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My Love/Hate Relationship with Comic Book Movies

1 Aug

It never fails. You fall in love with a book, a character, a video game and so do a lot of other people but then one day…HORROR. You catch wind of buzz for a movie version and your heart is swallowed in a black hole of grief. You cry to the heavens, “Khaaaannnn!” I mean, “Whyyyy?”

Some of you may have felt this way about the Harry Potter series or Jane Austen novels. Maybe, like me, you hang your head a little lower every time a Resident Evil movie pops up. And are all book/game-to-movie adaptations terrible? I don’t think so. You should see how worn my Pride and Prejudice DVD is. But mostly? Yeah, they’re awful and I’ll give you my opinion on why.

I don’t think directors give enough thought to how non-theatrical elements translate to the screen. Books and games don’t come in a scripted format that’s been edited for length and efficiency. Characters don’t reveal themselves in a novel as they would in a play or a movie. Although all art forms influence each other, there are still very real and vivid differences in how they operate. The way I see it, when you’re making a movie from a different form of media, you not only need to look at how to edit the content but you would also need to envision the characters, events, and environment as living things. You have to pick them up from one place and set them down in another, asking them to translate all that they are in a way that makes sense for the movie. Things that would have been shown through subtlety, background, and internal thought will need to put into action and dialogue. It’s not an act of changing the material but of changing the way it’s expressed. Often, though, movies skip over those elements and I think what pisses most of us off is when a director changes something entirely. We’re willing to overlook things left out but to change it altogether? Blasphemy.

In comic books, I think the changes are even harder for people to deal with. In a way, they are probably the easiest form of storytelling to make into a movie because, like a movie, they reveal everything in action and dialogue. Characters act as though they’re on a stage. They have over-sized personalities and gestures. They give one-liners that, while we all hate them, are a part of the charm of comic book heritage. These are things that are perfectly suited for adaptation to a movie. However, things fly in comic books that can’t in modern cinema. Let’s take a look at one of the first attempts at this: Batman. The Michael Keaton version.

Jack Nicholson as the first Joker.

This movie communicated everything as it was in the comic. It was extremely theatrical and…well, some would say cheesy. There were dramatic stares, bad punching sound effects, actors had superficial and stereotyped lines. It also had one of my favorite Jack Nicholson lines ever, though. (“Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?”) It was awesome. Tim Burton was the director and…lots and lots of people hated it. I liked it because, though it didn’t line up well with any particular series as far as the plot went, it followed everyone’s MO. Batman was serious and heroic, always saving the girl and Joker was…Joker, off doing things just because he could and it amused him. Over all, a shallow but entertaining representation of the comic and characters. So what was missing?

Well, modern cinema was moving away from theatricality and as directors scratched their heads, all the comic book fans said, “hey, why don’t you stop making us look bad?” The truth is, comic books are often over-the-top and somewhat expected. This is especially true for those meant for younger readers. The plots are easy to follow and usually if you’ve read one, you can kinda guess what’s going to happen in the rest. Typically you know what to expect from a hero or heroine and all events surrounding him/her are predictable. Now, there are adult, deep, thought-provoking series out there but they’re a little overshadowed, aren’t they? Comic book movies, for a very long time, didn’t help with this. Just look at the rest of the Batman series prior to Christopher Nolan’s entrance. Directors hadn’t quite figured out how to make comic movies appeal to everyone but with the first X-men movie came change.

It was the first time anyone had attempted to make a comic book movie just like any other action movie. The one-liners were taken out. (Okay, mostly.) The characters wore practical uniforms not at all like their comic book personas. If a person’s background was sketchy compared to the mainstream, it was skipped. (Take Aurora/Storm. African goddess? Would have never guessed from the film.) Overall, the core idea remained but lots and lots of things were changed or omitted.

