No Knight Is Ordinary

26 Jul
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Sarah’s driveway in rural GA

It is a night like any other. If you are in Georgia, this means it is hot, humid and there might be a breeze blowing. If you are lucky, of course. Pollen isn’t as thick as it was in Spring, though it still has a firm grip on the air. The leaves are full and the forests are thick. But, it was on a night like any other that most remarkable things happen. Maybe not in Georgia. Okay, mostly not in the sweet ol’ southern state of Georgia. Remarkable things do happen though. Things like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars happen. People like C. S. Lewis, Donita K. Paul, and Wayne Thomas Batson are born.It also happens that a very small, insignificant thing called E. E. B. happened on a night like any other. No, the world doesn’t know about it. (not yet anyway. I’m working on nefarious plots… don’t tell Brooke!) In fact, almost no one knows about it… except for you. And one or two people on Figment.

Which probably means you want an explanation.

Well, you see, my life began…

I’m kidding! We’re not going back that far. Actually, the idea of “Elizabeth E. Brookes” formed when an 8 and 9 year-old decided they wanted to write books. For a living. At 8 and 9. Granted, you don’t need to make a living when you’re 8 or 9 (Thank you parents. Now. As in — right now. You’d be more than mostly dead without them.), but said 8 and 9 year-old were determined.

They sat outside in the little ol’ school house and wrote their first story The Kids at Crystal Cove together. In a few days. It was a magical book with only a paragraph to a page and size 18 font… the not-so-eight-and-nine-year-olds might possibly be ashamed of said work. Now. Then, it was a masterpiece.

We only stole ideas from about 20 books… among them Little House on the Prairie (FYI — I can never spell “prairie” right…)  and The Chronicles of Narnia. We don’t talk about that book much anymore save in hushed whispers so that no one else can hear. (You mustn’t tell anyone else I told you about it, okay? Brooke might strangle me.)

But that wasn’t the end.

Silly parents, writing isn’t a phase.

So, about a thousand 3 hour phone conversations, 20 outlines and 11+ manuscripts later… well, I’d say Elizabeth E. Brookes was pretty unified.

What is EEB?

Well, it’s me (the insane, mentally-unstable kid of the group). And Brooke. (Brooke’s the genius of the operations, by the way.) And Christ.

Yeah, you read this whole post just to find out we’re Christian. Strongly Christian, actually. No! Don’t run away! Not until I’ve finished!

Yes, EEB is a “group” of two teenage (now high school aged) girls who love God more than anything else. Who are determined to become published. And who became what the little 8 and 9 year-old wanted them to be — authors. Although we have massively busy schedules and a number of insane endeavors, we have both continued to write.

A lot.

As in, psychological issues will develop when we don’t write. Exciting stuff, really.

It’s an interesting, not-so-average, adventure. With our characters talking our ears off, you can expect that sanity is not among our collective traits. But we do know that this is a passion. And as we continue to write, read, and love our Savior, Jesus Christ, we hope that you’ll learn to love it as well.

It’s a long road ahead of us. But it’s the King’s Road. And He does not lead His servants astray.

 

EEB welcomes you to our blog and to the King’s Road!

“Welcome Home” Chapter Seven- “Showtime”

