My Life

Does the vague name make it sound more edgy?

A Handful of Pictures & One Thousand Thank You’s

With the sound of ocean waves lapping against the shore below us, and the sun doing its best to poke through the clouds, we moved closer and closer together. It was hot, but not too hot, especially when you don’t mind each other’s company.

I was standing in a striped dress and a hat made of palm leaves, next to my uncle and in between two amazing women named Tracy; my brother stood behind me, holding up a small dog we’d all made the day’s mascot; my sister was sitting on the floor, in a line of cousins, three by birth, one by marriage; and my mom and dad stood in the back corner, surrounded by siblings, nieces and nephews, some requiring an –in law suffix if you wanted to get technical. Directly behind me were our gracious hosts and directly in front of me was my grandpa and my great aunt, the two who started it all.

The camera snapped three times and Leslie, a second cousin of mine, and co-owner of the beautiful house we’d gathered at that day, ran around from behind the group and stood next to the tripod we’d macgyvered out of an ice chest and an empty cardboard wine carrier.

“I’d like to make a toast without a toast,” she said.

We all remained at our posts, none of us holding a wine glass or bottle of beer to cheers, so instead we offered her our sole attention and silence, a rarity for our big group.

“I just want to say thank you,” she said, this time focusing on my grandpa and my great aunt Shatzi. “Thank you for this.” With the last word she gestured to us, everyone who stood in a united, giggly circle around them. “Because of you, we are here. Surrounded by love, made of love.” The air fell silent, heightening the sound of waves crashing below us. We all stood still, quiet, teary, humbled by the truth.

“We have this,” she said, gesturing again to the group of us, but referring not only to our collected presence, but also our shared love of each other’s company. “Not everyone has this.”

Suddenly the air was loud, powerful, as if we were all talking at once, even though no one was talking at all. Thoughts and memories ran through our minds, recalling laughs and tears, good times and bad. We thought of all the ways we were similar and all the ways we were different and how all of these things added up into a group of people that loved each other unconditionally. These words raced through the air, from ear to ear, hand to hand, and we smiled a thank you for every single one of them.

“Thank you,” Leslie said again to my grandpa and great aunt Shatzi. “Thank you for all of this.”

For a few more seconds we stood silent, basking in the love brought into the light. Some wiped tears from underneath their sunglasses, others bit down on their lips to stop them from quivering.

As we moved apart, making our way back to patio chairs or poolside pavement or kitchen bar stools, to continue conversations about the distant future or recent past, we all walked with a lighter step. We had love. We were surrounded by it, we were made of it, and with that, any problem or worry we might have walked in with suddenly seemed very small.

“Okay, NOW is it time for cake?” someone yelled from the kitchen. We’d all been told that Porto’s cheesecake and my grandma’s famous angel food cake would be our reward for taking a group picture. “Yes,” someone else said, be it an authority figure, or just a hungry someone who pretended to be. Suddenly the room was full, loud. Conversations took off in every direction, and laughter echoed off every wall. Plates were filled and then refilled and after a while we all found our way back outside, listening to the ocean waves below us and watching the sun set out in the distance.

“Thank you,” we said to the sun as it made its way behind a mountain, “and thank you,” we all said silently, both to each other, to my grandpa and aunt Shatzi, and to all the years past, present and future. Because even though we’d always known it, today it had been brought to the tip of our tongues. We are lucky. We are grateful. We are love.

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2018 Olympics Time Capsule Blog

As I have mentioned before (possibly more times than I’ve realized), I love the Olympics.

LOVE.

So much so that once every two years I repeatedly say, “no, I can’t hang out today—or any day for the next two weeks—because I’m inside watching every single minute of Olympic coverage I can absorb.” (Undoubtedly while wearing something patriotic and tossing around the idea of body paint.) So when I realized that the 2018 Olympics are now only about 200 days away—which is considered close in my die-hard fan book—you can imagine I was more than a little excited.

As I was writing this blog post, I was constantly looking up how many hours, minutes, and seconds were left until Opening Ceremonies, and nerded out each time another minute ticked off the clock. I could picture myself there, flashing forward through all these upcoming days, to being on my couch, wearing my favorite USA hat, cheering for my fellow countrymen.

I. was. ready.

But then I started thinking.

You see, I have this thing about time. And I say thing because I’ve never really figured out another way to describe it. I just seem to notice how fast it moves. You know how parents always say, “it’ll be here before you know it?” I think about that all. the. time. Both for things I’m looking forward to, and for things I can’t wait to be over.

Just think, I’ll tell myself, before you know it, you’ll be in a different moment, passed this one, and you’ll wonder where all the time went.

And it’s always true.

I guess what I’m saying is, I’ve learned to respect time.

What does this have to do with the Olympics? Well, I figured since they are so close, yet so far, yet going to be here in a blink, I thought I’d show you just how fast time moves, in quite arguably the best way possible: A time capsule…blog! A blog time capsule! A time blog-sule! Whatever a cool word for it could be!

