Friday, January 31, 2014

A Fresh Start

Well that's over.

I just had my first high school finals experience.  

How can I describe it?  Intriguing?  Relaxed-with-a-hint-of-intensity?  Nothing new?

My old school had finals for seventh and eighth grade, so basically with finals I was just going through the motions: studying slightly, pretending to study, and then studying slightly again.  But this time around, there was new hype--after all, this was high school.  The finals were worth fifteen percent, which was five percent more than in seventh and eighth grade, and colleges would look at my finals.  Like, actually look at them.

*freakout mode*

It turned out fine.  I have good grades, I don't have any homework during this three-day weekend, and I'm ready for a fresh start.

Aren't we all?

First day of finals.  Tuesday.  Ohhhh boy.  I had finals in the morning, then twenty-minute periods after lunch for the rest of my classes.  Of course, in the twenty-minute periods, the teachers let us fool around because 1) it was finals, and 2) what were they supposed to do?  Make us do a lesson?  Twenty minutes isn't enough time to teach forty freshmen how to dissect a squid.  First, you have to tell them you're dissecting a squid (five minutes).  Then, you have to say, "Please stop saying ewwww," (which takes a minute).  Then you have to bring out the squids (five minutes).  Then, you have to instruct them on how to dissect the squid, exactly (thirty to forty minutes).

See what I mean?  

Probably the only reason why they had the twenty-minute periods was because of some law about the number of days of school or whatever.


So back to Tuesday.  Tuesday was a good day.  I had English (my favorite subject) and math.  For whatever crazy reason, all of the tests were, you know, multiple choice.

For whatever reason, I did better in geometry than I did in English.


It's a crazy world out there.

Wednesday.  Half-day, a minimum day.  The last day I had to actually study for, because tbh, Careers isn't that hard of a class.

Wednesday was Spanish and bio.  I have to say that it was probably harder than Tuesday, because Spanish and bio aren't my strengths.  Also, I recently figured out that for Spanish, I can recognize words when they're fleshed out there on paper, but when it comes to actually saying stuff, I need my textbook for the vocabulary.

(Imagine me in Costa Rica or Mexico or someplace where people speak Spanish.  Then envision me lugging around my thick-giant-purple-edged public-school textbook, looking up simple phrases like Como se dice? and Eres?)

Well, that's where the whole "multiple-choice" thing comes in.

Biology.  *Ugh*  The subject is interesting enough, but for me, it's not as easy as identifying literary terms.   And I don't exactly have a passion for meiosis and mitosis like I do reading and writing.

The fact that I had a runny nose, I had my glasses on, and my hair looked like a rat's nest didn't help my testtaking skills.  

I managed to eke my way through the entire 143-question final.  (ONE HUNDRED FORTY-THREE QUESTIONS.  Was there ever a more awkward number?)  I did OK--not as good as I would have liked but OK.

In the end, I still have a good grade in biology, so that's all that counts, right?

I made it through!

Later that day, my family had an interesting experience.  Like I mentioned, we're going to Korea in the summer.  And Wednesday was the day we went to get our passports.

We'd already taken the pictures at Costco.  (My face looked fat because we couldn't smile, but who cares?).  All we had to do was go to the passport office and get our passports.  I couldn't stay home and lounge around, because all the people getting passports need to be present.  But still.  It should have been a done deal.  

It took one and a half hours.  (Which is a long time to get a passport).

Once we got there, the lady told my dad that he needed to have birth certificates for all of us kiddos.  So he had to drive fifteen minutes all the way back home, hunt for the certificates, and drive back.  Then he had to get checked with the lady again (took thirty seconds) and had to wait for three people ahead of us to get straightened out (that took a while).  Then, once we were in the office, we had to wait while the guy processed the papers and asked questions and government-y stuff like that.  

It sounds like it kindasortamaybe stinks, but in reality: haha, nope!



*does happy dance*

*oh ye-ah, oh ye-ah, oh ye-ah*

I was at a dry point for SJ (still am, actually, but I'm slightly moist now that I've slightly rested), and I was searching for some new, enlightening reading material.

So I spent the entire time reading.  I checked out exactly two books.  (Not one and a half, not three and three-quarters--two books, guys).  Both of them were pretty good.  One of them was definitely MG--predictable, slightly whiny, and all that, but all in all, pretty OK--and the other was listed in the YA section.  

Thank you, Jesus, that the passport office was in the library!

Afterward we stopped by McDonald's and picked up some grub, went on home, and ate.  

I spent about ten-fifteen minutes studying for Careers, then went to bed.

