Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ring in the New Year

I remember many things, however I could not begin to tell stories of what I did last year on New Year's Eve. I suppose when one toasts to pushing "those days" behind them, such a desire can really come true. When my younger brother and I were little, my mother would give us confetti, and when the New York/Atlanta countdown had come to a close, we would toss it in the air. We did so in the comfort of our home. There were no big parties. We were not left alone with a babysitter as our parents went out and drunk themselves into some great celebratory stupor. It was just two children having fun throwing small pieces of paper in the air my mother ignorantly purchased when we could have made them for ourselves, and then watching as the same mother would spend a good hour vacuuming up the mess.

Sentimentality is not the point of this post. I am not going to say we have not done such things since, as if to add some sort of unintentional, emotional appeal. The truth is, once my brother and I got older, and my mother got wiser, we stopped doing much of anything. The lack of New Year's spirit was bound to infect our household. Not to mention, having my father home for that particular holiday is usually a losing bet--which is okay, as I have said, the New Year's celebrations are not something for which my heart longs. It is impossible to miss something never previously experienced.

However, I can say, without hesitation, this year has left me feeling more alone and more loved than I ever conceived. I have felt love's poignant sting. I have loved those I should not. I have pushed away those I should love. I have made new friends. I have lost old friends. Had reality hit me harder and learned the true meaning of "loyalty"--in that the word is an empty way to place blame on another. The human relationship is a fragile and confusing thing. Most of the psychological definition is utter nonsense and only filled with words to bolster the reputation of the psychologist reciting them, but what one should keep in mind is we need people in our lives. No matter what in life has cleverly convinced a person otherwise, we all need someone; if nothing else, a friend. I have found the ones I need and I am carrying them with me into another year.

December 31, 2009, I did actually celebrate--I gathered with a few of my closest friends. I can still hear the booming of voices and laughter at various decibels nearly shattering my ear drums. However, the clinking of glass only made me wince the first few times. Drowning all sorrows, failures, satisfactions and victories in sparkling cider, I sat with my friends and talked about nothing for what seemed like forever. I did not need a New Year's kiss. I did not need a hard drink. I just needed someone with me to bring in the New Year. I will always remember the stupid things I have done and the stupid things I will do. I will always remember the horrible things said to me, even if I have forgiven the owners of such forked tongues. I will remember everything I wish to forget. Luckily, I have some fond memories still lingering in my mind, and I hope this is one of the nights that stay with me.

And while resolutions, like rules, are made to be broken, I plan on keeping mine. Unlike some, I do not have a long list of things I want to accomplish before 2010 comes to a close. Two reasons: (1) I am out of paper on which to write such delusions, and (2) I do not have enough erasers for when my list fails to come true and I have to vigorously peel away thoughts of what could be accomplished in the future. Instead, I have made everything simpler with one idea: get things done. Anything I want can be easily achieved if I just put my mind to it. I will not be afraid to do what is best for me or for anyone else. I am ringing in the new year with a new outlook on how I live life. In October, I will be 20-years old, and the thought is so strange to me. I am getting too old to put life on hold due to my fears and apprehensions. Happy New Year, everyone. Cheers.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Growing and Blogging

I started my morning off as I always do. First, I found some gymnast-inspired way to fall out of my loft bed, then I cleared my throat--much in the same way Drew Barrymore did in "Music & Lyrics" which I can only describe as the sounds of choking and tobacco build-up from over a 40-year span (though, I do not smoke)--and went to the bathroom to see what disaster my dreams and pillows left for me this morning.

I expected it to be a normal day. However, my stepmother's Mac was still on, and I signed online as she was still sleeping to bear witness to this auspicious moment in history. Yes, after almost a year on this blog, I now have 50 followers--51, actually. And it is all thanks to my readers. It is because of this discovery my New Year's post will have to wait until the actual day. Though I have read some nice posts just welcoming everyone to their new year and wishing them luck on their ventures, and even one about a husband who believes the best way to bring in the year is with a penis calendar, to me, this is more important.

