Tag Archives: Nostalgia

Who Are You?

One day this past weekend I hung out with a twelve-year-old kid who lives on our street. He was playing in his driveway with his six-year-old brother and their five-year-old friend. I was going for a walk and I heard U2 playing. The two little kids left after a little while, and one thing led to another. The kid in question plays, as far as I know, four different instruments, and is a much better guitarist than I am. He also knows how to use protools, which is an audio engineering software that professionals use. I can’t decide if it’s laughable or annoying or scary or what. Anyway, we had fun. He’s a really polite, pretty mature kid, for his age. After the little kids left I actually scurried back to my house and got my guitar so we could mess around for a while. I have no rules about who I’ll hang out with, as long as they’re cool.

I didn’t used to be like that. When I was in high school especially, I hated kids. I don’t think that’s an understatement. Kids were annoying and stupid, and that was it. Of course, at that time, a “kid” was anyone under the age of eight. Now I refer to the high school freshmen I teach as “kids.” It’s kind of disturbing. I think I used to have a much higher view of myself. I used to think I was the queen of the universe. It was entirely undignified to associate with such plebeians as children.

I think I understand kids better now as a writer, too. Kids are much more willing to believe things, so long as their capacity to listen holds up. I think you have to be able to believe something in order to enjoy it. You have to be able to pretend, and be willing to enter into a different universe.

A friend of mine who is older with kids once asked me what I thought about allowing his kids to read the Harry Potter books. He’s Christian, and he wasn’t totally inclined to let them because magic is seen as the highest power, and the battle between good and evil is entirely up to human ability. There is no mention of any kind of God (though the Christian holidays are mentioned offhandedly), and though there is a general sense of morality, like in any fantasy story, it isn’t directly spelled out. For example, I’m re-reading the series now, and I’m actually surprised at just how much the characters lie. Ultimately I advised my friend to let his kids read the books because it’s simply another universe that isn’t governed by the same rules as this one.

As I reread the Harry Potter books, I find myself laughing a lot. I’ve seen the movies a thousand times, but they’re not nearly as good as the books, and I’m finding they cut out a lot of humor. Maybe my sense of humor has changed too, but I think the movies tried to make the story too dark in places where it didn’t need to be, and not dark enough where it’s really creepy. I’m excited because I’m almost halfway through the fourth one now, and it’s after this one that things get serious, and in my opinion, the series gets more cohesive from book to book.

I don’t want this to turn into an analysis of the Harry Potter series, so I’ll make my point. I like these books. They’re meant for a younger audience, but I don’t care. My dad taught me a rule when I was in high school, and I have faithfully lived by it: growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. I used to get thoroughly annoyed with myself when I did something embarrassing. I used to think I was so dignified. I have no idea why. I’ve gotten used to the fact that I’m clumsy and silly. I spell things wrong and say ridiculous things. I make dumb mistakes. My friends laugh at me about this stuff, and that’s okay.

Mistakes are part of life. Messing up is part of life. Silliness is part of life, and being wrong is part of life. I’m writing this down because kids used to annoy me for the same reasons that my friends laugh at me (not in a mean way). In the past several months my mom and I have been listening to audio books in the car. We started doing mostly contemporary realistic fiction and moved, really by accident, into science fiction. We went for a few weeks without a story because I know she’s not a huge fan of sci-fi, and we couldn’t think of what to listen to. Finally I suggested The Brothers Karamazov. We just started it yesterday.

My point is that it’s okay to love Dostoevski and Rowling. It’s okay that my favorite foods are fancy pasta dishes and fried buffalo chicken wraps (for the record, yes, I also eat healthy food). I’m getting comfortable joining in events at my church where most other people are at least in their fifties, and hanging out with kids on my street who are under ten. The teenagers I teach think I’m kind of weird, which is probably at least a little true, but that’s okay. Lately I’m becoming more comfortable in my own skin. Weird is more fun, anyway.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

New Mythology

When I started this blog, I wrote a short, seven-part mythology that somewhat followed the creation, fall of humanity, battle for dominion, redemption narrative. In hindsight it wasn’t very good, but it was fun to write. Mythology and fantasy stuff in general always is. I mentioned in a previous post that my friend and I are going to be working on a fantasy podcast together. That still hasn’t got started, which is a bit annoying because neither of us are overwhelmingly busy; we’re just on different schedules. While I’m waiting for that to get going, I’ve had an idea for another project. I think college made me used to working on several projects at the same time, and quite frankly, sometimes writing my novel is tedious. To be completely honest, it takes place too much in the “real world.”

