Whew, what a week! And it's not over yet! Finals are over, thank God, but tomorrow I'm graduating with my associate's degree, and Saturday I'm playing on worship team AND celebrating my nineteenth birthday...which, by the way, if you want to get me a present, I just want an Amazon review on Where the Clouds Catch Fire or Where I Stand. Or both, honestly.
Anyway, I figured that, since I'm nearly finished with two decades of life, I've learned a few things. A few things that, hopefully, some of you will benefit from. So here we go--19 things I've learned by the age of 19.
In the highest branches of a fictional tree lives a whole bunch of gods, many of whom have long and hard-to-pronounce names. Two of them are the twin sons of Odin and Frigga. One of them is Balder, and the other one's name includes a letter that doesn't exist in English, so let's just call him Hodur.
The twins are as different as night and day. Balder is beautiful and innocent and as pure as the morning sunlight. Hodur, on the other hand, is dark-complexioned and blind. But still, they're both good boys, although Balder is obviously his parents' favorite. In fact, most of the gods who live in the fictional tree really like Balder.
One night, Balder has a bad dream and, like any good son does, he goes to his dad and talks to him about it. Odin realizes that Balder's dream is about the future--about Balder's own death, actually--so he sends one of the gods down to the lowest branches, where Loki's daughter Hella is in charge of everyone who didn't die in battle.
The messenger looks around and notices that all the dead people are busy. It looks like they're preparing for an important visitor. Finally, he finds Hella and asks, "What's up with that dream Balder had?"
The messenger goes back to the highest branches of the fictional tree and tells Odin that they're screwed. So Frigga, being the great mom she is, goes around and asks all the trees, sticks, sword, all that stuff, for their pledge to never hurt Balder. And all of those inanimate objects agree. So Balder is now effectively invincible, and everyone loves shooting him with arrows because they bounce right off him and everyone gets a good laugh out of the deal.
Now, most of the gods still really like Balder. But not Loki. He's jealous. So he disguises himself as an old lady and goes to a dinner party that Frigga's hosting.
"It's so cool that you got every inanimate object in the fictional tree to agree to never hurt Balder," he says.
Frigga smiles. "Oh, yes. All except for that little plant that grows under a specific tree. It's so little, it would never hurt him anyway."
"What's it called?"
Loki smiles, leaves the party early, and makes an arrow out of the mistletoe. Then, at the next party Frigga throws, Loki again goes disguised as an old lady. He goes to Hodur, the blind brother, and places a bow loaded with the special arrow in his hands. "Let's play a game," he says. "I'll help you aim so you can shoot your brother just like everyone else does."
So Hodur shoots Balder and kills him, much to the panic of everyone.
It doesn't take long before everyone realizes Loki is behind everything. So they punish him and, slowly, everyone in the highest branches of the fictional tree became happy again.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
I do apologize for not posting a short story on Monday. I have the week off work, and I've been enjoying myself. Turns out, I really needed a break. Also I bought myself some new books, and as my parents know well, when I have a new book, you won't see me for a while.
Anyway, why are you here? You should be celebrating Thanksgiving with your family. Cooking, watching football, playing with your baby cousins or nieces and nephews or something. Heck, I should probably brush my teeth. See, in college, they don't really care too much about Thanksgiving break, so I decided to get a project done before I got out of bed this morning, and turns out, HTML is both harder and easier than I anticipated it being.
I'm thankful for my school. I'm thankful that I'm a week away from getting my associate's degree. I'm thankful for my family and our health, especially since two years ago today, my dad was in the hospital recovering from a heart attack. I'm very thankful he's in good health again! I'm thankful for my church and the wonderful people there that I work with. I'm thankful that I'm working in the nursery again. I'm thankful for my job and, somehow, each and every sixth- and seventh-grader I teach. I'm also thankful, and also a little sad, that I'm quitting my job as soon as the semester's over so I can focus more on my schoolwork.
Oh, and I'm certainly thankful that I published my second book this year. Almost forgot about that. You know, I thought for sure that once I was published, life would be perfect. I've discovered that the process of writing is the fun part. Being self-published is cool and all, but the feeling you get when you write that awesome bit of dialogue or are zapped with a great idea? That's what writing's about. In fact, my favorite part of being published is hearing how my book has affected people--how it's made them laugh and cry and, hopefully, encouraged some of them.