Anyone who starts a blog and says they do not care about comments is probably lying. While blogging is therapeutic in some ways, logging on to find comments gives the author a bit more motivation to continue with their writing. I, originally, started this blog so I could practice my amazing, journalistic skills. (Wink.) Now, I find myself writing to my readers. Writing to those who have given me feedback in the past year. I want to share my experiences. I want to share my editorials, my reviews, and my articles with those who care to read. My post, "How Writing and My Mother's Nagging Saved Me" brought in a good number of new comments and followers, which only thrilled me more. While some of the comments on the post are from me as well, responding, I still have never had such a combined number of comments. I honestly did not expect it. While I was happy with the post, I never know if what I write will mean anything to anyone. I just do what comes naturally.

It is because of my new followers and recent feedback I waited until I received a decent number of comments on the next entry before I posted this one. I wanted to see if it was mere luck, or if my readers were really interested in what I had to say. It seems as though it is a little bit of both. For some, this may seem like a small feat. I am following a few blogs with over 500 followers. I did not set out to become a popular blog, and if I never am as popular as the Badass Geek, the Toothfairy, David, or even Julie Powell, I can still take solace in knowing I am not writing for no one. Someone does read what I write. Someone does care to know what I am thinking. It is a nice feeling.

I am glad I continued to post even when I thought I had nothing to say. Thanks for keeping up with me and commenting. I try to give everyone the same courtesy and comment on their blogs as well. A lot I have followed because they are charming and interesting reads. So, as I am, keep up the blogging as well. We are a blogging community. A community of writers, readers and romantics. We find a way to pull the humor and love out of life to make a good post for our audience. We do so to exercise our understanding of language, and to entertain others. As I write more, and my blog grows, I grow. For some, blogging is their only sanctuary. Sometimes, writing a diary is not enough, an audience that can relate and can talk back is worth more than the stoic, woven binding of a diary, of whom one will willingly call "friend" and then shelve after a month of soul-draining confessions.

Tonight, I have read a plea for a woman who has fallen in love with the blogging community just as many others before her have. She needs help.

My name is Brandy. And I have a blog.

And a plea.

I use my blog to showcase the crazy I meet everyday, share the stories of the kids I teach and document my love for tequila, dairy products and the abdominal muscles of Ryan Reynolds. Rarely do I talk about personal issues on my blog- as personal as the dude that I adore (who I actually met through my blog- single ladies, let that be a very good reason to blog, the possibility of meeting someone as wonderful as my man), but I need your help. And it involves my dude.

He’s a guy who made math comics for my class, so they would love learning about addition. He’s the kinda guy who sends my friends gift cards when they are having hard times, who remembers every story I ever told him, who was the first person I celebrated with when I got a teaching job. He’s the guy who sent flowers to me at school- dozens of my favourite pink roses just because he loves me. He’s a guy who has spent a year patiently explaining (and re-explaining) everything there is to know about football during the important games when silence is preferred. He’s made me word puzzles and comics and stayed up late playing Scrabble with me (even though I beat him almost every time). He’s listened to me cry about school and family and jobs. He is everything I never knew I needed and everything I always knew I wanted.

The holidays have hit us hard. He’s recently been told he may have something called multiple myeloma- an incurable cancer, that gives a person an average of five years of continued life. Though this news has came as a shock, he continues to be exactly who has always been- spending his time worrying about me, rather than worrying about himself. He’s the most selfless individual I know- (he stayed late on Christmas Eve to work, so his co-workers could leave early) and a post like this would never be something that he would promote or encourage but when I’m overwhelmed and feeling helpless, the blogging community has always given me tremendous support and comfort, two things I desperately need at this time.

As I write this, the future is uncertain and we aren’t sure what’s happening. He’ll need to see an oncologist soon, to verify what’s going on in his body. My hope is that everyone who reads this think positive thoughts and if you are a person who prays, could you add him to your list? (You can refer to him as ‘brandy’s hot awesome dude’). If you don’t pray, please keep him in your heart.This cancer is only a possibility and I believe that the prayers and positive thoughts of people can make sure it never becomes a reality.

I want to give a big thank you to the blog owner who scraped their original blog plans and graciously put this up. My goal is to get as many people as possible to see and read this post. If you are reading this and want to help, copy and paste my plea into your blog or send a link through twitter, so more people can keep him in their thoughts. I would be so very grateful (even more grateful than I am to my friend who first showed me the picture of Ryan Reynolds on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. If you haven’t seen it, google it. You. Are. Welcome).

