Uta Hagen--

"We must overcome the notion that we must be regular...it robs you of the chance to be extraordinary and leads you to the mediocre."

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Recap

I have, again, decided to do a recap for this year. This decision comes with a few complicated decisions about what to talk about on this blog and what should remain private. Nothing horrid, I assure you.

The year began with a sense of relief. 2010 was over – the worst year of my life was over. Although I had dreaded 2011 so much and had felt almost guilty for entering into it, once that ball dropped and “Happy New Year”s erupted throughout the house, I knew something amazing had happened. For my family, it was a promise that the coming year couldn’t be worse than the one that had just ended. But for me, it was something else, maybe only slightly different. For me, it was a promise that I was going to make it through Jimmy’s death. No matter what life threw at me, I would make it. And thus far, I have.

In February, my cousin gave birth to a beautiful baby boy – James Henry – on the 7th. Baby H, as we have come to call him, has been such a blessing to watch grow, though I didn’t meet him until a few months later. He’s full of smiles and I think that’s exactly what our family needed. Also in February, the rest of Jimmy’s unit returned home from a one year deployment to Afghanistan. They were met by love, honor, respect, and thanks by their families – and maybe a little bit of bitter sweet hearts by mine. On February 18th, my uncle turned 50 and I gave him a book of poems, letters, emails, and all kinds of stuff that I had written to, about, or for Jimmy, his son. On the last day of February, having been half a year since Jimmy was killed in action, I began writing again. There was an odd feeling that day when I finally got the “okay” from Jimmy’s brother. I looked at a picture of Jimmy smiling in his full battle-rattle and I just felt…at peace. I cried with joy that I didn’t quite understand. I still don’t understand it. The only thing I can say is maybe, just maybe, that was Jimmy’s way of saying that he was okay with this project, too.

In March I attended two “Packing Parties” to send supplies to the Troops – one through the Thank You Foundation and the other through the Yellow Ribbon Support Center. I went on Spring break and just did a bunch of local stuff we don’t often take advantage of. Other than that it was a pretty quiet month.

April, however, definitely anything but quiet. I went to a Red’s game with Jimmy’s oldest daughter, which was fun – but cold. I took a ride on the motorcycle with my uncle in the 10th. On the 15th of April, my cousin, Tyler, deployed with the United States Marine Corps. He would spend one month in Japan and then seven in Afghanistan. How this affected me is pretty indescribable. I don’t think I ever let the horrors of war be real until Jimmy came home with a flag draped over him, and having Tyler deploy just eight months after that really scared me. I prayed for him every night and wished for nothing more than for him to come home safely. I talked to him via Skype on April 25th, and that would be the last time I heard his voice for nearly eight months. On a lighter note, in April I saw “Water for Elephants” with my friend, which I really enjoyed. We also found out the truth about what happened to Jimmy on April 17th. And that day is a day that I will never forget. I remember holding my baby cousin, Nik, and just sobbing as my aunt told me. But what I remember most clearly is the sense of pride and relief that settled in me, knowing that Jimmy wasn’t alone. I resolved that day to meet the men that were with him – and I’m proud to say that I have. A Gold Star Family should never have to wonder what happened to their Hero, and they definitely should never be fed lies. I’m proud of Jimmy, and I couldn’t have asked for better men for him to have served with.

In May, my school held Student Council elections. I didn’t win, but having made it half way through my sophomore year, I honestly think that was a blessing in disguise. Leanna Renee Hieber came to town once again for her book The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess which is always an exciting event. On May 19th, I held Baby H for the first time, which was awesome. I love that kid. Jimmy would have turned 28 on the 24th of May. On May 28th, nine months after he was killed in action, we held a memorial for him and dedicated a stone to him. I was honored to speak at this event in front of not only my family, but several high-ranking government officials state and nation-wide. But the people that I was most honored to speak in front of were the four soldiers that served with Jimmy. I have never been more honored in my life than when I met these men, one of them especially that put my mind at ease. My only regret is that I had to speak right after Jimmy’s staff sergeant – that was the second hardest speech I’ve ever had to give. The man that I’m speaking of has undoubtedly become family in the months since, although we accepted him as such on the spot. He told many stories of Jimmy as a soldier, which was a side of him that was completely foreign to me. He also did something that, to this day, touches my heart. He wanted to give me a bracelet that Jimmy had made for him out of 550 chord. There was no way I was going to let him do that, but the fact that he offered…I don’t think he will ever know how much that small thing meant to me. And I’m not sure I can explain it either. But, SSG Riley, if you’re reading this, thank you. That’s the lamest thing to say, but I have to thank you. I don’t know what else to say.
I should also mention this guy pictured in the red.  He was one of Jimmy's best friends and he has helped me realize that I have to keep living in ways that others could not.  I met him at Jimmy's visitation, and he just came over and hugged me.  That was the first time after I got the news that Jimmy had been killed that I had let myself believe that I could make it through this.

On June 4th, I brought a soldier home to his family with smiles. It was a hot day, but it was so worth it to ride with the Patriot Guard Riders to see that soldier’s surprise when bikes with flags escorted him back to his parents’ house. I will never forget that day. On June 14th, I turned 15, which was pretty exciting, I guess.  On the 18th, my little sister turned 4. On June 15th, my cousin, Corey, got out of the United States Army. On the 28th, Corey arrived in Ohio.

On July 16th, my family and I left for Myrtle Beach. We stopped overnight in Tennessee and had dinner with my cousins – two of which I hadn’t seen in years. Yes, Scott, I’m talking about you. It was so good to see them. Sometimes we get so caught up in our everyday lives, we forget that our family won’t always be there. I sat around the table that night and looked at each of my family members. It amazed me how far each of them had come, Scott and his son especially. His son was eight at the time, and he’s just about the sweetest, funniest kid I’ve ever met. I hope he turns out just like his dad. We could really use some more people like him. The next day, we traveled the rest of the way to Myrtle Beach and we spent 5 days there. I rode with my uncle a couple times upon returning home, nothing PGR related, though. On the 29th, I saw possibly the worst movie ever made – “Cowboys and Aliens” – with my ‘cousin’, Nina, my friend, Kyle, and his cousin, Aaron. Note to self, never let Kyle choose the movie. We would have been better off seeing “Mr. Poppers Penguins” or “Winnie the Pooh”. But we had fun nonetheless. Even if there were a lot of short jokes (amongst other jokes *glares at Nina*) made.

