Some People Are Lucky

Hello, lovely.

A few weeks ago, I wrote something of a short story. Now, I’d like to share it with you. If you’d like to download it, click the following: Some People Are Lucky V_2. Please do not claim any of this as your own (though I can’t see anyone doing so as this isn’t anything phenomenal) and if you’d like to share, just be sure to include a link back to this post! 🙂

Some People Are Lucky

The Writer

A crumpled wad of paper flew across the room as a frustrated groan wrenched itself from the man’s throat. He raked his hands through his hair and dug the fingernails into his scalp, gripped handfuls of hair and tugged until it stung.

Darkness replaced the image of a cluttered room. Books stacked upon books rested on the desk. Scattered papers made it impossible to stay mentally organized. When he opened his eyes once more, the writer sucked in a deep breath as he set his fingers to the typewriter for the seventh time that morning.

Chapter 1:

Nothing.

A slight knock sounded on the door just before it squeaked open on rusty hinges. “It’s past midnight, dear.” The woman with dark circles under her eyes twisted her thin lips into a smile. “You should get some rest.”

He shook his head and frowned. “It must be nice being able to sleep so much. But some of us have work to do.”

The writer’s wife sighed. “Well, good night then.” She turned and closed the door as she left.

He swore at the night and stared at the single flame burning beside the typewriter. The writer rested his chin in his palm, heaving a tired breath.

“It must be nice not being a writer.” He shook his head and shifted his gaze toward the window. “It must be nice having a steady paycheck; having someone other than yourself to be held accountable to if the work doesn’t get done.” He stood and stretched. “Some people are lucky.”

 

The Businessman

Two a.m., two dark circles beneath two bloodshot eyes, two deadlines to meet, two jobs to juggle, and too many lives to live.

The businessman with four kids, a wife, and three-story house stared at a Toshiba’s computer screen covered in building blueprints. He rubbed his eyes until stars danced in the darkness. He yawned and ordered another coffee from the barista behind the counter. Stretching, he swept the room with a gaze.

Only one other customer occupied the cozy room. She was burrowed in a sweater several sizes too large, slouched on a cushioned couch, hypnotized by something playing on the Mac before her. Earbuds drowned out the world. She glanced up and hit a button on the keyboard, took one earbud out.

“Can I help you?” Her voice held an irritated note.

The businessman shoved his hands in his pockets. “Did you buy that yourself?” He nodded to the computer on her lap.

She shook her head. “My parents did.”

He nodded once and turned away, muttering something about rich peoples’ spoiled kids.

Taylor Swift crooned over the speakers.

“…chose the Rose Garden over Madison Square,

And it took some time, but I understand it now.

‘Cause now my name is up in lights, but I think you got it right.

Let me tell you now, you’re the lucky one…”

The businessman scoffed at the lyrics and accepted the black coffee from the barista, exchanging his money for the caffeine. He sat back down before his laptop.

“Must be nice. You’re rich, kid.” He sipped the dark liquid. “No deadlines to meet, no one to please. Some people are lucky.”

 

The Singer

Red lips curved in a smile. Camera lights flashed, blinding her. She turned to the other side and placed a hand on her hip. A dozen more clicks, a dozen more flashes, another dozen pictures for the tabloids. She walked off the stage, waved to the ravenous crowd, and climbed into the black limo.

Behind the tinted windows, she dropped the smile and reached for the bottle of bourbon. Her producer looked on in disgust from the seat before the singer. She held the liquor between her knees and reached for the hoodie beside her, pulled it on before taking another swig.

The producer rubbed his forehead. “You need to be more careful. People will talk.”

She turned jaded eyes on the man. “They already do.” The star rubbed her eyes, smearing the previously perfectly-placed eyeliner. “Her makeup isn’t symmetrical. She looks hideous in yellow. Did she even put any effort into that song?” The singer flashed the man a dead smile. “I’m not perfect, but they expect me to be.”

Shifting her gaze to stare out the window, she inhaled and sighed. “Must be nice not being known; not being scrutinized and criticized. Some people are lucky.”

“You realize that’s what people say about you, right?” The producer raised an eyebrow.

“There’s lucky and then there’s a misunderstood perception of lucky.” She closed her eyes and leaned back. “Some people are lucky.”

