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Saturday, December 3, 2011

My "Accent"

Ooh...more quiz results. I'm intrigued about my accent. :P
What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The South
The Northeast
The Inland North
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thoughts on the First Two Years

I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about the last two years lately.  About the quaking twenty-year-old freshman who walked into Columbine Hall on my college campus two years ago and the girl I am now. 
  When I started college, I had been homeschooled all of my life and had taken a year off to work and decide what to do next.  I liked who I was and didn’t want to change.  I wanted to stay set in the same ways like a petrified mummy in an ancient tomb. When people told me that college would make me a different person, I couldn't deal with that idea.  It terrified me.  But now I’m well over halfway through the process of getting a bachelor’s degree, and I know I'm different.  Something new has emerged, meshing together the child I was and the adult I am becoming like velcro.

God has brought me into this grand adventure filled with new people and situations and made me stronger and wiser—and better able to love other people as Jesus would.  My homeschool education gave me all the tools I needed to succeed in a university atmosphere and consider various worldviews, but actually being on a campus during the day has given me experience in being out in the real world while still living at home. 
  The past two years have brought more challenges and required more daring than I ever thought possible.  I had classes with two of the most difficult teachers I’ve ever studied under, but they were used to mold me and show me that I could indeed do hard things.  Prof. Pellow and Prof. Ruminski actually became my two of my favorite teachers ever because they taught me so much and pushed me to the limit so I could discover just what I was capable of doing. 
   At the end of last spring semester, I was sitting in the shade of some pine trees one day about noon, looking over toward the clock tower.  I glanced at some of the people strolling by on the sidewalk and realized that I at leasDSC07307t recognized the faces of about half of them, even though there are several thousand students at my school.  I knew then that this was my school, too, now—where I belonged. 
So now I’d just like to share a list of top ten highlights (in no specific order) in my “college experience” for my freshman and sophomore years. 

Top 10 Best Experiences

in my first two years of college
  1. Hearing Prof. Pellow explicate and discuss in-depth the possible meanings in “The Windhover” by Gerard Manley Hopkins in my Literary Criticism class.  I’d wanted to hear this poem explained since my senior year of high school.
  2. Getting an A in Prof. Ruminski’s General Chemistry II class! 
  3. Convincing Prof. Laroche to read The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. 
  4. Taking my dad to Dr. Martin’s Composition II class about the Sixties. 
  5. Being invited by Prof. Ray to take her Jane Austen Senior Seminar when I was only a freshman. 
  6. Getting published in riverrun, my school’s literary arts publication, and reading one of my poems at an open mic event for my friend Melissa’s class.
  7. Writing my final paper for Intro to Literary Studies on Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
  8. Having one of my Freshman Seminar profs, Dr. Martinez, tell me on the first day that homeschooled students usually did the best in her classes.  Definitely gave me a needed boost of confidence!  :)
  9. Discussing “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti in Prof. Taylor’s Nineteeth-Century British Literature class. 
  10. Meeting and getting to know two awesome writing buddies, Melissa and Cynthia, through having classes together.
  11. And one more just for good measure: Discussing the Canadian Western Genre one day after class with Dr. Worden.  :)
The photographs of Professor Pellow and Professor Ruminski are copyrighted © University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He whispers, "I love you."

You know those moments when God grabs your attention? Seems like it usually happens when you're not expecting it and you feel wholly unprepared. At least if you're like me.

I've been in a sort of introspective mood lately anyway, just thinking about things more deeply than usual. Not depressed - just rather...pensive. And I think I have been learning some things that I wouldn't have noticed if I had been going about my routine as usual.

One of these moments was while I was driving home from school a week or two ago. I was listening to the Christian radio station I always have my car stereo tuned to, and it came on with one of those advertisement/announcement clips. This one was trying to retell the Easter story in a few minutes with a dramatic movie preview sort of feel. Toward the end of it the announcer person was saying something like "From the cross, He lifts up His head" and my mind was filling in the usual "and uttered a victory cry" or "and shouted that it was finished" or something more stereotypical. Instead, the announcer continued, "and He whispers (and here the speaker's voice changed), 'I love you.'"

I nearly broke down crying right there driving down Union Boulevard.

But I was in a hurry, going somewhere, and so I blinked back the tears. But the moment stayed with me. All through the past few days, especially this Easter week.

He whispers, "I love you."

(A drawing I made way back in spring 2001.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Modern Supermen

I finally got around to writing a poem last month that I'd been meaning to write since last fall in a poetry project on CleanPlace. The prompt Nia gave us one week was the following: "Write a poem that responds to a song. Do not quote the song! Write about how YOU respond to the song."