And then August came. You know that month that makes you want to run backwards through the summer and just cling onto whatever last bits of freedom you can? Yeah, that month. The one year anniversary of my Granny came and went on the 3rd, and my dad turned 50 the next day. I saw the Smurfs movie, which made me love to be short. My Great Grandpa would have turned 100 on the 6th, which was pretty cool to me. My friend, Abby (HEY YOU’RE ON THE BLOG AGAIN! YOU ARE ACCOMPLISHED!) came over on the 11th and she got to see me open my Advanced Reader’s Copy of DARKER STILL by Leanna Renee Hieber (one of my most favorite books ever). I went to the lake with my grandparents, and my aunt and cousins joined us the next day. On the 19th, my family and I went to Columbus for the weekend as a last hoorah of summer. We met my cousin and his girlfriend for breakfast Saturday morning which was lovely. But it’s hard to eat next to someone that tall – he was cutting his pancakes and about elbowed me in the face. Granted, that could have been on purpose. Then we went to the zoo. We went back home and I started my sophomore year of school on the 24th. On the 28th, we honored Jimmy’s one year angelversary. My aunt and her sister went skydiving at the airport where we brought Jimmy home. We then let off 27 balloons in his honor, one for each year of his life. Later that night, we held a candle light ceremony at his grave and I gave an impromptu speech. And we made it through that day.

On September 10th, I went with some of my family to Sunbury, Ohio for the Fallen Heroes Memorial Dedication. It was an awesome ceremony and a highly emotional day. If we’re friends on Facebook, you can read my thoughts on that day there – I don’t think I can more adequately describe it than I did there. On the 11th, we attended a 9/11 remembrance ceremony. On the 16th, my dad drove my brother and I to Columbus and we spent the weekend with my cousin and his girlfriend. That weekend was definitely a highlight of my year. I laughed so much that weekend and I bonded not only with my cousin, but with his girlfriend too. It was a great weekend, and I don’t think they know how much it really meant to me. We went to the Ohio State campus on the 17th and that was just amazing. I’m completely in love with it. And now all I can say is, cousin and girlfriend if you’re reading this, you’re going to be soooooo sick of me when I go to college at Ohio State and live only minutes from you!!

On October 1st, my school held their homecoming dance, which was fun, but really crowded and hot. On the 8th, my cousin’s scholarship fund – Shabooms – held its first annual bike ride. I rode with my cousin mentioned above and I had a great time. My cousin, Scott, also came with his girlfriend and it was just a great day. It was also the 12 year anniversary of my mom’s death. In that respect, I was really glad I rode with my cousin. Every time my mind began to wander, he’d do something – pinch my knee, use my leg as an arm rest, start singing, etc. – that kept my mind off of it. I don’t know if he knew it or not, but I really needed it. So thank you, cousin. That night, my dad and I went to a bonfire at a family friend’s house and I saw said bad-movie-picker-friend. It was entertaining, but at that point my mind wasn’t allowing me to divert it from what the day meant. We didn’t stay long but when I went home that night, it was a long night to say the least. And I’m thankful for the person that talked to me the whole while, telling me I’d be okay. If you’re reading this, I don’t think you know how much that meant to me. You didn’t have to do that, but you did. Fire. Hot. Hurt!

In November, I was really busy. On the 11th, Veterans Day, a hard day was made less by the lovely Leanna Renee Hieber, once again in town for the release of a new book – Darker Still. I had such a great time at the signing and I love her dearly. Leanna, if you’re reading this, I want you to know I would have long ago given up on my dream of writing if it weren’t for you. You inspire me immensely. The next day, the 12th, Shabooms held a spaghetti dinner as a fund raiser for the scholarship fund. I met some other soldiers that Jimmy served with and it was just a great night. It was a hard night, but a great night nonetheless. I hope those two guys know just how much I loved meeting them. It was an honor. On the 18th, “Breaking Dawn Part I” came out in theatres and I went to see it opening night with my mom, my friend, and her mom. Front row, once again. Because I’m a nerd like that. Thanksgiving came and went, and for the first time ever, I went Black Friday shopping. Whether or not that will happen again, is undecided.

December. Possibly the best month of the whole year this year. To be completely honest, not a lot happened. My baby cousin, Nik, turned one. I went to my friend’s house (You’re in here, again!) to celebrate her birthday. On December 18th, though, Tyler came home from Afghanistan. At 5:34 that night, my phone rang and I heard the voice that I hadn’t heard since April 25th. But this time that voice wasn’t coming from Japan. It was coming from Chicago. I nearly broke down as he told me that he had wanted to surprise me at school, as he told me that he was so glad to be home, that he’d see me soon, that he loved me. I hadn’t expected a call that day, but I had feared that I’d never hear his voice again. I was so, so emotional when I finally got to muster the two words I had wanted to say to him for 8 months “Welcome Home.” And although Christmas came a week later, that was the best Christmas gift I received. Welcome home, CPL McNabb. You’ve made me and your country proud. I am honored to call you my cousin, and I love you.

And now, New Year’s is here again. I said last year that 2010 had made me a different person. And if that was the case, 2011 has made me true to that new person. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same as I was, but I don’t think any of us are really ever the same as we were. Whether we were changed by a loss, an addition, or just by decisions, I don’t think we can ever say that we’re the same as we were. I think every year offers a new opportunity to be someone we weren’t – whether that’s for the better of worse – and I think it’s up to us whether or not we take that chance. I’m pretty happy with who I am, right now. There’s always going to be a part of me that wishes I could just be a normal, happy, ignorant teenager, but I know that will never happen. I am who I am because of what I’ve been through. My views have changed, my priorities have changed, and yes, I’m very military-oriented. I love my country and I love my family. I’m not all about boys or the Jersey Shore or anything like that. My Heroes aren’t on TV or in music, my Heroes wear combat boots and dog tags. Maybe I won’t change the world, maybe I won’t ever be known by millions, but I’m okay with that because I like who I am. There’s always going to be a pain in my heart, but that pain is what keeps me in check. I found a quote earlier this year that I think perfectly sums up 2011 – “I’m not what I’ve done…I’m what I’ve overcome.”

Happy New Year!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


It has been quite some time since I last did a post about writing.  And even then, those posts were mainly about ME writing or just updating you on where I was with my current project.  I honestly could not tell you the last time I wrote a post about writing in general.  So let's see how rusty I've gotten, shall we?

First of all, I could update you on where I'm at with CATCH ME, since I am at a good stopping point.

Chapters: 8 (complete)
Pages: 73
Words: 23,504

And now that that's out of the way,  I give you a little piece of what my mind has been like recently.  But, you know, a little more coherent.

