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2B or Not 2B

Lighthouse

Your eyes were

staircases spiraling inside

towering licorice lighthouses;

I watched some nights

when you’d pry open my craters

and release my moths and

let them collect on your

glittering railings.

Your pupils shined on

my royal violet failings,

but you always loved

to blink

my name.

 

Speaking of poetry, it’s the middle of the month and submissions are still open! Send your pieces to the Contact page. ^.^

 

Written by Hannah Butcher
©2BorNot2B. All rights reserved.

Earth and Everywhere

I was in Wales when I realized that God is everywhere.

Tintern Abbey was lathered in light. I tilted my head back to gaze at the monastery, the pillars, the blackened stone. I looked down at the fresh, soft grass speckled with daisies and bumble bees. I felt as if this place, this place of warm tranquility, was Heaven disguised as Earth. Every step was sacred. I felt Him beneath my feet and in my hands and in the mountains.  My friends gathered in the middle of the meadow, whispering so that they did not crack the fragile quiet.

The day my sister told me that she didn’t have faith, something inside me crumbled. I suppose she didn’t remember that moment when we sat on that Pennsylvanian hill, counting fireflies. She squealed and wanted to capture each insect in Grandma Gayle’s glass jars, but I told her to admire them while they’re free. So we compared the fireflies with the cloud of stars above us, pulsating and blinking back at us. We splayed our bodies in the grass and giggled.

Didn’t you feel God then?

A few years later, she showed me the jagged scars on her wrist. She hauled out her anatomy textbook and paged through all the chapters regarding the nervous system. Her eyes were wide with realization. “There is no such thing as a soul,” she said. “The brain controls everything.”

I fall in love with people who worship math and blame God for the problems they can’t solve. But a calculator cannot tell you why we feel the night is ours to hold. It cannot tell you why we might decide to live for someone else. 

Sometimes I feel as though I left God in Wales. When I walked off the plane, suitcase in hand, maybe I left Him behind.

Or, maybe I just have to keep looking everywhere.

 

Written/Photography by Hannah Butcher
©2BorNot2B. All rights reserved.

August Writing Contest Winner

2B or Not 2B’s monthly writing contest has been on hiatus for a few months due to a busy summer. However, I’m happy to say that we are now back in business! Submissions are currently open; if you would like to submit any piece of your writing, you may do so here. Every month there will be a new winner pertaining to all genres of writing, so keep a lookout for new artists featured on this blog!

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I would like to congratulate Nitesh (AKA Sketchesbynitesh) for being August’s poetry winner of the 2B or Not 2B website! His writing is enchantingly philosophical and filled with potent imagery. His piece “Eternal Rest” spins the concept of death so that readers perceive it as a state of peace and serenity (rather than a state of gloom). I hope you enjoy his work as much as I did.

 

Eternal Rest
written by Nitesh

Between the lines of truth and blame, death is certain.
But there is a better day, a better way, behind the lines, walking, talking, but not the same.
There’s God, there’s heaven, but no pain.
I’ll be at peace, on the day I’ll die, my restless heart at rest, under the haunted sky.
There will be no heaviness in my head, I’ll be broken, dazed, speaking of death.
There will be nothing to accomplish, in all the broken promises.
Gentle and brutal companies, they become inseparable, because once around the bend, there is no question about
how much space eternally remains.
But in the hearts of all, who lived by my side, I will crawl to them, until there’s nothing left inside.
And in the smoke of my body, that burns and smells, there will be no trace of anguish or conflict
in my rushing eyes.
But one last thing to tell, here I go, my love, erase me completely from your memories,
here I go, my bride, free from all the blind rage,
here I go my love, turn the page.

 

*If you would like to participate in the September writing contest, simply fill out a form on this website’s Submissions Page. You may send me an email or comment below if you have any questions or concerns.*

I’ll be looking forward to September’s submissions!

Letter to My Adult Self

Dear Future Wanderer,

The present is flooded with the desire to know the future; people incessantly want to know what will happen rather than what is happening.

