Spotting the Light: Jameson Smith|| Creative Spotlight – 10

Hello everybody! Today, we’re featuring yet another creative for the 10th installment of Spotting the Light: Jameson! I met Jameson when I won a giveaway for her book The Assassin’s Daughter, and have kept up with her social media (mainly) since then. Today I get to interview her!

Charley(3)

JCS500 - Jameson C. Smith.jpgJameson is a twenty-something Christian in love with stories and nerdy things. She is a writer, bookworm, and introvert (INF/TJ). When she is not chasing after characters or getting lost in stories, she also likes to bake things and travel.

Website ||Book || Instagram || Twitter || Pinterest || GoodReads

What do you blog about?

Most of my blog focus is on writing and books, but I also enjoy blogging about faith and general life things.

What made you decide to start bloging?

I started blogging as an extra credit project for school. Though my blogging focuses have varied over the years with different blogs, it’s still one of my favorite things to do!

Describe your process, from idea to post

Usually I start with a few notes or the idea for a title, then build the post around those. Once I’ve chosen a title, I make a title graphic, gather any additional photos, and finalize formatting and content.

What made you decide to start writing?

During a moment of boredom, I started typing out a short story. While I enjoyed writing for school, it wasn’t something I thought much about until after that moment—especially when developing my own characters and plots! From there, the hobby grew to be something I loved and wanted to pursue seriously.

How long does it take for you to write a book?

On average, I’d say it takes about one to three months for me to complete a first draft.

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What is your favorite part about writing?

Getting to know characters and figuring out what their stories are.

What makes a good story?

Characters and plot are my two favorite parts of stories, and I enjoy stories that balance both of those while also being entertaining. I love to be swept up in a character’s journey and see where it takes them.

Does writing energize you or exhaust you, and why?

I usually find it to be energizing, especially when I’ve really hit the core of the story and can focus on it. On the other hand, if I’m wrestling with a difficult character or scene, it can be really tiring.

How much time do you spend doing research?

Probably a few hours per draft? It’s easier for me to do in-depth research after I’ve written a first draft, so I can focus on what needs the most research.

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How many books have you written?

18

What was the most interesting part about your publishing journey?

Pretty early on, I’d considered indie publishing for TAD. It’s been fun to learn about the process and figure out which options were the best for the book. Being able to finally look at TAD as a completed project, instead of a constant work-in-progress, was really cool too (and a bit surprising, to be honest)!

Why do you do what you do?

Noveling and blogging are some of my favorite ways to write because they’re fun and honestly, I just love it. 🙂 The writing and blogging communities are awesome, and I’ve “met” so many great people because of them!


Thank you, Jameson, for your interview today! Go check her out!

Website ||Book || Instagram || Twitter || Pinterest || GoodReads

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Book Review: A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White

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About the Book-

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and a top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a critical task at the outset of World War I–to secure a crucial cypher key from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lucas de Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won–until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas feats that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only distraction he finds from his worry is in meeting the intriguing and talented Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t–that she must betray him and find that key, or her own family could pay the same price his surely has.

My Review-

This book. THIS BOOK. If I’d thought I liked the first book in the series a lot, I LOVE this book! Well, considering the first book was about books, and the second one is about music, I’M SOLD.

I don’t really know why I waited so long to read this book: it was so sweet and fun to read! It follows Willa, the second oldest child in the family, and a lot of the characters from the first book came back make an appearance, which was so fun, and made it so coherent!

Like I said, I loved the first book, but I like this one even more than that one, because of the music. Being a musician myself, that absolute skILL Willa and Lukas have just resonates within me (no pun intended, hahaha). Also I may or may not have read this while I should have been studying for my AP Music Theory exam, and it was highkey convicting me all the way through, but I couldn’t juST PUT IT DOWN LIKE THAT?????

The romance was a bit heavier in this one than in the previous book, but it . . . just felt right. Sometimes romance feels rushed and thrown in for the sake of being thrown in, but this felt natural. *(There are some mentions of possible content warning stuff, but it was super clean overall)*

The side story, Margot (Lukas’ sister), was also so so intriguing to follow as well. Also, there was more wartime content, and if you know me, you know that I LOVE that kind of stuff.

Overall? THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. Read it (but in order). You will not be disappointed.

