callistahogan: (Default)
In Maine, there is a certain tradition that drives me absolutely batshit crazy.

And this tradition is when people from Maine go to a warmer spot for Christmas.

I just can't understand it, no matter how hard I try. I just can't wrap my head around it. To me, Christmas is primarily a celebration of Jesus' birth, sure, but it is also about sitting in a nice, warm home, listening to Christmas carols, looking out the window Christmas morning to find snow, and bundling up in warm clothes to open presents. I associate Christmas with snow, a downy blanket that covers every tree. I associate Christmas with hot chocolate, sipping it slowly to savor the warmth that is in such sharp contrast with the weather outside. I associate Christmas with bundling up in my coat to go to my maternal grandmother's house, the weight of an warm apple pie or a bag of presents firmly held on my lap.

I distinctly remember a Christmas years past, when we were coming back from my Nana's house. It had been snowing for a while when we were opening presents, and it was just getting into the blizzard stage when we made our way home. I was probably around seven or eight at the time, because my niece and nephew were not yet part of the celebrations up in Maine. The thing I remember most about that Christmas was the way the snow would swirl in front of the blackened front window, one moment seeming like it would come right through the windshield and hit me in the face with cold and wet, the next falling down gently, like it was in no hurry. It seemed like it would snow for ages, coating the earth with white.

And that is the only thing I remember about that Christmas. I don't remember the presents, I don't remember the food, I don't remember the conversations we had. All I remember is the snow. All I remember is that wonder I felt when the snow was falling down, and how it seemed so pure and perfect -- so very Christmas (and Christ!) like.

That is why I can't imagine not having a Christmas in Maine, where there is at least the possibility of snow. The idea of having Christmas somewhere warm, like Florida or the Cayman Islands, is foreign to me, because Christmas and snow are so intrinsically locked together in my mind that I can't see it any other way. I can't imagine ever having a Christmas where it wasn't at least cold, where it didn't feel like winter.

Christmas needs snow, just like snow needs to come near Christmas or I get sick of it.

Am I the only one who feels this way? Does anyone else need to have snow or it just doesn't feel like Christmas? Also, what other Christmas (or other holiday) traditions can you just not understand? I'm sure we all have one. :)
callistahogan: (Default)
I haven't really been posting enough to justify this as any sort of timeline of what went on during 2009, but I'm doing it anyway. Just because. I bet most of them will be book reviews (which I will get back to in 2010, I promise, and maybe even before that, although I lost count).

January: Wow, it feels so weird to be able to write that once more. Like I said, the beginning of a book review. Loved, loved, loved The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, by the way. It comes highly recommended!

February: Before I start, let me just say that I am counting the 400 pages of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell I read during the last three weeks, because I am not about to just throw those pages away. More book reviews. Saying what I could about what Barack Obama has been doing in office for the past eleven months, he sure can write.

March: I broke up with my boyfriend on Wednesday. Oh, please don't make me relive this experience again. Why must I always choose the boyfriends who end up being bastards in the end?

April: Ugh, I am sick. I also wrote a bit about Outlander and To Kill a Mockingbird. My goal for 2010 is to finish the Outlander series, since I only have... three left, I think? I can't believe I also read To Kill a Mockingbird twice, once on my own terms and the other time for school. I just finished it a week or so ago.

May: I have five Dreamwidth codes, if anyone's interested. I don't think I've posted on Dreamwidth once since then. Just because I don't know anyone, and I'm a little timid when it comes to making new friends. If anyone has a Dreamwidth, though, you can add me here, and I'll try to post more. I know there are some features I like there that Livejournal doesn't have, although LJ will forever be my home.

June: I just have to do this meme. I don't know why I said I had been in a band. I don't remember my thought processes.

July: So let's just pretend I haven't been AWOL for three weeks.

August: I can't believe that summer is almost over. Ah, reminisces about my boyfriend and my summer.

September: Okay, so I actually have a legitimate reason for not posting for... two weeks again. Nothing interesting here, just moaning about school work

October: I have not, as of yet, stopped being friends with a person just because they share different political views from myself. Writer's block response. I loved that post.

November: Votes for Question 1 in Maine are being tallied as we speak. I still remember being so excited -- even though I didn't put it into words at that moment -- when No on 1 was winning. 

*sigh* Maine, what am I going to do with you?

December: "Daaaaa-aaad, come up and kiss me!" All of you have probably already read this by now.

I am looking at my Archives right now, and I am noticing how bare my calendar is. I desperately need to start posting more. I'll start right now, and hopefully for 2010, I'll be able to write more.

