a good memory, barefoot update, etc.

day three. it was good. I was wearing my sweet barefoot for nica t-shirt, so I got less stares today and felt more official. my feet are becoming better warriors. the worst part of my walk is by the stadium where there are a million tiny rocks that try to murder your soles. But other than that, it was a lovely day to be without shoes. and the 5k razoo page is blowing up with sign ups - PTL!

I literally cannot focus on school. I'm trying, but the end is so close and it's getting hard to be dedicated. So tonight I was looking through the journal I brought on spring break and thinking back on one of our last nights. Kirsty had to go get something from the little boy's house, and it was dark, so I walked with her over there. We had to go into the little girl's house first to find someone, and then walked to the boys room. It was the best thing ever. They were all getting ready for bed, about to fall asleep. As soon as we walked in, they all got so excited and wished us good nights and gave us hugs and I just instantly fell in love with all of them in that moment, these precious kids who were about to sleep and rest and I was so happy for them, that they were there and safe and that I got to say sweet dreams to them.
So as I was laying in bed that night, I scribbled the following down before I, myself, went off to sleep. It was definitely a memory I can't imagine forgetting.

all your hands reaching out.
a chorus song of Buenos noches: the sweetest sound
I have ever heard. and I want to wrap each of you
up inside my arms a million times and keep you there.
and the moon outside, as you are falling asleep, is big.
I bet it is shining in on you, through the
windows across this little house of little chicas that faces the playground.
I bet it is hanging up above the swings and smiling for you.

You are tired and staring at the bunk above
or at the ceiling, eyes closing slowly. I wonder what you are thinking and I’m
glad you are sleeping. glad you are under a sheet and slumbering
where nothing bad can get you. and you have pink walls. I’m glad.
And you have so many nightmares that could come live in your mind tonight,
but I’m telling them to sleep now, too, and some place far away.
And I am praying that you’re dreaming.

Next door, all your brothers are in bed and I pause in their doorway.
Their little shining faces pop up above the top bunks, the backs of wardrobes and beds
making a corner and I can’t see, but hear little voices, little bedtime chattering.
Little knees are jumping on the bed and waving
to me across the room.
And I’m dizzy with joy.
And then around the turn he is running at me and now I’m breaking into pieces -
getting to wish him sweet dreams.
We’re swinging in a circle.
The best goodnight hug.

It is dark and heavy as we walk back and away from you sleeping,
away from shampoo smells and clothes laid out for tomorrow.
And I am watching, turning my back around, hesitant to leave
and pausing -
and instead I am there, above the swings:
shining and full and smiling for you.
Buenos noches again and again and again.

why are you being all smart?

Here is the experience: you are sitting in class. Your teacher starts talking. You are following along, understanding the material, expanding your knowledge, grasping the concepts. Then, out of the blue, your professor uses some obscure, fancy, academic word and you don't know what it means. Suddenly, you are sitting there dumb-founded, thinking about what in the whaaaaat is going on, forced to display a vacant look while you struggle, nodding your head (like YEAH) and feeling totally derailed from the discussion.

Has this happened to you?

I'mma tell you (one time)(...OK, no more tween pop references, I swear) - it has happened to me, my friends. On multiple occasions.

I'll be real honest with you right here. There are several words that are thrown around in the English-major world that I flat out just don't know what they mean. This is my own fault, because the first time I heard them, I just pretended like I knew. And then the second time, we had already used it so much that I didn't want to ask. And then the third time you hear a word you don't know, you just settle for never ever knowing it instead of embarrassing yourself and being THAT girl who is an idiot in public instead of just in her own head. (because even though "there is no such thing as a dumb question", there really is)
This process tends to happen a lot in one particular English class in which I have a lecturer who is too freaking smart for any body's good. Sitting through him lecturing literally makes me feel as though I am in a preschool class tyring to comprehend Einstein explain quantum physics instead of read me a nap-time story. It leaves me confused, angry, and want to hug my mom and/or eat some animal crackers.