This has kind of been the way of things ever since. Comic movies have teetered between being just like any other action movie and retaining the stereotypical flair of the books. With each director, comes a different flavor ranging from theatrical and (almost too) authentic (take the Spiderman trilogy) to dramatic and deep (Nolan’s Batman). There’s a constant debate in the comic community between which version is best and for that reason, this trend of never knowing what to expect and cringing when you see a trailer is likely to continue as long as comic movies are in production. There’s probably a few more subtleties underlying why comic movies are so diverse and aggravating but here’s my very own list of why I love to hate them:

The Good

1. Attractive Heroes (and sometimes villains)

2. Following a story I love (when it’s not screwed up)

3. Plots that address the human condition

4. A love story (tragic or not)

5. Action sequences

The Bad

1. Predictable Villains (and sometimes heroes)

His name was Sinestro, for crying out loud! If you needed a bigger red flag, just look at the eyebrows. You can always tell a villain by the brows. Just watch.

His brows are practically patented.

 

Need I go on?

 You just learned something new.

2. Wimpy ladies.

Leaver her there! Looks like someone should start carrying mace.

 The Ugly

1. Musical numbers.


Okay, eff Spider Man 3 all around. Worst comic movie ever. Even more embarrassing than that first Hulk movie no one even remembers.

2. Screwing up significant plot lines.

The director of The Last Stand is one of those people I would beat half to death if I met him in alley. He messed up one of my all time favorite characters and I do believe I cried in the theater when the credits started rolling. Hot tears of fury.

3. S&M-looking anti-heroes

Uuuugggh *vomit*

 

Don’t get me wrong. Scantily clad women in comic books get a pass…because it’s a comic book and that’s kind of the way of things. My absolute favorite heroine ever happens to have a pretty revealing costume but she’s not a slutty character. What they did to Catwoman in the movie was unacceptable because it altered her character. She’s always been a flirt but she wasn’t trashy.

Of course, this isn’t everything that I love and hate about comic movies but move on to what you think. What makes your love/hate list?

To Actually Get Better (Or Maybe, The Problem with Boredom)

11 Jul

Have you ever heard a good bit of advice or had an idea that you knew could change things for the better and you said, “No problem! I can do that!” But when it actually came time to work on yourself, you hesitated or put it off for later? I’m betting you have and plenty of times because I can remember those moments pretty clearly for myself. I have to be the world’s worst for taking my own advice and often I have to wonder why.

I was just about to take my quiet time today when I noticed how hard it was for me to just shut off the TV. (I’ve been indulging in an X-men cartoon marathon all weekend and was in the middle of a season finale.) I wasn’t convinced that quiet time would be very beneficial today and honestly, I come up against that hesitation every single day. Even for things that are very important to me, like writing, it’s very hard for me to create a habit. Since I’m already a deeply habitual person, changing my ways is pretty hard for me. I can talk a good talk but the walk is always significantly more difficult.

So I guess today is a good time to confess my weaknesses. I haven’t been consistently following the advice and attaining the goals I’ve set for myself on this blog. Well…let’s just cut to the list that I started with, shall we?

“1. Learn to knit and crochet
2. Find gym and get on a schedule for exercise (Well…halfway there?)
3. Get a hot body by June for my husband’s tacking-on (Yes, I do like to be arm candy. What of it?) (He never had one so…yeah.)
4. Walk the dogs more often
5. Find the right hairstyle
6. Find a fulfilling job
7. Work my way into grad school (Starting next month!)
8. Honeymoon! (This probably won’t happen for a very long time so I’m just taking it off.)
9. Start a book club for twenty-somethings. (I’m still working on this.)
10. Go to church more often.
11. Make true friends.
12. Make my rental into a home. (We’re getting there.)
13. Get published! (I’m a writer, after all.)
14. Write 3 new short stories or essays. (Uhm, does one pretty long rough-draft account for anything?)
15. Make more time for gaming. (Did I mention I’m a nerd?)
16. Keep in touch with long-distance friends.
17. Get one World of Warcraft character to level 85. (Outstanding, right?) (I stopped playing this because it was…sad.)
18. Make more time for reading.
19. Start a blog. (Riiiight?)

So that’s eight things that I worked on and actually accomplished so far and a couple that just fell by the wayside for (mostly) good reasons.

Still, the things left on the list are some of the biggies and sometimes I’m great about them and sometimes I’m not. Worst of these things are three:

1. I haven’t been going to gym anywhere near as often as I should.

I talked about this before, but hypoglycemia has been a bit of a struggle when getting myself to the gym and through a workout. It’s really discouraging for me to have health issues because I’m a young and typically vivacious woman and I love to challenge and push myself. My body just says no sometimes and that’s made me lose a little hope for my fitness goals.
However, it’s super important to me and starting today, I’m really putting up a fight for my health and fitness. I’m going to make serious attempts to make it to the gym three times a week and to get on a better diet to help balance my sugar lows.