I realize this all sounds dramatic, a Lifetime movie in the making- but this is life. Right now. And I’m throwing away any hint of ego and am humbly asking for you to pray or think kind thoughts. If you are able to pass this on, thank you and if you know anything regarding MM- please email me (my email is on my blog). This isn’t a call for sympathy or a plea for pity. It’s just one girl hoping you can think positive thoughts for the person she adores. If my current heartache provides you with anything, let it be with the reminder that life is short, love is unbending and no one knows what could happen next. Maybe it is silly, but I really do believe that positive thoughts can make a huge difference. Thank you for reading this and if you haven’t already? Please tell someone you love them today.

I did.

Please acknowledge her plea and pray for her/keep her in mind. Also, if possible, Tweet this post so people see her plea, or copy and paste her plea into a blog post to spread the word.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Could Be Selfish

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A few times in my life, I have actually had friends assume my parents have money because of our home. I have yet to understand these assumptions. We live in a typical, southern, suburban neighborhood. All the homes look the same, and we live in an unoriginal, split-level house. It is not as if my younger brother and I have gotten everything we wanted as children, but if my father could afford it, he would try to get it for us on birthdays and holidays. We have nice things, but it is not because every weekend my dad shuffles out more money for nice things, nor does my father dig into debt to attain these luxuries. We simply take care of what we have so it lasts. Did you know, I still have my Super Nintendo?

Last semester, I found one reason to enjoy loans and the financial aid system: excess financial aid checks! For those who do not know how the system works, Financial Aid will give the student a statement with an amount of money they are offering to pay for school for the upcoming semester. Once the amount is paid, if Financial Aid sets aside more than the price for the semester, then the student will receive a check for the excess amount. My excess check was more than satisfactory in the fall, and January 11 is when I begin my spring semester. As nice as it was to receive the check, I remember the bulk of it just going straight to my bank account. Unfortunately, it is not sitting safely there anymore. I am starting to wonder about the fate of my next check, which has been predicted to be even bigger than the previous.

My father will be starting a new job soon. He got accepted into the Police Academy with the local police department, and we are all really excited for him! He hates his job and hardly has any time to sleep because of his horrible schedule. As he gets older, this job will only do more bad than good--it could seriously hurt him physically if he does not get out soon. Earlier today, he pulled me aside and asked me about the check. For the record, I do not mind if my father asks me about it. To be honest, the money in my bank account is actually his. That was the deal: we sell my car to my aunt--who really needed one--and he puts the money in my bank account. And as I go through school, he would add more. It is basically the same situation as my friends in school who get checks from family so they can go waste it on club entrance fees and whatever else they do that I do not. So, if my father cannot put money into the bank account or wants to borrow a little, I say nothing. I always tell him, "Daddy, I didn't work for the money like you did. It's yours. Take it if you need it." I say this knowing he will always put more back--and he does. Now, my father is wondering if he could use some of the money from my future excess financial aid check in case something happens at work.

Though the check is bigger, I found myself feeling apprehensive about answering. I told him I would give him an answer when I actually see the check. Though my school's Financial Aid office predicts the check to be bigger than my fall check, something could change between now and then. I want to be selfish and say "no." I want to say, "Daddy, I need to build-up my bank account again, and I need the check." But who am I kidding? The only time I would ever "need" the money is when my parents cannot afford the movie ticket for me while I am home on break. I have it pretty easy. I have no bills. I still live at home when I am not at school, and I do not even have a car to drive--or my license, for that matter--so what is it benefiting me if I get to keep the money or not? It just means I have money in an account which will only be touched to spend on dinners with friends and birthday presents for loved ones. I am being selfish. Even when I have said "yes" in the past, I was expecting to see the money again.

He can have the money. He needs it. If something did happen with his job, my family would need the money, and if I am holding onto a big chunk of money and not sharing with the people who are keeping the roof over my head, the best way to resolve my selfish behavior would be to kick me out and make me live off of the money until the well runs dry--at least, I would probably do the same with my kid. I always said if I were ever capable of a cushion life, I would not live like it. I would be sensible with my loads of money, and I would share a large amount with my parents and my church. If I am being apprehensive with money I did not even earn, how will I ever be able to share money I did earn with the two who deserve it the most like I originally planned? It is time to relinquish ideas of cushion in my bank account when it matters least and help my father when it matters most.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

How Writing and My Mother's Nagging Saved Me

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My mother was a writer. She actually published a couple of books through a small company. Both her novels Willow Mountain and A Picture of Love were decent books, but not in my taste. My unwillingness to read them, or jump for joy over them when I did, might have been some of the reason my mother resented me a bit. She was far from a terrible person. She was my mother--a good one at that. But, we had several disagreements and squabbles. Particularly in the way of writing. She wanted me to be a writer--she said I had talent. I just wanted to do whatever I wanted to do. Not to mention, I have always been a "Daddy's Girl," and rebelled against much of what my mother did.