 

The Soldier

The soldier clenched his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut. He grunted as he rolled onto his back, stared at the make-shift hospital ceiling. A young man jogged up to him and saluted, raising a stiff hand to his bandaged temple. Blood had soaked through the once-white cloth. “Sergeant?”

He sat up, grimacing. “Yes, Private?”

“Your daughter’s on the phone.”

The sergeant accepted the communicative device. “Hello, baby!” He didn’t need to force a smile into his voice. The pain subsided for a moment when she spoke, her five-year old voice blurring some words together.

“Daddy!” A giggle came through.

“How are you?”

“Good. Mommy said I could call you. She misses you.” The flow of conversation flooded through the phone and he didn’t mind. “We had oatmeal this morning. Again. Can you tell Mommy to make something different tomorrow?”

He grinned. “Well, what do you want for breakfast tomorrow?”

“Um… French toast!”

“I can try, love. How’s school?” He reached down to scratch an itch on his calf. It wasn’t there. He tried not to think of the pain. They’d run out of anesthesia. The amputation was hell.

“Good, I guess.”

“You guess?” He focused on her voice.

“Yeah. Hey, Daddy? Why do you have to be away so much?”

He smiled and thought for a moment. “So you can complain about whether or not you get oatmeal or French toast for breakfast, baby girl. So my uncle can complain that writing is hard when he could easily get another job. So my brother can complain that he doesn’t make enough money or have enough time when he’s got a beautiful family and nice house. So my sister can complain about the rich and famous life when that’s what she worked hard to achieve. Darling, I’m away so you guys can complain about the results of your freedom.”

Love,

Rana

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The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay: Part 1: A Review

SPOILER WARNING. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.

Last night, I had the privilege of seeing The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay: Part 1. I read the books a while back and don’t remember if it followed the book closely, but I feel that it had a huge impact.

The first two books/films were necessary in setting the scene for the third installment in the Hunger Games trilogy/series and definitely had impact, but this one just seemed like a major wake up call. As I watched, I kept seeing parallels between that world and ours.

I’ve written about it before – we read to see ourselves. And I definitely saw us.

  • I saw us in the pain and hunger – not so much for food as much as hope. Hope is something we lack so much in today’s day and age. We’re constantly being bombarded by noise and products – we’re constantly wrapped up in the superficial. Things that make us happy for a fleeting moment. But in the long run, we’re left empty. Our energy has been sucked dry by nothing and we allowed that to happen.
  • I saw us in the murder. In the scene where rebels were shot, all I could think of was ISIS. You either convert or you die. You either do as President Snow wants or you die. Seeing any connections?
    • Is it true faith if it’s forced? Is it true patriotism if it’s done out of fear?
  • I saw us in the massacres and death. The hospital in District 8. I thought of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta tending to the wounded, dying. And now, as I think about it, the Rwandan Genocide. Guys, we’re all equally human. But, I suppose, not equally humane.
  • I saw us in Peeta’s (or was it Peeta’s? 😉 ) urging for peace (peace or submission?). I think it was too late for peace. I think there does need to be a rebellion before we can attain a long-lasting impact with positive effects. People are dying, there’s injustice, morals grew corrupt and that’s what we need to combat.
  • I saw us in the relationship issues. Okay, I promise this isn’t going to be cheesy. I try to steer clear of that. Oh, and please get over the Team Gale and Team Peeta spat.
    • Gale + Katniss = mutual need for survival. Take away the mutual need. What have you got? Maybe two friends. Maybe not. The glue between them was a recipe of one part need and one part time (they had a lot of history – supporting each other, feeding their families, etc.). I don’t know that their ideals were always the same. But maybe more on that another time.
    • Peeta and Katniss, however, I believe embodied true love. Love in the most realistic sense. They’re not a Cinderella and Prince Charming. They’re both messed up and they both are willing to give up their life for the other. That’s love.
  • I saw us in the corruption. The people have less power than the government and that’s always a recipe for disaster. As the old quote by Lord Acton goes, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I don’t think I need to expound on this point.
  • I saw us in the selflessness and sheer humanity. When we’re suffering, when we’re all stripped of our titles, riches, popularity points – everything – we see what we really are. We’re either monsters hungry for death or we’re people fighting for the ones we love.
    • Katniss isn’t a very likable character, but she embodies certain ideals we all want. When it comes down to it, she’s courageous – scared, but going to push forward. She loves – not perfectly, but selflessly. Oh, and she can sing. I’m so jealous of Jennifer’s voice.
  • I saw us in Peeta. Though he was tortured, he still loved, he still risked it all. And, just as in the book (if I remember correctly), the longer he was in the enemy’s clutches, the worse he looked. It’s so true with us. Smoking could be an enemy. Negative thoughts could be an enemy. While not all of our demons have physical effects, they all have internal ones. They all hurt us ’till they get down to our souls and, if we’re not strong enough to destroy them, they’ll destroy us.

