Maybe It’s Me?

Oh Readers,

Success and failure are constructs that can suffocate us, and are far more rooted in personal perspective than actual clear-cut definitions. Your success isn’t my success, nor is it the other way around. Many of us share similar concepts of success and failures, and I’m sure somewhere someone reading this agrees with me when I say: this blog dances that line of failure.

When I went back to work, my time seemingly disappeared, and so I lost my way and my passion – as usually happens when I work. Writing is my passion and I want to do it professionally as my career desperately. So why is it so hard for me to put it first?

Oh yeah, because I am also passionate about being an advocate for those without voices and without confidence to use their voice. This is why I work with children, this is why I prioritize my child’s life and passions before my own. When I write I aim to give people something they can connect with and feel represented by, and so writing directly relates to how successful I feel when trying to give representation. The less I write, the less successful I feel.

So I don’t think about this blog unless I have a project to post. For example, I have a book review I have drafted on paper that I need to type and finalize for posting. I wanted desperately for this place to be my platform for original work, and now it’s just a way to get exposure for my work. I’ve had some exciting connections from this project but with its inactivity, those connections are simply that – connections. They are not leads, nor opportunities, and so I again find myself thinking of this blog as a failure.

In addition to being too caught up in the work I do each day with people I can share a smile and laugh with, I’ve been helping other writer friends and family through teaming up to take writing classes online with Coursera. Even though we have been auditing the class, we evaluate one another and push each other to be more than what we were on the last piece we wrote. I’ve had a ton of time to grow and improve in areas where I’ve been weak in the past. I am working on my writing but you cannot see it.

And that makes me feel like a failure too. There’s not many of you watching, if any anymore, but those that *are* watching see that I’ve disappeared. I don’t want to do that, and I don’t want this blog to end this way. Somehow, though, I don’t know how to dig myself out of a hole enough to genuinely promise more content.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m not going to be able to really focus on this the way I want until I have an income from my published work, or until my husband is making enough money for me to be a “homemaker” – if I ever choose to do only that with myself. I’ve always been a fan of seeing my work grow in front of my eyes, with others to share in the joy of success as defined by me, occasionally my peers. Perhaps that instant gratification is the addiction my anxiety has given me, or perhaps it is the product of my generation’s love of technology, but it is my obstacle to overcome.

I finish projects, but then I do nothing with them. I’ve a many pieces that just don’t feel right enough to be “that piece” that gives me my start in the world of literature and fiction. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s not – but no matter what I’m doing (or not doing) with this blog, know that this isn’t the end of it. It’s not dying – it’s just taking a really long nap.

(And maybe I should too).

Yours,

xoxo -ab

#13ReasonsWhyIAmHappy

I was just reading Virtual Vomit‘s Blog post titled 13 Reasons Why I’m Happy. I have not yet been able to reach an emotional place where I feel safe watching “13 Reasons Why” the show, but I’ve read the book. If you read my blog regularly, or have read anything of mine really, you’ll know that I try to raise awareness of as many social issues as possible with my writing (sparse as it has been). In particular, I have posts regularly about suicide and suicide prevention. For this reason I am going to post a list of #13ReasonWhyIAmHappy today.

If you are struggling with suicidal feelings I urge you to contact the suicide prevention hotline. They have qualified individuals to assist you with those emotions and guide you through this tough time in your life. I understand personally and deeply how difficult it can be to forget what it is to be happy. Overcoming those emotions is the hardest thing I have done and continue to do each day. These suicide prevention services go beyond a phone call. You can chat with represetnatives online too. Please, please consider visiting this website if you are dealing with these feelings.

And now… 13 Reasons Why I Am Happy (Right Now).

