An Amateur Dissertation on Marriage and Pop Culture

I wrote this in response to an episode of The Popcast, run by my friends Jamie and Knox. No one asked me to write a 1200 word essay and beam it into their inbox, but I did it anyway. Bless their hearts. I don't know why they tolerate me. Anyway, what follows is what I am calling a dissertation, which I wrote in an attempt to sort out my whirlwind of thoughts slinging around in my head while I listened to the podcast episode. It's one of those things I wrote quickly -- you know in that way when your fingers can't move as fast as the words that are pouring out of your brain -- so if there are loopholes, there are loopholes. Hence the word "amateur" in the title. But I kind of like talking about this, so if you have any additional thoughts or "but wait--"s, bring it on.

Okay, enough disclaimers. Here are my thoughts regarding marriage and whether it can be accurately represented in pop culture -- TV, movies, celebrities or otherwise -- and whether or not age makes a difference in readiness for marriage.


So here’s the thing about marriage: it makes no sense whatsoever.

Seriously. If you think about it, binding two human beings together with different feelings and preferences and dreams and fears together for their entire lives seems kind of insane. I mean yes, weddings and fairytales are great and all that but really, the institution of marriage itself—it’s crazy.

I’m not really sure why anyone would stay married, or get married at all, unless they had a greater reason to do so. For me, there’s a greater reason. Whether I realized it or not when I said “I do,” (I was having a moderate panic attack at the time so I’m fairly certain I nothing but “please don’t let me pass out in these red high heels” was running through my mind but that’s neither here nor there), there is something bigger than my husband or me holding this thing together. There’s something bigger than us giving us a reason to keep fighting, to not just up and leave rooms when having discussions, to not walk away, to dig through the conversations and all the emotions until we arrive at a place where, even if there is no solution, we at least SEE each other.

That doesn’t happen on T.V.

It’s hard to try to find a marriage reflected on T.V. that reflects what I think marriage should strive to look like, because most of them are not based on the same grid as mine. I see my marriage and marriage in general through a frame of Jesus. So all my views are colored by that.

If you’re not a Christian, honestly, to go back to my first point, I have no idea why you would get married. Again: the institution itself makes. no. sense. I guess if you just want someone to load the dishwasher the wrong way and snore too loudly and sit next to you watching TV shows you may or may not agree on for the rest of your life, which I suppose isn’t bad, but you can do that without getting up in front of people, (potentially even at a church, which again doesn’t make sense to me if you’re not a believer) filling out paperwork and vowing to live with the same person forever.

But if you are a Christian, 1) marriage is meant to refine you, sanctify you, make you more like Jesus (TRUST ME you find out real quick you’re not the saint you thought you were) and 2) marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ and the church to the rest of the world. Marriage is meant to show the world what grace and sacrificial love look like. To make people wonder what is different about us.

I don’t know why you wouldn’t just throw in the towel and say ‘eff this noise, this junk is hard’ if you weren’t a Christian. But if you are, you can say, ‘ok, self, this person is God’s perfect provision for me — not a perfect person, but the person I (and God — in a mystery I don’t quite understand — free will vs sovereignty and all that) chose and made a commitment to in front of God and all our loved ones. We promised God we would stick this out. That we would be partners. That we would love one another wholly — not in a 50/50 compromise kind of way (which most T.V. shows seem to tout as a healthy relationship), but 100% sacrificially. So I’m going to go back in that room and we’re going to talk about our feelings, DANG IT.’ And you can do that because you know the other person isn’t going to walk out the door at the first sign of trouble or discord because they made the same promise as you did — to stay.

This is why an example-worthy marriage is not represented on T.V. It’s barely even represented in real life — if there is no basis of Jesus, I don’t know how you could even begin to represent what marriage should look like. Marriage was invented by God, after all, and a wedding is a religious ceremony but LET’S NOT GO THERE, shall we?

The closest we get on T.V. is Tami and Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights if you've been living under a rock--and if so stop reading this immediately and go start the pilot on Netflix), and Kristina and Adam Braverman (Parenthood). And the main reason why is simply because their marriages are full of grace. They mess up and they forgive one another. Over and over. They’re a team, no matter what. Their marriage is the priority, even over their children when it comes down to it, and they fight for it. That’s not the norm for our culture. Or celebrities, which is why I also don’t include celebrity marriages in my list of role models. Like, you guys go ahead and get married in Italy and have your kids’ ugly drawings sewn on your veil by blind nuns or whatever but don’t expect me to act like this is something I’m supposed to believe is the pinnacle of commitment and unconditional love.

ABOUT THE AGE THING: I think even though I was young when I got married (22), I at least understood that I was making a commitment. A choice. The whole reason I decided I was okay with getting married after all my “but how do I KNOW if he’s THE ONE?”-ing was that I was taught by a wiser person that it’s not about “The One,” it’s about making a commitment. They are “The One” simply due to the fact that you are marrying them. That makes them The One. You chose them. You said, 'yes, I am going to commit to this person for life and fight for our relationship no matter what.' I think I at least understood that on some level. Plus, I’m a commitment type of gal. I like consistency and I tend to pick people and stick with them in all areas of life.

So I think age doesn’t matter as long as you understand that you’re not just "taking the next step” — you’re making a commitment. You’re vowing to God and to the other person to stick with them, be on their team, have grace for them and love them unconditionally to the best of your ability, despite any difficult circumstance, for the rest of your life.

Again, I don’t think that would truly resonate with you unless you are a believer. Otherwise you just kind of take a leap based on your feelings and hope for the best. Fingers crossed, hoping you won’t “end up divorced.” Of course there are always extenuating circumstances. I’m not saying Christians should never ever get divorced. I’m just saying we should fight for marriage rather than give up on it.

And, in my opinion, couples on T.V. give up too easily. I have watched Joel Graham walk out of a room in a huff on Julia Braverman about 800 times this season of Parenthood (5)* and that’s not an option after only 3 minutes of talking. I’m sorry. It’s just not.

TL; DR: 1) You can’t separate a healthy marriage from Christianity and the ideals it represents, in my opinion, and this is why it is not represented in pop culture generally. and 2) I got married young but I understood the whole commitment thing so I think as long as you understand that, age doesn’t matter.

What do you think? Can a healthy marriage be truthfully represented in pop culture? Do you think age matters when it comes to getting married?

*I was still on season 5 when I wrote this.


P.S. Subscribe to The Popcast. You'll laugh, you'll yell at your car stereo, you'll sigh exasperated sighs. It's great. 

The Everglow (Or, 'Deuces, I'm Going to Philadelphia')

mae pic 1

This is me, circa 2005.

The fact that that was nearly 10 years ago weirds me out. I don't want to talk about it.

But what is significant about this photo is not the fact that it was my first QuikTrip experience after being told several times it is The Gas Station to End All Gas Stations. (That’s true, by the way.) It’s the shirt I’m wearing.

One of my best friends brought it back for me from Warped Tour (oh, 2005). I’m wearing it because I went to see the band that night — Mae, the makers of what might just be my favorite album of all time: The Everglow.

I’m not saying it’s critically acclaimed or was robbed of a Grammy nomination or that Mae should have been the next Coldplay or U2. I’m just saying it’s very near and dear to my heart.

I’m not sure if it’s the time period in which I listened to it most, or the actual songs — most likely some combination of both — but as that hammer strikes that piano string — the first, deep, bellowing note of “We’re So Far Away" — I feel content. It’s partly nostalgia, I admit, but partly just a beautiful song.

