Ten Thousand Things, Part 1

1. I have noticed recently that the hours of time I spend alone directly correlates to the amount of existentialist philosophical musing I am apt to do on any given day.

2. However, conversely, sometimes being with other people just causes me to think about the ephemeral nature of life and the complexities of our larger universe that I will never quite understand.

3. Summer is a strange time of year in which I spend most of the time feeling both elated and desperately sad at once for absolutely no reason.

4. I wonder if the rest of the year I truly have a different experience or if I only pretend that I do.

5.  Sometimes it really bothers me when people leave off the periods at the ends of their sentences, and sometimes it doesn’t.

6. It bothers me an awful lot when people write letters but don’t sign them.

7. “It hurts to want everything and nothing at the same time” are lyrics from the song “Goodbye to You” by Michelle Branch. It is probably one of the most relatable phrases I have come across.

8. Realizing you don’t love someone anymore, and that you still care deeply about them but that you just can’t care about them in the way that you used to, is probably one of the scariest things there is. And it happens really slowly and you don’t notice it at first, and then you do but you pretend you don’t, and then one day you’re sitting in the rain with a girl who wants to kiss you and all you can think is “the tree across the street looks so beautiful in this weather.”

9. It’s like the way things fall apart sometimes— so slowly and subtly you don’t know it’s happening until you’re looking at the remains of what you thought your life would be.

10. But endings are just a different kind of beginning, really, and destruction and creation are so linked together that sometimes it’s impossible to see which is really going on. My go-to answer is usually both.

11. If I look back on this two years from now I am going to wince and call myself a pretentious little shit

12. I don’t know if the degree to which I immerse myself in fictional realities is worrisome or not.

13. I’ve grown up being a lover of books and movies and stories. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It has led me to some of my deepest friendships, fostered my creativity, and informed the way I move through the world. Fictional reality has taught me how to be brave and be individual and how to laugh. But I sometimes wonder if I am hiding in other people’s stories so I can avoid living my own.

14. Then again, they say reality is just a different kind of fiction.

15. When we say “they” do we ever know who we mean?

16. And also with the word we?

17. Whoever has made the argument that fiction doesn’t hurt as much as reality never had to suffer through realizing Harry Potter was over.

18. Wanting is a really weird emotion and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it.

19. I am definitely going to regret writing this later.

20. Have more of a heart, Future Self! Be more flexible!

21. I hope people write just as many letters to their selves of the future as they do their selves of the past.

22. Being able to relate to things is one of the coolest feelings in the world.

23. I think I’m sad right now, but I can’t really tell because whenever I get sad I also get philosophical and confused and try to remedy it with as many books as possible.

24. I really need to start accepting the fact that things end.

25. No one moment is ever the same as any moment before or after it, and instead of feeling sad about that I should recognize the beauty in the uniqueness of time.

26. I need to stop putting off the end of things.

Thoughts From the Crossroads of Self Identity and Religion

 

NOTE: Today I will be broaching some very serious, potentially triggering subjects. Read with caution lovelies.

If I somehow haven’t made this clear before, I’m really really gay. I mean, really gay. Ellen Page in this video gay. But I’m also a Christian. Specifically, my congregation is a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, though of course I believe religion is interpretational and not exactly the same from person to person. Both these parts of my identity are very important to me but do not define me, as with anything else, but sometimes, people from both communities try to make them.

I was in fourth grade the first time I really believed in God. I’d been struggling with anxiety to the point where I couldn’t go outside without hyperventilating, and I spent my days feeling like I was fragile enough to shatter into a thousand pieces at any given moment. Whenever my parents left me at home alone for a quick run to the grocery or to pick up my brother from a friend’s house, I’d sit in the same place the entire time, shaking, still. Unmoving because the creaks and noises I heard didn’t just sound like burglars and monsters–they were burglars and monsters. The scariest kind. If it wasn’t that, I’d be afraid my body would give out on me with no one around to keep it from falling apart.

Our culture prioritizes hiding, and I knew I’d have to keep these things hidden deeper than anything. What I didn’t know was how to hide.

