Wednesday, April 27, 2016

10 Reasons Why Country Music is Life


     Yesterday I was in Tractor Supply. Guys, I love the Tractor Supply. (It's cooler for some reason to put a the in front of it -- I don't know why, just is.) It's literally my favorite store. There are 5 reasons for this:

#1) all (or almost all) of the people who go there drive trucks, so the parking lot is full of Ford and Chevys. The people themselves are usually pretty cool too. They wear Carharts and Wranglers.
#2) the smell that hits you as soon as you walk in the doors -- cedar chips, new rubber, and whatever else it is that makes that signature Tractor Supply smell.
#3) the clothes they sell there are actually real-people-sized.
#4) they have a shelf in the back with old TV westerns like Bonanza and Gunsmoke.
#5) they play COUNTRY MUSIC.

     Which I love.

    When you tell people you love country music, there are a variety of reactions you get. They either #1) love it too! Oh my goodness! New best friend! Do you like Brad Paisley? or #2) okaaaaay.....that's nice. I never got into it much myself or #3) are you serious? You actually like all that hillbilly stuff? or #4) that stuff is trash. You are a sinner. Goodbye, our relationship is over.

     Now, there is a common misconception among most people that country music is all about trucks, girls, tractors, and beer. This is not true. 

     Well....okay, maybe it's sort of true. 

     Yes, there are a lot of songs about trucks. About 99.9 % of all country songs are love songs of some sort. There's a handful about tractors. Alright, and most of them have reference to ice-cold beer. BUT. That is not all country music is about.

     Country music is one of my favorite things in the world. Musical theatre and Irish ballads are all good, and I love them dearly, but my first and dearest love is country music. It's sort of my life. ;-P There's something about it that resonates with my heart and soul; it's real, it's life. And I am here to tell you that despite what you may have heard, country music is NOT just about trucks and girls and beer. It's so much more. It's about life.

     Ten Reasons Why Country Music is Awesome

 :

    #1) They're songs about me and who I am. In my case, at least, country music is close to home. These are songs about things I know and care about -- family, farming, God. (Yes, God. There are a lot of country songs about God. A lot of country singers are, in fact, Christians. Ha! The scales are falling away from your eyes!) I like listening to Kenny Chesney sing about his tractor, because I happen to think tractors are awesome. I like songs about dirt and international harvester combines and bonfires and rodeos because that's my life. 

  #2) Country singers are real folks. They're genuine. They're like rockstars, only it's like it's your next-door neighbor dressed up as a rockstar. You know that person, and they're really nice. Not to imply that all pop singers have no humility, and I'm not saying this is without exception, but country singers seem to focus on the important things in life, especially family. People like Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood, and Kenny Chesney are the salt of the earth. I'm being serious. ;-)

 #3) Country singers are actually good musicians, they don't just tweak all their recordings to sound good. So many pop singers I listen to and I think, "They don't even sound good. This is not music." If you've ever been to the Grand Ol' Opry (or, like me, watch Youtube videos while you're doing algebra at the dining room table) you know these folks are talented. How about Carrie Underwood? She could sing the stars down from the sky. I've heard Sara Evans live and I could hardly believe how amazing she is. And if you've never heard Randy Houser sing, well -- just go listen to this. That's how country feels.

 #4) Country music is about pride. It's a distinctly American music, and it's all ours. Country singers are proud to be American, and they love to sing about it. They love to sing about humble beginnings and hard work. They're Made in America. They belong to the drinking class.

  #5) Country music isn't afraid to laugh at itself. Let's face it, some country songs are just stupid. I should be able to get an amen to that one. But the stupid ones know they're stupid and they're okay with it; they play it up and make it funny. Like this one -- I heard that song just about every day in the barn last summer and would groan every single time because it's just so stupid, but when my cousin showed me the music video I had to laugh because it's hilarious. They're just having harmless fun.

     ...However, there should be some kind of limit to how stupid you want to go. The stupidest country song ever written is called "I Got a Brand New Girlfriend" and I can't even stand to listen to it, it's so absurd. There's a very fine line between what's funny and what's downright embarrassing, and I guess Steve Holy didn't see it.

 #6) Country music is EMOTIONAL. IT IS. For every situation you encounter in life, there's probably a country song that sums it up pretty perfectly. You might think country songs are all about break-ups -- wrong. Country songs are about broken families, growing up, leaving home, losing loved ones, saying goodbye, and learning to love. The pain is real, guys.

