Friday, December 18, 2015

Classes Done!

I don't think I've ever been happier to say those two words. This semester was as stressful as all getout. I don't think I got any creative writing done since September.

The good news is that next semester should be a comparative breeze... because I have no public defense next semester! (And three fewer credits!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Thoughts on Tolkien Critics

When they tell you in college to pick a project about a topic that you'll enjoy, I don't think they ever tell you the corollary: make sure you don't enjoy it too much. If you do, you'll never get it done because it's so much fun to read about.

I'm doing my English thesis on Tolkien and Lord of the Rings. Something I have learned since August is that critical analyses on Tolkien are some of the most entertaining nonfiction you will ever read. The ones who try to assert that LOTR doesn't qualify as "literature" are probably some of the most hilarious, mostly because they all admit they'd infinitely rather read LOTR instead of anything they consider to be literature. But the other fun ones are the ones who try to decide if LOTR is more influenced by Christianity or paganism. The two I just finished looking at are a series of cordial disagreements between Ronald Hutton and Nils Ivar Agoy, and kind of boil down to whether LOTR is more Christian or pagan.

Tolkien himself (via Frodo) says something along the lines of, "The Shadow cannot make; it can only mock" (I don't have the book open in front of me; I'll find the exact quote sometime after classes are done.) But this has gotten me thinking...
What does that make an author? 
I mean, an author doesn't create... Not really, given that old saying that "There's nothing new under the sun."

Anyway, reading through Hutton and Agoy got me thinking. Sure, there are elements of paganism in LOTR (which is perfectly okay; it's fiction. It's okay to say stuff that isn't true in fiction.) But the question kind of boils down to which one Tolkien embraced, and he himself always insisted that he embraced conservative Christianity; and, in that sense, LOTR is Christian.

I'm running short on time before class begins, so I'm just going to jump to my conclusion of how you can be a fictional author without mocking God's creation: you don't mock it. Embrace fiction - fiction! - in pretty much every form you want, but always remember what the truths in the story must circle back to.

Someone else said it better than me, so I'm just going to let C. S. Lewis have the last word:


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! Seeing all those kids [drinking-age college students] dressing up in those costumes and using their imaginations is one of the best experiences of the year.

But holy cow, do people try to ruin it. Don't you just love it when those intellectual, sensitive types try to suck all the fun out of the costumes? Those poor fools.

Halloween (of today) is the holiday celebrating imagination! This was really driven home to me yesterday, because it was WLC's Halloween in the Halls, where every year, the freshmen decorate their floors and turn them into Halloween fun and games for the kids of professors and alumni. The one floor that really showed me how important Halloween and imagination are was the Jurassic World floor: there were three "dinosaur exhibits" which included a visitor's desk, a T-Rex exhibit, a Raptor exhibit, a Brontosaurus exhibit, and a DNA lab. I lingered for a little bit by the Raptor exhibit, which was pretty much a plastic Raptor head sticking out of paper bushes with a guy behind puppeteering the head to make it move, and I watched the kids come up to the Raptor. I suppose if you asked, they would have known it was fake, but they wanted to play pretend, and these college freshmen were playing along with them. The kids were actually nervous about going near the moving Raptor head, and a guy dressed up as Owen was telling them to come closer, how to safely pet the head, and all that.

Halloween. It's the holiday of imagination.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Why I Write

Yeah, this is fall break, and I haven't been as productive as I would have liked, but I'm still taking time to write this.

Apparently Twitter declared today the National Day on Writing, and they want everyone to post #WhyIWrite in 140 characters or less. Scrolling through the tweets is mildly interesting, especially when some people try to explain deep, profound reasons within the characters a tweet allows, but what really made me smile is when I asked myself why I write.

That isn't really a mystery to me, and I don't make a point of hiding it, but I don't think I've ever explicitly laid out why I write, so here goes. I don't write because I want to change the world, start a dialogue, express myself, or anything like that. It isn't because of any metaphysical grand idea that I'll be immortal through my stories - I think studying history for three years has pretty much made sure that I'll never believe that. It isn't because I'm good at it, although that certainly helps.

I write because it's fun; because I like watching the characters of my imagination come to life in their stories on my computer. That is a special part of writing that, as I will insist to anyone who asks, is priceless. But that is a part that, I think, communicates mostly with me. It's a story, but it's only good enough to satisfy me, and it doesn't become anything better by my doing.

