“Welcome to Illyria!”

“Welcome, welcome, welcome, welcome…”

I’m a big fan of stories. I’m always consuming some kind of story, whether book or TV show, magical realism or Grimms-inspired sci-fi, anything I can react to, analyze, or write about.

Come watch me write about stories, even if you should be writing yourself. Especially if you should be writing yourself. Reading about writing isn’t writing, and reading other peoples’ writing isn’t writing, but it’s a lot of fun.


No, I’m not doing well

I came here

for art, for energy, for community, for people like me, done with

“accidental” pregnancies and tiny weddings and Trump rallies

and surely, maybe

I’d meet more men

in a city of 700,000.

Bursting with creativity

I came here.


Now I’m stuck

in this ugly gray

where walking down the sidewalk in a straight line

is an Olympic sport

and nobody

knows how to drive,

beating back screaming homeless

and rude Chinese ladies

and I didn’t ask for this.

I didn’t fucking ask for this.


I’m tired

of mixers, classes,

being proactive,

waiting on men

who remain passive

and I’m twenty-two again

waiting around

waiting still

and nothing

has changed.


Meanwhile, my church

pays lip service to loving singles,

all around me married people

making plans, making visits,

making time,

and sure-okay-I-guess-







in small talk-

“What do you do?

Did you just move?

How long have you

been coming here?”-

endless meeting

and greeting

conversations repeating








pick up the phone


suggest a spot


make the first move


the first move

and every



and they say

I’m welcome,

I’m always



in the gulf


“Can I come over?”


“Come on in.”



the life changes

that would make me



so far away

they seem



When I’m a model

member of my life


when I’ve


every Bible study

baby shower

class meeting,


the prodigal

is welcomed, paraded,

appearance lauded,

“We’re so glad you made it!”

when I’ve-

I’ve been here

the whole



“But you have God!”

feels more and more


like I haven’t trusted

like I haven’t tried

like I haven’t been praying,

like I can’t hear the truth

in what they’re saying:

I have God


no one else

wants me.

Lauren’s Top 10 Most Soothing Movies

All I want is a pint of Chubby Hubby and a soothing movie…

…and for my neighbor to stop blasting Canadian news into the corridor. I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, YOU RAP-BLASTING DOUCHE.

Happy New Year, I suppose.

A friend and I have been discussing “serious” vs. “fun” writing. Even for something like fanfiction, which is “fun,” I want to create a perfect jewel of character development and canon agreement that wins people over to my one true ship. Essentially, I suck the “fun” out of fanfiction before I even start.

I have a pile of “serious” blog posts in various states of completion and a backlog of poetry that I’m not sure is good, but what I want is to write a dumb one-off post about movies for no reason at all.

…okay, partly to distract from the Canadian onslaught.

Like with my favorite books, others wouldn’t find these movies soothing; many qualify as tragic with plots that should stress me out, but I love them all.

After waking up to Canadian news, surviving a bad work day, coming home to Canadian news, etc., I turn to these films.

  1. The Last Five Years
    I shouldn’t like this movie as much as I do (or so someone has informed me), seeing as I hate both Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. Also, the movie deals with the dissolution of their marriage, which isn’t calming movie fare.But I dig it. I love how Cathy and Jamie’s storylines play in reverse. It’s like “Memento: The Musical,” which I would totally see. The music reminds me of “Fun Home” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” two other musicals I love; the straightforward monologues convey heartbreak and frustration well. (“Still Hurting” is on my breakup playlist.)

    It would be easy to say I watch this when I need a good cry (which I do), but it’s incredibly cathartic to watch someone else’s marriage implode through song. It makes me feel a lot better about the JERK IN APARTMENT 516.

  2. Center Stage
    Many of these movies I associate with college. My roommate Hannah introduced me to “Center Stage” during one of many movie nights in our dorm room. We might even have been watching this the night I fought with my boyfriend and he never called me back. My roommate bought me junk food and turned on “Center Stage” to cheer me up. That was a great night!This…is not a good movie. It’s an edgy teen dance drama from 2000 featuring Mandela from “10 Things I Hate About You” and dancers as actors. Pinocchio from “Once Upon a Time” plays Mandela’s love interest!! Zoe Saldana is in it! SO IS THE SANDY COHEN FROM “THE O.C.!”

    Everything about it is campy and wrong and ridiculous, but enough compelling moments sneak in to make me cry. And it’s worth it to ride out the hilarious 10-minute dance finale with the most impossible costume change in movie history. Pro tip: Watch this movie with a parent. My mom not only cried throughout, but screamed, “HER CAREER IS OVER!” after seeing the lead perform ballet in her underwear in the finale.

  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
    My best friend from grade school acted out this entire movie for me during a sleepover. We became obsessed with this movie for YEARS.I quote every line. I giggle when I see Orlando Bloom. The piratey soundtrack speaks to my soul.

    I conveniently forget about the rest of Johnny Depp’s career for 2 hours and it. Is. GLORIOUS.

  4. Sense and Sensibility
    I’m not sure when I first saw this; I only know I told myself this movie understood my teenage heartbreak. My friend Kristine and I would cry about wanting Colonel Brandon to carry us five miles through the rain.It’s a really good movie, though. It might have sparked my desire to adapt Austen’s works, even though EMMA THOMPSON DID IT PERFECTLY.
  5. She’s the Man
    During my sophomore year of college, I would go to my friend Sydnie’s apartment once a week and watch movies for hours. This was one of our favorites.Something about this absurd, clumsy reworking of Twelfth Night cheers me up like nothing else. You couldn’t make this movie today (even though some still think joking about gender identity is hilarious), but I appreciate its (limited) take on gender roles. Yay, girls can be pretty and strong!

