Saturday, August 31, 2013


Hey!  I miss you guys way too much, you know that?

Life has been a whole lot of just okay.  There have certainly been ups, but mostly downs, not that those downs are in any way catastrophic or anything.  Just

On August 14th, I quit my job as a bank teller and, that weekend, went with Anne and her family to help her move into her apartment in Bloomington, Indiana.  That was a whole lot of fun  =)  Right Anne?!  We shopped, and put the apartment together, and shopped some more, and explored town, and ate at a REALLY yummy local bar...good times, good times.  The apartment, if Anne doesn't mind my saying, is suitable, and with Anne's touches, looks a lot like home.  It actually has pretty good square footage for everything she has, and it's close to a lot of important stuff (you know, Panera, Barnes 'n' Noble, the mall,...).  It was a fun weekend.

Then I had a week to kill before classes started, and despite my hopes that I would get some things done around the house, I didn't really accomplish much.  I meant to organize the kitchen, since Mom's been asking me to do it for months, but I just couldn't get motivated.  I managed to get the front closet cleared out and made into a "cleaning closet" like Mom wanted, but that was about it.

Classes started on Saturday of this past week.  Back when I registered for them all (i.e., months ago), I was so, so excited to finally start over and make something valuable out of myself.  As soon as that first class ended, though, I started having reservations.  I started questioning whether being a paralegal is really something I want to do.  There were a few days there when I was legitimately terrified, and my sleep suffered because of it.  Either I didn't want to sleep because I was afraid I would have nightmares, or I would wake up with a panic attack in the middle of the night, which hasn't happened since freshman year of college.  What I've been telling myself, though, is to shut the fuck up.  Right now, it's not about what I want to do, it's about what I can do to get a good job.  When I do, and I have some savings and disposable income, then I'll worry about what I want.

So, my life is going to be dedicated to finishing these two semesters in stellar fashion and landing a job where I can earn enough to finally be an independent woman.  Then there's the "three-to-five-year plan" I've established (kinda).  I want to start training in martial arts and self defense again, I want to get my Carry a Concealed Weapons permit (and, by association, a firearm), I want to take a class in auto mechanics, and I want to learn how to drive a stick shift vehicle.  Basically, I'm sick and tired of feeling like a helpless female, and I think these things will help.  Sure, they may change once I feel empowered with my new job (which, hopefully, I will), but right now, that's the plan.

Oh, and sidenote, I have to tell you guys this story, because I still can't believe it.  I have a class on Saturday from 9:00am to 11:40am.  The first class, I sat in the very back corner of the room at the closest table to the door.  This other girl walked in late, so I offered her the seat next to me so that she wouldn't disturb class by looking around for one.  I came to regret that very quickly.  She would comment under her breath the entire time, and every time the teacher would switch a slide on her Power Point, she would sigh exasperatedly, as if it was the worst thing in the world.  This morning, I sat on the other side of the room, in the middle row, against the opposite wall, thinking that if she came in late again, she would sit somewhere else.  But no, she came in late again, and disturbed class by wedging herself behind people to get to my table, and sat down next to me.  So then, she's writing her notes in different colored pens, right?  But every time she would switch, the pen wouldn't work, so she would tap it furiously on her notebook, or do that circling scribble thing to get the ink to come out.  When we got off topic, she raised her hand and began her question with, "So, getting back to what we were talking about..."  Then, at around 11:00am, she started getting really antsy.  Every time someone would ask a question, she would scoff, and she would make that "hurry up" hand motion.  She would alternatively do this, cover her face with her hands, and sigh as class continued for another twenty minutes.  Come to find out, she wanted to leave early so she could be home for kickoff of the Ohio State game.  *headdesk*  *headdesk, headdesk, headdesk*!!  I know, I'm just ranting right now, but she drove me crazy, lol.  It's actually a pretty funny story.  I just hope I can find some avoidance maneuver in the future.

In other news, the Geauga County Fair was this weekend, and Mom and I met my friend Jen and her husband Eric up there to walk around.  It was hot as Hades, but we had fun.  We looked at all the animals, of course (Jen and I were particularly sidetracked by the bunnies), and shopped around the merchant buildings.  Maggie, I think you would be fascinated by all the cows, lol.  There wasn't much there this year, to be honest, so I was a bit disappointed, but it was good to spend time with mom and with Jen.  We have plans for tomorrow too.  We're watching the first two Austin Powers movies  =P

So yeah, that's life.  I love miss all of you, and I hope your lives are going swimmingly!  I can't wait to read about them.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Irony extended

And apparently I shall be adding to the irony, because hey look it's FRIDAY! But since Thursdays are now my busiest day of the week, sadly this will probably not be a one time thing.

Anyway, since I was gonna make my topic make-up week, but we just did that, I'm going to ask you how your lives are going. It feels like I'm way out of the loop. This is probably because ALL THE THINGS have happened since the last time we spoke, but it's my turn to choose, and this is what I'm picking.

Now excuse me while I go bash my forehead against a keyboard and hope a coherent paper on a subject I know nothing about results. Wish me luck! :-)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Marvelous Little Toy

There's nothing quite like the thrill of sneaking around in your grandparents' attic...if you're looking for a thrill. If you're just trying to hide from your cousins then the stacks of odds and ends turn from mountains of treasure to ideal hiding places. Ideal, but rather unstable. Grandpa wasn't known for his organization skills and so your loss of balance quickly turns from a bumble into an avalanche. Boxes and books come crashing down, weird lamps tumble over, and, "Ouch!" The strangest Christmas ornament you've ever seen takes a detour on your head.

Its dull, tarnished silver barely holds a reflection now, and it's nearly too large for your hand. It feels off, weighted oddly like there's something lazy inside that doesn't move how you expect. As strange as this ball is, and you probably really should put it back, there's a feeling about it that just begs to be tossed. 

Once and twice in the air. Everything seems fine. In fact there's a rather pleasant thrum when it lands. Your cousins are going to be so jealous. 


"Hey guys, look! Look what I found!" The championship round of hide-and-seek is forgotten almost instantly (except by the cousin who's winning) and the gaggle of your relatives starts to press closely.

"What is it?"
"Where'd you get that?"
"It's just a dumb ball, let's go play!"
"Can I see it?"

It leaves your hand and you can feel its insides spinning, a protest of the sudden acceleration. Up, up, and down, it arcs across the lawn, your cousin leaping to catch it. But what should have been awe at this new toy turns into a surprised yelp, the ball landing on the ground with a thud. 

"It shocked me!"

It is mysterious, unexpected, possibly naturally, everyone wants to see. Your eldest cousin catches the ball with ease as everyone tries to figure this thing out(he works at a lightning farm, these shocks must feel like nothing). One more toss and his face lights up.

"I've got an idea."


How cool, a game with electricity! It starts in a tight circle, shoulder to shoulder with your cousins. You throw the ball back and forth, the first one to drop it is out. Every lost contestant widens the circle and the stakes get higher. The longer the throw, the higher the charge, the bigger the shock. You've been knocked out a couple times, but it's worth it to see the faces the other kids make.

"George Robert Baker!"

Uh-oh. Well at least it wasn't your name. 

"You put that down this instant! That is not a toy!"

Aunt Meg can get scary when she wants to, and the color of her face says she's one good row away from Volcano Day. George argues back. Obviously.

This'll be one for the family scrapbook for sure, looks like Uncle Ned is already taking pictures. But everyone knows what happens when arguments go on too long, and George has even started to play keep-away from his mom so she's getting extra loud.  It's really only a matter of time until--

"What's going on here?"

That voice. It demands to be listened to and obeyed. It can sweetly sing a lullaby or rip the dignity from your soul.  It's Grandma.

