Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SOC / I Know It

The sound of the wind rushing up against the window pane
And the low hum of my computer are all that disturb this flat
the week after my roommates went travelling in mainland Europe
or home for the holidays.
The 2014 year diary by my left given to me by my host family
The Cadbury "Dairy Milk" mug I've used every day all semester
to my right on my nightstand, along with a dirty plate, a tired iPhone, beside them
White Teeth, Angela's Ashes, and You Can Buy Happiness (And It's Cheap).
Lighting the room is my dull, humming computer, and if you can imagine it,
an even duller light from a lamp given to me by a friend I met at international cafe.
"...I don't care, I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me..."
I sat around much too long today and took two dis-solvable Vitamin C tablets
when I usually only allow 1/day. I could have written out "one per day," 
but I'd rather show off that I remember what the / means. Here in the 
United Kingdom they don't pronounce / slash but hash. After all this, 
I'm glad I came for the social and cultural experience,
but I have to say, academically, I taught myself this semester. 
Though I will miss many things here, like the fact that I've been forced
into cultivating a new-found love for cooking; I can spend every season, 
day and night with fresh air wafting through my bedroom window; and
lengthy conversations uninterrupted by a constant running television.
I'll miss how aware of vegetarian diets are the supermarkets and restaurants.
I'll miss the giant windmill outside my window, and the fact that I can see
rabbits all over campus even in December.
To be honest, I'll probably always just associate my semester abroad as
a time of freedom, since this is the freest I'll ever be, without work and
without the kind of course work I'm used to at my home university.
And a relationship? Well, honestly, I was never really preoccupied at all
with the fact that I've been single all semester. I know what I'm looking for 
and I know I didn't see it here. C'est la vie. But I know I'll be ready for it
when I go back home, because I know now that happiness is the state of mind
with which I travel, not the travelling in and of itself.
I also know that I've been saying "I know" quite a lot lately and I don't want
to make the same mistake I did the last time I said it, because I know that was
just this past June and it went a little something like "I know we're only 20
years old right now, but I feel like we both have a kind of grasp on other people
that most don't understand in a lifetime." I was 20 and my ex was 19 
and I really felt that there, lying under a blanket of stars in the back
of his pickup truck, we knew something exclusive to the rest of the world.
What a bunch of geniuses we thought we were.
But I know (ha ha) that it won't take watching a thousand
TED Talks, reading every literature classic, and obtaining a bunch of
college degrees to get to where I want to be when I go home.
I can try, but I know I won't be that genius I thought myself months ago,
and that's okay, because the frustration of that realization
is what makes me who I am. It's my own little flaw, and I know it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Two Magical Species

An alternate ending (fan fiction) to the 1992 film "Ferngully: The Last Rainforest."

The claws of a large crane reflected in Zak's gaze. Immediately, I let go of his hands and looked behind me. Nothing unnatural stirred the forest. Was it an apparition of my mind? It had been a year since that combine had ripped Ferngully apart, forcing our leader Magi to give her life for its revival, just when it seemed almost too late. Now the forest stood in its former glory, filled with a beautifully energetic life which seemed to pierce Zak's soul upon his return. I loved seeing that spark ignite in him - the brush framing his face reminds me of its source.

But oh, poor Magi! I promised her I'd never speak to humans, much less marry one! And here I was, consenting to a life-long promise never to leave a human's side, right on the very grounds for which she gave her life. The air I now breathed was Magi's, the trees currently surrounding us her children, the broader trees her wise ancestors. Even now as I close my eyes I hear them whisper their secrets.

I close my eyes tighter and listen closely to the trees, distancing myself from the tail-end of Zak's question.
"Listen...Listen to Magi..." they seem to sing.
"She lives through does Zak's spirit."
"Remember what the heart's stronger than any force of nature...human or fae"
The memory of Zak's words ringed in my ears. "There's a part of me that still wants to stay..."
"There's a part of you that will always stay." The reminder of my staunch response is so powerful, it feels as though every tree in every forest on earth has whispered them.

Magi's spirit and the spirits of her ancestors do not have to tell me what this means - I already know. Rather, I knew a year ago when Zak first spoke the very words which bound him to Ferngully. "There's a part of me that still wants to stay." And I know that our spirits are already joined. They were joined on this day, one year ago, when Magi gave her life for a new beginning, so that a human boy could join ranks with the fae, and harmonize two magical species for all time.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What I'll Bring Home to America

I've noticed how my subconscious has already begun a list of things I want to do as soon as I go back to America. It's been such a productive two months for my emotional and spiritual development. I hope to carry home with me all my new ideals. These are just some which seem to come to mind at the moment, though I know there are so many other ways this semester abroad has changed my life for the better.

-Be more aware of the source from which the foods I put into my body come.
-Ask a person how they feel when they seem distraught, even if they're a complete stranger.
-Give family members a nudge when they seem to have been quiet for some time.
-Better recognize when someone gets a light in their eyes from something they're talking about - keep it lit with interjections of encouragement, and associate them with that topic for future discussion.
-Read more non-fiction.
-Be there for my younger brothers, allowing them in time to see me as a comfort when I come home.
-Encourage my younger cousins with their schoolwork by emphasizing the importance of education.
-Spend more time with my aunt.
-Ask Grandma if she can teach me to knit and crochet.
-Play more board games with Grandma and her boyfriend.
-Encourage more dinners with cell phones put away.
-Take more photos.
-Be more active in the equestrian team next semester.
-Take more trips in the Jeep with Mom.
-Build a friendlier relationship with my older brother.
-Grow my own plants.
-Continue to learn more about cooking with raw ingredients, and if I must eat out, know that I don't have to order a full meal.
-Treasure every moment of bonfire season (it truly is an under-appreciated American tradition).
-Read at least a few pages of some kind of text before bed every night (don't let the computer screen be the last thing I see before bed).
-Read all the books my aunt recommended one should read before they die.
-Meet more internationals at my home university.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Who Makes These Changes

The title of this blog post is from the title of a poem by Jelaluddin Rumi.

It's difficult to put into words how I feel for my current emotional shock, which was brought on by watching the new documentary by Tom Shadyac called "I Am." It explains and sums up exactly what I feel to be wrong with the world, and suggests the solutions for these ailments to be simple, yet empowering acts. One of the quotes from the film that hit me hardest came from a philosopher. He said, "There's no such thing as a tiny act...It all matters." What a powerful statement in such few words. It really sums up the main theme of the film, which is that we are all connected, and when we can all live our daily lives with that consciousness in mind, that's when we will truly begin to see change in the world.

