Adventure in Seeking the Best

Last year at this time I made a grand proclamation. 2016 was going to be better than the catastrophe that was 2015. Whoops. I still kicked it in the teeth. It tried, but didn’t kill me. It tried, but didn’t break me. Rather than reviewing all of the garbage (deaths, surgery, and so much more), I’m going to try to seek out a few really good things that happened this year. It was more than an election. It was more than a mass of celebrity deaths. 2016 very nearly brought me to my breaking point.

So let’s try to make some sense of a year.

I was given a tribe. I worked and worked. I cried. I laughed. I forgot to eat. I battled my memory, but I found the most amazing people, and they took me in.

I pushed myself. I found new ways to be. I made myself be better. I made myself do better. I had to pull back from other things I care about, but it only made me miss those things too and want to work on them just as hard.

These images were a tiny dream fulfilled.

These two humans did so much more for my heart and my head than people will ever understand, and this image consistently fills me with joy.

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Honestly, these people. Every moment with them. On stage. In rehearsals. Burning fingertips making masks. Celebrating Harry Potter. Meeting late at Henry’s. This year would not have been as livable without each of them.

There was also a great deal of pie.

I was allowed to participate in An Evening With the Authors three times. In turn, I met some truly incredible people.

Did I mention all of the new Harry Potter? Cursed Child. Fantastic Beasts.

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And we got new X-Files. And new Star Wars.good-2016-22

Shakespeare readings continued in full force.

Danny Tamberelli called me “family.”

I scored some amazing best friend time. Some of it was sad. Some of it was painful. Most of it was hilarious. All of it was life-giving.

We got matching tattoos, and I eventually became mine. It was bound to happen.

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Some much needed time with my brother whenever we could get it.good-2016-28

I was loved in ways I’ll never be able to comprehend. Kindness came in so many ways, and I’m forever thankful.good-2016-33I was able to create a space for anything to happen, and I’m in love with it.

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We had so many amazing shows and so many opportunities.

I was able to do my very best to honor one of my reasons to love comedy. I think I did an alright job.

good-2016-3Even though she didn’t win, I was able to proudly and without hesitation vote for a candidate I believed in. I was able to vote for a main party candidate who also happened to be a woman.good-2016-43Gilda Catner and I became the same. It was already underway, but 2016 was the full transition.

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I wrote 115 affirmations, even when it was hard. I created 31 things for 31 straight days. I found or was sent over 100 new payphones. I communicated and received some pretty beautiful responses from two artists that changed my life, Julianne Swartz and Brian Michael Bendis. I met so many new people that I’m so proud to know. I had many successes, small though they were. I had some pretty big failures and defeats, but that’s not what this is about. Thank you to everyone who made 2016 livable. I couldn’t have done it without you.

 

Adventure in All Grown Up Now: Part I

Bossypants

Recently, I reread Tina Fey’s Bossypants during the day and Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes in the evening. Okay, truth is it was the first time I actually read Bossypants with my eyeballs. The first time I listened to it, read to me by Tina Fey. The point is they have a tendency to go hand-in-hand for me. Or maybe better said heart-and-head for me. Mostly, here’s why: On this reading of Bossypants something struck me. In the second chapter there’s a moment where Tina (we’re friends now. I can call her that), is talking about writing Mean Girls and attending one of Rosalind Wiseman’s workshops. A self-esteem and bullying workshop. She had everyone write down the moment they realized “they were a woman.” Tina (no, I’m not worthy) Fey talks about how so many of the women, most of the women, explained that their moment was largely when men started reacting to them. Indecently. In a real sexually harassy way.

It of course started my dumb brain churning. So I asked. I asked a lot of women to share their answer with me, so that I could, in turn, share that answer with you. I asked them more questions. I asked them 13 questions in total. (I think). I made myself answer them too. In retrospect, I’m a real monster. These were hard questions. Some people answered the questions and shared the answers with me, but asked that I not share them with you. I respect that. Some people answered every question. Some picked and chose. Some answered only the one question, which was all I truly insisted. If they chose to participate that they answer that one question. Like I said, they’re hard questions. And they’re personal questions. I still appreciate their willingness to share. Some people found it cathartic. I think some people are still afraid of me.

What that also means is that I didn’t think through how looooong this was going to be. I’m so sorry! I thought about doing a spotlight on each person. I thought about just posting it all at once. But I think it’s important. It’s important. They’re important. It’s important to me, at the very least, and I don’t want to take it lightly or gloss over anything. So I’m going to do this in a series. For me some of this was heartbreaking. Some of it was funny. All of it encouraged me. I hope it can offer you some of that as well.

Today, we’ll give you the introductions and the first few less terrifying questions, and we’ll work from there. I asked them all to include a photo and a 1-3 line bio, but I’m a dope so it was an afterthought, and I feel weird guessing at people’s lives or making them labor more. So I’m sorry to those of you who did labor over those (Meg). I believe I’ve kept everyone in the same order as well. So you can hopefully follow along. And thank you to everyone who I asked, who declined, who answered quietly. Thank you to Maria, Meg, Kristen G., Emily Y., Kristen K., Harmony, Ashley L., Courtney, Allison, Danee, Amber S., Rebekah, Emily L., Alex, Laura, Dana, Ashlee, Jessica, Amber F., Erica, Brett, and Allie. for sharing with all of us. (Apologies. Allie has just reminded me that I completely neglected her answers. Which was a stupid error. Please. Take the time to get to know her better as well!)

Ready?!

What is your favorite book of time, or did one ever change your life?

Maria: Tuesdays with Morrie was really impactful for me so much so that I still think about it years later. The idea of knowing you are going to die and walking through life with that perspective and what you leave behind.

Meg: Harry Potter all the way. I have read the series over and over again, which is something I have never done with any other book. It gives me an escape during times of stress. I even listen to the musical scores from the movies when I need to focus. :)

Kristen G.: The 21 Balloons – I don’t know why, just loved it and launched my love of reading. I also want to add The Red Tent to influential books

Emily Y.: I don’t know if I have a favorite book of all time, but Atonement by Ian McEwan was really formative for me in high school. It’s a book about how misinterpreting the intentions of others can spiral out of control to the point of unraveling the lives of those around you. It’s about how things aren’t always what they seem at first, and how speaking with authority on things you don’t understand is hugely detrimental. These are really important lessons to learn, and I’m so glad this book opened up my eyes to these concepts while I was still young.

Kristen K.: HP. All of them.
Changed my life because Dumbledore.

Hayley: I was not a big reader as a kid. I loved books. I loved the idea of books. But reading was a huge struggle for me. It really is today still, but I have a little bit more will to do it than I did when I was tiny. The Chronicles of Narnia are key to my heart. Still. I read them every year, and still find myself getting lost, getting angry, getting hurt, laughing. It’s weird how it still pulls at me.

Ashley L.: Anne of Green Gables. I have always very much admired Anne’s spunk. She did things her own way, and she didn’t apologize for being herself, even though she dreamed of more.

Danee: Unbearable Lightness of Being. It is romantic and philosophical and poetic and sad. It grapples with all the big questions in life and gave me a new understanding of the difference between empathy and sympathy and why the former is so rare.

Amber S.: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster has been a story I’ve enjoyed every time I’ve read it. I’ve actually been staring it down pretty frequently this summer. Maybe it’s time for another read.

