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."

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Recap


I really have mixed feelings about re-capping this year.  It's been a pretty crazy year, and, sadly, I'm not sure if it's for the better.  I lost some people I loved dearly this year.  But at the same time, I've had some great times with family this year.  So let's start at the beginning, shall we?

January:  New Year's day came as it usually does and was, for me, again a solemn occasion. Since Jimmy's death, it has seemed the new years are not good things, but rather scary things. I can't quite explain that one, but it's another year he won't live in.  The change to 2011 was the worst, but last year still felt like too much change.  A friend of mine made promises to me that night that less than two months later he failed to keep.  It's a little bit scary to me how much changed within the first three months of 2012.  Looking back, I wish I would have enjoyed New Year's Eve more than I did.  I didn't know it then, but it would be the last time I saw my Uncle Drew.  Five days into the new year, my dear family friend, Harry, passed away.  Harry was one of the first people to support me in my writing.  He always cheered me on and would write me letters telling me to never give up.  I have one of those letters framed now.  It is still weird to think I'll never see him again - although, I know that he is no longer in pain.  My "Drunk in the Walker" as I came to jokingly call him, will now support me from Heaven.  On the 7th, my family and I had a surprise Welcome Home party and escort for my USMC cousin who had just returned home from Afghanistan.  It was a great day.  I believe I have recapped it somewhere on this blog, so I won't say much.  Around the 21st, my cousin got engaged to his wonderful girlfriend and they are due to be married this coming year.  And, of course, I got my camera in January of last year.

February: February was pretty quiet.  My baby cousin turned one on the seventh and we celebrated his first birthday the following weekend.  My friend, Abby, and I went to Winter Formal which will probably never happen again.  Hardly anyone we knew were there.  The 28th marked the one year anniversary of me writing Catch Me - which is sort of on hold - and that's about it.

March: Easily the worst month of the year.  I wish this month had never happened.  On March 7th, my Uncle Drew was in Louisville, Kentucky, doing a comedy show.  That Wednesday night, he called my grandma (his sister) and told her he'd been having chest pains.  She finally convinced him to go to the hospital and out of humor, he decided to go to the Jewish hospital because he'd "always wanted to go to one of them."  He didn't know it then, but that hospital was the only hospital anywhere near him that had the machine that kept him "alive" until his family could get there.  Thursday morning, my mom's phone rang as I was putting on my make-up - it was the ringtone reserved for my grandma, who I knew was never up at 6am. I was told that he was in the hospital, though I didn't understand my mom when she told me.  I thought she was talking about another uncle that had been sick that I didn't really know.  It wasn't until we were going out to the bus and my dad was talking about it that I figured out it was Drew.  I went to school that day heartbroken and scared to death.  But we didn't know how serious it was then.  Friday night, I went to Kentucky to see him in the hospital.  It's something I don't like to think about - I don't want to remember him that way.  But my Uncle Drew passed away that Saturday, the 10th, around 3:20pm. His services were the following week - the week of my Ohio Graduation Tests.  I didn't do as well on those as I probably could have.  The rest of the month was pretty uneventful.  My grandparents came home from Florida after having been gone for 3 months.

April: The month started with spring break and on the 5th, the friend I've had the longest came over and we went to see The Hunger Games.  That night we had a talk that was long-over due and I think we both realized we shouldn't let people drive us apart.  On the 11th, my dad and Uncle went to see Scotty Bratcher play at a benefit they had for my Uncle Drew.  Scotty was a good friend of Drew's and I met him the night of the visitation.  Out of everything that happened, meeting him and becoming a fan of his music is probably the only plus other than realizing how precious my family and life is.  That night, Scotty broke a guitar string, which my dad brought home to me.  It's hanging on my wall as a reminder that even though sometimes we break, we have to keep playing.    On the 14th, I spent the night at my Nana's and we watched movies until the early morning.  The 17th marked two years since I had seen my cousin, Jimmy. On the 20th, I went to see Scotty Bratcher play for the very first time with my aunt, uncle, and brother.  It was a great show, I just couldn't see anything from where I sat (there was a wall-type-thing in the way).  On the 21st, I went to the Ohio State spring game with my cousins and my brother.  I love it there.  On the 28th, I volunteered at the Walk for Lupus, celebrated my cousin's birthday, and I stayed over at my Uncle Drew and Aunt Mickie's house and babysat their two boys.

May: On the 9th, I presented the first SGT James C. Robinson Memorial Scholarship (Shabooms) at the school Jimmy graduated from.  On the 11th, I went to see Dark Shadows with my friend, Emily.  (Which was the last time I've seen her!!!!!!!!! Not cool.) On the 24th, Jimmy would have turned 29.  The last week of May and into June, I had my final exams for my sophomore year of high school.

June: Sophomore year ended uneventfully and the following week I started the class room portion of Driver's Ed.  Six days of Driver's Ed first thing in the morning.  It wasn't fun.  On the 8th, my Uncle Bill (who I had thought had been the one to have a heart attack in March) passed away.  We left for Myrtle Beach on the 10th and I turned 16 on the beach (well, actually, I turned 16 inside of the Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop) on the 14th.  We left the following day and on the way home, I was told that my cousin in Kentucky had been in a motorcycle accident.  Pam died that night, leaving her daughter, Sasha.  My heart broke knowing the pain of losing a mother - and knowing it had to be worse having had about 19 years with her mom.  Uncle Bill's memorial was the following day.  The 17th was Father's Day and my dad, my brother, and I went to Cincinnati to see Scotty Bratcher play at a Father's Day celebration that was going on.  On the 18th, my sister turned 5, but I was on my way to Kentucky that day (and was very sick) for Pam's services on the 18th and 19th.  It was good to see people I hadn't in years, but not under those circumstances. On the 22nd, I saw Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter with my dad and brother.  On the 23rd, we had the 2nd Annual Shabooms Ride, which was a great day.  

July: Not a whole lot happened in July.  On the 21st, we had a motorcycle ride for Drew and raised a lot of money for his two boys' college funds.  Some of Drew's comedian friends performed and so did Scotty Bratcher.  On the 29th, we had a SGT Jimmy night at a local bar that opened its doors to us on a Sunday and let us have music, food, etc.  

