Weird Academy – Chapter 1

Thank you for reading my work in progress, Weird Academy. This chapter is FREE to read. I am always open to feedback and comments. To find out more about me and my work, please check out my patreon at www.patreon.com/ipiluni.

Work in Progress: Weird Academy – Chapter 1
Written: by Evan Ipiluni

© 2020 Evan Ipiluni, All Rights Reserved.

In an ordinary little town, on an ordinary little street, in an ordinary little house lived an extraordinary little girl. Her name was Olympia Wilde. Tomorrow she was turning thirteen years old. Little did she know her life was about to change in some not-so-ordinary ways.

“Welcome back, Ms. Wilde. Now if you wouldn’t mind answering the question.”

Blinking herself back into existence. Olympia looks around the room, looking for clues as to what the question might have been.

“What were the dates of the Revolutionary War?”

“1775 thru 83?”

“Is that an answer or a question?”

“Answer?”

The bell rings.

“Don’t forget there is a quiz tomorrow.” Mr. Hamilton yells over the noise of chairs and chatter. “Olympia, can I see you for a moment?”

“It’s Ollie. Still.” She stands in from of Mr. Hamilton shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other.

“You are aware that participation is still part of your grade in this class, correct?” Mr. Hamilton hands Ollie a paper.

“Yes, sir.” She stares at the paper.

“Good grades are not enough. You have to show some initiative.”

“I got an A on this paper. Is that not enough initiative?”

“Participation, Ollie.”

“Yes, sir. Can I go?”

“Yes. See you tomorrow.”

Ollie turns and walks out the door. Outside the door, Lola is waiting a bit impatiently with Stu. Wide-eyed and curious, she pushes up her glasses as Ollie approaches. Stu and Lola flank her and continue down the hall.

“What was that about?”

“Participation.” Ollie rolls her eyes. “So I don’t like talking in class. I really don’t see the big deal.”

Lola and Stu exchange looks.

Ollie catches them, “What?”

“It’s really not just class you know. You have been kind of MIA a lot lately,” Lola says tentatively.

“Have not.”

“Yeah, you have, O. Is everything alright?” Stu stops in the middle of the hall, and waits for an answer.

“You guys, I am fine.” She checks her phone. “I am going to be late. See you after school?” They nod and Ollie rushes off.

“Right. You’re just fine.” Lola looks at Stu as they walk down the opposite hall.

Lola and Stu are sitting on a bench in front of the school.

“Do you know what you are getting her for her birthday?”

“Going shopping tonight. What about you?”

“I got her something weeks ago. I just hope she likes it.” Lola starts fumbling with her backpack.

“Of course you did. I don’t know how you do it, Lola.”

“Do what?” Ollie approaches.

“Be on my ‘A’ game all the time. Where you been? Schools been out for twenty minutes now.”

“Right. I had to turn in my lacrosse uniform.” Ollie grabs a chip from Stu’s chip bag.

“Why yes Ollie, you can have some of my chips.”

“Thanks.” Ollie reaches for another but Stu pulls it away.

“You guys want to study for the history quiz tonight?”

“That’s a negative. Mom wants to take me shopping for tomorrow night’s festivities. So, what kind of snacks do you guys want?”

“Gummy bears… Oooh, and those sour jacks.”

“I would love a whole charcuterie table with meats and cheese and weird named olives, and dried fruits.”

Lola and Ollie look at Stu like he is speaking a foreign language. “Is that all? Would you like some wine with with that?”

“Would your mom do that?”

“Stu!”

“Ugh. Chips and dip is fine. Ranch dip please, it makes anything palatable.”

“Right. Chips, ranch, sour jacks and gummy bears. Got it.”

“So no to the studying?”

“Lola there is so much more to life than school.”

“Unlike you Ollie, I am not a genius, and I have to study to get good grades.”

“I study, I think. Most of the time.”

“UGH! Go.”

“Alright, message you later.”

“Mama.” Ollie tosses her backpack down on the floor, and starts to kicks off her shoes.

“Don’t take your shoes off, we are leaving. And hang that bag. I didn’t get a fancy entryway hangy-thingy for you to not use it.”

