In defense of a world in need of a Savior

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There was a time when you could open up a newspaper and read articles heralding the season of Christmas with open feelings toward Jesus Christ.  Such articles would detail the effect He has had on their lives and the lives of their family.  The reader would gently smile to themselves as they reflected on their own lives.  Christmas was much more openly centered on Christ than it is now.

The world needs a Savior.  You only have to turn on the TV to know that’s true.  There is so much hate and noise in the world that people born today won’t hear much else throughout their lives.  We are bombarded by voices (often screaming) at how we should live, what we should eat, what we should believe, and constantly judging what we do.  Through a constant stream of placating the “offended” among us, we have lost our identity.

I have written several paragraphs and deleted them going off topic of the cause of “why” and how we’ve lost our identity as people because we try too hard to accommodate the needs of everyone.  But the real truth is that the world is a better place because people believe in a Savior that came to save them from the world.  That’s the reason for this article.  Whether there is overwhelming support that He exists or not is irrelevant.  One thing that you cannot deny is that He brings the one thing that’s almost impossible to inspire in 2016.  Hope.

The argument that people are only good because they are trying to get into heaven is a feeble one.  People can only work toward a goal without a reward for only so long (even the most saintly among us).  There has to be something that consistently brings people to do good repeatedly.  That’s the hope that a Savior provides.  Can people be good without the belief in a Savior?  Of course.  It is not my intent to imply that the only good that comes from the world has to be through that belief.  My argument is that the world is so much better off because of the enduring hope a Savior brings.

Can evil be done in the name of a Savior?  Of course.  People are always going to be subject to their own free will.  Too many have been hurt by “believers” and carry with them an understandable bitterness toward the idea.  But such bitterness could be applied to any group of people.  Just as you can find incredibly good people in a group of people, the opposite can also be found.  The misconception is that religion is exempt from that rule.  But just because one “believer” can ruin the lives of many, the opposite is always true as well.

Isn’t in infantile to believe in stories that were created centuries ago?  That’s for each individual to decide.  But is there more harm or good done by it?  Come Christmas Eve there will be millions of people gathering together as friends and family in the spirit of the season.  Whether they pray to thank their God for a Savior or not doesn’t change the fact that they are turning their thoughts and attention to those who need it.  The poor and hungry are remembered more than ever.  Smiles are returned to strangers who donate to make their Christmas morning a little brighter.  Family member’s petty differences are put aside to bring them closer on Christmas.  While exceptions always exist, the greater good of Christmas prevails because of the existence of a Savior.

So, this Christmas season take joy in sharing what you are passionate about.  Enjoy people who share that passion with you even when it’s something you may not agree with yourself.  Be happy that people are happy.  If something offends you, engage in productive conversations about what you are feeling so you can be happy without taking something away from someone else.  The messages and stories shared about Christ the Savior are always of love and understanding.  Be they true or not to you, there is wisdom to be gained from them to make the world a more kind and joyous place.  So, this season of worldwide turmoil and hatred, take comfort in the holiday inspired by a Savior for ALL mankind.

 

 

 

 

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Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life Is Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Best Yet

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        The internet is littered with articles with their individual takes on the Gilmore Girls revival, some pleasant, some raging, and some still wondering where episode 5 went.  I add my own thoughts not as the defining opinion but rather as another testament to the show’s ability to connect to its audience no matter how old the characters are, what circumstances they find themselves, or even (especially?) the mistakes they make along the way.

Rather than save my opinion for the end of the piece, I will say that I absolutely loved it.  Perhaps that means 45% of you will read along with me to validate your own opinions, 45% of you will scroll down to the comment section and tell how wrong that I am, and 10% of you will search valiantly for the release date of episode 5.  But, by saying that I loved it does not mean that everything about it was 100% amazing.

We’ve spent over 15 years with these characters in our minds.  We experienced life with them through multiple screenings, each time picking up the amazing subtle jokes of the Paladino’s and the brilliance in which the actors portrayed their characters.  During the times we weren’t actively watching them, they still stayed on our minds: the diners we wished were Luke’s, the coffee trips that made you question if you were becoming Lorelai, and the infamous “Rory Booklist” that we pretended like we’d someday read…if we found the time.  Like the best written characters, they became ours.  That’s the miracle and beauty of writing.  The moment a character emerges from the mind of the author, they become what the reader intends them to be.

We celebrate their joys and weep through their heartaches as if they were our own.  Like family, we instinctively become protective of them.  So, to come back several years later in a storyline is probably the hardest thing a writer can do if their goal is to please their audience.  So what do you do?  You tell the story you always envisioned the best you can.  While internet forums will debate endlessly everything from the choice of wardrobe to the decisions of characters, it’s the writer that must go to bed feeling satisfied they have told their story.

