Monday, August 20, 2018

Diary of a New Driver - Chapter Four




To read the previous chapters, click below:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3



~


Chapter 4: Maniac Driver



   “Since you did so well last time,” my father began as we climbed into the car, “I thought we’d take things to the next level.”

Oh no. Not the road, please not the road, please, please, please…

“Let’s test your skills on an actual road.”

NOOOOO!!!!

I desperately tried to come up with an excuse for why that was a terrible idea.

“But it’s Saturday Dad, there will be more cars on the road.”

“You gotta learn somehow. I’ll grab the wheel if I have to, but I know you can manage just fine.”

Great. As if I haven’t had enough chances to die. I think we’re really pushing the Lord’s protection here.

“Now I know you don’t like the gas pedal, but once you get on the road, you’ll have to quickly come to speed. This is Maryland and the people here don’t tolerate slow drivers, especially not on this road. The speed limit is 40, but most people do close to 50. Now remember…”

Of all the states Dad and Mom had to pick to live in, it would have to be Maryland. Where, not only do people drive like stressed-out maniacs, but everyone has a high-paying job. Which means, if I get in a wreck, they could quite literally sue my pants off! And I somehow have to learn how to drive on these roads? This can’t end well.

“Sound good?”

“Uh… sure.”

“Alright, proceed forward and turn left, making sure to wait for a gap in the traffic before turning onto the road.”

I executed a jerky turn out of our driveway and advanced cautiously, convinced that death awaited me around every bend and after every stop light.

Why are these lanes so narrow? And why is the oncoming lane so close? It’s like the roads haven’t changed since the 1800s when buggies were still popular!

In my effort to avoid, what I was certain would result in a head-on collision with the opposite lane, I was unknowingly straying too close to the curb. Dad was quick to notice.

“You’ve got to steer in the center of the lane,” he said, grabbing the wheel and forcibly directing the car away from the curb. I panicked.

“But… but the oncoming lane! We’re too close, we’re gonna crash!!”

I desperately tried to turn the wheel against my father’s direction, but he held it fast.

“No, we’re not too close. There’s more room than you think. Just keep in the center of your lane and we’ll be fine.”

Dad released the wheel and I reluctantly maintained the, in my opinion, much-too-close proximity to the center line. Cars whizzed past me in rapid succession. My knuckles whitened as I gripped the wheel. It’s a wonder there aren’t ten fingertip-shaped dents in the rubber of the steering wheel.

This must be how soldiers feel in the middle of a battlefield.

Another stream of cars zipped past me.

Bullets pepper the mud all around us. Hold your ground men!

The road gently sloped upward and I accelerated.

There’s a break in the fire. Onward! We’ve got to take this hill!

Suddenly a huge tractor trailer came barreling down the hill.

Oh no, they’re firing the heavy missiles! Hit the dirt!!

The tractor trailer passed me with a whoosh and I thought I felt the car sway.

Whew, that was close! Everyone up, we’re almost reached the top.

As the car crested the hill, the scenic view of a winding road bordered by fertile trees greeted my eyes.

We’ve made it! Such sweet victory! Such glorious accomplishment! Indeed, the road may be difficult, the path may be rough, but oh, the feeling of a conqueror. Oh the taste of freedom! Oh the sense of liberty! For in this modern buggy, I can go anywhere, do anything… I can be free. The noble patriot truly asks, ‘Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or GIVE. ME. DEA…

“At this next light you’ll want to make a right turn,” Dad instructed, interrupting my lofty ruminations.

Slightly disgruntled, I merely nodded in reply.

Humph. My train of thought hath been derailed! What was I thinking about? It was so interesting… oh well, it’s gone. Probably should focus on the road anyways… hmm, wonder what those little bumps are up ahead?

“... take it too fast and you’ll rip the axle off your car. So just obey the speed signs and you’ll be fine.”

Rip the… oh boy. What was the speed limit on this road? I think he said forty… should probably slow it down to around thirty just to be safe.

So focused was I on the road, that I failed to notice the 20 mph sign next to the speed bump. As the car jolted over the bump, Dad winced, and I felt myself come up off the seat.

