Hey, wanna snort some coke? No? How bout we play flappy bird?

“This game is evil!”
“I hate my friend for introducing to this game!”
“The game is not fun, but it is addicting.”

These are things that I have heard and seen people say about this game called “Flappy Bird.”  Everyone is talking about it.  It quickly became the most downloaded app in a week.  Then the creator destroyed everyone’s lives by deleting it.  And my instant response was “NO.”

To be fair… My instant response was “no” mostly because I hate jumping on bandwagons. Call it my “pre-hipster snobbery complex” (that I’ve had since I was at least 10… before hipsters were even a twinkle in the sociomusic scene’s eye) ((please tell me you saw what I did there).  ANYWAYS,  I’ve been this way for a long time, and it drives my mom crazy.  I refused to ever get into Harry Potter (still have not read or seen any harry potter book/movie)… In junior high everyone started reading Ted Dekker books and it took me two years to be willing to touch one… I turned my nose up so high at all things Twilight.  And yes… I have snubbed the Hunger Games as well.  I do it PURELY out of pride and a desire to be different and possibly to make myself feel like I’m better than those who give in to bandwagon.  It’s BAD.  Seriously.  If I was to sit in a sermon on pride… this is right where my mind would go.  But then you add in the fact that everyone is saying it’s addicting… and that’s when I knew I couldn’t touch it.

Seriously, I’m currently on level 419 on Candy Crush.  I have procrastinated dozens of papers, blanked out of hundreds of one-on-one conversations, and tuned out of thousands of class lectures because of that game.  I know how bad addicting app games can be.  I knew I couldn’t get into flappy bird.  So every time I saw those two words on my social media time lines… I quickly kept scrolling.  I couldn’t let myself even read what people were saying about it.  But now and then, I would see a post, hear a conversation, scroll a little slower over that buzzfeed article… and eventually I was curious.

I thought to myself… “I mean, everyone else is doing it. It looks fun!”  and decided to make a deal with myself.  I would download it, play it for a couple minutes to see what it was all about, then delete the app before I went to sleep.

So there I was, sitting in bed, reading the app reviews while I waited for it to download.  I sat there with a smug  smile on my face thinking of how fun it was going to be be to beat my roommates score effortlessly and send her a screen shot.   I started up the app and made my first flappy bird tap ever.

And got a score of zero.

I laughed at myself, shrugging it off that I just wasn’t ready and didn’t understand how high the bird would go when I tapped, and I played it again.  Zero.  Again.  Zero.  Zero.  Zero.  Zero.  Then FINALLY I got one point.  One measly little point.  And then I remembered the words of my roommate “It took me an hour to get past four!”  And determination set in.   I focused on the screen, played around with tapping variations, tried to establish a rhythm, played round after round after round.  5 minutes of playing had gone by and I was still stuck at 3.  I wondered how bad I must have been to not be getting anywhere.  I realized by this point I had played longer than “a couple minutes” and still had not reached my goal.  So I said screw it and kept playing.

It was so easy to play.  I was hooked.  Game play lasted only a few seconds and you could just easily restart.  And unlike candy crush, you weren’t limited to a certain amounts of lives.  Endless game play.    I found myself zoned in and hooked like I had never been with candy crush or mario kart or jigsaw puzzles.  I found myself physically reacting in anger to the game, especially with all those ads that slowed the game down and made it glitch out.  I realized what was going on and it was scary.

That’s when I made myself delete it and vowed not to touch the game again.  Why?  Because it’s just not wise.   First off, you’re choosing to do something that you know is addictive just to experience some fun.  Um, hello? Drugs?  Secondly, what an awful way to treat yourself.  The game builds up your confidence, making you think “I can do it!  I can beat my high score!” only for you to fail at such a seemingly simple task, destroying your confidence and making you feel stupid.  And thirdly, part of the draw people have to this game is trying to beat each others high scores. Not in a sportsmanlike competition kind of way, but in a bragging, pride, “I want to humiliate you by proving I’m better” kind of way.   Remember that smug smile I had at the thought of crushing my roommates hopes and dreams by screen shotting my high score to her?  Hello, worm in my heart that is sin.  Nice to see you and your oh-so blatantly pleasurable evil self again.

