= meta name="p:domain_verify" content="a353414ea524b8f08134b2241b4a4785"/> writing & wanderlust

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

An Emotional Discourse on Partners + Female Presentation on CPD

    Despite the title, this post shall neither be formal nor purposeful. Simply put, I've picked up watching Chicago P.D. again this week and am having an outpouring of feelings on the television representation of law enforcement partners and channeled that into a few hundred words of scribbling.

    After that, I am superbly pleased with how Chicago P.D. treats the female members of their team and wrote about that as well. Both of these were scrawled for my Tumblr but were easy enough to transfer over here.

    All right, first batter up.

i’m here for partners who put all their crap on hold when their partner is in danger.

i’m here for partners who know when their partner just needs someone to stay with them and ward off the demons.

i’m here for partners who call out each other on their crap.

i’m here for partners who low-key support each other through a hard case.

i’m here for partners who gravitate towards each other, walk in step, draw strength off each other.

i’m here for partners who support their partner’s decisions even if they might not agree with them.

i’m here for partners who watch each other’s backs.

i’m here for partners who make sure their partner is okay after things go wrong.

i’m here for partners who want the best for their partner–even if it’s not with them.

i’m here for partners who low-key flirt with each other while their teammates pretend not to notice.

i’m here for partners who defend each other at all costs.

i’m here for partners who walk willingly into hell to pull the other out.

i’m here for partners who can rein in their partner when their temper runs hot.

i’m here for partners who manhandle each other to get them out of the line of fire.

i’m here for partners who challenge each other to be better.

i’m here for partners who don’t always need words to communicate efficiently.

i’m here for partners who sarcastically call their partner “my hero”.

i’m here for partners who need each other otherwise their world doesn’t make sense.

i’m here for partners who can make each other laugh.

i’m here for partners who disagree, argue, and fight.

i’m here for partners who never give up on each other.

i’m here for partners who are a+ examples of mirroring.

i’m here for partners who work together seamlessly.

i’m here for partners who break the rules (even the law) for their partner.

i’m here for partners who don’t have to be tough around each other.

i’m here for partners who grab each other up in a hug after a scare.

i’m here for partners who spot the other when they’re putting their sniper rifle skills to use.

i’m here for partners who can do good cop, bad cop interrogations.

i’m here for partners who have height differences.

i’m here for partners who hold hands and interlace their fingers.

i’m here for partners who tussle and bicker.

i’m here for partners who have seen the best and worst in each other and accept it all.

i’m here for partners who know when to sass and when to be serious.

i’m here for partners who make sure each other are okay.

i’m here for partners who know when their partner isn’t okay, even if they’ve fooled everybody else.

i’m here for partners who admit when they’ve missed each other.

i’m here for partners who can be absolute idiots around each other.

i’m here for partners who get territorial over each other when an outside party makes a move.

i’m here for partners who help each other grow as a person.

i’m here for partners who low key save each other’s lives a lot.

i’m here for partners who will always be there.

i am here for freaking p a r t n e r s.

    So random, I know, but bear with me. The next one makes more sense. Aside from curveball character names that will be confusing to non-watchers. 

    Suffice it to say: 
    Erin Lindsay, Kim Burgess = females. 
    Voight, Ruzek, Jay Halstead, Atwater, Roman = males.

You want to know one of the top reasons that Chicago PD is becoming one of my favorite shows?

(I’m going to botch this explanation, so bear with me.)

Correct presentation of a woman’s role in the police force. Definitely not 100% accurate, but a heck of a ton better than what I’d expect.

I am all for qualified women being police. But, truth is, women cannot fulfill every function that a man can. Just like a man cannot fulfill every function that a woman can. And a man’s functions are predominantly physical, something that Chicago PD does very well presenting.

House needs to be breached? Halstead, front and center with the big guns to blow the lock or hinges out. Ruzek, hauling in the handheld ram to break down the door. Atwater toting the backpack with the big guns.

Voight, Halstead, and Roman went into the potentially rigged house and Voight ordered Lindsay to stay back.

Burgess can do the initial take down but ends up needing her male counterpart to throw the suspect down and keep him down while the cuffs are slapped on.

Lindsay gets into a fistfight and gets thrown around like she weighs comparatively nothing because she doesn’t.

I love that Lindsay and Burgess can be there every step of the way, hunting down suspects, adding to the firestorm of bullets, clearing a house, but don’t have to be the first ones to go in for the sake of that overblown argument that women can do everything that men can because there’s no differences, equal opportunities, all of that.

That’s simply not true. It is biologically true that, on average, men are stronger than women. Simple fact.

And I love that Chicago PD respects that in this show. I respect Erin Lindsay and Kim Burgess more because they need back-up to take down a suspect, or stay back and let the men go into the house first. Honestly. Double respect points than if Lindsay were to stomp to the front of the line and plant her foot on the door or handle the .12 gage to blow out the locks.

Have you ever tried firing a shotgun? I haven’t. My mom has. It’s got serious recoil that, yes, you can train to compensate for but points for just having Jay or Ruzek use the shotgun.

It doesn’t mean that Lindsay never totes a big gun–she does, a lot. And I love it. Guns are awesome, firing them even more so. But she doesn’t have to be the first one through the door to prove that she can handle herself. And I respect that so, so much.

Erin Lindsay and Kim Burgess are strong, so strong, but at the same time, the show respects the inherent, biological disadvantages that being a woman comes with when placed in a profession like law enforcement.

This isn’t going to be a popular opinion and I honestly don’t care. I am beyond pleased with Chicago PD, for all its other shortcomings. Disagree if you’re so inclined. I’m going to sit in my corner and be happy.

    And that's all for the time being. Life got a bit busier this week so my energy levels have been suffering.

    I hope you all had a good New Year and are getting back into the swing of life without too much difficulty.


    Ad astra per aspera.
    To the stars, through difficulties.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas! + Writing

    Two posts in one month! Quick, look out your window, is the world coming to an end?