My newest project idea is another book, but it’s not a narrative. It’s a book of mythology. I’m going to split it up into several parts. Today I wrote out a table of contents, which is by no means complete, to help me figure out exactly what I want to do. So far, my idea includes: something along the lines of my original seven-part narrative, a section on Realms, a section on Spirits, a section on Creatures, a section on People, and a section on Places. This is the kind of project I’m best at, and I already have several ideas to start filling in a few of these sections. In particular, I want to use this to figure out who in the world the Falcon of Destiny is. Whenever I play D&D with my friends I request the Falcon of Destiny incessantly just to be a nuisance, but I have no idea who or what he is. I just like to call my bird the Falcon of Destiny because it sounds cool.

I also have a vague idea for a character simply called The Tree. Like the Falcon of Destiny, I’m not exactly sure what she does, but what I do want to do is make sure that all the characters in my mythology are at least somehow interconnected. They all matter to each other. The Tree wouldn’t be The Tree without the intervention of the Falcon of Destiny who charged her with the protection of (what I haven’t figured out yet). He did (whatever he did) to spare her from Fearolf who wanted to kill her (for what reason I don’t know). Like i said, I have to fill in the details, but my characters all mean something to each other.

The hardest thing for me will be making the map. I already have one significant description of a specific place, and once I have several significant places figured out, I’m going to have to explain how to get from point A to point B and what mundane things are between these places. I’m not good at figuring out reasonable distances compared to travel time, in particular. With this in mind, I’m thinking once I’m done writing all the descriptions and stories, I want there to be illustrations. It don’t want to just tell people who the Falcon of Destiny is, I want them to be able to see him. I don’t think finding an illustrator will be too hard for this, though.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

A Shared Story

When my mom and I got back to our neighborhood from running errands, my friend was outside his house, so I had my mom drop me there. We hung out in his yard for a little while, and then we went for a wander. Somehow we ended up talking about Mythic Island. It had nothing to do with what I’ve posted over the past few days, but by the time we got back to our neighborhood we had decided to go back. We used to play Mythic Island with a huge group of friends, but we’ve decided to keep it between the two of us. We’re going to treat it both as a story and as a real, significant world, as if it really does exist. After every adventure we’re going to talk about what happened and record our conversations so we can post it as a podcast.

This got me thinking. When we played Mythic Island, we treated it as real. We would bring things from this world into that world and vise-versa. We agreed that it would probably be a bad idea to allow things from that world to come into this one. This is really just for logistical reasons. We want to be able to shut the game off, as it were. We didn’t close the door to this world when we were in middle school, so we would often see dragons flying around on the highway and such.

For weeks now I’ve been trying to get my friends together to play through a D&D campaign I’ve been working on. We just can’t seem to get everyone together at the same time. I suspect I will be in charge of coming up with a lot of the Mythic Island story because I have more time, and I think I can use a lot of the same ideas. I’ll probably have to alter the plot quite a bit because my friend and I are largely coming up with the new chapter of the story together, and we’re basing it off of where we left off about ten years ago. Can you feel the nostalgia?

The idea of my D&D campaign was that several hundred years before the characters even come in, there was an epic war. The children of two brothers who were very prominent nobles became the rulers of two opposed kingdoms, and at one point, one of the kids killed his uncle. His father cursed him and created the Darkness. That kid’s soul was then tied to the Darkness and was not allowed to die. The ultimate goal of the campaign was to first find out that there is something more abstract called the Light, and then to find out that there is a soul tied to the Light. Once they learned this, the goal of the campaign would be to find the soul of the Light. That soul would then lead you on a mission to either destroy the Darkness along with the soul that is attached to it, or to convince the soul of the Darkness to befriend the Light, thus destroying the Darkness, but not the soul.

