Monday, August 27, 2012
I am 100% right brained. I love bright colors. I hate keeping track of details. In coffee shops I like to sit facing the door so I can see people come and go.
When I have to do math my vision gets fuzzy and my blood pressure rises. I get distracted easily. I'm usually reading 7 books at a time. I will probably finish none of them. I work better with noise in the background. One minute I'm e-mailing a music client and the next I'm googling how to raise a peahen.
My brain is a pretty fun place, but sometimes it's frustratingly disorganized.
If I saw a doctor I'd probably be diagnosed with some sort of adult ADD. I think that God gave me a very eclectic, creative brain, but the downside is that it's always going, and rarely stays focused on one thing. Rather than medicate I've decided to recognize the pitfalls and instill some discipline.
Here are a few things I do to maintain some semblance of organization and sanity. Some may be obvious, but hopefully they can help my fellow right-brainers.
1. Keep a small notebook and pen handy at all times. Jot down things as you think of them, because despite how important or great an idea it is, you won't remember it later. As a bonus, it makes you feel like Steve from Blues Clues.
2. Have a morning routine, even if it's just one or two steps. I try to make my bed and drink some water. (Cause making the bed can be dehydrating...plus the Internet told me drinking a glass of water in the morning helps my internal organs function optimally.)
3. Make to-do lists. Before I go to bed I "draft" my next day. I'll put a "morning," "afternoon" and "evening" block and write generally what needs to get done in those times. If I have cookies on hand, I'll eat one.
4. Keep up with general good health habits. Exercise, take vitamins, limit coffee, sugar, etc. I do terrible with this 50% of the time, but when I stay on top of basic health habits, I focus better.
5. Create an organization system that works for you so you don't end up on hoarders. I don't know how to organize...so I keep designated "piles" for things: comedy material pile, important document pile, music pile, etc. I don't have a filing cabinet, color coded or alphabetized system. If someone starts an organization system for me, I can keep it up, but I'm lousy at coming up with them. (hint, hint)
6. Write down everything important in one place. I keep a paper calendar (not an electronic one) with writing deadlines, appointments, and comedy show info w/ all flight/hotel information written on it. Otherwise I will lose everything.
7. When all six of the cup holders in your car have old drinks in them, clean it out.
8. Accept that your life will always be a little cluttered. It's a small sacrifice for the fun and spontaneity that saturates a right-brainer's life.
Are you a right brainer? How do you keep organized?
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
In the late 90s Josh Harris' "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" came out. This book took the conservative Christian community--especially the homeschool community--by storm. My mom gave me this book when I was thirteen. I skimmed it quickly because as a late blooming teenager I didn't really see how any of it applied to me. I was not going to date, I was going to court. Got it. Could I please go roller blading around the neighborhood now? If I ran into a boy I'd be sure to not make prolonged eye contact until his intentions were clear.
Sarcasm aside, it wasn't uncommon to hear young Christian homeschool teens asking each other, "is your family doing dating or courting?" Daters were looked down upon, courters were revered for their higher standards. It was never explicitly said, but somehow we all knew to answer "we're going to court, of course!" We weren't heathens, after all!
"Guarding your heart" was the phrase used when proceeding into a relationship with the opposite sex. (Oops...meant to type gender and not the "s" word.) We assumed that by following these standards and "guarding our hearts" we'd be guaranteed the perfect man and a perfect marriage. Again, it was never said, but somehow I came away with that assumption.
Here's the problem with that assumption: there are no perfect men (or women) and no perfect marriage. Assuming a particular method of dating/courting will grant you either of these is setting yourself up for disappointment. I know plenty of girls who obeyed the letter of the "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" law who are in their thirties and still single. I know plenty of girls who had a perfect courtship and their marriage still has problems. Obedience doesn't guarantee reward. Tough lesson. (Some of these are man made laws. Obeying God's law always leads to reward, just not necessarily on this side of eternity. See Hebrews 11.)
So, here's my final opinion more than ten years after perusing IKDG: dating is not evil. There is this unspoken idea in courting that you have to be CERTAIN the person you are going to court is the one you will marry before you proceed. I believe you should date purposefully. But you don't have to know for sure that someone is "the one" before you make a move. If you DO know for certain, great! But having that as a prerequisite is not realistic in most situations.
