|| sa11 || We’re All, uh, Special, Here

Everyone’s a special snowflake.  Here’re the awards to prove it.

Writers of the Round Table, I’ll seriously miss y’all next year.  Keep in touch–maybe even write me a letter or too when I’m in Air Force Basic Training, eh?

Most Likely To Earn A Doctorate: Maria Copeland

Doctorate degrees come with dissertations, and your word counts never fail to fall too short of the dissertation standard as it is. You’ll have no problem, what with all this practice.

{Okay, seriously, I’ve loved your writing and love of music, photography, and everything artistic.  And…staying sane with a family your size while still making the work you make?  Wheee.}

Most Likely To Work In McDonald’s: Kevin Spence

McDonald’s employees are infamous for saying almost nothing except “okay”.  Or making a snarky comment, which is probably why they don’t work for Chick-Fil-A instead.  I think McDonald’s will love to have you, Kevin.

{But dude being in classes with you has been a blast and I wish I could banter in real life with you sometime.  Let’s make that happen, okay?}

Wait, What?: Genevieve Kendall

I still don’t know if you ever showed me what the church in your novel looked like inside, even though I must have mentioned that lack of description about four times.  Every time you dropped a tidbit about the sanctuary, I thought “wait, what?”.

{In all honesty, I am still in disbelief over how amazing your writing was.  It took a simple theme and developed it with wonderful characterization and innocence.  I’m in love with your characters, and would totally buy the book if you published it.  And the sequel.  And the rights to the whole dang series.}

Wait, What? 2: Megan Yoshioka

Megan gets two of these.  First, your plots and writings always take rather…weird, creepy, or downright ridiculous turns.  I’ve seriously been waiting for your Sandboxes and CW assignments every week, just to see if I could escape saying “wait, what?”.

Second, however, you’re also the person constantly getting lost and saying “wait, what?”.  You need more sleep, dude.  Maybe make fewer art bag thingies next time.

{Okay though you’re one of the most fun people I know.  Thanks for the support this year, the laughs, the calls, and the hours of lost sleep together.  Did I mention you’re an amazing writer?}

Too Much Caffeine: Reigha Allen, Morgan Hirchert, and Myself

Guys seriously, what’s with us and coffee shops?

Teleportation Award: Morgan Hirchert

We’ve said we would invent teleportation for several months, now.  While I’m still working on it, I think we have a pretty functional prototype–your writing.  Your descriptions never fail to impress me, and the amount of emotion and feeling you’re able to pack into a multi-sensory image is pretty much what really caught my eye when I was stalking blogs at the beginning of the year.  I guess I might not ever be able to take us places with a machine, but hey, you’ve taken me a lot of places with your writing.

{This year has been incredible, and it’s too bad I never talked to you in pre-calc last year.  Oh well, thanks for giving your email to Genevieve.)

Walrus Award: Mark Lyford, Morgan Hirchert, and Genevieve Kendall

Current mood?  I think yes.

“I’m Not A Writer” Award: Leanne Zuiderveen

Oh, you’re writing’s pretty fabulous, I must admit.  But seriously, if you wanna be seen as a writer in a writing class, you should stop outshining literally everything and everyone with your photography skills.  Even your majestic writing is trivial in comparison to the sheer glory of your photography.  Skills?  I think yes.  Such talent.

{Seriously, when I saw your photos on your blog, especially the ones dealing with color or depth of field, I was blown away.  Did we get a professional in disguise?  I still think so.  Of course being Canadian, you’re too nice to let on.}

Most Likely To Be A Plumber: Destiny McElroy

With your utterly expansive knowledge of all, er, bodily functions and disposal methods, I have no doubt that you have eliminated your need to study plumbing.

{You’ve been a ton of fun in class this year.  Keep excreting joy wherever you go.}

“But First Let Me…” Award: Reigha Allen

Sheesh.  You’re never gonna be on time with your work if you make coffee, drive to a coffee shop, listen to five songs, take pictures of flowers, sing two more songs, and change tables three times before even turning on your computer.  Just do the work already, okay?

