Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best of 2012

I like to think every year is the new best year of my life, but I've come to find there are different ways to define the word "best." I think my freshman year was by far the happiest year of my life. Sophomore year was just as good. Junior year was the fullest, and I learned the most. Senior year, and to some extent 2012, I have dubbed the year of adventure.

Adventures aren't always planned. Adventures are sometimes unexpected. But things expected can be just as good.

January: EXPECTED - I got to celebrate my sister's 23rd birthday with her. We are so blessed to have lived in the same town for four years now.

February: EXPECTED - I went skiing for the first time in 5 years. This time I didn't get hit in the head with the ski lift.

April: UNEXPECTED - The publication committee hired me as the new executive editor of the yearbook. I hadn't planned to do that job, and I wasn't completely aware at that point what exactly it entailed. So far it has been a great experience.

May: EXPECTED - I watched some of my friends graduate from my University. Then instead of going home, I lived in town with my sister for a month. I was car-less, so I spent the month writing, walking, and looking—quite unsuccessfully, I might add—for a place that would hire me for just a month.

June Part 1: UNEXPECTED - I needed a job badly enough that I found a babysitting job online and babysat for a family of total strangers. They had three boys ages 4, 5, and 9. Now that was an interesting experience.

June Part 2: EXPECTED - I turned 21. That was weird, and I felt old.

July: UNEXPECTED - Never in my life would I have thought I'd end up traveling alone to England to work at the Olympics for a month. I got to travel with friends and see amazing sights, and I learned a great deal through my work.

August: SORTA EXPECTED - I returned to my University for my senior year of college. I had a new roommate, Alison. We had plenty of classes together before but didn't know each other that well. We became friends in the first week of school, and it's been a lot of fun getting to know her better. 

September: UNEXPECTED - One of my friends forwarded me an email about a directed study opportunity working with Professor Peter Kerr on his book called Adam Meets Eve: Foundations for Love to Last a Lifetime. The directed study included editing the book, marketing, public relations, and publishing. I applied even though I'm not a communication major, and Prof. Kerr hired me! I am stoked for next semester. (You can tell because I've already read the book more than twice.)

October: UNEXPECTED - One of my friends who graduated from my University several years ago asked me to edit a book he was writing about financial planning. Of course I agreed, and it became my first paid gig. Check out the book here.

November: UNEXPECTED - On January 14th, I wrote a blog post. When my dad read it, he said he thought I should make a book out of it. I disagreed but decided to try anyway. I wrote a few pages at a time and sent them to my dad. He seemed to like the story, so I kept writing. Soon the project practically took over my life, and over the summer, it became a 200-page monstrosity. However, usually when I write books, I get lost somewhere near the end and cannot decide how to end it. Then one day I had an epiphany, wrote the last chapter, and typed THE END after my first full-length novel! It was 253 pages. Since then, I have finished the second draft.

December Part 1: UNEXPECTED - I have always wanted to sing Handel's Messiah with a choir. This year I got to sing with it with over 90 people, a full orchestra, and a pipe organ. It was probably the coolest thing ever. That music is absolutely incredible, and it was such a blessing and a privilege to sing it. I was a little disappointed my parents couldn't come because they're too far away and had work. However, I was taken totally by surprise when not only my grandma from Texas but also my mom from New Jersey showed up to watch the performance. I was so happy.

December Part 2: UNEXPECTED - As I discussed in this post, my scooter broke, so this year I haven't used one much. My family went to hang out with family friends at their house about a week ago, and I told them about my scooter. To my surprise, they had a Razor scooter in their garage, and they gave it to me! It meant more to me than they might ever know.

Hey 2013. I dare you to be better.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Return of Scooter Girl

Some people at my university call me Scooter Girl. Since my sophomore year of college, I've ridden a scooter everywhere. My first scooter broke, so I got a better one for my 20th birthday two summers ago.

Scooter 2.0 served me well for junior year, but somewhere along the line, it broke. Near the beginning of senior year this fall semester, my friend repaired it for me. However, Scooter 2.0 was simply worn out. I wasn't surprised since I used it so much.

That presented a problem. I had one more semester of college left and no scooter. The other day my family and I went to our friend's house to hang out. We hadn't seen them in a year. I mentioned my conundrum offhandedly, and it turned out they had an extra scooter in their garage.

A Razor Scooter!


They donated it to me so I could be Scooter Girl for my last semester. SO EXCITED.

It's going to be a great semester. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Green Eggs and Hobbits

I have decided to announce my opinion about the new movie The Hobbit, since being a blogger automatically makes me an expert on movies. Besides, you all have probably lost sleep for weeks wondering what I thought about it. Well, suffer from insomnia no more.

I'll begin with a little rhyme I made up myself:

"I do not like orcs, Samwise Gamgee. I do not like them, Sam I am."

Sam wasn't even in The Hobbit. He should have been, though, because he was one of my favorite characters. I guess that wouldn't have made sense. Just forget it.

First of all, I should tell you I went to see The Hobbit in 3d 48 dpi. Oops, not dots-per-inch. I mean, 48 fpms, which means frames-per-milli-second. The movie moved so fast it totally boggled my mind. I mean, orcs were just jumping everywhere. And those flying, sled-pulling bunnies in real time? Mind. Blown. I felt like I could just reach out and stroke a dwarf's beard. But that would have been weird, so I didn't try.

Everyone got all histrionic over the 48 fpms. I wasn't impressed. I mean, whoever had time to take all those pictures should probably get a life. Also, since it was 3 a.m. before the movie ended, I felt like my eyeballs were going to fall out of my head.

You remember that movie The Artist? The one with no audible dialogue? They kinda went backward in the whole technology thing by taking out all the sound. This retro movie trend is really in, you know? I heard for the next Hobbit movie they're going to go for the opposite effect of the 48 fpms. How? One word: slideshow. Instead of 48 frames-per-milli-second, they're going to have 48 frames per minute. It will be like watching it in stop motion. HOW COOL IS THAT?

Second, I'd like to point out the biggest mistake of the whole movie. They really rushed the part when the dwarves showed up at Bilbo's house. I mean, Peter Jackson might as well have just cut the whole thing out if he wasn't going to do it right. I felt like I hardly knew the dwarves. That scene was only 40 minutes long... I expected it to take at least half the movie. I mean, where were the personal interviews with each one? Why didn't it show the part where Bilbo goes on Google to do unofficial background checks on all of them? That was my favorite part of the book.

Third, I'd like to be the first to predict the lawsuit. George Orwell...Washington...Mason...Clooney... GEORGE LUCAS is going to freak out. I mean, who is Peter Jackson to just snatch a character from Star Wars and plop him in his film? That 'Orc Leader' guy was totally Jaba the Hut. Looked like him, sounded like him, WAS him. I felt like standing up in the theater and yelling, "WATCH OUT FOR THE TRAP DOOR, BILBO! LISTEN TO C3PO!"

Fourth, the movie was really racist. Whatever happened to the bad guys being Russian or something? They made the evil orc guy Albino. That's not even funny... I am 1/8 Albinoan. I'm proud of my heritage. We Albinoans hate the sun and worship golden idols shaped like bottles of sunblock. None of my ancestors said anything about a grudge against dwarves. If Peter Jackson is going to be a hater, he might as well at least be historically accurate.

Fifth, who do they think they are making The Hobbit into three movies? Lord of the Rings was three books. Thus, it became three movies. The Hobbit was like 75 pages long. So, the first movie was like the introduction. They had to ADD IN parts to a perfectly good story to pull it off. Why? Because they want more money! They had to manipulate Tolkien's masterpiece to create an unnatural story arc so the introduction of the story could have a beginning, middle, and end. It makes my stomach turn.

