Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I read a fantastic satirical article the other day about writing. Except at first I didn't realize it was satire. Or maybe I just wasn't paying attention to the title "How Not to Write". So as I'm reading along about waiting until you're inspired, sipping your coffee slowly, staring out the window, looking pensive and worldly as other patrons bustle about in your favorite local cafe, and I'm thinking uh yeah, I GOT THIS- I get the joke.

The article goes on to quote Jack London referring to finishing Call of the Wild "with a club", rather than inspiration. I'm realizing that writing, like most other trades, is work. Not that I ever thought writing was simply having a time share in Alaska, sleeping in till noon, and waiting until you've conjured up every detail of a magical land seven books long, but maybe I wasn't aware of how much writing writing requires. Good writing, at least.

Writing isn't about left brain or right brain, innate talent, or divine inspiration (okay, maybe sometimes it's about those things) but it's about pursuing this thing that you want to pursue. And a really risky thing if you hope to make any money at it. And like carpentry, or acting, or any other finely tuned skill, some days you have no desire to clock in but the more you do the better you get. Likely not all of your work will be praise-worthy, criticism will feel personal, and you'll need to get over it and muscle your way through the tough spots. Because life doesn't wait for you to feel like it.

So here I am. Writing about trivial things to be minimally read. Not entirely void of inspiration, but forcing myself to be inspired with what I already have. And what I have is a desire to write, hopefully well some day. My life doesn't need ethereal sunsets and charming bird songs in four part harmonies in order to be inspirational, nor does it require that I ban all distractive media in order to pursue creative integrity. It just requires some self awareness.

We've allowed ourselves to become jaded with life, with it's magnitude, with it's possibility, and we've settled for affirmation by posting pictures of what we ate for lunch online and letting all of our friends tell us how good it must taste. Though we likely spend little time actually tasting it. If we could but step back and taste life, I think we might be surprised at how much inspiration really is available. And if we wanted to tell a story we might have something to say.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

College is dumb

I'm twenty five and I don't have a college degree.

This is something I've been struggling with for years. And the older I get, the worse that struggle seems to be. It's not that I haven't wanted to go to college, quite the contrary- I love learning and I'm a respectable student. Originally, it was that I didn't want to enroll until I was sure what I wanted schooling for. Then, it was a question of whether or not it was mature and/or responsible to accrue that kind of debt. And now, the more and more graduates I know with Bachelor's and/or Master's degrees, who themselves aren't sure what college taught them other than how to own a really expensive piece of paper, the more I question what college will do for me. Clearly, it isn't securing a spectacular career. In fact, I'm not sure I know of anyone who even has a job in the field of their major.

And now that I'm trying to navigate the realm of volunteering overseas, you know, the realm where I buy a really expensive plane ticket and then pay an organization to allow me to work for free, I'm coming up against the desire these organizations have for their volunteers to possess a four year degree. In anything.

Have a degree in interior design? Want to cultivate a farm?
Have a degree in marketing? Cool, want to teach English to small children?

Which leads me to wonder what it is exactly that people think a college degree does. Obviously employers aren't looking for a specific skill set (lest your major actually matter) but I'm beginning to think that the mass public believes either:
A) going through four years of college teaches you some skill you cannot acquire any other way (perhaps that skill is work ethic??).
B) someone who hasn't gone to college is just blatantly unintelligent.
or C) our system is flawed and higher education has received a reputation it hasn't actually earned.

I continue to want to go to college, but that desire is consistently being challenged with the high probability that at graduation I might look back on the last four years of my education and not be able to identify what valuable skill college equipped me with that I didn't obtain before hand or couldn't obtain any other way. And if that skill was something I could have obtained otherwise (or doesn't have a monetary value of tens of thousands of dollars), me and my student loan are going to HAVE WORDS.

