Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sticker Collection

Remember what it felt like to be tethered to a plastic rotary phone for HOURS while your best friend just talked and talked and talked?

And you didn't really just wanted to get up and do something else, but all you could do was sit on your parents' bed and wrap the coiled cord around your finger over and over while your friend yammered on and on about jellies and Christmas presents and Nancy Drew books and new bicycles and then an hour would pass and your mom would FINALLY tell you to hang up and you were like THANK GOD! I CAN'T STAND IT ANYMORE.

And then you'd go and pull out your Lisa Frank stationery and write a letter to your other friend, because you're feeling very fond of them all of a sudden, but you don't know if you should actually use any stickers on the letter because those stickers cost money, unlike the digital crap we have today. No, these are irreplaceable stickers that could actually die if you give them away. So, you send the letter and stash the stickers.

Twenty years pass. You find yourself at 30 years of age, having had moved the last of your items out of your parent's house a few years ago, and yet...and yet there sits that freaking box of stickers. Stickers that you never used.

Well, isn't this the WORST?

For the first time in your life you wish that you'd been more wasteful in your childhood. Or at the very least you wish that you could be more wasteful now.

But you can't! You can't do it! You can't part with the box of stickers that meant so much to you all those years ago. And so you pack them away in a box labeled "mementos," knowing you will most likely not open the box for another ten years and thus your stickers will live on.

And hopefully, 40-year-old you will finally have that thing called "common sense" that you've seemed to lack your entire life.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

How Game of Thrones SHOULD Have Looked

There is this weird thing that happens when you read a book before seeing its movie or TV show…you end up utterly disappointed. And not just disappointed in the “oh, she’s supposed to have silver hair and instead it looks just…white” sense, but in the “wait, WHAT? Is this really supposed to be the face of my favorite character for the next FIVE SEASONS?!”

This is exactly what happened to me with the Game of Thrones television show.

I’m a HUGE fangirl of the books. So much so that I saw the author George Martin at WorldCon some time ago, and I was incapable of walking up to say hello. We’re talking glued to the ground, unable to think, wasting space and air. I’m not usually like that around people I admire, so it ended up being a mild form of entertainment for the practical side of my brain—the side that kept taunting “he’s just an old man! You’re a blond! GO SAY HI, you wimp!”

Ahem…where was I? OH YES…the tv show.

I had read the first two books by the time I saw the show, so I’d had plenty of time to create my own better  versions of these characters. And let me tell you they were lifelike! And awesome!!! And way better than any HBO casting director could have imagined!

And naturally as soon as the opening scenes played out, my dreams were shattered. My excitement depleted. This show was going to be horrible. And all because the characters looked nothing like they were supposed to look.

Time has passed. I am rewatching what I had previously watched and I have finally been able to move past the casting atrocities. And I’m even starting to forget my original versions of these wonderful characters. So, to forever lock my imagination in place, here are my original interpretations of some of the key characters in GAME OF THRONES:


Amanda's version: Henry VIII

TV version:

Not too shabby, but clearly, I imagined him fatter.


Amanda's Version: Wee Man from Jackass

TV version:

Can you tell Tyrion is one of my least favorite characters? He's a close second after Bran. I am beyond bummed that Peter Dinklage makes him tolerable. I wanted to hate this character forever.


Amanda's version: A dreamy Christian Bale from Newsies

TV version:

Jon Snow was supposed to be able to sing "Santa Fe" on cue. Sigh. Oh, what could have been...

Book 1, he seemed to be written to be more sinister. Less attractive. So, book 1...

Amanda's Version: this guy from Knight's Tale only with blond hair

Book 2, suddenly he was attractive!!! And likeable!! So, this...

Amanda's Version:

TV version:

A decent match with the book 2 version, but what happened to book 1 Jaime?!


Amanda's Version: Cate Blanchett (with red hair)

TV Version:

The show really aged many of the adults, and ugh...I hate it. And I'm sorry, but the actress they got for Catelyn can't hold a candle to my top pick, Cate Blanchett.

