Posts Tagged ‘Family’

So….. It’s been a while.

Basically, I’ve been very, very busy.

First, I volunteered as a counselor at Camp Clot Not. Besides having a really gross name—I mean, the word “clot” just kind of makes me want to take a bath in hydrogen peroxide—Camp Clot Not is a week-long annual camp in Alexander City for kids with hemophilia and von Willebrand’s disorder, both of which mean that your blood doesn’t clot correctly.* In a word, it was awesome. I won’t even try to explain it to you, but I will tell you this: that week, I absolutely fell in love with those kids, and I miss them every day.

Also, it didn’t hurt that I was the only female counselor under the age of 40 and there were four extremely attractive male counselors all of college-age with whom I got to practice Being Normal Around the Opposite Sex, something I don’t usually get to do. It’s a necessary casualty of being a nursing major.

Then I got home Thursday, and at 7:00 Friday morning we were driving to Bentonville for Ben and Rachel’s beautiful wedding. Also I got to ride a horse while I was there. No big deal.

Then I had Monday to recuperate, Tuesday to do… something, I don’t even remember… Wednesday and Thursday to work, and then immediately after work on Thursday I headed to Lisa’s house for an incredibly fun, wonderful, and ridiculous weekend of making obnoxious Facebook videos, shopping, Stone Mountain, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and the FREAKING GEORGIA AQUARIUM, MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD. On this side of the world, anyways.

Also, I think it is worth mentioning that I had the plague while all of this was going on, too. Think sinus infection from hell, plus sore throat, hacking cough, and some freaky heart stuff. Well, the heart stuff really isn’t related, and I got a Z-Pack to clear up the sinus infection, and I’m going to St. Vincent’s in a week to have an echocardiogram. Go figure.

All of that to say that I haven’t blogged or worked on Snell or done much of anything. Except read, of course. I’ve got one book to go until I hit the twenty books mark, and even though I now know I’m going to fall shy of fifty, thirty won’t be bad, either.

Anyways, that is really all I have to say for now, so that this blog post doesn’t get too long, and because I’m getting a slight computer-headache, and because I followed my brother around the golf course in 236% humidity with a literal-not-exaggerating temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit today, and… well, I want to read my latest book.

So Honey Nut Cheerios for now.

. . . . . . . . . . .

*In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t mean that if you get a papercut you bleed to death and die. It means that you get bleeds in your muscles and joints and other internal sorts of bleeding, and it can be really hard to stop. Therefore, these kids have to be given daily or bi-daily intravenous injections of “factor,” which is an unbelievably expensive kind of medicine that attempts to replace the missing protein in your blood that helps to prevent uncontrollable bleeds by causing your blood to clot. Now that is bravery. Imagine getting IV push meds every single day for your whole life. And by the time these kids are in their early teenage years, most of all of them will have learned how to self-infuse. Incredible.

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Hold on to your seats everyone, because this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for!

After years of silence from our dear J.K., we finally have the announcement that millions of fans have been dying to hear: There is going to be a new series!

We even have a title of the first book!

Drum roll please everyone….

And it is….

Hairy Otter and the Albino Dementor!


Hahahaha. Oh, I crack myself up.

Obviously I got into our old Beanie Babies, or at least the ones that didn’t get jettisoned in one of Mom’s Catastrophic Clean-outs (which are in the same category as her Destroy the Greenery Days, in which she decides that our trees have too many branches and starts lopping them off at random). And I was absolutely thrilled when I found these, and it was one of the rare moments when I thought I had come across something truly funny.

Maybe. I guess that is sort of up to you. And now you are possibly pissed at me because you thought there was actually a new series. Well, we can keep hoping, can’t we?

I still have my fingers crossed that she will write a couple of books involving the Founders of Hogwarts.

Hmmm. I have several other interesting pictures in my Photobooth. I think I’ll post them, just for kicks.

Me minus makeup minus doing absolutely anything with my hair. I kind of like it.

Me being mysterious. Probably one of numerous failed attempts to make a Facebook profile picture that would make all the boys like me.

Me trying to look dramatic and with straight hair. Zomg. And a freakin’ huge forehead to boot. But best of all… in Italy! Remember that, blog readers? Remember how it was awesome?

And then these are of my little brother, because my brother is awesome, and also out of his mind. He also doesn’t look anything like this, obviously.

Like I’ve said, he’s pretty awesome.

And now more me, because I’m feeling narcissistic tonight.

Here is me trying to look gansta and tough. I sort of succeeded, I think.

Dressed up for a social club mixer/as a prostitute, apparently. What does it say about me that I kind of like this look?

The time a zit went wrong. Really wrong.

Two Kellums. Both my fondest dream and my worst nightmare.

Okay, you get the “picture.” Hahahaha. I really need to stop.

So… this is slightly less inspired than what I consider to be usual. But I’m posting it anyways, in hope of enticing The Fickle Girlfriend to continue to stick around.

Also, here is a survey that is probably pertinent to your interests as a blog reader.

If you are reading this post, please, please, please, please, please answer the poll. Pretty please with brown sugar on top. (And I don’t give brown sugar to just anyone, you know. Only my beloved readers.)

