Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thank You

Most people who click on the link to this blog update probably won't care very much about this entry. I'm just letting you know that right from the beginning. But I'm not writing this for most people. I'm writing this to a group of individuals who deserve to be recognized before they can be "recognized" by the fruits of their labor.

Last night was the last official cast meeting for the Age of Valor: Heritage audio drama that is in the works. I met this crazy cast of actors back in July when they all blew me away in the auditions for different roles. The talent I was presented with and the eagerness with which they all came aboard was really inspirational to me. Through our weekly meetings where we would go over lines and talk about random, crazy stuff that would make our meetings go way over the time they should have, they became more than just voices bringing my characters to life. They became friends. Some of them became like family.

So for my cast...I don't know how to say a proper thank you with my words. You have made me look forward to each and every Monday night and regret that our structured time together is over for now. I loved the silliness as much as I loved when we all buckled down, got into character, and really got into a scene. You have no idea how much you've inspired me. Not only were your kind, encouraging thoughts about the story and the characters themselves heartfelt, they made me even more determined to make the next books in the series something you would want to come back to, to reprise your roles and pick up new ones...something you can be proud of.

Every single one of you brought something amazing and unique to this cast, no matter how big or small your role was, and I am convinced each of you was meant to be who you are. Even if you died. ~_^ Your thoughts about the future of these characters and possible storylines have definitely had a hand in the future of this series and, as you all know by this point, even the silly things will live on somehow. It's all for the lentils, after all.

Thank you so much for bringing my characters to life in a way I never could have on my own. I can't wait until the whole thing is put together and finished so everyone else can finally hear what I have been privileged to hear all along. I hope you will be proud of it. And I can't wait to come back together and do it all over again for book two.

Love you guys.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Adventures in Depression

I'm not exactly sure when it happened. For years I'd managed to keep everything under control, and not just on the outside. Sure, I got good at hiding it for awhile, but at some point I wasn't "faking it until I was making it", I was actually doing all right. And it lasted for quite a few years. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, it hit me. It was this sudden weight tied to my ankles and heaviness in my chest. I knew what it was but I was afraid that if I gave it a name I would be admitting it had returned. I was sad. I was tired. I was lonely.

I was depressed.

For safety sake, I'll say here that this is a trigger warning for what you will find between the stars. And some of what you read may be unsettling. Especially if you only know me as the happy, smiling girl you see at church every week, or the producer who is always giggling and cheerful in cast meetings. You have been warned.

Admitting I was depressed was such a hard thing to do. Harder than anyone knows. *In fact, many don't know that in my early twenties my depression was so bad that I had suicidal thoughts on more than one occasion. I remember nights I happened to be alone in my apartment, sitting on the floor and having vivid imaginations about how to go about doing it. Obviously I never went through with it, but I did find other very unhealthy ways to cope.* I suppose cope isn't the best word to use. Distract would be more accurate I suppose. But back then I had nothing going on. I had precious few friends, health issues no one understood, anxiety beyond description, no job, and no real picture of my future. I saw no way out and I had plenty of reasons to be depressed. Now? Now....everything is so different.

Post Secret

I've never had so many truly awesome things going on at once in my life. Let me tell you, when you ask God to use you and mean it with your whole heart...hang on. Because He'll take you for a ride. Don't ask to be used if you don't really want to be used. I'm just saying.
For awhile last year my relationship with God was a little strained. Not because of Him but because of me. I was questioning everything I thought He was telling me to do, all the while asking to be led in the direction He wanted me to go. I knew I was doing it but I couldn't stop myself. I couldn't trust enough to really, well, trust. It's like I was asking a cartographer for the right road to take, then asking a barber, a shoe salesman, and a blind man what they thought the cartographer's very straightforward directions meant. Texas didn't happen. Ben and I didn't work out. My car....my car... So I kind of kept my distance from God without moving too far away, if that make sense.

I knew, at least I felt, I had disappointed Him. So I kept Him at arm's length until fairly recently, actually. Through a group I was part of at church I had things stripped away and it was like a new beginning for my spirituality. That was when I asked God to use me. It was the true cry of my heart. And He began using me. Sometimes in ways I wouldn't have even expected. But then things He was doing with me and through me were amazing. So when did the bad stuff come back, and why couldn't I get rid of it?

For a few weeks I was having random anxiety attacks over silly things. Sometimes over nothing at all. Then I started having them in the middle of the night. They weren't things that woke me up, but happened in very vivid dreams I couldn't escape. So I'd wake up the next morning exhausted because my body had reacted as though I were having these massive attacks. A very dear friend of mine began praying for me (as I know others were) and the panic attacks subsided. But sleep was still elusive for awhile. I was so afraid of sleep that I did what I could to stay awake. And when I did fall asleep I could constantly wake up in fear of falling too deep asleep. 

