Story: “There Has Been An Awakening”

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve written here on my blog… but I remembered something today that inspired me to post this.

Today, December 18th, 2017, marks the two-year anniversary of the night I first saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As you can read in my review, I loved the movie and still do, so much that I wrote a story about it for my Creative Writing class this semester. So, I thought it would be cool to celebrate this occasion by sharing that story here on my blog.

I hope you enjoy! Also, I’ll be writing my review of The Last Jedi here quite soon, so keep your eyes open if that interests you!

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star-wars-force-awakens-official-poster

“There Has Been an Awakening”

~*~*~*~

November 28th, 2014. The trailer was released. For days, it was all anyone could talk about.

Anyone who wasn’t me, that is.

I had already made a solemn vow to myself that I would avoid it all. Trailers, news articles, YouTube videos, clothing and toys—anything that gave even the slightest hint at what was to come. It all had to go. I was going dark.

Whenever I tried to explain this to people, they stared. Or laughed. Or simply looked exasperated as they said: “Oh, come on! It looks sooooooooo good!”

I was adamant. I explained to them that this meant a lot to me. For many, it was simply a great series of movies. But for me, and countless others, it meant so much more than that.

“I don’t want to know anything,” I told them. “This movie is really important to me. I want to be surprised. I don’t want any part of it to be spoiled . . . nothing. Not even what the new characters look like! I want it all to be completely new and fresh when I finally see it on opening day.”

It didn’t matter to me that people still sometimes thought I was nuts. All that mattered was that, in just over a year’s time, the Force would awaken once again.

~*~*~*~

Star Wars. Two small words. So simple, yet so powerful.

I could still recall the feeling I had at the age of five, when my family gathered in the basement in front of our old tube TV to watch a movie together. My dad inserted the VHS tape of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope into the VCR. The lights went off, and my siblings and I joined my parents on the sofa’s pull-out mattress. I stared at the screen in anticipation, not knowing what to expect, not knowing that I was about to experience something sublime.

As soon as the movie was over, I had to let my feelings out somehow. All I could think to do was scream “that was so cool!” at the top of my lungs and run around the house making “pew pew!” laser sounds and pretending to swing a lightsaber, also with accompanying sound effects.

That one night of my childhood changed my life. It was more than just a movie; it was the gateway to my own powers of imagination. It was because of Star Wars that I began making up my own stories in my head. It was Star Wars that opened my eyes to the magic of movies and the power of a good story. Later in life, it was Star Wars that made me fall in love with film scores—and, subsequently, what made me fall in love with music and playing the piano.

Countless hours of my childhood were devoted to Star Wars. I pieced together LEGO kits of ships and scenes. I played video games starring LEGO versions of the characters and events. I pored over books detailing the galaxy far, far way, absorbing gobs of information that the majority of moviegoers didn’t care about.

I cared.

It was more than a movie. It was a universe that inspired me time and time again in so many ways, from the big picture of the story down to the smallest details: the parts of a lightsaber, the names of the planets that weren’t even seen in the films, all the different alien species, the cross-sections of the ships—you name it, I wanted to read about it.

Despite all this, my enthusiasm for Star Wars faded into the background as I entered high school. I still loved it, of course, but there had not been a new film for years. George Lucas had finished telling the story he wanted to tell, and I’d long since accepted that I would most likely never see any more Star Wars films than the six I already knew. The story was finished.

Right?

~*~*~*~

In 2012, I was a senior in high school, and my world was rocked by the news that George Lucas had sold his film company, Lucasfilm, to Disney. That included Star Wars. And Disney confirmed that new films were on the way, the first of which being the yet-to-be-titled Episode VII, due out in 2015.

I was ecstatic. The story that had inspired me so much, the story I thought was over, was continuing. As excited as I was, I tried to put it in the back of my mind. 2015 was a long way away, after all. However, I allowed myself to be giddy whenever a nugget of news came out about the movie over the next several months.

“J. J. Abrams has been confirmed as the director of Episode VII.” Awesome!

“John Williams will return to compose the score.” Fantastic!

“Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher will reprise their roles of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia.” Woohoo!

“The official title of Episode VII has been revealed: The Force Awakens.” Wow!

I was perfectly happy to enjoy this kind of news. But on November 28th, 2014, just over a year before the release of the new film, it was time to go dark.

~*~*~*~

I stuck to my guns. Three trailers in total were released over time. I didn’t watch a single one.

Oh, I couldn’t avoid everything. Otherwise, I would have had to disconnect from the Internet entirely, and probably never leave the house either. Neither was an option. So, I did come across a few things.

Within a day of the first trailer’s release, my Facebook feed blew up with pictures of the new villain and his untraditional lightsaber design.

Months later, after the second trailer dropped, I caught a glimpse of some promotional art next to the new merchandise while out shopping. It depicted a young man and woman. The man had dark skin, short black hair, and was wearing a tan leather jacket. The woman had fair skin, dark brown hair tied into three buns at the back of her head, and wielded a staff of some kind. I assumed these must be the two new main characters and lamented the fact that I’d seen them. At the same time, I couldn’t help but wonder who they were and what their stories would be.

With just one image, Star Wars was beginning to inspire me all over again.

Two months before the film came out, the official poster was released. I caved to my desires and looked at it. Mesmerized, I stared at it for a while and tried not to wonder too much about how everything on the poster would play into the film. The main characters I’d already seen loomed large, the woman with her staff and the man now holding a familiar blue lightsaber. The masked villain with the untraditional red lightsaber cast a huge presence, while a mixture of familiar and new faces peppered the rest of the poster: a grizzled old smuggler, a princess turned general, a daring pilot, a trio of droids, and more.

Along with the new poster came the final trailer, and some people were expecting me to have given up by this point and watched it. They were wrong.

Some said I was (and still am) obsessive. “I don’t know why you make such a big deal out of this. It’s just a movie. Just watch the trailer, man, it looks awesome!”

But I refused. The time was almost here, and all I wanted to know when I finally walked into the theater was one thing and one thing only:

I am about to see a brand-new Star Wars movie.

The rest would follow.

~*~*~*~

And follow it did. After years of waiting, of hoping . . . it was finally time. It was finally December 18th, 2015, a date I had obsessively been counting down to for months. I shivered along with my younger brother, my three younger sisters, and one of my two older sisters as we braved the biting, chilly wind to enter the theatre. I took in the familiar smell of popcorn and the sight of the purple carpeting as we approached the left hallway in which, I guessed, the line had already begun to form.

We had secured our tickets two months before. But I wanted to get the best seats possible. So, being the nut that I am, I had suggested that we get to the theater an hour and a half early, hoping we would be one of the first in line.

The plan worked. As we turned into the hallway, we saw that there were just four or five people already there. As my siblings and I got in line behind them, I grinned from ear to ear. Shortly afterward, three of my friends arrived and joined us: Abby (fellow nerd), Stephen (my best friend since before high school), and Eli (who had dressed up as director J.J. Abrams for the occasion, his hair spiked up and large thick glasses framing his face).

Everyone was here and accounted for. Now all we had to do was keep doing what we’d been doing for years.

Wait.

I didn’t mind too much for a while. I talked and laughed with everyone who had come with me, but all the while, anticipation grew to bursting point in my chest. As the minutes snailed by, a real crowd formed, and the enthusiasm in the air was tangible. Around 7 o’clock, I hopped up and down a little on the balls of my feet. Showtime was at 7:30. Any minute now and they’d open the auditorium doors.

I gasped as I watched the theater workers do just that.

Now it really, truly was time.

My companions moved with me amid a buzz of excitement. As we walked through the doors into the dim theater, I literally shook with nerves.

“Oh my gosh,” I said. “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh—”

“Are you excited, Matthew?” Eli asked, grinning.

“It’s happening,” I told him, my eyes wide. “It’s happening. This is real. This is really happening.”

I could hardly say anything else as we all found near-perfect seats around the middle of the auditorium. Not too far back, not too close, and not too far off-center.

