Justen’s Summer Reading List!

It has just occurred to me that all this time I’ve given you plenty of distractions and NONE of them have to do with my passion – reading. I’ve told you how I feel about certain books and a certain theme in books nowadays, but Lord have mercy I’ve gone and neglected to give y’all something to read over the summer.

So, because I’m exhausted from my week of work and I don’t like to beat around the bush, here’s my list of books for you to read over the summer!

1. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

A children’s book, I hear you say? Yes, indeed, my good reader, and a great one at that. If you’re like me your life is revolving around work, responsibility, and lots of other boring, grownup things Peter would stick his tongue at. This book is about the child inside us that remembers what it’s like to build blanket forts, pretend there are mermaids living in the pond down the way, and desperately want to fly. It’s short and sweet and whimsical. Just what this over-tired girl needs.

2. The Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke

This is a fantasy series and one of my absolute favorites. There’s a girl and her father who can both read characters and things out of books and into real life (that’s not a spoiler, you find that out in the first half of the book) and there’s an awesome villain and some cool minor characters that I actually prefer over the major ones… It is a little weird, I shall warn you, if you’re not used to the fantasy genre. It takes place in the real world and in a make-believe one over the course of three books. But my gosh the ending of the third book is so GOOD!

3. Anything by Bryan Davis

This is not cheating. I simply can’t pick a favorite book from him. They’re all really good and deal with tough things in life like sin, guilt, grace, and redemption. He has a fantasy series, a sci-fi trilogy, and various other books that are stand-alones.

4. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

This book is NOT a fantasy, though it is fiction. It is awesome reading about how this family survived through getting stranded on a desert island and the adventures they got into. It makes me want to go out and try all of the things that are described in the book, like building and living in an enormous tree-house and raising my own flock of goats. It is to my great shame and irritation that I don’t own this book yet. I’ve read it and don’t own it. The horror.

5. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I’m only suggesting this because Sherlock season three is on Netflix and I simply cannot stand by and watch another generation of Sherlock lovers go on without highly suggesting they read the original series. Don’t worry, the hardest part about reading these books is the British humor and slang.

And there you have it. I know it’s not an extensive list, but I’m in the middle of trying to catch up on my summer reading and have nothing “modern” for you to read at the present moment (though I do suggest Hunger Games).  My personal reading list is growing at an alarming rate and hopefully I’ll have some reviews up for you soon! 🙂

Hope you enjoy your day! Happy reading!

Justen

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Random Stuff for Today…

Yesterday was a happy day for two reasons. One, it was Father’s Day and though I only saw my daddy for a few minutes it still made me happy to see him at all and tell him that I love him.

The second reason was that one of my best friends, J, got married to her other half, R. Gaugh, it was so wonderful, standing up there with them and watching them say their vows. I’ll admit… I got choked up. I love them both and wish them nothing but happiness!

Then I came home and watched Despicable Me 2 and Finding Nemo with my siblings. While we were watching, my brother made a great observation about Nemo. He noticed that there aren’t any movies anymore that praise fathers for doing their jobs and not calling them stupid, overbearing clods who want to keep women in the kitchen and make lots of money to bathe in. Marlin isn’t an idiot (though he was paranoid) and he is called a “dedicated father” by on of the characters. It seemed appropriate that we were watching it, considering it was Father’s Day.

Now I’m trying to catch up on my stuff. Since I was gone all day yesterday and slept until 10 today, all I want to do is curl up on the couch and read until I fall asleep again.

Speaking of reading, I’m currently listening to The Maze Runner by James Dashner on Playaway from my library. I saw the trailer for the movie online and the plot looked cool, so I naturally decided to read it before I decided to see the movie. I wan’t wrong; the story is compelling (I hate the word “interesting”, so I’m going to avoid using that if I can), but good grief. The way authors write nowadays makes me so frustrated. They seem to think we readers are stupid people who can’t think for ourselves and they have to give us every single detail before we can understand. I want to imagine the forest for myself, thank you, I don’t need you to tell me that the leaves were a dull green and the bark felt like sandpaper and that it was just like every other normal forest in the world. And what does that have to do with anything anyways? I’ll be reading Anna Karenina or something like that to challenge my brain before moving on to the next piece of modern literature.

Hope y’all are having a great Monday! Throw open your windows and enjoy the fresh air, or better yet, go outside and work if you can. See ya next week!

Justen

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Wayne Rooney vs. Dirty Sanchez

So. An 11-hour shift with no break on Saturday + a very long day away from home on Sunday = one exhausted blogger on Monday. Thus my absence yesterday.