The future has been something I've really been thinking about.  You know, it kind of just dawned on me that I can no longer say Oh, I still have plenty of time left to decide what I want to do with my life!  I still have years of high school left! And while part of that is true, by sophomore year you should have a pretty good idea of what your educational plans are post-high school.  I also always thought that I knew straight-up what I wanted to do.  I knew I wanted to go to Ohio State and I knew that I wanted to get my degree to become a teacher.  However, I had no idea what I wanted to major in or anything like that.  And that thought absolutely terrified me!  I've spent some time talking with my cousin who attended OSU and he said that majority of teachers majored in a math, science, or history.  My three least favorite subjects.  This, in turn, made me think about if teaching was actually the right career path for me. 

Let me take a break here to mention something.  YES.  I STILL WANT TO BE AN AUTHOR. But there is pretty much no way that that is going to happen between now and college, and if it did, there's no way that I could solely support myself on my writing.  I have always planned on getting a degree to fall back on, there is simply no way around it.  I want to have a profession that I can use to support myself if need be.  There will always be the chance that writing will not be enough.  As much as that is a dream of mine, it's not a very sturdy dream.  A degree is pretty essential.

Anyway, so like I was saying, I've been thrown into this debate about whether or not I really want to be a teacher.  I love talking, I love helping kids, and I'd love to inspire others to love literature - whether that be reading or writing (or both).  My mom was a teacher, and maybe that's why I've always felt like I HAD to go into that profession. 

But as I've debated it, I've thought about what else I'd possibly like to be.  Of course there's photographer and a journalist, but neither are very easy fields to go into and make much of a profit on.  There's so many photography groups around and a lot end up barely getting by or end up closing because they can't.  Journalist is an option that I would adore if I could go overseas and visit with the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (if there's still a war going on when I get to that point - and I dearly hope there is not).  But journalism isn't exactly what I enjoy writing.  I've done it, on a small scale, but I never enjoyed Newspaper (club) as much as I did Power of the Pen (creative writing club). 

And thus I thought about other things that interested me.  I have become increasingly more obsessed with crime shows.  I have a cousin who's a cop and I think his job is pretty awesome - even if (thankfully) he doesn't see a lot of action at work.  Cops are pretty awesome and I've often wondered how I would like that job.  But, I think I'm more in love with the IDEA of being a cop than actually BEING one.  I know that the physical demands of it would likely not fit who I am.  Plus I like to worry - well, okay, I don't LIKE to worry, but I do worry.  A lot.  So that's pretty much out of the question.

So I started thinking about careers that are similar to law enforcement.  More specifically, lawyers. 

And this idea greatly appealed to me. 

But lawyers have to go through a lot of schooling.  And I've read a law student's blog about how terrible 1L is and I remember thinking to myself Why would you put yourself through that? However, the more I've thought about it and the more I watch The Good Wife and Harry's Law the more the idea appeals to me.  Yet I still wonder if this is the same thing I thought about with the cop idea.  Am I more in love with the IDEA of being a lawyer than actually being one? 

So while I've been thinking about that, I've also been thinking a lot about the insane amount of homework I have and how I could possibly manage to keep writing in my busy schedule.

And last night, my friend suggested that I do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  50,000 words.  One month.  You're supposed to finish your novel in a month.  Holy.  Crap.

While I've often considered doing NaNoWriMo, I've always backed out because I knew that there was very slim chance that I could get through 50k words in a month - even doing the daily count.  When I write, it's often words in the groups of hundreds - not thousands.  My chapters are roughly 3,000 words a piece. 

But I've also been thinking that NaNoWriMo could be just what I need.  I've struggled this year to get into a good writing habit because of how crazy my life has been.  Maybe I need this to force me to write.  Any thoughts?

Actually, any thoughts on any of this?

And since I have completely wasted a good chunk of your time, I will stop now. :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm Alive

I feel that it is absolutely ridiculous that I haven't posted anything on this blog since September 3rd.  I could give you any number of excuses and the sad truth of the matter is that I simply don't have time for much anymore.

I started my Sophomore year of high school in late August, and this year has been a HUGE adjustment.  I have a lot more homework than I did last year - almost every subject every night.  I have a lot of other responsibilities that I didn't have last year.  Almost every weekend since school started I've had something going on.  Whether it's been a family obligation or homecoming or something to honor Jimmy or other soldiers.  It's definitely been crazy the past month and a half.  I haven't even had much time to read. 

As a result, this blog has fallen onto a back burner.  I also have had to make sacrifices in my writing, that I'm not very happy about.  I have been writing more poetry than anything for this reason.  I would rather be writing Catch Me, but it's better to write something than nothing.   I need to really figure out how to find time for writing because it is really bothering me that I can't fit it in.  The longer I stay away, the more my writing skills tend to diminish until I get back into the swing of actually writing. 

Alas, I still have homework to finish so I will end this post now.  I hope you all are having a great weekend.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

I was so lucky to get an ARC of "Sweetly" by Jackson Pearce. I have always loved Jackson Pearce, even before her first book, "As You Wish", was released. I read AYW in one day and read "Sisters Red" rather quickly, so I had high expectations for this book. I was not disappointed. "Sweetly" was one of the best books I have read. I like that there are similarities between SR and S, beyond the fact that they are fairy-tale spin offs. There is one sibling that is able to move on from tradgedy and live their own life, the other sibling is unable to do so and has to continue to do something. Personally, I would pick "Sweetly" over SR. It may just be because "Sweetly" had more romance in it, but I loved this story. I couldn't put it down. I found myself saying "I'll just read this next chapter, it's only x many pages, then I'll go do whatever" - and the next thing I knew, I had read four or more chapters.

What I liked most about this book, I think, was that Gretchen, while dedicated to fighting the "witch" and protecting the people she loves, she was also still able to have a life of her own. In SR, Scarlet was completely focused on fighting the Fenris, so much so that she never allowed herself to fall in love or have a hobby. But Gretchen still lets herself do that stuff. Throughout this novel we see Gretchen go from being a scared little girl to a strong woman that can defend herself and do what needs to be done.

However, I think this novel also illustrates another type of growth - a growth in the author. This novel really showed me a growth in Jackson Pearce's voice as an author. I think that Pearce has improved her writing skills since her first novel was released, and I wasn't sure if she could get any better. I'm not just saying this because she's one of my favorite authors or because I've met her. This novel made me so proud of her because of the sheer beauty of this novel. If this novel doesn't go to the New York Time's Best Seller List, I don't know what is wrong with America.

