Books and Movies, Musings, Pictures, Poet Among Other Things

Hello, It’s Mz. Hyde

Better be scared, better be afraid,
Now that the beast is out of her cage

It’s not clean. They aren’t family friendly in the least. Most of the songs are about sex, whether explicitly or implicitly. The lyrics are full of obscenities. But there’s more to it than that. Sometimes you have to look past the obvious to see the true meaning of art.

One of my current favorite bands is Halestorm. I discovered and promptly fell in love with Lzzy Hale’s voice last year when she sang Lindsey Stirling’s Shatter Me. She has this powerful, gravely, but somehow still smooth voice that I haven’t found anywhere else. The band’s lyrics bothered me for a while. Stuff like, “I miss the bad things, the way you hate me, I miss the screaming, the way that you blame me.” This isn’t a healthy relationship. That song, and others, talk about rough break up sex and other “questionable activities”. But there’s an underlying theme, even in the most sexually charged songs.

But I won’t run
I’m not afraid
I’ll look em in the eye
Gonna hear me say
It’s
My life
My love
My sex
My drug
My lust
My god it ain’t no sin
Can I get it
Can I get an Amen
My grace
My church
My pain
My tears
My hurt
My god, I’ll say it again
Can I get it
Can I get an Amen

Much of Halestorm’s music is about accepting yourself and not giving a damn what others think of you. Having grown up in an environment where even my body wasn’t my own, this is something I’m having to learn in my 20s. I’m learning to own my identity, my beliefs, and my past. “I Miss the Misery,” mentioned above, is about getting out of an abusive relationship, and the twisted reality of missing the pain. While I’ve never been in a romantic relationship, I still strongly relate to the notion of missing abuse. Life is much simpler as a robot without a soul. There are times when all I want is to be back in the culture where I was manipulated, controlled and brainwashed. I’m free now. And I’m working on freeing my mind. I’m making new friends who are more diverse and accepting. I’ve learned a lot from them; like the fact that it’s ok to have very different styles from day to day.

CAM01920[1]Hello it’s Mz. Hyde!CAM01913[1]

I can be the bitch,
I can play the whore,
Or your fairytale princess, who could ask for more?

This deeply bothers a lot people. When you present your self in different ways every day, it confuses them. “I had you pinned as a nerd! What are you doing wearing Birkenstocks and a flower chain? How do I fix your obvious lack of connection to reality when you are dancing barefoot through the forest?” They don’t like to have to think about who you are more than once: the first time they meet you and make a snap judgement. After that, they like to be able to worry about correcting what they saw wrong with you.

When I first wore a black leather vest to school several people asked why I was dressed like a biker. I told them I was dressed like me, how I felt that day. I love this outfit. The tight leather vest, single dangling earring, and black ankle boots make me feel confident and daring. Some days I feel like visually representing the dragon part of me.

But there’s a lot more to me than black clothes and leather, and sometimes I feel like visually representing that side of me. I love my pink stripey tank top, knee high star socks and light grey converse. People are usually amused by this outfit. There are several colors and patterns going on at once. It makes me feel fun and quirky. I wear that on pegasus days.

Bands have songs. Good bands have lots of different songs. One may be about feeling good about yourself and another may be about having the worst day ever, but it’s the same band. People are like that too. They may look and act one way some days and be very different others, but they’re the same person. If you pay attention and get to know them you’ll probably find that those differences are actually kind of similar. My two outfits for instance. One is a dragon and the other is a pegasus. One has skin and scales and the other has fur and feathers, but both creatures have wings. Both are me. I’m also me when I just wear a t-shirt and jeans. Some day I may find another creature that suits me also, and I may eventually not identify with any of them. I’m learning to love and accept this about myself and my new friends. Maybe that makes us freaks, but we’re in good company, and I bet we’re happier than you.

So shout if you’re a freak like me,
You were born to burn,
This is no disease you don’t need a cure!
It’s our time now to come out!

If you’re a freak like me
Are you a freak like me?

Books and Movies, Musings, Poet Among Other Things

Saying “No” Isn’t Weak

Volumes of Rows is the only story I’ve ever finished, and I only finished it because it had to get out of my head. I came up with it as I was shelving in the library one day. Have you ever compressed a stack of paper and then let it go really fast? It makes this ominous creak that almost sounds like breathing. Now, our library isn’t all that large, so I knew I was nearly always in sight of the circulation desk, were something to happen. But what if I was alone? What if that creak actually was the books coming to life, but since someone can always see them, they can’t move? I came home that day and wrote down what played out in my head. The next week I had a gut check when I noticed that someone had left the large quilt book out.

