School is over...for now. I've taken the past few days--well, mornings, anyway, since I still have to work--and I've done absolutely nothing. And it is glorious. Oh, and I have my associate's degree as of this past Friday, and my nineteenth birthday party was Saturday, so I've had a busy weekend. Yet another reason to do nothing all morning.
One of the things I love to do when I'm doing nothing is to watch Star Trek. To be honest, I only started watching The Next Generation because Captain Picard looks like Lukas McCamden. But I was quick to realize it's a good show. The captain and Data the android are two of my favorite characters, and Q has got to be one of my favorite villains out of all of cinematic history. Right up there with Maligant from Twelfth Night (or Twelfth Knight...it was some sort of Arthurian romance movie).
But longtime fans of Star Trek have posed some interesting questions, one of which I will attempt to answer today. That question being, how do people on the Enterprise use the bathroom?
I've read some interesting theories on the internet. One of them states there's a toilet that pops out of the wall, and twenty-fourth-century people don't care so much about privacy. Someone else suggested the use of transporter technology. This makes sense. After all, medical technology has increased to the point that headaches and common colds have been abolished. Why not eliminate the need to use the restroom?
Here's where my two cents' worth comes in.
In the world of entertainment--books, movies, TV shows, you name it--most people just don't use the bathroom. It interrupts the flow of the story, and besides, it's sort of crass. Children under the age of four and animals are the only beings allowed to relieve themselves. And bathroom breaks aren't the only things authors and screenwriters have eliminated. Lots of common, everyday activities--like randomly sneezing, hiccupping, or asking someone to repeat themselves--is ignored. And that's the part that bugs me a little.
I don't know why we do this. I suppose authors and screenwriters have different reasons for ignoring these simple things most of us do every day without realizing it. Book authors are told by basically every writing-advice source available to eliminate everything not necessary to the plot or to character development. There went random sneezes and coughs and hiccups. But screenwriters probably have a different reason--hiccups and sneezes are hard for an actor to convincingly fake.
Coughs are another thing altogether. For some reason, the collective human consciousness associates coughing with two things: choking (on water, food, your own saliva, you name it) and dying of some fatal respiratory disease. It's almost like Chekov's gun--if a character is shown coughing, they'd better be dead or close to it by the climax.
Oh, and as far as the bathrooms in Star Trek go? Someone in Season 1 mentions some crew members being trapped in a bathroom when an inorganic life form takes over the Enterprise. So I guess that puts everyone's theories to rest.
What are some other things books tend to overlook? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to check us out on Amazon!
Alynn’s eyes refused to stay open.
She wanted to pay attention to the sermon. She wanted to prove to everyone in this strange new church that she was a proper, respectful, reverent girl. But she hadn’t eaten since yesterday’s breakfast, and St. Patrick’s Church was wonderfully dry and warm, and the rain pattering on the slate roof was so calming that she kept dozing off.
Fortunately, Mass was designed to keep people awake. Stand for the hymn. Kneel for the prayer. Sit for the Scripture reading. Stand, kneel, sit, over and over again.
This priest was long-winded when he prayed, and so Alynn fell asleep on her knees. Her father Rowan apparently noticed, because she woke up sitting on the bench. Her little brother Tarin sat next to her, but Rowan was nowhere to be found. Alynn finally saw him at the front of the now-empty church, talking to the priest. Probably asking if they could spend the night.
“I’m hungry,” Tarin said.
“We’re all hungry,” Alynn said. Her voice was unusually tired, and it made Tarin look up at her. His eyes were round and almost frightened. Alynn made herself smile at him. “You know, perchance if we had some good luck, we’d get a decent dinner tonight. Where can we find ourselves some good luck?”
Tarin beamed. “Right here! Right here!” he said, grabbing at his red hair. Everyone in Ireland knew it was good luck to rub a redhead’s hair, and nowhere in Ireland could be found hair redder than Tarin’s.
Alynn ruffled his hair. “There we go. Now let’s pray, just for good measure.”
Tarin knelt on the church’s dirt floor. “Dear Saint Mary, please pray that we’d get a good yummy dinner tonight. I want soup and bread and cheese and ham, but no seaweed, because ‘tis yucky. And then I want a good glass of milk, just like Mum used to make. Amen.”
“Amen,” Alynn agreed through the lump in her throat. It had been almost a year since the Viking had taken her mother Caitriona. Since then, the tasks of raising Tarin and keeping house had belonged to Alynn. She did what she could, but she knew that, at just nine years old, she couldn’t be doing a very good job.
Before Alynn could stop him, Tarin was up and running down the aisle towards his father. “Da,” he cried, “Da, I prayed that we’d have a good dinner tonight.”
“Good job, lad.” Rowan smiled, though he didn’t mean it. He never smiled like he meant it anymore. “There’s two weeks to Christmas. Perchance we could go wassailing soon. Would you like that? What do you think, Lynder?”
“He can go. I won’t.”
The priest gave a compassionate smile. “My child, wouldn’t you enjoy spreading the joy of Christmas with others?” he asked.
“I just want to go home and sleep.”
“’Tis because she’s hungry,” Tarin said. “She always gets tired when she’s fierce hungry.”
“We can’t have that,” said the priest. “Suppose you dine with me tonight, daughter—you and your family—and we’ll see if you aren’t ready to go wassailing tomorrow.”
“It worked!” shouted Tarin. “Praying worked!”
Alynn smiled. Her prayers usually went unheard, and perhaps this was a coincidence. But miracle or not, she was grateful.
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!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.