The “Weird” Category

This is a paper that I wrote for my Writing 121 class during Fall term. The assignment was to write a critical narrative talking about the way you dress or a uniform you have, and how other people perceive you when you wear it. I’ve decided to dig my paper up again and post it on this blog.

 

The “Weird” Category”

For many years I was embarrassed about the way I dressed. In my mind, it wasn’t trendy or fashionable, and I always got the feeling that other people were placing me in the “weird” category because of the how I dressed. However, I’ve come to realize that for the most part, that wasn’t true.

I’ve been dressing modestly for as long as I can remember. I’m a Christian, and of the Mennonite denomination, and one of the things that Mennonites value is modest dress as an outward expression of a modest spirit. I’ve always worn skirts or dresses that were at least knee length, my tops have never been tight or revealing, and my hair has always been long.

When I was 12 years old, I added one more element to this ensemble; I started wearing a prayer veil. Every morning I twisted my hair into a bun at the nape of my neck, and placed the veil on top of it all as a symbol of submission to God.  It was at this time in my life that I began to dress the way I did because of a personal conviction, and not because it was what my parents told me to do.

Even so,  I hated the way I dressed. While I liked the idea of modesty, I didn’t like putting it into practice. I felt like people looked at me and immediately assumed that I wasn’t cool, or that I was just weird.

Everything changed after a fight with my mom. I remember sitting in the kitchen on a sunny Fall afternoon arguing with her about the length of a skirt. She wanted me to add a few extra inches of fabric to the hem of a bright yellow skirt that I had sewn myself. I was refusing to, because I was sure that a few extra inches, obviously tacked on to the bottom of a skirt, would make me look the the weirdest kid on the planet. I hated fighting with my mom, and by the end we were both in tears, and I had a lot of thinking to do. Even though I didn’t like the things she said, there was a lot of truth to them. It was then that I realized, it doesn’t matter if I look weird, this is how I want the world to see me, because this is me.

Crazily enough, when my perspective on myself and the way I dressed changed, so did everyone else’s. Suddenly, I no longer felt like everyone was categorizing me as “the kid who dresses weird,” I was just “Jenny,” a regular person who happened to dress a little differently.

Looking back on it now, I don’t believe that people’s opinions of me changed at all, and if they did, it was mostly likely very little. What did change was my opinion of myself. When I considered myself to be “the weird kid” and “uncool,” I assumed that that was how everyone around me perceived me, but as I began to embrace the way I dressed, I stopped assuming people thought I was weird, and started realizing that nobody else cared how I dressed.

Now, I love dressing modestly, because it’s a reflection of who I am. And when I’m confident about who I am, I know that no one’s placing me in the “weird” category because of the way I dress, and most likely no one ever did.

 

This post was Day 27 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can find Day 26 over on “Life in the Shoe”, and Day 25 on “The Girl in the Red Rubber Boots”.

That’s it for today folks.

TTFN

Between the Living and the Dead: A Poem

 

And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed;

Numbers 16:48

 

When God’s people chose to turn away

God, in his wrath, decided they should pay.

 

He sent a plague to take out Israel’s nation,

While Moses stood and watched the congregation.

 

Then hastily, Aaron was outfitted

To rectify this sin that they’d committed.

 

With hordes of dying people pressing in,

He ventured out into the throes of sin.

 

He stood between the living and the dead,

The plague no longer reared it’s ugly head.

 

For even punishment for sin could not withstand

The line atonement drew upon the sand.

 

In a way Christ’s story is the same

When he took man’s form and to Earth came.

 

He came to sinners headed to their death

Prepared to give for them his final breath.

 

And when he gave himself a line was made,

For in his sacrifice the price was paid.

 

He stands between the living and the dead,

And Hell no longer rears it’s ugly head.

 

For even punishment for sin cannot withstand

The line salvation drew upon the sand.

 

 

Our pastor read this verse, almost in passing, in his sermon yesterday, and it just really stuck with me, so today I quick wrote this up and decided to post it. I hope you enjoyed it.