So I started praying, not as a means of hiding, but to calm myself down. It worked, mostly. I found myself truly believing the things they told me in Sunday school about a God who loved me, who looked out for me, who held me accountable to myself. I prayed to Her whenever I felt too afraid to continue. I’d hear a storm outside and tell Her I would help save the environment one day if the thunder and lightning passed. When I felt a pang or ache in my side and worry it meant my inevitable decay I promised Her I’d write those books I’d always wanted to. It helped me breathe again and get through my day. Eventually the pain would pass but the fear lingered. To this day it lingers.

My faith has since come in phases, like the waxing and waning of the moon. I’ve had many moments of doubt and I never stop questioning my beliefs, but I think both doubt and questioning are integral to the understanding of one’s faith and oneself. I have had more moments than I’d like where the world has gotten me so down, when I feel so guilty about the things people of my faith can do, that I have stopped believing, or tried. As I grow older I find it harder to rationalize my faith as the world screams “religion defies logic” with one fist and “religion promotes hate speech” with the other.

It’s true. Religion is not logical. Some people use it to condone vile actions that I will never uphold and never support. That is most of the reason I am writing to you today.

Leelah Alcorn was a teenage trans woman who committed suicide this week because her conservative Christian parents could not accept her for who she was and, among other brutalities, isolated her from her friends and sent her to conversion therapy. I won’t go into detail because I do not know all the details and do not believe they are mine to comment on, but her story needs attention, as do the stories of hundreds of thousands of others. Roughly half of transgender people will attempt suicide before they’re 20. And some people, some Christians, are perfectly okay with this, or are in denial about it. Leelah’s parents claim their daughter was caught in an accident.

So many people have so many better words than me about this, and I invite you to read them (tumblr is a start because many people have thoughts on this issue & links to charities you can donate to and helplines, some of which I’ll link below). I am not transgender, and I am not Leelah, and therefore I have no authority to speak on this other than to report what I know to be the facts and send all the love I have to Leelah, to transgender youth, to all who struggle with being someone the world tells them they’re not supposed to be.

Many things about both the facts and the response trouble me. No parent should put their child through that. No one should put any other human through that, or drive a human being to take their own life. And no one should do all this in the name of a religion based on love and acceptance.

I’m lucky. I have lived in a setting where I have not needed to fear my parents’ reactions to my sexuality, nor my friends, and where in fact many of my friends are queer themselves. My church openly accepts members of any sexuality or gender identity. I am so fortunate, and so grateful, and thus the things I write come from a place of privilege. Remember that. The queer community has always been accepting and is one of the first places I felt a true sense of belonging. Yet I find it harder to come out to my queer friends as Christian than I have found it to come out to my Christian friends as queer. I don’t know many religious queer people, and many of the queer people I associate with make remarks on a regular basis about how the planet would be better off without religion or how the Bible should be banned. I understand that these things do not come from a place of intentional maliciousness. It’s easy for us to blame religion as being the root of the problem because it means we don’t have to blame the culture we’ve helped to create. Religion may be that root some cases, but does that really mean it is inherently evil and should be wiped out?

I am not with any of this saying that religion in general does not have flaws, because like any system it is full of them. I am not excusing the actions of people like Leelah’s parents, or religious organizations that proudly promote discrimination. I am saying that religion is meant to help, and it is people who use it to hurt, and therefore we shouldn’t dismiss all religions as worthless. If you can say with confidence the world would be a better place without religion, you are saying that the world would be a better place without me, and others like me.

I struggle with my faith. I struggle with believing in a God who could let what Leelah’s parents did to her happen, who could let any number of atrocities in this world happen. But the God I believe in is not the scary condemning monster of a God the rest of the world presents to me.

My God is more of a force than a concrete being floating on some cloud while the world burns. My God is loving above all else. My God works in tandem with science and logic; She but another facet to these explanations. My God creates the perfectly flawed, because our flaws bring destruction but ultimately they bring us beauty. My God accepts all and does not condemn people to hell for who they are. My God does not condone actions of hate made in Her name.

The time I felt the closest to God I’d ever been was this past July. It was my fifth night at summer camp, the last before I had to return home. I was surrounded by teenagers of diverse sexualities and gender identities who were Christian like me, for the first time in my life feeling like the queer community accepted me for my religion and my religion accepted me for being queer. That week had been a slice of paradise–dance routines and music and gluten-free food and joking around with friends and in-depth discussions about God and gender and sexuality. I’ve never been able to grasp the idea of heaven in the contemporary sense of the word, but for the first time, I could see how a place like it could exist. By the dying embers of our last campfire, I prayed harder than I’ve ever prayed before or since. And now I pray again.

