coffee session | some things i’ve learned recently.

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(for le blog aesthetic / not mine)

You know the drill.  Grab a cup of coffee, listen to some music, and let’s have a chat.  (My side of the conversation is below; feel free to share yours in the comments!)

*sips coffee*

So my sister got some toffee nut syrup from Starbucks a few weeks ago and y ‘ a l l.  It’s so good.  Makes her mad when I “borrow” it, but it makes my coffee soooo yummyyyyyy.  (Why yes, I am drinking it right now – why do you ask?)

*sips coffee again*

I have a coaching call in literally one minute but I’m here writing out this post and if that doesn’t say something about my time management skills, I don’t know what will.

What’s a coaching call, you ask?  WELL.  CollegePlus – Lumerit, SORRY – is a distance-learning thing, and the thing the company does to keep you on track is give you a coach that calls you once every two weeks to chat about your life and your schooling and how it’s all going – and, most importantly, how you’re handling it all.

{musical interlude while I do my call}

Anyway, my coach is amazing and I love her to death.  She’s my fourth coach because I had three coaches in a year and let. me. tell. you. – that was not fun.  But she’s an angel and I think I love her best out of the three.  If I pass my last two courses (fingers crossed because they’re a little harder than I thought they’d be), I’ll be finished in March and that’s kinda sad because I’m going to miss talking to her every few weeks!  Plus she’s getting married, so that’s pretty dang exciting.

*sips coffee*

(it’s actually the next day and i’ve got coffee again and… yeah.  me in a nutshell)

So the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack came out the other night and oh my gosh.  It is all kinds of wonderful.  Seriously, I don’t know that I’ve related to a musical so much.  It’s so needed, too.  Such a beautiful, beautiful thing.  Listen to it.  If you’ve only got time for one song, listen to this one.  And really listen to it – turn it on, put headphones in, close your eyes, and just sit for a minute.  It’ll make you day a million times better.

I stayed up ’til after 1am listening to it when it came out, first laughing and dancing and dramatically lip-syncing in the bathroom and then sobbing while curled up in my bed with the blankets over my head.  Because that’s just the kind of musical that it is.

*sips coffee*

Like I mentioned before, college is hard.  I knew that going into it, and all the courses I’ve done have been different kinds of difficult, but… dang, these last two.  I’ve cried more over these than I have over any other course in my entire four years of college – which is kind of a lot because I don’t get stressed too easily.

I’ve always been super hard on myself, and have always had high expectations for myself, beating myself up inwardly if I didn’t meet those expectations.  I’ve always known that it’s probably not best for me to do that (LOL) but I’ve always let it slide because how else will I do anything well?

WELL.  All of the stress – courses, moving, trying to finish a freaking novel – came to a head over the last two-ish weeks (hence why I haven’t posted anything in a while – sorry, guys).  And it was bad.

Because I used to not get stressed too easily and then I was stressed literally all the time, I had to figure out how to take care of myself.  Definitely not by lowering my expectations for myself – because how stupid is that – but by not beating myself up in addition to everything else that’s putting pressure onto me.

SO.  While I certainly do. not. have. the. answers. (as evidenced by the fact that I still get stressed easily and will most likely cry over these courses again next week – looking forward to it), here are some things I’ve learned.

First and foremost, ask God for help.  Literally, this is the best thing you can do.  I think worrying is just being blinded by your own incompetence, so it’s a great idea to lean on the One who is good at everything, right?  Ask God for help and He’ll guard your heart with His peace that passes understanding.   Approach His throne with boldness and He’ll give you grace.

Second, figure out what’s giving you the most stress and see if you can relieve some of the stress.  Is your room a wreck but you don’t have time to clean it?  Do it in steps: Make your bed one day, take five minutes to pick up all the clothes the next day, spend ten minutes on it instead of on Facebook the day after that (which should be the first thing because we all need reasons to stay off Facebook these days).  Family member making you stressed?  Get out of the house, if only just to spend some time in the backyard or something; use headphones to shut it all out for a little while; or, better yet, encourage them to get out of the house.  (There’s almost nothing better than having an entire house to yourself.)  School giving you trouble?  Find someone who can help, work on it in spurts, set deadlines for yourself, reward yourself.

Which brings me to my third idea, the one I’ve been learning the most about recently:

SELF. CARE.

This is literally one of the best things you can do for yourself.  I’ve found that it’s mostly talked about in the realm of people who have depression, mental illnesses, self-harm issues, or other issues like that, which is kind of a shame because everybody could use it.

I’m so glad I started to learn about self-care personally, because it’s changed how I cope with things.  Instead of just bottling up the stress and pushing forward and never giving myself a break, I know how to deal with it in a better way now.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve learned how to reward myself when I’ve done my best by taking breaks after a long study session and curling up with a good book or guilty pleasure show.  (I’m halfway through the second season of said guilty pleasure show and halfway through the book I’ve been rewarding myself with.)  I set aside a day a week to work on my novel, which is a good idea because it needs to get done, it’s part of my massive final project, and it’s getting me into a good routine for when I’m done with college and can focus solely on my writing.

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t work hard anymore.  Far from it, actually.  I’ve found that making myself take breaks has made me work even harder – and better.  My writing has improved, my focus has improved, and my general attitude towards life has improved.

Plus, it’s always nice to have unexpected blessings, like spending the day with a good friend or your mom surprising you with gluten-free cupcakes.

All in all, my life has been pretty crazy lately, but mostly in good ways.  I’ll probably be here less, but I’ll come back when I can.

Have some laughing babies.

excerpt | the art of letting go.

You guys are amazing and so sweet and I love you all dearly and because I love you, I’m going to give you an excerpt of The Art – the opening scenes.  *Jeremy Jordan voice* But first a story…

I worked on my novel for three or four hours at Starbucks last Friday and – y’all.  Y’allllll.  It was actually so much better than I remembered it.  The little things I loved about it, the general idea of it in my head – all of it was still there.  Obviously, there was a little to work on.  Wording that I rolled my eyes over, phrases that just needed to be cut because my readers aren’t stupid (and I hate it when authors write down to their readers and don’t want to become one), etc etc.  I got through the first two chapters, reworking the beginning to include a scene I wrote for a course last semester.  And it turned out pretty dang good!  I’m really excited about continuing to work on it over this semester – and not nearly as nervous.

So, I was going to write an update post on Sunday (because I was busy watching La La Land, meeting Veronica Roth and getting her to sign her newest book, Carve the Mark, for me, then talking to the owner of a bookstore about working there – as you do on a Saturday).  But then I got my first grade back from one of the last college courses I’m doing (the TESU Capstone, which is kind of a big deal)… and it was pretty bad.  Not only that, the professor said he was “personally disappointed” in me.  To say the least, I was pretty low for a few days.  That night, I ate ice cream and watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which was amazing), then, the next day, got back to my school again.  I had to focus really hard on the next paper – a ten-page literature review *rolls eyes* – but I got it done and the immediate pressure is over so I’m back to write this super late update.  (Also, a friend of mine read The Art and loved it, so that makes me feel a whole lot better.  {pleasedon’thatemeforgivingittoher.})

AAAAAAANYWAY.  It’s been a rough week but it’s almost over, and in celebration of that (and, again, as thanks for being such amazing followers), here are the opening scenes from The Art of Letting Go.  Enjoy.  🙂


The Art of Letting Go | Chapter One – April 12th, 2012.

