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?

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.]

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?

In Memoriam: The Ringtone

3595I remember my first polyphonic ringtone. I got my new Nokia cell phone with the interchangeable hard case and its color screen for Christmas and could not wait to break it open, go online and chose a ringtone. Polyphonic ringtones were all the rage at the time. No longer did you have to suffer through the intolerable midi note-by-note rendition of your favorite pop song, but you could now have a bassline and a melody. Right and left hands simultaneously. Sure, it was still midi and sounded like a bad karaoke track, but it was POLYPHONIC.

No matter that we had never heard the word polyphonic before this and would never use it again after the fad faded, polyphonic was the holy grail of personalization.

Your ringtone was an extension of yourself. It announced to the world (loudly), 'here I am, and I listen to Fall Out Boy, and I think that is an acceptable representation of my taste in music and therefore personality.' Then people could judge you accordingly. Especially if your phone rang during something like graduation or church or English class (my English teacher took it upon himself to answer your phone for you if it rang. It was horrifying.).

I did not take this decision lightly.

I remember it well. We were at my grandparents' house in Calgary, Alberta (Canada, for those of you who are not Mandie Marie or one of my relatives). My parents had brought some of our presents up for us to open and the phone was one of them. I went over to my grandparents' PC and carefully selected my brand of individualism: "The Remedy" by Jason Mraz.

I'm not proud of that choice, but I'm not exactly ashamed. It definitely could have been worse.

Ringtones eventually progressed into ACTUAL CLIPS OF SONGS, which didn't really work that well because you couldn't tell if it was just music playing over the speakers of the restaurant you were at, or if your phone was ringing. We eventually tuned in to the frequencies of what it sounded like for crappy samsung speakers to be playing a 30 second clip of a pop song, so much so that we often thought we heard a phone ringing when in fact, it was just the music, or some high pitched white noise, or phantom ringing like that thing when your arm gets cut off but you can still feel it itch. I assume.

You would think the rise of smart phones would take that to the next level -- upgrading to FULL songs or like, holograms of your favorite musicians popping out of your purse and singing to you that you have an incoming call. But in light of all the other cool things smart phones can do, ringtones fell by the wayside. Who cares about updating your ringtone every six months so that yours is not painfully outdated when you can do things like the INTERNET?

I made the switch to a plain ringer before I had a smart phone, but that was because I was tired of having to pick out a ringtone. It was such a meaningful decision and I didn't care enough to put that much effort into it. (Making decisions is hard for me.)

I think another reason ringtones fell away is because people became less interested in making their phone scream their personality. I like to have a case on mine to somewhat reflect my style and differentiate it from others' phones, but with the iPhone, most people just accepted that all our phones would look the same and no one really cared because again, INTERNET. And NO BUTTONS.

Think about the last time you heard a cell phone ring. Was it anything other than that old-timey phone ring (android has this as well) or the calypso drums that come on the iPhone? Probably not. I hear the same ring as my phone on a daily basis.

So I'd like to take a moment to remember the ringtone and all it meant to my adolescence. Thank you, ringtone, for allowing me to declare to everyone who I thought I was without actually having to tell them. Thank you for allowing me to judge others within just 2-3 seconds of hearing their phone ring. Thank you for all the embarrassing and hilarious moments of cell phones blaring "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" in churches, weddings, and English classes around the country (but mostly the South).

You had a good run, and we will all miss you. Talk to us again when you figure out that whole hologram thing. Dibs on Beyonce.

What was your most memorable ringtone?

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.

Tales from a 3rd Grade Journal: Vol. 3

3rd grade first day

Workin' it on the first day of school

It's time for another exciting episode of Tales from a 3rd Grade Journal (Journal…Journal…)! The only blog series that provides you with profound insight into the mind of an eight year old in small town Alabama in the 90's. [read the past two volumes here: Vol. 1  Vol. 2]

This week's featured entries include some thrilling life milestones like puppies and hugging football players along with a rare glimpse into the heart of a bitter feud between friends. Let's dive in.


Dear Journal,

Not this past Sunday, but the Sunday before that we got a new puppy. We named it Molly. I'm listening to a mini boom box. It's my mom's. I spent the night with Katie last Friday. Today I hugged [redacted]. ^Also Today the football team is (well did) leave-ing to go play Pickins. Take State! [redacted] is my favorite football player and is also going to graguate from highschool. I'm going to miss him! Don't tell anybody but I don't like alot of attention when I get hurt. --> [insert page turn here]

Also don't tell about [redacted] liking [redacted]. Since I've moved, I've had a few best friends, here they are: [lots of names that I should probably redact because I'm facebook friends with them and people might get offended if their names aren't on this prestigious and exclusive list].

