Thursday, October 20, 2016

I'm Not Sorry Anymore

   For a while I was planning to write this post and it was going to be called "I'm Sorry (Again.)" because it was essentially a re-writing of my post "I'm Sorry". I've been coming to this realization time and time again. It's almost like clockwork, how often I think those things that were in that post. Lately I've been feeling like I screwed up and that I've fallen short of those expectations that others have for me. I had wanted to publicly apologize again for not meeting "the standard." (Whatever that even is.) I even started writing it out too. I showed all the ways I have fallen short over the past few months. I was going to go on about the fact that I drifted from church, from some of my friends, that I've gotten disconnected from a lot of things; that saying "God" felt foreign rolling off my tongue, that my bible has collected a considerable amount of dust. I was going to tell you all that I am a failure and that I'm, once again, not the hero you wanted me to be.

   I'm not the perfect Christian the adults in my church want me to be. I'm not the best sister to my siblings. I'm not the best daughter. I'm not the best friend or the best ministry leader or the best jr high leader or heck, I'm not even the best blogger. I have fallen short of all these expectations; the ones I have from other people and even the ones I have for myself. I'm not always the person I want to be.

   And I'm learning to deal with that. 

   I'm not where I want to be but thank God I'm not where I was. That's how that saying goes, doesn't it? There's another one I've been seeing a lot. "I've been learning to let the place between where I am and where I want to be inspire me and not terrify me."

   I'm learning to let my doubts strengthen my faith instead of weaken it. I've been allowing myself time to acknowledge my shortcomings. I'm starting to see I don't need to be a fake person. 

   I walked into church two weeks ago for the first Sunday in like a month. I was scared the night before; I was worried it wasn't going to feel like home and I wouldn't be able to connect with the people anymore because I had been away for so long. I had thought, once again, that God was waiting for me; crossing His arms, shaking His head. Maybe I thought the people were going to be like that too. But I got there and I cried the entire sermon and through most of the music. It made me feel like myself again. For the millionth time I realized that no matter how far away I get, God will always want me back. I realized that I am exactly the hero He needs me to be. In my sin, dirtiness, flaws; all of it. This is where I can really be of use. It's actually in that mess where I'm best suited for the job. This is where I am humbled enough to let go of my pride and stop pretending I'm so great and have it All Together.

   I don't think my church or my school or the world need one more individual who pretends to be okay. 

   The truth is, I'm scared to mess up because people are watching me. I have siblings that look up to me, I'm a jr high leader, there are girls at my church I want to help. It's not just myself I have to look out for and that terrifies me. But I thought about how I want to be the person I needed when I was younger. Younger Faith didn't need someone to sugar coat stuff for her; little me needed someone who was strong and not afraid to admit when she was wrong. She needed someone who was brave enough to be themselves, unapologetically; flaws and all. I needed someone who didn't use that as a free pass to keep messing up, but used it as a way to move on. 

   That's what I want to be.

  I'm done apologizing to you for not meeting your expectations. I am not like my brother or my best friend or my mom; I'm not going to be the next church success story or whatever. I'm going to be me. I'm the girl with a mouth. (even though she's working on it.) I go on feminist rants, my music swears sometimes, I have my belly button pierced, I'll probably get more tattoos, I have my issues and doubts about Christianity as an organized religion, I love arguing, (so please don't tempt me I'm trying to stop.) I create art that deals with taboo things like sex, sometimes my clothes aren't perfectly modest, I have a hard time setting boundaries for anything, sometimes I blatantly ignore advice from the bible and from friends, and you know what? I am loved and accepted by God anyway. Yes, I screw up and sometimes most of the time I know better. But hating myself will get me nowhere. Constantly apologizing will get me nowhere. Instead, I'm adopting a new philosophy that says I am allowed to make mistakes and I can have grace for myself. I am trying to get better. It's two steps forward, one step back. And I am learning to love myself as much in the backward steps as I do in the forward ones. 

   Every day I realize more and more the meaning of the phrase "take me as I am."