13 Jul

Friday came all too quickly. In a way, I was looking forward to being in our one and only performance of The Little Mermaid, but in another way, I knew that as soon as we exited the stage that night, summer camp would be over for the year. I was enjoying this long anticipated camp and did not want it to end. However, no matter what my personal feelings were, I could not stop Friday from coming. It was spent in a flutter of excitement pertaining to the final results of our hard practice, nervousness about doing well, and dreading leaving the Warehouse for at least the rest of the summer.
Mr. Kevin and Mrs. Jana had given us all Cue 52 t-shirts a couple of days before and on Thursday, Mr. Kevin had taken pictures of individual cast members wearing them. On Friday morning, his ingenious plan was revealed. He had arranged all of those photos, along with our respective names, to play on a video at the beginning of the play on two giant screens up to the left and right of the stage. The sailor’s song “Fathoms Below,” from Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid was to be playing in the background, much to our delight. The climbing melody along with the baritone chorus in that song filled me with excitement. As Kera, Mr. Kevin, and I stood watching this magnificent production, Kera crossed her arms, smiled satisfactorily, and declared that “Fathoms Below” was her favorite song from The Little Mermaid. I believe her reason was that it was not as fluffy as the princesses’ songs. Somehow, “Fathoms Below” fit us pirates perfectly.
This show was very technologically savvy, thanks to Mr. Kevin and his amazing crew of volunteers. On Friday morning, we had tech rehearsals and the whole cast got to see the full set for the first time. It was awesome. The show was to be performed with most of the lights off because of the black light effect that they were using. Black light does not pick up dark colors very well, but it illuminates lighter shades, such as white, and makes them shine blue. Between the normal lights being off and the black light, I could almost believe that we were underwater. Mrs. Jana made this even more realistic by using black light paint on some of the sets. This made them glow, creating a brilliant contrast between the dark room and the cheerful stage. Since we were the narrators, the spotlight was going to be used on the platform that Kera and I were to use, but a lot of the show would be done with just enough light to see by. Even under these conditions, I do not remember anyone falling off stage. As an actor, it is an important responsibility to memorize blocking and to know the stage you are working on like the back of your hand.
One hiccup did occur in rehearsals. Because I had been cast both as the pirate narrator and as a singer in the ensemble of “Part of your World,” I had to make a really quick costume change between some lines and said song. Luckily, the costume for “Part of your World” was not extremely elaborate or difficult. In fact, it was a simple white choir robe. However, the process of going backstage, taking off my pirate bandana, making sure the entirety of my pirate costume was hidden, and rushing back onstage all in about a minute could be tricky. We practiced in costume on Friday and the first time was a definite failure, but just on my part. One of the cast members was kind enough to let me borrow a pair of boots, being that I did not have any pirate boots to use. The problem was that I did not have enough time to get a feel for them before we started rehearsal. When the time for the costume change arrived, I was in a rush. Kera and a couple other girls helped me get into the choir robe quickly and then I zipped onstage. I was walking to the group of girls next to the microphone when suddenly my feet slid out from under me. Wham! I fell straight to the ground and landed on my back. I had misjudged the slipperiness of the stage and those slick-bottomed boots had scooted across the floor, causing me to fall. Everyone immediately turned around from their graceful singing with faces of surprise, alarm, and concern. After a moment, I recovered. I stood up quickly, laughing, and told them that I was fine. I shakily walked up to the microphone for my solo, but for some odd reason, I could not stop laughing. In my mind, the whole affair had been comical. I tried to catch my breath, but then I would start laughing again while trying to sing my lines. Someone stopped the music a couple of seconds later and suggested a redo. Mr. Kevin walked to the stage and told me that I should not have to kill myself to get in position for that song. He generously gave me a few more seconds, which significantly helped me and prevented that accident from happening again in the future.
Mrs. Jen unfortunately could not watch the final performance because she had other appointments. She received a warm, regretful farewell right before practice ended. I personally hated to see her leave. She had an awesome personality and had equally awesome advice for us. Before she left, Mrs. Jen gave us all a copy of her CD. She was a musician at heart and her band had recorded a Christian bluegrass album. I gained new respect for her at this time. Though bluegrass is not usually my favorite genre, it was a wonderful thing to share the story of Jesus’ love with us through music.