I also want to start my book reviews again. I got out of the habit of doing them, but I want to start them again. I'll be finishing Frankenstein sometime over Christmas break, so that'll probably be my first new book review.
callistahogan: (Default)
So this is my first time begging this season, but I feel it's warranted. :)

My entry this week was not my best, and understandably, I am right at the bottom. One vote either way could either keep me in by the skin of my teeth or kick me off the island, so to speak, so please, if you could, go here and drop a vote for me? I would be forever grateful and I am going to make sure I don't have such a terrible week next time!

Thanks so much to those who have already voted for me!
callistahogan: (Default)
I've never been what one would consider a reprobate.

In fact, I pride myself on walking the straight and narrow, keeping my head up high, fists at my side, eyes straight ahead. I have goals that I would do anything to achieve, and every step I take leads me closer to those goals. I don't make trouble, instead withdrawing into the background and being the perfect little student that never does anything wrong. My father probably doesn't know what to do with me, because I am by far the quietest and most well-behaved child in our family. I (very rarely) throw fits; I am world-conscious. By everyone, I am considered the perfect Christian daughter.

And indeed, I am. It's something I consider myself to be as well.

I am in sharp contrast with my oldest sister, Rhiannon*. She was born probably in what could be considered the golden age of my parents' marriage, before my mother got sick, before the rest of us came along, before everything just imploded in on itself when I was in fourth or fifth grade. Shortly after she was born, however, was when my mother got sick. I suppose, thinking back on it now, that is how things went wrong, because Rhiannon had to grow up in a situation that was anything but stable, when my mother got incredibly sick.

I don't remember what my sister was like when I was young, because by the time I was old enough to have memories of her, I hardly ever saw her. She was sixteen when I was around two or three. She was like so many of those teens I see now, who hang out with the so-called "wrong crowd," drinking and smoking, hanging out with someone more than twice her age. She started to date someone who was about thirty to her sixteen -- and she ran away when I was around three or four.

The only time I remember seeing her before she got pregnant was when she and her boyfriend took me to Funtown in Saco, Maine. I was probably three at the time, and all I remember of that time was me going down the enclosed black water slide and being terrified out of my mind, along with going back to their apartment and eating Burger King.

That is the last time I remember seeing her for all of my early life, except for one fuzzy moment at Christmas, when she came with her daughter, who was one and a half at the time. There were some web cam conversations, but never anything more than that.

She is the reprobate of our family, or at least that's what she can be considered. Although she ended up telling my other sister about Christ, I've never seen her act quite like a Christian. She is the black sheep, separated from the rest of our family. We all love her, but she doesn't quite... fit in.

She had two children out of wedlock, with a man who was about double her age. She is not completely deserving of the term "reprobate", but in terms of my family -- my conservative Christian family, with their strong moral standards -- she deserves reprobation. She goes in different circles from the rest of us, constantly getting into bad relationships, hanging out with "the wrong crowd," dubbed so by my parents and brother.

None of us are sure what she's doing nowadays.

She is a tattoo artist living in New Hampshire, but that's all we know. We know little to nothing about her life. For all we know, she could be a reprobate in the true definition of the term, rather than a reprobate in terms of being less morally "upright" than the rest of my family is.

We just don't know.

The difference between me and Rhiannon is striking. While Rhiannon seems not to have a plan, I have a whole ten-year plan all figured out. Get through the next two and a half years of college, get into one of those liberal arts colleges, get an English degree, and start teaching. Get married eventually, maybe have a kid. My sister, however, is completely different. She never got her high school diploma, had two kids before I was ten, and her only discernible ambition was to become a tattoo artist.

But her path is not wrong. Just different. I do wish she would come to church with us, get in touch more, but there's nothing I can do. The last time I saw her was this past summer, and that was only for a weekend. I saw a glimpse into her life, and she walks with those people my family (and my church) would consider reprobates.

She is not herself a "true" reprobate, though, and for that I am grateful.

--

* Name changed, as always to protect the innocent.

This has been my entry for [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. Not sure about this one; I'm not in the habit of writing, I guess!
callistahogan: (Default)
"Daaaaa-aaad, come up and kiss me!"

Every night, that was my motto. I would trudge up to bed and get cuddled up under my covers, waiting for my dad to come up and place that whiskery kiss on my forehead before falling asleep. I remember it most clearly when my sister and I were sharing a room, and she was with her boyfriend. It was about eight o'clock, and like clockwork, he would come up, kiss me goodnight. If he didn't, my night did not seem complete.

I grew out of it, but somehow, somewhere along the way, years later, I find that I do not like being touched.

I don't know why, but it just happened. It might have happened because of my parent's divorce (which is a long story for another time) or it might have been something I was born with, because I don't remember wanting to be touched much before that. It's not that something happened to me in my childhood, because nothing did.

I just don't like being touched.

I shy away from it, in fact.

This becomes a problem every get-together, when my family expects a hug and I don't feel comfortable. It's for a reason I don't understand, but I try to pull away as quickly as possible. It is especially uncomfortable with my mother -- because although I love her, I hardly ever see her, and there's an illogical part of me that blames her for breaking our family apart -- but it turns out that I have to grin and bear it, pretending that it doesn't bother me.