“Alright, alright.” Ollie hangs her backpack up and follows her mom out the door.

“Where we going?”

“Madame Mumphry’s, to start.”

“What’s a ‘Madame Mumphry’s’?”

“You’ll see.”

Mrs. Wilde pulls up to a dirty little strip on the edge of town.

“What’re we doing here?”

“Meeting an old friend. Come on.”

Ollie gets out of the car and follows her toward a shop at the end, called Madame Mumphry’s. It’s got some dresses that look like they came straight out of the eighties, worn by broken mannequins. Mrs. Wilde pulls the door open. It jingles in a sad, broken kind of way.

Ollie scrunches up her face. “Eww, what’s that smell.”

“Be nice!”

“Can I help… Oh my goodness if it isn’t Ms. Homecoming herself! Fidora Rue, how the heck are you?”

“Hello, Mariam.”

Ollie mouths “Mariam Mumphry?”at her mother.

Mrs. Wilde smiles and winks. “Mariam, this is my daughter Olympia.”

“It’s Ol…”

“Daughter? Who’d you marry? Phillip? Or Geordie?”

Ollie is stunned to silence.

“Neither, I married Jules Wilde.”

“Get out of town!”

Mrs. Wilde clears her throat. “So, tomorrow is Olympia’s thirteenth birthday.”

“Is that so?”

“I thought we could find something magical for her to wear tomorrow.”

“Magical? Mama.”

“It’s a big day.”

“I don’t like dresses.”

Mariam Mumphry looks sideways at Mrs. Wilde, who shakes her head “no” ever so slightly. “Well, we may have something here that you will like. Why don’t you go look around, Olympia.”

“It’s Ollie.” She turns and walks away to start looking thru the racks of clothes and dresses. Looking back, she sees her mother and Mariam in deep conversation. She catches eyes with her mother, who pardons herself and steps over to Ollie.

“Finding anything?”

“There’s a lot of lace and sparkles,” Ollie says in dismay.

“Humor me?” She picks a horrid pink lacy thing from the rack and holds it up.

“Absolutely not! You know, I don’t need anything fancy. It’s just school, and then Stu and Lola sleeping over. No big party. You promised. What are you planning?”

“Nothing. Nothing. You are right. Nothing super fancy. I just want you to look every bit, well – magical as you will feel tomorrow. I mean, you only become a teen once.” She holds up a chartreuse green sparkly monstrosity.

“No. By the way, who’s Geordie and Phillip?”

“You nevermind about that.” Tentatively, she holds up an all black dress. Ollie ponders it for a minute then shakes her head “no.”

Mariam Mumphry approaches them, laughing at a green dress. “Ehm, I have your dressing room set up.”

“But I haven’t picked anything yet.”

“Why don’t you go see what’s there? Maybe you will like something,” she says hopefully.

Ollie walks for what seems like forever, past racks and racks of dresses, and tops, and hats. When she finally makes it to the back of the store, she looks towards her mom. All the way down at the other end of the shop, her mother winks as if to answer and unanswered question. Is the inside of the store is bigger than the whole strip mall? That is ridiculous concept. Right?

In the dressing room, Ollie finds a rack with five dresses, some pants and a few tops hanging on it. She picks out a blue plaid dress with black lace collar. Not bad. She decides to try that one on first.

“Ready?” She calls out to her mom.

“YES!”

Ollie walks out of the dressing room. Her mother scrunches up her face. “No.” She turns right around and walks back in.

After about ten attempts, getting tired of the process, Ollie walks out in a short, purple and lavender dress with ruffled lace around the bottom. It’s very loose, but her mother lights up and looks as though she is going to cry.

“Mama, stop.”

“It’s perfect.”

“No, it’s not. I like it but there is something about it. It’s too big, I think. Not sure.” Mariam Mumphry approaches Ollie and starts tugging and pulling. Ollie can barely stay upright with all the movement.

“Alright, why don’t you try it on with the jeans in there, and the black shoes.”

“There were no shoes in there.”

