One More Day

Camp NaNoWriMo officially starts tomorrow… or tonight, if you want to get technical.

Are you ready? Because I feel like I’m not.

April is going to be a busy month for me. I have to take my Spanish final exam today and then my Spanish class is all done. So, I’ll only have three classes to worry about during the month of April. Yet, I’ll still have work six and half hours a day, plus that small bit of homework, plus blogging, reading, critiquing for my writing group as well as editing my own stuff to send in… oh, and I’m getting my wisdom teeth out towards the end of April.

That will certainly put my life at a stop for a couple of days.

Also, that doesn’t even include Easter, my cousin’s birthday, and my dad’s birthday.

April is going to be ridiculously busy when it’s usually not. But I can’t worry too much about it.

Aside from my Spanish exam, I already finished all my homework for this week. So starting tomorrow I won’t have school to worry about so I’m hoping to get a great head-start on NaNo.

Good luck, everyone!

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Birthday Weekend

Friday: Friday seemed like a long day. I was anxiously awaiting to get out of work not only for the weekend, but so I could get to my friend’s house. My friend had a baby about a month ago and I was just meeting the baby for the first time. It was a good afternoon because I got to hold a baby (it’s been a long time) and I got to see my friend. I haven’t seen her since her baby shower back in November. I have school and work to thank for that.

Friday night I came home and worked on my writing group’s critiques. They were due Saturday morning, so I naturally left them until the last minute. It’s funny how deadlines creep up on you.

Saturday: I had my first writing group meeting. Technically was the second one, but Kris and I missed the first due to a prior commitment. We were nervous, but it went really well. Including the two of us, there’s seven of us total. Small, but I like it that way. It was good to have my work being read and critiqued by others than family. I got great feedback, both positive and negative. The next step is to edit that part again so I can edit the second part and send that for next month.

My cousin had a birthday party to go to so I went with my mom to drop her off and then we were food shopping. For once, we finished shopping in a timely manner and then had an hour to kill while we waited for my cousin’s party to be over. Once we got home, my mom thought it would be a good idea to go out to dinner. Kris and my dad didn’t feel like going, so Mom and I went to Panera. I was barely home on Saturday and wasn’t able to get anything done I originally planned. However, I spent the majority of the day with my mother (and we don’t get a lot of time to do that often) so it was good.

That night we gave my mom her birthday gifts early. We got her a Blu-Ray player and a new iPad. So I think she was pretty content.

Sunday: It was my mother’s birthday, plus Palm Sunday. So we went to church, which was extra long because the service was an extra half hour and then the Sunday school kids had their annual Easter egg hunt. We ended up being at church for an extra hour.

I took my Spanish quiz (that again, I left until the last minute) and then we went out to dinner. There was 11 of us for dinner and the waitress was slow and not very good, so we were there for a little while. We went to The Outback, so I can’t complain–the food is always awesome.

Then we went back to my house for cake for Mom’s birthday.

Overall, it was a great weekend. Busy, but relaxing at the same time.

This Week: I need to outline a bit more for my Camp NaNo novel. Camp starts in two days. With that being said, I need to finish my homework in a timely manner. Plus, I need to work on my Detective Florence manuscript for my writing group.

April is going to be a busy month; especially when it comes to writing. I hope I’m able to get a routine down and stick with it–even if it’s just for the month.

How was your weekend?

Critiques Are Hard

We started workshops this week in my Creative Writing: Nonfiction class. This is what I’ve been looking forward to all semester and it’s finally here. I’ll be critiquing nonfiction stories by my classmates and they’ll critique one of mine.

Four people were due to post their stories this week so everyone else is due to critique these four stories.

Only read and give feedback to four stories… not bad homework, huh? Of course it can be tedious depending on how long and how well written the story is.

Hence, critiquing is hard.

I’ve never written an actual critique to anyone before. I don’t even know what I’m doing when I edit my own novels half the time.

