Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ready

Straight from my Twenty-Eleven journal, I give you my lists {with the exceptions of the abbreviated Friends and Movies}.

Twenty-Eleven Firsts
First hug: Cassidy
First drink: sparking white grape juice
First food: a brownie
First text: Cody: "Happy new year" 12:50am
First color I painted my nails: deep purple :) Jan. 4
First thing I bought: nail polish Ja. 21
First pair of shoes I wore: Uggs
First time I brushed my teeth: Jan. 2 4:15pm
First time it rained: Jan. 1
First time it snowed: 5:30am Jan. 6
First book I finished: "The Outsiders" Jan. 28 10pm
First eyeliner I used: navy waterproof
First cry: Jan. 3
First cold: Jan 5-7 -__-
First stomach bug: {NA}
First LEGIT snow: 1.10.11
First sleepover: Jan 7-8 Mer's
First PC-sighting: July 7th, Panera Bread
First crush: My Guy
First theater movie: Tangled {AMAZING!}
First hair cut: Feb. 25

tWENTY-eLEVEN bOOKS:
1. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan {1}
2. Tex by S. E. Hinton {5}
3. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher {3}
4. Across the Universe by Beth Revis {3.5}
5. No Promises in the Wind by Irene Hunt {3.5}
6. Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger {3}
7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins {4}
8. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins {4}
9. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare {3}
10. Guys are Waffles, Girls are Spaghetti by Chad Eastham {3}
11. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins {4}
12. Fortune by Erica Spindler {2}
13. Divergent by Veronica Roth {3.5}
14. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen {4}
15. Theogony by Hesiod {4}
16. The Magicians by Lev Grossman {4.5}
17. A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley {3}
18. The Iliad by Homer {5}
19. Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah {4}
20. Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller {3.5}
21. Quicksilver by Stephanie Spinner {2.5}
22. MAX by James Patterson {3}
23. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen {3}
24. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini {3.5}
25. Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry {and someone else...} {3.5}
26. Dreadful Sorry by Katherine Reiss {2}
27. A Thief in the House of Memory by Tim Wynne-Jones {4}
28. Prophecy of the Sisters by Zink {3}
29. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare {4.5}
30. Green Angel by Hoffman {3.5}
31. The Year of the Hangman by Blackman {3-3.5}

Twenty-Eleven New Friends
26, including a Spanish boy, a French boy, a Norwegian girl, and someone named Frank Fraank. I kid you not.

Twenty-Eleven {New} Movies
71, my favorites including:
Tangled
Sherlock Holmes {first one}
X-Men: First Class
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Batman Begins
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Inception
Super 8
50/50

In Twenty-Eleven I...
Saw my first R-rated movie in the theater.
Participated in my first NaNoWriMo.
Got my driver's permit XD
Went to my first Renaissance Festival.
Got over someone.
Started working out for the first time.
Finally got my ears pierced.
Went to my first Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert.
Got a job.
Ate my first bacon roll-up.
Rode a plane for the first time.
Went to EUROPE.
Refrained from doing something stupid at the Open House for the first time.
Started my senior year of high school.
Wrote my first letter to Santa.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Two-thousand eleven was quite a busy year. It has come and gone well before I noticed. I was lying in bed last night marveling at the fact that I started all those lists about a YEAR ago. It seems like it's been only a few months.

I changed a lot this year. I hadn't realized it until recently, but I am very much not the same girl who experienced New Year's last year. Last New Year's, I was heartbroken and trapped by the burden of masochism. I was working on those things, very hard, but I hadn't come out of them yet. I know now I had to be there to get where I am now.

In my seventeenth year, I feel that I have quietly become the person I was always supposed to be. I'm not grown up, I'm not done changing, I'm not perfect, and I'm not suggesting that I am. It's just that I've always felt a little "off," a little behind. This year I feel like I finally have both feet where they're supposed to be RIGHT NOW. I feel older and more in control of myself.

It's not so much that I have more answers; it's that I've finally learned how to live life the right way. I have to own my mind and heart and choices. I can't let other people or school or my personal flaws dictate who I am or how I respond.

When it comes down to it, I am my own person, and if I can give it all to God, I'll be doing pretty well.

A lot of my plans and wishes for twenty-eleven didn't happen, but that's alright. {Tomorrow will mark an official year of being erotica/pornography clean though :)} God's got it covered. As a fellow author, I think it's about time I start respecting God enough to give him the pen to my own story. He knows what's he's doing; like an author, he knows the ending and I'll just have to trust him that all the ups and downs are part of the plot.

Twenty-twelve is going to be my biggest transitional year yet. I'll become an adult; I'll graduate from high school; I'll begin college. Those are such monumental events that it makes it difficult to breathe when I think about them too hard. But they're coming whether I breathe easy or not XD

I feel optimistic about twenty-twelve--no matter what the Mayans say. I don't regret twenty-eleven {I'm not running away from it the way I was running from twenty-ten}, but I'm ready to face a new year.

Twenty-twelve, I now stand ready for life-alteration.

~Stephanie

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Revelation

Thanks for following, Alana, Ginger and Amanda! {Ginger and Amanda are guest bloggers for Miss Unlimited also.}

You know those memory-snatches we all have? Something that happened when you were little, or a book you read years ago, or a tune that you can't place. Those little bits of sensory input that you can't trace back to...well, anything. Those pieces that lurk in the back of your mind, unidentified.

I have a lot of those. And they bug me. I hate to forget things, and for my brain to latch onto something without proper documentation seems cruel.

For instance.

*clears throat*

BACKSTORY

From the time I was born, I had a babysitter named Yvonne. I could not pronounce that, and christened her "Bon."

Bon took me seriously and knew everything most people know, plus some. She had twin boys who were fifteen years older than me. They had about a million bouncy balls and would dump them out in the hall and we'd play with them. We would smack them at each other as they rebounded off the walls. I thought they were great.

By the time I was three, Bon was still my babysitter, but the boys had gone off to college, so Bon and I were left to our own devices. That wasn't a problem. We would go to the Chinese restaurant or work in the garden or try to hear the cat purr or go to the library.

But for whatever reason, one day at her house I wasn't doing any of those things. I was sitting on Bon's couch, watching TV.

It was a cartoon.

It was dark and had capes in it.

There were orphan children.

There was the name "Frog."

There was a part where a nice man was trying to get a boy to take a bath and the boy grabbed the doorframe to keep from going.

And those are the only pieces of that experience that stayed with me. Odd little fragments for a three-year-old mind to latch on to. I remember not being scared of the show, and understanding what was going on. But I had no idea what the show was called.

Those pieces of cartoon have distantly haunted my mind for about fifteen years now. I really wished I knew what it was from, because it was just bugging me. For a while I wondered if it was some show called "The Magician." I think I sort of assumed it was and never pursued it. I mean, what would YOU do with those fragments I mentioned? It's not even enough to Google on.

{I just tried Googling "cartoon orphans boy name frog capes." I got Meet the Robinsons, Pete's Dragon, and Toy Story. No, nope, and nah. I was right. Un-Googleable.}

But I really wanted to see how the story came out. I couldn't remember. What happened to the orphans? Who is "Frog"? Did the boy get a bath?

Today I was watching Batman: The Animated Series {Christmas present :DDDD} with Sarah and my friend Brianna. The episode started out good; I liked it right away because it had kids who were thieves.

When the plot turned to a whole bunch of kids, working in a sewer, my mind did this weird turning thing. It felt sort of like what your stomach does on a roller coaster, but in my head. I was starting to get this vague impression of familiarity. Even fainter than deje vu, but persistent.

The feeling grew when I saw this evil guy in a cape. He was enslaving the kids in the sewer and I could have sworn I'd seen him somewhere before. But I still didn't say anything.

Then a little boy got taken back to Wayne Manor for his safety. The boy's name was Frog and he wouldn't talk. That struck another very odd chord with me.

Then Alfred started trying to persuade the boy to bathe. The recognition strengthened and stirred under the murky water of childhood impressions.

When the boy refused, Alfred carefully picked the boy up and tried to carry him into the bathroom.

The boy braced himself against the doorframe to keep from going.