All the other movie makers want to be awesome and successful like Peter Jackson. So 35-year-old director Ichabod Herbert MacIntire is following Jackson's lead by taking Dr. Suess's beloved book and splitting into three parts. The three movies will be called: "Part 1: Green Eggs," "Part 2: And," and "Part 3: Ham." WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO? How can all of those parts have enough story? "And" is a coordinating conjunction, for crying out loud.

Speculating film enthusiasts say Part 1: Green Eggs will be a far-reaching background piece about the chicken who gave birth to the green eggs. Why were the eggs green? What did that mean? Did his mother think that would affect their adolescent years? Then: WHO was the heartless farmer who snatched her unhatched offspring from the cradle? Part of the film will be a psychological thriller about the farmer's motives and what influenced his decisions.

DO YOU SEE WHAT A DISASTER THIS IS? Peter Jackson needs to think about his impact on the world around him. Poor Ichabod Herbert MacIntire never had a chance as a director.

You know what I think? The second Hobbit movie (Part 2: The Journey Unexpected Continues) and the third Dr. Seuss revisitation (Part 3: Ham) should be combined. The whole movie could be about Bilbo's discovery that green eggs and ham make an excellent second breakfast. Then we can spend the rest of the movie watching him eat his meal in 48 frames per minute. 

Basically, I thought The Hobbit was fantastically mediocre.

(Disclaimer: I don't actually worship golden idols shaped like sunblock. Not usually, anyway.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Faith and Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, I was thinking of all that God has done in my life. I think that when we're searching for more faith, a good way to find it is by counting God's blessings, recognizing all that we are thankful for. All good gifts are from God.

Thanksgiving should happen all year round. It's not a single day to be thankful. It's a day to remind us to be thankful the rest of the time. Recently I read a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Michael K. Reynolds. He wrote, "Have you ever realized that many of our complaints today are about things we once fervently prayed for in the past?" You can read the rest of the post here.

God is always faithful. I remember a lot of things I've prayed for over the years. Some of them have not yet been answered, but many of them have. Even when God does not give me what I asked for, I am usually glad later that He did not. He knows what is best for us. What I think is incredible is that He actually wants to hear our requests because He cares about us.

One big area of concern for a lot of people is the future. I pray about the future a lot. What am I doing every day to prepare for it? Matthew 6:25-34 has a lot to say about worrying. Basically, it says don't worry. Verse 27 says, "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" The answer is, of course, no. What then, are we to do about the future? Verse 33 says, "But seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

The future is not just ten years from now or even tomorrow. The future is a moment from now. You can try to hold onto the present moment, but then it is gone. Micah 6:8 is a good summary of how we should try to live: "He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

As a speaker at my church phrased it a few weeks ago, "Do the next right thing." If you're walking next to Jesus, how could you go the wrong way?

The Lord has been faithful in the past, and He will be faithful in the future. Count those blessings. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Kids and Their Toys

Little kids always want more toys. Every Christmas and birthday they have their eyes on a different video games, dolls, G.I. Joes, playhouses, rollerblades, etc. Some kids have piles of toys in their closet, but they have lost interest. The "old" toys hold no appeal. They have to have that state-of-the-art Lego set on TV, and then they will FINALLY have the ultimate toy. We laugh at such children and say they should go play with the toys they already have.

We laugh, but we often do the same thing. Think about it. If only my house were a little bigger. If I just get a higher salary, I'll be happier. If only I were a little more popular, I'll be satisfied. I just need to get to know those people. I just need to have this car. I just need to win this game, get that grade, impress those people, attain this goal, be as good as I should be, etc...

Did you ever stop to think that if you had everything you ever wanted, all you'd be able to do is sit on top of the big pile of money and stuff and guard it? You probably wouldn't even have time to enjoy all of it. Setting goals isn't bad, but constantly beating yourself up for not being as good as you think you should be is bad. Wanting something isn't bad, but it is bad to forget to be thankful for what you have.

Blessings are great. God has blessed all of us in ways that we may not even realize. So next time you wish you had something else, remember to enjoy the blessings He has already given you.

Friday, November 2, 2012

How Do You Spend Your Time?

They say that time is money. Time is not money. It's worth more than money. Someone could give you a million dollars tomorrow, but no one can give you back years of your life. What do you spend your time doing?

Does what you do...
... push you toward what you want to do in the future?
... make you a better person?
... help other people?
... bring you closer to God?

Is it what you should be doing? 
Is the best thing you could be doing?

Imagine if five younger people were watching your life now, and they all decided to spend their time just like you spend yours. Would they be wasting it? There ARE people watching your life. Are you a good steward of your time?

I think the way you spend your time reveals what is important to you. If you kept track of how you spent every hour of your life for a month, what would your time reveal is important to you?

"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." —Ephesians 5:15-17

Thursday, October 18, 2012

If It All Made Sense

If a student is awake until 5 a.m. reading a book, it's usually for one of two reasons: the assignment is due tomorrow, or the student loves to read. For me this morning, it was both. I wrote a paper about Making Sense of It All for my Christian Theology class, and I actually enjoyed the book. It was written based on the notes of great scientist, mathematician, and philosopher Blaise Pascal. I'll read about a genius's opinions any day, but if it's about the existence of God and the meaning of life, I'll listen closer.


Why does God claim to be transcendent yet "God with us" when He is sometimes so difficult to find? Why doesn't He just write us a message in the sky, clearly proclaiming His existence and intentions? 

Pascal says, "God wishes to move the will rather than the mind. Perfect clarity would help the mind and harm the will." We cannot prove God exists, and we cannot prove that He does not exist. Time is not slowing down, and each person has to choose a side. Is He real? If so, what are we going to do about it? All of us will soon die, and indecision is a decision.

The author compares our choice regarding the reality or fable of God with gambling. What are the risks involved with each "wager?" What are the benefits of each? 

Atheists don't have to answer to anyone; they can live with whatever morals they want or no morals at all. However, they have no Authority to illuminate their paths, either. Christianity involves answering to God, living by a set of standards, and loving all people, even when it seems impossible. If an atheist dies and finds that he is correct, he will not ever realize this since a godless universe implies a lack of an afterlife. If a Christian dies and finds that he was correct in believing God is real, he will enjoy eternal fellowship with God. 

Let's consider the darker side of the equation. What if they are wrong? If the Christian dies and is wrong in his belief that there is a God, he loses nothing, and he'll never realize he was wrong. If an atheist dies and finds that he was wrong, and there IS a God, he will suffer for all of eternity.

Obviously I believe in God. Without going into all the reasons I believe this is true, I think it's pretty obvious which "wager" is the logical choice. Atheists have much more to lose than Christians do if they are wrong. Pascal says that the "rational gambler will bet on God."

Because we must choose an option without absolute proof either way, it makes sense that it's not all about reason and intellect; it's about the heart. We must have faith in God, for without faith, it's impossible to please Him. Faith isn't an end; it's a journey. Not everything is going to make sense, but we have to keep moving forward anyway. 

So, I ask you: will you consider the possibility that there is a God? Will you think about the implications of this fact? The salvation of your soul depends on it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hello, October

In case you haven't noticed, it's October. That means one of my favorite seasons is coming up. Okay, to be honest, I like all of the seasons except for winter. And even winter is okay because it includes Christmas and snow. Anyway, I haven't posted for a while, so I thought I'd provide a bit of an update about my life.