"George, bring it here. Margaret? What's the ruckus?"

Aunt Meg looks ready to spit venom.

"That thing should be destroyed, Mother. I don't know why you have it in the first place but it's deadly and I won't have my son playing with it!"

"I have it because I invented it, Margaret. You should know better."

"It's a weapon."

"It's harmless."

"It wasn't harmless i--"

"Enough. We'll talk about this inside." 

Grandmas are old, that's a well recognized fact, but she'd never really seemed so tired. Old as she is she's as spry as a willow switch--or that's what your dad says.  Maybe the years are getting the better of her.

"George," she says, "Kids: go play in the creek. You," she points and your heart skips a beat, "put that thing back where you found it."


There's nothing quite like the thrill of sneaking around in your grandparents' attic...unless you're sent with a scolding from Aunt Meg. It's hard to know where the ball came from, really, you did make quite a mess earlier. It could belong on the shelf just by the stairs. Maybe it's supposed to be just within reach. You know, in case.

"Don't dawdle," snaps your Aunt and you catch your grandma's eye. A quick wink and a secret smile tells you all you need to know: you haven't seen the last of that marvelous little toy.


I took a risk with the POV, how'd it work?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Definiton

Ahem. Allow me to define "Irony" for you:

Irony is missing my first blog post of this project during the week dedicated to catching up on missed blog posts.

That wasn't why I didn't post yesterday. I genuinely lost track of the fact that, as it was Monday, I had a blog post to write. It was a long and exhausting day. Why, you ask?

Because it was my first day at my new job!

Yes, I have achieved employment! I will be spending the next year as a paraprofessional (teacher's aide) in an elementary Autism classroom. I'm excited, but a little nervous. Less nervous now that I've been given a day to day schedule and some idea what to expect, but still a little worried that I'm somehow gonna mess this up.

But yeah. I am employed. And Chase is coming to Virginia this Friday for a five-day visit, and I'm super excited about that. And that is currently my life.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

MAKE UP WEEK!: Prince's Ball

Okay girls, writing is not my strong suit, so forgive me if this story is a bit wanting.  I promise I worked on it as hard as I could, and I’m generally happy with the final product, even though it bends the rules a bit.  But hey, I’m a Slytherin.  Bending the rules is what we do  =P


With a heavy sigh, I sat down on the edge of the roaring fountain, letting the cool mist chill the back of my neck.  Mother would have been furious if she had seen me sitting there in my expensive, custom-made gown.  But at the time, I couldn’t have cared less.  I just needed time to myself, and the royal garden was the only place where that seemed possible.

I tilted my head back and closed my eyes, allowing the blessed outdoor quiet to flood my ears.  A gentle breeze played through the late evening, rustling the willows and wafting heavenly scents through the air.  I smiled as an owl hooted its benevolent call in a nearby tree.  In neighboring fountains, bullfrogs croaked and chirped to each other from atop their giant lily pads.  I could still hear the string quartet faintly in the background, but their sharp notes no longer pierced my eardrums.

I opened my eyes and saw naught but stars and treetops above me.  Tiny pinpricks in the navy blue of the sky were shaped by the dark shadows of the tall willow trees, blinking in and out.  I gazed up at them, remembering the constellations we had learned from our governess and slowly tracing them with my eyes.  The air was slightly chilly—normal for late October—but although I shivered, my goosebumps mattered about as much as having my dress seated on the fountain wall.  Yes, sitting there was much better than being in that stuffy ballroom, with the chatter and the gossip and the pushing…

I should have been flattered, really.  Not many sixteen-year-olds were invited to that particular ball.  In fact, sixteen-year-olds rarely attended at all, as sixteen is considered a bit young for dancing and late-night frivolity.  Actually, when the invitation first arrived at my parents’ mansion, my heart leapt.  A night alone again, I thought excitedly.  My sisters, eighteen-year-old Diana and nineteen-year-old Gwen, would of course be the ones invited.  Mother and father would attend as well.  Mother would spend her night scouting the young men for my sisters’ potential husbands, while Father would conduct business with the other nobles and lords of court.  I had never been to a ball, but the stories my sisters ecstatically recounted to me the next morning always sounded dull to me.  I had never been much of a dancer, for one thing, and the gossip they chattered on about always made me uncomfortable.  It almost sounded like they couldn’t be themselves when they spoke to other people there.

So imagine my surprise, and my disappointment, when the invitation included the entire family.  My sisters had a wonderful laugh as they thought of me awkwardly dancing with some lord’s son, tripping over my own feet or stepping on his toes.  They mockingly told me that, “You’re not allowed to play with the king’s dogs.  You know that, right, Kitty?  And there won’t be any vagabond boys to play stickball with.”  It was all in good fun for them—my sisters love me, really—but their point was clear: I am not suited for balls.

I had pleaded with my parents to let me stay at home.  No matter how hard I begged and cried, though, Mother and Father insisted I come along, as I was invited and should be honored.  All I remember feeling is my heart sinking to my feet.  Balls are for girls who are graceful, proper, beautiful, poised, and unwavering in their etiquette.  While I was no poor peasant girl (my father was a knighted lord, after all), I was easily the least ball-oriented child in the family.  Unlike Gwen and Diana, I rode my horses fast along the trails, played in the kennels with the hunting dogs, and (when I could get away with it) ran with the local boys through the city streets.  I loathed etiquette lessons, I stumbled through dancing, and I hated tight-fitting corsets and blister-causing slippers.  My parents were disappointed in me, I knew, for not growing into a proper woman worthy of marriage into a rich household, but I didn’t know how to be that way.  I tried—really, I did—to dance well, stand this way, eat that way, and look beautiful, but I could never seem to manage it the way my sisters did.

So, there I sat, longing to play fetch with Bailey, my favorite hunting dog.  She was probably whining at the door of her kennel, wondering where her friend was.  We usually played around that time of night, when my sisters had retired to their rooms and Mother and Father were sitting in the den.  A loud and boisterous cheer suddenly exploded from the ballroom, making me start.  It was the breaking of the piƱata, a tradition assimilated from our western neighbors into our late-fall celebration of All Souls’ Night.  As the cheer dimmed to a loud rustle, I pictured millions of treats—candies, small favors, coins—falling like rain from the enormous paper lion that was suspended from the ballroom ceiling.  Then courtiers of all shapes, sizes, and costumes converged on the dance floor, grasping at whatever they can reach.  My sisters would gorge themselves, surely.

All Souls’ Night is an annual holiday dedicated to the fall equinox, when it is believed that the spirits of our ancestors walk the earth in search of us.  If we’re found, the malevolent dead will seep into us, telling us our futures and torturing us with guilt over past wrong-doings.  To fool them, we dress in costumes, hiding our identities until morning.  Few still hold to this paradigm, though, and prefer the more modern view that All Souls’ Night is a time to be anyone except oneself.  Costumes are no longer for hiding but for attracting.  Ladies wear plunging necklines and flirt openly with men wearing transparent shirts.  Adults drink heavily, children gorge themselves on candy, and parties run late into the night.  It can be dangerous sometimes, which is partly why I was so surprised to be invited at that age, but All Souls’ is also a time for breaking rules and traditions, so I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me too much.

That year, to keep my ornery late grandmother from yelling at me over some slight I dealt her as a child, I was a rose.  I was wearing a floor-length red dress with a long, billowing skirt that mimicked flower petals whenever I moved.  My bodice was covered with a layer of delicate red lace, which then continued upon my shoulders into simple transparent sleeves that traveled to my elbows.  My long brown hair was twisted up into a complicated style at the back of my head, decorated with small, clear glass beads that mimicked the dewdrops that collect on flower petals in the morning.  These same beads also formed my necklace and earrings.  My eye mask was the same shade of red as my dress, and covered in the same lace as my bodice.  In either corner, just over my temples, were real, fully-bloomed red roses.  I could no longer smell them, but when the mask was first placed on my face, it was all I could do to prevent my eyes from watering at their overpowering aroma.