This is my second class doing a workshop. So I’ve gotten feedback from professors and classmates before. However, there are some classmates who see it as what it is: homework. In other words, you may or may not be getting the most out of your classmates because in the end, it is homework.

With my first real life critique group coming up at the end of the month, I really want to nail my critiques for my classmates. I see it as more than homework and I’m sure some, if not all, of my classmates do as well. I want to help them by giving structured feedback and I want them to do the same for me when I share my story.

I’ve done two of the four so far and both took me at least an hour to do.

Last night I pulled Kris away from whatever she was doing and asked her to read my critique. I wanted to make sure it made sense, I didn’t sound mean, and that they were valuable points to mention.

The thing is you can’t critique a critique.

Everyone has their own preferences. Everyone reads differently and understands what they read differently. What I liked about the story, another classmate might have thought it didn’t work. What I didn’t enjoy about the story, another classmate might absolutely love.

A critique is a matter of opinion. After much consideration and looking through all the critiques, in the end the only opinion that matters is the writer’s.

Body Portrait Exercise

This is yet another exercise from my Creative Writing: Nonfiction class. You’re supposed to draw a self-portrait of yourself (whole body; no head-shots). Add in every single detail about yourself such as the color of your hair/eyes/skin, birthmarks/scars, anything and everything.

I’ll admit I did not actually draw the picture. I have a scar under my chin and I decided to write about that right away.

Enjoy.

         I have a lot of scratches and bruises on my body. There’s a bruise on my right wrist where one of my Autistic children at work bit me, there’s a bruise on my right knee where I fell on a patch of ice, and there’s a paper cut on the tip of my left index finger from one of my textbooks. There are more marks on me from various things and overall clumsiness.

However, those marks will only stay for a little while and soon the story behind them will be no more. But there is one mark in particular on my body that will never go away. It’s a mark that only I know about unless I willingly tell people about it because no one can see it.

Seven years ago, I was at my cousin’s aunt’s house for my cousin’s birthday. She had a lovely house. It was large, big enough to be a mansion (according to my 14-year-old self). My sister and I were in awe at the large kitchen, spacious living room, and beautiful dining room.

The backyard was just as fantastic. There was a wide wooden deck leading to a large area of luscious green grass big enough to run a few laps. A large volleyball net covered most of the yard, but the biggest attraction was the in-ground pool complete with a Jacuzzi and waterfall. It was the beginning of July so naturally we spent the whole day in the pool.

While the adults were setting up the tables on the deck for presents and cake, all the kids were playing in the pool. My sister, cousins, and I repeatedly jumped in the pool all at once trying to make as many waves as we could.

My older sister, younger cousin, and I stood at the edge of the pool ready to jump. My sister counted down and when she got to three, all three of us jumped into the pool; except my foot slipped on the wet concrete and I face-planted onto the ground landing on my chin.

“Rachel!” My sister screamed mid-air in a panic right before she landed in the water.

I sat up on the ground in a daze. I didn’t cry and I didn’t think anything too serious happened. I was just confused. I can’t describe the pain because I don’t remember how much pain I was in. I don’t know if there was no pain at all or if it hurt so much that it just felt numb.

My sister immediately hopped out of the pool and rushed to my aid. She stared at me in horror informing me that I was bleeding a lot. I told her I was fine, but when I touched the bottom of my chin with my index finger, my finger was covered in blood. Then I started to panic.

My heart beat faster, I started to get light-headed, and I wondered if I was going to somehow die from the loss of blood. I had never been hurt that bad before.

I walked over to my mom to show her my chin and before I knew it, all my cousin’s aunts were swarmed around me tending to my chin. They cleaned it up for me and put some cotton balls over it taping it on with a band-aid or two. It wasn’t a large cut, but it was deep.

“She’ll most likely need to get stitches.” One of cousin’s aunts’s stated to my mom.

I stared at my mom panic-stricken. There was no way I was going to be getting stitches. My mom shook her head trying to reassure me. However, when we got home my cut still wouldn’t stop bleeding. My mom called the doctor just to get it checked out, hoping it wouldn’t get infected.