I've learned that, unlike any other genre in film, I never feel as inspired to write as much as I do after watching documentaries. I'm going to make it a habit to write after watching documentaries in the future (even when they leave me at a loss for words as this beautiful one did).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Greatest Mate

With my trustee bottomless mug of coffee at my right elbow
I read and write and soak up the world through eyes
like two sponges on a newborn baby's face.
I let myself be a product of my environment
until I'm ready to make the change that in turn
alters the environment for someone else.
That will be the day that I will say
I've found the voice I've searched for
so thoroughly beside my greatest mate.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Feeling Put Off By Someone?

Don't worry, they're most likely saying this:

Ego probabiliter ambitiosior bastardus.

Stand by them with arms wide open, heart on your sleeve, with depth in your speech. In time (depending on his or her personality), you will see them do the same.

My Familiarity

A haiku during my time abroad, halfway through semester.

Close the shades
From all I might know
My familiarity
Only now present
begs desist. 

Ten Things I Know to be True

Decided to write this list after viewing Sarah Kay's TEDTalk: If I Should Have a Daughter. I mixed it with the exercise she gives the audience, which involves picking the very first truths to come to mind.

Ten things I know to be true:

1) I bought this laptop the summer before my junior year of high school.
2) I don't want to go to class in an hour.
3) I enjoy making my older brother smile simply by saying, "Don't smile!" in a funny voice.
4) Everyone needs to feel wanted.
5) I become very anxious when I look around a room and everyone is on their mobile phones.
6) I love it when a stranger strikes up a conversation with me.
7) I spend way too much time thinking about how others perceive me.
8) Cooking healthy foods makes me feel grounded.
9) I want a career that will make something better in the world, and I want to see that change before I die.
10) I can't wait to go back to America with new eyes.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Fairy Winter

I wrote this fiction piece while I should have been studying for finals my freshman year of college. In a way, I think my mind reverted back to a story about fairies I loved reading growing up. Ever since, I've loved picking up new books that reference the kind of fairy lore I remember from that very story, since it was lost after all those years of moving with my family. The fairy tale I remember was a comfort to me as a young girl, just as the story I came up with here comforted me during my first year at college. The breaks indicate where I felt the story could use illustrations - at the time I wrote it, I wanted it to look like the children's book I recalled all those years ago. I'd love to be able to write something from which someone in the future would tell me they drew comfort.

The Fairy Winter

Winter was a strong woodland fairy, the very strongest of her kind. She had the ability to enliven plants and flowers during the cold months in her homeland.

 When the spring, summer, and fall months arrived, Winter believed she had no magic at all, being a fairy born apart from the Woodland’s flower-growing season; Especially when all the other fairies started to develop from the palms of their hands a beautiful coating of fairy dust in every color imaginable.

 Sitting amid the bright marigolds and petunias, Winter felt useless. She could procure nothing from her still-dry hands. They were of a pale and dull gray color, and without the cheerful sheen that marked the special abilities of the rest of her fairy peers.

 By late fall, Winter still had not developed the pretty fairy dust that had made everyone else her age unique. One night, while her mind spun restlessly, Winter sat just outside her particular spruce tree, while all the other fairies lay sleeping soundlessly in their hibernation.

Before long, Winter wished most keenly that she could escape the Woodlands trees, and therefore left her warm home to explore the winter season from which she was born.

 What Winter found when she left her familiar spruce tree was quite charming; she instantly felt stronger than ever before. The pure white expanses rolling ahead of her called for her attention, begging to be brought to life.

 She began to notice that she, too, began to brighten like the pure white of the rolling hills.

Winter remembered from her lessons in school that—particularly in the Woodlands—the winters were so frigid that even the toughest of fairies could not animate with magic the beautiful cherry-blossom, carnation, freesia, violet, and iris flowers that adorned the Woodlands in the warm spring and summer months.

 But when Winter glanced down at her glistening golden hands they were marked with the famous pollen that dusted the hands of all the little spring, summer, and fall fairies with which she went to school. Winter realized this made her unique, as she was the only fairy whom could procure fairy dust during the dormant growing season in the Woodlands.  

She possessed a talent that none of the other fairies were capable of, and it made her special.

She melted the tiny snowflakes surrounding the Sitka spruce , dissolved the dying deciduous forest ground, and fevered the terra firma of the fresh frangula tree. Eventually, Winter used her unique golden fairy dust anywhere she felt the Woodlands needed life.

 It was not long before all the fairies of the Woodlands saw the change rapidly illuminating the dull land; They noticed a faint smell of magic lingering in the fresh, brisk winter air about the pine trees, and left to seek its source.

 Meanwhile, Winter touched everything she could with her gold fairy dust-laden hands. She created beautiful winter-blossoming flowers, like Hellebores, Hamemelis, and Corylus Avellana Contorta, all of which she named herself.  

 Winter’s special fairy dust was so strong that its light burned brighter than any other fairy’s in the Woodlands.

It burned so brightly that in no time the little spring, summer, and fall fairies found that the source of light shining in the cold evening was the little fairy Winter, flying between the frozen hilltops and adding color to the pale Woodlands landscape.

The rest of the little fairies of the Woodlands were amazed at what Winter could do. They apologized to Winter, saying how regretfully sorry they were for not recognizing her unique talent.

 Winter provided hope to the Woodlands from then on, a sign to all other fairies that being different did not give leave for the rest of the Woodlands’ fairies to leave her out, setting her apart from them; especially when only she alone could color their homeland during the cold months with winter-blooming flowers, all with a flick of her newfound fairy dust.

 So the next time you find yourself in the Woodlands—perhaps wandering about the snow-blanketed pines and glittering hills—keep in mind that you are never alone, and that Winter is always there, silently awakening the dormant winter-blossoming plants that dot winter's endless white landscape.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

SOC - Classical Music

This is a bit forced as I've lately felt starved from writing and needed a splurge. I played a few songs from my iTunes classical music playlist and wrote down exactly what feelings the music evoked.

"Epic Suite," from the Doctor Who Soundtrack Season 1, 11th Doctor

I'm running through the forest
voices carry toward me
I'm hitting my feet along the thorn bushes
Abrupt end.
Crescendo into something sweetly mysterious
but what color the trumpets give it.
Impending death until The Doctor is sure to come
around the long-winded corner.
Do I belong here? What is my old life?
What is this one? Can he be a part of it?
Safety in his magical dark blue cloak
until I'm too old
for my face to provide him solace.

