Themes That Have Been Running Through My Mind

Don’t praise me.

I know it’s because of my insecurities with my body, but I hate it when people praise my efforts to lose weight. When I come home from the gym and my mom says, “I’m so proud of you for going to the gym!” I cringe and don’t respond. I don’t tell people when I’ve lost weight because I don’t want to hear them say, “Wow! Good for you! I’m so proud of you.” I know it’s strange, but I hate it because it brings attention to my large body and the fact that I need to lose weight. I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to ignore this fact, and a person bringing it up, even in a positive way, bothers me a lot. People generally wouldn’t tell a thin person they were proud of them for going to the gym, so why tell me? Because I really need to go to the gym, right? But everyone needs to be active to be healthy, not just people who are overweight. When people praise me for working out, they think they are encouraging me to continue a healthy lifestyle by recognizing my efforts, but I’m not doing this for them or for their recognition. I’m doing this for me and my future. I don’t need or want their praise, especially if they are treating me differently than others (i.e. thinner people) who are behaving the same way. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for their concern or affection; I just don’t enjoy receiving that kind of attention.

How you spend your day is how you spend your life.

This theme was inspired by me watching the last Hobbit film this week, which wasn’t completely disappointing. After watching the movie, I remembered how obsessed I was with Lord of the Rings when I was in middle and high school. I devoted so much of my time and energy reading and learning about everything that had to do with LOTR and Tolkien’s universe. For what reason? Having an encyclopedic knowledge of LOTR made me happy. It was all I talked about and all I watched; it brought me into a community, it entertained, inspired, and motivated me. But in the end, this obsession didn’t really do me any good besides encourage a love of reading. Now I can’t help but think, what if I devoted the same amount of time and energy to something more worthwhile? Not my career or education, but Jesus Christ? What if I had an encyclopedic knowledge of Him? what He said and did? What if I made Him my inspiration and motivation? joined a community just as obsessed with Him as I was? How would my life be different? It wouldn’t just make me happy, it would give me real joy. It’s not quite as easy as all that. I need to work through my misgivings concerning the church and my own stubborn resistance to Him that we all share. But, reading and learning are things that I enjoy doing, and it’s not so much that I don’t find Jesus interesting as I’ve been desensitized by a lifetime of hearing the same standardized sermons over and over. So that’s where I’ll start, reading.

I need a new job.

On a much more practical level, I’ve been thinking and rethinking my situation and decided to seriously look for a better job. Earning minimum wage is terrible; earning minimum wage in a retail position is not worth it. I had a bad experience last week when I was sick and needed to call out. But even before last week, I applied to a handful of temp agencies in Raleigh. So far, I have not heard anything from them. I’ve also applied and have an interview for an AmeriCorps VISTA position at Fayetteville State University. To be honest, it’s not paying much more than what I’m making now, but it is in my career field and would help me develop my professional skills. There are two things that prevent me from being super excited about this job. 1) It’s an hour away from Raleigh so a lot of time and money would be spent commuting. 2) It requires a one year commitment that I may or may not be able to complete. The job runs from Feb 2015 to Feb 2016, but I’m planning to start grad school in the fall of 2015. I would be willing to defer enrollment for a semester (which would take me to Jan 2016), but an entire year? That’s a long time. Since nothing is set in stone for grad school, I’m going to the interview next week, but I don’t know what to do! My gut feeling, and my Mom, tells me to let this job go and attend grad school this fall, but what if I give it up and don’t get in? At the same time, I can’t stand the thought of working at Starbucks for another eight months before grad school.

I know things will work themselves out. In the meantime, I’ll just bake some cookies.

Merry Christmas!

Beck

My Nerd is Showing

I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but I’m a HUGE Lord of the Rings and Tolkien nerd. I’m too big of a Lord of the Rings/Tolkien fan to not write about The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, even if it’s a bit late. I saw the premiere and…I didn’t like it very much. Sad, I know. Here’s my beef with PJ’s adaption of the story.

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The scene at the beginning of the film with Gandalf and Thorin was unnecessary as it did not tell us anything we didn’t know before except how all this started, which hardly matters in my opinion.*

Oh my Tolkien-gods. Azog and his orcs are one of the most annoying things about this movie. Their sole purpose is to move the company from one place to another as quickly as possible. They basically replace the ring wraiths from FOTR. KMN.

I did like Beorn and I wish we could have seen more of him. I liked the way Gandalf had the dwarves meet Beorn in the book better (two at a time, every five minutes) because it showed us how careful and smart Gandalf was. Oh well. I understand that the movie can’t be the book, but that doesn’t keep me from being disappointed.

Mirkwood was really cool. I like the way the dwarves get disoriented and loose the path. It was cool how it happened in the book too though with them following the lights of the elves, etc. I kind of missed the sleeping river bit with Bombur. I think that could have been really funny to see on screen.

