Thursday, May 26, 2016

of princes and of demons



[the great ones and the general ]


“I’m not acknowledging that statement or apologizing,” I hurried to add. “But let’s just say that we both suck. Deal?”
“Deal.” He pretended to shake his own hand, then looked up and grinned like an idiot at me.
I wished I had a smile to give him, but I didn't. My skin crawled just being here, with him. 
“But I’ve got to ask,” he continued after the moment was over and his smile slipped away. “Are you done being stupid?" His smirk was infuriating. That I could work with.
"Yeah," I admitted. "Being stupid is too much work. I don't know how someone as lazy as you manages."
"It's taken years of perfection.” He was practically bouncing on his tiptoes; happiness literally oozed from him. Until now, it hadn't hit me how hard it was to survive without his smart-aleck remarks and doggish loyalty.


I was too far gone. I didn't matter. I was the bullet in this suicide story.
I didn’t deserve to matter.


The moment I pushed past the door into the hall someone attacked me. Not  my parents, armed with mental health flyers and car keys ready to cart me away, but my sister. She wrapped  herself around me, not caring about the no contact rule, and breathed heavily into my shirt.
“What are you doing?” The back of my neck itched, and every time she twitched or moved, I felt it with an anxious rush.
“Smelling you. Holding you. Keeping you with me.” She shrugged, and we moved together. “Whatever it takes to keep me from crying.”


“So why does Colt hate your uncle so much?” Shiloh curled up in the front seat, wrapping Colt’s hoodie around her bare shoulders comfortably.
I heaved a sigh from the back of the car. When had she stolen my place in the driving hierarchy?
Colt chuckled. “He doesn’t really hate my uncle. He just hates what my uncle does for a living.”
“No, I hate your uncle too,” I said, kicking the back of his seat and scowling.
“But why?” Poor, clueless Shi. She glanced between us with wide eyes, completely unaware of what the future held.
I raised my eyebrows. “In a word?” She nodded. “Goats. Lots of goats.”
“He only had one,” Colt protested as Shi sat back in confusion. “And it’s probably dead already.”
“I hope,” I said darkly.


I rolled my eyes and pull at my seatbelt, anxious to get out of this death trap. After the accident, I wouldn't ride in cars. I walked everywhere, once I left the house. My parents hadn't understood at all. “He didn’t die in an accident,” they shouted at me every time I refused to drive to school or to a doctor’s appointment. “You shouldn’t be afraid of this.”
I never found the words to explain to them that you didn’t choose your triggers. They chose you, and then they hunted you down until they ruined your life, because you simply couldn't escape them.


“Ahoy there!” The way Colt waved his arms wildly at the strangers made him look like one of those crazy balloon men that snapped up and down in a neck-breaking dance. Shiloh smacked her palm to her forehead, peeking at me in embarrassment between her fingers. Ahoy there? What are we, pirates? The pirates of Penzance? The pirates of panic attacks?
A tiny chuckle escaped my anxiety riddled mind, and I wondered at just how idiotic I felt in the moment. Carbonated fear rushed through my bloodstream. Terror pounded against my eyes, feeding the mother of all headaches. I could breathe, but my lungs still caught and resisted every breath. And yet, here I was, laughing at a stupid joke. The human brain on the drug of anxiety, indeed a wonder to behold.


At first, his eyes showed nothing, but I blinked, and suddenly his mouth twisted down at the corner—like a sarcastic lilt at the end of a sentence. “You don’t know everything, Matt. Feelings lie. Your brain lies. You're stuck in the thick of it all, and because you that, you can't see anything else. To you, there is nothing else.” He gnawed at his lower lip as he swallowed. “This isn’t the end, and you deserve to get better, not matter what your brain tells you. There's more to your life now than punishing yourself for something you didn’t do. You have to admit it when you're wrong."


I looked at the dinghy, and the dinghy looked back at me, straight into my ripped up soul.
"Sucker," it said.
"I know," I replied.
And then the shutter clicked and I turned to ask for her name but all that was left of her was a whirl of red hair caught in the waning light.


[ cor ]


She'd seen it all before, but something about the warm, inviting sand, the flash of mental under the sun, and the cry of her name echoing all the way to home filled her with fresh excitement every time. The rush never grew old in her mind.
She pulled her thick brown hair back, quickly plaiting it into a heavy rope that fell halfway down her spine. Hade still watched, lips thin and white. His sandy hair stuck up haphazardly, slick with sweat, and he had to be exhausted, but he didn't say a word. He never did. He would do anything for her.
And she loved him for that.
“Ready?” she asked eagerly, already anticipating his answer.
His lips twitched—Hade's version of a smile. “Very.”