Here is today’s distraction! I don’t that what this is exactly, whether it was meant as a commercial or if these fools did it for kicks and giggles, but it’s pretty funny. Take a look.

Oh, and they are very British. If you can’t understand what they’re saying, don’t worry about it. You’ll only miss half of the humor in the video. 😉

Justen

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Follow-up From Two Weeks Ago

Follow-up From Two Weeks Ago

Hey, guys!

This is a link to a blog from a girl I go to school with named Stacey. I just thought you’d like to read it after the post I had two weeks ago about depression. Read it, comment, give her some feedback. 🙂

See you next week!

Justen

 

Edit: I’m obviously very bad at keeping track of time, since I thought this was posted a week after my post on depression. I now know it was two weeks ago. Oops. Justen

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Justen Goes on Vacation!

What’s up, y’all?

As promised, I have pictures and memories from my recent vacation in a state that I do not live in for you to share with me.

Well, the adventure started in a car ride for six hours, continued the next day with the most delicious food I’ve had in a long time, and ended with a 2-mile hike uphill to see a beautiful waterfall. I slept (finally!), I read, I caught up on my shows, and I hung out for four days with my wonderful, crazy, awesome family. It was a great vacation and very much needed and I want to go back and never return.

Even though it was a short vacation, I still had moments to share with you. I learned that I prefer mountainous ranges and green forests over oceans and flat plains. I remembered how long it’s been since I’ve been to a potluck and how much I love food in general. And I discovered my limits when it comes to persevering and making it through something I don’t actually like. I’m referring to, of course, the hike.

It was beautiful. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I went. But I don’t usually go hiking, and I really don’t go outside when allergens are flying around at an alarming rate and I’m in danger of being mildly inconvenienced by sneezing and itchy eyes. But I went. And I have photo evidence.

The first bit was relatively easy. We took the scenic route, which coincidentally was also the more difficult one.

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Look how pretty. The sky was so blue.

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We followed this river all the way up.

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I took over 100 pictures all the way up the two-mile trek. I saw pretty butterflies and flowers, and my family was climbing up and down the rocks we encountered in the pathway like mountain goats. But the best part was the sight we hiked up to see: the 90ft. waterfall.

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Oh my gosh so darn pretty.

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I had to climb up a slippery flight of stairs to get this shot. It doesn’t show you how high up I was, but it was high.

TAKE ME BACK.

So, though the walk up and back was difficult and painful for me, it was worth it. The destination was worth seeing and the confidence I’ve gained from pushing through personal problems makes me invincible, honestly.

Before I go, I wanted to add this in here. Today is Memorial Day in the US of A, and while you may not support our troops, I do. Please thank a veteran today and pray for the soldiers who are still stationed somewhere away from their families. If you can’t thank them, then just be kind to them by saying nothing mean or snide to them personally or their families. They sacrifice themselves and their lives so you and I can enjoy the freedoms we take for granted sometimes, like the ability to hike two miles to look at a beautiful waterfall without fear of being shot or kidnapped. And if you are a soldier and you’re reading this, I want to say thank you very much for all you’ve done for our country.

That’s all this week! See you next Monday.

Justen

All photos are copyright of Justen Time Photography. All rights reserved.

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“Here Comes the Sun, do do do do….”

Hello, reader!

My apologies for both missing our rendezvous last week and being late this week. Last week was finals week for me, and even though I was finished I slept most of last week except for when I was hungry and had to go to work. Yesterday, I was enjoying my last day in a state that I do not live in for vacation and was either out hiking 4 miles uphill (my everything hurts) or I was in the car for an excruciatingly long time. Next week, I shall have pictures for you and some recap of my adventures in another state!

This week, however, I wanted to talk to you about something that has been weighing on my mind lately and I felt I needed to speak about it. I’m not sure why I’ve been thinking about this so much… maybe because it relates to me a year ago or maybe one of you needs to read this… Either way, I’ll be talking to you about depression.

No, I’m not going to go ranting about how depression affects everyone. There are not going to be any stats on this post, so if you’re here because the Internet search brought this post up for your research project, turn back now and go look at something credible, like MayoClinic or something. I’m not writing this for empathy or sympathy, though I won’t brush it off if either is offered. I’m also not going to tell you that I think as a Christian that depression is a load of crap and shouldn’t be taken seriously because the people affected need to either suck it up and rely on God to make it go away or they’re faking and trying to get attention. I want this to be an encouragement to you for those of you who are going to read further and understand exactly what I’m talking about. For those of you who don’t, I’m giving you this post to show you that depression is a real problem, it is horrible, and I’m never going to wish it on anybody so they can experience it but maybe by reading this post you can get a better understanding of what it’s like and how to help.

