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 Christianity, Life

Life in Bible Times Projects

This summer at church, we have put all the kids together to learn some things about life in Bible times. I was put in charge of writing and language related topics and used this as an excuse to get around to some projects I’ve wanted to do for a while.


First, the failed project. Deep in a box in the shed was buried a kit for making papyrus I received as a gift probably more than a decade ago. How cool is that? Why did I wait so long to make use of it?

You soak the papyrus, and roll it flat, and soak the papyrus, and roll it flat, several times. Then layer the pieces and stack heavy things on them and let them dry.

It was really interesting to see it change texture during the process, but by the time it completely dried…

Yeah.

I can see how it would work. It’s very thin now, and in places the pieces do stick together. But obviously this is not right. Perhaps it was too old to work properly. Perhaps I did something wrong. Who knows. But I’m glad I finally tried it anyway.


Also while learning about writing, I smashed up some pottery to let the kids write on potsherds. It was more fun than you might expect.


And the project I’m very pleased with:

Is this completely historically accurate? Absolutely not. Do I still love it? Yes.

I made the prayer shawl, which was pretty simple, the main part is one big rectangle. Then embroidered the letters on the blue part. This was a little harder; I can’t write Hebrew. So I printed it out and pinned the paper to my fabric then embroidered right through it. The tedious part was getting the paper off. I recommend wetting it and letting it dry, then tearing it away gently. And having something with a small point like a seam ripper nearby to pull at the pieces that get stuck.

I purchased the tassels for the corners, as well as a leather strap and 3D printed tefillin/phylacteries. Watched some Youtube videos to figure out how to tie the straps and put them on. And then became a VERY HAPPY NERD.

We certainly could have looked at pictures of these things. But as I said, I’ve been wanting to do this for quite a while anyway, so the class gave me motivation to make it happen. I loved putting this on and getting an idea of how Jesus might have felt doing so.

For the kids, I gave them small foldable boxes and let them decorate them, then we put in slips of paper with one of the verses that go in tefillin printed on it (I used Deuteronomy 6:4-9). At Walmart I found a roll of two-sided velcro for organizing cables, and it worked great to cut a piece sized to each person’s arm, and cutting small slits for the velcro at the bottom of the boxes let everyone wear their phylacteries.

Resources I used:
Printable Hebrew phrase for the prayer shawl: https://www.judaiquilt.com/How_To_Make_A_Tallit.html?fbclid=IwAR3WKo7KcRCwHex0BYG342fIY4vZg79jhSmYuH0t4ksmOPzkP89p623uWbE
Tassels: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1121250170/tzitzits-4pc-thin-wool-threads-choose?ref=yr_purchases
Long leather strip: https://www.etsy.com/listing/643735514/cow-leather-lace-super-soft-and-supple-3?ref=yr_purchases
The 3D printed tefillin were also from Etsy, but unfortunately they are no longer available and neither is the shop. I guess I got them just in time.
Videos for tying tefillin knots: https://www.youtube.com/user/danrabbi/videos
Putting on tefillin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvmRQimCtn4

Posted in Life

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag, 2022

I’m bringing this back from a couple years ago. It’s just time to talk about books. Again, I’m mostly limiting this to fiction.

1. Best book you’ve read so far this year and 2. Best sequel you’ve read so far this year
Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire is the sequel to Middlegame, one of my favorite books from last year. When I finished Middlegame, I didn’t want to read the sequel, because I liked where it ended and didn’t want to mess that up. But it turned out Seasonal Fears focused on different characters, so I changed my mind. It follows two teenagers who have been best friends/in love their whole lives, who get drawn into a competition to become the next incarnations of summer and winter. The characters from the first book are involved a little bit, but not so much it messed up the end of their story. I found some of the ending a bit anticlimactic, but there was plenty of great stuff along the way, so I didn’t mind too much.