August: The 3rd of August marked two years since my Granny died.  I left two roses on her grave for the two years she'd been in Heaven.  My family and I went to a Scotty Bratcher show that night, as well (what can I say?  He's pretty good.)  On the 4th, my daddy celebrated another birthday and I left with my brother and cousins for my family reunion in Kentucky.  It was a great weekend and I had so much fun.  It was so great to see some of my rarely seen cousins all together.  On the 19th, we had a pig roast and car show for Jimmy's scholarship fund.  It was a great day filled with music from Justus and Scotty Bratcher - their time was completely donated by them and we raised a good deal of money for the fund.  It was probably my favorite fundraiser we've ever done.  I started school the following week and began my junior year of high school.  Which is still crazy to me.  On the 28th, we honored Jimmy's second angelversary.  

September: Of course in September I recognized the anniversaries of Jimmy's homecoming and services in a post here.  I also cut ties with a previous friend, as reflected upon here.  On the 7th, a family friend, my "adopted brother," deployed to Afghanistan.  On the 13th, another one of Jimmy's friends deployed to Afghanistan.  On the 14th, I recognized what would have been my Mommy's 49th birthday.  That night, my family and I went to see Scotty Bratcher play and my friend, Elizabeth, went with us and fell in love with Scotty's music.  On the 22nd, my cousin turned 5.  On the 26th, my dad bought us our first car (a yellow 2000 VW Beetle) and on the 28th we picked it up. I started in-car on the 29th.  I also lost my Jimmy button in the car that day, but thankfully, my instructor found it and returned it to me.

October: On the 6th, I went to homecoming - which was fun.  The 8th marked the 13th anniversary of my mom's death.  The 9th would have been my parents' 30th wedding anniversary.  On the 13th we had a bonfire which was attended by some misc. people and was super fun.  On the 15th, I got to meet JOHN GREEN thanks to my wonderful friend, Abby (I recapped that here).  On the 18th, my school offered REDO day for my class (respect everyone despite odds).  It was such a great experience, I just wish people would keep the attitudes we all left with that day.  On the 23rd, I found out my Uncle Junior was in the hospital.  He was in for a week or two, and is now home, but is still sick.  And then, of course, on the 31st was Halloween, although the local trick-or-treat night was on the 30th.  

November: In this month I set out to participate in NaNoWriMo, which didn't go at all well.  On the 2nd, I went to Leanna Renee Hieber's book signing for The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart.  It was lovely to see her, as always.  On the 10th, we had the 2nd Annual Spaghetti Dinner for Jimmy's scholarship.  Not only was it a great night in which I got to see my friends, family, and some of my "adopted" relatives (two of the guys that served with Jimmy and another guy's dad), we also raised a lot of money that night and hopefully a lot of awareness.  It was a great night full of love, laughter, dancing ( :D ), and wrapping paper fights.  It was a rough night emotionally, but I really realized how far we've come, how much farther we can go, and how loved Jimmy will always be.  He will not be forgotten.  The following day was Veteran's Day and I got to spend some time with three former military men at Jimmy's grave.  On the 16th, my friend, myself, and our moms went to see Breaking Dawn: Part II on release night.  It was bitter sweet to see the series that inspired me come to an end.  That night I posted on FaceBook: "So don't judge me here, but Twilight was the first book to inspire a love for reading and a curiosity for writing in me. Say what you want about the book, its author, or its movie adaptations, but it is rather bitter-sweet to see the series come to an end. I will never forget what it did for me because who I am and where I'm at today is partially thanks to Stephenie Meyer and her dream-inspired series. Which, coincidentally, inspired dreams of my own." On the 19th, I was honored and privileged enough to be inducted into National Honor Society.  It was an oddly emotional thing for me because for the first time in my life, it really hit me that my mom - and Jimmy - would never be there for the important events of my life.  Of course Thanksgiving soon followed and I got to spend time with my family - I actually had a lot of family come in from out of state because on the 24th, we got to celebrate my Great-Great-Grandma's birthday.  She turned 100 on the 25th.  Also on the 24th, OSU beat that team up north.  So, you know, good day.  The 29th would have been Uncle Drew's 48th birthday, so that was a hard day.  We went to the cemetery for a little bit.  I think that was definitely a day when things really sunk in.  

December: I just want to say that this recap is going nearly as fast as this year did.  On the 6th, my baby cousin turned 2 - which is impossible to believe.  On the 8th, my Great Aunt and Uncle came in town and we went to the cemetery with them to decorate Mom and Jimmy's graves for Christmas.  On the 12th (yes 12/12/12) I got my license! On the 14th, my mom, her friend, our cousin, my dad, and myself went to see Scotty Bratcher and the Danny Frazier Band at a local bar/bowling alley.  It was such a great show.  I hadn't planned on staying for the whole thing, but my dad and I ended up being there until the show was over and then some.  I think we left about 1:30am.  On the 15th, I got to see some of my family from Hazard, however briefly as I had had an APUSH class that morning. (Yes, a Saturday morning history class.  8am-11am.  Not at all fun.  Especially after being out that late the night before.  But it was worth it.)  The 18th marked the one year anniversary of my USMC cousin coming home from Afghanistan, so that was exciting.  On the 21st, the world didn't end, so that was pretty cool.  Then I was off for Christmas break and got to spend time with family and friends.  

And now?  Here we are.  At the end of another year.

My junior year of high school is nearly half-way over.  That's a scary thought.  You know, when you're little you always think about growing up.  How different you'll look, what you'll be, who you'll date, what kind of house you'll live in, and all that kind of stuff.  But what you don't realize is how fast you get there.  And how different you turn out than what you imagined.

If you told 8 year old me that at 16 she would have endured so much heartache, so many losses, have written a full (if not crappy) novel and started a few others, learned so much about life and herself, given up on singing because she realized she couldn't sing, never have had a boyfriend, never been kissed, kept some friends but lost others, and enjoy listening to the Blues, I don't think she would have believed you.  I can hardly believe it now.

I think every year changes us and teaches us some things.  This year has taught me to laugh.  To live.  I think my personality has changed this year, and I hope that's for the better.  My life focuses have changed and I also hope that that's for the better.  