The next day, I brought along plenty of stuff so nobody would have the chance to talk to me. (A day or two earlier, I had gotten The Question posed on me--"Who do you *like*?"--by some other dude I sit by.  The answer, of course, was extraordinarily creative and definitely NOT typical: "Nobody.") *sarcasm to lighten the mood*

I brought my phone and earbuds; I brought paper to doodle on; I brought my Top Secret SJ folder even though I probably wasn't going to do anything with it.  And it wasn't really that bad.  Clearly the minor annoyance era was gone--thank goodness--although I still dislike sitting by those guys.  

We communicated very little on Thursday.  It consisted of:

One of the guys I sit by asked, Do I look Asian?

The guy is white, and would probably not pass for Asian.  

So I said, No.

Yes, we talk about very, very important matters.

I finished the test quite early--it was very easy--and began listening to Jamie Grace's Ready to Fly.  Pretty soon everybody was done, and one of my friends came over and we started talking.

Interesting tidbit of information I picked up: the iPhone 5S, which she got for her birthday, can record video in slow motion, baby! (Quoting Turbo)

This is what I get for having a Samsung Galaxy SII.

Afterward, I had tennis.

Now, for some reason, the head coach decided that we would do circuits.

When he said that, I died inside.  Literally, died.

*sees gray clouds pile up*

I was complaining up a storm, and when he announced that we would be bumping up a notch to sets of twelve instead of sets of ten, I died a second time.  #YOLT (You Only Live Twice)

*sees more gray clouds pile up*

Then he said that since the guys would start regular practice, we'd be doing circuits less, and only when they had match days.


*finds a silver lining in all the clouds*

That seems utterly insignificant, but my coach decreased our distress with that bit of sunshine.

After the ultimate happiness of that joy wore off, I turned to face the utter reality:

Circuits.  Now.

I managed to complete three sets of circuits without much drama.  As I started the steps part of the fourth and final set, I fell--like the klutz that I am--and landed on my shin on the edge of the step, taking off a chunk of skin that turned to drops of blood.  It also created a giant bruise that hurts whenever pressure is applied (well, that's the definition of the word bruise).

It hurt bad.  And it still hurts, actually.

What's worse, when I started up the next sprint, I found that I was breathing kind of funny--short, quick gasps that somehow didn't fulfill my need for air.

Asthma?  I don't know.  Whatever it was, it wasn't pleasant.

However, I got it over with.  And more silver lining in the cloud: I used up the remainder of my Starbucks gift card and bought a Caramel Flan frap.  Without coffee, of course.

Then I realized that in order to get my fraps to stop tasting the same, I should probably have kept the coffee.

I gradually contracted a headache over the next couple hours, and it got to the point where I had to lie down in my room, huddled under the covers and listening to music.

My mind started to drift as "Beautiful Day" by KJ-52 came on.  The song makes me feel happy, and I could imagine it playing during the part of every movie where everything's going well for the main character.  I envisioned lots of happy activities--water skiing, drinking shakes...and suddenly I had an inspiration.

I'm having a dry period during Snow in July writing.  I don't know...It's just that I'm not quite sure how to involve all of these new ideas into my writing.  It's a huge project--writing a novel always is, I'm sure--and I think most of these problems stem from the fact that I'm unwilling to print all of its pages out.  I've had interesting experiences with my printer (we have a love-hate relationship), and right now I'm scared to waste any more paper.

But as I was laying there, thinking, suddenly, I wondered: Why not make a Snow in July playlist, where the music would evoke the emotions that each section of the story conveyed?  And that's what I did for the next hour or so.  I made a playlist.  I put songs from my playlist into it--OneRepublic, KJ-52, Mat Kearney, Shonlock, Katy Perry, Royal Tailor, Skillet, Switchfoot, and other artists whose selected songs I feel represented each section of the novel well.  I also put the entire thing in chronological order--from when my main character goes to the town to when she has an interesting experience in a government fort to the ending.  The whole playlist idea is probably just be pure stalling, but I like the idea, and it helped me flesh out my novel.  

Speaking of music--I've been working on this post for over an hour now, which is a record--but one last story.  My siblings and I received iTunes gift cards from Elise's family for Christmas.  Andy Mineo's Neverland wasn't on Spotify, so my brothers coerced/convinced/whateveryouwannacallit-ed me into using my gift card to buy the tracks on iTunes.

So I did.  I gave my dad my gift card and spent seven out of the ten dollars on it to buy Neverland (which is seven tracks).  Once I bought it, it went to all of our devices--my brothers' iPods, my iPhone/iPod--and we all started listening to it.  

Literally an hour later, my brother told me, "Neverland is on Spotify."

You can only imagine my reaction when I heard that.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Oooh, Yay, Time for Finals

OK, I have to make this quick because I have to leave for school in fifteen minutes.


I am going to take a blogging break until Thursday on here.  Four days.  I'm not sure if I can make it, but I'm going to try.

