Book Review: The War of the Flowers

The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams does what only the best fairy tales can, it reflects real dreams and nightmares into a world where readers can experience them on an epic scale. The main character is a hero of circumstance and certainly not one of choice. Theo Vilmos is a thirty year old teenager tossed into a terrifying fantasy world with just an eccentric relative’s journal for aid.

Faerie isn’t forests and The book came out in 2003, but the terrifying world of Faeries holds many parallels to today’s problems. Issues like limited resources, deforestation, immigration, droning (okay, dragoning), and civil rights get a magical twist. The book has a darkness that is reminiscent of Grimm Fairy Tales. The scariest part is how real the issues of Faerie feel. I wanted to riot for the right’s of Goblin’s and chain myself to Faerie’s lovely trees. Faeries seems to take on the worst aspects of humanity. Williams contrasts those worst aspects with Theo who may not be the best of humanity, but is at least trying to be good. The setting was so fascinating I couldn’t help feeling cheated that I didn’t get more. I would read a history of Faerie if Williams wrote it. Instead I was stuck with the understanding of Theo who is largely an outsider. It’s the difference between seeing a country as a tourist or with a native.

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Naked

An experiment with projective poetry that I started for my creative writing class. Inspired by the work of Robert Creeley.

Rocks indent

my skin, I heard

a train sound to

the night, goosebumps on flesh,


you say you like

it, I know.

Flesh keeps

no secrets.


I remember how

naked I felt, my clothes

in place, except the black

thong around my


ankle, stuck on my

heels, out of

place in the rocks.

This is a picnic,


under the optimistic stars.

The dark of summer night,

not deep

enough to shroud us,


looming deeper with time.

A red bra strap

peeks from my t-shirt,

seeing myself in squares,

small sections,


the mirror of a sun-visor.

The radio,

singing of love,

a hand reaches


out for a safe

harbour. It

finds nowhere

to anchor.

In Case Of

In one of my high school classes that was supposed to prepare me for the “real world,” I was given the documentation for creating a living will. For anyone with a different education than my own, a living will is basically a document that declares a person’s wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatment. It was a rather macabre idea and always stuck with me. I was reminded of the idea again during a particularly moving episode of a TV show I’m watching that I’m too embarrassed to name (Grey’s Anatomy). My main problem with a living will is that it doesn’t cover enough situations. There are many scenarios I’m more concerned about than needing prolonged medical treatment. I’d like to make my own living will so that everyone knows what I want in any given situation. I call it the In Case Of Will. 

In Case of Secrets

If you are a spy and you can’t tell me because it would endanger my life, I would want you to keep the secret. I would also want cool gifts from all of the places you go. You’re a spy, you can figure it out.

On a different hand, if you have magical abilities and don’t tell me I will never forgive you. Ever.  Continue reading

What’s the Point… of View

Let me preface this post by admitting it isn’t my usual thing. I’m working on a project for a Creative Writing class I’m currently taking and wanted to poll the internet realm on a question. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on point of view and what’s popular, easiest, “best, etc. I started a piece using third person editorial omniscient. Then I read numerous articles saying readers today dislike omniscient narrators because they desire a more personal connection with characters. I’ve enjoyed a few books with omniscient narrators and was wondering if I’m just abnormal. What are your favorite points of view to read and/or write? If you’ve got time I included that beginning of my work in progress and would love feedback on feelings about the point of view or any feedback in general.

Thanks internet!

Caitlin

Judgment by Chance

            Every city had a Reader. Every Reader hated books. This has been true since as long as anyone’s oldest relative could remember remembering. The idea’s birthplace remains a mystery. Nobody who is willing to share knows who created the magic of Readers, it just was. Sort of like gravity, except a surprising amount of people decide to challenge gravity by jumping off roofs and the likes, whereas Readers were more universally accepted. This made them the main authority of the land and was generally considered an improvement to the time before readers by those categorized as the little people. The less little people preferred the old system of “Might is Right” but they were outnumbered and smart enough, for the most part, to keep their mouths shut.