With this in mind, I hope you understand that, in this letter, I refuse to ask you questions. I will not demand answers because I am not meant to hold them in my hands. My present is my present, and yours is yours. I have no desire to know what to look forward to or what to dread. After all, one of the greatest things about life is that it is unexpected and whimsical. The future is so unknown, and yes, it terrifies me, but I am content with the fact that I know that everything happens for a reason.

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I am hopeful for who you are: I hope that you make an effort to pray to God regularly; I hope you treat others kindly and are just as kind to yourself; I hope you’ve found love; I hope you are making people happy; I hope you are making impacts. I hope no one has dissuaded you from doing so.

I am reminding you that experience is, in every situation, worth more than money ever could— memories are invaluable and precious. So, I hope you’ve traveled around the world. I hope you’ve met dreamers, failures, lovers, addicts, and healers. I hope you’ve collected memories with these people and cradled them in your arms like they were made of porcelain.

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I am confused about who I am. I hope you’ve figured yourself out by now. And, if you haven’t, I promise you that there is still time. Time, after all, is continuous and forever– energy is not. I am not planning to be a physicist, but I hope you are putting your energy into things that matter.

I hope that you still value education. I hope that college treated you well, and that you are aspiring for the stars (I hope that you still look up at Orion with a smile on your lips). I hope that you followed a career in publishing. I hope that you never listened to the people who told you that you are raising yourself up only to crash. I hope you’ve self-published anthologies. I hope you’ve written a memoir.

I hope you are someone that our sister can look up to. I hope that, at this point, she sees you as the big sister that you are rather than a distant friend. I do hope you still value your friends as much as your family. They are loyal to a fault, and I hope you still learn from their words and heed their advice.

Live every moment like it’s your last. Live in your present rather than in your future. And, like me, I hope you ask questions and continue to search for your own answers.

Love,
HB

What is it Like to Have Synesthesia? An Interview

While most people try not to judge a book by its cover, some involuntarily judge a book by its colors. Simply seeing or hearing words can cause a select group of people to instantly associate words with colors, a phenomenon known as synesthesia. After hearing about this condition, I wanted to know more about those with vocabulary-based synesthesia; when they read a book, for example, do the words form a rainbow in their minds? Are their thoughts as colorful as an artist’s canvas?

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According to the American Psychological Association, about 1 in 2,000 people are synesthetes. Additionally, 1 in 300 have some variation of it.

Personally, I have always been a very visual person, and I may have some variation of synesthesia. I’ve always had textual experiences when I have conversations with people and when I hear sounds; I view dialogue as physical, solid words above a person’s head. If they mumble and I do not understand what they say, however, their words transform into symbols that I try my best to decipher, much like how an archaeologist decodes hieroglyphics.

Alicia Mrachek, student, writer, and close friend of mine, has this condition known as synesthesia. Her brain joins objects such as letters, numbers, or people’s names with the sensory perception of color. 

Alicia was so kind as to satisfy my curiosity by answering a few interview questions I had for her. I hope you find as much interest in her story as I do.

  • When was the first time you found out that you could associate colors with words and numbers?

Being able to associate colors with words and numbers has always been with me I suppose, but I first noticed it when I went into elementary school. I really struggled with math, and as a way to remember the numbers and what they added or subtracted to, I would associate them with colors. For example, the number 7, in my mind, is a light orange-yellow while 9 is a deep green. Together, they make 16, which is a light, aqua green. From there, I began to see names and words in colors depending on the letters that they contained.

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  • Does your synesthesia come with challenges? If so, what kind?

This mindset certainly does comes with its limitations. I practically think and breathe colors, colors I cannot even name, and as a result, I associate certain colors with certain words and/or numbers. Even my ideas pulsate with their own colors and feelings. Because of this, I will automatically assume certain colors for terms that are being introduced to me. However, the terms themselves will often have a different color or a too similar one between my assumption and the “correct” form. For example, I’ve always struggled with math and oftentimes I’ll confuse numbers and terms together because their colors contradict in my head. To this day, I get the greater-than and the less-than symbols confused in my head because, in my mind’s eyes, the word “greater-than” is a dark green while “less-than” is a light green. When I see the two signs themselves, they are so similar in color and in actual shape and form that I cannot distinguish between which is which. Hannah can testify to this as to this day I still ask for her help in distinguishing the two, haha.

