Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Thursday Can Change Your Life...but this one probably won't

First off, let me apologize for how late this post is, and how bad it will be because I'm typing by the seat of my pants. I suppose the thing about me that would surprise most people is the fact that I have a tattoo. Growing up I was always a little bit nerdy; hanging out by myself with a book in hand. However, I am a closeted bad ass. Granted, my tattoo isn't really that cool (think Deathly Hallows symbol with lines added to make a peace sign, with 42 inserted inside, with stars at the points of the triangle, both sides flanked by penguin profiles, and at the bottom, the word "Serenity" which is a state of being as well as a bad ass sci-fi movie), but most people seem so surprised when I mention it. I think all of the people who I went to high school with would probably be surprised to find out that I joined the National Guard (for all you haters out there, don't be dissing on us weekend warriors 'cause we're the ones who help out when floods and tornadoes rip your worlds apart) because I vehemently swore to never join the military up until the day I called a recruiter (March 17, 2009 for the curious; the same day I realized that my scholarships and potential loans wouldn't cover even one semester at the private college of my choosing, which, even after receiving military benefits, remained out of reach for my meager earnings). I tend to do the things that people least expect me to do, mostly because one of my biggest fears is being boring. This fear led me to start watching more movies (so that I could talk pop culture), dip into the Star Wars and Star Trek cults (which I love), and become a Nerdfighter. In a weird way, I'm doing my best to be popular, except I'm doing it by becoming that person you like hanging out with but are also slightly weirded out by (I'm even weirded out by me sometimes). I like books that others either don't like or just don't pay any attention to, such as this great book I randomly bought from Borders called Publish This Book by Stephen Markley (a book about publishing the very book you are reading; every bit as hilarious as you would think this concept to be, and at times, weirdly touching, hitting very close to home to anybody who ever wanted to be somebody in the writing world. And done with my book plug). I still like the Jonas Brothers, and the horrible atrociousness that is the song Friday (although, this might be due to Hank Green's video "Ice Cream Changes"). Who knows, sooner or later hating Justin Beiber will be so popular that I'll start liking him purely for a change of pace. I am a very contradictory person. I can be really happy but also deeply sad as well. I can be this really weird nerd, but somehow very few people find it in themselves to hate me completely. Including myself. Now, I shall answer my own question. I am very passionate about the right of humans to act like humans. This means that we shouldn't deny others the right to marry, the right to be buried without a protest, the right to choose what they believe to be best for them, or the right to be themselves without judgement. In summary, I'm pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, and anti-bigots who protest the funerals of soldiers because they don't believe someone who has done a service for their country deserves rest. We need to hurry up and do soapbox week because I'm finding it harder each week to not burst into furious rant. Last week I answered the patronus question, my answer being: Raven. Now, I'll take the oppurtunity to explain my reasoning. Firstly, that's the answer I got from quizilla. Secondly, I agreed with the answer's reasoning (I'm not sure exactly what it said, since it was so long ago, but this is my best summary of it). Basically, ravens are well known in lore for being clever, fairly solitary creatures. I like to imagine myself as clever (I'm very good with witty bantor and "That's what she/he said" jokes), and I tend to hang out with myself alot (so much that most of my day to day speaking falls upon my own ears and even I think I sound lonely). Sorry if this post seems short, but I'm sorta just winging it here so I don't have to write a limerick on how much I love Justin Beiber or something like that (good punishment idea right there!). And again, sorry it's coming so late. I know how all of you wait with bated breath for every word of intelligence and inside that rolls off of my keyboard and into your hearts. Did I mention I'm sarcastic? NEXT!!!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Miss Wednesday, at your service!

Happy birthweek, Christina!!

Central question!:

What surprises most people to learn about me?… Man, what a question. I think a lot of things surprise people about me. You’d have to ask them, I suppose! But if I had to guess, I would probably say my flagrant lack of romantic experience. I was kissed for the first time this September, six-odd short months ago, at the age of 21. And man, they aren’t kidding when they tell you your first kiss is going to be awful… For real, though, I consider myself a pretty universally compatible person, and it surprises people (myself included, sometimes) to hear of my dismal batting average when it comes to dating.

As it should happen, I thought I’d have something new to report this week. I started seeing a new guy last Friday (almost two weeks ago), and we hit it off really well. “Awesome!” I thought to myself. “I’ll get to blog about a new dating record!” But to no avail—while he was nice to me, he was kind of a jerk in general, doing things like labeling others as “annoying”… because they cared about people too much.

“Are you kidding me??” I thought to myself. “You think he’s annoying because of how much he cares about people?? You’re out of here.”

There were other things a bit off about him, not the least of which was his blatant physical agenda (see paragraph 1 of this post for reasons that might NOT be okay with me), so things ended.

Record maintained.

More question responses!:

I don’t think I ever said what my own patronus would be! I think it might be an axolotl (, if you don’t know what an axolotl is) because they are really awesome. Or maybe a white buffalo, because they are my favorite animal and surprisingly huge and majestic. Perhaps a penguin, because they always seem to be enjoying life so much. Then again, there’s the squirrel… It’s probably more buffalo than anything. I didn’t think about that enough before asking all of you!

What makes my blood boil… There isn’t much in this world that makes me angry (I can pretty much think of a situation in which almost any ostensibly horrible thing would probably be justifiable), but two things make my soul break. One is inequality (as addressed in Christina and Alexandra’s posts). The other is suicide.

It’s ridiculous to think that some people just don’t get certain rights. Stigma can be a bitch, and some of them for halfway-decent reasons (evolutionarily, at least), but I hate hate hate that some people think it’s okay to devalue others. I don’t care if someone possesses every single stigma imaginable; that person is still just as worthy of love and value and inalienable human rights as someone entirely stigma-less. I have a really hard time personally living up to my own standards with this one; some people are just hard to care about. But they still deserve it.

And suicide… I am in favor of assisted suicide for terminally ill people whose quality of life is irreparably miserable, and I would not want to live in a vegetative state on life support. But none of that is what I’m talking about. I’ll have to save my deeper thoughts on this for soapbox week… suffice it to say I have a lot of thoughts.

Ah, the topic of best friends! I do have a best friend. That is my roommate, Ashley. I don’t know what it is about our friendship, or when it happened, but somewhere along the way, she became part of my heart. She’s boisterous and has more personality in her little fingernail than most people have in their whole little finger, and she has been remarkably good for me in the past few years. We’re good for each other, I think. Since meeting her two years ago, I have become a more open, outgoing, thoughtful person.

I also subscribe to the idea that you don’t have to sacrifice quality for quantity. I have a lot of friends (something I couldn’t say even a couple years ago), and I honestly love each of them in very individualized ways. I could talk for hours about all of them. Can we have a week about that? I want to know about y’all’s friends. They really make life worth living.

My next question for you all: What is your favorite thing about the internet? Site, meme, webcomic, network, etc…

Catch ya tomorrow, Casey!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday, the Creeping Realization...

That I am going to have to come up with some witty title involving either "Tuesday", "Ophiucha", or "Alexandra" to fill up an entire year of weekly blogging. O.O

For the questions,

I do believe my patronus would be a snake. As I may have already explained, Ophiucha, a name I am known by perhaps more widely than Alexandra, is the Greek (feminine) for "snake bearer", as the constellation specifically. I can't remember a time when reptiles were not my life. When I was young, it was Jurassic Park (if one thing got me reading at an advanced level, it was my desire to read Crichton), Land Before Time, and any encyclopedia on the things I could find. The Long Island Game Farm, about five minutes from my home, gave kids a chance to play with an alligator and pet a boa constrictor one day, and my nonna would let me do things that gave my mum a heart attack. Snakes, in particular, became rather dear to me after - well - Harry Potter. What can I say, I'm a Slytherin at heart.

