Friday, September 30, 2011

these are a few of my favorite things

In English class, my professor put us into groups and commanded us to talk about our different writing methods.  One of which was--what do you do to get over writer's block?  Me: I ramble and rant until something sensible comes out of it.  I think I can oftentimes agree with playwright Christopher Fry: "My trouble is that I'm the sort of writer who only finds out what he is getting at by the time he's got to the end of it."  Just as clarification, I don't actually have writer's block now.  But rambling...let's just say that it comes naturally to me.

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Speaking of class, I've been having this little self-conscious period with myself that's really quite ridiculous.  Because I'm going to a local community college full-time even though I'm still in high school, I'm the "little kid."  I hate being the little kid...hate being known and stereotyped as such.  I do my best put on the front of being a college freshman.  But it doesn't always work.  Long story short, this one super nice guy in my English class that I'd been talking to each class discovered my little secret.  Sadness.

I feel as if all teenagers are constantly focusing on getting older--growing up--or at least looking like it.  Sure, I feel that way sometimes, but not around my close friends.  Heck, I have friends in such an age range that my feeling-like-the-little-kid-ness and feeling-like-the-big-kid-ness are kinda balanced out by now.

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I have been listening to a lot of House of Heroes and Twenty One Pilots, and little else.  Did I ever tell you...no I don't think I did!  A couple weeks ago I went to a [free] House of Heroes and Twenty One Pilots concert, all for House of Heroes of course.  They were great.






And I got to meet Tim Skipper afterward. :)



What surprised me though was Twenty One Pilots.  I hadn't really listened to them before, and while their part of the concert ended being a little too chaotic for me (SO.MUCH.CROWD.SURFING), I have since been listening to their music.  It's not what I usually call "my type" at all, but I like it.  It's unique and clever.



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ALSO!  The weekend after that happened, I got to see Tenth Avenue North in concert.  <3  I love them, seriously.  I'm pretty sure they have written a song for every time of my life that I've been through.  They're my comfort music.  I wanted to find them afterwards and give them all big hugs and say, "Thank you and I love you," but I didn't know where they got off to.  Still, it was wonderful, and I was in the very front row--meaning Mike came down and was basically singing in my face.


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Sometimes it's good to take a break from my busy schedule, stick a piano roll into our player piano, and sing oldies with Tess at the top of my lungs.


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My mom has been for a long while in the slow and steady process of redecorating our living room.  We have this huge cozy perfect armchair that has been my precious for as long as I can remember.  Only, it's pink.  So now that the theme of the room has been changed to purples and browns, the chair is being recovered in purple material.  In other words, it's gone temporarily and I have no comfy armchair to snuggle into for studying or reading or typing or napping.

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This is me being half creatively photographically artistic, and half vain.  Heehee.





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Emma.  We've had a couple weeks of rehearsal, and I'm having such fun.  There was, of course, a little trepidation about having to be the main character and the pressure that infers but honestly, I love Emma so much that it's all good.  I'm SO happy to be her--I just can't get over how good God is to give me the part of this character that I adore so much.  We laugh a lot at rehearsals.  Oh, and I'm just beginning to realize that I'm going to have to work hard to balance college homework and memorizing/studying 330 lines.


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Some of you may recognize this girl and her blog.  A couple weeks ago, we got talking about...well, The Help at first, and then various other things that we have in common (there seem to be lots...).  Since both of us have never written someone we don't know personally but have always wanted that kind of penpal, guess what happened?  YES--we decided to be snail mail penpals, which even now has me super excited.  I got my second letter from her yesterday and it made my day.  Of course.

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friday favorite things | finding joyI don't think this is going much of anywhere else, so I'm going to take my leave.  Besides, it's about time to get out of my pjs if I have to go babysit tonight.  Did you catch my Friday favorites?

What are some of your favorite things that you've been up to lately?  And can you believe that October starts tomorrow?  Sheesh, time does fly.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Help


Dear, dear me.  This review is so long overdue, and honestly, I've put it off so long because I just don't know how to describe all of the wonderful brilliance of this story.


I read The Help after a friend lent it to my mom and sister, and the two of them raved about it.  I think I was through it in two or three days--I just couldn't put it down.  It's Kathryn Stockett's very first novel, and it's incredible--seriously the best modern fiction I've come across in awhile.  Set in the 1960s when discrimination and racism were rampant and the Civil Rights movement was getting underway, this book tells the story of three women.


