Tag Archives: friends

Choices

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Tonight I had a choice.

Tonight I could write a long and clever blog post on any enthralling topic you might mention…

…or I could read a book for class, relax with some yoga and laughter with a friend, take a long hot shower, listen to some soothing music, and then watch Lindsey Sterling videos and feel as though I’ve accomplished nothing with my life–then write a blog post (with a deep feeling of inadequacy).

I chose option B, and I’m trying to convince myself that being a wanna-be writer is kind of cool, too.

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Progress

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Aaaaaaand my clothes still aren’t unpacked. I left my suitcase on my bed and everything. Open. So I wouldn’t forget. Yea, so I wouldn’t even be able to go to bed until my clothes were safely stowed away in my dresser. Nope. Nothing but my collection of pants got put away. 

But I built a shelf. 

Well, I put together a kit. And I didn’t do it alone, either–my most organized sister made sure the top of the shelf ended up on top. Hopefully the apartment has passed her inspection. It’s certainly a work in progress, what with all the bags and boxes lying around everywhere.

But I have my pillow now (thanks, Mom) and coffee. And all the important mugs. 

And I even got to host someone. A most important someone. My sister (spiritually adopted, of course) and I have been thick as thieves since sixth grade. In high school we’d hoped to get an apartment together after college, but God has chosen to place us in different geographical locations. Our hearts will always be together, even if the rest of us can’t be. 

She has an apartment by a river. Mine is by a pond. Have fun with that, Whovians. 

If there’s one thing that’s been made clear from this moving process, it’s that I can’t do anything alone. I’m so grateful for all the people who have helped me move furniture and boxes and bags and bags of books. I couldn’t have done it without any of them. Independence really isn’t that independent at all. it’s just shifting your dependence to include more people the older you get. It’s a wonderful thing, having a family as well as a family of friends. 

ALl that to say, I’m not settled yet. But I’m getting there. A day at a time. 

Pickles

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“I like pickles,” said she. “Do you like pickles?”

“Yes, rather,” said I. “Why do you ask?”

“Oh, no reason,” she said innocently, taking a sip of tea that was still too hot.

“Hmm. Sure.” I looked over at where my untouched mug of spearmint tea sat on the desk, waiting for me. i have a post to type. My hands are still occupied.

“Your ‘I’ should be capitalized,” she said. I chose not to fix the error, but to record the moment instead.

“Lovely.”

“Yes, I thought so,” I replied. I am running out of ideas. My brain is too shot, and my head is too flighty too think of anything at the moment. 

“Hot chocolate trumps pickles,” she mused, staring at the screen from her perch at my elbow. 

“Most certainly,” I agreed. “Especially when shared.”

“My thought exactly,” she replied, smiling. 

“Three more days, and then we’re free.” She laughed. “You know you’re excited about something when you bring it up every ten minutes.”

“Free to do what?” I asked. 

“Oh, you know, sleep. Eat.” Her smile got a little wider. “And other nice things.”

I smile, too. The world is full of such wonderful things. Pickles. Hot chocolate. Tea. Thanksgiving. And friends–the best of friends. 

Even in a random world–even in a pickle–friends are still among the most wonderful things in the world.

Dreams: a Post by Two Authors

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Everything happens for a reason.

Even dreams.

Sometimes even nightmares.

Even being better at something than you thought you were.

Even falling down.

Even stargazing and discovering something discovered eons ago.

Even bonfires.

Even friendships.

Even adventures.

Alright. Especially friends, and especially adventures, when put together.

So here’s to friends on adventures. Here’s to falling down and getting up. Here’s to stargazing.

Here’s to dreams. 

Flight of Fiction (14c)

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“Right then, loves,” Enilor said, stepping closer to the flame and looking around at her comrades. “What’s the plan?”

“Nayr and his men will have gone around the mountains,” Ameryn explained. “My plan was to go through the mountains and cut them off.”

There was silence, followed by scoffing.

“Not on your life are we going through there.”

“Haven’t you heard what happens to people who go through those mountains?”

“Are you out of your head?”

“That’s suicide!”

“Look, I know what the legends say,” Ameryn exclaimed. “But they are only legends.”

“Ameryn, have you ever been anywhere near those mountains?” Narina asked from her seat in the shadows. The circle stopped their chatter, turning to face the red-headed Sprite girl. The girls’s dark eyes were fixed on Ameryn’s. Every word fell heavily from her tongue, like the words of a prison sentence.

