I asked my students to draw monsters. Only one of them gave me nightmares.

by reddit user BORN-IN-2002

I’m a 2nd grade substitute teacher, and I like my job very much, though I’m hoping to work on child psychology research in the future. Because of that, I like to give the kids assignments that will allow me to have a glimpse into their minds, on how they interpret the world and how much they understand of everything.

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I’m With You – Avril Lavigne, 2002
I thought that you’d be here by now.

This never grew the way “Complicated” did. “Complicated” split its head on the roof as it shattered toward the sky and its seeds fell everywhere, breaking into song. Instead, “I’m With You” swelled sideways and very slowly out came a river of daisies and morning musk, things that smelled of adulthood but could be written about vaguely and easily. There’s nothing but the rain, no footsteps on the ground. I’m listening but there’s no sound.

The most touching parts of Let Go come when Avril allows herself to sound plaintive, or angry, or stupid and does so without fear. It’s a very particular voice and nearly impossible to affect. This was what its critics mainly took issue with, calling her voice strong but her words weak, but Let Go would have sounded strange and meaningless fed through the throat of a grown-up. The fears and thoughts of grown-ups are not the same as the fears and thoughts of children: they grow and turn into thicker branches, they are sturdier in the wind. Children are seized by weird frenzies of fixation. Everything terrifies them or sends them into raptures. It’s hard to remember these moments once they are gone but they do reappear sometimes, crinkling our grown-up carpets, spiking our grown-up tea. We are a plank’s length from hysteria at any given moment: not in danger yet, but near enough.

The best parts of Let Go — the cleverest, the funniest, the most moving — come when Avril struggles to conjecture a future with a seriousness equal to her present. She treats the story she is living with the solemnity of a monk transcribing verses, running her fingers over every Canadian sunset she’s ever seen, every thought she’s ever had. If it feels silly to write about Avril Lavigne in this way — and it does — it’s because we usually talk about our younger selves dismissively; we’re embarrassed by it all, by how much or how little we did and how much more we felt. If it feels silly to say that “I’m With You” is a future imagined by a child trying on the dreams and slang of adulthood like she’s putting on her mother’s shoes — and it does — it’s because songs like “I’m With You” are meant to be remembered, not lived.

Avril Lavigne is not in love with a boy in the world of Let Go. She is approaching the thought of what love might be but it is not yet as vivid as everything else she knows, which is her shitty job and these loser guys she sometimes dates because she thinks it’ll be fun and her friends who make her laugh and the tendril-like boredom of the small town where she lives which could inspire novels or lethargy in someone else but not her, because in her it inspires things like revulsion and despair and the soaring hope of “I’m With You” which is not the strongest song on the album but, with the exception of “Naked”, probably the most earnest, soaked in images of small town life that are as barren and shockingly lonely as the first inklings of personhood that overtake us at night. It is a love song, but to a future that seems impossible because it hasn’t happened yet. One of the great unifiers of life is that everyone, to some degree, believes they are alone. As we get older, we fundamentally understand that this is both true and not; we are alone in our experiences because of who we are but we are together in our aloneness, in the lovely shared belief that we are alone. A kid has no grasp on this duality. Nor should they because in many ways their aloneness is not comparable to ours: the space between them and adults is too wide for anyone to cross with anything other than the rusted bridge of memory and they spend their days among like-bodied creatures who are wicked and feral and thoughtful and who fling themselves willingly into chaos.

“I’m With You” is a beautiful song. It’s sung by a teenage girl, which means it’s like a thorn in the tongue to write the word beautiful but it is, it’s like a car ride along the beach at night with your best friends, which is a very young adult novel thing to write but it’s important not to discredit images like that, to understand that there are many kinds of car rides contained in that phrase and many different nights. It’s a monstrously tender song (and no one likes to be alone, she finishes the verse, filling it with those many nights and rides) and it is layered with a confusion that the song seeks to comfort but never quite does. Childhood feels like a held breath, a readying. Avril imagines what comes next, calls it home, a place. Sung softer, put away in a delicate drawer, it could have been a crooner, all falsetto and gentle despair, but Avril is many things and quiet is not one of them, and she turns damn cold night into a long wounded howl. That’s what people liked, I think: its unabashed muchness. How when she runs out of words, she screams over and over, yeah yeah yeah, to hear the way her voice grows, just to prove that she’s here. The Avril scream: yeah, I felt it all. The sound and silence of waiting, of preparing, of believing that life is not a thing presently occurring but soon to come, that it will come in a form that is not school or deceitful friends you can’t stop loving or the repetition of your days, to fear this and feel that you are losing who you are, whoever that may be, whoever that will turn out to be. To fervently want that life. Don’t know who you are, but I.