Rebekah: So many books have changed my life and perspective. I’ll mention one: Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card. This novel-about a human colony on a distant, inhabited planet-beautifully explores the struggle to understand that thinks in a completely alien way: the underlying structure of the way the alien cultures think and the reality of their lives was mind blowing for me. This translates into my everyday life all the time. I’ll be in the middle of a conversation with someone and I’ll realize that the structure of their thinking and their fundamental beliefs about how the world works are so different from mine that we’re probably not understanding each-other. It’s my ongoing goal to try and learn how to communicate with my fellow humans in these situations.

Emily L.: Might sound cliche, but I would be lying if I didn’t honestly say the Bible. It has truly transformed and continues to transform my life. I have many other books that have spoken to me, but the Bible is the only one that continues to challenge and change me.

Alex: Brave New World was the first book that stuck with me to the point of losing sleep. I call it my favorite, but I’m not sure if it is my favorite for reasons other people would choose a favorite. I’ll just go with it changed me

Laura: I, like many people, love Harry Potter, but the book I would say changed my life is a YA best-seller that I will leave unnamed. I was reading it one day and thought, “This is a best-seller? It’s not even that good! I could do this. I bet I could do this.” So I started writing a novel.

Dana: Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson
—>The Holy Spirit met me each time I opened this book, revealing truths to me about fear and freedom. It was filled with the echoes of “Amen”s straight down to the core of my soul.

Jessica: My favorite book as a kid was Island of the Blue Dolphins. After middle school I didn’t read much and haven’t really picked it back up. Nothing monumental

Amber F.: That’s a hard one- many books have influenced me but I’d say Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed has had the most impact in my adult life. It is a compilation of advice columns she wrote as Dear Sugar for The Rumpus

Erica: My favorite book changes all the damn time. Currently, it’s Sugar Run Road by Ed Ochester.

Brett: The first book that changed my life was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. But books keep changing my life daily. Another big hitter was Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, and more recently, The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

Allie:   Predictable as this is, the Harry Potter books are my favorite. They teach me virtues that I consider necessary for living a good life. A book that has changed my life is Beloved by Toni Morrison. The intersection of injustice and motherhood has helped me see the world in a new way.  

Who was your childhood best friend?

Maria: Oh dear…Caitlin Haller (Whitman) and Hayley Johnson

Meg: Krista Seaman. She was my neighbor, but we became more like sisters. I am honored to stand up next to her as she marries her partner next summer. We’re still quite close

Kristen G.: I would say that I didn’t have a dear, best friend of my heart until college. But, to answer your question, Joanne Nirella.

Emily Y.: I’ve never really had just one best friend. That’s not really how I have ever functioned. But Rose Walters is probably the one I remember most from elementary school.

Kristen K.: My cousin Kate.

Hayley: Maria Bowersock(see above). The way friends are when you’re small. Sleepovers. Birthday parties. Lasting embarrassing pictures and fashion mistakes. Dreaming of the future. Giggling in matching Little Mermaid sleeping bags. We stayed close through high school. College happened, but we’re still friends. I think to a degree you never lose that person. Not really.

Ashley L.: I’ve never had a true “best friend.” I’ve made some close friends throughout the years, some of which I am still close with, but never a “bosom friend,” as Anne would say. Growing up as an only child, I learned to entertain myself, so I guess you could say that I was my own best friend growing up.

Courtney: My childhood best friend (or at least, the first best friend I can remember) was Alex Knupp. We met each other in elementary school and became fast friends. Going over to her house was a treat for me because she lived out in the country and had a barn that was filled with baby kitties. I remember one time I visited her house, I was able to hold a kitten that had been born that week. It was so tiny and small – I had never seen such a small, baby animal before then. The year after we became friends, she told me she was transferring to a new school and I was devastated. We promised we would write to each other and we did – we were pen pals for years both through snail mail and now email. I still have some of the letters she wrote me- you know, saying the normal “School is ok…” “I have a tennis championship coming up I am excited about!” “My sister is driving me crazy…!” Small little memories… Now, she pops up in my News Feed and I see her life unfold. She just had a baby a month or so ago. I should drop a line and say hello.

Allison: My best friend since I was 12 years old is Dawn. She was kind to me when a group of girls I was friends with suddenly decided that they didn’t want to hang out with me anymore. That’s middle school for ya. Dawn and I rode the same bus and she reached out to me to sit with her, knowing that I had been ostracized. We’ve been fast friends ever since! We egged on each other’s sense of humor and had a million inside jokes. It kept us going through the awfulness of middle school and high school. We had a running gag that we did for a few years where we faked each other’s secret admirers for Valentine’s Day. I wrote her a letter that detailed how I first fell in love with her. I saw her running to the bus and trip in fall in mud, and she laughed at herself and just got right back up and got on the bus (this is all a lie of course!). My friendship with Dawn taught me that it is okay to laugh at myself and have self-confidence. Even though we have moved apart and don’t talk as much, we still have a soulful connection that is quite strong.

Amber S.: There was a small group of us all through elementary school. Sara and I shared the same birthday (she’s an hour or two older). April always had awesome slumber parties. Kelsey’s parents were friends with mine.

Emily L.: I had many at various times, but the one I had for the longest amount of time was Jennifer Berry

Alex: My childhood best friend was Shawn Flynn; a person, not unlike myself that was perfectly happy not fitting into gender roles and beating the boys at their own games. Shawn and I are still friends to this day, though not as close as we once were.

Laura: My childhood best friend was Sarah- a girl who went along with all of my schemes and got everything I ever wanted. Seriously- cookies for lunch, a puppy, a horse, you name it.

Dana: Hands down, Rebekah Nimtz. So much can be said about this beautiful woman. But I will be brief, laying down the basics. I remember first seeing her on the slide at recess in third grade, a year before our divine friendship would begin. It’s probably the most beautiful love story of my life to date. :) I remember seeing her and knowing we were kindred spirits. How did I know? Pretty sure is was a Jesus thing. She became a part of my life at just the right time (my parent’s divorce). She brought a calm and peace that carried me through some very difficult, lonely times. Hmmm…she may not even know that. But I thank God for her every day. She was Jesus to me. And don’t even get me started on her family!

Ashlee: Stephanie Rutan was my childhood best friend. We bonded over big glasses and bead lizards. She and I remained friends all through high school. We moved through all the typical teenage phases together. We followed all the rules together, and then broke them all. We went through our first boyfriends and break ups. We became distant throughout college, with only a few visits here and there. I am so glad that after college she and I reconnected. We were able to make up for lost time so quickly. There is something so beautiful about being known and deeply loved by someone who knew and loved you in middle school. Becoming distant during such formative college years has made this new phase of our friendship such a beautiful thing.

Jessica: I had a few good friends growing up but they all ended badly so my looking back version of the relationship is skewed. I don’t have any “life long” friends.

Amber F.: Elizabeth

Erica: Heather Baldridge

Brett: I don’t have just one best friend from childhood. I made friends easily as a kid and had many of them. My mom used to joke that I could make a friend in the bathroom. One time, I did.

Allie: Kristen Koenig (her maiden name) and I became friends in third grade, based mostly on the fact that we loved Point of Grace and were over-achievers and teachers’ pets. Apparently that was enough, because we stuck it out through middle school, high school, and were in each other’s weddings. 

When you were small what did you want to be?