3. New release you haven’t read yet but want to
56890307. sy475 New might be a strong word; David’s Crown: Sounding the Psalms by Malcolm Guite came out in 2021. But I haven’t read it yet. This is a collection of sonnets inspired by the psalms, with one sonnet for each psalm. Each one begins with the last line of the previous poem. I heard the author talking about it in an interview, and he said he had to start at the end of Psalms, because the last poem ends with the first line of the first poem. I think this is so cool, and I love Malcolm Guite’s work. A copy is sitting on my shelves at home, and I’m planning to read it soon.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of 2022
61156253To my knowledge, none of the authors I follow have anything coming out in the second half of 2022. But I went looking around, and I’m interested in Dream Small: The Secret Power of the Ordinary Christian Life by Seth Lewis. All I know about it is the publisher’s description, so here:
“We are all looking for significance and meaning in our lives. The world tells us that this comes from dreaming big, achieving personal success, and making a big impact. But the Bible says that self-worth is found in knowing our Creator, and contentment is found in discovering his purpose for our lives.
This book reminds us that when we know Jesus, we are free from the world’s definition of success. We can listen to God’s word and direct our dreams towards the things that he says matter most, even if they are small and unimpressive in the world’s eyes.
Celebrate the dreams God has for us: serving others, investing in individuals, and living faithfully. Although these things seem small, their impact will be bigger, and their rewards will be better, than anything we could dream for ourselves.”

5. Biggest disappointment
57184818. sy475 In the 1960s, an adoption agency in New York City purposely placed identical twins in separate homes without telling the families and then studied them. Which is, of course, horrible, no one should do that, but I think what they learned from it is probably fascinating. Unfortunately, Deliberately Divided: Inside the Controversial Study of Twins and Triplets Adopted Apart by Nancy Segal does not go inside the study at all. The people who conducted the study had the records sealed in a university library until 2065. Not at all indicative that they knew they were doing something sketchy and didn’t want to deal with the fallout… But this means there’s no inside information to be had. Most of this is interviews with the twins and families who were involved and how upset they are about it. Which, sure, that’s an important thing to do, and you can’t wait until the records are unsealed to do it because they’ll likely be dead by then, but I don’t think it’s what the book promised. It was also very repetitive. It was 400 slow pages and could have been much more concise and interesting.

6. Biggest surprise
51166217I talked about The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard in my post Great Books I’ve Read in 2022 – Part 1. I think I really needed something to read when I found it on Hoopla, and I didn’t anticipate how much I would like it. It’s a different sort of thriller, and I stayed up way too late finishing it because I needed to know what happened.

7. Favorite new author
Malcolm Guite, mentioned above.

8. Newest fictional crush and 9. Newest favorite character
57189884. sx318
My brother recommended the series He Who Fights With Monsters by Shirtaloon to me, and I’ve been listening to the audiobooks. The reader is fantastic. The main character, Jason, unexpectedly wakes up in a whole different world, one with magic and monsters and his own personal video game interface. Jason quickly becomes an official adventurer and picks up lots of friends. My favorite combination so far is:
– Jason, in his early 20s, New To This but getting quite competent with his odd and threatening abilities (keeps getting asked if he’s the guy with evil powers, insists they’re not evil), cheerful smart-aleck who makes friends with pretty much everyone and is excessively prepared.
– Humphry, teenager who just became an official adventurer, from an old and wealthy family, has trained for this his whole life but is kind of clueless about normal people, rather preppy.
– Clive, who I think is closer to middle age, worked in a civil servant-type job for quite a while and has been getting reluctantly dragged into actual adventuring by Jason, keeps revealing that he has surprisingly powerful abilities, very much a nerd who gets excited about learning weird things.
I love Clive. Clive can get the newest favorite character slot. If I were picking one for crushing, that can be Humphry. Clive has a girl I think is becoming his love interest, and I support them.

10. Book that made you cry
57593991The Untold Story by Genevieve Cogman is the last (at least for now) in The Invisible Library series, which I love and have been eagerly following for several years. Overall I didn’t think it was the best book in the series – there was a lot of information gathering and not a lot happening for most of the book – but I still enjoyed it, and the ending made me emotional.

11. Book that made you happy
54911057. sx318 I loved Fangs by Sarah Anderson, a tiny little collection of comics about a vampire and werewolf falling in love. It’s SO CUTE. There’s not really a storyline, just illustrated little moments, and I think it works well that way. It’s very short, and I read the whole thing in one sitting. Took it back to the library the next day and recommended it to my boss, and she also read the whole thing in one sitting. Occasional inappropriate humor, so fair warning, but overall this was a delight. I would be happy to get more.

12. Favorite book to movie adaptation you saw this year
The only one I can think of is Death on the Nile. I have not read the book, so I can’t compare, but I enjoyed the movie. It was very pretty. I loved the Egyptian scenery. To be honest, I thought the solution to the murder was a little obvious, but that’s all right.