    Business first: I hope you are all having an absolutely amazing Christmas season. Whether it be with your family and the traditions you grew up with or with a new family or even just important friends, let this be a holiday of bonding, gratitude, and laughter.

    Life races ahead of us without scarce allowing us to breathe and it's easy to forget that the years that race by are also years of living and breathing that are slipping away. You get older, your parents get older, your grandparents get older. Appreciate the people important to you this Christmas. Take that time to sit and talk, to fill your grandparents in on your goals, hug your mom and remind her that you'll always be her kid, stay up late laughing with that friend who means everything. 

    Jesus is the reason for the season. The season is about sacrifice that's more recognized as giving now. Give the gifts, but give the emotional commitment as well this year. 

    I'm leaving home and flying the nest in three months. It's a freeing and yet drowning weight, one that flutters in my chest during the day and churns in my stomach at night. Every occasion that we pass--Thanksgiving, my twentieth birthday, Christmas--I am reminded that I don't know where I'll be next year. 

    So I'm giving these holidays as much as I have to offer. Sitting and working through my plans with my extended family. Listening to my mom when she wants me to take someone with me to do errands, even if I'll on my own soon anyways. Sometimes, the greatest gift you can offer is a willing spirit and opens arms.

    Merry Christmas, guys. Truly. Hopefully you have snow on the ground outside, or some favorite Christmas music blasting right now. (And have a joyous New Year's!)

    Now, onto the writing portion of this post.

    I've got two things to post--the Jade drabble will be first. We were in the car for three+ hours this afternoon and inspiration struck like lightening for a musing deviant!Jade scrawl. It came out of nowhere, so there's your reasoning for how irregular it is.

    The second I decided to try and do a couple of days ago, and we'll see if I can push through and finish before too long. Basically, I watched a romcom Christmas movie called A Princess for Christmas (it is as bad as it sounds, despite some familiar acting faces) and decided there needed to be a Jandy and Dechlan AU for it. Hopefully, my take on the sad plot is a bit better. 

    I found twenty-five, Christmas themed prompts and have written four of them, plus an intro. Also, the writing ability is a tad rusty and they might suck. Just as a warning.

    In a clinical, intimate way, Jaydn is aware that she could burn down the galaxy with her bare hands, if she put her mind to it. It would be easy—start at the top and topple everything on her way down.
    Wars are easy to start—far easier than ending them, to say the least. (She knows, she’s done both before.)
    Sometimes, she thinks about it, when it late and dark and there’s blood dripping from her fingertips onto her soul. It’s impossible to not know what her parents have tamed, have harnessed and set loose upon those who truly deserve the battering storm within her.
    They do not know that it takes willpower to walk away from every ground level informant, to not kill them and leave their torn corpse on the ground behind her as she rips apart the organization they comply with one confederate at a time. 
    Yes, Jade wants very much, sometimes. To let the black tide swell and break in her breast and set the incendiary that ends everything. There is the ability in her hands to shoot governments between the eyes and make syndicates fall on their own swords and the knowledge causes her being tremble—with fear, with excitement, it’s hard to say.
    But the turbulent ocean within is dammed, held back with an iron hand by what she has been raised and taught by. The sure fingers and calloused palms that could rain down terror and destruction at will have been pressed against the cheeks of her mother, held by the rough hands of her father. Jaydn looks down at the supernova contained by flesh and bone and sees the tears they have wiped away from the cheeks of their merriment incarnate, the anger they have staid and the recklessness they have quelled. Her makers have built a guardian, protector, defender, instead of stirring the roiling chaos. 
    Jade knows to be grateful. That is the response, when disaster is averted.
    But oh, how she longs to be destruction. To break through the stays and blaze a path through the stars that will be spoken of for a millennia. The thought alone is heady, seductive, the most powerful philter she’s ever experienced. The desire to cut her ties, to sever her links to sentiment and attachment and weakness, is overpowering. The universe is at her fingertips, she just has to take it.
    Jaydn wants, very much. But she quells with the same might that would bring down the heavens and force them to their knees before her. She channels the impulse into their cause, into a glance that makes men falter with foreboding, into the slow breaths she takes before the trigger depresses beneath her touch. Her facade of overprotective becomes her cover and yet is not a show in the least.

    If there would ever be a reason to become the arsonist history would never know and never forget, it would be for the humans who have shaped her world and give her a purpose. Jade knows, subconsciously and on every waking level, that her making will be her breaking. The provocation to coax the phoenix to eruption would be rooted in the five mortals that have caged her demons. 

    Again, don't ask me. The inspiration bowled me over like a speeding train and then sped away before I could tag along to get some work done on the Jandy/Dech prompts. Yay.

    Onto the fun stuff!

    Mild Warning for brief crass wording. For lack of a better explanation. Jandy wanted to cuss everybody out, but we kept it PG. 

(prompts from tumblr blog, the-girlwhowouldbeking, and the plot might be from a Christmas-themed romance called A Princess for Christmas.)

