Monthly Archives: September 2011

Ida Ichabod and The Girl Without A Face (Chapter 2)

With a grind of motors we pulled up in front of headquarters. The helicopter landed in a patch of flattened grass (a “crop circle”, as we referred to it), and in a few minutes Edgar, Alice, and Ethan were back in the parking lot to find the rest of us already standing in a line, Blake and Austin still toting the sack, which was now twitching. Ethan and Alice quickly joined us, and we all looked to Edgar to hear his full opinion on how we’d done.

If you were ever to see Edgar Vincent in real life, you’d never suspect him of being a spy of any kind, much less a mission leader. He was sixteen, but he didn’t look it. He was small — still two inches shorter than me — bony, skinny, and round-faced. His eyes were enormous and blue and child-like. Most pegged him at fourteen at the oldest, eleven at the youngest. That, combined with his skilled use of a double-edged rapier, was what made him so deadly. No one saw him coming. And there was no denying that, on missions at least, he commanded some serious respect.

“Alright, team,” he started. “Like I said before, excellent work. Not perfect, but everything ran very smoothly, we got our target and I won’t say that this wasn’t one of the best missions I’ve ever been on, although that isn’t unusual with this team.”

We exchanged grins.

“But,” he said sharply, calling us back to attention, “There were some slip-ups that in the future have to be avoided. Lucy?”

“Yes?”

“You need to keep your blaster trained on the target, not on your teammates.”

Lucy scowled. “Well, if Her Highness would have kept the cotton out of my face…!”

Priscilla glared right back. “Just shows how easily distracted you are, Murray. Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy.” She shook her head and sighed dramatically, examining her nails. “A real spy wouldn’t let something like cotton distract her from her target.”

“A real spy would look out for her teammates and remember that there is nothing on Earth more stupid to wear on a mission than high heels!” Lucy spat.

I stared at my combat boots.

“Ladies!” called Alice from down the row. Lucy and Priscilla shut up immediately. Lucy’s eyes flashed as she turned back to Edgar.

Priscilla and Lucy's Argument: Drawn in Crayola markers, Sharpie, and watercolors

He looked at them for a minute before continuing. “Lucy. Keep your blaster trained on your target.”

Priscilla smirked and nudged Lucy in the ribs.

Priscilla!”

She jumped back to attention.

“Priscilla,” he repeated more calmly, “Keep your hands to yourself, and that includes during missions. No one needs a wad of cotton in their face when trying to capture a monster.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied, scowling at the pavement.

“Same goes for you, Ida. You nearly elbowed me in the face aiming your blaster. Remember next time that we are working in a small space and can’t afford to take it up.”

“Yes, sir,” I said, feeling guilty. I hadn’t almost elbowed him in the face — I had elbowed him in the face. He’d apparently managed to stop the bleeding, but I’d wacked him hard.

“Okay, everyone inside. Get some sleep, you’ve had a long night.”

Without a word, we filed into the headquarters.

It was pitch black inside — it always was, we couldn’t risk lighting past 9:00 — but we knew the halls of this old building by heart. With the soft thunk thunk of many pairs of sneakers and boots (and the sharp clack clack of Priscilla’s ridiculous high heels) we let the darkness swallow us up as one by one we disappeared into our respective rooms.

**********************

Mom… Rick… no…”

My eyes flew open. The voice was Lucy’s. This happened every few nights. Everyone here had nightmares.

Without a sound I tip-toed over to Lucy’s bed, knelt down beside it, took her hand, and started humming. Her favorite song was a silly one about a man who’s so in love he can sing and dance in the rain. I didn’t get it — wouldn’t the man just ruin a good pair of shoes? — but Lucy heard something in it that I couldn’t hear, so I just kept humming the too-cheerful tune. And after a while, she calmed down. I rested my head on her out-stretched forearm and let myself drift off…

Singing to Lucy: Drawn in Sharpie, Crayola markers, and watercolors

It must have been hours later, but it felt like less than a second had passed before the breakfast bell was ringing. I slowly felt myself regain consciousness. I was still kneeling on the cold hard tile beside Lucy’s bed. Her arm was gone, though, and my head was on something softer. I could hear footsteps around me and the groans of tired girls as they forced themselves to get up and out of bed.

With a disappointed sigh, I opened my eyes. I was resting on Lucy’s hoodie, her favorite black one that smelt like old books and motorcycle oil. I looked around to see where she’d gone.

Mornings at the PPAA headquarters were an ordeal. None of us (except for Priscilla and her following of Pan wannabes) really cared what we looked like, but none of us were exactly comfortable going to breakfast smelling like monster sweat, the odor of which is enough to put even the toughest of us off our oatmeal. And since there were about twenty girls and only five showers per dorm, early morning was, shall we say, hectic.

I stood up, wincing at the pain in my knees and pulling at the neck of my night-shirt. Somebody had dumped their dirty mission clothes on my bed since I’d left it last night. I wrinkled my nose at the smell and checked the tag — “BH”.

“Beatrice!” I yelled.

“What.”

Beatrice Heathering was one of Priscilla’s clones, a short, small-eyed girl with a mess of corkscrew black hair. She rarely spoke, and when she did it was always in an infuriatingly unbroken monotone. “Get your filthy clothes off my bed!”

She stared at me. I glared back. With slow, deliberate steps, Beatrice walked across the room, held out her hand, and, still looking me directly in the eye, dropped a pair of absolutely foul socks on top of the pile already there.

My blood boiled. My hand flew in the air. Beatrice flinched. With a smirk, I grabbed the pile of clothing and flung them in her face. She scowled at me as she stalked back to her bed.

“Nice job, Private I,” said Lucy, walking over to me with her head wrapped in a towel. “You’ll have to do your sheets tonight, though. Get the smell out.”

“Can’t be worse than your arm to sleep on,” I said, sticking out my tongue playfully.

She laughed. “Shower’s open, better go fast.”

As she passed me, she gave my hand a quick squeeze. I returned it.

A few minutes later, we were both dressed and walking together down the hall to breakfast. She didn’t mention what had happened last night or this morning. Neither did I.

The headquarters cafeteria was big and open and full of broken machinery that we were all instructed to keep well away from. The building had, years ago, been a carpet factory, but it was shut down by the state government when the owners and foremen chose to disregard the child labor laws. Which was funny, considering we had children under ten running missions for us.

