Wednesday, October 12, 2016

_News: What even is a second draft._

Let's talk about churches here for a second. About a half a year ago I had a discussion with the leader of the middle school ministry of my church about why everyone seems to be bashing churches and church goers now-a-days. And I mean everyone. Even Christians themselves. Especially Christians, I think. My friends often talk about the flaws that most churches have in regards to policies dealing with mental illness, homosexuality, divorce, and other things that don't fit that "cookie-cutter-christian" mold we know all to well. I hear it in Christian music too, lyrics that insinuate or outright push this idea of "breaking free from the church", being bold and courageous and honest.

Now, me, I'm all for improving church. Let's talk about these issues, let's think of new ways to spread the word, let's be different. But rarely I find that's where these conversations are heading. It's seems like here, much like in other areas, we are collectively content to point a finger at the problems and nothing more. As a result, many people are becoming disillusioned to going to church, even though it's a God ordained element of a healthy Christian life.  (Proof in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:25, Matthew 18:20 and Colossians 3:16.) And, what do you know, little introspective me thinks that at it's core, the problem lies just as much with us as does the church and it's missteps. So, let's focus on that. Let's look at why we're so disappointed at churches and see what we can do to change that. Then we can focus on fixing the problems in church.

First, I'm not sure if we're seeing the concept of church the right way. 

When we think of church, we imagine this, right? The steeple in a barren land. The traditionally nice looking building that's supposed to always be unlocked. And we imagine that when stepping into one, our problems are supposed to melt away. There are supposed to girls in dresses and boys in suits and not a speck of dirt on the ground. And everyone's smiling and chatting and having their bibles out and talking.
Guys, this isn't what church is.

Let me tell you what happens when I, who is probably as cookie-cutter is it comes, walks into church. I'll get there at eight, I'll go into my office and print the chord charts/service orders/slide timecode sheet/so on. I'll go to cafe and grab a cup of coffee, and as soon as I see the kid who's mopping the floors you know we're talking about Pokemon Go. Or Skyrim. Or whatever the heck else is happening in videogames. Then all the high schoolers are going to show up and start yelling at each other about coming after their edges or something about someone in groupchat who's being problematic again. People are going to fill in and stick to their assigned tables with the people their comfortable with. I'll see people come in with their kids looking half dead, some huddle off in corners praying so intensely they might be crying, ministry leaders trying to wrangle their volunteers together to get things running on time. Someone's going to come up to me and tell me that we don't have the right creamer. Someone else is going to come up to me and tell me that the printer's jammed. And one thing that you can always count on is that somewhere, out there, there will always be an air conditioner that's broken. That's all before the actual service begins.

Here's what I'm trying to get at. Church is messing. It's sloppy. It's filled with exactly what it needs to be filled with, sinners. People who cannot be perfect. But we think it's supposed to be and that's where a lot of friction between church and the world comes from. Chances are you're going to hate it for being perfect without taking a single step in, or you will come inside and be salty because it's not.

This is the part where I go on the record and say yes, we don't have everything together. We meet in really old buildings, school gymnasiums, worship centers that smell like dentist offices. We're not always the most efficient group of people on the planet, sometimes we keep really weird hours and can't respond to your emails right away because we're usually made up of really small staffs. We're not always the most polite people on the planet. We don't have all the answers in the world. We get stuff wrong sometimes. Sometimes we know we're getting it wrong, but we stick with our guns because we want to be right and we're dumb. And I keep saying "we" because churches are the body of Christ.  And maybe I'm just the awkward arm hair on that body but that doesn't make me any less a part of it. (Proof Ephesians 4:11-16, Ephesians 5:20, Philippians 2:2, and 1 Corinthians 12:12.)

And, here's the worst part, that is what a church is supposed to be. We are, by definition, a gathering of broken people who just so happen to put our faith in Christ. What did you expect? We're not Jesus. We're not God. We didn't write the Bible, on the best of days we just barely scrape the surface of what it says. We help with problems as much as we can, but we're not answer to them. We like to think we have a hand in helping salvation happen, but we aren't the way to heaven. We teach to the best of our abilities what we should do, what we shouldn't, and how to get closer to God, but we do not make people better. Christ makes people better. Christ is the way to heaven. Christ is the answer to people's problems.

Tl;dr Church isn't God. It's a club of people who happen to like him a lot, for better or worse.
(1 Corinthians 1:10).

That's all I got. 'Til next time nerds.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

_News: There is no news. There never was any news. Time is an illusion._

Journalistic quick fire update because I haven't posted a thing-thing here in a while.

-Filmed a video. On my YouTube. Click this sentence. 
-Started school, therefore the irrational fear of forgetting I signed up for a course, never attending said course, and getting an F due to this lack of attendance has returned. (I literally have nightmares about this.)
-Am writing the second draft of Novel-In-Progress, reminding me of the fact that I hate second drafts and making me consider abandoning my life's dream to pursue a promising career as a grocery-store bagger. At the end of the day those guys are the real heroes.
-Submitted a short story about a man with Dissociative Personality Disorder who's other personality is a teleporting vigilante fighting against an alien invasion. Stay tuned to find out if it's half as interesting as that sentence.
-Me and the writing peeps are already gearing up for NaNoWriMo, THE GAME IS ON.
-Fren got published. Click on fren. Fren=good writing.