EXO Relay Chatting Event Encore - SUHO
  1. Everyone, I’m quite late to this
  2. I uploaded a notice out of blue
  3. You must be surprised right?
  4. kk Of course I wrote it myself by using Hangeul 2002
  5. I wrote it all myself
  6. Because I want to chat with all of you
  7. This chatting event is organised upon my personal request
  8. I am late to this
  9. I should be the one to start this chatting though…
  10. Hu…
  11. Hahaha
  12. Let’s enjoy this chatting session
  13. Baekhyun ate his toast while talking about burping
  14. @ Have to go to Busan!
  15. @ Baby don’t cry~~ DuDumChitdumChi
  16. @ You have to go to school. After going to school then come to Busan hehe
  17. @ Baby Level…
  18. @ Hello Taiwan fans!!!
  19. @ Hi, Yong Yeon-nim
  20. @ I will do this for one hour
  21. @ After burning fats then you can remove it
  22. @ Is Junhee doing well… Why does she migrate
  23. @ Inherited ^^
  24. @ Hun-ee
  25. @ I’m wearing glasses
  26. @ Today was supposed to be like a battle and I was supposed to start this.. but it was canceled..
  27. @ Those which are half-cooked ones
  28. @ If I didn’t become a singer, then I will become a gagman at 25
  29. @ MulHwe (물회) (Note: A Korean food)
  30. @ Did you watch it kk Guitarman kkkkkkkk
  31. @ I wear both top and bottom to sleep (Note: He used the lyrics from EXID’s Up and Down)
  32. @ ‘Promise’ is a very touching song
  33. @ What?
  34. @ Ha… Seup… Ha…
  35. @ I can see well, very much
  36. @ When I am too tired, I sleep like that without knowing
  37. @ kkkk Many of those. Please be anticipated
  38. @ kkk I didn’t feel on the verge of crying yet
  39. @ Back then, there wasn’t Taemyeong.. Myeommooreuk (Note: Myeonmooreuk means Myeonnie is sad)
  40. @ I didn’t clean that up
  41. @ Hi
  42. @ kkkk what kind of ‘dried-squid’ question is this? kk
  43. @ I’m working very hard now
  44. @ I close my eyes before I sleep
  45. @ As for today dinner, I need to ask my mum…
  46. @ I will assume that mine is prettier
  47. @ Myself in the mirror
  48. @ What?
  49. @ kkkk I will try writing it once
  50. @ Me too, thanks for being EXO-L TT
  51. @ O-Level Student, Fighting!!
  52. @ Weird.. Weird.. Weird..
  53. @ You’re my friend! (Note: As in they are same age)
  54. @ Society Culture is the easiest subject
  55. @ If you don’t talk much, then your words are precious
  56. @ I don’t usually play games TTTT
  57. @ Beef is the best
  58. @ Side bangs
  59. @ You’re correct
  60. @ I also can’t contact him, this bastard
  61. @ I was so young so I can’t recall
  62. @ The greatest person in my family
  63. Happiness as always
  64. @ Why you can’t see?
  65. @ I was so excited
  66. @ Are you bugaboo?
  67. @ I can see
  68. @ Hello Nice to meet you and you? (In English)
  69. @ Force!!!!!!!!!!! Ouakkkk!!!!!
  70. @ It’s so so
  71. @ It was canceled
  72. @ After I finished shower kkk
  73. (Q: Who workouts the most?) Suho, Xiumin, Baekhyun and Sehun
  74. @ It’s possible on the day after tomorrow
  75. @ Hukkk
  76. @ You mean you watched it for 30,000 times?
  77. @ EXO-L is you
  78. @ Please watch it for 10,000 times
  79. @ kkkk Kkangchongkkangchong Kkangchongi
  80. @ T-t-thank you….
  81. @ World Won currency
  82. @ I lost your heart
  83. @ I tear up for Red Velvet’s Happiness (Note: Just… get his puns lmao)
  84. @ Pink boy.. kkk It’s like some ice cream name