____________

“So I guess it makes sense why we could afford such a big house, now,” said Mom, conversationally.

Neither of us had slept well. The only motel within a thirty mile radius of Meat Camp was a little Super 8 that I swear to you was harboring scabies in every dark corner, of which there were simply too many to seem possible. I had gotten up before dawn to water and feed and walk Bob, and then gotten a tray of continental breakfast that looked like it was about three years old warmed over and brought it back to the room.

I didn’t say anything to Mom’s comment. My mind had now slipped into that sunny green place called Downright Denial, and I preferred not to think about the house or what it entailed.

“You know, though,” said Mom, musingly twirling a bit of cardboard egg on the end of her fork, “it’s sort of a metaphor for our life.”

“What is? This food?” I certainly hoped not.

“The house. It’s ramshackle and it’s in pieces and all the windows are busted out by a generation or two of rock-throwing teenagers.” And the ivy, and the dead-hair flowerboxes, and the broken door, and my personal favorite, the tree that had taken up residence in the greenhouse. “But you saw it, Snell. It has so much potential, potential to begin again and become something incredible once again. Just like our lives.”

I thought about this, trying to make my way through a piece of toast that chewed like fossilized dinosaur hide. For once, though, I didn’t agree with Mom. Maybe that was her life—something made rickety and tumbledown by years of splintered dreams and Abominable Luck and manuscripts that crashed and burned like the Challenger shuttle. Here, in this isolated place where no one knew her and where we were only novelties because we were new and not because we were abominations, she had a chance to plant new seeds in this hopefully fertile new ground and see what came of it.

But I didn’t feel like my life was a dilapidated old house at all. I didn’t really feel that my life was much of anything or ever had been much of anything, like it hadn’t even begun, as if I were one of those seeds they find encased in amber for hundreds of years that never had a chance to grow. I felt strange, all hollowed out in the middle, like if you ordered a cake and all you got was the icing with no batter in the middle.

Mom delegated out the day’s tasks. I was to take Bob to address 3009 Meat Camp Road to a Mr. Tom Smith (I could see why Melissa had decided to sell him a horse named Bob) while she worked on calling the realtor to find out if there were any contractors in the area who could help with the house. I thought this was probably a good idea, as the two of us put together had the handy skills of a legless salamander.

“Oh, and Snell, ask Mr. Tom Smith about the surprise he’s supposed to have for you.”

I stiffened as I leaned over to pick up the keys off the questionable carpet.

“Surprise?” I said slowly. Those were never, ever, ever good.

“Yes, hon. Just ask him about it.”

Great.

So Bob and I loaded up and took off for 3009 Meat Camp Road. Since we’d gotten here in the middle of the night and all I’d been able to take in was the harrowingly narrow road revealed to me by the headlights, I’d completely missed the surrounding area. Having grown up in flatter-than-a-flitter Charming, waking up floating in the gentle mountains of western North Carolina felt like finding myself adrift on the swells of a gentle ocean. An ancientness hung about the ravines and the rounded peaks like the last bit of fading sunrise mist, so that it twinkled in the corner of your eye but was gone if you looked directly at it. A few houses dotted the slopes here and there, but mostly the undulation of the mountains was clothed in an untorn robe of trees that shifted from the young green of birch and oak to the dark verdancy of magnolia and pine. A tight sort of longing constricted my chest as I wound my way along the snaking roads that I could not name, but it was so strong that I wondered that I could not put words to it.

And then we were there, pulling up the gravely driveway of 3009 Meat Camp Road.

I suppose I had been expecting a modest farm rather like Melissa’s with some cute mares for Bob to flirt with and maybe another stallion or two for him to try to kill in a fierce battle of pheromones and mating instinct. But my expectations were immediately dashed. Over the entry to the driveway was an iron arch supporting a wooden sign where the words “Boys Ranch of the Appalachians” were emblazoned in fanciful white lettering. Rather than the small fields and farmhouse, a sprawl of building climbed up the mountain, dorms, a cafeteria, two barns, a large L-shaped stable, chicken coups, a goat paddock, and several cabins for, I dunno, group feel-good sessions or something. A few people, workers I assumed, were carrying buckets and farm utensils and such to various undisclosed locations, apparently beginning the day’s work.

I parked and got out. Up in the mountains, the summer heat and humidity that had already begun choking the life out of Charming had not yet arrived, and the air was pleasantly cool and the pungent, animal smell of farm animals filling the air. Looking around, I tried to decide which building looked administration-ish or whatnot.

“Well hey there, little missy!”

I turned around. A tall, stringy man in his late fifties was approaching me. He was quite possibly the most countrified looking dude I had ever seen, and let me just tell you, I had seen some real doozies in Charming.

“Hi,” I said.

Any normal person would have followed that “Hi” up with something like, “How are you today?” or “Nice weather we’re having, isn’t it?”, but like I’ve said before, I pretty much missed the development window for social skills. He eyed me through beady eyes for a few long seconds while I tried to figure out what to do with my hands—why do they make pants without pockets?

Finally, he asked me he could help me.