2. I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like.

And this is where it gets a little complicated. It’s not always my will that fails, but deciding how long I should spend in quiet time per day has been a weird discovery period. I have three things to read: my Bible, some devotional-type books, and reading to help inspire me to write. If I did all three of these every day, I would be spending two-three hours in silence doing some mental work. Frankly, that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but in setting a reasonable goal for myself, I decided I wanted that personal time to look more like an hour and a half. That would give me plenty of time every day to write, volunteer, clean, and hang out with the dogs. So I’ve been picking books with short stories/essays and switching every other day between reading my Bible and reading devotional books.
I’m getting better about this, but it’s still hard and I have to really convince myself every day to do it.

3. The very worst of the worst: I haven’t been writing as often or as much as I need to.

And this is the trickiest. I’m a believer in writing on a routine basis, whether you feel like it or not, but writing without inspiration is a difficult, long, and sometimes discouraging process. I finished a rough draft not too long ago of an essay I’d been working on for awhile but the critique and review stage set me back a little further than I was expecting…in a good way, ultimately. Right now, I’m working on realigning the story and I have to go back and forth between the original copy and a couple different versions of how things could work and I usually have to come up with something entirely different than what I already have. Essentially, I’m analyzing three stories for every step I take and it’s kinda grueling. It takes a lot of motivation that I just don’t have very often but…
I’m promising myself today that if I absolutely can’t stand to look at that essay, that I’ll work on something else. Even if it’s something small. Even if it’s an exercise in describing an experience that I will never use in a larger work, I need to keep writing so I stay in the habit.

But saying it isn’t enough, is it? We’ve all set goals, sucked at them, tried again, and still sucked at them. How do we really get better?

I think we first have to ask if we really want to get better. Isn’t it funny that when you were a kid and you got sick and everyone took care of you that you were a little disappointed when you started to feel better? Could it be that we suffer that syndrome in every day life and that it impedes our moving on? Do we enjoy the routine, the comfortable knowing, the attention we get, when we live in a second-rate life? I definitely think so. It’s the greatest temptation to stay exactly where we are because we all fear what we don’t know and haven’t experienced yet. How do we know that being in better health or having a better spiritual or intellectual life will actually make us happier? We don’t and in fact, for some reason our brains tell us the opposite–that if we’re getting by, even if there’s a possibility to be more fulfilled elsewhere, we should let things remain the same. We should accept where we are.

For me, my problem is that I have so much time to do nothing that it’s tempting to actually do nothing with it. I could easily watch TV all day without consequence but it wouldn’t actually make me a better person. For some of you, your day may go by so quickly that it’s easy to wish even more of your time away and miss out on the opportunities to stop and enjoy what’s happening around you. Or maybe the job you hate has been so good at paying your bills that you just don’t have the certainty that happiness is better than complacency.

So do we want to get better? Really? Well, for me, the honest answer is not yet. Not yet am I driven to do whatever I need to reach my goals but I have some naive faith that in earnestly trying, I’ll discover new and better feelings or maybe I’ll just find out that those things weren’t so important all along. Either way, I will have explored and found out what I always wanted to know. I will have no regrets that I didn’t try hard enough or risk what I could. Ask yourself if you’re willing to do whatever it takes and then push as hard as you can for the things that matter most.

Budgeting for Generosity

1 Jul

A couple weeks ago I shared with you all a new conviction of mine. I wanted to truly own the feeling that, as a couple, my husband and I have everything we need. To achieve that kind of contentment, I came up with the idea of donating as much as we can afford to people less fortunate. Hubs and I took a look at our spending and our needs and found out that my conviction was uncovering some bad habits. As a result, we not only have a better grip on our finances, but we’re also more appreciative of our status as independent adults. Even though we’re only looking at a monthly donation of $30-40 a month, it feels pretty good that we’re making it and capable of giving anything in spite of my not-so-ideal working situation.

