Sunday, June 29, 2008


Shattered pieces, scattered across the floor
They catch the light, reflect it back to the source
And lay quiet
Shattered pieces of something proud
Something that had some beauty, yes
But had more flaws.

Is it better to be broken,
Rather than be imperfectly formed?
Better to be shattered
Than whole and wrong?
Each piece, lonely in its resting place.
So unutterably lonely.
The light no longer gleams.

Each fragment, worthless on its own
But together?
They can make something lovely…
Or something horrible.
In the end, to be shattered is less a travesty
Than staying the same
Staying flawed.

A light draws nearer, an intense, brilliant light.
The pieces on the floor melt
The process is painful, not nearly as quick, as merciful
As the moment of brokenness.

The pieces form something of beauty
The lines of where it has been broken remain,
But the lines remain to be a lesson.
To be shattered is hard.
To be reformed is worse.
But the end result?
That’s where the beauty lies,
for in the result
Is the meaning for the pain.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cat and Dog Diary

Dog Diary vs. Cat Diary

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

CAT DIARY Day 983 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.

Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet.

I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. Jerks!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

This morning? I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe.

For now...

Friday, June 20, 2008


I've decided that M*A*S*H, as a tv show, is completely and totally amazing. I wasn't feeling well today, so I watched the fifth season straight through. One episode in particular, "Hawk's Nightmare," struck me as fascinating. Dr. Hawkeye Pierce is Mr. Indomitability at the 4077th Hospital. He's always ready with a quick remark, a practical joke, and his near-miraculous medical ability. However, even Hawkeye has his vulnerable moments. In this episode, Hawkeye begins to sleepwalk and have nightmares. When he sleepwalks, he dreams that he's a child again back home in Crabapple Cove, Maine. In the nightmares, he's playing with some of his childhood friends, who suddenly face disaster. Hawkeye becomes increasingly nervous, especially after he wakes up the entire camp with his bloodcurdling screams. Dr. Potter finally decides to call in Dr. Sidney Freedman, a psychiatrist who is one of the recurring characters in the well as one of my favorites. Still, before Dr. Freedman can even arrive, Colonel Potter and Radar have a touching conversation, in which Radar states that Hawkeye is losing. "He's losing the war against the war. I mean, you [Colonel Potter] have your horses and you paint. I fight with my animals. But Hawkeye...he wins against the war. He laughs at it, never lets it have an inch. Until now. He's losing." Radar's performance was perfect and absolutely gut-wrenching. Alan Alda as Hawkeye, though, stunned me yet again when he spoke to Dr. Freeman. "It's one thing to live in a shooting gallery," he says, "but now I'm being attacked from the inside. I'm afraid to lie down in my sack, I'm afraid to close my eyes. How do I defend myself from myself?" For all those people that think M*A*S*H is all about quick laughs and lightning fast wit, think again. It's a wonderful show that should get a lot more credit as a drama than it does.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Book Excerpt

Okay, folks, I'd like some opinions/comments on this bit I wrote of a story that's been percolating in my mind for a while. It isn't the one I'm working on at the moment, but I wanted to make sure that it made sense and that I wasn't nuts. Tell me what you think, please? Many thanks.
--A Rather Bewildered Author That's Attempting To Be An Author