I have good work ethic. I have intense life and job experience. I like, and understand how to use(!), big words. Unfortunately "do you have a four year degree OR equivalent life experience" isn't usually an option on an application. Reminding myself of the many very successful (and often famous) entrepreneurs before me who have managed to pursue their dreams without being stopped by their lack of college education is helpful, but then also leaves me insecure by comparison. Am I that driven? Am I that talented? And then I begin to wonder if my desire to obtain a college degree isn't born from a lack of belief in myself. I want to write, but am I the Zuckerberg or the Rachel Ray of writing? I know we are never our own best critic, but I'm going to go with no, I'm not on the cusp of inventing the latest writing phenomenon or teaching people how to write anything in 30 minutes or less.

I want to serve, I want to travel, and I want to write. Preferably in that order. I'm not asking anyone to pay me to hold orphaned African babies all day, but I am asking why I would need a college degree for that.

-the Monster Queen

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I like curse words and cats

Every time I get on here lately I feel like my post turns into some hodge podge pseudo inspirational self-help lecture, the words leaving the bitter taste of bile soaking into my soft pallet. Which, wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't constantly tasting bile any way. Oh I never told you I have chronic heartburn? Yeah well now I expect you to bring flowers to my hospital room when I get a perforated ulcer NOT TOO MANY MOONS FROM NOW.

Every post starts with "feelings", moves on to "sad", then "really sad", then somewhere in there I usually include "fuck everything" and "I hate men".
The last two were jokes.
Everyone knows I don't use the f word OR hate men.

But really, I've been sad lately. First I admitted it, which was tough, then I started to allow the idea that it's okay to be sad permeate the part of my brain that continues the daily emotional assault of screaming WHY CAN'T I JUST BE OKAY?! And since then, I've been trying to blog about being sad and being okay with it until I realized that blogging about it is just an attempt to BE okay with it, when really I'm not.

I feel pointless. Like. . .why am alive and do I have enough narcotics to casually not wake up in the morning pointless.

And then someone said it.
Maybe you are pointless.

And then that pointlessness I've been wielding like a 2x4 and relentlessly beating myself up with transformed into something else. It became less of a weapon and more of a swift kick in the pants. Or a hand-up if that sounds more motivating. Because that's what my feeling pointless is now- motivating me to find a point. Motivating me to find what makes me happy.

I've realized that I can't expect happiness to just curl up in my lap like a cat I'll never have because all my friends are "allergic" or filled with hatred and evil and WHY CAN'T PEOPLE JUST LIKE SOFT CUDDLY THINGS?! Yeah, I get that some cats are crazy but SO ARE SOME KIDS. You don't hear me talking about how much I hate children just because some of them need to be kenneled.

I'm not getting all power-positive-thinking. That sounds stressful and overwhelming and in case I haven't already mentioned my pending ulcer, I'm gonna go ahead and pass on being more stressed. What I am saying though, is that I'm a believer of dreams. Of dreaming. I am free to pursue happiness. To give all of myself in order to fulfill a purpose. If feeling useful makes me happy, I am free to be of use.

In the same way that YES, it's okay to be sad, it's also okay to be happy.

So that was it. My motivational speech. If you're sad, BE SAD. (Probably best if there isn't too much wine around). And if you want to be happy, FUCKING PURSUE YOUR DREAMS.

Yet I cannot tarry longer.
The sea that calls all things unto her calls me, and I must embark.
For, to stay, though the hours burn in the night, is to freeze and crystallize and be
bound in a mould.
Fain would I take with me all that is here. But how shall I?
A voice cannot carry the tongue and the lips that give it wings. Alone must it seek the
And alone and without his nest shall the eagle fly across the sun.

-The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

Friday, February 24, 2012

Milk and honey

Here is a brief story about a place I used to rent.

Looking back now I can say it was a quaint and cozy studio, but recalling the day I signed my lease I can also tell you I cried. I was moving from a spacious river-view tower apartment to some 300 square feet of old, dirty, direct-access-to-the-back-alley space. It was one of those house-turned-apartments that are often described as "full of character" or "charming". Yeah, and from the looks of it plenty of people had been charmed right the heck out. To say it felt "lived-in" would have been polite.