Then there is the depression. I'll have you know I have never been happier in my life before than I am at this moment. But I've also never felt more broken. Wounded. Exposed. Raw. Insanely lonely. I hurt, and most days I hurt deeply. And for no reason. I praise God through it all because I know it's what I'm supposed to do (SO thankful for Alanna Story's newest album!)...but it won't go away.

Some Christians believe with everything in them that medication for depression and anxiety is a cop out. They'll tell you that you need to pray harder, or that there is some sin nature that is separating you from God and allowing these oppressive feelings to control you. I say that's crap. I say, unless you've ever struggled with these issues and have been on medication for it, you can't understand. It's not a crutch, it's not something to hide behind, and depression/anxiety not something anyone can willingly turn on or off.

For those who have the time (and can overlook a bit of language) I suggest you read this entry in "Hyperboloe and a Half" as well as part two because they are so accurate. I was there before for all of it from beginning to end. For a long time. I'm not going to allow myself to get there again.

So next week I'll opt to pick up the phone and call someone, a professional who will let me cry in her office while I try and will and pray away this chemical imbalance in my brain that makes me more prone to anxiety and depression than some than cry over a bowl of milk and soggy Wheaties. And instead of worrying about how people are going to judge me as I use to, I'll remind myself of the truth; that there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking this type of help. Science has proven depression and anxiety are not simply "mood disorders" but real medical issues. If someone judges me for looking to correct that chemical imbalance they also judge the person who takes vitamins to make up for deficiencies, who takes cold medicine for a nasty cough...anyone who seeks medical treatment for any medical ailment.

This long-winded post is mostly my confession, but also an offer of encouragement to anyone else out there that may be struggling. Don't ever feel ashamed for asking for help and actively seeking it out. Ever.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Dreaded Ugly Cry


Today is not going the way I had imagined, let's just put it that way. I woke up nervous but excited because a guy who was very interested in my car was taking it to his mechanic to get it inspected and see if it was worth the investment. I prayed. A lot. And I asked others to pray as well. It all seemed so promising. He test drove it the other day and really loved the vehicle. It was an end to a year-long dramatic nightmare for me and a light at the end of a vehicle-less tunnel if he offered me the right price. Maybe I could even get back into an Aztek, my beloved dream car!

Little did I know, the drama was not over.

About a half hour ago, said guy called me from a gas station to tell me he had stopped to fill up the tank, then watched it all pour right out from a hole in the bottom of the gas tank that literally had not even been there four days ago. It is no longer safe to drive and he's sorry, but he doesn't think he'll be buying my car. Well heck no, I wouldn't either! But now I have a car in a town a half hour away from me that I have to somehow find the money to have towed somewhere and worked on. Because nothing with this ridiculous car has been simple, easy, or cheap. And I am so beyond done with it. Beyond. Done. To the point where I'd like to set it on fire and push it off a cliff.

For years I have been without a vehicle and have had to ask to borrow cars or find rides to appointments and meetings, and quite frankly, I am bloody tired of it!

It's days like this when I struggle with trusting God's plans. So I cry. Usually a lot. Today it even hit the ugly cry.  But once I get it all out, there is the chorus to a song by JJ Heller that ALWAYS pops into my head:

 "Sometimes I don't know, I don't know what You're doing
But I know who You are..."

And as the song filters through my sadness and the whirlwind of  "How am I ever going to do/get/figure out.....?!?!" I know it's going to be okay. Might not be today, tomorrow, or even next week. But I know He's got me. And when I let myself remember that, I feel at peace. One of my very favorite verses is Matthew 6:26 because it reminds me,

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

So now I wait, I pray, and see what the next step is. Because I am taken care of. And I do trust that. I will always trust that, even if I have my moments of doubt.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ISIS, Westborough Church, and Robin Williams

As everyone knows there is a slaughter going on in Iraq. Christians are being systematically killed because they refuse to renounce God and, more often than not, still being killed even if they do. Women are being raped and taken as sexual prisoners, men are being hanged, children are being beheaded. Children. All because they believe in and follow the teachings of Christ. This is genocide the likes we have not seen since the Holocaust. And if this does not sicken and enrage you, it should.