My Rating-

9/10 (closer to 9.5, since it’s higher than the 9 I gave A Name Unknown)

Things Liked-

  • Music!!!!
  • Wartime stuff
    (those two things right there have won my heart right over)
  • The family!
  • The side story line/cryptology bits were super interesting
  • buT whO iS mR V thO
  • So similar yet so different from the first book
  • The SASS
  • But that ending is perFECT though fight me
  • Also spiritual content

Things Didn’t Like-

  • A little romantic (the first few kisses were unwarrented), and I’m a big downer when it comes to romance

Thanks to Bethany House for providing me with a free physical copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion; I was not required to provide a positive review.

Spotting the Light: Audrey Caylin|| Creative Spotlight – 9

Hello everyone! Today, it’s time for the NINTH installment of Spotting the Light! Today, we are interviewing writer/author Audrey Caylin!

Charley

Audrey Caylin is a full-time dreamer and aspiring independent author, living on words and the wild beauty of life. Somewhere along the way, she began searching for green flashes during sunsets and embraced a mission to bring hope to the world through her writing. When she’s not delving into fantastical or futuristic worlds via writing or reading, she’ll probably be blogging, driving along the west coast with the windows rolled down, or with her face tilted to the sky on a rainy day.

What made you decide to start writing?

I started writing because I wanted to read a good book, actually! I could never find the “perfect book,” so eleven-year-old me decided to write one. However, I quickly forgot about the perfect book and was drawn more and more to the excitement that comes from exploring strange and unique worlds on paper. Only in the past few years did I see the power that stories hold to impact us and strive to have mine do that for other people.

How long does it take for you to write a book?

It takes me a month or two to outline, then around thirty days to complete the first draft. After that, it depends on the story. Most often, I’ll do a major rewrite and then plenty of edits over several months.

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What makes a good story?

For me, it’s three things: engaging plot, relatable characters, and a powerful theme. Take one of those out, and the story feels unbalanced or lacking something needed to be at its full potential.
And just for good measure, I love fascinating worlds!

Does writing energize you or exhaust you, and why?

Writing definitely energizes me! It gives me a rush that I can’t get from anything else. It makes my heart pound and my mind whirl with ideas as I try to keep up with my pen or my fingers on the keyboard. It’s like I’m flying when I’m writing; I’m totally free. There are times when I feel exhausted after writing, mainly because I was exhausted before I began, so maybe it’s the idea of writing that energizes me the most.

How much time do you spend doing research?

Not enough, haha! I love to jump right in to drafts or editing, so I look things up as I need them…and still probably don’t spend enough time on it 😉

How many books have you written so far?

I’ve written ten books so far. However, I’ve rewritten half of them several times and the others were simply first drafts I never edited.

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What is your favorite book?

Just one?!? That’s such an impossible question for a bookworm like me! I guess if I had to choose, I’d pick A Time To Die, by Nadine Brandes. It’s my favorite dystopian novel ever and had a huge spiritual impact on me.
But Bones of Makaidos (Bryan Davis) and Resistance (Jaye L. Knight) are also pretty amazing 😉

What is/was your favorite childhood book?

Misty of Chincoteague was my very favorite; I read it over a dozen times! I also loved the Little House books and the Warrior cats series.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Cookies and cream, with really, really big chunks of Oreo cookies in there!


And that’s it! Go follow Audrey! She is amazing.

Blog || Twitter || Instagram

*some links included were affiliate.

A Week In My Life || Senior Year Homeschooling || Spring 2018

Hey everyone! I’m very close to finishing out my senior year, and closing out being homeschooled (waHT), and I realized that I never did a day in my life/week in my life type post. So, HERE IT IS!

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(obviously, this is very simplified: every week is different, and I’m not talking about my morning/evening routines, or anything like that. My week is the only thing that is consistent enough to possibly write about)

Sunday

Sunday morning always begins with church: sometimes I help in children’s Sunday school with my mom, and sometimes I play flute in the service, but church always happens on Sunday mornings.

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After church, I go home and eat lunch, clean my room, sometimes do some reading that I didn’t get done during the week.

In the afternoon, there is youth group, something my church puts on for middle and high schoolers, where we talk about topics and play games. I play on the worship team, so I get there a couple hours early to rehearse.

Sunday nights are usually when the deadlines of most of my classes are, so it’s usually spent rushing working to get everything turned in.

