Something Good

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Me: Ardmore!!! Oh, Ardmore!

Ardmore: …

Me: Ardmore, I went to see The Sound of Music at the Hollywood Bowl and I wore suspenders and sang with everything I had and laughed and ate popcorn and realized that Christopher Plummer should only wear grey suits for the rest of his life.

Ardmore: I preferred the brown.

Me: Really? 

Ardmore: I see your point.

Me: And there were cowbells and a little girl dressed as a bed!

Ardmore: Come again?

Me: It was so cute. And Edelweiss. Edelweiss, Ardy! Edelweiss always.

Ardmore: *mumbles*

Me: What?

Ardmore: Oh, I was just writing down: “patient in manic state.”

Me: IT WAS MUSICAL MANIA. THIS IS WHAT HAPPINESS LOOKS LIKE.

Ardmore: It looks like suspenders?

Me: I was working those suspenders. And there were nuns and kids.

Ardmore: Nuns and Kids. That’s a band name.

Me: Ardmore, do you even know what bands are?

Ardmore: I know everything.

Me: Oh, but you don’t know the sound of an entire stadium booing Nazis.

Ardmore: …

Me: Ardmore? Ardy? Aaaaardmooooore?

Happy Father’s Day!

When I was nine, we took a three-week road trip out west. We packed everything into our white suburban the night before we left, got our journals ready, and brushed up on our history. Everyone was beyond excited, including our captain, Dad. This was going to be the trip of our lives!

Early in the morning, we climbed into the car. Thad and myself jammed in the very back seat (probably so that mom wouldn’t have me talking in her ear the whole time), and left for the open road. About ten seconds later, Dad ran over our cat.

Dad, I really loved that cat, but I love you more. I love that you’re basically Ron Swanson, but with a manlier laugh and an even greater respect for the Constitution. I also love that you felt so bad about killing Grease Lightning, “Grease” for short. I’m thankful for you and the crazy-great stories you’ve given me. Love you! Happy Father’s Day!

 

Dad and me

This Week

I defended my master’s thesis in front of people I really respect. Of course I questioned importance of Kermit the Frog as both a cultural and story leader.

Ten minutes before I left my house for that thesis defense, I got a job! A real job!

Five minutes after my thesis I sobbed on the phone with my mom about how great life is. It wasn’t just a bit either. I was honestly quite worried about making it down the Pepperdine mountainside without vision.

I witnessed a miracle. More on this during my next post.

I went to the beach, the pool, the beach, and the pool. (And have the uneven tan lines to prove it!)

I went on a successful run (as well as two other unsuccessful ones). Yes, it was a short run, but I was fast having a blast vomiting running.

I tried to pour wine with the cap still on. (I had not consumed any wine at this point.)

I contributed approximately one and a half answers during an entire trivia night, surprising myself and others with my informational prowess. Be afraid, Trebek. Be very afraid.

I ate a quarter of a watermelon.

I laughed and laughed and laughed.

I played with eyebrow gel for the first time.

This was a week to remember (perhaps solely because of the eyebrow gel).

watermelon eater

libraries: a love-hate relationship

When I was in junior high, I would sometimes walk to the public library after school. I was terribly productive there, and I could avoid the bus by waiting for my mom to finish work. Yes, the bus was that bad, like playing-Nickelback-the-whole-ride-home bad.

The library was a discovery of resources. A whole building full of books?! Why haven’t we been coming here every day? I often think this each time I step into a library.

But the Millers are what you might call… forgetful, and this doesn’t mix well with things like “due dates” and “late fees.”

They pass. We forget. We stay away from the library, avoiding large fees and the librarian’s stink eye. We let time go by. The librarian retires. We go back. We realize (again) how cool libraries are. We check-out. We think we can do it this time.

(Maybe I’m being too harsh with the use of “we” here. I’m sure someone in our family is capable of returning things on time, but I am not that someone.)

Our “this time” fails. It’s a brutal, ugly cycle. In fact, a certain brother can’t even go back to that library anymore. (Something about a $30 fee that’s gaining interest.)

But back on track. In middle school, I was (again) in the discovery stage, and the public library was (again) a magical place.