“Death walks those hills. There is no life for miles around the mountains’ roots—not a single village; not even a bird’s nest. Strange sounds echo into the night, sounds that no animal we know could possibly make. There’s the grinding of stone on stone as the crags and boulders shift, changing the pathways, rearranging the labyrinth every minute. Those who go in never come out. I lived as close to those mountains as my people would venture. Ameryn, lead us where you will, but don’t lead us there.”

“If we follow Nayr and his pack around the range,” Ameryn protested, “we’ll not reach them in time. We can cut our route in half if we go through.”

“Or we may double it,” Zon countered, grimly. “Going through them may kill us all, Ameryn, and we’re not any use to the Princess as corpses.”

Ameryn swallowed. “I—I was told to take the pass through the Mountains.”

Zon and the company raised their eyebrows. “Told?”

Ameryn found herself looking at her feet again. “Yes. I was told by—by a wizard.”

Enilor wrinkled up her nose. “A what-zard?”

“I had never heard of them either,” Ameryn continued, her face feeling very red. “His name is Arato. He called himself the Keeper of the House of Hounds.”

“Was he of that House? What was his Beast?” Zon asked.

“He didn’t exactly have a Beast. He—he’s a tree.”

“Come off it,” scoffed Enilor.

“No, honest,” Ameryn said. “I mean, most of the time he’s a tree, but he turns into a human when he—when he’s needed.” How could she explain this without making her friends think her insane? “He’d been asleep for years, but awoke just before they took Aileen.”

“Whoever heard of a talking tree?” snickered Enilor, slapping her tail on the ground for emphasis.

“A Keeper?” said Claritas, her brows furrowed in thought, hunting her memory.

“You know of Keepers?”

“Yes, I know of them. They’re creatures from the fairy tales Taurlin mothers tell their children. Every herd has a storyteller who keeps our history and teaches the children. I remember stories of the Keepers—there’s one for every House, and they can turn into things like trees and rocks. The Keeper for the House of Hooves became a great obelisk of sandstone.” The Taurlin girl shook her head. “But I thought they were only stories.”

“Whatever he was, I believed him,” Ameryn said. “Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but his words—they were words of truth—the only truthful words I heard in those last few weeks.”

“How do you know he was speaking the truth?” asked Zon.

She looked him in the eyes. “I just knew. I always know.”

He looked back into hers. She knew that he understood.

Ameryn took a deep breath. “I know it sounds ridiculous and dangerous and—well, utterly stupid—but Arato came to me and told me to take the road through the Mountains, but not around. And I have to believe that his instructions were worth following, no matter how impossible they seem.”

Silence.

“I know I’m asking too much.”

“I should say,” said Narina, standing up and stepping into the firelight. “My friends seem to know you well, Ameryn, but I have only just met you today. I am not of a trusting nature, and I’m half tempted to think that you’re deliberately leading us to our deaths.”

“Easy, love,” Enilor said, putting a paw on the Sprite’s knee. “Ammy’s all right. Remember, she was planning to go that way herself, long afore she met us.”

“Friends, it’s late,” Zon said stepping forward and spreading out his arms. “We’re tired and addled, and that’s no proper mindset for forming any kind of plan. Let’s get some rest and sort this out in the morning. Loui, you’ve got first watch.”

“Humph. I always get first watch.”

“I’ll be second,” piped Enilor.

“I’m third,” said the faun.

“Right, then. Don’t let the fire die, friends—it’s frosty tonight.”

Six

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Never Be Normal

What is normal, anyway?

Starting around seventh grade, the pressure to be “normal” becomes a harsh and heavy reality. No one’s entirely sure what the standard of true normalcy is, but boy, if you deviate from that standard for even a moment, you’re toast.

Delightfully catch-22, isn’t it?

Yes, sir, the powers that be among your set of peers will be doing just that—peering over your shoulder while you draw monsters in your history notes; peering at your outfits to see if they measure up; peering at your grades to see if they’re too high or too low; peering at what you choose to laugh at or not laugh at. From seventh grade onward, you will be judged. By everyone. And if the masses deem you “abnormal,” prepare for immediate ostracization.

The wonderful thing is, that once you are kicked out of the spheres of possible popularity (and you will be, if you choose to be yourself), you will find the Others. Others who like the same books that you do. Others that still think old movies are cool. Others who whistle loudly as they walk down the sidewalk. Others who understand, because they think the same thing. Others who may look at you a little oddly when you laugh really loudly at something that wasn’t actually funny, but they like you anyway. Others who are “not normal.” Suddenly those who accused you of non-normalcy are the weird ones.