1. I'm a senior in college now, so I'm busy planning for the future. I'd like to go to grad school, so I have to apply, obtain transcripts, get recommendations, write essays, and take the GRE. Oh yeah, and it might be a good idea to figure out where exactly I should apply.

2. I'm working on making money. I am the executive editor for my University's yearbook, copy editor for the newspaper, and a writing tutor in the Center for Academic Excellence. Plus I am editing a book for a friend of mine. It's about surviving the financial recession, and it's actually really interesting. When it's available online, I'll provide a link. It's inspired me to sell the fifty books in my room to Amazon. No, really. I have fifty books just sitting in my room. Aside from that, my first book editing gig has encouraged me to build my online presence. I've named my editing business The Landon Edit, and you can check it out at http://www.facebook.com/EditingProofreadingServices.

3. This semester I'm taking two major writing classes at the same time, and I usually write a lot anyway. One weekend I wrote 40 pages just to turn in for one class. It was for three different assignments, but still. The book I've been working on since January is still sitting in my computer waiting for the addition of the exciting conclusion. I just want to give it an ending it deserves, and then of course I have to write the other two books in the premeditated trilogy. But first, I'm going to look into publishing book one.

4. I miss my friends from England that I met when I was working at the Olympics, and I also miss my friends from camp in New York, especially since it was two summers ago. I haven't seen most of them since December. My family is all spread out again. Mom and dad are both living up north still teaching at my old high school and other shenanigans. It's nice that my sister is still teaching in the same town as my University, but I wonder sometimes how long I will live here. However, I am thoroughly enjoying hanging out with college friends, both new and old. I have a lot of the same friends that I had freshman year, but I've continued to meet new awesome people, even trying to meet all of the freshmen and transfer students this year.

5. My theme for this school year is balance. In the past, I've been known to sleep very little, obsess over school, and abide by a schedule that would send most people running from the room screaming. This year I have actually had time to read the text books for my classes and enjoy what I'm studying, which is nice. I sleep about six hours per night instead of four, and I even eat more healthy food. I've tried to pray more and read my Bible regularly, and I've made an effort to do a lot of writing outside of what is required for class. I want my life to be balanced. Life isn't just work, just fun and games, or just stress.

6. This semester has been a strange one, but it's also been a lot of fun. I live on a really awesome hall, and my roommate is a lot of fun, too. I've gotten to play soccer, write, play ping pong, edit, teach people, scooter, and hang out with some of my favorite people. I can't wait to see what else God has in store for this year.

7. As a sidenote, I've had this blog for a year and a half now. Cool.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Sister is Hilarious

My sister Katie used to hate McDonald's. The only reason we ever went there was to get the little Beanie Baby animals that accompanied the kids' meals. However, ever since she graduated college, she has gained more an more appreciation for those golden arches. In fact, she goes there so often that she actually knows all of the employees.

Okay, as much as I tease her about that, it's not exactly true. It's just that some of the workers there are or were her students. So I guess that doesn't really count. But anyway, because of Katie's new-found love of McDonald's, we actually go there every once in a while for milkshakes or a fourth meal or coffee or something.

Last week we went to get some coffee. We were in the drive through, and I was just about to order what I always get, the mocha frappe, when I noticed something new on the menu: the chocolate chip frappe. On a whim, I decided to order that instead, much to Katie's delight. As soon as I told her what I was ordering, she started going off about how excellent the new drink was. I should have known she would have already tried it.

Okay, okay. So the new drink is good. Nothing she said was too over-the-top, and I understand how much she loves coffee. So we went to the second window, and first she settled her giant coffee into the cup holder, and then she reached out to accept my frappe from the person in the window. Turning to me, she looked me straight in the eye and held out the frappe toward me.

I accepted the coffee.

After staring at me intently for several moments, she shifted her gaze to my coffee and actually said to me, completely seriously, "Are you ready to experience greatness?"

It took it a moment to sink in, and then I just started laughing hysterically. I haven't really done this story justice by writing it down, and this might be one of those you-had-to-be-there things, but the way she said it was hilarious.

And although I'm not sure if I would put it in the category of experiencing greatness, for the record, the chocolate chip frappe was actually really good.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Olympic Dream

When I first heard that media communication majors from my University sometimes get to go work at the Olympics, my immediate thought was: I want to do that. Going to the London 2012 Olympics has been a mere dream and an unlikely goal of mine since before I even went to college. At first I was just a journalism major, but the dream of London was still there, whispering in the back of my mind, until finally I added that second major in my second year of college.

I worked so hard in my classes learning everything I could. I asked older media comm students which classes I should take, and I volunteered to help with as many films and TV production things as I could. The Why I Want to Go to the Olympics essay I was required to write to accompany my resume and application was probably the most convincing single page of writing I have ever produced. There are few things I've wanted more than this.

When I heard that I had been accepted, I was working in the Writing Center in the library, and I may or may not have screamed really loud, right there in the library. I'm not one of those girls who just randomly shrieks a lot. Sure, my laugh is loud, but I don't shriek. So the fact that I started yelling and jumping around means that was probably the best email I've ever gotten.

It was perfect that the Olympics was in London this year because people there speak English, and it's not a dangerous country to visit. Even so, I was a little nervous about flying alone and taking a solo journey to foreign country when I'd never even been outside the continent before. I was never without food, money, transportation, clean clothes, information, or someone to answer my questions. God really took care of me.

I went five days early to travel the city with some friends, and we got to see a lot of really cool sites including Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Parliament Houses, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, the London Eye, and many others. It was absolutely incredible. We stayed with my friend's mom's friend's daughter, if you can figure that one out. We were within walking distance of Tower Bridge, which is where the Olympic rings were proudly displayed!

After that, both of us moved to the University of East London. It was a blessing that we were living at the same place, and it was conveniently located really close to a DLR (overground train) station and also very close (about ten minutes) from the Olympic venue where I went to work each day.

It was such an incredible experience even though it wasn't really what I expected. It was really cool watching the competitions, and I especially enjoyed singing my national anthem when someone from the US won gold. I was a liaison officer, so I assisted the broadcasters to make sure they could do their jobs. One of my favorite things was meeting broadcasters from all over the world and hearing about their lives, jobs, languages, and former Olympics they helped cover. That was amazing.

One thing I hadn't really thought much about was what kind of people I'd be working with. I guess I just spent too much time worrying about the logistics of travel or what kind of work I'd be doing to consider my potential coworkers too much. I wound up working on a team of five, which was one of the smaller liaison officer teams, from what I observed. None of them were from my school, and actually, they all lived in London. I was immediately fascinated with their accents, schools, and different views on life. We were all very different, but we ended up being good friends. We worked every day except one for nineteen days, and usually the days were rather long, so we usually ate two meals together per day as well. We even hung out outside of work, which was fun. They were cool people, and we all looked out for each other. Actually, I hung out with them more than I saw people from my school who were also in London. I didn't expect to have such neat coworkers who were so close to my age, but I'm so glad I did!

I will probably write more about specific London-ish things that you may find interesting. I was there for a whole month, so there's still plenty to write about. But here I am, back in the US again, and I only have two days before I go back to school again. And I'm going to be a senior! I don't know how that happened, but I am really excited to see all my University friends!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Late Night Social Experiment

The other night I was really bored, and bad things happen when I get bored. Okay, not necessary bad things. Let's just say things get interesting.

