How to deal with a crisis of faith

Just like you, I’ve had a crisis or two of faith. And I’m sure neither you or I is done with having these crises.

My first crisis was about Joseph Smith. My second was about revelation. My third was about the temple. My fourth was about non-prophet church leaders. My fifth was about Mormon culture and doctrine.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Jesse, those are pretty big-topic issues you dealt with.” If you aren’t, that’s what I would’ve thought if I had read that list. Or maybe you’re thinking, “Yep, been there,” or “Yep, I am there.”

I struggled, but I wanted to stay with my God. So how did I deal with those questions and confused thoughts? The answers are simple, but the execution of them isn’t so easy.

1. Read the scriptures every day

I recently listened to the talk, “No Greater Joy Than to Know That They Know,” by Elder K. Brett Nattress. He tells the story of how his mom would read the Book of Mormon to their family every morning. One day Elder Nattress told his mom he wasn’t even listening. And his mom responded.

“She said, ‘Son, I was at a meeting where President Marion G. Romney taught about the blessings of scripture reading. During this meeting, I received a promise that if I would read the Book of Mormon to my children every day, I would not lose them.’ She then looked me straight in the eyes and, with absolute determination, said, ‘And I will not lose you!'”

I like to think we can say the same thing for ourselves and God. Since my first crisis of faith, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve missed reading my scriptures. And I strongly believe reading the scriptures has kept me close to God.

So even though there are days where it’s just one verse, it’s still important to keep the habit so you don’t forget about your Padre Celestial.

2. Remember the testimonies you’ve recieved

The talk, “Lest Thou Forget,” by Elder Ronald A. Rasband talks about just this. That’s a shout-out because it inspired me to write this post.

Whenever I have been through a crisis of faith, I’ve thought back to the testimony I recieved from that first trial of faith. How many times have I wanted to throw in the towel and give up? I wouldn’t even know how to count. But how many times has my testimony (that God is real, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that Joseph Smith was called of God to restore the truth) gotten me through my crises? Thankfully, every time.

3. Remember these words: “If you are tempted to give up: Stay yet a little longer. There is room for you here.”

Those words come from Elder Dieter F Uchtdorf’s talk, “Come, Join With Us.”

I’ve been tempted to give up, but I know that persisting and “eduring to the end” is part of the dealio. We aren’t asked just to endure, but to joyously go forth because there’s a purpose for us here on earth. And part of that is getting through our crises of faith and coming out stronger as a result.

So in the words of Jeffrey R. Holland, “Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead … Trust God and believe in good things to come.”

I promise that good things come as you stick to your God and push through those crises of faith. It’s happened for me time and time again, and it can happen for you too.

The Key to Happiness is Within Your Reach

If you’ve asked me if I’m okay in the past two months, I’ve probably started crying or said, “I’m okay.” But a good number of you have gotten an emphatic, “I’m doing good!” and a smile. Apparently heartbreak makes you cry (okay, I already knew that, just not to this extent). But somehow, I also have this outpouring of happiness. How the heck does that happen?

One word: gratitude.

Yeah, it’s probably a cliché at this point that gratitude leads to happiness. But let me explain myself for those of you who are curious enough to keep reading.

 

Feeling #grateful for finding this wondrous meme that made me LOL.

No experience is wasted if you learn something from it

This mindset stems from the same idea I have about public humiliation. Whenever I trip on flat ground, I always look around and hope someone’s laughing. If I’m going to experience the pain of a stubbed toe, at least someone should get something from it. But really, we are here on this earth to learn—even from the sucky things. And when you learn something, you are going to feel so grateful for the growth you gain.

 

Feeling #grateful for all those appointments at the optometrist and waiting for my eyes to dilate so I could take this picture of myself being awkward that I then sent to people because I was bored and my vision was blurry.

