BEDA Day 31: On Heroism, the Bright Side, and My Rollercoaster that Only Goes Up

It’s the last day of BEDA, so I want to end with a hopeful note: an uplifting closing statement to wrap up my month of daily blogging and, on the grander spectrum, my summer. A lot of things happened to me over the past months – some good, some bad – but I’ve learned from all of them.

I fell in love and then had my heart broken. But you know what? That’s okay. I couldn’t have picked a better person to fall for and I couldn’t have asked for a better way for it to end. It wasn’t in God’s plan for me, and I accept that. It’s taught me a lot about the fragility of things and most importantly, it’s taught me that I have so much more in my life besides relationships and boys and petty fancies. I am out conquering the world: writing novels, becoming the next Yo Yo Ma (ha – I wish), spreading intellectualism in my little ways. I have beautiful friends and happiness surrounding me. I have so much to live for, and even though what happened was painful, and even though it was (is) so important to me, of the life I’m living. An important speck, yes, but a speck. I am going to do so much more in this life of mine, and honestly, I can’t help but smile at the memories. They’re sad memories: but they’re sad because there was so much joy that came before them. And the joy is the important part. That’s what I have to remember.

I learned a lot about my family this summer, too. My family is nuts and crazy and every single one of us is a force to be reckoned with. I’m not sure why it is that God decided that all of us needed to have strong, stubborn personalities, but we do – so we clash. Frequently. But part of being graceful and humble and, well, loving your family, is holding them in a higher esteem than you hold yourself. Deferring to their opinion to avoid a fight. Allowing them to have their way. Not making them feel stupid over something they’ve said. Overcoming my own stubborn, I-am-always-right frame of mind and being a little more subordinate than I would like. I love my family, and they drive me a little less crazy when they’re not all shouting at one another. 😉

Another thing I learned this summer: perseverance and hard work. This came out especially in my cello over the summer. I had auditions and a recital that I had to prep for – I practiced every day for months and months straight, and that stubbornness I mentioned earlier comes out in my inability to give up when I really want something. I work for what I want, even if practicing sucks up all my free time or it’s boring or it’s hard, and I think that was really driven home for me this summer. Nothing ever just falls into your lap. It’s not that easy.

A note on heroism before I move on. This morning I went down to the hospital for my third appointment in my series of can-we-please-take-my-wisdom-teeth-out-already appointments. The operation was scheduled for 9/11 (but it’s been moved — again) (active duty military guys apparently have trump points when it comes to making an appointment, so I’ve been usurped twice), which got me talking to my mom about 9/11. I think sometimes people forget that 9/11 wasn’t just the Twin Towers, but also the Pentagon, and then the one plane where the passengers overcame the terrorists and crashed it into a field to prevent it from hurting anyone else.

I mean, that’s heroism right there.

And then I started thinking about the shootings in Aurora, Colorado – about those men who threw themselves over the women they loved and sacrificed themselves for them. That’s heroism again.

And the way I see it is this: bad stuff happens. We can’t change tragedy. But we can find the best of humanity brought out by the worst. The heroes amid the villains. We can either focus on the bad, or we can celebrate the good. 9/11 was an awful, awful tragedy, but the heroes who saved lives and sacrificed themselves give me hope.  The men who gave their lives to shield others from the spray of bullets – they give me hope. They remind me that even though awful things happen, good shines through the bad. Heroic, beautiful, self-giving acts are brought to the light of day. The clouds part and we remember that in the midst of tragedy and loss and corruption, there is good. And it’s beautiful. Tragic, but beautiful.

Focusing on the bad in life will get you nowhere: you have to look up. Chin up, I always tell my friends who are upset about something. Chin up, feel the sun on your face and remember to look forward. Time goes on. Sometimes it crawls in a petty pace from day to day ( 😉 ), but it is bringing a better tomorrow.

