The Maiden Voyage

Last week the stake president met with my parents and myself.  Knowing how badly I desired to be a proselytizing missionary, he has been working without rest to help me reach that dream while still avoiding doing anything that would give me pain with the EDS.

It’s been a miracle.  I thought I would have to stay at home and occasionally go with the missionaries to teach, but this is an almost complete fulfilment of the dream I’ve held for as long as I can remember.  We’ll be going transfer by transfer (which are six weeks), testing how well I do.  I’ll have a wheelchair, but mostly I’ll be doing what my companions do.  I get to teach, proselytize, and work with the sisters to bring others to Christ.  If it becomes too much, I get to go home for a transfer then go right back out again.  We’re shooting for six months, but I’ll try to go the full eighteen.

There have been so many angels in this process.  Angel #1 is President Williams, who hasn’t stopped fighting for me.  President Sweeney, Bishop Kai, my parents … it’s been amazing beyond words.  And as I went to be set apart as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I saw a couple I’ve known for a while sitting in the foyer.  They have been my “adopted parents” when my own weren’t able to come to Gospel Doctrine class, sandwiching me between them and smiling, laughing and learning with me.  Their appointment was before mine, then as the bishop came to fetch us, he gave my mom a big hug and whispered something in her ear, seeming very moved.  The couple were in the room and the bishop and the husband set me apart.  They were so excited and the lady kept hugging me.  My mom later told me that they offered to pay for the entirety of my mission.  I’m telling you: angels.  Those God has sent into my path to help me fulfil this dream and bring others unto Him.

Unfortunately my father wasn’t able to be there (we’re trying to sell the house so we can move down to the city and join him) so we Skyped with him — he was dubbed the “electronic father” and “digital dad.”  (My older sisters weren’t there, either — they don’t even live in my state and it’s really hard).  When President Williams presented the idea that would allow me to go like this, my father started crying, he was so touched and happy.  The Gospel means most to us.  The Lord is everything.  And everyone knows how much I want to go and serve Him.  Even my best friend, who isn’t a member of the Church and so hasn’t grown up with the understanding of LDS missions, is such a support.  It’s really hurting her, but she loves the Lord as much as I do and understands why I need to go.  For us, He comes first.

I need to talk a little more about President Williams.  Last Sunday when he called us in and told us what we could do and I immediately agreed, he then resolved to do everything he could to contact the mission president and have him come for another interview after church.  Together they’re sending me off, working so hard to help me do this.  I feel like Heavenly Father has just opened the floodgates to the blessings.  I know it’s all pretty sudden, but I was given the option of going during this transfer or waiting until the next.  I don’t wait, so it wasn’t even an option for me to hesitate.

I have the most amazing group of friends anyone could ever ask for.  I’m going to miss them like crazy, but they love the Lord as much as I do and their love and support means so much to me.  I’m excited to see how they grow as writers and as people while I’m gone, and I really hope Mirriam takes care of my baby Odd-Eyes.  And Ice.  If anything happens to him, Mirri, I might have to kill you.  And Apollo had better wait for me — I’ll be his missionary then I will come back and love him forever and make pretty half-Korean quarter-Bolivian babies that he can chase after.

My family is the greatest blessing in my life after God.  Despite our rather teasing, emotionless way of showing affection, I know they’re going to miss me and they’re the ones that, at night, I’ll be yearning for.  Every day is an adventure with them, and I can’t wait to come home and continue that.  And my baby sister is waiting for her call — so we’ll have two missionaries out!  Kerri, if you go to Africa, I will laugh so hard I’ll need to be hospitalized.

My ward family swarmed around me today, showering me with hope and love.  Guys, I’ll miss you and look forward to seeing you again.  Brother Stepp asked me to sing (okay, he told me a couple weeks ago exactly what I was singing so I didn’t have a choice) and the bishop allowed me to sing I Know That My Redeemer Lives today, even if nothing had been planned in advance.  Brother Vest, who is a WWII veteran and in his 90s told my mother that he had never heard the song so heartfelt before.  I have a very difficult time singing in church because I get so wrapped up in the physical — is my diaphragm in place, is my throat open, oh, no, I missed that note — and the attention that it’s been known to become a performance rather than a song of worship.  But my dear friend Shelby gave me a tip: pray that the congregation and yourself will feel the Spirit as God wants them to.  It worked.  I felt every word and I hope was able to bring something good to the meeting.  Something I felt inspired to do was change many of the ‘I’s and ‘me’s to ‘ours’ and ‘we’s.  I pray I helped someone through the music and my voice.  (Thank you, Mama, for the vocal genes).