Gratitude leads to happiness

When you’re sick and someone brings you food, don’t you feel grateful that you didn’t have to make that food on your own? And doesn’t that make you happy? I think gratitude translates in the same way when we’re going through tough times. When we’re stuck in traffic and someone lets us merge in front of them, aren’t we grateful? Doesn’t it make us a little happier that we might be able to get home a little sooner? Yeah, we have to look for gratitude, and it isn’t always easy to find something to be grateful for—but those things are there.

 

Feeling #grateful that Pace brought us chocolates after I’d been crying.

 

And now here are the things I’ve been grateful for this year (really just the past two months): God (He is good), supportive friends, listening ears (attached to people’s heads, of course), heartbreak (surprisingly), my crazy family, the temple (and the fact that I can go so often because I’m close to so many), necessary sugar consumption, revelation, the scriptures, flip-flops, music (new and old), art (like film and poetry), jokes and laughter (because laughter is the stuff of life), lipstick (for those days when I felt like a hideous monster), my dumb car that broke down twice already this year, psychology research (because self-help is the way to grow, man), the ability to change (because that’s probably the skill I’ll use the most in my life), time in all its forms and meanings, cool new experiences (surfing, swimming in tidal pools, sunburns, concerts, night skiing, future metal concert, future longboarding, future 5K for cancer, future Questival, future trip to Cali with the homies, future ghost town road trip, future interfaith conference, future caving, etc…..), finally being able to graduate from college, getting someone to believe I’ll be a good intern, the coolest job I’ve ever had, GROWTH, and so much more.

So while I’ve felt a constant sadness during the last two months, I have also felt so much happiness. And for that, I am grateful. And now I challenge you. Find those things to be grateful for, and see how it’ll change things.

 

Feeling #blessed for seeing this joyous sight of a matching couple that gives me hope in the future—not that I’ll be in a couple, but that some dude might want to match with me some day.

 

How to stay active in your faith 

We all have questions, and sometimes we want to leave the church. But here’s why you shouldn’t leave church attendance behind.

#1: It’s not about what people believe; it’s about God.

I’ve had a lot of issues with Mormon culture and people’s expectations. Even just recently, my sister told me that people perceive me as this perfect person, which I get annoyed by. And I have issues with people saying that I have to do things a certain way—when what they tell me isn’t doctrine. Rather, it’s based on personal opinion or something that someone said one time. But I don’t go to church for people; I go to church for God.

 

Here’s me at church with my amiga who’s always been going to church since forever. She’s solid. Also, We cute.

#2: It’s about serving, not being served.

I could go to church and say, “Well, no one talked to me today. Guess no one cares that I’m here.” Or, I could say, “Who can I serve?” I guess that hasn’t really been my experience, but it’s a thing I’ve heard over and over again. We go to church to serve others. That’s what we said we’d do when we got baptized: “To mourn with those that mourn; yea, give comfort to those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9). In my experience, I’m mostly like, “Why are people saying these things? Do I really need to be here if I can read the scriptures and the words of the prophets that I know are doctrinally correct?” And the answer is that I’m there to serve.

Here’s us looking cute for church.

#3: People (including you) are imperfect.

Brigham Young, for example, was a prophet of God who taught many truths. He also wasn’t a fan of African Americans, but that was the mortal SUPER imperfect part of him. That didn’t mean that the teachings of God weren’t true. It’s like Elder Uchtdorf’s talk: God works with what he’s got. And what he’s got is imperfection. And that includes my limited way of thinking that might make me get offended at church every once in a while.

Here’s my roomies looking cute for church and me looking less cute. Why do I also pose awkwardly?

#4 We need the sacrament and the other covenants.

In the church, we make covenants with God, not men. And the sacrament takes place during sacrament meeting, so if I want to keep up my relationship with God, I have to devote myself to him despite anything that I’m not a fan of. And the temple is the place where we make other covenants and promises with God, and we need those things.

And here’s the Provo Temple. The temple is a place we go to so we can commune with God. 

#5 You have a testimony in there somewhere.