How will we do this, you ask? We can’t really bury a blog and then dig it up later. Are we actually going to time travel? Is this the part where Doc comes out and we all get to wear puffy red vests and Nike sneakers and defy science?

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Unfortunately, no. BUT, we are going to talk to our future selves, using the super cool *internet machine.*

You see, there is this website called FutureMe.Org, which I found a while back when I was preparing to study abroad in Australia. It allows you to write a letter to your future self, available to be received on any day you choose. Before my semester in Australia, I asked my future self questions about the trip, made predictions on how I was feeling afterwards, and told myself a really terrible joke that still made me laugh 5 months later. Cool, right?

*assumes everyone nods in amazement*

Okay, so, this is how our time blog-sule will work:

  1. Go to FutureMe.org
  2. Fill in your email address & put “2018 Olympics Time Blog-sule!” (because we don’t shy away from cheese here) as the subject line.
  3. Copy and paste the questions below into “Your Letter”
    1. What day is it?
    2. What’s the weather like outside?
    3. What did you do today?
    4. What’s your favorite song right now?
    5. What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen?
    6. Who did you last text and what did you say?
    7. What is your biggest goal right now?
    8. What are you most excited about?
    9. What are you most worried about?
    10. Tell yourself a really bad joke.
  4. Answer each question
  5. Set your “Deliver on” date to February 8th, 2018 (that’s the day before Opening Ceremonies)
  6. Click “Send to the Future!”

Note: It will ask you to verify your email before it “officially” sends, so after you click “Send to the Future!” go to your email and click the verification link to make sure your letter officially enters the internet machine!

Note #2: After you click that link, it will take you to a page that tries to get you to donate money. You do not have to donate money. If you want to, you can, I’m sure the lovely people at FutureMe would appreciate your generosity, but otherwise just click strategically tiny “no thanks” link right below the payment options. 

I sent in my blog-sule yesterday and honestly CANNOT wait. I am such a nerd for this kind of stuff. Just think of all the things that are going to happen that we don’t know yet! Won’t it be weird to look back knowing there was a time before they happened?

*pauses writing blog post to have a 15 minute mind blown zone out session*

Once I get my email (in the future!) I’ll write a reaction post, and hopefully get to hear about some of yours, and then we can all collectively exclamation point about how fast everything went and how everything is the same and different at the same time and oh my gosh is it the future yet?

2017 Goals Check In (#2)

The fact that we are already one week into July has me feeling a little bit like this:

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This always seems to happen. One minute you’re ringing in the New Year, the next you’re…ringing in the New Year. Everything—except lines at the DMV, clocks in an office building, and lethargic pedestrians—moves so fast! This year especially seems to be moving quick because I have so many goals I’m trying to keep track of.

Let me tell ya, if you ever want to live a year in fast forward, set a list of specific goals for yourself and watch the time fly by. Sure, it’s a little bit frightening, but it’s also exciting, because alongside all that time travel is a growing list of accomplishments.

Full disclosure: since my last goal update post I did make a spreadsheet to better aid me in my quest of tracking my progress. In other words, over the last three months I’ve leveled up in nerd. #noshame

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1) See Star Wars

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 37.50%

That’s right, I’m down to the .5%, people! You thought I was kidding about the whole spreadsheet thing, didn’t you? You should know me better than that by now. Anyways, yes, I have watched the first three Star Wars movies—and by first three I mean Episodes 4, 5 & 6, because I was told to watch them in order of release date, not episode number—and you can read all about that experience here, here, and here. Did I like them, you ask? Well, let’s just say there’s a C3P0 keychain in my Amazon cart and a Death Star waffle maker on my wish list.

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2) See 5 WLRA’s

1st Quarter Progress: 3/5 (60%)

Current Progress: 3/5 (60%)

I was pleasantly surprised by how well I attacked this quest at the beginning of the year. My sister and I actually worked two WRLA’s into our previously planned road trip earlier this year which ended up being 100% worth it. As of now, I have a few oversized sites in mind to top off this year and am currently in the process of making that happen.

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3) Try this jean rug DIY

1st Quarter Progress: 20%

Current Progress: 20%

This has been kind of a daunting task all its own because, seeing as it’s a project that involves sewing, I have to, you know, learn to sew. And while sewing has been on my to-do list for quite some time—my family was even so generous as to buy me a sewing machine for my birthday last year—I’m still rather terrified I’ll end up sewing my lip to something. HOWEVER, this shall not deter me.

