Nerdtackular Links

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Sometimes I can be a little “geek chic.” It’s been an exceptionally nerdy morning for me out here in DC as I combed through Twitter onto a couple too-dorky-too-ignore links. Who better to share these with than my dear friends at SSG?

  • The Harry Potter Alliance – Mashable featured this nonprofit as one of 9 Non-Profits that Get Web Humor last January. While that’s a century ago in social media time,  I couldn’t help but be impressed with what I saw. After all, they are doing exactly what I want to do–make a difference in the world by getting people to care about the issues that matter by reaching out to them in new, fun ways on issues they already care about. Did I mention it’s fun?

Here’s their mission statement:

The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is a 501c3 nonprofit that takes an outside-of-the-box approach to civic engagement by using parallels from the Harry Potter books to educate and mobilize young people across the world toward issues of literacy, equality, and human rights. Our mission is to empower our members to act like the heroes that they love by acting for a better world. By bringing together fans of blockbuster books, TV shows, movies, and YouTube celebrities we are harnessing the power of popular culture toward making our world a better place. Our goal is to make civic engagement exciting by channeling the entertainment-saturated facets of our culture toward mobilization for deep and lasting social change.

  • My second nerdtackular link of the day also involves wizards and social media. Facebook founder, Sean Parker got married on June 1st in a lavish Lord of the Rings-themed ceremony. 10 million dollars of elvish lavish. And because everyone hates money when they don’t have it, there was some backlash. In what Social Times called “a Tolkienesque-length novel,” Parker took to Tech Crunch to respond to some of the media reports. Really, though, this is all about the wedding. Jaw. Still. Dropped. I want to go to there.
  • Lastly, and most excitingly, earlier this week Space.com reported that scientists identified 3 potentially habitable planets around the star Gliese 667C, about 22 light-years away from earth. These super-earths could host alien life forms. A couple years ago, I joined tens of thousands of Americans in signing a “We the People” petition asking the White House to officially acknowledge the existence of aliens. My decision to sign was more about the petition process itself than the content (although, um, yeah, obviously aliens exist *scoff*). That said, I was only somewhat disappointed at this response issued by the White House. ET may have phoned home, but nobody phoned the White House–yet. Anyways, promising stuff for Team Alien in the fight against Team Twilight.
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How to Fall in Love Every Day

Jack London once said,

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Recently, I’ve invited some of my friends to contribute to the Star Spangled Girl with guest blogs from “Everywhere in Between” to bring some new, interesting points of view. You can tell that someone isn’t a writer when they say, “Sure, I’ll write something when I’ve got some time.” While there are certainly legitimate time constraints that can prevent someone from being able to sit down and write 200-400 words that will suit my high standards, if I only wrote when I was inspired my page would probably be blank.

6a00e5521e68af8833012877a0490a970c-500wiIt’s a blessing to be able to write inspired. As the great writers of history have taught us, in the absence of inspiration, there’s always alcohol. I prefer caffeine–a Venti Skinny Hazelnut Soy Latte, thanks! If “blogging for a living” has taught me anything, inspiration is overrated. Inspiration can get you the first 10%, but after that, it’s work–a labor of love. In fact, writing is a lot like falling in love.

Coming up with a great idea is chemistry, it’s infatuation. It’s the spark that drives the pursuit. Then you’re off, not really knowing where things are going to take you. You fantasize about the idea, thinking of all the places you could go and the people you could quote. You brag about the idea, wanting to tell everyone who’ll listen about this new-found gem.

You’re dating the idea, seeing where things go. What are the possibilities? You have to open up a bit, allow yourself to be vulnerable. No good idea or relationship can begin without honesty and a willingness to be open, no matter how uncomfortable. Soon, you begin to uncover a bit more, there’s depth. Some of the things you thought you enjoyed about the idea, you may find less than appealing. Other things are even better than you thought. Another idea may tempt you, promise you other creative outlets to seduce you away. You weigh the pros and cons, decide if you want to proceed.

If you do, you’ve got to commit. You put the pen to the paper or your fingers to the keys. It’s not always easy, and it takes work. You’ve got to compromise–it’s called editing. You have to be willing to divorce yourself from things you thought you absolutely, unequivocally wanted and needed, like extra clauses or turns of phrase. If you focus too much on the little things, holding on to them for dear life, you can ruin an otherwise beautiful narrative. But if it’s the right piece, with enough work, you can usually write your way through it. Maybe you can really have it all.