"7th Syphony" by Beethoven

The dark castle level on Mario Kart
where I'm crossing the stone bridges outside
and trying my damned hardest not to fall.
If I fall I may as well start from the first track,
as it will surely entitle me to less than first place.
The lamps inside the castle flicker and spark,
just like they seemed to inside the mansion in that
story "The Mask of the Red Death" we had to read
in Sophomore year English. All I could picture
while reading that story I remember was
Darth Maul's red horned face,
from Star Wars: Phantom of the Menace -
what a terrible movie.
Unexpectedly cheery section break?
So now the lanterns have been lit,
the old decrepit mansion renovated like the one
in Jumanji.
Is my mind really full of all these useless pop
culture references?
Music has hastened tenfold. This must have been
where Beethoven's cup of coffee kicked in.
Listen to those fingers go.
Now I'm dancing quick-footed across a ballroom
in the mansion from Jumanji, with a boy I've met
since arriving in Northern Ireland.
What I'd give for a little bit of coordination.
As the music slows down, I'm laughing against his
shoulder. No matter how much coordination
my conscious has allotted me for this brief fantasy,
it is not enough to allow me to keep
up with the idiosyncrasies of this symphony, and
as a result, I have stepped on the boy's toe in our dance.

"Doors of Life" by Isaac Shepherd

A fairy most definitely flits across my line of sight:
Things are definitely good now.
She comes back to lean toward me,
conspiratorially looking at me with wide eyes,
cupping one hand around her mouth
as if to stifle the sound from my roommates
and says, "Stop your worry."

"For Lise" by Suzanne Ciani

I leave the uneasy plane behind
and soar through comfort.
I leave my stomach three flips
and 2,000 ft. above me.
I leave Will with it
and fly boundless.

"Expression" by Helen Jane Long

I sleepwalk past what was my own bathroom
and follow the horseshoe shape of the house
through the open doors, tip-toe to my
parents' bathroom instead.
I see their resting bodies along the way.
Was it the bathtub I wanted?
I glide on.
I've wet myself in the tub.
Tears, pee, confusion, wakefulness.
I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

I'm Probably the Incarnation of a Literary Satirist

About 14 people in all of history have died for every one person living today. Upon reading this statistic the first time in a John Green novel, I could not help but imagine how I might have a certain 14 souls assigned to my life in a way, possibly in a way that allows me to be living this very day. Wouldn't it be lovely just to think about how these 14 people all could have taken some residence within me - together in parts making me the person I've become? I'm sure some people would despise this idea, saying they prefer to think they are wholly unique from anyone who ever lived. But I find it comforting to think it possible that a great person in history may be living in part through me. Unless, of course, you get the ruddy lot of a part of Hitler (but I'll be positive and say that whomever is the living incarnate of sorts for him may have been granted his artistic part, as I've heard he was a good painter). I mean wouldn't it be fracking awesome if a part of me was Jane Austen?

I've tried to tackle this theory into a fictional story, but any way I try to put it together, it gets messy from a religious aspect. Who gets part of Jesus? And I can't rightly call him Jesus and exclude all other religions.

Regardless, I like the idea for me. I've fantasized about who my 14 people would be. Who is living through me day by day? Which is my own quintessentially unique bit, and what kinds of people make up the rest of me? Do I have a tendency for travelling because one of my parts was a gypsy? Did one of my parts sit around campfires and make up long, impossible stories to tell his or her friends as I love to do in my writing?

Mostly I like just to imagine that about half of the 14 parts of me satirized many of life's trivial experiences, as I often do to shake things up a bit. Lately I've found myself more than ever quitting reading and watching the kind of stories I've seen repeated more than enough for a lifetime. I crave something new, and that's what I found lately in reading James Joyce's Dubliners and Seamus Deane's Reading in the Dark. Both are quite similar stylistically, but they each have introduced to me spins on what would normally be nausea-inducing old stories. Likewise, I think this is why I've come to respect so much more over time things like The Perks of Being a Wildflower, The Book Thief, and the new movie with Rachel McAdams "About Time." They're no nonsense/no bullshit stories, and sometimes that's exactly what we need to stop the autopilot on our lives and think about what's important in them.

So that's the subject on which I fantasize. If you ever see me staring into space, I'm liking thinking, "I'm the freaking incarnation of Jonathan Swift and Jane Austen, satirists of our daily lives!"

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Giant Revolving Globe of Dependency

This is my world. Through it, I see 7 billion people who want to be needed. I see babies depending that their every need be met by their mothers. I see fathers relying on the health of their families. I see siblings bickering and bantering. I see managers demanding. I see fickle female peers and middle-aged women pining. I see the elderly reluctantly requiring...

I see the world as it is: a giant, revolving globe of dependency.

To persistently claim that I am on my own - as I have subconsciously done for the past few years of college - I have rather psychologically regressed. As I can't go back and rightfully meet with graciousness every encounter with a person who quenched my needs in some way or other, I'll take this most recent discovery and remember it every day forward. I'll thank the people who wander upon my life like shining beacons, spotting my solitary bobbing boat across the way. I'll thank them for reeling me in, little by little, every day closer to that homey shore.

This post was inspired after a long hike with my friend Gavin.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Week Three - SOC: Finances and Peace of Mind

Country and classical music seem to be my faithful solace. I still regret absentmindedly leaving my iPod in the back compartment of the seat in front of mine on the plane from St. Louis to Newark. What a petty thing to miss among all the other things I have left behind. I don't feel like I've left anything behind, though. Not really. Not when I've never spent more time on Facebook than I do now. I can blame that on the fact that I chose not to get a cheap U.K. mobile phone for my three and a half months here. Does that make me a cheap person? But I feel as though that line is rendered moot when realize I'm living solely on my stipend money. For that reason, I must arrange for my return ticket home to be three weeks earlier than I had originally planned to stay. There's another $300 from the little money I scraped up at the end of my summer delivering pizzas.

Now I think on the kind and generous woman who tipped me so well on two separate occasions. How can I tell myself she is the kind of person I aspire to be if my stream of consciousness runs with thoughts of my lost iPod, or the U.K. phone I haven't bought, or the charge for changing my return ticket back to America in December $...?

I'd like to believe this way of thinking may have arisen from my international roommate, who is studying accountancy and appears to be perpetually budgeting. I wonder if I, too, worry aloud of my own financial situation. What a selfish thing to do. It is only myself for whom I have to provide. And I did the math! If I do leave December 20, that leaves me with about £9.52 a day. If I pay for the cheapest ingredients and all the generic brand foods at Tesco, I'll possibly have enough left toward the end of the semester to head down to see the beautiful library at Trinity College in Dublin. But what about presents for everyone back home? I'm not sure my backpack will be big enough to hold all that, plus the books I bought off Amazon for Contemporary British Literature class. Secretly, I hope all my stuff will not weigh too much going back that I exceed the 50 lb. limit...and have to pay. Oh, this is horrible! I've never felt so concerned with monetary issues. I hope I don't exude this attitude toward expenses to my Irish roommates. Look, a paragraph later, and my thought process is still ridden in materialism.