Almost a year ago, I was unknowingly about to enter in to one of two rounds with depression. The first round lasted about a month or so, but the second (or maybe it was the first round that never really went away but lingered) lasted longer and was more difficult to get rid of. I’m better now, though I still have some days every now and then when I have to control my thoughts and my actions to keep myself from making myself depressed again. It doesn’t matter why I was depressed. That’s not the point of this post.

Before I go further, I want you to get an idea of what I mean when I say “depressed”. I don’t mean incredibly sad but still able to function. I don’t mean I had a bad day and was feeling down or insecure or unhappy with my lot in life. I mean I was sad, but not the usual sadness you feel every now and then. I felt numb, like something could have sliced my arm off and I wouldn’t have felt it. I was numb, but at the same time I felt keenly aware of how sad and upset and utterly empty I felt. If you’ve never felt this way, good. I hope you never do. But if you have, you understand that while I can try and describe it, there’s really no way to convey how I felt nothing and something at the same time. My thoughts would not shut up. Sleep would not help, it just made it silent for a while. At my lowest point, I had no interest in anything, not even breathing. I would wake up early in the morning and lay in bed for literally hours, trying to make myself get up and do the things that I needed to do like homework. I felt smothered, like a blanket I could not figure out how to throw off had settled over me and was trying to suffocate me. I was exhausted from trying to stay positive around others because I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like letting others know when something is wrong with me. I was able to go through the motions of life because my life at the time was routine– sleep, school, work, sleep– but everything seemed tinged with grey.

I know I had a less intense form of depression. I never cut myself, I never seriously thought about dying, but it was still awful. I desperately wanted to feel something besides emptiness and sadness, and the times I felt genuinely happy I held on to for as long as I could because once they were gone I felt nothing again.

I eventually got better. I now remember what it’s like to be happy about something and am frequently laughing again. I can enjoy again a baby’s laugh or the sunshine or hanging out with people. I came out stronger, though I never would want to endure that again.

How did I get better? Listen carefully, because this is the real intent of this post. If you know what I was talking about above, I’m sorry. I love you and I want you to get better and I’m going to try and give you ways that helped me so maybe they can help you. If you don’t, I’m very glad. Read this next part for ideas about how to help someone with depression, because I promise you even though we may act otherwise, we want help. We can’t figure out how to get rid of it on our own and it makes us feel worse because we feel like weak failures. For the words of encouragement, I’ll write in this normal text. For those who want to help, I’ll write in italics.

Talk to someone. I know it’s scary. I know it’s going to be uncomfortable, admitting to something that may seem like a way to get attention. But talk to someone. It doesn’t always have to be a professional. I talked to two people who were not related to me about what I was dealing with. They loved on me and prayed for me and didn’t try and help me get better right then and there. Don’t try and get better alone.
If you are talking to someone with depression, please don’t tell them things will get better soon. They will see right through that and feel worse because to them, it seems like everything is never going to be okay and the fact that someone else can think that makes them feel guilty for feeling badly. Sometimes saying absolutely nothing is the best thing. One of my friends would talk when I needed her to, and at other times she was perfectly silent and let me cry or rant or do whatever. The very fact that someone was there and wasn’t uncomfortable made me feel more relaxed and able to feel a little more hopeful.

Keep a jar of happy memories. I saw this idea on Tumblr, I think. I took an old animal cracker container and grabbed a bunch of post-it notes. Every day, I wrote down something good that happened during the day. Some of them were out of the ordinary, like “School let out early!” or “A guy in drive-thru told me I was the nicest person he’d talked to all day”. Some of them were about me hanging out with my friends or snuggling with a baby in the nursery at church or seeing my favorite high-school teacher who was thrilled to see me. But on bad days, the most I could write usually looked like this: “…we closed early today and I was able to get some sleep”. Seriously, that’s in there. Keep a jar, a notebook, a blog, whatever, but look for the happy moments. They don’t have to be significant. It can be something like, “Got out of bed” or “Didn’t self-harm today”, but make it a moment to remember so when you feel like you can’t do it later, you can look back and see that you’ve done it before. It will also remind you that the little things in life can be happy things, too.
If you know the person you want to help is depressed, don’t walk around pointing out every detail. I know and they will know you mean well, but depression sucks all interest out of life. We will really not care because to us, a sunny day looks less sunny when we can’t even drag ourselves out of bed. But be encouraging. We often feel like we’re alone and no one sees what’s wrong with us and no one understands. Even if you’ve never been depressed, you can still be encouraging. Do they self-harm themselves? On days they resist and don’t do it, praise them! Tell them how proud you are of them. Give them something to add to their happy memory bank by hugging them tightly or giving them their favorite ice cream flavor or watching a movie. It will feel like you’re doing nothing, but I promise you that they will appreciate not being alone.

