What a Difference a Decade Makes

I would like to take a few minutes today to talk about the differences a decade can make. As I’ve explained in previous posts, this week has been our church’s camp, known as Singing School to those in the know, OR the Alva School of Music to those being technical. My last foray into the week long experience was approximately 8 years ago (or more) and being back in with the kids really brought this idea into focus for me. Though I know that I was at least at another year or two of S.S., the last year I really remember is 2004…so let’s take a look at what life was like ten years ago.

2004 brought us Mean Girls, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Dodgeball, White Chicks, and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Popular music included such unforgettable hits as The Ying Yang Twins “Salt Shaker”, Britney Spears’ “Toxic”, “Redneck Woman” by Gretchen Wilson, “1985” from Bowling for Soup, and the incredibly heartwrenching “Whiskey Lullaby” as sung by Alison Kraus and Brad Paisley.

Perhaps most importantly, books that were published in the year 2004 include Cloud Atlas by David Mitchel, Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, and Greg Behrendt’s He’s Just Not That Into You.

For me 2004 would bring about an ill-fated marriage, multiple poems that are, hopefully, hidden away so well that no one will ever find them, a horrid car accident in which both arms are fractured, and a not one story that was finished (not even a short one!)

Now come back with me to 2014 and see how much time has changed things. I have three published novels, a blog, a published book of short stories, a daughter (no man though), and the same old adoration of chips and salsa. Books published so far this year include Cassandra Clare’s City of Heavenly Fire, Jenny Han’s TO All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Rick Riordan’s The Blood of Olympus, and my own Short Story Sundays by Elizabeth S. Tyree. Current popular television shows include NCIS, The Big Bang Theory, numerous talent competitions, Once Upon a Time, and Marvel’s Agents of Shield. Movies hitting theatres are Divergent, Maleficent, X-Men Days of Future Past, and The Lego Movie.

Popular new music releases include David Guetta, Eminem and Rhianna (again?), Lil Boosie (why??), and something new by Blondie (I tend to listen to Pandora stations…often classic rock, or symphonic rock. Not many new radio hits there.

Obviously, things change. We went from fantasy movies like Harry Potter to Maleficent (Which I haven’t seen yet but honestly am looking forward to) and from Redneck Woman to Lil Boosie (again…WHY???). And there are so many other things that are changing almost constantly, fashion fluctuations, popular stores/brands, and political aspirations all change minute by minute — And I just watched a boy that I have known for most of his life spend his last singing school with us…and met his little brother’s new girlfriend (introduced to me as “she’s the head cheerleader”)

What are your big changes? Is there anything that happened over the past decade that has you thrown for a loop now? I know there were a few of those for me!

I would love to hear your take on this (poorly explained and written) topic!

Too School for Cool

so true.  I always get the weirdest looks from people when I am super enthusiastic about things.  And I'm like, what? You mean you never met someone who loved being alive?  You mean YOU don't love being alive?  Dude, that sucks I'm sorry.

When I tell people what I do I usually get one of two reactions:

  1. “You’re an author??” look of mingled concern, incredulity, and very slight admiration. “No wonder you live with your parents at the age of almost 30 and are still single. Wow. Cool. Good for you following your dream!”
  2. “You’re an author??” gleam of narcissistic hope lights behind eyes. “sweet! I always wanted to write but work/school/family/friends/etc. got in the way. I have tons of short stories/half-finished novels/poems at home just waiting for me to find the time. Would you like to read some??”

Somewhere between ½ and ¾ of the time both reactions happen in the same person within seconds of each other. Most of those people are not ones that would ever illicit the idea that they enjoy writing. In fact, some of them are individuals that I didn’t know could write more than their name and the title of their favorite store. However, the truth is that no matter how ‘un-writerly’ someone seems to us, everyone has a story. The difference is, I display mine and revel in the telling of it.