Woah! Hey, this fun! Kinda like when you’re on your bike and ride really fast up a hill and then catch some air when you go over the top. Let’s do that again!

Dad relaxed his grip on the seat and cleared his throat.

“You took that bump like a native.”

I glanced over at him.

“That’s a good thing right?”

Dad suppressed a smile.

“Well it’s good you’re getting comfortable with the car, but let’s take this next speed bump a little slower. Remember, the speed limit for the bumps is twenty.”

Twenty?! Oh wow, I did take that kinda fast. Well, at least I know how to drive like a native. 

I grinned.

But the smile faded and my brow furrowed as I thought about the “stressed-out maniacs” who ruled the roads of Maryland.

Then again, maybe that isn’t such a good thing.



~



What was your first experience driving on a real road? Are there speed bumps in your area? 



Monday, August 6, 2018

Liebster Blog Award


     What??? This little blog got nominated for an award??? Many thanks to Peter and Jason from Awkward Truth for the nomination! The Liebster Award is a way for bloggers to recognize each other and show some love to fellow bloggers who have smaller followings. Curiously, "Liebster" is German for "Dearest" (according to Google translate anyways.) :)


Rules:
  1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award. 
  2. Answer eleven questions the blogger gives you
  3. List eleven random facts about yourself
  4. Nominate eleven other bloggers you think are deserving of the award (with less than 200 followers)
  5. Give them eleven questions to answer
  6. Let the bloggers know you nominated them


     Peter and Jason ask:

What do you most appreciate in a blog?
     When the blogger is able to design a beautiful, attractive layout AND consistently publish excellent, God-glorifying content. 

What inspires you most?
     Inspiration comes from a lot of places! When it comes to non-fiction, the Bible inspires me most, as well as the various life events the Lord uses to teach me. For fiction, I'm most inspired by Biblical and world history. There's so much that can be learned from the past.

If you could choose to live in any particular year in history, which would it be?
     America during the late 40s, early 50s. It was both a simpler time and the most advanced period of history the world had known until that point. People had a stronger sense of morals and a stronger work ethic. There's a reason those who lived during that time are called the "last great generation."  

Favorite animal, and why?
     A bald eagle. First, because they're protected by law, which means they can't be killed. Second, they can fly. Third, they're mentioned in the Bible! Well, not bald eagles specifically... but still.  

Which do you prefer to write on: computer, typewriter, or pen and paper?
     Does anyone even use a typewriter anymore?? In general, I prefer pen and paper, although I am comfortable with a computer. 

Which book of the Bible do you love most?
     Oh goodness, why would you ask this question?! If I really had to choose, it'd probably be either Psalms or Romans. 

Who's your least favorite author? Why?
     I actually have several least favorite authors. My least, least favorite author would be C. S. Lewis. WAIT, WAIT, before you start throwing stones, allow me to explain. My reasons for disliking him are not necessarily because of the quality of his writing. Rather, Lewis maintains several theological positions which I believe to be unbiblical. Perhaps sometime I'll write an entire post about that....

What's your biggest writing pet peeve?
     Books that contain just enough morals to be classified as a Christian book, but still contain all the elements of godless literature. This is especially true of "Christian" romance novels.

If you could be any character from the Lord of the Rings, who would it be?
     I've never read or watched LOTR, so.... 

What's your least favorite thing about blogging?
     Posting consistently. I'm terrible at making schedules and sticking to them. For now I just post whenever I think of something to post about. :P

What's your favorite blog post you ever published?
     When God's Commands Are Unpleasant. The Lord used the experience described in the post to teach me a valuable lesson and I'm so glad I was able to capture it in a post as I'm a very forgetful person and being able to read it over and remember what the Lord taught me is very helpful.  