  85. First time I hit the drip
  86. I should have learnt Judo kkk
  87. It’s too late for me
  88. I just do it comfortably
  89. Anyways Suho is always the best!!!!!!!!!!!!
  90. @ Today is like 1:1 chatting
  91. Hu
  92. Yehu
  93. @ I did it quite often
  94. @ kkkk Yehuu
  95. It’s rampant when there’s so many drips
  96. @ Junhee is not here (Note: Junhee is his girl name ever since he dressed up as a girl that time)
  97. @ Ohho
  98. @ Follow the age order kk
  99. @ No, I was told that I will be joining Unpretty Rapstar Season 27
  100. @ I like energy drink (In English)
  101. @ I used to say that I don’t care about my hairstyle back then
  102. @ No, cannot
  103. @ I can see
  104. @ What is Number 112…
  105. @ SoMaek! (Note: Beef+Beer)
  106. @ Donggodo donggodo Two thousand ggoddo
  107. @ Okay, Chicago
  108. @ Cyndaquil
  109. @ hdd…
  110. @ Should do it more seriously
  111. @ Okay, I got it
  112. @ I want take up villain role like the veteran villain actor, Yoo Ah In
  113. @ Guitarman was Jongdae?
  114. @ Me.. I’m good at all these
  115. @ Stupid(?) kkkkkkkkk
  116. (Q: To be honest, who is the member that the members don’t want to share room with?) I think all of them will choose Suho
  117. @ I will say that I like robots
  118. @ I can do it very well [Note: He said it in Japanese(Sugoyi)]
  119. @ Ayy Always struggling
  120. @ Hanbi-nagaki
  121. @ The rose in The Little Prince
  122. (Q: Do you like horror movies?) I will never watch it
  123. @ I want to watch Antman…
  124. @ I’m changing season..
  125. @ I watch it a lot to learn more things
  126. @ Yes o—o
  127. @ Those days were great
  128. @ Overdose
  129. I am very worried about all of your fingers
  130. kkkkkkk
  131. It’s compulsory, compulsoryyy
  132. @ Don’t get hurt
  133. (Q: Please do some old uncle gag) Since I’m not married yet, so I can’t do those kind of gag…
  134. @ Do well in your exam! Don’t just depend on energy drink
  135. (Q: Ah Sprite! Please shower with me using Sprite!) @ It sounds sticky
  136. @ High School Su1 Prep
  137. @ Jjamjjamyeon
  138. (Q: Did you watch Heart Beat India with the members? It was so fun to watch) The members didn’t watch it.. Myeonmooreuk..
  139. @ I like the tail
  140. @ To construct a three-line poem, it’s depend on the feel at that moment
  141. @ I begin eating the main body first kkk
  142. @ Americano
  143. @ Me too
  144. @ Please come to Korea!
  145. @ I was talking with Kyungsoo that I want to go one of the park in New York, and I said Linkin Park instead
  146. @ I like dialects very much
  147. (Q: I look like Ms. Weirdo(Yisanghae), please give me a nickname) Weirdo Janggyuri
  148. The time is ending soon
  149. So it’s time to call each of your name kkk
  150. /Calling the names one by one/
  151. To those who ask me to call your name twice, boogers
  152. Today I’m not on my right mind, I might really call twice kk
  153. Today’s chatting has so many messages came in, it’s like some instant food (Note: He spelt Messages > msg (in English)
  154. Thanks for becoming EXO-L
  155. Today I lost to all of you
  156. huhu
  157. Even so, let’s do this next time again
  158. Thank you for becoming EXO-L
  159. I love you
  160. Because it’s 1:1, so let’s do this again next time
  161. We are one, EXO, Let’s Love
  162. I’ll accumulate more experience
  163. Everyone, please be healthy
  164. gg (In English)