The reason for this quick break?  Finals.

I need to study.  Bio, English, geometry, careers, Spanish.  I need to study.  So studying I will do.

I also need to do some major work on Snow in July, and on Skylar O'Keefe (for EntReads).  I should probably edit some more pix for Pix&Portraits.  So, after all that's said and done, I'm going to take a quickie break and bounce right back on Friday (which I have off, so yay!).  

*Crosses fingers behind back*

Wish me luck!  And pray for me :)


Sunday, January 26, 2014

TRAPPED Sunday Serial Part Eight

Part Eight

“Are you kidding?” Mr. Bored asks. “Are you, like, for real? Quit joking with me, Emily.”
“I'm not kidding.” I gulp and step back. My shoe squishes against the concrete. “I've never swum in my life.”
“Oh my gosh.” Mr. Bored groans, and I hear him swimming back. “Why, of all people...”
“I'm sorry!” My voice is shrill. “I've hate water. I almost drowned when I was four.”
My mind shivers at the recollection. It's a hazy memory, but all I remember is pain-gripping terror and the sensation of sinking down, down, down. Not being able to breathe.
I haven't been near a largish body of water since.
I can sense Mr. Bored rolling his eyes. “What do we do now?”
“Can you, like, drag me along, maybe?” I ask, sounding hopeful.
I can hear him shift around in the water, and suddenly I'm conscious of the shouting behind us. It's louder...much, much louder than before.
“At this rate, they're going to catch up to us.” Mr. Bored sounds determined. “We can't.”
We're. Trapped.
In more ways than one.
“We'll have to go by the red lights,” I say dully.
Mr. Bored's silence signifies that he agrees with me. “But she told us that the green lights, no matter what anything may seem like.”
I blink. Mrs. Kennedy's wording is slightly off.
“May seem like?” I say.
“What are you talking about?” Mr. Bored sounds irritated as he stands up, soaking wet. Water rolls off his clothes and skin. “Let's hurry. We have to go by the red lights.”
“Kenneth, I think you should haul me.” My voice is firm and crisp. “She said go by the green lights, no matter what anything may seem like. I'm guessing it's go by the green lights no matter what.”
“What?” Mr. Bored looks toward the direction we came from. “Emily, we're going to, like, be caught.”
“We have to follow the green lights.” My heart pounds at the prospect. “You have to drag me.”
“What about if I go down the green light tunnel and you go down the red?” he asks, still uncertain.
“She said never to split either,” I remind him.
“So it's either get caught with the flash drive, or not follow one of Mrs. Kennedy's directions,” says Mr. Bored.
I'm practically begging. “Kenneth. Please. Just. Listen. And. Trust. Me.”
The voices are distinguishable now. He looks back, then at me. Apparently he can tell that I'm not budging, because he says, “Fine.” His teeth are gritting. “We'll have to go piggyback. I can't drag you.”
Normally, I would shiver in distaste at the fact that I'm riding Mr. Bored's back, but money, and, possibly, lives are at stake here. “Okay.”
He shifts me up onto his back and puffs out a sigh. “Whew, you're heavy.”
I open my mouth to say something, then shut it as the voices get closer. No point in arguing.
We slide into the water, and my brain immediately swirls with thoughts like, You're going to die! What if you drown?! Do you really trust this kid?
He's all I have left, so I have to, I tell them as I take one deep breath and sink underneath. Mr. Bored starts swimming with broad, even strokes, then comes up for air. I manage to inhale one quick gasp—along with twenty other water droplets—before going down.
Panic seizes my chest, but then Mr. Bored comes up for air again. He's on a roll now, and my hands can feel his heart beating fast and furious.
Good to know that I'm not the only one that's scared here.
It goes on for a couple of minutes, and then he coughs out, gasping, “That's all I can do. I need a rest.”
We hear splashing, and shouts.
We look at each other.
We're doomed.
Then he gives a quick gasp of pain. “Ow! My knee!” he squawks, grabbing at it, and in the process, I spill off of his back into the water.
My shriek is cut off by my descent.
My eyes shut of their own accord, and I flail around, a panic attack controlling me. I'm going to die. We're all going to die. I'm going to drown. We're going to lose.
Then my hand whacks something awfully close, and it pushes up of its own accord.
I'm soaking wet. And I'm also standing in two-foot water.
“It's only two feet! Hurry!” I tell Mr. Bored.
I can imagine his facial expression changing, lighting up. “Let's go!”
I begin running, hesitant at first, but as I hear them gaining on us, I pick up the pace and manage to match Mr. Bored's strides. Then, gradually, the floor picks up, and I'm on solid ground, with no water to hinder me.
A cry of joy escapes from my lips as I realize.
I just survived water!
I'm so proud of myself!
I'm soaking wet, but I don't pause to think. I'm running, running, running. My heart's pumping hard and fast. I can feel Mr. Bored lagging right by me, but then, he's just swum. The voices fade, and suddenly I see a pinprick of light in the distance, at the end of the tunnel.
“We got this.” The words spill out of my mouth. Encouragement has never been my strongest suit, but it seems necessary now. He's panting. “We're almost there.”
He just nods, but even in the darkness I can tell his face is red from exhaustion.
Come on, I think. You got this.
The pinprick of light grows bigger, and bigger, until I can see what causes the light. It's a giant room, with hundreds of computer screens on the walls. A giant panel of buttons and levers sit underneath the screens.