     Emma's List of Top Five Most Emotional Country Songs

     Tonight I Wanna Cry by Keith Urban (ACTUALLY DON'T EVEN LISTEN TO THIS ONE)
     Stay by Sugarland (DON'T LISTEN TO THIS ONE EITHER IT'S TOO SAAAD)


 #7) Country singers have the coolest twangy accents. Because they're all from places like South Carolina and Alabama and Tennessee. (This is one of the reasons why I can't be a country singer, sadly. You can't be a country singer when you're born in New York. Just doesn't work.) I understand if twang isn't really your thing -- truly I do. (Well...I'm trying.) But in my own biased opinion it's much more fun to hear Miranda Lambert say "agin" instead of any normal person saying "again".

 #8) Country singers wear cowboy hats. 

Brad Paisley:

     No explanation necessary.

  #9) It really is romantic, you've got to admit. For all the stupid cliche love songs there are out there...man, a lot of them really are good. ;-) Country music is very gender-specific, in case you didn't know. (No really? Do tell.) The men wear cowboy hats and jeans and drive trucks and drink testosterone for breakfast. The girls have long hair and bare feet and wear denim skirts. (Speaking of which, I just bought one yesterday at The Tractor Supply.) The bad thing about this is that it can sometimes make you feel like you need a cowboy to ride the dirt roads with. The good thing about it is that it gives you hope that you'll find a cowboy to ride the dirt roads with. :-) I'll admit it -- I'm a girl, and I like romance. (Well, sometimes I hate romance. Heh.) I'm an incurable dreamer, and I like cowboys. So of course I like to listen to songs about cowboys and angels.


 #10) Country music is really fun. You're in your truck driving home in the dusk, you turn on the radio and Jake Owen's singing his heart out about young love. It's fun. It makes you grin and want to roll the windows down and stick your head out and let your hair fly all over the place. It makes you glad to be alive. At least, that's what I think.

 Country Music

Country music is about life, and life is about country music. Amen?

(P.S. I realize I only said good things in this post. There are a lot of country songs that I don't like, and some of it is kind of trashy, but so it is with everything -- there's good and there's bad. I like to dwell on the good.) :-)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Awk & Awe // colleges, cookies and Cary Grant



     Howdy friends! Would you like to guess what I am today? Let me  give you a picture of where I am right now, and maybe you'll be able to guess. Right -- I'm sitting on the living room couch, propped up against a pillow, a lethargic cat at my feet, empty teacups and piles of random books scattered around me, listening to Hunter Hayes songs off youtube. What do you think this means?

    That's right. I'm sick.

    Not terribly sick, so don't worry -- I haven't got the ague or the pleurisy or the scarlet fever or typhoid or anything. Just the usual sore throat that likes to come around and pay me a visit every now and then. The only way I can think to describe it is that I have a sandbox in my throat. I am confident it will pass in a few days...in the meantime, the only thing to do in these situations is read books, drink tea, watch Cary Grant movies, waste time on pinterest and listen to Hunter Hayes. (As you can see, I have a very mature attitude about the whole thing.)

     Since I have so much time on my hands (yeah, forget about the two science papers to finish up and the bunny cages to clean), I made the executive decision that a blog post would be a good thing to do. Basically the only thing I'm good for at the moment is writing (and being sarcastic), so here you are. Read on if you want to hear about the awkwards and awesomes of the past week (which may or may not include a special feature on How Johnse Hatfield Ruined Emma's Life).

    Let's start with...

     //The Awkward// 

     ~ Trying not to laugh during a concert. You know when those little bits of hilarity pop into your head at random moments and you just have to laugh, but you can't, because it would be soooooo inappropriate? Yeah. I'm convinced that holding in laughter in public places is the most difficult olympic feat ever.

     ~ When you find a bat in your grandma's house! We threw a bowl over it, got it captured...um...now what? *picks up phone* "Daddy?"

     ~ Driving around places when really, you know you're sick and you should be in bed. That was interesting. My sister Sadie is about the only person I know who can make me still laugh that much when I'm feeling so horrible.

    ~ So, maybe I should explain -- last week I finally watched The Hatfields & McCoys, that miniseries that was on the History channel four years ago and which I've been wanting to watch for nearly that long. Anyway, I WATCHED IT and it WAS AMAZING. (I can't recommend it, at least not without a huuuuuuge cautionary warning because there is a lot of offensive language and violence and shooting and nasty stuff, but beyond that....wow.) So now I'm in the aftershock of having just finished such a monumental piece of cinematic glory, which includes trying to explain to people how Johnse Hatfield is the cause of so much sorrow, which...doesn't....go....well. (BUT I CAN'T HELP IT.) *starts sobbing*

Devil Anse and Johnse Hatfield:
BASICALLY KEVIN COSTNER IS A GENIUS AND JOHNSE IS SO PATHETIC I HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO MOON OVER HIM. IT'S PART OF MY DNA TO MOON OVER PATHETIC CHARACTERS.     

