Did I Ever Tell You About The Time I Almost Died? (and other great conversation openers that are totally/mostly exaggerated)

AKA, The Longest Blog Title EVER. It occurred to me the other day that there were some stories that I didn’t blog from my time on the boat, or from general life, for various reasons.

Some of these are stories that are just hard to explain through words; others, were too nerve-wracking and I didn’t want to worry my parents until I was home (I played it down, you know, like, I almost fell off of the boat today. But I’m okay! How was your day? That type of thing).

So I thought I would share 20 of my favorite stories and/or revelations about my time on the boat, in short form, with you today. For the full story, complete with voice inflection and hand gestures, ask me in person and I’ll be happy to entertain you 🙂

1). I almost fell off of the boat one time.

2). Crap! It happened again! Only from the deck, and a wave was involved.

Photo: Author’s Collection

3). Ugh, it smells like fish. I guess that could be because of the fishing boats.

4). Why are sea lions so annoying?

5). Crab pots everywhere!

6). One time, I was supposed to get off the boat for a sail off, and I just fell asleep on my bunk.

7). I loved the mizzen on Chiefy. It was my favorite sail to furl, and I got fairly good at it (at least, I was told to teach someone else how to do it, so I had to be at least proficient).

8). I worked on a historic tallship, and would go to museums on my days off. And Starbucks’ and bookstores.

9). I brought 7 books on the boat, and came back with more.

10). I only got seasick on the boat after my uncle died, and anytime I ate fresh fruit before a transit.

11). Sailing reminded me of the power and majesty of God. He can calm the sea, which could easily kill me, and He still loves me.

Crossing the Columbia Bar Photo: Author’s Collection

12). The garbage pile at the Army Corp Dock in the Bay reminded me that sometimes I really hate people.

13). No books with large sharks or monsters for me; I only read books about catastrophes occurring on land while at sea, thank you very much.

14). What is this Doctor Who show you people watch?

15). Well, thank goodness we’re near the Coast Guard Station.

16). No, I am not going to let you 5th graders walk the plank.

17). Oh my gosh, someone was almost squashed!

18). Tango, it happened again; different person, same spot.

Main Mast Photo:Author’s Collection

19). We just pulled ourselves to the dock. Because upper body strength and engine trouble.

20). Well, hello, bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Bonus: No, the Korean War did not happen in 1776.



My Life is Weird, and Other Thoughts


NOTE: I found half of this, unpublished, on my old blog. I thought I’d spiff it up and share it here.  I assume I started it around the time I finished grad school.

I’m going to be brutally honest here. Grad school kind of sucks. It’s hard, writing a thesis is a miserable experience and I didn’t look at a train for, well, days, after I finished school. I can’t help it; I love trains! My master’s thesis in anthropology examined the impact of the railroad on the small town of Sandpoint, Idaho between the years 1880 and 1935, looking at the archaeological records, archival material and additional sources. I am proud of my thesis; I poured two years of my life into that thing, AND I paid someone to let me write it. I got great experience in Collections Management and learned all about archaeology and the policies that govern the field.

But, while in grad school, I learned something unexpected.

I had always imagined myself as a curator of archaeological collections, also qualified to work in the field (because, let’s be honest, working in the field is exhausting, sweaty and amazingly fun). But while I was at school, I realized that I really missed the boats. And not just the freedom and amazing-ness of being part of the crew of a square-rigger, no. I really missed my job as the cat-herder and PR Ninja. In short, as the StewCo (or Education Coordinator/Steward, if you prefer).

This was a strange thing to learn, halfway through my final year at grad school for a different field.

I wanted to be an educator. I ignored the impulse for a while (I was in school still, and determined to graduate), but then I started making lesson plans in my head. I finally thought, maybe I should go back to school to get certified? And, this year, I have.

Also, in an effort to not lose all my hard work getting over heights, I tried climbing things. I quickly realized that if I didn’t have a clear purpose up there, even if I was properly and securely fastened, it was not going to happen. I would freeze up. My body literally would not move. I felt a strange sense of deja vu. I think it was because I didn’t have a job to do and I wasn’t even going to get to see a kick-ass view. Just the top of some plastic rocks and for no real reason.