I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to restore the church, imperfect as he was. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet called of God today to lead the church. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and within its words, you can find goodness for your life. I know that the temple is the place where we make covenants with God, not man. And my testimony, the testimony I’ve received over time, has kept me going strong through some of the hardest things that have happened to me.

And one more of us being cute and matchy for church.

So what I’m saying is don’t give up. Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t give up on God. Just keep going and keep trying. And remember what you know to be true.

How Metallica Changed My Mind

Today, I realized that metal music isn’t just noise. I know, I’m sorry to all the heavy metal lovers.

For Christmas, I bought some matching Metallica shirts for me and a Metallica fan (because that’s what you do when you like someone, right?). But to be honest, I hadn’t ever really listened to any of Metallica’s music. So I figured I should know what I was supporting, and I listened to the “Ride the Lightning” album. The first time was a little rough, and I stopped listening to it in the middle of the last song on the album (But it was the deluxe version, so I basically heard all the songs).

Here you’ll see the matching tees.

And then today, I decided to listen to it yet again—all eight songs. And I was surprised by what I heard. I heard awful singing and screaming, but I heard some really talented artists. Now, I don’t know any terminology for guitars, or bass, or drums, but I can hear talent when I listen.

I thought the nicest sounding song was “Fade to Black.” I just looked up the lyrics (because I really couldn’t understand them). It’s about death. So subject matter-wise, I wouldn’t say it was very relatable, but music-wise, it was really good. The guitar stuff sounded really nice (like around 2:40). But I guess this song isn’t super hardcore. But still. At 4:10 it kind of picks up.  I actually like pretty much all of them (but “The Call of Ktulu” is just okay for now). Oh, but I actually really like the sound of the song “Ride the Lightning.”

There’s Metallica in action. I only saw what they looked like today.

So, what? Now I can appreciate Metallica? This discovery reminded me of my experience with country music. I absolutely hate twang, but there’s some country I like. Rascal Flatts sings with SO much twang that I should probably loathe their music, but the main singer is actually a super talented vocalist. So even though there’s something I don’t like (like screamo), there’s something that musically, I can appreciate (the instrumental parts).

The main point I want to make is that change is possible. You may think you don’t like something the first time you try it, like The Labyrinth—but then David Bowie wearing glitter eyeshadow and saying things like, “Forget the baby,” really grows on you.

There he is in all his glory! Eyeshadow and those tight sexy pants (that’s how they were referred to at every one of my sleepover birthday parties).

Seattle Grunge: Comfort and Flair

This week I watched an interview with the former creative director of Elle magazine, Joe Zee. He mentioned each person’s “personal style,” which made me think again about what is considered “style.” And then it reminded me that I thought this chica was stylish even though she wasn’t wearing what typically catches my eye (bold colors and interesting shapes—a.k.a. Mindy Kaling’s wardrobe).

But she’s hardcore rocking the Seattle grunge, and she isn’t even from Seattle (but she did live there for a little bit and loved it). Plaid is the first sign of a possible Seattle-ite outfit. I clearly remember a guy from my Washington high school that wore a red plaid shirt almost every day. And the hot hippie guy (who wore cut-off skinny jeans and had tousled-maybe-washed hair) wore plaid on an extremely regular basis. So yeah, plaid is part of Seattle grunge fashion. Don’t believe me? Google it.

Lots of plaid going on with that Google search.

So this is obviously Seattle-ish. Because it’s a hat that says Seattle. And while I am not a fan of baseball caps, I’d say this chica is working it with this cap and some loose, messy braids. It has a little plaid look going on too that doesn’t clash with the plaid of her jacket because it’s so subtle. In fashion, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear patterns in different colors in one outfit, but how you pair them takes a little more work.

So, I’ve never actually seen boots like this on a regular basis in Washington, but they look waterproof, and that comes in handy in Seattle. Plus, they have a kind of woodsy vibe about them that says, “I live amongst the trees in a place like the Evergreen State.”