     Would you like to know just how Johnse Hatfield ruined my life? First, he did it by being unbelievably sweet. (We're not even going to talk about how handsome he is because that doesn't signify. IT DOESN'T.) Then he made it worse by acting like a complete idiot. Then he made it even worse by being so awfully pathetic, and coming to see Roseanna, and getting himself almost killed, and being downright stupid, and going to her grave!!!! and being so alternately wonderful and horrible that the only thing for me to do was just let my heart break clean in two. And then he moved to Oregon and married four more times. It is all Johnse's fault.

     I'm serious, if you've seen this series, please tell me, because I am in need of someone to cry with.


     ~ When you answer the phone when you're sick, and you sound like a ten-pack-a-day smoker...I feel like I need to explain myself.

     ~ Oh, here's the worst: trying to park in the little itty-bitty parking lot at ballet. THIS IS ZEE WORST, MY FRIENDS. Me parking at ballet is like trying to land a giant aircraft in a tiny backyard. I have never seen anything worse than me trying to park at ballet.

     ~ Speaking of how bad a driver I am, how about nearly running through a stop sign...heh. No, it's really not funny. I don't know why I'm telling you this.

     ~ Climbing a tree, then breaking a few limbs (the tree's, not mine) and realizing, Emma's probably too old to be climbing trees. (No! I will not accept this! I will fight the entail! *ahem*)

    ~ Looking for a quiet place outside to write while at the same time trying to avoid your neighbor on his lawnmower. I could go out there any day of the week and he'd be mowing his lawn. (Why am I on someone else's property in the first place, you ask? Good question...)

     ~ Crying over Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy. *starts sobbing all over again*

     ~ When your mother makes cookies, and you can't eat them because you're sick...that's tragedy, right there.

     ~ So, this afternoon as I was moaning in agony I decided it would be a good time to look into colleges I might want to go to. (Please don't ask me about my thought processes. I don't even know.) I really want to go to school in Virginia (for various reasons) so I was looking at schools in Virginia....and it didn't take long for me to get thoroughly intimidated. These colleges are all so BIG and IMPORTANT and SMART. What am I thinking???

 :

     Today is not the day to be thinking about college, I decided. Today is the day to be listening to Hunter Hayes and watching Cary Grant movies, that's what today is.


   //Awesome//

     ~ Planting peas!!!! :-)

     ~ Driving around with Sadie, listening to Josh Turner practically on replay and laughing over basically everything. Because everything's funny, you know?

     ~ Long emails from friends, old and new

    ~ Cary Grant. I'm on a Cary Grant kick right now. Yesterday I watched Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House and just this afternoon my mum comes home from the library with a whole stack of Cary Grant movies. (SHE KNOWS ME TOO WELL.) If you're feeling lousy, just watch a Cary Grant movie and I guarantee you will feel at least a little bit better. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Cary Grant's face can make even the lousiest of days better.

Cary Grant - just look at that face...
I LOVE HIM.

     ~ Listening to the birds chirping and thinking, how lovely it is that the same birds come back year after year and sing to us. :-)

    ~ WATCHING THE HATFIELDS & MCCOYS AND BEING EMOTIONALLY BEREFT FOR EVER AFTER.

    ~ Being able to run around barefoot at last!!

     ~ Heated arguments between me and my cat. I mostly do the talking; Oliver just stares at me with that smug expression of his.

     ~ Finding new blogs and new friends! My list is getting longer and longer...but I guess that's a good problem to have? *cue Josh Turner song*

     ~ Reading more than the assignment in the history book, because OH HEY I'M ACTUALLY INTERESTED IN THIS STUFF.

    ~ Reading over old notes and snippets of my first novel and falling in love with the characters all over again. This one needs to happen. Soon. I can write dozens of books, but my life will not be complete until I finish this one.

    ~ Long car rides = lots of writing inspiration. :-)

    ~ When Sadie makes peppermint ice cream!

     ~ That feeling of divine freedom that comes with the arrival of spring

    ~ Dreaming of publishing a book...

    ~ Eating ice cream bars at my cousin's house, then driving home and imagining with Sadie all the horrible things the police could do to me for driving "after hours". We came up with some pretty crazy stuff. I don't think they actually torture you, but you never know...

     ~ I LOVE HUNTER HAYES. A lot. He's amazing. Don't believe me, just listen to this.

   ~ Walking through the darkened halls of a school and smiling at the pictures of Disney characters painted on the walls and thinking, Hm. Maybe there are nice things about public school after all, such as passing Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys ever day on your way to class.