The screens show hundreds of different scenes, from hundreds of different cameras, I'm assuming. There are dozens of ones with a bunch of solid-colored guys moving equipment around, several with unsuspecting tourists going on rides, and a couple—I squint—is that Amber? And Mrs. Kennedy? that brown blur Slick? They're battling dozens of her parents' henchmen, and even though they're outnumbered, it's clear: they're winning. Slick is practically a tornado of karate chops.
Mr. Bored hunches down beside me, breathing hard.
“Where's the flash drive?” I ask, holding my hand out and watching on the screens.
Mr. Bored feels in his pockets. Then, a strained look on his face, he groans.
“NO!” I practically scream the word. “Kenneth, you didn't!”
He looks up at me and grins slightly, probably hoping that its whiteness will disable my anger. Haha, nope.
“I can't believe you did this.” I give him my most vicious Glare Stare. “My word, Kenneth.”
“And what's up with the Kenneth stuff, anyway?” he asks, standing up to his true six-foot height. “I thought it was Mr. Bored.”
I push him. “You are so irresponsible!”
I am stinking angry right now. What are we supposed to do?
“I'd rather be stampeded by my little fans that suffer the wrath of Echo,” he says sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “And you're the one who forced us to go in the water.”
“Whoa, the tiger's awake.” He flashes another grin, but it's more uncertain.
“Oh my GOSH.” I sit on the floor, at a loss with what to do. What's going to happen now? I can hear people shouting. We lost the flash drive. We were supposed to come here, use the drive, disable everything.
Well, we got here. But there's no drive.
“Maybe the buttons can do something.” Mr. Bored goes over to inspect the panel while I sit on the floor thinking.
“Wait.” A sudden flash of inspiration soars through my mind. I rush over to Mr. Bored's side and look at the buttons. There are a multitude, yet there's something—a little grid labeled in neat Sharpie. Microphone.
I look up at the cameras, where Slick, Mrs. Kennedy, and Amber are standing. Piles of unconscious henchmen surround them.
“Mr. Bored. Look.” I point to where the trio is standing. “We need to communicate with them. Maybe they know how to disable the system using buttons.”
Mr. Bored looks at me. Then he looks at the screen. Then he looks at the microphone, then me again. Then he says, “Maybe.” He randomly presses the red button sitting next to the microphone. A squawk of feedback temporarily deafens us, and then there's dead silence.
“Wow,” I say, and then hear my own voice say the same thing, magnified a hundred times over.
The henchmen stop yelling in the distance. On the computer screens, I spot flurries of movement: everybody is looking up at the camera.
“Whoa, they can hear us!” Mr. Bored actually sounds excited.
Screaming fills our ears. My heart hangs in midair. What's happening? Did the conspiracy colony people catch up with us?
No. I sigh as I look onto the screen that's smack-dab in the middle of the wall. A bunch of fangirls are screaming “Kenneth Pearson!”
“We've got to figure out a way to wire it so only Mrs. Kennedy, Slick, and Amber can hear us,” Mr. Bored whispers to me.
Even though it's the slightest whisper I could have managed, the microphone catches it, and a bunch of the solid-color-dressed people look at each other knowingly.
And wickedly.
“We don't have time.” I counter his statement. “Amber, Mrs. Kennedy, Slick. Do you hear us?”
All three of them nod, but Mrs. Kennedy is shaking her head violently, like this isn't a good idea. There's an alarmed look on her face.
“Well, what else are we supposed to do?” I ask. “We lost the flash drive, thanks to this guy.” I give Mr. Bored a shove. He says, “Hey!”
More fangirl screams. I ignore them.
Mrs. Kennedy is still shaking her head.
“Why won't you answer us?” Mr. Bored cuts in. “Like, what's the matter?”
Amber looks up at the camera. Then she makes a slitting motion across her throat.
“What?!” I can't believe it. I won't. Today is not my day. “They can't talk or something. Maybe the baddies used gas or something like that.”
Great. Now what do we do?” Mr. Bored's voice still echoes.
Amber is trying to say something, but she can't, obviously. But she's cupping her hand and holding—what? A ball? Her fingers are forming a circle...Wait. A microphone?
And she's mouthing something.
Tell them, her mouth forms.
Mrs. Kennedy's eyes widen with alarm as she sees what Amber's doing. She shakes her head violently, and her index finger too.
What a dilemma. Follow Amber or Mrs. Kennedy? I look back behind us in the tunnel. Voices call, but they're still indistinguishable.
“Amber's saying to tell everybody what's happening,” I inform Mr. Bored.
“In that case.” Mr. Bored leans his voice closer to the microphone. “Hello, everybody, this is Kenneth Pearson.”
Fangirl screams. Mrs. Kennedy buries her head to her knees, crumpling.
“What's wrong?” I ask Amber.
Amber rolls her eyes and puts her hands on her hips—very un-Amber-like behavior.
Phantom FunPark is under attack. Yes, I repeat, it is under attack.” Mr. Bored shoots a sideways glance at me and winks.
I resume looking at the screen, where Amber's flapping her hands around. I squint. Oh, it's sign language.
“I don't know sign language,” I say in the microphone.
“Of all the random things--” Mr. Bored begins, but I cut in over the microphone, suddenly determined to take things into my own hands. “What he's trying to say is, get out of the park before two thousand evil conspiracy colonized men take it over. I repeat, get out of the park before two thousand men take control of it.” I pause, and suddenly, I'm yanked back by a forceful hand. I stifle a yelp as a hand is clapped over my eyes.
Too late.” The voice is raucous and rough, and hot wet breath steams by my ear. “Already have.”