And then you realize that there never is, nor will there ever be, a “normal” person. Because we’re all different. Yes, several of us overlap in terms of tastes and appearance, and those who do tend to flock together, but we’re all different. There are jocks who love basketball and other jocks who like baseball. There are geeks who prefer The Original Series to The Next Generation. If there were some sort of mold that we all fit into, we’d be a planet of automatons. The chaos reigning on planet Earth is a testament to the fact that we most definitely are not.

I’m an individual. And so are you.

I figured out a long time ago that if I tried to fit in, I’d be miserable. I’d be miserable because God didn’t make me to be just like anybody else. I cannot be melted down and poured into a mold—anybody’s mold—because my shape, my mind, my heart, and my path are all unique. That’s the way God made the world. A billion different people on a billion different, interconnecting paths.

I am me. I cannot be normal. That is the way it is. The minute I am accused of being “normal,” I will halt everything and reevaluate my life. If I cease to be odd, than I have ceased to be myself.

And that just won’t do.

Flight of Fiction (14b)

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The troupe stared at Ameryn, then looked at each other. It was clear they were as in the dark as she was.

“I don’t know what he’s up to,” Ameryn continued. “But I am her Guardian. I will always be her Guardian. I’ve got to find her.” Her fists clenched. “I’ve run this far, and I won’t stop until I can bring her home.”

She stopped. There was no more she could say. She looked down at her calloused hands, overcome.

Silence reigned for several moments. Ameryn felt angry and embarrassed all at once. She shouldn’t have said so much. She must seem a strange sight, this monster chasing after a princess who may or may not have left her kingdom for her own free will. How could they understand?

Ameryn saw a small, furry hand rest on her knee. Enilor was looking up into her eyes, her expression softer than Ameryn had seen it so far. The circle stirred as one by one, the musicians rose to their feet. She felt a hand on her shoulder, and heard the most familiar voice of all.

“We’re going with you, Ameryn.”

“No,” Ameryn protested. “No, it’s too dangerous. They’re Sprites, and—well, look at you all,” she exclaimed gesturing around at the circle of elves and fauns and taurlins. “They’ll kill you.”

“They’ll kill you, if you go alone,” Claritas said gently.

 “This is my task. I wouldn’t ask you to—”

“You don’t have to ask,” Narina said, almost smiling.

“No—please. You don’t understand. I have to do this—”

“Alone?” Zon finished.

Ameryn turned to face him. “If you follow, it may be the last thing we ever do together.”

“Then let’s make it the finest thing we do.” The circle murmured assent. “We don’t want to lose you, either. Not after we just found you.” He gripped her shoulder more firmly, giving her a gentle shake. “You can’t do this alone.”

Ameryn looked around at her motley band of friends, amazed. There they stood, a ragtag bunch of musicians—outcasts. A giant, a faun, taurlins, the elves, a Sprite, an otterling—the unlikeliest group of friends imaginable. But Ameryn knew then that these were much more than friends to her. They were family.

“Thank you.”

 

(RIZZY NOTES: I apologize for how lame that was. It’ll get better on the cutting room floor, I promise.)

Pictures of the Past

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For almost every Saturday for as long as I can remember, I’ve spent the day cleaning house. It’s a lovely constant in my life, being able to know that I won’t wander far from the house that day. Instead I’ll be sleeping in and cleaning until the family gathers for dinner around seven. It’s therapeutic. Some of my happiest memories of the house we live in are cleaning memories.

We’re getting new carpet put in upstairs this week. That means my room needs a major cleaning and reorganization. There needs to be as little on the floor as possible so things can be moved out of the room fairly easily, or at least moved around.

Today I tackled a closet.

I have two small closets in my room—one on either side of a recessed window. The one on the right holds my rainbow of clothing, arranged in the proper order of colors 9how else will I know what I have?). The other holds junk. It is the closet where I put things that are important to me, if to no one else, but aren’t very pretty to look at. It’s also the place where I put things I want to forget about. Or things I want to remember, but not all the time.

The trouble with cleaning things out is, for me, the temptation to stop and examine everything. The relics of my high school days are holed up in that closet. Boxes of them. Notebooks full of them. I have old high school newspapers. Photographs. Assignments. Class notes. Competition ballots from high school speech tournaments. That one grading sheet that has legible proof that my speech teacher thought I did well in a duo scene. Hundreds of doodles. Old plays scripts I wrote. Old poems.

