Skeletons in My Closet

I am currently enrolled in a positive living class. It’s basically a class about how to be positive in a negative world. So far it has been quite enlightening, especially for this cynical, pessimistic blogger.

Each week in this class, we focus on a different quality that will enable us to see ourselves and the world around us in a more positive light. This week we are focusing on character strengths. For our assignment, we are supposed to pick one of our top five character strengths (which were determined by one of those annoying online surveys where you decide if different statements describe you a lot, a medium amount, or not at all) and focus on that strength for a week in an effort to improve it. The “character strength” I chose was authenticity.

To be completely honest, I was a bit surprised to find that authenticity was one of my strengths. I have been told that I am a very “real” person, but what does that even mean? Isn’t everybody a real person? Or are some of you people out there a figment of my imagination??!

I guess, in all reality, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

I try to be real, but the truth is that the person people see is not quite the person I actually am. I hide behind a facade of boredom and apathy toward life, but in reality I am quite strange and quirky, and I actually care a lot about people if they give me the chance to do so. BUT I have been hurt enough that I feel the need to hide a lot of my personality. It’s kind of sad, but for now, that is the way things are.

There is also that irrational but all-too-convincing fear that, if people actually got to know me, they wouldn’t be able to look past the skeletons in my closet–you know, flaws, shortcomings, past mistakes… the whole kit and/or caboodle! So yes, I hide.

Mayhaps it would be best for me to keep everything inside for now and just pull a Liz Lemon, allowing my inner demons to come pouring out of me while facing imminent death.

Or… maybe I should just start being more “real” now.

In my efforts to be more authentic, I might not be able to break down 10+ years of defenses I have built around myself, but I can take small steps to uncover those aspects of my life that I have kept hidden for so long. Therefore, I have decided to make a list of some confessions and post them here for the general public to see. In doing so, I hope to authenticate myself even just a little bit.

This, my friend, is a list of my deepest, darkest secrets.

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Sorry, I’m really nervous. But I have to get these things off my chest. Oh, forget it. Here we go.

I watched a whole season of Desperate Housewives on Netflix!!!!

I once went to a Twilight midnight showing. It was disturbing.

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I think clothes are the worst! If it were my choice I would never wear them!!!!!!

I’ve seen the Katy Perry documentary! Twice!!!!

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I have over 45 Nelly Furtado songs on my iTunes!!!!

I have a man crush on Brandon Flowers, lead singer of the Killers!!!!!

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A beer commercial once made me cry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I used to write Harry Potter fan fiction!!!!

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In middle school I wrote a song about having a crush on Elizabeth Smart!!!!!

I listened to the new Miley Cyrus CD and didn’t completely hate it!!!!!

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OK, so those weren’t really my deepest, darkest secrets. Did you really expect them to be? Do you honestly think I’m going to reveal all my secrets through a blog post? That would be a bit too much.

It would probably be better if I just took small steps in order to be more “real.” The real me isn’t as strong or positive as I have made myself out to be in this blog. I have weaknesses. Sometimes I have days where I feel downright hopeless. I even have a bit of an…edgy side. Of course, that last part shouldn’t come as a surprise. Everybody has a dark side, as Kelly Clarkson once sang.

So I want this blog to be less fake and more… me. No more disgustingly cheesy posts about the more serious sides of life. Those posts served a purpose during a difficult time, but I feel much stronger now and more confident about who I really am! The real me is sarcastic, cynical, and yes, even a little imperfect.

You might have even noticed that I made a slight change to the title of my blog… again. No longer is it called Musings of a Silent Guy. I don’t want to restrict myself to being silent all the time. What if one day I wake up and decide to be the life of the party? Granted, I hate large crowds of people with a fiery intensity hotter than a thousand blazing suns, so the likelihood of me becoming the life of the party is slim to none, but that’s for me to decide!!!! Instead, it’s going to be called Musings of a Sarcastic Guy. I’d rather be known as sarcastic than silent.

So here’s to the start of a more honest, authentic blog: a glimpse into the real me. That means opinions both popular and unpopular. And if I ever talk about a serious issue, you’d better believe that blog’s going to be chalk-full of sarcasm. Because I’m a sarcastic guy. Deal with it.

And if this works out well, maybe I can even start being more authentic in person, rather than just through the internet. But this will do for now.