There’s so much more I could go into — but I’ll leave it at that.  I may be home at intervals, but let’s hope I’m not back for a year and a half.  I want to serve for as long as I can and with my full capacity, even if that capacity is less than others with healthy bodies.  I have God on my side and whatever gets thrown at me, that’s why I’m out there.  I’m out there for Him and to bring joy to those around me.

Love you guys!

Cheers,

Sister Ana Pinto-Haynes

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August Quote Queste — Sirens

Another Quote Queste because I discovered I like them.

Again, I get this from Lody.  I got to talk to her again this morning and it was a wonderful two or three hours.  You’ve got to check out her blog and get into her stories.  Her characters are so flesh-and-blood and the worlds she builds are so realistic, even down to the politics.  Trust me; you will love her.

Now that I’ve told you again how fantastic Lody is, here’s the quote she’s picked for this month:

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Silvana clutched her ragged shawl about her shoulders, pulling her dirty, tangled black hair from getting caught between the cloth and her back.

“Half-breed, where are you going?”

Silvana took in a deep breath and turned around to face the smirking fae.  “It is of no matter to you.”

The beautiful young woman sauntered closer, her blonde hair swept away from her face and highlighting her vivid blue markings.  “I can always tell the chief you’re leaving again.  He won’t be pleased, you know.”

Silvana knew her father preferred her to be as far from him as possible.  “Go ahead,” she replied, her voice even and low.  “He knows where I am.”  With that she turned away, slipping into the green embrace of the forest.  She knew every cubit of the way to the ocean — she could walk the path with her eyes closed.  It wasn’t even a path; it was merely the way she had taken for years.  There were only slight hints that told anyone had been there — fewer ferns grew, vines had been pushed to the side, even the animals were used to her presence and didn’t bother paying attention to her any more.

Walking faster than usual, she arrived at the beach in under fifteen minutes.  Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and made her way forward, feeling the soft sand beneath her feet.  Despite the clouds overhead, the ground was still warm.  Eyes still closed, she stepped into the water and let it carress her skin.  The wind from over the ocean engulfed her, wrapping her in its familiar scent and coolness.  She felt free, released from obligation and status.  Out here, she was no longer the mistake of a dead human mother and fae chief father.  She was only one with the waves and sky, becoming a part of this world her people had no love for.

A soft voice carried in the wind, and Silvana opened her eyes, gazing around in surprise.  She saw nothing but sand, sea and sky.  Whirling to stare behind her, again there was no one.  “Who’s there?” she said as the sound grew louder.  She felt almost that she should be afraid, but instead the emotions inside her were those of curiosity and a strange sort of comfort.

A dark head rose from the ocean, and Silvana took a step forward, staring in shock at the creature slowly crawling up the sand.  From head to hips, he looked a man, but where there should have been legs there was a long, shimmering blue tail.  She had heard tales of merfolk but had never dreamed she would come in contact with one.  “Who are you?” she asked, her eyes locked on his foreign form.  His wet hair was plastered against his thin face, and he was looking back at her with thin eyes beneath thinner eyebrows.  His mouth was pulled into a sharp, wicked smile that held no kindness.  “Tell me who you are,” she said, her tone now threatening and dangerous.  As little control she had over her magic, he would not be pleased to experience it.

“Half-breed, I understand?” he said as his gleaming eyes roved over the dusty blue swirls and diamond-shaped markings on Silvana’s skin.

“And you are a merman.”  She knew she should leave, as the merfolk were dangerous to anyone they came in contact with, but it was as if he had invaded her territory — and he was not welcome.

He flicked his tail, showering himself with a few drops of saltwater that caught the light as they fell.  “What’s your name, pretty thing?”