Then I smell something sickly sweet, like cherry cough syrup, and everything goes black.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Glasses Are Not The End Of The World

Life is slightly annoying.

Ever noticed that?  Life is annoying.  I'm sure everybody, one way or another, has faced life's annoyances before.

When I say life's annoyances, I mean events that seem kindasortamaybe majorly bad at the time, but in the grand scheme of things, they aren't.

For example, minor annoyance number one: finals.  They're major.  I'm in freshman year.  High school semester grades actually count.  I mean, colleges are going to look at them and decide if they want me!

But first semester of freshman year?  Haha, they're important, but not that important.  Considering the three day of finals out of the thousands that I'm hoping to live, it doesn't matter too much.  It carries weight, but it's not the final word in my future.

It's a good idea to keep perspective.

Finals are looming over me like a dark threatening cloud, however.  I've been busy, typing up study guides and staring my eyes off at the white pages in front of me, hoping that I'll remember everything on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 

Which brings us to minor annoyance number two

Other kids see that I've typed everything up.  Then they ask for the study guide.

Of course, the ball is in my hand.  I can share the pages that I've spent a couple of hours of my own time typing up, or I can keep them to myself.  It seems to be selfish to keep the pages to myself, which is what I've been doing.  But, if you think about it hard enough, it starts to seem slightly less selfish.  So I've been convincing myself that I've been doing the right thing by thinking this:

1) Finals is coming up.
2) We're all frantically studying.
3) I'm responsible for my studying.
4) So, as person in responsible for my studying, I am going to type myself a little study guide, for convenience's sake.
5) They are responsible for their studying.
6) I am not responsible for their studying.
7) They ask me for the study guide.
8) Again, I am not responsible for their studying.
9) I do not have to give them the study guide if I do not want to.
10) They can type up their own study guide.

Is that selfish?  WWJD?
It's a messed up world.  Why do I always feel so bad when I say no to their inquiries, when I feel like I've justified myself in saying no?  And if I do give them the study guide--it's not exactly fair that I've just spent some of my own, personal, private time typing this up, and they get it without working for it.  

Or maybe I can meet them partly.  I can give them some of the study guide, just for friendship's sake, but not all of the thing, because then that would for them, and for me.

Saying no is hard.  So usually, I don't say the word outright.  I go, UGGGGHHH... and GLUGGGHHHH... and turn my head in a way that implies no.

Freshmen troubles.  *sigh*

Speaking of freshmen, I've been having minor annoyance number three in my Careers class.

It's nothing major, of course--that's why it's called "minor."  But it's major enough to be annoying.

There are several events corresponding to this minor annoyance, so let me outline them for you.