{What do I actually say to you?  I have no idea…just know that your constant prayers, amazing voice, cheerful attitude, and overall relationship with Jesus has been a fantastic light to my life this year.  You better stay in touch, Queen.  You have been commanded.

I’ll send you pictures of the most amazing trees.}

Hidden Jewel Award: taylor robinson

You have said approximately 10 words in class all year.  If I didn’t know better, I’d never read your blog… but MAN your poems are absolutely gorgeous and amazing.  You should be more ready to tell us so.

{Also, thanks for including me in your group with Reigha when I need a second group.  Dang man, those poems are absolute beauty in its most essential form.  Write them always please?}

Night Wolf Award: Josiah Hollingworth

It takes courage to be as honest as you were in one particular post toward the beginning of the year, brother.  You’re another quiet one, but there’s power and courage there, too, sort of like a wolf…at night.  Thank you for that–it’s more inspiring to us than you know.

{Keep in touch, yeah?}

Best Blog Name: Grace Scott

“Through the Eyes of Inexperience” really stood out to me when it came time to read through blog names!  I love your twist on a classic saying.

Name Pun Award: Megan North

I have no idea why, but “MeganMyWayNorth” took so long for me to get…it’s really pathetic.

The =D Award: Emilee Garriss

I’m beginning to think the only emoji you ever use is ” =D “.  Seriously, as soon as I thought of your name, that emoji came to mind.  Huh.

{You’ve been another cheerful light in our class this year!  Thank you for all the support to everything I write, and kudos to you for your fantastic work this year.  =D}

Royalty Award: Eleni Gustaffson

The first thing I remember about your blog was your WordPress picture, with you and the horse.  I thought for sure that it was just a stock image from a fairy tale scene, to be honest.  While we all know Reigha’s a queen, I’m pretty sure you’re secretly some sort of royalty as well.  Hmm.

{Class has been a blast with you!  I love seeing pictures of your dog on Instagram, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to do amazing things in life.  After all, you’ve already done some pretty cool stuff in that memoir.}

The Confusing Award: Grace Caylor

I can’t keep you and Grace Scott straight in my mind, no matter how hard I try.  Therefore, you get this award.  You’re welcome.  Participation trophy?  Hardly.

{Seriously though, I’m sorry I couldn’t think of anything better.  If you keep in touch I’ll be able to come up with something else I’m sure eventually.  XD}

Weather Systems Award: Natalie Ableson

Dude, you’ve been an amazing friend this year.  Sort of like weather systems, you show a sunny, caring side as well as a more stormy, darker, meditative side in your writing.  Your media biography and some of your poetry have seriously been amazing this year, and I hope you’ll never stop writing.

{I know you’ve got two more years left of high school.  Please please keep in touch, I demand to see how those go even if I’m not here in Florida being a student, anymore.  Promise?  Also, Anathema.}

Drag Race Award: Writers of the Round Table

Idk guys, due dates don’t mean a race to the finish line five minutes before it’s due.  But somehow, all of us have been epic at this all year.  Huh.



|| np10 || Sunshine and Song

This piece is kind of weird.  While all the individual assignments are mainly standalone, they are also cohesive in that the same person could have been behind them all (besides me, of course).  As the last assignment in my project, I wanted to bring the big picture to light.  Mainly, this (once again) refers to Sunshine, the word picture and accompaniment I created in the second “chapter”.  This piece is mainly self explanatory to the reader, so I’m not going to sit here and talk about it any longer…

About the Music: I actually did something really weird here.  I wrote the writing first, as always, but wrote specifically about the song that the protagonist was writing.  The key signature, mood, etc.  Then, I went to the piano and acted the part of the speaker, taking those characteristics and making my song to the criteria.  There’s one difference.  While he composes a delicate song in the story, I changed that up in my own (since my music is a soundtrack to the writing) and added elements of a big, booming piano solo more fitting for a finale.  Therefore, it’s not so delicate as it is…uh… loud.  

