Weekend Coffee Share 2/18/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be lounging in the sunshine with our drinks of choice.  I’d be in a light flannel and we’d be watching the crusty piles of snow turn slowly to puddles.  We’re in a remarkably warm stretch of weather–unusual for Minnesota this time of year.

Good weather like this reminds me of a scene in the film Lars and the Real Girl.  After going bowling, Lars and Margo linger outside chatting about the weather like good Midwesterners.  Lars comments that it’s been warm lately and spring is on the way.  Margo replies, “It’s just a thaw.  Spring doesn’t come until Easter.”

So, while the sunshine and warmth is amazing, I’m not getting my hopes up.  It’s just a thaw.  We’ll probably have a new foot of snow by next week. Continue reading

When You Write Young (Writing 101, Day 17)

Today’s Writing 101 assignment involves digging into your drafts and work with something uncompleted.  My burst of inspiration brought me to the stack of old journals in my closet.  Paging through the woes of my high school self, I couldn’t help but think of a post I had written several months ago.  In Writing 101, we’ve been doing a great deal of writing (go figure!), which has me thinking a lot about what it means to be a writer.  I think that this post lines up well with what I’ve been learning as a writer and blogger.  Since I’m short on time today (I’ll be posting about why later this week), I thought I’d share that post.

Here we go…

It’s amazing to look back and see how you grow as a writer.  But more on that later.  First, a story.

One of the traditions of my high school’s marching band was giving personalized gifts to the graduating seniors at the end of the year indoor concert.  After my final season, one of my good friends bestowed upon me a notebook covered in cats.  He offered the following explanation: “We’re giving you a journal because some things don’t belong on the internet.”

Recently, I hung out with my old high school buddies.  Sitting around a bonfire reminiscing about times that we really don’t miss, the marching band senior gifts came up.  I had completely forgotten the incident.  It was one of my fellow graduates who remembered my gift and the above explanation.  How he recalled such a specific quote, I have no idea.  But I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

When you start blogging at the age of fifteen, you make some blunders.  And, often times, those blunders affect people.  Enthralled at the freedom of calling a corner of the internet my own, I was not always wise with what I shared on my blog.  (Mind you, those were back in the Blogger days.)  Although I always tried to be careful not to give names–anonymity is really important when publishing personal information–keeping my drama off the internet sometimes didn’t happen.  What’s worse… keeping that drama away from the eyes of my friends was an impossibility.

Often times, I’d turn to my blog to express myself in times of conflict with friends.  I’d vent a bit, then go on with my life.  But then my friends would find out and that’s when things got messy.

At the time, I didn’t think much of my senior gift.  In fact, I thought so little of it that I didn’t even remember it happening.  But it’s amazing what hindsight can do.  I now see that there was a bit of a barb to the gesture–that my friend was being funny, but also critical.  He didn’t like what I had to say in such a public arena and used the situation as an opportunity to get me to express myself in a more healthy, private place.  (The sad thing is, I didn’t take the hint.)

As much as I hate to admit it, that friend was right.  Four years later, I agree with his statement wholeheartedly.  Some things DON’T belong on the internet.  Self-expression is a wonderful thing, but what one sees as nothing but blowing-off-steam soon blows out of proportion.  What is meant as a personal rant suddenly becomes incredibly public.  There’s a line and, if you’re not careful, you’ll slip across without even noticing.

I’ve grown a great deal as a blogger over the years.  I wish I can say I skipped the rough patches, that all was smooth sailing, and that I never crossed the line (excuse me for all the cliches)… but that’s all a lie.  When you write young, you make mistakes.  Looking back, I regret the hurt I caused my friends.  But what’s done is done.  Anything I do now can’t change what is cemented in the past.

The only thing you can do is grow from your mistakes, watch your words and best of all, learn to love your journal just as much as you love your blog.  And never, ever, stop writing.

photo-1429051781835-9f2c0a9df6e4

This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.  Find my original post here.