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Monday

I have class Monday morning: calculus. Lots of fun. After I get home, I make coffee, unpack my backpack, and write out my to-do list and my assignments for the week. I finish the workbook assignments for my AP Lit class, and then take calculus notes.

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In the evening, there is a Science Olympiad meeting. Usually at these meetings, I work on gathering data and studying. Sometimes I work with the middle school team to get some bugs on their end sorted out.

Tuesday

Tuesday is my favorite day of the week. In the morning, I’m productive: usually doing online class homework, and sometimes cleaning my room. I usually get a lot of offline work done, such as notetaking and problem-solving.

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Then, in the late afternoon and evening, there is band, the highlight of the week! The early part of the night, I help in the flute section of the younger band, or lead a sectional, then later on in the night, I play flute in my band.

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Wednesday

I have class in the morning, and I usually stay and work in the campus library. Usually I comment on blogposts.

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After I get home and eat lunch, I attend my music theory lab, where we do sightsinging and musical dictation, and all that fun stuff. After that, I do more homework, AP lit or music theory usually.

In the evening, I go help at AWANA Cubbies: a Bible memory club that our church hosts. Getting to work with three and four year olds is always fun.

Thursday

Thursday morning I work on school work and stuff, then around noon, I head to my church to fly helicopters for Science Olympiad with my partner. It works better some days than others, but it’s fun (usually).

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Once a month on Thursdays, I have a 4-H meeting, but usually, I head home. I teach piano in the afternoons to some family friends’ kids, which is fun (because I get paid).

In the evening, I attend a youth group discussion, where the seniors in youth groups from around the area get together to discuss what to expect during college, and being a Christian in college, which is always fun.

Friday

I have class again ><

When I get home, I write my blogpost that goes up, then homework, usually calculus and sometimes read.

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Friday afternoons are lots of fun. I go to my Science Olympiad coach’s house and we study for Science Olympiad. Usually I run a powder identification test for forensics, and we identify some rocks and minerals. I get to hang out with my friends and geek out about fun science things.

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Saturday

These are all different, since there are different things I have to go to. Sometimes I have to work at the museum I volunteer at, but today I have a 4-H event to go to.

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Saturday evening, I clean my room, because it’s gotten messy again over the week, and do something relaxing like read a book.

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How did you like this post? What is a typical week in your life like? Are you finishing up the school year too?

April 2018 Recap || What Happened This Month

April was a weird month. While on one hand, I got a lot done and put out a bunch of blogposts I’m really proud of, it was also very emotionally draining because of lots of things ending. And aside from doing a lot of *stuff*, I wasn’t really productive either. So. it was weird. But I did a recap!

What Happened This Month April 2018
Photo by Maggie H on Unsplash, [terrible] editing by me

Playlist-

Happenings-

Awesome-

  • going prom dress shopping with friends
  • getting chocolate from a random little old lady at church
  • changing the music you’re listening to on your computer with your phone on spotify
  • the sweetest moments with Him™
  • getting to meet the SWEETEST and SMALLEST and MOST PRECIOUS baby boy after his parents, my youth group leaders, walked through infertility for 9 years
  • realizing how much Jesus loves us
  • posting a picture of Him™ on the finsta and y’ALL LOVING ON US

Awkward-

  • writing down a list of activities and stuff that are ending in a few weeks, hitting the words “the end,” and starting to tear up
  • getting that YODEL BOY’S SONG STUCK IN YOUR HEAD
  • being at community college, paying thousands of dollars to attend class, and going on Youtube, and them having the audaCITY TO SHOW YOU THEIR OWN AD WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO WATCH A CALCULUS VIDEO
  • going from 85 degree weather to 40 degree weather in the span of three days
  • sitting in the college library studying and listening to the conversation of the four guys by you, three of every four words being the s word, the f word, or the n word

That Moment When-

  • you find out dodie is going to be twenty-five minutes from you on tour . . . then also find out that tickets are sold out
  • doing multiple choice in class and a kid saying his answer was “D for doggo” and the teacher saying he was wrong because she didn’t know what it was and thought he said “B for bongo”
  • Him™ breaks his wrist IN FRONT OF YOU
  • Pentatonix comes out with an AWESOME ALBUM but you listen to it on a day with lots of sad memories and ruin it

YouTube Videos-

Blogpost Read-

Self-Love vs. God's Love Banner

Self Love VS God’s Love by Christine Smith

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Just Little Things by Emily Mundell

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The Confidence of a Child by Maggie