Basically, this post is a long but too-short thank-you to Julie Scandora, my editor. Without her, my stories would never be more than what I need to complete my own experience with my imagination. It's really hard to explain - I've been trying to explain it in the acknowledgement pages of my books for three years, and I can't ever find the right words. But I think, maybe, now I have the right words. Without Julie, my characters and my stories would be mere shadows of what they are when you see them in a finished book - not because the characters themselves are lacking, but because my writing is lacking and I can't see it. Julie sees all my writing's weak points, all the places where I've sold my characters short, all the places where I screw up the story and don't notice it - can't notice it without her.

So, to summarize, this National Day on Writing, I want to thank the woman who makes my writing better in ways that I am powerless to do. Thank you, Julie, from the bottom of my heart.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Happy Columbus Day! (three days late)

If you're like me, you forget Columbus Day is a holiday until someone on the internet reminds you the day of. When I was reminded, I decided I was going to post a few appropriate pictures ... and forgot. Then I decided I'd do it Tuesday... and forgot. Yesterday... forgot. But I remembered today!

I'll get to the picture in a minute, but first, I'd like to make a little argument against calling it Columbus Day. It makes sense to call it Columbus Day, because it's the anniversary of his arrival in the New World at San Salvador after a voyage where he really didn't know where he was going. (At least when the Apollo missions went to the Moon, they knew where the Moon was.) The real reason to celebrate Columbus is that he was willing to take a huge risk without knowing anything that lay ahead. He was a great navigator and he could use the winds to speed his travel, but he didn't know what was waiting for him. I think that's why we celebrate him - because he was willing to take the risk to be an explorer. But here's the thing - he wasn't the only explorer! It's called the "Age of Exploration" for a reason! Not that everyone and his cousin was an explorer, but that, a) the explorations were the highlight of the age rather than more of the same old, same old, and b) that there was enough exploring going on that it could be considered a characteristic of the age. So instead of calling it Columbus Day, I think we should call it Explorer's Day!

Having said that, here are the pictures. If you've been to my Travel Blog, you've seen these pictures before.




If you've seen my Travel Blog, you know I really like this picture

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Two Questions...

I was browsing the Internet (dangerous, I know,) and the experience left me with two questions.

First, what is with all the Marvel Cinematic Universe actors in all these live-action Disney movies?

Second, what is with all these live-action Disney movies???

Come on! Was the original Snow White, the first full-length colored animated movie not good enough for you, that you had to do one with Chris Hemsworth (and Kristin Stewart, Kristin Stewart, as Snow White)? Was the original Cinderella so bad that it needed a Kenneth Brannagh remake (with Hayley Atwell - Agent Carter - as Cinderella's mother)? Do I even need to say anything about Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland? I guess Maleficent is the most justifiable remake, and from what I've seen, the story in and of itself was interesting, but did anyone need to take that particular story and apply it to Sleeping Beauty?

And as if nobody learned their lesson from all of those, we now have two more disasters (that I know of) showing up in theaters. The first just came out recently, I guess, and it's called Pan. Basically, it completely rewrites Peter Pan's perfectly adequate backstory - now he comes to Neverland at 12, and he and Captain Hook start out as friends, along with Tiger Lily, trying to destroy... Blackbeard? (Who's played by Hugh Jackman, Wolverine in X-Men - not MCU, but still based on Marvel books.) Because, if there's one thing that the perfectly adequate and done-to-death story needs, it's a backstory for Captain Hook!

Here's the trailer:
(from YouTube)

And as if that's not bad enough, this came out:
(from YouTube)

The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling's most famous work (which, incidentally, includes "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi") directed by the guy who did Iron Man, produced by the studio that trainwrecked the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and apparently starring Black Widow as Kaa - who thought that was a good idea?

What was wrong with the original?

But wait - that's not all!

Live-action Beauty and the Beast, apparently starring Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) as Belle, Ewan McGregor (the Obi-Wan Kenobi from the Star Wars prequels) as Lumiere, Ian McKellen (Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and old Magneto from X-Men) as Cogsworth (seriously - Gandalf playing a talking clock?!) Luke Evans (Bard, from The Hobbit) as Gaston, and Josh Gad - freaking Olaf from Frozen - as LeFou. If you have a chance, take a look at the cast list over at IMDb. It's amazing - they have every minor character from the animated version, but then they added a king and a queen and apparently Belle's mother ... what? That one's going to be completely off the rails.