Too often on the internet we ignore that which we do not like or simply don’t want to deal with. If we don’t acknowledge it, it’s not really there. Maybe if we post enough Harry Potter gifs or hilarious text reblogs we can forget that hundreds of people are dying. We allow ourselves to become ambivalent, numb, and even will the ignorance to happen. And that is dangerous and the opposite of what we should be doing. These people are our brothers and sisters in Christ. To simply sit here, say, “That’s terrible!” and then turn on Netflix to drown out the noise of the world is not the way we, as Christians, should be dealing with this. Because no matter where you are on this planet, this threat could very well come to your back door as well.

Persecution is coming. It’s been foretold in the Bible. But while we still have our freedom and our voices, there are things we can do. http://www.christiantoday.com/article/crisis.in.iraq.six.things.you.can.actually.do.to.help/39094.htm
We cannot afford to be casual about this. We need to act, and we need to act now.


By now everyone has heard the tragic news of the death of Robin Williams. He was a man beloved by many and will be greatly missed. And this morning I read that Westborough Church will be picketing his funeral. These people claim to act according to God’s will but all they are really doing is giving Christians a bad name. They preach hate and intolerance, which is the opposite of the way a true Christ-follower should act. It’s up to us to show what a true follower of Christ looks like. When we proclaim ourselves a Christian everything we say and do becomes open for scrutiny. Remember that when it comes to things you post and say. Because people are looking to you as an example. Be a light in this dark world, don’t bring about more darkness. Conduct yourselves as though Jesus was sitting beside you, seeing what you’re posting, hearing what you’re saying. Because he is. He believes in the best in us and we should strive to prove that his high thoughts of us are accurate.


The death of Robin Williams has come as a severe blow to nearly everyone. Many have grown up with him as a constant in their favorite movies and television shows. It has been said that those who make us laugh the most are usually fighting the biggest demons, and I believe that to be true. While Robin touched many of us and left so many lasting impressions, he struggled in silence with depression and bi-polar disorder. And unfortunately many people do, Christians especially.

There is this stigma and attitude among Christians that we are perfect, and if we’re not we need to at least fake it until we make it. I believe there are no bigger perpetrators to this than other Christians themselves. Mental and emotional disorders are taboo, and don’t even mention medication for these issues in some Christian circles. It comes with the implication that you are not following Christ close enough, you’re not praying right, that something in your life is wrong. That you yourself are just wrong. This is a stigma that needs to be dispelled. If you need medication to feel normal and able to function, that’s okay. If you need someone to talk to on a professional level, that’s okay. You wouldn’t shame someone for taking a pill because of a vitamin deficiency, would you? Same thing. There is a chemical imbalance that sometimes only medication can fix. We need to be supportive and stop making people struggling to feel less than or imperfect. Because, you know what? We’re pretty imperfect ourselves.

When someone in your life who has had great positive impact passes away the risk of suicide is elevated. When that person is a public figure the number of suicide risks goes up exponentially. I can only imagine how much greater the number when the public figure is as dearly loved as Robin Williams.

If you are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please don’t suffer in silence. There are so many options available for you now, so many resources to make use of.

Talk to a friend or family member. Be honest with your struggles. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help, or for just a listening ear. Sometime it helps to just be able to get it all out.

You are not a burden, and you are not alone. You are a precious gift and worth every moment spent in your company.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

When I Was A Young Warthog

Title has nothing to do with entry. I just couldn't think of anything clever and "Hakuna Matata" was on Pandora. Yes, I listen to Disney on a daily basis. Don't judge me. Moving on.

After days of heat and extremely high humidity, I woke up this morning to temps in the mid-sixties and a humidity percentage below sixty. The sky was clear, the sun was shining, and I decided to take two of the air conditioners out to let the breezes run through the apartment, It's funny how just a little chilly wind can lift your spirits so much. Even Gallifrey is in a better mood, more his peppy self. He, like myself, seems to have trouble breathing in the heat and humidity, and we're both excited to be able to be out on the porch today, just enjoying the weather.

For anyone who lives in the Lakes Region, you've at least heard of Aroma Joe's if not experienced them for yourselves. I am not ashamed to admit that I am addicted to their coffee. So, feeling particularly jovial today, I decided to treat myself because, as they say, they are "wicked good".

It seems like on almost every back road there is construction of some sort going on, so I cranked up my music and just settled in with the understanding that a five minute trip was more than likely going to be closer to fifteen. On the way back home, sitting in a line of traffic, "Never Once" by Alanna Story came on and I was singing along when I was just completely taken over by the love of Christ. Completely out of nowhere. I love that song so much (their version especially) and have sung it more times than I can count, but for some reason today the words really struck me. In particular, "You are faithful, God, You are faithful." And tears came to my eyes as I struggled to even sing along at that point.