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Dear to be Happy Again by Julia

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Extraordinary: A Definition by Madeline

April Goals WrapUp-

  • Do 150 hours of productive work- pshhhhh hahahahah no. As my Camp NaNo cabinmates have seen, I’m so far off of this goal it’s funny
  • Take one chapter of notes a day- you would think that with finals coming up, I’d work on this more . . . but lol no
  • Finish 30 Day Ab Workout- I did 24 days! Which was more than I expected!
  • Memorize Philippians (with church)- not . . . .really?
  • 5 blog comments per day- I did it!!!
  • Be in bed by 12 and up by 8- this goal helped, but no
  • Fluoride Rinse everyday- did it! (mostly)
  • Read 7 books- haha I got no time *distant crying*

May Goals-

  • Handletter the Little Bible Plan prompts
  • No social media between 11am and 10pm
  • Finish out high school (!!!)
  • 3 blog comments a day
  • Read 20 books
  • Clean out the house

What happened TO YOU in April? What are some of the goals that you have for May? Can you believe that it’s MAY next month??

Spotting the Light: Sumedha || Creative Spotlight – 8

Hey everyone! It’s time for another Spotting the Light post! Today, we’re interviewing Sumedha!

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Sumedha is a 19 year old Indian studying Computer Science and Engineering in college. Usually in her down time she’s blogging, reading or hanging out with her best friends. She does pretty much everything with her best friends. She loves looking at aesthetic pictures and basically gush about it to everyone.

What do you blog about? (books, lifestyle, etc)

I blog mostly about books, music and bullet journalling. Overall, though, I try not to keep a niche because I love the freedom to blog about anything I want.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I love taking up new projects and trying new things, especially online, so I randomly made a blog one day. I never planned anything but it actually got a lot of views and so I made an effort to do better at it. I recently changed my blog name because the old one was too long and no one could remember it.

Where do you get ideas for what you do?

For my discussion posts, basically anything that I feel ranting about. Once I actually wrote a blog post on a poster I saw at a bank. So basically anything, to be honest. I also DID make a blog post about this so you can check it out to know more.

If you could talk to yourself when you were starting out, what advice would you give yourself?

DO SOME RESEARCH. And choose a good, easy name!

What is your favourite piece of content that you’ve put out?

This is always hard to answer! I always feel like I could have done better with my posts. But there ARE posts I’ve loved writing. The most recent has to be my review of the movie Fallen based on the book by Lauren Kate. I’m not salty very often in my reviews but when I am, I totally let go.

Describe your progress, from idea to post

The brainstorming ideas post was the first of my blog posts to share exactly this in detail.
I usually write down my blog post ideas in my bullet journal. If there’s any planning for the content, I write that down as well. I usually don’t have the time to immediately type the post so it sits for a while and when I get the time, I come up with way more things to say. I usually frequently switch between the normal and html screens in my post editor because lately I’ve been doing a LOT of formatting. After I’ve typed it out, I add the images and schedule it. I plan my scheduling dates so that consecutive posts aren’t the same, so as to give a little variety. For example, I’ll do a book review followed by blogging tips and then a discussion post.
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What does a day in your life look like?

I’ve tried to pen down a routine but to be honest, I don’t have one. On the days I have classes, I wake up at 6am and get ready in a rush to catch the bus at 7. I’m at college until 4pm and get back home around 5:30pm, following which I chill for a bit. I start my assignments/work around 7pm or I sit down to plan things if I don’t go out with my friends. I don’t socialise very much but I hang out as much as possible with the friends I’m close to.
I blog on Sundays, typing up multiple posts at a time to utilize time better and be productive. Sunday mornings are for this. Since I have classes six days a week, Sundays are my only down time days so I use it to get things done as much as possible.

What is your favourite book?

This is HARD. My all-time favourite books are Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. My latest favourites are Warcross by Marie Lu and the Shades of Magic series by VE Schwab.

What is/was your favourite childhood book?

I read mostly Indian comics until 6th grade because we didn’t have a proper library near my place. My mom used to bring home comics when she went to other cities for work. The first absolute favourite book of mine is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

What is your favourite song/artist the the moment?

I haven’t listened to any new music lately but what I HAVE been listening to on repeat is the Dusk till Dawn sing-off by Conor Maynard and Anna Maynard. I’m not a fan of Conor Maynard but I like Anna Maynard and make sure to watch the videos she’s in. I was blown away by her voice! I haven’t heard her singing before, so I really like it.