While every character deserves their own admiration and praise, I will only focus on the ones that I felt had significant character development.  So, shall we begin?

Lane & Zack

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        I admit that I was not a big fan of Zack when he came along and even less a fan of the unexpected pregnancy the derailed some of their plans.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to be so satisfied with Lane & Zack’s life in Stars Hollow.  They never made Hep Alien the worldwide sensation they hoped it would be but, they still play.  Whether they are jamming in their house or strumming sultry tones in The Secret Bar, they still continue to follow and fight for their passion no matter how “small” it may seem and I think that’s beautiful.  Just because we can’t all be JK Rowling or Bono doesn’t diminish our own talents and the joy it can bring us and others.  Also, Lane having kids bodes very well for her future relationship with Rory.

Michel

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        Michel made me laugh throughout the entire series but I have to confess that I never knew why Lorelai put up with him and kept him around.  He seemed more trouble than he was worth.  But, I think there are those people in your life that do a lot for you even if they aren’t the most pleasant of people.  Obviously Michel stayed around Lorelai for years for a reason and I think it’s because he loved being…loved.  While he rarely shows appreciation for it in a socially acceptable way, he does have his moments.  It was good to see him moving on with his life and finding ways to find happiness.  Let’s just hope the Dragonfly II has space for a spa.

Dean

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        As much as I really hated Dean, his scene in Doose’s was the best I could have asked for.  It was a great testament to first loves and, while they may not be perfect, they sometimes guide us to our next phase of life.  When Rory said that he made her know what safe felt like was a great tribute to him and what she took away from that relationship.  While no one can be completely perfect, there are those we associate with that teach us to recognize what we do eventually want in a partner.  So, here’s the best compliment I can give to you Dean…you made Rory learn to find someone to make her feel safe.  Kudos.  Also, can we pretend that he got a job at a paper company while living in Scranton?  Because that might me like him more.

Paris & Doyle

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        If there was one person that stands out at being able to jump back into their role perfectly, it would have to be Paris.  Everything about her screamed Paris and the audience loved every bit of it.  The snide comments, the mental breakdowns, and the overall uneasiness she made everyone around her feel.  Classic Paris.  As to her current situation, it came as no surprise to me that she held multiple degrees and titles.  Anyone who thought that she would be satisfied in one position in life obviously didn’t pay too much attention to this character.  Once she accomplished one thing, I am sure she has a list ready and waiting for the next.  I envision her at the end of her life looking at her accomplishments like Alexander the Great, “And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

While I am sad that Doyle had some sort of early mid-life crisis which left his marriage in shambles, I am glad they had children.  In the end I think this will be part of the reason he ends up coming back and staying.  I see a role-reversal where Paris takes a stubborn approach and says that she will uproot the family and bring them to LA or wherever he decides he needs to be.  Paris Gellar…. giving up a medical practice to follow her acting career she originally started at Chilton (O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick!)

Logan

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        I never disliked Logan.  In fact, I thought he was great for Rory at first.  He taught her how to take risks and enjoy the daily moments that life can bring and never refuse to settle for “good enough.”  He had such drive and independence that it was hard not to like him.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he went back to what was comfortable to him.  I am not sure whether this was because of pressure from his father or the fact that it’s easier to do what you know than to find something new.  Whatever the reason, he felt cold and uninspired.  And if Rory has been seeing him frequently, no wonder she’s losing her edge as well.  Even if he wasn’t engaged (more about that in a minute) and Rory ended up with him, I could easily see her becoming the “Emily” to his “Richard.”  Not that either of those people aren’t without their qualities, but definitely not what we had hoped for her.

There was a spark of the old Logan with the Life & Death Brigade montage and it was great to see the old gang again.  Once I realized it wasn’t a dream (about 10 minute in) I was able to appreciate it for what it was.  While there were artistic liberties taken, I appreciated that it was less about what actually happened and more about what the group made Rory feel like.  But dude, Logan, you are an engaged man.

The only way I would have accepted this situation was if it was understood that both of these people were only getting married to “join the kingdoms” and he had his own mistress and she had her own “Mister…ess?” like olden times.  But, it is quite clear that she knows nothing of Logan’s indiscretions and that’s despicable.  If he truly wanted Rory, he could have had her but was unwilling to let go of his new life.  So, Christop….I mean Logan, you can learn to grow up and check back with us later.

Jess

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        Who knew that Jess would be one of the most stable characters on the show?  Oh, that’s right, #teamjess did.  Really though, who made the most progress as a character throughout the span of the show?  He started as a troubled teen in the inner-city to a responsible and caring human being.  Did he suck as a human being to start?  Yeah, but at least he made it funny (“Basket!  Basket maker!  Guy who didn’t bring enough money.”)  But we saw him leave, struggle, and find out who he is and make it on his own.  He even tried to make it up to Luke by repaying him what he thought was owed.

