Tag Archives: Facebook

Taralah Takes Over The World!

Okay, so God does the taking over, but he’s using Taralah. So that’s cool!

This is why you should support my dear friend Taralah:

Missions can be scary, but she is embarking on the World Race.

She is the kind of woman who will stop for no man. So rare. Very admirable. We’ve talked about this before. She’s interested, but not looking. One time, as she was helping me wax my legs with Becca (how I miss her), she was explaining how a man would have to be a blatant and strong pursuer to even get her attention. Life just demands too much attention.

She is very hardcore. Her dance conditioning class will kick your butt.

I enjoy telling people about my friend who could easily become a professional ballerina, but who loves the Lord so much more.

Her name is fun to say: Taralahlala, lala, la, la Neff.

If I was more in touch I would have posted this a long time ago. Better late than never! And it’s not like she’s left yet. (Trip commences in October.)

 

Around the world she goes!

Donate here.

Follow and pray for her:

Attend a send off event.

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My Prayer For Us

Well, I have a boyfriend.

When we posted our relationship status on Facebook, one person commented, saying, “Took you guys long enough.”

Well, I hardly had the same reaction. There I was (for the past month or so) thinking, we’ll just be best friends for several months, and then maybe some dating will happen, if he’s even interested.

Hello, Jacquie! Of course he was interested, you’re smarter than that! But I didn’t want to think about it, because being in a relationship feels a lot more uncertain. Once I think about going under the dating banner, a lot more can go wrong in my head.

So the day it became official, I woke up from an upsetting dream feeling anxious, like I wanted to hold off until he was qualified to be my savior. Only Jesus will ever be my savior. So I prayed, “Make him more like you, make me more like you. Let it work in its proper time. Your peace, your gospel—keep driving them deeper into my soul.”

The proper time is now.

Here’s my prayer for us in our new relationship:

“Give me intentionality to be a part of a holy relationship and a heart, your heart, to work and look beyond it. I think I wanted to have such a clear picture of what makes a relationship good that I wouldn’t need you to be involved. Why on earth would you give me that?

“Here’s the reality: every day I suit up to fight a personal battle to make Christ king of my heart. Each morning I rise to crown you again. So long as we both do that, a relationship will be life-giving. Pour out your grace on us. Relationship or not, I am going to run in the same direction, after you alone.

“No wonder the idea of a relationship was disorienting to me. I regarded it as a direction-change. It isn’t. No man will ever be worth turning my head to the right or to the left. It will always be me, training my eyes to look ever-deeper into yours, my beautiful Savior.”


The Blogger’s Impulse

A meta-blog moment: So I’d hate for you to think that I’m getting lazy with these posts, using old poems and discipleship principles. The thing is that I just keep running into old things and thinking, I should post that! Most of the time I reign myself in, trying to decide if I enjoy this or that in and of itself, or simply because it’s fun to look through your own memories. Not every single blast from the past I may have will interest everyone. I realize that.

Other times it isn’t something old, but something that is happening right at that moment. Like conversations with Emilie. Sometimes when she’s talking I tell her, Emilie, if you keep talking like this, I am going to have to whip out my computer and write down everything you say. This is partly because Emilie says profound things, but also because Emilie says them in unconventional ways.

 

Examples:

I love Quinoa. I like to touch it, I like to touch it with my hands. (She was telling me that her speech patterns are sometimes redundant, like Hebrew, because she doesn’t use the adverbial F-word. Thus, this sentence from more profane lips, would be: Quinoa, man. I like to fucking touch it.)

Look, Quail! Don’t hit them! They mate for life! (Obviously, I am only keen on hitting promiscuous animals.)

 

Anyway, sometimes I am unsure about what makes the best blog posts, because just about everything is post-able to me. A string of words rolls on through my brain like a plane pulling a banner, and—no matter how silly—I think, Blog! or I should post it! Since my pattern at the moment is to post something every morning, that means I only get one good thought per day. And we all know that I am so smart that I am constantly having brilliant thoughts! (Please sense my irony.) Since I am a busy girl, studying (hopefully) for the GRE, I tend to get by on the easiest thoughts to write about, namely, the ones that are already written for me. More ambitious posts will come. Some will be great. Others you’ll have to bear with me. If you particularly like something I do here, you should comment and let me know what’s working so I can keep doing it.

What makes a good blog? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself for three years (almost).

Wow. News Flash! I got curious to see when I started blogging and discovered that it’s been over three years. My blog was born July 4, 2008. Happy late birthday, blog!