11 Random Facts about Me:
  1. I'm a perpetually cold person
  2. Sweatpants and hoodies are life
  3. I love chocolate (especially milk chocolate)
  4. My favorite food is sushi (NOT sashimi, there's a difference)
  5. I dislike the colors gray and pink
  6. You can never give me too many spiral-bound notebooks
  7. I find painting relaxing
  8. I've participated in Bible Bee for many years, although recently not as much. 
  9. Bible Bee Nationals 2015 was the best time of my life
  10. I love filmmaking and have filmed several short Bible skits with the kids from our Bible study
  11. I have a cat (to see a picture of her, check out this post from several years ago)


11 Bloggers I'm Nominating:
  1. Jessica from Apples of Gold
  2. Maria from Journey of a Storyteller
  3. Ashley from Precious Moments
  4. Sarah and Katherine from Sisters Squared
  5. Grace from Everlasting Love
  6. Allison from The Indwelling Word
  7. Grace, aka Tizzie, from Tizzie's Tidbits of Truth
  8. Priscilla from Write Hard and Pray Harder

(Yes, that's only eight, but those are all the small bloggers I know who haven't done this tag already.)


11 Questions For the Nominees:

  1. What started your blogging journey?
  2. What's your favorite blog post you ever published? (Yes, I'm stealing this question.)
  3. Where do you see your blog ten years from now?
  4. Aside from the Bible, what's your favorite book/series?
  5. What's the longest passage of Scripture you've memorized? 
  6. Favorite fruit?
  7. Apple or Android? 
  8. Where's your go-to writing place?
  9. What's your go-to snack?
  10. Are you a morning person or night owl?
  11. If money was not an issue, what would your dream job be?


~


     Welp, that's that! Thanks once again to Peter and Jason for the nomination. If you're a small blogger and would like to participate in this award, consider yourself tagged!






Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Diary of a New Driver - Chapter Three




To read the previous chapters, click below.
Chapter 1
Chapter 2


~


Chapter 3: Petal to the Metal


    Considering the previous nerve-wracking experiences (which have undoubtedly diminished from my lifespan), it is little wonder that I was quite leery of the gas pedal. My top speed averaged a mere 10 mph. In our next lesson, my father set out to correct this.


“Going too slow can be just as dangerous as going too fast. If you’re on the highway and you don’t get up to speed fast enough, you could get rear-ended.” 

“But I won’t be on the highway for a long time!”  

“Still, you need to learn to accelerate. Now this is a nice long stretch of road with nobody on it. I want you to press the gas pedal and keep accelerating until you reach 40 mph.”

I laughed and then looked at his face.

“Wait...you’re serious?”

“Yes I’m serious! You’ll be fine, 40 mph isn’t that fast anyways.”

That’s faster than horses can run!!! Why oh why did we ever give up horseback riding as a means of transportation? Now we’re constrained to these tiny torpedos running on highly combustible material!! Tell me again how that’s safer??


Nevertheless, I gripped the wheel and gingerly placed my foot on the gas.

“Just accelerate slowly and don’t let off until you’ve reached 40.” 


With a quick prayer reminding God I was still young and to please not let me die, I pushed the pedal to the floor. 


“You’re supposed to accelerate slowly!” Dad exclaimed as he was thrust back in his seat. I barely heard him. My mind was focused on getting that little red needle to point at 40. 


Ten… twenty…. halfway there. Woah, we’re really going fast, this is actually pretty cool! So much power… it’s like I’m in a high speed car chase! 


Inexplicably, the Mission Impossible theme song started playing in my head.


We got a tip from an anonymous source that a notorious drug dealer is headed for the border. He’s highly armed and highly dangerous… but so am I. 


HQ has tracked the criminal’s car to a nearby city. I’m on the prowl. Suddenly, I notice the license plate of the car in front of me. 

It’s him! 

He apparently notices me at the same time and takes off. He’s trying to slip into that back-alley. Ha! I don’t think so buddy! 

I speed up and block the entrance, he throws his car into reverse, I pull out my gun and aim for his tires. There’s a loud pop and he pulls out his shotgun. 

Quick, duck! 

My back window shatters and he takes off again, but his front wheel is leaking air. Good luck outrunning me on a flat tire! 

I speed up and put a bullet hole in his back window. His car careens off the road. I slam on the brakes and jump out, gun drawn. He climbs out and tries to run. 

Not so fast mister! Put your hands in the air, you’re under arrest!

“Feeling good?” Dad asked, noticing the grin on my face.

“What? Oh.. yeah, I’m good.” 


“You can let off the gas now and just coast.” 


I did so and then gave a quick glance at the speedometer. 