Most of the machines were hidden under huge white sheets. The other half of the cafeteria was lined with rows of tables and had a kitchen tucked into the corner, sort of like a large version of one you might find in a kindergarten classroom. Behind the counter, one or two agents who’d been late for missions were despondently washing dishes and spooning piles of oatmeal onto plastic plates. One of them, I noticed with surprise, was Lucy’s older brother, Rick. I nudged her and nodded at him. She raised her eyebrows.

“What’s he doing back there? He’s never late…”

I followed her over to the kitchen area, where she leaned over the counter and tugged Rick’s sleeve. He started and turned around, accidentally slopping oatmeal on the counter. “Oops,” said Lucy with a frown.

Rick laughed. “No problem. Whatcha need, kiddo? Extra oats?”

Lucy shook her head. “No, we’re good. Just wondering how on earth you got stuck back here.”

Lucy’s surprise at her brother’s punishment was understandable. I know there’s no such thing as a perfect guy, but Rick was about as close as you get. He was sweet, smart, encouraging, great at both field and surveillance, and rarely made fun of his sister or her friends, except to occassionally give her an affectionate pull of the ponytail or poke in the arm. All the teachers and officers adored him, all the agents wanted to be friends with him, and Lucy and I knew for a fact that Priscilla Pan was head over heels for him. He did mess up, but rarely. So you can understand our inability to fathom what in the world Richard Murray would have gotten behind the counter for.

Rick gave me a wink as he spooned some oatmeal into a bowl and passed it my way. “I was late for a mission.”

My jaw hit the floor. “You?” I gasped.

“Me,” he grinned.

“But… why?” asked Lucy, shaking her head in confusion. “You’re never late.”

“Apparently, that’s not true.”

He was being unusually difficult; something was going on. Lucy turned to me and leaned her head in close to mine. “We may I have to resort to extreme measures for this one.”

“You’re so nosy,” I said, wrinkling my own nose at her and pushing her back towards the counter. Looking very like her brother, she winked at me and turned back to the kitchen.

Repressing a grin, Lucy leaned even farther over the counter, her bottom lip poking out and her eyes huge and teary. Behind her, I clasped my hands over my chest and blinked quickly, as though suppressing tears. In less than a second Rick was practically doubled over laughing, but Lucy went ahead anyway.

“Rickyyy,” she whined, “Puh-leeease tell us why you were late last night! As your widdle baby sistuh I have to make sure everything’s alright! It’s my job!”

Behind her, trying my hardest not to giggle, I nodded fervently.

“Your job, huh?” laughed Rick, carefully avoiding eye contact with either of us. “Okay, maybe it is your job. But what about your little BFF over here?” He pointed the ladle at me, still chuckling.

“She’d just tell me anyway,” I said cheerfully, pulling over a chair from a nearby table and sitting down in front of my oatmeal. I knew we’d beaten him. Rick could never resist his sister, or me for that matter. Lucy, too, was confident in her brother’s defeat. She squeezed into the chair next to me, grabbing a spoon and helping herself to my breakfast. “So? Go on, tell us. How come you were late last night?”

He didn’t answer right away. He seemed very preoccupied with wiping up the spilled oatmeal that was still dripping off the counter. Lucy and I waited patiently, alternately watching him and fighting over the oatmeal in our bowl. Finally Rick turned around and I managed to get the bowl away from Lucy. She stuck her tongue out at me, but turned back to her brother without trying to grab it back.

“If you really need to know,” said Rick quietly, leaning towards us, “I was late last night because…” He took a deep breath. “You have to promise that you won’t tell anyone.”

“Of course we won’t,” I said indignantly. “If it’s that big a secret, no one’ll ever hear about it again.”

Lucy nodded.

“Okay.” He sucked in another mouthful of air, glancing around at the officers in the room. “Okay. I was late last night because… I was helping out with monster research downstairs.”

There was an enormous clatter, and I realized that I’d dropped my spoon. Hastily glancing around to see if anybody’d noticed — nobody had — I leaned forward, whispering furiously, “You did not! Nobody’s allowed downstairs. We don’t even know if it is monster research that’s going on down there.”

“Well it is,” he replied, “And I was down there last night, helping Them with it.”

At the word “Them”, all three of us shuddered. “They” were a group of nameless, faceless government officials who had, according to rumours, appeared one day thirty years ago in the basement downstairs. Nobody knew who They were, or where They’d come from, or indeed, anything about Them at all, except that They were highly important to the president, and that on very rare occasions They would recruit an agent who They thought would have special talents in the area of monster hunting, even if that meant taking the child (they were always children) from their beds in the middle of the night, without a word to the parents.

I had been one of these cases. I was supposed to be special to Them, but none of Them ever even looked at me. In fact, except to bring in these rare recruits, They never left the basement.

“Why would They let you down there?” demanded Lucy. “You aren’t one of Their recruits.”

“He’s a good agent, though,” I argued.

“So are Edgar, Evan, Alice, Blake, and Austin, and so are we, but none of us have ever been down there before.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” said Rick. “Of course, I didn’t see any of them. But I wouldn’t be surprised if at least that Edgar has been down there once or twice.”

“But why?” Lucy repeated in exasperation. “Why would either of you be down there?”

Rick hesitated. “You have to promise again. Not to tell anyone.”

“We won’t,” I replied quickly. “Now tell us.”

“I caught a new species two nights ago.”

This time, neither of us dropped anything. Instead, we just stared at him in blatant disbelief.

“I know, I know,” he said, looking almost frightened, “Nobody finds new species anymore. The last one anyone found was in 1943, and now it’s absolutely common. But I did. I found a new one, I swear I did.”

Lucy looked at him disgustedly. “This isn’t like you, Rick. You don’t usually lie to anybody, but especially not to me. Is this some kind of prank? Are we being filmed?”

I put a calming hand on her shoulder. “Hang on, Lucy. What did the monster look like, Rick?”

“Well… I… I don’t exactly know what it looked like.”

“Whaddya –” I grabbed her shoulder again.

“What does that mean… exactly?” I said, shooting Lucy a look.

He frowned in momentary bewilderment. “It… It kept changing. At first it looked like an ordinary monster, a clown, you know, with a knife. But then it turned into a tiger, and then a giant squid, and then some serial killer from one of those movies idiot parents let their kids watch. That’s when I shot it and put it in the bag, and I didn’t see it again until the next night. But then Lizzie told me that I was wanted downstairs, and when I went, it was…” He shook his head, evidently at a loss for words. “It was nothing. You know? Just this black shadow in the back corner of this cage. It didn’t even have a face.”

Lucy looked absolutely flummoxed. “But… so… it’s like a… a shape-shifter or something? Just this mass of darkness that can change?”