In addition to the importance of our show, today was also special because it was a fellow cast member’s eleventh birthday. Lindsey, who I had met earlier in the week and was also in “Part of your World,” turned eleven that day. Her mother was kind enough to bring us all cupcakes, which I participated in. Also, since it was the last day, I got a coffee that morning. It was a delicious mocha latte with cream on top. However, the downside was that I had forgotten that I had also eaten a chocolate pop tart for breakfast. (And no, I do not usually eat that much junk food in one day, thank you very much. That was a mistake which I shall not repeat). As you are probably guessing by now, when our rehearsals finished at either 3:00 or 5:00, I was feeling sick. Actually, I don’t think I was super nauseous, but I remember a terrible headache that had formed between all of that sugar and caffeine. My family went to Cracker Barrel to eat before the play, but I was not in the greatest of moods to eat. I did start feeling a little better, though, and by the time we got back to Cue 52, I was almost back to normal.
Kera came in rocking awesome eyeliner that looked like Captain Jack Sparrow’s make up in Pirates of the Caribbean. She was totally in character and was ready for the performance. She even brought a machete, hoping to use it as a prop. Mr. Kevin and I thought it would be epic, so we rushed to tell Mrs. Jana about it. The second we opened the door to see Mrs. Jana, she took one look at the grins plastered on our faces along with the machete in Kera’s hands and immediately shook her head.
“No,” she said. “That is not a good idea, especially since Brooke has fallen so often today.” After a few persistent pleas on Mr. Kevin’s part, we finally accepted defeat and trudged to the auditorium. Mrs. Jana did allow us to use our pocket knives as props, so we did. We had decided early on that my character had one bad leg, so I had brought my walking stick and I pretended to carve on it whenever I was not talking in the play.
It was also decided that Kera and I would commence our roles at the beginning of the play by staggering through one pair of doors of the auditorium that were not being used and then walking through the audience. This sounded like fun to me and Kera, as we would have an opportunity to acknowledge the audience and call them “land lubbers.” I do not think I will ever forget standing in those doors, watching all of the people filling the auditorium from another entrance and wondering if the show would ever begin. I began to feel a nervous pinching in my stomach, but as had been the case in the play at Lee County High School, excitement would prevail over fear once more. Kera was anxious, too, and we both paced as well as we could in the space we were confined to. By the time the show started, we were beginning to resemble tigers in a cage.
Just before we were about to burst with anticipation, it was time to perform. Kera and I both staggered through the crowd as we had planned, making our grand entrance. I don’t think anyone watching expected that, except for the directors, of course. As soon as we had run our initial lines, we both sat down on the two stools on our platform and watched the opening video “Fathoms Below.” That song started the night on the right note. It captured every thought of hope, mystery, and energy that being in a show never fails to bring. The performance went well; Kera and I only forgot one line, which was easily solved by improv and passed by. It was a short play and unfortunately, it was over before I had hardly realized it had begun. After our curtain call and bows during a reprise of “Under the Sea,” we all went to the auditorium and to the coffee shop outside to greet our audience. I gave Maddie her boots back and Kera’s belt that I had borrowed, but other than that, the pirate costume I had used was mine, so I did not worry about changing clothes before leaving.
We all took pictures in character in the auditorium. I have an extra special picture of Kera, Maggie, and I still in costume. The play could not be filmed very successfully because of the black light, so those pictures are almost all of the proof I have of our performance besides my memory and these internet pages.
Farewells were made regretfully, especially to the directors. I remember the dreaded moment that I told Mr. Kevin that I was leaving. He smiled, told me that Kera and I had done an awesome job, and then asked if I would be back to see them in the fall. To my surprise, I actually sniffed back some tears; it took me a moment to gain enough composure to reply. When I could speak, I told him that I would try. Summer camp had by far exceeded every one of my expectations and I could hardly wait to act again.
As Johnny Depp once stated, actors get attached to their characters. They become a part of you and they never leave, no matter how hard you try. Marcy was one of those special characters that I knew I would miss, but at the same time I knew that she would always be there with me. But possibly even more than that, I would miss Kera, Mrs. Jana, Mrs. Jen, Mr. Kevin, and all of the cast members that had become almost extended family in the short span of five days. All of the sudden, it seemed like autumn was ages away and summer would last forever. But of course, it didn’t.