Suddenly the familiarity pulled itself into a great mental monster and rose from the murky memories. I gasped.

"I've seen this before!" I cried, pointing at the TV. "I know I have now!" I was shocked. "When I was three years old...I've always wondered what it was and now I know!" I shook my head, eyes wide. "It was BATMAN."

It was such a revelation to me! Like a burden lifted! It was Batman! That collection of memories could finally be put to rest! It was like a ghost finally being able to cross over. The memory had a name now, a pocket it could sit in comfortably. My mind actually felt freer.

No one I told of this was properly impressed, relieved, excited, etc. I guess this is a really strange thing to get excited about, but then again, I'm a really strange person. *shrugs happily*

Also makes me wonder if that's why I love Batman so much XD He was woven into my subconscious at a very young age. Maybe that's why I love orphans too.

I've also always wanted to do that door thing. But no one has ever had to force me to take a bath, so I guess I'll have to settle for watching Frog do it.

~Stephanie

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This vs That

{Thanks for following, Sam and Gabrielle! You guys should really check out Gabrielle's blog that I linked to. She posted a short story on the 27th that I find absolutely beautiful.}

Am I selfish?

See, this is awkward, because if I spend an entire post contemplating whether or not I'm selfish, I am then being selfish. Or at least self-absorbed.

Are those the same things? Selfish and self-absorbed?

I do a lot of self-examination. I study my motives obsessively, try to get to the root of "me," analyze my dreams, question my thoughts and determine my desires. Is that selfish?

I'm not sure. It's definitely self-absorbed.

But I think "selfish" might be different. I'm not necessarily saying I'm NOT selfish, but that maybe being self-absorbed is sometimes different?

Selfish is when you act with only yourself in mind. You put your safety and comfort above all else, even at the expense of others' safety and comfort. A selfish person is often greedy, whether with time or treasure, and lacking in honor.

Self-absorption means you think about yourself a lot. When I say "think about yourself," I don't necessarily mean that you think about yourself FIRST; I mean that you contemplate yourself often, as I mentioned I do. Self-absorption can certainly lead to being selfish, but sometimes you study yourself in a non-selfish way. Sometimes you can study yourself with others in mind.

For instance, when I spend time thinking about my trust issues, it's not because I love myself to death and want every thought to be dedicated to my own loveliness. It's because I want to understand why I have trust issues so I can fix that and treat others the way they deserve to be treated.

I do not think I am a selfish person. I can DEFINITELY be selfish at times, and maybe it's conceited of me to say I am not a selfish person. But I don't think I am. I honestly try to do things for other people. It bothers me when I break promises or needlessly hurt feelings. I hate selfish people. I do try not to be one.

When I post about myself, it's not because I think I am the best topic there is. It's not because I think you ought to love reading about me. It's because I'm trying to figure myself out. I'm trying to smooth out the wrinkles and reprogram the glitches and straighten the twisted pieces. When I post about myself, it's because I think better with words that I can see, and I hope that perhaps some of you might benefit from my words as well.

And that, I hope, is not too selfish a thing.

~Stephanie

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Miss Unlimited

A few weeks ago, I got an email from someone named "JW Moxie." The email started with an introduction to these big websites called Aiming Low and Miss Unlimited. The email told me about how Miss Unlimited is a fun, encouraging site geared toward teenaged girls. That info was followed by the phrase, "I absolutely LOVE your blog," and that's when my face did this: -___-

I'll be honest: my first thought was Leave Me Alone You Stupid Automated Email That Is Getting My Hopes Up But Really Just Wants Money Or Something. JW Moxie must have anticipated my rude, cynical self, because the next line of the email was "I promise, I've read much of what you've written recently."

Me: "...hmph." *reluctantly sheepish, still skeptical* "Sure you have." But then Moxie started referencing specific posts. As if she ACTUALLY HAD read my blog.

That was rather unexpected. I started the email over, reading it without any cynical jeers. When I got to the end of the email, I was shocked. And also inwardly beaming.

I had been selected to be a blogger on the Miss Unlimited website.

Well dang :D

The site seems pretty awesome. Granted, it is not my usual environment, but a lot of the Miss Unlimited goals are the same as my own: promote strength, justice, self-acceptance and becoming the best You possible.

You should go check out the website. The guest posts {some of which will be mine} will be going up sometime in February. I'll give you another heads up later, but I know the other Miss Unlimited writers would be glad to have you reading even now.

If you like what you see, pass it on. The website is pretty new and could use more teen girl readers.

~Stephanie

Monday, December 26, 2011

"Clockwork Prince"

I am reading a fantastic, wonderful book.

"Clockwork Prince," by Cassandra Clare.

I loved her Mortal Instruments {MI} trilogy, and when she stared the Infernal Devices {ID} trilogy, I was ecstatic. "Clockwork Angel," the first ID book, came out in summer 2010, I read it and loved it with every ounce of my literary heart. I loved it more than my five-star-favorite MI books.

A few weeks ago, the second ID book, "Clockwork Prince" came out. I had to wait until I finished a college application to get at it, which I just did last week. Now I am reading "Prince."

Oh my.

*takes a moment to collect her thoughts*

Reading "Prince" isn't like being obsessed, when suddenly you're a lunatic and feel jittery and want to tell everything in sight about the story. It's much more beautiful than that.

Reading "Prince" is like slipping into a cool pool of water in a hushed, glowing wood and finding a treasure chest among the reeds. It's a hard-to-describe mix of smooth elegance and tightly-packed excitement.

Reading "Prince" makes the whole world look different. I see everyone as a character and want to conduct myself as a heroine. The house seems more beautiful and promising and food is a barely remembered necessity. My thoughts form themselves more neatly.

"Prince" is the kind of book you gracefully cannot put down. It's the kind of book you taste and smell and feel. It's the kind of book you wish would never end, because you don't want to live life without those characters in it.

While reading, I've gasped and squeaked and widened my eyes and bitten my lip and covered my mouth and laughed more times than I can count. Cassandra Clare is an artist, weaving characters and scenes so blindingly beautiful that I have to read some pages twice.

I love the characters, much more than usual, even for me. I love both the boys equally, differently, and painfully so. I feel for Tessa, who's completely, exactly like me. If I mutter something under my breath, she says it in the next sentence. If I think of a plan, Tessa has the same one. If I think I'd be afraid of something, Tessa confesses she is as well. If I realize something, Tessa realizes it on the next page too. If something never occurred to me and I suddenly feel like an idiot, the same thing shortly happens to Tessa.

Being so EXACTLY the same as the heroine of the story makes this trilogy, in some ways, more exciting than anything I've ever read. It's just as if I were in the story. I never feel frustrated at Tessa, as I usually do with book girls, because I understand and agree with everything she says or does. It's like being in the story; it's like seeing and feeling and choosing for myself. It's wonderful.

But it's not just Tessa that I love. I feel for all the characters; I don't have author-contempt for a single one. Clare hasn't tossed out any two-dimensional doozies the whole story and every person has a distinct voice. You don't hear Cassandra Clare in the book; you hear Will and Jem and Tessa and Magnus.

I know this has turned into a rant, and this isn't even a review since I'm not finished with the book. I was just taking a break from reading to grab a shower, but I had to get out my feelings. They were rushing and rolling and feeling so tangible that I had to do something with them.

I may come back later and read this and groan, closing my eyes and shaking my head at myself. I might think I was being stupid and dramatic and feel embarrassed for having published this post. But right now I just want to share with you how amazing I feel reading this story, and hope that you might read the books some day too.

~Stephanie

Saturday, December 24, 2011

One...

Savior born.

Merry Christmas, guys :)

~Stephanie

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tis Two Days Before Christmas

'Tis two days before Christmas
And all through my home,
The family is chattering,
not a member alone.

My dad's making jokes,
while my mother just grins.
And my grandma stops by
just to nag me again.

Sarah is showered
and ready for bed.
While I try to shake songs like
"Noel" from my head.

The lamps in the windows
are all shining bright.
And the sky arches smoothly
to hug the cold night.

Except I am lying;
It's not cold at all.
It's fifty degrees,
which is average for FALL.