Here are a few examples of words I literally didn't know until this past year. (after I looked them up on wikipedia) Please refrain from judging me.


colloquial - casual or sometimes local language common in everyday speech (the word sorta sounds more like some form of Japanese sushi though...)

dialectic - a form of reasoning, often centered around the tension of opposing things (in my head, this word sounds more like something that could be a part of the birthing process, so I was always afraid to know what it meant)

aestheticism - the standard of artistic beauty (not only is this word confusing, but it's impossible to say. Now my tongue feels stupid too)

novel: just kidding. of course I know what a belly-button is!

In closing, this blog post is a shout out to all teachers: stop being fancy and making me feel dumb. Don't you even try to act like you drive home only listening to NPR and then spend your evenings playing chess and memorizing encyclopedias. We all know that you are sitting on your couch with a package of double-stuffed oreos watching 16 & Pregnant just like the rest of us.

a barefoot week update: el segundo dia

amigos! gracias for all the encouragement and love during Barefoot Week thus far. It is so exciting that it is here and it is happening and SO much money is being raised and that is AWESOME. I can visualize myself sitting on a picnic table one of our last nights in Nica, listening to everyone brainstorm ideas for making something like this happen when we got home...and that all seems like yesterday. So wild.

So to keep you updated on things: being without foot ware is a funny experience. For one thing, it is kind of freeing, giving your toes a sense of liberation and "stepping" out of the constraints of shoes (get it?). On the other hand (or should I say foot....I'm full of it tonight), it hurts. My feet are sore and when you step on rocks, it's painful, and I got a splinter today. But you know what's great about that? It makes me remember why I'm doing this - makes me remember who I'm doing it for. It makes me miss, like deep-down-can't-wait-to-see-their-smiles-again miss some of the kids I briefly got to know during my week in Nica a month or so ago.

Again, I can't stop thinking about Manessa in Chureca and how much I hope to see her when I go back. I can't stop thinking about precious Kesling at Casa, with his dream to be a pilot one day and his adorable makes-your-stomach-hurt-it-is-so-genuine smile, and all the times we pounded fists and said "BOMBA" so loudly. I feel this sense of unshakable, growing joy when I think of these kids, and of all the ones I don't even know who will be blessed by new textbooks and journals and other things that this money is being raised to provide. But it isn't even just that. It is a joy knowing that they will feel loved because of this, and a joy knowing that I am being blessed with this opportunity, too, in ways that are slowly materializing and being revealed to me. Oh and one more joy - it is a incredible to me how possible it is to do things like this, like walk barefoot for something or someone you love because you know it matters. It is a joy to be in this with friends, to see them walking around and for us to smile at each other and share stories of sore feet and to know that we're making it happen because we can. It isn't hard to follow after something you believe in and to utilize your life to love others. You just have to do it. And that's what this is teaching me.

Another blessing from this is community, a sense of sharing all the joyful things I talked about above. There is community in us sharing funny stories, like when a rando dude asked my friend Meg if she needed a ride somewhere when he saw her walking around without shoes. Or how Kirsty got kicked out of the pav in Newcomb for being barefoot. We're here, in it together, and laughing about it and being happy about it and knowing that things are moving and changing and hope is being dispersed. And there is community on a broader scale, in the realm of all the people who are praying for us and supporting us financially and encouraging us. Even as I was typing this, some anonymous person just made a huge donation on my Razoo page. (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU whoever you are! I love you) That encourages me to no end. People are in this with us and excited about what's happening this week and what will happen as a result of it.

So that's what I'm learning slash have learned as of day two of Barefoot Week. More updates (and possibly pictures) will be up soon. and then I promise I'll attempt to stop blogging about Nicaragua because you are probably getting bored and hate me.