Her books barely got any notice. We never get royalty checks anymore. The last check we got was about six months ago--the first time in years, really--and it was a mere $2.50. You cannot buy a mansion on Willow Mountain with that. I am like many bloggers, I am a narcissistic writer at times. My mother was as well. I think it comes with the territory. She wrote a romanticized idea of her life. Whereas, the only type of book I could ever see myself writing would be the one constantly rolling through my mind--my thoughts, uncensored. (A scary idea, I know.) I am just not one for writing romance, or a knock-off Harry Potter. If I were to delve into creative writing, I would have to make time to work on it much longer than the typical lifetime allows and it would have to be of something spectacularly unique and alien to readers of today. I would also have to find a magical bucket full of patience and inspiration to keep it going for very long before it became scrap paper in the back of my credenza.

I will admit, I did write poems and songs for a long time. I still write songs on occasion. I know writing is where I belong, just a different writing than what my mother wanted. However, if I had not tried to write fantasy novels in the past, or written as many songs and poems as I had, I would have never realized exactly where in writing I fit and in writing I belong. And, if it had not been for my stubbornness in proving my mother wrong, I would have never discovered how much I love photography when I tried desperately to deviate away from writing altogether.

When my mother passed, I had a lot of unwanted feelings emerge and not-so-fond memories of my mother re-emerge. I am hardened to admit, but feel for the honest integrity of this post I will confess, I was angry with my mother for a long time after her death. My demeanor and outlook on life was not affected so much, however when I was alone and had time to think of the pain of losing her, sadness would turn to bitterness. This is not a healthy transition. Readers: do not allow this to ever happen, it is not a fun road to travel. In my inward rage, I re-read my mother's books. I did not leave with any different emotions about her writing style or the stories--I felt the exact same about everything, but I realized all the time I had spent rebelling against my mother was wasteful energy.

I am glad I did some of it. I learned new things about myself and about what I like. When I was against writing, I was free. All the opportunities and career choices in the world were open to me. I could be anyone. What a feeling! However, no matter what I did, everything seemed to turn back to writing. At one point in time, I wanted to travel the jungles of Africa as a journalist for animals, writing what I observe. I also had the idea to be a video game designer (which my lack of math and science skills would prohibit now), yet whenever I would create an idea for a video game, I was practically writing a story. It seems the signs have always been pointing to writing. I just never knew to open my eyes to it.

Growing up, I had always been a shy girl. Now, I am less shy and more quiet for my own particular reasons. However, throughout my unbearable shy years, writing was the only way I could express myself. Ironically, I was always too shy to show the most personal of it to anyone, but at least I was capable of coherent nonverbal speech. I could spit my ideas out on paper as my catharsis. (If only paintball-ing my younger brother in the face was an acceptable stress-reliever in my household. Sigh...) It is through the encouragement of English teachers and my participation in school newspapers I found myself loving the structure and style of journalistic writing, and loving the atmosphere of a newsroom. If I had not stayed with writing on the side and acquainted myself with journalism, I would probably be one of the poor saps, not talented enough for professional photography, but still stubborn enough to go to school for it, and trying to make it in my wonderful, one-horse town as a portrait photographer.

To be perfectly honest, I am not sure my mother would ever have been too thrilled with the type of writing I would like to do. For one, I am sure my idea of an uncensored book is something of which she would not have been too proud. This is only one of the reasons why if I ever do finish and publish the book, it shall be under a pen name. For another, my mother was always a creative writer, and always detested reporters and the media, though she lived by Oprah and the news daily--yes, she was a typical housewife.* I am not sure, if she had lived to see my final decision to go into journalism, if she would be as inwardly thrilled as she would have been outwardly supportive. One thing my mother was always accountable for was her support. Which is where I feel I failed as a daughter. But if part of me had not felt, in ways, she was right about my writing ability--though, I would have never admitted it to her--I would not be here. I wonder if I would even be writing at all, if she was still alive?


