Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Why I Don't Blog Anymore

I have a list of half-finished blog posts sitting on my blogger homepage. None of them have even made it to a full first draft. I am well aware that it has been over a year since my last post. And, good golly gosh what a year it has been. It would take an entire book to cover all of it.

But there's a reason I have so many failed attempts sitting in my drafts. And the reason is that blogging isn't what it used to be, because the entire internet is now a blog. Back in the days of Web 2.0, right when websites were just beginning to be interactive, the ability for an average person who was not a qualified expert to write about a topic and publish it online was totally new and fascinating. When blogging came about, it was a novel idea that anyone could share their thoughts online.

These days, there are no shortage of ways to share thoughts online. For instance, if I woke up one morning feeling really strongly that pigs reserve the right to have access to public showers (what with the lack of sweat glands, and all) I could choose from a dozen different platforms on which to plant my soapbox. I could make an Instagram post, or start an Instagram Live about it. I could make a Twitter thread, write a longwinded Facebook post, make a YouTube video. If I was feeling especially dramatic I could make a Snapchat story of all black backgrounds with words typed over it about the injustice being done to swine-kind by denying them public shower facilities. All this, without even making my own website; which, by the way, is not hard to do these days.

Now I don't often feel particularly passionate about the rights of the world's pigs, but there are other things I tend to have strong opinions about. But so does everyone else in the world, and they have access to the same plethora of platforms I do. And what do we do on those platforms? We create a flood of opinions on all topics, large and small, whether other people want to hear them or not. No longer do I need a formal blog to talk about issues. And increasingly I find myself not wanting to add to all the senseless noise.

This even extends past hot topics and the current news cycle. If I feel like talking about what's happening in my life, it usually goes straight to Instagram or Facebook. For many of my everyday musings, I've cut out the middle man and just written it in my journal.

These days, a blog has to have a niche. You have to be a mommy blogger, or a food blogger, or a Pig Rights Activism blogger. You have to do giveaways, and have beautiful pictures where everything looks effortlessly beautiful, even though you're open and vulnerable about how life isn't always easy. That's just not who I am.

I'm not sure what this means for the life of my blog. Maybe it's time to hang up the apron, so to speak, and move on. But hey, at least now I've posted in the 2018 calendar year.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

In Defense of Rules

I like rules.

Okay? I said it. I like rules. I like knowing what I can and cannot do. I like structure. I like rules. 

I go to a school that has more rules than most, and while some people are not necessarily thrilled about that, I have to say I really don't mind. I think a lot of the rules at Asbury make sense and have a purpose. They keep us respectful and stop us from being stupid. Well, they try to. I mean let's be real, we're college students, we're going to do stupid stuff no matter what. 

We live in a time in history when people don't really like being told what to do. I don't think anyone has ever actually enjoyed it, to be fair. But in the world we're living in right now, no one can tell anybody else that what they're doing might be wrong. You tell someone's kid not to stick their finger in a light socket and the parents get mad at you (I'm being hyperbolic but I wouldn't be surprised if this has happened).  Listen, I get that. I do. It doesn't feel good to have someone else tell you what you can and cannot do. But I still don't think complete freedom is actually freedom at all. Without rules we become selfish, whiney brats with no moral standard who only think of ourselves. 

It is here that I will insert a caveat: I don't like rules that are unjust or serve no purpose. If I see a rule that is completely arbitrary, you better believe I'll break that rule. And that notion is important in endeavors such as civil disobedience, but that's getting a little past the scope of this post. 

I like constructive, well-thought out rules so much that I impose personal rules upon myself. One rule that I try really hard to adhere to is that I only go out to eat as a social thing. It keeps me from spending way too much money on food and helps me (usually) make better food choices. Another rule I've recently given myself is no Netflix in the morning. When I start out my day watching Netflix, pretty soon it's 3pm and I've done nothing but watch Parks & Recreation, which we all probably know I've watched too many times as it is (this is my fourth time through the series, to be exact). I don't want to set myself up to be lazy whenever I have a day off. And yeah, it sucks sometimes when I just want to watch a show and then I have to come up with something else to do. I feel like a bored twelve year old again. But think of all the things I can do without my hours getting sucked away. If I had started watching Netflix this morning I definitely wouldn't be writing this post. I wouldn't have even thought about it. 

I have more rules. I have so many rules. Some of them are strict rules (no coffee after 3pm when I have to get up for work the next day) and some are more like guidelines or practices (write in my journal every night before bed. Yeah, that's actually something I do). Some of them are seasonal or periodical (I give myself a goal to strive for each school year). And to be honest, I think I'm a better person because of those rules/practices/habits/whatever you want to call them. 