Many a thing gets my blood boiling. As a writer of fantasy, I think the way it is so commonly accepted to worldbuild is what irks me the most. I see people saying you can't write a story without a map, and I start sharpening my knife (and my pencil, for a well-worded thrashing). It's the Tolkien model. Tolkien wrote a story about Middle Earth; it worked for him. But most of us write stories about people, about tales of adventure, about many things in the world, but so rarely the world itself. His influence is so far-stretched, however, that we still use him as the model for high fantasy, and it just doesn't do a writer any good. On a less niche note, I can't stand people who, if you will, feel the need to get involved in our bedrooms. Anything from anti-interracial relationships, anti-LGBT, and even anti-polygamy. That last one is probably where some people step back. But it's something I've always felt strongly about, that a relationship is built on honesty and trust, and if you say "may I have a/nother husband or wife?" and s/he says "okay", well, have at it hoss.

And I do indeed have a best friend. She is the girl I mentioned before who goes to BGSU. :) Her name is Carina, and we met in high school. I was originally friends with her older sister (Carina is one year younger than me, her sister is one year older than me), but in either eighth or ninth grade - I can't recall which - I pretty much ended up sticking with Carina. We weren't best friends for a fair bit, though I did a lot with her. My best friend at the time was a girl named Kristen, but... well, things were tough. She was a serious hypochondriac, and her mother was a clutterbug. They moved out West when I did, and I saw them once, but... haven't been able to get in touch since. I worry about them sometimes, but they were at a bad downhill spiral, spending more money than they made. But, yeah, anyway. Carina. Two others eventually joined our "posse", Eric and Gayle, and they are as good a friend as Carina, but she's been there the longest, and she's made the most effort to stay in touch since we split apart for university.

And I hope you had/are having/will have a Happy 22nd Birthday, Christina!

So, what are people most shocked to learn about me? That really depends on who these 'people' are, I think.

Online, where I near exclusively am around talking about writing, I think people are often shocked to learn some of the books I enjoy. For all that I love my New Weird, my classics, my Cormac McCarthy, I love nearly as much a great bad book. For all that I enjoy China Miéville's elegant prose (“Here a crawling man spiral-shelled in iron and venting smoke. Here a woman working, because there are women among the Remade, a woman become a guttered pillar, her organic parts like afterthoughts. A man — or is it a woman? — whose flesh moves with tides, with eructations like an octopus. People with their faces relocated, bodies made of iron and rubber cables, and steam-engine arms, and animal arms, and arms that are body-length pistons on which the Remade walk, their legs replaced with monkey’s paws so they reach out from below their own waists.”), I also love to make fun of Kristen and P.C. Cast's (“She wasn’t thin like the freak girls who puked and starved themselves into what they thought was Paris Hilton chic. (‘That’s Hott.’ Yeah, okay, whatever, Paris.) This woman’s body was perfect because she was strong, but curvy. And she had great boobs. (I wish I had great boobs.) / ‘Huh’ I said. Speaking of boobs-I was totally sounding like one. (Boob… hee hee).”). And I think you can learn as much from reading The Lord of the Rings or another fantasy classic as you can from reading Eragon or R.A. Salvatore.

In real life, there are two categories: people I want to like or not insult, and people I am forced to interact with and don't much care about their opinions. The former, I am rather shy at first, but I can be remarkably outspoken, loud, perhaps even a bit rude when it comes down to it. Get me in a room with my husband or some of my friends, and we'll be laughing up a storm or groaning about the latest bestseller or some political development. I think a lot of people are like that, but there it is. For people I care a bit less about, I suppose it is simply my ideologies. I am pretty far left, on the political scale. My mini rant about polygamy up there might give you a bit of a taste for that. I am very, very open. There isn't a question you could ask that I wouldn't answer, as long as I had an answer to give. I don't censor myself, either. In general, I guess I am just a bit... upfront, if I don't need to keep it quiet for the sake of a job or for pleasing someone I care about.

Not much else to say today. I don't have a driver's license either, though I live in a city with some amazing public transit, so I don't much see the point in getting one anytime soon. I will probably learn (or more accurately, have my husband learn) if I get pregnant, though. I would hate to take a stroller everywhere via transit. Way too much work, and you always get dirty looks from the other commuters.

See you tomorrow, Carlyn.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday the Walking Poet

Good afternoon, girls! It’s Monday!

One of my vices is beginning to rear its head – I have caught myself procrastinating on writing this blog post. I put together a card that doesn’t need to be done until tomorrow night, I’ve checked the mailbox half a dozen times, and I made an only slightly necessary trip to campus. I have the sinking feeling it will not be much longer before I find myself posting closer and closer to midnight until the fateful day arrives when I sign on too late and therefore face punishment.

But that shall not be today! Reasonless procrastination, I shall defeat you! You have no place in this collaborative blog project. Begone!

There. Now that the dastardly villain has been banished, I shall proceed with the answering of last week’s questions.

What form would my Patronus take? If you’ll recall, last week I mentioned Maggie and Heidi. If you add the name Katie to the mix, you’ll have my three closest friends from the beginning of college. We met and bonded over a mutual love of Harry Potter, and actually did quite a bit of research into this question when Katie wanted to draw portraits of the four of us. The animal that was settled on for me was a fox, as foxes represent insight, cleverness, cunningness and resourcefulness. I can see it, but I also like the symbolism of the owl. I also just like owls in general. So either a fox or an owl.

As for what gets my blood boiling, I could give you the flippant answers – dismissal of the Harry Potter epilogue, poor grammar, dissing Hufflepuffs – but the real answer is brushing off the worth and abilities of children. I’ll save the heart of this for soapbox week, but suffice it to say that I am a huge advocate of young people, particularly in the arts, and the quickest way to get on my bad side is to disrespect or dismiss all that young people have to offer society.

Also: Happy Birthday, Christina! I don’t know when exactly this week it falls, but Happy 22! It’s a decent age. I’ve enjoyed it so far, anyway, and I hope you will, too!

And now for the central of the week: What surprises most people to learn about you?

Again, I could give a variety of answers – the fact that I’m a pastor’s kid, the fact that I write fanfiction, the fact that, yes, Jane Austen really is one of my favorite authors – but the one that always truly shocks people when they learn it is this: I am 22 years old and I do not have my driver’s license.

There are a variety of reasons for this. I got my permit at 15, but I was so busy with other things that it took two years to get all my hours and driving sessions logged. Then I dragged my feet about scheduling the test and waited until I had a week left on my permit, got so freaked and stressed during the test my the attitude of my proctor that I failed maneuverability. My permit expired and I was so upset I never renewed it. That was four and a half years ago. I haven’t been behind the wheel of a car since.

I hate driving. I always have. I find it an incredibly stressful activity, and I just don’t like doing it. I know I have to suck it up and get my license eventually (especially as I’m preparing to move three states away at the end of the summer), but I don’t think driving is ever going to turn into one of those things that I like doing.

I also can’t deny that there’s that stubborn little piece of me that wants to protest the idea that a person without a car is somehow . . . pitiable or handicapped. I’ll admit, when I need to go grocery shopping or take a long trip somewhere, I am slightly hampered by the lack of a car, and I do have to depend on other people for rides. But when it comes to day to day getting around, I am no worse off than people who drive.

I walk pretty much everywhere I have to go. My apartment is about a mile from the places I spend most of my time: campus, downtown, my church. I don’t measure distances in town by miles though – I measure in traveling minutes. And it takes me 15-20 minutes to walk to the places I need to go. And walking, for me, is so much less stressful than driving. Let me list for you the things that, as a walker, I don’t have to worry about: finding a parking place, feeding meters, paying for a campus parking pass, paying for gas, paying for insurance. If I run into unexpected road construction, I cross the street or turn a block early. If I collide with someone, I apologize and keep going, both parties almost certainly unharmed. If ice has formed in the middle of the night, I layer on an extra scarf, step carefully, and I’m good to go.