Maria: A teacher

Meg: I wanted to be a lot of things, but I think I wanted to be a teacher the most. Some of the closest relationships I have had in life have been with educators. One of my college professors actually married my husband and I. I guess from an early age I felt like if I could be that difference for one student, I will have honored my previous teachers. Does that make sense?

Kristen G.: Teacher. But that’s all I knew :)

Emily Y.: A Pediatrician.

Kristen K.: At age 7 I decided to be an actor because I was shy in real life, but not shy on stage. This is still true.

Hayley: A mermaid.
Reality set in eventually. Sort of. Explorer, teacher, abandoned in the jungle, a fairy, a lost boy, a newsboy. Then I learned about acting.

Ashley L.: I had all the usual little girl dreams, including a figure skater, ballerina, actress, and singer, but I finally settled down and told my parents that I just wanted to be a professional. It didn’t matter what occupation it was, as long as I was a professional. For awhile in elementary school, there was a waitress at Pizza Hut that I really liked, so I wanted to be a professional pizza waitress.

Allison: When I was a kid I wanted to be one of three things: A ballet dancer, a singer, or a counselor. I have since abandoned the first two dreams, but it is quite possible I will become a therapist one day. I plan to apply to a Social Work grad program next fall.

Danee: A librarian. I loved the idea of being surrounded by books and I thought librarians must get to read all day. Instead, I became a perpetual student, and haven’t had nearly as much time to read for fun as I thought that would afford me.

Amber S.: A meteorologist. Then an accountant. What a weird kid.

Rebekah: A missionary and a scientist.

Emily L.: Many things-a teacher, waitress, mom, brain surgeon.

Alex: Happy. Being a queer kid growing up in the Bible Belt of Missouri during the 90s wasn’t fun. This isn’t to say I had a horrible life. It just means I was aware before I could articulate the details that I was different. I grew up watching my brother be called a ‘fag’ for the smallest things that had nothing to do with his orientation. If my straight brother was attacked I was certain this was what would happen to me as a person that was different. I knew that my lack of heteronormative behavior resigned me to suffer at the hands of others if I was authentic. Thankfully the world is changing and my parents did/do a great job of supporting me and attempting to understand.

Laura: A boy. Or a dog. Or (more realistically) a veterinarian.

Dana: I desired to be an artist of every possible facet. It’s the first thing I can recall. I think the artisan in me has flourished each day ever since.

Ashlee: I can’t remember wanting to be anything other than a teacher. I really wanted to be a truck driver, but my parents quickly discouraged that dream!

Jessica: When I was small I wanted to be an archeologist.

Amber F.: A teacher

Erica: A police officer. They rescued me many times from some serious home situations. I respected them, a lot.

Brett: I always wanted to be an author. Before that, I wanted to be a bird.

Allie: My young career ambitions stemmed from my involvement in Science Olympiad (yes, big nerd). In middle school I wanted to be an astronomer, but I often got the terminology mixed up and would say astrologer. Then I wanted to get into forensic chemistry. 
If you could have one super power, what would you want?

Maria: To fly!

Meg: FLIGHT! I would love to fly. I often dream that I can :)

Kristen G.: To be “ready” in the morning with the snap of my fingers. Showered, hair done, etc

Emily Y.: MEAT VISION. No, just kidding. That’s actually kind of gross. This question is hard, because I want to say something like invisibility or flying or reading minds, but if I was a witch in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter world, I could do all these things if I worked hard enough or studied enough, probably.
I think I would like my super power would be to be Hermione Granger.

Kristen K.: Pee money. The more water I drink the more money I have.

Hayley: Adoptive muscle memory. That’s the ability do a thing after you’ve seen someone do a thing.

Ashley L.: If I could have any superpower, I would want the ability to transport myself anywhere with the flick of a finger.

Danee: To control my dreams. I love being able to see and speak to my deceased relatives in my dreams. It always feels so real and so comforting. I wish I could visit them every night!

Amber S: Teleportation, for sure, if that’s a super power. The ability to instantly be in the middle of a quiet forest, or in a busy city, or at that cafe for the perfect cup of coffee.

Rebekah: Long-distance teleportation

Emily L.: Difficult question because I feel like many super powers aren’t applicable in every day life(I’m practical like that), but I guess the power to transport anywhere quickly would be most convenient

Alex: Does being Sylar count as one or is that cheating? Too bad.

Laura: Teleportation. Seriously. Could you imagine? “I’m spending the afternoon in Italy…”  :)

Dana: Am I allowed to say that I don’t think I’d want one? After careful consideration, I think this would probably be best. I first thought I’d love the power of healing at my fingertips. But then, I’m not God. And the weight of that kind of responsibility–I don’t know if I could rule that gift wisely. I think the humility of such a power would wear off, and my ego would get in the way. So…
Maybe flight. I’d like to fly.

Ashlee: Being able to talk to and understand animals. God, I want to know what Izzo is thinking.

Jessica: If i had a super power I would want to know what other people are really thinking.

Amber F.: Invisibility

Erica: The power to make anyone feel better

Brett: The power of invisibility. I know I would get into lots of trouble though.

Allie:  It’s a toss up between time travel and teleportation. 

What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

Maria: walk in the boys locker room while they were all naked (total accident of course!) ha but seriously, going to my parents funeral and walking in the hospital to see my brother in a coma after a plane crash. Never been so scared in my life.

Meg: This last year, I watched my godmother be taken off life support. I knew it was the right thing to do, and she would have been glad to know she was surrounded by those who loved her, but it was maybe the scariest moment of my life. I’m still trying to pinpoint how life exists without her.

Kristen G.: I don’t know. Can’t think of a thing. What does that mean?

Emily Y.: Interviews for PA school. You put everything about yourself that “matters” on an application. They see everything you have worked so hard for your whole life. GPA, GRE scores, a personal essay about what matters to you. Then you go in and they evaluate you. On paper, by how you look, by how you speak, byy what you say. And the whole time you are just hoping and praying that the picture they get of you is how you actually are…but you know it won’t be, because that’s not possible. You spend a TON of money on this process. And then you wait and wait and wait and hope someone likes you enough to invite you to go to school to live out your dream. SO MUCH is riding on that process. I mean, I’m good at interviews, and I really don’t mind doing them. I do well in them. My interviews for PA school were no different. But when I stopped to think about the weight of each one, I was totally overwhelmed. I was thinking, “If you screw this up, you have to pick a different dream.” That’s scary.

Kristen K.: Everything.

Hayley: Tell people in my life that I love and need the truth about the things that have happened to me. Not because I believed they wouldn’t love me, but because it’s so scary to say out loud. Still is. Reactions are scary.

Ashley L.: Whenever I have to drive at night while it’s pouring down rain, it’s the scariest thing ever. I have literally cried and prayed, “Jesus, take the wheel” during a bad weather driving experience. Other than that, I would say cutting my long hair into a pixie cut back in 2011. I was used to having my hair to hide behind, so that was scary. Plus, I was worried that I would look like a little boy.

Courtney: Went to the movie theatre to see Wolfman. Duh

Allison: This is a tough question for me. I have always had great difficulty with anxiety and fear. Growing up and through my early twenties even, there were many scenarios that seemed like they were the scariest thing I have ever done. I let fear and anxiety rule my life. In the last 10 years or so, I have been working harder than ever to face my fears and do the things that I am scared of. When I was living in Chicago, I worked at a job that terrified and tortured me on a psychological level for longer than I probably should have. I stayed because I was working with a therapist who encouraged me to push through and because I couldn’t find another job! But I survived and it’s over. I look back on that and I think “if I can do that, I can do anything.”