Of course I’m over-thinking the whole thing. I think the idea of playing a story instead of simply writing it is strange to me. When we played Mythic Island as middle school kids it was only natural. It’s like it’s foreign to me now because I haven’t done it for so long. I’m going to have to get used to it again.

We stopped playing this when we went to high school. That year I took an acting class, and I felt like I was terrible at it. I guess I never equated playing the story with acting, and if I had, I still don’t know how I would have graded myself. Granted, in that case I was playing myself in an imagined situation. D&D definitely has an aspect of role-playing, but we really don’t try very hard at it. We spend a lot of time just trying to figure out what the heck we’re supposed to be doing. I think the Mythic Island scenario will be interesting because we’re the Dungeon Masters as well as the players.

When we played it as kids we spent a lot of time running from the bad guys. We made our own lives difficult, but that made the game more fun. We know what’s going on in Mythic Island now, and once again, we’re intentionally making our lives difficult. The battles will be harder, and the bad guys will be scarier because we’re older, more sophisticated, and more creative. Of course this also means our solutions to problems and our schemes will be more complex. I’ve been wanting to do this and I’ve been trying to talk my friends into it for a year now. I’m so happy we’re going to be doing it.

I’m still going back and forth a little on how I feel about keeping it between the two of us. At one point in time we had a small army of friends with us. At the same time, we were the most invested in the story, and sometimes our other friends didn’t take it seriously enough. The nice thing about it is that this friend and I don’t often hang out without other people any more. The truth is, we really don’t have that much in common other than our shared obsession with Star Wars and our history with Mythic Island. The game started with just the two of us anyway. I don’t think it’s at all a coincidence that I started thinking about this more, lately.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Look At The Sky

The other day I realized just how much I stare at my phone. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but I realized that for the longest time, I had not looked at the sky. After realizing this, I realized just how much I don’t pay attention to as an adult that really seemed to matter when I was a kid. As a kid I would just sit and stare at the sky and think about a million things and nothing. It seemed like there was so much more in the world. I didn’t notice when I stopped doing that. I didn’t notice as the world became smaller and faster.

I’ve been trying to make a point to look at the sky now. I still don’t always remember. I think it’s important. I used to see pictures in the clouds. I don’t see pictures anymore, but I still think the sky is beautiful. I think it’s important to appreciate the things God made. If it wasn’t important, he wouldn’t have made things beautiful. The world could have been black and white. As an artist, I don’t always know why I make things or write things. I just can’t help it, and even though I don’t have an explicable reason for them, I love the things I make. I imagine God feels the same way, particularly about people who can love him back.

It’s funny that a lot of things in the world can keep you alive in one case, and can kill you in another. I like fire. At one point in time, fire was integral to the survival of the human race. In fact, for several years we’ve heated our house with a wood stove through the winter because it’s been cheaper. Fire is something I can still stare at for hours and think about nothing and everything. I like to play with fire. I like to watch stuff burn (yes I know that sounds weird) because it’s interesting and beautiful.

I’ve said this before, but I have over one hundred cousins of various removes, etc, so I just call them all cousins. Anyway, at camp this summer my mom had to explain to one of my cousins who has some form of developmental problem that he couldn’t touch fire. He understood that it would hurt him, but he thought he could run to the lake and put it out before it got too hot. Like me, he thought fire was beautiful and interesting and just wanted to understand it better.

Two years ago, when we had a record-breaking winter, my dad went hiking and made a video. It was snowing and sub-zero on the mountain, but my dad had the time of his life. He loves cold and snow. When I was a kid I liked it. Listening to the weather forecast and hearing seventies and eighties instead of eighties and nineties makes me a little sad these days. At the same time, a part of me is hoping for another record-breaking winter. If it has to come, I’d rather it come in full force. When we got Seamus, we tried to give him some snow to play with. He was afraid of it. He’s a really stupid bird.