Emma and I have a lot of fun together. We play B.B.'s (which are Barbes.) and do a lot of stuff together. Thanksgiving is also coming up and Nany & Papa are coming. I better go now. Bye!

Love, Laura

12/13/96 almost x-mas

Dear Journal,

Today I lost [redacted]. She said that she was not my friend anymore. I said "I don't care!"

I don't like anybody in my class. (of course I'm talking about boys). [redacted] is a pain. He bugs everybody. (He's a little bit fat.)

We have a class play coming up. It's called "a visit from Santa". (the night before X-mas.)

Gotta Go!


Love, Laura

P.S. Nerdettes alwasas stick together!

EDITOR'S NOTES: Okay in my defense, this kid was THE worst. But I still feel a little bad about writing that. It was a journal, okay? Don't judge me. It was a different time. Also it should be noted that all the words in bold here are highlighted in pink highlighter. I think it's safe to say someone gave me my own highlighter for the first time that day. I think calling my friends and myself "nerdettes" was my first attempt at self-deprecating humor. Maybe.


Dear Journal,

I have no worthly idea why, but [redacted] is not my friend because I'm a goofball. Uh, isn't that stupid? It doesn't make any sence. She used to be one of my Best Freinds!! Well I say Good Reddence! Ya know, I don't think she really likes me. Oh well,

Bye! Love, Laura

EDITOR'S NOTES: Y'know, 8-year-old Laura, I think you might be on to something. And again with the highlighter.

Befriend goofballs, everyone. We have feelings, too.

Tales from a 3rd (and 5th) Grade Journal - Vol. 2


This is the picture that should have accompanied my last post. I am wearing a hat from Marannook camp and at the Olympics. Cheering for Canada. Please don't shun me. I love America.

It's time for another exciting installment of…Tales from a 3rd Grade Journal*!

When we last left our protagonist, she had to go suddenly after telling us a riveting anecdote about getting to use mechanical pencils. What happened next? Let's find out.

Feb., Wednesday 5, 1997

Dear Diary,

I'm sorry I had to go last time. But anyway, [redacted]'s at it again. She wanted to be in our rock club. She said two things--- 1. she said she had no friends and 2. she said she saw us playing and stuff so she asked if she could be in our fort. I asked her how she figured out and she said number two. Well, I've got Allison for a babysitter tonight. Nothing really interesting.

We also took Molly to the groomer. She was nothing like the (Broomer) Groomer in Rugrats.

Oh, here's the bad news. I HAD A BAD DAY. 1st I got my name with a check. Then, I had to bathe with shampoo and COLD water.

I guess that's all I wanted to say, Bye!!

Love, Laura

EDITOR'S NOTES: It should be noted that any time I write two exclamation points, there is also a smiley face created with the two dots as eyes.

Man, 3rd grade me was kind of a jerk. JUST LET HER BE IN THE FORT, 3RD GRADE LAURA. Gah. But good for you for saving time by writing what she said first, then referring back to number two. What an innovative way to write.

One more random entry for the road:

Date not listed (COME ON.)

Dear Diary,

I'm in 5th grade now & I'm much more mature than those other times I've wrote.

Me & Elizabeth and Annemarie & Christie are doing a play if we find one we want from Mrs. Powers. It's gonna be good.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Man, so confident. It's like that one summer gave me the relief my anguished 3rd & 4th grade soul needed and I emerged a new woman.

May your day be filled with the confidence of a new 5th grader.

*some names omitted to protect the innocent

Tales from a 3rd Grade Journal


This is me in approximately 3rd grade at my best friend's birthday party (obviously in December). AWW I know I know I'm cute. The complete and total awkwardness didn't set in for another couple years. Apparently I was appalled at the thought of trying on dress-up clothes without wearing a T-shirt underneath. #modesty4lyfe

I've kept journals my whole life. Looking back, it was probably a good indication that I would one day love to write.

I mean, these entries are literary masterpieces, after all. Someday someone will probably compile them into a memoir and it will sell millions of copies worldwide and those millions of lives will be touched by my experiences and everyone will go on and on about how it's a shame I wasn't appreciated in my time and I'll get all kinds of awards posthumously and the next generation will have to use their internet watch or whatever to google what "posthumous" means because the english language will probably be effectively destroyed by then.