How many times have I cried out to God, asking Him to take me out of some situation, to change some circumstance, to really just fix all my problems? How many times did I not get the answer I wanted, or get the answer right away, and sulk like a child whose Daddy isn't giving her what she wanted? Far too often, I am sad to admit. I'm glad He still loves me even when I refuse to put my big girl pants on and stop being a baby. And I am ever-thankful He is always working behind the scenes. But I am most thankful for His patience because I tend to shut down when things are not going my way. I am ashamed to say there are times I'm close to just shutting Him out, too. But He never leaves, even in the moments I give in to my instinct to draw into myself and block everything else out.

I'm at a point in my life where I'm just kind of wandering, wondering what it is God wants me to do, where He wants me, and how He wants to use me. I know I am ready to move, both figuratively and metaphorically. After seeing how this summer is effecting me, Northern Canada is looking good. Only half joking. I'm doing an audio version of my book while I wait to see if anyone I sent my query letters to ( and am still sending them to) gets back to me. Harbinger will have the first episode published next month after FOREVER working on it. I have safety and security in this house full of Godly women who love me and support me. But I feel stagnant. 

If I had my way I would be published, move to Scotland, find a hot Christian man in a kilt, marry him, have babies, and write for the rest of my life. Oh, and I'd have either a yellow or burnt orange Aztek. It is my dream life, after all. And that has been my plan for ages. And that is what I have been moving toward. But I don't think I realized until just very recently that I've been asking God to bless my plans and not asking what it is He really wants me to do. Correction. I have been asking, and I am more than certain He's been telling me, but I am so bloody indecisive and doubtful that I am constantly questioning whether it was His voice I heard or my own, and I end up just sitting on my hands.

In the past few weeks I've had conversations with two different friends about hearing God's voice. One said someone told her that the more you hear His voice but don't listen to it, the harder it becomes to truly hear Him. Makes sense to me. Another friend likened God's leading to the way she expects her kids to react. The policy in her household is, "I expect you to obey me the first time." And I think God works the same way. Now I don't think that means if I don't listen, that's it. He's done. Like a true parent He will remind in some way or another, and maybe even again. But at some point He's going to say, "All right. If you are so determined to do this your way then go for it. I'll be here waiting when you realize I was guiding you along the right path." Not to gloat, not to give you snide remarks or sly looks that say, "I told you so" but to comfort if needed and continue offering guidance. It's always our choice whether or not we follow Him. Sometimes the end results of His plan and our own devices are the same, but the journey is always different. We experience different things. I'll guarantee the experiences on the path God provides are way better for us.

So as I sit here, questioning day after day what the heck I'm here for and what I'm supposed to do with my life, I will continue to trust Him. I will continue to work on trusting Him. Let's just make that statement a bit more honest, shall we?

"Never once did we ever walk alone. Never once did You leave us on our own. You are faithful, God, You are faithful."

Friday, April 18, 2014

This still haunts me

It's Good Friday and I'm sick. My church had a special event set up today with several stations set up throughout the building taking you from the garden up to the crucifixion of Christ, and I had to miss it. I was told it was amazingly powerful and I'm sure it was.

A few years back I listened to a sermon that had to do with the last moments of Christ, and it's a sermon that stays fresh on my mind because of how impacting it was. I'd like to share it all with you now as you go into your Easter weekend.

What you're looking at is an ancient public toilet area in Ephesus. There were no doors, no stalls, not even toilet paper. That little culvert or trough on the ground in front of the toilets was filled with running water. Men using these toilets (apparently women weren't allowed to use them) would have to scoop up water and clean themselves that way before they were done. Well, after a time, some guys came up with a great idea. They decided to put a sea sponge on the end of a long stick, dip it into the water, and clean people that way.

Some people started getting infections from these cleanings, so the men began to use vinegar or wine to disinfect the sponges between cleanings. This is where a revelation comes in. I have to tell you, it's disturbing, and it hurt my heart. I hope it will always hurt my heart.

Luke 23: 36-37 says this: "The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

Think about that for a second. This man was hanging on a cross high above the reach of an arm offering a flask. Jesus was offered wine from a sponge. There's nothing in the bible about this sponge or where it came from, but what do you think the likelihood is that this was some random clean sponge on a stick? This man, who was beaten, mocked, hated by so many...I have a hard time believing they would, in a moment of kindness, want him to have anything clean. So he had this dirty, filth-ridden sponge shoved to his lips to relieve his thirst. He had that taste in his mouth when he died, that smell in his nose. And yet, even as this last cruelty was being done to him, he was loving the ones holding the sponge to his mouth, forgiving them and praying for them.