My best friend, M, once had so much crap going on in her life -- and she still does, as a matter of fact -- and I hugged her then. With my ex-boyfriends, I didn't mind the physical contact, but regardless, sometimes it made me uncomfortable. Even though I don't always prevent physical contact outright, I don't actively seek it out.

I prefer words, although I don't always have the right ones. I prefer showing my affection in a different way. However, my family is completely different. Most of them are very affectionate, wanting hugs whenever we meet, which I oblige with. I realize that sometimes, I have to sacrifice my own personal comfort for other peoples' joy.

I realize this most clearly when I see my mother.

The last time I saw her was at Thanksgiving, when we went to my sister's house for dinner. My stomach was tied in knots throughout the whole thing, because I realized that my boundaries would get pushed once again. I know she's my mother, I know that she needs to know I love her, and that's one of the major reasons why, when I hug her tightly, I don't feel uncomfortable.

I don't see her that often, and when I do, it's only for a couple of hours.

And if one touch from me will make her healthier and happier, then my personal boundaries go right out the window.

--

Gosh, this entry was hard to write. I guess I'm just out of practice. Anyway, this entry is for [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol . I hope you enjoy, and please vote for me. I hope to have a chance to continue writing!
callistahogan: (Default)
Well, I had an amazing Thanksgiving. Some awkward moments with my sister, but otherwise, it was a great day.

Of course, now I have to spend all my time tomorrow concentrating on coming up with a lesson for youth group on Saturday. I think I can come up with something; I just need to find a song to go with my lesson, because I feel that music helps the message hit home a lot better than my own words can.

Speaking of songs, I just started to listen to a new song by Kutless, a Christian band, and it is amazing. Even if you're not a Christian, I'd recommend listening to it. Or at least look at the lyrics, because the lyrics are absolutely beautiful.



Lyrics )

To me, this song epitomizes what Christian faith SHOULD be like, but often isn't.
callistahogan: (Default)
Last year, one of my extracurricular activities involved being part of a small, three to four person book club. Run by our local Youthlinks, the club centered primarily on reading banned books. On the first day of the club, we received a list of all banned books, which included such classics like The Catcher in the Rye and Lolita. We were each instructed to pick five of the books we wanted to read during the six week period, and then we would decide on the two or three we would actually be reading.

Our first book was The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Heather* and I had both wanted to read that book for quite a while, but neither of us had gotten around to it, so it was exciting for us. We got to read a book that we had heard so much about. We knew about the controversy surrounding it, how the Californians had wanted to ban the book because they felt it portrayed the people of that time in an unsavory light. We knew about the Dust Bowl, the Okies, and how they had struggled each and every day for a way to survive. We knew the Okies were a fleeing people, and we knew the Californians were just ready to catch them and beat them down once again. I thought maybe it would have been better if they had stayed in Kansas or Texas or Oklahoma, because at least then they wouldn't get their hopes up about the chance for a better life.

So we started reading it. It was slow going at first -- I couldn't get used to the dialect, and I got distracted by the ragged copy of the book I had received -- but once I got into it, I really got into it. I got caught up in the story of the Joads and their struggle to survive. I felt their pain, empathized with their struggle, and found myself enjoying the book. Although there was one thing I could not understand.

Why in the world was the book banned?

Sure, it did not portray the residents of California in the most savory light, but why would it? Everyone alive during that time knew what was going on. There are numerous historical accounts, both written and spoken, that express the same thing that The Grapes of Wrath does. After the book came out, there was an overwhelming agreement with what Steinbeck spoke. The ending scene of the book was also questionable, but it was by no means graphic. Nothing in the book was graphic. Instead, it seemed like an honest portrayal of the time back then. It was full of heart, with a good Christian message.

So why in the world was it banned?

Because a group of people claimed that it bore false witness. They claimed that it did not speak the truth as it was, and instead demonized a particular group of people -- when we know now that their belief is anything but true.

My view is that it is not the book that bears false witness, but rather it is the people trying to ban it that bear false witness. The Grapes of Wrath expressed the struggle that the Okies felt and expressed it in an honest way that did not attempt to sugarcoat the truth. It exposed the world as it really was back then, and I'm positive it was even worse for other families.

This goes for all other banned books.

We recently read The Catcher in the Rye in school. While I could see people banning this book for its language and content (specifically the scene in which Holden hires that prostitute), a good message is present. It exposes the phoniness of the world today, shows how people try so hard to fit in with society, to grow up and be an adult. It tells us that people are different, and that by having a different face for everyone we come across, we are being hypocrites. Holden bemoans the phoniness in his life, but he is phony himself. The book exposes the hypocrisy and the phoniness in today's society -- but people cannot see that because they do not look beyond the swears.