That is all. 'Til next time nerds.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

_News: I took a vacation. See below for details._

This is going to be another journalistic post but at least time it won't be preachy so sit back and enjoy if you wish. About three months ago (give or take) my best friend moved from Chicago to North Carolina with her Aunt and Uncle. And so, two months later, I bought a ticket to fly out and visit her, which doesn't seem like such a big deal but it was for me.

June 11th in the evening, I hop on a discount airplane where I share a row with two lovely women who are as much strangers to each other as they are to me. As such we spend our flight in a respectful silence.  I mentioned it was a discount airplane, there's a reason for that. The tickets were a steal, and it was all to good to be true. So I was convinced it wasn't. During take off I was overcome with the sudden realization that the reason the tickets were so cheap was because the plane skimped out on some important parts. That wing looked awfully wobbly, didn't it? Was it just me? Just...I should keep an eye on that wing. As the plane lifted off all I could think was I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory. Is this where it gets me, in a plane, several feet below my feet. (side note: YEAH MAN HAMILTON CLEANED UP AT THE TONYS!)

Believe it or not, I was wrong. The plane was in working order. As far as I know anyway.

I touch down a half hour before schedule and walk outside and GOODNESS GRACIOUS the sun, it's working overtime like it's trying to put a kid through college or something. And then my friend who I haven't seen in months pulls up in her car and security is about to shoe her away but as soon as he sees us tackle each other he waves it off and smiles at us. It's a good moment for both of us.
It's a bit of a drive back to her place and we spend all of it grins like idiots and laughing. We don't need to catch up because we talk to each other every week anyway. But it's nice that, for once, it's not through a screen. I can't help but notice that North Carolina is saturated with trees and churches, which is something I'm okay with. We get to her place and I realize that I'm actually exhausted, so I pass out.

Next morning we drive into Charlotte to help set up the church she goes too. Set up, because the organization is three years old and they don't have their own building yet. They set up shop in a school. I meet a lot of people and shake a lot of hands in a short couple of hours, and if that didn't do me in energy wise then all the running around did. One of the first people I meet is Tyson, which I later found out is the Head Pastor of the joint. And the best way I can describe the service was part Hillsong concert part loud and boisterous improvised preaching. I loved it. Friend was also running media shout and rocked it, so there's that. I'm really underselling it here, there are so many things I wanna talk about with this service, but that'll have to be saved for another post because this one's already going to be a long one. (See it here, by the way.)

After take down Friend and I are trying to find a place to eat when Tyson comes up and invites us to lunch with the rest of the crew. It's very flattering, especially considering I'm just a visitor and yet I'm already exhausted and can't even think about sitting down for a couple of hours where I'll have to actively make conversation, so we pass. And I feel bad about it. And Friend wacks me upside the head and reminds me this is a vacation, I'm not obligated to do anything. Instead, we grab pizza in a vintage gas station with really great cinnamon knots like we're a couple of hipster punks from a 90s movie. Then we go to Friend's games life group, where no one else could show up so it's just us and the guy who ran the lights. We all face off in #idrab and it's brutal. As Christians we put on a shameful display. Late in the evening Friend and I head out to her Aunt and Uncle's place, which we have agreed to house sit. We are realize upon arrival that they have taken their DVD player with them on their trip, they have neglected to give us the wifi password, there is no phone service, and the fridge is completely empty.
I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory. 
We scrape up all the adultness we can muster in ourselves to fix these things.

Next morning we head into town, she's got work and for the first time in a month I have the opportunity to sit down, relax, and write. And I do so in a completely and utterly charming french cafe that makes me wanna plan another trip just to come back to this place. It's so flipping nice it makes me wanna move in. This is the cafe love of my life. In a day I write 2500 words and it pleases me to no end. I also spend a good amount of time talking myself down from eating all the pastries, a thing that was too good to be true. A work day later Friend and I are on our way back to the house, we watch Psych and talk about really intense things of which the nature I cannot disclose in public. I will say though, the chance to talk to her about those things alone was worth the cost of the trip and more.

Day three finds me back at the cafe drinking that. Fun untrue fact, it was because of that drink that #blessed was created to begin with. I try Chick-fli-A for the first time and dive into Nintendo's E3. (Who is else over hyped for video games this year? Yeah? YEAH?) I also clock in some mileage with my novel-in-progress, 1000 words and gearing up for the climax. Friend and I head back up to Charlotte to shop and pick up a cousin from the airport. The ride home is treacherous, the rain coming down on us is unreal.
Day four finds me staying home, watching the full Nintendo E3 livestream to get whatever juicy Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild facts I can. I get 4 hours through the stream before I fall asleep.