Needless to say, I ended up having to get stitches. That was when I cried.

The doctor put in about five or six stitches under my chin. He talked to me while he stitched up my chin in an attempt to distract me. He asked me questions like how my summer was going, what grade I was going to be in the following school year, the type of questions you get asked when people don’t know you personally. It was hard to talk to him while he was working on my chin, but I was just thankful he was trying.

I was also thankful the cut was under my chin where I didn’t have to see the stitches or the needle; then my anxiety would have really spiked. Due to the Novocain, I didn’t feel anything, except for the occasional tug of the thread going into my chin. Overall, it wasn’t a bad experience.

After a week with a band-aid on my chin, I went back to the doctor to get the stitches removed. After that, it was as though nothing had ever happened.

I have a small scar underneath my chin. No one can notice it unless I tilt my chin up and point it out to them. Even then, they have to look really close to see it.

I don’t mind having a scar on my chin. It doesn’t bother me and it’s just another reason that makes me unique from everyone else. It gives me a good story to tell.

Out Of Routine

I love February vacation. I don’t spend six hours of my day at work, so I’m able to get a lot of things done. However, the things I want to get done don’t necessarily get done. I still have homework to do.

So today I did some homework, then went out to lunch (which was fun) and then have been doing more homework. I have two assignments left to do, but I’m done with homework for the time being. I need a break. So they’ll get done sometime tomorrow.

No writing today. I’ve having been writing or editing very much lately because of work and homework and such. I thought I would be able to get a lot of writing done this week because I don’t have work. Except I’ve been thrown off my routine so I haven’t been doing much anything lately.

Tomorrow is Friday, which means vacation is just about over. Next week I’ll be able to get back into my writing routine and hopefully gets somethings done.

Sometimes I feel like my routine gets me in a rut so I look forward to vacation. Then I get out of my routine and I feel so discombobulated.

Map Exercise

Here is yet another writing prompt from my nonfiction class. We had to “map out” a place we’re familiar with whether it’s our favorite place, a place we go to all the time, or a past place that we no longer go to. The prompt was geared more towards describing the physical place than actually telling a story of that place.

Enjoy.

            One of my favorite places is inside Trinity church, which I have attended since I was very young. It’s two buildings in one connected by a large hall that is usually rented out. It has two addresses because of this and one area of the building was used for community outreach. It was called Hammond Square Preschool.

One of the two classrooms used to be called the blue room. It was set up into four large quarters making it rather large for a preschool classroom; most people assumed it to be two rooms in one. That was a major reason why the parents loved it so much; it was spacious. I can’t explain the room too much because it’s hard to remember what it looked like. Once the director was fired, the new director turned it into the yellow room. She repainted the walls to a pale yellow and worked with myself and the other teacher to rearrange the entire classroom.

Walking into the room and looking to the right was a rectangular table holding eight to ten kids for snack as well as the puzzles and coloring. Against the wall were two smaller rectangular tables holding about three kids with a shelf in the middle connecting the two. One table was the math center and the other was the science center. Each table had a bulletin board on the wall next to it and each was changed monthly to a different math and science theme. Two tall white cabinets were added in two corners of the room in order to give the teachers more room for supplies as well as shelves built in underneath the counter to store the table choices for the kids to get at their leisure.

To the first left was the book corner, except it was a raised platform. We took six cubbies and laid them flat draping a green rug over to make it more comfortable. We added pillows, stuffed animals, and a white canopy to hang over the area. We added a larger bookshelf so the kids had more variety. Next to that was dramatic play, but it was bigger with a rack to hang dress-up clothes and also a small nook was built under the counter for the kids to play in.

To the second right after walking into the room was the cubby area with a large blue rug for circle time. More shelf space was added underneath the counter in order to store more blocks for the kids. To the second left was the art area with a circular table holding about four kids. Two sinks were added into the room as well as a brand new blue padded easel attached to the wall for two kids at a time to use. Shelves were added in the wall as a drying rack and shelves were added under the counter for white and construction paper for the kids to use. Another white cabinet was added in the corner for the teachers.

