In which I attempt to explain my life for the past 6 months

My world has been a whirlwind for the past year.

I say past year, and I mean past year. Not since the beginning of 2020; since March of 2019.

I’ve been meaning to explain all this for a while, for those who might have picked up bits and pieces of the story and could be confused, and for everyone following this blog who’s noticed my repeated absences. And since I’ll probably be stuck in the house for the foreseeable future, now is as good a time as any to get you all caught up and try to move forward with this blog.

There’s a lot, though. It’s a bit hard to know where to start…

I suppose I should begin at the beginning and go on till I come to the end; then I’ll stop.

(someone will get that, and I have a pretty good idea of who the first one will be…)

So, the beginning:

About a year ago, my dad’s job in West Virginia was terminated. It was a complete shock. We’d moved to the area we were living in then when he took that job, about 5 years before. We were quite comfortable in our lives there, and while we always had the idea of moving back to the South (where both my parents were from and all but one of us kids had been born) in the back of our minds, we weren’t looking to do it so suddenly.

Dad looked for a new job that wouldn’t require us to relocate. But after months of searching for opportunities in the area, he had no leads. So the search moved gradually South. And finally, he found something – in South Carolina.

So we were finally getting back to the South. Not really “my part” of the South — I was born in central North Carolina, and I think that’ll always be Home for me in a very personal way.

My dad started working at his new job, but the rest of us continued to live in our house in WV for a while, getting things ready to put it on the market, saying goodbye to our friends, and getting the essential things packed up. The plan was to move into a (quite small) rental house in North Carolina owned by some family members until our house in West Virginia sold when we’d move and everything we’d left in West Virginia into a permanent house near Dad’s new job.

To be honest, I loved the months we stayed in North Carolina. The house was tiny, and we only got to see Dad on the weekends, but we were only a few minutes from a bustling town – grocery stores, shopping, a nice Books-a-Million, a bunch of craft stores. And I had some experiences there (taking my first college courses via a local community college’s online dual-credits program, for one) that were pretty big for me. I loved my room there, right on the corner of a busy street. The noise of the traffic took some getting used to, and I worried about a semi-truck coming through my outer wall and flattening me in the middle of the night a few times, but once I got used to it (and added some sound-deadening blackout curtains over the windows), I found those noises comforting.

The house in West Virginia didn’t sell quite as quickly as we’d hoped.

As I write this, we’re about to put it back on the market after taking it down for a while to do some “fixing up” that’ll hopefully make it more attractive to prospective buyers.

But we moved on to South Carolina anyway. And all our stuff is here now. At least half of it is still in boxes in the garage.

All the moving threw my family for a loop, especially when it came to school-related activities. Since my family homeschools, we didn’t have the drama of having to adjust to new schools in the middle of the schoolyear like my mom did every time her family moved during her childhood. And it wasn’t a huge deal for my sisters – one’s still in the first grade, another does almost all her classes online through streaming programs, and the third does mostly independent bookwork. And none of them have college looming just around the corner, eyeing them menacingly like a large and ugly buzzard.

So since getting into our most recent living quarters, my mom and I have been researching, stressing, making phone calls, sending emails, and stressing some more about my studies. I’ve gotten behind in a few subjects, which wouldn’t be a big deal if I wasn’t hoping to graduate at the end of next year, and I’m already a bit older than most kids in my current grade due to the timing of my birthday. Of course, I’m continuing ahead with my regular work in the meantime – there’s always another lesson of math to be labored through and another chapter of science to try to finish without falling asleep. And I think we’ve finally worked out a good picture of what the next year or two of my life will look like, education-wise. In the meantime, we’re starting to look seriously at colleges, and will most likely visit a few of my top choices this summer.

Throughout all of this, I’ve discovered some great new music, some podcasts and blogs I’ve found very thought-provoking, compiled a huge stack of books (mainly a result of my last birthday and Christmas), rediscovered my love of knitting, and started learning my way around digital art. I’ve also been consuming a steady stream of Doctor Who media for over a year now (my Classic Who watch has been all but paused because a friend and I have gotten rather obsessed with the Big Finish audios lately; we’re currently working through all the releases featuring the Eighth Doctor and his companion Charley Pollard), and planned the cosplays I hope to bring to life this year.

One thing I HAVEN’T done as much as I was hoping is to write.

I was doing pretty well with my writing while we were in North Carolina. I was really enjoying it, and I was regularly working on blog posts and little fanfiction stories. But since we’ve moved again, it’s like the exhaustion I’ve felt toward reading anything much longer than an online article for the past few months has extended to my writing as well.

