Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gleeful Destruction

Something happened to me this past week. I became the mother of a one-year-old. It just sort of happened, which I suppose is how these things work, but I'm still a little stunned. All of a sudden BOOM! One.

I mean, I'm used to a big boss fight before a level up. You gear up and gear up and then fight for your life to earn that level. I know, I earned this badge with every diaper changed and grubby hand cleaned. Still, this particular level up was a bit anti-climactic.

Though that might have been due to the fact that our entire household came down with the cold of doom a day before the birthday. We had to postpone his party and spent the day taking turns passed out on the couch. Maybe I'll feel a little less off-kilter once we're finally all well enough to celebrate properly.

It's been quite the year, and I've done my share of reminiscing this week. Babies change so much in the first year. They're constantly learning--how to walk, how to talk, how to get away with everything under the sun... It's kind of funny the order that they learn things in, though. You'd think "Ow, that hurt. Maybe I should be more careful next time," would be a pretty nifty lesson to have in hand, but apparently it's less important than "I can stick my toes in my mouth!"

Another lesson that has yet to be learned: that things can't always be fixed when they're broken. There's no concept of permanent damage. My son recently picked a flower to play with, and then a few minutes later he tried to return it to its stalk. He was pretty unfazed by the fact that it didn't work. After all, there's a lot he doesn't have the dexterity for yet, and most of the time after a few tries he gets bored and does something else.

One of the results of this knowledge gap is that there's nothing to impede his joy of destruction. Those of us who do know better can't escape a warning going off in our minds before we pick the flower, or put the paper through the shredder, or smash a glass on the concrete. We know that what we're doing can't be undone. And that's a good thing! Can you imagine going through life without that hesitation?

And yet, I think there's something to be learned from the gleeful destruction of a child. My son simply loves knocking down towers of blocks. He approaches his task with abandon and gives it his all. He really goes for the total destruction.

I should be more like that with my work. I mean, obviously not when doing the dishes or driving around doing errands. But my writing could use a little more destruction. I hesitate too much before committing to chaos. The same hesitation that protects me in real life hampers me in my drafts.

But what if I can't put it back the way it was!

That's the beauty of writing, though. It can always be rewritten. So why not try, just to see what happens? Turn up the chaos, see where it goes. Future drafts can always dial down the destruction.

So that's one of my goals this year (you know, in addition to keeping the boy alive all year). Do you have any new writing goals lately?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Real Teens of 2014: Wondergirl

[Real Teens of 2014 is a blog series with interviews of middle and high schoolers. Interview questions are chosen by the interviewee from a list, and answers are presented unedited.]

Code Name: Wondergirl

Pick one of these and turn it into an accessory. How would you wear it? 
-a sippy cup 
-a toy car 
-a hula hoop 
-a lamp shade 
-pipe cleaners

If I had to wear a toy car I'd get two of them and wear them on my feet so I could stake around.

You have to fight at troll. Would you rather have a... 
-vacuum cleaner 
-or squirt gun 
and why?

If I had to fight a troll I'd use a flashlight to shine it in his eyes and blind him while I run by or push him off the bridge.

What's the worst/best thing you've ever tasted or smelled?

Worst thing I ever tasted was when I chewed a fish oil thing I ever tasted was home made dinner after being soo incredibly hungry, tired and cold for many hours.

If you could pick one subject and know everything there is to know about it, what would you pick?

If I could know everything about one subject I'd pick math.


New fashion statement alert for the roller rinks out there: roller skates should now be made to look like cars.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Real Teens of 2014: Wallflower

[Real Teens of 2014 is a blog series with interviews of middle and high schoolers. Interview questions are chosen by the interviewee from a list, and answers are presented unedited.]

Code name: Wallflower

Favorite book: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Who do you most admire and why?