Forty-five??? I was doing forty-five?? How am I still alive??? Talk about a miracle… thank you Lord!


“Start braking and pull off into that driveway. See, that wasn’t so bad. You’re doing great!”


I smiled.

"Thanks Dad."

Maybe I can become a good driver after all. Who knows, I might even become an FBI agent... 




~


How long did it take you to discover the gas pedal? 
Do you enjoy going fast or do you prefer to take it slow?


Monday, May 7, 2018

Diary of a New Driver - Chapter Two




     In this chapter, your's truly encounters the dreaded roundabout. To read the previous chapter, click below.
Chapter 1


~


Chapter 2: Centrifugal Force


    After subsequent days of intense training, I finally mastered the intricate skill of guiding a car through an empty parking lot - without damaging the car or nearby squirrels. Dad decided it was time to take my skills to the next level.

“Now we’ll practice driving around the neighborhood down the street,” he announced.

After pulling the car into the neighborhood’s entrance, we switched seats. I fiddled with the mirrors, wheel, and seat, adjusting them to my significantly shorter stature. Dad prepped me for the new experience.

“Because this is a neighborhood, there will be other cars.”

Seeing the panicked look on my face, he hastened to assure me.

“But don’t worry, they’ll be going at very low speeds. As you drive, be sure to scan the road in front of you and be aware of people walking or kids playing. Look out especially for young kids…”

Ok. Scanning the road… there’s a lady with a stroller… kid on a skateboard… no wait, that’s a hoverboard! Oh man, that is so cool! I should get one…NO GLORIA PAY ATTENTION, we do not want the same problem to occur that happened last time.

“...those can be a little tricky but I’ll help you when we come to one.”

Wait, what did he say?

“Ready to go?”

“Uh, I guess…”

“Alright, proceed up to that stop sign and turn right.”

All went well until an imposing truck pulled up behind our little Hyundai.

“Dad…” I tried to sound calm. “There’s a car behind me… what do I do???”

“Nothing, just keep going. He’ll probably turn off soon enough.”

But… but I don’t want a car following me! What if he gets upset at my terrible driving? What if I’m going too slow? Wait, how fast am I going? Let’s check the… NO DON’T LOOK, just keep your eyes on the road Gloria, it’ll be ok.

I gripped the steering wheel.

Please turn off, please, please, please… YES he’s turning into that driveway! Whew, that was close!

As we continued through the narrow roads, my confidence increased.

Hey this isn’t so bad… as long as there aren’t any other cars around. Aw, look at that little girl on her bike! I remember learning to ride a bike. It’s so different from driving a car…

“Woah, careful there!” Dad’s hand flashed out and grabbed the steering wheel, directing the car away from the sidewalk.

“Whoops, sorry!” I slowed the car and quickly regained control of its direction.

“That’s ok,” Dad released the wheel. “Just focus on steering the car in the center of your lane.”

Right Gloria, focus.

“Now up ahead there’s a roundabout. Those can be tricky, but like I said, you just have to aggressively turn the wheel as you go around the center circle.”

Roundabout? Shouldn’t be too hard. You got this Gloria.

We slowly approached the looming obstacle and I gripped the wheel with the dexterity of an equestrian learning to jump her horse.

“Ok, turn to the right,” Dad coached me. “Now turn the wheel hard to the left.”

Right… left… hard? I thought your were supposed to make gentle turns… better keep it gentle just to be sure.

As we turned around the circle, I suddenly realized why the turns should be hard.

Wait… we’re headed straight toward the grass on the opposite side! TURN GLORIA TURN!!!

“Turn it harder!” Dad exclaimed reaching out to grab the wheel again. But he was too late. The car bumped over the curb and onto the grass, narrowly missed a sign pole.

BRAKES GLORIA BRAAAAKKESS!!! AAAHH IMGONNADIE!!!!

The car jolted to an abrupt stop. All was silent.

“Well…” Dad took a breath. “Nothing’s damaged.”

NOTHING’S DAMAGED??? MY CONFIDENCE IS WHAT’S DAM… no, COMPLETELY SHATTERED!!!! That’s it, I’m done, I can’t. This is too much.