After I finished trying to trip my sister, Meg, as she was learning to walk, I decided to torture her by other means. I attempted to convince her that aliens were going to come in our nearly two story high window, turn her brains to oatmeal and eat them with a straw. Now Meg, being very level headed and logical, had no reason to believe in aliens. I, on the other hand… have always had a very vivid imagination. I convinced myself of what I failed to convince my sister.

LimitsFor the past two years I have spent the weekends of October working at a corn maze. If you’ve ever been to a corn maze, you probably realise that there is a lot more to the attraction than a maze of maize. This particular maze features several rides and playthings, including a fairly tall zip-line. This year I worked the top of the line. I will admit, I wouldn’t have ridden this thing when I was little. I’ve never liked heights. As you can probably imagine, there were a lot of kids who would take one look and opt for the much shorter version. Most of the time the parents would suggest that they try the big line anyway. I loved it when a child who was scared at first grew to love the ride. You enjoy something so much more when you work for it. Seeing children overcoming obstacles is one of my favorite things. There’s a nearly visible shine on their faces.

Then there were the Shamers. The parents who would say some variation of “Don’t be a baby,” “He’s braver than you are,” or “Don’t be a sissy.” Some of these kids would eventually give in to their parents jeering. But some didn’t, and I applaud them all. The ones who did try because they faced their fears and the ones who didn’t because they took a stand. They didn’t give into name calling and pressuring. They ruled themselves and made their own decisions, even when those decisions weren’t popular. They set limits they were comfortable with. They had the strength to say “no.” Of course, they may later regret not riding. But, that’s part of growing up and making choices. You can allow yourself to be haunted by the Might’aves and the Should’aves, or you can learn from the experience.

My mind can be an eerie place. Because of this I have to be careful about reading or watching paranormal sci-fi or horror. If I give it the wrong encouragement, my imagination will run rampant and I can quickly lose control. There are times when I prefer movies to books, simply because my mind isn’t confined to a screen like a film is. I miss out on some things because I don’t enjoy certain types of entertainment. But I’m ok with that. To live a healthy life, you have to recognise your limits.

Books and Movies, Musings

This Is Real Life, And It Is An Epic

Every heart has a story to tell
Some dreams have wings, some are torn at the seams
and just sit there on the shelf
If you were to walk in my shoes
You’d see we are all the same
So find the love inside yourself
Cause every heart has a story to tell
This is my heart
This is my story to tell

I really love Pandora. I have found two of my favorite songs by using it. This is the chorus of Every Heart, and it perfectly exemplifies something that’s been rolling around in my brain for a while. I touched on it several months ago, but I think this is an idea that warrants a closer look.

Stories are incredibly powerful things, and I’m not really sure how to describe them. What *is* a story? If pressed for a short answer, I would say it’s a string of related thoughts having to do with and describing an event. But they are so much more than that. They are life. I don’t just mean stories from 10660227_730463573675003_2572696761722264010_nhistory either. But my life is nothing like a storybook. It’s boring. All I do is go to work, eat, and hang out at home. Stop. I mean it. That is no way to talk about an epic masterpiece.

What do you look for in a strong character? You look for complexity, depth, emotion. You look for things that make it real. To the characters in stories, their world is just as real to them as ours is to us. You sit in McDonalds and drink a Dr. Pepper. They sit in an inn and drink a pint (“They come in pints?”) It’s kind of like what I say about the news. Just because something bad is reported on tv doesn’t mean it is a common thing. In fact, if it were common, it wouldn’t be worth noting. [Note: This isn’t strictly true, especially in cases regarding social justice issues.  I’m referring to things like buildings collapsing or people finding anacondas in their bathrooms.] Stories don’t often dwell on the mundane parts of a character’s life. They skim over the irellevent stuff and focus on the important details. We have the luxury of seeing only the good bits. The character doesn’t get that. They have to work their way through life, and they don’t know the outcome. Just like us. They don’t know which details are the important ones, they can make a guess, but there’s no way to know for sure. Just like us. 

But what’s the point of telling your story if you don’t know where it’s going to end? What’s the point of waiting? Do you read the last page of a book before you even begin reading the first chapter? I used to think that my story was boring. I grew up in a fairly normal family. Nothing exceptionally tragic has ever happened. But two things happen when you begin telling your tale.

You find out what makes you special. If you never talk about your life with other people, they can’t give you feedback and tell you how weird you are. I knew having 5 siblings wasn’t normal, but I didn’t know living in 5 different states was remarkable. My dad was in the military, moving was normal until I talked to people who had lived in the same state, same town, or even the same house, their entire lives. 

 You find out that you are not alone. Whatever you think may make you an outcast, or unloveable, or weird, someone else is dealing with too. But until you start talking and opening up, both of you will think you are the only person that feels that way. This is why we have fandoms. If we didn’t talk about loving Firefly, we would think we were the only ones obsessing over a bunch of space cowboys. If we didn’t talk about the damage that fundamentalist mindsets do, people would keep getting hurt by them and think they were the ones in the wrong. But since we talk about it, we can find each other.

When you look at your life as a story, it’s easier to see personal progress. As I said in A Bubbling Brook, a well written character changes. You may not catch it, change often happens gradually. There isn’t always an ultimatum.  Just like in a story, you notice those in real life. That sudden instant of realization. Sure, these moments may be turning points, but you don’t just turn without preparing. If you did that while driving, you’d flip the car. If you do that while singing, your voice will probably crack. Without your consent or knowledge, your life so far is leading up to something. Don’t speak disparagingly about what will be your success story. 

Farm and Family, Musings

10 Reasons Growing Up in a Big Family Wins

My family has 6 kids. The dynamics of things are kind of different when you have this many people living under one roof. Dishes are mountainous. Laundry is unending. Privacy can be illusive. Ziplocks are a hot commodity, and I’m still not sure why. But even with things that could be perceived as hardships or inconveniences, life in a big family is pretty awesome. I found a Buzzfeed post the other night (don’t judge me) listing 23 things you get used to when you live in an above average family. Since a lot of my facebook friends are from large families, this sparked quite a hilarious conversation (primarily about food and socks). Since everyone seem to be challenging people lately, my mom challenged me to write a blog post of the 10 best things about living in a large family. The list was not allowed to be sarcastic, but could be humorous. Easy. Without further ado, roughly in order, but not really, my 10 favorite things about living in a large family:mylifeessgood

10. You have several personal book, movie, tv and music reviewers. I cannot tell you how many times one of my sisters (and even Adam every now and then) has sent me a link to a new song or artist. We compare Pandora stations. We send each other youtube videos. The number of books that have been thrown at me by my siblings isn’t too great yet, since I’m the oldest and self proclaimed family librarian, but there have been a few. For instance, Claire read The Hunger Games before either Meg or I did. Usually I’m the one who reads or watches something first, but I’m predicting that this will change once we are all grown up.

9. You have a built in study group. For most of my life, Meg and I have been at about the same skill level in most things. I understand some things better than she does, and she understands some things better than I do. We all bounce ideas for writing assignments off each other. Two heads are better than one, right? How much better would three or four head be?

8. You have a higher chance of being fashionable. This isn’t always true. At all. But I have noticed, at least in families with many girls, that the likelihood of someone having a built in fashion sense is fairly high. Some people have a friend with taste, I have a sister. Well, actually, I have three, each with their own sense of style. If I want to know what looks good on me, I ask Meg. If I want to find an epic t-shirt or other quirky-cool item, I ask Claire. If I want to just have fun, I’ll let Hannah dress me (If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed this).

7. You have a brute squad. “I’m on the brute squad.” “You are the brute squad!” Have you seen the new version of Yours, Mine, and Ours? There is a scene near the end where two of the boys are being harassed by some bullies at school, and one by one their siblings intervene. “That’s just ignorant.” “And you know how you get rid of ignorance?” “Butt-whoopin’.” Not that I condone violence or anything…

6. You learn how to fight fair. Come on, you know it’s true. Fighting happens even in the most peaceful homes. But this is simply part of life. You will, at some point, disagree with someone, probably get emotionally involved, and have to resolve the situation. I’m not saying fighting is a good thing, but since it happens throughout life, I’m figuring you may as well learn how to do it well. Getting involved with speech and debate is also very helpful, and actually made us fight less, and more efficiently. Siblings don’t always resolve their issues. There are plenty of estranged and strained relationships, but I would speculate that the majority of people with siblings have good relationships with them.

5. You learn how to live in a group setting. Obvious right? But after spending some time at camp, I realise how important of a thing this is. Once when we were discussing what to have for dinner, spaghetti was suggested. I stated that everyone hates spaghetti, and so other ideas were brought up. Mom brought spaghetti up again, and said she liked it. Then, one by one, every single member of my family betrayed me. “Everyone else likes spaghetti. Annie just hates it so much that she fills to room with her hatred.” I’m pretty sure we ended up having spaghetti that night. (for the record, I don’t hate spaghetti, I just don’t like to have it more than, say, once a month, and rarely choose it if there are other options.)

4. You have different perspectives on life events. You may have best friends that you grew up with, but even they probably weren’t there for everything. A brother or sister, even if they are older or younger, you probably share many of the same memories.

3. You develop a family lexicon and innumerable inside jokes. If we pull up to a drive-thru and someone shouts “Get out your coffeemakers!” don’t be surprised. In fact, if we say just about anything, and start to giggle or nod, just assume it is part of our family culture, smile, and carry on with your life. You can probably ask about it if you really want to know, but we may or may not even remember how the trend or saying got started. It’s just what we do.

2. You get to see kids grow up, without having to raise them yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I do want some littles of my own one day, but not yet. Having a toddler in the house, but being able to leave and not have to worry about him is just about the coolest thing ever (sorry Mom). You get to know humans in progress, and learn from them, and watch them be hilarious, but they are still your peers on some level, or at least they will be eventually.

1. You learn how to entertain.  When I was about 9 years old we lived in Middle-of-Nowhere KY, 30 minutes from a gas station. At this point there were only 3 of us, but we were still homeschooled and still fairly secluded. We had tv, but not cable, and PBS kids cut out in the middle of the afternoon. We had internet, but it was dial-up (I still got hooked on gaming… Very slow gaming.) I couldn’t read at this point either. This left us with essentially one option for occupying our free time (which, in all honesty, was most of  the time). We played, and we played hard. But this wasn’t just building mud villages and becoming dirt people. We learned how to not only entertain ourselves when there is nothing else to do, but also how to be generally entertaining. In life, if you can make people laugh and keep their attention, it doesn’t matter what you aim to do, people will notice you. And when people notice you, sometimes they give you a job, and sometimes you make relationships.

Well, there you have it. These don’t apply to all families. I know some families where the opposite of many of these points is true. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Having a big family is hard. We fight hard, we play hard, we love hard (“I love you SO HARD!”). And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Books and Movies, Musings

Sci-fi and Jesus

I love stories. I’m not only  a storyteller, I’m also a story collector. I don’t care if the tale is written, acted, or completely non-verbal. Stories are who we are. They are how we communicate our true, subconscious feelings. Anyone who has given me 5 minutes (whether in person or in my writing) knows that I interpret things differently from a lot of people. I’ve been known to use stories I’ve collected to explain ideas, often in ways that make heads spin. Science fiction is one of my favorite things to pull these bewildering pictures from.

170351e2d72bcdad2ade91c6ab0795f3I love it, because Sci-fi opens up the mind to ideas that seem just insane. Truth is ever so much stranger than fiction,  and it can be helpful in wrapping your brain around life. Take Doctor Who, for example. It is so beautifully full of allegories. My favorite is one that my Fairy Godmother told me.

Your heart is a TARDIS. It is bigger on the inside. It is old and new at the same time. Old, because it is also His heart. New, because you are a new creation and you are continually being renewed. It has more rooms than you could ever discover. There is more power in it than could ever be understood.

I think sometimes we get so caught up in this world that we try to fit everything into it. But, we aren’t simply earthly creatures, we are also creatures of a different realm. One with completely different physics. It’s weird. But it’s beautiful. If you can accept some of the crazy ways things work in stories, sometimes it’s easier to grasp concepts like grace. Grace really doesn’t make any sense. When someone has done wrong, you should retaliate or correct them. Grace not only seems foolish, it sounds unjust. But when you have accepted things like the fact that the TARDIS is unfathomably enormous, the idea that maybe our idea of justice isn’t exactly right isn’t as hard to grasp. Nothing is truly as it seems. There is so much we don’t know about our Magnificent and Glorious Life.

I know I’m hardly a nerd. I’ve been told that I really can’t even say that I like sci-fi because I haven’t read or seen certain things. But I don’t think you have to be super well versed in the genre to learn from it. Jesus is literally everywhere. He is so ingrained in the world that you only have to open your eyes. There He is.

Books and Movies, Musings

Melt

I finally saw Frozen last weekend. Several friends told me to watch it, so Hannah and I went on a little date.

There is so much more to this movie than I could possibly put in one post.

SPOILER ALERT

I have been coming to grips and learning who I really am. At the For Action Conference we did a lot of self examination and introspection. It has taken me a while to accept that this is a good thing and not self centered. In fact, to not take a good look at yourself is to ignore a certain bit of the image of God. You can’t be all you can be and use your gifts to help others without knowing who you are. Frozen was an amazing picture of my journey so far.

Elsa has a beautiful magic. As a small child she uses it and enjoys it. But then something happens and she is told that she must hide her gift. She puts up walls and keeps everyone out. She resents her gift.

I did very similarly. Our family bought into some very harmful teachings just as I was beginning to find my magic. I stopped showing emotion. Oh, sure. I never looked like it. At worst I was just shy. And, that’s ok for some people. But it’s not me. I lived “Concealed. Don’t Feel.” for 8 years. I remember the night that I decided I couldn’t share anymore, that I only hurt people when I did.

Elsa slips up and uses her magic. She runs away to the mountains. She’s alone, but it’s ok. Lonely freedom is better than life in a crowded box.

This summer when we changed churches I left my crowded box. I have been lonelier this school year than ever before in my life. As terrible as this sounds like it would be for an extrovert, I found the people who actually refuel me. These are people who think for themselves, who ask questions, and people I can relax with and talk to without feeling like a burden.

Elsa was forced to come back from her beautiful ice castle because others were hurting. She couldn’t just leave them there to suffer. She had her time in the castle to practice her gift, but in the end you can’t live alone. She has to go back to free the kingdom from the cold.

I’m leaving the castle now. I was forced. It would have been so easy to just stay alone in my frozen castle. I can’t sit idly by and let people hurt, especially when they hurt in ways that I used to hurt. It’s important to spend some time in the castle to learn who you are and to rest, but when you are done resting, it is time to move to action. Even if it just means being different, that is still action.

Elsa knew she had to leave her mountain, but once she got back to Arendalle she didn’t know how to end the winter. In the end she figured it out, and it looked obvious. Love. It wasn’t true loves kiss that broke this spell. It was love for her family and her kingdom.

I’m leaving my castle because I love. I love my sisters and brothers who are stuck in their crowded boxes. There isn’t room to find their magic, let alone use it. But I still love them. So I’ll come down.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know

Let it GO.

That perfect girl is gone.

Elsa’s love melted the kingdom.

I’m here to melt.

{PART 2: Frozen Heart}

Farm and Family

Beginning Blogging

I frequently see homeschooling moms using the blogosphere in writing assignments. I think writing is fantastic, and blogging is a great way to share what you write and get better. On the other hand, I don’t think blogging should be a school thing. If it is made into one then it becomes a chore. Writing a blog should be encouraged, but not forced. Talk to the child and ask if they want to start a blog. If not, leave it there. If you want them to try writing, have them write a short essay about a topic they like.  If they end up liking writing then maybe your could revisit the idea of a blog.

But let’s say your child is wanting to start a blog. How do you help them get started? Well first you will need to get them set up on a blogging site. The two main ones are WordPress and Blogger. I started out with Blogger and now use WordPress. Both are good, both have different strengths.

For a beginning blogger I would suggest using Google Blogger. It is simple. It is customizable, but not overwhelmingly so. There are more privacy settings. You can make it a public blog, an invite only blog, or a blog that only “authors” have access to. For someone who is relatively good with computers  I would suggest WordPress. Both are great and easy to use, but WordPress can be overwhelming.

Once you have a website set up, just let them write. As often as they want, whatever they want (within reason). I have imported almost every single blog post I’ve ever written to AndieBelle (I lost a few when my website crashed a few years ago and I moved over here). Every so often I go back and read my old posts. There are pages of bad poetry, vague recipes, run on sentences, spelling and grammar worse than what I have now, and content gaps that stretched for the better part of a year. It may not be the best content, but it is what got me started. If you pay attention, I actually still write about the same things, the quality is just usually better now.

Now all you have to do is hand them the reins and enjoy the ride. Don’t forget to comment on their posts and share it with everyone. Comments from adults are the most encouraging to a kid.