Myself and the other teachers were excited for these changes. It looked so much better than the original blue room. It was as though we were starting fresh, which was something we all needed after having a falling out with the old director of the school. The children loved it and the parents were very pleased; especially with the yellow color because they thought the room looked a lot brighter between the paleness of the yellow and also the natural sunlight coming in from the windows.

However, while the building is still there and the church still carries on, Hammond Square Preschool does not exist anymore. I worked there for only two and a half years because back in December 2013 the school closed. The enrollment was too low to keep the school open. It was a devastating time for the current families as well as the teachers. The parents had to find a new school for their children in the middle of the school year and the teachers had to find new jobs. It also hurt the church to have to close its doors since the church owned the preschool and it had been open for a long time. The preschool was a huge part of the church, so it was as though a huge chunk of the church was missing.

The church has a Sunday school program and the classes are always held in the preschool’s classroom. Now since the yellow room is vacant, the church decided it was best to use it as the Sunday school’s official classroom. I am a teacher and the director of the Sunday school program at Trinity church, so it was odd to be rearranging the yellow room yet again to turn it into a Christian classroom; especially since I changed the room only three months prior. It also hurt because I miss Hammond Square—the teachers, the kids, the parents—but I was also glad the Sunday school children were finally going to have a place to call their own. I was excited to be changing the classroom over again. It was as though the space was getting a second chance.

I made subtle changes because I still wanted it to look like a classroom. I also didn’t want to forget how the original classroom looked like because I want to remember playing with the kids, prepping and doing art activities with them, and watching them play and grow. So, instead of the snack, math, and science centers in the first quarter of the room, there are two circular tables creating an eight. The kids sit there when we read the story and also to do a few worksheets. I changed one bulletin board to an interactive Christian activity for the kids and the other one with information and facts about what we’re learning.

In the second quarter, the book corner is still the same, only it has Christian stories and Bibles on the shelves. The dramatic play area is more or less the same as well. The blocks were moved over there and I kept a few pieces from the preschool for the Sunday school kids. I also added in some Christian games as well.

The third quarter now has two rectangular tables. This is where the kids do their craft project after the lesson. The easel and drying rack is still the same as well as the two sinks in case we do a messy project. I rearranged all the art supplies on the shelves for easy access for the teachers and the kids. This is also where they have snack when the lesson is over. The other side of the room, where the cubbies and original block area was, is extra space for the Thrift Shop. The Sunday school is small, so we decided to only have three quarters of the room instead of all four. I bought posters to hang on the walls and the kids will also be able to display their own artwork on the walls since we don’t share the room with anyone anymore.

I loved Hammond Square and it broke my heart when I lost my job. However, the church itself is in a much better spot now that the Sunday school has its own space. The kids from the Sunday school are much happier. They are excited to have the opportunity to hang their projects on the wall and have a special place to play and show off to their parents without having to clean it up precisely for the preschool. Between meeting many families, learning from the teachers, enjoying the company of the children, and that it was my first teaching job, I have gone through a lot in that place. It has changed so much, but I’ve changed because of that. It may change again and again, but it’s a place I hope to never lose.

Photo Exercise

A little while ago I posted an Object Exercise which was a writing prompt from my Nonfiction class. I thought I would share the prompt with all of you in case you wanted to do it yourselves. Well, here’s another prompt from my class.

The rules are easy enough: pick a picture from your past (childhood, recent, whenever) and tell a story based on that picture. Now, this is nonfiction so that would mean telling the real story behind the picture, which is what I had to do. Of course, you could always modify the rules and write a fiction story based on a real picture. Maybe start off nonfiction and then make a slight change and see what could have happened. Play around with it.

Here’s mine. Enjoy.

Kris (left), Peter Pan (middle), and me (right)
Kris (left), Peter Pan (middle), and me (right)

            Every time I look at this photo, I get butterflies in my stomach. My sister (left) and I (right) met Peter Pan for the first time in our lives and it was without a doubt one of the best moments in my life.

