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From Where I Stand

14 Apr

Everyone who’s spent eleven minutes in a first grade Sunday School class knows that you’re required to bow your head and fold your hands when you pray. It’s a requirement that gets less strict as you age. As far as I can tell, it’s mostly meant for littles to keep them from whispering while you bend the ear of the Great Creator to thank Him for letting you be in the same room as the food you’re almost allowed to eat.

I was okay with this rule as a tiny one, but I didn’t really get it. As I grew up and found out God could hear you regardless of what position your hands were in, I started to think maybe praying eyes-open-and-face-forward was superior to it. in any case, it seemed like the way big kids prayed. Folding your hands feels very first-grade after a while.

Now, flash-forward a few years to one of the maybe nine things I know now: the cool thing about praying is that there’s no wrong way to do it, as long as you’re being honest and know that you’re talking to the one who made you.

But still – I think posture does matter. Bear with me. Kick out that image of Mia Thermopolis being told that Princesses don’t slouch (weren’t you thinking of that scene? Get out of my face I’m always thinking about Princess Diaries).

Let me go ahead and point at some other people who say this better than I do.  I have a distinct memory of one middle school church service in which we were asked to assume a “posture of reverence” before praying. I also remember blinking a few times while I processed the request. Look, I was homeschooled, I wasn’t dumb. I knew what the words meant, but I only sort of got what he was saying. Mostly, it was a strange thing to hear from the person who said it – i.e., the game leader, i.e., the coordinator of so much sixth-grader on sixth-grader violence.

It was interesting to see how the group responded to our leader’s suggestion. A couple dozen middle school kids channeled their respect into their respective positions – some bowed their heads, some tilted their heads back, some closed their eyes, and some nodded through the prayer. Obviously, I peeked or I wouldn’t know this at all. Sorry James.

But I get it now.

Another church leader I knew just a few years ago used to ask the congregation to stand when he read from the Bible. This one was a jolly good time because in the bigger crowd of a grown-up service, there were more reactions. You heard a couple of complaints from the people behind you who had “just gotten comfortable” and you saw a few people hop to their feet like they were about to welcome in a bride on her wedding day. Still, everyone stood all the same.

(they got it then)

In the Good Friday church service tonight, the pastor talked about Jesus’ sacrifice. What else can you talk about on Good Friday? We talked about a crown of thorns being pressed down over Jesus’ forehead. We talked about how a man was mocked, flogged, nailed to a cross, and impaled.  We talked about how all this was done to Him not because of anything He had done or hadn’t done, but because they didn’t believe He was who He said He was.

Quick aside: I wonder what people outside of the church must think when we start to wax eloquent about this topic. Does it sound as morbid as I think it sounds? Look – I’ve been going to church for twenty years. If I know anything, I know that we use way more blood metaphors than is probably healthy.

But the thing about the story of Jesus is that just where it gets morbid, hopeless, and dark, it gets brilliantly bright. Jesus is alive. That’s why Easter is a celebration.

When the singing started again, there was a burst of energy in the mood. People danced and laughed and cried. As we slipped into the chorus of the song, our pastor asked everybody to raise their hands as a sign of surrender to God; I swear, arms went up so fast anyone would have thought they were waiting for permission.

It wasn’t just some mob mentality. It wasn’t a tired group of people following orders. What happened tonight, and what has been happening for thousands of years when Christians get together, was a posture of reverence. It was a physical reaction to a spiritual sensation.

Bodily posture isn’t the moral of this story. It’s wonderful, and it’s a form of worship, but mental posture is where we really need to hold that respect. Everything we do comes from our attitude and our intentions. It’s really what all communication is about. How would your manner change if you were about to have a conversation with the person who created the universe with all its sunsets and birdsong and oceans and orange trees and mountains – and then felt it just as necessary to create you? The person who loved you so much He died for you?

Someone I want to be when I grow up once said, “You will never fail to meet God if you bring Him with you.” It’s worth a mention that God does not groan about having “just gotten comfortable” when you ask Him to come along. So why are you hurting yourself? Why are you waiting to be better before moving forward?