“Say, Hade, when will you step into the arena? I warrant you're a mighty force—not a spear, like your tiny girl, but maybe a long sword?” Ripper wiggled a wiry eyebrow at the two of them.
Hade didn't bother correcting him; no matter how many times they did, the men still assumed Bryony was Hade's and not her own. “I'm not really a fighting man,” he said, instead. The man blinked in confusion as he tried to process such a foreign concept.


Some hundred feet away, in a box filled with silk, rich food, and more money than she could imagine, Milo Proditor, prince of the province of Cor, stood and spread his arms for silence. An unwilling hush fell over the crowd. As usual, Milo dressed in absurd finery; he wore a bronze breastplate that shone brightly in the sun, as well as a deep cobalt cape, contrasting with the red feather hanging from the crown of his head. He was a spectacle, a monkey in a parade. It made Bryony sick to watch him fool around on that stage like this wasn't a life or death situation. It wasn't, for him. The closest Milo ever got to battle were these matches, just like Bryony only ever saw his wealth from afar.


Later that night, when everyone was asleep and all the lamps dimmed, Bryony slipped out of the bed she shared with her sisters. The packed earthen floor cooled her feverish skin, and the night air burned her lungs as she gulped for breath.
If only there were a way to sleep without dreaming.


Shan looked up at her with fire in her eyes. “Do you even care about anything other than your stupid fighting? Haven't you ever wondered what it's like to have a life, away from this desolate hellhole?”
Bryony lifted her pin hold a little as the guardsmen drew near. “No,” she said, completely honest.
It was the first time she'd spoken to Shan in two years.
“Then maybe you should consider it,” she spat, rubbing the blood from her streaming nose on her expensive clothing. "Maybe then you'd understand that I didn't do it to hurt you.”
The guards were at their heels, shouting at Bryony to let the other girl go. “Then why did you do it?”
The rage slowly slipped away from Shan's face. “I don't know...” she said softly. “Maybe I wanted to save myself this time, instead of letting you be the hero like always.”


He dropped the pouch in her waiting hand. “Happy?”
She handed the money to Hade, who reluctantly knelt to put it in his pack. “No.”
“No?” Milo's dark eyebrows quirked, suspicious.
She took a step closer to him, so their noses would've touched if she were taller, and stabbed him in the chest with a finger. “If I EVER find out you're that host's patron, I will break into your shiny palace or find whatever scumhole you hide in when you aren't harassing me and my family, and I will slowly and painfully castrate you. Understand?” She stabbed him again for emphasis.
His adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed hard. That was all the answer she needed.

 
Her head tipped back as her thoughts muted...her eyes slipped open...all she wanted was to see the night sky and feel safe, like the arena made her feel...but instead...
Milo.
In all black, with no tacky finery dragging him down. Dark hair, messy and child-like. Wild, terrified eyes.
Holding her with cold but sweating hands.
She was awake now.
“What are you doing here?” she snapped after her voice found its way back. She wrestled to escape his grip, but she was still too wobbly, and he was stronger than he looked.
He looked scared.


“He's just here to see Hade, Mam.”
“Well, why isn't he at Hade's?”
Bryony sighed. “Because he's too lazy to walk that far.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Milo's head snapped up. A scowl threatened his impassive mask. So he could hear her.
Something about the way he squirmed under her family's eyes gave her great pleasure. Almost enough to make her smile. Almost.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

beautiful people : matthew and milo

wow...this is late.

whoops.

to my credit, I have been busy with little things like finals, strep throat, and graduation season, but still--that's NO excuse! this post must happen!!


*pulls on thinking cap* let's do this.

this month, I will be using Matt (good ol' Matt--he's been a beautiful person quite a bit, but that happens when you're the main character of the novel of my heart) and a new character from my secret fantasy for fun project that you guys know little nothing about. his name is Milo, and honestly, he's a giant piece of trash. 


this is Milo in a nutshell. about Bryony, who you'll meet later.

here we go!!




Matt


How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?
ho boy. Matt doesn't smile much, and when he does, it's usually sarcastic or directed to the floor. and he never smiles at strangers. he can barely look strangers in the eye. 



What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?
the cruelest thing he was ever told was that he was the reason for his brother's death. he didn't react, because he believes it's true. 


What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?
Riley once told him that he was a good person to be around. he was confused and uncomfortably sweaty. also a little proud. 

world's most awkward anti-date. ever. 

What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
I've done a lil snippet of this before, so here's a link: free-falling


What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?
I really think Matt needs to read either Challenger Deep or The Man Who Was Thursday. Challenger Deep because it outlines mental illness and how it derails you so perfectly, and The Man Who Was Thursday because it suits his brain. Matt is so analytical and curious when his mind isn't crowded by grief and pain, and I think both of these books would touch his brain and his heart in a good way.


Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?
...spoilers...


Do they like and get along with their neighbours?
nah. not lately, at least. they watch him too closely when he leaves the house and their hugs are too long and too tight. 


On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?
eheheheheh I'd said a 7 on a bad day; a 4 on a really, really good day. 


If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
home.


Who was the last person they held hands with?
as of today's writing...Shiloh. I love their sibling relationship. nothing like a brother and a sister who have each other's backs. 


Milo

How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?
depends on the stranger. if a pretty lady walks by, by all means. if it's a thug or one of his new blades, no.



What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?
"You're not part of us. You'll flee like the rest."
His jaw clenched. "My mother is buried in this village, Bryony."
"The prostitute you left to die, just so you could have an easy, safe life. Away from her. Away from us."
He simmered in silence.



What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?
Bryony's mother tells him he hasn't changed much since he was a little boy--even if his circumstances have. and he has a genuine moment of serious affection for someone besides himself--or Bryony. 



What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
the day his mother died. that was the day that it all began to change. 



What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?
oh boy. ummm...Milo doesn't strike me as the reading type. but maybe Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling. *snorts* not really. the title is just really, really applicable.



Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?
Umm one time Bryony impaled him with her spear between his ribs. there was a lot of blood. he just kind of stared at Bryony and Hade, who stared back at him, and then he puked.



Do they like and get along with their neighbours?
since his neighbours lowkey hate him, I'd say no. 



On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?
Milo's an even 5. Bryony would say 10/10, all day, every day. 



If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
despite being a princeling, Milo never really had any allusions of grandeur. he's content to stay where he's at, and he'll do anything to stay with what he knows. 



Who was the last person they held hands with?
pssssh hold hands? who does that? (Bryony. but under duress. I mean, the girl was passing out from hunger. a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.)


so yeah. there is my precious child who needs a little (or a lot) of love and my despicable but lovable piece of trash. you can be expecting a snippety post soon--as well as a kdrama review or two. and maybe a food post, if I get my act together. and don't get sick. or drown in school work, since I go back next week. maybe I'll just forgo blogging and writing and any form of productivity and binge watch the Mindy Project.

see y'all soon!
byeeeee 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

{ how to live } a chronically ill christian

over this past month, I've been thinking a lot about guilt. it comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and for me, my guilt has several different forms. today I'm writing about the one that attacked me for a long time--and to be honest, still plagues me. I have no idea if any of my thoughts make any sense, but it weighed on my mind and my heart long enough that I knew I needed to write something about it. so here it is, whatever its worth may be.


at two points in my life, I had to pretty much stop attending church. when I was undiagnosed with celiac disease, I still went, but as I sat in those pews, my mind wasn't there. I didn't even have a mind back then; it was turned into a giant gluten slushie. the second time was last summer, when I was so sick and bouncing from doctor to doctor because we didn't know what was wrong. some Sundays I couldn't go because I couldn't leave my bed or sit in one position for that long, some Sundays I stayed home because I was so anxious about that amount of people pressing against me, "watching" me, talking over me. it sucked. sucked so much I hate remembering it.

so I'm glad life has moved on from that point. I still have bad days, I still have flares, but for the most part, I'm doing pretty good. compared to a year ago at least. I'm going to school, I just finished my temporary job and am searching for new employment, and I have things to look forward in life, as well as hope that my tomorrow is getting better every day.


however.

I am still chronically ill. trust me, every time I forget my illnesses, they make sure to remind me of their presence. (how sweet and considerate of them.) if it's not a flare, it's a fresh bout of anxiety or depression at the drop of a hat that leaves me asking "why...."

and that's ok. I'm learning my "new" body and how to take care of it, and bad days are just as much a part of my life as the good ones. it's not the end of the world if I can't do everything an ordinary person can do every single freaking day. (you guys are like super humans. I'm not sure how you  do it.) when I have a bad day, some times the best thing is to put aside whatever project I'm working on--be it school, the great ones, an ornery blogpost--and sleep it off. I used to need actual verbal permission from others for me to accept this, because I just couldn't let myself admit that I was too weak to handle everything I heaped onto my plate, but now I hop in bed to sleep the moment I notice I need it. and I'm okay with that.


except when it comes to church.

I love church. I love my new church family, I love the worship, I love that nasty school cafeteria we meet in. it's home. so when I can't make it because my body feels like limp spaghetti noodles (and I do not refer to myself as noodles lightly, because they are truly disgusting), I miss it a lot. and also lowkey feel like a terrible person.

