Life Hacks


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An Electrical engineer with spunk. Enjoys robotics, gardening, traveling abroad and books. Genuinely loves comedy and spectacle. Favorite author is Eoin Colfer and ridiculously excited for the Disney  [+]

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“There has been a colossal misunderstanding” Sasha threw her exasperated palms up as she shifted in her seat. Principle McLain peered over his reading glasses, holding Sasha’s transcript in one hand and a cup of black coffee in the other. “I see that you applied to enter to STARS program and were accepted. What is the issue?” The arm rests of the office chair cut into Sasha’s side like thorns. “That’s the thing, I thought I was applying for SSTARS, ‘Student Stagecraft for Theater Actors and Rising Stars” not STARS, Systems and technology through Artificial intelligence, Radio frequencies and Signals! I don’t even know what half of that stuff means! I’m actress in theater, not a member of geek squad.” Principle McLain took a long sip of his coffee, “I see.” He burrowed into his file cabinet, “Here’s the paperwork your teachers will need to sign before you can switch departments.” He stretched across his desk, handing her the papers. Hope swelled in Sasha’s chest, “Thank you very much!” Principle McLain poured himself another coffee and grunted, “Welcome” as Sasha skipped into the hall. Sasha rushed to her next class like a bee in a flower garden; the signatures she needed to switch to theater buzzed in her mind. Sasha flipped her long weave over her shoulder and her designer heels clicked on the floor like paparazzi cameras. Sasha’s sashay missed a half—step as she heard a snicker, “Who wears heels to high school?” Sasha spun around, hands at her hips, “Someone with class, which is more than I can say for you.” She glared down at a skinny girl in hoodie with burn holes. “What even are those ugly things?” She sneered and pointed at her thick glasses with green lenses. “Well princess, these here are welding glasses, which I use when I’m out in the shop fusing metal together. But go on, tell me about how your outfit is so great.” Sasha’s fists balled up as her words stumbled, “Well—these clothes are worth more than you could ever make. So there.” The girl sneered, “Hate to break it to you, but I’m in high school making eighteen an hour as a welder and I’m working to become an engineer who’ll make over a hundred—k a year. What do you even do? I bet you think you’re some Instagram model wannabe who thinks they’ll make it big someday.” Sasha huffed, “First off, I’m an actress and second, my Instagram modeling is doing just fine with my thousand followers, thank you very much.” The girl threw her head back, laughing, “I knew it!” she walked past Sasha and waved, “I’ll take a large fry with that big mac next time, air head.” Sasha’s face scorched red hot, “No That’s what I’ll be saying to you from my limo — when I’m on Tv you—you— you!” Sasha stammered. She blinked away incoming tears, “Don’t you dare cry” she hissed at herself, “That jerk is not worth messing up your mascara!” Sasha grit her teeth, then marched with purpose, determined to get her first signature so she could escape from this dumpster fire, called the engineering department, and switch back to where she belonged. This wasn’t the first time Sasha had been burned by her new classmates. All morning, she had endured wide—eyes gasps that she didn’t know what the Pythagorean theorem was or how to calculate the gravity acting on a box hanging from a string. Sasha didn’t care about algebra or physics, she wanted to go onstage, feel the lights hit her face and hear the audience’s applause as she finished a monologue. Sasha wanted more than anything to go back to where she fit in and no one mocked her for not being as smart as they thought she should be. All she had to do was get those signatures. Sasha pushed open the door to her electronics class with determination and announced loudly, “Hello, I’m looking for Mrs. Palmer.” A muffled voice came from behind the shelves packed with circuit boards, wire and sheet metal, “Just a minute!” Then a long awkward pause ensued. A very...very...long... uncomfortable... pause. Sasha shifted her weight from side to side, listening to the blood pumping in her ears. She turned her head and watched dust particles float in the single beam of sunlight emanating from a skylight in the ceiling. Not sure what to do while she waited, Sasha looked around for a chair to sit in, and her eyes fell on a weird shadow in a corner. Curious, Sasha stepped toward the figure slumped over and as she did, it morphed into silver metal and shiny white plastic. Sasha pulled it’s head up and came face to face with a humanoid robot. The sound of whirring motors powered up and a neon blue light sparked inside its dark eyes, blinking like a child waking up from a nap. Sasha gasped and stepped back in surprise as the robot sat up, its eyes locking onto her, and blue lights emanating from its arms and legs, “Hello, I am Pixel.” Sasha put her hand up to her mouth, “It talks! Just like in the movies!” A delighted chuckle came from behind her, “Yes he does.” Sasha turned to see Mrs. Palmer smiling in a white lab coat. “What else does he do?” Sasha asked. Mrs. Palmer looked embarrassed, “Unfortunately, that’s all he does at the moment. The robotics team I