The work is done. The battle is over. Jesus already won.  Even as you think it’s gotten too dark to see, it’s about to be too bright to take. It’s only Friday. To borrow a phrase used by hopeful people the world over, Sunday is coming.

I don’t mean to shove a sermon in your face because I know I’m not qualified to do that. What I do know is that my posture needs work; in a world that has been slouching for years past and for years to come, I want to encourage all of us to stand up straight.

Your posture of reverence may well look different from mine (and I’ve got a bad habit of peeking, so I’ll know when it does), but the important thing is that we have that reverence and let our worship come from it.

One last thing before you go: Happy Easter! Here’s to Jesus and eating chocolate until we’re sick.

There Has to be a Reasonable Explanation | One Nerdy Turn Deserves Another Vol. 5

5 Mar

[Historical context -my birthdays: 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. jen’s birthdays: 20, 21, 22, 23]

You know Jennifer, sisters are known for being able to speak in a series of jokes only they understand or being able to communicate through glances. I’m stoked that we’ve gotten to experience that over the last couple decades – but I’m particularly stoked that now you know what I’m talking about when I mention such well-loved TV episodes as “the one with exploding pus” and “the hate him, wouldn’t want to date him one with witches.”

Under the circumstances, I can think of no better way to celebrate your birthday than with X-Files. Can you? No, you can’t. Do you want to know why?

Image result for x files thank you gif

My girl is so right. Let’s go.

Image result for scully's right x files gif

Jen, look at you hitting that twenty-four-year mark! You’re absolutely killing it.

Yeah, I could only briefly look for a gif to match that phrase.

Image result for x files life gif

I have to draw lines, I really do. This is a birthday, and a birthday calls for something more cheerful than gifs about alien deaths. Wholesome images! Images about life and its possibilities!

Image result for x files life gif

By the way, I love what you’ve done with yours. Even if Jen-smiling-in-front-of-a-lighthouse has pretty much become a meme back here in the Beaver state, we’re always so happy to see pictures of your cute face.

For your birthday, I’m gonna get you so many things. I’m gonna get you Moana. I’m gonna get you something yummy to eat. I’m gonna get you to look at this gif.

Image result for x files baseball gif

Best present of all, right? Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh haha wow I have to stay on topic. What was this post about? You? I think so. Let’s talk about you! Let’s talk about how you’ve spent the last 24 years being a top notch 10/10 human being. You make people comfortable, and you make them laugh, and for that everyone who knows you would like to thank you.

Image result for x files mulder and scully gif

 

It’s weird to have you so far away. I hope you’re making good choices without me to keep you in check with regular Doctor Who nights and that one pancake recipe I know. If you ever feel unsure, just don’t forget what you learned in Oregon before California ever got its paws on you.

If you ever do lose your way and get yourself in trouble, just be honest.

Image result for x files i was drugged gif

Keep working hard, taking it easy, smiling, and trying new things. Who knows what you’ll see?

Jesus loves you, I love you, and frankly, I don’t think California can resist loving you. At the end of the day, what more could anyone want?

Related image

You’re 24 today. One more time – Happy birthday. Don’t forget to treat yourself, kiddo.

Image result for x files mulder and scully gif

13.1k Likes

13 Aug

You know what’s scary? How big the internet is. It’s huge. It’s so huge, there’s no way to definitively measure it and have that figure be accurate for long.

So if you misplace a webpage and it doesn’t come up on the first page of google, it can feel like misplacing a child in Ikea.

When you lose something on the internet, you have two options. One is defeatist:

“I’m definitely never going to find that ever ever again,”

and one is blindly confident:

“I KNOW IT’S OUT THERE.”

This uncomfortable choice of attitudes will lead people to take all sorts of precautions. I myself, over the period of a couple months, chose to bookmark every webpage or I ever enjoyed or thought I might enjoy at some point.

That worked until I had to scroll through pages as long as the Count of Monte Christo to find that one gif I liked four days ago. I still haven’t deleted them all and honestly, I barely have the energy to try.