When you write young

It’s amazing to look back and see how you grow as a writer.  But more on that later.  First, a story.

One of the traditions of my high school’s marching band was giving personalized gifts to the graduating seniors at the end of the year indoor concert.  After my final season, one of my good friends bestowed upon me a notebook covered in cats.  He offered the following explanation: “We’re giving you a journal because some things don’t belong on the internet.”

Recently, I hung out with my old high school buddies.  Sitting around a bonfire reminiscing about times that we really don’t miss, the marching band senior gifts came up.  I had completely forgotten the incident.  It was one of my fellow graduates who remembered my gift and the above explanation.  How he recalled such a specific quote, I have no idea.  But I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

When you start blogging at the age of fifteen, you make some blunders.  And, often times, those blunders affect people.  Enthralled at the freedom of calling a corner of the internet my own, I was not always wise with what I shared on my blog.  (Mind you, those were back in the Blogger days.)  Although I always tried to be careful not to give names–anonymity is really important when publishing personal information–keeping my drama off the internet sometimes didn’t happen.  What’s worse… keeping that drama away from the eyes of my friends was an impossibility.

Often times, I’d turn to my blog to express myself in times of conflict with friends.  I’d vent a bit, then go on with my life.  But then my friends would find out and that’s when things got messy.

At the time, I didn’t think much of my senior gift.  In fact, I thought so little of it that I didn’t even remember it happening.  But it’s amazing what hindsight can do.  I now see that there was a bit of a barb to the gesture–that my friend was being funny, but also critical.  He didn’t like what I had to say in such a public arena and used the situation as an opportunity to get me to express myself in a more healthy, private place.  (The sad thing is, I didn’t take the hint.)

As much as I hate to admit it, that friend was right.  Four years later, I agree with his statement wholeheartedly.  Some things DON’T belong on the internet.  Self-expression is a wonderful thing, but what one sees as nothing but blowing-off-steam soon blows out of proportion.  What is meant as a personal rant suddenly becomes incredibly public.  There’s a line and, if you’re not careful, you’ll slip across without even noticing.

I’ve grown a great deal as a blogger over the years.  I wish I can say I skipped the rough patches, that all was smooth sailing, and that I never crossed the line (excuse me for all the cliches)… but that’s all a lie.  When you write young, you make mistakes.  Looking back, I regret the hurt I caused my friends.  But what’s done is done.  Anything I do now can’t change what is cemented in the past.

The only thing you can do is grow from your mistakes, watch your words and best of all, learn to love your journal just as much as you love your blog.  And never, ever, stop writing.

TBT: Words from my eighteen-year-old self

This afternoon, I spent some time looking through my very first blog.  (Yes, it still exists.  No, I will not provide a link.)  Most of the time, when I think about that blog, I shake my head in shame at fifteen year old Amelia and ask, “Why did you think that was okay to post on the Internet?”  As I perused all the old posts, however, I found one that stood out.

Four years ago, I was a high school senior.  All I knew about the future was that I was going to Morris in the fall to major in English.  The rest was a mystery.

Here are some words by my eighteen year old self.  Mind you, it’s not a very organized post.  I go off on random tangents.  What can I say?  I was eighteen and hadn’t studied how to write well.  High school writing classes are a joke.

But I think, overall, I hit the nail on the head regarding what it feels like to be on the verge of moving on.  Life moves quickly.  If you don’t take time to capture the little things, you will forget about them.  A lot of what I say continues to resonate.  Because the little things matter and, in no time at all, they will be gone.

Anyways, just read it.  I liked it.  Maybe you will too.

It’s approximately 10:54 P.M. and I just finished watching the movie Morning Glory with my family.

My response:
OH MY GOODNESS.  THE GUY WHO PLAYS RAOUL IN PHANTOM OF THE OPERA IS IN IT.  AND HE HAS SHORT HAIR AND ISN’T UGLY.

Shocker, I know.