PS: Those which start with @ are his answers to certain user | Translation cr. to ludeerbambi


My World – Avril Lavigne, 2002
I never spend less than an hour washing my hair in the shower. 

Napanee is a town in Ontario, which is a province in Canada, which is a country floating in the great spherical mass of jellied delight we call home. I’ve been to Canada once; it was a field trip to Montreal in seventh grade. I remember our bus took a wrong turn and we went rattling through the red light district and our teacher stretched her limbs across a small patch of the window while we shrieked at the idea that something that wasn’t supposed to happen was happening to us.

Avril Lavigne’s family moved to Napanee when she was five years old and Wikipedia tells me she didn’t leave it for good until she was eighteen. By that age childhood is still fresh in your mind but you’re just so eager to get away – to go to college, to write your first album, you know, whatever. But they’re unshakeable, those strange and salient memories. They don’t so much transform into the experiences of adulthood as bag you down like jewels, precious even though they’re still stones. But I like to believe that things don’t change too much from coast to coast. She was beating up boys and dipping her greasy arms in the sink of someone else’s kitchen like the balm of a Kentucky breeze; I was hiding in the bathroom during gym class and pretending to practice the piano after school. We had the same dreams.

“My World” is written the way you write about childhood as you’re in it, as opposed to the way you write about it when you’re finally out. She brags about her difference without a lick of shame — never wore cover-up — and cops to the beautiful grooves of her own self with astonishment — in this head my thoughts are deep / sometimes I can’t even speak — in a way that unmasks the parts of a self that are coming clear, that are already known, the wide and wicked parts she believes will never change. Kids believe that the world around them is the only one; I know I did. The problem of existing within that world is one Avril tackles again and again, a struggle she’ll never grow tired of, an almost-prayer to the wonderful wretchedness of what it means to be young. When I was twelve, the line that hit me like a sugar drink was So I’ll braid it in a zillion braids / though it may take all friggin’ day. Graceless, bossy, and with a word that passed for a swear back then; I remember trying out cursing for the first time, and mumbling the word whore over and over again waiting on line for the bathroom with a girl in my grade who never washed her hair, feeling the way it tasted like junk food, like something we weren’t supposed to have but that no one kept from us. There’s no real reason for it to be friggin’ day instead of merely day, zillion instead of maybe ten; no real reason beyond the sudden explosions that come without warning from the mouth of a teenage girl. You know, boys get boners in science class and we get the full-throated rollicking FUCK YOU BITCH! in a parking lot. Destiny comes for everyone and all that. I picture her braiding her own hair, poorly and vengefully rather than letting a friend do it for her. She needs a zillion braids to pass the afternoon, one for each crazed heartbeat. Town empties out in a midday pool. It takes all friggin’ day.

Small towns feel like suffocation, even when there’s somewhere else to go. You carry their narrow little streets with you, feel the breeze that comes every summer sticking to your shoes like gum that somehow turned up burnt. The way we talk to each other is punctuated by a kind of hellish exasperation — Please tell me what is taking place / ‘cause I can’t seem to find a trace — and although much of life is repetition, never is it so keenly felt as here. There are only three states of being that exist: the pool, your bedroom, and the mall. You see the same people every day, learn their arms and words. Seething together in the vat of childhood, your crumbs of discovery are things like an attic crowded with aimless bodies on the weekend, the passenger seat of a car that has only known and loved one route, the one boy at school who isn’t interested in sports and likes music you’ve never heard of so he becomes a way you force adulthood upon yourself, peeking into the depth and madness of that desire so when you finally leave you’ll know you did more than wear hoodies and drink soda, you’ll be a real person the way they must be in the country or the city. I remember we crept into a drainpipe once to get high. After school — this was senior year, much later, but the feelings never lessened — my best friend would drive us to the parking lot behind the playground near my house and we would sit in the car side by side, listening to the radio and talking about boys, the most stunted state of being imaginable but one that fizzed with the impossible love we harbored in our lanky bodies for the town that would not let us go. 

I loved “My World” when I was twelve, before I had an idea what any of this would come to mean. I loved easy guitars that sounded like hills I had never seen; I loved the way my ugly life turned into something beautiful when I tried to write it, the way Avril suddenly bursts into the aching surprise of Where do I belong forever? In whose arms, the time and place? These were the feelings I carried with me when I finally came home, turned off my light, crept into bed, how I knew every inch of my wall and the yards around me and the classrooms where I dug up my heartbeats, where even in the little life I’d lived I could sense the importance of things, if not real at least perceived, the longing to grow and the yearning to stay put. It made sense to me, the way a list of small and staged realities would suddenly give way to the blossoming strands of When you’re all alone in the lands of forever and fall back just as quickly, that a moment of piercing clarity could come from thoughts that meant nothing at all. I had moments in college, years later, when I felt that way, or near enough: leaping across the soccer field in the rain, or lying in the grass with a girl I loved before I knew I loved her, when the sun was bright or maybe the stars and the weight of the trees was almost too much and seemed to cover our skin with certainty. The possibility of leaving, imagined for all those years then finally true, felt right. A train station I’d been meant for all my life. I remembered those separate nights when I was young, when I had a different bedroom and a different heart. It was rarely the case, but there were some nights when I would find myself in a car full of friends or pumping myself full of lemonade in the park and I would think, with unshakeable joy and sureness, I’m not in love this time, this night, and be glad of it.


