Change is the end result of all true learning.

Hello again, dear ones. I abandon you once more.

But – like every narcissistic lover – I always reappear when you have given up hope on hearing back from me.  I use you for my own selfish purposes: vomiting ill-conceived thoughts on your blank screen, dissecting secrets amidst your black font, bruising the backspace button as the wrong words tumble down.

We both know I’ll leave. Again.

That part of me will never grow up.  I’ve written in my public diary for 3 (nearly 4!) years now and I don’t foresee myself stopping any time soon.  I’ll actually have more time for it, in just 23 days.

I’m quitting my job, you see.  My regular-paycheck-every-other-Friday, PTO and benefits, 8-4 job.  Not that I’m giving up, per se.  Just choosing a different route.  This is my gap year, after all, and I intend to live like it.

I’ll be spending a lot more time on here.  I’ll be free for the next 5 months to type what I wish, when I wish it.  I’ll be focusing on my writing and tutoring part-time.  I plan on doing daily “writing sprints,” where I will post a prompt and write non-stop for 10 minutes.  You have the ultimate pleasure of reading my uncensored thoughts, should you so choose.

I never stopped being a writer.  But I stopped identifying as one.  Well, no more.

You smile.

You truly know me so well, after all this time. And I think that’s why I keep coming back.

I’m remembering what it’s like to be human, again. I’m going to create once more, frustrate myself with my lack of inner thesaurus, drink endless cups of tea, and poke around in dusty corners of my brain.  I’m going to write – not from the heart – but from my soul and discover who I am.

I’m going to change.

Welcome to my new year.

I live in a world created by Elizabeth Bishop.

Now that I’ve finished my undergraduate degree, I suppose I need something else to occupy my time – as if a wedding, new city living, and new job wasn’t enough!

My new goal is to find happiness.

I’m not sure what this looks like for me.  To be honest, this is the first time where I’ll actually be able to do and have what I want…I just wish I knew what I wanted.

I think I’ll be spending more time here, indulging in my creative outlet.  Drinking more tea and clacking on these keys.  I’m in the process of trying to get some poetry published. Turns out, I’m not too bad at it — according to the magazines that I’ve submitted to, anyway.  I’ve made it past the couple rounds of rejections and I’m awaiting the final verdict in a couple more places.

One thing that I plan to experiment with this summer is the writing process of sestinas. It’s a rather complicated fixed verse form consisting of six stanzas of six lines each, normally followed by a three-line envoi. The words that end each line of the first stanza are used as line endings in each of the following stanzas, rotated in a set pattern (see image).
I have one in the works currently – I even have a little literary nibble to share with you.  This piece is called “Graduation” (which makes terrible sense since writers nearly always write about what they know).

Like ants swarming a hill, I marched mechanically next to you
as the teeming crowd lumped us into boxes, our bright futures
fated as our cardboard crowns perched precariously on our heads –
further evidence that our participation trophy childhoods hadn’t lost
its steeled grip on the helm that directed our prescribed paths
while we gulped anti-anxiety pills down like the rest of our choices.

I’m also practicing my editing process.  It helps when I hate everything that appears on the screen because I’m then so motivated to change it.

New goal: Write a sestina a week.

 

There is strong shadow where there is much light.

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited this place, this secret cave that has become my online home where I can hide all of my vulnerable pieces in one out-in-the-open spot.

But it seems that I have roommates.

Whenever I come back to this blog and take a careless glimpse at my stats pages, I’m always taken aback at the number of days that pass between posts punctuated by the number of people who have rifled through the words here.  I don’t mind! It just feels like someone has moved things three inches to the left – there’s just enough of a difference for me to feel awkward stumbling around, but subtle enough that I don’t realize it.

What could you possibly find interesting about this place?

I come to this bean-bag chair of a blog with the fuzzy blanket posts because I’m lonely, and I need to spend some time alone with myself, cuddling with the words of a girl who doesn’t exist anymore.

I come to this infirmary to treat the poison ivy of my soul, because out there, I scratch until I bleed and the scars freckle my skin.  There are no mirrors in this place because ugliness is part of the charm.

I come here to multi-task and cry such gut-wrenching sobs that it turns into an ab workout.  Sweat and grime only add to the decor and sweet stench of the place.