But!  Most importantly?  He put Rory back on the path she was supposed to be on…more than once.  First, when he told her she was supposed to be in school.  No one could help her see that except him.  In some ways, she trusts his opinion above Lorelai’s and he can’t get much higher praise than that.  The second time was when her life was spiraling and she couldn’t find her place in life.  What does he do?  Sees who she is and helps find her purpose.

Who is this starting to sound like?  Someone’s life is out of control and they keep coming back to them time and time again to seek comfort, guidance, and direction…. I’m not saying Jess should buy a diner and invest in flannel but…it couldn’t hurt.  His last scene says so much about his future in Rory’s life.  He’ll wait.  He’ll wait and be as lame as he thought Luke was to wait for Lorelai.  Their destiny remains to be years off but he’ll be there when Rory needs him most.

 

Kirk

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        Did we think that Kirk would be a major player in the new series?  I think we all assumed he would be there to provide the weird comic relief we have come to know and love but I’m not sure we thought he would carry the heart of Stars Hollow.  The more I thought about it, the more I think Kirk IS Stars Hollow.  We love all the quirky characters but non epitomize the strangeness and endearing qualities better than Kirk.  He is at the center of every town event we know and love.  While many towns have similar activities, it’s Kirk that makes them memorable in Stars Hollow.  New Inn opening?  Normal.  Naked Kirk having night terrors and being tackled by local diner owner?  Stars Hollow.  Easter egg hunt in town square?  Normal.  Not making an egg map and making the town smell like rotten eggs?  Stars Hollow.  Buying a house?  Normal.  Being outbid by a guy who somehow works at every store in town?   Stars Hollow.  The list is overwhelming and only goes to prove my point.  And while many of the reasons we remember him is because of his screw-ups the one time we, as fans, needed him most to provide the perfect wedding for Luke & Lorelai he came through with shining colors.

Emily

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        What a road we have been down with Emily.  Just like Lorelai, we have laughed with her one minute and wanted to smack her smug face the next.  What an amazing character and incredibly brought to life by Kelly Bishop.  Relationships to mothers can tend to be complicated.  Much of who we are is really shaped by that person so it’s no wonder Emily stands at the center of Lorelai’s complicated life.

Like her or not, it was gut wrenching to see her mourn the loss of her husband after spending the majority of her life as his partner.  The brilliance Amy Sherman-Palladino took to give her a full year to grieve was amazing.  So often, a grieving spouse “finds themselves” and move on after a brief montage featuring Sarah McLachlan.  Real grief takes time and the year provided in this narrative allows us to see how that unfolds.

The thing I think I appreciate the most about Emily’s storyline was the subtle way in which she slowly starts building a family around herself.  While she doesn’t stand as the mother, she does stand at the center as the provider and caretaker which is what I think she craved for so many years with Lorelai.  While Lorelai never needed someone to take care of her, this new family does.

What I wanted most out of the series (perhaps tied with Luke & Lorelai marrying) was a reconciliation with Emily and her daughter.  There was such bitterness and heartache in that relationship that affected both of them to their cores.  The fight in the kitchen in “Winter” was the pinnacle of these hurt feelings that were only brought out by the grief they both felt by Richard’s death.  Nasty words were spoken and barring the relationship that Rory helped mend, could have been the end of their relationship completely.  While unpleasant, it did finally show what Emily really feared most.  That her daughter would only remember the nasty parts about her and especially her husband.  Whatever you think about either her or Richard, they did love each other dearly and to think that your only daughter has contempt for him would hurt deeper than Lorelai probably understands.

Luckily we do get to see that relationship begin to heal more than it has before.  While there was no hugging and crying of “I love you” we did get to see bridges being mended.  I’m going to borrow a chunk from Lorelai’s section and say that she deserves several acting accolades for her performance on the phone with Emily.  For Emily to hear how much Richard meant to Lorelai despite the decades of hurt and disappointment meant the beginning of a new and happier chapter for the mother daughter combo.

To see Emily, at the end of “Fall” finding peace being her own person was more satisfying than I thought it would be.  She was one person with Richard but now found herself in a new, unexpected life that brought her joy.  Her kissing Richard’s portrait at the end still shows echoes of pain but being surrounded by a new family bodes well for her new future.

Rory

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        Oh Rory.  I go back and forth on the moments when I like you and when I think it might have been better for the show to be “Gilmore Girl.”  Overall, I do enjoy her character and what she brought to the show and the characters around her.  There is something to be admired with someone as tenacious and driven as she (mostly) is.