So the moral of the story is, wear a little grunge once in a while because not only is it comfy and laid-back, but you’ll look cool. And people will probably come up to you and ask to take your picture—like I did to this chica.

Dat Black In Da Heat Tho

I know what you’re thinking. What has possessed this chico to wear black in the summer? He’s just pulling an Amy Winehouse and going back to black. What’s classier than the color black? When you think of sophistication and taking on an attitude of “cool,” you think of people walking around New York City in black or poetry beatniks sitting in a coffee shop snapping their fingers. But when it’s the time for swimsuits and rompers, should people be sweating in the sun?

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People actually say that wearing darker colors in the sun will decrease your chances of a sun burn. According to skincancer.org, dark colored clothing has a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 50. For all you easy-burners out there, black will not only make you look “cool” this summer, it’ll keep you from having to lather yourself in aloe vera.

Anyone can put on a black shirt and a pair of black jeans and look sleek, but what gives a black outfit the “wow” factor? Other than a T-shirt with zippers, the answer is accessories. This chico believes that the more the accessories there are, the better. He’s not afraid to to put on a circle-brimmed hat and stand out in the crowd. He goes the extra mile and dresses up his hands with a gold ring with an onyx stone and wears a watch even though his iPhone can tell him the time.

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He’s adamant about the one accessory that everyone should own: a pair of glasses. When this chico spent two years in France, he saw people wear crazy ones with wires sticking out from the sides. Perhaps those were a bit too crazy for him, but he decided then that a pair of glasses are a must-have for anyone.

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Don’t be afraid to try something new: a pair of glasses, a shirt with zippers or a ring. This chico believes in wearing what you feel like wearing. Sometimes people say he looks preppy, but really he’s just wearing what he wants for that particular day.

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What is your style advice? “If you feel like you can’t pull something off or you’re not really sure if it’s your style or whatever, just go for it because chances are no one else is going to be wearing what you’re wearing and they’re going to be like ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool what you did’ and they’re like ‘that’s a dope outfit.’ The other one is don’t be afraid to wear all black—even in the summer when it’s 100 degrees because black is not just for the goths anymore. Black is just a really classy color.”

How To Make Friends (A.K.A. Don’t Bite People)

I love the peoples, and I really love my friends. But they weren’t always my friends. We had to become friends first. So if you were wondering how to make friends, I got’choo (Translation: I got you).

Yeah, my friends are hot. If you want to learn how to make hot friends, you'll have to come back for my next post.

Yeah, my friends are hot. If you want to learn how to make hot friends, you’ll have to come back for my next post.

First, I’ll start by explaining how to NOT make friends. THE rule: Biting is not an appropriate tactic to use when trying to make friends.

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Here’s a super flattering picture of me eating squid that was somehow solidified in some type of rock. It was in a museum. Should I be touching it?? There was no sign…

I was in a class that involved lots of human interaction, so I met quite a few people. For some reason I just wasn’t super social in this class (even though it was kind of forced upon us). I was just like that aloof girl who people may have thought was awkward. They never told me that, but it was probably true. Anyhow, one day I arrived at class and was making small chat with Henry (fake name, for reasons that will become very obvious in a second), when all of a sudden he grabbed my arm and bit me.

YES. He bit me. And I turned into a vampire. The end.

Well, I didn’t turn into a vampire, but on the inside I felt like Edward looked in the Twilight movie when Carlisle bit him. But I didn’t convulse outwardly. (See 0:25 to 0:37 for the visual, or don’t if you’re somewhat squeamish).

My germ-freak sensors went off hardcore though. I had stopped mid-sentence, and then I zombie-like, stood up expressionless with my arm still extended in front of me, hovering at a 90 degree angle, and started walking toward the bathroom.

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Here’s a picture of Copper, who I’ve know since he was a puppy. He doesn’t bite. Fun fact: he’s also my doppelgänger.