Right now, my tomorrows are looking pretty good. I am riding a roller coaster that only goes up, my friends. I have a dance next week and then orchestra starts up for real, (and at some point I get my wisdom ripped out of my skull, so, yay) and then we move and I get to decorate and lovely things, and this whole while I’m having a fantastic time with school because my classes are so awesome, and then it’s my birthday, and then Halloween, and then there are some other things thrown in there but let’s skip to CHRISTMAS because I love Christmas more than anything… And then New Year’s and prom later on and… Yeah. This school year is gonna be awesome.

I don’t really like this roller coaster metaphor, though, and you know why? Because only going up on a roller coaster means that the whole time, you’re waiting in fear for that moment when it suddenly drops. And honestly, the roller coaster speeding downward is the best part. But the analogy does work in one way: when my roller coaster takes a turn and speeds downward, I’m going to throw my hands up and not let it worry me. After all, it always shoots back up eventually – and I refuse to live my life dreading the point when it’s not awesome anymore.

Who am I kidding. My life is always awesome. 😉 But that’s only because it’s filled with people I love and books and cello and all the things that matter so much to me. So thank you for being in my life and making it awesome. I don’t think I could have made it past the lowest point on my roller coaster without all of you.

Really quickly, before I go and get back to Beowulf… Starting as soon as I finish the Great Gatsby (it’s awesome so far), I’d like to begin a series of critical book analyses (but done in a fun way, of course) where I review the book and point out some things that I liked and try and uncover some of the metaphors and hidden meanings (if there are any to be found — not everything I’m going to read will be a classic, deep book). Here’s a little preview of the books you might see.

Probably not in this order, maybe not all of these, hopefully more (think Dickens, and Verne, and Salinger, and some more of the classics – I have a number of books on hold at the library). Also, if anyone has read The Sound and the Fury, tell me if I should read that one – I’m going to have to clear it with my parents first, but I saw it on our shelves and it looks good and the title is a reference to that Macbeth excerpt I quoted yesterday, so where can it go wrong? 😉

Have a great night all of you – I will write again next Wednesday. I’m taking the weekend off. I think I’ve earned it.

Love & best wishes,
Hero

 

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Caerwyn Bio [Part 2]

Good morning! For once I’m posting on time instead of last minute. 🙂

Today I bring to you the rest of Caerwyn’s bio and a quick update on what I’m doing… But we’ll save the best for last as an incentive for you to slog through the rest of this bio. 😛 So, without further ado:

Other people’s opinions of her: Most view her as loyal and hardworking and a friendly girl, but some people give her a hard time because she’s famous for catching Serafina [the evil princess]. [She has the ‘Mr Potter… Our new celebrity…’ syndrome.]

Favorite books: Not much of a scholar, but she does enjoy fairy tales when she has time.

Favorite foods: She’ll eat anything, but she loves hiking outside the city walls with some bread and cheese in a cloth and eating up in a tree somewhere.

Religion: Vaguely Christian… Her morals system follows the Christian teaching, but she also believes that if you put good in, you get good out. (Some sort of loose karma system.)

Physical health: Very good. She’s kept on a rigorous exercise regiment with her training.

Dream vacation: A week in the countryside all by herself with no one to please and nothing to do. She’d go nuts after two days, but she figures it would be better than being constantly kept on her feet.

Description of her house: The initiates’ dormitory is on the east wing of the castle at the very edge. The castle is tall and made of white stone [this is a tie-back to Caerwyn… Ten points if you can figure it out] and the hallways are hoping and airy, with lots of light coming from open walkways. The castle bleeds into the city walls, so you can feasibly get from the castle roof to anywhere on the outskirts of town.

Description of her bedroom: Caerwyn can’t be put in the normal dormitories because she isn’t a boy and can’t room with one. So her bedroom is the disused library on the top floor. It’s two levels, the top of which is an open loft type thing, about 5′ by 6′, where Caerwyn has put her mattress and hung a curtain for privacy. All her clothes are kept in a trunk on the main level next to a changing screen. It sounds spacious, but it really isn’t – the main floor is only 11′ by 12′ because the walls are lined with deep bookshelves, and some of that space is taken up by the stairs to the second level. It’s small, but it’s clean and it’s home – Caerwyn loves it.