What would you possibly find interesting about that?

But to that loyal follower in the Philippines, to the fellow tea-sippers in Great Britain, to the reader who lives in my namesake city in Australia, to my remarkably large clan in India, to the salt-and-pepper shake of people sprinkled in the Middle East, to all of my silent and shadowy roommates from across the world, I say thank you.

Thank you for helping me pay the emotional rent of this place.  You’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like.

 

 

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Failure is the condiment that gives success it’s flavor.

I shipwrecked myself.

I had a goal and a deadline. I had a plotline and a series of characters that would interact with each other wonderfully and awkwardly and every bit in between. And somewhere along the way, I took a wrong turn (or deliberately ignored my GPS) and decided not to go to the final destination that I chose for myself nearly one month ago.

I had a dream of completing another novel this summer. I’m sure you guys heard about the plan in one of my previous posts — I think I even posted about it on another blog!

But I failed.

Worse than that, I made a choice to fail.

I got home every night from my second internship and told myself that after dinner, I would write. I would write because I spent at least 8 hours thinking about science and contemplating complex ideas like chromosomes and florescent DNA stains and fruit flies with legs coming out of their heads (oh, its a thing!) and I need to switch my brain into English mode.

But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sit myself down and force myself to write anything worth keeping. I tried everyday for the first week and a half until I realized that there was no possible way that I could finish 50,000 words in two and half weeks. My characters were perfect — a good friend forced me to do a writing sprint where I wrote as much as I could in 10 minutes and I wrote everything I possibly could about my characters.

Heck, the main one was actually supposed to be like me. My protagonist never usually represents me and this time, she was! Oh, I had goals. I had dreams of a witty book, full of one-liners and humor that people would try to emulate. A tale that everyone could relate to and yet was shrouded in a mist that clouded people from true understand — after all, how many people have worked with fruit flies and the segregation distorter gene?

I barely breathed one page of life into my book. And as I look upon the dwindling days of June and see July hovering in it’s sticky humidity, I wonder if I truly failed?

Don’t look at me like that. It’s true! Maybe I didn’t fail after all.

Maybe last summer was a summer of growth. Maybe it was a time where I got to do whatever I wanted in order to discover exactly what it was that I wanted. Maybe I was able to settle my roots into a new city and meet new people and see how strong my roots could be. It was a happy summer and one that nourished my creativity and inspired me to write over 50,000 words of a book that I could be at least a little proud of.

And maybe this summer wasn’t meant for any of those things.

Maybe this summer is a summer of testing. Maybe it’s a time where I don’t get to do whatever I want so that someday I can do whatever I want since I fattened my resume. Maybe it’s so I can learn how to be transplanted somewhere I didn’t expect to live. Maybe this is where I find out just how strong my roots are when things don’t go my way and I don’t know anybody. This isn’t a happy summer, but it’s one where I get to see just how much I can take and see how many gardening puns I can dig up.

And you know what? I think I can be proud of that.

Localization in the spaces of our intimacy is more urgent than the date.

It’s always warm, with a slight breeze. The sun tickles my toes and I can smell Mother Nature’s perfume lingering on sweet summer’s breath. The birds call to me like I’m Cinderella, but they haven’t tried making me a ballgown yet so it seems that they are appropriately friend-zoned.

It’s my new favorite place to write.

It’s my screened-in back porch.

I’m not sure why, but locations have always held an extreme importance to me. I’m a very visual person. I like to know where things happened; if it wasn’t meant to happen there, then why didn’t it happen somewhere else?

I still remember my first house. And the second. And when I see the third, I almost cry. When I go to my old high school, I have such strong feelings of nostalgia that I can’t even speak to anyone when I pull into the parking lot until I can pull myself together. My high school reunion might be a emotional train wreck…

I’m at my fourth house now. When I graduate, I’ll probably move into a little apartment and become quite attached to the cheap, dingy place because that’s the only I’ll be able to afford. I’m one of those stubborn trees who stick roots down deep into the dirt and cling there like a child to it’s mother’s leg when she leaves for the first time.

Maybe it’s because I know they won’t change.