I don't know why, but out of all the images of the crucifixion, this one is the most haunting to me. It angers me more than the beatings and the ridicule. And it makes me love Jesus with such a fresh wave of emotions that it almost brings me to tears. He did that for me. He endured that for me. How many "modern day saviors" would drink from a sponge that was used to clean people after they went to the bathroom? I could see some taking the beatings and dealing with the harsh words. But this? I can't see anyone willing to do that for anyone else.

I think we take the gift of Jesus' sacrifice too casually on most days. At least I know I do. I hope this image reminds you of how much you are loved, and how much Jesus would take to assure you were forgiven and had an eternal place with him in Heaven.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Answering some questions

Someone over on Tumblr sent me a bunch of questions about writing and I decided to answer them here because it's such a long answer. To see the post in which these questions originate, click here.

Harbinger is still being made into an audio drama, yes. We have about fifteen different amazingly talented VA's doing voices, music, art...it's going to be amazing and our first episode should be out next month! I'll definitely be dropping by FimFiction to let people know. As far as giving any of my other stories the same treatment? Probably not. And that answer goes for fanfic as well. I'm still half a season behind in the show and I've kind of fallen out of the fandom for the most part. While it's still good entertainment I think they're playing to the fans too much now. Slendermane, the moment of severely obvious fanservice with Applejack that I've heard about, something about LyraBon? I'm kind of over it. I know I promised a Harbinger sequel but I don't think that's actually going to happen, much to the sadness of my actors. Fanfic sucks away all my desire to work on my own stuff and that is not good, so I'm trying to stay away from writing any sort of fanfic all together now.

I am definitely working on getting published. Actually, in the next week or two I will have the final draft of my manuscript complete and I'll be diving into the world of literary agents and publishers. I'll be sure to keep everyone posted on that as well! It's the first book in a series, Christian Fantasy but more Fantasy than Christian. I hope people will love it!

Writing original fiction is very different from fanfic in a lot of ways. You don't have established characters, settings, relationships, etc. that you know well. It's all coming from you so you have to get to know them. Sometimes I write little one-shots to flesh them out a bit, see how they interact with others and such. Don't be surprised if you have one thing in mind for a character and they turn out to be something else. One of the characters in my series, Cavalon, was meant to be quiet, reserved, wise and very much in the background. He decided he was going to be annoying, snarcastic, narcissistic, and very much not in the background. I had to reel him in so he didn't steal the spotlight from the main character too much. Which sounds funny but it's true. They take on lives of their own.

For this particular book I just wrote with very little plan in mind. In the end it worked out but I wish I had done it differently. I am now a big advocate of planning out things because it leaves less room for plot holes. Here is what I did for a project I am working on right now.

Once I know what I want to write about, I write down what I know. Names, relationships, anything about setting and scenes. It doesn't have to be in order and it doesn't have to be complete. Just get down what you know so you don't lose it. Trust me, you'll be glad you did. Also make use of a recorder when driving. A lot of stuff comes to me when I'm driving alone and I record it on my phone so I don't lose it. These are the things that are inspiring you to write in the first place so it's so important that you don't lose any of it.

Make a list of characters: Protagonists, Antagonists, and Power Players. The Power Players are important characters to the plot who neither lean too much to good or bad. But they are integral and their absence would disrupt things. Think Discord in MLP after his reformation, or even Kristoff in Frozen who is neither expressly good or bad. Dumbledor is another good example of what a Power Player can be. He is mostly good, definitely not a main character, but important none the less.

Just jot down what you know about them for now, find detailed character sheets online to fill out about them when you get stuck in the planning. Which will happen. Trust me.

Now for the plot. Believe it or not, ending is more important than beginning. If it's just a one story deal, write down where it will end and what is happening, how everything comes together for the great resolve. If it is part of a larger series, now write down these very same things for the overall series. Now figure out the beginning of just that first book. Once that is done, you have a nice shell to work within, But you still need a setting and genre to make things complete.

Are you writing a love story? An adventure? Mystery? It can be more than one but it should focus more toward one than another. That is what will drive your story and keep it from being swept up in needless scenes.

Your setting involves a lot more than landscape, especially if you're writing sci-fi or fantasy. You need to know your magical system, your political system, relations between countries - if there are grudges being held, alliances - who is in power. What is the level of technology, currency, things like this. This part is fun because you're building a world!

