-life crisis, but I’d like to think that it’s a little more important than that.  Besides, I did what most sane, rational people would only read about in a chick-lit novel (which makes it sound a little pathetic, but I’m trying to get over that).  I left my job, my house, and a lot of important people – one in particular.  I sure hope it was worth it.  Last night, a good friend jokingly reminded me of my age (it’s okay, he’s the same age as me)… but it made me consider the possibility that I should have done what most people would have done in my situation:  Suck it up and get some happy pills.

What is “The Chrome Phase?”  In 2001, I moved into a dark, drafty, run-down apartment in the first floor of an old house that was, I’m pretty sure, held together with bubble gum and duct tape.  The rent was unrealistically cheap, so it was appealing for that reason if nothing else.  In a desperate attempt to spruce up the kitchen (which hadn’t been updated since the 60s), I bought everything in chrome:  dish drainer, paper towel holder, spice rack, wine rack, and so forth.  I went a tad overboard with the chrome, but it helped.  In fact, it looked pretty sharp against the red formica countertops.   I loved how just a little chrome accent could make even the ugliest of kitchens look… well, less ugly.

Anyway, the details that brought me to this “starting over” point are unimportant; Instead, I’m trying to focus on where to go from here.  My sudden attempts to spruce up my own life remind me of my chrome phase… although my life isn’t perfect, why don’t I add some chrome accents (figuratively speaking, of course) and make it better?  In my opinion, you can never have too much chrome.


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Part 1: College Submission

Alice stepped onto the dock in the backyard where her daughter sat, feet dangling into the creek.
“Maddie, help me with dinner, please.”
“But I need supplies for my presentation board.”
Alice inhaled tightly. “It’s almost curfew, Madison. Why didn’t you remind me earlier?”
“It’s just stuff from Target. I can go myself.”
“No. Write down what you need. I’ll go right now.”
“Seriously, mom, it’s okay. I’m 18. I can sign.”
Alice was firm. “Inside now, please, and make a shopping list.”
Madison rolled her eyes, but obeyed. Arguing was futile.
Alice grabbed Madison’s list in one hand, purse in the other. No use getting frustrated. College applications were treacherous; the private schools made it nearly impossible. If Madison’s project didn’t astonish the enrollment board at Elmwood, her acceptance could be revoked and she’d end up at State.
State was a good school, but it didn’t have the budget for security. Outside the ivies (which no longer accepted applications from non-legacy candidates), Elmwood…

Part 2: Campus Tour

Alice looked impatiently at her watch. Five more minutes until her daughter Madison and the other four candidates would present their high school theses to the Elmwood University enrollment board. 
“Shouldn’t we head to the lecture hall?” Alice asked the tour guide. She didn’t want to miss Maddie’s presentation, a discussion about the Constitution. "The Bill of Negative Rights", she called it.
“Oh, that’s a closed event, ma’am. We’ll finish up the tour in time for you all to retrieve your students.” The tour guide didn’t even pause before continuing. “Next we are going to walk through the residential quad. Naturally, we will not be going inside any of the residence or dining halls for security reasons.”
“Are the dorms co-ed?” asked a parent.
“No, they’re all gender-segregated. Each entrance is equipped with a fingerprint reader and laser counter to ensure only authorized residents have access.”
Well, that’s overkill, thought Alice. What fun is college if you can’t sneak boys into…

Part 3: Life After Curfew

“Do I need to bring TP?” Madison whispered into her phone to her best friend, Grace.
“Nope! We’re stealing it from the school bathrooms,” replied Grace. “Hurry up and get down here!”
Madison slid open her bedroom window and climbed down the leafy trellis to the bushes below.
“Welcome to life after curfew!” Grace said in a loud whisper.
“Shh!” Madison reacted, scanning the darkness. “Don’t get us in trouble before we’ve even left the yard!”
“Relax, Maddie, there is NOBODY out here. Not even Curfew Officers. It’s been hours since twilight. Come on!”
Grace led Madison through a labyrinth of yards, avoiding streetlights. It took a few minutes for Madison’s eyes to adjust and notice that Grace was toting not one, but two rifles.
“Is the extra one for me?” Madison asked sarcastically.
“Maddie, I know you don’t have a rifle, and I know you think you’re making some big statement by not getting one because you’re the one who told everyone they should get one, and now you think that the entire country …