What are you thankful for, dear readers? Let us know in the comment section below! (I'm certainly thankful for all of you!) God bless, and don't burn the stuffing!
On the bright side, games don't need too much prep time, so I can sneak in some studying at work. On the downside...have you ever hosted or attended a 12-year-old's birthday party? Crazy, right? Well, today, I'm the one in charge of that party.
Let me back up. My after-school tutoring job isn't all that difficult. Sometimes. I prepare some work, the kids come in late and only one of them doesn't have homework. Most of my prep work is wasted, and my main job is maintaining order. When you have six to ten sixth- and seventh-graders who just got out of school and want nothing more than to talk to one another, that can be difficult.
You know what's worse? Having a party for them.
My workplace, on certain days, takes it easy on the kids. Valentine's Day, Halloween, the last day of school. Today is the last day we meet before a week-long Thanksgiving break, and I'm almost dreading it.
At first, we thought, "Today's going to be business as usual. We help the kids with their homework, give them some worksheets, and that's it." But heck, even I'm feeling lazy today. I didn't even bother to put my contacts in. Besides, I've talked with some of the other teachers, and the general consensus is that we're going to take it easy on the schoolwork. And, when that happens, the kids with homework don't really get that done, either.
I just don't want today to turn out like Halloween. Halloween was on a Thursday, and since we don't have tutoring on Fridays, everyone was in a good mood anyway. I was wearing a costume, one of the volunteers came in wearing a historically accurate Civil War uniform, and everything was set to be great. I'd make the kids do one worksheet, then I decided they could watch clean Vine compilations the rest of the day.
That didn't happen.
I forgot a drink for the classroom. I stepped away for two minutes to borrow some from another classroom. I turned around, and there was yogurt on the ceiling. I kid you not.
I ended up accepting my defeat, sitting down, and reading a book. Cleaning is therapeutic, anyway.
It's 2:19. The majority of my kids should be here in two hours. In the time between now and then, I need to pick up a pizza, read half a chapter of a textbook, and contemplate my life choices. I've already helped the food pantry stock a metric ton of cereal someone donated (thank you, someone!).
Anyway, I guess I just need to be thankful that no one's died. We've seen some pretty crazy stuff go on here. Any day that no one throws up, there are no roasting sessions, and one child learns something, it's a good day. And hey--maybe we'll get some more leaves on our classroom Thankful Tree today. It looks a little like this, but it's taller and flimsier:
In the highest branches of a fictional tree live a whole bunch of gods. Odin is the leader of the gods, and Loki is his brother. Loki is possibly adopted, and if he isn't, Odin wishes he was. Thor--you know, tall guy, not that good looking--is Odin's son, the god of thunder. All of them, along with a few others who mostly have long and hard-to-pronounce names, live in a particular branch of the fictional tree called Asgard.
Now, Asgard isn't exactly the most well-fortified of fictional tree branches, so one day, a guy shows up and offers to build a fence around it in exchange for something only gods cared about. Obviously, the Asgardians are
So! NaNoWriMo is upon us again. Actually, we're supposed to be halfway through it...oh well. I wish I were participating.
For those of you who are normal humans with social lives, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Novelists all over America sit down at their computers and write 50,000 words in a single month, which adds up to about 1,667 words every day.
In the highest branches of a fictional tree, there live two types of gods: the Aesir and the Vanir. And, since they're Viking gods, they manage to get themselves into a good old-fashioned war.
Finally, the Aesir and the Vanir decide that they're tired of fighting, and they each send some of their people to live with the others. One of the hostages is named Niord, who is forced to live with the Aesir along with his two kids. It isn't all bad, though. They get to live in a nice little palace by the ocean, and Niord is tasked with guarding this section of the fictional tree from the bipolar sea god.
As time goes on, Niord realizes he needs a new wife to replace the one he had to leave behind. As luck would have it, the gods decide to hold a contest: there's a goddess who needs a husband, and she's going to pick whoever has the cleanest feet.
Niord easily wins the Clean Feet Contest, and gets to meet his new wife, Skadi. Good news is, she's hot. Bad news is, she's also the goddess of winter--and besides, Niord really didn't mind living alone with his kids. But, again, she's hot, so Niord accepts her, and Skadi comes to live in the ocean palace.