Furling Photo: Author’s Collection

So I realized that was all dumb, and I don’t climb things anymore. I assume that when I go back to the boats (someday, please, someday!), I’ll have to climb things again (but I hope that it’ll be less painful this time, because I know the benefits). I was pretty good at furling the mizzen, and I adored the headrig. It was just the yards that I hated.

That, in short, is the story of how I, Miss “I Never Want To Teach,” ended up back at school, working on getting her certification to teach middle-schoolers history and/or English.

I feel like my life is proof that God has a sense of humor. Not in a mean way, just that He chuckles at my antics quite a bit.

Just For Fun…

In one of my classes, we had to write a genre parody. I chose to parody the listicle genre, and am sharing it here for your reading pleasure 🙂

Disclaimer: All photos and memes are the property of their owners (and quite fantastic).

“Five Things You Should Do If You Have a Boat and a Storm Is Coming”

Most ships, at some point or another, encounter a storm of some kind. Some storms, like hurricanes, can be dangerous and sometimes the ships do not make it through them, like the tallship Bounty or the cargo ship El Faro. Luckily, humans have years of sailing experience that, while they cannot entirely guarantee your safety, can go a long way to helping keep you and the rest of the crew safer. From the smaller squall to the hurricane, here are five things to consider if you’re sailing and suspect a storm:

Photo: TheMetaPicture.com

#1 Can a Football Be Used as a Flotation Device?
Not all harbors are created equal. Some harbors will just funnel the storm in and bang all the ships inside it together. The main advantage here is that the crew is not on board. A former sea captain told “Popular Mechanics” that you really want to find a port that has natural protection from the storm’s wind, thus preventing additional damage to the vessel.


“The Two Natural Reactions to Seeing a Dinosaur” Photo: Huffington Post Parent


#2 Can boats catch on fire?

If there’s not enough weight to your vessel, it is more inclined to roll about. Additional weight, or ballast, provides a bit more balance. Also, all cargo should be firmly latched or tied down (sea-stowed) to prevent sliding of everything. Have you ever been hit by a sliding bench? It hurts.

Photo: Asian American Comparative Collection

#3 Is it possible for large marine life to swallow my ship whole?

While it is always possible to be in a storm at sea, and all ships from the historic style tallships to the modern cargo ships are made to weather some storms, larger storms like hurricanes are not to be trifled with. Although it can seem like a safer bet to be on the open sea than in a port, the recent sinking of the tallship Bounty proves that the safety window is smaller than one thinks. Especially in heavier, more intense storms.

Photo: Author’s Collection

#4 Will my data plan cover me if I’m at sea?

If you are on deck and there’s rough weather, don’t take any chances. Wear your climbing harness and make sure you are attached to the boat. This way, you have a less likely chance of falling overboard. Also, if you’re about to go on deck, make sure to announce it so that your crewmates know, and let them know when you’re returning below (and always proceed with caution).

baby seals
Photo: iwastesomuchtime.com

#5 My boat is leaking, should I stop cooking dinner and see what’s up?

Your captain and first mate are Coast Guard certified and they and the rest of the officers have probably done this before, at least in some level of storm. In an expected storm, they have considered all the possibilities before setting sail or making the calls they have made, and in unexpected storms, they still consider all possibilities. You may be scared, but panic only spreads and mutiny can still be punished by death if you’re far enough out at sea, as a former captain of mine liked to tell us before a transit. No matter what the storm, everyone on board has a job to do. Stay calm, and do it.

Photo: Author’s Collection

Every ship will go through a storm at least once, and there are measures that we can take to make our time at sea that much safer. Just remember, always announce when you’re on deck, and try not to fall on top of your friends.


Informational Sources
















Narnia A-Thon!

There are a few things that I very nerdy about. King Arthur, Sherlock Holmes, history (particularly the West), trains, tall-ships, the works of Tolkien, animation, Robin Hood, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and the works of CS Lewis.

Obviously, there are more things I nerd out about, but this is the core group. Sad, right? This post, however, is devoted to one particular facet of my nerdy core- The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. As an aside, I’m very curious and intrigued by the reboot that will be done soon, with a lot of input from the Lewis Estate.

