Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Southern Honor

So, the other day I was reminded of my strong southern tendencies concerning Honor, of which I am extremely proud. I know for a fact that southerners put more natural stock in honor than other parts of the globe, but do you?

About a year ago I read a book called “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s kind of a strange book in that it doesn’t really help you do anything, it just helps you understand things. Basically, it examines some successful people, and tries to figure out why they succeeded. There were some really interesting parts, and some parts that I skimmed, but my favorite part the chapter about

“cultural honor.”

It was so fascinating in fact that I've already written a post about it on the other blog, so I'm gonna be lame and basically paste it here. I edited it some because my writing style has matured a little, but the basics are still here.

Stick with me, please, I find this whole thing profoundly eye-opening.

You’ve heard about family feuds, right? How for generations and generations, families will just fight with each other for reasons they might not even remember? Well, let me quote Mr. Gladwell

“One family doing this is a feud. A ton of families right along the Appalachian doing it is a pattern.”

What made people in the south so prone to violent out breaks with each other?

Cultural honor.

You see, the main profession of the mountain areas was livestock so, peoples’ honor was very important. I mean, if you’re a farmer, you try your best to get along with people, but it’s not like anyone can actually STEAL your livelihood. What are they gonna do, pick up the wheat field and take it home?

However, if your job was tending sheep, people very well could steal your hard work. All you had to protect your livestock and your family was your reputation. Build up your reputation as a tough guy and no one will mess with you. Keep your honor intact.

Even nowadays when southerners have jobs other than watching cows all day, the mentality of keeping your honor has stuck around. Maybe it’s because there’s another reason for culture honor. It has to do with heritage.

Back during immigration, a definite trend started with the Scotch-Irish: they settled along the eastern/southern US.

That would be “from the Pennsylvania border south and west through Virginia and West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, and the northern end of Alabama and Georgia.” And that’s where all this “cultural honor” stuff is big. You can steal my stuff, but you can’t insult my mama. That’s how it works here. *clears throat* I mean, there…

Okay, I’m from North Carolina. And when Mr. Malcolm Gladwell started raggin’ on my homeland, I started getting pretty hot inside.

And as I started boiling, I blinked and realized I was proving his point.



I read on.

Gladwell also mentioned an experiment. In the early 1990s, two psychologists decided to get together a bunch of 18-21 year old guys and insult them to see how they would react. They came up with the insult they thought would resonate with them the most. “Asshole.”

The Experiment:

“The social sciences building at the University of Michigan has a long, narrow hallway in the basement lined with filing cabinets. The young men were called into a classroom, one by one and asked to fill out a questionnaire. Then they were told to drop off the questionnaire at the end of the hallway and return to the classroom.”

Half the guys were from the states that were high on cultural honor, half of them were not.

“As they walked down the hallway with their questionnaire, a man—a partner in the experiment—walked past them and pulled out a drawer in one of the filing cabinets. The already narrow hallway now became even narrower. As the young men tried to squeeze by, the part looked up, annoyed. He slammed the filing cabinet drawer shut, jostled the young men with his shoulder, and, in a low but audible voice said the trigger word: ‘asshole.’”

Through different tests that I won’t go into in detail, the suspicions were confirmed. Confirmed A LOT. The cultural honor boys were mad. Even though they didn’t act out in violence, their handshakes were firmer than usual, saliva samples revealed that being insulted had raised their levels of testosterone and cortisol (hormones that drive aggression). The guys were also given a short story and told to supply a conclusion. The story had to do with a guy’s girlfriend being come onto by another guy. The cultural honor guys who had been insulted made it end violently, while the guys who lived in other places did not.


I’m going to be perfectly honest with you:

I never thought people reacted any differently.

Call me ignorant, but I thought this was the same everywhere. I had no idea that in other parts of the US, it wouldn’t be natural to react violently to having your honor insulted. I mean, you just don’t do that here. No one gets upset if you steal their stuff, but if you attack their honor, boy, it’s on.

It’s not just guys, it’s girls, too. I mean, I honestly had no idea that it would occur to anyone not to get wild about something like this…I think I’ve already said that :) But you get the idea.

Who knew? I had no idea that culture honor wasn’t the same everywhere. What a cool eye-opener!

Hope you guys found this at least half as interesting as I did :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stephanie's Europe Journal Day 4 Continued Continued

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 Part 1
Day 4 Part 2

Day 4 Continued Continued


"I put on my pajamas, but I didn't feel like figuring out the toothbrush situation since we can't ingest the water here, so I just went to bed.

I wanted to write, but reading was mas importante {more important} and since lights out at 11, I had to pick. God's been giving me exactly the right Psalm every day, and last night it was Psalm 16. It was so right I cried. Again -___- That makes two days on this trip.

Then I just read "Lily's Passport to Paris" til lights out.

Let me tell you that sleeping without air conditioning is muy dificil {very difficult}. I was so glad Momma and Sarah didn't have to be here. Alicia has a thermometer somehow and it said 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Yeah. Luckily I was on the lower bed with the window over it. Unfortunately it doesn't cool down that much at night, and the elevator runs right outside. XD I fell asleep eventually, after more crying, and 17 days felt like an unbelievably long time.

Oh! I forgot some things at dinner. We ate with the French boy, who's great. He's 13 and gorgeous. Brown hair, tanned skin, and a boy-cute face. His voice, I love. At dinner, Hannah, the resident translator, tried talking to him, but she's kinda mean. It's like she assumes anyone who doesn't speak English is stupid. She and Kira talked about the boy like he wasn't even there, and said things like, "He probably doesn't understand anything."

"Well, he probably does, just not the things we're talking about."

"No," he said suddenly in his adorable accent. "I do."

"Oh. But not very much."

"No, I do," he was endearingly indignant.

"I think you understand a lot," I said honestly. "You're much better at English than I am at French. Or Spanish." He smiled. We talked a little about tennis, and Hannah brought up escargos. We asked the boy if he'd ever had them. He made a funny face, confusion and skepticism and humor. It was cute.



He looked totally confused, which baffled us.

"But that's French! Escargos? You know, snails?"

"Wait, I have a snail shell!" cried Hannah, leaping up from the table and leaving. While she got it we tried explaining it to the boy.

"They're a slug? With a shell?"

"Es. Car. Go!"

*makes crawling motion on table*

I tried pronouncing it French-ish, but it came out Spanish-ish.

Hannah came back with the shell and the boy immediately exclaimed, "Oh! Ehs-KEHR-gohh!" He laughed, we did too, blinking.

"That's what we said...!"

He laughed and shook his head.

"Say it again," I asked. He did, looking at me kind of annoyed-like, but laughing. I repeated it, he smiled.

Back to this morning. I knew I'd dreamed, but I couldn't remember. Consuela came in and told us we could shower then eat breakfast. This morning I felt terrible. My stomach was churning and the thought of facing another day was unbearable.

Alicia showered first; after a few minutes, she came racing into the bedroom. "Help! I can't turn off the shower! I've tried everything!" We ran into the bathroom. I turned the knobs both ways and all kinds of stuff but couldn't do it either. I felt bad for Alicia, in a towel, because just last need she'd told me she hates using other peoples' bathrooms because they always do something weird.

I went into the dining room and found Lucia.

"Ayudame," I said, motioning. She came and so did Consuela, who turned it off eventually.

While Alicia was finishing, I ate breakfast. I expected it to be awful from Kira and Hannah said. It wasn't! Not one little bit! The toast was good, we got to make our own hot chocolate with warm milk, the peach juice was fine and this little sugar muffin was delicioso!

Almost immediately after, we went out to shop. I was feeling rather worked up again. As we went out onto the street with a shopping cart that looked like a stroller, the world tilted and felt lumpy, like my body was in a house of mirrors. I really thought I was going to pass out, but as we walked I told myself to chill. Sure, it felt like we were in the ghetto, but as Lily says, "Details are details." I noticed the awnings and peoples' clothes, the cracked buildings and funny "walk" and "don't walk" lights. We went to a flourist first, where we left a plant. Consuela told the man something about water. Next, we stopped at a bakery, which smelled funny. The woman told Consuela that whatever it was wasn't ready and to come back.

We went to markets and fruit stores and supermarkets and all kinds of places. As time passed, Lucia began to talk to me. She tried to tell me the name of each store and things like that. I used a lot of "No se" {I don't know} and "Que?"{What?} and "Si," {Yes} but we got along okay :) She showed me more, and in the supermarket we played "Que es?" {What is?} I identified cheese, soda, milk, a basketball, a camera, and probably more. She told me towel, cart, basketball hoop, juice and mellon. I'm much better with Spanish than Alicia, so Lucia would sometimes tell me to keep quiet so Alicia could answer XD

I asked what some things were, like a mirror. Espejo. I knew but I couldn't remember. We got pretty good at communicating between making connections, reviewing and hand motions :) She told me about vans, which hold "muchas personas."

