Thursday, November 29, 2012

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I am infinitely proud to announce that I completed my Nanowrimo novel! 50,000 words of novelly goodness now rests in my computer. I had WAY more fun than I thought I would and I love my first draft of Song of Three Sisters.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Knight-Eater

Treasure in the Belly of the Beast
            The Knight-Eater crouched in our garage. In a fit of creativity and whimsy, my parents had painted a tall metal cabinet canary yellow. Then they added on a cartoony orange dragon tail with a suspicious bulge in the middle that wrapped around the cabinet. Thus, the "Knight-Eater" was born.
            The Knight-Eater held the keys to an entire world of creativity and fantasy for my brother, sister, and me. Inside its belly, we kept brushes, paints, Plaster of Paris, dowels, yarn, and other remnants of old crafts my mother had attempted. But most importantly, the Knight-Eater held an old, scratched-up boxed set of books. Their worn pages were turned down at the corners where my mother had marked the pages repeatedly and the edges were frayed.
            Every winter, my mother would rescue the boxed set from the Knight-Eater's belly and pack it in her bag to read to us on our winter vacation. My family had a special vacation place, a small Christian camp near Redlands called Forest Home. My father would work on sermons, read books to help him with his ministry, and spend hours in prayer, while my mother would take us on walks around the empty lake, through the snowy trails, and around all the bare places that were normally full during the summer. In the evenings, we would light a fire and my mother would read to us from the boxed set of C. S. Lewis's famous series, The Chronicles of Narnia.
            In my child's mind, Forest Home and Narnia were inextricably linked. The forests we walked through in the winter became the forests of Narnia when the White Witch had them under enchantment, and the coast of that empty lake became the coast of Narnia when the castles lay in ruins. Much of my early understanding about God and Jesus Christ came from the stories in those books. My heart swelled with joy and courage when Aslan (the Christ-figure in the books) came back to life and led the Narnians to victory. I related to Eustace from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader who was ill-spirited and selfish, but who Aslan appeared to and helped him change. And to Lucy whose simple faith was more important than her siblings’ intelligence or physical strength. Even now, as an adult my faith is strengthened by the story of Puddleglum in The Silver Chair who chose to believe in Aslan and Narnia even though it caused him great pain and ridicule to do so. It took our family years to get through all the books, and that tattered paperback set in the Knight-Eater lay in wait for us all through the school year, waiting to bring us new adventures and teach us more about the real Christ and the joy and freedom that Christians can have.
            Now I am twenty-nine years old. The Knight-Eater still sits in my parent’s garage and my husband and I have a baby boy of our own. Next summer, my husband and I will take him to Forest Home for their summer camp for the first time. When he’s older, I will read the Chronicles of Narnia to him and I will tell him what they mean to me. Perhaps I will paint a yellow Knight-Eater cabinet of my own to hold the craft supplies my son will play with and he will open it sometimes to find the treasure we will keep there- the treasure of family, love, and faith.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Resurrection Blogfest!


I am participating in the "Resurrection Blogfest" today.
I heard about it from David over at Brits in the UK

 Should I be writing my Nanowrimo novel instead? 

Heck yes. 

Am I? Clearly not at the moment, but I will later...really I will! In any case, the blogfest is all about resurrecting an old blog post from your first year of blogging that you thought was pretty good but has since lain in your old list of postings growing mold and being generally unappreciated by the community of ppl we call the internet. So here is an old, moldering post which I wrote long ago in those sad, sad days when I was still a high school teacher. 


Putting on a high school play has many unique blessings and challenges. As far as blessings go, the students are usually very enthusiastic about the show. They are willing to put in long hours after school and on weekends. They are full of inspiring creativity and energy and are often capable of solving problems that crop up in the show by themselves. By the end of the rehearsal and performance process, the students have become a tightly knit group of performers and as their director, I am included in this group. These are the blessings of putting on a high school show.
But oh, the challenges. As I mentioned before, the students are highly creative. However, their sense of the resources available to our program sometimes seems slightly impaired.

“Mrs. Hughes!” They will say, convinced that their idea is the best ever conceived, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we ended the show in a gigantic display of pyrotechnics?! We could have rockets shooting from the stage and the characters flying in from the wind, and fake smoke billowing up through the audience. That would be awesome!”

I take a deep breath and pause for a moment before I answer, “Hmm….that’s an interesting idea. It would be awesome, but I think that might also be illegal. Maybe someday you should work for Disney. They might have the capabilities to do that sort of thing.” I say this in all seriousness, because they really should use these creative ideas somewhere, but not at this stage in our drama program.
Or, I have the observant students who see what other, much more developed drama programs are accomplishing in Kern County.

“Mrs. Hughes!” They shriek in a frantic, get-over-here-right-now sort of tone which makes me wonder if someone needs First-Aid or CPR (which, thanks to the State of California, I am certified in.) As I rush over, I start trying to remember the ratio of rescue breaths to chest compressions. ‘Is it 30 rescue breaths to one chest compression? Or one rescue breath to 30 chest compressions?’

One of the really special things about taking CPR is that they are always changing the ratio. I have been to CPR training three times in the past 6 years, and every single time, they have changed the ratio. Apparently, they just can’t make up their minds. This means that in an actual emergency, I can never be exactly sure just what the best ratio to use is.

“Stockdale High School is doing the musical, ‘Moby Dick,’” they explain frenetically with a newspaper in their hands as I begin to realize that there really was no emergency, “They have a cast of forty students and every night has been packed out. Look at these pictures, and this set. We should totally do a musical next year! How about, ‘Alice in Wonderland?’”

“Ooh, or that new Beatles Musical, ‘Across the Universe,’” another little darling will interject.

“Oookay…I will think about those suggestions.” I reply (‘deep breaths,’ I tell myself, ‘deep breaths’), “You know,” I go on; “I read that article, too. Stockdale has a really amazing program that they’ve had for like 20 years. Their Drama director is a full-time drama teacher, who is practically the best high school drama director in Kern County.

“‘Alice in Wonderland,’ the musical, hasn’t been performed seriously since the 1920’s,” I continue, “and ‘Across the Universe,’ is not actually a stage production, and even if it were, the royalties alone would cost more than we could potentially make in 15 years worth of drama productions . But we will be doing a musical at some point in the next few years.”

The students sadly listen to my reasons and as I see the light die in their eyes, I too wish that we had the unlimited capabilities to perform a stage production of, “Across the Universe,” or at least, include a vast pyrotechnics display in our latest show, complete with smoke and rockets. Maybe next year.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

First Glimpses- 11/4/12

They suctioned you out with a hoover and gutted me like a fish

Like a cored apple or the yolk of a hard boiled egg.

Pushmepullme, pushmepullme. Push was me, pulled was you.

And after an hour and half of empty-husk progress promises I clung to like a life-raft,

And a burst of fuschial, nuchal color,

I saw you sail by, grey and splotchy and strangely long,

The unidentified flying baby,

Unmoving, uncrying, unconscious baby.

Not pink, not screaming.

Your father spoke to you and something deep inside you recognized his voice

And you cried and I breathed again.

Hands carried you to me for inspection like a factory shirt they put those stickers on,

“Inspected by #9.”

And I looked into the sapphire dragon’s jewels you had for eyes and you looked back and I sang

to you.