13. Favorite review you’ve written this year
I don’t think I’ve written any particularly stunning reviews this year.

14. Most beautiful book you bought this year
57311791. sx318
Perhaps Every Moment Holy Volume II: Death, Grief, and Hope by Douglas McKelvey. It’s perhaps not stunningly beautiful, but I don’t actually buy many books (that’s what libraries are for), and in person it has a lovely texture and feel. And it has a ribbon bookmark! Always special.
Also, I highly recommend both this book and the first volume (simply titled Every Moment Holy). They are collections of prayers for both normal and difficult moments in everyday life, and they are excellent.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
I am ever-so-slowly working my way through The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien when I hit lulls in library books. It’s excellent, I love it, but it’s very slow going. I certainly hope I finish it before the end of the year!
I want to read Waiting on the Word by Malcolm Guite during Advent.

Posted in Life

An Update at Last,

but I didn’t get the job. My boss was very nice and let me cry in her office and assured me my interview was fine and she thinks I’m perfectly capable, but someone with a master’s degree also applied and was technically more qualified. So.

They have offered me instead the reference job they’re hiring for, still at my current branch, and the same sort of pay raise as the teen job. I’ll probably take it. And will probably come around and appreciate it. But at the moment it’s disappointing.

Posted in Christianity

“You Have Permission to Not be Anxious”

I wish I could remember where I read this, but that knowledge is long gone. But though the source has not, the idea has stuck with me.

I think our world contains a lot of pressure to be stressed. There seems to be the implicit message that if you’re not upset about every single bad thing in the world and constantly worried about all the worst outcomes, you’re probably stupid, or you don’t care about anyone else. Or maybe both!

But that’s not what God says.

God says, over and over and over and over and over and over and over (and over), “Be anxious for nothing.” We can take this as an order we should never break, becoming extra anxious with guilt every time we get anxious, but I think there’s plenty of evidence in the Bible that grief and stress are reasonable in our broken world, and God wants to comfort and encourage when they get to us, not chalk it up to, “Well, that’s one more sin I’m forgiving.”

But he doesn’t ask you to feel that way.

It doesn’t always help. But sometimes remembering to look at things this way is exactly what I need to feel better.

Doesn’t it kind of sound too good to be true? It’s not! You are allowed to go about your day calm and content while everyone around you worries about everything. You really, really are.

Posted in Writings

Fight for Us Together

A few years ago, I shared one of my short stories about some siblings growing up at their dad’s questionable military school, Hold as Long as You Like, but I realized I never shared the sequel. They’re all grown up now. Ash has a job as security for a wealthy businessman. Maggie is their dog, and I think that’s the only unexplained thing you need to know.

 

With his backpack looped over both shoulders, Blaze moseyed across his college campus. His last class let out early, so he didn’t have to hurry to the next one today.

His route took him through the lobby of the main building, where a larger-than-usual crowd clustered around the TV that constantly played there. Glancing at the screen curiously, Blaze stopped in surprise at a picture of Gavin on the news. He edged closer to hear.

“…less than an hour ago,” the newscaster was saying, her tone concerned but business. “Local millionaire Gavin Reid was visiting Chicago on business when it happened.”

The screen cut to footage of Gavin on the front steps of a building, shaking someone’s hand, with Ash beside him, alert, watching. Ash’s eyes caught something, and he tensed, already moving. Then the crack of a gunshot and Ash shielding Gavin and Blaze was 14 again, watching his unshakable older brother crumple to the ground.

Back to the newscaster and the picture of Gavin.

“We have no information yet on the assailant. Ash Harker, part of Mr. Reid’s security team, has been hospitalized-”

Class forgotten, Blaze ran.

 

He stopped first at the room where Kai typically waited when he drove Blaze to school. Kai jumped to his feet the moment Blaze burst in. “What’s wrong?” he demanded.

“Ash,” Blaze choked out. “It was on the news. Someone shot at Gavin, and Ash… All I heard was that he’s in the hospital.”

Kai’s friend Alex was already shoving Kai’s books and phone into his bag. He held it out to Kai, who took it and said numbly, “Star. We need to get Star.”

Blaze nodded. “She’s next. You were closer.”

“Anything I can do?” Alex asked. Kai looked at him and shrugged helplessly, so Alex gave him a shove toward the door. “Go get your sister.”

Blaze rushed toward the car, Kai’s footsteps echoing behind his, not slowing when Kai said his name. But then Kai grabbed him in a tight hug and Blaze had to stop, had to turn and hold on and hide from the video clip playing on loop behind his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Kai said.

Blaze couldn’t reply. He didn’t need to.

A moment later, they were running again.

 

“I’ll drive,” said Blaze.

“You sure?”

“I can’t sit still anyway.”

Kai handed over the keys.