Bums camped in the adjacent empty lot.
That's not a joke.

But the point of this story is that this apartment had a dining nook. And that nook became sacred to me. You see, I had moved into this apartment based on some self-imposed lie that God required me to pay a sort of penance. For what, I really can't recall but more or less I needed to serve time in the wilderness. You know, like Moses. And Israel. And. . .WHATEVER. I reasoned with myself at the time that this is clearly what God needed from me in order for me to be right with Him. In order for me to get to the promised land! So I gave up my reserved parking space and my garbage disposal and I cried and I moved into my wilderness.

But back to the nook. (I don't think I need to tell you that GOD DIDN'T ASK ME TO MOVE TO ANY WILDERNESS. But He did use it. In fact, what I thought would be the most desolate time and place in my life turned out to be where God introduced me to my new family. They lived across the hall.) I don't know if it was due to limited seating, or to the fact that this nook's quaintness was about the only redeeming quality I originally found in the apartment, but I spent a fair amount of time in that nook. I read there, I prayed there, and if friends needed to vent that's where we sat. This nook became my space with God. He talked to me there.

I'm not getting all black-woman-in-a-shack on you, and I'm admitting that God probably spoke to me in other locations as well during this time, but this nook took up residence in my life as a sanctuary. It was where the psalms became real to me for the first time. It was where I felt free to cry out for however long it took my tears to surrender or find peace. It was where I felt known by God. I mean, there was a space in my home. Where God spoke. TO ME. 

Well. . .the point of this story is that I left that apartment and that nook a few years ago, and stop me before I exhaust my bible story references, but I've been looking back ever since. I literally took pictures of the nook before I moved out. (Complete with bible and candle props, I kid you not.) But this year week, as I've been struggling with God, or wanting to find the courage to, I've found myself not only questioning His goodness but His existence. I don't always feel His presence like I once did. I don't always feel known.

But tonight, as I was standing with my housemates in the space between the entryway and the living room, next to the stairs, next to our dirty shoes, I realized once again that God hasn't lead me into the wilderness. And that any space where people are trying, haphazardly as we may, to love one another in the completely ordinary and often defeating trials of daily life is a space that should be called sacred. God doesn't need a nook or any other meager temple. He's using His own means to remind me that He speaks. Some times even in my home, to me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

St. Valentine, you punk. . .

Unless there is a big fat sign reading PUMPKIN SPICE in front of Starbucks, I'm not a frequent customer. But today, this day of all blessed holidays, the tribute to St. Valentine (not) I thought I would go to Starbucks and purchase a less than mediocre drink because surely they will have Valentine's cups. You know, something obsecenely pink and red with hearts and silhouettes of little lovers kissing, and vague ethereal quotes about love. I'm not sure why exactly, I was convinced that Starbucks would have these cups (maybe because they prostitute every other celebration?!) but alas, this was my expectation. And WHY did I seek out this imagined cup? Because I thought it might cheer me right into the Valentine spirit. Yes, I am one of those people whom everyone loves to hate this time of year- I DON'T LIKE VALENTINE'S DAY. And since I know that everyone's rebuttal goes something like "Oh, you hate Valentine's day because it's so commercialized? Well what about every other holiday?!". Guess what. I hate Christmas too. And puppies!

I'm just kidding, I don't hate puppies.

I'm not going to to go into why I don't like Valentines day because no one cares. Heck, I barely care. I'm like oh, it's Valentines day? Cool, I guess I'll eat some chocolate. Wait, SO IT'S JUST ANOTHER DAY.

The point is I went to Starbucks to try and spread some cheer into my little Grinch-like heart and it was a FLOP. I'm not a complete lost cause though, I did wear my pink undies today.