Danee: I once decided to move to Muncie, Indiana for grad school and within one week, I packed all my belongings in my Toyota Tercel and drove to Indiana with no idea what to expect and no place to live. It was terrifying, and ultimately that decision changed the course of my life in really incredible ways. The most incredible of which was leading me to my partner and my other half.

Amber S.: Anything that involves standing up for myself is absolutely petrifying to me. There have been quite a few moments of that recently that have left me in a constant state of stressful uncertainty.

Rebekah: Stand up for myself during my divorce.

Emily L.: I do tend to shy away from scary things the older I get, but the most recent thing I can think of that I willingly did that was scary was give birth naturally to my children.

Alex: I think the scariest thing for me was being authentic. I spent years lying about the most basic things and having to construct a world where my life made sense in order to survive. There are many people in real physical danger due to their orientation and gender identity on a daily basis but mine was far less physical danger and more the fear of ultimate rejection and disappointing those I loved. Even with people I knew had accepted other LGBT people I always felt I was going to be the exception to their acceptance. Living honestly is hard, especially when the world wants to silence your voice.

Laura: Have a baby.

Dana: Speak my mind. Open my heart. To ones who were entirely capable of destroying both. But in that, there came a great freedom. It continues to make me brave each day. And bold.

Jessica: The scariest thing I’ve ever done was quitting my teaching job when I had no plan. I just knew that I needed to do something different to keep my sanity so I just did it.

Amber F.: Hmm, another hard one. I play it pretty safe, but I’d say getting married and then 15 years later getting divorced.

Erica: Applying for grad school. And actually GOING to grad school.

Brett: I fell off a cliff when I was 18.

Allie: Parenting has been the scariest long-term thing, but I didn’t know it would be this scary when I started. Besides that, I did a six-month youth ministry internship that terrified me. I woke up almost every day scared of what I had to do, even though it was pretty normal stuff for someone in that field. Walking up to high school students I didn’t know during their lunch hour and starting a conversation, learning a culture I was unfamiliar with, and believing I had something to offer on a team of people I respected were just a few of the things that scared me. I left that time of my life feeling like I could do anything because I had to face small but real fears every day. I don’t often feel that confident anymore, and I also think I haven’t pushed myself to risk in that way in a long time. I’m sure there’s a connection. 
What, without fail, makes you cry?

Maria: Wanting to walk in my parents home again and all to feel “normal”

Meg: When people do genuine good deeds. It chokes me up every time and reminds me that humanity still exists.

Kristen G.: Children being hurt – abused – neglected

Emily Y.: Seeing videos of people suffer.

Kristen K.: Little boys who resemble the blonde haired, blue sunken eyed little brother of mine.

Hayley: Strong sibling relationships. In real life. In media. When sisters can’t survive without each other. When one sibling calls another as everything falls apart or comes together. Sobfest.
Xander saving Willow.
Hedwig’s death.

Ashley L.: The song “It is well with my soul.” Listening to it is hard enough, and I can’t sing it all the way through without getting visibly choked up and teary.
So I just remembered another thing that always makes me emotional and choked up…and this one is dumb. The Michael Jackson song from Free Willy. So embarrassing.

Danee: Thinking about all the things my dad has missed out on since he died. I’d say more, but I don’t have any tissues around right now.

Amber S.: I’m not sure if there’s anything that makes me cry every time, but I’d say the one thing I cry about most often is being limited/constricted by life in the city. I grew up spending any day above 50 outside in gardens and barns and my body yearns for that like I never imagined possible.

Rebekah: George Kirk in the opening sequence of the Star Trek reboot

Emily L.: I’m not sure there is an automated cry with me. I tend to be all over the place. Usually something with children growing up or not getting the chance to grow up makes me teary eyed or more recently in my pregnancy induced, hormonal state, I almost always cry during worship on Sunday morning.

Alex: Tons. Some less heavy than others.
-Mufasa dying. Well Simba crying and cuddling after.
-Dawson’s Creek, when Mitch dies or Jen is leaving the video message.
-Grace. From Christ or even just a human whom I have failed in some way reaching out despite the pain to reconcile.
-The mere thought of living a day on this earth without any one of three people. Like panic attack crying if I genuinely think about it. Hopefully we all die in a really fast and easy way together.
-The act of someone harming anyone else. Emotional, physically, sexually, financially, etc. it breaks my heart to watch others have their light stolen.

Laura: Anything to do with military. Particularly all those videos of kids crying and pets rejoicing when their parents come home from deployment. I have no idea why- I never had any personal experience with this. But I cry every single time. Veterans in a parade, my grandpa’s WWII photo album, you name it, I cry at it. And I’m not really a crier.

Dana: Oh my.
Just so many things.
-watching a father love his daughter
-when my soul is beyond satiated in the presence of my Holy Father
-forgiveness
-sweet, unexpected reunions; not even my personal ones. If every day was like the first five minutes of Love Actually? My eyes would be swollen with tears.
-seeing a strong man cry
-AND…the occasional love song that says all the right things. Like–right now–the song “Marry Me” by Train?

Ashlee: Any time they move that bus on Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Because I am approaching the end of my twenties, I cry when I work through family of origin issues.

Jessica: The special occasion cards/notes my husband writes always always make me cry

Amber F.: Thinking of my Papa (my mother’s father). He was my “person” and he died 5 years ago.

Erica: Thinking about my childhood dog, Heidi. She changed me.

Brett: My go-to TV shows. The ones that allow me to fall in love with the characters and feel close to them: The West Wing, Californication, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, I’ll stop now so you’re not reading for 2 months.

Allie:  Women and men, boys and girls knowing themselves and finding freedom from gender stereotypes. I recently sobbed while watching the commercial about what it means to run and throw “like a girl.”

Adventure in Lists, Day 6

Here is another set of two days’ lists. Again another throw-away list and one I actually more carefully considered

Top Ten Favorite Superpowers

We’re going to start off by noting things that people like Peter Petrelli and Rogue carry around are stupid. If I could just absorb anyone’s ability, then I’m not special. I’m a parasite.

10. Super-strength/Super-speed
This feels like it would only be convenient for being unnecessarily impressive or for life-threatening situations. I assume that I can control it, so I don’t smash a ton of pickle jars or anything. So unless someone is trapped under a car, or I need to hold up a building for reasons, I’m not sold. And speed just seems mostly useless. I can get to you way quick? Great, but I imagine I’d still get tired like I do now.

9. Flight
Flight is sort of overrated I think. I mean, in theory it’s nice, but I assume I don’t have super strength, so I can’t bring other people with me. I am still bound by atmosphere and air pressure changes. So it’s convenient for getting from a to b, but mostly it’s just a little faster

8. Healing/Rapid-cellular Regeneration
This seems better to me than being invincible. Invincibility sort of takes away some of the parts that still make me human, so I’d prefer to still be able to feel pain and then be able to come back from that. Also, if it’s possible that my power can somehow benefit more people, so much the better.

7. Precognition
My brain tells me I would like this because I like to be able to prepare for all circumstances, but odds are I’d end up hating it. Unless, I’m able to control when I do or do not get to take on visions. Otherwise, I’m going to be pretty mad it made it this high on the list.