“Something like that, yeah…” He nodded, and then stopped. “But no. I don’t know how to explain it.”

I had a sudden vision of long silver talons sliding from the hands of a monster hidden in shadow… hands I hadn’t been able to see.

“This is too weird,” I said. “I wonder if…”

I stopped. Lucy had suddenly seized my wrist and was staring at something behind me, her face very pale. Rick, too was looking over my shoulder, his eyes huge and his lips clamped into a line. Slowly, cautiously, I turned.

Two of Them were in the cafeteria by the main door. They were looking right at me.

I didn’t wait. Two seconds later I was out of the side door behind the kitchen and ducking behind a set of rusty trash cans in the back alley, Lucy right behind me.

“What…” she panted, “Was that all about?”

I shook my head, afraid to speak for fear of vomiting all over her shoes. Why was I sweating? Why was I shivering? Why did I feel as though someone had clamped a huge, heavy hand over my mouth and suddenly I couldn’t breathe?

“Ida?” said Lucy, sounding worried now, “Ida, what’s the matter?”

Why was I, Ida Ichabod, a girl who hunted monsters for a living, afraid of two men who I’d never even seen before?

**************************

I am floating… floating at the bottom of a pool. It’s dark down here. And quiet. Down here I can think…

**************************

When I woke up, I was lying, not on the cement outside where I’d lost consciousness, but on a soft, white-sheeted bed. The sick room.

Edgar, Lucy and Rick were sitting in chairs around me. Lucy and Rick were both sound asleep — Lucy was snoring — but Edgar was awake. Completely absorbed in his book, he hadn’t noticed that I’d regained consciousness. I figured I’d let him read. Now to the business of how exactly I’d gotten here…

I remembered our conversation with Rick, and seeing two of Them staring at me. I remembered being scared, and there was also something about cement and rust…

“Edgar?” I said. My voice didn’t sound as though I’d been injured or sick.

He glanced up at me from his book and smiled, looking rather dazed. “Oh… hey, Ida. You woke up.”

“What are you reading?”

“‘The Screwtape Letters’.”

I stared at him blankly.

“CS Lewis?”

I shook my head.

“Shoulda known. You ought to read more often, Ichabod. You might learn some stuff.”

He was lecturing, but at least he was fully present. “What happened?”

He frowned at me. “Well… you sort of… had a bit of a meltdown in the back alley.”

“A meltdown?” Then I remembered. The two of Them watching me in the cafeteria, running with Lucy into the back alley, sobbing, shaking, and finally puking before losing consciousness. “Oh.”

“Yeah…” He was still frowning at me, looking confused and worried. “What exactly was that about?”

I shook my head. “Not sure.”

“Lucy said you kept muttering about your mother.”

My mother? I didn’t even remember my mother. I certainly didn’t remember saying anything at all about her in the alley. I squeezed my eyes shut, pressing the heels of my hands into them. What was wrong with me?

There was a silence, during which Lucy murmured in her sleep about oatmeal and Edgar rustled the pages of his book.

After a few minutes, I took my hands away and opened my eyes. “How long have I been out?”

This time he didn’t even look up from his book. “A day or so.”

A day?! “I missed a mission?”

“Yeah, but don’t worry, we still got the little booger. Some zombie over in Denton.”

I stared at him in horror. He looked up. “Nobody got hurt, Ida, it’s just a zombie. Kids are terrified of them, we deal with them all the time.” I just gazed at him in mute incredulity. He didn’t understand. “Look, Ida, nobody’s mad that you missed it. I’m not marking you down, you won’t have to do kitchen duty, and you still have a decent chance of getting your own team in a couple of years.” His gaze became abruptly more intense. “Nobody blames you for hitting your head on a trashcan. It’s happened before.”

Hitting my head on a trashcan? Bemused, I reached up and felt around my head for some sign of injury, but there was nothing. Not a cut, not even a bump. If I had hit my head on a trashcan, it certainly hadn’t been hard enough to knock me out for a whole day… Then I got it. Nobody else had seen Them in the cafeteria — just me, Lucy, Rick, and apparently Edgar. Nobody was supposed to know They had been there. He was giving me my story.

I nodded at him. “Well, I guess… I still wish I hadn’t missed, though.”

Edgar smiled at me and I knew he knew I got it. “There’s always tonight, if you’re up to it.”

“Up to it? I’m on my way to training now.” And with that, I swung my legs off of the bed, grabbed my hoodie and marched out the door. I could hear him chuckling behind me all the way down the hall.

***********************

Training took place out in one of the “crop circles” behind the factory. We worked with mainly silent weapons and, surrounded by stalks of corn more than ten feet high, we were quite without risk of ever being caught. The circle was huge — big enough to fit at least fifty agents and some officers. Officers were former agents who had earned the right to remain with the PPAA well into adulthood. They were strict, but they knew their stuff, and out of the crop circles most of them were alright. I found my favorite one, Officer Stein, teaching some newer recruits swordplay techniques.

“You want to grip it in the middle of the hilt, with your fist a little closer to the guard than the pommel,” he was saying. One of the agents raised her hand. I put her at about twelve. “Yes, Agent Hamilton?”

“Why do we need to learn swordplay?” she asked. “I mean, I know that’s how they did back in Medieval Times, but don’t we have things like laser blasters and Fly Paper now?”

“Yes, we do, Agent Hamilton, but what happens if the monster manages to disarm you, or outsmart your trap? Remember, these are skillful, intelligent beings. It is likely that, were you in a situation with a monster and nothing but a sword to fight with, you would find yourself evenly matched. Without a sword, you may as well be dead.”

Agent Hamilton blinked. The other young agents around her swallowed and exchanged nervous looks. Without another word of argument, they each picked up a sword and diligently began working on their grips.

Grinning, I strolled over to him. He glanced at me. “Agent Ichabod! Glad to see you back in action.”

“Yes, sir,” I said, remembering to be respectful.

He hesitated before saying, “Bump on your head healed up alright, did it?”

“Um, yeah, yeah, it did… sir.” So he knew.

Finally, he turned to face me and looked me directly in the eye. “Maybe you should go work on your blasting. It may come in handy later. And of course, it would be nice and easy on your head.”

I raised an eyebrow. “With all due respect, sir, when have I been nice and easy on anything?”

Now he laughed. “All the same, Agent.”