The biggest complaint that I hear from people I talk to about the new series is how disappointed they were with Rory.  Honestly, her storyline didn’t bother nor surprise me.  I have always felt that Rory has been taken care of her entire life.  It was rare for her to take a risk without there being a safety net close beneath her.  While I don’t think that this diminishes her accomplishments, I do think that it set her up for disappointment in the future.

Sure, she grew up poor, lived in a shed, and evidently was left in a bucket somewhere.  But she was always provided for.  I don’t think there was a moment in her life that she was left wanting for anything.  This contrasts deeply with Lorelai’s life where she struggled to earn everything she wanted.  Yes, she could have had the life of being provided for but she chose to turn away from that in order to achieve it for herself.  This is something that Rory lacked and probably was the cause of much of her disappointment with life.

Was I upset she was with an engaged Logan?  Oh yes.  Was I surprised?  No.  Rory was always one who fell back to her ways that made her feel better about herself (no matter the cost).  In this way, she was a lot like Lorelai (can we count the number of Christopher slip-ups?).  Did it matter to her that Logan was engaged?  No.  She was pretty clear when she slept with Dean that she could justify those morals away.  She felt they were supposed to be together so they were together.  She felt something for Logan and probably did the same thing.

I’m just going to say this to get it out there.  I never believed Rory as a journalist.  I believed her as an avid traveler anxious to see the world, a personable and relatable person, and an excellent writer.  I did not, however, see her as a gritty newshound jotting down notes in an alleyway, taking cover behind a brick wall in Bagdad journalist which she claimed she wanted to be.  Which begs the question, was Mitcham (Trump) right about her?  It’s a bit sickening to agree with the man but, did he have a point?  It’s worth thinking about.  This isn’t to say she couldn’t make an amazing editor or author but hard hitting journalism seems a bit out of her reach.

The one thing that has me looking forward to her character is this cross-road she finds herself in.  We all have moments in our lives when we start to become to person we were meant to.  For Lorelai, it was the minute that stick turned pink.  I am hoping for the same from Rory and I think we already saw a glimpse of that.  The focus she started taking in her life.  The refusal to be part of Logan’s life or accept his charity.  The acceptance of her situation and the calmness to move forward all indicates she is on the path to find her own way in life.  I look forward to her becoming who she is and what this child will help turn her into.  Though the ups and downs, she really is a good kid.

Luke

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        I almost saved Luke for last but I just couldn’t.  I believe Gilmore Girls to be Lorelai’s story and not saving her for last would feel wrong.  I did, however, put him ahead of Rory and here is why.  Luke is the heart and soul of this show.  Despite the few screw ups he has made in the series, he is the rock that the show relies on to be consistently solid.

While the Gilmore Girls are having their crisis we have Luke at the center just being Luke.  From the first scene of the show his situation hasn’t changed much.  Aside from knocking down a wall and changing his menu, his professional life remains the same.  An outsider would see his relationship status as normal and nothing remarkable.

But, that is what makes Luke an incredible character.  He is so happy with his life that he doesn’t want any of it to change so long as he has Lorelai.  He even says that he will do anything she wants; be anything he wants him to be so long as it meant she was by his side.  That is a guy worth writing about.  Remarkable not by his position but by what he means to everyone around him.  A guy who accomplishes more by making cheeseburgers and pancakes than any trust fund kid did with their money.

Every story needs an anchor to attach itself to and Luke is that anchor in Gilmore Girls.

Lorelai

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        It’s funny to think that Alexis Bledel was the same age in this story as Lauren Graham was when she first started filming.  May we all live to be that good looking when we approach 50.  Lorelai is also another character that sometimes deserves to be screamed at.  As much as we love the quick paced rants referencing about 37 things I have to look up later, she has her own flaws that prove infuriating.

Why she continues to always find herself asking what more she needs out life I’m not sure I’ll fully understand.  It always feels like she keeps reaching for this goal that is never there.  It’s the “something more” that always gets her in trouble professionally and especially in her relationships.  I kind of like to think it was always there because there was a gaping hole in her life left by a disconnect from her parents.  So much of her identity had been centered on her finding her own way with a new child that she didn’t realize what she was leaving behind.  While the decision to leave might have been the right one, cutting off that relationship did more damage than good in the long run.  While her parents may never have understood her, they could have loved her in the only way they knew how.

This doesn’t mean I am siding with Richard & Emily nor admitting their way was best.  They have the corner in manipulation and pulling strings when needed.  Ideally, the therapy sessions could have come a lot sooner but, then again, who would’ve shown up to them?

