Reflections on Christmas Incongruity


Yesterday I listened to Christmas music on my commute for the first time. It was energetic and happy and evoked good memories, so it was a good start to the day.

But Christmas music also created some dissonance. See, it was 80 degrees yesterday. 100% humidity. I had the A/C on in my car, I was wearing a sleeveless blouse, and all the vegetation here is still green.

Do you know that almost all Christmas songs assume cold weather? They’re all “roasted chestnuts” and “snowmen” and “baby, it’s cold outside.”

It’s not cold outside, and I’m not staying over. Thank u, next.

I love where I live. Florida has been fantastic for me, health-wise. The sunshine and warmth provide a stable baseline for my mentality. They don’t keep me from anxiety or depression or whatever else, but they do tend to make it less severe for me. The sunshine alone is good for most people. That’s why Seasonal Affective Disorder is so prevalent.

So why do I feel this weird dissonance when I listen to this Christmas music in my tropical paradise? Because Christmas marketing is all about selling a winter wonderland. The music, the advertisements, the movies, the outfits. It’s selling a specific experience of bonfires and snow and a glorious celebration of the cold.

Don’t we all feel incongruity when our lived experience doesn’t match the vision we’re being sold? We worry that something’s wrong with us. We try not to talk about it, to keep everyone else from discovering that we don’t fit the mold. Maybe we lose track of our real feelings and desires.

Because the truth is, I hate cold. It’s bad for my mental health, and I only enjoy tiny, tiny snippets of the experience. I’m sickeningly happy to be in Florida, to be able to write you this article from my back porch because it’s warm enough for me to do that. I don’t even have fond memories of cold Christmases from childhood, because I grew up in south Alabama!

Maybe sometimes we’re not actually unhappy with our circumstances, we’re just unhappy because our circumstances are different. And being different can be hard.

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What To Do About Failure?


Failure is a loaded topic. /my understatement of this year/ But I’m not scared of loaded topics (are you scared of loaded topics?), so let’s tackle it!

I see two common discussion points on failure: shame and reclaiming. Continue reading

Book Review: LIFEL1K3


lifel1k3LIFEL1K3
Jay Kristoff
Sci-fi

Publisher’s Description

On an island junkyard beneath a sky that glows with radiation, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. Seventeen-year-old Eve isn’t looking for trouble–she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she spent months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, she’s on the local gangster’s wanted list, and the only thing keeping her grandpa alive is the money she just lost to the bookies. Worst of all, she’s discovered she can somehow destroy machines with the power of her mind, and a bunch of puritanical fanatics are building a coffin her size because of it. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it. The problem is, Continue reading

Lyse Links: ADHD, Baseball, Cities


Hey, hi, hello it has been a week. Last weekend I traveled to Kentucky for a wedding, and Monday morning I started a new job with ~2 hours of commuting every day! So my blog has been a little quiet and I didn’t get to read as much as I usually do in preparation for this link post. Believe it or not, I read a lot of articles that don’t make the cut because I think they’re not interesting, complex, or important enough. Only the best for my readers. 🙂

As a result of limited time, I’ve supplemented my fewer recent stories with some older or broader recommendations than usual.

Let’s dive in!

The Time Bandits of Southern California — Have you realized yet that I’m a sucker for a detective story? This one is pretty good. 🙂
Continue reading

Lyse Links: Sex, Dementia, Crime


I’m at a wedding this week, supporting one of my best friends and enjoying the…cold rainy charms of Kentucky? Ok, maybe I’m not enjoying the weather so much, but I’m happy to be here! But it does mean we have a shorter Lyse Links than usual. Hopefully you won’t mind too much. (If you do, there’s a whole backlog of previous Lyse Links you can peruse!)

if you’re going to wax poetic about male pleasure, you had better be ready to talk about its secret, unpleasant, ubiquitous cousin: female pain.
It’s an astonishing and painful read. And stop to consider, if you read it, that the author’s whole point is only about removing female pain from sex, not actually making sex a pleasurable activity for women!
A gentle and multi-sided look at handling dementia care. Is it right to lie to those with dementia? Is is good for them? How deep do you go with the fiction?
Caring for elders is a hard and complicated thing in many situations, but especially when dementia is at play. I went through it with my own loved owns, and witnessed many others in the process. It can be heart-breaking, uplifting, confusing. Reading this article makes it a little easier to understand.
How do we understand the fall in urban violence? Well, first we have to be aware that there has been a decline in urban violence! In the age of news that moves at the speed of the refresh button, it can be hard to remember what things were like 10, 30, 50 years ago. Articles like this help us recenter and reflect.
Turns out, the National Park Service has its own investigative branch, like the FBI but smaller and maybe…hardier? Certainly more outdoorsy! When complex crimes occur on NPS land, they have to find the truth.
This may not be of general interest, but as a runner, I’m pretty interested in the idea that running–as a sport, a community, a hobby–is taking off in other lands. This long article covers a few long-distance races in China, looks at the businesses behind the races, and ruminates a bit on how running reflects changes in Chinese society.

Off to party!

That’s all from me, I’m off to wedding festivities! What are you up to this weekend?

Book Review: The Road Back to You


The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile
Non-fiction

The Enneagram of Personality is a 9-point or 9-type approach to understanding human personality and behavior. It is often called simply “the Enneagram,” but I find it interesting to note that an enneagram is a geometrical figure.

Anyway. This specific book explores the Enneagram types through a Christian worldview, offering insight into how each type functions and can improve on their weaknesses, or “sins.” Continue reading

Book Review: Daughter of Pirate King/Siren Queen


Daughter of the Pirate King & Daughter of the Siren Queen
Tricia Levenseller
YA fantasy

Plot Summary

“Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.” Continue reading