OH and if you will be around in C-ville this saturday, please come join us for our Barefoot 5K...it's going to be an incredible time. sign-up here: http://www.razoo.com/story/Barefoot-5-K-Nicaraguan-Orphan-Fund

funny things

As you may know, I enjoy a good laugh. Here are a few things that I've found humorous in the past couple of days:

1) This past week, my friend Katie Williams and I went to the SPCA to play with kittens. The best part was looking at the names of all the thousand cats they have there. My two favorites were: "Cleocatra" and "Julie Andrews", but there were others like "Peanut Butter Muffin Pie" (because just naming a cat "peanut butter" isn't cruel enough) or "Sprinkles" (he was a boy). I'll tell you, if you're ever feeling down, just pop on over to your local animal shelter and check out the names on all the cages - it is an undiscovered land of comedy gold.

2) I've been fantasizing about how wonderful it would be if it were somehow possible for me to learn Spanish in like less than three weeks while taking exams. That thought made me think of this SNL clip about a fourth-grade class re-writing a Mexican crime show. SO funny.

3) Not that long ago, my YL teammie asked me how many times I have fallen on grounds this semester (If you know me at all, you know I have a tendency to be klutzy). I remembered answering him proudly, saying "Oh, I haven't really fallen at all this semester!", thinking that this was some sort of victory. Today, however, I was quickly humbled back down by my lack of gracefulness. As I was walking down the steps outside Wilsdorf, I did that thing where you kind of mentally forget that there is a last step before you hit the ground and you freak out when you realize that your foot isn't hitting a solid surface when you think it should (please tell me I'm not the only one who knows what I'm talking about here). Although I didn't fall, I loudly exclaimed "whoa WHOA!!!" and flailed my arms in a dramatic fashion. I definitely heard some chuckles behind me as I walked away in a cloud of shame.

4) Ginny Stevens rockin' a Twinkie costume. Twice. In the span of less than three days.

5) Last night, my housemates and I started a discussion about cheeseburgers at 12:30am. We talked about them so much that we all started getting hungry for them, so the best thing we could think of to do was to make them. So we looked in the freezer and found some rando hamburger patties (nobody claimed them...it is a possibillity that they were there before we moved in). Then we went to the store (actually, three stores, becuase we couldn't find buns and cheese as easily at that time in the morning as we thought we could) and then came back and had a cook-out in the kitchen at 1am. It was hilariously random and wonderful, because cheeseburgers are my favorite food ever. And don't worry about the meat...it might be ancient, but none of us has died yet, so that's a positive.

here's to hoping you're finding something good to laugh about today!

blessings, Nica part dos, and EEEEEEEKK!!!

I've got so much joy right now, it's probably leaking out of my fingertips and the ends of my hair. Why so excited, you ask?

1) I FINALLY have a phone charger as of like an hour ago. I feel like I'm officially a part of the world again. (Although, it has been kind of lovely at times being totally detached this week)

2) I'm home! and as you know, I'm sort of head-over-heels in love with Warrenton. Chance and I just had a snuggle fest and my grandmother took me to El Agave tonight and I got to stretch out in my big bed and sleep in this morning. Life is good.

3) Being home means I get to play on my piano. (see the video below...I've been playing around with arrangements of Love Story all day and I'm sure my parents hate me)

4) Oh, and yeah....I'm going to Nicaragua this summer!!! hip hip hooray! As of this morning, I accepted a position with Manna Project's summer program, session one in Nica. I'll be there from May13th (literally a day after I finish exams) to June 10th, volunteering with Manna in communities in Nicaragua. If you had told me in January that I would be spending 5 weeks of 2010 in central america, I would have said "pshh, yeah right." But really - it's happening. There will be more thoughts of how incredible this is/how good God is/what I'm looking forward to/everything else concerning Nicaragua in soon-to-come blog posts, but right now, all I can think of to say is: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!

