Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Variations - Good or Bad? Well.....

Black and white.
      Sugar and salt.
Shadow and light.
      Quiet and loud.
Sad and happy.
      Love and hate.
Aromatic and odorless.
      Soft and prickly.


Ah, is that a different enough opening for you?  I'll explain it in a moment, but first, a brief introduction:

Lately I've noticed a lot of this:
Person A: "You're different, so there must be something wrong with you!"
Person B: "No there's not!"  Wait... is there something wrong with me?

I've noticed this personally, I've had several friends who I know have been through this (some still going through this), and I've seen people who I do not know much about at all, who are also going through this.  This post is to address it.  Because 1) I really feel that people like Person B need to hear something positive for once, to know they aren't crazy, and also 2) I am getting really tired of people thinking they have the right to judge what is "normal".

Okay, so the main thing I'm going to be addressing here, is the issue of extroversion vs. introversion.  Because this is the #1 thing I've seen my friends struggling with.

America is an extroverted country.  It just is!  I've heard that around 75% of the people in America are extroverts, and though I don't know if this figure is reliable, I do know that introverts are in the minority here. And so, we're surrounded by extroverts; people who don't mind chattering with people, don't mind being surrounded by people, are energized by people, are people persons... They love people!  And for the life of them, they can't understand people who aren't like them.  They look at introverts and ask, "What's wrong with you?"  "You need to learn to be extroverted!"  "You just aren't trying hard enough!"  "TRY HARDER!"

M'kay, I'm gonna clear some things up.

1) Though America is a largely extroverted country, guess what.  America is not the whole world.  Get this: If an extrovert goes to Europe, they're the ones who are going to be looked at funny.  European countries are largely introverted, and you know what?  It's okay.  So, if you're an introvert, surrounded by an army of extroverts like all the other introverts in America, take a deep breath and know this; the only reason you seem strange here, is because extroverts hold majority, not because there is something wrong with you.  You're just as normal as anyone else in that regard, so don't sweat it.  And next time an extrovert tells you that you need to learn to be extroverted so you'll be "normal", tell them to go to Europe and see how it feels to be the minority.

Before I go on to the next point, I want to make a point here.  I'm not meaning to bash extroverts with this post.  Honestly, this post could work both ways.  If I were writing to people in Europe, or some other introverted place, I might be encouraging extroverts and telling introverts to calm down.  But as I've never really experienced an introverted country, I can't really write to address it.  That is why I'm writing a post in this fashion; because America is what I've experienced, not because I hate extroverts.  I really do like extroverts, actually, they're entertaining and good at talking when I have no idea what to say!

Okay, next!

2) One does not learn to be extroverted.  You telling an introvert to learn to be an extrovert is like telling a bird to learn how to be a fish.  It doesn't work that way, people.  Yes, an introvert can learn to function around people, an introvert can learn to talk around people, but they cannot learn how to be an extrovert. Just as an extrovert cannot learn to be an introvert.  Extroverts draw energy from being around people.  Their brain is chemically made up differently.  That's right!  So unless you learn how to "fix" a brain, you're asking the impossible.  Research it yourself!  For starters, here is a link to an article about it:
Scientific Evidence for Extroversion and Introversion
So, one might learn to act like the other, but that is all it will be; an act.  An act that will cause more harm than good, because they aren't meant to be like that.  I can't express how angry I get when people tell someone they need to be someone they're not, when people tell another to change something that is an essential part of their being, something that is not meant to be changed.

Okay, back to the top.  Go read the amazingly mysterious opening lines I wrote.  Notice anything about them?  The first clump are opposites, right?  Black and white, sugar and salt, and so forth.  Any guesses as to how the second clump ties into the first?

Time's up.  Did you guess it?  The second clump are six very important things that we would not have without those opposites.  Roughly put.

If we didn't have black and white... and light and shadow... and purple and blue and grey and red and orange and all the variances in light and color, we wouldn't have anything to see, would we?

If there weren't salty and sweet and bitter and sour and all the in betweens, we wouldn't have anything to taste.  Right?

If there were no loud, but there was quiet, or if there was loud, but no quiet, we'd either be missing out on thunder and beautiful symphonies, or have blaring headaches.... and still be missing out on beautiful symphonies.