Watch out, world. The craziness inside is about to be unleashed!!!! You have been warned.

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Europe–Chapter 3: A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

OK, maybe only the best of times.

For this chapter of my Europe-themed blog posts, I will be focusing on the two most famous cities that I visited during my trip: London and Paris. Mostly London, because I spent three weeks in London and just two days in Paris.

I considered writing multiple blog posts about London and a completely separate post about Paris, but with school starting and whatnot I realized that, if I were to keep blogging at that rate, I would still be blogging about Europe in February of 2017! I cannot allow myself to dwell so much in the past, and if I think too much about my study abroad, I fear I will fall to the ground and start twitching out of utter despair because of how much I miss it. Or maybe I’m just being a tad bit over-dramatic. As I tend to be.

So here goes. I will avoid focusing so much on the sights that I saw while in London and Paris. Instead I will focus on what made my trip to those cities unique. In doing so I hope to emphasize the fact that everyone can have a truly unique and wonderful experience while traveling. No two experiences are the same!

So here are some of my favorite memories from London and Paris:

4th of July, London Style

We brought in the wonderful all-American holiday in a bit of a non-traditional way. Even though we ended up traveling to London on the 4th of July (kind of ironic, if you think about it), we still managed to find time to gather as a group and celebrate being American. A-MUR-ica! We played games, ate marshmallows and hot dogs, and just enjoyed each other’s company. And though I got along quite well with the others before getting to London, I feel that it was in London that close friendships began to form between me and my fellow study abroad students. I remember after the 4th of July party, sitting outside of the apartment complex like unto a HOOLIGAN and talking to some of my new friends until the late hours of the night! It was one of many late-night conversations.

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The London Temple

We had the opportunity one day to visit the London Temple. It was nice going into the temple and also exploring the temple grounds. We got some nice pictures that showed off just how attractive we all are!

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Platform 9 and 3/4

A trip to London would of course not be complete without a journey to Platform 9 and 3/4! I went with three other people in my group, and since there were four of us we each got to represent a different Hogwarts house! The decision was unanimous for me to represent Slytherin, since apparently I’m the most evil one in the group… even though I have told everyone on many occasions that I am not as evil as I make myself out to be! Though I have to admit, this picture of me looking suspicious as my green scarf billows in the wind–well, let’s just say, it’s a good representation of my personality. Maybe I really am evil. Oh well!

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The Old Hide-and-Scare Tactic

One night some of us decided to do a ghost tour of London. For obvious reasons, many of us were put slightly on edge after hearing about the different supernatural phenomena that supposedly take place around London, including the statue in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral that, as legend tells it, dismounts its plinth every August 1st at midnight, runs around in a circle, and then resumes its position as a statue. Creepy! As we were heading back to the tube station that night, two of the girls in my group were lagging behind a bit, so the other three of us decided that it would be funny if we hid from the rest of our party so we could scare them. We found the perfect hiding spot that allowed us to remain in hiding while we could still see the two girls coming. As they walked by, the three of us yelled and ran out from our hiding spots. The two girls screamed bloody murder, and I’m pretty sure they each almost had a heart attack. Not surprisingly, they did not speak to us for the rest of the night as an effort to punish us.

Sunset in Hyde Park

At a loss for what to do one evening, Jacob (the only other boy in the group) and I decided to take an impromptu trip to Hyde Park. While we were there, we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, a sunset that rivaled even the desert sunsets of Arizona and the tropical sunsets of the Philippines. As a sucker for nice sunsets, I was pleasantly surprised.

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The London Night Tour

Three of my classmates and I took a tour of London by night on a double-decker tour bus. We basically saw all the same things we had seen by daylight, but it was a different experience seeing everything at night. Though it was difficult getting pictures as we sped through the streets of London, I managed to get this rare shot of the London Eye and Big Ben in the same line of vision.

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The London Theatre

While in London I had the opportunity to see not one, not two, but three musicals: The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Once. We also got to see a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.