The trip ends with dinner at a fancy Chinese place in Charlotte where I pour all my E3 geeking onto Friend, who is all to willing to let me. We talk a lot about Zelda, I talk a lot about other games, we eat food that's decent but nowhere near as good as our favorite place in Chicago. And, sadly, their fortune cookies are not magic. We somehow find a way to press on. She drops me off at the airport and that's that. Trip's over. Back to talking through a screen.
My flight gets delayed for an hour which I'm okay with because there was a very social one in a half year old who kept coming up to people and speaking in babble. It's hilarious. When I grow up I wanna be that kid. When the plane's boarded I sit next to a literature professor from North Carolina who is heading to Chicago so he can use the Newberry Library for a Dante's Inferno course that he's going to teach not only using the text BUT a video game that recently came out that was based on it. We spend half the flight talking the teaching potential in video games and what a multi-faceted medium it is and kinds of other good stuff. I point him in the direction of the pop-culture academic community on Youtube (Idea Channel, Stachbag's Goods, Extra Credits, Game Theory, so on.), he gives me a couple of great authors to read on digital literacy (Kurt Squire, James Gee). We part as unlikely friends. Brother picks me up from the airport and tells me that my cat is a monster. I tell him this is not news to me. And so, I'm home.

'Til next time nerds.

Other things for your viewing pleasure.
Friend at a desk

That is not plastic that is real,
you can eat that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

_News: Yes I've been gone a month. No I wasn't kidnapped by space pirates. Where did you even hear that?_

Okay, listen, this post will be a little more journalistic and preachy then my other ones but I figured I'd put it out there for the better of mankind. God's been nudging me to talk about it. Like, poking my shoulder my shoulder while I'm sleeping saying "hey, hey Nikki, I've got this idea for your blog" and me being like "it is 2 in the morning" and Him being like "I created time".

okay not quite like that, but sometimes that's how it felt.

So, I've begun to notice how I look on the outside recently, and as such have been paying special attention to how I eat and working out. Sometimes to a healthy extent, sometimes not. How did it start?
Ever since I started making videos for YouTube I've wanted to look like Haley Williams in front of the camera. 
Ever since I started living on my own and have had control over what I eat, I haven't been able to give myself credible excuses not to eat healthy. 
Ever since I was in high school, I've hated my 12 minute mile time. 
Ever since I was a kid I didn't want people to keep saying that I that paint dried faster then I ran. 
I've never liked how I looked. And it's always felt like whether or not I was pretty and fit was up to me. That's the simple truth.
Another simple truth for all the self-loathing, nothing was going to happen with body until I realized a couple of things. And those things I wanna share with you too. This isn't a simple cure, it's not going to change your life. You've probably heard what I'm going to say a thousand times in a thousand ways. None the less, I hope it brings some clarity. Because like it or not, it's something that man and woman alike will probably going to struggle with their whole lives.

Over the years, I've been trapped in an identity that was just as much my own doing as it was any societal or social pressure. (Takes a moment to step away from the keyboard and passionately shakes fist at society, that ever present scapegoat.) I was Nikki the reader, Nikki the gamer, Nikki who doesn't like sports or physical work. And somehow along the way that was translated to Nikki the Lazy and the Out-Of-Shape. And while the former be true, the rest be lies. So, here and now, let me dispel some illusions.

Not liking sports does not make you un-athletic. 
I grew up with people who love sports. I also grew up a tall somewhat slender kid. Dad put me in whatever he could, softball, basketball, volleyball, other things that have a ball somehow involved. And there I'd stand in the middle of whatever court or field I was, staring out into space, thinking about being an astronaut or superhero or whatever had come on more recently on TV. (Meanwhile my dad was in the stands shaking his head wearily as a whatever ball happened to be involved at the time passed me by). When the kids played after church, it was dodgeball or volleyball. Football season you better bet even the pastor is shortening his sermons to get people out the door for kickoff.
I didn't get the hype. I still don't. It's just...boring to me.
But the way that this translated to the people around me was that I just didn't like moving at all. And, since there wasn't much evidence to the contrary, I went with it. But here's the thing, playing sports is not the only to be active. Things that you can like other then sports: rockclimbing. hiking. biking. jump rope. swimming. kayaking. other things that I'm not thinking of right now.
See? So many things.

Not liking physically taxing work does not make you lazy. 
The person who works construction and the person who works behind the desk each work equally as hard. One pushes the extent of their bodies while the other pushes the extent of their mind. And if you swapped them, they'd each be equally out of their depth. If the paint brush doesn't belong in your hand, give it to the person that it does and move on. No shame.

No one has the magic cure for inactivity. 
You will never find a book that will tell you why you don't
-eat well
-run more
-work out
-anything else.
Not to say that diets don't work or that self help books are a hoax, but if they're the place you're looking for "the answer" then you're knocking on the wrong door. Pay attention to your interests. In the earlier section I said I didn't like sports. Competition lies on an uncomfortable balance between frustration and tedium for me. Cool, then sports aren't the way I get into shape. I am not fond of celery. It is not something I enjoy eating. And so, celery centric diets will not be for me. Pay attention to your body, it was placed in your care for a reason.  Don't try to make it into a shape it isn't. Respect it. Know the difference between skin and fat. So much of healthiness and fitness is subjective, it's hard to give hard and fast advice in this instance.
One thing to watch out for though, don't buy fun house mirrors.