And then - as if all this isn't enough - apparently there are plans for a live-action Cruella de Ville movie. They are making a movie about, and I'd bet giving a backstory to, a woman who kills puppies. Do I need to say anything?

Disney, stop. Stop doing those, and instead, do more of this:
(from YouTube)
But no sequels!

Monday, October 5, 2015

#IAmAChristian

I'm sure you've heard by now about the deranged man who shot and killed people in a community college in Oregon. I've heard from several places that he demanded his victims name their faith before shooting them; according to one survivor, if they said they were Christian, he killed them, and if they said they weren't, he shot their legs. On Twitter, there was a responding hashtag and avatar picture that say #IAmAChristian. Lots of people have posted under this, but here is the one I want to focus on:



No, I'm not focusing on this because I support Dr. Carson for president, but instead because he used the Christian fish in his sign. During times of persecution, a Christian looking for a fellow Christian might draw one half of the fish, and another Christian would complete the fish. It was a question and a challenge - "I am a Christian; are you?" - when it would have been easier to be like Peter and say, "No, I'm not a Christian." At a time when Christians are being targeted in the Middle East, and shooters break into college classrooms to target Christians, God still calls us to stand firm and answer, "Yes, I am a Christian" - to complete the fish.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

New Perspectives

You know, I really do love my majors. I love talking about history, as evidenced by my travel blog, and I love talking about literature.

About a week ago, I got to combine both of my majors and my Europe experience in a class discussion. We were talking about my new second-favorite poem called Dream of the Rood - the Rood being the cross Christ was crucified on. The poem tells the story of Christ's crucifixion from the point of view of the cross, making parallels between the cross and the believer, and the poem is tear-inducing both for its theology and its literary beauty.

Anyway, as part of understanding the poem, we also read the legend of the cross, from its growing from a seed from the Tree of Knowledge to Helena finding it in Jerusalem. This legend shows up in the frescoes in the Cathedral of St. Francis in Arezzo. When I posted about that, I got an email from a friend (sent by that little Talk To Me box at the bottom) talking about that legend. In her email, she used a phrase I had never heard of, but when I heard it, it gave me a completely new perspective. Seriously, I felt enlightened after seeing it in her email.

Ready for it?

Here it is:

"Biblical fanfiction."

I cracked up the first time I saw it, not because it's funny, per se, but because such a funny phrase fits the story so very perfectly. When we were talking about Dream of the Rood and the Legend of the Cross in class, I mentioned that phrase, and the response was a combination of laughter and comments that sounded like, "Yeah, that's pretty much right!"

I'm so glad my friend decided to share that insight with me, because it gave me a whole new way to look at some long-standing literature. So if you, dear reader, have an insight about something you're reading, be sure to share it with people around you. You never know who might benefit from it! I was hyperbolizing a little bit about feeling "enlightened," but I am not kidding at all when I say that hearing it gave me new perspectives, and I am very grateful for it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kaitie Wade - Tail Lights

You all know how much I enjoy sharing stories about teenagers who take early steps in pursuing their dreams. Well, Kaitie Wade isn't a teenager anymore. She is my age. How do I know this? Well, because we sat next to each other in grade school. As of last February, she is a recording sound artist with one single released, called "Tail Lights." I know nothing about music, so I can't really say any more about Kaitie's song, so I suggest you check out her Bandcamp page. I think you can listen to her song with the right app, and I'm pretty sure it's on iTunes also.

Now I'm wondering if I should find an old picture we're both in and post it here just to embarrass her... (Just kidding. I wouldn't even know where to begin looking.)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Jurassic World

I'm told those are the only decent movies to come out of that franchise. I haven't seen Lost World or Jurassic Park III.

Anyway... I saw Jurassic World (several times) before seeing Jurassic Park. I'm not going to comment on which one was better, per se. I'm just going to say this: Jurassic Park had surprisingly few dinosaurs.

That was my takeaway - really. I think we waited half an hour for the first dinosaurs to show up, and then... well, there weren't many dinosaurs. Even with the scenes with dinosaurs in them, you can't see the dinosaurs! Mostly you can just hear them.

I know for it's time (22 years ago) it was incredible and unprecedented, and the effects on the brontosaurus (bracchiosaurus? The ones with long necks that ate leaves) were fantastic. They were, by far, my favorites.