Behind me, Henry and some other guy in the class were laughing, but I was just too shocked to respond. I wonder if that’s how it feels to be bitten by a rabid dog . . .

I only turned around because I heard Henry shout, “Where ya goin’?”

“The bathroom. To wash my arm.” Apparently that was hilarious.

So yeah, that’s a really good tactic for making friends as every puppy knows. But really. It’s kind of cute when a puppy nips at your leg because they’re telling you they want to play. I’d stay away from this tactic if you’re human though.

HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS:

STEP 1: LEARN THEIR NAMES

It’s just a little thing, but it means a lot. Like that One Direction song “Little Things.” That lyric:
You’ve never loved your stomach or your thighs
The dimples in your back at the bottom of your spine
But I’ll love them endlessly

Those are the little things that I don’t want to hear anyone singing about. Thank you. But you should learn people’s names.

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This is my bootylicious sister Dannah. That’s right. I know her name. Going on 21 years of knowing her name. Oh yeah, but one time she bit me. Maybe biting can help you make friends…

STEP 2: TALK TO THEM

Well, I mean me and my friends hung out in silence in the front room the other day while Face-timing our friend who was also doing her own thing (watching Once Upon A Time). But relationships like that have to be built first. So talk to people. You might like it, and if you don’t….I’m sorry, I guess.

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We weren’t talking, and then I said, “Smile.” That was it. #friendshipgoals

STEP 3: INVITE THEM TO DO STUFF

If I’ve ever turned down an invitation to hang out, it’s not because I hate you, it’s because I hate the part of camping where you sleep on the ground and get bitten by bugs. It’s not you, it’s the parts about nature that I don’t like. We can still be friends because nature’s pretty.

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I know only that one guy looks like he’s having fun, but trust me, they were all having fun. And they all like me. Don’t question it.

STEP 4: ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT THEM

Okay, so you actually have to care about the people you want to be friends with. Or else. Or else they probably won’t end up being your friend. OR you’ll piss them off and they’ll start ignoring you because they realized you actually don’t care about them. Sorry, that got dark. But think about it, you like it when people care about you—so you gotta care about them too. *Kiss of care*

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Kind of kissy face. I realized I have no photos of my kissing people. Thank goodness.

Love Is The Stories That Will Be Told

“Once you get to know someone, you’ll love them.” That’s what my friend Sammi says, and she’s right.

Homophobia is a real thing, and it’s not okay. Last weekend, 49 people were killed in a gay bar in Orlando, Florida. And it was really upsetting. So I asked myself, what can I do to make a difference?

Last semester for a journalism research course I did, I interviewed 16 people about various topics related to the LGBT community. What really got to me was the stories of people who had experiences that I’d never had. It’s easy to categorize someone or assume that they are a certain way when we don’t know them, and we don’t know their stories. So I want to share the words of some LGBT individuals with you. Once you get to know them, you’ll love them.

IMG_2199  Laurie:

  • I teach at a community college. I always end up coming out to my classes because a boy committed suicide because his family didn’t accept him. It’s hard for me almost every time. I always fear that someone will judge me or dislike me. It brings up lots of fear of rejection.
  • I didn’t ever say anything or act on it [attraction to women] because it didn’t fit into the [context in which I was raised].
  • I wanted my mom to accept me and my other relatives.
  • When gay marriage was legalized nationally, it had a positive emotional effect on me. It gave me affirmation as a human being. We were so excited to be validated…You feel like you’re validated as a human.
  • I grew up feeling like the way I was wasn’t okay… I felt like I needed to hide. I lived pretending for so long.

IMG_2200  Cate:

  • [In reference to the legalization of gay marriage] It helped with partner benefits. 9/11, for instance, partners getting zero recognition for anything…Now, if I were to be sick, I’m confident they would consult with Laurie. In other states they wouldn’t have.
  • I just started an LGBT group…I work in a fairly open company. They’re still in the closet. But they do not want to come out publicly…We have to BCC them on emails…There’s still trauma about that.
  • We just wanted to make a point [referring to getting married in 2013], and we did. When it happened federally, I was surprised. I didn’t think that would ever happen in my lifetime…It was a lot of joy when it came.