There are two people I currently admire, Misha Collins and Bo Burnham. I admire both because they use their status in society to make a difference in the world, whether it is directly or indirectly. For example, Misha, who plays Castiel in Supernatural, tries to get his "minions" or his fans to make random acts of kindness and slowly change the world. In addition, there's Bo, a musical comedian, who compose songs that calls out social issues other artists are afraid to speak out against. He is able to make his songs entertaining and funny which makes it more difficult for some people to truly get his message because they don't try to understand his lyrics, they just listen for the beat.

What's one thing you wish everyone in the world understood?

It is okay to be different. Our differences is what allows us to thrive as a whole. One's weakness is another's strength. If everyone in the world could understand this, we would probably have a better world.

Describe an "average" teen. How are you different?

Honestly, I don't think I'm in the position to describe the "average" teenager. I don't think anyone is. My average is guaranteed to be different from someone else's average. However, I do like this question because I have always felt different from the average teen. In my opinion, the average teen has a plethora of friends, some that they don't even like. They go to parties/ hangout on weekends. They skip classes, try drugs, and smoke. Basically, they are extroverted people and desire the company of others. That is where I differ from them, I would describe myself as an introvert. I don't mind the company of others, if I like them, but I also don't wish for it, most of the time. I am fine with being alone and just thinking. I prefer the dark with music playing, that's where my peace is.

What's the best gift you have given or received?

My friend Kalyn, got me Bo Burnham's book Egghead for my birthday this year because it's the only thing I really wanted this year. She visited multiple bookstores to find it and I think that's extremely sweet. The book itself is FANTASTIC, it's not only filled with funny poems but there are profound and thought provoking poems there too. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present.


Great stuff! Thanks so much, Wallflower!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Y (Why?) A

Confession: I write far too many posts that I never end up publishing. Happened again last night.

me: *type type type type type*
husband: So... are we going to go watch that season finale, or...
me: Fifteen more minutes!
husband: *sighs and waits patiently*
--fifteen minutes later--
me: *reads over what I've written* *realizes it's utterly dull and far too introspective* *throws it out*

Ok, so I didn't really throw it out, but I'm not hitting the "publish" button either. Even though that button is a pretty, inviting orange color. Hello, pretty button! Let's be friends, but not too good friends, because people don't need to read every word I put down. Only the good ones.

What's that? I'm rambling? You want me to get to the point already?

Yeah, yeah, I'm getting to it.


[To be honest, I prefer the term "teen" to "young adult." But never "teenager," because that sounds so out of touch.]

Why do I write YA?

I didn't really like being a teen myself. Middle school was a bad experience for me in a lot of ways. High school was better, but I was glad when it was over. (This is, in essence, what I spent five paragraphs on last night and eventually discarded.) So why would I want to revisit the teen years, even in books?

The simplest answer is because teens are so worth it.

I've been doing this series of Real Teens interviews this month, and we've had a lot of fun with them. Answers range from candid to silly to thoughtful. These are some really great people, and I love seeing the world from their perspective.

On the whole teens tend to get a bad rap for being careless, thoughtless and self-obsessed. Not the most flattering or the most accurate view.

Teens care, and they care a lot. The problem isn't with being careless but with having too many things to care about: the well-being of their families, the emotional highs and lows of their friends, the needs of their communities, the state of their country, the tragedies of the world. The world is smaller now because of technology, but it's also bigger than it's ever been because now we're aware of so much more. Hunger, natural disasters, terminal illness, cruelty... how do we care for it all? As adults we've generally mastered the art of caring about what we can productively influence and letting the rest fade out of our awareness. But teens haven't, and they're still burdened by the weight of all these cares.

They aren't thoughtless, either. Again, they have too many thoughts. Who wouldn't be a bit absentminded with a heart full of commitments? They are pulled in every direction, and still somehow manage to stay whole.

And as for self-obsession, there's good reason for it. They're at the tipping point between having all their needs met and needing to meet all their needs on their own. How they are going to do that and fulfill their need for meaning in life are big questions that need answers, answers that don't always come easily.

