Posted in College, Life

10 Years of High School Reunions

If you’re not aware, I was homeschooled, which means I had a graduating class of one. Back in my first year of college, on a spring day when I needed a break, I decided to have a high school reunion. I’ve done it every year since. Generally they involve food and movies and just relaxing.

Last year was the tenth one, and I intended to put together this post then. You can see how that went. But I’m planning to have one this week, and that reminded me to collect these posts.

 

Posted in College, Life

Times I Quit

The world is full of inspiring stories of perseverance. And that’s great. Sometimes that’s what you need.

But sometimes quitting is what you need to do. And you don’t hear many people share their success stories from quitting. So I’m here to share a few of mine.


I started my school days in public school. The first few years were good. But then came fourth grade.

My two best friends were in the other fourth grade class and basically ignored me when we did encounter each other. I didn’t mesh well with my teacher. I had to get a backpack with wheels because I had so much homework my little 9-year-old body couldn’t carry it. It was rough and I was very unhappy.

One day, my parents took me to Eat’n Park and asked if I wanted to try homeschooling. I didn’t even really understand what that would mean. But I said yes. So after Christmas, my brother and I didn’t go back to public school.

It was the best thing we could have done. I think it’s highly, highly unlikely fourth grade would have been an exception. Although I am a good student and can technically handle the work, school environments are not places I thrive, and it would have only gotten worse as it became more rigid and more time-consuming and stressful. I’d have been miserable. I was so much happier and healthier with homeschooling.

I’m incredibly grateful that my parents saw that I was unhappy, decided that was not okay, and did something about it. They could have insisted I persevere and power through. Instead they chose to do the weird thing and take me out of the situation, and it was so much better.


When I was 12, my family moved. This meant entirely new people and environments, everywhere. Church. Homeschool group. Piano lessons. The library. Grocery stores. Neighborhoods. You name it. It was a lot for a shy kid who didn’t like change.

Before this, I was in Girl Scouts. It wasn’t a passion, but I enjoyed it, and I would have kept it up, at least for a while. But after moving, it just sounded like yet one more overwhelming place of getting to know all new people. I didn’t want more.

Thankfully, I expressed this when my parents asked if I wanted to find a new Girl Scout troop, and they understood. No more Girl Scouts.


I started out college in the honors program. It was good, at first. For freshman year, we had a couple classes as a group, and for the most part, that was enjoyable. Even our, shall we say, interesting science class the second semester was with this fun group of other students.

But come sophomore year, it didn’t work that way anymore. Instead, we were supposed to pick one class (or more? I don’t remember) each semester and work with the teacher to find some way to make the class an honor’s class for us. The person in charge of the program kept insisting it wasn’t supposed to be “more work” than for anyone else in the class. Just somehow… higher quality? more impressive? more in-depth? I don’t know, I never really understood it, because all it felt like was more work.

You’re extra smart! We’ll reward you with extra homework! And for what? An extra ribbon around my neck on graduation day? I’d lost the value of the classes specifically with the others in the program. There was a room that was supposed to be a lounge for honors students, which could have been valuable on a tiny campus where places to hang out were at a premium, but it was always locked and I never did find out who had a key, so it was useless anyway.

I was stressed and exhausted enough. I didn’t need this. So I gathered up my courage, walked into the advisor’s office, and politely told him I was done.

I really don’t think I missed out on much.


If there’s something in your life you need to quit, go for it. It can be the best thing.