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The Eiffel Tower

One weekend some of us took a side-trip to Paris. It was a scandal-and-a-half because I was the only boy there! Without a doubt, my favorite part of the trip was going to the Eiffel Tower. We not only climbed the steps of the Eiffel Tower but also took the time to watch the Tower light up at night. Nothing can really describe the surreal feeling that overcame me as I took a picture of the Eiffel Tower’s shadow while standing in the tower itself. And while we sat at a nearby fountain and watched the Tower light up, we experienced a few unexpected slips and splashes as we navigated the slippery grounds and tried avoiding the jets of water that burst out at random intervals.

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Chill-axing by the Louvre

I cannot forget, however, the time we took earlier in the day to rest just outside the Louvre. We found some lounge chairs by a fountain (there seems to be a certain fountain theme in association with Paris, doesn’t there?) and relaxed for a little bit before carrying on with our day. To describe my Paris trip as hectic would be quite an understatement, so it was nice to take some time to rest.

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Inside Notre Dame

There were two main landmarks that I wanted to see while in Paris: the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. I saw about 763 cathedrals, minsters, etc. while I was in Europe, but the Notre Dame Cathedral was probably my favorite of all–if not partially because it was the most famous one I saw! And I was glad to not see any hunchbacks or gypsies while I was there. No offense to all my readers who are hunchbacks or gypsies, I’m just not a fan of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Sorry.

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Exploring the Streets of London

During my last Saturday in London, I found myself alone as half of my group had gone to Stratford (I didn’t go because I was weary of both traveling and spending money), others wanted to go shopping (which is basically my version of hell, so no thanks), and the rest were going to spend some time packing (I repeat: my version of hell, no thanks). So I took some time to explore the streets of London on my own. I started by taking the Underground to Elephant & Castle, just to see what I could find in such a strangely named place. I was slightly disappointed that I found neither elephants nor castles, but the day was not a waste: I ended up wandering until I got to the Thames, then I saw a number of interesting characters and sights on the South Bank. I saw graffiti art that inspired me to action as well as a man dressed as a cat–basically, things you don’t see every day! It ended up being one of my favorite days in London because I got a deeper look into just how much character the city has.  It was at this time that I realized how much I had grown to love London and how at-home I felt there.

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An (Almost) All-Nighter in London

As our time in London came to an end, we all experienced mixed feelings. Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I for one was excited to be visiting new places (mainly Scotland) but also sad to be leaving London, which had really become like home for me. So we decided to make the most of our last night in London by enjoying each other’s presence. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s only going to get cheesier, so you might as well get used to it. We gathered in one of the girls’ flats and undoubtedly pigged out on food (probably chocolate, as was tradition) before playing a game of truth or dare, which actually just turned out to be a game of truth: basically, it was an excuse to get to know each other on a deeper level than we already had. We then each took turns saying what we liked about everyone else in the group. By the time we were done with these heartfelt shenanigans, it was somewhere around two in the morning, so Jacob and I went back to our flat. This would have probably been an ideal time to sleep, but instead Jacob and I spent almost three more hours talking. By the time we finally called it a night, it was almost 5:00 A.M. And we had to wake up early to catch a train to York. Needless to say, we were exhausted over the next few days. But it was worth it!

Europe–Chapter 2: A Whale of a Time

Today I will be writing about Wales, the second leg of my unforgettable six-week adventure in Europe.

We left Dublin early in the morning in order to catch the ferry that would take us to Wales. I mentioned to one of the girls in my group that at some point I would have to get on top of the ferry in order to take some pictures of Wales. She gave me a confused look and asked, “Do you honestly think we’re going to see whales?!” I explained to her that I was referring to the place, not the sea animal. Eventually, after becoming better friends with her, I made fun of her endlessly for the misunderstanding. But it was an honest mistake. English can be quite confusing!

I must admit that I wasn’t all that excited to see whales… I mean Wales. Don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t like I was dreading it or anything. But I had never heard much of anything about Wales, so I wasn’t expecting much from it.

Little did I know that Wales would end up being one of my favorite locations of the trip! It may have lacked the grandeur of London or the majestic views of Scotland, but the simple beauty of Wales was something that, in my opinion, could not be matched by any of the other places we visited.

In fact, Wales turned out to be quite the pleasant surprise! Here are just some of the “surprises” that turned Wales into an unexpected gem:

The longest place-name in the world: Llanfair­pwllgwyn­gyllgo­gerychwyrn­drobwll­llanty­silio­gogogoch

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My favorite castle: Conwy Castle

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Llandudno: The seaside town with the awesome views… a place where everyone was so delightfully friendly… and the location of my future home!