The picture for the assignment is the same picture as for NP1, which is intentional.  =)


How do you capture emotion on a page?  Or paint colors with music?

The questions swam in his brain, seeming to both clarify and confuse things simultaneously.  He’d been thinking about this for a good long while.  He was an artist.  Of this, he was sure.  A good artist?  Probably not.  Perhaps that’s not something he was meant to be at all.  But an artist, nevertheless.

But…something about his art didn’t seem to capture the full weight of the world, the components of the experience that others called emotion.

That thought was eating him alive, even more now than ever before.

Focus.  Focus on the painting.  You don’t have much time left here.

He bent back over his painting.  A boy, sitting alone in a clearing, sunlight filtering through the trees.  So many trees.  Dust particles, even, brushed delicately within the painted light.

Picking up his finest brush, he painted an eagle, soaring overhead through the treetops.  Studying the boy in the painting, he carefully etched the face.  Wistful, upturned gaze.  Slightly sad.  Yes, that’s it.

The artist took a sip of coffee, letting his mind wander for a moment.  Huh, someone hadn’t cleared their place at the table across the room.  That might make a good story one day, if the backstory was good enough.  Unless…yes, he could create a backstory.  He pulled out a notebook and scrawled “Empty Coffee Cup” across the top of the page.  Ah, yes.  But the painting.  Focus on the painting.  It needed a caption…

I wish I could take this sunshine and give it to you.

Yes, giving people sunshine would be amazing.  What if…

He listened to the piano music filtering down from the overhead speakers, faintly audible underneath the clattering of dinner plates.  That’s it.

He threw his materials into a bag, tucking the notebook into his back pocket.  Hastily leaving the money for the coffee on the table, he hurried out the door, carefully airing his newest painting as he went.  Up the street, to the right.  Through the alleyway.  Into the door, up the stairs, three doors down.  Home.

Dumping his belongings in a pile by the door, he strode across to the piano in the hall—his closest friend for his five years in New York.  Let’s make some sunshine, shall we?

What would make a good piece of sunshine?  Perhaps a major key.  Say, G major.  G major is always pretty bright.  Maybe some quick patterns of notes in the right hand, because there was always mist or dust in the sunlight, moving with the air current.   And overall mood?  Wistful?  Like the painting?  Perhaps.  Or maybe happy, like the sunshine.  Yes, that was it.  Delicately happy.  Playful.  Bright.

He struck a chord, played some notes.  Music always helped him get feelings and emotions out.  Put some of them into the brain, and let the brain take them to the fingers.  And then of course, let the piano take the emotion from the fingers and make it into sounds.  Music.  Voice.

He played his composition over and over on his beaten-up iPod, listening to the voice memo while gazing absently at the picture meant to accompany it.  Yes.  That’s it.  That’s it indeed.

He sprung from the bench, diving for his notebook.  So much of what was missing could just simply be added by condensing it into music and slapping sounds to compositions.  If you can’t see something, you can hear it—and perhaps the two together would be enough.

He flipped the worn pages over in his hands, looking for the perfect words.  So many ramblings of his—the passage of time, feeling alone, missing people, living in the moment—he knew what they needed, almost as if by instinct.  Yes, even that one dream of spanning distance with song—why couldn’t it be a real song?


One exhausting week later, the artist slipped a compact disk into his notebook and snapped it shut.  He scrawled a title across the cover:


|| sa9 || Beginnings and Endings

This assignment was literally to take the first and last sentences from 10 books and put them into a blog post.  Why?  I have no idea.  I almost didn’t post this, but the last one from The Scarlet Letter was too good to pass up.  =P

Some of these are good enough that you don’t have to read the book…

Oathbringer ~ Brandon Sanderson

Eshonai had always told her sister that she was certain something wonderful lay over the next hill.  Then one day, she’d crested a hill and found humans… “Life before death, little one,” Wit whispered.

