Thinking Generously: How One Mental Tweak Made Me Richer

One thing my husband Alex and I decided to do at the beginning of our marriage was to commit to being generous. As two newlywed college students, of course, this was a lofty goal. But we made the commitment to, at the very least, be a couple who tithed.

If you’ve never heard of tithing, it’s a practice in Christianity in which you set aside ten percent of your income to give away. Typically, this means giving to the church, although it can also mean just giving to someone in need. It’s a practice commanded by God to reinforce perspective about money: that it’s not the most important thing in life, that we are always fortunate enough to be generous to others, and that all our blessings—not just the financial ones—come from God and are important. Setting aside our money is a physical representation and reminder of these things.

Alex was especially excited for us to do this together, because he’s an incredibly generous person, and the chance to get in the habit of giving to others was a big life goal for him. While I wanted to be generous too, I wasn’t as enthused. I’m a worrier, a very practical person. I need to know how we’re going to accomplish what, and I have a hard time trusting that everything will turn out okay.

Our mission to give generously, even when it was hard for us, was a bumpy road at times, but thankfully we’ve been able to give the ten percent (and at times, even above) that was our goal. Even better, this mindset of being generous has bled into a few other areas of life, and I’ve learned several lessons from it:

Our culture operates on a scarcity mindset. This is the opposite of a generosity mindset. Scarcity says, “There’s not enough,” “We won’t be okay,” and “We have to gather and hoard so we have enough resources to spare.” This mindset operates well in the American Dream, which is all about upward mobility and increasing wealth. While those values aren’t necessarily bad goals, it’s interesting how our quest for abundance leads us to be obsessed with having enough, and how some of the most fortunate people in the world (us), end up so unsatisfied.

When you put on a mindset of generosity, you feel richer. Like I said, I’m a worrier. I tend to have that scarcity mindset, and I justify it by telling myself that I’m thinking wisely. But a generosity mindset offers true wisdom by putting things in perspective. Generosity says, “I don’t need to scrounge and hoard; we’re gonna be okay.” Generosity says, “I am truly blessed, and I have abundance—however small—to give to others.”

Scarcity and generosity aren’t just about money. This is truly important. When I started challenging myself to think generously, it bled into so many other things. I learned to think generously about my time: when someone asked me to take time to help them out with something, a generous mindset helped me feel more rich in time instead of fretting that I’d not have enough time to get other things done. A generosity mindset also helped me with forgiveness: it reminded me that there is so much grace and love to give, and I don’t have to be stingy with it. In my relationships, I don’t have to worry about keeping score, thinking, “well you did this, so I do that, and because I did that, you do this.” No, with a generosity mindset, I can be lavish in my relationships, and leave the emotional math at the door.

Thinking generously actually helped me be more disciplined. You’d think that being really generous would make for a less than happy bank account. But miraculously, that’s not the case. Thinking generously takes the desperation out of managing my resources; it shifts everything into perspective. I am free to make decisions based on the needs I have and the needs I want to help others with, instead of trying to scramble to prepare for a theoretical famine down the road.

It may sound like a lot of mind games, but getting in the mindset of abundance, rather than scarcity, truly makes me feel like I have more at my disposal. Because I feel richer (and not just in money), I feel satisfied, more taken care of, and more peaceful. When we realize that every blessing we have, whether it’s time, money, relationships, skills, etc., is a resource and a form of power, we can feel better equipped to use that power for good. We don’t have to feel like we’re at the mercy of these things; we can think generously, and give willingly and freely.

Soon we find that generosity never reduces what we have; it only multiplies it.

Masala Sauce: Anger, the Internet, and Indian Food

A few weeks ago I made Indian Masala sauce. It’s a tomato base with a blend of amazing spices: curry, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, red pepper. Butter and cream. It’s tomato-ey and spicy and cozy and creamy all at once. It’s called a simmer sauce, because you’re supposed to keep it on low heat for an hour or so, letting the flavors blend together.

The thing with tomato sauces, I’ve found, is that you can’t just let them have a pleasant, tiny-bubble simmer like you can with water or milk. The heat stays deep at the bottom, mingling with all the stuff you’ve put in the sauce, until suddenly, big bubbles reach the surface, pop pop, splattering red all over the stove. And on your clothes, if you’re unlucky (I am).

The masala sauce has become a metaphor for me, as most things in my life do. In this case, the masala sauce reminds me of myself, especially those feelings I tend to keep deep inside.