video

on cultivating your own inspiration

When I'm writing and feel stuck and/or uncreative, I like to make up little challenges for myself. (Alright, I just heard that thought in my head as I was typing it and thought, "whoa. I'm a loser.") But seriously. It's fun (for English people like me) to come up with writing prompts/games just for something new to do. So today, as I was journaling, I decided to try something different. I made up the following challenge:



1) open a book and pick one or two sentences (fairly randomly)

2) choose five words from that selection

3) write an 11-sentence prose poem using those five words in the following sequence: in sentence one, you must use the first word you picked. In sentence two, you must use the second, etc. At the 6th sentence, you must use all five words. In sentence seven, you must use the 5th word (work your way backwards). In sentence eight, you must use the fourth word, etc. That way, the piece sort of mirrors itself.


...confusing? I'll show you what I came up with tonight.


Here's the selection I used:

Eventually scientists will discover something that explains ghosts, just like they discovered electricity, which explained lightning, and it might be something about people's brains, or something about the earth's magnetic field, or it might be some new force altogether. And then ghosts won't be mysteries. They will be like electricity and rainbows and nonstick frying pans." (Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time)




The words I picked were:

1) scientists

2) lightning

3) magnetic

4) rainbows

5) frying



Here's the piece I created:

In our silence, we could count all of them like scientists: the spots above our heads that fall to the ocean past our toes. Yesterday at this same time, there had been lightning going sideways across the water, but today is darker and capable of eating things up. It is only these stars and their magnetic tails that yearn to fall in elliptical swoops toward the earth. "I was thinking today about that dress you have with small rainbows around the hem," he says to me, words falling short in lazy circular patterns. My skin is hot from a daytime-frying-sun. "Yeah, I liked that dress, but one of the rainbows fell off of the bottom and I got a spot on it when I was frying fish a few weeks ago," I say, thinking of us as two scientists who could only talk about lighting, the lack of it, the lack of magnetic pull on the earth. Our thoughts are frying up in the air and evaporating, a mystery with all the breeze. Sometimes, when you are young, you want everything to be sunshine and rainbows. Tonight I am remembering being a child, when I would play with a doll who had magnetic hands and I would think of how things being pulled together made more sense than things being pulled apart. "I think that's lightning over there," he says with too much excitement, pointing across the sea. "It isn't", I respond, and again we are just scientists, experimenting with sad concoctions of silences.




...and there you go. Try it if you so desire. It could be fun :)

on tearing down and building up

God reached out, touched my mouth, and said, "Look! I've just put my
words in your mouth...I've given you a job to do among nations and
governments...Your job is to pull up and
tear
down
, take apart
and demolish, and then
start
over
, building and planting."
-Jeremiah 1:9-10
(The Message)


I started reading through the first chapter of the book of Jeremiah over spring break. This verse about tearing things down to build them up again has been sticking with me, doing something in me...I'm just not sure exactly what yet. What I'm learning is this:


1) God is a Restorer. That is who He is. That is what He does. That is what He did and it is what He will do. In Him, the broken things are made right and the upside down things are flipped over and the desert places are filled with water. He is making things right, even now.


2) God's weapon of restoration is HOPE. Hope does not look like a soft, nice glittering cloud - Hope is a ravaging warrior. Hope has a sword out and is clearing a path for righteousness. Hope offends people. Hope means fighting for possibility, it is not passive. You've got to do something about hope. You've got to steer it in the right direction. You've got to use it to tear down the things that aren't working so that the things that will work have space. You can't hide hope in a corner, you can't gently encourage it to do it's business - you have to rattle it up and make it wild and run alongside it.


3) There is nothing that can withstand it - hope, that is. It is a defeater. Hope defeats sorrow and poverty and (as a man named Jesus once proved) even death. Therefore, it is bigger than even really big, broken things - bigger than starvation and disease and children without shoes in Chureca. Bigger than the divided homes high school kids live in. Bigger than my own sin and arrogance and faults. I know this because I've seen it and am continually seeing it.

