When I was seven, my brother peed on my head. I think that’s where we should start.

From this tragic urinary experience, I learned

1) not to make my brother laugh too hard while I’m under the bed, trying to get him unstuck from between the headboard and the mattress,

2) when you tell your father this happened to you, pee running down your face along with your tears, he will laugh

3) not to trust people.

Most importantly, however, I learned that

4) life is not always perfect, easy, or smells nice.

When I was nine, I climbed onto the outside of an escalator. (You know how there’s that sliver of platform on the other side of the stair part? That ledge that you’re definitely not supposed to climb onto, let alone grab the sliding railing and let it start taking you up up up while hanging on for dear life? Yeah, that’s where nine-year-old Kaley went.) Anyway, my mom, who was on crutches at the time, was standing far below me screaming at the top of her lungs. Important sidenote: this was during Christmas time, which meant that not only was my mom screaming, but so were twenty children, their parents, four elves, two security guards, and Santa Claus.

So anyway I’m chillin on up the escalator and headed towards the top, where inevitably, I was going to hit the wall and fall to my death. At the last minute, a woman on the escalator grabbed me and pulled over to the other side and calmly walked down and handed me to my mother.

When I was eleven, I wrote about this story in an essay for my 5th grade teacher. She was obsessed with it. She showed it to the class and to her coworkers and told me that I knew how to tell a good story.

What I learned here:

1) DO NOT CLIMB ON ESCALATORS SERIOUSLY,

2) Santa Claus screams like a demon

3) I really enjoy story telling and sometimes, people also enjoy that I tell them.

4) I wanted to tell stories for the rest of my life. This is when I decided that I wanted to write things, whether that was books or newspaper articles or anything really.

Lastly.

When I was 13, the city decided to build a subdivision on the other side of the woods I lived by. In order to do this, they cut a path through the trees by my house and created a gravel road that ran about a mile through to the construction.

My neighbors and I did not like this. We had recently seen the movie Hoot and were inspired; we were going to take matters into our own hands. We named ourselves “The Oak Hill Savages” after the road we lived on and came up with a plan.

Every day, we would climb the chain link fence between us and the evil road and set out. I was in charge of the attack. We pulled giant logs and branches from the woods onto the path, creating giant barricades so the bulldozers and other machines couldn’t get through. I sacrificed one of my Babries and ripped the head off of it, placing it in the door handle of the dozer where I thought it would scare the workers. My brother peed on one of the wheels (this is when his urinating problem worked to my advantage), we took the shovels and threw them in poison ivy, and we rubbed mud on the windshields and windows saying “this is our woods!”

Yeah, we might have been little overly enthusiastic.

So. You might have guessed that our efforts did not work. Our parents were notified and we got in a good amount of trouble. The construction was completed and there are now four beautiful subdivisions next to us. The gravel road is still there, but each year, more plants grow back over it. The gravel has been mostly replaced with dandelions, grass, small trees forcing their way back into the earth. They haven’t come back to do any further developments and, even though I know it’s probably not true, I like to think they’re at least a little wary of messing with the Oak Hill Savages.

So again, I learned some important things from this experience.

1) Don’t pee on things, that’s just rude (should have learned this before but you know).

2) Even if you don’t think you succeeded at first, you may have started something that has a larger impact that you think. And even if that isn’t true, don’t give up, because…

3) If you believe in something, you should do something about it. Even if you don’t think you’ll succeed, even if you’re the minority, even if it’s just you and a ragtag group of kids who want to believe they can change the world, DO IT ANYWAY.

Because at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all are? Just a bunch of people trying to fight for what we believe in? But when we band together, sometimes we can do something about it. And sometimes, it only takes one person to start that fight.

So whatever it is your passionate about, whether it’s music, teaching, sports, animals, social issues, politics, freaking goat herding or something, GO FOR IT. Someone might spit on your efforts, knocking down all of the logs and sticks you gathered and plow ahead anyway, but just build it again.

Because nothing good in this world ever came out of someone saying “Well I can’t do that.” Because you can.

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