Disclaimer: The following chapter contains inspiration from Psychology: Concepts and Application (Second Edition) by Jeffery S. Nevid, Contemporary Art Therapy with Adolescents by Shirley Riley, and The Art Therapy Sourcebook by Cathy Malchiodi. For disclaimer on Meet the Robinsons, please refer to chapter one.


Warning: This chapter contains brief mild language and mention of psychological terms concerning drugs, sexual behavior, eating habits, and stress. Please read cautiously if you are sensitive to this type of content.


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Chapter Two: 7 Days to Change Your Life


Laszlo yawned as he sat tiredly in the lecture hall, waiting for his seven-thirty class to start. He glanced down at his watch- which read "7:25 A.M."- while other students were filling into the empty seats. He leaned against the heel of his hand, with the elbow propped up on the desk. It was way too early for Psychology, but he really needed to get his General Education credits finished, and the morning class fitted best with his schedule this semester.

Something hit him in the back of his head. "Sorry!" a voice called. Looking over his shoulder, Laszlo saw a black canvas bag being carried along the row of seats behind him. Rubbing the bruised spot with the pad of his thumb as the person tucked away the bag.

Long, silky hair appeared abruptly in his face, causing him to jump slightly at the sudden emergence. It was apparent that the person's hair hung over the shoulders, as the person had leaned forward to level with Laszlo in the lower row.

"You okay?" the person behind the hair asked.

Laszlo dropped his hand down. "Yeah, I'm cool."

The person sat up, out of Laszlo's view. "Sorry again, about the bag."

"It's fine, don't worry about it," he reassured as the instructor, Mr. Oldenburg, called for the students' attention, wanting to start the class lecture.

"We'll be having a short quiz," Mr. Oldenburg announced. "So if you would please put your books away, and pull out a piece of paper and a writing utensil..." A whole bustle of noise erupted as the students went to follow orders. The room quieted down notably after a few minutes, as the students waited for further instructions. There were a few people in various places around the room, one of which came from behind Laszlo.

"Shit,"came the voice in a whisper. "Shit!" More rustling, then the person asked another in hushed manner, "Do you have a pencil I could borrow?"

Laszlo felt a spare black ball-point pen he had in his pants pocket, so he tugged it out and held it behind him.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" the whispered voice acknowledged, accepting the pen from his hand.

"The questions covered are from the textbook," the instructor clarified. "So if you're caught up with the reading from the past couple of weeks, this should be fairly easy." The class settled as he prepared the overhead projector. "Ready?" he notified.

All the students positioned themselves over their papers placed strategically over their desks, pen or pencil pressed firmly in their grasp. Mr. Oldenburg revealed the questions on the screen. "Begin!"

Laszlo surveyed each of the questions before attempting to answer any given problem. From section four, eleven, and fifteen, Laszlo noted. Alright, he was ready to start.

Question One: What kind of drugs are widely used in treating anxiety and insomnia but that can become addictive when used for extended periods of time?

Chapter four, he thought. When consciousness is altered through drugs...

Answer: Tranquilizers, a class of depressants.

Taking a moment to read over his answer, he moved onto the next question. Hmm, it was on sexual responses and behaviors.

Question Two: Regarding the human sexual response cycle, write the term that fits the following description: "increased myotonia and further increases in vasocongestion".

Laszlo mentally rolled his eyes when he heard a handful of freshmen snicker. Well, I know what question they're working on, he thought to himself. Not that he should care what everyone else was doing. He knew the answer, so he minded his own business and wrote it down.

Answer: The plateau phase.

A-a-and last question.

Question Three: At what point does stress lead to distress?

Health psychology and stress-related issues. He reviewed this section the night before.

Oh, yeah. He got this in the bag.

Answer: When the stress for a person increases to a level that taxes the ability to cope.

There was a sea of shuffled paper sounding in the room, as each student passed their quizzes from left-to-right and back-to-front. Laszlo followed the same motion when his turn came in line. Once Mr. Oldenburg compiled the stack of paper together, the lecture portion began.

This morning's lecture was fortunately not all boring, since Laszlo found the topic rather interesting. Pulling out his laptop computer from his book bag, Laszlo began recording his notes from Oldenburg's lesson on the psychological reasoning behind human behavior and motivation.

"Leon Festinger and J. Merrill Carlsmith theorized that the cognitive dissonance is a state of internal tension brought about by conflicting attitudes and behavior," Mr. Oldenburg's voice rung through the lecture hall. "That the cognitive dissonance theory is the belief that people are motivated to resolve discrepancies between their behavior and their attitudes or beliefs."

Hmm, Laszlo thought, a person can reduce their cognitive dissonance... Changing their attitudes or beliefs to fit their behavior.

