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Railfanning

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I first discovered this word a year ago, but I have actually been doing it all my life. It is kind of like when I discovered the word shipper.

All my life whenever I am near railroad tracks I hope that a train will come along so that I can watch it go by. It seldom happens. Unless you work for the railroad, you don’t have anyway to know when a train will arrive. I love to listen to the cars as they thunder by, their couplings creaking with each variance in the track. I was fortunate enough to live near railroad tracks for half my life. But it was not a busy track.

This, my friends, is not a problem in Fostoria, Ohio. It is known as the Iron Triangle because so many trains (around 200 per day, I have been told) travel through the city. Fostoria has built a great rail park within the triangle where you can just sit and watch the trains go by. I was really impressed with the facility. There was a small roof for shade/rain protection, speakers that played the latest scanner communications, and a very well-kept bathroom. We must have seen about ten trains pass by in the few hours we were there.

Here is a new video I uploaded on my YouTube channel of a Norfolk Southern double-header passing by.

If steam engines (and possibly ones from the island of Sodor) are more your thing, watch this video of mine that already has over 2,900 views. And please like or subscribe or whatever it is people do over there on the ‘Tube. I am old. I can’t keep up with the young whippersnappers anymore.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

F*ck Field Day

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Thousands of kids across the country are currently, or have just finished, participating in a “Field Day” of games and displays of athletic prowess. Every school has a different name for it. You know of which I speak.

I feel so sorry for them.

Like the odd duck that I am, I always dreaded Field Day.

I was a kid who rarely talked to anyone if it wasn’t necessary, something I would realize three decades later was generalized anxiety disorder. Even back when I was a tiny third grader, I got up the nerve to try and talk my gym teacher out of making me participate in Field Day.

It didn’t work.

She assured me she would put me into something easy. The 50 yard dash, she said. I had no idea how long that was, but any distance I have to run is too long.

It was a chilly morning, so I wore my grey hooded sweatshirt. I ran as fast as I could. I came in fourth. That might not sound bad, but there were only four kids in the race. Total.

They gave me a ribbon to remember my shame. (It is still in my house somewhere. I think my young son ran off with it.)

I just talked to my mom on the phone, in 2017, and she was apparently there in the stands. (I don’t remember that, but I don’t remember a lot of things.) She remembers that there were other mothers sitting in front of her who watched my performance and felt bad that I was so far behind the other kids.

Great boost of confidence there, mother. I know I am forty-one years old now, but that doesn’t really help the old self-esteem any.

I guess this is where LOVE YOURSELF would come in handy.

If I remember right, I didn’t even know that the 50 yard dash was an event you ran. It could have been a long jump for all I knew. I probably had to wait for the other kids to start before I even knew where the finish line was. (It is a good story. I think I will stick to it.)

Someone took a picture of the racers standing behind big signs that showed where each of us placed. They took the picture from my end. The losing end.

They put that picture of me behind the giant four, with my sweatshirt hanging off one shoulder, my hair escaping my ponytail, and looking winded, in the glass display case in the main hallway at school the next year.

And the year after.

And so on.

I was a week from graduating high school, happened to be walking through the elementary building, and there I was, in that picture, STILL BEHIND THE DAMN FOUR!

I believe to this day they are probably still putting up the same picture of me from June 1985. Boy, I bet my clothes look really dated now.

I Googled “Field Day 1983” and half expected my picture to pop up. So far, it hasn’t.

Even more amazing, that is the ONLY YEAR I ever participated in Field Day. Maybe that is why they thought it was momentous enough to display year after year.

At my school, when I was there, only third, fourth, and fifth graders competed in Field Day. It was the 80s. All the kids drank Kool-Aid and Sunny Delight and watched copious amounts of television. There wasn’t a drive for everyone to exercise. Society was busy telling us to Say No to drugs.

I didn’t avoid Field Day in fourth grade on purpose. I had the pox. (Chicken, not small.) I missed the last two weeks of school. I had a grumpy teacher all that year who seemed very tired and done with teaching. What kind of reward did I get for putting up with her all year? I had to miss her retirement party 😦  Although cupcakes and treats were left inside my desk for when I returned. (Eesh, talk about unsafe food storage conditions!)

The next year I did avoid Field day on purpose. My mom took me to the lake. She is a good mom. I thought she was just being kind to her woefully unathletic daughter for all these years. (It is genetic, after all.) But now that she told me that story about the mothers in the stands, maybe SHE just didn’t want to have to feel bad for me again.

And if the goal for the day is exercise, then the school should be satisfied. I am sure I got way more exercise at the lake than I ever would have running a race for two minutes and feeling anxious the rest of the day.

Middle school had many, many (too many to mention) hells of its own, such as showering after gym class and dissecting frogs and all those pubescent hormones trapped inside a building with gray concrete walls and no windows all day, every day. But at least I got to leave the hell that was Field Day back at the elementary.