I’m glad the creator removed it from the app store.  I really wonder what it says about our society that we can willingly allow ourselves to get sucked in to a simplistic game and become so invested in it in all the wrong ways.  I mean really, people are trying to sell their phones with flappy bird on it for anywhere between $300 to $100,000.  This is ridiculous guys.  C’mon!

I get it.  It’s just a game.  It’s just some simple fun.  But everyone needs to stop and check themselves.  Know your limits.  If you can enjoy this game without letting yourself play it for hours on end?  Play it.  If you can send your high scores back and forth with your friends with nothing but friendly competition as your motive?  Go ahead.  If you can play this game without screaming at your phone or chucking it?  Have fun.   But if you recognize that you’re going too far, show some discernment and delete it.  You’re better off without it.

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Smoke

I am not the passionate being I once was.
So alive and yearning to consume anything I could grasp.

My desires like smothered embers have changed.
To wisps of smoke, curling peacefully through the air.

It was always the smoke I liked best.
The light was never so intriguing as the cloud it gave way to.

Every flame must be snuffed eventually,
or else it rages into a destructive monster, eating everything in its way.

I always thought the smoke was death.
That being blown out was the end.
But maybe, quite possibly, the smoke is a life of its own.

Life so beautiful in faint swirls, forgotten and unimportant. Unnoticed.
That’s where I’ve wanted to be.

I have wanted to be the calm gray.
I have longed for the afterthought.
I have needed to be in the so-called mundane.

I sometimes think back on my wick where I burned, and smoldered,
and cried out that I could never be quenched.
I miss that spark a bit sometimes, and what I felt it said about me.

But I was meant to be smoke.
I was meant to be the light scent in life.
I was meant to be the smaug momentarily hanging in the air.
I was meant to be blown where ever life sent me,
not standing obstinate against gales that would overtake me.

I don’t need to be fire.
I don’t want to burn.
I don’t want to be hungry for life
I just want to be a puff
I just want to float gently
I just want to be satisfied with my everyday.

The Hipster Freshman: A “How To” Guide on Being the Savviest New Kid Around

Being hipster is cool right now.  Don’t do what everyone else is doing.  Be one step ahead of the game.  Do something trendy before it becomes trendy.   And if you’re a true hipster, this applies to every area of your life.  It comes with ease.   But nothing tests the hipster soul more than that one sacred rite of passage.  College.

I’m not talking any kind of college experience.  I’m talking the freshman college experience.  You just graduated high school.  You were a senior.  The top dog.  You were the coolest of the cool.  You were aloof.  And now you’re off to embark on a new journey.  You’re going to do it right.  You’re striking off on your own without the parental units.  You’re establishing your identity.  Watch out life.  Here comes… you!

But how can you be “the new kid in town” without sticking out like a sore thumb?  How do you blend in?  How can you avoid being…. well… This guy.
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Being someone who has gone through the freshman orientation process twice (that’s what you get for transferring after your first semester), and has been an orientation leader every semester since, I think I can offer some solid advice to the (high school) Class of 2013 on how to be cool, how to smoothly glide into campus life, and how to blend in even as a freshman.  Because to be perfectly and brutally honest, you’re not as impressive as you were in high school anymore.  That doesn’t mean you aren’t special, or loved, or unique.  It just means all those “top dog” points you’ve been used to having… They’ve been wiped clean.

But before you read any of this… Remember, we were all freshman at some point.   The reason we can spot these things is because we all did them. Being a freshman isn’t a problem.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Your campus is excited to have you.   So why would someone need a “how to guide” on how to not be an obvious freshman?  The things freshmen do that make them so obviously a freshman are things that clog up the system.   They slow down everyday life on campus.  They cause traffic to stop, lines to gather, and pedestrian collisions.  It’s not a problem to be a freshman, it’s just a good idea to try to slide into the campus life as quickly and smoothly as possible as to not inconvenience the people around you too much.  So consider this a guide to transitioning into the daily college flow.

With that being said, here is my best advice!

Your lanyard

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I get it.  It’s cool.  It’s convenient.  But don’t.   Don’t wear it with the lanyard hanging out of your pocket.  Don’t you dare wear it around your neck.  Or worse… wear it with around your neck with your keys and ID on it.  This is the #1 sure-fire way to spot a freshman.  This isn’t so much a functionality “flow of campus” kind of situation.  It just screams “FRESHMAN!” and if you’re trying to avoid that, stuff that lanyard in your pocket for no one to see.