    ~ Creekwalking with book and pen in hand.

    ~ Laughing over this pin:

This is the funniest thing I have seen in recent memory, and I DON'T EVEN GET IT. How do you figure that?!?!?:

....and I don't even know what it means!! If you know what 'decepticons' means, please tell me.

   

     No doubt you've noticed the new look! This is another product of my boredom and inability to make myself useful in other facets. When I'm bored, I have a psychic bent toward making new blog headers. I loved the old one, but...I like this one better. ;-) What do y'all think?

     The picture is Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza in Poldark. Which, by the way, I have here at my house. Which, by the way, I have not started yet because of several reasons, 1) Hatfields and McCoys 2) busyness and 3) I don't like to watch really really awesome things when I'm sick unless I've seen said really really awesome thing before. Thus Poldark waits for the moment. But SOON!

     That's about all I got. I'd better go make myself another cup of strong tea and try to doctor myself up if I have any hope of improvement by the morrow.


What do you do when you're sick?
Do you enjoy crying over fictional characters?
Have you seen any Cary Grant movies?
Do you like Hunter Hayes too? (If so, you wanna start a fanclub with me?)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Reluctant Duchess // Review

 24105713

by Roseanna M. White

     First of all, I have no desire to pick this book apart. This is a nice book. It's probably a very good book. When I say I didn't care for it, I'm not saying anything against it at all. There is nothing wrong with this lovely wee book.

     I just...didna like it.

     The reason for this? Well, there was nothing about it that grabbed my interest. The characters did not demand I pay attention to them.They didn't reach into my soul and say, look at us! Don't you want to know what happens to us? The thing is, I could kind of guess what would happen. It wasn't a highly interesting storyline, and since the writing didn't strike me as particularly great I would just as soon let this one go. 

     However -- this review has a however -- a lot of bloggers/writers I admire have given this one glowing reviews, so even though I had to be the Johnny-rain-cloud and say I didn't like it, don't let that stop you! You might read it and love it. :-)

My rating: 5 1/2 out of 10

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Happy Writer



     Yesterday evening it was so golden and glorious outside and I was feeling so wonderfully restless that I had to do something, so I decided to take a bike ride. Last spring was when I developed my typical bike trail, and in those months of May and June I must have ridden it dozens of times, but I hadn't yet this spring. There is a beautiful freedom in riding your bike down cozy neighborhood roads, without a helmet (yes, I live in the country -- if the road don't have lines on it, ain't wearing no helmet), feeling like you can go anywhere in the world even if you're just a few miles from your house.

     (Oh yes...on this bike ride, it occurred to me that I haven't yet given my trusty bike, whom I have had for over a year now, a name. I thought about it for about five seconds and decided to call him Branson. It seems fitting, since my bike is my form of transportation. ANYWAY, there's your random bit of useless Emma-trivia for the day.)

     While I sped along on the peaceful city roads, and then out into the more rural countryside, I thought about things.

     I just finished my first whole novel a few days ago, and it left me so exhausted and my heart so full I almost didn't know how to respond. I typed the last few words -- "This is June" -- stared at the screen, wanted to burst into tears, and then went and made brownies. Then I emailed my best friend in all caps, wrote down my feelings as best I could put them in my journal, and sort of wandered around in a stupor wondering what normal authors do when they finish their books.

     ...That makes it sound like I wasn't happy. ;-P Oh, I was happy! Very, very happy. But I think I was so happy I didn't know how to be that happy. Even though I've been dreaming about finishing a book for years, to have it actually happen was catastrophic. Suddenly it's not a dream anymore...it's REAL.

     So now, a few days later, I've calmed down a little and can be rationally pleased with myself. ;-) (Just kidding, I still have those ohmygoodness is this for real?! moments.) I really feel like a writer now. I feel legitimate. I feel accomplished. I feel...incredibly blessed.

     And finishing June Darling made me realize something. I'd heard Larry McMurtry say this before, but I doubted I'd ever feel the same way. Well, turns out, I do. Because here's what finishing a novel taught me:

     The finishing isn't the best part. It's the writing of it that's the best part.



     Honestly, finishing up something I've been working on is AWESOME IN THE FIRST DEGREE, but it's not any more awesome than that first spark of an idea, or all those afternoons pounding out chapter after chapter, or all those possible plot twists rolling around in my head to choose from. Finishing isn't everything. Everything is everything. The whole journey. From the first to the last, and especially all that comes in between. Finishing even has a bittersweet note, for me, because I've loved my characters so much for so long that I'm going to miss spending time with them. :-( (Oh right, but now I get to edit! YAY. *fist pump*)

     Once I realized this, it made me really happy.