She doesn't like it.
One day, Skadi goes up to Niord and says, "Hey. I'm tired of all this sand. It's coarse, irritating, and it gets everywhere. And I've got my own house up in the mountains, so I say we go live there."
Niord agrees--reluctantly--and they set off for Skadi's cold mountain home. She loves it, of course, being the goddess of winter and all. But Niord really doesn't like it. The wolves howl, the wind blows, ice falls off the trees, and he can't sleep. At all. So, since he's a bit more patient than Skadi, he waits nine months and says it's time to go back to the ocean.
Back to the ocean they go. Skadi hates it. She hates the waves, the sand, and the noisy seagulls. She hates how hard it is to keep everyone's feet clean. So, three months later, she insists it's time to head back up to the mountains.
This arrangement goes on for a few years until they're both tired of it, and they decide the best option is just to split up and go their separate ways. Niord is able to enjoy his bachelor life again, and Skadi takes up hunting. Niord's children grew up and moved out and became gods in their own right, and everyone in the highest branches of the fictional tree was happy.
So sorry about not getting around to posting yesterday. I've been swamped. Between getting ready to transfer to a different college next semester, work, church, and dentist appointments, I've hardly had a second to breathe.
Oh, and I got contact lenses.
I loved my glasses. They were black, almost nerdy glasses, with big frames that I could hide behind. But then they broke. And Mom said, "Well, we might as well get you contacts, because you look better without your glasses anyway."
She's biased, of course, because she's been wearing contacts for longer than I've been alive. But I acquiesced, and off to the eye doctor's office I went. When he first put them in for me, I was ecstatic. Sure, they felt weird, but dang! I was seeing in 4k Ultra HD. Colors seemed brighter. I spent half an hour looking around, like a baby staring at everything and everyone at the supermarket.
Day One: I wore my contacts for a few hours, then got new glasses. They're blue, but they look black in certain lights, and I think they're cool.
Day Two: I wore my glasses for most of the day, because I had a dinner party I wanted to wear my contacts to. Unfortunately, I was in a hurry putting my contacts in, and I started to worry I'd put them in the wrong eyes.
Day Three: I was pushing invisible glasses up the bridge of my nose. My contacts didn't irritate me at all, and it took two minutes instead of five to put them in. But I still didn't know if I was wearing them in the right eyes. I wore my contacts to work, and I got a few compliments.
Day Five: Screw this. I tried everything I could think of to see which contact belonged in which eye, and Google was of no help. Neither, surprisingly, was Mom.
Day Six: Halloween. I don't celebrate Halloween per se, but I like wearing costumes and eating candy. I enjoyed wearing contacts; glasses would have messed up my mask.
Day Eight: Follow-up appointment. My eye doctor said everything looked good, which I'm taking to mean my contacts are in the right eyes. I still think everything looks blurrier with contacts than they did with glasses, but I ran into a friend, and she said she sees clearer with glasses, too. So this is normal...I guess?
Day Fourteen: Still pushing invisible glasses up the bridge of my nose. Relishing in the many colors I see. Especially that it's colder out now, and I don't have to worry about my glasses fogging up.
So are contacts worth it? I'm still not sure. I'm enjoying not having to clean my glasses, but not being able to read signs from as far away as I'm used to is tough. Maybe my contacts are in the wrong eyes. Fortunately, when I replace them, I'll know for sure which one goes where. Fortunately, my prescription isn't very high, so I can see fairly well either way.
Do you have contacts? If so, what advice can you give a new user? If you don't have contacts, do you have any questions? Ask and advise away in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
In the highest branches of a fictional tree lives a bunch of gods, most of whom have long and hard-to-pronounce names. One of them, however, has a somewhat easy-to-pronounce name, and his name is Tyr. Not Thor. This is a different guy.
Anyway. Tyr is really good with a sword. In fact, I'm pretty sure he's the Norse god of war--at least on of them. But Tyr is also super brave, brave enough to befriend the scariest thing that lives in the highest branches of the fictional tree: Fenrir.
Fenrir is a piece of work. His mother is a giant, and his father is a god. Loki, actually. Remember how I mentioned he had two non-human kids? Fenrir is one of them. Fenrir is a wolf. And, as luck would have it, a pretty big and scary wolf. That must be the giant blood in him.