A lot of websites include a “like” function that lets you save things for later. What a thoughtful idea! Until you have 13.1 thousand likes and you know you put something in there just, like, a week ago that would totally come in handy right now if onLY YOU COULD FIND IT

I once searched for a specific comment on a Reddit thread for an intensely focused thirty minutes. This wouldn’t even be that bad, but I was at a party at the time. I was literally talking with someone at a party and interrupted myself to pull out my phone and say, “No wait, I’ve got to find it first.”

(Honestly that story makes the potentially well-balanced adult inside of me cry)

I once searched for a specific recipe for two and a half years before I found it. Given, it wasn’t near as intense a search as it was for the elusive reddit comment. But I started searching the day after I enjoyed a hastily-found internet recipe at a friend’s house, and I finished a year and a half after she had moved on, gotten married and moved house.

It wasn’t even all that good a recipe, to be honest. Not enough seasoning.

Anyway, my point is that I totally bookmarked that page anyway. I still have it bookmarked, just in case I want to relive a mediocre meatball experience in a weak effort to recapture a day that is now almost four years ago.

Because losing things is terrifying.

Webpages and images like the ones that I “like” on tumblr are supposed to be silly little nodes of entertainment, but whether or not I can find them again is still supposed to be something under my control and, though I screw up most of the things that are under my control, I still want something to be charge of, and if all that is is a difficult guitar tab for a song I no longer enjoy, then so be it, that thing is staying in my favorites folder until a sun flare burns up my laptop.

Losing things is terrifying. Letting go of unimportant things is meant to be this liberating experience, but it makes me feel like I’m dumping valuables in the trash and ever waiting for someone to come around and say

“Where did [insert thrown away item here] go?”

“Oh, that. I tossed it because I am unspeakably bad at processing consequences.”

This is a vivid example of why nostalgia is very threatening to me. Nostalgia is a sort of homesickness for a home that is no longer yours, because time is always going on. There are places and times you’re never going to return to, and that sounds so hopeless to me.

But it can’t be hopeless, can it? Nothing is really hopeless, even though I tell myself they are. After all, if I was able to go back and work in a moment I’d lived before, I would destroy it. (That’s kind of how I do) I would graffiti it with my escapist attitude and it would never be the same. As it is, I get new moments all the time. I’m making new mistakes because I know not to make the old ones.

I will have my new moments and I will make them what my old ones couldn’t be. I’ll get over the website I found mildly entertaining a couple of months ago. Not everything is in reality what it is in hindsight – and that’s okay.

To be clear, I’m not going to close this edit-post window and clear out all my bookmarks immediately. I am, however, going to delete a couple at a time. And you know what? I’m still going to save the meatball recipe, because they were fun to make, and I really believe I can make them tastier. Because all my moments are new ones, and things can keep getting better as long as I can keep trying to improve things.

Have a really good day, and please, for the love of your sanity, keep all your bookmark folders full of important things.

Thanks

28 Nov

Pro Tip: Being gracious is one of the best habits you can procure.

rock fact

Here’s the thing.

My beloved and utterly adorable niece is recently two years old. She’s decided to forgo any food that’s not yogurt or cake. Her favorite hobbies include saying “play toy?” three hundred times in a row when her parents are about to fall asleep. On occasion, she’ll find a smooth stone and pull a David and Goliath with the nearest on-looker.

But let me tell you something about my niece – she will always say “please” and “thank you” right on cue, and suddenly the entire room is on its knees. 

Repetitions of “awwww” echo around the room and the person who has most recently suffered her biblical slingshot attack sits up and whispers, “so polite!”

Obviously, this does not translate directly into the language of those over the age of five, but you still get what I’m saying. People notice when you are kind. Given, common courtesy is an easily learned habit, but being gracious, especially when it’s not necessary, is so far beyond delightful.

Today is Black Friday, a day whose blood-curdling screams can be heard in the nightmares of retail workers all over.

Due to my timing, it seems like being nice to your cashiers and shelf-stockers is the obvious moral for this post, and sure, that’s important too. Customer service workers have more internalized anger than anyone I’ve ever met, and if you can’t find it in your heart to respect them, then feel free to turn it around and fear them instead.