All I wanted to do was to re-read everything. I was surprised at what I saw in skimming things. I remembered things I had forgotten. Good things. High school was great.

Looking through photographs of our senior year, I see how much younger we all looked, even though it was only four years ago that the pictures were taken. We’re more tired now, I think, and it’s strange to see us looking so awake and alert and alive.

For decades, mankind has discussed the possibilities of time travel. More like impossibilities—but humans have dreamt for years of being able to build a machine or a box or a car that could take us back and forth in time. There are movies about it, and TV shows and books that discuss the subject.

But honestly, I think we’ve had time machines for a long, long time. They’re in our closets and under our beds and stored on our computers. Time machines are wherever we keep those pictures that mean the most to us.

And I catch myself wondering—just what pictures will still be dear to me four years from now?

Reality Returns

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So I’ve been on vacation for a week.

I didn’t go anywhere, which was lovely. Recovering from an international flight like the one I took a week ago takes time. Instead, I stayed at home with my awesome family.

I baked things. I ate things. Not all of them were things that I baked. Some of what I ate was movie popcorn, which is about a -9 on the “healthy” scale. Asbestos is -10.

Yes, we left the shelter of our home to go to a movie theater and watch Monsters University and Man of Steel. Two days in a row of movie-theater-going. Thank goodness we came in late to the second one and didn’t have time to buy the obligatory accompanying junk food.

We also did a lot of driving around on mountain roads. There was a lot of rain, so we didn’t see too much of the scenery. But after a decade of drought, we’re happy for the rain. The minor protests breaking out on my forehead in the humid aftermath is something I’ll try to overlook.

Tomorrow, however, I return to work at the library after almost a month of absence. Hopefully they didn’t change everything while I was gone. My supervisor and her husband (also one of my supervisors) have left work at the library so they can prep for their move to a state way, way up north. This is a sad development for all of us at the library, since we will miss them. They were super supervisors. And good friends.

Aside from that, hopefully everything will be the same—calm, quiet, and bookish.

Maybe with a schedule in place, I can start being productive again. 

Three Days

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In three days, I will be home.

In three days, the school year will be over, and the holidays will begin.

For the first time in my college career, I am saddened by the thought of a semester ending.

I’m ready to be done, of course. But this semester—this whole year—has been so beautiful, I am sad to see it go. We got our yearbooks today, and I was flipping through pages of faces—faces of people who are graduating. Faces of people I will miss.

I think it was Dr. Seuss who said “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” This year has given me plenty of seasons to smile, and that is something to be truly grateful for.

But after I turn in one more essay tomorrow, I will be a senior in college, and that thought is a bit frightening. After being a senior comes The Real World and all that entails. I’m not sure if I can handle that. I know I couldn’t handle it now, but maybe I’ll be able to handle it a year from now.

Maybe.

But for now, I will enjoy these next three days as much as I possibly can. I am determined. 

And Then There Were Three

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There’s a group of ladies that I spend a lot of time bragging on with this blog. They’re my “sisters.” They’re not technically my sisters. We share no relatives. We just share years of common joys. We’ve got a history. We’ve loved each other unconditionally for what feels like forever.

We’re also growing up. One of The Fabulous Five got married over Christmas. Now another is engaged—as of yesterday.

She’s our princess. She’s the second oldest—born in October, while the rest of us followed in November, March, and April. But she’s physically the smallest, and therefore the rest of us have taken on the role of her four protectors since junior high. Especially me.

Now she has a new protector. A very sweet, hardworking, wonderful guy has swooped into her life and done what all swooping men tend to do—swept her off her feet. Suddenly her happily-ever-after has gone from dream to near reality.

This is all very exciting.

And bewildering.

The three of us that remain unattached can only look on in quiet wonder as these events unfold. How many nights did we stay up late into the night, talking to each other from our sleeping bags, wondering what They would be like. Them. Those men we’d read about in books but hadn’t met yet. Those men we knew we’d eventually walk down aisles with. Them. At the time it was all innocent girlish talk—mere fantasy, and not to be taken seriously. But now two of us are sporting diamond rings. It’s real.

Isn’t the world full of wonderful things?

So she’s engaged. The rest of us are reeling from shock and we feel utterly ecstatic—and of course asking questions about wedding colors and what the dresses will look like.  

Time marches on. What a story this is! What a book! As I turn the pages, I see increasingly wonderful things.

Regardless—I’m still keeping a box of tissues handy.