I didn't make it to church this week. I barely made it last week. I don't know if I'm going to make it next week, just because life is busy and crazy and stressful right now--and my body doesn't do stress. I remember a few weeks ago when I  knew I wasn't going to make it by the night before, mostly because I had a rough day and felt that eleven hour sleep ache pulling at my bones. I even told my family that if I wasn't moving like a human by certain point in time, leave without me. I know how to handle my body. but why can't I give myself permission to okay skipping church because my body seriously and actually needs it?

at some level, I feel guilty. "You're not as bad as you were last year and you're still lying like a slob in bed, living off your parents and not doing anything with your life," says Shoulder Devil, ready to punch my happiness in the gut. "But you're doing so much more these days and your body knows you needs the rest, so it's important to take the small consequences now instead of letting them pile up until you seriously hurt yourself again," says Shoulder Angel, who massages my tense shoulders and hands me a gluten free chocolate chip cookie. "Shut up," says Shoulder Devil. "You shut up," says Shoulder Angel, who is also a boss and doesn't get enough credit from me.

I know I shouldn't feel this way. I know that God understands my circumstances--and it's not like church is my only source of worship. I do my personal readings, listen to Christian DJs, took part in devos with my old college group...I'm so blessed to have all these opportunities as a Christian. and yet, because I can't sit still for two hours, or because the music is too loud and I'm a sobbing mess, or because I just need that little bit more sleep, I feel like a terrible human being and a horrible believer.

I remember how desperate I was to be in church last year--not to be surrounded by people, but to hear the word of God and to have good thoughts flowing around me. because of my pain, because of my frustration of not having any answers, I didn't feel like I was going anywhere, and I blamed that on the fact that I wasn't at church. the reality is, I was stuck in a rut because I wasn't trying. when I got in bed every night, I was always "too tired" to do my reading. and sometimes that was true! but not always. and then it became a habit. when I stayed home from church, I did my reading in the morning instead of at night--and the habit of whizzing through the chapters so I could sleep on the couch with Teen Wolf playing in the background began.

you collect a lot of bad habits when you keep telling yourself that you're too tired for God. 


so I guess that's where part of that guilt comes from. now when I stay at home from church, I am cornered by the question: do I really feel this badly? or is it in my head? are bad habits popping up again? sometimes I have good answers for these questions. sometimes I don't.

being a chronically ill Christian is tough. there's this tug of war between your health and your faith, and it's very hard to choose between the two. but I think the real question I should be asking as a chronically ill Christian isn't "why do I have sacrifice one thing that keeps me going--keeps me happy--for the other thing that helps me survive?" I need to be asking: "what do I need to do to make these two things work together?"


so church for me isn't always sitting in a seat for a service. sometimes it's staying home, sitting on the front porch and praying. sometimes it's going for a thirty minute walk, listening to the worship music I grew up listening to instead of this new stuff. sometimes it's taking that extra hour of sleep and doing good with my day, instead of being a zombie because I forced myself to go. and when I do go, sometimes it will be harder than other times. sometimes I'll have to put my hands over my ears for half the service because the speakers are just too loud. sometimes I'll constantly be rearranging myself, shifting and aching. and that's okay. church is not a cookie cutter experience. it cannot--and should not--be the same, "normal" thing every single Sunday. you are going to have bad days where you can go, and you are going to have bad days where you need to stay home. and that may be hard for you to accept--it was for me--but that is just how it is.


Church is amazing because it's a bunch of people, coming together because of one thing, drawing to God as a people to celebrate and worship him. Church is also amazing because it's a bunch of individuals, crying out to God because of individual prayers and needs. the fact that a church body can be so together and also so alone--in a good way--at the same time is a beautiful thing, guys. and for a while, because of my discomfort with my frustrations and weaknesses, I focused on the group relationship as more important than my personal relationship with God. that was probably the biggest mistake I have ever made--the true source of the guilt in my life--because for a while I let that relationship wither and fade away. so while yes, I do feel guilty when I have to skip a Sunday, I am also learning to take that opportunity and, instead of wallowing in my guilt, to grow with God because of it.


I don't know if anyone out in the void of the inter-webs who happens to be reading this struggles with this same thing--if they are overwhelmed with guilt for cancelling/not attending events, especially church ones, or if they force themselves to attend despite how they truly feel, emotionally and physically--but I just want to let you know that you are not alone. and you don't have to feel guilty. and most of all, you shouldn't let this opportunity go to waste.

you are amazing. that's all.

yup. whale always love you guys. way to end on a serious note, Ely.

P.S. whilst on yet another accident hiatus--I had a valid reason for this one, I was unbelievably sick with strep throat--I broke 30 followers on this blog! it's a little milestone, but it's huge for me! thank you guys so much! <3 see ya soon! (and that's a promise...)