I've been staying at a University in London for the past several weeks. A few days ago, I returned around midnight after hanging out with my friend Anna, and I was really, really hyper and awake because I drank Starbuck's coffee. I discovered that for some reason, the little campus shop is open from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., so I decided to stop by. Instead of just looking around and then leaving, I decided to scare the two guys who work there.

One of them had a round face, sandy blonde hair, and a typical English grin, and the other had long wavy hair and glasses. Both seemed overly bored. So I began my social experiment by nonchalantly opening one of the biggest umbrellas I've ever seen and walking around the store with it like there was nothing unusual about it at all. At first they didn't say anything, but then one of them said, "You've given us all bad luck; that's what you've done."

I looked at him like he was crazy.

An awkward moment passed, and then the two of them started talking to each other again. One of them was telling a story about how he was walking home one day and ran into a small fox, and apparently he was scared and wanted to run away, but then he felt silly because it was just a little animal, not a dangerous one, right?

I approached the counter with a serious look on my face. "Foxes are the seventeenth leading cause of death in America, you know," I said. They couldn't tell if I was serious or not, so I continued. "They come in packs," I added.

Now their blank stares were a little frightened, and one of them tried to smile, as if I were going to say in a moment that I was just joking.

"They tear your limbs off and eat out your tongue," I explained casually. "The worst part is, sometimes you don't die."

One of them made a comment about how he was going to have nightmares now. Since they now knew I was from the US, they tried to make conversation. One mentioned Disney World, and I said it was a popular place because the foxes were afraid of Mickey Mouse and therefore never went there. I explained that I'd moved away from Utah because that's where most of the foxes lived.

On another fox-related topic, the curly-haired one mentioned the movie "The Fox and the Hound." I responded immediately, saying that the movie was a true account and that I knew the characters personally. I think it was at this point that the sandy-haired one said I was mental and then added when I stared at him, obviously offended, "You're 'good' mental." I'm not sure what he meant, but I pretended to be offended.

"For all you know, I'm brilliant," I quipped. "I was number one in my class. Might've been the only one in my class, but that doesn't matter."

"If you were English, we'd throw you out of here in a second," one of them said.

He was joking, and it was funnier because I'm actually part English. "Who says I'm not English?" I asked. "I'm nearly half English, actually."

"Nearly half?" they repeated, snickering.

"Yes. Haven't you ever heard of platform 9 3/4? Why can't I be nearly half English?"

They looked at each other, still unsure. But I was still holding the umbrella, so one asked, "Is is still raining outside?"

"What do I look like, a weather man?"

"No," the curly haired one answered quickly.

"Well, I have to go," I said abruptly.

"You've got to me the most interesting person to ever come in this store. What's your name?" the sandy-haired one asked, trying to see my name tag.

I grabbed my name tag and turned it around, snarling. "What's the matter with you? You can't just go around looking at people's name tags! That's private!"

Both looked even more startled, if that's even possible.

I clutched my name tag protectively. "Did you read it? Well, did you?"

"No, I didn't get a chance to," the sandy haired one replied.

"Good. Well, you can call me Scooter Girl." I closed the umbrella and approached the exit, then added, "If I come back." Then, walking backward, I said, "Watch out for foxes."

Scaring people. It's the best.

I'm pretty sure I told them some other random weird stuff, but I can't remember all of it.

The next day I returned and acted totally normal, simply asking a question about where something was in the store. They mentioned foxes, and I acted like I had no idea what they were talking about. They were freaked out.

Obviously I should have brought a book with me so I wouldn't have to entertain myself by scaring the natives.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

London Jargon

If you ever go to London, this post will give you a heads up about what in the world everyone is talking about. It's not like going to China where people speak, um, Chinese, but Londoners do have their own little jargon that travelers have to get used to.

1. "The tube." That means the underground, the trains, the transport system, whatever. Not noodles or floatation devices.

2. "Trainers." This is what they call sneakers.

3. "Cheers." They say this to mean thanks, hey, good morning, excuse me, well said, I agree, or pretty much whatever the heck they want it to mean.

4. "Pudding." This is a blanket term for any type of dessert.

5. "Chips." This means French fries.

6. "Tap." They often refer to water as tap.

7. "Fanta." A type of orange carbonated drink everyone seems to be obsessed with.

8. "I'd be keen." Meaning I want to do that, sounds like a good idea, etc.

9. "Bin bag." Trash bag.

10. "Rubbish." Usually means trash, but can also mean stupid, ridiculous, unbelievable.

11. "Queue." I've heard many use this one instead of "line."

12. "Mates." Friends.

13. "Bloke." Man.

14. "Trousers." Pants.

15. "Pants." Underwear. Remember this one.

16. "Uni." University.

17. "Lift." Elevator.

18. "You all right?" They aren't asking if you're okay. To them, it's like saying, "What's up?"

19. "Have a go." Give it a try.

20. "Loo, toilet." Bathroom. To my surprise, I have yet to hear anyone call it a water closet.

21. "Corridor." Sometimes they call hallways corridors. I think I'm going to start asking people at college which corridor they live on. Because it sounds awesome.

22. "Way out." Most of their signs say that instead of exit.

More random phrases and facts to come! Stay tuned!

As a side note, I'm still having a blast. Check out this shenanigan. I saw it the other day when I went for a walk with my future roomie!


Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Best of London

I have NOT been writing about this trip enough. I feel like that kid from the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. EVERYTHING here is just so epic and incredible. I could write an entire blog post about any given hour I've spent here, unless I was asleep. But hey, I could probably write about that too. So I'll just make a list of some things I really like about being here.


1. I finally learned how to navigate a city. I can look at the little train map that I hand-laminated with clear tape and figure out how to get where I need to go. Just tell me what station, and I'm good to go. It's fantastic to be able to come and go as I please, not having to ask anyone if I can borrow their car or having to bum rides off people and worry that they will leave too early or too late. I LOVE it.

2. My coworkers are fabulous. They all have these adorable English accents, and I never get tired of it. They say things like "cheers," "I'd be keen," and "half one" instead of one-thirty. I'll probably write a whole 'nother post about the different words and phrases English people use.

3. I don't feel culturally inept anymore. I know what their little phrases mean, I can navigate the train system, I was taught how to properly make basic tea with a tea bag, and I now understand that English people do not put hyphens in their phone numbers.

4. I've gotten to meet, shakes hands with, and take pictures with a variety of olympians that I've run into in London, and I think that's stinking awesome.

5. For my entire life I've had trouble understanding people with accents. And now I've got English, Australian, Chinese, Danish, Japanese, Italian, German, Spanish, and Korean accents to decipher. A lot of people I assist or work with don't necessarily speak English or speak much of it. So it's always fun to try to explain myself with hand motions and whichever select words they happen to know. I really wish I were bilingual. It seems that most people here are, and they think it's strange that I'm not. I guess it's because there are a lot of countries surrounding England that aren't that far away. If I drive eight hours across the US, people are still going to speak English.

6. God has kept me well-fed, healthy, and safe, and I am grateful. Please pray that continues.

7. So, I carry around this bag-purse thing that I call a "burse." It has a shoulder strap, so I don't have to hold it, and I keep my important stuff there. I'm so paranoid I won't even leave it in the room I'm staying in. I don't lock it in the locker at work. It NEVER comes off unless I'm sitting alone in my room. My levels of paranoia have risen to new heights. So far so good, though.

8. The other day I ate dinner in the mall with two of my University friends, and it was an absolute blast. I think at least two of us were talking at all times, and I laughed so much my stomach hurt. At that moment I realized that although I am not willing to rush London, and I am still not itching to return to school, I do, in fact, miss my University, and I will be very happy to return.