Obediently, I turned and headed towards the other side of the crop circle, dodging arrows, bullets, and laser beams as I went. What had he meant by “it may come in handy later”? Laser blasters always came in handy during missions. “Easy on your head” had obviously been a cover-up… he was giving me a hint, and didn’t want anyone else to know. But what was the hint? And why did I need hints, anyway?

When I reached the blasters section I found Lucy waiting for me. “Edgar woke me up and told me where you’d gone, not that I couldn’t have guessed for myself,” she explained. She was giving me a funny, wary look, as though afraid that if she made  a wrong move I’d throw up again.

“What, you can read my mind now?” I said, raising an eyebrow playfully.

“Totally,” she laughed, relieved.

I seized an unheated blaster and aimed it at her. “Out of my head, Prober!” I yelled in mock anger.

She rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at me. “Very funny, Private I. You know full well that the last Prober we caught was ten years ago.”

“Maybe you’re the last one,” I said, tossing her another unheated one. “Maybe you’re a monster, a Prober, masking yourself in a human body in a plan to take over the agency!”

“You guessed it, mortal!” she grinned, pointing the nozzle at me. “You know too much; and for that, you die!”

She pressed the useless trigger, and with a dramatic cry of pain, I fell to the ground in a crumpled heap.

Joking Around: drawn with Crayola markers, Sharpie, and watercolors

She came over and nudged my stomach with the toe of her sneaker. “Well, I guess you’re dead, Ida.”

“Yup,” I replied, opening one eye. “You win, Prober.”

She laughed and helped me up. “We’d better actually start working now. We’ll have another mission tonight.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that.”

Lucy and I whirled around, raising the useless laser blasters to our chests, as though they would protect us from the unseen speaker.

“Who said that?” demanded Lucy.

No one replied.

I stared hard into the surrounding stalks of corn. The voice, I was sure, had come from there. At first I thought I saw a shadow flitting through into the darkness, but when I leaped into the crop with a yell, there was nothing. Just me, some corn, and a very bewildered Lucy with some unheated laser blasters.

Then the voice came over the intercom: “Ida Ichabod, please report to the sick room.”

***********************

I walked down the hall, wanting to break into a flat-out run, but not daring. Why did Mr Pan want me in the sick room? He knew I was alright. I had just been training… Was I in trouble? Had my meltdown caused a scene yesterday? I knew They didn’t want attention drawn to Them. I looked down and realized that my hands were shaking. I stared at them for a few seconds, and then stuffed them into the pockets of my hoodie.

“Agent Ichabod.”

With a start and a cry of shock I whipped around. There, behind me, was one of Them. Tall, broad-shouldered, the face covered by a gas-mask that made him look like a huge insect… Big, heavy hands…

Fear rose in my throat. I opened my mouth, but the man stepped forward, holding up his hands. Forgetting to scream, I stumbled backward in horror. “Don’t touch me,” I gasped.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” said the voice, strange and muffled.

“You… you… you’re one of Them!” I blurted out. Of course he was one of Them. He was wearing the mask, the same mask They always wore, They never took them off, not even to recruit terrified children in the middle of the night…

But he was taking off the mask now. Taking off that awful insect face and raising his hand to brush his strangely human hair out of his eyes. I stood rooted to the spot in shock as he lowered his hand.

He looked so… so normal.

Why did that shock me?

“Don’t panic, Agent Ichabod,” said the man in a low, calm voice, as though he were speaking to a cornered animal. “I’m not going to hurt you. You’re okay. You’re safe.”

“S-safe?” I repeated, staring at the mask in his hand.”

“Safe. You’re not wanted in the sick room, Agent.”

I raised my eyes to his face.

“You’re wanted downstairs.”

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Ida Ichabod and the Girl Without A Face (Prologue And Chapter 1)

My name is Ida Ichabod. I am fifteen years old. I like black horses, fudge bars, and the color purple. I am also a spy.

I wasn’t always a spy. Somewhere in my memory, there are blurry, faded pictures. Pictures of teddy bears that didn’t have cameras in their eyes; of yellow turtlenecks and denim overalls that weren’t designed to withstand gunfire at a moments notice; of a mother; of a father; even of a younger brother. But the pictures are very blurry, and very faded, and I don’t miss them. I don’t.

When I was six, though (or so They tell me) a monster took up residence underneath my bed. For my safety, and for my family’s as well, They removed me from the house and separated me from my family. As far as I can tell, there have been no monsters underneath my brother’s bed, whoever he is. I haven’t had a chance to really get to meet him. I’ve been, shall we say, busy.

My name is Ida Ichabod. I am fifteen years old. I like laser blasters, fast cars, and really, really good disguises. I am a spy, and I work for the Pan Protective Action Agency.

(Ida Ichabod portrait: Drawn in sharpie and Crayola markers)

This is my story.

*****************************

There is something insanely irritating about the sound of a motorbike. Of course, on this particular mission, I would be riding on the back of Lucy’s motorbike. As if I couldn’t drive one for myself. Better yet, as if I couldn’t drive a Porsche. Darn favoritism.

Lucy gave me a sympathetic look as I swung one leg up behind her. “Sorry, Private I,” she said. “They shoulda let you have the Porsche.”

I snorted. “Guess who actually got it, though?”

Lucy’s mouth opened in horror. “No!”

“Priscilla.”

(Priscilla Pan portrait: Drawn with sharpie, Crayola markers, colored pencils, and watercolors)

Priscilla Pan was the daughter of the head of the PPAA. She could fly (the whole family could do things with a plane that not even Hollywood’s thought of), but she didn’t know an emergency break from a gear shift. (Actually, that happened once. The pile-up went on for two and a half miles and we had to move headquarters due to the publicity it brought us.)

But Priscilla was her daddy’s little princess, and what she wanted, she got. Even if it meant risking a failed mission. Apparently, Princess Priscilla wanted to drive the Porsche.

Lucy groaned. “Why can’t she just go home and throw a party or whatever?”

“Because she thinks that missions photos will look good in the yearbook.”

“How many yearbook photographers do you think she’s bought off this year?” asked Lucy with a snort.

“All of them.” And we laughed for about ten seconds, but then we stopped. Priscilla Pan was so pretty she didn’t need to buy off anyone to take her picture, and we both knew it.

At that moment, the Princess herself stepped out of the building. It was like something out of a movie: soft, glossy blonde hair, enormous black naturally hooded eyes, flawless skin. She even had the tight-fitting leather outfit, complete with jacket and five-inch black heels. Lucy nudged me. Obviously she expected me to laugh, but I only managed a half-hearted grin. I quickly pulled my helmet over my suddenly flushed cheeks, pushing my own black hair off of my forehead. What was wrong with me? I had to fix this — Lucy was giving me a look.