I can't stop biting my nails - this is the longest I've gone without having nail polish to ward off some of the temptation to do so. I should be reading the book Brick Lane by Monica Ali for one of my modules. The book lay by my feet, shrouded in the unkempt Doctor Who covers I bought for £1 at the charity shop in downtown Coleraine. So far, it's an extremely interesting read. I love the imagery, and the not-so-subtle hints of feminism in the voice. It's going to make my first essay on feminist literary criticism in multicultural fiction quite simple. I really like the lecture for that class - Contemporary British Fiction. Sure he curses every other sentence during lectures, and gives off the vibe that he couldn't care less whether we turn in anything at all during the semester, but I love how real the guy is. There's no bullshit in the way he talks to us or clearly relates to the kinds of things students at our age are experiencing. It's like this is his first and only year teaching, and so he's out to really get to know us as individuals and possibly learn from us a few things. That's what I like about him as a professor, I think. That in his genuine hunger to learn our viewpoints and experiences he has made us students his equals.

I don't know where this post is headed, but it sure has taken awhile to go thus far. Perhaps it is possible to be bad at stream of consciousness. Today another international friend of mine told me that being sick is not made better by constantly stating that you are sick. "You must deny it!" he shouted. I know how strong the mind and willpower can be. I must use it to break my nails from my teeth, pry my eyes from a screen, turn the pages of a good book, and concern myself no more on lavish spending.

Week Three - Some Northern Irish Jargon

Just a quick list of words and expressions I've learned to translate from the Northern Irish jargon:

"Craic" or "What's the craic?" : Fun or What's up? (Assimilated into casual conversation from the Irish word literally meaning "fun".
"Taking the piss" : They are just messing with you.
"How are getting on?" : How are you doing?
"You know your guy/girl --?" : Even if they are talking about a famous person whom you've never met, a Northern Irish person may say, "You know your guy Bob Saget?" when mentioning a specific person.
"Come at half 2." : Come at 2:30.
"It's good banter." : This is sort of another way of saying something is fun. It may also refer to a good conversation.
"The taxi will drop you there." : The taxi will drop you off there.
"There will be lifts arranged." : There will be rides arranged (to take you somewhere).
"We'll get you sorted." : I hear this expression all the time. It can mean "We'll help you" or "Let's see what we can do to fix the situation."
"Class!" : Cool!
"Aye." : Almost always used instead of "yes".
Trolley : Shopping cart
(Bank) notes : Cash
"Yoke" or "Look at that yoke!" : Something. A word used in place of "thing".
"Wee" : Replacement word for "small" or "short" or "younger". I.e. "Just fill out the wee card on the table."
"Wee bit" : Only used with speaking of a small amount of something.
"You's" : You all or you guys.
"Veg out" : Relax
"Deadly" : Difficult, as in "That exam was deadly."
"waffling on" : When someone is rambling on in their speech.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

She Sits With Her Possessions

She sits with her possessions in every
preposition like "about, among, atop, on, in..."
her future as good as the what's in.

The only other driver in her life
a bit more stock of that expense
until the next blighted sight
of something more intense.

What glee does she gain of friendly greetings
when her once greatest gift
is now downcast and glued
to the shiny new thing
she first saw on a screen.

Week Two - Political Radicalism Or Blindly Following the Leader?

Yesterday marked the first day of modules in my semester abroad in Northern Ireland. I was expecting that my module entitled "Writing the North: Literature of the Troubles" may entail some discussion on political ideals and opinions. What I was not expecting walking into my Contemporary British Fiction class was seeing a slide show of politically racy photographs of issues in the UK on which our lecturer had no problem forcefully stating his opinion. Though I agreed with him on a few points, some of the discussion was too open for me, even for someone like myself who may not have correct - or even sufficient an amount of - information on some of the topics which to me were foreign (like, say, the policies instated by Margaret Thatcher, as well as her death). That was good and well as the other local NI students didn't seem to be too offended by the lecturer's stances.

However, what most made me fidget in my seat was when he pulled up a slide of the burning of the twin towers during 9/11. He started getting into discussion about the United States, bringing up his opinion on religion and violence. This also is well and good; perhaps the point of his entire lesson plan was to show what in the world shouldn't mix. However, next he spoke of George Bush Jr. and Sr., saying he'd celebrate in America the day they died, the way he did in Belfast upon the death of Margaret Thatcher.

I never really expected I'd be grateful for the fact that our teachers in America are not allowed to speak of their religion or views. I anticipated coming across a few debates on the division of Northern Ireland/Ireland/UK and the confusing hybrid that the Troubles has issued on the island since '69, but never had I thought the issue would blatantly resonate in my coursework (as the same undertone of political unrest laced the lecture in my earlier Modern Irish History class).

On a more positive note, it's definitely refreshing to be in a society which wholly engages itself in knowledge of its rights and the policies its governor has placed on it. Truthfully, many of my peers at home don't care about America's current political situation. Maybe they've heard of Syria and know America is planning on doing something about them, but generally the knowledge of the U.S.'s governance is blissfully ignored in the minds of American students.

Though I disagreed with my lecturer's political radicalism, at least it made me want to be a more informed citizen of the United States. No matter what society one lives in, no one should blindly follow his or her leader.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

More Than the American Way

It has been completely refreshing getting to mix with the local Northern Irish at the Christian Union activities on campus. No way would I have said a week ago when I arrived that I would come to be this comfortable here; but, alas, here I am, saying exactly that! The people in CU are so "keen" to get to know me - not just to have a listen to my accent, but to understand how the culture here differs from mine at home. In numerous ways this has been a stress-reliever for me, as well as the best way I know I may learn to lead a life that is not hindered from only knowing the American way. By finally having something utterly foreign to compare to my life in Missouri, I'm finding it easier to spot the things that are more efficient and healthy between the two ways. Because I have a few specific topics of conversation in mind from chats with several locals of Northern Ireland in the CU, I will list what I found to be either healthier or more efficiently done here as opposed to America:

Healthier here:
- LONG conversations that usually center on (quite generally speaking) the basis of differences in observations. It is very seldom that I hear small talk before a long exchange. (This may be due to the fact that the weather is often windy, freezing, and rainy, being on the northern coast of the island, and so the Northern Irish may have given up at this point on the pretense of setting up good spirits with small talk about the weather).

- Tea/coffee time before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I know how important it is to have a drink before eating a big meal, but often in the U.S. we are accustomed to plunging into our large portions with little or nothing to drink beforehand. I've learned very quickly here that allotting myself to enjoy a "wee" bit of coffee or tea time before eating not only fills me up a bit, but also largely helps regulate my digestion.

- A bit of sweets whenever the hell they feel like it. When they have their wee bit of chocolate whenever they feel like it, they're much less likely to binge and make a whole meal out of it as we would after a "shoddy" diet.