The Everglow is kind of like a storybook. The cover art is childlike and whimsical, and the album begins and ends with a little narration opening and closing the story. It’s a journey, led by a fearless trio of piano and guitar and a nasal-y misunderstood 20-something. It’s happy and sad and beautiful and hilariously dramatic, as all “emo” bands are. The Everglow is best as a whole.

You probably think I’m being ridiculous. It’s an album made by a group signed to Tooth & Nail Records in 2005. They wore black and probably girls jeans (this was before the days of skinny jeans) and performed at Warped Tour.

But for me, The Everglow is a piece of my heart. It’s one of the only albums I go back to over and over again.

I own the real-live CD, but it had gotten too scratched up from months on rotation in my car CD player (I didn’t have one of those fancy 6-cd-changers) and then traveling from dorm room to apartment to townhouse throughout college. When I realized it skipped far too many times to be listenable anymore, I broke down and re-bought it on iTunes a few years ago. It’s the only album I’ve paid for twice.

I still enjoy it now as much as I did as a senior in high school and listen to it on the reg. If I’m stressed, or I can’t think of anything else to listen to, or I just need something happy, I go to this album.

This post was prompted by the fact that Mae is doing a tour starting in 2015 in which they will perform The Everglow top to bottom. I KNOW I KNOW. I can’t wait. Because I am going. Even if I have to fly to Philadelphia, which is one of only three dates they have released so far.

Everglow Tour

Everyone has an album like this, right? What’s yours?

The Pink 'Crazy Cat Lady' Mug

Today is May 26, 2014. Memorial Day. I’m not at work. Instead, I’m sitting at my desk, in a yellow room, in our first house, peering out a window with the blinds pulled up about 14 inches — just enough for the orange cat I’ve come to love more than I ever thought I could to sit on the sill. I’m drinking warm coffee from a pink mug emblazoned with the moniker “Crazy Cat Lady.”

I love this mug. I love it because it is the perfect size to drink from so that my coffee doesn’t get cold before I finish it (and then I can fill it up again). I love it because it is a semi-ironic description of someone I never thought I’d be, but have certainly become. But most of all, I love it because it was given to me by someone I hadn’t known very long, simply because she saw it and thought of me.

She probably didn’t know it, but she gave it to me at a time when I needed to feel significant. Loved. And that gift did exactly that. “You matter,” it says.

I don’t really know what the point of this post is, other than just to say, this morning, I am content. It is hardly ever the case, but right now, in this moment, I have it. I believe that I have all I will ever need.

It’s always true. I always have all that I will ever need, because the God of all creation loves me personally and deeply and cares about my individual thoughts and feelings. And he is sovereign. But I don’t usually believe all that, all at once.

So I just want to put a stamp on this day — this morning. May 26, 2014. Drinking from my “you matter” coffee mug, listening to the dishwasher run, knowing I am loved by a sweet husband who right now is out loving people and being charming while selling the best peaches on earth, watching my cat peer out the window as if he is the sentinel outside a castle who decides whether or not to let the drawbridge down, writing in peace.

Annnnd the dog next door just started barking as if the sky is falling and he’s the only one who can warn us. More coffee, please.

Oh, and by the way, if no one has told you today -- you matter.

Excuses (And Links to Things I HAVE Been Writing)

I realize I have been slacking around here. It's not you, it's me. Really.

And probably the fact that I started watching Veronica Mars and can't seem to go a lunch break without watching an episode.

So in order to provide proper justification for my whereabouts lately, as I'm sure you were demanding, here are some things I have been writing.

If you haven't noticed, my friend Elizabeth and I have been writing about coffee shops over at (aptly named) Coffee Shoppers. Nashville is chock full of 'em, and we like to barge in, take pictures like weirdos who have never been to a coffee shop, and record our findings. Lots of times we find pretension and slouchy kit beanies. Here are some of our recent posts:

You can follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to keep up with Coffee Shoppers posts.

I've also started writing some lists for Taste of Country, a country music entertainment news site. Being a Canadian-Alabamian-Nashvillian who owns approximately five country albums , you can imagine this makes me the perfect fit for this job. Fortunately they said I could still write for them, and through the magic of osmosis and YouTube, I'm learning quickly. Here are the list posts I've written so far that are online:

I've gotten the opportunity to do some other freelance projects as well, which I am so thankful for.

Anyway, all that to say I may not be posting quite as often, but rest assured, I will always come back for you. Say you'll wait for me, okay? And if you ever start to miss me--if you're ever wondering what possessed Billy Ray decided to release a terrible rap song or need an expert opinion on how many covers of "Let It Go" is too many--just look up at the stars and and know, I'm thinking the same thing.

What have you been up to? What's your record for longest amount of time without "Let It Go" stuck in your head? Mine's probably about sixty-four minutes.

Dancing (or: "That One Time I Was A Flapper")

Again I apologize if there is still spam in my feed. I am in the process of getting it fixed...hold tight! (If you're getting this in your e-mail, unsubscribe at the bottom of the e-mail, then resubscribe via the box on my site. It's a new subscription service.) I've never been a dancer. Though it seemed every other girl in my elementary school was taking lessons and using their old costumes for halloween or dress-up, it just wasn't in my line of vision. Most girls I knew who took dance started when they were like 2 years old. I moved to Alabama when I was six, so needless to say I'd missed the boat on that. Before I even realized how much of a Thing it was, I'd already just kind of assumed and accepted that it wasn't my thing. No one ever told me I couldn't. If I had wanted to take dance lessons, I'm sure I could have. But I had never done it, and didn't really want to join in now. If you haven't picked up on this yet, new things aren't really my jam. Plus, starting at a young age I had a nonconformist streak in me, which is really just pride and made-up rules, I think. But that's a story for another day.

So I've always just thought I couldn't dance. Or, at least, didn't dance. My only exposure to it in my actual life was watching other girls back up against a guy and sort of bounce up and down ("grind," as the kids would say) to a Lil Jon song at school dances. And I wasn't about to do that. Besides, I'm not really sure if that can be considered dancing.

The only other experience I had was being bad at choreography. I once attended a Dance Team clinic in elementary school the high schoolers always put on in the summer for the kiddos. It wasn't really that I was worse than any of the other 8 year olds or whatever, but I could never remember what move came next. So I'd end up just half-copying the person in front of me the whole time. "Oh yeah, that. Oh, yeah...Right. That move. Crap. Okay. I'm behind."

I abandoned choreography until the 8th or 9th grade when I was in a community musical theater production of Bugsy Malone, Jr. and cast as a flapper dancer. Dancing was not part of the audition, that I remember, so they probably immediately regretted putting me in that role. But since I was not a lead, but I could sing decently, I got the second-tier part of a flapper. I had to buy character shoes and wear a leotard and everything. From what I can recall, I managed to pull it off okay, but remembering the moves plagued me still. I was terrified I'd just go blank and mess everyone up. I don't think I did, though. Because even though I don't remember most things, I would remember single-handedly bringing a play to a screeching halt.

The first time I enjoyed dancing was at a Christmas formal where I just went with some of my friends. Uncharacteristically, they played songs other than "Get Low" and "Family Tradition" so we actually got to try our hand at dancing. I remember actually enjoying myself dancing to "Footloose" and not caring if we were cool or not.

Since then, the only place I've experienced dancing is at weddings, really. For a while I just always had that feeling of "I don't know what to do with my hands" when I got out there. So I avoided it. That, combined with my paralyzing fear of what people think of me, made for a terrible situation to be in.

Gradually, partly because I've been learning how to not care so much about what others think, and partially just through practice, I have actually come to find dancing super fun.

I'm not good. Never hear me say I am a good dancer. I'm pretty sure I'm terrible. But there is something about dancing. Something about it is so good for my soul.