Honestly, I really hated my costume.  It was Mother’s idea, all of it.  She had the city’s most renowned dress maker custom-make everything, ensuring that no other young woman at the ball would look the same.  My lace overlays were hand-crafted by artists overseas.  The fabric was even imported.  It was an outfit fit for a princess, but I felt like a fool.  Walking through the ballroom the first time, I had received dozens of complements from men and woman alike on how beautiful I looked, but I didn’t believe any of them.  As far as I was concerned, it was impossible for me to be as intoxicating as Gwen, dressed as a butterfly and complete with wings, or Diana, dressed as a peacock with her lovely colors and feathers.  They certainly looked like they belonged there, but I wanted nothing more than to get out.

I finally became restless as I sat on the fountain wall, and I had to get up and walk.  I wandered further away from the palace, slowly making my way through the gardens, leaving all the noises of the ball behind me.  I thought about how angry Mother must have been at not being able to find me.  She probably had three or four rich young men lined up to meet me, hoping they will be either too drunk or too stupid to spot my un-ladylike nature before it’s too late.  My attire, she no doubt hoped, would mask my flaws just long enough for one of them to make a commitment.

I pushed these thoughts away as I passed fountain after fountain, and crossed bridge after bridge over slow-moving streams.  I had no idea where I was going, and no idea how to return to the palace, but I was at peace as the quiet enveloped me, and that was all that mattered.  Perhaps being out here, I thought, will rush the night forward, and it will be over by the time I return.

I wandered for what seemed like hours, until suddenly I heard a new sound.  Well, it wasn’t really a new sound—I had certainly heard it many times before—but it was unexpected.  I heard barking.  I took a few more steps in the direction of the sound, and then I was sure.  It was the baying barks of hunting dogs.

I lifted my skirts and rushed forward.  Sure enough, on the opposite side of a tall hedge, I found the royal kennels.  Nearly five dozen hounds were in their cages, lined up neatly in the meticulously-mown grass.  Most were already asleep in their small shelters, or sat quietly against their fences, but a few were still very much awake.  My heart leapt as I walked along the cages, watching as the dogs jumped to greet me, bayed for attention, or simply looked up from their sleeping spots.  I don’t know what it is about them—their wagging tails, their smiling snouts, their cute floppy ears—but I have always loved dogs.  To me, they are the friendliest of creatures.  Unless you’re a fox, of course.

One hound in particular caught my attention.  It was the one making the most noise.  I found him in the very last kennel of the row, and again and again, he howled up at the sky.  He seemed to be barking at nothing at all, simply making noise for the sake of making noise.  I strode up to his cage and, unlike all of the others, there was no name plate on his.

“Cease!” I demanded, thrusting out my hand with my palm facing him.  It was a command that Father used with his dogs whenever they became too rambunctious.  The nameless hound fell quiet immediately, his bright eyes locked onto mine as his tail whipped back and forth, waiting for another command.  Like the other dogs, he was barely knee-height, with short brown fur and a mantle of black.  His white paws seemed to glow against the dark grass, and his dark eyes shone with intelligence.

I put my hands on my hips.  “There now, what was all that noise about?” I asked him.  “You’re disturbing your brothers and sisters.”

The dog whined in response, then sank into a play bow, his hind quarters in the air with his front end plunged into the grass.

“Oh, is that what you want?  You want someone to play with?” I asked.  Hunting dogs are highly trained, so I felt no fear as I moved forward and unlatched the cage, opening the gate and releasing the dog.  Sure enough, he bounded back to his shelter and retrieved a bright red rubber ball before leaping out into the open.  He stopped just in front of me and dropped the ball at my feet.

I laughed.  “Would you like me to throw that?” I asked.  The hound sank into another play bow and yipped at me.

“All right,” I said, picking up the ball.  “Go get it, boy!”

I threw the ball as hard as I could away from the kennels and into the open field beyond.  The dog took off like a bullet, kicking up grass as he bolted after his toy.  He slowly vanished into the dark, where the only hint of his whereabouts was the thudding of his paws on the earth.  In no time, he comes darting back to me with the ball in his mouth, bounding to a stop at my feet.  He looked up at me, wagging his tail back and forth with the ball held firmly in his jaws.

“Leave it,” I said, pointing to the ground.  Without hesitation, the dog obediently dropped the ball at the hem of my skirt.  I thanked him and took it up again.  Just as before, he was more than happy to bring it back to me.  “What a good boy you are,” I cooed.

I threw the ball again and again, trying to get it as far away as possible to give the dog exercise.  As I watched him happily dash away and return every time, I could feel all the stresses of the day begin to unravel.  As they always did when I played with my father’s hunting dogs, my muscles began to relax.  Suddenly my corset didn’t feel quite as tight, breathing came easier, and my heart wasn’t pounding anymore.

“Wow, that’s amazing.”

All at once, my tension returned.  I gasped and whipped around, searching for the source of the voice.  Cursing the dark, I scanned the surrounding yard, and my eyes fell on a young man standing against a nearby tree.  He could have been standing there the entire time, and I never would have known.  It was so dark by then that he blended in with the background.

Before I could stop him, the dog I’d been playing with rushed past me, dropping his ball and barking excitedly as he bounded up to the newcomer.  The young man bent down and greeted the dog affectionately, scratching behind his ears and rubbing his back.  The dog rolled over and let the young man scratch his chest and belly, kicking his leg again and again.  It was like they had known each other all their lives.

In honor of the holiday, the young man was in costume.  He was dressed as an Arabian dancer, wearing a loose-fitting shirt and pants that came alive with colors.  His eye mask was bright orange, which shone brightly against his glossy jet-black hair.

“How long have you been standing there?” I asked nervously, wrenching my hands together.

“Long enough,” the young man said with a laugh.  He rose and walked towards me with the dog in tow, picking up the ball on his way.  When he reached me, he grinned widely, flashing bright white teeth.

“I didn’t mean to scare you.  I’m sorry,” he said genuinely, patting the dog on the head.  “Seriously, though, I can’t believe you actually got him to play fetch.  He doesn’t listen to anyone.”

“Oh?” was the most intelligent thing I could think to say.  What the young man said surprised me, since I had such an easy time getting the dog to obey me, but I was still so scared that I couldn’t quite find my voice.

“Yeah.  You got him to quit barking, too.  I don’t think anybody’s been able to do that.”

“He’s a good boy,” I said.

The young man laughed again.  It was an easy laugh, as if he hadn’t a care in the world, and it starts to put me at ease.  “He’s good for you, maybe, but he can’t go hunting with the others because no one can get him to listen.”

I recoiled.  “Really?” I asked.  It made me sad to hear this.  He was a hunting dog, after all.  He should have been out running after foxes with his brothers and sisters, not sitting back in a cage while he watched the others go out.  No wonder he wouldn’t listen.  No one would give him the chance.

“Maybe if you tried taking him hunting, he would listen more.  He barks so much because he’s bored.  He needs exercise to tire him out.  He just needs a little extra attention is all.”

The young man looked up at me, and I felt a sense of dread.  Great, there I go again, opening my big mouth and being completely un-ladylike.  I should have just kept quiet.  That’s what my governess would have told me to do.

But the young man didn’t scold me, nor did he shy away from this girl who clearly didn’t know her place.  He looked up at me and tilted his head to one side, as if he had never considered this option before.

“You think so?” he asked.  “You think he could start hunting with the others?”

“With the right kind of attention,” I answered, a bit more confidently.