My eyes flutter open at six-thirty, and I lie there, watching the sunrise slowly light up my room, waiting. Five minutes later, right on cue, my phone buzzes. I smile, roll over slowly, and pick up my phone.

‘Morning, Peach! <3’

My smile widens a little and I yawn before replying, ‘Good morning! Get your workout in?’

The reply comes seconds later. ‘Yep. So ready for Friday!’

‘You’ll crush them, babe.’

‘No duh! Now go get ready!!!’

I drop my phone on the bed beside me, sit up, and stretch. Good morning, world! I toss the decorative pillows back on my partially-made bed and head downstairs, cautiously looking around for Dad. He’s not around – probably already at work – so I check my social media while my single cup of coffee brews. When it’s done, I bring it upstairs and start on my makeup, thinking about my outfit and the day ahead as I brush and blend.

I put my earbuds in, even though I’m the only one in the house – what can I say; it’s a habit – and start up an episode of Thyme Traveler on my phone. I’ve already seen all of the available seasons, so I’m rewatching the whole thing before the next season starts in the fall. I make sure to pick a more lighthearted episode. The last time I did this while putting on my makeup, I watched a season finale and cried. Mascara went everywhere. What a mess, I remember, grinning.

Twenty minutes later, I glance at the clock beside my bed and stop the episode before I get sucked in any more. I finish up and quickly pull on my favorite pair of jeans, then switch them out for shorts, remembering how warm it’ll probably be. Yanking a tank top over my head, I slip into some sandals and pull my messenger bag over my shoulder. I barely have time to transfer my coffee to a to-go cup before running out the door.

I drive to school with the radio up and the window down so the wind can blow in my hair. I’ve done this nearly every day of my junior year and I know it’s made a vast improvement on my perspective on the day. With a little over a year of school left, I can’t imagine not doing this every day. How hard is it to just leave the building you’ve spent most of your waking hours in for the last four years? More than that, to leave and head off into the unknown? True, I’ll spend the next four years after that in another series of buildings… but it seems so different. So much more adult.

My grip on the steering wheel tightens, but I force myself to take deep breaths to try to relax.

I stop at a red light and close my eyes. I’ve got David. We’re going to college together. Everything’s going to be okay. It’s not that big of a deal. Time to grow up.

I open my eyes and mouth this over and over again as I drive the remaining mile. It’s become my mantra over the past few weeks. David helped me with it. Every time I feel the anxiety start to rise, I just repeat it a few times. It usually helps. As David’s graduation date approaches – and mine still remains a year away – it’s getting a little harder. But David is always there to calm me down.

He really is the best boyfriend a girl could ask for, I muse, finally starting to calm down as I pull into the parking lot. I make a mental note to buy him something special on our date tonight.

I enter the building, a smile on my face. The halls are overrun with teenagers, all laughing and teasing and kissing and shouting and running, standing in poorly-formed circles or small groups. All are enjoying a few final moments of freedom before the bell rings.

“Daniella!”

I feel a hand on my arm and turn with a smile. “Hey, babe.”

“Morning, Peach,” David says, wrapping his arms around me. I bury my head in his chest, inhaling the sweet, spicy smell of his cologne. “Sleep well?”

“Mm-hmm.” I close my eyes, soaking in the moment. I could stay here forever.

The moment ends a few seconds later when I finally pull myself away from the security of David’s arms. The cheerful, warm-and-fuzzy feeling stays with me, however. It always does.

We walk down the hall towards our lockers, side by side. This is how we first met. Daniella James and David Jamison. Our lockers have been next to each other ever since I changed schools two years ago. David was the first person to greet me, the first to help me find my class, and the first to make me feel welcome. We’ve been friends ever since. Last year, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I’ve been in a constant state of bliss ever since.

“Are we still on for tonight?” he asks, taking my hand, his fingers entwining with mine.

“Of course,” I answer, swinging his hand back and forth and feeling myself get hypnotized by his Jolly Rancher green eyes.

“Good.” He flashes that billion-dollar grin of his that lights up his entire face and, in turn, the rest of the world. I smile back, once again realizing how lucky I am.

“Think you’ll win the game on Friday night?” I ask, letting go of his hand to get my geometry book out of my locker.

“Absolutely.” He folds his arms across his muscular chest and leans against his locker, facing me. “Peachtree City High has been an easy win for the past four years. I wouldn’t count on anything changing.”

“Me, neither.”
“And you’ll be cheering me on from the sidelines, right?” he asks with a wink.

“Absolutely,” I reply, shutting my locker door. I spin the lock and turn to face him, tilting my head a little. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

David’s smile softens and he leans forward to rest his forehead on mine. Then, he whispers, “That’s why I love you.”

In an instant, I melt. “I love you, too.”

David quickly kisses my forehead before straightening up. “See you at practice?”

“See you,” I reply.

He waves and vanishes into the crowd. I smile and watch him over my shoulder as I walk away. Suddenly, I feel my books being knocked out of my hands. “Hey!” I exclaim, staring at the books.

“I’m so sorry,” the guy replies, kneeling down to pick up my books.

I recognize the head of hair below me and roll my eyes. “Kyle, you’re such a klutz.”

Kyle looks up, relief plainly written on his face. “Oh, it’s just you.” He grins sheepishly. “Sorry, Danni.”

I put a hand on my hip and raise my eyebrows. “Just me? Excuse you.”

“I was worried that it was, like, some new kid or – even worse – a hot girl.”

Excuse me?!”

Kyle stands and puts the books back into my hands. “You know what I mean.”

I squint and lean into his face. “I hate you.”

Kyle smiles with that lopsided grin that is uniquely his just as the first bell rings. “Same to you. Hey, are you gonna be able to come to the photography showcase tonight?”

I frown slightly and start walking towards class. Kyle keeps my pace beside me and waits expectantly for an answer. “Why would I come, Ky? Besides seeing your beautiful photographs, that is.”

“Well, that, obviously, and because you’re a cheerleader and that’s what they do – come to photography showcases and cheer for their favorites. Right?” I laugh and he elbows me. “Right?”

“Right,” I say, checking my phone. A second later, I put my phone back in my pocket and elbow him back. “If I can get off work early, I’ll come. Eight, at the library?”

“Yup,” Kyle says, stopping in front of a classroom. He waves to someone inside, turns to me, points his index finger at my face, says, “Be there!” and saunters into the classroom.

I roll my eyes and head off to class.


Thoughts???

coffee session | i’m gonna start working on my novel again and i’m super nervous.

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(for le blog aesthetic / not mine)

You know how sometimes when you’re writing, the thing you’re writing is, like, so beautiful and perfect in your mind and you’re just like, “Yes, this will win all the awards and have a film adaptation and will make me super famous and people will come from miles to get writing advice from me, the author”? (#whyyesimhumble)

Well.  It’s happened to me.

