Vote 4 Christian…

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Dear Christian,

I don’t think we are acquainted, but I snapped a picture of your campaign poster while I was roaming the halls of your high school this past weekend. The poster itself arrested my attention for obvious reasons. It is the equivalent of a slobbery dog wagging its tail so hard it might break.

The typography and alignment beg some improvement, and about that hierarchy? The human eye is quite lazy and needs to be told what is important in media. Otherwise it will dart around and make up its own decisions about the essential message. Your poster’s message aims to be simple, but the accents and embellishments around “Vote” and “4″ lead the reader to think that you are concerned he/she might forget to cast a vote FOR someone. Or just go to school and amble about the halls and admire clumsily designed posters and not vote at all. Eeps.

Isn’t “Christian” the most memorable part about your message? The parting gift, the coaster atop where they’ll set their ice-cold drinks and remember the time they voted for Christian? Evidently not because the secondary clause of your message leaves us all with a lot to ponder. Your victory hinges on my vote, Christian, and your loss does, as well.

Except it doesn’t. Because–and I know this may be flirting dangerously close with the pedantic, Christian, but whether or not people vote for you has very little to do with your eventual win or loss. People will vote for you all day long. Vote approval as you strut by with new shoes, vote no as you attempt to take a seat at their lunch table. They will vote you into their online friend circle and just as quickly vote you off the island of people they tell the real stuff to, the stuff that will never show up in a filtered photo with the caption #blessed that you upvote or choose not to like.

I’ve been voted up the flag pole and voted down at half-mast plenty in my career. My job is evaluated twice annually by student voters. I feel as though I am campaigning for student council 9 months out of the year. I realized how unhealthy that was so I decided not to run for student council anymore, Christian. I decided to walk with assurance of the calling on my life; I decided to do life for a Godience of one. I have a purpose and it’s not all that jazzy, but it doesn’t rely on anyone’s vote to ensure I am winning or losing. It just requires that I try really hard to walk within that calling, caring a bit more about what Heaven thinks of me than anyone else.

I like to think that your poster might still come in handy, though. If you’re called to fulfill that office, Christian, which I expect that you are, maybe change the final clause to say, “or You’ll Lose.”

Yours in support,
Kendra

The Notebook (aka Facebook was my idea)

I am so smitten with a boy named Myles with soft blue eyes in the eighth grade that my hor-motional body may burst. There is no Facebook profile to stalk in 1993, so I begin what I believe is the first Facebook wall in analog, a page of an erstwhile Social Studies notebook that I devote entirely to writing thoughts and feelings about Myles. Things I observe after he gets a haircut, witticisms he utters during a pop quiz in language arts. The page looks like the diary of a crazy woman, every thought punctuated with hearts and swirls. It is my private graffiti and I write on this page at least once a day. The release feels good. Even as I am scrawling all over the page, though, I am aware that this paper is a complete liability to myself.

Image from page 53 of "Everyday manners for American boys and girls" (1922)

On a family vacation, I am suddenly conscious that I am sitting in the middle seat of our mini-van and my younger sister Taryn is in the far back seat where my notebook is. Just before I turn around, I feel the knowledge tightening in my chest that there is nothing else on earth that Taryn could be reading right at this moment than my Ode to Myles.

My instincts do not disappoint me.

My face, hot, my eyes cast down as I grab the notebook from her.

I leave Taryn to digest this collateral damage she has just read.

(Un)happy Gilmore #allthefeels

I wish I were a normal who could finish reading young adult novels without having to drop out of life for a couple of days, wandering around with a head of cloudy thoughts, wringing my hands about why I couldn’t have dated an Augustus Waters in high school (and don’t even think I would have wished away the terminal cancer, because tragically romantic). If only I could  finish watching Gilmore Girls without throwing myself across the bed in anguish, trying to reorchestrate history, reversing the poor, selfish decisions made by Logan and Rory (if only they had *my* brand of hindsight!),  holding their temperaments to the light of Myers-Briggs, shaking a rueful fist at the late season decisions of the writers. HOW COULD YOU THROW THAT ALL AWAY!?! (p.s. Rory, think of the guacamole!)

rory logan

I wish I were not so invested, so easily yoked to storylines that capture head and heart and take us on that rocky ride for which we are passengers with a ticket to exit at any time, but rarely do we choose to get off. The soap opera ride always empties us out in a place where we can’t find our luggage, don’t know how to make it to connecting transportation, and are late for our next appointment. But occasionally, we encounter a story that rings so true to life that we are different because of the journey. There was some nuance in the narration or dialogue that made us feel understood and not so alone. Something there sounded familiar, and our soul followed the rhythm as if by heart.

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I’ve been tagged recently in some form of meme asking me about the top 10 books that changed my life. I find this list a difficult task, because I realize there is a difference between my favorite books and books that changed me: the latter being works that anatomically rearranged me so that I could no longer see the world the same, or my place in it.

Here is my list of Books that Changed Me, without qualification:
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1. The Return of the Prodigal Son (Nouwen)
2. Blubber (Blume)
3. Crooked River Burning (Winegardner)
4. Prep (Sittenfeld)
5. Surviving in an Angry World (Stanley)
6. Making Toast (Rosenblatt)
7. Mountains Beyond Mountains (Kidder)
8. Detroit (Leduff)
9. Desire of Ages (White)
10. A Life’s Work (Cusk)

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