Manipulative.  No one had yet called her attractive, but she knew better than to trust the seafolk.  “Does it matter?” she replied, narrowing her eyes as she pierced him with her gaze.

He shrugged, again waving his tail as he watched her through his long, lazy eyes.  “No, not particularly.  In the end you’ll just be another life come and gone.”

She knew now that she should be fearful.  She took a step back, the water swirling about her ankles with her movement.  “I will live it gladly.  Go back to your soul-sucking ways and never come here again.”  Turning, she ran up the beach, back into the trees.


Not my best, but it was fun.  It’s from a story called Endless that I’ve got on the back burner, one about the half-breed Silvana and the merman Kai, wrapped up in turmoil between fae, humans and merfolk.

And as I wrote this, I listened in part to Sierra Boggess as Ariel.  That woman is the queen of the world.

Cheers!

Ana

Quote Queste — Operation Blame Lody

My dear, dear friend Melody (we all just call her Lody) challenged our group of friends to take the quote she had provided and whip up a short piece related to one of our WIPs.  Notice the word “challenge?”  I have a difficult time resisting that little word, so here I am.  But before I begin, I have to tell you go to check out her blog.  She’s a lovely, amazing individual with an unlawful amount of talent (and wisdom).  Feel free to — nicely — stalk her.

(Isn’t that picture gorgeous?)

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Valkyrie shuffled into the kitchen, her wet hair in knots and her favorite red blanket wrapped around her.  She couldn’t sleep.  Taking the biggest mug from her arsenal in the cupboard, she filled it with water and shoved it into the microwave before rooting through her boxes of teas.  She finally settled on a peppermint one as the electric box beeped.  In a haze of exhaustion, she plopped the teabag into the steaming water and sat down to wait for it to be steeped enough.  It was three o’ clock in the morning and she had had a rough day.  All she wanted was rest.  But no — she had to be awake.  For no particular reason.

She rubbed her face with one hand, the other still holding her blanket around her.  Unless someone was dreaming about her.  It happened occasionally, and here in Dusty’s mind the fabric of reality was stretched and reshaped in strange and inconvenient ways.  Taking her tea with her, she marched down the hall.

Djin was awoken by someone shaking his shoulder.  “I’m up, I’m up, Tsuyoshi,” he mumbled, turning his face deeper into his pillow.  He felt as if he hadn’t had enough sleep, but his adopted brother was a very reliable alarm clock.

“Valkyrie’s at the door,” Tsuyoshi said, pushing hard on his shoulder in an attempt to roll him over.

Groaning, Djin lifted himself up on his elbows and glanced at the clock.  3:14.  What?  “What’s she want?” he asked, his words running together with exhaustion.  Now that he knew what time it was, there was no way he was getting out of bed unless it was an emergency in which Dusty was on fire or in otherwise mortal peril.  Tsuyoshi opened his mouth to respond when Valkyrie herself strode into the room, a cup in her hand, a blanket around her shoulders, and a scowl on her face.  It was strange to see her without her thick make-up, even if he couldn’t really see her through the dark.  She then flipped on the light.

“Yah!” Djin cried, covering his eyes before burrowing back under the blankets.  “What’s the matter with you?”

She gripped the blankets and pulled them off him as he glared up at her.  “Were you dreaming about me?”

“I don’t know,” Djin responded irritably.

“Well, Hugo wasn’t,” she said, her voice bitingly mocking, “and Tsuyoshi wasn’t, and seeing as there are only four of us in Dusty’s mind, you’re the only one left.  Cut it out and let me sleep.”

All the pieces eased into place through Djin’s weary consciousness.  She must have been awake in his dream, rendering her unable to rest.  “I’ll do my best,” he retorted, unable to keep a little ice out of his voice.  “I’d like my blanket back now.”

She shoved it back over him, turning and stalking out as Tsuyoshi called out a tentative ‘goodnight.’


Okay, that’s that.  Thanks, Lody, that was fun!

Cheers!

Ana

Why Supporting Characters are the Best

Protagonists make up and drive the story, antagonists are often the source of that drive.  They are the ones the audience is to care about, for it is their tale that’s being told.  But what about the unsung heroes of the same story?