You're not vain for wanting to look good and be fit.
Your body is the most precious gift that you've been given. It's been with you since your first breath and will be until your last. Treat it as such. Take care of it. Clean it. Make it presentable. But don't make it your number one priority. Think of it as your long standing no-nonsense cop partner. You two work together for the better of mankind, your first priority is the job, the second is each other. Making it better is good, making it your God is not.

You are not a snob for being fit. 
In "treat-yo-self" culture, it's all to easy to forget that your body should be a priority at all. People tend to forget that the cost of doing what you want to do might not be worth it in the end. As such, they can have a tendency to look down on people who do want to take care of themselves, people who skip dessert or don't go to McDonalds because they worry about with their health. Wanting to take care of yourself is an act of faith, you want to show God that food and comfort does not come before Him and that you cherish the body that He gave you. Because, in the end, He's the one who made you the way that you are. He's the one who decided how short your legs would be, how wide your hips are, how round your face, how vibrant your hair is. And He didn't just pick a bunch of things at random and mush them up into you. He crafted every cell in your body with love and care. Luke 12:7 says "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are more valuable then many sparrows." God did not make any mistake in you and taking care of it is showing God you believe that and are satisfied with the decision He's made.

If you don't fit into the pants sizes available at a certain store, that's not the store personally telling you that you are fat. 
Okay, yes, this is transparently something that has bothered me in the past. Hear me out and see if this seems familiar. For all the nit picking I can do about my appearance, I have never considered myself to be fat. I am tall, yes, and at the same time I am not made out of toothpicks. I have curves. Because of this, I cannot shop at Forever 21. Great store, great stuff, great prices, not for me. (#notsponsored) (#notevenpopularenoughtogetsponsored) That store designs for people who have the kind of figure that looks good in formless clothing, most things there make my shape look fat. I remember when I was a junior in high school my grandma took me shopping there and no matter what I tried on it always directed attention to my tummy pouch or to my bust. By time I got out of the dressing room I felt so embarrassed I was nauseated. And then I got mad. How dare they discriminate against me with their small waist lines and their flow-y shirts. DO THEY THINK THEY'RE BETTER THEN ME? HAVE THEY PUBLISHED A SURREALIST GOTHIC ABOUT A MENTALLY SLOW LITTLE GIRL WHO SEES GHOSTS AND WORKS AT A FUNERAL PARLOR? NO I DID NOT THINK SO.
But here's the thing I realized. It only seems to be discrimination when it's for small or skinny types. You pass by a store in the mall for plus sized woman and give them a round of applause because good for them, they know what's up. They get it. Sure, you still can't wear the clothes because it's still not your body type but thank goodness that SOMEONE'S fighting against the man. Yet when it comes to the Forever 21's, the Pac Sun's, the Guess's, they're just being elitist. Disgusting.
Guys, not all stores are for you. It's no different if your too thick or too thin. The entire corporate structure of the store is not looking down on you from atop their ivory towers and slowly shaking their heads.

A couple more notes.
-Don't work out because you have to, that never works.
-Don't be healthy because you want a different body, be healthy so that you can protect the one you have.
-Being active is not as big a deal as everyone makes it out to be.
-Eating right is not as big a deal as everyone makes it out to be.

That's all I got. Thanks for bearing with me. 'Til next time nerds.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

_News: Finals and writing a book and work and street fair planning many other shenanigans so here. *shoves a pile of scraps from desk* *stalks back to desk* *cat settles on lap*

*home life=happy life

being doodtiful to my doodling. *high fives self* *feels a bit to proud*

have you listened to this? 
Giselle "Silk" by Favored Nations

got plans for youtube as well, stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

_News: It's happened guys, I am Undertale trash. Full blown, AU trolling Undertale garbage._

It's been said before but it is a golden age for the independent artist. With real practical means to market and distribute product, consumer art is no longer defined by what is the most popular or what pleases the most amount of people. Not only that, but new ways of supporting one's self through thoughts are being explored, breaking down a long standing barrier between art and those who would admire it, the price tag. Yes, artists are freer then they've been in decades and it is all thanks to that lovely all-encompassing monster we call the internet.

And I gotta tell ya, as someone who on the best of days has no money, I'm loving this trend.