Posted in College, Life

Great Books I’ve Read in 2021 – Part 1

One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal? by Dave Brunn
I grew up in churches where the official opinion is that using any Bible translation other than the KJV or the NKJV makes you a sketchy liberal, with the fairly recent development that if you REALLY MUST have something more modern, the ESV can be tolerated.
Not everyone attending those churches believes that. But it’s around, and it’s an attitude I find increasingly frustrating, as a variety of factors have turned me into a Bible translations nerd who reads and uses and loves all sorts. And the biggest factor was a college class where I learned a lot about how translation actually works.
I am no expert. And certainly do not have the skillset to be in the field myself. But I now find Bible translation theory fascinating and pick up books on it periodically. This is one I think would be accessible to someone unfamiliar with the subject. Dave Bunn explains terms instead of assuming his readers already know what he’s talking about. He does include a lot of charts of how different translations render words, which could get tedious, but you can skim a few entries and get the general idea.
His premise is that functionally, word-for-word and dynamic equivalent translations aren’t as different as many claim, that even the most literal translations make the same kinds of changes dynamic equivalent translations do; the difference is more in the frequency than in the kinds of changes. He’s not out to claim any certain translation makes the right call 100% of the time, but to give people who are unfamiliar with the process some practical understanding of how it works. And to point out ways having so many translations is a huge blessing the English-speaking world should appreciate.

The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma by Angela Ackerman and Becca Publisi
I ordered this book on the strength of the title alone for a friend’s birthday. But once it arrived I had to read it myself. I was so careful to keep it in good shape. And then, in a very Me problem, I managed to spill a glass of water all over it. Conveniently, we’re good enough friends that I decided I could explain the situation to her and ask if she wanted a fresh copy or the water-damaged one. She opted for the water damage. And after I’d given her the book and she knew what it was, we concluded that the book itself had appropriately been through some trauma.
This whole anecdote probably says a lot about our friendship.
ANYway. If you write and you want to put your characters Through Some Stuff, this is a useful resource. The authors cover all sorts of potential problems, as evidenced by the cover there. Each entry is a two-page spread listing examples, character traits that might develop from the trauma, potential paths toward healing, etc. It’s not intended to provide all the information you need, but to spark inspiration. At the beginning they also offer some general advice about how to traumatize characters well, as well as a kind reminder that some subjects might be difficult to read and write about, especially if you’ve experienced them, and to consider yourself before starting. I found that thoughtful.

99107Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
I don’t remember ever reading this book in my childhood. This was an oversight. But it meant I got to experience it now. It is a Delight. I love the humor. I love the Capitalized Important Words. I love the setup of a dad telling stories to his small son. It’s all lovely.
I did watch Winnie-the-Pooh shows as a kid, and I was surprised by how many stories and direct quotes I recognized from those. Props to how well they adapted stuff.
So yeah, if you also never read Winnie-the-Pooh in your childhood, I recommend picking it up. It lives up to the hype.

53236939. sx318 Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover) by Helen Yoon
In this picture book, a wolf sets out to win the trust of a flock of sheep in order to eat them. He makes himself a sheep costume and thinks he’s all sneaky as he eats with the sheep and works with them and plays with them, but they are clearly aware of what’s going on and frightened – at first. But then! The wolf accidentally makes friends.
He flees in horror. Goes home and reads books about vegetarianism (and pork).
Then there’s a knock at the door. And the sheep have all shown up in wolf costumes to bring him back.
It’s so cute! And a lot of fun. I love the wolf’s wagging tail in the illustrations.

20327961The Hobbit: An Illustrated Edition of the Fantasy Classic by J.R.R. Tolkien, adapted by Chuck Dixon, illustrated by David Wenzel
This graphic novel version of The Hobbit was a Christmas present from a friend. It’s great! The illustrations capture the atmosphere and the characters well. The landscapes are beautiful. The story is not rewritten at all; the words all come directly from The Hobbit, just somewhat abridged in places to fit the different format. But minimally abridged; my only real complaint is that since there’s so much story, the text is quite small. If you enjoy graphic novels, this is a good one to pick up.

For more book recommendations, click here.

Posted in Christianity, College, Life

Poems

Happy National Poetry Month! Here are readings of a few poems I love.

The Orange by Wendy Cope
I came across this one at a time when I happened to be especially stressed, and it’s just lovely and encouraging.