“Hey, Pan!” I called.

Priscilla glanced at us, barely missing a step. How does she walk in those things, I wondered, opening up the visor on my helmet. “You’d better cover your hair!”

She frowned. “Why?”

“It’s like a freaking lighthouse! Monsters, come here!” I waved my arms like someone directing a plane as it comes in for a landing. “We might as well have a neon sign with an arrow pointing directly at us; your hair practically glows in the dark! I mean, whatever happened to camouflage?”

Lucy was laughing by now. “You call yourself a spy?”

Priscilla gave us a scathing look and kept walking; I felt sure she was almost swaggering, just so that we’d notice how good her butt looked in those heels.

I rolled my eyes at Lucy, pulling my visor back down. I couldn’t help noticing how un-perfect we both looked in our black hoodies and jeans. I glanced down at my shoes: black combat boots. Hand-me-downs. Falling apart at the seams.

(Ida’s Boots: Drawn in sharpie and watercolors)

I sighed.

“Alright, everyone!” Edgar, our mission leader, called from the front of the line of vehicles. He was taking the helicopter with the surveillance team. “Listen up! You know the drill: stay at a safe distance from each other. Does everyone know their route?”

We help up thumbs-up signs.

“Good. Everyone arrives there at precisely eleven, just after the parents have gone to bed. If you’re early, you will be caught. If you’re late, you will stay outside during the mission and will be on kitchen-duty for the next month. Understood?”

Thumbs up.

“Right!” he hopped onto the open door of the waiting chopper, shouting now because the propellers were going full speed.

There was a beep in my ear and I knew that the radio transmitter had turned on. “Let’s move out,” said Edgar’s voice.

There was a roar of engines, the helicopter lifted from the ground, and one by one the Porsche, the van, and our motorbike left the parking lot of the old “abandoned” factory that was headquarters. We all went in opposite directions, and when Lucy and I turned the corner everyone else was out of sight.

(Ida and Lucy’s Motorbike: Drawn in sharpie, Crayola markers, colored pencils, and watercolors.)

“Roll call,” said another voice in my ear, this one female. Alice was new, so still on surveillance. “Allan?”

“Here.”

“Ichabod?”

“Here,” I said.

“Pan?”

“Here,” came Priscilla’s voice.

“Price?”

“Here.”

“Murray?”

“Here,” replied Lucy.

“Usher?”

“You can see me,” Evan Usher replied. He was surveillance, too.

“Usher?”

Evan sighed. “Here…”

“Vincent?”

“Here,” said Edgar.

“Crane?” said Lucy, her voice smirking.

You could almost hear Alice roll her eyes. “Alright, alright, I’m here.”

Evan laughed. “How do you like it, then?”

“Better than I like you,” she snapped.

“Alice, I’m applauding you in my mind for that one,” I said.

“Okay, everyone, quiet,” said Edgar. “Remember, we’ve got a job to do.”

“Right,” I said, tightening my hold around Lucy’s waist — she’d picked up speed. Edgar was right. We had work to do.

Half an hour later we pulled up to the house. So did everyone else at the exact same time, including Edgar, who’d leaped with a parachute from the helicopter to avoid waking up the parents. I glanced at my watch. The numbers went from 10:59 to 11:00 as I watched. Perfect.

“Okay, everyone, you’re about to remove your ear-pieces,” said Alice from the helicopter above. “For the next ten minutes we will have no communication, but Evan and I will be watching and listening for any signs of disturbance. Austin, Blake, do you know the signal?”

Austin Price and Blake Allan both raised their flashlights and turned them on and then off again three times. It was the same signal every time, but it was standard procedure to check that the lookouts knew it, and Alice was a stickler for standard procedure.

“Good. Priscilla, Edgar, Ida and Lucy will be the ones to enter the bedroom. You are to incapacitate the monster but not kill it. You are to do it within the ten-minute time frame. You are to make as little noise as possible. You are to wake no one up, and you are to leave the house with no sign that you were ever there. If the child wakes, you are to bring him into headquarters. Understood?”

“Understood,” we all breathed into our microphones.

“Okay. Remove your ear-pieces… now.”

Lucy and I removed our helmets and Edgar, Austin, Blake and Priscilla pulled the pieces from their ears. “Priscilla,” whispered Edgar, “Take off those heels.”

“What? Why?”

“The floors are hardwood. We have to be practical.”

Priscilla glowered at him, but obediently knelt down and removed her shoes.

“Come on,” hissed Austin, “We’re wasting minutes.”

Priscilla jerked her feet from the heels and stood up, scowling at him. Austin shrugged back at her and took up his post by the door, carefully sliding the lock-pick into the keyhole.

“Everyone ready?”

We nodded.

“Okay… go.” The door swung open and the rest of us ran silently inside.

With noiseless steps we ran up the stairs, at the very top of which Blake stopped and pulled out his flashlight. He checked it once. Austin flashed back from below. Blake gave Edgar the thumbs up and the rest of us ran on.

It was always my job to find the child’s bedroom; I was, after all, the youngest, and still had some idea of what a child’s room normally looked like. I closed my eyes. The child was a male, so blue or green walls… Ten, so no stuffed animals or cribs, mainly toy robots and cars… Liked dinosaurs. Right. Okay.

Silently, I pushed open one door after the other. This was a baby’s room (a crib), a storage closet (boxes), a little girl’s room (pink walls with flowers), a teenager of unknown gender’s room (books, papers and DVDs scattered on the floor and a stereo in the corner), the parents’ room (huge bed and spotless floor)… Ah.

“Here,” I breathed. In a second the others were at my shoulder and the four of us entered the room.

Yes, I was right — green walls covered in blue dinosaurs, lots of legos on the floor. I grabbed Lucy’s arm and pointed at one. She looked down at it, directly underneath her raised foot, and her eyes widened. One shot of pain up a leg, one yelp of shock, and the whole mission was blown. She nodded at me and grabbed Edgar, who in turn grabbed Priscilla. We were all aware of the danger. Time to find the closet.

It was in the corner. The door was shut tight, as they always were. Kids are smart — they can sense the monsters. Lots of kids try to tell their parents, but no grown-ups ever really listen. Some will go in to prove to the child that there is no monster, but unfortunately parents know nothing about monsters, or else they’d know about the monsters’ ability to disappear completely into the background. Kids know, though. Some instinct tells them. So they shut the door.