Okay, one more thing. Having seen JW's velociraptors first, and having freaking fallen in love with them, I was waiting on the edge of my seat for the velociraptors to do velociraptor things. This really got under my skin, because the main scientist guy has this little monologue in the opening about the significance of the -raptor part of their name. Unfortunately, they completely forgot about the veloci- part of the name. Velocity is speed. Being fast. Running like the wind! In JP, they remind me of the beavers in the first Chronicles of Narnia movie. Awkward, slow, and kinda making things drag a little bit. Except for the scene where they jump out and surprise the lady doctor - that was freaking awesome!

Anyway, that was what I liked best about Jurassic World. Once they put the dinosaurs in there, they stay. I think it's safe to say there is a dinosaur in over half the scenes, maybe even two-thirds. The other thing was that the velociraptors were just so freaking incredible! You can feel their power and their hunger in everything they do - they are scary, but in an awe-inspiring way. I mean, wow.

So, if you haven't seen Jurassic World yet, I recommend you do. If you're too young to drive a car, then you should get your parents' permission to see the movie, because there is some language in it and general other things that parents get the say on, But otherwise, it's a good movie, and the dinosaurs do some fantastic things! Needless to say, I really enjoyed it.

To be honest, the first time I went, I went because of Chris Pratt. He's a fun actor and is an outspoken Christian, so it struck me as a completely justifiable splurge, even though I had zero interest in the dinosaurs. The last six times I went, I went for the velociraptors.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

School ~ Senior Year

Well, I'm settled (sort of) back into school for my senior year. I totally lucked out with some of my classes - so far, I think I'll have a TOTAL of fifteen-ish pages to write, not counting my English thesis. I really hope it stays that way, so I can dedicate more time to my thesis.

I haven't been at WLC since last December... this is a really strange feeling!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Survey

If you read my blog, please, please, please leave a comment answering the question I am about to ask. It is a question that is very important to me, both as a writer and as a reader. So even if you've never left a comment on my blog before, please answer the upcoming question. If you can answer it with one or two sentences, that would be even better, and if you want to go longer, type your heart out!

Here is the question:

Have you ever related or closely connected to a character with whom you had many significant differences?


What I mean is this: if you're a girl, was there ever a boy character you've felt you related to really well? If you're a computer wizard, have you ever felt close to a book character that was technologically challenged? If you're a human, which I'm assuming most of you are, was there an animal in a book you thought you could see yourself - or the version of you that you wanted to be?

If you know what I'm talking about, please leave a response on the blog, or if you'd rather, please email me at darkwoodsbooks@aol.com. This is important to me as I begin work in earnest on book 4, and most likely final, in the Darkwoods series. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

How Eclipse Could Have Been Good

Yes, I know, I'm behind on my Travel Blog posts. I'll get back to those Sunday-ish. Moving on.

Really quickly, here's my review of New Moon: it was remarkably enjoyable except for the parts that included Edward. Moving on.

I thought about just doing a plain old review of Eclipse, the third book in the Twilight saga. The thing is, I don't think that would really do justice to the book, or rather what the main problem is (in my opinion.)

I think it's the general consensus that Eclipse is the worst of the Twilight novels. The story doesn't make a lot of sense, the love triangle is obnoxious - no, not the Edward-Bella-Jacob one, the other one - and Bella is, of course, completely useless. Edward is bland and boring, and Jacob took a nose dive in interest. But I think the main problem with the book is that it could have been really good. It could have, in fact, been a very powerful story with a very powerful message. It could have completely undone the legitimate complaint with the series in general, that the Bella-Edward love is based in perfection rather than perseverance.

The general plot is that the evil vampiress is gathering an army of new-made vampires in an attempt to overwhelm the Cullens and the werewolves. Although, since this is a love story, that's more of a subplot. The love story focuses on Bella being older than Edward, much to her dismay. She wants Edward to turn her into a vampire so she can be young, or near his age, forever. But she's also struggling with a part of her having feelings for Jacob. She even has to admit that she loves Jacob too. Of course, in the end, she chooses Edward, and Edward promises to make her a vampire soon after they get married. That's the general plot, anyway.

During the book, two specific things happen. The first is that Rosalie, Edward's adopted sister, tells Bella that she doesn't know what she'd be giving up if she gave up her human life. She tells Bella that there are parts of being human she will have to live without, forever - most notably, having a child of her own.

