You taught me the courage of stars

It has been almost an ENTIRE YEAR since my last post on this blog. Wow. The past few months have been incredibly…intense? Just, a lot has happened and I don’t know if I want to talk about all of it. It’ll probably come up in future posts. But anyways.

It’s my senior year at university and the class of 2019 is started to prepare for graduation. Terrifying? Yes.

I’ve jumped on WordPress to kind of play round with my blog’s look, and the theme, because customizing and finding new templates is pretty addicting. But I’m returning to this blog to just talk about my plans for this year–what you, my lovely followers, can expect from me, content-wise. I really want to write more about MBTI, true crime, conspiracy theories, in addition to my focus on literature. I want to continue posting essays on here and other creative works, but 2019 is going to be the year I

  • start a podcast!!!
  • start a youtube channel
  • start a graphic novel about Lewis and Clark
  • (eat 1000000x more healthy than I do right now 😏)
  • graduate university!!
  • build my art portfolio

Yes, that is…a lot. If you’re doubting all of this will actually come about, I’m right there with you. But I’m setting these goals up just as a kind of vision, to let ya’ll in on what I’m hoping to tackle in the coming months.

I was looking back into this blog’s dusty archives and found old posts about my past writing endeavors, including a historical novel with a main character named Diana. I actually have a printed and bound version of this story that I finished when I was 14. It’s truly horrendous, but it’s also quite entertaining to flip through when I need to laugh. 😁

Anyways, I’ve kind of shifted into trying out different mediums, such as the graphic novel/webcomic? I really think this will be a fantastic way to develop my skills and push myself out of my comfort zone. Right now, all I draw is people (usually Kylo Ren and Rey from Star Wars). Just the people. White background. Yeah. 🙄 I have a lot of territory to cover.

Also, I really want to kind of change my brand? Or my vibe that I put out online? Or at least kind of…upgrade it? That sounds so unnecessarily technical. But yes, I have a good number of ambitions this year, as far as content-creating goes.

I think back when I wrote about attending college, like four years ago….I was planning on majoring in literature and getting a concentration in studio art. The studio art part of this plan did not happen. I’m not sure why…but I just struggled to enjoy the assignments or projects for whatever classes I was taking for art. I was wanted to draw what I wanted, and the professors were really great, but the classes were way more technical than I preferred. I think I was looking for more of a CalArts style education, but my university is very traditionally focused (i.e. ceramics, oil painting, sculpture), and all of it is very centered around emulating an abstract style. I think I could’ve benefitted more from it, but I just felt stifled and wanted to do my own thing in my own time. Sooooo, yeah. A long-winded explanation about my lack of an art concentration.

So, what did I even DO since last March when I posted my last blog entry?

It has been a year. Last summer my grandmother, Mary Ellen, passed away after suffering multiple strokes. I miss her badly but I know she’s with my grandfather, they’re together again in the presence of Christ.

My grandfather passed away when i was 4. I don’t remember him too well since I was so young, but over the years I’ve loved listening to stories from my mom, grandmother, aunts, uncles and older siblings about how my grandparents met in Munich, Germany, married overseas, and started a family in Texas. My mom is hoping to write a book about my grandmother growing up in the Depression-era Bronx, and her very full, wonderful life that is detailed beautifully in her “Grandma book” that she gave my older sister years ago.

It’s still really odd, going home and knowing she’s not there anymore (she lived with my family). I can’t forget that day in July, 2018. My mom told me I should come home–I’d just moved into my new apartment near school, but my grandmother was fast fading, and the doctors knew she didn’t have much more time. We’d known for months that she most likely wouldn’t be with us much longer. The strokes she suffered took a major toll on her health. It was kind of a slow, long process of grieving, because the months leading up to the day she passed away, my grandmother lost the ability to walk or move around on her own and talk clearly.

Honestly, I’m getting a lump in my throat writing about this…

So, last July, I was on the way home because I wanted to say goodbye to my grandma one last time. I was at a stoplight and my mom texted the family group chat, telling us that a few minutes before, my grandmother had passed away, that she was now in heaven with Grandpa. I remember just…sobbing. I could barely drive…can’t believe I even made it home. I still wish so badly I’d stayed at home the night before so I could be there when my grandmother passed on. It is still so painful to think that if I’d just left a little earlier, I could have made it to see her in her final moments. When I got home, I went into my grandmother’s bedroom. I remember seeing her. Gone. I knew that she was in a better place, her soul freed, in Christ’s presence. But walking into that room, seeing her lying there on the bed. It’s haunting. I have nightmares about it sometimes.

My grandmother was always full of spirit, life, vitality–I got my creativity from her. Throughout her life, she poured her heart into her family and her hobbies and of course her faith. She was a devout Catholic–she met my grandfather in Mass, actually. She knew so much about history and books and she could always quote poems off the top of her head. She stenciled every room she could in lovely little designs. Her shelves brimmed with knick-knacks and books. My mom called her tendency to collect mountains of books “The Book Pox”. Definitely something I’ve contracted since birth! 😂

I want to reminisce more about my sweet little grandma in a future post but I thought I’d wrap up sharing a little Spotify playlist that I made for her–songs that I’ve listened to when thinking of her.