Not that that stops any monster once the parents have gone to sleep. Sure enough, as we crept over to the closet door, the knob turned. I caught Edgar’s eye. He nodded.

(The First Monster: Drawn in sharpie, Crayola markers, colored pencils, and watercolors.)

When the door opened and the monster looked up, we were already there, blasters raised. Before it could make a sound, Priscilla had stuffed a giant mound of cotton into its mouth. It tried to roar, but couldn’t get its voice past the cotton. Instead, it raised up its claws; long, silver, razor-sharp talons that might as well have “death” written across them in big bloody letters.

I just rolled my eyes and pulled the trigger.

A few minutes later we were outside again, the monster stuffed into a sack. We had woken no one up, left no mess, and hadn’t killed the monster. We were even a minute early. Blake and Austin pulled out their flashlights and flashed three times. A ladder was let down for Edgar. Blake and Austin threw the sack into the back of the van, Priscilla scooped up her heels and slid back into the Porsche, and Lucy and I donned our helmets and climbed onto the motorbike.

Edgar had put his ear-piece back in. “Excellent work, everyone, as usual.”

“Just another mission,” said Lucy.

I agreed silently, as we allowed our engines to reach a dull roar and drove back the ways we came. It had been easy. Just another mission. Or so I thought.

Movie Monday: Signs Review

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhuNtcEb-XY

 

I have a confession to make. Of course, if you know me than this isn’t really a confession, you already know, because to listen to me talk makes it obvious. But if you don’t know me, than this may shock you.

I am a complete sci-fi NERD.

Okay, so maybe it isn’t shocking.

But what can I say? Science fiction intrigues me. The idea of life on other planets, or worlds beyond our own fascinates me. Needless to say, I have a gigantic soft spot for sci-fi books and movies.

Of course, there are the classics: “ET The Extra-Terrestrial”, “Escape to Witch Mountain”, and one of my three favorite movies of all time, “Close Encounters of The Third Kind”. Then there are the more recent ones, each with their own fan-base as well as a large number of haters: Steven Spielberg’s “War of The Worlds”, “Contact”, “Terminator”. There are also a number of monster movies that could easily be considered science fiction — “King Kong”, “JAWS”, “Frankenstein”. There are end-of-the-world movies like “Armageddon” or “Deep Impact”. There are sci-fi/fantasy films, like the “Pirates of The Caribbean” series or “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy. And those movies are just the ones that come to mind right away — there are any number of science fiction films that just weren’t as successful in the box office, and therefore haven’t exactly become household names.

“Signs”, M Night Shymalan’s fifth film, is not one of these movies.

People either love it or hate it, but everyone’s heard about it. And for good reason.

This movie contains so much to talk about. The acting. The relationship between the four family members. The back story. The main theme of the film. For sci-fi and visual effects geeks like me, the aliens. People even argue about what genre the movie fits in. Some say that, although there are aliens, they are so rarely on-screen that it can’t really be called a sci-fi film. Some of those people say that it is, in fact, a horror. Others say that it’s a psychological thriller. And others argue that it’s simply a character study of a family who’s lost their mother. What do I think? All of the above.

The movie opens on a quiet farm-house in Philadelphia. Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) is jerked awake by we’re not quite sure what. As he readies for his day, he hears a scream from outside. Unsure, he listens nervously. There it is again!

In a separate house near Graham’s, Merril Hess (Joaquin Phoenix) tumbles out of bed when he hears the same scream. The two brothers run to meet each other in between houses, staring wildly around for the source of the cry.

“DAD! UNCLE MERRIL!”

Without a word, the two men sprint for the huge corn field just outside of their houses. As they run between the huge stalks of corn, they see a tiny nightgown-clad figure wandering through the crops. Bo Hess (Abigail Breslin) looks up at her father in a daze, asking him “Are you in my dream, too?”

“Dad!” Another yell. Merril picks up Bo as Graham takes off in the direction of the cry, and they find Morgan Hess (Rory Culkin) staring fixedly at something we can’t see.

“Morgan? What’s happening?”

Morgan does not look at his father. “The dogs were barking. They woke us up.”

Graham carefully pulls his son’s face towards him until they are looking each other in the eyes. “Are you hurt?” he says slowly.

Morgan stares at him. “I think God did it.”

“Did what, Morgan?”

Morgan turns Graham’s face away, towards what he had been staring at before. Graham’s expression turns to shock as he slowly stands up and moves forward, followed by his family. With unsteady strides, Graham steps onto the bent stalks of corn; two German Shepherds bound about in front of him barking furiously at the surrounding corn crop; and as we pull away we finally see what they are seeing.

The Hess family is standing on the edge of a crop circle.

Just like that you are clued in to the story. You know that there are four family members; that there are two children, Bo, a 4-or-5-year-old girl, and Morgan, a 9-or-10-year-old boy; you know that Merril will supply a tiny bit of comic relief; that Graham is fiercely protective of his kids but not great at communicating with them; that there is no mother; and that something very, very strange has just happened that suggests the presence of beings from another planet. Just like that, the story takes off, and yet so little has been said, so little has happened.

As a sucker for good visuals, one of my top things-a-movie-needs-to-be-good is the ability to communicate with pictures. Movies are, after all, a visual medium — the term “movie” is actually short for “moving picture”. It’s all about what the audience sees. We’re smart. We don’t need to be told through exposition dialogue what we can find out for ourselves through the use of clever camera work and a facial expression. And one of my favorite things about this film is its distinct lack of exposition dialogue. Oh, the back stories are told — Graham is a former pastor who has abandoned the faith, Merril is a retired Minor League Baseball player who apparently doesn’t know when to quit, Morgan has asthma, doesn’t like his dad and is very affectionate towards his little sister, Bo refuses to ever finish a glass of water, and their mom was killed in a car accident — and yes, some of it is told through exposition dialogue. But none of it is rushed, and my intelligence never felt insulted as I watched this movie.

For instance, we learn about Bo’s problem with water through a conversation she has with her father:

GRAHAM: *gestures to a collection of half-full water glasses on top of the TV* “You’re too old to still be doing this. You take a glass of water and you finish it. Now what’s wrong with this one?”

BO: “It has dust in it.”

GRAHAM: “This one?”

BO: “A hair.”

GRAHAM: “This one?”

BO: “Morgan took a sip and it has his amoebas in it.”

As Graham walks to the kitchen to put the glasses of water in the sink, he sees yet another pile of half-drunk cups of water resting on a bookshelf. With an exasperated sigh, he puts down the cups he’s holding and gives up.