Sometimes things get messy. You’re writing, trying your hardest. Not every idea is meant to be brilliant. You have to cut your losses. You may throw it aside, violently scrapping the idea that you once held so dear. Or you may choose to publish, accepting that while it wasn’t what you expected and hoped, it’s time for you to gracefully move on to another idea.

Once it’s over, you may never want to see it again. Then, one day, you stumble upon it, running into it in an unexpected place or seeking it out in a moment of weak nostalgia. You might rediscover the love you once felt, rekindle a passion and excitement. Otherwise, you may tip your hat to it, acknowledging that while it wasn’t your magnum opus, it was once something you loved with a reckless abandon.

Successful art is never quite finished. Like love, an idea will continue to evolve, far beyond the day it posts on a website. It deepens and expands, bridging to places you never quite expected when you first felt that spark of inspiration. You can continue to work on a piece of art, or a relationship, forever. In many ways, you should continue to allow the idea to develop and grow.

They say “If you love something, set it free.” This is publishing. If you over-edit and overwork your idea, like a relationship, it becomes stifled and stale. Set your idea free, into the world. If it’s the right idea, it will come back to you. You can continue to work on it, but it will stand up to the test of time–and Internet trolls.

To my brilliant friends, I encourage you to embrace the idea of blogging. Accepting that there is an element of reckless abandon, a vulnerability, an imprecision that it requires. There is no formula. You have to just embrace the unknown and trust your heart.

11 Things I’ve Learned in the Last 11 Months

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You can stop holding your breath now. I’m back.

It’s been a long 11 months. Working full time and trying to finish up my Master’s degree has taught me a lot–about the world, about myself, about life. In honor of my return to the blogging world (well, as myself), here is a list of 11 things I’ve learned while I’ve been away:

  1. Time is precious. I will never have enough of it, and I should value my time and the time of others. 
  2. People suck. Okay, most people suck, but when you find people who don’t…keep them close.
  3. Fruit’s not the worst thing ever. If you know me, you know I don’t eat fruit. Even as a child, I found it to be absolutely revolting. Over the last few months, though, I’ve given it a chance. As it turns out, it’s not all bad.
  4. Congress is absolutely incompetent. Enough said.
  5. Kim Kardashian’s life is a mess.
  6. Mo money really is mo problems!
  7. Living alone can be absolutely boring, but entirely peaceful.
  8. There is such a thing as too many baked goods.
  9. Endorphins can be addicting, but not as addicting as coffee.
  10. I’m now at an age where you congratulate your friends when they get pregnant, and it’s weird.
  11. Always take care of numero uno.

Oh…and all the words to this song:

An Excuse

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I figure writing this blog is good for a number of reasons, allow me to explain.

#1- Sorry I’m popular

I have a large family & a lot of friends. This means recounting, in excruciating detail and with equal fervor, the same events numerous times. Inevitably, someone loses out, taking that kind of dedication to storytelling is impossible- I get lazy or refuse to mention them at all. That’s truly a shame—my stories, like me, are amazing.

#2- Me talk pretty one day

I’m a much better writer than I am speaker. It’s true, I admit it. I talk a mile a minute and I get so caught up trying to keep up with my brain that I skip over the good stuff and drop the punchline. Don’t get me wrong, with enough planning in advance I can rehearse a story like no other, but there is no doubt that the written word is my medium. It just lends itself to a greater ability to use proper diction. To me, a finesse with diction is simply an extension of efficiency. Why use a bland word, or a string of words, when you can pause and think and use that word that brings out the soul of your meaning. Now that is art.

(PS. I will send something special to the first person to post where “Me talk pretty one day” comes from)

#3- What was I saying again?

I have a terrible memory. Don’t get me wrong, I remember the weirdest things. Like the face of that girl who was on my cheerleading team for a week 13 years ago. She was a quitter, I cannot forget the face of failure. But forget trying to pry information from my head if you ask me something practical like:

Nurse: When was the date of your last period?