So listen, I'm not saying don't question rules. Actually I'd say always question rules. Ask if they make sense, if they serve a purpose, and if they're for your own good. If they don't pass the test, then do whatever you want. But I'd advocate for following the good ones, and for some self-imposed ones as well. You want to quit a habit? Make some rules. Tell your friends about them and make them help you stick to your guns. It's okay if you don't like rules as much as I do, but take a minute to appreciate them. 


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Confessions of a Media Communication Major (who doesn't want to go into film)

I love my major. I just finished my first project where I got to shoot and edit my own footage, and let me tell you, wow. I loved it. It was frustrating and kinda stressful and didn't quite come out the way I wanted it to, but I learned a lot and hopefully my next one will be better. It just felt so great to make this thing and come out on the other side saying I did all of that myself. I'm pretty proud of it even if there's things I need to work on. I want no confusion, come to the end of this post, about how I feel. I really love what I'm doing.

And now, a word about my program. "Media communication" is a very broad term that encompasses a large variety of endeavors. Within the major are a whole slew of emphases; audio production, multimedia, journalism, film, etc. My emphasis is Production, which isn't incredibly descriptive, but basically I get to learn lots of different things like live television production, film production, and graphic design. The list goes on and is variable even within the emphasis. All of these emphases are taught well and thoroughly and the student comes out on the other side of graduation with both head knowledge and practical knowledge about their chosen emphasis. I am very happy with the program I chose.

Now comes the "however." I love my school, and I love my program. However, I have felt an increasing pervasiveness in the department of the idea that the film emphasis is the most superior. I don't know if I have become more aware of this as I have been here longer, or if it is a growing phenomenon. Or, I guess a possibility is that this is all in my head and I should stop worrying about it and go study for a test or something. I don't think it is all in my head, though.

It seems like all of my media com friends want to do something with film, and they're really good at it. It's actually super cool and I love that we have such quality filmmakers here. With so many people interested in this, there are a lot of cool opportunities available like an internship in Los Angeles, and a class that takes a trip to the Sundance film festival. We even have our own film festival where students are encouraged to submit their short films.

Here's the thing: I don't want to go into film. I have no desire to move to LA or New York or Atlanta. Even just going to LA for a visit is kind of a "take-it-or-leave" it thing for me. I'm not against the idea of working on films, I'd actually love to try, but what I really want to do is promotional videos for a company, preferably a non-profit. That shouldn't make my studies any less valid. So why does it feel like it does?

I feel almost ostracized because film isn't my number one goal; because I probably won't take Film Aesthetics or Intro to Directing or Producing. Maybe I will, who knows, but it's not an absolute necessity for me. I'm in the minority because I'm not going to go to LA or bend over backwards to get on every film set that comes my way. For whatever reason, there's so much pressure in this department to be a film person. I feel like I don't fit in sometimes.

This has been starting to bug me recently. There shouldn't be one emphasis that's more valued than the others. I know that it's almost inevitable for one emphasis to have more people in it than others, which means there may be more opportunities offered for it, but that doesn't mean by default the other emphases get less valued. And yet I feel pressured. I feel pressured to take more film classes and take advantage of more freelance opportunities. I often get overwhelmed by the feeling that I'm not doing enough, or I'm not getting involved in the right things.

I don't think this is something that should go unsaid. And I don't think it's a a problem stemming from the students or faculty intentionally. I think it is a side effect of a great passion for film. Passion for film is a wonderful thing. Movies are super great. Film theory is completely fascinating. But it's not my whole life and that's not a problem. I don't want to feel like it is a problem. And if it turns out that it isn't just me who feels this way, that means that something has to change.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Starting in the Middle: A Thought Before the Advent of Junior Year

It's really interesting how you can be told something over and over and not truly understand until you experience it yourself. I call these "Your Mom Was Right" moments. You know, like when your mom tells you that if you don't wear a coat you're going to regret it and you're like "yeah whatever, mom," and then an hour later when you're freezing your butt off you think to yourself "alright fine, mom was right." Moments like these typically come when someone tries to tell you what will happen in your future, such as "you won't miss some of the people you were friends with in high school" or "when you find the right college/spouse/car/whatever, you'll know." You brush it off, not because you don't believe it, but the full truth hasn't impressed itself upon you yet.

My most recent dealing with something like this involves the sentence, which I'm sure you've all probably heard before, "College goes by fast." It's one of these same sentences where you roll your eyes and say "sure, mom" only to realize in hindsight that she was speaking a far greater truth than you ever could have known at the time. This summer, I've definitely had a Your Mom Was Right moment. I got home in May and I thought, where did the first two years of college go? They certainly went faster than the first two years of high school, let me tell you. So all summer it's kept hitting me that I only have two more years left at Asbury.