“Oh,” I said. “Um. Yes. I’m looking for… um… this guy. To give him this horse. His name is Bob. The horse. Not the guy.”

Gah.

“Oh well darlin’, you must be lookin’ for me. Mah name is Tom Smith, but you can call me Bill, everybody does.”

Of course. Because that makes sense.

“Hi… Bill,” I said. I didn’t tell him my name, missing the this-is-where-you-introduce-yourself queue. As usual.

Luckily, I was spared from much more conversation because Tom—Bill—immediately set to checking out Bob. He opened the doors of the trailer and took Bob out, not even commenting on the pile of slightly worse for the wear boxes and shrunken sheep head. He examined Bob’s flanks and eyes and ears and all of that other horsy stuff, including checking his teeth, something I never really understood the necessity.

“So missy, how did the trip up here go?”

I told him about trying to back the horse trailer up in the Cracker Barrel parking lot and the failure thereof. He laughed heartily, holding his stomach and shaking his head back and forth like a dog with ear mites.

“Ee hee hee, oh mah Lawdy,” he gasped. “Ee hee hee, rookie mistake, missy, rookie mistake. Did that mah-self, oh, a good forty years ago.”

I told him about Bob throwing up, and this made him look up sharply.

“He spewed, did he? Well, I’ll be.”

“What?”

“Missy, didn’t you know that horses don’t throw up? It’s not in their natures. They can’t even if they want to.”

I took a look at the soiled boxes and then looked back at him.

“Well, maybe Bob’s not a horse,” I said, rather flatly.

This made him laugh again. He sounded like a broken train engine.

We took Bob into the stables. The ceilings were high and well-lit with open windows lining the peak of the roof. About twenty-five horses of all shapes and sizes were sleeping and eating and laying their ears back at me as we walked in. A gigantic chestnut stallion tried to nip at Bob’s withers as we walked by, but Tom-Bill gave him such a stern look that the beast backed up a step.

“That there is Tolon, and he’d nip the hindquarters of the ass of Jesus himself if you gave him a chance, he would.”

It took me a second to realize he was talking about Jesus’ donkey and not what I’d first heard, which made me feel rather stupid, if you can imagine.

We got Bob settled into a stall that already had fresh hay and feed ready for him. I tried to say goodbye to Bob by scratching him behind his cheek like most horses I’d ever met liked, but he laid his ears back so far that I thought they would end up on his withers like vestigial pegasus wings, so I stopped.

“Got a ornery one there, aye? We’ll take good care of him, here, we will.”

I nodded, then I remembered something.

“Uh, Mr. T—Bill…”

“Just call me plain ole Bill, darlin’. None of that mister stuff. Just Bill.”

I wanted to say, So long as you quit calling me darling, I’ll call you anything you want. But I didn’t.

“Okay. Bill.” I took a deep breath. “My mom said that you had some sort of… surprise… for me.”

I sounded completely ridiculous, like I was expecting him to bust out with one hundred red balloons and a birthday cake. Silently, I vowed to memorize every synonym for surprise from our thesaurus the moment we unpacked it so I would never have to use it again.

“Mah, mah, I had almost forgotten! That darlin’ Melissa called me just a few days ago as a favor for your ma, and lo and behold, our stable boy had just quit and run off to the city! So what I mean to be sayin’ is that you’ll be startin’ here with us as stable boy whenever you ready!”

“Stable boy?” I said weakly.

“Well, stable girl, if ya like the way that sounds better!” He cracked up again. I couldn’t see what was so funny. I was a girl. “So when do you want to start?”

Never, I thought.

You are probably going to hate me for this, but I’ve never worked a day in my life. It just never crossed mine or Mom’s mind for me to get a job. Well, until now, apparently. So much for the hundred red balloons.

“Um,” I said. “Start. Um. How about… in a week?”

“Sure, sure, darlin’, just whatever you want. That works just fine, ‘cause that’s when the new boys get here for summer camp and we’ll all just be covered up in work,” he said, and he rumpled my hair like he was my favorite uncle that I’d known my whole life.

I hated having my hair rumpled.

He gave me his phone number and I told him I’d call him a few days later to get all of the details, whatever those were.

I went back to the hotel.

“So—did you like your surprise?” Mom asked coyly.

“Hmph,” I said, sitting down on the bed and folding my arms over my chest. “He called me a stable boy.”

“Well, I suppose you don’t hear all that much about stable girls, hon. It’s usually boys.”

“That makes sense. Since, you know, boys are accustomed to smelling like Bob’s turds all the time and don’t much mind it.”

“Oh, Snell, it won’t be that bad!”

You didn’t smell the stables. They smelled like the devil’s sewage system.” They didn’t, really. I had actually been surprised at how clean they had been in comparison to Melissa’s barn, but I wasn’t about to admit that.

“Well. I know you like horses, and I figured you would get bored just sitting around all day, especially before you get to know some folks your own age. Get you out of the house, keep you from going all stir-crazy.”

The way she said it, you’d think that if I were left to my own devices, I would, I dunno, eat the couch or something.

Hello, all. Nothing of any interest at all going on here right now. Trust me.