If you’re curious about how to budget for donation (without losing your sanity) or maybe thinking of trying this yourself, here’s how we figured it out.

First, make a list of your needs either by pay period or monthly income. Anything beyond that is a bit much to calculate. For us, this consisted of of bills, gas, food, credit card payments, a humble amount for entertainment, and a reasonable allotment for miscellaneous/unpredictable expenses. Tithing falls into this too, in a way.

Then plan ahead. I went back and forth on deciding how much to save and for what things. Is saving for a seasonal vacation selfish? What about haircuts or wardrobe updates? Home improvements? In the end, I came up with a sample budget for these types of things based on what I might like to have in the next six months. I might want a $40 haircut every four months, a $60 wardrobe update every three months, and a $200 vacation every three months. That’s something like $320 every six months so we would want to save between $50-60 a month for those things. This isn’t exactly what our plan looks like but you get the idea. Once we decided on what things were okay to want and set-up for that, we also decided how much to put toward general savings.

Decide if you’re comfortable giving everything that’s left. You might not be, and that’s okay. I’d like to think a tiny bit is better than nothing, if you’re inclined to give at all.

Choose how you give: Since I already volunteer my time with books and dogs, it was important to me to make a direct contribution to people. I picked a local organization that provides food to the homeless and poverty-stricken families in our area.

Since Will is getting his official promotion today, we’re going to be looking at adjusting all this to reflect his pay raise. However, it’s important to remember that there are other ways to be generous to people in your life and your community. Volunteer work is rewarding and free if you have a couple hours  week to spare but maybe you know more practical ways to help someone. You could send cards to people in the hospital or nursing homes, give unused food to a local soup kitchen, or fundraise for families who can’t afford school supplies. You can use your talents and your interests or passions to love the people around you and build a stronger community. I encourage you to think it over. Do some soul-searching and decide what matters to you. For many of us, we cannot make grand gestures with blank checks but we can do small things with great love.

Loving you,

Me

Wearing the Shoes

29 Jun

Feet aren’t typically beautiful body parts and yet most of the women I know are embarrassed by them. That’s most women including me, actually. For me it’s not just that my toes are strangely shaped but they’re slightly wider than most and they turn bright red or purple at untimely moments, making sandals and heels especially tricky to wear. Not all heels flatter the wide parts of my feet and peep-toes are nearly always out of the question. Leaving my toes exposed is always risky because I’m anxious that my freakishly-colored feet will draw the wrong attention. For a long time, I’ve decided not to care about buying pretty shoes unless I need them for some kind of special occasion. In the winter, I either wear straightforward boots or berks and in the warmer seasons, I wear a comfy and reliable pair of flip flops. None of them make people look at my feet and that’s always been comforting.

I went shopping with my mom last weekend, though, and as usual, I couldn’t really talk her out of buying me something. Reluctantly, I decided shoes were the only things I had more room for but then I got myself in a pickle; I couldn’t decide between a simple and casual wedge and a dressier, floral pair. I knew that I liked the floral pair more from the moment I saw them but I could only think about how they might make people look at my feet. The practical pair were similar in a lot of ways but didn’t draw attention. Then I had to decide…am I a girl with feet worth admiring? Am I worth admiring at all?

I have a hunch that lots of us go through this thought process when we shop. It’s not as simple as what we like but what we think matches our value. I always pick clothes that I think I can “pull off,” but isn’t that another way of saying I’m not worth the style I really love? I’m not just talking about shopping for your body type or a style that matches your personality. What I’m really getting at is that feeling when you’re attracted to something you know could work but you think, “I’m just not that girl who could wear a jumper,” or, “my legs are too ugly to wear that skirt.” I see it all the time. Women embarrassed by their stomachs, their arms, even their knees. How did we get this way? I can bet that no one’s ever come along and told you that your arms aren’t sculpted enough to wear that shirt or that your dress doesn’t match your personality. I can bet that you saw other women looking “better” in something similar and felt bad about yourself. Those feelings, at least most of them, come from the inside and not anything that’s ever happened. The only person who’s ever noticed my feet turn red is my mom and…well, that’s just her job.