After shopping we went to a "parke." It has an airplane model/statue thing, so it's called "Parke de Avion." Lucia showed us this "pyramide" of ropes you can climb, a "rio" {river} that runs through the park, a stage where they have "concertos y peliculas en el verano,"{concerts and movies in the summer} and a swimming pool. she also showed us a memorial that looked like a jungle gym in a concrete planter. Something about death and the sun. Each side was dedicated to a different person or creature or something, which an engraving in the concrete. She told us that unlike the pyramide, we couldn't climb on this one XD She showed us her favorite patch of flowers and made a picture-taking motion. I did.

On the way back a la casa {to the house}, we looked in the window of a pet store.

Later we played "Mentito," which is basically BS. Actually, it's exactly BS XD

For lunch we had pasta! And salad and bread. At desayuno, I had told Consuela "Como poco, siempre." {I always eat little.} She remembered because just when I was getting full, she smiled and said, "Si quieres no mas, es bueno." {If you don't want anymore, it's okay.} I was ecstatic! I told her gracias, that everything was muy, muy bueno and ate a little more. Perfect! :)

Kira and Hannah have been wrong a lot. Lucia is wonderful, the food is good, and Consuela is the kindest Spainish lady ever. You just have to be open and try!

This morning I was completely inconsolable and wanted to go home. Right now, at 5pm, I think this has been on of the best experiences of my life. 16 {days} is still a painfully, painfully long time, and I don't like to think about it, but I think I can do it.

Oh, one thing that SUCKS: no towel! I can't BELIEVE I forgot a towel -__- *sigh*

{minutes later}

We just ate this little loaf of cake-bread that was so good! And cinnamon milk called...h... {I couldn't remember.}

{that night}

We went shopping! I got two shirts. One is black with a blue glitter tiger and the other is green and white and peasant-ish. We went with Lucia and her wonderful mother, Rosa."

Stay tuned XD


Monday, August 29, 2011

Most Despicable Acts Ever--Book and Movie Edition

Gracias to Lauren for following! Hope you like Pandora XD

So, after I made my lovely list of Female Romantic Interests I Like/Don't Like, I felt like making more movie/book-related lists. So, for some unknown reason, I created the following, highly sophisticated list:

The Most Despicable Acts Ever, book-and-movie edition { WARNING: potentially spoiler-esque, but not intensely so}:

1. Running away from the final blow--on your hands and knees. {Troy}

2. Massacring a guy by surprise. {The Godfather}

3. Betraying/forsaking your friends for money. {Newsies}

4. Manipulating everyone by guilt-tripping and batting your eyelashes. {Eclipse}

5. Making your guy lose his honor, pride and position to "prove" his love for you. {A Knight's Tale}

6. Deciding you're in love with a guy because he turns you on. {The Forest of Hands and Teeth}

True to my normal overly-analytical ways, I then tried to figure out what this says about me as a person. Is there a common theme in this list? What is it that really GETS me?

I decided the recurring issue is Honor. I was already fully aware of my fiercely strong opinion on honor. {It comes with being southern, I kid you not. You can steal my stuff, but you do NOT insult my momma, my honor or my land. End of story.}

The first Despicable Thing, crawling away from a final blow actually got me on my feet during the movie. I literally jumped up off the couch with an enraged gasp of disbelief. That's not how it works, buddy. You signed up for it, now TAKE IT LIKE A MAN. There is no other option. {Except I guess there was. Wuss.}

The second DT, the massacre is just absolutely sick, not to mention dishonorable. Shooting a guy til he's riddled like swiss cheese out of the blue when he's {SPOILER} on his way to kick his abusive brother-in-law's ass is just WRONG, I tell you, WRONG. URGHHHH. *grits teeth* It gets me.

DT number three {lawl, rhyme...} betraying/forsaking your friends for money doesn't directly have anything to do with honor. It has to do with LOYALTY, which is a FACET of honor. {I clearly need to do a post on honor. I think I will. Stay tuned.} Loyalty is important, and when you don't have it, you suck.

Ah, the famous guilt-tripping and batting lashes trick by Bella Swan {DT #4}. Again, nothing to do with honor, but doesn't it just make you wanna vomit? Or punch a wall? {Or a werewolf.} It's absolutely disgusting, despicable. I HATE girls who do this. If you seriously do not have a better method of persuasion than bringing up past "wrongs," you do not deserve a favor. Get a life. Get some logic. Grr.

#5, making your guy lose his *ahem* HONOR to prove his love for you. This pisses me off. I mean, yeah, it might prove that he loves you, I get that. But personally, my guy's honor is directly tied to mine, and if *I* really love him, I'm not gonna ask him to fail at something. It's just...somehow wrong.

And the sixth and final Despicable Thing, deciding you love a guy because he turns you on. {In my opinion, the whole book "Forest of Hands and Teeth" had virtually NO REDEEMING QUALITIES and this little gem only made it worse.} Hopefully I don't have to explain this one to you. Love and lust are way not synonymous, and this Mary chick doesn't even seem to know that. She genuinely thinks she loves this guy because she laid on top of him one time {long story} and was like "Ohmigawd. I feel funny."

And that concludes my rant on despicable book-and-movie moments. What are some moments that made you cringe? Do you notice any recurring themes?


Sunday, August 28, 2011


I think I really might be. But not against guys. Against girls. And if you know me, you know that's completely counter to my personality.

I, as a girl, can do anything. And if you tell me I can't, I will glare at you and defend myself with cold logic and prove you wrong.


I hate girl characters. Books, movies, life. I just do not. like. girls. I never have. In fact, if you're my Functioning Best Friend, Cassidy, you have to sit through movies with me and listen to my gripe under my breath about what a stupid, weak, idiotic ninny every female romantic interest is.

The other day I had a lot "free time" on my hands {meaning I didn't want to be doing what I actually needed to be doing}. I decided to make a list, just to see if my suspicion was correct. I made two lists and called them "Female Characters I Like" and "Female Characters I Do Not Like."

The lists came out disappointingly close actually, with me liking 22 and hating 28. I sat on the couch and puzzled over what that was. I knew for a FACT that WAY more often than not, during kissing scenes I have to hide my fact in absolute disgust and abhorrence. So why did my lists come out so close?

Then I figured it out: I did dislike more female characters than I like, yes. BUT. The REAL difference appears when the girls are the love interest for the guys.

So I made two new lists entitled "Female Romantic Interests I Like" and "Female Romantic Interests I Don't Like."

1) To qualify as a "Female Romantic Interest," the girl must not be the main character. I counted only the girls who played opposite male MCs.
2) If I didn't have a strong opinion one way or another, I didn't put the character on either list. The lists were for my strong opinions only.

I am now, as you've probably already guessed going to show you the two lists.

Female Romantic Interests I Like
1. Sarah {I Am Number Four}
2. Lois Lane {Justice League}
3. Hermione {Harry Potter}
4. Mistique {X-Men: First Class}
5. Marie {The Bourne Movies}

Female Romantic Interests I Don't Like:
1. Arwen {Lord of the Rings}
2. Nasuada {Eragon}
3. Arya {Eragon}
4. Sarah {Newsies}
5. Padme Amidala {Star Wars}
6. Jocelyn {A Knight's Tale}
7. Anabeth {The Lightning Thief}
8. Irene Adler {Sherlock Holmes}
9. Elizabeth Swan {Pirates of the Carribean}
10. Isabel {Ocean's 12}
11. Sally {Cars}
12. Prudy {Support Your Local Sherif}

*clears throat somewhat awkwardly* My suspicions were strongly confirmed. I do not like the girls who fall in love with the main guys.

I'm still not EXACTLY sure why, but I think it has something to do with their two-dimensional personalities. The girls aren't complex enough to be interesting or real. Either they're mousy and despicable {Sarah} or too badass and hard to be realistic {Arya, Anabeth, Adler, Elizabeth}. Can't we find some middle ground, people? Not all girls are either huddled in a corner or cussing up a storm cutting out some guy's spleen with her jeweled dagger. Some of us possess an APPROPRIATE combination of self-preservation and attitude.

And then there are the girls I just find stupid and annoying {Padme, Jocelyn, Prudy.}

And then there are the girls that I just freakin' don't like and I don't know why {Arwen, Nasuada, Sally}. I just don't know. But I do not like them.