Aibleen is the maid who tries to follow the rules, bite her tongue, and do her job.  She minds her own business, except when it comes to Mae Mobley, the little white girl she raises who gets no love from her mama.


Minny is Aibleen's best friend, but she's never been good at keeping her tongue under check.  Her story begins when she loses her job with Hilly Holbrook, the conniving woman who would like to control every white woman's thoughts and treat every black woman as horribly as she can get away with.


Skeeter has just graduated from college, and isn't as interested in husband-hunting as her mother would like.  Instead, she wants to write--she wants to write something important.  She wants to collect the stories from black maids like Aibleen and Minny on what it's really like to work for white families.


But it's risky business, going against society--and Hilly--like that.


After devouring the book, I couldn't wait until the movie came out (I might have watched the trailer multiple times when I was bored.  Maybe.).  When it finally did, my mom, Cassie, and I all went to the movie theater to see it.  It was packed there.  I'm telling you, this story is popular.  We couldn't all sit together because it was already so filled up.


The Help was one of those rare movies that actually did a decent job at following the book from which it came.  There were, of course, things that needed to be changed/shortened/taken out, but altogether I was satisfied with how well it followed the novel (and trust me, if I'm satisfied, that says something).


But even besides that, it was just a good movie.  Just like it was a good book.  The movie made me crack. up. at certain places, and at other times I wanted to cry.  But most of the time I'm pretty sure I sat there grinning from ear to ear stupidly in love with the story and everything.


Note: the only thing objectionable in the movie is some language.  But it could be worse, and it kinda gives the realistic feel for the time, if you know what I mean.


Viola Davis as Aibleen--oh she was wonderful.  Well, I'm going to say that about all of them.  When she had Mae Mobley repeat back to her the "You is smart.  You is kind.  You is important." phrase, I wanted to burst into tears; it was so sweet.


Minny was played by Octavia Spencer, and she portrayed the sassy best friend hilariously.  Some of her best scenes are when her sarcastic comments go right over the head of Celia.


Celia Foote is the blondest girl ever who just wants to be able to cook but has secrets to hide nonetheless.  Jessica Chastain as Celia wasn't exactly what I had pictured, but she did an excellent job and was really funny.


Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly was absolutely despicable.  Ohh, I wanted to hurt Hilly so bad throughout the entire book, and Howard did a good job of making Hilly horrid and nasty but not a two-dimensional villian; she sincerely thinks her cruelty is justified.  Dang I hate her.


And now, as for Emma Stone, who played Skeeter.  She wasn't really what I had pictured either, but she ended up fitting the part very well, accent and all.  Plus, I like Emma Stone anyway (don't know why since I hadn't actually seen her in anything before this...=p).  The frizzy-haired, madly-writing, trying-to-find-her-place-and-make-a-difference character of Skeeter was perfect, even if different from what I expected.



I also have to add that personally, one of my favorite things about the movie was Sissy Spacek playing Hilly's mother, Mrs. Walters.  She was hysterical.


I loved all the 60s fashion too--the cute dresses, colorful pants, and poofy hair.  It was great.


Basically, all in all, you should go read The Help and watch The Help.  That is the long and short of it.  You won't regret it, I promise.


And if you've read or seen it/when you do, I want to know what you think and if you love it as much as me.  (:

Friday, September 23, 2011

what's in a name?

There's something to a name.  Do you know what I mean?  You are your name.  It doesn't define you, yet...it does.  It is you.  And there's sometime to be said for the actual use of it, I think.  When you want to know someone, you start by knowing their name.  And there's a special something--subconscious, perhaps--when someone doesn't just talk to you generally, but they use your name.


Yours.  It belongs to you.  Or maybe, you belong to it.


Think about it.  There are people I know who rarely say my name.  Not that it bothers me at all...it's just something I've been musing over.  How much better is it when someone not only says, "Hi," but "Hi Jenn"?  It adds a meaning, a depth, a recognized individuality.  A level of something that shows that the person speaking your name cares.


It maybe...almost...shows that that person wants to know you.  Starting with that most basic and key of things--your name.  Starting by reaching out in that personal way.  Starting by acknowledging that they've begun to know who you are.


Your closest friends come up with their own names for you.  You don't give your name to people you want to avoid.  There's something truly special and meaningful about the name that is attached to your person and personality.


I believe in using people's names.  If you know it and if you know them, speak it.  After all, why not?


Think of when God says our names.  He called Moses by name, from the burning bush, and great things took place.  He called Samuel by name, at night, and got his attention.  And us, even us, he calls by name and saves.


Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  Isaiah 43:1


God's word tells us over and over and over again to call on God's name.  It has power.  And when he gives us his name, we have that power in his name.


Revelation reiterates countless times how our names will be made new--we will be recreated--no longer identifying with our mortal sinful selves, but with a God who is eternal and perfect.  And the ones who get a new name?  The ones who are given God's name?  How are they described?


Victorious.  Triumphant, joyful, purposefully winning, in Jesus.  The victorious are rewarded for their perseverance and faith.  For following even when hope looks lost and far away.


what if I told you we were so far away?
what if I told you--would you go with me anyway?
what if I told you we were so far, so far away?
--
we gotta hold onto hope
in this heartless world we gotta hold onto hope


That last book of the Bible spells it out.  And look how important that name feature is: for those victorious--Jesus will never blot out your name from the book of life, but acknowledge it before the Lord.  Wowzers.


To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.  //  The one who is victorious . . . I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God . . and I will also write on them my new name.  //  Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.  //  To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.  //  To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.  //  The one who is victorious . . . I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.


Beautiful, no?  But one of my very favorite verses is this one:


To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.  Revelation 2:17




A white stone, with a new name, known only by me and Jesus.  That name--I'm telling you--that name has got to be something extraordinary.  And not only is that name wonderful, it is individual.  Jesus gives it just to me.  He has called me by name.  And so I follow.


dear God, I was terribly lost
when the galaxies crossed
and the sun went dark
dear God, you're the only north star
I would follow this far
--
for he is the saving grace of the galaxies
he is the saving grace of the galaxies


It's just astounding, isn't it?  The fact that Jesus calls me, calls you, personally.  "Jesus did not die for all of us; he died for each of us."  And take a look at this:


But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  1 Peter 2:9


God's special possession.  oh.my.gawsh.  I, Jennifer Noelle, am God's special possession.  Chosen.  It's a crazy beautiful thing, this name-calling.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Many Times

 
entering this photo of my beeeaUtiful friend Ruthie into "a touch of sun" photo challenge at iheartfaces.
isn't her hair the most unfair thing you have ever seen in your life??


I wonder why it is that my poetic inspirations always strike at roughly 1am.  Hmm.  I need to work on the coordination of that a little.


Also, with the prodding of my sister, I wrote chords to this and made into a song.


Thoughts, anyone?



How many times have I curled in a ball
Watching and waiting as the world falls
On my shoulders
Like an eight-ton boulder

How many days have I stood in the rain
Under the hurt and the fear and the pain
As tears and rain mingle
And I wait for one single

Day
To wipe away
The stains and the scars
With which my heart is marred

How many nights have I cried until sleep
Morning brings reminder, not relief
From the confusion
Is it just an illusion?

How many times have I turned numb
Knowing I need something—Someone
But it’s too great a cost
I’m alone and I’ve lost

My mind
I need to find
My way through this mess
But I only can guess

How many cases have I caved in
Bruised and battered and torn by my sin
And my heart breaks
How long can I fake?

How many hours have I wished it gone
Known to get up, push forward, go on
My strength fails
I just want to bail

And sigh
Time ticks by
Wasted and forgotten
Riddled with my questions

How many moments have I asked You why
As I struggle and flail and bitterly cry
You stand in place
Tears stream down Your face

How many instances have I been so blind
“Those who seek—they will find”
Yet I fail to see
Wrapped up only in me

Myself
Soon there’ll be none left
But my struggles and wars
I can’t fight anymore

How many times has the fear held me tight
Gasp and grasp and reach as I might
How many times have I pushed You away
Because I refused to see the light of the day
And the guilt gives no rest
Though I’m trying my best
Pain won’t set me free
I can’t seem to see
I’m losing, I’m losing, I feel so alone
I’m lost, tired, broken, in need of a home
And—

You touch me—that is all
But it’s enough to break my fall

How many times have you lifted my eyes
To yours and they take me by surprise
Filled with love and tears
You never left all those years

How many times have you shown me your grace
As you wipe the tears from off of my face
You didn’t give up on me
And now I can see

At last
Pain’s not past
But you whisper a bet:
“Darling, there is hope yet”

Friday, September 16, 2011

wanderlust: Northeast USofA


Part two of what I have previously called our epic, long, exhausting, thrilling, wonderful family vacation took place in the northeastern states after we made our way out of Canada.  Even though this happened a month ago now, there are too many wonderful adventures and pictures not to share it with you.