I deeply believe that we decide how beautiful we are by first feeling that way and that no one else can actually make that happen for you, even by saying so. Have you ever had someone say, “You’re looking pretty today,” and you’re like, “Really? In my gym clothes? I’m not even trying today. Tell me I’m pretty when you can know I’m dressed up.” I’ve told my husband similar things several times. I tell him only to say I’m beautiful when I actually feel beautiful because somehow it makes the times I’m trying feel less special. I should definitely be more appreciative anytime he gives me a compliment and somehow this led me to discover that I don’t truly care how other people think I look. I just care how I feel. I don’t know if it can be the same way for everyone, but somehow I hope it is possible that it’s a universal truth. I hope women can be beautiful whenever they feel like it no matter what their body looks like. Maybe then we’d be braver. We could buy the tunic we’ve always stared at in the window. We could deserve flowery shoes every day.

Be comfortable. Be proud. Feel pretty and wear the shoes.

Believing in you,

Brytani

Silent and Meaningful

22 Jun

On Monday I shared my feelings on the importance of quiet. I believe words and sounds can detract from our attentiveness to ourselves but there’s something else too. I think sometimes when we rush into the words we say to God, we detract from the power of our prayers and our worship as well.

I really attempt to be authentic in my exchanges with people and with God. I try to say exactly what I mean in as few words as possible but often, speech completely fails me. I’ve aggravated Hubs several times by stopping mid-argument to write down what I mean to say because I have such a terrible time actually speaking. What happens is my mind is in so many places at once that I can’t narrow them down into a sentence. I confuse myself and lose track of my point so much that I can never come back to it if I don’t just stop everything and write. The truth is, I don’t know what I really think until it’s down on a piece of paper somewhere and I’m surprised sometimes by how much better my hand can draft the thoughts than my mouth is able to form them. Go figure.

The point is, sometimes words are not enough and sometimes they are entirely too much. This scripture sums up nicely what I’m trying to get at:

“Guard your steps as you go to the house of God, and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2)

When I say I try to be authentic, I don’t mean that I like something indie-cool. Or that I always have some wise thing to say that no one has thought of before. In fact, I’m afraid I’m too nerdy to be understood most of the time. What I really mean is that I don’t do things without thinking about them. Even when someone is watching and expecting me to do something, I just can’t unless I really mean it and that fully applies to my religious life.

Sometimes I ask Will if I’m a bad Christian because I don’t always like to do the things that other Christians do every day. For instance, I don’t usually bless my food. Eating out with other Christians has led to some awkward silences as everyone looks around to see who will say the prayer out loud. That person will probably never be me. Another awkward time for me is musical worship. I don’t often sing during a service. Nor do I usually lift my hands or kneel or have a lot of outward signs to match the inward process.

I don’t do these things not because I have a problem with them, but because I either don’t mean them or they’re distracting to me. Let’s be clear: I was raised in a Pentecostal church. There’s very little that anyone can do to make me raise a brow. I used to help lead worship by singing and I used to be an avid hand-raiser and at the time, I meant those things and they helped take me into deeper worship. If those things are meaningful to you, by all means use them. I just think that for a lot of Christians, prayer and worship have fallen into cookie-cutter shapes that aren’t truly pleasing to God.

I don’t want to bless my food if I don’t actually envision myself standing in front of God, telling him how thankful I am for the meals he provides. I don’t ask for healing if I’m not pressing into his courts to wrestle him for the sake of another. I don’t sing because I usually have an entirely different song I’m making up on the inside and everyone would stare me down if they heard me free-styling over the top of “Heart of Worship.” I just don’t half-ass my relationship with him. I try not to think of myself as a bad Christian because if I don’t pray every day, it’s because I think prayer is sacred and I don’t want to enter into his presence just to fill his ears with words I don’t mean. When I do prayer, it’s personal and real and usually there’s a struggle. I ask for impossible things and I demand that he changes his mind. I fight with him and I beg for understanding. We make promises and I warn him that I’m about to break a rule.

What I think is that the appreciation for silence has been lost. I think if you don’t have anything meaningful to say, it would mean more to God for you to just stay quiet and consider him. I deeply believe that the greatest form of worship is that sense of awe that you get when you’re camping on a mountain and you see more stars than you’ve ever seen in your life. You don’t have to feel like a bad Christian to sit in silence during worship and just take him in, whispering in your mind what you actually feel instead of singing a song you’ve known since you were a teenager. Don’t pray or sing or clap if it takes away from that moment of wonder when you remember him or when you realize he’s near. Don’t lift your hands or dance in the aisles if you lose that quiet second when you tip-toed nearer to him. Let your words be few but true.