Being gracious should be something that comes naturally to all of us in any case, not just to the dreaded customer service workers. We have a lot to be thankful for.

Yes, the world has a lot of trash going on it right now. A lot. I don’t want to downplay that. Life isn’t easy for anyone, and the difficulty scale goes from hard to dang near impossible. That is actually life. But look at this bad boy real quick.

THINGS YOU HAVE


  • A God who provides for you and is more in love with you than you can imagine
  • A mind that is capable of an infinite amount of magnificence that still needs to be enacted in the world
  • Interests and passions that are not silly, but instead make up the road map to your life calling
  • People who care about you and love you more than you think you deserve
  • That gorgeous face of yours that I know has caused a lot of smiles
  • I don’t know, do you have a dog or a cat or something? Tell it that it’s beautiful for me please
  • This generation AND HEAR ME OUT HERE I know it’s not even close to perfect, but it’s yours, you’re a piece in it, and you get a voice in how it progresses and if you don’t think that’s the tightest thing ever, then get on out of my face
  • A world of bread products, just think about it
  • Think of all the bread you are capable of producing
  • So much bread
  • And hey, if you’re gluten-intolerant, that’s cool too, you are still super duper important 

Dear friends, if you don’t have any of that, A) I don’t believe you, and B) fine then, you can still be thankful for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser, then can’t you?

(yes. yes you can.)

Thanks to all of you who stopped by.

Happy Black Friday, and happy Thanksgiving from now on!

Dreamboat Eyes

28 Apr

I’ve told you before how much I love A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle.

I’ve definitely already discussed my adoration for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

So as I’ve just recently returned from a trip to OSF to see A Wrinkle in Time adapted for the stage, we can safely assume that I have no plans to ever stop talking about the experience ever ever.

That’s what this post is for. You’ve been warned.

This was a Christmas gift from my sister Jennifer, so she was my traveling buddy this time around. Therefore, she was the designated receiver of slaps and elbow nudges.

(When I get excited, I have the unfortunate propensity to physically attack the nearest human being. It’s totally endearing.)

We walked into the Angus Bowmer. Slap. Slap slapslapslap.

Calvin walked on stage. Nudge. nudge nudgenudGENUDGENUDGE ELBOW STAB.

(Jen is has to be a good sport.)

As the actors milled about the stage [see also: taunting us] waiting for the play to begin, Calvin lay down and and began to practice his spin with the basketball in the air. And it hurt me a little. I played basketball until ninth grade, so I have experienced that particular drill too many times to not be nervous watching someone else do it. (Dropping the ball can go so wrong. Eventually, that basketball is either headed for your nose, the sloshiest part of your gut, or, by some ill-intentioned miracle, three hundred feet away. I found that each one happened to me with the same frequency.) So when Calvin actually did drop the ball and had to do the scramble of shame to go grab it, I felt that we connected.

It doesn’t take much. I make a lot of friends with people who are unaware of our friendship.

I make a lot of friends with people who don't know about our friendship.

After all, he was dressed like a Weasley, and they’re a friendly bunch for the most part.

When the lights lowered and the play began in earnest,  the actress playing Charles Wallace opened up a copy of A Wrinkle in Time and read aloud,

“It was a dark and stormy night.”

It felt like reading the book. Every cast member eventually filed out, each one alternately reading a line or two of the introduction and helping Meg (Alejandra Escalante) act it out. We quickly met her mom, saw the rumors about her dad, understood her sibling relationships, and absolutely felt her pain and confusion. The only thing that went through my mind in between the gaps of adoring thoughts for the beloved characters, I had only thoughts of adoration for the actors.

I have been way too excited for this play from the very beginning. Of course it started when I heard it was going to exist. I mean –

  • Favorite book
  • Favorite festival
  • Favorite medium of entertainment

And then I found out  Joe Wegner was cast – the fantastic actor who, evidently, was born to play Calvin. Then Alejandra Escalante, the talented, perfectly-cast, and adorable Juliet from OSF 2013. Mark Bedard, the amazing man whose voice I’ve had a crush on since She Loves Me 2010, and Dan Donahue, the marvelous actor whom I’ve been missing since Hamlet 2010, and Kate Hurster, the spectacular actress whom I have seen in possibly every single OSF play for the past five years. (no complaints. That lady is Wonder Woman)

 

The dialogue was verbatim from the book.  Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which were represented perfectly and adorably. The affection every character felt for the others was almost tangible. I adored every bit.