Except for the fact that my little brother Carter is in Greece. And I’m in Alabama. Are you getting this? Greece—Carter. Alabama—Kellum. There is something so seriously wrong with this picture that it might just rip a hole in the space-time continuum.

Anyway, since I don’t have anything of consequence to talk about, here’s the next installment of… well. I suppose I need a name for my story. I suppose, for lack of a more creative title, I’ll call it Snell. You’ll see why.

Please also know that I do not necessarily support any of my characters’ personal decisions, before anyone starts freaking out. I just write what they tell me to. Just so you know.

Enjoy, let me know what you think, etc., etc. (Also, if you want to recommend this to all of your friends… I won’t complain. I might even give you coupons to use when I finally get published… ha.)

. . . . . . . . . .

Mom and I had lived in Charming, Alabama for most of my life. We’d moved a lot the first three years, which were the last three years of my mom’s restless stage. Mom didn’t really like Alabama, but the cost of living was low, it was warm most of the year and we both hated the cold, and it was near enough to Montevallo that the college kids occasionally came to town, partied, and went home, which Mom said inspired her. Go figure.

However, the town was also hopelessly Southern. This meant several good things, like the two amazing Mom and Pop joints, Rosalita’s and Ching’s, neither of which served either Mexican or Chinese, and the fact that winter generally only lasted about three months and still usually held at least two handfuls of sixty- and seventy-degree weather days. The bad parts, though, were the ones that affected us most.

Mom and I were outcasts because of these bad parts. For one, she was a single mom. This wasn’t that big of a deal—there were lots of other single moms in the town, too, just like anywhere in the States—but she was white, and I was black. Mixed, really, but in the South and especially Alabama, anything that wasn’t white becomes black automatically. And no one cared that it was fifty years since the Civil Rights Movement, and most people never even found out that I was adopted, so they just assumed she had done the unthinkable and slept with a black man and produced me, the unholy offspring.

Also, we were not Doing the Respectable Thing, something that most people in Charming took as much to heart as Aunt Fiona did. I was home schooled and therefore virtually retarded; Mom worked at a coffee shop and wrote, which no mid-forties woman Doing the Respectable Thing would ever do. Plus, both of us were just outsiders by nature. Neither of us made friends easily, and the few friends we did make rarely lasted longer than a year or two at most. We kept to ourselves, and people were generally happy to let us alone, apart from when the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons came and knocked on the door of our apartment every few months (we always hid).

Of course, no man is an island. Since most of the home-schoolers in our community wore homemade clothes and thought that babies were miracles from Jesus, I avoided them like the plague, and whatever friend or friends I had at the time were public schoolers. They were somewhat more frequent and numerous during the days of elementary school, before puberty made everyone realize that I was Different and therefore not to be tolerated.

During eighth and ninth grade I enjoyed a sort of infamy because I discovered that if I didn’t talk too much and gave just the right sort of smile, I could get boys to like me and therefore, do it with me. This came about because Mom never censored what I read, and when I was thirteen I got into the romance section at the local library. (The only thing worth mentioning about Charming is its library. It was amazing, enormous and housed inside a beautiful old pre-Civil War mansion. It was the only thing I would miss about the town.) By the time I was fourteen, I put what I learned into practice.

I suppose I should tell you that that year and half was the biggest mistake of my life and I’m now drowning in the emotional and physical pain from my wounded heart and fifteen different STDs. Well, I’m not. Did I mention I’m home-schooled? I knew a lot about books and I could write better than most college students by the time I was in sixth grade and I knew my history inside and out and could scrape by on science and math, but as far as things like diseases you could get from having sex—I didn’t know a thing about it. And I didn’t do it for love or attention or any of the reasons most girls do it. I did it because I was curious, and because there was something to the thrill of the catch.

It was fairly easy, really. I figured out something in those days. When guys are looking for body over personality, which most males are until they’re about forty-five, pretty girls are pretty much a dime a dozen. Once girls get past the awkward hair and poorly applied blush and inability to match of the awkward stage, nearly everyone is passably pretty. What guys want is exotic, and a marginal ability to flirt isn’t bad either.

I had both. Not only was I mixed, giving me milk chocolate skin and hair that stuck out like a coal-black dandelion, but I was covered in freckles. Not just a few, but a barge-full, not just on my face but on my arms and legs and stomach and back and even on the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet, which probably isn’t even possible. The freckles and the hair made guys notice me, and after that, what I learned from the books was enough to seal the deal.

You’re probably thinking to yourself what an irresponsible mother about Mom right now, but here’s the thing. You won’t believe this either, but my mom is actually an asexual. No, not homosexual or transsexual or bisexual, but asexual. That means she is thoroughly and completely uninterested in sex. From what I’ve gathered about the world, down-on-their-luck writers are usually supposed to have all sorts of romantic trysts and passionate affairs or at least some sort of unrequited love that fuels all of their work and their desire to live and blah blah blah. Mom had nothing of the sort, and so it never occurred to her that I might.

(Of course, her strange lack of sexual orientation totally freaked everyone out, too. In Charming, anything that couldn’t be categorized was terrifying. Most everyone was convinced that being asexual really just meant she was covering up some sort of super-freaky fetish, and we were avoided like the plague just in case it might be catching.)

Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on your point of view—the actual doing of the dirty deed wasn’t nearly as much fun as the books made it sound. About the same time that the parents of Charming were about to run me out of town on a rail, tarred and feathered for stealing their precious sons’ virginities, I got bored with it, and Mom realized what was going on and finally educated me best she could about herpes and chlamydia and HIV and warts. The warts scared me out of my wits, and that stage of my life ended rather abruptly. I had nightmares about warts for weeks after that.

However, while I somehow managed didn’t have any kind of permanent virus giving me cervical cancer or making me infertile, that stage of my life did have an effect to make me more an outcast as ever. Girls called me a whore either because they were Baptists or because they were annoyed that I had sacked more guys than they had. To the few guys who remembered me past that year and a half, I was just a strange legend, not quite real in their eyes, and certainly not seen as an actual person.

I sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not. I was a solitary person by nature, and I liked the horses at Melissa’s farm and the books in the Charming Library and the neighborhood stray cats and dogs more than I liked people anyways. None of those cared whether you wore makeup or hadn’t showered in three days or if you sometimes forgot to shave your legs for a couple of months, and I liked the low maintenance of it all. Low maintenance, according to Mom, was an admirable trait in any situation.

I’ve mentioned Melissa twice now. She was another reason for our official status as  black sheep. She was an art teacher at nearby University of Montevallo, and she was such a good art teacher that the administration didn’t really care that every couple of years she would run off to California in a drug-induced haze and come staggering back a few weeks later ten pounds thinner with her hair dyed some terrifying new shade of Unnatural. While the university didn’t care, the residents of Charming did care. Hair could only be unnaturally blonde in Charming, not pale pink or mauve or cobalt or once, an eye-jarring rainbow. And we won’t even get into the drugs.

Of course, she and Mom were close friends. Mom did not go in for the whole shocking appearance thing—she actually dressed pretty classily, strangely enough—but they both had the same ridiculously creative, more-than-slightly insane inner spirit and that connected them more thickly than blood. (Obviously blood ran pretty thinly in our family. I was adopted. Aunt Fiona was a cow.) Anyone who associated with Melissa who wasn’t forced to, like the grocery store cashier or a neighbor come to tell her that one of her horses had gotten into their rutabaga, again, automatically became persona non grata to Charming.

Again, we didn’t care. Melissa’s cooking alone made it worth being friends with her, not to mention the edgy artwork of naked women posing with clothed goats and such that she gave us as gifts whenever she couldn’t sell it. I had a particularly nice specimen in my room of a girl who was half human and half octopus. The octopus was the top half.

Needless to say, we did not have many roots in Charming. Sure, I’d grown up here, gotten braces here, gotten beat up in its playground when I was seven, had my first period here, discovered I hated sports here and done everything else here, but it didn’t really matter. Mom says it’s people that connect you to a place, and as our only real friend here is Melissa, and she’s a natural itinerant spirit even if she has mostly lived her even longer than we have, we had no more reason to stay here than the Canada geese that lived on the run-down crapped-out golf course.

Of course, we stayed and the geese stayed. The geese stayed because they were stupid. We stayed because Mom had a job here that paid enough for us to get by and because here was as good as anywhere else.

With the success of Hans the Great, however, all of that changed. While the geese were tied to Charming because of their inherent retardation, we no longer had anything tying us down.

Mom bought a house. In Appalachia that is, specifically in a town no bigger or more important than Charming, in western North Carolina, called Meat Camp. I know. You’re thinking exactly what I was thinking.

Awesome.

Also, Mom bought the house without even talking to me about it first. That never, ever happened with decisions, big or little, ever, ever, ever. Are you getting this? No, I did not want to go to college, but I also did not want my mom suddenly buying a house.

“Have you even seen it?” I asked in horror, staring at her across the kitchen table. A forkful of Rosalita’s finest rice and beans hung halfway to my mouth, forgotten.

“On Google Maps. You know, the street view.”

“Well… well…” I sputtered. “What does it even look like?”

“Oh, I couldn’t see it. It was hidden behind some trees. It seems really pretty there though. Very green.”

“It’s very green here, Mom! How could you buy a house you’ve never even seen? It could be filled with, I dunno, wild chickens, or… or… snipes, or… How much did it cost?”

That she wouldn’t answer. I paled visibly, turning from coffee with one container of creamer to coffee with about ten.

“Hon, this is about adventure! This is about embracing the possibilities of a world that has suddenly opened up its fertile bounty to us! If you don’t take a few risks, then you will never step outside of your comfortable, charming little bubble and taste the wine of a life you never dreamed of!”

There she went. I could only shake my head and begin to imagine living in a house with a waist-deep horde of snipes and debt collectors, because I knew that trying to stop her once she began waxing eloquent would be like trying to stop a one-winged airplane from crashing to the ground. Unless you were Superman, which I wasn’t. I was Snell.

Oh yeah. That’s the other thing I forgot to tell you. That’s my name—Snell.