More efficient:
- Carpooling to events is commonplace. Not only is it the thing to do, but students my age here in NI do not mind - nor do they complain or ask for recompense - to pile in anyone in need of a "lift" to wherever they need to go. (And trust me, I know students my age at home, and they would never give in to carpooling every day with friends - much less strangers - without some sort of payback).

- Albeit sometimes inconvenient, this year in April the U.K. mandated that supermarkets not provide patrons with the free plastic bags of which we are so familiar in American shopping. Here, you must pay at cheapest 5p for individual plastic bags, or bring from your home your own reusable bags. (Just thinking of all the eternal waste prevented so far makes me so happy!)

- Drying racks and clothing lines; I've seen both these methods of drying around the campus and what I've seen from the buses and trains since I've arrived here. They both work, they save money, energy, and they make the clothes smell fresher than they would have from a dryer. (Also, clothing lines are adorable.)

Get with the program, America!

Hopefully tomorrow, with more sleep and when it is not 2:40 am, I will be able to give some credit to America for a few things done healthier or more efficiently.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

That Midwestern American Girl

Upon coming to Northern Ireland, I have found it very easy to have slipped into this persona of what seems to be expected of a Midwestern American girl. I thought I would be simply categorized as one of the international students from America, but it turns out that I am one of the very few who is not from a New England state or a big, internationally known city. And maybe it doesn't help that I love country music and have said "you all" a few times, but I feel like I'm from the cast of Little House on the Prairie next to the Germans, the French, the Irish, and the big city American international students. But I sure feel as though I miss the open Missouri land, the big cars, and my "hick" group of friends back home. I keep finding myself thinking about going back home to the Midwest and finally truly being content with where my immediate family has chosen to settle. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I miss Missouri, and if I don't in my life find the opportunity to move away, for once that doesn't seem like a bad prospect at all. If I act and dress and speak as a Midwestern American girl does, for once I will no longer see it a persona, but rather a blessed trait from which I may take pride.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Northern Ireland - Week One

In the midst of all that is foreign to me here in Northern Ireland, I have no choice but to adapt in the two week's time I have been allotted before classes begin. Much of it has been familiar in the universal scheme of campus and dorm life, but there are other things of which I am utterly perplexed.

#1: Transportation
I have never had to live this long without my own car. I don't know if I could ever get used to long-term public transportation and the complex process that is familiarizing oneself with the train and bus schedules, as the Europeans seem to have mastered it like a science.

#2: Weather
I never know how to plan what to wear here. There's a saying here I heard from one of the cabbies: "If you don't like the current weather, wait 20 minutes." They have been known to see "all four seasons in one day!" in the fall, which hasn't seemed so improbable so far today. I woke to a calm drizzle in the late morning, sat breakfast with a forceful downpour pounding the windows in the kitchen (at our kitchen/flat), and as I type right now the sun is shining but the wind seems to be uprooting the trees outside my second floor bedroom window.

#3: Dress at the Clubs
I can proudly say that I have not seen a full episode of Jersey Shore, but I have watched plenty of parodies to know that what I have seen here at the local Kelly's nightclub (the biggest and most popular night club in Northern Ireland) makes many Jersey clubs look moderately conservative. A fellow American international student with whom I went to the nightclub on our second night in Northern Ireland sat alone for a short time while a few of us went to dance. Upon our return, she told us that an Irish boy came to sit next to her and blatantly stated, "Right, I am going to stick my tongue down your throat right now." Actually, this is a pretty good representation for the actions of most of the people at the club. It was common to see a guy literally going from girl to girl until he could get lucky. Every half hour you could see another person being escorted out as he or she was spewing. There was a large designated area for smoking. Hidden corners in the club were used for passionate snogging. Exceptionally drunk girls wearing little more than bras and panties taking pictures with the security guards (who only seemed to be there to prevent break outs of fighting). The TV show Skins seemed so far-fetched before Kelly's.

#4: (Lack of) Diversity
The most diversity I have seen since exiting the airport at Belfast has been among our group of international students. I have only since seen white people with few mixed races interspersed. Not that this observation particularly perplexes me, but it's definitely something that continually reminds me I'm not at home.

#5: No TV
Here, you have to have a permit to watch TV. I have not looked much farther into this strange phenomenon, but it's hard to become used to not being able to unwind after a long day of culture shock by kicking back and watching an episode of Friends (or insert name of any other all-American show).

For now I have only been able to interact with other international students. I have met some very nice people from Germany, France and Spain. I was surprised by the number of German students - there are much more of them than there are Americans. Our Irish roommates should be moving in today, and classes will be starting here in a week. As other strange encounters arise I will be sure to record them here on my blog. So far on all other counts, I am acclimating well and can't wait to begin classes!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Anticipation for Northern Ireland

The tendency to feel as though I may be able to jump out of my own skin and forward in time to the very day I leave is unshakable. It may exist inside me and only intensify until the very moment I am landed in Belfast and my feet have stood upon Northern Irish soil. It doesn't seem so silly now the request my friend's mother made that I bring back for her a nice rock for her collection upon my return to America in January. I want so much now to do the same for myself; Maybe I'll start a collection of rocks from all the countries I visit instead of resuming the collection of flags I have acquired over the last few years of journeying with my grandparents.

Until then, I will pass the time at home with as much reading as I am able to indulge in. That escape, along with the progress of a solid outline for a writing project I began 5 years ago, should be enough at this time to calm my racing soul.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

LOST and Creative Writing

Is searching for writing inspiration in a television series possible? Is it a good idea to spend my time doing it?

Though I have stacks of books still lying on my bedside table waiting to be read before the end of summer when I leave to go to school in Northern Ireland, I can hardly drag myself away from seeing through the entirety of the Lost television series. As I friend of mine said, "Watching Lost is like reading a long, elaborate novel." The series so deeply delves into the lives of each of the characters to a point where I have to watch every episode to see where their decisions take them, and how brilliantly the creators of the series further the character development in each of them nearly in every episode. There's so much depth in it all that it truly feels like the experience of reading a good book series. The only way I see myself finishing all the books that need to be read in the next 2 weeks is if I put watching the series on hold, but that only leaves a paradox: If I quit watching the series cold turkey, that will leave me working out the line of the story and characters of Lost in my head, while I try in vain to thoroughly understand and care about the characters in the different books currently on my to-read list. Would it be more beneficial to see through the long TV series to watch good character development in action, or would it be better to read a few different stories and have the chance to explore different authors' modes of doing so?

I don't have much time to think on this, but I figured writing about how I am currently spending my time off after work and before school would give me a better idea about what would be a waste of time. Probably what I should have started off when writing this post was that I feel I am in a time crunch to explore some creativity in the hopes that it could spark some of my own.