In a nutshell, I think this is what you should keep in mind when approaching a relationship:
Step one: mutual attraction (well, hopefully it's mutual).
Step two: guy pursues and communicates intentions.
Step three: establish values and set your boundaries. Have accountability. (Hopefully both sides will already have accountability people in their lives.)
Step four: Have fun, get to know each other and find out if this person is meant to be your 'til death! If not, move on. If so, huzzah!
This is neither dating nor courting, but a little combination of both. "Dourting," if you will. In fact, I think I'm going to write a book called "Dourt your way to the Alter." I smell a best seller.
Monday, June 4, 2012
A few months ago I received the most amazing advice on how to get a husband. After one of my shows a middle age lady came up to me and posed the following question:
"I don't want a used man!" I thought to myself. My thoughts were interrupted, though, as she continued talking.
"That's what I did when I was ready to get married. I hung those pants up, prayed, and then I joined Christian Mingle and found my husband!"
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
I love talking with children about their views on the world. They are creative, funny, imaginative, and often surprisingly observant and honest in how they think the world works. Recently I was reflecting with a few of my siblings on things we believed as children. Here's what I could remember.
Things I believed as a child:
All dogs are boys and all cats are girls.
God lived in the DFW Air Traffic Control Tower. (My dad was a pilot and we flew a lot.)
Our prayers went to a series of answering machines in the DFW Air Traffic Control Tower, and when God had enough time He listened to them and answered them.
If I wore clip on earrings long enough, my ears would become pierced.
All tacos were eaten with coleslaw.
If a mom and a dad went somewhere together, the dad always did the driving. (Even now when I play the board game Life, I switch my little people so that the blue person is driving when I reach the "married" square.)
When a plane landed all the bags fell from the bottom of the plane. Elves came and collected them and put them on the baggage belt, which is why it took so long.
Everyone got married by age 23.
Girls had long hair. Cutting your hair made you a boy.
If a married couple wanted a baby, they only had to pray together and then went to go pick up the baby at the hospital. (Some families in our social circle obviously prayed more than others.)
Public school was a terrible place where children were sent by parents who didn't care about them.
Since girls always looked surprised when they were proposed to, I believed that you didn't have to know the man ahead of time and that any random dude could "surprise" you by proposing. (Which was actually semi true as I got proposed to by a gas station attendant one time.)
What did you believe as a child?
Friday, May 11, 2012
What you are about to read is a true story. It is recounted as I remember it.
I got my first job at the age of four.
While walking through the airport with my dad, my older sister Lori was scouted by an agent at a top Dallas modeling agency. They really liked my older sister’s look, and since I kind of looked like her, they kind of liked me and signed us both. She was six and I was four.
I thought modeling would be a good way to start a college fund and get ahead on my 401k, while maybe indulging in a few wants such as a new Cabbage Patch Doll and some Fisher Price roller skates.
Okay, for real. I had no clue I was even working.
There are four things I remember about being a child model:
1. The clothes were itchy.
2. The grown ups didn’t smile much.
3. If I didn’t strip off the itchy clothes during the shoot I got a McDonald’s Happy Meal.
4. I usually threw up the Happy Meal a few hours later because my parents were health fiends and rarely let us have anything processed, so my body revolted when fed contraband foods.
The highlight of my career came at five years old, when I got to be an extra in a Showbiz Pizza commercial. For those of you who don’t remember, Showbiz Pizza was the predecessor to Chuck E. Cheese. We never went there because my parents didn’t want to spend money on tokens or pizza made with white flour.
The talent in the commercial was comprised of a principal little boy, thirty child extras, and one actor inside a gigantic mouse suit that later morphed into Chuck E. Cheese. Back then it was just a creepy, pedophilia-looking mouse (see above picture).
The parents waited in a separate area while their children filmed. I would not want to be in a room with thirty stage mothers each trying to one-up the other mothers with their child’s accomplishments.
One of the production assistants divided up the kids to be filmed doing different things around the restaurant. Some kids went to the ball pit, some went to the gophers that try and thwart your hammer with their random head popping, and some went to a table to work with a pizza.
(Due to union laws the pizza couldn’t be on set for any more than 30 minutes before it had to get switched out with a fresher pizza. And we thought actors had a hard time staying fresh. Every time an actor tells me they’re having trouble keeping their image new and interesting, I remind them to be thankful they’re not a pizza. Incidentally I’m not friends with many actors.)
