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Neverspeak Weekly 8/18/15

The Love Edition

We all know that Neverland is a magical place, and not just because of fairy dust and the Forever Gardens. Quite simply, Neverland brings lost souls together. One wouldn’t expect a small, relatively quiet town like Neverland to attract so many people from so many places. Usually you find such melting pots in big cities like New York or Los Angeles, where wandering people are drawn like moths to a flame and all too often get burned. But, those who venture to the heart of the country instead of away from it will find in the middle of Ohio a haven like no other.

The idyllic beauty and small town charm of Neverland allows those lost souls to become whole. Here, they can be whoever they chose – an ice cream maker or a detective, a book shop owner or a gossip columnist. And when they can express themselves the way they want to, they are open enough to attract the kind of love they deserve. Being relatively new to Neverland, I am still getting used to this new way of being. However, I can’t help but be inspired by all of the love I see around me. This week I want to focus on the couples that are the heart of Neverland.

#MEli The romance of Mia Rivers and Eli Traynor is especially dear to my heart, because I totally called that sh*t from the very beginning. Some might say they are an unlikely pair, a sweet bookworm and a horse-loving cowboy, but you know the saying. Rhymes with composites contract. After a slightly rocky start punctuated by some misunderstandings and cross-country crises, they are back on track. Or should I say, back on horseback?

#Tabri Bri Valdivia and G. Harrison Lestrade (nicknamed Agent Tacos) had your everyday, run-of-the-mill workplace romance. They just happened to be super-spies with the FBI while they were doing it. Both have since given up glamour and danger for a more settled life here in Neverland. Bri owns Neverland Books and Agent Tacos has become Deputy Sheriff Tacos. Yet no matter how normal their lives have become, their love is the stuff of fairytales (or spy novels).

#Jodie Jo and Freddie Wentworth may have been keeping a low profile this summer, but they have good reason. As new parents to baby Lillian, they certainly have their hands full. Having just celebrated the first year of their marriage, the couple is going strong. Their little family is a joy to behold. When will little Lillian have some playmates, hmmmm, other couples?

#TheifSlayer Teresa Delacruz splits her time between Neverland and Cleveland, attending to her slightly mysterious slayer duties. So, it would make sense that she would date somebody from outside the Neverland circle. After attending the Midsummer Ball with a red herring of a date, Teresa announced that her heart had been stolen by someone else. He was a charming thief (figuratively and literally) named Neal and the two have been inseparable ever since. Guess it’s her sacred duty to keep an eye (and some hands) on a possible threat at all times?

#Jesley Juliet Carpenter and Wesley Parsons may have the most soulful connection here in Neverland. They have fought valiantly through distance and demons (just figurative) to be together. After meeting in a very trying set of circumstances (Juliet saved Wesley from a violent kidnapping), no one knew if the two could make their love last. But finally, after much debate, Wesley made the brave decision to give Neverland a chance so he could be with his Juliet.

#Salfie This nickname is unofficial, but it works perfectly for a couple that is constantly in the media. Sarah-Jane Lakewood and her fiancé Alfie live the high-life as celebrities who jet in and out of Neverland. Alfie likes to keep a low profile, but Sarah-Jane is very active in the community. Everyone became a part of their romance when Alfie proposed to Sarah-Jane on the dance floor at the Midsummer Ball. They will be having an engagement party later this month!

Next up is the sexy single’s edition…unless everyone’s already paired by then!

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Posted in Neverspeak
Posted on August 18, 2015

A Nickel’s Worth of Free Advice

Stop the presses!  I’ve learned that my sister Wendy Darling’s book tour begins this Saturday at Neverland Books!  So I figured I’d use this week’s editorial to talk a little bit about it.  In case you haven’t read any of my earlier editorials on the subject, Wendy has written a book called “Ask Wendy: Advice on Life, Love and Living,” which is being put out by the publishing division of JH Media.  We’re all familiar with her storied career as advice columnist during her tenure running “Dear Darling” for the Kensington Chronicle before she moved on to bigger and better things, and this book is a must-have for anyone who enjoyed that feature!  Click on over to the JH Media site to read a few excepts, in case you’d like to try before you buy.  And using the form right below that, you can sign up to have free excerpts delivered right to your inbox.

I, for one, couldn’t be happier that our brief and unfounded estrangement is at an end, as I find myself in dire need of advice in the “love” category.  But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little guilty asking about my love life when I know hers is currently in such bitter turmoil.  I gather an ill-fated double date ended with her current and former beaus coming to blows.  And given that several of the players in this drama are near and dear to my heart, my brother and I have been put in the unenviable position of having to navigate this interpersonal minefield.  For the record, I personally have nothing but respect for Jas Hook, and based on what I’ve seen, he has comported himself as nothing but a perfect gentleman in regards to my sister.  And a part of me regrets my involvement in a recent community theatre piece that shall remain nameless; to say it amounted to little more than a thinly veiled attack on the current object of my sister’s affections would do thin veils an injustice.  [I should note that this is not meant as a slight against anyone but the play’s author; the cast and crew were nothing if not consummate professionals]