As a rule-follower, as a worrier, as a "what will people think"-er, there is something so freeing about dancing. Or for me, jumping up and down and around in circles to a Katy Perry song. For three minutes, it's like you're a kid again. I used to spin around and around in the kitchen I was small (kitchen floors are good for spins if you're wearing socks). I spun 'til I was dizzy. I don't know why, other than it was fun. I feel a little like that when I dance. It's even better when it's with some of your favorite people.

Last weekend I went to a wedding for one of my favorite people, and several of my favorite people were in attendance. It was so life-giving just to jump around and sing "Call Me Maybe" at the top of my lungs with my husband and people I love.

Some of my favorite moments in life are when I laugh, not because anything was particularly funny in a comedic sense, but just because I'm having so much fun. One of those moments was during Beyonce's broken down set at her concert while we all sang "Irreplacable." Another was dancing at this wedding.

Our community group recently read a book called The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I had never heard of her before that, but you probably have. In it she talks about the power of dancing. Physically moving your body and dancing around--how it can improve your mood. Lift your depression. Help you shake off the weights you have tethered to your feet. It totally works.

If you feel trapped, scared, emotionally drained...try dancing. Put on your favorite pop song and blare it in your house. Jump around 'til your cat thinks you've lost it (definitely not speaking from experience). You might just feel free for 3 minutes.

When do you dance? How does it make you feel?

My Facebook Looks Terrible And Yours Doesn't

I don't like change. It's no big secret. I'm trying to learn how to not be so afraid of it, but it takes time, you know? DON'T RUSH ME. Needless to say, even though it is inevitable, I am always grumpy when Facebook decides to change its layout once again. I have, for the most part, ceased complaining (publicly), because after all, it is free, and they're going to change it whether we like it or not. We'll all complain for a couple weeks, then move on. After a day I rarely remember what it looked like before anyway.

So several months ago, this happened to me again. Of course, I hated it, but I had no recourse. What's done was done.

Assuming everyone had the same problem as me, I may have complained once or twice, but accepted my fate.

Soon I began noticing my friends' Facebook interfaces were not the same as mine. Hm, weird, I thought. But I figured they would get it soon enough and be in misery just like me.

The days soon turned into weeks, the weeks turned into months. Still, I seemed to be the only one whose Facebook looked like this:

FB edited Click the image to get the full effect

The black bar and janky partial header photo are particularly off-putting.

The header photo seems to have no rhyme or reason as to why it is chosen. Sometimes it is half someone's body. Sometimes it is someone's creepster eyes. In that case, I usually screen shot it and send it to whoever it is. Or whoever's kid it is. Because it's hilariously terrifying.

Screen shot 2014-01-21 at 12.18.07 PM

Shout out to JButt.

Each time, those people say "WHAT IS THIS WHY DOES YOUR FACEBOOK LOOK LIKE THIS?" And again I am reminded I am alone in the universe of wonky Facebook profiles.

Until now, I had no idea why.

But this--this is how my life works, if you're wanting a glimpse into the glamorous life of Laura K. McClellan. This is an example of the terrible luck I've been living with nearly all my life.

According to this article, Facebook had intended on using this redesign and gradually rolling it out to people. They chose a minuscule percentage of Facebook users (HOLLA) to, for whatever reason, get it first.

Months later, they have apparently decided to ABANDON THIS DESIGN and NOT roll it out to anyone else. They are going to keep working on a design and put a new one out WHO KNOWS WHEN.

So for those of you playing along at home, I am one of probably 42 poor wretches on the face of the planet stuck with this HORRENDOUS design.


Am I still using it? YES. But I will not be happy about it.

Do you complain about Facebook (or other site) redesigns? Do you know anyone else with this atrocity, or is it really just me out here? (I'll let you know if your eyes appear at the top of my news feed.)

*This is intended to be humorous and in no way a serious jab against the leader of the free world, in case you are reading this, NSA. Or that organization Huck worked for in Scandal. Luh you.

If You Don't "Feel" Christmas This Year

"So completely are we carried away by the excitement of this midwinter festival that we are apt to forget that its romantic appeal is the least significant thing about it. ...It does seem strange that so many persons become excited about Christmas and so few stop to inquire into its meaning; but I suppose this odd phenomenon is quite in harmony with our unfortunate human habit of magnifying trivialities and ignoring matters of greatest import.” - A.W. Tozer

There’s an expectation that surrounds Christmas of how we are supposed to feel. The lights, the music, the smells—it’s supposed to be magical. Our hearts should feel light and we should be filled with childlike wonder and excitement. For me, sometimes, I fight to get there. If I don’t feel whimsical and filled with joy when I hear “All I Want For Christmas Is You” or see a Christmas tree lit up, I feel like I am missing something.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling that childlike wonder. It’s a fun part of the holiday. But what if that’s not what Christmas is? What if it’s not so much about how we feel but about the magnitude of what happened that night so long ago.

Our pastor read portions of A.W. Tozer’s thoughts on Christmas this past Sunday, including the lines above. It made me pause.

Christmas’ romantic appeal—the lights, the music, the smells—is not Christmas itself. It’s a subtle difference, but it changes everything for me.

Not only do I not have the pressure of “what if I don’t feel Christmas this year,” but I can also clear it away a bit and really look hard at what God incarnate really means for humanity and for me.

Lloyd, our pastor, talked about the theology of Christmas. About how God incarnate is a more amazing miracle than water into wine, than the resurrection, than even creation.

The creator of the universe, the author of time, the reason we live—crammed in to one single tiny human body. Jesus is a miracle. A pure miracle.

I’d never thought about the mere fact of Jesus’ existence as a miracle. But he is. Because Jesus IS God himself. Not just an expression of God. Not just a part of God. That’s amazing to me. God was walking around on this earth.

Why? Solely because he so loves us. God—THE God--embodied human flesh, walked with us, taught us, then let us nail him to a cross. He was born to die. For us.

The miracle of Jesus in light of the whole of God’s story—our story—is even more beautiful. The entirety of creation for hundreds of hundreds of years longing for a savior. God hinting at Him along the way in Isaiah and even Genesis.

Then—finally—he has come! He is HERE. The one we’ve been waiting for. This is it. Come and behold him!

Acknowledging the miracle of God incarnate has subtly yet profoundly changed my understanding of Christmas this year and brought me a sense of peace and joy and wonder I don’t think I’ve felt before. May the hope and peace of Jesus fill your heart this Christmas!


When it's dark, it's hard to find thankfulness. It's hard to see outside whatever is immediately in front of your eyes. It's hard to take a step back, have perspective and see the complete picture of your life as it stands. The last week and a half has been pretty dark for me. I don't want to get too heavy on you. I know you're not used to that from me around here. But it’s where I am. And nothing Justin Bieber does surprises me enough to write about it anymore.

Anyway, it feels near impossible to see past the darkness when you're nose-to-nose with it. Its eyes are somehow locked on yours and you can’t seem to break away. Sometimes, though, by the never-ending grace of the King of the Universe, you can push it aside just enough to see hope.

Most of my hope the past week has come through one of the things I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving--community.

I have been consistently shocked and humbled and moved by the amount of love and grace my community has shown me the past few days. Prayers--not just the one time, but again and again. Encouraging messages, even thoughtful gifts. It's hard to believe, honestly. That it wasn't just a passing "ok I'll pray for you," but a genuine concern and walking-with.

To have that type of community requires vulnerability. I had to tell them what I was going through. I had to admit I felt weak and powerless. But they carried me. They still are. They are those friends lowering me through the ceiling to see Jesus. They are using their hands and their words to hold me up—to help me stand. They are giving me the strength to not cower, but keep fighting, even though it can be exhausting.