But the lamps are quite shiny,
that much is still true,
And nearby I see presents
In red, green and blue.

In my room is some proof
it's my year for the cross.
And I'm chatting of Santa
to my friend Aaron Ross.

{I hope it's okay
that I just told his name.
I'm sure he won't mind
all the sure-to-come fame.}

But back to the ev'ning
of Christmas I share
with my family and dog,
full of loving and care.

My room is all jolly
with Santas and things
And I've even got tinsel
which glitters and clings.

Upstairs in the hall
hang the pictures of me
and my sister each Christmas
in front of the tree.

The fire is roaring
And though it is gas,
I shrug off it's faux-ness,
in its heat I bask.

The stockings are lying
all neat on the floor
Just waiting to be filled
with goodies galore.

My tummy is full
of rich chocolate fudge
I'll eat it all day
{'Til I'm given a nudge.}

My house is so pretty
and festive and kind.
We're all happy inside
So the heat we don't mind.

A warm Christmas is fine
if that's what God picks.
{And Matt won't get stuck
when a flagpole he licks.}

What matters this year
Is what's inside your heart.
Just live, laugh and love.
I think that's a good start.

At first when I came
to the computer to write
I had no intentions
of poetic delight.

But I stared at the post
with its yawning white face
and I knew that a poem
was right in this case.

So I hope I've done well
and concluded this right.
Merry Christmas Eve Eve
and to all a good night.

~Stephanie

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Three Christmas Traditions At My House
1. The Open House: The second week in December, my mom and Sarah start baking insane amounts of goodies. They have a schedule of what to make when, so that they could tell you which batch of cookies will be in the oven on Wednesday at 2:47pm. The second Sunday in December from 2-5, as many people as possible come to our house and eat all the delicious treats. It's awesome.

2. Baby Jesus: We have a manger. It's wooden and baby-sized and my dad made it when I was like one or something. Every year, it sits empty on display until Christmas morning when a doll appears in it--Baby Jesus. When I was little this was one of the most exciting traditions to me. I would check the manger every day, and be so thrilled when on Christmas, Baby Jesus had finally come.

3. The Cross Collection: Every year, someone different in my family makes a Cross in secret. There are four people in my family, so ever four years it's my turns. You can make the cross out of anything you want, however you want, but it should mean something to you. It should symbolize something that happened to you in the past year, or a revelation you had, or something that changed. The person works on the Cross during December, not telling anyone what it is. When the Cross is finished, it's wrapped up like a present and put under the tree. The maker gets to pick someone to open it on Christmas morning.

The Cross tradition is especially exciting to me right now because this year is My Year. My senior year and I get to make the Cross? How cool is that? I may tell you more about this later, because I'm really happy with my idea.

~Stephanie

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Wise Men Busted

Thanks for following, Jillian!

{1} After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem {2} and asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

{9} After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. {10} When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. {11} On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Do you see the part where it talks about the THREE Wisemen?

Me neither.

See, people always assume that because there were three gifts, there must have been three Magi. But the reality is, the Bible doesn't actually say. We just know there was more than one wiseguy, and they brought three presents to Baby Jesus.

Who was, in fact, uh, not a baby anymore.

*shocked face*

"On coming to the house..." *buzzer sound* Jesus was born in a stable. The mention of him being in a house suggests that it was a while after Jesus's birth when the However-Many Wisemen showed up. Mary and Joseph had relocated to somewhere a little less animalistic to raise the son of God.

To me that makes more sense anyway, because the star the Magi followed wouldn't have appeared until Jesus was actually born. I mean, the star was said to represent a king's birth, not his due date. So the Wise Men didn't see the star in the West--

Hm? Do I have it wrong? Was the star in the East?

In verse 2 up there, the Wise Men do say, "We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

And then there's...

*hums The First Noel*

"They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East beyond them far."

We've come to think of the star being in the East because of that song, and sometimes because of the Bible verse. But guess what?

That's not what the Wise Men meant.

The star was leading the Magi to the West. The Wise Men were IN the East, probably somewhere around Iraq, I believe. So when they say "We saw his star in the east," they don't mean the STAR was in the east; they mean that THEY were in the east when they saw it.

The Not-Such-A-Baby-Anymore Jesus was westward in Bethlehem, near Jerusalem. So yeah. The Star was in the West, the Magi were in the East.

And there you have it. Three commonly known "facts" about the Wise Men busted.

So, with only four days until Christmas, I'mma give you this:

FOUR WISE MEN :D

~Stephanie

Santa

The past couple of days have been quite good. I've actually been getting some school work done, and before I noticed, I'm almost finished for the break. When has THAT every happened?

Today I did another thing I've never done before:

I wrote a letter to Santa.

Why have I not done that before, you might ask. What kind of failed childhood did I lead?

Reasons Why I Have Never Written to Santa:
- I hate writing letters
- When I do write letters, I forget to mail them.
- I did not believe in Santa as a child.

When my dad was little, he believed in Santa. However, there comes a time in every believing child's life when the parents must have that hard conversation about the existence of the nice old guy who sneaks into children's houses on Christmas Eve. My grandparents told my dad that Santa Claus was not really...real.

It crushed my dad. He felt lied to and betrayed. He felt that he could no longer trust his parents. If they had so faithfully lied to him about Santa, why should he believe them when they said talking to strangers was dangerous? Or that one shouldn't pet stray dogs? Or that it was necessary to look both ways when crossing the street?

Because of that deeply traumatic experience, my dad was very determined that his children would not believe in Santa. Although I missed the magic of the reindeer and North Pole and elves, I think my dad made a good call. My sister probably wouldn't have had a problem with being abruptly disillusioned at some point, but I think I would have reacted the way my dad did.

God knows I have trust issues enough already. Imagine what I might be like if the rug of my parents' trust had been yanked out from under me in third grade?

*shudder* Merry Five Days 'Til Christmas, y'all. I'll let you know if Santa answers my requests, although I'm not sure they fit the description of what the jolly old elf is allowed to bring.

~Stephanie

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sixxxxxx...

Days til Christmas. I am so sorry I cannot think of what to post today. It hasn't even been a bad day, I'm just really not in the mood right now. O.o I apologize. Here's to the prospect of tomorrow.

~Stephanie

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Seven Songs

There is only one week until Christmas. It comes faster every year. This year in some ways it feels like it came too quickly as usual, but in other ways it feels like it's been Christmastime forever.

Until yesterday, I had only listened to Christmas songs ALL. MONTH. LONG. That is pretty impressive in my opinion. However, on the way home from celebrating Christmas with my aunt yesterday evening, I was scrolling through my iPod and was hit by an overwhelming thirst for non-Christmas music. It actually felt like my soul was parched for music.

I put together a playlist of all the songs I just felt like listening to at the moment and listened with closed eyes. It felt like drinking water. I love music. I didn't realize how dehydrated December had made me XD

Still, Christmas songs have a special place in my heart {with glaring exceptions like Christmas Shoes, a song that should be forbidden and wiped from all memory} so I decided to post seven personal favorites today, with Christmas exactly seven days away.

1. I Celebrate the Day ~Relient K
2. O Come O Come Emmanuel
3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
4. Merry Christmas, Here's to Many More ~ Relient K
5. Good King Wenceslas {RELIENT K VERSION. You have to listen to that XD}
6. Christmas This Year ~ tobyMac
7. First Noel ~ tobyMac and Owl City

~Stephanie

Saturday, December 17, 2011

All I Want for Christmas...

8 Things I'm Asking For:
1. iTunes cards
2. Nail polish
3. Books {of course}
4. A Batman T-shirt
5. Chuck season 1 {I love the show, but I just now thought of this, so I'm not holding out hope that I'll get it.}
6. A gift card to the Fresh Market
7. An As I Lay Dying hoodie
8. To submit my application in to Wake Forest {seriously, mother, I can do nothing more until you get my transcript in order}

That was the hardest list I've made in a long time. I had NO IDEA what I want for Christmas. My stomach is now in knots because I have so much trouble thinking of anything. Good grief.

~Stephanie

Friday, December 16, 2011

I Hate It When...