Love III by George Herbert
One professor I had for several classes in college had a powerpoint collection of prayers and poems, and he read one at the beginning of each class. I can still hear his voice reading this, and I wish I had a recording of him doing it.

Mary’s Song by Blair Linne
This poem, which imagines Mary’s reflections on finding out she will be Jesus’ mother, is performed by the author, and she brings such wonderful life to it.

Posted in College, Life

Storytime!

During my first year of college, I was supposed to go to a fancy dinner the college had every semester. I did not have transportation of my own, and my ride fell through at the last minute. I contacted a few people I knew had cars, but none of them planned to attend.

One strange thing about college culture is that it’s socially acceptable to ask for rides from basically anybody. So I put on my fancy dress and went to the dorm’s common room in hopes that some dressed up acquaintance would walk by.

I spotted someone I had a class with and seized the opportunity to explain my problem and ask if she happened to have space for an extra person. She hospitably assured me that would be fine, and, relieved, I followed her to the parking lot.

Where I discovered

that one of her friends

had rented a limo.

A limo.

A LIMO.

I’d been fully prepared to be squished into a backseat between total strangers, and instead I found myself awkwardly mooching a ride off total strangers who had a limo.

This is not how I envisioned any potential limousine rides in my life, and so far I’ve yet to have another.

The total strangers were very nice. They did nothing to make me feel more awkward than I already did, and they refused my offer to contribute to the cost of the experience.

To my knowledge, I never spoke to any of them again.

Posted in College, Life, Writings

I Save My Brother from Some Rocks

Before I get to the point of this post, some news:

I HAVE PAID OFF THE LAST OF MY STUDENT LOANS.

It’s pretty exciting. I feel like I should celebrate somehow, but I haven’t come up with anything.

Anyway. Moving on.

 

You might be aware that I love the book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. To quote my own description, “In this series, Greek mythology is around in modern times, and modern demigods have adventures and save the world and all that fun stuff. I enjoy it very much. (There’s a second series, The Heroes of Olympus, which is also excellent. Can’t recommend the ones that come after that.)” I have lost track of how many times I have read them. I have seen the recent musical based on the first book twice. And listened to the music from that musical repeatedly. (Talking about it got me in the mood, and I’m listening to it now and having Feels.)

The actor who plays Percy in the musical has been doing a live reading of a few chapters of The Lightning Thief every Thursday evening for the past few weeks, and I’m loving it. I low-key avoid audiobooks for books I love, because voices can get stuck in my head and that’s a problem if I don’t like the way the narrator reads. But Chris McCarrell is a perfect Percy, and the books are written as Percy telling the story, so it works out excellently.

I enjoy Rick Riordan’s writing style in this series. Lots of serious things happen, but the writing remains lighthearted and humorous in a great, fairly distinctive balance. I have specifically thought at times that as much as I enjoy it, I could never write like that.

Well.

My friend GG and I have an AU where we stuck our characters in this world. We placed it some indeterminate number of years after all those books so we can have the setting but do what we want. Last week I was trying to write a scene from our plot. As I searched for opening sentences and tried to figure out if I could give the writing a bit of a Percy Jackson vibe, I wondered, “Well, what could be a Percy-Jackson-style chapter title for this scene?” As I had a few ideas for that, words for the story started popping into existence – in first person. This isn’t my norm, but it felt right, so I ran with it.

Turns out I have an inner Rick Riordan, because man, the results sound a lot more like him than like my style. It was so weird and fascinating to watch it happen.

I thought I would share. Because it was fun. And if you write, maybe it can be encouragement to experiment with something new.

Disclaimer: This is one scene of a much longer plot. It’s not meant to introduce you to all the characters and events. I think it’s still reasonably understandable as is, but if you’re curious about more, ask! I’ll do my best to fill you in.

Without further ado, enjoy.