I don’t usually consider myself to be an angry person. I’m pretty even keel, keeping a straight face and feeling my emotions on the inside. This sounds pretty good, healthy even. But feeling all your feelings on the inside doesn’t mean they don’t exist; it just means other people can’t see them.

Take anger, for instance. I usually keep my anger close to the chest. It bubbles deep in the sea of my soul, making the waters bitter and murky, poisoning myself and the people closest to me. Now, I truly do mean well. I truly do love people. I truly am kind. I’m not one of those perennially angry people who get cut off in the grocery line and unleash a string of expletives. Out loud.

No, my anger is like the masala sauce. The blend of introversion and high sensitivity and empathy, my own personal curry, combine with the garlic of current events and the cinnamon of relationships, the nutmeg of tender memories, the red pepper of painful events. Butter of better judgement, cream of spiritual wisdom. And in the thick, murky tomato sauce of clouded perspective, all these things blend together. Add heat (the stress of really anything), and there’s my anger. It looks good and smells amazing on the outside, but if you get too close, it’ll sear and stain.

Last week I took an unplanned social media hiatus. It was only for a few days, and it wasn’t a straight fast, but it was a big reduction in how much social media I consume. While I didn’t experience a drastic change in my inner psyche, I did notice something: I wasn’t as perpetually, simmeringly angry.

I think we underestimate how much scrolling through the inner thoughts and opinions of friends and strangers can completely overwhelm us. If you’re like me, you have a wide variety of friends and people you follow, all from various social, religious, economic, and political backgrounds. My average day on Facebook is a mental Red Rover. As someone who has a lot of empathy, this is emotionally exhausting, and I want to scream, CAN ALL MY FRIENDS JUST GET ALONG? Social media often feels like one of those cartoon fights where everyone’s in a cloud of dust kicking and punching each other. It’s easy to feel like the real world is this way too, and then it’s easy to feel utterly, perpetually… angry.

So part of my fast was a simple act of removing myself from it all, to enjoy the feeling of thinking my own thoughts and making sense of my own experience, without the filter of others’ opinions. Even if your friends and followers aren’t actively attacking your viewpoints, it’s easy to feel that sense of judgement, that sense that you need to polish up your life and thoughts before presenting them. All this stress, real and perceived, mixes with our personal blend of anxieties and insecurities, with the pain of current events, the peppery taste of snark. And soon we’re all simmering, stewing vats of masala sauce, bubbling up at each other, searing and staining.

I’m still learning what to do about this. I think there’s a place for anger, if only as an indicator that something is going on under the surface that needs to be addressed. I think anger can be useful, but I also think that none of it are well equipped to handle it wisely. Anger attaches all our strong parts to our vulnerable ones, riddling otherwise righteous intent with selfishness. The pot boils over with so much stuff that we can’t distinguish the helpful from the unhelpful, the actions we must take from the actions that are reactive.

The only thing to do, I’ve found, is to turn off the heat. It’s only when the pot has cooled down that you can start to work with the sauce. That looks different for each of us, but I’d bet that for most of us it means stepping back and trying to relate to each other, and not merely attacking the issue at hand. It means challenging the way things are and asking how they got there in the first place. It means curiosity: why are we reacting this way? What do we all want? How can we really get to where we want to go?

For me, it’s important to remember that anger, whether it simmers (stays internal) or boils over (is externally expressed) is only useful if I do two things: think about it critically, and then once I’ve made sense of it, express it.

For someone who tends to fly off the proverbial handle, this means asking those deeper questions, and for someone like me, it means not stopping at those questions, but continuing on to share my feelings after those questions have been asked.

I wonder what would happen if we got more curious about our own thoughts and the thoughts of others. I wonder if it would look more like integration than division. Because the truth is this: no matter what your cooking methods are, all food has to cool down before it can be eaten. And eating—that act of communion and comfort and joy—is the whole point of food—ideas and emotions—in the first place.

I wonder what could happen if we learned to enjoy that meal together.

 

 

Rest in Solitude, Heal in Community

This summer has been a season of transition. Amidst moving, new living situations, new jobs, and new prospects for the future, I’ve found myself overwhelmed and suddenly unsure of everything. It’s interesting how when you’re in a life stage that has a deadline (i.e. school), you look forward to the time of endless possibilities, and then when the gate opens and you have the freedom to do anything, all those endless possibilities suddenly seem like too much.