    So, this is how the story goes. On her twenty-fifth birthday—well, our twenty-fifth birthday—Jane Miriam Sparks married one (disowned) Charles Yates Scott of Manchester, England, and they were as happy as two beings could be together. I would know; I lived nearby for the first six months of their marriage before Jane told me to live the life I’d never had because of her.
    It was little over a year later that I came back when their daughter, Adeline Ella was born, with breathtaking brown eyes and the softest wisps of hair. Jane cried, Charles cried, and I laughed a lot. Life has held a lot of things for me, but being an aunt was one I never imagined. 
    I’d been traveling for my job when I got a call that ended everything.
    As if one near-fatal incident with a car wasn’t enough for my baby sister, she and Charles were both killed in a head-on collision three days before Christmas.
    It took social services another month to track me down and when they did—there’s no thinking at that point, you know?
    She’s my niece and she had nobody else but me. I dropped everything and went to find her.
    You want to know what really steams me? Charles’ family got called before me, because apparently if you’ve got a family of somebodies who disowned their son offhand, they’re the ones to contact first before the nobody sister. 
    Here’s the real kicker: they did nothing. I talked to the hospital staff, social services, the foster family who had Adeline and the most contact any of them received from across the pond was one fax and a phone call. 
    The call said the fax was coming and the fax was paperwork relinquishing any rights to their parentless granddaughter.
    Pissed off doesn’t quite cover it. 
    Though I admit relief to not have to fight any custody battles. Jandy Sparks off the streets of NYC doesn’t quite hold the same shine as English monarchy. 
   Adeline has been mine for almost a year of all-nighters, fevers, and soiled diapers and last week this suit who introduced himself as Thomas—just Thomas, mind you; first name, last name, help me out here—told me that the Scott family wants Adeline and I to come out for Christmas.
    Out to England. Me. With an infant who’s still sensitive to loud noises and unfamiliar places.
    That’s rich.
    But I’m a sleep-deprived, pseudo-mom that’s also an idiot and I said yes after a day of stewing. 
    When it comes down to it, how many chances are going to roll around to find out about Adeline’s father and his roots? I want to be able to tell her about the man who loved her mother enough that he left a fairytale behind for her.
    My main stipulation, of course, was room, board, and airfare. Look up the costs of traveling halfway around the world to England. At peak holiday season, no less.
    Thomas arranged everything for us and then left a few days in advance to “prepare for our arrival”. I packed two suitcases, an umbrella stroller, and the fullest military-grade backpack known to mankind, and got on a plane to the United Kingdom with a baby in a carrier.


    Gritty eyes, an aching head, and a bent-out-of-shape neck were doing nothing for Jandy’s mood. Adeline had done very little but fuss for the majority of their four connecting flights spanning almost an entire day of travel. 
    Jandy stood on the airport sidewalk in somewhere called Manchester, breathing in the crisp air, her niece bundled up well in her carseat—finally out for the count. The indoors had gotten too stifling so she’d undergone the exhausting process of moving them outside, hoping help would arrive soon.
    Christmas decor had been liberally applied to the towering structure, with red bows and evergreen garlands, and high, high above the hub of activity inside, little pieces of mistletoe tacked onto the streamlined arches.
    Jandy had had more than enough time to study each and every one of them while waiting for anyone to show up and rescue them. It had also given her ample opportunity to question, once again, why she was even here.
    The answer was inescapable—for Adeline.
    For Adeline, and for what might very well be her only chance to know the world of the father she’d never know.
    Everything Jandy did was for her niece now, much like once her every waking moment had been committed to Jane.
    Letting out a long breath, Jandy crouched down to peek beneath the blanket pulled over the baby’s face. Aside from a pink nose from the warmth of her little cocoon, the baby slumbered on, lost to the world.
    There must’ve been a miscommunication about their arrival—hadn’t that Thomas fellow said someone would be waiting to drive them the two remaining hours to the manor where Charles had been raised?
    Jandy stifled a groan but didn’t want to let it out, considering the bustle of people also on the sidewalk and a lack of desire to be seen as the whacked out Yank. More than she already was, in her bold blue Short But Dangerous t-shirt and the undercut style to her hair that she was loathe to grow out, even with her new identity as mother first, kickboxing trainer second. 
    Kneading at the crick in her neck, Jandy resigned herself to her fate and looked up when a man said, “You have my most sincere apologies, Miss Sparks, for the delay.”

2—Hot Chocolate

    “Would you like any particular beverages, Miss Sparks? I can have Anne bring it up to your room. Tea? Mulled wine? Perhaps some hot chocolate?” Thomas asked as he escorted Jandy up the icy front steps of the frosted manor, one hand at her elbow.
    Misbalanced as she was while toting Adeline about, the trainer was thankful for the support. Two plus hours in a car was doing nothing for her right now. “Just a couple bottles of water and if you have some milk on hand we can warm up, I’d like to get some of that into Adeline before we crash out.”
    Anything further she might’ve had to say was wiped away when they moved through the mud room into the entryway—if it could be called that. The ceiling was high, the wooden floorboards gleaming, and the columns along the walls of unblemished marble. She’d never watched Downton Abbey but this felt like walking right onto the set. 
    Decorations—garlands, bows, wreaths, poinsettias—were placed at regular, unerring intervals, adding a Christmas mood on a whole new level. Jandy's thoughts went back to her two-room apartment and the sparing, homemade evidence of the season there.
    Trust the Scott family to make her feel inadequate from the get go, she mused, too drained to get worked up about it. 
    Jandy eased Adeline’s carrier to the floor, dark gaze flickering from paintings to doors and then to Thomas, who stood by with a patient smile. His suit was still perfectly crisp despite the long return trip to Dunham Manor. 
    “The manor and grounds have belonged to the Scott family for many generations. It may look aged on the surface, but it receives regular refurbishments and upgrades, have no fear. You will find everything is quite modern.” The butler explained, gesturing to the long hall ahead of them in invitation.
    With her suitcases already being toted to unknown regions of the house, Jandy picked up the carseat again and offered a brief smile. “Good to know. Do I need to worry about looking like a slob for a welcoming committee?”
    “No, ma’am. Mr. and Mrs. Scott have retired already and the rest of the family will not arrive for two days yet.” 
    Thomas led the way across the waxed floors and Jandy finally decided to just explore tomorrow, focusing on the black suit coat ahead of her with a single-minded focus. She still had duties to attend tonight and then both she and Adeline needed a full night of sleep.
    Their path wound through hallways straight out of Pride & Prejudice—one of Jane’s favorite movies—and up narrow staircases that made her thankful for the long years of training that had honed her body. Adeline was no longer six months old and the weight difference was noteworthy.
    Stopping beside a set of deep mahogany doors, the butler pushed them open to reveal a tasteful, well-furnished room, complete with a pack-and-play in the corner, as per Jandy’s own wishes. The color scheme was a soothing mesh of beige and cream, heavy tan curtains pulled across two tall windows, no light peeking around the edges. 
    Her two stuffed suitcases were already settled on luggage stands, the backpack between them. 
    Jandy was relieved on several levels. No matter how bad this holiday might get, this would be a good place to retreat and sequester when needed.
    Thomas turned to her and Jandy gave him her attention. “If you don’t mind, I’ll leave you here and go find Anne. She’ll bring up your refreshments and help you with any needs you might have. The bathroom is attached and we’ve stocked the room with a variety of supplies we thought might be necessary for Miss Adeline.”
    “That sounds perfect, thank you, Thomas. I’m sure I’ll appreciate it all a lot more with a few hours of sleep under my belt.” Mild humor lightened her exhaustion and the retainer responded to it, amusement appearing on his serene features.
    “It’s our pleasure, Miss Sparks. We’re grateful that you chose to come so far at a considerable personal cost and will strive to make your stay here at Dunham Manor a pleasant one.” The lilt of his accent lent the words a certain warmth that might’ve been lacking otherwise. 
    There was no point fighting the fondness already manifesting so Jandy let a laugh escape her chest. “You’re awesome, Thomas. I’ll see you in the morning?”
    The colloquialism stymied him for a moment but the man recovered in an admirable amount of time. “Yes, Miss. Sleep well. Anne will be up to attend you shortly.”