In my mind, The Art of Letting Go (read more about it here) is pretty dang good.  I know it’s got it’s flaws, but – thanks to like three drafts and a ton of mind-plotting – they’re few and far between.

Thing is, I have no idea if this is true.  Why, you ask?

Because I haven’t touched my novel since July.

*cue freak out mode*

Before you get on me for being a bad writer, here’s the reason: I’m a full-time college student.  In order to focus on school last semester (including the four [+/-] writing courses I’d be doing), I put it down.  I just couldn’t justify spending my entire day doing school and then working on my novel whenever I had free time.  Daniella and David and Kyle and Matt and all of my characters deserved more than that.

So I made the really hard decision to put it aside.  Believe me, it was torture.  On one hand, I was relieved to not have it constantly pestering me, poking at me in the back of my mind whenever I finished school for the day.  But on the other hand, it felt so good to just take a break and not have to wonder if I had enough time to work on it.  I didn’t want to take away from my school or my characters, so I focused on the more pressing one – school.

Anyway, I always told myself I’d pick it back up when I graduate in March.  Turns out, I’ve got a big creative project to do for my last course (in addition to a fifteen-page paper and a slideshow) and guess what I picked to submit.

That’s right, my little novel.

All that to say, I’m going to Starbucks tomorrow to work on it, and every Friday after that until it’s finished.  (I’m finally one of those writers who works on their novels at Starbucks.  YAY.)

I’m so. incredibly. excited. to be getting back to that world – that oh, so emotional world that made me cry the last time I tried to edit it at a coffee shop. (#yay)  I’ve had that world teasing at the back of my mind ever since I started writing it (wayyyy back in 2014), and I’m always adding to its Pinterest board. (Click the linky.  I’m such a proud mama of that board and this novel.)

But I’m also nervous.  I’m so scared that I’ll open it, read the first few pages, and go, “What is this absolute garbage?!”  I’m scared that it’ll be clunky, unreadable, and, worst of all, a total waste of time.

I want to find an agent for this project.  I want to get a book deal for this project.

But what if it’s not good enough?  What if my characters are flat?  What if my story doesn’t make sense? What if it needs so much more work than I have time for?

What if it doesn’t sound as good on paper as it does in my head?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the scariest part about writing.

I can stare at a blank document all day long and not get worried because I know I’ll eventually get something on it.  I can give my writing to people and get criticism.  I can even publish a mediocre novel and then not talk about it for the rest of my life.  (*cough* Becoming Nikki *cough*)

But not knowing that what I write is actually good?  That’s mind-numbingly horrifying.

{I’d appreciate any feedback, but I’m not asking for compliments or anything, lol.  This was honestly just my way of getting my thoughts out while updating you guys on where I am with my writing right now.Thanks for listening.}

thirteen fantastic movies & what i thought of them.

I did a post like this last year, so I decided to do it again!

Now, before you start saying, “Thirteen movies?!  Well, GOSH, Ashley – you spend so much money on movie tickets!”

  1. I wasn’t allowed to go to the theater much when I was little because (a) there wasn’t much I could see and (b) because my parents always had to pay for my ticket and, because of that, (c) they always had to be slightly interested in the movies as well, so now I go fairly often because I have a car and money to pay for myself.
  2. I never get popcorn or drinks.  (However, I did manage to sneak in a Starbucks frappucino this year.  #win)
  3. I didn’t pay for some of these tickets.  (PRAISE THE LORD FOR PARENTS & PARENTS OF KIDS I NANNY.)
  4. I go at the cheap times.  Every day from 4 to 5:30 at my theater is $6.  BOOM.
  5. I like movies.

Let’s do this thing.  (Links to the trailers are in the movie titles.)

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God’s Not Dead 2 | 1/21

Well.  This one was a colossal flop.  I didn’t even want to talk about it at all when I saw it, and did an April Fools post mainly consisting of Kevin McCreary’s review of it.  I can’t even remember most of what I thought about it, but I know I didn’t like it.  My dad got tickets to a super early screening because he’s a pastor (#perks) and we talked about it on the way there, basically laying out our (super low) expectations and what we wanted it to ultimately do.  It barely met my expectations, and, well, let’s just say that I got more out of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World than this movie.  Not only were there some issues with the court sequence (you cannot have surprise witnesses.  the end.  go home.), there were major issues with the basic story as well.  The one thing I did like, however, was that the hot lawyer (whose face almost made driving 45 minutes to go see this movie worth it) didn’t become a Christian at the end.  I know that may sound awful of me, as a Christian, to say that I’m glad someone didn’t become a Christian.  But think about it – how many movies have you seen where the meek, submissive, Christian main character influences his/her non-Christian rivals so much that they radically turn from their heathen ways and go to church, ending up raising their hands with tears streaming down their faces?  TOO MANY.  And that’s all I’ll say.  For more, watch Kevin’s actual review.  It’s totally worth an hour of your time.  (And this is the longest paragraph.  Obviously.)

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens | 1/28

HECKLES YES.  Back to the good stuff.  So, I had already watched this movie a month before with my relatives, but my friend Katelyn and I wanted to see it again.  So we did.  Four girls (including us and my two sisters) going to a Star Wars movie sounds pretty awesome to me, especially since we spent half of it whispering about how hot Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver are.  (“You know… I can take anything I want.”  *entire row bursts out laughing*)  And there were only like ten people in the theater, including us, so it worked out marvelously.

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Captain America: Civil War | 5/5 & 5/15

SWEET. BUTTERED. CRUMPETS.  What a masterpiece.  What an absolute cinematic masterpiece.  I saw it the first time with my siblings and a friend, and then again with my siblings, my dad’s intern, and Morgan and her sisters.  (This is when we sneaked in our frappucinos.)  Such a good movie.  I loved it so very much.  See my actual, non-fangirly review here.

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Finding Dory | 6/18

I saw this one with friends after exploring World of Coke in Atlanta, and it was super fun!  Our group totally symbolized the majority of the movie’s audience, since our group consisted of six people with ages ranging from sixteen to twenty-five.  We fell in love with Finding Nemo when we were little and gosh darn it we were absolutely gonna see Finding Dory as soon as possible.  I loved it so much.  It actually made half of us cry – that one scene with all the shells, guys.  I’ve heard people say that it’s not as good as the first, but I don’t think they can be compared.  They’re both fantastic movies.  I watched it again on Christmas Day and remembered how much I liked it.  It’s about family and persistence and bravery and it’s just so good.

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The Secret Life of Pets | 7/8

I took my little twins I nanny to see this one, and I think someone went with us (their grandma, I think?), but I can’t remember.  (Stupid brain, lol.)  I thought this movie was cute!  A little confusing, but still adorable.  I wasn’t planning on watching it, but I couldn’t pass up free tickets to see an animated movie that may or may not be good.  I’d watch it again with my younger siblings, if only for Kevin Hart’s adorably hilarious bunny character.