And yes, I know that they do. The landscape ages like the wrinkles on a person’s face. Give it a few years and you’ll see a new mark that wasn’t there before. Trees pop up like pimples, babbling streams crinkle in the grass like crow’s feet around laughing eyes, and weeds sprout like unruly eyebrow hairs.

But it’s still the same person. Going to a new place is like meeting a stranger for the first time.

We will see how long the inspiration lasts with this new writing haven. I’d say it’s the start of a beautiful and terrifying friendship.

Aren’t those the best?

This post was also found on this site that I co-author with many lovely people.

Creativity is my favorite color.

Recycling bin
Flower stems
Freshly cut grass
Jade stones
Nauseous kid
The envious last

Pine needles
Sea foam
Leaves of oak
Granny Smith
Pod of peas
Color to go

Cucumber
Sour grapes
Can of moldy SPAM
Olive snack
Key lime Pie
Suess’s eggs and ham

Kryptonite
Mr. Hulk
Spiderman’s foe
Popeye’s roids
Leprechauns
Rolling in dough

Seaweed strands
Grinch’s face
Witch’s bulbous nose
Turtle shell
Spearmint gum
Thorny stem of rose

Grouchy Oscar
Golf course lawn
Miss Piggy’s frog
Kiwi fruit
Mint ice cream
A moss-covered log

I love this color.

Link

Once again, the press underestimates me!

Fourth article for the Beacon! Also unedited…

Theater Department prepares for “39 Steps”
by Sydney Sheltz

The Bethel College Theater Department is finishing rehearsal for Hitchcock spin-off comedy “39 Steps” which premieres Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.

The show is described as a realistic and slap-stick comedy with a fast-paced plot. With allusions to several Hitchcock films, the spy story is full of intrigue and clichés that only add to the seriousness of the international organization and the manhunt within the plot.

Junior and theatre major Sarah Beason said, “The funny appeal of the show is different from what we’ve done in the past and it’s definitely student-friendly. It’s a good show for our demographic.”

The production features a cast of four people playing a total of 24 roles. Beason has three roles as the lead female while her lead counterpart, Cam Matteson, only plays one. The other two supporting players play a total of 20 roles. Theatre Department Chair Richard Young is directing the performance.

For the past few weeks, rehearsals have been lasting three or four hours a night, depending on how many scenes the cast is working on. The rehearsals are scheduled from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. However, the rehearsal times will change from 6:00 p.m. to midnight the week before the show opens.

“We auditioned the first Monday of school and started rehearsals that Wednesday,” said Matteson when asked how long preparations for the show have been under way.

Since the story is so complex as compared to other shows, there will not be a material set on stage. There is a minimal set and only a few props to account for the many scene changes. A white blank wall has been constructed on the stage and pictures of the set will be projected onto the screen in order to create the background.

This unique aspect of the show isn’t the hardest part. “The real challenge is not laughing during rehearsal,” said Beason.

“39 Steps” will premiere Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. There will be another night showing at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. A matinee will be offered on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 at 1 p.m. followed by the final performance on the same day at 7:30 p.m.

What will Hell sound like?

I visited Hell once.

I didn’t like it.

It sounded like chainsaws gnawing through trees, it’s ferocious teeth ripping through fibers, the splinters yanked off and sent flying like so many hunks of flesh.

It sounded like nails on a chalkboard, the screeeeech gripping it’s talons around your spine and blowing it’s icy breath between the vertebrae.

It sounded like a pen rapping against a clipboard, a declaration of judgment with every hollow thud that mimics the racing of your beating heart.

It sounded like projectile vomit splashing against the toilet bowl, gurgling as your stomach protests against any sustenance and the bile bubbles within you like poison in a witch’s cauldron.

It sounded like a fire alarm, deafening your ears with the screams of panic as flames lick at the exposed skin and devour your trembling nerves and tender dermis layers.

It sounded like angry children wailing, the cries of the self-righteous railing against you and drawing the noose tighter as you struggle against the constraints to pacify the mob with empty promises that will never satisfy.

It sounded like squealing violins, their foul notes clinging to the air like the last breath of life as the bow delays the swing of the ax and prolongs the inevitable slaughter.

I visited Hell once.

I didn’t like it.