But like any spectacle-sporting girl who’s ever enjoyed a romantic comedy, one of my favorite scenes had to be in the twins’ vegetable garden, after Meg’s brief homework session with Calvin.

I mean, come on. Any scene that has the opener,

“Jeepers. Your braces sure shine in this moonlight,”

Is going to be a good one.

I admit to [and embrace] every drop of cliche associated with the following, but seeing as I blushed when I read the scene for the first time, you can imagine how I reacted when Perfect-for-Calvin Joe Wegner clumsily wiped off Meg’s glasses and  announced,

“You know, this is the first time I’ve seen you without your glasses. You’ve got dreamboat eyes.”

I kid you not, the entire audience collapsed into giggles like a classroom of second graders.

Meg’s reaction was just as priceless.

Nothing better.

And this is coming from someone who is fiercely in love the book. A book adaption is almost always a little bit of a disappointment. In fact, I was certain, going in, that they would try to find a way to squirm out of doing Mrs. Whatsit’s transformation. I was preparing myself to mourn its absence, but I didn’t really blame them in advance. Because how could you portray that onstage? That’s ridiculous. They can’t do that.

They did do that.

Perfect.

Short version: I loved this play. The whole audience seemed to. That affection is precisely why it had to be perfect, and also why it was. Wrinkle in Time is a story about love and how it destroys obstacles.

Mrs. Whatsit loved Meg into a solution for her problem. Meg loved Charles Wallace out of his enslavement. Calvin loved Meg out of her loneliness. The whole Murry family is held together by love, and the love needs to be almost corporeal in such a production, for both the original story, and for the audience. It was. I felt like I had received a hug from everyone involved in it.

I’m not even certain how to properly describe it.

You should just go watch it instead.

Seriously though.

Language Tutoring

17 Feb

I don’t speak sports.

I feel so un-worldly when I’m reminded of this.

Whenever the people around me start speaking fluent sports, and I have to be the stereotypical girl going, “Sorry, could you say that slower?”

The recentish Superbowl and currently-unfolding Olympics are good examples. At the Superbowl, I casually rooted for the Seahawks and was casually delighted when they grinded the Broncos into a pulp, but I can’t say I watched any more than ten seconds of the game at a time.

(Actually, I think I speak for a couple other people out there when I say the only reasons I tuned in for Superbowl Sunday were the Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Tom Hiddleston In A Helicopter Drinking Tea Superbowl trailers.)

“A stiff upper lip is key.”

With the Olympics, my response is rather similar. I mean, of course I’m watching events and rooting for the USA.

(I’m not a terrorist)

The whole concept of the Olympics is magnificent, and nobody really disagrees with said fact (cough*terrorists*cough). But I do wish I got more pumped about the whole spectacle – I think it comes to down to an altogether lack of plot.

But some people, as I’m sure you’ve noticed if you know a few of what we call homo sapiens, really, really like sports. Everyone has an area of expertise as far as conversation goes, and a certain sports and/or sports is a very common one.

Take pastors, for example. They, like everyone, have their own areas of expertise. I had one several years ago who liked to throw up clips from Men in Black and Lord of the Rings when he thought it helped his point, and even if it didn’t exactly, I always enjoyed those Sunday mornings.

However, a different pastor, a guest speaker at my church a couple weeks ago, is one of those sports fans we’ve heard so much about, and half of his sermon was a football analogy. I tracked, but I was pretty grumbly about the whole ordeal, mentally griping at him about his connecting with a few people at the cost of alienating others (And obviously, this whole “church” institution is for me alone, so he should clean up his act).

And then I realized something truly horrific.

This. This is what people must feel like when I make a fandom reference.

That, my friend, is a serious problem.