Fingers crossed.

I decided the other day (well, it’s been a few weeks now, these things take time), because I am a nerd like that, that I was going to watch the versions of the Narnia Chronicles that came out in the 2000’s, but also watch the older BBC versions, to see how they compare. Because I’ve read the series so often, I feel like I can compare them to the book as well.

the dawn treader fox and walden media
The Dawn Treader Photo: 20th Century Fox & Walden Media

Basically, I love to watch movies based on beloved books, and compare them to each other and to the book. It’s my idea of fun.

So, without further ado, The Narnia Chronicles!

First of all, if you’re going to base this on sheer accuracy, the BBC versions would win any contest, hands down. In many places, the dialogue is ripped right out of the book.

If you ask any bookworm, we will tell you that this is how we prefer our film adaptations.

The only way that the new Narnia movies might possibly win any contest is when you compare the Lucys and Edmunds. Don’t get me wrong, I love both characters in both adaptations, and they are my favorite characters in the series, and both for different reasons (but that’s another post). Even in the last two movies (ugh, so bad), they made it bearable.

Queen Lucy the Valiant
Georgie Henley as Lucy      Photo:Disney & Walden Media

I loved Georgie Henley’s wide-eyed innocence and the wonder she was able to convey; she just seemed like Lucy to me (also, I loved that the kids were all different ages. In the BBC one, I kept thinking Susan was the oldest and Peter and Edmund were twins).

I also really loved the way Skandar Keynes played Edmund. I can’t think of any other way to say it other than that it seemed like he stepped off of the pages of the book. His early, bratty behavior, his redeemed self, the undercurrent of snarkiness…all of these are things were present and great.

Even when things were different than the books, he was still the character. Same with Georgie Henley as Lucy. I felt like they got it, and that was neat.

new pevensies walden media disney
The Disney & Walden Media Pevensies Photo: Disney & Walden Media

In the BBC versions, the actors were great too, but they didn’t quite match up with what was in my head, and I do like the actors in the new version as well. In the BBC version, Peter and Susan more on point, but the Lucy and Edmund fell a little flat for me.

The first movie, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, looks pretty good on both sides. I mean, the story feels better adapted in places in the BBC one, but the new one isn’t bad, and it gets points because of the new Lucy and Edmund, as well as the special effects.

Prince Caspian and Dawn Treader, however, are a different story. The new ones, I watch and find myself annoyed. There are parts I like, of course. I was disappointed to not have the “Sorcery and Sudden Vengeance” chapter in there, but I liked what they did with it, particularly in relation to the character of Edmund. He has the best lines.

king edmund the just king of sass
Skandar Keynes as Edmund Photo: Disney & Walden Media

My problems with the new ones were as follows: I wish that Caspian had been younger, I hated the love story (the Star’s Daughter! Plus, book Caspian would have fallen for Lucy. Nothing against Susan, that’s just what I think), and that stupid fight in the castle was out of place. Susan fighting didn’t bother me too much (any irritation was due to the fact that in the books, it was Lucy who would fight with the archers, not Susan, but I’ll give them that one).

However, Peter Dinklage is wonderful as Trumpkin, and the BBC Trumpkin is also wonderful. Basically, that’s another character that I love equally in both films. Both men are able to convey the correct level of skepticism that makes Trumpkin such a wonderful character.

peter dinklage as trumpkin walden media and disney
Peter Dinklage as Trumpkin Photo: Disney & Walden Media

When it comes to Prince Caspian, for a blockbuster action movie, the new one is good. For a Narnia movie, it feels s a little out of place. The BBC version, however, old-school effects aside, is fantastic and follows the book wonderfully.

For the BBC productions, I appreciate  how Caspian and Dawn Treader were on the same disc. Since Caspian  is, I would argue, no one’s favorite book in the series, pairing it with Dawn Treader, my personal favorite, was a stroke of genius. I also like how in the beginning of Caspian, they are headed to their respective adventures in Treader. It’s a nice cohesive move. Well done, BBC, well done.

the pevensies and the mr beaver bbc
The BBC Pevensies, Mr. Beaver and a Faun Photo: BBC

Overall, I love the BBC Prince Caspian. Caspian is a better age in this version, and they do a better job, I think, of setting up the story of Caspian. Not to say Ben Barnes didn’t do a good job, but this kid had, I think, a better script (at least when you compare it to the books. Which I do). Plus, Sorcery and Sudden Vengeance!

