Dec 07, 2021 12:57 AM
Lissa and Julia in the New York reading room
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Lissa's been trying to work on her homework, but it's actually kind of hard to focus in her own room, without anyone else around. Which is why she ends up in the library, her assignments tucked under her arm as she peers around. That's when she notices Julia slipping her way into the door of a room, and hurries up a bit to catch up.

"Hey Julia!" she calls, waving cheerfully.

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Who's trying to sneak into the New York reading room now, when all the older kids get back they're going to huff - oh, it's one of the Chicago mundies! "Hey Lisa! Uh, are you looking for somebody?" Frank said 'be a bitch' but no one's going to call Frank a bitch for being a bitch.

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Lissa pauses. "Well, um, not quite? I was just looking for somewhere to do my homework so I'm not alone, and you were the first person I recognized. You've got a whole library room to yourself?" She sounds impressed at that.

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"New York's got a library room! You can sit here for today, though." She gestures magnanimously at an empty seat. "Usually it's full but the upperclassmen are all busy today so it's not. What homework have you got?"

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"Welsh mythology, Mystical Verse, Poetry and Prosody, and Freshman Composition plus Intro to Incantations?" she says, pulling out the list. "I've already worked on some of it in my room but it feels kind of lonely in there." She happily sits down to better sort her items. "Also some of the verse homework is in German." Which is kind of unfortunate.

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"That's a lot to have already," Julia says sympathetically. "I'm having other kids do my history and lang lab so I can focus on what I'm good at - and on making this place a bit more bearable - I'm in Comp, we could trade notes on that?"

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"Oh, really? That'd be great, thank you so much!" says Lissa, grinning brightly. She pulls out what she has already, which is mostly a mess of random notes and doodles.

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Julia definitely thought mundie kids learned how to take notes. "I haven't taken it yet, but I can see what last year's New York kids did for the first assignment - or, you can look, I don't want to cheat on it yet myself because I'm creative writing track and ought to learn how it's done."

 

She looks through the file cabinet, finds Intro Comp, finds the first assignment, and tosses the notes at Lissa. "Careful with those, lotsa time went into them."

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Lissa was technically told to do so, but never picked up good habits for it. She did note down all her assignments, at least, though not very neatly. She picks up Julia's notes with a grateful smile and starts carefully paging through those.

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Julia is poring through a leather-bound spellbook she got after asking for spells for making water taste better. "Are you thinking incantations track? It's what most kids do, means you don't have to spend too much time in the shop or the lab."

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"Yeah, it sounds the most interesting to me," she admits. "I'm guessing most projects won't be the kind of crafts I'm used to."

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"Shop is like....half metalworking, a quarter carpentry, a quarter sculpture, a quarter textile and leather stuff. ...some is more than one. I'm not a big fan of it, I'm not gonna use any of it when I'm out.  Incantations is the fun track anyway."

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"It certainly sounds like it!" agrees Lissa. "Sculpture does sound fun and maybe some of the textile stuff? But that's only, like, 50% of the class so it can't be as fun in total." She nods emphatically at the math there.

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"Incantations is the best," Julia assures her. "It's not as finicky and you're doing magic all the time, instead of mostly doing SCA and then occasionally getting to do a little magic."

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"SCA?" asks Lissa, pausing in flipping through the notes.

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"Society for Creative Anachronism! They're mundies who do glassblowing and forging and weaving and sword fighting and stuff just because they think it's fun, Fiona really liked going when we were kids so I'd get dragged along too but it's not really my thing. I appreciate the modern world. The only work I want to do with my hands is on my makeup."

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Lissa laughs. "That sounds really neat to watch other people do, but I definitely wouldn't want to do that myself. If I had a sword it'd be, like, one of those shiny magic ones you can just summon out of nowhere."

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"I don't think that's a thing. Probably there's someone somewhere who could do it if they had a good reason but there aren't actually many situations that call for a sword you can summon out of nowhere. Mostly grownups use magic for boring stuff...expanding the enclave, improving the wards on the gates, trying to make spells slightly more efficient.... when I grow up I'm going to be on the team that fixes the food in the cafeteria. I think it should actually taste good."

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"It's not that bad," notes Lissa. "Though I'm already missing my mom's cooking. They don't even have any soy sauce for the eggs!" She's pretty sure that even one simple condiment could improve the taste of those eggs a lot.

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"I think the different lines should be, like, different ethnic themes, like there should be Mexican and Korean and Italian and Chinese and Thai and Indian foodlines every day and then one that rotates with more exotic cuisines, and I think there should be a coffee shop that's open all hours that we get tokens for like for the snack bar, it doesn't have to be a fancy coffee shop, even Starbucks would be fine - it should have boba. Other than that it could be Starbucks and I wouldn't complain. I feel like it's very important for, like, the feeling of having control over your environment, that you can go "oh, I feel like Mexican tonight" and then go have tacos and burritos, instead of it just being random. And this is more speculative because it'll cost like a trillion dollars but New York's floated proposals for doubling the size of the school again, and having the new kids on a twelve-hour offset from the existing kids so as to handle the cafeteria and gym and classrooms being full and not having space for twice as many students, and if that happens it'll involve massive new construction so we can make a bunch of other changes while we're at it, like the Mal Studies classroom showing movies on Friday nights and the dorms having common spaces with couches and vending machines and water fountains and stuff."

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Lissa listens to this ramble intensely, nodding along with some of the comments. "Someone said all the food was just the same underneath, right? So could there, be, like, some magic machine full of food goop where you can put in an order and it would get changed to whatever you want? I guess that'd take longer, but also it would let you have even more choice, right? Plus the food wouldn't be sitting out there for super long so it would be helpful for having less mals sneak in, right?"

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"Oooooh, I like that!!! I think there's some efficiency in doing the enchantments at scale but I dunno if it's worth it and yeah, it'd be cool if we could place orders."

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Lissa nods. "Are there any grownups working on it already, or do they all think it's not important enough?"

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"It's one of the big things New York works on! It's been fifty years since the last renovation, and they're expensive and they're also dangerous, the students have to do all the work ourselves to make the changes, but I think we're past due for another one and there are some grownups who agree with me." Especially what with how Shanghai keeps threatening to make a new school; if this school is nicer then that'll be less likely. 

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"Oh wow, good for them," says Lissa happily. "Although some things seem pretty modern for the last renovation being fifty years ago." Did they even have vending machines fifty years ago? Maybe there's a book in the library about the history of vending machines. "Is some of that just-stuff other students brought in by themselves?"

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"You mean like the music players? Yeah, kids bring those in, and they tend to go bad after a while if you don't treat them really nicely. And the coursework updates over time."

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