Job well done, Jackson Pearce. I am eager to see you go even farther in your career. "Sweetly" is definitely one of my favorite books and I am pretty sure I will be re-reading it sooner or later (and I NEVER re-read books)!

Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress by Christine E. Schulze

I would first off like to say that I am very greatful to the author for sending me this book. The subject of vampires automatically drew me, as well as the line on the back of the book: "Are you afraid?".

I was intrigued by the story itself, but at times I felt like the main character was a bit too perfect. She was a perfect student, a perfect Christian, a perfect everything (and someone who blushed - a lot). I was a bit iffy about the whole idea of Christian vampires, not many books incorperate religion anymore - definitely not many stories about vampires and other mythical creatures, including faries, elves, and the like. So that to me, as a Christian, was interesting, but also a little bit odd just because I usually don't read Christian books for the sake of that I don't share 100% of the Christian beliefs. However, I think the storyline itself was pretty good - the pacing near the end was a bit fast, but not too fast. It was a bit predictable at the end as to what was going to happen and who was going to be who, but I think the author definitely has potential to go on and further her career and better herself as a writer.

All in all, I give this book 3/5 stars. I couldn't completely relate to the characters, but I still thought the story was entertaining.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

I should first off say that this review will contain no spoilers as this book is not being released until November 2011 - although it is a crime to make someone wait that long to read this wonderful piece of pure art. I should also say that I am very much in love with the writing of Miss Hieber, and as such I may appear a little biased. But I assure you, this review is meant wholeheartedly and with the mind that I have never before met and/or heard of Leanna Renee Hieber. To give a false review is to lie to the author - and it's ten times worse than to say "oh, your child is so cute!" when in fact, it is not. With that said...

I started this book a couple of weeks ago with the hopes of finishing it before I was to be thrown back into the havic that is high school. This, however, did not happen and therefore has taken me longer to complete. I have spent a lot of my study hall time reading this book, wishing that first period would last all day so that I could just sit and read. But I should start at the beginning.

The novel appealed to me from the first time I heard the premise of the story. The phrase that Hieber uses with signing this novel is "Find your voice", and the deadication is to those who have ever struggled to do so and to be heard, this too intrigued me further as this is a obstacle that I often struggle with - although not physically. The narrator of this "diary" is Natalie Stewart, a 17 year old mute, home from having completed school. Her father, being a single parent, has no idea what to do with his "unfortunate" daughter (this being 19th century New York). Mr. Stewart, being an employee of the Museum of Art comes across the story of a painting coming to town - with quite a contriversial reputation. The portrait of young Lord Denbury is said to be haunted, that as you stand before his likeliness you can feel a sort of presence - as if his very soul lingers with the painting. Lord Denbury, after losing his parents, was presumed dead by suicide shortly after the painting had been comissioned. Natalie is taken with the story of the painting, having always been interested in the supernatural, having been aware of a sort of whisper since she was young. She tells her father that she would like to be employed at the museum as well - mainly so that she can be around the painting. Her father, seeing this as a suitable plan, agrees. They come in contact with the owner of the painting - Mrs. Evelyn Northe.

Natalie is even more taken with the painting than she had thought, the very sight of Lord Denbury giving her chills, and not just from the cool air that surrounds the painting. Although, one day she sees a figure that looks like Lord Denbury, save for the eyes.

As the story progresses, Natalie and Mrs. Northe realize that there is something, indeed, magical and mysterious about this portrait. Together, they set out to solve this mystery. The painting changes, as if Lord Denbury is summoning Natalie into his world. With a step, her life changes. Both good and terrible things are instore for Miss Stewart, but perhaps, she has found a reason to speak. And maybe, just maybe, she has at last found her voice.

P.S. If anybody may come across such a man as Lord Denbury...DIBS!

P.S.S. I honestly, 100% loved this book. PLEASE read it when it comes out this November!! (My name's in the back :) )

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I am going to skip around a little bit and review this book because I just finished it today and really want to do an in-depth review of this book.

I started reading this book with pretty high expectations after hearing friend after friend telling me how AWESOME the Mortal Instruments series was and how I HAD to read this book.  Usually the people that told me that and I shared a lot of common interest in books and we usually loved a lot of the same books - new or old - and the characters from these stories.

This book, however, was different.

I had started this book probably back in April of this year and got about half way through it.  At that point, another book that I really wanted to read came out so I put CoB on hold.  Mind you, half way through CoB is about 200 pages in.  I knew then that this book wasn't going to make my favorites list.  I sat it down 200 pages in.  I found that I had no want to go back to this story, I occasionally remembered that I should finish it and wondered what would happen between Jace and Clary and if Jace would finally kiss Clary, but it wasn't a strong enough drive to get me to pick it up again.

Recently, I got an Advanced Reader Copy of "Sweetly" by Jackson Pearce (coming out this August) and I was also preparing to read my book for class ("A Separate Peace" by John Knowles).  I decided that I wanted to have "Sweetly" to read on the beach because it seemed like it would be a good book to read on the beach.  So I decided I'd break up ASP into sections to read each day, but I also knew that I needed to tie up some loose ends with Jace and Clary.  So I sectioned off the rest of the book so that I would finish by the time I left for vacation.  I found myself sometimes reading more than just that day's section and getting ahead of my schedule.  Which was good - but it took me until about page 300 to really care what happened. 

I think sometimes I would get distracted by the way that Clare wrote.  Maybe I just notices changes of "voice" more because I write, but it seemed to me that she was trying to mix two different eras together - the Victorian and modern - one of which wasn't even the era in which the oldest characters lived.  At one point, she had Jace speaking like Hodge, his mentor/tutor, and it didn't work for Jace.  Jace was always a modern, sarcastic character who was probably the most realistic character to me, and having him speak like he was some Old English professor didn't work.

I also struggled to relate to the main character.  And while I know that it's often hard to relate to characters based on what they're going through, in such a fantastical story I think it is essential that the reader connects to the character through whose eyes we see.  With Clary I felt that she was pretty quick to accept the Shadow World, that she saw things that others didn't, that her mother had been taken by demons, that Jace and his friends fought demons and down worlders.  She seemed quick to learn things, without us really remembering her learning them.  She was just really okay with the whole change, and that kind of bothered me.  She didn't give a reason for her justifying this new world, not even that believing in it could mean saving her mother.  She just kind of went with it like vampires, werewolves, fairies, and the like were completely normal things.  Granted, Clary did get freaked out by some of it, but only when it confronted her.

