Overused

I know that I’ve posted this quote at least twice now, but I was going through my college application essays, and I found something I wrote that I love. I had forgotten about this essay, and I really needed some inspiration, something to remind myself that I’m a better writer than I think I am. So, here goes:

“In the midst of hate, I finally found that within me there lay an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I finally found that within me there lay an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I finally found that within me there lay an invincible calm. Through it all, I realized that in the midst of winter, I finally found that within me there lay an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it means that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me there’s something stronger—something better—pushing right back.”

~Albert Camus

There is an overwhelming, all-consuming darkness that can’t be destroyed, beaten, or killed. It exists within every person on earth to varying degrees. Some choose to ignore it. Some choose to fight. Some choose to let it win, but that’s the worst choice of all. Some people choose to find the light within themselves, and they fight tooth and nail to let it shine through.

No, I don’t want to see the darkness, I want to find the light. If I could go anywhere, real or imagined, in all of time and space, I would go to the invincible place inside myself. I would go to that perfect space where nothing can touch me.

Sometimes I close my eyes and try to imagine it, try to see it in my head. I picture laying in the middle of a field with the grass too high and the sun shining. For some reason I’m in a fifties style dress that flows down to my mid-calf. I spread my arms wide and fall backwards into the tall grass. It’s softer than I expect, but after a moment, I realize I can’t feel anything. Not the wind I know is blowing my hair into my face, not the blades I draw between my fingers. Not the fabric fluttering around my legs. At this moment, I realize that the sun is no longer shining. Dark clouds have covered the sky, promising rain. The lightly blowing wind has now become driving and frigid. The pleasant dress is now in tatters, torn apart by the environment I had once thought idyllic.

This is why I don’t try to imagine the invincible summer inside me very often; it always becomes ruined by my mind. But if I could actually go to that place, maybe it would be better. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt so bad.

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Snowmageddon

It is snowing in Georgia, and Georgia does not know how to handle it. Two weeks ago the entire state shut down, not (totally) because people don’t know how to drive in snow, but because we were woefully under prepared and because IT’S FREAKING ICE, NOT SNOW! So this time around, they shut down school in advance.  It’s raining. There is no snow, no ice, and no sleet. We may have over reacted.

At ten thirty last night, however, I did text my best friend to see if she wanted to get “snowed in” with me. We are currently hanging out in Starbucks (because the locally-owned coffee shop was closed), drinking frilly drinks, and playing on our computers. It’s fun. 🙂 Maybe tonight, we’ll get snowed in for real! Stay warm and stay safe!

~Tessa

Bucket List

On this, the eve of the eighteenth anniversary of my birth, I do declare that I will accomplish the following one hundred items before my death:

1)      Swim with dolphins

2)      Go to New York City (preferably with Laura)

3)      Kiss in the rain (preferably not with Laura)

4)      Fall in love

5)      Sleep under the stars again

6)      Grow my hair really long

7)      Cut it all off

8)      Donate it

9)      Go skinny dipping

10)   Speak French in Paris

11)   Eat a croissant in France

12)   Have a pen pal

13)   Finish writing a book

14)   Get a tattoo

15)   Ride a horse on the beach

16)   See the Northern Lights

17)   Give someone the best present they’ve ever gotten

18)   See the stars from the desert

19)   Cross-country road trip

20)   Have a pet rat

21)   Buy a wedding dress

22)   Kiss someone at midnight on New Years

23)   Ride in a hot air balloon

24)   Pet an elephant

25)   Watch a meteor shower

26)   Have a white Christmas

27)   Go to Juliet’s house

28)   Spray paint on a building

29)   Scatter ashes

30)   Be part of a flash mob

31)   Watch a movie and be the only person in the theater

32)   Make it through a scary movie

33)   Go on a blind date

34)   Trace my family history to before they came to America

35)   Listen to every song on my iPod without skipping

36)   Meet John Green

37)   Plan a surprise party

38)   See Jeopardy! Live

39)   Ride a train

40)   See a real waterfall

41)   Run a mile without stopping

42)   Learn to juggle

43)   Ride in an 18-wheeler

44)   Drive a four wheeler

45)   Go to a drive-in movie

46)   Make out at a drive-in movie

47)   Make a guard at Buckingham Palace laugh (or at least try)

48)   Get a passport

49)   Leave the U.S.