“Welcome Home” Chapter Six- The Little Mermaid

6 Jul

The next day of theatre camp was just as much fun as the first one had been. Here is my journal entry for June 5:
I made the parts of P. 1 (Pirate 1) and a singer in “Part of your World.” I couldn’t be more pleased. I don’t have a dancing part, but that’s alright because I don’t really know how to dance. Kera and I were taken into the greenroom where we practiced lines all day. Kera is hilarious, even when she is not acting.”
Kera and I got along very well together. As the journal entry states, she was down-to-earth hilarious and there was something about her that made me feel like we had been friends for ages, instead of only one day. She was not funny as in obnoxiously loud. In fact, she was on the quieter side, but she had a fire inside her spirit that made her seem so alive. I think our roles in the play also made us feel like best buds. Pirate One and Pirate Two, who soon became Marcy and Maria, were good friends. Marcy, who was my character, was supposed to be the grim, stubborn, gristly pirate who was always correcting her friend. Kera’s character, Maria, was always getting her words mixed up and was a true comedy in the making. The two personalities clashed in a way that made for wonderful acting, especially on Kera’s part. She poured energy into her lines with a passion that I had never seen before. Her dream was to be an actress, though she did not particularly care about singing and dancing. Kera fit her part perfectly; she was a funny, physically strong eighth grader with a reputation for kicking butt in football and kickboxing championships. She claimed that she could be funny without trying. She proved this for sure after one of her signature yawns. I thought someone had yelled, but then I look down to see a sleepy, mischievous expression on Kera’s face. We both started snickering and could hardly stop. Practice with Kera truly was like a comedy show with a darker side. She reminded me of Jo in Little Women. She was a beautiful girl inside and out, but I am sure she would not have heard anything of the sort being the tomboy she was.
Cue 52′s venue was a place called The Warehouse. It was used by different organizations for a variety of events, including Bible studies and I think it might have even been home to a small church at one point. Inside the same building, just as you walk in the door, there was a coffee shop called A Thousand Hills coffee. The shop gathered a bunch of business from all of the Cue 52 kids that would go there to buy a snack during lunch break. Kera once got a chocolate chip muffin and an espresso cup of coffee. I thought we were going to die that day….but that’s a story for another time.
Off the main auditorium, there was a small room often used for prayer. The walls were covered with stenciled painted letters, spelling God’s name in multiple languages. There was a bulletin full of prayer requests that were remarkable to read. So many people had posted letters that the cards were beginning to overlap. Kera and I spent most of our time there running lines. It was nicely quiet in there and the beanbag chairs made it a comfortable place to practice. Elizabeth and Lakeland mostly used the main auditorium for practicing “Under the Sea,” the main dance routine, which was highly distracting from line memorization. Eventually, Mrs. Jen actually gave Kera and me some singing lines in the song. Kera and I had our own little platform on the ground just off stage right since we were the narrators. About the third day of camp, we got to practice a few scenes with everyone. Because I had not seen the dancers practice before, I was mesmerized. The skills displayed by my fellow thespians after only two days was amazing. Suddenly, I realized that only the instrumental track was playing; the singing had stopped. I looked around to see everyone in the room staring at me. I glanced at Kera to see what to do, but she did not give me too much of a response. It was then that I realized something…I had forgotten to speak my lines in the song. I explained my reasoning to Mrs. Jen (not to mention the rest of the class) and she laughed, forgave me for my little blunder, and restarted the track. I resolved to not make that mistake again, though I thoroughly enjoyed watching the show as well as acting.
For the most part, practice continued in the green room. Mr. Kevin, Mrs. Jana, and Mrs. Jen visited us often, checking our progress. Though it was based off the Disney adaptation of “The Little Mermaid”, Mr. Kevin actually wrote the official script we used and added the pirate lines, which are not included in Disney’s version. Pirates of the Caribbean was Mr. Kevin’s favorite movie series and he wanted to make swashbuckling, swarthy, despicable pirates of Kera and me. He said I was too sweet with Kera; I had to be mean and nasty, like I was deeply irritated. This eventually came, sort of. Mrs. Jen actually told me to watch part of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl as an assignment, which I did gladly since it was one of my favorite movies. Perhaps it was in these “pirate sessions” with Mr. Kevin, Mrs. Jana, and Mrs. Jen that I got two of the best pieces of acting advice ever. The first came from Mrs. Jen regarding my lack of energy. She told me that everything you say in theatre, as in life, has a purpose and an emotion behind it. I felt silly putting quite so much effort behind my words, chuckled awkwardly, and admitted my embarrassment. This is when Mr. Kevin gave the second helpful tip. He said that acting in theatre was different from the real world or film work because of the fact that you are on stage. When you are onstage, you have to exaggerate your movements so that people on the back row can see you. He gave a visual example of someone dancing. He walked across the room and told me to watch him. Smiling and snapping his fingers, he said that this little dance did not mean a lot to me since I was the observer, but in his practical mind, he looked like he was on Broadway! This is why theatre rarely has to be scaled down. In film, you do not have make your expressions as pronounced because the camera is in your face. That clarified many boundaries for me and cleared up the blurry line between stage and film acting.
Practice was a ton of fun, especially once Kera and I started to create backstories for our characters. Mr. Kevin came up with the idea that the reason us two single girls decided to sail the seas without men was that we were rebels. He said that perhaps even Prince Eric dumped Maria (Kera’s character) and that is the reason she vowed never to marry. We were certainly independent, strangely similar to my previous wishes to be forever single and “free.” Between laughs over our funny lines, crazy faces over lunch, and even our grand entrance in the play where we staggered about drunkenly, laughing like we were delirious, it really did feel like Kera and I had sailed the seven seas together for years. In theatre, you do not have competitors. You have family friends tightly bound in an original cast. You become close and live two worlds together, pulling each other through both.
Other journal entries from this week:
Wednesday, June 6, 2012,
Kera and I practiced lines again this morning. Maggie (Sebastian in the play) and Nicole watched. Maggie is so amazing. She’s only ten, the camp has only been two days long, and she knows everyone’s lines! The green room is so scary with the lights off. There is no light except this red “eye” in the ceiling! After lunch, we watched everyone else and we had just gotten to “Part of your World” when it was time to go. By the way, Kera and I got a part in “Under the Sea.” Oh yeah, Lakeland thinks I am British! That was so cool!
Thursday, June 7, 2012,
Kera and I had Mrs. Jen to ourselves this morning. She instructed us a lot on characters, but I am going to write down a few important quotes, “There is a backstory for everything. For every word said, there is an emotion and a reason behind it. There are a million different way to say things.” [We also talked about doing] make up (depending on the director’s notes) and a backstory for the character. After lunch we worked a little bit on “Part of your World” and I did a run through with some of the lighting in place.