If there weren't variance in smell, if there were only one, constant scent, or no scent at all, what would we do with our noses?

What if there were no variance in touch?  What if everything we touched caused us pain?  What if everything were perfectly soft?  Everything equally soft.  What if there were no sorta-soft, or very-very-soft, or meh-not-so-soft?  We wouldn't know what soft was.  Why?  Because we'd feel it all the time, in the same way, and we would no longer have need for touch.

Lastly, and most important, what if there were no variance in feeling?  What if the only emotion we felt was sadness, day in and day out?  Always and forever, with no change?  What if the only emotion we felt was betrayal?  Or remorse?  And even if we only ever felt happy, what would that mean?  Happiness would lose its meaning, because we wouldn't have anything to compare it to.

Am I making my point here?  Overstating it?  Understating it?  Well, whichever it might be, I've made quite the long post, and shall now rap it up.

To those in the minority, the introverts; There is nothing wrong with being introverted.  It is normal, just a variance in personality, just as there is variance in sound and sight.  Don't believe the lie that there is something the matter with you because you're introverted.  Yes, it is good to learn to communicate and be able to function around people, but you don't need to become, you shouldn't, and you can't become, an extrovert.  Your brain is wired the way it is; there's no changing it, and there is no need to.  Most famous inventors and artists were introverts, and they made great impacts on humanity-- We wouldn't have lightbulbs without you!

To those in the majority, the extroverts; Don't ever tell an introvert that they are messed up for being introverted, and don't you dare ever tell them that they need to "learn to be an extrovert".  Telling someone they need to change their personality and be someone they aren't is the worst possible thing you could tell them to do.  Encouraging and helping them to function around people is one thing, disrespecting them because of their personality is another.  Also; keep up the extrovertedness and don't become introverts-- We introverts would be in just as much of a pickle without you as you would be without us.  Without extroverts we wouldn't have nearly as many awesome comedians and actors!

So there we are!  A long post that is hopefully illuminating, encouraging, and not too rant-y.

Until next time!
- The Raven

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Happy Accident, Blessed Providence, or Sad Misfortune?

Hey, all!  I know, it's been an unforgivably long time, about eight months if I'm right, but I'm back!  Hopefully consistently.

I suppose a quick update is in order first... During the course of this time I've finished another novel, thanks to the 3-Day Novel challenge, and made headway on the third book of the Raven series.  I'm still working my job at a preschool, and actually have taken on more hours there, as well as begun teaching my own class.  Granted, I'm only with that class for the mornings, but it's still been interesting as well as really great to get to know certain kids better, since I'm alone in a room with nine of them as opposed to with other teachers in a room of forty.  It's also been a little difficult, too, since being their new teacher means I'm being tested in new ways by them seeing what they can and can't get away with.

I've also decided to attend college to get a degree in Psychology, and will be beginning that next Fall.  Hopefully following a summer's long internship at a missions place.  Yes, it will be insane, but it will also be awesome, I'm thinking!

Okay, so now to explain the title, hm?

First, a story!  Because stories are fun.

I have a car, named Towanda, who I very much love.  She's eighteen-years-old, but also a Jeep, so she's holding up really well considering.
All right, so picture this: I'm going about minding my own business quite happily, when one day at work, I get asked to sub for a teacher, which means extra hours, which means extra money.  Of course, I agree, and so for sometimes a day, sometimes an entire week, I work extra hours.  I get an extra big paycheck at the end of the week, and I feel pretty happy as I stick it in my savings account.

Then, it happens.  My Jeep suddenly informs me that it needs a new part, sometimes expensive, sometimes not so much, and I end up using the majority of the extra money I just made to fix her.

This happens again.  And again.  And again, throughout the summer.  With pretty much complete consistency, every time I get extra hours at work, something comes up to eat the earnings.

Now, at first, I found myself being mildly frustrated with this.  I mean, really, what's wrong with saving up a little money in case of emergency?  Why do things keep happening to prevent that?  Why am I so preyed upon by misfortune?  Poor me!