Link

Make it a double plus one.

Third article for the Beacon! Also unedited…

Bethel entertains concept of welcome center
By Sydney Sheltz

Although Bethel College hasn’t had an official welcome center since it opened in 1947, current President of Bethel College Dr. Gregg Chenoweth and the Board of Directors are working to approve a plan that would allow the construction of a new welcome center and conference space.

The idea of a welcome center is not new and has been thrown around for about 40 years.

“You can only sell nostalgia for so long,” said Dr. Chenoweth. “It fulfills both a need and an opportunity.”
The current Admissions Office was renovated from a barn that remained on the property after Bethel College was constructed. Since the college has grown, this facility is no longer large enough to accommodate all the offices needed.

Bethel College also caters to many organizations that hold conferences over the summer months. For example, Conn-Selmer, a company who specializes in the making of brass instruments, has held their national conference on campus for the past 4 years.

The goal of the new welcome center is to provide more offices for admission counselors and financial aid, offer more areas for graduate and adult studies, and present a new conference space that could hold 400-450 people from visiting organizations.

The new welcome center would potentially be attached to the Dining Commons, across the street from the Wiekamp Athletic Center.

The current concept of the two-story building would split the floors. The top floor would combine the conference center and office space. The bottom floor would hold more office space and include a student community center.

“I want students to be able to get together and hang out, play cards, and watch movies,” said Dr. Chenoweth when asked for the reason behind the addition of the student center.

Currently, the plan only consists of schematic drawings. Upon approval, architectural drawings would take another 6-8 months. Construction of the building would last one year after that.

The project will be split into two phases. There are not enough details at this time to determine the two phases.
The total estimated cost of the project is 7 million dollars. All money will be raised through philanthropy and approximately 3 million dollars has already been pledged. Bethel College will not take on any debt during this project so that student tuition will not be affected.

There are safety policies to keep the college from taking on too much debt. For example, when an idea is approved by the Board, 115 percent of the funds must be pledged or raised. Before construction on the same idea has begun, it is required that the college have 75 percent of the cash in hand.

Nevertheless, Dr. Chenoweth said, “I am prayerful and hopeful that in a year’s time, we would have enough commitment for at least the first phase.”

The specifics of the idea have not been worked out at this time and the Board has not yet approved of the concept.

What will Heaven smell like?

I have this feeling that when I go to Heaven, my olfactory glands (or whatever they are called) will explode. This might be a good thing because we will have perfect bodies then and maybe God’s idea of perfection is a noseless face. Maybe, after all this time on Earth, we will go to Heaven and find out that noses were a result of the Fall!

…But maybe not. Maybe we will still have noses and I will be assaulted with celestial scents so divine that they will clear out my sinuses for all of eternity.

I hope it smells like communion. I hope I will be enveloped by the smell of fresh bread, still warm from the galaxy-gas ovens. I hope there will be a sickly, sweet stench of red wine that permeates the atmosphere.

I hope it smells like dryer sheets, like the godly garments that He has freshly folded out of the Elysian laundry basket. Whenever I get dressed, I hope that that clean smell with always tickle my nostrils, teasing me and reminding that I have narrowly escaped the earthly curse of never-ending laundry. Now I shall suffer no more.

I hope it smells like bonfire, like the acrid malevolence of the splintered cross succumbing to the sulfurous flames. I hope the faint smoky smell with follow me wherever I go, clinging to my hair like the ghostly presence of a nearly forgotten friend. In fact, that’s how I got here.

I hope it smells like dude. Not a bad dude smell, but a good dude smell. I hope that whenever I give God a huge hug, that the rich masculine smell of my Father would pat me on the head as I go about my day. I hope that whenever I give Jesus a fist-bump, some of his essence would linger on my fingers — not a sweaty, awkward, “when-did-you-last-shower?” smell, but a comfortable big brother smell that beckons a smile to my face. And whenever the Holy Spirit greets my with a holy kiss (because that’s His thing and everyone just goes with it), I hope it’s accented with the teasing spice of expensive cologne — strong enough that the musk is noticeable but not so overpowering that you can’t breathe.

I hope that Heaven smells like communion, dryer sheets, bonfire, and lots and lots of dude.