You don't know. It could happen.

Anyway, the point is, I have journals. From about 2nd grade all the way through college, and the occasional entry now.

One of the advantages of this is that I have access to a glimpse into the mind of an average [insert age here]-year-old at the drop of a hat.

I realize this is a somewhat unique position to be in, and such potentially-enlightening insight shouldn't be hoarded or squandered, but shared, right? With great power comes great responsibility and all that.

So without further ado, I present to you, tales from a 3rd grade journal:

July 26, 1996

Dear Diry,

I'm 8 years old now and I'm going in to 3rd grade. I'm also having a g-r-reat summer! I went to spend-the-night camp at marannook. It was fun! I also went to Canada.


P.S. We also went to the Olipics.

July 27, 1996

This morning a bome went off at the Olimpic Park. 110 people got injeired and 2 people lost there lives. It

[editor's note: that "It" was actually written there. It what?? IT WHAT???]

Feb. 4, 1997

Dear Diary,

Today I used a macanical pencil. Because yesterday mommy bought some for me. (and I paid her back.) And know what? Yesterday, oh,

Sorry Gotta Go!!


Laura F.

Why did I have to go?? What happened at school?? How did the mechanical pencil usage affect my schoolwork??

Stay tuned for answers to these and other burning questions in the next installment of "Tales from a 3rd Grade Journal." (Trust me, it's a good one.)

A Lament About That One Time I Was An Athlete*

*term used loosely

Note: At Killer Tribes I learned it is not only important to connect with people through laughter (which I feel like I focus on a lot around here) but also to help your readers know you better. So in an attempt to do a little more of that, I am foraying into a bit of storytelling that doesn't involve making fun of celebrities but does involve making fun of myself. Please enjoy this recounting of awkward times in my life and share yours with me so I'm not out here alone.

softball picture

Once upon a time I was average-ly athletic in a small town private school environment. LOLOL I know. But I was.

By the rest of the world's standards, I'm sure I wouldn't have made the cut, but for some reason they let me play softball for four years. And basketball in junior high. It could be because there was no tryout process, but I can't be certain.

To this day I'm not entirely sure why I played softball other than the fact that everyone I knew played at least one sport and I somehow felt obligated to do the same--to graduate from rec league onto the school team-- and over time I also somehow became invaluable as a sometimes-first baseman more-times-benchwarmer to my coach. But more on that later.

Anyway, softball is hard, you guys. No pun intended (even though it was totally a solid one). I think enough time has passed since my bat-swingin' days that I can properly air my grievances without anyone coming after me. So here they are.

1. Running outside in 35 degree weather.

You've been at school all day doing impossible chores like LISTENING and MATH, it's freezing outside and your throat and lungs are burning from the sharp, cold air as you heave and wheeze your way back and forth between foul poles. Most people probably didn't wheeze, I guess. But it was hard for me, okay? I was probably full from my nutritious after-school snack of cookies and Mountain Dew, you guys, so give me a break.

It was kind of like someone had taken it upon themselves to smooth out the inside of my esophagus with sandpaper.

And I did this voluntarily. Daily. For months. And like, no one even had a gun to my head or anything.

I sacrificed hours of free time (and warmth) to be gloriously average on a (perpetually losing) private school softball team in small town Alabama.

The things I do so that people won't be disappointed in me.

2. Double-headers.

Baseball fans, I ask you, what is the point of double-headers? Seriously. Give me one good reason. I genuinely want to know.

If you lose, you don't want to suffer through that over again, and if you win, don't you want to quit while you're ahead? Baseball/softball games are long enough as they are. Especially when they are away games and you have things like more math to do.

3. The fact that the combination of freezing rain and losing miserably is not enough to call a game.

Nope, the powers-that-be make you keep on playing your little hearts out until finally, just when you're praying for death to come take you, they find some mercy and call the game. And then it's 10pm and you're still two hours away from home and have to study AP History in the car while eating Burger King and guzzling Gatorade.

Why did I do this again?

I literally asked myself that AT THE TIME and still continued doing it. I even chose playing softball over community theater when they conflicted, which is really just a terrible decision all around considering my life path so far. I mean honestly.

The answer, by the way, is because I was unable to stand up to the crushing guilt and inner people-pleaser I harbored in my soul.

Even when I came to my senses my junior year and decided it wasn't worth it anymore, I was talked back into it by a coach who is one of those guys you didn't so much worry about making mad as much as you worried about disappointing them. You know those people? I hate those people.