Me: stares blankly, looks at the ceiling, thinks, continues thinking, squints, counts, closes her eyes, thinks, counts again, another blank stare, looks the nurse dead in the eye—maybe that will trigger something, maybe SHE knows the answer– I dunno. Sometime inconvieniant. Can I phone a friend?

Literally once I called a friend from the waiting room before my appointment to ask when I borrowed a tampon in preparation for this question. Although what does it say about her that she remembered the last time she lent me a tampon?

Wow, this post took an ugly turn. My sincerest apologies and deepest thanks for sticking through it.

About my memory, as demonstrated above in my graphic and grossly inappropriate example, it’s atrocious. So if you expect me to remember the things that happened even say, a week later, unless it was highly influential in shaping my worldview—you’re SOL. Instead, you will end up with a rambling of random things that happened at some point in time.

Me: There was a dog and a weather balloon and some lady was crying.
Confused Co-Conversationalist: Were they in the weather balloon?
Me: Oh no, that was last year. It just reminded me of that other time. But overall, I was really disappointed with the quiche.

Are you lost? I should hope so because that kind of nonsense is only intelligible to people on salvia and those with severe mental disorders. If I ever meet someone who can make sense of my half-remembered gibberish I will march them over to the church and marry them straight away—man, woman, horse, irrelevant! Clearly it’s kismet.

However, I’m going to confess that my concern is not with being able to accurately recount my adventures to other people. I’m far too self-centered for that. My concern is that I won’t remember for myself. So I’m creating sort of a real-time scrapbook forever woven into the tapestry of the internet. Like an elephant, the internet never forgets.

60 years from now, when my hair is grey (or heavily covered in dye), my eyes have long since lost their focus, my body is brittle and weak, and my ears are muted from rock music and cellphones—I will have my robot companion put in my hearing aid and read to me about my adventures as I knit my cat a sweater. Although there is a possibility that the future involves medical advances which stop the aging process, but thats a much less dramatic picture.

#4- Me, Myself and I

I know sitting around and reading about me discussing my favorite topic, myself is fairly annoying. But you know what’s more annoying? Sitting around and listening to me talk about myself for hours. This blog is a godsend. You can take as much of my self-centered ramblefest as you want, before you hit the vomit point and all you have to to is click away until you feel the need to return.

Even if no one reads it, it will satisfy my narcissism, preventing me from feeling the need to discuss every mundane detail of my life to you.

#5- I’m lazy.

Let’s be real. If I don’t call you, it may or may not be because I’m busy. I’m notorious for staring off into space for hours, yes HOURS, at a time. I don’t need TV or Internet to procrastinate. I just need my own mind and something to think about. So, the reason we haven’t spoken in 6 months is not necessarily because I’ve been so consumed with all those things I should have been consumed with (and probably told you I was consumed with). And furthermore, you aren’t the only person I have been unconsciously avoiding (without malintent-of course). The task of calling all those people and catching up is fairly daunting and I’m lazy. Instead, when one of us finally gets around to the awkward facebook chat or text, or God forbid phone call “Hey. What you been up to? It’s been forever.” I can simply type www.thestarspangledgirl.wordpress.com.

And hell, I know you, its better for you too! You don’t have to sit there for 2 hours and pretend to be interested(see #4) as I do a halfass job (see#1) of explaining events I barely remember (see #3) with mediocre skill (see #2).You’re welcome.

A toast: To blogs, friend to egocentricts and friends of egocentricts, alike

“I sincerely believe blogging can save America.”
~John Jay Hooker

Chapter 1: Beginnings

typewriter-chapter-oneI’ve always had an issue with blank pages. The potential it holds terrifies me and taunts me, knowing that I could never live up to the splendor that it could hold. So instead of venturing any sort of attempt, I’ve taken to staring at its pristine purity and turning away, effectively, denying myself a voice. Then even when I take that leap and, on occasion, create something that doesn’t make me want to immediately destroy it, I find myself halted by my own compulsion to maintain that level and keep it untarnished.

The moral of the story is: I’m too high strung to ever realize my full potential as a writer. Also, have low expectations for this blog–both in content and frequency of post.

This blog begins as one chapter of my life ends and another begins.

Allow me to propose a toast, “To new beginnings”

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.
~Lewis Carroll