This post was Day 24 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can read Day 23 on Mom’s blog “Life in the Shoe”, and Day 22 on Emily’s blog “The Girl in the Red Rubber Boots”.

 

TTFN

Dear Younger Me

Dear Younger Jenny,

Hey there.

Today I turn 18, and recently I’ve taken to using birthdays as a time to reflect on what I’ve learned, and look at what I want to change. While doing this, I realized that there’s a lot I wish I could go back and tell you, and even though I know that’s impossible (and you probably wouldn’t listen if it was) I want to say it.

First off, you’re going to here the phrase “Be Yourself” all over the place. Practically every book for girls your age will have that message, and you’ll think it’s stupid, because who else would you be but yourself? But Jenny, being yourself doesn’t mean inhabiting your own body and no one else’s, for you it’s going to mean that you shouldn’t be basing your likes and dislikes off of what other people like and dislike. You are going to like Math and Science and History and just Learning in general, and the people around you won’t always feel the same way, but as long as you aren’t hurting them, and you still value their opinion, don’t pretend to not like those things. Conversely, you will like things that practically everyone around you loves as well, and you may feel like that makes you less unique and special, but that’s not the case. It’s okay to like things that everyone else likes, just like it’s okay to like things that nobody else likes. You’re still you.

But along with that idea, “Be Yourself” doesn’t give you the right to hurt other people. Don’t carry the idea with you that if you being yourself hurts someone it’s the other person’s problem. No, it’s your problem. You can be yourself and still be nice. Who you are doesn’t change by acting nicer towards people than you really want to.

Secondly, you are going to go through a lot. You will have people saying things about you that aren’t true, and people wishing things upon you that should never be wished on anyone. Sometimes, you will feel like the whole world is against you. The best thing you can do is not to “stand strong” like you read about in those deep Pinterest quotes, it’s to forgive the people who hurt you so badly. Believe me, it’ll be hard, forgiveness takes it’s own kind of strength, but if you can learn to forgive those people who tormented you, your life will be happier. Bitterness and anger have a way of polluting one’s spirit, but forgiveness gives you freedom and joy in a way that you can’t imagine.

Thirdly, you don’t need to get embarrassed so much. Now, a little embarrassment now and again is good for keeping you from being incredibly annoying, but you don’t need to take that to extremes. Sure, your mom is getting a lot of groceries, and you find it embarrassing, but no one else really cares. And sure, people might look at you a little odd if you start goofing off with your friends at the mall, but in reality, they’re probably just thinking that you look like you’re having fun. When you spend all your time getting embarrassed about things, you miss out on a lot of adventures.

Fourth, you’ll get the idea that the most important thing for a girl is to be strong. Strong female characters will be rampant in the books you read and the movies you watch, but please, don’t try to be like them. Instead, try to be kind. Those girls tend to be strong only in a way that tears others down, but by being kind, you can be strong in a way that builds others up. Kindness is it’s own sort of strength. It can be hard to talk to the new girl at church instead of laughing with your friends, and it can be hard to give up the last piece of cake to your sibling, but when you do it, it’s so worth it.

Finally, and most importantly, serve God, and turn to Him with any problem you have. Your problems may feel insignificant, but He’s still there for you, and He’s willing to help you out if you’ll just ask for help. But don’t just ask Him for things, thank Him for things as well, and make it your life mission to do whatever it is that He asks.

Jenny, you have a lot of life to live, and a lot of lessons to learn. Your life with have it’s ups and downs, but through it all, keep your eyes on the Lord, be kind, forgive, and be you.

Sincerely,

Jenny Smucker, Age 18

 

This post was Day 21 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can find Day 20 on Mom’s blog, and Day 19 on Emily’s blog.

 

TTFN

 

How to Make a Bleach-Dyed T-Shirt

Hello friends, today I’m going to show/tell you how to make a bleach dyed t-shirt.

Like this:

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Except not exactly like that, but similar.