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Star Trek Beyond | 7/24

Goodness gracious.  This has to be one of my favorite movies of the entire year.  I’m not a huge Star Trek fan, but I’ve really enjoyed the reboots.  (Call me what you will, but the original show is so cheesy!)  Even though it was tainted in my mind because of Anton Yelchin’s tragic death the month before, it still made me laugh, sit on the edge of my seat, and even tear up a little.  From what I’ve seen of the show, Beyond was more in the vein of the classic episodes, and contained significantly less objectionable content than the other movies.  Because of that, it just worked.

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Pete’s Dragon | 9/2

I took the twins and my younger sister to see this one, and I knew it would be good, but it absolutely exceeded my expectations.  I’ve always been a Karl Urban fan, but Slightly Evil Lumberjack Karl Urban?  Um, YES PLEASE.  (The first time he came onscreen, my sister and I reached across the two kids between us and waved fingers at one another with excited looks on our faces.)  That, combined with Seneca Crane and Opie’s daughter… yep.  Fangirling about actors aside, it was just beautiful in a cinematographic sense as well.  I loved how they altered the story slightly, and I didn’t miss the songs ’til the credits started rolling.  It’s like the classic, but it’s a little more green and focused on slightly different aspects of the story.  And I was crying in the first scene, if that says anything.  (They showed Pete’s parents dying.  Like, heck no.  Why, Disney.  Why.)  Definitely would’ve liked to see this one in the theater again, but at home will have to do.

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Doctor Strange | 11/8

YIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS.  Honestly, this is one of the cleanest Marvel movies ever, and I have no idea why.  There’s not much language, no sensual stuff, and very little blood.  And when you add BennyC into the mix… wow.  I really enjoyed this one – so much, in fact, that I wrote a critical thinking journal entry on it (a school project, which I got a great grade on).  I haven’t done research to see if the director is a Christian, but there are definite allusions to the Bible and Christian themes.  The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of females in it.  The Ancient One is, I think, female (played by Tilda Swinton {aka the White Witch}), but the character might’ve been ambiguous, and the only other girl is Christine Palmer, played by Rachel McAdams.  McAdams did well in the role, but the role itself isn’t that great.  Christine saves his life once with medical assistance, but she’s barely in fifteen minutes of the movie.  I like my female characters to be kick-butt and awesome.  Besides that, I really liked this one.  Not my favorite Marvel, but not my least favorite either.

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Hamlet {National Theatre Live} | 11/15

I saw this with two friends when I was in Florida for a week.  It was actually perfect timing because I already had to read Hamlet and then watch a production of it, and it was so much fun to go to a coffee shop, read the play, then go see the movie (and be able to say “Yeah, I read the play this morning; no biggie.  Now I’m going to see the version with Benedict Cumberbatch.  Again, no biggie.” when, in fact, it was a biggie).  This is, by far, the most expensive movie ticket I purchased this year ($20), but it was oh. so. worth. it.  The show itself was almost four hours long, and I can’t remember if that included the intermission or not.  I did a three-page review of this for school, and I could ramble almost that much just about Ben’s performance.  (It’ll be the basis on which I judge all other Hamlets.)  The sound production alone had me and my friend fangirling.  Every time he’d soliloquize, the sound would go “FubwubwubwUBWUBWUBWUBWUB” and everybody would slow down and the spotlight would be on Ben and it was just absolutely amazing.  And if anyone has a bootleg, I will send you both of my novels right now in return for it.

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Fantastic Beasts | 11/17

To be completely honest, I didn’t initially like this one when I left it, but I’ve since realized that it’s still pretty good, regardless of the issues I had with the story.  (Spoiler-free, I feel like it was two different stories that met together in the last ten minutes of the movie.)  I still loved Newt, though.  He’s the best thing to happen to Harry Potter since Deathly Hallows Part 2.  So good.  I’ll probably go watch it again and see if my opinion’s changed.  My favorite part of the movie, however, was the fact that I went with a big group of friends, and half of us dressed up in 20’s costumes.  So. Much. Fun.

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Moana | 11/27

OKAY SO I LOVED THIS ONE.  I knew I’d love it ever since I heard about it last year – and, um, hello, it’s LIN, so what’s not to love?!  The music was, obviously, phenomenal.  Loved the cast, loved the story, loved the animation (so beautiful).  I didn’t feel like I was watching a kids movie, which is exactly what I was hoping.  The story was so precious and so relatable – and I LOVED the fact that Moana’s story isn’t centered around a guy.  She’s a princess, but she’s not looking for a prince, and I think that puts her a cut above all of the other princesses.  I mean, I love all of the Disney princesses, but her story seems so much more pure because her story has to do with doing something meaningful to benefit her people, not sleeping while waiting for true love’s kiss or waiting for a prince to find her or falling in love with the guy who keeps her imprisoned in a castle.  (Yes, this is my feminist side coming out.  #dealwithit)

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Hacksaw Ridge | 12/10

This was the first R-rated movie I’ve seen in the theater.  I went with my dad for my birthday and he loved it almost as much as I did.  Truth be told, I knew very little about the story when I saw it (I saw the trailer when it first came out, but by the time I saw it, I’d forgotten what was in it), and that makes me even more glad that I watched it because it was amazing and so inspirational!  It’s based on a true story about a guy who saved dozens upon dozens of soldiers during WWII.  I loved the fact that they portrayed his faith and his stance against violence and war without demeaning him for it or making him look stupid.  And it stars Andrew Garfield, so obviously it was amazing.

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Rogue One | 12/28

I went into this one with pretty low expectations – not because I didn’t think it would be good (I knew it would be), but because I’m still not much of a Star Wars fan.  But hooooooo boy.  SO GOOD.  I adored it, actually.  By the end, I was shipping characters so hard that the only thing keeping me from yelling “JUST KISS HER ALREADY!!!” was the fact that my fourteen-year-old cousin was sitting a few seats over and I didn’t want to set a bad example.  For real, though, it blew almost every other movie I’ve seen this year (in the theater at least) out of the water.  The story was so unique and the characters were all so wonderful.  GAH.  I loved it.

What do you think of my list?  Have you seen any of these?  Want to fangirl with me?!

year in review: 2016.

{this post is finally done.  i feel like it’s taken me forever to write it, and it’ll take you almost as long to read it.  so i’m sorry, and if you read the whole thing… bless you.}

Can we agree that 2016 was just an all-around bad year?  I mean this for the world in general.  So many deaths and shootings – not to mention the atrocity that was the US presidential election.

{Side Tangent: In a previous draft, I said something about Carrie Fisher being okay.  Well, that’s not true anymore (for Debbie Reynolds, either) and I don’t know how to process that.  I’ve thought about it a lot and I think the reason there have been so many celebrity deaths this year is because God’s reminding us that our time here is so limited.  When we were young, we felt so infinite.  The days were long and death seemed so far away.  But that’s not true.  I’m not going to remind you to spend your time wisely because I know you’ve heard it before.  So just… cherish it.  And know that we’re all a little less infinite than we think we are.}

My personal year wasn’t quite as bad, and I think it ends up fitting with my year-long prayer, taken from this song:

“God, it has been quite a year-
I’ve lived a little bit and I’ve died a little more.
I know that I’ve asked it before,
But please let the scale tip here in my favor.”