Every year has its ups and downs, and this year is no exception.  I've lost people this year - both to death and to breaks that could not be mended.  But I also lived and loved this year.  I don't know that those necessarily balance out, but they've both changed me. 

And as always, I hope it's for the better.

Here's to a wonderful New Year!

p.s.  There are several links to various websites in this post.  If a musician or author mentioned caught your fancy, please be sure to visit their site by clicking the hyper-linked (and underlined) name.  Don't forget to check out their music/books if you do.  Scotty, Leanna, Justus, John Green, and the Danny Frazier Band are all amazing people and definitely deserve some more love.  They didn't ask me to say this or link them, they just happened to be in my life and make it into my year-end recap.  So show 'em some love. Also, the website for Jimmy's scholarship fund is linked where Shabooms is first mentioned, so if you feel inclined to get involved in that or whatever, please do. Happy New Year, y'all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I would like to start this post off by saying that it is not about the tragedy in Connecticut.  This is in no way aimed at that or making a statement about that.  It is, however, in response to the mass flooding of anti-gun law support I've seen on social networking sites.  I wish people would stop using tragedies to use them as platforms to voice their opinions or make the event about an issue.  The shooting at that school - at any school, for that matter - did not happen because the shooter was against guns so don't make this a gun issue.  This is a human issue.

Guns can be good things, just as they can be bad.  

Okay, let's start here.  People have used axes to chop down trees to build homes, wagons, roads, or to heat their homes.  Axes have also been used to kill people.  Same with chain saws.  Other utensils we use daily that are vital to our every day lives are in the same boat.  Cars?  Yep.  Knives?  Yep.  Hammers?  Yep.  Bath tubs and their water?  Yep.  Electricity?  Yep.  Food?  Yep.  Household cleaners?  Yep.  Fertilizer?  Yep.  Gasoline?  Yep.  Swimming pools?  Yep.  Peanuts?  Yep. Shrimp?  Yep.  Fish?  Yep.  Chocolate?  YEP.

My point is, nearly anything can be used to kill people - if we're looking at it this way.  Things that we use every day that are harmless when used the proper way can be turned in a negative light and used to kill someone.  I don't see laws against using or owning knives, cars, or bottles of Clorox.  Know why?  Because majority of people use these things the CORRECT way.  And these things don't kill people on their own.  When they kill people, it is because SOMEONE misused them and did bad things with them.

Aren't guns the same?

While you could argue their vitality to life, they, as long as used properly, are harmless.  If the owner has common sense and doesn't keep the gun lying around the house loaded or the safeties off, no child is going to accidentally set it off.  The owner isn't going to accidentally shoot someone of his or herself if they know what they're doing.  It is when someone comes along and misuses the object that guns become a problem.

Guns can be used for hunting and providing food that you eat daily.  Not only on a local scale, but corporately.  How do you think they kill cows before they're butchered?  Guns.  It's morbid, but it's true.  Guns are used to protect you.  Cops use them all the time and I don't see anyone complaining about law enforcement using them to protect you law-abiding citizens (who are doing absolutely nothing wrong) from being attacked on a daily basis.  And I DEFINITELY do not see anyone complaining about our military men and women having guns and other weapons to protect our country and themselves.  

So why is it such an issue if citizens have guns?  Police officers are just normal citizens in uniform with some extra training that other people don't necessarily have and so are military personnel.  

Wanting to pass laws against guns will accomplish nothing.  The people that do this kind of stuff are not law abiding citizens.  What on earth makes someone think that they'll see a gun law or a gun-free zone and think "Oh, right.  Darn.  Can't bring that here." if they couldn't care less about breaking laws?

I do understand the point that if guns were not allowed, people would be less likely to use them improperly.  But I want to bring up a similar circumstance.  Prohibition.  When alcohol was banned in the United States of America.

Prohibition originated when a group of Christian women decided that if alcohol wasn't consumed by men, women and children would not be abused.  They gained so much support that eventually, prohibition became law.  This, like doing away with guns, appeared to be a noble cause.  It'd make people safer, healthier, etc.  But only when taken at surface level.  It's a fine idea, in theory.

But as a result of Prohibition, an underground market of bootleggers came about.  Organized crime grew ridiculously.  People got hurt because of it.  Because it was suddenly a crime to have and/or consume alcohol, people got hurt keeping it a secret.  But the main point?

People.  Still.  Got.  It.

Making ownership of guns illegal is not going to take guns off the streets anymore than making drugs or prostitutes illegal has kept them off the street.  People will always find a way to get what they want.  Period.  And making them illegal will only cause more problems.  Black markets are sure to arise and crime rates will sky-rocket.  It's worth noting that in countries without gun laws, crime rates are way lower than they are here.

People are more likely to go against something if they're told that they cannot do something. 

But this isn't a gun issue.  This is a human issue.  There are, unfortunately, always going to be broken, messed up people in this world.  It's a sad reality.  But what I fail to understand is how in light of recent events, people are wanting to disarm our citizens completely.  I don't know about you, but if I was in a position where my life, my co-workers'/family members' lives, or children's lives were in danger I would not want to be left defenseless and hoping that law enforcement would show up in time.

Having citizens who carry is a good thing.  Less people will get hurt if A) an intruder or criminal knows that certain groups of people (i.e. school faculty members) carry guns and B) if there are armed citizens who can defend themselves and the people around them and take down the gunman before the police arrive.

To me?  That's worth it.  Saving lives is worth allowing Americans to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.  If you don't like guns, don't carry one.  But don't take that right from others.  Who knows, one of those concealed carry certified citizens might just save your life.

And on a smaller scale, as a woman I would like to have some sort of defense against a male attacker.  You can argue all you want that women can be just as strong as men, but, honey, I'm 4ft 10.5in.  I'm not going to be able to take down a man on my own.  Especially if he's attacking me.  Either having a gun of my own or having a passerby having one could save me (my life, among other things).

Guns can provide safety and security.  Sometimes you don't have time to call the police.  And if you do, it could take awhile for them to get there - more time than you have if someone is breaking into your house.