I am thankful for this, more than I could ever say. Being genuine and vulnerable with others is difficult. And you have to choose the right people to do it with. But if you're struggling (aren't we all?), I encourage you to step out and share it with others. Don't be ashamed. We're all broken. You'll be surprised how people will come beside you. No one should have to do this life alone.

God has shown up for me this week through my community. Thankfulness can be hard to find in the darkness. But if you fight for it, you might just find hope.

What are you thankful for today?

That Time I Took A Sociology Class and Hated America

Tent City Rally Megaphone

A real picture I actually took at a protest I went to.

Everyone should probably take a sociology class at some point. You will end up hating America, but that's okay. For a little while, at least. You shouldn't go on hating America for the rest of your life or anything. Because it really is the best country, and all countries have flaws. You won't realize that during your sociology class, though. You will be blinded by indignant rage.

I know this because I took one my junior year of college. A tiny woman who graduated from Vanderbilt and wore pearls and cable-knit sweaters waved her fist around, giving impassioned lectures about minimum wage as sunlight glinted off the walnut-sized diamond on her finger. She didn't believe in pink toys or kitchen play sets because they encouraged gender stereotypes. She said things like, make no mistake: it is illegal to be homeless in Nashville, Tennessee.

We watched a movie by the same guys who made Supersize Me about living on minimum wage for a month. She yelled at us for not reading 10 pages of homework and wasting the education our daddies were paying for because we weren't applying ourselves or something.

Oh yeah. She was the real deal, y'all.

This class led me to start doing things like reading Shane Claiborne and arguing with my then-boyfriend-now-husband about gender roles and my right to work (which, as far as I can remember, no one was even arguing against). I even attended my first and only protest that year.

It was a protest to save Tent City, which was a well-known area where a lot of homeless people set up camp and was being threatened to be kicked off the property.

My friend and I went to the capitol building downtown and, after nearly getting trapped inside a very seedy version of Narnia otherwise known as a parking garage stairwell, we stood outside in the cold for a while wondering what we were supposed to do. Were we supposed to bring signs? Was there a chant? Isn't there always a chant? I saw my sociology teacher and hoped she would notice me and commend my commitment to justice for the oppressed. She didn't.

After a few minutes, we noticed something was happening, so we fell in a line marching into the capitol to Mayor Dean's desk, which, we gathered, was to give him a giant card a bunch of people had signed. I assume we were successful in that. I wouldn't know. My friend and I were in the back of the line, and I got stopped at security because I had a pointy nail file in my purse. People were filing back out of the building before I had even been cleared as a security threat. According to my memory (which is often unreliable), the card was actually a thank-you card, not a petition of any kind, because the mayor had already decided to save Tent City. So essentially our protest was all for naught. But no matter, I had done my duty that day. FOR JUSTICE.

Protest Pic

Don't we look like warriors of justice?

After a the semester passed and I realized I was never going to read "Jesus for President" no matter how good "Irresistible Revolution" was, my passion began to wane to normal-person status. I still think social justice is important, and women should be able to work and all that, but I'm not going to go around, arms crossed, and instigate fights with people about it. I'd rather agree with you on how great Kerry Washington is. (I KNOW RIGHT?) But I think it was good for me to experience.

Everyone should probably take a sociology class at some point in their lives. If nothing else, you get to watch movies.

Have you ever taken a sociology class? Did it make you hate your country and want to protest things?

P.S. I love America. Really. [Just had to be clear on that in light of the title of this post, since this is the Internet, after all.]

I Think I'm Better Than You.

The questionnaire

I have a confession: sometimes I think I'm better than you.

I know, I know. It's bad. I know it's bad.

It doesn't come out in a conscious, "you suck and I'm awesome" way. But it comes out when I am angered by the concept of grace.

Grace for you, of course.

Because I don't need any.

I'm the "good girl." I follow all the rules. To borrow a phrase from Derek Webb, even a few I made up. Even a few I made up and put on you and then expect you to follow. Because I'm following them. And why shouldn't you have to follow the same rules I do?

Why should you get to miss three weeks in a row of a weekly commitment we both signed up for, when I was there every week? I could have been watching Doctor Who on Netflix for the hundredth time, for crying out loud. But I wasn't. Because I do what I say I'm going to do.

Why should you get a free pass? Why should anyone? If you follow all the rules, you won't have a problem.

But sometimes even I don't live up to my own standards. When that happens, I am filled with regret and anxiety and must make it up to myself later. Or to whomever I assume is placing these expectations on me (usually it's just myself again). Or just justify it and move on.

Grace is nowhere to be found. Not toward you. Not toward myself.

Yeah, God has grace for me and whatever but really I don't need it because I deserve God's favor.

What? Yep, I said it.

I've never said that out loud, but that's what I say with my thoughts and actions.

I mean, overall my track record has more "good" (or at least just "not bad") things than "bad" things, and I've apologized for those few "bad" things, so I'm still in the clear, here, right?

We are studying Jonah at my church right now, and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite books. It is not just a story of a man getting swallowed by a fish because he disobeyed.

It is a story of God's relentless pursuit of those whom he loves and his even more relentless grace.

This week our pastor quoted a man who said "The only man who is offended by grace is the one who thinks he deserves God's favor." (my paraphrase)

Jonah was one of those people. He had a problem with the doctrine of grace. Often I am one of those people.

The Ninevites didn't deserve grace. They were living egregiously. But God gave it anyway. Jonah hated it. He hated it because he thought he deserved God's favor and they didn't. It wasn't fair. He literally would rather die than endure such injustice.

I can so see myself in that picture. I can also see myself as the brother in the story of the prodigal son.

Him? He gets the fattened calf? I've literally been here the whole time. I didn't break the rules. I didn't insult you by asking for my inheritance early, then desert my family and go squander it like it meant nothing to me. I've been faithfully following the rules and doing everything I was supposed to. Where's my party?

That would be me, on the inside.

So I'm trying to learn grace.

If nothing else, I am learning through marriage that I am absolutely not flawless. In particular, I am blatantly selfish. I am uninterruptible. I often get caught up in the trap that it's all about me.

I clearly need grace. I need it from the Lord. I need it from others, and I need it from myself. Even if I don't live up to my own standards, it's okay. I am human and I am broken, but I am loved, not just in spite of, but including all my flaws.

I am also trying to have more grace for others. To not hold them to this invisible set of standards only I can see. To understand that life is messy and people are messy and not everything can fit in a perfect little box. Not everyone has the same priorities as me, and it doesn't make theirs wrong.

God's grace is limitless. It is beautifully shown in his patient pursuit of Jonah's heart, particularly when, in response to Jonah's indignant wailing (twice), he asks:

"Do you do well to be angry?"

Doesn't your whole body just melt in response to that question? My hardened heart begins to defrost immediately. It's such a simple, kind and gentle rebuking of Jonah's spirit. So patient, like a father kneeling down to speak at eye-level with a child who is still huffing and puffing after an angry outburst, arms crossed, reluctant tears still trickling down his flushed face.

That's me. At least some of the time.

So grace is the theme of my life at the moment. Learning to have it for others. Learning to have it for myself. Learning I need it from the Lord.

Because grace frees us. We are no longer bound by the rules and regulations and standards we or other people set on us. We are no longer bound by our own sin, even. Grace allows us to be who we were meant to be without being paralyzed by the fear of failing or messing up or getting in trouble. Grace gives us life--the kind that makes your heart swell. And I want you and I to have that.

Do you ever have a problem admitting you need grace? Do you struggle to have it for yourself or for others, or to accept it from God?