     My favorite thing about being a writer? It's not sitting in front of a computer screen typing words like mad. It's not scribbling notes with a dull pencil late at night, or naming characters, or even killing off characters. (Actually I didn't kill anyone in June Darling -- unbelievable.) No, my favorite thing about being a writer is this: the possibilities.

     You write a book -- YAY. Now you can write another one. There are always more stories to tell, always new ideas to plot, always new characters to create. The journey never ends.

     That makes me a happy writer. :-)

     As I was riding my bike, I let my mind run free. I passed houses and wondered about the people who live there, and what stories they might have to tell. I heard noisy truck engines coming down long wooded driveways and it made me grin. I listened to the peepers rejoicing from muddy ditches (man, they were loud last night!) and imagined some of my characters a hundred years ago hearing the same thing of a spring evening. I watched the sun sink in the west. I ate up every sound, every flash of sunlight, and let it sink into my soul. I vowed to write really good stories that will sink into other people's souls and make them happy.



     I'm glad I finished June Darling. I'm also glad for the many many pages of drafts and notes stuffed in torn folders that are hanging around my desk -- old stories I've abandoned, and many just waiting for me to look their way again. I'm glad for the possibilities. (Especially those of a Certain Novel which has been dogging me for almost two years and is at this very moment calling me audibly...) I'm glad that no matter how many literary battlefields I conquer, there will always be others waiting for me.

    Basically, I love being a writer. ;-)



     P.S. Thank you all SO MUCH for all your comments on my last post!!! Seriously, it means SO much to me. The fact that you are all so excited for me is overwhelming, not to mention the fact that people actually want to read my book!!! You're all amazing and I love you.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

"Meet my girl. This is June."

 :

{The story of my novel in journal entries}

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     June {it was actually January, but I wrote June!!} 21

     So, June Darling! It's coming along swimmingly. Not fast, I didn't say that -- swimmingly.
     
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     JANUARY 27

     Oliver is my writing buddy. It's great because all he does is lie there and sleep.

     Poor June. Nothing's going right for her. Maybe that's why she's such fun to write -- in June, I can express all my own personal awkwardness in a breezy, funny, but still heartfelt way.

    Maybe that's what writing is.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     January 28

     I got the writing bug last night. It came on me all of a sudden, like a rushing tide coming to a head. I could have gotten up and done something about it, but it was almost midnight and I was tired and didn't want to stay up (therefore I suppose I must be a terrible writer, unable to act on impulse.) BUT I knew it would still be there in the morning when I woke up -- and it was. I have allllll day to fulfill my dreams. :-)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     February 6

     June is now in Cotton Valley experiencing her first-ever redneck bingo tournament. But what happens next? Will Aunt Viola win the jackpot? If she does, what will she spend it on? Hey, that could be a good premise -- Aunt Viola wins a ton of money and decides what to do with it. And then a movie-making team can come through town while shooting a movie, and one of the camera men will take June out on a date. (She's seventeen, I think Aunt Viola will let her go.)
     But what about Hudson? We still haven't figured out what he's up to. All I know is it's something slightly shady, but ultimately for someone's good. Hudson is trying to help someone.
     But who? How? Why?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Aunt Viola's window:

     February 10

     It's a strange plot, yes. But it's a strange town.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     February 14

     Things are dragging a little bit. June is getting tired. We need to get her excited again.
     Mr. Sweeney tells them of his plan -- "Think on it, will you?" -- and they go home. June takes a bath, and at the same time Levi Buford shows up with a catch of fish for Miss Viola. (OH NO! Is he a fly fisherman? Dang it, now he's gonna have to look like Brad Pitt. I wanted him to look like {insert name of person I know who I don't want to name on this blog}). 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     February 21

     In the bleak midwinter, because midwinter can be BLEAK.
     ....but it's summer in Louisiana! That's what I love about writing - you always have two lives going. If you don't like one, you can jump into the other one.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     March 11

     You know those moments of divine inspiration, where you get a flash of an idea and then all of a sudden everything comes rushing to you all at once, and you know exactly what you're going to write, just like that, almost as if God himself was sprinkling those little nuggets of golden inspiration upon your heart?!
     Yeah. I live for those moments.
     I really do. They are the reason I'm still a writer. They are also the reason I'm writing this so fast, because I can't wait to get to my writing notebook and flesh out the plan. I know where Hudson and June are going now -- it's all going to happen. GOLLY PETE THIS IS EXCITING!!! Now I can't wait for tomorrow -- I can't wait for the next instant -- the next moment to write. This is my jam. This is what I'm meant to be doing.