My first year was terrible for many reasons, among them being I was the only 8th grader, I didn't know anyone, and one of the high schoolers took a pregnancy test during practice one day which made me wildly uncomfortable.

That nightmare was all it took to convince me not to play in 9th grade, but in some cruel twist of fate, my friends actually played and I watched from the bleachers. I reeled with regret. So of course when 10th grade rolled around I relented and joined up again. But it wouldn't be my life unless most of those friends realized hey, softball isn't that fun, and quit on me.

And that's how you found me declaring "NEVER AGAIN!" my junior year but totally ending up doing it again. Apparently the team "needed me." Which was total crap. That team needed me like the Internet needs a new Harlem Shake video (AM I RIGHT? Topical zing!).

By the time I reached my senior year it was like why not, you know? I was the oldest now, I had a fellow senior by my side...all in all it wasn't so bad.

Except, oh yeah, I got benched pretty hard. The pitcher took my spot at first base and I spent half the games eating trail mix and enforcing the no-singing-dumb-softball-cheers rule in the dugout. But I did get a hoodie with my name on the back... that I couldn't wear to school because hooded sweatshirts were not allowed even though crew necks (which are totally lame) were allowed. I guess they promoted gang violence or something but I mean really one look at any one of us would've dispelled any fears. (Private school problems.)

Thus concluded the meteoric rise and fall of my athletic career.

My only real accomplishment was getting the "Wildcat Award" aka the Christian award aka "you're nice to people and a total goodie goodie." But I WILL TAKE IT.

I mean, sure, I guess learned about teamwork and dedication and not giving up and whatever, but was it really worth all the running? I'm not so sure. It takes a lot for something to be worth running in my book.

Did you play sports in high school? Do you feel like it was an accurate representation of your interests/passions or something you just kind of did? Did you win any awards?

Did a mean girl trip you up at first base so that you skinned your legs up during prom season like me? Let's chat about it.

The Ballad of Spencer Pratt (With Actual Rhymes)

I wrote a real ballad, you guys. Really. At least according to Wikipedia I did, because that's where I got the information on how to format a ballad. It rhymes and has iambic tetrameter and EVERYTHING.

So, without further ado, I present to you: The Ballad of Spencer Pratt.


Note: if you don't know who that is, you're in luck, because this ballad tells his story.


The Ballad of Spencer Pratt

By Laura K. McClellan

There once was a man named Spencer Pratt, And friendly he was not. With white-blonde mane and matching 'stache, 'Twas only fame he sought.

The tails of Lauren's coat he rode, Into the spotlight gold. He creeped and slithered through the cast, As drama did unfold.

He played the villain willingly, Crafting his plan well, 'Til soon his lady had no friends. (She must have thought she smelled.)

Rumors, lies and secrets flew As Spencer shrugged and laughed, "I don't know what you're speaking of, LC is full of chaff."*

Synonymous his name became with douchery utmost; The public shuddered at the name of Speidi, 'cause they're gross.

Even Spencer's sister knew Her brother was the worst. But though the others pleaded so, To Heidi, he came first.

"What's next for Spencer?" you may ask, "Where can he go from here?" I'll tell you, listener; lean in close. You won't believe your ears.

That Spencer, filled with wit and malice, Knew just what to do. Succumbing to ol' Heidi's nag, He finally said "I do."

At first in Mexico they wed, With no one there to see, The sketch factor was obvious, So they wed again publicly.

Drama, drama everywhere! The magazines proclaimed. Speidi is official now! It will go down in flames!

Now after this, the couple fled To star on NBC, "Get me out of here," it said "I'm a celebrity!"

Speidi lasted but four days on that deserted island, But not before our hero, Pratt Was baptized by a Baldwin.

And then that one time, Speidi wrote (I use that term quite loosely) A book on how to capture fame And feature in US Weekly.

Since then the duo's ebbed and flowed, Divorce was on the table. "A fame whore," Pratt professed himself; Heidi didn't like that label.

"But wait, just wait, it's all a joke!" Sir Spencer cried aloud. "The wife needed a boost in fame; divorce sure draws a crowd."

With that the public turned their backs On Spencer and his lady, And he went down in history As King of All Things Shady.

What can we learn from Spencer Pratt, His creeper-stache and all? Don't be a jerk to everyone; Or this could be you, y'all:



*It rhymed, okay? This is my first ballad.


Question: What do you think Spencer is doing in that picture?