   So if you're like me, I want you to know that you're not alone. Seriously. I know so many people share this same fear as I do; that's why I wanted to address it. I wish we could have serious dialogue about the things we're going through. You do not have to be perfect to be accepted. Honest people are the best kind of people; and that's what I've always striven to be.

   It's for this reason I've given up on apologizing to everyone for every little thing I do. As twenty one pilots says, "We're broken, we're broken people."

   I think I'm finally okay with that.

Monday, September 26, 2016


   Today I turned 20. That's so weird to me because sometimes I still swear I'm 16. This year I'm not really doing anything on my actual birthday and I'm content with that I think. Maybe that's what happens when you become an adult. You become content to just go to school and work and drink coffee. Honestly, my life has been so hectic and full, in the best sense of those words, so just having a day with minimal obligations is quite freeing.

   Yesterday was my last game day at Wrigley, which went by in a very bittersweet way. This summer has been the best one of my life; no exaggerations. I've found myself saying that a lot. Each thing I do is the best thing I've ever done, but so is everything else. I love that even though I cry a lot, my heart is filled with joy. My life hasn't changed in the sense that my circumstances are any different, but my perspective has shifted dramatically. I still get triggered, but I handle it. I still get anxious, but I try to look past the moment. I still cry, but I know I won't cry forever. Bad things still happen, but they don't have an effect on the good things.

   I have learned to live, and I think that's really important.

   I have had so many beautiful moments the past few months and I wish I could record every single one of them to remember them forever, but I couldn't possibly keep up. I am so excited that I have found a life I am in love with. A life so beautiful I forget to take pictures and I forget to journal about it. I have fallen in love with art again and seen so much of it lately and felt it in my chest again. I forgot how much I love those little things. I am sketching for the first time since middle school. I'm taking photos. I'm writing and creating worlds in my mind again. I have been stepping out of my comfort zone lately; acting more like who I want to be and less like who I used to be. I am actively moving forward.

   I loved getting to go downtown and take pictures of my brother propose to his girlfriend. I loved seeing an art expedition with my best guy friend. I love all the great music I've been listening to. I love watching the Cubs play and actually do well. I love watching movies and reading books and spending time with people I care about. I love buying cute mugs and watching sunsets. So far, I love being 20. I'm not sure if you understand what its like to constantly live in fear, but I do, and now I'm free from that. It's incredible. So much has changed for me and I couldn't be happier.

   It gets better you guys. I promise.

Songs I currently adore:
How Do I Tell A Girl I Want To Kiss Her - Brendan Lukens
Fine, Great - Modern Baseball
Is There Somewhere? - Halsey
If I Tremble - Front Porch Steps
Peach - The Front Bottoms
Obstacle 2 - Interpol
Sixteen - Real Friends
Stolen Dance - Milky Chance
Undercover Martyn - Two Door Cinema Club
Walking On A Dream - Empire Of The Sun

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why Everyone Needs To See Mad Max

   I have been trying to write this review type thing for the longest time. I should have written it right after I saw it but alas, I was lazy. So hopefully this all makes sense and I remember all the points I wanted to make along the way. This movie blew my mind so I hope I can do it some justice. *Warning: very minor spoilers throughout*

   To start off, when Mad Max: Fury Road first hit the theaters, my brother saw it with his best friend. When he came back he told me I needed to see it because I would love it. He gave me the whole premise of the movie and I got hooked. Unfortunately, I got lazy (Again. Surprise, surprise.) and didn't watch it. However, after the movie won a crap ton of Oscars, I decided to make it a priority. Then even after the Oscars I didn't watch it until my friend from work gave it to me to watch while I recovered from surgery.

   And let me tell you about this movie, guys.

   It takes place in a post apocalyptic desert world. The people are held in check by Immortan Joe, the tyrannical warlord. Everything goes as normal until Imperator Furiosa takes a War Rig in what was supposed to be a gas and ammunition run, and turns it into an escape attempt; taking Immortan Joe's 5 wives with her.

