throwback thursday

In the words of Paul Revere: Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming!

We have a tradition in the Miller home of (the kids) taking turns to pick out the Christmas tree. I picked this year’s. It’s gorgeous. The last time I picked a tree was seven years ago (which makes me think my turn was skipped or I’m a liar and picked another one in there). Anyway, the last tree I picked was a thing to behold. A beast. A beaut. A symbol of the magnitude of joy Christmas contains.

(My dad is 6’1″ by the way.)

bigtree

Oh, and if you want to know what to get me film lovers for Christmas, this short gift guide might help you out: LYDIA.

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five stages of flying

For being a child born during George H. W. Bush’s presidency, I began the plane-taking journey rather late in life. I flew for the first time when I was fourteen and didn’t go again until I was over twenty. This caused some personal misconceptions that I have slowly unraveled over time, revealing the truth about flying, the ugly, disgusting, beautiful truth. Using the Kübler-Ross model, I give you the five stages of flying:

1. Denial

I’m not really flying, no. Those aren’t actually homes. That’s the Peter Pan set from Disney World.  Trust me, I’ve been there.

This lasts until that woozy feeling you get when the plane dips a little, making it seem like you’re on a roller coaster for about 0.4 seconds. Then you realize you are on a plane that’s up in the air, and you didn’t really listen to the flight attendants’ instructions, did you?

2. Anger

So anger didn’t really come until I was twenty.  (This is a surprise when we consider that I was stuck in an airport for three days during my first plane trip. However, when you’re fourteen and going on your first plane trip, you’re never really stuck anywhere.)

At twenty, I had a glamorous view of life in the air.  Last time I flew, I had matching capris and tennies. This time though. This time I would fly in style. I’d probably be asked to model the plane, I’d be so beautiful. (I don’t think I understood that planes are different than designer clothes.) I dressed up, complete with heeled shoes that were difficult to get on and off in security (and therefore made everyone hate me).

I boarded the plane, and no one else dressed up. No one would ever be dressed up. In fact, the lady walking through the airport in heels is a beacon of inexperience blinking at anyone who looks at her feet.

Why aren’t people dressed up?  Why isn’t flying this glamorous thing?  Anger.  So much anger.

3. Bargaining

Okay, okay. So the dressing up thing didn’t work out.

How about I just meet someone really great on the plane, huh? Like, obviously he’ll be my soulmate and we’ll live happily ever after, and I’ll never mention the dressing up thing again.

Be careful with this stage. This is how you end up making a birthday card out of a barf bag for a semi-cute, semi-smart, full-on-socially-awkward young man that you will (hopefully) never meet again in your life. True story.

(I should mention that some people really do fall in love on planes. Jill says so, and I believe her wholeheartedly. Yet, I have to let this stage go. I just have to, or I will know too much about the correct way to fold a barf bag.)

4. Depression

This happens when you’ve full-on given up on flying.

For the longest time I had the incredible ability to wait just long enough for everyone in my row to be seated for takeoff before I fell asleep for the ENTIRE flight.  It was a thing to behold.

I wore sweatpants and mismatched socks (if any socks), and I didn’t shower beforehand. Sometimes I’d bring massive amounts of smelly food to eat (because the whole cabin was going to smell terrible soon enough), and I didn’t even bother trying to say “hello” to the people next to me.

It was kind of a sad stage, really.

5. Acceptance

This is the healthy stage of flying (I think). This is where I’m finally at.

In this stage, you make chit-chat with the individuals around you, but you aren’t offended when they don’t want to talk (and you don’t go overboard and make them a barf bag card when they do).

In this stage you do a lot of reading on planes. You do a lot of laughing and crying on planes. I read Hoosier John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars on a plane. Yikes. Talk about giggling hysterically and then sobbing hysterically as I was literally 🙂 wedged between two strangers. But that’s okay because that’s flying.

That putrid smell wafting through? That’s flying, too. So are the delays. So are the missing bags. So are the incredibly intimate moments of falling in love with a book while strangers surround you. That’s flying. Heck, that’s life. And in three hours, you’ll be home, and that’s magical.

big sur adventure

Last weekend was an adventure. Okay, okay, every weekend is an adventure, but last weekend was a really BIG, SURreal adventure.  See what I did there?

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to go to a super sweet writer’s conference in Big Sur.  The experience was magical and whimsical and cold and full of laughs and packed with complete freakouts.

Let me break it down for you.

Friday

Jill drives us from Malibu to Big Sur.  We pass a zebra farm (with an ocean view).  Why not?

photo(11)

We get ready in the bathroom of the lodge’s lobby because our room isn’t ready yet. Great.

At the first workshop, my work is torn to shreds.  Overall response: “Cute idea, but terrible execution.”

I sulk.

I attempt to start a fire.  Please see Jill’s post for The Rest of The Story.  (Paul Harvey, I love you!)

I rewrite my first ten pages starting from scratch.