I believe I'm on my way. I believe it starts with an appetite for inspiration.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hope and Empathy

"The Ultimate Art form for the Age of Outrospection is Empathy." -Roman Krznaric

I want to take a moment to jot down a few thoughts I've had just after watching J. K. Rowling's Harvard Commencement Speech for 2008.

I'm left mostly with a huge knot in the back of my throat that I feel must have been induced of this new-found respect I've never before felt toward an author. There's also a sort of physical lightness that seems to stem from the pit of my stomach. I know as a time-saver here I could just state, "It's hope that I'm feeling right now." But lately I've been sick of the sound of cliches, and I want to write something descriptive that allows me to look back on this at a later day if I need hope, and remember exactly what feelings that specific emotion takes the form of in me.

Later, with more composed opinions concerning the video, I have this to say:

Hope for humanity is one thing I think we're all searching for lately, whether in each person it is subconsciously or aggressively consciously - it lies within all of us. And I think I say "lately" because it is now more than ever that more people in the world have become accustomed to the kinds of modern luxuries that put the time it takes to begin to value learning simple humanistic ideals on the back burner. Finding connections with others and being able to relate to others' experiences as well as are own gives us all the hope that we sometimes need to recharge our days. Essentially, empathy for others is the lesson that - if learned and practiced by all - would be the key to a perfect life.

In two videos I've watched recently, I found two intelligent people who essentially express how important empathy is in everyday life. I think they're spot on with this realization, and it gives me so much hope that these two people are using modern creative means (novels and making videos on YouTube) to spread this word to anyone who will listen.

"What it means to be human is to step outside of oneself and connect to others."
The first inspirational person is Ze Frank, mentioned in this video:

The second, of course, is J. K. Rowling, for her commencement speech at Harvard:

I hope one day I myself will be able to express the value of empathy in humanity by my own creative means.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Default Tech-Savvy Generation, ADD, and TL;DR

One of the saddest things in my opinion about the current technologically-savvy generation (of which I consider myself) is the fact that we will never be able to tell whether our attention spans have been hindered as a result of being born in this generation.

I'm completely under the impression that after spending about a year regularly reading Twitter posts - and creating a couple thousand posts myself - that it has significantly shortened my attention span and made reading longer passages and books much more difficult than it used to be. As I have spent way too much time reading the Harry Potter series again over the course of this summer, I'm distracted by the constant impulse to check Twitter, check Facebook, check my email, check for text messages as it has never before been easier after having recently received a smart phone. Sometimes I get so frustrated with my inability to read like I used to so much so that I turn off my phone and put it out of sight. But as I feel I have been borne into this generation of constant forced multi-tasking, I have an undying urge to pull out the phone again and make sure none of my friends have tried contacting me, or that no one at work desperately needs me to cover their shift late notice.

I don't want to say that I would not have been ADD had I not been borne into this generation, but it seems highly unlikely. I feel I was so much more intuitive and observant in the years proceeding my use of social media, as I can see signs of it in some of my old journals. I know it's far too late to try to ditch technology now, when I've gone through some of my most crucial developing years being trained to stick to the crowd of others my age also growing up and becoming experts with it - I may even put myself behind and prevent myself from a future job opportunity if I try to do so so late in life. In this way, I know that tech-savviness has definitely forced its way into becoming a default attribute to those born in the 1990s and 2000s, and it will obviously only become more rampant for those born in the years to come.

Though I can't help but wonder through all of this what I would have achieved by this age had I not been born into this generation. How many books could I have read with all the time I've wasted checking Twitter, checking Facebook, checking email? Would I have finished by now the book I began writing at age fifteen? J. K. Rowling didn't have to go through all this as an adolescent or a young adult - would she have been significantly hindered in her writing had she been born during the same time as me?

It was constant questions like these which sent me into the guilty downward spiral that ended my time on Twitter. I deleted my Twitter account a few weeks ago, and haven't looked back since. I truly feel that regularly reading the short 160-character posts every day (even the well-constructed ones written by fellow aspiring writers) reduced my attention span and even made it difficult for me to retain information in some books I've read over the summer.

The common comment Reddit users write on the website is tl;dr, meaning: too long; didn't read. The mere fact that this acronym has become so well-known in such a short amount of time makes me nervous. If only a couple decades ago we read passages MUCH longer than the material posted on Reddit in things like magazines and newspapers, and now our attention may only be spent on things like memes and classic joke-length lines, what kind of future does my tech-savvy generation and all those proceeding it have to look forward to? Will there be much worse quality material and less of it in the arts because we creators have too many things by which to distract us or shorten our attention spans for reading?

None of this is to say that everyone in my generation has defaulted to acquire a certain form of ADD from the constant usage of material that passes the standards for "tl;dr"; Don't believe anyone who claims they can speak for everyone. But just see if dropping your usual engagement in a social media site doesn't positively influence you to maybe partake in one of your old favorite hobbies. In quitting Twitter and Tumblr alone, I've allotted myself so much more time just to read, write, and blog, and I can speak for myself in saying that having more time to do these things has made me feel much more accomplished, resulting in a more positive outlook on my own life as a whole.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

SOC 3 - Blatant Forced Writing

Everything has taken on a rather dream-like quality - I probably had too much allergy medication. The house will be quiet for the next few weeks as Grandma will be in Canada.

Skipping instantly from through three different kinds of tenses in my writing, and all within just two sentences, reminds me of the terribly nonsensical grammar worksheets we had to do in Spanish class throughout school.

I can't pretend that I'm all here right now, or that when I feel drugged up is the best time to start writing a stream of consciousness for my blog - something official with which I am sending out into the Internet world with my proper name written all over it. But hey, you have to start somewhere.

I have work in a few hours. I don't expect arriving there in this fuzzy state will do me much good. "It's just a pizza job" and "People already have the tip amount they expect to give under any circumstances solidly in mind." These are the thoughts that help me through work days like this.

I had three cups of coffee with the allergy meds. Has that helped or hindered my current state?

This is more like a lucid dream. Actually, I think I'd have more control if this were a dream. Will a nap get me out of this stupor? That can't be what I need; I slept for a good nine hours last night.

I've literally gotten to the point of writing down nothing. Stream of consciousness, please enlighten me with the writing prowess I had hoped for in beginning you.

One more cup of coffee.

Nothing nothing nothing.

Time to go outside. Engage me, vitamin D. Allergies, your work here is done.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

SOC Day 2

I may actually be allergic to grass. For some reason, I feel as though coffee may remedy this sneezing fit to which cutting the grass this morning has seem to lead. Coffee helps everything. Now there seems to be an itch in my throat as I am draining my third cup this morning. It's about 80 degrees outside and I still drink it hot. With a bit of milk and honey - that's how I like it.