I'm talking about indie games, youtube channels, online comics, blogs, all of it! Things that are made by independent creators out of love. Is all of it professional quality? No, far from it. But it's worth a look anyway, for so many different reasons. One, it promotes the growth of new ideas. Right now the status quo when it comes to art and media of any kind is signing with a big company and answering to the public before answering to yourself (which isn't so much bad as it is dangerous), just because that's how you make a living off of art. Notice, making a living off of art is not the same as making money off of art. No artist wants to admit that they need to sell to eat to live but we do. But that's a balance that's starting to change, thanks to the internet, thanks to crowdfunding and thanks a more accessible line to artistic sponsorship. The result of all of this is a more intimate relationship not only between creator and creation but between creator and audience. And this relationship has created some pretty awesome weird and gross stuff.  And so, with all that rambling out of the way, I want to share some of the best places to get free content and shine a light on some of the best independent creations out there. (This'll probably turn into a series of posts, seeing I'm constantly discovering new things to fall in love with.)
This site is a hub for independent comic creators to showcase their work, much like youtube is for video creators. You don't need to jump through hoops or sign any contracts to get your work out there, just upload and go. The rest is up to you. I personally love this place because of the variety of stuff people put out there. You can find anything from 4-Panel funnies to full blown Manga epics. Plus, their staff is pretty dedicated to shining a light on work with potential. If they see something with an interesting plot, even if the art isn't necessarily up to snuff, they'll still put a feature on it. I browse their features nearly everyday and, speaking from personal experience, they have pretty good taste. I will go ahead and warn you that if you go far enough down the rabbit hole you will find some sub-par stuff, but you have to look for it. Front and center is usually the goods, the veteran creators that really have a love for what they do and excel at it. Couple of comics on there worth checking out are King's Folly by Whispwill and Owlturd Comix by Shenanigansen (Excuse the icky name but that dude is hilarious).

Night Vale Presents
Excuse little old me if you've already heard of this gem (it's gained quiet the following over it's lifespan), but shame on me if I didn't bring up Welcome To Night Vale because GOSH DIGGITY DERN THIS IS GOOD STUFF WANT SOME GOOD STUFF HERE'S SOME. Originally just a passion project with Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor (with the soothing sounds of Cecil Baldwin on vocals),  Night Vale presents started out as a bimonthly podcast serial, a community radio station in the middle of the desert where every government conspiracy theory is true. Quirky is putting it lightly. Since then these guys have started going on tour with live shows, have put out a novel that's made the New York Times Best Sellers list, and have started another serial podcast called Alice Isn't Dead. This is an indie project that you can expect outstanding quality from, there is little difference between this and studio work when it comes to production. Give them a look and you'll be in for a fun, weird time.

OverCloccked Remix
Fans make the best stuff, they really do. From parodies to music to merch, when fans get invested they redefine what a passion project is. OverClocked Remix is where you can find such projects. It's a huge hub strictly for remixes and melodies of video game soundtracks and guys, the things these people do with source material is mmmmmm so tasty. In it's time (which it's my understanding that this site is a relic from 1999 if you can believe it) has even garnered attention and praise from the original creators that created the material they were remixing. It's an especially great resource for other independent creators because (don't quote me on this) as long as you give credit where credit is due you can use this music for anything. Almost all of it is available for free download and it's great as background music for videos or podcasts or even as trance music for focusing on work. I will say, although through all the time I've used it I've never encountered it, seeing as it's a hub and not just one over all company working together there's bound to be some lousy stuff on the site somewhere. But, much like tapastic, you have to really look to find it, the amount of stuff on this site is mind boggling. They have a remix for almost every video game soundtrack I can think of off the top of my head. (Expect for Animal Crossing tracks. Come on OC, get on that.) But, seriously, give it a looksie.

That's all I got. 'Til next time nerds.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Education has been on my mind this year.

Well, this semester. There's been an ongoing discussion about it in my speech class and ever since it's been popping up all over the place in my life. So I really feel like talking about it because for some reason it's so gosh darn fascinating. Now, I haven't really formed my own concrete opinion on it just because, in a way, I'm still a part of it so it's hard to come at it unbiased. Also I feel like I don't know enough about how it works to really back up my own opinions and suggestions. So I've been more listening to others then I have actually critically thinking about it, so here's the general opinion that, for now, I agree with. (Also acknowledge that this is a GROSS over-generalization of the public school education system. Some schools might not even have the problems I am addressing in here.)

As a whole, it needs to improve. The one-size-fits-all system we have right now fits no one anymore.

There needs to be more variety.
I know it would be a monumental task but we need to have our education system meet the child rather then the other way around. I'm not saying personally create a different curriculum for every individual child, but take this into consideration. It's been proven that every child learns differently. In a general sense they tend to do well either in auditory learning, visual learning, or interactive learning. So why not create a test to see which way any given student leans and then place them in core classes taught by someone who specializes in that specific type of learning process. I don't claim to know how easy or difficult this would be, but I can't imagine that I'm the first person to come up with this idea and it seems very possible so what is holding us back? That's just a small way to increase learning and it would still make a world of difference.

There needs to be more creativity.
For as long as I've been alive (that admittedly being not very long at all) art programs have always been considered "extra curricular" and been treated as an optional way to keep kids invested in school, more so geared towards the well being of the student then serving any sort of academic purpose. As such, when cuts need to be made, they are the first to go.
This is a gross underestimation of what classes that encourage creativity do.
Classes geared towards creation force students to think beyond picking A B C or D, they teach creative problem solving. Now, you can argue that yes this generation has this or no this generation lacks it but none of that will change the fact that creativity is integral to society, even more so then just factual knowledge which right now the public school system (in my experience) favors. This isn't to undercut basic comprehension (what math science and english generally teach), because clearly that's important too. But when you cut out or undermine creativity (drama, art, music) it's like halving education, teaching kids only half of what they need in order to succeed. When it comes right down to it, people have to know how to think outside of the choices presented to them. Creativity is so much more then we give it credit for.