Think of one story without supporting characters.  Yeah; there aren’t any.  There’s even an entire category dedicated to them at awards ceremonies celebrating films.  I’ve found that often those that I love most out of the things I watch or read are not members of the principal cast, but those that support the main players.

Examples:

Eum-Ja in Faith.

sung hoon como chun eum ja-EL PELO, EL PELO :3

Eum-Ja actually works for the antagonist of the drama.  He does his thing, does as he’s told, and is very multi-layered behind his soft-spoken beauty.  I seriously spent the entire drama waiting for him to switch sides and still think he should’ve.

Sir Leon in Merlin

Sir Leon, my favorite knight! (Link to other character photos as well, to remain somewhat fair).

Yes, Leon gets a big picture because I like this one.  He’s one of the Knights of the Round Table in the TV series following Merlin and King Arthur, and while in the beginning he’s rather a bystander, a bit part to give some good moments to our heroes, his nobility and honor do not fail to shine through.  And I agree with the fandom in that he must be immortal.  No other way to explain it.

Anton in Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time ABC | Once Upon a Time' recap: Tiny with Jorge Garcia | Season 2 Episode 13 ...

Anton the Giant is a sweetheart.  While initially wary of humans, he is very loving as well as curious of the cultures and practices of others.  It’s because of him that the magic bean once again grows, and it’s very satisfying and happy to see him settle in among the residents of Storybrooke, really making a home there.

Honorable mentions: Dromio and Dromio from Shakespeare’s a Comedy of Errors.  Read the play for them.


Now there are many different supporting characters.  Everyone around you could be considered a supporting character in the story of your life.  There are a lot, huh?  It could be that person who smiled at you when you were fifteen.  It could be your grouchy neighbor with the constantly-barking dog.  They touch and change your life in some way, enriching the experience and giving you the opportunity to see the world in a new light.

Stories are very much the same way.  Every supporting character should touch and change your principal cast or the story itself in some way.  Let me give you some examples from my Robin Hood/King Arthur WIP:

The Lady Eliza

The Lady Eliza ... but she would never handle a sword.

Eliza is a very unlikeable character.  She’s sixteen and married to a noble, viewing herself above everyone she comes in contact with, which drives Marian insane.  She’s a complete priss and unlike the picture, would never handle a weapon, perferring to laze about and complain.  She irritates Marian (and Morgan and even Magar) to no end, and Marian spends her days trying to avoid her while still pretending to help her under Magar’s orders.  She is a good source of information if Marian pushes and manipulates hard enough, seeing as her husband doesn’t think her intelligent enough to keep his secrets from her delicate ears.  So when some of the nobles band together to bring down the king for their own gain, Eliza is in on it and Marian uses that to her advantage.

Guinson Little

Guinson.

Much more trusting and friendly than his father and friends, Guinson is crucial in the moment when Marian had been captured by his comrades.  It’s thanks to him that she’s allowed to go free, and when he’s taken prisoner, she acts to save him, turning her whole life around as well as earning the trust of the rugged outlaws.

Sir Kay

OH MY WORD IT'S KAY.

Arthur is extremely close to his foster-brother Kay, despite the huge differences in their personalities.  While Kay is a huge brat and prone to temper tantrums, he would die for his little brother and king.  He is, in many ways, Arthur’s support.  If Kay thinks what he’s doing is good, then Arthur is assured that it is.  If Kay disagrees, Arthur might just do it anyway, but his brother’s opinion is always carefully considered at the very least.


Again, there are as many different kinds of supporting characters as there are people.  They should also get their time in the spotlight of your mind, because even if your principal cast is well-built, fleshed out and genuine, your story will fall flat unless the supporting characters are as real as their protagonist counterparts.  They support the characters.  They support the story.  And oftentimes, they win our hearts.

Cheers!

Ana

Character Spotlight: Lady Marian of Nottingham

Mah girl. It’s time for another spotlight.  I have chosen Marian from my Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling.  She’s a spunky young woman that’s forced to live with Sheriff Magar at the death of her parents.  She sees the oppression and poverty rampant in England (I’ve put her in the early fifteenth century for now, at least) and as she is continually stirred by the nation’s troubles she begins to do everything in her power to combat tyranny and fight for peace and justice.