Then it hit me... What if I had this turned around?  Instead of looking at it with the, "Every time I make money, something happens to take it away" lens, maybe I was supposed to be looking at it differently, quite the opposite way in fact:

Every time something unexpected and money consuming happens, I have extra money to take care of it with.

Once that hit me, I sort of sat back and thought, "Woah.... that's scary.  But cool."

Then I wondered, how often does this happen in peoples' lives?  In my life?  I mean, really, we all wail and cry about how each of us specifically has so many problems, but have we stopped to turn things around and look at them from another direction?  A direction that suggests we're not just helpless beings with no one looking out for us but ourselves?  How many hidden blessings have we missed, just because we had things turned around with the misfortune leading the way?

Call me crazy, silly, or too optimistic, but honestly, I'm fine with being called that, because if being "crazy", "silly", or "too optimistic" means I can stop worrying and stressing and pitying myself as much, then fine!  I'm crazy, I'm silly, and I'm too optimistic.  But I'll guarantee one thing on this matter; I'm happier in my supposed craziness than you are in your supposed sanity.

So there you have it!  My explanation and rambling thoughts that you may take or leave as you please.

Until next time! (which will hopefully be within eight months)
~The Raven

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Friendship and Selflessness

Define "friendship".

When typed into Google, I get:
  1. The emotions or conduct of friends; the state of being friends.
  2. A relationship between friends.

Webster Dictionary defines it in this way:

1: the state of being friends
2: the quality or state of being friendly

Seeing as that merely points us to the word "Friend", it seemed worth while to define that also. Webster Dictionary defines "friend" as:
1 - a : one attached to another by affection or esteem - b : acquaintance
2 - a : one that is not hostile

You may be wondering why I'm bringing this up. Well, it's been on my mind lately, and I decided that it would make a fun/hopefully interesting blog post.

As with any relationship, even a passing nod of the head to a stranger, misunderstandings happen. Sometimes because a person says something, meaning one thing, but the other party takes it a completely different way. Sometimes because a person does something, thinking it is completely all right, and it ends up being totally not all right.

I actually had the fleeting thought of, "Wouldn't be be handy and cut down on a lot of trouble if, when we met someone, we simply handed them a paper of what friendship meant to us in particular, and what our expectations were?" A friendship "code", if you will.

A moment later, I felt a bit bad for thinking this. Why? Because I realized it is completely the wrong way of looking at a friendship. Too many people go through their friendships looking for what they can get out of the relationship. This carries over into marriage, and I think has quite a lot to do with the number of failing marriages. People go into the relationship saying, "This person is so good for me!" and ask themselves, "How is this going to benefit me?" Me, me, me.

Now, I know, sometimes you simply have to think like that some, especially when it comes to long-term relationships. You can't just jump into something, being completely selfless (if "complete selflessness" is possible...), when the person you're getting involved with is extremely selfish and doesn't give your welfare a second thought. You'd get stomped into the mud. In this case, you have to do some thinking about yourself, unless you want to get locked in a relationship that is going to be detrimental to both of you. In a perfect world, we wouldn't have to worry about this, because everyone would be looking out for everyone. But sadly, this world is not perfect, far from it, and so we have to walk a fine line between being selfish and being selfless to the point of stupidity.

So, how should we approach friendships?

With an attitude less of, "What can they do for me?" and more of, "What can I do for them?".
Now, it seems a simple enough answer, but there are two parts to this. The outward, and the inward. Depending on personality, temperament, and how a person was brought up, one of these parts could be more easy for someone than another. Or perhaps neither will be easy. For some people, outwardly being selfless is more or less easy, but on the inside they're far from selfless.
I'll address each of these points.

So first, outwardly. The most obvious. Letting someone else have the last slice of pizza, letting someone go before you in line, making a meal for someone, helping someone with their chores... The list goes on. With the combination of my temperament and how I was brought up, this is the easy part for me. I'm quiet, so naturally I'm not as likely to voice my opinion, more likely to just go with the flow and let people do as they want, even if I don't particularly enjoy what that means. And I've also been brought up with the knowledge that I am not the center of the universe, therefore I shouldn't be always demanding my way and throwing tantrums when I don't get it.
So that is the first part-- Outward selflessness.