There needs to be more learning. 
Say it with me now, kids do not need to be taught how to ace a test. Knowledge retention after you leave high school is so low. When I was fresh out of high school to have at least a flimsy grasp on algebra, but now, a mere three years later I've forgotten almost everything I learned. I was helping an eighth-grade girl with her homework the other day and I couldn't solve her work for the life of me! Obviously at one point I knew how, I passed the test I was given at that time, but after that it was virtually worthless to me.
Maybe this goes hand-in-hand with the creativity problem but it seems like school curriculums have become more like glorified study groups then actual classrooms. They drill in concepts, give a test, then move on. Lather rinse repeat. It's no wonder that knowledge retention just doesn't exist. And if we don't remember what we learn then what even was the point of learning it to begin with? Not for nothing but if I wasn't going to use these skills later then why was I learning them rather then actually doing something productive instead? It can be argued that learning for the sake of learning creates a well rounded individual, a sort of societal boy scout who's always prepared for anything. But, again, what is the point if that boy scout is going to loose all the lessons he's learned and all the equipment he's gotten as soon as he leaves the program anyway? Classrooms need to be re-geared towards not just teaching math and science and english and art, they need to instill it into their students. These things need to be practiced in a practical manner, outside of the context of a piece of paper in which they'll eventually get evaluated for nothing more then the trade off of being able to move on in their studies. Science, I will say, is probably the closest thing to getting this right. Outside of tests they experiment with the things they learn, they're able to play around with them and see how they effect the world.

I've already gone on long enough so I'll close with this. Right now, despite all I just said, schools right now aren't that bad. Obviously they're doing something right if society is still functioning, technology is progressing and humanity is advancing. (You can argue all those points on some level but hey, I'm just happy that as a species we've stayed away from cannibalism for the most part.) It's just that, like most things in this world, it's a work in progress. And I'm sure once we find a better system it'll still have flaws much like these. But, that's just my humble barely-educated opinion. Honestly, if you're reading this (whether you're my fan, friend or fam), I'd love to know you're take. Comment below if this whole thing got you thinking. Also, scroll down a little more for some links, they're the things that got me thinking about all of this in the first place.

'Til next time nerds.

The Creativity Crisis:
TED Talk: Sir Ken Robinson's Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Friday, February 12, 2016

_News: Book review with Princess Faith is up, see it here._

Ladies Gents and Germs, I have a confession to make. I, Nikmacpattywak, am a fan of coffee. I know, shocking. I love coffee. I love drinking it,  I love pictures of it, I love pictures of me drinking it. Also, coffee has very little to do with this post.

So, in church we're going over Philippians and how to be a "cool christian", or how to be one that's grounded, and one of the first things that my pastor went over is how to deal with difficult situations. He described it as this, when you are in hot water, be a coffee bean. Most of the time when something is placed in hot water it either dissolves or hardens but coffee changes the water while remaining the same. As followers of Christ, we should be the same, tough situations don't have the power to break us but in our faith and with help from Christ we can change the situation, no matter what it is. It was a really good metaphor, I wish I had come up with it.

But here's the thing, what happens when the coffee is already coffee?

I think a common problem in a seasoned Christian's life is what to do when life is normal. God calls us to devote every second of our lives to him, but we're not spending all those seconds on mountains screaming His name. Sometimes, we're just sitting there drinking the coffee we worked so hard to make. It's okay to admit it guys, life is boring sometimes.

Boredom has a tendency to disconnect me from God.

It's hard to think of waking up in the morning and going to work and eating Cheerios as acts of service to God and when I feel like I'm not serving God I feel empty. Like, that's what I was put on earth to do, to love and serve God, and it's SO easy to do that when you're at Jesus camp or Feed My Starving Children or Sunday morning. Heck, it's easy to feel that way when you bring God into a conversation with your not-yet-Christian friends. But when I'm sitting on my couch with Mo's butt in my face trying to watch Arrested Development, how is that serving?

Here's the thing that I'm realizing as I write this, that's service in the way of investment, like reading your bible. Sure, you're getting spiritually fed, but you're also storing knowledge for later, knowledge God will for sure be taking advantage of. It's the same when you're quell. When you eat, you build energy and maintain your body. When you watch TV or are working, you are adding to experience to your database. All things that God intends to make good on later. Still service, just passive. Prep work.

I guess that still leaves the issue of feeling connected to God. To that I say endure. We're all going to hit empty points, we can't be full throttle all the time. And if you're really a seasoned Christian then God's always going to be in the back of your mind, you'll always be aware he's there. That's a good as it gets sometimes, and still leagues better then being without. Just remember that there'll be another day where you make coffee again, when you'll feel Him there in your bones.