6. Omni-linguism/Polyglotism
This just feels practical. To naturally be able to understand and speak all languages.

5. Teleportation
This one plays to my laziness, but it would also just be good to be able to see the people I love whenever I want. That would be so nice. Not that I don’t value the time spent alone or with one or more close friends, but to get to immediately be with people. That’d be wonderful.

4. Telekinesis
I’ll be honest. This sounds great because I’m a very lazy person. To be able to reach for something across the room and have it in my hand. Yes, please.

3. Telepathy
For communication only. I think I’d hate every moment I could read another person’s uncontrolled thoughts. I think they’d constantly break my heart, but to be able to communicate with someone silently in an instant. That sounds great

2. Waterbreathing
Again, assuming pressure holds, but still to be able to be underwater for an indefinite amount of time, not by holding my breath but maintaining it. That would be ideal. I’d never leave the water, though I assume I must at some point. I would think that my skin would still absorb water as well, and that I would be susceptible to at the very least a severe form of water log, if not drowning.

1. Muscle Mimicry
Honestly, and to me this isn’t like absorbing powers. It’s the ability to see something done and be capable of doing it. I would say this doesn’t apply to superpowers. That it would only be things ordinary people could do, but to be able to acquire any skill would be amazing. To be able to see a gymnast and then replicate a routine or paint or dance. There are so many things I’ll never be able to do, but some times when I see people do things my brain convinces me I can. I can’t. I want to.

I won’t take the time to justify all of these. There are a lot of opinions out there, I’m sure. I’ll just add a quick note to a few, but probably just Harry Potter

Top Ten Favorite Children’s Books

10. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

9. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

8. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

7. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Surprised this isn’t nearer to number 1? Surprised this one and not other ones? Not nearer the top because there are things that speak to my heart more frequently, better, and longer. And why this one? Because this is the one that brings you in, and this is the one, in my opinion, that maintains itself as a children’s book. After this one they become adolescent lit.

5. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

4. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

3. Matilda by Roald Dahl

2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

1. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Adventure in Redemption Tales

They’re remarkable. They’re the most beautiful stories that exist to tell. Stories that take completely hideous, shattered pieces and put them back together even better than before. It’s beautiful. More over, they’re important. No. They’re essential.

I have a few favorite redemption stories.

Severus Snape: Harry Potter.

snape

We go on a journey with Snape for 7 books. Arguably, Snape’s story in the series is just as important, if not more. The thing that saves Harry in the first place is love, and the thing that gets him through every year is love. Snape makes some pretty horrible life decisions, following the Dark Lord being a key one. And honestly, Snape is redeemed the moment he turns to Dumbledore for help, but we don’t see that until the end of his life. We see the actions of a man so ravaged by heartache he won’t or can’t let us see beyond that. And in a few tears we learn the truth about Snape. That his redemption came with great pain, as all redemptions do. A lot of Snape’s was self-inflicted. Most of it. Grace is a terribly hard thing to accept. Dumbledore offered it to him, but Snape chose to hide his true intentions. I won’t get into why that too is selfishness, but to some degree that choice took away the pride of it. I can’t say this enough. Grace is a terrible hard thing to accept. Wizard or not.

Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader: Star Wars

vader

Regardless of your opinions on episodes 1 through 3, what you’re looking at is a six movie series about one story. One. Story. The fall and redemption of one man. Innocent kid. Noble ambitions, and then. Guys, darkness is so tempting. It’s so, so tempting to just give in. To want power. To crave accolades. I get it. I really do, and then once you’re in that mess it’s even harder to get out of it. An addiction, to anything, is always with you, and it rested with little Anakin until the end of his life. Until he made one final push in his last moments and sought redemption. Darkness is so tempting.

William the Bloody/Spike: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

spike

Spike is a monster. I mean that literally. Spike is a vampire, who spends centuries killing people. And like Anakin he started out a sweet guy. Just taking care of his mom, writing horrible poems, being the butt of all of the jokes. He kills not one, but two slayers. He spends the better part of 7 seasons trying to kill Buffy too. At the end of season 6 Spike snaps. He tries to rape Buffy, and when he realizes what he’s done he leaves. Seemingly forever. He goes through a series of trials, cleansings, for one purpose. Vamps don’t have souls. Well, now two do. Angel and Spike. And Spike paid for his. When it was back, it ate him from the inside. Because knowing the truth makes the whole world a lot harder to take. Ultimately, Spike’s soul saved us all. Knowing the truth makes the whole world a lot harder to take.

Edmund Pevensie: The Chronicles of Narnia

edmund

This one is my favorite. Edmund did not start out a sweet kid. At all. He was a brat and a bully. He deliberately betrayed his family. Not like “hm, ok this is fine.” No. Edmund was all “yeah. they’re dumb. I can be king. I’m outtie, and they’re done.” (Pretty sure that’s a direct quote). Ya know what’s worse about Edmund? He knows. Even as things get worse, he knows. AND he knows how he could get out of it. BUT HE DOESN’T DO IT!! He just keeps on saying “yeah, no thanks. Ol’ Pete’s a know-it-all and Susan is a snot and Lucy is funny looking. I’m not gonna deal with them anymore.” And Edmund is STILL welcomed back into the fold, AND his king says “yeah, you’re supposed to die. I’ll take care of it.” Which Edmund assumes means negotiate. Oh Aslan negotiated. He negotiated himself right onto that stone table for ONE kid. One punk-ass kid. One punk-ass kid who grew up to be a kind king and a grateful and wise man.

In 1999 on the floor of a huge room of a lodge on a winter retreat, curled up in a ball next to Katelyn Knuth, Hayley Johnson was also redeemed. She continued to make horrible mistakes. She continues to make horrible mistakes. And every day she struggles to look at the world and live in it knowing the truth. Why even bother staying knowing it’s only going to get darker here and there’s light she can live in? Darkness is so tempting. Every day darkness is tempting. And some times she gives into it. Every day, every hour is a struggle to accept grace. But without it she’d be lost. Without it she’d be dead. Without I am lost. Without I’d be dead.

Adventure in a Moment of Hard Honesty

I need to be honest with you guys. I feel like in a big way I’ve been lying to you all, and it’s time for me to come clean. I’m sorry about all of this, but please forgive me.

*Deep Breath*

I think I have stronger feels about Chronicles of Narnia than I do about Harry Potter. Now, please, hold on. Stay with me. I was raised on the Chronicles of Narnia. Maybe it’s not that my feels are stronger. Maybe it’s this. Maybe in the summer and in the winter I’m in love with Narnia. And maybe in the spring and the autumn I’m in love with Hogwarts.

Because I can’t stop thinking about Narnia lately. It’s happened with Hogwarts before, but not in the winter. In the winter I want to be surrounded by fauns and lampposts and old professors. In the summer I want it too. And I want ships and adventures and handsome princes.

In the autumn I want pumpkin juice and knitting that takes care of itself and wooden things and wands. In the spring I want all of that and to stave off evil one more year.

The truth is, though, the hard truth is that when it comes down to it I feel stronger emotional connections to Lucy and Edmund, particularly Edmund, than I ever do to Harry, Ron, or Hermione. Or even Snape. Don’t get me wrong here, because I have strong feels, and as I get old the feels get stronger. But in my head Harry Potter is this puzzle I’m still discovering new pieces too. But Narnia is the beating of my heart. With each pulse my heart murmurs “Aslan is not a tame lion.” With each breath I sigh “Even a traitor may mend.” Each pass in front of the mirror I blink “I will say the spell. I don’t care!”