    The beeping had been sounding for several minutes now. Jandy had been ignoring it in favor of that heaven known as sleep but now Adeline was beginning to make grumbling noises.
    Time to rise and conquer, then.
    Flopping onto her back, the woman reached to stab at her phone—now just a glorified mp3 player, with international call rates being what they were—and then stare at the ceiling.
    We’re in England. In Charles’ family home. To spend Christmas with his family. 
    The impossibility of the whole situation was still surreal. Jandy sat up and raked her fingers through her loose hair, tugging on the ends. Jet lag was going to be a real problem; schedule changes never went over well, especially in the last year.
    Adeline cooed from her pack-and-play, tucked into the closet. Well, someone was a happy camper.
    Rolling out of bed, the trainer padded across the thick rug to the window and pushed open the curtains to reveal paned-windows, frosty at the corners. The temperature must’ve dropped even further after they arrived last night, which wasn’t much of a surprise, with the way the wind had howled.
    Jandy pressed her forehead to the glass, wondering if they had any decent trails around to run on. She’d packed all her exercise gear, knowing the need to get out and burn off energy would be needed every couple of days.
    Snow blanketed the country side in a heavy blanket, untouched except for the shoveled road they’d arrived on. The trees were sparse past the immediate house grounds, but there were a couple other houses—estates?—on the horizon.
    “Maaaaa-maaaaa,” Adeline drew out and then squealed, sounding quite alert and in a good humor—which would change when she decided she was hungry, but Jandy took what she could get.
    A grin pulled at the corner of her mouth as she left the window and crossed to the closet, peeking in the crack before easing it open. “Good morning, my sunshine,” she greeted, delight spilling over at the picture that the baby made.
    Adeline stood at the edge of her crib, her wide smile revealing the baby teeth they’d both suffered over. She waved her arms, a plea to be rescued, while she giggled with elation. “Up!”
    “What do we say, Adeline?”
    “Good girl,” Jandy praised, swinging her up and out of the bed, nuzzling into her soft cheek. “Hello, my love.”
    The baby babbled and cooed, chubby arms flailing before wrapping around Jandy’s neck. Adeline buried her face in her guardian’s shoulder with another bubbly laugh.
    Swaying with every step, an unbreakable habit from long nights with a fussy infant, Jandy carried them both back out into the bedroom, where Adeline looked around, eyes bright with interest. A quick visual search confirmed there wasn’t anything at hand level to the eighteen-month-old to worry about so she set the baby down on her feet.
    “Shall we get dressed and find breakfast, Dell?”

4—Candy Canes

    Walter Scott, patriarch of the Scott family, eyed the small wreath hanging on the wall with distaste. It was an imitation—Marianne’s allergies included evergreen—but the colors were unavoidable. Bright imitation berries were mingled with miniature candy canes and warm lights, the entire piece finished off with a vivid red bow.
    Roland’s voice broke him from his thoughts and Walter turned to the retainer, pushing aside his irritation with the season. “Yes?”
    “Mrs. Scott is awaiting your presence in the breakfast room and Thomas would like to know if Miss Sparks will be joining you for the meal.” The manservant reported without missing a beat, any feelings he might have on the situation hidden with care behind a serene front.
    Walter weighed his options for a brief moment. He had a certain ambiguity to the presence of his only grandchild, unable to decide his feeling until he actually saw her, but he knew Mari would want to see the child. “Inform Thomas to send Anne up for Miss Sparks and—my granddaughter. I’ll join my wife in the meantime.”
    “Very well, sir.” Roland offered a brief bow and departed, disappearing into the depths of the substantial manor.


    Jandy hadn’t expected the small, cherubic maid to tell them the morning meal would be served in the breakfast room. She sat, frozen, in the middle of brushing a squirming Adeline’s hair into two ponytails, while Anne smiled, the expression genuine.
    “Shall I inform them you’ll be done with Miss Adeline shortly, ma’am?”
    The inquiry kicked her brain back into gear and Jandy finished putting a rubber band into her niece’s fine hair. Adeline got to her feet with a couple of grunts and hurried off to where her pile of toys was waiting. Snorting her initial amusement, the trainer stood and faced Anne.
    “Yes, please. Should I change into something more—formal?” Jandy hesitated, beginning to gesture to her jeans and her navy sweater that was nice but not formal, per say.
    The maid shook her head almost before the question was out. “No, ma’am. You’ll be perfectly fitting in whatever you have. Miss Elinor tends to wear what she pleases when at Dunham Manor and you’re welcome to do the same.”
    Not an amazing comfort, but Jandy would take it. Offering a smile in return, she replied, “Sounds good. We just need to put on some shoes and then would be grateful for a guide.”
    “It would be my pleasure, Miss!” Anne was almost as bubbly as a happy Adeline.

