Oh Hai, 2017

It’s a been a rough year.  The internet is pretty united on that front.  Like a zillion famous people died, and then there’s this whole election thing, and yeah.  Things are maybe not the best.

But hey, now we have a whole brand new year in front of us.  And I was thinking, maybe it’s time to change some things about how we do this whole “resolution” deal that everyone seems so fond of.

Not that I’m against resolutions.  It’s a new year, obviously let’s decide to do some things differently.  But I feel like so many people resolve the same things every year.  We all want to exercise more, eat better, work harder, be nicer, whatever.  Blah blah blah.  And while these are all good things, they’re so, um, boring.  In fact, they are so uninteresting that most people forget they’ve made them within a matter of hours.

So if you want to lose weight or start eating kale or whatever in 2017, that’s great go ahead and do that.  If not, I’ve compiled a short list of some slightly more interesting resolutions you may want to consider.

 

  1. Resolve to disregard a meaningless social norm.  Just pick one.  For example, you could resolve to say hello to every person you walk past, or you could resolve to turn off your phone every time you’re eating a meal with another person.  Or you could resolve to start answering the question “how are you?” honestly instead of just saying “good” in response.  Dance to the music in the mall.  You get the idea.
  2. Resolve to DO things with your friends instead of “hang out”.  People want to get together?  Say “yeah” and then suggest bowling or laser tag or hiking or a picnic.  Make NEW memories instead of rehashing old ones.
  3. Make a list of people you love who live at least an hour away to randomly  send snail mail too.  Resolve that by the end of 2017 you will have written each of those people one letter, just because.
  4. Find one societal issue that really bothers you, and resolve to do something about it.  Whether it’s by donating money, materials, time or all of the above.  If you’re having trouble thinking of or finding something, here’s a link to this cool charity social media app that’s getting released soon. http://www.pointapp.org/
  5. Find one or two other people and resolve to explore new music together.  Take turns finding new albums and spend one to two weeks listening to each one.  By the end of the year, you could potentially have found up to 52 new artists.  The best part is you can do this even if your music group is crunched for time – discussion can easily happen over group text.
  6. Resolve to discover the ways the people around you give and receive love.  Think of concrete ways you can change the way you love others based on their primary means of giving and receiving love.  If you’ve never heard of the 5 love languages, you can read more about them here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Five_Love_Languages
  7. Google the tourist attractions in either the city where you live now, or the city where you grew up, (funny how we never really get to know our own homes).  Visit at least one in the upcoming year.
  8. Resolve to eliminate the words “maybe” and “we’ll see” from your vocabulary.  Either say yes, or say no.  Be the one person who isn’t afraid to make decisions.
  9. Take something that you love, and find a way to enjoy it differently.  For example: I love Mario Kart.  I think it’s great.  You know what’s also fun?  Blind Mario Kart.  One person (blindfolded) drives, another person gives verbal directions.  It becomes an entirely new interaction.
  10. Think of something in politics that you actually care about.  (I know we’re all pretty fed up with politics but…if we don’t participate nothing will change).  Actually write a letter to your congressman about it.  Or heck, you could write the president I guess.  But really.  Write a letter.

 

There you have it.  A list of 10 interesting things that you might choose to do with your new year.  Happy resolving!

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” – G.K. Chesterton

Bad Date

Like our good friend Indiana Jones, most of us either have or will experience at least one bad date.

o3UbUjZ.gif

Luckily for us, they’re not usually life threatening.  Or heck, maybe John Rhys-Davies was there to keep you from committing to your bad date.  Whatever works for you.

Sorry.  I just REALLY wanted to make the Raiders reference.

 

Anyway, the good news about bad dates is that once you’ve finally managed to run away you at least have a good story to share.

This is mine.  Just be warned, it’s long.

 

When I was in college I worked as a pianist for one of the local churches.  I played for the “contemporary” worship service on Sundays and accompanied the choir.  The rest of the worship band members were volunteers, and our drummer was especially spotty in terms of attendance.  Translation: I worked there for at least six months before I even met him.

Anyway, after a few weeks of coexisting, I was playing the prelude (Clair de lune if you want to know) and he sort of looked at me strangely and said “Are you married?”

Sorry, what?

  1. Look for a wedding ring before asking that question
  2. Don’t talk to people when they’re trying to play the piano, especially Clair de lune – that piece of music is sacred
  3. We’ve never spoken before and that’s your opener?

After a few seconds of awkward silence, I cleared up the confusion by saying “What? No, I’m barely twenty-two!”  (Side note: never use your age as an excuse.  I know that now).  Mr. Smooth then responded “Oh! Huh, I definitely thought you were like thirty or something.”

deadpan-o

Men, let’s just all agree that if you want to a girl to like you, you shouldn’t tell her she looks like she’s thirty when she’s just told you she’s actually twenty-two.