4) There is work to do. We are his warriors of hope. You. Me. We've got to battle with it leading in front of us. We've got to recognize our authority, our right to go into the places of hurting and fragmentation and despair and clear all those things out. That is our job - the clearing away. And after that, then comes the planting.

5) I need to be conquered by it. Before I can figure out what it means, where to take hope and clear away space for grace and reconciliation, how to do that - I've got to let it work in me first. God has that job, and it's a daily one: the clearing away, the making me more like Him, the planting of salvation. But I've got to let it happen, everyday. I must surrender to hope - it's bigger than me.

So those are the thoughts. Now the questions, the ones I ask myself daily and that I'm asking you as well: What are you fighting for? What are you fighting with? Are you willing to tear things down to build new things instead? Are you willing to be conquered, to surrender to something a thousand times more worthy and beautiful than yourself?

some thoughts on advertising

There was a weird thing I saw today that I found to be both amusing and confusing.

You know those people who stand on the side of the road with signs, usually for an open house or a mattress store or fast food restaurant? They are always dressed up like the statue of liberty or a giant fountain soda. And you know how they have this big cardboard sign that they dance around with and twirl in their hands to get you interested in whatever they are being paid $8.50 an hour for to get you interested in?

Today I saw a woman on 29. She was not dressed up. She was, indeed, dancing with a cardboard sign. BUT. It was a life-size cardboard sign of a man holding a cardboard sign. As in, the woman was standing behind the cut-out and making it look like it was dancing, instead of just dancing with a sign herself. As far as I could tell, the sign wasn't of any famous person - it was, simply, a cut-out of some rando dude with a sign in his hand. Something seems nonsensical about that.

Due to an uncontrollable fit of laughter at the sight, I could not tell what the sign was even about. Perhaps it was not the most effective advertising tool around - but shoot, was it hilarious.

happy new week, friends.

Dear friends who listen to country music,

A few things. 1) I don't like country music. 2) I will never like country music. 3) no matter how many videos you try to make me watch of country songs (RJ), or how many times you sneakily change my radio to a country station (Lindsey), I will STILL not like country music.
Sorry.

I will give you this, though. I like Taylor Swift. I like blue grass music. I like Alison Krauss. I like folk songs with banjo? I don't know if that counts. But look, it's not like I hate everything about what you like. Just mostly.

What I really can't stand is pop-country songs, like stuff that plays on the radio. Like, really can't stand it. Like want to rip my ears off of my head and jump on them when I have to listen to it. I don't like twangy male voices or songs about dogs dying or something. It just isn't pleasant.

I mean take this Tim McGraw song that someone so kindly forced me to listen to. It's slightly ridiculous:

It starts off like this:

"It was Labor Day Weekend and I was seventeen, I bought a coke and some gasoline and I drove out to the county fair."

Alright, why do I care that you bought a coke and some gasoline? Needless information. In fact, all it does is make me not like you, because I prefer Pepsi. Way to alienate your audience, Tim.

Then, it goes on to when he gets to the country fair. He sees a girl standing in a ticket line and "it all started right then and there." It seems obvious that this boy is not a quality catch. If he was looking for a committed relationship, his feelings would have started after he had gotten to know this girl, asked her about her likes and dislikes, discovered what type of music she liked. But no. He falls for her because of the following reasons:

I had a barbecue stain on my white t-shirt, she was killing me in that mini-skirt...she had a suntan line and red lipstick.

First of all, gross. Clean up a little if you're trying to impress the ladies.
Secondly, gross. This is complete objectification of women. All this boy notices is: mini-skirt, red lipstick, suntan line. Does he say "Gosh, she has a great personality!"? Nuh-uh. What a pig.

Next, this boy is headed to Mardi Gras five years later and sees this same girl on a plane. How serendipitous! I'm sure that they will go on to have a classy, romantic time in New Orleans, getting wasted and doing Lord knows what. I mean, their love is based off of so much: similar interests, shared dreams, same sense of humor....oh wait. It's based off of a mini-skirt. Let's glorify that relationship, why don't we.