IMG_2203  Caden:

  • I didn’t know anything about the LGBT community because I didn’t want to be connected to the stigma.
  • I felt like I owed it to people to dress femininely.
  • I separated myself on purpose because I didn’t want to be an outsider.

IMG_2206  Gina:

  • I think generally that when people talk about LGBTQ people in general their minds tend to go straight to sex, which is frustrating, obviously. I feel like it’s a form of objectification. I really think that if my attraction to women was just about sex, it wouldn’t be an issue in my life at all. I could happily marry a man if that were the case. I really feel that for me, and for most people, it’s really more about love. More about romantic love and the type of person you relate to in that way and form attachments to.

IMG_2204  Anthony:

  • [Referring to having to resign from his position in the navy in order to keep his credentials that he received from the first Gulf War) I was forced out because of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
  • When I was a kid, I was not out because it was such a hard environment—very homophobic. I couldn’t be out.
  • I had small periods of homelessness because I was underage, and it was hard to find a safe environment because I was gay.

FullSizeRender-3  Terry:

  • [Speaking of a therapy class in which one spouse had same-gender attraction] I saw many gays and lesbians there. They were so hurt and put themselves there in the name of religion…[In reference to the spouses feeling hurt] I wanted to say to them, “Just because your spouse has this same-sex tendency, it doesn’t mean their love for you is any less.”
  • Homosexual is not something that special. We come in different terms, but there are construction workers, bus drivers, the fashionista.
  • We ran into all these judges that were so supportive of it [legalization of gay marriage]. The justice came to our wedding last night. The justice was so nice. She wrote against gay marriage ten years ago. Then she got to know my husband, and she changed.
  • We are all the same. When we die we become bones. You cannot tell—white, black, gay, straight.

I hope that you’ve learned something, and you’ll reach out in love more often than not.

Here’s a video of those who were killed in the Orlando shooting. They are more important than the story of the shooter. Don’t let the shooter have the publicity that he wanted.

Movies That’ll Make You Feel Something If You Let Them

Caution: This is kind of serious. But I’m still going to talk like me, so you can keep reading.

I remember coming home from my mission. From Porto Alegre to Miami I cried straight for 6 out of the 8 hours. I was sad because I never learned to “love the mission,” even though I loved the people. I was sad because I couldn’t figure out to be happy, and the depression I had developed left me feeling hopeless.

And then I got home and my sister wanted to go to the movies with me. But nothing sounded appealing. The only one that sounded slightly stomach-able was “The Giver.”

That was the movie that they advertised as having Taylor Swift in it, but then she was only in one short segment of a scene and played like 10 notes on the piano and sang mediocrely. They were just trying to draw people in. It did okay (like they actually made money), but there didn’t seem to be a big hype over it, and it only got 6.5/10 star on IMDB. I doubt there will be a sequel—even though the movie ended with a cliffhanger.

But as I was watching it, I was loving it. I remember feeling so sad and seeing how Jonas (the main character, a 14-year-ish old boy) was starting to see the world in a different way. The movie started out in black-and-white, but Jonas saw colors every once in a while. As part of his “calling” as the “giver,” he saw things that other people didn’t. He lived in a world where people didn’t “feel” things, but he felt things. And it made me want to feel things. I left the theatre very thoughtful and desirous to take action. Ever since I saw that movie (which wasn’t necessarily good), I’ve been drawn to these movies that just make me feel something.