 

Now I think it’s time to tell you what I’ve learned about my blogging, Facebooking, tweeting, and texting tendencies. I like sharing things that I find entertaining or things that are characteristically me. Even though I’ll never know exactly who my audience is, I think that it’s very important as a writer to establish rapport with my readers. I strive for honesty. The problem is, that if I were perfectly honest here I would have a brain reader that would scan my thoughts and post each one immediately. This is what I find myself trying to do. I try to blog everything I think, because I feel like if you read this, you should know me. If I tell you about one nasty sin habit I’m struggling with, I begin to feel that I need to keep you updated on every new thought I have about it, so you can experience my redemption with me. It really is an exciting process.

This need for honestly is why I also update my Facebook picture often. My hair grows out, or it changes color, or I cut it, and I feel like I need to change my profile picture to give an honest portrait of myself. My profile picture is almost always the most recent portrait I have. Why would I choose an older one? Because I look cuter in it? That’s not honest! (I also have a strict policy that I never untag myself in a photograph.)

 

Anyway, social media, for me, is my way of becoming the kind of writer that I want to be, learning how to captivate people and make them feel like they know me, even when they don’t. This becomes problematic when I find that my sense of well-being starts to come from the ability to share everything. It begins to stress me out when I read something funny and don’t have any place to put it. I put it on twitter, but most of my friends don’t even have a twitter, I use that to connect with other publishers and writers and designers. Then I start texting. It’s nice to share, but not when your soul starts to depend upon it and you have to hold yourself back so you don’t drive your friends crazy!

That’s when the anxiety starts to build and I’m usually not really sure where it’s coming from. That’s when I grab my prayer journal and start writing. The cool thing about the prayer journal is that it has one audience member (or maybe three), and that is (they are) God. He knows me intimately. He treasures deeply every word scribed at him. Or, as I often feel, every word he scribes at me through my own hand. The listening pen teaches me so much about myself.

As I wrote about this anxious feeling that attacked me last week, I realized that I needed to pause before I post and consider the audience who is always already loving and receiving my thoughts. The audience who thought they were important enough to give to me in the first place. Once I’d started to unravel the truth about my feelings, my heart brought me to Psalm 1 (I have very good memories associated with this passage. I first became acquainted with it while white water rafting.): He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

I am connected to the source of all life. He’s in me. I have his spirit, which knows his thoughts, and when I acknowledge them, drink them in, understand them fully, that is enough. I am a tree planted by streams of water, life is always pouring into me. When I rely on being known through this blog or perpetual texts or Facebook, I am like a tree planted far away from the river in some nice little garden. I like it there, but then I have to wait in thirst for my next chance to share, wait for the gardeners to come and water me.

 

Now, I am going to link you to another post that I wrote back in April about what it feels like to be an artist connected to the source of all life. The artist with the father who loves everything she shares with him. I called it Coming Out.

 

Back to my point: never let social media or your phone cheat you out of intimate, perpetual connection with the wellspring of all life. It is so easy to do these days.


The American Adolescent

Here is a rewrite of my presentation on The American Adolescent for Literary Criticism. Some of you may enjoy it, if you like theory. I’ve added links for background info if you’d like to learn more deeply what I’m talking about. Some of these arguments may seem silly, but I do passionately believe that the world needs to expect more out of its young people or we’ll be left with a generation that cannot do anything!

Here goes:

Adolescence first became a class in the twentieth century. It first became a prominent psychological class when Stanley Hall did a study on it in 1904. It may have originated due to social or economic forces or it may have come about because young people were becoming pubescent much younger, therefore requiring an “in-between” stage on their way to adulthood. Whether the cause is biological or not, the primary measure of a youth’s ability to take on the responsibilities of adulthood should not be age alone. It’s like gender. Yes, we have biology, but no, there is not an essential meaning for that gender. Woman-ness is not the most important thing that women have in common.

I would argue that we actually have about four biologically related categories in our society. We have the generally recognized man and woman, but then we also have childhood and adolescence, periods of life in which the expectations for behavior differ drastically from one another.

Adults rule in society. There is very little room for adolescent leadership, but some of these young people are perfectly ready to take on more of the world than they are given. It is the compulsory secondary education that enforces the same period of development and subordination to adults for every teen. The only exception to this is something that we call “legal emancipation.” The term in itself shows that adolescents are not free until they are 18. Even then, society makes it almost compulsory once again for students to get a college degree, which sometimes means growing up, but for many it means extended adolescence. College is just one more phase of life where the student’s job is to think of him or herself above anything else. This idea of compulsory adolescence perhaps relates to Adrienne Rich’s idea of compulsory heterosexuality.

This is a video challenging education paradigms. It suggests that our current system is out dated. We have a very industrial way of dealing with educating children, and, for the sake of efficiency, we group the departments separately, we use separate bathrooms, and we group students primarily by age. And it raises the question: Is the most important thing young people have in common their date of manufacture? Well, it isn’t.