I pray for LGBTQ+ teenagers who feel alone, because it is so easy for teenagers in general to feel isolated, particularly when half the world is telling them they’re wrong. I pray for trans women, and that cis people will truly, genuinely listen to trans people. I pray for the parents of Leelah Alcorn, because they live in ignorance of the grievous injustice they have done. I pray they will stop denying their wrongs and start to live with open hearts and open actions. And I pray for Leelah. I pray that she will find the peace the world didn’t grant her.

Praying may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It doesn’t have to be. But prayer has helped me in the past, and I’m not going to stop. My faith gives me strength.

These are my thoughts, based on my personal experiences. Some people have different experiences that cause them to hate religion because of brutal things very religious people have done to them. I am in no way trying to discount or delegitimize that. But I do urge you to think before generalizing all religions and religious people as the same, as hateful and worthless. It is a strong belief of mine that a vast majority of religions are meant to promote love, and it is us people who use them instead to promote our own discriminatory agendas. And not having a concrete religion, or any religion? Perfectly okay. Demonizing religions practiced in peace? Not okay. I say do not ban religion. Ban hate speech people make on behalf of a religion that in all likelihood would be appalled at that behavior in the first place.

As always, I am not an expert, only a girl with a keyboard and some thoughts. Please call me out on any inaccuracies you see.

~Links~

Organizations to support/donate to:
Trans Lifeline–http://www.gofundme.com/TLLCreatingChange
Trans Youth Support Network–http://www.transyouthsupportnetwork.org/
Trans Women of Color Collective–http://www.twocc.us/
Trans Student Educational Resources–http://transstudent.org/
Kaleidoscope Youth Center–http://www.kycohio.org/

Support Groups:
Pathways–http://pathwaystg.org/
Other Trans Support Groups–http://iamtransgendered.com/SupportGroups.aspx

Helplines and resources:
LGBTQ Hotlines–http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org/ http://www.lgbt.ie/get-support.aspx
Transgender Helpline–http://www.transgenderzone.com/transpanic.htm
Gender Support Lines–http://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/gender-identity.php

 

 

Plans for NaNoWriMo 2013

As I have previously mentioned, for the past two years I have participated in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. This year I also participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July. Well, it is that time of year again, where the month of November quickly approaches and I frantically make last minute preparations of characters, plots, settings, and stock up on junk food (how convenient that NaNo begins the day after Halloween). I thought I’d post my plans for this year’s NaNo on my blog.

I’ve always been rather partial in my writing to the genre of fantasy. The four novels (as well as a couple on the side) I have previously written have all been fantasy, and this year’s novel is no different. However, my novel this year takes a bit of a different shape than in years previous.

In every fairy tale I’ve ever heard, the main character is always insurpassably lovely, “the fairest maiden of them all”. Even in most of the books I’m currently reading, and certainly in nearly every YA book I’ve ever read, there is always something beautiful about the main character or love interest. But what if there wasn’t?

Meet Cinder, a teenage girl who isn’t beautiful, pretty, lovely, exquisite, graceful, poised, charming, or in any way possessed with the graces of a fairy tale princess. Her mother died when she was a baby, her father not long after he remarried, and now she lives with her arrogant stepmother and vane stepsisters. And they are beautiful.

So, if you can’t tell, the main plottline of the story is based off of the story Cinderella; I’m actually planning on titling my book Cinderugly. But I’ve changed up the traditional tale and added in quite a bit, including a corrupt government system, a prince she loathes but somehow still keeps having to save his life, Death as a characters, mysterious black envelopes appearing in many kingdoms leading people on various missions, subplots that are really other famous fairy tales, LGBTQA+ relationships, and a team-up of princesses, princes, commoners, and age-old characters that may just have to save the world.

I’m really excited about my idea and have already started prep work for it. I hope to draw up a map of all the kingdoms, and if I do, I’ll try to post a picture here. In addition to Cinderella, I’m also using plots based on Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I’m also referencing countless other stories in the book.