Knowing all of this, Chance was less than thrilled when a letter from the University bearing the Reader crest of two books on a scale arrived on his doorstep. During the seconds it took to crack open the letter’s red wax seal, Chance had already envisioned a multitude of ways this could end in unpleasant death. Chance possessed what his mother kindly termed an overeager imagination. Where normal people saw shadows, Chance saw dark garbed assassins.  Having no enemies who would possibly want to assassinate him, he recognized his own paranoia. Chance grimly reassured himself; Readers had been assassinated in the past so maybe his paranoia would prove valid.

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Contusions

When is the last time you had a well earned bruise? As a child I was constantly scraping my knee, getting grass stains on my clothes, and otherwise completely ignoring my own mortality. There seems this cultural belief that teenagers feel immortal. I’d disagree. Children feel immortal. They give everything one hundred percent. Crying, laughing, running, jumping, there’s no holding back.

The first time I remember losing my ability to commit to an action without fear ended with the gritty taste of sand in my mouth. Most of the memory is hazy like it was a dream and I’ve already been awake for too long afterwards. I do know it was a red swing held up with actual chains because the problem started when the twisting chains pinched my finger. I was gripping the chains in preparation to jump and immediately froze when it pinched me. Continue reading

What Would Ethics Do? or Should I Eat Ice Cream for Dinner?

We all face difficult ethical decisions during our lifetime. I know I personally often wish that someone would just tell me the right choice. Thankfully many people throughout history have been willing to do just that. Thanks to a new class on Ethical Dilemmas and Decision Making in Criminal Justice that I recently started I’ve learned new fancy terms for the ethical systems that have developed over time. Some of the book example are impractical to my life. To understand it better I’d like to apply some of these systems to an ethical dilemma I find particularly troubling. Should I eat ice cream for dinner? Let’s see what ethics thinks:

Ethics of Virtue

   According to this system if I’m a virtuous person I’ll basically do the right thing because of my virtuousness. I’m not sure that I’m bursting with virtue so that’s not super helpful. With a little more work I found what constitues “good” virtues. One of the virtues Aristotle discussed was temperance which is the balance between self indulgence and asceticism. Ice cream for dinner probably constitutes self indulgence so no ice cream for me under this code of ethics.

Natural Law Ethics

   This system believes that morals are inherent in nature (not human made) and can be discovered by reason. I’m not entirely a fan of this form of ethics because it’s often used for stupid reasons. For example people argue that because we have traditionally had heterosexual relationships it’s more natural and we shouldn’t have same-sex marriage. Which isn’t super factual anyways and homosexuality is all over nature. Hello, watch some animal porn… I mean planet, Animal Planet. But I can work the system just as well as anyone. Ice cream is natural because it’s produced with things found in nature and my natural instinct is to eat the ice cream so clearly that’s the right thing to do.

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Goodbyes!

I just attended the closing dinner and awards ceremony for WUDC Berlin 2013! The event required a lot of well deserved clapping for those involved in the tournament and debaters who did well. I really appreciated that everyone clapped and stood for those who were first place in each category no matter what the student’s country of origin. It’s competitive but a truly friendly environment at the end of the day.

I loved the city and the people so it’s bittersweet to say goodbye. I’m pretty sure I haven’t gotten this little sleep since finals week but I’ve enjoyed missing sleep for this a lot more than I did during finals. I’m honored to have represented Ball State at World’s. I met a lot of great people. Many of them hadn’t heard of Ball State or even Indiana at points. There was a lot of referencing Chicago to explain where we came from, butI think we made positive impressions in the end.

I know a lot of people made positive impressions on me. I have a few extra couches available to crash on if I ever get to explore the world and a great list of recommended places to go.  A special shout out to my friend Russel from Brandeis. He helped us feel less like a team attending World’s for the first time and eventually clued us in on the American section. I think the people really make the tournament and that’s part of why there are socials every night. It’s worth it to meet so many intelligent, fascinating, and opinionated people.

I’ve travelled a few times by now and leaving never gets easier. I miss my friends in Muncie so I’m excited to see them but it’s still hard to leave Berlin. Home is nice but travel is great too. It’s easier to feel enthused to go home knowing that I will travel again. I found this message on the Berlin wall that really encompasses how I feel about travel. Home is not behind you, the world is ahead. I’m ready to recharge at home but I’ll definitely be seeing more of the world again soon. Especially considering how awesome this experience was.

I wish you the world and appreciate your following our journey,

Caitlin

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