Another way to view the Otherization of adolescents is through the fact that most of their identities are negative. Society defines them in terms of what they no longer have (like innocence) and what they can’t yet do (like get married, or have a job). In this Britney Spears song, we see this negative identity taking shape. She is not a girl and not a woman. Adolescence is just “in-between.” Many cultures don’t have this in-between, so is it really an essential phase?

So adolescence is another layer of otherness that criticism should deal with. We talked in Literary Criticism class about how being female is a layer of otherness. And if you are part of an ethnic group on top of that you are Other squared. But if you are Adolescent, Female, and Ethnic, then you are really Other cubed.

So as an example of what it is like to be an adolescent, I have an urban dictionary definition. “The worst years of your life when your enimies are your friends and your family and your family is you enemy. When girls freakout because they think having a pimple is acne and spend 50 grand on products to cover it up. When guys try to get in a girls pants before they even kissed the girl. Just to be cool around their friends. When everything is a mess. Homework piles to your head and you go on ms/aol/yahoo for at lease half of your day. When coke is not just a drink. Skirts are pulled up to barely cover the ass and pants are pulled down to show half your boxer. If your caught with your parents your social life is over. When people try to buy the most expensive things they can lay their hands on just to fit in. Friends are backstabbers and you life is just a living hell so you make you life seem so perfect by partying every weekend and getting high.” My question is: Why do we put kids in this place? And how does it come to this?

In her essay, “One is not born a woman,” Monique Wittig makes the argument that the concept of race did not exist before slavery. This also applies to adolescence, because, quite literally, adolescence did not exist before compulsory secondary school. She also says that women are a class. So are adolescents. There is an adolescent myth similar to the one Wittig calls the myth of “woman.” That myth is one of rebellion and subculture creation. Not all adolescents would become the image of the mythical American adolescent were it not for their belief in the reinforced constructed identity. And some never become that kind of kid anyway. Some adolescents never go through the “teenage dark tunnel.”

So now, I am going to take a look at Gilbert and Gubar who asserted that women have “anxiety of authorship” as opposed to “anxiety of influence” due to a lack of predecessors. Adolescents are told that they need to be fully developed before they try to achieve anything outside of academics, for this reason, there are very few examples of canonical writing by adolescents. More time should be allowed for students to generate literary work. I know several who would and many others who would not, but we ought to open the doors for students to actually create something substantial, rather than roping them into the impersonality of the school system. It is possible that there could be an adolescent literary cannon.

Cixous has said that women need to write themselves because no one else will. Once again, same to adolescents. Yet we do have young adult fiction. But this is not written by teens, it merely enforces the stereotypes because it entertains themes of: identity, sexuality, science fiction, depression, suicide, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, familial struggles, bullying, and many others. Many of these are relevant to adolescents, but unless they are written by adolescents, the experience cannot really represent the adolescents of today with an inside perspective. Even I could not write a young adult novel that would really be applicable on a deep level to the teens of today. They are practically born with cell phones in their hands. I didn’t have a phone until I was in high school and I didn’t text often or have a Facebook account until I was a high school senior.

There might be a new way to think about adolescence if we take a look at bell hooks’s essay Postmodern Blackness. We need a postmodern adolescence, a more fluid look at what it can mean to be a person that has been alive for 12-21 years. Adolescents are not biologically inclined toward the tendencies that have been constructed to represent their essence. Hooks suggests that there is both a lack of interest by blacks in participating in the critical canon and that there is a lack of audience. So for teens is it a lack of audience or lack of interest? I would argue both. In the present system it would be difficult for students to feel that critical studies are relevant to them. Hence the proverbial student question: How is this relevant to my life? Hooks also says that rap is where many black people find their critical voice. So is there a critical outlet for other adolescents too?

This meme in itself makes the argument that these outlets really are the adolescent venting of their sense of otherness.

Youtube, social media, and memes are the critical channels for today’s adolescents.

Another helpful theorist is Gloria Anzaldúa, this age discrimination might also be helped by her idea of the Mestiza. The idea of adolescence as an inferior state also makes it a candidate for Anzaldúa’s list of liminal identities that make up the mestiza. It is important that the adolescents on the fringes who are most oppressed by the current situation focus on their overlap with people who take part in other liminal identities.

So what about the Cultural Critics? They must be important to this discussion since they spend so much time analyzing youth and their subcultures. I think Stuart Hall’s notion of the distinctions between politics and theory is important to make. Theory, he argues, should always be open, but any political move requires what he calls “arbitrary closure.”  Education is a political thing. It requires some sort of arbitrary closure to make learning happen, and education is important. What we need to do is to keep the theory open to the fact that adolescence is an arbitrary construction based upon a political action.