I wonder if it’s easier to appreciate things when you think about how you relate to those things, or when you project yourself into a story or an idea or a situation. In my last post I talked about Mythic Island. There was a specific way in which to get there. You had to build a fairy house. Fairies would show up and live there, and in return for building them a house, they would do things for you. In particular, they would create a magical portal that would allow you to get to Mythic Island. A fairy house is a tepee made of sticks and leaves and things. The better the fairy house, the more fairies it would attract. The more fairies you had, the more they could do for you. When we hung out in the woods as kids we would think about these things, and we would build fairy houses just to be nice. We had more of a reason for being there.

I think it’s harder to relate to the world when our worlds are our computers. On Facebook and WordPress and wherever else we “exist” we create the versions of ourselves that we want that particular world to see, and we see the manufactured versions of everyone else. We can look at pictures of clouds and fire, but they’re no substitute for the real thing. When I started playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, it was like going back to Mythic Island. At the time, though, things from Mythic Island would come into the “real world” and we had to help dragons get back home. I guess maybe that made the world seem a little bigger, too.

What I didn’t realize as a kid was that the world is really big. It’s just my little piece of it that’s small. In Mythic Island we could ride our dragons hundreds of miles in a day, we were powerful, and time didn’t make sense. It was our world, and that’s why it seemed so much bigger than the “real world.” I guess I just kind of miss being amazed by the sky. The world really hasn’t changed. I’m just more easily distracted, and ironically, I think I’m less patient in some ways. For the longest time I didn’t want a cell phone. Everyone my age (eleven or so) had one, but I didn’t care. Then when smart phones became a thing my mom practically had to force me to get one. And a few days ago I realized that I forget to be amazed by the sky.

Don’t forget to be amazed. Even if you’ve looked at something a million times, look at it again. Listen to that song you love again. Smell those flowers. Climb that mountain. Eat that cookie. Go back to Mythic Island.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

To My Ten-Year-Old Self

I saw a post on Facebook by an acquaintance who was going to be speaking at a fifth grade “graduation”. He asked for people to comment on what they would have liked to know when they were ten. I think there are quite a few things I would like to tell my ten-year-old self. I don’t remember a whole lot about that year in particular, but I know things now that would have been helpful to me then.

I didn’t feel very confident in myself back then. I allowed people to make bad decisions for me, mostly regarding my education. Granted, I was ten, but I think even then I knew that these decisions were wrong. I didn’t protest. I didn’t complain. I just assumed that everything would turn out the way it was supposed to. It wasn’t until I was fourteen that I learned to say “No” on my own. Part of the problem was that I was lazy, and this perpetuated the problem. I could have, and should have complained much sooner. I would tell my ten-year-old self not to be lazy, and to protest loudly.

I don’t know if I would have re-done my eight years from middle to high school. I like the way I’ve turned out. If I had to re-do it, though, I would probably tell myself to try and be more outgoing. The fact of the matter is, I’m shy, and back then, I was downright anti-social. I probably would tell myself to be more forgiving, too. I had fairly good reasons for it, but I tended to be a bit of an angry kid sometimes. This contributed to my anti-social tendencies. People didn’t often directly pick on me, but they did pick on my friends, and I took it as a personal offense. I would tell myself to try and be a peacemaker.

I also would tell myself not to care what other people thought of me. I would tell myself to be as weird and imaginative as I wanted, and I would tell myself to write my crazy ideas down. I would tell myself to keep a journal. I had a journal in my computer through middle school, but for some reason, I never wrote down anything happy. I only wrote miserable stuff, so I would tell myself to focus on the good. I also would tell myself to read more, even though it felt tedious at the time, because stories are soul candy.

Along with that, I would tell myself to read the Gospels, and I would tell myself to ask questions about God. I would try to explain to myself that Jesus is alive, and that he’d always be my friend. If I had known that back then, I would have been a lot happier, especially through high school. I would try to tell myself that the Gospel isn’t just another story. That’s how my church made it sound. CCD was just extra school, and the Gospel was just another myth. I would have liked to hear about Jesus’ human relationships; his interactions with other people; his friends; his parents. He was always distant. Sure, he was God, but I never really grasped that he was and is a man, and a friend. I don’t know how I would explain that to a ten-year-old, but it’s definitely something I wish I had known.

I would like to tell my ten-year-old self that she’s a nerd, and that it’s totally okay to be a nerd.