As a writer, I go to books to escape to a different world and uncover some truth that I might not have known about. I go to books to see the world as it really is, without the rose-colored glasses that I so often wear. I go to discover a section of culture that I did not know about before. I go to learn about life.

But I ask: How can I learn about life -- how can anyone learn about life -- if there are books we cannot read?

I strongly believe that each banned book has something we need to know, something that we need to understand. Take Lolita as a prime example. It is a heinous book, full of terrible viewpoints and a truly villainous main character, but do people really believe that there are not people like that in today's society? Because I know there are, and by banning the book, it is like sticking your fingers in your ears and singing "lalalalala" whenever something bad happens.

So often, life is sugarcoated. People like to think that nothing bad ever happens, so they can exist in their own little bubble. But bad things do happen, and saying anything contrary to that is bearing false witness and omitting details people don't enjoy thinking about. By not allowing teenagers especially to learn about life as it truly is, how do they expect us to grow up to be upstanding members of society? If we do not learn now about what life is like, then we can't expect to know what to do when we get thrust into the world at large, where people do starve, people are pedophiles, people are phony assholes.

Books are often a window into the souls of the unsavory, a portal to the dark things we do not want to know or think about.

But if we do not think of them, we exist in a bubble.

And eventually that bubble will be popped, you know, so better sooner than later, in the comfort of your own home.

*Name changed for protection purposes.

--

This is my entry for week 5 of [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. Thanks go to Writer's Block for giving me inspiration for this topic; otherwise, mine would be quite cliched!
callistahogan: (Default)
It started out like any teenage romance, all awkward smiles and covert glances and small gestures, like paying for my lunch when I didn't have any money or buying me some candy at the store when we all went together as a group. We hung out together, playing Lord of the Rings Monopoly, shooting small smiles at each other across the board, teasing each other whenever we lost, and when we finished the mural project we were doing for the library, that was the true beginning.

The day after we finished the project, we walked down to the beach. We held hands the whole way there, then placed ourselves on the benches that overlooked the ocean. We watched the parents lounge on the beach as the children splashed in the surf, and then he pulled me into his arms and let me lean against him, his arms around my waist, my head against his shoulder. It marked a first in my life: first cuddle, first time being with a guy who actually seemed to like me.

He was my first kiss.

I remember the moment perfectly. The day before, we had walked to the town's lighthouse, then walked back to the beach. We had cuddled under our tree -- the thing I remember most being the heart-shaped leaves that I would pluck from the branches -- and there had been moments where we had almost kissed. But neither of us were ready for it yet, so he simply held me.

"Do you want to go out?" he asked me after there had been silence for a few minutes. The sunlight streamed down, warming my back. I kept my eyes trained on the beach.

"What do you mean?"

"Do you want to go out with me?" he asked. "Be my girlfriend?"*

I felt a smile twist up my features, and I moved closer to him. "Yes," I said. "Of course."

The next day, we had our first kiss -- and for all the build-up to it, all the worrying about it, all the research online about how to know when it was the right time**, it happened quickly, so quickly in fact that I didn't know it was happening until it did. And the kiss was awkward, uncomfortable, nothing like what I had read about in books. Suddenly, his lips were on mine, and we were kissing, and my brain went on overdrive, thinking a thousand thoughts a minute as I tried to figure out what to do, where to put my hands, how to keep the kiss going, how to finally break away when I needed to breathe.

That day, we kissed several times. Each time, it was shy, hesitant. Neither of us really knew what to do, and there was more than a little awkward positioning, teeth clanking together, nothing quite like the fairytale kiss I had always imagined my first kiss to be like. But truth be told, it was perfect.

As I walked home that day, lips still tingling from the pressure, I couldn't stop the smile spreading across my face. I felt a spring in my step, to use a cliche, and I couldn't stop smiling. My lips could still feel the pressure, my waist could still feel the way his arms wrapped around me. I remembered the way time had flown when we had kissed, when it seemed like we had only just started kissing and in reality, ten minutes had passed.

It was a typical summer romance, full of kissing and cuddling and losing ourselves in a relationship that we knew would end eventually. The relationship involved talking on my cell phone until almost all of my minutes were gone, then talking on the wireless phone for hours on end. It involved me waiting for him to come back from his lakehouse, waiting to see him again. It involved careless kisses under our heart tree, him pulling me closer.

The relationship did end, in one of the worst ways possible, but like all summer romances, the beginning and the middle were moments that I would not take back for anything in the world.

It was an awkward relationship, full of stops and starts and silences and tickles and talks and kisses, but that was what made it beautiful. And looking back on it now, it was far from perfect, and far from a whirlwind relationship. But as I remember us kissing under our tree for the first time, I can't help but think that what we had was beautiful.