    Also, Vinnie Jones is in it? All of the actors’ terror when he’s on screen is real.

  6. Legally Blonde
    This was another Sydnie pick. I didn’t like it my first time watching it, but a professor of mine defended it during speech class, so I gave it another shot. It’s weirdly feminist and uplifting and is one of very few movies from the 2000s I enjoy.
  7. He’s Just Not That Into You
    Ginnifer Goodwin does a really bad job in this movie, Jennifer Connelly is weird, all the guys are gross, everyone is WEIRDLY okay with infidelity… I still watch it. All the time. As cliched as it is, this movie doesn’t shy away from the crappy parts of being single. The parts where the characters overanalyze speak to me. DOES HE LIKE ME OR NOT? ARE JUSTIN LONG AND THE GUY FROM ENTOURAGE MY ONLY OPTIONS? Also, “Wait a minute, why am I alone? Why am I unhappy? Why have I gained twenty pounds?”
  8. Begin Again
    Tonally I think this movie is perfect. If we checked off things that I love in movies, a. it’s set in New York, b. it’s a musical(ish), c. it has a bittersweet yet hopeful ending. The cast is great, the soundtrack is awesome, I LOVED when (spoilers) Keira Knightley left Adam Levine for messing with her song. I’m almost positive CeeLo Green calls himself “a chocolate gummy bear” in the film, but that might be too many SNL skits talking.
  9. La La Land
    Among my friends, it’s best not to talk about this movie unless you’re going to trash it, for completely valid reasons.I still love it.

    The first musical number makes me cry WITHOUT FAIL. It exactly embodies how I used to feel around other musicians; there’s a particular energy when everyone’s jamming and excited and I MISS THAT.

    Also, Emma Stone’s monologues kills me. I don’t make a living off my art, but creating hurts. It doesn’t HAVE to, but it can. I’m still getting rid of the inner critic that speaks in the voice of my former writing partner. I get how much it sucks to work hard and hope for success and think that nothing will come of these creative desires.

    The ending is sad and all, but I would leave Ryan Gosling behind to follow my dreams. Sebastian deserves it.

  10. About Time
    Stupid Domhnall Gleeson and his perfect face.The main character’s mom has this perfect line late in the movie when asked how she’s feeling: “I am fucking furious. I am so uninterested in a life without your father.” Which pretty well sums up grief and life in general for me.

    This movie makes the mundane seem miraculous. Epic love is replaced with quiet intimacy between a well-matched couple and I’m so fine with it.

    Is it weird that I want Domhnall Gleeson as my baby daddy? Is it?

Inside the Worst Musical I’ve Ever Seen

The nightmare begins
The first speculative fiction novel I ever read betrayed me.

I stole The Sky Inside from a friend after watching her read it during math class. “What a unique plot!” I thought. “A colony of people living in a dome? Who engineer their own babies? And build robotic collies? Sounds like a one-of-a-kind reading experience!”

I wasn’t wrong.

After 229 pages, I wished death upon myself, the idiot protagonist, and his stupid robotic collie. The entire experience left me leery of “promising” concepts.

So when my mom told me she’d scored “primo” tickets to a musical version of Persuasion, I should have been suspicious. Instead, I turned off my inner alarm. I had theater, Austen, and one of my favorite people on my side.

Nothing could go wrong. Continue reading

Lauren’s Go-To Reads: New Favorites Editions

This list did not turn out how I planned.

I started writing about my all-time favorite books – Princess DiariesLunar Chronicles, all that junk – when I noticed a pattern.

I have a habit of acquiring books, thanks to unwise spending habits, a Seattle library card, and literary friends. I fill my pile with finds that others have recommended or that have interesting covers or that cost $8 at Target (a price that hits my stingy sweet spot. $9.99? What am I, made of money? $8? That means I can buy 4!) The floor of my studio is covered with brand new and gently used books I should be reading right now.


…I reread the same 11 books instead.

I think about these books constantly. I press them on good friends, whispering, “This book ruined my life.” I read them to stave off anxiety attacks and cure bad moods.

These aren’t long-time favorites that I’ve collected throughout my life, but more recent volumes that I’ve read over the last two years. These are the stories I need right now, the ones that reassure me I’m on the right track. Continue reading

Why I won’t pray for my future spouse

In the foreword to her daughter’s dating advice book, Christian author Karen Kingsbury relates a story from her honeymoon: on August 1, 1988, on a beach in Mexico, she and her husband decided to pray for their future family, including their future kids and those kids’ spouses. They prayed, and that very day, their son-in-law, Kyle Kupecky, was born.

This story alludes to a strong belief in some Christian circles in the power of praying for one’s future spouse, i.e., praying for the needs and spiritual growth of the person you will one day marry. This concept was really popular when I was growing up in the 2000s: young girls were encouraged to write letters to their future husbands filled with uplifting verses from their women’s Bibles; Rebecca St. James wrote a song about virginity directed at her someday spouse; an Amazon search brings up at least 10 books on the subject, some of them recently published. The goal, from what I gather, is for God to work in your spouse, shape you into the perfect partner, and fill you both with love for each other before you’ve even met.

It should surprise none of you that I’m not a fan.

I’ve gone from willingly participating in letter-writing and guided prayer to sick with anger at the mention of “hearts being knit together.” This practice that was supposed to benefit me spiritually has, I’ve found, harmed my faith, and I have more than one reason for no longer continuing. Continue reading