I also really had a problem with the way this book was spaced.  It all seemed like it took forever for them to accomplish their mission, when it only took two weeks.  The characters hardly slept or ate or took a shower.  Sometimes I felt like it was one thing after another and that I, too, was tired.  They didn't really seem to slow down.  I don't know if that was for the sake of the plot line or what, but it seemed a bit of a stretch for me.  Not to mention that Clary was away from her mother for two weeks and yet she rarely thought about her.  She didn't cry for her, didn't miss her as much as I expected.  She didn't know if her mother was alive or dead and yet she focused on Jace and Simon and other things.  If I were her, I think my attention would have been focused on my mother the whole time.

I was really taken aback by the ending, because at that point I did care about the characters, or at least about what happened to them.  I didn't like the ending at all.  It kind of ruined the whole book for me.  I will admit, this book wasn't as bad as this review makes it sound.  I did laugh a lot while reading it, and I did have times where I didn't want to put it down - but I just wish it hadn't taken me 300 pages to get to that level in our relationship.  I don't see myself reading the next books in this series anytime soon. 

I rate this book a 3/5 stars.  Not the worst book I've ever read, but definitely not one of my favorites.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Looking for Alaska by John Green

It's been a while since I reviewed a book and so I thought I would review Looking for Alaska by John Green.  This book was absolutely amazing - probably one of my favorite books.  Here's the "review" I did of it for class.


The novel, “Looking for Alaska by John Green, really struck a personal chord in me. It wasn’t until about half way through the book, but it definitely hit me hard because the way that the main character, Pudge, reacted and some of his thoughts really mirrored my own.

One night Pudge is in his friend, Alaska’s, room watching her and his other friend, known as The Colonel, drink. They all fall asleep in Alaska’s room, until the phone ringing wakes Alaska up. Pudge and the Colonel don’t really wake up until Alaska comes back into the room sobbing, saying how she always messes things up. She asks her friends to help get her off campus, that she has to get away. They agree to set off fireworks so the dean will be distracted. And, even though they know that she’s been drinking, because they don’t want to deal with her drama, they let her drive. They let her go.

The next morning, the whole school is called into the gym for a meeting. Pudge is looking everywhere, telling the dean that they can’t start without Alaska. Where’s Alaska? Alaska has to be here somewhere. They can’t start without Alaska. But Pudge can’t find her anywhere. Alaska is not there. The dean then announces that Alaska has been in a terrible car crash, one that claimed her life. Alaska Young died.

Pudge’s reaction was the first thing I could connect to. At first he was just in body-paralyzing shock, much like I was when I was first told that my cousin, Jimmy, had been killed in Afghanistan. Pudge couldn’t make things real, he couldn’t cry right then, and I couldn’t either. Then he just wanted to throw up, but just dry-heaved, which I did several times in the aftermath of the news. Pudge then reasoned that this wasn’t real, that Alaska had to still be alive, she couldn’t be dead, much like I was convinced that the news of Jim being killed in action was all a dream. Because Jim has to come home – he always comes home. Just like Alaska always lives, she’s free, she’s wild, but she always lives. She couldn’t be dead.

Some of Pudge’s thoughts mirrored my own. His loss of Alaska was very much like when I lost Jimmy. He thought about things a lot like I did. He asked the same questions of “Why them?” or “Why couldn’t it have been me?” Pudge also wanted to believe that he was the most affected by Alaska’s death, when he knew he wasn’t. I didn’t really think this, but sometimes it feels like I’m the only one still struggling to deal with it.

When Pudge realizes that he is alive, even without Alaska, it hit home really hard. It took me a long time to realize that I’m still alive, and even though it sucks without Jim, it’s still better than being dead. I may never be the same person I was, but I’m still breathing, living, crying, feeling, and loving. And I think that was John Green’s point – life sucks sometimes, but it beats not living at all. And even when we experience death, the pain is still better than leaving this life behind.

This book was seriously amazing.  I was afraid that I wouldn't like John Green's books when I started reading LfA.  I already had grown to love John Green by his videos on YouTube and I knew that he was a funny guy.  But my fears were unjustified - this book definitely has a special place in my heart and I cannot wait to read more John Green books.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Update #3

Pages: 39
Chapters: 4
Words: 11,807

Hopefully I will be starting Chapter Five soon and that's the chapter where I get to really dig into the paranormal!  So excited and I'm actually feeling okay with writing right now.  I'm also currently reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert at the moment, so I'm thinking that has something to do with my mood.

Anyway, I want to thank you guys for sticking with me!

Happy first day of Summer - even if it is pretty stormy here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Writing has made me face a lot of my demons - even before I started writing CATCH ME.  When I began writing in January of 2008, I had no idea of the struggles that I would face, whether they be internal or external.  Over the few years I've been writing I've faced a lot of negativity from various people - relatives, friends, the like - and I've also faced self doubt within myself.  And I can't say that all of that doubt has come from other people's comments, because I know there's a part of me that wonders why I couldn't have just been a normal teenager, who obsesses over boys and clothes and other trivial things.  I've never been a "normal" girl.  For pretty much my whole life, my maturity level has been much higher than most my age.  Because of this, it really bothers me when people put other people down just to make themselves feel better.  It's something that I've just never understood the point of.  Why would you do that?  It just seems pointless to me.  Whatever happened to the Golden Rule (treat others how you wish to be treated) or "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"?  I know that it's hard to hold your tongue sometimes when someone is really getting under your skin, and I'll admit that I'm not always the best at this.  If someone is continuously getting to me, I eventually will snap at them, especially if they, even inadvertently, insult my family or are saying something that is COMPLETELY untrue.

I know that I'm kind of rambling and ranting, but here's the fact of the matter (and I'm pretty sure I've blogged about this before - in fact, I'm positive I have): People are who they are.  YOU can't change THEM.  If you don't like who someone is or what they stand for, then you can choose to walk away from them.  It is not right to ask them to walk away from themselves for you.  Even if you cannot accept part of them, you should not ask them to change that part of them.  Either learn to accept who they are, the parts you don't like and all, or walk away from them.  If you cannot accept them, it's unfair to them to have you be in their life because you will, even unintentionally bring them down and make them change something that they don't necessarily want to change.

Here's an example, I write.  I want to write.  I want to write what I want to write - what I need to write.  You cannot control what I write about, you cannot make me want to not write about this.  You cannot make me not want to write period.  I am who I am, I do what I do.  I don't fit a mold because I am me.  If I'm not who you want me to be, get over it.  Accept me or leave me.  If you accept me, good - I'm glad to have you.  Just truly accept me and don't just tell me you do.  If you choose to walk out of my life, it's for the better.  If you're going to do nothing but tell me I can't do something, tell me that I shouldn't do the things I do, or tell me that you don't want me to reach my dreams or whatever the case may be, I don't want you in my life.