9. This is essentially my first solo adventure. I've been on vacation before, but that was always with my family. Yeah, I went to college, but I had my sister there and immediately met a ton of people who helped me make it. Here I'm across the world from my family and am responsible for all my own belongings, health, meals, work, schedules, activities, and safety. It's a lot to think about, and at first it was a little overwhelming. But I've become more used to that, too, and I guess that comes with the territory of becoming more used to a place.

10. Although I'm here, and I speak the same language, and I'm even nearly half English, this isn't my home. I absolutely love it here, and although this certainly isn't a foreign planet, England is plenty different from America. Hearing what English people think of us is pretty funny at times, too. I've had multiple people ask me if I am going to move to England, like a decision like that was just no big deal. Could I move to England? Would that be too far, too different? And if I couldn't, why not?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Woke Up in London Yesterday

Up until last fall, I never thought I'd actually be able to say I woke up in London yesterday, but I DID. On Thursday I arrived at Heathrow airport, and Shannon came to find me in my terminal. We're staying with her mom's friend's daughter in East London, and we're walking distance from Tower Bridge where the Olympic rings are hanging!


The first thing we did was get on the underground trains (like the NYC subways) to make our way all the way across London to where we would be staying. I was lugging three suit cases, so it was hard, and it took almost two hours. I did get to talk with an English businessman with a cool accent, however. He travels the world for business consulting and looked like he stepped out of a business magazine of some kind.

Shannon and I had our Olympic worker passes on, so this one lady asked me about it. When I told her we were from the United States, she asked if we were freelancers. Well, yes, we kind of are, and it sounds a lot cooler when we put it that way.

When I stepped outside of the train station for the first time, I was amazed. It was so beautiful, and the air even smelled different. I was exhausted, hungry, tired, sweaty, and thirsty, but it was still so amazing to be here. I'd gotten only about two hours of sleep on the plane, and even though it was only 6:00 p.m., it felt a lot later than that to me!

The next day (yesterday, Friday), we managed to get up bright and early to see to walk across Tower Bridge.

                      

We walked to the Tower of London. We had to pay to get in, but it was really neat, and we had a super funny tour guide.


We got to hear about the interesting history, walk through the different buildings associated with the tower including this neat chapel where some famous people were buried. And then we saw the crown jewels, which were so amazing we weren't even allowed to take pictures of them. I'll bet all the stuff in there is worth millions of dollars. It was incredible!

So, on the first day we experienced torrential rain, which I guess is part of the London experience. Good thing I brought my umbrella! My shoes and the bottom two feet of my pants got soaked anyway though, and I kinda wish I'd brought my rain boots. 

In London, people drive on the left side of the street, and the steering wheel is in the right side of the car. Although it was a little strange to see that, at least I was aware of it before I got here. What I didn't know was that pretty much everyone just seems to want to run you over. Most people are in a hurry here, so running you over would just be a nuisance because later they'd have to scrape your remains from their tire tracks.

Later we went to see St. Paul's Cathedral, which Shannon really liked. Then we went to The Anchor, which is a really old restaurant where Shakespeare supposedly hung out in his day. Pretty cool, huh?


We ate fish and chips, which is another London necessity I've been told. And let me tell you, it was some GOOD fish. Like, REALLY good fish.

There are a lot of random street performers here, just like there were in San Francisco. I've seen them play violins, guitars, drums, sing... and there was even one dude playing the xylophone. For real.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll write about what we did today. I've got some writing to do. I mean other writing. My book. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day One: Destination London


Some adventures are experienced with others, and some are experienced alone. I didn’t feel that adventurous going to the airport with my family, but as soon as I hugged them goodbye and walked around the corner to security check, I might as well have been in Narnia looking at the lamppost. The girl behind me only spoke Spanish, so I had to help her understand the English instructions for what to take out of our bags. I ran into her again as we boarded the plane, and I told her when it was her turn to board, and then finally I saw her again after we’d landed.

I sat next to a lady who was on her way to Africa. She didn’t want to chat much since she had a second long flight in her future, and she needed to sleep. The weirdest part of the whole flight was that they served dinner at 1 a.m. Now, I’m fairly used to midnight snacks. Since I’m usually up until 2 or 3 in the morning, I gotta eat late. But this was the whole shabang: salad, bread, chicken casserole, and a piece of pie from the Cheesecake Factory. It was delicious.

The plane was so big that it hardly felt like I was even in a plane. When they finally collected the food plates, I drifted off to sleep around 3 a.m., only to be awakened again around 5. No, I don’t want coffee. I just want more than two hours of sleep! Oh, well.

I somehow managed to navigate the ginormous airport and get my luggage back, so after brushing my teeth right there in the airport bathroom, I just sat down in the lobby to wait for my friends. Every time I send a text message, I practically have to chop one of my fingers off and donate it to science. So I wasn’t really sure when they were going to get there.

In the meantime, I was amusing myself by imagining all the incredible things these people passing me in the airport are here to do. If I saw a guy with a sports jacket, I imagined he’s competing in an Olympic event, and I tried to guess which one, knowing that it may very well be true. I saw a group of tall girls with Bahamas shirts on and matching luggage—volleyball players, perhaps?

Then there were tons and tons of people there in uniforms with nametags similar to mine. As I passed them, we exchanged glances or small smiles of acknowledgement. Will I be working with these people in just a few short days? Again, it’s entirely possible.

When Shannon showed up in the airport, I was really happy to see her. And then phase two of the London adventure began.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Melissa Goes to London

Tomorrow I'm leaving for London.

What?

I never thought I'd be able to say that. Why am I going? Well, I have an internship. I'm not allowed to say much about it, so let's just suffice it to say I'm training to be a CIA agent. Just kidding about that part.

But anyway, I've never been overseas or flown alone. I'm directionally challenged, but hey, at least they speak English over there. I was expressing my concerns about navigation, transportation, times, working, not knowing what to expect, etc., and my aunt said, "Melissa, it's called an ADVENTURE."

After raising an eyebrow and considering that statement for a moment, I realized that she's right.

Adventure: n. 1. an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity. 2. daring and exciting activity calling for enterprise and enthusiasm.

That about sums it up.

I'll be over there for a month, and with any luck, I'll get to eat a lot of fish and chips, meet some awesome people, learn a ton about communications, experience the city, and maybe even pick up a bit of an accent.

Goodbye USA! It's been legit. I'll be back, but not for a while.

Prayers for safety are appreciated. :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Five Woes of a Writer

In case I haven't talked about it enough, I'll just say it again: I'm writing a book.

It's over 200 pages, and the rough draft was supposed to be completed by now. But I'm running into a few problems, most of which are rooted in perfectionism. The following are five problems I generally encounter and am specifically encountering in this book venture.

1. I know my characters too well. It's so weird. It's like I'm not making them up, but they already exist. I'm not telling them how they are; that IS how they are, and it's my job to portray them correctly. It's like trying to describe your best friend to a stranger in five minutes. It's impossible! I just want to spend pages and pages describing the appearance, history, opinions, thoughts, and ideas of each and every character, and I just know this isn't that sort of book. But maybe it should be.

2. Too many plot lines. Sure, I've got one general plot line. But then there are all these little branches here and there, and I'm kind of obsessed with them. I sit up in bed suddenly with another idea for a subplot, and I can't sleep until I write it down. It's like the subplot is already there, and it would just be a lie not to add it in. Too many subplots make for a confusing, poorly constructed story if you're not careful. It's like trying to eat a five-inch thick sandwich without spilling it everywhere.