When you add to that my education degree, upcoming first full year of teaching, and various other interests (movies, books, music, playing music, games, etc.), you get the formula for a lot of name calling in the fashion of ‘nerd’, ‘geek’, or ‘dork’. Even my vague sense of fashion has been described as ‘nerdy bohemian teacher type’ (which is better than the weird geek bohemian hippie goth that I got called a few years ago…not even sure how that happened!).

You see, we all get told from an early age that brains and quirk are important, more important that our looks even. But then we learn better. By the time children reach elementary school, most of them will be able to tell you which kid is ‘weird,’ ‘nerdy,’ or ‘athletic,’ and the weird and nerdy ones aren’t on the cool list. It isn’t ‘cool’ to love reading and science and math. It isn’t ‘awesome’ to enjoy school…unless you have a class that encourages integration and fun, hands on learning, but even then the chess nerds are going to be picked on.

So how, in the middle of this mess, did being a nerd suddenly become cool?? The answer is incredibly simple…we grew up. So now kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s are the adults and the weird kid with the Ninja Turtles back pack, the Care Bears lunch box, and the Hobbit weighing down her 3rd grade homework is a teacher, and a writer, and an encourager of crazy nerdism.

The best part is that being a nerd is all inclusive. We accept anyone, anyway they come. All you have to do is get excited about something. Be passionate about what you love and do what you’re passionate about. Cosplay, science, drawing comic books, marching band, movie marathons…do it all! And when someone calls you a nerd, thank them. Leave them wondering what’s so awesome in your life because you know what, it is much cooler to live a life you love than to live a life that other people deem ‘popular’ or ‘cool’ just because they don’t understand. Most superheroes…NERDS! Real-life actors, actresses, millionaires, teachers, and business people? They’re nerdy too! Even a lot of the pro athletes are NERDS! So come on! BE A NERD! It’s the cool thing to do 😉

If you don’t believe me, go watch this video of Wil Wheaton explaining why it is awesome to be a nerd.


May the force be with you as you live long and prosper while avoiding muggles and orcs during your journey to Mordor with the one ring that will unlock the Mortal Instruments and bring back the Doctor for Sherlock. 😉








Sleepover Zoo: A Review

This week I actually have a book review for Book Review Tuesday! I was given this book in exchange for an honest review and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Without further ado, here is:

Sleepover Zoo

By: Brenda Kearns

Publication Date: April 1, 2013


Written primarily with upper elementary students in mind, this children’s book follows Antonina Maria (Toni) as she tries to adjust to a new school. The story centers on a few days in her life as the ‘popular’ girl in the sixth grade, Leona, pressures the ‘weird’ new girl, Toni, to have a sleepover.

That would be fine, except Toni’s home is a little…different than normal homes. Her family works with birds and her basement is a testament to that fact, shelves lined with cages and sick or injured birds rehabilitating in them don’t make for a normal home. When a prissy, never dirty, girl who isn’t allowed pets comes into their home a great dane, a koi aquarium, a small kitten, and a Macaw who drinks coffee make for a sleepover she’ll never forget.

Throughout this book the reader learns right along with the characters. Toni’s brother, Bruno, and best friend, Meghan, help her as they learn about friendship, family, and being proud of who you are. Along with those important life lessons, Brenda Kearns also sprinkles in some interesting facts about the different animals who live with Toni and Bruno.

This book is the type that would be good for classrooms from younger ages, like Mother’s Second Grade ‘TweetHearts’ (yes I’m serious, she did name her class that…) all the way through even the Eighth grade for students who don’t generally enjoy reading, for whatever reason. The simple and easy flow of the book leads readers along while feeding them information that helps them identify with characters and learn as they go. Sleepover Zoo is also a book that could inspire children to go outside and learn about the world around them, and that is a special quality to find in print.

Over all I give this book 5 out of 5 dragons for great writing, an interesting story, and making me want to learn more about nighthawks. If you are looking for a book for your child, your classroom, or even a quick read for yourself, I encourage you to give Brenda Kearn’s books a try.