A letter to Jane Austen, on the 200th anniversary of her death

Dear Miss Austen,

I hope you will forgive my tardiness in writing to you. This week’s business caught me unawares. I’m sure you will forgive me when I tell you I was tending a library.

I feel the need to mark this occasion, though it is a sad one. You have been such a tremendous friend to me and to millions of others, and though I wasn’t a thought in anyone’s mind when your funeral was held 200 years ago, I will eulogize you now.

Though I never did and never could meet you when you were alive, I feel as though I know you through your stories. My mother bought me Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice for Christmas when I was thirteen. I received the rest of your books for my subsequent birthday. It took me a while (I am a terribly slow reader when it comes to the classics), but I grew to love your stories and, through them, you. In your works, I found ladies who understand what it’s like to deal with the challenges of growing up, of finding love and losing it, and of learning how to go after your desires. These ladies quickly became friends and role models. I still aspire to be as selfless as Anne Elliot, as witty as Lizzie, and as determined as Emma.

In your stories, I also found something that I didn’t know I was looking for. I discovered the sense of human continuity that only stories can bring, the knowledge that though people’s circumstances and social and political climates change, human nature remains the same. It is so lovely to pick up a book and read that a heroine from two hundred years ago had the same hopes and fears that a somewhat awkward heroine, such as myself, now has. That sense of continuity, of belonging not just to my time and place, but to a greater family called humanity, is such a gift. And you gave that to me and I’ll always be thankful.

Miss Austen, you worked so hard and received so little success during your brief time on this earth. But I am happy to tell you that things have changed. Women can now be and are recognized as great writers and contributors and storytellers. You helped pave the way for the rest of us and I can never thank you enough for that as well. Your determination in continuing to put pen to paper has helped me and so many others take up our own pens and write our own stories. Your struggles have borne much fruit. I hope that you know that and that you are proud of all of us.

God rest you gently, Miss Austen. May your stories and your legacy always live on.

Infinities of love,

Elizabeth

Check in #1

“Life piles up so fast that I have no time to write out the equally fast rising mound of reflections.”–Virginia Woolf. 

This quote has described many phases in my life, particularly in college, but seems especially salient right now. There’s been so much going on that I’ve barely been able to talk to my parents or think, let alone blog about things. I’ve also realized that I don’t do short posts about what’s going on with me. I do posts about bigger things such as questions or struggles that I’m having, but I don’t write about the day to day stuff. So here’s a little bit about the day to day stuff. A few of the things on this list aren’t small, but it’s been usually busy lately. Hopefully things will slow down now.

  • I got promoted at work! I’m going to be a full time reference clerk! It’s going to be incredibly different from my work in the children’s department. I was really unsure about it at first but as I’ve been trained, I’ve become less and less scared and more and more excited. I’ll get to build different skills and work with different people. I start the new job at the end of this month and we’ll see how this goes.
  • Two of my best friends got married to each other! Remember the wedding I told you I was going to be in? If you don’t, I don’t blame you, since I told you about it back in November. That was this past weekend! I’ve been so blessed to watch these two go from friends to good friends to being a couple to now being married. It’s been such a joy, so much so that I don’t think I’ll be able to process all my thoughts and feelings about it for quite some time. I’ve already warned the bride that I’ll probably call her up in October and be like “YOU GOT MARRIED???? WHAT THE HECK???” Congratulations, Miles and Abigail!
  • I got my first smart phone recently. I got my first cell phone in 2012 and I got a different phone last year and I’ve hated it ever since. I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a smart phone and this seemed like a good time to do it. It’s been an interesting experience so far. While it’s been an incredibly helpful communication tool, I can already tell that it can quickly become an obsession and a necessity, as so many people view their phones these days. I’m trying hard not to let that happen, but at the same time I’m curious as to what this technology has to offer.
  • I’ve been listening to musicals more recently and I forgot how much I love musical theater. Ever since the Tonys I’ve been on a musical kick. I’ve been listening to Hamilton more and I’ve lately gotten into Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Dear Evan Hansen is next, but I’m waiting until things have settled down with me before jumping into a soundtrack that has already made me cry and I’ve only listened to three songs. Definitely give all these shows a listen if you haven’t.
  • George Bernard Shaw is a fantastic playwright. I’ve been doing a lot of rereading lately and toward the middle/end of June, I really wanted to re-experience a play that I saw in college, called Arms and the Man.  Though I hadn’t read it, it was amazing to read the script for it and to remember how wonderful that production was. I was struck again just how witty and how precise he is in his use of language and development of character. I’m reading Saint Joan now and I love it.