When it comes to Dawn Treader, the BBC film is long enough to put all the wonderful things that got cut out of the new movie (rant points pending below). The only thing is, I really don’t like the BBC Caspian in Dawn Treader. His acting is good, but he never looks like how I pictured Caspian to me.

Two of my favorite parts in the book are the Deathwater Island scene and the Dragon’s Island scenes, and although I thought both the new and the BBC versions of them got the spirit of both scenes, I wasn’t thrilled with either.

In the BBC Deathwater scene, Lucy got involved in the fight and it actually becomes a fight. I did like the Deathwater scene in the new one, because even though there were differences from the book, I thought it was acted in a way that conveyed the spirit of the scene. However, it also turned into a fight.

The scene also continued in the trend of the new films to make conflict between Peter and Caspian (Prince Caspian), and Edmund and Caspian (Voyage of the Dawn Treader), over leadership roles. Another thing added with the stupid subplot of trying to find the missing swords to save the people from the green mist, but that’s another story.

lucy stops the fight 20th century fox and walden media
Lucy Stops the Fight at Deathwater Photo: 20th Century Fox & Walden Media

However, while the dragon scene was good enough in both, the BBC one had a better representation of the transformation, but the new one had a better dragon. Despite that, I missed the interaction between Edmund and Eustace, and had looked forward to seeing the transformation of Eustace from dragon and back to boy. On the other hand, at least the BBC Dawn Treader had things in order. The new one just moved things around and changed things. I was equally disappointed in both versions.

Also, the new Dawn Treader had that stupid thing with the green mist and the swords, and, honestly, I stopped paying attention after a while because there was so much new stuff. I got annoyed, I just wanted to see stuff from the book that I loved, so I decided to read the book instead.

This is how you tick off fans and lose the rights to your story.

I get that they were trying to make the story flow together in a more cohesive way, but the book was tied together in a cohesive way; the search for the seven lords and the adventures that they had while searching. There was no need for an added conflict; Lewis wrote conflict enough in the book already. Combined with the adventure, it remains a wonderful book.

Having never seen The Silver Chair before, I was really excited and, like all the BBC Narnia movies, the only way it disappointed was in the outdated special effects and Caspian’s hair. I’m just impressed that they got to make The Silver Chair, less people probably call it their favorite than Prince Caspian.

puddlegum bbc
Puddleglum the Marshwiggle Photo: BBC

Overall, both series have their good points (one is better at story and one is better at special effects). While I realize that the BBC version was groundbreaking in it’s day when it came to special effects, the new movies just look so good! Except for Dawn Treader. No amount of special effects can make me like that movie.

I want to take the script from the BBC version (or something similar to it) and have it made today, with the same special effects budget that the new versions had. This is what I’m hoping we get in new films.

repicheep 20th century fox and walden media
Reepicheep Photo: 20th Century Fox & Walden Media

Fingers crossed.

Christ is King Sunday

So, I know Advent  has already started, but I wanted to take some time to backtrack to one of my favorite Sundays other than Easter, Christ is King Sunday.

If you aren’t familiar with Advent, it’s basically the month of December and the time that the Church recognizes and begins to look forward to Christ’s coming at Christmas, and also looks toward His second coming.

I heard a great Christ is King sermon on the 27th of November, and I want to share my musings with all of you. I will be honest, some of this is from the sermon, and some of it is my own ramblings. A lot of things were ideas that the pastor touched on and my brain just took off running, down several rabbit trails. Seriously, my brain sometimes looks like an ant farm.

The pastor read out of Revelation 22, and I have to tell you, the first five verses make me wish I could paint. I can just see it in my head, and I wish I could transfer it to paper. Just read this, and see what comes into your head.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And the night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5.

Beautiful, right?