What is your favourite ice cream flavour?

Chocolate. Whatever chocolate. I’m not a fan of actual chocolates but I love anything chocolate flavoured.

Follow Sumedha here-

States 2018 || Science Olympiad

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5:20.
alarm.

5:40.
roll out of bed, get ready, pack (bc was too tired the night before and bc lazy and bc was writing memoir)

6:12.
driving. very derealized. pretty sunrise. brief moment of being present. happy, almost start tearing up. quickly is derealized again.

7:23.
on campus. it’s familiar from past years, yet worn out by time. parking garage is familiar, but still vaguely horrifying. sees SW’s car. feels oddly comforted. walks on campus, sees rival school students. their shirt colors match ours. see my especial rival. we exchange peace signs and good luck wishes.

7:42.
homeroom. my last one. big room, auditorium like. gets wristband. puts it on lopsided. I feel oddly cheated. sits next to SW for briefing meeting. hooray for Wifi. I try to feel something. I fail.

8:12.
walking events with GM. is passed from behind by a group of three from another school. “sorry, sorry” they mutter. “it’s okay,” I say “experimental design is more important.” realizes how creepy that sounds. walks to rocks building. sees CK and RF. also MM and JC. they are very excited about live snakes.

8:22.
walking towards labs. speed limit 12. because 10 is too slow and 15 is too fast. I overshoot the lab. she’s running out of time. we’re by the gym. we find the side door. runs up 3 flights. BK’s dad leaning over the railing, concerned, on the phone. I’m a terrible chaperone. checks my lab rooms.

8:33.
leaves lab building. sees F parents and A. they’re struggling to keep the door open. it locks on its own. Mr. F holds the door, I find a big rock. problem solved.

8:47.
back at homeroom. talks with Mrs. B about helicopter transportation. parents are highkey stressed. it’ll be fine. but will it?

9:11.
lab apron, goggles, notesheet, box. forensics. it’s a beautiful day outside. an elderly couple out for a walk. what are you carrying? can I see the baby? I turn, surprised. the box with my sweater over it looks like a baby, apparently. I look old enough to have a baby, apparently.

9:24.
SW walks up. GM waits with us for her event. she goes in, we sign in. I’m out of it, and SW gears me up, which is an oddly sweet gesture?

9:35.
instructions. I hear the words but they never make it into my head. SW nudges me. you hear that? no plastics. I didn’t. I’m glad. I’m bad at plastics. we talk about the good test we have. the next table team looks over. yeah that regionals test was messed UP. we didn’t fill in half of it and we got second. they’re good. are we?

9:41.
small scoops of powders into the well plate. SW lights the bunsen burner. we have a real life legit bunsen burner. an actual bunsen burner. I am elated. I know most of what these powders are. SW does chromatography. he screws up one. it’s okay it’s okay, I reassure him.

10:02.
twenty minute call. I’m halfway through the powders. “I suggest you start the analysis” says the proctor. but I’m doing well at these powders. I keep going.

10:08.
powders are done. plastics descriptions matches notesheet, nearly word for word. brilliant. accidentally pour vial of strong base all over the counter. no time for that now. label forensic diagram. everything matches and it. is. glorious.

10:14.
start analysis. I can’t focus. five minute warning. no way can I do this in time. I write, but my focus is not there. four lines in, time is called. we’re sitting right under the proctor, so I can’t sneak a few more sentences. I’d done less than ⅕ of what was supposed to be on the analysis. the analysis is worth 30 percent of the score. “I told you” says SW. I’m sorry, I was doing powders

10:23.
gather everything, toss it back in the bin. leaves room, feeling confident but despondent. we’d been doing so well. but I missed the entire analysis. a flurry of activity distracts me for a second. SW runs off to his next event, I meet GM and CF coming out of theirs. GM needs to run too, so I take her stuff and my forensics box, and CF and I walk to the homeroom. “will your family come to get you?” I ask, wanting to avoid abduction accusations. “no, they probably don’t remember” she says. we arrive at our building. her dad is behind us, smirking. he did remember.

10:32.
“how was it?” chimes concerned parents in the homeroom. I drop the boxes where they belong. terrible, absolutely terrible. we finished about half the test. I have to talk to Mrs C. she’ll listen and calm me down. I leave.