Laszlo typed out a few examples. Smoker- believes smoking will deteriorate his health. Continues to smoke. May reduce cognitive dissonance: (1) altering behavior (quit smoking), (2) altering belief (smoking isn't really harmful), or (3) using form of rationalization to explain inconsistency ("family history doesn't show health problems concerning smoking").

Mr. Oldenburg started to touch on the subject of how the lateral and ventromedial hypothalamus parts of the brain affects human's drive to feel hungry and eat. The class was getting hyped up to see the image of the laboratory rat whose ventromedial hypothalamus- the signal that told the brain to stop eating- was destroyed, causing it to excessively eat until it became severely obese. Eventually, the clock struck nine-thirty, and to the class' disappointment, they had to wait until the next meeting to see the fatty rat's gnarly photograph.

The class started to file out of the room, and Laszlo stood up to eventually do the same. A hand touched his hand. He looked up to see the person who sat behind him in class. Yep, there was that hair that scared the bejeezus out of him, and the canvas bag that had hit him in the head, which was now slung over her shoulder. The girl offered a soft smile, and held out his pen. A greenish-brown eye winked at him before she took off.

"Hey, do you know who that is?" Laszlo asked the third-year student who stood to his left, pointing up to the girl walking up the stairs towards the exit.

"Uh, who?" the guy asked dumbly, trying to follow Laszlo's direction.

"The girl wearing the faded jean jacket," he clarified.

"Oh!" he exclaimed. "Her? Uh, I don't know her name. But I think she's in the mural design class this semester."

"The one at twelve-thirty on Mondays and Wednesdays," Laszlo asked for insight, "Or the one at five-thirty on Tuesdays and Thursdays?"

"U-u-um..." thought. "Twelve-thirty, with instructor Edward Jackson."

"Huh," Laszlo mused as he shoved his laptop back into his bag. "Well, thanks..."

"Ben!" he answered with a smile, which Laszlo thought was a little goofy looking.

"Yeah," Laszlo responded tonelessly. "Thanks, Ben."

"No prob, man!" Ben expressed excitedly, waving to him.

Strapping his bag across his shoulder, the young man strolled out of the classroom. He pulled out a green apple from his bag and headed to the library. Since he had an hour to kill before his Art Therapy class. Laszlo figured he could catch up on some extra research for his thesis project. Hopefully, the book he wanted to use was still shelved.

Laszlo scanned the rows of books, searching for the particular texts he desired to read. Let's see, he thought. Ah! There it was. Shirley Riley. Contemporary Art Therapy with Adolescents. This was just the source he needed for his thesis. Now if only he could find...

Laszlo bent his knees slightly to level with the lower bookshelves to get a better view of the titles just below his eye level. Glancing at the book spines until he spotted The Art Therapy Sourcebook. Pulling both printed materials from the shelves, the young Robinson man briskly walked out of the aisle with the books in arm.

He stopped once he reached the end of the checkout line, fumbling for his student identification card in the back pocket of his pants while he waited. Successfully retrieving his card by the time he moved to the front of the line, Laszlo rented his items and exited the library. The weather was too nice to be cooped up in the dimly-lit building today. Might as well soak up some sun rays while hittin' the books, right? Laszlo reasoned as he strolled to an empty bench in the courtyard.

"Ah," he sighed when he relaxed into his spot. Getting himself situated, he opened one of the books and read, "There is no place in society where remedial relationships and creative therapies are more valuable than in these programs designed to rescue adolescents from a future of failure."

Hmm... A future of failure? It was rather strange choice of words, especially when such a statement conflicted with his family's beliefs. As Auntie Billie would say, "From failing, you learn". But Laszlo negotiated that the author's interpretation of "future of failure" meant that of a person who has no opportunity to cope and connect with others and instead lead to a path of destruction. Still, interesting choice of words.

Pausing for a moment, Laszlo took out his laptop from his bag, and using the computer's touchscreen tablet mode, jotted down his thoughts with his stylus. He wrote notes for the few more chapters before attempting to read through the other book, but then he heard this name being called from a distance. Lifting his head up, Laszlo saw a tall young man waving at him as he approached Laszlo's location.

"Pascal!" he called, standing up from his spot to give his friend a handshake.

"How's it going, man?" Pascal asked brightly.

"Ah, you know," Laszlo started, shrugging off his weariness. "It's going."

"Yeah, I hear ya," his blonde friend concurred, yet still holding onto the large, toothy smile he always had on. "So, what'cha up to today?"

"Just class," the Robinson admitted. "How 'bout you?"