I don’t worry about that on here, of course, if you can’t stand my subject choice, you can feel free to close the web page anytime you please – but in real life, I have indeed been annoying in this way before.

Shocker, isn’t it.

At least pastors don’t hunt me down, open a conversation with an obscure football reference and then proceed to tell me to at least try football because “OHMYGOSH it’s so good, it’s got these really complex players, and you never know what’s going to happen next, and when you start to love it you can come to my house and we’ll have a football marathon, eat football-themed foods, tell each other football-themed pick-up lines, and we’ll collectively try to convert more and more people to our cult fanbase!”

It’s like looking into a terrible football-flavored mirror.

See now, I say that football is the opposite of things I understand.

But I think I understand the people who love it way more than I ever meant to.

I once shared an airplane flight with a kid who adored golf, and when he found out the in-flight entertainment was free viewing of the golf channel, he was ecstatic. I remember trying my darnedest to detect hints of sarcasm.

I mean, excited about golf? Excited about watching golf? He even mumbled, as he set up his iPad to watch the channel, “it’s kind of the only reason I would watch TV.”

Oh, cool, I thought, there goes hours of my best conversation fodder.

Which makes me sad.

What I do speak, I speak rather well. However, as a friend of the family put it best,

“… my second language is just speaking louder.”

You don’t want to talk about my favorite pieces of story-telling? Um, then *ahem* DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT MY FAIR LADY? OR WOULD YOU RATHER HEAR ABOUT SCIENCE FICTION HEY COME BACK

I have found myself being a jerk about a lot of things that other people love, but I never cease to be frustrated and hurt when people are jerks about what I love.

That’s a little bit backward.

For those predispositions to even out, I need to change one.

I don’t know if any of you share this cross with me, but if not, that’s okay – this has mainly been a stern slap across the wrist for myself.

I need to learn a couple other languages.

And Many More

6 Feb

365 days ago, as Wipeout chirped from the television in the empty living room across the hall, I sat cross-legged in my room and grinned at my computer.

I picked up my phone to text my mom and let her know that a staggering twenty people had clicked their way onto my blog.

As an afterthought, I let her know that, by the way, I started a blog.

Happy birthday, Freak of Fandom.

happy (3371) Animated Gif on Giphy

She’s grown so much since that February 6th with one post, one page, one view, and a low-quality header portraying a smiling weeping angel.

cropped-mikki-100.jpg

Exhibit A

(I have no idea why I thought that image would invite people in)

How time flies. Still, I shouldn’t get too carried away in the celebration just yet – it’s important to make sure that my blog is healthy and progressing normally. For this purpose, I turn to the internet’s incorporeal pediatricians –

What are some of the developmental milestones my child should reach by twelve months of age?

“From eight to twelve months of age, your [blog] will become increasingly mobile, a development that will thrill and challenge both of you. Being able to move from place to place will give your [blog] a delicious sense of power and control—her first real taste of [virtual] independence.” ~ healthychildren.org

I am really not sure I trust my young blog with anything so enticing and dangerous-sounding as a “delicious” sense of power – but I suppose she did get a bit of a taste, maybe this past December with the Time of the Doctor trailer breakdown that got over 1200 hits the day it was published (1000 more than I’d ever gotten before).

More developments to expect in a healthy child blog:

Language Milestones

  • Pays increasing attention to speech
  • Responds to “no”
  • Babbles with inflection
  • Tries to imitate words
  • Repeats sounds or gestures for attention

She seems to be on track. I like to think she’s doing rather well in the first milestone, but maybe not spectacular in the second; however, she does the next three items almost exclusively (never really stops), so it sort of averages out.

Growing up so fast.

This outlet has been here to document a truckload of my reality-based events – my DC trip, the chronicles of my first bow hunt and first real job, and that time I totally dissed a rainbow for wifi (still kind of annoyed with myself about that).

And of course, the force of the fiction has been strong with this one as well – Freak of Fandom has carried me through the end of Lizzie Bennet Diaries and the start of Emma Approved, the break-up and make-up between me and Once Upon a Time, the anticipation and aftermath of Sherlock season three, and far, far too many instances of  me quoting River Song’s “spoilers” and thinking I was still being original and cute.

