Y A W P

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“You will never influence the world by trying to be like it”

I’ve been writing a lot of scholarship essays lately; 1000 word papers answering questions about my high school accomplishments (academically short and unimpressive), life roadmaps (planning my adulthood already?) and offering advice to other, younger students (it’s so much cooler to be a dork).

Gratefulness doesn’t cover how much I value the opportunity to apply for these grants; no matter how tedious or egotistical it feels to wrack them out, I really need the money for college.

But I can’t help banging my head on the table as I  write them- the idea of plotting out my life in black and white terrifies me.

Impress board members with perfect GPAs? List all the organizations I’ve been a part of like a dispassionate grocery list, thrown aside if I don’t meet their desired quantity? Frantically wave my arms for attention in the masses of impeccable students, eyes glazed over in a desensitized frenzy? Point me to the nearest plank so I can walk straight off, please.

There has to be more to life than a list of numbers that “define” my success; I refuse to tie myself down to test scores and class grades.

Where’s the fun in summiting a mountain without the challenge of a climb? What’s the point in being alive if you don’t get out and fight your way to do what brings you bliss, every day?  In the words of Walt Whitman, I’d rather get onto the rooftops and shout my “barbaric yawp” to the world than be shut into a desk all day.

I’d rather be courageous. Creative. Constantly in motion.

I’d rather throw commitments into the wind, cut myself off from a world of consumerism and competition. Live a life filled with adventure, meeting new people of unique and fearless character. Swap out the fancy blouses for a tee shirt, slip into a serenity filled with novels, blank notebook paper and an endless supply of colored sharpies. Surround myself in an abundance of spirit and knowledge rather than superficial greed.

Can that be written in an essay?  Is honesty, really, the best policy?

Or maybe I’ll just save that carpe-diem attitude for my novel.

Tangled Bridge

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Sunlight, pleasant and smooth on my cheek
A catastrophic symphony of freckles
Painted by golden rays in every crevice
Of my bare skin.

It was Summer
When long days grow longer
Filled, overflowing,
Spilling over the brim with
Sleep and
          Books and
                      Music and
                                  Dreams of
                                         {creating} Something more.

Young and foolish
We were waiting for fate to surprise us
To seep through the cracks of a foggy window
Like the seed of a strong, sturdy pine
Snatched up by a bird in mid flight.

Fearless in the face of infinity,
Calm in the brink of chaos,
A candle in the depths of the ocean,
Love wrapped in the wisps of her lips.

Fireflies glitter in the palm of moonlight
A grassy yard innocent beneath the shade
A storm cloud, black and heavy,
Threatening to lose its temper
Over our sleepless heads.

Catch me if you see me run
A tangled bridge over rough waters
Hold my hand as I leave
Watch me go even if I
F
        A
                  L
                             L.

 

– still –

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There was nothing but silence. Nothing. Nothing except the delicate warmth of my own shallow breaths, rhythmically masking the familiar squeak squeak squeak of hardwood planks beneath my unpainted toes as I padded down the my pitch-black hallway.

It was 2:30 in the morning, when cozy southern suburbia lay fastened in their bed sheets after another hard days work, the dogs kicking from their dreams of mischief to the purr of an over-worked and under-appreciated air conditioning unit. The air hung motionless and placid around me, as though a snap of my fingers could erupt visible shock waves throughout the house.

I dared not interrupt the peace as I descended through the staircase, watching my reflection on the stairs as though each step were a polished lake, and I was walking on its delicate water. Moonlight danced into the house, gently swaying to the ballade of pine branches through the window as though searching for a partner to waltz with.  It cast magnificent shadows onto my family’s communal living space; once humble dining chairs becoming labyrinths of perplexity and mystery.

I paused at the bottom of the staircase, slipping my hand into the fuzzy pockets of my plaid pajama pants and taking a seat on the bottom step. A warm, silky force bumped into my shoulder blade and I jumped a foot into the air from the unexpended company, my heart leaping a million times over in my chest.

It wasn’t until after I sprinted with heavy foot steps back up the stairs and swan-dived underneath my navy bed quilt, alerting the dogs and eradicating the nightly serenity that I realized that my cat had followed me, quiet as a church mouse.

I guess I’m still a child at heart, scared of what lurks in the dark. 

 

 

Liebster Tag

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Greetings, blogosphere!

On average, I try to maintain a blog with a professional feel; you may have noticed that I publish mostly stories and reflections that I’m proud to share (and refer to other people to experience my writing).

HOWEVER

Variety is the spice of life, my friends. 🙂

Today I was nominated by cinderzena for the Liebster Award, and award from bloggers amongst each other to recognize an excellent blog (so very flattered *blush*) and presenting the opportunity to share other blogs among your readers- all the while answering insightful questions from the nominator.