I think it has.  This year has been full of disappointments and things that stress me out (pretty sure I had a full-on anxiety attack back in July and let. me. tell. you – that was not fun).  Even so, this year has been full of really good firsts – first crush I’ve told people about, first trip to Universal (and two trips to Disney whattheevenheck), first girls-only trip…  It’s been good.  Though I’ve had my fair share of bad things, I know I’m better for it.  While I wish some things hadn’t happened, I’m glad they shaped me into the person I am today.

Regardless of how terrible the year has been, at least we made it this far, right?

As always, this yearly review is mostly just for me to look back on throughout the year, and you can read the whole thing or just skim it.  (And, if you’re interested, here are the links to the other years I’ve done: 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015.)

January

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my siblings and i // first day at disney

February

  • Studied a heck ton, nannied a heck ton
  • Younger siblings went to a retreat, so I had a special time with my older sister and my parents, watching movies that they’re not allowed to watch yet and talking about Stuff.
  • Hosted a single-girls Valentine’s Day party (where we ate cookies and watched Julie & Julia) and chaperoned (from afar) as my sister got roses from a guy.
  • Discovered About Time – aka one of my favorite movies ever.
  • Went to Disney World for the first time in 15 years with the fam
  • Met the Taylors
  • Studied: American Lit CLEP (1/16-2/16) // Principles of Marketing CLEP (2/16-3/16) // BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16)
  • Read: More Happy Than NotThe Help, and Me Before You
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my thoughts during a Starbucks study session and my unplanned Valentine’s Day series – twelve ships I ship, a mushy snippet from my novel, and my thoughts on love

March

  • Again, studied and nannied a heck ton
  • Bought Jordan Taylor’s album (because I felt more connected after meeting him, duh)
  • Rediscovered Sherlock (long story)
  • Freaked out about all of the Mother’s Day posts on Instagram, only to discover that it was just Mother’s Day in the UK.  (However, since I was out of the house, I bought flowers and surprised my mom with them.  I’ll definitely be doing that again this year.)
  • BECAME A SENIOR
  • Ups and downs with my sleeping habits (definitely something I’m going to fix next year)
  • Discovered Downton Abbey and Mission Impossible
  • Watched the livestream of Daddy Long Legs, one of my favorite musicals
  • Uploaded first video to YouTube (you’ll have to hunt it down bc I’m not leaving the link here LOL)
  • In charge while Mom & Dad went to a marriage conference for a week (during which I watched too much Downton Abbey and stayed up too late)
  • Studied: Principles of Marketing CLEP (2/16-3/16) // BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16)
  • Read: The Boxcar ChildrenFar from the Madding Crowd, Frindle, A Thief in the Theater, Red Rising, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikryand The Bronte Plot
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my big post about my thoughts on Harry Potter, my “flatmates” story, my thoughts about romanticizing the past, and my 5-years-in-the-making blog post, “movies i don’t like.

April

  • Watched the High School Musical movies with a friend
  • Went to the first wedding of the year (and first since 2014, I think)
  • Started watching more movies by myself (bc I’m tired of waiting on my siblings and bc I have a brother whose opinion we have to consider) (movies include 17 Again, 13 Going On 30, and Napoleon Dynamite)
  • Literally have a note in my journal that says “2pm-3pm – Question Everything.”  Basically, yeah.
  • Discovered The Great British Baking Show.  HECK YES.
  • Had coffee with a friend and talked about her recent engagement, told her I didn’t have any guys in my life and wasn’t going to be interested in any until I graduated, Discovered A Guy that night (again, long story)
  • Officially met one of my new best friends
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16)
  • Read: Roomies, All the Bright Places, After Youand Golden Son
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my uber- nostalgic “favorite childhood movies” post, the snippet from my novel, The Boy and the Theatre Girl, and my ranty defense of CollegePlus students
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me & the twins

May

  • Submersed myself in blog posts about singleness and contentment due to aforementioned guy
  • Changed DSST after studying for a month (a first and a last)
  • Texted aforementioned best friend’s younger sister (with whom I’ll become good friends but won’t meet ’til September)
  • Learned how to cheat the system with college coursework – aka befriend the prof and say yes when she lets you submit part of your novel instead of several different assignments.  FISTPUMP.
  • Started a tough time with one of my best friends (drama goes down)
  • Dad’s intern arrived for the summer
  • Started officially going to a church
  • Discovered Friends and Taylor Swift (entire discography instead of just the ones on the radio)
  • Made a summer bucket list for the first time
  • Enrolled in Thomas Edison State University
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16) // BYU’s Creative Writing (5/16-7/16)
  • Read: Golden Son, The Raven Boys, and The Rest of Us Just Live Here (which I loved enough to review on my blog as well)
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my reasoning behind taking off my purity ring (which got so much more feedback than I ever expected ohmygosh), my review of the gloriousness that was Captain America: Civil War, and my addition to the flame war behind that random dude’s “open letter to Rey” (which by the way, lemme say again, ugh)

June

  • Younger sister graduated from high school and we have a pretty awesome dance party
  • Taught myself how to play ukulele
  • Started going to Starbucks with my sister during the second hour of church (since there isn’t a Sunday morning class for college/career young adults)
  • Discovered Waitress during the Tony Awards (Hamilton won the other 11!)
  • Surprised with a weekend visit from one of my best childhood friends
  • Gave in to the stereotypes and got a Snapchat
  • Broke ground on our new house
  • Drove back and forth with my sister instead of staying at our grandparents’ for a whole week like we usually do (a first)
  • Had two entire days to myself, in which I did school, watched movies, cooked lunch for myself, and blasted Imagine Dragons
  • GOT A FRIKKIN LETTER FROM LIN MANUEL MIRANDA
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16) // BYU’s Creative Writing (5/16-7/16) // Marriage and the Family TCEP (6/16-7/16)
  • Read: The Rosie Project, Extraordinary, and The Rosie Effect
  • Favorite Blog Posts: fangirling about tøp after being a fan for a year and a short story I wrote for school (“my best friend’s brother”)
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our awesome car on the way back from WIT