“The Stars Shone Brightly in the Moonless Sky as Sarah and Brooke Waited…”

1 Jul

Those lines have become legend with EEB. They are the beginning words for the summary of ‘Napped at Night, which is me and Sarah’s first full length book we wrote together.
When Sarah first told me about this idea on July 1 2009, I thought it was crazy. After all, it is not every day that you hear about kids stolen, taken down a literal underground railroad all the way to Wyoming, forced to work in a mill that made whiskey, and then escape. I honestly did not think it would work because we had both started projects before and then dropped them, but this time we persevered. With no outline. On her old laptop and my parent’s desktop PC. With characters that were basically heroic forms of ourselves, hence the names are the same. We missed seeing each other so much that now I wonder if we wrote this story with the hope to get kidnapped just so we could be together again. Aaah. So many fun memories, including our notorious Shakespeare-sounding twelve year old character named Jordan who once exclaimed, “Sarah, it cannot be!” You knew that one was coming, Sarah. ;-) I started reading ‘Napped at Night again today, fell in love with the idea all over again, but noticed even more fallacies, such as my character being eleven, then ten, and then has her eleventh birthday. Shhhhhhh. It’s okay. I had to tell myself that since we were just in fifth and sixth grade, I should probably just laugh it off.
Regardless, ‘Napped at Night is one of my fondest memories of writing. There was something about those humid long summer nights and crisp, cold-toed early days of fall when we wrote that story. There was something about the fantasy of being kidnapped. There was something magical in the memories of old with our dear friend Jordan Whitfield, who we wished to see again. The idea of Indian reservations and railroad hobos was intriguing, stirring our young imaginations to unique destinations. We even quite literally dreamed of our characters after a while. Chris and Martin, the kidnappers, have been to my house and have actually talked to me in my dreams. That’s how close we are. Even Sarah’s dad had dreams related to ‘Napped at Night while we were writing this. Everyone got involved. As this book and EEB turns five today, I want to thank those (like our friends and family) who have come so far with us on this “train ride to Wyoming and beyond.” Thanks! The cake is for you. :-)