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The evil Alice statue that would forever distort my vision of Alice in Wonderland.

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Snowdonia!

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Tintern Abbey

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St. Fagans: the traditional Welsh village.

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23 Goals While I’m 23

I’m happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time.  It’s miserable and magical…

Those are the feelings that, according to Taylor Swift, come with “feeling 22.”

And I must say, I’d have to agree.  That is exactly how 22 felt.

But as of today, I am done feeling 22.

So what does that mean?  Well… nothing, really.  Honestly, how different can 23 be from 22?  On the other hand, a new year marks new beginnings, and since I “forgot” to make new year’s resolutions at the start of 2013, I thought I’d take this opportunity to come up with 23 goals I have while I’m 23.

23

  1. Tell people what I want, and do what I can to get it!  I’m tired of being that passive guy who never lets his opinion be heard because he doesn’t want to step on anyone’s toes.  Over the years I have had a difficult time getting people to read my mind, so it’s about time I’m more forthright with people in expressing my opinions.  If I don’t like the way you’re treating me, then I’m going to tell you.  This may cause some people to be offended, but as a wise man once said: “Are you offended?  I don’t care.”  I’m not going to let people walk all over me anymore.  And that brings me to my second goal.
  2.  Be more direct.  I tend to beat around the bush like no other when I’m trying to express something that might qualify as being even slightly uncomfortable.  But there was one glorious night a couple of years ago when I was able to be direct and to-the-point, and it was awesome.  I would like to be able to do that all the time from now on.images
  3. Enjoy my alone time.  This year, I want to reacquaint with an old friend.  He’s someone I’ve known my whole life, and when he’s at his best, he’s pretty cool.  His name?  Matthew Gilliland.  When I was little, I loved to be alone.  I could entertain myself for hours and hours using just my imagination.  In recent years, however, I have found it more difficult to get along with myself.  But since nobody likes you when you’re 23, I need to learn to like myself better in preparation for turning 24, when people will start liking me again.  (I’m aware that this last paragraph must sound really depressing, but it’s all in good fun, I promise.)
  4. Keep up with my blog more.  I have already kind of started this one.  I think I must have already written more blogs in the first two months of this year than I did all last year combined.  And if I had planned things a little bit better, this could have easily been my 23rd post, which would have brought things together quite nicely.  Anyway, I hope to continue my consistent blogging as the year continues, especially considering major upcoming events like my Europe study abroad and my wedding.  OK, I’m not really planning on getting married.  I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
  5.  Catch up with old friends.  I want to be better at keeping in contact with my friends, especially my friends from home as well as those from my mission… even if it is just through Facebook.  
  6. Go to Europe.  Even if something freaky happens and I end up not continuing with the study abroad program, I am determined to go to Europe this year!  Even if it means losing a ton of money, which makes me anxious just thinking about it.
  7. Simpsons_couch-1-Spend quality time with my family.  Ugh, I wish there was a less cheesy way to say that.  Cue the Full House music, please.  I’m in somewhat of a difficult position to do this right now, seeing as I’m living in Utah and my whole family is currently in Arizona, but I will definitely go back as much as circumstances allow… even if that’s just a couple weeks in the summer and then the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays.  I see my family as one of my most reliable support groups, and I will do anything to maintain that… even if we are actually not so much like the Tanners from Full House but more like the Simpsons: violent and dysfunctional.
  8. Give myself to the Lord.  This is kind of broad, but honestly this is as specific as I feel I can get at the moment.  I have tried most of my life to just do things my own way, but after almost 23 years of doing it, I must say that I understand what Taylor Swift means when she says “This is exhausting.”  It’s time to quit trying to drive myself down the highway of life and let Jesus take the wheel!
  9. Keep my Taylor Swift blog references to a minimum.  As of this post, I have decided that I have quoted/mentioned Taylor Swift far too often in my blog.  It has to stop.  I think I need serious help… an intervention, maybe.
  10. Serve the crap out of everyone.  Not literally, of course… that would be awkward and gross.  But all stupid jokes aside, I really do want to serve more.  Maybe then I can stop focusing so much on my own problems.
