Monday, December 30, 2013

Goodbye, Everyone!

This is my 229th post on a blog just over 2 years old.

I actually never thought it would last three months. My personality type isn't supposed to be capable of being consistent or following through with much of anything. It's part of my stereotyped charm. And sometimes it's true that I bounce back and forth with a dozen ideas without accomplishing much in any of them. I'm not entirely sure how this one was the exception.

But it was, and it had a good run.

Why do I say this? Because I'm saying goodbye to Just the Fiction, Ma'am, at least for now. I realized recently that the blog is supposed to be about writing. The word "fiction" is even in the title of the blog. And yet all of my favorite posts aren't about writing at all.

For the sake of rejecting false advertising, I'm starting a new blog, The Monday Heretic, where I'm planning to write about faith topics. There's going to be a Great and Powerful Whiteboard of Theology and pop culture commentary on the saints of the past and way more Calvin and Hobbes cartoons than you really care to read. I'm excited.

I'll probably continue my practice of linking to old posts on this blog. Probably I'll get wistful for the green background and writing tip posts. I can almost guarantee that in a decade I'll read some of what I read hear and shake my head at my twenty-something foolishness.

I hope you come find me at my new home. It's been fun...but I can't wait to see what happens next.

Speaking of Calvin and Hobbes overload (which really shouldn't be possible), I thought it would be appropriate to end with the final Calvin and Hobbes strip. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Humans of New York and The Death of a Dream

If you ever want to learn more about people, I highly recommend Humans of New York, a project where a photographer takes a picture of various people on the streets of NYC and then asks them an interview question like, “If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”

The results are sometimes humorous, often profound, occasionally a bit off-color, and always fascinating.

A few days ago, I saw this picture.

This is the caption that went with it: “I had a whole vision. I wasn’t a pro, but I could film from different angles and stuff. I was going to have a whole YouTube channel with different kids doing rap battles. I worked really hard at it, but nobody except my friends ever looked at it. And all the adults in my life told me that I was wasting my time. So one day I got mad at life, and started deleting, deleting, deleting, until it was all gone.”

One commenter wrote, “This is one of the saddest things I’ve seen here.”

Other responded to this comment with disbelief and anger, and I could understand why. Sometimes people on Humans of New York talk about their five-year-old child’s death or about a family situation full of abuse or about the hardships of moving to the US from another country with no friends or family. All of these things are incredibly sad, and have a much deeper impact than a few deleted YouTube videos.

In my head, I know this. But my heart agreed with the original commenter.

You know why? Because in that man’s words, you can hear the death of a dream.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Angels Are Not Cute and Fluffy

I was in sixth grade, and it was one of those banner years where our children’s choir got to take up the whole Sunday service with a musical that we started practicing in September.

And after tryouts, I was not happy with the role I got, even though it was one of the leads. “I didn’t want to be the angel,” I remember muttering in the car after we got our parts handed out.

"I am super cute, and I know it." (I 100% did not look like this.)

In this particular production, the angel’s name was Chrissy, and she was a sighing, ditzy girl who giggled a lot and did absolutely nothing to contribute to solving the mystery of the play except make obvious statements and sing a solo of “What Child Is This?”

Part of my dislike of my part was the aforementioned lack of depth in the character. Part of it was because, growing rapidly toward a gawky twelve, I was becoming aware that girls with huge glasses and bowl cuts weren’t supposed to get the part of the pretty, popular angel. I was told I might even—gasp!—have to paint my nails for the performance.

“Angels weren’t girls, anyway,” I continued. “I would be the sissiest angel ever.”

"Hey, if you wanted to, you could maybe look over there at the star. Please."

By the time I got to high school, my glasses were gone, my hair longer, and my sense of exegetical certainty even more firmly ingrained. I was writing the dramas for our youth group and hadn’t lost that angels-aren’t-sissy chip on my shoulder. I insisted on making all angels in my Christmas skits male. Because they basically all were in the Bible. (The guys in the youth group didn’t all appreciate this, since angel costumes are not usually designed with males in mind.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

King John's Christmas

(This week, I decided to post one of the children's plays I wrote for Plays magazine but couldn't sell because the poem it quotes won't be in the public domain for eleven years. So enjoy!)

King John’s Christmas
by Amy Green
Adapted from the poem by A. A. Milne

Freddy—servant boy
Emma—servant girl
King John—a selfish ruler
Lord Hastings
Lady Hastings
Young John

Setting: King John’s office. There is a desk at center, with stacks of papers and several Christmas cards propped up on the edge.

At Rise: Minstrel, carrying a guitar or other stringed instrument, stands down right. Housekeeper and Freddy stand at far left. Emma is scrubbing the floor near center stage.