Happy Birthday, EEB!!!!! Have all the cake you want. :-) The picture is a mixture between a public domain copy-right free Wikimedia Commons file and my own bad job in Paint. ;-)

Happy Birthday, EEB!!!!! Have all the cake you want. :-) The picture is a mixture between a public domain copy-right free Wikimedia Commons file and my own bad job in Paint. ;-)

This is the first page of 'Napped at Night I wrote. This is not even in the prologue anymore. It was revised and moved to chapter one.

This is the first page of ‘Napped at Night I wrote. This is not even in the prologue anymore. It was revised and moved to chapter one.


World War 3! This is the first page Sarah and I tried to write together over the phone...and then we decided that splitting up chapters was a far better idea. :-)

World War 3! This is the first page Sarah and I tried to write together over the phone…and then we decided that splitting up chapters was a far better idea. :-)

My Apologies to the Ross Store of Discover Mills…

30 Jun

So, as Sarah and Brenna would say, I did a thing. I did a weird, authorish thing and I probably looked like I was insane when I did it in Ross on Thursday. I went shopping for my character.
Almost everything I saw in the Junior’s department reminded me of my character Colletta Marx, the main protagonist in “The Story of Colletta Marx,” the new project that I will most likely begin tomorrow. Colletta begins her life in the upper class, but after a major revolution *spoiler alert* she is forced into hiding and then wears pretty basic country clothes. But the cool thing: I even found her wedding dress! It was totally weird, but it worked. And then I realized it looked familiar. Yep. West Side Story. Maria. That was totally her dress, but I am borrowing it. heeheehee. :-) So here are the pictures:

Normal day outfit.

Normal day outfit.

Unbuttoned Vest
Another one of Colletta's jackets.

Another one of Colletta’s jackets.

Crop Jacket
This is Colletta's wedding dress on the hanger.

This is Colletta’s wedding dress on the hanger.

Look at that design! It will be homemade in the book.

Look at that design! It will be homemade in the book.

I guess this one won't be coming home...too big

I guess this one won’t be coming home…too big

Colletta's Wedding Dress

Colletta’s Wedding Dress

Who you’re with, Where you’re at, What you’re doing?

29 Jun

At the end of a weekend at Gran & Granddaddy’s house, we decided to play a game of Who you’re with, Where you’re at, and What you’re doing. This is a game that Gran taught us to play that she knew when she was a teenager. For those of you who are not familiar with the game, you write down names, places, and events on separate pieces of paper, then cut them out and put them into categorized bowls. Then each person grabs a person (Who), place (Where) and event (What) and reads them out. It is a hysterically funny game, is always random, and is likely to cure writer’s block. :-) Here are just a few examples of the combinations I got today:   

 

(Who) The Lone Ranger (Where) at the train station (What) skateboarding into a trash can

(Who) Liz Elestir (Where) in Gascony, France (What) avoiding the apocalypse

(Who) Aunt Becky (Where) in 1607 (What) running on a treadmill

(Who) Daddy (Where) on a cruise ship (What) sneaking candy 

(Who) Orlando Bloom (Where) in the kitchen (What) singing in the shower

(Who) Bofur (Where) in an avalanche (What) slaying dragons

So, who are you with? Where are you at? What are you doing? If you decide to play this game, you should totally post some of your funny phrases in the comments! :-)

“Welcome Home” Chapter Five- “Of Pirates and Musketeers”

29 Jun

At this point, I had three serious, remaining problems in my life: one, I had chosen to deny emotion in order to embrace the sterner facade of my supposed “manhood;” two, I had tried to grow up too fast, which eventually sent me backpedalling; and three, my view of home was now skewed. Almost none of the heartache from moving had healed. Even though my grandparents now had been living in North Georgia for almost six months, the place did not feel much more like home. In fact, ironically enough, it felt even weirder. In my mind, Gran’s house was in Leesburg, not up here. It did not seem legit. Now that I have summarized the last few chapters, let me begin to tell you how all of this began to change. Let me tell you how I began to heal.