Just like Revelation is a strange book, Christ is King Sunday is strange day. To me, it’s always felt kind of sandwiched in there, like someone thought, “We need to do SOMETHING with that Sunday before Advent starts. Do we have a Christ is King Sunday already? Let’s go with that.” Thank you, Church founders.

I heard a great sermon recently that used the verses in Revelation to remind us that this world here is not the end. Christ is coming back, and when He does, it’s going to be amazing and beautiful and we will praise Him all day. Amen.

Revelation also has verse 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, but something that struck me during this sermon is that God isn’t just the beginning and the ending, He’s every letter in between.

He’s the A and the Z, but He’s also the G and the W. Everything that exists is made by and loved by God, and while that can be hard to see in our broken world, I believe that everything that is happening breaks God’s heart much more than it could ever break mine.

There’s a song that I heard recently where someone was yelling at God to do something and God replies, “I did do something, I gave you a heart for your world and sent you to do my work.”

This really struck a cord in me, because it’s easy to say, “Hey God, our world’s a mess. Make it better, okay?” and much harder to say, “So, God, when I said, ‘Here I am, Lord, send me,’ I did mean it. What can I do to help heal my broken world?” Christ is King, but He gives us a choice in how we respond to Him.

I always think of God’s will and plan for my life as a GPS system, God knows where I started and where I’m going, and He knows the best route to get there. But sometimes, I miss the exit, or I don’t want to take the scenic route, or I have to take an earlier exit for some reason or my car explodes. God works with me and just reroutes the trip. I have a choice whether or not to follow the directions, but I’ve discovered it’s easier to do it God’s way and not my way.

Lots of verses in Scripture say that Christ is King, but that seems like a weird concept to me sometimes. A King is someone who, in some ways, has complete control over what his subjects do and say. And, let us all be honest. We like the freedom of choice. I like making decisions.

But, if I am saying that I am a Christian, I am saying that I am not in control of my life anymore, God is. I have given up the drivers seat, I am trusting my GPS unit, or whatever weird analogy works for you.

It boils down to this, God is not my advisor, He plans the trip and directs me where to go. Or, better yet:

God’s kingdom is not a democracy.

Not when He comes again, and not now.

God’s kingdom is not a democracy. And really, even if it was, would my vote REALLY be worth as much as His? That’s just illogical.

Nope. I don’t get to say, “Maybe we could try it this way, God, and see what happens,” and He says, “Oh, you outvoted me!” No, when God says “Jump,” I need to be willing to say, “Okay God, if You say so,” and jump.

I mean, I talk back to God all the time, but for me, it’s more of an obnoxious two-year old asking “Why?” all the time, just wanting to know and not trying to be rude; and I think that God knows that and chuckles a bit.

When God gives me commandments, whether in Scripture or my day-to-day life, I don’t get to pick and choose which I follow. They are not guidelines, they’re actual rules.

amazon pirate book
We are not pirates. Photo: Amazon

This is scary. It’s scary to say “Okay, where You lead, I will follow,” and then doing it. But it doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that God won’t lead us into dangerous places. I have a pastor who said, “If it does, someone find me that verse, because I want to put it on my fridge.”

No, what God promises us is that He will never leave us or forsake us. When Moses tries to talk God out of sending him to Pharaoh, God tells him, “Go. I will be with you and teach you what to say” (Ex 4:12).

Sometimes, God calls us to do things that are dangerous and scary, and He promises to go with us. Following God and obeying Him can be dangerous, but it’s always worth it.

It reminds me of the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, (yeah, I’m a huge Tolkien nerd. Sorry not sorry) where Bilbo points out that it’s dangerous going out of your door, because if you don’t watch your feet, you don’t know where they’ll take you. I think God calls us to let Him be our feet, letting Him take us where He leading us.

In the end, it’s always worth it, because God’s plan is so much better than mine could ever be.

The idea that Christ is in charge and is coming back also reminds me of when I was a kid and my parents would go into town, leaving a list of chores that they wanted done, or at least started and well underway, by the time they got back.

When I was older and cell phones were a thing, they would call before they left the store and tell us that they were 20 minutes away. When I was a bit younger, you just had to estimate that you had about 40 minutes to get things done, but it could be shorter and it could be longer.