Oh, and don’t worry about the other people looking. Being ready every now and then makes you wiser than the fool who throws out words every day.

 

Yep,

Me

Peace and Quiet

20 Jun

Sooo, sorry about last week. While visiting Will’s family, my car broke down and I was stuck staying with my parents until the parts came in. I’m back home now but unfortunately, I’m still car-less until this weekend. It hasn’t been an awesome experience but I’m thankful that we broke down so close to my family and I was able to spend some quality time with all of them.  Now you know why last week was all dead air here on the blog and I’m pretty behind on my reading and writing goals too. I’m letting it go, though, and writing up last week as vacation time so I don’t have to feel guilty for doing a whole lot of nothing. Which kinda leads into what I’m talking about today: the value of quiet-time.

I have to be careful about how I spend my time and who I spend it with because I have a tendency to become very solitary. I truly don’t mind being alone for long periods of time and in fact, I usually enjoy it.  I like to go out for lunch by myself sometimes and spend some time with a book at a cafe. I like to take the dogs to the park and walk around on our own. I love people very much but I don’t necessarily prefer their company  all the time. I’m a classic introvert in the way that I need lots of time to recharge after being social so my life is a balance of spending time with people and then taking more time to do “me” things.

Being like this makes me somewhat of an expert on taking time to rest and just be still. It’s very important to me but I also think it should be an important part of everyone’s life. We spend so much time working our minds and filling our time with insignificant worries and thoughts that often silence can feel nerve-wracking. If everything is quiet and still, something must be wrong, right? It’s as if peace has been equated to laziness or being unsociable in our society. I feel myself being told to watch more TV or text someone while I’m waiting. As I’m writing this, I’m also watching TV and that’s kind of the norm for everything. I listen to music while I’m cleaning, talk on the phone while I’m playing a video game. I’m guilty.For me, the constant sound–the constant words–are exhausting. I live for words and yet I overload so easily. I want them but at some point they start doing more harm than good.

About a month ago, before my yoga class started, a middle-aged woman leaned over to me and introduced herself. We exchanged small talk and she started to tell me how much she loved yoga classes. Her life was so stressful, she explained, that the gym was the only place where she got to have any quiet. At first I felt a little ashamed because my life is usually the opposite of stressful and I have all kinds of time for peace and yet…I still related. My favorite part of the class is the very end when we get to lie on our sides in the dark, essential oils in the air, and just bask in the pure silence. When I leave, there’s an afterglow of relaxation that I feel trailing behind every step I take. I come home and lean my whole body against my husband, who is typically working on dinner at that time, and just sigh. He starts to talk and I shush him because the stillness is so nice.

In a way, I’m most myself in those moments. I can feel every part of my body– all the space I have inside that doesn’t need any filling at all. I feel empty but absolutely overflowing with self-awareness. I’m alive and deep and dripping with rest, like I’ve emerged from pool or lake after a long swim into its deepest parts. I feel sexy too. I’m not thinking about the skinny stick of a starlet from some tv drama who looks better than me in a bathing suit. I’m not too worried about our bills or job prospects. I just feel instead of thinking.

I doubt anyone can get to that place and be allowed to stay for too long but I think everyone can find and feel it for as long as she needs every day. It might be that you only get ten minutes of quiet on your way to work or you have to take a five minute walk on your lunch break, but you deserve every last minute you can make for yourself. Turn off the music, the TV, your phone and then stop thinking about all the things that keep you preoccupied– your plans for dinner, your social calender, your next paycheck. Let go and create a moment for yourself, as long as you can manage, that’s completely silent. Do nothing but reside in that empty space inside of you. And I know how mystic and unattainable that sounds but you have that place and you need to be inside it every day to appreciate and love yourself. You can read, you can journal, or maybe meditate if you’re into it. Just take a break for some quiet time. It will do you good.

For me, this time is very close to what worship looks like. So tomorrow I’m going to write a bit more about how silence can be enriching and how worship is more than just singing in church.