But I digress.  While this won’t cure all of my sister’s woes, I suspect that all we need to do to take her mind off her troubles is to make her first book signing  first book signing a rousing success.  To that end, I hope all of you will join me this Saturday, 8/15, at 1:30 p.m. EST at Neverland Books.  For more details, feel free to reach out to John Smee, Neverland Books proprietor Bri Valdivia, Cindy Sue, Constance Moriarty or any of the store’s other amazing employees.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on August 13, 2015

ASK WENDY – Excerpt 6

“We accept the love we think we deserve” – Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The best advice I can give when people ask how to find love is to look inside. It doesn’t matter if your profile is 99% compatible, or if you spot them reading your favorite book while drinking your favorite tea. It doesn’t matter if the stars aligned and everything is perfect! If you don’t love yourself, your heart isn’t available to anyone. And your heart knows when you’re faking it. It can sense if you’re thinking “Fine. I’ll love myself just long enough to get a boyfriend, then it’s back to criticizing and self hate.”

If you’re seeking a romantic relationship because you think someone else’s love is going to replace what you deny yourself, you, my sweet friends, are in for a painful ride.

Imagine your heart is a baby kitten. What would happen if you waited for someone else to come along and give it food? Your heart-kitten might starve before you even find a partner! Not to mention, if your boyfriend or girlfriend realizes they’re the only one taking care of it, they could get tired of seeing the neglect and it might make them want to give up.

So before you can even think about getting into relationships with others, you need to start with a good relationship with you and your heart-kitten. Or heart-puppy if you happen to be allergic.

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Posted in Ask Wendy
Posted on August 9, 2015

Pity Party Canceled

Dear readers, I’ve read over the editorials I published in the past couple of months, and I’d like to take a moment to apologize for how myopically angsty they are!  I guess when you look at your life and you find enough areas wanting, it’s easy to get lost in a veritable quagmire of self pity.  What’s more, after a while that kind of bleak outlook can become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  This irrational fear of failure, this unflinching belief that the bad parts of your history will inevitably repeat themselves, can relegate you to a life of stagnating inaction.  And I don’t think I realized just how introverted and work-obsessed all of this had made me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a workaholic at heart; I always prefer being busy to the alternative, and you know what they say about idle hands.  But I think that many of you, my stalwart friends, recognized in me something that I’m only now starting to grasp; In recent months, I’ve withdrawn even deeper into my work to distract myself from all of life’s other problems.  My work life is something I can unequivocally control.  There’s a certain safety in that.  But it’s entirely too easy to focus on work to the expense of… life!  And I’m hoping, with your help, I’ll be able to see that from now on.

I’m realizing finally that, more often than not, it’s best to confront problems head-on.  Case in point, I let Wendy’s lack of correspondence fester in my mind, creating a nightmarish (and entirely fictional) scenario in which she was moving on without me.  For the longest time, I avoided confronting her about it because at some level I believed that doing so would confirm my greatest fears.  But after finally hashing things out with her, I understand that her lack of contact had almost nothing to do with me, and that, in the final analysis, a life without her siblings in it is as terrifying a prospect for her as it is for me.

What’s more, I know that you loyal readers have had a front-row seat for the saga of John Darling’s romantic journey, or lack-thereof.  Well, on that front, I’m happy to report that maybe, just maybe, the axiom of “’you’ll find someone when you least expect it” may finally be bearing fruit.  It’s really too early for me to tell, but suffice to say I may be coming to all of you for advice in this area in the not-too-distant future.  I know someone’s love life may seem like a particularly unusual thing to crowd-source, but, honestly, I feel like I’ll need all the help I can get.  And I do so very much value and trust all of your opinions.

So thank you, all of you, for the constant support and words of encouragement.  If ever again you see me teetering on the precipice of unchecked self pity, please don’t hesitate to let me know.  Sometimes a dark outlook change comes on so gradually it’s difficult to acknowledge just how unclearly you’re thinking, you’re too close to your own life to see it.  And I want all of you to know that I want this to be a two-way street.  I’m not the only person in Neverland to become mired in a bog of uncertainty and self doubt, it happens to all of us from time to time.  In those moments, when you have questions, concerns, or just simply need a friend, you know where to find me, and I hope you won’t hesitate to reach out.  We’re stronger together than we are apart, and I expect I’ll be seeing more of you as I begin to crawl out of my self-imposed exile.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on August 6, 2015

For Love And Country

Unless you’ve been living under Skull Rock, by now you know that this past Friday, the United States Supreme Court made a momentous decision; gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states in the union.  And words cannot adequately describe how much this means to me.  My social media feeds are one solid, unending rainbow… and I’ve never seen anything more beautiful.

