Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy: Life Lessons from Scarface (really.)

The thing about time, I’m learning, is how fast it goes by, completely ignoring your goals or presuppositions for the week. Today may be Monday, the day you mourn the weekend’s quick demise, but yet the way everything has been going lately, I swear you blink twice and it’s Friday.

Over the weekend, I watched Scarface (the 1983 version) for the first time and I was really struck by a scene that’s honestly not like THE major part of the movie, but man, I keep thinking about it. Towards the end of the (three hour) movie, Tony Montana is sitting at a extremely formal, high class restaurant with his wife and best friend. If you’ve never seen Scarface, a little backstory: Tony has BASICALLY lived the American dream. Came from Cuba on a boat,  started washing dishes and is now the ultra rich druglord of Miami. (I mean, that’s everyone’s American dream, I’m assuming.) He has it all: the woman he pined after, the money and lifestyle that comes with the money, the power, lots of cocaine (although “don’t get high on your own supply”), all of it. In this super fancy restaurant filled with old people, Tony comes to a really interesting and surprising realization:


Cue malaise.

“Is this it? Is this all that it’s about? Eating, drinking, snorting…is this all that I worked for? With these hands? Is that what I killed for [Okay, he’s not the BEST role model/one at all] …is this how it ends? And I thought I was a winner?”

While Scarface is probably THE least likely place to get a life lesson other than “Don’t do any of these things ever,” not going to lie, I was totally moved by this scene.

Sometimes I think you have those “restaurant scenes in Scarface” moments in life when you can somehow see a glimpse into what the future of your life path looks like. And maybe that’s a good forecast! But for me, Chronic Overthinker, it’s so easy to get caught up in the negative potentials and then spiral from there into what I consider the WORST future: being stuck in a mediocre life too far gone (or too painful)  for change. Especially with time moving so fast.

But I’ve over-thought my way to a conclusion: Yeah, habits and choices change our lives (like choosing to get into the Miami drug business), but maybe it’s never too late to change. Maybe it’s never too late, once you’ve seen the potential future path you’re on, to turn around. Because maybe that thing that you’re afraid of has already happened to you, as Elizabeth Gilbert writes.  And maybe only the boringly mediocre care about not being mediocre–everyone else is too busy living to care. Life lesson tl;dr: I want to be in that latter group, not in the same boat as Tony Montana.


Soli_deo_gloriaI am a writer. And from what I’ve been told, a pretty good one.

It feels awfully strange to write those previous two sentences, because considering myself a “writer” never felt legitimate to me. When it’s something you’ve been doing for the majority of your life, “self-publishing” little books on construction paper & carrying around notebooks for short stories on the playground, it’s just what I do.

As time has passed, I’m beginning to realize that this thing called writing is in fact perhaps what I’m supposed to do. I might have been an accidental extrovert, but there’s no accidental talent in our lives. When you’re gifted at something, be in singing or public speaking or caring for others or calculations, it’s on purpose and for YOUR purpose.

Sometimes I get really tripped up with this blog, truth be told. I fall back into performance rather than praise and use my talents to give myself glory & prestige. That dang stats counter gets to me. If a post doesn’t have X amount of views, I feel like I failed & that my writing was just subpar. It’s not very healthy and definitely not fun.

As I learned at church this Sunday, prosperity does not mean excess. The purpose of this blog has ALWAYS been to just to provide a sometimes vulnerable, sometimes funny, always honest view of life. I want my writing to be used by God to speak to others (which, it’s quite funny. The more I strive for views, the less meaning the post actually has.) and based on all the kind, compassionate feedback I get, my purpose is being met. I don’t need to have 4985346 views a day. I don’t need a book deal. I don’t need to be popular. My goal is authenticity, not mass acceptance or approval.

Soli Deo gloria, Glory to God alone.

I’d like to take this moment to dedicate my writing once & forever to the Lord. (I should’ve done this ages ago, but hey, I was a little too focused on making my name increase at the time.) This work is dedicated solely to bringing Him glory and only for the reason of praising God.

And for the next month, I’m going to just write. Not look at the stats & flagellate myself for low views, not endlessly self-promote. Writing is one of my favorite forms of worship and I’m going to get back to that.

Blogging FAIL.

So, this semester has been a grand experiment: can a college student survive 4 months without having Internet accessibility in her house?

Answer: Kinda. Obviously, my blogging frequency has taken the biggest hit because when I’m especially in a writing mood, too bad, so sad–no blogging for me.

Thank you for being patient and not giving up on me! Next semester, I’ll be living in England and will most likely have wifi + tons of interesting things to write about!