From the conversation and accompanying visuals, we now know that Bo has a bad habit of starting cups of water and not finishing them; we also know that this has been a continuous problem and has been going on for a while.

The death of Graham’s wife, Colleen (Patricia Kalember), we see only in flashbacks to the moment when Graham arrived at the scene of the car crash. In the first flashback, we see Officer Caroline Paski (Cherry Jones) waving Graham as he drives. She stands in front of flashing police car lights. Graham gets out of the car, concealing his fear; Caroline tells him that Ray, who we haven’t met yet, fell asleep at the wheel, and it is established that Colleen is not in an ambulance. However, it is implied through Caroline’s facial expressions that she is very badly hurt.

In the second  flashback we are back where we left off: Caroline tells Graham that Ray, after falling asleep, swerved off the road and hit Colleen and a tree, respectively, and Colleen was pinned between the car and tree. This means that the truck has “severed most of her lower half”, and there is no way to save her. They haven’t moved the truck; it is holding her together when nothing else is. It is implied that they are going to move the truck soon; this is Graham’s last chance to ever talk with his wife. As Graham slowly walks towards the truck that has basically killed his wife, we see things from his point of view: we see the police officers and paramedics staring at him with pity; we see a man huddled on the ground, refusing to look up who can only be Ray; and finally we see the truck, smashed against the tree, and the paramedics looking up from someone we cannot see. Graham stops and watched the paramedics notice him and move out of the way.

In the third and final flashback, we see Graham kneeling down to talk to his wife.

While there is, as I said, exposition dialogue used in this film, it is used very rarely, and very subtly. What we are told verbally is said in such a subtle way that we have to think to figure it out, which is refreshing — the movie knows that we have brains and wants us to use them. The visuals are striking and tell most of the story.

What’s funny about this movie is how little happens in it. The family finds a crop circle and sees what they think is a human intruder on the roof of Merril’s house, they call in Caroline to investigate, she says they’re over-reacting and tells them to go to town, they go and we get some back story on each character, they return home and hear an alien conversation on Bo’s old baby monitor, Graham sees an alien in his backyard, the family turns on the TV to see over fifty hovering lights in the sky above a city, the kids and Merril freak out, Graham tries not to, Graham gets a phone call from Ray (M Night Shyamalan in an impressive cameo), goes over to investigate and ends up finding an alien locked up in Ray’s pantry, goes home, the family boards up the house in anticipation of the attack, and the aliens invade. The climax of the movie takes place in a basement and the living room. The whole story plays out over the course of two or three days. And yet every single thing that happens is in some way important. Graham’s encounter with Ray allows him to forgive and release the man who killed his wife; Merril’s conversation with a man from the town establishes him as a retired baseball player and as someone who doesn’t give up easily, as well as the fact that he keeps the bat he used to break a Minor League record on his wall at home; even seemingly mundane things, like dogs barking and peeing inside, Graham going to the pharmacy to get asthma medicine to Morgan, and Bo leaving her unfinished water all over the house, very subtly let us know that there is a predator around, Morgan has bad asthma, and that somehow the water is a big plot point in the story. Even Graham’s conversation with the girl running the pharmacy counter, which on the surface may seem to be only comic relief, lets us know that Graham used to be a reverend and for some reason left the church.

One particular reason why some don’t consider this film a “sci-fi” is because of the aliens’ lack of screen time. We see hints and shadows of them at first — the vague shape of one standing on a roof-top, a strange, inhuman leg ducking behind the corn crops. Then we see one’s shadow as it paces around and around Ray’s pantry. A few minutes later, Graham’s curiosity overcomes him and we see the thing’s fingers as it reaches beneath the door in an attempt to attack him. Finally, we see one of the things in full figure in what can only be described as one of the most startling clips I’ve ever seen, possibly even in all of film history.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RGtC2S22Z0&feature=related

It’s easier to watch now, but the first time I saw it I jumped about a foot.

Now, I’m not the kind of person who enjoys being scared. I love roller coasters, but that’s more for the adrenaline — I hate the minutes spent waiting in the line beforehand as apprehension eats up your insides. I don’t like blood and gore. When I read scary stories it’s because I dare myself to, and then I’m awake for nights on end, scared to fall asleep, and then I swear never to read another one again. There are certain movies I can’t even watch the commercials for (“Sweeney Todd”, “Nightmare on Elm Street”, I’m looking at you), because I’m so scared of being scared. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy having my heart race, and it’s always fun to look back on moments of fear and laugh. But I just don’t like things to jump out at me, especially things that looks scary.

(Incidentally, this is one of the main reasons I don’t surf YouTube. One time when my geek side took over and I was researching UFO sightings, I watched a video entitled “Try to Spot The Monster in This Video”. DON’T LOOK IT UP, unless you like scary ugly bloody things popping up on the screen with a shriek when you thought that all you were watching was a car driving down a road. My response to video: “*scream* OH MY GOSH!!!! *hyperventilate for a few seconds* *catch breath slowly* *pause to collect thoughts*… I found it…”)

All this to say that I really, really, REALLY don’t like horror movies. They freak me out. But if this movie is at its core a horror, it’s one horror film that I will watch. Again. And again. And again.

And again.

Another possible genre label for this move is “character study”. This makes sense. The movie at times seems to be far more about a man and his search for answers than anything else. Or perhaps it’s a father-figure story. Merril and Morgan both look up to Graham as a father, and both struggle with the idea that Graham may have fallen from his pedestal. Morgan tells Merril, “I wish you were my dad…” and Merril, watching Graham tell God furiously how much he hates Him (for the first time acknowledging God’s existence since his wife’s death), looks at his brother and says, “I never want to see that look in your eyes again, okay?”

Or maybe it’s a psychological thriller. Maybe it’s a movie solely created to keep the audience in suspense, to make them ask questions. My favorite line in the film contains a huge theme in this film:

GRAHAM: “See, what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind of person that sees signs, that sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?”

Is it possible that there are no coincidences? A huge part of this plot is devoted to making you question the universe: What’s out there? Is Someone really watching over us? Are we alone? Is this all chaos, or in the end will this all make sense?

Or perhaps it is, after all, just a sci-fi. For while the aliens are rarely on-screen, their presence is always felt. At first, just Lionel Pritchard and the Wolfingham brothers. Then a female Scandinavian Olympian. Then a bunch of “nerds” (I take offense at that) trying to get attention. But in the end they are extraterrestrials, hostile beings from another planet bent on harvesting us and our planet, and you realize that you knew they were all along.