Peter Pan is a celebrity, a hero, a figment of the imagination. He lives in a place called Neverland which is located on the second star to the right and straight on until morning. I have never been to Neverland, but it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit since I was a child.

In August 2014, my sister and I had the opportunity to go to Disney World with our cousins. We had gone to Disney two years before, but I never got the chance to meet Peter Pan because we couldn’t find him. When we decided to go again I told my sister, “I have to meet Peter Pan.”

After a few hours walking around Magic Kingdom and asking quite a few workers where Peter Pan usually stood, we finally came across him by accident.

“Kristen, there he is!” I stopped short and grabbed onto my sister’s arm, staring in awe at my favorite celebrity 20 feet away.

She pressed her hand up against my back and pushed me towards the continuously growing line to meet the man in green. “Then get in line!” she panicked, knowing the workers only allowed a certain number of people in at a time before Peter Pan would have to go on break.

We hopped in line just before the line was closed; we only had three people standing behind us. We were under a wooden tarp with wooden fences around us keeping us in line. Trees surrounded us making us feel as though we were inside Peter Pan’s tree house in Neverland.

As the line inched farther along, I started to shake. I began to get hot flashes. I didn’t know if that was from the 85-degree Florida heat or just nerves. My guess was the latter.

When there were just a couple people left ahead of us in line, I urged to tell Kristen that I didn’t want to meet Peter Pan anymore. I was panicking too much inside my head and he was fun to watch from afar. However, I clamped my mouth shut and stuck it out until we were next.

I nearly had a panic attack.

Peter Pan flagged us over with a wide grin on his face. He was animated; bouncing up and down, constantly shifting his weight with quick movements, and his facial expressions contorted like a cartoon character. He sounded just like the Peter Pan I know from the movie and he looked like him, too; not just from the clothes, but his hair and face as well. Of course, that could have just been me being star struck.

“You should come to Neverland with me. I’ve never had girls there before… well, besides Wendy. You two can be my lost girls! I’ve never had any lost girls before. You’ll be the first ones!”

Peter Pan rambled on and on, Kristen giggling at his mannerisms and me smiling and nodding trying to take everything in.

“Hey, you wanna crow with me? You look like you’re good crowers!” Peter Pan stood up straight, cupping his hands to his mouth and then bellowed. Kristen mimicked him playing along while I gawked at him like an idiot.

We then took our picture with him where he put his arms around our shoulders. I smiled at the worker taking our picture with my camera beaming. I couldn’t believe Peter Pan was touching me.

“You’re shaking.”

I continued to smile at the camera even though the woman wasn’t taking pictures anymore. I didn’t know who was speaking, but it sounded like a man so it must have been Peter Pan. I ignored him, not knowing how to respond. I didn’t even know what he was talking about.

I gave him one last hug before retrieving my camera from the park employee and Kristen and I exited the outdoor tree house. I turned on my camera again and started going through the pictures to find the ones of Peter Pan.

“You know, his face was practically kissing yours when he noticed how much you were shaking… and you didn’t even answer him.” Kristen informed me laughing at how nervous I had been.

My mouth gaped open. I couldn’t believe Peter Pan had been that close to me. I couldn’t believe I didn’t talk to him. I couldn’t believe I didn’t crow with him. I finally met my favorite Disney character and I was scared stiff the entire time. I was so embarrassed, but I was laughing at myself at the same time.

Then I started to cry.

Kristen stopped walking and stood in front of me. She stared at me in horror wondering what was wrong.

I smiled through the tears and shouted, “I met Peter Pan!” finally letting it all sink in.

So Many Snow Days!

For the second Monday in a row, I had another snow day from work. This is our fifth snow day in… four weeks? We’ve gotten a lot of snow in such a short amount of time. Today we got another two feet or so. I’m losing track of how much is out there, but it has to be at least a good five or six feet total from all the snow in the past couple of weeks. It’s been so bitterly cold that even when it’s not snowing, the snow isn’t melting; it’s just turning to ice.