   Before I get into story and character, I want to talk briefly about the movie and its cinematography and design and overall aesthetic. The film brought in Oscars for costume design, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, production design, sound editing, and sound mixing. And let me tell you, it deserved all of them. The whole design of the movie is stunning. Despite it taking place in the desert, the colors are so vivid and wild. Everything has this larger than life quality to it. The way it's filmed is super interesting too. The very first scene seems to be sped up, giving it a high intensity feel. Another thing to mention is that the soundtrack is just perfection. The music was gorgeous and fitting. Truthfully, you could appreciate the movie for just these reasons alone. You could just watch it and be fascinated by the artistic nature of the whole thing.

   World building is something I was very impressed with as well. The people in the Citadel live in a completely different society than we do. I mean, everything is different. They have their own slang, their own religious beliefs, their own systems. The writers went all out with this one. Their world is so believable. Yet, even though nothing is explicitly explained, you manage to understand what's going on. Their systems are different but comprehendable. You get the sense of honor and duty and thirst for adventure from the War Boys. You understand the different towns. You see how their society runs. All those tedious details really worked together well.

   However, I mostly wanted to talk story and characters here. But I couldn't ignore how remarkable those details were.

   What made Mad Max so beautiful to me was the plot. When I first started seeing trailers I wasn't impressed. It seemed to me like one of those movies that only existed to blow things up and have high action car chases. I wasn't expecting a movie with actual depth. But I couldn't have been more wrong.

   At the very beginning, when Immortan Joe realizes Furiosa isn't just going to Gas Town, he runs back to his room, which is kept locked by a vault door. To his dismay, he notices that Furiosa has taken his wives, and left him messages on his floor and walls. I swear I got chills during this scene. The first message he arrives to says "Our babies will not be warlords." And the second he uncovers a moment later. "We are not things."

   Allow me to repeat that.

   We are not things.

   Immortan Joe was using these woman and keeping them as his possession. He was raping them and taking their children to be raised as monsters and war fighters. Then the woman had had enough and Furiosa chose to be their savior.

   Throughout Mad Max you see so many messed up things and hear so many things that make you cringe. And I'm not talking about the blood and gore, although there's plenty of that. I'm talking about the extreme poverty of the people in the Citadel and how they can only drink water when Immortan Joe lets the water out. I'm talking about rivalry among the War Boys that makes them fight each other. I'm talking about the way woman are treated by literally every male in the movie except for Max. It made me angry, but then it made me feel empowered.

   Because Furiosa steps in and makes a difference. She sees a need and she answers it; despite fear, despite doubt, and despite the fact that she is literally disabled and missing an arm. None of these things stop her. You can see that she cares for these woman. She aches for them in their pain. She helps them.

   Never have I seen feminism displayed in such a way in a movie before. If you want to understand what feminism is, watch Mad Max. And even if you don't, watch it anyway. This movie is so important. It takes a very real issue and blows it up to this giant size but in the end, its just like today and what woman are going through right now. I love Furiosa because she is fierce and strong, but she is soft. The wives are gentle, but they are not helpless. They are all feminine, but they are not weak. They refuse to be objects for Immortan Joe. I admire them so much for that.

   Now, normally when there are feminist qualities in something, it falsely shows hate for men. It's completely misunderstand that those two things go hand in hand. Mad Max doesn't make this mistake. While the woman are on the run, Max ends up joining them. They are wary of him at first for obvious reasons, but you grow to see them accept him and learn to trust him. Towards the middle of the film, they are accompanied by another man as well. In one scene, someone asks who the men are, and Furiosa responds, "They're reliable. They helped us get here." That line is so beautiful to me. Could they have gotten there without the men? Yes. Did accepting their help make them weak? No. Because both the two men and the five woman had mutual respect for each other because they were all humans trying to reach the same goal. They never put each other down or thing one is more capable than the other. There's no gender war. It's just a rig full of people trying to make their way together. I think that's beautiful.