I don't think that anyone could look me in the eye and tell me that they would prefer to be defenseless if their family was in danger.  I know that I wouldn't want that.  I'd do everything in my power to save as many people as I could.  I think allowing citizens to carry guns (after proper training) is a good place to start.

But, as always, that's just my two cents. 

Comments?  Leave 'em below.  Just be nice.  I won't attack you or your opinions, so don't attack me or mine.

p.s. Just a side note.  Can we please stop releasing the names and photographs of killers?  They do not deserve the media attention and "fame."  Let's focus on the victims and those left behind.  I refuse to give a murderer any of my time or attention - he or she does not deserve it.  The innocent people deprived of the chance to live. . . those are the people I will focus on.  Their stories, their faces, their names, their memory.  Not that of the one who took that from them.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Terribly Sorry

I am so terribly sorry that I have not blogged in forever!  Life has been so crazy since my last post!  I know I said I was going to be better about this, but obviously, I'm bound to fail at blogging.

It's funny because I feel like I have so many things that I want to blog about, but when I sit down to write the blog, I decide I don't want to.  There are a lot of issues I want to talk about, but then I realize how much negative feedback that I will get from people I know, as well as people who would just happen upon this blog.  I feel that it is best to keep my controversial thoughts and opinions to myself.

Anyway, not much has been going on in small-town, Ohio, in the grand scheme of things.  Just a lot of school work.  And more school work.  And a lot of sickness.  I feel like I can't go a whole week and stay healthy!! There have been so many things going around.

And I know that you all REALLY care about this, right?

I think I used to be better at this.  

But, I'm going to post this anyway, just so that my last post date is actually recent!  

I hope you all are having a wonderful start to your holiday/Christmas season!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Will Be an Elephant

I'm so sorry for the lack of posts the past couple of weeks, things have been so hectic since my last post.  But I will make up for it today.

I've been meaning to write this post for a couple days now, but just haven't had the time.  I've also been sick, so I haven't really been in the mood to move, much less write a blog post.  But this past Monday, something happened that changed my life.

I met John Green.

My amazing friend invited me to the signing a while ago, but the magnitude never really hit me until I got there.  In fact, I'd argue that I didn't really realize the reality of it until I was a couple people away from him and ready to hand over my books for signing.  I have to admit, I was a little bit afraid to meet John Green.  I'd watched his videos for years and loved his books, but I was afraid that in real life he wouldn't be the man I expected him to be.

Well, in a room full of 1,100 Nerdfighters, in walks John Green who may or may not have been shocked by the number of people who showed up to a book signing on a Monday night in Cincinnati, Ohio.  I'm not going to lie, I was completely shocked.  I didn't expect there to be that many people because most people I talk to have no idea who John Green is, despite his countless subscribers, followers, and fans.  John began to talk and he was just so modest about his accomplishments and popularity.  I sat there and yelled (the best I could with a nearly-gone voice), "GOOD MORNING HANK, IT'S TUESDAY!" and was in complete disbelief that I was officially part of a VlogBrothers' video - even if no one would ever realize it.  It was just so bizarre to sit there and hear the voice of a man that I normally heard from the speakers on my laptop.  John Green's lecture was so funny, I wished I had recorded it.  Some of the things he said would have made excellent quotes.

I sat there and thought about John Green's book, Looking for Alaska, and how much I had loved it when I read it.  I read it my freshman year of high school, not long after Jimmy was killed in Afghanistan.  I remembered how much the book tore me apart thinking about what, exactly, an "instant death" meant.  I remembered how much it struck me thinking that we really did define our lives as "before" and "after" a death.  Thoughts of my cousin came back to mind and my mood wasn't the best there for a bit.  But then I was reminded of why I loved the book so much.  It made me realize I'm still alive.  I wasn't the one who died in Afghanistan that day, no matter how much I'd wished I was.  I was alive, and maybe for a reason.  I was living, breathing, loving and no matter how much life without Jimmy sucked, I knew that it beat the alternative. 

As the talk ended, we prepared to wait for our letter to be called so that we could get in line to get our books signed.  We got letter Q, so we knew we'd be there for awhile.  During the two and a half (ish) hour wait, we all got a little slap happy / sleep deprived.  I tend to find myself a lot funnier than I am during these times and thus kept making puns about the letter Q.  And then, of course, we found a stray nerd (candy) on the floor, and since we are Nerdfighters, I declared that we should fight it.  And, of course, I had to take pictures with the nerd at that point.  And then we found another nerd.  I think this was one of those things where you just had to be there, haha.  It was a lot funnier at the time.  Oh, and by the way, I kept those two nerds.  But along with the laughs, I grew increasingly nervous to meet John Green - if I had his hair my puff levels would have been extremely high.  I had no idea what I was going to say to him.  I wanted to say so much, but knew that I couldn't hold up the line.  I just wanted him to know how much he had impacted me and my healing process, but I had no idea how to put that to words.

Finally, the Q group was called and we stood in a ginormous line.  And finally, it was my turn to approach the table.  My earlier fears about him not living up to my expectations were squashed as he was so genuine and nice.  He thanked me for waiting the whole time, as if it were more of an inconvenience to me than to him.  I told him about Looking for Alaska and how much it meant to me, with the little voice I had left.  I became kind of emotional right then as I realized I was actually talking to John Green.  I doubt he remembers me, but I hope that he realized how much he impacted me.  As I concluded, I grabbed the penny around my neck (a necklace I made in memorial of my mom, whose name was Penny), and said, "And by the way, they're not worthless."  Mr. Green smiled and said, "I almost want to reconsider because you're so sweet.  But I. . . I still think they're worthless."  : )

I walked away from that library feeling so amazing.  I looked down at my copy of Looking for Alaska and realized that before I had been bothered by being able to see my finger prints on the book cover.  But now I realized that John Green's finger prints now mixed with mine on the cover of a book he wrote and I read.  A book that was semi-biographical to him, and life changing for me.  And like the marker that he signed my books with, the mark he's left on me is permanent.

The next morning, after about four hours of sleep, I woke up and prepared for a long day at school.  I looked up at the sky that Tuesday morning and the stars were so clear.  The air was crisp and the skies were so clear.  I thought about those stars on the way to school and wondered how many of them that I could see were already burned out and if that news just hadn't reached earth yet.  For some reason, this led me to think about books, and more specifically authors.  Some authors' light burns out much quicker than others, but some authors' light continues to burn on for centuries.  Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Poe, Homer, to name a few. 