Here are the other ones that make me feel something (in the order of when I saw them):

  1. 500 Days of Summer

I first saw this movie when I was over at my friend’s apartment. I liked it because it was artistic and it didn’t end the way people would want it to. I liked it because Summer (who the movie revolves around) was not the girl that everyone wanted her to be. She wasn’t typical of a movie character. People like to watch movies because they feel like they can escape the real world and find some fantasy in a movie. But that fantasy isn’t to be found in 500 Days of Summer.

The other day my friend said that he thought Summer was crazy. His example was that she kisses Tom and then proceeds to tell him that she doesn’t want anything serious. To me, that just seems like people in real life. Aren’t real-life people complicated? Don’t real-life people just do things because they’re not really sure what they want? Aren’t real-life people just in it for the ride sometimes?

I liked this movie because it made me feel. It made me feel like the complication of real-life wasn’t being masked. And I liked it.

2. Ashby

I saw the trailer for this movie, and I fell in love with it. I don’t remember why. Partially, it was probably because it had Nat Wolff in it (and I was a die-hard “Naked Brothers Band” fan back in the day—I even had a locket of the Naked Brothers Band). But I don’t typically watch rated-R movies, so I didn’t rent it. Then, I found this site that is like Redbox, except that you can pay to rent a filtered version (and you choose what you filter). But they didn’t have “Ashby.” And then it came out on Netflix, so I looked up the reasons why it was rated-R. And I found this site. And I decided to watch it.

It’s the kind of movie that you feel like you should think is dumb, but then you just want to keep watching it. Nat Wolff’s character, Ed, is just so dumb, but you can’t help but love and relate to him. He’s just so dumb, but he’s also smart. Here’s my favorite interaction between him and Eloise (his love interest).

Ed: What’re you doing here? You just filming? You’re a groupie or something? (referring to her watching the football try-outs)

Eloise: As if I would let a football player touch my delicate flesh.

Ed: Then, what are ya’ doing?

Eloise: I’m uhh…studying their brains. After football hits, you know, how it jumbles up your brain? Pre-season, mid-season, post-season.

Ed: Why?

Eloise: I think it’s fascinating. Also, my dad’s a neurologist, and we actually have an MRI machine in our house.

Ed: That’s actually really cool.

Eloise: Thanks. Most people think it’s weird.

Ed: Most people are idiots.

It’s full of beautiful moments like that. And it’ll make you think about life and what your life is. If you can handle a couple F-bombs, I’d recommend it. If not, just watch the trailer and smile a little bit.

3. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

And then I just recently watched this movie. It had great cinematography, great humor, and great sadness. And I loved every minute of it. I loved it because I wanted to feel when it was over. It was perhaps just another story of a kid in high school who learns something in the end, but a great movie isn’t terrible because it follows the same basic plot line as every other movie ever. What made this one different was that it was artistic. If you were watching it with no distractions (which I was surprisingly–I didn’t even look at my phone), then you saw how the artistic director had the room painted yellow and the angle was off-puttingly angled from below, but not too below, but just the right amount of uncomfortable below. And that made the scene worth more. It made the words worth more. It made you feel something more.

What makes a movie great? It’s what it does for you. But it’s up to you to decide whether or not you’ll let it do to you what it was intended to do. I think all of these movies were meant to make people think. I think all of these movies were meant to make people feel. Sure, they each had something that was used to appeal in some other way, but in the end, they were all about what it means to be human–to have loose ends and to feel. And that’s why I loved them.

Try And Tell Me I’m Not Asian. And I’ll Prove You Wrong.

Have you ever been told you’re not Asian? Yeah me too. But I’m like half…so…I’m pretty sure that makes me Asian. You can’t deny that blood, yo.

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My friend used to tell me to smile. Then he’d say, “Now open your eyes.” Funny, funny. So funny. Honestly, I can’t tell if my eyes are open in this picture. I’m pretty sure they were open when I took this picture though. Because I could see my face when I was posing.