I don’t mind snow days, though. Everyone is sick of them at this point and they’re all angry with Mother Nature, but I don’t care. Sure, I may have to make up the days at the end of the school year and I don’t get paid for snow days, but I get a lot done during these days.

I have been so stuck on my writing lately, it’s ridiculous. For the past week I haven’t been writing anything. I’ve either been doing homework (which is at least something productive) or I’ve been playing video games or watching TV. I’ve had the motivation to write, but I just don’t know what to write. It’s quite the dilemma.

I’m still working on Detective Florence, but I think I need a bit of a vacation from it. If I don’t take a break, I’ll burn myself out from the characters and plot and then it will never get done. What am I supposed to do while I take a break from that, though? I’ve been thinking of writing some short stories or maybe trying my hand at some poetry. I’ve been looking at different magazines and contests to submit to, but my state of mind remains the same: I want written, not writing.

Needless to say, I did nothing all weekend. I babysat Friday night and didn’t even do anything while the kids were in bed… I brought two books with me and didn’t read either of them. I sat on their couch like a lump. Saturday Kris and I didn’t even go to Barnes and Noble because I was too tired. I don’t know why, but I was completely wiped out. We decided to write from home, but neither one of us did… we played video games instead. We didn’t do anything yesterday, either. It was snowing so we didn’t even go to church. Again, I watched TV and played video games.

Today, taking advantage that I’m home, I decided to be productive. I actually typed up ten more pages of Detective Florence 2 so that’s something. I’ve also gotten a lot of homework done.

I wanted to go back and forth between writing ten pages, doing some homework, write another ten pages, so more homework, and so on. However, I got caught up in my homework (because my classes have been giving very little homework this semester) that I decided to get it all done today.

Three of my classes start the week on Monday while my other class starts the week on Tuesday. So I only have my assignments for three of my classes so far this week and I’ve finished my homework for all three, except my Spanish quiz because my professor didn’t post that yet for some reason… I’m assuming she forgot because that’s what usually happens.

I’ve also gotten a small head start on the homework for my fourth class because I already know what reading she’s going to assign. So I can make a small dent in that tomorrow, but I can finish the rest of the assignments tomorrow. Then I’ll be homework-free for the rest of the week!

I’m hoping I’ll spend that extra time writing… whether it’s Detective Florence or something else.

How was your weekend?

Snow Day!

My mailbox and fence in the front yard.
My mailbox and fence in the front yard.

Blizzard 2015 (that’s what they’re calling it) has hit us hard. Everyone stayed safe (as far as I know) and it gave me a snow day from work. So go Blizzard 2015!

We got about 2-3 feet of snow… maybe more. I’m not entirely sure. As you can see from the picture above my fence and mailbox was just about buried. I took that picture earlier this morning, so it’s a bit worse now.

I charged all my electronics last night (Kindle, phone, 3DS, Wii U controller, and laptop) just in case. My co-worker said, “Isn’t it sad that our first thought of a power outage is to charge our electronics?” It’s not worrying about food spoiling, heat, or anything like that.

Yes, we are human and we have our priorities straight.

The snow started at 12:30 PM yesterday (Monday) and is still going strong. It’s not expected to stop until about midnight/one o’clock in the morning, which would be Wednesday. It’s kind of crazy, but cool at the same time.

It was nice not to have to go to work today. I got a lot of homework done. Two out of my four classes are done, one class I just have one more assignment to do, and my other class (Spanish, if you couldn’t guess…) has a quiz and a project left. I’m hoping to get the rest done tomorrow because I have another snow day tomorrow! Yay! They’re not optimistic they’ll have the snow cleaned up by tomorrow morning for school to resume, so I get to sleep in again and have another pajama day. Fine by me.

In addition to homework, Kris and I played video games. No surprise there, right? The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Super Mario 64. Two games from the Nintendo 64… we’re going old school because we’re cool like that.