I’m going to try to fix that, which I know I say often, but I’m going to try much harder to get things published (on this blog, and maybe on my AO3 account if I can scratch together some more fic I’m proud enough of to share). Usually, I’m not so much of a perfectionist that it inhibits my ability to enjoy my hobbies, but for some reason, I stress a lot over my writing. Probably because I’ve always been complimented on my writing skills, and it’s made me paranoid about ever sharing anything subpar. Probably also because I have so many amazing friends who are great writers and who writing just seems to come so naturally to, so I tend to compare myself to them and my work to theirs. I like to think it’s a way of pulling myself upwards – finding people I look up to and setting their work as a goal for me to attain someday. Seeing their stories or blogs and saying, “I hope I create something that good eventually.” But it just serves to squelch the inclination I do have to write, because I start thinking about how a lot of those great bloggers are social media mutuals and friends, how they’re likely going to see my writing and judge it, and how I really should be a better writer by now and it’s clearly my own fault for not dedicating myself more and just naturally being “better”.

I especially tend to want everything to be highly polished and as near perfect as I can get it before I show it to anyone else.

I’m going to try to keep a hold on those voices and strive to publish writing regularly anyway, even if it’s not as deep or well-thought-out or life-changing as I might wish before I push the “Publish” button, or after when it’s late at night and I’m once again considering erasing both my sites and all my social media and permanently disappearing from the world because I’m positive I’m an absolute fool and everyone would appreciate it if I just kept my mouth shut from now on.

I think I’ve gotten everyone all caught up now… Oh, aside from my recent attempts at journaling, but I think I’ll write a separate post about that sometime. And I’m also working on something about an episode from the most recent series of Doctor Who which meant a lot to me and I would like to share my perspective on.

Alright, guys, I gotta go to bed so I can edit and hopefully publish this tomorrow. Stay safe, wash your hands, drink water, and feel free to reach out if you’re struggling with all this quarantine/social-distancing and need someone to chat with.

✨ shay

Coughing in the New Year

Happy 2020 everyone!! *cue coughing fit and desperate search for the cough drops*

It seems I have contracted the plague.

It started with an impromptu trip to the East Coast of North Carolina to visit my mom’s family the day after Christmas (that’s about the time the coughing started). We came home on New Year’s Eve, cleaned the house all day on New Year’s, Thursday we spent the day with a friends’ family (this was the point where Mom lost her voice), Friday we drove to South Carolina to look at a few rentals we’re considering (Mom was still devoid of voice at this point and several others of us were operating at about 65%), and yesterday we spent most of the day having photos made with my Dad’s side of the family.

Mom has requested that I add a note at this point to mention that we don’t ACTUALLY have “the plague,” but likely some combination of allergies, sleep deprivation, and a mild cold, none of which is likely very contagious- she doesn’t want our friends to read this blog and come to the conclusion that we purposefully polluted them with deadly germs.

It’s been an eventful end to 2019 and start to 2020.

Oh yeah, and remember how I mentioned that we were looking at some rentals in South Carolina? Yah, another move will probably be happening for my family within the next few weeks. It’ll be the second for us in less than six months, and the third state we’ll have called home in as much time. I’ll likely be writing a blog post about all that drama soon, but for now I just desperately want to be settled so I can organize my room and figure out what the next semester is supposed to look like.

This post probably feels like a monumental ramble at this point, but I have a habit of writing blogs like they are essays, and I’m trying to get away from that. While it’s nice to have a couple of pages of neatly organized, generic sentences written to be graded and check-marked and then handed back to be filed away and forgotten, that’s not the way my thoughts work in my head. And this blog is supposed to be a place for me to simply let those thoughts out, to simply write and not worry too much about what it looks like. So I’m trying to let the thoughts simply flow from my brain to my fingers and into the Bluetooth keyboard I’m clacking away at now, and hopefully, it’ll still be understandable by my readers.

And what I’m thinking about now is how the year has shaped up so far, and what I’d like it to look like by the end. For one, I want to get some sleep and stop waking up at 5 a.m. just desperately trying to catch my breath around the maddening tickle in my throat. Also, I’d like to get back to writing on this blog more consistently. I kept trying to finish and publish The Queue posts for the last bit of 2019, but it just wasn’t working for some reason. I’m hoping to go back and at least give a summary of the things I enjoyed for the last months of 2019; I’ve found some new music and listened to far more than my fair share of audio dramas.