It might not have lasted forever. In fact, I did not want it to last forever. But there were moments of beauty and compassion and, yes, even love, and because of that, I refuse to look back on the relationship with regrets.

Even if he did break up with me over the answering machine.

--

* Not exactly the right words, but I don't remember that conversation as well as I could have.

** I'm a dork, I know, but it's true. I did look up "How to have a first kiss" on Google. And I found some awesome advice there, by the way.

--

This was my entry for week 4 of [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. I hope you enjoyed it.
callistahogan: (Default)
The weeks leading up to November 3 were conflicting ones for me.

Wherever I looked, I could see Yes on 1 and No on 1 signs peppering the green lawns with yellow, white, and more green. As the vote grew closer, I could hear more people talking, and depending on where I was, the opinions differed widely. At church, everyone seemed to be pushing for a "Yes on 1," but everywhere else, on TV and in school, on news websites and LiveJournal, seemed to be pushing for "No on 1."

On my Facebook, the majority of the people are Democrats. Every day, I see several people join the "Gay Equality for Maine" groups and yet, at the same time, there are quite a few people who are Republicans. Most notably, my sister, my brother-in-law, and the people I know from church often get into debates via comment threads about whether or not gay marriage should be legalized, culminating in an end result wherein both parties end up hurt and upset.

During those few weeks after the intense furor started, I kept my head down. I did feel a slight twisty feeling in my gut whenever I saw one of those "Yes on 1: Stand for Marriage Maine" signs or when I heard my pastor talking about how we had to go out and vote for what we felt was right, but I did not mention it. I started growing more anxious as the elections grew closer, and I found myself asking my father what he thought the results would be.

He thought the results would turn out exactly as they did -- and I felt an even twistier feeling in my gut when he said that. I just nodded and didn't say a thing, although I almost wanted to.

And so November 3rd came around. I was anxious, nervous. I saw my best friend's sister join two events: "Wear red if Maine votes No on 1" and "Wear black if Maine votes Yes on 1." I hovered my cursor over the "RSVP to Event" button, but I ended up not clicking on it. Not because I didn't want to, but because I didn't have a black top to wear. It seems a petty reason, but otherwise I would have clicked it with little hesitation.

There was less conversation in school about the election that day than I thought there would be. I thought there would be a huge uproar, teachers talking about it left and right, students talking about it all through lunch, but it was surprisingly quiet. In fact, I was surprised when I seemed like the only one nervous about it, although I was sure I was not the only one. I found myself waiting for nine o'clock to arrive, when the votes would start being tallied. I brought up numerous vote-tracking websites, finished all my homework, and then perched myself in front of my computer to wait.

I waited.

And waited.

Imagine my shock when I started getting excited about the results when I checked around 9:30 PM and No on 1 was winning by quite a big percentage. And imagine my shock when I realized I was disappointed when I woke up the following morning to find out that Yes on 1 had won.

This is coming from the girl who, no more than a year ago, was about as conservative as a person could possibly get. I was the girl who stuck her head up her arse just a few months ago when I learned that same-sex marriage was legalized in Maine. This is coming from the girl who grew up in a family where everyone either would have or did vote Yes on 1.

I never expected it, but I have grown up. I have realized that everyone deserves the same rights. I have realized that everyone deserves the chance to see their loved one in the hospital. I have realized that every partner, straight or gay, should have first rights if their partner has died. I have realized that, although I believe that love is not the best support for gay marriage (because love does wear off in most cases), I believe that rights are. And there are intrinsic rights involved in marriage that I believe everyone should receive.

So one fact remains, a fact that I have just learned about myself.

If No on 1 had won, if gay marriage was legalized...

I would have smiled -- and worn more red than a person would believe a girl could own.

--

This entry was written for week 3 of [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. I took a risk this week, but I'm happy with this entry!
callistahogan: (Default)
Votes for Question 1 in Maine are being tallied as we speak.

At this point, it could go either way. Right now I am trying to access the live-blogging site here.

Edit: Better site is WCSH6 here. No on 1 still winning.

callistahogan: (Default)
Humble beginnings.

Is that not where most people say the best stories start? With the girl (or boy) coming from the family with nothing except the love they hold for each other in their hearts. The girl (or boy) goes headfirst into whatever is required of them, because they know it is the right thing to do. They know that they have a chance to make something of themselves, to give themselves a name, to show the world that they are not just the same as the cookie-cutter people around them.

I am that girl.

My family is traditionally Baptist. Every member of my immediate family is a Christian, although the eldest has strayed a bit. My mother and my father taught us to love and trust in both ourselves and in God, and my sister has taught me so much about life. My family has not always had the most money in the world, and in fact there were some years when I wasn't sure we would even have a Christmas. Just a year ago, we had to struggle just to have one real meal in a day, not counting school meals.

Regardless, my family has always urged us to pursue our dreams.