So that’s a little about some of the many things going on in my life. I’m going to try to blog more often and to be a little more open and honest about what’s going on in my life on this blog. I hope you all are doing well. Bye for now.

The inevitable anniversary blog

It’s been a year. Since I graduated from college, that is. That fact is so hard to believe.

marci, catherine and me

From the right, my friend Marci, my roommate, Catherine, and me. We met at our pre-orientation and ended up being in a lot of classes together since we were all English students. This was taken before the big ceremony. No one looks good in academic livery, but we didn’t do too bad. 

In many ways, it still feels like I’ve been on an extended break, that I’m still waiting for the call from my university, wondering why I haven’t come back to finish up my studies. But I did finish and I do have the diploma, and now I have a year’s worth of work, interview, and writing experience I couldn’t have seen coming. And through all of that, I’ve learned a lot. The following list is not a list of things I’ve learned and then moved on, it’s more of a summing up of bits and pieces that have been reinforced to me over and over during this first year in the “real world”.

  1. There will be twists and turns you won’t expect. And things will not go your way.  Learn to be okay with that.
    I’m not going to get into too much detail here, but suffice it to say that the dreams I had of getting the perfect job and moving away from home right after I returned from school did not happen. There have been so many days that I’ve beaten myself up because I feel like it’s my fault that I am not where I want to be in life right now. While I know that sounds stupid (and it kinda is), it’s also an understandable reaction. People’s dreams sometimes take a long time to come true, if they ever come true at all. And while that’s discouraging, being upset about it doesn’t help anything. So if you ever feel sad because you don’t feel like you’re where you’re supposed to be in life, it’s okay to be sad, but don’t let that sadness weigh you down. Use that sadness as fuel to keep going. You can do it, even if you don’t think you can.
  2. Celebrate your successes, even the little ones.
    It can be easy, especially when you’re just starting out, to ignore the successes you do have because they are not the kinds of successes you’re aiming for. Success involves a lot of plodding along on a path that will eventually take you where you want to go. It’s so dumb and demoralizing that (at least in the U.S.) we have this idea that success occurs in a shoot-to-the-moon kind of fashion and that once you are deemed “a success”, you better do all you can to hold on to that title and that validation. While those stories make for interesting fodder for Hollywood, I’d safely wager that if you ask any successful person, they’d tell you just how long and how difficult a journey it was. So celebrate your little successes, because that means you’re one step closer.
  3. The key to being thankful is being observant.
    Noticing the little things and taking the time to be thankful for them is almost, maybe even more important thank being grateful for the big things.
  4. Getting an interview doesn’t mean you have to take the job, if they even offer it to you.
    Since I started my job search late last May, I’ve had several in-person and phone interviews for different jobs. The one thing that has been consistent with all of those interviews was the fact that I got incredibly anxious about moving and how I would handle the job before the interview even happened. While it’s important to be well-informed about the job, what you’ll be doing, and where you will potentially be living, it’s also important to keep yourself calm and not to get ahead of yourself. While getting an interview is a good sign, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get the job or that you’re going to have to figure everything out at the drop of a hat. Take everything as it comes and don’t try to climb the mountain before you’ve even arrived at its base.
  5. There are some things school hasn’t and couldn’t prepare you for.
    School, like everything in life, is a mix of the mundane and the magnanimous. It’s only now that I’ve been out of school that I realize just how much of school I found boring, even though I know I’ve been incredibly lucky to attend school at all. I’ve also realized that, though school feels like it finishes your education, it really is only the beginning. I remember my Victorian lit professor telling us that when we were discussing the influence of England’s universities on the writers of that period. He said something like, “The end of our formal education is only the beginning, which is why they call graduation commencement.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little reflection of my time out of the education system. If you have any school/life stories you’d like to share, please do! Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, stepmothers, godmothers, and mothers-to-be!