Healing is never a quick, easy process and it is hardly ever voluntary. It would take two years for all of these issues to fully go away, but the effort did start very soon in the spring of 2012 and, like most great story plots, it came when I least expected it.

When Grannipatti came to visit us in March, we all watched the new The Three Musketeers movie. I really liked it, especially the song on the soundtrack called “When we were Young.” A few weeks later I got the book from the library and began to read it. One day, when I was in the car riding to town, I saw the boy from down the street playing with the neighborhood children again. He was laughing and they were as well, both rascals on his back trying to claim a piggyback ride. I found myself smiling as I rode by and that was perhaps the first time that I thought I had been wrong in thinking myself too high above the other children and more so, too proud to admit love. I actually got to talk to him one day when he was getting off the bus. I found a journal entry about that day and it said “BTW, [  ] reminds me of D’Artagnan. Random.” Actually, that simple statement did not end up being quite so random after all. It was not until I was away on a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee that I realized how much I liked him. He was a young gentleman unlike any I had ever met before. I had only heard good things about him from my parents and our neighbors, and I could see that he had a kind heart. However, old habits die hard. I picked up skateboarding that summer and once when I was out practicing, he tried to instruct me, being that I was new. He even let me borrow his board, which was something I did not understand. Why would anyone be so kind to a stranger? That was a question that I would repeat later in November at theatre camp, but I will explain that later. Let me not get ahead of myself. Even though I had now admitted, at least mentally, to myself that I was not emotionless and that I was a tad bit sentimental, I still tried to state my independence, just so I could. This friend watched out for me, telling me places that I should not try to skate at because they were dangerous. The next day I defied that suggestion, just to prove that I could not be tamed. I think that is one of the stupidest things I have ever done. One of the hills wasn’t so bad, but I almost killed myself on the other one. I think that is the only time I have ever knowingly cussed in my life.

Over a short period of time, this weird sense of masculinity died out and I was finally free to be myself again. I had reinforced this “independence” for so long that I did not realize I had been holding myself in bondage. When I decided not to pretend anymore, a weight lifted off my shoulder, a bad temper simmered off, and a gentle, more amiable nature presented itself. This new character was turning into a young woman, one who was more ready to love others and to accept herself.

We are now at June. The first problem has almost passed, as I described in the paragraph above. The second lesson actually came in June while I was still sorting everything out. In spite of my masquerade, my real dreams had survived below the surface. Throughout the time while I had been moving, Sarah and I had written books. This had taken my mind off the current situation and had been a real help. However, writing was not the only aspiration that I had. Though it had now been two years since the theatre camp with Kaylyn, my wish of being an actress was still alive and well.

Sometime in spring/early summer of 2012, I heard of a drama troupe called Cue 52. They were doing “The Little Mermaid” for their summer camp. At first, being that I still thought myself too old for many Disney things, I almost declined. However, it seemed to be my best option and I signed up. The day before camp I started to re-learn some of the songs from the movie and found myself getting super excited.

A thunderstorm woke me up on the night before the first day of camp and I do not think I went back to sleep again. From six o’clock in the morning to about nine thirty, I gathered my lunch and waited in anticipation, itching to march out the door.  The moment finally arrived. Here is my journal entry:

Monday, June 4th, 2012, (First Day of Theatre Camp)

