Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sobbing on the Subway Platform: The Christmas Story Hallmark Didn't Make

**Warning: This post is longer than all three Hobbit films combined.**

Today (Christmas Eve) was a long day.

I was supposed to take a bus from Atlanta to Jacksonville to see my sister and brother for Christmas. My older sister, Lori, lives in Atlanta but got scheduled to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Rather than sit alone in her apartment for the holidays, we arranged for me to take the MegaBus down to see my sister and brother in Florida.

One of my sister's friends kindly dropped me off at the bus stop in downtown Atlanta. Things got weird quick. There was no station, no indoor waiting area, no desk or information person available; just an awning with a lot of disgruntled bus passengers and homeless people trying to stay out of the rain. The bus departing prior to ours still hadn't shown up and was now two hours late. The one representative present for our bus line didn't know what was going on and was trying to manage the chaos.

I stood on the corner, attempting to avoid the gaggle, and then quickly realized standing on a corner in downtown Atlanta wasn't the greatest idea. (Come on people, can't you tell the difference between an "escort" and a severely caucasion woman waiting for a bus?!) After several stares and comments I walked across the street to a restaurant until closer to my bus's departure.

I returned and there had been no change in the situation. The earlier bus still hadn't shown up and now our bus was also officially delayed. Heads hung in defeat, curses were spewed into phones at faceless customer service agents, and homeless people wandered up the line trying to sell us things they'd pulled out of trash cans.

I found some space on a concrete wall under the awning and sat down. A few minutes later a girl in her early twenties sat next to me and tried to strike up a conversation.

I'd woken up with a throbbing head and sore throat that were getting worse as the day went on, so I wasn't super eager to talk to anyone, sane or not.

This young lady, however, was determined we'd be friends and kept talking. As we waited together, avoiding eye contact with crazies, we chatted. She was heading to Jacksonville to visit her family for Christmas. She told me about her job and her school and how she'd rushed to the station and hadn't had time to eat. By this point it was clear our bus was at least an hour off, so I suggested we go back across the street to the restaurant.

She told me about her childhood in Brooklyn and gave me some tips for deterring crazy hobos. (No eye contact, don't say anything unless they touch you, then scream.)

She asked if we could sit together on the bus. I told her yes. By this point it felt like I'd known her my whole life. I could barely remember a time when I wasn't waiting for this bus.

We returned to the stop just in time to see the earlier bus pull out and a second MegaBus pull up. We rushed to get in line and waited. And waited. And waited. Our delay was going on three hours. The representative walked by and I asked what was going on.

"The bus is broken," she said. "They're sending charter buses instead."

"Excuse me," said a woman from the line. "I just got off the phone with customer service and they're saying our bus already left and is on its way to Florida...but we're still standing here!"

Another 15 minutes passed. My cold meds were wearing off and I started feeling sicker. I looked at my phone. The battery was getting low and I had nowhere to recharge. The restaurants that had provided a temporary haven were now closed for Christmas.

My young friend was also now on the phone with customer service. Based on her tone the conversation wasn't going well. The bus line representative walked by shaking her head.

"Sorry folks, they said they were sending buses but now I don't know," she lamented. "They're not telling me anything."

Curses and groans rippled through the line.

I texted my sister in Florida and told her I didn't think it was going to work out to spend Christmas with them. She texted back a sad face and a plea to wait a little longer.

I called Lori (the sister who lives in Atlanta) and explained the situation. She needed to leave for work soon (she works the night shift and had been sleeping all day) and if she was going to pick me up it needed to be sooner rather than later. She told me to go down to the nearest MARTA station (Atlanta's subway system) and take the north line to the end. She'd meet me there.

I tapped my friend's shoulder, feeling a bit like I was deserting a fellow soldier, and told her I was bailing.

"Will you be okay?" I asked.

"Yes, I'll be fine," she said, giving me a quick hug, and then returning to her heated conversation with the bus line's customer service.

I grabbed my bags and rushed to the MARTA station, my wheelie suitcase thudding dramatically on the stairs as I hurriedly descended below street level.

I got to the subway platform and was the only one on there. After the chaos of the bus stop, the silence felt oppressing.

Standing alone on a subway platform is like shaking hands with an existentialist. You feel the weight of aloneness. Raw, gut wrenching, chest-constricting loneliness.