*Just in case someone reads that line and grimaces, I have no problem with housewives. I think one of the most important things a woman can be is a nurturing mom.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Office Changes the Face of Mediocrity

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While it may not be something one should admit, I am willing to say, if my dreams of writing for a newspaper, magazine, or at least becoming an online journalist do not happen for me, I would not mind a mediocre office job. (But if I have to work in a cubicle, hopefully it will not mean my chances of writing professionally are at an end.) This feeling of optimism stems from watching people around me fall to their knees before mediocrity and spend too much time being depressed. "Average" is something of which people do not typically aspire. Many want a better, comfortable life, and some drown in pity and liquor for never getting as far as they once believed possible. Life has its pitfalls, and I understand I would not always be happy with where I am. However, one thing is for certain: I am an easy-to-please kind of gal--always have been. Though I may not always say much to prove it, in my mind, I am at peace. I may not always prefer change, but I find happiness where I am somehow. I am in control of my future. If I truly cannot find my niche in one place, looking somewhere else is always an option.

One of my favorite shows is The Office. I can sit and watch several episodes in a row and laugh hysterically at the idiotic things the magic duo, Michael (Steve Carell) and Dwight (Rainn Wilson) say and do. A mediocre office job seems to be acceptable in Scranton and entertaining at that. This is not to say I will be moving to Scranton to work as a secretary or something of the like. However, I would not mind working in a very similar place to Dunder Mifflin, even if just for a small time in my life. I would sit, much like Pam (Jenna Fisher), or maybe another character who is not a front desk girl, and soak up the situational comedy before me. Having a boss like Michael and a 9-to-5 job where I see him everyday would be a nice routine.

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I think I could make it working in an office. After all, I am accustomed to sitting at a desk on the computer or writing. For two years, the newsroom was my home. A place I went to five times a week to see the same faces and sit in the same seat and work. Even if the threat of deadlines made the air thin, there was still enough humor and ridiculous behavior to help reporters get through the day. And though times could get tense, overall, the atmosphere was relaxed. It is because of the student newsroom I found myself falling in love with journalism. There are similarities between my experience there and what is shown in The Office. Characters in the show remind me of characters I have worked alongside. For me, The Office shows a group of people who live the average life, but are comfortable. Success is on the minds of everyone, but until they get there, they are making the most of what they have. All too often, I see people who live an average life spit on what they have, break their backs to overcompensate for what they do not, and call their life "mediocre" knowing it holds a stronger negative connotation than that of the word "average." Despite some of the characters in the show actually being incapable of getting anywhere (ha), there is still a lesson to be learned: sometimes mediocrity can be a good thing--a comfortable thing.

Who actually wants to be uncomfortable?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Games Were Harder Back Then

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When I was younger, I got "Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening" for the Nintendo Game Boy. Back then, it could barely hold my attention, not for lack of it being a fun game, but due to the fact I could not make it through the Mysterious Woods next to Mabe Village. Pathetic? Well, I could say it was because I was young and not as accustomed to RPG games as I am now, but I find it to be an inaccurate reasoning.

The truth: in most cases, games were just harder back then than they are now.

I have a month-long break for the winter holidays and this week was my first full week being home from college. Today (Friday, December 18), was the first day I had nothing to do and I was basking in the laziness for all it was worth. It was then I discovered my Game Boy Advance SP sitting in my room, and after searching through my game case, discovered the quaint addition to "The Legend of Zelda." It had been awhile since I saw the start screen--I had even forgotten the plot of this game. With a bit of withheld excitement (as to not startle my father), I erased my old game data and began anew.

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I felt like Buddy the elf traveling through the seven layers of the Candy Cane Forest--a destination ahead, excitement in my belly. Everything was foreign and fun. I made it all the way to the Bottle Grotto and found myself stuck. This, my friends, was worse than any writer's block, mathematical suicide-inducing problem, or knot in my iPod headphones' chord I have ever encountered. I sat reeling over how to find one last key. Finally, I turned to Google. Oh, Google! How many have trusted ye with their ventures to other realms! Tonight, I laid my trust in one walkthrough from Gamefaq. It was well-written, compared to the other amateur walkthroughs and considering all I really needed it for was that last key and a very frustrating boss later, I was very pleased with it.