What about you? Are you character-sexist?


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kid Questions

{I considered spelling "questions" with a K for alliterations sake, but it looked really stupid. So yeah. It's the thought that counts, right?}

When I was about three, I wanted to know lots of things. Most of my questions had pretty easy answers:

"Why did God make spiders?" To keep the other insects from growing too numerous.
"Where do trees come from?" They grow from seeds.
"Do you love me?" Of course.

But then there were the questions that made my dad look at me and say, "That's a really good question."

"Did Adam and Eve have bellybuttons?"
"What is fire made of?"
"Do dogs have allergies?"

And then there was The Question that my parents just couldn't get at all:

"How many places are there?"

When you're three, it seems like an extremely simple question. However, my parents couldn't get me to clarify what I meant.

"Do you mean how many countries?" Daddy asked.

"No," I said, staring at him. "Places. How many places are there in the world?"

"We don't know what you mean," Momma said. "Do you mean how many cities, or continents, or countries? You have to be more specific."

"How many PLACES ARE THERE?" I was getting a little frustrated at this point. "How many PLACES IN THE WORLD!"

Needless to say, we never got much farther on that subject, but it really bugged me for a while.

Of course fourteen years later I had forgotten all about it--until my dad brought it up at the dinner table today.

"Do you remember asking that?" he said, grinning. "'How many places are there?!' I'm gonna laugh when your kids ask you the same thing.

"Yeah," I laughed. "But we have Google now. I'll actually find out."

My mom was incredulous. "Right, go ask Google 'how many places are there.'"

"You'd have to be more specific," my dad said thoughtfully, triggering childhood deja vu.

"But you really could figure that out," I said, frowning. "What I meant was, like, this chair is a place. Outside in the yard, that's a place. The neighbor's yard is another place. Like, a four-foot area that you're standing in. That's a PLACE."

"Oh," Daddy said, getting excited in his we're-on-the-verge-of-a-tiny-breakthrough way. "Oh, okay! Well, see, we didn't know what you meant when you were little."

"I know," I said. "I remember that, and I still know exactly what I meant. I can just explain it better now. And I bet we could really find out."

We all kind of looked at each other.

I ran to get a laptop.

According to CIA World Fact Book, there are 148.94 million square kilometers of land on earth.
If you consider a "place" to be about a 2-ft squared area, you have to convert that to kilometers, which is kind of a pain in the butt. But it's 0.0006096.
Then you have to divide 148.94 million square kilometers by 0.0006096 kilometers, and you get...


There are two hundred forty-four billion three hundred twenty-four million one hundred forty-six thousand nine hundred eighty-two "places" in the world!

Wow. That is a load off my mind.

My three-year-old self can now rest in peace.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Soap Shop

I'm trying to get a job. A lot of my friends have jobs, and I've wanted one for a while, just to have the experience., but I never really did anything about it. Now, I want a job because I WANT MONEY, and I am doing something about it.

Hm. I think this says something about my priorities, but I am not sure.

So I've applied at two places now: a pizza place, and a coffee place. Honestly neither of them is promising at all, so I was definitely interested when a lady from our church offered me a job at her soap shop.

Until I processed the thought:

A soap shop. Me. Working. Me working in a soap shop.

That's like me working at a perfume store or something. I don't know anything about the product, I don't especially care about the product, and I'm too rotten at details to LEARN anything about the product.

But anyway, I went to the shop yesterday so Crystal (the owner) could show me the ropes. She actually let her assistant, Marion show me around, and it went something like this:

Marion: "Well, okay. First you have the 3-in-1 soaps, over there. You can use it for your hair, face and body, and it's just a personal preference which. There are the glycerins, and over there are the body bars, $4.50 a piece. We don't get many people asking for tea, but it's right here, and probably when winter comes... Behind here are all the herbs, people can just pick what they want and you can measure it out for them in the back in ounces. We have people come in here claiming to be witches. Whatever. And...those are some in this back hall are the scents and essences, they're separated and alphabetized. The essences are the real thing, they're stronger. This back here is the tiny messy kitchen... When you weigh the herbs you put them in these baggies here and--well, first you have to zero out the scale, but for now just... And you measure it out to point seven. Er, point zero zero seven. And, oh, see those white tubes over there? They don't have bottoms. You can slide them around, but don't-- See I didn't know they didn't have bottoms and one day I was helping Crystal move them and I picked one up--soap came all out. I told her I quit. So anyway. And down this row are more herbs--actually on the left are the containers and on the right are more herbs, except on the top on the left there are some herbs... Alright, we can go back to the big room now. All our candles come from Lighthouse if anyone asks... And these glass candle holders all have numbers on the bottom, and when someone buys one you just have to look in this cabinet under here and find the box with the matching number and put in it there. Alright, now here behind the counter is the wax paper we wrap soaps in. Wrapping them is easy and then by law we have to label everything we sell, so even if a customer tells you it's okay, you have to put a label on the soap. All our labels are in this folder right here, but they're not alphabetized yet. And the cash register--it really is simple but you kind of need to see it done with a real customer... Okay over in that corner and that corner are all the consignment items--and around that corner too--and we don't add those up on the cash register, we just use the calculator and add the tax and then put the money in the register... Pretty much everybody who comes in is nice, but every once in a while you have the ones who try all the patience in your bones. Well, I guess that's about it."


Does this SOUND like my kind of thing?


But guess what?

I loved it. For the first few minutes, I was overwhelmed and decided I never in a million years wanted to do this. But then as it all started to sink in, I started to get kind of excited. I could learn a natural cure for everything under the sun! I could meet so many fascinating people! This little soap shop is a freakin' imagination factory! It's a completely story starter! It's absolutely PERFECT for me!

Crystal wants me to keep dropping in for a couple of weeks to get a feel for it and see customers in action, but I've already decided:

I want to work at the soap shop.


Stephanie's Europe Journal Day 4 Continued

Day 4 (continued)


"All too soon, it was dinnertime. Consuela served us salad {lechuga y tomates}, French fries and chicken. At least that's what we were told. It was brownish and boned, er, like, bone-ful; lols XD

Feeling completely helpless, I ate. Salad, fries, chicken, water. Til I couldn't do it anymore. Then I saw there was a piece of bread too. >.< Noooo, lols XD I chocked down almost all of it. Still, Consuela asked me about why I didn't eat. I told her it was good and patted my stomach to say, "I'm full!" I still felt terrible throwing away the food.

After dinner, Kira and Hannah went into their room and watched Scrubbs on a laptop. Alicia joined.

What the heck?! was my thought. We're in SPAIN. We're in someone's HOUSE in SPAIN! And they're gonna be reclusive and watch American TV? Not me. I went into the dining room/living room and sat down. Lucia was watching "The Simpsons" in Spanish. I said, "Hola" and she said it back, and we watched in silence for a few minutes.

I practiced a sentence in my head, organizing it and checking it. I breathed in and said, "Tu tienes hermanos y hermanas?" {Do you have brothers and sisters?}

She said a lot, but I only retained that she had a brother, and I asked his name. It's Juan. She told me some other people and some ages, but I only remember that she'll 11. She said, once she was done,

"Cuantos anos tienes?"
"A sis--un hermana."
"No, cuantos anos tienes!"
"Oh! Diecisiete."
"Muy bien," she smiled.

She motioned me to sit on the couch, and when Alicia came Lucia gave her the other couch seat. Then Lucia showed me her DS. "Juego," she said. And she showed me lots of juegos {games}.

Not much else happened that evening. It was 10:30 before I realized , and since I couldn't call home I sent Momma a text from Hannah's phone. I hope she got it."

Once again, to be continued XD I have school work to do now unfortunately. *sob*


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear You...

So, Sweet Pea tagged me the other day with this really fascinating new tag:

Write a letter beginning with "dear you" and only using pronouns. Then tag people.

Dear you,

This letter already sounds funny to me because who else could I be writing to? I mean, if you're reading it, I'm obviously addressing you... Anyway.

How's life? Where are you? Are you in college? You'd better be. We better still share principles and standards and dreams and such. If you aren't in college, there had better be a damn good reason.

Assuming that you are, what are you majoring in? {I love how the first thing I ask you about is school...we're so sad sometimes.} I'm going to guess philosophy is in there somewhere...or maybe not. I've heard you either LOVE it or HATE it, so it could have gone either way for you. Maybe you're taking a lot of English, considering the whole writer thing. Or even history, because frankly that got a lot more fascinating the last couple of years of high school. Tell me poli-sci still the in the picture. It has to be. Even if you never become a lawyer, it's so right up your alley. Take it.