Community: the Unwritten Covenant

And I love cheesy photos.

Ray Bradbury encourages aspiring writers to write something every day in order to become better, which makes perfect sense. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell speculates that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to attain genius level. Writing isn’t anything different than learning piano or training for the Olympics; practice makes perfect when you desire to attain a dream. I’m beginning to realize that maybe writing is my dream. I’ve been waiting all along for something that’s been right under my nose.

I’m currently sitting in the most unusual Starbucks, unusual due to the small-town, community feel despite being in the center of Dallas suburbs. The atmosphere is thick with affability. Baristas are giving others shoulder massages (semi-weird). Families are taking pictures together. A group of friends are scrapbooking in a corner. One woman, while on crutches, made her social rounds to all the other tables and had a friendly conversation with everyone, wishing them a good morning.  (Everyone minus me, naturally. I’m a stranger here in this familiar territory.) I’m not really used to the concept of being a “regular,” although it sounds as appealing as air-conditioning on a Texan summer day. Even those who adamantly declare themselves to be nomadic, free spirits secretly long to belong to a place “where everyone knows your name.” We’re made for community I think, and maybe realizing this is a step towards maturity. We’re not supposed to be alone.

Last night, Kay Carol, Larry & I had a dinner at an Italian restaurant run by a local family. The cozy dining room was set with colors and music that added to the Tuscan feel; wine was poured, families were laughing, meals were enjoyed. In the corner of the room was a foreign object: a television. One of the most anticipated Olympic events of London, the men’s swimming finals showcasing American rivals Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, was on, mutely interrupting dinner conversations.  I mostly ignored it. And then suddenly, with the last few laps, the room changed into inspiration for a Norman Rockwell painting. Everyone—young and old, in the kitchen or at the table—had their eyes on the race, plates of spaghetti and dirty dishes forgotten for those two minutes. There was no mistaking the sense of awe that had overcome everyone. Is this community? The experience of shared hope? Maybe.

Are we afraid of community? Afraid to be vulnerable and known…even though that’s truly what we seek? Touting it as boring, we who fear community are afraid to be wanted.

(written july 29, 2012)

How To Write.

This was me (on the left) around 5th grade. Look at my dorky little self. I WOULD be the one to write snarky stories about classmates.

Mark Twain once said, “Write what you know,” and so that’s what I’m doing. Or at least, attempting.

When I was a kid, I used to write all of the time, almost to the point of cliché. I was the 2nd grade precocious bookworm who read Gone With the Wind in two weeks flat, the 4th grade observer who carried around a spiral bound notebook full of stories I would write about my classmates (most were kind of snarky. One classic was about a mean girl in my class named Tiffany, who always had a slicked back ponytail (circa 2002), and upon further notice, had a tiny bald spot. Naturally, I wrote a moralism about how gel makes you bald.), the 6th grade playwright, the 7th grade mystery novelist, and then finally the 10th grade award-winning short story author. But the older I became, the more fragmented my stories would become until finally, with yet another abandoned half-baked story, I grew tired of writing. Fiction was too childish and thus, I graduated into the world of blogging.

I dreamt of journalism until one day, I realized that I hate being forced to write. Deadlines for topics I hate? No thanks. So I decided to study advertising, where I could write in concentrated, witty doses.

Fast forward to three years later & thus, the present. The idea of a future including writing keeps creeping back into my life like Georgia kudzu. Maybe it’s one of the talents God has given me…from all the positive feedback I consistently get about writing, it sure seems like it.

Everyone who’s read this blog knows all I want to do is pull an Eat, Pray, Love and just travel, eat, & write.  Honestly though, I’m afraid to fail if I decide to pursue that. I’ll end up living Broke, Hungry, Desperate.

I feel like it’d be trite to end this post saying something like “Whatever I do, it’ll be great, blah blah blah, positivity.” So…

Moral of the Story: Using too much gel makes you go bald!

Here we are now, entertain us.

I want this.

What in the world am I doing with my life?

…Yes, working at ad agency, thanks Captain Obvious.

But what about the big picture?

I’ve been reading SO many great essayists lately like Malcolm Gladwell, Nora Ephron, David Sedaris, etc and honestly, I would love to write like that someday. Having a book/memoir/collection of essays (semantics) would be my dream. All I want to do is travel places, eat local cuisine, and write essays. Really.

I love this quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (familiar to the masses thanks to that 876 hour Brad Pitt beauty shot fest):

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

Although I’m utterly unsure about my future (as every 20-something in all of history ever was (minus heiresses because they don’t count)), I have unshakeable hope, free from doubt. I know God’s plans for me are perfect and directed. It’s beautiful.