But the coolest thing about this is the people I have gotten to connect with.

You guys.

You are beyond fabulous. Some of you I knew before the blog, some of you I met in the midst of the blog, and some of you through it – but you guys are all awesome, and your encouraging words never ever go unappreciated.

I am so honored that any of you would choose to hold my hand through this process.

God bless you lovelies, and thank you all so very, very much!

(By the way, mom, I know it was you who clicked on my blog 1200 times in a row last December. Love you.)

All that’s left now is to gear up for another year, and, as ever, be of good cheer, dear friends.

(Music helps)

Happy birthdays and unbirthdays to everyone!

Shiny and New You

2 Jan

There are a lot of reasons to be happy about this time of the year.

  • 2014 still feels shiny and new
  • No more Christmas-flavored hallmark movie puke
  • The Doctor Who Christmas special was ripped off like a bandaid
  • Everyone is still upholding their respective New Year resolutions
  • “New year, new me” is still a viable excuse for everything

For real.

“Why haven’t you cleaned this room since December?”

“New year, new me.”

“Why haven’t you made any progress in your life plans?”

“New year, new me.”

“Why are you eating fish fingers in custard and pasting pictures of Matt Smith all over our ceiling?”

“New year, new me.”

And of course, another nice thing about holidays is that they give you an immediate small-talk option. No matter how much you dislike this cheap form of conversation, I’ve noticed that to function as a human being, you have to have some grasp of how it works.

Thankfully for everyone who is as bad at small-talk as I am, the next couple of days are ready to go, because not only do we have a cookie-cutter question for conversation lulls, but also an inquiry that we’re sure to be asked to be asked in return – so start practicing your responses now!

(insert any quip about social anxiety, if you like)

Here you go:

“Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?”

I’m sure you’ve already indulged in this brand of conversation fodder already,but if you’re as tenacious as I know you are capable of being (and have enough different people to ask), you can probably still stretch it out for at least three more days.

And of course, remember to have your own answer(s) ready. If you can’t think of one, I recommend logging into facebook for a second and picking any one of the dozens of internet people who have already given you their resolutions completely unsolicited.

That’s what friends are for.

Throw in a couple of your own, of course. You set those goals. Shoot for the moon, right? Or, as I read it the other day,

“Don’t shoot for the moon. Shoot to beat the spread by the thinnest of margins.”

Not ambitious, but realistic, I suppose.

Everyone talks about setting “realistic” resolutions.

I hate that word, “realistic.” There are far too many times when it has been used to crush the desire to do something fantastical like “slay a dragon,” “build a spaceship,” or “stop procrastinating.” It’s such Phineas and Ferb-esque dreams that fuel greatness, and they are quickly repressed by the iron-clad and wholly uninteresting word, “realistic.”

Perhaps this is just me, but I’ve noticed that when I buckle down and make the decision to set realistic resolutions, my standards for myself drop down to Hobbit stature immediately. I go from writing my ambitious resolutions in calligraphy to trying to be realistic and I start scribbling things like “don’t die as a result of poor driving of a stick-shift” or “update blog a minimum of once per week month year.”

“Realistic” can have the power to round everything to the lowest common denominator. Just remember that there is a difference between “realistic” and “commonplace,” and you don’t want to blur that line. Nothing is really impossible.

If everything is possible, then “realistic” holds no power over you.

So do it.

Slay a dragon. Build a spaceship. Stop procrastinating. There’s a whole lot of stuff to do before 2015 starts next January, and you can do it all.

And if anyone questions you, you know what to do.

“New year, new me.”

What’s December Without Christmas Eve?

24 Dec

I’m munching a candy cane as I write this, and although the peppermint stickiness of my fingers is trying to tell me this brand of multitasking is a bad idea, I have to say something to everyone.

Merry –

Wait

I can’t do this until you’re feeling the Christmas spirit.

And you know what that means.

Everyone knows what that means.

It’s time for some seasonal goodies.