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4) Run 1,000 miles

1st Quarter Progress: 233.84 miles (23%)

Current Progress: 474.1 miles (47.42%)

After taking an entire week off during my vacation in March, I arrived home to find myself terrifyingly far behind schedule. To make matters worse, in that short amount of time, I somehow managed to fall slightly out of shape, so my first run back was frustratingly hard. As a result, I spent many a late night thinking about quitting. A part of me wondered if maybe I should just call it a wash and try again another year. But the other part of me—the competitive, can’t stop, won’t stop part of me—said “hell no.” So, after gaining very little ground in April, I welcomed May with open and determined arms. I was going to catch up and I was going to start immediately. That month, I ran 22 out 31 days, totaling just under 100 miles. It was by far the hardest month so far, but at the same time, the most beneficial. I’m more motivated than ever to accomplish this crazy goal I’ve set and have found myself more courageous and daring in my running than ever before. Plus, with the 500-mile mark right around the corner, I can already taste that Heisman.

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5) Complete The Ultimate Fit Bit Week

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Yeah, nope. Still haven’t gotten around to this one.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 40%

With the arrival of summer, and the beginning of a new outreach at my church, I was able to find a couple great opportunities to volunteer over the past couple months and already have a few more penciled in for the next couple months, which makes my heart happy. I always forget how rewarding volunteering is until I get back in the groove of it, then I want to volunteer everywhere all at once! In case you’re interested, the organizations I’ve worked with so far are Children’s Hunger Fund and Food Forward. I believe Food Forward only has locations in California, but Children’s Hunger Fund has a few branches across the country, so if you can find one near you, I highly recommend looking up opportunities to volunteer. Also, if you have any places you love to volunteer, I’d love to hear about them!

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7) Go to a sporting event of “every” kind (i.e. baseball, football, hockey, basketball, & soccer)

1st Quarter Progress: 1/5 (20%)

Current Progress: 1/5 (20%)

As I stated in the first progress post, I haven’t really had the opportunity to make progress on this one because most of the sports are out of season. However, I do have a soccer game on the calendar for July and football, hockey, and basketball will all be back in the fall.

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8) Try every class at the gym

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Good news! My gym has finally resumed its workout classes. Thus, I can finally start making some progress on this goal a.k.a probably writing posts about how hard/painful the workout classes are. Stay tuned for whiny rants about how my fingers feel like they’re made of glass and how my legs have forgotten how to be legs.

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9) Do The Princess Diaries painting

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Yeah, so, another goal full of goose eggs for me here. However, while I’ve made no progress on the actual painting, I have garnered some interest from friends who want to participate. So, if you happen to see a group of people throwing darts at easels, don’t worry, it’s just me and my friends achieving.

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10) Find and try the “Best of” restaurants in LA

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Honestly, I have no explanation for why I’ve made no progress on this one. I mean, it’s a goal that involves FOOD. *shakes head in shame*

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11) Watch every film that has ever won Best Picture

1st Quarter Progress: 6/89 (6%)

Current Progress: 11/89 (12.36%)

Fun fact: Netflix DVD (who is not sponsoring me, but totally should) has pretty much every movie ever, so to make progress on this goal, I recently upgraded my subscription and it’s been great. My mailbox has been pleasantly surprised to receive little red envelopes containing musicals and romantic drama-dies from the 40s and I look forward to working my way up to present day Oscar winners.

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12) Learn to Longboard

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

The to-do list on this one remains firm:

1) Buy a helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads

2) Wear aforementioned safety apparel with pride

3) Lose all inhibitions.

When I’ve managed to do all three, I’ll have some progress (and probably bruises) to update you on.

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13) Learn to do a headband braid

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 40%

I’ve watched this tutorial on YouTube a few times and have been working to improve my skills gradually. I expect it will still take me a solid while to get it, but at least I understand the concept now. I used to think it was 100% impossible unless you had three arms.

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14) Reach the 100,000-mile mark on my car

1st Quarter Progress: 99,720 miles (99%)

Current Progress: 100%

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THAT’S RIGHT! For those of you keeping track at home, you can officially check off #14. I wrote a whole post about my car, Jeffrey’s, big day which you can read here.

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15) Do a bar/pub crawl

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

There appears to be an inkling of a plan for this one to happen around my birthday. Stay tuned.

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16) Sing Karaoke

Current Progress: Complete!

Much to the surprise of my pre-2017 self, I’ve actually done karaoke 3 separate times now, all of which have been about 100 times more fun than I ever thought karaoke could be. That being said, while I’d never pressure anyone into doing something they don’t want to do, I highly recommend you give karaoke a shot. There are few things more freeing than belting out a Backstreet Boys song, knowing you’re hitting exactly zero notes, and yet not caring one bit.

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17) Complete Project Lightbulb

Current Progress: Same as Quarter One.

Due to scheduling/financial conflicts, it appears as though the trip that coincides with this project will not be able to take place until next year, thus preventing the goal in its original form from being accomplished. However, I’m planning on shifting it a bit, so as not to punish myself over unforeseen circumstances.  I figure, if we get the whole trip planned to the tee, with everything set and ready to book, if not booked for 2018, I’d call that a success in its own right.