 

I wish I could say I was fast asleep, but the truth is, I hadn’t been sleeping well. It got slowly worse the longer Kieran stayed missing. He’d planned to return to Camp Half-Blood a month ago. Plans changed, but no one had heard from him either. Even when I didn’t think I was stressing about it, it was there, making me constantly glance toward the Artemis cabin and keeping me restless at night.

Anyway, maybe that’s why the silence in my cabin slowly woke me. It still took me a while to pin the blame on a lack of noise; I’d had the place to myself for so long, I hadn’t yet adjusted to hearing Tristan breathing all the time. But now I heard nothing from the direction of his bed.

I gave it a few minutes, hoping the problem would sort itself out and let me try to go back to sleep. When it didn’t, I groggily sat up and swung my legs over the side of the bed. And sat there. Come on, Caroline, I told myself. It didn’t help much.

Here’s something you should know about the Hades cabin: it’s dark at night. I’m not talking we-put-thick-curtains-over-the-windows dark; the god of the underworld does dark like no one else. This is great for sleeping. It’s not so great for figuring out why your brother has stopped breathing, so I grabbed the battery-operated lantern I keep by my bed for late night reading emergencies and shuffled my way toward the front of the cabin.

With the small light on, phosphorescent shapes began to glow dimly on the walls. Though clearly plants, they weren’t shaped quite like any plants I’d ever seen, and I assumed I would only find them if I took a trip to the underworld. As a 9-year-old alone in a strange place when my mom first brought me to Camp Half-Blood, I found them a bit creepy, but they’d come to feel homey over the years.

The cabin held six bunks, but only three had ever been claimed. I slept in the back on the right, and the bed across from me was Nico’s. Not that he used it often; I’d only met my much older brother a couple times, but the space still had a sense of belonging to him, and I didn’t disturb it other than to clean once in a while.

Tristan’s bed near the door was empty, so at least I could assume he had taken his breathing elsewhere, not stopped it altogether. But when I got close, I hit a pocket of tingling colder air and stopped in my tracks.

Shadow travel.

It left trails through the world, though they only lasted a couple hours. So Tristan hadn’t just stepped outside for some fresh air. But he might simply be somewhere else in Camp. Shadow travel made it much easier to avoid the cleaning harpies.

The shadow travel path beckoned me, cold fingers tugging at my skin, urging me to dissolve. But I hesitated. I didn’t know my new younger brother that well, not really. He hadn’t been at Camp long. And today he found out his sister was alive and on the other side of the country. A sister he grew up with and knew and cared about, not just one he happened to share a parent with. He might need some time alone to process that. I would definitely understand.

But Camp isn’t safe at night. Especially alone.

I had to check.

I clicked off the lantern, set it on Tristan’s bed, and let the shadow travel path pull me in.

I landed on a nondescript roadside. Not quite country, but the modest houses had spacious yards. A few porch lights shone dimly in the faint gray haze of the end of night. I didn’t recognize the place, but my senses told me I’d traveled west, not too far, but definitely out of Camp and probably as far as Tristan could travel in one jump. And I could feel another path a little farther on. He’d kept going.

This was definitely more than hiding for a little alone time.

I rushed back to my cabin and turned the lights on properly so I could see to stuff some supplies in my backpack. Clothes. Mortal money and gold drachmas. Flashlight. Food from the stash under my bed. A toiletry bag and first aid kit. I crammed the backpack’s quiver full of arrows and grabbed my bow, and I took a couple minutes to throw on jeans and a hoodie, not interested in venturing into the mortal world in my pajamas.

But someone needed to know where I was going. Someone who wouldn’t delay me too long trying to make plans, which ruled out Chiron. I would rather wait and get permission, some company, maybe an official quest. I didn’t break the rules like this. Ever. But the trail wouldn’t last until morning, and no one else could follow it, and someone needed to find Tristan.

So I shadow traveled to the Apollo cabin and nudged Hope and Ben awake. Hope grumbled, but we held a rushed, whispered conference, and they agreed that this was no time for delays. They promised to fill everyone else in. I promised to send an Iris message as soon as possible.