I figured that was the end of the weirdness, but I was wrong.  A few hours later I got a text from an unknown number.  It was my new friend introducing himself, because apparently he’d gotten my number from somewhere instead of asking me for it face to face.

Men, let’s all agree that if you want a girl to like you, you should just ask her for her number instead of creepily finding it somewhere.

At this point, I really should have just crushed his soul and been done with it.  But we worked together and I didn’t want it to be weird, and I kept telling myself that maybe he was just nervous and not actually terrible at social interaction.

After a few weeks of awkward texting, where I consciously waited hours before responding, or “forgot” to text back (I know, I should have just been straightforward), he finally asked if he could take me to dinner.  Over text.

Again, I should have crushed his soul right then.  But I didn’t like confrontation. I was still (like an idiot) hoping that maybe I’d be surprised.  I also have a serious problem with saying no to free dinner. (Side note: don’t ask people on dates over text.  Look at them in their face and ask.  Or call them.)

Fast forward like a week, it was Wednesday, the big night, and I was super pissed that I had said I’d go.  Like, legitimately angry to be going on a date.  I had a life! Homework! Stuff to do!

I decided I was going to take a nap, in protest of my poor life choices.  Like “I’m not even going to try to look nice because I’m mad” type thing.

I get a call about 15-20 minutes before Mr. Smooth was supposed to pick me up.  It was him.  He was early. Super early.  So early that his call woke me up.  Again, there were like a million signs that this was all going to end poorly.  After he drove around the block long enough for me to get ready, I hop in the car to find that he has no place in mind for us to go.  Nothing, nada. Which means we drove around my neighborhood for like 15 minutes trying to find somewhere to eat.

4b6e852ec4f07c89bc4bb139a80441ae

We finally land on Cosi (yay sandwiches?), which was fine as far as free food goes I guess.  Then he spends the meal doing two things: assuming that we would be going on a second date, and complaining about all the people that we worked with that he didn’t like.

 

Oh, and telling me how terrible and joyless life after college is.  So three things I guess.  One of my favorite lines: “On our second date we should go see Anchorman 2!”

No.  No we should not.

 

Fortunately, it was a weeknight, which meant I could pull the “hey, I really need to get some homework done” trick.  Ah, homework.  What a lifesaver.

 

As I got out of the car, I decided that the kindest thing to do would be to put him out of his misery (finally).  Yes, I KNOW I should have done it way sooner.  I explained as gently as I could that there would not be a second date, and he drove away into the darkness.

 

But that was not the end.  A few minutes later, I received a text from Mr. Smooth.  It said something close to this: “Had a great time tonight, you’re pretty hot, it’s too bad you don’t want anything ;)”

 

…Maybe he wasn’t trying to be creepy.  Maybe.

 

He texted me again three weeks later.  When I ignored him he (mercifully) gave up.

 

God was definitely looking out for me, because I worked at the church for almost a year afterwards and I never saw him again.

 

Poor Mr. Smooth.  I hope he found somebody to go with him to see Anchorman 2.

Facebook Rules to Live By

There are many things about Facebook that are good.  Instant connection to friends, free communication, picture sharing, inflated senses of self-importance, the ability to stalk our friends’ lives without being obvious, the list goes on.

However, as Peter Parker learned early on in his superhero career:

tumblr_static_8qp4c83f1go4cks8cs0scow8s

The Facebook experiences of many could be improved with the observation of a few simple rules.  They are as follows:

1) If it’s deeply personal, emotional or disturbing, don’t post it. Please. Take your problems to someone who will actually be able to help, i.e. a trusted friend, parent, spouse or….a therapist.  I’d be willing to bet that most of your 1,883 Facebook friends aren’t qualified to handle whatever it is that you’re dealing with, they’re just uncomfortable.

2) If it’s something that no one in this galaxy, (even undiscovered alien life forms) could possibly find interesting or relevant (for example: “So bored rn” ) don’t post it. No one cares that you’re bored.  It’s your problem, fix it.  No need to tell the rest of us.

3) No vague-booking, fishing for compliments, or pointless complaining.  Only post things that are thought-provoking, relevant and important personal news (ex: “I just got into law school!”), or are legitimately funny.  Nobody wants to read anything else.

3) If someone posts inane and irrelevant things, or uncomfortable personal things, they are entitled to a grace period of three posts.  If they exceed this amount you may unfollow them, guilt-free.  And they’ll never know.  (I’m pretty sure I’ve unfollowed at least 50 of my Facebook friends.)

4) Don’t EVER post that awful “Facebook is legally blah blah blah not allowed to blah blah blah my stuff blah blah blah” thing.  Just….no.  Stop.

5) No mirror selfies.  No.  Not ever.  Especially not as your profile picture.