3. Originality paranoia. I spend a great deal of time contemplating originality. What is originality? What makes something really original? The fact alone that I'm writing in English at times makes me feel unoriginal. I've written about an old man. THERE ARE OLD PEOPLE IN OTHER STORIES! I AM A PLAGIARIZING FOOL! If any part of my plot is even related to another story I've heard of, sometimes I just freak out. I'm obsessed with originality. I admit it.

4. Endings. The end of the book is like a misbehaving child. You really want to be proud of it, but it's just so unpredictable and usually not at all what you planned. Even if I have the entire ending planned out, those last few pages often spit their lollipop wrappers everywhere and leave gum under the couch for me to find. I've determined that the end of this book is going to be so epic that the reader will turn the page again and again, unable to accept the fact that it's the end. They'll cry after the fourth or fifth time and probably have to be locked alone in their room for at least a week. Then they'll probably need therapy until the next book comes out. Totally kidding. But not.

5. My best. I have this mindset sometimes that I'm not good enough or talented enough for whatever writing project I'm working on. My vocabulary isn't good enough; the pacing of the book isn't good enough; I don't know enough about writing. I always seem to return to my finished or unfinished projects several years later and think to myself how terrible it is and how I would rewrite it or do it better. I guess that's good because it means I'm always improving, but just once I want to write something so good that I won't want to change anything about it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Free Indeed

Your annoying neighbor with that stupid dog that won't stop barking.
Your favorite teacher who challenges you to learn more.
That lady at the bank who never smiles.
The mailman who always forgets to put your boxes in the shade, even when you've asked more than once.
Your grandma who lives across the country.
A stranger you pass on the street every Tuesday morning on your way to the market.

What do they all have in common?
They're all Americans.

We all love America, and that's one of the many things that unites us. United? Yes. That's why we're the United States of America. I'm proud to be an American, and I am so blessed to live here.

Over spring break I visited Ground Zero. It had been over a decade since that fateful day in September, and I'd had several other opportunities to visit the site, but I didn't want to. This time everyone I was with decided to go, so I didn't really have a choice.

I thought it would be depressing, thought it would remind me too much of the horrors of that day. The experience, however, was different from what I thought. Seeing the yawning expanses in the ground that were larger than I imagined them to be did strike my heart with a sense of awe and doleful nostalgia for what used to be there and for the many lives that were lost that day. But they managed to turn the wreckage of something so awful into a site of American memory, honor, and respect. What happened on that day was awful, no two ways about it, but where they tried to destroy the spirit of Americans, I think the disaster made people come together.

United. Yes, we are. We're free, and that's why we celebrate with fireworks, barbecues, family gatherings, and much more. God bless America, and may we continue to be blessings to the world around us as well.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

21...?

I'm turning 21 on Saturday.

Whaaaat? When did I get this old? I texted several of my friends the other day telling them I couldn't believe I was already turning 21. "How is this happening already!?" I said. One of my friends simply responded, "Because time."

Yes, because time. One day at a time, one week at a time, one year at a time. If you'd asked me at age ten where I thought I was going to be when I was 21, I certainly wouldn't have said England and Kentucky.

In just over a month, I'll be leaving home to fly to London for my internship at the olympics. I'm really excited. Then I'll be back in Kentucky in August to start my new job and my last year of college, my senior year.

The last three years have been such an adventure. If I could have planned them out, I never would have planned them that way, but guess what? It's been even better than anything I could have come up with.

I guess I'm okay with turning 21, though I've decided that's old enough. So as of right now, I don't plan on turning 22 next year, but who knows. Maybe by then I'll change my mind.

Until I was in high school, I wanted to live in Pennsylvania. In high school, I wanted to live in California. Last year I thought about New York, and now I'm considering Tennessee. Let's be real. I just want to live everywhere. Can I have one of those awesome travel jobs for a few years and see the world?

It doesn't have to be that, though, as long as it's an adventure.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Three Life Lessons I Learned From Soccer

1. L.I.G.

My soccer coach was a little obsessed with acronyms, and he liked to make up his own. This one meant Let It Go. He probably sounded crazy pacing up and down the field yelling, "Lig! LIG!" to one player or another when she made a mistake on the field. He told us time and again that we were all going to make mistakes, but if we kicked ourselves and dwelled on it and let it get to us, we were going to waste time and allow our opponents to get the best of us. "Just let it go," coach would say. This isn't to say we shouldn't try to learn from our mistakes. But we definitely should not wallow in them, punish ourselves for them, or allow them to distract us from the important work we have ahead of us.




2. If you're not dead tired after every game, you didn't do your job.

I was a midfielder for most of the time I played soccer, so generally I spent 90 minutes running up and down the field without really stopping. It was an art trying to conserve energy throughout the game so I didn't run out before the end of the game, but I also didn't want to get to the end of the game and still feel like I could run a few more miles. I feel like it's the same way with just about everything in life. When it comes to school, I don't want to work so hard that I literally never sleep or do anything except study (which I've done from time to time), but I don't want to get to the end of a class and realize I haven't learned anything or given it my best shot. In fact, my goal is to never come to the end of a day and realize I could have done better.



3. Failure can be a wonderful thing.

I first went to school in seventh grade, and I played on the junior high soccer team. I played on that team in eighth grade, too, which was fine for the time. But I thought of little else other than playing on the varsity soccer team my freshman year. They had so many games, and they had cool jackets, and they were all really good at soccer. I was obsessed with the idea. The summer before my freshman year, when I had about three months before tryouts, I ran and practiced some to try to get in shape. But I didn't go all out, and I really didn't try as hard as I could have. When tryouts rolled around, not surprisingly, I didn't make the team. I wasn't in shape, and frankly I wasn't good enough.

However, not making the team the first time I tried only increased my resolve. I played on the junior varsity team instead and worked double hard. I played indoor all year long. And then that summer for the three months before tryouts before my sophomore year, I practiced every single day. I ran miles, did sit-ups and pushups, sprinted, practiced shooting, dribbling, passing—and anything else I could think of.

When tryouts rolled around, I made the varsity team. Not only did I reach my goal by making the team, but I also became a much better soccer player than I ever would have if I had made the team my freshman year. There's no way I would have worked that hard that summer if I hadn't failed once. And after that, I realized what a privilege it was to be on the team, so I ran until I could run no more, practiced until I could practice no more, and played each game as if it were my last. I learned an important lesson:

Failure isn't the end of a chapter. It's the beginning of a new one.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cold Blooded Murder Part 2

We all have to face our fears eventually. Some day there will be no one to help you, no one to hear you scream. You're just going to have to survive on your own.

In this post, I discussed my three month long battle against one of the most disgusting and formidable creatures I have ever encountered: a huge, impossibly speedy, leg-flailing beast known as a centipede. It stalked me for 12 weeks, jumping out from nowhere and scaring me out of my wits. I hunted it, watched for it, and even tried to poison it, but even if I had found it, I probably would have been too scared to kill it, which is why my roommate did, finally. She's my hero.

Some time after this ordeal, I got to thinking. What if someday I was home alone and encountered one of these horrific creatures on my own? I would probably keel over and die. I hoped that would never happen.

I went to live my sister after I finished school, and she neglected to tell me something very important that I discovered one dark night a few days ago. I came home from working on a film shoot (I'll probably talk about that in another post) late at night after a Sonic run, and Katie wasn't home yet. So I pulled off my shoes and socks and headed into the kitchen to get some water.