Dad noticed my white knuckles.

“You ok?”

“We nearly died! Died I tell you!! I can’t do this Dad, I’ve had enough.”

“Ok, it’s ok.” He patted my knee. “I’m actually glad you had this experience because it gave you a feel for how unnerving it is to lose control of the vehicle. And we weren’t even going that fast! Cars have a lot of momentum, even at low speeds.”

I slouched in my seat with a scowl.

Who decided it was a good idea to stick a person in a bubble of metal, glass, plastic, and rubber and have them careen down roads at speeds never before imagined for thousands of years??? And then what doofenhouser thought it would be ok to have teenagers do it??? He ought to be stoned!!!

“Alright, just back up, proceed safely around the roundabout, and stop at that sign.” Dad patted my shoulder. “I’ll drive us home.”

As Dad drove, I stared out the window, chewing my lip, and thinking sarcastic thoughts.

Well, at least I now have an experiential knowledge of centrifugal force. Who knows, maybe next week I’ll learn about the doppler effect of police sirens.


Coincidentally, my prayer life dramatically increased over the next few days.



~


To this day roundabouts make me nervous! What do you think of roundabouts? 
Have you ever driven off the road? 






Monday, April 16, 2018

Diary of a New Driver - Cover Reveal & First Chapter




     It's here!!! The cover and first chapter of Diary of a New Driver are here! Ready for the reveal? Here it is....



in 3...



... 2...



... 1...








Chapter 1: Left, Right, BRAKES

    The high school parking lot was empty except for one lone car sitting in the far corner under the shade of a tree. Its owner was on the field practicing soccer.

“Ok, let’s begin,” Dad declared.

“The thing you’re gripping right now is called the steering wheel. The key hole right there is where you put the key to start the ignition. This stick here is the gear shift. The letters stand for park, reverse, neutral, drive, and low. Park and reverse are obvious. You use neutral when…” 

My mind whirled. Ignition… right, that’s where I stick this key. Park… ok, I see we’re parked right now. Same as that guy over there. Really like the color of his car! And man, he can play soccer! I should practice more… wait…. neutral?


“The two pedals at your feet are the brakes and acceleration. The pedal on the left is the brake and the one on the right is the acceleration. Don’t press them too hard or too fast because…”

Brakes, yeah those are important. Which one was it? Left, yeah that was it. Hmmm, left is the brake, right is acceleration… left brake, right acceleration, left brake… GOAL!!! He kicked that ball right into the net. Nice kick bro, that was a long shot! Wait…. right brake?

“Well, those are the basics. Think you can handle it?”


“Uh... yeah.”

“Alright, go ahead and stick the key in the ignition and turn it clockwise until you hear the car’s engine come on.”

“Ok…”


“Now we’re sitting still because the gear shift is in ‘park’. Go ahead and move it to ‘drive’.”

“Alright.” Gloria you should’ve been paying more attention. Let’s see… ‘drive’... ok…. WAIT, WHY IS THE CAR MOVING???

“Uh… Dad…” I started feeling panicky. “Why is the car moving? We’re gonna hit the curb, what do I do???”

“It’s ok, just press the brake.”

Brakes, right… it was right… right?

Suddenly the car lurched forward.

“No, wrong pedal!” Dad exclaimed.

AAAAHHH GLORIA YOU IDIOT IT WAS LEFT BRAKE

My foot quickly found the correct pedal and the car jerked to a stop, causing the seatbelt to catch me suddenly.

OH MY WORD, OH MY STARS, SWEET SUGARY PANCAKES I ALMOST DIED!!!

“You doing ok Gloria? You’re looking a little pale.”

“Uh…”

I. ALMOST. DIED.


We had barely gone five feet but my heart pounded as if we’d just entered a fast-paced, multi-lane highway.

“I… I think I’m done for today.”

Dad chuckled. “Ok, we can practice more later.”

This is going to be a lot harder than I thought.


~



Aaand that's the end of chapter one! In case you're wondering, yes that did happen. All the incidents in the Diary actually happened... although the monologue and dialogue may have been embellished. :) 
What was your first driving experience? Have you ever confused the brake pedal with the gas pedal?