Summer 2017 playlist

I decided to share some of the songs that set the mood of this summer (so far). Everything still seems a bit surreal after studying abroad for four months of this year, and nothing’s quite the same after returning to Flower Mound, Texas after such an adventure abroad! Sometimes I still wake up and think for a second that I’m back at Due Santi, the UD Rome campus. Very strange.
 

This song is especially meaningful as the lyrics become more true over time. Sometimes, in my daydreams, it’s easy to stray into my own little world that I fancy is my own, and I think I could be quite happy writing my own life story. But in the end, all I need, all I rely on, is God, not myself.

“I will wait” is an original Valley Creek Church worship song and probably one of my favorites, since it is a prayer for the strength to wait on the Lord and His timing in everything. As difficult as that might be for somebody like me (patience has never been a strength of mine :D)

And now for some less spiritual songs, here are some that I’ve been listening to a LOT

(Africa by Toto) basically the only 80’s pop song I’ve ever listened to, but I really really like it, so who knows? Maybe I’ll discover others that I like

(Thunderstruck by Owl City) a lot of people dislike Owl City because of Adam Young’s more whimsical sound, but that’s exactly why I enjoy his music so much! This song particularly is beautiful and sweet, sort of romantic and I love the male and female vocals together.

(Lost in my Bedroom by Sky Ferreira) I just like how it captures the mind of a daydreamer. “Lost in my bedroom . . . it’s just what I imagined . . .” as someone who gets lost in my head a lot, without needing to go anywhere, this song sort of speaks to me.

(Blew my Mind by Dresses) “Because most of the time, the thoughts in my mind get to me”

(Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran) I really wish I’d made it to Ireland this semester, but it wasn’t to be, alas. Still, listening to this song is amazing and I listen to it a lot driving on the Texas highways, daydreaming of the future when I DO make it to Ireland to find my grandmother’s family.

Farewell Freshman year as [mostly] told in pictures

Spent a week in a dusty library
Waiting for some words to jump at me
We met by a trick of fate
French navy my sailor mate
We met by the moon on a silvery lake
You came my way
Said, I want you to stay

-“French Navy” by Camera Obscura

For some reason these lyrics remind me of this semester. Of everything that has happened since August last fall. That song reminds me of the times I had with my wonderful friends and the various adventures we went on, the discoveries we made together. And I wish it wasn’t over, I wish we were just starting again. My first year at UD as an undergrad Freshman showed me a very different world, a place to be challenged by your teachers as well as your friends, to engage in discussions and look for stories every day in conversations, experiences, classes…Yes, I want this year to stay, to go in reverse so it can be relived. But too often I yearn for the past when it is the future that promises the most, the future that can change you the most if actually let it.

I would’t change anything, if I could. I did things I regret, I made mistakes, I tripped and struggled to keep going sometimes. But I learned so much, about people, change, friendship and especially theology…God. Doubt dropped away and instead what I learned directed me to seek answers and explanations and to turn myself inside out to focus on Him.

So, I shall tell of this year with the visual aid of photos…

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Subtlety

There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin 

In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene

Only then I am human
Only then I am clean 

“Take me to Church”

by Hozier

(Grammy’s selected Song of 2014)

It’s catchy, clever, and provocative. Today, secular music has managed to capture the full attention of the world, utilizing the power in this easily-accessed medium to send messages laced in an appealing rhythm and talented singers. “It’s true—most of the time, secular music is a lot catchier than a lot of Christian songs,” my studio art teacher observed. Her words have stuck in my head through the years and at this point, as a young adult with more freedom to choose the media I consume, I find myself agreeing to an extent with her statement. As a girl raised in a Christian household, I’ve been raised surrounded by Biblical values and truths which I firmly believe in. Yet, I and many other young Christians are familiar with the songs broadcasted on secular radio stations—songs sung by secular stars—songs that echo the mindset of a godless, caving culture. A considerable amount of the music I listen to comprises of songs which I find romantic, relatable, and of course, catchy. But even these positive attributes fail to negate the reality of modern music’s dark underbelly. Top chart songs contain subliminal meanings which promote blatant promiscuity, amorality, materialism. It might not be obvious, but if a listener is careful and listens closely, a deeper malice towards virtue penetrates the soul of contemporary music.

Satan utilizes one of the mediums which touches the hearts and infiltrates the minds of the younger generations. What we simply shrug off as a song really engenders subconscious messages which infiltrate into daily thoughts. These thoughts easily influence attitudes and behavior. For example, a recent billboard chart top hit, “Take Me to Church” by Irish tenor, Hozier, was nominated at the Grammy’s for 2014 Song of the Year.

The song is hauntingly beautiful with subtle verses and a soulful chorus. Admittedly, when I first heard it, I thought, “Wow, this is a powerful song. It’s almost hymn-like.” It’s Elton John mixed with an old Southern Spiritual from the American Civil War.