Lorelai’s journey of self-discovery was a great one.  Sometimes we all think we have to go on this great journey in order to figure things out.  In reality, it’s usually just a moment of clarity that we need in order to put our lives on the right course.  No one comes back from a trip a different person.  As wonderful as we might feel, there is still the moment of coming home that we have to face when making changes.  I think they demonstrated this beautifully.

Honestly, I think we found Lorelai in a great place in her life.  Grief did follow her but it set her up for the change she needed to take the next step in her life.  That’s all I think we needed to see from Lorelai.  She had already achieved so much that we didn’t need to see a new character, just one that was moving in the right direction.  Seeing her realize that she and Luke would be better married is that step.  Luke bends over backwards to make her happy and this was a major thing that he wanted but probably never vocalized because he thought she was happy the way things were.  But really, the decision to get married wasn’t for one of them, it was for both.  That’s the direction we see them going in.  Not making decisions for themselves, but together.  And that’s all I could have ever hoped to see in this revival.

The Last 4 Words

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        Much has been said about these words and I think everyone knows where they stand with them.  For me, I love ending stories with a new beginning.  There is no such thing as an “ending.”  There’s where we stop reading or watching but we never really stop thinking about that story (at least the good ones).  Rory being pregnant is the next chapter, the next beginning.  I think it’s beautiful in its own way.  Like I said, this is Rory’s turning point that will form her into the person she is hoping to be and the person Lorelai hope she raised.  The only thing I would have changed (that’s the only time I used that word) would have been the way it was filmed.  The abrupt cut to black was a bit jarring.  I would have, instead, opted for Lorelai to adopt her wide-eyed lips pursed look of acceptance, pull Rory into a head on shoulder hug as the camera pulled away gradually over the town as it faded to black with a slow rendition of the theme song playing in the background.  I think they would have eased us all into processing the information and what it means for the future.

As I stated in the beginning, what matters most is what the writer wanted to tell.  Trying to please an audience is a dangerous game and what results in not one but two National Treasure movies.  At the end of the day we have to be satisfied that Amy Sherman Palladino was able to finish the story she wanted to tell and that we were able to join in on the ride together.

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The alley

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It was the rain that woke him.  Splats and splutters of water rolled down his cheeks and onto his lips.  He spat the acrid taste from his mouth.  This was not the rain of rolling meadows or far-off forests.  No.  This was downtown city rain.  Maybe, thousands of feet above his head, the water was once pure but not anymore.  Just like everything else that stays too long here, it lost it’s purity and became tainted.

More rain hit his face as he sat up and pulled the collar of his overcoat over his neck.  Even the peaceful sound of rain in the city became distorted and unsettling.  Dumpsters and trashcan lids clanged and soggy plastic Chinese takeout bags squashed uncomfortably.  He grimaced at the sound and opened his eyes.  Darkness.  No one ever came down this alley.  He wasn’t sure if that was because there weren’t any lights or no one bothered to put lights in a place no one came to.  Whatever the reason, he enjoyed the dark.

It had been days since he last interacted with anyone and even then it was just a teenager skipping school to come smoke alone.  Normally he would have stayed hidden but the prospect of a cigarette was too good to pass up.  Kids are always so eager to share when they think they’ve been caught by an adult.

It was nighttime and he was getting hungry again.  He reached over to check his watch only to see that the watch and hand were missing.  He kept doing that.  Maybe one day he would get used to being without it but even several months after losing it, the habits stayed.  And though he kept telling himself to move on, he would sometimes get flashes of varying sensations in the missing hand.  Sometimes he would feel a gentle breeze, bitter cold, and sometimes the irritating pins and needles that never seem to go away fast enough.

These were the thoughts that occupied his mind as he waited.  Tingly hands and sewer rain.  He tried telling himself he didn’t mind, that it was worth it, but it was just a way to keep his mind busy and off his current situation.  Ideology never much appealed to him.  He used to have a comfortable life, and now he didn’t.  It didn’t do any good by dwelling on it.

One thing was clear.  One thing was always at the forefront of his mind and kept him in this pit night after night.  He had only overheard the story as a child from one of the nurses talking to his caseworker.  One night his mother would stumble into this alleyway in the middle of labor.  It was here, soon that he would be born.  He was here to make sure that never happened.

 

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Come home…

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There’s been a consistent theme in many movies and books that I have read lately.  It goes far deeper and specific than love but really hits on the topic of “home.”  Whether it’s the parent of a wayward child or lonely soul seeking to create a home for themselves the message is still the same.  Somewhere, near or far, there is someone either literally or figuratively calling out your name to come home.

Why does this invoke such powerful emotions within us?  Is it as simple as the basic need to feel wanted or is it more complex than that?  Surely there are places where we can “belong” but a group of friends at a coffee shop wanting us to be with them doesn’t even compare to the feeling of “coming home.”  Even the closest of friends lack an element of love that we have either felt or hope to ever feel.