Remember, if you see me running fast, then either there is an escaped dog in front of me or a zombie behind me.

Dog chasing was once a regular hobby of mine. Not by choice, mind you.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

THANK YOU VETERANS!

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Those who know me know that Memorial Day is my favorite holiday. And now you know too!

To find out my reasons why, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2011/05/03/mothers-day-is-a-fake-holiday/

Thank you to all the brave men and women who have served their country in the military and continue to do so today. Thank you also to those who have passed on, whether it be on the battlefield or in their own kitchens.

From the bottom of my heart…THANK YOU.

Proudly displayed all year long.

Time Jesus: 12 Monkeys – Season 2

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I do realize that tonight season 3 of 12 Monkeys will premiere on Syfy. But, sad to say, I won’t be able to watch it because I don’t have cable.

This post is about season 2, which I was recently able to catch up on with Hulu. I pray that Season 3 will join its brother and sister, season 1 and season 2, over there very, very soon.

Here is my review of season 1, if you are behind further than I am: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2016/02/28/what-i-learned-this-week-22816/

Oh Baby. You can point your gun at me anytime.

I fully admit I was lost in the first season, even after watching all episodes twice. Season 2 seemed much easier for me to understand within the existing framework, while still being complex.

My overwhelming crush on Aaron Stanford, who plays James Cole, only grows with each episode. The first time we see him, he is walking out from behind a car among flames, his trusty gun raised. If there was ever a “proper” remake of The Terminator, Aaron is my number one pick for Kyle Reese, both he can be both vulnerable AND bad ass.

The first season I mostly watched for Cole & Cassie’s (Amanda Schull) chemistry. Season 2 I enjoyed although there was less of them on screen together. While living for an extended time in 2044, Cassie learned to kill to survive. While living in 1944, Cole had time to find out what alcohol he preferred and that maybe killing everyone who got in their way was not the answer to defeating the 12 Monkeys. (It helped that I had peaked at episode summaries beforehand and knew that Cole & Cassie would eventually be “together”, so that helped me to be more patient, knowing that my pay off I wanted so desperately was indeed coming.)

Cole & Cassie together

It was interesting how the interpersonal dynamics changed throughout the season. Cassie made several unlikely alliances. I was surprised how often Deacon, Jennifer, and someone important to Dr. Jones showed up in almost every episode.

I am glad that I read the spoiler ahead of time to find out the identity of the witness which is revealed in the season finale. It made the threats the team made to kill him all season seem more ironic.

Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) became an easy go-to for solving pretty much any problems that arose this season. In our future/their present of 2044, she is nearby and always a friend. She even becomes a time traveler as well. There was more comedy this season than I remembered previously, mostly due to her. Jennifer’s random quotes from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure are priceless. Although Deacon mocking Cole by calling him Time Jesus was also pretty humorous. (I am eagerly awaiting the photo I saw from Season 3 featuring Cole dressed as Marty McFly!!!)

Is that Marty McFly I see in the background?

At the end of every season I wonder how the writers will write themselves out of the corner they seemingly put themselves (and the characters) into. I would love to look at the white board in that writers’ room, with all the different timelines. Actually, I bet they have huge binders for each different “cycle.” That would be a crazy amount of information to be responsible for. But also, totally awesome.

I watched all of season 2 within 24 hours. Now I have a large TV hangover. My brain hurts from trying to follow the conspiracies and my heart hurts from all the feels (I hate that expression).

So what is one to do to cure it?

Go back and watch season 2 over again.

Unless someone wants to befriend me who has Syfy. Anyone? Hello…

Get  your peak at Season 3 here: http://www.syfy.com/12monkeys/videos/12-monkeys-season-3-trailer

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

Love Yourself

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“You are special. Accept that about yourself, and you will begin to understand there is true power in your uniqueness.”- from Marked by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

I am creating a page called Love Yourself. And right now, that is all that it is.

Except for buttons. I may have designed and commissioned the creation of buttons.

I was actually looking for a way to create a resource to stop bullying, any sort of technique or process that I thought could work. But, as I mentioned in a previous post, it is sadly kind of the natural order of things. Link to my previous post, Bullied.

I started to look around to see if there were any techniques to stop bullying. But after decades, the same worn advice seems to be what everyone is doling out: “Tell an adult.” “If you see something, say something.”

Oh wait, that second one is from Homeland Security.

And telling an adult won’t PREVENT it, which would be the total ultimate awesome solution to the pain of so many crying out in the night. (I have been there. I have written the bad poetry to prove it.)

But what if we could make it irrelevant? What if it didn’t matter what others said about you, because you had confidence in yourself, so that you could be the best person you could be?

Just imagine!