Anyway, enough about school. Have you, you know, met anyone special? I pretty much kind of, like, really super sort of totally hope you have. Because I'm a little bit worried about you. But just a little bit, really. I mean, high standards are GOOD {and I don't want you lowering them}, but at the same time, you have a pretty narrow definition of an acceptable guy. Don't get me wrong, I like the definition a lot, I'm just worried about you actually finding someone to fill it.

Sorry, I'm depressing you. OR maybe I'm making you laugh! Maybe you've found an amazing guy who's smart and witty and good-looking and hilarious and good at arguing and a Christian and everything. Maybe right now you're rolling your eyes at me for being so worry about you. I hope you are. I really hope you are.

Let's see, what shall I ask you abut now that the basics {school and boys} are covered? Writing? How's that going? Please keep it up. Remember how many people tell me that I have a gift? Well, I'm starting to give a little bit of credence to that, like maybe you need to use writing seriously in your life. Don't forget that. Just because I'm younger doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking about--and so does everyone else. WRITE.

And don't lose touch with your friends, okay? I know you have trouble with letting people go, and sometimes you just cut them off completely when you feel them slipping. Try to find a happy medium there, if you haven't already. There's a place between clinging tragically to your old friendships and completely burning the bridges. My friends are important to me, and I insist that you treat them with respect. Remember how close I am to them?

Last, don't lose sight of the man upstairs. Considering I can't use his proper-noun-name, I'm going to assume you're still bright enough to figure that one out. Remember how he watched over me when I was across the pond? That was huge. He has even bigger plans for you than I do, or even you have for yourself, and his are infinitely better. Like, literally. So listen, think, act, all that good stuff. Es muy importante.

So yeah. I guess that's it. Read, write, keep up with your love of metalcore and languages, notice your elf ears, be smart about tattoos, and read labels for peanuts.

Yep. That about does it.

In case you were wondering, this letter is from me to 20-year-old Stephanie, just three short years from now. Um, yikes.

Let's see...Jay, Philosophia, Psycho Babbling Basher? You wanna have a go at this?


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stephanie's Europe Journal: Day 4

Day 4


{This was during the Homestay, and I accidentally used a lot of Spanish because it's literally ALL we heard or spoke, so I'll translate sentence by sentence in this lovely brackets.}

Hola! Ahora eso cosas are settling dow, puedo escribir. {Hey! Now that things are settling down, I can write.}

Alicia y yo estamos staying with Consuela y ella nieta, Lucia. {Alicia and I are staying with Consuela and her granddaughter Lucia.} We were picked up by Consuela's either hijo {son} o nieto {grandson}, which scared me to death. I'm not sure cuando {when} I've been so scared. We were la prima {the first} to get assigned to a family, and Sabine, our guide, said, "You're going to be staying with his mother, who couldn't make it."

Okay, sketch. That immediately sent my estomago {stomach} churning. The guy was about 25ish, and he had a girl about the same age with him. He seemed simpatico {nice}, and even made a joke about how we pack smaller than everyone else. although he said it in Spanish.

He put our stuff in the trunk of her car, and the cuatro {four} of us drove off. More like "dug off." This guy drove like un loca persona {a crazy person}! We took esquinas {corners} like no one's business, pulling out without looking. We sped in front of motorcycles,m just hoping they'd stop. We drove 45 down streets narrower than our old driveway, zipping past people and open car doors with no room for error. It was freaky, but mostly exciting. The thing that bothered me was the lack of security; I felt thrown under the the bus, and I didn't trust this guy! He and his girlfriend kept talking in low voices, and the section of town was growing more ghetto with every hairpin turn.

His mother couldn't make it? My thoughts were jumpy and scared. What kind of rapist bull is that?? I was growing more terrified by the second, almost sure this would turn into something wrong.

Suddenly, the car stopped, right in the middle of a street that screamed "ALLEY OF DEATH" and the guy said, "Vaminos," and got out of the car. He went to the trunk. I looked wide-eyed at Alicia. "Here? Where are we going?" She shrugged, not looking as freaked out as me.

I turned to the girlfriend. "We get out now?" She laughed in an accusing sort of embarrassed way and called to the guy. I asked him the same question. "Here? Now?"

"Si," he said, looking like he doubted by mental ability. So, shaking, I got out. There were bars on every window and graffiti on every wall. A guy drove up behind us and honked the horn. He was about the same age as our guy. Our guy grinned and called something to the other. THey joked and gave each other thumbs up. I couldn't understand anything, but I felt like we were being led into a gang rape or something.

Our guy led us inside a storefront building, and inside it was pinkish tile and stuffy air. Directly in front of us was an elevator, to the left, some stairs. He pushed the elevator button--wait no, we just stood there with our stuff. After an eternity of me praying for help, the elevator opened and a lady like a Spanish Mrs. Bernie {my grandpa's wife} came out. Relief flooded through my body in cool, electric rivers. His mother?! We were safe?

"Hola, que tal?" she said.

"Bien," said the guy. She stuck some money in his hand and he left with an abruptness that felt rude. The lady asked us the same thing, and we said, "Bien." She was smiling and friendly and not at all scary.

We got on the elevator and she asked,

"Hablais espanol?"

"Poquito," I managed. Alicia didn't understand, so we took that as a no.

"Es muy calor," said the lady, acting out the feeling. I smiled and agreed.

We got out of the elevator on floor cinco {5}, and she let us in to her casa. She showed us our room, which is pretty much square, a little longer than a twin bed both ways. There were dos twin beds in there, with only sheets. The walls were pinkish tan and like a popcorn ceiling, but a little smoother. Above one bed is a big rectangular window with closed blinds. Above the other is a dark wooden Jesus on the cross.

I said, "Gracias," and we put our stuff in there. Then the lady started to tell us things in Spanish. No comprendo. At all. For a moment, I was totally lost, but then a girl my age walked in.

"Hola," I said.

"Hi, girls," she said, waving. Another girl followed. The lady made a motion like she was handing over the situation and smilingly left.

We soon learned that the girls, Kira and Hannah, were from People to People too, on the same trip but they'd done it backwards. They told us everything.

Shower for ten minutes, and there's no hot water.
Always wear shoes.
There's no air conditioning.
We can't drink the tap water here.
Lights out at 11, and be quieter once Consuela's asleep.
Don't put your hair up when it's wet.
Eat EVERYTHING or she'll think you didn't like it.
Her granddaughter will take you to the park and try to get you to do stuff that you can't fit into. It's horrible and it's like babysitting.
Don't feed the dog, Lica.
No phone.
Don't use the lights much.
You can't charge anything.

And lotsa other stuff, like how she'll give you this gross peach juice and nasty toast. Oh, and they speak no English; none of them. Not Consuela, not her granddaughter Lucia, not her daughter-in-law. No one. And there's a French boy here too, for tennis camp. He speaks a little English and Spanish.

They--Kira and Hannah--had us pretty much depressed and ready to leave, even though I really appreciated their help, and they really were trying to help.

{This journal entry is wicked long, so I'll continue it either tomorrow or Thursday :)}


Monday, August 22, 2011


Hey guys. I've been sick the past couple of days, so I haven't been writing posts, ergo there was nothing new yesterday. I think my creative juices are all lodged in my throat {which is kind of uncomfortable, btw}, so they're not flowing the best at the moment.

I'll try to type up a journal entry for today even though it's not a T day 'cause other than that I got nothing XD I might be doing a lot of that for this next week, depending on when my juices get unlodged.

Yup yup. S0z, talk to you soon hopefully!


Saturday, August 20, 2011


I want to start off this post by saying that I have never actually been high.

That being said, I am now going to talk about Benadryl.

Lols. "Benadryl...Benadryl...BIN-uh-drill..."

On it's label, Benadryl admits to the possibility of experiencing drowsiness while taking it. What it doesn't tell you is that in some cases, the drug can cause you to enter a reality where everything happens a full 3 seconds after it does in the real world. It also does not tell you that the world might tilt out from under you or that you might not remember a few hours of your afternoon.

I dunno. Maybe it's just me.

I've taken Benadryl when necessary my whole life, but as I've gotten older the effects have gotten worse. If my allergies get bad enough to take Benadryl, they must be REALLY, REALLY BAD, because once the tiny pink and white pill is in my system, I will be incapacitated within 20 minutes.

