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Whenever I sit down to write a new blog post (usually at night when *magical* surges of inspiration happen) . . . I sort of freeze up (those magical waves of creativity obviously don’t help much). Maybe it’s the subconscious awareness that so many people could potentially see what I write, and then I get all introverted, even though I can’t see those people, and I huddle into my shell. I guess this will have to change, especially since next year I will be submitting papers to my professors, which essentially means breaking down my barriers of keep-everything-to-myself!

Some exciting little things that rouse my geekier side are currently underway:

Sims 4 comes out next month. Right after school begins. Dang.

It is “Lewis and Clark month” on Tumblr, which brings joy to me daily when I see people post about some of my favorite historical guys.

SCHOOL BEGINS. Yes, I AM excited. SO SO EXCITED. Why? SENIOR YEAR IS WHY.

And then there are the BIG things.

College begins next year!

Final SAT test this October

University of Dallas Odyssey Day happens in October as well

Jaw surgery. no. no. no . . .

Preparing transcript and reading list for college

Applying and getting accepted to my favorite college

FINALLY entering some writing contests.

If I manage to get into University of Dallas, I would hopefully get the opportunity to spend a semester of my sophomore year in Rome! Rome! As someone obsessed with ancient history, anything classical, the “dead” languages (Greek, Latin, Hebrew, etc.), getting to visit Roma Aeterna is the ultimate desire on my lifetime bucket list. It would make me so happy. The campus in Rome looks exquisite, breath-taking, with this haunting sense that I would be existing where the men and women of old lived and breathed. There would be St. Peter’s Cathedral, there would be visits to Greece, to Venice, Assissi, Florence–to quote from the UD website, “all the wonders of the Renaissance.” And in addition to Italy and Greece, I will be able to travel to other countries in Europe (The UK, of course, and France, AND Germany . . .) Now I must share some Pinterest pictures of this potential destination in my future! XD

L'Opera Garnier
L’Opera Garnier
Greece
Greece
The Tyrol
The Tyrol

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Florence
Florence
Paris
Paris
Venice
Venice
the Forum Romanum
the Forum Romanum
coast of Italy
coast of Italy
Library in Prague
Library in Prague
The Alps
The Alps
Verona
Verona

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Rome
Rome
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Mt. Vesuvius
Mt. Vesuvius
Rome
Rome

 

 

Not that kind of horse

6051e418cbd6bf0a65544866f95ec654I love Omnibus. I mean, these huge literature textbooks my mom discovered a year ago when I came back from private school after a semester. Just as a sidenote, I absolutely loved the Literature sessions in English class at the school, and Paideia (which is Greek for “the study of society”–or in other words, the study of such subjects, rhetoric, theology, philosophy, which makes a well-rounded classical student). I loved the Latin class, because it introduced me to this much beloved dead language which entrances me, and comes to me when I’m reading. (And I love the idea that if I ever got thrown back into ancient times I could converse with an Ancient Romans–I LOVE LOVE studying ancient Rome, some of it).

Back to Omnibus. The creative writing assignments always exhilarate me. For this particular assignment from this past Spring semester, my sister and I were assigned to write our own journal entries from the POV of a soldier during the War Between the States. I forgot the exact guidelines, but here it is for now!