Lori, who was also an extra, was assigned to the gopher heads. I was put with the pizza group and led away with 5 other kids by Production Assistant #1, who was no doubt a recent film studies graduate. PA #1 took her job more seriously than most cardiac surgeons take open-heart surgery. If everyone were as dedicated to his or her job as PA #1, world peace would be only a matter of time.
I don’t want to make light of her dedication. This commercial was the stepping-stone by which she would move to episodic television, transition into film, and then receive her Oscar by thirty for best cinematography. A lot was riding on the shoulders of this twenty-second commercial spot. She could not fail. Which meant the six children she was responsible for could not fail.
PA #1 took me and five other kids to a dining table. On that table sat a huge, scrumptious sausage pizza. I stared at that pizza. I wanted it. It was hypnotizing me with its gooey cheese, greasy sausage, and over refined crust. I’d do anything for a slice.
My parents made pizza from scratch using wheat that my dad bought from a wheat dealer. (Yes, there is such a thing. Wheat deals go down very similar to drug deals.) They ground these wheat kernels into flour in their grinder. They had an all-organic tomato paste and something dairy free for cheese. It tasted nothing like this pizza looked.
I was so deep into my analysis of the pizza that I didn’t pay attention to what PA #1 instructed. Before I knew what was happening she said, “as soon as you hear ‘action’ grab your piece of pizza.”
This was working exactly as I’d hoped.
I got into attack position, eyed the piece of pizza I wanted, and waited for ‘action.’
That was my cue. I grabbed my piece of pizza and began eating it as fast as I could.
PA #1 approached me. She didn’t look happy.
“What are you doing?” she asked me. “You were supposed to grab a slice of pizza and hold it up!”
I somehow missed that part of the instructions. Before I could respond, she’d already walked away.
PA #1 was furiously talking to the props man, telling them that I’d ruined the take by eating the pizza. The props guy nodded and went somewhere.
PA #1 talked to someone else quickly, and then told me they were moving me. A tall man in a headset came over and escorted me to another little group of kids setting up for another shot. These kids were going to skip in a circle around the Pedophilic Mouse mascot.
All I had to do was follow the kid in front of me and look happy. The director yelled “ACTION” and we all started skipping.
Everything was going smoothly. I was on my second lap around the mouse when, for reasons I still can’t explain, I decided to grab his tail. And for equally inexplicable reasons, I decided not to let go.
Here’s a fun fact: the tails of mouse mascots aren’t sewn on very well. I was only half way around the mouse, tail still in hand, when I heard a “riiiiip,” and suddenly I wasn’t pulling the tail anymore. I was carrying it in my hand.
Pedophilic Mouse turned to look at the hole in his* suit. A pair of white Hanes underwear was visible through the tear I’d made. The kids started pointing and laughing as the actor inside the mouse tried to cover the hole clumsily with his fur clad hands. I hung my head in shame. I’d never meant to hurt the mouse. I’d just grabbed his tail for no reason. I felt a tickle in my eyes and blinked back tears. I also felt something rumble in my tummy. The kind of rumble that makes you have to run to a bathroom.
The costume person retrieved the tail from my hand and walked with the mouse to another room. Production was temporarily halted.
Another assistant walked over to me and said I could come sit with her while things got reset. I think they didn’t want to leave me unsupervised. I told this girl I wasn’t feeling good, and that I might be sick. She promptly took me back to where the parents were being kept.
Here’s how you know I’m not lying about this story. If I were making up the story I would have had me throwing up on PA #1 or in the ball pit or on the lead little boy, who received noticeably better treatment than the other kids.
But I did not get sick. I merely went to sit with my mother, another stage mother gave me two Spearmint tic tacs, and I laid my head in my mom’s lap until they finished shooting and Lori was released. Lori came out with hundreds of tickets they’d let her keep when she played the gopher game. Fortunately she hadn’t seen my mess ups, and the shame I’d brought on myself remained my secret. Until now.
In the final cut of the commercial, there is a ¼ second blurb where you can see the seat of the pale blue overalls my mom dressed me in for the day. For years my mom freeze-framed the commercial to that ¼ second every time someone entered our house.