I’ve noticed that I freeze up whenever I have too many choices. Just ask my husband how long it takes me to pick out cold medicine at Walmart. I’ll stand in the aisle, staring blankly at the shelves while my nose runs and my eyes water and I whine that my head and body and everything hurts. You know how they make fun of men for being bad at being sick? They never met me.

“Just get the DayQuil,” Alex says.

“But there might be another brand with more caplets in it for less money!” I cry. “I have to look at them all. Or I could get liquid medicine. But there are so many brands of that! Oh, I hate being sick! Oh, to be well again!” and I wring my hands.

Thirty minutes later, we walk out of there with a box of DayQuil.

(I’ve since learned that a store with less options, like Aldi, is a better bet for me.)

As with DayQuil, so with life. The choices and decisions pile up until I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what I want, and I don’t know what I even value.

My approach to overwhelmth is often to retreat, monklike, into my own space and where I feel comfortable and in control. Since I’ve started doing research on human behavior and psychology and have discovered the ins and outs of introversion, of which I am a subscriber, it’s become a little easier to excuse my monkish state and to be okay with excessive solitude. I’m recharging, I tell myself. I’m self-caring. I’m figuring things out in the quiet.

And many times, I am. I’m still a firm believer that we find rest in solitude. And that goes for all of us, not just those introvertedly-inclined. We all need a moment to be with ourselves, to tune into our inner minds and hearts. I discover a lot in prayer, in reading, in yoga, in writing. These are all things that pack the most punch when I do them alone.

But solitude is only one side of the equation. Self-care only goes so far, and self-care doesn’t always look like sitting alone on your bed with a candle (don’t do that; it’s a fire hazard). Human beings are made for community, too. We may find rest in solitude, but we find healing in community. It’s in community where I gain perspective, where I realize that the things which freak me out most in life are not things I carry alone.

In The Quotidian Mysteries, a collection of essays which is just an excellent book that everyone should read, writer and poet Kathleen Norris talks about how the everyday routines we take for granted serve to ground us in reality. And part of this is spending time with others:

[We] need the daily love of other people to reassure us that our lives have value.

In community I find solidarity, and I learn to pay attention to other people’s needs and fears too. In community I can be honest about my failings and find some catharsis. And often, community even connects me with people who have answers to the very questions that are overwhelming me, from the family friend who knows of a job I’d be good at, to the new friend who’s doing good things in my hometown, to the best friend who understands how I feel and prays for me.

Engaging with community can be as simple as putting aside my work to chat with my husband, taking a day trip with my family, or socializing after church. Or it can be as complicated and challenging as introducing myself to someone I haven’t met or going to an event I’m nervous about.

Solitude is only good when it doesn’t become loneliness. When I’m lonely, I forget who I truly am and I forget that my life has value. I need my friends, my family, my community, to connect me with the world again. And the beauty of it is that they need me too.

Giving love away doesn’t deplete or decrease; it only multiplies. And taking part in community only multiplies and strengthens the ties we have to each other and to our inner selves.

When I do that, the wall of overwhelming life doesn’t see so scary anymore.

From Numbness to Feeling: My Return to the Church

The room was filled with people. And the room was huge, so it was a lot of people. Hundreds of us were crammed in the black box room that had a stage and big screens in one corner. Lights in various colors flared. Upbeat music played. The crowd of people became a sea of heads and arms under the clouds of light and music.

It was my first time visiting this church. My best friend invited my husband and I along. He and I had been on an unfortunate streak of non-attendance, not because we didn’t think church was something we should do, and not because we had given up our faith or anything. The reason was simple: we hadn’t found a good church near school. The reason was also complicated: my heart was numb and suspicious.

Around the time Alex and I got married, the church I had grown up in for almost a decade turned its back on my family when we needed it most. This wasn’t the first time this had happened to us. Our exit from my childhood church was similar, though under different circumstances. This time, although I personally wasn’t involved in the details of this episode, I was still more affected than I initially thought. Months after the earthquake, the aftershocks hit me over and over again, when I least expected it.

The community of people I’d spent my teenage years with was now gone, and even worse, some of them were hostile. I was a new wife, and I craved some kind of support and advice, but the pool of people I felt I could trust was dry. The counsel I’d once relied on now seemed compromised with bitterness and hurt. I couldn’t even trust myself; everything I knew about my identity as a Christian was steeped in teachings that I now knew were false, in mindsets that were heretical, in motives that were misguided. For me, identity is so important, and I felt it swept away in a matter of months.

