the voice.

There’s voices in my head. From what I hear, they’re in other people’s heads, too.

(I’m not crazy, I swear.)

The voice is kinda mean to me, kinda disheartening. It tells me how I should cut my hair, how I should laugh, how much pudge I should allow to collect around my thighs and belly. It’s my own voice, but it’s not always my words.

It’s the voice that reminds me constantly that I won’t get a husband with that hairstyle,

without makeup,

without cooking,

if I keep acting like that,

if I keep talking about that.

It causes insecurity: What if I’m not actually as normal and cool as I think I am? and fear: what if I have to settle? What if I never get anyone?

Strange, how in a culture that values individuality and “being yourself,” people still uses the phrase “guys don’t like girls who ______.” If strong, independent women are in fashion, then why does someone with an independent streak a mile wide still drive home at night wondering if anyone will ever date her if they know she reads fanfiction. Wonders if when she gets engaged her fiance will ask her to grow her hair longer and fears that. Remembers the way she called someone “dude” yesterday and laughed too loudly and decides that must ruin her chances with him.

Silly things to be worried about. Sillier still that they revolve around one main problem: am I the kind of girl that guys like? Which is an even sillier question, because how on earth can there be one kind of girl that all kinds of guys like? But that’s the belief, isn’t it?

I admit I pride myself on not really worrying about whether or not I’ll get married. My view of it is basically: if it happens, it happens; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t; it would be great, but I think can live a great life without it, too. I’ve reached a point where I don’t really care one way or the other. So it weirds me out a little when I find myself staring at pictures of celebrities and getting this clenching feeling in my chest because if only I could look/be like her, I’d end up with a hot husband like her, too.

Because The Voice isn’t about self-image or self-confidence. It’s about whether or not my self-confidence will hold up in the face of that cute barista down the street. I dress the way I want to, look the way I want to, hold myself confidently and make friends with girls and guys alike  – but as soon as my thoughts enter romance-territory, there’s that Voice again, reminding me of what guys do and don’t like. It’s just what I’ve always been told. What could possibly be so very different about being friends with the guys I know and dating the guys I know that makes me freeze up and lose confidence?

I’m not here to blame anyone for what they say; but I will say that it does matter. If I’m told, directly and indirectly, that certain things I do are either attractive or unattractive to men, then what am I to believe except that my entire reason for doing anything is to be attractive to men while doing it?

The Voices were trying to be helpful. They really were. They were looking out for my future and my happiness. But in the end, you know, they’ve caused more stress than they intended. Here’s the problem with the Voices: they perpetuate not only the idea that everything I do is intended for an audience of prospective suitors, but also that I must perform for that audience.

And that’s, quite frankly, stupid.

Sure, sure, talk about private faces vs. public faces, respecting yourself, all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. I get that. We’re all living one big improv class. But I’m still wanting to figure out why my character is the way she is, and not so much whether or not the next move I make will affect whether or not whats-his-face wants to kiss me.

I’m going to be an incredibly cliche single girl here and say that I don’t know what it’s like to be that girl that everyone has a crush on. You know the people I’m talking about: everyone likes so-and-so, everyone knows everyone likes so-and-so, and you know what sucks? So-and-so is exactly what The Voice has always told me, and I’m not like her.

So I’m not saying I want guys falling all over me – good lord, no. But I am wondering what it would be like to live without that Voice. Wondering how I could get rid of it.

Sometimes what the Voices tell me isn’t even anything anyone’s ever said. No one has ever told me, for example, that guys don’t like girls who eat as many hamburgers as I do – but it’s still there, you know, niggling at the back of my mind while I finish off that double-double and sweet potato fries. And I’m not crying out for help, here. I don’t need some guy to be a Big Damn Hero and assure me that no, no, I like it that way, the way they feel the need to do whenever a girl complains about being too curvy. Living without the Voice doesn’t mean knowing I’m dateable. It means knowing that I am whole, healthy, good, and most importantly, happy, for myself and for no one else.

See, here’s another funny thing: the only Guy who really matters – you know, the big guy upstairs, the one who died for me 2000 years ago – he doesn’t care if I cook or use slang. So why should I worry?