“I guess you’re right,” the young man conceded.  “Whenever we play with the dogs, it’s always in groups, and commands are given to the hunting party instead of to individual dogs, so maybe all he needs is one-on-one training.  I’ll have to try that out.”  He looked up at me.  “Thanks,” he said with another wide and friendly grin.

“Um…sure,” I answered uncertainly.

I watched as the young man routinely put the dog back into his cage.  He opened the gate, and the dog immediately retreated into his shelter.  He laid down obediently and put his head on his paws, closing his eyes.  The young man laughed and shook his head in disbelief, as if marveling at how easy it was to get the dog to go to sleep for the night.  He looked down at the red rubber ball still in his hand, bounced it on his palm a few times, then put it in his pocket.

“So you look after the dogs?” I asked.

The young man snickered.  “You could say that.”

“Then why doesn’t he have a name?” I asked.

He shrugged.  “No one’s ever given him one.  He’s so disobedient that he doesn’t get a lot of attention, so no one has bothered to try.  I just keep calling him Trouble.”

I sighed sadly.  Poor baby, I thought.

“Did you want to give him one?” he asked.

Startled at the opportunity to name a royal hunting hound, I walked up to the cage and looked in at the animal nestled inside his shelter.  He looked like he was already asleep.  I looked at the way his head gently sloped, and at his long and muscular legs.  Whenever he ran, it was always with a straight back and upright tail.  He moved as if he thought very highly of himself, as if he knew he was handsome.  It was the way I had always imagined royalty moving—as if they know they’re a cut above the rest.

“Prince,” I said.

This elicited another snicker from the handler.  “Prince, huh?” he asked.

“I think it suits him,” I answered.  “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing,” he said in response.  “It’s perfect.  His name is Prince.”

We stood there for awhile, watching as Prince’s chest heaved up and down with sleep.  After a bit, I noticed his paws beginning to twitch, and his tail started to flop up and down on the soft padding in his bed.  His breathing became slightly irregular, and his snout started to quiver.

“He’s dreaming,” I said with a giggle.

“Yeah.  I wonder what about?” the young man said.

“Probably catching that ball,” I suggested.  “Or a fox.”

He laughed.  “Maybe.”

We stood awkwardly together for another minute or two before I felt like I had to break the silence.  “Well, I should probably be getting back to the ball,” I said.

The young man barked with laughter, this time sounding slightly venomous instead of happy.  “If you want, but trust me, there’s no rush.  They’re still celebrating as strongly as they were when the ball started.  But come on, I’ll escort you.”

He straightened his back and offered me his arm.  I took it uncertainly, unsure how to read his unwavering kindness.  Who was this man?  Why was he out here too when he could have been celebrating?

“Shall we take a turn about the garden first?” he asked.  “It will still be a few hours before the party dies down, and I am in no rush to return.”

“Nor I,” I responded.  “Okay, if you know your way around.  I found my way here by accident.”

He laughed.  “Not to worry, I know these gardens very well.”

We started down the way I had come, emerging from the kennel yards and onto the garden path.  As we wandered, we began to talk.  We started with the subject of hunting dogs and all the different hounds we had owned, both good and bad.  When that subject ran dry, we moved easily on to whatever came to mind: music, plays, dancing, recreational activities, and even the flowers lining the path.  There were periods of quiet as well, but they were not awkward.  In fact, the more we talked, the more comfortable we were with each other.  As we conversed, meandering aimlessly through the royal gardens, I felt more and more that I didn’t have to adhere to my etiquette lessons for guidance on what to say or how to speak.  My companion smiled and laughed at just about everything I said, and his easy-going nature put me at peace and boosted my confidence.  In turn, I found the young man very interesting.  He had worked with hunting dogs since he was very young, enjoyed fast rides through the woods, and even liked reading.  We found that we have a good deal in common.

As the mood lightened more and more, I found myself studying the contours of his face, trying to imagine what it would look like without the eye mask.  I kept my grip on his arm, and my face flushed when I felt the hardened muscles beneath.  I had been around plenty of boys before, but this one made me feel different from the others.  He wasn’t a boy, I realized, he was a man.

But, at long last, it was time for us to return to the ball.  The young man had been slowly circling us back to the doors from which I had escaped hours earlier, and I could hear the faint sounds of the string quartet again.  The merriment sounded just as rowdy as it had when I left, and I prayed that my family was ready to depart for home, even though I didn’t want to leave my new friend.

As we came to the fountain where I first sat down, the young man stopped me, pulling me so we faced each other.  His sudden closeness made me nervous, but not the same way the ball did.  This nervousness was in my chest instead of my stomach, and it made my heart leap the same way it had when I first found the royal kennels.  I looked up, and for the first time, I could see his eyes through his mask.  They were deep brown, so dark they’re almost black, and they shone with a friendly, carefree warmth.

“I feel terrible asking this question so late after meeting you,” he said quietly, “but it occurs to me that I don’t know your name.”

I recoiled because it hadn’t yet occurred to me to ask for his name either.  I guess it didn’t really matter, since we were getting along so well.  Still, it would have been helpful to know.

“I’m Ki—er—Katherine,” I answered awkwardly.  “Lord Williams is my father.”

“Katherine, huh?” the young man said with a sly smile.  “You hesitated.  What were you going to say?”

I smiled shyly at the ground.  “Kitty,” I murmured.  “My family calls me Kitty for short.”

He nodded and smiled even wider, making my heart flutter.  “I like Kitty much better.”

“Thank you,” I said meekly.  “So do I.”  Suddenly I was frightfully aware that there might be mud at the hem of my dress, and that my heavy eye makeup might be smudged.  I felt my cheeks grow hot.

“Would you care to dance?” my companion asked.

Oh no, I thought dismally.  Just what I’ve been afraid of.  My giddy happiness gave way to dread.  The last time I had danced with a boy, I had nearly broken his little toe.  This was precisely the situation that I had been trying to avoid by bolting from the ballroom.

“Oh, um…I…see…” I stammered.  I didn’t want to disappoint him, but I didn’t want to embarrass myself, either, especially in front of the entire court.  My sisters would have never let me hear the end of it.

“What’s wrong?” he asked in concern.  “You don’t want to?”  It was the first time he wasn’t smiling, and I found that I greatly disliked the way his face fell.

“No, no, I do!” I responded quickly.  “I really do, it’s just…I’m terrible at it.”

Thankfully, his easy smile returned, and he laughed with relief.  “You can’t be that bad.”

“I nearly broke a boy’s toe once,” I reluctantly admitted.  “And anyway, what happened to not being in a rush to get back?”

“I didn’t want to dance before,” he answered simply.  “Now I do.”

I was so flattered that I had no idea how to respond to him.  I sighed heavily, trying to think of another reason to try and tell him no.

“I’m sure you’ll do just fine,” he insisted.  “Come on, I dance well, so I’ll lead you.”

Before I could object, he grasped my hand and hurried toward the ballroom with me in tow.  We burst through the doors and, to my horror, straight to the center of the dance floor.  Somewhere in the crowd, I could hear one of my sisters shout my name in surprise.  In fact, there was general shock travelling through the guests as my partner and I took the floor, though I was too nervous to contemplate why.  He gently took my right hand in his left, and gingerly placed his right hand on my waist.  I set my left hand on his shoulder, and we fell into time with the music.

I held my breath, waiting for my feet to trip over themselves as my partner gracefully led me in twirling circles.  But as we danced, I actually felt myself begin to relax.  Somehow, my feet were finding their place through the waltz, and it was easier than it had ever been during my lessons at home.  Before I knew it, I was smiling from ear to ear, enjoying a dance for the first time in my entire life.