1864
Every moment of the advance, every scream of a cannon overhead, every burst of musketry—cab0a2656a6570f030d4b44ac80c3bdaevoked a new memory, a new image. Those images rendered themselves with the preciseness of a master artisan, gloriously depicted and I couldn’t put them out of mind. The faces! O, the faces of my comrades, soot-marked and pale or sallow-skinned, all of them faced towards me intently. They watched me for each signal and gesture. I might have been a hunted animal, they the prey. They depended on me for their triumph, their lives. So I inhaled, and did not look at them. I forced myself into a solitary world, a universe where I alone existed and moved. No one else checked my motions. Only I judged myself by myself, and my fear of other men did not possess me.
            There, far ahead, I could make out the stirrings of the opposite side, coming upon us from a stone barrage on the field rise.
            I started, for they rose out of the misting grounds like strange inhabitants of the earth who had not been buried very long. Their faces stood out to me, white and yellow dots of flame with dull navy caps hiding their expressions. I put my hand upon the pistol at my side, and I heard the imitating rustle around me. There! I had just signaled a battle. I nearly guffawed, wildly and stupidly. What would my father say to this, back at home with his bristling brows and thin mouth? He would never believe it of me. I am his youngest, his coolest son, not at all the war horse of my brothers’ ilk, but the mild-mannered pasture nag who dislikes activity. Nor was I the plow house, which was my laborious mother. And now I believed that I had become a god, Zeus with his lightning bolts, who signaled the thunderous roars to begin.
            I cursed softly, which always puts Ma out of countenance. “Here comes Hell,” I heard a boy hiss close by.
            “The Yankees are bound for that place,” came another fellow’s voice. I dared to look around at them, and noted their nervous movements, their meaningless gestures which they could not help. I stared at my own hands, and found them clenching the butt of my pistol. No one fired yet. We waited, waited, as those heavy-footed Yankees remained in a frozen line behind their wall. My own line paused, and gazed out across the narrowed width of field at our targets.
            The kid who foresaw Hell’s coming suddenly raised his musket. He pointed it with a jeer at the starred and striped banner over the blue caps.
            “Not yet!” I snapped quietly.
            His grin froze, and he reluctantly lowered his gun.
            When? When? But there came a messanger from the general, who informed me to wait for a follow-up division. Why? We were here, so plain in view. Those behind the barrage would not wait.
            They didn’t.
            I, supposed to Zeus, became a dethroned monarch, who lost command. I could not shout out at the dull-blue idiots over yonder to wait till I signaled the thunder and fire.
            They did it themselves, they fired into us.
            Men around me crumpled, and a shard singed my epaulet.
            The skin burned beneath. It seared as if scalding tongs pinched the skin beneath the cloth.
            Suddenly I stopped being the indolent field-nag. I became a bull, abandoned to rage, to animal wrath. I stepped forward and the men behind me surged, and we spilled forward in a single tide, a grey tide like the ocean caught beneath a silver moon.
            We went ahead in bounds and strides and sprints, no careful tread demeaning the ground we walked. O, caution drowned beneath us, beneath our pressing vehemence. We came athem, those nameless, faceless dull-blue caps beneath their flamboyant banner. I raised my pistol and shot till it fired no more. And then I knelt, one knee catching a piece of shrapnel. This made it awkward to hold the kneeling position, but I didn’t care. In heaven’s name I say that I didn’t care. It drove me on again with the suffusion across my eyes like a scarlet film and through it I watched the navy caps blurr and discolor, and some of them disappeared before my sight. I shot at each cap and hoped the bullets would pierce the cloth and the bone beneath. Better them than I, for I had a purpose. I write it here, for it is truer than ever, as I am able to pen it. I do admit it, I will admit it in the face of my father and brothers, though I will have nothing to say. They will see it for themselves—they will see how the plow-horse has one leg less than before, and he is all the better for it. He learned to defend, to run, to survive, and destruct anyone who would make a poor beast like myself its prey.

Glimpses {A post of fragmented story}

 

7d09d4cc71a11a557c46a1d878c7d926So, just because, I thought I’d share some of the story I discussed in the last post. Heaven Sight is largely in the works, mainly because I haven’t come up with much incentive to delve into it, (I mean, seriously, hardcore!)

The parts of the story I’ll share are more like short stories, so they’ll be categorized as such.:)

The minute Anton caught a glimpse of Maria he could not stop thinking of how much he would like to paint her portrait.

“So you are the one,” she said the moment they had a chance to speak.

“The one?”

She regarded him from beneath half-closed lids, a lazy effect that was somehow comely. “Yes—the one who helped my brother. Do you think he would neglect to tell me of you?”

“I did not imagine that thanks was necessarily due.”

“Neither did I. But since you are here, I shall.” A flicker of warmth appeared in Maria’s eyes, eyes the color of rich chocolate.

Anton suppressed a smile and glanced aside at a passerby, pretending to be vaguely interested. “Then the honor is all yours. I am not the sort who one would easily thank. Considering the circumstances. Gratitude would be an extravagance.”

“I fully understand the circumstances, thank you.”