Saturday

Printing issues.  “Just tell him to bring my laptop to the airport. I’m going home.”  I never thought I was this dramatic.

I remember that the world is a magical place full of redwood trees.

photo(10)

I go back to workshop, and my new pages are well-received.  Overall response: “Always write like this.” Will do.

So much coffee.  Not enough water.

I am on top of the world, and so is the entirety of FAC (First Authors Club).  We sing ROAR with more passion than anyone ever singing a Katy Perry song should.

We eat giant burgers really fast.  “My stomach. I don’t know what’s happening in there.”

Sunday

Bathroom issues.

“Jill, I want to be honest with you. I went to the bathroom. Some things happened. I opened a window.”

20 mins later in the lobby.

Me: “I wouldn’t use the left stall if I were you. Terrible things have occurred.”

Jill: “Was it you again?”

I find out the secret to perfect eyebrows. I will not share this information. wahahaha

FAC shares big (sur) hugs.  So many Big Sur puns out there…

We kick off the drive back with 30 minutes of laughing, screaming, and singing loudly.  It’s a total manic blackout.  I’m just happy we survived.

Overall Experience

I’m so thankful to have Jill and Katie, two brilliant, amazing writers and friends.  I’m so thankful that I write and that what I write has a place in the world.  I’m so thankful I went to Big Sur.

Oh, and I’m so thankful for you… and zebra farms.

everybody farts

Hello!!! Shout out to December for arriving on time!

This fine evening I was able to attend FLAF, or Pepperdine’s Fall Literary Arts Festival, put on by my screenwriting program.  I know this is all fascinating to you.

Anywho, at this blessed event, I read an essay, and I thought I’d share it with you.  Keep in mind that in reading something out loud, grammar and sentence structure seem inconsequential to me. Here is Everybody Farts:

 

 

I remember the first time I heard the word, “fart.”

I was seven and at a family picnic thrown by dad’s department.  Dad worked in a lab that developed drugs to treat Alzheimer’s and studied their effects on rat brains.

So it was quite the picnic full of nerds.

 

Despite the opening line of this essay, my parents raised us not to talk about things like flatulence.  If the subject had to be broached at all, we were to call it “bottom burping.”

 

It was quite the shock for my entire family and myself when one child at the picnic let out the loudest, longest toot I had ever heard.  It sounded something like this: “FLAAAAAAAAF.”

 

My entire family stood still.  How could this kid do something soooo private in front of everyone?  I mean, this was a drawn-out, no shame fart.

My brothers erupted into a fit of giggles.  I didn’t because- as any of my peers and teachers can tell you- I never get the giggles.

 

The fart boy’s father was a pompous Englishman.  When he saw how embarrassed my entire family was at the enormity of noise his son’s bowels made, he looked at us, shrugged, and said, “Ehverybahdy fahhhhts.”  [This was my way of typing an English accent.  Must get better at that. For the record, the phrase always needs to be said in an English accent.]

 

Everybody farts then became the catch phrase of the Miller family.  All of the sudden it was acceptable to say fart as long as you did so in an English accent.

When the Millers took a road trip and one of the boys (or girls) let one rip—it was okay, because “everybody farts.”

 

And these moments of repeating the phrase, of smelling the stink, made us laugh.  They made us comfortable, and even in a family, they made us closer.  I think this applies to the world.

 

I became best friends over a fart.   Theirs.

I’ve lost friends over a fart.  Mine.

And I suspect that someday I will fall in love over a single, spectacular fart.

 

There are a lot of places that it’s not okay to fart.  Churches, schools, funerals, airplanes- although there’s always one- FLAF.  Places where we are expected to sit still, be quiet, and try not to make eye contact with the person next to us.  Instead, we are almost encouraged to focus on ourselves, to focus on being quiet and flatulence free.

These moments of silence and clean air are the moments when we fail.  We fail to talk to the old woman sitting next to us who can’t wait to tell us about her newest grandchild and his toots or the person who just wants to share a joke at the check-out counter or your new best friend or the weirdo you need to stay away from.

 

These people are all around us, and they’re exactly why we’re here.  1 Peter 4:10-11 says,

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”

 

My farts are a gift!  A glory to God!  So what keeps us from sharing our gifts?  Is it fear?  Fear of failure or judgment or that the person next to us is a weirdo?  Fear of our gifts not being big enough or smelly enough?

 

The fear applies to words, too, not just toots. That fear stops us from talking.  We hold onto our words like we hold onto our farts.  We swallow them.  And they gurgle painfully inside of us.

Because we weren’t meant to keep them in.  We were made to let them out.  All of our gifts.  Even when it’s a fart.

 

I want to know you.  I want to know your gifts and what your farts smell like.  Even when I don’t think I want to.  Even when I don’t like you.  I want the gurgling inside of you to come out.  And I want that for me too.

I believe if we let go of that fear, we might find more friends, we might have more farts and laughs and love, we might find that we’re a bit more a like than we thought.  After all, everybody farts.