My partner smiled back at me, and in the light of the ballroom, I finally got a better idea of his facial features.  He had thin, soft lips, a thin nose, high cheekbones, and a strong, angular jaw.  His skin was soft and clear.  I didn’t need to see the upper half of his face to know that he was beautiful.

We danced and we danced, and it got easier and easier.  I felt graceful for the first time in my life, and genuinely happy just to be around this mysterious young man.  I had never imagined that I would ever feel this way, but this stranger made me feel like I was special, instead of just another one of the boys or some defective female.  It was this boy I wanted to be around most of all.

And that’s when I realized that although I had told him my name, he never told me his.

“Who are you?” I asked.  “You never told me your name.”

My partner hesitated, seemingly reluctant to answer me.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I’m afraid you’ll be mad at me if I tell you,” he said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well…I’ve kind of been deceiving you a little,” he answered.

My heart sank.  “Just a little?” I asked seriously.

He heaved a heavy sigh.  “I am Byron, Crowned Prince of the Realm.”

I immediately stopped dancing and pulled away from my partner, the young man who claimed to be royalty.  I looked into his face and saw fear begin to take shape, his eyes widening in panic as he bit at his lower lip, and I knew he was telling the truth.  Suddenly I could hear my heartbeat in my ears, and it drowned out everything else.  I no longer heard the quartet, the chatter of the ballroom, or the shuffling of dancing feet.  Instead, I listened to my heart race as my mind whirred, trying to make sense of it.

It can’t be, I think.  That doesn't make any sense!

But it did make sense, I realized.  He had knowledge of hunting dogs, which of course he would if he were the prince because he probably goes hunting with them.  It also explained how he had known his way around the gardens so well—he lived there, after all.  He danced so well because he had been taking lessons since he was a toddler.  The audience’s reaction to our entrance, and his reluctance to tell me his name.  Everything fit.  This was the crowned prince of the realm, eighteen-year-old Byron of the First House of Roald, and heir to the throne…and I had been talking to him as if he were just another commoner!


“Kitty, I’m sorry I kept it from you, but I was scared you wouldn’t like me if you knew,” Byron said quickly.  “You seemed so…so extraordinary out by the kennels that I wanted to get to know you, and I thought you would act differently if you knew who I am.”

I was so taken aback that I could no longer find my voice, or even the capability of forming a cohesive thought.  I could only blink stupidly at Byron, who continued explaining himself.

“Look, I…” he lowered his voice to a whisper as he stepped closer to me, “…I hate balls.  Mother and Father have been using them to try to find me a wife since I turned sixteen, but every girl I meet is the same.  They’re all prim and proper, and they don’t know how to be themselves.  They treat me like I’m some kind of godling, agreeing with everything I say, even if it means lying to get my approval.  I can’t stand it.  When I talk about how much I love hunting, they go blank, like it’s a completely foreign topic to them, and they treat my hunting dogs like filthy vermin.  They worry too much about what will happen to their dresses.”  He rolls his eyes and rattles his head, as if remembering a particularly horrible girl.

“But when I saw you playing with Prince tonight, I knew you were different.  I wasn’t lying when I said that no one has gotten him to play fetch before.  You’re the first person he’ll bring the ball back to without being commanded.  And you got him to listen!  It was amazing!  Then when we were walking in the garden, I finally felt like I found a girl I could talk to without her batting her eyelashes or giggling behind her hand.  It didn’t feel like a game for once.”

I was still rooted to the spot, completely flabbergasted by everything Byron was saying.  Of course it hadn’t been a game.  I didn’t know how to play that way.  Fetch was the only game I had ever really been good at.

“I’m not asking you to marry me or anything, even though I think you look as pretty as a rose tonight,” Byron continued, blushing a little, “but I would love it if you and I could be friends.  I would love it if you would come over so you and I could play with Prince, or walk in the garden, or talk together.”

He took Prince’s red rubber ball out of his pocket and offered it to me.  In the bright light of the ballroom, I could finally see it clearly.  It was as red as an apple, with teeth marks puncturing the surface, and a thin layer of slimy dog saliva and blades of grass.  It was old, but certainly well-loved.

I felt my cheeks grow hot again.  Somehow, his flattery meant much more to me than the empty compliments paid by the other guests at the ball.  I was starting to calm down, though, and I could actually start forming thoughts again.  My heartbeat faded from my ears, and I could hear the quartet change the pace of the music to something more upbeat.

“Kitty?” Byron asked nervously.  “Are you okay?”

I took a deep and cleansing breath.  “Yes,” I answered.  “I was just startled is all.  I’m not angry with you.”

Seeing the relief in Byron’s face made me smile.

“I would love to come over and play with Prince,” I said.  “I mean, you’ll never get him trained without me anyway.”  I took the ball from Byron and set it in my hand.

We laughed together, and with one sweeping motion, Prince Byron took me into his arms again.  We continued around the dance floor, the red rubber ball still clutched in my hand.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Distinct lack of ideas

This is an incredible topic, and I would love love LOVE to write on it. But I have sat thinking for the past hour or so and still have NO IDEAS. I blame the tests (of which I passed 4/5 WOO!). I can't even talk properly anymore - all my colleagues probably think I'm certifiably crazy for all the times I've said COMPLETELY the wrong word and not even noticed.

Anyhow, I will do this one, most likely on the next make-up week, promise!

In the meantime, I feel like I'm out of touch. How is everyone?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

no ball today

Sorry, no ball today. All my creative juices seem to be restricted to finishing Merlin. It will get done, dang it! I'm so close!

However, I did hear a song on the radio the other day that made me wonder why I did not think of it for last week's topic. "Ho Hey" by the Lumineers is a song that I can never listen to only once. I have to play it at least twice. I just makes my ears so happy.

May I Propose a Make-Up Day?

I really actually intended to do this one (especially since it was my topic to begin with) and I'm sure that this has been the case for more than one of us with more than one topic.

Could we perhaps do a Make-Up Friday?  I know that it's also Topic Friday.  Maybe the Topic could be posted with "Topic" and makeup posts with "MU?"  Or maybe we just add a makeup week to the rotation where we can choose whichever topic we've missed (maybe in the always-prompt-Cassie's case she could do whatever she wants since she's never missed anything).


Monday, August 19, 2013

Like I needed the help...

There wasn't much to it, honestly. It was just a ball. A simple, ordinary, uninteresting ball. Like the balls you got for a quarter in pizza shops or at kiosks in the mall. The kind of background object you'd never think twice about seeing somewhere.

Except that it appeared on the table beside my computer, and I knew I owned no such thing.

I should have ignored it. I had no reason to do otherwise, and I had plenty of things I needed to be working on. I should have ignored it, but the work I had to do was tedious and unappealing, and I thought, What could be the harm?

The minute I touched it, the ball rose into the air in front of me and flashed once, bright as lightning. When I could see again, the ball was gone, but so I was I. Somehow, it had taken me to a post office of sorts.

I walked slowly through the space, almost mesmerized by the behind-the-scenes business, letters and packages whizzing through the air around me as far as I could see in all directions. I found two or three with my name on them, but they turned out to be junk.

Interesting as the place was, I couldn't fathom a reason for being there, but just as I started to get impatient, I saw the ball again, sitting on a nearby table. I touched it again and, with another flash, I was transported again to someplace new.

It was a large reception hall filled to the brim with friends and acquaintances of mine, all talking and chattering. It was a busy, loud place, and while it was great to see some people and share what had been going on since I'd seen them last, it was hard to have an in-depth conversation, and for every person I wanted to talk to, there were plenty I was happy to avoid.

No sooner had I started looking for an exit than the ball was back. Still not quite sure what was going on, I touched it again.

