Monday, January 25, 2016

Some of the Best of 2015

I was pretty busy in 2015, but I did manage to consume a decent amount of art. So here's a quick rundown of some of my 2015 top 5s!

Top 5 Blogs I Wrote:
1. The Quest for Forgiveness: A Busy Post-Conversion Evening
2. Surprise Blog! And It's a Movie Guessing Game
3. Answering Extroverts' Questions About Introverts
4. Introverts Are Not Fragile
5. The Most Depressing Disney Songs

Top 5 Movies I Saw For the First Time:
1. The Last Five Years (2014)
2. Inside Out (2015)
3. Whiplash (2014)
4. Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005)
5. Captain Blood (1935)

Top 5 Songs I Discovered For the First Time:
1. You'll Be Back from Hamilton the musical
2. (Never Gonna) Steal My Joy by Mandisa
3. Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding
4. Do You Really Need Her by Harry Connick, Jr.
5. WTF (Where They From) by Missy Elliott

Top 5 Books I Read:
1. Fight by Preston Sprinkle
2. Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story by Adam Rex
3. Five Flavors of Dumb by Anthony John
4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
5. Gentleman's Agreement by Laura Z. Hobson
(As you can probably tell, I've been reading through my collection of Kindle books alphabetically. In 2015 I read from E-H.)

Top 5 New Board Games I Discovered:
1. Coup
2. Legendary (both Marvel and Encounters)
3. Splendor
4. Concept
5. Codenames

How about you? What were your top 5... anything of 2015?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Introverts and Extroverts in the Hundred-Acre Wood

The other day, I watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh for the first time in at least a decade, possibly two. It was that surreal experience of rewatching a film you haven't seen since you were a young child and still somehow remembering all the words because you watched it so often then, they stuck in your mind for years.

The first two stories are pleasant, but I found the third one absolutely fascinating in terms of my own life and who I've become over the last few years.

It's the story of Tigger, who bounces everywhere and all around people's lives without regard for them, and Rabbit, who is driven absolutely crazy by Tigger's bouncing and will go to any lengths to stop it. And all I could think of as I watched was, "...That's absolutely me and some of the extroverts I've known."

Most of my extrovert friends are kind, gracious people who are beautifully aware of themselves and don't just steamroll over others. But I have known a few who... did not have that self-awareness and happily just bounced themselves into my life, uprooting my garden and destroying my house and insisting that bouncing is what they do best and if I was upset by it, that was my fault, not theirs.

I saw poor Rabbit constantly harassed by Tigger, who, despite Rabbit clearly being uncomfortable with him, continued to push and push, determined that he could get Rabbit to see his way eventually.

And... I'm not sure how I feel about the ending.

For those of you who don't know the story, Rabbit gets completely fed up with Tigger making a mess with bouncing and attempts to lose him in the woods forever (which, sheesh, is kind of dark) only to get lost himself and need to be rescued. A bit later, Tigger bounces himself up a tree and gets stuck because he's afraid of heights, and he rashly promises that he'll never bounce again if only someone will help him get back down. When he does return to the ground, Rabbit holds him to his promise and Tigger, crestfallen, walks off, and then Pooh and all of his friends lament how sad Tigger is and how they "like the old bouncy Tigger best," and then Rabbit says he guesses he does too (though I am not entirely convinced he meant it -- he was pretty clearly being guilted into saying it), and then everyone is happy and they all bounce together.

That's not really the answer I was looking for as an introvert. Because while I don't think Rabbit should keep Tigger from bouncing forever, the fact is, Tigger is still going to make a mess of Rabbit's life with his bouncing, and that's never really addressed. The actual answer would be for Rabbit to say, "Here, bounce as much as you like, but don't bounce me," and Tigger would say, "Sure thing," and then everyone would really be happy.

As an introvert, the last thing I want to be told is that if I just lighten up and realize that the extrovert really is the fun one, I'll be happy. Because I may be having a perfectly good time by myself, and for an extrovert to come along and disrupt that for their own enjoyment shouldn't be something that's OK.

This definitely didn't hit me the last time I saw this movie -- but the last time I saw it, I didn't know I was an introvert, let alone that it was OK to be one. It does a pretty good job of setting up the story as if both the introvert and the extrovert would see the error of their ways and change to help the other... but in the end, only the introvert actually does. The extrovert doesn't have to change a thing. That doesn't seem quite fair to me, and it's a little disappointing for a story I loved so much as a kid.

Monday, January 4, 2016

My New Year's Resolutions

It's a new year. It's 2016. I apparently didn't make any kind of notable resolutions for 2015, so I can't tell you how I did there.

2015 was a very busy year, thanks to my cross-country move and finally having a real job teaching theatre. It's been an amazing adventure and I'm looking forward to continuing to learn and grow as a teacher, a friend, a wife, a Christian, and a person in general.

So here's a few of the things I want to do this year.

1. Blog! I'm going to try a new thing this year. My teaching schedules gives me six furlough weeks spread throughout the year, mostly one every couple of months. My goal will be to use those weeks to try to get my blogs for the next month pulled together and written out. I may have to blog only twice a week, but I'd really like to return to regular blogging and not just like once a month when I have something I desperately need to say.

2. Live healthier. In particular, I'm hoping to get to the gym more often -- easier with this semester's schedule than last semester's -- and cut down on the amount of sugary snacks I eat. These are both doable and I'd like to feel better about it this year than I did in 2015.

3. Watch more movies. I have missed movies this year. 2015 was my lowest movie-watching year since 2008, when I spent the first eight months on the road with NLDC and watching no movies at all. I don't have to reach Movie Challenge Year levels, but I hope to see movies more frequently, especially now that I have MoviePass.

4. Reprioritize God. This second half of the year has been very busy and it's easy for God to get lost in the shuffle. I want to try and make sure God is at the forefront of my mind this year. I want to make sure I spend regular time in Bible study and I want to make sure I get back into the habit of praying for things instead of stressing out about them.

5. Get back in touch with friends. I attempted (very poorly) to do this last year, so I'm going to give it another shot this year and try to reestablish contact with far-away friends. 2015 was an exciting year but a lonely one, but there's no reason for me to be lonely when I have so many amazing friends, even if they are far away from me. So I want to make sure and contact these folks more often and make room for them in my life.

There are a lot of other little things I'm hoping to accomplish this year, but these are some of the biggest ones. This year I'm going to try to do a a six-month check-in at the end of June and see how I'm doing staying on track for this. I'm sure it'll go in fits and starts, but every step I take toward self-improvement is always good!

What are you folks hoping to accomplish this year -- big or small?