Thursday, October 29, 2015

If Darkness Could Not Love Me

by J. O'Shields II

There's a moment each evening when I am alone and preparing my mind for sleep in which I catch myself off guard.  It's generally about the same hour as solitary canine bays lift off dew-heavy wisps of ankle deep fog and make a yawning pass over the treetops and outcroppings of stone which define the landscape of my life. 

In that moment, if you'll excuse my wandering nature, I feel a familiar presence. 

No.  I should say, I feel so many fingertips of memory grazing my mind that I am unable to resist their lure.  They tug me in opposing directions bidding me to pause with them and relive a moment I should never have forgotten.  I let them pull and urge as they will while I set my sight upon the same star as I have watched every night I was able since my eighth year. 

Some nights I am convinced it loops and dips knowing I watch closely.  Other times, I remind myself that I am an adult and it is only light reflected, or refracted, to create an illusion I am too eager to succumb to.  Even now, in the haze of memory and comforting redundancy, I am unsure if I have swayed or my twinkling cohort has learned a new step.

I lean forward uncaring if I tip and stumble.  My weight comes to rest on a pine post which calls me Maker and I hold my breath.  If it moves again I'll know it wasn't me.  I'll believe myself when I say I was noticed by something I cannot name, do not pity, and have not known.  My days would be shadows if darkness could not love me.

This is My Story

by Ceara Franke

To read more of what Ceara has to say about her experiences, visit her blog at

Friday, October 23, 2015

Speakers Write and Writers Speak: The NPCC Challenge Award for Word Speeches

by Brooke Holley

What do the words “courage,” “savior,” “life,” and “hypocrisy” all share with each other? These words were the topics of the winning speeches presented earlier this semester during The NPCC Challenge Award: Word Speeches competition. 

Nadyne Crumly, a NPCC speech/human relations instructor , requires her students to give a speech about a particular word that they like or find unique. These speeches are given every semester and the best speeches are awarded first through fourth place and sometimes honorable mentions are given as well. 

The requirements for the speech included the following: The word chosen had to be unknown to the audience or defined differently than the audience knew it to be, conversation had to be included at some point during the speech, and a story depicting the word had to be included as well.

Students in Nadyne Crumly’s public speaking class participated in the word speeches competition with great enthusiasm this semester. The class had roughly four days to prepare and each speech was articulated with great accuracy and poise.

The contest had three judges this semester: Professor Kristi Leibhart, student Elizabeth Haag, and student Decubanise Winfrey. 

First place was awarded to Summer Malsbury for her speech about the word “courage.”  Although she barely finished writing the speech before it was given, she delivered every syllable as if she’d rehearsed it a thousand times. Her story, about a fellow classmate, was “the best compliment to a classmate” Crumly had ever seen accomplished during one of her classes.

Second place was awarded to the author of this article, Brooke Holley, for my speech about the word “savior.” I wasn’t particularly proud of the speech itself; however, the story I included was close to my heart, so I went with it.

Third place was awarded to Juwan Ortiz who spoke about the word “life.” I greatly enjoyed his speech because of the quotes he included in it. Add the quotes to the humbling message contained within his speech, and you can’t help but enjoy listening to it.

Fourth place was awarded to Troy Dye for his speech on the word “hypocrisy.”  Troy forgot his notes the day we presented class, but his speech was still delivered with great confidence. I enjoyed his speech, because I found the content of it to be especially thought provoking.

The NPCC Challenge Awards went over smoothly this semester. All of the students were happy with how their speech turned out. The three judges seemed to be highly impressed by every speech, and I know our instructor, Professor Crumly, was exceptionally proud of each and every one of us.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hurry is not of the Devil...

by J. O'Shields II

Ever been so busy that you fell down? Take a moment and digest the question thoroughly while I prattle on and attempt to draw a line of reason to this dot of idiocy.

It's no secret that I am an adult student. That simply means I am old and refuse to give up pursuing higher education. Part of the kit and caboodle here is that I am busy. I do not refer to your generic "have so much to do today" level of busy but an all-encompassing, "save my life I'm going down for the last time" brand of bat-shit crazy busy.

First class is around 9am. I need 2 hours to wake up and become human in the morning so I am up by 7. Just kidding. I hit snooze about 9 times so I get up around 8:30 and then rush and fuss and hurriedly try to shower and dress and maintain hygiene before racing out the door and playing "find the five-o" all the way to the campus. I manage to keep up with classes while I continue to wake up and usually by slightly after noon, when my last class ends each day, I am just awake enough to go get coffee and do some homework before the "until I graduate" job begins. I fake my way through 6-8 hours of preening, self-entitled customers and go home to finish what remains of my homework. That is generally around midnight. Sometime around three a.m. I get to sleep and repeat. This is the bare minimum 5 days a week.

So today I had a professor that decided we don't need algebra on this momentous Thursday (I do not know the reason nor do I require a reason to skip maths) so it was my intention to sleep later than usual. I even went to bed slightly earlier than is typical since I did not have to sit up fondling exponents and reciting nonsense about Aunt Sally. And that should have been a good thing. But one may have noticed that when one alters a mindless schedule, the revision will rarely include all that was intended. In short, I failed to set my alarm last night.

So I awoke without sound.. This is acceptable as I do occasionally wake moments before my alarm. I lay there thinking, "I have outwitted sleep and regained consciousness before the dreaded sound of my phone screaming me to life. But then I noticed the curtains did little to cloak the sunlight. That is odd for my region at such an early hour. I fumbled about the nightstand and found my phone. Plugged in. Good. Powered on. Good. After nine a.m.. Not as good. I grumbled and then stopped to remind myself that I was alive and nothing hurt and my day was likely to contain friends and family and some new piece of knowledge that would continue to mold me.

Yes, I am my own spin doctor. 

So, we come to the apex of our tale. I swung my legs over the side and hopped down to stand beside the bed. So far so good. Then I remembered I had not packed my books the night before, I had not done laundry, I had forgotten to get either a haircut or hair product to mask my need for a haircut. Gasp! I was doomed. I had a full 3 hours worth of pointless nonsense to accomplish and half that time to accomplish it. As is my nature, I immediately told myself to hurry and begin at the top of my list at once. "take a step forward", shouted the brain to the legs and feet. And the legs and feet replied with a hearty, "Huh?"

I was watching the wood floor rush toward me. I remember looking at my hands to see if they had been alerted by the pain centers that we were facing a certain impact. The hands did not flinch to help nor did the knees bend or the hips rotate. In fact, for all the falls I've taken, not one of the adequately trained safety measures of my person leap to action. Instead I hit the floor already laughing. I wasn't hurt. it is my conviction that skateboards and mountains and automobiles have rubbed callouses on the interior of my dermis and I am shielded from within against simple damage. But I did laugh well as I got up. More slowly, I moved out of the bedroom and toward the bathroom to begin my ritual. And I reminded myself with each well thought out step, "Don't get ahead of yourself, bud."