There are other disappointments, of course. Cersei is supposed to have awesome, curly golden hair. Not a wavy straw-colored wig. Daenerys is supposed to have silver hair and purple eyes. The Hound is supposed to be more menacing. Joffrey is supposed to actually be handsome. 

There are a few perfect picks, of course. Khal Drogo is spot on. As is Ned Stark and Varys. And Viserys. Definitely Viserys.

But the good ones don't make up for the bad ones. Especially when the good picks die one after the other and bad picks like Hodor live on to see another episode. And another. And another.

Amanda's Version:

TV version:

Yeah, I'll never get over how disappointing this one was. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

My Twenties at a Glance

In my twenties, I...

Led an all-girl band in a Battle of the Bands.
Directed two plays.
Made friends.
Lost friends.
Met Tad.
Graduated college.
Began life on my own with nothing more than a BA degree in writing, a car full of stuff, and $500 to my name.
Married Tad.
Worked as a waitress.
Worked as an Admissions Counselor.
Traveled to Boston, NYC; San Diego; Dallas; Atlanta; St. Louis; D.C.; Anaheim; Portland; Springfield, Mo.; Turkey; Chicago; Cleveland; Grand Rapids; Indianapolis; The Blue Ridge Mountains; Kansas City; and more.
Did odd-jobs for Chip MacGregor.
Wrote for Vera Bradley.
Wrote for Peg Perego.
Held two full-time-ish jobs for three years.
Started my own business.
Became an agent.
Met Nora Roberts' handler's daughter...then met the handler.
Saw Nora Roberts.
Participated in my first dance party.
Saw George RR Martin.
Met Charlaine Harris.
Received a hug from Ted Dekker. :/
Met Tosca Lee.
Saw Jim Carrey.
Saw Tim Gunn.
Saw that Giada lady.
Befriended numerous authors and editors.
Mistook Frank Peretti for a very confused, old man.
Was *this close* to convincing a big-time NFL player to do a book.
Wrote many words.
Freelanced for local papers.
Wrote two books. One fiction; one nonfiction.
Self-published my nonfiction book.
Got a dog.
Became obsessed with said dog.
Found a shampoo that allowed me to grow my fragile hair past my shoulders.
Moved into a rental house (life on the top floor of a random building had gotten old after five years of it).
Baked a pie.
Baked another pie, and another...
Grew out of my love for playing video games.
Grew into a love of working :/
Took up running.
Stopped running.
Took it up again.
Stopped again, meaning that I...
Gained weight.
Lost weight.
Owned an Audi 100.
Owned a Jetta VLX GR6.
Now I own a Toyota Corolla :(
Reached the "Medium and sometimes Hard" levels on the drums on Rockband.
Drove a lot.
Flew a lot.
Navigated NYC (taxis, subways, publisher meetings, etc) on my own without having ever been there before.
Was inside the Flatiron building, the Woolworth building, and more.
Felt fancy at a number of NYC publisher parties.
Rode in an elevator with Mr. Romance 2011.
Went to a Broadway show.
Moved to Indiana.
Missed Chicago.
Became obsessed with genealogy.
Became an aunt.
Became a sister-in-law.
Began the hunt to buy a house.

In my thirties I will blow this list away.

(Me, on my birthday with one of my gifts.)

And I will also continue to be frozen in time as "forever 23."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Frienemies with Katy Perry

Well, Rachel've done it this time. You've gone and gotten a blog post written JUST FOR YOU so that you can understand that yes, my love for Katy Perry IS in fact a "heart/soul connection" that goes back more than a decade...

I present to you, Katy's first ever album with a written dedication on it TO ME:

Now I know what you're thinking! How cute! How sweet! Amanda met Katy before she became way famous and now she has this wonderful little memento along with a cursed desire to watch and know and listen to all things Katy Perry!

Oh, dear Rachel. If only it were that simple...