 

  1. I have a brilliant young man for a son who, in spite of his flaws, finds new ways to remind me that he is wildly compassionate and wise.
  2. In spite of being sick today I have been reasonably productive and still have several hours to achieve more of my writing tasks.
  3. My TARDIS blanket. No more explanation is necessary.
  4. Cologne is stronger than air freshener and much longer lasting. Spraying it on my curtains is allowing the breeze to blow the sweet musk scent of my husband all around the house.
  5. My accessibility to clean water and purifying options is such a privilege.
  6. The kindness of my husband to come home from work early and pick up our son from school today while I am sick.
  7. Books give me great happiness. The feel, the scent, the words – the possibilities!
  8. My three beautiful kittens that have come to love each other over the last year, proving that I was not wrong to bring my youngest one into our tiny family. Even when they get into spats, they lick each other clean and nestle together for naps.
  9. The nightcore genre of music inspires me with how creative people can be with content that already exists. It grounds me creatively with my work but also reminds me that there’s so much greatness that comes from those around us and from the work of others.
  10. Technology gives me outlets that I would not otherwise have access to in another place, generation, or universe. For that I am constantly able to work on something I love in one way or another.
  11. My home which is a customized ‘House of Horrors’ for me is something many people in the world are not able to have, and for that I choose to be grateful that I have a mostly safe place to live with my husband, son, and three cats.
  12. Trees. Trees give us oxygen, and they endure the changes in this world for far longer than those who first caused harm to them. Specifically, I would like to say I am happy for my tiny tree growing in a flower pot. His name is Harold and he is blooming for his second year this spring. I am proud of my little Harold.
  13. My family. Regardless of how they have affected me (positive, negative, neutral) their own choices have influenced mine. Though my success is neither lucrative nor boastful, it is mine. For that I am happy with where I have come to be and I am excited for the opportunities that still lie ahead – hidden by the shadows of my present obstacles.

 

Honestly, there is much more to be happy for in my life. Ten years ago, I never would have believed you if you were to share my story now. I would not have thought I would even be alive. Ten years ago, I didn’t know I was pregnant at fifteen. Ten years ago, I thought eventually I would cut too deep and end the constant suffering within and without. I never would have thought my then severe depression, anxiety, and insomnia would shrink. Even with my struggles now, I can cope without medication where I could not even just five years ago.

Now, I face other problems and it is a battle not to sink back into those depths. Those concerns that I could collapse into old habits is always at the edge of my happiness. It threatens me anytime I am faced with an obstacle I fear I cannot overcome. It is this reality that keeps me from delving into the film adaptation of a book I proclaim as being incredibly eye-opening to me as a teenager struggling the way Hannah Baker struggled. Books raised me. Books are my parentage and my guidance. I read to understand what it is I cannot see understand on my own.

So, I challenge you as a reader to list in the comments 13 Reasons Why YOU Are Happy right now, today, this very minute.

#13ReasonsWhyIAmHappy

XoXo

-ab

Book Review: The Wild Robot

Title:               The Wild Robot

Author:           Peter Brown

Illustrator:     Peter Brown

Publisher:      Little Brown & Company

Published:     2016

Genre(s):        Middle Grade; Children’s Fiction; Science Fiction

Pages:              277

Read Time:    5 Days (Casual Reading)

 

 

.::Publisher’s Summary::.

             Can a robot survive in the wilderness?

When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. She has no idea how she got there or what her purpose is–but she knows she needs to survive. After battling a fierce storm and escaping a vicious bear attack, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to adapt to her surroundings and learn from the island’s unwelcoming animal inhabitants.

 

.::Personal Summary::.

             Circumstances that cannot be controlled push Roz off of her cargo ship to a water-locked island home to a variety of critters set in their ways. Built to adapt, Roz wakes when curious otters hit her power button. Now she must learn to live in the wilderness.

But will it come easily? With a database of information available in an instant, how will Roz apply this data to her new life as a Wild Robot? Will the animals accept her as one of their own?

 

.::AVERAGE RATING::.