Anyways.  I feel like I haven’t offered anything deep and insightful to the world lately.  Every day is just the same old routine.  Get up when the alarm goes off, pedal through another day of classes, and then spend my afternoon and evening twiddling away on the computer and consuming books.  I haven’t written any poetry in ages.  I haven’t hung out with my best friends outside of school since prom.  I can’t even find something better to do than hang out with my family on a Friday night.
I’m not saying that spending time with family isn’t a good thing… it definitely is.  I just feel like I should be savoring my last few weeks of high school, you know?  I should be out raiding WalMart or star tipping.  I should be laughing so hard I’m almost crying.  I should be sitting around a bonfire reminiscing about good times and making vague plans for the future.

But, you know what?  I’m not.

Right now, it’s 10:59 P.M. on Friday, May 13.
I’m sitting on my bed, typing on my mom’s crappy old laptop, thinking about Rachel McAdams and the guy who plays Raoul.  I’m thinking about the purple dress my mom bought me for graduation.  I’m thinking about Le Morte d’Arthur and all the ways Sir Thomas Malory describes knights valiantly slaughtering each other.  I’m thinking about Morris and I’m thinking about what life will be like on my own.  I’m thinking about getting my third perfect score on a College Sociology test in a row.  I’m thinking about the picture of babies in egg cartons I found in a magazine.  I’m thinking about how, yesterday, I was sitting on my phone, and it suddenly goes, “It’s a fez.  I wear a fez now.  Fezzes are cool”, and I was surprised because I forgot that I changed my texting ring tone to this.
I’m thinking all these things and wondering why I don’t just stop my fingers from typing.  I’m wondering why I’m still going on and on and on about things nobody probably cares about.  And if nobody cares… then I’m wondering why I’m still blabbing.

I guess I think of this blog as my life story.  Every month is another chapter.  Every post is another page.  Maybe I keep writing about all the random crap going on because… one day… I’m not going to remember tonight.  I’m not going to remember watching Morning Glory or those three perfect Sociology tests or hearing the Eleventh Doctor’s voice coming from under my butt as I read Le Morte d’Arthur.  Tonight will fade away and blabbing on is the only way I can keep it from getting lost.

It’s like dreams.  When you first wake up,  they’re clear and fresh in your brain.  As the day goes on, reality takes over and the edges become blurred and fuzzy.  You try to tell someone about your dream and find yourself saying, “I remember it was exciting and crazy and didn’t make any sense… but I just can’t figure out what it was.”  The only way to make sure the dream lives past ten o’clock in the morning is by writing it down the second you wake up.

The same can be said for memories.  One day, even a year from now, what is real today isn’t going to be a reality anymore.  In a year, I won’t be a high school senior with only a few short weeks left.  I won’t be living with my parents.  I won’t be sleeping in the bed I’ve always slept in.  I won’t even have this crappy laptop to write on.  These days, these meaningless days where all I do is wake up when the alarm goes off, pedal through classes, and twiddle away time on the Internet will be nothing more than a memory.  They’ll be a reality that has come and gone.

Don’t you get it?  I need to write about my life.  I need to write about seemingly meaningless days.  I need to write about parties and friends and ordinary experiences.  If I don’t, I’ll move on to the next reality and forget.  I’ll wake up and, by ten o’clock, my senior year will be nothing but a fuzzy blur in the land of days gone by.

It’s now 11:18 P.M.  I’m sitting here, typing away on my mom’s old, crappy laptop, covered in the soft, fuzzy blanket my aunt and uncle gave me for Christmas, and thinking about dresses and movies and King Arthur.

Welcome to my life

Cleaning out the closet

It’s my first full day at home, and in light of the fact that I will be immobile due to wisdom teeth surgery tomorrow, I’m trying to get things cleaned.

Since returning from studying abroad a year ago, I haven’t been home for more than a week at a time.  Due to this, my bedroom has become a dumping ground, a corner to shove things in as I transition from place to place in life.  After a year, it’s gotten pretty out of hand.