What I think makes these messages so powerful is that we underestimate how much we are worth to those that truly love us.  We can’t fathom that another’s life would be literally destroyed by not having us apart of it that we reject the idea as ridiculous.  We refuse to believe that someone out there wants us and accepts us and supports us that they would consider us part of their home.  I daresay we refuse to believe we are worth it.

So when we see such efforts of characters in books or movies to try to bring home a child, sibling, or spouse we cannot help but feel that hope that resides within us all that someone out there might feel the same way about us.  Would my parents spend years sending out lanterns as a way to find your way home?  Would there always be an open seat at a dinner table if I were to show up?  Would their embrace finally make me feel like I had, at last, found my home?

Whether we are the ones looking for our home or desperately striving to bring someone back home I can only say never give up hope.  Someone wants us.  Someone’s lives aren’t complete without us.  That hope and love can carry with us whether we find it tomorrow or it takes all our lives because, in the end, what else matters?

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Warmth

 

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I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of warmth and how much of an effect it has on human beings.  I would suppose that being warm-blooded would have something to do with it but I think it’s something more than that.  Take two similar, yet opposite, examples.  The first example is being in the hot sun for several hours to finally take a deep pull from a tall glass of ice water.  The feeling is a mixture of relief and refreshment all mixed into one.  The second example is being in the freezing cold for several hours to come in and enjoy a cup of your chosen hot beverage.  The feeling is almost an overwhelming sense of comfort, almost like coming home.

I suppose the philosophers would say that there really is no such thing as cold, just the absence of heat.  But for a mere simpleton like myself, I wonder what makes the difference.  Is it just me or do all people feel the same way?  I can’t imagine that a cold bath/shower can even compare to the feeling of a hot bath/shower on a cold day.

Even in literature, I can only think of positive things the word “warm” infers.  Warm hugs.  House warming.  Warm someone over.  Even the word warm means friendly, inviting, welcoming.  Cold shoulder.  Stone cold.  Cold feet.  As a personality trait it means you’re unwelcoming, dismissive, cruel.

Why?  Surely cold has its merits but I think it comes down to comfort vs. relief.  We all need to be relieved at moments in our lives figuratively and literally but wouldn’t we all choose comfort over relief?  Just asking the question that probably has no real answer.

 

 

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Blank Page…

 

Knights have their dragons, superheroes have their super villains, man has their mountains, and writers have their blank pages. In many ways the blank page can be even more intimidating than the deadliest foe. While dragons, villains, and mountains have their unique tools of dimg_0120estruction at their disposal they have one thing that leave them utterly unworthy to compare themselves to the blank page. They exist. Give a writer a prompt, a picture, or a splatter of coffee and it can send them racing with poems, prose, narratives, and novels! But a blank page? To pull from existence something that never was before? This is where Galahad falls short to his creator Tennyson, Batman to Bob Kane, and Edmund Hilary to sherpa Tenzing? These are the masters who deserve our biggest accolades. They dared to bring words that never existed before and give them life.

I salute anyone who accomplishes this. Does that mean all written works are works of art or genius? Heavens no. Does that mean I think anything I write should be published, treasured, and taught in high schools for hundreds of years? Yikes. My point is that I think we are too harsh to judge authors too quickly. They did a HARD thing and even though we may not like it or identify with it doesn’t give us the right to tear it apart.

But what about those truly appalling books that make us cringe even to see them on the bookshelves? Let us not judge the authors for having a voice, for everyone deserves that, let us instead lay blame with the editors and publishers who let it get published. For their’s is the more truly heinous crime by far.

So join with me in celebrating the defeat of the blank page. Without such support some of the greatest pieces of literature would never have been created. Celebrate, adore, and cherish the brilliant pieces out there who deserve our attention. As for the petulant authors who have defeated their blank page only to give us rubbish, let us give them the worst thing any author could be punished with, our silence.

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The ‘hard’ is what makes it great

 

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I love writing. I do. A simple look at the number of posts on this blog and their frequency might lead you to believe otherwise but it is true. I still marvel at the fact that 26 goofy little symbols can give voice to an infinite amount of songs, poems, blogs, texts, emails, and stories. Obviously it’s the ones who master the arrangement of these letters that we praise and continue to read but even in its most amateur form, writing is still a powerful and miraculous tool.