The Alloy of Law ~ Brandon Sanderson

Wax crept along the ragged fence in a crouch, his boots scraping the dry ground…When one of your own went bad, it was your job to see the mess cleaned up.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ~ Mark Twain

You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter…I been there before.

Raising Dragons~ Bryan Davis

“Halt, foul dragon!”… “Maybe I’m not too tired after all.”

Mindwar ~ Andrew Klavan

Rick Dial streaked through the vastness of space, starlight and gunfire blazing all around him…Rick let his crutches go and walked toward his father.

Winnie-the-Pooh ~ Ernest H. Shepard

Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin…He nodded and went out, and in a moment I heard Winnie-The-Pooh—bump, bump, bump—going up the stairs behind him.

The Giver ~ Lois Lowry

It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened…Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too.  But perhaps it was only an echo.

The Grapes of Wrath ~ John Steinbeck

To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth…She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously.

Jane Eyre ~ Charlotte Bronte

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day…”My Master,” he says, “has forewarned.  Daily He announces more distinctly, ‘Surely I come quickly!’ and hourly I more eagerly respond, ‘Amen; even so, come, Lord Jesus!’”

The Scarlet Letter ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes…It bore a device, a herald’s wording of which might serve for a motto and brief description of our now concluded legend; so somber is it, and relieved only by ever-glowing point of light gloomier than the shadow:– “ON A FIELD, SABLE, THE LETTER A, GULES.”  THE END.

|| np9 || The bell rings in five seconds

A friendship in jeopardy.  A meeting.  An attempt at resolution.  And so much to be afraid of.  When it comes down to it, there are two choices.  To be afraid, or to not be afraid.  Would that it could be that easy.  

This piece attempts to see fear and conflict from the inside of someone’s head.  Perhaps the speaker can learn to be fearless?  Or perhaps it will unfold as it’s imagined.  Maybe we’ll never know.

Title: I didn’t want a title that was just a line from the story.  I wanted a title which would evoke thought in itself.  I prefer to let the title start thoughts instead of tell the reader how to think about what is written.  Thus, I’m not going to explain what I mean by it, this time.  =)

Music Note (har, har): First, D minor is considered to be the darkest key in music, so I used it to create a solo that is intended to be contemplative and driven, while maintaining energy and turmoil.  The words “I’m afraid” are the repeating theme through the writing, so I turned them into a three-note musical representation (a motif) which repeats throughout the song.  The notes D-E-F, in the first passages, are the repeating motif, which is supposed to be really obvious.  It’s translated around and transposed throughout.  I chose D-E-F because it’s an unresolved phrase which leaves room for possibility.  It’s also a bit anxious, like someone poking the water beside a wilderness river.  The motif is finally rewritten as D-E-F# at the end, turning a minor scale into a major scale.  This represents the last line, “I’m not afraid.”

No audio effects were added to this one.  I wanted it to be raw and unedited, just as played.

I’m afraid.

I don’t know what to say.

I’m talking to him today.

What if he doesn’t see the problems, feel my pain?  What if the questions go unanswered still? Or the darkness deepens, the space expands?

I can see it now.  He’ll nod, watch me over his plate of food, sip his coffee, glance at his phone when he thinks I can’t see.  Hear everything I have to say, but not really listen. Assume the time is up before the clock has even started.  I want to be listened to, understood. Make him see that friendship is real, and we need to keep it. I’ll talk, give him my words, my soul, and see what happens.  As if I don’t foresee it already. He’ll keep checking his phone and sipping his coffee and watching other people, as if I’m not there. Because he probably doesn’t care.

I’m afraid.

I won’t know what to say.  The words will get stuck in my mouth, molasses being poured from a jar.  Jumbled, incoherent, just like my thoughts. I’ll start speaking, search for the right things to say, the thoughts that caused this meeting.  And nothing will come. Perhaps it’s for the best, but I’ll never know. I’ll turn my watch over in my hands, fiddle with the napkin. Watch the people walking by, count the seconds it takes for the door to swing open and shut again.  Ponder the jangle of the door’s bell. Every little thing will distract me; my mind is jittery. I can feel it. Trying so hard, and then the bell slashes through the attempt, like a timer on a bomb. And then the effort will expire, and we’ll leave, more apart than before.