I was so thankful for today! The directors of “The Little Mermaid” are Ms. Jen, Jana, Kevin, Elizabeth, and Lakeland. Today was all learning the songs, including a Jamaican accent [for “Under the Sea” only] (if not, Ms. Jen said “We will be in a worser fate and I will put you under the sea!” She was just kidding). We also auditioned. Kera and I auditioned for pirates [Mr. Kevin had added two pirates to the script to narrate throughout]. Kera is from Forsyth Christian Home Educators [a homeschool group I was in called FCHE] and is really nice. She loves football, acting, rock climbing, and alternative music. I also auditioned for Ariel (singing and acting) and Scuttle. It ended at 3:00 and Mama drove me home…”

I later learned that Jana and Kevin, who I called Mrs. Jana and Mr. Kevin throughout despite their alternative offers, had founded Cue 52. They were married and had four daughters. Lakeland was the oldest and she actually helped with the choreography for this play; there was also McKinley, Northie, and Oakley. They were 14, 12, 9, and 6 years old, respectfully. Mrs. Jen was the predominate acting director at Cue 52 and Elizabeth was volunteering to teach dance.

When I first arrived at the camp, I was shy and reserved. However, I soon saw that there was no need to be frightened, even with the auditions. All of the students and especially the directors, cheered each person who got up to audition, no matter how they sounded. They even encouraged me, though I was getting over a cold and probably did not sound the best. Even manners were forfeit; we sang at the table during lunch at the directors’ request! It was awesome. Mr. Kevin and Mrs. Jana made everyone feel comfortable and at home. I think that was one of the first times that I felt like I belonged anywhere after I left Leesburg. I soon discovered that a cast soon becomes like a family; in addition to acting, you go through life together, hearing one another’s trial and joys.

Also, with the help of this play, the anti-Disney approach I had taken subsided. I soon backpedaled and was re-watching everything that I had not seen in two years. In fact, I was surprised to find that I had missed the shows I supposedly “hated” beforehand and equally shocked to see how different my true self was from my former disguise. 

undefeated: My SLC Essay

16 Jun

This is the essay I wrote in response to the SLC prompt this year, which stemmed from this year’s theme: hero within. If you are planning on going to camp later this summer, please don’t read any further as there are spoilers, and I don’t want you to be tempted to share my ideas with the judges again. It would be a shame if they had to read the same essay over again. The prompt asked the campers, if they were super heroes, what their “kryptonite” would be. Here is my response:

2683436a52e6241f232fdebc0ce153d2Darkness– Ever since we were children, it has always been there. Sometimes it wasn’t even what was in the dark that scared us. Rather, it was the very idea that something so menacing, so abundantly present even after our parents’ reassuring kisses goodnight that struck fear into our hearts. The darkness became fodder for our already overactive imagination, ushering in our worst nightmares with a sinister smile and a swaggering bow. As we grew older, many, whose parents had become their knights in shining armor, never failing to appear at just the right moment and save us, would quietly tuck away their nightlights and move onto bigger things like boyfriends and shotguns. But some of us never grow out of our fear of the dark. That “us” being me. My “kryptonite” is the dark.

Ever since I was young, the darkness has always been there, lurking over my shoulder. Whether it was dreading the fall of the thick, black squalor of night, out from which sprung night-terrors and horrifying waits in the dark, or the things I did while I was weak and alone in the solace of that same suffocating, ebony blanket, the dark has always been a source of fear and shame for me, often magnifying my own weaknesses and imperfections. I was always afraid of what the darkness would bring– and of the person I was in its midst. The darkness became a place where I thought that even my loving God could not reach me. I still sleep with a lamp and a bathroom light on because that light is what keeps both the physical shadows and my mind’s shadows at bay. For years, I was afraid to walk outside at night or even stay at home alone after dark. Shadows were everywhere.

But, just like Super Man learned to battle his weakness, I learned to master my own fear of the dark, and, over time, I even learned how to appreciate the little lights that shine in the dark. I explored ways to chase away darkness. Most of the time, it was something simple like playing piano or reading my Bible. It wasn’t easy and still isn’t, but I forced myself to work hard. Just like any super hero, I could have let my “kryptonite” win, but, instead, I fought darkness. Darkness is my “kryptonite,” but it hasn’t defeated me.

I actually ended up being the runner-up for the Week Three essay contest.

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