   Now, you're probably wondering what I have to say about Max; the guy in the title of the movie. Well, I hope this makes sense to you. You get very little on his backstory, and even though I would have loved to know more and, you know, actually seen a movie that was about him, I can't complain. In a weird way, I think Max would have approved of Furiosa stealing his movie. At the beginning, I think Max has a very narrow view of the world. I think he's simply trying to take care of himself and maybe stop seeing flashbacks of dead people. But on this journey, you can start to see his eyes become more open. He starts to see that maybe the world doesn't revolve around him, even though he thinks it does. You can see that in the way he looks at Furiosa and the women. You can see it in how he is willing to give his life for them. You can see it in how he protects them. I think he realizes that there are people worth fighting for. I love his relationship to Furiosa because it's love, but its not romantic. He cares for her, he would die for her, but he is not in love with her. In a world full of disgusting men, Max can actually see these woman as people. I love him for that.

   Besides extreme feminism, there's one more important element to Mad Max that I wanted to talk about. And that's the theme of redemption. *Warning: This is where minor spoilers turn into major spoilers*

   Furiosa claims to be seeking redemption when they start their journey. She seeks her old home, what she calls The Green Place. However, when she gets there, she finds it has been gone for a long time. Only crows remain there. She is devastated. She tells her crew that they should ride on for as long as they can, it's Max that chimes in with a different plan.

   He proposes they go back to the Citadel. After everything they went through, he says to go back. Furiosa doesn't take too well to this idea. But he insists it's the only way. He tells her the only thing that's ahead is wasteland. Going back is there only hope. "We might be able to, together." he says, "come across some kind of redemption."

   To me, the symbolism in that is incredible. That the only way to find redemption is to go back to the very thing they had escaped. They had to stop running and face it. We do that a lot, as humans, We try to outrun our pain and then we are left with nothing in this wasteland that we thought would be a paradise. We think that forgetting our problems is the way to get better. But, as Max says, "You have to fix what's broken, or else you'll go insane."

   So they take the Citadel. They take back their lives. They get their redemption. They fight. They run no more and they find what they are looking for in the same place they experienced the most pain. To me, that is one profoundly powerful message.

   Mad Max is a story of redemption, of hope, and of feminism. There's action and explosions and all those things that make a movie epic, but there is meaning and depth as well. I would go so far as to say it might be one of my favorite movies now. So do yourself a favor and go see this masterpiece of a movie.

(Images taken from Google. Sorry I'm bad at crediting images)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Dear Girls

   Dear girls,

   I wanted to write an open to letter to all the females of the world. I want you to slow down and think because there are so many messages you receive and I know that sometimes it's hard to decipher what to believe and what to ignore. It's hard when the world tells you one thing and your gut tells you another. I know we live in a cruel world that is especially hard on females. I know you might not be sure who you want to be and that's okay.

   Dear girls, I want you to know that you're so beautiful.
   You don't need to compare yourself to anyone else. You don't have to be beautiful like the next girl; you are beautiful in the way you were created to be. Love yourself. Please don't harm your precious body trying to reach an unrealistic goal of perfection. Please don't punish your beautiful temple for not being enough. Stop relying on silly numbers to tell you your worth because those numbers are liars. Your weight will fluctuate, your grades will change, your bank account will be full and empty; all those things are a part of life and do not have any correlation to your value.

   Dear girls, be strong. Be independent. Be fearless.
   Be your own anchor. Don't let your happiness be dependent on a boy. Don't let the opinions of other people dictate your every move. Be the person you want to be. Don't be afraid to love the things you love, whether it be sports or Starbucks or video games or makeup. Know that you are complete; you are not a soul wandering around, waiting for her life to start when she meets a man. Your life is now. Don't be afraid to travel alone or be alone. Fear not the isolation but embrace the adventure. Don't listen to people who say that boys don't like independent girls. Be whole on your own.

   But girls, be soft.
   Be gentle. Be forgiving. Know that tears are not a sign of weakness. Your femininity does not make you weak; it makes you strong. Your ability to be kind is a lovely thing. Be humble enough to accept help.

