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Due to the significant decrease in my online activity, I had forgotten just how stupid and spineless people can be when you hand them a keyboard and a computer screen to hide behind. Since it has been months since I’ve been to a message board (so this is what life is like when you don’t have someone whining about “why don’t you ever visit the message board anymore?”), I had forgotten what it was like to deal with trolls. I had forgotten what it was like to go head to head with people who are so stuck in their own insecurities and feelings of worthlessness that they can’t manage to act like a civilized human being. Lucky for me, maybe 50 people read this website on a somewhat regular basis and due to the lack of unintelligent, hateful comments, I’m assuming none of you are trolls. And for that, I thank you. Because dealing with trolls is exhausting. Dealing with people who say every hateful thing you can imagine online but wouldn’t say it to your face is aggravating. Because you can’t reach through the screen and slap them silly. You can’t shake them and say “WE DON’T HAVE TO AGREE ON EVERYTHING IN ORDER TO LIVE ON THE SAME PLANET!” I don’t agree with people who I live in the same house with but somehow we manage to coexist. There are people who just don’t understand that though. Which is why I give mad props to Heather Armstrong who writes for a living and deals with these idiots every day of her life. And now, she gets to make money off of their stupidity.

I have had a bit of an epiphany (again. Where were all of these brilliant thoughts 4 years ago?) I’ve realized that, like many (or most…) Americans, I have a serious problem with boredom. I am so used to constantly being stimulated that lack of that stimulation drives me crazy.

This is one of the reasons I *hate* driving myself places. (The other being that people behind the wheel are idiots. But that’s a blog for another day.) Sure, I’ve got the radio. But half of the “entertainment” in that is me trying to find a radio station not playing ‘Gives You Hell’ or ‘Poker Face’. If I have a new cd to entertain me, it lasts for awhile. But pretty soon I want something different and find myself bored again. I would so much rather have someone drive me places so I could read on the way.

I can’t even go for a nice walk without my headphones or a book to read. (Yes, I read while I walk the dogs. But I don’t listen to music at the same time. Because then I don’t see *or* hear the cars.) This is one of the reasons why I’ve been so lax about going to the gym for all these years. It’s boring. Now I have Shane to go with me and I’m willing to make a sacrifice on the “fighting my adversity to boredom” front since the benefits of going to the gym outweigh that.

This is a big part of what got me into trouble. It wasn’t just my lack of discipline. It was my inability to drive to school or walk across campus or drive home without someone to talk to. It was my inability to “be still and know that I am God”. I’ve been wanting to go on a silent retreat for quite some time now but I have to wonder if I will be able to pull it off. I’m sure the first 30 minutes would be fine….maybe. But now I’m even more determined to do this. To go somewhere and completely unplug and just….be still. No music, no computer, no phone, no books. Maybe my yoga mat. (I like to do the “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” prayer along with my breathing while I do yoga.)

I need to learn how to be okay with quiet. I need to learn how to be okay without stimulation. I need to learn how to listen for God.

Okay, so I have the discipline of silence and maybe meditation. Does anyone have any other (or better) ideas? Also, does anyone have a recommendation for books on dealing with boredom? (Shane F. and Rich, I’m looking at you.)

Listening: ‘Why I Am’ by Dave Matthews Band

Reading: ‘Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You’ by Susan Forward (Oh how I wish I had read this 4-5 years ago!)

Thinking: Between my Sociology class and our JustFaith curriculum, I may become permanently depressed.

How to Annoy Me: Have a HUGE sign proclaiming Pumpkin Spice Lattes and then not have had the foresight to order more in anticipation of the holiday so you run out. (And yes, I realize that this is totally a First World problem.)

How to Charm Me: Sit on the couch with me all weekend watching NCIS because my medicine is making me sick.

Quote of the Day: Love is willing the good. We love something or someone when we promote its good for its own sake. What characterizes the deepest essence of God is love – that is, willing the good. – ‘Revolution of Character’ by Dallas Willard with Don Simpson (I have an entire blog on this quote floating in my head!)

1. Do you often feel used by the person? (Yes)

2. Have you often felt that he or she doesn’t care about you? (At times)

3. Does he or she lie and deceive you? (Yes)

4. Does he or she tend to make contradictory statements? (Yes)

5. Does he or she tend to take from you and not give much back? (This person gave but usually it benefited them as well)

6. Does he or she often appeal to pity? Does he or she try to make you feel sorry for him or her? (Yes)

7. Does he or she try to make you feel guilty? (Anytime I wasn’t doing what this person wanted me to do)

8. Do you sometimes feel he or she is taking advantage of your good nature? (Yes)

9. Does he or she seem easily bored or need constant stimulation? (Always had to be doing what they wanted to do. Everyone else was boring and mindless.)