 

Years and raining blossoms

Hi, everyone. I’ve had two realizations this week and it’s only Tuesday. The first is that it’s April and April means it’s National Poetry Month and I haven’t put up a single poem yet. The second is that, as of tomorrow, I will have been keeping this blog for an entire year. That is bananas. This time last year, I was a college senior struggling to keep it together long enough to graduate. And now, well, I’m still struggling, but I’ve been able to write and do work that I am grateful to do. I just want to say thanks for reading and sticking around, everyone. Here’s to hopefully many more years of blogging! And now, without further ado, here is a poem to celebrate National Poetry Month.

They say that, when the blossoms rain early,

the sky is not too far behind,

that the days will stretch out

and then shrink back in on themselves

again, reaching

for the blackness

that, summer or winter,

is always there,

after the sun sets

and before the dawn.

I wonder about that night

before the dawn,

if it feels neglected since people

almost always want it gone.

Or if it doesn’t care

and shines forth regardless,

casting the sky in crowds of stars.

Some time,

I will stop wondering

and start wandering

and seek the answers

to the world,

to the darkness,

the light,

and the everything in between,

myself.

 

Thoughts on finishing a first draft

Guys. IT’S DONE! The first draft of the novel I’ve been working on since last June is done, as of 10:19 p.m last night. Huzzah!

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Courtesy of Tumblr.

I can’t believe it’s done but at the same time, I’m so glad it is. I feel slightly less relieved than when I turned in my thesis, which was when I felt the most relieved I’ve ever been about finishing anything. At the same time, I miss it already and I feel like, with a lot of work ahead, it could be something good.

This isn’t the first first draft I finished. I finished the 188 page mess of a first draft of a different novel on New Year’s Eve in 2009. This one is 275 pages and is still a mess, but so much less so, it seems. Maybe it’s because I let myself work on the scenes I wanted to work when I wanted to work on them. Perhaps it’s because I’m not 15 any more, as I was when I finished my first initial draft of that other story. I know so much more about writing and about myself and maybe that’s what has made all the difference between that first story, which was so difficult to write, and this one, which was much easier to handle.

I’m sorry if this doesn’t make much sense. My brain is still so addled from finishing it. But I just wanted you to know that the first draft is done and you’ll no doubt be hearing more about it as I revise and eventually send it out into the world. But first, it’s time for a break to pursue some other projects.

That’s all for today, loves.

 

My friend, St. Patrick

Hello, everyone! I’ve been trying to think of a way to blog about the past few weeks. Nothing’s been wrong, but there’s been a lot going on. A funeral. A wedding. My first event as a photographer. A fitting for a bridesmaid dress. A lot of work and a lot of editing. Working on the first draft that is a few pages away from being done (I think.) But since I can’t  seem to find the words to adequately express my thoughts on all of this, I thought I’d talk about St. Patrick instead, since it is, after all, his feast day.

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A beautiful icon of St. Patrick. Photo courtesy of stpatswichita.org

St. Patrick is one of my favorite saints. You can read more about his life here since I do a terrible job of trying to sum up people’s lives in a few sentences. I think the quality I most admire in him, aside from his unyielding faith, is the fact that he was able to keep going despite the hardships. He grew closer to God after he’d been captured by the raiders, joyfully returned home after daring the perils of escape, and was brave enough to return to Ireland when asked in a dream. He was able to roll with the punches and keep trusting God and doing his work. Though we’ll never know what private struggles Patrick had, the fact that he was able to keep going and to keep spreading the faith is just amazing. The results of his ministry can still be seen in Ireland today and will be around for some years to come, God willing. Patrick’s persistence and zeal are incredibly inspiring, especially to someone like me, who has a tendency to struggle to keep being faithful when things get rough. And it has been a struggle, for quite some time now.

St. Patrick is someone I think everyone, whatever they believe, can be inspired by. I pray that this great saint blesses the world with his faithful persistence. I’ll be back soon. God bless you.

P.S. Below is one of my favorite songs from the wonderful Irish duo, Makem and Clancy.

P.S.S. I had another story come out last week. You can read it here. This one was my senior English thesis for college so I’m incredibly proud that it has found a literary home. Please read it and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never too much reassurance

It’s okay

don’t listen

when they say

you have to have it all figured out

because the journey

doesn’t end

when it’s yours to win.

That’s when it all begins.