Back in my cabin, the shadow travel path pulled me through easily. Sometimes I felt more real in the shadows than I did in the real world. I spend a lot of my life partially transparent, after all. It happens when I’m not focused on my surroundings. And I’m a reader and a daydreamer and a get-lost-in-my-thoughts type, so yeah, I’m rarely focused.

As you might imagine, this didn’t work out too well for living in the mortal world. But to be honest, I’m not convinced it works out too well at Camp either. My friends are used to it, but I inevitably freak out new kids.

I got through four quick jumps before losing the trail. The misty early morning mountains where I landed might have been pleasant if not for an earth-shaking racket down the hill.

I huddled next to a tree, shoving my hands deep into my hoodie pocket for a bit of warmth in the cold fog, and tried to sense any shadow travel in the vicinity. I could feel none, and by this point I had to be only a few minutes behind Tristan, so he couldn’t have gone too far.

A crash, boom made me flinch and cover my ears with a sinking feeling. If I’d learned anything from living around half-bloods for eight years, it was that they attracted disasters. I probably needed to go toward the noise.

So, readying my bow, I crept cautiously through trees until they parted enough to give me terrifying glimpses of a rock giant kicking a mountainside. He – it? – gave some inarticulate disgruntled grunts as he got down on his hands and knees and tried to push his hand into a hole much too small for even a finger.

What was he after?

Tristan?

I squeaked in dismay at the idea, and the giant’s head turned. He clambered to his feet and lumbered toward me. This would have been a great time to be invisible, but I was very focused.

Did I mention that I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve left Camp? And that I’ve never been away alone before? Camp is supposed to be about training to fight monsters just like this, but I’m not great at most of that stuff. I’m a decent shot with my bow, but this thing was four times my size and made of solid rock. Arrows would bounce off it like pixie sticks.

No way I could fight.

But I could shadow travel.

I stepped into a tree’s shadow and sank into the darkness, aiming for the shadows next to that hole in the rock. I didn’t want to come out inside it in case I was mistaken and the giant was after an angry animal. But it got me behind the now-puzzled giant, and I poked my head into the little cave.

Tristan.

I ducked inside and said his name and got no response. It was pretty dark in there, so I pulled out my flashlight. He looked like he’d had a fight with the hillside and lost: dirt all over his clothes, scratches on his face and arms, leaves in his hair.

“Tristan!” I shook his shoulder urgently.

His eyelids fluttered. His eyes focused on me for an instant before glazing over again. “You’re real?” he mumbled.

“Yes, I’m real,” I assured him, heart aching at the idea that this was notable enough to comment on. “What are you doing here?”

“Wanted…” I thought that was all I would get, but he rallied and added, “… see Ariadne.”

CRASH. I yelped as the whole cave shook. The giant had found us again.

“I’m going to get you out of here, okay?” My voice shook, too, but I put my flashlight away, helped Tristan sit up, and wrapped my arms around him. “Hold on,” I told him, and I took us west.

Posted in College, Life

Hebrews Class Update

I finished my Hebrews class last week! I’m rather glad it’s over. Not because it was bad. It wasn’t (though I wasn’t fond of the commentary we used for a textbook). I learned some interesting things. And the teacher was very kind and flexible as they worked out the kinks of their first online class. But I’m glad to have the time and mental energy freed up.

I can confirm from this that if I’m ever going to want to go back to college for a master’s degree, the time has not come. While school technically comes easily to me, and I enjoy learning things, I don’t cope too well with the whole college format. Don’t know why.

At least this was an easier and less time-consuming (not to mention cheaper!) way to confirm that than trying to actually go back to college.

I have a more thorough knowledge of the book of Hebrews now. And I want to read some of the books the teacher referenced. So it was worthwhile, but for now I will go back to other ways of learning.