Campus Maps

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Campus is new.  There are so many buildings.  But if you’re walking around with a map of campus?  You look like a tourist at disney land.   Do yourself a favor and snap a picture of the campus map on your smart phone.  No one questions someone looking at their phone.  And if you’re lost, don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

Groups

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Gee, I’d love to get to class faster, but this huge group of people is taking up the entire walkway.  I wonder if they’re freshmen?  Of course they are!  Freshmen tend to travel in packs.  It’s all those best friends they’ve made, ya know?  I like to call it a “flock of freshmen.”   If you make a lot of friends, that’s great.  As a senior, most of the people I’m friends with now were not the people I hung out with my freshmen year.  But that’s not to say that a social life is not vital to your college experience.  I’m glad you’re making friends, but please.  Do not walk in huge groups.  And if you do, walk on the grass.  Not on the road or the sidewalks.   My college has one main road that runs through campus and the shuttles from the apartment buildings drive on this road.  But for some reason the freshmen every year think that road is a giant side walk for them and their friends.   What’s worse is the freshmen who do not MOVE OFF THE ROAD when the shuttle comes.  Like seriously, don’t block traffic.  Ever.  Make friends.  Hang out in groups.  JUST DON’T BLOCK THE ROAD.

Talking About High School

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You may have been the only captain of the varsity basketball team in high school… but at this school, there are dozens of other students who were the captain of their varsity sports team as well.  You got into the same college as everyone around you, there’s no need to brag about your SAT or ACT score.  Please leave your Letterman jacket at home (I love mine too – the picture above is actually my Letterman jacket – but that phase of life is over).  Maybe tell those “funny high school memory” stories a couple times.  But if your RA knows the names of your 5 closest high school friends by the end of orientation, you need to shut up about high school.  It’s not to devalue your high school experience.  It’s not that it wasn’t important.  You just have to understand that your high school experience is not your college experience.  It isn’t the reality you’re living in any more.  And it’s not an experience that your peers share with you.  Reminiscing is great and don’t be afraid to talk about high school now and then, but people will get bogged down if that’s the only thing you want to talk about.

Trays

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Note: This may be something that is exclusive to my university.  Not every school goes by this standard.

A few years back, the student government at my school decided to take a green initiative at my school.  They encouraged everyone to stop using trays in the cafeteria so there would be less dishes to wash.   And it worked.  People stopped using trays.  But the trays are still there.  So every year, when the freshmen come to campus.  They see the trays at the front of the cafeteria and they grab one.  This clogs up the lines, slows down the process, and keeps everyone away from their food that much longer.  There are very few things as scary as hungry grumpy people.  Do yourself and the people around you a favor, and don’t get a tray.   If you don’t go to my school, your best bet is to watch the RA’s and see what they’re doing.  Simple as that.  Trays at my university are one of the fastest ways to spot a freshman.  The only other people who carry trays are visitors and that elderly professor who wears a bow tie every day. (He’s my favorite).

So there you have it.  Those are my 5 pieces of advice to avoid being an obvious freshman.   Remember, it’s not a problem to be a freshman.  It’s just important that you’re transitioning into the campus community quickly.  You want to fit in and be welcomed.  The best way to do that is to show the upperclassmen that you’re thinking about a little more than just yourself.  If you do the things I mentioned to avoid being an inconvenience, you’ll quickly gain respect from those people around you.  And don’t forget, this is exciting!  You’re going into college!  You’re starting your adult life.  Have fun with it!

My Favorite

Do you know what it’s like
That feeling inside
Your body, soul, mind
Electrified

From that one glance
You’re in a trance
His eyes, his stance
You feel that romance

It can’t be ignored
Open the doors
Out your heart pours
He must be yours

And to be his
To bring him bliss
To take that risk
In that moment you kiss

Letting walls down
Sharing life now
Just being around
Relationship know-how

Things start to get tough
The ride is rough
The roller coasters of love
Have you had enough?