See, it's especially bad for me because I'm normally a rather quick person. I get puns, react to the phone ringing, block punches etc. pretty fast. When I'm on Benadryl, it cuts my brain function down about 80%. I am forced to retain, process and react with 20% of my brain juices flowing. For me, it's kind of frustrating, if I have my wits about me enough to be frustrated. For everyone around me, it's pretty freakin' hilarious.

It is also the time to have me divulge any deep dark secret you've always wanted to know. {I really wish I were kidding, guys.}

For me, the weirdest part of the Benadryl experience is when you feel it start to kick in. I remember one time when I was writing "The Mirror." The words were coming alright, and I was getting some decent thoughts down, when suddenly it started to feel like I was struggling through Chinese with a cotton-insulated brain.

I frowned at the screen, squinting my eyes, and analyzed each letter one by one. I carefully formed each of them into a word, and then each word into a sentence, but by the time I understood the sentence, I couldn't remember why I was reading it. Trying to put down a coherent thought to go WITH the sentence was a straight shot past impossible.

Then there was one time at small group when I was about twelve. It was my parents small group at Mrs. Suzanne's house, and she has cats, which I'm allergic to. I took some good ol' Benadryl, and twenty minutes later I tried to walk through the living room. The world literally looked tilted on its side, so much so that I actually cocked my head, trying to see straight. Then this bench kind of floated up to my hands and I was leaning on it. My mom asked me if I was okay, but she sounded like she was at the end of a tunnel. Three seconds later I looked at her, kind of trying to be sure I knew who she was, and nodded.

The last time I took Benadryl was on my sixteenth birthday. The power was out at my house, so my family and I {and Sam} headed to a friend's house so we could watch the Super Bowl. She has cats. Which I'm still allergic to. So after a couple of hours, I started to feel really awful and gave in to the pink and white pill. 20 minutes later...I didn't know which way was up. We were all in the guest bedroom, watching a movie, but nothing was registering whatsoever. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what all happened. I also don't remember what I said to Sam on the way home, but I remember lots of laughing and confusion.

Needless to say, Benadryl screws with my miiiiind.

What about you?


Friday, August 19, 2011

The Gnome Problem

I live in a completely wonderful area of the world:

America, land of the free and home of the brave.

North Carolina, the perfect blend of every season, fresh and salt water, and we invented the airplane. Suck it.

A small town, where everyone is friendly and hilarious and not easily swayed by easy-come, easy-go worldview trends.

Yep. It's great. But there is a dark side to this sunny patch of earth, and I'm about to reveal it to the world:

*Darla music*

Lawn gnomes.

Now, I know what you're thinking, that it's really not that big a deal. And maybe it's not.

But it just might be.

See personally, I cannot fathom the appeal. Who even invented the tacky little lawn-wreckers? I mean, it's bad enough throughout the month of December when we have to drive by and see Jesus and his entire passe camped out next to the geraniums, but at least I get that. It's some peoples idea of being festive.

But gnomes. GNOMES, people. They don't have the sappy appeal of cupids, the dorky appeal of dwarves, or the regal appeal of Elves. {Although, make anything in porcelain and slap it in your yard and it automatically loses all appeal to me. Just personally.}

Out of genuine, baffled curiosity, I went to the only reliable internet source {Wikipedia, naturally} and found this definition:

"A gnome is a diminutive spirit in Renaissance magic and alchemy. Its characteristics have been reinterpreted to suit the needs of various story-tellers, but it is typically said to be a small, humanoid creature that lives underground."

I see. So basically it's a man-fairy.

I was further disturbed to see that Wiki had a section of the page completely dedicated to Garden Gnomes, and had to leave the site immediately.

Can anyone explain this to me? Is there some great, cosmic meaning to the gnomery around my town? Have I missed the memo? Am I to be labeled a non-believer in gnomology?

*sigh* I don't know. I just don't know. If it were up to me, I'd shut down manufacturing of the creepy little yard-stalkers immediately. I mean, who knows?? One of these days we may wake to something truly terrifying, like Buddy the Gnome at our window with a chainsaw.

I encourage you to take a stand against this. Don't buy lawn gnomes. Don't let your mother buy lawn gnomes. Don't let your senile next door neighbor buy lawn gnomes. They're weird, they're creepy, and God knows what they plan behind our backs.

I have to go now. There's a porcelain mob at my doorstep.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stephanie's Europe Journal: Day 3

Day 3


"Hi. It's 8:25ish AM. I thought I'd feel better today. I don't especially. I don't feel a ball of tears in my throat, but I don't really feel anything. More resigned. Numb. I think this is going to be like the Indianapolis mission trip: I don't actually have that good a time, but it's a step I need to take so that I can next time.

Only 17 more days!! :D

{on the bus that morning}

We're on the bus to a bull-breeding farm XD It's 10:54 AM. I'm feeling some better.

Yesterday we did mostly sight-seeing, including this statue of a famous writer and his two main characters. On top of the statue was a globe held by a person from each of the 5 continents.

So, about the kiss. I sat across from 2 16-year-old guys. One was actually from Madrid and had been in the US at a swimming camp. The other was from Mexico and on vacation headed for Paris with his family. The Spanish guy, Daniel, talked a lot and spoke English well. The MExican guy, Frank, was shy but really sweet and seemed to struggle more with English. I talked a little more slowly with him and he seemed to appreciate it.

At first Frank was right next to me. We talked about what we were both doing here and stuff. I told him I was excited to travel and learn Spanish. When the safety video came on in Spanish, I tried really hard to pay attention and translate it in my head. He suddenly laughed good-naturedly.

"You should see your face," he grinned.

Before that the pilot spoke Spanish over the intercom. Because there weren't subtitles with that, I got nothing. He {Frank} asked me if I did and I told him nope, what did he say? So he told me.

"Ah. De sky ist clear, and zey are going play a video on...on safety."

In the middle {of the plane ride}, Frank and Daniel changed seats so Frank could sleep on the window. Daniel talked so much more, even thought I didn't talk as much back.

He hates Spain. He says people don't treat him well and every time he returns, he knows it's not his home. He says the US is his home when I asked.

I wonder what it would be like to hate your country. I love America. I want to travel, but I'm proud of my country.

I asked what was wrong with Spain. He said he didn't know because if he did he would change it. I liked him, but as we kept talking I realized he had such complete contempt for his country that it bleeds over into his view on other things.

"When the plane lands the Spanish people will probably clap," he said. "That's how pathetic they are."

"I don't think that's pathetic!" I said. "I think it's cool. How is it pathetic?"

He seemed taken aback. "Because it's the pilot's job to get us here. He's supposed to."

"But it's much harder than we think, I'm sure."

"So? It's his job. He gets paid lots of money--LOTS of money--to fly the plane."

He left before the plane landed because he was unaccompanied, but not before getting my name for Facebook. I got Frank's name for Facebook too, but I had to ask. He already had it written down though :) He gave it to Claire and Karson too, who were the real flirts of the his flight. I honestly didn't even notice Frank and Daniel until they started batting lashes at them. They had to ask Daniel, the one they liked best, for his Facebook ;) Is it awful that I feel smug that HE asked ME? This whole thing gets more ironic btw. Keep reading.

After Daniel left, Frank moved back to seat. We talked some, and then the plane landed.

"WEll, it was good meeting you," I said as we got up.

"I'll see you in baggage claim," he reminded.

"Oh, yeah. Okay. Bye!"

We did see him at baggage claim. I smiled; I really was glad to see him. Any familiar face was nice at that point.

We were on the opposite sides of the room, so I really didn't think we'd ever talk again.

As I waited to find my luggage, I turned around and there was Frank, quite close to me actually. I was surprised, but no threatened-feeling or anything. He said, "It was very nice meeting you." He was almost nervous-looking, kind of jittery, but not unsure. I smiled, but it was probably a little dull; I was exhausted and frankly (pun intended) dazed that he'd come over.

The next thing I knew, his hand was lightly on my left upper arm and his head was right next to mine on the right. Everything both stopped and went fast. He kissed, like, my hair sort of. His face brushed mine. He backed off and smiled.


I was dazed, totally, but I think I played it off okay, really. I said bye back and he left. The 4 girls around me were like :O and we all laughed, but mostly them. I was too dazed and my face was on fire. I think the blush stayed for a least 5 minutes. I kept smiling and blinking. They were all like,

"We've only been in Spain for like 15 minutes!"

"I am so jealous!"

"Look at you!"


We're back on the bus! It's 15:22, or 3:22 PM. we spent the morning at the farm where they raise bull fighting bulls! They're bred bigger, stronger and more aggressive than any other breed. The actual bulls are not ever trained. The mothers, the cows, are trained to be wild and strong and aggressive, and then the breeders assume the bulls get those genes.