10:36.
she must see the stricken expression on my face. “it was terrible. so, so terrible” I wail. she hugs me. “the powders went great, but I didn’t do the analysis. which is worth 30 percent. it was an awesome test, but we only answered 60 percent. it was terRIBLEEEE”
like I expected, she reassures me. “at least you got the powders. you think you got all of them?” I think I did, but I wasn’t sure. after all, my last powders test I’d only gotten a 65% on. she talks on. I listen, glad for something to fix my mind upon. she talks about growing up, having kids, change. she read my dramatic poem and she relates. we walk back to the homeroom.

10:42.
we walk to the homeroom. I internalize her words. by the time we get to the homeroom, I feel like talking. we sit and talk. about life and music and other events. normal things. I’m glad for the distraction.

11:12.
I get ready to head off. walking through the quad, see MM and lots of other people. we compare how events go. he heads back to grab some food. I continue on to the rocks building.

11:24.
arrive in front of the rocks room. there’s a group inside. I sit down on the floor outside to wait. some other students gather.

11:32.
MM joins me. we sit on the floor. I lean against him. waves of memories. the bookends of my science olympiad years. rocks and minerals.

11:35.
the proctor pokes his head out. you here for rocks? we nod. come on in, we already started. what? confused, we point at the sign. you don’t mean the 11:45 slot, do you? he’s baffled, but hides it. yes. we’ll give you extra time

11:39.
we go in, get our packet. I drop everything and we sit. MM takes over. I do basic binder work. it’s fast. easy. we got this.

11:57.
time for the stations. the pictures are terrible. not even real specimens. the rival school calls over the proctor. they point. no doubt they’re talking about us. our field guide. sure enough, he comes over. with the rules. “I’m sorry, I don’t think that’s allowed.” we’re ready for this. attached to the rings, in any form. we point, our hands bumping. oh. okay.

12:13.
I pick up a mineral. we look at each other. it is what you think it is, right? he writes it down. no words are needed. we need fifteen seconds. we get two minutes. we sit together on the floor. we don’t talk, breathing in sync. time’s up. we move, do it again.

12:24.
we’re done. that was bad, but it could have been worse. the pictures even match the pictures in our binder. we’re not sure of one. it’s not in our binder. we guess. educatedly. we don’t need the extra time. we walk out. that’s it. I drink water. he leaves, grateful for a break.

12:31.
I walk around. speed limit 12. it’s so warm. Mr. C is there. no one is clamoring for his attention. I go up to him, tell him about my day. he hears about rocks, gets all excited, whips out his phone. it’s okay. we know rocks. he calms down.

12:38.
the back gym. SW is there. so is mama. and Mrs. B. and our helicopters. I sit next to SW. we check our phones. time passes. we’re on a time crunch. I set up everything. focus, focus. I am focusing. do you want food? I thought you wanted me to focus. calm down. it’ll be okay.

12:45.
I go check in. where is KB? people start coming in. red shirts. the Fs, the Ws, the Ks. I go sign in. what team are you? I say it. one of the last times I ever will. the last time I get to fly with these people. he’s so nice.

12:52.
there he is.
KB doesn’t have blue hair? oh. we go stand in line. we’re second in line. they wind, meticulous, slow. it actually flies. they relax. it drifts up to the ceiling, floats back down. second flight. KB pokes me. electric drill, he whispers. I smirk.

1:03.
more people trickle in. the wall is lined with red shirts. I text Mrs. C. helicopters in 10 minutes. she texts right back. coming. Mrs M. is timing? people walk back and forth. I try to shield the helicopter with my body. if anyone breaks it we’re done for.

1:13.
still in line. we’re next. they fly. I’m keyed up but relaxed. KB and I stand in our own little bubble. action is all around. we’re like new parents guarding our child with our bodies and our lives. sees my especial rival. of course she’s here. she wouldn’t miss it for the world.

1:22.
our turn. I take a deep breath, unload my arms, clamp the torque meter. do we have paper towels? he shakes his head. my mind whirls. it flashes. the box top. I snatch off the lid. there it is. we wind, load. I walk to the center of the room. where? KB shrugs. it doesn’t matter. it won’t go up straight anyways. I close my eyes. this is it. five…four…three. I let go, swing my arms back. two…one. and it goes. unsteadily, but upwards. it rests on an edge. the red wall lets out a collective gasp. it’s staying up. it teeters on the edge. a swoop, it lands flat. everyone exhales.