Writing is something much bigger than I'd ever imagined.  Meeting John Green and seeing the insane amount of people that showed up out of love and respect for him showed me that.  When I sit here at my laptop and write whatever I happen to be working on, it doesn't feel like I'm ever going to make a difference to someone.  Writers don't write with the mindset that they're writing it for an audience.  Writers, in my opinion, write first and foremost for themselves.  And I think that's what makes books so personal.  An author wrote it to do something for them and we can often relate to individuals who have experienced pain.  If a book were written strictly for an audience, I feel that we could not as easily related - we need to feel it was written for US, not EVERYONE.

Mr. Green, when asked what advice he'd give to writers, compared being a writer to being an elephant.  He said that he couldn't tell someone how to be an elephant, because he doesn't know how to be an elephant, he just is.  He's not a better elephant than any other elephant.  He made me realize that I always want to be an elephant.  So many authors have impacted my life, John Green just happens to rank high on that list.  I want to be able to return that favor and if something I write touches just one person the way so many have touched me, I'll be completely happy.


Thank you, John Green. 


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Writing. . . Maybe? We'll see what this turns out to be.

So as you probably guessed from the title, I have pretty much no idea what I'm actually going to write about.  I kind of forgot to plan a blog today because it kind of slipped my mind that today was Tuesday until just now.  So this could be interesting.

I've really been wanting to write lately.  Like REALLY bad, more than I've wanted to in a long time.  But every time I've sat down to write, I have been unable to do so.  I pulled up Chapter 11 of CATCH ME the other day to try to finish it (I've been working on it since about April, probably.  Maybe early May), but I couldn't write a single word.  And the sadder thing? (that doesn't sound right, but oh well.) The last time that draft had been altered was July 24th or something ridiculous like that. 

Writing is an escape for me, a lot of the time.  But right now?  It feels more like a prison.  I feel utterly confined to my story, and I shouldn't feel that way.  As I've stated before, I feel that if I do not finish this first draft before moving on to something else, I will be betraying Jimmy.  What I wouldn't give to just talk this out with him; pick his brain on the subject.

I remember how it felt to finish the first draft of Solace (at the time titled No Title).  It was such a feeling of accomplishment, even though I knew it was terrible crap that I would never let see the light of day again - well, at least, no one else's eyes but my own.  I thought for sure I'd be able to get this first draft of CM done within a few months.  It was such a personal story, one that I felt needed to be told both for Jimmy and for myself.  It was a sort of closure for me that I didn't get from my cousin.  But somehow life got complicated and now I find myself. . . uninspired.

I think I might need to just start it over, in order to write it better.  I think I didn't distance myself enough from it and made it too personal, too much of what I experienced, that it isn't a story anymore.  I need to distance myself, in a way, from Jimmy's character in the story.  But I'm confusing myself now.

So I think this is what I'm going to do:

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  I think in November, I will start a new project, completely different from Catch Me, and see if I can finish it within the month.  If I can't, oh well.  If I can, great.  But the point is, I need to be writing.  I need to find my words, for they have failed me for far too long.  And, as Leanna Renee Hieber said, "The only writer who's not a writer is the one that's not writing."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Starts with Goodbye

When I was younger, the first artist whose music touched me was Carrie Underwood.  To this day, she is one of my favorites and I still listen to everything from "Wasted" (the first track on her first album) to "Who Are You" (the last track on her latest album).  One of the songs that I've listened to repetitively is "Starts With Goodbye" off of her first album, Some Hearts.  I listened to this song when Jimmy died because it really hit home.  Here's a lyric video for it, if you haven't heard it.


I've never liked the idea of saying "goodbye" to anyone.  Even when someone passes away, I don't know that I've ever said "goodbye" because it's always just been "See you later" or maybe it's just because I don't believe they're truly GONE.  That's a loaded statement, to say that someone is gone from your life - forever.  I guess pretty much my whole life I've chosen not to think about it that way.  But my point is, I don't say goodbye to people, not even when they die.  I won't say it if I'm leaving someone's house; I won't say it if I'm on the phone; I won't say it under most circumstances.  Because goodbyes?  Those are final.

Last week, though, I did say goodbye to a friend.  I've kind of hinted at this situation before on a number of blog posts, but haven't been sure how to address it.  I'm still not sure.  I do not believe that full details should be disclosed, and I'm writing this in the hopes that people will not ask me for those full details.  I like some privacy, and I'm also afraid to talk about this because I'm afraid it will change my mind.

I've felt a little hypocritical to miss someone who is still alive and well when there are far too many people that I miss because they were taken from me.  I didn't have a choice in that matter, but in the case of missing a friend who lives five minutes from me?  I did have a choice in that.  That was a constant struggle for me; trying to stay strong and not go crawling back to a bad friendship (which, arguably, could have been a great friendship had it not been built on lies).  But these past few weeks (from about the 28th of August through the 9th of September) have been hard.  Like, seriously, someone should probably take my phone during those weeks from now on.  Last Saturday and Sunday were two of my worst days.  With a Fallen Heroes memorial that Saturday and then Sunday being the anniversary of Jimmy's funeral. . . I was pretty low those days.  Saturday I managed because I was with my family (most of the day, that night was a different story).  Sunday, though?  Sunday I felt completely alone.  As I was writing my reflection (see previous blog post), I got to thinking again about my friend and how much I missed being able to turn to him without fear of judgement.; how I missed being able to lean on him, knowing he'd be there to listen and be a net when I fell. I decided that maybe I needed to talk to him. 

I sat at the dark cemetery feeling my soul literally cave in on itself and my heart shatter into a million shards after having tried to repair themselves for two years.  My heart broke all over again that night as I thought about Jimmy and how desperately I missed him.  I decided that if my friend couldn't see how hurt I was and look past everything we had been through to just be there for me - which was always the most important thing to our friendship - then it wasn't worth fixing. 