The second is that, as Bella kisses Jacob, she has a vision, of sorts, of watching herself grow up, of watching years passing "and meaning something as they passed." She saw Jacob and her children running into the forest. In other words, she saw what she would give up if she let Edward turn her into a vampire.

So, what's the problem? The problem is that the two events teach Bella nothing. By the end of the book, Bella is still freaking out that she's almost two years older than Edward, as if that's the most important thing she has to worry about. She's still pestering Edward to turn her into a vampire as quickly as possible.

How could it have been good? My theory: it could have been good if Bella had learned something - most especially, if she had learned something about what was really important in life. There are multiple ways that Bella's maturation could be shown, but I think the best way would be for Bella to say at the end that she would still marry Edward, but she didn't need to turn vampire right away. First, she could have kids, experience a few years as a human and learn and grow some more. That's the upside to being human. The upside to being a vampire? She looks Edward's age for forever.

I'm not saying her life would only have been worthwhile if she had decided she wanted kids, but she is such a static character and such a shallow character throughout the book. On the other hand, think how powerful the story would be if she came to the realization that how she looked - that, when you boil away the complex-sounding adjectives, was her primary concern throughout the book - was not the most important part of her relationship with Edward. Deciding she wanted a child would give her a complexity and a maturation that, as a book character, could only make her better. More importantly, it could have made Edward and Bella's relationship a depiction of how there are more important things in the world than how you look.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Marta's Checklist for Today

In which I get to sorta-kinda brag about my adventures today.

1. Registration for Fall
There are few feelings quite as satisfying as being six time zones ahead of your school on registration day. Whereas most of the other upcoming seniors/Honors students had to wake up at 7:30 am, I just had lunch and registered at 1:30 pm. Good times! Very relaxing. Okay, not really, it was pretty frustrating because I had a lot of trouble deciding which core American history I wanted to take, but I decided to go with the class covering 1865-1945. Then there's my required theology, one of my capstone projects (yikes!) and Medieval Literature. I'm really looking forward to that last one!

2. Get trip to Portsmouth sorted out
I thought I'd finished this yesterday, but no... After putting out its final end-of-semester schedule, they revised it again, moving my one exam to the same time as my flight to London, whereas before it had ended five hours before my flight. I was not happy about this - but, fortunately, the registrar had been prepared for something like that, and I get to sit the exam in the morning anyway. *sigh of relief*
That was pretty much my day after class. This next week is my last week of classes, and then I have break for one week (during which I will be in Croatia, so expect some updates from that!!!!) and then a week and a half of exams, and then I'm off to Portsmouth... Then, eventually, home. It's back to Alaska National for my summer job, and I will have a list of fairs and events I'm going to be at this summer. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Selection, Book 2 - The Elite

Also known as "My First Three-Star Review."

For my review of Kiera Cass's first book, The Selection, click here.

I'm taking one and a half stars off for plot, and one-half star off for character. Kiera Cass's writing style hasn't suffered at all; the book was easy to read but still interesting, fast-paced without being confusing, and well fleshed-out. So, kudos for that. Now for the stars I took off.

Plot: It follows a general romance outline I have seen too many times. At the end of the last book, America and Maxon's relationship had just budded and looked rather hopeful, but immediately in this book, they begin fighting with each other and it looks like their relationship is going to implode. I mean, my goodness, what romance hasn't followed that trend? Divergent had it, where int he second book, Tris and Four start arguing over stupid things; Iron Fey, when in that second book, Ash leaves Meghan for ... well, no real reason; the Percy Jackson books, where, in the book immediately following Percy rescuing Annabeth from Atlas, they start arguing about Luke; New Moon, when Edward leaves Bella, and that was honestly the most creative spin on this trend! Even Lord of the Rings had it, at least in the movies (it's been too long since I read the books) when Arwen had to decide whether she would go to the undying lands or stay with Aragorn.

Once, just once, I'd like to see the romantic protagonists face a few external challenges before they start facing internal challenges. I found this repetition in the main characters especially frustrating in this book because the side-romance-plot (a forbidden romance, very interesting, by the way) seemed to follow the other kind of story line - the characters involved in that romance were facing external challenges, and weren't bickering over trivial things. It was a much more satisfying story - why can't they have been the main characters? Also, Ms. Cass wrote a novella about Maxon's parents, and how their Selection worked, and in that story the two protagonists immediately began working as a team. It was refreshing! It was inspiring! Why can't America and Maxon do that? Can you think of any other romances that follow a similar, cooperative plot line?