10. Does he or she use a lot of flattery? Does he interact with you in a way that makes you feel flattered even if he says nothing overtly complimentary? (Oh yeah)

11. Does he or she make you feel worried? (Worried about my mental health, worried that I’m being a bad person or bad friend, worried that I’m going to hurt them, etc.)

12. Does he or she give you the impression you owe him or her? (All the time!)

13. Does he or she chronically fail to take responsibility for harming others? Does he or she blame everyone and everything but themselves? (Quite often, yes)

How to deal with common everyday sociopaths

If someone in your life has you answering yes to a lot of those questions, run like hell! You cannot help this person by sticking around. You will only hurt yourself and quite possibly other people. And if you see someone else getting snared in their trap, warn that person. It doesn’t mean they’ll listen but at least you will have done your part.

Dear Mikayla,

I know this is technically the day before your birthday. But when I got up this morning, I saw a picture of us and I started crying. Because this is the first birthday that I can’t be at. No matter how badly I want to be. So I decided to write this to you.

I remember the first time I saw you and how I thought you were the prettiest of all the babies there. I remember the first time I held you and you were staring up at me all “Who the hell are you?” But you didn’t cry. I remember getting up the next morning after only 3 hours of sleep and getting you ready for the day and taking you downstairs to eat breakfast. I was trying to juggle you and a plate of whatever that mush was called that you liked. A Chinese man saw me struggling and came over and grabbed the plate for me. I tried to say thank you in Chinese and got laughed at. I remember how much you HATED the high chair. And the stroller. And the car seat. You screamed and screamed but eventually you decided “This ain’t so bad.”

I remember going to the American Consulate and having to carry you, the diaper bag, and the stroller up the stairs because Mom had forgotten our passports and had to go meet Grandpa to get them. I remember holding you in the airport on our way home, standing in line with you sleeping on me. And even though my back was killing me, I refused to let anyone else take you. Because you were my little sister and I didn’t want to let you go.

I remember when you started to walk and we put the squeaky shoes on you. We thought it was the funniest thing. I was in Target a year or so ago and I heard a familiar squeaking sound in the next aisle over. Sure enough, it was a little Asian girl in squeaky shoes. It made me sad that you weren’t little enough to wear those anymore.

I remember how you used to go get a bag of lettuce out of the fridge and sit on the kitchen floor eating it. Nothing else, just the lettuce. I remember how disinterested you were in the chocolate cake for your first birthday. I remember how it was IMPOSSIBLE to bribe you like normal kids. Most kids would eat those last 3 green beans for the promise of ice cream but not you, no sir! You certainly managed to pick up on the trait of David stubbornness.

I remember when I came home from Liberty for Thanksgiving break, you were so happy to see me. And then when I had to leave again, you refused to tell me goodbye. I looked at Mom and said “Think she’ll ever forgive me?” From then on, it was always “Where are you going? How many days?”

I remember watching you and Emma run around at the rehearsals for the N.H.E. plays and looking forward to when the two of you would be on the stage. I remember seeing you wave at me when I was onstage during VBS and being unable to resist waving right back.

I remember having to trick you into going trick or treating. I remember dressing up and getting Matt, our neighbor, to play along so we could show you that it wasn’t scary. But your stubbornness prevailed even in the light of lots and lots of free candy. And then I finally managed to trick you into going two years ago and you had fun. You barely wore a costume but you had fun. You refused to let go of my hand, but you had fun. And then last year, you barely wore a real costume again but you let go of my hand and ran up to doors with the other kids. I was so proud of you.

I remember when you let me put your hair into pigtails like Boo from ‘Monster’s Inc.’ I remember how I finally gave up on doing your hair because you would just rip it out 5 minutes after we got to church. I remember holding you in the van on the way to Grandma and Grandpa’s. I remember reading a book to you on your bed when I got home from Liberty for good. I remember the first time you read to me. I remember the first time you came to see me dance. I remember the first time I got to watch you dance. I remember the day you and Mommy left and I was struggling not to cry so I could be brave for you. I remember thinking how much I was going to miss you.

I know that these won’t be the only memories we have. They will just be fewer and further between. I love you with all my heart and you are the best little sister I could ask for. I miss you but I hope that you have a wonderful birthday.And even though we are thousands of miles apart, I promise I will always be here for you.

Happy birthday, baby.

Love always,

Lala

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