I hope that was comprehensive and left you with something to think about (as is always my hope).

A huge thanks to Suzanne Collins for her time and effort in writing The Hunger Games trilogy as well as to the whole film team in bringing it to life. You can read about death and imagine it, but until you see it, it’s hard for it to have as large of an impact. I cannot wait for the last installment in this film series. The books were amazing with a message to match and now the films are doing a great job in helping us visualize horror and truth.

Listen. I can’t get enough. I think I’m going to buy this when it comes out tomorrow on iTunes.

Don’t forget to like, comment, rate, and follow!

God bless!

Rana

Mint & Mozzarella Pizza

I think it’s no secret that I have an unhealthy addiction to cooking and baking. As a result of this cheesy passion (is that phraseology corny at all?), I tend to experiment with a lot of recipes. When I was little, I would watch Food Network and help my mom make pizzas (I often got caught eating the cheese before we put it in the oven). Now, I’d like to share a hit recipe (it’s a hit in the home – but let’s spread the love and share it throughout the internet).

My brother (my brother!) likes it.

My father (and he’ll never admit it, but he’s a picky eater) likes it.

My sister told me that I am the best cook (she’ll never live that one down).

My mother, no matter how hard she tries, cannot resist it.

Enjoy this one, kids! And if you want more, I’ve got other pizza recipes for you. 😉

Mint & Mozzarella Pizza

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy.
  • Print

Mint & Mozzarella Pizza

Pizza dough recipe adapted from All Recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water (more or less)
  • 1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 (8 ounce) package mozzarella cheese
  • A few pinches of dried mint

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 550 degrees F (288 degrees C). In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until bubbly (10 – 15 mins).
  2. Stir in flour (you may need to add more water to get the proper consistency). Beat until the dough doesn’t stick to the sides. Add a drop of oil to the bottom of the bowl and turn dough around in it until it’s all coated.* Let stand 10 – 15 mins.
  3. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and roll until it reaches the desired thickness. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured cookie sheet or pizza stone.
  4. Drizzle olive oil on top of dough, spread with spoon. Sprinkle salt on top. Dump that mozzarella cheese all over. Next, dust the top with dried mint and stick that baby in the oven until the edges have turned a golden-brown (10 ish minutes? Keep an eye on it though because it can cook really fast – unless you’re hungry – in which case, it will take 5 centuries.).
  5. Eat.

*If you add too much oil here, the dough will not rise.

If you end up making this recipe, do us a favor, love, and comment to let me know how you liked it!

Oh! And don’t forget to rate this post (on the left just beneath the title).

Love,

Rana

High Fructose Fantasies

Hello, my darling!

I apologize for the irregular posts. I really should get myself on a schedule, but, ah, that would require effort and planning ahead – two things I’m not particularly fond of. So we’ll just stick with this spontaneous thing I’ve got going on.

Today, I just want to kind of throw some thoughts out there. It might be a bit scattered, so hold on tight. 😉

When we were young, we thought we’d be the popular kids with everything figured out. Don’t pretend like you never had those fantasies. We all High Fructose Fantasiesdid.

And now what are we?

What happened to the kids who weren’t afraid to love, to try things, to make mistakes? What happened to the kids who thought they were going to change the world?

I guess they grew up.

I used to day dream all the time. I used to think about my future.

Now, not so much. It’s getting better, but I used to dread thinking about the next day because it was so overwhelming. It still is if I think too hard or far. It just seems like once you hit high school, things go by so fast.