In this glorious building, I fell in love with a boy: Jehu. He had a scar on his cheek and never apologized for being himself. He was a sailor with tanned skin and blue eyes.

Okay, okay, Jehu is from a book, but not just any book. Jehu is from Jennifer L. Holm’s Boston Jane.

Boston Jane isn’t really about Jehu.

Guess who it’s about? Yes, Jane.

Guess where Jane is from? Yes, Philadelphia. Wait…

Boston Jane is great. Trust me. Here’s why:

e.e. cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” That’s what Boston Jane is about: finding that courage to be true to yourself.

Convinced? No?

How about this quote that’s actually from Boston Jane: The Claim (last in the trilogy): “This, I thought, was true love. Someone who made you happy without saying a word.”

Awwww. Just read it, okay? Good.

Now, if twitter had existed in middle school, I would have been showing off this Jennifer Holm re-tweet like nobody’s business. But since I’m older, I’ll just SHOW OFF THIS JENNIFER HOLM RE-TWEET LIKE NOBODY’S BUSINESS (in capital letters).

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being brave

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My favorite moment in A Wrinkle In Time is right before Meg Murry leaves to face the nefarious IT and rescue her little brother. Meg, the protagonist, basically spends the entire book being pulled into these massively scary and complicated situations that she doesn’t understand because unlike her five year old brother, Meg isn’t a genius. After finally finding her father, Meg just wants to return to being a child, but she can’t. She is the only one who can rescue her brother, so instead, she has to say goodbye:

“At last she turned to her father. ‘I’m-I’m sorry, Father.’

He took both of her hands in his… ‘Sorry for what, Megatron?’

Tears almost came to her eyes at the gentle use of the old nickname. ‘I wanted you to do it all for me. I wanted everything to be all easy and simple… So I tried to pretend that it was all your fault… because I was scared, and I didn’t want to have to do anything myself-‘

‘But I wanted to do it for you,’ Mr. Murry said. ‘That’s what every parent wants… I won’t let you go, Meg. I am going.’

‘No.’ Mrs. Whatsit’s voice was sterner than Meg had ever heard it. ‘You are going to allow Meg the privilege of accepting this danger. You are a wise man, Mr. Murry. You are going to let her go.’

Mr. Murry sighed. He drew Meg close to him. ‘Little Megaparsec. Don’t be afraid to be afraid. We will try to have courage for you. That is all we can do…'”

We can’t really go back to being kids, and it’s not easy growing up. Meg can’t go back, as much as she wants her dad to take care of her and make it all better.

As much as her dad wants that, too: “That’s what every parent wants.” And it’s the scariest thing I can imagine to allow this kid you hope you didn’t mess up to go out into the world, to send them to stand up against the very real IT. But it’s a privilege to let them leave, to let them be brave.

There are lots of days when I am not brave, and I want to go home.

Sometimes, I want to go to my physical house. Most times, though, I want to go to a home in a different time. I want to go to the very back seat of a white suburban, where my mom can barely hear me over the three siblings laughing beside and in front of me. I want to be forced to sit through Heather’s orchestra concert, and I want to fake being asleep on the way home so my dad will carry me up the stairs. I want Thad to grumble that I’m not rowing hard enough in the canoe. I want Rhett to ban me from his room. I want Mom to pack my lunch and put my drawings on the fridge. I want it to be easy and comfortable. I want it to be exactly as it always was.

But that’s not being brave.

Being brave isn’t something I usually attribute to myself. I don’t claim it, and yet, I can be brave. Moving to California to live by myself was certainly pretty brave. Choosing not to go to law school was brave (I think- we’ll see). Deciding that I was really going to be a writer- that was brave, too.

There’s part of me that will always long to be ten years old again, but I won’t ever be. And I’m excited about being older, about growing up. But I’m nervous, too.

I’m scared about losing people, even myself, to that big IT that never relents.

I’m scared about failing, but I’m not afraid to be afraid any more. I choose to be brave. I choose to face the danger like Meg.

Do you know how she rescues Charles Wallace and defeats IT?