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Adding all of that together, it comes out to about 29% complete. Which is kind of disappointing to look at, especially since it’s only 10% more than the first quarter. HOWEVER, I’ve done more planning and organizing in this second quarter than I did in the first, which has put me on a much better looking path for the second half of this year. So stay tuned folks! These next few months are going to be crazy. See you in September!

Thoughts I Had While Watching Star Wars for the First Time: Episode VI

In the final installment of Part 1 (because if all goes according to plan I’ll be watching the rest of the films very soon, which should provoke a Part 2) of this series, I have A LOT of feelings. More than I was ready for. In fact, I hold everyone reading this who has seen this film and did not warn me of the emotional impact completely responsible for the mini-breakdown I had mid-movie. I also blame you for the ice cream I ate afterwards.

Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi

  • Here we are. The last film of the first three-film series
  • Did they have any idea back then that there would be a ranty brunette girl watching them 30 years later, making commentary, trying to catch up before the eighth episode came out?
  • Did they have any idea they’d still be this epic?
  • Here we go.
  • Okay, I said it once and I’ll say it again, Jabba the Hutt is disgusting.
  • Can’t say I’m a fan of his comrades either.
  • I’d take Hoth over this place any day.
  • Though this place does have some tunes.
  • R2! C-3P0! My guys!
  • They have a message from Luke.
  • What is this plan, Luke?!
  • Exchange the droids for Han?
  • I don’t know if I’m behind this.
  • I mean Han’s a good guy (as it turned out) but R2-D2 and C-3P0 do not deserve to stay here in this awful place watching Jabba the Hutt slobber all over everything.
  • I’m not down with this.
  • Ah yes, here’s Han! Poor guy. Still frozen as a Disney movie.
  • But who’s this bounty hunter lurking around his frozenness?
  • She kind of looks like Leia…
  • Wait! It is Leia!
  • She’s come to give Solo a Han.
  • Okay come on that was pretty good.
  • Maybe one of my best.
  • A Han and Leia kiss!
  • I’m into it.
  • Uh oh, Leia’s captured.
  • And now sporting some sort of golden bikini.
  • Wait.
  • This is the bikini!
  • I finally get that Friends reference now!
  • Hey Chewy! Lookin’ good pal.
  • Did you grow your hair out?
  • We can talk about that later. First, we need to get out of here.
  • Oh, okay. The old, diving board loop de loop light saber shoot out move. Smooth, Luke
  • Leia: Screw you Jabba, imma murder you in this bikini
  • *looks for symbolism in Luke’s lightsaber being green now*
  • Okay, we’re free and back with Yoda.
  • Why is Yoda moving so slow?
  • No.
  • No, Master Yoda, you can’t die.
  • DOES YODA DIE?
  • NO ONE TOLD ME YODA DIES.
  • HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT YODA DIES?
  • HOW IS THIS NOT A BIGGER DEAL?!?
  • “Unexpected this is” – Yoda.
  • I’m 100% going to start saying that whenever I’m casually surprised.
  • OH MY GOSH HE’S DEAD.
  • What in all hell?!
  • THIS IS LIKE DOBBY ALL OVER AGAIN
  • THIS MOVIE PROVOKES SO MUCH CAPS LOCK
  • *Luke learns that Leia is his sister*
  • Bet you’re pretty relieved about that, eh Luke? Seeing as she’s clearly chosen your best friend and all.
  • Okay, I don’t know what an ewok even is, but I’d like one. Preferrably Wicket, here.
  • Luke’s heading to fight Darth!
  • Dear Dad, I would totally battle you in order to save you if you became Darth Brian.
  • You too, Darth Gina.
  • Also, I get the whole *power* thing, but the dark side’s biggest selling point appears to be wrinkles, black cloaks and asthma—pass.
  • Note to self: always befriend teddy bears. You never know when they might come in handy against your enemies.
  • The Emperor: are you totes mad, Luke?
  • Luke: NO
  • The Empereor: your feelings betray you!
  • I’m super glad people can’t read my mind when I’m nervous or scared. It goes weird places. Things would get awkward.
  • #DaddyDarthDiesAHero
  • Key Fact Learned from Episode VI: I’d like to move to Ewok Forest.

Thoughts I Had While Watching Star Wars for the First Time: Episode V

As stated in yesterday’s blog post, I recently watched the first three Star Wars movies, both to accomplish one of the goals I set for myself this year, and to, you know, catch up with the world.

