Alyssa Sellers


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Ready to Write

2014 Rose Fest and  more 116

When I was leaving full-time professional ministry for the second time I read Fahrenheit 451 for the first time. A speech given at the end of the novel pretty much summed up what I felt about my existence at that moment (I’d say spoilers but it’s on you, this bad boy’s been around for decades):

“Now, let’s get on upstream,” said Granger. “And hold onto one thought: You’re not important. You’re not anything. Someday the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spiting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing you can say, we’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And someday we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddamn steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up. Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.”*

I’d written a memoir about surviving physical and emotional hurricanes and had secured representation by a reputable Christian literary agency and hoped that it would only be a matter of time before my manuscript was published.   Continue reading

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Knowing I Don’t Have to Know

Joy Ride New OrleansThere I was, ugly crying on the cypress wood floor in my uncle’s home in New Orleans. It was the summer of 2002 and, after watching a seemingly innocuous movie, I was an emotional wreck.

Not just because in “Life as a House” an adorable young Anakin Skywalker stood in the pouring rain and fervently cried out for Alyssa, the witty and wise girl-next-door, who happened to share my name as well as some of my pretty fabulous character traits. (Yes, yes, I know. Hayden Christensen was acting in the role of an entirely different character named Sam, but to me he was still the promising young padawan – you know, before he goes all dark side of the force – only NOW with bonus blue hair. Swoon.) No, I was sobbing because Anakin/Sam and the other characters in the film were ultimately searching for redemption, love, and an understanding one’s self, all the things I had journeyed to New Orleans to find.

And because I was failing miserably in my search.

My movie postmortem didn’t start with me lying in a puddle of tears on the floor. It started with me sitting upright on the step at the top of a staircase, looking out through a giant window at a warm summer sunset, and holding a pen and yellow paper tablet in my hands prepared to write a veritable masterpiece of emotion inspired by the movie I had just experienced.

As you may have surmised, that didn’t happen. Continue reading


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Cookies and Sadness Spirals

COOKIES2Let’s talk about sadness spirals, shall we.

It starts out innocently enough; click on a job search page and up pops a dialogue box about cookies. The web based ones of course, but now all I can think about is buttery, floury, gooey goodness of edible cookies. With incredible persistence, I move on and search for jobs but only after tweeting about it.

Then after a couple of applications are in the bag, or recruiters’ in-boxes as the case may be, I start searching for cookie recipes. Thanks to the kindness of a good friend I have a jar of green M&Ms that are desperate to be in cookies and ultimately in MY BELLY.

*scanning online recipe*

Flour  – check
Brown sugar – check
Eggs – check
All ingredients – shockingly – check Continue reading


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Yelling with Strangers: The Magic of New Year’s Eve

New Year's EveI guess I could have stayed home last year/night and welcomed the New Year in solitude and contemplation; but that probably wouldn’t have been what happened.

I would have either A. fallen asleep before midnight because I worked nine hours at the USPS or B. watched the New Year’s Eve celebrations on TV and lamented my singleness. You know, because television and movies tell us something magical should happen on New Year’s Eve.

Instead I contacted my friend Jessica, we put on cute festive dresses and we went out; first to dinner at Zeus Cafe where my friend Lori was serving for the evening and then to the Boiler Room for Karaoke. And that’s when it got weird. Not the normal partying with Teletubbies, Care Bears, Elvis Impersonators and Nearly Nudes Portland weird, (which I’ve done and can totally handle) but frat party karaoke weird.

I’ve done a decent bit of karaoke in this town and never encountered a crowd such as this. I’ve also never been hit on with such frequent ferociousness, either. Continue reading


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Promising Possibilities

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In John’s first letter to the new followers of Jesus he writes, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.”

How promising is this?! Oh, the possibilities! I am fairly certain we don’t ever fully grasp what an absolutely incredible promise this is. Most probably because we don’t fully grasp who God is.

God created everything.

God has the power to control everything.

God knows everything.

God, like an good parent, wants the best for his children.

Now, we as humans are certainly not the best gauges of what is best. Sometimes we even fail at being good gauges of what is adequate. Continue reading


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The Office: Finding Comedy In the Midst of Tragedy

theoffice6This week a natural disaster devastated a community. I know what that feels like. It feels absolutely horrible. This week I was going to write an entry about what The Office meant to me during my long recovery from Hurricane Rita. When I saw the devastation in Oklahoma, I reconsidered.

Then scrolling through twitter I saw a tweet from Patton Oswalt, presumably in response to someone telling him he was being insensitive:

So after seeing this I thought, “I will indeed write about The Office because in tragedy we need comedy. Otherwise, why go on?” So here I go: Continue reading


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Making Peace with Psalm 23

greenpasturesandstillwaters

Where I grew up most, kids learned the 23rd Psalm. I think they had to in catechism. Where I grew up, all the school buses altered their routes to include a stop at the Catholic Church on Mondays for catechism classes. Because of where I grew up, I heard that Psalm recited as rote and therefore I didn’t much care for that Psalm. Also it talked about valleys of death and rods and staffs, and hearing that over and over and over again sorta creeped me out.

Where I live now, I do full time ministry through my church by encouraging and supporting university students and other transients of my downtown Portland neighborhood in a variety of ways. To do this work, I raise my own support. I sorta suck at this aspect, but that’s another story for another time. And now I have an agent for my book so I’m retooling my book proposal which means an enormous amount of research and writing and editing and feelings of inadequacy. Again, another story for another time. And I also have a life full of relationships with people not connected to anything mentioned above that I try to maintain. I guess you could say I’ve got some stuff going on. Continue reading