thoughts one encounters when taking/editing/posting photos of oneself in clothes

I had no idea my neck looked like that. Interesting.

Can I make the neck look different? What if I stretch it out a bit?

Nope. That just looks haughty.

Okay, make some goofy faces to loosen up. You can just delete them later.

WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY HANDS?

omg Are my hands disproportionately small?

Does the disproportionately small size of my hands indicate that my ENTIRE BODY is too large? That the weight I have accepted as ideal for my bone structure is actually much larger than ideal?

Dude, what? Why do you think about bone structure so much?

It’s the default comfort for tall girls. Don’t take that way from me.

Okay, fine. Smile at the camera. DO NOT LEER AT THE CAMERA.

CRAZY EYES. Delete.

Though, it’s not much worse than all the others. Bring back that crazy eye photo.

Maybe when I see “crazy eyes,” other people see “totally normal person who is alluringly passionate about life.”

Why is my face doing that weird thing? THAT IS NOT WHAT MY FACE LOOKS LIKE.

It happened again. Okay. Maybe this is my face. This is my face. It’s a great face. PEOPLE LIKE ME, WILLINGLY SPEND TIME LOOKING AT ME, AND DON’T MAKE COMMENTS ABOUT HOW WEIRD MY FACE IS SO MAYBE IT’S NOT WEIRD.

Some have even called me beautiful. I tend to interpret this as a not-just-skin-deep kind of beauty that expresses itself in the experience more than the image of me. Which is a preferable form of beauty.

Can this experiential beauty be captured in a photo? Let’s try.

Too sultry. DELETE.

Pretty-not-sexy. Pretty-not-sexy. Relax your shoulders. Lengthen your neck. Try not to be too intense in the eye. Smile.

Oh shit I started moving after the countdown but before the shutter so now this is blurry, but…I think…everything that’s not blurry is PERFECT.

Just do the same thing again. Just be perfect on command.

Ummm…I look like I’m farting in this photo. I didn’t even know I had a Passing Gas Face.

Look at the camera. Don’t look at the camera. Don’t look at the camera but look at a very specific area to the left of the camera.

Oh, no, that’s too far. You look distracted, not bemused.

Hrm. Too close. You just look like you’re incapable of making eye contact.

Smile? Not smile?

Resting Grimace Face is not the look I was going for.

How about an open-mouth smile.

Muppet Smile.

Try a fake laugh?

Okay, this is PERFECT, facially. POST IT.

Wait. No. WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY HANDS? HOW IS THAT EVEN HUMAN?

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a list of existential thoughts

(compiled in the middle of the afternoon on an uneventful day)

Who am I?  Why?  How does that express itself?  Are any of these expressions unhealthy?

What am I doing?  Do I want to be doing this?  Does that matter?  What else would I be doing?  Could I?  What’s standing in my way?  Is it merely fear of failing?

What other fears are holding me back?  Do I really want to ask that question?  Can I take it back?  No?

Why can’t The Internet entertain me sufficiently?  What is this big gaping hole I feel in my heart right now?  Is it supposed to be there?  Or is it leftover from something?  Did I put it there?  Did someone else?

Can’t I just take a nap?

8 books finished in 2015: The Meaning of Marriage

8 books finished in 2015

I did not intend for this to be the Winter of Tim Keller, but here we are with three books by him in a row (…ish). Thankfully, he quoted Jane Eyre in the final chapter, so I already know what I’m reading next. (JANE EYRE! REASON TURNED TYRANT! That wasn’t the section he quoted, but the section he did quote is equally disciplined, and he named yet another reason she is THE BEST and I LOVE HER THE MOST and then I spent the moments before sleep recapping, for myself, in dramatic fashion, the plot of the book, and IT IS SO DRAMATIC AND GOTHIC AND MY EVERYTHING!) (This is going to kick off a Spring of Bronte, since one of my friends is currently reading a Charlotte Bronte biography, AND I realized there are works I haven’t read available free for my kindle!)

Ahem. Back to this book. It has sparked so many good conversations and intellectual side pursuits in the past two weeks that I have been referencing it constantly! I couldn’t avoid talking about it if I tried.

Though, can we have this conversation with a dose of humility (on my side) and…ummm…restraint? I don’t miss the irony of finishing and posting this near Valentine’s Day. And I was reminded just yesterday, by a dear friend, that I’d REFUSED to consider reading this book last fall, even though my church community was reading and discussing it, at first because I was single and didn’t want to get caught up in a conversation about marriage, and then because I was starting to date someone and didn’t want to get caught up in a conversation about marriage. (Is there an echo in here?) Now, a few short months later, I’m seriously dating someone (here’s where the restraint comes in, folks – please refrain from winking and joking, because this is a vulnerable place), and realized that any idea I had about how that might look was totally off base, that this is a lot more work and vulnerability than I expected, and that I need a point-of-reference more comprehensive than Not A Chick Flick. (Because I will eviscerate a chick flick swiftly and mercilessly – apologies to housemates for whom I’ve ruined the viewing experience – but rightly naming something as shallow doesn’t necessarily mean you understand depth.)