I found myself in a security office, a wall of televisions in front of me, each showing a different picture, but not security footage like I would have expected. Some were showing clips of television shows and movies. Some were showing home videos. Some were showing everyday people just sitting and talking to a camera. I stayed and watched a few, and then a few more, and then a few more, but eventually I pulled myself away, and as I turned from the screens, the ball was there to whisk me away again.

My eyes lit up when I realized I was in a library. But I quickly discovered that this was not a library like the ones I was used to. No YA novels or classics here -- everything I looked at seemed to be self-published -- and not all of it was good, let me tell you. But I found some things worth reading. Lots of it was fiction, some of it was social or media commentary, all of it was fascinating. I could have spent hours there.

By this time, I was starting to become conflicted. On the one hand, I had work, and it needed to be done. On the other, the strange ball had finally led me someplace interesting. But that sense of duty . . .

The ball came back, bouncing slowly beside me, enticing, tantalizing. I thought of all the work waiting for me . . . but, I reasoned, it wasn't like I had a way to get home without the ball's help. So I touched it.

I thought the library had been enticing? Oh, man, it was nothing compared to where I landed next. A giant room, the walls covered in paper, where a countless number of people could walk around and tape pictures to the walls, write remarks, and then everyone else could follow and see what had been said, add their own commentary. I saw so much of that room, and I barely scratched the surface. It was wonderful -- having other people remark on my words, seeing different stories and ideas from new perspectives. Eventually, I tore myself away when it became clear that I could never see everything the room had to offer.

I knew I had work to do, so when the ball appeared at my shoulder this time, I said, "Enough. Home, please."

The next thing I knew, I was back at my desk, my work still waiting for me. Several hours had passed, without my even noticing, and I knew that the time for escape was done. With a sigh of regret, the memory of the places the ball had taken me still fresh in my mind, I dove in.

I've never seen the ball again, not really. But more frequently than I like to admit, when I should be focusing on work, I see something bouncing in the corner of my eye, drawing me away. And if I reach out for it, I am once more drawn away to those fantastic places, led on eternally by the bouncing ball of procrastination.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Topic of Topicville, son of Sir Topsalot

There is a ball. You find it one day where you least expect to, which is weird because you weren't expecting anything. The story of you and this ball can be as long or short as you choose in any sort of genre or setting. The story must start and end with you and the ball.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ya'll pretty much covered it

Essentially, if you mentioned it, I probably want it too. Also, the BBC practically owns my soul for all the things I'm currently watching/listening/waiting for from them.

I'll add a few books:
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (expected 2014)
Cress by Marissa Meyer (expected 2014)
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (August 27th!)
Shadowscale by Rachel Hartman (expected 2014)
The untitled third book of the Nevermore series by Kelly Creagh (expected 2014, though without a title yet, I'm wondering if it'll get pushed back :-( )

I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting right now.

Anyone mentioned Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Once Upon a Time in Wonderland yet? (I'm writing this early, so you might have, but nobody has yet.) I'd also like some time to catch up on books and TV that are already out and I just DON'T HAVE TIME! (Arrow, Covert Affairs, Merlin, Siege & Storm, The Madness Underneath, Dark Triumph etc.)

OH! AND the next season/episode of Cabin Pressure. *Someone* has been taking lessons from Steven Moffat! *swears roundly at John Finnemore for turning a comedy into something that makes me a feels-wrung tear-sodden mess!* That said, it's actually a really effing hilarious radio comedy that stars Benedict Cumberbatch, and you should listen to it. I promise 95% of the tears are from laughter (NSFW, if you don't want your co-workers don't want to hear you snort. Just saying. From experience and all.)

And finally, I'd like to just be MOVED ALREADY! As I write this it's still 3 days away. GAH!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wonderland and Thor

I really, really want to see Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. It looks AWESOME, and I really don't want to wait for it! They were supposed to release it over the summer to help ease over the wait between seasons two and three of ONCE, but then they decided they wanted to play along side of ONCE as it's own TV series. I'm rather sad they went with the second option, because I want to see it NOW!

Other than that, I would also really like to see Thor 2, but I can be a little more patient for that.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

BBC and Life As I know It

Is it just me or do we all have a little BBC crush?

If we're talking media I am most anxious for Sherlock series 3. How did he survive? Does Molly's backbone get stronger? How hard will John punch him, really? This and many more questions just waiting to be answered come November! And apparently November is going to be a pretty busy time--Dr. Who's 50th airing within a day of Sherlock series 3? People will be glued to their TVs the world over! I'd almost tell you to take reasonable precaution: who knows if an alien is waiting to steal your face?

Removed from the world of television, though, I am so excited for October!!! The outreach program I'm taking part in begins the first week and I'll finally know which part of the country I'm going to! Whoooooooo!!

And my sister's getting married next month! I get another brother!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Watchword is Cautious Optimism

So, I've got a list of things I'm waiting for, and most of them I'm pretty excited about.

The first thing . . . doesn't technically count, but I'm including it. I WANT BROADCHURCH. Lemme explain you a thing.

Broadchurch is a British series with David Tennant, Arthur Darvill, and Olivia Colman, and Chase has nicknamed it CSI: Scotland. David Tennant plays a grumpy Detective Inspector who has to solve the murder of an young boy in a small town. The entire eight episodes of the first season focus on this murder, and I WANT IT. Technically, it doesn't count because the whole thing was shown in England earlier this year, and it's currently running on BBC America, but I don't have cable, so I have no way of watching it. But goodness gracious do I want to.

Speaking of British TV, I am also looking forward to the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who (though I have to finish the most recent season first), as well as the third season of Sherlock (give it to me nooooooooow!).

House of Hades, the fourth book in Rick Riordan's Heroes of Olympus series, is due out in October, and after Riordan's literal cliffhanger (yes, there were characters literally hanging off a cliff), I would like some resolution.

Then we have the movies that I am waiting for with Cautious Optimism. There are two. These are movies that I really want, don't get me wrong, but I'm also a little terrified that they'll just be awful.

The first is the Into the Woods movie. I've been following the casting announcements closely, and I'm excited about a lot of their choices -- Chris Pine as Cinderella's Prince,  James Cordon as the Baker, Tracy Ullman as Jack's Mother? Yes, please -- and waiting to see on several others. I think this movie could be magnificent, but I love the musical, and I just . . . I'm nervous. But cautiously optimistic.

And then there's The Book Thief. You all know, most likely, that this is my favorite book ever of all time ever, right? I adore this novel, and while I'm so excited that it's being made into a movie for release this November (!!!), I'm also terrified. Because so much of what I love about this novel is the way that it is told, the way the words are used and put down on the page, and while I think you can absolutely translate that to the screen, I am terrified that the movie is going to go the safe route, and just be a movie about a girl in Nazi Germany who is hiding a Jew in the basement.

Because while that story is wonderful, that's not The Book Thief. What makes the novel stand out is that Death narrates, and that he interjects his thoughts and experiences into the story, and that the story is told out of order, and that you know the heartbreaking end right from the start, but you have to hear the story anyway because it's more than just the story of a girl in Nazi Germany who is hiding a Jew in the basement. It's a story about you, and it's a story about me, and it's a story about Hitler and a Jew named Max and a nine year old girl named Liesel who steals books and how all of us are connected.

Sorry. Started gushing.

Anyway, I'm optimistic, because Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson are in it, and the stills recently released look exactly right, and I know they're casting Death. On top of that, the director has done a lot of BBC miniseries, so he knows how to go about this sort of story. Also John Williams is doing the score, so there's that.

Anyway, I'm also looking forward to seeing Chase at the end of the month for the first time since April, and in seeing what the rest of you are looking forward to!

Wait, Harry Potter!!!!