Bulls are killed after fights usually, but if a bull fights especially bravely and well, the crowd can ask for the bull to live, and he'll be retired to breed. The bull-fighting bulls are said to be more noble and braver than others.

We just finished playing "Green Glass Door." :) Haley and I knew it already, so we played with Michael and Jessica. Jessica got it pretty fast and then we played with Dena {pronounced dehn-AY} and...I'll remember her name in a minute. Now Haley's playing the riddle where the guy hung himself and there's a puddle on the floor :) I'm having a really fun time right now, but 17 days still seems like a long time."


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

NameThat Boy

Remember the Virtue Chronicles? Yes? No? Kind of?


Ancient Greek-ish culture, 8 Houses of government, each a different "virtue." Girl named Astraea in the House of Justice. Meets a peasant boy. Boy surprises her with his knowledge of government, and the corruption within it. The boy is smart, determined and out to expose said corruption.

Not bad, eh? But there is {at least XD} one hitch in the story so far:

El chico no tiene el nombre.

*clears throat*

The Boy doesn't have a name :3

I mean, he did at one point, but then I started second guessing and "ehh"-ing it, and now I'm not so sure. So, if you would, I'd really appreciate your opinion. I had a list of about 25 potential names, which became 10, which became 6, which is now 3. 3 potential names. Which one will it be?

If you've been reading this blog for any time at all you know I love names, and put a lot of stock in them. It's very important to me to get the Boy's name right. And asking you to name him out of the blue when you don't even him seems ridiculous, so I've decided to post the scene where he and Astraea meet.

If you want to and you have time, read through the scene and get a feel for the Boy. If you don't really care and would rather just pick a damn name, okay XD The choices are at the end. Leave a comment with your pick, por favor :D

{Also, thoughts on the scene...terrible criticism is better than nothing IMO.}

So here you go. Astraea and the Boy meet:

She glanced behind and saw that she’d fallen into a dark alleyway, shrouded in ominous shadows. A small smile pulled at her lips at her own clumsiness. She pulled herself to her feet and got a glance at her cream-colored robe. At least it had been cream-colored when she’d put it on. Smudges of dirt covered the hem and worked their way up to her waist. She almost chuckled; those laundering secrets would have been useful after all.

Suddenly her eyes flicked upward, almost of their own accord. She squinted, trying to sort through the darkness. There was something up there. There was something on the wall. She opened her mouth to demand that the shape show itself, but before she uttered a sound the shape detached itself and dropped the twenty feet to the ground, landing lightly with bent knees.
Astraea gasped, but quickly regained her composure and cut the sound short. It was a man, but aside from that the lighting was too poor to make out anything else.

“Who are you?” she demanded without thinking. The man’s eyes laughed.

“You wander into a dark alley that you clearly don’t belong in and the first thing you ask is who I am?”

Astraea frowned. “Maybe you’d like to know who I am then, peasant.” She regretted the arrogance in her tone immediately. The man was right, and it was beyond foolish to go around angering strange men alone and far from home. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I…” He looked at her with an expression of stone. Astraea glanced around awkwardly. “I…” She turned on her heel and half ran out of the alley before stopping in her tracks at the crowded street.

“You don’t know where you are, do you?”

Astraea frowned over her shoulder. The man had come out from the shadows. She revised her original assessment. He wasn’t a man; he couldn’t have been much older than she was. His voice had made him sound even older than Ramiro. She turned back to the street.

“Of course I do.”

“Alright, so you are not a Daughter of Truth.”

Astraea looked back at him in spite of herself. “No. I’m not. And you’re not a Son of Wisdom.” The boy looked mischievously taken aback.

“Perhaps you’re of the House of Sarcasm,” he said. “But tell me, why am I not of Wisdom?”
Astraea looked him in the eye. His eyes were green-brown and large, framed by unexpectedly long lashes. “You’ve clearly figured out that I belong to one of the Houses,” she began. “and you’ve probably also deduced that I’m not where I ought to be. Therefore if you were wise, you would put as much distance as possible between yourself and me before you’re caught up in a kidnapping trial.”

“Ah,” he said, his eyes laughing again. “But the House of Peace doesn’t know you’re missing, does it? And Peace is the only House with the authority to arrest criminals.”

“News travels quickly between Houses when necessary,” Astraea said, raising a formidable eyebrow. The boy allowed himself a smile.

“Not a Daughter of Peace then, either,” he said quietly. Astraea’s eyebrow dropped.

“Perhaps I’ll tell them you kidnapped me,” she threatened.

“More evidence against your being of Truth…or Justice.”

Astraea’s eyes flew wide, fierce anger spiking through her body. “How dare you,” she said lowly. The boy’s face betrayed his genuine surprise.

“Justice? And yet you’d encourage the punishment of an innocent?”

Astraea’s anger melted into horror and stuck in her throat, making it difficult to breathe. “I wouldn’t have done that,” she managed, completely unmasked. “I wouldn’t have, really.” The boy cocked his head, studying her closely.

“I don’t know about that,” he said. Astraea scowled again.

“You don’t know anything,” she snapped. “You’re just a citizen.” She turned back to the street once again, but didn’t go out into it.

“How dare you,” the boy said, clearly mocking her. “When did citizenship become synonymous with ignorance?” Astraea frowned, but did not turn.

“Please. You don’t know the first thing about government.”

“No, of course not. Unless you mean about House members, Board members, Counselors, Advisors and High Justices.”

“Any fool can spout off that which he’s heard rumors about. It doesn’t make you any more intelligent.”

“House members: anyone and everyone born or married into a particular House. Board members: twenty-four officials who are elected by the House and are part of the jury in trials. Counselors: officials selected from the Board by the Advisors and High Justice. Also part of the jury. Advisors: three officials selected from the Council by the High Justice. Again, part of the jury in trials. And lastly, the High Justice: leader of the House, elected by the entire House. Serves as the judge in trials and can only be replaced if found unworthy by a ¾ majority of the House. Or if he resigns.”

A shocked silence settled itself in Astraea’s mouth. She breathed in and out, tapped her foot, blinked, and otherwise tried to reassemble the shards of her dignity. “Well,” she finally breathed, swallowing hard. “I suppose…”

“You were wrong?” the boy offered, his voice mockingly light. “It happens, Daughter of Injustice.”

Astraea turned on him, suddenly livid. “You will leave my House out of this, do you understand me? Peasant?” She took an involuntary step towards him, and he stepped back, eyebrows raised.

“Defensive. You sure you aren’t of War? They’re in charge of the defensive army, as I understand it.”

“Don’t pretend to understand anything,” Astraea said, her green eyes snapping. “You may know the technicalities, but do not presume to understand the intimate workings of the Houses.”

“Do you always talk like this?”

Astraea’s nostrils flared angrily.

“Now listen. You’re not making yourself or your House look any better by insulting me and my intelligence. I proved you wrong. Admit it and rise above it. Move on.” The cockiness was gone from his tone; he addressed her in earnest. Astraea immediately felt ashamed. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and swallowed hard.

“I misjudged you,” she admitted, though through gritted teeth. “But you misjudged me as well. I am not a Daughter of Injustice, and it disturbs me deeply that I’ve portrayed myself as such. I seek justice more sincerely than almost anyone I know. That is the truth.”

The boy nodded slowly never breaking eye contact. “A Daughter of Justice after all,” he said. “Perhaps.” A frown threatened in Astraea’s eyebrows and the boy raised his own. “What think you of the Travi Scandal, for instance?”

Astraea blinked. “The…what?” She winced. A citizen who knew more than she. It was nearly unbearable, but her curiosity outweighed her pride—for now.

“The Travi Scandal.” The boy frowned, then smirked. “You don’t know? They don’t tell you?” He shut his eyes and shook his head, turning around. A frustrated sound growled in his throat. “Of course not. Justice doesn’t apply inside the Houses, only to the commoners.” He turned on Astraea, poorly concealed fury in the back of his hazel eyes. “Not three years ago, Counselor Travi attempted to poison the High Mercyman and Truman, just before the annual Assembly of the House of Prangtar.” The hairs on the back of Astraea’s neck stood on end at the accusation. “Mercy and Truth were planning to vote against extending the death penalty to offenders as young as sixteen. Counselor Travi’s attempt failed, and the House of Justice resorted to bribing the vote counter, a young man from Truth ironically enough.” The boy’s jaw jerked in anger. “And that was that. Now citizens as young as you could lose their lives for a loaf of bread.”