Lest any of you think the rest of the plot was bad, it wasn't; it was coherent, made perfect sense, and followed itself to a logical conclusion. The specifics of the plot were good, no doubt about it. I am just personally tired of this general plot. If you are not tired of this plot, well, then I doubt you'd have any problems with the book. For me, it felt like watching all the Avengers fighting each other instead of fighting Loki and the Chitauri.

Character: At one point, America asks Aspen if he thinks she could be a good princess, and Aspen says no. I think he's right. America knows there's chaos and turmoil going on her country, but she's willing to throw even more chaos into it just because she saw Maxon kissing another girl. You could justify what she does, I suppose, by saying she does it for the right reasons, but no, she definitely did not do it for the right reasons. She did it to get payback at Maxon. In other words, she's petty and selfish. To be honest, I think she should have just walked away when she caught Maxon with another girl. That would have been both the dignified and the right thing to do. Instead, she decides to get payback that involves betraying state secrets. I mean, you have got to be kidding me!

This was really upsetting for me, because America was such a great character in the first book. I was hoping she would have grown, and maybe been the voice of reason among the other girls in the Selection. Maybe she would have been creative, maybe she would have done something heroic, but she didn't. She was just supercharged on emotion the entire book.

And as for Maxon - well, he was kissing another girl. Enough said. But just for the sake of argument, I'll mention another problem I have with him: he could have probably avoided most, if not all, of his arguments with America by just saying, "Look, this girl is here for a political reason, so I have to come up with a political reason to get rid of her." Instead, he just tells America that the girl is staying, period, and gives her no reason why for an annoyingly long time. (And if America couldn't help him come up with a solution or, barring that, just be patient until he figured out a solution, maybe she shouldn't be a princess. I'm just saying.)

The thing about my princess, Zuryzel, is that she loves her kingdom, and would always put her kingdom before her own needs. To me, that's what a princess, or any kind of leader, is. She is a servant. America really isn't. She doesn't really care about her kingdom. Actually, really none of the characters do. Except maybe King Clarkson, and he's kind of portrayed as the antagonist.

So, to wrap up, my deductions are all about personal taste. If I hadn't read some of the books I listed up above, I would probably have had a far better opinion of this book. I can't imagine a scenario in which I would have liked America, but even with that, it would still have been a decent story. (I mean, I don't particularly like Frodo, either.) I just really wish someone would have said to the author, "You know, protagonists are much more fun to read about when they work together than when they're fighting."

But, if you like tensions between the protagonists in a romance ... this book is for you. I don't, so if you're like me, this book is still worth reading, but not for the main plot.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Another Teen Worth Remembering

In the past, I've written about teens who made extraordinary accomplishments, such as publishing a book, sounding amazing on American Idol, and winning an election. All of these are teenagers who I wrote about for never giving up, but I'm writing about today's teen of the hour, Demetrius de Moors, for a slightly different reason. Demetrius is a wrestler whose father died in the Middle East. During a wrestling match, Demetrius did something incredibly kind for another wrestler. Watch the video here:


As important as it is to never let anything hold you back from pursuing your dream, it's equally important to remember to have a servant's heart along the way. Way to go, Demetrius!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Worthy of Respect

Over here in Europe, it's been a little difficult for me to stay on top of American events and/or national gossip, but I do my best. I have heard a lot recently about the question of modest leggings. If you haven't heard, one (married) woman wrote on her own personal blog that she chose not to wear leggings as pants anymore because she thought it was immodest. For whatever reason, this sparked national headlines. As annoyed as I was by all this, I was planning not to say anything until I heard about a Christian comedian making fun of that woman for trying to be more Christlike. That was the last straw.

I have two points to make about all this. The first is to my fellow Christians, especially the ones making fun of that woman for her decision, and the second, but probably more important, is to all middle school and high school girls of any faith all throughout America.