As I stood there, not a soul in sight, tears filled my eyes and I did something I don't do often: I cried.

I cried for the weary travelers who were putting up with a horrible bus line simply so they could see a familiar face on Christmas. I cried for the bus representative, who was getting lashed out at for things outside her control. I cried cause I felt like I was letting my little sister and my new friend down. I cried for the family of a friend who abruptly ended her own life a few months ago. I cried for my friends who were raising their babies without a spouse. I cried for my own heart, which was filled with so much bitterness and selfishness this week. I cried because I'm really good at being alone and I don't want to be good at that anymore. I just cried.

My train came and I got on, my face all blotchy and tear stained. A homeless person moved to get away from me.

Unlike the passengers waiting for the bus, whose faces were filled with loneliness, anger and desperation, the few passengers on the subway had no expression at all. Disaffected apathy filled the car. These people probably weren't even aware it was the day before Christmas.

I rode the subway as far north as it went and walked out to meet my sister. She was already in her scrubs, ready for another night of delivering babies.

"If you're willing to drive me to work and drop me off after, we can go to the 5pm Christmas Eve service," she said.

Exhausted, my head pounding and my throat stabbing more with every swallow, I nodded.

I was determined to redeem this day, and to expose as many people as possible to whatever bug I was fighting.

We sat in the very back row, singing carols and listening to the pastor's reminder of the incredible event we're celebrating. God lowering Himself to become a man for us. A man who would experience hurt, rejection, betrayal and loneliness. Jesus was the Word. Without words humans can't communicate. They can't know one another without words, just like we can't know God without the Word.

I closed my eyes, partly to dull my growing headache, but also to savor the words. Jesus is Hope. Hope for everything I'd cried for on the subway platform. Hope for the rest of today, and all of tomorrow.

I'll be spending Christmas alone in my sister's apartment with a virus. Part of me is excited for a calm, quiet day. Because as I said before, I'm good at being alone.

If you're awake and struggling this Christmas Eve, please please email/text/message me any prayer requests. I'd love to pray for you. (Even if it's that you need to forget a ridiculously long and purposeless blog you just read.)

Merry Christmas, friends. We have hope!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Hitting Life's Big Milestones

Six months ago I packed up everything I owned and moved to Colorado Springs.

Since then I've reached several significant milestones.

First, I've driven in snow. This was my biggest fear moving to a colder climate, but I'm adjusting to not always being entirely in control of my car. Last night we had a snowstorm and this morning I slipped and slid my way to church. While making a turn I skidded slightly and managed to recover without panicking, at which point I yelled "did you see that?!" to my accordion, which was in the passenger's seat. (He's old enough to sit up front now.)

The key to driving in snow is to go slow. Not only does this prevent accidents, it gives you time to laugh at the sports cars, which aren't nearly as cool when they're fishtailing on a sheet of ice.

The second milestone is I'm playing accordion in my church's praise and worship team. The stage is a little small so they have me play in a portable building on the other side of the parking lot, but I'm loving it!

The biggest milestone happened in August, when I purchased my first piece of furniture. This was a bittersweet moment, and one that required a good amount of thought and prayer. I've always been able to fit everything own into my car, and purchasing this furniture piece meant giving up the freedom and independence that comes with not owning large things. Now if I want to move anywhere I'm going to have to bribe a truck owner with pizza to come transport my IKEA bed frame. (Fortunately I can deflate and easily transport the air mattress that I have on the bed frame. Baby steps.)

Or, I could just cut my losses and buy another $99 bed frame when I make it to my final destination. (This is assuming I'll move again, which right now I have no plans of ever leaving Colorado Springs.)

Life in Colorado has been beautiful. This new season has been calm, and I'm grateful. I've spent time sitting with friends over coffee, hiking mountains with my sister, making late-night Wal Mart runs with roommates, reading books, and mentally rejuvenating. I moved here worn out and jobless, and God's provided both rest and work. (Lovely irony.) I don't know what's up next, but I'm trying not to take this peace for granted.

In a Winter Wonderland.

My youngest sister Leah at Lake Powell (left) and The Grand Canyon (right): Two of the stops on our Thanksgiving Road Trip Spectacular.