Astraea’s eyes stared icily at the boy. “I cannot believe someone would spread such vicious, inaccurate rumors. Nothing of the kind happened, do you hear me? Nothing. My father was the High Justice three years ago. He would have known if Counselor Travi had been planning an assassination! He would have stopped it, without a doubt.” Astraea shook her head, a fierce smile coming. “I am sorry to disappoint you, but there was no scandal. The leaders of each House met together, as usual, and discussed the benefits versus the risks. The benefits were found superior. They voted. The age for the death penalty was lowered. That is all that happened.” She exhaled harshly, raising an eyebrow at the boy. “Surely you don’t think me so simple as to have missed two murder attempts within my own House.”

The boy shook his head grimly. “I don’t think you simple at all. That is why it’s all the more disturbing that you didn’t know.”

Astraea narrowed her eyes and shook her own head. “You must be insane,” she said plainly. “I mean it, really insane. You’re talking about the House of Justice. The House of

The boy tilted his head thoughtfully. “You may know this,” he began obligingly. “Counselor Travi stepped down from his position as Counselor less than a week after the Meeting.”

Astraea stared intently at the boy, her eyes fierce with passion. “I’ve got to get back,” she said abruptly, passing a hand tiredly over her face. “Or they really will think I’ve been kidnapped.” She turned to the street for at least the fifth time and frowned into the crowd.

Which way had she been going? To the right, but now she wasn’t sure if that was correct after all. The buildings were so tall and close together it was impossible to see the House Hill.

“It’s difficult enough when you know where you’re going,” said the boy. Astraea could hear the laughter in his voice again. “Especially for someone who has no experience navigating the street.”

“Are you going to offer a suggestion, or are you just being obnoxious?”

“I can take you back, Daughter of Arrogance, if you’d like.”

Astraea would have loved to refuse the offer, but realistically… “Very well, Son of Exasperation. To the marble staircase, if you please.”

She made a move towards the pressing crowds, but felt a hand on her arm holding her back. She flinched away from the touch, giving the boy a scathing look. He removed his hand and beckoned her farther into the alley.

“What?” Astraea said, growing irritated. “We’re not going that way; you’re taking me back to the marble stairs, you—”

“As I said, you have no experience navigating the street, and I will not be the one to teach you in this crowd.” His eyes laughed again, a foreign expression that fascinated Astraea. “Shortcut. Come.”

A moment later he was halfway down the alley, taking the dirty darkness with long strides. Astraea felt a stab of panic. “A shortcut?” she cried angrily, jogging forward a few steps. “I’ll go no such route!” The boy had disappeared. Astraea stopped. “Hello?”

A head of the boy’s shaggy brown hair poked out from a distant corner. “Yes?” Astraea could hear the smirk in his voice from halfway down the alley. He chuckled. “I suppose you’ll have to trust me.”

“I don’t. I’ll trust no one who spreads up lies about my House.”

The boy grunted thoughtfully and stepped back out into the alley. “Well, suppose you trust me for now, on loan as it were, and do some research when you get home. If I’m lying, arrest me for slander. I’m sure Truth would be all too willing to assist. If I’m not,” he tilted his head. “dig a little deeper. Agreed?"



P.S. Btw, I found this random hott guy while trying to find pictures for the Boy. Enjoy.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stephanie's Europe Journal: Day 2

Day 2


"Well, I'm in Spain! Right now we're chilling at the baggage claim, and I'm starting to think our luggage is lost. Oh well, it'll work out eventually.

I'm so exhausted! I got about 4 hrs on the plane.


The bags were fine.

It's now 3:30ish {pm} I'm guessing and we're in the Prado! I keep falling asleep without realizing, but I really want to stay awake. Lunch was okay but we ate at the Hard Rock and they gave us specially made menus...which was a little disappointing.

We've been touring the city. Taking pics but I doubt I'll remember what they are! I've never been so tired!

{that night}

Alright it is now 9:38pm and we're at the Holiday Inn. I've discovered that I didn't pack my khaki cargo pants, which pretty much drove me to tears. I'm still holding some back, but I guess it's cause of TOM, lol.

We don't have to get up til 8, so yay. I can't wait to sleep.

It's because I'm tired, I know, but I cannot remember what I'm doing here. I'd like to be home.

I got kissed btw. 15 minutes off plane. But I can't talk now. I'm too down."

How's that for a cliff-hanger for ya? ;)


Monday, August 15, 2011

Stephanie's Suck-Fest

Hi. I was planning to post about the Virtue Chronicles some more. I need help with a character's name and I wanted to get your opinion. But I feel like hosting a pity party instead. You are invited, {but not obligated} to come.

My bad week started Wednesday, when school started. {Coincidence? I think not.}

I'm already behind in math. Whoopee! And I need to apply to college NOW. Like, right now. And I don't even have the SAT score to get in because of math. I got 31% of the SAT math. Shoot me.

There's no way in hell that I can do physics {just being realistic here}, which is technically okay because I have all the science credits I need to graduate, but it was discouraging to realize how much I suck.

Class in general just bored me. Blah.

Thursday, math went horribly again. Lesson 1 and I needed help with literally half the problems. Screw this. Screw myself. Screw math.

On Friday, my family got into some horrible mood where they blame all their problems on me and then give me the silent treatment when I react to them really badly. That doesn't actually bother me, except for the part where whenever I need a favor, I'm the devil.

Also on Friday, none of my friends could go to a movie. So I spent Friday night...on my couch--not talking to my family.

On Saturday I slept too late and was rushed trying to catch a different movie which I was being taken to by my mother who still wasn't really speaking to me. Fun stuff.

Then I had an actually good evening involving friends and ice cream, but then of course I had to get back in the car with my family, who suck, and go home, which sucks.

Yesterday was probably the BEST day of all. And by 'best' I mean 'worst'."

I woke up late.
I lost my shoes.
My makeup wouldn't look right.
My new dress makes me look fat.
My new shirt shows my bra.
My new jacket was too heavy to wear this time of year to cover up the previous two issues.
My family rushed me.
I dropped my breakfast on the floor.
I was made to clean the house, which I didn't do yesterday. {Which is really completely fair, but it still added to the suckishness of my day.}
My newest close friend ran away from home.

Yes. Yes, she did. Back to her mom, who's NOT a good...anything. Guardian, influence, friend, whatever. She's bad news. And I was really getting to be close to this girl. And JUST THE DAY BEFORE we hung out and had a great time and her Facebook status was even about how much fun she had. And now she's gone.

I feel like I lost two friends in the same week, which is really melodramatic, I guess. Ellie didn't LEAVE she just got ENGAGED.

*blood pressure rises*

Aw, shit. My mom just came down and was really nice to me and tried to help me feel better. And now I feel like a moron for being rude about her this whole post.

But she really has been a girl dog too, I swear.

*SIGH* Whatever.

This past week sucked. Let's hope today is an improvement.

Oh God. It's Monday.

There's just no hope, is there?



Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Virtue Chronicles

I'm writing a story. I really like it. But I never actually finish anything sooo...yeah. This may bomb completely like everything else I've ever written, BUT.

It may not.

And with that in mind, I give you the premise for my story, currently titled "The Virtue Chronicles."

Once Prangtar was ruled by a royal family, as most lands are. But as the king and his family grew greedier and more corrupt, it became obvious that to avoid civil war, something needed to change. Each of the King’s advisors had different opinions on what was tearing the kingdom apart.

One blamed injustice, saying that until people were held strictly accountable, chaos would continue.

One blamed dishonesty, insisting that so long as there was deception and misunderstanding, peace could never be achieved.

One blamed hatred, believing that only when people accepted each other could the world run smoothly.

One blamed political apathy, declaring that strong loyalty and respect for the government were necessary to keep the kingdom together.

One blamed hostility, stating that to rule the kingdom, peace must be a chief priority.

One blame bad thinking skills, claiming that solid, true solutions would never be reached unless the people understood their government.

One blamed the lack of compassion, impressing the importance that the people show understanding and unity.

And still another maintained that a poor understanding of the world was to blame.

One night, the advisors gathered for a meeting whose chief purpose was shove opinions down each others’ throats. During this highly productive exercise, the King was assassinated by one of his own body guards. The rest of the royal family met the same fate within minutes. Naturally, the entire kingdom plunged into a dangerous and chaotic game of Survivor.

At the peak of the kingdom’s desperation, the young advisor who advocated the use of Wisdom made a bold suggestion to his fellow councilors: perhaps they were all correct. Perhaps to rule a kingdom effectively, one must use all eight of the proposed virtues: Justice, Mercy, Logic, Love, Truth, War, Peace and Wisdom. Each virtue, in turn, had its place in a prosperous kingdom.

