Unapologetic Nerdery

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There’s this scene from the show New Girl that I think of often. Nick’s girlfriend Julia doesn’t like Jess because she’s too girly. Jess catches on that she’s being made fun of behind her back and treated with a good amount of condescension by this girl. So she throws her girliness right in Julia’s  face and refuses to apologize for being herself. If you’re not familiar with it, take a minute and LISTEN!:

So here’s the deal. I identify with this scene because I often feel like an odd bird. I promise it’s not intentionally counter-cultural hipster nonsense. Just naturally, my tendencies fall outside the bell curve. And you know what, I think it’s about time I just get unapologetic about my nerdery! (And it’s time for a lighthearted, self-deprecating post on this blog :)) So here goes!

#1. I CAN’T STAND SINGING COMPETITIONS, THE BACHELOR, AND MOST WATERCOOLER TV AND BOOKS.

Seriously. I can take about 10 seconds of American Idol and/or The Voice before I want to pull my hair out. I find them extremely boring. The ONE exception to this bit of anti-pop-culture nerdery is the show The Sing Off. It’s an a cappella group competition with a lot of talk about musical technicality that only airs for two months a year on NBC. Sounds nerdy, right? It totally is. And it’s constantly fighting cancellation. 🙂 I try to like Twilight, Harry Potter, Divergent…I just don’t get it. I tried to like Scandal, it didn’t hook me in. I gave Modern Family SO MANY TRIES and I’d just totally rather watch something else. I also detest The Bachelor. Any TV show that requires me to give up FOUR HOURS of my week listening to women speak through their noses and gossip about each other–um, no thanks. I’d rather watch 19 Kids and Counting, 30 Rock reruns, Friends DVDs or a weird art documentary on Netflix. My viewing choices are usually kind of unconventional and you know what, past roommates, future ones, I’m not apologizing anymore! Elizabethtown is a FANTASTIC film that should be impossible to fall asleep to, and yeah, subtitles are sometimes annoying, and the Duggars aren’t for everyone. I know. I know, I know, I know. But this is who I am. 🙂

#2. I WEAR PAJAMAS.

HECK to the YEAH I do. One time, a married guy I know told me that pajamas aren’t allowed in his house. (Gross, I know.) But he didn’t mean ALL pajamas are outlawed. He specifically means the button-up lounge PJs that Victoria’s Secret so famously pushes every Christmas season, and most big-box retailers carry YEAR ROUND. It’s for a reason, y’all. THEY ARE AMAZING.  I’ve lived with roommates over the years who think my PJs are totally weird, but hey. If that’s nerdery? Call me a nerd. Whatevs y’all.

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#3. I ALWAYS EAT BEFORE BED.

Up until about three years ago I had magical metabolism. The Eiken Family Blessing. Suddenly, my naturally lanky build started to round out and to be honest, I’m still a little bit in denial about it. I can’t eat WHATEVER I want anymore. But nothing makes me feel cozier than bringing food to bed (in my PJS!!!!). Like, a popsicle. Or a few crackers. A piece of chocolate. A tangerine. A corner edge of some square-cut pizza. A little dish of marinated vegetable salad. A waffle with peanut butter. Bedtime treats are THE BEST.

#4. MUSIC CONTROLS MY MEMORIES.

I’ve memorized song titles, musicians, and VH1 Pop-Up Music factoids since I could speak. Every single memory I have connects to what song was playing when it happened. I hear Ace of Base, I think Barbies. I hear “I Can’t Wait” by Nu Shooz and I think of my Dad playing it when I was little and me dancing in the living room, or of listening to it on split-headphones on a discman during choir practice with my friend Allie in High School. I hear Barbie Girl and I think of DJing high school dances. I know too much about Nirvana and No Doubt. I hear John Mayer and Dave Matthews Band and I think of college and times with my best friends. I’m a talker and a storyteller and this music/memory connection makes me a nostalgia nerd. BIGTIME. Don’t even get me started down a rabbit trail of 90’s music because I will tell you my life story, seriously. I have a story for EVERY SONG. EVERY ARTIST.

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#5. I’M AN ABSOLUTE FANGIRL.