I know this is a long post, so to keep down on the novel I appear to be writing, I’ll make these next ones shorter:
Hang out with cheerful people. Misery loves company, and you aren’t helping yourself by hanging out with people who can’t help you.
Send them a friendly text message or leave a note on their work station. Not like, “Have a wonderful day!”, because they won’t, but more like “I love you/think your’e awesome/etc.”, “I know things are tough and I’m praying for/thinking about you”, “You look nice today”. A friend of mine sent me Bible verses for a couple weeks and I saved every single one of them.
Don’t be afraid to cry. You’re sad, dangit, let the sadness out!
Let them cry all over you.
Watch birds and squirrels for no other reason than they’re funny to watch and they are cute.
Take them out of their house/apartment/wherever they are. Break they’re routine. Go out for ice cream or to see a movie (not The Fault in Our Stars just yet) or to simply go to the park and hang out.

I hope this helps. To those of you who understand what I’m talking about and what I mean when I say “depression”, please believe me that it will get better. I’ve done it and come out the other side stronger. Don’t give up. You can do this.

For those of you who want to help, don’t you give up either. I know it can be frustrating and tiring and you can feel helpless, but keep at it. They need you to be there. It’s not good for them to be alone and to suffer by themselves. Provide that ray of sunshine they need to see that the clouds aren’t always blocking the light.

See y’all next week.

Justen

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Why I Love Wreck-it Ralph

You should feel special. I should be writing a paper.

Anyways, I’ve decided to give Wreck-it Ralph some love, cuz I don’t think it gets enough.

Normally I’m not one to like the stories where the bad guy is really a misunderstood good guy because deep down s/he is the product of a bad upbringing where his or her personal choices have nothing to do to influence how s/he turns out. As I said in an earlier post, I like my bad guys to stay bad and the good guys to stay good, with a few turn coats here and there who have good motivation beyond “the writer wanted to cater to the public”. But gosh darn it I love Wreck-it Ralph. And here’s why:

1. Ralph himself. I’m going to make the argument that he is not really a bad guy, like Gru in Despicable Me. I think he really is a product of labeling, where people assume because he’s strong and clumsy that he is the bad guy and shouldn’t have any friends. Seriously, this is the one big guy that I love. Normally I don’t like muscles on a character because the stereotype is that they’re stupid, but Ralph is clever in his own right. Plus, that guy has such a soft spot for Vanellope I can’t stand it. He makes a car for her, teaches the little brat how to drive, tries to save her when he’s convinced she’s in danger. Shoot. I love Ralph.

2. I love looking at the different games in the arcade. I’ve played or seen a lot of the games onscreen and it brought back pleasant memories for me. I’m not a gamer by any stretch (if I don’t have the cheat codes I’m not interested), but I did enjoy me some video games back in the day. The way the artists made the different characters move according to their game style, even when it wasn’t on the gaming screen, was so cool! 

3. The freaking puns. King Candy is full of them. I’m a sucker for a pun, no matter how cheesy.

4. The fight that Ralph and Vanellope had to make something better for themselves is admirable and something I think should be praised. You know you’re in a bad situation? Get off your butt and get out. You want to be the best racer in Sugar Rush? Build a little car and practice on the most dangerous level in the entire game. But the entire time, they aren’t compromising who they are to make others like them. I don’t recall a single time when Ralph or Vanellope try to make themselves like everyone else in their game so they can have friends. They are themselves, unashamedly in Vanellope’s case, while trying to change their situations and the other characters learn to accept them, big hands and glitches in all. 

5. Have I mentioned King Candy yet? The dude is hilarious. Those puns. “You wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses, would you? Oh, you hit a guy with glasses. That’s well played.” Makes me laugh every time.

Basically I love this movie. That’s all.

How about you? What movies do you like and why? What did you think about my reasons for loving this movie? Agree? Disagree?

See you next week!

Justen

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