Just as I was reaching for the fridge door, what did I see? I saw a huge, black, many-legged miscreant speeding across the floor. Before I could scream, throw up, or even move, it had passed my feet by just inches, its nasty legs flailing.

IT ALMOST RAN ACROSS MY BARE FEET.

I was in too much shock to scream. The last two times I've seen a centipede, I've made one my friends kill it. But now I was the only one here. I was alone.

My sister had neglected to tell me that she'd seen this beast weeks ago, and it had been in the house ever since!

How could I just go back into the living room, knowing that awful thing was skulking around my house? The answer is that I couldn't. There was no way in God's green earth that this apartment was big enough for me and that THING.

I ran to put on some shoes and came cautiously back into the kitchen. It was hesitating halfway across the floor, so I threw a rug at it, jumping atop it and hoping to crush it underneath.

No such luck! The centipede sped from beneath the rug and headed for the closet. Good gosh NO! NOT THE CLOSET! There were so many bags and boxes and clothes in there that I'd NEVER find it! I grabbed an empty box of oatmeal and, hands shaking, approached the evil creature.

Instead of going in the closet, it sped under a shelving unit that held the toaster and some sodas. I knew it was there. I knew it was still. I knew it was right next to the entrance to the closet. I knew this was my last chance.

I grabbed the shelving unit and violently pulled it away from the wall. There it was! In a panic, the centipede spun in a circle and tried to take off toward the closet. With a shriek of horror, I plunged the empty box onto the writhing miscreant and saw its legs explode in every direction, still twitching with latent life.

IT WAS DEAD! I had hunted and killed my very first centipede!

I felt like there were things crawling all over me. I ran to the living room, jumping and twitching spastically, while throwing off my shoes and jacket and checking myself for other crawling specimens.

I left the decimated carcass for my sister to dispose of, but not before spraying the house with Raid.

A PSA to all centipedes within a ten mile radius: "You have been weighed, and you have been measured, and you have been found wanting. I have a special set of skills... and a weapon called never-ending-supply-of-oatmeal boxes. Your days are numbered, and this town ain't big enough for the both of us."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is God Fair?

Is God fair? Is it fair that some people will go to Hell?

This is a question that really bothers a lot of people.

Those who have accepted Jesus into their hearts and become His children will spend eternity in Heaven with Him when they die. Those who have not accepted Christ will spend an eternity in torment in a place called Hell. This is because we are sinful beings and need Jesus to save us from these sins. God and sin do not mix; so without Christ's blood to cover our iniquities, we can't go to Heaven.

"But that's not fair," some people say.
Who are we to require the God of the universe to be fair? (Even though He is.)

What about people who haven't heard?
Matthew 24:14 says, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." Everyone will hear before He returns.

Who is God to tell me I have to make this choice? Who is He to make the rules?
Well, since He created the universe including you, He can do stuff like that.

Some people seem worse than others. Some people seem like they've lived pretty good lives.
Sure. But all sin is equal in God's eyes. That's like saying, "Oh, it's just a little cyanide. I'll be fine." Sin is sin.

God isn't just fair—He's offered us grace. We could never have been saved if He hadn't died for us. I came across this quote by C.S. Lewis a week or so ago, and I've been thinking about it ever since:

"God, in the end, gives people what they most want, including freedom from Himself. What could be more fair?" - C.S. Lewis

Think about it. You have a choice to spend eternity either with God or apart from Him. It's a big decision, so choose wisely.

You might be wondering why the "God-less" option is, or has to be, so awful. The following is just my perception, but here goes:

Whether you're a believer or not, everything good about your life is from and because of God, and it's just a loan.

James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

Let's think about this. In the beginning, God created the universe and the earth and everything in it, and it was very good. Then man sinned and brought evil, sickness, and death into the world. God didn't create the world with those things. Adam and Eve's sin brought it into the world.

All that is good comes from God. Life is a good thing, breathing is good, family is good, food is good, the animals are good, trees are good, work is good, beauty is good, laughter is good...

ALL that we have that is good is a gift from God. Even the people who choose to ignore God, some even saying that He doesn't exist, still get to enjoy the gifts God has given the people of this world. Non-believers experience the joy of love, learning, education, travel, creation, and fellowship. The reason ANY of us has those things is because God is alive and at work in this world.

However, we do not own any of these things. That's why the Bible calls us stewards of this world. We are supposed to care for the Earth, love one another, accomplish the tasks he empowers us to do, and spread His Gospel. That is why we're here.

Jesus is going to come back and crush Satan once and for all. When He came to earth thousands of years ago, He defeated sin and death to give us the opportunity to accept Him. When he returns the second time, He'll come get all the believers. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) Then, after a battle that's described in Revelation that I'm not going to get into, God will defeat Satan once and for all, throwing him into the lake of fire.

Now where do we get off thinking God should loan us all this goodness forever?

Unbelievers, be thankful that you get to enjoy God's gifts, including your life, even for a short time. You wouldn't even exist if it weren't for Him. Who are you to say that you should be able to go on enjoying these gifts forever or that you should be able to enjoy them after you die in the way that you please?

Hell is a place where there is no joy. There is only suffering, sorrow, extreme agony. That's because it's an existence apart from God.

Earth is a place we can experience the joy of Christ as Christians and can enjoy the things He's given us, but we still have to deal with the imperfections in the world because of the sinfulness of humanity.

Heaven is a perfect place where God and people redeemed by Christ will spend eternity. There will be no more tears, pain, or sorrow. That's because we will be in God's presence. What could ever be better than that?

So my point is: Everything that's good about your life is from God, and it's only a loan. This earth is going to pass away, and the unbelievers and the redeemed will be separated.

Have you chosen an eternity with Christ or an eternity apart from Him? The choice is yours, and it always has been, but you don't have forever to decide.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Stuff I Actually Have Time for in the Summer

1. Blogging. Last May I wrote one post every day, but when school started, I wound up writing one or two per month if I was lucky. Back to frequent blog posting!

2. Walks. My version of "walks" during the school year was speeding from class to work to lunch and back to my room on my scooter. I love my scooter, but always rushing around takes away the simple joy of a leisurely walk.

3. Movies/TV. I don't watch much TV as it is, but during the school year, I watch practically no TV shows and barely any movies. Now I watch multiple movies per week and may even finish watching the Chuck episodes I never got to.

4. Sleeping. During the school year, I sleep an average of 5 hours per night, sometimes less. Friday night is the only exception—usually I sleep 'til noon on that day, but not always. During the summer, I go to bed around 1 or 2 and sleep until about ten, unless I have work or a road trip, of course.

5. Eating. Yes, I still eat during the school year. But that's usually the caf, which means a strict diet of salad, cereal, and ice cream. Outside the caf, I usually eat out or consume large amounts of Ramen noodles, oatmeal, and Pop Tarts. During the summer, I eat a ton of peanut butter sandwiches, salad, apples, and of course, home cooked meals.

6. Baking. I don't have a kitchen of my own at school. Or money for ingredients. Or time to bake. At home, however, I make some stinkin' good cookies, cakes, brownies, and sometimes pies.

7. Reading. If you know me at all, you'll know that I am ALWAYS reading something. Unless I'm driving or running, I'm reading a text, Facebook, random articles on the internet, notes, textbooks, or emails. What I don't read, however, are fun books. Like...never. Over Christmas sometimes I read a few, but other than that, I save my fun reading for the summer. Last May I read a book per day for two or three weeks. I'm talkin' real, thick, heavy books. I just read for like six hours per day. Good stuff.