     
     ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     March 16

     Maybe June Darling is unlikely. Maybe it's even unbelievable. But I'm this far into it, I don't reckon I can stop now.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     March 21

     No Cary Grant. He's too suave. It's James Cagney. James Cagney is much more normal-person.

 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     March 24

     Who was the person who said the thing about writing being like sitting down and banging your head against the keyboard?
     They were right.
     MAAAAAAAN. For the past few days it's just been like trying to eat peas with a fork.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     April 1

     I finished my novel today! Just kidding.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

James Cagney & Loretta Young
Then I found this gif and thus, Hudson has a face.


     April 2

     So....where to begin with the ending?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     April 8

     ....today it's snowing again. But I don't seem to mind a whole lot, actually. It is gorgeous. And today I feel like staying in and delving into June Darling. Which oh by the way IS LITERALLY ALMOST DONE. I mean, SO close. So close I can taste the victory. So close I'm actually kinda scared to finish it. Because I don't want to say goodbye -- I love them all. I've loved being with them, and I don't want it all to end. Gosh, I never thought I'd say that.

     Here are some things I will always remember about writing June Darling:
  • the October Sky soundtrack! That stuff is gold.
  • the Field of Dreams soundtrack, for the baseball bits ;-P
  • frenzied notes in Naomi's heart notebook
  • A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
  • writing evenings with Brett and Ashton
  • the Perfect Pairs book from Rachel -- my main source of research, haha
  • googling weird things like 'when was bingo invented'
  • taking writing breaks to read Melissa Tagg's blog
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     April 13 // a great day -- an AMAZING day.

     I think I may have just finished my first novel.

     *gasps for air*

     No, it's true. I just did. I finished my first novel. I wrote a BOOK! A real, honest-to-goodness novel, and it's 238 pages long, and it's silly and unrefined and probably ridden with mistakes, but I wrote it and it is mine. I and I absolutely love it to death.

     Four months, a hundred hours, six Google documents, lots and lots of October Sky soundtrack, many long afternoons of blessed seclusion with just me and my characters, many prayers, many chats with Naomi, many long brain-scouring sessions while folding laundry, and now I've written a book.

     I HAVE WRITTEN A BLOOMING BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     .:


// June Darling //
a novel

Emma Jane Anderson

"Truth is stranger than fiction."
~ Cary Grant, My Favorite Wife


{Edit: Someone *ahem* asked if I had prettied these journal entries up for this post, because they sounded too pretty to be original. Well, they are -- I didn't pretty them up. These is the originals.} ;-)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

// Weddings, Teenage Emotions & How Josh Turner is a Messenger From God //





  {I'm going to be honest here. This is heart-to-heart time with Emma. I don't do this a lot. But last night I was overflowing with so many emotions, and I needed to write. This is what happened.}


 :

     I didn't used to think I was an emotional person. I used to think I was strong; I had a will of iron that nothing could bend. I'd never need anything from anybody because I was so self-efficient. In fact, it is my belief that I was perfectly emotionally stable for the first sixteen years of my life. Then I turned sixteen...and just like that, I'm a wreck.

    Okay, okay, it probably wasn't that sudden. These things don't happen overnight. But I've definitely changed in the past few years. Suddenly I feel things differently. I'm more sensitive to what other people think of me. I actually care. And that kind of scares me, because I never used to this much.

    All this just proves my point that growing up is very hard. Isn't it? It is for me. Yes, it has its perks, of course, like being able to drive myself places and listen to the Hamilton musical without worrying how it's going to affect my brain. (Or...maybe I should be concerned. But that's a topic for another time. ;-P) Some days, being seventeen is AWESOME.

     Other days...completely lousy.

     I went to a wedding yesterday. A very nice wedding -- a lovely wedding, really. A friend of ours and her charming now-husband. All of it was beautiful -- the service (even though outside the little church was as cold as the arctic, as New York hasn't seemed to catch on that it's APRIL HELLO), the music, the people. I was happy for the couple, truly. And even though I didn't know a whole lot of the people there, I was trying to be sociable. Well, trying to try. (I'm an introvert and weddings ain't exactly my favorite thing to be caught in the middle of, but more on that later.) There was absolutely no reason for me not to be enjoying myself.

     And yet, sitting there at the reception afterwards, with the lights twinkling across the ceiling and people chattering all around me, I felt out of place. I felt drawn within myself, and utterly alone.

     Daniel Casson.:

Cut for a second...

     Can we just take a moment to talk about the plight of introverts in a world full of people?