But Blaze also had to call Star, and even as he started the engine, he was dialing the pet store where she worked, phone pressed to his ear, whipping out of the parking space.

“Pet Supplies Plus.”

“Hi, can I talk to Star? This is Blaze.”

“Sure, just a minute.”

The minute felt like forever, but he didn’t even get off campus before Star answered, ending the hold music. “Hey, Blaze, what’s up?”

He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t. He could feel Kai’s eyes on him and almost handed over the phone, but instead he swallowed and forced words out. “Hey, Star… sweetie… have you seen the news?”

“No?” He could hear the spike of panic in her voice.

“Don’t look. You don’t want to. But… Ash is in the hospital. Someone shot at Gavin, and Ash got hurt getting him out of the way. That’s all we know.”

Silence.

“Kai and I are on our way over there to pick you up.”

“Yeah. Okay.”

“I love you.”

“Love you.”

Then Blaze did hand his phone to Kai. “Let me know if there’s anything from Gavin.”

 

When they pulled up to the pet store, Star was already outside and talking on her phone. She flung herself into the backseat, and Blaze stomped on the gas. “It’s Gavin,” she whispered, sliding to the middle and leaning forward between the front seats. Listening to Star’s tense side of the conversation, which told him nothing, Blaze drove, heading toward home, more from habit than decision.

Finally Star hung up. Kai turned. Blaze kept his eyes on the road.

“Ash is alive, but not awake,” Star said, and Blaze’s hands clenched tighter around the steering wheel. “Gavin’s okay. They caught the shooter but haven’t told Gavin anything about him yet.”

“Why didn’t he call us?” Blaze demanded, his anger pulsing in his fingertips and jaw.

“This was the first chance he had. I’d already tried to call him three times before he called me. It really hasn’t been that long since it happened.”

For Star’s sake, if nothing else, he didn’t want to be angry with Gavin, so Blaze shoved that away to think about later, hopefully more objectively. “We need to get out there,” he said.

“Gavin is working on plane tickets. He’s going to send me the information as soon as he has it.”

The airport was a ways away, and they were low on gas. Blaze turned right at the next stop sign to head to the nearest station.

“What about Maggie?” Kai asked.

Blaze swore and bit his lip. Who did they know who would take care of the dog?

Anything I can do?

“Text Alex.”

Kai nodded and reached for his phone.

“Has anyone called Milla?” Star asked.

“Not that I know of,” said Blaze.

She sighed heavily. “I will.” But her phone vibrated before she could dial, and she took a minute to read the message. “Next flight to Chicago leaves in two hours,” she announced. Blaze whipped into the gas station and leaped out. They were going to make that plane.

 

It took two miserable plane rides, one miserable layover, and one miserable taxi ride to reach the hospital. Gavin, surrounded by multiple police officers, met them at the entrance, and Star ran to him, hugging him fiercely. Relief over his safety had been battling with fear for Ash since Blaze’s phone call, and for this moment, relief overwhelmed everything.

But before she even let go of him, Gavin brought the fear crashing back, saying loud enough for them all to hear, “He’s still in surgery. No news since I last texted you.”

Star sagged a little since Gavin could hold her up. All this rushing just to wait more. She’d known this would happen, but she desperately wanted her brother, just to see him breathing for herself.

“Did you hear anything about the shooter?” she asked as she stepped back.

Gavin shrugged. “Someone high and ranting on and on about the horrors of capitalism and wealth.”

Star rubbed his arm.

Gavin and the police officers led them to a small waiting room, one with locked doors, not open to the public. Two couches in an unfortunate green, a silent TV mounted on the wall, no windows. Kai curled up in the corner of one couch. Gavin collapsed on the other. Blaze paced.

They all needed her attention. Kai hadn’t spoken since asking about Maggie. Blaze had to be reliving the last time he’d waited in a hospital for Ash. But Star had been with them the whole long trip, and she didn’t know what else to do for them right now, so she sat beside Gavin.

“I’m so sorry,” he told her. “I know this is why I hired him, but nothing like this was actually supposed to happen. I was supposed to just be paranoid and ridiculous and…”

When he choked over his words, crying, to Star’s horror, she cupped her hands around his face. “This is not your fault. I’m not upset with you. Whatever happens, I won’t be upset with you.” Star gently traced her thumbs across Gavin’s skin. “Ash protected you because he cares about you, not because it’s his job. It’s okay to be grateful.”

Gavin didn’t say anything else, just put his arms around her, and Star was glad, because she had run out of words.