The thing about cleaning out your closet is that I’m not only discovering things I didn’t know I had, but am relearning things about myself that you had forgotten.  Rifling through the pages of middle school notes, sketchbooks, and attempts at poetry make me feel like I am meeting the younger version of myself.  I’m finding things I used to be passionate about.  I discovered a couple passive aggressive letters my best friend wrote me in high school where she apologetically tells me everything she hates about me.  Reading through her words, I think about how much I have changed and wonder if, deep down, I’ve really changed at all.

Confronting my past is actually very useful because my main goal over break is to figure out what the future holds.

Sentimentality aside, it will be great to actually be able to use my closet, desk, and dresser again.  It’s a long process.  The main portion of my room is currently dirtier than it was when I began.  I’m covered in dust from pulling things from corners and shelves that haven’t been touched in years.  But progress is being made!  I dragged my younger brother with me to WalMart earlier this afternoon to buy organizers and I’ve put together three bags of old clothes to donate.

It sure will be great to have a clean room again!

When was the last time you cleaned out your closet?  Did you find anything surprising?

The Future and why I’m not planning for it

“I’m just so stressed out!  I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life!”

This was said to me a couple of months ago by a high school friend.  I merely gaped at her.  “You’re sixteen,” I thought, “you don’t have to know it all now.”

There’s this idea in our culture that we have to have our entire lives planned out at the age of eighteen.  We need to know where we are going to college, what we will study, and what we will do after graduating.  Then we go to college, change our minds over and over again, graduate, and our careers have nothing to do with what we study.

With holidays coming up, I’m bracing myself for inevitable: “So, you’re a senior in college… what are you going to do next?”

My answer: I don’t know.

I’m twenty-two years old and I do not know what I’m going to do with my life.  And, frankly, I am okay with that.

When I graduate, I fully expect to move home and work until I have the next steps figured out.  A lot of people are ashamed of moving back in with their parents.  I am okay with that.

Ideally, I want to go into ministry.  I want to spend my life doing something worthwhile, building the Kingdom, and serving people.  I’m interested in working within the missions sphere.  I’m not planning on being a missionary, but if that is something that happens, I’m open to the possibility.

I don’t know what steps I’m going to take along the road.  I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now.

But that’s okay.  I’m young.  I’m single.  I can go out into the world and do whatever I want.  (Assuming I get paid enough to pay off my student loans, that is.)

The thing is that people change.  I came to college to study what I’m passionate about, and I have had a blast.  But five years from now, my passions will be different.  Ten years from now, they’ll change even more.

I’m not worried about the future.  Maybe I should be, but I’m not.  I know vaguely where I want to go and, for now, that is more than enough.  The idea that I need to plan all the details of my life right now is ridiculous.  Who knows what will happen?  What’s the point of figuring it all out when it will probably change?

Life is about adventure.  I want to soak in as much as I can.  So I’m going to muddle through the now and embrace whatever comes next.

On my bookshelf

When I’m not running around doing campus ministry or diagramming sentences for Grammar & Language or working the circulation desk at the library, you can usually find me with a book.  (Actually, now that I think about it, I have a book in all three of those situations… but I digress).  I’m taking less credits than usual this semester, which means I have slightly more free time.  So, in true English major fashion, I’ve been filling my time with books!

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately.

1. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

This is Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel, a widely acclaimed work based on the actual murder, in 1831, of a progressive mill owner. It follows Mary Barton, daughter of a man implicated in the murder, through her adolescence, when she suffers the advances of the mill owner, and later through love and marriage. Set in Manchester, between 1837-42, it paints a powerful and moving picture of working-class life in Victorian England.

(Description from Goodreads)

The perks of being in a Victorian literature class is that I’m assigned books I’d read for fun.  I just finished Mary Barton this afternoon (a week earlier than the syllabus called for) and loved it!  Gaskell vividly describes life for the lower classes of Manchester, makes a complicated argument for the solution of class disatisfaction.  About halfway through the novel, Gaskell changes pace and I found myself unable to put the book down, wanting to know what happens to all the characters.  I found the end a bit unsatisfying, but am willing to forgive Gaskell for that.