Tonight I'll turn in the final draft for my next book, tomorrow I'll play Simon Cowell at callbacks for a show I'm music directing in the new year, and then Tuesday and Wednesday I'll be speaking at a school here in Colorado Springs. Wednesday evening I'll log out of my social media, shut down my computer, put on my sweats, and head out on a "Christmas Family Tour," where I'll visit my parents and siblings in their various states.

Merry Christmas, friends, and may 2016 bless you in ways you didn't believe possible.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Man Who Insulted Everyone

I’m used to bizarre conversations. Something about my face says to strangers: “Please say awkward, weird things to me.”

Occasionally those conversations revolve around my singleness. Most of the time they go something like this:

Stranger: “Why are you still single?”

Me: “Probably because I play the accordion.”

Stranger: “Well, are you putting yourself out there and looking?”

Me: “Yes, I’m holding auditions next week.”

Stranger: “Maybe your standards are too high.”

Me: “Are you saying I shouldn’t wait for Robert Downey, Jr.?!?!”

Stranger: “Well, it’ll probably happen one day.”

Me: “Did I mention I play the accordion?”

I don’t mind these questions. They’re a little cliché, but sometimes they pave the way for deeper conversations.

Every now and then, though, a conversation with a stranger leaves me speechless. These are the exchanges I blog about.

Recently I spoke at a conference and, while reviewing my notes in the lounge a few minutes before my talk, a man helping with the conference came up and sat down near me. He was probably mid-50s and I’d spoken to him briefly throughout the day. With one short conversation he managed to insult me, his wife, all women, all men, and the partridge in the pear tree.

“So, are you in a relationship?”

“Not right now.”

“Yeah—it’s gonna be hard for you.”

(Point for insulting me.)

 “What do you mean?”

“Guys want a girl who needs them.”

(I actually do need a guy, if for no other reason than to get into buildings. I’ve always had a hard time with doors due to undiagnosed push/pull dyslexia.)

“I don’t think all guys want needy girls.”

“That’s you as a girl speaking. Guys need girls to need them.”

(Point for insulting all guys.)

“Is that how it was when you married your wife?”

“Yes, actually. Still that way.”

(Point for insulting your wife.)


“Well, you’re a pretty enough girl. The happiest guys, though, are the ones whose wife stays at home.”

“I’m not necessarily opposed to that.”

“It’s one thing if you’re really bad at your job—then it’s fine to stay at home. The thing is you’re good at what you do. Problem is no guy’s going to want that.”

(10 points for insulting all women who choose to stay at home, minus a few points for kind-of-sort-of complimenting me, 10 more points for assuming all guys can’t handle women who do things successfully.)

“I know a lot of men with gifted wives, and they live as partners both at home and in their work.”

“Yeah—well, good luck with that. Just make sure you’re running with those circles.”

(You mean hang out with people who are the exact opposite of you? Yeah, I’m on it.)

“Well, thank you for that insight. I have to go onstage now and tell jokes.”

And thank you for the new material.

This conversation wins second place, with first place still belonging to this awkward singleness conversation. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

I'm getting a divorce. (And I've never been married!)*

When I had my significant other for lunch. This was 6 months ago. 
Not a week goes by where I don't get multiple posts, memes, messages, and texts about Chipotle. Anyone who's known me longer than 10 minutes knows I have an unhealthy obsession. My tag line for this blog is even Chipotle related.

I've eaten Chipotle so much that our relationship probably falls under common law marriage. I was even excited about moving to Colorado Springs because the original Chipotle is in Denver and I could finally visit the burrito bowl Mecca.

They say confession is good for the soul, and it is with great sadness that I must confess I've been cheating on Chipotle. With Thai food.

As with most wayward behavior, it began innocently. Shortly after moving in my roommates said, "there's this really good Thai place less than a mile from our house." I'd never eaten Thai food before, and as Colorado Springs is known for its authentic Thai food,** I tried it. It started with Drunken Noodles. Then Massaman Curry. Then Green Curry. And before I knew what was happening it'd been three weeks since I'd eaten, or even thought of, Chipotle. Even more sad? There's a Chipotle less than 5 minutes from my house and I don't even care.

I've had Chipotle 4 times since moving to Colorado Springs almost three months ago. ONLY FOUR. I feel terrible. (Mentally. Physically I think I'm a little slimmer and I'm pretty sure my blood pressure's gone down a few points.)