“Now, didn’t I just tell you to not thank me?”

Maria tossed her head back and laughed, a rippling sound that poured over Anton like a Mediterranean tide, warm and soothing.

He sucked in his breath, and began to laugh with her. So he amused her? That was evident, the way she peered at him, her lips parted and tilting with mirth.

“Oh-h-h . . . you are much too serious. Just as Armand said.” She shook her head, her russet curls spinning and glinting about her cheeks. “You sound as if you would much rather grate your teeth in oppose to laughing.”

Anton felt foolish. “Is that so?”

“Yes, it is so!” Maria cried. “Why, you sound as if you genuinely didn’t realize that! Gracious, how did you happen?”

Irritation bubbled for only the fraction of a second in Anton’s chest. “I have had little to laugh about. If that is an inconceivable notion, than I am at a loss to explain more . . .”

Anton helped Maria into a cab, and as they rolled off down the street Maria began, “You needn’t explain anything. You seem dedicated to excusing yourself. Is it a felony to laugh? A felony to cry? I believe there are far worse things in the world at present.”

“How clever of you to enlighten me on the state of world affairs.”

“Is calling a girl ‘clever’ rare for you, Mr. Heller?”

“Are you saying that I am closed-minded?”

“Narrow minded is more like it. But forgive me, I take too many liberties. You see, I’ve got a dash of Irish in me, good old common-sense Irish. I say what I think.”

Anton was shocked to see a blush in Maria’s cheeks. Somehow, she didn’t seem demure enough—like she said, too sensible, too straightforward for such modesty. But it pleased him nevertheless. He struggled with the momentary temptation to appear offended by her calling him narrow-minded, but the desire passed when he saw that she had sobered.

“I have every reason to hate you and to be grateful to you. I cannot decide which is better called for.”

“As I said, gratitude would be unwarranted.”

“Yet, you helped my brother when no one else would. That deserves something more than a handshake and a ‘thank-you’.”

Aaaand some more! I’d love to hear what any of my followers think, or just any random feedback in general (politely given, if you please :D)

“This may surprise you,” Anton said sharply, “but I haven’t any particular desire to be of service.”

“I thought not.” And the way misery pulled at Armand’s mouth indicated that he had known this long before.

Anton resettled his spectacles upon the bridge of his nose, something he had taken to doing when his hand began to feel unreliably tremulous.

“I have given you somewhere to stay, so that you wouldn’t resort to a doorway in some black alley.”

“Yes.”

Anton jerked around so that he directly faced the teenaged boy. “Then quit with the vague hints, will you?”

“Sure, sure.”

But Armand’s face paled, and he sat with a glazed look in his eyes, hands resting in his lap, too limp for comfort. Anton swiveled around in his chair to face the desk again, and trained his attention as well as he could upon the sheet of paper, his charcoal stick lying on the desk, ready to be picked up. Anton touched it with a shaking finger, a strange discomfort tingling in his nerves, so that he could not be sure of his present ability in rendering a suitable picture, a sketch even. He grimaced, his gaze wandering to the window in front of him, finding his dark reflection against the glass. The nausea that had become so familiar began to stir warmly in his stomach, and he swallowed.

Heaven Sight

20130925_225058 (1)Work in progress novel Heaven Sight has been sort of on my mind.

Anton Reinhard grew up when the fever pitch of war angst rose high. In 1917, as a small child, he faced the brutal death of his father, in an anti-German riot on the streets of New York. He grew up learning to look after himself, but under the protecting wing of a compassionate priest. As he grows older he develops strongly as an artist, seeking and loving beauty and meaning, but finding only disillusionment in the world around him. As his intent search for Heaven’s sight continues, with the furor of the second World War broiling at a distance, Anton catches frustrating glimpses of something divine in a world catching afire. 

I just came up with the synopsis off the top of my head. I also made a graphic in PS . . . with a quote from Dante’s Inferno.

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I started writing this story a year ago, and now I’ve finally come back around to it. I’ve been in a serious dry spell lately, which is tragic. I will sometimes reflect on the days when I just wrote and didn’t double check every sentence and let the mind flow out onto the page (computer or otherwise). And now . . . maybe it’s just when you get older you get more self-conscious, that’s just me, but it continues, drawing out and reducing me to spinning helplessness and wonder. Where have the words gone, I sometimes ask. Why can’t it be as easy? Why can’t I just churn out the stories a hundred miles per hour and drive on fearlessly?