1) There are 8-9 girls in the entire, forty-kid class.
2) I am not sitting by any of those girls.
3) I am sitting by a couple of boys.  The person in front of me apparently takes great pleasure in turning around and staring at me.  (I believe he's just trying to get me to react.  I concentrate on the Angels posters that decorate the room, and so was reminded of Vladimir Gurrero and the Angels' good ol' days.  Man!  I wonder where he is :).  
4) Since it's Careers class, we went through the mock stages of job interviews.  My teacher chose five people randomly; out of those five people, two were girls and three were boys.
5) After the first round of interviews, two boys ended up advancing to second-round interviews.
6) After the boys' second mock interviews, every student voted for one of the two boys to get the job.
7) I voted, along with every normal person in the classroom, for one of the boys.
8) We had to score the boys' interviews on our tally sheets.
9) I crumpled mine up in a ball and threw it into a trash can.
10) The people in front of me decided that it would be fun to see which person I voted for, and, consequently and apparently, which person I "liked."  (Need I point out that there were only two choices, and both of them were boys--so I had to vote for a boy either way?  It was a lose-lose situation for me.)
11) The guy in front of me got out of his seat and proceeded to take a ball of paper out of the trash can, uncrumple it, and look at the results.
12) It wasn't mine. (Thank goodness)
13) He proceeded to repeat the process several times.
14) I had had the unlucky graces of putting my name on my tally sheet.
15) He uncrumpled it and read the "winner" out loud.
16) I have the undeniable joys of being teased for voting for the better interviewee.

Whoop-dee-doo.  Yaaay, high school.  

It's annoying.  I try to pretend to be busy so they don't have an excuse to talk to me.  (My idea of "busyness" is taking a sheet of paper out and doodling all over it.  I make sure to look extra focused, too.  Like I'm going to be a professional doodler.  And my doodles actually look pretty decent.  For doodles).  After the first semester of Careers, we're going to switch over to Health.  Apparently, the Health teacher is a Christian (he wrote a devotional, according to our school newspaper) and he's a pretty cool person.  

Bam!  Can't wait to get to Health, even though the subject's going to be on the interesante side.

Health is apparently very fun.  However, being the opposite of the epitome of health is not.  (Go back and reread that sentence).

Which brings us to

Minor annoyance number four: Glasses.

I'm wearing them as I type.  My right eye apparently decided to glitch, and so now it has the red-streak-thing going on, and when I tried to put my contacts in today, it got irritated and teary and all that good stuff.

Hence the glasses.

It's actually kind of a blessing in disguise, because now I don't care as much about how I look with glasses on at school.  It's like, who cares?  It's high school.  It's not the rest of my life.  When I first wore glasses to HS, I kept on taking them off.  Now, I'm like, Whatever.  They're glasses.  

At least they're not, like, permanent.  (I hope).  And it'll be fun, deciding whether or not to give my eyes a break, without being held captive by the ideas my heart contrives.  According to my heart, I look better without the glasses on.  But according to the new voice that's sprung up in my brain, the glasses add character to my flat facial features (haha) and besides, they're kind of cool.  

The minor annoyances of life.  They aren't everything in life.  Not by far.  Actually, the minor annoyances of life make life life.  

Finals?  They determine some of your future, but not the whole thing.  And it's God Who writes our stories--and ultimately, everything is in His hands.

Saying no?  It's hard, but it's not impossible.

The crush stuff that pepper every high schooler's mouth today?  Gargoyles, the stuff is garbage, and who cares about garbage?  I'm not going to spend time worrying over every little thing that happens to me in that area.

And glasses?  They aren't the end of the world.  

Monday, January 20, 2014



Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

While the strains of "Hero" by Skillet ring in my ears, I will attempt to recount how awesome it is that MLKJ changed our nation.  By his words and nonviolent marches, he helped stamp out the majority of racism and apartheid in our nation.

In the sixties, Martin Luther King Jr. led African Americans in nonviolent protests to repair many of the moral issues our country had nurtured over the years.  His press for peaceful actions led to ultimate government eradication of injustice towards blacks, and wove our country together in the process.

It's amazing how one man can do so much.  How did he do it?  How did he land on the Google homepage, get written into history books, and be forever implanted into the minds of every American?

He spoke up.  He did not compromise his beliefs and refused to back down.  He knew the risks, weighed the consequences, and although his resolve eventually cost him his life, his legacy lives on decades after he was killed.  Thanks to his leadership, African Americans live equally with Caucasians.  Thanks to him, America is a country of united diversity, which sets it apart from other nations.  We're not white or Asian or black or Indian...we're American.  

How did he accomplish all this?

He refused to submit when everybody told him to accept it and move on.  He trusted God--and really, it wasn't Martin Luther King Jr. who did all of this.  It was God.  God used MLJK as part of His plan.  

God uses all of us believers as part of His plan.  OK, so not everybody's going to land on Google for making a difference.  But we all make differences whether we believe it or not.  King's differences just so happened to be recognized by the national public, and although we probably won't be there--we're all used by God to glorify Him, in more ways than one.