The ads were a blur. The first couple of trailers passed without much thought on my part.

And then, I made a decision that almost ruined everything.

I didn’t really have to go at the moment. But I wasn’t taking any chances. I hated having to leave the theater to pee, and there was absolutely no way I was going to leave the theater during this movie. Not wanting to take that risk, I got up and left to use the restroom, thinking I still had plenty of time before the movie actually started. There would be at least another five trailers or so.

As I speed-walked back into the auditorium, though, the lights were dimming down.

I panicked.

As quickly and quietly as I could, I scrambled back to my seat. My companions looked relieved. They had clearly been panicking too, knowing how much I would hate missing even one second of the movie.

And just as I sat back down in my seat, it began. The word “Lucasfilm” slowly faded in and out on the screen in silence, and a hush fell over the crowd around me.

I held my breath as the next few words appeared.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .

I covered my mouth with my hands. I didn’t blink. I didn’t breathe.

And then, the orchestra blasted out of the speakers as the huge yellow words zoomed into the infinite field of stars.

STAR WARS

I smiled. I clapped and cheered along with everyone else. The joy was tangible. My smile only got bigger as more words scrolled slowly up the screen.

EPISODE VII

THE FORCE AWAKENS

Luke Skywalker has vanished. In his absence, the sinister FIRST ORDER has risen from the ashes of the Empire and will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed.

With the support of the REPUBLIC, General Leia Organa leads a brave RESISTANCE. She is desperate to find her brother Luke and gain his help in restoring peace and justice to the galaxy.

Leia has sent her most daring pilot on a secret mission to Jakku, where an old ally has discovered a clue to Luke’s whereabouts. . . .

For the next two-odd hours, I could hardly stop smiling. Just about everything was pitch-perfect.

I loved the two new main characters. Rey was strong, endearing, hopeful and vulnerable; Finn was brave, funny, and wore a big bounding heart on his sleeve.

I loved the new villain, Kylo Ren, a young man struggling with standing in the shadow of Darth Vader—his idol—and who lashed out unexpectedly with fierce venom.

I loved the new daring pilot, Poe Dameron, who was equally at home with wisecracks as he was with swashbuckling acts of heroism.

I loved the droids both familiar and new. I loved seeing Han, Leia, and Luke again. I loved the story, which felt familiar but with plenty of brand-new touches and twists. I loved the filmmaking skills on display: cinematography, lighting, editing, sound design, music.

And a couple of times, I was so awed by something that happened that I wanted with all my heart to leap out of my seat and scream for joy.

In other words, Star Wars was back.

For many people, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was just a movie. A good one, absolutely, but just a movie. For me, it was a rekindling of my childhood, my imaginative spirit, my love of great stories.

When I walked into the theater, I was a twenty-year-old college sophomore. For the entirety of the movie, though, I was once again a starry-eyed five-year-old sitting on a pull-out mattress in the basement watching an old movie on VHS with his family.

The Force had awakened, and it was with me once again.

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Novel Excerpt: A Crazy Dream Sequence

Apologies once again for the late post. I do usually post on Sundays, but this past Sunday was Easter, after all. Busy times. Deal with it. :P

Anyway. Recently, I randomly decided to open up the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo last November and skim through it, just for fun. Now, unfortunately, this novel turned out pretty badly — that is, most of it was really just me making up random nonsense as I went, so the whole thing just devolved into one big pile of slop. Part of this was due to lack of planning, but it was also due to my being in college for the first time.

However, as I was reading this novel, I actually found myself laughing. The dry, stream-of-consciousness tone I used a lot throughout the novel was actually making me crack up, and I had to stop reading because I was in the student union and I didn’t want to make a scene.

So, I thought I’d share the excerpt that was making me laugh, and hopefully it’ll make you laugh, too. Fair warning: this is extremely weird stuff that I was literally making up as I went along. Please do not think badly of me when you’ve finished reading it. Please.