I'd share the footage with you, but sadly that VHS accidentally got dropped off our balcony and then smashed with a hammer when I was a teenager.
My modeling career didn’t last much longer. When I was almost six several of my teeth fell out, and my adult teeth came in at such odd angles that no one wanted me representing their product, so the agency dropped me.
This instilled in me a deep sense of self-hatred, which was vitally important when I started doing stand up comedy.
The moral of this story is simple: If you are going to be health nuts don’t put your child in show business or some delicious looking prop food might distract them from listening to important instructions and wreak havoc on the entire commercial and instill a feeling of guilt and shame in your child that forces them into the world of comedy later in life.
When I was sixteen all my suffering paid off when I had a few thousand dollars in the bank to put toward a car. Sadly, that is my only fond memory of my first job.
If you made it to the end of this blog you deserve a piece of delicious pizza.
*Or her. I never did see its face. I consider that a good thing, because if a mascot lets you see their human face, it means they’re going to kill you.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out." 1 Timothy 6:6
As I mentioned in my last post about church singles conferences, "contentment" is brought up with single people more than The Force is brought up with geeks.
There is nothing wrong with lessons, lectures, and sermons on contentment. It is something we should all seek and pray for.
I’ve noticed, however, that 99% of the times it’s taught, contentment is directed toward singles.
I’ve never heard a pastor tell married people or parents to be content. Maybe it's been preached and I haven’t heard those messages. Maybe I tune out thinking it's not relevant for me. This may just be my personal experience.
I’ve often wondered what happens to your contentment after you get what you were longing for.
Will you be content with your husband? Will you be content if the Lord only grants you two children and you wanted four? What if you guys wind up being transferred to some random city?
Directing contentment solely toward singles and addressing marrieds on other “struggles” insinuates that once you’re married and have kids, you no longer have trouble with contentment.
Only, that’s not exactly true.
I’ve asked my married friends about it, and discontentment is something that doesn’t go away once a ring is on your finger. In fact, I’ve observed that if you’re not content single, you probably won’t be content married.
I'd also heard contentment preached in conjunction with the "hanging in there" mentality. Basically, they said contentment is something God gives you while you’re waiting for what you want.
Contentment is not “hanging in there” waiting for change. It’s being fine exactly where you are, whether or not your situation changes. Contentment is knowing God has you there for a reason, perhaps for a season, perhaps permanently.
Contentment is also not synonymous with complacency. I can be working toward, wanting, and fighting in prayer for something, but still be content in the results knowing that God’s good and perfect will is going to be done. His will is always for my good, even if it looks different than I envisioned.
I did not bring a husband into this world, and cannot bring one out. (Though some women could probably take their husband out of this world.)
Wanting something that you ultimately have little control over getting is difficult. Proverbs tells us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” God has given us desires—and sometimes it’s difficult to wait.
If you put your hope ultimately in Christ, and the promise that His will is good and for your good, you will not suffer from a sick heart.
That’s easier said than done, and often surrendering our deepest wants and desires to God is a daily occurrence.
Well, that’s the end of my thoughts on that. Have a good week.
And to my single people: may The Contentment be with you.
Friday, March 30, 2012
A year ago I moved from Los Angeles to the suburbs of North Texas. A few months after relocating to the suburbs I learned that I have a debilitating disease. The disease is called "Single Over 25."
To help myself "cope" with this potentially life-long illness, I'm doing a short blog series called Single in the Suburbs.
To launch this series I'm going to take you through a series of comments I've received related to my singleness. Most of them stem from people automatically assuming I'm miserable.
"Are you dating anybody?"
Please don't start a conversation with this. If you're a really good friend, you'll know when I'm dating someone. (Or "courting" someone for my homeschool friends.) Until then, watch for my Facebook status to change or look for a slew of pictures with a recurring mysterious dude at my side. The only acceptable time to ask this is if the conversation naturally veers toward dating.
"It's okay to want marriage."
A recently married colleague told me this after I told them I was content with my singleness. They looked at me intently, as if they thought I was lying, and said sincerely, "It's okay to want to be married." I was like, "Thank you for your permission. I will stop being content and starting pining for what you have."
"Have you tried E-Harmony?"
No. I do have a standing account, however, on Farmers Only.
"Don't take these years for granted."
"Marriage is so hard."
Don't assume I'm miserable.