Hear Ye, Hear Ye [An Announcement]

Hey guys. I have an announcement. It won't be a long one, don't worry. Not like when they tell you at a seminar or at church or something that they have "brief announcements" that then go on for 30 minutes. This is like an actual brief announcement. But then again, it's me, and I ramble. So godspeed.

The announcement is this: starting next week I will post just once a week here. [I know this news will rock you to your core, so I give you permission to go home early today if you need to. I'm sure your boss will understand.]

(For those of you who don't anxiously await my words in your inbox or RSS reader every week (aka probably most of you), I typically post twice, just to give you some perspective.)

I'm reassessing my goals for this site as well as my blogging, and I think this makes the most sense for me, considering how much time I'm spending doing it vs. how much tangible value I'm gaining from it. Not to say blogging isn't valuable. It is, and I very much enjoy it. I feel like I've grown a lot as a writer and I've actually made some real life friends because of it. But additionally I'm trying to do some not-as-public work (i.e. freelancing, fiction work-in-progress) on top of my day job and blogging, and I'm running out of lunch hours, free evening hours, and (newly added) 6ams to squeeze in all that I want to work on.

SO all that to say, keep checking back for weekly posts here, and I hope that in redirecting the time I'd normally spend writing a second post, I will have some other projects to share with you in the not-too-distant future. Meanwhile I will also still be contributing over at the (newly remodeled) Xtra Bacon, so be sure to subscribe to the podcast and RSS feed there as well.

SIDEBAR PLUG: If you or anyone you know is in need of a writer or editor for a project or on an ongoing basis, let me know! I'd love to see if I could help out. (Including, but not limited to: articles, bios, blog posts, website copy, editing ebooks or any of the aforementioned projects, captioning your Instagram photos for you...I'm your girl.)

Since you came all the way to my blog today and all you got was this rotten announcement, here is a gif of some bunnies in cups:


SIDEBAR comments question: What show are you most excited to see come back in the fall? Or what new show are you excited to try out? I'll go first: I've been rewatching the first season of New Girl on Netflix and I cannot wait for it to return!

Forgive Me For Word-Vomiting All Over You On Twitter

How I sometimes feel when I look at my Twitter feed after the Bachelorette airs

It's no secret that blogging is a means to be heard. I want people to read my writing, so I push it out there twice a week (at least), tweet about it, post on Facebook about it and hope that people like it and tell other people about it so that even more people read it.

I want people to read it so that they hopefully become fans of my writing and one day when they need a freelance writer, they will call me, or if/when I write more things, they will buy them and I can actually have a career as a writer. I mean, of course I also want people to enjoy it and maybe even make them laugh or think, but the overarching reason for blogging, in general, is to further my writing career, because it's what I love to do. So admittedly, yes, I want to be heard.

The danger of being a blogger and constantly inundating the masses with your words is that when a couple of people start listening, you start to think all your words are necessary. People need to know what you think about X. Why? Because you're funny. You're entertaining. You're insightful. Why wouldn't people want to read what you have to say?

I stand here before you (metaphorically) admitting I have gotten caught up in this. Over and over again. I tweet commentary constantly without stepping back to think if I'm actually providing something insightful or funny or if I'm just shoving in my two cents.

Soon I'm tweeting all the freaking time without really keeping track--oh this is a funny link, oh I had a clever observation, oh let me quote this person and add my opinion, let me respond to 18 people, oh and here's my blog post---and I step back at the end of the day and wonder how it's possible that I sent out so many. Then I feel embarrassed and wish I could take it all back. And possibly quit Twitter forever.

That lasts about until the next time I have a thought about a celebrity or need to promote a blog post and I'm back on the train.

I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one who does this, but I'm willing to be the only one who admits it, if necessary, just to get it out on paper--or a screen, rather--in the hopes that maybe it will stick.

It's not like I consciously think, "I AM IMPORTANT. I AM FUNNY. YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO ME." But the underlying sentiment, if I really peel it back, is that everyone needs to hear what I have to say, and they have to hear it RIGHT NOW. It cannot wait a day or an hour or five minutes.

I think it can even bleed into my personal life when I'm in groups of people, especially ones I don't know very well. [Sidebar: these are small groups. I avoid large ones. Duh.] I want you to like me and think I'm funny and insightful and all that, so I just spew attempted witticisms about things. I love it when people laugh. I regret everything I've ever said about anything and want to run and hide when they don't.

So I'm thinking I need to keep my mouth shut more. I think I need to listen to someone else's opinions and ask more questions when I'm with people. I think I need to read more than I type. I think I need to take a beat after the initial "I should tweet that" lightbulb and see if it's still worth tweeting 5 minutes later. A lot of times, it's probably not as funny or insightful or, at the least, urgent as I think it is. Maybe people don't NEED to watch that video right this second. Maybe people don't need my all-caps rants. Maybe (just maybe) people don't care about the Bachelorette as much as I do.

Overall I'm thinking I might just need to reign it in.

You might not notice because I'll probably still tweet several times a day, but perhaps if I try really hard, I can take just one of those out of your feed and let you talk instead.

Do you ever have this problem of talking too much online? Or in person?

Tales from a 3rd Grade Journal, Vol. 4

3rd grade bday silly

Other kids in this photo will remain nameless for their own protection. I, however, have to claim it because apparently I was feeling like an attention hog that day.

With all that's been happening in the news lately (though I suppose I could say that every day), I thought I would take us back to a simpler time today. A time when concerns were as great as being in the right fort at recess or having a mechanical pencil.

Yes, it's time for another rousing rendition of: Tales from a 3rd Grade Journal!

If you're new around here or only read sporadically (no judgement), I have kept journals from the time I was about 6 years old until the present day. Middle and high school got the bulk of the pages, but there are some significant experiences documented in the early years as well. Here I decided to share this valuable insight for you so that you, too, may understand third graders. Or at least white girls who grew up in small-town Alabama and went to an even smaller school.

I write them exactly as they appear, [except for redacting and changing names to protect the innocent] so all spelling errors and/or hateful statements are of my 3rd grade self and therefore cannot be held against me in a court of law. Or Facebook comment threads.

You can read the other volumes here.




Guess what? [Hermoine] said another bad thing today at school. [Fleur]'s tooth was bleeding and then was hurting and Mrs. R said "Just don't think about it." and [Hermoine] said "[Fleur], what did Mrs. R just say!?" (In a mean tone of voice too.) I think she's a meanie head. Oh, and Mrs. R doesn't do anything about hurts or pains. And one day my knee was hurting and Mrs. R. didn't do anything but say "I'm sorry." and today my side was hurting and she did the same thing.

Well, here comes another day, Bye.

Love, Laura

P.S. Today was Fri.

EDITOR'S NOTES: I have a new respect for teachers who do not moonlight as doctors. Also I included this entry solely for the depressing sign-off. Must've really been an off Friday.

Bedtime Mar. 12, 1997

Dear Diary,

Maybe I've told you but we are doing a talent show on the 28th I think, and Noelle W, Christie J and I are going to sing "Born to Be Wild." I hope it will be fun & a blast!! [insert smiley face under the exclamation points]

I blew it for our row in Vocabulary. I missed 2. We were going to each get a peice of candy but you know what.

Gotta Go! Bye!! [insert smiley face under the exclamation points] Laura P.S: Wish me luck in the talent show! (we're singing)

EDITOR'S NOTES: Come on, Laura. GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME. There was CANDY on the line. Additionally I really need to get the hang of finishing my.