I have a writer friend, whose skills at writing far surpass my own, and I find myself in awe and slightly jealous at her tenacity and passion for the craft. She is always either writing, talking about writing, thinking about writing, or reading something that inspires her writing. I think she’s fearless in terms of what she expects of herself and the stories she knows are within her bursting to come out. So, what prevents me from being like this? Nothing. Honestly. I don’t say that to belittle her efforts or to diminish her passion for writing in any way. I say it because I know the same passion resides within me as well (notice I said passion and not necessarily “talent”). There is a quote that I will look up after I finish writing this entry that says something to the effect of “No one knows more pain than a writer whose story yet unwritten.” I feel that all the time. That’s not to say I have To Kill A Mockingbird or The Old Man & the Sea hiding out somewhere but I do have stories of my own that need to be shared.

What stops me? Maybe I’m not alone in this. There are two big reasons. 1) The overwhelming feeling that no one cares to read what I write. Sometimes I go to sit down and the only things popping into my head seem either so random or mundane that I don’t think anyone but me (and sometimes not even me) would want to read it. 2) I feel like everything I write has to be “final edit ready” and not “first draft delete everything but two sentences” writing.

Both reasons are complete and utter rubbish. I know this and yet it still prevents me from carrying on at the rate that I know I should. Not that I believe everyone wants to read what I write but, rather, practicing writing more and more is what makes you a better writer as well as gives you the motivation and confidence to do better things.

So, here’s to many more blog entries that are selfishly more for my sake than for the anonymous of you out there that may or may not be reading this. Cheers.

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What if writing were like football?

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I often find that I get approached by strangers (98% men) who start talking to me like we were already in the middle of a conversation…a conversation about football. These conversations often start with something like, “Can you believe those calls they made last night?” or “How do you think (insert guy’s name I wouldn’t recognize anyway here)’s injury will affect the rest ofthe season for (insert team name that I thought was actually in a different city)?” Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I am not an elitist who thinks organized sports are beneath him nor am I that kid who played with dolls instead of footballs growing up. I can sit down and watch most sporting events and know 90% of what is going on (that is unless they changed the rules since the last time I watched). I’m not even one of those people that despises sports because the players get paid too much, blah blah blah, who are our kids looking up to, etc etc etc. No, the reason for my disinterest in watching football results from the format in which it is presented. To demonstrate this I would like to write you a story in the format in which football is presented:

Swirling mist rolled around the frost bitten earth. Its tendrils stretched across the graveyard reaching each tombstone, crypt, and monument with ease. The air hung heavy with the familiar but uninviting smell of decay. Autumn was in its final days and winter was soon to be at hand. Leaves, sodden with rain, piled themselves in every corner of the graveyard. Fallen branches from storms long since past laid carelessly across two hundred year old headstones.
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*The author has called for a time out as he does not know what to write next…*
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This was a graveyard that time had forgotten. Friends and family members who came to lay flowers on these graves now had graves of their own. So it was a curious thing when Ridgewell Brimble was called to supervise the burial of an unnamed individual nearly 73 kilometers from his home in Bristol. He politely accepted his new assignment willingly eager to enjoy a weekend away from the habits of his daily life.
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*Are you satisfied with your car insurance/phone plan/health care services?*
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The journey to Crintley Hollow was uneventful until the last 3 km. Ridgewell was flagged down by an elderly woman who looked as though she were in distress. He rolled down his window, “Can I help you Mum?” he said as he approached the woman. “I was just walking down the road ‘ere when I sees you coming straight at me and I gets to thinking. ‘What’s a nice lad doing coming down this road ‘ere for?” “Well, mum, I have a job just near here that I am here to supervise.”
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In other book updates, Juliet is still dead……..Aslan just rose from the stone table…..and more about the Potter kid and his horcruxes as soon as this story finishes.
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Let’s take a moment here and really analyze what has happened. Now if I slow down the last few sentences you will see there are multiple references that this story may be taking place in England. Notice here, here and here the author has clearly made several spelling and grammatical errors. Not a wise move on his part, we’ll just see how this pans out with the critics. Yes, we are now getting several Twitter feeds. @bookandcatlover says “you talk a big game but clearly you are not delivering” while @bella4ever says, “I’ve seen fewer elipses in a game of pac-man.” Clearly the author has had a rough start but we’ll see if he can deliver in the next chapter.
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Is it over? Wait, who was the main character? I think there was a story but I forget how it started. Can you remind me? Oh, screw it….I’ll just catch the highlights tonight on the news.

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All of us are readers

20130923-225607I can definitely say  that books were my earliest chosen passion. Yes, I had sat in wonder at the childhood movies that were shown to me but I didn’t actively seek them out and appreciate them for what they would later become to me. Books were my way of “seeing” the world in ways I hadn’t expected. I had just assumed that every other little kid in the world was just like me and had all the things I had, ate the same food, wore the same clothes, and their biggest problem in life was convincing mom and dad of just how much you needed a gameboy you didn’t have to share with siblings. Imagine my shock and surprise when I came across characters who had to deal with war, death, and starvation. Those were things that grownups had to sort through. Pretty soon I became aware just how different I was to not just children in stories but to children I played with everyday. I remember looking at my friends differently and wondering what sort of things they might make them different than me. That’s why I think some of the kindest and most empathetic people are readers. Because that’s what reading does…it takes you away from yourself and allows you to see another person so much more clearly.