Martin Luther King Jr. inspires me to make a difference.  Speak up against bullying.  Help little old ladies across the street.  Even something as simple as picking up something somebody's dropped can move a heart.  Watching my siblings...doing the dishes...helping a classmate with their homework...all of these acts of kindness can make a difference.  While they probably won't make as big a splash as MLKJ's acts, they do make a splash, and they reach further into a heart than anybody could ever believe or imagine.  

God uses these things to draw more people to Himself.  

So I encourage you...

Go make a difference in somebody's life today.  Whether it be giving somebody a hug or praying for that person who's giving you issues, show the love of God wherever you go no matter the reception, no matter the opposition.  Do what you know is right.  Trust in God.  Be a witness for Him.

Just as Martin Luther King Jr. was.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

TRAPPED Sunday Serial Part Seven

Part Seven

Amber freezes.  She drops her phone, and it makes a big clattering sound on the ground.
Then suddenly, I’m aware of footsteps.  Stampeding.  And girls’ voices, shrieking, Kenneth Pearson!”
I glare at Mr. Bored.  “I cannot believe you’re famous!”
I cannot believe you’re blaming me for being famous!” Mr. Bored says.  “I mean, how can they help being all over me?”
I give him another Glare Stare.  Then I turn to Amber.  “Amber, what do we do?”
Amber shrugs as she picks up her phone.
Is anything bad going to happen if we go down the tunnel?”  I really, really don’t want to face those screaming girls again.  And, from the look on Mr. Bored’s face, neither does he.
KENNETH PEARSON!”  The noise is getting louder and louder.
Amber says, “It depends if we get on my uncle’s bad side or not.”
Your uncle?” I exclaim.
Amber shrugs.  (It’s really starting to annoy me.)  “Uncle Fred.  Slick’s dad.  He’s helping me by going undercover and sabotaging everything.”
Why don’t you tell me anything?” I say, annoyed.  “It would help a lot to know!”
More screaming.  Then I heard stampeding.  
I put my head to my forehead.  Then I turn to Mr. Bored.  “What should we do?”
Mr. Bored has a lazy expression on his face.  “Whatever you want, boss.”
Then he snaps to attention.  “I’d really like to avoid, you know, getting killed by a bunch of stampeding fangirls.”
I weigh the odds.  Stampeding fangirls versus enemy territory.  I’m leaning towards risking the stampeding fangirls, but just then, the voice blares up again.  “AMBER TALINA SHARPINA HARTTMAN!”
It’s a woman’s voice, and Slick totally goes berserk.  “Mommy!” he cries, and dives through the tube.
Mr. Bored and I look at each other.  “Let’s go, Amber,” I sigh, tucking my legs under the tunnel.  “Let’s go.”