2. The Selection series by Kiera Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself–and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

(Description from Goodreads)

I downloaded the first book for cheap on my Kindle for reading material at the gym and then proceeded to read the entire series in a week.  The trilogy definitely has weaknesses–it feels like a cheap knock-off of The Hunger Games, characters are pretty two-dimensional, and it’s not that well written.  Despite these things, though, I adored the trilogy.  It’s like The Hunger Games meets reality t.v. meets fairy tales.  They’re not perfect, but make for excellent brain candy.  And, oh my goodness, the covers are SO PRETTY.

2. Enchantress by James Maxwell

Ella and her brother, Miro, are orphans, their parents killed long ago in the ongoing struggle against the mad Emperor.

From the day Ella witnesses an enchanter using his talents to save Miro from drowning, she knows what she wants to be. But the elite Academy of Enchanters expects tuition fees and knowledge. Determined, Ella sells flowers and studies every book she can. Meanwhile, Miro dreams of becoming one of the world’s finest swordsmen, wielding his nation’s powerful enchanted weapons in defense of his homeland.

A dark force rises in the east, conquering all in its path, and Miro leaves for the front. When the void Miro left is filled by Killian, a charming stranger from another land, Ella finds herself in love. But Killian has a secret, and Ella’s actions will determine the fate of her brother, her homeland, and the world.

(Description from Goodreads)

I haven’t finished this one yet.  It’s my current gym salve.  (By that, I mean it takes my mind off the pain of the gym and gives me something to do.)  Book one of a trilogy, the only reason I happened upon this one was because it was a featured daily deal on the Kindle store.  It’s not particularly well written, not very original, and the characters feel really flat.  But Maxwell creates a very compelling world that I want to know more about.  I’ve avoided reading Goodreads comments on this one, not wanting to spoil my enjoyment.  Because, so far, it’s definitely been an enjoyable read!

4. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

(Description from Goodreads)