“Yes there are. I put them by the rack.”

Ollie turns to go back in, “I know there is nothing there…” Sure enough, there are some chunky black Mary Jane shoes setting in the corner by the rack. She slips on the jeans, and then the shoes. The dress now a bit shorter and fits her perfectly. Slightly stunned and a bit confused, she walks out of the dressing room.

“You look perfect, Ollie.” Tears fill her mother’s eyes.

“Uh, thanks.”

“What’s wrong, honey.” Mariam Mumphry walks over to Ollie. “Don’t you like it?”

“I do. I really do. But, it didn’t fit, and now it does. And I…”

“Oh, it was just done up a bit wrong. I fixed it, no worries.”

With that Madame Mumphry turns Ollie to face the mirror. For not liking dresses, she loves the look of this one. With the jeans, it’s perfectly her. As she moves and twists in front of the mirror, the dress seems to be glowing. She looks around at her mother, who’s shaking her head and crying. Clearly, it has to be the lighting or the materials of the dress. Her mother’s right. It feels magical.

This Book Won’t Write Itself

“There’s no time like the present.” – so the saying goes. I have decided to take life by the horns and jump in with both feet. It’s time for me to take the plunge…okay, you get the idea. I will stop!

Remember that book I said I was going to write ages ago? I couldn’t even find the blog post for it, it was that long ago. I am starting. Today. This Saturday and every week thereafter I will be releasing one chapter of Weird Academy. I am inviting you all join me for the journey, it’s going to be fun!

Weird Academy is a modern day fantasy filled with magic and mythical creatures. Weird Academy takes place in sunny Malibu, California, at the exclusive Werdyn Academy – a school for The Kind. Fairies, gnomes, giants and mermaids attend this illustrious school, along with the heroine of the tale, Olympia “Ollie” Wilde. Together a group students investigate the mysterious disappearance of a handful of their classmates, bringing many myths to life and teaching a bit about racism without teaching about racism.

I have been working on this book for about six months now, world building, character building and creating a story worth reading. Now it’s time to take all my visions off the paper and bring them to life! I couldn’t be any more excited! I really can not wait to share this with you all.

I will be posting my first 10 chapters on the free section of my Patreon page, and also here on my blog. After that, you would have to become a patron or wait for the book to be released sometimes near Christmas.

If you could share, like and repost this post, it would be greatly appreciated. I am always open to feedback and questions. Don’t forget to check out my Patreon page HERE. Thanks a bunch! ~ Ipiluni

Am I On The Outside Always Looking In?

I think this is common among autistic people, so I wanted to share. Perhaps it will be relatable. Maybe you can see a bit of yourself in this, if you are #ActuallyAutistic. If you are not, perhaps you can see some of what I am expressing in the lives of your autistic friends.

I worry that my friendships today work a lot like friendships back did back in grade/high school. I consider a very small select few my friends, and I am loyal AF to anyone I consider a friend. I have beenthat way my whole life. I love each one of them and would literally do anything for them. I am always honored and proud to be their friend, and I want them to be part of my life.

But, when I look back at some of my relationships, I realize that perhaps using the word “friendship” was a miscalculation on my part. I see a clear lack of me in their life on social media, or in their personal commitments. It makes me think perhaps I am really on the outside, looking in at my relationships with these people.

I do what any loyal friend would do. I consider my own faults, and my accountability for why this friendship isn’t what I thought it was. I figure it is most likely because I am a bit much, or a bit odd, or a bit different than a typical friend. Perhaps it is because I am so open about being autistic. From what I understand, that makes some people uncomfortable.

I wonder where to draw lines. I really don’t know. I am horrible at figuring out social norms. I’d ask for help, but I don’t know who I trust with my vulnerability. So, what’s a girl to do?

I am not saying all my friendships are this way. Just a majority of them. When I consider my relationships, I always factor in the realities of “life.” I am not selfishly asking to be the center of anyone’s world. I don’t make any of my friends the center of mine. What I’m looking for is a clear sign that I have value to these people, and I’m not finding it.