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  • Do you believe that this mindset is more of a curse or a blessing?

It’s been more of a blessing since it has shaped my likes and my successes. For example, I excel in history, the arts, and literature, and I find great fascination with them because I can comprehend them well. And because of such a color coordinated mindset, I am an extreme visual learner. In history, for example, I can remember dates well because I associate colors and feelings with a certain year. In literature or creative writing, certain words or sentence structures create a color or remind me of a feeling I had a long time ago. As a result of this, these subjects I thrive in and feel successful in because they pair well with my mindset… It is such a part of who I am and what I like that I feel that even if I had the choice, I would never change it.

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  • Are there specific letters in the alphabet that you associate with certain colors? Can you provide examples? 

Yes, there are certain letters in the alphabet that have specific colors, but some letters vary in shades or colors depending on what they are paired with in certain words. For example, in my name ALICIA, the letter A in my mind is a rosy pink, if not a baby pink color. L is almost a minty green color while I is a pearly white. C is a light, soft yellow and the colors repeat for the repeating letters in the rest of my name. However, in the word LEAF, L is a dark, forest green, while E is a frog-type light green, A is a distinct pink, and F is a light, coffee-cream brown.

 

A big thanks to Alicia for taking the time out of her day to answer my questions. I truly appreciate all of the detail and dedication she gives me on a daily basis.

Do you have synesthesia, or know of anyone that has? Feel free to leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.

Happy writing and have a happy and healthy weekend!

Liebster Blogger Award Nomination

I am honored to be nominated for the Liebster Award by Peter Adewumi,  an accomplished editor, writer, blogger, and technical and mathematics instructor. I encourage you to visit his blog; he has plenty of interesting and inspiring reads.

The rules of the Liebster Award are as follows:

1) Acknowledge the blog who nominated you for this award.
2) Answer 11 questions the blogger gave you.
3) Give 11 random facts about yourself.
4) Nominate 11 blogs.
5) Notify them.
6) Give them 11 questions to answer.

The following are questions Peter asked me in his nomination:

  • What’s your real name? My real name is Hannah Elyce.
  • What do friends call you? My friends call me Hannah or Hannah Banana.
  • What do you do for a living? I am currently a full-time student. Right now, all of my focus is directed to my education. I hope to work in the publishing business in a few years, however.
  • Your favorite actor? Johnny Depp. Without a doubt.
  • Your favorite movie? It’s between a few of them, actually. Good Will Hunting, Corpse Bride, and Sweeney Todd are pretty up there.
  • Do you intend to have a family doctor? I’d like to, when I have a family of my own.
  • Do you intend to have a family lawyer? I suppose so. I never thought about this one before.
  • Your main reason for blogging? Self-expression and to inspire others. Inspiration is my main goal.
  • Any disappointment in blogging? I haven’t encountered any disappointments yet. My family, as well as everyone in the blogging community, is very supportive of what I do, so I don’t have much reason to feel disappointed. I’m very grateful for that.
  • Your advice for upcoming bloggers? Make sure you are happy with your website and your posts. Don’t write just because you feel like you have to satisfy a schedule; do it because it makes you feel good and because you want to spread that feeling to others. If a post is forced, your readers will feel it. That’s why, for my blog at least, I don’t post on a strict schedule. I’d recommend this mentality for other bloggers.
  • What is one thing you would do differently if you were to start your blog all over? I would probably market/advertise my blog from the beginning so that it could grow faster.