Honestly, I really don’t know, but I have to tell myself that I’m definitely more of a brooding author type, who takes a while to get things down when the mind is filled with life. Life happens. So, let come what may. I’ve begun to learn that through sunshine and shadow I must write, I must draw, I must devour the thoughts and words and creations of other great artists, because that is the only way to escape the mire.

Part II of this post will feature the snippets I have so far . . .

Gain the World but Lose my Soul?

I have realized that too often lately I turn the radio to a major hit station like i93 or iheart radio, or on Spotify my first choice is to listen to songs that please me in the now. Artists such as Lana Del Ray, Sam Smith, Maroon 5, Ed Sheeran, and numbers of others, all fill my head with their catchy beats and well-written lyrics that capture a mood, emotion, or sentiment. The artist in me responds to the soul in these songs which makes it to the top charts. I have begun to tend towards the view that “Christian” music, movies, and fiction is inferior to the success, glamor, and power of pop culture media. What I am missing is the promise that dwells at the very core of what I label as Christian–the potential striving of a musician, an artist, a writer, who strives to bring light to the world. My generalization, haughty and rather patronizing of the church, I must admit, is one of the most damaging mindsets existent today. Even as I strive to seek the Lord, I am pulled towards the world and its wondrous beauty, its profound talent. Why?

I could give you the cliche, basic answer that Christians who have grown up in the church could give you: “the world wants to pull us in”. And as cliche as that sounds, it’s true. Yeah, you reading this might just chuckle and roll your eyes because I am trying to sound like such a philosopher, mechanically repeating an exhausted caveat of the Church. I am saying it because it is true for those who wish to seek God. DC talk defines the walk with Christ as “the narrow path which you [Christ] have carved”. Why do Christians strive to reach out via music, film, and fiction, making their own genre (Christian film, music, and especially the Amish-dominated Christian fiction)? Because we are called. Why would we want to just sit back and stay safe within the walls of our churches? Why would we want to be merely content with a musical follower of Christ who sings his original songs on the church stage, instead of using a recording studio and extensive radio network to expose his God-inspired songs?

Why would we want to simply blog and pass around books written by a literary Christian? Why not go ahead and strive to publish at a major publishing house?

When I ignore or scoff at Christian media I am in a sense turning to the world as my source of entertainment, fulfillment, and sensory thrills. I am essentially stepping away a wonderful passion and potential that rests in artists who want to honor God with their talents. Why should I have to settle for the talent of pop culture royalty? Sure, they sound good. They look good. They make good stuff. But that shouldn’t be a reason to settle for them, and let them dominate America. Because even that which creates the most delightful feelings in us does not automatically make the catchy song of “La La La” or “Stay the Night” right.

What I’m trying to say is, the Church, the Bride of Christ, has a mission. So often I have almost subconsciously decided that this mission is either unsuccessful, unimpressive, or simply unattractive. That is not to say that I see a complete lacking in Christian Media. I greatly admire the music of TobyMac, DC Talk, Newsboys, Natalie Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, and many others. But sometimes, I just want to listen to i93, let my adrenaline get pumping to a catchy song. And this isn’t wrong, but I question my priorities. If I really mean what I say about the Church reaching out to the world, daring to stand up to the giant of Pop Culture, Ivy League scholars, and the Left Wing, we definitely have something–I mean someONE–going for us. God blessed Hollywood actors with their ability to capture emotion, perform on the silver screens. He gave singers such as Demi Lovato and Ed Sheeran their beautiful voices. HE is in control. So why can’t we look to Him (why can’t I look to him??) and realize that He is behind who we are and what we do. In fact, what we do comes from who we are. And when we are in Him, what we do can be better than anything imagined. It can change hearts. It can give hope. It can stir the embers of the truest love–that love which Christ had for us, when He hung on the cross.

I will probably follow this up later on, but for now . . . here you are. dff4cbac1a1c1ff3638f29eead9d9b7e