That's what I've got. 'Til next time nerds.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

*If you prefer to read, script below*
What up nerds, this is an update. If you are a person who don't care about updates then I can respect that, why don't you go enjoy some Sonic tater tots instead? As for the rest of you, might have noticed my blog is different now. You might have also noticed that I haven't posted a video in quiet some time. You might also notice that this is not Geeks Under Grace, where I usually upload. All of these things happened for the same reason. I am no longer with Geeks Under Grace. It's a bit of a story, one that perhaps isn't best shared here, so let's not linger. I'm not done making videos though, make no mistake of that. I'm going be on my very own channel now, the nikmacpattywak channel, where I'm going to focusing more on talking about the craft of writing and how its implemented. Fans of GUG will recognize the series I started shortly before I left, The Geeky Writer's toolbox. That will be on this channel. What else will be on this channel? Videos about the lore of different franchises, whether it be comics or video games or books. Vlog reviews done with friends of things that I pick up that I love or hate. Inconsistent uploads because I am in college and at some point I'd like to sit down and eat. And maybe much more, I don't know what's going to happen but I trust God with it! So, if you're new to the channel or new to me in general I have the last two episodes of Geeky Writer's Toolbox, click on the screen or in the description for that. I'm working on episode number three or maybe a vlog review of The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness with Princess Faith because it's the new book love of my life. So look forward to either of those, soon. ish. I also have a new thing up on my blog, it's called {here's how we make the world a better place} and I'm guessing you should read it.
And, lastly, don't forget that you have a great God and he is with you every step that you take.

The Geeky Writer's Toolbox
Ep. 1-Starter's Kit
Ep. 2-Hitchhiker's Guide to Characters

_Stop making fun of people for auto correct typos. Auto correct needs to get its crap together, we all know that. We can't always be on top of it. We've tried, we've failed. Time to move on with our lives. And I feel like all the time we waste making fun of people for typos is time we could spend curing cancer or making a decent Superman movie. (#lowkeyburn)

_On the train, your space is your space and my space is mine. Listen, gentlemen, I see you. I know that on the train we're not supposed to make eye contact but when you sit next to me I see you with your peacoat and your samsung and your fashionable jawline scratch. I see you weigh about the same as me. Heck, you may even weigh less, and I forgive you for that. But I fit in my seat. Look at me, legs together, backpack on my lap, not intruding into anyone else's world. Like, don't worry, you be you and I'll just be here listening the Welcome To Night Vale. No problems. But you, that's a different story. You just need to chill. You've got your body fanned out and relaxed and no, it's cool, I guess you own this train and I don't have a corporeal form that you're shoving elbow up against. Don't be that guy, stick to your box.

_I really don't care when you got into twenty one pilots. I don't, honest. You shouldn't either. I'm happy that you've had them in your life for such a long time, that doesn't make you better then me. I could just as easily listen to their old stuff. In fact, I think I will. And then I will cry. Because twenty one pilots.

_Everybody should be your different favorite. I don't have many friends. Those I do I cherish. My Mom is my favorite Mom because she does the Mom things. My Sean is my favorite Sean because he's awesome at Sean-ing. My Mocho is my favorite Mocho because she's a technically cat but she doesn't let that stand in the way of her being a dog. Everyone can be your favorite something.

_Kingdom Hearts 3. Let's make it happen people. No more 2.8 bull.

_Smile at people in hallways. I get it. You're repulsed by me in general, I'm repulsed by you in general. It's not an ideal situation. But honey, the day ain't getting any better and we've still got eight hours of it so let's just pretend.

_If people are pretty, tell them. We hear at least 10 negative things about us a week, let's add something nice to the mix. Don't worry, I'll start. I like your bow tie. Bow ties are cool.

_Toilet etiquette. If you don't know it then let me refresh you. Gentlemen, seats down when you are finished. This bothers people. I don't know why, but it does. People in general, replace the roll when it's gone. I promise you the person behind you will not notice until it's too late. That's not on them, that's on you. Don't do that to people. Lastly, if the toilet is clogged, inform the master of the house. Yes, you will be embarrassed. Yes, the master will be mad. I feel like you'll get over it.

_Pregnant people eat pickles. That's not really a life lesson, just something I learned that's interesting. Kinda a tongue twister too. Pregnantpeopleeatpicklespregnantpeopleeatpicklespregnantpeopleeatpi-

That is all. For now. 'Til next time nerds.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

_News: School starts next week._

Valued Reader, I'm trying. I'm trying really hard to not be the type of person who needs to talk about everything that happens to me professionally, whether it be good bad or just plain ugly. But, seriously, I just got an awesome rejection. I loved it. It was the best.