And that is my plan for NaNoWrimo 2013. I’m a bit apprehensive this year because I’ll probably be in rehearsals in November, and it’s my first time trying to write 50,000 words, which I’ve never even come close to before. And I’m writing by hand. So that’ll be scary.

What about you? Have you ever tried or wanted to try NaNoWriMo, or even just written a novel before? Got any survival tips for this third-timer so she won’t keel over with exhaustion halfway through the month?

The Wrong Kind of Ambition

Recently my parents have been talking about me getting a job next summer. They’re a bit instistant about it, but I am rather less than pleased by this turn of events. Call me a snob or call me lazy, but I don’t see anything exhilarating about getting up at the crack of dawn to stand over a frying pan for hours on end. Of course, no one in their right mind would enjoy that, and there are very valid arguments in favor of getting a job in high school.

“It’s a good way to earn a little pocket money.”
Or
“You need to start saving for college.”
Or
“Learning to work when you’re a teenager will prepare you with skills you’ll need for the rest of your life.”

And I understand those reasons. They make sense. But I admitt that I am a very lazy person. I’d much rather spend my time on art projects and singing and reading and writing than doing actual work. Don’t get me wrong, there are some kinds of work I enjoy, but those tend to be things that excersize the brain rather than the body. I just don’t want to get a job, not only because it won’t be “fun”, but the way adults go on about their occupations sometimes it seems like having a job is depressing and torturous, and that isn’t how I want my life to end up. But if I don’t get a job at some point my life will end up much, much worse. I have to grow up eventually.

The thing is, as much as I’m excited to become an adult and finally have the freedom to do what I want with my life, I also find it a terrifying and confusing and extremely dreary thought. As a kid I don’t have very big responsibilities, but when I’m an adult they’ll be huge. I get to go to school now, but before long I’ll have to work instead. And while there are many adults who love what they do for a living, there are many others who’s jobs make them miserable. And I don’t want to be the type of person who gets stuck working at a job I hate because I think it’s all I’m going to get, slaving away in the same dull office complex day after day after day. Some people might love that type of job, but not me. Basically I’ve been contemplating my future and thinking “I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life.” And that scares me.

The thing is, I know what I want to do with my life. I’ve always known. I really do have loads of ambition, it’s just the wrong kind. The kind that isn’t deemed practical be society. I am a very artistic person. One of the most artistic people I’ve met, and I don’t mean that in a bad or good or braggy way, I just mean I haven’t found many people quite as invested in the arts as I am. I have theater friends who could tell me the name of every major musical in the history of Broadway, and I have writer friends who are far more well read than I, and I have artistic friends whose paintings take my breath away. But I don’t know many individuals who are heavily invested in multiple art forms like I am. I’m not saying I’m wonderfully talented at any of it, but the fact remains that what I am best at is things on the creative spectrum, and almost nothing else.

When I was in fifth grade I decided I would be an actress and a writer when I grew up, but I knew I’d need a day job and couldn’t figure out what that would be. Almost six years later, I still can’t figure out what that would be. I want acting and writing and doing the things I love to be my actual job, and maybe someday they will be, but I have to work my way up to that point. There’s plenty of jobs I can think of unrelated to the two mentioned above that I think I’d actually enjoy, like university professor and librarian and research psychologist or even a journalist for a respectable newspaper, but those aren’t the types of jobs that one gets when they’re sixteen. I’ll need to have some undesirable job at some point, I know that. I just don’t like it.

I have so many dreams I want to achieve. So much I want to do with my life. I don’t want to waste what little time I’m renting here on this earth on doing something I hate. I think there’s lot’s of jobs, even tiny ones fit for sixteen-year-olds, that I really wouldn’t mind having. I just have to find them.

Have you had a job you really hated, or maybe one you really enjoyed? Tell me about it in the comments.

A Meager Excuse

Or rather, several meager excuses as to why I have not been posting:

1. The Doctor showed up at my house a few weeks ago and I became a companion, traveling through time and space in the TARDIS. Actually, the week before last I was on a youth group trip to Puerto Rico. I shall certainly post about it, maybe even include a few pictures, but alas, that will have to wait until later.
2. In addition to “recovering” from the trip last week, I had my fanfiction writing class. I wrote several things that I’d like to post here, including a Doctor Who fanfic involving festering wounds and Dora the Explorer, but first I have to get my stories typed up. I am still old fashioned enough that I write most things by hand.
3. Simply put, I have been hopelessly uninspired.