I've been thinking lately about heroes in modern literature and television and the differences and similarities between our heroes and epic heroes sung about in ballads like in medieval and ancient times, such as Beowulf or King Arthur. So, partly because of that, I'm responding to "Superman's Song" by a Canadian band called Crash Test Dummies.

The song's lyrics are available online, but I'll post them below as well. It aired in the pilot episode of Due South in the late '90s - a show I loved as a kid and I still love to watch it on DVD now. In the episode, the song is used to draw the parallel between comic-book action heros and Benton Fraser, a modern-day Canadian Mountie from the Territories living in downtown Chicago. There is a YouTube clip of the where you can hear the song as it appeared in that episode over here. My poem is posted just below the song lyrics.

"Superman's Song"

Tarzan wasn't a ladies' man.
He'd just come along and scoop 'em up under his arm like that,
Quick as a cat in the jungle.

But Clark Kent, now there was a real gent.
He would not be caught sittin' around in no junglescape,
Dumb as an ape doing nothing.

Superman never made any money
For saving the world from Solomon Grundy,
And sometimes I despair the world will never see another man like him.

Hey Bob, Supe had a straight job.
Even though he could have smashed through any bank in the United States,
He had the strength, but he would not.

Folks said his family were all dead.
Planet crumbled but Superman, he forced himself to carry on.
Forget Krypton and keep going.

Superman never made any money
For saving the world from Solomon Grundy,
And sometimes I despair the world will never see another man like him.

Tarzan was king of the jungle and lord over all the apes.
But he could hardly string together four words: "I Tarzan, you Jane."

Sometimes when Supe was stopping crimes,
I'll bet that he was tempted to just quit and turn his back on man,
Join Tarzan in the forest.

But he stayed in the city,
Kept on changing clothes in dirty old phonebooths 'til his work was through,
And nothing to do but go on home.

Superman never made any money
For saving the world from Solomon Grundy,
And sometimes I despair the world will never see another man like him--
And sometimes I despair the world will never see another man like him.

Song lyrics ©1991 by Crash Test Dummies

My poem:

Modern Supermen

Citizens gaze up into the misty blue,
searching for a ripple of red cape.
Yet the sky is silent and colorless.
No theme blares for a hero.

Below, one man still patrols the street in scarlet.
One man guides weathered old women
across the blaring, smoggy intersections.
One red spot in a sea of gray suits—
a flash of crimson in the sky.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fifteen Feet from a Fox

About a month ago on February 3rd, I stood within about fifteen to twenty feet of a wild fox behind my backyard during a snowstorm - the closest I'd ever come to one of those sleek, elusive creatures, even though many of them live in my neighborhood.

That afternoon, I went to let our two smaller dogs, Charlie and Molly, outside, and both dogs ran to the edge of the fence, barking. I followed them and looked down into the little greenspace behind our backyard. It's like a tiny valley with four huge pine trees on a hill in the center, and several of the houses on our street back up to it. And this is what I saw.

I dashed inside to get my camera and crept through the gate and along the outside of the fence. Tiptoeing down the hill, I edged closer and closer toward the fox. He had just caught a squirrel and was eating it.

Once I had gotten within about fifteen to twenty feet of him, I could hear bones crunching every time his head bent down toward his meal. Something shivered inside me to see a fox eating his latest kill, but at the same time, the wind rustled through his silky fur while the thin veil of snowflakes fell between us. He was beautiful. I wanted to reach out and stroke his burnished fur, but did not dare.

The last two pictures I took as I took a couple steps forward are my favorites. In the first one, his molten brown eyes gazed at me as if calculating precisely who I was and what my purposes were. Snow sprinkled on his back like glitter.

In the second one, he licks his lips almost like a dainty aristocrat wiping his mouth after dinner.

Then I took one step too close, and he sprung up the hill above me and settled down to finish his meal and observe me. In this shot, my neighbor's house is in the background.

I felt inspired and awed at the same to stand so near a wild thing, and I feel like a poem about the experience is brewing in my mind. It's not something I'll forget quickly, if ever.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CP AAP III Project - Part 2

Okay, just for you, Celeris. Post two. :P

Thunk, Thunk. Thunk, Thunk.

Sarahi twitched her right arm and rolled over on her side in the grass, feeling the tingling of the dewy spikes against her skin. Her eyelids quivered.

Thunk, Thunk. Thunk, Thunk, Thunk. The sound was closer now. A man hummed and then whistled almost under his breath, blending in and yet distinguishable from the morning songbirds. She blinked, trying to remember why she was sleeping under a bush.

Kathunk, Kathunk, Kathunk. Two shiny black hooves glinted in the morning light not three feet away from her head. Sarahi flinched, rustling the surrounding leaves. The rider stopped whistling, and the hoof beats ceased.