That's why I love writing books for them. They still have a genuine heart for cares we adults often ignore. Their heads can be everywhere at once and still manage to stay on their shoulders. And they are brimming with potential that both entices and terrifies them.

So as we wrap up the Real Teens series with a few more interviews, keep those things in mind. Enjoy the silliness, but look past it too. See the intensity of life that these teens live. It's pretty extraordinary.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Real Teens of 2014: The Joker

[Real Teens of 2014 is a blog series with interviews of middle and high schoolers. Interview questions are chosen by the interviewee from a list, and answers are presented unedited.]

Code name: Can I be a villain? I want to be The Joker. If not, Violet from The Incredibles.

Favorite book: I don't think I have a single favorite book... I love anything that teaches me or completely envelopes me into the story. Blue Like Jazz is definitely high on my list because it does both.

Tell us something that isn't true.

Contrary to popular belief, pigs will never fly.

If you had the power to fix one thing that you see wrong with the world, what would it be? How would you fix it?

I want to end world hunger. Haha yeah, I know. The answer is extremely cliché. But only on the surface. It breaks my heart to know that so many people do not have access to food. Good food. Nourishing food. I feel a desperate need to help them. How can they have a true chance at anything if they cannot eat? If I had the money, I would start a bakery and café called BREAD (Bible Reveals Every Answer Daily). It would be awesome. I would have two kitchens so everything that is gluten free would truly be 100% gluten free. We would sell to the public. But we'd also reach out to the hungry, homeless, and unemployed. We would work closely with many of the area's shelters and churches. We personally would be a food pantry for those in need. On a regular basis- perhaps once a month- we would have special events that would benefit the people we're helping in someway. No, BREAD wouldn't change the world. But it would change some lives. It would leave a legacy that would hopefully carry on and spread.

What should be the number one priority of the human race?

God. C.S. Lewis once said "one must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important." It is important to remember that Christianity is the only religion in which we are not striving to become perfect versions of ourselves. We are striving to completely surrender ourselves to a perfect God and allow Christ to live through us.

What personality does each color of the rainbow have?

Colors don't have personalities, but feelings and personalities have colors. In the same way that a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. Shade is extremely important. So… red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet...

Red can be anger, blood lust, frustration, addiction, warning, warm, bright, comforting, inviting, exciting, and wrong. So red is angry at the world. Red wants to like people, but has a hard time keeping them around too long because of it's anger issue. Red also struggles with spiritual warfare. Red can also be extremely classy.

Orange can be happy, annoying, extremely exciting, warning, "look at me!", sweet, hyper, also calm… Orange has many personalities, I think. Because traffic cone orange and neon orange is annoying and a plea for attention. However, soft orange and the gold orange in sunsets is calm, sweet, loving, relaxing... It's like a summer evening by the lake watching the world go by. It's a summer evening in the lagoon with the lights strung up in the trees and the fireflies dancing around with life and music, but still peace and a slow pace. (I know we're discussing rainbows, but Orange is extremely flexible and a little all over the place because it's so hyper.)

Yellow is bright, happy, hopeful, exciting, and joyful. Yellow is like the light at the end of the tunnel in a long- and even a short- winter. Yellow is like a promise that the sun will come back. It will be warm again someday, even if that day is not today. Yellow is like an adventure through a meadow. Yellow is the dance of the fireflies through the tree branches. Yellow is caring, always asking "why are you sad? The sun is not far away." The sun can be both figurative and literal. Yellow can also be jealous at times, but not very often.

Green. Green is extremely exciting, happy, comforting, fresh, equivalent to a shot of caffeine... Just to name a few. Green is warm. Even though green is everywhere, it is humble. Often times green goes to make other things stand out. Green stands out on it's own, of course, because it is independent. It simply cares for other colors and doesn't mind being their background guy. Green is also extremely open minded. The human eye can perceive green more than any color. And for only one color, there are seemingly endless amounts of shades. Green can be spontaneous.

