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Why Taking Chances is the Key to Happiness

Dear readers, these recent months have been tumultuous, for me and for many of those closest to me. My brief dismissal from – and subsequent reinstatement to – the ranks of the Kensington Chronicle has inspired me to look back on how much my personal and professional life has changed since we first launched the online edition of the Chronicle three years back. With that in mind, I’ve re-read all of the online editorials that I’ve written (with the exception of some of my recent pieces that don’t really fit that description). And this trip down memory lane has made me come to a startling realization: I had no conscious idea of how much of my life up to this point had been driven by fear.

Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. For a while, even fear of acceptance; specifically, with regards to my sexuality. On that front, we’ve born witness to incredible milestones, rousing opportunities to declare loudly and proudly that “love won.” But my biggest stumbling block in finding a romantic partner has not been my sexuality. While I’ve been alone for most of my life, and feared on some level that I’d end up that way, a part of me has also been afraid of falling in love in the first place. It’s taken me 30 years, give or take, to learn that it truly is better to have loved and lost; that rejections and setbacks are survivable, and are in fact the only way for us to grow as people, the only way to find that person with whom we want to spend the rest of our lives. A proper paring truly does make two people better than the sum of their parts. I’ve seen it with my parents, George and Mary Darling. I’ve seen it with Wendy and Peter; Michael and Lily; and now, I think, with John Smee and myself.

John, woefully, has already found himself on the receiving end of my relationship hang-ups, and I am so grateful that he has elected to give me another chance. I realize now that the way I treated him in the aftermath of the Chronicle sale had nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. And I’m happy to report that now that we’re over that hump, we’ve emerged all the stronger for it.

I’m also grateful for my siblings, Wendy and Michael. That sibling relationship can ebb and flow, but I now know that it will never break. As different as we are, they will well and truly always be my best friends. And that knowledge alone is enough to get me through even the most difficult of days.

In the past, I’ve buried myself in my work, sometimes at the expense of every other aspect of my life. Now, this was in part because I’m a workaholic, and always will be; I’m simply wired that way. But it was also a way of distracting me from the other parts of my life that I found lacking; anything to avoid staring into the abyss of crippling loneliness that my self-imposed isolation was driving me inexorably closer to. But if I’ve learned anything from my recent brush with unemployment, and my blissful reconciliation with John Smee, it’s that being a newspaperman isn’t everything. Our jobs don’t have to solely define us, any more than our sexuality does. Being assistant editor in chief of the Kensington Chronicle is something I do. But John Darling is who I am.

I once wrote that “Growing up isn’t what it used to be.” And I do believe that our generation has some obstacles in our path that no prior generation has ever had to deal with, obstacles which at times can seem insurmountable. But I also believe that nothing is truly insurmountable. That we cannot allow fear, or a culture that undervalues us, to disillusion us into inaction. That we must be steadfast in our refusal to let anyone tell us what we can’t do, least of all ourselves; life is hard enough without putting roadblocks in our own path to happiness. We have to not get so hung up on finding “the one,” but at the same time be open to love when and where we find it. All at the same time striving for balance between all of these different pieces of our lives.

Growing up has never been easy. And it was never meant to be. But I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends and family with whom to muddle through it. And I couldn’t have asked for a more tolerant, nurturing, magical place to do it in than Neverland. I love you all, Neverlandians, each and every one; and every day, you find a way to remind me of just how much I am loved. As long as we all continue to fight for that feeling, then Love truly has won. And if people like us have anything to say about it, it always will.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on April 18, 2017

Neverspeak Weekly 4/4/17

Hail to the Chief. After a well-deserved vacation, Neverland’s own version of George Bailey made a triumphant return to his version of Bedford Falls. As always, the venerable editor-in-chief of the now defunct Kensington Chronicle had words of wisdom that inspired everyone he came in contact with. Jacqueline Viana said, “What I learned from @GDarlingEIC today: FINISH YOUR SCRIPT. PITCHING IT IS ANOTHER STORY, BUT FINISH IT. #BestPepTalk. Khaleesi in Asgard said after her run in with the GD, I REALLY need to get back to work on my novel. Finish that first draft ONCE AND FOR ALL. Jessica James summed up George’s new retirement point of view, “Happy thoughts on creating without fear – and rethinking adulting.” Even though it has been hard to go on without Mr. Darling, his absence has seemed to make our hearts grow fonder.