1:28.
second flight. she catches my eye, gives me a thumbs up. I give her a thumbs up back. we wind, load. we have a good flight under our belt. this one could put us on stage, or even, on top of the stack. my last ever flight. KB counts down, loud and clear. the release. it flies, but not how we want it. it flies straight. but downwards. I look at him. I’m so sorry, KB. I’m so sorry. I didn’t check. why did I not check? it’s all my fault. how did I forget to check? I’ve never forgotten to check before. we walk out, in a daze.

1:31.
my hands are shaking. a tap on my shoulder. can I get you to sign this? I nod, numbly, scrawl an illegible version of my name. 1.33. we could have flown so much better, but also so much worse. you know where you went wrong, don’t you? of course I do. I’ll be thinking about it for years. I’ve seen lots of those, he tries to help. but it doesn’t help. we’d thought we’d be better than those. we know what we’re doing. or at least, we should.

1:39.
somehow, I find myself in front of the chem lab room. SW must have led me. I have all my stuff. we look at the comic wall. all I see is the helicopter. driving straight down. I need to shake it off, move on. I have one more chance. my last ever event. we gear up, sign in.

1:43.
we start. everything looks familiar, but I don’t know it. SW takes over. okay, so what you need to do is . . . I obey. he bends over the packet, intent. water boils. my hands are shaking.

2:13.
none of the math is checking out. I don’t even know the multiple choice. this is not going to turn out well. I start tearing up, but catch myself. not now. wait. there will be time to cry. nothing makes sense. both of us have forgotten this.

2:36.
that’s it. we did terribly, but I cling to a shred of hope. we walk back to the homeroom. I’m starving. what do we have to eat? mama pulls out a costco salad. God bless mothers. a tap on my shoulder. do you want to go outside? it’s Mrs. C. we go, stand around, talk. the boys are playing football. AH is studying for her government exam.

3:04.
RF and I sit on the bench. it faces bushes. the scenic bench. I eat my salad. it’s good. we talk. how warm. MM slams to the concrete. ouch. the peanut gallery has comments. the game resumes. we talk. stupid little things.

3:18.
everybody disappears, suddenly. Mr. C is back. MM takes a picture. the three of us on the bench. none of them turn out well.

3:21.
we file in. my last debrief. how was your day? terrible, but we all knew that already. I know I’m being hard on myself, but it’s my last tournament. I need to make it the perfect day, and it hasn’t been. none of the building events failed, which is encouraging.

3:41.
we’re done. more accurately, I’m done. dear heavenly father. a rush of tears.

3:46.
a flurry of activity. we clear out the room, load up our arms. I hand off the forensics box to Mr. C. he needs help carrying things out. I grab the box, stand there. CK swoops it out of my arms.

3:52.
we walk out. my family deserted me. team or sushi? what? team or sushi? we walk to the parking lot.

3:59.
the cool darkness of the garage. I outline the security story to RF. she laughs. her father works here now, apparently. we see SW and his dad. they’re looking for the C’s car. I find the key fob in my hand. there’s a gray van. we walk around, try the door, peer inside. the windows are dark. that’s not it. we walk. I push the panic button. the distant echo. we walk up, see the flashing lights. the C’s and the K’s are walking towards it. Mr. C is laughing. I hand him the keys.

4:04.
we find our car. daddy and D aren’t there. I don’t have service, but call him anyways. they’re coming. we load up the car, and walk.

4:08.
walking through campus, relying on memory. it really is a beautiful day. do you want to split a bowl with me? it’s P. yes, of course! where is chipotle. crossing the street. RF trips spectacularly. we see it. chipotle.

4:18.
orders food. can you order for me? sure, what do you want. I grab my bowl, join GM and other people at the tall counter. the most surprising smorgasbord of people–SW and his dad, Mrs. J and her twins, GM, AM, MM, AH, me. RF comes in with a bagel.

4:32.
they’re looking through my bullet journal. you didn’t get anything done. yes, GM, I know. you also know.

5:04.
start walking back. the campus is all uphill. it’s lovely seeing the campus without rain. what’s on campus today? some high school thing. you go here? no, I’m homeschooled. oh cool! so are we! trashcan.