A framed photograph of my father's has the following inscription on it:

"A dream fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

Whenever I look at the photograph, I remember every ache, every itch, in my body that is telling me to write, to get my words down on paper. I remember the way I was inspired to write my very first story that I never finished, and the way I got so angry with my brother when he "accidentally" wrote over it with something else. When I was 9, I wrote my first Harry Potter fanfiction, and it is so horrible that it makes me cringe to think about, and yet I love that little story because without it, I would not be the writer I am today -- not even halfway close.

I remember the joy I feel whenever my fingers fly across the keys and I feel words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters and stories coming together. I remember sitting with my dad in restaurants and brainstorming, and then sitting in a coffee shop with my best friend, figuring out the nuts and bolts of a novel that I believe has bestseller potential. I see myself as an author, of holding that one book in my hand, and feeling that heady rush --

-- and then I am reminded of how far away I am.

Except I know that it does not matter how far away I am.

All that matters is that I keep trying. All that matters is that I don't give up on NaNoWriMo this year, because the feeling is unlike anything else in the world. It is an uphill battle, trying to keep myself going, and sometimes it feels like I am going up and succeeding in my dreams when I am really going uphill the wrong way. I end up trying to make my writing perfect, which is impossible on a first draft. That's something I have to realize.

And I do.

Writing piles of crap is sometimes the only way to go about things, just as trudging up a steep mountain to get to the top is the only way you can see where you really are. And if you go about it with nothing but the fluff inside your brain and your birthday suit, then I'm willing to make a fool of myself. There is nothing more humbling than realizing that you can't go about anything, let alone writing, with extra baggage weighing you down and making you try to be perfect so that you do not mess up again.

Being overly cautious is often unhelpful. Just like you can't go up a mountain with a hundred pounds of gear, you can't go into your writing with a ton of baggage and no place to put it. Sometimes you just need to put everything away and let yourself go. Sometimes you need to remember your own humble beginnings, remember where you came from, and know that sometimes it is better to just be free to run up that mountain.

So why not run up the mountain stark naked, screaming with pure joy?

--

This entry was written for [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. Hopefully you will vote to keep me in. I had a lot of trouble with this entry, but I'm fairly happy with what I came up with. Hopefully it's enough to pull me through. :)
callistahogan: (Default)
I might take a bye for this week of LJ Idol. I just have no idea what to write, and the entry is due tomorrow. Eek. :(
callistahogan: (Default)
I go through cycles.

It all starts when I am at my lowest point. I find myself not being interested in anything. Schoolwork is boring, TV is routine and monotonous, reading is uninteresting, and writing? Well, my logic is that if I don't have any inspiration, then I'll have nothing to write about, so why bother? And my faith? Psh. That's on hold.

After a few weeks (sometimes even months) of this, I end up getting fed up with myself. I glance at my schoolwork and see a small spark of something ignite, and I wonder if perhaps there's more to this pile of bull my teachers give me. I read an amazing book review, and think that I might want to read that book sometime. And I stare at an empty word document, feeling the words roar up inside me, growing louder and louder, but my fingers just remain stationary on the keys.

That is when the magic happens -- when something occurs and makes the passion flare back into my life. It might be an interesting homework assignment, an original TV show, or an idea that makes me want to race to my computer and start writing as soon as possible. It might be a lesson my sister or brother-in-law teaches us in youth group, when I feel so guilty for being lukewarm and not going out there, being the person I feel God wants me to be.

When I get to this point, it feels as though nothing can get me down. I am happier, more excited, feeling that nothing in the world can possibly bring me down if I have a good book by my side or my fingers on the keys, flying across them faster than I believed possible. My sister and brother-in-law comment, noticing how I am getting out and doing more things. I force my father to listen through endless tirades about my dream of being published or my gushing about that fantasic television show I am watching at that moment.

Yet, deep down, I realize that this phase will not last.

And it doesn't.

Everything starts turning routine, no matter how exciting my habits were at the beginning. I find myself bored with the story I'm writing. I finish the book I'm reading and can't get into the next one, no matter how hard I try. School is boring and embarrassing in turns, and I fall behind in reading my Bible. My sister and brother-in-law ask me to do something, and my answer is: "I don't know. Maybe next time." My father and my brother ask me if I have started writing my original novel yet, and I say, "Not yet. Maybe next month or the beginning of next year."

I promise my sister and brother-in-law that I will be active. I will change, I promise. I do mean it too, when I say it. I see the friendships other teenagers my age have, and I am jealous. I feel like the outsider, like Charlie Chaplin's character in Gold Rush, who just didn't fit in with the rest of the population. So I make a vow to get out there and make friends. I will talk to people. I will be nicer, and speak up in class. I will ask if I could be on the praise team at my church. I will audition for the school's spring play, I will be the lead character in the skit we will be doing in youth group.