Best thing that ever happened to her: Eoin (yeah, this is cheesy, but it’s true and you’ll see it)

Worst thing: Discovering the [SPOIIIIIILER], still [SPOIIILERING] out into her hands.

Superstitions: Nothing really scares her except Serafina.

Three words to describe this character: Determined, loyal, and humble. [Basically, she’s a Hufflepuff, haha.]

Wednesday is Eoin’s bio! I love Eoin. 😀

Anyway, yesterday I spent the day at a Catholic Homeschool conference, and even though I didn’t do a lot, I talked to some students at Catholic colleges, and one of them is starting to sound really awesome to me… I won’t say which one it is in case I end up going there, but it looks incredible, and I can’t wait to go visit the campus. 🙂

My friends Violet and Kaira had their graduation yesterday and it was awesome. Kaira’s slideshow thing made me cry… It was so cute.

My orchestra audition is coming up soon and I’m completely terrified. Aughhhh… And then Camp NaNo is coming up and I haven’t finished as many of my biographies or plot charts as I want to, but then again, that’s NaNo. 😛

Anyway, I should probably go practice my cello. Talk to you Wednesday!

~Hero

The Egyptian in Sherlock Holmes

This is the part of the show where I pretend that it’s not Thursday, but in fact Wednesday, and I am not blogging a day late. Pretend with me, readers! Pretend with me.

Anyway. Note that this blog post contains SPOILERS about the season 2 premiere of the BBC show, Sherlock. If you have not yet seen this episode and do not want to be spoiled, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG POST. Skip down until you see red text, at which point the danger has passed.

SPOILERS BEGIN NOW

On Tuesday I watched the newest episode of Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia. Follow this with yesterday beginning a paper on the warring natures of Mark Antony from Shakespeare’s play Antony and Cleopatra. The subject of my paper, as I mentioned, is how the two natures of Mark Antony are at war: his reason against his passion, or, as Shakespeare puts it, the Roman in him versus the Egyptian in him. Of course, the Roman leader does not take on his Egyptian nature by himself – no. Mark Antony is turned Egyptian by none other than Egypt herself: Cleopatra.

As I was writing my paper, I started to notice parallels between the interaction and situation of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler (who, by the way, I didn’t enjoy – at all) compared to Mark Antony and Cleopatra (fun fact: I didn’t enjoy her, either). After all, both women use the seduction and manipulation to bring about the deterioration of the men opposite them, and I find that their situations mirror each other in more ways that you would think.

At the beginning of the episode, Sherlock is Mark Antony at the end of Julius Caesar (the play in which Antony is first introduced to us by Shakespeare). Actually, no, strike that. He is Antony in Act III, Scene II of Julius Caesar. He has not yet vanquished his enemy – in this comparison, Moriarti is Brutus, a comparison that doesn’t fit the individual characters (Moriarti doesn’t strike me as “the noblest Roman of them all,” but I digress), but works in the general scheme of things – but the crisis has, for now, been averted. He has rallied the support of his people (in Julius Caesar, having given his famous ‘I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him’ speech, in Sherlock, having risen to popularity thanks to Watson’s blog), and is pretty confident.

Enter the pretty woman. At this point it’s worth mentioning that while Irene Adler is very similar to Cleopatra, she is not a perfect clone. Cleopatra was completely ruled by her passions (as shown in the play by the fact that while Antony realizes their relationship is destroying them, Cleopatra doesn’t even think about it, she just wants Antony, pure and simple), and even though Irene Adler is ruled by her passions in one way (I mean, just look at what she calls her ‘career’), she does have some of the Roman in her. Not enough, in the end, as proven by the passcode to her phone. To quote Sherlock, “Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side.” Irene’s passion, her sentiment, the Egyptian in her, got the best of her in the end.

