Dumbledore's Army (Part 2)

A year ago, I wrote "Losing Dumbledore," in tribute to David Marocco, the principal of the school I attended from 4th grade through senior year. Here, I want to write down some of the things I learned in those years. 

The claw part of an ordinary hammer is one of the most effective tools for pulling weeds. Attack the center part of the weed with the fork of the hammer and then use the leverage of the curve to pull it back up. I learned that when we would clear the field for flag football season. 

My (outside) attitude is under my control. Some days are terrible on the inside. However, we weren't allowed to mistreat each other just because we were having a rough day. There was no excuse for being awful. There are countless hard days I've gotten through without getting fired simply because I learned how to control my face and attitude in an ordinary situation. 

How to write a paper.  Mr. Marocco's wife taught us to write in MLA and APA format from sixth grade onward and how to write an argumentative essay starting in tenth grade. In college, that meant that I already knew the basics of what was expected, how to execute those basics and (critically) how long it would take. 

There's no such thing as a truly private life. Even if I think I can do something in secret, as a Christian, I believe that literal God can literally see me. It's not about control, it's about remembering there is no word or deed for which I will not make account. The Creed for the school was a daily reminder that the people around me are also watching, and assessing the people I love based on who I am: "everything that I do and say reflects not only on me, but on my family, my school, and most importantly, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." On a side note, that sentence taught me more about how to honor my parents than every book I've read on the subject. 

Tuck it in to win. Also, wear a belt. 

Everyone has to contribute to making a plan work. The annual fundraisers were dependent on students volunteering. I learned how to sell products as a ten year old, selling Christmas trees during math class. 

Play anyway. You may not be the best. You may never become the best. But if you like it, play anyway (I wrote more about this one here). 

The Littles are watching you. Because it was an elementary through high school, we got to watch kids grow up. We also got to feel what it's like to become a Big Kid, in a really BIG sense. It's one thing to be the oldest kid in elementary. It's another thing to be the biggest kid when the smallest kid is five, watching how to become an adult, or at least a little older. It's a responsibility I don't always carry perfectly. It's a responsibility I've known about since I was nine. Who you are is critical. How you act is how everyone else understands who you are.

There's always enough hope to see you through. Whatever's needed, whatever's coming, there's still hope left. There's still a chance. So many of the chances will work out, and so many of them that fail will lead to something that will work. Whether it's a career, or a friendship, or faith itself, it's worth it to hope anyway. Perhaps most of all, there's no one worth giving up on. You never know who will come home. 



Photo by Sandro Katalina on Unsplash




Extremely Specific Tunes for Extremely Specific Moods


"Feeling things slowly, then all at once." 

Oliver Riot: Hallucinate


"Maybe it will all work out... maybe. 

Vocal Few: Tall Trees. 


"This'd be fun if I was happy inside." 

Paramore: After Laughter


"Imposter Syndrome about Adulthood."

Noah and the Whale: Last Night on Earth


"Life: still hard. Still Beautiful."

Relient K: Air for Free

Photo by Mark Solarski on Unsplash

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The High Key EP

The High Key EP

A few weeks ago, the music store I work at got a weighted keyboard. I have a complicated relationship to piano; I was never dedicated to practicing enough and while I love playing piano, I struggled to learn to read music. For many years, I was almost exclusively committed to playing guitar and ukulele. Even after I reached an uneasy truce with piano, it felt like a bit of a foreign instrument that I couldn't quite understand (and therefore couldn't properly enjoy). But... there was a keyboard. Right there. So I started playing. 

Month One of Patreon

Month One of Patreon

Back in the day (think 1400-1600), artists were hired by patrons to make stuff for them, either by commission or by salary. Your patron might pay you month to month and then ask you to make specific pieces, or you might work on a case-by-case basis (the Sistine Chapel's ceiling was one such commissioned work). In every version, patrons had a lot of control of what got made because (in most cases) they were the sole patron. With Patreon, the system is flipped: you can support artists and creators for as little as a $1 a month, and we the creators can keep making stuff and growing as individuals and artists. 

Why My Fiction Isn't Inspiring

Why My Fiction Isn't Inspiring

My fiction isn't about pretty people doing pretty things, and even more rarely is it about Christian people doing Christian things-- usually, it tackles questionable characters making questionable decisions (either objectively, as in "Synesthesia", or by getting caught up in really terrible situations, as in "Thorn"). Sometimes, there's an element of horror, or mystery, or the toss-up between inevitability and agency. A lot of well-meaning Christians in my life have asked why: why write messy work? Why muddy the waters? Why not inspire? 

Success, I Guess

Success, I Guess

It's a tired cliche: success is hard to define. It's also a truth universally acknowledged that everyone has an idea of what success means. Money, relationships, personal fulfillment, product, promotion, and a host of other things usually go into it. Generally, growth is tied up in success as well-- "getting a boyfriend" becomes "getting a husband" becomes "having kids" becomes "sending them to college;" promotions never stop; there's never too much money (for most of us).

Summertime Approaches

Summertime Approaches

One of the parts of being out of college (and not having returned to one as a teacher) is that I no longer have a summer. Sure, I will be returning to teaching at an annual theatre summer camp, but it's not the same thing as having months off, dedicated to doing something different than what I do nine months out of the year. There are summers I wasted and summers I didn't, and so I've put together this blog post of ways I'm glad I spent summers, with notes on things that might not apply to everyone. No one actually thinks doing nothing is the right idea unless they really, really need to. 

Stitching Solutions

Stitching Solutions

When it comes to community and societal solutions to problems, there's an impulse to find the Answer™. There's a notion that, if only we can find the right fix to the problem, it will go away, permanently. The other side (and, frankly, it doesn't matter what side) doesn't have actual solutions -- they have "band-aids," tiny, meaningless fixes that aren't going to cause real change.