The rider’s brown leather boots appeared on the ground between the front and rear feet of his ebony mount. Sarahi’s heart pounded. No use running now.

A hand lifted back a branch, and a bearded face peered back at her.

“My lady?” he asked.

Sarahi parted her dry lips to scream, but could not find her voice. It was as if it had floated away on the light breeze.

“Are you Sarahi?” he asked again.

“Yes,” she whispered.

“My lady, I represent your kinsman and I have come for you. But we must hurry now to put distance between ourselves and the invaders. I will tell you all later.” He extended his arm, covered in burnished chain mail, and offered his gloved hand. Her fingers trembling, Sarahi grasped it.

She stepped out into the sunlight, brushing dead leaves and dirt from her skirt. The knight swung her light frame up into the saddle of his black steed and then mounted in front of her. He clucked to the horse and they trotted off along through the thicket. Sarahi held on, her arms around his metal-clad waist.

He did not speak for several leagues, and kept looking back over his shoulder. Every so often, he changed direction and avoided following anything that looked like a footpath, heading into a thicker part of the forest.

About half an hour later, after they crossed a shallow brook, Sarahi felt the knight let out his breath. He glanced back at her and smiled. He said, “Well, I suppose you are wondering who I am. Now I’ll give the proper introduction I couldn’t give you earlier, m’lady. I am Johcyn Ranvir. The noble Shacol Wardant, Lord Sarwil—my lord and your kinsman—sent me to seek you and bring you to his castle so that you can be restored to your proper place and receive your inheritance.”

Sarahi studied his face, his dark brown beard and hair cascading over his shoulders, and his blue-green eyes, calm as the mellow ocean waves she remembered dancing around her feet as a child.

Johcyn said, “I’m very glad to have found you. When my companions and I arrived at Evandav late last night, we found the whole village in smoke and a band of Lawrshans marauding the place. I thought you might have been killed or captured like the others, so my men and I spread out over the countryside to look for you.”

Sarahi felt her cheeks warm. “Thank you—”

A long, dark streak whizzed above their heads and struck a tree across the brook. Johcyn turned in the saddle and pulled her down closer to him. He studied the dense clump of trees to their right, his eyes narrowing. His right hand wandered toward the hilt of his sword, and he tightened his grip on the reins in his left hand.

“Is that you, Johcyn?” a rough voice said. Sarahi drew in her breath.

“Thorold!” Johcyn said. “You know never to shoot unless you can see if your opponent be a friend or foe! I’m going to have to redact your badge of knighthood if you do something like that again, man.”

“I’m quite sorry, captain,” Thorold said as he tumbled out of the leaves and into the sunlight, a bow in his hand. “I mistook you for someone else and got a bit nervous is all.”

Johcyn sighed. “You are too easily made nervous. Where is your horse?”

“With Peremar. He’s made a little camp a league or so ahead,” Thorold said, slinging his long yew bow over his shoulder. “I can lead you there.”

Releasing her breath, Sarahi settled back into the saddle again, enjoying the rhythmic sway of the stallion’s gait and the warm rays on her back as they stepped out of the shadowy trees and rode along the edge of a dandelion-spotted meadow. The golden wildflowers reminded her of home. Did Petehjas and Mari survive the raid? Her stomach twisted at the realization that they likely didn’t. She tried to push away the thought of the soldiers’ bright spears and the houses flaming in the moonlight.

“We’re almost there, not too much further,” Thorold said. The group was heading deep into the forest again. Sarahi noticed how the flickers of shadow and light played on Thorold’s reddish-brown hair. His round face made him look as if he should still be a squire. To her, Johcyn seemed at least several years his elder.

Johcyn led the horse through narrow spaces between trees and undergrowth. Brown leaves crackled under its hooves, and the light continued to dim even though it was only midday. Sarahi smelled a faint tinge of smoking meat.

“Here we are,” said Thorold.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

CleanPlace Adopt-A-Plot III Project :)

At the end of last semester, the teen/college age writer's forum I'm a member of, CleanPlace, had an extra-credit project called Adopt-A-Plot. It was the third time they had offered this particular ECP, and I was really excited to do it because members who'd been on there several years had done it before and it looked really fun! Everyone who wanted to participate posted three or more plots for other members to choose from, and then you chose someone else's and wrote a six-part short story, with each part being between 800-1000 words.

Since it was at the end of last semester and I was under a time crunch with schoolwork, I ended up not being able to finish the project by the deadline, but now I'm working on it as I have time. I'm enjoying it quite a bit! It's fun to develop a fantasy world. :)

I decided to share the first part of my story on here. :)

The last low notes of Petehjas’s panpipe hovered like a resonating mist in the warm, airy moonlight over her head. Sarahi lay on her side in her narrow cot under the open window. Marirya told her that even as a young girl when she first came to them that she’d curled up in this little corner of the attic.