Three days to go until I next get to ride a horse. I’m pretty much counting down the minutes.

This morning Mom and I got up (early) and went to Pepper Place, the pretty delightful market in downtown Birmingham that is held during the summer months. It feels highly European, which of course makes my brain go a little fuzzy along the edges with unashamed longing, with its booths of vegetables and unique jewelry and fresh flowers, but there’s also a distinctly Southern flavor to it. I mean… you are most likely not going to be getting straight-out-of-the-ground sweet taters and muscadine jam in Florence or Paris. Most of you probably don’t even know what a muscadine is… and to be honest, I don’t really know what a muscadine is, either, except that it makes really good jam and wine.

But the best part of Pepper Place, beyond all shadow of a doubt, is the dogs. 99% of of them are amazingly well behaved (and the tiny, yippy, ratty ones aren’t even to be considered dogs, in my book) and there are all shapes and sizes. And let me just tell you—I simply cannot resist. I’m not sure how many times I said, “Mom, look at that dog!” and “Oh, that one is so cute!” (and Mom said, “Kellum, dogs are your obsession, not mine). My favorite, however, is “Can I please pet your dog?” to which to owners inevitably say “Oh of course!” and then I get to pet the Labrador-Great Pyrenees mix or the Malamute or the golden retriever or the (my favorites) Labradoodle puppy or standard poodle. I’ve never even thought about poodles before (because, you know, poodles are snob dogs), but… I think I might like one. Without the ridiculous poof balls on its head and stuff—I don’t believe it haircuts for dogs.

So what does this bring us up to? I want a miniature Australian shepherd, a St. Bernard, St. Charles cavalier spaniel, a standard poodle, a Labradoodle, maybe a Corgi or a miniature Pinscher, a Koikerhondje, a Toller… oh boy. The list just goes on forever.

Yesterday I got my summerly ridiculously ridiculous hilarious sunburn…. It’s on just the tops of my thighs and stops exactly where my shorts stopped, then in the shape of my tank top, even with a little V from my necklace. The only part of me that didn’t burn that should have was the tops of my feet, which instead just tanned beautifully… in the shape of my Chacos, of course. Because I always tan/burn in my Chacos, because I love the tan lines. Go ahead, you can laugh.

Also, can I say—my brother Carter just graduated from high school. Do you have any idea how old that makes me feel? ANCIENT. That’s how old. He ought to still be in about seventh grade, which is where he kind of got stuck in my mind somehow—I think that’s when he first started getting cool. And he’s going to Harding with me next year, which will be excellent, for we will be best friends forever etc., etc. We even have chapel seats together. Haha… this is most my plan, not his… obviously.

Here’s a picture of a dog. Because I love dogs. And one day, I shall have one all my own….

Today is New Year’s Eve, and I will bet most of you are sitting on the edge of your seats, waiting with baited breath because you have made a very large bet with your friends that, first of all, I would actually post today, and secondly, that post would be about my resolutions for the next year and be in list format.

As you’re reading this, you can see that the first stipulation of your bet won, but unfortunately for you and your pocketbook, the second stipulation is wrong.

Yes, that’s right, I’m not posting any resolutions this year, there will be no list in this entry, and the world is about to end.

Anyways, a very belated Merry Christmas to you all, since I have not posted in quite a while. I got a new camera lens, wonder of wonders, a very exciting gadget that can do both wide angle and telephoto photography (in less technical terms, this means it can be both very zoomed out and very zoomed in, a combination you usually can’t get in a single lens). My parents and I have been going hiking almost every day, which has been a lot of fun, and Dad and I have been running all sorts of errands, and making wrong turns and things of that sort, and I have made my way through another book and a half of Wheel of Time (one and a half to go!), and basically, I’ve just been doing very little of any purport, hence why I have not blogged.

On another note, I’ve been making well-intended attempts to back up all the pictures and such on my computer, but have so far only succeeded in making Mom and Dad mad at me because I generally just end up yelling at my computer, the external hard-drive, and the universe in general for conspiring against me… but you don’t really care about that. Ha.

More happily, I posted two new albums on Facebook, my pictures from our adventures in Slovakia and Vienna on the first half of second free travel, and our adventures in Prague on the second half of second free travel. Here are the links:

Slovakia and Vienna

Prague

Additionally, I have added a new blog to my blogroll (the little list over to the right of my posts) called Zain’s Pics, which is run by a man who lives in what I believe to be Putrajaya, Malaysia, and who has an incredible photographic eye. So if you, like me, love photography, you can follow it, too!

And now, on to the main reason for writing this blogpost….

For about eight months now, I have been more or less paralyzed by a writer’s block of a magnitude I have never yet encountered. Luckily it lifted just enough for me to eek out two decent essays for Creative Nonfiction (and one very bad one, but we do not speak of it), but otherwise, I have been creatively paralyzed, an inspirational stagnation that has, in the past months, even spilled over into my photography—I have not taken even a quarter of the number of pictures this past semester that I have taken in past semesters, not even counting last summer. However, in the past three days, I have managed to squeeze out three ish-poems. I call them “ish” because, to begin with, I am not sure how good anything is after so much downtime (or should I say dead-time), and next of all, because two of them are more fragments than complete pieces, and thirdly, well… I feel like there ought to be a thirdly, but I don’t know what it would be, so….