This historic decision builds on earlier cases, like Loving v. Virginia, which overturned state bans on interracial marriage, and Undine v. Ohio which granted humans and mermaids the right to enter into civil unions.  The Supreme Court finally acknowledged what so many of us have been saying all along, that “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”

The entire notion that gay marriage was ever somehow distinct from “regular” marriage is a product of a troubling trend that has historically suffused pop culture’s portrayal of gay characters; Far more often than not, gay characters have been defined almost exclusively by their sexuality.  We’ve seen countless, angst-ridden coming out stories, which can give rise to the wildly inaccurate assumption that growing up as a gay child is uniformly fraught with internal strife and external condemnation.  Which is not to say that these things don’t ever happen, far from it.  But I, personally, find it so refreshing when we get to see the other side, when a character’s proclamation of their sexuality is heralded not with a bang but with a whimper.  When their loved ones say, “We kind of already knew, but it wouldn’t have mattered even if we didn’t.”  Because, more and more, that happens in the real world, too.

There’s a theme that’s been running through my editorials of late, this idea that a proper pairing can form a union so much stronger than the sum of its parts.  I know that, historically, there are all sorts of societal reasons why the institution of marriage has stood the test of time that have nothing to do with the lofty idea of true love, but as a person who likes to think of himself as equal parts hopeless and romantic, it still seems to me that in a perfect world, marriage should, in the words of Friday’s Supreme Court decision, “[embody] the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.”  And it fills me with unrepentant joy that so many perfect unions of the heart will finally be recognized as perfect unions under the law.  That children with same-sex parents will no longer have to grow up thinking that their family units are somehow less-than, simply because these two people who fell madly in love with one another happen to be of the same gender.

Members of the National LGBTQ Task Force, huddled about the Supreme Court on Friday, hoisted signs that featured two simple words: “Be you.”  I don’t think I’ve seen a more profound and stirring a call to action than that in all of my years on this planet.  And I’ll tell you this much, dear readers: I, for my part, intend to keep on being me for as long as my heart keeps beating.  Because I don’t know how to be anything else.  And I nobody should ever have to.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on June 30, 2015

Nothing To Fear But Love Itself

Love has been in the air of late in Neverland, and it has been the subject of much debate amongst myself and some of my fellow townsfolk. Is love merely a distraction, like a seasonal allergy, or is it the rose that the old adage is ceaselessly reminding us to stop and smell?

The inability of some in my generation to form meaningful, long-lasting relationships is nothing if not a multi-faceted problem. In my recent editorial about millennials, I posited that the dearth of serious, long-term relationships in my generation may stem in part from the nigh endless expenditure of effort that is required for us to stay afloat in these dire economic straits. Additionally, the “everyone gets a prize just for showing up” mentality of our current congratulatory culture, and the rash of so-called “helicopter parents” who swoop in to “save us” at the slightest perceived provocation, has left us profoundly ill-equipped to handle actual disappointment in our lives. In a generation that’s been raised to make mountains out of every emotional mole hill, we’re forced to re-evaluate if it is, in fact, better to have loved and lost. In that context, “never having loved at all” can emerge as an arguably more-attractive option. What’s more, in a world where many millennials have been coddled since birth, the prospect of such an all-encompassing relationship can seem like one more way to see their personality subsumed by yet another “other.” And the longer the utter alien-ness of the concept of real romantic love exists, the scarier that prospect becomes.

Take me, as a case in point: in my nearly 27 years on planet Earth, the amount of time I’ve spent in relationships is so small it’s practically statistically insignificant. And until recently, the absence of romantic love hadn’t even created a noticeable void in my life, and least not a conscious one. But two people who have been near and dear to me for as long as I can remember have just embarked upon a romantic relationship, and I’d be lying if I said this development hasn’t given me pause. Now, the subject of this post is so profoundly personal that I will refrain from mentioning the individuals by name, but suffice to say that the positive effects that these two have had on one another in such a short time have been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Up to this point, I’ve counted the man in this scenario as one of the most slovenly and unmotivated millennial specimens I have yet to come across. Now he’s cleaning his place unbidden, and living up to his responsibilities on a regular basis. And the woman in question had been gradually descending into an existential quagmire, but seeing the world (and this town) anew through new eyes has helped pull her out of that rut.

So let me pose the question to you, Neverlandians: Is that what love is all about, in the final analysis? Finding someone who brings out the best in you and never letting go? Is a match well-made truly greater than the sum of its parts? Does deciding to share your life with someone provide a newfound sense of purpose to an otherwise rudderless existence? And if so, is it truly possible for a generation that has had “no time for love, Dr. Jones” to make up for lost time now?

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on June 26, 2014

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  • 10:00 pmAsk Wendy Live!
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  • All DayOpenWindow Launch
  • 7:00 pmFree Dance Class: Ballet
  • 10:00 pmGarden of Light Tour w/ Michael Darling
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  • 6:00 pmBri’s Wedding Shower
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  • All DayNeverland Vernal Equinox Celebration
  • 6:25 amFirefly Festival
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  • 5:00 pmNeverland Spring Festival High Tea Mixer
  • 8:00 pmAnnual Spring Fling Ball
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  • 4:00 pmMeet Neal Cassidy
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