Whether that means a musical Doctor Who Christmas,

A present from the BBC straight to the Sherlockians (THANK YOU BBC),

A Balloonshop Christmas with all the joys of the holiday season,

Or whether you just still don’t know the lyrics to “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

Whether you’re set up to have a white Christmas, a green Christmas, or some sort of in-between grey Christmas, I wish you the very merriest. I know well that Christmas spirit has a way of being uncharacteristically elusive at times, but I still hope it manages to find you and your loved ones well.

I would love to help, if I can. Let me build you a fire and put on some music.

Merry Christmas.

I hope it is full of joy, song, and Christmas cheer. I hope no one plays “Christmas Shoes” or forces you to watch some horrendous “classic” Christmas movie. I hope you eat whatever you like. I hope you answer the phone with, “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” Most of all, I hope and pray that you are very, very blessed on the day of our Savior’s birth.

Now, I get it – at this point in December, it’s entirely possible that you have found yourself torn between the careful, yet ambiguous “Happy Holidays” wishers and the people who punch you in the face and aggressively wish you the Christiest Christmas that ever did Christ.

You definitely can’t please everyone, not even [especially not] at “the most wonderful time of year.” However, the angels in Luke 2:10 proclaimed that they had good news of great joy for all the people when they announced Jesus’ birth. All the people. Impressive. There are few things that are really universal, but love is one of them, and Christmas is about love. Plain and simple. 1st John 4:8 says “God is love.” John 3:16 says “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.”

Jesus Christ, the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, is the embodiment of God’s love for us. It only makes sense then that the preferred form of Christmas celebration is, in fact, love (followed closely by singing loud for all to hear). Now, by no means should love be a seasonal affair, but the fact remains that it is often treated that way, brought out and dusted off just for special occasions. What if this Christmas could be the time when the love starts to stick?

Love isn’t about a feeling, after all, it can stay long after Christmas spirit has been boxed up for twelve more months.

Christmas is about love, but, really, so is everything else.

Shall we celebrate?

[Note for the Whovians: in case you were about to ask – yes, tears can be a relevant way to show love. I’m sure I’ll be there. But of course, as we bid farewell to our adored Eleventh Doctor on Christmas day, we remember: same software, different case. Merry Christmas, everyone.]

Priceless

28 Nov

In any given guide to writing, you are sure to find something about starting off with an interesting sentence.

The problem with that bit of advice is that what is interesting to one person is by no means interesting to someone else. I could start every one of my essays for college with a sentence about interesting parallels in the Marvel comics Civil War storyline and I would be hooked, but chances are my professor would be less than impressed.

Every Fanboy and girl knows very well: no one is required to be interested in what you are interested in.

What is to you

will at some point be  to another.

It’s something one learns to live with, as one learns to live with, shall we say, uncomfortable relatives at Thanskgiving (just to throw it out there). You accept it because it’s real, but darned if you’re not going to at least try to change your circumstances to make it easier for you. It’s understandable. Who wouldn’t do it?

Whether it’s placing those unfamiliar extended family members at the extra dinner table or forcibly making a friend watch a Sherlock marathon (because they’ll thank you later), it does happen, even if it doesn’t always work.

What you love and what you do can define who you are, but if everyone had those things in common, the world would be a disturbingly boring place to be. There’s a reason everyone is different, and that is because we all have a unique place and purpose, and no two of the 7 billion of us are interchangeable.

That’s why the thought of someone not thinking they are worth anything, or believing that they don’t matter, is, and should be, heartbreaking. There is every possible variant of diversity among humanity, but not a single one of us is inconsequential. That’s the one thing we can all say we have in common – our importance.

One of my favorite quotes on this topic, one that says it way better than I can, is from Asa Butterfield’s title character in Hugo,

“I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason.

And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.”

You’re not an extra part. You are an enchantingly beautiful, incalculably valuable human being with an important purpose, and you are surrounded by people who have their very own brand of those things as well. Every person with a different type of beauty has a beauty all the same.

And of course, none of us are perfect, but our flaws alone do not define us, and we must not let them. They may contribute to who we are, but they do not change the fact that who we are is loved, cherished, and utterly priceless.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

And that’s something to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless!