Monthly Archives: November 2015

Bitter Sweet

At this time last year I was bitter. Excitement over Christmas begins in September, and it often feels like the secular universe has stolen a Christian holiday. Last year I couldn’t celebrate. It just felt fake and empty. To some extent it is, but only if we let it be. As usual, a lot of my nonChristian friends and family started going Christmas crazy in September. My initial reaction was irritation, and I’ve just had to begrudgingly ignore it for the past several months.

Then something came to me. Being bitter about the secularization of Christmas would be admitting defeat. I love Christmas. I love what it truly represents. I love going crazy with decorations. I love the way Christmas trees smell. I love hanging out with my family. It was like Reason said to me: “Kiddo, don’t be bitter. Be happy. Celebrate if you want to. You know what it’s for, so don’t resent it. You’re meant to celebrate. Go nuts.” So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be just as annoyingly happy as everyone else, and I’m going to remind the world why we do this.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly.

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Follow Through

On Saturday I was having some issues with my epilepsy, which took a little while to fix, and then I went to a writer’s group, specifically for science fiction writer’s. They meet once per month in Newton MA, which is about half an hour from where I live. I was the youngest person there by 20 years, and the oldest person there could have been my grandfather. They seemed like a really cool group of people. The age difference didn’t bother me. I just found it kind of amusing. We met in a little cafe, and it was noisy, so next month we’re potentially going to meet at my house. It was nice to have a good, stimulating conversation about a genre that I enjoy and care so much about. I’ve really missed this because I haven’t been in school since this past spring. It was also kind of intimidating because, being so much older than me, these people have read so much more than me and their heads are full of so much awesome stuff. It was so nice, though, because they’re weren’t condescending at all. I think they’ll be great mentors.

I’ve been talking to a lot of people about my book lately. It just has seemed to come up a lot in conversation. Sometimes I feel awkward telling people that I just graduated and am now writing a science fiction novel because it doesn’t sound like a real job. It’s often difficult to treat it like a job. It’s not always fun, but it’s also very flexible in terms of when I work and for how long, and what I do while I’m working. Sometimes I research technology, sometimes I research politics, sometimes I spend an hour on Google maps just plotting out where specifically things are happening and how those things will affect my story, sometimes I just work on notes, sometimes I work on the timeline of events, sometimes I write a whole chapter in one go.

The more I talk about writing this story, the more interested people seem to be. Sometimes I find it difficult to just sit down and write, but lately I’ve felt more excited, partly because people want me to finish it so they can read it. I know it certainly won’t be for everyone. It’s a science fiction novel, which in the literary world is often disregarded as nothing more than entertainment. I’m trying very hard to make this story important and intellectually stimulating. I want it to matter. It takes place in a post post-apocalyptic society, which means the world has already fallen apart, but now people have started to figure things out, and they’re rebuilding. I’m using this environment to explore a few different ideas. One aspect of my story is essentially a thought experiment about what happens to war when the military becomes automated (i.e. what happens if we have robot, or in this case, super-clone soldiers). Another thing I’m trying to do is expose some stigmas and unfair ideas and policies surrounding people with disabilities. Thirdly, I’m taking a look at what the world might be like in the absence of any religion or sense of a spiritual existence. Obviously I’m a little or a lot bias, but I’m trying to let my characters take the lead, and they’re turning into some very interesting people.

I was telling my dad about all of this earlier today and he told me that I just need to follow through, and that I often seem to have trouble with that. I start a project and then when things get too complicated I chicken out. I don’t feel like that’s entirely fair. He was referring to my musical endeavors, which have, at least for the time being, been put on hold. I’ve thought it through and a successful musical career doesn’t seem manageable. It’s not like I haven’t tried, but for one thing, it’s a colossal investment, which is something I presently can’t afford. Secondly, I can’t get gigs. I’ve tried. I really have. I’m just tired of being ignored in that department, so for the time being, I give up. Thirdly, I don’t think I can reasonably do it, physically. Say, theoretically, I became successful enough to go on tour. Right now I get tired after playing for an hour, so if I were to play longer shows, I would have to physically prepare for that, but beyond that, I can’t be having epilepsy symptoms in the middle of a song. It has occasionally happened at open mics, and it sucks. That kind of stuff would be way more manageable at book signings or what have you, assuming my book does well enough. Fourth, I already have connections in the literary world that I don’t have in the musical world, and I know more about publishing, etc. Lastly, I don’t want music to be work. I love it too much, I know I’m good at it, and I just want to share it; I don’t care if I get paid. I don’t want to treat it like a business because I want it to stay pure, kind of like this blog.

I will follow through with my story. I have thought it through and in so many ways it seems like a much more reasonable option, and it seems like I have a much better chance at getting noticed. I have until the end of next summer to finish it, which should be plenty of time. I know, at least basically, how the rest of the story is going to play out, and the later parts are going to be a lot of fun to write. I even have ideas for possible sequels. Even if this doesn’t do great in terms of payoff, it cost me nothing to make, and I will still consider it a success because this will be the best thing I’ve ever written when I’m done with it. It will need a lot of revision because I’m a perfectionist, but that just means it’s going to be great.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

We Should Be Nice

My friend asked me to help her with a research paper. The topic is whether or not the U.S. should welcome Syrian refugees into our borders. I told her that I don’t know a lot of the details, and honestly, I don’t know the extent of the dangers that this could cause. All I know is that I am 200% for helping these people. All I can give right now is a moralistic argument, but here it is.

A lot of people in this country don’t want to let refugees into our borders for one reason: they’re scared. They are afraid that potential terrorists are hiding among the people who honestly just need a safe place to go. One argument I have repeatedly heard in favor of admitting the refugees is that their situation appears very similar to that of the Jews during World War 2. The counter argument is that it is actually a very different situation because the Jews were a clearly defined, and clearly innocent group of people. It would be absurd to expect any of them to do anything violent and troublesome. However, I think many who are opposed to bringing in any refugees forget that the majority of these people really are innocent. We can’t lock the doors to all of them just because some of them might be bad. We must help the innocent and needy. We need a proper and effective screening process that is also efficient so that we can get these people into a stable situation as soon as possible.

While there is and always will be a threat of terrorists sneaking in among the refugees, we have to remember that it really isn’t all that difficult for ISIS to influence American citizens to do their work for them. They target isolated and marginalized people who are seeking an outlet to express their frustration. Many isolated people simply want to belong to something, and if they are convinced that they are important to a holy war, and that they will be greatly rewarded, they may and have been led to do horrible, violent things. These could be French, English, or American citizens who feel that they belong nowhere else and that they can succeed at nothing else. ISIS recruits these people through commonly used social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and through other less known outlets as well. They have people who are very technologically savvy and can communicate and transfer funds and information across the globe without being detected via the dark web (a closed system that avoids using sites that are detectable by search engines–for more information on the dark web, go here: Dark Web). So while there is a danger of radicalized Syrians coming into our country, there is always a danger of ISIS radicalizing our own people.

Lastly, the U.S. has seen a lot of violent crimes perpetrated by American citizens. Young American people who are frustrated with life go into schools and movie theaters what seems like several times a year sometimes, and kill as many people as they can. While we don’t know their motives, we have to realize that this is a result of isolation. People who have healthy relationships, stable home lives, and a network of support to help with any mental health problems they may have, don’t do these things. It is the people who are neglected and ignored who end up resorting to violence. In this situation, we can all take some of the blame. Our citizens simply don’t want to deal with these people because we’re too busy or because we don’t want to get into an uncomfortable situation, our government doesn’t help because they don’t have enough money, or because they don’t know how, and our religious institutions, Christian, Muslim, or whatever else, don’t get involved because of the complicated theological and existential implications, and because their leaders are inadequately trained to deal with these kinds of issues. Refusing to accept refugees is not going to stop violent crime in this country.

The ultimate solution to our problem is to be careful, but also to be loving. We can increase productivity and the overall happiness of our people, including those we help from other countries, by developing a more inclusive, more caring society. Ultimately what will solve our problem is a change within ourselves. We need to be willing to do two things: get over our fear, and sacrifice a little of our time. We can be kind and loving while still being practical, but we need to be intentional about it. We need to make conscious choices about how we act toward every other person. I’ve had this conversation with my dad over and over: if we could just show our enemies how prosperous our nation is and how happy our people are overall, we might change their minds about us. Our country was built by immigrants and refugees. By not helping our Syrian friends, we are proving our enemies right about us.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!I

Hey, Terrorists

Hey, terrorists. I want to talk to you. My name’s Katie, and you know what? I’m Christian. Guess what else? I graduated college. I’m writing a book, and I’ve got paid money to be on stage and play music for people. I bet you hate that. You know what the best part is? I’m not afraid of you. You probably see me as broken. You see me as an infidel, and there is no doubt in my mind that you would kill me if we crossed paths on the wrong day. I don’t hate you, though. I am angry with you, but I don’t hate you. In some ways I feel bad for you.

You don’t know my God, so you don’t know love. You’ve never known freedom. You’ve never known peace. Your lives revolve around war. All you want to do is kill people for your insane deity. I have a secret for you. Freedom and peace come when people can accept each other’s differences and get along. You are my enemies. You made that clear when you started attacking and killing my fellow Christians in Syria and Iraq and other places, and later when you made me worry for the safety of my friends in France. I don’t hate you. My God told me to love my enemies. My God told me to pray for my enemies, so I’ve been praying for you.

I’ve been praying that you would change. I’ve been praying that you would know the love and joy that you would find in the presence of my God. Your god is distant. Your god demands death and destruction, and your god will never be satisfied. My God loved you before you were born. My God loves you now, and my God will love you no matter what. He made you in his image. He made you in the image of love. That’s what he wants you to do. He wants you to love. He doesn’t want you to destroy. He wants you to show kindness to those you disagree with. He wants you to help the people who have nothing. He wants you to repent and give him the glory he deserves. Only love can create a perfect world, not your so-called holy war. Just stop. Just give it up. Isn’t that easier? No one else has to fight. No one else has to die. No one ever has to be alone ever again.

You call your fighters martyrs. You’re not dying for your god. You’re dying for your own ego. You’re dying because your leaders told you to. The real martyrs are the Christians you’re killing for believing in love. You can’t possibly be devoid of love or remorse. There must be a part of you that knows this is wrong. You are human. If nothing else, that makes us family. You are my family, and I will not hate you. Like me you have a family. Like me you were once a silly, imaginative child. Like me you must have someone or something that you love. Like me you believe in a greater purpose. We are a lot more alike than you would ever like to admit, I know. I bet if you and I sat down to coffee one day we’d find something interesting to talk about. I bet we could have a civilized conversation. Isn’t that easier? Doesn’t that sound nice? Stop fighting. Just think about it.

 

New And Old Favorites

I came across a video game review I did several years ago on here while looking through old posts, just being nostalgic. I gave a list of my all-time favorite games at the tame and explained why, so I figured it would be fun to do one now.

The list back then:

Jack and Daxter
Spyro (original trilogy)
Spyro (new trilogy)
Crash Team Racing
Crash Warped
Crash Bash
Journey

I came up with this list at the time because I was feeling nostalgic, but some of the games on this list are still favorites.

The list now:

Spyr0 (first game)
Crash Team Racing
Journey
Minecraft
Oblivion

I like the first Spyro game because it’s incredibly simple and easy and you can beat the whole thing in a few hours–well, until you get to Tree Tops. I forget how to beat that level every time I play it. I eliminated the two sequels from my list because they add in gimmicky complications that I personally think make the whole process a little less fun. Most of the game is pretty mindless, and sometimes I just enjoy a mindless game. All you have to do, really, is wander around, collect treasure, and occasionally fight bosses that are really pretty easy to kill.

I like Crash Team Racing because my dad and i get really competitive about it. It’s just something we do together. He comes home from work, we watch the news for a little while, and then we play Crash. As with Spyro, it’s incredibly simple and relatively mindless, so we usually talk about stuff or trash talk unnecessarily while we play. It’s basically like Mario Kart, only easier, and requires less effort.

Journey is probably even more simple than the two games I just talked about. The purpose of the game is to get to the shiny mountain. You just wander through several levels until some spirits who are showing you visions throughout the game help you to fly through the last level to get to the top. You would almost think a game like this would be boring, but it’s actually beautiful. It’s visually stunning, and the soundtrack is amazing. In fact, I sometimes just listen to the soundtrack while working on things because I like it so much. The nice thing about this game, too is that it only takes about an hour and a half to play through the whole thing. Furthermore, there are little things you can do within the game that can add to it, but are not necessary. If you want to, you can search for images that help tell a story (based on your interpretation), and shiny symbols that make your scarf longer, which in turn allows you to fly higher and longer. Again, though, you don’t have to do these things. If you just want to book it to the shiny mountain, you can.

Minecraft has been around for a while now, and while I don’t play it nearly as much as I used to, I still consider it one of my favorite games. Sometimes I just like to listen to music or podcasts while building my kingdom. What I like about Minecraft is that it’s fun by yourself or with playmates. I like working on projects with my brother and cousin, but I also like to just do my own thing. It’s also fun that there are different game modes. I tend to find survival mode more fun while playing with others because it adds a little complication that makes cooperation necessary, while I find creative mode more fun by myself because it allows me to build stuff more quickly without having to worry about starving to death.

I only recently started playing Oblivion. It’s definitely the most complicated game on my list, but in some ways I find that refreshing. Playing oblivion is really like entering a whole new world where magic and goblins and other strange creatures are totally a thing. I like that the world is complicated. You can have a hundred things going on all at once, and in some ways, the stories intersect. You acquire quests right when you’re in the middle of something important. The nice thing about it is that you can do things at your own pace. I also like creating a story around my character, which this game not only allows, but encourages. You can join guilds and by doing so, create enemies, and what you do matters. I’ve played other role-playing games, namely MMO’s, but I’m also liking that this game is single-player because the focus is on my character. She’s actually significant, and I have to be careful about who I piss off.

Well, that’s it for now!

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Plan B: Pass It On

Last night it hit me. Young people in the modernized, western world are turning to ISIS for stability, community and answers instead of the Church. Something needs to be done about that. Obviously that isn’t always the case, but the fact that it happens at all is a serious problem that is getting overlooked. My original plan was to start working on my own “propaganda” to try to bring people to Christ instead of the Islamic State. As most of my plans are, this was overly ambitious. I’m just one woman, and I don’t have the know-how to do it properly. My plan B, which probably should have been plan A, is this:

Lord, there are people in this world who really need you right now. They need to know your love and your peace. Please make sure that they find you. Direct them to your Church, and not to violence. Direct them to love. Use your people, Lord, and let us be loud. Let us be your voice. Give us the tools and the words; give us whatever it is we need to bring in the lonely, the weird, and the wounded. Lord, don’t let hate and despair grow in their hearts. Fill that space with your love and lead your people to Jesus–all your people. Lastly, please heal those people who have already chosen violence. Show them that this is not what you want for them. Show them that what they are doing is wrong, and show them that you still love them. Overwhelm them with your love. Let there be peace and forgiveness among enemies. Let us be one, all together under one God. Don’t leave anyone behind, Lord, and don’t let us leave anyone behind.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

So my plan only works if you pass it on. Peeps! Pray this, too, and then share it on your on blog or Facebook or whatever else you use, and bug your friends.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!