I like that Bilbo could understand the spiders when he put his ring on. This was done really well. The only thing I sort of have a problem with is when Bilbo lost the ring and kills a baby spider to get it back. Although it was interesting to see this part of him and I think it was done well, I feel that his relationship with the ring is developing too fast. In the book, the ring is used when needed but Bilbo doesn’t feel such strong attachment to it, not to the point when he would kill for it. He’s already killing for it and he’s only had it for a few weeks at most. It takes Frodo at least a few months before he gets to that point in LOTR.

Wood elves provide a lot of opportunity for spiffy action fighting sequences. I’m not opposed to this. The scene between Thorin and Thranduil is also interesting, although I’m wondering what the deal was with Thranduil’s face. I hope that is explained more in the third film. What can I say about the barrels out of bond escape sequence? It was different from the book, obviously, and I can’t say I liked it more. The orcs are as relentless as they are pointless. I’m so tired of them showing up everywhere.  Also, there is another video game scene with Bombur knocking over orcs in his barrel. It was funny but, SMH, PJ.

The whole Legolas-Taurial-Kili love triangle is a cheap way to bring romance into the films and is completely unnecessary. This plot element is what made my initial reaction to the film a bad one. (Also, eww to Evangeline Lily’s acting.) If I wanted a love story, I wouldn’t watch an LOTR film. First of all, Tauriel and Kili “fall in love” after two scenes together, which is very unrealistic to me because dwarves and elves HATE each other. Legolas doesn’t need a new reason (i.e. Tauriel and Kili together) to hate dwarves, he already does. Second, making a dwarf-elf pair undermines the significance of the Legolas and Gimli friendship in LOTR. Legolas and Gimili are the two that are supposed to bring the races together and give hope for reconciliation. Third, I’m not opposed to Legolas having a love interest, but it is a bit pointless considering we all know he sails to the Undying Lands with Gimli after the war of the ring. Overall, anytime there is anything remotely romantic happening in the film, I have to fight the urge to vomit and/or slit my wrists.

I like Bard. (He looks exactly like Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean!) His family is super annoying though, especially his daughters, who are only good for screaming. If you’re going to add this many new unnecessary characters, at least make me care about them. The family may as well be made of cardboard. Also, why is Esgaroth and everyone in it so dirty/poor? Is there no sanitation department? I couldn’t live there with that mess. Speaking of Esgaroth, it didn’t quite feel like Middle Earth. It felt very much like a part of our world, just from an earlier period. Perhaps this was on purpose, but it was distracting. I didn’t like Lake Town very much. I was expecting it to feel more Bree-like because it’s mostly a human dwelling. Did anyone else notice that Alfrid, the Master’s henchman, is basically Wormtongue?

Did anyone catch the two black people strategically placed in the background of Lake Town?!?  I guess PJ and co. got tired of hearing the criticism about not hiring minorities in LOTR. Haha

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The scene of Gandalf in Dol Guldur and the subsequent fight between Gandalf and the Necromance/Sauron was one of the most amazing scenes in the film. Gandalf was in full cool wizard mode and Sauron was super scary. Even though the Tolkien purist in me was screaming in frustration, I really like this addition to the story. (It kills me to admit it.) How is Gandalf going to get out of prison? I’m excited to find out.

Am I the only one who thinks the dwarves give up WAY too easily after they apparently fail to find the key hole? They came all that way, spent five hours of film getting there, and are ready to give up and go home after two minutes of searching? That’s unrealistic to me. Of course, it gives Bilbo a great opportunity to show his quality. By the way, I think he does steal the Arkenstone, although the movie doesn’t make that point clear. It’s necessary for the third film, although who knows what PJ is doing to the rest of the original story line.

I absolutely love Smaug. He was beautiful and Benedict Cumberbatch does an excellent job. I also think Martin Freeman did a fantastic job, although I wish Bilbo had waited longer before taking off his ring. He seemed a bit too frightened. The Bilbo in the book was wittier and more confident I think. Smaug also was extremely perceptive when it came to the one ring and guessing that a “darkness” was coming, etc. How would he know about that if he had been sleeping for so long?

Although I appreciate that the dwarves tried to fight/trap Smaug, there was no way using molten gold was going to work. Gold is too soft a metal to really trap him and dragons are impervious to fire, so the temperature wasn’t going to do anything either. It looked cool, but that’s about it. One of the numerous pointless things PJ added to the film/story.

I liked the movie more the second time, but I’m not ready to say it was awesome. I never thought I would be neutral about a LOTR film, but so it is. Overall, I think it borrows way too many plot elements/lines from LOTR. (“We’re part of this world.”) I really can’t wait for the fan cut where they take all the Taurial mess out.

Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” is a great song. I love it.

*All of this is my opinion and hardly matters, so don’t get up in arms about what I have to say. This is my blog!