     I'm an introvert. (Hello.) Yes, you've heard about me. I'm that person who would rather crawl into a hammock with a book than be at a party surrounded by people. I'm that person who doesn't know what to say in social situations where I actually have to talk to people. I'm that person who gets excited when plans are cancelled, who tries to get out of social functions as much as possible, who spends most of her time relatively alone and is more than okay with that.

    I've always been this way, I think, though it didn't used to be a problem when I was younger. because Nobody thinks anything of a toddler who suddenly burst out crying in public. That's what little kids do. But now I'm seventeen, and you expect a seventeen-year-old to be socially adept. You expect a seventeen-year-old to have friends, to be a social butterfly, to love hanging out with people, to have a full social calendar. Well, I don't. This used to be fine with me. But these days...these days I'm running into mountains that are getting harder and harder to climb.

     It's one thing to be introverted; it's quite another to be uncomfortable with it. Used to be, I was shy and reserved and okay with it. But lately, more and more, I feel awkward in my own skin. I feel like I need to get out of it; like I have to get over my shyness and pull myself up by my bootstraps and just DO THIS because it's stupid to be so introverted all the time. I don't want to be like this. I want to be different. The problem is...I can't.


     It wouldn't be so hard be if people understood, but they don't. They don't get what it's like to feel so suffocated in a room full of people that you feel about to burst into tears. They don't see why you wouldn't want to go to that party, or why you can't just be outgoing for once, or how scary it is to have to speak to people you don't really know. They say, why can't you do this, Emma? Why can't you just be normal, for once?

     Okay, some people sympathize. (And if you're an introvert too, let me just give you a big hug. I feel you.) But the truth is, we're a rare breed -- we're few and far between. People don't get us; some days, we don't get ourselves.

     Yesterday, at the wedding, I didn't get myself.

     As I stared at the ceiling, ears buzzing, a thousand voices railed inside my head. What's wrong with you, Emma? Can't you get out there and make some friends? Why do you always have to be like this? What are you afraid of?

     Because the truth is, I am afraid. I'm afraid of what people think. (There, I said it.) I don't want to be this way, but it's the way I am and I'm still looking for a way to get over it. I'm afraid of losing people -- I have had so many friendships that flourished for a season, or a day, or even just a few hours, that meant so much to me while they lasted but then fizzled out after we said goodbye. See, I'm afraid of being forgotten -- I still care, but they don't.

     I don't want to be forgotten.

I long to be remembered.

      :

     It's very hard to be remembered when you don't know quite how to make yourself known.

     Now, calm down Emma. Just because you're stuck with this personality quirk or whatever you want to call it doesn't mean you're doomed to a life alone. Of course not. I have friends. I have the best friends in the world, in fact. And even though in the grand scheme of things, the amount of people who care whether I live or die isn't worth sneezing at, that's not what matters. What matters is that in the grand scheme of things, the one Being who cares the most is the One who holds me in his embrace every day. And He won't forget me, even if that five-year-old boy, who stole my heart one night with his sweet little smile, does.

     So I won't dwell on the forgetting -- I'll dwell on the remembering. Because even an introvert can have good times, and I really have had a lot of 'em. The good times can't be taken away. I'll always have those, because even if everyone else forgets, as long as I remember, they won't really be gone.


there:

And also...maybe it's just the prerogative of a seventeen-year-old girl to feel Wanted. I'm not different than the next girl in that respect. I want to feel wanted (and not just by Hunter Hayes). It's an empty feeling not to be wanted by anyone. Especially when you really want them to notice you -- to be your friend -- to look your way -- to remember you.


     So yesterday evening, after the wedding, I had to go perform in something at church. After that was done I drove home, taking comfort in the softness of the darkness, the feel of the steering wheel, of finally being all alone after a day of 'peopling'. I was listening to my new Josh Turner CD, but I kept flipping back and forth between the CD and the country station on the radio because, you know, Cole Swindell's You Should Be Here could come on any minute and I didn't want to miss that. So I was doing that, waiting for the stupid ads to end and more music to come on, but the ads just kept going so I just pushed CD again and let the next song come on. The next song, which happened to be Josh Turner's I Was There.



I'm always around
I was then and I am now
And I'll be here when tomorrow comes
When your road comes to an end
I'm where you start again
I'm never farther than a word away
You'll always have a friend


     You want to know something? Josh Turner is a messenger from God.

    This is what God was telling me. I'll be here when tomorrow comes. Even when others leave, He stays. You've always got a friend. He wants to be my friend; I don't have to worry about him not wanting me around, or wishing I'd go away. He wants me. I am wanted.

     So, as I listened to that song, I did the logical thing and started crying.