Fight and Flight. Ever since Aria Griffith’s dramatic fairy transformation at the Spring Fling, lips and wings have been flapping about the tiny dancer. Unfortunately, this seems to have put a strain on her relationship with her best friend Anna Berry. Multiple sources have told this gossip columnist that this have gotten a little explosive between the two. Of course, things seem to be rather explosive in general around the brand new fairy – fairy puberty is nothing to joke around about. Remember middle school? Well, just add magic. And wings. Godspeed, Aria!

Work Hard, Play Hard. Some Neverlandians will be surprised to hear that the K-Chron’s John Darling will be producing a local play. Many will remember Peter Pan’s smash hit, Panlet from last year. While Mr. Darling says this will not be a follow up, it will be a similar process. The difference this year is that Mr. Darling is accepting submissions from all Neverlandians until April 10. At that time, he will chose the script that speaks to him the most, cast the roles with local actors, then put the show up the same week! It’s a fast and furious process, but as Broadway great Leonard Bernstein said, “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” Send your scripts to j.napolean.darling@gmail.com.

When You Wish… What started as something personal has become a little more global for Teresa Delacruz and friends. With the help of Gemma, Anna, Lola, Amanda and her fiancé Neal, our local slayer held a bakes sale at Neverland U to finance her Sanditon honeymoon. While the ladies sold their sweets, they realized they wanted to finance other people’s dreams too. This Friday, Neverland Wish Granters will have their grand opening at the Jolly Roger Soda Ship. They will raise money to essentially give people life scholarships so they can take George Darling’s advice and pursue their dreams. Their first official fundraiser was the 24 hour dance marathon at the Neverland Gym where Neverlandians could work off some of those baked goods.

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Posted in Neverspeak
Posted on April 4, 2017

A Lively Night

Hey Wendybirds!

I am so excited to bring Ask Wendy back to the new K-Chron!  Sooooo excited that I spent an hour last night giving advice live from my office at the new JH Media building visible from…well, everywhere in Neverland.  The last year has been a whirlwind and it was so magical to return to the place where it all began.  Me, you and a web cam in good, old Neverland, Ohio.

Always yours,

Wendy

PS) Hope you enjoy the input from my trusty assistant as much as I did.  Remember, darlings, no matter how hard life gets, a good friend can always make it better.  (And a good laugh, too!)

 

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Posted in Ask Wendy
Posted on March 2, 2017

Work vs Play

How do you manage work and play? My personal experience has been a bit sketchy, especially nearing exam times, and I would like to hear your advice.

-Zoe

This is an awesome question Zoe my darlingite!  Especially when everyone is getting ready to head back to school!

We all have important things that we have to do.  You have to do your homework, you have to clean your room, you have to organize your dvd collection by ability to make you laugh so hard milk comes out your nose.  But it’s also important to LIVE!  It’s important to go outside and play tag with the squirrels, to try every ice cream flavor they have at the Jolly Roger Soda Shop , to puke rainbows because you ate 40 pounds of ice cream, to have FUN!

But you have to have balance.

Many of you know my brother John.  A while back, he was in a place where work was his number one priority.  He would work 25 hours a day, yes 25.  He was so efficient that somehow he managed to get an extra hour out of every day!  It was driving him crazy!  And then you have my, old friend, Peter.  Peter was so focused on only doing things he thought were fun that he lost his job.  If you give work too much time, you’ll isolate yourself from the rest of the world.  But if you abandon all your responsibilities, you’ll disappoint the people who are counting on you and end up just as alone.

Later in life, you can find work that actually makes you happy!  I love talking to all of my darlingites, so work and play are sorta the same thing!  For now, while you’re in school, just make sure you keep that balance!  Try rewarding yourself for spending an hour studying by drawing a picture of your teacher and his goofy tie!  Or maybe read the chapters your assigned outside to get some fresh air!   Whatever you do, keep it balanced 🙂

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Posted in Dear Darling
Posted on September 2, 2015

Dear Darling – She loves me…not?

How do you get over someone who you liked but didn’t like you back?
-PersonNeedingMichael’sWisdom
Well, PersonNeedingMichael’sWisdom, first of all…What an awesome name!!! I mean, how crazy is it that your mom named you PersonNeedingMichael’sWisdom?? What are the odds?!?! There are no coincidences, only things that happen by total random chance, so I am excited to be the Michael that offers the wisdom you need!

Second of all, this is rough. I know it’s hard to believe, because I’m so muscular and handsome and funny and charming, but this has happened to me. (GASP) We don’t have as much control over how we feel as we’d like to think we do and sometimes you see someone and BAM! Feelings just pounce on you, like a…like a TIGER! But we have even less control over how other people feel.