 

Blaze hadn’t paced in the tiny waiting room long before he escaped to pace the hallways instead. This was not a day to be still, and he’d forced it long enough on planes. It killed him that he could do nothing helpful. He at least had to walk.

But when he found himself staring out windows at Chicago but seeing the city around the hospital where he’d done this before, he made himself go back, stopping at a vending machine along the way and collecting a whole horde of candy bars.

Back in the waiting room, Star and Gavin talked in low voices, intent enough on each other to make Blaze more jealous than he wanted to be. He worked hard to be okay with sharing his sister. Usually he managed it. Today was not usually.

Sitting beside Kai, Blaze silently offered his candy selection. Kai took a Snickers. Blaze opened one, too, but he didn’t eat it, just stared at it. Stared until he whispered, “I’m really glad I’m not alone this time.”

Kai looked over and then put an arm around him, gripping tight, and Blaze closed his eyes and took a bite of his Snickers.

 

Kai expected Ash to look a mess. That didn’t mean he was prepared for it.

Ash tried to be himself. Kai could see the pained, exhausting efforts. He insisted on careful hugs. He said encouraging things. He told Gavin it wasn’t his fault before Gavin said a word.

But his words slurred, came too slowly. A few sentences seemed to do him in.

There weren’t enough chairs in the room. Gavin fixed that. Kai curled up in one and left it as little as possible over the next few days.

Blaze ran errands, and sometimes he made Star go with him, fetching food from the cafeteria, finding nearby stores for toothbrushes and clothes and anything else someone decided they needed. The two of them coaxed Gavin into attending a few of the scheduled meetings that brought him to Chicago in the first place. They met Milla at the airport, took her back when she had to leave. They didn’t get Kai farther than a few short walks up and down the hall. He didn’t want to be in that room with Ash a shadow of himself, but he didn’t want to be anywhere else either.

There were new cuts down his arms.

He knew he worried everyone. He tried to care. He couldn’t quite manage it.

For the first couple days, Ash mostly slept. He would wake up for a little while when the pain meds started to wear off, groggy and hurting, until the next dose knocked him out again. Kai knew Ash hated it, he could tell in Ash’s short bursts of awareness, but he’d also listened to the doctor’s list of important organs the bullet hit, and he knew Ash’s body needed the relief.

But wounds began to heal, and the doctors began to ease up on the drugs, and Ash began to look alert when he was awake.

One of the first times it happened, Kai was alone in the room, on his phone, scrolling through his texts from Alex. His friend kept sending him pictures of Maggie, and someday he would have to figure out how to tell Alex how much he appreciated it.

“Hey, Kai,” said Ash.

The phone clattered to the floor as Kai sprang to Ash’s side. “You’re awake.”

“Yeah, I think so.” Ash reached toward Kai and caught his wrist, and Kai let his own fingers curl around Ash’s wrist, suddenly grateful for the new hoodie Blaze had bought him because the hospital was freezing. Ash didn’t need to see his arms right now. “You look as bad as I do,” Ash told him, trying to smile.

Kai had seen a mirror lately; Ash had not. “I definitely don’t.”

“Are you okay?” Ash asked.

“Not really.” Kai sat on the edge of the bed. “But you’re more important right now.”

Squeezing Kai’s wrist, Ash said, “I love you.”

Kai didn’t try very hard to fight the tears that formed at that.

He stayed where he was, holding on to his brother, not talking much, until a nurse arrived with another dose of painkillers. And then he still stayed while Ash lost his fight to stay awake. And a while longer, because he could.

 

Ash wanted to go home.

He wanted to sleep when he chose to.

He wanted to see Milla. Technically he had, and he’d supposedly talked to her multiple times, but he only remembered smelling her perfume and her soft lips pressed lightly to his.

He wanted his siblings to look less traumatized.

Even before any doctor told him what was going on, he had known this was worse than last time just from seeing Blaze’s face. Star later told him Blaze saw the footage of the shooting, alone and unprepared, and Ash still needed to get Blaze to talk about that.

Right now none of them were around. With Ash awake and able to add his encouragement, Star and Blaze finally talked Kai into leaving the hospital for some fresh air. But they left Gavin so Ash wouldn’t be alone.

With the lap desk that went most places he did, Gavin was plowing through some of his endless important paperwork. But the pinched lines between his eyebrows and the white knuckles clenched around his pen weren’t things Ash saw often. He didn’t think they came from the paperwork.

“Gavin?” he said.

Gavin started and his head shot up. “You need anything?” he asked.