9 Christmastime Pet Peeves:
1. When people say "happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."
2. Bad Christmas movies
3. The breakouts that come with too much chocolate.
4. When people freak out about abbreviating Christmas as "Xmas." It is not crossing out the Christ. It comes from the Greek letter chi, which is the actual symbol for Christ.
5. Staying up too late and feeling terrible the next day.
6. Having to resist red and green M&ms. {I LOVE M&Ms.}
7. Feeling like a terrible person because I suck at thinking of presents.
8. The drama that always seems to ensue at Christmas parties.
9. Missing Christmas specials D:

~Stephanie

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Positivity

Ten Things I Love About Christmas
1. Music
2. Christmas trees
3. Decorating my room
4. The Open House {my mom makes a jillion goodies and a jillion people stop by and eat them with us}
5. Seeing how everyone in the neighborhood decorates.
6. Christmas brunch
7. Giving and getting presents
8. Christmas specials on TV
9. NO SCHOOL
10. Getting to act like I'm 6
~~~~~~~

~Stephanie

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And There Were Eleven Days Until Christmas...

"Merry Christmas" in Eleven Languages:
Irish - Nollaig Shona!
Spanish - ¡Feliz Navidad!
French - Joyeux Noël!
Greek - καλά χριστούγεννα!
Chinese - 圣诞快乐!
Hungarian - Vidám karácsony!
Dutch - Prettige kerstdagen!
Norwegian - Glædelig jul!
Italian - Buon Natale!
Polish - Wesołych Świąt!
Elvish - Ná merye i turuhalmeri! {Not sure how this one is accurate...I Googled it.}
~~~~~~~~~
Guys, something weird is happening. Something, really, really, really weird. And I don't even mean that in a funny way. It's really strange.

You know that blogger that I hate? That blogger I despise with every bone in my body? That blogger that ripped me off? That blogger I would applaud for keeling over and quitting? That blogger I wish everyone would universally hate? The blogger whose blog I read faithfully even though it monumentally pisses me off? You know that one?

Well.

As I said, I read this person's blog like a complete psycho, an OCD lunatic. I check it EVERY. DAY and hate it more all the time. {This has to be unhealthy.}

But yesterday something weird happened:

The white-hot hatred and revulsion fell away.

It actually crumbled, leaving me blinking at the computer screen like a second-grader with dust in her eyes. It was like a crumbly brick wall actually pelted down around me. It was like I could literally hear it and feel it. It was really, really weird.

And all the sudden, I LIKED this person. I felt for them. I respected them. I wanted to interact with them, read the blog, and care about them as a person. I commented from my heart.

I have no idea where the 180 change came from. I have no real reason to hate this blogger any less, but I do. I don't hate him/her at all now.

I think it's God. He's been giving me all kinds of revelations and mental shifts lately. It's really weird, and really cool.

But yeah. I don't hate this person anymore. I expected the absence of abhorrence to feel like a void, but it doesn't. It feels like a burden lifted. How...weird.

~Stephanie

The Magic Box {dream}

10.25.11

Momma and Daddy and I drive to a hotel to see the Browns {Randy, Cindy, Zack}. When we get there, there’s a black tie event going on in the ballroom, which has bleachers all along one side and windows on the opposite, so we can look in the window wall and see everyone seated across on the bleachers. But it’s black tie and we’re not dressed up so we can’t go in.

Same dream, same setting, but now Momma and Daddy aren’t with me. I’m with like maybe two other people, I think both guys but I dunno who they are. We’re spying on some guests at the hotel, or maybe trying to steal something from them, or maybe both. Actually, I think we’re trying to steal this magic box.

For whatever reason, we climb up like a trellis and onto the porch of one of the hotel rooms. From there we sneak into the bathroom and spy on the people and actually kidnap a baby. The kid is a baby sort of, but it’s really intelligent so it talks and knows what’s up. I get the baby and climb back down, but for some reason I have to keep going back up, maybe to spy or maybe to fix things that I did wrong, or something.

We eventually got the box too, and started messing around with it, like “Haaa, we got it!” and showing off with it to each other. But it was a stormy night and one time when we activated the box lightning struck at the same time and the box was like *ZAAAAPEXPLODEFREAKOUT* and we were like OMG WTF.

A little while after that we got caught by Coal-esque person, either a hotel guard or a rival spy.

Turns out, there was a legitimate reason we were instructed not to use the box: we didn’t know its power and instructions well enough. It’s never supposed to be used on a stormy night because it has a weird and dangerous reaction with lightning.

~Stephanie

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On the First Day of Christmas...

Do you guys realize there are only 12 days until Christmas?? :D

From the time I was born til a few years ago, grandma would do the Twelve Days of Christmas for us. She would send us a huge bag of wrapped presents every year, and starting 12 days out, we would unwrap one every day until Christmas. We got lots of cool little things like gum and candy and notebooks and pens and socks and sometimes MUNNEH.

In honor of that tradition, I've decided to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas with you guys :D

Lemme say up front that there will be no giving of actual presents, unless you count the gifts of unspeakable joy and excitement I bring to your lives.

I realize that Twelve Days of Christmas usually starts with one present and works its way up to 12, but that seems backwards for the way I want to do it. I'd like it to be more like a countdown. So I'm going to start with 12 and we'll enjoy the days as they come until there are ZERO DAYS LEFT AND IT'S FRIGGIN' CHRISTMAS :D

{I turn six the second it hits December, I swear. Then and whenever anyone mentions "Disney World."}

So. Without further ado, I give you

TWELVE STEPHANIE SANTAS.

I got that little guy in the middle from my grandma's mantle :) I saw him and told her I collected Santas, so she let me have him.

I love him. My mom gave him to me last year.

His feet are a bell :D

These guys are salt and pepper shakers. The craft lady wouldn't let me buy just one, so I have twins. The Polly is Cassandra and she's just chilling there because I can't remember where I actually keep my Pollys.

His face changes when you push the green button on his tummy XD

I made that house. It used to be a white box.

Don't they make a cute couple?

He hangs from my blinds. As you can see.

He has a snow globe stomach, but the water is now yellowish and the glitter is stuck to the bottom. Fail.

And there you have it. 12 select Santas from my large collection :D

~Stephanie

Monday, December 12, 2011

Traditions

My family has a lot of them. The Valentine's Day "Heart Trail," the Thanksgiving "Cousin Picture," the New Year's "Sparkling Cider," the watching of the various holiday specials that come on every year, and, today's topic:

Christmas Dollhouse, which should be taking place as you read this.

Every year this time, I get out my plastic Fisher-Price mansion and Sarah lugs out hers, and my mom gets out the blocks. We lay out all the people and furniture and go through it like a draft. Sometimes things get a bit testy, like when Sarah tries to pick Jack. JACK IS MINE. HE'S ALWAYS BEEN MINE. Or when I try to get the bed that has actual box springs, because that's technically Sarah's and she could take it if she wanted to.

But in the end when all that's left are the undesirables, we go off and set up our houses. Sarah and I arrange furniture, my mom builds her family's living quarters with blocks and random things around the room. {Her houses are always the best, even though she has nothing to work with.} We all assign our characters names, ages and personalities, set the timeline a week before Christmas, and get going.

There is usually a Christmas special.
A college-age sibling usually come home.
Usually the kids visit a park, made from the Playground Equipment paraphernalia.
There is usually a dollhouse-sibling fight.
There is always Christmas decorating of the dollhouses, done by the dolls.
And there is always, ALWAYS a Parade.

We each take a shoebox or a plastic tub and decorate it for Christmas. {I have a Santa collection, so I usually share some of them for the cause.} The shoeboxes are dollhouse parade floats. We also make extra floats and put the reject dollpersons on them so they don't feel left out.

Then we connect the shoebox floats with string and tape and attach a dollhorse to the front. We pull the horse, and the whole freakin' parade moves, just like with real flesh-and-blood people parades.

The last dollhouse scene is Christmas Day, when the kids are happy and the presents are opened. {Oh yeah, we wrap dollpresents too. Little teensie CD players and balls and TVs in real wrapping paper.} It's always very jolly and adorable.

Then we clean up and look forward to the next Christmas.