So, that's my take on country music. I would just like to add that just because I lead younglife in Greene county and am from a small town, those things do not imply that I should love country music. The fact that I don't just makes me a little superior in regards to everyone else.
Love you, friends!

p.s. Lindsey, I LOVE you (music taste & all). we can listen to up to two country songs in the car today just because I am nice :)

O-M-Glee

tomorrow. it's back. I've got more excitement than Sue Sylvester's got track suits.


a post for those craving summer






look at those. get excited about bare feet & Popsicles & never-ending sunshine. listen to this (beautiful) song. join me in summer dreaming.






pics from On a high note



rain

Rain on a late Thursday night. Beating fingertip sounds against the roof of my Saab, with me inside and the leather seats smell familiar like crayons. The buzz that sounds from somewhere near the broken clock on the dashboard continues with the engine off, familiar hum. Tires on a familiar spot of the driveway. Settle in. I settle in without thought of the door handle, of the inside rooms of my house, of work waiting, of catching up on days. Rain on a late Thursday night and I am me inside my car.

I think of rain like literature and like loneliness, the storm that pours on Lear when he walks across the heath, heartbroken. He thinks no one loves him, but somebody does. I think of rain like how it sounded to cummings, how he knew someone with smaller hands. I think of rain like music, think of Norah Jones and wonder if she really has a tin roof to listen to its falling.

I think of rain in terms of puddles, of the Dell surging up in fullness, of small streams down the side of my street, of the picture I saw on the news once of a man floating on a piece of wood on a river of rain where a highway was. I think of little and BIG. I think of two things at once, how rain is quiet but then it is L O U D, think of all the drops bumping into each other. I think of rain like students in a marching band drum solo competition, all pounding away with vigor, intensity- afraid of what their parents will say if they don’t outshine, win the award.

I think of rain and what it means when it’s absent. I think of dryness, how we crave rain then. I think of heat, how we pray for rain then. I think of sunshine, how then we wish for rain never to come again. Strange.

And then when I stop thinking of everything else, I think of You, who knows the rain. You who knows that the Magnolia tree in the front of my house still needs rain to grow, no matter how big it seems. You who could count the drops, who could match the beat of each hit against my roof in perfect rhythm with Your perfect hands. I think of You who wrung out the white cotton clouds into this perfect gift of water that I sit here, alone and not alone, listening to. The here of where I find you in my dark street with my lit windows and I’m outside them, and the yellow pollen is falling to the ground - in my car, in the driveway, in the shadow of my house, in the palm of Your hand.

songs named names

Today I was thinking about how a lot of really good songs are named after names. Here are a few of my favorites you should check out:

1) Jolene - Ray LaMontagne
SO good. So. So. So. So.

2) Jolene - The Weepies
OK, this is another good song called "Jolene". I can never decide which one I like better. The Weepies are awesome, so if you haven't checked them out, you need to. They are kind of chill, folky music that is smooth and easy to listen to.

3) Caroline - David Gray
My friends and I just had a conversation a few weeks ago about wonderful it would be if David Gray was your husband and he could serenade you any time you wanted.

4) Kate - Ben Folds
"everyday she wears the same thing...I think she smokes pot"

5) Samson - Regina Spektor
She has such a beautiful, haunting voice. There are some really lovely lines in this.

6) Jack & Diane - John Mellencamp
You know you love it.

7) Amie - Damien Rice
I could melt into this.... or just have a good slow dance while listening to this.

8) Sarah Maria - James Taylor
Not one of his better known numbers, but this song is wonderful. (so is JT)

9) John Wayne Gacy Jr. - Sufjan Stevens
This song is about the Chicago serial-killer. Yes, kind of creepy, but for some reason this song really impresses me. I love Sufjan and think this tells a really haunting story.

10)
Emily - Frank Sinatra
Alright, this song only made this list because I am a little self-obsessed.