So which is it? A horror, a character study, a psychological thriller, or just a plain old sci-fi?

Well, I think it’s all of them. It’s scary. The characters are fully fleshed and almost real. It makes you ask questions and keeps you on the edge of your seat. And there are aliens.

It isn’t easy to mix genres like that. It isn’t easy to make a good film in any genre, but to mix four of them together? It must have been tough. But the result is a work of beauty. Four characters, each with his (or her) own very important role to play in the story. It’s amazing.

My favorite part of this movie is that there’s no obvious pay-off. Once again, Shyamalan makes you put two and two together. But when you do, you see Graham step out of his room, silently buttoning the collar of his preacher’s garb. In the background, you can hear Morgan, Bo, and Merril laughing, something they haven’t really done up till now. And we fade to black.

10 Years Ago Today

10 years ago today, I was 5 years old. Almost 6. I still wanted to own a spin-around-dress store, so that I would have constant access to skirts that floated up when I twirled. I was just beginning kindergarten at Word of Love, a church-run k-thru-5 elementary school. My cousins still lived in Texas. My sister was 3-almost-4. My mom wasn’t even pregnant with my brother yet.

 

Things I remember about that year: I remember getting in trouble in class because I locked all the doors to the stalls in the girls’ restroom. I remember that at that point my hair still curled the way I wanted it to when I braided it at night. I remember reading the Raggedy Anne book and then scrubbing my own Raggedy until she was soaked and nearly nose-less, and then putting her by the window to dry. I remember riding down the (steep) hill we lived on my bike with no hands. I remember pretending to “run away” after watching “From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler”. And I remember walking into the living room on September 11 and finding my mom watching the Twin Towers slowly collapse on our television screen.

 

I was too young to understand what had happened. My first reaction was, “Bekah’s grandma lives in New York. Is she going to be okay?” I didn’t know that the plane had been crashed on purpose. I didn’t know that there were people out there who hated America, who would give anything, even their own lives, to try to destroy us. But I knew that people were hurting.

 

I watched as we struggled to pull ourselves together; in first grade, I finally learned about the terrorists; planes slowly began flying again; I left public school and began homeschooling; my brother was born; we moved to an apartment in Dallas and had what can only be called an epic three years of childhood. And then in fifth grade I returned to public school and learned about Saddam Hussein. I finally began to grasp what happened in 2001. I understood that that plane crash was not just a plane crash — that it was an attack. That on that day in September, not only did people in the towers die, but every single person in those planes. I understood the gravity of all those lives lost, of the families waiting at home who never saw their loved ones again.

 

But I also began to understand that some people did survive, because other people were brave enough to go in after them, and that the bravery of those people was not just limited to a few fire fighters. The bravery was contagious. It spread across the country with the sadness, filling every heart with anger, determination, unity, and pride. I realized that, while that day was a horrible day in American history, it was also a turning point for us as a country. That maybe the bravery didn’t really spread — it was just lying dormant in every American soul, waiting for the opportunity to spring out and fight. And fight we did. We are still fighting.

 

Today, 10 years later, everything is different. Planes fly overhead. Security in airports is tight. We are no longer angry, just proud, so very proud, to be part of a nation that was able to come together to overcome something so unspeakably awful. People of every race, age, religion, and gender are able to relate to each other when they remember what happened on September 11, 2001. Inside, we may argue with each other. We may not like our political leaders, we may not like each other personally; but when someone tries to hurt us from the outside, we are a force to reckon with, because as a family, we don’t let each other down.

 

 

I wrote this poem exactly a year ago. It isn’t anything great, but it does capture the way I feel about my homeland.

 

I remember September eleventh
I came home from school
I didn’t know anything
Everything was cool
My mom was sitting in front of the TV
And when I walked in
She didn’t seem to see me
I said “What’s wrong?”
She said “Move along,
You shouldn’t see this,
You’re way too young!”
But I stayed where I was,
I didn’t move away,
I couldn’t move away.

And the buildings crashed and fell to the ground,
And the dust rose up and the walls fell down,
And I don’t quite remember hearing the sound,
But I know that I cried when the world fell down.

Nine years later there’s a hole in the ground,
In the place where two towers once could be found.
It’s hard to believe so much hate could exist,
That somehow it could come to this.
It’s a prison, it’s a cage in the land of the free,
But it’s the home of the brave, and you can’t cage me!

And the buildings crashed and fell to the ground,
And the dust rose up, and the walls fell down,
And I don’t quite remember hearing the sound,
But I know that I cried when the world fell down.

Five years old, and you don’t know what’s happening,
Five years old, and you don’t understand it.
What about the people watching from the ground
And the ones who went in, and never came out?

But the flag waved high
And the people cried
And so many different people were the same inside,
And we all stood together,
Hand in hand,
When the world fell down
We decided to stand!

And the distance crashed and fell to the ground,
And the love rose up, and the hate fell down,
And to this day, you can still hear the sound,
Of the battle we won when the world fell down!

That Which Is Given’s Mission Statement

 

My name is Lauren Elizabeth. I am a blogger. I am a movie-lover. I am a deep thinker. I am a performer. I am a laugher. I am a friend.

 

What I plan to do with this blog:

Talk about what interests me, but only really write about what I love.

Help people think about things in new ways; learn to think in new ways myself.

Explain why I’m passionate about what I’m passionate about.

 

What I will write about:

Movies

Music

Books

Things that make me laugh

Friends and friendship

Theater

Family

Artistic expression through photography, clothing, and drawing

Body image

God

Myself

 

Where I hope this blog takes me:

I hope that through this blog I learn not only what I am most passionate about, but also why I’m passionate about them

I hope to learn new things about myself that I never noticed before

I hope to further the chances of a career in film for myself

I hope to hone the artistic style of my drawing, music, photography, and clothing to better fit my personality

I hope to begin to make a name for myself

I hope to learn how to write in a more unique, personal, and skillful way

I hope to touch readers in whatever way possible with what I write

I hope to use this blog to better my relationship with God

 

What I will not do:

Blog about it if it doesn’t interest me

Blog about something without point

Blog about something that simply takes up space on the Internet

Try to immitate other bloggers whom I admire

Forget who I really am while trying to be who I might think my readers want me to be

Represent God in a negative light

Represent my family and friends in a negative light

 

Why I am blogging:

Because I love to write, and because I am able to show another side of my personality when I do so.

 

🙂

New Blog Site!

Hey, guys! This is my new blog site. If you would like to read my older posts at blogspot, click here.

 

Thanks, everyone! 😀