 

Suddenly, Magic

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Because there need to be more friendship poems in this world:

Suddenly, Magic

 

Once upon a time

I found myself a bit adrift

Needing just a little lift

To get me through another day.

Then the Music and the Rhyme

Asked if they could cut in—

Asked when the dance would begin—

Then how they blew me away!

 

And

Suddenly the magic

Came tumbling from our fingers:

Every melody that lingers,

And the gentle ebb and flow

Of where the harmony could go

Came and went just as it should—

Who could have dreamed we’d sound that good?

One more time

Let’s run it through—

Imagine all that we could do!

Just the Rhyme

And the Music

And me.

 

Now, I know it may seem strange,

But I felt a little scared

Because I never would have dared

To wish for magic before.

But this is such a welcome change

From the fear that blinded me.

And, boy, now that I can see,

I know I’m going back for more!

 

‘Cause

Suddenly the magic

Came tumbling from our fingers:

Every melody that lingers,

And the gentle ebb and flow

Of where the harmony could go

Came and went just as it should—

Who could have dreamed we’d sound that good?

One more time

Let’s run it through—

Imagine all that we could do!

Just the Rhyme

And the Music

And me.

 

Who would ever have guessed

In a hundred million years

That I could pack up all my fears

And learn to be myself again?

So now I’ll try my very best

To learn life’s melody by heart,

Playing each and every part,

And trading my “if” for a “when!”

 

For

Suddenly the magic

Came tumbling from our fingers:

Every melody that lingers,

And the gentle ebb and flow

Of where the harmony could go

Came and went just as it should—

Who could have dreamed we’d sound that good?

One more time

Let’s run it through—

Imagine all that we could do!

Just the Rhyme

And the Music

And me.

Psychosis

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Is there a term for getting too emotionally involved in works of fiction?

Twice this week I’ve found myself in tears while under the influence of some play or epic poem. First Hector died and left poor sweet Andromache a widow, which had me sniffling for the last chapter or so of The Iliad.

Then I read Our Town, the notoriously normal play by Thornton Wilder, which chronicles the above average love of an average couple who lived simplistically beautiful lives. The girl, Emily, dies in childbirth only a few years after being married to her high school sweetheart. I saw this play performed on campus last year and barely sniffed once, but now, reading Emily’s plaintive posthumous lines:

“Mama, just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s look at one another….I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed.”.

I confess to having to stop and wring my eyelids out.

The last time I wept freely over a piece of prose was when I read Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo. The tiger in question comes to an unfortunate end, and my eleven-year-old self couldn’t handle the emotional strain. But now, as a twenty-year-old, I find myself strangely moved by every blessed thing, whether I read it, hear it, see it, or even taste it.

This may be a symptom that I am finally coming unwound. Or I need more sleep. Or both.

One Down

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I blinked and the first full week of classes went by. There have been a total of five songs stuck in my head, two of which recorded by The High Kings, and all of them have the feverish pace that fits the character of this first week.

It occurs to me that two years ago, when I was a small and frightened freshmen embarking on the beginning of this journey through college’s choppy seas, that a week like this would have made me want to jump ship and swim for home. Instead I feel more like a hiker walking through rocky hill country who just came up on a mile marker telling me just how far I’ve come. By the grace and empowerment of God, I am able to endure so much now then I could before.

Across the nation, readers in their forties and fifties are smirking and saying “Yup. We could have told you that was coming.” Don’t worry, I knew. You all told me. It’s a rather remarkable place I’ve come to, and the feeling of having grown is a wondrous thing.

What’s really interesting is to gauge your growth and then run into old acquaintances who are gauging theirs. This past week I had the chance to reconnect with several friends from the Anytown Academy days. One girl has drifted from studying marine biology to studying the humanities and started dating a boy she used to date in junior high. She’s brighter and happier then I remember her being before, and her life radiates joy and contentment. Another friend took me to a formal dinner for a historical society (correct me if I’m wrong, sir). He was magnificently attired in 1800’s military regalia. He told me about all of the friends he’s made and his adventures in being a campaign consultant. I listened closely, comprehending dimly, and all the while thinking about how many afternoons we had spent in high school cafeterias, talking about rounds of speech competitions.

How things change.

It doesn’t take years to grow. Growing happens on a week by week, or even a second by second basis. Every instant changes us. It only takes a nanosecond to learn something new, and there are thousands of things to learn.

In that light, this past week seems even more packed (in a positive sense) than it did before. And there are many weeks of learning and growing to be experienced as the semester hastens on.