   Dear girls, be modest.
   Truthfully, I hate that word, but I want you to know that you don't need to show your body to get attention and to be loved. You are not a disgrace for the way you dress. I know that sometimes it can seem like a competition and the only way to get ahead is by showing off the most skin but darling, you don't need to prove yourself to anyone.

   Dear girls, excel.
   Excel in your education, in your work place, in your passions. Don't dumb yourself down to please people. Do your best. Do your best in sports and business and science and math. Don't be intimidated by male dominated spaces. You are just as important. You are valuable.

   Dear girls, enjoy your time alone.
   Solitude is a gift. Being single is a gift. Take time by yourself to discover who you are, as cliche as that sounds. Try new ideas. Pick up hobbies. Have adventures on your own.

   Dear girls, love your boyfriend or husband.
   Serve him. Adore him. Honor him. Know that while yes, he is not above you, your desire should be to humble yourself and love him. Love him, love him, love him.

   Dear girls, don't tear each other down.
   This is not a contest. We have enough crap to deal with, we don't need it from friends. Girls, we need to stop putting each other down. We need to build each other up and support each other. Give compliments often. Hug one another. Don't gossip. Be kind. Other girls are not your competition. They are your friends.

   Dear girls, embrace your femininity.
   We can be looked down on for loving "girly" things but you can be strong and wear red lipstick at the same time. There's seriously nothing wrong with wearing pink and going shopping and doing your makeup. High heels are great and dresses are great. Being a girl is great. Stop letting people put you down for being a female.

   Dear girls, live.
   Dance like no one is watching. Sing your favorite song at the top of your lungs. Be crazy. Be wild. Be yourself. Embrace every part of yourself, even the parts that you hate.

   You matter in this world. Sometimes you need to fight for things. You are worth fighting for. It took me too long to learn all these things and I hope you understand way before I did. I love you so much. I love seeing girls who are confident in who they are. You inspire me. Remember all these things because you never know who's watching you. There's a girl somewhere that wants to be just like you. Be strong for her. Girls should inspire each other. So learn from females who have lived longer than you and be a role model for the younger generations.

   Now get out there and show the world what you're made of.

Friday, July 22, 2016

My Characters: Azlyn Dever

   Let's talk about Forlorn Hope. The novel I've spent the last 2 (and a half?) years writing and rewriting and plotting and editing. I don't talk about it a lot because frankly, I don't feel like people care. But lately I've been really working on it and I wanted to share it with you guys. I want your opinion. So wanna help me out?

   Let's start with a super rough synopsis. 

   My name is Azlyn Dever and I am a Christian. I thought I knew what that meant, but now I'm not so sure. Now my best friend friend can see demons. A boy from my youth group is a prophet of sorts. And me? All I can do is watch my world fall apart. 

   Okay I literally threw that together in ten seconds and its okay at best. Sorry about that. Really that's the only way I can think to put it together. It's a book about three friends and their battle against spiritual warfare. Today though, I wanted to focus more on the characters. They're the ones that carry the story. I also made collages to go with their aesthetics and each day I'll post about a different person.  (All pictures are from Pinterest so sorry if I stole your image. ) 

   Today I want to introduce you to my main character.

Azlyn Dever

Azlyn is the narrator of this story. She's also the only person in her friend group that is virtually completely blind to the spiritual realm, which obviously adds a lot of frustration for her. She struggles with chronic pain throughout the novel but in no way does she let that stop her from living. Azlyn is sarcastic and pretends to be apathetic when in reality, she cares too much. Her fatal flaw is that she thinks she has to save the world. 
Aside from all that seriousness, Azlyn really enjoys pizza and the color maroon and dislikes coffee. She binge watches Mr. Robot in her free time and really likes to make jokes with her best friend, Sadie. Azlyn has a fierce devotion to Ed Sheeran. She hates the word "hipster" but that's what she is. She's sarcastic, sassy, and hecka angsty. 