I also just like walking, and I think that’s what often shocks people more than the lack of a license. But I do. I legitimately like walking. I like the rhythm and the cadence of my steps, and the fact that I can rely on my own two feet to get me places. That I don’t need to be dependent on anyone or anything but a sturdy pair of shoes and an appropriate jacket to get from point A to point B. With clear directions and enough time on my side, I can get anywhere in my town under my own power, and that is appealing to me. As Steven Wright said, “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” The world shrinks when you walk it with your own two feet. Before I wrote this blog post, I had no idea how far away I lived from the various places in my town I visit, and I didn’t need to know. It was enough to know I could get there on my own.

Walking is solitary, walking is just about me. It’s a time to take a breath. Robert Sweetgall said, “We live in a fast-paced society. Walking slows us down.” I couldn’t agree more. I wish more people would walk places. I can’t count the number of times I’ve arrived at a destination and heard the slightly disbelieving, “You walked here? Why didn’t you ask for a ride?” Because I don’t need one, more often than not, and I’m a little proud of that.

My thoughts can wander when I walk in a way that they can’t when I drive or even ride with someone else. If I’m behind the wheel, I have to be focused on so many other things, and when I’m riding, I feel bad for letting my thoughts wander. But when I walk, that’s 20 minutes that I have purely to myself. My thoughts are my own, and they sort themselves out better when they have a rhythm to fall into. I’m at my most poetic when walking. I have my best ideas when walking.

There’s also something poetic about the act itself. At least once a week, I find myself walking early in the morning, and there’s something about being outside just before the sun is up, when the streets are bathed in that pre-dawn light and the whole world is hushed – not silent, but hushed, as the rest of the world sleeps on, undisturbed. There’s something about walking when you’re all but alone on the streets. There’s a camaraderie, too, with the other walkers you pass, an acknowledgment of the morning that doesn’t exist as the day wears on. I pass these strangers and I can’t help but fill in their blanks, the reasons they have for walking so early. Some are easy, the dog walkers, the joggers, but the ones I love are the ones like me – the walkers whose purpose isn’t so clear. There’s more to imagine, and in the imagining, I can also see myself through their eyes – this college-aged girl in dress slacks and scuffed snow boots, a stuffed messenger back slung over one shoulder, muttering to herself. Where is she going, and what is she saying, and why is she out so early. Because if there’s one thing I love more than imagining the stories of strangers, it’s imagining the stories that those strangers are imagining about me.

Alexandra, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Friday in my pants!

It’s already Friday again! It was very interesting to read all your Nerdfighter stories- everyone seems to have a slightly different story of how they became a Nerdfighter. I’d say my story most closely resembles Alexandra’s; I just gradually and naturally found my way here.

I am a new Nerdfighter, circa late 2010 (around November, I think, though I don’t know exactly when the transformation into awesome occurred). I did, however, have several near-Nerdfighter experiences before I was finally pulled in. I’ve been a regular youtube viewer for four years now (I started subbing and regularly watching people in late 2006/early 2007, my senior year of high school). If memory serves correctly, I first started watching TheHill88. Through Caitlin I found boh3m3, smpfilms (Mr. Safety!), and communitychannel. Caitlin and Natalie (communitychannel if you don’t follow her) are the only two from my originals that I still sub. In July of 2007 I had my first near-Nerdfighter experience and I bet if you guys take a look at the date you can probably figure out what it was. Hank’s video “Accio Deathly Hallows” was featured on the front page and being Harry Potter obsessed I naturally clicked on it and watched. It was awesome and thus it followed that the guy who made it was awesome. I learned enough about Hank and John to know that they were two brothers who were communicating through vlog for a year, but for some unexplainable reason I didn’t start watching them. I remember considering it a few times, I just never did. I really wish I had, but at least I’m here now!

So I missed my first chance of realizing my Nerdfighter potential, but hope was not lost! I’m not sure how I found Nerimon, but I somehow did; this was probably a few months after I first really got into youtube. From Alex, I found Charlie and for a couple years my subscriptions stayed the same. It wasn’t until the end of last year that I found Hayley (I’ll admit it, it was Charlie’s song that led me to her, but I’m so happy it did). Hayley finally brought me to Hank and John (and Kristina and Kayley) and this time it stuck. I started watching their current videos and was hooked; I went back to the beginning and I’ve been slowly working my way through all their videos for the last few months. I only have a few videos left of Brotherhood 2.0 and then I (yay!) still have three more years of videos to watch. Not long after I started considering myself a Nerdfighter, Your Pants opened (it will never get old) and now here we all are!

There you go, a (not so eloquent) explanation of how I became a Nerdfighter! I’ve “watched” youtube for four years now, but I’ve never made videos. I considered it occasionally, but was just never into it enough to completely go through with it. Because of that I didn’t feel completely connected to Nerdfighteria- until now!

Now for the questions!

What really makes my blood boil… when people are homophobic, don’t “believe” in gay rights, or some other variation of those ideologies. I get incoherent when confronted with someone like that to the point that I sometimes can’t even really say anything because I just cannot comprehend how they could feel that way. A little anecdote: I once told my roommate’s boyfriend-at-the-time that he was a complete idiot (this is a nicer version) because he said he didn’t support gay marriage.

My patronus animal… as unoriginal as it is, it’s totally a cat. I could claim it to be some other animal, but I would be fooling myself. It’s so a cat. Besides my being a complete cat person, I feel like I also embody the cat attitude, if that makes sense. I often envy my cats, they really have a great life of having people to feed and rub them while they’re able to just lie around in the sun.

What do I want to see you guys write about? At the moment I’m interested in hearing what you guys have to say about friendship. Do you have best friends, how long have you had them, talk about making friends in college, etc.

And I’m posting this JUST on time!

Edit: Just a little edit after the fact (Now that I think about it, are these allowed? How do we feel about this?) because I realized that next time I talk to you guys, I'll be 22! I've been told that the 22nd birthday is the first birthday that's a bit of a let down excitement-wise. I'm not doing much on my actual birthday because I will be working on my thesis nonstop now until next Friday, but next weekend some friends are visiting and we shall be going out- exciting! Okay, that's all. Goodbye 21-year old me.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Before I answer the previous week’s questions (answers for this week will be posted at the end) I just want to say how completely awesome I find all of my fellow Nerdfighters on this blog. After all, YOU KNOW WHO ROBERT FULGHUM IS! (If you don’t, there’s no need to admit it now and look less awesome, just find some of his essays and read them). He and Douglas Adams pretty much created my ideology on the Meaning of Life. And it’s always nice to know fellow Potterheads (can I get a *squee* for July?).

Now: A picture that I feel encompasses my personality. You'll have to click the link:

That’s right. It’s Delirium of the Endless (have I mentioned my undying love for all things Neil Gaiman? If not I declare undying love for all things Neil Gaiman). I like her style, I like her random wisdom, and I like that her eyes are different colors, like mine (well, one of mine is blue and the other is blue with a brown strip, so, whatever).

If I have lived a long-ish time, I want my tombstone to say: “Brevity is the soul of wit,” but Casey didn’t give a sh*t. And if I can get that to fly with my family, I’ll have it be the oft used line from Slaughterhouse 5, “So it goes…” I prefer the former.

One year ago I had never lived on my own before. Granted, I have a roommate, but I pay for my rent and all my clothes, books, furniture, and utilities. I’m not being supported by my family at all. I have a job, a real job that I can get into for life should I so want to, and the Army won’t reject me so long as I don’t get any fatter and keep passing my physical training tests. I like this freedom, as well as fear it slightly.