Blue is interesting. It can be happy, bright, bursting with energy and joy, calm, and athletic. It can also be depressed, hurt, broken, confused, angry, lost, struggling, tired, and cold. I think Blue has seasonal depression because how it is depends on what it's mixed with: light or dark, white or black, day or night. Blue isn't bad, although it has sometimes convinced itself it is. Blue is beautiful and quite enjoyable. It just doesn't see itself the way others do. It's is nervous around others and tends to lack self confidence. Blue is extremely timid and shy until its barriers are broken. After that, blue almost always has something charming, witty, or funny to say. Blue is very sweet.

Violet is interesting. Violet is dark, mysterious, deep, insightful, extremely intelligent, quiet, introverted, and can be very grouchy. Sometimes violet's grouchiness is simply an act to keep others away. Violet has very high standards and only associates with those who meet it's standards. Violet is the atmosphere of writing in a coffee shop on a rainy day. Violet is rarely shares it's secrets. When it does, it never shares the whole story. Violet is extremely independent and relies on no one. 

It is important to to note that each color has more things tied them. They are not limited.


There you have it! The definitive treatise on color personalities. And I hope you do start BREAD one day. Thank you, Joker!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Real Teens of 2014: Giraffe Guy

[Real Teens of 2014 is a blog series with interviews of middle and high schoolers. Interview questions are chosen by the interviewee from a list, and answers are presented unedited.]

Code Name: Giraffe Guy

Favorite Book: Lord of the Rings

What is your superpower?

If I can imagine it then I can will it into reality.

If you could be one age forever, what age would you choose and why?

25 because it's a nice perfect number, I'm still considered 'young', my hair will not have fallen out, my mind will not have begun to defect, and I will have stopped growing.

If you could turn into an animal, which would you become and why?

(fantasy) Dragon, because they're super cool, amazing, awesome, can breath fire, have great armor, can fly, and don't die easily. (reality) Eagle, because they can fly, have great vision, and are protected by the government.

If you were the only person on earth who did not have to sleep, what would you do with all the extra time?

I would read. I can travel the world and learn almost anything without having to go anywhere at all.


Love it. The "protected by the government line" cracks me up every time. Every. Time. Thank you, Giraffe Guy!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Real Teens of 2014: Little Mermaid

[Real Teens of 2014 is a blog series with interviews of middle and high schoolers. Interview questions are chosen by the interviewee from a list, and answers are presented unedited.]

Code name: Little Mermaid

What's one thing you would NEVER do?

I would NEVER tell anyone "no one likes you". Joking or in seriousness.

What is your fatal flaw?

My fatal flaw is my lack of self control. I over eat and babble when feeling emotional.

And by babble, I say things I shouldn't say, I'm needy.

How do you eat your Oreos?

I eat my Oreos in milk. I'll eat them with a glass of milk, or I will put them in my mug and dig them out with a spoon. Unless they're the fudge covered ones.

What character trait do you find most appealing in another person?

I find it appealing when someone is politely honest. Meaning, when you speak you're real. If you aren't doing well you don't say you're doing well just to make life simpler. You're real about your thoughts, feelings, and the way you communicate and present yourself. Real, without being rude. A trait I would describe as respectfully and politely honest. Respect is one of the best gives anyone can give me. Respect means I am worth enough to not be overlooked or teased.  


Great answers! Now I want some milky Oreos... Thank you for starting us off, Little Mermaid!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Real Teens of 2014

Happy July!

I'm so excited to announce my blog series for this month. Over the next few weeks I'll be hosting several teens here on the blog through a series of interviews. Each of them was given a list of questions and picked four to answer, and their answers so far have been a lot of fun.

But I still have space for more! If you are in middle or high school or just graduated high school this year and you would like to answer a few (mostly silly) questions, let me know! I'd love to have you participate.

The first interview goes up on Thursday. Get excited!