I’m afraid.

I’ll fumble through what I’m saying.  He’ll keep staring at his phone, the Wi-Fi connection stronger than our own.  So it will proceed. But I remember, whatever I say, whatever he hears—perhaps the right combination will happen, even by accident.  Unintentionally. It’s so easy to forget, sometimes. It’s not my place to guide everything, to guide even one thing. God will guide it for us, and if something I manage to say resonates with him when he’s listening, then it’s His will.  Oh, and even so, if it doesn’t work, I will have made the effort. And that’s all that matters. Perhaps even failure can be part of the plan. For the first time, I feel it.

I’m not afraid.


|| np8 || please just miss me


“the future is in your hands” // taken with Samsung Galaxy S9+

that moment before leaving is just as bad as the actual leaving.  holding onto something others think is gone…do you know what that feels like?  perhaps this piece will capture it.  i want to have meant something.  to have been here, now, but live on forever.  don’t tell me how amazing it is where i’m going.  please, just miss me.

About the Music: This piece was inspired by the slow Alan Jackson country songs, which reminisce about various things.  The style is usually an acoustic guitar playing a simple melody that denotes longing.  That is what I wanted.  Unfortunately, my fingers slipped a great deal and this is the best take I could get for now.  I may have to re-record this later.  The mood of the piece is supposed to be longing for simplicity.

About the Photo: The photo is another abstract depiction of this theme.  The road leads into the distance, blurred out (just like an uncertain future).  How does it feel when your future is glorious, but the people around you just make it feel like a rock…?

pen to paper.  doing this again.  feel your mind jump in time, in distance.  run up his driveway, knock on the door.  go inside, crash on their couch.  share their meal, it’s nothing out of the ordinary.  hug their little kids and watch their movies with them.  realize they’re not here and you’re not there.  write.

turn on the radio, hear that song.  wonder if it will still mean anything to her in a few months.  it’s only college, nothing has to change.  they all say that—do they believe it? it’s so hard.

done this before.  said goodbye, packed the bags, transferred out of the field, into it, to another one.  just another place to advance the kingdom.  why is it different.

hear them ask your plans, cling to their words.  the weather’s nice out there.  you’ll love it.  so proud of you.  you blink.

please just miss me.

let me know i meant something.

try to do homework.  why does it matter?  feel detached from every situation—when you’re gone they won’t miss you anyway.  why care?  they don’t.

climb those steps, pick up the violin.  play the soft music under the dimmed lights.  “let’s pray.”  one more sermon closer to the last.

feel their eyes, imagine them shaking their heads.  why leave.  what’s out there, better than here.  folly.  couldn’t make it anywhere else, probably.  watch from outside now, to them you’re already gone.

scream, shout, cry.  anything to make them hear you.

please just miss me.

forget how to be alive.  wish time could stop long enough to remember the forgotten words you never got to say.

in just a little while, you can’t say them and they’ll have stopped listening.

silence the doubts.  breathe for five minutes.  hear them come back.  they don’t love you.  just what you can do.  give them stuff.  make them feel nice.  help them.  just things anyone can do—tomorrow, someone else can give them these things.

wish they knew just why simply being there with them makes you feel happy.  try to explain that just for a little while, you’re not really leaving.  just sitting, forever, at the same table, on the same floor, wherever.

hope they realize how it hurts when they push you away just because you’ll really be away later.

begin doubting that forever really exists.  perhaps even that God hears you.  pity that loss is even a word.

oh, to say those four words and make them hear.

please just miss me.


|| sa8 || Song of Existence in Media

Answer the following questions: What song would be the film score for your story? What book would be your main character’s favorite? Which famous Hollywood actors would portray your characters best in a movie?

Because of the nature of this project, I’ve once again bent some of the rules.  Don’t worry, I feel like it’ll be worth your while, anyway.