I could not help but chuckle at the idea I was looking up a walkthrough for a Game Boy game, of all things! Who would have thought, the girl who has beat both "Kingdom Hearts" games, all other Zelda games, most Mario games, most Sonic games, and any other "cute" RPG's of the like, could barely get through this one? But I had fun reacquainting myself with the game, and I suggest others do the same. If my GBA SP was not flashing me the deathly red glare, I would keep playing late into the night.

Games from back in the day are more frustrating, but are more fun! They involve real strategy (not to say some of the other aforementioned do not) and make you actually feel accomplished when you finish off one measly boss. I cannot wait to find my charger!

I would also like to give a couple of shoutouts to a few links I found that impressed me the most:
1. Zelda's Dungeon - One of the coolest Legend of Zelda sites there are!
2. Link's Awakening Map - This is an interactive map I found, and thought it was definitely worth mentioning!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Shopping

Christmas shopping never seems to be as fun as one believes it will be before they grab their car keys and head towards the store. Today, the trip was made with my father and he hates shopping even more than I do. However, as much as I hate shopping, I sure do love the atmosphere of getting out of the house and feeling the crisp air hit me in the face as I walk up and down, scanning the stores for something worth purchasing for my dear friends. Shopping is not all about the stuff bought. Sometimes, it is about what is observed during the treasure hunt.

Whether it be window shopping or people watching, going to an outlet can bring a smile to my face. People of Wal-Mart do it everyday with their posts on the most interesting finds of one of the biggest chains in America (and possibly the world? I would not know, I never looked into the expanse of Wal-Marts before). I found myself people watching as my father and I scoped for suitable presents.

Since I have been home from school I have begun to realize exactly why Old Navy always frustrated me. While the commercials with the mannequins are enough to make me want to drive a stake through my skull, the people who shop there and the lack of quality clothes in the junior's section make it even harder to walk within fifty feet of an Old Navy. I am aware it is probably not all Old Navy stores. However, it is the closest and most convenient, thus, I am stuck with it.

While my father bought some clothes for my brother (boys are always much easier), I stood around, looking somewhat lost, but enjoying the sight of the many inbred folk who seem to have made a wrong turn. I would have taken a few pictures, however, it would have been difficult to do so inconspicuously. Believe me, readers, when I tell you I saw at least five different tube tops, six kids to every parent (most of which were on leashes--one zebra print leash, I kid you not) and a few grandparents tagging along for the trip who never seemed to grasp the concept of an "inside voice."

Why do people allow themselves to behave in such a manner? A woman stood in front of me in line screaming about her ex-husband to her "Mama Jo" while her kid was practically asphyxiating himself with her ready-to-be-purchased scarf. And though she seemed to be making logical points about how ignorant the former-anchor is, I could not stop staring at her black platforms and very pink halter top, just tight enough to show off her grotesque curves and grooves.

Luckily, my father and I got what we needed, were able to escape Old Navy, entered stores I actually enjoy, and then went for lunch. If I find I need to go do some more Christmas shopping (which is likely, as I have yet to find something for my friend Kyle), I will not be stopping by there anytime soon. Not even as a last resort.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A True Test of Character

(For your entertainment, I have provided a picture from my gallery as the opening shot for this entry. It has been awhile since I have actually used my own work in a post, well, outside of posts like events I attend or photoshoots. Enjoy!)

A friend said tonight, "If I could go back in time, I would change so much." It is a statement we have all thought at least once, and it weighs heavily on my friend tonight. We walked through the cold for hours. My hands were frozen and felt brittle. If I do not wake the next morning with the flu, it will be by the Grace of God. However, I did follow him without complaint.

Whenever I am with my friend, we always reminisce about the past, and in a sense, learn a bit more about each other. We remember times in high school, in middle school, and even talk about life when we were children--a time of which we did not know one another, but still find we can relate in many ways. Tonight, we wandered through the streets and around campus, circling and discovering new places. We made our way to a nearby park. The night stood at its darkest, but we could still tell where we were. That is when we saw it: the dome climber.