I don't care how far I go, or how busy I become, or how old I get. I am coming home and we are playing Christmas Dollhouse every year. Maybe one day my daughters and nieces will play with us.

But, hey, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

~Stephanie

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Laundry

It's kind of an ordeal for me.

My parents used to nag me about doing laundry all the time. "DO LAUNDRY ONCE A WEEK. HOW MANY TIMES DO WE HAVE TO TELL YOU?" The answer was always "clearly at least once more, although if your bellowing were justified I might actually listen."

To this day I do not know why my parents are so emotionally invested in my washing clothes in a timely manner.

For one thing, they aren't their clothes. They are not the one who have to resort to those ugly socks with no elastics left or that shirt that's too short or those cheap ugly jeans. It does not affect them even a little. In fact, they might allow themselves to get a kick out of the fact that my laziness is coming back to bite me in the ass. But no. They must nag me.

For another thing, my parents don't know what I wear. They don't seen to realize that I wear pajamas at night, sweats in the morning, jeans when I tutor, hott stuff out, and exercise clothes to dance. Yes, I have not washed clothes this week, but I have also not worn anything long enough to merit the DIRTY label.

Now, what I CAN understand is the way I wash clothes being annoying. I always separate my loads into Light and Dark, so it takes at least two rotations for me to get finished with the washer and dryer.

Then there's the fact that 80% of my clothes do not get put in the dryer; I hang things up with those great clip hangers so they won't shrink or get noticeably less soft, so there are usually about 30 fewer available hangers when I do laundry.

I have been known to leave my clothes hanging in inappropriate places, for instance, the edges of the bar or possibly the living room mantle. I have also been known to leave them drying there for slightly longer than necessary, i.e. two or three days.

But still, taking all of this together you would think my parents might have APPRECIATED my procrastination. The fewer times I did laundry, the more often they could rest easy knowing they weren't going to wake up to the fifteenth coming of my camisoles in the kitchen.

But no. They must nag me, something I will probably never understand until I have a stubborn daughter of my own, and at the moment I can't see understanding even then. But you never know. It could happen.

Now, of course, I am seventeen, and much to old to do childish things like put off laundry until I have three loads to do and must resort to borrowing my sister's underwear.

...

*wince* Okay, well, at least we wear the same size.

~Stephanie

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Book Review: Inheritance

Title: Inheritance
Author: Christopher Paolini
Stars: 3.5
Less-Than-500-Word Review in Short: After three books of set-up, the story of Eragon continues in this fantasy book full of occasional brilliance to come to a sloppy, unsatisfying end.
Back-of-the-Book: “It began with ‘Eragon’… It ends with ‘Inheritance.’

Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chance.

The Rider and his dragon have come farther than anyone else dared to imagine. But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaesia? And if so, at what cost?”

I Say:
I read “Eragon” and “Eldest” after seeing the movie in 2006 and LOVED them. I bought “Brisingr” the day it came out. It was monumentally disappointing: full of filler, conceited word usage and a poor plot construction. I thought Paolini was going downhill, so I didn’t expect much from “Inheritance.”

Initially, the book lived up to my low expectations. The plot moved unnecessarily slowly and was chockfull of straight-up filler. I hoped the bunny trails would come back to mean something in the end, but they didn’t.

About page 300, things started happening. I got excited. The characters developed tremendously; I found myself genuinely interested in people I had hated or not cared about before. Pages 300-700 are GOLD. I read “Inheritance” for 6 hours straight Thanksgiving night.

But then came the ending. Bountiful loose ends, disappointing climax, unsatisfying resolution. I sat in my chair blinking as I read the last hundred pages thinking WTF.

Firstly, it was about the longest “ending” I’ve ever read. Secondly, if you’re going to make it so effing long, have some damn pay-off! Paolini alludes to so many mysteries during the series, and keeps it up through “Inheritance.” But does he explain himself? NO.

Then there are loose ends he NEEDLESSLY CREATES in “Inheritance,” then doesn’t address. And most of them are EASY FIXES, GUYS. Like legitimately ONE SENTENCE could have addressed them effectively; Paolini just didn’t bother. I can think of 7 ends that remain a shoddy mystery.
Then Paolini fixes stupid ends that no one cares about or remembers. Remember in “Brisingr” when Quimby gets killed because of Roran and Quimby’s wife vows revenge? Yeah, I didn’t either. But Paolini wastes 3 pages taking care of that one, by golly.

Ultimately, it was a book I am glad to have, and will probably read again because I love Eragon and a few other characters now. But really, it was poor writing and an needlessly unsatisfying end. This might be a good first draft, but Paolini’s editor needs to be shot.

I Liked:
- The middle: great character-development, gripping story, action, romance.

I Didn’t Like:
- Almost complete failed resolution.

Audience: “Inheritance” is PG or PG-13, just for the violence and a ridiculous implied scene towards the end, but no one too young for those aspects would ever wade through the story anyway.

This book is definitely worth the read, but be prepared to have unanswered questions.

~Stephanie

Friday, December 9, 2011

Being a Writer Again

I read Blue Like Jazz a few weeks ago. It was a pretty good read. A lot of it was boring and trying-too-hard-to-be-funny, but some of it was helpful. One segment I absolutely LOVED.

The author, Donald Miller, is, obviously, a writer. In chapter 16, he perfectly puts into words what it feels like to be one.

"Writers don't make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don't work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck's book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealousy, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch facedown and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man's stupid words. And for this, as I said before, we are paid a dollar. We are worth so much more."

I laughed out loud for like five minutes straight. He pretty much summed it up right there.

~Stephanie

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Cast

You've been reading a lot about the Fire Fairies now, so I figured you might share a least a modicum of interest in this.

There's this little nine-year-old girl at my church named Maddie. I've known her since she was about one. Having literally grown up with me, she knows all {ish} about the fire fairies. She was even one for Halloween one year, which I found enormously flattering.

Last week at church, we stayed late and I ended up creating intricate doodles of the names "Ember" and "Coal." She knows about them, and we got to talking. After a while she asked me,

"If it were a movie, who would you get to play Coal?"

That really got me thinking. I had considered the thought before, but YEARS ago, before I knew hardly any actors or even how to find them. So Maddie and Cassidy and I sat there at the table, coloring pictures, and puzzling over the cast of my story.

Maddie suggested Taylor Lautner, which wasn't a bad suggestion at all. I even considered it for a moment, but he wasn't right. Taylor's face is sharper than Coal's, and Coal's eyes aren't so squinty.

She thought of Robert Pattinson, who was a resounding NO with a gag reflex.

It wasn't until Maddie had left that the perfect Coal-actor came to mind:

Jeremy Sumpter.
I about fell down. He is the perfect Coal. He has Coal's sexy, mysterious face; his mischievous, piercing eyes; his slouchy, panther-like body. If I had to pick an actor for Coal, it would be Jeremy, hands down.

Of course why stop with Coal? Maddie's question sparked a new obsession with me. I went home and began madly Googling for the rest of my characters. It was difficult, and I'm not satisfied with all of them, but it'll do for now XD

Ember - Willa Holland
Willa looks daring, confident, and proud here, not one to be pushed around or even show much emotion. Originally I had Willa as Firefly, but after everyone's vehement suggestions against who I had as Ember, I decided Willa fits her better. Best decision ever XD She grows on me as Ember every time I look at her.

Firefly - Taylor Momsen

Firefly, Ember and Flare are sisters. I think I did a pretty good job of finding actresses that look like they could potentially be related. Although Firefly has brown hair, Taylor Momsen holds the sharp, controlled beauty and authority Firefly also has.

Originally, I had Taylor Momsen as Ember. Everyone I talked to who knows the stories said NO to that. Sarah said Taylor fit more with Firefly, and I really started to agree.

Of course, sometimes Taylor Momsen looks like this.

Which isn't Firefly at all. But you take what you can find XD

Flare - Victoria Justice
Flare's real-life counterpart would probably kill me if she knew I'd picked Victoria Justice to represent her. I didn't see it coming myself, but when I saw this picture, I stopped. I can see Flare in her. The mischief, the boldness, the hint of shyness around the corner... It's all there.