But we’re not there yet. This is about Sherlock, and how Irene Adler could have brought about his downfall in much the same way that Cleopatra destroyed Antony – and how she almost did. It’s obvious from the first second of Sherlock and Irene’s interaction that Sherlock is not up to par around her. (To give him credit: she was completely naked and he was thrown. But still.) He’s not his usual self for a good minute and a half (which for Sherlock, is a long time), at which point he pulls himself together and goes back to operating at his normal level. That is, until things go awry and Sherlock is forced to give the men from the CIA a code that he does not have. It takes him too long, by Sherlock’s standards, to figure out the code, and once he does have the contents of the safe, it is taken from him by Irene (through the use of force and narcotics) and Sherlock is momentarily defeated. Defeat is not familiar to Sherlock, and this initial defeat is a foreshadowing of things to come.

To her credit, Irene plays the game well. (Despite being completely annoying and way too skanky for life, she does have a brain in her aggravating little skull.) And because she plays the game well, Sherlock is captivated – or as captivated as Sherlock can be. When Irene ‘dies’ (for the first of many times), he is, as Watson puts it, “Distraught.” It’s clear that Sherlock has some amount of feelings for The Woman. She, like Cleopatra, has introduced the Roman to Egypt.

At the end of the episode, in the scene on the plane, Sherlock realizes he has been played. It is Act IV, Scene XII of Antony and Cleopatra. “All is lost! This foul Egyptian hath betrayed me!” It is the end for Antony, and it is almost the end for Sherlock. He, like, Antony, sees his downfall – sees how this woman affected him, in the same way that Antony sees how he has been ruined by Cleopatra. This is the great tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra: Antony wants to be a true Roman – a man of reason and mind – but he’s too weak. He can’t control his passions and he knows it. He has been destroyed, and he wasn’t able to stop it.

Sherlock sees his downfall, but unlike Antony, he is not weak. He is not controlled by his passions – not anymore. He will not let this woman ruin him. “No.” “What did you say?” “I said, no.” This is where we see that even though Irene Adler gave Sherlock the taste of Egypt, he is still Roman. He is more Roman than Mark Antony will ever be. When it counts, he is able to use his reason and his mind, to return to rationality, and defeat the Egyptian parasite that has been dragging him down. It is the end for Irene Adler.

Or is it? We know that she’s alive at the end of th

e episode, because Sherlock saves her. This means she’s going to come back – an occurrence to which I’m not looking forward. All irritating personality traits aside, Irene Adler is not good for Sherlock. He barely made it out of this first encounter unscathed, and the fact that he rescued her shows that the Egypt in him is not entirely gone. I’m worried about Sherlock – after all, Antony and Cleopatra doesn’t lend itself to a sequel. A Scandal in Belgravia doesn’t either.

SPOILERS ARE OVER! IT’S SAFE – SOUND THE ALL CLEAR, ETC.

In other news, I’m really excited about Camp NaNoWriMo this year! I’ve already started my character bios and my rough outlines. I’m actually making a plot chart this year, so hopefully I won’t crash and burn (again).

One thing I’m psyched for in this novel is the magic – magic has been done so many times that it’s easy to be cliché, but I’ve got what I think are some cool ideas – I’m pulling things from philosophy and legend… I’m hoping to bring to it deeper meaning and simile and all of those things that I’ve always wanted to put into my writing but have never been able to. I’m taking a lot of inspiration from Tolkein, and of course C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling. I have high hopes for this year! 🙂

And here’s a treat for all of you for sticking with this blog post even if you couldn’t read/weren’t interested:

A little Loki for you. You’re welcome. (I’m sorry if you don’t appreciate the full glory of Loki. Your loss.) (And before you ask, NO, I have not seen the movie yet, so do not spoil me.) (LANDON I AM LOOKING AT YOU AHEMMM. Thanks for that, dude. Thanks.)

Well, I’m off to waste an inordinate amount of time on the internet finish cleaning the study and then get started on my plot chart/sketches of characters. Have a great week, everybody!

~Hero