The mystery of Potter plays at my brain, but the connection and time I’ve spent growing with Narnia invades my thoughts. Daily.

Raise your children on good, strong, well-written books. Always.

Adventure in Hauntober 6: Costume edition

I’ve decided to take a break from the movie rundown for a moment. Don’t worry, the next post is all about serial killers and slasher films, so this is the break you need. So I’m offering you costumes of years gone by. Not all from Halloween, actually most of them are from theatre parties. You’ll see. It’s really one of my favorite things about Halloween. To take a break for one night to be anyone I want. Or someone I’ve always wanted to be.

Up first we have me as Carmen San Diego. This was for a Halloween party a few years ago. A costume so good that people who walked passed me without even noticing me knowing full well I was there in this costume. I sadly never got a full shot of the costume, but I managed to find a full length red trench coat to wear over black pants and a black shirt. Topped off with a Red Hat Lady’s hat I altered.

This is my Breathless Mahoney. I’m pictured here with my friend Emily who was Kelly Kapowski. Sadly I don’t think photographic evidence exists of me with my friend Chris dressed exactly like Dick Tracy. But we were perfect. We just were.

Prombie. In college, as I’ve mentioned before, a friend of mine asked me to write a screenplay for a zombie movie. This is one of my many costumes as an extra in this. I felt a prombie was essential for any and every zombie movie.Alright so this is (left to right) Trey, lazily wearing Melissa’s Death Eaters shirt, me as Tonks, Melissa as Bellatrix, and Dustin as Neville for the opening of the final Harry Potter installment.On a similar note this is my house, the House of Fisher, dressed as characters for class. The back row left to right Ashley as Luna, um…kid? as Fred, Ryan as Harry (obviously), Joanna???? as Umbridge (what a choice), other kid as George, me as Ginny, (middle row) Alf as Hermione, Abby??? as Tonks, (in the front) Katie as Trelawney, and Julie as Fleur.. We were pretty great. Sort of the perfect house.The Stance is a Huntington tradition. It takes place on the night before the first day of classes. It’s sort of casual welcome back to school. And the joke is that since dancing was forbidden for so long at Huntington we had a party just about standing around to music. Well, the other tradition was the theatre girls dressed like idiots. This is from senior year.This is from junior year. I’m not sure where the pictures from sophomore year went.In the costume shop there are these unexplained costumes. Three of them are sheep. And every now and then they come out. Suddenly there are just sheep. This was our day. This is Cara and me.Oh did I mention there’s also an alligator? And yeah, that’s Matthias dressed as the Shope (See: sheep pope)My sophomore year my RA came up to me and said “Would you please be our teams female belly flop contestant?” I looked at her for a while and said “alright, but only if I can dress as a robot.” This clearly was not a problem. I put together this horrible robot costume, and my roommate put together a mad scientist costume. From the side of the pool she had a giant remote control. As I reached the end of the board Cara hit the flop button on the remote and smashed into the pool. I won. Obviously.At the last minute for the Masquerade Blade I pulled together a Velma Dinklage costume. Moments later Lauren wanted to go to and pulled together a Freddie Jones. With even less time Cara came through declaring she wanted to go to and was suddenly Daphne Blake. Well, then we need a Shaggy. And Josh already looked like him so we told him to put on a green shirt. We didn’t eve care that he wore jeans.One day in the winter Kristen and I decided we wanted to play in the snow. I drove up to Fort Wayne and we went over to the old fort. Oh, did I mention we wanted to play in the snow because we wanted to make a snow TARDIS? So she dressed as Rose Tyler, and here I am as Donna Noble. That’s right, Kristen and I were costumes to hang out.

Oh, did you want to see it? It’s pretty bad. We clearly overestimated our abilities and got lazy. And cold. Snow is cold, guys.

For the Golden Wienies (read: theatre awards) we always dress in costume. If we do it correctly anyway. Well, my senior year I just didn’t even care if no one understood. So I cut up an old skirt that I can’t explain why I owned and a a shirt (pictured in the stance from senior year). Mostly my bangs made me look like DJ Tanner, and only Patrick knew who I was.Junior year for Wienies I fulfilled a life-long goal. So here I am as Red Fraggle, which isn’t that big of a stretch. That’s my real hair. I should say that. It’s always my real hair. I’m really proud of this costume though. 

Sophomore year we all got really into Firefly. We tried to get a whole cast, but only managed to get the main characters from Serenity. I’m pretty proud of this too, because I dyed Josh’s coat and made some alterations. Transformed that skirt into a dress for Cara, and found all the perfect articles for my Zoe outfit. (You’ll note I’m not black).

Ok, brace for some tastelessness. My freshman year Amber and I were sitting aroudn trying to think of something for a redhead, black chick and a blonde girl. We really wanted to be Josie and the Pussycats, but couldn’t track down leotards. We talked about being the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus. And while flipping through a magazine I joked “We could be Saddam and Osama.” “What about Maria?” Amber said. “Hmmm.” “George W!” Amber yelled, “We’ll be terrorists!” Look, I said it was tasteless, but it was really funny. The town hated us. So this is me as Saddam. (I bet you didn’t know he had red fingernails.

This is one of two Cyndi Lauper costumes. One was in high school. This is better. The hair isn’t as good. But this is what I wore to an airport Halloween party a couple of years ago.

Here’s the hair.

Growing up Halloween wasn’t a big deal in our house> i wasn’t allowed to watch Hocus Pocus. I couldn’t go trick or treating. My costumes were things like cats and cheerleaders. One year (clearly, I’m a cat here) my grandparents wanted to take us to their friend’s house. Their friend was a clown. I’ve never been the same.

And finally, this year, I got lazy and it was last minute so here I am as Hipster Ariel. I wish I could have gotten my hands on some suspenders. 

But the good news is this. If you come to YoYo this Halloween you’ll find me and two of my coworkers fulfilling another dream of mine. We’ll be dressed as the Sanderson sisters.

Adventure in Hauntober: Part 2! The Return of Hauntober

After the first installment of Hauntober, I decided it was important than I did two more installments. So today I offer you the autumnal movies that get me through October. I will say, none of them are notably haunting, well that’s not exclusively true. It’s mostly true though. These are the movies that put me in front of a fire or curled up in bed in a pair of leggings and leg warmers. Some knee high socks and an over-sized sweatshirt. (As a rule this is also my go-to laying around the house outfit). (Also, as a rule, this is not a leaving the house EVER outfit, because I care about you as humans).

So here they are my autumn movies, for no other reason than they feel like autumn to me:

Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968):
This is classic ’60s Disney. The ghost of Blackbeard (Peter Ustinov) himself is called on by accident when Dean Jones reads a spell out loud. The old captain must redeem himself and help out a pack of old ladies who happen to be his ancestors. Zaniness ensues. Drunk pirate zaniness. Ships on the land? With wheels? This is unheard of! Oh did I mention that no one except Dean Jones can see Blackbeard?

The Canterville Ghost (1996):
Sir Simon de Canterville (Sir Patrick Stewart) is condemned to haunt his old home thanks to a gypsy and a family curse. He can only be released from the curse and forgiven of his sins when a young girl (Neve Campbell, that’s right. It was the ’90s and the height of Neve Campbell season) prays for him. This isn’t the first of the TV specials you’ll see on my list, but it is the only Oscar Wilde retelling. Plus! There are two younger brothers in this movie (Adam and Washington), who get along better than young brothers are supposed to. They act as one human being. It’s really creepier than the ghost.