[Pause while I trail off inconclusively]

Nonetheless, I am going to brave the great wide world with these fledgling poems both to see what you, my dear readers, think of them, and to try to build up some creative confidence again. Ah-hem. So here goes.

“Death of a Common Garden Slug”

s

The next dew will dissolve

this thin trail of secretions

and the pile of white crystals at its end.

I wonder, Is death easier this way,

without a heart to stop beating?

Slightly depressing, to be sure, but as my first attempt I felt it still deserved at least to be entered for consideration.

Here is another one slightly similar, a potential fragment that I may eventually combine with “Death of a Common Garden Slug,” but as I feel the previous poem is mostly complete, I may not, either.

“Phi”

s

Today I am a nautilus.

After fifteen years of avoiding octopi,

of the sinking and the rising,

of the love-making that lasts an entire day

and the garlic cloves of eggs

disappearing into oceanic trenches,

I fall asleep for the first time,

where I dream of Andromeda,

of Andrew slamming into the Gulf Coast,

of bath water careening down a drain,

a falcon wheeling in flight.

For those of you not particularly mathematically inclined, or for the majority of you who do not have absolutely random and unhelpful amounts of information drifting around your brain, “phi” is the number off of which the golden ratio is based, and the structure of a nautilus’ shell, spiral galaxies (such as Andromeda), hurricanes (such as Andrew), water flowing down a drain, and hunting birds of prey all follow the golden ratio. So… hopefully that makes that one make a little sense.

This next one I also see mostly as a fragment, which is why I start it off with a Roman numeral, as part of a larger poem that has yet to appear.

I.

Suppose I dig a hole.

With my hands as shovels, I dig—

when I glance up at the children skinny-dipping in the surf,

they glint metallic. I think

my hands are stainless steel trowels when I let them out on their own.

Hands can be troubling, like that.

At least they do not flash red in my peripheral vision,

red like the bifocals of the woman with three pizzas in her lap

as she drove. After the collision,

the windshield was smeared with red.

The paramedics found the screaming, “I can’t see! I can’t see!”

because the tomato sauce had coated her glasses.

Meh. We’ll see.

This last one is a complete piece and it is both my favorite and the one I am most skeptical about. I feel like, as the longest one, it needs the most work, but hopefully I can pull something out of it. Let me know what you think.

“Beautiful is not in it”

s

Beautiful is not in it, not with you.

I say, What would you like for dinner?

and you reply, We should remodel the living room

into an opium den.

s

For me, love has always been a Swiss pocket watch

or my great-grandfather’s sledgehammer,

but you say you don’t believe in love,

all the while giving me pebbles still muddy

from the silted riverbed of the Mississippi.

In the same breath, you fervently swear

you’ve seen one of the paving stones of heaven,

a golden slab on display in a dingy little bar in the French Quarter.

s

Each morning when you wake,

your eyes are setting suns over the bayou,

and at noon your hands are black and white subway trains,

even though you have never seen a subway.

An hour before midnight, you draw back the curtains—

If you look closely, you whisper,

you can see the slug trails in the garden,

and the moon reflecting in the silver slime.

s

You say you don’t believe in love,

but you tell me if we were golden retrievers,

you would sit next to me all day,

our noses on the windowsill and condensation on the glass,

watching the traffic.

s

Like I know my own name,

I know the map of blood vessels on the back of your retinas.

s

Today, your lips are a doorknob, a cocaine cache,

a rosary, a spiral of dying fireflies,

and without a doubt, I know I would breathe chlorine,

climb Everest naked,

find one thousand needles in one thousand hayfields

just to touch them with a single fingertip,

just to feel your blood plasma foaming a millimeter away.

I am always slightly intimidated by beginning or ending a blog post. Some days, the only reason I do not blog is because I cannot think of how to begin it. Sometimes, I feel physical pain ending yet another blog with the usual lame, “Goodnight y’all.”

I’m also intimidated by the whole concept of kissing. I mean, who came up with that in the first place? It’s just about the weird idea in the world, to kiss someone. Almost as strange as the actual act of producing another human being. (See how nicely I worded that? You don’t feel uncomfortable at all.)

Also, I really hate beginning anything with “Today, I…”

Today, I got up around ten, ate hotcakes cooked by Dad (yummmm, pecans and chocolate chips), and then Dad and Carter left to play golf (Mom was already at work) and I practiced my housewifery skills by cleaning and doing laundry and doing all sorts of helpful things. [Pause for applause] Then around 3:30, Mom and I met Martha and Aunt Becky at this handmade pottery place where we painted various pottery pieces—Mom and Martha and Aunt Becky painted plates in Christmasy fashion, I painted four coasters in a coordinated color scheme in various typically strange patterns—and then we went over to Martha’s house—beautifully decorated for Christmas, I might add, it was all I could do not to walk out with a few of her ornaments tucked into my coat pockets—and had delicious lasagna and garlic bread and had a jolly old time. Hooray for Christmas and family, absolutely lovely.