The suggestion was simple and logical, and it wasn’t long before the other seven advisors came to agree. With the help of the army and the citizens still devoted to unity, the advisors put into place a clever system of Houses, each dedicated to one virtue, with representatives from each forming the House of Prangtar, which would ultimately rule the kingdom.

The Houses worked together well with few major conflicts for nearly 200 years. Each House grew larger as its original founder had children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The Houses grew in respect and prestige and the people began to identify themselves with a particular House.

But now, things are growing unsteady, or so some people say. Astraea of Justice has no doubt that the kingdom is on the brink of even greater prosperity, which will surely come because of her house, and more specifically, her very own family.

Even though she has little direct experience with politics, everyone knows she’s going to be a tremendous asset to the House of Justice, including Astraea. It doesn’t bother her that her betrothed never shows her any affection; he’s from Logic, of course he’s unemotional. It doesn’t seem wrong to deal out severe punishment; crime must be discouraged, at all costs. And it doesn’t matter that Justice is bending the rules to get the result it needs. The end justifies the means...right?

But then Astraea meets the peasant Boy and everything changes.

He’s intelligent, which catches her off guard first. He knows exactly how the government works, and has real opinions about it. Astraea is reluctantly fascinated by his ideas, but when the Boy starts criticizing her House, she shuts him out.

But she can’t get his ideas out of her head. He told her the House of Justice was hypocritical, corrupt. He gave examples, but Astraea had never heard of them, so they couldn’t be true.

Could they?

Astraea begins to search, and research, and ask questions. The questions are tough to ask, but what she finds is even tougher to swallow.

The Boy tells Astraea things she doesn’t want to hear, and he makes her more angry than anyone else in the world. But every time she tries to prove him wrong, she gets the rug pulled out from under her by her own House’s recent history. The Boy knows more than she does, and it’s scaring her. Where has she been her whole life? What all has she been blind to?

How can she believe in Justice and support her House at the same time? But if she doesn’t support her House, where
does her allegiance lie?

Questions, comments, thoughts, compliments and criticism are always SUPER welcome when it comes to my writing, just so you know. I'd rather have horrible criticisms than nothing XD


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mental Breakdown

I feel like I'm going to throw up. I was just lying in bed, journaling, when I get this text message from my Official Best Friend:

"Oh, yeah, I'll help you with those character names later! And guess what?? I got engaged!"



Oh my God.

Oh my God.

Oh my GAWD. WHAT?!

My best friend

I was literally speechless for five minutes. Not even the Sagrada Familia hit me that hard. I just laid there and this weird croaking sound kept coming out of my mouth.




Is she insane? Like, certifiably mental? She's been dating Brian for what, two months now? What the fucking hell? {I'm sorry, I never say stuff like that. I'm just typing the way I'm thinking right now.}

I'm happy for her. I really am. I mean, I must be. My best friend is getting married--



No, she's not pregnant. She's just...Ellie. That's it, she's just herself. She's like this. She's...engaged...

I feel like I may vomit.

Then on the other hand...


She asked me to be a bridesmaid!

At her wedding. At my best friend's WEDDING.

Where are they gonna live? She doesn't work, he doesn't work. How is THIS gonna work? She's gonna have KIDS by the time I'm in she even gonna GO to college now? Holy shit, what about all the plans she had? What about all the stuff we talked about about, like, NOT BEING RETARDED AND DOING STUFF LIKE THIS?


I think I need a hug...


Friday, August 12, 2011

Nick Names

Welcome, Anonymous Ann, and thanks for following :D Hope you enjoy Pandora!

I love nicknames, which makes sense because I'm obsessed with names in general. When I was little I especially liked long names because you could get so many nicknames out of them. I would sit in my room and write down different names and create outrageously far-fetched nicknames to go with them.

Elizabeth: Eliza, Beth, Liz, Lizzy, Lizbeth, Betsy, Betty, Bet.
Anastasia: Anna, Ann, Stasy, Stasia, Tacey.
Alexandria: Alex, Alexis, Alexa, Alexi, Alexia, Alli, Xandra, Xandria.

And then there are the horrible nicknames your mom gives you. I've been christened some real doozies in my years. Check these out:

Sweet Sugar {Not so bad.}
Noodle {...what?}
Noodle Beet {Can I get a wtf?}
Noosk {We've graduated to completely made-up words now...}

I don't even have the excuse of "Oh, my sister couldn't say my name when she was little so..." Nope. Not even. A fully grown woman gave me those.

Now, my sister has some reeeeeally interesting ones too, but guess who's fault that is? >:D *evil laugh* Oh yes. Yours truly. I was a truly creative and random little child at age two. Some of Sarah's nicknames include...

Soo-Potato {That one's actually from my mom.}
Seech {Lucky for her that one was retired when I was about six.}

What I want to know is why we didn't get cool nicknames like kids in movies, or even my friends? Something like...

The Camera {the Cam Jansen books}
Firecracker {my friend's older brother}
The Brain {Arthur}
Peanut {a friend who's allergic to peanuts}
Bubbles {Galleria in The Cheetah Girls}
Mo {Mortimer in Inkheart}

*sigh* Oh well. The thing about nicknames is that you rarely get to choose your own. That's one thing that was so appealing for me about Blogger in the beginning: You can.

Of course after a while, your name starts to become a part of your identity, whether you like it or not. I got tired of being >insert alias here<. I'm just Stephanie now, and I like that a lot better.

Noosk, however, stays right here, got that? What happens on Pandora...

What about you guys? What are some nicknames you like or hate? How'd you get them?


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hi :)

I'm actually here this time! This is not a five-sentence quickie. Life has finally given me a breather, and I'm posting! Either you've been waiting with bated breath to hear about my Europe trip, or you've completely forgotten about it. Either way is cool with me XD The trip seems a thousand miles away to me too.

BUT, I journaled every day, so there are 19 little treasures for me to post here...and that's a lot. So, I'm only going to be posting my journal entries on Tuesdays and Thursdays. {The other five days of the week you'll get some of my usual unparalleled wittiness to chew on.}

Hopefully this will last longer than the Twi-Hard posts. I'm sorry guys, but about Chapter 5 I just sort of lost interest in Bella Swan et al. The book was never awful or anything, I think I'm just sort of over it. It will probably never interest me again. Ever.

Anyway, without further ado, I give you {uncut, unedited, uncensored}...



"I'm on the plane to Dallas as I'm writing this :) Two other girls besides me had never been on a plane either, and we're all sitting near each other. I'm sitting with Claire and Karson, who are really nice and helped me not be too nervous during the take-off.

The take-off was not bad at all! At first I didn't even realize we were moving, then I noticed as we picked up speed and inclined. My stomach felt jumbled once, but that didn't last long.

And it's a good thing because I forgot to take Dramamine! I threw my water bottle away before I did.

I chewed my first piece of gum when the plane took off, and everyone thought Sarah was the coolest, sweetest sister ever for doing that for me. I'm about to put in piece #2 :)"

IMPORTANT NOTE: So, I really do have an amazing sister, guys. She knew I was nervous about my first plane ride, so she made me a gum package. A piece of gum for every hour of the plane rides, each a different flavor, each Sticky-Noted with the appropriate hour. {First Hour, Second Hour, etc.}. She made me gum for the plane ride from here to Dallas, from Dallas to Madrid, from Rome to Chicago, and from Chicago back home. She's so awesome XD Anyway. Back to the journal.

"The flight should arrive at 12:45, and the pilot said we're right on schedule. He seems wonderful from the intercom and he said the flying weather is perfect. So far no turbulence really :) Flying isn't as freaky as I feared, although Claire said this is even gentler than usual. Perfect, haha :)

I think I really like it. We're literally in the clouds! They look just the way they do from the ground except closer and lower...which is a dumb thing to say, I guess b/c how else would they look? XD

The stewardess just came by and I got some ginger ale, even though I feel just fine.

I've started reading 'Lily's Passport to Paris,' and I still love it :) Having Lily and her family is a little like having my own here :) I don't feel at all the horrible, empty loneliness I expected. Yet XD"


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I Lied.

I am so sorry, guys. Today has been kind of awful, and life is about to take off full speed ahead. I start senior year tomorrow. I really have not forgotten Pandora, and it's really very unusual for me not to follow through like this. I can count on one hand the times I haven't blogged when I've promised to, and I've been blogging for four years.

Yeah. Enough excuses and defensiveness. I'm sorry! I'll post as soon as I can.



S0000z. Post coming later today. I promise.

*solemn nod*