But you melt in his smile
Stay in his arms a while
His voice carried across miles
Reminds you it’s all worthwhile

Do you know how it feels
To know this is real
Every kiss that he steals
It’s all so surreal

Forever and always
Till my dying day
There are no words to say
How long your love will stay

Faithful and constant
To him, there’s no way it can’t
Be true and
Excuse me for this rant

But how can I not tell you
That he’s the only one who
Knows me better than anyone’s knew
My whole self through and through

He’s handsome and smart
He makes humor fine art
He cares for my heart
This love’s set apart

Our qualities aligned
Compliment and contrast their kind
We’re challenged and refined
The way relationships are designed

I’m blessed and overjoyed
Beyond in love with this boy
Our love’s been employed
I have my whole life to enjoy

No one else could make me feel like this
So complete. Nothing amiss
There’s not a moment I want to miss
My days are now and forever his

Words will never be enough
To thank him for his love
To express how proud I am of
This person who has become

My everything. I will commit
My life to making his perfect
He is my love. I must admit.
My Joe, my man, he’s my favorite.

Because Writing On Here Is A Destresser

Since I have about 20 minutes to de-stress,,,, 

Yesterday, I got up in the morning and went to church, took part in the worship ministry there, worked a 6 hour shift, came back to my apartment, finished a video ad for an event me and my team have been planning, and spent 4 hours after that preparing logistically (power points, music, scripture, set outlines) for my worship team’s all-worship chapel for today.

My schedule today:
8-9 class
9-11 ministry
11-1 work
1-2 lunch/hw
2-3 class
3-4 class
4-5:30 work
5:30-6 dinner
6-7 cleaning/getting ready for work
7-11 work

I work from 10am-5pm tomorrow, room check is tomorrow night, I need to re-dye my hair like I’ve been saying for a week and a half now, and I’ve barely touched any homework aside from reading for class in over a week. I haven’t talked with my boyfriend all day. I’ve barely talked to my parents for more than 15 minutes in over two weeks.  I’m averaging 5 hours of sleep a night (that’s with oversleeping and snooze buttons) which is horrible for my chronic fatigue.  My allergies are getting worse, and all my medicine is doing is making me more groggy. I work 40 hours a week with two jobs on top of my full time class load and two ministries.  Plus, I’m PMSy.  And honestly, I’m okay right now.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not great. I want free time and relaxation and a back massage.  But I’m not breaking.  

Why? Honestly, I think it’s because I’m in the environment I’m in.   I really don’t have a lot of time for devotions, personal reading, digging into the word, and setting aside time for prayer right now.  But I have church, two worship ministries, 15 hours of Bible-saturated classes a week, two jobs that let me listen to worship music while I work, and Christ-loving family and friends who post Bible verses and Biblical truth on social media.  Honestly, without those things pointing me to God, I’d be falling apart right now.  Yes, I could very well snap any moment, but I don’t think I will.  This time is making me very aware of how fragile and easily breakable I am, but I’ve got my Solid Rock and I’m grounded right now.  I need Him more than ever and I’m seeing the fruits of turning to Him in my time of this crazy hectic life.

Off to work! 

Ignorance On Twitter Kept Me Up All Night

My friends have gotten an earful from me about people saying “gay” as in “stupid.”
There’s a whole website dedicated to ending the derogatory use of retard(ed).
People on my campus debate all the time about who can use the N-word and who can’t.
But it’s time we talked about another word/phrase that we need to stop using.

And for those of you who just read that, rolled your eyes, and thought “People need to stop being so sensitive!”

Shut up.  Just shut up, sit down, and listen to me.

It’s time we stop joking about sexual abuse, not only joking, but trivializing it.

If you did an awesome job on a test, good job.  You did an awesome job on the test.  But no, you didn’t “rape it.”

If someone says they were raped, assaulted, abused, molested, used, etc. No matter what their character is, no matter how they present themselves, no matter how they dress, no matter how many hook ups they’ve had, no matter how many times you’ve caught them lying before… You believe them, you support them, and you find them help.  You don’t laugh about it to your friends or brush it off.

And seriously, if I hear one more trivialized comparison between a sexual remark and sexual abuse, I will throw my already-broken-laptop out the window.

Don’t understand what I’m talking about?  Let me explain…

Some students from my university put together a page where people could anonymously submit crushes and flirty remarks. Some of the comments have said things like “Jane Doe has the best butt on campus” “I’d like to ride John Smith” and “SoAndSo can pop out of a cake for me ;)”  Yes, they are sexual.  Yes, they are over-the-top.  Yes, they are inappropriate.  But the responses I’ve seen against this page have boiled my blood.