  11. Exercise… all year this time.  It seems like I’m always good at exercising during the summertime.  But then the winter comes along and my exercising comes to an end.  But since I will be living much closer to my school’s free gym next year, maybe I can actually motivate myself to exercise during all four seasons while I’m 23.
  12. Write in my journal at least once a week.  Whether my future kids like it or not, they will be able to read a detailed account of what their dad was like at the age of 23.
  13. Use my disappointments to my advantage.  I will not let myself be affected by the disappointments in life.  Instead, I will turn those disappointments into opportunities.  For example, in the not-too-unlikely scenario that I get a C in one of my classes this semester, I will celebrate my first-ever C by having a C-party.  Included will be C-shaped cake and foods that start with a C (chicken, carrots).  And then I will hang a banner that reads: “C’s get degrees!”  Actually, that sounds like too much effort… effort that would probably be better used trying to make sure I don’t get a C in that class.  But you get the idea.
  14. 100_5710Work, work, work.  No two-month breaks from work this year.  If I want to survive the financial toll this study abroad trip is going to take on me, I need to work as much as I can (and maybe even take a second job).  Also I need to do an internship or two before I graduate if I want to impress prospective future employers.  If I were to adopt a motto for this year, it would be this: work hard and play hard.
  15. Make a bucket list.  This may sound morbid, but for a while I’ve been wanting to make a list of things to do before I die.  After all, I’m not getting any younger!  Literally… I actually just recently aged a whole year.
  16. Maintain/improve my Tagalog.  Once upon a time, I lived in the Philippines and spoke Tagalog every day.  Now that I live in America, I rarely speak Tagalog more than once a week.  I am finding that my Tagalog skills are suffering as a result.  So I am going to do everything I can do to use my beloved second language, including speaking, writing, and praying in Tagalog.  I also want to finish reading my Tagalog Book of Mormon.    Ayaw kong makalimutan kasi ang aking pangalawang linguwahe.
  17. Go on another camping trip.  My twelve-year-old self would have literally thrown up at such a suggestion, but I actually like camping now as long as it doesn’t last for more than a night or two.  And as long as it’s nice outside.IMG_0261
  18. Quit hiding my true self from others.  I once had a companion point out that I was “good at hiding.”  He was not talking about physically hiding, and I think anyone who has played hide and seek with me could attest to that.  What he meant is that I put up a front so convincing that it is difficult for other people to see the real me.  Well, I’m tired of doing that.  I need to start being who I am and not caring how other people react.   If other people don’t like it, they can leave me alone.   I’m done hiding.  After all, I’m getting a bit too old to play hide and seek.  Actually, if I’m being honest with myself, I’d kill for a game of hide and seek right now…
  19. Get back into photography.  As I touched on briefly in my last post, I finally have a camera again, which gives me the perfect chance to take some legit pictures… especially when I go to Europe!
  20. Go on a road trip with friends.  I fully expect to go on at least one road trip with my family this year because we have already planned one (we’re going to Disneyland!!!  No, seriously.)  But there is just something about taking road trips with friends.  So I feel like I need to go on at least one this year.  Even if it means that one of those friends will inevitably end up married in the near future.  Confused?  Stay tuned for my not-too-distant-future post about how everyone around me tends to get married.
  21. Stress management.  I want to be more optimistic this year.  I want to allow just a small part of the day to let myself be stressed, then spend the rest of my time thinking positive thoughts.  I want to not worry so much and allow myself to be happy.  It won’t be easy, but since I would like to actually live another 23 years, I think it will be worth it to better handle the everyday stresses of life.
  22. Make mistakes.  This should be easy!  So maybe I should say that I want to become more comfortable making mistakes.  After all, it is trohugh our mstiakes taht we lraen, rghit?
  23. Move on.  Last but not least, it is the simplest goal to say and yet the hardest to do.  I feel like I’m still hung up a lot on the past, but I will work this year to move past all that.

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And that’s it.  I’m glad I did this, even if it is ridiculously long.  I feel really hopeful about my 23rd year now.  This is going to be the year of Matthew!

The Stages of Friendship

Friendship.  It is something that we all have (hopefully) experienced.  Some people have a large group of friends, others have just a close friend or two.  What makes us connect with some people and not so much with others?

In the past, I felt like I would all of a sudden have friends without even realizing it.  What I mean is that I would look around at my friends and realize that I had no idea how I had even become friends with them.  It made it difficult when I had to go to college and make new friends, because I could not for the life of me remember what I had done in the past to make friends.

In more recent years, I have been more aware of how friendships form. It’s probably different for most people, but for people like me, there are definitely some interesting steps that I take when forming new friendships.  I have come to know them as “the stages of friendship.”

AgonyApathy5Stage 1–The Apathy Stage

To be honest, when  I first meet people, I’m kind of apathetic toward them.  I neither like nor hate them… they’re just kind of there.  That probably sounds kind of heartless, and it probably is, but I think there’s always a part of me that is “cautious” about making new friends.  It’s a scary thought for me, putting trust in other people.  There’s probably some psychological reasoning behind that, but this isn’t a therapy session… it’s a blog post.

Stage 2–The Realization Stage

Then it gets to the point that I realize I’m friends with someone.  This often takes longer for me than it does for the other person.  Often people will mention something that hints that they’re close to me, and I’ll think something along the lines of, “Wait, we’re friends?”  I guess you can say I’m a bit slow on the uptake.

Stage 3–The New Friendship Phase

This is by far my favorite stage!  When I first start being friends with someone, I’m not so aware of that person’s flaws or annoying habits.  To put it simply, it’s almost like friends are perfect at this stage.  I want to hang out with them as much as possible, and there hasn’t been enough time for any contention to rise.

Stage 4–The Furniture Stagefurniture

The name of this stage might be confusing, so let me explain.  At this point, the new friendship phase has worn off.  It becomes easy to take friends for granted at this point because I’m so used to having them around.  They therefore become like “furniture,” just additional features to the house that is my life.  I might or might notice them when they’re in the room.

Stage 5–The Rough Patch Stage

This stage is pretty much the worst.  Like an old muffin or a TV show that has gone on too long, friendships often go stale.  Something happens that makes me exercise my patience in order to keep the friendship alive.  It might be something as simple as just drifting apart or something as complicated as a several-month-long misunderstanding.  Whatever it is, it causes somewhat of a rough patch that could potentially end up tearing the friendship apart.  But if I get through this stage where it feels like I want to die, then eventually I get to another, much better stage, which is…

Stage 6–The Life-Long Friendship Guarantee Stage

Let’s be honest.  If I am willing to put enough energy into a friendship to push through a rough patch, then it is likely I will stick with that friendship forever.  I find that, after a rough patch, most of my friendships end up being ten times better than they were before the rough patch began.  I feel somehow much closer to the friend after the conflict has subsided.  It’s like we have gone into a war together (often a war with each other) and have come out of the war, not completely unscathed but still very much alive (and definitely much stronger than before).  Thus any friend in this stage secures a position as a lifetime friend, no matter what happens.  In many cases, a friend will become an honorary family member at this stage.

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So there you have it.  Those are the stages of friendship–according to me.  I’m fully aware that I might be alone in this (which is why I refrained from using phrases like “when you first make a friend” when writing about each stage, even though I really wanted to), but hopefully I’m not completely alone.

Friendships are a tricky thing.  Oftentimes it is not easy to maintain friendships over a long period of time.  The same thing goes for relationships with family members.  It can be frustrating at times, especially for people who value their personal relationships above almost anything else.  But the most important relationships are ones worth fighting for, as much as it makes me want to vomit just writing that…

My Fictional Alter-Egos

Fiction is a wonderful thing.  Whether it be in the form of a book, movie, or TV show, fiction has the ability to take us to places and situations we could never experience in reality.

Yet there is something to be said about relating to a story.  I personally am a sucker for any sort of fiction that I can relate to my own life.  For example, even though there were times when I hated school with a fiery passion (mostly in middle school), I always like TV episodes where the characters were at school, because I could relate to it.  Perhaps that’s why I love watching Boy Meets World so much whenever I’m living at home.

Call me vain if you must, but if I can’t relate to fiction, I eventually lose interest.  I can maybe enjoy it for a little while, but it will not have the same lasting impact for me as other more relatable fiction.  24, for example, is a show I really got into in the past; however, since I have not recently faked my own death or saved my daughter from a rogue cougar, I cannot really relate to that show on a long-term basis.  No offense, Kiefer Sutherland.  (Please don’t kill me.)