*5 out of 5*

The review of this book is based on 4 pre-determined categories (Technical, Creative, Recommendation, and Personal). These areas, unless otherwise specified, are reviewed as objectively as possible for the benefit of readers. This is the average rating between those categories. Below the line are the detailed explanations for the ratings of each category:

 

  • Technical (4/5)
  • Creative (5/5)
  • Recommendation (5/5)
  • Personal, Biased (5/5)

 5-stars

  Continue reading “Book Review: The Wild Robot”

A Mother’s Help

THE SOUND OF BREAKING GLASS stopped her in her tracks. Dana promised her daughter that she could have the house all to herself this weekend while she stayed with grandma for the evening. In her old age, however, she locked herself out of the house. Sneak in – get keys – sneak out – that was the objective.

That was the objective, anyway.

But the sound of breaking glass stopped her.

There was another voice coming from the kitchen when Dana gt inside, but she couldn’t just waltz in unannounced. It would violate the trust that she’d built up with her temperamental daughter. For weeks anything would hurt her feelings and set her off into a fit of swearing or crying. Dana wrote it off at teenage hormones, a flare of aggressive independence. In just one year, after all, she would be going off to college.

So Dana agreed with her daughter, “Alaina, you can stay home alone for the weekend every so often. Grandma wouldn’t mind the extra company.” It was an arrangement that would have been made naturally anyway. Dana’s mother has been getting forgetful and disorganized. Soon she would not be able to live alone anymore. There is an in-between stage and Dana knew that it would be weekend visits. Then nightly dinners, and so on, and so on…

The second voice was familiar; too familiar. Dana was able to identify it as Alaina’s boyfriend: Roger. He was a kind enough young man, but rarely ever wanted to do anything social with her. The mother always found it a bit strange. Still, her daughter insisted that he was just a bit shy and a homebody. Most of their relationship has been spent watching movies and making food runs together. He’d never so much as invited her to a school dance.

Needless to say, Dana didn’t exactly want Roger to be a permanent fixture in her daughter’s life. The breaking glass paired with shouting only reassured her gut feeling that he was not the right person for her.

“You said you fucking ordered the food!” Dana inched around the house in a way only Alaina could share mastery in doing, and weaseled her way into the bathroom between the kitchen and bathroom. From there she heard the fight deepen and another glass shatter.

“I thought it submitted the order! Please don’t break my mother’s dishes. These were gifts from her aunt!” And they probably were, most of the dishes Dana owned were from her mother’s best friend. She’d been a better aunt than any of her real ones, and so every silly dish she sent for holidays was kept and used regularly. It made Dana’s life as a single mom a little less serious, and it was something Alaina always thought was pretty cool too.

“You’re going to make a shitty wife. You can’t cook and you can’t place a food order. No wonder nobody else wanted to date you!” Dana resisted the urge to intervene, but instead dialed 9-1-1. She whispered her anonymous complaint as she snuck back out of the house and went into the car where her mother was waiting.

A noise ‘at the neighbors,’ she’d asked Dana, whatever for – it was so quiet outside. Dana explained that Alaina was having a bit of trouble and she wanted to give her a free ticket out of the mess. The discussion about Roger would be a private one, after the police carted him away.

And so she drove her car around the block and waited at a safe distance for officers to arrive. Dana watched and waited until finally Roger was escorted off of the property, in handcuffs no less, before calling her daughter on the telephone.

“Hi mom,” her voice understandably deflated.

“Grandma locked herself out of the house. I think we’ll be crashing at home instead. Sorry to ruin your weekend alone.” Dana said in her maternal tone, the one she used to apologize and comfort simultaneously. She is surprised, just slightly, when Alaina laughed in reply.

In a quick breath, “I don’t want to be alone tonight anyway.”

Dana knew before she got back home that Alaina would reveal the truth about Roger – the dark, nasty truth – and she would never know that it was her own mother that saved her. That would be okay, though, because a mom never needs recognition. She only needs her child to be safe.


Credit to the prompt generator I used when looking for inspiration for this story.

Also, if you are ever in an abusive relationship, please consider using this website to make the change you deserve in your life. There are one-on-one chat services available and resources to assist you during this difficult time of making a positive change.

The Worst Dinner?

A dish of lies, I say!