I'm sorry that I keep ranting on this subject, it's just something that I'm dealing with a lot lately.  I thought summer vacation would offer me a break from this, and in some ways it has, but it hasn't completely.  There are always going to be people telling me I shouldn't do this, I shouldn't go through this again, that I should let go now.  But here's the thing:  I can't do that yet.  I have some unpaid debts to pay, some loose ends to tie up, and some broken promises to amend as well as some promises to keep.  And until all of that is done, I will not stop this. 

Accept me or leave me; Your choice.

This is aimed at no one in particular, just in general.  I just get really angered by this really easily.  I'm going to try to stop blogging about this subject, it's just something that I'm tired of dealing with.  I'm sorry.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

One year ago

One year ago today I wrote a poem - and I never shared it publicly on this blog or anywhere else.

Most of my family has read it, or at least have heard it, but this a poem I wrote for Jimmy last May for my class' "poetry coffee house".  Jimmy never got to read this because I never got around to sending him a care package for his birthday, and I didn't want him to read it in an email.  I was going to post this on his birthday (the 24th), but I just wasn't in the mood.

I love you, Jimmy.

When All Words Fail Me

(My Strong Soldier)


Planes and flights come and go
As do the people.
How many times did I pray
That he’d never be part of this number?

He’s already been included twice,
But that was for Iraq.
Why him, why his unit?
Afghanistan this time.

How do I say goodbye,
Not knowing if I’ll see him again?
How can he bring himself to leave
Knowing he might not come back?

Does he ever feel too afraid to carry on?
Does he ever feel all hope is lost?
Does he even realize how dangerous it is?
Does he remember what he’s fighting for?

Of course he’s scared
But he keeps fighting.
Of course he realizes the danger.
And he definitely knows what he’s fighting for.

He’s fighting for his parents,
His wife,
His kids.

So how do I repay him?
A thank you be not sufficient?
How do I tell him that I forever owe him?
That I don’t deserve it?

When all words fail me,
And tears begin to fill the void,
I’ll look away, not letting him see,
And embrace my strong soldier.

So, God, I ask
When will the war end?
And when will we all realize
That we’re all human beings?

Be we American or Middle-Eastern
Does it really matter?
We’re all just people,
Fighting for the country which we love.

God, let the war end
And keep my strong soldier safe.
Bring him home to me.
So I’ll never have to say goodbye again.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


There are so many causes out there - it's impossible to pick just one to be dedicated to.  I think a big part in determining which cause we become most involved with is what we've been through and therefore what's personal to us.

Before you continue reading this, let me stress that this is not meant in a mean way.  This is just my opinion and I am NOT saying that I don't feel bad for other countries' problems caused by disasters.

The past few weeks, we have had a lady selling wristbands for Japan Tsunami relief efforts - Which is a great idea, and a great way to raise money to help. I don't know how much money she ended up raising, but I'd say she made a pretty good chunk of money for Japan.  Today at the assembly we had to recognize the efforts she was making to help Japan, she said "Please do not forget about Japan.  Even though the media only focuses on it for a few days, a week maybe, it doesn't mean things there are all better.  Japan still needs your support, help, and prayers.  Please, do not forget about Japan."

And while I agree that Japan is definitely still in bad shape and definitely still needs help rebuilding, I think that we as a population have become more involved in other countries' problems and supporting those causes than we have our own. 

The media doesn't focus as much on our Troops overseas anymore - definitely not the ones still in Iraq (By the way THERE ARE STILL TROOPS IN IRAQ.  IF SOMEONE TELLS YOU THAT WAR IS OVER - THEY ARE WRONG.).  We as Americans don't tend to openly support our troops because somewhere along these past years, supporting our troops means you support the war.  Just because you support our troops doesn't mean that you support the war.  I know that war was necessary at the time, but I don't like the fact that we're still there - that our men and women are still dying for our freedom there, that my cousin's there now.  It makes me worry that our soldiers think that we have forgotten them.  I would do anything to change this, even in just a small way.

At the same time that wristbands were being sold for Japan, I had student council organize a drive for the Thank You Foundation - a local organization that collects supplies of all sorts to send to the Troops overseas.  Almost everyone in every single one of my classes was wearing a "Gaman" band, but my class didn't even completely fill one box of supplies for the troops.  I'm not saying that Japan relief isn't important, because I know it is, I'm just saying that if we didn't have Troops defending us, protecting us, we wouldn't even be able to care about other causes.  Our FREEDOM is what allows us to do that. 

I guess the point I'm trying to make is, America, we need to take care of our own First.  And, yes, I'm begging you PLEASE DO NOT FORGET ABOUT OUR SOLDIERS.

So in honor of Armed Forces Month and Armed Forces Day this coming Saturday and Memorial Day on the 30th, I ask you, please just take a minute of your day to say "Thank You" to a soldier you know - or if you see one out and about.  And if you have time, find out how you can get involved with an organization near you that supports our Troops.

P.S. Did you know that there are still hundreds of thousands of AMERICAN soldiers missing from the Vietnam and Korean wars? 

Friday, May 13, 2011



I'm not a fan.  Whether the judgement is coming from a teacher, a friend, a family member, or a peer, it's not fair.  A lot of people have judged me the past few months as to how I have dealt with things, how I have responded to things, and how I continue to...cope with things.  And while I have come to know which people to avoid subjects with, sometimes it slips up and appears into our conversation - even if it's not our conversation and they just overhear. This is probably making no sense to you guys whatsoever, but what I'm trying to say is, I'm me.  I can't change me.  Yes, other things have changed who I am, but I can't change the way that I react to things, how I deal with things, or how I cope with things.  All of these things are a part of who I am that cannot be changed by myself.  And therefore, you can't change them either. 

So there's this guy (for my over-protective family reading this - it is NOT a boyfriend.  FAR from it.) and I've known him since the 5th grade.  I'm not going to tell you his name, I'll simply call him D.  So basically, when I first decided that I wanted to be a writer, I was very open about it - until I wondered if there was a reason to be embarrassed about it.  I wanted to tell all my friends that I wanted to write, that I wanted to write a book, that I wanted to be an author, and I wanted them to be happy for me.  A lot of them were - D wasn't.  He asked me what exactly I meant by "I'm writing" and what I was writing.  I told him that I was writing a book.  He told me "Right, like anyone would read that" or "Right, like that'll ever happen" or something along those lines. (The book was terrible, but that's besides the point.)  That, in my opinion, made me become shy about my writing.  I didn't like talking about it.  It's only been recently that I've become even slightly comfortable talking about it with people - and even still it's very few people.  I know that with what I'm writing now, that I'm going to need all the support I can get, but I still haven't told but a few people in my family what I'm writing about - and if they know, chances are they know because they read this blog. 