Going into Episode V, I felt a little less like a rookie. I knew (most of) the characters and I had a better idea of who I was rooting for and who they were fighting against. Of course, this did little to quiet my mind when it came to actually watching the movie. I still had a lot to say, and most of it was on topic.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 

  • Okay, here we go.
  • Hmm, we’re somewhere very cold.
  • Hoth. I’m told we’re in Hoth.
  • And Luke is going somewhere on his own? He must know this is a bad idea.
  • What did I tell you Luke? You always have to bring a buddy. You never know when you’re going to encounter a yeti!
  • There’s Han! Still handsome.
  • Hey Han, Luke needs you.
  • Wait, you’re leaving again? Please don’t go.
  • Oh damn, Han is just leia-ing it out there from the Princess.
  • Han: you love me
  • Leia: No I don’t.
  • Han: 342cc6d14060407efd20b32714a3f1bf
  • I say you go for it, girl, he might be kind of douchey but at least he’s not your brother.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi! You’re back! At least in Luke’s fever dream you are.
  • And you’re talking about Yoda! Listen to him, Luke. I have it on good authority that Yoda’s a good dude.
  • Han found Luke! Yay! And he cut open a yeti creature thing and shoved Luke inside to keep him warm. That’s…friendship?
  • Did Leo and the crew at The Revenant see this? Is this where they got the idea about that horse?
  • “Laugh it up fuzzball” – Han.
  • If only I knew a very sassy, hairy person I could say that to.
  • I can’t decide if I’m more of a C-3P0 or an R2-D2. I’d like to think I’d translate gibberish for my friends whenever they needed me to (like C-3P0), but I also speak gibberish sometimes (like R2-D2).
  • Some days I also think I could speak strictly in yells like Chewy.
  • I’m going to say I’m a C-3P0 though. I can completely relate to his random spewing of fun facts and his constant state of anxiety. He might be my spirit animal.
  • Does no one have motion sickness in space? It seems like these ship rides are pretty rough.
  • FANGIRLING OVER YODA.
  • Oh my gosh, everything he says is iconic.
  • Yoda: *pulls ship out of space mud*
  • Luke: I don’t believe it
  • Yoda: This is why you fail
  • GOOSEBUMPS.
  • How are there not more t-shirts that say “YAASS YODA”
  • Lesson Learned from Episode V: When needing to escape an enemy, float away like space garbage.
  • NOOOOO! SEE-FREE-PEE-OHHH! My man is down. He is literally in pieces.
  • Lando = scoundrel
  • *watches Han get frozen* UM. WHAT.
  • Leia: Luke it’s a trap! Don’t come! Seriously! You’re very important, don’t come! Darth is just trying to bait you!
  • Luke: Be right there!
  • I TOLD YOU HE WAS YOUR DAD LUKE.
  • And I told you the dude was dark.
  • Okay, I know this is traumatic news, but this is seriously no time to have a complete breakdown.
  • The world is still falling apart and I need you to pull yourself together.
  • …and there goes your hand. Okay, I know this is rough, but stay strong here buddy! Think about Leia! Actually don’t, she’s kind of hitting on your friend. But that’s good because remember, you’re siblings. But don’t think about that now! Think about Obi-Wan. And Yoda. They’re good guys.
  • Well, Yoda isn’t actually a “guy” per se. I’m not sure what he is. But he’s awesome, that’s for sure!
  • That’s right! Keep fighting Luke!
  • Darth: Come to Daddy!
  • One-Handed Luke: No!
  • Did Luke just cannonball away from this duel? That’s pretty badass.
  • Hey gang, Luke’s hanging from a weather vane over here, come give him a hand! Uh…sorry. Too soon.
  • Ahh! My man C-3P0 is back. He’s not exactly in working condition. But he’s alive, that’s all that matters.
  • We’ve got Luke. We’ve got the droids. We’re back at the base. Let’s all take a deep breath.
  • Aww, look at you Luke. They were able to give you a *literal* hand. Happy for you bud.
  • Also, shout out to Lando for not being 100% awful. You can join Kenobs in the “I trust you now club.”
  • Alright peeps, next movie, we find Han!

Thoughts I Had While Watching Star Wars For the First Time: Episode IV

As some of you may know, one of my goals this year is to watch all of the Star Wars films for the first time.

Yes. The first time.

*pauses for impending judgment*

Recently I finished the original three films (i.e. Episodes 4, 5 & 6) and was pleasantly surprised by how good they were and ultimately shocked that I knew very few spoilers.

I watched the films with some friends who have already seen them, and even though they weren’t quite on my level—a.k.a they weren’t gasping or oohing or aww-ing because they already knew what was coming—they seemed genuinely amused by watching me experience the phenomenon for the first time.

After each film, they looked at me with questioning eyes: Sooooo?? What did you think? And while I always gave the same answer: I’m obsessed, the truth was I had a lot of thoughts. I figured most of them were thoughts everyone had while watching the movies for the first time, but others I expected were unique to me and my incredibly stalled viewing.

You figure I’ve seen mention of Star Wars my entire life, but never got any of the inside jokes. And going into Episode IV: A New Hope—because I’d been told the true way to watch the films is 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 7, Rogue One—the only thing I knew was that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. Why that was a big deal, I had no idea.