Fenrir, in fact, is so big that most of the gods avoid him. But not Tyr. Tyr treats him like an oversized German Shepherd and plays with him in the sunny afternoons. He probably gives him belly rubs, too.
Unfortunately, as Fenrir keeps growing, the other gods decide Fenrir needs to be locked up. So they go up to him and say, "Hey, buddy! Here's a super-strong chain. Let's tie you up with it and see if you're strong enough to get out." So they tie him up, and Fenrir breaks the chains. Piece of cake.
So the gods get a bit more concerned. They go to the dwarves and have them make another chain--a stronger one this time. And, just like Sampson and Delilah, Fenrir breaks out of this chain, too.
So the gods sit together and think--not exactly something the Norse gods are known for--and they finally decide to ask the dwarves for a magic chain. So the dwarves go around and gather up bird spit, women's beards, the sounds of a cat's footsteps, and fishes' breath. And they make a nice, soft rope out of all these things. Somehow.
So the gods go find Fenrir again. He's romping with his buddy Tyr, probably playing fetch with Thor's hammer or something. After a few more rounds of fetch--because why not, the poor dog's getting locked up anyway--the gods find Fenrir and ask for one more test of his strength.
This time, Fenrir's a bit suspicious. So he asks that one of the gods place their right arm in his mouth, as proof that no one's trying to trick him. Tyr volunteers.
It's a trick. Obviously.
The highest branches of the fictional tree are now a safer place because Loki's son is locked up. Tyr learns how to sword fight with his left hand. And--with the exception of Fenrir--everyone in the highest branches of the fictional tree is happy.
Hello! I'm currently writing this very late at night and scheduling it for tomorrow morning, since I have at least one test, on essay, and two Halloween parties to take care of on the 31st. And since I've done my own school, helped my sister with her homework, gone to work, and played on the church's worship team today, don't worry if this post is a bit disjointed. I'm just thanking God that I'm still awake and functioning enough to spell decently.
Technically, I don't celebrate Halloween. I just wear costumes and eat candy on the one day it's socially acceptable to do so. My sister flipped out on me the other night, saying that Halloween is Satan's birthday and that devil worshippers are going to take me in as one of their own. Mom just rolled her eyes and said I was an adult, I can do what I want.
I'm dressing up as Grima, the villain from Book 3 in the Clouds Aflame series (which I just started working on). I needed the vest to be torn up, so I gave it to my dog. I hope she's going to town on it right now. I played tug-of-war with her earlier, and that just gave us a small hole in the back. Which no one will see because of the cloak.
Actually, the history of dressing up for Halloween--or All-Saint's Day, because the Catholic church never knew if they'd canonized everyone who was holy enough to be a saint--goes back to the Middle Ages. I know for a fact that Alynn sticks some tree branches in her hair and pretends to be a deer, much to Lukas's confusion. He decides not to dress up.
I saw a cute comic strip the other day. This isn't it, but it's close enough:
Anyway, the comic strip I saw involved a bunch of kids sharing their Halloween candy while their parents argued in the background about the kids' costumes being racist or offensive or whatnot. And the costumes weren't terrible. One kid was dressed like a Native American. One was dressed like a SWAT team member. Heck, I saw a separate Instagram post about a kid dressed as Donald Trump, and the comments were all arguing about whether or not this kid deserved candy because he dressed up as the President.
There's a couple things to learn from this. One, I need to spend less time on Instagram. Two...they're just costumes. Kids are innocent. They want to dress up like a Native American? Let them. Heck, I was a Native American for Halloween when I was twelve. I didn't pick that costume because I wanted to offend anyone. I just thought Native Americans were cool--and besides, I had a character who's Ojibwa, and she was probably my best friend at that point.
Obviously, don't dress up like a KKK member or something stupid like that. We have the right to get angry over legitimate injustice. But most of this politically correct crap that's going around nowadays? My gosh. The world would be a better place if everyone in it just took a chill pill and made allowance for everyone else's faults. If everyone quit getting offended.
And now I have to go help my sister with more homework. So goodbye for now.
What are you dressing up as for Halloween? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and stay safe while you Trick-or-Treat!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.