The point is that when I find fiction that makes it easy to relate to the characters and their experiences, it’s almost like I’ve made new friends in those characters… which is a depressing glimpse into how few real-life friends I have, but I digress.

If I’m being honest, the characters with whom I relate the most are those in half-hour sitcoms.  And every once in a while, I find myself relating to a character so much that one of two things happen:

  1. I genuinely see myself in that character, or
  2. I’m filled with admiration and wish that I could see myself in that character.

And now, after what has possibly been the longest introduction ever written… like, ever

… I will get to the main point of this post.  Below I will list some fictional characters, exclusively from half-hour TV sitcoms, who I have deemed to be my “fictional alter-egos.”  Some of them might be wishful thinking, but I think I’ve done pretty well in picking characters who I feel genuinely embody one or more of my main characteristics.

Chandler Bing–Friends

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This one is a no-brainer for me.  Sarcasm?  Check.  Fear of commitment?  Check.  Seemingly eternal bachelor status?  Double check.  Luckily, Chandler eventually left bachelorhood and found himself a wife.  I can only hope that someday soon I’ll find my own Monica… though hopefully she won’t be as neurotic and controlling.

Ben Wyatt–Parks and Recreation

CIN8aHmm, let’s just quickly break down the qualities that Ben and I share:

  • He is extremely awkward in certain social situations.  Sound familiar?  Don’t answer that.
  • Again, there’s the sarcasm.  Lots of people are sarcastic, but only Ben’s constant sarcasm can come close to matching mine.
  • His nerdy obsession led to him writing a Star Trek fan-fiction.  My nerdy obsession led me to write a Harry Potter fan-fiction (or seven).  This was back in high school, but the nerd wounds still sting.
  • There’s a scene in one episode where Leslie touches his shoulder from behind, and he jumps so much that he hits his head against the wall.  Anyone who has caught me off-guard will know that I have similar reactions when people even lay a finger on me unexpectedly.

Jim Halpert–The Office

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I’m almost afraid to include a character who is so universally loved, but I can genuinely relate to him.  It’s hard to say how because I haven’t watched the show for so long, but if I remember correctly, he is the token nice guy with a knack for jokes, often at the expense of others.  I love telling jokes at the expense of others!  Nothing brings me greater joy.  Plus he has priceless facial expressions… just like me!  Actually, I wouldn’t know that, since I never see my own facial expressions, but the way I imagine them is hilarious.  But I, like Jim, would be upset if any of my jokes went too far and actually offended another person.

George Michael–Arrested Development2x02_The_One_Where_They_Build_a_House_(017)

As much as I’d hate to admit it, yes… I see myself in George Michael.  A lot.  And more people have compared me to him (or even Michael Cera in general) than to any of the above characters.  He’s extremely awkward but good-natured, much like yours truly.  And though I have never been in love with a cousin, I can’t help but relate to George in many other ways, especially in the scene where he watches his father’s company gets robbed and barely reacts to it.  My lack of emotions and slow response time would probably cause me to react the same way in such a situation.

So there you have it.  Those are just some of my fictional alter-egos.  There are many more, I’m sure–not only from TV shows, but movies and books as well.  What fictional characters do you relate to?

 

12 Things I Liked About 2012

Well, we made it.  2013–the year that was supposedly never supposed to happen. The new year is always a good time for reflection, a time to think about everything that happened the previous year.

new year 2012I remember hearing everything about how the world was supposed to end in 2012.  When I heard these rumors, I thought to myself, “You know what?  Since everyone is predicting an apocalypse this year, I bet 2012 is going to be the best year ever.”

Now, to say that 2012 was the best year ever would be stretching it more than just a little.  There have been so many years in the history of time that it is impossible to pinpoint which year was the best ever (though 1990 would be a good contender, as that was the year I was born).

Plus the fact is that some seriously bad stuff went down during the year of 2012.  More than one shooting made national news, the economy continued to struggle, and Ke$ha released another album.  But despite all that misery and heartache, I still enjoyed 2012… not quite as much as 2008, but definitely more than 2011.