Second, is inward. Less easy to control, at least for me. You can let someone go before you in line, but then glare at their back when no one is looking. You say someone else can have the last piece of pizza, that you don't really care, but in reality, you do, and you give yourself a dose of self-pity as you think about the lost pizza slice. You help someone with their chores, but instead of doing it with a helpful spirit, you do it with the knowledge that now this person owes you a favor, and they'd better pay up someday. These lines of thinking pretty much destroy whatever you do outwardly. So. What, if you help someone out, if the next day you demand that they help you with something too, holding over their head how you were there for them last time? That isn't selflessness, it isn't friendship either. It's using the person for your own good.

Yes, sure, virtually everyone is going to expect something back for being a good friend. It's only human nature that if you do something kind, you expect that person to be kind back to you. It's polite, too. However, there is a line between "healthy" and unhealthy expectation.

I already described unhealthy expectation; The notion that since you did things for someone, they should do them back to you, and if they don't, you should confront them and remind them of how good a friend you are, and how they are falling so short of being a truly good friend, simply because they failed to do one thing for you.

"Healthy" expectation, to my knowledge, would be more along these lines:
You are a good friend to someone, helping them, comforting them, being their for them. Naturally, you hope they will be there for you when you need them. That, when you need help, they will return the favor. Not because they feel guilty because of what you did for them, but because they want to.
Shortly put, you shouldn't expect someone to return your favors to such an extent that you become angry when they aren't returned. You shouldn't consider that they owe you. That's business, not friend...ness...

Anyways. That is a bit of a long, ramble-y post.. hopefully I wasn't too confusing, and conveyed correctly what I think of this matter.

Until next time!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


"You're so talented!"

Who would think such a statement, spoken in all honesty, could bring on near depression? I sure didn't think it would, when one of my coworkers addressed me with that.

And yet, about half an hour later, I began thinking, "They said that I'm talented... Why? Well, they said it shortly after they learned I participated in swing dance. And it is no secret that I teach and play piano, take karate, write books, and do other kinds of dance. So why did she say I was talented? Because I do several different things. What she doesn't know, is that most of those things I merely dabble in, rarely exerting enough will power or time to follow through and become really good at said thing. I might never be good at those things in fact, no matter how much time I put into it! If she knew that, would she still call me talented? I doubt it. Because I'm not talented. I'm a wannabe dancer, a wannabe singer, a wannabe author... I'm nothing more than a wannabe and I'm not talented, and now I want to cry!"

That was what went through my head. Now, some of you might be shaking your heads, for surely if I analyze things to that extent, I'm crazy, right?

Well be that as it may, with that looming over me, I went to choir practice, where I sat in the midst of wonderful singers. Now, I sing Alto, which means I have to sing Harmony; not Melody. Which is a lot harder, but typically I enjoy the stretching of my skills and learning to do something new! Tonight however, I began to struggle with staying with the Harmony, and not going off with the Melody instead. And, as they are want to do, my earlier thoughts returned. See? I couldn't even sing right! And now I could focus even less on my music...

Now, I had a pretty good idea that I was being ridiculous; over-analyzing and worrying over a compliment of all things, and of course, where was my focus during this? I'm not talented. I'm a wannabe. Poor me, me me! Yep. In the middle of singing for God, I was going into depression over myself and what I did or didn't do.

Finally, while the director worked with the men on their parts, I began silently praying to be refocused on what was important. And what do you know, I began being refocused.

Sure, I'm not perfect in those areas. Personalities like mine set very high standards in things, and expect themselves to meet those standards. Anything less is failure. Sometimes those standards are too high. However, even if those standards were not too high, even if I was a complete failure at singing by anyone's standard, God isn't looking for people who are perfect! He's looking for people who are willing. People who know they come short, who offer up what little they can do, and trust God to take care of the rest. And then, give God the glory when He carries them through.

So, that is what I learned today. Or tonight, rather... I hope that, if you have thoughts like this, that this post may help you!

Until next time!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Life Goes On....

Well, my writing creeps on. I'm editing the third chapter of "Faerlocher", and am writing the rough draft of "Nightmare"'s chapter six. Having a little trouble having one of the characters in "Nightmare" (Zuriel, for those who know him) be a bit more alive. Despite that, I'm pretty happy with how things are going with that story at the moment.
Those two stories aside, I don't really have any other story news...