What inspired Marian?

Do you want the embarrassing truth or do you want me to doctor it into something that sounds better?  The truth of the matter is I love playing in the mirror and because of my love of Robin Hood, I envisioned this tough young woman who only pretended to be a man, her pseudonym doing much to protect her identity.  I began putting together the scene, and I decided that this needed to come alive for real.  As for what Marian looks like, she resembles a cross between my mom and sister, and Julia Ormond was as close as I could find.  (Besides, she was Guinevere in First Knight.  I adore that movie).

So she’s Robin Hood, basically.  What makes her go out and rob from the rich to give to the poor?

More than anything it was her upbringing.  Her father seemed to forget that she was a girl and she was allowed to run wild, much to her mother’s dismay.  She had always had a mind of her own and her father encouraged her in her independence, eventually actually giving in to teaching her swordplay.  Her parents were also very intent upon keeping Nottingham a safe and fair place, and when they were killed and the sheriff of Derbyshire took over, Marian got to see first-hand what tyranny and an iron fist do and it angered her.  Never one to sit on the sidelines, she decides to do something about it.

Does she have Merry Men?

She meets (actually, she’s kidnapped and manages to make them let her free) a ragtag group of outlaws.  At first they were planning on ransoming, then killing her, but as she proves herself to be of their ideals they begin to trust her.  They consist of John and his son Guinson, Haelen, Jeffrey and Barric.

John.

(John Little).

Guinson.

(Guinson Little, the baby of the group).

Haelen!

(Closest thing to Haelen I could find).

allen a dale, robin hood bbc. (joe armstrong) my fav!

(Jeffrey.  I couldn’t resist, okay?)

Cross between John and Barric.

(This is the closest I could find to Barric).

If Marian lived in the modern day, what genre of music would she like?

Hm.  Probably more musical theater stuff.  Something not too pop, not too classical.  And she would love the power ballads.  But Sondheim would take some getting used to.

What’s something she admires about herself?

Her tenacity.  She’s very headstrong and when she puts her mind to something, she never gives up.

Is there something she regrets?  What is it?

Her overall regret is accepting Magar’s invitation for her to stay in Derbyshire.  She now isn’t allowed to leave and when she attempts to regain some of her freedoms he punishes her through hurting others.

Is she a talker or a listener?

A bit of both.  She very carefully watches everything around her and speaks to cover up the fact that she’s ingesting as must information as she can.  She paints herself as a proper lady.

What does she struggle with?

Her temper is one of her greatest vices.  It’s often gotten her into trouble and now that she’s playing a dangerous game she has to keep a tighter leash on it lest it get her into trouble.  She also speaks her mind without thinking of the consequences — it’s another thing she’s having to keep in check.

How does she handle those she dislikes?

Probably not as well as she should.  She likes to escape, citing certain duties as a means to leave.  With Magar, she has to act submissive and it angers her.  He knows she hates him, but they’re both aware that she can do nothing about it.  So when Marian becomes Robin Hood, she makes it a personal goal to make him suffer as best she can.

If she lived in the modern day, what would she do?

She would probably be in college getting a degree in law or something.  To quote Bela from Yokai Ningen Bem, “when [she] decides [she] likes some[thing] [she’s] serious about it.”  She probably would apply herself to her studies until she accomplished her goal, and she would probably have a close group of friends who shared her drive and opinions.

How would she feel about Disney’s Merida?

In a lot of ways I think she would relate, seeing as neither of them want to get married, both prefer spending time outdoors with weapons and doing daredevil things, but she would disapprove of Merida’s treatment of her mother.  And she would probably think the bear thing was really weird, seeing as she doesn’t know she’s come in contact with magic yet.

What was she like as a child?

Basically like she is now but with less inhibitions.  Her mother constantly worried about where she was and what she was doing, and there have been several instances where she’s broken either a bone or something belonging to a neighbor in her wild escapades.  She now knows how to behave like a lady, even if she’s pretty grudging about it.