Freedom from Expectations (Feat. Sarah Banks)

If you've been around my blog for any amount of time, you may know by now that I love hearing people's stories. It's one of my favorite things about being a part of the Quitter movement--being connected with people I never would have known otherwise, who have big dreams so different from mine and are pursuing them with their whole heart. And I love seeing how God has woven their experiences together to make them who they are today. For the last year, my husband has been producing an EP for a local singer/songwriter and worship leader named Sarah Banks (formerly known as Sarah McCary :) ).

I didn't know Sarah very well when they started working on the album, but over the last year I've gotten the opportunity to get to know her a little better and hear the story of her journey through the highs and lows of pursuing music as a career, and how God has walked her through it.

I think we all have to deal to some degree with the pressure of what other people may or may not be thinking about us, and that, to me, was what stood out in Sarah's story. I find something so unifying and inspiring about how she has come to break free of the chains of others' opinions and trust in the unconditional love of Christ.

Her story resonated with me, and I wanted to share it with you all.

Sarah was not only willing, but excited to let me share it. It's a story of freedom and identity, and I hope something about it stirs something in you, too.


Though she moved around a lot growing up, Sarah spent most of her formative years in various parts of Texas. (The more I live in Nashville, the more I discover that Texans are everywhere. And they let you know it.)

At the age of 16, Sarah dove into songwriting as a way to express herself during a difficult time, both with her family and starting at a new high school. Pouring herself into her songs gave Sarah a way to connect with God and declare what he was teaching her even through her circumstances.

"It was really from a place of loneliness that God drew me to Himself and began teaching me not only more about Himself, but also how to write songs about all that I was learning," said Sarah.

After a couple years of practice, Sarah's music got into the hands of some people in the music business in Nashville, by way of her father. And to Sarah's shock, they were interested in meeting with her. Music then became a viable option for a career, even though Sarah had for years planned on attending bible college and working in the mission field.

Torn between her desire to go to bible college and pursuing her passion for music in Nashville, Sarah had a decision to make: move to Nashville and abandon her original dream, or pursue her first dream and risk disappointing a lot of people.

"I loved writing music and playing so much, but it was definitely the pressure from other people that pushed me to finally decide to move to Nashville instead of going to college," said Sarah.

Upon arriving in Nashville, fresh out of high school, Sarah felt expectations increase all the more, by way of the music industry--particularly in the area of songwriting. Heightened pressure to write a "radio hit" began to take a toll on Sarah. Taking on countless cowrite sessions yet still coming away with nothing that qualified as a "hit" made Sarah start to feel that her songs never measured up.

"From the start, I had wanted my music to be about making much of God and sharing what He was teaching me. Suddenly, I was making it all about whether my songs were good enough to be on the radio," recalled Sarah.

After realizing her focus had shifted, and having grown weary of the pressures of the music business, Sarah decided to take a step back from music--maybe temporarily, maybe forever--a huge risk after being in Nashville only a year.

"I was afraid people would see me as just another person who tried to 'make it' in music and failed. I was afraid that I was letting down all the people who did support me," said Sarah. "But even with all of the fear that it brought, I also felt so much peace. I felt like God was asking me to let go of all of those fears and make sure that I was pleasing Him in all that I was doing. It truly was a huge relief to step back and stop being so worried about meeting other people’s expectations."

After a little over a year of not pursuing music and taking time to strengthen her faith, Sarah has decided to trust God in making music again--this time for Him, and no one else.

"This time, my goal is simply to glorify God in the music I write and in everything I do with my music. I want to be most concerned with walking in humility and faithfulness and allowing God to use me in whatever way He desires."

At the beginning of this year, Sarah made the decision to jump back into writing and playing live.

Part of this new season of life is the release of her upcoming EP this spring entitled "For Your Kingdom." The EP contains 5 songs that Sarah wrote, reflecting her journey and desire to do everything unto the Lord.

If you want to hear some of her music and support the final stages of producing her EP by preordering it, please visit her Kickstarter page! Trust me, it sounds amazing, and you'll want this EP.


I love Sarah's story because it's such a great picture of what the world can do to us if we find our worth or identity in what people think, and how God's faithfulness can bring us back. One thing in particular that stood out to me was that fear showed up not only in pursuing music, but also in stepping away from it. It takes courage to step back and risk people thinking you "failed" in order to take care of yourself and your relationship with the Lord. I really admire Sarah for listening to that within herself and taking the risk anyway.

It's never too late to take a step back, cling to the Lord and make a change--no matter what people think. Even if you feel like you've gone too far in the wrong direction.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with pressures from what others think? How did you handle it?