I’ve been wearing glasses since I took that eye test in elementary school and they told me my eyes were inferior to other people’s who had 20/20 in both eyes. I only have 20/20 in one of my eyes (my right one—if you really need to know). The other eye (the left one—for those of your who were confused about which one I was talking about) is complicated. Because genetics. But it’s cool because it’s working better now (40/20 with glasses, which means I can drive legally). So getting to the point…when I wear my glasses, people think I’m 100% white, or they think I’m hispanic (which is very flattering…Thank you, thank you. *Blows a kiss*).

So yeah, if you saw me walking down the street, you might have the nerve to say, “Dat girl isn’t Asian.” But I am, and I’ll prove it.

Proof #1: I eat weird things.

Yes, you can buy me the shirt that goes along with this video. I accept. Also, didn’t these foods look delicious? Yum. I grew up visiting 99 Ranch and eating foods that I thought were normal. It’s okay I’m Asian. Did you see the “century egg” in the video? It’s basically a black egg that’s really salty, and you eat it with rice. So delicious. I grew up calling it thousand-year egg (probably because it’s black and looks kind of gnarly). Here’s my advice for you: when it comes to strange Asian foods, just eat them. You’ll be happy afterwards.

One time I asked my mom, “What is Chinese culture?” After a second of thinking she said, “Food.” Here’s a video of my family eating food. Yes, I know. My 17-year-old skills with a camera would put any professional photographer/videographer to shame.

Also, here’s a picture of mah-jái. I just took. Yum. What is it you ask? I don’t know. It’s just tasty.

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Proof #2: Well, my birth mother is Chinese. Here we are about a year ago:

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So I grew up here in America because my mom’s been here since she was 21 (sometime around then), so I am very American. My mom’s a little American-ized herself. Once my mom, sister, and I were in the car and my mom says, “Yeah, I’m a tiger mom!” My sister retorted, “Mom, you’re white-washed.” She just likes America—but that doesn’t mean that she’s no longer Chinese. Or that she doesn’t ramble in Chinese to us without noticing it sometimes. Or that she doesn’t quote Buddha. Or that she doesn’t make delicious smelly fish so we can eat it with our rice.

Proof #3: When I read The Joy Luck Club, I realized that I was Chinese. 

When you live in America and you ask your mom what Chinese culture is (and her only response is “food”), you wonder what it is that makes you Chinese. When I was a senior in high school, I got to read the book The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. And I totally related to it. The story follows various mothers (from China) and their daughters (growing up in the United States). I remember that as I read it, I kept thinking, “I’m Chinese! I’m Chinese!”—as if I hadn’t known it before.

Here are the things I understood on a personal level:

  • I call people who aren’t even related to me “auntie” and “uncle”
  • I’ve watched my family members and “aunties” and “uncles” play mahjong for money
  • I was always told that each grain of rice that I left in my bowl would be a pockmark on the face of my future spouse
  • I grew up hearing stories about my grandmother being orphaned in WWII
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Here’s 11th-grade-me and my cute grandma with all of her cute layers.

While those are just little reasons, the stranger thing was that I felt what was happening in this book. It wasn’t just that I liked the characters, but I actually felt like I related in a way I hadn’t related to characters from other things I’d read. It was a strange experience to feel so connected to a book through a culture I thought was just all about food.

Other proof that I’m Chinese:

  • We had Chinese lucky cats in our home.
  • And we had a little zen sand and rock garden.
  • And my mom has an ancestral shrine in her home.
  • And my grandmother visits the Buddhist temple (and I’ve been with her).
  • And ping pong. Asians play at family gatherings. I’ve played.

So even though I don’t look super Chinese, and I don’t speak the language (except for one semester of Cantonese and the Mandarin I know from “Sagwa”—the kids TV show about a Chinese cat), I’m still Chinese. I remember the songs my mom used to sing me in Chinese before I went to bed. I remember peeing my pants in front of a bunch of Japanese tourists when we were taking a boat on the way to the boat restaurant in Hong Kong when I was small. I’m Chinese and American, and that’s all there is to it.