The Piano Teacher

Winter trudged up to the blue back door of her piano teacher’s minuscule house. She didn’t really want to be here right now, and she dreaded the long drive back home once her lesson was over. Winter hadn’t been excited like most girls were when they got their driver’s licenses—she loathed the whole business entirely. Her hands just never could seem to obey what her brain wanted them to do. She always made it home safely, true, but by what she was sure could only be the divine grace of God alone.
Her mother usually laughed when Winter complained about her intense dislike of driving. “That’s just silly, Winter. You know how to play the piano, after all. Driving’s no different from looking at the music and watching the keys. You just don’t pay enough attention. You never do.”
Winter smiled a humorless grin. Correction: her mother would only laugh when she was paying attention to what Winter was saying in the first place. Mrs. Lovington did her best, theoretically, but she was a very busy woman. She was president of the board of directors in her medical supplies company, and being a single mother was her second job. What time Mrs. Lovington did have at home (and the time at home in which she wasn’t attached to her umbilical chord, aka, her phone), she usually spent with Winter’s little brother, Stuart.
The silky sounds of Claire de Lune greeted Winter’s ears when she managed to pull out of her own thoughts long enough to remember the fact that there was indeed a world outside of her thoughts. She stood stock-still for a moment, entranced by the beauty of what her teacher was playing. Winter grudgingly admitted to herself that she could never get the music to sound so romantic and mysterious, yet strangely hesitant at the same time. For herself, Winter usually enjoyed playing bolder pieces that required lots of fervor, and classical music was much less fun to play than Broadway show tunes and the sheet music to movie soundtracks.
That was the problem with getting labeled as “talented” in Winter’s opinion. It generally meant that the skill that you had previously enjoyed for its own sake was suddenly turned into a money-maker, a desperate plea for release from the normalcy of the rest of the world. But there was the rub—Winter didn’t want to escape from what was considered normal. Her ability with music set her even further apart from the rest of the world than the personality she couldn’t control already did.
Resigned to the fact that she had wasted as much time as was humanly possible whilst standing on a doorstep, Winter turned the cold brass doorknob and stepped into the house’s living room.
Her teacher, Miss Smith, stopped playing the moment she heard Winter’s entrance. “Hey, Winter!” she said cheerfully as she vacated the piano bench so that her student could sit down. “Come on in. Did you have a good week?”
“Oh, it was all right,” Winter replied with a perfunctory grin. She may have hated the direction that her musical education was currently taking, but she couldn’t find fault with Miss Smith herself.
As Winter set her music up along the piano’s wooden stand, she realized with a jolt of something very like guilt that she’d never really thought much about Miss Smith as a person. The piano teacher was just always there, in the same way that an unused chair in a large house was always there. The chair sat quietly, never producing any drama—unless somebody tripped over it in the dark despite the fact that it had been in the exact same place for no less than five years. It was funny how apologetic a chair could appear while being cursed at for an accident not of its own causing or desire.
Miss Smith apparently had the ability of societal invisibility down to a fine art, whether she realized it consciously or not. Her clothes were always neat and fairly current in their styling, but that just made her look like every other woman of Winter’s acquaintance that was suddenly wearing wide belts or wedge shoes. She wasn’t tall or short, could claim to be neither thin nor fat, and wasn’t particularly beautiful or ugly. Miss Smith’s light brown hair fell in a smooth bob to her chin, neatly, but there was nothing distinctive. Silver rectangle glasses framed brilliant green eyes, her only truly notable feature. She had a small mole on one side of her chin, and her thin lips were usually lifted in a patient smile. Winter guessed Miss Smith to be in her mid-thirties, and she was undoubtedly what an older generation would have called a spinster. The teacher lived alone in this tiny house, teaching endless piano lessons and…doing who knows what else? Miss Smith’s apparent lot in life was to fill a necessary function of life. A spatula is a kitchen utensil. Miss Smith was the piano teacher. It was just one of those rules that no one had ever thought to question or wonder about.
Winter couldn’t even confess to knowing what Miss Smith’s first name was—for all that she knew, the piano teacher didn’t even have one.
“Glad to hear it,” Miss Smith replied now as she sat down in the rocking chair pulled up close to the upright piano. “Did Debussy give you much trouble when you practiced?” She picked up a baton in her slim fingers so that she could point to the music without leaning over at an odd angle. The stick also gave her the ability tap out a beat more effectively.
“Not much,” Winter mumbled. It truly hadn’t—she knew the notes perfectly well. Despite that, she still felt embarrassed, almost as if she hadn’t practiced at all and was waiting for the inevitable disappointment of her teacher. She knew that her performance couldn’t match the emotion with which Miss Smith had just played, emotion that she hadn’t known Miss Smith had possessed in the first place.
“Well, then, let’s hear it, if you don’t mind.” She gave Winter a starting beat with a tap, tap, tap of her baton and then sat back in her rocking chair. Her teacher’s relaxed posture didn’t fool Winter for a minute, though. She knew that Miss Smith’s keen eye was murderously accurate, and any mistakes or falters of Winter’s fingers would be worked through without mercy after she’d played the piece once.
The hour passed fairly quickly despite Winter’s new awareness of Miss Smith’s role as a fellow human being and not just as a very useful object. She managed to get all the way through Clair de Lune without stopping for the first time, and ran through her scales with a bored expression.
At the end of the lesson, Miss Smith gave Winter her assignment for the next week and said what she always said at the end of their time together: “Thank you for your hard work this week. Have a good weekend, Winter!”
Winter would usually reply “Thank you. You too,” vaguely, already worrying about the thirty minute drive ahead of her now that the lesson was over. Today, though, she stopped after the thank you and asked her teacher abruptly, “What’s your first name, Miss Smith?”
Miss Smith’s green eyes grew a little bit rounder, but that was her only outward sign of surprise. Her face was as smooth and as patient as always when she replied, “My name is Tallie.”
“Oh. That’s unusual,” was all that Winter ventured to say.
“Yes, it is, somewhat. As is Winter, if I may say so.”
A real smile broke across Winter’s face at that. “You’re right. Have a good weekend, Miss Smith.”
“You too, Winter.” With that, Miss Smith stepped back to the piano and started putting her metronome and notebooks back in their positions of readiness for the next student. As Winter opened the door to leave, a little boy in a red shirt barreled in, nearly knocking her over. He didn’t even stop to apologize for his near-miss as he headed over to the piano bench and started explaining to Miss Smith how he’d forgotten his music at home and how he hadn’t really practiced that much anyway and how he was really sorry but he had wanted to play baseball…
Winter had gotten into the driver’s seat of her used brown car and started the engine before she realized what had caused that uncomfortable prickling feeling at the back of her neck. It was the sight of Miss Smith’s patient smile as she greeted the boy, even while Winter saw that a deep weariness was suddenly visible in her young eyes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Word from the Management