Always have been, always will be. I don’t idolize celebrities (anymore…) but I admire people’s comedic timing, their style, I see myself in movie characters, connect with musicians’ lyrics, and I start latching on. I become a one-woman promotional street team. It’s part of what I love about art–when it imitates life and you see things in a new way, or you feel like someone GETS IT (whatever IT is). I took an improv class last fall because I’m a fangirl about Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig and Amy Poehler, and had just read a book by Susan Isaacs that talked a lot about improv comedy. I was a fangirl for John Mayer, Gwen Stefani, and Bush (mainly Gavin Rossdale) pretty seriously in my adolescent years. At each of their concerts I fought my way to the front, screamed their names like a madwoman, professed my love in screeches, and even JUMPED on Gavin Rossdale’s sweaty back as he pushed through the crowd. (Highlight of my life.) Here’s a (terrible) picture of me looking at Jordan Knight at the New Kids On the Block/Backstreet Boys concert a few years ago:

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Also, I took this just seconds after I touched Gavin Rossdale:

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I spent my Spring Break money on seeing John Mayer in concert instead of going to Cabo with some girls in 2006. I snuck my way to the front and spent the entire show RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS MICROPHONE! WORTH. IT.:

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Taken just moments before I screamed, “I LOVE YOU GWEN!!!!”:

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#6. I LOVE ANCESTRY.

That’s right. ANCESTRY. Bored by that? Too bad. You know what? I have Antiques Roadshow on RIGHT NOW while I’m writing this post! I’m not even lying. Believe it. In my opinion, the past is always better. I am SO fascinated by history, and learning about how my family was affected by wars and culture shifts and immigration and slavery and civil rights just gets my heart pumping! I have paid for multiple ancestry.com subscriptions and proudly didn’t leave my apartment once for 48 hours because I traced my paternal Grandmother’s Dad’s line all the way back to a knight for the King of England named Sparrowhawk! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! Sometimes I even go to the Minnesota Historical Society’s library (of which I am a MEMBER) and pull newspaper microfilm from different dates in my family’s history (birth dates, death dates) to find obituaries and see what the world looked like on those dates. FOR FUN. That’s right. If that’s not nerdery, I don’t know what is. I’m flying my flag high and proud now, folks!

There are a lot of pictures like this on my computer:

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Did you know there’s a website called find-a-grave.com where people volunteer to go find your loved ones’ graves all over the country? If they live nearby you just put out the request and they’ll go take a picture and email it to you. 🙂 NERDERY!

#7. I LOVE BEING ALONE.

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I love treating myself to a nice dinner, a glass of wine, a puppy snuggle and a nice journaling sesh, a movie on Netflix, a little dance party, a wander around a museum, reading a book on a boat or in the grass, a long bike ride, an adventure in the woods by the St. Croix river, all by myself. I have NO PROBLEM with lots of alone time. This makes me afraid for my future. 🙂

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#8. CHRISTMAS IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL/LOVE LANGUAGE/YEARLY HEART EXPLOSION.

I started collecting records in college because I wanted to play ORIGINAL VINTAGE FRANK SINATRA CHRISTMAS songs on vinyl. This is the TRUTH, folks. One of my most prized possessions is a Bing Crosby Christmas record that I got at an antique store. When I got home and pulled it out of the bag I noticed that it had MY NAME written in pencil in the top corner. The previous owner had MY NAME!!!!! I can’t even tell you how I got the goosebumps and my heart burst out of my chest. I have a reindeer costume for my car. I typically start listening to Christmas music and researching for my annual Christmas CD in late July. I know. WHATEVER. I get SERIOUS about playing Christmas music the week of my birthday, November 4. I also usually put up my Christmas tree around that time. I begin planning my Christmas decor for the year in August, usually. I buy things as I see them and store them in my car trunk until it’s time to decorate and assess the pieces. 🙂 All of this generally annoys people, because culture tells you that you HAVE to be a Scrooge or a Grinch. That’s the “cool” thing to do. You know what I think is cool? Acting like a KID and REVELING in ALL OF IT! Eating up the snowflakes, blaring Christmas tunes, baking cookies, watching Christmas movies with the fireplace on and SPREADING CHEER. I actually just started listening to Christmas music while writing this post and didn’t even realize it came up on shuffle…because to me? That’s normal. 🙂

 

#9. I CUT MY HAIR BASED ON CELEBRITIES I LIKE.

It started with Victoria Beckham in 6th Grade. I HAD to have Posh Spice’s chin-length bob. Next, it was The Phoebe. I wanted The Rachel but I was too scared to cut all that hair off–so I opted for the longer-layered version of the Friends cut. Since then, I’ve had a Mandy Moore, several Gwen Stefanis, several Jennifer Anistons, another Victoria Beckham in late high school/early college times, a Zooey Deschanel, and I currently have a Katie Holmes on its way to a Zooey Deschanel.