You have been warned.

macrobringit


Ian floated along a sea of ice cream. It was really awesome. His boat was made of cream cheese, and how it managed to stay afloat above ice cream, he had no idea. It didn’t matter. Yelling with delight, he let down the anchor made of Pop Tarts and leaped out into the ice cream. Thankfully, it wasn’t soft serve, so he was able to lie on top of it. He didn’t even care about how cold it was. He dove right in, eating to his heart’s content. Mmmm. Chocolate.
He looked over to his right. There, the sun sat low in the sky, bathing all the ice cream in a savory orange glow, which was really pretty and all, but it also made it a bit more difficult to figure out what flavor was what. He thought he saw vanilla, but it was actually strawberry.
Strawberry.
He shouted, “Strawberry’s my favorite!”
And he ran across the ice cream sea to the strawberry part. After eating some, he made ice cream angels. This was way too much fun. Unfortunately, he soon felt a bit woozy. He had a really bad ice cream headache, and it wouldn’t go away.
Then he looked to the side and saw Ava standing there, for some reason dressed in a chicken suit.
“Ava, what are you doing in my dream?” he demanded. “You can’t have my ice cream! It’s mine. My own. My precious.”
“Shut up, geek,” she snapped. “I’m dressed like this because it’s Halloween. Duh.”
“No it isn’t,” Ian said. “It’s Hanukkah.”
“You don’t even celebrate Hanukkah.”
“Well, yeah, but today is Hanukkah.”
“No it’s not.”
“Prove it.”
“Okay,” Ava said. She pulled a calendar out from her suit. “Here, look. It’s the last day of October. That’s Halloween. Not Hanukkah.”
“Oh, whatever,” Ian sighed. “Just leave me alone with my ice cream.”
“Why do you love ice cream so much?” she asked, rolling her eyes. “I mean, yeah, ice cream is amazing and all, but I think you’re taking this a bit too far.”
Ian couldn’t believe his ears. Here was Ava, dressed in a chicken suit . . . a chicken suit. A CHICKEN SUIT. And she was trying to tell him that he was taking things too far. How dare she. How dare she at all. That sentence didn’t even make any sense, but you know what, we’re back to mindless padding again, so who cares anyway?
Ian stared at her. He stared long and hard. She just stood there, looking more like a chicken than ever. Finally, he decided that he could stand her no longer.
He pulled out a magic wand from his pants pocket.
“Where did you get that?” Ava asked.
He didn’t answer. He concentrated hard, and with the maaaaagical powers of imaaaaginaaaation, he brought to life a catapult. It was a really big one, too. Like really big. So big that it could launch an entire person. Well, I guess most catapults are already big enough to launch an entire person, but this one was so big that it could launch an entire person dressed in a chicken suit, like Ava was.
It was perfect. He grinned evilly at her. Then he pointed the wand at her and whispered the magic words to himself, which I will not utter in this narration, because a magician never reveals his secrets and all that stupid stuff. Then, Ava began to hover in the air. She screamed. She didn’t like it at all. She hated heights, or at least she did in this random dream sequence. Slowly, Ian raised her up even more and then brought her moving to the side, watching with delight as she kicked and flailed all the while.
“You, Ava, my nemesis, can never hope to escape the magical powers of Ian Campbell, lord of all wizards and cool stuff like that! I’m even cooler than Harry Potter! And Harry Potter is super cool, you know. He has cool friends, he went to a cool school, he had lots of cool adventures, he defeated Voldemort with cool magic stuff, and he is just so cool, you know what I’m saying? Oh, and his lightning scar is really cool, too. It’s lightning-y. I might even be cooler than Gandalf. Yeah, I am. Gandalf is cool and stuff, but I’m cooler than he is. Much, much cooler. He just wears a boring old white robe—but that is only if you are talking about when he comes back whiter than before, because otherwise he wears a boring old grey cloak. I wear cool clothes. So there.”
“Are you done rambling?” Ava shouted. “And let me down already! You’re mean. Like, so mean. Like meaner than Draco Malfoy, since you seem to be going on a Harry Potter tangent or whatever. Draco never levitated Harry, so why should you levitate me? I don’t like this. I want you to put me down NOW!”
Ian had timed things perfectly. He said, “Of course,” and he let her down.