Love. Love makes you brave. Love makes me brave.

my 2013 in numbers

This post is not very creative. Please see Jill’s post for confirmation of this unoriginality. Okay, 2013, here we go:

8 plane trips slept through or cried through

3 flat tires

1 popular webseries participated in as associate producer, co-star, and -let’s not forget- intern

380 phone calls to Mom

1 half marathon

45 blog posts

1 new close friend (not sure if I should be worried by or proud of this number)

38 years of marriage forgotten for half a day

25 “sorry’s” said for forgetting Mom & Dad’s anniversary

3 people who decided to rid me of my “sorry’s”

99 Parks and Rec episodes

0 new nicknames (I’m okay with that)

30 instances when answering the phone was followed by Thad saying, “What up, gurrrrrl?”

4 Universal Studios trips

1 Disneyland trip

1 Disney World trip

1 hysterical cry at Disney World shared with 2 siblings

10 new crock-pot recipes

6 new crock-pot recipes I will make again

10 uncontrollable giggle fits (approx.)

1 novel poorly written, but written nonetheless

4 scripts written

1 wedding attended (appalling low)

2 trips outside the U.S.

0 passport stamps

1 coffee addiction formed

2 instances when I told Rhett, “It’s like I’m Michael Scott talking to Michael Scott.”

4 trips to The Griddle Cafe

1 writers’ group founded

4 times I was determined to grow my hair out

3 haircuts

2 million times I’ve been thankful for my friends

3 billion times I’ve been thankful for my family

1 really good year

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.

catching fire, feel the flame

That’s an epic title, am I right?

This Thursday evening I had the profound pleasure of seeing Catching Fire, but this wasn’t just any Catching Fire experience.  This. Was. SO COOL.

I got out of class at 10.  Night class, am I right?

We get to the Chinese Theatre at 11.  We transform into mega-Hunger Games fans at approximately 11:05.  Right around here.

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Let the ridiculousness begin!  The ridiculousness was spectacular. The movie was spectacular.  Jennifer Lawrence was spectacular.

I mean, the Chinese Theatre, am I right? Okay, I’ll stop.

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The last time I went to the Chinese Theatre I saw Gravity, or in the words of Jill: “We WERE Gravity.”

This time was just as magical.  Also, seeing movies with good friends, like my Italian Rachel is magical, am I right? Last one, I swear.  Check out Rach’s silly face and Jill’s neck below. Oh, and Peeta.  That’s all.

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future dreams and liberty themes

This past summer I was able to participate in an internship program (in the film industry) run by a libertarian organization, and last night we had a dinner party for the interns and fellows of the organization in the LA area.  I’m not good at these things.  I am too excited, too happy to be there to fit in.  I should have worn glasses and brushed up on my cool facts about myself, but I didn’t do either of those things.  While others ranted on their current noble endeavors to make documentaries on prisons and refugees, I explained my desire to make a funny movie that people would go see.  While they mentioned obscure political films, I talked about Goonies and poop jokes. The further conversations went, the more I became wary of telling people I wanted to help create a movie that wasn’t solely fueled by libertarian ideals.  To be clear, I thought their ideas were awesome and told them as much, but I just wasn’t being reciprocated.  A few hours in, when strangers asked me what I wanted to do, the mantra, “just make it libertarian sounding,” entered my head.

Apparently, this worked so well that the last time I was asked about my future goals I said, “I just want to live in a cabin with lots of land where I can write.  And I, uh, I want to have a basement full of ammunition.”  After that I called it a night, and I am still mentally shaking my head at myself.

Oh, and look what I did to my phone…

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corn

Corn.  Also known as Indiana.  I am convinced that corn can do anything.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s look at the facts.

What’s delicious?  CORN!

What is a part of this country’s history?  CORN!

What can be any color depending on how long you leave it in the sun? CORN!

What can be milled to make delicious powder that mixes with eggs to make johnny cakes? CORN!

What can be made into fuel? CORN!

What’s the bad sugar you’re supposed to stay away from?  high fructose CORN! syrup.

What has its own band?  KoЯn!

What’s my favorite summer food? CORN!

What have I not had since being in California and refuse to pay for corn by the ear and not by the dozen?  CORN!

One day CORN! may rule the world.