Either way, my siblings and I knew Mom and Dad were coming back. They were probably bringing doughnuts, and it was exciting, not just because of the doughnuts but because we love our parents and couldn’t wait to see them again (even though it had only been 40 minutes).

However, we knew that we had better be doing what we were supposed to be doing when they got home. That list of chores wasn’t a suggestion. For me, it added a level of terrifying to the excitement; what if I wasn’t doing things correctly? Why did I read for 15 minutes instead of just jumping into my chores? And the list goes on.

I think that’s how it is when God says He’s coming back, only we don’t have a real minute-by-minute estimate and He’s not calling on His cell phone when he’s 20 minutes out.

My last thoughts on Christ is King comes from an interview I overheard (in my defense, they were being really loud). Someone claimed that every time a Christian talks to a non-believer, if the non-believer doesn’t leave the conversation saved, that’s a failure on the part of that Christian.

That’s just not based in Scripture at all. Paul mentions at least once that we don’t know where other people are in their walk, that’s between them and God. Some of us plant the seed, some water, some nurture, sometimes we do a bit of all three, but when the plant blooms isn’t always something we need to know.

And, frankly, if we do what God tells us to do and share His love with the world, it’s none of our business. Again, it’s between the person and God and not for me to crow over or add to my Bible that I saved so and so. I didn’t do anything. God did.

The instance I’m thinking of is in 1 Corinthians 3:5-14. Paul goes a bit further, adding a metaphor about building, but it’s a same basic thing.

The last thing that I overheard that I want to address was an example of God being on trial when non-believers ask questions about Him and Him being in the criminal’s seat while we are His lawyers.

Apparently, when God is on trial, we can say, “Don’t worry God, I got this.” This made me uncomfortable for one major reason.

My God doesn’t need me to defend Him. He is the Lord of all creation, the A and the Z and all the letters in-between, and He’s got this.

He is the Judge and the Jury and the Executioner, but He is also our Lawyer. We are in the criminal box, and the only person who can pass a sentence is also the person who died for our sins and therefore won’t, Jesus Christ.

To me, Christ is King Sunday is a reminder that my God is just and He is my King. He gave me rules and guides me, and I should probably do what He says. But if I mess up, like I do, He offers me grace and mercy that I don’t deserve. And that’s pretty awesome.

I hope you enjoyed my musings. If you want to think on this and comment, feel free to, but if you don’t, it’s no skin off my nose 🙂 It’s really between you and God anyway.

Have a wonderful day!







Trauma at the Hands of a Book

I had grand plans for my first post to be something serious, but then I found this that I had written and never posted, so I thought, eh. The best laid plans. So, here it is. This is one of the things that you can expect from me (with some serious things in there occasionally).

I know it sounds cliché, but I enjoy thinking about books that influenced or impacted me as a kid. When I wrote the original post, I had been talking with my sister and her roommate about the Hobbit Movies (which I may talk about here later), which morphed into a discussion of the most traumatic childhood reading deaths.

So here, for your enjoyment, are the top fifteen traumatic book moments from my childhood at the hands of brilliant authors. Seriously, read these books. Obviously, here be spoilers.

Of course, these are cut off at the end of my childhood, so series like The Hunger Games, The Lunar Chronicles, and A Song of Ice and Fire are out (though all are highly recommended).

(Spoilers for the Anne of Green Gables Series, Little Women, The Redwall Series, Jurassic Park, The Hobbit, Bridge to Terebithia,  Harry Potter, Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, and  Meet Addy: An American Girl).

15. Old Yeller in Old Yeller. I put this here because I never read the book-the movie was too sad and I wasn’t going to walk myself right into THAT sob-fest. I’ve heard it’s a great book, but that several boxes of tissues are required.

14. The fact that Jo and Laurie don’t get together in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Less traumatic, more disappointing; I kept hoping that they would figure it out. I can understand it, talking to other people I see the reasons that they didn’t get together, but I did want him to figure out that he couldn’t change her (and that he didn’t really want to).

13. Joy’s death in Anne’s House of Dreams by LM Montgomery. Joy was the first child of Anne and Gilbert, and she died soon after her birth. She only had a few pages, but those few pages conveyed grief and did make a mark on my young self.