The only problem is that I never end up doing any of it.

I am dedicated to starting anew. I am determined to become the person inside of me that is trying to come out (pardon the cliche). I want to take risks, but in the end, I never do. I say I will, and then I end up procrastinating. I say "I'll do it tomorrow" and "Not this time, maybe next time." I say I'll go out and do things tomorrow. I promise that I'll read my Bible tomorrow, or that I'll stop baiting my brother next week.

But I don't. I end up maybe doing good things for a while -- reading my Bible, reading amazing books, writing until my heart's full to bursting -- but it never lasts.

And I'm left with a handful of empty gestures.
callistahogan: (Default)
...but vote for me?

I'm in tribe 1, and I'm doing fairly well so far. However, if you have a few extra seconds, go ahead and read through all the entries and vote! There are some awesome introductions!


Um.

Oct. 13th, 2009 07:56 pm
callistahogan: (Default)
So.

I accidentally spilled something on my school laptop about two or three weeks ago. Up until now, it has been working perfectly fine, but yesterday, when I went to type something, I realized that the p and the 0 keys did not work. I thought that was the only issue, but I restarted the computer to see if that would help, and apparently my start button does not work either.

Okay, so I am freaking out.

This is my school laptop, and I don't want to know what they will say when they find out I've ruined it. Is there ANYTHING you guys could think of to do in order to fix it?
callistahogan: (Default)
Compared to most people in this competition, I have had very little life experience. I am a teenager, not yet halfway through my high school career. I have only been outside my home state once and that was when I was much too young to remember it. I have lived a very sheltered Christian life. Most of my time I spend holed up in my room, reading novels, surfing the Web, and contemplating the sad state of the world today.

There is not much I can tell you about my past, because to be honest it is a lot like my present. Sure, I am a little older, a little wiser, but I am still just a girl. I am a girl who is trying to find her place in this world, and a girl who finds it increasingly difficult to do so. I read to escape to a different world -- just as I did at eight or nine, when I read the Harry Potter books for the first time. I write to express myself, to show the parts of myself that I often do not let anyone else see. I yearn to show the world what I have to offer, and to show people that I am so much more than a stereotypical teenager.

I am proud to call myself an Independent. As you will see if you read my journal with any regularity, I used to be a Republican, but after seeing the pointlessness of the whole Republican/Democrat war, being an Independent seemed like the choice to make. That doesn't mean I am not a strong Christian, with strong Christian morals, because I am. It simply means that I prefer to form my own opinions, without worrying what either party is saying. I don't want to feel pigeonholed into believing this is the solution to that, or that this is the only solution to that other thing.

Perhaps the most important thing you need to know about me is that I am a writer.

First and foremost, my goal in life is to be an author. Not necessarily a published author, although that would be nice. I just want people to read something I have written and feel something, whether it be sorrow, joy, or maybe even confusion. If just one person looks at what I've written and is touched by it, then in my mind, writing a hundred stories to get to that one touching moment is worth it. Writing is the way I show people who I am, and without it, I wouldn't be where I am today.

I have been writing since I was about six years old. It suppose it all started in first grade, when I learned to read (or when my teachers first started teaching us how to read, that is; I was probably reading before then). I remember wanting to write, although I wasn't sure how at the time. My first story, which was written in second grade, was entitled "A Sour Skittle Story" and underwent several alterations as time went on. It was never finished, and for a while, writing was on the back burner until I started writing fanfiction. Bam, the passion was back.

That was six years ago.

I have been writing for more than half my life.

Perhaps that's why I entered this competition in the first place. I am a writer who yearns to tell people who I am, and what better way to do that than being in a competition of this magnitude? 

I want to tell people about standing on a picnic table in front of my apartment when I was three or four after my family's washing machine broke. I want to tell people about sleeping in my own room in first grade, with the bugs attached to the window and the cockroach I found on my blanket that one night. I want to tell people about taking speech lessons in third grade, and being disappointed in fourth when my teacher didn't seem to like me. I want to tell people about fifth grade when I met my best friend, and sixth grade when I truly became friends with her. I want to tell people about seventh grade, when I spent a whole month researching creationism and evolution and writing down page after page after page of Internet articles. I want to tell them about my experiences in English classes over the years, and how my teachers have -- in one form or another -- showed me what I have to do to fulfill my dream.

To be honest, I just want to tell people the fact that I am a fifteen-year-old Christian Independent girl who has dreams too big for her heart, and a heart too big for her mind.
callistahogan: (Heart Icon)

I am participating in LJ Idol this year!

I first heard about this competition last year, via [info]kiwiria, and after seeing how much fun it seemed to be, I have decided to go ahead and sign up for this coming season. I am probably certifiably insane for attempting this, considering NaNoWriMo starts next month and I have heaps of schoolwork to do, but I am determined to at least try this year.