"I'm starved!" Pascal said in his usual comedic voice, but his shining green eyes was evidence of just how hungry he really was. "So I'm going to hit up the cafeteria before class." He jabbed his thumb behind him, pointing to a general space of his destination. "Wanna come?"

"Yeah, sure," he agreed, packing up his books and laptop in his bag.

The pair strode through the main quad, discussing their term's project for the Art Therapy class they shared together. The conversation led into nothing of particular importance, until Pascal realized he was doing most of the talking.

"Hey, you sure you're alright man?" the blonde asked, after noticing how quiet Laszlo had gotten. "You seem kind of down today." By this time, they had reached the front doors to the cafeteria. Pascal got a hold of the handle first, and propped the door wide enough to let the both of them in. Naturally, Laszlo thanked him before he confessed.

"Yeah, I mean," Laszlo sighed. "Could this month go any faster?" he asked sarcastically. They were now standing in front of the menu selection.

Pascal seemed to catch on, scanning for the lunch special. "Oh, I know what you mean. I cannot wait for graduation!"

"These past two years alone were grueling..." Laszlo mused, as Pascal decided on a slice of pizza.

"Well, you know what I think?" Pascal proposed, taking his selection up to the cash register. "All you need is seven days to change your life." His mischievous smile creeping up on his lips. "I think it's time to kick up our feet and have some fun!"

"Oh, yeah?" Laszlo replied, returning the sly smile with one of his own. But as Pascal paid for his meal, Laszlo prompted him with a question: "And how do you think we are going to accomplish that?"

"Simple!" Pascal exclaimed as he casually strolled to a vacant table.

"You forgetting something?" the redhead quizzed. "The project? We've only got another four weeks to finish it."

That statement seemed to not phase Pascal at all. "Got plans this weekend?"

"Well, no-" Laszlo started, but once the world left his lips, his friend cut him off.

"Then we're set," Pascal declared. "You and me. Friday night. Irish Pub."

There was a pause, and his friend had expected, Laszlo looked dubious. "The two of us?" he asked uncertainly. "Guy time?" That was less of a question and more of a sarcastic statement. He leaned back into his chair. "What's Zowie up to?" the redhead asked casually, but the pair both knew it was test.

Like clockwork, Pascal always tried to play it cooly. "Aw, can't a guy just hang out with his best bud for a night without him wondering why his lady isn't tagging along?"

Laszlo simply raised an eyebrow, which was enough of a gesture to get his friend to confess the real reason why Pascal would give up an evening with his girlfriend. Pascal rarely invited Laszlo to hang out with him outside of school, especially during the weekends.

The both of them were like any other college students, after all. When not going to classes, Pascal would be working his part-time job or studying. Any extra time he had, he would want to spend it with Zowie, who attended Midtown University.

Laszlo himself spent most of his time studying and painting. He didn't work any part-time jobs, thanks to scholarships and the fortune he earned from inventing the Paint Ray covered his tuition, and living at the Robinson household had saved him the need for an apartment. Though despite having his funds covered for him, he barely had a social life to speak of...

His friend wiped away his comical demeanor and stared him straight in the eye. "Yeah, alright," he said in all seriousness. "She dumped me."

Laszlo stared at him, shocked. "Oh..." he responded slowly. "I'm so sorry-"

Then Pascal bursted with laughter. "Nah, I'm just kidding!"

"Ugh!" Laszlo exasperatedly slumped in his seat and rolled his eyes.

"Sorry!" the sniggering boy apologized, wiping away the tears that formed in his eyes. "Oh, but you should've seen your face!"

"But no, really. Zowie's got family visiting from Shreveport," he explained. "So you and I- we're goin' to be bachelors for the whole weekend!"

"Except you're not a bachelor..." Lazslo muttered, but Pascal seemed to ignore him as he began to talk over him.

"You and me," he repeated. "Friday night." He jabbed his fore finger towards Laszlo as he said each sentence. His other fingers grasped the crust of the eaten pizza slice, making him appear plainly ridiculous about the whole situation. "Irish Pub."

"A-and Irish Pub," Laszlo finished with him, once he realized that he wasn't going to win this argument. "Yeah."

Pascal ate the remaining piece of the pizza crust. His face scrunched up in disgust for a moment. "Y'know, this pizza nearly isn't as good as Art's," he admitted.


End of Chapter Two


Author's Note: I meant to finish and post this several times in late December, then again right after New Years. Then several times after that. Obviously every attempt never happened. I didn't think it would take me this long, but as this is the first update I've made all year, I'm still entitled to say... Happy New Year, everyone!

Also, did you catch the easter eggs in this chapter? Hint: two of them are names based on people, one of them is the name of a book character, and one of them is a place- all of which are referenced to William Joyce... but now I'm just giving it away!


26 August 2012