12. Beth March’s death in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. When I reread Little Women, I skip this section. Beth March was never my favorite, I always liked Meg best (though Jo was cool too), but I remember being very upset. Why do people keep killing off main characters?!

11. Mrs. Bankvole and Friar Hugo from Mattimeo by Brian Jacques. Before George RR Martin started killing off innocent characters, there was Brian Jacques. These two were causalities of Slagar the Cruel’s revenge plot and his kidnapping of all the children of Redwall Abbey. One of my favorite books, these deaths brought a reality to this fictional world and made me fear for the other characters.

10. Rose from Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques. Seriously, Mr. Jacques? She dies a hero, but still, it was awful that she did die. I remember hating this book, and I think that was part of the reason.

9. Where the Red Fern Grows. Just…the whole book. The second book I ever cried at. That ending. Still cry.

8. John Hammond in Jurassic Park by Michael Crighton. Poor idiot, just trying to let kids see dinosaurs only to be eaten by compys. If I had thought this book would have a happy ending for anyone (even the survivors were traumatized!), this proved me wrong. The creator killed by his creation (very Frankenstieny of you, Mr. Crighton).

7. Veil in The Outcast of Redwall by Brian Jacques. The basic idea of this book is that a ferret is raised by a mousemaid in Redwall Abbey (the former being generally evil in the Redwall Universe) and he struggles to overcome his father’s legacy of evil and the evil he fears inside of him. His father ferret is also engaging in war with Sunflash the Mace, the coolest Badger Lord ever written. In the end, Veil embraces the Dark Side and runs away to join his father. His adopted mother goes after him, with some amazingly written consequences.

6. Matthew Cuthbert’s death in Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. This is high up here because Matthew Cuthbert was an amazing character and his death was really sad. It was also one of the first times a major character was killed off; I loved the balance he added to the Green Gables family. LM Montgomery never replaced him, but she gave Anne and Marilla other characters to love, and Matthew’s legacy lived on, at least to readers.

5. I was a big fan of the American Girls books growing up, but the first book about Addy is one the most punch-packing thing I have ever read. It was written for a younger audience (eight or so), but man. First, Addy missed some little green worms while clearing the tobacco plants and is forced to eat them. Then, her father and brother were sold further South. There may have been a whipping involved too. Then Addy and her mother escape North, but they have to leave their baby behind.

I was so furious that this kind of thing happened to people, that I followed up with some reading on the Trail of Tears and Japanese Internment during WWII. (It took me a year or so to be proud to be an American again; I finally realized that great countries can do terrible, awful things, but we can’t let them define us, just make sure they never happen again). This book set the stage for the rest of the Addy series, and made her the bravest girl I had ever read about.

4. Methusialeah’s death in Redwall by Brian Jacques. I know that any death I put after my childhood realization of the horrors of slavery is going to look silly, especially when this one is a mouse, but this one really got me. Actually, all the deaths in this book were pretty awful. Gossun the shrew’s death helped cement my fear of snakes and I felt bad for Stella the Vixen, even if she was treacherous.

3. Sirius Black’s death in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling. I have to not include books six or seven in here, because I was 18 and 20 when they came out (otherwise, several more deaths would be included here). But man! This death, I felt so bad for the guy. And Harry loses another father figure.

While Cedric Digory and Frank the Muggle from Goblet of Fire were shocking, Rowling spent three books getting us to like Sirius and imagining him as a Marauder. He was the first in a long line of major good guys that we had grown to love to bite the dust, and that makes his death all the more traumatic.

2.  Thorin and Fili and Kili’s deaths in The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien This is one of the first books that I remember reading on my own, so this one certainly packed a punch. I remember feeling that these three characters were safe (why would Tolkien kill the king and BOTH his heirs?) But no. Thorin was killed saving the others, and Fili and Kili killed trying to save him. Thanks a lot JRR. Thanks a lot.

1. Leslie’s death in Bridge to Tereabithia by Katherine Paterson. I feel like anyone who says they didn’t cry at this was lying. I had never cried at a book before, but I just bawled.