My purpose in life is not to be the kind of girl a guy will like. My purpose in life is not to get a guy. My purpose in life is not to be attractive.

My purpose in life is to be the kind of person I want to be, and do the things I want to do, and leave the world a better place for it.

Do you hear me, Voice? I AM HERE TO BE ME.

I am here to be me, and whether or not that group of collective humanity known as guys likes it, that is what I will be.

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[excerpts from "Paul, Pawnee, and Aristotle: Love and Joy as Christian, Natural, and Parks and Recreational Virtues"]

[…] Love, for Pawnee, has distinct ties to sacrifice. In one episode, Tom, April, Andy, and Donna admit that they go out for dinner every year on money they have collected in the office (one dollar for every joke at Jerry’s expense). Because of the “Jerry Filter” Tom installed on their email accounts, none of them are aware that Jerry has invited them to a lovely Christmas party at his home. When they try to come in, Ann keeps them outside until they do something nice for Jerry – and they end up giving him the Jerry Dinner money. Meanwhile, Ben and Leslie are ridiculously in love, but are constantly making sacrifices for each other. When Leslie’s job is threatened because of her relationship with Ben – who is a co-worker and technically her boss – Ben asks the City Manager, Chris, to fire him instead so that Leslie’s city council campaign won’t be affected. This reminds us of Christian love: The biggest example of love in the Bible is Christ dying for the sins of humanity – as Jesus says himself, “Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And in Romans, Paul explains that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

[…] Parks and Rec seems to say that joy is not only a Perk of Being a Christian. Joy can also be found through fulfillment in work and relationships. Paul even says in verses throughout his epistles that he has joy upon seeing certain things or hearing good news, or other outside situations. Now, it is partly in Parks and Rec’s nature to be joyful, as it is a comedy show, but part of what sets Parks and Recreation apart from other sitcoms, even on the same network, is how happy or joyful the characters are. It is a satisfying show to watch because instead of laughing at Leslie and Ron, we are laughing with Leslie and Ron. And the happiness never seems forced. The characters remain steadfastly, deeply happy, even through difficult times. They get joy from their external situations as well as from something within themselves that allows them to have happiness regardless of outward situations – so such lasting happiness should not be discounted. The writers of Parks and Rec appear to believe in a joy that is attainable through friendships (and good attitudes, and well-timed jokes).

The Parks employees are also able to find strength for joy within themselves. They acknowledge and accept their faults and sadness, and often just how much their lives suck, and learn to pick themselves up from it. In a beautifully inspiring scene in a recent episode, Chris, who struggled with depression throughout the season and is only recently feeling better through therapy, encourages Andy, who is depressed because he failed his police academy exam. “Andy,” he says, “this is a very important moment for you. How we deal with tragedy defines who we are. I used to be terrible at it. Beyond terrible. You are not going to let this deflate you. You’re going to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and we will figure out what the next step is.” Chris certainly believes in a happiness from within, even when he calls this situation what it is: a tragedy.

[…] And in today’s world, writers in the entertainment industry (or at least those of the NBC Thursday night lineup) sees them as important, too. They see love and joy and the way that it makes life so much better…their message with Parks is that happiness and love are the most important things. As Leslie even says in one episode where she is trying to make a decision about future relationships, “We need to remember what’s important in life. Friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. It doesn’t matter. But work is third.” Relationships, ultimately, will be more important to the Pawnee Parks employees than any other gain.

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senior photos 2013: Will, Alex, Ben

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how-to: fluffy skirt

The other day I was at Jo-Ann with my mom and saw this adorable fabric:DSC_0187

It’s cute and colorful and retro and STAR TREK and the only thing wrong with it is that McCoy doesn’t get any face time. Bones fangirl problems. Anyway, I texted Kaytie Rose and told her I’d show her how I make this skirt. It’s super duper easy because there’s no pattern involved.

First, you gotta put on some good music. This is an important step and should not be ignored. I went for Jolie Holland today.

Then you gotta get your fabric. you’re gonna need to get enough so it could go twice around your waist. You also need this wide elastic (also from Jo-Ann), a few more inches than will go around your waist.