Things I’ll Never Say – Avril Lavigne, 2002
I know it shows.

Imagine this, then: the introduction of desire into a world previously simmering on the stoop. We spend all our days as kids readying for the holy to-come around the corner, and we don’t know what it is so we decide it must be love. Love, in those days, really being sex: the strange and wild hysteria that capitalizes our thoughts, makes one body sharper than the rest. It is unknown and therefore important. Now we carry it like a shell, our backpack of discontent. But back then it was something else, a real monster of a feeling, a thing that made us feel maddened and breakable, that passed through our new heads a thread of vicious thoughts, and then for the first time we craved attention from a body that was unlike our own, a touch that would make us recognize our otherness, a kiss that would solidify our earthquake in the world. You want a lock for your door, a place to go after school, hair thin enough to throw over your shoulders when you dance, but want isn’t strong enough a word for what comes out of you in the hazy afternoons of seeing, really seeing, for the first time, another body beside your own. What a recognition it is, this catastrophe of yearning.

Conjecture is an important part of being young, the gift of imagining what comes next. There’s so much of it, the wilds of the roads we might take. At seventeen, “Things I’ll Never Say” is all conjecture: not just lived make-believe — will he hurt me? I hope he hurts me; I want to write a song — but the peculiar and particular fantasies of pain that only visit children. Imagining both a world where she drips with solitude — how crucial to being young, the belief that you are alone and will always be — and one where togetherness would rob her of her ineffable aloneness make statements like guess I’m wishing my life away sound forced, unmovable, as if one could be in love or an artist but not both.

The first guy I ever dated was sixteen when I was fourteen, which isn’t really a big deal — what, you think he knows different kinds of math? you think that matters when my heart’s shaped like this? — but I made it one, cupped my hands around the secret of the thought and made it a golden book written just for me, a litany of what sounded like grown-up voices, a reading I did again and again. It would sometimes catch me on the street and shake me till I felt starlit or stop me in my tracks in the hallways at school and I would feel my whole body rent with the pleasure and terror of the idea that my skin could strike someone else as strong as it struck me. The things that had happened to me before seemed to take on new meaning: a bee sting in kindergarten, how my teacher carried me across the lawn to take my photograph, my mother knocking on my door in the afternoon as if I had suddenly become a thing she was uncertain of. Everything seemed brighter, heavier, paused in the glow of an extraordinary river. I didn’t know a single word but I knew that I was afraid. This was stronger than the final song of a school dance but carried the same scent, the same wildflower wind, the urgency of an elsewhere. We said I love you without really knowing what it meant. Back then it meant the things we were sure we understood, the sight of someone you knew across a field, a movie theatre, fumbling with our school uniforms in the garden, the gluttonous frequency of AIM. I would call him and say nothing and then listen to this song. I had the idea, without having been told at all, that there was a body I could slip into that would still be mine but had noticeable differences; I couldn’t name what they were but I knew I would feel them like a kind of truth when I understood the way I had to bend my limbs. As if there could be an angle to your arm that would make someone love you. As if you could be fourteen and know what that kind of love is at all, beyond the endless howl filling you up, the first note of a song that will stretch out in front of you for years like a quilted road.

It felt very grown-up to be afraid. I cherished it. I thought I must have been afraid of grown-up things: death! divorce! Not having known it yet, I pictured heartbreak as a woman wrapped in robes who could not eat. I wanted that, to be let in on the secret of despair that made you who you were. I kept waiting and waiting. It finally came after seven months, only four of which had been spent with any kind of appreciation for the loveliness of kissing someone when you’re fourteen that never comes again, when our schools on opposite ends of the island we were growing up on, teeming with strangers, wrapped their ghoulish arms around us and ripped us apart, to put us back where we belonged. This story is ridiculous. I’m twenty-four and I don’t even use AIM anymore. But it felt like something then, before I had lived anything else; and it felt like something so it must have been something, too.

Avril is kinder about it but she knows, too. The verses are buzzing with the broadness of schoolyard talk — So why can’t I just tell you that I care? — and, I do remember this, I thought the chorus sounded like she was asking to go down on him, a detail so stupidly emblematic of what is important to a fourteen-year-old that I want to pretend I never thought it but I did and it hints at the rest of that realness too, the forceful comedy of growing old, the tenderness falling away beneath all that new and rough desire. What’s most important is her resignation. Oh, I think about it now and my heart just bursts. Guess I’m wishing my life away / with these things I’ll never say. It was so long ago. I almost remember.