But I knew one thing: I could trust God. I just had to figure out who He really was. So in many ways, the first year of my marriage was like coming to God all over again. I couldn’t trust other people to guide me. I pretty much sat down with the Holy Spirit and said, “You’re gonna have to show me the right way to live. I don’t know a damn thing, and I don’t trust anyone to tell me the truth.”

I had always thought living a life pleasing to God was a clear-cut path: do these things, live this way, and you’re pleasing in the eyes of God. Little by little, He stripped away that comforting illusion. He gave me glimpses of the vast, terrifying freedom we have in Christ. My path became more rough-hewn, more wild, more like cutting out a path in the woods than following a well-worn road.

I learned not to be afraid of changing or evolving, of outgrowing who I used to be in favor of who God was making me now. My approach to my personhood and my marriage became different. And I clung to God because I really didn’t have the luxury of clinging to anyone else. I wasn’t just trying to find the way to Him; I was making my way with Him. It was a sucky time, yet it was when my faith truly became my own.

Except there was one catch: I couldn’t go to church. I did, physically, but my heart and mind felt like the skin had been ripped off. I was raw. Every time I went to church I was no more than a body in a room. I didn’t sing. I didn’t close my eyes to pray. I spent the sermon doodling in my journal. It’s not that I didn’t want to participate. I really did. I’d spend every church service on the verge of tears, because I wanted my heart to be there. I wanted to be invested. But it wasn’t. I didn’t trust any church not to make the same mistakes of the churches I had grown up with.

I realized this was a common mistake: to assume all churches are hypocritical because a handful are. I knew that there are no perfect churches; they’re made up of human beings, and human beings are stupid. That’s why we need God in the first place. But my brain knowing these things didn’t help the deep bruising in my soul. Our church had prided itself in being true, welcoming, and understanding, a place where the Spirit of God worked. A place that really had the answers. And it was all a sham, and now I couldn’t trust any church that claimed to be the same things.

For a time, I couldn’t go to church at all. It’s like when you have an injury. You know that in order to fully heal you have to eventually start exercising, which will be painful. You’ll have to start doing all the things you did before you got hurt, but with timid weakness. But before you do that, before you start to face the pain and build up strength, there’s a space of time where it’s okay not to expect anything of your injured body. It’s better, even, to rest and wait while the worst of the pain passes. For a season, that’s what I did with church.

And then my best friend invited me and Alex to the church she attended at school. It was one of those big, trendy churches you find in the suburbs of a city. And right away, I was suspicious. There were too many lights. There were two huge screens. They said things like “We’re a different kind of church” and the speaker that first week wore running clothes (it figured into his sermon, but still). The church had all the red flags on my list: it claimed I was welcome, it claimed it brought everything back to the basics of loving Jesus, it claimed it was “a church for people who’ve given up on church.”

Yeah, it was too perfect.

Also, there’s a weird stigma I noticed in myself and that I’ve since noticed in the church: to automatically discount bigger churches or megachurches. Perhaps this is only a phenomenon in small towns where there are small churches, but the prevailing attitude seems to be that if a church has more than a hundred people who regularly attend, its theology is automatically shot. As if Jesus didn’t speak to ten thousand people at a time, and as if Peter didn’t bring three thousand people to the Lord in one day. But I digress.

I was numb as ever, and I’d gotten to a place where I accepted the numbness. I couldn’t will it away; I couldn’t make myself feel comfortable or safe in a church. I could only accept where I was and hope that someday, maybe in ten years or so, I’d actually feel at home. In the meantime, I kept going to church, and I gave myself the space to dislike it if I wished.

It was a funny time, because while I felt deep spiritual growth in my person, none of it took place as a result of church. I can’t recall one message that spoke to me, or one time I felt church connecting with the things God was teaching me. When I went to church, it felt like looking at fish in an aquarium: I watched and admired (and was occasionally horrified), but I didn’t get in and swim.

This was painful, especially as someone who grew up learning that church attendance is essential for the Christian life. But it was important, because it taught me something: while church is truly vital for the Christian life, because without a body we do eventually die, God’s work is not dependent on other people. The Holy Spirit can change and transform when we are most raw, most isolated, most fearful. In fact, I would venture to say He does His best work in those times.