The Cider House Rules (1999):
An all-star cast with Michael Caine, Tobey Macguire, Charlize Theron, and Paul Rudd deal with abortions and apples (this is not an accurate summary. well kind of) in this Academy Award-winning film adaptation of John Irving’s novel of the same name.

Chronicles of Narnia (1988-1990):
C.S. Lewis’ famous series told by none other than the BBC. In the ’80s. So brace yourself for camp, but if you can look away from the poor production value then you’ll see a pretty darn accurate depiction of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treder, and The Silver Chair. Not to mention you’ll get to see the Doctor (Tom Baker) play Puddleglum. The music from these movies still haunts my head and my heart. And by movies I mean mini-serials.

Clue (1985):
A zany list of what are now B-listers take to the screen for a romp through a favorite board game. Christopher Lloyd, Martin Mull, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, Michael McKean, and Lesley Ann Warren bring the board game to life as they try to figure out who killed Mr. Body and several other people. Puns and mayhem fill the screen. Not to mention this movie has three endings, son!

Dead Poets Society (1989):
Alright, if you have seen this movie, then I’m sorry. You weren’t even warned by Robin Williams having a beard, so how could you have known in advance that you were going to cry? You couldn’t, so I’m warning you. Brotherhood, poetry, suicide, theatre. See? You’re sad already. Just watch it.

Donnie Darko (2001):
I reckon I could qualify this as a Halloween movie as well. Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhall) isn’t anything special. Unless you consider schizophrenia and time travel notably special. They’re pretty common place in my life. (awful jokes) If you can keep yourself from having nightmares about Frank and completely ignore the fact that there is a nonsensical sequel out there then you’ll be fine.

Eulogy (2004):
This is a movie that comes from a time in the world where I didn’t want to punch Zooey Deschenal. That time is over now. Long over. Grandpa has died and the family is coming together for the first time in a long time. I promise, you’ll even learn to tolerate Ray Romano by the end. Dysfunctional families are always funny right? Right? Especially when you hand them suicidal tendencies, marijuana, an over abundance of sexuality, and self-loathing. Right? Okay, so it’s a dark comedy.

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009):
Wes Anderson’s first movie on the list. It’s a vague retelling of Roald Dahl’s book of the same name. Really vague. But it’s star-studded cast in, easily, the most beautiful claymation I’ve ever seen. As always Anderson’s team bring together a beautiful soundtrack that echoes with autumn. And the colors, oh the colors. It’s a real clustercuss of autumn. Did I mention it’s funny? Yeah. It’s that.

The Four Seasons (1981):
Alan Alda, Carol Burnett. You in yet? Three married couples on vacations through the seasons, so I guess just watch the part that takes place in autumn. Or all of it. Oh watch it all.

Funny Farm (1988):
Chevy Chase plays Andy Farmer who buys a place in Vermont with his wife. The Farmers buy a farm, but the Farmers aren’t farmers. I don’t think that’s the tagline. It should have been. Best movie ever? No. But watch it anyway! Because Chevy Chase.

Good Will Hunting (1997):
This is the movie that taught us that Ben Affleck is at his best (acting-wise) when he is writing for Ben Affleck. But the movie warns you. Robin Williams has a beard. So brace for that. The Afflecks and Matt Damon in their home of Boston. A genius from Southie as a janitor at Harvard. Take it. Love it. The Academy did, back when the Academy meant something. The whole thing makes me think of the color orange. Just a big pile of orange.

Harry Potter (2001-2011):
Specifically Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban. I think as the stories get darker the movies feel colder to me, so they begin to feel more like winter than autumn. I’m not going to pretend to sum this up for you.

O, Brother Where Art Thou? (2000):
A modernized retelling of the Odyssey. Yeah, I think I’m allowed to consider the ’30s modern compared to ancient Greece. Ulysses Everett McGuill (George Clooney) may not be bonafide, but he’s going to get his wife back. With the help of two other inmates (Jon Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson) the three embark on a journey to seek the treasure. If by the end of the movie you’re mad at me, I’ll only tell you to go back and listen to the music again. This, not ER, not anything else, made me fall in love with George Clooney.

October Sky (1999):
Come on. OCTOBER Sky. What was I supposed to do? Ignore it? Plus, Sputnik 1, space travel dreams, coal miners, fathers who want to dash dreams. The whole thing. If I’m really honest, which I disgustingly am, then I’ll have to admit I’ve only seen this once. Nonetheless it feels like fall. Right?

Penelope (2006):
A new fairy tale! An actual one. With the twist having some actual value, and not a kiss from a prince or something stupid! A family curse. All that. Plus Catherine O’Hara being a horrible mother. It’s always a win. Christina Ricci looking stunning with a pig face. James McAvoy being precious as always.

A Prairie Home Companion (2006):
If you love the radio program, then the movie will delight you. If you had no idea it was a radio program, then the movie will delight you. A group of friends doing the same radio show they’ve been doing for decades puts on one last performance as a ghost guides them through the night. With some of the stars of the real show and some stars who steal the show.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001):
Wes Anderson, part 2. Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman), his family of genius children, his wife (Anjelica Huston), and some friends try to come to terms with each other for the first time in 22 years. Alec Baldwin narrates.

The Skulls (2000):
This is not the best movie ever. But secret societies are always a win. Especially at colleges when life, honor, friendship and reputation are on the line.

Adventure in Fictional factual

And now the 50 influential characters from all sorts of places.

“Whoever said, “The more things change the more things stay the same,” definitely had the right POV. ” -Clarissa Darling

“I’ll stay home and watch public television.”-Stephanie Tanner

“Jessie, let’s go to the lost and found, because you’ve lost it.”-Kelly Kapowski

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.” – Miss Piggy

“When you set aside your childhood heroes,
and your dreams are lost up on a shelf, you’re at the age of not believing and worst of all you doubt yourself.”-Eglantine Price

” I just wish I could start a relationship about twelve years in, when you really don’t have to try anymore, and you can just sit around together and goof on TV shows, and then go to bed without anybody trying any funny business.”-Liz Lemon

“The key is to be direct, and vague, yet obvious and subtle.”-Cory Matthews

“What the fuzzy?” -Pepper Ann

“Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy!” -Ms. Frizzle.