And honestly, I'm pretty glad that hit me now and not a week after I graduate. I want to cherish my time at Asbury, even if it means trying a little harder not to just wish away the weeks until this event or that. I want to be present even in the moments where I'm at work or I'm studying for a really hard test or I'm so tired I feel like I could fall asleep standing up. I don't want to get to the end of the next two years and think, "where did the past four years go?" (though I may not completely be in control of that and it will probably still happen anyway)

That's kind of my goal for this school year, I guess; to pay a little bit more attention. Live a little bit more in the present. Be alert to what's going on around me and cherish the time I have left to be a college student, because there's not many other places in the world where you can get away with having large-scale nerf gun fights or napping in random places without (much) judgement.

Feel free to remind me of this sometime around midterms.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Game Plan for Fixing the Country

Every day getting on the Internet recently is like waiting on a phone call you don't want to get. I brace myself, waiting to see what atrocity happened today. Think about how many tragedies you've seen in the past week or so. How many are there? If you have to count them, it's too many. When did it get like that?

I used to be able to delude myself into comfort by saying it's not happening here. All the violence and terror was far away across the ocean. But it's not anymore. Has it ever been? Each breaking news story feels like the click of another empty chamber in Russian Roulette. When's the bullet going to fire? When is tragedy going to hit home? When will the hashtags say "Pray for Cincinnati?" I don't want to sit around and wait to find out. 

We need to do something. We need a game plan. Something that's not partisan or political or even religious. It doesn't matter who is right in this situation, because when innocent people get killed none of us are right. 

So what should we do? Well here's my easy, one-step fix: 

Love and invest in people.

That's all it takes. You don't have to work for an international relief organization. You don't have to donate your entire life savings to a cause. You just have to be kind to one another; genuinely and intentionally. With no agenda, no double standards, no fine print. We need to invest in people because they are people. 

I did lie a little bit there. It's not exactly easy. It's the simplest thing to do, but it's so hard. To invest in people we have to give up our time and our pride. We have to think less of ourselves and more of others. I don't know why that's so hard. I don't know why I have such a hard time putting aside my own stupid inflated ego to listen to someone else for a little while, or to help them out when they need something small. Helping people is never going to be convenient. So why do I think it should?

Oh and that other thing? It is one step, but it's not.  It's one step, over and over and over and over until you wonder why you even bother doing something so fruitless because clearly it isn't doing any good. It takes a long time. It takes effort. It takes doing something in real life outside of the safety of the Internet. You may never even see the benefit of it and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, in it for you. 

But what's the alternative? Either we stop thinking that every man is an island and that our goal in life is to build up our own island bigger and grander than everyone else's, or we die by our own hands. Is it harder to love hard-to-love people or is it harder to sit back and watch as chaos creeps closer and closer, killing everything in its wake? 

I know writing about it doesn't help; not the way living out my own advice would. I know we don't need to be more aware. We are aware, and that's why our stagnancy is a problem. I am working to take my own advice. I'm trying to go out of my way to love people. And in the meantime, I will write, because writing is what I'm good at. Hopefully, in the future, I will get good at loving people, too. 

"Always hold firmly to the thought that each of us can do something to bring some portion of misery to an end." -Unknown

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Living with Fear

I'm afraid of bees. I'm afraid of being lonely. I'm afraid of bats. I'm afraid of making a fool of myself. I'm (mildly) afraid of the dark. I'm afraid of failure. And more and more recently, I'm really afraid of the world I live in.

My whole life I've felt lucky to live in America, but recently I've found myself wishing I lived somewhere else. There's been so many scary things happening here. So many senseless acts of violence and crazy politics, and that's just in current events. And now we're in this crazy spiral where all we can talk about is the horror happening all around us. I've actually seen people get angry because people post about lighter topics. And if it's a celebrity related lighter topic, well then, you clearly have no regard for anything.

Here's the thing though. I don't mind these other posts. I'm actually really grateful for these other posts. If I thought about all the bad things that have the potential to happen every time I step out my door, I never would. I would truly and honestly lock myself inside forever and only leave when it's absolutely necessary.

And who could blame me? It's not like anywhere is safe anymore. Schools aren't safe, movie theaters aren't safe, churches aren't safe, public gatherings aren't safe. And I'm not even just talking about active shooter situations. The possibilities are endless. I've never had a panic attack before, but I feel like I could just thinking about all the horrible things that could potentially happen. I can't live like that and, besides that, I don't particularly want to.

So yes, I'm grateful for all the lighter things being posted on social media. Without them, I'd have given up Facebook months ago. I shouldn't have to feel bad about that.