Christians: To mock, deride, or degrade this lady's decision to be more modest is unacceptable. Biblically unacceptable. There have already been plenty of discussions about the modesty verses in the Bible, but those aren't the most applicable verses. I urge you all to read 1 Corinthians 8, but if you don't have time to read the entire chapter, then I'll just leave here the most important verse in that chapter. 1 Corinthians 8:13: "Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall." Fill in the words eat with wear and the word meat with anything you like - the point is the same. We are to be considerate of other Christians who may not be comfortable with everything we are, and not be indifferent to them. Christianity is not peer pressure - which brings me to the second point...

Girls in America: I think you might be the hardest hit by this controversy. As if we don't get enough peer pressure from all our classmates. It's not just about what we wear, but how we act, how we speak, and anything else we can possibly be judged on. Unfortunately, as this controversy shows, peer pressure doesn't end in middle school and high school.

I'm certainly not trying to shame girls who wear leggings as pants, especially in middle school. What I am saying is that if you don't want to, that's okay. It's perfectly okay to not be comfortable wearing leggings as pants, or skinny jeans, or skin-tight shirts. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Other girls love to pile on the pressure - the endless, "It's really okays," the skeptical looks and eye-rolling, the quiet giggles behind hands, all meant to make it clear that their way is the correct way and yours is a silly deviation. It isn't. 

Sweet girls, here is the truth: you are not the only ones. I can assure you that at least one or two of those girls wearing whatever you're not comfortable wearing are also uncomfortable with it. No matter how much other girls want to make it seem like you're the only one, you are not. I promise. Stand up for what you believe; don't just be yourself, be the best version of yourself.

I cannot believe that adults, particularly women, can have so little regard for how embarrassing it is to be singled out and mocked for something you value. They are setting a terrible example to you, sweet girls. All I can say is, stand strong; you are not alone, and no, not everyone else is doing it, no matter how many times you hear other girls or adults telling you otherwise. Follow your conscience, and stay in your comfort level of clothing, acting, and speech; contrary to what the world says, you are not worthy of mockery for doing so. You are worthy of respect.

To all who want to laugh at me for being old-fashioned or a "nun," let me say this: you can say whatever you want to. I don't care. I've heard it all before in middle and high school. I was one of those girls that wasn't always comfortable with what everyone else was doing, and I received earfuls about it on a regular basis. Say whatever you want - it's never stopped me before, and it won't stop me now.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX!

So... they show the Super Bowl in Ireland!

There's three of us watching the game from the basement of our resident. We have to be quiet, because one of the spectators is being paid to tweet about the game, so he has to concentrate. That's okay, we still get to watch the game. 

And for whatever reason, the commentators are all in the UK, and so are the ads... That's kinda different. But it's still the game!

Go Seahawks!

Hey, 12 Man, show them what you're made of! Make so much noise that I can hear you in Ireland!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Seahawks!

Yes, I am in Dublin, and I am keeping up with the Seahawks.

I don't think you could say I "watched" the game; what I did was stare at my iPhone app waiting for updates. For the first twenty minutes, anyway; after the Seahawks embarrassed themselves so handily in the first quarter, I got discouraged and went to writing, checking my phone every so often. They came back in the third quarter, still behind, but at that point, I decided my app was moving too slowly and started relying on Facebook. And then, lo and behold, there came the hair-pulling-out-frustrating last minute and a half of the regular game, which ended with a tie, and then overtime, which ended with a Seahawks victory over the Packers! They are going to the Superbowl!

Against the Patriots...

Oh, by the way, unless I'm posting about friends, my birthday, the Seahawks, or something else American, I'll mainly be posting on my travel blog.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Christmas Wrap-Up

Maybe the title is a bad pun, but whatever.

I was extremely blessed to have a Christmas with my grandparents and my aunt and uncle. It was especially fun because I got to show my uncle all the inside jokes in Graystone - he hadn't seen them yet.

Christmas gifts were fabulous, too, but my all-hands-down favorite is a t-shirt that says: "Some of my best friends are fictional." My second favorite is the lovely coat my Mom gave me, which I am wearing right now (in the SeaTac International Airport ... on the way to Europe.)

What else ... what else... what else...

I had the great joy of going to Zoo Lights with Caleb, Selah, Kelsey, and Patrick, and getting DQ afterwards. Two days ago Selah and I went to BWW (Buffalo Wild Wings) and experimented with new sauces and menu options.



I just heard an announcement for an Alaska Air flight to Bozeman (Montana.) Depending on where I go to grad school, I might be on a flight like that someday. But for now, it's off to Italy!

For now, I'm signing off. The next time I post will be from Europe!