What Hebdige actually takes note of in his analysis of subcultures is the “Otherization of teens.” They are disarmed through the idea that their garb is “meaningless exotica.” The term exotica shows, in fact the otherization of these groups. They must be otherized in order to be incorporated. This incorporation hinders the ability of kids to actually have powerful political ideas. So this is just one more way that adolescents remain unempowered.

Because culture expects so little of its adolescents, we end up with hordes of directionless teens who turn to media to give them a sense of well-being. The media does not challenge them to move out of this identity. It preserves their adolescent state. The first step in undoing this construction is revamping the educational system. We need to teach them that even before adulthood, they can have real-world accomplishments. That is where feminism began, with education, way back when with Christine de Pizan and Mary Wollestonecraft.

Although patriarchy may seem to have Biblical support, at least the good book is on the side of adolescents:

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).


Good Things Happen on the Kitchen Floor.

Don’t try to clean the kitchen when you are too tired.  It only leads to immeasurable silliness.

One time my roommate Emilie and I had made baked potatoes for dinner. This was the day after she had declared that potatoes were pretty much the least sexy food ever. And they are. But they’re still great. (When I wrote that they weren’t sexy on Facebook, some concerned potato lovers responded, letting us know that they felt we were being unfair to the very filling, versatile, and delicious potato.)

Even though we had eaten potatoes for dinner, we had also decided to make soup to keep around for the rest of the week. (Recipe: every kind of bean you can imagine, chicken, chicken broth, tomato juice.)

I decided to put the soup away. But what bowl would we put it in? I elected to use our large pitcher that I had recently purchased for lemonade.

The pitcher worked fine, but I was far too out of it to worry about getting it all safely into the pitcher. As it sloshed all over the counter, most of it made it into the pitcher. But as soon as I saw the red-brothed, chunky mess through the side of the clear plastic pitcher, I became unbelievably tickled by the inevitable reaction of our other two roommates when they opened the fridge. (Emilie calls it a FRIG. As she points out, refrigerator does not have a “D” in it.)

Since we were both in a mood that made us feel silly even in our arms and legs and feet and fingertips, this little thought was enough to stop us from successfully completing any of our kitchen tasks, especially continuing to pour soup. We melted.

After several minutes of not breathing. I managed to calm myself through a series of deep breaths and suppressed diaphragm spasms.

Within minutes we were both laying on our stomachs, cheeks pressed to the tile floor, marveling at how cool and relaxing the kitchen floor felt against our bodies.

UPDATE: We now sit on the kitchen floor with the lights off almost nightly, eating cookies, and drinking milk. Our roommate Morgan almost always walks by and gives us a puzzled and judgmental look. Last night we had friends over and there were five of us sitting on the kitchen floor, listening to Mumford and Sons, waiting for the cookies cool. Even Morgan and Dalin joined us.


Take-your-Jacquie-to-work Day

Yesterday I followed Morgan Gilbert. I sat down next to her in the coffee shop and enjoyed her presence so much that I followed her right on to work in the theatre office.

While Morgan focused on getting her French essay finished before 5:00, I wrote a haiku about Stuart Hall and Dick Hebdige entitled “Hebdige Looks Down the Hall,” and then read The Heirs of Columbus, a book which I find completely hilarious and incredibly confusing, but, as Fred Johnson put it so well:

“You’re special because when you get confused, you think it’s fun.”

And it is true: confusion makes me feel like a small child in a big world, and weren’t those just the good old days? Everything delighted and surprised you because you didn’t feel like you had to know everything. You would look at a big word and laugh just because it looked strange.

Once Morgan was ready to leave, we put up posters for Broadway Unbound.

I got to be the Tape Girl.

On a side note, if you saw my Facebook status, putting up posters was when I decided that I felt like a Russian princess. I began to feel this way because Morgan let me wear her hat, which, with my trench coat, created an outfit a lot like Anya in the Disney’s Anastasia when she still thinks that she is an orphan; and my hair stuck out in just the right way too.

I love following people into their lives. I think that’s where we get to know them the best, overlapping the tasks that we already have to do.

While I love my single life, I know that if a man decides to join it, that is something that I will need, overlap. Not all the attention in the world, but a lot of intention in being together as we go about our awesome and separate lives, good opportunities to talk as we pick up our groceries or whatever. I’ve rarely had that in a relationship. Guys have always made spending time with me seem like this separate controlled thing that they had to make time for. Couldn’t I just be invited into what you already do? Isn’t that where I would know the real you anyway?

Sometimes we need quality time, but sometimes we just need to take a friend to work.