MINSTREL: Well, it’s Christmastime again. And that reminds me of a story from my days playing music in the royal court of old King John. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

FREDDY: Heard of him! He’s a regular slavedriver, that one.

HOUSEKEEPER: Only thing stiffer than him are his dress shirts—after he has me iron them a dozen times each.

FREDDY: Nothing but work, work, work, every day of the year. (He and HOUSEKEEPER exit left.)

EMMA: Even on Christmas.

MINSTREL: That’s right. Even on Christmas. He’s an interesting man, that King John.
(Strumming guitar)     King John was not a good man–
                                    He had his little ways.
                                    And sometimes no one spoke to him
                                    For days and days and days.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pixar Movie Advice for Finals Week

Yes, I know this is Saturday, and that means I'm supposed to post something really deep and thought-provoking. Go back in the archives to find one of those posts if you want to.

However, since I have lots of friends still in college who are studying for finals (or, you know, they should be, anyway), I present to you...

Seven Pixar Clips That Will Help You Ace Your Exams

I didn't actually use clips from Monster's University, because that would be too obvious.
Seriously. Animated movies hold a lot of wisdom. Also, I like these clips and wanted to give you an excuse to procrastinate for ten minutes. Enjoy.

One: Toy Story

Finals Week Takeaway: Nothing beats an highly organized plan of attack. Your chances of acing those finals are better if you treat studying like an all-out war.

Two: Monsters Inc.

Finals Week Takeaway: Discipline pays off. And montages make everything better. You probably should create one of your studying routine. (Vocab flashcard drills and coffee runs would make a super interesting training montage. Quality stuff.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The White Witch's Holiday Gift Guide

Today it snowed in Minneapolis. This, to anyone who knows approximately one fact about Minnesota, is not surprising and doesn’t deserve an announcement. But it was the first significant snow, a Christmas season snow, the kind that does more than soak your socks and coat the roads with slush.

It takes you to Narnia.

Or, at least, it did for me. But then, I’m in Narnia probably half of the time anyway. Even just on this blog, I’ve written about Edmund and Star Wars Mafia, Cair Paravel and heaven, Susan and death, and always winter, never Christmas.

Nearly every time I play hide-and-seek or push aside coats in a closet, I feel around for pine needles. I’m almost ashamed about how excited I got the day in C.S. Lewis class (yes, it’s a class) when we ate Turkish Delight. And one year, when I had to pick up two boxes from the post office and it was snowing, I brought an umbrella along and paused under a lamppost for a while, hoping that someone would come by, recognize the allusion, and be suitably impressed. No one did. It was quite disappointing.

But tonight I was curled up in my armchair, looking out at the snow, and I remembered Father Christmas.

It’s kind of a random little incident in the middle of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The Beavers and the Pevensies (sans Edmund) are on the run from the White Witch, when all of a sudden they hear jingle bells. But the sleigh doesn’t belong to the dreaded Ice Queen, but to Father Christmas himself!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What if You're Not Feeling #soblessed?

Ugh. Why are all of these people thankful for such happy things?

This uncharitable sentiment is brought to you by…well, me. It was my first instinct as I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed this month and saw an explosion of thanks-giving. My second instinct was to be deeply ashamed that I grumbled about heartwarming posts about “the LOVE of my LIFE,” the ones marked cheerily with “#soblessed.”

Pinterest has a lot of happy, thankful people (who make pretty memes).

And another part of me felt a little smug that I was not at the point of publicly gushing a list of wonderful things about my life to social media. Because sad is happy for deep people.

So I started writing a response to those Facebook posts:

There are some very happy things that I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for the smell of something cooking in my Crockpot when I come back to my apartment. I’m thankful for that feeling that settles over you when you sing old hymns and they still mean something. I’m thankful for crunch fall leaves, wonderful co-workers, good books, hearing little kids laugh, friends who care about me, people with British accents reading audiobooks, discovering I actually like oatmeal, and all the other blessings that it’s okay to put on Facebook.

But there are other things I’m thankful for.

I am thankful for weakness—from the ache of fragility during fasting to tiny risks of being honest with others.

I am thankful for uncertainty, especially the kind that comes with humility about something bigger than me.

I am thankful for fear of inadequacy, because it’s a nice change from pride.

I am thankful for silence, for the focus it provides and for the way it jerks the approval of others completely out of your possible motivations for doing something.

I am thankful even for silence from God, and I’m not quite sure why yet, except that if God always did what I demanded and responded when I wanted, he wouldn’t be much of a god.

I am thankful for goodbyes and the way they hurt, for mail that can’t turn into hugs, for conversations that won’t happen anymore, for long-distance friendships that aren’t the same, because they are broken things that point to a reality where brokenness won’t exist.