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You wash and iron your fabric, and then lay it out to cut. Basically this skirt is a rectangle that’s gathered at one end. So measure how long you want the skirt to be (I’m going from my waist to just above my knee) and cut a rectangle that’s your-waist-x2 by length. You may have to piece it together, like I did.

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Save the extra for a pillowcase or something.

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Fold the fabric so right sides are together and pin the side edges together.

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Sew that with a 3/4” seam allowance, and iron the seam flat if you’re not lazy like me.

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Then take your waist measurement, add another 1 1/2”, and cut the elastic. Sew the ends of that together with a 3/4” seam allowance.

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Then the fun (read: kinda tedious) part! Match up the right sides and seams of the elastic and fabric and pin them together.

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Then, take the side directly opposite the pin and pin that to the elastic. Then put pins in either side of the skirt, right between the first two pins. And then put four more pins in between the four already there.

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Repeat the process, pinning in between pins, until your waistband is basically all pins.

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now that your skirt is gathered, sew the fabric and elastic together with a zigzag stitch right along the edge of the fabric.

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yay!

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So now you’ve gotta hem it. Turn the skirt inside out and iron up the bottom edge 1/2”.

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Then open it up, fold the raw edge into the seam, and fold on the seam again. Iron and pin that.

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Then sew it up right along the edge there.

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And then you’re done! Turn it right side out and try it on.

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This is not a good picture because I was handling the camera by myself…but. There it is!

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[excerpts from You Had Me At Meat Tornado: Plato, Macbeth, and What It Means to Be a Man, Man]

(because this is my blog and I do what I want) (and also I’m rather proud of these bits) (even though I will probably keep editing this paper til the end of time)

Dean Winchester hunts supernatural creatures for a living, and has all his life. Monster Hunting is a single-male-dominated culture that values the manly virtues, and Dean’s father is Vietnam vet who certainly would not encourage a softer side in his oldest son. As it turns out, Dean does have a softer side, but while he can clearly emote his feminine personality characteristics – particularly, his nurturing nature towards his younger brother and his hinted-at bisexuality (not to mention his crying a lot) –  he has difficulty processing and acknowledging these un-manly, un-hunter-like traits. He covers them up and overcompensates to try to be the picture of masculinity the ghost hunter must be. When his father dies, Dean prefers to smash in the window of his car than talk to his brother; manly indeed, but healthy it is not.Showing emotions, Socrates might tell Dean, may make him less manly; but it makes him more human. And in a show whose main conflict is human vs. monster, the humanity of the protagonist is of utmost importance.

The driving problem for much of Supernatural is What Is Human vs. What Is Monster. The show is riddled with stories of monsters who were once human: Madison the werewolf, every vengeful ghost the Winchesters meet, and rugarus; even Dean has a short-lived career as a vampire in one episode. The human characters of Supernatural concern themselves constantly with remaining human, even if it means once in a while having compassion on the monsters they hunt. Macbeth is also a story of humans confronted with supernatural beings, but unlike Dean, Macbeth puts up almost no resistance to becoming one of them. Macbeth doesn’t actually become a witch, of course, but his actions following his meetings with the witches serve to turn him more and more from humanity and towards his monster inside.

[…]

Macduff is not the king, but besides perhaps Banquo, he is the best of the Scots we see in Macbeth. His soul is all set in its proper place and there is no questioning that he could be a good and wise king if he was able. He had an army behind him; he could have taken the kingdom. And yet, like Banquo, who knew his children were destined to be kings and took no action, Macduff does not attempt to change his fate. He is so powerful, and yet he rides the wave of his grief with dignity and channels it into a healthy righteous anger. Macduff could be capable of becoming the monster at the end of this book; but in the end it is the very fact that we can be monsters and choose not to that makes us the more human.

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i’m in a bad mood.

Because of stuff that happened last night (some of it was my fault; some of it wasn’t) I’ve been in a bad mood since about 9 last night. It’s not one of those storm-around-be-mad-at-everyone bad moods, it’s just that I feel…off. And bored, mostly.

I just drove to the store to buy mac’n’cheese hoping that will make me feel better. But in some way I know that watching multiple episodes of Firefly or eating cheesy goodness or listening to Ed Sheeran isn’t just going to make the bad mood go away.