Also, one year ago I was not a Nerdfighter.

I did know John Green. Sometime during junior year of high school, I found a wonderful little book in the school’s library. It had a white cover with multi-colored silhouettes of females, and a title written as a math equation. I read that book, and it was known to the world as “An Abundance of Katherines.” I loved it for its nerdy protagonist, its hilarious side characters, and the useless trivia placed in the footnotes (I love both useless trivia and footnotes so much J). I soon found “Looking For Alaska” and John Green’s wikipedia (wikeepedia) page. There I discovered that John did a video blog with his brother. “Wow, that’s interesting,” I thought to myself, then promptly forgot to bother looking up those videos because my internet wasn’t good enough to look at videos on you tube effectively.

I remained a fan of John’s, reading his short stories in “Geektastic” and “Let it Snow”, and “Paper Towns” as soon as it came out. I discovered mental_floss magazine. Then one day, in Arabic class, one of my classmates was looking at videos on Youtube, and one of them happened to be a really cool video on the Ten Most Freaking Amazing Explosions. “Wow, that guy talks really fast. And that Tzar Bomba was really cool.” I looked to see who made the video, since I like top ten lists, and I saw that it was posted by vlogbrothers. “Wait a second,” I said to myself, “isn’t that a video blog created by one of your favorite teen authors?” “Why, yes, me, I do believe it is.” “Golly gee, what happy chance smiles upon you.” I went home after class that night and watched the Intro to Nerdfighting video, and I was hooked. Been watching ever since.

The funniest thing, I think, is that I’d even known about the term Nerdfigher, and that it was somehow connected to John Green, but I never put together the dots until I watched that video. Life, what a silly capricious thing you are.

But yes, that is my journey to Nerdfighteria; I’m glad to have shared it with you all.

Now, to answer this week’s slew of questions:

My Patronus is most definately a raven. I often say "Nevermore."

I ask all of you, “What makes your blood so boiling hot that whenever somebody talks about it you can’t help but put in your two cents and fight to the death proving your perspective if someone dares to contradict your point of view on the subject?”

That’s all for now. Peace and Penguins,

And now, the Lovely Christina!!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

DFTIW: Don't Forget That It's Wednesday!


Casey: I’ve found myself to be something of a people apologist, as well. Do you ever find that it gets frustrating? Every once in a while, I think it would be really nice to just sincerely dislike someone without having to rationalize myself out of it!

Christina: Happy almost-birthday! And happy almost-graduation, too. I’m suffering from a similar denial of things soon to come, though I don’t have a thesis to worry about! Your topic genuinely sounds quite interesting; I look forward to hearing more about it in the future. Also, I love your tombstone words. They seem to me very serene and un-harshly conclusive.

To answer Christina’s question (“What is the biggest difference between you now and you a year ago?), I have delved into the archives of my online journal. A year ago, I was posting about my recent Facebook faux-engagement (a good friend and I were both sick of being single, so we faked an engagement that actually convinced my great-aunt [who has no business being on Facebook]). Since then… man. What has happened since then?

I think that now, far more than a year ago, I am both more certain of the future and more comfortable with the uncertainty the future inherently holds. I’ve changed my major, applied and been accepted to graduate school, and made plans that I’d be okay with changing. I still have no idea what I actually want to do with myself or where I want to be in five years, but I do know that it’ll be a life that I’m excited about living. That’s all I really want, anyway. A year ago I wasn’t nearly this okay with stuff.

Cassie: We’re outed! It’s true, folks, Cassie and I are friends in real life. But we’ve only recently become friends, and I think this is a very good format to get to know each other (and everyone else, of course!).

To answer Cassie’s question (“What topics do you want to write about/want to read others’ thoughts about?”), I’m afraid I won’t be able to be very specific! I am an actively curious person, at all times. I want to know everyone’s thoughts on everything, why they think those things, whether they’ve always thought those things, whether their thoughts will change… it goes on and on. I guess the thing I’m most looking forward to learning about life is people’s thoughts about themselves and how they fit into the worlds the inhabit. I think I made the right choice with social psychology :)

Alexandra: I’m a casual YouTuber as well. It’s always fun to log in every once in a while and spend a few hours catching up on some favorites! Also, I agree with your thoughts on the Nerdfighteria community. I feel like it’s something that can be appreciated without full immersion, and on many levels. And if y’all have read Cassie’s comment to Alexandra’s post, I think she is correct about BGSU being the nexus of the universe… It’s a commonality for all mankind, it would seem.

Nerdfighteria, and how I got involved with it… Well, I first heard the term “nerdfighter” when I was accidentally eavesdropping on a conversation between two of my friends who were talking nearby while I did homework. One was excited to have learned the identity of her Little Sister in our music fraternity, and exclaimed, “And she’s a NERDFIGHTER!! It’s meant to be!”

“A what?” I looked up from my calc homework.

“A nerdfighter! Oh, Carlyn, you’d totally love it. It’s from these videos that these brothers made, and they say things like ‘french the llama!’ and ‘DFTBA’—which stands for Don’t Forget To Be Awesome, of course.”

Well, it sounded ridiculous and right up my alley, so I spent the next few hours at home watching the John and Hank essentials. Though I haven’t watched much more since that initial event, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in the Nerdfighteria culture. It’s something not to be found elsewhere, as I’m sure you can all attest.

My question for everybody (assuming we’re all HP-versed): What’s your patronus animal?

Pleasant blogging!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tiny Chicken Disease Tuesday!

It was nice to meet you all! It'll be fun blogging with you. :)

Nerdfighteria was not something I was instantly immersed in. I am a casual YouTube watcher. I subscribed to a lot of the big name YouTubers perhaps three or four years ago: sxephil, vlogbrothers, Fred, etc. I unsubscribed from the ones I didn't like, and kept watching the ones I did. I subscribed to the people those vloggers like, and eventually formed the network I watch now. So, for me, I can't even say when I started watching the videos. I can't say for sure when I even started to care about Nerdfighteria.

I bought An Abundance of Katherines on a whim, noticing John Green's name. I'm not into YA literature, but I knew he was a YouTuber, and I'll support an internet celebrity if I can. While it would never be a favorite of mine, it was certainly the most enjoyable piece of young adult fiction I had read. I got a bit more interested in the brothers, and started watching their archives. As a writer, John in particular was of interest to me because he had the rare vlog about writing. I never liked his other books, but 'Katherines' held a special place in my heart. I guess around now is when you would call me a fan, at least of John.

Hank is a different story. I don't like the acoustic guitar + singing about nerdy things combo much. I'm a metalhead, and while the subject matter might mean something to me... I wasn't going to be heading over to iTunes to grab the CD anytime soon, either. And science has always been my least favorite subject - I was always more of a Math and English sort of girl. But I watched his videos, if only for the sake of continuity, and he grew on me. I liked him as a person, even if I never really got very into his videos.

If there was a charity, I would donate. I liked and commented during Project for Awesome. I even started to get involved with the community, particularly once 'Your Pants' launched and it was easy to do so. But I do feel a bit alienated sometimes. I don't like Paper Towns, I don't own This Machine Pwns N00bs, and I don't get involved in projects like the recent 'Gussie Manlove' incident. I love the community, I love what Nerdfighteria is, where it comes from, and what we can do.

As for your questions:

I think I'd like my gravestone to say "She died young." I feel like I answered Christina's question rather thoroughly in my original post, but I guess the biggest difference is that I am generally happier now. College life, not having anyone close, it was stressful. Being out of college now and in a relationship has done wonders for me, and even though things still get tough, I feel like I have some support. And as for topics, I can't say I have much of a preference. As a cook and a writer, anything to do with food and books is certainly preferable. And of course I'm a Harry Potter nerd. :P Slytherin FTW.