So, and shall talk about a random topic which has been on my mind lately. Last time I posted, it was about "Weirdness", how there's different kinds of weird and so on. Well, this time I want to talk about weirdness in another way. First, I shall ask you three questions.

1) Do you consider yourself to be weird?
2) Do others consider you so?
3) Are you really?

This probably is sounding a bit silly, but hear me out.
I have very often been referred to as being weird, strange, or eccentric. I have rarely cared that people have thought these things.
But, the other day, I started wondering; How much of my strangeness is an act, and how much is real?

The reason for this question is because, when I'm in public, I can be pretty normal. There are a few things that I can't seem to help; Difficulty in speaking for any length of time without pausing to think-- mostly because I lose my train of thought in the middle of a sentence or because I just plain started a sentence without even thinking about how it would end, and I can't seem to think fast enough to finish it without stopping mid-sentence-- Trouble in keeping focused on the person I'm talking to-- averting my eyes while I'm talking, often getting distracted by something while the other person is talking (be it something I see, hear, smell, feel, or just a stray thought)-- And just about always fidgeting with something or another while talking to someone, from shirt hem to my fingers to my hair to a loose couch thread. With those things going on, people often have assumed I'm not paying attention, or that I'm bored with them, or that I'm just being rude. And rightly so; if someone did those things while I was talking to them, I might think they were not wanting to talk to me or something.

ANYways, there are some points that even in public I have extreme trouble in dealing with (and sometimes cannot stop). But then, if you look at how I act around my family, I'm a completely different person. A completely different brand of weird, or, sometimes, completely normal. Or as normal as I can be. ;) Now, I know that people will naturally act in a different manner around their family and close friends, but sometimes, I wonder how much of the strangeness is pretended, perhaps first just to get attention, then as the person gets older and doesn't necessarily want more attention, keeps up being strange just to fit the personality their past strangeness has cloaked them with.

And then, there are people who are weird because they've decided it's more fun. Not because they necessarily are weird, or expected to be, but because they've made the decision that they want to be weird, and therefore act that way.

I believe I'm a mixture of these. Perhaps. I've been considering this idea for about a week, and still haven't gotten all my thoughts sorted on the matter. This is sort of an attempt to get them ironed out, I guess! But for the present, I believe a large part of it is that I've decided to be strange. I probably am naturally a bit eccentric and different, but why stop at a little? So long as you don't harm someone, of course.

Now, I'm curious to know how many people out there are like this. How many people there are who pretend to be weird, just because they've decided they want to. And also, why they've chosen to be that way.

I... Was going to post my reasons for choosing to be weird, but it ended up making this post way longer than I wanted it to be, so maybe I'll post them at another time.... if people would want to read such ramblyness... Or maybe I'll just keep the post to myself, hidden away somewhere far away.

Until next time!

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I have just about always considered myself, and been considered by other people, as being weird. However, today I was thinking (yes I know, dangerous pastime) and it hit me that there are many different kinds of weird.


Authors, like myself, are obviously considered weird for talking about their characters as if they were real. Because they *are* real. Ahem. We're known for talking to our characters, drinking high amounts of caffeine, staying up late into the night, wearing glasses, being messy (both in personal hygiene, and living quarters), isolating ourselves, smoking, sitting around in our pajamas all day, complaining about the dreaded "writers' block", owning cats, being depressed, emotional, and schizophrenic, staring absently into space, and doing strange things like blindfold one's self for hours or limp around on crutches to gain more experience. Of course, I don't smoke, though I do want a pipe simply for the sake of having one (J.R.R. Tolkien had a pipe!!!). I don't sit around my pajamas all day either, though I wouldn't mind that... These stereotypes in mind, it's no wonder we're considered weird! And just for the record, I both recorded these stereotypes from personal experience, and researched them on Google to see what other people thought of authors.