I wasn't sure what I wanted.  But my friend wasn't there for me.  He replied but our conversation went south very, very quickly and somehow?  Somehow we ended up at the end.  Which hurt.  A lot more than I thought it would.  Even though our end had been suspended by a very thin, fragile thread for months (about 7, actually) - and even more so the past month - it still hurt to realize he didn't miss our friendship the way I did; that he didn't miss me the way I sometimes missed him.  It hurt to think that this was goodbye.

I don't think I've ever had to part ways with someone without having death be the reason.  It's very strange for me because it's so final.  My friend, whom I once shared everything with, will no longer be in my life.  I've known that was a possibility for a good while, but knowing for certain?  That hurt.  It did.  Neither of us actually said "goodbye", not in so many words, but it was still clear.

I woke up the next morning hurting.  Whether from Jimmy, still, or my friend, I can't say for certain.  Tuesday I woke up and still hurt - but it was also 9-11, so my heart hurt for a lot of reasons.  But Wednesday I woke up and felt okay.  Thursday I felt better (except for the fact that my friend deployed that morning).  Friday?  Friday I felt great (except for the fact that it would have been my mom's birthday).  And I still do. 

Maybe the reason I was in such pain over my friendship for those 7 months (which is astonishing now that I think about it) is because I didn't know what was going to happen.  Not knowing is terrible.  I think that I needed that closure - no matter how it went.  I needed that weight lifted off of me and now when I think of him, I don't feel bitter.  I don't feel angry.  I don't feel nostalgic or desperate or longing or anything.  I just feel. . . relieved.

Should my friend read this, I feel I should say some things:  I will always care about you.   I think that, in a way, I will always love you and miss you. I will always be grateful that you showed me that I could, indeed, be HAPPY again.  I will always owe it to you for helping me find another piece of myself - a person who doesn't care what others think of her and a person who's not afraid to go after what she wants; a person who is blunt and honest and doesn't play games.  You made me feel special and worthwhile, no matter how long that lasted.  You also gave me a gift that no one else has been able to and that. . . well, we both know what that was (and for the rest of you, it wasn't anything inappropriate!).  I hope that one day we'll run into each other and we can both smile and laugh about how hot fire is or how terrible movies are that include cowboys and aliens.

Monday I woke up feeling as though a new chapter in my life had been started.  And I believe that, indeed, it has been.  Scared?  Yeah.  Nervous?  Yeah.  But mostly?  I'm just ready.  I'm moving on with my life - I'm a junior in high school.  These are the days I'm supposed to be enjoying and living to the fullest.  And from now on?  I'm going to do that.  Because now?  I'm ABLE to do that.  I once said that moving on is not the same thing as letting go. When you decide to move forward, you can't let go; you have to move forward with your past experiences being a part of you.  Letting go, though, is not moving forward, but starting over; when you let go, you release something that was once a part of you and therefore must start over and become someone else - a completely new person.  And because of this, I will never let go.

My past does not define me.  It composes me.

My friend, you will always be a part of me.  Our time together will always be part of who I am because, however brief it was, it molded and shaped me the way anything else does.  I do not regret it; nor do I regret our ending.  I wish you nothing but happiness, success, and blessings.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Two Year Reflection

            I seriously have fallen behind this year with my reflections.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted to do a reflection of August 28th this year or not; if I wanted to reflect on Jimmy’s homecoming and services.  But I have decided that I really need to.

            On August 28th this year, my family and I gathered at the airport that Jimmy arrived at on September 6th, 2010 for the last time.  His mom, his wife, his brother-in-law, his aunt, and two others jumped out of a perfectly good airplane that day in honor of Jimmy.  We then went to the cemetery and held a candle light vigil for our Hero as we marked the two year anniversary of his death.  I read a poem that night and fought back tears.  It really hit me as we stood there:  It has been two years.  Two years that we’ve all tried to learn how to live without him.  I don’t quite understand how we’ve done that, but what matters is that we have.  The thing that we thought would kill us, the thing we thought we would never be able to overcome or move past. . . we survived that.  I don’t know that any other term could describe that because that’s exactly what we’ve done.  We’ve SURVIVED.  I wanted that day to last forever because I didn’t want us to move into the third year without him.  My heart hurt so excruciatingly much in that moment and I knew that the next day I wouldn’t have an excuse for it to.  I wanted to stay in that day so that I could let that pain run its course without having to worry how others would view it.  Because I know how I come across to people, I know that people probably think “She should really be getting over it by now.”  I know that I shouldn’t feel this broken over my cousin.  I loved him so much, but I know that I don’t suffer the most.  But that day did come to an end as I talked to a very special person who assured me I’d be alright because I was in their heart.  And that?  That’s the safest place to be because that’s the place that makes you the strongest.

            On the 6th of September I honored the day that my Hero made his final journey home.  We brought him home that Monday morning with many flags, many people, many tears, and much love.  I already reflected on this day, so I won’t write much here.  That day weighed heavily on my heart because I also had to think of my Uncle Drew who rode that day for a man he did not know – a man that he grew to love that he didn’t have to.  Having lost both of them was a sharp knife in my heart.

            Yesterday was September 8th.  My family and I again went to Sunbury, Ohio for the Fallen Heroes Memorial ceremony.  The ceremony is already heartbreaking and sobering as you cry for each person there because you know exactly how each one of them felt.  They called role for each of the 274 Fallen Heroes from the state of Ohio and I read each name with the speakers and whispered a silent “thank you” to each of them. My heart broke so much that I didn’t think it was possible for it to shatter any more when I heard the name “SGT James C. Robinson” called followed be a “Not present” and the tolling of the bell.  These flags were lined up on the side walk and the wind blew them like crazy.  Old Glory slapped me in the face and I knew that it had to be Jimmy saying “Hey, kid, snap out of it.  I’m still here, and I’m not going anywhere.”  That day, though, also happened to be the two year anniversary of Jimmy’s visitation.  I remember pieces of that day so vividly that it’s insane.  It was two years ago yesterday that Mr. Keith Maupin handed me the button with Jimmy’s picture.  I have worn that button every day for two years – a total of 731 days.  In those two years, each time I have said the Pledge of Allegiance, my hand has covered that button, which has covered my heart.  In those two years my Hero has helped protect my heart and has helped protect me.  In those two years I have been able to look down at any given moment and see his face. 