   If I had to pick a favorite character, it would be Azlyn. I had wanted to name a character that since middle school when I read the Star Wars: Legacy comics. But when I started plotting this, I strongly didn't want to use that name. But then I found out it meant "vision or dream" and I had to. In my first draft, Azlyn had premonitions and nightmares, so that name fit perfectly. So basically, she was inspired by the John Ostrander character.

But besides that, I understand her more than any character I've ever written. Writing her is like putting a piece of myself onto paper. Writing her story has inspired and helped me in more ways than I had ever thought were possible. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into when I decided to write her story for my '14 NaNoWriMo. And as each draft changes, it changes me too. 

I think Azlyn makes the best protagonist because she's the least qualified of all her friends and yet she matters. By all means, she shouldn't be the MC, and yet it's her perspective that the story gets told from. Personally, I think that's rad.

So that's her. Also, enjoy a small snippet of a scene starring my lovely Azlyn Dever.

A slight knocking sounded at my door.
“Come in.” My voice sounded so pathetic outloud. I rolled onto my side and the light from the hallway shone right in my eyes, making me feel like I was being blinded. My migraine screamed at the light, forcing me to shut my eyes,
“I brought you some food and a soda.” I recognized my mom’s voice despite the fact my brain felt like pudding. I heard the door shut behind her followed by a clicking noise. When I opened my eyes, I saw she had turned my desk lamp on. Underneath it she had set a plate of mashed potatoes and chicken, alongside a can of Mountain Dew.
Mom seemed sad, despite the fact that she was smiling. Her smile wasn’t one of joy, but of pity. And I hated pity. She almost seemed tired, which wasn’t unusual for her considering how much she worked. Her ginger hair, which was the exact same shade as mine, was thrown up her usual After Work Messy Bun. She had washed away all her makeup, leaving her face red and her freckles stand out.
I sat up, attempting to ignore the pain so I could reach for the Mountain Dew. Upon seeing my hand, Mom picked up the can and, after opening it, handed it to me. The snap-hiss of the can opening relaxed me, in a weird way. I prayed the caffeine would help me this time, even though I was fairly certain it wouldn’t.
“I have your meds.” Mom’s curled palm reached out to me and I took the pills from her. I took them in two’s, as was my usual routine, until they were all finished. I washed them down with my carbonated drink. I could feel the pills being pushed down my throat, followed closely by the sizzling sensation of a soft drink.
“Pain level?”
“Like, 7.”
“Alright, so an 8.”
I gave her the soda back and collapsed onto my bed. Mom set the can on my nightstand. She came over by me and pulled a blanket over my body ever so delicately, like I was a kid again. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t a kid because if I was, then Ariel would still be around and I still would have had time to save her and Sadie wouldn’t be going crazy.
“What are you thinking about, sweetie?”
“What?” I squinted my eyes at her.
“You have your thinking face on. What’s going on?”
“Nothing. I don’t want to talk about it.”
Despite my unwillingness to talk, Mom sat down on the bed with me. Her hand held onto mine and I felt the warmth of her presence flood me. Mom’s had that effect on people. They were both warming and cooling all at once.
I moved my arm to cover my eyes. “What would you do if you felt God calling you to do something you didn’t want to do? And how would you be a good friend to someone? Like, if you don’t know how.”
Silence followed. I assumed she was thinking of an answer. Or trying to put a context to my question. That was another thing Mom’s do. They always try to figure out what’s going on when you ask a generic question.
“For your first question, I would say to look at people in the bible who disobeyed God and see if that’s the life you want.” She chuckled, probably because she was thinking of a particular story in her head. “And as how to be a better friend...think of how you would feel in Sadie’s situation, I assume this is about Sadie, and think about the things you would want her to do for you.
I rolled my eyes, even though they were still closed. I didn’t know why I hadn’t expected her to name Sadie. She was my mom, after all.
I felt her lips press against my forehead softly. “You’ll figure it out soon. I know you will.”