 

Hey, lovelies. I just wanted to put up a little poem I wrote a few weeks ago. I hope everything’s going well for you. I have a crazy couple of weeks ahead of me but I’ll be blogging a little more once things are done. Hang in there, everyone.

Something I saved and forgot about but needed

Hi, everyone. I was randomly looking through my bookmarks on my computer and I found something I stashed away and forgot about. But sometimes the things we find randomly are the things we need the most and that is definitely the case with this article. It’s called “To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind in Life.” You can read it here.

This is definitely something I’ve been struggling with, especially lately. I hope it helps you, along with this song from a new musical entitled “Dear Evan Hansen.” It’s about an anxious teen trying to deal with the social pressures of high school and the lyrics are tremendously and scary accurately written. Check out the other songs from this musical, they’re great.

 

We’ll be alright, guys. We can do it.

A wee little story

Ahoy, everyone. Today’s post is just a tiny one to tell you that I’ve got a new story out! The marvelous folks at 101 Words published one of my stories and you can read it here. Theirs is a fantastic website full of amazing, bite-sized stories. A huge thank you to them for publishing a story about a struggle of mine.

Do let me know what you think about it! I will see ya’ll soon!

7 things I’ve learned so far in 2017

Hello and an incredibly belated Happy New Year to everyone. I’ve been meaning to post for a while, but if you’ve been following this blog for more than a little while, you’ve probably noticed that blogging is the first thing that gets thrown to the wayside when life gets crazy. I’m going to work on that, I promise. To bring everyone up to speed with what’s been going on in my life, here’s a list of 17 things I’ve learned so far in 2017.

  1. I really need to fix my sleep schedule.
    It’s kinda ridiculous how much this needs to happen and how long I’ve been putting it off.
  2. Being immersed in a writing project is one of the most amazing, forgiving things.
    I’m heading toward the finish line with my current manuscript. It’s been an exciting, difficult, but totally rewarding process and I’m eager to keep working on it and make it better.
  3. While I consider myself a good writer, I know I’ll never write anything as remotely cool as Hamilton.
    I finally finished listening to the whole soundtrack on Monday. I cried three times. Favorite songs right now are “Wait for it”, “Dear Theodosia”, and “History has its eyes on you.”
  4. In a time of quick action and loud protests, contemplative silence and calm listening can be subversive but necessary acts.
    I’m not going to say too much about this, but let’s just say I’m an American who doesn’t like joining in on flame wars on social media. That should tell you all you need to know. More importantly, listening and observing what’s going on can be just as crucial as reacting to current events, when direct action is not mandatory, of course.
  5.  Watching a dog learn to play with toys is fun.
    We bought Pongo a tug of war toy when we first got him. He’s shown no interest in it until now since I took it into my head to try to channel his biting habit into something that doesn’t end up with me covered in dog slime. It’s worked really well and he’s becoming really protective of it. It’s adorable.

6.Manga is amazing both as an art form and a method of storytelling.
I started reading Library Wars when I saw it on the “To be shelved” cart at work and I picked up the first three volumes and immediately loved them. It’s a story set in an alternate future in which censorship has become the norm under law except for libraries and the librarians who staff them. The fight for censorship has become so vehement that a library defense force was created, an organization that Iku Kasahara has wanted to join since she encountered one of the defense agents in high school. Though she’s much too opinionated and clumsy to be totally suited to military life,  her passion and verve see her through. It’s a funny, upbeat, and surprisingly deep series that makes me smile no matter what. Definitely check it out!

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Photo credited to amazon.com.

7.Time doesn’t owe us anything.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. Toward the new year, it seemed like everyone was so ready for 2016 to end. And I can understand why. It was a tough year on a number of levels. But for all the bad that happened, there was good that happened, as well. Despite all the bad things, now more than ever, we need to recognize good things when we see them because they are the things worth fighting for. Also, time doesn’t owe us anything, as I said earlier. The only thing time owes to humanity is to keep going. It’s the ultimate soldier, it just keeps marching on. And if it stops, that’s it, for Time and for us.

What have you learned this year so far? Feel free to let me know in the comments. As previously mentioned, I’m really into my current project right now (for more details, read this). I will try to maintain a somewhat normal cycle of blogging, but we’ll see how it goes. Thanks for sticking with me, lovely people.