Well, that’s that. I should probably mention that I will be attempting Camp NaNoWriMo once again in July. That’s tomorrow. I wanted to post my novel summary, but the Camp website has crashed, so I won’t be able to post that either. Is the entire world against my posting actual worthwhile content on this blog?

I apologize for this meager excuse for a blog post.

Until I post again (hopefully with more actual things of importance to say),
Artgirl.

Plans, Plans, Plans, and More Plans

In which Artgirl posts about her summer plans, writing plans, and a few life goals (for good measure).

Writing Plans:

1. This November I’m planning on writing the third book in my currently untitled trilogy. I wrote the previous two books for NaNo of 2011 and 2012. These are basically high fantasy novels set in a world of my own creation with lot’s of battles and evil people trying to conquer everyone. Don’t worry, they have detailed plots, though the specific plot of the third book is currently eluding me.
2. I also need to finish typing/editing the first drafts of my 2011 and 2012 novels.
3. I tried camp NaNoWriMo for the first time in April, and I need to finish writing/editing the first draft of my novel for that. It’s also a high fantasy novel, this time set in a completely different imaginary world. I do so love creating my own fictional worlds. The book involves a dangerous quest to rescue a kidnapped queen.
4. I started a prequel to my 2011/2012/2013 NaNo series and have the plot all planned out, so I need to finish writing that.
5. I’m planning on having my Camp NaNo novel be the first in another trilogy, and I have the plot of the second book semi-figured out already.
6. For YWP NaNo, I’m working on a short story for an anthology entitled Rainbow Snog, which promotes LGBTQA+ romance. I need to finish that in a couple of days. I’m almost done, I just need to write a few more pages. It’s horribly depressing, but I just can’t seem to write romance that turns out well for the characters involved.
7. I’m taking a few writing classes this summer (more on that later).
8. I’d like to start writing more poetry, because I’m woeful at it. I have maybe written only two halfway decent poems ever.

Summer Plans:

1. I’m going to Puerto Rico for a youth group mission trip in June. I’m really excited, but also nervous. We have to go zip lining on our second to last day, and I detest that sort of thing. I’m also nervous about flying, even though I’ve flown plenty of times.
2. I’m taking a fanfiction writing class in June/July. I’ve never written fanfiction, so it’ll be fun to try. I don’t have many ideas as of yet. Perhaps I’ll write my version to the ending of the last book in the Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins. They’re not as popular as her other books, but just as good in my opinion, and I would strongly recommend them.
3. I’m going to be a counselor at the summer camp I’ve attended ever since about fifth grade. I’m both nervous and excited for this. On the one hand, I’ll get to return to a place that has become a second home to me over the years, but on the other hand I’m really shy and bound to mess something up. Does anyone have any tips about working with children? The ones I’m counseling will probably be between 9 and 11 years old.
4. I’m traveling to Northern Minnesota for a much-anticipated annual family reunion on the shores of Lake Superior.
5. In August I’m taking a class that studies the impacts movie soundtracks have on writing (mainly through writing). I’m looking forward to this class because it combines two of the things I love most: writing and music. If there were food involved, it would be just about perfect.
6. I plan on doing a lot of relaxing, reading, writing, hanging out with friends, laughing, eating ice cream, singing, crafting, and just being my crazy self this summer.

And just for good measure:

Life Plans:

Or, crazy dreams that are never going to happen but Artgirl holds onto them firmly anyway.

1. I would love to play Eponine in Les Miserables someday. I don’t care if it’s on broadway or a tiny community theater stage, but I want to play this part more than any other. This is one dream that might actually happen. I will make it happen, through practice and hard work and relentless auditioning.
2. I want to be on broadway or act in a movie, but these are really fantasies more than dreams. I’d be perfectly happy if I grow up to be a successful local actress living in a shoebox apartment.
3. I’d to publish a novel through an actual publishing company, not self-publishing. Preferably this will happen with more than one book.

So I guess those goals aren’t completely unrealistic, well, except for the middle one. I guess I just don’t need to be famous. I’d like to be a renowned author and actress, of course, but one who lives a relatively simple life and can walk down the street without getting mobbed by paparazzi. Fame really doesn’t interest me. What are some of your dreams or goals?