Ash shook his head. “I just wanted to tell you… I’m so glad you’re not hurt.” He’d been trying not to think about the moment of the shooting, because even now, remembering the rush of fear for Gavin when he spotted that gun made him nauseous.

Gavin’s eyes went wide. “You’re… You’re glad I’m not hurt? When you almost died?”

“It’s worth it,” said Ash simply.

“It’s not. Your family is-”

“Important,” Ash interrupted. “And you’re important, too. You’re my best friend and I love you.” He didn’t know exactly when the short list of people he would get in the way of a bullet for had started to grow, but Gavin had made the list even before Milla. Ash had known that long before this incident. Apparently he hadn’t filled Gavin in.

Gavin stared, mouth agape, eyes suspiciously wet. Putting his paperwork aside, he stood, paced closer, away, closer again. At last he reached to take Ash’s hand, awkward but determined. “Thank you,” he said hoarsely. “I hoped I might be finding a friend that day I emailed you, but I never could have expected such a great one. I… love you, too.”

Ash smiled and squeezed Gavin’s hand before letting go. “For the record,” he said, “I am also relieved that I didn’t die,” and Gavin laughed.

 

Home felt good, and Blaze could tell he was starting to relax. Maggie had attacked all of them with love and was now glued to Kai’s side. Milla had come by before they arrived to make sure they had food and things were relatively clean. She stayed to greet Ash with hugs and tears before she left to let them rest.

Ash collapsed into bed the moment Milla was gone, exhausted even though he’d slept through most of the flight home. He would still need a million doctor appointments, but all the doctors in Chicago said he was recovering well, and Blaze hadn’t seen any reason not to believe them.

Star said they should leave Ash alone. Blaze listened for a while. But he needed a nap, too. Besides, if Ash really wanted left alone, he could have used one of the extra bedrooms.

They still had bunk beds. They could have spread out in the other rooms, and occasionally it happened, but mostly Blaze didn’t see the point. He felt safer with his siblings close by, and obviously he was not the only one.

Ash usually slept on a top bunk, so right now he was asleep in Star’s spot. Blaze didn’t make any particular effort to be quiet as he entered the room, and Ash stirred and woke. Blaze felt a little guilty, but mostly relieved; one of the worst parts of the hospital stay had been watching his brother who heard everything sleep through so much noise.

“Blaze?” Ash mumbled.

“Sorry,” said Blaze. “Go back to sleep.”

“You okay?”

He knew better than to try to lie to Ash about that. But right now, as he climbed into his bunk and hugged a pillow, it didn’t feel like a lie to say, “Yeah. Yeah, I’m good.”

“I’m glad,” said Ash, and Blaze smiled as he settled in to sleep.

Posted in Life

Pictures from Last Week

I spent last week watching this cute and snuggly puppy, Lady.

Very unimpressed that I wouldn’t let her eat the cat’s food.

Pretty turtle. I did my best to not let the dogs eat it.

And Saturday I went to a Bastille concert! We ended up with a great view of the stage. The concert was great. I loved the creative lighting. I don’t know their newer stuff as well, but I was at least familiar with about half the songs they performed. I got most excited by Good Grief and Things We Lost in the Fire. My phone camera isn’t cut out for this sort of thing, but this one came out okay.

If you don’t know Bastille, Overjoyed and Warmth are my favorites, though sadly neither of them came up at the concert.

Posted in Life

Today…

I have an interview for a new job. It’s at the library where I currently work, but they’re creating a teen librarian position, and I applied.

Prayers appreciated! I’m not (yet) as nervous as I could be, but I’m still somewhat nervous.

I shall provide an update next week or whenever I have one,

Posted in Thoughts

Mummies!

I recently read a book about Egyptian mummies. I came to a picture of the mummy of Ramses II, the Pharaoh most commonly associated with the Exodus, and the one used in the movie The Prince of Egypt. I looked at this picture and thought, “Hmmm,” and looked up pictures from the movie.

Look at that! Look at the jawline! The shape of the nose and cheekbones! Clearly the animators used the mummy as a reference.

I dug deeper. Here’s his dad, Seti I.

His mother is Tuya, and it seems her mummy is no longer around, but there are statues of her.

I got very excited as I tracked all this down. I think it’s SO COOL. It had never even occurred to me to wonder if they based the characters’ appearances on the actual people. The more I learn about this movie, the more impressed I get.

Posted in Writings

Lost My Place

Storytime today. This one is from a setup where characters are mythological creatures or the like.

Kieran read. Lina listened.