Here are 12 things that I loved about 2012:

  1. Music got good again–Despite my harsh and slightly hurtful quip on Ke$ha’s new album, there was a lot about 2012’s music that I actually liked.  In past years, it seemed like the same generic garbage was filling the airwaves, but in 2012 some more unique tunes were given a chance to shine.  From Imagine Dragons’ It’s Time to Train’s 50 Ways to Say Goodbye (both of which just played on my Pandora, which is part of the reason they get the honor of being mentioned in this post), there truly were some classics this year.  Also, let’s not forget to mention that two of my favorite artists released inspiring and uplifting albums, one of those being The Killers’ Battle Born, which has gotten me through many a difficult time this past year. 
  2. My first concerts–Speaking of good music, it wouldn’t be an ode to 2012 if I didn’t mention the two concerts I went to this year.  I have mentioned both concerts in previous posts… first, the Fun. concert in Boston, which was my first ever concert.  Then there was The Killers concert toward the end of the year.  Both were amazing and helped me gain a new appreciation for music.
  3. Legit movies–I’ll admit it, I’m pretty picky when it comes to movies.  I have a pretty short attention span, so it’s pretty rare for me to find a movie that I’d be willing to watch more than once.  However, this year provided a fair few movies that I wouldn’t mind adding to my collection… The Hunger GamesThe Avengers, and more recently, Les Miserables.  In fact, as of Christmas 2012 I am the proud owner of the former two movies, and the only reason I don’t own the latter is because that would be impossible without some serious bootlegging.
  4. A regained faith in TV–I must admit, I kind of thought that the world had seen the end of good television a few years ago.  In fact, I had pretty much given up on watching TV altogether.  But thanks to an unexpected twist at my job and some helpful references from family members, I was given the opportunity to discover new TV shows that helped me realize that, if nothing else, TV has gotten considerably funnier over the years.  Some of my favorite shows nowadays are Community, 30 Rock, and Happy Endings.  Granted, none of these shows actually started in 2012, but 2012 is definitely when I started watching them.
  5. Traveling adventures–I may not have gone halfway across the world this year, but that didn’t keep me from going to new and exciting places.  This year  I added Boston, Connecticut, the Bahamas, and even New Mexico to my list of places I have been.  I also returned to old favorites like New York and Florida.
  6. Overcoming obstacles–Trials and hardships are never fun, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of overcoming a particularly difficult obstacle in life.  This year provided me with a number of unexpected twists and turns, but with some divine intervention, I was able to navigate myself through the highway stretch of 2012.
  7. An increased appreciation for loved ones–Warning:  Things are about to get all cheesy and Full House up in here.   As much as I hate to do this, I must say that  I gained a much greater appreciation for my family and friends over the course of this year.  I guess I just realized how important they are to me.  I learned to open up to people and in so doing was able to strengthen old friendships and forge new ones.  Where would we be in life without those people who help us along the way?600230_10151525702729409_921984123_n
  8. Seeing God’s hand in my life–We all have different beliefs, and I definitely respect that.  But for me there is no doubting that God has played an integral role in my life.  2012 provided me the opportunity to witness firsthand God’s hand in my life.  He guided me to where I needed to be, presented me with challenges to help make me a better person, and provided the tools I needed to overcome said trials.  I noticed this so much during the year 2012 (especially the latter half) that I honestly couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by it sometimes.
  9. New years resolutions realized–This was one year where I actually successfully kept my new years resolutions… to an extent.  Granted, I did not really start them until the end of the year, but I say it’s better late than never.
  10. Fake apocalypses–How cool is it that we can say we survived December 21st, 2012–the day that the world was supposed to end?  What was more, the weather here in Arizona was actually really nice that day.  Who knew the end of the world would be so peaceful?  Fake apocalypses are the best.
  11. Spring semester–For the first time, I experienced a spring semester up in Utah, where I go to school.  This meant that I was enrolled in classes from April to June, after the regular winter semester was over.  Despite the fact that I worked full-time and had classes on top of that, I still managed to have a good time… no, a great time.  The weather was nice, the social scene was fun, and I paid less for rent even though I got my own room.  This is seriously making me consider doing another spring semester this year…
  12. It’s over.  Now it’s nothing but a memory.  As much as I loved 2012, it had to come to an end.  It has been an incredible journey, but I’m ready for whatever 2013 brings!