This was my brain candy this past weekend.  I downloaded a copy on my Kindle from the local library.  Again, it’s your typical coming-of-age YA novel, but enjoyable.  Schneider’s writing reminds me of John Green and Rainbow Rowell.  It was a fast, fun read.

~~~

Have you read any good books lately?  What were they?  Do you have any recommendations?

 

Influential albums I

Trending on Facebook recently have been lists of things that influenced you.  The premise is simple.  You make up a list of books, movies, songs, etc. that have impacted your life, tag a few friends, and there you go.  I’ve been nominated for a couple of these things and, instead of bogging down my Facebook feed, thought I’d make some blog posts out of it!

My friend Kassandra nominated me to share some albums that have influenced me.  So, without further ado, here are the first five!  (In no particular order.)

1. Flogging Molly, Drunken Lullabies (2002)

After I escaped from my country music phase in middle school, this was one of the first albums I got hooked on.  In many ways, it was the introduction to much of the folksy music I listen to now.  I fell in love with Flogging Molly in eighth grade, under the influence of my older brother, and it’s a love that has sustained me through the years.  Choosing a track to feature was incredibly difficult, but I ended up going with “If I Ever Leave this World Alive”, as it’s one of my favorite songs of all time.

2. Classic Disney Vol I & II

In second grade, I purchased this sketchy yellow portable cassette player from a girl at the annual TF Elementary rummage sale.  This enabled me to listen to my Disney tapes anywhere and everywhere I wanted.  And, oh goodness, those songs became imprinted on my childhood.

3. Ministry of Magic, Goodbye Privet Drive (2008)

I will admit, this was a weirder phase of my music listening career.  In high school, I developed a taste for “Wizard Rock”–an underground movement of indie bands themed around (what else?) Harry Potter.  I’ve got hundreds of Potter inspired songs on my iPod to this day.  At the time, I thought they were fantastic.  Looking back, I can see how musically sub par and poorly written most of the songs are.  But, hey, they sure are fun!  Here’s their song “Sonorous Love”.  (Please ignore the poorly made fan video.)

4. Relient K, Mmhmm (2004)

Like Flogging Molly, Relient K was one of the first bands I ever fell in love with.  My older brother (once again) brought them into my life after coming home from camp one year.  He couldn’t stop singing “Sadie Hawkins Dance”, and soon, neither could I.  Relient K was one of my staples in high school, and Mmhmm saw me through all my teenage drama.

5. Top Gun Soundtrack (1999)

Okay, so this one is a bit strange.  I’ve never actually seen the movie Top Gun.  But back in the 1990’s my mom would play this on repeat in the car.  We’d get to the end of the cassette tape, rewind it (’cause that’s what you had to do back in the day) and listen through it again.  So, even though I’ve never seen the actual film, I know the soundtrack by heart.

Stay tuned for the other half of my list!

Friday Favorites III

My computer monitor informs me that I have twenty one minutes till midnight… so time for a last-minute Friday Favorites!

This food:

That’s right… almonds.  This one is a bit weird for me.  I’ve never liked eating nuts.  Never.  But one of my coworkers at camp shared a bunch and, after giving them a shot, I discovered that they are, in fact, delicious.  My dad will be so proud.

This book:

 

 

I ordered this book on Amazon AGES ago and have been longing for its release ever since.  When I returned home from camp today, I was overjoyed to find my newly released copy sitting on my bed.  I don’t even have words for how excited this book makes me.  I mean, it’s two of my favorite things combined!  Tolkien and Arthurian legend!  How much more epic can you get?  Yes, the poem itself is unfinished (can you blame the man for wanting to finish writing The Hobbit?).  Yes, most of the book is made up of essays.  But it’s Tolkien.  And it’s Arthurian legend.  And it’s going to be beautiful.

Graduation

This evening, I got to see my little brother graduate  high school.  He’s a great kid, and I’m excited to see where life brings him next!  It was strange being in that building again–I haven’t stepped foot inside in around three years.  After the ceremony, I got to see several friends that I haven’t seen or spoken to in several years (some since my own graduation, actually).  I also saw a few former classmates that made me want to run and hide.  Nevertheless, I’ve always been one for nostalgia, so when the opening bars of “Pomp and Circumstance” began, I momentarily forgot about how uncomfortable it was to be packed in the high school gym like sardines.  Part of my heart stirred, longing for times gone by–of lockers, band class, and hanging out with friends between bells.  And then some students behind me talked the entire ceremony, reminding me exactly why I was so happy to leave high school behind.  After everything was over

This place:

This is the St. Croix River at the Osceola boat landing, about five minutes from my house.  This photo was taken a few years ago, but my best friend and I have a tradition of coming here in the summer.  After graduation, we went to Dairy Queen and brought our ice cream to the park on the island in the middle of the beautiful river.  The sun had already set, and as we sat at the point watching the water flow away from us, we talked about life, school, God, and all sorts of best friend topics.  It’s been a few months since we’ve seen each other, and due to the fact that I’m at camp and Erin is headed for Africa next week, our paths won’t cross much this summer.  Talking to her was wonderful, and even though it was dark, the St. Croix was as beautiful as ever.