I don't know how long this will go on. All I know is that I think about Green Curry constantly. I've barely thought about Chipotle, except when someone posts to my Facebook wall about it. Even then, those thoughts are guilt ridden, which leads me to the worst part of this whole thing: I've been lying to everyone, pretending things were okay between me and Chipotle. I've continued making jokes about my obsession and letting friends make comments and tease me about our relationship.

They say relationships have their ups and downs, and maybe Chipotle and I just need a break to sort things out. Maybe we should see a relationship counselor. I don't know. This is unfamiliar territory for me. All I know is that right now I don't want a burrito, and I don't know what to do with that feeling.

Have you ever experienced anything like this? Is restaurant polygamy a terrible social offense? PLEASE, INTERNET, TELL ME WHAT TO DO!

*I'm practicing writing headlines for Faithit.
**It's not known for its authentic Thai food.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Three days with love

I courted online dating last week. For three whole days.

I've been equal parts hesitant and curious about online dating. On the one hand, online dating seems like a great way to connect like-minded people whose circles might otherwise never cross. On the other hand, strangers!

Both of my roommates here in Colorado do/did online dating and after hearing their stories I decided to give it a try. Also--my younger sister and I thought this would be a hilarious profile picture:

   (Exhibit A: My first online dating profile picture.)

I decided to go with eHarmony. Why eHarmony? Because it's the only site where I personally know several married couples who met there. (If you know me and you met your spouse through another online site, please feel free to let me know.) If I were to go with a site purely on name value, I would've gone with Ugly Schmucks or Plenty of Fish. (The latter is incredibly aptly named, as dating in general feels like a fishing expedition.)

Putting together an online profile is essentially like putting a house on the market--except you're marketing yourself. You gloss over the bad, cram your weaknesses in a drawer, and highlight your intellect, athleticism, and wit. People should also know you've been recently painted and are in a good school district.

We spend hours putting final touches to make ourselves marketable all while having a long list of requirements in any potential mate. It's all about you being the perfect fit for me. (And yet at the same time we're terrified we're not going to be wanted by anyone if they truly know us.) If you're not perfect--say, for example, your favorite outdoor activity is rock climbing and mine is croquet--then I have a whole profile queue filled with other options that might be tailored more toward my interests. It's basically a relationship food court. You can get a feel for what's available, and if you don't like any of them you can go elsewhere. (But why would you leave a food court?! Are you too good for Hot Dog on a Stick?!) In the end, we end up looking for the male or female version of ourselves. Because, after all, I know I'm perfect for myself.

I was 12-hours into online dating when I decided it wouldn't be my cup of tea, at least for now. When I called to cancel my trial the eHarmony operator asked why.

"I don't like it," I said. "It's not for me right now."

The operator asked if I was unhappy with my matches.

"Yeah--none of them are Robert Downey Jr," I joked.

She graciously extended my free trial to two weeks so I could warm up to the idea of online dating.

My thoughts on online dating are similar to my thoughts on "real" dating, and my thoughts on "real" dating reflect my thoughts on culture as a whole: we're super consumeristic. In both friendships and marriages, if we don't feel like we're getting our end of the deal, we bail. Because obviously we're owed fulfillment and happiness, even at the expense of those around us.

I dog on the shallowness or our culture, but really it's a human nature thing. If you read these "relationship ads" published in the early 1900s, you see a similar mindset to what's out there today.
Proof shallowness is human nature not cultural #1
Proof shallowness is human nature not cultural #2

I want to create a dating site where we put all our negative traits out in the open. If after reading them someone's like, "yeah, I could live with that," then they get to see all the positives.

If people know I'm lazy, cynical, burp too loud at all the wrong times, can't eat tomatoes without gagging, possess a set of smelly feet, completely lack confidence, overkill sarcasm, fidget constantly, am in a common law marriage with Chipotle, am incredibly indecisive about every decision that doesn't involve eating at Chipotle, and are still like, "sure, let's move forward," then maybe it'll work.

(Exhibit B: I changed my profile picture 24-hours in. Men should know they'll be competing with a burrito chain for my heart.)

I'm eager to read Aziz Ansari's new book Modern Romance. I'm currently number 457 on my library's wait list to read that book, so it seems I'm not the only one frustrated by consumer dating.