Song of Existence Theme Song: Who I’m Meant To Be ~ Anthem Lights

A huge part of my “existence” theme, I feel that this is both a personal statement as I move ahead into my college years and the future, and a general statement about life in general.  As you know, this whole assignment has sort of ended up being a statement about life in general, and I feel that the beauty in the words and the instrumental-centered accompaniment make this a truly special song for my project.  I highly recommend listening to it.  Especially in light of my last post, Alive., I believe these lyrics are very applicable.

I don’t wanna spend my life
Trying to fight for what’s not mine
I don’t wanna lose myself
In someone else’s dream
I know I was made with a purpose
To reach past the surface
To live life fearlessly
I want nothing less
Than to be who I’m meant to be

Favorite Book: The Grapes of Wrath ~ John Steinbeck

Because I really don’t have a main character, I decided to pick my favorite book in the context of my theme.  As the speaker, indirectly in man of my works, I felt like it would be nice to pick a book which muses on the state of existence much like I am trying to do.  The Grapes of Wrath is a beautiful reflection on mankind, beginnings, humanity, and other life themes.  Quoted below is my favorite passage from the whole book, describing the group dynamics of nomad musicians.  (Note: I now play all three instruments discussed because the writing was so cool.)

[omitting parts about harmonica and guitar, but they are worth reading in Chapter 23]

The fiddle is rare, hard to learn. No frets, no teacher,

Jes’ listen to a ol’ man an’ try to pick it up. Won’t tell how to double. Says it’s a secret. But I watched. Here’s how he done it.

Shrill as a wind, the fiddle, quick and nervous and shrill.

She ain’t much of a fiddle. Give two dollars for her. Fella says they’s fiddles four hunderd years old, and they git mellow like whisky. Says they’ll cost fifty, sixty thousan’ dollars. I don’t know. Soun’s like a lie. Harsh ol’ bastard, ain’t she? Wanta dance? I’ll rub up the bow with plenty rosin. Man! Then she’ll squawk. Hear her a mile.

These three in the evening, harmonica and fiddle and guitar. Playing a reel and tapping out the tune, and the big deep strings of the guitar beating like a heart, and the harmonica’s sharp chords and the skirl and squeal of the fiddle. People have to move close. They can’t help it. “Chicken Reel” now, and the feet tap and a young lean buck takes three quick steps, and his arms hang limp. The square closes up and the dancing starts, feet on the bare ground, beating dull, strike with your heels. Hands round and swing. Hair falls down, and panting breaths. Lean to the side now.


Actor: Trace Adkins

If there was a casting for this work, and I needed one actor to fill as a speaker for all of the different parts, it would be Trace Adkins, hands-down.  He’s a famous actor in many Christian films; most recently, he appeared in I Can Only Imagine.  His deep, slow voice, dry tone, and quick sense of humor make him a perfect fit for both my style and my theme.  Plus, he’s a pretty legit country singer.

“Anytime you get out of your comfort zone and you

 have to do something that you’re not comfortable doing and that you’re not real sure of yourself in, there’s an exhilaration that comes along with that. I get off on it, so that’s why I enjoy making movies.”

“If I feel like doing something, I do it. If I feel like saying something, I say it. If I feel like dancing, I do. If I don’t, I don’t.”





cold tea


12:54 am

Surrounded by books, piled in hasty stacks or sprawled face down where her inspiration faded

Cursor flashing where inspiration faded

YouTube to distract, but it bores her.

An alternative song, maybe?

She is cold. Always cold.

Blinking twice against the fatigue, she presses repeat on Spotify

“used to say this song made us feel some type of way”

she is not too tired to sing along…but the parents are in bed.

Finally they are in bed, after the stalking about the room

s u s p i c i o u s  o f  h e r

it shouldn’t take this long.

it shouldn’t

it is too cold here.

and ts eliot amazes, always amazes

it was ash-wednesday once; easter once;

teach us to care and not to care / teach us to sit still

she did not care it was easter, when it was. she was too…

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