Monthly Archives: February, 2014

Booking Through Thursday: Fanfiction

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Best topic ever!

What do you think of fanfiction? In general, do you think it’s a fun thing or a trespass on an author/producer’s world? Of course, obviously specific authors have very firm and very differing opinions about this, yet it’s getting more popular and more mainstream all the time. Do you ever read or write it yourself?

I used to be really into Harry Potter fanfiction. Those of you who have only known my adult self might be surprised by that, but probably not that it’s Harry Potter. There’s no such thing as grammar fanfiction. (Grammar fiction, yes.)

I still remember the night I really fell into fanfiction. I had written some in middle school without knowing what it was, but in my junior year of high school, I stumbled through the Internet to FictionAlley Park, to Schnoogle, and started reading Draco Dormiens. It was all over then.

After devouring my first novel-length fanfiction, I zipped over to the message boards and became a Ron/Hermione shipper. This was between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, so we were going crazy waiting to see what would happen after that fight post-Yule Ball. (We called it the Yule Brawl.) Eventually, I took over the ship website. It got real.

By the time the last book was released, I was in college and had long decided my time was better spent away from message boards and fanfiction and more on trying to graduate. The momentum slowed down to a trickle. The moment was over.

But, man, am I glad I was there at the heart of it.

Technically, what we did (using the word “we” very loosely) was illegal. But J.K. Rowling knew about it. She even eventually confessed to looking up factoids in the Harry Potter Lexicon when she couldn’t remember something and didn’t want to bother searching through her own notes. It was great experience with writing (and, for the high-quality stuff, reading), and it formed an incredible international community—around a book!

The books changed our lives, and our action in the fandom changed the author’s. I call that a win-win.

And Nobody Called Me White

Well, that was exciting!

I felt inspired to write yesterday’s post, and I am amazed at the response it received. It is one of my most-viewed posts, right up there with the Catholic Calendar posts, my review of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie (which needs a postscript, because I found Teddy Lupin), and even that Friday Five where I posted the sweet fan art of Princess Jasmine and Rajah and my post with Hey Girl Catholic Ryan Gosling.

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Look at those stats! Even my WordPress iPhone app took notice.

I thought it might catch some attention. I wanted it to, which is why I posted it on Facebook. I almost never link my blog posts there. So many people from my real life don’t even know that I blog, let alone that I’ve been doing so for twelve years.

I’m so glad I did it, though. It came from the heart, and it inspired some great interactions with my friends. Even my uncle liked it!

I also wrote that post because I miss the days when I would just post about what was going on in my life and what I was thinking. They weren’t always well-crafted essays, and they weren’t just link-ups (“memes” back in the days before easy image macros like the ones with Mr. Gosling). They were just about me, straight from me, as unedited as it gets from a grammar lover.

Thank you to everyone who read that post. Extra thanks to everyone who commented on it (online or in person). I hope to provide more of the same authentically Lindsay voice in the future.

Happy reading!

Being Black Is What I Am

I am black.

It’s pretty obvious when you look at me that I’m not white. My students in my first year of teaching tried to get me to “admit” to being white, but I’m not. My mom’s side of the family has very fair skin, so when you combine my parents, the complex science of skin complexion, and my aversion to being out in the sun, you get this:

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Me with my parents at my graduation from Notre Dame.

I have always preferred being called “black.” There’s something off-putting about “African American,” with or without a hyphen. It seems so PC, and it’s not even accurate. People who are Mexican American have a parent (or a grandparent, or at least an identifiable ancestor) who is from Mexico. Family still in Mexico. A family hometown in Mexico. Some distinct connection to Mexico besides genetics and skin color.

I’m not from Africa. I don’t know where my ancestors came from in Africa. I probably never will, and I don’t much care to find out. So I’m not African American. Moreover, Africa is a continent, not a country.

If you are not black and are trying not to offend, I understand your saying “African American.” The best thing to do, though, is ask. It might be awkward, but it will almost certainly not be offensive. I have medium brown skin. I have been mistaken for native Hawaiian/Polynesian, biracially black and white, Indian from the country of India, Indian as in Native American, and Dominican (the country, not the Catholic religious order [always remember your audience]). None of those are true. I don’t mind when people ask. Then they know they’ve got it right! (I do find it a little amusing, though. I didn’t know I was so racially ambiguous until adolescence.)