Don't assume that just because I'm talking to another single person of the opposite sex (or "gender" for my homeschool friends) that I'm dating them, or even interested in them.
Don't assume you can't include me just because I'm single.
Don't assume that I'm less spiritually mature than you just because I lack a spouse. I may be, but don't assume so.
Don't assume I'm available to babysit.
Don't assume I'm not available to babysit.
Monday, February 27, 2012
In my last blog I talked about the purposeful and controversial behavior of young stars trying to be taken seriously by sexualizing themselves.
Why is this behavior so common in coming-of-age celebutantes?
I think the answer is personal, cultural, and spiritual. On a personal level, growing up in front of the camera is difficult. Going through the awkward adolescent stage is hard enough without having millions watch your every move and mistake. Add to that being the center of attention for many years and it’s like vigorously shaking a soda bottle before opening. (There’s probably a better analogy…if you think of one let me know.)
Plus, no matter how humble your family and friends keep you, when you are the star of a show you are treated a cut above the rest. There are people whose job is to make sure you are happy since you are the face of the project. When your identity is wrapped up in being the main focus (whether intentional or not) it’s disillusioning when it’s taken away.
Lastly, for many of these kids, their life has been micro-controlled by parents, managers, studio execs, etc. I’m not a psychologist, but in some twisted way these kids are finally getting a level of control over their life. Sure, the control may bend negatively, but at least it’s their choice.
From a cultural perspective, society has a fascination with bad behavior. We love to raise people up and then see people fall from grace. Thinking and talking about someone else’s stupidity distracts us from our own. So, these kids still get to stay in the spotlight because society inadvertently feeds into it by buying magazines and watching Hollywood gossip shows, which creates a world where people profit financially from their mishaps.
Finally, these kids are seeking something that can never be found in fame, fortune, or the centerfold of a magazine spread. They are seeking what only Jesus can provide—and that is unconditional love and acceptance. When you realize your worth and value is not dictated by public opinion, but by how much your Heavenly Father loves you, it frees you from the clutches of fame and public opinion.
It’s a sad trend that I hope turns around. I hope that America loses its fascination with celebrity and celebrates not fame for fame’s sake, but actual talent and accomplishment. I wish people would just as eagerly grab tabloids that featured brilliant scientists, writers, and other achievers, rather than celebrate celebrities who checked into rehab due to exhaustion from clubbing too hard.
Instead of talking about and clucking your tongues at these young stars, pray for them. They may seem like they "have it all." But as we see over and over again, "having it all" is not the answer.
"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 8:36
Do you follow celebrities? How do you react to their shenanigans?
Monday, February 20, 2012
I’m not a huge fan of most Disney Channel shows (another blog for another day), but when I saw Miley Cyrus doing a strip tease-y number in a bird cage at some awards show I stared at the tv screen flabbergasted. Yet another teen icon was purposefully and intentionally shirking her “good girl” image. (Author’s Note: Yes, I know I’m about two years behind in pop culture. But two years is actually really good for me considering homeschoolers are usually a decade behind. I only figured out who the Spice Girls were a couple years ago.)
Since this incident she’s posed in magazines flaunting seductive clothes and poses, and spoken out that she is, indeed, trying to get the world to see her as an adult.
Here’s what struck me more than the (in my opinion) tackiness of these attempts: that in her mind “adult” equals sexualizing yourself. In fact, there seems to be a trend among teen stars to “shed” their image (and their clothes) in order to be taken more seriously.
I think they are confusing controversy with maturity.
Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera, Lindsey Lohan, Taylor Momsen, and a slew of other child actors who began their careers playing wholesome, sweet parts have gone extremely out of their way to show the world they are rebels with an edge. They want to be taken seriously. They want the world to know they are no longer little girls.
Trust us. We know. The constant barrage of headlines saying you’ve missed your court mandated counseling or got married and divorced in less than a week has confirmed it. You are indeed grown up.
But did you want our attention or our respect? Because our attention you have, our respect you do not.
What about the other aspects of being an adult deserving of respect? What about responsibility? Leadership? Creativity? Intelligence? Giving back to your community? Those are all important markers of adulthood. For some reason, though, those apparently don’t get the attention of the general public enough to merit pursuing.
Why do you think young celebrities get caught up in this whirlwind of controversy?