July

  • Studied and wrote like crazy
  • WITAlive again, this time without my older sister and with a car of friends (and I was a co-leader at a table this year!)
  • Wrote some poetry for the first time (including a sonnet based on Gilmore Girls)
  • Watched my “little” brother star in The Pied Piper of Hamlin at a local theatre
  • Had a movie date with a friend every two weeks or so (during the entire summer)
  • Witnessed the beginning of my sister’s relationship with my dad’s intern
  • Finally started accepting and actually loving my body, even its flaws… and it wasn’t until then that I started losing weight
  • Forgot to journal for two weeks, so I completely don’t know what happened except I know a lot of studying was done and a lot of books were read.
  • Studied: BYU’s Creative Writing (5/16-7/16) // Marriage and the Family TCEP (6/16-7/16) // BYU’s Writing in the Social Sciences (7/16-9/16) // BYU’s The American Novel (7/16-9/16)
  • Read: Salt to the Sea, The Vintage Book of Contemporary Poetry, The Art of the Personal Essay, Imaginative Writing, The Marriage and Family Experience, If You Find This Letter (which became my favorite non-fic book by the fifth page and I literally bought four copies to give to friends for Christmas – seriously, READ. IT.), and Everything, Everything
  • Favorite Blog Posts: another post about love & waiting & purity & stuff, my first post on writing advice (“what do do when {you think} your writing sucks”), and another snippet from The Boy and the Theatre Girl

August

  • Dad caved and finally got Netflix for us – YESSSSS
  • Started reading classics for my lit course and developed a deeper appreciation for classics
  • Went book shopping one Saturday with my sister (to two bookstores) and then had a fries taste-test – a day that will be remembered with fondness in both our hearts
  • Took my “little” bro to his first co-op and greatly enjoyed getting stuff done so early in the day (although I didn’t enjoy getting up so early)
  • Hosted a surprise sleepover for my friend (my first sleepover since I was six)
  • Started meeting new friends at our new church
  • Figured out the situation that caused the anxiety attack back in July (something I highly recommend – figure stuff out, guys; save yourself the stress; even if you do. not. want. to, it’ll be so much better in the long run, I promise)
  • Repaired more friendships – YAY
  • Had some bro time with my “little” brother while our sisters went to a camp for a week (we watched movies without them #oops)
  • The Furies happened (and we continue to talk about feminism and movies and relationships and generally just kick butt in all areas of life and I’m so happy to have such a close-knit friend group like this)
  • Blew through so many classics in such a short period of time – such a good feeling
  • Volunteered to play in an orchestra concert… the day before
  • Shared my testimony for the first time in a class at church
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing in the Social Sciences (7/16-9/16) // BYU’s The American Novel (7/16-9/16)
  • Read: The Coquette, Hope Leslie, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Scarlet Letter, Benito Cereno, The Outsiders, Life in the Iron-Mills, The Problem With Forever, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Washington Square (DANG THAT’S A LOT OF BOOKS)
  • Favorite Blog Posts: fangirling about Stanley Tucci, a peek into my life, and some rambling thoughts about Friends and the validity of your opinion.

September

  • Started the month out with my car breaking down.  Yay.
  • Nannied three days in a row – including a 9am-11pm day (which was my favorite day of the three because I took the kids to see Pete’s Dragon with my sister and then put them to bed early and watched movies ’til their parents got back)
  • Started watching Stranger Things with my sister… at 11pm at night… all by ourselves…  (protip: not a good idea)  (still, we finished the show within a week)
  • Hosted some friends for a weekend and had an absolute BLAST
  • Saw a friend star in You Can’t Take It With You
  • Went shopping with some girlfriends and actually bought something.  And not just anything.  A DRESS.  I DON’T EVEN KNOW.
  • Got baptized : )
  • Started practicing music with friends for two weddings (and started calling ourselves The Last Page)
  • Introduced some friends to Lord of the Rings (which they loved, obviously)
  • Cut my hair super dang short (and loved it)
  • GOT A NEW PHONE HECK YES
  • Stopped journaling (haha whoops)
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing in the Social Sciences (7/16-9/16) // BYU’s The American Novel (7/16-9/16) // Marketing Communications TCEP (9/16)
  • Read: Ethan Frome, My Ántonia, Marketing Communications, Absalom Absalom, Pale Fire, and Writing in the Social Sciences.
  • Favorite Blog Posts: blogged the results of my summer bucket list, talked about bad boyz (even though my opinion on Jess Mariano has changed so much because he turned out to be the best guy for Rory), continued to ramble about love & feelings & stuff, and rambled about life in general (which y’all liked so I started doing it more)
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failing at a jumping pic with ‘the last page’

October

  • Started a course on theatre which is just *heart eyes emoji*
  • Started planning my very first girls-only trip with The Furies
  • Gilmore-bounded with my frens (which is honestly still one of my favorite events of the entire year)
  • Introduced my other siblings to Stranger Things
  • Lost enough weight to fit loosely into a dress that didn’t fit me a month before *sunglasses emoji*
  • Played in two weddings with The Last Page (twas lit)
  • Had an impromptu brunch with people who came in for aforementioned wedding and hosted almost twenty-five people
  • Deepened friendships and fell in love with people in general
  • Started planning a watch party with friends for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (obviously including soda and Chinese food and poptarts and all kinds of junk food)
  • Scott Gordon Patterson (Luke from Gilmore Girls) liked our Gilmore-bound picture (!)
  • Did Halloween for the first time in over a decade (thank you, younger adopted siblings)
  • Again, studied and read like crazy
  • Studied: BYU’s Intro to the Theatre (10/16-12/16) // BYU’s Playwriting (10/16-12/16)
  • Read: Writing in the Social Sciences, The Strangeness of Beauty, and Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
  • Favorite Blog Posts: fangirled over Stranger Things, made a list of songs that make me happy, and rambled about life again

November

  • Studied like crazy – including writing three plays (!!!)
  • Talked to dozens upon dozens of people about the presidential election
  • Voted in the presidential election for the first time (but not my first time voting)
  • Read books on top of my car overlooking the mountains (heck yes I did)
  • Visited a friend at his college with my sisters and another friend and talked about hard stuff for over four hours (“It’s rough all over“)
  • Bashed around Charleston with mah girls
  • Visited a friend for a week, in which I stayed at their house and basically became a member of their family
  • Went to a movie theater and watched a recording of Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet
  • Went to Disney and Harry Potter World at Universal – and had an absolute blast
  • (Charleston, becoming a member of another family for a week, Hamlet, and Disney/Universal all happened in the same twelve days and it. was. magical)
  • Had the Gilmore Girls watch party with my frens
  • Studied: BYU’s Intro to the Theatre (10/16-12/16) // BYU’s Playwriting (10/16-12/16)
  • Read: The Cherry Orchard, Anything But Typicaland Hamlet.
  • Favorite Blog Posts: expressed my thoughts about the election, converted a play I wrote into a short story (and y’all loved it, which just makes my year), and offended some people after writing about courtship (lolz whoops)

December

  • Finished my schoolwork the day before my birthday – HUZZAH, AN ACTUAL CHRISTMAS BREAK FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THREE YEARS!!!
  • Turned 22
  • Watched Return of the King with friends for my birthday
  • Basically just chilled for the entire month.  Read a lot of books, watched a lot of movies and TV shows, but mainly just lived.  I made cookies and brownies with my baby siblings twice, and cleaned the kitchen and my room a lot.  It was really fun to just relax and live life without the pressure of schoolwork looming over my head.
  • Went to a young adults Christmas party at our new church and had such a great time
  • Realized that my blog turned seven – w h o a
  • Celebrated Christmas four times – with each of my parents’ families, my family, and an extended family Christmas (and had my sister’s boyfriend do Christmas with us, so that was An Experience)
  • Went to my grandparents’ house for an extended weekend before New Years and partied hard with my cousins and aunt & uncle (who talked with my siblings and I about stuff for hours upon hours, which was a blessing)
  • Rang in the new year with friends and a headache
  • Studied: BYU’s Intro to the Theatre (10/16-12/16) // BYU’s Playwriting (10/16-12/16)
  • Read: The Bad Beginning (Series of Unfortunate Events #1), If You Find This Letter (re-read bc I bought four copies for friends and wrote in them like my friend did for me), and Crosstalk
  • Favorite Blog Posts: hosted a Christmas movie marathon because I love movies and posted some Stucky fanfiction (part one / part two) that I wrote a few years ago

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    le fam (+ sister’s boyfriend) at church on christmas day


Whew.