I know Harry Potter week was last week, but I just found this today and I wanted to share it with all of you. Youtube "Harry Potter and the Ten Years Later." You can watch it all at once (actually full movie length at an hour and a half long) or you can watch it in 5 to 10 min parts.

They might as well have called it "Harry Potter and the Mid-Life Crisis" because Harry is in a rut and feels like his life is too ordinary and boring, Hermione feels she's too perfect and needs to get out and make some mistakes, and Ron feel's he's too much of a screw up. It's basically a parody on the series. And it does contain the usual sex and marijuana jokes that turn me off from most parodies. But I stuck with this one because (a) it has believable characters. I understand the relationship struggles between parody!Ron and parody!Hermione. And even though the parody characters are very different from their book counterparts, they also have that strong bond between them that is prevalent in the books.The other reason I like it is because (b) it actually has a fantastic plot! I was very pleasantly surprised. It was really, really good, and believable.

So check it out, and let me know what you think! Because I have no one else to talk to about it.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Oh yeah, things have release dates

So I'm really bad about keeping up with things and when they are released.  Like Once.  Totally forgot that it's coming out soon.  So this post is things that I currently remember are coming out and are currently looking forward to.  Ask this question tomorrow and I will probably give you a completely different answer.  But here it goes:

1.  Teen Wolf (The summer finale is coming up and I can't wait for the second half of the third season.)

2. Girl Meets World (Cassie and I were on a Boy meets World kick and I can't wait to see them all grown up with kids of their own.  Especially Shawn.  Rider Strong is sooooooo attractive)

3. Switched at Birth (The only show that I know of that has Deaf Characters so I'm always looking forward to new episodes)

4. How I meet Your Mother (I'm waiting for the 8th season to come out on Netflix.  I want it so bad!!!)

5. Thor 2 (Cus well.  . . Loki)

6. Borderlands 3 (It's my favorite video game!  I want it now!!! I'm hoping to have a gaming computer by then so I can play with people online.  I'm probably not gonna upgrade my playstation and instead upgrade my computer.  Gaming computers don't need upgraded as much or as often as platforms.)

7. Supernatural (Have you seen Dean Winchester?)

8.  The Hobbit part 2 (The first one was so amazing. . . )

9.  The next Hawkeye Issue.  (So the current run of Hawkeye is written by a man named Matt Fraction and he is a freaking genius.  The issues only come out once a month and it's like freaking torture waiting for them.  It is so well done and the art is so unique.  If you can get to a comic store I really really suggest picking it up.  Or pick up the trade here :
It follows Clint in between missions when he's you know, healing all those broken bones because he's not a God, or in an iron suit or giant green rage monster)

That's all I got media wise.

I'm also looking forward to starting my new job teaching high school geometry.  I'm always looking forward to gaming (table top: modern D20 and D&D as well as board game nights)

Other than that I'm great.  Cassie is a blessing and I am loving living with her.  I've challenged Chase to a duel with rusty spoons so we'll see what happens in December.

2.9 to you all :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mostly Media

You're right, there is a LOT of new media being released this coming fall and spring, and I'm pretty stoked about it.  I would be looking more forward to all of it, though, if I had you guys nearer to me so I could enjoy it with you.  I have little to no social life except for texting and iMessage (which is awesome, don't get me wrong), so I've been feeling pretty alone.

BUT, that wasn't the question.  The question was, "What are you looking forward to?"  First of all, I can't wait for Thor 2: The Dark World.  Yeah, okay, I love me some Loki, but I know they're kind of slowly weeding him out of the movies, and he isn't going to be in the second Avengers coming out in a couple of years, but his beauty has kind of lost its luster for me (not that Tom Hiddleston isn't beautiful, of course...I would still only just be able to contain myself if I ever met him randomly on the street).  It's more Asgard!  And Elves!  And Chris Eccleson (sp?) is the lead elf!  It makes my geeky side feel all warm and fuzzy to think of Doctor #9 dressing up as an elf and terrorizing the Norse god of thunder  =P  Along those lines, there's also Captain America: The Winter Soldier hitting theaters early next year.  Basically, just about anything Avengers related is going to turn me into a little fangirl again, and I'm pretty stoked about that movie.  Then there's the third season of "Once Upon a Time" hitting the air soon as well, and that has me all kinds of excited, even though I have to finish season 2 yet...(I know, I know!  Don't judge me!).  I also really want to see Catching Fire at some point, although I don't think I'll be seeing that movie in theaters.  I just finished reading the book about half an hour ago, and there are some scenes that are so bloody and graphic that I don't want to be haunted by them on a big screen.  Better to see them on my 36" at home, you know?  There are also several book series (recommended by Anne, FYI) that I would like to continue reading.  I think a few of them have books either coming out soon or just recently released, and I've been reading a lot lately.

Mostly, though, I'm looking forward to school.  I start on August 24th, a Saturday morning, and unlike undergrad, I couldn't give a damn if I tried about having a weekend class.  A Saturday class is better than no class at all, and with Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday off, I can't really justify complaining.  I'll be studying again, going to class, and learning a specific skill set that, if I play things right, will launch me into the rest of my life.  I'm so excited to start, and to quit my boring teller job in order to do it.  And the program is only two semesters, so hopefully by this time next year I'll already have my first paralegal job.

I also have a bit of a three-year plan, one that essentially involves me becoming self-sufficient.  I want to get a good-paying job (I don't need to be a millionaire, I just want enough to live on by myself), move out of Mom's house, and finally take care of all of my own bills.  I want my own car insurance, my own phone account, and my own health/dental/eye insurance.  I am sick of bleeding Mom dry monetarily, and I feel a little more horrible about it every time she pays for something for me.  I even feel bad when I go out to have fun (rare as it is) because it usually means spending money that I know I should be saving.  I want to have my own little house on a quiet street where I can live with my Crazy Cat Lady Starter Kit (a.k.a. Saloona, Blitz, and Jack-Jack).  I also want to take a class in auto mechanics because I'm sick of feeling like a stupid female whenever I have car trouble, and I want to learn how to drive a manual transmission.  I will also, at some point, be getting my Carry a Concealed Weapon permit and buying a firearm because I have realized recently that I cannot depend on anyone but myself to protect me.

Huh...that got a little more psychotherapeutic than I was planning...sorry about that, guys...

Friday, August 9, 2013

So what are you waiting for?

Relax, it's not an existential question.

If you follow movies and TV at all, there have been a lot of announcements recently. Thor 2 released a new Loki-heavy trailer, Sherlock gave us 29 seconds of nothing at all for series 3, Doctor Who announced the new doctor, The Book Thief gave us movie stills and a moved up release date, and I know I'm looking forward to a lot of media happening this fall.

So. What are you looking forward to? Any movies you can't wait to see, TV shows you're dying to get back to, book releases that are highly anticipated? What's coming up that you want?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Who wants to play favorites?

Surprisingly enough, I have a pretty hard time picking a "favorite" character from Harry Potter. With many books/TV shows/movies there comes a point where I am only continuing for that ONE character that I absolutely love, but that never really happened with Harry Potter. That's the problem with something that awesome - it's ALL good!

That said, I'd like to take today to talk about the two characters that were big role-models for me growing up. I read the first Harry Potter book all the way back in 4th grade when it wasn't even HARRY POTTER yet - I had no clue there was even going to be a sequel until the next year! I had already been labeled somewhat of a nerd, and I didn't have the easiest time of making friends - most of us are at least a little introverted, you know how it is.

And then I read this book called Harry Potter, and one of the main characters was not only a girl but nerdy like me! She had a similar attitude and everything - need to solve a problem? Go to the library! Looking back, I would say that reading about Hermione made me feel better about being a nerd. After all everybody loved Harry Potter, and Harry Potter thought she was cool, right?