    “Miss Sparks and Miss Adeline, sir,” Thomas announced when Anne stepped to the side of the door, allowing Jandy a view of a rather formal, in her opinion, breakfast table, and its two occupants.
    Charles’ father had a severe face, no doubt from his time in the Royal Navy and current role in England’s political fields. His steady gaze was assessing but gave nothing else away. Jandy got the feeling that she wouldn’t know what he thought of them unless Walter wanted her to.
    It was easier to see her sister’s husband in his mother—there was warmth buried deep in the creases around her mouth and eyes. But she was similarly ambiguous to their arrival.
    Adeline struggled to get out of her grasp and Jandy’s attention was diverted. A glance down at the baby revealed a creased brow and a pout at her failing escape attempts. Meltdown imminent, then. 
    “Sorry for our tardiness. Adeline’s not a fan of shoes,” Jandy greeted, tone light but careful. The progression of this conversation would set the tone of the next two weeks and she was hyperaware of that fact.
    “That’s quite alright,” Marianne Scott lilted, rising a beat and leaving the table to approach the duo with an air of politeness that didn’t set well with Jandy. “This is her, then?”
    The situation was surreal—introducing a grandmother to her first grandchild as if it were no more than a business negotiation. A certain amount of regret that the relationship was at this level weighed in her chest, but it was mingled with smoldering anger. They were the ones who’d cut ties because they didn’t agree with Charles marrying an American with nothing to her name but an associate’s degree.
    Missing the first year and a half of Adeline’s life was on them, not on her.
    Tightening her jaw, Jandy fixed a smile on her mouth. “Yes. This is Adeline. Adeline, can you say hello to Mrs. Scott?”
    Marianne’s blue eyes flickered from her granddaughter, who clung to Jandelyn’s leg and hid in her pant, to the child’s guardian. Jandy stared back, unmoved. Your play, Grandma.
    The older woman relented after a beat, sorrow ghosting through her eyes as she eased down to Adeline’s level. “It would be—my honor if she would know me as grandmother, Miss Sparks.”
    Triumph flared for a brief moment, unavoidable. Jandy might’ve spent too much time in fights—both of the aggressive and professional variety—but they’d taught her valuable lessons. Put up a strong front and your opponent will think twice about attacking you head on.
    Crouching down as well, Jandy patted Adeline’s back when she tried to press close, ducking her face away. “Come on, Dell, your grandma wants to say hi. Can you wave?” Her powers of persuasion weren’t usually up to snuff but Adeline was feeling obedient.
    She didn’t quite make eye contact, but she peeked out from Jandy’s shoulder to the stranger smiling at her, one chubby hand uncurling in a flapping motion before she hid again. 
    As the only witness to the quiet moment, Jandy was surprised at the tears that filled Marianne’s eyes before she hurried to blink them away. Taking pity, she scooped up Adeline and stood, finding where Thomas had pulled a chair out.
     Walter hadn’t moved from his position. Casting him a brief look, Jandy took her seat and deposited Adeline on her lap, almost immediately having to grab chubby hands that lunged for the chinaware on the table.

    And that's all for now! I'm hoping to do some plinking tonight while watching Persuasion, so there could be a second post yet tonight.

    You guys are awesome. Keep it up.

    Ad astra per aspera.
    To the stars, through difficulties.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Roaring Twenties

    It's been another year, friends. 365 days since "십구세" and now I'm onto a new year and a new decade.

    As it so happens, this week I watched a show called Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (fabulous, but very liberal and has some content issues) and it's set in 1920's Melbourne, Australia. The irony of it did not escape me today, and now it feels fitting.

    I'm going into my roaring twenties today. No longer a teenager, almost a fully liberated adult. It's been a long year, but a growing year.

   Last birthday was spent in South Carolina, shortly after the devastating blow of having Japan snatched out of reach, but it was also the first step of the rest of my life. I worked for the summer in a gift shop, and learned how to look people in the eye.

    Then I walked (disclaimer: it was not so straightforward in reality) into the Air Force recruiter and signed on the dotted line. A few thousand times. That's beside the point. I don't have a job assignment, nor a report date to basic training, but change is in the air and it feels incredible.

    Change was the theme of this last year. Changing. Growing. Breaking down and rebuilding. Again, and again, and again. Getting crushed and gluing the pieces together. Being forced to think about what I want in my life right now, what's important to me, and what is going to wait. 

    It feels as though all my generation is in a relationship, engaged, or married. The struggle to come to terms with that is difficult to relay, to say the least, but my peace comes from knowing that isn't for me right now. 

    Although, I must be honest. Right now, not having a dog is the heavier grief. We've been without a dog (after having dogs all my remembered years) since June and the quiet without one has been utterly jarring. German Shepherd first, then a dude. That's the current pecking order.

    And because I cannot go through some transformative life event without this portion, onto the music.

    Tracks that got me through this year:
    1. Fight Song, Rachel Platten
    2. Brother, NEEDTOBREATHE
    3. My Everything, Owl City
    4. Better When I'm Dancin', Meghan Trainor
    5. Good Life, OneRepublic cover by Alex Goot and Megan Nicole
    7. Holy Spirit, Francesca Battistelli

    There's more (there's always room for more music) but those are the important ones for the time being.

    There've been new books--anything Dee Henderson, The Lunar Chronicles, The Raven Cycle, breathtaking poetry, and The Host (which isn't new, but still my safe place).

   Some amazing movies--The Martian, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Cinderella (2015), Mockingjay Pt. 2, and Big Hero 6.

    And so many amazing new memories that it's impossible to recount them all. Another roadtrip, another couple of moves, a summer of meeting people from around the world, reaching new horizons, growing to be more than I was.

    I'm looking forward to doing it again, to seeing what this new year of life will hold.