Oh, and the only reason I even knew who Luke and Darth Vader were (besides the constantly circulated memorabilia) was because of the Star Wars gummies my coworker’s 5 year old son, Maddox, used bring as part of his lunch. On days he visited, he would lay them out and name them for me: Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, C-3P0, Yoda and R2-D2, and I’d nod, ashamed I had nothing to contribute to the conversation. But alas, now I do. And since my mind can get quite chatty, I’m going to split this post into three (and eventually more) parts. First off, Episode IV: A New Hope

  • Ah! The music!
  • The moving font!
  • We’re really doing this!
  • Okay, let’s read up on this storyline. Where are we? Who are we rooting for/fighting against?
  • Got it. We’re the rebels.
  • Ah, Carrie Fisher—I mean Princess Leia—finally I’ve met you. I’m sorry it took me so long.
  • Darth Vader!
  • Is that James Earl Jones?
  • Is he Darth Vader?
  • Is he in the suit?
  • *asks friends and they shake their heads no*
  • Then who’s in the suit? Who’s doing all the physical labor inside that black monstrosity and not getting any credit? Who’s in there?
  • *friends stay quiet, insinuating I should just keep watching*
  • C-3P0! R2! I know you! I’ve seen your gummies.
  • Maddox loves you most, C3-P0, though he calls you, “see-free-pee-ohh.”
  • Luke! I just met your dad back there. But I’m not supposed to know that yet. Who’s this other guy you’re with?
  • Ben Kenobi? Wait, that sounds familiar…
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi! That’s right. I’ve heard of you too. Though I always thought your name was Obi-One. My bad, Kenobi. Can I call you Kenobi? Has anyone ever called you Kenobi Bryant?
  • Ahh yes, “The Force.” The infamous “force.” Let’s learn about it and see why everyone always says it’s with me.
  • Luke! Kenobs knows your dad! Oh…but wait he’s saying Darth Vader killed your dad. That’s a fib Ken-obgyn. Even I know that.
  • Okay, I don’t know if I 100% trust this guy.
  • Hmmm. Well played Kenobi Beef. You tell the kid a lie and then you hand him a lightsaber. I’d be tempted to believe you too. But what about those nice people you were with before, Luke?
  • Okay, never mind. Those nice people are dead.
  • Alright, I guess we’re trusting this guy. Let’s regroup and go find that princess from R2’s hologram video broadcast…thing.
  • HEYO. Who knew Harrison Ford was so handsome in the 70s?
  • And he owns The Millennium Falcon? Sorry Luke, my eyes be wanderin’.
  • Chewbacca!
  • Okay, Jabba the Hutt is disgusting.
  • Seriously, top 10 grossest dudes I’ve ever seen.
  • Woah, okay, back to the Death Star.
  • I think I saw a Death Star waffle maker once.
  • Don’t tell Darth anything Leia!
  • Oh. Okay. Darth means business. He’s all, “help me find who I’m looking for” and Leia’s like, “No,” and he’s like, “but I’ll blow up your planet!” and she’s like, “I’m loyal to the cause but protective of my people so okay, I’ll slip you the info,” and he’s all, “thanks, chickie, but I’m still blowin’ up your planet. Bye.” The dude’s dark.
  • Yeah, sorry Luke & the gang, about Princess Leia’s planet…it’s not there anymore.
  • And now you’re captured. I really should have warned you sooner. That’s my bad.
  • Okay, Obi-Wan’s going in alone. Just stay safe guys.
  • Or, you know, go in dressed as Stormtroopers to rescue the Princess.
  • Wait, isn’t Luke…like…related to Leia…or something? I feel like I heard that somewhere. I DON’T THINK YOU SHOULD GET TOO INVESTED IN THIS LUKE.
  • Okay, we got the princess—who you should probably (almost 100% definitely) not fall for, Luke—and now we’re stuck in an intergalactic garbage can. Just your average day here in space, I guess.
  • R2! C-3P0! Deactivate the auto-garbage muncher!
  • I realize that since there are two more movies after this one that it’s highly unlikely any of these three die via trashcan, but it’s still very stressful!
  • Okay, thank goodness, everyone is safe.
  • Back to Obi-Wonton dipped in soy sauce.
  • He’s fighting Darth!
  • He’s losing to Darth!
  • He’s dead!
  • Obi-Wan Kenobster is dead!
  • WHAT?!
  • Poor Luke. Aside from getting a lightsaber, this has really been a rough couple of days for the guy.
  • Oh! We have a chance to fight back!
  • Are you sure you’re ready for this Luke?
  • Wait, Harrison, you can’t leave. Don’t tell me you just leave after this movie. That can’t be a thing. No, I don’t believe it. You’re totally going to Grinch yourself a heart and join this misfit crew, aren’t you?
  • Okay, Luke, I don’t want to put any pressure on you, but all of your friends are dying and the fate of the universe is on your shoulders.
  • Obi-Wanna Zig-A-Zig-Ahh is that you? Are you communicating with Luke via The Force? Is that what’s happening? How do I subscribe to that email list? Is there an app for this yet?
  • Harrison! I mean Han! I knew you’d come back!
  • Go Luke!
  • We win!