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#10. ONE TIME, I WROTE A BLOG POST ABOUT BEING UNAPOLOGETIC ABOUT MY NERDERY.

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We Got HOPE on Easter Morning

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It’s been QUITE a week for my family!

On Tuesday, my Grandpa was diagnosed with bladder cancer and as of today, we’re still waiting on a prognosis/action plan. On Thursday, my Grandma was admitted to the hospital, just four doors down from my Grandpa, with pain all over her body. The hospital in Hutchinson, near their home, was unable to figure out what was wrong with my Grandma so they transported her by ambulance to Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis on Thursday night. My Grandpa was discharged from the hospital on Friday, where he spent his first night in a nursing home. The plan was for both of them to go there together since they’re both too sick to take care of each other, especially since my Grandma has been in a wheelchair for the last five years, since having her leg amputated after one of her artificial knees became infected. Well, Grandpa wasn’t a big fan of the nursing home. Can you blame him? My Grandma Diane and Grandpa Wayne haven’t been apart much since they got married in 1957. Not much at all. So eating dinner alone and spending the night in a new place alone was pretty much the pits. Since Grandma is still hospitalized and we don’t have to worry about Grandpa trying to take care of her while recovering from bladder surgery, we decided to take him back out of the nursing home and let him go home. (With a promise to take it easy!) We’ll wait for more news about his bladder cancer from his doctors on Monday or Tuesday.

I visited my Grandma in the ICU at Abbott yesterday. The weather was grey, rainy, bleak, and cloudy. As I drove to the hospital, it struck me how appropriate that weather was for the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. The world without a Savior. With no hope. The situation for the past week has seemed pretty hopeless in my family, too. My mom has been staying three hours away with my Grandma, caring for her in her home, until she was admitted to the hospital on Thursday. After that, she’s spent nights in the hospital waiting rooms. A cancer diagnosis is one scary thing to begin with, and adding to it a mystery illness only magnified the sense of hopelessness that hung over us this week.

I left Grandma last night and came home to bed with plans to just have a simple Easter-ish dinner with my parents today. My mom spent her first night in her own bed since Tuesday. None of us were able to make it to church, this weekend. I have been clinging to scripture about hope, copying down as many verses as I can find to hold onto, and sharing them with my grandparents. Our long Easter weekend has been difficult and well, not Eastery at all.

But this morning.

The sun came up blazing.

The birds sang.

Christ resurrected.

And Grandma got a diagnosis. A treatable one.

Most likely caused by her diet and the stress of finding out my Grandpa has cancer–she got a severe case of gout. In every single one of her joints. Add to that arthritis, kidney failure, low blood pressure, a fever, and a couple other things I’ll refrain from mentioning here for her sake ;), she’s in a LOT of pain. But gout is treatable. VERY. She’ll be out of the ICU in a few days, onto a recovery floor and hopefully out of the hospital in a week or so. We’re not sure where they’ll go for care, treatment, therapy and recovery after that, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, we’re breathing freely for the first time in a few days and praising God for good news.

We got HOPE on Easter morning. We’ve had it all along in Him, but we got relief and sweet hope that we get to keep our dear loved ones with us a little longer.

Praise Him. Hallelujah!

 

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people. I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 1:18-20

Thoughts on Death and Easter Lilies

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Timehop has been kind of a cool thing. It’s a relatively new app that lets you look back over the last 5-7 years of your social media history. I don’t know whether to be proud or embarrassed that I’ve been on Facebook as long as it’s been around. My college was one of the early ones let into the madness and I was a fast addict. Everyday, Timehop gives me a rundown of the past several years of posts that I’ve shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

But as April has rolled around, I’ve been reminded of the terrifying rollercoaster that was my dear friend Christie’s battle with brain cancer. So many good MRI scans, so many unclear reports, so many calls for prayer, so many little victories, so many high hopes and so many low lows. Christie was diagnosed in April 2011 and passed away at age 27 in February 2013. Reading those old posts has in a way been like walking through those times all over again. I obviously think about her everyday, anyway. Everything still relates back to her and so many of my memories of the last 13 years of my life involve times with her.