This song:

Just before the semester ended, Cloud Cult came to my university.  Even though it was cold and a bit wet, I curled up under a blanket with one of my roommates eating day old movie theater popcorn as they played a two hour acoustic set on the mall in the center of campus.  Ever since, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with their new acoustic album.  I listened to this song at least three consequtive times on my drive from camp to home this afternoon.

23 insights into judging speech

Speech kids, listen up.

I was on the Speech team all four years of high school.  Now that I’m graduated and well into my college years, part of me has held onto my Speech kid background.  How?  I moved from a competitor to a judge.  Instead of being the person talking to walls, I’m the lady with the folder that everyone fears.  When I enter the room, the chatter immediately hushes and the air brims with awkwardness.  As I scribble on critique sheets, I can almost hear the speaker’s thoughts: “Oh gosh, she’s writing.  Why is she writing?  She hates it.  She’s going to give me a terrible score.  Oh gosh.  Why did I think this was a good idea?”

Frankly, I love judging.  It’s all the perks of high school speech with more down time, no stress, and (best of all) FREE HOMEMADE FOOD.  Not to mention the fact that I get paid to do what I love.

Speech judges don a particular mindset when walking into rounds.  Consider this a glimpse of that mindset: a sneak-peek into what’s going on in our minds as we scribble away on your critique sheets.  Keep what I say in mind next time you’re at a speech meet–you never know when it could help!

So… here we go.

  1. Judges want to like you.
  2. Negative critiques do not mean your speech was bad!  It just means there’s room for improvement.
  3. We want you to improve!  We want to see you push your performance to be the very possible best!
  4. First impressions are everything.  Within the first minute of your speech, we pretty much already have you placed.  So make a good first impression.
  5. Speak with energy!  Be bold and confident–if you look like you are excited about what you are speaking about, we will be too!
  6. Don’t hold your script in front of your face.
  7. If you’re in a performance category, utilize characters.  Please.
  8. In addition to the above, make your characters as over-the-top as you can.  There’s nothing worse than flat characters.  Make them dynamic!  Even if it’s uncomfortable and you look ridiculous, GO BIG!
  9. If you’re in Prose, stop being in Prose.
  10. If you really have your heart set on being in Prose, please pick something innovative.  If I have to sit through another selection from The Lovely Bones or A Child Called It, I’m going to punch someone in the face.  (Okay, I’m  hyperbolizing a bit.  But still.  Do something original.)
  11. Also, Prose kids–that weird calm, soothing tone you all adapt during narrative portions of your speech?  Don’t do it.  You all sound exactly the same and it makes it hard to tell you all apart.
  12. Negative critiques do not mean we hate you.  They mean that we want you to improve!  We are trying to be helpful!
  13. If you’re in Great Speeches, PLEASE use a rhetorical method more original than Aristotle’s stylistic proofs.  I’m sick of hearing about ethos, pathos, and logos.
  14. Other cool rhetorical methods include Bitzer’s Rhetorical Situation, Metaphorical, Feminist, etc.  Do your research.  There’s so many cool ones to choose from!  (And no, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is NOT a rhetorical model.  So don’t use it.)
  15. Also, while on the subject of rhetorical models… please use them correctly!
  16. If you’re in Info, don’t do your speech on a disease.  It’s so boring.  And, please, don’t explain at the end that a family member suffers from said disease.  Yes, this sounds awful.  But it doesn’t further the informativeness of your speech and just makes it cheesy.
  17. If you’re going to pick a stupid, unoriginal topic in Info, be creative about it.  I once saw a girl do a speech on flowers and she talked about how they were used in ancient cultures and it was super interesting!
  18. Poetry kids–for goodness sake, pick something good.  None of this sappy contemporary nonsense.  Let’s see some Tennyson!  Bring out the Whitman!
  19. If you’re in Creative, make sure your script is well written AND well-performed.  You can do an amazing performance, but if the script sucks, you’re screwed.  And vice versa–if your script is amazing, but you can’t pull it off, you’re not going to do well.  Balance is key.
  20. Please, please, please DO NOT TALK BETWEEN SPEECHES.  Or eat.  Or text.  Or make weird noises.  Or do anything that isn’t sitting quietly and patiently.  Between speeches, we judges are trying to gather our thoughts and give last-minute comments.  Don’t be distracting.  It’s really annoying.
  21. Don’t sass the judge–especially when their back is turned.  Contrary to what you may think, we CAN hear you and we hold the power.  We can (and might) dock your score for rudeness.
  22. If we rip your piece to shreds on your critique sheet, it’s only because we care about you and want to push you to be the very best!
  23. Speech is fun.  SO HAVE FUN!

Also, if you think awards ceremonies are boring now… wait until you become a judge.  They’re ten times worse.