The most important thing to remember is that it isn’t a reflection on how good or bad you are. Sometimes our brains are jerks and tell us that if So-and-So doesn’t like us, then we shouldn’t like ourselves. Well that is dog poop! Don’t listen to it! You take that thought and you throw that right in the trash! Who knows what the other person is thinking, don’t over-analyze it, don’t get all macho (or girl-cho?) and become angry at them. They are not required to like you back. And odds are, there is someone around who does like you and hasn’t told you yet, and seeing you deal with rejection badly might totally turn them off.

Chin up. Literally. Walk tall, walk proud. Realize that you will be enough, NAY, you will be excessively awesome for someone else. And until that time comes you’re just gonna keep getting better and better. And maybe that person who wasn’t into you will come running crying “Wait! Wait! I see it now, you’re the most amazingest, there will never be one more cool, give me another chance!” and you’ll just tip your sunglasses and say “Sorry, that ship has sailed” and walk away in slo-mo.

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Posted in Dear Darling
Posted on August 12, 2015

Panlet

Last night, former Kensington Chronicle cartoonist Peter Pan mounted a production of his “original” play “Panlet” at the Neverland Community Theatre.  For those of you who were not fortunate enough to attend, we’ve archived the performance here:

CREDITS

WRITTEN/DIRECTED BY
Peter Pan

CAST

Peter Pan as PANLET
Michael Darling as DANGERPANTZ
John Darling as JOHN-THE-STERN
G. Harrison Lestrade as THE GHOST OF PANCULES
Teresa Delacruz as QUEEN GWENDOLYN
Rowan O’Connor as JAS HOOK
Morgan Skylights as NARRATOR

MUSIC BY
Fish Girl Pond

MAKEUP/SFX BY
Elsa Fairy

ANIMAL WRANGLER
Lorelai Rosewill

SPECIAL THANKS TO
The Neverland Community Theatre
The Jolly Roger Soda Ship

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Posted in Neighborhood Stories
Posted on August 7, 2015

Dear Darling – Long Distance Friendships

Hello! Long time reader, first time writer. So, how do you manage to stay close to people when long distance is a problem? A lot of my friends are going off to college far away, and I am terrified of growing apart because of distance. Thank you!
-Ysabelle
@fandomfeline

 

Hey Ysabelle! I too have been reading a long time so we’re basically the same person, I shall now call you Michael 2. Ironically, which is the correct use of that word, Michael 1 (me) has been having a very similar problem. My sister moved away because she got a job making oodles of money doing what she loves. Which is great, for her, I guess. And your friends are probably super excited about their new schools. It’s important to give the people we love room to be happy. Sometimes that means seeing them less and even talking to them less.

You can only control you Michael 2, so do your best to stay involved! Social media has given us the ability to be close to people we’ve never even met (did you know you can tweet @ the president??) so use those super powers to stay up to date with your friends! And don’t forget the mailman! Or woman. Mailperson! They don’t only deliver boring things like important looking tax papers addressed to your brother than you keep forgetting to give him. They also deliver packages!!! There is LITERALLY nothing more exciting than getting a package. Fill a small box with a few of their favorite things, little things to remind them that you still care, and mail it out.

But at the end of the day, the easiest way to make sure you don’t grow apart, is to talk. Answer your phone, return missed calls, reach out to them, and I promise Michael 2, it’ll make a big difference.

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Posted in Dear Darling
Posted on July 29, 2015

Growing Apart

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend my sister’s welcome home party, and I was struck by the melancholy realization that the older we get, the more and more quickly things change. I’ve known Wendy for literally as long as I can remember, and for so many years, whether we liked it or not, my siblings and I were inseparable. Dozens of photo albums’ worth of important milestones came and went in the blink of an eye, and I watched my siblings grow up so gradually that I was scarcely aware they were changing at all. But after she’s spent a mere 6 months, Wendy’s made herself a new life in New York City, filled with a cast of unfamiliar characters, and that realization has forced me to come to grips with just how much I’ve missed her.

Of course, Wendy isn’t the only person guilty of moving on. It’s shocking how quickly Neverland sans Wendy has become the new status quo, for all of us. Michael stepped in to replace Wendy at Dear Darling. Wendy’s duties as surrogate mother to Michael have fallen to me. Our friend Lily even took Wendy’s place as Peter’s girlfriend. The circle has closed, and everyone in it seems perfectly happy. And yet, I wonder how much of that is a carefully crafted self-delusion that we all share.