My nominees for the Liebster Blog Award are these lovely blogs and bloggers:

  1. Jay Colby
  2. Craftie Beaver
  3. Whitney Ibe Blog
  4. Robert Okaji
  5. Annette Rochelle Aben
  6. Peace, Love, and Patchouli
  7. Risen Faith Ministries
  8. Pretty Lies
  9. Letters and Poetry
  10. The Naga
  11. A Learning Poet

My questions for my nominees to answer:

  1. What made you start blogging? How long ago did you start?
  2. If you could visit any country in the world, which would you visit and why?
  3. What is your favorite animal?
  4. Favorite candy?
  5. Do you prefer digital or physical books?
  6. What is the biggest problem you encounter while writing?
  7. What color are your eyes?
  8. Recount a brief childhood story. What happened?
  9. What type of music do you like to listen to?
  10. Do you collect anything? If so, what is it?
  11. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Thank you so much, Peter, for your nomination. I think this award is a great way to discover new bloggers and connect within the online community.

Happy Sunday and happy writing!

Photography Through England

Traveling and studying literature in England opened my eyes to what could be. I was able to control where I went, what I saw, and who I met. I grew as an observer; as a result, I wanted to record as much as possible so that I could be the eyes for those who couldn’t join me.

Ironically, as I explored a rather unstable foreign country, my mind felt more at peace than it ever had before. There was something in my thoughts that told me, “You have got to do this now, or you can never truly come home again.”

Interacting in small towns such as Warwick, Oxford, and Stratford-Upon-Avon gifted me with the best scenery. I’ve put together an illustrated version of all of the highlights of my trip below. I hope you enjoy!

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Our first glimpse of England was a breathtaking one. The land and neighborhoods were dispersed in irregular patterns; they were definitely different from the rhythmic grids we’re used to in the States.
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The Underground is London’s public mode of transportation. It reminded me of a more efficient New York subway.
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Westminster Abbey is the home to the graves of several well-known writers such as Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and the Bronte sisters. Scientists such as Charles Darwin are also buried in this church. Although no pictures were allowed inside, the feeling of sacredness stayed with me even after I left those corridors.
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Of course, Big Ben watched over us as we explored London.
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This was taken inside the Globe Theater (a world famous performing arts centre), of which I had the honor of returning to twice. I saw renditions of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night as well as Romeo and Juliet.
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The Rosetta Stone inside the British Museum in London. It is an artifact responsible for allowing us to finally understand Egyptian Hieroglyphics.

 

 

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Runnymede, the meadow in which the Magna Carta was signed.
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Windsor Castle: chalk-full of history and also acts as the Queen’s Summer home. (To our surprise, a few people in our group spotted Princess Kate near the walls of the castle).
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A lovely area within Anne Hathaway’s cottage’s garden. Anne Hathaway was William Shakespeare’s wife. By visiting here, we were able to catch glimpses of what life during Shakespeare’s time was like.
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The Martyrs’ Memorial in Oxford commemorates the deaths of three Anglican bishops during the period of Queen “Bloody Mary’s” reign. They were executed in the square for their faith.
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Christ’s Church’s garden within Oxford. The colors here were breathtaking.
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A gorgeous view of Oxford atop University Church of St. Mary the Virgin’s tower. We climbed so many flights of stairs up a tiny, winding structure.
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The Eagle and Child Pub was where C.S Lewis (author of the Chronicles of Narnia) and J.R.R Tolkein (author of the Lord of the Rings) spent hours discussing story ideas and philosophy.
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C.S Lewis’ quaint home.
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William Shakespeare’s grave within Holy Trinity Church. The air was heavy with a sort of awe and sadness.
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The medieval Warwick castle was developed from an original built in 1068 by William the Conqueror. The castle surrounded the small town of Warwick, as well as our hotel.
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This is a photo of the astounding Tintern Abbey, which was a monastery dating back to the 10th century. We actually had to travel to Wales to get here. (I would have spent days in Wales if I could).
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Standing inside the monastery, with the mountains looming behind the large window frames, I just had a feeling that a higher power stood with us.
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Last photo of Tintern Abbey, I promise.
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The ancient Roman Baths in the lively city of Bath. Musicians were scattered across the streets; you couldn’t help but feel happy here.
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More Roman baths with the original, ancient statues standing guard atop the edifice.
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Buckingham Palace, home of the Queen.
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We witnessed the changing of the guards from Buckingham Palace; it is a summer daily ritual in which scores of horses, guards, and a marching band occupy the streets for a few minutes of each day.