Incidentally, my best friend is a student at BGSU.

Monday, March 21, 2011

French the Llama! It's Monday!

Welcome to Week 2! I loved reading everyone’s intros last week, and I can’t wait to continue reading this week. Our theme? Nerdfighteria, and how we became involved in it.

But before we get to that, let’s answer some questions/respond to some introductions, shall we?

Alexandra - The fact that you opened your post with a story of Norse mythology endears me to you forever. Firstly because I adore mythology (though I’m more familiar with Greek), and secondly because that’s exactly the same kind of snarky response I might offer. And your talk about not being what you thought you would in high school really resonated with me. Up until about a month ago, I knew exactly what I was doing next and what my life would look like. Then, through a series of unforeseen and earth-changing events, that all crumbled away, and I was left with no clue what happens next. Now I’m probably headed off in a direction I never expected to go. As this blog goes on, I’ll let you know for sure!

Carlyn - You wanted to know what I would like put on my tombstone, and I have to first off thank my friend Alicia for helping me with this answer. Not for coming up with it, but help wording it. See, I think everything sounds better in Latin, especially on tombstones, but I don’t speak Latin, so I enlisted Alicia’s help. We both struggled with wording and the sound of the phrase, but what was settled on in the end was this: Narratio pergit. It means “The story goes on,” which is my way of saying I was only ever part of a whole. I helped tell the story, but I never controlled it, and it will continue on without me, which is as it should be. I wrote a manifesto on this once for one of my theatre classes. The story goes on. I believe that with my whole heart.

Casey - Robert Fulghum for the win! I was going to comment on the Howard bit, but then my brother beat me to it, and I couldn’t very well comment on it after he had (not that there’s a high level of competition between us or anything). I love all your quotes and book references – we seem to have very similar literary tastes! I love Sandman, though I’ve only read the first volume, and Hitchhiker’s Guide and Ender’s Game, all referenced in the same post? Yes, please!

Christina - You asked for the biggest difference between myself a year ago and myself now. I thought long and hard about this question, and the conclusion I have come to is that there is no easy way to state the answer; it’s going to be sappy no matter what, so I’m just going to come out and say it. The biggest difference is my boyfriend.

And now to clarify. The biggest difference isn’t having a boyfriend, and it isn’t that my life suddenly obtained worth once I had a boyfriend. It’s what entering into a long-term relationship forced me to do that makes up the biggest difference. I have always been stubbornly self-sufficient – I rely on myself as much as possible and on others as little as I can get away with. That way, I’m not being a burden to anyone, and when other people disappoint me or fail to follow through, I don’t get hurt or suffer in any way. It’s a mentality born out of a childhood spent moving around and leaving friends behind every three years or so.

But I started dating my boyfriend Chase a little more than a year ago, and what happened then was something I hadn’t foreseen. All of a sudden, I was sharing my life with this other person who insisted on being let in, on doing things for me, on making me face the fact that I couldn’t always be self-sufficient and that letting other people in to help bear one’s burdens, while terrifying, makes the world an easier place to live in. It’s been a stressful year – my best friend went through a very messy ending of an abusive relationship; my mom was diagnosed with cancer; my plans for my future, which I thought were rock-solid, were pulled unceremoniously from beneath my feet – and if I hadn’t had Chase there to help bear the brunt of all that, I’m not sure where I’d be right now.

So, biggest difference between year-ago me and present-day me is that present-day me is a lot more stable and a lot more grounded. I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to be doing in six months, which is terrifying to me, but I have an anchor now, whereas a year ago, if faced with that realization, I would have been drifting helplessly with direction.

And now that I’ve spilled my soul to the Internet, onto happier things. Nerdfighting!

It is fallacious to say that I would not have become a Nerdfighter if my friend Maggie and I hadn’t stayed up until one in the morning the night we met talking about Harry Potter fanfiction and the differences between the Weasley twins, but it is also not incorrect to say that I did eventually become a Nerdfighter because of that conversation.

This is not because Maggie was a Nerdfighter; far from it. This was summer 2006, so Brotherhood2.0 wasn’t even an idea forming in the back of John Green’s mind. But because Maggie and I started a friendship cemented in a mutual love of Harry Potter that night, Maggie introduced me to her friend Heidi some four months later, and it was Heidi who introduced me to John and Hank.

Inadvertantly. Heidi wasn’t a Nerdfighter, either. She just had nothing better to do in the days before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released than troll the internet for Harry Potter related things and email the links to Maggie and I. One of those links was to a YouTube video that had been featured on the front page. I hopefully don’t have to tell you that the video in question was Accio Deathly Hallows.

I watched it and loved it so much that I was willing to overlook the fact that the singer was mispronouncing the word Accio (a huge concession for canon-obsessed me), and I watched the video several more times before I started wondering who this guy was and why he was talking to some unknown person named John and why he was going to dye his hair green on Friday. So I went to their channel, watched John’s most recent video, and quickly decided that whatever it was these two were doing was something I wanted to follow. So I scrolled back to January and spent the next two days catching up on everything the two had done. They were awesome, and I was hooked.

I haven’t been able to be massively active in the community, unfortunately, but I watch all the videos, I participate in the Project for Awesome as much as I can, and I recruit like mad (current total: both brothers, my boyfriend, the aforementioned Maggie and Heidi, and several members of my Internet Communities class).

When I started watching, I knew my brothers and I were the only Nerdfighters in our area, and I held onto that mindset, so I am always shocked to discover when people that I know casually in real life will perk their ears up when I mention John Green and come over and say “French the Llama!” and give me the Nerdfighter salute (Okay, spilling the beans here. That example? That was Carlyn. She and I know each other in real life. We both attend(ed) BGSU, and we’re in the same fraternity. There, Carlyn. We’re out, as it were). Shocked, but thrilled, of course. I love the new forum, though I don’t spend a lot of time there, and I will keep watching John and Hank as long as they keep making videos.

I love the Nerdfighting community and what it’s become. It’s what I pull out of my bag whenever people start talking about how relationships formed online and communities that exist online are somehow sub-par to those that exist in real life. I have watched incredibly close friendship develop out of Nerdfighteria, especially through collab channels (and hopefully, collab blogs!), and the things that Nerdfighteria has accomplished are monumental and have come about, in many cases, entirely because we are an online community, and that should never be so easily dismissed.

Sorry. I wrote a paper about that last semester. But I shall save soapboxes for soapbox week.

Now, then, for my question (and outside readers should feel free to answer this as well), I want to know what topics you want to write about/want to read others' thoughts about. Also, we’re all Harry Potter fans, right? *starts developing HP themes in the recesses of her mind*

Alexandra, I’ll see you tomorrow.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Who the eff is Friday?

Well, it’s finally Friday. I’ve really enjoyed reading all you guys’ posts this week and I’ve gotten more and more excited to write my own entry. Now that I’m sitting down and actually writing, however, I’ve suddenly gotten very nervous. There’s nothing for it but to type. Cassie, Alexandra, Carlyn and Casey- it was nice to meet you and I hope you enjoy my introduction.

Let’s start with the basics: my name’s Christina. I’ll be 22 in two weeks. I, like Carlyn, am also a senior at a very large Midwestern university, and I will be graduating in a month. For the past few months I’ve lived in a state of denial about college almost being over, but lately that fear and sadness has been turning into excitement. This change is probably due in no small part to my senior honors thesis which has become the center of my life and is due in two weeks. The end of college means my thesis will be complete, which is a very exciting thought to say the least. I could talk more about my thesis (which I am actually taking a break from to write this entry), but I’ll stop myself now so as to spare you all. You might be wondering what exactly it is I’m doing in college- I’ll tell you. I’m a double major in Psychology and French, focusing on the Psychology of language; I want to study second language acquisition in grad school. My thesis is on early language acquisition in English- and Mandarin-learning infants. I know, I know- I said I’d stop talking about my thesis. I swear I’m done now!