5:24.
we’re sitting on the wrong side of the room. we should move. Mr. C refuses. we have all the results ready! hooray for competent administration. they’re still muddling around. I thought they were ready? the small F comes. sits next to me, shares my chair. so does P. he’s subbing for JK. he’s so excited.

5:34.
we start. we get first on our first event. a good start. next. where is AH? I run out, try to spot her. it’s her event. I hear she got fourth from behind me. she comes in. both her events finish.

5:46.
second in rocks???? how. I’m screaming. we go up in a daze. how did we mess up that badly? if rocks went that poorly, how did the rest of my events go?

5:49.
FIRST IN FORENSICS? How???

5:50.
middle school got first in rocks. how.

5:57.
we knew we were doing poorly, but this is exceptionally poorly.

6:05.
they pause. not really sure why; they said they have all the scores. this is exciting, says the small F. I used to think this was really boring, but now I understand!

6:09.
it’s KB’s events. where is he? I run out to see. his mom is pulling up. we go in. he got a ribbon. game on. helicopters. if we didn’t get first, I’m getting up and walking out. we get first.

6:42.
we got first. both teams. small school league, but still. chem lab didn’t get on the board, we’re not surprised. photos. so many photos. and hugs. we sing. to God be the glory, great things he has done.

7:04.
we start walking out to the cars. we’re all going the same way, why are we walking in different directions? I need to go to the bathroom, get water.

7:31.
start home. it’s still light out. my phone buzzes. want to stop for ice cream? we decide. I text everyone. some respond, some don’t.

8:29.
I sit there. it’s getting dark. I’m so derealized. I’m too dehydrated to actually cry, but I’m close.

8:32.
we pull in the parking lot, see red shirts. we order. the little ones go in the playground. I sit there, everyone else talking, not wanting the day to end.

9:22.
my phone buzzes. JC’s water broke, she’s having her baby! I’m so excited. we chatter more.

9:51.
some last pictures. we leave. my heart is full. that ending was perfect.

Growing Up is Overrated || My Thoughts About . . . Growing Up

i have four weeks left of high school
four more weeks with my friends, my routines, my life
four weeks until i go off into the Great Big World to seek my fortune, like stories say
i’ll get presented with a piece of paper that says i’m certified to do Life™
and i’m expected to break ties and forge new ones

it hurts.
i’ve been in the same routine for four years, maybe more
a part of me is straining at the bonds, waiting to see what will happen
the rest of me is willing time to move more slowly
willing myself to be more present, to take it all in
these last moments are to be treasured
hide them away
i need to store them as the memories come
i wish i could experience them fully
but i can’t thanks, derealization

i write but the memories fade
warped through the lens of time
what’s real and what did i think up

their lives will be the same
everyone moves up a grade
new band pieces will be chosen
new science olympiad events will be assigned
new cubbies kids will join
but i won’t be there
i’ll be with a couple thousand other kids who also don’t know what they’re doing
trapped on five square miles for four straight years

my friends will make new friends
adjust to life without me
i’m sure i’ll make friends too
but there’s no going back

back to the days in the band room
“running through” pieces “just one more time”
back to the days in the old church
looking at event pairings on the too-bright projector
back to the study days
rocks, powders, writing, talking, laughing
back to the kitchen counter
supergluing impossibly small pieces together
back to the church foyer days
waiting with bated breath to see fragile forms fly
back to the church basement
loving on kids that are much too small
back to the farm
giving presentations and eating snacks and talking about band

pexels-photo-60342.jpeg

there’s no going back
and it hurts.
tears are shed
so many tears
tears for the unknown
tears for the known
tears for the people
tears for the memories
tears for the love

it doesn’t feel like i’ve been doing the same thing for five years
but it has been
monday- science olympiad
tuesday- band
wednesday- awana
thursday- class
friday- more science olympiad
just as i was getting good at how it works
and it’s time to go.

growing up is overrated
people always talk about ‘when you go to college’ as if college is some glorious, magical place where everything is made right
i’ve spent the last four years of my life getting ready
internships, resumes, extracurriculars
standardized tests, advanced classes, opportunities
my list of accomplishments

but it doesn’t include the hours curled up on the couch with your friends
it doesn’t count the moments where it’s just you and your friends, when nothing else exists
none of these count, in the Big Picture™ of life
but those are the ones that matter

growing up is exciting
and beautiful
and challenging
but it also sucks
growing up is overrated.


P.S. a song that came to mind, not really related, but i thought i’d share