Little by little, month by month, I felt feeling return to the numbness. I remember being at church one Sunday morning, in that same storm of heads and arms and music and light, standing in my favorite spot between my husband and best friend, and singing to a worship song for the first time in months. I remember my voice cracking a little. I remember starting to cry.

And little by little, month by month, my guard went down. I began to trust this trendy suburban church, because I realized that the Spirit of God was at work there, and the word of God was held in the highest esteem, and that those are the only things we should ever worry about. Little by little, month by month, I began to feel belonging in church again.

There’s a lot of talk about the modern church. Many people are worried, because the church of the new millennium has an increased focus on accessibility and acceptance, simplicity and diversity. Many people see this as a departure from the true faith. But I no longer see it that way. To me, the modern church is a return to the roots of the faith. The church is starting to strip itself of its once-shiny trappings that made it more of an institution than a family. We are rediscovering the spirit of the law as we throw away its wretched letters one by one.

So when I hear some Christians lament about the new generation, my generation, and how we’re compromising the faith with our laziness and lack of piety, I have to disagree. Anyone who thinks the church is on the decline hasn’t been paying attention. I’m truly looking forward to where the church will be in thirty years, because the heart of modern Christianity is one of earnestness, of a deep desire to connect with God. And let us not forget that the faith needs very little upkeep to stay true, because Christianity isn’t dependent on us to keep it alive. Its life force, its soul, is in God, and he’s really good at sustaining truth. The Holy Spirit is alive and well.

Now when I go to church, I stand in the sea of heads and arms under clouds of light and music, and I remember that this is what heaven will be like. And unlike in the past, when I felt detached, set apart, observing, I now feel at home. I am part of the sea and part of the clouds, no longer raw, but strong.

And I feel sometimes, in those little scraps of moments, that heaven has come early.

In My Dreams

IMG_1711.JPG

I come from a family of dreamers. And no, that’s not a cute thing.

We’re literally dreamers. We have weird, psychologically deep, physically exhausting dreams.

My mom was the first one. She dreams in sagas. And they’re just true enough to be disturbing. When I was a teenager she dreamt someone had cut off one of our chickens’ heads and was running around the house with it in some pagan ritual dance. This was just around the time Grandpa had come over to butcher some roosters (a disturbing event in its own right) and so bloody, still-moving chickens were on all our minds. Add that to the Biblical idea that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood” and Mom was concerned. I was concerned. I’m sure her dream had some kind of sequel, because all her dreams do, but I don’t want to know what it was.

And then there’s my husband. My dear husband, who fights wars and monsters and once jumped out the window in his sleep. At least once a week I’ll greet him with a “good morning! Wanna know what you said to me in your sleep last night?” I used to worry he’d think I was an enemy and try to lop me off, but he recognizes me in his sleep. So while he’s screaming and cursing and thrashing and waving through the air trying to fight attackers, he’s doing it to protect me. And I think that’s sweet.

I have recurring dreams. They play like video games, in which I know what will happen because it did last time, and it’s just a matter of being prepared this time. Then the volcano erupts or the demon attacks before its supposed to, and I grow irate. “You weren’t supposed to do that for another five minutes!”

One recurring theme in my dreams is choosing between two people I love. For years now I’ve regularly dreamed that I have to choose between Alex and another suitor. And all throughout the dream I’m conflicted: they’re both so endearing. I made a commitment to Alex, yeah, but this other guy is so dreamy (pun) and so nice and has many of the qualities Alex has too. Then I wake up and realize: BOTH THE MEN WERE ALEX.

This week I had the same dream, but about someone else. I dreamt that I had to pick between my best friend and a new friend, and it was a rush against the clock because I knew if I didn’t choose which friend to keep, my best friend would choose, and I just knew she wouldn’t choose me. I’d be friendless. It was the silly, childish thing where you can only have one friend, and it was reject or be rejected. Then I woke up and realized: BOTH THE CHICKS WERE MY BEST FRIEND.

This interesting variation on the love triangle dream set me thinking. (I’m becoming my own dream psychiatrist.) In both the love triangle and the friend triangle I’m afraid. I’m trying to hedge my bets, trying to make sure I won’t be stuck with someone who won’t love me forever. I’ve felt this very same thing in real life, in both making friends and getting married. Putting people in your life and committing to them is a terrifying gamble. There are so many sides to a person, so many sides to yourself, and some days they’re more happy with you than others, and vice versa. And there is nothing keeping anyone in your life but sheer will. Nothing keeping anyone in your life but sheer love. I can’t think about it too often. It’s terrifying.