I said in my last post that I had gotten published for the first time. Yes, true, but that wasn't the first time I tried.
*takes a sip of coffee*
*stares meaningfully out at the world at large, contemplating the bigger mysteries of life*
Once, Reader Dearest, I was but a child. And as a child just growing into a practice that would become a passion, I thought what most my age thought. I was invincible. Nothing could touch me. What a fool I was. *but seriously* When I started high school I really started writing hardcore. I spent all my study halls in the library at the computer working on what would eventually become my first three written novels. Yes, Reader, I was working on a series. That series was called Scrapper: The Connection Reborn. That title, it should tell you what you need to know about that particular project. But wait, it gets better. It was a Young Adult Paranormal Romance birthed from the era of Twilight. As I said, what a fool I was.
If I were to honestly grade it now, being a somewhat more seasoned writer, I'd give myself a solid C. It wasn't terrible, it had it's interesting points. The cast was diverse and I somehow managed to avoid most cliches. All the same, the prose was horrendous and it had so many holes it may as well have been a Manitowoc County police investigation. (yesIcanbetopical) (alsoI'mneverlivinginwisconsin) (I'malsoreallyproudofmyselfforthatjoke). But anyway, none of this was the point.
So, here I am, with a finished novel by the end of freshman year. Already getting to work on the second. What do I do? I try to get it published of course. What else do you do with books, read them? That's for babies.
As you can imagine, I got many rejections. Many. 'Bout twenty if I'm not mistaken. To be fair to myself and the agents that passed, it was a good call. That book should not be published. But most of those rejects were out-and-out we-didn't-even-look-at-the-book slush pile rejections. Ones that were automated responses. Ones that replied to my pen name rather then my real one. (yesItriedtohaveapenname) (nowe'renotgoingtotalkaboutit).
So now, seven years or so later, I'm actually decent at writing. And I'm submitting. And I'm getting real responses back. Responses that say "yes we've really read your work and we like it but it's not for us" type so. So I wake up this morning and I find one such email in my inbox this morning. It says this.

Dear Nikki,

Thank you for sending "The Great Oak of Hypothetical Nowhere" to [redacted]. While we appreciate the opportunity to review your work, we will have to pass on this submission. The story is delightful, but it's not quite right for us.

We hope you find a good home for this story, and we look forward to seeing more of your work when we next open for submissions. Thanks for sharing this one. It's got great energy, and the character relationships are fantastic. I fell in love with Aggie instantly, and Eileen is just as charming.

[Really respectfully editor who deserves nice things]
Senior Editor

Look at that! They read it! They liked it! It just wasn't for them! They also asked to see more of my things! It's all right there! What more could you want from a rejection? I tell ya, this just makes my day. I feel like I'm hugging a puppy right that, that is where I'm at.

In other news, The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness is the new book love of my life. Props to Friend of the People Faith for recommending the book and Patrick Ness for not making me cry. Plus, Friend of the Nation Darby lent me a book called Madman and, no joke, someone stabbed it. It came in the mail with a stab mark. In the envelope too, so she says. One of the more interesting things that has happened to a book, or so I suppose. Finally, I haven't been on Geeks Under Grace in a while. That's on hold for now. Stay tuned, I'm not done making videos.

'Til next time nerds.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen, your attention PLEASE. I would like to inform all of you that I am no longer "theoretically" a writer. No, we opened up this box and after we scooped out the cat who had technically been dead for the entirety of Schrodinger's lecture we found a real life bonafide miracle. God is real.
_And in other news I am published.

First thing's first, click here and here and here and here and not here to read the Mr. Pascal's Funeral Parlor on Literally Stories' website where I am an author and have an author page which you can see by clicking here and here and it's dangerous to go alone click here.

Second order of business, GIFs.

I could go on, but that might not be safest for everyone.

Third, the story.

So all of my writing friends got to talking without out me there one day (not salty I swear) and they were like "hey wudn't b funni if we started 2 b pros w/o nikki" and I was like "not cool gais" so after they got some short work floating around I started thinking of submitting. Good thing about being in a creative writing program is that there's a sub-department dedicated to getting you out there with your face and your beautiful words. (There is literally an event where they press send on your submission email for you.) So I start workshoping some stuff with them and researching markets and while I was looking for completed stuff to submit I found this piece which is clearly a rip off of a Panic! At The Disco music video, which I wrote in high school, and I was like lol sure, never going to get published though. I send it in and they basically tell me it's ready to publish so I write my cover letter and draft the email and attach the work and then I'm like "...This could prolly use twenty more edits" and they were like "nah, it's done bro" and I press a dainty finger to their collective lips and said "shhhhhhh...."
One sunday morning of an indefinite amount of days after this occurred I talked to my mother about this conundrum. This is also the day that I learned that I have nausea-inducing publishing anxiety. Her advice to me was this. Worry about it tomorrow, today just relax and focus on Jesus. 
So of course I ignored her advice and went to tinker with the email. I changed a period to a coma and went to save it and then oops, pressed send.
_This, my friends, is how the Grinch stole Christmas.
Six days and three stress balls later and I receive this email while unloading a truck full of food with my father.

That is right, dear reader. Adam West, aka Batman, had decided to publish my story. And I choose to end the tale there. 

Four order of business, the feels. 


That is all. 'Til next time nerds.