It’s fun! It’s incredibly uplifting to be nominated by other excellent authors. I adore the international community that has been created around blogging; we all share a passion for writing and a special bravery for sharing our lives with the world- and that is incredibly motivating.

THEREFORE. Without further ado, here are the questions I must answer for the Liebster.

  1. How did you come up with your blog name, and how hard was it to figure it out? Reflections of a Teenage Dreamer took so long come up with and have confidence in- it’s easily the most difficult aspect of starting a blog from scratch. Among other potential names were “Literature Junkie Rambles” and “Stories Behind The Spectacles” (I used to wear huge, thick glasses, so this was very appropriate). I eventually settled on this name because it defined the unique perspective I try to portray on my blog, yet still ambiguous enough that I can basically write about whatever I want.
  2.  What inspires you to keep going?  Definitely my personal drive to write and publish; I love the feeling of putting down my thoughts and sharing them. I’ve dedicated myself to writing a weekly post- even though I’m not always 100% consistent with that goal, knowing that I have readers who give me wonderful feedback on my posts- that serves as awesome motivation. However, I’m a die-hard perfectionist. It takes everything I have in me to finally hit publish because I struggle with believing it’s good enough.
  3. What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you in the past year? I vacuumed up my car keys at the wash and the owner of the place had to take apart the entire underground vacuum system to find it! So embarrassing!
  4. Country or city life, and why? Country. Easily. I can’t imagine life without a wooded creek in my backyard, or passing horses, donkeys, turkeys and llamas- yes, llamas – on my way to school everyday. I love having the open space to live in. It’s peaceful waking up to birds in the morning instead of noisy traffic. But hey, we don’t know what we like- we like what we know.
  5. Reading or listening to music, and why?  This is an impossible question and I refuse to answer- I love both too much
  6. What is one thing you believed as a kid, but now think it it totally dumb of you to think of? I used to believe that if I couldn’t see anyone, no one else could see me. Thus, if I threw a blanket over myself or hid behind the couch so that I couldn’t see anyone else, I was completely invisible. So I would run around the house with a blanket on my head yelling “You can’t see me!!”  Part of me wished that were actually true- it’d be much easier to get out chores.
  7. What’s the best part about blogging?  Easily being able to express yourself on a platform that you made yourself, and getting the experience of having strangers read it. Being able to publish anything, anywhere, any time you like and it immediately becoming accessible internationally can be scary- but the best thing is that blogging gives you the practice you need to become confident with it and learn to embrace the uncertainty. With my blog I have my own little corner that I’m able to call my own, filled with my experiences expressed as wildly and as creatively as I like. The internet is a beautiful thing.
  8. Would you chose swimming in a sea with the possibility of a shark encounter or bungee jumping?  Swimming in the sea with possibility of shark attack! Live life on the edge, guys. #YOLO
  9. Favourite novel of all time?  I’m quite fond of anything by Victor Hugo, though John Green books are the only ones that make me cry (I’m looking at you, Fault in Our Stars and Looking For Alaska).
  10. Advice for first time bloggers? From one first time blogger to another, don’t give up. It’s easy to be sucked into the “my writing isn’t good enough” hole- but understand that your worst post is the post that was never written. You’re writing will only improve if you do it often, and you should be proud of what you show the world. Blogging is an amazing thing, and I hope it’ll enrich your life as much as it has mine.

Whew! That was a lot. Here are some of my favorite blogs that I nominate and highly reccommend you check out:

  1. soulofstories
  2. reflectoinsofabookaddict
  3. justanotherassholewhoblogs
  4. catsandchocolate
  5.  thelotusfire
  6. trailtopeak 
  7. live&learn
  8. silverbirchpress
  9. madcapdog
  10. optimistsuperheros

Last, but not least, here are some questions for the nominees. Anyone reading this, feel free to answer them yourself and leave the answers in the comments for others and myself to read.

  1. What is the most difficult challenge you face as a blogger?
  2. What’s your favorite genre of reading material?
  3. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever bought?
  4. Three tips you would give to other bloggers?
  5. Your favorite childhood memory?
  6. Dream occupation?
  7. Cats or dogs? (choose wisely)
  8. What would you spend a billion dollars on?
  9. If you could choose anywhere in the world to live, where would it be?
  10. What superpower would you want?

Finally, that concludes my participation in the Liebster Award. Thanks for reading, now go out there and nominate someone!

-Autumn Hope

Behind the Scene

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Creativity is intelligence having fun” -Albert Einstein

People are always more complex than they appear. We’re  mosaics; simple experiences, like pieces of brilliantly colored glass, blended together to create an outward illustration that others are able to appreciate.

To write is daring to share each individual piece of glass with the world, and hope for a deeper empathy of the picture itself.

Simply, there’s a story behind every person you meet. As always, they’re just as elaborate and meaningful as your own; especially including your ever-so-typical adolescent blogger. *Insert sarcastic laughter here*

I’m writing today to share a few, entertaining pieces of myself with you.