[This entry is written entirely in puffy pink marker] Mar. 26, 1997

Dear Diary, I saw the Hail Bopp comet! We went into the Lynn's yard & saw it!! [do not insert smiley face under exclamation points] At about 8:49 p.m. it won't come back for another 4[pink splotch],000 years! The last time it came when the Egipsions were building their pyrimeds. [crude drawing of a pyramid aka a puffy pink triangle] Laura

EDITOR'S NOTES: I appreciate the accuracy of the time. I think you can lose the "about." Also, valiant effort at spelling Egyptians. If English made any sense whatsoever, that would be correct.

5/21/97 Dear Journal,

Today a new Wall-Mart opened. I got a black Kelly named Deidre. She's a picnic barbie [strikethrough] Kelly. I also got a new CD. Spice Girls single of wannabe & bumper to bumper. Also we saved a kitty from a tree. It was white. We even called the fire department. Their names were Kelly [redacted] & Tim [redacted]. Now [redacted from previous entry]'s been my friend for a long time now. Today we [scribbles] My friends Andrea, Noelle & Christie got in a fight. Noelle's in Katie's fort now. And we settled whether or not to do a thing at the end of the year party at my house. I'll write again & tell what it as like. We're going to Detroit on Fri.

Gotta Go, Bye, Laura

EDITOR'S NOTES: Look at my adorable small town life. We LITERALLY rescued a cat from a tree and were excited about a Wal-mart. I mean honestly. Plus, Spice Girls. Wasn't life the greatest? Y'know, except that whole vocabulary faux pas. That was embarrassing. Get your act together, 3rd grade me. This wasn't 2013 when everyone gets a trophy. You have to EARN your candy.

What's your most embarrassing and/or hilarious memory from elementary school? Did you see the Hail Bopp comet or have the Spice Girls CD single?

Puffy Paint, Exposed Bras and Beyonce: The Mrs. Carter Tour Recap


First things first, on this Tuesday morning: I SAW BEYONCE IN REAL LIFE ON SATURDAY NIGHT. I mean sure, I had to pay a hefty sum to do it and stay in my seat like 75 yards away from her but she was THERE. And it was every bit as incredible as I'd hoped.

For those of you who care very little about this experience (I don't understand you, but I accept you just the way you are), here is the quick roundup based on my predictions for the show:

BEYONCE BY THE NUMBERS: Number of outfit changes: approx. 9. (I know there were at least 8 but I think even more than that. I started to keep count but was too busy dancing to keep up.) Number of hats worn as part of her outfits: 2 (I was surprised by this. Who wears hats? Well, Beyonce does. And she was pulling. it. off.) Number of minutes we sang "to the left, to the left" before the song actually started: I predicted 3, and I'd say this was about accurate. One of the guys who got to sing this in the microphone actually screamed it in like a manic fit and I was afraid he was just going to spontaneously combust out of sheer excitement. Other lucky attendees included two angelicly-voiced children and one painfully tone-deaf girl. Number of "how y'all doin', Nashville?"s: She technically broke this up and said "Nashville," [screams] "How y'all doin?" But I think that still counts as 1 out of 2. Number of wind machines: I think 2 was accurate but it could have easily been more. UPDATE: My husband reminded me that there were at least two on the 2nd stage as well, so this brings the total up to AT LEAST four.

As you can see below, my friend Taylor and I did not skimp on the puffy paint. We were the only ones in a sea of 20,000 people wearing puffy paint shirts (Period. Not even small children were wearing these. Can you believe that? Kids today.). We were simultaneously proud and embarrassed, so I think the puffy paint did its job. Note that Taylor is 800% more artsy than me.

mrs carter tour puffy paint shirts

If you can't tell, mine says "Beyonce 4 President," and hers says "Who Run The World? BEY."

As we walked in to the venue and made our way to our seats we were impressed with the diversity of the crowd. Small children, adults, black people, white people, gay people, straight people, moms, teenagers. Basically all your kinds of people. I mean, everyone loves Beyonce, you guys.

We were also impressed how low the bar some women apparently set for the amount of clothing that counts as acceptable concert-wear was. Many women were just wearing fuchsia bras with like half of a denim jacket over top, but only buttoned once underneath the chest so as to give the necessary amount of boost. We learned that showing midriff is apparently back in, jumpers --while not convenient for bathroom-going purposes--are now all the rage, and that I apparently have a low pain tolerance because most women we saw were wearing like 6-inch heels. To a concert. Which requires standing. For hours.

The opener was named Luke James, who I chose to describe as a cross between Usher and Mr. T., due to his abs, gold jewelry, Mr. T haircut and shirt that he had ripped into a vest mid-song. I can't remember a single one of his songs, mostly because they all ran together and I had trouble picking out a chorus at all, but people seemed to like it when he warbled long notes at us (especially the high pitched ones), accompanied by nothing but some tracks and a drummer.

That was over pretty quickly and we proceeded to wait nearly an hour for Queen B to come out. But she's Beyonce and I was getting the privilege of paying an exorbitant amount of money to be in her remote vicinity so she can do what she wants. Plus maybe Blue Ivy needed a juice box or something. I don't know.

Beyonce Mrs Carter Tour Set

During this time it came to my attention that I am woefully out of touch with hip hop and R&B these days. Seriously the whole arena at one point erupted in cheers followed by dance moves I could never do on the first note of some song that I later found out is called like Birthday Song, sung (term used loosely) by someone I've never heard of. It was clear something was happening there that we were not a part of.

Finally she emerged and proceeded to blow our minds with her insane talent for two hours. There were huge LED screens, interlude videos that made no sense but Beyonce still looked pretty in, flying between stages via harness, dancers whose legs moved about as if independent from their bodies, basically all you could want and more.

I won't do a play-by-play because I have already written about 800 words and I'm still talking, but suffice it to say it was probably the most fun concert I've ever been to. She dances like no one I've ever seen and of course she sings amazingly. And she's someone who has so many hits that almost every song is just a dance party to a song you love.

mrs carter tour

My favorite part was probably after she flew to the other stage (closer to us) and sang "Irreplaceable", "Love on Top" and "Survivor." I mean come on. Dream team of songs. Plus we got to hold our fists in the air and pretend like we were survivors like Beyonce which I totally did because I will do whatever Beyonce asks me to do without question (hold my first in the air, put my hands up, snap, repeat after her…you name it).

Other highlights for me: "Get Me Bodied," "Crazy In Love" (though I was disappointed at the lack of Jay Z in this performance--you are married, Beyonce. This means you get to tell your husband to put his married pants on and do things he doesn't want to do and this should have been one of them.), "Run the World."

Did I leave anything out? If you were there, what was your favorite part? If not, what is your favorite concert you've ever been to? (And did you make puffy paint shirts?)

Operation: Beyonce BFF, Phase 1 [Or, "I'm going to her concert."]

Beyonce News Logo

Click the logo above for more Beyonce News posts. (Yes, there are more.)

Friends, Romans, readers of my blog:

Saturday I am going to see THE Sasha Fierce herself LIVE IN CONCERT at the Bridgestone Arena.

I know, I know.

It's really an honor just to be in the same building as her.

It's kind of snuck up on me a bit--which is the reason you have not heard about it incessantly in my Twitter feed--but I am super excited all the same to pretend I know parts of the Single Ladies dance and do the hand gesture with all the moms in the audience when she sings it.

Sure, the tickets were expensive and we're kind of poor, but SHUT UP DAVE RAMSEY IT'S BEYONCE OKAY?

The only downside to the whole thing was that Beyonce was our "if she comes to Nashville, we're going, no matter how broke we are" artist, so once we successfully got tickets we moved on to Justin Timberlake.

Well, guess who decides to stroll into Nashville in the SAME three month period? None other than ol' JT himself. Totally rude of him.