    Here's to hoping it's a good one.

    Ad astra per aspera.
    To the stars, through difficulties. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Writing: Jaz + Fairytale AU

   This month went by in a blink, and next month is three times as busy, so it'll go by even faster, no doubt. My 20th birthday, a wedding, two separate trips out to Illinois, Christmas with our grandparents.

    Rest? Who needs rest?

    As the title might suggest, I put Jasmine in a dress. We saw Cinderella for the first time a few months ago and the rest was 3,419 words, as they say. 

    Jaz held her breath as she ducked her head to hide her face and slipped inside the palace with the rest of the attending footmen. The ball would continue for several hours and the hundreds of staff waiting for their lords and ladies would be left to fend for themselves in the meantime.
    The fear of being discovered was real. She was a woman in man’s clothing, in a place where she shouldn’t have been, with a plan that could have her thrown in prison. 
    Not that it mattered. Not of it mattered, in that moment. Bright eyes flicked to and fro as she eased through the edges of the crowd to the nearest exit. 
    This was her last chance. Last chance at getting away from the Windsor’s, from her beginnings, last chance to see him again. She’d said that day that she would never let some over-inflated fool with a wand dictate her future.
    She’d never been more wrong.
    The bindings around her chest to help her fit in were constraining, cutting off the lungful of air she tried to draw in. Her palms were sweating as she escaped the din and chatter of the footmen and into a connecting passageway. It wasn’t hard to tell where to go; the strains of the music reached even down here, in the depths of the royal residence.
    Urgency burned in her. Jaz glanced over her shoulder then moved forward with purpose. She’d pulled enough scams in her youth to know the best way to blend in was to make sure no one had reason to question your presence.
    With hundreds of well-to-do guests requiring food, drink, and entertainment, the palace’s staff would be running around like headless chickens to fulfill all the needs. She would be invisible as long as she didn’t stand out.
    Jaz reached up to make sure there were no auburn strands of hair escaping the tricorne hat that had been pulled over her hair. Adele had stabbed more pins than she’d thought possible into her hair to keep the unruly waves in check. 
    The woman stopped at a crossroads of halls as a passel of servants hurried past, laden with beverages and victuals. No one even glanced her way.
    Waiting until they were a safe distance away, Jasmine continued after them at a steady clip, stride long and shoulders back. On the outside, she would be just another of the household staff attending to an errand as long as no one looked too close.
    (Adele had made a point of pounding it into her head that if anyone decided to actually take in her face, “those long lashes and soft lips will give you away faster than if you’d paraded around in a dress.”)
    Inside, she trembled. It reached her fingertips and undermined her confidence. The fact that this moment would make or break her wasn’t of consequence anymore.
    The more steps she took behind her, the more she wanted to turn back. This pull, once caused by that magical bind, now propelled only by herself—please, I want to see him again—terrified her. 
    Sure, she’d been interested in guys before, done her share of flirting and offering coy smiles, but this was so different. She could—would—shatter over this, something that hadn’t happened since her father left her waiting in their ramshackle home.
    Jasmine kept moving as traffic began to pick up.
    Some people gave her a distracted look, but when she didn’t look back, continued on her path with single-minded determination, they didn’t pursue the curiosity.
    The long slacks Adele had acquired for her ruse were strange to wear now, after so long in dresses befitting of her age and position. Dresses, constraining corsets, pantaloons, slippers… 
    She almost missed them. If she was able to reach him tonight, she would be a social nightmare, dressed as a man.
    The palace was more sprawling than she’d been able to comprehend. Herds of servants became a trail that led her up countless stairs, around numerous corners, and through innumerable hallways, the signs of wealth growing with every floor they rose. 
    Soon, jade eyes blinked at golden candelabras that watched over well-tended wood floors and side tables of rich color and complex engravings. The dirt on her boots from the courtyard felt impudent by comparison. 
    The orchestra that presided over the festivities grew ever louder, the sweet strings and notable brass coming together in a harmony unlike one she’d ever heard. 
    Only the best in the land for his highness, after all…

    Years of living on the streets and fending for herself lent themselves to Jasmine as she threaded her way through the fringes of the crowd. A dance was taking up the entirety of the ballroom floor and much of the attention of those not joining in, with swinging skirts and clapping hands joining the vivid ambiance.
    She paused in a small nook between a statue of someone’s forebear and an ornate pillar to catch her breath and watch the proceedings. 
     Thus far, she hadn’t spotted him. The royal box housing his uncle and a couple of his cousins had been easy to locate, but it’d only taken a moment of studying to know he wasn’t there. Zahn and Matthias, although alike in appearance to him, were cunning where he was straightforward, scheming where he was honest.
    It showed in their postures and their movements, marked them even from a distance as not who she searched for.
    That thrice cursed bind had dragged her by the ear to his very feet last time she’d been in the palace with the Windsor’s. Now, it abandoned her. Jaz’s fingers curled into fists, short nails digging into her palms. 
    She hated magic more than she had words to express. 
    Two laughing women passed in front of her hideaway, dresses long and full, the colors vibrant. She wished to be allowed to command the room as they did, to belong. To be worthy.
    But she wasn’t and never would be.
    It didn’t take a brilliant mind to know it and hers was sharper than most. 
    Taking a breath, building her resolve again, Jasmine stepped out and continued to traverse the room. Her gaze swept every face, focusing in on every dark head of hair she passed.
    Ten minutes turned into half an hour. Hope turned to bleak despair.
    He wasn’t here. 
    She went around the expansive room three times, risking exposure to drift further towards the epicenter, never lingering too long, but coming up empty all the same.
    Jaz had to bump a waiter and endanger his load to divert the attention of a young lord who eyed her with more attention than she wanted. Her distraction worked but the close shave reminded her that discovery would be easy for anyone with keen focus.
    Bowing out of the way of an older couple headed towards the nearest table of champagne flutes, Jaz found an exit from the press of people and slipped out the unassuming door into a well-lit, but empty corridor.
    She sank to the floor, back against the paneling, and pushed the hat and white-haired wig off her head. The cloth tied around her forehead, keeping her natural hair in check, was damp with sweat. 
    Moisture burned in her eyes that she blinked away, drawing in a shuddering breath that was nowhere near as full as she wanted it.
    Her fingers shook as she undid the cloth and started working pins from her hair. It didn’t make sense. None of it made sense. She’d seen the king, had seen Matthias and Zahn, the beautiful Annalise Vaughn who was rumored to be the bride of whichever nephew the king chose as his successor.
    But he wasn’t here. No whisper of his presence, only the lingering question on the lips of many a young woman about the missing Mason.
    Jaz curled in on herself, pressing her forehead into her knees. There was nothing left to do. Her every hope had rested on him being here tonight, where she could find him before he was removed from reach altogether.
    The announcement would be made in the morning of the king’s choice, the new heir’s fate sealed to the throne and a wife. There was not time between now and the wee hours of the morning when the party would disperse for her to search the sprawling palace for him, not being a foreigner to its winding halls. 