I have often thought that if Katy and I had gone to the same high school we possibly would have been frienemies. I mean we both came from families heavily involved in ministry, and we both have hearty amounts of experience leading worship at homeless shelters and rescue missions and outdoor evangelism parties. So on those counts, we probably would have been BFFs. BUT! when it comes to boys, our fate was doomed from the beginning.

It all started when I went to a concert and found myself being squished against the stage by a bunch of raging psychos. Panicked, I remember looking with a helpless expression to the lead singer of the band, who WINKED at me. Not a lame, boring, meaningless wink. This was a wink that said, "It's okay, I've got you. You're going to be fine and then you and I are going to get married and live happily ever after."

This boy was Matt Thiessen of Relient K.

So, naturally, I left the show, thinking that my life was about to get awesome because I was going to have a rockstar boyfriend!

Wrong. It was only a few weeks later that I discovered via an old school Christian music message board that Matt had started dating Katy Hudson (now Katy Perry).

RE: she stole him from me

*insert childish girl scream here*

I did my best to move on and forgive her. I mean her music was great, and I secretly wanted to be her, but there was always this voice in the back of my head that was like "She took him him! Now you can't have him! AND SHE'S YOUNGER THAN YOU!!!!"

This was the first time that Katy and I shared a romantic interest. The second time, was way weirder...

There is a name...a very specific name that if I were to whisper it in Katy's ear, she would probably gasp and cover her mouth and then whisk me away to a quiet corner so that she could ask me how in the world I know that name...

You see, Katy's and my intertwined romantic interests didn't stop at Matt. There was this guy on a different message board (I guess there were lots of those then). And he had this MAJOR interest in Katy.

But he also had an interest in me.

And he was like 40.

Now this guy had SUCH an interest in Katy and SUCH an interest in me, that he is the reason I have the above signed album. He went to one of Katy's concerts (he went to a million of them because she was a no-name back then and did small, accessible shows), bought the CD, had her personalize it for me in such a way that it proves that he actually spent time telling her about me, and then mailed it to me along with other nice gifts and such.

Yes. This. This happened. Katy and I shared an admirer for what I can roughly estimate to be a year-year and a half.

Of course this was an admirer that neither of us wanted, but still. It totally counts and is weird.

So THERE, Rachel. THAT is my "heart/soul connection" to Katy. A strange game of 6 degrees without a single Kevin Bacon in sight.

All of this points to one truth and one truth only...if my and Katy's romances are destined to overlap, SHE IS NEVER ALLOWED TO MEET TAD BECAUSE SHE WILL STEAL HIM.

Also, it was probably a good thing that Tad stopped me from chasing that Russell Brand lookalike that we saw at the fair this summer to ask him if it was really him.

(I was just curious).

Friday, September 6, 2013

Conversations with Myself While Shopping

Me: Oh, here's a good store to check out...act natural, act natural, act natural...
Myself: Why are you saying that?
Me: I don't want them to think that the only reason I came in was to check out the clearance section.
Myself: But that was the only reason--
Me: Yeah, but they don't need to know that. I mean there's totally a stigma associated with clearance shoppers.
Myself: But you're a clearance shopper.
Me: Yeah but I don't want to be. Big difference.
Myself: ...
Me: There, we made it to the back!
Myself: Hooray.
Me: This is cute! Oh man, only $14.
Myself: Great. Try it on.
Me: Hmm...I don't know.
Myself: What now?
Me: I mean it's cute, and it's a great deal, but...
Myself: Oh boy.
Me: I'm just not sure it's my style.
Myself: What?
Me: I mean it's just not hardcore enough.
Myself: I'm sorry, I didn't know you and P!nk were friends.
Me: Oh, shut it.
Myself: No seriously, I didn't know you had a hardcore style.
Me: I do. At least in my head. And the way you think about yourself really does impact who you are.
Myself: And you want to be hardcore?
Me: I'm just trying to go after the whole intimidation factor, okay?
Myself: And this shirt doesn't do that for you?
Me: No, it's way too Barbie. I mean I'd have to get a tan and bleach my hair for this shirt to work. Even though it's cute.
Myself: Okay, so put it back, and let's move on.
Me: But it's only $14...
Myself: Just stop.
Me: Oh no, sales associate alert!
Myself: SAVE ME!
Me: I can't believe she called me "kiddo."
Myself: Well, you are in the clearance section.
Me: Not fair. I already told you that I don't want to be here.
Myself: And you have your hair in a messy bun.
Me: Messy buns aren't mature?
Myself: Well, they definitely aren't hardcore if that's what you're going after.
Me: Shoot. You're right. Okay, new store.
Myself: Thank God.
Me: Hmmm...
Myself: What? Why are we hesitating?
Me: It's just that it's Forever 21...I'm afraid to go in.
Myself: But you always shop there.
Me: No, I shopped there. Big difference. I haven't been shopping for like a year or two. What if I've outgrown it? What if I go in and all of the items are ugly to me and then I find myself wandering into Christopher Banks?
Myself: That's not going to happen.
Me: You can't be sure. I mean every woman makes the CJ Banks switch at some point in her life. Why can't mine happen right before I'm thirty?
Myself: Stop. Just stop. Go in there and see if you can find something you like. Anything.
Me: Okay, but if I'm miserable, I'm blaming it on you...OH I LOVE THIS STORE!!
Myself: Remind me again why it was wrong of the sales associate to call you "kiddo?"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Brief Career in the Rap Industry