Posted in Christianity, College, Life

New Class (Singular This Time)

It’s been a long time since I sat through a class and frantically scribbled notes, but I did it last night. Though I was sitting my living room watching a Youtube livestream instead of in a classroom watching a teacher in person.

The West Virginia School of Preaching is testing out offering free online classes for anyone who wants to participate. I heard about the first one a while ago and was somewhat interested, but its schedule put it right on top of NaNoWriMo, so that gave me pause. But I continued to think about it and continued to be interested and finally decided to give it a shot.

The class covers the book of Hebrews. Yesterday was the first session and an introduction on the book’s background. There’s not a lot of homework (thankfully), so it sounds like the workload will be manageable, even alongside writing 50,000 words in November.

I have already learned some things. Hopefully this continues.

Posted in College, Life

“It Takes All Kinds, I Guess”

In my experience, we use this phrase in a confused, mildly insulting tone to dismiss people with interests we can’t fathom enjoying. But recently, I heard a much better version.

As far as I can remember, it came up in an episode of the Spoken Gospel podcast, but unfortunately, I’m no longer certain of the source. But there was a sentence to the effect of, “There is so much of God, it takes a whole human race to reflect his image.”

No one, finite person has the capacity to care passionately about as many things as our infinite God does. And that’s not a bad thing; it’s how he made us. We each do our part and reflect God in our limited way. But looking at all of humanity, we get a fuller picture of God.

It takes people who love snow and people who love heat.

It takes people who love prairies and people who love mountains.

It takes people who love oceans and people who love deserts.

It takes people who lovingly work in nursing homes and people who dote on children.

It takes people who care for dead bodies and people who bring newborns into the world.

It takes those always full of boundless energy and those who do their tasks slowly.

It takes men and women.

It takes those who heal animals and those who design skyscrapers.

It takes people who close their eyes in delight over the taste of foods from all different cultures.

It takes world travelers and homebodies.

It takes musicians and writers and gardeners and construction workers and preachers and fishermen and fashion designers and firemen and judges and housekeepers and artists and bryologists and hippotherapists and people who care about all the millions and millions of other things there are to care about in this huge, amazing, multifaceted world.

It takes all kinds.

 

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works,
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
– Psalm 104:31-32

Posted in College, Life

I Am the Last to Know, But…

One of my favorite things in college was moments when guys I had classes with found out that I play video games. They were inevitably shocked, and I found it hilarious. Apparently I don’t seem the type.

I don’t play a ton. I don’t even think I’m that good at it. But it’s fun.

I enjoy me some Mario Kart and the like now and then, but I mostly go for games with stories. My favorite remains Kingdom Hearts, which is, veeeeeeeeery basically, the story of a boy (Sora) who gets separated from his friends and travels around to different worlds in an effort to find them and help them, dealing with all sorts of other problems along the way.

Along with its original characters, Kingdom Hearts uses characters from Disney movies and the Final Fantasy video game series. One such character is Cloud. The first time Sora ran into Cloud in Kingdom Hearts, he walked by with his spiky hair and his swishy cloak and his angsty expression and I fell in love.

Some time later, while visiting a cousin, this came up, and he let me play a little of Final Fantasy VII, the game that features Cloud. I liked it a lot. And later he gave me a copy.

I started to play it. Then college interfered, and I didn’t have a way to play for a while, and it fell by the wayside. But recently I picked it up again, and I finished last night.

I am the last to know, but it’s amazing. It’s complex and it’s beautiful. I absolutely understand why it’s a classic.

Aside from it’s epicness all its own, I enjoyed noticing some of the ways it inspired Kingdom Hearts, beyond providing characters. My favorite is that some shots in the final boss scenes reminded me of the opening of Kingdom Hearts. So I went and watched said opening. I have no doubt it was inspired by those scenes. It has never made much sense, and it still doesn’t, but I understand why it’s that way now.

It made me happy.