Obviously, people have spoken out against this page.  Calling it “immature” “rude” “offensive” “degrading” “disgusting” “childish” and many… MANY.. other words.  Seeing as how most of the posts on the page are silly, humorous, or things like “This guy is such a cutie” “She is so gorgeous” and seeing how even the inappropriate comments are mild… I think it is an overreaction. Out of the 54 posts on that site 12 could be stretched to be considered inappropriate.   BUT on to my point…

One dissenter of the page wrote “it is nothing less than a form of sexual abuse.” and that’s when I knew I would write this post.

Sexual abuse is “a crime to knowingly cause another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act by force or threat.”  Yes, those remarks can be considered inappropriate.  But sexually abusive?  Not a chance.  Degrading?  I wouldn’t even go there either.  Degrading is to de-grade someone, to lower them down in rank.  These comments, although inappropriate and immature, were intended to give someone a confidence boost, not to humiliate someone.  I can’t bring myself to call them degrading.  It’s just mindless people.  Not abusive.  And honestly, half of those posts were probably written by guys and their roommates about each other as jokes.

If you still stand by this idea that the people posting on the site are hypocrites and dirty pigs… and if you still think that what is being said on that site is sexually abusive.  Consider this.  Have you ever been locked in a room, pinned down, struggling to keep unfriendly hands and other body parts away from exploiting you?  I have.  I am a survivor of sexual abuse.  Survivor.  It’s a term applied to victims to honor and empower their strength to heal.  And I find it offensive that my assault gets classified in the same category as “That guy, the crazy one on the volleyball team, he can give it to me any day.”

To the person who said “it is nothing less than a form of sexual abuse,” I don’t know you.  I don’t even think we’ve ever said hi to each other.  But I will say this.  That page is MANY things less than a form of sexual abuse.  I’m not saying this to attack you or vent my anger.  I’m saying this to open people’s eyes.

I understand that the Christian community can be highly sheltered and doesn’t talk about sexual things outside of “I get to have sex because I’m married!  It’s awesome!” “Ye perverse sinners.  How dare you look at porn or quote Family Guy!” or “This is my testimony… BUT JESUS.” I would be willing to say that Christians are so afraid of how desensitized our culture is to sexuality, that they have over-sensitized themselves.  But seriously, let’s get our definitions right.  Don’t confuse stupid innuendos with sexual abuse.  Doing that trivializes the traumatic experience that someone has gone through.

Sexual abuse can tear apart families, destroy marriages, and ruin lives.  I’ve seen it cause problems for my friends and their relationships.  I’ve seen it make peers run out of classrooms sobbing from triggered memories.  I’ve seen it take over and consume my mind.  It is real.  And it is serious.

People need to understand the weight their words have.  No more talk of how your team “raped” the other team.  No more disregarding or worse, laughing at, that girl’s claims that she got molested by her date.  And no more labeling things as “sexual abuse” that are merely inappropriate.

Don’t be so quick to give something a weighty label in order to drive home your message.   You have no idea who you can hurt by doing that.

Somehow The Words Flow Freely Now

God, how am I supposed to act?
What am I supposed to be?
Do I force myself to change?
Or should I do what comes naturally?

You teach me about morals and love
What about my personality?
Am I supposed to adapt and adjust?
Or revel in my idiosyncrasies?

Should I be vulnerable?
Or should I guard my heart?
Show me the line between showing love
And needlessly tearing myself apart.

How am I supposed to learn from my past
If I’m being told otherwise.
What if these lessons I thought I had learned
Are making me foolish instead of wise?

I’m all worried about implications and results
But not thinking about what I’m doing now
I’m worried about doing the wrong thing
I’m worried I’ll break my internal vows.

Everything in my life has taught me one thing
But now I need another way?
Can I make the choice to do what’s not safe?
Will I just be thrown away?

I can endure and fight through what is thrown at me
But do I dare start the fight myself?
God, I have no idea how to handle this all
Don’t keep the answer to yourself.

I’m scared.  I’m scared out of my mind.
I’d do anything to not go back to that place
And yet the only way for this to work out
Is taking the same steps I tried to erase?

My methods of coping and prevention
Are causing nothing but pain.
Show me God.  Just show me the way.
But don’t let me go there again.

You’re the one who guides my heart.
You’re the one who will will never forsake me.
Let me be open and obedient to you.
God, let me be free.