Despite stringent protests from the Queen Mother, this blog will be undergoing a makeover, mostly due to the facts that a.) the author no longer considers herself a firefly and b.) the author is less enchanted with fireflies because they keep sneaking into her room and she is forced to smash them. It's most unromantic. The completed product will hopefully be up in the next few days. The site's URL will not change, but everything else is going to be different. Hopefully you will enjoy the end result! Many thanks. --The Mgmt

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Height Hath Not Its Privileges

Mom decided that she'd like to play photographer for a while today. She's actually really good at it--I wish she'd take the time and take a class or two to develop her unpolished skill. All that to say, though, that she had me help her herd Aubrey and Evan into the van and we all drove out to the local Municipal Park to take some pictures.

The temperature is only vaguely boiling today, so it truly wasn't bad. I had a good time helping her be artsy-fartsy and working with the location. She even took some pictures of me when the occasion called for it, the sly devil. We were just finishing up when the swing set was freed of small children, and we all went over there to take a few final pictures. There was much lovey doviness as Evan pushed Aubrey on the swing and they smiled together. They moved off to the little climbing wall when I thought I'd be clever and swing for a while by myself while I waited for them to be finished. I'd walked behind them holding sunglasses and stuff, so I felt a few little travels through the air would be in order.

However, there was a problem that didn't appear, at first, to be totally insurmountable. The swings were too high for me to get up on easily. Now, let's just take a moment and examine this little dilemma, shall we? I'm five feet, two inches tall. Just how tall, pray tell, is the average CHILD? The child that's supposed to be able to play on the PLAYGROUND? How are kids that are only four feet tall supposed to be getting up on that gargantuan swing? But I digress. A little jump was in order to get up into the swing.

As luck would have it, my usual poise and grace in such times was with me. Yes, I'm sure the picture is coming clear to you now. As I lifted myself, I landed in the seat. I experienced a brief moment of victory...that is, until I realized that I was slowly falling BACKWARD. I managed to hold on long enough to land somewhat lightly, but the fact remains that I was on my back looking up at sky.

This has happened to me too many times for it to be a surprise. Of course, being me, I started to laugh at myself. About three milliseconds later, I could hear Mom's, Aubrey's, Evan's, and the lady on the big swing that I didn't know's guffaws joining with me in the air. Ahem. They enjoyed themselves for a while, until I finally managed to get back on my feet and brush myself off. A girl wearing a bikini who obviously thought she was hot stuff sitting on a nearby bench wouldn't look at me. Maybe she thought klutziness was contagious. Who knows?

It all goes to show that no day is normal when I'm around to fall flat on my butt. My mother is still laughing about it downstairs. I like hearing her laugh, so I won't complain. Much.

I was going to include pictures of my victory, but my computer's rioting. I'll try again later.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Country Concession

I have a confession to make, dearest readers and friends. It shames me to the core to admit it, but I have to get this off my chest. I, your lovely Katie and Queen of Pseudo-Rivendell...actually is starting to like country music. Yes, you did read that correctly. I was renowned for my abject loathing of country music, and there is a lot I still strongly dislike. If the accent is too heavy and it sounds honky-tonk, forget it. But there is a whole new realm of country out there that I just feel myself being drawn to.......