You know how rappers feature guest artists on their tracks?
And you know how those artists are usually women, tasked with the role of turning a meandering jumble of verse into a song by belting out a meaningful hook that brings it all together?

Once upon a time, I was one such artist.

I should probably stop there and let you imagine all sorts of horrible or awesome things, depending on how you view the genre, but the story is just so bizarre that if my sister weren’t there to witness the actual recording process, I probably would have convinced myself that I imagined the whole thing.

I’ve been a rap fan for awhile…well…I should clarify. I’ve been a fan of white rap for awhile. Which makes me sound racist, except it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with sound. White rap is just different from black rap…which is different from what I would currently categorize as dance rap.

But anyway…

The story picks up in Peoria, Illinois. I’m sixteen or seventeen, and in the midst of a major crush on a local rap artist, when I’m introduced to a local rap duo. Now I can’t for the life of me remember their names. Something like Doughboy and Rocket (yeah, real winners). But they were local CHRISTIAN rappers.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s the best part of the story.

So anyway, I head them perform at my dad’s outreach event a few times and in turn they heard me sing to my accompaniment tracks. (Classy!). And the next thing I knew they approached me, told me how great I sounded, that they were looking to re-record one of their songs (because the original vocalist on the record was Doughboy’s wife and they had since divorced and I guess there’s something uncool about a rapper still performing with his ex-wife’s vocal track…because we all know rappers must must must be bitterly divorced…), and that they thought I would be perfect for it.

Now, I don’t think I’ve done a very good job of communicating their excitement here, but they were PUMPED UP. I mean it was as if they won the lottery. Or as if the biggest problem the world had ever thrown at them had been solved! And now everything was going to be great and they were gonna be rich and famous, rapping about Jesus. (Which hey, Toby Mac did it, so it’s possible…)

Now before you laugh at me and wonder what the heck I was thinking, remember:
This was a time in my life when I was convinced that I had a shot at making it in the music industry.
This was also a time in my life when I had a major crush on a local rap artist and I thought in some crazy way that doing this would make him notice me.

So, I said yes.

A bit later my sister and I drove to their recording studio which was in some guy’s basement, and almost as soon as we got there, they shoved me into the booth with a pair of the biggest headphones I’d ever seen, and they started playing the track.

Mind you, I WAS SIXTEEN. I had no idea what I was doing. So for some dumb reason instead of making the song my own I tried to recreate what Doughboy’s ex-wife had done.

Note for note.
And I’m REALLY good at recreating vocal stuff.