As of a month ago, I am an independent working woman! (or so I like to think) I got my first job as a dog-washer at the local pet groomer, working after school and spending ten hours every Saturday scrubbing, clipping, and brushing the dogs that comes through. Combine this with my long awaited ability to drive on my own, and I’m at last feeling some responsibility for myself.

Responsibility, however, proves to be incredibly stressful. Balancing a job with studying tough high school classes while maintaining friendly relationships, keeping up with my larger than life family and finding ways to productively express myself keeps me incredibly busy. I may never be bored, but fulfilled- that’s another story.  I know I’m not the only one to struggle with feeling content with yourself at the end of the day.

Maybe it’s part of growing up, working hard all day to distract yourself from other issues. But I consider myself lucky- I find peace in books and a fulfillment in writing. I create goals for myself (for example, I’m currently working to save up for a MacBook) and find joy in reaching them.

My young, twenty-first century mosaic isn’t nearly as complete or sophisticated as others much older and wiser- and yet, it still matters. It’s still a collection of beautiful, diverse fragments of glass.

 

 

 

National Novel Writing Month; An Excerpt

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CONTEXT: During the month of November, I intend to write 50,000 words of prose, which will form a slim novel. Here is a piece of material from my first three days of progress. 

The trees flew past her with as little consideration as a blade of grass to a bird, muscular dynasties of pine turned to flimsy straw by the speed of their woodland royalty. Leaves soared beneath her feet and waltzed in her wake as she ran faster and faster, breaching the shade of forest to the moonlit fields surrounding the home of her dearest friend. It was only a small patch of thickly knitted woods that separated their house from hers, and a narrow trail was haphazardly born by the perceptual footsteps to each other’s property; making the treck to each other’s houses’ had become a ritual of religion that they had partaken in each and every day.

Crossing the Virginian rolling hills of her yard, Andra slowed her pace to a jog so not to be heaving for air at her friend’s front door. The evening’s dew began to permeate through her sneakers and owls awoke to swoop from their branches in search for unfortunate mice as she trotted up the wooden porch. No light shown through the open windows, and the white shutters swayed gently in the breeze like a withering flag hanging on by a thread. Andra abandoned her ordinary routine of violently banging on the door to bombastically announce her presence in fear that the family was asleep, so she shrugged her bag off her shoulders and resorted to climbing to the roof. Unconventional, yes, but nonetheless functional.

Dropping her bag into the dirt below, she gripped the pole on the side of the porch and swung herself  to the side of the house, catching onto the firm lattice so to silently mount its wooden summit. Her arms, strong and agile, navigated the wall with the precision of a city bandit in hot pursuit. Sweeping a stray strand of long, midnight brown hair out of delicately freckled face, she transcended towards the flicker of lamp light peeking through her friend’s bedroom curtains. Jumping onto the landing with a subtle thump and padding her way to the window, Andra tap tap tapped on the glass, careful not to slip on the roof tiles and fall to the patch of rose bushes below.

“Andra!” sounded a sharp, youthful whisper from behind the glass.

“Evelyn!” mocked Andra in the same tone, “my deepest apologies for interrupting your excitingly lonely night in, but I appear to be on your roof”.

“No kidding.” she sarcastically huffed in reply, unlocking the hatch to the window and ushering her in with routine ergency.

Andra leaped, like a gazelle, from the roof and through the window to the carpeted floor of Evelyn’s room. The warmth of the house blanketed her in familiar affection, a relief after her chilly endeavor with the elements.

“Where is everybody?” Andra asked. Evelyn had a sizable family; eight people in all- a rambunctious older brother, two talkative little sisters, a free-spirited step brother, her introverted parents, a hot headed uncle and herself- contently nestled within arms length of each other in a  farmhouse prized by the provincial town of Strasburg, Virginia. They welcomed Andra, who lived with her aloof grandparents just beyond the forest between their properties. as one of their own- and she accepted their intimacy with delight.

“My parents are still here, but everybody else went for a late night hike with my uncle Charley,” she replied.

“And you didn’t go with them?” Andra questioned, flabbergasted that her friend didn’t jump on the opportunity to go adventuring with her outlandish uncle. He was a bundle of reckless fun, the kind of child-like energy Andra lacked and craved for at her own home.

“Oh god no,” Evelyn said repulsively, “I’ll take full advantage of the rare opportunity to have privacy in my own bedroom over a soggy hike in the dark any day.”

“Hmph. You need to live a little. Have I taught you nothing?” Andra teased, knowing the poking would agitate her.