I came across an article that warmed my heart as I’ve been seeing April through a new (or…old) lens, this year in Timehop. It’s about placing importance on remembering the dead and keeping their memory alive. I often feel like I shouldn’t talk about Christie as much now that it’s been a year. I sometimes wonder if it’s weird for people when I say her name and refer to her as if she’s still around. (I believe she is still around–but that’s another blog post.) I loved what the author of this article said:

“Death is a cyclical reality in all communities, and often families are forced to travel the grieving journey alone. After his young son died, a close friend of mine said, “Pretty soon Isaac will fade from most people’s memory. And any future children we have will never know him. Instead they will associate him with times of the year when Mom and Dad are sad—his birthday, the day he died, and Mother’s and Father’s Day.” My friend was not only grieving the loss of Isaac; he was also grieving the loss of his memory in the community.” 

“Poppy’s father said, “I am afraid to lose the pain over Poppy’s death, because pain is the only connection I have to her.” His words reflect a deep truth about our Christian faith. They are words of protest against the forces of death that had extinguished Poppy’s life and now threatened to take her memory as well.”

I’ve often wondered if one day I’ll stop telling stories about Christie to people who never knew her. But, I don’t think I ever will. I don’t want to. I want people who never had a chance to meet her to know about her, and I want the people who knew her (and just sort-of knew her) to never forget her.

Seriously, that article is great. So many truth nuggets. If you’ve lost someone close to you, give it a read.

The last thing I’ll pull from the article to share with you is a quote from N.T. Wright, one of my favorite theologians.

“In the weeks leading up to Easter, churchgoers are invited to bring lilies into the sanctuary as a way to remember their loved ones with ‘grief, gratitude and Christian hope.’ As the lilies tangibly call to mind those who have died, the worship practice makes space for grief and hope to reside together, leading our longings to stretch out for the Resurrection. Practices like this usher the believing community into a healthy memory of the dead.”

So, this year, I’m excited to be able to do something for Christie. (I constantly feel like I’m looking for things I can do for her…there are so few things these days!) I can bring her an Easter lily. I know she’ll receive it. And it’ll let her know that I’m keeping her memory alive.

Who can you bring an Easter lily to, this year? Who will you remember, this Easter?

Authenticity, Vulnerability, and Oversharing.

Authenticity, Vulnerability, and Oversharing.

CLICK HERE for original article.

  • “Believers through the ages have battled with when to speak, how much to say and how to say it.”
  • “God can and should hear every thought, whether hellish or holy, and His grace gives us courage to face those things ourselves.”
  • “Withholding a comment or deciding not to correct someone’s error because of kindness, then, could perhaps not be seen as a mark of inauthenticity so much as a sign of self-control.”
  • “The authentic Gospel requires authentic believers to speak the (graciously selected) truth.”

Brandon Flowers, Father John Misty and Local Natives // On Johnny Cash

Well this is just a fantastic little treat. Say what you will about Brandon Flowers, but I have ALWAYS loved his voice. And my favorite Killers lyric is, “He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus but he, talks like a gentleman, like you imagined when, you were young.” YEESH! What girl hasn’t been swooped up in THAT predicament?! Anyhoo. I like him. And this makes me intensely curious about his faith story, now.

These are some beautiful harmonies and a beautifully shot video paying homage to Johnny Cash. ENJOY.

Is Anything Sacred?

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SACRED: regarded with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group, or individual. (Latin: sacer-holy)

Throughout my entire life, I’ve been a talker. In elementary school, the only thing I was ever reprimanded for was for talking and giggling during class (then subsequently sent to the principal’s office and threatened with a paddling. Ohhh, Alabama.) You can ask my current coworkers–little about my behavior has changed over time. I still talk, I still love to laugh, and I love sharing and discussing with other people. I love expressing myself (…said the girl with a blog…), sharing opinions, views and thoughts while intermingling them with thoughts and opinions from people who understand, as well as with those who don’t. As I grew up, I felt more and more freedom in sharing openly. The idol of my high school years, Gwen Stefani, was once quoted as saying she is an open book and will never be anything but. Her lyrics speak the pain and joy of her real life in an explicit way, and I admired her for that. There’s a rebelliousness in it. And even today, there’s a little bit of that adolescent desire in me that resists being pigeonholed or told how to live/feel/be/act. I wonder if I’ll ever shake it. 🙂