To start off you’ll need:

A stencil of some sort*

A black t-shirt (honestly, you could do this with any color, but black shows up really well)

Bleach

A spray bottle

A trash bag

Rocks or weights of some sort (optional)

2015-07-29 14.33.23

*To make the stencils, get something that you can cut easily, but doesn’t let liquid through it. I’ve used parts window shades and bottoms of seed cleaner bag things, but I understand that those things could be hard to come by. I’m guessing milk cartons could work too, but I’ve never tried it. Whatever you choose will be what the stencil is made of.

Once you know what you’re making the stencil out of, print a picture of what you wanted to have on your shirt and cut it out.

2015-07-28 10.56.50.jpg

Then, trace that onto what you’re actually making the stencil out of, and cut out what you’ve just traced.

2015-07-28 11.17.01

 

2015-07-28 11.23.41

And now you have your stencil. If you want, you can just draw on your stencil and cut it out, but I prefer printing a picture and tracing it for accuracy’s sake.

You could also skip these steps completely and use something like leaves as a stencil, which is what I did for the shirt on the photo at the beginning of this post.

Once you have the stencils, it’s time to get your shirt ready to bleach.

Lay the shirt out flat, and slip the trash bag inside of it to keep the bleach from bleeding through to the back of the shirt.

2015-07-29 14.35.12.jpg

Next, lay out your stencils, and place them exactly as you want them.

2015-07-29 14.35.16.jpg

Now it’s time for the bleaching. Fill your spray bottle with bleach. If you want the bleaching to not be very drastic, you can water down your bleach.

Once your bottle has bleach and your stencils are placed, spray the bleach around the stencils. Be sure that around the stencils the fabric is fully bleached, and then you can also spray around to make the bleaching look a bit more gradual.

2015-07-29 14.43.37.jpg

Since I do this outside, I like to also use rocks to make sure the shirt doesn’t blow around in the wind, hence, the rock in the lower left corner of the picture.

Once you’ve finished bleaching, allow the shirt to air dry completely. Once the shirt is dry, it needs to be washed. I like to hand wash it, just to make sure that any excess bleach doesn’t damage other clothing.

Once your shirt is washed and has dried, it is ready to wear.

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The shirt here is one that I made for my friend Deana’s birthday.

One thing to keep in mind through this is that colors vary depending on the shirt brand. I’ve made about 7 of these with shirts of varying brands, and so far only two have been the exact same color.

So anyway, that’s how you bleach-dye a t-shirt. I hope this tutorial made sense, and you could figure out what was going on in my blurry phone photos.

 

This post was Day 18 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can find Day 17 here on Mom’s blog, and Day 16 here on Emily’s blog.

TTFN

Opal Creek

Today I went on a hike.

20170415_131553[1].jpg

When it’s a beautiful and sunny Saturday, getting outdoors is a must, and today the destination was Opal Creek, a wilderness area located on the border of the Mt. Hood National Forest (at least according to Wikipedia).

A group of us set out at 10 ish this morning, drove for an hour and a half, and then hiked for about four hours in the sunshine.

Since the deadline for me posting this is fast approaching, ( I currently have 8 minutes to post this) I won’t be saying much, but I’ll share some of the pictures I took, and I hope you enjoy them.

 

Anyway, folks, that’s all I have time to say.

This was Day 15 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can catch Day 14 on Mom’s blog here, and Day 13 on Emily’s blog here

TTFN

 

The Spider Story

To all of you out there who are like me in that you’re scared of spiders, this one’s for you.

As I was driving home from school today, just minding my own business, I suddenly realized that there was a spider on my dashboard. Now, this wasn’t the first time a spider had dared to set foot in my car, but in the past they’d always been small enough that a small scream and a few desperate whacks of a wallet would kill them. This spider, however, was made of sturdier stuff. Its fat body bristled with short hairs, its abdomen looked almost bee-like in its stripedness, and you could distinctly see it’s prominent and hairy mandibles.

Immediately I let loose a bloodcurdling scream and nearly swerved into the other lane of traffic. Every nerve in my body was on edge as I assessed the situation. It seemed like the logical thing to do would be to pull over and kill the spider, but I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to kill the spider myself. It’s a common thing for me to have trouble killing bugs of any kind for fear that I’ll miss, and the offended insect or spider will in turn try to kill me.