Friday, July 10, 2015

"Hi, my name is High." Part one: Therapy Dog

Well, it's been a week since I rolled into Colorado. I've been hiking every day, I have a beautiful panoramic view of the mountains from my porch, Monday I start my first piano student, and I'm preparing to teach music at a few schools this fall. I've encountered many pleasant surprises with my transition.

I've also encountered more high people in one week than in my entire life combined. (And this includes spending a good amount of time in LA comedy clubs.)

The morning after I moved in my neighbor from across the street came outside while I unloaded my car.

"Did you meet my dog?" she asked.

I looked around to see if she was talking to me, since I hadn't ever even met her, much less her dog.

She walked over and shoved a tiny, shivering dog into my arms.

"He's my therapy dog. He's helping me with my panic attacks and anxiety," she told me.

I looked down at the shaking micro-dog in my arms, who was now nervously clawing at my jacket.

"I think your therapy dog needs a therapy dog," I thought to myself.

"My last therapy dog got stolen out of my hotel room. I was so traumatized. I moved to Colorado for the medical marijuana."

I was so confused. Were those two separate thoughts? Did she move because the abduction of her therapy dog distressed her so much she needed powerful opiates to get over it? I don't know. She kept talking while I ran through my mental inventory of responses for high people but I didn't have many because I don't speak Highnese. Fortunately, I didn't have to think of anything because she changed the subject.

"The doctor prescribed me opiate drops, you know."

"Nice," I replied, trying to hand her back her dog, which for some inexplicable reason I was still holding.

"No, not nice!" she exclaimed. She pulled a red bottle out of her purse. "One drop too many and these will kill you!"

Nothing makes you feel more like an ignorant, over sheltered homeschooler than getting reprimanded by your high neighbor about your lack of opiate knowledge.

"Wow, that's crazy." I said. "Well, I've got to go finish unloading this stuff from my car. It was nice to meet you and your dog!"

I gave her back her dog. She cuddled him close.

"He's my therapy dog. I love him."

"I know," I said in a Hans-Soloish tone and walked away.

To be continued, I'm sure...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cruise Ship Comedy, Mediocrity, and Toothbrushes

Today I packed my entire life into my car. I'll hold for a slow clap.

Tomorrow morning I'll start my journey to Colorado Springs. I'm not anxious about this move, which is odd. Typically I second, third, fourth, and fifth guess every decision I make. At this point I don't know if my peace comes from my trust in God or total apathy. (It's a thin line between the two.)

It feels strange to be done with comedy. The cruise was a great experience and I couldn't have asked for a better way to end my short tenure as a stand up comic. It was fun performing among a fantastic group of comics (albeit a little intimidating). The comics were as down-to-earth off stage as they were hilarious on stage, the audience was kind and welcoming, and I had several "how the heck did I get here" moments. (In a good way. I didn't have nearly the success, experience, and popularity of the other comics, so I was extremely honored to be included.)

Most of my sets went really well. One of my sets in the middle of the week, however, went just okay. If you have any insight into the mind of a right-brained perfectionist performer, you'll know that an "okay" performance is exactly the same as completely bombing. I was mad at myself.

I've often received the well-meaning advice, "Brush it off." If someone can show me where the "brush it off" button is located in my head, I'd be forever in your debt. Cause I can't find it.

After my mediocre set I went and laid face down "plank-style" on my bed, wishing the cabin floor would open and drop me down to the bottom of the ocean. Maybe a pod of dolphins would adopt me. Dolphins don't care if you're funny. They only care if you have fish.

"I don't know what to say," my youngest sister, who had accompanied me on the cruise, told me when she came in and saw me in my state of self-depricating despair.

"Say nothing." I replied into my pillow. "If you say something nice I'll think you're lying and if you say something critical I'll cry."

She went and sat on our balcony. (Yes, we had a balcony. Once again, how did I get here?)

A few minutes into my internal monologue of how I obviously wasn't pretty enough or skinny enough or a skilled enough tap dancer to be good at comedy I realized my lips felt a little chapped. I got up to grab some chapstick from the bathroom.