D has been a bit of a debby-downer the whole time I've known him, but since my brother is friends with him, he's associated himself with me.  It wasn't really a choice I made, so much as he made.  Our personalities don't really mix well, and he simply doesn't care about the things I do.  He's much more focused on band or getting a good solo or something like that - and he gets way too stressed out about the little things.  And while I understand they are important to him, I think he finds these things really important because he's never experienced real pain, and therefore never realized what's really important.

My view on a lot of things has changed this year.  I've found out who my true friends are, who I can count on, who I can talk to, and who is just going to judge me for...being me.  D has made a few remarks about the button I wear of Jimmy, the metal bracelet my uncle gave me with Jim's information on it (which you're not really supposed to take off...), and the patrol cap liner that I carry with me, etc.  He doesn't understand how nearly 9 months after everything happened that I could still possibly miss Jimmy or even still be grieving.  I'm not completely sure that grieving process ever ends, to be honest, and if it does, I don't think there's a set limit because everyone is different.  Today, however, D made a remark, well, gesture would be a better word, that really hurt me - worse than when he first told me that no one would read the stuff I wrote.  A girl in my art class asked me what I was writing about now (we were talking about my longer projects/book-things) and I told her that I was writing about my cousin and how things have changed in my life, etc.  as well as the fact that in my story, Jimmy comes back as a ghost and he has unfinished business that he wants to have taken care of.   She was really interested in it and was talking about how she LOVES ghost stories.  This was a fun conversation for me - I love talking about this project when I don't have to explain things in great detail.  Then D had to remark in his monotone, disapproving voice "Uh, which cousin are you writing about again?" I sighed - I knew he already knew - and said "Jimmy."  He glared at me.  I said "D if you're glaring at me I swear..." and then I went back to talking to the girl. 

I understand that this might not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but I'm writing this because I need to - not because it's the most comfortable thing to write about or because it's something that makes me happy.  I'm tired of being judged for this.  Jimmy was like a big-brother to me, and if you can't respect that I miss him every day and that yes, sometimes I still cry about it, then I don't understand how you can honestly call yourself my friend - and I'm not sure that I consider D my friend. 

And then he had to go make a remark about me texting my uncle all the time.  I told him he was going to be driving a lot these next few days so I wouldn't get to talk to him a whole lot and he said "It'll be good for you - maybe you can make some friends your own age."  GAH.  Do.  Not.  Diss.  My.  Biker.  Dude.

And while I understand that nobody's opinion of me should matter, it's what I think of myself, it still doesn't make hearing this any easier. I respect myself, I wish I were a little stronger, I'm pretty happy with the head on my shoulders (however screwed up it may be).

Other than that long rant, I hope you all have a great weekend.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Leanna Renee Hieber is Awesome

part of this was written on Thursday, the other part today (Friday)

So even though the title is pretty much self-explanatory, I still would like to try to explain to you just how awesome Leanna Renee Hieber is.  I'm not completely sure if it can be put into words.  My attempt will probably fail, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

Leanna's third installment of the Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess) was released this past Tuesday, and the local signing was tonight.  I was pretty down-right excited for this book, even though I usually have a hard time reading prequels.  The fact that these are totally different characters really interests me and after listening to Leanna read a portion of it at the signing, I just wish I could listen to her read the whole book.  She's so theatrical and such a great speaker, she's going to have to do my readings at my book signings (hopefully, one day) because that is a skill I definitely lack.  :)

I love that Leanna is so down-to-earth and she deeply cares about her readers.  She's so incredible, not only in what she writes and how she speaks, but also by the size of her heart.  I don't know the last time someone held a meaningful conversation with me about writing and the challenges of writing - not only paranormal, but also with just the difficulties of jumping from one world to the next.  I am so excited to get writing more, and maybe it just took a kick from her to get a part of me back that I've so desperately been missing.  I feel like since last August, I've slowly been losing part of me each day, instead of getting parts of me back.  I used to read and write all the time, and now I don't have the motivation to do that.  But now, I just want to stay up all night and write.  (Too bad it's Thursday...)  Maybe it's just that I'm still afraid that if I don't write that Leanna's ghosts will haunt me, or maybe it's just that I remember who I was when I last read these books last year, or maybe I just have been reminded of how inspirational Leanna is to me.  Being from Small Town Ohio, it's really hard to find someone that has accomplished the things they most want, such as being published.

Meeting Leanna has been a huge blessing in my life, she makes me feel like I can honestly do anything that I want with my life.  Although everybody has always told me that since I started writing it, I honestly never really believed that until last night.  This is something that I can never thank Leanna for enough.  She has either given me or given me back a piece of myself that I never realized I had or never realized I was missing.  She is just truly amazing. 

And, Leanna, if you're reading this, I hope you know that I can never repay you for everything you've done for me - I cherish all of the material things, as well as the 'spiritual' ones - but I will surely try my hardest to pay you back.  I love you.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I'm sorry

I'm sorry that I've been such a bad blogger lately.  It's not really that I've been busy, in fact I haven't had that much going on.  I've just been really lazy and have had a lot of school work to do or I've just been really tired.  I might be making excuses for not writing, but I've always done that, have I not?

So, in a desperate attempt to make up for my lack of blogging, I will post a poem I wrote that has a lot to do with my current novel/project.  In fact, it's written about the same event where my (current) title comes from.  So I hope you like it.

Catch Me

A gentle quick lift,

As if effortless.
Swing one leg over,
And I'm on top of the world.

I laugh, looking down
At the grass so far down.
You try to hide it,
But you're smiling too.

You tell me you'll flip me
Backwards off your back.
Part of me believes you
Really will.

You promise me
You won't let me fall,
That you'll catch me.
You promise.

You swing one leg
Back over,
And maneuver me somehow
So that I'm falling.

I brace myself to
Meet the ground.
But your arms are around me.
You caught me.

That is the best feeling,
Pressed in your chest,
Smiling at the thought,
As your strong arms hold me.

You kept your promise.
My eyes water, realizing
You loved me enough to
Catch Me.