“It is hard to get a good perspective on marriage. We all see it through the inevitably distorted lenses of our own experience.”

Welp. This book was awesome. I appreciate SO MUCH that Keller attacks our common idols – he points out all of the ways that society and culture and the church have wrongly viewed marriage (both historically and in the present), and he brings us back to the Bible, to what God says, to what Jesus says. It’s so refreshing that he acknowledges these influences but doesn’t necessarily engage with them, or pick a side, but instead offers a third choice.

I should definitely pull quotes from this. [Update: I tried.] Especially about the work of, the commitment to, the reasons for marriage. So level-headed. So realistic. So much more sustainable than romantic notions. [Yes. All of this. I tried to pull quotes, but realized that anything taken out of context was going to sound incomplete. And I don’t think it’s appropriate, or legal, to transcribe entire chapters onto my blog.]

“In this book we examine the Christian understanding of marriage. It is based, as we have said, on a straightforward reading of Biblical texts.”

That’s a fairly thorough summary. If you’re interested in that, I highly recommend this book.

Marriage haiku, based on the lessons of this book:
not a fairy tale.
no consumer transaction.
it’s tough, but fruitful.

travel-related thoughts

Just throwing some thoughts up here so they stop bouncing around in my head. Photos added to break them up.

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Andrea laughed at me yesterday, as I told her about my trip and kept mentioning places I want to visit again. She’s a much more seasoned (& avid) traveler than I am, and reminded me how I proclaimed to her, years ago, “Ugh! I just don’t understand why people travel. Can’t we just enjoy where we are? I have ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE TO GO PLACES!” (Paraphrase, with added whine to emphasize how easy it is to judge younger versions of self.)

International travel is apparently an acquired taste. Also, since I tend to learn from my mistakes, it makes sense that this trip would be much more successful than the last. (And it leads me to hope that my next trip would be even better.)

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Another friend, when I briefly told him about my trip and where we went, merely commented on how great it must have been to be exposed to so many different people and places. Instead of commenting on how beautiful or historical or exciting it must have been, he said, “That must have been eye-opening.”

I need to talk with him more about this, and learn his method of travel.

Bernina-4310

Before this trip, I not only read Art of Travel, which helped with managing expectations more than anything else, but I asked lots of questions. How do my friends travel? Why? What do they first notice when in a new place? What are their favorite ways to spend time while traveling? What do they hope to learn/understand? How much research do they do in advance? (In this area, I’m still trying to find a workable balance.)

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Not included: a mini-rant about the frivolity of travel and the icky escapism that I want to lash out against. Let’s just wrap that up with all of our rants about instagram culture, and maybe let’s try not to be too judgmental, and instead I’ll just be thankful for the privilege and joys of international travel.

(Photos taken in the Swiss Alps, from the Bernina Express. You’ll hear more about them later.)

I made this for you*

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This morning I woke up singing Again by Janet Jackson. SO! MANY! FEELINGS! Janet was one of the first CDs I ever bought (I don’t remember if it was this or Mariah Carey MTV Unplugged, but let’s be honest, there were thousands of adolescent hours devoted to both, dancing around my bedroom and trying to decipher their lyrics.) Also, her hair on that cover is yet another inspiration I didn’t even realize I was carrying in my heart.

[Falling down a Janet Jackson wormhole. Listening to the whole album. Feeling all the feelings. Trying not to pass judgment on myself or 1993, knowing that 2013 will be equally awful to me in another twenty years. Guilty pleasures FTW.]

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Sewing clothes. Wearing things. Too Much Frosting, Not Enough Cake. I have this desire to sew some unstructured tops, the type that all those fashion bloggers wear over their skinny jeans. But…I can’t figure out whether I’d actually wear them. But it reminded me of this lovely article about sewing clothes you want to wear on a daily basis. (Also, since starting the Wear Every Dress project, I’m casting a more critical eye on my entire wardrobe and the holes in it.)

Serious Question: will it become normal to quote the Anchorman memoir in addition to the original movie and the sequel?

THIS WOMAN. You’ve maybe already seen this on social media, since it was EVERYWHERE yesterday. My feelings about THIS are so much more complex and mature than my feelings about Janet Jackson (which I’m still listening to, btw, and am continually distracted by – random horn sections!) and every time I watch it I’m choking back happy tears, knowing how much work it is to choose delight over fear.

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Also: a lovely writer writing beautiful words about the process of writing. There are a lot of life parallels in there.

But there are wins—mostly tiny, and sometimes completely inconsequential to anyone but the writer

I had a surreal session with my counselor last night. We were both naming the ways in which I seem to have made progress, but I’m still just sitting back, staring at it, like, “Huh.” And I’m afraid to CLAIM anything as a victory, because there are so many things that are still broken, and now we’re getting to this point of reforming the theology underneath my assumptions. Like, separating my double vision – which is a constant and which I can not influence – from my emotional maturity and general well-being – which I can influence and which seems to be improving after a long year of hard work.

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*If I’m being honest, I made it for me. I’m just sharing it with you because I’m an extrovert and verbal processing is helpful.

[Images from my new sketch book, where I’ve been playing around with possible quilt layouts and falling in love with coloring and geometry all over again.]