Backstory: I go through toothbrushes like crazy. Not intentionally, but I'm paranoid about germs and my toothbrushes always fall out of my ziplock TSA bag, come into contact with the bottom of a shoe in my bag, or drop onto the floor, and I have to get a new one. Knowing I'd be on a cruise and a new toothbrush would cost me $20, I bought a cover for mine to protect it from the travel elements.

As I reached up to find my chapstick I knocked my toothbrush off the bathroom shelf. It bounced off the counter, popped out of its protective case, and landed bristles-first into the toilet brush.




I started laughing. I laughed harder than I've ever laughed. I went out to the balcony and told my sister and she laughed too. In a very puntastic, ironic, ridiculous way, this incident enabled me to "brush off" my set. Thank you, Lord, for the joy found in outright silliness.

I showered, went upstairs to get pizza, and had a great rest of the week.

I even found another toothbrush in the bottom of my bag. Miracles still happen.

I have a looming writing deadline, so I'm gonna go watch Fast and the Furious 6 before driving (within the speed limit...mostly) to my new home tomorrow.

Goodnight, friends. May you be blessed with an abundance of silly moments.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

New Adventures, New Hope

I'm moving to Colorado Springs in two and a half weeks. I'm pretty much packed. It's easy to pack when you don't own anything.

This week is crammed full of saying goodbye to friends who've become family to me over the past 4.5 years. I hate goodbyes, even temporary ones. My typical approach to goodbyes is to say I need to use the restroom and then go climb out a window.

This move shouldn't surprise anyone. I rarely stay in one place for long. I'm always either traveling, moving, or thinking about traveling or moving. I met a woman in Honduras last year who's never left the 7x3 mile Island she lives on, except a few times to see a doctor on the mainland. Born there, raised there, content to stay there till the day she dies. Part of me envies people with those kind of roots, part of me fears that life.

People keep asking if I'm moving because of the new laws in Colorado. Nope. I've got a great guy who sells to me here in Texas. (That's a joke, by the way. I don't do drugs, except seasonal allergy medication.)

At the end of last year I paid off all my debts. When I moved to Texas I told myself I wouldn't even entertain the idea of moving again until I finished paying everything off. As my final payments drew near I started to dream and plan my next adventure. Should I expatriate to a foreign country? (I still may do that eventually. We'll see in 2016.) Should I stay in Texas? Should I move to a city and give stand up one more try? Should I throw some clothes in a backpack and try to circumnavigate the globe on foot? (I could do it. I'm from hearty German-Irish stock.)

"You should move to Colorado Springs," my youngest sister said over Christmas break last year when I told her all my crazy ideas. (She'll be in her final year at the Air Force Academy, which is one of the reasons I wanted to move sooner rather than later--to have some extra time with her.)

As soon as she said it, I knew that was my next and, Lord willing, final move. In college I worked at a camp in Colorado Springs during the summers and fell in love with the mountains. I'd tried to move to there on several occasions, but for one reason or another it never worked out.

I decided if I ever moved to Colorado it would be with the intention of staying. So that's gonna be what I attempt: Face my fear of driving in the snow and put down roots in Colorado Springs. Work with the intention of staying, not as a means to get to somewhere else. (Except maybe an island in the Caribbean during the winter.)

What will I do in Colorado Springs? Basically the same things I've been doing, sans stand up. I've decided to give it up for Lent permanently. While I think God's given me a decent sense of humor, He didn't give me the sharpness and mental grit necessary for a stand up career, and the last few years it's felt more like an emotionally abusive relationship. It's a great hobby. I'll still do it here and there for fun, but show business isn't for me. God's given me some new dreams and passions--especially in the areas of teaching and youth ministry--and I'm excited to see what's in store.

So in a couple weeks I'll do my final stand up shows on a cruise ship in the Caribbean with some great comics I never imagined I'd work with, and then I'll step off the ship as someone who used to do stand up, pack up my couple suitcases of belongings, fold up my industrial-grade air mattress (which is apparently a thing) and foray on to my next adventure in Colorado Springs.

In the meantime, I'm working on a follow up book to my first advice book for teen girls (it'll come out some time next year--stay tuned!), I have a handful of speaking gigs in the fall for various youth events, and I have a couple interviews to teach music part time. I'll also work on building a client base for private piano, voice, and accordion lessons in Colorado Springs, write a novel, and perhaps fulfill the dream that's been in the back corner of my mind of working at a coffee shop in the mountains.**

Someday when I have a house in the mountains (Actually it will be at the foot of them--because I will avoid driving up a mountain in the snow at all costs. At. All. Costs.) you're all welcome to come visit. In fact, I insist on it. I'll take you hiking up the incline. Google it. You'll sweat just looking at pictures.