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
– Lucille Ball

That is kind of how I barnstormed (wait, brainstormed) into this whole “Love Yourself” idea. What if we stopped worrying so much about external factors* and instead worked on our insides? What if we stopped trying to paint our faces to look perfect on the outside when we are crying on the inside? What if we stopped using our credit card at Lowe’s to build the perfect house that we don’t even like, just to keep up appearances for the outside world?

What I’m getting at is that bad stuff will always happen, lots of it, in many different ways, shapes, and forms.

But we could be better prepared for all of it, bullying included, if our insides were healed first.

I have to think that there would be less war and more peace if people loved themselves more than their money or land or resources.

There would be less celebrities too. Why worship a Kim Kardashian or a Tom Brady when you can worship YOURSELF?

And you probably assume that money or fame will lead you to happiness. But rich, seemingly successful individuals commit suicide every single day. And it is heartbreaking.

There are a million ways what I am saying could be misinterpreted. But if you wake up in the morning and hate yourself, (you will know that feeling if you do) that is what needs to change.

“I think everybody’s weird. We should all celebrate our individuality and not be embarrassed or ashamed of it.”
– Johnny Depp

You might think of this as being cocky or vain, vain being one of the seven deadly sins (I Googled it). But if we are supposed to be made in God’s image, shouldn’t we be happy with the self we live in? Our body, inside and out, our spirit, our gifts?

I am talking very vaguely here. But that is because it could be referred to as many different things. “Love Yourself” means to know who you truly are and what makes you happy. Yes, sometimes we all have to go to a job we aren’t happy about. But if it truly makes you “I-can’t-sleep-at-night, I-can’t-eat, I-can’t-remember-happiness” sick, then that is you not listening to that special spot inside  of you.

Do you call it your heart?

Your common sense?

Your conscience?

Your spirit?

Your life force?

Your guts?

I don’t care what you call it. But you need to learn that it is there and how to listen to it. Some of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make in life are easier when you listen to it.

I know it is hard. I didn’t even realize how badly I needed this concept until I was like, 38 years old. But maybe if we started young, taught this to our children, it could become a movement.

I want anyone who wants pink hair TO HAVE IT.

I want anyone who wants a nose piercing TO HAVE IT.

I want EVERYONE to STOP WANTING and START BEING.

“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I know many people (myself included) who walk around with bad attitudes about absolutely everything because they are not being who they really need to be. There is a voice inside you that yearns to speak. There is a spirit in you that is trying to bust out.

Heck, I had this Love Yourself cause burning inside of me on Monday. What did I do? I chose to go to work. I should have stayed home. I think I could have gotten more out of expressing my thoughts while they were fresh than what little I can buy with my paycheck. But, I went the road of least resistance. WE ALL DO.

Am I saying we should all quit our jobs? Well, no. But we do need to be conscious of where our destinies are pointing us.

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
– Bob Moawad

Maybe it is just me that has trouble listening to my inner voice. Maybe other people get there by meditation or whatever.

But I have to retrain EVERY THOUGHT to be more positive, more loving, less judgmental—of myself AND others. It is a lot of work, but I think, in the end, it may be worth it. I hope maybe you will too.

The awesome Heather Hildenbrand gave a speech at Utopia Con 2016 called “The Audacity of Self-Love”. I wish it was on YouTube, or that I had taken better notes. But, well, I was too moved to jot down anything more than an outline. I was already pondering such ideas, and she just reinforced that.

Some of Heather’s statements: “Judgement is the consequence of trying to break out of the mold… Liking yourself is a rebellious act… Be audacious enough at loving yourself that other people see it.”

LOVE YOURSELF

Then in July 2016, I drew this. Out of thin air, for no reason. I was at a public chalk art event and I asked myself, “What message do I want to send to everyone around me?”

I don’t know what this may grow into, but I am excited to find out. More excited than I have been about anything since I decided to write a book. Or when I decided to publish said book. But to be honest, neither of those were really a decision, just as this wasn’t. I am listening to my gut. And it feels damn good.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Washington Thurman

If you keep sitting around waiting for someone else to understand you and support you, you could be waiting a very long time. It has to begin with you. Then it does not matter if anyone else jumps on board.

But, a great side effect of self love is that they will sense your confidence, and be more likely to.

I LOVE THIS. This is what I am trying to do, in one sentence.

I am weird. I am awkward. I don’t see the world as other people do. I try and use that to my advantage.

Everyone, at their core, WANTS to be normal. The blind man wants to be able to see. The physically disabled woman desires to walk. It is only when we let go of this unattainable goal of “normal” that we are then free to be who we were actually born to be.

And that is the best gift of all. You only get one life. Stop trying to live by others standards, only by your own.

* I know this is impossible to stop completely, but it should count toward less weight on the scale of importance in our lives.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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