     (Actually, I started sobbing.)

     Because it helped. It helped to hear Josh Turner sing those words, it helped to feel God's love wash over me, and it helped to pour out all the sadness that had piled up inside me by just letting myself go for a moment. And it helped that it was dark, because there's just something about darkness that makes it easier to let things out.

     After that, I felt better. I felt loved. I remembered.

Coming home

     I don't know if I'll ever get over my introverted-ness. (Probably not, heh.) But I hope I'll learn to be okay with that part of myself, because maybe if I can do that, I'll be able to overcome it. I know I'll never be a social butterfly, and I'll never be one of those girls who flocks people to them and makes friends everywhere she goes.

    But that doesn't really matter. It hurts sometimes, but it doesn't really matter. I'm me, and I'll be okay, because I do have friends, and I have a Friend who will never forget me.

:-)

{Wow, I actually hit publish! Tell you the truth, I didn't think we'd make it. ;-P}

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Story of Archie Kennedy

{In case you don't know this, April 3rd has for the past few years been proclaimed Archie Kennedy Day by yours truly, because of the significance of the fact that April 3rd is actor Jamie Bamber's birthday. And because we needed a day to gush about Archie, didn't we?}



     Once upon a time I fell in love with a fictional character.

     It was years ago now, but I still remember. I still remember when my mom brought the Horatio Hornblower movies home from the library for the first time -- those four DVD cases bound together by a rubber band that spent so much time in our house over the next four years. At first I wasn't interested; at first I thought the whole series was boring. But I was twelve, you see, and twelve-year-olds are often immature idiots. And these things take time. They can't happen all at once.

     It must have been halfway through the first viewing of the series that I gave up being stubborn and decided to watch the movies along with my Mama and my sister Sadie (who, being younger than me but ever so much smarter, was already head-over-heels with the show and everyone in it). It must have been somewhere in that time that I decided Archie Kennedy was my favorite. And it must have been soon after that when I decided I loved him.

     All of a sudden, Archie Kennedy became my first fictional love. I reveled in his every line, I simultaneously swooned and cried over him. I dedicated the patch of violets on the creek bank in the woods to him. I wrote letters to him in my journal. (I still do, actually. Is that weird?) I dreamed about him as only a young girl can dream about a fictional character -- wishing desperately that he was real, while at the same time enjoying the fact that he was made-up, because that meant I was free to dream of him always, and I could have him, and he was mine.


      I'm not really sure why I picked Archie -- I mean, Horatio is obviously the hero of the Hornblower movies. Horatio is the one who does all the wildly heroic things; he's the one who wins battles, gains respect and admiration from everyone, and instills fluttery feelings in the heart of every female who's ever watched those movies. (I mean seriously. If you haven't experienced such, you obviously have some issues.) But it was Archie who stole my heart from the beginning -- it was Archie who made me feel compassionate for him and admiring of him at the same time. And it was him who made me cry. (I have a thing for characters who make me cry.)

     So one spring, when I was fourteen, I wrote this little note in the back of my notebook:

     I will find Archie someday, somewhere out there.

       ~Emma April 24th, 2013

     Post-script: If I don't, I shall die an old maid.

     That was my story, and I was determined to stick to it. Now, I'm seventeen, and after all the dreams, all the letters, all the silly girlish fantasies -- and watching the Hornblower movies about seven times -- I still hold out hope. I'll find Archie, someday.

     In the meantime, I can still swoon over him, because that is the prerogative of a seventeen-year-old girl.



"That's enough, Mr. Kennedy."







"Almost feels like home."



"Sir, Randall! You call him sir!"



"Twenty yards short! The sea boils, Mr. Bush!"



"He has the captain's ear! Why did he not speak when he had the chance?"



"What are you suggesting, Mr. Wellard?"









"FIIIIIIRE!"


"I alone did it. I alone pushed Captain Sawyer into the hold."



"And when they ask you, did you push Captain Sawyer into the hold?"
"Are you asking me that question now?"
"I am not."
"Then I will answer it when the time comes. Until then I see no reason to speculate."





   "Nations need heroes, Mr. Hornblower. Heroes make us believe that the impossible is achievable."
"Only if one knows their name. Mr. Kennedy--"
"Mr. Kennedy took a calculated risk when he pushed Captain Sawyer down the hold, for the good of the ship and, in all likelihood, was right to do so."
"You think Mr. Kennedy was telling the truth?"
"I think Mr. Kennedy was a man of great loyalty, sir. He saw his duty and did it."
"And went to his grave without the merit of his good name."
"But you and I will not forget it."



      Happy birthday, Archie.
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