Whenever we go pick up the pottery—they have to fire them in the kiln and glaze them and all sorts of fanciness—I will post pictures on here for all of you. Which along with my housewifery will complete my transformation into Boring Bloggery. Next thing you know, I’ll be posting pictures of my knitting.

So I have been having some problems with writer’s block—one of the reasons my blogging fidelity has been somewhat in the lacking category—and I found a website that gives ideas. And one of the ideas was “Make a list of fifty things you’ll never do.” (I can hear the groans now.) So… I am going to make a list of twenty-five things I’ll never do. (I can hear the cheers now.) Get excited.

I will never….

  1. Be a man.
  2. Live in Antarctica.
  3. Hate Christmas. I state this after glancing over at our Christmas tree and thinking about just how much I love my Christmas ornaments, which is a lot. A lot.
  4. Become complacent.
  5. Marry someone who won’t let me have a dog. We will have a dog.
  6. Join a cult. Although there is something in me that has always wanted to at least be on the fringes….
  7. Join a nudist colony. Although there is something in me that has always been a little curious about that, too. And yes, you don’t have to ask. I can hear your screams from here.
  8. Shave my head.
  9. Care about golf on my own accord. I say this listening to my little brother and Dad talking incessantly about it on the couch next to me.
  10. Stop learning.
  11. Play professional football.
  12. Be noticeably tan. Be noticeably sunburned, yes; be noticeably lobsterized, definitely; tan, never.
  13. Vandalize a historically significant monument.
  14. Be Mary Sue. “Mary Sue” is an adjective, by the way, not a person.
  15. Find the ability to take myself serious while wearing a Snuggie. Or talking about Snuggies. Or thinking about Snuggies. Or being in the same room as a Snuggie. Mom got an Ole Miss Snuggie from PawPaw and Delores today. Seriousness over until I go back to school, I guess.
  16. Stop believin’, or holdin’ on to that fee-ee-eelin’, streetlights, people, ooooh-ooooh-OOOOH!
  17. Understand physics, computer coding, DNA synthesis, kissing, how anyone could hate Christmas, child abusers, the Internet, how fire works, Schrödinger’s cat, war, why I can fix my hair the exact same way and it turns out looking completely different each time, what the Human Situation courses at Harding are about, what Theory of Knowledge in high school was about, the human brain, or how the first two people figured out the logic of how to reproduce.
  18. Implant a direct hook-up to the Internet in my brain.
  19. Enjoy politics.
  20. Chemically straighten my hair.
  21. Lose the sense of awe that allows me to find beauty even in driving across the flatlands of southeastern Arkansas. (On the way home this past Friday, when we were driving through the flooded areas, in one wooded region the floodwaters were totally still, and they reflected the trees that were jutting out of the water perfectly—blue on blue of the sky, and the spindly, bare anemone hands of the winter trees.)
  22. Like e-books, or books that are anything but on real-live paper and bought from a bookstore or ordered off Amazon. Except books on tape. Those are nice.
  23. Purposefully hurt another human being. Or animal. (Except maybe those little skeeter dogs…. Okay, okay, I won’t….)
  24. Forget this past summer in Italy and all the other places in Europe. I still miss it, every single day, the trains, the churches, the adventures, even—gasp—the pigeons (though maybe playing the Pigeon Game is what I actually miss, in which case I am sure they don’t miss me one inkling.)
  25. Even remotely enjoy the taste of green beans.

For those of you who were looking for something profound, I guess I should have directed your attention elsewhere. Where that elsewhere might reside, I am not sure, but you know. There’s a little slice of my life.

Oh, and here are some quotes, because I love quotes, and like I said, I’m no longer pretending to study, I still haven’t gotten the next Wheel of Time book, and we still have thirty days and counting until the next Vampire Diaries episode, so sadly. Although I have to admit, I have been dreaming about Damon almost every night.

“Are you ready to cut off your head and place your foot on it? If so, come; Love awaits you! Love is not grown in a garden, nor sold in the marketplace; whether a king or a servant, the price is your head, and nothing less. Yes, the cost of the elixir of love is your head! Do you hesitate? O miser, It is cheap at that price!” —Abu Hamid Al-Gazzali

“True love is night jasmine, a diamond in darkness, the heartbeat no cardiologist has ever heard. It is the most common of miracles, fashioned of fleecy clouds—a handful of stars tossed into the night sky.” —Jim Bishop

“The kiss originated when the first male reptile licked the first female reptile, implying in a subtle, complimentary way that she was as succulent as the small reptile he had for dinner the night before.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald

OH! WE HAVE AN ANSWER! HOORAY! LET ALL OTHER CONFUSED PEOPLE REJOICE!

“Friendship is like a prism through which the many variations of beauty are revealed in our lives.” —Anonymous

“Many aspire to change the world but few realize that everyone accomplishes that goal. Each day you live you are changing something. Rather than simply changing the world, one should aspire to make a positive change with each action they commit.” —Anonymous

Just in case you ever wondered, I’ve always been a little afraid of the word “anonymous” because I’ve never been sure how exactly to spell it. The same as with “silhouette.”