            But in those two years, that picture has faded.  I realized at Sunbury just how much it had faded.  And so today I have decided that it is time to stop wearing it.  It breaks my heart completely to do that.  It makes me feel as though I am forgetting him.  It makes me feel like I’m losing a piece of him or a piece of myself.  That button has been on my chest every day for two years and has become such a part of me.  I did not wear my button for the first time today, and it feels so strange.  Jimmy, I promise you, I am not forgetting you.  I wish I could talk to you about this.  I love you just as much as I did yesterday – and the day before that and the day before that and so on and so on.  It has taken me awhile to realize that.  It has taken me awhile to realize that by taking off this button, it does not mean that I’ll forget you, that I love you any less, or that I won’t think about you.  Because I will.  I still think about you all the time and I love you so much my heart could burst with pride and explode with sadness.  I hope that you understand.

            And today marks two years since I saw my Hero’s face for the last time.  Today marks two years since I spoke at your funeral; two years since we laid you to rest; two years since I stood at the cemetery as the director said “This marks the end of the funeral services for SGT James C. Robinson” and I wondered how in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks I was supposed to just go home now.  How I was supposed to keep on living now that things were over.  How I was supposed to not fall into that six feet hole with you.  Today marks two years since I kissed your cheek for the last time.  I wish that kiss would have woken you up.  My tears are forever with you – my kiss forever with you. 
            But the thing is, I still wonder how we’re supposed to go on.  Because it still feels like I could literally die from this pain.  I stopped by the cemetery after the sunset tonight and I stood at my Hero’s grave and thought about the two years that have lapsed.  It doesn’t seem possible, but at the same time it seems like we’ve lived without him forever.  Jimmy, I miss you so much.  But I know you’ll never leave us.  I just wish I could hug you one more time, kiss you on the cheek, and tell you I love you.

Love always,

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I know I skipped writing last Tuesday, and I meant to post Wednesday.  I did, I really did.  But Tuesday was spent finishing up my homework for school (which started Wednesday), and then Wednesday after school I felt really sick and slept a good portion of the evening after I got home.  But I told myself I would post before my next Tuesday came about, so you're welcome.  ?

Anyway, my year, so far, has been pretty good.  I like most of my teachers, and I like being an upper-classman.  Although, that kind of sends a feeling of panic through me as I'm half way done with high school, and if the same holds true for these years, the next two are going to fly by way too fast.  I really think I wouldn't mind school so much if I didn't have to get up so early!  I'm not a morning person, at all.  Besides my English teacher giving us an insanely impossible quiz over a book I read in June (a how-to book, nonetheless) asking for tiny details he included that I didn't star or anything, this year has been okay the first three days.

I feel like I should update you on my writing, since I haven't done that in awhile.  I haven't written anything.  Literally, nothing.  This past Sunday we had a car/bike show and pig roast fundraiser for Jimmy's scholarship fund.  It turned out pretty great, and we even had Scotty Bratcher performing.  It was a great day and a lot of fun.  But it reminded me how much I have slacked on writing.  I didn't write at all this summer, nothing that I wanted to write, that is.  I may have written one poem this summer, and I know it wasn't my best.  It also reminded me that I needed to write a poem for the two-year anniversary. 

It's been a real struggle for me.  I haven't had a ton of time to try to write it, but when I sit down to do it I just kind of freeze.  I don't know if it's because I've taken such a long break or what.  I have a couple things written down that I want to include in the poem, but this is a tough one.  I don't know that I've ever struggled with a rough draft of a poem so much. 

At the car show, Scotty was talking about writing songs.  He couldn't remember who said it, but he quoted them on saying "When you write about it, it's because you're over it."  I agree with that in terms of relationships, daily events, and that kind of stuff.  But with death?  I'm not so sure.  Some of the best things I've written have been written during my darkest hours of grief.  But at the same time, some of my worst stuff has been written during those hours, too.

I think sometimes we get too caught up in trying to philosophize pain; trying to find a reason for it, trying to make it symbolic.  And sometimes?  Sometimes we can't.  I'm not a very good philosophic poet.  I will never claim to be.  I don't write deep stuff.  I mean, the closest metaphoric thing I've ever written to that would be the caged bird poem or the one I wrote for Scotty about "playing with broken guitar strings."

Writing, when over thought, isn't writing, rather it's a dictated syntax of words.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Years vs. Years

So I have a problem where I compare times of the year to previous years.  I don't know exactly why I do or when I started doing this, but I do.  Last year every time I did this, I found it hurt because I could say "this time last year, Jimmy was still here."  And now it's "this time two years ago, Jimmy was still here."

Two years seem impossible.  It seems impossible that it has been two years since I started my freshman year of high school.  It seems impossible that it has almost been two years since my life changed forever, that we got the news that Jimmy wasn't coming home this time.  Two years?  Think of how much things can change in that amount of time.  It's insane.  I'm not the same person I was two years ago, not by a long shot.  I'm so different now, more sure of who I am, more proud of who I am.  And that, sometimes, hurts.  It makes me realize that I am no longer the person who Jimmy knew. 

I don't really know where I'm going with this, except that change has been on my mind.  It hurts to look back to a year ago (or whatever) and realize that the people you loved most are no longer in your life.  And it hurts even more to realize that some of them aren't in your life anymore by choice.  Whether it's your choice or theirs, that hurts.  It forces you to mourn the loss of someone that you haven't really lost.  And after spending so much time mourning someone I had no choice to lose, someone I couldn't fight to keep, I find it so hypocritical to do that. 

Earlier this year, a friend of mine and I parted ways.  The situation doesn't need to be explained, and, to be honest, I don't quite understand it myself.  I just know that I'm tired of putting myself through pain for the sake of pride.  I miss my friend.  I do.  And I know that I don't have to.  They live so close to me, they are alive and well.  How can I mourn someone, put myself through that pain, when I have a chance to save this?