Honestly, it always blows my mind whenever I write these posts and look back at all of the amazing things I did.  (And hOW DANG LONG IT TAKES ME OH MY GOSH.  This one took me several sittings over several days – and I know I didn’t over everything.)

Anyway, I’m always so blown away with what I’ve been able to do in a year.  Even though the year was ridiculously crazy at times, I wouldn’t trade any of the craziness for the world.  Even though the year was rough, it still had some amazing experiences for me.  I invested in friendships more than I ever have before (including at three people who are 5-8 years younger than me), I’ve learned more about relationships (the good and the bad), and I’ve learned to be authentic, to be honest, to give second chances, to know when to stop pouring myself into toxic relationships, to let go of grudges, and, obviously, I’ve learned how incredibly far I have to go.  I know I won’t ever get there, but it’s nice to look back on a year and know that I’m a better person than the selfish idiot who wrote last year’s Year in Review post.

2017 is going to be incredibly interesting and I can’t wait to see where God leads me!  My word of the year is “excelsior,” and I explained why on my Instagram, so I’ll just link to that and keep this from getting any longer!

Can’t wait to see where God has me at this time next year!

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continuing the tradition of taking pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror on new years day even tho i didn’t feel like putting on makeup or doing anything to my hair or fixing my christmas nails but i won’t apologize bc this is how i look kthxbye

fanfiction | christmas in brooklyn {part two}.

Christmas in Brooklyn

{Part Two}

{Brooklyn, 1942}

Christmas Eve dawned clear and bright.  Steve woke up before the sun and watched it rise out his bedroom window, wishing he could be somewhere else.  Anywhere else, as long as his mother and father could be there.

He got up when he felt strong enough – about an hour later – and whistled as he tidied the apartment.  It didn’t need cleaning, but he did it anyway.  The work was slow, due to the ache throughout his body from the beating he’d taken the day before, but he kept at it until the apartment was spotless.  Then, he made coffee and started cutting out strips of newspaper.  He hadn’t found the time ’til now… mainly because hadn’t felt like it.

His heart sank as he cut another link for the chain.  I wish Mother could be here…

He wondered where she was and what she was doing.  Was she with someone who could distract her from the war, or was she with a screaming patient who needed her help?  Did she even know that it was Christmas Eve?  Was she thinking of him?

Steve started pasting the ends of the links together, adding them to the chain one by one. It felt slightly therapeutic, but he didn’t feel totally at ease yet.  Somehow, he didn’t think he would ever be completely at ease again.

He knew he wasn’t alone with this clawing feeling deep inside his stomach.  He wondered how long the war would last this time… and if, after it was all said and done, another war would start up ten years later.  If that happened, he knew the world would be broken and no one would be able to fix it.

I need to help.  I need to do something to help end this war.  He frowned.  But is there anything I can do?

If Steve knew one thing, it was his limits.  Ever since he was a young boy, he had suffered from illness after illness, keeping him from having a normal life.  He still got sick more often than Bucky did, and it took him a long time to recover.

But he didn’t let that stop him from trying.

Steve set his jaw and stared at the strip of paper in his hand. I’m going to enlist.

After lengthening the paper chain a little more, he wrapped it around the tree and stepped back to survey his work.  A lopsided grin slowly grew on his face.  Looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.

He pulled on his jacket, rolled the sleeves up a little so they fell at his wrists and not the end of his fingertips, and locked the door behind him.

As Steve walked down the street, he thought about what he was going to do.  He was resolute in his act, knowing full well what it might bring on.  Injury, death – at this point he didn’t care.  His father had given his life for his country.  Who knows what his mother would have to give.  All Steve knew now was that he was willing to do anything.

What man wouldn’t want to give as much as he could to his country?

He finally reached the first enlistment office.  Looking up at the poster beside the door, the old man’s finger pointing in Steve’s face right above the words “I WANT YOU,” Steve squared his small shoulders, took a deep breath, and pulled on the door handle.  Nothing. Steve pulled again, but the door was locked.  He peered inside, but couldn’t see a thing. The lights were off.  Oh, he realized.  Because it’s Christmas Eve.

Steve took a step back onto the street, his shoulders now slumped.  He thought about trying another office, but knew he wouldn’t have any luck there, either.  He started shuffling down the street, kicking a rock every few feet.  He tried to tell himself that it was okay – that he could try again another day – but it felt like a bad omen, almost as if foreshadowing what would happen after future visits.

“Steve?”

Steve looked up, a grin appearing on his face a split second later.  “What’re you doing out this close to Christmas?” he called out as he walked towards Bucky.  “I would’ve thought your mom would have you stuffing a turkey or something.”

Bucky laughed, rubbing his hands together to warm them.  “She’s got me out doing last-minute errands.”  He pulled a package wrapped in brown paper out from the crook of his arm and held it up.  “The bread for the stuffing’s right here.”

Steve chuckled and closed the remaining space between them.  “A little late this year, isn’t she?”

Bucky started walking, and Steve struggled to match his powerful stride.  “We couldn’t find some ingredients for the stuffing, so she didn’t want to buy anything ’til she knew she could make it.  I hear there’s a war on.”

Steve instantly felt his smile disappear.  He tried to smile again as he looked down and kicked a rock across the sidewalk, but suddenly didn’t feel like joking.  His parents’ faces flashed before his eyes.  “Yeah, I think I read something like that in the papers.”

Bucky didn’t say anything for a minute.  Steve looked up and saw an odd mixture of sadness, regret, and anger on his face.  He half-winced, half-smiled.  “Sorry, Steve.”

Steve shrugged dismissively.  “It’s okay.”  He clenched his fists in his pockets, partially to warm them and partially to keep his emotions at bay.

After a few moments of awkward silence broken only by their footsteps crushing the snow beneath them, Bucky slowly said, “So what’re you doing out so close to Christmas?”

Steve smiled a little.  “Trying to get into this war we keep hearing about.”

Bucky’s jaw dropped as he stopped walking.  “You… you what?”

“I tried to enlist, but the office was closed.  It didn’t hit me ’til after I got out here and tugged on the door a little that it might be closed because of Christmas.  You’d think they’d-”

“You tried to enlist?” Bucky repeated, his tone undefinable.