Our first day in Maine was spent in Bar Harbor, near Acadia National Park.  My dad went hiking for the day while the rest of us went to the bar (in low tide one can walk across it from an island to the mainland) and saw the town.



It rained all. day. long. without so much of a pause, so I carried an umbrella rather than a camera for most of it. We stopped for coffee, and the town of Bar Harbor itself was adorable, full of little shops and caf├ęs.  I bought myself a bracelet.  =)





We also went out to view the stormy but beautiful ocean--wet all the while.  There was more ocean to be seen the next day, most of which was spent driving.  But we were able to stop at various beaches and coasts, and Cassie and I had mini photo shoots.






Uhhmm...no, we're not vain.  Why do you ask?




Strangely enough, Maine looked just as I expected it to look.  And it's not like I had any expectations going in the first place...it just looked very much as Maine ought to.




Even with it's beautiful coastline, Maine has pathetic little lighthouses.  They were short and squat.




During this leg of the trip, Grant and I were making our way through all three movies of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, watching them on his iPod.  Just making things more epic, you know.  When we got to the house where we were staying in Portland, Maine, Grant and I both slept up in the loft and stayed up much too late watching it.  ;]



Grant and I have a very special relationship.  He's my brother...my younger brother, so that often makes for trouble, but seriously, I love this guy.  He's so much fun to be around.




Awesome reflection in his spiffy shades here:



We did a ton of wading and picture-taking, as you can see.





My little sisters are so adorable.




We didn't actually see the city of Portland until the next day, when we spent a bit off time exploring its cobblestone streets and expensive shops.


Then there were of course more beaches to be visited, more wading to be done, more photos to be taken.  And more sad, short lighthouses to laugh at.



And then the drive to Boston, with its lovely view, began.



From the first, Boston was one of the places I was most looking forward to seeing.  With its history and everything, it just appeals to me.  So I was excited.


I can't get over how hilariously awkward this picture is.


We rode the metro or subway, which is also called the T, into Boston.  In the station, we saw this sign.


Ahahahaa, it's the best ever.  See, our family has this joke where we call trolleys "Charlies" because that is how Tess pronounced it when she was little (I'm pretty sure we've confused her so much that she doesn't know the difference anymore).  I don't know what these Charlie tickets are for, but it totally made my day.



We walked part of the Freedom Trail through Boston, seeing old state halls, government buildings, libraries, and historical sites such as the place that the Boston Massacre took place.


I find old graveyards fascinating.  We got to see where John Winthrop, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, and various Boston Massacre victims were buried.  It makes history very real.



My younger siblings had a fun time eating in the park, which included throwing food on the ground until we had a whole entourage of squirrels and pigeons ready to attack us for more.



There were many beautiful old parts of town that we got to see, and we also drove through Harvard, which is like a town of its own.  That night we visited with an old friend of my mom's--one she worked with as a flight attendant back in the day.  We had dinner with her and her family, and the next day headed out into Boston again.



Following the Freedom Trail the next day, we saw the USS Constitution, the oldest warship still afloat.  We also visited Old North Church, the famous place where the lanterns were hung for Paul Revere, and Paul Revere's house itself.



There were gardens and statues and history everywhere.




The Bunker Hill monument was the high point of the day...literally.  We climbed 294 steps to the top (where there was a shaft one could look down all the way to the bottom), and man--that many steps makes you realize how out of shape you are!  I was dying at about 75.  ;P



But the view [and sense of accomplishment] was worth it.  There was an awesome aerial view of the city and the St. Charles River.


After that we walked past more old buildings, quaint shops, and statues and fountains back to Fanuiel Hall, where there were touristy shops and booths and markets.



This was my movie star day.  So-called because I was wearing my movie star color (it's the one that's the best on me =]) and what with my scarf and skirt, I felt pretty.  Always a good thing.




After dinner with my dad's cousin, falling into bed, and actually being able to sleep in a bit, we headed out for our last vacation day.  Oddly enough, for the past five or so days I had been having super long, vivid dreams.  Weird and random, I know.


Our last day was relaxing and perfect, spent at a New Hampshire beach, swimming [geez is that water cold], eating, tanning, reading, photographing.  My memory card reached its capacity that day--perfect timing.



The ocean is my friend.  And this photo makes me want to believe that we rule the world.


After that, we concentrated on packing up for the long ride home.  As good and amazing as everything was, I was so ready to sleep in my own bed and not to live out of a suitcase.




And that is all.  Our extensive and wonderful vacation, full of ups and downs.

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."  -St. Augustine