The subtheme of this week (along with the title of our project) seems to be the facets of each of our personalities, and I think this post will be no exception. I, as does everyone, have many different aspects to my personality. Growing up I always had a few different groups to which I belonged and this trend has continued through today. I think the fact of my different social groups became most clear to me in high school: there were my best friends, whom I’ve known for about 15 years; the honors students (those people you always end up in classes with seem to often form their own defacto group); and my orchestra and band friends. I very much enjoy belonging to different groups, but it did sometimes cause problems when I was younger. It’s hard to balance time, and when it’s time spent with friends that you’re trying to balance, it becomes even more difficult. I’m at risk for rambling, so, in conclusion: in high school I was a best friend, an honors student, and a violinist (and a synchronized swimmer, but I didn’t like that very much).

What else am I? I am an only child. The pros and cons of only child-dom have been widely discussed and now for my two cents: I want siblings. I’ve always wanted a sibling. In fact, when I was young (probably around five years old), I told my parents that I wanted a baby brother or sister for Christmas. They didn’t deliver. (Bad pun intended- that’s another characteristic of mine, I make bad jokes.) Sure, you get to do a lot of stuff that you might not be able to do with siblings, but who do you share it with? Your parents. Yes, they are great, but they just don’t offer the same kind of friendship and fun that siblings can. Family vacations as an only child are decidedly much less exciting than vacations with siblings. I am, of course, aware that I’m greatly romanticizing siblings, but the grass is always greener, right? So, added to the list of who I am: an only child desiring companionship.

My closest friends will probably also tell you that I can be blunt. And pessimistic. I prefer to say that I’m logical. I won’t argue that I definitely used to be pessimistic, but over the past year or so I think I’ve become quite optimistic. I’ve changed a lot in the past two years. I figured out what I want to do, I’ve become much more confident in myself, and I’ve become more independent. I’ve never had much success in relationships, my longest (and only) relationship lasted just about two months and I’m not sure how much it was really a relationship for either of us rather than a learning experience. I used to mope, saying things like “I wish I had a boyfriend, why can’t I find a boyfriend, yada yada.” About a year ago though, I realized that not only do I not need a boyfriend, I don’t even want one right now. I like being single, I like focusing on myself, I like having my own, great life. At this point in my life, being tied to someone else is an unpleasant prospect; I might even go so far as to say it’s one to be avoided. So, adding onto the list: I am logical, scientific, and independent.

This practically goes without saying (as we are all fellow nerdfighters), but I am a nerd. And a geek. I love Harry Potter. Oh, how I love Harry Potter. As the photo that best represents me, I chose a picture of me in front of Hogwarts at the Wizarding World. My friends and I went to the grand opening on June 18 last year and it was one of the best days of my life. Among my nerdy loves are Lord of the Rings, the internet, translation, and- of course- Harry Potter.

Overall, I am happy, which is something I haven’t always been able to say. I am happy with my life. I’m about to graduate from one of the world’s best universities with a degree in two fields I love, I have great friends, I have a place to live and food to eat. I don’t like to be sentimental and cheesy, so I will just say that I realize I am very lucky.

Carlyn asked what I want my tombstone to say. I can confidently say that this is something I had never thought of before…. At the moment all that comes to mind is, “All was well.” I’ll have to revisit this point next week because as much as Harry Potter is a huge part of my life, I’m not convinced I want it on my tombstone.

Now my question for you guys: what is the biggest difference between you now and you a year ago?

And now I get to say something that feels so cool: Cassie, I’ll see you Monday!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Who the Eff is Thursday?

Thursday can be many things, but I think Douglas Adams sums it up best in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. “ ‘This must be Thursday,’ said Arthur to himself… ‘I never could get the hang of Thursdays.’ ” I think that’s such a wonderful way to introduce a day, even if I myself quite like Thursdays. After all, Thursday is just one day before Friday, which is one day before the Weekend (I think that the Weekend deserves the capitol letter because of the feelings of whimsy and import it places upon us when we say and/or think of it).

However, this specific Thursday’s name is Casey. Or Shaffer, if you happen upon me while I’m performing my military duties. I am just one facet of Thursday, and these Thursdays are just one facet of me. There are many facets to my person. I’ll let Neil Gaiman explain how I feel upon this topic. Dream (of the Sandman series) states, “Each facet catches the light in its own way. It glints and sparkles and flashes uniquely. It would almost be possible to believe that the facet was the jewel; not just a tiny part of it. But then, as we move the jewel another facet catches the light…” (Sandman: The Kindly Ones, Gaiman). I think this goes a bit further in ideology than what John Green was saying in Paper Towns, about how each of us sees a person differently than everyone else sees that person, and all those views are both true and false. The quote from Sandman not only states that we are sometimes so enamored with our particular view of someone that we forget that there is something more than our ideas, but also that the person can reveal new ideas and beliefs over time. We are all multi-faceted jewels, and one shouldn’t be so dazzled by the sparkling light from one facet that they forget that there is an entire jewel to look at and admire.

I am an American Soldier. I am also a Nerdfighter, and a student, and a dreamer, and a creep. I am a sister, daughter, lover, fighter. I am all of these things and more. We are all more than our labels and honorifics. Like the Meredith Brooks song, we are all many different, sometimes contradictory, things.

My hope is that you will come to realize my many facets through this blog, and by observing mine, perhaps begin to explore those in yourself and the others around you.

And now that I have bored you with my philosophical soap-box, I will give you a little bit of background information so that you may start creating an idea of who I am (overall) in your head.

My name is Casey Marie Shaffer; three very generic names put together to create and very non-generic person. I have spent 20 years on this earth, and most of them have been spent reading, sleeping, drawing, writing, crying, hoping, watching, loving. I love reading books and listening to music, and I believe that they are the source of my joy when I’m not busy living, and often bring me joy when I’m in need.

I am not a Christian, though I used to be. I think I got tired of my and everyone else’s hypocrisy. I do believe in Howard, which is my silly pet name for the Higher Power who I believe to shape the universe. He’s a funny guy, that Howard; he always knows how to make my day by showing me the awesome in the world. I also don’t believe in Hell, but I do believe in Heaven, or at least, I believe in Paradise. Also, the idea of forever scares me. A lot.

I am a people apologist. I can empathize with just about anyone, and possibly everyone, though I haven’t yet heard any redeeming qualities about the people who protest the funerals of fallen soldiers (I’ll not now bore you with a rant, but rather wait until it’s fitting in with the topic of the week). This quality in myself reminds me a lot of Ender Wiggin, and I’d like to think that I could be a decent Speaker of the Dead.

I judge books by their covers. I don’t allow myself to be blinded to good books if they don’t have interesting covers, but I usually need a recommendation or two (or five) before I will actually pick it up and read it. However, the books I’m usually reluctant to read in the first place often turn out to be my very favorites. I initially thought Harry Potter looked like a stupid book, but once I had read the first chapter I was hooked, and ended up dedicating around eight years of my life to Harry and his friends (the only relationship I’ve had that lasted longer than a few weeks). However, interesting covers are also what attracted me to John Green, and eventually Nerdfighteria, so remember fledgling authors, when publishing your book make sure it has a nice cover. It doesn’t define the quality of the book, but it will definitely attract people who will find the underlying quality of the story.

I myself aspire to one day be an author. I want nothing more than to influence the hearts and minds of the people as my heart and mind has been touched by the many authors of the books I have read. Every book I read leaves a little bit of its message in me, and I am who I am because of what I have read. Books and words are powerful if used correctly, and just because it isn’t real doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

I feel like I’ve been writing a lot for this blog post, and it’s both exciting and daunting to know that I could write a good deal more. However, these are the words with which I leave you. Take them and learn from them, and do your best not to forget the hidden truth in lies, for lies sometimes hold the greatest amount of truth.