Why the Internet Can Be Good (RE: Alex Rayfiel)

The other day as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a link a friend posted that caught my eye. It had a picture of a boy named Alex, who I’d gone to high school with, attached to an article whose title didn’t quite register until after I clicked it.

When the page loaded, my face went white. Alex was sick. Recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His family had created a donation page in the hope of raising money for a radical new treatment in Israel. I read through the story his wife posted, aching for the two of them and their newly born daughter. It all sounded so completely unfair.

Now, I’d never known this guy. We’d gone to high school together for four years, and I’d seen him around from time to time, but never got to know him. In fact, I only met him once in a brief introduction from a mutual friend at our shared college. But as I read the story about the turn his life has suddenly taken, I realized I remembered him, and how, even in our lack of interaction, he’d left a mark on me.

High school is tough for everyone, often in different ways, and while I wouldn’t say I had a terrible experience, I also wouldn’t volunteer to do it all over again. I was a quiet, reserved student who stuck to what she knew and rarely felt comfortable in her own skin. That being said, Alex made me laugh.

He and his friends had participated in the talent show as the “Finger Flippers” which became legendary amongst our senior class. And during our senior luncheon, they created a video that discussed which of our classmates had celebrity lookalikes. I remember sitting at the back table, nervous as always, counting down the days until I graduated. I hadn’t been sat next to any of my friends, and I was internally apologizing to the people around me for not being more interesting. But then the lights went down and the video started, and I laughed through the whole thing. It was a genuine laugh, the kind that makes you feel lighter, and as I looked around the room at my classmates who felt the same, I felt included. Afterwards, when Alex and his friends mentioned they had plans to post the video to YouTube I took note, excited to have something positive to look back on in the future. I’d forgotten about the video over all these years, and only found it when I searched his name. When I watched it again however, it still gave me that good feeling.

So as I read through his story and then through some of the comments, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to donate, not only because it was the right thing to do, but because it felt like a way I could say thank you for giving me those moments of freedom all those years ago. And even more, allow me the opportunity to be a part of offering him the chance to experience a moment of freedom in the future. Be it through minor progress, or radical recovery.

This is the good part about the Internet. For amongst all the drama and fake personas, there also lie small bursts of goodness. There are chances to read stories of hope and resilience, chances to reconnect with old friends and family, and sometimes, chances to lend a hand to a near stranger. And so, Alex Rayfiel, while we may remain essentially strangers, I hope you know I’m praying for you, and that I’m grateful for what you gave me all those years ago, even if you had no idea. I wish you and your family all the best, and I hope the next time I find you in my Facebook feed, it will be to inform me that you’re on the road to recovery.

If you want to help Alex, you can find his donation page here.

Congratulations & Thanks, Little Brother

Yesterday my little brother graduated high school.

*takes a moment to process this*

At 5 o’clock, the school staff ushered us in single file. I walked passed smiling siblings and proud fathers and anxious mothers; aunts and uncles and cousins and teachers; girlfriends and boyfriends and best friends. I knew almost none of them, and yet I knew how they felt when they woke up in the morning, and I knew how they felt walking in the school gates that afternoon. We all shared the same look in our eyes. We all had those smiles that were hard to suppress. We were all so proud.

For me, it was strange more than emotional. As the ceremony started and tissues were shuffled through the audience, I couldn’t help but sit silent, thinking. How is it, I thought, How is it that the infant who used to laugh when I tickled him, the toddler who used to call me “Supergirl”, the boy who used to wake up early to watch me play video games on Saturday mornings, and the teenager who used to ask me for a ride to karate class, how is it that they’d all grown up into this man that stood before me in a cap and gown? How had they become someone I look up to, that makes me laugh, that is my own personal superhero?

As the name of each student began to be called, cheers came in bursts around the audience. Families and friends stood and shouted, hoping to showcase their pride and spread it outward. We were no different. When my brother’s name was called we waved our fists and wooed our “woos”, hoping to let my brother know we were proud of him, and to let the crowd he was ours. And as dozens of other families followed suit, I began to realize why I didn’t feel sad so much as dizzy.

Yes, it was crazy to think that my baby brother, the boy who, over the years, has led people to believe he was my son (which we took advantage of and pulled pranks), my stepbrother (which made no sense because we are essentially the same human), and—after a colossal growth spurt—my boyfriend (which, ew), this boy was graduating high school and could now legally drive, vote, and serve jury duty. Yes, this was off-putting, but not sad. For I had known the baby who grew into a boy who grew into a teenager and then into a man, and seeing him take this next step forward was like accepting an invitation to meet the man he will soon become.