 

So said Dr. Taylor Marshall, a professor in Philosophy at University of Dallas. But his opinion changed when he listened to the lyrics:

 

What’s amazing about his song is that it’s about as offensive as anything produced by Marilyn Manson, Judas Priest, or Slayer yet hardly anyone recognizes it! It takes rich Catholic sacramental language but re-signifies the imagery as a sexual encounter. And that’s the so-called “genius” of this song.

The music industry is now much smarter than it was in the days of Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and Slayer. Your daughter is not likely to love Marilyn Manson and erect an idol to Satan in her bedroom. Your son will not likely consecrate his baby to Lucifer and baptize him in goat’s blood.

Overt Satanism is out of style. However, young people are likely to exchange their Christian faith for sexual license. The stats show that young people will likely exchange the sacramental life and liturgy for the liturgy of sexual experimentation.

And that’s exactly why this song has become an American anthem. The devil doesn’t needs a league of heavy metal Satanists. He’d almost prefer to have people mocking the Christian sacraments and images.

If God isn’t real – “If the Heavens ever did speak” – then the only goods to be enjoyed in this life are the pleasures of food and sex. That’s all there is left for humans to experience transcendence. Hozier gets it and he sings for us a catchy hymn.

 

Dr. Marshall points out how modern society dresses up anti-Biblical messages and ideas and promotes them via the media—music, film, literature, art, and the internet. It’s “just a song”? No—songs like “Take Me to Church” make it to the Grammy’s to become the Song of 2014, and this is a clear statement about the direction in which our culture is hurtling.

As the title of the book by Robert H. Bork so aptly puts it, you could say that America is “slouching towards Gomorrah”. The patterns can be seen everywhere. Rampant promiscuity, invading the mindsets of younger children, blatant homosexuality, devaluing of human life as exemplified by euthanasia and abortion. The materialistic attitude of millions of Americans reflects in our extravagant, reckless lifestyles. Egocentricity becomes the norm, and the 21st century generation embraces the idea of self-love. Some would call it “progress”, but really, it seems that we merely regress towards the days of Nero and Caligula, when orgies and amorality raged the streets of the “Eternal City”. Music hugely impacts the outlook of each coming generation. With the recent trends in blatant sexual experimentation, the arts as an expression of the human soul reveal the deeper darkness that draws us farther and farther away from Christ.

4a4acb431a1a0b60f6331268b25241af            Dr. Marshall’s insights on this particularly popular song, and a simple analysis of modern culture, both provide a sharper view of this disease infecting the nation, the entire world. When songs like “Take Me to Church” twist the sacrosanct Eucharistic, Biblical words and references into a song idolizing sexuality and promiscuity, obviously the slouching has begun. But Satan cleverly wields his deception. He infects us with his poison as we enjoy a top-notch song a talented singer. He contaminates our thoughts when we enjoy a movie with a scene or two that would’ve made a younger, naïve self, blush. His trick? Subtlety.

Here is a link to Dr. Marshall’s article concerning “Take Me to Church” by Hozier: http://taylormarshall.com/2014/12/take-church-lyrics-meaning-christian-analysis-critique.html

Last time i felt brave?

What with a surgery, college prep, finishing senior year, and a multitude of other things going on, it is easy to sink into what Anne calls, “the Depths of Despair”. I tend to get overwhelmed pretty easily, when my emotions ride up and down, waves and waves of confusing feelings and doubts and fears and irritations. The other day while running I started to listen to Owl City, because this music soothes me, as only some music can. One song I played struck an especially deep cord with me. It paralleled my turbulent mindset. It gave voice to the swirling thoughts in my head.

Tidal Wave by Owl City

I wish I could cross my arms, and cross your mind
Cause I believe you’d unfold your paper heart and wear it on your sleeve
All my life I wish I broke mirrors, instead of promises
Cause all I see, is a shattered conscience staring right back at me
I wish I had covered all my tracks completely cause I’m so afraid
Is that the light at the far end of the tunnel or just the train?
Lift your arms only heaven knows, where the danger grows
And it’s safe to say there’s a bright light up ahead and help is on the way
(Help is on the way, Help is on the way, Help is on the way…)

Help is on the way
I forget the last time I felt brave, I just recall insecurity
Cause it came down like a tidal wave, and sorrow swept over me

Depression, please cut to the chase and cut a long story short
Oh please be done. How much longer can this drama afford to run?
Fate looks sharp, severs all my ties and breaks whatever doesn’t bend
But sadly then, all my heavy hopes just pull me back down again
(Back down again, back down again, back down again…)

I forget the last time I felt brave, I just recall insecurity
Cause it came down like a tidal wave, and sorrow swept over me
Then I was given grace and love, I was blind but now I can see
Cause I found a new hope from above, and courage swept over me

It hurts just to wake up, whenever you’re wearing thin
Alone on the outside, so tired of looking in
The end is uncertain and I’ve never been so afraid
But I don’t need a telescope to see that there’s hope
And that makes me feel brave