“Yeah,” Steve slowly replied, turning around to face Bucky.  He furrowed his brow a little and tried to determine Bucky’s thoughts.  “What about it?”

Suddenly, Steve could easily read Bucky’s face.  It didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Bucky was mad.  Steve quickly tried to think of a time he had seen Bucky this mad.  He couldn’t.

“You tried to get into the Army?!” Bucky demanded, taking a step towards Steve.  “What were you thinking?!”

“I was thinking I’d try to do something for my country for once,” Steve countered, trying to keep his tone civil.

“Oh, you were?  Wow, what a load of good you’ll do!”  Bucky let out a deep, exasperated sigh.  “Why’d you think you’d ever get in?”

Steve frowned and clenched his fists again, now for a completely different reason.  “I thought I’d have a chance.  Thought I’d try my luck.”

“Steve, this is war!  You, of all people, should know the full cost of war.”

Steve threw his hands in the air.  “Me, of all people?!  What’s that supposed to mean?!”

“You saw the look on your mother’s face when she got the news about your dad.  Why don’t you take a wild guess at how she’ll feel if she gets the same news about you?!”

Steve’s gaze dropped to the pavement.  He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block out the memory of his mother’s sobs as she read the telegram.  He let out a deep breath, opened his eyes, and looked up at Bucky.

“Bucky…” he slowly started.  He paused, gathering his thoughts.  “I know you don’t understand.  You’re probably wondering why a skinny kid from Brooklyn wants to try to get himself killed somewhere in Europe.  But… ever since my dad’s left, I feel like I need to be over there.  I need to do something.”

“There’s nothing wrong with doing stuff here, Steve,” Bucky firmly protested.  “There are factories and-”

“And scrap drives.  I know, Bucky.  But I can’t stay here and take an easy day job while other guys are over there, giving their lives for my freedom.”

Bucky clenched his jaw and looked down, not saying a word.

Steve watched him, trying to determine what he would think.  He had tried to phrase his thoughts in a coherent way, but he still didn’t know if Bucky would get it.  He glanced at the ground, then looked up at Bucky.  “Can’t you try to understand?”

Bucky didn’t say anything for a moment.  Then, the half-wince, half-smile appeared again.  “Whatever you say, kid.  I won’t try to stop you.  Just don’t come crawling to me when you get your arm blasted off in a fight.”

Steve tried to smile back at Bucky.  “I won’t.”

Bucky put his arm across Steve’s shoulders and pulled him forward.  “Now that we’ve exhausted that topic, want to come over?  You can spend the night.  I’m sure Maggie will be more than happy to let you sleep in her room.”

Steve grinned. “Sounds great.”


Bucky put the cushions back on the couch as his younger siblings started appearing by the small pile of presents, giggling and letting out short shrieks of joy.  Peter and Timmy rough-housed on the floor while Maggie sat in Steve’s lap, taking in the pictures in the book Steve held in front of her as he read the the story.  The other three weren’t up quite yet, but Bucky knew they would be down soon.  He poured himself some coffee and added a little sugar, then a little more – after all, Christmas demanded it – and sat down on the couch, watching Steve.

He still had trouble thinking about Steve trying to get into the army.  Steve was skinny, but it was almost like he had a stronger, braver man somewhere deep down inside him.  He never backed down from a fight – in fact, he almost always started them – but he was never the one to end them.

Bucky couldn’t help but think that Steve didn’t know what he was getting into.  The trenches were more than a back alley fight – they were the symbol of all-out, no-holds-barred, fight-to-the-death war.

Bucky wrapped his hands around the warm mug, trying to warm them.  He stared at Steve. If anything ever happens to him, I’ll kill him.  And then I might kill myself.

“Mommy and Daddy are up!” Susie shrieked, thumping down the stairs.  “IT’S FINALLY CHRISTMAS!”

Several hours later, after all of the brown paper had been tossed into the fire and most of the gifts had been put away, Bucky slipped out the back door with Steve in tow.  “I’ll be back later, Ma!” he called, slamming the door before she could protest.  He tossed the end of his new scarf over his shoulder, smiling at Maggie’s uneven stitches.

“You don’t have to do this,” Steve told him, shoving his hands into his pockets as they walked. “I know the way home.”

“I know.  But I didn’t want the kids around when I gave you your gift.”  He pulled a small package out of his jacket pocket and tossed it to Steve.

Steve smiled lopsidedly, pulling an envelope out of his back pocket.  He handed it to Bucky.  “Here.  You first.”

Bucky grinned and ripped open the envelope.  He frowned slightly and took the tickets out.  Suddenly, his face lit up as he realized what they were.  “Wow, Steve.  Thanks!”  He shot Steve a wry look.  “Are there two tickets in here because you want me to take you, too?”

“No,” Steve replied, smiling a little.  “There are two for you to take a date.  Lizzie, maybe?” he added with a suggestive look.

Bucky smiled and put the tickets away.  “Maybe.  Your turn.”

Steve started untying the string, slowly opening the package so as to save as much of the paper as possible.  Bucky blew on his hands as they walked, deciding to make a fire the second they got to Steve’s apartment.  As soon as Steve pulled the paper away and saw what was inside, he gasped.

“Actual paper,” Bucky told him, tapping the notebook.  “Now your sketches won’t be ruined by headlines and boring articles.”

Steve stared at the notebook and set of three pencils.  “I can’t believe it.  I haven’t had an actual piece of drawing paper since… since…”

“Since we were in grade school; I know.  You were always the best in the class, and it’s not fair that you never get to draw anymore.”

Steve leafed through all of the empty pages as they started up the stairs.  He didn’t want to think about how much it had cost Bucky – and how paltry his gift seemed in comparison. After a minute, he softly said, “Thanks, Buck.”

“You’re welcome,” Bucky replied, a little dismissively, but inwardly happy because he knew how much it meant to Steve.  He reached the landing first and kicked the brick by the railing, revealing the key to Steve’s house.  “Let’s get in there and make a fire – I’m freezing!”

“You don’t have to do that,” Steve absentmindedly said, still staring at the gift.  “Don’t your parents want you home?”

“As soon as I get home, they’ll have me watching the kids or making dinner or something,” Bucky told him, fishing a match out of the matchbook.  “Let me have a few more minutes of solitude.”

“But I’m here,” Steve told him, laughing a little.

“You don’t count,” Bucky shot back, giving him a look.

Within minutes, the fire was crackling in the blackened fireplace.  Bucky plopped down next to Steve on the couch and dropped his feet on the coffee table, then leaned back and put his hands behind his head.  He closed his eyes and sighed contentedly.  “Man, you’re so lucky you don’t have siblings.”

“I don’t know…” Steve muttered, leaning forward.  He rested his elbows on his knees and started to sharpen his new pencil.  He blew the shavings off his pocketknife before continuing.  “Sometimes I’d like to have a sibling.  A younger sister, maybe…”  He flashed a grin over his shoulder at Bucky.  “After all, I’ve pretty much already got an older brother.”

Bucky smiled.  “Til the end of the line, pal.”