Have a great week, I'll probably be blogging later this week at some point.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blogging vs Writing

Pray for LCPL Tyler McNabb
(My cousin in the USMC deployed yesterday to Japan for a month, then Afghanistan to finish his deployment)

I've had a really rough time lately finding the motivation to write.  I know that sounds really bad.  I'm the one who decided that I wanted - needed - to write this.  But it's hard, which I know, is a really lame excuse.  So many of the things I'm writing about right now are the things that I've worked so hard to keep suppressed and that I numbed myself to them when they were happening, not to mention the fact that I never really let myself think about them afterwards.  Maybe that's where my problem is lying.  I'm not wanting to evoke these things that could make my dad go so far south that when I wake up, I still haven't made it completely north again.

I'm not sure if this is making any sense at all, and maybe I'm writing this only for myself.  But hey, most of what I post here is just that.  Although, I love each and everyone of you that still read this no matter how much I might complain on here. 

So for those of you that read this that are writers, how do you guys get motivated?  It's like, I want to write, but when I sit down to do it...I just can't.  I know the easy fix would be that I should just write something else, but to me, this is the story I need to tell right now.  I don't think I can ever move forward in any way if I don't write this, if I don't allow myself to go back and "un-numb" myself when things were happening.  (Again, this is probably making no sense.)  I told myself that it'd be okay if this draft sucked, because all first drafts do (I should have learned that from the first draft of SOLACE) - that all I wanted to do was do this draft quick like a band-aid, then I could go more in depth and polish it in future drafts.  But that's not happening. 

So, any motivation ideas??

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 8, 2011

I Am From

We had to write an "I Am From" poem in English (I messed up and didn't write mine on a character from To Kill A Mockingbird, but instead wrote one on myself - I wrote one on Scout after realizing this).  I thought I'd post it here to share with you all to end this beautiful week.

I am from a super-sized family.
From Easters spent at Granny's.
From a Harley ride with my Biker Dude.

I am from the best country on earth,
From brave men that have fought and died for Her.
From an undying Faith that He will provide.

I am from countless memories,
From laughing until we cried,
From crying until we had to laugh.

I am from my Mamaw's dumplings,
From cousins eating them right off my plate.
From my Papaw's pecan pie for dessert.

I am from lazy days spent reading,
From free time spent writing,
From dreaming of making my family proud.

I am from the mother I never knew,
From the family I'll always love,
From the place I know I'll always belong.

Write your own "I Am From" poem and post it below in the comments!!

Happy weekend. :)

P.S. In acknowledgement of Congress' rediculous idea to cut military pay in half, to them I say - who exactly do you want defending you and your freedom to be an idiot - soldiers who believe their job is important (because it is) or angry soldiers who hate the people who pay them because they are RISKING THEIR LIVES and are only getting paid half of what they were getting paid?  Honestly, how is this even a good idea?  Military men and women aren't paid enough already as it is and to dock their pay...seriously, there aren't words to describe how stupid that is!! I could use some very foul language right now toward you, Congress, but honestly, I'm not going to waste my time or energy. I'll just say this: My family has fought for this country for as long as I can remember.  My closest cousin GAVE HIS LIFE for this country.  BECAUSE THEY LOVE IT.  THEY DON'T DESERVE THIS.  TAKE AWAY YOUR PAY BEFORE YOU TAKE AWAY THEIRS.  YOU'RE THE ONES THAT GOT US INTO THIS MESS - YOU SUFFER THE COINCEQUENCES UNTIL YOU CAN FIX IT!  GOT IT????

*end rant*

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring Break and a Reason

So this has been a pretty good (cold) spring break.  It was really different not going out of town this year.  Although, it was kind of nice not having to pack a suitcase full of clothes, not sure of what the weather would actually be like, and lugging my laptop there only to find that the wi-fi doesn't work.  It was also kind of nice to do local stuff.  I think a lot of the time Ohio gets a bad rap for being boring or having little to do or for mostly being populated by corn.  I will be the first to admit that Ohioans don't deny this a lot.  But there are some pretty fun things you can do around Ohio, and depending on your area, you might be able to find something really cool.  If you go to Columbus, you'll probably find more to do than if you stay in a small-town, or even Cincinnati.

Even though it's been an eventful spring break, I still am really dreading going back to school.  I know I get like this after every break, but I just don't want to go back to putting up with certain people's crap at school.  There are some people that just know how to get under my skin and some of them happen to be in a few of my classes - which is never a good thing.  Usually by the end of the day, they've said something that makes me want to go home and text my uncle (who's like my bff) and tell him how stupid these people are.  He's pretty great for putting up with it. :)

I had plans to spend this break reading and writing.  I've done some reading, definitely not as much as I had hoped.  And I've written a whopping total of 1,071 words this week - which equals around four pages.  I've had some road bumps that have made me really not want to write, that have made me question why I'm writing what I'm writing, and have made me really wonder about certain aspects of my life.  And maybe I haven't been all too clear about why I'm writing this for my cousin.  And while I feel that it shouldn't matter to anybody but me, I feel that I have to explain it, because people just aren't getting it.

I owe so much to all of our service men and women, for putting their lives on the line for me every single day.  I have service members in my family - retired veterans, currently serving soldiers, and, as you're probably aware, a soldier that gave his life for this country.  The men and women who give their all, literally, for this country and our freedom are the people I owe the most to.  I haven't had the privilege to know a lot of these men and women or their families, but I did know my cousin that laid down his life for me.  I know his story - because his story is part of mine.  I know who he was - is - and I know how much I loved him.  I can't claim to know his feelings toward me, but I know that my cousin loved me.  I know that he isn't the most famous soldier out there, I know that not many people are aware of his sacrifice, and I know that some of you might not even care that I'm a Gold Star Cousin.  But I feel Jimmy's story needs to be told - in some shape or form.  Granted, this isn't so much about his story before Afghanistan, so much as after and the aftermath of the earthquake that was his death.  My uncle told me the other day that this isn't obsession, as some seem to view it as, it's passion.  Obsession and passion are two very different things.  I've always been told that if you're passionate about something - DO IT.  So that's what I'm doing.  In some odd way, Jimmy got me writing.  If he hadn't been so adamant about people not being at his homecomings, I might have never started writing what I did, and if I hadn't, who knows, I might never have given writing another go after that first night I sat down at the computer and wrote a note to myself saying that I wanted to write.  I have always know that I owed Jimmy so much - for his service to our country, for being such an awesome cousin, for making me who I am, and, in an odd way, for inspiring me.  I don't like to leave debts unpaid. 

That's why I'm writing this.  And while I know that I can never completely repay Jim, I don't know of another way to start making those payments.