50)   Go geocaching

51)   Learn to surf (at least stand up on a surf board)

52)   Graduate from college

53)   Get my Master’s degree

54)   Sell something I made

55)   Have sex

56)   Have my own car

57)   Hear whale songs

58)   Get another copy of Where The Sidewalk Ends

59)   Become fluent in ASL

60)   Go on a mission trip in a third world country

61)   Punch someone

62)   Make it all the way through a haunted house

63)   Saran wrap someone’s car

64)   Egg a house

65)   Ride a motorcycle

66)   Get kicked out of Walmart

67)   Mail a potato

68)   Eat a meal blind

69)   Indoor skydive

70)   Go cliff diving

71)   Name a star

72)   Try to count the stars

73)   Climb a tree

74)   Have ten conversations with strangers in a day

75)   Attend a same sex marriage

76)   Carve my initials in a tree

77)   Visit the tree years later

78)   Pay for a person behind me at a drive-thru

79)   Spend a day in nature alone

80)   Train a dog

81)   Put a bumper sticker on my car

82)   Cook a meal without using a recipe

83)   Survive paintball

84)   Take a kickboxing class

85)   Do a split

86)   Visit a glowworm cave

87)   Ride in a helicopter

88)   Ice skate on a lake

89)   Explore a cave

90)   Do something crazy

91)   Bake something for a bake sale

92)   Swim in the Dead Sea

93)   Ride the subway

94)   Have a room entirely for books

95)   Go white water rafting

96)   Go to a club

97)   Be in a food fight

98)   Draw something beautiful

99)   Make a blanket

100) Make a wish on a shooting star

Creating Magic

Over a year ago, my great, great aunt Anne died. She was over ninety years old. Lately, a lot of things have been reminding me of her. Christmas just passed, and it was the first one without her. Also, the anniversary was in January and that’s a hard time, my grandmother just posted the last picture ever taken of her on Facebook, and I’m wearing one of her necklaces right now. So I decided to write my last essay of my first college English class about her. We had a lot in common, but we never really talked about it, and that’s something I regret.

This essay is a collage. What that means in terms of words is that it’s fractured. It’s bits and pieces of a story stuck together with no transitions and seemingly no order. But the reader gets to figure out how they work together. It’s pretty awesome, and I was really excited to challenge myself this way.

So, any way, here’s my essay, and I hope you enjoy!

Creating Magic

It is not easy to understand why we want to do one thing more than any other. It is certain that we all are not prompted to do the same thing. With one it is music, with another his easel, while another thrills at the thought of becoming an engineer or an architect. Within our very being, there persists a certain drive, causing us to dream, and to try to fulfill that dream (Chappell).

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The first time I met my Aunt Anne, she was in an assisted living home in Gadsden, Alabama, a small town about an hour’s drive from the Georgian border. Gadsden is a rundown old town with about four restaurants, three hospitals, two grocery stores, a Goodwill, and a nursing home or twelve. Anne was well into her eighties, but she still had her mind. That’s what my grandmother, a sweet woman who uses words like “shitfire” and “damnation,” always said: her body might be failing, but her mind is still strong. That seemed to me to be her only accomplishment, her strong mind. I later learned that throughout her life she’d had two successful marriages (more than most Americans can say), been an amazing artist, journalist, and poet, and been deeply involved in the church. And yet, in her old age, she had been reduced to a mind, a memory.

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#85: Because creating something that didn’t exist before is as close to magic as I’ll ever get (Writers Write).

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Again as I search for the reason why, I am reminded that the descriptive word is necessary to reveal the full beauty of a painter’s masterpiece, the architect’s skyscraper, the engineer’s bridge, or the landscaper’s paradise. Millions never see man’s greatest works of art but by the written word (Chappell).

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“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters I am not. I write to explore all of the things I’m afraid of.”                                                                     

 ~Joss Whedon

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My aunt was the kind of person to aim high. Forget the sky as the limit; she was shooting for the moon. She never let anyone tell her she couldn’t do something, she just did it, and she always managed to excel. She even failed spectacularly before brushing herself off and trying again. Also, she never just wore clothes. It was always outfits. Even if she was just tottering down the hall to get her hair cut every other Tuesday, she had to find clothes that matched and looked good.

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#127: Because a single word can start a revolution, and I want to change the world (Writers Write).

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A luminous atmospheric phenomenon appearing as streamers or bands of light sometimes visible in the night sky in northern regions of the earth. It is thought to be caused by charged particles from the sun entering the earth’s magnetic field and stimulating molecules in the atmosphere (“Aurora Borealis”).

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Words have impact. Words can change the world. Without words, we would not be able to communicate more than the most basic of needs, the simplest of ideas. Words define the world around us and transform it from an enigma into something manageable and concrete. Yes, sometimes words can take the magic out of things. A cold, clinical definition of the Northern lights, for example, undermines their beauty, but thousands of poems written about those same lights counteract that definition. Words can give beauty and take it away. They can create magic and destroy it. You have to be careful with the words you give to people because they can hurt, but if you use them the right way, you can turn a person’s life around. You can move the path their feet follow. When the right words are strung together, they can change your entire view of a situation, or a person, or the entire world.