I imagine Doughboy had some kind of panic attack as the ghost of his ex fluttered through his thoughts. He asked me to re-do it. Then he asked me to switch it up a bit. And after only about three tries, all of which I was very proud of myself for NAILING the original sound, they brought me out of the booth, told me what a great job I did, and then …

Some random guy… maybe it was Rocket. I can’t remember. I guess he’d been singing along while I’d been recording. Someone suggested he try laying down a track or two. And then someone else said that they could layer us.

And I can only imagine that Doughboy saw this opportunity to forever erase his wife’s stamp on the song, because he took the idea and ran with it.

Random guy was thrown in the booth and started singing.

AND. HE. WAS. HORRIBLE. Flat. Weak. No breath support whatsoever.

And the end result? A chorus in which the two of us are singing the exact same melody. One of us sounding like the ex-wife. The other sounding like a dying mouse.

I’ve often wondered if maybe I was biased. If maybe it really wasn’t as bad as I’d remembered, and if I was simply reacting out of jealousy and anger and hurt. So, I asked my sister about it a few weeks ago.

And she was like “Yeah, that guy sounded horrible. It totally ruined the song.”

Every time I think back on that experience, I cringe. And not just because I never got my promised CDs and t-shirts. Or because I blew it.

But because the end product was SO BAD. And they probably re-re-recorded it soon after.

AND because I realize now that featured artists are usually introduced somewhere in the song. You know, where they’re like…

“aw yeah!”
*cue hook*


Now, even if the recording survived, no one will ever know it was me.

Though maybe that’s not such a bad thing…

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Just when you thought Succubi didn't exist...

I like to use this blog as an outlet to be witty, sarcastic, and silly. Well, I haven't been feeling particularly witty or sarcastic or silly lately, so good content has been hard to come by. Now bad content? There have been plenty of those ideas. You should probably thank me for stopping myself from posting photo streams of Helo or video of myself playing Rockband or inspiration boards for my office redecoration or my imagined audition for Les Miserables. Yes, all of these things I've considered and then wisely unconsidered. Because not only would they be painful for me down the road (as I'd look back and wonder what the heck I was thinking), they'd be disastrous for my readership.

So for today's post (because I really should be consistent about posting regularly), we're going to get a bit serious. We're going to talk about my sleep disorder.

It all started in high school. I'd wake up in the night, eyes wide open. And I'd see something in my room. Usually, it was a person. Sometimes it was a creature. Always very terrifying. I'd keep staring and staring and staring at it until it dissolved and there I'd be alone in my room.

When this first started happening, I was so freaked out and confused and frustrated that once when I awoke to find a man standing at the head of my bed, looking down on me, I started to talk to him. I asked him what he was doing there. He answered me, though I don't remember what exactly he said, and then he dissolved.

So this...this suspension of the dream world...continued. I experienced it through college, post-college, and I even experience it now (it happened last night, actually). I've come to accept it as part of my sleeping experience. I go to sleep, knowing it's very probable that I'll awaken in the night only to have the crap scared out of me due to some super-sized Helo, or bugs swarming the ceiling, or an old man sitting in a chair. I've accepted this and told few people. Because to be quite honest, this isn't really the type of thing you want people to know about you. Mostly because it sounds like you're demon possessed. And secondly....because it sounds like you're demon possessed.

But then today, my whole world changed.

On Yahoo!'s home page, it had an article that said "Strange Sleep Disorder Makes People See Demons."

You bet I clicked on that thing so fast it were as if I were playing Gopher Bop.

Come to find out, I am NOT demon possessed. I'm not even being haunted by spirits. Turns out I probably have Sleep Paralysis--a sleep disorder in which the mind remains suspended between dream world and reality while the eyes are open. (Okay, it's either Sleep Paralysis, or I'm being stalked by an incubus...which is gross and exactly what the ancients would have told me back in the day had I explained my symptoms).

Sleep Paralysis is also the likely explanation for those who claim to have been abducted by aliens (!) or had ghostly encounters (!).

I can only hope that some night my SP leads to imagined alien abductions and sweet encounters with Casper. In the meantime, I'll settle for seeing antlers grow out of light fixtures and random appearances of my siblings as the foot of my bed.