The tunnel is dark and slick, and there’s a slightly musty odor.  After a full two minutes of sliding, I’m beginning to get nervous.  What’s going on?
Then suddenly I shoot out and land onto a soft memory-foam-type pad and blink in the sudden brightness.
Helloooooo,” Slick says, getting right up in my face.
I relax.  “Hi, Slick.”
Mommy, this is Echo,” Slick says, pulling me up and pointing to me.  I find myself face to face with a pretty red-haired woman in a full black bodysuit.  The rest of the room is dark, except for a spotlight on the huge pile of mattresses and futons.  
The woman doesn’t smile.  “Hello, Echo,” she says.
Actually, my name is--” I begin, but just then, the lady pulls me down from the twenty-one mattresses and says in my ear, “Who are you and what do you want?”
Her breath is hot and wet and smells like wintermint.  I gulp and try not to breathe.  I hate the smell of wintermint.
Yoo-hhoooo!” Mr. Bored calls out, peeking over the pile of mattresses.  The woman relaxes her grip for a moment as she looks up, and I pull away.  “I’m--Echo,” I say, gritting my teeth and looking up at Mr. Bored, “and I’m with Amber.”
Her face doesn’t change, but she doesn’t grab me again, so I’m assuming it means that we’re cool.  
Mr. Bored sails down.  “I’m Kenneth Pearson,” he says, flashing his award-winning smile at the woman.
The woman says, “I’m Martina Kennedy, Sylvester’s mother.  Where’s Amber?”
Before I can register the fact that Slick’s name is Sylvester, Slick and Amber jump down.  Slick lands perfectly, while Amber falls flat on her bottom.  I wince as she sits there, stunned.  
Then she bounces up with a smile.  “I’m fine!”
Whoop-de-doo,” Mrs. Kennedy says sarcastically.  (I decide right then and there that I’m going to like this lady.)  “Amber, what are you doing, bringing civilians into this mess?”
Actually, I’m--” Mr. Bored begins, but Mrs. Kennedy snaps her fingers in his face.  “Be quiet, Mister Pearson.  I don’t need your resume,” she snarls at him.  “I need a man!  A fighter!  Not some gawky kid who barely knows how to act.”
Mr. Bored looks like he’s about to say something, but then he clamps his mouth shut.
We’re part of a rebellion here,” Mrs. Kennedy says in a low undertone.  “A rebellion where people take everybody seriously.  Do you understand?”
I shift from side to side.  “Understood, ma’am.”  I don’t usually say ma’am, but in this case, it seemed appropriate.
It was a rhetorical question, Echo.  All I needed was silence.  Now, my husband was leading your parents’ nasty henchmen away from us, Amber.  We need to take advantage of this and go shut down their main computer, because that's how they're communicating with one another. As we speak, the conspiracy associates are trapping everybody in the park.” Mrs. Kennedy looks fierce as she pauses for a breath. “Kenneth and Echo, you are going to go and shut down the computer.”
I blink. “I don't know how to shut down computers. And besides, I'm not going with Mr. Bored.”
Mrs. Kennedy clenches her teeth. “Do you know how to set off a bomb and escape alive?” she asks in a menacing tone.
I gulp. “Um, nope.”
“Then you are going with Kenneth to shut down the computer.” Mrs. Kennedy pulls a little object thing and hands it to Mr. Bored. “Kenneth, I trust you know how to shut down a computer.”
“Of course. I was born with the knowledge,” Mr. Bored says in a free-and-easy way, shrugging. He takes the object. “Plug this into the port, right?”
“It's embedded with a virus,” Mrs. Kennedy says. “You'll disable their communication system, which should give us a temporary break, because Amber's parents are fool enough not to have a backup system.” She snorts. “Then I'll use my contacts in the Army and have them come over and help us.”
I'm sure my eyes are as big as saucers. “Army?”
Mrs. Kennedy stares at me, hard and long. “Echo, if you're going to earn back the right to be called your real name, you're going to have to stop acting like your nickname.”
I swallow the copious amount of saliva that's gathering in my mouth. “Yes, ma'am.”
“Good.” She leans back, satisfied. Then she walks toward Mr. Bored, who leans back slightly. “Don't you dare lose that drive.”
Then, in a flash, she's by Slick and Amber. “We are going to hold off the henchmen currently heading here. Go down that tunnel and follow the green lights—only the green lights, no matter what anything may seem like.” Her expression is stern and distrustful.
In the distance, we hear thumping and shouting.
“Also. One more piece of advice. Stay together.” She leans forward and zeroes in on my eyes. “Echo, Kenneth will need you. Kenneth, Echo will need you.” She stands up. “GO!”
Mr. Bored and I look at each other, then begin sprinting as fast as we can toward the black hole in the wall.
As soon as I slip into the darkness, my eyes find the flashing green lights along the rounded wall.
“We follow those,” I say, pointing to them.
“No, duh.” I can't see Mr. Bored, but I know for sure that he rolled his eyes.
“Do we keep running?” I ask.
“I think that would be advisable.” Mr. Bored sounds as if he's about to die from an unseemly bout of sarcasm.
Then, “Do you think we're dreaming?” I ask.
Mr. Bored snorts. “Are you actually trying to uphold a decent conversation with me, Echo?”
“No,” I say, “I'm just trying to figure out if this is all real.”
“Why wouldn't it be?” he answers, sounding not in the last worn out. Me, I'm trying my best not to pant.
“Maybe it's just a multimillion dollar front that they're doing to initiate us into a supersecret spy society,” I suggest.
Choked silence from his end. I hear sounds of snickering.
“Whatever,” I say with a sigh.
“What do you do when you're not joining conspiracies?” he asks.
“I read. I watch movies. I do stuff.” I shrug, even though he can't see me.
The floor is dipping away from us, and it's getting slicker and slicker. “Oh no,” I say. “What's going on here?”
The only answer is the splish-splashing of my twenty-dollar sneakers and the sounds of Mr. Bored's grunts.
“Great. We're in the sewers,” I hear him say.
My heart grips with terror.
“No. No, no, no, no. How deep is the water?” I say, trying to calm my breathing down.
“About to my chest, although that's, like, over your head.” Mr. Bored has stopped, and I almost trip over his kneeling form. “There's the red lights way, though.” In the dim light, I see him gesture to our right. There's another tunnel, full of innocently-blinking red lights.
“We have to follow the green ones,” I say, and far behind me, I can hear shouts. “They're after us.”
“We'll just have to swim, then,” Mr. Bored says. He plunks into the water. “Ugh. There's, like, seaweed here.”
More fear. I feel it clutching at my heart, waiting to jump. “Um, Kenneth?”
“Yes?” he shouts back. His voice is loud, echoing through the tunnel. He's already swum a few strokes. “What is it?”
I take a deep breath.

“I can't swim.”