As she left, the pain in my head doubled. I was fairly certain she left my room. I heard the clicking of a door locking in its socket. There was silence for only a brief moment before I succumbed to tears.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Baseball Has Been Very Very Good To Me

   When I think of baseball I think of packing lunches and blankets to go all over the city for my older brother's travel baseball games. I think wearing his old jerseys to those games so I could support him. I think of asking for baseball cards for my birthday to add to my collection. I think of afternoons where my dad would explain what was happening on TV with the Cubs and teaching me all the rules of the game. I think about going outside into the courtyard and playing catch with my brother and dad. I also recall that we used to get kids from the neighborhood to play with us. We would stay out in the yard all day. I remember playing softball in a league for 4 years and going to an ice cream parlor for ice cream and fries after each victory. I think of watching The Sandlot. Baseball reminds me of my Alfonso Soriano jersey I never took off in middle school. It reminds me of my family because most of my childhood revolved around that sport in one way or another.

   Baseball has always had a special place in my heart.

   This summer I've been blessed to be able to work at the legendary Wrigley Field as a fan photographer and its been the greatest thing in the world. If you've spent more than 5 minutes with me, you know this. Because I don't ever stop talking about it.

   I stopped keeping up with the Cubs when my dad left, because we stopped spending money on cable. My older brother went away to college (where he continues to play baseball for his school.) and so all my huge baseball influences were gone. I sort of let it go for a while. Then the Cubs team I loved fell away; some players retired and others got traded. I don't know where most of them are anymore. They've all sort of fallen off the grid. I had forgotten how much I cared until this summer.

   This summer has been magical. My first day of work I was exhausted. I was standing all day and doing stairs. I was in so much pain on the way home. But I couldn't stop smiling. Whenever I'm there I can't help but think about how blessed I am. I mean, I had been asking God for the perfect job. One I loved, one that was close, one that was easy. And truthfully, I only love it. It's so hard. It's so far away. It takes a lot out of me. But I am so in love. I'ts worth all that to me. My boss is so great and understanding and my coworkers are gems, honestly.

  One day last week I got to work two hours early. So I sat in the stands and listened to worship music. It was the greatest thing. I mean...who gets to do that before work? I just stared off at the field and thought about all the people that come to the stadium. Seriously. I'm constantly overwhelmed when we all rise to sing the national anthem. That place holds over 41,000 people. Plus staff. And its sold out pretty much every night. I always wonder why they're there. I think about all those people who all have stories and dreams and people they love and reasons why baseball means a lot to them just like it means a lot to me. I wonder why they're Cubs fans or fans of opposing teams. Sometimes I feel so small; but most of the time I feel in awe just thinking that each one of those people matter. 41,000 people and each person still matters. I still matter.

   I know most people I know hate sports, and you could be one of them. But think about this: community. That's what it is. Just like I said about the Oscars; it's a crap ton of people getting together to celebrate something so stupid and meaningless yet so powerful. Depression makes me think of things I love as pointless. But times like the time I have at work make me remember that we were created to love and live and enjoy the little things. It's just a game but at the same time, its not just a game. And I'm not sure if that makes sense.

   The other thing about my job is that it's hard. I hate asking people for photos. I'm shy. I have panic attacks at work sometimes. Yet it's worth it. Every time I walk into that stadium I'm greeted by a random person with a smile on their face. I swear all the workers there act like each day is the best day of their life. I remember that I'm doing what I love when I hear Shoop come on the loud speakers and Addison Russell walk up to the plate. My second day at work, my favorite got a homerun and the crowd went wild. I think about that and how alive I felt and how I couldn't stop smiling on the bus ride home.

   I guess what I'm trying to say is that I used to be really sad. Now I'm really happy. If you're struggling right now, I want you to know that it's okay and that you won't be struggling forever. I want you to embrace all those silly things that make you smile because yeah they're stupid but they matter. If you need a reason to keep fighting today, here it is. Think about all the beautiful things you haven't experienced yet and all the people you haven't met. They're waiting for you. Hang on for them.