It turns out that she had been hovering over the launching part of the catapult for the last few seconds, and Ian now seized his chance. He raised his wand, pointed it at the catapult, and using the maaaaaaagical spell of imaaaaaginaaaation, he shot Ava away somewhere across the end of the ice cream sea. He giggled like a toddler as he heard her screaming through the air.
Now that that was settled, he could get back to his ice cream. He kept eating to his heart’s content, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, there came a deer.
This was no ordinary deer. It was standing on its hind legs, giving it a freakish humanoid appearance in posture. Other than that, it did look rather normal, save one other feature: it had a long white beard a lot like Dumbledore’s. I know I just said that there was one other odd feature about the deer, but I lied. Now there is one more odd feature I want you to know about the deer: it was wearing glasses. Glasses and long beards help make people look wiser, and that was what the deer wanted to look like. Or at least I’m assuming so. The deer has never told me otherwise.
The deer looked at Ian. With a very serious expression, it asked him: “Do you love ice cream?”
Ian nodded. “Yes. I love ice cream. It’s mine. My own. My precious. I could eat it every day, every hour, every minute, every second. It’s amazingly super stupendously awesometastic and full of deliciousness and lots of cool stuff like that.”
The wise old deer nodded. “That makes perfect sense to me. Now, I have a suggestion for you.”
“Yeah? What’s that?”
“Are you listening?”
“Of course I’m listening. Wait a minute . . . you’re not going to suggest that I share my ice cream, are you? Because yes, I know there is a lot of it—heck, it’s an entire ocean—but I’m telling you, it’s mine, and no one else can have it. At all. Goodbye. The end.”
“Well, I was not going to suggest that you share your ice cream,” the wise old deer said, wisely and endearingly. (There was a pun in that last word. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you to find it. Once you’re done, laugh. Then move on to the next pitiful paragraph.) (Hey, I’m a poet!)
“What were you going to suggest, then?” Ian asked curiously, like a curious person. Notice how I said “like a curious person.” That means that he did not ask the question like Curious George. He was not a monkey, after all, and whatever scientists said, he did not believe that he was descended from monkeys or any sort of monkey creature . . . person.
The wise old deer smiled wisely and endearingly. “Maybe you should marry ice cream since you love it so much.”
Ian positively beamed with joy at this thought. “You mean it, deer guy with a beard? You really mean it? You really think I ought to marry ice cream?”
“I think so, yes,” the wise old deer said wisely and endearingly. “You have certainly proven yourself worthy of it. Why not give it a go? Then your spouse can truly become a part of you . . . when you eat it.”
“AWESOME!” Ian shouted. He closed his eyes and made a wish on a twinkly, sparkling, shining star that was only visible to naked mole rats, but that he knew was there anyway, because a little birdie told him that a turtle told him that an eagle told him that a flamingo told him that a purple elephant told him that a platypus told him that the naked mole rats had their own star. It’s pretty sick, actually. Sick meaning cool, you know.
What was the wish on this star that Ian made? He wished that his dream wedding to ice cream would come to life right before his eyes. And so it did. There was his bride, all in white, a tub of ice cream in a lovely vanilla dress standing next to him in front of an altar constructed of a block of ice cream.
“You look so beautiful,” he told his bride.
“Thank you,” his bride said, smiling. It is impossible to describe exactly what this looked like. It’s ice cream, after all. It doesn’t exactly have a face. And last I checked it doesn’t have the ability to talk. Then again, this is a dream scene, so that doesn’t matter now, does it?
Ian stared at his bride. “No really, you look so . . . so . . . beautiful . . . almost good enough to . . . to . . .”
“To what?” she asked.
“To . . . to eat.” He licked his lips.
And before the wedding ceremony could even take place, he had eaten his bride, dress and all. Thankfully, he hadn’t invited anyone to his wedding, otherwise people may have gotten just the teensiest tiniest bit frightened.


. . . Just like everyone who makes it to the end of this post!

Hopefully I’ll have a slightly more normal post for you guys next week!