I’ve already mentioned some of these on Twitter, but here are a few more things I’d like to prioritize in 2020-

I want to be more diligent at reading and studying my Bible this year. I want to learn more about Christian doctrine, theology, and church history, put my mind and heart into it and study it out. I’ve always enjoyed learning about these things, but so far my actual effort to learn it in any sort of system has been little to none. What I do pick up is mostly gleaned from podcasts, the occasional Wikipedia article, and the Western Cultural History course I took with Classical Conversations last year. I’ve got a book on the subject that I’m very much looking forward to digging into… I just haven’t started it yet. I’m correcting that this afternoon.

I want to be more consistent with my writing and drawing. With my first foray into college last semester, most of my creative energy was positively ZAPPED. I felt like just reading more than a page or two of something non-school related was exhausting, and mustering the desire to draw anything more than random shapes and lines in my sketchbook felt nearly impossible. Now that I’ve got an iPad, I’m planning to carry it with me as much as possible so I can record the scribbles and story ideas that come to me as they do so; I’ve found it fairly easy to both write and draw on it while on car rides, and it’s small enough to easily fit into a largish purse or smallish backpack, keyboard included.

I want to develop and maintain better organizational habits. It’s a really good thing you all can’t see my bedroom right now… I can excuse some of the messiness by the fact that my family has been “mid-move” for the last several months (basically since we moved into our current house). There are still a few unpacked boxes in my room, and my ever-growing book collection is scattered around in small piles. But once I’m settled into a new room that I hopefully won’t be moving back out of for a while, I want to get everything put away and keep it that way as much as possible.

Speaking of books… I want to read a lot more actual books this year. I’ve mostly been listening to audiobooks lately due to the aforementioned lack of energy and ability to focus, but I want to get back into reading paper books. I’d like to get through the copy of Les Miserables I purchased from BAM recently on the bargain shelf; it’s a cheap enough copy that I won’t feel bad marking in it when I come to passages I want to remember or make notes on. Maybe once I finish it, I’ll treat myself by purchasing a nice hardback to add to my shelf.

And carrying on from that thought, I also want to read more poetry this year. I’ve subscribed to an email newsletter from Poets.org so that a new short poem shows up in my inbox every morning, and they’ve all been fine so far. But I enjoy reading (and occasionally writing) poetry, so I want to fit more of it in this year. The problem is, my exposure to good poetry thus far has been fairly limited… I know what I like (G. K. Chesterton, Tolkien, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” Shel Silverstein, and even Doctor Seuss) but not how to find more or what things I haven’t read yet that I may love if I just gave them a try. So if anyone has any suggestions in this area, whether it’s anything like the poetry I’ve already mentioned or the farthest thing from them, please feel free to drop it in the comments at the end of this blog and I’ll more than likely pick it up. (And if you’re down for chatting about it afterwards, please say so; I’ll almost certainly take you up on that, too.)

A lot of the things I’ve mentioned so far are best done sitting down, except for organizing things, and even that entails staying more or less in one place for an extended amount of time. So to balance it all out, I want to try a little harder to exercise more… maybe daily (yes, I am cringing slightly as I type right now). And I need to drink more water… and probably less coffee (yes, I’m cringing harder now).

And with that, I’ve rambled out all my New Year’s thoughts. I have a bunch of blog posts from my friends to get caught up on now, a church history book to crack open, and a new episode of Doctor Who to avoid spoilers from for a while longer…

As always, please feel free to tell me about your 2020 thus far in the comments!! Have you managed to avoid the plague? Do you have any goals you’re trying to reach by the end of this year? Do you have any poetry recommendations for me? I’d love to hear about any of these things!

Hope to see you all soon,

– Shay

The Fantastical and Felicitous Fictional Character Blog Tag

Heyo everyone!

So in case you thought that I started this new blog, preached at you in the very first post, and then promptly abandoned the place — never fear!! I am back, and I am about to make good on my early promise to fill this place with ridiculous fangirling!! XD

Maribeth over at the very lovely Trekking Through Hobbit Holes blog recently participated in the *deep breath* Fantastical and Felicitous Fictional Character Blog Tag created by Emily from The Altogether Unexpected blog. And she tagged me to do it next!! Eeep! I can’t wait to flail ridiculously and leave you all in speechless astonishment about just HOW MUCH I LOVE FAKE PEOPLE!!!

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