I would tell my ten-year-old self that being a girl doesn’t mean you have to be “girly” by default (I wanted to be a boy when I was a kid).

I would tell her that miracles are totally a thing, but they don’t always look like what you’d expect.

I might also tell her that God has a plan for her, but it most likely doesn’t involve getting married. I wasn’t even thinking about boys when I was ten, but it would save me a lot of pain later.

I might tell her that her brother was going to like metal, and that no matter how hard she tried, she would never like metal–ever.

That’s all I can think of for now.

 

Where I Never Thought I’d Be

Today I got an email about graduation, and if you had told me nearly four years ago that it would make me feel nostalgic, I would have laughed in your face. The fact of the matter is, I guess I am going to miss Gordon a little. Maybe it’s because I don’t really know what the next step is; maybe it’s because this really is the end of school for me (though definitely not the end of learning); maybe I’m going to really miss some of the friends I’ve made (mostly professors); maybe I’m just getting older and I’m starting to realize that I’m really not a kid anymore.

Earlier today I was thinking about marriage. It occurred to me that I literally had no idea what the point of bridesmaids was, so I had to ask my mom–apparently their purpose is to stand there and look pretty. I’m a girl. I can’t help it. I sometimes think about getting married, despite the fact that I don’t, and never have had a boyfriend. I was just fantasizing on the way to class about who I would pick to be my maid of honor. My immediate inclination was to pick my best friend, but then I thought of my cousins, and it might be a little weird not to pick one of them. Again, I have no idea why I was thinking about this.

Last night I had a dream that I was in the English Army, and we were invading France, except for some reason we had to traverse mountains instead of the English Channel to get there. They were also not normal mountains, but Minecraft mountains, which I find really odd because I was not playing Minecraft last night. In fact, I haven’t played Minecraft very recently. Anyway, I got separated from the group I was with and captured. Then I got sent to a correctional facility for the mentally unstable, even though I’m quite ordinary, thank you very much! I spent quite a while trying to escape, and I was finally helped by the son of one of the people who ran the place. Then my mom and aunt and little cousin came and got me. It seems like I’ve spent a lot of time in dreams lately as the damsel in distress. I’m not sure why that is, and I’m not sure I like it. I have no interest in being someone’s damsel in distress in real life. Actually, I’ve spent an obnoxious amount of time fantasizing about being the hero of this story. Realistically, I guess I’ll probably end up being a little bit of both.

At the end of every semester at school, up until probably last semester, I found myself saying “maybe next semester,” meaning maybe someone will ask me out, or maybe I’ll become friends with someone and eventually ask them out. I guess I gave up on finding someone at school. The email I got turned out not to be very relevant to me. One of the things the sender was asking for was pictures from all four years we (the seniors) have been there. I literally don’t have any Gordon College pictures. The second thing was ideas about a class gift: something the seniors would put together to donate to the school. I guess I don’t really care what we donate. The third thing was that they were looking for 12 volunteers to speak at either the baccalaureate ceremony or senior breakfast. I guess I don’t have a whole lot I’d want to say.

I actually had an awesome experience at Gordon. I learned a lot, I read a lot, and I changed a lot. My classes were great, and like I said, I made some really good friends. Gordon just wasn’t home for me. Gordon was school, and to some degree, Gordon was church. I didn’t share a dorm with someone, so there wasn’t a strange girl who, over the years, became my sister. There wasn’t a guy who lived in my building and was in a bunch of my classes who became my brother, or my boyfriend. There wasn’t a club that I got super involved in. Instead, I went to the music studio on Wednesday nights for two years and recorded an album, and Ken became my brother. Instead I hung out with my extended family on the weekends and went up to Maine a whole lot.

Some might say I missed out, but I don’t regret any of it. This is the end of my schooling. After this semester I will never again be a full time student. I might go back to Gordon periodically, though. I do like taking classes, and apparently it’s super cheep for alumni to audit classes there. I think that would actually be a really cool thing to do. It’ll be super laid back, I can take one class at a time, and I won’t be obligated to take classes in any particular program.