Now you start asking yourself "What comes next?" a lot. Look at the basic shell you've created and start filling in scenes. Start at the beginning and ask yourself that question. Write down the answer. Ask again. Rinse and repeat. If you get stuck, find a different scene and ask, "How did it get here?" meaning, what happened just prior to this that made it end up here? If you get really stuck, work on some character sheets for awhile. Spend time with them. Get to know the people whose lives you're playing with. Things will begin to come to you, I promise.

Eventually you will have a brilliant list of scenes and a hefty file full of character sheets. Now it's time to break things down into chapters. A chapter can consist of anywhere from 2-5 scenes, depending on dramatic tension and action. Do this until all of the important scenes you wanted are mapped out and in order of plot progression. Keep going until you have your entire book mapped out from beginning to end, then read it through a couple of times to make sure it flows right. Can you picture it all happening naturally? Does something stick out as not really belonging? Are there moments that drag and have no real importance? There are need to know things.

Once you are comfortable with that, get writing! You already have a map, now it's time to get behind the wheel and drive. It's a fantastic journey that will make you laugh, maybe make you cry, definitely make you want to kill someone (fictional or not) at least twice. And when you reach the end you'll feel like you're saying goodbye to friends you've known your entire life, even if there is another book with them coming.

Really long answer to your question but I hope it helps. I learned this method from another writer (don't ask me who -_-) awhile ago and it has been my formula since. Other writers probably have very different methods. It all comes down to what works for you. If this doesn't I encourage you to seek out other writers whose work inspires you and pick their brains. We're all a little narcissistic and love talking about this to an extent anyway.

There is no place online where my original works can be read since I want to publish them someday, sorry.

I wish you luck on this exciting new venture. Please don't hesitate to ask any more questions, I'd love to help when I can. And also keep me posted! I'd love to see what you come up with!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Frozen Review

This probably goes without saying but this post is going to be riddled with spoilers. Like, you'll be lucky if I don't go through this thing scene by scene, line by line. Okay. maybe that is a slight exaggeration. But only slightly. I've only seen the movie twice, once to just sit there and cry and laugh, once to go in with a more critical eye and not get too swept up in the story. So, let us begin by discussing the characters.

Elsa ~ Elsa is what one could either call a co-protagonist or a sympathetic villain. Here's the thing, she's not given enough screentime or story to really be considered a protagonist but her actions don't exactly make her villainous. She's just kind of there as far as what she is goes. We see right from the beginning that she was born with magical powers that let her create and control snow and ice, and that people in the castle at least are accepting of it. Until she hurts Anna, then it's time to shut her away. At a very young age this character is led to believe that being different is wrong and something that needs to be hidden. Whether she hurt someone or not matters, but the overall theme for Elsa is to conceal, don't feel, don't let them in. Be the good girl you always have to be. And because she can't be, she has to be hidden away. As an adult she has developed this horribly high level of anxiety because she's afraid of herself and what she can do, and she's afraid of people finding out she's imperfect and different.

Anna ~ As the main protagonist of this movie, you can't find anyone more likable than Anna. She's definitely not your typical Disney Princess in that she's totally awkward, a bit of a dork, and tends to speak before she thinks more often than not. She's basically every character Kristen Bell (who voices her) has ever played but that's what makes her so relateable. In true Disney fashion she is a princess who longs for love, though not for the usual reasons. She wants someone to love and to love her because she is so lonely. When she was young she and her sister were best friends who spent all their time together and then, just like that, Elsa became a shut-in who all but ignored her existence. When their parents die it leaves her completely alone except for staff for three years. Heck yes, I'd be longing for a Prince Charming, too!

Kristoff ~ I don't know why but I'm kind of ambivalent about this character. He's an orphan who was raised by trolls, sells ice for a living, and is best friends with a reindeer he talks for. He's not a people person, either. So when he meets Anna and ends up helping her find Elsa his snarkasm is quite tainted by the fact that he hasn't had much socialization. But the banter is quite amusing and witty. He ends up falling for Anna of course, and is fairly one-dimensional until near the end when he rushes back to Arendelle to save Anna.

Hans ~ Oh this character. I hate this character because he deceived me! I really liked him until it turned out he was the villain. He's charming, also random, but it's clear he is a good leader and it seems he truly cares about taking care of the people of Arendelle. Anna leaves him in charge when she leaves to find Elsa and he slides into the leadership role perfectly. He could have had everything he wanted without the duplicitous-ness but no, he had to be an idiot and screw all that up. Jerk. I was rooting for you!