I am not sure how well I'll do -- there are so many amazing writers who competed last year, and there will probably be even more this year -- but I'm looking forward to contributing my two cents to this game.

*holds onto her seat*

Here I go...

callistahogan: (Default)
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I have not, as of yet, stopped being friends with a person just because they share different political views from myself. There have some situations where I felt uncomfortable in a friendship, and perhaps didn't talk with them for a period of time to calm my temper, but never have I ended up leaving a friendship because of differences in political views. I find that speaking calmly and rationally about issues makes me understand more clearly where other people are coming from, and for that reason, I enjoy hearing about people's opinions that are different from my own.

This fact is of course helped by me being an Independent. To be honest -- as I've said numerous times before -- the whole liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republic battle is pointless. If anything, they are the ones tearing apart our nation together, not the ideals that the two hold. I feel that there is a compromise on every major political issue out there, from abortion to gay marriage to the health care debate (that I have admittedly not been following). If we could only reach across the aisle and talk through our issues, not getting offended when people say something we don't agree with, then we might actually get somewhere.

I illustrate this point. Just a year and a half ago, I was the most conservative Christian Republican you can imagine. I was a creationist. I was pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and staunchly in favor of John McCain for the presidency. Now, at fifteen, there are only two of those views I still hold and those are the facts that I am a Christian and a creationist. Everything else has been -- and will still be -- changing. I am no longer the naive Republican. In some ways, I am still naive and ignorant about many things in the world, but I realize that. I realize that there are things I need to learn more about, things that I don't have the whole story on. I also realize that Republicans and Democrats both have views on these issues, and both of them have good points and bad points.

That is exactly why I am an Independent. Not only do I think that the polarization in the government is tearing our country apart at the seams, but that it can be changed if people would just listen to what other people have to say. Republicans have pertinent words to say about abortion, homosexuality, religion, and health care, if we would just listen. Democrats have pertinent words to say about abortion, homosexuality, religion and health care, if we would just listen. If we would just listen to each other and find out a compromise, then maybe our country wouldn't be losing respect everywhere.

What did George Washington and the other 55 delegates do at the Constitutional Convention when they disagreed? They didn't force the other side to acquiesce to their demands. No, they compromised. When the larger states like Virginia wanted Congress representatives according to population, and the smaller states wanted everyone to be equal, what did they do? They penned the Great Compromise: the House of Representatives has representatives according to population, while the Senate has equal representatives for each state. Neither of them got their way -- not entirely -- but they got what they wanted, didn't they?

Take the Three-Fifths Compromise as well. While the very idea of something like that actually being in our Constitution at one point makes me sick, they compromised on that issue. Neither of them made the other side agree to their demands, instead compromising and creating a solution that makes everyone happy.

Compromise worked back then, so who's to say it won't work now? Nothing. It would work, but people are so locked into their views that they can't bother looking outside their own little box. I am guilty of that, but I am trying as hard as I can to see other peoples' viewpoints. That is what I feel being an Independent allows me to do: to become an observer, an outsider, reading and hearing about the two parties and their viewpoints and forming my own, independent opinion.

This is just a very long winded way of saying that: no, I have never stopped being friends with a person just because they have different political views than I do, and I probably never will. As a writer, after all, I relish in the idea of seeing all sides of an issue and putting my own spin on it. The only possible way I would stop being friends with a person because of their political views would be if they were an unashamed racist, for example, or if they supported something heinous like partial-birth abortion.
callistahogan: (I write.)
NaNoWriMo is starting again in a month, and I have absolutely no idea what to write about.

I am definitely doing it this year, although I will need to have more structure to my schedule in October/November to make it work. My Bio teacher had the idea of making a spreadsheet, laying out every half hour interval and scheduling in stuff like homework, etc. That way, I can move things around and make sure I don't procrastinate. I can do my homework for an hour, say, do something fun for a half hour, then do my homework, do something fun, and on and on. Schedule in some eating time and TV and bam, I'm good.

That will help me structure November, that's for sure. I'll probably get around to building one of those spreadsheets by the weekend.

However, I have no ideas what to write about for NaNo this year. I'm toying with the idea of a Greek-style original novel, but that idea doesn't really appeal to me because I would never be able to pull off something as awesome as Greek, my new favorite TV show. Other than that, I have no ideas. I might do something that's fantasy, I might do a romance, I might do something sci-fi-y, something realistic, pretty much anything. I might even go into it with nothing but my new brand-new Mini laptop, but that idea is not appealing to me.

Does anyone have any ideas? Give me a character, a line, a phrase, something you like in fiction, something you don't, and maybe that will jog my creative impulses.

Regardless, I can't wait! NaNo is always so much fun! And this is my fourth year running! Let's make it four for four, shall we?
callistahogan: (Default)
I'm going to get my mini laptop within three to five business days!

Woot!

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