Nestling under the colorful, roughly woven patchwork quilt, Sarahi wriggled in her homespun shift. She liked its grainy feeling—it sometimes made her think of those blurred early memories of going to the coast land with her parents and rubbing her bare toes along the sandy shore.

A pair of pattering feet scuffed against the narrow wooden ladder leading up to her room. The fifth rung creaked a little. Marirya peered up into the loft. Her dusky brown hair, sprinkled with gray, was bound up in a braid extending over the shoulder of her dull, ashen-colored wool cloak. “Sarahi?” she whispered.

“Yes, Mari?” Sarahi answered.

Tiptoeing up the last two steps, Marirya crept across the room, bending so she wouldn’t hit her head on the low thatch roof, and then plopped down on the end of the bed. Marirya cleared her throat, then paused. She said, “There is somethin'…that you must know. I canna avoid telling you any longer, even though Petehjas wanted me to wait until the mornin'. But then it might be too late.”

Sarahi caught her breath.

The older woman said, “Canna you remember your mither and faither?”

“A little.”

“You were not more 'n three years old when he—they—brung you to us, all bundled up in a sheepskin.” Marirya’s eyes grew watery. “Now you’re a lady.”

“Mari, I’m only nineteen—” Sarahi said.

“—at your age, I was married to Petehjas,” the matron said.

“You’re not saying I need to marry, are you?”

“No, lemme finish. You're not who you think you are. Your parents were of noble blood, and you have kinsmen in this country. Last week, they sent us a message saying they’ll be comin’ for you this week—to take you home.”

Sarahi’s stomach felt like it was being turned on a spit over an open fire. “But this is my home.”

Marirya shook her head. A drop rolled down her crinkled face. “Petehjas and I always knew all these years that we couldna keep you forever. You, dear, have grown too big for this little village.” She struggled to unbend her stiff knees and stand up, then bent over to kiss Sarahi's cheek, and edged out of the moonlight toward the wooden ladder.

“But I want to stay and help you and Petehjas. Who will gather the spices in the garden and take the pots into town to sell at market for you?”

Marirya wiped a shadowy hand against her cheek. “It's not us you must be thinkin' about now.”

Sarahi listened to her slow footfalls fading into the darkness. A nightingale trilled some distance off in the forest, echoing over the hillside. She rolled over and over on her mattress, trying to find a cool spot.

The air hung close and heavy like her woolen mantle in the winter. Sarahi could never remember afterward how long she lay there until she fell asleep.

Sarahi’s nose burned. She rubbed it with her hand. Her lungs ached, and she choked on dense air. Was it smoke? Maybe Marirya burned the breakfast porridge. She opened her heavy eyelids. Silver moonlight streamed in through the window, but the room was filled with thick gray curls floating upward in the breeze.

Jerking back the quilt, the girl snatched up her cloak and scrambled to the ladder. She couldn’t see down into the hut past the smoke, but livid flames rippled down the side wall and along the far end of the roof.

“Petehjas! Mari!” she shrieked. No one answered. Stumbling down the ladder and into the main portion of the hut, Sarahi’s eyes darted around the room. The fire cackled above her.

Then she heard the voices. Rough male voices speaking in a guttural tongue. Could the Lawrshans be invading? The border with Lawrsha was only a few miles from her village, Evandav, but their last raid in this area had been more than eight years ago.

A man yelled, “Alendravich khrizarleb!" She knew enough Lawrshan to understand he was saying, "Find the girl!" Someone kicked at the wooden door. It cracked, but didn’t give way. Sarahi dashed back up the rickety ladder. Clambering over to the window, she looked down into the garden. She didn't see anyone there yet. Gulping in a breath, she leaped.

The ground came up at her much harder than she expected. She lay among the herbs for a few minutes, gasping for air.

Sarahi noticed a faint bittersweet fragrance beside her. Gavrilwort! she thought. She snatched up a clump of the healing herb and stuck it in her pocket.

Heavy footsteps thudded around the corner of the hut. Her heart skipped. She crawled among the garden plants into the tall grasses and underbrush several paces from the house before glancing back.

Brawny, armored men with long spears, carrying shields that glinted in the moonlight, marched around the flaming huts in the village. Her insides sank like a millstone in a river. Where were Petehjas and Mari?

One of the men, who appeared to be a leader, said, “Search the woods! There be a handsome reward for the one that finds her!”

Sarahi crept toward the line of trees a few feet away and then bounded through the tangled forest. Brambles clawed at her legs, and she kept falling and cutting herself on jagged stones.

After she had gone almost half a league, she spotted a thicket of alder trees and underbrush and crawled beneath it.