I did write today, so I actually did something. I typed up about 14 pages of Detective Florence 2. I’m about halfway through the manuscript now so I’m hoping to finish by the end of the week. Then I can outline the next part so I can write the next part in February. I think that sounds like a good plan, yes?

Tomorrow will definitely be helpful since I don’t have to spend six hours of my day at work. If I can get my homework and another chunk of writing done, then the rest of the week will be a breeze writing-wise… even with work and babysitting thrown into the mix.

Anyway, I hope anyone getting hit by this blizzard is doing well… I hope we’re all warm and all have power in our houses.

Object Exercise

I had my first assignment in my Creative Writing: Non-Fiction class. It was a writing prompt and we had to write a true (hence non-fiction) 2-page story about an object that reminds us of someone or something; some sort of memory.

I thought I would share the exercise with all of you in case any of you writers want to give it a go. I enjoyed doing it and the writing came very easy to me. Here’s mine at 690 words. Enjoy.

image

I love jewelry. I really do, but I don’t wear it as often as I would like. Being a preschool teacher, it’s hard to wear jewelry to work just in case a child decides to play with a necklace around my neck or even to tug at an earring and rip it out. So I don’t even bother.

I do have a lot of jewelry, though. I have many dangling earrings; a few necklaces are that dear to me, and a lot of bracelets that I can’t wear because my wrists are too small. I wear them on special occasions and certain holidays when I get dolled up every once in a while, but there’s one bracelet in particular that I never wear.

Despite my wrists being too small I can actually wear this bracelet and I used to—all the time. It was a pretty bracelet and went with just about any of my clothes despite the blue gems. It was small—my size, with alternating round silver and blue gems. Blue is my favorite color and I always liked silver more than gold. Of course, it’s so old that the silver has tarnished and doesn’t sparkle like it used to.

In the middle of these gems were six silver blocked beads, each one baring a letter; R-A-C-H-E-L. I had never had a piece of jewelry that had my name on it, so I was excited when I got it for my 10th birthday. It was personal and I felt as though the bracelet officially belonged to me.

My aunt, Theresa, gave me that bracelet as my birthday present. She gave my two older sisters each a similar bracelet when they turned 10-years-old, so I was kind of expecting something like it; yet, I was still surprised when I opened the small box. Auntie Theresa’s friend made jewelry—whether it was a hobby or it was her job, I don’t recall—but my aunt asked her to make something special for her three nieces for their first double-digit birthday.

I wore the bracelet all the time, even to school. Then, two years later, just two days after my 12th birthday, Auntie Theresa passed away from a sudden brain aneurysm. She was only 32-years-old leaving her husband and two daughters (at the time ages 3 and 1) behind. It was a shock for everyone and certainly a tough time to get through. I kept a closer eye on my bracelet since then, but continued to wear it in her memory.

Then, one day at school in art class, I felt my wrist—I was always touching and playing with the bracelet. The bracelet was gone and I could feel my face flush.

“Where is it, where is it?!” I demanded in alarm.

“Where’s what? Where’s what?” My friend jumped up from her seat only panicking because I was. She looked all around the floor because I was on my hands and knees searching for something she didn’t know what to look for.

The bracelet was on the other side of the art room. It must have fallen off when I went to the sink to wash my paint brush and rinse out my paint cups. For the rest of the day I left the bracelet in my pocket. The clasp wasn’t very good and it fell off a lot at home, but I never imagined it would fall off anywhere else. It was that moment I realized if it fell off at school or someplace else, chances were I’d never find it again and it would be gone forever, just like my aunt.

The bracelet has been sitting in my jewelry box ever since. I want to keep it safe with all my other jewelry. I take it out and look at it every once in a while, but I don’t wear it anywhere in fear of losing it; even if it is just around the house.

Maybe one day I’ll get the clasp fixed and get it shined once more. In the meantime, I’ll always know where the bracelet is and I’m able to keep it near and dear.