I am sure we all remember the dome climber! (The dome-shaped monkey bars.) It was the most amazing part of the playground as a child. I stood as tall, if not taller, than the dome climber tonight, and I remember as a child how large and mountainous I believed it to be. He sifted through current pangs while we horsed around in the 40-degree weather. And the question continued to resurface in our minds: "What would we do if we could go back?" Would life seem easier if the dome climber was the only mountain we had to face? Would we live day-to-day unscathed by the little bumps in the road? In reality, life never seems easier until we look back. When one faces an obstacle, turning away and hiding behind the idea life makes more sense "back there" feels like an acceptable solution. Unfortunately, it only sounds good until one tries it.

No matter the road a person takes, they will come face-to-face with conflict. Life without conflict is no life at all. Otherwise, everything is perfect, and once the euphoria of a perfect life dwindles, even perfect will feel dull. Whether the person is a child facing the frost-bitten metal of the dome climber, or an adult dealing with the stresses of relationships, school, or "real life," there will always be a mountain. A true test of character is how one deals with the situation in front of them. Trying to hide behind what was will only keep one back. Instead, moving past the obstacle and looking towards a better tomorrow will help the person learn from the issue at hand and give them the strength when bigger problems arise in the future.

"Moving on, is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard." - Dave Mustaine

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brandie Danielle Davis, Murdered

I knew her. We went to middle school together. A lot of us who remember her are in mourning. We cannot believe the story. A couple of people heard she was stabbed to death in her apartment. But it is just a rumor... Apparently, she was strangled...

Now, I am sure all of you are expecting a "life is so precious" post. However, I am going to try and steer away from the usual. It is the reason I began to post this three different times and stopped myself. Oddly enough, I needed inspiration. I needed kind words to fill my heart and mind...

Really, I needed a heavy heart and mind. I am sick of cliches and prefer not to be associated with them.

It seems I have lost many peers and friends as I have grown. Most of them I knew from the time I was in middle school. It is a sad thing to have such a past with someone and it just fall away so unexpectedly. I remember when our class lost those friends... There were many rumors floating around. And I am still angry at the administration for not being upfront with us. The moment you lose a friend, you face reality with an even heavier heart, and as such, deserve to know the truth.

I remember when James Jarman died. He was a sweet boy--a boy a few of my friends hate to remember passing. The day we found out, our principal came into the classroom and told us of the horrid news. My 4th-period teacher could not stop crying. That day, rumors were flying around that he hung himself. Why such a happy boy would do such a thing in the 7th grade, I am unsure, but it was a rumor that stuck. Our principal refused to tell us anything--even his best friend.

There have been other rumors to fly around at the time of a teen's death... Chad Walker dying from being crushed by his own truck... Ashley Lane's lungs collapsing after smoking despite her asthma...

I have been hurt many times by the loss of a friend. And I just wish we all knew the truth behind it. I wish we all knew what happened and why it happened.

When I was in middle school, until about 8th-grade, Danielle and I did not get along. She was always the girl that was prettier and more popular than I. She was the preppy girl to which I felt inferior, until I finally got to know her. The very fact that I still remember her means something. If you leave a person's life and are still remembered, know you have left just enough impact. You do not have to be Superman to be someone. I feel terrible for her family and for those friends who did stay in contact.

Brandie Danielle Davis, you will be missed.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Jingle Bell Festival

In McDonough, Saturday, December 5, was the night of the annual Christmas tree lighting and parade. After remembering this, I was depressed I would not be home from school in time to see it. However, my good friend, Chelsea, text-messaged me that morning and asked me if I would like to go to Valdosta's Jingle Bell Festival and parade. My thoughts, most definitely: yes! So, we made our way there and though the festival was small (due to lack of real advertisement this year and the weather actually dropping down to 40-degrees) it was still a lot of fun. I hung out with Chelsea and her friend, Amanda, and walked around downtown looking at booths, getting a caramel latte from Hildegard's, and waiting for the parade--the main event. We goofed off, chatted, and freezed our butts off, but I feel it was worth it. I cannot tell you how many times I actually said, "Chelsea, thank you so much for taking me!" I believe I was grinning from ear-to-ear the whole time. Here are some shots taken throughout the day, hope you enjoy!

(The only thing I regret is not adjusting the ISO on my camera before taking the parade pictures as it got darker. However, that is how you live and learn in photography... Sometimes, when you are looking through the lens, you cannot always tell what the outcome of a photograph will be once uploaded onto a bigger screen.)

(That couple was really nice and their baby was so cute.)