And you can go ahead and start placing bets now on how quickly into winter I'll get my car stuck in a snow drift.

Here's to new dreams and new ventures.

Are you working on anything that's making you excited? What's new on the horizon for you?

**If you're looking for a youth speaker or a piano, voice, or accordion teacher in Colorado Springs, visit my website!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

50 Shades of Awkward

Over the past week my Facebook feed has literally exploded with blogs condemning 50 Shades of Grey. The violence degrades women, the poor writing degrades art, it paints an unhealthy picture of romance, encourages fantasizing, and is an all around disturbing trend.

I'd like to contribute my gripe into the pool: 50 Shades doesn't accurately present one of the most un-talked about aspects of relationships: the awkwardness. Well, I'm guessing it doesn't address it. I haven't actually read the book or seen the movie. Cards on the table? I'm using the 50 Shades outrage/hype to generate more blog traffic. Tacky? Yes. But hopefully the genius kind of tacky.

With the exception of a few romantic comedies, Hollywood tends to gloss over the fact that dating and romantic relationships are incredibly awkward. I don't know about your life, but I don't have a team of writers making sure every ridiculous thing that comes out of my mouth (and believe me, it's a lot) gets a cute, quirky, heartwarming redemption. Usually it's me trying to back track and a guy stammering and not knowing how to respond.

I remember as a little girl looking forward to the day when I'd be allowed to date. (Or court/dourt depending on how homeschooled you are.) Actually, now that I think about it, I may still not be allowed to date. Our family never really established any parameters on that. We just avoided the topic. Because it was awkward.

First, there's the awkwardness of liking someone. Crushes are a horrific curse, and an unrequited crush can kill a piece of your soul from the inside out. You suddenly become hyper aware of everything you do around that person, get teased if anyone finds out, and it puts you in a portion of your head that was never supposed to be accessed. Once while talking to a guy I liked I became very aware of how much I was blinking. Do I normally blink this much? Are my contacts dry? Does he think I'm the worst flirt ever? Should I only wear glasses from now on around potentials? (In general, a good blink algorithm is 1 blink every 5-6 seconds. If your eyes start feeling dry you can increase it to 1 blink every 3-4 seconds.)

Second, there's the actual dating process. If you're dating someone you don't know well (or at all, i.e. online or blind date), just multiply the awkwardness of a typical date with someone you know by 10,000.

A good Christian first date should follow these general guidelines:

Testimonies get shared during appetizers.
Spiritual gifts and love languages are discussed over entrees.
Intentions and boundaries established over desserts. (No matter how well the date goes if he doesn't pay for it with cash from a Financial Peace envelope, it's over. Standards, ladies.)

Finally, there's the awkwardness of a relationship not working out.

Before you date it's a good idea to lay ground rules for a break up. A pre-pre-nup, if you will. If you're dating someone at your church, you need to decide which one of you is going to switch churches if it doesn't work out. (Or switch services/sit on the other side of the megaplex if you go to a mega church.) Even if you guys can handle breaking up like responsible adults, people around you will continue bringing it up, digging for detail worms, and asking for your reasons and feelings behind the relationship's demise. I'd rather discuss the branding techniques of microprocessing chips than talk about my breakup feelings with people who only take interest in me when my love life has some drama.

Still, despite all the awkwardness, people still somehow manage to fall in love and get married. And then the real awkwardness starts.

Well, as much as I'd love to continue this little rant, I have to run. My mom texted earlier to ask me what 50 Shades of Grey is and I told her it was the sequel to Little House on the Prairie. I should probably call her back and make sure she knows I was joking before she dies of multiple heart attacks.

Kristin Weber is a writer, music teacher, stand up comic, and boasts an honorary, self-given degree in sarcasm. She's single, lives with her parents, and just recently traded in her flip phone for an iPhone 5c, so obviously she's qualified to comment on all things relationship. You should join her this summer for a comedy cruise to the Caribbean. Tim Hawkins is on the roster, which is the real reason you should come.