Olaf ~ The snowman who dreams of summer. Olaf is the quirky sidekick who also serves as a plot device, albeit a very small one that was handled poorly. He's constantly falling apart and, for me anyway, walks the fine line between being amusing and annoying.

The Good

Overall, I loved this movie. The music, the scenery. THE FEELS. Even before I saw it the first time I would listen to the music and cry. I relate to Elsa so much that it literally brings me to tears. The scene where she is pacing in her ice palace and everything is turning red because her anxiety is about to go out of control and make her powers act in accordance....ugh. I just can't. She's repeating to herself that she's got to get it together, to control it and I have so been there. Anna telling her earlier that what she's done is no big deal, that she can just fix it if she tries is so reminiscent of someone with depression or anxiety just being told to get over it and try to feel better. Unless you're afflicted with something you just don't know how disabling it is. I've felt that pain of both isolating myself and feeling like I've lost everything. So this movie gives me feels to the enth degree.

I loved that there was so much texture in every scene. You could almost feel how silky Anna's hair was, feel the gauzy texture of the sheer on Elsa's dress and cape, feel how light and weightless some of the snow was, how cold and unforgiving Elsa's shackles were. There were small subtle sparkles in the snow and a shimmer to Elsa's eye shadow. Pleats in Anna's dress that expanded and retracted like an accordion when Anna twirled. Just so many wonderful visual things. Not to even mention to music. Every song, every instrumental piece was gorgeous or funny or FEELS. There's just so much to love about this movie!

The Symmetry

I'm really glad I went to see this a second time because it allowed me to be a bit more critical and see things I didn't pick up on the first time. There's actually a lot of subtle symmetry in this movie that you don't notice first go around. Like, there are a lot of doors in this movie. Anna always knocking on Elsa's door, the first line of Anna and Hans' duet, the door they hide behind during the song, the song itself. Anna taking forever to knock on the door at the ice palace and then when she finally does, having it open for her which no door has ever done for her before. The gates slamming closed between them when Kristoff brings her back to Arendelle. The door being locked when she and Hans are talking and then again after. Just really good continuity.

I loved the symbolism of the gloves Elsa wore as well as the gloves Hans wore. Both characters wore gloves when they were hiding their true selves. Elsa finally took hers off when she felt free enough to let everything go, and Hans took one of his off when he began to reveal his dastardly plan to Anna. It's a small thing but one I appreciate so much as a writer.

Then there were character quirks that just made me squee. Elsa has a tendency to roll her eyes, bite her lip. Anna plays with her hands when she's nervous or scared, she awkwardly tucks her hair behind her ear. These are things people do in real life and I love that they throw that realism in there.

What They Missed

I was actually kind of surprised that there were as many moments of, "this could have been so much better if..." as there were. The big one for me though was character development. I know it was not even a two-hour long movie but make it two and a half and give us character development. Give us those shots of Elsa in her room each time Anna knocks so we see that Elsa is really struggling and hurting so much more than Anna knows. Yes, people love her and relate to her but that was such a missed opportunity for me. She had development but it wasn't enough. Same with Anna, though she really had almost no development as a character at all. No one really did. I didn't care about Kristoff because I knew nothing about him.

The moment Anna and Kristoff meet Olaf there is this moment where Anna realizes he's the very same snowman Elsa created when they were small and this scene bugs me the most. It was pretty much a, "I have had no memories of this crazy power my sister has or YOU up until this very moment but whatever, it's cool, let's keep going." Seriously? This was an important moment! We could have been given flashbacks of all those memories that were replaced by the trolls turning back into true memories. Anna could have given a little gasp, clutched the toggles on her cape and said with a wide-eyed expression, "I remember!" It was just such a flat moment for me.

Another one was when Kristoff told Anna he was going to take her to someone who could help her after her sister shot her through the heart. Anna asked, "Who? The love experts?" Kristoff said yes, Anna replied, "How do you know they can help?" At this moment he turns around to walk backward and answers, "I've seen them do it before."
Okay, great. Does that mean he remembers the trolls helping Anna when she was little or that he just remembers them helping some random kid? The screenwriter said on Twitter that Kristoff did know it was Anna and that was his moment of revelation, and my immediate thought was, "Wait. What?" Again, a moment that could have been made a bit deeper by Kristoff saying something like, "When I was a kid they helped this girl. I don't really remember much, but she had this white streak..." And then his eyes go wide and he hastens her along. Anna wouldn't have had to pick up on it but it would have let the audience know without a doubt that he remembered the whole thing and knew it was her.