In the Christian culture, there’s something called a testimony. It basically means what you think it does–the same as it does in the legal setting–a formal written or spoken statement, esp. one given in a court of law. AND/OR a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience. The latin root is testis (stop laughing, children) which means to witness. In Christian culture, to witness often means to share your faith by giving your testimony. Ever heard, “Can I get a witness?” Yep. *Here ends your Christianese lesson for today.*

So, I’ve been neck-deep in this Christian culture thing for about 14 years, now. And I’ve given my testimony a LOT of times. The story of how I came to faith is a dark and difficult one, but it’s beautiful. Because in it, God is glorified. His light shines hot and magnificent out of that black darkness and He gets every little bit of glory for the miracle that is my life, my heart, being remade, being saved, and my soul being reborn into a new life, a new chance, a new day. So–I love to share that story. In every little detail, no matter how disturbing, how upsetting, how shameful, how painful–when people hear it, my hope and my heart are that people to turn to God and maybe believe in him. Just maybe. And to me, the risk of sharing and being misunderstood or negatively judged by some, is worth more than not sharing and holding back something incredible and miraculous that God could use for his glory. For the advancement of His kingdom. Keeping it to myself wouldn’t be right. Right?

There’s a lot of talk about story in Christian circles, these days. It’s encouraged that we’re authentic. Transparent. Open books. Small groups and Bible studies are formed and members may feel a bit of pressure to open their darkest parts up to the group in hopes of finding support and freedom in Christ, or with the desire of helping someone else in their journey. Transparency and being vulnerable with your story could even help point someone to Christ. I believe it. But something that has come to my attention lately is that there’s an important clarification that needs to be made in sharing. There’s an art to sharing that needs to be learned. It’s a skill to be honed and developed over time. It does not come naturally. It is not innate. It’s a skill I’m approaching with a measure of caution, care, and honestly? A tiny bit of shame for the oversharing I’ve done. (Hey. I’m working on it.)

See, I’ve shared a lot of deeply personal things over my lifetime. My book has been wide open for any and all. I’ve found freedom in speaking difficult and daring words about taboo topics that others skirted around. I enjoyed pushing boundaries with my words, refusing to be told that I should feel ashamed of anything I felt like sharing. When the reality is…there are certain things that are SACRED. And I shouldn’t feel ashamed for holding them back from the general public–I should feel reverence and respect. For myself and for those topics. I should have more respect and reverence for my heart, my experience, my memories, and the people who walked through it all with me, than my desire to whore those words out to anyone and everyone. This is a brand new concept for me. I like it. I believe in it. And it’s a muscle I’m looking forward to developing.

As I’ve pondered this idea for the last couple of weeks, something I’ve started to discover is that when you share a personal story, you can maintain its sacred nature in the way that you share it. You can respect it without exposing all of it. I’m not talking about running it through the laundry before you air it out–I’m just talking about being discriminate in the aspects and details of the story that you choose to share. The truth can be told, the point can be made, without exposing the sacred parts. Respect and reverence for the event, for your heart, for the people involved, can remain intact.

Dr. Brene Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability has been all the rage in psychology and faith circles over the past couple of years, ever since her wildly successful TED talks. I read her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection,” and listened to the audiobook afterward just to really cement things in. She tweeted a good reminder, last night:

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Sharing your story is brave. That’s true. But real courageous sharing and vulnerability employs more than just an unbridled verbal explosion. When I speak my truth and own my story without shame, I also need to set boundaries. Brene Brown says that people who hear your stories need to earn the right to hear them. Historically, I haven’t made it all that difficult to earn that right. I’m realizing that there’s power (and maybe a little bit of cultural rebellion) in asking yourself, “Is this something I can talk about with someone close to me, in my inner-ring of friends and family? Is this a memory best shared with someone who was also there?” or “Is this something that is safe to share with the outer-ring people? To share openly in a new small group or Bible study? Something I can blog about that may benefit others or just help me exercise my writing muscle?” Really…what I’m learning to ask myself is…What’s sacred?

I want to protect the things that are sacred in my life, and in the lives of those I care about. Until this point, really…nothing has been sacred.

While at the same time, I’m being careful not to feel shame and begin to hide things unnecessarily.

Maintaining my open-book status while developing a sense of sacredness is going to be a challenge–but it’s one I’m up for. And I can only believe it will bring greater strength, clarity, and my biggest prayer–more room for God to be glorified through my life and experiences.

My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:15-18 (ESV)