My Autistic Story

I thought I would share a brief look at my autistic story. Some of you know it, or parts of it – and most of you don’t. I am hoping maybe my story will inspire others to embrace their true-selves going into a new decade.

I was diagnosed as autistic ten years ago this week. ‪At the time, I was a student at the University of Washington. I had failed my classes for a quarter, and my advisor sent me to be tested for a possible learning disability so I could get help if needed. I was quite surprised when the diagnosis came back autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The school was amazingly helpful and provided the accommodations needed to succeed at a college level. School wasn’t easy after my diagnosis – but were the accommodations not in place, I do not think I would have graduated. The Disability Services Office, my professors and my advisors were the only people that knew of my diagnosis. I was not ready to tell anyone else. I graduated in 2014 with a degrees in American Indian Studies and Dance.

At the time, ‪I was also a single mother of four. My ableist brain was scared that if anyone found out about my diagnosis, I would lose my kids. So I kept it from everyone. It was my secret identity, but I couldn’t figure out if I was the villain or the hero. ‬‪I did the only thing I knew I could do – I started researching autism, and especially adult autism and late diagnosis information. My goal was to be completely informed before “coming out” to the world. I wanted to be able to answer questions without the worry of being right or wrong.

‪The more I researched, the more I realized my kids – much like me – had many autistic traits. Each of them presented in different ways. Two of them, I was certain, were on the spectrum. The other two were a bit more “grounded” than their siblings – they just had a uniqueness about them that made them stand out a bit. I was determined to not let them be affraid of their traits, or weirdness. Processing things differently and thinking out side the box are not bad things. I encouraged them to all find who they were. ‬

‪Giving myself that permission was not as easy. I have decades of being told to “act normal” and “quit being weird.” It took me five years to be comfortable enough to tell anyone about my autism. I would usually just say, “I could have Aspergers” or “I know I am weird but there is a reason.” I was never comfortable saying “I am autistic.” And I was miserable.‬

‪Everything I was learning about autism was not bad. In retrospect, my life started making so much sense. I was baffled at why my ableist brain fought so hard against my “finally happy to belong” heart. I was still concerned with what others would think, so I kept the masks on. I continued to accommodate those around me, instead of fulfilling my needs. Constantly, I was torn between who they expected me to be and who I really was. I was reaching a breaking point.

‪Three years ago this month, my life changed drastically. I was at a breaking point and I had to put my foot down. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I needed to to do something to take care of myself. All my choices in my life up to that point had been for the benefit of someone else. With my kids, my parents, and all my relationships, I always strived to make other people comfortable, happy and safe at the expense of myself. ‬I couldn’t do it anymore.

‪One of my biggest dreams in life was to be an actor. My life was at a tipping point, so I decided to follow my heart and give my dreams a chance. I got my kids set up in a safe environment with their father, sold everything I had, packed up a suitcase and my dog and moved to Los Angeles. ‬‪The only demand I made of myself was that when I landed in L.A., I was to be 100%, unapologetically myself. It took me about a year to peel away the decades of masks I had been accustomed to wearing. I worked on being comfortable saying “I am autistic.” For the first time in my life, I was me and it felt amazing. Scary and awkward, but oh so amazing.

Being autistic isn’t a bad thing. It has taken me ten years to say that. And I still struggle with it. Society tries to tell me I can communicate, work and thrive, and therefore that my autism isn’t real or worth their effort. But what they don’t see, hear or feel is the inner fight I face everyday, so they can say that to me. I would love a world where my autism is accepted just as much as “the five year old non-verbal boy.” I would love to be able to say I am autistic without justifying any part of it. Autism is a huge part who I am. I have finally accepted that… with help.

In 2018 I met my husband. He has been a huge catalyst in helping me explore who “the real Evan” is. His embracing me fully with no expectations has taught me to do the same for myself. I stopped expecting my life to be a certain way, and embraced the amazing adventure that it is. The masks are still there, but only for fleeting moments. They tend to go up when I am trying to protect myself from some unknown. But, isn’t that what life is about? Heading out into the unknown on an adventure, ready to take on whatever obstacles come your way. I am ready.