(While I am on the subject, I also respect other races’ freedom to choose their own identifying term. Claim your name!)

Being from a suburban Maryland military family, my concept of race growing up was unique. Non-white people are a literal minority in the military. When I was preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation in middle and high school in our overseas military parish, I was the only black person in the class. That never surprised me. Back in Maryland, in a predominantly black county, my high school graduating class had 15 white people. The total class was 549. “Minority” is a relative term.

With such a complicated background, I have always struggled with what it means to be black. I am, but what does that mean?

  • Am I black because I have to chemically straighten my hair, even if it does all grow from my scalp (i.e. it is not a weave)?

  • Am I black because I love to dance—even if I can’t crip walk, won’t twerk, and have a soft spot for line dances?

  • Am I black because I like fried chicken? (Everyone likes fried chicken!)

  • Am I black even though I don’t like most rap music? (I have some hip-hop jams, but not many.)

  • Am I black even though I love grammar? (Does loving grammar make me white? Or am I just not black enough?)

  • Am I black even though my name is Lindsay?

What makes me black?

Essentially, it’s the color of my skin and the race of my ancestors. I don’t do black, I am black.

This post was inspired by an article I read on CNN.com today, “Five Things to Know about Black Culture Now.” I think it’s the first time I’ve ever agreed with anything anyone has written about being black. It was probably posted because Black History Month is ending, but it’s relevant to every single month and day of my life.

To define what’s authentically black is virtually impossible, as there are as many ways to be black as there are black people.

I define my own black identity. Finally! I’ve never heard anyone say that before. This freedom is so sweet.

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 70 & 71

Oh, hey! Didn’t see you there! I’ve just been living my life, working it out, and not blogging. I was also sick last week, but that was in between Sundays, so I still have outfit photos to share.

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This will be another two-fer. Last week, I pulled out this dress I bought at Target in December. I thought it would be good for my new mix-and-match clothing philosophy. This is the first time I’ve styled it, though, so any potential versatility remains to be seen.

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I matched it with my purple embellished cardigan and purple skinny belt, both also from Target. In retrospect, I would have worn tights with this. It wouldn’t be too short on any other woman, but it was on me. At dinner after Mass, I sat on a wooden chair, and my thighs stuck to it when I tried to stand up! I could also wear this with knee-length black (or purple) leggings, but I don’t own those. Maybe in my next good shopping trip.

Today was another good day for purple and skinny belts. I got the white one fairly recently, and it hasn’t been the right weather for this Old Navy dress, but I’m a fan of this combo now. My legs are even a little less pasty and sensitive to the sun and air. They were covered up for a long time!

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I added the off-white sweater after Mass, when it was less sunny and warm. I scored that at Old Navy on clearance for $9 (regular $24). It was also nice to bring out my white lace flats again.

I was extra-prepared for Mass last week because I’d let a Bible study on the readings the Monday before. It was so nice to know exactly what was up, especially since Jesus has been keeping it real in these last few Gospels before Lent.

Today, the impression I got from Mass was that we must be as much like God as possible: holy, perfect, loving, and merciful. Fr. Reversible Names talked about how we must love, no matter how difficult it is, because God loved us first, and that means giving up even our favorite vices.

And with that, another busy week begins. It’s hard being this popular.

Booking Through Thursday: Best Part

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Today’s official installment of Booking Through Thursday is about snow days. This is upsetting because (a) that’s not about books at all, unless you happen to like to read on snow days, and (b) it’s heading back toward eternal summer here in Austin, Texas.

I will, therefore, be answering last week’s question. Also, I missed it completely due to my recent extreme popularity.

What is it that you like best about reading? What is it that you love?

I love stories! As my tagline indicates, I usually say that my three greatest loves are Jesus, grammar, and Harry Potter. Although I do have an unusual affinity for grammar, and Harry Potter did change my life, that’s not the whole truth. What I really love are words and language, especially when they are used to tell stories.