Comet - Chloe Grace Moretz
I think I got Comet about right. The cute, impish, almost stubby face of Chloe fits hers. Of course, Comet is a redhead, but I can easily imagine Chloe as a carrot top.

Flicker - Emmy Clarke
I had Ellen Marlow for a while, but I was really dissatisfied with her. I stumbled across Emmy just today and love her as Flicker! She has the sharp-featured sweetness and naivety of Flicker.

Sparkle - Kay Panabaker
Kay seems very alive, energetic and enthusiastic, just as Sparkle is. I'm pretty happy with this selection.

Star Dancer - Eden Sher
Poor Eden XD She gets to portray the irritating gossip that everyone loves to hate. Star Dancer CAN be a fun fairy to be around, but more often than not she ends up ticking someone off. I think Eden has the nosy, "off" kind of pretty look of Star Dancer.

Flame - Hunter Parrish
God, he's hot. But so is Flame, even though he's not a very likable character. Hunter has the sharp, pale, dangerous air that Flame shares.

Blaze - Taylor Lautner
I'm not sure about this. The more I think about it, the less I'm sure. Hm. No. Blaze is dark, yes, but not so square, and his eyes aren't so squinty.

Smolder - Frank Dillane
Smolder isn't a main character at all, but I see him as Frank Dillane. {Tom Riddle, in case you were agonizing over where you know him from.}

Caroleena - Abigail Breslin
Ah, Caroleena. You haven't met her yet, because I haven't rewritten her yet. She's a beautiful Woodland elf girl. Ember hates her.

Darbon - Jimmy Bennett
You haven't met Darbon either. He's Caroleena's younger brother, so he's also a Woodland elf.

Pyros - Freddie Highmore
Pyros XD He's one of the Fire Lord's pages. I don't remember if you've met him or not. He's extremely minor.

And last, but certainly, certainly, certainly not least, the Fire Lord.

The Fire Lord - Ralph Fiennes
I actually forgot to cast the Fire Lord. Like, he completely slipped my mind. Sam's the one who remembered, and suggested Ralph, and he's PERFECT.

Does he look familiar to you? Look at his eyes. Yeah. It's Lord Voldemort. I know it might seem cliche that he's exactly how I pictured the Fire Lord, but in my defense I wrote the Fire Fairy stories long before Harry Potter crossed my mind XD

So there you have it. The Cast of the Fire Fairy Story :) Hope you found this interesting and helpful. I always like to be able to put a face to characters.

~Stephanie

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Growing Up with Myself

{This was called Fears, then Me, then Growing Up with Me}

Every person is different. I am the only ME there has ever been, and ever will be. Ever. My mind works differently than anyone else's. No one else has the same collection of likes, hates, talents, dreams and fears.

I've been trying to understand myself better lately. I mean, I'm going off to college in less than a year, and I think it would be great if I had some idea of the person I'm supposed to be. {I've actually tried to do that for years, but it's obviously never been as urgent as it is now.}

When I was little, I had it pretty much all together. I liked books, talking, playing pretend, Jesus, and the concept of orphans. I wanted to be the first woman president, an artist, and an astronaut. I also wanted an older brother.

As the years wore on, I gradually matured. I was okay with that. By age 10, I had decided that I liked books, talking, playing pretend, the concept of orphans, Jesus, writing and elves and languages and dancing. I wanted to be an orphanage keeper, the first woman president, and an author.

And then I hit 12 and had the typical identity crisis. Books didn't cut it, I didn't have anything good to say, I was too old to play pretend, orphans was a weird thing to like, and Jesus seemed far away. I didn't know if I was good at writing. Elves and languages were labeled nerdy. Dance was stressing me out. I still wanted to be a writer, but that was way in the future and didn't really apply to me at the moment.

I spent the years from 12 to about 15 clinging desperately to the of the imagination I thought was fading. I was self-conscious about myself and playing pretend was inching its way out of the question. I did not want to grow up. I wanted to stay 12, or 13, or 14. I really, really, really did not want to be 16. In my mind, 16-year-old girls were the epitome of shallowness and giggles and sparkles and everything I didn't want to be.

But I turned 16 anyway.

That year was insane. I cried a lot, I laughed a lot, I wore a lot of makeup, I wore a lot of nail polish, I obsessed a lot over my image, I wrote a lot of emo journal entries.

But it still wasn't exactly what I'd feared.

I still had an imagination. I had been so sure it was fading. I just knew that if I didn't hold onto it with every tooth and nail, it would slip away. Maybe the holding on helped, or maybe I was just borrowing trouble, because my 16-year-old mind came up with stuff every bit as good as my paranoid 12-year-old one.

I still loved books and writing and playing pretend, even if only in my mind. I still loved elves and languages. I still loved Jesus and there was no denying that the concept of orphans still fascinated me. I wanted to be a writer and a lawyer.

I really wasn't that different from who I'd been my whole life. I wasn't shallow or giggly or sparkly. {I couldn't drive either though. Bummer.}

In short, Sweet 16 was outrageously overrated. It wasn't sweet in the sparkly sense, and it didn't suck in the...suckfest sense. It was basically just one more year: the big milestone I had been dreading for four years.

Now I'm 17, which I was really looking forward to. Odd numbers sound more interesting, and 15 was really good, so I figured 17 would be too.

I'm not done with 17 yet. But it's almost done with me. I have about two months left of it before I'm, like, a legal adult. {Lawl.} I'm not sure how I feel about that honestly. 17 sounds so good. It's like the perfect age. You can drive {except I can't, but as a general rule I mean}; you only have a year of high school left; you're old enough to make your own choices and young enough to have help from parents. It's great.

It is.

Really.

Hm.

Who I am at 17 is very different from who I was at 16. I'm not as naive. I'm not as emotional. I'm not as judgmental.

I like books, writing, dreams, dancing, languages, elves, eyeliner, fire fairies, Jesus, minor keys, and hott guys.

I want to be a writer, a lawyer, a mom and maybe a kindergarten teacher.

I know a lot about myself now, more than ever. But sometimes I still like that I don't know WHO I AM. It's a learning process, and as soon as I figure it out, I change again.

I'm pretty sure this is a lifelong project. We change a lot. We grow often. Who you are today isn't the same person you were yesterday, and there's no guarantee you'll be this way tomorrow. I think I'll have to be satisfied with that. I'll just have to love myself the way I am right now, and be excited to find out who I'll be tomorrow. I have to believe that I'm special and God made me this way on purpose.

Because after all, I'm the only ME this world is ever going to get.

~Stephanie

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

6 Italian Guys {dream}

10.26.11

Sarah and I were at this park, but it was like downtown at the same time. We parked the car at a lot similar to where we park up the hill at the soccer field and went to the park. There was like a bridge like on the highway, and perpendicular to the bridge was a brick wall, high enough that I had to jump up and haul myself over it with my arms if I wanted to see over it. If I did, then I could only see people's feet who were standing on the level ground because there was an iron railing. That doesn't really make sense, but in dreams, nothing does.

We were just chillin', not really having fun exactly. It was more like we were running or hiding from something and had decided to stop there. We had bags on us, like my black duffel and cheetah print bags. Maybe we were running away. Somewhere along the line, a bench appeared on our side of the brick wall, and at the end of the brick wall on, far down from where we were was a door. Just like a normal door, but the wall ended with the door, and there wasn't, like, a roof. So it was just a useless door that you could just walk around if you wanted.

I was sitting on the brick wall, texting or something, when I saw the six guys coming to the door. I tried to tell myself that they were just people at the park like Sarah and I, but they looked like trouble. They were probably 19-20ish, Italian and attractive. But they scared me immediately.

They walked through the superfluous door and sauntered over to Sarah and me. I was still on the wall, Sarah was standing on the ground. The guys started small talking, you know, what's up, how come you girls are here alone, kind of creepy stuff like that. They all sort of made a semi circle around me and Sarah, Sarah's back to the wall. I typed 911 on my cellphone, just in case things got weird, but I was still trying to convince myself that I was overreacting.