“Tragedy hits the school and everyone thinks of me. A popular guy died, and now I’mpopular because I’m the misery chick. But I’m not miserable. I’m just not like them.”-Daria Morgendorfer

“I want to be a starving artist so I need to ring up more debt.”-Jane Lane

“Ask him something serious!”-Lenni Frazier

“Here’s a quick recap: There was boredom followed by dullness with a dash of echh!” -Sabrina Spellman

“10 to 1 you can’t dance to it.”-Fox Mulder

“It’s really nice that you guys missed me. Say, you all didn’t happen to do a bunch of drugs, did ya?”-Willow Rosenberg

I can just hear you in private. “I dislike that Anya. She’s newly human, and strangely literal” – Anya Jenkins

Seeing a teacher’s actual lunch is, like, so depressing. Not to mention, her bra strap.
– Angela Chase

Bet ya on land they understand, that they don’t reprimand their daughters. – Ariel

I’m a big, tough girl. I tie my own sandals and everything – Megara

I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then. – Alice

Forever is an awfully long time. – Wendy Darling

 Ah! I just said “bet your buns” to a nun! – Laverne Defazio

I’ll let you in on a little secret about the so-called fearless: We’re not as tough as you think we are. – Jen Lindley

Dad, give me one good reason why there can’t be a woman president. – Lindsay Weir

I think I know Aslan when I see him – Lucy Pevensie

Life isn’t all fricasseed frogs and eel pie.  – Puddleglum

Why would he threaten to kill you in public? – Miss Scarlet

I refuse. I absolutely REFUSE to be an onion – Harriet M. Welsch

I need a new name. One that’s not worn out from use. – Winnie Foster

It’s for some stupid, noble reason, isn’t it? – Ginny Weasley

If you tell anyone about this, especially your brothers, I’ll beat the shit out of you.
– Roberta Martin

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship. – Jo March

“People never like me and I never like people,” she thought. “And I never can talk as the Crawford children could. They were always talking and laughing and making noises.”
– Mary Lennox

We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us. – Anne Shirley

What we Tucks have, you can’t call it living. We just… are. We’re like rocks, stuck at the side of a stream. – Angus Tuck

One girl is worth more use than 20 boys. – Peter Pan

Look here! I don’t believe the whole thing can be half as bad as you’re making out; any more than the beds in the wigwam were hard or the wood was wet. I don’t think Aslan would ever have sent us if there was so little chance as all that. – Eustace Scrubb

But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did. – Edmund Pevensie

Sir, I am at great unrest, and I cannot lie longer in sloth. – Eowyn

If you wanna be a member of the Scooby Gang, you gotta be willing to be inconvenienced every now and then.  – Xander Harris

I was going to be a fighter pilot. Or, possibly a grocer. – Rupert Giles

Insane? If giving away all your worldly possessions, renouncing society, and learning how to purify and drink your own urine is insane, then, mmm, yes, color me insane.
– Eric Matthews

You’re supposed to bag the nematod, not cream it! –  Doug Funnie

I’m always late. That’s why I don’t wear a watch. They depress me. – Trent Lane

The first time I saw this episode my dad pointed out “That’s a federal offense.” Swoon

But before I had this, I was lost too. You see what I’m saying? You need to find…your reason for- for living, man. You’ve got to find, your big, just gigantic drum kit, you know?
– Nick Andopolis

Oh, terrific. Do we do that before or after we flap our arms and fly to the moon?
– Red Fraggle

That’s the kind of dream that gets better the more people you share it with.
– Kermit the Frog

Oh, how little you understand bears, Kermit. My mother loves surprises. – Fozzie Bear

I finish work, I go home, read a book, have a couple of beers, take myself for a walk, and go to bed. – Rowlf the Dog

Photography’s an art. You gotta have the right film, you gotta have the right exposure, and you gotta scream just before they get the food to their mouth.  – The Great Gonzo

Adventure in Stories

These are the 50 books and stories that have influenced me over the last 25 years. Mostly they’re stories, but there are a couple that aren’t strictly fictional.  I also don’t think it’s a full 50. In no particular order.

“You need not be sorry for her. She was one of the kind that likes to grow up. In the end she grew up of her own free will a day quicker than the other girls.”

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

“I knew that danger lay ahead, of course; but I did not expect to meet it in our own Shire. Can’t a hobbit walk from the Water to the River in peace?”

“Do not pity the dead Harry.  Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.”
The Harry Potter series

“Matilda said, “Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…”

“Please don’t go. We’ll eat you up. We love you so.”

“Stay is a charming word in a friend’s vocabulary.”

“Nothing ever seems interesting when it belongs to you – only when it doesn’t.”

 “It made her think that it was curious how much nicer a person looked when he smiled. She had not thought of it before.”

“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”

The Chronicles of Narnia

“But, of course, it isn’t really Good-bye, because the Forest will always be there… and anybody who is Friendly with Bears can find it.”

“Are these things really better than the things I already have? Or am I just trained to be dissatisfied with what I have now?”

“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.”

“Today is the sort of day where the sun only comes up to humiliate you.”

“If you really wanted to mess me up, you should have got to me earlier.”

“Love is pretty much a decision anyway. Just like happiness. You can decide to either love someone or not, be happy or not. The rest is just commitment to the idea.”

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

“I want to know what passion is. I want to feel something strongly.”

“Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”

“Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it.”

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

“What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?”

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

“They were indeed great rascals, and belonged to that class of people who find things before they are lost.”

“It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,” Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.”

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”

“But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever.”

“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”

“The gospel declares that no matter how dutiful or prayerful we are, we can’t save ourselves. What Jesus did was sufficient.”

“You know what? You’re an individual, and that makes people nervous. And it’s gonna keep making people nervous for the rest of your life.”

“I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.”

“I am always saying “Glad to’ve met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.”

“We know who is who! Now there Isn’t a doubt.
The best kind of Sneetches are Sneetches without!”

“Everything’s a story – You are a story -I am a story.”

“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others”

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.”

“The only thing you can do easily is be wrong, and that’s hardly worth the effort.”

“You need a reason to be sad. You don’t need a reason to be happy.”

“She held herself very straight, like Audrey Hepburn, whom all women idolize and men never think about.”

“There’s nothing––absolutely nothing––half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.”

“We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?”

“He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music.”

Adventures in Accepting Circumstance

At the end of January I finished up teaching Hogwarts at Huntington and promptly began a new position at the Herald-Press. Selling ad space in a dying medium. I feel important. I was monstrously excited about the opportunity since I’m not qualified by any stretch of the imagination. As it turns out though, I’m not a salesperson. I’m simply not.

In the middle of February I received an e-mail about my resume which was provided to this particular person via a friend. The friend works for the company, and I thought, “ah what’s the harm in doing these trial assignments? If nothing else I’ll make a little extra cash on the side.” I loved it. I fell in love with the opportunity to have my fingers frantically flying across the keyboard and my brain doing something other than trying to figure out how to convince people to buy things they don’t need. Synonyms. New sentence structures. It was delightful.

I was offered an interview. One day after work I drove down to Indy to interview and have dinner with the interviewer and my friend. I was offered a job. As it turns out though there was nowhere within the office for me to be working.  So what was going to be two weeks is already 3 weeks. And I’ve no indication of starting any time soon.

I press on with a job I don’t understand and am not any good at.

In the meantime I find myself with two lovely roommates. One with a complete lack of understanding about dishes or cleanliness outside of personal hygiene. The other as unkempt in her housekeeping as I am, but clearly some sort of Joey Potter. My wardrobe has grown two-fold. And somehow I’ve become one of those people who loves to clean and cook and bake. I use my Saturdays to scrub. 

The 509 feels more welcoming than it ever has, and I find myself challenged to be better than I’ve been. I struggle to be more than I want to be, fighting the enemy of my salvation doing my best to refuse his pressurings and temptations. The people around me, with no real deliberate or obvious intention, are encouraging me to strive to be as Christ-like as I can. God’s constant grace is covering my entire life. I see him in all of my friends and find myself more hopeful every day.

Maybe the job isn’t the best, but I don’t know what God’s intentions are for me. And maybe this is it. A new job may come along in the future, but for now I’m surrounded by people who offer me love and grace and encouragement. I have more desire to pursue Christ every day. I have a great place to live. Wonderful roommates. And friends whenever I want them.

Who could complain?