Back in undergrad, I came across my raison d’être for studying English, specifically English literature. We study literature because it teaches us what it means to be human. Storytelling is how we learn history, patriotism, religion, and values. I love stories, and that is why I love books.

Well, that’s the nutshell at least. I also love feeling rested, so I can’t go into too much detail due to my need to go to bed on time. A more detailed version of my story manifesto will have to wait for another day.

What I Wore Sunday, Vols. 68 & 69

Well, that was another week of no blogging. It had lots of fun times in it, though, which I will hopefully be able to post about on Tuesday. I haven’t had many nights at home to recharge!

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This week will be a What I Wore Sunday two-fer! I took last week’s photos and did not post them at all, but I have today’s photos ready to go, so brace yourselves for many words and many photos.

Last week was Super Bowl Sunday, or for me, just Sunday. It was nice and cold, and I was scheduled to lector, so I put on my fancy clothes.

The sweater is from Target a few years ago. I love argyle but own almost none. I have recently been turned on to the button-down-with-a-sweater look, and I don’t know why I didn’t go for it more before. It seems so much more polished than my usual boring undershirts under sweaters. The corduroy skirt is from Old Navy. The shoes are so old that I don’t remember where I got them. I think it was Kohl’s. It was definitely a department store.

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Collage created using PicMonkey!

I go to Mass on Sunday evenings. I wasn’t surprised that many people were missing, but I was disheartened by the extraordinary ministers’ chatter in the sacristy. They seemed to think the few dozen people who were in the church before Mass would be the only attendees. I worked in campus ministry; I knew better. The grand majority of people arrive between five minutes before Mass starts and ten minutes after it starts. The other scheduled lector didn’t show, so I did both readings and the Universal Prayer. Every time I stepped up to the ambo, more people had arrived. Better late than never!

My real bummed-out moment came after Mass. My friends and I count the collection after Mass on the first Sunday of the month. That unfortunately coincided with this underattended Mass, so we only had 6 people counting instead of our usual 10–12. It took us two agonizing hours to finish, but we stuck it out. We usually go out to dinner afterwards, but we were all too exhausted. I was ravenous by the time I got home. Does it show in the photos?

Today was rather better. It was frigid on Friday and quite cold last night. When I left for Mass today, it was 70 and sunny, and it will be only 44 at the high tomorrow. What month is this?

Due to the crazy weather, I decided to get crazy and bust out a summer church outfit. The pasty legs you are about to see may disturb you.

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Click for full size.

I wore this Converse for Target dress and Old Navy undershirt at Mass without the sweater. I think the air conditioning was on! After Mass, when we went out to eat and sat outside, it came in handy as the temperature dropped ten degrees. The sweater is a gift from Kohl’s (I’m pretty sure), and the shoes are my old standbys from Payless.

I have taken to preparing for Mass while I let my hair air-dry on Sundays. It’s a much better use of my time than Instagram, at least so far. Today’s message, as I got it, was that Christ is the light of the world, and we must consider how we let his light shine through us. Do we do good works in the name of Christ? Do we moan and complain like ordinary people do? When people praise us, do we praise Christ in return? Our deacon broke down the metaphors from the Gospel in great historical detail, which I found especially helpful because I’ve never understood that part about the salt of the Earth and why you would ever put a light under a basket. It makes much more sense now.

Why this weather keeps flipping from winter to summer: that I may never understand.

Choosing Sides (Review: “The Great Divorce”)

This may be the hardest review I’ve ever had to write for Austin CNM. It’s not my last (unless the Lord knows something I don’t), and it’s not because I don’t know how to express myself here. It’s because I’m not quite sure how I can impress upon you the importance of this book and my enthusiasm that you read it—and soon.

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Despite my two English degrees and two years of teaching English, I struggle greatly with complex literature. It’s one of my biggest sources of shame. I miss symbolism all the time. Allegories can be lost on me. I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia and did not know it was an allegory for salvation history!

That early misstep did not turn me off to C.S. Lewis, though.

Read the rest of my review of The Great Divorce at Austin CNM.

Featured image from Unsplash.

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