In total, I ended up taking over five hundred photos. Looking back, I’m glad that I did.

Let me know if you have memories traveling, or have photos to share! I’d love to see them and hear about them.

 

All photos taken by Hannah Butcher
©2BorNot2B. All rights reserved.

Coin Laundry

It is seven in the morning. The sun barely grazes her fingers across the horizon’s bare back, and she kisses his shoulder as if she is afraid to wake him. Soon, though, he will open his eyes and rumble the lakes and rivers to life; he will start tsunamis; he will open reservoirs. The sun savors this loving silence until she can no longer.

The laundromat is quiet except for the metallic tinkling of the intercom. My mother has been alert (she’s always fueled by Dunkin’ Donuts caffeine) since 4:00 AM, heart thumping rapidly since she unsealed her eyes. The hairs on her arms stand upright like millions of masts, and her muscles are rolling oceans still tense from the fight she had with my father last night. She wrings her hands and shifts her feet.

I sit in a cold, plastic chair. A water bottle I had coerced from the vending machine sits unopened on the floor, condensing into a pool of water between my mother and me. Groggily, I watch the puddle shift and expand, crawling toward the chrome appliances.

My eyelids droop downward like old fabric and my head sinks forward as if I am about to fold in half. I think about the whirring of machinery; my little shoulders slump into the chair and my head bobs forward. I am slipping in and out of reality. The world is a washing machine. I can make out the faint tapping of my mother’s impatient foot, the jingling of the quarters in her purse. People fall and fold into each other; they tangle and unknot; the suds between them shift and squish. It is a slippery kind of relationship.

I wonder why the continents don’t slide in their places across frictionless planes. After all, the world’s people cling to one another with Dawn Soap arms. Their skins rub and slip, warm flesh against warm flesh, popping watery bubbles. And, after the sliding is over, after the fingers rake through sudsy hair, a new body tumbles into another, and He begins a new cycle.

Some people claim the world began with the Big Bang.

I say that God simply pushed a coin into a laundry mat.

 

Written by Hannah Butcher
©2BorNot2B. All rights reserved.

Leaving For England (Balancing Risks and Rewards)

Happy Wednesday!

I know I have not posted in a while, and I deeply apologize for that. This month has been so incredibly busy, especially as I’ve been preparing for a trip overseas. I did mention this a few posts back, but in case you missed it, I will be leaving the states in just a few days to study English literature in the UK.

As a girl who has never set foot outside of the Western hemisphere, I am very much terrified of taking such a large leap. The whole prospect is petrifying. In movies, travelers are always so confident in who they are, so strong in their knowledge. Then, there’s me: a seventeen-year-old who barely knows herself. Insecurities tangle inside me and the thorns threaten to prick my lungs. Simply thinking about traveling alone sends my stomach twisting into knots.

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However, despite my doubts, I am anticipating this trip to be the start of a fruitful travelling career.  I know that going to England will be one heck of an opportunity, and I’m very excited to be able to grasp it and learn about our most influential literary artists as I go.

There are big questions I am often asked: Will you be safe in England right now? Why are you going to a country that has weathered so much terrorism this month alone? Why are you willingly taking so many risks? 

My counter question is this: Why not? 

The rewards of collecting new memories in a foreign country far outweigh the risks of another terrorist attack. The rewards include education, freedom, experience, inspiration, and culture. These are priceless things that no one can take away from you.

Right now, millions of hearts and prayers go out to London, England, and all victims of terrorism. I know that this will be enough to protect me.

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I hope to write more for you all while I’m away. I’m excited to share my experiences, and perhaps I’ll write a bit of original pieces as well. Maybe England will be the perfect piece of inspiration I’ve needed for so long.

If you have any travel experiences, advice, or add-ons of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments below! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

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