Since we just bought a house, we let Ramsey win one this time and had to pass. So this concert had BETTER be good. I'm missing "Cry Me A River" for this.

I'm not worried though, obviously.

I'm secretly hoping that Jay Z will shirk all of his new album responsibilities and come out and sing Crazy in Love with her and little Blue Ivy will like do the Dougie in the foreground because they just love Nashville so much but you know, whatever, it's just an idea, I haven't really thought about it that much.

Unfortunately Beyonce has now taken like an Unbreakable Vow with Pepsi or something so we may be forced to support my soft drink nemesis.

SIDEBAR RANT: No, Diet Pepsi is NOT okay, waitress. Don't even try to act like it's the same thing. When we were in Orlando last month, I ordered a Diet Coke, the waitress nodded and left, and then another waitress walked up and said "Diet Pepsi?" and I had to look around like UH who ordered that crap and then have the sinking realization was for me and then sheepishly raise my hand, drenched in shame and anger. I couldn't send it back at THIS point. What would that have sounded like? "Uh actually I ordered Diet Coke, and your co-waitress--who must, by the way, take a sick pleasure in viewing others' misfortunes--knew darn well you didn't have Coke but must have figured, 'meh, it's basically the same thing." Well, let me tell you, she is NOT qualified to make that judgement call okay? So please take this sludge away from me." …yeah, that probably would've been too intense. I ended up also ordering a water.

One of my best friends and I will be there rocking homemade puffy paint shirts (DUH) as my husband graciously refrains from trying to distance himself from us (hopefully).

Here are my predictions:

Costume changes: at least 6 Wind machines in the floor of the stage: at least 2 "How y'all doin' Nashville?"s: 3 Pepsi logos: 8 infinity-trillion Minutes we have to sing "to the left, to the left" before the song starts: 3 Girls born since 1998: A LOT

If anyone is interested in reading a recap of the show, let me know in the comments. We all know I am a seasoned concert correspondent now that I went into the bunker for you on the Biebs concert. I'm willing to be that again. Y'know. If you want.

What song would you want her to play the MOST? I think "Love on Top" will be a winner, I love "End of Time" and "Get Me Bodied," and I'm hoping for a Destiny's Child medley. Fingers crossed.

Additionally, is there anything you want me to report back on that I didn't cover in my predictions above?

A Quarter-Century of (Almost) Profound Wisdom


I believe this is my 8th or 9th birthday, and we went to see Hercules in theaters. My mom drew popcorn and a soda on my cake in keeping with the theme, and I have a lady bug embroidered on my shirt. Just livin' the dream.

Today is my 25th birthday.

If you're astute (and have heard of such a thing), you will also note it is my "golden birthday," which means I am turning 25 on the 25th. I don't know what significance this has other than the fact that I get to make a bigger deal out of it. I love birthdays so this is good news to me.

Turning 25 seems like kind of a milestone, so I thought it warranted writing about, and it also allows me to shamelessly announce that it is my birthday.

One of the strangest things about being 25 is that I was in high school TEN YEARS AGO. TEN. Honestly? When did that happen? When I visualize my life on a timeline (does anyone else do this in their head?), I pretty much always view high school as my most recent era of life. BUT IT WASN'T. I've done four years of college AND THEN SOME. This is odd to me.

I think time goes by faster the older you get. Not that I'm "old," per se, (though please see the aforementioned high school distance), but high school felt like it went slowly. Each year was its own story and I remember minuscule things that happened on random days in a classroom.

Now I turn around and it's been another year and I'm trying to remember what I even did last weekend.

The last couple of years have not been easy, but I feel good about where I am now. I feel like I have a good sense of who I am and what I am good at. I have friends who care about me and the best husband I could ask for. I have internet friends (THEY EXIST, OK?) who like to spend valuable time pontificating about the same nonsense on TV that I do. Sometimes people actually read and like things that I write. We just bought a new house that I am so excited about. Yes, life can be considered "good," I think.

In light of this milestone, perhaps I will share with you some things I have learned in my 25 years of life (including a whopping 2.5 years of marriage) so far. Some of these did not originate from my own brain, but were taught to me by someone wiser (if it's remotely profound, that is likely the case).

  1. Mayonnaise is better than Miracle Whip. It just is.
  2. Plane tickets will always be more expensive than I want or expect them to be. Same is true for hotel rooms.
  3. Therapy is not just for crazy people. Everyone should do it. I truly believe that.
  4. Cereal is satisfying at any time of the day or night.
  5. Working out is much easier with podcasts. Also, NEVER forget your headphones when you go the gym. Never. It is terrible.
  6. Never turn down a free cookie.
  7. I have a theory that all anyone ever wants out of life, when it comes down to it, is to feel loved and known, and the reason anyone does crazy or destructive or wonderful things hinges on that one fact. Of course, I could be wrong.
  8. Marriage is hard, but totally worth it.
  9. Cupcakes cover a multitude of bad days. (Related: I may use food as a coping mechanism.)
  10. Sometimes experiences that are supposed to be great are actually the worst. It's ok.
  11. Feeling pain and sorrow is better than feeling nothing at all. You cannot fully experience joy without also embracing pain. People will walk with you through it.
  12. Turns out I actually like cream cheese.
  13. Feelings are not unimportant or illegitimate. Speak them honestly. Most times, feeling "felt" is more important and satisfying than getting your way.
  14. Not all coffee is created equal, but vanilla almond milk helps. (P.S. I've recently become the person who asks coffee shops if they have almond milk. I'm not proud of it.)
  15. Cats are not all bad.
  16. Don't eat Twix and Mountain Dew every morning during "break." Your body will not thank you. (Looking at you, high school me.)
  17. Keep journals. They are entertaining and insightful later.
  18. Sometimes ignorance is bliss when it comes to pregnancy and birth. I fear I know too much.
  19. Being clear about expectations will save you from a multitude of tension-filled arguments. (This statement is not a guarantee that I have mastered this principle).
  20. Always carry fingernail clippers, Advil and chapstick.

What have you learned in your [insert age here] years of living?

New Houses, Bunny Pictures and Bachelorette Podcasts

Hello, friends. That sounded creepy. Let me start again.

Sup, guys.

I'm just gonna move on.

So this week I have been working my little tail off after work each night to pack up all of our stuff and gradually move it over to our new house, as well as paint and get our new house ready to receive said stuff. It's all very exciting but very exhausting. My husband has been out of town on a gig this week, so I've spent a lot of quality time talking to my cat in between taking loads over. Like I said, it's all very exciting.

All this to say, I realized this morning that I had been so busy slathering paint on the walls of our guest room and packing up our pantry (a.k.a. throwing away graham crackers from 2008) that I totally whiffed on writing a post for you today.

I KNOW. The worst. Pretend I said something witty about Kimye or heartfelt about James Gandolfini, because those are really the only things that happened this week.

So in order to help you waste the same amount of time (or more) you normally would reading this blog of mine, please enjoy the following:

1) I got to fill in for Jamie on the Xtra Bacon Bachelorette Podcast Recap this week. It was a lot of fun. We lament the lack of Juan Pablo, discuss Brad's awfulness and the 40 minute Red Cross plug featuring Hootie. Click here to listen!

2) This interview Russell Brand did with MSNBC which only served to make him look fantastic and charming and make them look like buffoons.

3) This picture of a bunny wearing bunny slippers.

Have a wonderful weekend and I will be back with something real for you to read on Tuesday. Promise.

QUESTION: What do you think is the worst part about moving? Alternatively, tell me a story about the last (or worst) time you moved.