This is why I read. My habits wane from time to time with “life” getting in the way but at my core I am a reader because I know what it does for me. Educational specialists will rattle off statistics about what daily reading will do for a child’s intelligence and I whole heartedly agree with it. Habitually reading every night will drastically improve scores in almost every area in a student’s life. However, this is not why I push the importance of reading so heavily in my classroom. I do it because reading opens up your eyes, mind, and most importantly hearts to different kinds of people and the problems they deal with. Prejudice, hatred, and racism all stem from ignorance. This ignorance is oft times willfully chosen but in other cases it’s merely a lack of proper education. Reading is the biggest weapon we have to fight against such things. How can anyone in elementary school read books like Loser, There’s A Boy In the Girl’s Bathroom, or Freak the Mighty and not feel something toward someone you might have judged too harshly at first? Perhaps that’s why I love children’s literature so much. This is where it all starts. I think these stories are just as much for adults as they are for children too. I don’t consider myself and overly emotional individual but I have found myself near tears when reading a book aloud to my class and they are so intent on the story and the character that we all experience their joys and sorrows together. It’s powerful stuff.

Ok, off my teaching soapbox about reading. My last thought before I close this blog for the night is why I am a book collector. Every time I move I genuinely have the urge to go chuck all of my books in the nearest dumpster. They have stayed with us these last 8 moves and they are so HEAVY. Then I remind myself it would be just as easy to throw one of my closest friends in a dumpster. I don’t collect them because they look good on shelves (which they do) and what else are you going to put on a bookshelf (the name is a dead giveaway moron). I keep and collect them because many of them have shaped who I am. Some books speak just to you when you need them to do so. And once they have helped shape who you are imagine what they can do for you AGAIN after time has passed and you are approaching it again as a different person? The quote that is the running theme in this blog “No two persons ever read the same book.” especially extends its meaning to “No person reads the same book twice.” Each time we re-read a book we have just that much more life experience and perspective to change it into something new. It’s a beautiful concept and a great reason to use those margins for good notes. This is why I carry dozens of hundred pound boxes each new place that I move. just be sure that if you borrow a book of mine I might smile and say to bring it back “whenever” I will be counting down the days until you bring it back to me in one piece.

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We write because we are

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It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that the only articles the public read were in the New York Times, Washington Post, or at the very least the Reader’s Digest.  Nowadays there are blogs without number about anything from actual news to whatever they print on Buzzfeed (he ironically types into a blog of his own creation).

While the sudden influx of writings has recently overwhelmed the internet, I don’t believe it’s because we find ourselves in a rare moment of history where a plethora of writers have emerged.  Sure, there are some cases in which these writers are doing so because they are paid for it but I am convinced that percentage is minute.  The woman typing about how she is achieving the perfect shade of orange on her carrots, the man posting about his 107th ride on Space Mountain, and the child reviewing the latest app they downloaded all have the same thing in common: the desire to be heard.

Isn’t that why the majority of authors write?  Whether it’s the need for someone to hear your pain, happiness, fantasy of adventure, longing for love, or even just a shared laugh over a boy having adventures with his pet tiger.  There’s a deep desire in all of us to share some part of this human existence together.  I do find it ironic that even the loneliest and standoffish people are the ones who seem to do the most writing.  There’s probably an element from our teenage years that stays with some people longer than it should.  The belief that they are the only ones who really feel or are so unique that they could not begin to be understood.

That’s the beauty in writing though.  It’s the ability to connect (or attempt to at least) with another human being.  It’s one thing to have someone “like” a Facebook or Instagram post, but these are friends, family, and some guy you met getting a Slurpee at 3 am every weekend in high school that one time.  It’s another thing altogether when you get a notification that a complete stranger has liked your blog post.  Sometimes it’s 15+ and sometimes it’s only one.  But each time it feels as though you’ve made a personal connection to someone having a similar experience in life as you…and that’s pretty amazing.  I can’t imagine what authors who are long dead must feel like to know that they are still having the same effect on people that weren’t born in the same time, same country, speak the same language, or the multitude of other barriers that sometimes feel like they separate us.

That’s why I write.  That’s while I’ll continue to write.  Whether it’s to connect to one, to many, or just to reach out and offer a hand and share something about this life that we are all just trying to figure out.

**Author’s Note**  None of this applies to you James Patterson.  I think you’re an invention like Santa Claus made up by publishing companies.

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