But apparently my brain thinks about it even when I don’t. It dreams about it. It stresses me out for hours a night, until I wake up and realize there never had to be a choice in the first place. Both the men were Alex and both the friends were my best friend. On both bad days and good days, it’s still the same Alex, and on bad days and good days, it’s still the same friend. And the choice is not which side of the person to love, but to love all sides equally. Just as I want to be loved for the many sides of myself.

I got Alex some dream dictionaries, mostly for laughs. “Now we can figure your brain out,” I told him. But since he hasn’t jumped out of any windows recently, perhaps he doesn’t need the books. Perhaps I should start reading them for myself.

 

Our Coming Adventures

Over a month ago I shared that we were making tentative plans for some big adventures. Well, we’ve decided to take the leap and spend most of the summer in a new place:

DSC_0041

img_7953

1-DSC_0994

1-DSC_1001
(photos all by me :) )

We’ll be visiting the great state of Arizona for 2-3 months! We plan to stay with Alex’s grandparents near Phoenix, helping them out and getting to know them better. Alex and I have been to Arizona several times together and separately, and it’s one of our favorite states. Alex wants to move there. I’m a little more skeptical.

It was a little scary to decide to run off West when we still have a house and jobs here in PA. I like structure and I was rather set on our plan to stay near school over the summer. But this was an opportunity that shot up suddenly, and we’ve noticed that when this happens it’s usually something we need to take advantage of. We won’t have very many years of utter flexibility, so we decided to enjoy where the wind takes us while we’re still light enough to be swept along.

It will be a busy summer. We have three weddings to attend in three different states, none of which are Arizona. We’ll get to see a lot of new airports. But we’re looking forward to going on those adventures together, to discovering new people and places and learning more about ourselves in the process. We are fully confident that God is leading us in a new and exciting direction, and that we can trust in His provision as we do something slightly crazy.

And anyway, it’s the closest Alex will let me get to being a gypsy.

 

The Book I Want to Write

Suddenly, there are people everywhere and I’m wrapped in a towel, sitting on a bench while Laura sobs next to me. I vaguely remember calling the police. Or maybe I called Theo – I don’t remember. I feel like I’ve just come out of surgery and the last hour of my life is lost. 

Theo’s there, sitting with us and talking to the police so we don’t have to. Officers lift the bodies from the pool, and I know for sure it’s them. Mom and Dad. Laura sobs harder.

But it’s so surreal that I feel it must be an elaborate prank. Less than an hour ago our parents were, to our knowledge, asleep in their room with the door shut, safe and sound. And it feels so logical that they should still be there, I’m tempted to leave this suddenly bustling back yard to go check on them upstairs, to make sure they’re still dreaming peacefully. 

But of course, they’re not in bed. They’re in body bags now, going to sleep at the morgue.

At least I know they’re dreaming peacefully.

Hey all! I hope your week is going well. This last week of August (!) is bustling by beautifully, with sunny blue skies and balmy cool breezes.

I’ve been mostly failing at the 20 Minute Writing Challenge, but that’s okay. I got several days of really good writing in, and for that I’m thankful. I just have to take it day by day and page by page. The challenge has allowed me to develop ideas for a book I’ve been cooking up for a long time now, and I’ve been able to more deeply thatch together the plot.

There are many elements to the story I want to tell, many layers. The topmost layer is a mystery story, about two people who mysteriously die. The next layer is a small-town story, about how their deaths effect the tiny community in which they lived. The deepest layer is a family story, about their two daughters who have to come to terms with what has happened, to deal with the community, and to solve the mystery.

That’s the story in a nutshell. As a native of a small town, I’ve studied that little microcosm of society and I find it fascinating. I think so often in literature and entertainment we get a sugarcoated and/or romanticized version of small town life. It’s fun, but the deeper story of these communities is missing. Small towns are hopeless and charming and frustrating and wonderful all at the same time. I want to show that in a way that’s new and entertaining and somber.

So, that’s what I’ve been working on. What do you think? I’m still musing and marinating, and I probably will be for a while. I’m writing the story patch by patch and eventually, it will be chronologically readable :). Stay tuned.