8. Writing. I write books. Usually during the school year I'm too busy writing articles and papers and improving other people's writing at my various jobs to do any writing of my own. This year was kind of an exception since I started writing my latest book, 'Notherday, in January. But now I'll have much more time for it. :)

9. Beach. Obviously there isn't a beach in KY. There is one at home. Therefore, I spend as much time there as I can. I'm really good at boogie boarding (it takes skill; trust me), but I've never tried surfing. I'm going to try to do that this summer.

10. Soccer. I play pickup soccer at school, usually on weekends, and yeah, I've played intramurals. But during the summer, I really enjoy going to my old high school and playing indoor with all the high school kids. In fact, it's one of my favorite things.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Life is a Lot Like Taking a Class

1. Sometimes the answer is so simple you don't even have to finish reading the question.

2. Sometimes you have to make a quick decision because you're running out of time.

3. Usually your gut feeling is right.

4. When you're losing hope, remember the Teacher is always quiet during the test.

5. If you ask the wrong person for help/advice, you end up failing.

6. It's always best just to ask the Teacher.

7. Knowledge is power.

8. You might be confused for a long time and suddenly have an "aha!" moment.



9. At times it may seem unfair that the person next to you doesn't try and still does better than you.

10. A lot of the work seems pointless.

11. You lose some sleep over it.

12. At times it's a group project.

13. Sometimes you can't choose your (family) group members.

14. Sometimes you CAN choose your (friends) group members.

15. If you get it wrong the first time, occasionally you're lucky enough to get a retest.

16. You can't trust just anyone to take notes for you while you're sick.

17. It's important to have the right Book.

18. Even if it doesn't seem fair right now, it usually comes out in the wash.

19. It doesn't last forever, even if it seems like it.

20. Occasionally you have to sit next to someone you don't like.

21. Friends make it endurable when it's difficult or insufferably boring.

22. Some days it doesn't make sense at all.

23. It's too difficult, so you hope for a break. Then it's so easy you get bored.

24. The Teacher wants his students to succeed.

25. If you have a good attitude and work hard, things will go better for you.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Scare-able Katie and the Bushman Throwback in Target

Okay, that was long title. But anyway, my sister Katie is very scare-able. Maybe that's because my mom has always taken great delight in jumping out at us any chance she gets. In past years she has hidden behind trash cans, in the shed, under beds—anywhere. Don't worry; we get her back sometimes. But those are entirely different stories.

Bottom line is, my sister gets startled very easily. Five years ago when my family and I were in California, we walked the streets of San Francisco for the experience of hearing the the street performers sing, seeing them make awesome paintings and likenesses of passersby, and even observing some break dancers. They were all talented and entertaining, and they all placed a can or bucket or some sort out in the open so observers could make donations.

The most interesting money-making-street-livin'-dude we came across is actually considered by some to actually be a tourist attraction. The guy has really made it into some pamphlets and websites about vacationing to California. They say: "If you go to California, you have got to meet the Bush Man."

He's real. Trust me. I've seen him with my own two eyes.

Yeah, we were all walkin' along the walkway when suddenly, through some harmless looking branches along the path, sprung the Bush Man, yelling, "ROAARRRR!" He jumped right into my sister's path of travel, and boy did she scream! I laughed so hard, because she had gotten the brunt of the scare, and my mom, of course, thought it was hilarious.

That's really how the guy earns money. He hides behind some eucalyptus branches and jumps out to scare people. They pay him because it's so darn hilarious to see people scared out of their minds. He's been doing this since 1980. It's for real. Check it out.



But anyway, the other day my sister and I were at Target. You know, just killing some time waiting for our dollar movie to start.










We were walking down one of the main aisles when all of a sudden, this girl jumps out of one of the aisles yelling, "BOOOooo!!" And of course Katie shrieked.

I started cracking up. The girl's two friends, the ones she was actually trying to startle, didn't even seem fazed, but they gave her a really hard time for scaring my sister.

"Girl, that is how you end up on twitter!" one of them said.
"Yeah, see you scared that poor girl? Just look at her!"

The girl who had done the scaring apologized profusely to Katie, saying she hadn't meant to scare her. I told the girl I was going to write a blog post about her.

But I didn't tell her that the experience reminded me of the Bush Man. Heh.

Katie always seems to be the one to get scared. I was just a little startled when she started screaming bloody murder in the middle of Target. But other than that, I was unfazed. Ohhh Katie.

On a totally unrelated note, I'm more than a little obsessed with California. I want to go back.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What Hath God Wrought? A lot.

Okay, you had to know this was coming. Today is May 8th! What is May 8th, you ask? May 8th is the day I started this blog exactly one year ago. And as you might have guessed, the title of my very first post was What Hath God Wrought?

I didn't know what would become of this blog or what would happen in my life in the next year. When I started, I had no idea what I'd write about. Now I've written 67 posts. No one knew I was writing a blog. Now I have 20 followers. No one read it. Now almost 3,000 people have viewed at least one of my pages. This includes people from Russia, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Ukraine, and Australia. Amazing! Now when you type "Melissa Landon" into Google, a few things about my blog show up in the first page of results. I thought that was pretty cool.

I started this blog because my sophomore year of college had just ended, my sister had just graduated, and I was staying in my little college town for a few days longer than everyone else. I'd had a class about news blogging, and I longed to write just for the sake of writing... about whatever I wanted to write about. I was feeling creative and sentimental. Thus, blog. Now, a full year later, I just finished my junior year, I watched one of my best friends (and other good friends) graduate from my college, and I'm staying with my sister in my little college town for about a month. I find it absolutely amazing how many things have changed in the past year.

When I started the blog last year, I had about a month at home, so I wrote a lot. Then I was at camp for two months, so I didn't write much, but those were probably the best two months of my life. Then I went back to my University for semester 1 of my junior year. I've dubbed it the weird semester. I enjoyed it, but parts of it were really hard, and it was REALLY WEIRD. Then I had Christmas break. I wrote a lot of "looking back" and reflective posts about Christmas and the year. Next came semester 2, which was really hard but still infinitely better than semester 1. I met new friends, started to see where I could practically, occupationally, and helpfully apply what I have learned in college, started to dream bigger, and started thinking about graduating.

Here are the top five most popular posts I've written:

1. Christians are Narrow-minded?
2. Your Thoughts During Finals
3. Who Gets 80 Dollar Library Fines?
4. "'Ello, Beastie"
5. Things That Drive Me Crazy

So here I sit, a full year older than when I started writing this blog, wondering where 365 days went. So much happened, and yet it went by like a day. This year I'm turning 21, traveling to London for over a month, and beginning my last year of college. Within a year, I will likely have a college diploma, a car, a job, and an apartment. That will be such an adventure! But as you know, for me, adventures never begin next year, next week, or even tomorrow. The adventure is always right now.

I can't wait to see what God is up to for next year, for next week, and for today. I am so blessed.

Overcast

It's a thought she can't nail down
A memory she can't remember
An idea she can't define
It's overcast.

It's an alternate reality
One that she thought would be
Something of a mystery
It's overcast.

It's a friend she once had
A person she once knew
A smile she once saw
It's overcast.

It's a place she almost went
A scene she never saw
A plane she didn't take.
It's overcast.

It's a word she didn't say
The time she didn't take
The call she didn't make
It's overcast.

Her imagination runs away
To a place that might be safe
Seeing things that can never be
It's overcast.