Later, when Ginny was introduced as a fully fleshed out character I also found her a kind of role model. She isn't quite the smart girl like Hermione, but she *does* have street smarts and a "no-bulls**t" kind of attitude that I loved. She stood up for herself and for those she loved. I was pretty impressed, and I wanted to be more like her.

So maybe they're not my favorites, because that would mean that I didn't love Dumbledore, or Ron, or Sirius, or Mrs. Weasley or anyone else as much. But I would say that they probably had the biggest influence on my life.

Edit: It occurs to me that I will probably be MIA next week, as I'll be busy trying to fit my entire life into a van. I apologize, and I'll see you in a few weeks :-)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

Tonks will always be my favorite Hufflepuff, but Dumbledore is definitely my favorite character. He's witty, wise, has some of the best lines in the book, and is also extremely flawed. It took me back a bit after reading the seventh book. I think I felt a lot like Harry - did I know this person at all? But it all completely makes sense. For someone to be as wise as Dumbledore, you'd have to go through some pretty life changing experiences. Dumbledore has his secrets and sometimes he's wrong, but I can't blame him for any of that.

On a side note, in honor of Harry's birthday, I dug out my Sorcerer's Stone game and started playing it. Hopefully, the youtube link will work by the time this is posted.

Please keep off the dirigible plums.

You should all know by now that I identify most with Hufflepuff house, so it might seem odd that my favorite character is a Ravenclaw whom I adore because of characteristics that could be considered Hufflepuff in nature. 

Ladies and gentlemen I give you the ever-hopeful, joyfully kind, and unfailingly loyal Luna Lovegood.

Despite being bullied and made fun of in school, Luna trusted the trio and the rest of the DA without question. She doesn't behave as if she ever expects them to be unkind to her, which is some kind of amazing. It is almost implied that Luna never had friends before Ginny, Neville, and the trio and yet she didn't even hesitate to join them on their rescue mission to the Ministry of Magic. Despite being shunned for her oddities in the past, it took a single branch of friendship from those five to inspire unshakeable loyalty. She never grew bitter or resentful, and never closed herself off from her peers. She lived hopefully for the day she would have a true friend and saw those hopes fulfilled. 

As for being kind, who else but Luna could be trapped in a dungeon for months and still be courteous and helpful to others? She took care of Ollivander as best she could in a very terrible situation. He called her, "an inexpressible that terrible place."  When Harry, Ron, Dean, and Griphook arrived she reacted with neither agitation or despair. Just by the way she spoke, casually mentioning the nail they use when they need to break things being in proximity to the water jug (which was important because she was living in an environment in which they could not see), we can tell she made the best of the situation. She didn't even get upset with Ron when he was being difficult and instead spoke with "please" and "thank-yous." 

Dobby's death was quite a blow to Harry, but Luna's suggestion that they close Dobby's eyes must have been healing for Harry's heart, giving the elf an appearance of peace and dignity no less deserved than Dumbledore himself. Remember it is she who spoke Dobby's eulogy with respect, saying all the words Harry could not.  

As for loyalty, Luna never backed down. She stood with the DA against Umbridge and at the Battle of the Ministry. She stood against Death Eaters on the Astronomy Tower. She stood against the Carrows both before and after her stay at the Malfoy Manor. She stood until the end.

Luna is the most Hufflepuff Ravenclaw I've ever heard of, and I do believe that at the center of our hearts we should all have a little Hufflepuff inside.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Boy Who Might Have Been

Neville Longbottom.

Show of hands: who's surprised? No one? Yeah, that's what I thought.

See, I wrote a 20 page paper on Neville for Dr. Diehl. I could just copy and paste that here, but I'll summarize for y'all. :)

I adore Neville.

I adore Neville because of his quiet strength and his core of iron and the fact that he broke the cycle. This is a kid who, at eleven, stood up to the most popular kids in his grade because he believed that their actions were wrong. He stood up for his morals and values even at a time when he had trouble standing up for something as basic as himself. Throughout the series, nothing gets in his way of pursuing what he feels to be morally right. His morals are more important to him than his own image.

I adore Neville because he is a quiet hero, an almost unwilling hero, and he never seeks glory, largely because he constantly feels he doesn’t deserve it. He lives everyday with the belief that he will never be good enough (because his grandmother is a horrible, awful human being who I despise more than any other character in the series), but he goes out and does what needs to be done anyway. He’s Harry’s foil, and he’s the character who keeps Harry honest, because he could easily have been the boy in Harry’s place. He grows into his legacy and his abilities in Deathly Hallows and becomes a full fledged BAMF, the underestimated hero, and the one who, if left up to him, would remain unsung. Because Neville has never seen himself as heroic. He was only ever doing what someone more heroic than him wasn’t around to do, only ever doing what needed to be done.

I adore Neville because the kid argued with the Sorting Hat about where he belonged; when the Hat wanted to put him in Gryffindor, Neville shook his head and said he wasn't brave enough and he should be in Hufflepuff instead. And the Hat sure as hell didn't listen. He put Neville where he belonged and forced Neville to grow into his Gryffindor-ness, and holy cow does he.

I adore Neville because he became a leader and he instilled hope and he spun a story so everyone could get through those awful, awful days, but the moment it was time to hand over the reigns, he did so. I adore Neville because when Harry passed the torch, Neville alone out of anyone had some inkling of what Harry was going to do, and he let him know that the fight would continue and that no one was giving up, no matter what. I adore Neville because he killed a freakin' snake and said "I'll join you when Hell freezes over" and just became an all-around, damn-straight BAMF.

And I adore him because for all of that, he's still one of the most humble people in the series, and after everything was over, he became a Herbology professor, not an Auror, not a fighter, a teacher and a gardener, and he led a simple life, and it was enough for him.

Basically, I adore Neville because he wonderful and amazing and perfect and I would leave Chase for him in a heartbeat, if he were real, which Chase knows and has accepted.

Neville is my hero and absolutely my favorite character.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Men of Mischief

This will not come as a surprise at all.  My favorite character is one of the . . .  .

The Weasley Twins.

Fred and George Weasley fascinated me from the moment we saw them horsing around with their mother at the train station.  Their love of jokes and mischief endeared them to me.  It helped that I have a thing about twins.  They have always fascinated me and they usually end up being my favorite characters regardless but the main reason that I fell in love Fred and George was the depth that Joe gave them. JK maked them each their individual person, even if they are mostly lumped together. Like any other character that isn't the Trio each of them got their own personality and layers that made them 3 dimensional .  It's so easy (especially for identical twins) to get written exactly the same.  Fred and George do everything together, they even act the same most of the time. Joe could have easily left it at that, but she didn't.  My absolute favorite scene with the two of them is in "Goblet of Fire," when Harry overhears them aguring over the leprechaun gold that was given to them. It's really the first time that Harry and the readers (who aren't looking for it) really see how different they are.  Fred is more aggressive then George, though George can be just as bad, especially if you drag his family into it.  George has a little bit of a softer side and Fred is definitely more reckless.

In the beginning I liked Fred more than George.  He was more dangerous, reckless, 'edgy'.  He had some of the best fan fiction because he needed to be 'tamed' more than George.  I could see George settling down and becoming a family man, but Fred?  Not so much.  When we were giving our predictions about who was going to die in the 7th book I said "I hope both the twins make it, but I have a feeling that's asking to much.  So Fred better be the one to survive."  Yeah. . .  .I cried like a baby.  It was a bad day. .  .    After the 7th book, as I started to read fan fiction and researching them more and more I don't think Fred could have survived George's death.  George was a little more independent than Fred.  George was the one that was reeling him in and I think Fred relied more on George than George relied on Fred.  George has grown on me.  So I can now say with confidence that

George Weasley is my favorite character.