11) Taylor - Jack Johnson
My bro's name! Although, I like to make fun of him about it because this song is about a girl.

12)
Mary Ann - Ray Charles
probably my favorite Ray Charles song

13) Vanessa (from Queens) - Stephen Malkmus
I think I got this from a mix Zoe gave me, so you know it's good.

14)
Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder
Warning: do not play this song unless you are in the position to have yourself a killer DP.

15) Janet - The Format
My mom's name :) The Format rules. I love the line in this that says "I love waking up to your laugh"

16) Rapunzel - Dave Matthews Band
"lost in love and dancing - shake your tambourine!"

17) Pauline -
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
ohhh I just adore their voices.

18) Ms. New Booty - Bubba Sparxx
just kidding.

19) Lola - The Kinks
la la la la lola.

20) Kathleen - Josh Ritter
This song is perfect. If any boy ever says to me "all the other girls here are stars, you are the Northern Lights", I will be so happy.

21) Jenny - Flight of the Conchords
they are so entertaining. I love this song tons.

22) Jonathan Fisk - Spoon
Every time I listen to Spoon, I get this sudden urge to learn how to play the drums.

23) Victoria - John Mayer
If you are looking for an especially sappy John Mayer song, you've found it.

24) Zak and Sara - Ben Folds
I remember that this was so fun to sing at his concert. I will forever love Ben, even though he is apparently a jerk in real life.

25) Maggie May - Rod Stewart
An oldie but a goodie

Death is dead

True Love - Phil Wickham from Jody Hill on Vimeo.

on creativity and colored ketchup

In 2000, Heinz came out with this product line of colored ketchup called EZ Squirt. Did your mom buy it for you? Mine did, and all of my friend's moms bought it for them, too. They had tons of different and appealing colors that you wouldn't normally associate with ketchup: purple, blue, bright green, teal, pink. It was all the rage. There was something so exciting about eating french fries covered in purple instead of red. In the end, though, the excitement didn't last. After about two weeks, me and all my friends got bored of colored ketchup. After about six years, Heinz discontinued the line completely.

I've been spending a lot of time writing this week and all I keep thinking about is how often I produce colored ketchup. How many times do I write about the same exact themes or recreate the same sort of story or use the same poetic format? And I can get excited about it for maybe a day before I make the heartbreaking realization that all I've done is add a little food coloring and it's the same old thing I always do, or the same old thing I've read before a thousand times. Ughhhhh. It is more frustrating than writer's block in my opinion, the feeling of being unable to think of anything creative or new to add to the world.

So what is the goal, then? NOT to create colored ketchup? Some could argue that Heinz was successful with EZ Squirt. People bought into it. Kids went crazy. I'm sure there were hundreds of temper tantrums over dinner tables where neon-colored tomato products were not endorsed: "Little Timmy, you better eat those fries! I don't care if they don't have teal ketchup on them, the red kind tastes exactly the same! No dessert for you!"

But what I want and what artists & creators & producers everywhere want is to make something new. Something radical. Something that changes things. Something no one has ever seen before. What good is it to produce something that people gobble up in two seconds and then tire of? I want something lasting. Those great works of literature you read in English class? Those endure because they are different and wonderful, like a Beatles song you hear on the radio and that your parents and maybe grandparents heard on the radio, too. They aren't like that Kesha "Tik Tok" number that people can't stop playing for now but will quickly come to find obnoxious.

I shouldn't be frustrated, really. I know close to nothing so far about what it means to be a good writer in any sort of genre or capacity. And maybe it just takes practice and learning. For you, it could be anything. Maybe it's painting or singing or building or whatever it is you science people do. Go be inspired by what works already. Spend time being frustrated that you only seem to recreate different versions of other people's better ideas. Grow to loathe yourself for not having a single unique thought. And then, have joy, because someday you are going to work and work and work and finally find your voice and make something that is so much better than colored ketchup.