What does it take to fancy someone? It takes so much more for some people and so little for others. And for the more intelligent it seems to require more over time. It may be that I am watching the wrong couples. There is no right way, yet I want it to be such a complicated science.

Grandma keeps putting this strange large Tupperware cake cover back in the microwave. Every time I see it there I automatically get so needlessly frustrated at its presence, and try removing it with a flourish to remove feelings of annoyance. I shouldn't be so frustrated at her way of keeping things. In that moment I should be reminded instead of how this is not my place, and that I rather should be grateful at her allowing me to stay.

As I mentioned I just finished mowing the lawn, she has just looked out the windows to inspect it. She proclaims: "A little bit straighter lines. It looks like she wasn't drunk this time." I can only laugh at her random use of the third person. I also never tire of her saying "your grandmother" when she talks about her day. I always wonder where she picked up speech like that. Was it from living in Newfoundland, or did she get it after moving to America? Is it possible to change one's speech after the age of 19, when she arrived here?

What I've learned in the past few months is that taking a long break from writing so that you can spend any free time reading - thinking that you will just write perfectly after taking in only professional writing styles - has been one of my biggest mistakes in the trade. If anything the quality of my writing and the pace at which I can come up with material has regressed. I feel rusty, but now so hungry to get back into the swing of it. What a powerful lesson this has been.

And there I am in 2nd person.

I should have taken to heart after reading Malcolm Gladwell's novel "Outliers" this past winter how important it is to get one's 10,000 hours in; No one may call himself or herself an expert of a trade until they have practiced it for that amount of time. If I could guess, the writing I've done throughout school, along with the three years in my late teens that I spent writing almost every day in a journal, has probably only brought me up to about three-fifths that time. I will write now as much as I can until I leave for my exchange trip to Northern Ireland in September. Every day, even if it is only stream of consciousness, shall suffice. At least with that, I can develop a sort of notion to the kind of things I most prefer to mention in my writing.

This sort of life without regular writing has been numbing. I feel most alive after coming up with a good story. I can feel the pendulum of that old, desirable way of life swinging just slightly. It's time to wake it up again.

Friday, July 26, 2013

SOC for the Writer's Block

A bit of stream of consciousness to break my current writing block follows:

It's been a struggle to quit biting my nails long enough to place my fingers properly on the keys for even the shortest bit of writing. It's not only this that has induced such a long break from doing the thing I love most, but also a load of reading I had promised myself to do once college classes were out for the summer. There is so much to read. I feel like I could skip some of the more intimidating life lessons just by reading all the right books early in life, before I have to experience them with fledgling 20-year-old human eyes. It's funny how I can say that now, when only a few months ago I considered myself a sort of life expert because I hadn't yet felt heartbreak, or how terribly ill disappointing people I respected most in my life made me. Both these things happened in the first weeks of June this year, and I never want to go back to that. Never thought I'd have trouble with feeling I had half-assed so much at once that I could make myself physically ill. But then there it is, a life lesson for which I'm sure no book could have prepared me.

For some reason I have the name Imogen Wyndham stuck in my mind - a fictional character with a forcibly quiet life, coming up on the eve of her fortieth birthday, feeling she has accomplished so little in the days leading up to it. It's probably just because I have had The Awakening by Kate Chopin on my mind lately; that's so strange - I haven't read that since spring last year. Sometimes It takes months for my mind to work out and come back to figuring out the depth of stories. It took me a year after reading The Catcher in the Rye to finally come up with a dream about it. I hadn't thought about it since a group presentation on the psychoanalysis of Holden Caulfield in my Lit. Theory class last fall, and know for sure that it hadn't crossed my mind before going to sleep when I finally dreamed about it.

When I mentioned that I couldn't handle disappointing those who I respected most, I had in mind my manager at the place I currently deliver pizzas as a summer job. My manager was and is foremost a friend of mine whom I have known for four years now, only slightly by his association with a lifelong friend of mine, he being the boyfriend of that friend's cousin. I have always respected him because I saw how intelligent he was from the start, when I met him at age 16, and when he was almost 21. I had scarcely seen a happier person in my life. I watched him encounter everyone with such blatant - albeit modest - intelligence and true personable friendliness. I still hold this impression of him as I work for him until August.

Yesterday he posted something online that had me wondering. He wrote a Facebook status that suggested he couldn't wait for the next few years, when he would be making about $70k a year, and then on to six figures, and then eight, and so on. As he didn't strike me as the kind of person who would want loads of money beyond what it would take for him and his girlfriend to get married and support quite a few children (as that is his and her dream), I wondered why he would be so keen to make an over-abundance of money. I had to hear his reasoning when I got to work yesterday to know why such a happy person as he would need too much money. He answered easily that he wanted to pay for his degree in Business and make a perfect life for his potential family. He said he wanted a lot of money because he knew he had the mind to get it, and that he would try to better the world with it somehow. None of this was spoken in a joking manner or without some modesty - just matter-of-factly. After he had shown me that my chore was to "deckscrub the bathroom," as was written on our employee worksheet, he asked me how much time I would have between my time in Chicago and when I left for my exchange trip to Northern Ireland in September; he had already bought me and a bunch of his other friends passes to play paintball the weeks leading up to September. After that, as sort of an afterthought from the conversation earlier about his Facebook status while we had been folding boxes in the front of the store, he said that he mainly gave most of his money away already; he didn't give the slightest care about how money would be spent for himself - if anything the millions of dollars that he was after was for making the people in his life happy, and just proving that he could better the world because he had the mind to.

Because this is only a stream of consciousness (and a shoddy one at that), I did not try so hard to make this all make sense. Mostly I am trying to figure out what matters most to me, as I sit here at age 20, trying in my heart of hearts not to screw up how I present myself in the eyes of the people I most respect, and trying to figure out if maybe there is something to learn from understanding those people. I respect my manager, my friend Angela, my older brother Jake, my grandparents, and so many other people in my life for different reasons. Being commended or sincerely thanked for doing something great in their eyes makes life worth living. It makes me want to be like them, as in my manager's (friend's) case with making lots of money in the future, he makes me want to make money for the benefit of other people. 

I guess after the loads of gibberish at the beginning of this, I did find a message. Stream of consciousness wins again. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Prejudice Today

I don't become obsessed with usual things. Instead, I spend way too much time literally thinking about where I'm standing on the globe. And I'm frequently astounded by the fact that we can fly all around it so easily; and I know it's selfish, but it makes me feel big and significant. However, what I will never understand is that if Earth is so easily traversed, why have so many of us not assimilated into believing everyone to be equal? Obviously if I think myself so big and significant, the same goes for every other human being, and they should have the privilege of feeling that way.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Valentine's Jocelyn

The following work is a bit of fan fiction I wrote for a final project in my Young Adult Literature class. This is the only bit of creative writing I have had assigned this semester in college, and that is why I have been so behind on my blogging activity. Hopefully, this summer will open me up to much more leisurely creative writing time. The work is from Lucian Greymark's point of view - a Shadowhunter turned werewolf in Cassandra Clare's first novel City of Bones, of the Mortal Instruments series. I hope you enjoy my take on Lucian's receival of the news that the love of his life will soon be married to Valentine - who is quite obviously the antagonist of the Mortal Instruments series. 