    Jasmine resisted the vice-like grip on her arm as the guard dragging her through the halls. Her auburn hair fell down in waves around her shoulders, telling any within sight of her deception. 
    “Get your hands off me!” She snarled, grief fueling her anger as she lashed out at the man. 
    The eyes turned on her at her words were hard, unmoved at her attempts to dislodge him. Her fingers dug into his thick doublet and made no impact on him. Jaz felt her breath catch in her throat, becoming aware of the vulnerability of her situation in a rush.
    “Listen and listen well, wench,” he ground out at last, dragging her nearer by the hold on her upper arm, his other gauntleted hand resting on the hilt of his longsword. His breath smelled stale. “You have entered the royal palace without invitation, in the appearance of a man, and refuse to explain yourself to me beyond more lies. And now you order me to unhand you?”
    The air felt too thin. Jasmine tried again to jerk away to no avail, desperation strangling her. Everything he said was true, but what was she supposed to tell him? That she was searching out one of the potential heirs to the throne to see if he would take her, despite her station and roots? 
    No. No, he would never believe that. 
    His gaze narrowed at her silence, then nodded once, as if his suspicions had been confirmed. He started walking again, dragging Jaz along in his trail as if she were no more than a wayward child.
    “Where are you taking me?” She bit out, voice tight and with lingering anger. Better anger than fear. Anger kept you alive and gave you a fighting chance, whereas fear just crippled. Jaz knew that better than most. 
    Strong fingers tightened around her arm, cutting off circulation to the rest of her limb even further. There would be bruises to explain, if she walked away from this. 
    No answer was forthcoming.
    They were going a way she wasn’t familiar with—not that such a route would be difficult to contrive, but they were also descending. The staircase, even at the back of the palace, was wide, spiraling down and made of polished mahogany.
     Jasmine had to hurry to keep from being dragged. The guard made no allowances for her shorter stature and moved with what she assumed was his normal pace.
    Her jade gaze drifted down to where the stairs ended in another corridor, this one lined with windows overlooking the sprawling gardens that were one of the palace’s many awe-inspiring features. And then stopped on a figure who looked to have been passing by, only to have stopped at the noise of their descent.
    Jaz tripped and would have fallen down the remainder of the steps if not for the painful hold the guard had on her arm. Her saving grace was that they were still hidden in shadow by the unlit stairwell. 
    He turned to snarl at her, having failed to spot what she had. “If I have to tell you to walk one more time, wench!”
    Jasmine refused to cringe, not this time—she’d taken a heavy-handed blow from the guard earlier and would not flinch in the face of another.
    “Captain.” His modulated voice cut in and the underlying command in it couldn’t be ignored.
    She wanted to run. This wasn’t how this was supposed to happen, with tears in her eyes and a bruise forming on her jaw, appearance disheveled, but when her captor’s attention turned to the man waiting for them, hers went with it.
    The silver embroidery on Renner’s formal jacket glimmered in the candlelight, his dark eyes unreadable. There was a sheathed ceremonial blade balanced in his hand. 
    Jasmine still remembered what it felt like to have those hands lingering on her arms, keeping her near.
    Finally catching up with who opposed him, the guard, retaining his grasp of her, executed a hasty bow. “Milord. I apologize for disturbing you.”
    “What are you doing, Captain?” Again, that tone that insisted on an answer, but with the subtlety of one in control of the situation, even if he was the only one who knew it. 
    “Escorting an intruder to the prison, milord. It’s nothing to fear, just a wench who wanted a little too badly to be part of the proceedings upstairs.” The abrupt change in character from threatening to easy confidence was not altogether surprising.
    Jaz felt her mind stopping and restarting, trailing after tangents, then pausing to consider the tingling that was spreading from her fingertips, and not because of the numbness of the guard’s grip. He was here. He was here.
    He hadn’t seen her yet, right? Surely he would say something, respond somehow. Please, don’t let this just be me.
    But his name caught in her throat, got stuck on her tongue as fear won out despite her best efforts. She wouldn’t survive seeing the rejection, or worse, the lack of recognition, on his face.
    There was no choice, in the end, of escaping without that final, shattering moment of confrontation.
    Not when the pain in her arm was getting unbearable and Renner bade the guard, “Bring her here.”
    Her socked feet, boots left behind in the corridor with other components of her disguise, slid off the steps as she stumbled to keep up as her captor hurried to follow his lord’s command.
    Jasmine knew that the candlelight would catch on every thick wave of her loose hair, illuminate her profile, bare her to him where the shadows had sheltered. Her gaze dropped to the ground as they reached the passageway, becoming level with the heir. Before any reaction could be had, the guard clamped a heavy hand down on her head to force her into a bow.
    “Forgive me, milord,” she whispered, squeezing jade green eyes shut. “I was—searching for someone dear. I meant no disrespect.”
    “Quiet, wench—“ the captain’s fingers dug into her scalp, yanking at her hair and it was impossible not to yelp even as she tried to dislodge him.
    Tears pricked again—when had she gotten so weepy?—as Jaz gritted her teeth and prepared to throw herself towards the man and catch him off guard.
    Instead, Renner’s order came like a blade formed from ice, frigid and forbidding, even as his boots sounded on the stone floors, drawing nearer. “Release her now, captain, and return to your post.”
    Both Jasmine and the guard stilled. Confusion and hope pounded at the back of her consciousness.
    She wasn’t expecting the over-powered shove that her captor gave her during the release part of Ren’s order, and she lost her balance, toppling to the side, head bouncing off the wall before she went down.
    The guard’s beginning explanation bounced in her ears, disjointed and far off. Vision swimming and with pricking pain on one side of her body and white hot pain on the other, Jasmine almost missed the lashing order as she gasped for breath against her chest bindings. 
    “Go, now. Your commander will be spoken to. Do not let me see your face again.” An abrupt end to the man’s military career was promised within the sharp commands.
    “Yes, milord.” The stiff note to his tone would’ve been funny if not for the way her body burned because of him. Heavy footsteps retreated and everything was still for an aching moment.
    She flinched when there was a clatter nearby; Renner’s sword being cast side. A cool hand brushed her cheek, pushing her hair aside and sliding behind her neck. It was impossible to say if the tremor to his touch was from her or was his own. 
    “Have you broken anything?” His voice was a low murmur, scarce more than a breath. The same yearning and agony that had swirled in her for weeks now was in those hoarse words.
    Jasmine forced air into her lungs, flailing her unimpeded arm to gain motor control over it again and then reaching up to find his wrist with her own hand, clinging tight. “Ren.” Speaking alone cost her dearly, setting back her efforts to regulate her breathing, but she had to. 
     “You will not be harmed again.” Renner whispered, fingers spasming under hers as his other hand joined the first in supporting her head from the other side. His thumb brushed across the aching spot on her jaw, fingertips lost in her hair.
    “I’m okay,” she managed, forcing her eyes open to look at him despite the fire burning in her head. His dark eyes were close, brow lowered and jaw tight with agitation. Despite her night straight from the gates of hades, Jaz smiled.
    Tears filled her gaze, unbidden, as she struggled to maintain her uneasy connection to consciousness. “I’ve missed you.”
    The heir and lord ducked his head down to press his forehead to hers, a harsh breath leaving him. “And I you. I was leaving to search for you when the guard—“
    Laughter bubbled in her chest, stemming in the relief that flooded her system, and then caught in her throat as her restricted lungs tried to meet the needs for air. Jaz’s fingers tightened around his wrist. “You found me. You found me.” The sweetness of it burst across her tongue, cascaded through her senses in a rush.
    “You found me,” Renner corrected, and she could hear how the anxiety had fled him as well in the simple remark. He was silent for a beat, and then, “You still struggle to breathe properly. What’s wrong?”
    Jasmine did not want to roll her eyes at him, but she was tempted. “I’m dressed as a man. My partner in crime helped too well in hiding my female assets.”
    The quiet lasted longer this time and she accepted to herself that she was going to have to cut herself out of the chest bindings soon, or black out when she wanted most to be aware. 
    Ren withdrew from her, shifting back, although his left hand remained splayed beside her head, keeping it from the stone floor. “If you’ll permit it, there is the apartment of one of my cousins within this section. You are welcome to borrow some of her things.”
    His proposition made her wilt with relief at the prospect of freedom. “I would be grateful.”