Peace and penguins to you all.

…And then there was one…

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Who the F is Wednesday?

I am Carlyn!

I am Wednesday--one of the more recent labels to add to my ever-growing list of roles.

I am what I think I am, and I am what you think I am, and I am what I think you think I am.

If that didn't clue you in, I am currently a student of psychology at a giant Midwestern cornfield university, graduating in May and then skipping off to Indiana (hopefully) to become a graduate student of social psychology (and counseling) at another giant Midwestern cornfield university.

That's what I'm doing right now, but it's not necessarily who I am. I am what I am, and what I have been, and what I will be.

Here's what I'm like now:

I recently started attending a Unitarian Universalist congregation in town, and I sing in the choir. It's like a normal church, except it has minimal unifying doctrine. And something like 15% of members are atheists, which is just right for me.

I am a cat person, even though I love dogs. My cat is named Carlisle--not after the vampire doctor guy. (He came with the name; I didn't intend to name him after either a Twilight character or myself, although my parents' cat [who was formerly my cat] is named Caroline, another name eerily similar to my own, and one which I also did not choose.)

I have four tattoos. When people discover this fact, they often declare that they did not take me for the “tattoo type”. I don’t know what a tattoo type is, but I like them.

I own a small jewelry business called ?Creations, LLC. I make jewelry and sell it (sometimes; it’s been a while since I made the effort to create or sell).

This last summer, my best friend/roommate and I fostered baby kittens. It was one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever done. I miss those little critters.

For some reason, I am truly terrible at relationships. My glorious record stands at 7 days, six years ago. Last semester, I thought I'd finally break that record, but instead we broke up... after four days. Someday I'll get the hang of it.

I’m in a band with a couple friends. We’re called Bob Michaels and the Gentle Puppies Rainbow. I write lyrics and sing the occasional harmonies. My stage name is Pies Rainbow.

In the summer, I have been known to build snowmen out of vanilla ice cream in the grocery store parking lot in the middle of the night.

I have both synesthesia and automatonophobia. One is fun; the other is scary.

I eat most of my meals with chopsticks. Few foods cannot be eaten with chopsticks. These can often be drunk.

I'm six foot two standing barefoot, but I have figured out a lot of ways to stand that make my height less conspicuous.

I start writing things with the full intention of having something grand to say, and then I think of something else just as profound to add, and I get distracted, so I

One of my favorite things in the world is inside jokes with friends. Especially those that take on lives of their own.

I’ve been a Nerdfighter for less than a year, having been introduced to the idea through some friends at the beginning of last semester. BEST KIND OF FRIENDS

I have one younger sister who is in her first year of college. She is a permanent delight.

Here’s what I used to be:

I was raised in a Baptist church, but no longer subscribe to its tenets. I didn’t have a world-shakingly bad experience with it or anything, but once I began to really examine the world as it is, I realized that I had never quite fit in that worldview to begin with.

I spent the first year of my college career as a music education major, with a double primary specialization on oboe and viola. After a year, I switched my degree path to bachelor of musical arts with minors in entrepreneurship and editing. The year after that, I realized that I didn’t want to do music, like, at all, so I switched my degree path again to bachelor of liberal studies with concentrations in music, entrepreneurship, and applied social psychology. At the beginning of this year, I made the official switch to bachelor of science in psychology; after shifting some course planning around, I have finally settled in a route toward a bachelor of arts in psychology, and that is the degree I will be matriculating with in May.

I once worked for the Mafia… as a banquet server in a party center owned by a family with mob ties. It was interesting and makes for a funny little icebreaker in groups of new people.

Here’s what I hope to be:

I don’t really know yet what I want to do in my career. I am excited to explore the options in front of me, though.

I do know what kind of person I want to be. I want to be open and loving and thoughtful and happy and surrounded by people that I love.

An explanation of my photo:

I often describe myself in terms of what kind of turtle I am at the time. If I’m sleep deprived, I’m a sleepy turtle. If something spectacular is happening, I become the most excited turtle of all. I found this picture on, and I think that being an awesome fun turtle is a really good goal.

MY question for everybody else: What do you want your tombstone to say?

Casey, see ya tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Who the eff is Tuesday?

Tuesday derives from Teiwaz, more popularly known as Týr or Mars. Týr, my favorite of all Norse gods, is perhaps most famous for the story of Fenrir. The wolf needed to be shackled, lest it would be a danger to the gods, yet he could break free of anything they put around him. At last, they created a shackle made of unbreakable silk, but Fenrir was suspicious and agreed only to be bound if someone put their hand in his mouth. Týr agreed, knowing that the shackles would not break, and lost his hand for it.

Oh! You wanted to know about me? Well, you can call me Alexandra, or Ophiucha, in the future. My full name is Alexandra Victoria Hollingshead, though my surname is going to be Smith come August 15th. The man who is going to simplify my name is humorously named Alexander. Ophiucha, if you cared, comes from the constellation 'snake bearer'.

I am a nineteen year old woman, born September 2nd, who at one point considered herself the typical 'woman of tomorrow'. I was in the Top 10 of my graduation class, I had excellent scores on the SAT, I got accepted to a wonderful college in Vancouver, and I had intended to become a translator of books. It took about three months for me to realize that I could not learn a foreign language, and about a year more for me to realize that, short of going for medicine or law, college was not for me. I could not learn something that could not be applied to my job. I left my university late last year.

It is odd to think about, really. Where I am now. Everything about me now. I was very different in high school. I made a promise to never marry a man with a simple surname, particularly a short one, for I pride myself in the uniqueness of 'Hollingshead' in America. I am engaged to a Smith. I certainly would not have considered forgoing a college education, even if I just got an English degree for the sake of taking up a teaching job. Yet here we are. I was proud and boisterous, and now I am cynical and shy. I could read Cassandra Clare and enjoy it for the demons, yet now I cannot read past the bad writing and overused story lines. I spend twice the time I once did online. But I don't regret it.

My tastes are more refined, my interests more secure, my opinions more concrete, and my knowledge more widespread than I ever thought it could be. I have fallen in love with a man who loves my cynicism, yet he's the sweetest man I've met. I have found a passion for cooking, and am free to spend hours in the kitchen preparing a meal. I live in a country that I love far more than the one I was born to, and though I miss certain aspects of my youth, I could never go back to the way I was.

I love many things. I love fantasy books that were written contemporaneous with or before J.R.R. Tolkien. The King of Elfland's Daughter, The Faerie Queene, The Worm Ouroboros, Titus Groan, there are just so many masterpieces that have been all but lost to time. I love cheese, my favorite being Bleu d'Auvergne. It is a strong blue cheese, but it isn't as salty and it is nearly buttery in terms of its texture. Wonderful to spread on some thinly cut baguettes. I love unreliable narrators. Vladimir Nabokov was the master at that particular facet of writing. Damn if I didn't enjoy reading Lolita through Humbert's eye. I love bad movies. Particularly zombie movies. One in particular, Wild Zero, chronicles the events of an alien invasion in Japan, which causes zombies for reasons unexplained, and the only way to defeat them is through the power of rock n' roll.

I am Alexandra Victoria Hollingshead (to-be Smith), I am a nineteen year old woman with a knack for writing and cooking who dropped out of college to find herself. I grew up in New York, in the richer part of Long Island, to a British father, New York mother, and with a brother who likes lyricism. I'm a misanthrope with a lot of friends. I am a social democrat, an atheist, a curvy girl, a novelist, a foodie, a Slytherin, and a nerdfighter. I'm a lot of things, and perhaps this year you'll learn what those things are.