You’re expected to do, like,

  • 529,720,762,759 hours of community service
  • 5,000 hours of internship
  • decide what college to attend
  • what you want to do with the rest of your life
  • make friends
  • keep friends
  • lose friends
  • love
  • hate
  • get broken
  • pick yourself back up
  • have fun because childhood is the best time of your life but why aren’t you acting like an adult
  • cry but not too much because people will ask what’s wrong and they have their own problems – bigger problems so yours mean nothing
  • laugh
  • dream big
  • no, not that big you idiot because only special people can do that (basically, you’re obviously not special)
  • be yourself
  • no, not like that
  • do your homework
  • stop talking so much, no one cares
  • why are you so quiet, I want to hear what you have to say
  • get involved in extra curricular activities
  • but maybe you should drop them because you obviously need an A+ in all of your classes and you seem stressed out
  • and don’t forget to shower and sleep somewhere in between.

Why don’t we dream big anymore? Because there are only 24 hours in a day  and it’s spent doing s o  m u c h  n o t h i n g.

Why do we really need A’s? I work way too hard for a letter. After that, what? I go to a nice college so I can hopefully get a job in the field I studied for. So much of what I do rests on hope that’s not even my own. Is that okay? Is this really how I want to live my life? I just don’t understand why that’s the only option. *shakes head*

(This is not to say that I’m advocating for rebellion against parents/guardians when they tell you to work hard and get good grades. I only mean that you should think for yourself. Respect authority, kids.)

Back to the point: we don’t dream anymore. Our hopes been sucked dry by an uncreative society’s chaotic and bland version of reality. And we so readily conform to it. Our new dreams are no longer that of a hopeful child with starry eyes looking to a bright future. The only dreams we now dare to hope come true must be possible and probable. Anything else will get you hurt.

Our new dreams, though, terrify us into paralysis. We’re afraid to dream too big. We’re afraid we can’t achieve the success they have. We’re afraid. So afraid.

Why don’t we dream big anymore? Because there are only 24 hours in a day and-

Guys, there are only 24 hours in a day.

Don’t waste that precious time being afraid. If you’re afraid to wear that leather jacket because you’re afraid to break out of the t-shirt and jeans standard you’ve created for yourself, have courage. Do it. Go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? Flushed cheeks and maybe a comment on how wonderful you look?

Small changes add up. Make them.

They don’t have to be life changes. Maybe just a little one. Live on the edge. Chop your hair off, wear striped pants, smile at a stranger.

Summary: society’s version of dreaming is going to keep your from making a move. So screw society and do your own thing. Dream. Hope. Love.

[/thus end Rana’s random thoughts]

Much love from a kid who’s just as confused (if not more so) as you.

Rana

Love in Literature

“We’re all fools in love.”

Jane Austen

I used to be a romantic. Now, I consider myself a realistic dreamer. I don’t plan on getting married or having kids. If it happens, it happens and I’ll thank God, but I’m done hoping and wishing for it. Most of my friends – you can tell who they’re going to end up with. And I hate them [/mild sarcasm]. I think I’ll just end up being a crazy cat lady one day. Let’s be honest: I’m not a fantastic people-person. I can hold a conversation most of the time, but I’m always freaking out that I’m asking too many questions or boring them or not being clear or whatever.

At the practice speech and debate tournament I went to on Saturday, a kind boy said hi (you know when you never really feel like a very noticeable person and then someone starts talking to you out of the blue and it’s one of the most touching things?). I ended up asking him about fifteen+ questions. Way to go, Rana.

Oh! And I also discovered that little girls are fascinated with pantyhose. I was wearing some and they kept touching and rubbing my legs. It was one of the most awkward moments of my life.

ANYWAY, I like love as a sub-plot in my novels. And I thought, “hey, why not do a post on love in stories?” So here we go. Some of my “rules” for love in literature:

#1: Insta-Love is an Insta-No-No

Just don’t do it. Please. It’s cheesy and not realistic. In this post, we went over whether or not to make things up or make them realistic. Although fiction is fake up to a certain point, it should also be believable. We read to see ourselves. Books are like verbal mirrors. If we can’t see ourselves reflected through a character’s actions, personality, or journey, we’re not really going to like the book. So, as far as love in concerned, I would steer clear of love-at-first-sight.

In Desensitized, Cael and Ashland end up becoming super good friends and fall in love eventually. But at first, they hate each other. The character arcs change throughout the story and that’s important to me. I like to see people get better. Love helps with that. (Not the cheesy, romantic love, but pure, selfless love.)