Sorry. Just squished an ant. How did an ant get on my computer???

But I digress.

To continue, this country music is so happy and joyful, deeply and inherently southern! When I put in Nickel Creek, or Carrie Underwood, or Little Big Town, or Rascal Flatts, or my newest obsession, Keith Urban, I just have to get into it. These are people that are in touch with the heartbeat of America. The south still remembers patriotism, honesty, and the fact that there was a man named Jesus. I mean, look at these lyrics from the Little Big Town song "Boondocks":

I feel no shame
I'm proud of where I came from
I was born and raised in the boondocks
One thing I know
No matter where I go
I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks

And I can taste

That honeysuckle and it's still so sweet
When it grows wild
On the banks down at old camp creek
Yeah, and it calls to me like a warm wind blowing

It's where I learned about living
It's where I learned about love
It's where I learned about working hard
And having a little was just enough
It's where I learned about Jesus
And knowing where I stand

You can take it or leave it, this is me
This is who I am
Give me a tin roof
A front porch and a gravel road
And that's home to me
It feels like home to me

And then, of course, we have the magnificent Keith Urban. I can’t fathom how this guy suddenly became so incredible to me. I mean, isn’t he the dude that’s married to Nicole Kidman? And isn’t he an Australian? How did an Australian get such an amazing country voice? What, did he make a deal with the devil or something? It’s beyond me. I’m utterly baffled. But I do love his music. My current favorite is “Stupid Boy,” some of the jewels from it being:

Well, she was precious like a flower
She grew wild, wild but innocent
A perfect prayer in a desperate hour
She was everything beautiful and different

Stupid boy, you can't fence that in
Stupid boy, it's like holding back the wind
she laid her heart and soul right in your hands
And you stole her every dream and you crushed her plans
She never even knew she had a choice and that's what happens
When the only voice she hears is telling her she can't
Stupid boy, stupid boy

Come on, those lyrics are amazing! You can’t help but agree with me, because I’m just awesome like that. The end result is inevitable. Just give up the fight and move on with your day. Just kidding, of course, you’re welcome to dislike the lyrics—I just won’t understand your reasoning for this lack of judgment.

In any case, I was contemplating this new love of mine earlier today. I’ve had a very pleasant day so far. After some getting-Shelby-to-work confusion this morning that had me up a little earlier than I would have liked, I got dressed and left to pick up eighteen pizzas for Mom’s yearbook workshop today. Let me tell you, folks, eighteen pizzas that have just come out of the oven that are packed into my little bitty car on a ninety-degree day put out a LOT of heat. I could have sworn that I was the nineteenth pizza that was suddenly in an unusually shaped oven. However, I soon had the pizzas unloaded at the school and I was free to go about my business. Mom’s boss was kind enough to give me some gas money for my troubles, and I ended up using it for lunch. I, being the dork that I am, sat in the corner of Burger King with my little meal and read “Jane Eyre.” Hey, I’d finished the Howl’s Moving Castle books and I don’t have my C.S. Lewis yet. Besides, I really like Jane. She’s so innocent, but with an astounding depth of perception.

After this nerdy repast, I got into my car and began to drive toward the other end of town. And yes, I was playing country in my car. Loudly. There I am, alone in the driver’s seat, and I’m TOTALLY rocking out to “Where the Blacktop Ends.” I’m bouncing my head and drumming on the steering wheel and singing along, and I was having the time of my life. It was terribly refreshing. And that’s what I did in-between the myriad of other errands I had to run—the bank, Target, and then back down to pick up Shelby at work. I was kind, though, and didn’t force her to listen to my country. She doesn’t like it. We’re going to have to work on that one.

So if you need something that’s just cheerful and fun and has some great instrumentals, give country a chance.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


I have but one question for the universe at the moment. I'll write more later. My questions for this precise moment in time is this: Why is it so dang hard to write a book? More to the point, why am I so terrified of ruining it? I have so many ideas and I want to do a good job. Everybody says that you should just write out your first book and then throw it away, because IT WILL be crap. I don't want what I write to be crap! I'm under enormous pressure here to go against the tide of experts. In the words of Mork: heavy sigh.