    Once the time-consuming task of escaping the confines of her disguise was completed, Jasmine bundled up her clothes and stuffed them under the bed. Renner’s cousin was almost a perfect match in size, just a deep breath in bigger. She checked her appearance in one of the many mirrors in the room, satisfied with the gray, unremarkable dress that she’d dug from the depths of the closet.
    Tugging her hair over her shoulder, Jaz took an extra moment to examine the purpling bruise on her jaw. It’d been a temptation to dab some of the face powder from the washroom on it. But she’d never been that vain and Renner was already aware of its extent. With no plans to linger at the palace, covering it up would be a waste of time.
    Jasmine stepped into the shoes she was borrowing then pushed her way out of the Mason woman’s bed chamber, gaze finding Ren a heartbeat later where he stood watching out a window, motionless.
    The magical bind that had been woven over them no longer trembled in her breast, insisting that she search for him with every beat of her heart. As if it knew that once Jaz had found him, she wouldn’t need it to draw them together anymore.
     Even if she would have willingly cursed the bind to the gates of hades and back, there was no denying what it had done for her.

    Renner turned before the thought could be completed. His attention dropped down to her changed attireand back up before a smile flitted at the corners of his mouth and he crossed the room towards her.

    Yeah, it's 85% complete. Better than usual, yes? These two shift in personality with every different AU that I do. Don't be surprised if more of said AU's continue to crop up, because I have more in the works.

    Ad astra per aspera.
    To the stars, through difficulties.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

This is Home: USAFA Chapel

    Switchfoot's This is Home came to mind while I was picking through these pictures, thus the title. 

    We visited the Air Force Academy on our lengthy roadtrip through the United States, but it was particularly the Chapel that I wanted to share with you all. 

    The Chapel is not a cathedral by any length, nor does it meet the definition of a basilica, but it has it's own presence and weight that makes you pause and consider what you're witnessing. It stands tall, strong, proud. Timeless. An unmoving pillar in the midst of turbulence that has seen decades and will see many more. 

    All photos were taken by yours truly on an iPhone... 4? Not sure. Over the course of a couple of days. Sorry if they're small, working within Blogger's requirements and not having them explode from the page.

    More pictures to come, eventually. Not tonight. It's late. 0104. 

    Ad astra per aspera.
    To the stars, through difficulty.

   P.S. 12:30 AM is not the time to pretend you know what you're doing with the Windows photo editing options, take it from me.