“I guess not,” Evelyn smirked, looking at her with an exasperated roll of the eyes.  Andra collapsed onto the bed in the corner with a groan, gathering her thoughts to distract herself from previous obligations so to focus on an evening in good company. Admiring the artwork on Evelyn’s wall – she considered herself a budding artist and sheathed her entire bedroom with magnificent trees and fluttering birds of her own hand- she reached under the bed to pull out an old, fraying backpack.

“It seems heavy,” Andra commented.

“What does?” Evelyn asked, giving only half her attention to the conversation as she opened the door to the bathroom and began rummaging through the drawers in search for Aspirin. She suffered from strong headaches in her temple most evenings, and refused to have her activities interrupted by it.

“The bag I keep under your bed,” Andra replied, shaking her head at her friends lack of understanding simple implications. “It’s so much heavier than last night. Did you add anything to it?”

“Sure did,” she admitted, “I put a bottle of rubbing alcohol in there, in case you get cut on the wrench. Better safe than sorry.”

“You honestly think something is going to go wrong?” Andra questioned.

“Of course I do! Firstly it’s against the law, it’ll be in pitch black darkness, and I’m horrible in stressful situations. If we get caught, I’m done for. I have no idea why I’m even doing this!” Evelyn argued, the rise in her voice provoking movement from her parents’ room below.

“Shhhhh!” Andra interjected, “Your parents have no idea I’m here, and with my grandparents telling them about my habit of sneaking out at night. I can’t afford any mistrust between them and me. Everything will be fine, I promise.”

For years, Andra had ridden her bike along a long, winding road about three miles from her house called Penny Lane. Being the biggest Beatles fan you’ll ever meet under the age of twenty, it had been her lifelong ambition to steal the ironic sign  and hang it proudly above her record player at home. The one advantage, she’d always say, of living with your grandparents whose youth was in the sixties was their impeccable taste in music- and that impeccable taste had been proudly passed down to her. Tonight, that dream was going to become a reality whether Evelyn liked it or not.

“Just understand,” stammered Evelyn, “that I do not want to do this.”

“And you’re not,” Andra told her with a wink and a grin, “you’re merely providing the getaway car.”

“Because, after four tries, you still can’t pass a simple driving test.”

“That’s beyond the point! What I lack in skill I make up for in spirit. And that’s what matters! Am I right?” Andra fought back, determined not to be discouraged by this playful attack.

“Whatever you say,” Evelyn dismissed, crossing the bedroom to join Andra on the bed.

“Let’s leave within the hour then,” Andra continued. a satisfyingly mischievous grin growing across her lips. She had an audacious heart and a quick-witted mind that longed for, lustfully, adventure such as this. She’d been waiting her whole life to pull this stunt, and could practically taste the adrenalynn it would reap.

“Come on Evelyn,” Andra concluded, the excitement within her growing, “Let’s go have some fun.”

When Books Come to Life

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I have finally returned, weary and jet lagged, after a fourteen hour flight from Italy to America completely exhausted from a 9-day-long trek across Paris, Rome, Florence, Tuscan countryside and  foothills of the Alps; after which, I am proud to say, I write bearing extraordinary stories and perspective.

My experience with travel is almost philosophical; understanding that to travel is not to simply put yourself in different landscapes, but to open your eyes to those landscapes and become aware from them; allowing yourself  to learn a newer and deeper outlook as you read more pages from the book the world has to offer to you.

The hard part is to have that perspective linger on after you return.

With that said, my heart and my love was completely stolen by Italy. Which, I admit, was opposite from what I expected.

I was pinching myself as I walked through Rome just to believe I was actually there, forcing myself to accept my own eyes as the Colosseum crept into sight and 2000 year old ruins stood at every corner.

Physically the ruins may crumble, but they came back to life as I pictured them in all their glory described in the history books I have endlessly studied; books that have become my friends suddenly materialized in front of me, cathedrals of imagination that I will never, ever forget.

The people and their culture, despite nearly getting me killed on several occasions by their horrible driving, were playful and charming- shouting “prego!“, or “thank you!” at everyone in sight at every opportunity even in the most inappropriate of moments.

Their religion was worn as a badge of honor, the population being 99% catholic, with portraits of the Virgin Mary at every intersection and church processions in the streets featuring marching bands shouting out hymns as the masses gathered around them.

Their food- oh my gosh their food– was food as you’ve never tasted before. The pasta was smothered in a heavenly perfection of tomatoes and olive oil, the pizza a flawless balance of herbs and cheese, the bread a symphony of Italian wheat and garlic.

I’ve grown from the trip and gained some more perspective, for traveling is a major aspect to my life that I’m grateful for. Experiencing cultures that shake the anchor of your own and appreciating the world is something I feel a lot of people my age lack. It’s one thing to read it in a book, but a complete other to experience it for yourself.

I didn’t want to leave, and it was melancholy as I watched the Alps disappear out of the airplane window on the flight home. But I’ll be back one day, because Italy has thoroughly and unconditionally won me over.