My mom just came home from running a half marathon. That always makes me happy. I mean. My mom makes me happy.

Maybe that’s what I needed, family. People. To avoid my own problems. I confess that I really really did hope that my parents would still be up when I got home last night and when they weren’t I ended up half-heartedly venting to Kelsey over facebook.

But real, present human interaction…that’s a lovely thing.

Guess I solved my own problem.

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everything is a balance.

Everything is a balance.

Balance between your mind and your gut reaction. Balance between excess of passion and lack of it. Balance between giving up everything and expecting everything. Balance between the heavenly and the earthly. The physical and the abstract. The high and the low. The feeling and the action.

Oh.

- oh.

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mark.

I just finished reading The Gospel of Mark for my Torrey class. It’s the last reading of the year, which makes me practically giddy, but it’s also been one of my favorites. I have never been very good at keeping up a devo and so I had as yet to have read through Mark in its entirety, much less in two days. But I did, and I’m glad Torrey includes the Bible readings it does. I freaking love the Bible.

From the beginning, Mark is fast-paced. Everything happens “immediately.” The stories are told shortly and to-the-point, in an almost disconnected fashion. Each story or moment is contained within its own paragraph, until we get to the end of the gospel – and even then Mark doesn’t embellish the Passion with any dramatic language. And yet the story is still so dramatic. Dorothy Sayers wrote an essay called “The Dogma is the Drama,” which I read two years ago, but if I remember it correctly, the idea was that the Gospel story is indeed the most dramatic of stories.

So how’s that happen? How does Mark, Peter’s friend, tell the most dramatic story in the history of the universe in such short prose, and still retain the drama? (At this point I feel like there ought to be a comparison to Hemingway’s prose but I actually have never read Hemingway sooo uh.) I think he does it because he makes it so clear throughout the whole book that Jesus is the Son of God, and that no-one understands that. Over and over Mark relates the parables and miracles that the Pharisees, the crowds, and even the disciples did not understand, and – it’s heartbreaking. When the bleeding woman touches his robe, or the father of the demon-posessed boy says, “I believe; help my unbelief!” or the blind man cries out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” it feels like the kind of relief that is necessary for a story where the Son of God’s own family attempt to take him home because they think he’s crazy. It’s not fair, but there are bright spots.

I thought it was interesting that Mark seems to be the least personal of the Gospels. Very rarely do we hear about individual apostles (except when they make mistakes) and the three groups – the Pharisees, the crowds, and the disciples – just feel like groups, not individual people. So all the focus is there on Jesus, this bright spot of individuality, and those individuals he interacts with. It’s like there’s the mass of people, there’s Jesus, and there are the brave few who can step out of the faceless crowd and meet God face to face before they sink back into the mass again. But imagine that when they sink back they still remain so bright it’s almost painful to look at them compared to the rest of the dull crowd, because I don’t image you could come that close to the Jesus you believe in and not be changed for the rest of your life.

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snobby artist opinion.

We’ve had artists speaking in chapel this week, and it makes me really happy inside. I love talking and learning about art. Especially when the weather is beautiful and it feels like summertime and Vitamin D is my favorite vitamin and and and yes. Anyways.

I could be totally mistaken about this, but for some reason I think there is something wrong with the phrase “integration of art and faith.” It’s one that I hear thrown around a lot in the art scene on campus, and it was used by a speaker to introduce our artist-speaker in chapel this morning. It had never bothered me before, but this morning it did. Because as that M.Div student uttered those words I sat there thinking, “if you’re a Christian artist, doesn’t your art always integrate your faith, anyway?” I doubt that non-believers sit around pondering the various ways to integrate their worldview into their art the way Christians seem to think their artists do.

Our faith influences the way we see the world. The way we see the world influences our creation. Our creation becomes our art and our faith is seen through it. It doesn’t have to be a conscious decision (faith is such an abstract term to start with anyway), or an afterthought, as though we could just stick the “faith part” in at the end. If we do our job as an artist, our belief and faith is seen. Perhaps not obviously, but art isn’t supposed to be obvious. It’d be boring if it was.

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on the road in weed, ca

SPRING BREAK!

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