Love always,

Brytani

Try, Try Again

9 Jun

I’ve been doing a lot of two things lately: persisting and persevering.

Before I started this blog, I suffered an epic fail in January that had me a little on the depressed side for the better part of a month. I feel like I should start way before January, though.

Last May I graduated from my undergraduate studies with a degree in Creative Writing. I’ve discussed a couple times how much I love being a writer and how I never expected my degree to land me some heavenly job. I knew too well that in our current economy, there only a few degree types that (nearly) guarantee a job out of four years of university study. Sadly, careers in America are increasingly requiring a Master’s level degree. So! I graduated with the short term goal of moving in with my parents and finding a decent summer job to help pay for my wedding in October. All that happened without a hitch. Within a week of moving home and only a month after graduation, I had a decent full-time job to help my family with marriage expenses. The problem was this: I hated that job. It was the single most stressful thing I’d ever been through and while I was the only person on our team who didn’t have a mental breakdown at least once a day, I don’t think I’ve ever been miserable or more drained, even after hours. I don’t even want to get into what it was I dealt with or how the hell I survived (and some might even say conquered). What I’ll say is what I learned from the experience.

I need to be in love with a full-time career:  Even being so close to my graduation and all the practice that my classes gave me, during those few horrific months, I never, EVER wanted to write. Hating to get up in the morning made me lose every ounce of my creativity. So as I was taking my lunch break one day, alone and in the quiet with a yummy fruit salad, I started to plan a type of day job that I could truly enjoy and even love. I needed it to be something that I could do from almost anywhere because I have a goal of being a world traveler and also because of Will’s military commitment. All things considered, I decided on library science because…well, it’s pretty much everything I love and about as un-stressful or taxing as I can imagine. I probably won’t get rich from it but it can be very steady employment with a comfortable retirement.

While I was still working and wedding-planning, I started planning for school and was accepted for study at a certain university in Durham. I had to work fast after the wedding to apply for financial aid and register for classes and even though I finished all that way ahead of time, my loan didn’t come through until the week after courses started. Some of you know the story and some of you don’t, so I’m just going to sum up very quickly. The program was supposed to be able to be completed entirely online but when I registered for and started classes, I found out that was not the case. I wound up taking one course on campus for which I drove an hour at night to park off-campus in downtown Durham. I then had to walk about a mile to our building and listen for over half the class to my instructor being absolutely insane. Then my online instructors informed me that if I could not make it to campus to study at their library, I should consider withdrawing…so I did. Two weeks into classes, I was frustrated enough with the state of their instruction and concern for their students to shut down on the idea of school for that whole semester. I had to waste all these months that I could have been learning elsewhere because I picked a school that was not dedicated to its students. My bad.

When the aftermath had cleared a month later, I applied again to another school and got it. This time I will probably have to drive an hour and a half to class two or three times a week but I feel like I will definitely have a much better experience. If not, I can’t afford to try anything else right now so I’ll just have to stick it out.

I’ve applied for scholarships and recently registered for classes. I’m taking three which I’m told will be a whole lot of work. Since I’m unemployed, I’m really looking forward to that. 🙂

I think what I’m trying to say is that it’s hard to keep faith in a dream that utterly fails on your first attempt. After I graduated, I spent a long time in prayer, hoping for a divine intervention that would give me a strong clue about what to do with my life. Honestly, I still pray for that because I’m not entirely sure this is it. I know that I can be happy doing it and that it will help me do the things that I really want…but at the same time I believe God has an ideal path for everyone that we can only find by giving in to His will and being guided by faith. It’s the kind of “calling” that we all want to feel and look for and I’m not completely certain that this will be it for me.

What I do know is that there’s nothing I would rather be trying for right now and it suits the needs that I have at this point. Do we sometimes decide our own calling? I think so but I still have my eyes peeled for whatever adventure my faith demands of me. All this–all life and happiness, success and fulfillment– I think stands on our ability to plan the same thing that God has planned for us. No monk , no pastor, no rabbi, or priest can tell you how to do that exactly but they all agree that waiting around isn’t productive. The two consistently recommended actions are continuing and praying.

I like the quote that says, “the future is just the path with the lights turned on.”