That's not really what I'm here to talk about, though. What I'm here to talk about is what to do with all this fear. How do I deal with this in a way that I'm not living my entire life scared? All that stuff about having nothing to fear because the Lord is with me: what do I do with that? It's extremely hard for me to not be scared, but I know I can't live my life like that if I want to truly be able to say that I trust God.

I have no answers. I just have a lot of questions. I'm not even really looking for quick answers, because I don't think they exist. I just want to pose these questions. How do I vote in this election in a way that's not out of fear? How do I balance regard for personal safety without crossing into paranoia?  How should we deal with fear? When do we need to leave fear behind and lean on God?  I don't want to be scared. I want to help make the world a place where I don't have to be so scared, but that's not going to eliminate every frightening variable. I feel like Junior the Asparagus: Where's God when I'm Scared??

I guess that's all for now. Sorry for the super depressing post to break my recent radio silence. As an apology, here is a really funny cat video.


Monday, December 14, 2015

What to Do When it Doesn't Feel Like Christmas

It's never hit me as hard as it has this year. It's been happening slowly for the past couple of years, which I think it just a symptom of growing up. I fought really hard not to lose it, but Christmas just doesn't seem like Christmas recently. This year it's been even worse and I think this is for a few reasons. One, because it's been so blasted warm. Seriously, get it together Cincinnati, this is December. It should be 35 degrees and overcast, not 70 degrees and breezy. There are birds chirping in the trees. It's ungodly. But anyway, I digress. Second, I think that usually I start getting Christmasy the second it hits midnight the day after Thanksgiving. We all know that after thanksgiving is over it's time for Christmas. The problem is that the past couple years, instead of getting Christmasy, I've had to ignore everything else and buckle down for finals. Thirdly, I know how money works now. That makes everything less fun.

Usually I gradually start feeling more Christmasy; when we put up the tree, when I start listening to Christmas music, when I start wrapping presents. Even last year things at school helped. The Johnson Christmas party, Johnson boys caroling in our courtyard, class Christmas parties. But even that didn't work this year.

So what is it? Why am I suddenly lacking the fuzzy-warm-inside-Christmas-cheer feeling I'm so fond of? This is the time of year I live for; when everyone is happy and feeling generous and kind. This is the time of year when people suddenly remember the things they forgot all year long like how to value their family, how to be kind to others, how to be generous. I want this holiday. I need the time of relaxation and happiness with my family before I go back to the craziness of school. And I hate New Years so that's not going to cut it..

I think Christmas peaks when you're about seven or eight. Maybe you still believe in Santa, you get really great presents, everything still has this magical sheen surrounding it, your parents still pay for the presents you get for everyone, and you're old enough to remember it all. Then you get older, and gradually your traditions change. This is especially true for me this year, and I think this is where the lack-of-Christmas-spirit is stemming from.

My whole life we've done the same thing on Christmas. We go to the same Christmas Eve service, we go to the same Christmas party, I've read the same children Christmas books for as long as I can remember (even though I've far outgrown them), we have the exact same Christmas-morning tradition. And call me Tevye, because darn if I don't love traditions.  But this year it's different. Since my siblings are all old (relative to me) and married, we have to switch things up a bit. We're not having our Christmas until January. And I know it's not all about the presents, but the time when we open presents is a time I cherish every year. Changing it up just doesn't feel right.

I don't really know what to do about this whole situation. I know that Christmas isn't the most important thing in the world, but to me it is pretty important. I know that the real reason is about Jesus, but I want my family traditions too. Even writing this post I still don't know what to do, so I guess the title is a little deceiving because I don't have any answers.

What I realized in church last week, however, is that it doesn't matter. As much as I hate it, it doesn't matter that it doesn't feel like Christmas. Like it or not, my life isn't always going to be as peachy-keen perfect as it has been in the past. Christmas may not always be the magical time I remember it being as a child. But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. I kind of hate the whole "Reason for the Season" type things, but what it's right in reminding us that matters is Jesus. The birth of Jesus is the second-most important thing to ever happen in history, right behind his resurrection. If I don't get my Santa and hot chocolate and carol-singing Christmas, I have to suck it up because that's the way the world works. But I think it is still important to stop and remember the importance of the birth of Jesus; to remind yourself how absolutely insane it is that God would make himself a human; that is the "Reason for the Season" (cringe as you feel led).

I'm still going to try to make it feel like Christmas. I'm not quite ready to give up the child-like wonder at the Christmas magic. Yet when I feel sad because it isn't the same or I don't have the Christmasy feeling, I can remember why we even have Christmas, and put it into perspective.

I don't know if any of you have felt the same way, or if this helps in any way, but I hope it did.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good attitude.