In my happy dream world Anna and Hans would have ended up together. In my secondary, less happy dream world she could have ended up with Kristoff but Hans isn't a class A swine and is actually a pretty nice guy. He does his best to try and help Elsa once she's captured and they end up falling for each other. It's that sniveling twit from Weaselton who send his men to try and kill Elsa in the end and it can all be wrapped up the same way it did in the actual movie. Anna can still save her and it could still be the true love of her sister to save her. But then both sisters would have found romantic love as well. Because I like that, okay?

Last thing, and this is just nit-picky. I kind of wish they had given Elsa one final costume, something that merged her ice dress with her Arendelle style. After all, the palace itself was a mixture of both, why not the clothes she wore? She was merging her two lives, wasn't she?

Also, how can you have Jonathan Groff in your cast and give him one measly tiny barely-a-song song? How is that even possible?

Wow, that was long. Despite my issues with parts of the movie I truly did love it and would not hesitate to see it again and again.

And cry each time.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

As Long As You Look Good

Because I was supposed to move almost 2,000 miles away this summer, when I told my Cardiologist that I was leaving when last I saw her in June, she gave me all my files, wished me well, and sent me on my way telling me to find another doctor in Texas as soon as I could. Well the move didn't happen and when Venus died I kind of freaked out and realized I needed to get back to see someone. So I called to set up an appointment with the doctor I had up here in October and was just able to get in to see her last week.

Any other physician and I would have probably tried to find someone who could see me sooner. By the time I got in to see her it would be seven months since I'd had a check up and I'm supposed to go every three to four months. But I really like my doctor. She's thorough and really went to bat for me when I needed some medical back-up. So I waited until January and then went to my appointment so I could wait a couple of hours in the waiting room. Not only is she hard to get in to see but she is NEVER on time. But again, she's a doctor worth waiting for. And the waiting room is always filled with chatty people. This particular visit was no different.

As it would turn out two different couples, both at least in their seventies, came in for two separate appointments. They sat across from each other and started chatting about old age and how it's no fun, then of course the wait time. But then something happened. The wife of one couple said to the other, "You know, you look awfully familiar." Well it didn't take long for all four of them to realize they had all once been a part of a group of very best friends. They used to go out dancing and having fun, and they hadn't seen each other in at least thirty years! It was the coolest thing to watch and hear, the sharing of memories and remembering fond times. Of course talk eventually turned to who was still alive and who wasn't, but even that was special to see. Each person had fond memories attached to them and there was so much history to share.

Conversation traveled to how, now that they were older, there was less and less interaction with the outside world and friends among both couples. One of them mentioned perhaps going to brunch at the Elk's Club, and then snickering and chatter about the club followed. One woman said there was a man who went to her church who used to be part of the club and has now had a sudden "turn around" and much gossip was shared on the double life of this friend. Then the other woman, at the conclusion of that particular topic, said, "Well, as long as we look good, right?" and my heart kind of broke.

How many of us think like that, Christians especially? As long as we look good it doesn't matter what thoughts go through or head or what we do in our secret lives. As long as we show up every Sunday, drop something in the offering basket, sing when we need to sing and pray when we have to, it's all good. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

It's easy enough to say we believe in God and to look like we're following His ways but that is a dangerous way to live. Your outside will be lovely but your inside is filled with turmoil, lies, hurt, anger, all the things you want to keep hidden. And slowly but surely you begin to rot from the inside out. It won't take long before your outsides match your insides, and then...well that's just going to be a mess that no one wants to clean up.

I find myself slipping into that state of mind from time to time. Trust me, I am no angel. I do go to church every Sunday, attend small group, pray, do all the things "good Christians" are supposed to do but there lies a bitter seed in my soul. It lies within even the most pious and devout of us. If we don't stop to take inventory and truly invest in ourselves as well as each other then we're just among those waiting to rot.

Whatever walk you're walking, own it. If not to be honest with those around you then simply to be genuine with at least yourself. Don't go to church because you feel like it's something to check off your to-do list, do it because you want to be there. God doesn't want lukewarm believers. He wants you on fire for him or He wants you to take a step back until you're ready to be on fire for Him. Give because you want to give whether it be money, time, love. We are not employees of Christ, but meant to be his living examples. Let everything you do mirror the love of the Father. He is never anything but genuine. We need to do the same or eventually our outsides will catch up with our insides.

On another note I will definitely be doing a review of "Frozen" soon. I'm going to be seeing it again tonight and will be a bit more critical so I'm not just oozing, "OMG SQUEEEE!" fangirl moments. But until then, bask in Else's fabulousness.


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