So as the caps began to fly, my heart began to swell. The dizziness had been overtaken by anticipation. I walked through the crowd to find my brother and gave him a big hug, anxious to tell him of all the things I know he’s yet to accomplish. I wished him “congratulations” but what I really meant was “thank you.” Thank you for letting me be a part of your world, and thank you for offering me a front row seat to watch you conquer it. May the future only hold good things for you, crazy things, preferably things that include pizza and In N Out Burger. May you always be brave enough to be yourself and kind enough to let others do the same. May you never stop letting me call you Bub, and may we never stop taking this picture.

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Dear High School Students,

Hi, it’s me, an adult—or so they tell me. I’m 10 years removed from where you are right now. When I look at you I feel like we’re a million miles apart and yet, at the same time, we’re also five minutes away. When I look at you I can see me and where I was when I was where you are. I was lost and confused and goofy and scared and optimistic and curious and quiet. I didn’t have a clue who I really was or who I wanted to be. I just knew I hoped the future brought good things. Fun things. Things that lived up to all the things everyone told me to work for.

Did I find those things? I think so. Yes. And also, no. I think I found some, missed some, and have yet to discover some even exist. In many ways I feel like I’m you again. Like I was never not you. And I suppose that’s true. I supposed I’ve always been me, no matter where I was or who I was trying to be. It’s been me, in this body, in this life, wandering her way through the world, and this past Monday I happened to land in your auditorium for your spring showcase, with the hopes of seeing my little brother be courageous. Which he was. He acted and sang and even swayed a little, and I smiled from ear to ear with pride and love.

But that was only the half of it.

You see, he had two performances. Two amongst twenty. And as I waited for number one and then number two, I got to see you, all of you, being courageous. You were funny and honest and sad and scary and beautiful and touching and raw. You made it look easy, even though I know better than to believe that. I know some of you spent hours debating what you would wear. I know it seemed nothing looked right or fit right. I know you probably paced back and forth wondering why you couldn’t be more comfortable in your skin or why you couldn’t be as easy going as some of your friends. I know you might have tried to talk yourself out of coming, and that you were nervous you wouldn’t be funny enough, talented enough. You were worried you wouldn’t be honest enough, or worse, too honest.

But you showed up. You showed up and sang songs and acted out scenes and performed monologues. You shared little pieces of yourselves, even if they were hidden behind familiar stories or catchy hooks. You stood up on stage and said, “here I am” and I just want you to know that I saw you. You. I didn’t see the flaws in your outfit you kept fidgeting with backstage. I didn’t see the hair out of place that almost brought you to tears. I didn’t see you as a number on a scale or a statistic in a textbook. I saw you and I just wanted to thank you. Thank you for letting me and the rest of the world see you. And thank you for the inspiration to let the world see me.

My 100th “No”

Being a writer, I am constantly submitting posts, short stories and even the occasional poem in the hopes of getting published. And being an insanely organized writer, I keep track of everything I submit in a spreadsheet. When I submit something, I’ll update the spreadsheet with a new entry including the date, the place I submitted it to, the approximate window of response time, and the reply (yes or no). I also have a formula set up in the “yes or no” column to tally up each answer. (Yes, I’m a nerd)

As of yesterday, I just received my 100th “no.” And while I realize this isn’t something I should necessarily announce, let alone celebrate, I can’t help but feel a little proud. You see, a while back I was listening to a motivational speaker, and they encouraged the audience to “fail hard.” They said that if you throw yourself into challenges, try your absolute hardest, and then end up failing, you’re doing something right. Naturally, this struck me as odd. How can I be doing something right if I’m failing? My competitive brain just didn’t understand this. You either win or lose and it’s always better to win.

But failing isn’t always losing, they explained. Failing is more often the act of crossing off a path that doesn’t lead to success. And with that in mind, it’s crucial to fail as hard as we can, so we don’t waste time wondering if there was something more we could have done, or if there was one more turn we could have made that could have wrapped us around to the right path. If we are failing hard, it means we are trying hard. It means we are leaving no doubts behind and thus leaving no reason to go down that path again. By failing hard we are slowly succeeding.

Amongst my 100 no’s, I’ve also received 14 yes’s. Fourteen. Meaning my ratio here is 14/114, making my rate of success 12%. Last time I checked, no one is proud of a 12%. But alas, I am! Because I know that 88% failure is what has given me that 12% success.

A couple weeks ago a mentor at church was telling me about an article she read that emphasized how important it is for us to receive the “discipline of failure.” When she mentioned the phrase, I audibly gasped. I understood it instantly, because it’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last three years. My failures (my no’s), all 100 of them, have made me a better writer. They are the reason I work so hard to receive those yes’s. So even though this “milestone” might seem like something to be ashamed of, it actually makes me extremely proud. I’m proud of myself for failing so hard, and I promise to continue failing for the rest of my life. It’s the only way I’ll ever be able to succeed.