6) Let’s say that you are uploading a bunch of photos.  You notice that in one photo, one of your friend’s heads is just barely identifiable.  Don’t tag them. There is absolutely no point.  Unless they have an extremely amusing (and perceivable) expression, they won’t care that they are in the picture, and no one else will even notice them.  You’ll just be clogging up their profile page, and then they will untag themselves and it will be awkward. Save yourself the pain.

7) Try to keep profanity out of your posts and comments.  I know it seems cool now, but don’t forget that everything on Facebook stays there.  I mean, let’s think about this. What if you suddenly become facebook friends with your Grandma Mildred, and she sees all this crap on your profile? Well, you can kiss all your Christmas gifts goodbye for one thing.  Don’t tick off your grandma, kids.

8) Listing your friends as your parents and siblings is generally funny and cute to a point.  When you suddenly have 30 brothers and sisters, 6 fathers and 3 mothers, people are going to think you’re part of a polygamist cult.  I realize that you don’t want to offend anyone by subtly communicating “I love this person, she’s basically my sister, but I don’t love YOU enough to list you as my sister”, but seriously.  No one has that many family members or close friends.

9) Listing yourself in your “favorite quotes” section is not a good plan.  inside jokes only make sense to a limited number of people, everyone else will just be confused or skeptical and people will be inclined to assume that you are full of yourself.  Quote somebody like Mother Teresa, nobody thinks she was egotistical.

10) Don’t get into Facebook arguments.  It’s not worth it.  If you have serious beef with someone else’s opinion, argue in a personal message.  Or better yet, call them or get coffee and talk it out or something.  Stay away from that awful comment spiral, it’s a slippery slope.

There are of course more things that we could say, but these are the essentials.  Adhere to these rules and I guarantee your Facebook experience will improve.  Everyone loves a conscientious social media user.

Dear Freshmen: It’s Okay If You Aren’t Totally In Love With College Yet

When people are going off to start their big, grown up college career, all the adults say the same thing: “I loved college! You’re going to have so much fun! Savor every moment, it’s over so fast!”

Which is probably true.  Those people probably did love college.  But I remember thinking that meant that I was going to love college too.  Like right out of the gate, puppies and rainbow fantasy land as soon as I put my Target lamp on my dorm desk.

This is my real-life freshman year dorm room desk setup.  Please note the Target lamp.

This is my real-life freshman year dorm room desk setup. Please note the Target lamp.

So when I got there, and then I didn’t love it I thought I was broken.  All the normal kids were loving it, and making zillions of new friends and I just wanted to be anywhere but where I was.  I felt like the only kid on the whole campus that wasn’t wholeheartedly embracing “the best time of your life”.

But of course that wasn’t true.  In fact, I haven’t talked to anyone that’s had a legitimately wonderful first semester.

Not.

One.

Person.

Which is not meant to frighten you.  I’m just giving you permission to acknowledge that maybe you don’t like school right now.  And that’s completely normal and okay.  It gets better, I promise.

Here is a list of perfectly normal things that happen to most people their first semester:

  1. You realize that everyone else in your major is just as good at stuff as you are, or better.  Stop seeing others as competitors and start seeing them as friends.  Future employers will care less about your grades and more about how you relate to others.
  2. Trying to find someone to go with you to the dining hall for every single meal gets exhausting after about the first week.  It’s okay.  Take a book and eat alone, I promise no one is assessing your social abilities.  Lots of people eat alone.
  3. You miss home.  That’s normal.  Call your parents, go home for a weekend, ask them to bring your dog to visit you, whatever.  They raised you for eighteen years, you’re allowed to miss them.
  4. Your high school friendships start to be less close.  This can be sad, but is also normal.  Most of the time, this doesn’t mean that you are no longer friends, but only that you have less in common to talk about. You’re both meeting new people and trying to transition into a new place.  They aren’t gone forever. Accept the distance, but stay in touch.  You can still enjoy coffee dates when you’re both home on break.
  5. Making new friends on purpose is hard.  Figuring out who, among the myriad of strangers you’ve just met, will be an actual good friend is difficult and awkward.  The friends you make during orientation probably won’t be the friends you take pictures with on graduation day.  It takes time to find your place, and that time will feel uncomfortable.  It’s okay, everyone feels awkward about it, nobody remembers how to make friends (it’s been so long since you’ve had to!)

There are, of course, other things that could be added to this list.  But my point is take a breath.  Let things happen.  Work hard, be kind, and be wise.  Everything will shake out soon.  But don’t feel like you have to pretend everything is just great when it isn’t.    Nobody loves their first semester.  Some people have better first semesters than others, but it’s hard for everyone.   You aren’t broken, you’re just feeling the transition.  Things will look up soon.

And if they don’t, don’t be afraid to make changes.  Change your major, change your roommate, transfer schools. Lots of people do that, it’s okay.

Don’t worry though.  You probably truly will really enjoy your college experience.  And maybe someday you’ll be the one glowing about how wonderful it all was.  Just don’t forget that awkward first few months.

Happens to everyone.