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The northern cheek of the heavens,

By a sudden glory kissed,

Blushed to the tint of roses,

And hid in an amber mist,

And through the northern pathway,

Trailing her robe of flame,

The queenly Borealis

In her dazzling beauty came!

 

I stood and watched the tilting

Of each dainty, rosy lance,

As it seemed to pierce the bosom

Of an emerald expanse;

And I thought if heaven’s gateway

Is so very fair to see,

What must the inner glory

Of the “many mansions” be? (Smith, lines 1-16)

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 “One must always be careful of books, for words have the power to change us.”

~Cassandra Clare

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“There are some books on that bottom shelf over there that I think you might like,” she said, pointing a crooked finger perched on a shaking hand.

“These books?” I asked, grimacing at the sight of the old, heavy textbooks adorning her bottom shelf.

“Yes. They’re about writing and such. I think you’ll like them. Martha said you like to write.”

I nodded eagerly. “I’m going to be a writer someday,” I told her proudly.

She just smiled and nodded, likely laughing at the eagerness of a child.

At the end of the visit, I tried to sneak out before she could remember the books, but my grandmother caught my arm, shaking her head disapprovingly.

“Aunt Anne, you were going to give her some books,” my grandmother gently prompted the half-asleep old woman.

Anne made an affirmative noise and vaguely gestured to the bookshelf once again. Sighing, I went over and grabbed the text books.

“This set, too,” Anne told me, suddenly much more awake.

Huffing, I picked up three very heavy binders and four more ugly brown books, all with the title Famous Writers Course, knowing I’d never open them willingly.

“Thank you,” I told her at my grandmother’s prodding.

I hauled the books out into the car, and immediately shoved them into the back of my closet when I got home, determined never to so much as look at the books.

~~~~~

Now I wonder why they were so offensive to me. Why couldn’t I have just opened the damn books, rifled through the binders a bit, skimmed the pages? Would things have been different if I had? Would I have been able to have an actual conversation with my great, great aunt instead of just talks about the weather or long dead family members? Or would the gap between our generations still have won out in the end?

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#140: Because I want to taste the stars (Writers Write).

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Aging is a sad, beautiful, terrible thing. It steals memory and gives wisdom. In many, it creates a stubbornness rivaled by mules. It makes the bones brittle, the eyes weak, and the heart strong. It makes a person want to connect with their family at a time when those younger relatives are too caught up in their own lives to make time for trips to the nursing home

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In the movie The Lion King, Mufasa tells Simba that the great kings of the past look down on them from the stars. When I look up at the sky, sometimes I think about that. I imagine that each star is somebody’s deceased loved one, looking down on them and providing bright points of light from that sea of darkness. I imagine that Aunt Anne is up there, watching my many fumbles, my half-hearted pursuit of the dream she held, too, and it comforts me.

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#87: Because I don’t want to leave this world empty-handed; I want to leave having created something beautiful (Writers Write).

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Another reason for wanting to write is the knowledge of the power of words, especially the written word. The spoken word may soon be forgotten, but the written words can be passed on from generation to generation. It is on this “written foundation” that our youth will build. Also, how they build will be greatly determined by the writer’s pen. This fact evokes within me a deep and strong desire to leave some word of strength and guidance to those who read (Chappell).

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#46: Because I want to inspire my readers someday (Writers Write).

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It was a dark and stormy night. Such a cliché, but it was. I couldn’t sleep for the thousandth night that month, and all I could think about was the funeral I had just been to. Was it always like that? So uncomfortable, so cold, so unlike her? I felt a million miles away from every other person in the world. I felt like no one else could ever understand my pain.

Climbing out of bed, I wandered to my closet. I dug through the many piles of clothes, books, and random knickknacks until I found what I was looking for. Famous Writer’s Course. I’m not sure what I was thinking. That if I read the same words she did it would make me feel closer to her, maybe. Or, possibly, that I’d see some handwritten notes in the margins of the pages and know it was a sign from her.

But what I found was something far greater. It was an essay that she’d written, decades before I was born, about the reasons she wanted to become a writer. It didn’t have a title, it started with a story about a little boy, and it put into words every single feeling I’d ever had about writing. That was the moment when I realized exactly how alike we were. And it was a moment too late.

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Why I Write #198: Because it stops time (Writers Write).

I hope you liked it! I know that at least one reader does! (She knows who she is! :D) So in case you didn’t realize, the italicized parts are from my great, great aunt’s essay that I found. If you’d like to read the whole thing (her essay, that is), I posted it on Wattpad.com here.