This story takes place 20 years before the time frame in City of Bones.

Valentine's Jocelyn:
Fan Fiction Project
            Jocelyn Fairchild. Just the utterance of her name sends such bittersweet feelings through me. At first, I feel such bliss to associate the name with the beautiful, fiery woman I know so well, and with whom I have the pleasure of sharing such an intimate friendship. However, then there are the feelings of sadness associated with it, the reminder that I cannot ever acknowledge the lightness in my heart when I hear her name. To let my feelings for her be known at a time such as this would be to destroy the very foundation of our friendship.
“To love is to destroy, and to be loved is to be the one destroyed,” my good friend Valentine had once told our Circle – a group of conspirators against the Clave, the order that governs our entire society of Shadowhunters in the hidden city of Idris, located near Prague in the mundane world.
Valentine Morgenstern is the leader of our group in the Circle. Only months ago he started dating my Jocelyn. It was a great honor for her to be with the leader of the Circle, not to mention the star student of our generation of Shadowhunters in Idris. All I could do was stand by when they began dating, and congratulate Jocelyn on the news of their union when it was scheduled for today, the first day of summer.
I remember the moment she told me the news. It was before she announced it to her own parents: the impending betrothal of her to an honorable descendent of the Morgensterns. We were both leaving the seraph blade-wielding portion of our Weaponries class on our way to the mess hall.
“Lucian, wait!” Jocelyn said urgently, finishing up her conversation with a partner of hers she had been assigned for the “Defensive Techniques” section of our class. She was quite better than her partner Amorietty Hearting, and I felt sorry when our professor had mistakably matched her with Jocelyn Fairchild, the Shadowhunter least equal to her in skill with a seraph blade than anyone else in our class.
I turned and waited, using the time to put my class materials away. To be truthful, I had run with them still in my hands, deciding to jam them into my messenger bag during the walk down the corridor to the mess hall, so as to have time to catch up with Jocelyn. This was supposed to be the day that I asked her to the spring ball.
“Hey.” She looked at me with a shy smile, rushing to continue walking down the corridor beside me. “I, uh – I have some news.”
She was beaming up at me, with her red curls falling back as she held my gaze. I smiled back, basking in the radiance of her smile. I laughed when she began to skip a little as we walked. “Tell me, girl! The anticipation is killing me!”
“Oh, all right! Valentine has proposed to me. But you mustn’t tell anyone! I’ve only just told you now. I wanted to see how you received this news. Am I crazy in wanting this so soon?”
“I’m a bit surprised. You haven’t been seeing him half a year.” I saw that she was walking much slower now, carefully intent on reading my expression.
“I am well aware, as I am sure everyone else will be.” She looked down. “But if you can be happy about this decision in the long term – and see it in that way, as we do – then maybe you will understand that it will not matter that we have only been seeing each other a short while. It is customary to marry fresh out of school. And we have both decided stay in Idris and continue with the work of the Circle –”
“…Which should be cause for allowing you more time to get to know each other. Why not use this time to get to know Valentine? Couples marry to commit to each other as they are needed in cities separated by distances as large as seas or oceans. Because you have decided to stay here, why is it so urgent that you two must marry now?”
Jocelyn and I were now entering the line of hungry Shadowhunters, each hoping to eat a quick meal before Runes class. I had become increasingly quieter with my response to Jocelyn as we neared our peers. I was so intent on making sure they did not hear our conversation, as to defend the secrecy with which she hoped to contain her news at present. I had not noticed the reddening of her face, or the tear running down her cheek.
“Lucian. How could you say this? I thought – I thought you of all people would understand that I love him – you being the one who best knows the both of us.”
I leaned down to place my thumb under her chin, to wipe away the tear that streaked halfway down her face. “Jocelyn, you know I support your decision. I can see that I have made you unhappy. I just know how committed you become with your feelings, and I don’t want you to make a decision on impulse when it is one as significant as this.”
She put her hand around my wrist, gently tugging it away from her face. “I can’t do this. I have to go.”
“Jocelyn!” I took off after her, as she had made a run for the doors leading out to the courtyard. I tried to catch her at the door and block her path, but as we both well knew, she was faster than me, and probably had the benefit of adrenaline on her side. She stopped to meet me at the marble statue of the Angel Raziel in the middle of the empty yard.
She stood facing away from me. “Joce, please.” I put my hand on her shoulder, willing her to turn around. “Look at me.”
“How do you expect me to take this news? I expected to have a hard time from my family, but not from you. No, from you I expected to find comfort when my family heartily disagreed with my decision. My impulsive decision tainted by irrational young love, yeah?” She said this to the raised feet of Raziel, the angel who created our species of Shadowhunters in the year 1234 CE, when he arose from the water of Lake Lyn, holding the Mortal Cup and Sword that started the first breath of our ancestors.
After a pensive moment, she finally turned, and I dropped my hand.
I looked her in the eyes. “I trust your decision fully. I know how much marriage means to you and your family, and I’m sure you have weighed the prospect of your eternal binding to Valentine much more thoroughly than I initially believed. He’s a great man.” I sighed. “I love you, and I know you will be happy with him.”
“Just as happy as I am to hear you say that. Thank you, my dear friend.” Jocelyn kissed both sides of my face before taking my hand in hers. I smiled with sincerity, greatly satisfied to see her mood lighten, to see a hint of the glow that appeared on her face at the first mentioning of her big news.
“I have to meet with him now, before Runes class. But please be at my house tonight. I must tell my parents then. We plan to be married the first day of summer.”
I squeezed her hand. “Then I will be there.”
She laughed. “And at the wedding, as well?”
I smiled tightly. “I will be there, too.”
Jocelyn Morgenstern. Now as I see her in her ceremonial gold gown, passing down the aisle, courted by her new husband, I cannot help but notice a deep sadness in her eyes when she looks my way. Valentine looks to me as well, though when I catch his eye, I see something much different. I see a smile that does not quite reach his eyes, and the subtle upturn of his chin when I meet his glance. It is a small gesture that seems to establish superiority, and I cannot help but feel that it is directed toward more than just me, as Valentine turns his head, and stoically beholds the entirety of the Shadowhunters in the church courtyard, with his Jocelyn a mere object by his side.