He started bringing books when he found out she hadn’t seen a new one in centuries. She could not take them into the library she guarded to keep while he was gone, so he read them to her instead. She didn’t mind; the books gave them words when they were too shy to find their own.

They sat at the edge of the forest, as far as she could go from the library, beneath the welcoming shade of an ancient oak in the hot summer afternoon. Heat and itchy grass were not her favorite things. She could have stayed intangible and not felt them. But having Kieran around made Lina want to feel real again. She’d gotten in the habit of letting herself touch things when he was there.

That gave her moments like today when their hands ended up side by side in the grass, just touching. When it first happened, she lost track of the story, and not only because Kieran stuttered.

But neither of them moved away, and Kieran read on.

She could have stayed like that forever. But the unwelcome sense of an intruder made her jump.

“Someone’s here,” she said quietly. Kieran had sat up, and she didn’t know if he’d reacted to her reaction or heard something himself. The newcomer had entered her territory on the other side of the library, but she’d long ago lost track of how normal senses worked. She sighed and slid her hand atop Kieran’s, letting her fingers trail across the back of his hand as she stood. “I’ll go deal with them.”

“Be careful,” he said.

“I will.”

And she disappeared.

She always knew when someone arrived at the library, even if she was asleep. And she had to talk to them. If she didn’t, she got sick and miserable; she knew, she’d tried resisting. If they failed to answer her riddles correctly, she could ignore their presence if they showed up again, but newcomers always required her attention.

She’d had many years to test out the nuances of the magic that held her to this place.

The man she found circling her library was a familiar sort; a travel-worn scholar, maybe an alchemist, greed gleaming in his eyes as he anticipated all the knowledge he would surely gain in mere minutes. He carried a gun and prowled like a hunter, searching for the guardian. She never knew exactly what they expected to find, but she heard bits and pieces of the rumors that circulated in the world, and they never quite expected her.

She sighed inwardly before reappearing just enough to look solid, asking quietly, “Who comes to my library?”

He jumped and spun to face her, peering through the bright sunlight. “Why, you’re just a girl,” he said, a smirk growing on his face as he lowered the gun.

“Why are you here?” she asked.

He straightened and cleared his throat, proclaiming importantly, “I wish for access to the Library.”

“Then first you must answer my riddles.”

It went the way it always did. Few people missed the first riddle. This man made it further than most, but not to the last question, the one nobody had ever answered.

But like so many, when he failed, he got angry. He pulled on the library’s door and kicked at it and swore, but nothing budged. Then he rounded on her and raised his gun. Long ago she would have flinched, but not now. “You cannot enter,” she said. “You may leave.”

“Not without getting what I came for,” he growled. “Let me in.”

“I couldn’t if I wanted to. It’s impossible.” Usually at this point she would disappear and let him take out his anger on the unyielding building, but she wanted him to walk away so she could return to her quiet afternoon with Kieran. “Please go.”

He swore again and he fired. And she found out Kieran had not stayed where she’d left him.

If he could have touched her, maybe it would have worked. Maybe he would have knocked them both out of the way. But he hit empty air where she should have been and the bullet slammed through his solid heart and her intangible one.

She gasped and dropped beside him as he collapsed, already bleeding far too much.

“Kieran.” She pushed her hands against his chest and had to pull away and try again, making herself solid. “No. Oh, Kieran.”

With great effort, he caught her wrist and pulled one of her blood-stained hands to his cheek, catching her eye. “Hey,” he said, voice a strained rasp. “It’ll be okay. I promise. I’m sorry.”

And he disappeared.

She fell forward into empty space where she’d been leaning on him. Her hands landed in bloodied grass.

Then she remembered her audience, and she looked up at the shooter. He seemed almost as shocked as she felt. But he recovered first and raised his gun again.

She didn’t disappear quite fast enough. The bullet caught her shoulder. It only broke the skin, but it still hurt like nothing she remembered.

Usually she could move anywhere within her territory in an instant. Now she dripped like syrup through the air. But she made it into the library, into the small tower room where she slept. She slid down the wall and sat on the floor, holding her wounded shoulder, her blood mixing with Kieran’s. And she sobbed into her arms.


No. No. No.

Kieran spluttered as he broke through the water. He shouldn’t be here. He should be with Lina. The shooter was still there. And now he was a good hour away.

But what happened? Why did he fall right through her?