I’ve been so excited about Wendy’s book and all that that means for her that it’s blinded me to the reality of my own feelings about the void she left in all our lives. Much to my own surprise (and dismay), the reception Wendy received from both Michael and myself at her triumphant homecoming was downright chilly. And the bizarre notion of Wendy being a visitor in Neverland just brings out in stark relief how off kilter everything’s been in her absence. I’d hoped her return would bring us all closer together, but instead some things have come to light that threaten to drive a wedge between lifelong friends.

Now, change isn’t always a bad thing. I recently wrote an editorial about how Neverland’s own Jas Hook pulled himself up by his bootstraps and improved almost every aspect of his life. Though, in his case, he did have to move away and leave everything he knew behind in order to do so. And, to be clear, I don’t in any way begrudge Wendy her desire to forge her own destiny; she’s amazing, and I’m truly thrilled that the world at large is starting to see that. I just hope that Michael, Father and I factor somewhere into that success. And that our family and our friendships can stay the course in these stormy waters.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on July 16, 2015

Part Four – The Adventures of Pan Solo: The Shadow Falls

PAGE4-full

Pan Solo has to act fast in order to save the life of Emperor JM Barrie!

– Peter Pan is an independent illustrator and cartoonist who feels like working for The Kensington Chronicle is a never ending story.  He would very much like to have his own energy whip, and he doesn’t understand Tinkerbell’s real-life obsession with Grumpy Cat.

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Posted in Peter's Panels
Posted on June 17, 2014

Millennials in Neverland

Right around the time that most of the so-called millennials were partying like it was 1999, psychologist Jeffrey Arnett coined the term “emerging adulthood,” which, appropriately enough, would come to describe the epidemic of protracted adolescence that is quickly becoming the most defining trait of my generation. In the eyes of the world, the generation of people born after 1980 seem either unwilling or unable to grow up. Some people blame it on the overinvolvement of so-called “helicopter parents” who hover around their children so ubiquitously that they never learn how to deal with adversity themselves. On the other hand, many reactionaries are ready to diagnose our entire generation with narcissistic personality disorder. As with most important issues, I believe the whole thing is a lot more nuanced than that.

In a lot of ways, the youngest members of the Kensington Chronicle family are prototypical millennials. And in a few cases, it’s not even an exaggeration to call it a family, since, to the extent that we are employed at all, myself, my brother, Michael, and my sister, Wendy, all work at a newspaper which just happens to be owned by our dear father. You might think it’s a pretty cushy setup, being poster children for nepotism at our dad’s small business. And you’d be right, up to a point. But it doesn’t do much to impress upon us the importance of responsibility and financial independence. I talk a good game, but KensingtonChronicle.com – at least so far – is like the red-headed stepchild of the print publishing division. And I’m not saying that all of what my siblings and I do for the Chronicle is incredibly work intensive, but when you boil it down to dollars and cents, our salaries don’t amount to much more than a pittance, certainly nothing even remotely approaching a living wage. Wendy, Michael and I are all in our mid-to-late 20s, and the only way that we can afford a place of our own is because we’re splitting it three ways. And this isn’t because our father is a penny-pinching miser, either: it’s because there’s simply not enough money to go around.

I think this is a good example, in miniature, of our generation’s seeming inability to grow up. Secondary school is now a requirement for any young person who wants to be competitive in the shrinking job marketplace, a hurdle which was not present even a generation ago. The good news is, this makes us the most educated cohort of young Americans in our country’s history. But on the flip side, with our schooling now extending into our 20s at least, the onus of crushing financial-aid debt that many college students find themselves under at the outset of their post-college careers, and a recession-culture job market that underpays and undervalues their more-than-qualified workforce, is it any wonder that my generation appears to be floundering? That it takes us years to start families, not only because we can barely afford to take care of ourselves, but also because the rat-race to stay above the poverty line is so all-encompassing that it renders us ill-equipped, from the a time-management and emotional-growth standpoint, to even know how to carry on healthy romantic relationships?

In Neverland, it is particularly difficult to cast off the chains of childhood, due in no small part to the fact that magic is, in one form or another, part and parcel to our everyday lives. In fairy society, youth is famously a prerequisite for holding any position of power – a fact which our fairy friend Tinker Bell very vocally laments (though I dare not print her age, lest I see my own “emerging adulthood” cut tragically short). And Peter Pan, our cartoonist at the Chronicle… Okay, it’s possible he actually does have narcissistic personality disorder. But it’s equally possible that young people are simply narcissists as a matter of course, and that as our generation is forced to hold tight to the reins of perpetual adolescence, so, too, do we cling to that particular excess of youth. But fear not, people of Earth: we are not, in the final analysis, a generation of lost boys and girls. Your millennials are, in fact, growing up; It’s just that growing up isn’t what it used to be.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on June 12, 2014

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