There is little more in the world worse than being tricked. My friends had never taken my vegetarianism seriously. One friend in particular was having a big party for Thanksgiving and invited some of his friends. I rarely turned down a social invitation, and as such, I attended with enthusiasm. After all, he had assured me there would be options for “my type of diet.”

When I arrived there was a plate set for me. I questioned the source of protein, asking if it was the tofu he promised me would be available. I even offered to cook it myself when I arrived so long as it was made available. No, he insisted! He insisted that I be treated like a guest. I took the plate as he insisted that it was definitely tofu. Sometimes when prepared one cannot tell the difference between tofu and some meats just looking at it. In this case, I could not be sure due to the dressings and sides. I trusted his word to be honest and went to the extra dining room to enjoy my meal with friends.

Or people I thought were friends.

I was so hungry I didn’t even notice everyone watching with baited breath as I took my first bite of the tofu. As I breathed in the area before even getting the morsel into my mouth, I knew. This was not tofu. I thought it would be rude to spit it out so I swallowed, silently praying to my god that I wouldn’t die. Afterwards I swiftly pushed it to the side and worked very slowly through my vegetables.

As soon as the room cleared and eyes were not waiting for me to “enjoy” the “tofu” again, well, I did what any angry teenager would do! I marched to his parents in the main dining room as the schmoozed with friends-of-friends. Wine glasses clutched lazily in their hands – I announced what their son had done to me. They only seemed partially upset, but generally indifferent to the shenanigans of their forever-a-brat child. If that would not put a fire in their hearts, I could think of something else that most certainly would capture their attention.

“Oh, and did you know you son is selling meth to half of the basketball team? He brags that he has been making in the attic.” I did not wait for their response. Surely news of my friend’s punishment will be the juiciest social news for a week or two. It was immature, unquestionably, but I like to think I was able to save their son’s life that day.

Tell Me, What Could Possibly Happen?

A raindrop could fall in the eye of an old man picking dandelions from his garden. He could fall backwards and trip on the hoe he forgot to pick up (again). His leg could break in those few seconds. He would have to go the hospital by car with his nervous wife who won’t stop crying, surely.

They would take him back into a room and check his injury. They could find a mass in his leg that is concerning, something he probably had dismissed as a part of his arthritis. They would take a biopsy.

A week later, because of that single second when a raindrop startled a feeble old man, he could receive a call from his oncologist. That old man would be reassured that they caught his leukemia early and it would unlikely that these are the last of his days.

Book Review: Everything, Everything

Title:               Everything, Everything

Author:           Nicola Yoon

Publisher:      Alloy Entertainment

Published:     2015

Genre(s):        Young Adult

Pages:              369

Read Time:    8 Days (Recreational Reading Pace)

 

.::Publisher Summary::.

            My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

 

.::Personal Summary::.

            Madeline (Maddy) Whittier has SCID, which is a medical disorder that literally makes her allergic to everything. In order to live her life, she reads books over and over again to experience it from different perspectives as she grows up. Even though her interpretations change, her situation does not. She is still living inside of her white walls while her doctor mother and full-time nurse, Carla, care for her each and every day.

Maddy’s entire life is begins changing when a family moves in next-door and their son, Olly, captures Madeline’s attention. She studies the entire family’s schedule and forms a friendship with Olly through the Internet. As the attraction becomes more apparent, Carla takes a chance on Olly and lets him into Maddy’s life.

Once she meets Olly in person, Maddy refuses to accept the life she has been living. Everything is changing and she learns so much about herself, love, the world – and what her diagnosis really means.

 

AVERAGE RATING

*3 out of 5*

 

3-stars

 

The review of this book is based on 4 pre-determined categories (Technical, Creative, Recommendation, and Personal). These areas, unless otherwise specified, are reviewed as objectively as possible for the benefit of readers. This is the average rating between those categories. Below the line are the detailed explanations for the ratings of each category:

 

  • Technical (4/5)
  • Creative (2/5)
  • Recommendation (3/5)
  • Personal, Biased (3/5)

 

Continue reading “Book Review: Everything, Everything”