Then it became obvious I was not. The guys jumped on me and Sarah, trying to drag us with them. I hit SEND on my cellphone, but then the phone got knocked out of my hand. I struggled against the guys who had my arms, trying to get away. I knew cellphones had trackers in them, so I didn't really need to say anything on the phone, the police are supposed to come no matter what. But then I remembered reading somewhere that the #1 way to get an emergency response quicker is to give your location. So I started shouting it at the phone:

"THE LIBRARY! THE LIBRARY!" Only then I remembered that that wasn't the name of the library. "THE (blank) COUNTY LIBRARY IN (blank)!"

I don't think it worked, because the guys theoretically got us into their hotel room, which looked exactly like where we'd been the whole time: beside the cement bridge and the brick wall with the stupid door and iron fence.

The guys were outside the door, standing on level ground so that I could see their legs if I hiked myself up the brick wall. They were plotting what to do to us. Sarah was just sitting around like a lump on a pickle this whole time, not even upset. She was completely indifferent about the whole thing, looking at me like I was retarded, overreacting to the whole thing. It pissed me off, but in a situation like that I could afford to have my mind occupied by anything but an escape plan.

"Go look out the window {which was looking through/under the bridge} and see if our car is still there," I told Sarah. She meandered over like she thought it was the stupidest thing ever and turned around, lip curled, eyes rolling.

"Yeah."

"Good." I started packing, which was risky because some of our stuff was on the brick wall, meaning that if the guys were looking our way, they would see me grabbing stuff and potentially know what we were doing. Of course, I had to risk it. As I got the stuff, I got the unnerving feeling that they were watching the whole thing, knowing what was going on, and not doing anything--yet. It made me feel like a mouse to their cat, a rat in a maze.

But then they did do something. They started for the door.

"No!" I squeaked. I whirled at Sarah. "Go! Lock the door!" She just kind of looked at me like, No, you do it. "Sarah! GO LOCK THE DOOR. THEY'RE COMING."

She went over and grudgingly locked the door, whining, "Nooo, they'll be mad and make us runnnn." {I think they'd been threatening us with stuff like that before.}

I ignored her. So long as the door was locked.

"Hey, open up!" demanded one of the guys. "You better get over here right now!"

I was done packing. I grabbed Sarah's hand and we went out the window. I think we climbed onto another balcony and then through that room into the rest of the hotel. I was running around, desperately trying to find an elevator. We had to get to the roof, because that was a) the only safe place from the guys, and b) it was the way to get to our car.

Couldn't find an elevator, so decided to take the stairs. Suddenly David is there holding the door for me, his arm in a sling. I was inexpressibly relieved to see him.

"Come on!" I said, motioning him frantically. He frowned and pointed at the glass walls around the stairs. Anyone in the hall could see everyone on the stairs. Meaning that if our kidnappers started down the hall to look for us, we'd be spotted for sure. I was stricken, and out of plans. "What do we do then?"

"Go down," David said, pointing. Perfect! The kidnappers knew we needed to get to the roof to get to the car. It was the last thing they'd expect. We ran down the stairs, top speed, and finally out of the hotel and back into the downtown area. From there we...I'm not completely sure. I wanna say we went back to the car, but I know more happened. But I did realize one thing:

"Sarah!" I cried. She wasn't with us. "David! How could you leave Sarah?! How could you not tell me she wasn't with us?!" David made his annoyed/baffled face.

"I didn't know she was with us! Why are you yelling at me? Why didn't YOU keep up with her?"

The question was so valid that I just caved in on myself. Then I woke up.

~Stephanie

Monday, December 5, 2011

{dreams}

It would not be an exaggeration to say I am somewhat OBSESSED with dreams. One of my most-asked questions of my friends is, "Have you dreamed lately?"

I find them completely fascinating. What does my mind do when I'm not thinking about it? What's my subconscious up to? Dreams let you see, study, and understand yourself in ways that you CANNOT do when you're awake. They reveal your true colors, your deepest fears, your most buried desires, and all the things you've been processing recently.

I once dreamed that I was in Narnia, and I sold Aslan out. That really bothered me and my struggle to build loyalty, honor and courage have grown since.

I once dreamed I got my back sliced open by an Uruk-hai {Weird Eragon-LotR hybrid dream) and the only way to heal me was to give my sister to the Uruks. My parents voted to give up my sister. I've been more protective and vocal to praise her since.

I once dreamed that my husband cheated on me, then forced me to have an affair myself so I could have a chance to be happy. I still have not shaken that uncomfortably desperate, betrayed feeling.

I once dreamed that freaky Russian lady kidnapped my friends and threw them over a cliff into a raging river.

...yeahhh, that one didn't have much of a life-application.

Your mind is like a huge computer, and dreams are a way to hack it.
Your mind is like an endless supply of video games that are new every night through dreams.
Your mind is like a window to your soul that you can peer through with dreams.

You have nightmares that are psychological, or gory, or, tragic.
You have wishes that are embarrassing, or enlightening, or surprising.
You have scenarios that are helpful, or confusing, or inspiring.

There are so many types and uses and feelings of dreams. I just find the whole concept absolutely enthralling. You may already know that I love nightmares {with the exception of Searching Dreams}.

I dunno. Dreams are like the closest thing we have to magic. Anything is possible.

And the coolest part is, when it's over you just get to wake up.

~Stephanie

Sunday, December 4, 2011

12 vs. 17

My NaNoWriMo story this year is something I've actually been working on for about five years now: the fire fairy story.

It's undergoing a COMPLETE rewrite, so much so that the original first two books have been combined, and some of the major story elements have done a 180. Plus {theoretically}, I write better now than I did at age twelve.

It occurred to me that it might be fun to read over an excerpt from the old story and compare it to its age-seventeen counterpart. Then I had this crazy idea that you might find that interesting too.

Hence the title of this post.

Of course, you may think that's the stupidest, most boring and unnecessary thing ever, and if you do, that's cool. But stop reading because we all know I'm going to post it anyway.

2007 Excerpt: Sparkle has been poisoned by the Fire Lord, and the only hope is Coal.

Shhhhh!” hissed Ember. “Don’t say a word.”

“I’m not!” snapped Flare impatiently.

They were sneaking up to Coal’s hut. The whole little “village” where the Fire Lord’s men lived was still very dark, since it was only about five forty-five on the morning. The huts were made of a damp, ugly stone. The streets were a nasty looking coble stone and not at all homey.

“That’s the one,” pointed Flare. “That’s Coal’s house.” The two crept up to the door and knocked on it.

“Go away,” came a muffled voice. It was unmistakably Coal’s. Ember winked at Flare and turned to the door. She deepened her voice and said,

“Coal, this is Flame of the Fire Lord’s guard service. You were to be promoted to head guard instead of spy, but if you won’t come out-” The door was flung open. Ember grinned. Coal sure was a sight in the morning!

“Grrrrrrrr!” growled Coal. As you know, he hadn’t slept very well. “What the devil are you doing here, Ember? And you, too, Flare!” Ember took a deep breath.

“Let us in first,” she requested firmly. Coal rolled his eyes but he let them in.

“What?” he demanded. “If Flame or anyone else really does come, we’ll all be in huge trouble if they find you; so hurry up!” Ember opened her mouth to say why they had come, but Flare beat her to it.

“Sparkle’s dying of the Fire Lord’s death poison and we need your help!” she blurted out.

“Are you mad?” laughed Coal. “No way!” Flare deflated completely.

“Oh please, oh please, oh please, Coal!” she begged. Coal grinned. Apparently, he liked the feeling of being begged.

“No,” he replied plainly. “If the Fire Lord really did poison her, I shouldn’t and won’t interfere.”
“Interfere!?” huffed Ember loudly. “The only thing interference has to do with this is the end of the word: fear! You’re afraid!” Coal glared at her.

“Am not, little sparktress!” he snapped. “Now get out, both of you! I’ve got better things to do than talk about some stupid, dying, sparktress entertainer.”

“We’ll tell on you if you don’t help Sparkle!” threatened Ember. “I swear we will, even if we go down, too!” Coal stared at her.

“Tell on me?” he repeated. “You got nothing on me.” Ember raised her eyebrows.

“Oh no?” she replied. “You let us off the hook, didn’t you? We’ll tell the Fire Lord you didn’t report us. You’ll get in huge trouble!”