mentor has been trying to get him to walk but we’ve been having trouble.” Sasha turned back to Pixel who was struggling to stand up, “What’s wrong with his walking?” Mrs. Palmer pointed as Pixel stood, took a step and promptly fell flat on the ground, “He has no balance, so he keeps falling.” Sasha watched Pixel turn on his side and try to get back up again. Pixel took two steps before falling a second time. Sasha thought for a moment, “Why don’t you shift his foot forward?” Mrs. Palmer frowned, confused, “Excuse me?” Sasha insisted, “Shift his foot forward so his weight is in between his toes and the pads of his feet instead of on his heels.” Mrs. Palmer blinked then thoughtfully sat at a computer next to Pixel and typed up code. Pixel’s legs shook as his feet motors shifted, then stabilized. Pixel took a step, then another, and he kept on walking until he crashed into a wall. Mrs. Palmer shouted with excitement, “He walked! He actually walked!” Mrs. Palmer grinned from ear to ear, “How do you know that would work? Have you worked with robots before?” Sasha shook her head, “No, he just looked like me before I learned how to walk in heels correctly.” Mrs. Palmer laughed so hard it fogged her glasses and she had to take them off to wipe them with the bottom of her lab coat, “That’s fantastic! Are you here to join the robotics team?” Sasha shook her head, “No, I need your signature for a department transfer into theater.” Mrs. Palmer was dismayed “Are you sure? Your understanding of robotics is useful.” Sasha declared, “I don’t know anything about robots, just how to walk in heels.” Mrs. Palmer waved her hand, “Learn to code later. We desperately need your innate understanding of mechanical movement. Are you sure you won’t stay after school today to see what we do on this robotics team?” Sasha’s mouth gaped like fish on land, “Um...I don’t know.” With pursed lips, Mrs. Palmer took out a pen, “Tell you what, I’ll go ahead and sign this form, and you can decide if you want to come or turn it in” she scribbled her name and handed it back to Sasha, who was taken aback, “Oh, ok. Sure.” The papers drooped down at Sasha’s side as she walked out, her head spinning. She was once step closer to being able to go back to theater, and she should have been ecstatic. Instead, she was in a daze. Mrs. Palmer wanted Sasha to join the robotics team? Her? No one had ever been that excited for her to join, even in theater. She had been excited to play roles in school plays, but no one else had been genuinely excited about her being a part of something. It felt good. Sasha looked back at the electronics lab. Sasha thought about Pixel, the robot, and ideas started popping into her head. Could she be good at robotics like Mrs. Palmer said? Sasha’s legs moved before her brain could think, back to the electronics class. “What time was that robotics meeting again?”
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Image of JEN .
JEN . · ago
Wow, I thoroughly enjoyed this! The character dynamics and development as well as the imagery and descriptive language (such as the comparison of the clicking of Sasha's heels to that of paparazzi cameras-- wow!) really enhanced the story!
Image of Donna Stone
Donna Stone · ago
Beautiful story, Victoria. So vivid. Really captured your thought process which I feel so familiar with.
Image of Victoria LaBarre
Victoria LaBarre · ago
Thank you so much! I'm very happy you read it 😁 it's been a while since I've written anything so I'm glad I wasnt too rusty and still got my message across
Image of Jennifer Tobin
Jennifer Tobin · ago
Great story! Thank you for sharing it with me!
Image of Victoria LaBarre
Victoria LaBarre · ago
Thank you for reading!
Image of Melanie Sattler
Melanie Sattler · ago
I love the story! I think more people would like engineering if they gave it a chance, like Sasha. Also, we get better engineering with different people from diverse backgrounds, and this story illustrates that.
Image of Victoria LaBarre
Victoria LaBarre · ago
Thank you! That's exactly how I feel and what I was trying to convey! I'm very happy you enjoyed it!
Image of Michele Baldridge
Michele Baldridge · ago
I didn’t know you could write! That is very good!
Image of Victoria LaBarre
Victoria LaBarre · ago
Thank you! If you like it please vote for me!
Image of Chasidah Fried
Chasidah Fried · ago
I liked the way the character developed and the currency of the topic as well as the realism with which high school was depicted .
I still want to win this competition but your work was worth 3 votes to me.

Image of Victoria LaBarre
Victoria LaBarre · ago
Wow! Thank you so much! It really means a lot to me that a competitor would vote for me at all, let alone 3 votes! :D I still hope I win, but I will be satisfied with the results if I end up loosing to you. Good luck!
Image of Chasidah Fried
Chasidah Fried · ago
No, don't be satisfied! get out there and share your story! I do not have Facebook, Instagram or anything like that I only have linked in and e-mail and I encourage you to share your story. It is hard because people are reluctant to sign in and vote so you have to share your story and hope they spend the time to sign in. Best of luck to you.
Image of Victoria LaBarre
Victoria LaBarre · ago
Thanks for the suggestion! I'll do that
Image of Chasidah Fried
Image of Adib Chowdhury
Adib Chowdhury · ago
Great short story! Enjoyable read :)