I decided the best thing to do would be to continue to drive home (I was only a few minutes away) and hope that the spider didn’t disappear or challenge me to a duel before I was able to locate someone to kill the spider for me. With this in mind I quickened my pace. As I drove, I loudly prayed “PLEASE GOD PLEASE MAKE THE SPIDER NOT MOVE!!!!” Then the spider would move and I would scream and continue, “OH PLEASE, JESUS, PLEASE TELL THE SPIDER TO NOT MOVE” A few times the spider would disappear, and I would freak out, only to find it re-appearing a few moments later. I declare, those few minutes it took to get home were some of the most stressful minutes of my life.

As soon as I arrived at home, I threw open my car door and charged into the house, only to find my mother having a tea party with some family friends. Out of breath and nearly to the point of tears I asked, “Is anyone here not afraid of spiders?”

Esther Mae stood up and said, “I’m not.”

“I need your help!” I replied frantically.

So the two of us rushed out to my car, and she calmly killed off the spider that had caused me so much stress and anxiety in the past 5 minutes.

So friends, if you’re afraid of spiders, I recommend you find a friend as awesome as Esther Mae.

 

This post was Day 12 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can find Day 11 on Mom’s blog here, and Day 10 on Emily’s blog here.

TTFN

 

 

 

How Poetry Found Me

On my last post, someone commented wondering how it was that I got into writing poetry, so today I decided to post about it.

When I was about 10 years old, or possibly younger, my mom was teaching a writing class at my school to the 9th and 10th graders. Somewhere in there I overheard her talking to her class about limericks. The idea of words having that specific of a rhyme and rhythm pattern fascinated me, and I immediately tried my hand at limerick writing. The poems that came out of that stage were weird and disjointed, but they sparked an interest in poetry that has only grown since.

It was around that time that my sister Amy purchased a book of poems by Emily Dickinson, and sometimes she would read them to me before bed. I loved these poems so much that I would memorize them and quote them to myself under by breath before I fell asleep at night. My favorites were “A Wounded Deer” and “Success Is Counted Sweetest”.

It was Emily Dickinson’s poems that inspired me to branch out of limerick writing and try different poetry styles. However, my topics were still a bit odd. I distinctly remember one poem about a sick girl who danced at midnight and that cured her of her sickness. Another I wrote with a friend, who shall remain nameless to save her from embarrassment, was centered around a girl who loved a boy and basically stalked him, but then he ended up marrying her sister.

When I turned 13 I started going to the ACE Conventions, and I began to write and enter poems there. My first one was about an Anabaptist man named Dirk Willems, and, to my surprise, it placed second. The next year I wrote about my great-great grandpa (you can find the poem here) and I placed first. Our school went to Internationals that year, and I took my poem, and it placed 4th out of 86 entries. Needless to say, I was quite proud of myself.

I entered poems at Regionals the next two years as well (you can find them here and  here) and I placed first both years. The second one I took to Internationals, and I won first there as well.

But poetry isn’t just something I love to write, I also love to read and recite it. In fact, here’s a list of some of my favorite poems:

“Song of Slaves in the Desert” by John Greenleaf Whittier

 

“Stanzas on Freedom” by James Russel Lowell

 

“‘Hope’ is the Thing With Feathers” by Emily Dickinson

 

“If” by Rudyard Kipling

 

Of course, there are many more that I love, including pretty much anything Longfellow wrote (at least that I’ve read).

I think what I love most about poetry is that it needs structure. It’s more than just finding words, it’s finding the exact right words, finding words that fit the rhyme, and fit the rhythm, and sound cool too. When I feel like my life is unstructured and chaotic, poetry is the outlet that provides me with some structure, and helps me to make sense of my life.

So, that’s the story of how I started writing poetry, and why I love it so much. If you have any poems that you love, comment and tell me what they are, and I’ll read them and probably love them as well.

This was Day 9 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can read Day 8 on Mom’s blog, and Day 7 on Emily’s blog.

I hope you all have a great day!

TTFN