#2: It Should Be Significant in Small Ways

So, without Cael, Ashland would probably die – not in a ‘oh-I-can’t-live-without-you’ way, but just that she’s going through a ton and needs support. Without Ashland, Cael would probably continue to be a heartless leader who isn’t concerned with anyone’s quality of life, but just that they’re alive.

They change each other for the better and that’s what love is about. Love in literature should serve as a means of communicating that no man is an island. We’re social creatures and that’s not a bad thing. Also, it’s not all about the feelings.

Essentially, if your story isn’t impacted by the love sub-plot, then it doesn’t need to be in there. It needs to be significant, but not so that the whole focus is on the love.

#3: It’s not all about the feelings

Love is sacrifice. It’s willing to give up your personal, instant pleasure for the good of someone else. This is what we should see. We need an accurate portrayal of love in a world that constantly tells us that it’s nothing more than a //feeling.// Guys, it’s so much more than that. Writers have the ability to tell the truth without getting hated (as much as we would if we said our message to someone’s face).

#4: Don’t make it easy

Okay. It doesn’t need to be Romeo and Juliet level difficult, but it shouldn’t be – forgive me for being cliche, which I warned against in #1 – Bella and Edward easy. Love is a horrible, beautiful thing. It hurts, it feels good, sometimes it feels like nothing, but requires a choice (not a love-triangle choice, mind you, but a choice that’s either going to help or harm the other member in the relationship – think of a parent and their child – the parents gives up a lot for their children and we call it ‘love’).

Love is full of heartbreak and pain, but it’s worth it. Show that. Don’t make it a Ferris-wheel ride (I went on one maybe once or twice and they’re flipping scary. The dude running was like, “I can’t put more people on. I have to balance it out or I could kill everyone on this thing.”) with cotton candy and moonlight kisses. That’s not love. That’s a feeling. And love isn’t a feeling.

Well, I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what I’ve got for you for now.

I hope this helps and if you have any more to add, I’d love it! 😀

God bless!

Rana

Get Over It

Hello, you!

Welcome to Monday. *groans, yawns, and coffee-slurps are heard in the distance*

A lesson that I’ve learned recently is that you need to be true to yourself. When I attended regular school (before I began homeschooling), I always tried to fit in and it was hell. Now, seven years later, I’m still working on being comfortable in my own skin. Even with good friends, I have a hard time telling them that I’m really not obsessed with that t.v. show. Stupid, right? But it makes a big difference.

If you can’t stand up and differ on little opinions, how are you going to do it with the big ones? I’ve tried to just go with a few things I was uncomfortable with because they didn’t make much of a difference or I didn’t know how to speak up. And it bothered me. Now, I’m still working

on being able to tell someone I disagree or think they’re wrong.

And, you know, that’s easier to do that when you don’t know someone too well. I have no problem making someone frustrated because of my opinions. I enjoy it actually. #guiltypleasures But when it comes to someone I care about, I find it hard to say anything because I don’t want them to get hurt.

But you know what? That’s wrong of me. Of course, some little issues don’t matter and not everything should become grounds for debate because that’s annoying and people will shun you and you will have to live in a cave as a hermit for the rest of your life feeding off the bugs that dare to cross your turf. Just kidding. Sort of.

What was wrong of me was the fact that I didn’t have the guts the stand up to someone I cared about and tell them I thought they were wrong. It’s easier to disagree on the big things, right? The controversial issues that are commonly debated. But when it comes to the actions of someone you love, you don’t want to hurt them, but you actually end up doing just that. The longer you wait to tell someone they’re doing something you think is wrong, the more they think you’re cool with it. When you finally get the guts to say something, you’ve basically shattered that false conception they had of you regarding that issue and trust is lost and it’s not pretty. Everyone gets hurt.

The habits I created in Elementary school still cling to me today and it’s really hard to break them. So just be careful what lines you blur and what compromises you make. They do impact your life, as well as others, in the long run.

Also, make sure that you’re not blaming yourself as you learn a lesson. You’re learning. You’re expanding your horizons and that’s okay. Sometimes, learning comes at a huge cost. Life is full of mistakes. Make good ones, okay? And, most importantly, learn from them.

The Getting-Over-It Process:

1) Identify your mistake and look at it objectively (take a step back, breathe, and look at exactly what happened).

2) Accept that you made it (if you did).

3) If you can, get someone else’s perspective on it.

4) Try to fix it.

5) Forgive yourself.

Love,

Rana