But it's so scary because I don't know if they want to save it.  But I've made my move.  And although I know that's all I can do, I still worry it's not enough.  And I hate how this is sounding, but I just needed a good vent today.  With school starting, it makes me feel like so much is changing, life's moving so fast.  And I just want to slam on the breaks.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Absense = Stress

So from previous posts, you should be able to gather that I will do just about anything to procrastinate summer assignments.  Especially on Tuesdays, because that means this blog is an excuse to procrastinate.  Last Tuesday, I didn't post anything here.  And if I didn't post anything?  That means I was really crunching to get my essay done by last Friday.

I am proud to say that I turned my paper in a day EARLY and even turned it in before 2pm.  I was pretty shocked.  I wrote majority of it last Tuesday and Wednesday, then spent Thursday morning curled up with a cup of coffee editing my paper.  It was absolute crap, but I turned it in.  I am just thankful that's over with.

But at the same time, it has begun to sink in (no matter how much I deny it and refuse to acknowledge it) that school isn't so far away. I still have some other assignments to complete (umm, and start).  And those assignments. . . well, it used to seem like there was so much time for me to get them done.  But now?  Not so much.

I told myself that I was going to take a few days for me.  So I did.  In those days, I read the new book by Richelle Mead (which went by wayyyyyyy too quickly - ever notice how that happens when you're trying to put something off by rewarding yourself?), and watched some Gordon Ramsay (who now follows me on Twitter!! @HannaLedford, btw), and went to my family reunion - the last of which was AMAZING.  I love my family so much.

And now tonight I am reminded that I still have a lot to do before I again set my alarms for 5:30am (that thought alone makes me want to throw up).  I need to clean my room (which has actually been a goal all summer. . . whoops), I need to do a few crafty things, I need to have my friend over (I haven't hung out with my friends once this summer, how awful is that?  Life's just gotten in the way of so much), I need to prepare for a scholarship benefit for Jimmy's fund, and I need to get ready for back to school.  I wish that I could prolong time, but not just because of school.

The future always seemed so distant.  Graduating always seemed like some far away event that would never actually happen, you know what I mean?  I mean, sure, I always knew I'd graduate, but I just couldn't ever see that day coming - and I still can't.  I'm going to be starting my junior year of high school and that's crazy to me.  It's seriously almost time for me to enter "the real world."  College. . . that's not so distant anymore. 

A lot of people have brought up the question of what I want to do with my life recently.  And I didn't know what to tell them.  My brother knew exactly what to say: where he wanted to go and what he wanted to major in.  But me?  I always thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  But things have changed, and honestly, I don't know if there's a major - a single major at that - for what I want to do.

I want to write, yes.  I want to write novels.  I want to go overseas to Afghanistan and do some freelancing work.  I want to take pictures, but not have my own studio (I don't think?).  I want to be on Dr. Who (that one I'm just going to throw in because it'd be really cool). 

But the thing I want to do most?  I want to make a difference.

We all have those people we look up to; those people that we wish we could meet and that inspire us more than anything or anyone else ever has.  I want to be one of those people to somebody.  I want someone to come up to me one day because of something I've done and tell me that I changed his or her life like so many have done for me.  That sounds a little vain, but I just want to make a difference in this world.  I want to leave it better than I found it.  I want to save someone's life, the way others have saved mine.  I want to meet people from all over, I want to travel and see the world, I want to do so much.

But what will I actually do?  That's the problem. There's so much that I want to do that I wonder how much of it I'll actually accomplish.  There's a part of me that knows which dreams will probably never come into fruition.  But I can't deny that those dreams are still there.

But like I said, there's no major for that.  And the future?  It scares me.  A lot. 

But I vowed that I'd always follow my dreams.  And, as the note on my desk reminds me daily that sits below a picture of Jimmy, "Make him as proud of you as you are of him."  And that idea?  That's what will get me to my dreams.

But, seriously, if anyone from Dr. Who ever reads this. . . I think you're due for an American companion. . . ; )

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Worries, Sorrows, and Regrets

I'm posting this a little late as I didn't really know what I wanted to talk about today.  I debated talking about the shooting in Colorado, but decided against it.  But I guess this could be somewhat related.  I just decided to talk about worries, sorrows, and regrets.  Because nothing says "summer" like that, right?

Saturday we honored my Uncle Drew at a bike ride and after-party that raised money for his two sons' college funds.  I looked for pictures of my Uncle Drew to include in my reflection and found that I didn't have that many of my own, none that I really WANTED. 

Ever since Jimmy died (almost two years ago), I've tried to live my life without regrets.  I've tried to live every day to the fullest, and do as many things as I'm given the opportunity to do.  I've tried to get a taste of everything life has to offer (that's legal, anyway).  One of the outcomes of this was that I started taking pictures.  Lots of them.  I took pictures of my grandparents, my parents, my military family members, my cousins that I hardly ever get to see, my baby cousins that only stay little so long. . . But there are some people that you just think you'll always have the chance to do things with, to laugh with, to hug, and to photograph.  Drew was one of these people.  I regret with every fiber of my being that I do not have a recent picture with him.  The most recent one I can find is from 2009.  I had just turned 13.  Now, if you didn't already guess, I look a lot different than I did three years ago - heck, I look a lot different than I did one year ago. 

I don't really know where this post is going or what the point is.  But I guess what I want to say is, live like you DON'T have a tomorrow.  Treat every family gathering like it's your last, or someone else's.  Take NOTHING for granted.  Tell people what you want them to know BEFORE they're on life support. 

I haven't really touched the worries and sorrows part, have I?  Yeah I didn't really think this post through before I titled it.  I know they say not to title things before you write them - but I do with blogs because it gives me a purpose to stick to.

But anyway, worries and sorrows.  I worry a lot, which sometimes leads to regret.  However, I'd rather look back and say "I wish I hadn't. . . " than to look back and say "I wish I would've. . . what would have happened if I did?"  But when I look back and find myself saying that latter, I feel sorrow.  To me, regrets and sorrow kind of go hand-in-hand.  Regrets are never a good thing to have - whether you regret not studying as much as you could have for a test or if you regret not going to a family reunion or whatever.  They make you feel kind of lousy.

And this post isn't going anywhere, and I forgot what I was going to say.  So:  Live life to the fullest.  Believe in yourself.  Love yourself and others.  And. . . yeah.  Live it up.