“Dead again?” Hope asked cheerfully as Kieran scrambled out of her lake, shaking water from his hair. Dying tended to put him in a bad mood. Usually he hung around to let Hope pester him out of the worst of it. Most people avoided sirens’ lakes and she got bored; letting her enjoy the unexpected company seemed the least he could do, since he didn’t visit enough of his own volition. But not today.

“I have to go.” He tugged off one boot and dumped water out of it.

“What happened?” Hope was draped in the branches of a tree, peering down at him.

The stupid boot would not go back on his foot. “I was with Lina. Some treasure hunter showed up, had a gun…”

“Is she okay?” Hope knew about Lina, because of course she had dragged that information out of him.

“I don’t know,” he said shortly. “He shot me first.” Apparently?

“Surely she ought to be. If angry treasure hunters with guns could hurt her, she’d have been in trouble a long time ago.”

“Maybe.” He hadn’t thought of that, but Hope had to have a point. … Right? “But…”

Hope’s eyes narrowed. “You haven’t told her, have you?”

He shook his head.

“You’re an idiot.”

Yeah, he was painfully aware. He gave up on the boot and instead pulled off the other and dumped them together by the edge of the lake. “I have to get back. Make sure she’s okay. Let her know…”

“You’re not dead.”

“Not permanently.”

“Go. Then come tell me all about it. The shareable parts, anyway.”

He didn’t even stop to roll his eyes at her.


Kieran.

The familiar sensation that tugged at Lina’s heart didn’t make sense. Of course he wasn’t here. So why did she feel as though he’d just stepped into her territory?

Maybe it was someone else and she only wanted to believe it was Kieran.

She tried to ignore the feeling. Without much – any – success. Then she heard his voice, spiked with worry, saying her name.

Whatever this was, she had to find out.

She tried to disappear and couldn’t. Her injured shoulder stuck, wanting to stay solid. She had to tug it with her, and it hurt.

But at last she made it outside.

And there stood Kieran.


Kieran stumbled back into Lina’s territory. He ran the whole way there, but he’d still been gone too long. He circled the library and found neither her nor the shooter, only their abandoned book and a patch of bloody grass.

“Lina?” he called. She had to be here; she couldn’t leave. If only he could get inside to look for her.

When she finally appeared, he was not ready for the sight. Her eyes were red, her cheeks streaked from tears. She clutched her shoulder. Blood was smeared up her arms, across her shirt, on her face. His? Hers? Both?

“Lina,” he said again, with something like relief. At least she was still here.

She stared, baffled, forehead crinkled. “Kieran?”

He took a step closer. “I’m back. It’s okay.”

Her mouth opened, but apparently she didn’t know what to say.

“I told you I’m cursed, too, but not how it works.” He edged closer as he spoke. “I can be killed. But I come back. Every time. I reappear in some nearby lake. That’s why I disappeared. I’m so sorry you didn’t know. But I’m fine now. I’m not hurt.”

Finally close enough, he slid his hands beneath her elbows. “It’s okay,” he repeated softly. But now, touching her, he wasn’t so sure. She felt… not quite there. Like she was flickering in and out, even though he could see her just fine. But when she leaned against him, she was there enough for him to put his arms around her.

“I thought you were gone,” she whispered.

“I know.”

“You didn’t have to do that.”

“I couldn’t let him hurt you.”

She straightened up, then held out one hand. Kieran reached to take it, and his fingers slid right through her palm. Just like when he tried to knock her away from the bullet. “He wouldn’t have,” she said. “I’m only solid when I want to be, and I can only keep it up so long. I should have explained before. But I… I like feeling real around you. It’s nice.”

“So… you’re not hurt?”

“… A little.” She showed him her shoulder, wincing as she pulled torn fabric away from a cut there. “You’d just disappeared, and I was distracted… I don’t think it’s bad? Not as bad as it should be.”

His fingers skimmed the skin around the injury and his jaw clenched. If that shooter knew what was good for him, he would never return. He was lucky Kieran’s desire to be here with Lina just outweighed his desire to track the man down and make him pay. “Is the bullet still in there?”

“It never was.”

He was quite prepared to be overprotective, but, “It doesn’t look serious,” he agreed.

“I feel weird though,” she said. “I’ve never been hurt since…” She waved vaguely at the library. “It’s harder to disappear and move around. It’s like… my shoulder gets stuck. But being solid is wearing me out quicker than usual.”

That provided more than enough fodder for being overprotective. “Let’s at least get this cleaned up,” he said. Then, hesitating just a beat first, he asked, “Can I stay until you feel better?”

“Yes, please.” Her voice broke, and he pulled her into his arms again. Everything else could wait until she stopped crying.