-The Monster Queen

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dear men. (I wanted to include "angry vaginas" in the title but couldn't come up with anything witty)

I probably think you're an asshole before we've met. Part of me wants to be sorry about that but the rest of me remembers what experience has taught me. Which is that you are probably an asshole and I'll find out soon enough. I've been sorry in the past- sorry that I hold my past experiences over people, sorry that I sabotage relationships before they begin, sorry I'm so hard on men. But then once I discover that the next guy really is an asshole too, I'm ashamed for ever being sorry. So now I'm not.

I never wanted to be the kind of woman who listens to mad-girl music and gets together with her girlfriends, cursing the male species while eating fried foods and vocally contemplating becoming a nun. Honestly it's embarrassing. I don't want to hate men. I know a handful (a small handful, mind you) who are actually really respectable and amazing men, and there was definitely a period of time in which knowing them gave me hope that maybe my encounters with men, though highly unfortunate, were rare, but in fact knowing these decent men has made me all the more aware of how many inconsiderate pricks really are out there. MANY.

My particular brand of dissatisfaction lies namely with Christian men. My qualms with unsaved men are on a much smaller scale because I think it unfair of me to expect much from someone who has no great example to follow. But men who say they love God, yet refuse to love their sisters really unnerve me. How should a man love his sister? He should care to protect her heart by being mindful of his words and actions. He should desire that she know what to expect from men, by being the kind of man she can look to for some semblance of a standard. He should treat her as if she is valuable; as if she were created by God.

I'm not suggesting that Christian men need to be covering puddles with their coats and calling a girl's father before spending any time with her, nor am I side-stepping Christ and saying that men need to replace the standard He has set. What I am suggesting is that men in the church look different than men outside of it. I don't pretend to know what makes men tick. Sure, I could recite hypothesis after hypothesis of how each generation is losing family values due to the way our culture lives, and father-figures are being replaced by mother-figures which in turn leads to some psycho babble analysis of why men shuck responsibility and avoid relational commitment. And yes, I'm sure that's all good and true, but where does that leave women today? Accepting 30 year old boys as a poor substitute for men because daddy didn't teach them how to stand when they pee? Don't consider me completely void of compassion but my childhood was less than ideal too, so you won't see me handing any Get Out of Adulthood Free cards.

My standards are high, yes. And clearly my tolerance is low (and decreasing at a rapid rate). And okay, I should probably stop calling men "assholes". But I feel entirely lost, and rather hopeless in navigating how to be a friend, a sister, and a single woman to anyone of the opposite sex. Either I have to be that girl (who unabashedly orders bridal magazines and looooves babies and just can't wait to buy a house and sew some shit) or I have to pretend to be naive ("why yes, I'd love to hang out with you ambiguously until I'm forced to bring up the DTR at which point you'll probably tell me that you thought you might like me but now you realize we'd make better friends"). These options SUCK.

I'm not suppose to openly voice that YES, I'D LIKE TO GET MARRIED. Because everyone knows that will scare men away! But really because I don't want my desire to get married to be confused with I'll marry any man who'll have me. I am not hunting for a husband. But because, by God's grace, I recognize that men and women do operate differently I realize that boundaries are important. Lest some friend desire to spend curious amounts of time with me, I know that eventually my brain will start producing chemicals that, in the voice of giggly little school girls, will sound like DOES HE LIKE ME? DOES HE LIKE ME??? And since men so often either don't recognize or refuse to acknowledge these fundamental differences because they selfishly like the attention they know they get by being cryptic about their intentions, I'm forced to set boundaries. Awkward, borderline-childlike boundaries. And it's exhausting being the only functional adult in a relationship. Which brings me to the point of bashing men on the internet.

It's okay if you think I'm a bitch, or crazy, or just so damn typical. It kind of proves my point. And if you don't, well that's great, because in case you can't tell by now, I'd really love for someone to prove me wrong.