The Rise of the Introvert

If you don't know me in real life, allow me to make a confession to you: I am an introvert. I KNOW. A writer who is an introvert. Shocking. I'd say at this point in my life I'm only about 65-70 percent introverted (high fives for progress in people skills), but that's enough to count me on your side, fellow I's. I like people. I'm social. I just like hanging out in small groups and I'm still terrible at small talk. I'm the person that says "you too" to something like "thanks for coming to my show" and then gives an awkward side hug and bails (true story). But I digress.

The point of telling you all that is to share with you a discovery. It's been happening all around me (and you), and I for one could not be happier.

Introverts are taking over the Internet.

Okay, maybe not taking over. That would require too much confrontation.

But they are rising up on a glorious wave of Wordpress blogs and Twitter feeds all around the world (or at least the corner I tweet in).

You see, the Internet allows us to pretend that we're not shy. It tricks us into thinking we're good at interacting with people we don't know. (Want a reality check? Go to a blogger/writer conference and try to mingle with one another. We're adorable, aren't we?)

What it actually does is allow us to get out our thoughts coherently and then not have to wait for a book publisher to say "yes" before anyone can read it. It gives us an opportunity to have a platform without having to literally stand on a platform and speak at people.

Look at me, right now, speaking to people I don't know from behind a computer screen. Is there honestly anything more fantastic for someone who arrived at college realizing she didn't know how to make friends and instead just watched a lot of One Tree Hill in her dorm room? No. No, there is not.

Another interesting thing I've noticed is the rise of Introvert Pride.

Exhibit A: I saw this floating around on the internet a couple of months ago. I don't think this would have been perpetuated if it weren't for the internet. We would have just read it and stuck it on our bulletin board above our desk and no one else would have ever seen it ever because that's just not how we roll. But the Internet allows us to post this for all to see and say, "THIS, WORLD. HEAR ME ROAR (please)."


Exhibit B: I've seen a few different articles on how to relate to introverts, but this one got some significant traffic because it's Donald Miller, duh.

Exhibit C: Loved this article called "The Introverted Evangelist" on how introverts can still be useful without being like HEY GUYS LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS GUY JESUS KAY?

One of the greatest things about the Internet is that it brings like-minded people together who wouldn't have met otherwise, namely: introverts who don't know how to meet people. And those introverts write articles for other introverts, and all the introverts rejoice.

Is anyone else thinking the word "introvert" sounds weird now?

How do you lean? Introvert, extrovert or a little of both?

A Lament About That One Time I Failed My Driver's Test


Guys, I know we don't really talk pain around here very often. I'd much rather ramble on about space tortillas and Ke$ha's hidden talents than spill my guts to you, because let's face it, that's more fun for everyone.

But today I'm going to go out on a limb and share a painful memory from my adolescence. I have silently lived in the shadow of its shame for far too long--even managed to conceal it from most people I know.

I will share it in the hopes that one day--maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow--but one day, it might bring some teenager hope that they are not the only one.

Because let me tell you, in my situation, I WAS THE ONLY ONE. I'm pretty sure.

This is the story of the time I failed my driver's test.

It was the day of my 16th birthday--June 25th, 2004.* My mom, ever the prepared one, had of course done her research and found that you MUST get to the DMV BEFORE they open to beat the crowd.

So, my mom and I drove to Opelika at like 8am (in the summertime, I might add) to stand outside the DMV. Of course, we were not the only ones who had come upon this same research, and we still ended up having to wait behind a few people.

The next hour or two is kind of a shameful blur in my memory, but I'll try to relate it the best I can.

I remember being extra anxious and a surly black woman being my examiner...tester...supervisor...what do they call those people?? She may not have been surly. Or black, for that matter. I was really nervous. Again, it's all a blur.

A kid in my class had come back from his driver's test earlier in the school year (passed, of course) and said that he'd almost failed the test for waiting too long to pull out onto the road. In retrospect this makes little sense (wouldn't you rather be safe than sorry?), but driver's tests are tricky business and you have to do everything JUST SO. And maybe his surly proctor had somewhere to be and took it out on him. I don't know.

Of course the moment I get behind the wheel and edge out to the end of the driveway to turn right onto the road, I see a car coming from my left and this instance immediately pops into my mind.

If you want to know anything about me, you should know that I second-guess everything and I am super indecisive. I don't do well under pressure, especially if it is a 50/50 type situation. I tend to just get flustered and convince myself it makes sense to do this one thing when in reality most normal, thinking human beings would have done the opposite. This was one of those situations.

The car was approaching at a reasonable pace but was still far enough away that I could make the turn without endangering my life, I figured. I remembered my poor classmate and how he had nearly failed his test for waiting too long.

I can't FAIL my driver's test, I thought. It's social suicide.

The car was still chugging along and I had mere seconds to make the call. It's now or never. I wait too long or I go now.

I cracked under the pressure and went for it.

Now you may be picturing some kind of Fast-and-Furious-27 style peel out, but I was driving a Montero Sport armed with nothing but a learner's permit and a growing anxiety attack. So you can do the math, there.

I creeped along, well under the speed limit of course, but not TOO slow, hands at ten and two, sitting up straight (posture totally counts), and the woman asked me to take a right at the next intersection. I switched on the turn signal at just the right time and rounded the corner, breathing a sigh of relief. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad.

The woman asked me to take another right at the next intersection. Sure, I could handle that. Again, nailed it.

The woman then asked me to pull into the parking lot we had just left. Thinking perhaps she just wanted to see my superb parking skills or that I had done everything so well that she needn't test me any longer, I pulled in.

After parking the car (beautifully, I'm sure), the woman proceeded to tell me that I had pulled out into the street too close to the approaching car (i.e. cut them off), which is considered a "dangerous action" and an immediate fail of the test.

She needn't test me any longer because I did something unforgivable, not because of how awesome I was. She might as well have put me in Azkaban.

As a 24-year-old who has been driving for an entire EIGHT years now, I probably wouldn't think twice about pulling out when I did. No one was going to die that day. Again, this is not Fast and the Furious 86.

But on a driver's test, it was apparently too risky, and I had to do the walk of shame back to my mom's car and wallow in the passenger side while she drove me home because I was too depressed to drive back home with my measley learner's permit.

Let it be known that I am fully aware of the irony of failing a driver's test because of my direct attempt to avoid the one thing I thought would make me fail my driver's test.

The worst part is they make you wait two weeks before you can re-take the test---which I did and passed with flying colors, by the way.

So you just have to explain to everyone when they run up to you going "SOO???" (or even if they just know you are now 16 years of age) that you did in fact fail your driver's test--something, at least in my mind, about .0001% of 16-year-olds do. The ultimate in humiliation. Those people then proceed to go "AWWWWWW I'm SO sorry" like you've lost a loved one or maybe just any semblance of pride, which makes it 8000% worse.

To pour salt in my already festering wound of failure at this adolescent rite of passage, that evening I went with my family to pick up my brother from summer camp, and went over to say hi to my counselor I'd had a few weeks prior. I must have mentioned it was my birthday and of course then had to explain that I'd failed my test that morning.

He promptly made fun of me and I died inside a little more. (Weren't college guys supposed to be MATURE?)

You guys, don't make fun of people who fail their driver's test. But don't make it the end of the world, either.

Just say something like "Aw, bummer. Let's go to Sonic and get milkshakes." Because who doesn't like milkshakes? Especially when they have recently suffered a catastrophic blow to their self-worth.

Have you ever failed a driver's test? If not, what was your experience like? (Oh and congratulations or whatever.)

*If anyone's keeping track at home, yes, that means my golden birthday is this year. I like chocolate and coffee and Tim Riggins.