“If you don’t get out of here and stop bugging me, I will tell!” Coal yelled. “Anyway, it’s his most trusted spy’s word against a treacherous entertainer’s. Beat it!” Ember looked down.

Coal was so wonderful; how could he be so terrible as well? She raised her head and met his eyes.
“Please,” she whispered. Coal’s eyes hardened and he looked away. Ember sighed quietly. She motioned to Flare and they silently tip-toed away.
~~~~~~

2011 Except: Same idea, gone about almost completely differently.

Ember stayed. She trailed her feet through the dust, dragging her toes. She studied the dirt, tried to see every grain. She traced swirls in the street with her toe. She smiled as she thought of Coal, how he did that. She frowned at her design. His were better. She sighed.

She did not want to return to the Palace. She swallowed hard and looked up at the sky. She did not want to hear Sparkle’s screams and not know what to do about them. She did not want to stand between Comet and Firefly. She did not want to be reminded that Coal would not see them.

“I don’t want to need him,” she breathed.

“You don’t need to want him,” came a smiling voice. Ember gasped, her skin jumping. She didn’t turn.

“Why do you always do that?” She sounded annoyed. “Why don’t you come up in front of me just once?”

“My presence must be eased into,” he said. She could feel him smirking. “I can’t thrust it on fairies all at once. It might be too much for them.”

Ember forced down a smile with grave thoughts of Sparkle. “We need you.”

“Of course you d—”

“No, Coal.” Ember did turn then. The dark sparker was leaning against someone’s house, his eyes blue and unreadable. His lips and hands were relaxed, but his body as a whole hummed with alert energy. When Ember turned, his expression only grew more distant. Instead of smiling, his raised his eyebrows. Ember shoved aside her personal feelings and shook her head seriously. “We need your help.”

Her tone made Coal stop leaning on the cottage and stand straight on his feet. He met her eyes with a solid intensity that made Ember’s heart beat quicker. After a moment, he nodded. “Come with me.”

They left the Servant Village, walking to the edge where they often spoke. Coal put out a hand and stopped Ember with a firm hand. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Sparkle,” Ember said, gently pulling away from his touch. “She’s been burned. With halaris.”

Coal’s eyes widened and his brows arched. “Halaris? I’m sorry?”

Ember’s gaze sharpened. “Don’t, Coal. Blaze told us.” Coal watcher her closely. Ember gave an exasperated huff. “Coal, why would I lie to you?”

Coal tilted his head. “Because you think I lied to you.”

He’s right, her thoughts murmured. Ember swallowed. “I do. But I wouldn’t do the same, Coal.” Her eyes tightened. “I would not lie to you.”

She saw Coal’s composure waver for a moment, his eyes showing flickers of feeling. “I see.”

“Halaris,” Ember repeated. “Sparkle’s writhing in pain as we speak, Blaze says she’s going to die. He says there’s nothing to be done.” Her throat constricted, hot tears burning their way to her nose and eyes. “I don’t believe that. I don’t believe there’s nothing to be done.”

Coal smirked. “He speaks the truth.”

“And you’re a loyal spy,” she hissed, viciously sarcastic, eyes flashing red. Coal’s eyebrows rose challengingly. But before he could utter another word, Ember went on. “Don’t tell me there’s nothing to be done when you’re looking at me like that, Coal Blazings.” Her temper rose; her eyes grew scarlet. “You think you’re the best spy there is; you think no one can read your face; but I know you.” Her eyes flashed. “I know you more, better than, differently from any other fairy in Jeolotoe.” Her eyes narrowed sharply as she took a step forwards Coal. “Don’t tell me there’s nothing to be done.”

Coal blinked. Silence stretched between them. “I can’t help you,” he said.

Ember stared at him, studying his face. He was no longer smirking at her. “What do you mean?”
“I mean what I said.” Coal looked away with a shrug. “The Fire Lord deals out punishment as he sees fit. I cannot, and will not, interfere.”

Shock peeled Ember’s eyes wide. “You don’t mean that.”

“Don’t I?” Coal suddenly looked at her with a face like lightning: sharp, intense, quick and searing. Ember looked at him with a guarded expression.

“You…don’t.”

Coal raised an eyebrow at her. “I won’t interfere. I’m sorry, Ember.”

Her mouth opened slightly. “Interfere? The only truth in that is the end of the word: fear. You’re afraid.”

“You’re damn right.”

They stared at each other. Ember shook her head. “But there is something to be done? There’s something we don’t know? Something you aren’t telling me? And won’t tell me?”

Coal nodded thoughtfully. “Yes; I suppose that’s what’s happening.”

A small wounded sound came from Ember’s mouth before she could stop it. A trace of regret flickered in Coal’s eyes.

“I can’t, Ember,” he said, letting his eyes go teal. He reached for her, but she flinched away, anger flaring across her features. “Ember…” His voice grew soft and low. “I can’t risk that. You don’t understand what’s at stake.”

“I very well do,” Ember breathed. “Sparkle’s life.”

“No,” Coal barked. “All our lives, and the lives of every citizen under the Fire Lord. Perhaps even more than that. If I expose this, we—”

“I understand,” Ember murmured. “Sacrifice the one for the good of the many.” She refused to meet Coal’s eyes until he moved towards her again. Then she shot him a fierce, accusing glance and struck his hand away. “We don’t know the many,” she said. “But we do know the one.”
“Someone knows the many,” Coal said, brow furrowing. He shook his head, dismissing the conversation. “No, Ember. Go back to the Palace. I can’t. I’m sorry.”

“If you were sorry you’d do something,” Ember said. An edge of desperation pushed its way into her voice in spite of her efforts. “Coal, please.”

“Go back to the Palace. I’ll walk with you, I’m going that way.”

“I’d rather not, if you don’t mind,” Ember said stiffly. She swallowed, trying to loosen the muscles in her tightened throat. “I think we’re going different ways.”

Coal studied her face with wary eyes. “We are…”

Ember took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “I’ll see you later, Coal.”

Coal nodded. “The same.”
~~~~~~~

~Stephanie

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Screaming


Scream (v): to utter a loud, sharp, piercing cry.

Screaming is a rather fascinating and diverse idea. You might scream when charging into battle. You might scream when a spider falls on your face. You might scream when you step on a nail. You might scream when your sister jumps out at you.

There are many occasions on which screaming can be acceptable, and arguably fewer on which it is appropriate. And everyone is different.

I have a friend who will scream at everything. You can come up to you and say, "I am going to scare you now." And shout "BOO!!" And she will scream.

Then I have another friend who could walk through the woods in the fog in the black of night during a new moon among the hoots of an owl and the howls of a wolf and have Satan jump out at her and she would keep silent.

Personally, I find there are very few times when screaming is appropriate. Screaming annoys me. It makes me want to relieve you of your vocal chords.

But then things get all ironic.

People who know me would definitely not classify me as a screamer.

However people who REALLY know, me would.

Yes, I am a screamer. And it bothers me.

I didn't used to be like this. Up until I was about thirteen, you could throw a Batarang at my head and I would blink, duck, and ask What The Hell Was That For? But somewhere along the line, I became a real screamer.

It's not an emotional response, and it's definitely not an attention-seeking one. It's really more of a reflex. The sound issues from my mouth without thought or control. It's involuntary, yes, but no less obnoxious.

Cassidy stuck a cold spoon on my arm in class one day. *SCREAMS*
A man at the Renaissance Festival threw a marshmallow at me. *SCREAMS*
The second-grader I tutor jumped out from behind a door at me. *SCREAMS*

That last one was really embarrassing by the way. I think the kid was more freaked out than I was. He really hadn't pegged me for a screamer at all.

I wish I knew where this tendency came from, or at least why it suddenly evolved. Was I traumatized and just don't remember? Maybe I've suppressed the memory.

For whatever reason, I am a screamer, and I'm determined to rid myself of this horrible habit. I'm not really sure how to go about doing that, but I plan to tackle the Cold Screaming first. Cold hands, cold spoons, cold glasses, cold toilet seats will be my first hurdle in tackling this great weakness.