Who are her friends?

At the present moment everyone she’s ever considered herself close to is in Nottingham and she can’t go there.  But she is building trust with the group of outlaws and a strange woman has just appeared in Derbyshire.  Marian insisted the woman, whose name is Morgan, stay, even if she doesn’t entirely trust her.

What is her ultimate goal?

What she really wants is peace.  Both for herself and for her countrymen.  She doubts it’ll ever happen, but she applies herself to fulfilling her dreams to the best of her ability.


So that was Marian.  I’m actually struggling a bit with her story right now because there isn’t much action at the present moment.  But she’s very dear to me and I look forward to spending more time with her.  Biting remarks and all.

Cheers!

Ana

An Ode to Black Nail Polish

Top 10 Black Nail Polishes - going through such a black nail polish phase this summer

(Not my hands.  And I use Sally Hansen’s Black Heart polish).

O dear polish, black as night

You make my heart to take to flight

You shine in light like polished stone

And comfort in the dark unknown

When I paint my fingers pink

I stop and look and then I think

Of what I would do without my paint

The very thought near makes me faint

Normalcy would be my guide

My spikes and leather I may hide

No kinship with my j-rock boys

I’d be bereft of all my joys

When I take it off for church

I shock myself as I then search

Forgetting that my hands must be

Clear for that Gospel which is dear to me

But when I return and late that night

I polish my nails and make things right

I once again do feel complete

As I gaze upon my polish sweet.


Sorry, I had way too much fun here.  I took my black polish off before my shower and shocked myself when I later caught sight of my bare fingernails.  So I figured I’d have a laugh and type this down.  And don’t go thinking this was pre-planned, because for the most part it was whim and guesswork and I finished up with googling for rhyming words.  I’m never going into poetry because I stink at it.

Cheers!

Ana

Stars, Stripes, and Rainbows

I don’t believe there is anyone over the age of five that doesn’t know about the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.  It’s a matter that has been discussed heatedly all over the world for decades.

I doubt it will come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I do not — cannot — support this decision.  Let me explain.

I’m a Christian.  I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  As such, I’ve made a choice.  There are two options here: agree with the world or agree with God.  As a God-fearing woman, the first is out of the question for me.  Could I really say to God, “Hey, I’m going to ignore what You want in favor of what these people wish me to believe?”  I can’t.

At the same time, we are commanded to love others.  And I do.  I have many loved ones and sweet acquaintances who either are gay or support gay marriage.  Mind you, I have nothing against the feelings that belong to a homosexual.  It’s the action with which I disagree.  Just as having desire for a member of the opposite gender is fine unless it leads to lust, adultery, or premarital sex.  There are rights and wrongs, opposition in all things, and certain rules that we should and should not uphold.  I love those that disagree with me.  They’re also children of God and deserve respect and kindness.  But that love does not transcend into agreement and support of their actions, for the simple but profound reason that I love God more.

Something that frightens me about this issue is that those who oppose gay marriage are being persecuted and silenced.  That’s not what America is about.  I understand we all have equal rights and I don’t mind at all that those with differing opinions speak as they will.  What bothers and genuinely scares me is that anyone who disagrees with gay marriage, transgender topics, or things also related to this are so heavily rebuked for exercising the same rights those who support LGBT communities enjoy.  This is an opposition of ideals.  Both sides believe they are right.  So why are those of us who disagree with the ruling being so persecuted?  We are belittled into silence, feeling shamed by the public, even the government.  This is not fair.  In a country that touts equality and civil rights as the basis for our every action, how can the public justify fighting tooth and nail for their wishes while simultaneously crushing ours into the ground?  America was founded on the God-given rights of free speech and freedom of religion.  These are part of the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The Constitution is what this nation is founded upon.  In shaming us into silence, they are denying us the very rights upon which the United States of America is predicated.  If disallowing gay marriage is unconstitutional, then this definitely is.

I ask you to think of this objectively.  Christians and others who oppose gay marriage are (or at least should be) kind and caring to those who disagree with our beliefs.  Please support giving us the same courtesy.

Sincerely,

Ana