I haven't had a picture of me taken in years. Not with any recent friends, not with my fiance, not with anyone or anything I care for. If I had to choose, I'd say a picture of me at three with my Nonna and a boa constrictor.

I'll be seeing you tomorrow, Carlyn.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Who the Eff is Monday?

Who the Eff is Monday?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here. This is Monday:

That is me, at Platform 9 3/4 in London, reading the British edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, specifically the chapter where Harry first gets to Platform 9 3/4. And already, you should know a few things about me.

I often wish I could just continually use pictures and not have to bother trying to bend words to my will, but if I was satisfied with that, I wouldn’t be a writer. So I will, instead, use my thousand words (and then some, probably) and give you all a proper introduction.

So. The easy answer:

Monday is Cassie. She is 22 years old and recently obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in Youth Theatre from Bowling Green State University. And she hates introducing herself.

Don’t get me wrong; I love to make new friends, but I always feel slightly awkward meeting people, especially if I don’t have a script. If I have a script, the introduction is easy:

“Hi, my name is Cassie and I’ll be your Orientation Leader!”

“Hi, I’m Matt’s sister.”

“Hello, I work for Horizon Youth Theatre.”

“Hey! I’m a 2007 Nerdfighter!”

But without that script, when left on my own to decide what’s most important about me, what a person most needs to know to know who I am? Then the introduction becomes more difficult. I have plenty of titles to choose from – preacher’s kid, honors student, director, actor, writer – but choosing one always seems to preclude choosing the others, and none give an entirely accurate portrait of myself.

So, faced with this dilemma, I began searching for a word that would work better, and I finally hit upon it. See, before I was a writer or a director or an actor, before being a sister meant anything to me, and before I understood that being a preacher’s kid was a distinction all its own, I was one thing. I was a storyteller.

When I was little, my favorite place to go shopping was Goodwill with my grandmother, and so every time I went to visit, we’d hop in the car, and she’d go buy me clothes. When I was in preschool, my favorite addition to my wardrobe was a green and purple striped shirt with a megaphone on the front that read “Star Club.” I loved that shirt the moment I saw it (don’t judge four-year-old me, okay? I try not to), and I was so excited to wear it to school, but it had an unforeseen consequence. All of my classmates suddenly started asking me what the Star Club was. Well, I didn’t know. I was four, and it wasn’t technically my shirt. Plus, I wasn’t old enough to understand things like marketing gimmicks and the fact that the advertised Star Club probably didn’t actually exist. All I knew was that I was in a problematic situation: My classmates were asking me a question, and I didn’t have an answer.

So I made one up.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I was not a pathological liar as a child by any means. Far from it. I operated under a strict code of morals. I never lied when the question was important: “Did you really clean your room?” or “Did you practice your piano lesson three times a day, six days this week?” (Okay, so I may have fudged that last one a little. But I could do the math. Really, I was being asked to play through my lesson eighteen times a week, so did it really matter how I split up those eighteen repetitions? I have a feeling my answer was likely markedly different from that of my parents. . .)

But the point is, I never lied when the lie could hurt someone or get me out of trouble or earn me something I didn’t deserve. But if the answer didn’t matter and the truth was boring, why not embellish it? Why not make something up? This was pre-Google, so as long as I worded it right, my classmates would never find out I was just making up this grand Star Club I told them I used to belong to (Golden Phrase for a storytelling preacher’s kid? “Before I moved here.” Worked beautifully in my advantage on more than one occasion).

But even after I had advanced beyond creating backstories for my wardrobe, I remained an avid storyteller. During recess in kindergarten and first grade, when everyone else seemed to be fighting for the swing or the slide or playing Chase the Boys or keepaway, my friends and I were enacting epic adventures that involved wizards and dragons and keeping the playground safe from the dark magical forces that threatened it. It was an ongoing saga, every day at recess, right up until I moved away. At my new school, a similar storytelling saga began. We were older and times were changing, so we were superheroes battling evil monsters and our own conflicted humanity (this game may or may not have been heavily influenced by The Secret World of Alex Mack).

Unfortunately for me (in some ways), when I moved away again, it was right in the middle of that awkward period where being different was frowned upon and having an imagination was grounds for ostracizing, AKA. Middle School. All the girls my age wanted to pretend to be was horses, and that just wasn’t cutting it for me. I started spending a lot of time on the swings.

But my imagination had to go somewhere. So I started writing. My first few stories were horrificly cliched, monstrously autobiographical pieces of fiction, but I wrote them, and gradually, I got better. I discovered fanfiction and fairy tales, and my love for words and stories continued to grow. I began to study them, to collect them, and to really start to think about how they were put together and how they might be better told.

I had been acting since I was six, but it was around this time that I started taking theatre classes with my dad where the goal was to write our own play. I loved that. It had been fun to bring someone else’s story and character to life, of course, but when it was my own character, and my own story, I was hooked into theatre more certainly than I ever had been before. It was also at this time that I started working behind the scenes, stage managing for my dad and seeing what he did as a director and starting to realize that what he did was what I wanted to do.

You could say it was inevitable, really.  After all, my dad has a PhD in theatre and he taught and directed me from the ages of 12 to 18. My mom is a minister, so I listened to her tell Bible stories and root out the messages in them and tie them back to her childhood once a week for eighteen years. My mom is also a genealogist on the side, and my dad runs a Readers Theatre troupe called Spoken Images, so I have grown up fully immersed in stories and storytelling. So, yeah. You could say it was inevitable, and you’d probably be right.

These days, I put my college degree to good use, working for Horizon Youth Theatre. I’ve directed two full length plays for them, an adaptation of Cinderella and an adaptation of The Phantom Tollbooth. I’m directing their summer musical, too: Alice in Wonderland. I taught two classes in adapting fairy tales to the stage at their summer camps last year, and I am currently teaching four classes: two dedicated to writing their own play and two dedicated to adapting works of children’s literature into plays, The Tale of Despereaux and The Name of This Book is Secret, to be specific. I write letter games (collaborative storytelling) with a couple friends and my brother, and then a whole lot of original stuff on my own, most of it centered around fairy tales and retelling them.

To wrap up this overly long introduction, I am a lot of things. Daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin. College graduate, preacher’s kid, Harry Potter fan, Nerdfighter. Writer, actor, director, teacher. But I’ve finally found the word that touches on all of them and really seems to sum up my essence, as it were.

I am Monday. My name is Cassie. I am 22 years old. I am a storyteller. And I am very pleased to make your acquaintance.

My question for the rest of you: What photograph of you best encompasses who you are? If you can post it, great! If not, just describe it for us.

Alexandra, I look forward to meeting you tomorrow!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Who are we and what are we doing here?

"There is no them; just facets of us." - John Green

Hello! You've stumbled upon the Facets of Us collaborative blogging project.

Who are we?
Five college-aged Nerdfighting girls from all over the country

What are we? A collaborative blogging project

When are we? Every weekday!
Monday - Cassie
Tuesday - Alexandra
Wednesday - Carlyn
Thursday - Casey
Friday - Christina

Where are we? Right here at Tell your friends!

Why are we? Because we all met in YourPants, and we'd like to get to know each other a little better.

How are we? Very simple. Here are the rules:

1. Each girl will post a blog on her assigned day before midnight in her time zone.
2. Each blog post must address, at least in part, the central question or theme of the week.
3. Each blog post must answer any questions asked by the girls in the week since the poster's last blog post.
4. Failure to follow these rules will result in an image or text-based punishment, to be decided by the other bloggers.

This project will begin on Monday, March 14, 2011 and continue through Friday, March 16, 2012. What will happen in that time? Only time itself can tell.

Week 1 Central Question: Who the eff are you?