   I could talk about this job forever so I'm just going to stop here. This post came out way more scattered than I had planned. But really, I never thought I would get to say my first job was at Wrigley Field getting to do what I love. Never in a million years would I have thought that. Yet here I am. Someday, I hope you get a job that you love so much you'd wake up at 6:45 to take a bus for an hour to get to. I hope you feel alive when you're there. I hope you fall in love with your life and don't settle for less.

(PS. I'm obsessed with all the photos I take at work so I hope you love them as much as I do.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Short Post In Which I Share Bad News

   A while ago I underwent a surgery to remove half of my thyroid because there was a nodule growing on it. This nodule had been benign for a long time but then it started to press on my wind pipe, so my doctor elected to remove it. After that, he wanted it examined to look for cancer. Well, all the pathologists at my doctor were split. Half said cancer, half said benign. Thus half of my thyroid make quite the journey. It was transported to Wisconsin, and then eventually to New York to be looked at.

   All this goes to say, they found out I have cancer.

   Before you go freaking out, stop. Take a breath. And relax.

   We won't know what kind or stage until after I have it biopsied. On August 10th, the remaining part of my thyroid will be removed and then I'll undergo radioactive iodine treatment to disintegrate any traces of my thyroid that were left over.

   I know. I just threw a lot of information out there at once. If you're not a medical expert or a sick kid, your brain might be spinning. So to summarize: they have no idea how bad it is, but I'm feeling optimistic. My doctors do seem concerned more than they usually are, that's true. But I know I've gone through this surgery before and I handled it well, so that's good.

   So I thought today though I'd talk about cancer.

   I've known for a while now but I didn't tell a lot of people. I didn't know how to. There were a lot of reasons I kept it to myself for so long. It's awkward to come out there and just say "by the way, I have cancer." I didn't want people to treat me differently. I didn't want people to suddenly care about me when they really hadn't before. I didn't want all the attention to be on me. I didn't want people to feel sorry for me. I didn't want to just talk about cancer. It's weird to say that I have cancer because it doesn't feel real.

   Honestly, I don't feel sick. I'm now a part of this group of people who are deemed Really Sick, and I don't feel it. I don't feel like I should be among them. I'm the healthiest I've ever been. I don't feel like I'm constantly fighting to stay alive or to find a cure. I'm not a huge medical health activist nor will I ever be. I don't feel sick. I don't feel weak.

   But for a while it hit me hard. I'm sick. Even though I don't feel it, I am sick. Some day I may wake up and not be able to walk. Some day I won't be able to eat. Some day I'm going to be in so much pain I'll cry all day. And the worst is the not knowing. I don't know when my body will give out. I'm fine today but how will I be tomorrow? I'm worried because I'm a person that prides myself in being independent and self sufficient. I know someday I won't have that luxury.

   But I guess that's what makes me grateful for each day I am normal. I thank God for my health and that seems almost ridiculous for someone who has so many issues going on. But I am. I know that God is in control and if He didn't want me to have cancer than I wouldn't have cancer. It's as simple as that. With that, I guess I just want people to know that having cancer isn't the worst thing in the world. It's terrible, but there are worse things that could happen. Cancer doesn't get the last word. Cancer can have a footnote in my story but that's it.

   And hey, on the bright side, I get to be Hazel Grace now. So I'll be on the lookout for a one legged boy who carries a cigarette around for metaphorical reasons.

(I had to include this song. It's great.)

(Anthony Rizzo, first basemen for the Chicago Cubs being a gem. He defeated Hodgkin's Lymphoma.)

(Me And Earl And The Dying Girl. 10/10 would recommend.)

Thank you all for listening to me talk about my medical problems and being there for me while I rant. Truthfully, I never wanted to share this with you but, as Rachel pointed out in that movie quote above, everyone was gonna find out sooner or later. I'd rather you hear it from me. Be praying for my family in all this; mostly my mom, because she worries. But also everyone else. Because having a kid with medical issues puts a ton of stress on everyone in the family. 

Thank you again for everything.