I’m a normal 21 year old. I’m nervous about making music work, I’m nervous about finding a job if it doesn’t, and I’m nervous about finding a boyfriend/husband. I’m nervous, but I also know somehow that everything will be just fine. It will be. I will not fail, the world will not end, and everything will be okay.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

15 Years + 2 Girls = A Lot Of Weird

To be honest I didn’t think I was going to make it this far. I’m about 2/3 of the way done with my final project for my American Lit class, which is definitely going to be my hardest one. I’m almost done with my paper for Music in Worship and I already passed in my creative writing final. Other than that I just have to study for my Romanticism exam, which I don’t think will be too hard. I’m DONE on Wednesday.

I’m very excited because my friend is going to make me a cake and we’re going to watch “I Am Legend.” It was on TV on Friday, but my cousins were over and they don’t like scary end of the world movies. It’ll be sort of a birthday party as well since Julia turned 20 today. We’re both officially 2 decades old and we’ve been friends for 15 years. We’re practically sisters. I’ve always thought it would be weird to have a sister, but I don’t think it would be weird to live with Julia. She’s stayed over for entire weekends before. We hung out in the basement and played Spyro and probably listened to Green Day. Between the 2 of us we probably own every Green Day album. We went through a serious emo-punk phase in middle school.

I got Julia a book for her birthday. I read “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” in high school and I really liked it. I saw the movie a few weeks ago with my mom and I thought Julia would like it. A few days later she came over and we ended up talking about books. She said something along the lines of “Yeah, I don’t know why, but I’ve been into depressing books lately,” and I said, “Oh, good you’ll like what I got you for your birthday then.” “You got me a depressing book?” We laughed.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

My Old Man

Well guys, “Replace My Empty Spaces” just became a family project! I was talking to my mom in the car a couple days ago about how the album is coming along because I’m going to need to bring in some backup for “Nostalgia.” My friend, Nate played Piano on “You Answered” for me, but now I need someone to play strings. As much as I hate spending money, whether it’s my own or my parents’, I’m going to have to hire one of the other guys from the studio.

I also mentioned that I would like to have a male harmony singer on “Nostalgia,” so my mom started going through the list of people we know. We don’t know too many singers. Nate is away at college, and Nick has a weird voice; great for choir music, not so much for Folk-Rock. Then she started going through the list of family members who would be willing to learn to sing. The only person we could think of was my dad. I’m setting him up with a few lessons with the guy who taught me.

It’s so perfect because “Nostalgia” is about growing up and feeling old. I call my dad “Old One” too his face and he’s totally cool with it. My dad and I are like two peas in a pod, as lame as that expression is. Neither of us have any intention of actually growing up. It might mean holding off on finishing the song for a little while, but It would be really cool to have my dad sing on my record.

P.S.

Apparently this is my 100th post! 🙂

The Big One

Yesterday I went to the studio and worked on my song “Nostalgia.” I talked with Ken and I told him that I’ve been thinking about having a release party at the Gulu Gulu cafe, which is a small venue in Salem that does open mics on Wednesdays.

Well, Ken told me that he knows a guy who books people in venues throughout the Boston area and said if I could promise a big enough crowd that he could get me a much bigger gig. If I get enough people I might be able to go second or third in a line up.

Within my family I could easily bring in 60 people. I could bring in a few neighbors and of course there are my friends. Before the big event I’ll probably go to a bunch of open mics and let everyone know what’s up. That might at least bring a few people. If any of you guys who read this blog are in the area I would love to have you.

I normally play solo at smaller gigs since I don’t have a ton of time to play live because of school, but for this event I’m going to try and get a band together. It will probably consist of myself on rhythm guitar and vocals, Ken on drums and my buddy Nate on either bass or lead guitar and possibly vocals. It’s looking like we’re probably going to need to find a bass player. Also, you can check out some of Nate’s originals here https://soundcloud.com/search?q=nate%20shaffer.

Unfortunately the album is only halfway done,  and I don’t really know when it will be finished, but I’m hoping to kick this thing into high gear and get it done ASAP. Yesterday we got a lot of work done on “Nostalgia.” Once that’s done I’ll have four songs to go, at least one of which should be a quick finish. Just thinking about this is exciting! If you guys are super interested I’ll  update more on the music side of life, but if not I’ll just keep writing about random shenanigans.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!