Now, recently I began attending swing dances. I'd taken dance lessons before, in Hip Hop, Drill, and Ballet, but attending the swing sessions ended up being something completely different. There were dancers, good dancers, in a large concentration. Dancers, I found, are a whole different set of strange. And it weirded me out at first.
It took me a while to figure out what exactly it was about them that seemed so weird, but at last I got it figured out. Dancers, are *extremely* expressive. And when I say "extremely", I mean it. Several of them also walked the line between friendly, and flirtatious, with everyone they danced with; which bewildered me all the more. Of course, to some people, the expressiveness a dancer displays might not be so strange, but to me... I found myself standing in a lesser populated corner, staring at the dancers and trying to figure out what it was that bemused me so much about them. What was wrong with them?
But there it was. Extreme expressiveness.

Authors, dancers... Next?

Musicians. I didn't know musicians were considered weird until recently. I would call myself a musician, as I've played the piano for about eleven years, sing, am learning the drums and ocarina, and have attempted violin and guitar. I've known people who are musicians, also. And, I've never seen how they could be classified as strange. However, they are considered so.
I know that drummers are considered not quite as bright as other instrumentalists. After playing the drum, I can see why; there is a certain... strange, light feeling one gets in their head after playing for half an hour, let alone an hour or two. Or maybe I'm alone in that.
That aside, I honestly don't know exactly what to say about this category. I only know that people have mentioned that musicians are weird. Someone enlighten me?

Cosmetologists are next. Why? Because my mom's one, so I've heard what the stereotype is. They're considered weird for: Partying a lot, having tattoos and piercings, and for doing crazy things to their hair. Just for the record, my mom is not considered a stereotypical cosmetologist.

Strange how, whatever you do in this world, you'll probably be considered weird in some way. Ah well, I'm content to be thought weird.

Well, those are the top groups on my mind at the moment. Post with your own thoughts on the matter?

Sunday, January 1, 2012


It's a whole new year! In case you hadn't noticed. Two thousand twelve... End of the world and all that. Exciting, no?

Well, here are some things that stand out to me about this year:

* I wrote three books-- "Fusion through the Flood", "Unmasked", and "Raven;Book2" -- Which comes to a total of 125,180 words written this year. I started another book ("Avesolitus") which ended up being put on hold, and then started yet another book, "Nightmare", which will hopefully be in the list of finished books for 2012!

* Began editing "Faerlocher" and "Unmasked".

* Successfully participated for the second time in 3-Day Novel, and the fourth time in NaNoWriMo.

* I came out in the top twenty, of eighty, in a writing contest.

*, a very useful tool for a writer.

* "Nighttime Novelist", a book about writing that I am oh so grateful I found.

* Borders went out of business. (-insert bitter tears of sorrow-)

* OYAN Summer Workshops, where I learned so, so, so, SO much, and got amazingly empowered to continue to sharpen my writings and use it to fight for what I believe in.

* I became a green belt in karate.

* Got my nose pierced.

* Re-got into touch with someone I hadn't talked with for years.

* Got a punk haircut, then decided I didn't like styling it all the time and got rid of it. Then chopped ALL my hair off, and had an emotional breakdown afterward.

* Became a "Certified" piano teacher

* Finished movements one and two of "Moonlight Sonata" on the piano, and got about three pages into the third movement. Three pages of seven.

* Learned more about and became better friends with several people.

* "Doctor Who" and "Firefly" entered my life, and made me very happy.

* Took HipHop dance for the first time, and very, very much enjoyed it. Really wish it hadn't been moved to a day I can't make. Also took up SWING DANCING. Which I absolutely love.

* Started singing in choir! Hurray for singing alto again.

And... That's all that I can think of. Perhaps I'll think of more by the end of the entry. Anyways, those stated, I put together a list of goals for this year also:

* Write four books.

* Finish editing/polishing "Unmasked" and "Faerlocher".

* Submit something for publishing.

* Attend the OYAN Summer Workshops again.

* Finish learning "Moonlight Sonata" on the piano.

* Become a better piano teacher, and get more students.

* Get my brown belt in karate, and start working toward my black.

* Become a better drummer.

* Read through "Daily Light", which was given to me by a friend.

Well, I think that about covers it. I may or may not add to this list, but there it stands for now.
I'm rather looking forward to the next year. I can't wait to start working to become a better writer, musician, martial artist, and person in general. Can't wait to see what this year holds!